New Things

Six weeks ago I did something crazy. It had been in my head since before Christmas and I had been spending an age mulling it over too scared to say it out loud. It took until after Christmas for me to even say to anyone what I had been dreaming up.  One day I mentioned to my husband what my idea was, he assured me it wasn’t that crazy and that if I didn’t try I would never know.

To some this idea won’t sound that crazy at all but believe me it sent my anxiety into over drive. My big plan. my crazy idea, wasn’t really out there at all. I just wanted to start up a monthly coffee morning for like minded crafting friends who would like to learn new skills, solve a craft problem, get hints and tips etc. I will be honest  through 2019 I was a bit of a hermit, some of it self imposed, some of it well read my post Reflections and you decide. I was going months and I mean months without seeing anyone other than Mr Myasthenia Kid or Dembe. Ok so that is a bit of a half truth there as we were going to dog training but a 5 minute conversation once a week with someone other than my husband is not socialising. Especially when the topic is just Dembe or dogs in general. My mental health was being crushed, although creatively I had never felt so fulfilled as my sewing / embroidery had taken on a new direction. My anxiety was really getting bad around social interactions because I literally just wasn’t seeing anyone.

Chronic health conditions impact so much of my life, it limits the time I can spend doing it. I would love to run a small business selling items but my body couldn’t cope with the work load that something like an Etsy shop would produce. I can’t do craft fayres as I couldn’t sit there all day without then being sick and exhausted for weeks after. Crafting is my life it gives me the reason to get up and keep going every morning. Without it I would be very lost. However part of crafting is sharing your triumphs and disasters. Whilst there are various Facebook groups ( some of which are very supportive, others are like a nest of vipers) it isn’t the same as actually speaking to a real live human being. I can no longer drive as I lost my driving licence 5 years ago due to my medical conditions. Public transport is too hard going for me. I rely on Mr Myasthenia Kid if I want to go anywhere so attending guild meetings hasn’t been easy due to his work schedule. I wanted something that combined my love and appreciation for all crafts and a social atmosphere. So I took the plunge.

I knew the name I wanted for the group – “The Stitchin’ Bitches”, I also knew due to the size of my house numbers would have to be limited, if anyone wanted to come at all. A friend of mine reached out regarding a crochet issue she was having, we are both self taught and only in the last few months. I casually mentioned in my response that should I start up a group for us to meet and discuss our crochet ( and other crafts) would she be interested. She almost bit my hand off, she would be extremely interested in it and what a good idea. 

Even though I had this positive response I still left it at least a week until I built up the courage to put up a post on my Facebook timeline asking if there were any like minded crafter’s like me that wanted to meet up on a monthly basis and do crafts together. Be it crochet, knitting, embroidery, sewing. I had a lot of responses but it was from people in different parts of the country saying that they wished they lived near me as they would be there like a shot. Initially responses from local friends was slow, embarrassingly so. I was starting to think that maybe there wasn’t any desire from any of my friends ( other than the first one I spoke with). Determined not to take the lack of response from my first post as the definitive answer I posted several more times. Each time I got responses from people outside the area that I lived , even the friends I have made world wide via various health forums wanted to come. But in the end I had 4 people interested which was a good number – remember I live in a tiny house.

I set up a private Facebook group for us all to be able to post in and then set up a poll so that they could let me know what days suited them best to hold a meeting. I had envisioned when I first embarked on this idea that it would be one hour a month – which for me was fine as it would give me time to recover and give me some social time. We decided Mondays were best and set the date for our very first meeting of The Stitchin’ Bitches – they all loved the name by the way! I think we sort of sound like a Country and Western group LOL!

Initially it all seemed fine until my anxiety kicked in the day before our first meeting on Monday 10th February. I was just terrified that the meeting would be a flop, that people wouldn’t speak to each other or that after 30 minutes people would be racing to get out the door. I was so anxious I barely got more than 2 hours sleep, I tossed and turned all night. This would be me hosting an event ( thankfully all my friends know I am poorly and will pitch in with making drinks etc if needed)  without my safety blanket of Mr Myasthenia Kid. Also some of the people attending I hadn’t actually seen since I left work in 2008. For me it was a huge gamble. I am always really anxious when people come to the house anyway, I worry that they think it is dirty or uncared for etc. Its hard to keep on top of stuff when you aren’t well and all the DIY stuff falls on one partner. So I know there are some places crying out to be redecorated etc. I was also worried about people judging me, on the outside I don’t look sick but every day is a battle of some sorts. I worry that people think I am taking the piss because no one ever see’s me when I am really poorly.

