I don’t think I’m alone in thinking 2018 is a year that I will happily consign to the dustbin of history. Anxiety, illness, emotional turmoil – all had a place in my world last year and that was before I poked my head out from under the duvet and took a look at the fractured world exploding all about us.
I was ill at the start of the year with a virus. A simple stomach virus. Not much to write home about. Except it triggered my already volatile immune system to develop a whole batch of new allergies and intolerances that I’m still catching up with.
Last year, I said goodbye to chocolate, curry, red wine and gin. It sounds innocuous enough – almost as if I’d decided to go on a health kick. I wish it were that simple. When a bite of chocolate has your tongue swelling like Thanos’ bicep you know there’s a problem. A glass of orange juice left me with a ring of hives round my neck and a swollen throat. Just touching unpeeled root vegetables and then touching my face brings me out in hives. And that’s before we get to the horror that is black pepper. Yes, pepper is my Kryptonite. Death by condiment isn’t as funny as it sounds.
All this is manageable. It’s my responsibility to figure what I can’t touch and then eliminate it from my diet. I’ve been given some support from the NHS – and my GP is brilliant – but at the end of the da,y it’s up to me to manage my allergies.
I did start to wonder if I’m my own problem. My world has become small, I have become timid. I am exhausted and in pain all of the time. I have stopped eating anything other than cheese, ice cream, white bread and bananas, because I have become so frightened of having allergic reactions in my throat again. Eating out is horrendous – pepper is in everything. Chips and lager are my default setting. Yep, I’m a classy bird – but on the bright side, I’m a cheap date!
Here I am at the dawn of 2019 and something has got to give. And I think it is my attitude to my own health. I have gotten my mind into a silo of anxiety that is taking me far from the place I want to be. I’m not looking at all of the positives that 2018 brought, and how I can run with them in 2019. Instead, I keep focusing on the emotional and physical cesspit the year became.
I’ve not set any resolutions or goals. I’m not putting that pressure on myself. I have projects and work in progress that I want to see through to completion as best I can. If new opportunities open up, brilliant – I’ll take them if I feel I can do them justice.
I want to accentuate the positive instead. These are just a few things I can do towards this aim in 2019:
Keep writing. This column, the novel I’m working on, the book of ten short stories I’m intending to self publish in the spring.
Learn to enjoy food again. My palette is limited by necessity but there are many things I can try that sit outside my allergy zone. And there is still cake. Especially rainbow sparkle cake (note to self: crisp green apples are pretty wonderful too!).
Walk. Feel the breeze on my face. Open my eyes. Follow my own advice and steal a day here and there.
Enjoy the company of positive people. I am blessed to have so many of them in my life. I worry about dragging them down with my woes and my non-specific illnesses. I need to stop this and just go out and enjoy being with people again.
Ignore the negatives voices. The one in my own head that tells me I’m too slow, too thick, too insipid, too ready to give into my ‘imaginary’ illnesses. Walk away from the external voices that seek to exploit my anxiety.
Appreciate what I have. And it sounds corny but one thing illness and anxiety does is highlight just what you do have. And I have so much.
Some of this is easier said than done. These aren’t resolutions for 2019 – rather they are me trying to change the record in my head and choosing to play the positive tune rather than the negative one. I expect to fall into the emo zone on a regular basis. But if I can move the dial to frothy pop on occasion I might just find myself in a better place as I step into 2020. Wouldn’t that be nice?
In 2019, are there any positive steps that you are considering taking for yourself? Resolutions are fine too!