I discovered the BlogHer platform recently. This is the post I wrote to introduce myself to that community yesterday. I thought it was worth sharing here too.
Hello, I want to introduce myself to the BlogHer community. I’ve been out of paid employment since May 2013 following a bad MS relapse. I was forced by my health to retire, and for six months could barely get out of bed. When I had enough energy I would sit up in bed, watch catch up TV on my iPad and knit. For a long time I believed that’s what my life was reduced to. Gradually I began to regain some energy, and I knew that I need some sort of “meaningful occupation”, as it is termed by psychologists, to keep me mentally healthy. In November 2013 a whole new vista was opened up to me when I got a place on a City and Guilds course called Creative Textile Techniques. I had some home sewing experience so at least I knew how to operate a sewing machine, but this course gave me much more. I learned about three core elements of textile art: Line, Colour, and Texture, and fell in love with hand dyeing cotton fabric. I learned free motion machine embroidery, hand embroidery, and many more experimental techniques like making snippet fabric. In short, I had a ball. I also had a sense of purpose that losing my job had robbed me of. Since gaining my level one with distinction, in July 2014, I went on to complete the level 2 this year. My tutor has graded me with a distinction again, we’re just waiting for the examiner to visit the college in July.
So what, might you ask, does this have to do with Multiple Sclerosis and disability? Well, for me, it means that if I can do something creative on the days when I am not too fatigued it makes me feel better. Some days that may be very little, like crocheting a beanie hat for the local prem baby charity; at other times it can be attending a class or a workshop. I have to listen to my body, pace myself, and not go at things hammer and tongs. MS affects everyone differently, and for some people being creative may seem to be too big a hurdle to overcome. If you are reading this and feel like that then I suggest you think about the things that you can do, the things that make you happy, and give you joy. Substitute those things for creativity; do as much as you can of what stimulates you, and that you love. Creativity isn’t a cure for this disease, it’s just one tool for managing it.