Monday 10th February seemed to come around so quickly. By the time 11am arrived I was pretty knackered just from the sheer anxiety creating this “event” had caused. I really shouldn’t have worried. I also wasn’t the only one who had been anxious, a friend confided in me on leaving she had been terrified to attend. As for thinking they would all be racing for the door at 11.30am nothing could have been further from the truth. It was 13.30 that the last person left and the first person had only gone around 15 minutes before that. I had been concerned due to the fact that we all had one work place in common that we would end up discussing that but again nothing could have been further from the truth. It was barely mentioned and that was only as people left. It was just so lovely to have a few hours with people whose eyes didn’t glaze over when crafts were mentioned. I know I can get very passionate about my projects, so it was nice to answer peoples questions about the techniques I had used etc. It was equally nice to see what my friends had been up to. For all of us it was so uplifting to get out of the house and socialise – obviously I didnt go far!

The really nice thing was that as the meeting / gathering was drawing to a close one of the lady’s said “Rach, any chance we can do this once a fortnight? I don’t think once a week is enough”. Everyone else was in agreement also. I said immediately that no one would “have” to come to every session especially if they felt fortnightly was too much, that I was happy for people to dip in and out as needed. But the buzz the morning had created was so great that we set up the next few weeks worth of meetings. I was so proud of myself and what our little group had achieved. I posted on my Instagram account about it and now several other people dotted around the country have decided that they are going to do the same thing. Which is really lovely as it is such a boost for your mental health and to stop the isolation that is all too common in the world.

Today (Monday 24th March) we held the second meeting and today we had the grand total of 7 people here (including me). Dembe was like a dog with two tails, with all the love and fuss he got from everyone. Today two members learned how to start to crochet – slip knot, chain stitches and then double crochet ( UK ). Another lady had a refresher on crochet and learned how to do a Granny Square for the first time. In the corner a lady was being taught to knit. Mr Myasthenia Kid is on holiday this week from work and made himself scarce for a bit having a wander around the town. However he said the buzz and positivity he got from the room when he came home was amazing. He said he was so proud of me for being so brave to try and do something to end my own social isolation. He did make us all laugh as when he walked in he said “good god is this the budget version of the Playboy mansion”. Considering our age ranges were from 21 to 70’s it was hilarious. 

We were also spoiled by a new member who brought homemade scones, jam and cream for us to have as a crafting snack! And bloody gorgeous they were too. I had decided yesterday to make everyone little paper tissue holders as a way of saying thank you for coming and making it such a success. 

I can’t lie after every meeting I have been utterly exhausted. If I knew that it wouldn’t impact my nights sleep I would go for a nap in the afternoon. Mondays after are written off with me having a lazy restful afternoon on the sofa but mentally I feel so uplifted and happy. I am so glad that I pushed myself to do something totally outside my comfort zone and I hope I inspire others to take that chance and do new things.

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On Thursday 20th February, I had the worst migraine I have ever had in my life. It was so bad that I am actually suffering from amnesia caused by it. I have “lost” most of Wednesday 19th, the majority of Thursday 20th, Friday 21st quite a bit is unrecoverable as is Saturday 22nd.  It is only from yesterday on-wards that I can recall anything that happened during the day with any clarity.  I won’t lie this has scared the shit out of me. Which is why I haven’t done a huge detailed blog post because basically I don’t know what happened to last week. I have a gp appointment booked because I need to know that this was just a horrific migraine and that I can be referred to see a headache specialist or if it was something like a TIA that can also be looked into. Having Google at our finger tips can be a curse and a blessing but as I can’t account for much of last week and this has never happened to me before with a migraine I can’t just ignore what has happened. Anyone who knows me also knows that I don’t run to the doctors every 5 minutes so it has really shit me up.

