… Is what my friend L said to me last week when we had a brief catch-up.
Like many I find myself on several calls (and zoom chats) every day, so by the time she and I were speaking I was feeling somewhat saturated. But we stayed on long enough for her to describe how strange it is that she feels like her routine hasn’t changed much at all. And how everything around her is suddenly moving more at her pace. I.e.: no pressure to have be running to activities or events, not a whole lot to have to do out in the world.
As someone living with chronic pain and with general low energy, this pressure to be social and productive (in the time before the pandemic) has been a weight for her to carry, both with regards to worrying about needing to cancel plans at the last minute (if she’s not feeling well) and with feeling like she’s not contributing as fully to society as she could (or once did).
This conversation continued when I spoke with another colleague who mentioned that many of her entourage, folks also living with varying types of chronic conditions (both physical and mental), are the people around her who are the best equipped to be dealing with this current situation.
“These are people who have all the tools,” she said.
“They know how to stay home and deploy self-care. They are often quite isolated in their day-to-day and so now, suddenly having to be shut-ins they are not freaking out, but just dealing with it and quite well, doing all the things they have been teaching themselves to do.”
She pointed out that this creates a fascinating role-reversal in which those who are used to being “on top” are now reeling from the crisis, whereby those who are used to being ostracized are now feeling quite at home. This doesn’t make the overarching reality of the crisis easier on any one person but mostly to highlight that those living with chronic illness are much better positioned to move more easily into a now increasing need to normalize slowing down.
Normalizing slowing down. Normalizing taking breaks. Normalizing staying home.
Normalizing NOT ALWAYS BEING BUSY AND PRODUCTIVE – and still finding and feeling a sense of self-worth.