Being difficult

In the last year or so I’ve found myself in all kinds of new situations, dealing with people who do not know me well. I wanted to be able to jump back into the world after my hermit period, bringing all the energy, enthusiasm and stamina I used to have. The trouble is, I do not reliably have all of those things all the time anymore. I have to be careful around getting enough sleep, or I get ill. I don’t handle conflict, aggression or controlling behaviour well, either.

Admitting that I am a flawed and fragile thing, and flagging up in advance where I am likely to struggle, has not been easy. At first I hated how useless it made me feel. Arty, bohemian types often keep late hours, and trying to say that really I can’t start working in a thinky way at nine at night, felt really difficult. Especially not if I was ill and tired to start with.

As I’ve explored this, I’ve found there tends to be one of two outcomes. Option one is that the people around me take this seriously and budget it in, they plan extra time for me to manage energy levels. I get afternoon meetings, and if I’m flagging, it is ok for me to go curl up somewhere. A lot of the time, being honest about what I can and can’t do, simply results in the people around me gently flexing to accommodate that. No judgement, no criticism, no pressure, no problem. It’s an incredibly liberating experience.

Now and then, the outcome is very different. I might get a lecture about how I should not ask anyone to walk on eggshells around me. I might find people blithely overrun with timings and expect me to still be viable starting much later. I might be treated as though I’m letting the side down, being selfish or making a fuss about nothing if I can’t keep up. The assumption that I’m being wilfully awkward has caused me a lot of hassle along the way.

What has made it hard for me, is the feeling that if I own up to having serious but intermittent restrictions on what I can do, people will judge and reject me, assume I’m faking it, or otherwise think ill of me. There are definitely people who do that, but realising this is neither acceptable, nor inevitable has changed a lot for me. I can choose, and I do not have to choose the people for whom I am simply too much trouble and not worth bothering with. Why should I bother with someone who cannot be bothered with accommodating me?

In the last week, I’ve faced major anxiety sources, and done so with easy-going support. I’ve had some outrageously late nights, and watched my body seize up by slow degrees. So I’m back to the sleeping a lot, ready for the next big thing I want to do (Tuesday). As I can pace myself, this is no problem. If the people around me take on trust what I can and cannot do, and feel no need to tell me it’s not good enough or I should try harder, its fine. If no one treats me like a failure because I can’t run flat out all the time, life is a lot easier.

It’s been a bit of a revelation for me, over the last year. I’ve watched how people around me treat me, and react to me. I’m voting with my feet. Any space that can’t flex to accommodate my fairly modest needs, is not a space I need to be in.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

8 responses to “Being difficult

  • Christopher Blackwell

    A reasonable woman would quietly put up with other people’s shit and not complain, which only goes to show the disadvantages that come with being a reasonable woman.

    You have actual limits that you must consider and work within. Truly reasonable people consider that and adjust. I believe this is part of what we used call cooperation which appears to almost be a lot art.

    I have an employee who has a bad shoulder that can and does give out on him, so when he take me shopping, as I no longer drive, I try to load and unload the heavier things because I can. He has health issues so that he might only be able to work three hours day at my shop. But it is his work that has helped keep the shop open in spite of my physical limits due to my own health issues.

    Meanwhile he wants to set up and sell at the local mineral and gem show but needs a bit of help. As the day, for venders to set up, comes on my day off, I will help him set up and may also come bcd to help him break down at the end of the show.

    This way by cooperation two old men each gets a bit more done that each might be able to do on their own. Each of us is aware of each other’s limits, working with that knowledge helps both of us get by. I believe this was once rather normal and it makes life a lot easier.

  • dapplegrey

    I’ve had ME (or chronic fatigue syndrome) for 30 years, and I’m still trying to tackle the same issues you describe so well. You have the great advantage of knowing what these difficulties are and understanding and accepting what it means for you, and without this acceptance life is always going to be an exhausting switchback swinging between boom and bust. Thanks for writing about this with such sensitivity and good sense!

    • Christopher Blackwell

      I worked in a nursing home for nine months not the best place for a bipolar person to work. But I was fascinated by the old people there that still had a life even while living in a nursing hoe. They tended to have a good sense of humor preferred to take care of themselves as much as possible and did not complain if complaint would not change things.

      As result the staff loved them others liked to be around them and they got great service when they did occasionally asked for help. Now the complainers and the angry ones no body, not even other patients wanted to be around and they often got bad service.

      Ten years later I as in three hospitals and three times have spent time in a nursing home. I use both what I learned off my former patients and what I new about working in a nursing home. I never complained bout anything that i knew could not change knowing all about being short staffed and over worked. I never complained I endured until if was possible for change to take place. I think the crews thought I was some kind of saint.

      I wasn’t I had just used the information my experience and my patients gave me. Now I did have one oddity I was still fairly mobil. When I started to stare at walls without thinking I knew where that led also taught to be by my patients so I began to walk first on the property and off the property. However I made sure I was always on time for medicines and meals as i had no money to buy more than coffee for myself of the property,

      Meanwhile if it was meal time and the pill nurse was behind schedule waited for her, even allowing that my meal might end of cold. You do not get the pill nurse mad at you. One of the side effects was I got help in getting out of those institutions in record time an hour or two hour, even when they had to bring in medication for me from the outside. In a VA hospital this once meant medication coming from the other end of the hospital.

      One way to become an interesting old person is watch now the ones that are pulling off aging with grace. They can teach you much.

    • Nimue Brown

      It’s been a slow learning process for me, but I think about everything, a lot.

  • ohnwentsya

    Reblogged this on Spirit In Action and commented:
    Thank you, as always Nimue’s, fir sharing your personal journey so clearly. Being Asperger as well as living in a bed for now I can only recall and miss those possible better methods you illustrate but someday:-) I will put this wisdom to good use.
    I hope my readers note it too-even if you are young, healthy and strong perhaps this will help you make another friend more comfortable and joyful in their life around you.

  • janecolbourne

    Well said Nimue, most people would not think twice about giving consideration to the elderly, a pregnant woman, children or the visibly disabled. It’s about time those with less visible health conditions were given the same. These people are many and can make valuable contributions to the world xx

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