#ProjectCanada

💗 Proud moment 💗

This was literally the main objective of my trip to Canada.

I was in tears during the ceremony as I recollected bits and pieces of our past and the very fact that I could make it to Canada to celebrate my brother’s big day.

If you had asked me four years back about traveling to Canada (for that matter, traveling anywhere), I’d have told you it was a dream that might not come true. It fills my heart with immense gratitude thinking about everything that has gone behind making this trip possible for me.

M

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The secret life

While I’m very open and honest about my personal experience with EDS Hypermobility, there is also a ‘secret life’, what I call the back end management which not only is something we (the chronically ill) often choose to not share but also something we often can’t share due to the complexity and implications of actually dealing with the illness 24/7.

Most people I know in the community of the ‘chronically ill’ live as authentically as possible and try very hard to share their stories, both to create awareness and for their personal healing and I find that truly inspiring and amazing.

That said, it’s important to keep in mind that it is NOT the whole story. It can’t be, unless you know us personally. No matter how much we try to put our experience out there, it is not the same as living with us and seeing us live — which is something only our near and dear ones get to see.

On my instagram, I try to share both the good and the bad. Whenever possible, it is as raw as it gets. But the truth is, for the number of times my shoulder (or other joints) clicks in and out, for the hours I spend in bed with ice packs and hot packs and the number of times i get palpitations, brainfogs etc., it is practically impossible to be both having the actual experience and sharing it.

I think that’s the reason why so many people who don’t know me well enough, whether biologically related or not, are under the impression that if I smile I am pain-free or I’m not struggling. And sometime, instead of asking, it is assumed that I am fine. Or better.

Similarly when I am bedridden, it is quite commonly assumed that I am sad to the core. Which again, is an assumption.

The truth is, the ‘chronically ill’ have figured a way to be smiling and struggling at the same time. I know it can get extremely confusing for the rest, but if you ever wonder how we’re doing, I suggest you ask instead of assume.

How do you define work?

https://themighty.com/2018/02/unable-to-work-because-of-illness/

Every bit of this resonates with me.

It’s a constant struggle for people like me to remember our worth when there is so much stigma around being sick (especially young and sick) and not being able to work.

It often makes me wonder, how do you define work anyway?

Does work = I bring money to the table every single time? does my voluntary work with kids with troubled childhood which doesn’t earn me anything but makes me feel valuable and like I’m making some difference count as work? Does me trying to help an individual who is newly chronically ill/struggling with their health mean anything in the society at all?

What about the times I teach classes hoping they help those who participate — does that count as work even if it’s not always sustainable? What about the job I did as a receptionist at a pilates studio hoping I’d be able to stick with it and then got bedridden — does that count at all? Is that seen?

Does it matter that people like myself at one point had great aspirations and goals too and had to leave those behind, grieve our old selves and learn to accept what we’re presented with? Does anyone ever see the pain and the courage behind having to leave what brings most of us financial stability and freedom in order to prioritise health?

What about the work you put in day in day out to look after a faulty body? Imagine having to look after an extremely mischievous and sick child who doesn’t listen to you for twenty four seven. No break whatsoever. Not even when you sleep.

It’s easy for people to ask, “what do you do?” because it’s the most common way to start a conversation. It’s also very understandable and I have a standard answer ready. But you won’t believe the number of people I’ve come across up till now with the mindset that if you’re not working, traveling and or working out, you’re probably doing nothing. Or not doing enough of something. Or aren’t ambitious enough. Have no goals. Have nothing figured out.

What makes so many people think that those who’re sick are lazy or not ambitious enough? Couldn’t our ambitions and priorities have changed? Can we not bring empathy, compassion and kindness to the table instead of money? Is it not possible for us to do our part in some other way? Can we not be the people you turn to when things aren’t going right? Can we not support the family and household in other ways?

Or how about this: is it not possible that by us doing our self-work and learning to accept and tend to our illness allows us to manage the illness a little better and hence take some load and burden off those who are trying to support us? Isn’t that work too?

20 degrees and sunny and loving it. Yes, yes, I know. There will be snow, my joints will hurt, winter gets depressing blah and blah and blah. Sure, but what matters right now is that I’m here today and that at one point, I didn’t think it was possible.

This place is making me dig deeper, unravel yet another level and is sort of making me feel lost in a guided way. It’s not the kind of lost that makes you feel afraid. It’s quite the opposite. I’ve been waking up every morning to a renewed sense of curiosity which is nice and refreshing.

I’m looking at things around me, some familiar some not. But I’m seeing them differently. Maybe I needed this. A break, an opportunity to put other things aside for once and be, even if it’s for a while.

