Part 28 – It’s been a while…18 whole months to be precise!
I’m sorry that I’ve been gone for so long, to be honest, I lost my way a little, along with my motivation to write. I had reached a point where I was 16 months into my recovery and I was simply exhausted of my life revolving around my illness. I just felt that I didn’t have anything to give at that point in my recovery. I needed a break and an escapism from all things aneurysm related, well as much as I could if that makes sense.
Remember my intro when I said…
“I will not be defined by my aneurysm…I am more than my aneurysm.”
Where I vowed to live life to the fullest by turning such a catastrophic into a positive! Well, that was my mantra from September 2018 until now.
I would love to fast forward to my current life, but if I did that you wouldn’t fully understand my healing process and what I have endured during this time, along with the progress I have made to date. I feel that I need to fully and wholeheartedly bring you on this journey with me for you to truly understand the complexity of the healing process; physically, mentally and emotionally.
So here I am, I’m back to complete my story one blog post at a time, and to continue to take you on this journey bringing you to my current reality.
Time to write
So what motivated me to dust off my laptop and start writing again?
A dear friend of mine reminded me of my love for writing, my purpose and the reason why I created my blog in the first place with this beautiful poem.
I also feel compelled to complete sharing my story with you and to support you through your own healing, whether you have personally endured a ruptured aneurysm or a family member has, or you’re recovering from a different illness, or whether your healing from something entirely different in your life. I want you to know that I’m in this with you, it’s nearly 3 years on and I’m still healing in some shape or form.
There are common threads in my story which everyone can relate to in some way and this is why I have started writing again, to touch as many lives as possible, to raise awareness of brain aneurysms and to ultimately help save lives.
COVID-19 – Unlocking my writer’s block
So recently our lives have drastically changed in a way that we never could have imagined! Like seriously if someone would have told me that this was going to be our current reality, I never would have believed it!
The COVID-19 outbreak has contributed to the unlocking of my writers’ block, in a huge way. As it has provided with time to look within and to reflect on life – playing a huge reminder of how precious life really is and how life as we know it can change just like that, just how mine did when my aneurysm ruptured 3 years ago.
When I was concerned for my health and wellbeing, I was housebound/socially isolated both physically and emotionally, I spent the majority of my time at home with no guarantee or certainty as to when I was going to be well enough for my life to return to life as I knew it pre-aneurysm.
I was unable to work and lost my financial security, I was no longer able to travel and do the things I loved, I no longer had exciting things to look forward to or the freedom to do them. Although the situation was very different to our current one, there are a number of parallels for me.
To retreat or not to retreat…
I’m naturally an extrovert and a sociable person, I love experiencing new places, meeting people and learning new things. Therefore ‘self-isolation’ is hard for me as it is for each and every one of you! And that is why I’m taking control of what I can, my mindset as I did when I was in recovery. I have made the decision to view this situation as a ‘self retreat’ rather than an isolation, the word retreat has a much more positive association with it and therefore sits better with my spirit.
“Retreat comes from the Latin verb “to pull back.” So, retreat, or a retreat, is a place where you pull back from the world. Allowing you to get inspired, become spacious, detox, and find your people.”
Who do I want to be during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
I have been through the fear stage, the first week of being home I was driving myself insane by constantly consuming negative news, whether that be on the TV, social media or via conversations with friends and family. I know it can’t be helped, but what did we talk about before COVID-19…
I have been guilty of forwarding negative COVID-19 messages through panic and feeling compelled to ensure my nearest and dearest and up-to-date with the latest developments.
The supermarkets…I haven’t been panic buying, but yes I admit that I was one of those people at the supermarket at stupid o’clock in the morning too…never again!! 3 hours later and a shopping trolley later…They even wrote an article about the said panic shoppers at a particular well-known supermarket brand and yes I spotted myself in the photograph in my local newspaper…Luckily I wasn’t identifiable! I shared the photo with a select few…lol
It’s all in your mindset
After a week or so I quickly realised that my mindset was not serving me well. It was feeding negativity, which was affecting me physically, mentally and emotionally. I was obsessing over something that was beyond my control. When I can only control staying home to keep my family and myself safe and how I react and deal with the current circumstances of the world we are living in.