As soon as I know you will know.

Thank you

With Jamie’s guest blog post last week In Sickness & In Health it brought me back to thinking about a post I wrote in May 2014 and reblogged in March 2015 called Weathering The Storm. It was good to see Jay’s perspective of things from the side of being a carer, husband and breadwinner because I do feel a tremendous amount of guilt about the way my illness has not only impacted my life but of his also.

It was lovely getting feedback from people who see us in the real world and from those who only know us through the internet. Not that I want or need outside validation to know that I have a wonderful relationship with my husband, as quite frankly I find it incredibly hard to accept compliments or to “see” what others see in us. To find out your relationship is an inspiration to others is obviously very nice but it also feels quite strange. I have never seen either of us as any kind of role model. It is a really weird situation to explain without sounding like an ungrateful twat and that couldn’t be any further from the truth. I am truly grateful (as is Jay) for everyone who took the time to leave comments on Facebook and on the blog post. We were both very moved by the things people wrote, so we want to say thank you for that.

 

The thing is Jay and I don’t think we are anything special, we just work. We are very similar in our outlook and sense of humour. We both mean the world to each other. Neither can imagine life without the other, when I think of family he and the dogs are it. When something good or bad happens he is the one I want to tell first but to me that is how any relationship should be. I suppose it seems strange because I know we aren’t one of those couples that are constantly doing PDA’s (public displays of affection), we never have. We are by nature quite private people, which is hilarious when you think about it in connection with my blog. However like any blogger or anyone on social media there are things that you don’t share because you still want a level of privacy and to have something that is yours and yours alone.

 

 

I wrote a lot about the guilt I felt due to getting sick back in 2014’s Weathering The Storm, things have changed a bit, I still feel pangs of guilt but not on the level I used to. I know that I didn’t do anything to cause my predicament or to deserve getting sick. It is just one of those things that happens. I did feel very guilty last year due to the amount of stress that Jay was under due to my CSF Leak and the amount of time he had to take off work at short notice. I worry about the impact it has on his career and his standing amongst his colleagues yet they were the ones who took the time to praise him for his blog post. That meant a great deal to both of us and reassured me that at least in his work world, he isn’t thought any less of due to me.

 

I am lucky I have a partner who will stand by me through thick and thin. I know he loves me, he tells me everyday and I tell him the same. We had so many plans before all this happened and it’s only in the last few years we have been making plans for our future again. Until a few years ago I could see no future and no point in planning anything long-term. He has taught me that plans can always change no matter what the situation but it always important to have plans, dreams, aspirations rather than always being focused on the here and now. Even when things were really dreadful last year and I was confined to bed for much of it (due to a spontaneous CSF Leak) we would talk about going on holiday, about fundraising for a new wheelchair etc. Even if those things seemed nothing more than a flight of fancy at the time, they are what kept us both going.

 

I think a lot of the strength of our relationship comes from the fact we have shared hopes and dreams. We aren’t working against each other but together for common shared goals. A relationship is the biggest feat of teamwork you will ever take part in. We work together because we want to be together come what may. And whilst we have both had utterly crass and insensitive things said to us over the years, as in “leave / walk away, this isn’t what you signed up for” or “If you were my wife I’d leave you”, we haven’t taken it personally. Rather we have felt a deep sympathy for the partners of those who have said those horrible things. Wondering if they knew that they were once accident or illness away from having the love of their life abandon them. It never crossed Jay’s mind to leave and if the shoe had been on the other foot, it would have never crossed mine either. When we took our vows we meant them, they weren’t said with our fingers crossed behind our backs in case anything ever changed. We aren’t like that and can’t understand people who are. I really do think those sort of people are in the minority, well I hope they are.

 

So from both Jay and I we just wanted to say thank you, to everyone who read the blog post and to those of you who took the time to leave a  comment. We read every single one and they all meant a great deal to us. Jay has promised that he will write another piece in the future, again the subject matter will be entirely down to him.

 

Thank you from us both and of course the dogs.