So I’ve just come back from a nice week in the Sun so of course I’m knackered!
No really it was great it was nice to switch off for a week from thinking about the future, the what if’s, going back to uni, my pain, all of it.
We mostly stayed by the pool seeing as the fact we were on holiday doesn’t change the fact that I’m not up to going out and about all day and I didn’t want to end up causing a flare up which would defeat the object of having a relaxing holiday. I took my walking stick which I loath to use a lot of the time but it does mean I can walk a bit further than without it. I don’t need it too often but I have to remember to have it with me as my physical state can change very quickly with little warning. It makes me walk at a manageable pace and it also means people are more considerate at not harassing me to walk faster or barging me out of the way. I took it everywhere even if I thought I could do without because although people are perceived to be accepting of it’s use despite my age I didn’t think people would understand why I only use it intermittently.
I know it shouldn’t matter what other people think but for the short time we were away I was more comfortable if I thought I was being judged less, as I’m learning not to care but it’s a process and I’m not there yet. The once anxious terrified girl that was constantly bullied still lurks within.
My case in point is our trip out to Menorca. It was a great place to go, lovely, hot and only a 2hr flight which my body just about managed to cope with. The 800-900 miles in the air wasn’t going to be as much as a problem as the couple of miles walking the convoluted route through Gatwick airport. Foreseeing this problem we booked for special assistance. We planned to arrive 2 hours before take off but due to unforeseen circumstances (diversion off the motorway near Maidstone, bottleneck as the M23 went down to one lane, directions to the off airport car-parking taking us the scenic route, waiting 20 mins for the bus to leave the car-park) we only checked in an hour before the plane was leaving. On our own this could have been a problem but we had special assistance which means you skip all the queues which other people were surprisingly friendly about. We get to the desk and the girl there (I say girl as she looked about 14 to me, obviously a sign of my age) informed us that we were a bit late weren’t we (in a decidedly pissed off tone). Well firstly we had never had assistance before and weren’t told that we were supposed to arrive any specific amount of time before, secondly we had intended to arrive an hour earlier but it was out of our control, thirdly the girl behind us turned out to also be on our flight so we can’t all be wrong surely. I was a bit taken aback and as I was already uncomfortable with asking for help (as all that know me know I hate it) this made me feel even worse. I was looking forward to going on one of those annoying beeping vehicles instead the guy on the desk (equally pissed off) put me in a wheelchair (I felt ridiculous as I can actually walk) and said “he’d HAVE to take me otherwise we’d miss our flight”. Again my anxiety increased as all who know me know I HATE being late, I don’t do late I only do early. We took off like a bat out of hell I do not know how he didn’t break anyone’s legs let alone not kill anyone, I was sorely in need of seatbelt and a helmet. When people didn’t get out of the way he’d have to break sharply, I don’t know how I didn’t end up on the floor. Poor mum was running flat out beside us to keep up. When we got to security the guys there were lovely. They were gentle checking my pain before carrying out their checks, they were friendly and reassuring. We continued on our journey at break neck speed with the assistance man keep muttering about us not making it and he was obviously really stressed out and annoyed that he had to take us. I struggled not to let this affect me but the stress began to rub off. He made me feel like a complete pain in the arse and I felt awful enough before as I desperately try to do everything possible to minimise the disruption my illness causes to others. When we got to the gate I reassured myself with the fact I would never have been able to walk that distance, it probably would have taken me four hours and I would have been so crippled I’d have spent the whole week in bed. As much as I hated to admit it, I did need help. We were handed over to another man at the gate who was again lovely. He was laid back and friendly. We said how we were sorry we were late but all the things that had delayed us and he said it didn’t matter we were here now(we still had 25 mins till we were supposed to take off).
When we were in our seats I took a deep breath. We made it. We had time. An internal battle raged whilst I tried to let the influence of the lovely friendly staff overcome the anxiety the two rude staff caused. I would not let this upset me or ruin my time. It was difficult and it took time but I managed to let it go. This is such an improvement as I would have let this cut me and would have ruminated over it for days letting it eat me up inside before. I’m not saying it didn’t pop up at times since but I managed each time to let it go.
Your only judge is God himself and he knows you, your heart and your current situation. So I say to you, not just people with invisible illnesses. Do not let people’s actions and attitudes dictate your feelings or distort your view of yourself and the world. Be a rubber ball, and let all those negative things bounce off, not a sponge absorbing them. Be compassionate knowing that you have no idea what someone is going through in this moment that might change their actions. If you can take it that step further (it takes hard work and practice believe me) and don’t just let these negative things bounce of aimlessly (be understanding these actions and attitudes tell you more about the other person than yourself) and forgive them, pray for them turn hate into love. It doesn’t have to be to their face, every small act of love and forgiveness changes the world for the better regardless of whether the recipient is aware of it or not.
We had a lovely holiday and the assistance I received in Menorca and on our return to Gatwick was full of compassion as it should be. I’m still on a journey to stop being ashamed of being ill and my needs but I’m moving forward. I have hope that I will not be ill forever but I am coming to accept it’s ok for me to be ill at this time.