On the 16th of January I had my first day back at uni after the Christmas break. I’d had 4 weeks off. I’d had 4 weeks to do with my time exactly as I pleased. I’d had 4 weeks to rest, relax, and get myself back in the zone for a new term.
On day one I managed to get into my lectures on time. I stayed in for a while and went to the library for the second time since I started my degree in September. ON day two? I was flat out floored.
A knocked by a freight train kind of flu annihilated me sideways. I have never actually been unfortunate enough to face the wrath of a flu before in my life. If that’s a lie then I don’t remember having to deal with this sort of viral monster. I have had many colds, as has everyone a few times a year, but this? This was a whole other kind of monster all together.
It put a halt to me doing anything or going anywhere for a week. For as frustrating as I did indeed find this state of affairs, I had plenty of time on my hands to stare at the walls, thinking and popping flu remedies until my eye balls flaked into powdered paracetemol from pushing the maximum intake for days on end. Inevitably, this spurred some reflective time on the flu, and the impact of such common yet debilitating but of illness:
- If I had a choice, this would never happen in my life at all. I don’t like surprises and I especially don’t like surprise physical illnesses that can’t be factored into my weekly schedule. In this instance I have to practice acceptance as best I can as the very nature of life is that these things happen…without warning. It is the without warning, or a definitive expected time span that I struggle with.
- A very tiny microscopic organism can have a powerful effect over your daily life and experience. Having mainly experienced mental illness in my life, I forget the power of microorganisms on the greater operational machinery of my body. I think nature claims some form of admiration from me from my kingdom of mucus-machéd tissue piles for this.
- It’s ok to take a step back from your goals, and to halt your progress to rest when you’re sick. This goes for physical and mental illness –> Often I have to preach this to myself in regards to my mental health, but I realised the same goes for physical illness too.
- Sometimes we need other people to help care for us. Accepting this help shows greater strength than it does weakness. It takes strength to hold your hands up and say, “I can’t quite manage right now, can I have some help please?”. Mostly people will be willing to help out.
- Physical illness can have a direct and significant impact on mental health – which also comes out of the blue. As if feeling physically rough and barely able to walk to the toilet for feeling so weak isn’t enough to be dealing with, all that sitting around feeling sorry for yourself can have a knock on effect on your mood. I started my flu on a mild mood high. Everything was fucking grand and picture perfect. I got ill, and I tried to march on through, until I was knocked sideways. Then I spent my time phsyically confined to my bed with my mind racing through ideas and plans and all the exciting things I’m going to do with my life now it’s so fucking wonderful. Very quickly, this turned to anger and frustration and a big dip on the big dipper ride of a bipolar life.
- The mental health knock on effect can take a sharp turn for the unexpected and lead to a slap in the face by a mental health crisis. I hadn’t been prepared for this as it has never happened to me before, and no-one warned me. Consider this a warning dear friends.
- Picking yourself up after the illness has run it’s course can be a massive week long ordeal in and of itself. The physical and mental after effects are ripe and ready to see. My mood is undoubtedly destroyed, and my body still isn’t quite loving life.
- Have faith in your body. I didn’t ask for antibiotics or antivirals to hurry my flu along for the good of my future health and immunity. If anything has come of this, I am pretty pleased with my body for recovering – and since regaining my appetite I have been rewarding it with delicious, and often nutritious, food. Well done immune system – you did good!