Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The little things

It's always the little things that remind you of a person. This week it was Chinese ready meals in Waitrose. I started to think about how Amy and I had discussed the coming of our Waitrose, the availability of yummy food on the way home and how I could have got Chinese meals and taken them to Amy's house (Waitrose is on the way) on the bus and we could have had fun sharing out the goodies, laughing and trying not to get yarn muddled up in the food.

So now I feel sad that we aren't going to do that. Things have reached a point (it will be 3 months this Friday since she died) when I think I'm expected to be ok and to have "got over it". Much of the time I'm fine, surprisingly fine, sometimes I worry too fine, that I never really cared enough or that I'm callous. But other times there is a tremendous feeling of loss and I realise that instead of talking to my best friend I'm talking to a computer. I also worry that I will forget Amy, I learnt so much from her. Even now at life group (church small group for those of you who don't speak Anglican) it feels strange that she's not there, that she'll never be there again.

All this gets to me most when I'm most vulnerable, generally when I'm alone and feeling lonely. I am trying not to mope, not to allow myself to wallow in the poor-mes, but it's hard, as I'm human and also because I'm feeling physically worse and worse, able to do less and less. It's not my imagination, I'm not being neurotic. I don't know where I'm going, what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm trying to cling onto Him, there doesn't feel like there's anything else left that makes any sense.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Bible Study and brain fog

Although there is much written about "suffering" and on associated topics there seems to be little on how to study the Bible while ill, exhausted and brain fogged. If the illness is of short duration, such as a cold or virus, it is not such an issue, certainly detailed Bible study can be set aside for a little and at most a few Psalms or some of the Gospels read instead. But what is one to do if the illness and exhaustion is long term or even potentially permanent? For it is inadvisable to suspend Bible study indefinitely, right now I am longing to get deeper into the Bible, like I used to before I became so indisposed. Yet I cannot think straight or concentrate and earlier today whilst trying to read the introduction to some study notes on Romans kept dozing off, not because of disinterest, but because of exhaustion.

There is little point deciding to do it later or another day when I am more awake or feeling better, because this time or day never arrives. It simply leads to Bible study being continually put off. So is there any solution to this problem?

The first one that comes to mind is prayer; asking for God's help when reading His word is always essential, but it is not just understanding and insight but also concentration, strength and energy I need to pray for.

Not being too ambitious and studying small amounts at a time can help too. As with anything I do (my memory not being too good) writing things down can help.

I would be grateful for any other suggestions, resources and strategies anyone can suggest. Getting any teaching or study at all can be a real challenge when ill, from the difficulties of making it to church or church group to struggling to focus on or remember anything of sermons I listen to and much else in between. My memory is shot away, memorising Scripture is something I would love to do, and I used to be fairly good on where things were in the Bible, but at times I struggle to remember what day of the week it is, let alone chapter and verse. It can lead to tremendous feelings of inadequacy and the feeling of being a "bad" Christian, especially when even praying is hard and I feel isolated from any kind of fellowship. None of my prayers are ever especially impressive, I don't pray for a long time in one go daily because I'm not really up to it.

Anyhow, input welcome, thank you!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Brain fog and knitting

Brain fog and knitting, as can easily be surmised, do not mix particularly well. Today I have started a project twice and have now reached an impasse of indecision whilst unable to work out what it is a) that I have done b) that I should have done and c) that I should do now. It's so insanely frustrating!!! It results in hours' worth of work coming to nothing and makes the day feel futile.

I know I should be resting more, but the truth is it is insanely boring.

In other news I am wondering what a moustache party is. My sister has got a 2.1 in her degree so I am very pleased for her and very proud of her. I am deeply confused by the weather, which apparently cannot make up its mind between bright sunshine and torrential rain. It makes getting dressed very difficult, especially when my body feels all the wrong temperature - whatever is happening my toes are usually icy cold for example, even if the rest of me is sweltering. From the tone of this post generally I suppose it is clear that I am fairly fed up with ME, fibro and all other associated illnesses, syndromes and random symptoms no one has thought to give a name to! I'm also fed up of my brain deciding to be depressed for no reason, or going off at a tangent and leaving me behind giggling madly. Being mildly manic might seem fun, but I don't find it so, I may seem happy, but I feel out of control and that is horrible.

In yet more other news I finished A S Byatt's "The Virgin in the Garden" today, a deeply interesting novel, though with a rather unsatisfactory, even peremptory ending, as though she had been forced to conclude before she was truly ready to. The characterisation, sense of place - geographically and in time, place and occasion - and manipulation of a wide cast of characters is masterful. In many novels with a large cast of protagonists I am liable to become deeply confused as to who is who (or should that be who is whom?), but A S Byatt's management of her novel solved this problem. Some of the more "scientific" or "mysterious" passages and chapters of the book were quite hard to get through at times and I do still think that the book could still function very well without the thread of the storyline concerning Marcus Potter and Lucas Simmonds. On the other hand it did resolve from an obsession into madness, although again this was somewhat peremptorially dealt with in the closing chapters of the book. Despite this I would recommend the book and am looking forward to reading its sequels.

