Today I am writing to you during what I hope is the later stage of a Fibromyalgia Flare. If I am correct, I am fortunate, and it has only lasted a few days. If not, I’ll let you know. As the title said this post is written explicitly for Crafters with Fibromyalgia, but I hope it may be of interest to anyone else living with chronic health conditions whether you are a crafter or not.
A Flare Up out of nowhereSometimes you expect a flare-up when you overdo things. Back in May, I talked about the big walk we went on at the beginning of the heatwave. Exerting myself beyond my limitations was a great way to induce a flare-up, and I understood what I was undertaking. Much like in December when I planned a day at the shops and a haircut, I realised what I was getting into when I had a Normal Day. On these occasions, you know the price you are likely to pay but plan your life to allow for a flare-up that inevitably follows. Sometimes though, like this time, a flare-up can come out of nowhere. I have been staying within my spoon limit; there were no heroics (as if I find myself in situations any longer where heroics may be required!) The only possible cause of this flare-up may be the changes in the climate. In April I wrote about how changes in the weather can affect Fibromyalgia.
This Flare-Up experienceI have talked about flare-ups in the past and explained that they are not all the same and different people can have different types of a flare-up. So let me tell you through what is happening at the moment.
Pain:My pain levels are rooted in my bones and constant; typically I can have some respite between alternating types of pain. At the moment my limbs feel heavy and ache without rest. My elbows are continually hurting me, and my knees feel as if I have twisted them several times a day, this is usually an occasional sensation. I have elevated nerve sensations. There are patches on my skin that almost feel like I have a burn.
Energy:What energy? As long as I stay within my spoon limit, I can usually do what I need to do. On a good day, I can make a couple of trips down to the laundry machines two floors down with a full bag of dirty clothes. Siting writing a blog post for you is usually not too big a problem. I can sometimes write it in an hour or two (and then, of course, have to sort out the images and social media). I have been writing this now for two hours at this point and have actually moved the scheduled date by a week because I realise that even though I have six hours to go I will not be able to complete it in time for today, I’m fading fast.
One Week LaterSo, it is now a week after I wrote the post up to this point. I am not entirely out of the flare-up yet, but I’m well enough to continue writing. The great news is I can tell you about the various activities I have been doing during this week which have enabled me to remain creative.
Watching and LearningLast week I wrote about Adult Colouring, you may remember that I talked about Claire, a blogger/YouTuber I have come across who is a colourist. One of the things I have been doing during this flare is watching Claire’s (and others) videos to learn new skills. Of course, some of the skills will need practice, but I can go back and do this when I am feeling stronger. By taking the time out to watch the videos, I have grown my wishlist of items I want/need but have also realised how I can use some of the craft stash that has been kicking around for a while, while I was at a loss what to do with it.
Swatching my SuppliesI told you about the new Swatch Book I got from Amazon last week. One activity I have been able to do is slowly work through swatching my various pencils and markers into it. I have nearly finished those now and will be moving onto mediums like paints, chalks and Stickles/Nuvu Drops, it will take a while as I will have to leave the page to dry thoroughly but it will be well worth it to have one book with all my various mediums included. This swatch book will make my life so much easier if I can get to a craft fair. I will be able to take it along and know instantly if I already have a very similar product in the same colour – saving money is an excellent thing. The other benefit is when I watch a video or read a blog post, and a particular product catches my eye I can see if I already have something that I can use to try the technique for myself. Swatching your products can also allow you to spot problems before they happen. For instance, my Spectrum Noir Sparkle pens (which had been stored flat and not squeezed) at times came out so fast that they leaked well beyond the square. In two cases they made a massive puddle on my desk the minute I opened them (thank goodness I was not holding them over the book but the glass craft mat).
Manageable ColouringThe next thing I have done during my flare up is to continue with colouring a small illustration each day. I have deliberately used small pictures which I can complete within an hour or so if needed, or I can spend longer finetuning the layers if I have the energy and I am not in too much pain. I have learnt that pencils are harder for me to use when I am in a flare up, and markers are so much easier on my hands. Visually I like the look of the pen with pencil on top, so this is a style I want to work on and develop my skills doing.
