Hi everyone, how is this pandemic lockdown treating you? A bit shit? Yeah, me too. I have been watching A LOT of TV. And I happened upon Ben Fogle’s New Lives In the Wild on 5 on demand. It’s a show about people who have moved to and live in remote areas of the world. I saw an episode based in Australia (Series 6 episode 1) about a couple called Jim and Kim who live on their own island just of the coast of Australia. And it hit me hard.
Jim had a bad accident years ago that left him unable to walk and in a wheelchair for two years. He broke almost every bone in his body after an accident. He spoke very honestly about his recovery, and how the mental side of recovery and PTSD has been tougher than the physical side. He said he was in pain almost constantly. He was so down to earth and honest, he talked about how it had taken him years to get to the point he was at now. But how the experience made him decide to completely change his life and move to a deserted island. It was totally unoccupied and he even got to name it himself! He lives on Wilderness Island.
I cried as I watched the show. I don’t know what exactly it was, but it hit me in the gut hard. He was really open about the physical and mental side effects of his accident and I just felt really drawn to his story.
I had my first surgery in 2013 to remove my colon, since then I have had 10 major surgeries that have changed my life completely. Each one I think will be the leap home (90’s reference here! If you haven’t watched Quantum Leap, go do it immediately!) Every time, I think it is going to be the surgery that makes everything ok again, that I will be the same person I was before all these operations, that I will be ‘normal’.
And it is only all these years later that I am beginning to accept that life will never be the same. That this is probably something I will always have to live with. The chronic pain, the fatigue, the medications. This isn’t something I am finding easy to accept.
We are 10 months into this pandemic and lockdowns and the world is a very different place to what it was. We are all having a tough time. I am feeling so overwhelmed and unmotivated. My depression is back and Im taking antidepressants. And I am finding it so hard to just get out of bed in the morning.
Today, I had a couple of lectures and some work to do and I just didn’t want to get up. I laid in bed and sobbed. I just wanted to hide from the world. But I started thinking about Jim and said to myself ‘Jim isn’t sat in his bed crying. He is living his best life on Wilderness Island! If he can do it, then so can I.’
I got up and got dressed. This may not sound like a big deal but I literally live in jama bottoms and a dressing gown at the minute. If I do get dressed, its usually in joggers and a jumper. But I got dressed, I put on a lovely dress I bought ages ago and have never worn and I logged onto my computer and did my lectures. I made some art. I went for a walk. I filled my Pinterest board with pretty things I want to make in my garden. I made a nice tea for us. I changed my bedding.
I know these aren’t major accomplishments to most people. But today it felt like a real win!
Now I know some people are struggling so much and please don’t think for a second that I am belittling anyone or suggesting that a walk and some positive thinking can cure depression or solve all the world’s ills. I also know that some days, all you can manage is to get through that day by sitting in bed crying, and that is OK too. Today, I knew I needed more. I needed motivation, I needed inspiration and you take what inspiration and motivation you can. Today, I didn’t have any of my own, so I borrowed Jim’s.
Jim is living his best life even on the days where it is dark and painful and tough, and maybe I can too.
Peace and love