Why you should widen your perspective (and how)

“There are more things in heaven and earth… than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – Hamlet

We live in a big world. It’s 40 thousand kilometres wide, with 7.5 billion people. There are 2 thousand types of jellyfish and 3 thousand varieties of pears.

How often do you stop to ponder the universe?

If you are a Watcher or a Caregiver, sometimes the world does not feel that big. Our hours and thoughts are occupied with one person. Our daily routines may not take us particularly ‘far afield’. Life, which in reality is BIG, can feel (and be!) very small.

Oh no, you may protest. I don’t live in a bubble! I watch TV. I listen to the radio. I get the news on my phone.

That’s good… but it’s not the same as genuinely experiencing the world first-hand, is it? Media such as TVs, newspapers etc. can give us a sense of the “busyness” of the world, or the “angst” of the world – but do they really help us understand the “bigness” of the universe?

I don’t have time, you may counter. “Experiencing the world” (whatever that means) is a luxury I can’t afford. That’s for other more fortunate people.

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How to love a chronically ill EXTROVERT

We’re all different and unique. Some of us are introverts, and others of us are extroverts. In the normal scheme of things, we can navigate our differences. But what happens when chronic illness is thrown into the mix?

Introverts are well known for being ‘quiet, bookish types’ and extroverts for being ‘raging party animals’. Of course, it’s not that simple. Still, an easy definition (and the one I’ll use for this series) is:

Extroverts obtain energy from being around people.

Introverts re-charge from being alone.

Yet if chronic illness limits an extrovert’s socialising opportunities, how are they supposed to ‘re-charge’? How can we care for and love a sick extroverted friend?

Keep reading for FOUR thoughts and FOUR practical tips…

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When NOT to fight someone else’s battle (even if you want to)

Have you ever sailed into an argument or situation with all cannons blazing… only to realise later that you should have just let the matter drop?
Have you ever fought long and hard for someone else – and then wondered whether you’re actually doing the right thing?

I have to admit, I have a tendency to get caught up “in the moment”. With the adrenaline rushing through my veins, I find it only too easy to believe that my right is the only right and it needs to be defended at any cost.

Of course, this just gets more complicated when it’s not my own battle that I’m fighting.

As Watchers we are often called to fight on someone else’s behalf. But what if sometimes fighting is not the best course of action? What if sometimes the right thing is to step back and put down our arms?

How are we to know?

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Why you SHOULD fight someone else’s battle (when you’d rather not)

If you’re like me, there are times when you are ‘rearing to go’ when a disagreement comes up.

Someone needs you to stand up for them? Done. Need to make a complaint? Done.

Need to convince the well-meaning shop assistant to check out the back for more stock? Done.

And yet…

… Some days the last thing you want to do is rub against the grain. Instead you want to take the back seat, keep your head down and maintain the peace. You’d rather deal with the consequences later rather than speak up in the moment. 

There’s nothing wrong with this – except in the context of chronic illness sometimes the consequences aren’t ours to absorb.

As Watchers, caregivers and loving friends, sometimes we are called to fight our Loved One’s battles, not our own. When we give up, they are the ones who suffer for it.

So what do we do?

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O woe is me! (Watchers, we are not Victims)

“Oh look at all those other people with their lollipops and rainbows, skipping hand in hand in a luscious field of poppies. If only that was me. Instead here I am in my dark corner with my pet spider and my burden of responsibility.”

Which character would you be in a novel?

The hero?

The villain?

The love interest?

Some days it’s easy to feel like the victim. The character that gets smacked over the head with a tonne of Tragedy just so the hero can realise that yes, the world does need saving. I’d better find my cape…

You might not struggle with your health on the same level as your friend or family member with a chronic illness, but it can still feel like you’ve got the raw end of the deal.

After all, your life has been disrupted too! You have added responsibility, added financial strain, added demands on your time and energy. On top of all that you spend a lot of time in close quarters with someone who is unwell (and the truth is, unwell people aren’t always as much fun as ‘well’ ones – I personally turn into a monster when I have the flu).

When you feel overlooked and depleted it’s easy to imagine that your identity is not in being a Watcher, but rather a Victim (yes, with a capital V).

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We cannot be everything (We are Watchers, not…Master List)

This is a blog about ‘Watching’. That is, loving suffering people while not suffering yourself.
But what does that look like? It can (and does!) look like many things, but sometimes it’s helpful to look at what we are not.

Master List: Watchers, we are not…

Watchers, we are not… Doctors

We just want them cured – is that so wrong?

is it wrong to want your loved one cured www.calledtowatch.com #caregiver #struggle #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching #prayer

Watchers, we are not… Biographers

If only we could decipher the ‘meaning’ behind their suffering!

How to write about chronic illness www.calledtowatch.com #holidays #reading #amreading #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching

Watchers, we are not… Saints

Of course we’re fine, after all, we’ve got this!

Are you always fine Watchers, we are not saints www.calledtowatch.com #caregiver #struggle #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching #prayer

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The problem with chronic illness and social media

Sharing about chronic illness on social media: It’s difficult.
Particularly when you are only watching someone else’s battle.

That I believe this might come as a surprise, due to the slight fact that this website is full of articles!

Not to mention, I have associated facebook pages, groups, pinterest, google plus and twitter accounts! That’s a lot of social media.

Yet each time I share about the place of chronic illness in my life (as someone who has sick family members, but is not ill myself), I struggle.

It’s a hard topic to think and talk about – let alone share online with everyone and anyone!

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How to love your wider supporters

It’s easy for us, whose lives are so embroiled with the pain of our Loved One, to forget those around us who aren’t Watchers.

We should not overlook the lives of our wider supporters and focus exclusively on our sick Loved One. So far, so obvious, but how do we put it into practice?

How do we love our wider supporters (and why do we need a post on this?)

Surely, if we all just act like civilised human beings there’s no need for a specific address on how to ‘love’ those who are not watching as we are.

On one hand that’s true, and on another it’s not. You see, Watching means that we are used to having the pain of one person impact our life. We are used to focusing inward, towards them. We know what it is like to relate to people who are suffering.

And we might, in the process, discover we have a lot less patience for those who are not.

This, my friends, is somewhat natural.

It is also a problem.

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Why do our ‘wider supporters’ matter?

We’ve talked about Loved Ones, those of us who suffer day in and day out from either physical or mental illness.
We’ve talked about Watchers, us whose lives are directly affected by their illness, and are called to love them, yet are unable to help them.
But what about those who fit into neither category?

We all like to use labels.

And they are necessary, and useful. Sometimes, however, they miss the mark. They cause us to overlook questions that need to be asked, and they paint the entire situation with broad sweeps, when actually, life is a lot more intricate.

When they leave us talking about ‘them’ and ‘those people’, it’s easy to forget that some of the time, in some circumstances, those people are ‘us’.

We are all wider supporters

It doesn’t matter if we are also individuals suffering with chronic illnesses or caregivers. It doesn’t matter if we’ve never met anyone with a chronic illness or we work in a hospital and it’s all we see.

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Long distance Watching (Part 2)

It’s difficult to care as much about something when you’re not confronted with it every day.
We are often more distressed about our 3 year old’s tantrum than a war in a 3rd world country. What we see and experience affects us.

Watching from a distance feels less ‘real’

What we experience personally seems more real, not only because we are a firsthand witness but because it actually disrupts our life.

Thus, it is more difficult to Watch when we do not see our Loved One regularly. It is genuinely hard to place as much importance on their struggles.

Not because our love is less, but because it makes up less of our day.

What should we do?

Continue reading “Long distance Watching (Part 2)”