I’m not talking about a break from being sick. No, that doesn’t happen. I’m referring to a shift in focus. Not distraction. But to zoom out and see the bigger picture one more time. From constantly *having* to figure out and find solutions quickly (this year is my 10th year of being sick, 6th since diagnosis) to allowing myself some grace.

From being bedridden for 6 months last year to starting to teach again to having to stop again to moving to India to figuring out a million and one things in a new environment (new societal and cultural norms) to adrenaline fatigue and flares of different symptoms, I just haven’t gotten a chance to truly take a long enough pause and realign myself.

And for this reason, it’s quite likely that Canada will hold a special place in my heart. ❤️

#thankyou #canada #2018 #chronicillness

Sometimes I wonder if there’s any limit to the pain I experience. Then I suddenly remember that there is only limit to the suffering around the pain and the limit is my mind. The pain is in my body. The suffering is in my mind. Everyday I wake up and choose to lessen my suffering instead of only trying to rid my body of pain which I know has reasons; of which some are beyond my understanding. Thankful to be here today, despite all the different kinds of pain in all the different joints and partly unexplained pain that we are currently investigating again. Happy weekend!

💕

Dear Readers

Dear Readers,

There’s been a lot on my mind lately and I’ve been thinking all this while whether these things were appropriate to be shared on my blog. These things are somewhat personal and sensitive but I remembered my very purpose of starting this blog in the first place — it was to create a safe space for me to be exactly who I am, share my experiences openly knowing that my account, while helping me make sense of my experiences and live life to the best of my ability, may even help someone else in their journey.

So keeping that in mind, I finally decided that sharing my experiencing and expressing my opinions out here is definitely worth it.

My recent move to India has brought up so many thoughts and emotions for me. For sure, some of it has to do with my childhood and leaving my home of twenty something years. However, a larger part of it has to do with my inability and struggle to make sense of how the system and culture functions out here. I agree that I grew up around lots of Indians and that I didn’t fully lose touch with my roots, but I remember very clearly and from a very young age, feeling very strongly that I don’t fit in.

Let me try and be a little more specific here.

I was seven or eight when I left India. My parents, like many other parents, were highly protective of us. Basically, I have barely any memory whatsoever about the world outside of the comfort of my home in India. Ask me about my pre-Singapore childhood experiences at home and I recollect them as if they happened yesterday. Quite frankly, I remember every painful experience inside of the four walls. Somewhere, as a very young girl, I believed that the world outside was a perfect place. You could say I was rosy-eyed; believing there was peace and love everywhere because somehow that was all I cared about. Naturally, I was naive and didn’t know enough about the actual world out there.

Then, after moving away to Singapore, India became a vacation spot we’d visit once or twice a year.Obviously by then Singapore has started to feel like home. India, to me was this place I’d visit for a limited time, meet limited people and well, say goodbye and return. It was great meeting everyone but a part of me always craved going back. Almost as if I already knew at that age that something about the environment didn’t sit well with me. Or, as I said before, I didn’t fit in.

As I grew older, that feeling got stronger. My views about my homeland started to change drastically, as if blossoming into a young woman brought along a threat I wasn’t quite aware of. While I truly enjoyed my time with family and friends in India, I got more and more uncomfortable about the culture, certain family dynamics and gender roles. As I write, I’m trying very hard to remember at least ONE holiday where something didn’t stand out for me, or that I didn’t feel threatened by some men outside family, or where I actually felt like I could connect or relate with the women I came across. There was just too much out there that made me feel terribly uncomfortable. Being a highly-sensitive child, I didn’t need to fully understand things; the vibe around a situation were good enough.

Today, twenty something years later, I’ve returned to this place again, no longer as a teenager who couldn’t entirely relate to her own culture or who felt threatened as a girl, but as a healthy-looking grown woman, confident in her individuality and her choices AND ALSO as someone suffering from a chronic illness.

For the kind of internal work I have committed myself to for a few years now (I make mistakes but I’m consciously working on myself every single day and seek guidance when needed), I have returned to India knowing very well that the transition isn’t going to be a walk in the park. That said, I find that I am open and willing to embrace this place and all that is in store. I am willing to put some of my most traumatic and painful experiences away and look at this place with a new pair of lenses.

