I’m not very well today, but acknowledging that, and saying I’m ill, is something I find hard to do.
I’m used to identifying as ‘disabled’ within the context of the Social Model. To me, saying I’m a Disabled Person makes me feel proud and strong. I’ve always been clear that disability and illness are not the same thing, and that’s not changed, but my body has.
For the last year and a half I’ve been managing changes in my health, with nausea, pain and fatigue becoming a constant part of my life. Sometimes this is manageable and sometimes it makes me feel very unwell. I’m having to be careful about how I spend my energy, giving detailed thought to what I do, when I do it, and for how long.
I woke up in a lot of pain. My body felt heavy, and the hum of unpleasant sensations quivered continuously along my spine. The ache in my body felt as if it was welding me to the mattress. I knew immediately that I wasn’t going to be able to do anything other than lie exactly where I was.
There was something quite liberating about accepting this. I don’t often listen to my body – I’m much more likely to be found forcing it to comply with what my mind wants to do. But today, staying in bed didn’t feel like giving in, and I didn’t really feel sad in the way I have before. It simply felt necessary.
Adjusting to what my body needs is a learning process. I’m having to adapt to a different pace, to practice prioritising, and to making energy trades.
The most difficult thing to change seems to be my mind-set. For years I’ve been able to keep going, getting tired but ploughing on. Understanding that this no longer works has been one of the biggest challenges and it’s why this day in bed feels like a breakthrough.