Lockdown malaise

When the prospect of being furloughed and staying home to continue with my uni work first became a thing, I was quite relieved. I am not too proud to admit that I have been struggling to fit two part-time jobs in with my uni work. You see, there’s one thing about me that only those who know me know, and that is that I live with fibromyalgia. I haven’t mentioned it because I want people to feel sorry for me, far from it. It’s what makes me who I am. But it also makes life come with an extra struggle. And makes everything I do come with extra pain, both physical and mental.

Having time to work on my uni work without anything else getting in the way, took a bit of the weight off. Or, at least I had hoped it would. But I hadn’t anticipated the effect, being cut off from my friends and family, would have on me and my mental health. I am a deeply social person, I love to spend time with those who are important to me and I don’t like being alone for too long. So now I find myself shut off from the world, like everyone else, and struggling, not only with the physical limitations fibromyalgia places on me, but with the struggles I have with my own thoughts and worries. I worry for my children and my family and close friends, while dealing with how the stress is triggering my fibromyalgia symptoms. Stress is a major trigger at the best of times but now, it is having a huge impact, much more than I realised.

However, as I said, I don’t want sympathy. I always say that I may have fibromyalgia but it doesn’t have me. While undoubtedly it has an impact on my everyday life, I refuse to allow it to control it completely. But I am lucky, I have had time to come to terms with having an incurable, chronic illness. I have grieved for my old life and had therapy to accept my new life. And this Coronavirus has shown the rest of the world and myself, what is important.

So I am learning to accept the things I cannot change and to work on the things I can. I have realised that there is one person that I don’t give my 100% commitment to like I do with loving and supporting my friends and family. That person is me. I set myself unrealistic goals that I cannot achieve and when I fail, I heap even more self-hatred and disappointment onto myself. That must change.

In the few weeks that remain of lockdown (well hopefully) I am going to focus on what is important right now and worry about everything else later. I am going to try and be kinder to myself. To lavish the attention I give to others, onto myself and come out of this pandemic a much stronger person and ready to take on anything that life has to throw at me!

For now, let’s get back to what I do best, my art and giving to others. If I can help just one person feel not so alone from creating this post, then it will be worth it. No doubt some will judge me for it, as they are free to do, but I hope it helps people to understand me a little better too. And see that my art isn’t just pretty pictures, that they have some depth to them too. That I have some depth.

Published by Tracy J Hughes

English artist living and working in Wales. A BA and MA Fine Art graduate from Aberystwyth University. Working in acrylic paint and coloured pencil creating still lifes and beach scenes.

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