Friday, 15 August 2008

The Effects of Self Neglect

Due to a combination of physical illness, mild depression and my general apathy I recently went through a phase - a relatively long phase - where I neglected myself far too much. The consequences, sadly, were not good.

More often than not I wouldn’t bother to get dressed. By the time my feed was finished being pumped into me it was already past noon and as I knew I’d be knackered and heading for bed again by 8 o’clock, there just didn’t seem much point. I’d rarely be going anywhere, anyway.

When I did sleep I didn’t sleep well. Ok, so having 2 ½ litres of fluid pumped into me during the night generally means several trips to the loo anyway, but the fact that I’d allowed my bed to become strewn with magazines, books, writing paper, the remote control, the phone and all sorts of other odds and sods wasn’t helping. Instead of clearing it all away every day, I just crawled into bed as it was. Sometimes I only had about two foot of bed available to sleep in and then wondered why I always felt tired in the morning!

I rarely went outside so, although my bedroom window is kept open, I wasn’t getting either enough fresh air or sunshine. I became seriously lacking in vitamin D and the situation just got worse. It was like a vicious circle.

Eventually I pulled myself together and broke the circle. Nowadays I spend the morning in bed catching up with blogging, chatting with friends online, making telephone calls, paying bills, updating my accounts etc etc. In other words, I try to be productive even though I’m not actually up and about. I could go downstairs with my pump but at the moment I’m just not strong enough to keep carrying it up and down the stairs - it just about all I can muster to get up the stairs without it!

Once I’m unhooked, I have a wash and get dressed. One day, when I can eventually afford to have a shower installed, I’ll shower every ‘morning’ too. For the time being I have to make do with a wash though, and a shower at Richard’s when I’m up to it. Hopefully, the occupational therapist will be able to help me with the cost of installing a shower but I’m not banking on it.

What I eat doesn’t actually make any difference to me as very little nutrition is absorbed into my body (hence being intravenously fed) but it does have a psychological affect, as strange as that may seem. When I’m eating properly, I feel better for it. Gone are the countless biscuits and other sweet things that I’d pack in before (I figured if it didn’t matter, I might just as well enjoy myself) and in their place are more healthy options. I still have to be careful how much fruit and raw veg I eat because my bowel can’t process the fibre but looking back now, I don’t know why I imagine I’d enjoy biscuits and cakes more than fresh, wholesome food! It’s ok now and then, but yukky in large amounts! And then there’s the cost involved! What a waste!

Exercise is another area that I was neglecting. Whereas I was getting along well before the bout of illness that knocked me for six at the beginning of the year, once I got out of hospital I kind of gave up for a while. I knew I’d need to keep pushing myself if I was to build up my muscles again (I could hardly walk from the bedroom to the bathroom at that stage) but it all just felt too difficult.

Nowadays I feel much better about myself. There’s still room for improvement - lots of room - but at least now if somebody turns up unexpected I don’t have to be embarrassed because I’m not dressed or the house looks as if wild dogs have run through it. And if I want to go out, all I need to do is pick up my keys and bag and go.

I get out and about as much as I can and if I’m not going out, I try to get some kind of exercise in the house, either by going up the stairs once more than I really need to or doing little things around the house that I would have once felt too tired to do. The results are starting to show - last time I visited the clinic I’d built up 2cm of extra muscle mass : )

I sit for at least half an hour in the sun every time it shines because I really don’t want to lose the muscle mass I’m gradually building up again though vitamin D deficiency. I may well need another ‘jab’ before winter but for the time being I’m making good use of natural resources.

If you’re also suffering through lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet, not getting enough sleep or being indoors too much, remember that if I can do it, you can do it too : )

Sharon J


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emmani said...

Wow Sharon... thank you for sharing your feelings, I think it takes great courage to stand up and say 'I'm not happy' and even more to announce your life is a mess. I really feel for you because I have been in a similar place for a while too. I have had mild to medium depression for years and post natal depression big time up until recently. But I'm not strong enough to talk to anyone about it, not even a doctor. I really feel that since I started my blog, things have had a new focus in my life... like I have something to prove to you guys who are giving me so much support, when you don't even know me. I know that I have to prove to myself and my family now too...
Take care of yourself Sharon and when you are feeling low look back on this post and take your own advice, if you did it before you'll do it again!
You seem to me like you are a fighter for life, but everyone stumbles along the path, you know you can get back up again and smile...

shabby chic said...

Hi Sharon
It sounds like you have made lots of steps and are still taking little steps everyday. Thats the way. Its great you are blogging too as its a great way of catching up with people. Take care x

apieceofwood said...

You've done soooo well so far Sharon.. it is so easy to get into a habit of not doing anything, but a bit of sun, a bit of exercise and good food can make all the difference.

Anonymous said...

glad you were able to turn things around.

Jade of the Jungle said...

So sorry to hear you've had all these problems Sharon, it must have been really tough for you...glad to see you've been able to turn it around though!

Just goes to show, health is so important but most of us take it for granted.

Jade x

Jennifer said...

Best to shake off this now before winter sets in! Or else you'll want to stay in bed because of the cold. But yes I agree with Emmani, telling people you aren't perfect in the blog world can be very therapeutic, no one is perfect and yes, I've had my 'I just want to stay in bed' days too. It happens.

BTW, when I'm feeling a bit unproductive, I put on and go the 80's music internet channel and the 80's music always gets me up and moving! Its a fantastic internet radio channel. Give it a go.

take care

Anonymous said...

What an inspirational post - I found it really thought provoking and it made me realise just how much I take my health for granted.

Thank you for sharing with us x

Sharon J said...

@ Emmani. I've had my share of stumbles so I do know I can get back up again - sometimes you do get tired of struggling back onto your feet though. I'll definitely look back on this post should I start to slip back again though :)

@ Shabbychic. One thing I've learned is not to set my goals too high. Baby steps are best :)

@ apieceofwood. Thanks for the support. The sunshine, more than anything, has made a huge difference.

@ Colouritgreen. So am I :)

@ Jade of the Jungle. I took my health for granted, too. I guess we all do to a certain extent. It's that "it won't happen to me" syndrome I guess.

@ Jennifer. Thanks for the advice. 80s music IS therapeutic, yes. I'll have to give that Internet channel a try next time I'm in need of a pick me up.

@ mylifemakeoverjourney. Please don't take your health for granted - cherish your body, it's the only one you have :)

Frugal Trenches said...

What a wonderful post, thank you for sharing with us all. I think we all have periods where we self-neglect, but the most important thing is to realize them and change it.
You are really inspirational!

Galanthus said...

Hello Sharon,
I suffer from depression, so I know where you're coming from. I tend to use a great deal of energy keeping myself going at times; just fighting the desire to curl up in a dark room for days on end. I do think though that part of this desire comes from my body telling me that I need to rest, so I don't think that I should completely ignore it. All that fighting can be exhausting. I suppose it only becomes self-negelct if I don't eat well or wash. When that happens I know it's time to try to pull myself up again. Thank you for sharing you experiences. I love your blog. I'm hoping that you're feeling better now :-).

Sharon J said...

@ Frugal Trenches. I agree. It's only when we're able to recognise our problems that we can actually do something about them. The trouble with depression though, is that often we don't even realise we're depressed! It's the world and everybody else in it that has a problem!

@ Galanthus. I'm much better now, thanks. I hope you'll learn how to control your depression because it really is a nasty, evil illness.

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