Recently* a friend told me something surprising.
She said that I was impressive.
It took me some time to soak this peculiar idea up. I am far too used to thinking of myself as the opposite, and so the idea that I might be considered ‘impressive’ was altogether too strange to be believed. I mean, yes, the website header does include a cartoon picture of me riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex which cuts a pretty impressive figure, but spoiler alert, that never actually happened. That’s just artistic license.
The cold, hard reality is that I’m 25 years old and I’m useless at most useful things, such as social interaction, basic time management, showing initiative, caring even slightly about money and physically doing things. I don’t even have a job or any prospect of getting one until my CFS improves.
If you’re thinking that I’m being hard on myself and want to assure me that without CFS I would be a dinosaur-riding force to be reckoned with, then thank you, really, that’s very sweet. But you’re embarrassingly wrong. My maximum pre-CFS coping level just about covers going to the supermarket. That is to say, sometimes. Certainly if it isn’t peak shopping hour. Actually even then still maybe not, because when push comes to shove I can drink my tea without milk, and let’s be honest, the toilet paper situation is never really desperate until you’ve also run out of tissues.
Being impressive is a nice idea though, and it grew on me. Around this time I also realised I hadn’t made a blog post in a while, so I made a list my achievements of the past few months and have taken the time to publicly gloat over them. Opportunities to rub victories into defeated opponents’ faces are thin on the ground when your general moral policy is not to be a jerk (disclaimer: general moral policy does not apply when playing Mario Kart). As such, I think it’s important to make the most of defeating non-person things like brain-fog or the knit-1-below stitch.
That’s right. A whole jumper. A whole jumper that looks acceptable and doesn’t have unplanned holes. It’s my first knitted jumper. Before this jumper, I had only ever knitted scarves, blankets and headbands. I started it last winter and finished it in summer, but I didn’t think my victory could be properly relished without wearing it, at least for a day.
A popular way for movies and novels to illustrate a significant change in a person’s life is to show that person in two similar events before and after the change. It seems like a fun and effective trick, and I simply can’t resist giving it a try.
For me, the beginning of 2015 was something like…
… which may seem bad, but it’s actually really good because the beginning of 2014 was more like …
… as it occurred just over 24 hours after I had major surgery to remove a begin but ridiculously enormous ovarian cyst (seriously, it was 20cms across and weighed 1.5kg).
So I’m counting that as a general life improvement to feel good about.
For some reason I tend to not count university as an achievement. I’m not really sure why.
I say things like: “I’m useless. I haven’t done anything in the last few years.”
And my friends give me funny looks and say: “Didn’t you get two degrees? I’m sure I remember you whinging about assignments, pulling all-nighters and babbling about the Dewey decimal system while sobbing uncontrollably. If you need reminding I can produce photographic evidence of you tossing a mortarboard in the air with apparent glee.”
So this time I will count it.
In November I completed my final semester of my library and information management graduate diploma. After becoming unwell, I had to study part-time and externally. It was still hard. The effort I had to put into coursework gave me near-constant brain fog and made me crash all the time. I was accustomed to getting good grades, and it was soul-crushing to understand what was involved in an assignment but have my brain and health fail me so utterly that I still could not meet all the requirements. I drifted in a never-ending sea of confusion, vice-like headaches and exhaustion.
My grades dropped.
But I passed.
I posted last year that due to ridiculous levels of brain fog brought on by university I found myself incapable of reading Moby Dick. At the time I had to accept my limitations and stick with re-reading Harry Potter instead.
But know I have finished university and I have more freedom in what I read. I don’t have to throw every last ounce of energy at textbooks and essays. Now I can once again direct my energy toward dense, wordy books.
So I went straight back to Moby Dick and totally crushed it.
… in the mature, intelligent, literary sense of ‘totally crushed it.’
If you have some victories to bask in the glory of, please do so in the comment section! It will make you feel warm and glowy, and who doesn’t like feeling warm and glowy?
* When I started writing this ‘recently’ was a valid word choice, but at the time of posting ‘a couple of months ago’ would be more accurate. I kept getting distracted and not finishing this post, primarily because it doesn’t have very many good jokes and I find jokes motivating.