Thursday, 15 October 2015

Up and Dressed

(Trying to do my best Delvene Delany. Look at this fabulous clocktower.)

I've been getting dressed since last month. I've missed a couple of days here and there where my body was more blancmange than viscera and bone. But since September I've been dressed more days than not. I hit 17 days in a row which is the most in, well I can't really recall how long, because it's been that long. I made a decision to get dressed each day. Preferable with a shower. Unlikely to include hair brushing. And not in any way likely to include make up.

It sounds small and ridiculous to mention. But I know that a whole host of readers will understand. Not just those with a form of Dysautonomia. But a whole host of people who live with chronic illnesses and disability that can make even the most commonplace tasks difficult. Time was getting dressed was just something that I did. I would dress for work, and for uni. I'd dress to take my kids to school or go to coffee. To potter in the garden and do housework. For most people it is an act with no thought. Maybe some irritation at having to dress in a certain way for work. Or a pain to get their hair dried and styled for work while multi-tasking making school lunches, looking for a misplaced shoe, feeding pets and making sure the iron is off. Pyjamas on weekends or on holidays were bliss. A treat to be savoured.

Recently I participated in Helen Edwards', from Recycled Interiors, 30 Days to a Happy Healthy Home challenge. When I say participated, I did bits and pieces that gave me the biggest bang for the buck, eg filled my home with flowers, and did the rest vicariously though the many fabulous photos people shared. But there was one day where the task was to stay in pjs all day. I looked at it and felt absolutely no connection to the task. I am in pjs most of the time. And their wearing didn't represent happiness. I read her piece on pyjama days and tried to pick where that simple act had moved from joy to chore. But there was no single event. Just a gradual movement. It snuck up when I wasn't looking. It was easy. And suddenly there I was. Miserable in pjs, not even good pjs, but sad comfortable flannelette that really should have been binned a long time ago.

In 2011 I was lucky enough to win a shopping spree with the lovely Phoebe from Lady Melbourne (more here). My request back then was to find pj alternatives. Fashionable comfort. I knew back then that I was slipping. And I needed a boost and Phoebe and the stylist delivered. I needed it back then and I need it now. Bad news, new problems and a perceptible decline have weighed me down. More than I want to admit. And the spiral down was beginning again.

I have written a lot about my love of fashion over the years (eg herehere, here, here, here, here, here). I've gone out of my way to find fashionable compression stockings and comfortable clothing. I applaud, Karolyn Gehrig's #HospitalGlam initiative. I even used fashion to raise funds for Dysautonomia research. There is a need to hold onto my old self who loved fashion, within the constraints of my health and my non-existent budget. But I get stuck at times.

When my body is hurting and my heart along with it, doing becomes difficult. My clothes tend to reflect my mood and my mood reflect my clothing. So I made a decision. I decided to get dressed. Not only get dressed, but take a photo to prove to myself that I did indeed get dressed. I'm not sure how many days I've done it now. In a sense the number doesn't matter. When I look through my Instagram I see photo after photo of me dressed. It reminds me that I achieved something. A small something but a something all the same. It's surprising what that does. It tells me I can. It tells me that I am still here. It tells me that I am living life. A changed life. But a life nontheless. I look at the pictures and there is a hint of the old me. A hint of what still exists under the layers of illness and exhaustion.

A friend asked me if it was worth the effort. And the simple answer is, yes. For me it is wholly worth the effort.

Will others agree? Some will and some wont. We all have to find what works for us. What is worthy of the effort. What it gives back.

For me getting dressed and remembering fashion is worth the effort. It helps my mood. It reminds me of me. There has been a joy in uncovering clothes I had forgotten. Clothes that have stories and hold memories. I have been a bargain hunter for years. $20 was always my magical figure and one I still use. The better the bargain the more satisfaction I felt. I don't pretend I have style. And I've never really followed trends. But it's not about that. It's an expression of me. And in the end it brings me joy.

(All frocked up and occasional places to go besides my laundry or house entryway.)

At a time when writing and 90% of other parts of my life are difficult it is a small act that is achievable and meaningful. For me it works.

Plus, I want to get back to a place where being in my pjs is a luxury, that I can enjoy.

Michelle

If you want to follow along or join in, please do. You can find me on Instagram @michelle_roger (As it's sort of evolved organically I haven't really thought of a hashtag though I've been using #upanddressed as that's pretty much my achievement.)

Given I've just seen the David Bowie exhibit at ACMI this seems an appropriate musical accompaniment. Go along if you can it's fantastic.

3 comments:

  1. You look lovely.

    I get this. My issue is showering and washing my hair. I schedule that shit in. My whole week is so carefully structured that anything extra - a longer work day, coffee with a friend, an unexpected visitor - can throw my entire week out of whack and then I won't have the energy to shower and wash my hair on Thursday night so OMG I will have to get up early on Friday morning but I have to work on Friday and it all goes to shit.

    People just don't get it. But I know you do.

    So the fact that you are up and dressed every day for 17 days in a row is freaking AWESOME and I am proud of you. And I am off to check out your instagram, again.

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  2. Hi Michelle,

    Yes to pleasure. Yes to Life. Yes to seeing yourself and some hint of the fashion lover. Yes to making whatever little change makes a difference in our lives and that is doable within our range. I found my comfort in a 3 layer combo with a soft, comfy underlayer; a just-the-right-thickness long sleeve mid layer (that my husband teases me about because he finds it ugly - so i compromised and got some in colors that are fun) and a fleece as my 3rd sweater / top layer. It feels like pjs but is actually clothes and it is good enough. At some point I'll find something to upgrade to but for now, this is where pleasure meets comfort :-) and ease. So happy for you - 17 days in a row - Woot!!! And I LOVE that you are taking pics.

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  3. Getting dressed IS an accomplishment. Getting dressed 17 days in a row is freakin' awesome.
    And I luv the yellow dress.

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All who are lovely enough to comment should be showered with cup cakes, glitter and macarons. I promise to use my spoon bending mind powers to try and get that happening for all who are lovely enough to share their words. Those who go the extra step to share posts should really get a free unicorn. Or at least the gift of finding the shortest and quickest line at the supermarket on a regular basis. xx