I realised yesterday, almost as soon as I stopped writing, that I had opened up a can of worms, right in the middle of my brain. I have always said, that part of the reason that I write is to make people think, and not only about health. Along the way, I have found that I frequently also make myself think, about a huge range of subjects, but for me, separating them from my health is now almost impossible. Not too surprising I suppose, as my health has so dramatically changed my life, that, for it not to be involved, is almost impossible. As long as you are still out and about, even if that is restricted to once a week, your connection to the world is real. Once you are housebound, no matter how many friends, how much technology you fill your home with, that connection, is forever broken. Just as you can’t live your life through secondhand experiences, you can’t be connected to it either. I don’t think that I actually understood the true impact of that until I had been housebound for a couple of years. You don’t notice it to begin with, as we trick ourselves that what we see on TV, is real life. That watching the actions of people, in the background of a movies or soap opera, is just the same as sitting in a cafe, watching life pass by, soaking in the depth and colour of life, but, it’s not. They may not have lines to speak, but their actions are as tightly choreographed as any chores at the ballet. Don’t fool yourself, nothing happens on any screen, tiny or huge, that has been tightly put together and even more tightly edited, it’s not real life. Once we are housebound, it is the only life that we see.
TV has always worried me, in fact, I would go further, it scared the hell out of me. You don’t have to be a sociologist to see why, just someone old enough to remember the days when TV, closed down at 11 pm nightly on weeknights, and other than programs for schools, didn’t start again until 4:30 pm. The very idea, that there are people who sit day in day out, watching bubble gum TV, and believing that is the real world, should scare anyone, but once again, I digress. Once you are trapped inside your home, it doesn’t matter how we find it, we have to find something that replaces that interaction we had with the world. As humans, we totally rely on our eyes, after all, “seeing is believing”. We are one of the few creatures that do this, so in some ways, it is easier for us to recognise when we are alone. My first three years of being housebound, I was still working, so I was as busy as ever, but I did feel alone and I had to fix it. To my surprise, I didn’t actually need people physically here, what I needed was to replicate the office, I needed voices. I didn’t see a lot of people when I was working in the office, but I heard them all the time. The answer wasn’t the radio, that is full of annoying music, too much time spent changing channels. The TV, on the documentary channels, or the news, replaced it really well, with an added bonus. Unlike the office, it was permanently intelligent, rather than discussions about “Big Brother” or “Coronation Street”. Having really bad eyesight, meant it wasn’t too much of a distraction, but enough to become a somewhat an odd friend. It wasn’t until I was made redundant and my days weren’t filled with work, that I found myself actually missing those once annoying emails. I was sat here as ever, but unemployed and very aware that I was alone.
Most humans, find something to do, clean their home, go for a walk, indulge in a hobby, do some exercises, but if all physical distractions are also closed off to you, what do you do? Few of us live on a street where putting a chair near the window, would provide enough entertainment, for more than 10 minutes. We could bother the few friends we have left, by phoning and chatting about nothing, or we do what we have to, and find a way of getting on with life alone. No matter how much we have in our lives, how busy we are, how much chatter surrounds us, eventually, our isolation has to be addressed whether we do it intentionally or not, our brains take over and they shift our reality. Yesterday’s post highlighted just one of those shifts, I made without even knowing. So many people have admired how I have managed to find contentment in my new world, how well I have adapted, but I don’t know if that is really true, as I am not so sure that I have knowingly done anything. Yes, I created an environment that I am happy to exist in. I have established an online presence, by blogging and on Twitter, but that isn’t enough to fully explain it. I may have set up the required stepping stones and dug the foundations, but I think, the rest of it was either, set up in my previous life, or has been totally a subconscious act. Our brains have been proved so many times, by people far more qualified than I am, that self-preservation is part of everything we do and think. Is it such a jump then, that self-preservation has been behind my survival so far?
Psychologically, we are not designed to be alone and I’m not, I have Adam. I also had years prior to the door closing, to prepare myself for this life. Time to build both my physical surrounding and the mental preparations required for this lifestyle, not to mention one hell of a subconscious. I also have the carefully selected and manicured world that the TV brings into my home, and I have my online life. I have been brought here by my health, but there will be far more of us in the future, who will do this by choice. When that can of worms popped open it was this that I was thinking about. Right now, there are children at school, who will spend a large part of their lives, housebound, not by health, but by work and they, are not being prepared for it. I know that the idea of working from home appeals to a lot of people, but I would put one huge warning sticker on it, so big, that I hope it scares people off from choosing it as a lifestyle. If, they have a strong social life and family around them, then it may work well, but if they don’t, they are committing slow social and life suicide. For most, that chatter of being in an office, shop or factory, goes on into their social life, for most people, the majority of their friends come from work. Only a few of us, have the same friends throughout their lives, work matters, it’s our connection to the social world. Working from home, means no chatter, no friends, no reason to leave their home. Once you make that step indoors, you rapidly realise there is no reason to go out, everything can be delivered, everything can come to your home. Everything that you can find here in my blog, outside of the symptoms and traumas of chronic illness, could without a doubt, be applied to a solitary person working at home.
Who we are at the core is always going to play a huge part in everything we do, our brains can protect us, but they can also deceive us. I totally believe, that if, they came out from behind their closed doors; that the majority of housebound people; around the world, cope just as well as I do; but in their way; the way, their brains protected them into; in the way those they love, assist them to live. That, though, would be a totally different story from anyone who goes there by choice. The biggest difference between me and most of those housebound now is; I have a voice that can’t stand not being heard; that has too much to say, and now all the time in the world to do it; while they, quietly get on with their lives. Without a doubt, I know that anyone can be happy housebound as long as you do it, in a way, that matches you, your life and the future you want. I’m not anyone special, outside of being me.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 22/11/2013 – The perfect slob