Shout out for support

It’s 6:30 on a Saturday, I’ve been awake and up for over an hour already – madness? Well… quite possibly! But I also feel more at ease than I have for a while. Why? Because I’ve just spent time with husband before he has gone off to a long day at work.

I’ve become so aware over recent weeks how much I benefit from familiarity. I’m not sure that makes sense so let me explain. There have been a few occasions recently when I’ve been feeling particularly tense or anxious and then the husband has arrived and I just relax. I know I don’t need to put on a show, we chat about meaningless stuff, or we just sit in silence, and it’s all good. We talk through concerns as well, and try to support each other, and I know that he has got my back – even though there are times when I go mute and don’t talk at all! I know he’s my husband – but he really is a legend! And I guess this is what marriage is!

It’s not just him though! I am amazed by the amount of support that I have, whether that’s the daily messaging with E, the support of colleagues at work, a chat with mum, those who I know regularly pray for me, or those who will send messages. It’s overwhelming – in a fantastic way!

The thing is…

They are all there throughout, I am aware they are supporting me know when I’m struggling, but I also know they are celebrating with me when things are good, and plodding along with me when life is just happening.

I only hope that I can provide the same for them.

We all need to be part of a community, where we can support and be supported. I have to say, most, not all, of my support, comes from people I have met through Church. I am so grateful that it is a part of my life.

So a big SHOUT OUT to those who have and are supporting me, an especially big SHOUT OUT to the husband, the mummy, E & S!

Savouring the smiles

It’s not been a great couple of weeks but on Thursday a friend kept pointing out the good to me.

It is very easy to focus on what the struggles are, but I am trying my hardest to acknowledge the good, enjoy the laughter, and savour the smiles.

I was challenged in one of the acts of worship this week (assembly) that in order to flourish we need God, and we need community.

I think this is even more important when you’re struggling yourself.

I have been blessed this week by E making me bawl like a baby, but also reminding me how much I am loved by God and by others. I was blessed by my friend pointing out the good – because she knew that I wasn’t feeling great. I have been blessed by pupils making me laugh. I have been blessed by the husband knowing what I need, whether that is space, rubbish tv or homemade maltloaf! And I have been blessed by a community surrounding me in smiles, texts, and prayers.

It is easy to wait until the fire comes before we put it out, BUT when you are part of a community, that can often lead to prevention of the fire.

The title of this blog is Life: enjoying not enduring – that is a lovely idea, but sometimes it is a lot more effort to enjoy than it is to endure. It has been difficult for me to try and focus on the good, but I do encourage you to savour those smiles, it can be a real glimmer of hope!

Easter: the power not the chocolate

Happy Easter.

Over the last couple of days I have found it a real privilege to share in the story of Easter with so many others.

On Friday the husband and I participated in the walk of witness through Canterbury, joining with people from other congregations in the City. This morning I went to Church as usual, passing a couple of friends on the way and being able to say happy Easter to them. At our church service we had many visitors along with a couple of Baptisms as well. This evening, because the husband had been at work this morning we went to the Church we used to be members of and it was lovely to be worshipping with friends, as well as others we didn’t know. My social media has also been inundated with commemorations of Holy Week and Easter from all over the country, and even all over the world.

Whereas for many, tomorrow Easter will be forgotten other than working the way through numerous Easter eggs. For me, for my husband, for those I’ve worshipped with this week, and for Christians all over the world, today we remember the power of the cross, the risen God and the new life that we are able to live each day.

Easter isn’t about chocolate, it’s about celebrating the day that is the foundation of the Church family; the reason there were shouts of “He is risen” around the world today; and the reason people join together in worship around the world throughout the year.

Alleluia

Whatever the weather

I was in Birmingham last week visiting family with the husband. When we were out we found that when we were in the sun it was hot, I had to put sunglasses on, and sometimes there was a need to take a layer off. Then… as soon as we were in the shad it was really cold, the sunglasses had to go back on top of the head, and the layer was put back on. On the train and bus journeys I found that my sunglasses were going on and off so much that it was probably causing more of a strobe-like effect than passing through trees with the sun shining through.

Anywho… don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a new experience, and I wasn’t shocked at all, BUT it got me thinking. The thing that stood out for me the most was the frequency that the change was happening, but also the huge difference between being in the sun and being in the shade.

My life has been like this recently, and I feel so sorry for my friends and family, but so immensely grateful for them. Within a week I will go from being happy, positive, getting on with it, to a crying wreck of a person, to angry and anxious. Sometimes this can all happen within a day! The contrast is immense, the frequency is immense, I don’t know whether I’m coming or going and it takes a lot out of me.

When we were out in Birmingham we continued with our journey no matter what. It got a bit frustrating at times, especially, for me, the raising and lowering of sunglasses – feeble I know! That’s what I’m having to do at the moment, is just keeping going. There are times when I cover myself up and hide away from the elements, but there are other times when I try to soak in as much as I can whilst I can. Throughout it all I have the constant foundation of my faith, and also the love and support of my friends and family who know whether to allow me to protect myself from the storm, come and dance in the puddles, or come and soak up the sun rays and enjoy the bright spell.

