Doin’ It For Ourselves

A hobby, something you enjoy doing just for yourself, is a fantastic way to both pass time and to feel a real sense of achievement. Having Fibromyalgia however, completely ruined mine. 

I love creating things and have always been pretty crafty. One day I decided I wanted to give some furniture a makeover – that turned into a love of up-cycling old furniture. I would pick up any old piece from anywhere and spend hours sanding, priming, painting and stencilling. It truly was “love at first table” for me; I even made a little side business out of it and sold a few pieces I was quite proud of. However, some time into this adventure the work became a lot harder for me to do. My body (especially my shoulders) would ache so bad that some days I could barely move after a painting session. I pushed through for as long as I could, but inevitably had to sadly accept the fact one day that my hobby was just not the hobby for me. I began selling off unfinished projects, cleared out my garage that had become my woman cave for painting and hung my brushes up. Just one more thing I had to grieve the loss of due to my Fibro. 

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

These days if I carefully maintain a balance and manage my energy I can manage a small project every now and then; but only as a hobby for my home, and it takes me FAR longer than it used to because I will always be sure to take it easy and not fuck myself over. During these times I often wondered, when lamenting the loss of my previous output, what hobbies people who suffer from a chronic illness actually do? I thought of how much people have had to sacrifice in order to make their days just that little bit easier to get through. So, I asked the question in a Fibro support group and, to no surprise, most people’s experiences were the same as mine. Many people had let go of their passions because it just became too hard dealing with the aftermath of pain. Others had held on but cut back immensely so that they still could still enjoy it but at a far less intense level than they used to. Others still had found new hobbies, but the general consensus was that hobbies needed to be low impact and done in moderation.

I did get some new great ideas for myself to look into – crocheting, model building and macrame among many others but I think for now, my writing is becoming my hobby. I am enjoying writing more than I ever have in my life; it causes minimal strain on my body and I can literally do it in bed (win!). It does still have its downsides, like the light can affect my eyes if I stare at a computer too long. Sometimes my hands just don’t want to work, or sometimes my brain fog gives me complete mental blocks and I can’t think of a thing to write! Whatever people choose to do however, I think it is super important for someone’s mental health to have something they ENJOY doing. It can calm a racing mind, relax a tired body, give you some purpose and motivation. A big thing for me is the sense of achievement. As my body falls apart I find myself less and less able to complete tasks the way I used to… but if I have at least some form of hobby then I still have something to be proud of, something that I can hold in my hands that I’ve completed despite all my struggles; a creative outlet and form of meditation. 

That can be a very powerful and healing thing to have in your life.

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