"It is true that I am slow, quiet and boring. I am lackadaisical, I dawdle and I dillydally. I am also unflappable, languid, stoic, impassive, sluggish, lethargic, placid, calm, mellow, laid-back and, well, slothful! I am relaxed and tranquil, and I like to live in peace. But I am not lazy...That's just how I am. I like to do things slowly, slowly, slowly." [my emphasis]
I think the reason that this delights me so much, is because it encapsulates the struggle I have had redefining and asserting the principles by which I choose to live, and fighting off both implied and overt criticism, from others and from myself. While I have been writing this post, an ex-colleague and friend has got in touch and invitated me to meet for lunch. This is OK from the point of view of pacing myself - it would be local, and would not overfill my schedule. This is someone I get on well with, and want to see. But I would be lying if I said I wasn't still slightly apprehensive about answering the innevitable question, 'so what have you been doing?'
In the Spring of this year, when I was in the early stages of my latest rough patch, I added greatly to my own predicament by getting deeply frustrated about what I could not do. I could not launch myself into the professional activity that I had wanted to, I could not be as active with my daughter as I wanted to be, I could not keep up with the housework, I could not make plans and move my life forward. I berated myself for this - my body for putting me in this position, and my mind for not dragging me through in spite of myself. And all this did was waste what energy I did have and compound my physical symptoms.
I have come to accept my current reality - that the fatigue associated with my inflammatory arthritis is what it is. I can try to avoid exacerbating it, I can treat it with medication that I hope will have an effect, I can listen to my body and look after myself, but there is no knowing if or when the situation will change, for better or for worse. I cannot judge myself by the frenetic standards of the rest of the world, and I cannot force myself to comply with them. Nor do I want to.
So what would I say now to the accusation of laziness?
'I respect the needs of my body, and I rest when I need to. I prioritise the things that really matter to me, and I schedule my activity carefully. I do what I can, and I don't do what I can't.'
I too am relaxed and tranquil, and like to live in peace. It has taken a while, but I am now almost as content as the sloth to say 'That's just how I am.'