I spent much of yesterday attempting to compose my thoughts and feelings concerning my meeting with Sheila at Compass and what was discussed there. I couldn’t really piece it all together, so instead I gave you some fluff about my weekend.
This morning I was inspired by a blog post from my friend Fiona. As most of you are aware, I’ve spent the majority of this year dealing with some issues: epilepsy, eating disorder, alcohol and general confidence in myself. What Fiona has to say has helped me find some perspective and regain my blogging muse. Fiona made me stop and think about all of the positive changes I have made in my life recently, without really noticing.
When I first began blogging last year I was an underweight, anorexic waif who felt horrified and immediately stopped eating if anybody commented on my weight. I was virtually housebound through fear of seizure, and I was so weak and tired that I spent a lot of my time in bed (we’ll ignore the incident with the seizure and the resulting broken toe – I had no choice in that instance) and if I knelt, crouched or sat on the floor I couldn’t get back on my feet without help from D – who developed some lovely biceps as a result!
I was isolated; a self-made prisoner in my own home. I avoided going anywhere that involved food, wouldn’t eat if I cooked and didn’t enjoy the process of cooking in the slightest. I had D drive me everywhere and I had to concede defeat when it came to the garden that D had so lovingly created for me (it was just lawn when I came here five and a half years ago; no borders, no flowers… just Buddleia, Corkscrew Hazel, Bay, Rosemary and a few other herbs).
Every time I tried to address my issues I would fall flat on my face, figuratively speaking. I would eat too much too soon and become sick – putting me off food again; I would overdo attempting to improve my fitness and a seizure would send me backwards and frighten me out of trying again.
Ironically my “lightbulb moment” came in a dream. I was sat with my Nan in “our” cafe; she clasped my hand in both of hers and said “Always remember love; slow and steady wins the race”. This is something she always told me in life and I can’t believe that I’d forgotten all about it.
The first thing I did was learn about pickling and preserving. Not only did I find that I enjoyed the entire process – from brining to packing – but my friends and family encouraged me in this hobby after sampling my produce and enjoying it. This continued hobby means that I’m on my feet in the house a lot more than I used to be.
I also took up dress-making. Having to cut fabric on the floor in lieu of having a table is a bit like a gymnastic workout: I have to twist, turn, crawl around the fabric and do a lot of stretching – forcing me to use my thigh muscles, the gluteus maximus muscles and to stretch my upper body. As a result I can now stand, sit, crouch, kneel and even sit on the floor with my legs crossed – without pain and without fear of not being able to get up again.
With D’s encouragement I have walked around Asda and been into town with him a few times, and have recently begun to walk to the corner shop with him rather than insist on the car. Initially I was afraid to walk to the shops without my stick, but unless I’ve had a seizure the evening before my stick tends to remain at home for these short walks now.
With all of this increased activity and some help from Compass concerning my non-dependant alcohol issues I now feel hunger. Not only do I now enjoy eating, but I genuinely enjoy cooking and I cook as often as possible. Earlier this week I created Ching He-Huang’s tofu, mushroom, chicken and black bean stir-fry – I even made the black bean sauce from scratch – and I vacuumed it up. I can now say that I have mastered chopsticks, and I do hope that my Mum has found me the Chinese soup spoons that I requested for Christmas, as the sauce sinks through to the bottom of the bowl and it feels wrong to use a teaspoon. Tonight I’m making my famous “ring-stinger” chilli and I am going to relish every mouthful.
I no longer inspect the wine rack when I have hunger pangs; I stick my nose in the fridge.
It doesn’t end there!
Because I’m autistic and often have trouble putting myself across in the way I intend, I’ve spent all these years here in Chelmsford avoiding regular social gatherings. I am actually quite a gregarious, outgoing person who loves to make friends and have a chat, but being autistic means that I’m somewhat afraid of strangers.
However, I’ve hidden away so long that I’m practically a recluse – and that has to end. Next week I’m visiting the local WI for the first time; nothing is going to frighten me off this time. Besides, I’ve promised some of my pickles for the Christmas raffle and so I can’t very well get out of it! I need something to do outside of the house and I need local friends. It shall be so!
I am coming out of my shell; I don’t want to be a Hermit Crab any more, no matter how pretty and comfortable my hidey-hole happens to be.
Do not ever let a disability take over your life; be the master of it and find things that you can do. Yes, you might have limits but, in time, some of those can be overcome.
As my Nan always said:
“Slow and steady wins the race.”
She was right, you know. So very right.