Thursday 29 November 2012

Unexpected Blessings: Day 29 #NHBPM

I'm going to try and be brief for once and pick my top 3 unexpected blessings of being ill.

1. Appreciate the small things.

Without a doubt this is an unexpected blessing of being chronically ill. I used to think I did appreciate the small things before I became ill, but it is only now that I realise I truly do. There is much that is lost when you become ill that it can take a while to not only appreciate the small things, but actually see them in the first place.

These days I see beauty all around me and take joy in life where ever I can find it. I started doing The View From My Couch  series to both force myself to change my view, and to share that joy with others. As I said in the first of these:

"Every day we overlook the beauty that surrounds us.  We seek outside ourselves and our regular environment to find beauty and excitement.  We miss the small stuff.  The little moments that are all the more precious for their simplicity.  There is beauty all around us, if we take the time to notice.  If we take the time to refocus our vision until it naturally seeks out that beauty".

For me I rarely leave the house and am often stuck inside. And yet I find beauty and joy all around me. Be it a warm toasted fruit bun, a little bunch of flowers from my yard, being able to pot up a plant, the smell of daphne near our driveway or sitting quietly with my dogs in the garden, they all bring me joy. Some days simply being able to wash my hair without needing to lie on the bathroom tiles afterward, or managing to do 5mins on my minicycle are wondrous miracles I can fully appreciate.

2. Sorting the wheat from the chaff.

One thing that was hard early on was the reactions of my family and friends. Initially people were concerned but that quickly dissipated as time went on. People who I thought would stand by me simply drifted away and some who I didn't expect to care stepped up in their place. These days my circle of friends and even family are far smaller, but the quality is much higher.

Being chronically ill forces you to re-evaluate the relationships in your life. When I think about the time I would have wasted on those fair-weather friends/family, who if truth be told were never really friends, I am glad that this illness pushed me to see them for who they truly are.  I've written about this a fair bit on the blog.

"Bob has sent many of my "friends" running to the hills. Can't blame them I guess. Bob is a bit of a prick after all, but hey they get him for an hour or two I get him for life, suck it up you spineless gits! (Sorry still a little raw about a few people). I guess some people just have the constitution and moral fortitude of a wet tissue. I could bitch about the fair weather friends in my life (or no longer in my life as the case may be), but I don't want to give them any more of my time than they have given me. I will however, send one last big raspberry out into the cosmos to make contact with those fleet of foot "friends". Feel that raspberry, FEEL IT!!!!! .......................................... Ahhhhhhh, deep breath. That feels better". (Free the Twins, 2009)

I try and surround myself with positive and supportive people these days. I have little in the way of energy reserves and I'm not going to waste them on others who either give me nothing in return or drain me to the core. Pre-sick I didn't really notice the takers in my life. These days they are long gone and I can definitely feel the lack of their presence in my life. It feels pretty darn good.

It has also meant that I have met lots of great people who I would never have met should I have never become ill. I have found some truly good people both in real life and on the net, both of whom I think of as my dear friends. People who get me and what I'm living with and I don't have to hide who I am. People who I support and who support me in turn. True friends across the globe who have special places in my heart. And when you find those people you realise just how crappy and false a lot of those other people were.

3. Freedom.

(Why yes I am wearing a Batman (or Batmum) costume in bed)

Being ill has given me unexpected freedom to be true to me. It took me a long while to realise this one, but I've noticed over the last few years I have put more value on what I want and don't really give a crap what anyone else thinks. I often wonder if I would have done my zombie photo shoot before I became ill. I've always been a little left of centre but haven't always shared that with others. Since I became ill that has changed.

"For me being chronically ill has in a sense made me feel freer. Sounds crazy I know, but it's true. My life is not what it once was. In fact it's been turned upside down, inside out and I'm still not quite sure where, or if, it has landed. But what that means is, all bets are off.

My body is on the decline. Something that has become far more apparent over the last year. As I mentioned in this post, that realisation gives a certain level of release. Instead of thinking of all the reasons not to do something, I give myself permission to say "Go for it". In many cases it's small things like sitting on my couch wearing my Dorothy shoes because they make me happy. Or wearing my bright purple compression stockings with shorts and sparkly silver flats to the doctors. Or even wearing a pink feather boa in my profile picture. I really don't care whether people think I am a complete nutter, because at this point in the game, doing things that make me happy is far more important than worrying about what others will think" (The Zombiefication of a Rusty Hoe, 2012). 

It's strange to think of the unexpected blessings that have come with illness. I've lost a lot over the last 6yrs and no doubt there'll be other losses along the way. But I made a choice a long time ago to find the joy in life. It's not always easy and there are times where it all gets too much and I feel overwhelmed by the sheer burden of my ill health and the uncertainty it brings. But even stuck in hospital in pain or scared, I put on my Wonder Woman t-shirt and my sparkly red slippers, and listen to AC/DC (Jailbreak is a personal favourite when stuck in hospital). Because that's just the way I roll, baby. And because life is too short to not pause, take that deep breath, and re-evaluate the way you look at the world around you. Blessings are all around, just sometimes you have to be a little creative and challenge your preconceptions.

Michelle :)

I love Nina Simone and her version of Feeling Good is my favourite by far.


  1. I love this post. Your three 'blessings' of being ill are some of life's most important lessons that we could all benefit from. I have similar feelings about growing older; there is not enough time left in life to waste it on fair-weather friends or worrying about what other people think.
    Thanks for making the effort to write so many interesting blogs over this month, I've looked forward to them.

  2. Thanks so much Mary, I'm glad you've enjoyed what I've been writing. It's been a tough month but also a good challenge at the same time.

    I do wonder if I would have found these blessings at this point if I hadn't become sick? It seems somehow appropriate that I am in the head space I am now with 40 coming up next year. Now to try and teach my kids the same lessons. :)

  3. As I sit here preparing for yet another trip to 'Club Med' (aka hospital) eating a block of salted dark chocolate with my border collie faithfully by my bed-side, I am glad I have found your blog. I get it and I am so glad there is someone else who writes about the things I think and feel! As I read your work it was like you were pulling words out of my head! YES YES YES. I look forward to reading more of your posts. ~J x


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