Little Windows

How are you at guessing the big picture from a tiny glimpse of a picture? You know the kind of thing where you see a very odd looking shape and then the picture pans out and it turns out to be a car, that kind of thing. But what can happen in reality is that we see a triangle shape with a line through it and decide that we are looking at a kids toy. Only as the whole is revealed do we see it’s a car.

Life gives us little glimpses through small windows into other people’s lives. We see a small part of the picture, often a confusing part. The bit we see can seem to make sense and we can draw conclusions based on what we see. Just as with the small part of a picture that can confuse and mislead we can assume something totally wrong.

Let me give you an example from personal experience. I find that being physically limited takes its toll on my strength and concentration. That’s separate to the disability itself. So when I go to the trouble and it is a lot of trouble, of going out, I have already used a lot of extra energy. But adrenaline and excitement of being out compensate to a degree. Therefore the impression I give is of someone alert and energised. Add to that my natural sense of fun and positive outlook and you would be forgiven for thinking ‘all is well.’ The glimpse you get when meeting me, that tiny window into my life gives you a totally wrong view of what the inside is like. I present to the world differently to reality.

I am not alone in being like this. Not just those with long term illness and disability but also those who are depressed, or just overloaded with work and commitments. Stress, illness, pain, disability and anxiety can be easily masked to our friends. The small windows people look in through at lives, don’t give an accurate picture of who we are or what we are feeling. Because we don’t want it to.

I don’t claim to have all the answers. I am aware of many issues and I do try to tackle some of them. I realise that with this one I am particularly bad at showing reality. When I meet people and they say, ‘it’s so good that you are doing so much better.’ I tend to agree, or point to medication or time. What I avoid doing is highlighting the truth. The truth which is that they are only glimpsing a small part of who I am and what I feel. If they could see more fully, they would see the pain, limitations and exhaustion inside. They would see the effort I am making. They would see the consequences when I get home from that short time out. I still spend 90% plus of my time in bed, to enable the less than 10% of time out of it. Even at those levels I am struggling to maintain enough strength to do it. Yes I can put on a good act. But shouldn’t I stop? Shouldn’t I be real?

As I said I put out thoughts not all the answers and I am sure many of you reading this will identify and think you are the same. So the question applies to you as well. Is it time we stopped only showing ourselves through a small window to the world? Should we step outside as we are and be real about our physical and emotional pain. Show the world our limitations. Or shall we continue only letting the world look in through small windows.

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Author: Mike Nevin

I decided to write about the funny side of being cared for. I am a full time wheelchair user with daily carers. It's my experiences with my carers that inspired this blog.

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