[Trigger Warning: Mentions of violence, racism, abuse]
In this month’s link round up, I want to put the focus on amplifying voices, especially BIPOC voices, that need to be heard.
I think it’s clear that #BlackLivesMatter and Nazism/Alt-Right/White Supremacist/Terrorism is wrong and needs to be stopped.
However, I don’t feel it’s useful to share my emotions around Charlottesville here because, as a non-U.S white woman, it’s not my place and the voices that need to be heard are not mine. But I can keep doing my own work of dismantling the white privilege that I as a white woman, (unintentionally but unjustly) benefit from and share the voices of people who do need to be heard. I am doing my best not to centre my white emotions…
“It’s hard to know the right thing to say, at a time like this. I might stumble over my words and make mistakes in my communication, but I will not be silent.” – Bari Tessler
And I am opening up my monthly no fee listening space, so I can listen and support people impacted by these events.
No Fee Listening Support
I’m Grace_Quantock on Skype, and I am opening up no-fee listening space for anyone impacted by the current challenges our societies are experiencing.
I don’t have all the answers, but I can, however, listen. Just call in on Skype: Saturday 19th August 2017.
Disclaimer: By participating in this consulting session over the phone/ web, you acknowledge that, though I am a professional, I am unable to conduct the extensive analysis that I would in an in-person setting. Therefore, the advice I provide during our consulting sessions is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for in-person professional work. The information provided in the consulting session should not be considered a substitute for in-person evaluation by a therapist to address your individual needs. By participating in my office hours listening sessions, you acknowledge that I am not a licensed psychologist or health care professional and my services do not replace the care of psychologists or other healthcare professionals. Listening is in no way to be construed or substituted as psychological counselling or any other type of therapy or medical advice. I will at all times exercise my best professional efforts, skills and care. However, I cannot guarantee the outcome of coaching efforts and/or recommendations on my work and my comments about the outcome are expressions of opinion only. I cannot make any guarantees other than to deliver the listening services offered as described.
Personal Mythmaking: I can’t wait to begin. Plus, Janelle asked me to share that she has a couple sliding scale rates for folks that have financial challenges but sincerely want to participate, and they can get in touch with her for more details.
If you are sick or struggling to live with limits then this book is for you.
I’ve been bed bound, house bound and spending lots of time within four walls due to health challenges. So I wrote this book for everyone who, like me, is living with limits but still wants to live well.
If you’ve wondered how to manage self-care when so much for it is so inaccessible…
– Exclusive Beyond the Boundaries Manifesto to super-charge your intention.
– Special bonus resources including:
An interview with Vivienne McMaster, founder of Be Your Own Beloved: exploring self-compassion through self-portraiture. We talk about ways to make this accessible to people who are bed bound or house bound and how working with our image supports healing.
An interview with Huffington Post blogger Heidi McKenzie, founder of Alter Ur Ego wheelchair fashion company on how style can transform perceptions, conversations and connections, her experience as Ms Wheelchair Kentucky and creating an adaptable style solution/revolution.
You’ll also get exclusive printable posters of all your favourite fun things to do from bed to brighten your walls.
And, I’ve got 15 things for you to do when sick and tired or at home and bored here:
5. Begin a painting of a big canvas or paper, add one mark + per day to document your experience. If you are happy, what does that look like on the canvas? A golden dot? five blue swirls, circling over each other? A line that follows the shape of your fingers? If you are mourning something, how does that express on the canvas? See how your celebrations and heart-aches build into beautiful art, through your year. (Inspired by IMAGINE.)
11. Request a song on a radio station, dedicate it to someone you love or something you are proud of.
12. What’s the makeup/hairstyle or accessory that you always admire in others but never have the confidence to try yourself? Do it today and wear it around the house, see how you feel. If you are comfortable with it at home, you could one day expand to wearing it outside. My pick? Cat-eye eyeliner.
There are times when healing can feel very far away. When we’ve tried everything and then we’ve tried everything else. If you are here, please hear me when I say this doesn’t mean it’s your fault you are hurting.
