A very big focus for me at the moment is to deal with the mental and emotional side of the trauma involved in losing a leg (and it actually being someone’s fault). To that end I have a regular appointment with a psychologist. In addition to that I also have a regular appointment with an occupational therapist who is helping me manage the rest of my life, sleep (or lack of), pacing and fatigue. The last time I recorded a video blog I set some goals for myself, and one of them was to slow down and be ok with that. It was me doing that very thing that caused me to happen upon a book that, so far, is possibly one of the best books I have read in a long time (and I have only just started it!)
She talk about invisible load, in relation to emotional and physical things you do to yourself as a result of your lifestyle choices. I have gotten through this chapter so far and am part way through the next.
She talks a lot about our day to day stresses, about how our technological lifestyle is completely different to that of the first humans that walked the earth, the hunter gatherers.
One analogy she used was a ruler.
Imagine a 30cm school ruler, and allow that to represent the time that we currently understand that we, as a species, have been on this planet – about 300,000 years. That means 1mm, the smallest unit you can see on the ruler, represents 1,000 years. Using this time model the last 100 years would not even be the size of a tiny dot left y a pin prick.Dr Libby Weaver ‘The invisible Load”
She goes on to say that our brains have taken millions of years to evolve to what it is today. So it cannot now keep up with such lightening fast change in our lifestyles in the past 100 years and adapt with haste. Impacts on this that add to your invisible load. Here are some of the examples she gives that add to your invisible load – which in turn creates stress and overload: Dr Libby
- How you choose to fuel your body – stress causes the want to eat fast food, less nutritional food, but our body has a basic biological need for nutrients, which it is not getting. This leads to internal stress in the form of inflammation and fatigue.
- Caffeine – We see this as a way to get through the day. All it does in reality us increases adrenaline, leading to everything feeling more urgent and the likelihood of you over reacting to unexpected events making everything feel overwhelming, when it probably isn’t.
- Sugar – We all know this is not good for you – but we eat it anyway.. then we feel bad.. then we try to correct this by promising we will do more exercise tomorrow (but do you actually make it?) and doesn’t this just lead to more invisible load?
- Alcohol – we use this to wind down but it is actually a depressant and therefore makes everything feel like it is harder to cope with, perhaps not immediately after you drink it, but probably tomorrow. As a result of alcohol your sleep quality is probably compromised, so we need more coffee… see the cyclic problem she is describing?
- Your time – sees to run though your fingers faster than sand. Emails, meetings, managing the family.. the pace of what you are trying to achieve in a typical day can also add to your invisible load.
- The people you care for – whether that be family, friends, colleagues, if you take on too much you can start feeling resentment at all the demands they have of you, which again leads to your invisible load.
- Your physical body – You may not share your concern, but you might be worried about your appearance, the efforts you are making that are not working, the regret of not appreciating yourself more earlier in life, self talk that says you are too fat, or too thin, or too whatever.. affecting self image, self esteem, adding yet more invisible load.
Dr Libby goes on to explain in scientific and biological ways, why our body responds as it does, that in turn makes all these things mentioned above present as stress and overwhelm. She talks about the digital age, being constantly connected to a phone, constant demands on our time, compared to in the 1940s when we simply focussed on surviving.. when the phone was in the hall attached to the wall, when you went out somewhere and no one could get hold of you till you came back, when there were no ‘fast food’ outlets to grab that junk food.
I absolutely loved the way that she described things in a way that you can relate to, then backed it up with science to explain why. So I have set about trying to be aware of the things I create in my own mind that add to my already very heavy load.
Here is what I have come up with this week so far:
- I went down to the estuary and walked to the boardwalk non stop for the first time. Ordinarily I would be focussed on the things I still couldn’t do, be stressed about how hard it all was and how walking should be simple but it isn’t. BUT… instead I sat and genuinely thought wow, go me! Look how far you came, look how easy that was compared to the first time you tried. saw this as a giant step in the right direction.
- Had a fabulous day one day this week, completely on my own. I filled the day with some household organising, browsing the local shops (something I never usually do) sat in the park (and found Dr Libby’s book while actually not really looking for any books in particular!)
- I slowed down… expected less of myself – and accepted this as being ok.
- I was swimming on Saturday in a relatively quiet pool. I was in a lane on my own. A large very slow gentleman got in and started swimming / walking up and down in the lane in front of me. Usually I would get seriously pissed off, instead I carried on around him and he soon got out again. Nothing lost. No stress.
- I started learning to draw, using a few short online lessons from YouTube. This is the bit I am most proud of! I need to carry that wee book and pencils around with me more, and add it to my quiet moments in the park. Practice is the only way to get better!
If you find this interesting and would like me to update you as readers as I progress through this book and learn more, I would love to hear from you please do leave a comment.