I have always been someone who likes to live life with challenges, to have lists of things to achieve and to work on, not for money, praise or anything else, other than self pride. I have lost count the number of times in my life people has asked me “why are you doing that?”, then staring at me in disbelief when I answer just because I want to. Most of the challenges I have set and completed where never thought about for long lengths of time, or considered even as to how long it would really take to complete. I would wake one day with a new idea, go out buy what I needed to at least start it and got started straight away. When Teressa was a baby that I decided to make a huge embroidery, the same size as the frame of a single bed, none of my friends or families could understand why I was taking on such a huge project, even as it grew and they admired my work, the why questions still continued. There was still this disbelief that someone wouldn’t do such a thing in this century, something that continued for as long as I owned the finished article, it was sold when I was divorced as I didn’t have an appropriate wall to hang it on. It wasn’t only embroidery that I filled my spare hours in, you name it I have probably given it a go, DIY, gardening anything that I could channel my need to achieve into. I never believed in just sitting doing nothing, there was always something to be done, be it the humdrum housework or the more artistic and creative side, I never just let time pass it had to have purpose. When my health put all of these things into a column headed impossible, I switched to things I could do here on my PC. Programming a design for business applications filled not just my working hours but my spare time as well. Goals and achievement, small things on the surface but they are often the things that give us the feeling that we are of use, we can do something that will make a difference and we have purpose.
I guess this has actually been the hardest change that my health as enforced on me, I don’t have the choice any longer of what I will create or produce today, as I can’t do any of the things I have done in the past. With so much time now available to me, finding things that are worth while and I can count as an achievement in any way or form, grows harder by the day. I also guess, that this far more than anything else is the reason so many become depressed by illness. It is increasingly easy to start to feel as though you are a pariah rather than being able to contribute anything of value to life, I know because I did have a very short spell when I felt just that way about myself. Recently I have been talking to two people who are exactly at that point and believe me it is a really hard thing to get past and to make yourself feel once again like part of the world. For me the answer well is what you are reading now, I channelled my need to give, achieve and be part of the world, into writing and all the other pieces I contribute to in my life on line daily, but my recent contacts have left me wondering and worrying about those who don’t have the drive to do what I do. I can’t help feeling that at the root it has to be self-worth, that feeling that you still have a use or purpose and that you can still actually do something, not easy to achieve for some. I think the biggest mistake some make is to just look at it as something to fill time, anyone can fill time, but it doesn’t do anything other than exactly that. Filling time can be the most boring thing on earth, prisoners used to move stones from one pile to another and back again, again and again, it filled time and it destroyed them as people.
I can’t help feeling that the NHS are missing a huge trick when it comes to caring for chronically ill patients, it isn’t just about giving them the pills to take away the pain, or to help them sleep or anything else. I’m no doctor but helping them to make goals, to keep achieving and to have a purpose, would improve their health far more than just the tablets alone. I was lucky, I had always from childhood on been use to setting my own goals, to set out my own achievements and to not just exist, but to live and be as happy as I can with what ever life has given me. Everything I did in the past is now there, in the past, but I set a goal that was within my abilities as they are now, I write. Some might say I am filling time, but I know it is far more than that as it gives me purpose, my purpose is now stretched out around the world and I couldn’t have a better feeling of achievement as I get knowing that other feel good because of what I do. I can’t help all of those who ask me for it, as I don’t have the ability to guide them in their lives, I am not qualified to do such a thing, but I do think it is time that all those organisations out there who say they care for the chronically ill, stopped treating them as ill people who need someone to hold their hand and start treating them as being in need of a goal and a purpose.
I believe that it doesn’t matter how ill someone is, if they have daily goals, even very small ones, goals that give them with pride in themselves will help them far more than their pillow being adjusted. We are still of use to the world and more importantly to those we love and to ourselves, sometime a kick is required to remind us and sometimes we just need guidance. Stop trying and you start dying, bluntly said and bluntly meant, I can say it as one who is dying, but I still have a life to live before that happens and so has everyone of you.