I heard a quote the other day that really got me thinking:
“Avalanches are formed by tiny snowflakes”
Pretty obvious when we think about it. But if we were to consider what this actually means, I suppose it is the fact that something massive and potentially life changing can arise through something small and seemingly insignificant.
I don’t know whether it is because I have a bit more time to sit and ponder (I am currently off work as I am struggling with the effect it has on my Multiple Sclerosis), but I have really had the chance to think about this quote and how it applies to me.
An obvious example is the diagnosis of MS itself. Who knew that when I was a child and complaining about strange feelings of water running down my back (when there was nothing there) that I would later be diagnosed with a chronic progressive disorder such as MS? Many people who have been diagnosed with MS cite bizarre, seemingly harmless physical symptoms that, in themselves, seem quite innocent but later contribute or lead to their diagnosis.
But these ‘avalanches’ don’t always have to be negative. I’ve found that taking the little step of going to the GP to discuss my health and subsequently having time off work has given me extra energy that I haven’t felt in months (or even years). Don’t get me wrong, I am still shattered by lunch time – but I think that I having the luxury of a much needed daily nap has helped to balance my energy levels somewhat. I am also able to sit down when I need to and to just focus on what helps me to feel better. As I have explained in previous posts, I am not struggling so much with the act of actually seeing patients at work, but with being in work itself – it is a long, tiring day with the constant need to concentrate and ‘be on the ball’. It is amazing how much energy is taken up just by being ‘on’ all the time.
Using my energy at home has made me a better wife, Mum and, well, person. Ok my kids aren’t tiny anymore (9 and 7), but they still need me to be able to interact and play with them when they come in from school, to help with tea and then put them to bed. Not that I don’t do this when have been working but, I can tell you, it is a whooole lot harder to do with a smile on my face when I feel like I just need to be in bed myself.
Being off work means I have also had the chance keep on top of the house a bit more. I know that not everyone places a clean house at the top of their list of priorities, but, for me, it really is a case of ‘tidy house, tidy mind’. Seeing books, toys, dirty plates and bags hanging around makes me feel grumpy and on edge. I am definitely one for a clean, bright space and there is no room for junk in that aesthetic – not least because I have a habit of tripping over anything that is left on the floor. So, having the time to sort the house with my husband helping is so important to me. And the key is keeping on top of it. Not an easy feat, but if we get into the habit of tidying up as we go along and ensure that everybody (kids included) chip in, it will mean a much more chilled out Jen. Which can only be a good thing. So, little, daily tidying up tasks (snowflakes) = a much more pleasant atmosphere at home (avalanche).
I have spoken before about the importance of self-care for someone with a chronic illness (see this post) and this truly is an area where the ‘tiny snowflakes’ can make a huge difference. How much better does taking even half an hour out of your busy day to concentrate solely on you feel? I remember all too vividly the huge sigh of relief I made when putting my kids down for their naps, knowing that I was just going to have a bit of peace for a quiet cup of tea! It’s a bit different now in that the thing stopping my self-care isn’t necessarily the kids, but my own health. It can be hard to find the energy to focus on yourself when you have a chronic illness, but I really believe that it is so important to do so – both for our minds and for our bodies. I crochet, read and sometimes meditate to keep myself on an even keel. I also follow the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis lifestyle programme. Things I still enjoy but do less of are pampering myself, gardening and yoga. Sometimes even the effort of trooping up the stairs to grab my nail polish, or putting my jacket on to go out in the garden seems a bit too much. Someone once told me to keep a ‘self care’ kit – activities I enjoy doing, medication, a nice bottled drink and some snacks – in a little basket in the room where I normally sit, then everything is on hand. I think that is a great idea. Little things that will help you feel so much better by the end of the day.
‘Avalanches’ can be both positive and negative, when it comes to chronic illness. I guess what is important is trying not to focus too much on the negative but instead finding the little things that we can do to make our lives run as smoothly as possible.
Thanks for reading and I hope that everyone has a lovely week.