Like many people at the moment, I’m not really sure what this feeling inside me is. The world has been hit by something that no-one knows how to control effectively let alone stop. People are dying; others are extremely poorly and then there are those who feel fine and believe they are invincible. Not going to lie, 4 years ago I would have been the latter. But not now.
I’ve always known that having ME was a serious situation to find myself in, but with little medical assistance available and some people not believing just how poorly I am, I’ve never fully accepted just how weak my body is. Until now. I am classed as one of those people who are under 70 and have an underlying health issue that makes me vulnerable. If I, like anyone else with ME, was to catch the Corona Virus, I could end up in a very bad way. I won’t lie – its scared me a wee bit.
I had a cold in November last year. It was a nasty one and was doing the rounds. Most people had it with them for a couple of weeks. It floored me and I’ve still got a sore nose that likes to run 4 months on. On that basis – I’m definitely not taking any chances. I’m following advice and I’m social distancing and will only venture out to the supermarket when I absolutely have to.
Usually, living with my ME I feel at a disadvantage to others. I can’t do what I used to, my brain isn’t great most of the time and my body likes a lot of sleep. But at the moment, I’ve got the upper hand! I’ve been social distancing in one way or another for years now and in particular the last few months as I’ve not been well enough to work or do much. So I feel that my ME has made me a kind of expert in this way of living and can pass on some of my tips (no doubt you’ll have read similar else where).
So, here we go:
Tip 1 – Get in to a routine (your body will thank you as well as your head).
Having a routine gives your body the opportunity to feel normal. You have a daily routine normally, so this won’t be weird. I’ve struggled with routine as my body has it’s own ideas. But at the moment, I’ve managed to get in to a routine of waking at about 10am; chat to my folks at 10:30am (this wakes up the brain); out of bed just after 11am (taking my supplements etc to get my day properly started); potter around & watch tv; 5pm dinner and a tablet (its rock & roll) then head to my bed around 8/9pm to stretch out and shut the brain down. Takes me a while to get to sleep so that varies. Doing this though I feel like my head is in a better place. I’ve managed to get up and out my bed – which is an achievement in itself. Plus I’ve not fully wasted the day sleeping.
Tip 2 – Do your chores
Doing chores sounds so boring, but you’ll be happy you’ve done it. It keeps your house or flat nice and tidy which can help to hold back cabin fever. It won’t feel like everything is getting on top of you and that you’re not achieving anything. I break my chores down over the week and do a little each day. Its great because it means I always have something to do and I’m also not overdoing it. Win win!
Tip 3 – Do something each day that makes you smile
Yip – I know – you’re thinking I’ve gone a bit mad here! But honestly, each day I do something that makes me smile and it really keeps my spirits up. It can be something small like looking at photos on your phone; texting a friend; putting something silly out on FaceBook or just asking Alexa to fart! For those of you with children, do something fun with them – I bet that makes you smile. It helps to remind that you that the days are not always dark and that you can always find some light.
Tip 4 – Set yourself a project
I find this one particularly useful. Its gives me purpose, a reason to get up in the morning. It can be any kind of project you want from decorating a room, to learning a new craft, to doing something in the garden. For me, in the past I’ve set myself projects such as getting all my Christmas shopping done by a certain date; planning the celebrations for my recent 40th Birthday (which reminds me I must change my bio!) and even starting a wee online business to sell some photos and crafts that I do (a work in progress!). Think of something you’ve always wanted to do but not had time. If your not going to work, you now have your commute time back so use it wisely.
Tip 5 – Learn something
Now this doesn’t mean that you have to learn a new skill or swat up on knowledge. Simply, it means do something that will push your brain a bit, helping it to tick over, I’ve been taking part in free online webinars that are linked to my little business project, improving myself and figuring out who I am. These are all to help me with my new identity as I have my buddy ME to take in to account now. There are loads of avenues to try and plenty of rabbit holes to go down. Maybe you’ve been stuck in a rut at work and not sure if you’re in the career you want to be in – use this time to look in to it and find out if your dreams can come true. Or maybe you’ve always want to find out more about a particular topic – go for it! At this weird time, you’ve got nothing to lose.
Tip 6 – Keep in touch
This one is a bit backwards for this particular time as we’re being told to stay away from others, but its key to still do. We can keep in touch with people in so many different ways now whether it be through video calling, texting, calling or even sending a letter. Make sure to keep in touch with people you care about. Its good for you and its good for them. Once this is all over, you’ll be glad you didn’t completely distance yourself.
Tip 7 – Let go of what you can’t control
This is probably the most important one to do, but also the hardest. We all need to make sure our stress levels don’t hit the roof at this time. We need to make sure we look after our mental health as well as our physical health. A lot of people get anxious and stressed (I used to be one) over things that they have absolutely no way of controlling or influencing. Accept your limitations. Accept that this corona virus has its own agenda. Accept that we’re not the scientists that are going to stop it and hopefully kill it off. We can’t control that. But we can control our approach to it. If we social distance and self isolate then we won’t become part of the statistics of the infected. So, worry about yourself and your loved ones making sure you are following advice, but let go of the impact its having elsewhere. As I say this is so hard to do. I had to accept that my body is never going to work like it used to and that other people will have an opinion on that. I can control what I do with my body so I work at it; as for peoples opinions about it – well I don’t even bother thinking about them. They can think whatever they like, I can’t control that and its their problem if they want to judge without having the full facts.
Tip 8 – Stay true to you
Times have changed. The world is changing. You will feel different. Just make sure that no matter what, you stay true to who you are as a person. Your core being won’t change. Your moral views won’t change. You may start to open up to things more and appreciate the smaller things more – but that was always in you, you’re just letting it out. For me, I’ve been through this. Being diagnosed with a life long, debilitating illness with no cure or treatment really makes you sit up and pay attention. I’ve changed. But in my heart I’m still me. I’m still someone that friends can turn to if they need help or a good laugh; I’m still bubbly and enthusiastic about life (just need to do things in a different way) and I still smile with the same genuine smile (you can see it in my eyes). Be you.
None of us know how long this virus is going to affect our lives. We don’t even know the full extent to how its going to impact us. We need to keep our heads high, follow advice and as human beings (once all the selfish people stop panic buying) we can get through this. To steal the words from Elton John, I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words, how wonderful life is… So make sure to sing Your Song during these weird times.