Author, Mum and Chronic Illness Warrior: Anna's Story
I have a variety of roles and challenges and, if I do not rest and pace myself through my day or listen to the signals of body and mind, things begin to unravel. I am a mum of three and one of mine has been very unwell for a prolonged period; I also manage chronic pain, plus weakness down one side after neurological damage and I have decades of coping with mental health challenges which have occurred since childhood as a result of complex and extended trauma.
I retreat for short periods, and I use an eye mask and the YUYU Bottle. These things are cues and I do respond to them well
For me, teaching part-time and writing books, dealing with the interruptions of caring, pain and really inconvenient mental health adventures, I have to do two things. One is to make time to rest; to put worries on hold, or tasks: to take miniature holidays. One of the things that has happened through my son's illness is that professional help or joined-up care of any kind has been difficult to find and that has been upsetting and stressful. It is not entirely possible to get away from this, so that is a time where the rest breaks are vital. I cannot be on alert constantly or I will be more tired, my mental health will deteriorate, and everything will be made worse.
I retreat for short periods, and I use an eye mask and the YUYU Bottle. These things are cues and I do respond to them well. I like the warmth and the comfort and those little spells of time with extra care really help me. I also like lavender, rose or geranium oils dabbed on the YUYU Bottle and add a podcast. I am a great reader, but it is either sound or blacked-out silence I like for this period. Sometimes I add in earplugs. I also use my Bottle when I am working, or travelling, strapped on, because it is reassuring, and anxiety can bubble up. Or I start fretting about my son; my mind darting ahead. So there: little holidays.
Pictured: Wearing the Body Bottle Black Panther
I mentioned I must do two things to get me through. The first was the rest. The second, allied to it, is restfulness, and cultivating the quality of that as I work and, with that, being aware of using time in a productive way, but not as you think. I am thinking specifically of writing my books here, but you could apply what I am about to say to any extended creative project. Writing a book is not only - or even mostly - tapping away at a keyboard. It is asking small questions and keeping on doing that, ten-minute increments of work, gently focused thought, and reading. There will be longer periods, but I have put my own books together, over six years, in small increments because I had to rethink what creative work was and work with what I have. I have got more productive, ironically, because limits create possibilities too.
There will be many sad and frustrating moments, but also many of intense and joyous focus
If you are interested, you might like to offer a pledge - a bit like pre-ordering the book and there are lots of other treats too - towards my seventh book and first crowdfunded book, The Alchemy, I go into detail on all of this and encourage you gradually to see what you can do and show you how, slowly, sometimes stealthily, you may put it together.
I hope that whatever you are doing today, you will find time to let comfort be part of your day and garner a bit of strength from that (I have the YUYU Bottle round my shoulders as I write; it is really cosy) and also that if there is a creative project you want to pursue, you can have a bit of faith in your ability to see it through - slowly and gently as need be.
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