…what would you tell Younger You before, or at the start, of M.E?
I must be related to someone from the A-Team because I just disappeared into my garage and assembled an incredible contraption from a few old parts. I found a DeLorean, a flux capacitor and – handily – loads of plutonium!
So I have for us… a time machine. Whilst we can’t really stop ourselves getting M.E, maybe we can share our wisdom with our younger self to help with it all.
The idea of this blog is for two reasons:
- To help anyone reading who is recently diagnosed, still confused and worried, and could actually benefit from such advice right now!
- To help those who have had it longer realise how far we’ve actually come and what we’ve learnt
I kind of fall into both categories; I’m a veteran of M.E in one sense, having first been diagnosed in the early-mid 1990s. But by the turn of the century it was more of a background lurker and it’s only since late 2015/early 2016 that I had a relapse. So, with more known about it now as well, I’m learning to live with M.E all over again, this time as an adult.
So I’ll get the proverbial ball a-rollin’. I have three things I’d tell pre-M.E me…
- It doesn’t have to screw up your career and dreams. Some people may beg to differ on this one, particularly if your plan was to be a sprinter or something else requiring actual energy, or of course if you are bed or housebound. But for me, I missed 55% of my GCSE exams year. At the time, I was worried my grades wouldn’t be good enough and that I’d fall behind the competitive curve from the start. The pressure of grades is in the news in England a lot at the moment, at an even younger age of SATS tests. But, through my current eyes of managing to adapt and use my skills, and as someone who now recruits and looks through CVs when we’re hiring at work, I’d tell Younger Me not to add to my worries about this. Employers don’t just look at marks. They look at life experience, including voluntary things, they look at specialisms and want unique people who work hard. Whoever you are, you DO have something to offer, M.E or not. The same goes for interests outside of work. Yes, you might need to change and adapt things to make them more realistic for you. I’m a children’s football coach rather than a footballer myself, whilst a friend of mine with M.E just became a published author. So do not give up on your dreams. Ever.
- Listen to your body sooner. Having had M.E before, I really have no excuse here. I knew what it felt like and should have listened to my body well before it finally gave in and I broke down. For that matter, I should have also listened to my wife and my doctor who saw it coming! If something’s not right, do something different rather than try to push through it. That means seeking help and advice and changing your lifestyle as appropriate. You might not be able to fully ward it off, but you’ll cope with it a hell of a lot easier.
- Learn coping strategies earlier. This one is hot off the press really as I’m just discovering this at the moment. When you’re caught up in the fast pace of home and work life, it’s all too easy to never take time to stand and stare. Some of the calming and mindfulness things I’m learning now may well have been useful at an earlier stage and I’m sure I’ll learn other things such as pacing which would have benefitted Younger Me.
Your turn! What would you tell Younger You or a real reader who
is nearer the start of the M.E journey? Perhaps you’d tell them to find someone much sooner who ultimately helped you?
A doctor, a friend, religion or something else? Perhaps you’d tell them to slow down sooner or discover a certain managing technique earlier. Or would you tell them to make a different health/life decision somewhere?
Please – share your thoughts in the Time Drive Comments section below.
Note: It only works if you type at 88mph 🙂