We live in a society which has glorified personal power to a warped degree. It’s insinuated that if you are ill, struggling, short of money, in pain, then it’s because you haven’t tried hard enough yet.
I resist this narrative. I don’t believe it. I don’t experience it in my own life. I worry about its implications; the silent denial of all those forces impacting us like racism, sexism, ableism, class prejudice, LGBTIA+ prejudice, fat prejudice and all the other ways in which we are marginalised, judged and persecuted.
“People want a triumphant narrative. They want to know that you have solved the problem of your body. But my body is not a problem and it’s certainly not something I have solved yet.” – Roxane Gay
When I wheeled to the bus stop in my village to catch the bus to clinical placement, with the camber so steep and the street so badly maintained, it was impossible for my wheelchair to grip the pavement and so I fell into the road, in the path of an oncoming car. This isn’t inspirational.
This doesn’t make me more amazing or determined, it makes me a citizen living under policy that prioritises austerity over safety. It’s not ok. It’s not a personal challenge I’ve overcome, it’s an environmental issue that needs to change.
Today was an ‘ideal’ day is so many ways, it’s just what I’d worked towards in terms of work, appointments and fun. And it still had hard times. To me, that isn’t a failure. Dealing with the discomfort is something I’m committed to learning. As a human, I will experience these things. I don’t want to fight to try and eradicate difficulty, pain, suffering or death but to learn to live well through these and shift the injustices that make them harder than they need be.
Sometimes, after difficult health news, you feel like going back to the doctor and saying “There must have been some mistake. I am supposed to be brilliant. I have a life, I don’t have time to be sick. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me, I have other plans.”
You feel, quite frankly, done, over, finished with all this illness stuff and now the doctors can do their job, sort it out and you can get back to the thousand things you have to do, which make up your LIFE.
Looking for Miracle Cures
I spent a year looking for miracle cures. Or any cures really.
I suppose I spent a year looking for hope. Except this wasn’t hope, this was an extended form of desperation. I was trying to turn back the clock.
It was a frenzy of researching – trawling through page after page on Google, calling up obscure numbers and speaking to weird people that I hoped had the answer, or someone had passed a card to somebody saying they’d helped somebody and they were really good, as long as you paid £100 a month and bought all their supplements!
I read everything. Everything! I became what my doctors called an expert in the disease.
At the start, I read without reflection, and not from a reasonable standpoint, but compulsively. I felt I had to read every single piece of literature about the illness, every website, every source possible. Because if I didn’t, if I missed one, that could be the one with the cure.
People sent me letters with articles torn out of magazines saying perhaps I should try lymph drainage or go and see a certain practitioner. Sure, they may charge £1000 a treatment and be dubious, bet hey, it might cure me!
People just wanted to help, but at the time I knew all there was to know in the standard literature. And people ringing me up saying “it’s on the news, they’ve found what might be a cure… One day… If the clinical trials go well… If they get research funding… If it’s approved on the NHS.”
But at the start, I wasn’t cynical. I followed everything. I’ve got qualifications in a whole lot of healing modalities and if you’ve heard of it, I’ve probably tried it, yes, including wheatgrass and urine therapy (don’t ask).
After a year, no cure, and Google fatigue, I gave up. I began to believe what the literature said – that there wasn’t a cure. And that the ravaged bits of myself and my old life left around me were now my reality.
This wasn’t acceptance as such, more moving on to a more insidious form of denial.
I closed myself off from hope. I decided to try living in TV land for a while. It’s easy to get there but it’s not so easy to get out. You crawl out of bed and slump in front of the TV. That’s it. Although I can’t say I recommend it.
I left pretty quickly. Even my brain fogged mind and exhausted depression could only stand so much mindless television. (You may soon become aware that I don’t like television. You can if you want. I just can’t stand it. I think it sucks energy, creativity, and motivation and they’re ugly. When we had one I kept a yoga mat over it).
I expected there to be something that would solve everything. I thought that I could still be fixed.
I felt broken and thought I still needed fixing.
