How we see ourselves and how we see our role is something that actually grows, not diminishes as illness redefines us. It can be hard to just look in a mirror or to try to cover the body we don’t recognise with clothes that don’t fit or even suit our shape or even personality any longer. Past the physical their is an even harder change that we all have to go through, the changes that happen to our personalities and our view of the world. I didn’t really think about this until recently as I had always accepted that we all change, all the time and that is just part of life, we change and develop as people and as our knowledge and understanding of the world grows, we continue our life long education and what we can then give back to others. I don’t know exactly what it was that made me think about it, but it suddenly clicked the other day that if I were to sit down and speak to someone who was healthy, the same age as me and still doing all the things I used to, we would probably be miles apart in our view of almost everything.
It’s heading towards 7 years now since the doors of the outside world became closed to me and since them I have seen nothing of what is happening out there other than what I see on TV. I know without a doubt that so much has passed me by and I am now in a bubble that I have built, because of my choice of TV viewing. In some ways for me that has been great because I have always enjoyed learning, so a diet of documentaries and news is heaven, I have had the opportunity to find out so much and to expand on all the subjects I already loved. Even though I was never a magazine or newspaper reader, I never felt any need to, as I worked in an office full of women and their chitter chatter filled in all those blank areas, whether I wanted them filled or not. Conversation that move around subjects you aren’t really interesting in, actually is something I have now realised that I have missed. There is something safe and fun talking about rubbish, that interaction between generations that work supplies, it actually did have a purpose. Not only did it inform me about how they lived their lives but it also supplied me with that mirror, their view of me, who I am and my life, that has now totally gone. The only people I have now to tell me who I am are Adam and myself, but neither of us are really in a position do that, as well we are too close.
You don’t really notice it on a day to day bases but we all get feedback from every person we meet or interact with even briefly. Everyone through body language, tone of voice and facial expression are telling us just what they think of the way we look, the way we talk and our intelligence, without it how do you judge those all to surprisingly important things. I know what Adam thinks of me, well he’s still here, but all those small interactions and those pats on the back or disapproving looks, build that image for you of who you are. The world and everyone in it are our mirrors, they tell us far more about ourselves than we can ever tell ourselves, anyone can look in a mirror and lie to themselves, just as you can lie to yourself about the fact that you are right or wrong. We actually need confirmation of our own existence and how we fit into the bigger picture, once housebound that is all gone. Strangely I don’t think having visitors would help, they are never going to tell you truth, I know without a doubt that the first words they would say is how good you look, lie one and they would just keep coming. I don’t think there is a real answer to this at all, if you can get out and about, go shopping, have a meal, go to the pub, just do the normal things in life, even if that is not work, you would still be able to use those your path crosses as a partial mirror.
Nearly 7 years on and I have managed reasonably well, well I didn’t notice the possibility until recently, therefore it hasn’t been a problem, or has it? I expect that if I were to have a session with a psychiatrist, they would probably say it has, mind you I expect that nearly everyone would have some kind of black mark from a session with one, but joking apart I am sure there will be something there as I understand that social interaction is important for all of us. I can’t remember what it was that made me think about this more deeply than just a passing thought, but I know it was the fact that I have somehow adjusted to not having any of social interactions that I keep hearing we all need. I have somehow done what many find really hard, I don’t need those services where you can attend day clubs and so on, just so you have time with other people. I have adjusted to a world where I am isolated outside the time I have with Adam, I can’t fully give the reasons for this but I being alone has proved not to be a problem for me at all. I can only guess that it is because I had a gradual cut off the rest of the world, working from home for 2 or 3 years before being made redundant weaned me off those social needs. What ever it is that has allowed me to adjust it has done it so well that should any of the professionals who are involved in my care were to suggest I attended a club, or had a companion here during the day, well I think they would be put down abruptly.
Maybe what I see in the mirror now annoys me so much that I don’t really want to have to show it to others, or maybe I am just one of those people who are happy to just pass time by myself. It is another one of those things that I wish I could bottle and pass on to those who need it, or maybe again it comes down to what I am doing here, it gives me enough good feedback to allow me to ignore what I don’t want to see. There are far to many people out there who are living lonely lives, people who haven’t had the tiniest bit of feedback from anyone for years, making people feel positive about their lives, positive about themselves as people, has to be the key, but it’s a hard lock to move when know one is there to turn it.