I know it's been a while.
I've got lots to tell you. But will start by saying, it's good to be back. How have you been? What have you been up to? Have you had a fantastic Christmas and New Year? I hope so.
O.K. So, here goes...
I believe in the power of stories. I always have, even when I was small. What I believe in more than anything is the power held in each person telling their story and having it heard. I think it's very important that we hear each other, and metaphorically "walk a little in someone else's loafers" so that we can understand each others' experiences in the world. It's why I love bloggers and blogging so much. I get to hear how life is for other people and share pieces of their journey. Frankly, it's like being given carte blanche to read someone else's diary. Without having to hide under the bed while you're doing it. What's not to love?
I started this blog in 2009 as a way of beginning to tell a part of my story as I started to explore being creative. But I kept another part of my story to myself. It's something I didn't write about here in my blog last year when I was writing posts more regularly. This blog was the place I could come to have a break from that particular part of my story. But not telling you about it has felt like I'm not sharing a large part of how my life is at the moment, so after much lip chewing, I've decided that I want to share something with you.
For a while now, I've not been very well.
I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, otherwise known as M.E, 7 years ago, and although I am hopeful that at some point in the future I will be free of it, at the moment I'm not. Sadly, it causes me a lot of problems, and so there are times when I cannot blog, and cannot be creative and cannot read other blog posts or respond to lovely comments I have received here. I've been chewing my lip a lot, trying to work out how much of this I've wanted to disclose.
This is mainly because people's reactions to M.E. can sometimes be a bit difficult to deal with, in all honesty.
M.E. often tends to get mistaken for:
1. General apathy
3 A lack of trying hard enough to get well
And that's just some of the medical profession. Ahem.
As I've said in the past, I tend to err on the side of keeping my personal life personal. Although there are times when I can't hold my own water ( Claire, I most humbly apologise for that night in 1994 when I sang like a canary... And not in a good way), when it comes to talking about not being well, well, I just don't feel comfortable doing it. Instead I tend to keep it all to myself, and struggle on. Keeping the struggles private.
I don't really want to do that any more. It feels as if I am hiding something about myself. I'm not. It's just that, like I said before, my blog has been the place I've come to be me. Without having to think about being ill.
Having done lots of thinking (If there's one good thing that comes out of having to lie down a lot, it's that you get plenty of time to think... And chew your lip... Oh, and count your wrinkles... 6 gooduns and three that aren't really putting their back into it... Who am I kidding? I've lost count.) and what came up for me was that being ill was becoming something like a secret here on my blog, and I didn't like that. I'm not ashamed I've got M.E. I'm sad I've got M.E. and can't do what I used to be able to do. And I'm very sad that people don't always understand what M.E. is and the impact it has on a person's life.
Somehow, not telling you I'm not well hasn't felt very self-accepting. And, for me, 2011 is all about self-acceptance, self-kindness and celebrating what's great about life.
I started this blog in 2009 to explore what I could do, rather than lament what I couldn't. And so my journey into creativity began. I was hoping being creative would bring about a miraculous cure and I would be free of M.E. It didn't. I was hoping being creative would make me happy. It did.
One of the aspects of having M.E. that I have found most difficult is the sense of powerlessness that comes with the illness. Literally and metaphorically speaking. The illness is often misunderstood by the medical profession, the media, government agencies, and many people who don't have first hand experience of it. The grinding reality of dealing with that on a daily basis can be very demoralising. On top of dealing with the symptoms.
Writing this blog and exploring being creative have given me a connection to who I am beyond the illness. I am Emma who likes jewellery, Emma who loves textiles, Emma who thinks cup cakes and sausage sandwiches are sent from Heaven, and Emma who thinks ready salted crisps are better than alcohol. (I really do. I get drunk on the fan-ta-bulousness of those little bleeders every time I open a bag.)
I don't know if I'll talk much about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis here on my blog. My blog is the place I come to celebrate what's completely fabulous in my life, and to have a rest from being ill. So I might mention it if it's getting me down, or if I can't blog for a while. But other than that, I probably won't say too much about it. M.E. is something I currently live with, but it's not who I am. I want people to see me first. Not an illness.
I've included two short films with this post that explain really well what M.E. is all about. Please take the time to take a look. Someone you know may have M.E. and not be telling you about it because they're afraid people won't understand.
I hope you understand where I'm coming from with this post. And thank you for still choosing to follow my blog, even though I haven't been around. If I don't post for a while it's because I'm not able to. If I don't reply to your messages or comments, it's not because I'm not supremely glad to receive them, but because I'm not able to get back to you right then. I have to balance everything I do with rest. I also have quite a lot of pain and discomfort and so am not always able to type or make anything. There I've said it. I've admitted to the world, that at the moment, I'm not well. And the world as I know it hasn't collapsed. What a load-off.
P.S. I've been teaching myself to crochet and have made a wool flower. It looks like a model of my lower intestines but I'm very proud of it.