So, to put it bluntly, I had done nearly overdone denial and desperation and it was looking like I could get stuck there. But acceptance came, or rather I made a conscious effort and moved towards it.
And then one day I woke up with the realisation that somehow, quietly in the background, over minutes and hours and days and weeks and months, the pain and desperation gradually receded, and acceptance had arisen and was lighting the landscape of my life.
That maybe it wasn’t so bad, my situation. It was tough, and I wouldn’t have chosen it myself, but it was here, and actually, I could deal with it.
(At this point I hated it all so much that the idea of thinking about benefits the situation had or what it could teach me would have made me feel sick. It would have felt like cheating, or like I was opting to be ill.)
I was wholly stuck in society’s stereotype of the abject and pitiful sufferer. But I was slowly climbing out.
My life was coming back together, even growing.
I found that there were other ways to live. Not necessarily ignoring the illness and the struggles and limitations it placed on my life and my loved ones who live with it by proxy.
Neither did I have to frantically search for cures and grasp at the past in my ‘old’ life.
I could just live now. And yes there are some difficult parts, and ups and downs, ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’ and pain flares and relapses, remissions, celebrations and survival.
Truly, when I look back at my ‘old’ life I see that had its challenges and its problems too. Everyone has got something going on. I just had a name, a ‘diagnosis’ for mine.
Before I was ill I was not awake and aware in my life. Not noticing what was going on. Not identifying issues, making a change and creating the life I wanted, I stumbled and fell, through running at full tilt at I don’t know what.
Now I could identify the problems in my life. Accept that they were there, see around them, learn to work with them. To ask ‘okay, now it’s here, what am I going to do with it, about it?’
I was now alive and awake, accepting my power and my choices, standing up for my life even as I couldn’t stand in my body.
Sure I’d rather it hadn’t taken illness to do that, and if somebody had just told me all the lessons I’d learned from being ill without me having to be ill, I would listen. Really, truly I would believe them. But I know it doesn’t work like that.
I’m not saying that we’re sent illness to try to teach us things or that it’s a gift, just now that things are here, and it looks like were going to have to live with it. Then let’s make the best actually Live with it.
For me this is acceptance: stopping pushing, saying ‘okay, this is the way my world is right now. So let’s work with it and get on with it. Pass the (virgin) pitcher, darling.’
Spectrum of Acceptance
I came to acceptance after exhausting every other route.
Here’s the bad news; acceptance, unfortunately, is not like a study course. You don’t pass it, get your certificate at the end and then you’re done.
Acceptance is something that you come to and then maybe you relapse or you get a new diagnosis, or you’re suddenly forced to let go of an old dream, then your emotions throw you around the room and you feel like you’re six months back, just as angry and tearful as you ever were, and you’ve got to get to acceptance all over again.
Acceptance gets easier. Once you know what it feels like, you’ve been there, somewhere in your mind there is a map to it.
Acceptance is not a destination. It’s a practice.
Something that we practice and come back to again and again, we hold it for a while, maybe it slips away, maybe it becomes a deep part of us and then another layer comes up and we practice acceptance on that.
I believe that these strong emotions, sufferings, peace and practices, are part of being human, and I gain strength from the fact that I’ve reached acceptance from the past.
When difficult things happen, which are also new opportunities to develop and deepen my acceptance practice, I just bear in mind my long experience with navigating the spectrum of acceptance and trust I will find my way back to my centre there.
This website/blog is an educational and informational resource for people living with illness, pain, disability, mental illness, and life crisis.
It is not a substitute for working with a doctor, registered psychologist or other professional. I cannot guarantee the outcome of following the recommendations provided and my statements about the potential outcome are expressions of opinion only. I make no guarantees about the information and recommendations provided herein.
By continuing to use/read/participate in this website/ blog you acknowledge that I cannot guarantee any particular results, as such outcomes are based on subjective factors that are not within my control. Therefore, following any information or recommendations provided on this website/blog are at your own risk. If you need health, business, or emotional advice, you should hire a doctor, business advisor, psychologist, or other professional.
This website contains affiliate links for companies I love and proudly support.