• Michelle Partington

It’s the season to be jolly.

I spent most of my day at the Centurion Centre in St. Helens today. I’ve decided to volunteer at the community centre which is run jointly by Rev. Bill from St. Marks Church and the Veterans Council. I will only spend a day a week there initially but at least it’s getting me out of the house. It was very quiet but word hasn’t really gone out yet. It will be great once it is fully up and running.

I’m a little concerned about next week as they are having a christmas party for approx 20 veterans. It will be ok I’m sure but I’m still a tad concerned. It was great meeting with another veteran today but he was a tad intense. He kept talking about dead bodies and murders which triggered something in me. He obviously knew nothing about my illness and I was not about to make him feel uncomfortable by telling him. I let him finish talking because I think he just wanted to offload and then I was thankfully rescued by Claire who seemed to sense my discomfort with the conversation. It is great to know someone has my back whilst I’m there. I appreciate there will be many more conversations like this if I am to continue volunteering there but I am prepared to go with it. We will see what next week brings at the christmas party.

Christmas parties in general are going on all over but I find myself stuck in a rutt with a much reduced social life. I have been invited to a couple of do’s but they are in busy public places so sadly off my list of things to do for now. I am acutely aware that there are people who are living on their own feeling extremely isolated and alone. People who have noone around them, no parties to be invited to. No family to visit them and noone to call. Young people, old people, homeless people, those who are hospital bound and many more, each one with their own external and internal fears and tribulations to contend with…alone in a world that is too busy. If you know of anyone, a neighbour perhaps, or you walk past a homeless person on the street why not spare them 5 minutes of your time over a coffee. That time may be all you can spare and you may forget that 5 minutes almost instantly but I can almost guarentee they will remember it for a long time after.

Even when people are surrounded by others they can still feel lonely and isolated. Those sufferring hidden illnesses such as I find it difficult to communicate their feelings and emotions to others so find it much easier to sit quietly and watch everyone else relaxing and having fun.

All I want to do day in day out is to stay in a safe place protected from external triggers which I seem to be surrounded by. If I stay in I don’t have to hide what I’m feeling. I don’t have to pretend to be ok when I’m reeling inside in reaction to a random trigger. Feeling ‘out of it’ when everyone else is having a laugh and I’m sat there trying to keep myself in check. People sufferring with a hidden illness becomes very good at camouflage…


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