I have just returned from a day at a conference and my entire body is aching. I have sat down in a chair in the living room and it is unlikely that I will stand up any time soon.
I have prepared for this: I know that tomorrow morning I won’t be able to get out of bed at my normal time; that I’ll have to take some time off so my body can recover from the demands of being on my feet all day.
I don’t talk about this stuff much, if at all, mainly because I feel like there’s no point. Telling people makes literally no difference to how my body feels after a long day’s work, or after an evening out with friends. All it does is make them question me more, make them pull sympathetic faces and ask if I’m “OK” in that soft voice reserved for The Delicate Ones.
I am not known as a Delicate One, and I do not wish to be so, either. And so I soldier on, through a reputation for being flakey when actually I don’t turn up because I know that if I do, I’ll end up in bed for a week, or possibly in hospital. Through “banter” about how I don’t do enough exercise and how I spend all day tied to my computer. Through general misunderstandings and people constantly making assumptions.
Because it’s easier than having to explain myself.
It’s easier to keep it to myself how much the illness I went through when I was younger still affects my day-to-day life. How my immune system is so much better than it used to be, but is still bad enough that if I bump into someone and they say they have chicken pox or a throat infection, I spend the rest of the convesation doing mental gymnastics, trying to work out what will happen if I have to take the next six weeks off work.
And that’s OK. I don’t tell people because I don’t want to. I carry on because I want to. I work through it all because it’s my way of surviving, and I keep quiet about the effects it has on my day to day life, because I don’t want it to be all about that.
But sometimes, just sometimes, at the end of a long day that most people would probably find quite tiring, I just want to acknowledge that I’m trying really, really hard here.
Because trying is all we can do, I think. Even if it leads to a bit of a deficit of spoons.