Monday, July 26, 2010

Even sick people need holidays

I’m been neglecting you all for a while and I do apologize. I’ve been in Sydney since Tuesday and for nearly two weeks before that was occupied with preparing to leave home and go away for about 3 weeks. There were multiple health-related appointments to get myself as “ship-shape” as possible, washing and packing to be done including a good 3 weeks supply of medications, plus preparing the house for some friends to move in while we are away.

At times I genuinely wondered whether the holiday would be worth all the effort. I wasn’t really all that keen. Preparing for something with a definite deadline (like taking a flight) is actually one of the most stressful things I can do these days. I was also concerned about having a holiday in a big city. It’s easy to overdo it when there’s so much of interest to see in a short space of time.

But I have to say that so far it’s been terrific and I am slowly being wooed by this amazing city. In my late teens and early twenties, I really loved Sydney, and my best girlfriend and I dreamed of moving here together after we finished studying.

CFS, I thought, had changed all that. A big, fast, brash city was no place for the sick and tired, or so I thought. However, I’m finding that it’s stimulating and inspiring to be surrounded by this mix of geographical beauty (we’re staying at Bondi Beach), history and such a cosmopolitan mix of inhabitants. And I do feel better for it. It’s something I’ve been aware of for a while – I really am under-stimulated mentally at the moment. But how to set things up at home so there’s enough without there being too much? And at home of course, there is just more stress by nature of the various obligations you have, so my capacity to tolerate stimulation there is less. It’s a bit of a tricky balancing act. 

And all this is without the expected benefits – the art and the shops! So far, I’ve been to Oxford Street, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Amazing Paper, Shop Kraft and to check out the upcoming art auction at Shapiro’s. My dh had his heart set on a design classic, an original Arco lamp, until we saw its impressive size – too large for our low ceilinged-unit, alas! Still, we have set our sights on another rather lovely item and plan to head to the auction tonight, credit card in-hand. Just for luck, for now I’ll only reveal that it is a print, but you can be sure that I’ll share all if we win.

I’ve realized how truly isolating and mind-numbing it is to sit at home, conserving your energy for the necessities of life! Even sick people need holidays!  

When I get home I’ll write some posts about some of the art of seen, but to finish off today I’ve got a few of my Sydney photos to show you.

 Watson-Will Bondi2385 Bondi Beach: Wonder what will become of these homes with global warming?

Watson-Will Off Oxford Street, near Berkelouw Books.


Saw this near the MCA –a lot of lonely people in this city!

Took these with the “toy camera” setting on dh’s Sony PSP. I like the effect!

Watson-Will Bondi-Pav Bondi Pavilion

Watson-Will Swiss Grand ceiling Ceiling at the Swiss Grand Resort 

Watson-Will Bondi-nightBondi at night

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Trying some yoga & journaling

Amanda Watson-Will 2007 Nervous system

I had a very busy week-end and start to the week, and found myself crashing yesterday. Today I am quite a bit better, but trying to use my energy cautiously. It is actually a pretty good result to only crash for 1 day. Perhaps my new routine is helping. I've been doing 15-20 minutes of gentle yoga most days. Yoga seems to be the thing for me that really makes a difference.

I only started doing yoga after I was diagnosed with CFS, and for a year or two I was able to attend a gentle beginners class with only a few “extra rests” to see me through. That period of time corresponds with the time when I was most well – but whether the yoga resulted in the wellness, or the wellness meant I could do yoga, well, of course it’s not really possible to say for sure.

Unfortunately, I had to give up the classes when I was trying to be relatively medication-free, and a lot of my symptoms became a lot worse. And although I’ve been back on the meds for over 4 years now, there’s been such a lot happening emotionally that I haven’t given the classes a try again.

About 2 months ago, driven crazy by the worsening of my migraines to once or twice a week, I decided to try some gentle stretching here at home. My headaches are caused by a variety of things – hormones, stress, posture, fatigue – and can easily trigger migraines.

And I have to say that since starting regular yoga, headache-wise there is a noticeable improvement.

I’ve only read a little about yoga, but it comes from the Hindu faith, although I was happy to read that you don’t have to be a “believer” to attain the benefits. It is an approach which definitely works with the body, mind and spirit in an holistic and integrated way – and this just seems to be what my body needs. I find the stretches can ease away a lot of pain, before it builds up too far. 

The other thing I have been trying to do regularly (not quite as successfully) is to journal or write. I’m not aiming for the “morning pages” thing of 3 pages everyday recommended in “The Artists Way”. My aim is a little bit different, in that I don’t usually just write whatever comes into my head, or set a target number of pages. I prefer to write down whatever it is that I have noticed I am ruminating about.

From practising awareness meditation, I’ve come to observe my thoughts reasonably well, so I use my writing to just dive in and write down the prevalent issue. Then I devote a little time to working it through, or if it is the sort of thing with no real solution (as is often the case with repetitive thoughts) I just write about how I feel.

As an occupational therapist, I was trained in the medical model, and although for OT it isn’t a great fit, I am naturally wary of “unproved” treatments and approaches. Nevertheless, I’ve been observing what happens in my body for long enough to know that the separation of mind and body touted in western medicine is a false way of thinking. How many times do you hear people say “I’ve got this important project at work and I’m really swamped, and now I have the flu – as if I don’t have enough to deal with already?” Well, yes exactly, and maybe that is why you have the flu right now?

I think the yoga and the writing are helping me to be more aware, to keep things moving and not build up emotional blockages in my body. I know I’ve taught myself to suppress emotions so well that in the past I haven’t even been aware that an issue is an issue until a migraine or some other physical symptom pulled me up with a crash. Now if I can just overcome the very human urge to give up on a routine that is working well for me…