I should probably start with a brief addendum on the subject of our recent ATOS assessment. We got a letter earlier in the week confirming that R has in fact passed her test (or failed, depending on your point of view) and has been awarded ESA. Anyway, aside from this I was telling my mother over the phone the other day that I felt somewhat as if my life was out of my own control. I based this on the fact that I have been made redundant from my last two jobs. R, as a disabled person with a history of child abuse, frequently feels that she has no control at all. As we discussed what the hell I can do for her recently, we agreed that I would give her a little control over her life by relinquishing some of mine.
Okay, so I exaggerated for effect. Sue me. What I firstly agree was that I would do a simple chore around the house. I mean, I do some chores around the house, it's not like R does everything, although she does do most of it. What she wanted was some rudimentary cleaning of the bathroom, or rather she wanted us to do that chore equally, taking it in turns one day at a time. It took me a while to get in to the routine of doing the job properly, remembering to do it (we have a laminated rota now, for my benefit) and remembering to do it on time. But the fact is job one does make a difference. One thing R dreads is people visiting her home early in the day, seeing that it is a mess and thinking that she can't cope just because she has a disability. I know, and I know she knows, that getting me to do some of the work to prove that she can cope sort of tramples on the point, but it's not unfair for me to do some of the housework, and it makes her feel better.
Job number two was a somewhat different kettle of fish, almost literally. R was finding it hard to come up with meals every day. The problem is due in no small measure to what she can and can't eat. She can't eat too much fibre, she can't process fat, she can't eat citrus fruit or shellfish and she seems now to have a problem processing calories. On top of this she has just lately come to the conclusion that eating any meat at all makes her feel guilty/ Put all this together and add the fact that we are shopping on a budget and food is basically just the enemy for R. It has made her ill in so many ways over so many years that she has a real hate/hate relationship with the damn stuff. Naturally there are days when she really can't face doing anything with it at all, so we should be taking it in turns to come up with meals. The fact that
'come up with' is the extent of my food remit probably owes a great deal to the meal I prepared yesterday, where I accidentally coated her soya burger in beef fat, or the day before, when I prepared what she described as 'wallpaper paste'. I swear I used to be able to cook. I'm trying again today, I'll let you know how it goes.
My third undertaking was to look after myself better. Specifically, I have exercises to do which stretch my hamstrings, and was recently told by my doctor to build up my arm muscles. I'm pretty sure I'm not actually overweight but R, who never wastes time on tact when simple rudeness will do, tells me I have always been 'a bit potbellied'. I think she meant that to be helpful. She has shown me some exercises with which I can tighten up my stomach muscles and I am now required to do these daily. This is all jolly hard work when you're lazy.
To conclude, I would say that my faltering steps (I get 1/3 so far for consistency) are making some positive impact on R, who is a bit happier now that I am helping out. Interestingly, though, it is also having a positive impact on me. I turns out I'm not losing control, I'm actually gaining it. Giving me the discipline to do stuff, even if it isn't stuff that directly benefits me, is having a positive impact on my mental health. Ticking a couple of items off a checklist gives me an improved sense of achievement and usefulness, and makes me feel more positive. Also, I'm not getting as much stuff thrown at me.