This process transported me back to my survival toolkit that I used to get me through my recovery, in doing so I have returned to a positive space and I feel that I am coping with the situation much better.
I know it sounds so cliche, but I honestly believe that difficult times show a person’s true character and build your resilience. For me, since my aneurysm ruptured, I can honestly say I’m a much stronger person both emotionally and mentally. And I honestly believe that I will now get through anything that life throws my way. Trust me there were many times over this past 3 years where I didn’t think I’d make it through, but I did and I’m here writing this blog post for you today.
So here are some of my survival hacks that are helping me get through this pandemic.
Take what you think will work for you and feel free to dismiss what you don’t. I appreciate that we are all wired in different ways and that one size does not fit all.
My survival hacks for COVID-19
- Retreat – if you can’t go outside go inside, gain perspective and use this time to reassess and make improvements no matter how small. Take this time to get things done that you’ve been meaning to do for along time and get back to doing the things you love. Whether that be reading, drawing, watching movies, listening to music, baking etc.
- Rest – take this time to rest physically and mentally – allow yourself time to do nothing and don’t feel guilty about it. We spend so much of our lives rushing from one thing to the next and barely take time out for ourselves, other than the one big holiday a year if you’re lucky!
- Family – spend time with your family if you live in the same household and enjoy it. I know it will be testing at times spending so much time under one roof together, but take this time to really appreciate each other and to do fun things that you wouldn’t have had the time to do before. When I was recovering I went for walks with my parents which I never did before and the other night we played dominoes together.
- Gratitude – practice the art of gratitude daily and count your blessings, rather than looking at what you don’t have or can’t currently do. I like to do this first thing in the morning when I wake and say three things aloud that I’m grateful for – today I am grateful for my health, that I could go outside for a walk, that I found the motivation to start writing again.
- Walking/exercise – is a great way to improve your mental health and to boost your immunity, which is incredibly important right now. I know it can seem scary at times to step outdoors but as long as you’re social distancing, I feel it is vital in maintaining wellbeing – it is for me!
- Music – anyone who knows my story will know how music played a huge role in my healing process. When I want to lift my mood and drown out the negative, I play my favourite playlist and dance around the house – bringing the party to me. Alexa is my best friend right now! Lol Plus there’s so many DJ’s doing live sets on Facebook and Instagram, plus I’ve had to virtual house parties with my cousins which have been great fun too!
- Social media – there is a lot of negativity surrounding social media and I do agree with some of this. However, I also agree that there are positive things to come from social media. I found this when I was going through my recovery, as I could reach out to groups of people who were going through a similar experience to me. I’m currently seeing how people are coming together and sharing positive and fun content, as well as supporting each other – a sense of community and a ‘we will get through this together mentality’ is definitely emerging, which is nice to see.
- Routine – try and maintain some level of normality through routine. Again when I was at home recovering for 16 months, I learned that routine was important to stop me from falling into this huge hole of sadness and what day, date, month is it…I have seen that many of you are now experiencing this as part of the lockdown – with each day feeling the same. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve used the term ‘groundhog’ day over the past 3 weeks. I’m still working out my routine, but I’m getting there especially with working from home.
- Connection – remain connected whether it be over the phone, via WhatsApp, FaceTime, house party or social media. Staying connected is key to maintaining your wellbeing, a simple video call can do the world to lift someone’s spirits! I found that recovering from an illness can be incredibly isolating when everyone is going about their daily lives it’s easy for you to you feel forgotten. The difference for me this time round is that everyone is isolated at the same time.
- Isolation vs Quarantine – remember we are not truly isolated, we are in quarantine. Yes we cannot live our lives in the way that we would like at the moment. But we can leave our homes (social distancing) to buy essentials, to exercise and for certain types of work. We have technology in our favour, which helps us to remain and feel connected with our loved ones and in the main we still have our freedom. I know it’s hard but we will get through this. You are going to have rough days and that’s fine, be patient with yourself and remember this is all temporary.
As I like to finish off with a song that I love, I’m going to finish with a song that my cousin reminded me of and played at our virtual house party over the weekend. One of my fave songs of all time and very appropriate in current times.
Stay safe, stay blessed, keep the faith and remain optimistic. We will get through this and as Queeny said, better days will return!
Love from Danielle xxxApril 6, 2020 7:48 pm