When you have an invisible illness you hide it from others maybe for the fear of being judged or that people won’t understand.
Thankfully I’m getting better at being open about my CFS/Fibro. I’ve often been told how well I look or that I must have a great exercise routine but the truth is I’m just lucky to have a slim frame and have a good understanding of the importance of a balanced diet. In reality I often have to choose between getting a 20 minute walk or cooking the dinner because if I do one I certainly have to forfeit the other.
I’ve felt unwell since Easter but kept pushing myself to the limit to remain in the classroom with my students up to the summer holidays hoping I could recoup my energy then. I also rose to the challenge of an exciting new experience because I wanted some adventure, some fun and some new learning in my life, by attending ICASSI BONN 2017
While Bonn was wonderful it’s now apparent that I drained down an already low battery and as a result I’ve exacerbated a heart complaint. Now I’ve hit the wall. I’ve had no choice but to stop. I’m unable to function at home let alone work.
But the hardest part is I’m really missing the social interaction. I live in the countryside and I feel the isolation. I miss my colleagues and the daily conversations we had. I miss my students. I miss being a part of their lives because they helped me take the focus off my own struggle with chronic pain. Their eagerness to contribute to our classes encouraged me to overcome some of my fatigue. They let me into their lives and being focused on their goals got me through many days where I thought I would surely crumble under the stress that bullying was having on both our teenage children.
I soaked up my students’ warmth and inclusion. We were partners in a learning space. On a daily basis I let my students see my difficulty with spellings…how crazy is that I hear you say, a literacy tutor who struggles with spellings? Initially my students thought I should be an expert in spellings but my struggle showed them that it’s ok to make spelling errors and that spellings are something you can continue to improve throughout your lifetime. Soon they relaxed and worried less about spellings.
I have learned that I am not responsible for my students’ learning but I am responsible for my own teaching. However the fibro fog, pain and exhaustion prevents me giving the level of service I want to give. It makes the endless bureaucracy involved in the preparation of class materials and assessment requirements insurmountable.
Now I have to listen to my body and practice self-care. I have to accept the exhaustion and isolation and that takes strength. I have to recharge my own battery first and my one fear is can I ever sufficiently recharge a battery that is chronically drained?