My card games have come up with a new wrinkle. You’ll tell me it’s not new and I’m just unobservant. I get extra points for doing odd things. For instance, 50 gold coins for clearing 8 spades in a row, random or what? That appeared today after I happen to clear 8 spades in a row. They are fitting the scoring to my achievements: moving the goalposts. Moving goalposts to fit your achievements is not a bad idea when you are limited/disabled.
Before I was ill, I hardly ever sat down, hated doing nothing. I hardly ever watched TV. I was always up and about, doing major DIY projects, re-building car engines, walking great distances, swimming, exploring, etc. When I became ill the hardest thing was being forced to stop. I had to move the goal posts. For me, writing has been a life changer. Something that occupies my brain and uses my imagination. I have always loved writing, but never sat still long enough to do much of it. Instead of focussing of the loss of my mobility, I focus on writing.
If you have recently had a limitation dropped upon you; and it can feel like that: As if a great weight has been dropped upon you. If that has happened to you, then my advice is this:
1/ Take a bit of time, you will need to grieve; but don’t stay in that grief; don’t wallow.
2/ After taking that time, grieving about the loss (I know that to a degree, that is ongoing) look at what you can do, not what you can’t.
3/ Think of practical or mental things to do. Hobbies you have long since let go of, maybe from childhood. Things you always wanted to do, but lacked time for. The very first thing I did was lay in bed listening to podcasts (you might prefer music, or audio books.) Then I read all the classic books that I had always wanted to read.
Remember, that is just what I did. You will have your own ideas. From reading to puzzle books, watching every movie you wanted to see; to listening to audio books. If your hands work well enough you might do jigsaws or knitting. Perhaps a craft or model making (these also depend on dexterity and sight, find what works for where you are.) If your brain is up to it you might study. I am only throwing ideas around.
The OU (Open University) or an equivalent in your country, are brilliant if you are up to studying. The OU make adaptations for disabled people, both in time allowance and physical needs. Maybe you could do that course you always wanted. It’s online, done at home, from your bed if needed.
Remember, the important thing is to adjust your perspective, your expectation, your goals.
I have already said that we need time to acknowledge our loss and grieve. But after that, no amount of shouting, screaming, saying ‘it’s unfair,’ or ‘why me?’ will make any difference to our lot. It just makes you feel worse.
Put the goal post somewhere else and score a goal.
Move the winning line and cross it.
Set up that target in a place you are aiming and hit the bullseye.
But this is not a contest, the goals and winning I am talking about are not competing against anyone else. You are just achieving something, taking back control. The sense of hopelessness and failing that we can go through with the disability/limitation of illness or following life changing accidents knock us flat. It can give us a sense of powerlessness.
I am saying this: you can take control again. Even if it is an activity that is totally in your head. No physical movement at all. I began this process before I could even leave my bed, by listening to podcasts, then music. I moved the goal posts. Achievement was no longer how far I could walk. Nor what I could physically do. I changed the goal to one I could achieve. Make those goals achievable and you have taken control again.
Any achievement can be a mountain climbed when you are seriously ill or disabled.
Each small step is a marathon completed.
Move the finish line and feel the sense of being back in control.
I know that illness robs us of a sense of being in control.
These small steps help us in feeling empowerment and purpose.
I have written this last series of blogs because I believe they are universally true. I hope they can be of help to some.
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