I’m sure I am not the only person out there who keeps hold of mementos and items of random stuff that hold lots of great and emotive memories. This blog is about how I have been using some of mine negatively (without meaning to), and they are a constant reminder of what could have been if I hadn’t got M.E.
Since 2008 I have had a huge plastic crate on the top of my wardrobe at the foot of my bed, full to the brim with university lecture notes, handouts, assignments, official letters and marked essays. Originally, I kept it all because I thought some of it may have been useful in future employment,as a refresher, but also as a nice reminder of great times. However, it has now turned into a constant reminder of how it all went wrong.
When I graduated from my postgraduate degree in 2008 I believed I had the world at my feet. I applied, and was accepted, to do a Phd at an excellent university at the other end of the country. A couple of months later the symptoms started and those plans had to be shelved. I’ll admit to feelings of bitterness; I am now squillions of pounds in education debt and am employed in a job where no degree is required. I have not used any of the skills I acquired in an employment capacity; that makes me very cross.
I think that Foggy has allowed me to show that M.E. hasn’t destroyed all of my brain cells and I am more than capable of creating and organising a large, international, fundraising campaign. It is poles apart my from my university studies; Transnational Europe, Democratisation of Russia and 20th Century American Literature anyone?! My postgraduate degree involved a specialism in Russian politics…100% nothing to do with my life NOW. I have realised that although I am not in the role I yearned for back in 2008 I have a new path that I revel in. I have academic friends who tell me I would make a fantastic lecturer as I have excellent communication skills and people find it very easy to engage with me. I agree; however, there is much more to that type of role that my M.E. will not allow me to do. The 60 hour weeks and shedloads of paperwork to name just two aspects I couldn’t cope with. Yes, I could deliver a lecture but would I be able to remember it one week on? Probably not.
Now I have realised that academia is no longer where my life is headed, I have made a conscious decision to offload some of that negativity. Today, I emptied ‘the crate’. I can’t bring myself to throw away marked essays….after all that’s ME…I wrote those (gold star for me) and when I am 90 I can look back and be proud of myself. But the rest, all of the paperwork kept for ‘just in case my M.E. ever goes’ has gone.
I have absolutely no idea what my future holds; will my M.E. suddenly vanish, like it did in my teens? Or am I destined to live, restricted, for the rest of my life? Either way, by getting rid of reminders of what could have been, I am finally giving myself a break! I can stop wondering what my life COULD have been and find a new M.E. adjusted path.