Friday, 19 June 2009

Speaking personally is not that easy ...

I'm never terribly sure how much to share of a personal nature on my blog. I notice as I try to write more or less every day that I hide sometimes behind my writing. I may seem to say something about my life but in some ways I reveal very little about the daily Angst that it is to be me. (My close friends know there's quite alot of that Angst around even if there is also alot of laughter as in my blog's title!) Anyway this post has been a while in preparation and I'm still not sure about it but hey, it's only blogging ...
A few months ago David Ker wrote openly and straightforwardly about living with and through depression. In a comment on that post I wrote:

... I had been thinking that I would write a bit more about what my anti MS drugs do to me psychologically - and physically. Your post encourages me to try to write more personally at some point.
The stresses and strains of daily life and work affect us each differently - and differently at different stages of our life. We are so beautifully and wonderfully knit together as Psalm 139 has it, yet each of us is also a delicate, intricate, fragile balance. My whole life I have tended to live in a way which takes my health more or less for granted and although I listen a great deal to others, it took me a long time to learn to talk about myself or even names my desires, fears and angst.
Thank God for mental health professionals.
I have no cure but do find great solace and respite - healing of a kind - in corporate prayer, in worship that moves me, in biblical surprises.
Ah yes and in reading detective fiction - my mental balance tends to start going skewy (is that a word?) if I’m not reading a crime novel.
This week Suzanne McCarthy has also written more personally on her brilliant and erudite blog on biblical translation.
So do I dare to speak for myself? Hmmm ... I'm not sure. From the outset I decided that I would be open about having MS on my blog sidebar, it doesn't define me but it is part of what I live with. I do feel a bit of a fraud when people offer me sympathy as a result of reading that, or when people think I have some special wisdom because I live with a chronic condition.
Taking the interferon b keeps me on my feet and means I'm able to work and live like others (not I don't say normally, but then I've never really lived "normally"). The drug costs not quite 1000 euros a month and when I first went on the medication that was more than my monthly take home pay. The wonderful French health service pays it all and also 100% of anything else linked to my MS. Both MS and interferon can have depressive side effects, suicidal feelings. In addition on the three nights a week when I take the drug I can get a bit raving, particularly if I don't take a good 1000mg of paracetemal to stop the flu like shakes that come in about 2 hours after the injection.
I suppose in all sorts of ways I feel extremely lucky, even when angst-ridden. My MS does sap my energy but it also gives me a certain strength and determination, and it has taught me alot about living with pain and discomfort - unfortunately it can also sometimes make me even more judgemental of other people, but perhaps that's just my Calvinist nature anyway! ;-) Of course when I have an episode I do also get panicky, tearful and scared.
I suppose the real truth about my life is that it is not my MS but much more being so overweight that has a day to day impact on my happiness and well-being. As I say, speaking personally is not easy and I'm well out of my comfort zone writing that. I'm passionate about life and I live it, quite possibly I shall leave life rather earlier than many but I do hope I shall have lived. I shall have borne imperfect witness to much of what I believe in but I hope I will have shared some joy and experience.
While I was interpreting at the Calvin event last weekend I was deeply moved by some of the comments and discussions about Calvin and the sanctification of everyday life. It spoke to me - as part of my Reformed heritage I suppose. I realised that all any of us can hope to do is to lead ordinary extraordinary lives. The everyday is holy, it's where you meet people and it is where God meets you, it's in the everyday that transformation takes place and the gospel may be heard.
Hmm ... I fear I may think I'm writing a sermon - I did say speaking personally is not easy for me! I suppose I could say this - not being perfect, being aware of my responsibilities and limitations, always thinking about what I have not done ... weighs heavily on my mind and body, however, I do also have a great capacity to enjoy life.
My main problem tonight - I haven't got a crime novel to read!


Hansuli John Gerber said...

That's very touching, Jane. You are a translator, interpreter, language person, observer, and I think it's perfectly legitimate and understandable that speaking for yourself seems strange, if not somewhat threatening to you. I was totally surprised to learn that you struggle with MS. Seeing you at the Cafet and reading your blog suggest a strong health, creativity, resilience and courage. (For me, the thought of swallowing 1000mg Paracetamol by itself is making me feel weak) Keep on going....

Jane said...

Hansuli thanks for your comment. You know I am also preacher girl in many, many ways and weaving liturgy is also my thing - I don't need to do it myself though.
1000mg of paracetemal is not so much - just two normal tablet - the problem is that it is not always enough ... I suppose I don't really struggle with MS I just live with it. But I am physically slower than I would like to be sometimes ... though my tongue still usually manages to keep up interpreting!
Take care with your own pain management

Katherine E. said...

Thank you for your honesty. This is a very moving post. We share a similar outlook on some important things, I think.

So, tell me your favorite crime authors. I need something like that to read!