I read somewhere that we all get 24 hours in a day. Everyone gets the same amount of time, the same amount as the most successful people, high achieving people, wealthiest self-made person, record-breaking sports person or the person giving their lives to help others. We all get the same 24 hours in a day the same 365 days in a year. This is a fact there is no disputing it. The point of the article or blog I was reading was to motivate its reader that if you use your 24 hours wisely you can achieve anything.
I was also brought up in a home where my parents always said that if you worked hard enough you could achieve anything. Both my parents had also been good advocates for this. They had both come from low-income families and through sheer hard work and determination had climbed ladders in their careers making many achievements along the way. Meaning that they provided my sister and myself opportunities that hadn’t even been considered for them when they were young such as going university and professional careers. My mum showed us that as long as you work hard you can achieve and it was never to late to try, when she decided to retrain get her degree and become a teacher at 50.
I am grateful of this attitude, it has got me far. Hard work and determination played a major part in my stroke recovery, getting back to work afterwards. Dealing with my chronic pain, cognitive changes, and the emotional roller-coaster of being differently abled afterwards, have all taken hard work to manage. I have tried so many different things to do this, been to classes, groups, visited different professional and done a hundred and one things at home to help myself. I have never sat back waiting to improve and when I struggled to do this my family helped me to carry on working at it. I may have moaned or ranted how unfair it all ways, or cried my eyes out but I always worked hard. And it has been worth it. I now enjoy the fruits of my labour, in the same way I am now starting to benefit from all the efforts in the hydro pool and physio gym this year after my hip operation. So I am an advocate for hard work and effort. I would encourage anyone facing life’s challenges to work at finding a solution that right for you or anyone with dreams and ambitions to work hard at achieving them. But You have guessed it, there is a but.
But when you have any chronic illness or are differently able due to physical conditions it is not as simple as work hard and you can achieve anything you want. To avoid hitting the wall of fatigue or having to face unwanted consequences you have to learn the art of pacing. And pacing means you can’t always achieve what you want or in a time frame you would hope for.
Pacing in short is making sure you allow rest time in between all activities to avoid being overcome by exhaustion or triggering symptoms and then paying the consequences of needing time sometimes days to recover. If used properly pacing really does bring many health and wellness benefits both physically and emotionally. And would probably benefit many people not just us suffering from infliction of health challenges.
(create your life plan – kikki.K)
However simple the principles of pacing are mastering them is not as simple as it sounds. Especially when modern life is so busy and like me you have very high expectations of yourself and what you want to achieve or what you could achieve if it was just a matter of hard work.
Learning pacing has been one of the biggest challenges I have had to face since my strokes. It took me a very long time to reap the benefits of pacing, and to truly understand that I really have no other options but to embrace it so I can be at my best and as well as possible. I have learnt from experience and suffered the consequences of not pacing, over doing it, pushing myself beyond my physical capabilities, so I know that is not an option to explore again.
Yet even 14 year later I still continue to battle with the frustrating mental conflict between wanting to work hard and needing to pace. I find it extremely difficult to find the balance between wanting to achieve my dreams, my ambitions, doing everything I want and need too and having to pace myself to meet my physical requirement and health needs. Accepting that somethings due to the limitations of my health and imposing fatigue are just not realistic and that all the hard work in the world would not change that is a very hard reality to stomach.
Which brings me back to my opening statement. Yes we all have the same 24 hours to work with, but it doesn’t mean we all have the physical capabilities to use them. Accepting my limits has always been the hardest thing to deal with, maybe because I had a taste of adult life without them, a taste of my potential, maybe because for a very long time I thought I would be able to reverse them if I put enough work in. In the past it was the cause of much frustration, upset and anger. There have been times when I used to be very pre-occupied with what I had lost, the opportunities I would never be able to pursue. The fact I have not been able to return to full-time work due to having to manage fatigue and be realistic. I have certainly felt that I have not had the same hours in a day to use to strive towards ambitions or meeting my potential. When so many of those hours have been spent unable to be active, unable to move forward, move anywhere or spend working hard for no other reason that my body has been to exhausted with fatigue (not tiredness fatigue) or engulfed in pain or the cloudiness of medication side effects.
All this negative emotion at times has been all-consuming and very disruptive to my happiness and well-being. At times it has also had a very negative impact on my loved ones who have had to watch me struggle with these feelings or have taken the brunt of my emotional frustrations.
So the other day when I caught myself being frustrated with my fatigue. Frustrated that I can’t burn the candle at both ends. Can’t work at the hard at day job to pay the bills and then use every minute of my spare time to work on health wellness and enjoy time with family and friends and also pursue an art life. Especially as I know I will have to pace myself even further at home. A I will need lots of rest to have the energy needed to teach new groups of learners with learning difficulties at the beginning of the academic year and during the first term, the busiest most hectic time of any teachers calendar. Knowing the days I am not at the day job I will need to use to fully rest and recharge to be ready for the next day in classroom. I realised two things. Firstly that I was just a little frustrated rather than the all-consuming anger and bitterness that I had felt previously. and secondly that finally these emotions no longer controlled me and stealing precious energy wasting it on things I cannot change however hard I work or however unfair it is as they did in the past.
I have shared with you in previous blogs how spent all of this year working hard on improving health and well-being changing daily habits. To make for a better, happier healthier lifestyle, exploring new ways at improving my energy levels and making the most of even the hardest hours. I have been working hard at improving my art skills, spreading my creative wings, by stepping out of my comfort zone of sea and landscapes. Which has all has all been manageable whilst I haven’t been at work ( because of recovering from my hip operation)
So now the question is how do I this maintain all these new positive habits when the day job takes most of the energy? I am not completely sure at this moment but am working on finding the right routines and answer to that question for me, when I get back in the classroom. I am drawing on a bit of trial and error and a huge amount of knowing what doesn’t work and will keep you posted on my progress.
For those of you lost in the grips of the dark emotions about your chronic illness, fatigue or disability. I will share in more depth in future blogs the things I believe have helped to arrive at a this more accepting, positive place myself. But in brief I think it is down to 3 main thing which I cannot recommend highly enough
Face and deal with your emotions:
Spend time to work through your emotions, addressing how you feel about your limitations. Grieve for your lose. Seek out professional help to learn to adjust to how you feel about situations imposed by your body. This is a hard process and may take time but in the long-term is worth it and will mean precious energy and times is not lost in heart breaking emotions.
Realistically re-evaluate your life:
Really explore what you want out of life, what happiness, contentment and wellness means to you. Explore what you want from life, where you want to be and what is already great about your life. Be really honest with yourself and plan for a life you want. For me this process has been really eye-opening, enjoyable and definitely played part in my overall happiness. Going forward this will be a part of my home life, instead of the aimless approach I had before towards my happiness. For this started by using ‘Create your Life plan’ by kikk.K a great tool to get you started.
Learn and truly embrace the art of pacing
As I have mentioned before pacing every activity even the most mundane daily chores with an appropriate amount of rest either side to avoid hitting the wall of exhaustion or triggering unwanted symptoms such as pain. Part of which is not doing what is outside your physical capabilities however frustrating that is and accepting and asking for physical help.