Using up some of my stashThe other benefit of working through these colouring books is that I am using things up. I already have more supplies than I need and I have even more on my wish list. Due to financial and space restraints I am getting better at using what I have before wanting more when it comes to consumables like colouring books and papercrafting collections. While I have been watching and learning from YouTubers, I have discovered several colouring books sold on Etsy that you can download as a pdf. Using digital colouring books is my plan going forward because I won’t need space to store books and I can reprint and practice colouring the images several times in all different colourways. Just keeping and doing something special with the results I am most proud to produce.
Stepping back from it allAnother benefit of the flare-up (did I honestly say there was a benefit to a flare-up?) is that it has allowed me to step back from everything and mentally take stock. For instance, how long ago is it that I last tried any of the craft items that came with magazines? In reality, I must have over one hundred pieces waiting to be tried out, not to mention the branded items I have not opened yet. Do I need to have these magazines delivered through my door when I can read many of them on Readly? The reason I get the hard copies is for the gifts when in general I am not getting around to using the items. It defies logic! It is like I can’t see the wood for the trees and I’m sure I will enjoy my stash a lot more when I have a more limited amount of it. When I am feeling a bit stronger after this flare (next week I hope) I am going to ring and cancel the subscriptions for the magazines that I can still get hold of on Readly. Saving me money and space! If there is any doubt, I need to do this look at these photos. The first is a stack of magazines with the gifts in between and the second is some of the craft stash that arrived before these magazines that I am still to get around to using.
Following things throughAnother thing this flare-up has taught me is to follow things through. I am sure I have been talking about addressing the issue of all my craft stash for quite some time, and I haven’t followed through on anything. I think I just buried my head under the sand. I have read enough blog posts and seen enough decluttering videos which all agree that too many possessions are a terrible thing when you don’t have a place for everything.
Mental Health during a flare-upAny of you that talk to me on Twitter or have been reading my posts for a while will know that I do everything in my power to stay positive. My logic being that Fibromyalgia has taken so much from me physically that I don’t want it to overwhelm me mentally too. A flare-up is a time when I am most vulnerable to slipping into depression, and when I look around me and see I have not made any significant changes to my surroundings, it upsets me. This time I am more resolved to make those changes when I can. I can’t use the products to evaluate whether I want to keep them overnight but I can stop more coming through the door.
Stop competingOne of the biggest lessons I have learnt during this flare-up is from a quote that I have heard referenced a few times recently. Looking it up I discovered, on Goodreads, it comes from Tim Hillier and the whole quote goes like this:
“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle, or your middle to someone else’s end. Don’t compare the start of your second quarter of life to someone else’s third quarter.”
Even though I live with Fibromyalgia, my personality has not changed meaning that there is still a perfectionist hiding in here and I sometimes set unrealistic goals for myself. This quote from Hillier hit home though. Let us use the example of colouring. I have occasionally been colouring over the last few years, but if you added the time together, it would probably add up to a total of one-week maximum. How then can I compare my colouring with the likes of Claire who has been doing it daily for a couple of years? I have made my first couple of video’s how can I compare them with those of people who have been daily vlogging for years. I have realised that the only person I need to compete with is myself. As long as my skills are improving at some level, I am working towards my potential. I can admire what other people have created without finding holes in my creations.
What would you like to see?I would love to have your input. For those of you following my Instagram and Pinterest, you will know that I am currently working through my Spectrum Noir Colorista Steampunk Dark pad and I have a mandala pad from the original range, but I would love to know what type of images you like to see. It will help me plan which resources to use in what order. Drop me a comment below because I would love to take your preferences into account after all you have chosen to follow me and look at what I produce.
Let’s hope I have recovered from this flare-up as much as possible when I write my next blog post.