Tag Archives: MS and stress

Mild Autumn Days

We are close to the last month of Autumn, in Australia, where I live. In my part of South Australia today we had one of the lovely mild Autumnal days which I love so much. Gentle breezes, a slight bit of rain early on, and then lovely kind sunshine to dry the clothes I’d hung out before lunchtime.

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(picture by Simon Kneebone)

Hanging out, and later bringing in, a load of washing can tire me out quite a bit sometimes, but today it was a pleasure to be out there, taking care of this task that I now often share with my husband, who is also my carer. I don’t know why it felt so easy for my today, but I know I’m very glad that it was, because who knows if that might last.

The thing about having MS (Multiple Sclerosis), is that you never really know what you’ll be capable of doing, until you’re doing it. You have good days, as I did today, and then you can have the bad days, when simply getting up and taking the full laundry basket outside is too difficult. After having had MS for eight years, I’ve learned to make the most of the good days, and rest up on the bad days.

Having things to look forward to doing, and enjoying lovely days as today was, these go toward more good days, I think. I have a writing related project that is exciting me, and will enable me to do something to help other people who are struggling in another way. It’s a creative writing project, and anything creative writing related is something that fills me with joy. Helping others, and bringing new creative writing into the world, this is blissful to me, it feels like my life’s work.

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This idea of my life’s work is a good one to think about. I know that a full-time job wouldn’t be good for me, it would be too stressful and would interfere with my sleep. I know this from past experience, and I won’t go through those stress levels again, because I hate how my body reacts to that. Weakness and worry don’t go together well, but that’s what I get from stress. This is not something that doing workshops does to me.

With creative writng workshop kind of work, I feel alive, invigorated and thrilled to be doing something I know that I can do, and do well. I’ve done this work in a variety of different places, with people of varying degrees of literacy levels, and it always comes up with some truly special writing from at least some of the attendees. I hope for this, and also healing, for the attendees at my next project!

It’s Autumn time, and my life is going fine!

 

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Excitement Need Not be Stress!

I currently have an exciting event happening, that is taking up a lot of my attention. I’m excited about it, it’s exactly down my alley of creative writing, and it seems to be going extremely well. I’ve felt like this about an event before, but that actually turned out to be a not quite so good thing.

That event was the launch of my first collection of poetry – “damaged children, Precious Gems”. The launch went well, lots of people there, including the artist who did the painting I used for the front cover of the book. It was all lovely, many books were sold, and everyone was wonderful. The only sad thing was that my MS symptoms kicked in, and I has leaning heavily on my walking stick, by the end of the event.

This current event is possibly even more exciting, and it goes for several days, over lots of hours. I’ll have to be active, have a bit of walking involved in the happenings of the weekend, and I certainly don’t want to have to get out my stick or cane.

I feel differently this time though – for the previous event, I was the main person organising things, and it was mostly all up to me. This time, I have a great team working with me. I really home this will be the difference that will help me to keep going on my two feet, and no stick!

There is a kind of stress called “eustress”. This is the kind of excited feeling you get when you are feeling stressed, but in a positive and happy way. I hope this is the kind of stress I’m having. It’s keeping me awake at night a little, but I’m still getting enough sleep in between bouts of restlessness.

This time, I’m working with a group of other people who are involved in the event too, and we are all taking on different tasks, or working together on certain aspects. There haven’t been many things go wrong so far, and the worst thing gone wrong was easily dealt with, and will turn out fine, as far as I can tell. I accepted the thing that had happened, agreed with the proposal put to me to deal with the issue, and moved on. All good.

This has been my attitude all the way along – positive, and “All Good”! The event is the Gawler Festival of Words – it begins tomorrow, and continues all weekend. Details are on the website. So this event will be happening from tomorrow afternoon, all over the two days of the weekend, and on Monday, life will go back to normal. Or will it? If this Festival is a success we are certainly doing it all again next year, and every year after that. It’s all good, Words are the winners and so are all of the people who love words who can be there with us!

A New Life

When I faced up to the realities of being ‘disabled’, my whole world opened up, and life choices became much clearer. I had been doing a little casual work, simple things that interested me, jobs that were easy and had some connection with writing, in a way.

My jobs were as a ‘Mystery Shopper’, where I would read the assignment, the go to the required shop and test the store and their employees on the stated issues. I did this for a couple of years, and I enjoyed being paid to shop, trying on clothes at a variety of different stores, whichever store it was that wanted this work done. I also did Surveys online.

It was a fascinating task, I loved pretending I was somebody else, quite fun, and the pay was OK, not great but OK. I ended up buying more clothes than I probably needed, but so what, shopping for clothes is supposed to be what women love to do! All in all, I ended up in front, in monetary terms, so that was good.

But then, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) hit, changing my life quite substantially. At the beginning, I wasn’t able to drive. But once I was over that, I wasn’t sure if I would still be able to do the Mystery Shopping work. And curiously, I only just realised that Mystery Shopping and Multiple Sclerosis both begin with the same letters. How strange …

When you work as a Mystery Shopper, you have to visit the store you’re told to visit, try on particular clothes, or order particular food. Then, after, you have to report back on particular things. Things like the cleanliness of the shop, placement of items for sale, or whether staff mentioned certain things to me as the shopper. Doing this work isn’t rocket science, but it does require a level of being able to remember things.

Could I still do that? I didn’t know, and to be completely honest, I still don’t know. I may be OK, I’m certainly able to still do many things I did before MS came along in 2010. Do I want to do it though? Would I find it too stressful? Do I really need to have a paid job anyway?

These are questions I ask myself, and to be honest, I don’t want to risk the stress of taking this job back on, and finding myself hit hard by stress. Having MS, and knowing about the effects on my body when things get stressful, makes me OK about not doing the job. Extra money would be fine, although I’m not sure at the moment how much money I can earn without it affecting my Disability Support Pension. So Mystery Shopping will stay as something I used to do, along with lengthy bush walks. That was my life before MS. My life after MS is perhaps quieter, but still interesting. It’s just not too physically demanding, and it doesn’t stretch my memory skills too much.

I still do surveys online, they not taxing on my head, and I can either do them or not, as I wish. I’m happy to say I get a little bit of pocket money doing this, with no stress at all. I love giving my opinion on things, so these surveys suit me well!

I currently do lots of volunteer work, all of it related to writing in one way or another. This keeps me connected with the broader community, and it also allows me to use my brain, writing fiction and no fiction, coming up with new ideas and programs for a writing group I’m involved with. My life was a good one before MS came along. My life since, has also been a good life. Different, but still a good life!