I’ve been thinking about my first blog post of 2017 for some time now… churning over ideas in my head about what I would like to write about. Should I tell you about my new year’s resolutions? Should I reflect on what 2016 was to me? Or perhaps take a different slant and talk about how having the kids at home over the Christmas holidays has been
exhausting, but also joyful and fun-filled, spending time with them on wintery walks (scoots, in my case)?
I could write about all of those – well, perhaps less so on the new year’s resolutions, as I haven’t really set myself any major ones – but the one topic that keeps coming back to me is how much my view of new year has changed over the past few years.
10 years ago, on New Year’s Day, I would have probably been nursing the mother of all hangovers, finishing off Christmas food such as cheese and chocolate and mince pies
and more cheese and more chocolate. I would also be thinking, ‘right, tomorrow I am going to get up, go for a run, cook something healthy and drink only water’. I would have been looking forward to the ‘fresh start’ the new year afforded me; pre-kids, and more importantly pre-MS symptoms, I could choose to do anything I wanted, go anywhere I wanted, be anyone I wanted. It was so full of promise. My main aim was to be a super healthy, confident, put-together Jen. A Jen who goes to the gym, eats well and has a six pack. A Jen who puts a bit of make-up on every day and wears jewellery to finish off an outfit. Well, I never did get the six pack but I did manage to be pretty healthy – I regularly ran around our local wooded area and attended pilates – and I like to think that, most of the time, I managed to look successfully ‘put together’. I looked forward to what was to come – Hubs and I were newly married and babies were on the horizon.
Fast forward to New Years Day 2017. I wasn’t hungover (this is despite having a fair bit prosecco at my friends’ party) and I was tucking into some lovely OMS friendly vegan moussaka made by my Mum – no cheese or mince pies in sight. I was thinking about the night before and reflecting on that age old question posed by friends: ‘have you made any new year’s resolutions, then?’ My answer was that I basically wanted to keep doing what I am already doing – following a lifestyle (plant based eating, meditation, yoga, vitamin D) that has been shown to help people with MS. If I am fully honest, even though I enjoy it, it is a lifestyle that takes up all my energy, I really don’t feel like I have space for further resolutions. I would like to be better at keeping in contact with friends and loved ones and to make the time I spend with the kids quality, memory-making time.
However, the biggest difference between now and 10 years ago isn’t the lack of resolutions, it is my lack of ‘get up and go’. With the exception of looking forward to watching my children grow and develop, I no longer have that drive inside me to try something new, to make me a better version of me. And I think that is because my over-riding thoughts are now around just surviving. How am I going to have the time or ability to try a new exercise activity, when my left leg drags along the floor and I spend every spare moment resting or sleeping due to daily fatigue? How can I be excited about what my future holds when all I can think about is getting past each day, remembering my medicines at the right times and arranging my activities to ensure I am saving my spoons for time with my loved ones? The saying is, ‘the future’s bright’, but I – and I am sure many other people with progressive chronic illnesses – don’t always feel that way. Instead, we worry about how much worse we are going to be by the end of the year, how many more symptoms are going to emerge, how many more activities we are going to have to miss out on due to health, and how much life is going to change (in my case, I am thinking of work in particular).
So, I am sorry for the pessimism. I hope that the title of this blog post prepared you for that! What I do know, is that this pessimism can be somewhat counter balanced – at least in my case – by doing everything it takes to make this as good a year as possible, despite my illness and despite the uncertainty. For me this looks like:
Keeping up with my health regime – following the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis Programme
Keep booking time with friends into my diary – I often feel too tired to socialise but love it once I am out (just need to factor saving spoons the next day!)
Date nights with Hubs
One on one time with the kids
Going out of my comfort zone – travelling despite mobility problems
Keep talking to people going through the same thing as me – chronic illness – to build social relationships and raise awareness
Reading this over, I have just realised that I have just written myself a set of new year’s resolutions…. doh! I guess that some things never really change. I am, however, always on the look out for others’ tips and tricks for looking on the bright side during times of uncertainty. I would love to hear from others in the same position.
And, on that note, I would like to wish everyone a very healthy and very happy 2017!