Initially I thought the approach of camouflaging (not fitting-in, that’s different) will get me through circumstances here. You see, you don’t have to fit in, but you could just camouflage your way out, no? Not stand out too much. Watch what you say. Watch what you wear. Watch what you share on your blog. Be nice all the time with everyone. Watch your voice. Don’t react even if people are condescending towards you etc. But as the days went by, I reached a conclusion (for the millionth time) that fortunately or unfortunately, there is absolutely NOTHING camouflageable about me. Not my face, nor my body, not my personality, nor my lifestyle, not my story, nor my parents’ story…etc. etc. and that is just how it is. My life experiences, in general, are nothing less than a cultural shock to most people here. All the work I’ve done to accept myself, set healthy boundaries and evolve as a person is such a waste of time if I focus on camouflaging!

So, I stopped. I don’t want to fit in and nor do I want to camouflage my way through life here. Trying to be anything less or more than who I’ve become makes my days feel less fulfilling. Living on someone elses’ terms or expecting my story to be understood as is, both, eat into my precious energy.

To say the least, it’s been quite a challenge being a young, single, work from home (or not, if health doesn’t allow), chronically ill and pretty woman in a place like India. That whole combination somehow doesn’t seem to help. I’m award that women like me in other parts of the world struggle too but for the sake of this post, or collection of posts, I’ll be writing about my experiences here in India.

It’s been harder than I thought. You know how knowing is one thing and actually experiencing something is another? I’ve not known enough about India (from my personal stories and reading) to make informed decisions but never have I had to experience the culture the way I need to this time. I’m seeing things around me that I don’t quite like (never did) and I’m learning to respond in a way that honours my present self.

If you know me personally, you’d know that writing is extremely healing for me. It helps me process my thoughts and allows my emotions to move through my system (who wants that gunk sticking around inside anyway?) more easily. I usually write for myself, some of which I share and some I don’t.

Over the years I noticed that as I write and put things out there, I also directly and indirectly connect with people around the world. Maybe me sharing my experiences as I manoeuvre my way through this transition and issues like sexism and ableism, could potentially make someone else out there feel heard and less alone.

At the moment, the closest of my relationships consist of men — my brother, my dad, one of my best friends who is a guy and a male cousin. While they can try and understand how I feel, they cannot possibly, even if they wished, fully grasp or wrap their heads around the actual intensity. Of course, they’re around to help but certain sensitive topics require more than just that. They require being put out there. Being spoken about, often publicly too.

My closest girlfriends, on the other hand, share the same opinions as I do too but once again, being chronically ill takes things up a notch. Your environment and how things function in it affects your health to a level not understood by most.

This is going to be a step up in my journey. As I learn to own my story once again (this time in a very unfamiliar setting) show up for myself and become completely okay with not fitting in, I hope to keep my posts on here rather raw and as unedited as possible. Obviously that means if you’re expecting a level of political correctness, my posts are not for you :)

Do wait up for more posts coming in as they come in. I will only be writing if my health permits.

Lots of love,

Manasi

P.S. I will even be turning off the comments section on some of the stories I share. Please feel free to reach out to me on my e-mail if need be. Should you have anything defensive to say about my stories, please remind yourself that our experiences can very well differ and neither are necessarily invalid.

I haven’t been updating my Instagram or blog much lately and I don’t feel great about it because I really haven’t been writing much. Writing, for me, has been healing. I generally write a lot, whether or not I share my writings with anyone, but I do need that time and space to just be with myself.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to sit with a pen and paper in my quiet sanctuary where I pour my heart and soul out onto the paper. I know for sure that as my safe space starts to come together, and as my self-care routine becomes my primary focus once again, I will spend more time writing and sharing again too.

In the last two weeks, my ability to respond appropriately to my surrounding dropped drastically. It only makes sense, given that I have been dealing with too much at once. After sitting with this thought for a while, I realised that responses were coming from a place of fear and a sense of instability.

In 2017, I was once again required to make a hard choice for (not because) the sake of my health. Nonetheless, it seemed like the right thing to do and I’ve been okay with it. However, the physical of transition became so real in the last two weeks, it started taking a toll on me. I’ve been desperately trying to put things in place quickly so that I can finally let my body rest. The fear of what would happen if this transition caused my health to deteriorate even further worried me to an extent which reflected in how I responded to things around me.

I keep reminding myself that one of my strengths is and has been in my ability to adapt to the most challenging of circumstances.Unfortunately, though, I do have a tendency to be a little harsh and less compassionate with myself. Possibly a pattern from the past.

The truth is, it is extremely natural to freak out when things are moving too fast around us. This is how I see it: Transition = change = temporary instability = temporary disruption of routine = an opportunity to create a new, more present one = ability to transform & grow.

Over next couple of weeks, my goal is to allow myself the time and space to adjust. There is no need to figure out ten things at once. Some things may require my energy and others will sort themselves out.✨