The New Normal
Today’s Wednesday wisdom is a little different. Normally I just pick a quote make a nice aesthetically pleasing background and go about my business. But today’s quote made me pause and I wanted to share my thoughts with you.
The ‘new normal’ this phrase will be remembered alongside classics such as ‘unprecedented times’, every email hoping it finds you well and your dreams being haunted by government reminders to make space, wash your hands and wearing a flipping face mask. They’ve all become part and parcel of our everyday. Perhaps you’ve been working from home or had to pivot careers. Perhaps you’ve picked up a new hobby or ditched an old one. Whatever it may be your normality has bound to have changed. Yet apart from a little side note I don’t actually want to talk about the pandemic today.
Instead, I’m going to briefly cover what it’s like when you become chronically ill or disabled and your reality changes dramatically away from what you once called normality. This of course is just from my experience as someone who was healthy and fit before they became chronically ill. I would love to hear others thoughts on this too so please leave a comment or use the contact form to message me.
When I became ill I didn’t really know what was going on for quite some time and it was a very long time before I started to get some real help. So when I became ill as I didn’t realise what was really wrong for a long time I (inadvertently) did the complete opposite of what you should do. I fought fiercely against my constant exhaustion and recurring illnesses, not realising they were all part of a wider health picture and that my body desperately needed me to stop. But that is a story for another day.
When your health suddenly changes dramatically and permanently you are thrown into an absolute state of chaos.
Quite often you don’t know what is going on or how to deal with it. And in amongst this chaos and often despair there is deep grief. Deep grief for who you were and what you had but also the life you had planned. I’m going to go into this in more detail in a future post but wanted to reassure you that not only is this normal it’s necessary.
The grieving process for any loss is complex and not finite as anyone who’s ever grieved will tell you.
However, today I just want to focus on acceptance.
It allows you to begin the journey of adapting to your new normal. Acceptance says if I wash my hair on Tuesday I know it takes me two days to recover, so I’ll plan in rest days for that. Acceptance enables you to take some power back from your new situation and adapt, pace and put changes in place that help you. It means that you’re not constantly stuck in the cycle of berating yourself and your body over what it can’t do. It allows you to move forward with what you can do.
Acceptance does not mean the sorrow and rage of your grief vanishes but that it is not an ever-present companion. Real acceptance acknowledges the harsh truths of our situations (no toxic positivity here). It realises we are so much more than how we judged ourselves in the past. So much more than our progress or productivity. And whatever our future holds there is still space for good things amongst it.
Little side note for my able-bodied, healthy readers.
As we start to return back to ‘normality’ please remember what it’s been like to have had your options curtailed, your freedom reigned in and your opportunities reduced. Remember what it was like to be stuck indoors for most of the year, how it felt to be reliant on others and bear in mind how for many of us that is our everyday reality. So as you return to your old ways remember those (not with pity) whose lives won’t be changing. As you enter back into the world do so with opened eyes as to how easily opportunities such as working from home and entertainment being made available online were created. How flexible you as employees and consumers could be and remember that there’s a whole sector of society that still needs and can benefit from that. And when you’re able to make a difference, do it.
[…] Becoming chronically ill/disabled is a complete life change. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, they’re all valid. And where possible get support and help with this including with a professional. I cover this a bit on my post on acceptance. […]