Sunday, 21 November 2010
Sensitivity and Purpose
Sensitivity and Purpose. Strange title for a blog post, right? Sounds like a Jane Austen novel ;)
The reason for the strange title is that I want to address two different areas in this one post. Before I do though, I want to thank you all for the comments left after my previous post. It's not always easy sharing the innermost elements of ourselves and I was really touched and inspired to continue by the kind and thoughtful comments you left. Thank you.
So, sensitivity first. I was going to post a long description of the concept of 'highly sensitive' people but I don't think I can do any better than has already been said HERE so please read that first.
All done? Interesting, isn't it? Even though I've always been kinda proud of being sensitive, I've also always felt it was a bit of a burden verging on a character weakness. The truth of the matter is that I've been told more often that I'm "too sensitive" than it being made as a compliment. I now think that is just as dumb as all the times I was told as a child that I "think too much". Now I've read more on the subject of highly sensitive people though, I'm proud to be amongst that group. I should clarify though, this doesn't make me Ghandi. Not by a long shot. I still have moments of insensitivity, of being blunt to the point of unententionally hurting others, of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, of misjudging the acceptability of my warped humour and of not thinking through my words or deeds.
Aside from those lapses though, being sensitive has lots of positives. Some people are very good in a crisis as they instantly see what practical steps should be taken. Those people are usually invaluable as a friend as they roll their sleeves up and clean up the mess. I'm not really like that. I always think more about the emotional side of a situation. How must the person feel? How can I reach out and show them I am aware of those emotions? How can I be of support? That sometimes leads to the male trait of trying to fix them even if they haven't asked for it but nobody is perfect, haha.
Another positive can be my heightened awareness of 'vibes'. I seem to able to sense unhappiness in others, sense when they need a kind word or an outlet to talk, sense when there is danger in the air etc. Being on alert all the time like this is tiring though.
I'm still working out all the finer details of this sensitivity lark but so far I'm leaning towards accepting and embracing this part of me. It's who I am, for better or worse.
Now, let's move onto purpose!
I'm not someone who is passive. If I do something, I do it almost obsessively and put my whole being into it. Otherwise I just don't bother. So, when I got ill and started to research what might be wrong with me, I knew I wanted to find a way of making a difference somehow. Of fighting for the cause. Especially as ME/CFS sufferers are treated so appallingly by society and the medical establishment (by and large anyway - not always).
I thought about turning my anger and frustration into doing advocacy work but it just isn't me. I have the utmost respect for all the warriors out there who are fighting hard for a fairer deal for ME/CFS patients but it isn't where my strengths lie. My search for 'purpose' therefore continued.
As I've mentioned previously, one of the most significant things to happen to me lately is to gain an appreciation of the benefits of pacing using a heart rate monitor. I am forever grateful to the lady who brought it to my attention and I now embrace the concept wholeheartedly. In the absence of finding a cure, I strongly believe this is the number one way to live alongside being ill. This led me to think about the diffference this knowledge could make to others who are having their activities cutailed by illness. If such a simple technique could free us from either pushing too hard and causing a worsening of conditions or being too afraid to do anything and wasting away it would be priceless.
And so, the 'Pacing with a Heart Rate Monitor' group was born. It's early days still and it will grow slowly but my aim is to create a central information point where the latest research and real-life experiences can be easily accessible.
Click here to join the group on Facebook
Having found a purpose is amazingly beneficial. In my own small way, I can offer some value to the 'community'. Along with providing all the information, I can provide support, encouragement and understanding to others who join the group. I'm very excited about the potential attached to it.
Of course, all this excitement and activity comes with a cost for me. I think I probably have been over-stimulated and over-active in setting this up and being so enthusiastic about it. This weekend my girlfriend's parents came to visit and I was really looking forward to seeing them as they are such amazingly kind and warm people. They have also had their own challenges recently and I wanted to let them know I supported them. Alas, I was too sick to get out of bed and spend time with them. My headaches have returned with a vengeance and my light sensitivity is back so I'm back to staying in the dark and wearing sunglasses indoors. If you read this, Judy and Rob, I'm really sorry I couldn't spend some time with you.
I'll find the balance though, I'm sure, between having a purpose, supporting others and listening to my own needs.
take care everyone :)