Sunday, 20 July 2014

"The Lord he knows where each day goes, I know he won't leave me behind"

The last couple of weeks have been an almost uneventful few days, and that is just how I like it. Exciting things have been happening but they have been interspersed with calm and relaxing days.

One thing I would like to write about is a visit to the CFS/ME clinic at Sutton Hospital about a week ago. This appointment was a follow-on from the seminar I went to a few months ago. I met with a specialist physiotherapist to discuss my resting regime (my phrase, not her's) and anything I might want help with. I went in thinking that I was doing OK I suppose as I have been improving steadily since Christmas and have been feeling a lot more hopeful for the future, but on the other hand I still have days when I get the resting regime a little wrong or I feel much less persevering and overall I can't live as a normal 20 year old quite yet. So I was very surprised when the physio said that I was doing really well and doing everything right.


Apparently yes. Maybe it's my perception that being as I'm not better yet, or that I still have down days so I have to be doing something wrong. Or maybe it's other people's perceptions that my illness is my fault, or that my down days are my fault. Either way, somehow I was surprised. This is something that has reassured me though as most of my resting regime is of my own creation based on trial and error, not the specialist advice of a doctor.

I may just pause here and elaborate on what the physio said was particularly good/helpful:
  • pre-resting (again, my phrase not her's) which involves resting in anticipation of larger energy expenditures rather than relying on resting afterwards. Somehow it's more efficient, but I'm not sure why. Maybe because you feel a little less anxious going into things knowing you have prepared??
  • proper resting. I talked about this about a year ago as I was experimenting with it but haven't kept it up so much. The physio described proper resting as simply doing nothing, even for only a minute or two. I had gotten a little into the habit of watching TV to relax but it doesn't quite work as well.
  • a good bed-time routine.

This is turning out to be a meandering post because I would also like to put into words my thoughts about this, my last long summer before I am meant to go out into the real world once I graduate next year. Last summer felt wasted as I spent most of it in bed feeling very poorly but this summer has allowed me some freedom. While I still cannot compare myself to others at my age and stage in life without some sadness and envy, I can still enjoy the great things my life is offering to me right now. I am well enough now to meet up with friends I haven't seen for a while and so have something to look forward to. The most encouraging thing is when friends who I have barely seen are still good enough to remember me. They tell me that they are so glad I have made it to see them or to get to an event and make the most of my company, which is the most lovely thing ever. So somehow I don't feel this summer is being wasted, and I am learning to enjoy each day for its own sake.

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Fundamental Attribution Error

Some psychology student somewhere will google this title and be a little confused as to what's it's doing here. I suppose most other people may be confused too.

As a psychology student, one of the many (many, many) things I have learnt about this last year is the fundamental attribution error. Generally, this is the belief (often made erroneously) that a person's behaviour is due to their own opinions and motivations.

For example, there was a psychology study in which participants were asked to listen to two opposing speeches. Both of the people giving the speeches were given a particular topic to speak on that was controversial and didn't necessarily fit with their viewpoint. Despite the participants being told that the speech topic had nothing to do with the speaker's views, they still attributed the opinions in the speech to the person speaking. So the speaker talking about how battery farming was great was viewed as being someone who supported battery farming, despite always buying free range.

This can also apply to everyday things, such as assuming that a sharp reply from someone is because they dislike you maybe, or have little patience. Usually, this isn't the case (hence F. A. error). I'm not sure why people see others like this but it has some negative consequences when people see the behaviour of those with invisible illnesses.

If I was chatting with a friend and then had to say that I was sorry but I needed to go rest, this could very easily be perceived as me being bored with the conversation rather than me being exhausted and having to drag myself away. And it often is perceived that way. Unfortunately in my world, and in the world of many others with invisible illnesses, can't and won't are entirely different. People who have had activities taken away from them due to illness generally would LOVE to keep doing them. Even doctors sometimes get this one wrong and see the patient's describing being unable to do things as not wanting to do things and diagnose it as depression.

Our brains would like to fit things into neat boxes and so will attempt to make the fundamental attribution error, but you don't have to listen.