At the moment I’m not really in control (at least I don’t feel I am), but I can be aware of what is best for me in the different weather fronts of my life, and be aware of the frequency that it can change. I can also look forward to the spring season of growth and blossom – I really do pray that comes around again soon!

Pain of the Brain

I was teaching a class today, and as part of the particularly tricky lesson subject, I was listing different things that I am. This list included daughter, wife, sister, teacher, friend, epileptic… when one of the pupils stopped me in my tracks and said ‘I wouldn’t include that miss’ I was taken aback but tried to explain that it is a big part of who I am and has had an impact on who I have become to which he responded ‘I understand that, but I wouldn’t say it was a specific character that you are like wife or teacher, but is part of who you are’.

I was nearly speechless and was definitely blown away by what was said. I think it was particularly poignant because it was said today. As I said in my previous blog I’m a bit confused and frustrated at the moment because of my brain.

About 27 years ago I found myself on the bathroom floor and that was the start of my journey of being diagnosed with epilepsy. It has been quite a journey with ups, downs, various cocktails of drugs, and numerous anecdotes and injuries.

I think previously I would have agreed with the pupil today that it was just a part of me. It obviously impacted me, but I would say I had epilepsy rather than I’m an epileptic.

Over recent weeks, for the first time in 27 years I have felt Disabled. And it’s been a shock

What’s the difference?

There have been a few times when I’ve had to ask the husband to come and meet me because I didn’t feel safe walking on my own; I am having more regular myochlonic seizures (twitches) which is resulting in me dropping pens, bumping into things, losing footing, forgetting words; I don’t feel safe to go out running; and this is the tip.

I have been questioning whether I am able to do my job any more, and have even had moments of thinking it would be better to return to the medication that made me feel awful.

I am also aware, from various conversations, that a lot of this is in my head alone. But in my head it’s affecting me differently and I have ridiculous expectations of myself, so I’m questioning whether I should continue or can continue.

But then I listen to the comment from the pupil today, I look at the definition of disability which is

a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.

Yes, I am limited by my brain, but it’s also my brain that enables me to do my job and do we not encourage people to focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities?

It’s much easier to write this than act it, but I need to remember that this is just another par of the journey that me and the brain are going on. It’s going to be tough one, but who knows what will come out of it?

Memories Matter?

It’s been a while since I wrote… why? I’ve been confused, annoyed and frustrated. I’ve been questioning a lot, especially about work, the day to day, and how things are being affected by my brain. It seems to be playing up particularly spectacularly at present…

…or so I thought…

I definitely do think that is the case and I’ll be writing more about that side of things soon, but then social media was sharing memories with me. These were memories ranging over a number of years, and it seems that I may have felt I was under control and the brain was stable but actually that has never really been the case over 27 years!

I needed those memories, to remind me that I’m on a journey, and will continue to be on a journey. It may feel like a particular struggle at the moment, but by the looks of it I’ve been there before. That doesn’t mean it’s going to make it easier, but I know I’ve made it through to more stable times before as well.

It’s dangerous to live in the past completely but it is important to remind ourselves of things that have happened. I was doing some revision with some year 13 pupils at lunch today and we were looking at the problem of evil and suffering. One of the arguments we were looking at was how pain is necessary for us to develop as humans. Again it can be dangerous to use this as reasoning for everything… but it can also be encouragement in the tough if you realise where you’ve come from and what you’ve come through.

So I’m grateful for the memories of social media this week, they have been very timely (obviously) and the impact has been noticed!

I can see clearly… or can I?

This morning I nearly serenaded my colleague with”I can see clearly now I have glasses on” but there was someone teaching in her room so I couldn’t get to her, I’m sure she was gutted! Why was I going to serenade her?

My morning consists of getting up, showering, getting dressed, sorting breakfast, eating/drinking whilst reading, then a 45 minute walk to work. This morning I was on the final stretch of my walk when I realised I hadn’t put in my contact lenses!

As you can tell my eyesight isn’t that horrific, after all I managed to read a book, and get close to work without realising! I made it through most of the morning before the amazing husband dropped my glasses off!!!

When I put my glasses on, I realised how blurry my vision had been, and suddenly there was some clarity. Then… when I was walking home it started raining, my glasses were covered, my vision was impaired again!

This is the perfect analogy for me at the moment.

I seem to be in an endless cycle of being confused by my brain and it’s activity, then having moments of clarity when I think I understand what is going on and how it’s affecting me and how I can deal with it, then in a sudden moment back to the confusion again.

Definitely more of the confusion than the clarity at the moment. There is no answer, well there isn’t really a question it is just an observation.

Speaking of observation… I had pupils commenting on the glasses, as they are not used to me wearing them. I also had to take a second look on a few occasions as although I wear glasses at home I’m not used to seeing myself in them in work.

Another useful analogy for me at the moment, as I’m having to look at myself in a different way at the moment. Realising that it’s still me, but different to how I’ve seen myself. Im going to have to leave that one there for the moment… it’s a work in progress but I have a feeling there are going to be some more identity ones in the near future!

Here’s hoping for some clarity on that one!