Phew, sorry that sounds pretensious reading it back, almost a full blown book review. I do lack anyone much to discuss books with and sometimes it just comes out! I should head for bed now.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Seriously though, is it something about me? Is it me doing something wrong? Or thinking wrong or something? Is that why in the past 2-3 years my life has just been constantly hard, difficult, apparently simply one thing after another going wrong? Am I not thinking right? Not positive enough? Not the right sort of faith? Not any faith at all?!

It's such a cliche, but why? Why do I watch other people enjoy themselves and have lovely things happen while I have crap and crap and crap and crap? Why can't my knees get better instead of hurting more and more and more and feeling more and more damaged? And why will doctors never believe what you are saying or listen??? How hard is it to listen? And why always assume your patient is lying? Or neurotic? When are they going to listen?

And what do I say to people? People say who knew me at university, who seemed bored enough of me and all my problems then, people I know at the church I supposedly belong to, when I don't get better, keep saying I'm feeling worse. I'm not deliberately being ill, being difficult, being in pain, feeling like I'm getting worse, really, honestly. It's not a confidence trick, it's not me being work shy, it's not that I like being difficult, I'm not attention seeking, honestly. I don't want to be like this, I want to be well, I want to be able to fulfill dreams, follow Jesus energetically, dance, sing, jump, go on holiday, see my friends, help other people, be young.

That's one of the things that gets me, not feeling young, not doing any young people things. At 11.30 on a Saturday evening I should be out partying, not in creaking down the stairs to fill my hot water bottles and listening to radio 4. Or at a gig, or on holiday, or camping or away for the weekend or any one of a great number of more exciting possibilities.

I'm sick of this and the worst thing is none of it shows any signs of going away, if anything it's getting worse. And there aren't any answers, no magic wands, no fairy godmothers. Just blind trust in a man who lived 2000 years ago, because with Simon Peter all I can say is "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

"Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

"yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior." Habakkuk 3.17-8


Feeling a bit fed up with doctors, life, not being believed, not really understanding what is wrong with me, feeling left behind by life, missing out on things, not being able to work, not being able to earn money and support myself, my knees, pain, taking pills, boredom, tiredness, having to waste time taking naps, benefits, the dwp, ME and well, a lot of things. Pah.

That said I did have rather a nice (if exhausting) day today, saw my knitting group and had a lovely time knitting, laughing, admiring yarn and beautiful projects and casting on the wrong number of stitches for my knitting. (Never mind I'd only got about 2cm in).

I also finished my Ivor the Engine dvd which has left me feeling strangely bereft. What to watch now??? (Suggestions on a postcard or in the comments please).

Ah well... I'm going to try to stop worrying and being fed up out of boredom if nothing else. Plus it doesn't seem to achieve a great deal.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Talking too much

This evening at Life Group (what cell group or church small group is called at our church) I noticed myself talking far too much and at inappropriate moments - like when about to start praying etc. It felt so good finally to be among people and to have someone to talk to, that I couldn't stop! There are so many things I think or notice every day that I don't have anyone to share with, or there's just Mum and Dad here and they already know or wouldn't be interested.

This tendancy not to know when to stop talking and talking is something I have occasionally noticed in others, generally in lonely people; it hurts my pride to admit it, but I am one of them. I get horribly lonely, especially since Amy went, since a lot of my random chatter was done with her.

Why is loneliness so hard to own up to? Partly I suspect to do with perception, lonely people are "sad", "needy", regarded as a nusiance. Sometimes I think our attitude is that if you are lonely you have only yourself to blame, you should get off your backside and go find some people to be with, join a group, take up a 'hobby', change, become more interesting, make yourself popular. But the reality is more complicated, even if you make all the effort in the world and see lots of people you can still feel lonely because among all these people no one understands how you feel or what is happening. Illness can cause immense loneliness by robbing you of the ability to get out there and meet people, sometimes making seeing people intensely draining and even unbearably painful.

I'm sure I had another point to make, but I've forgotten it. - ah remembered - Loneliness isn't "cool", it is "sad", doesn't carry much "street cred". (too tired to continue editing now, will come back tomorrow) However, one thing I don't want to become is someone with really bad social skills who doesn't know when to shut her big mouth. So there's one to work on.

In other news, my sister finished her exams, go her! I've been watching Ivor the Engine, which although designed for people over twenty years younger than me, is amazing and great fun. I definitely recommend children's tv for when down, tired or bored, or just for when looking for something to do! Anyhow, bedtime, tomorrow I really need to do some thinking about appealing for benefits. I've been not thinking about it, it feels so overwhelming and I'm so tired and so sick of having to fight and defend myself.