A couple of weeks ago, I started to feel ill, and got a pain in my side. I’d had a similar pain before, which died down after a day or so, and didn’t think much of it. However over the next couple of days it steadily got worse, until I found myself in hospital, hooked up to a drip with a nasty infection in my kidney. I was there for four days, and missed out on several events, meetings, and commitments thanks to being ill. Now having never been in hospital for myself (but extensively so with my Mum over the years) it was a very strange, and stressful experience. I was in an unfamiliar place, I felt absolutely rubbish, and I couldn’t get a decent nights sleep thanks to pain, lots of noises and lights on the ward, and sometimes being woken up to have my blood pressure checked/blood taken/some other reason. The nurses, doctors, and HCAs at Lewisham hospital did a fantastic job of making me better, and I am extremely grateful to them all, but it still really sucked.
After getting over the slightly traumatic experience of my actual illness and hospital stay, I began to feel pretty down about all the things I’d missed out on as a result. There was an amazing residential I was supposed to go on with The Young Women’s Trust in Birmingham, a talk about being a young carer for another Team V leader, a ‘speed mentoring’ event for Women Of the World week at The South Bank Centre, a meeting about apprenticeships with Youth Employment UK, an event about happiness and mental well-being of young people run by Fixers UK, and the AGM for Young Women’s Trust. Those of you that know me well will know that I love all of the things I do, and love to be busy with meetings and events. Having to miss all of these amazing things because my body had messed up made me upset, frustrated, and more than a little anxious. The events which took place whilst I was actually in hospital were the easiest for me to accept missing, but it was the things in the following week or so, whilst I was at home but still recovering, which I most struggled with not being able to go to. I am really good at pushing myself a bit too far, trying to do too much when I’m ill and then making myself feel worse. I’ve had lots of friends, and my amazing boyfriend, making sure I didn’t do that this time, but it didn’t mean it wasn’t difficult. Even now, a week and a half after being discharged from hospital, I am only just starting to get back to ‘normal’.
As I start to get back into real life, and am feeling much better, I’ve had some time to reflect on the whole experience, and what life lessons I can take from it (I love a good life lesson from a crappy situation). The most obvious, and most helpful thing which stands out to me, is dealing with the times when life doesn’t go to plan. Over the years I’ve had a lot of experience with traumatic things happening, and just keeping on going through them. However this has been the first time I’ve had something major happen directly TO me, rather than in my world around me. It can make you feel like you’ve failed when something comes along and messes up your plans, and that’s how I felt for a while. Then I realised that, actually, all I was doing with that thought process was keeping myself in the negative mindset, and further extending my lack of productivity and happiness. Of course it wasn’t my fault, or anyone else’s, that I got ill, and there was also nothing I could do except rest up and wait until I was better. Trying to fight those fundamental facts was only causing me more distress. So I tried my best to ease up on myself, and just relax. Easier said than done, but something which has helped me a lot is the fact that my boyfriend came down from the North the day I was discharged from hospital, and looked after me for most of the week. Having him there gave me an excuse to chill out and just enjoy spending time with him, as well as the fact that he wouldn’t let me overexert myself whilst I was getting better!
Something else which has really helped me, and which I could talk about all day, is making lists and planning. Stationery is one of my weaknesses (or strengths, depending how you look at it!) and I am in my element when I’ve got a coffee and my planner open sorting out what I need to do and when. Whilst I was resting up, I started thinking a lot about what I need to do to get back into the swing of things, and also caught up with all my emails and contacts to make sure I knew what was going on in the near future. Just by planning out future activities and projects I felt a lot less anxious about the things that I’d missed, and more positive about moving forward. Whilst you can’t always control the setbacks you encounter along your journey, you can decide how you react to them, and move forward.
Next time you have a setback, don’t let it pull you off course, use it as an opportunity to learn something, and move forward as best you can!
Keep smiling =)