So, here's the news: I have a cold. I'm possibly dying of some dreadful lurgy. Or, perhaps it's (wo)man flu. Either way, I feel pretty lousy right about now. It's a bit like someone has taken my brain out of my head and replaced it with a really heavy, wet sponge. And that sponge is so full of liquid, that some of it keeps dribbling out of my eyes and nose. I hope I've painted you a lovely, mental image. You're welcome.
I don't really have time to be ill. I've got a novel that needs to be promoted (click here to buy it and I promise I won't sneeze on you), a YouTube video to finish editing, a new novel that I need to start work on and stories that need to be written and recorded in advance, for my weekly bedtime story feature on this blog. Add a day job to all of that and you can probably see why getting ill is just not really something I can squeeze into my hectic schedule. If I had a social life, I'd really be struggling...
Since I had to go to work today, I was forced to set my alarm for 6:45am and to be out of bed by seven. Not easy, when you've spent most of the night wide awake, because you can't breathe and you're coughing so much that you're in danger of waking people in nearby towns. Needless to say, when my alarm sounded this morning, all I wanted to do was crawl underneath the duvet and hide.
Phil's hiding under the duvet skills need work.
The trouble is, being poorly doesn't just affect your physical well being. It can totally mess up your mood, too. When your mouth's hanging open all the time (because you genuinely can't breathe through your nose), and you feel like an elephant has taken to tap-dancing on your skull, the last thing you're likely to be is particularly jolly. And, if you're anything like me, feeling a little fed up is going to make you super duper sensitive to the words and actions of everyone around you.
No matter what you do, feeling ill is going to leave you vulnerable. You're not at your best and your metaphorical shields are on the fritz. Even if you plaster on a smile, engage in some major positive thinking and drug yourself up to the eyeballs with Lemsip and Sudafed and whatever else you can find in the medicine cabinet, you're still going to be more likely to notice those little things that you might usually be able to ignore.
I am currently 90% Lemsip.
Being sensitive to those little things really does make you aware of just how much the tiniest thing can affect your day. And if other people can have a major effect on us, then it stands to reason that we can have a pretty big effect on them, too.
For example, today I've been mostly coughing, sneezing and blowing my nose. Reactions to this have ranged from: Outright laughter (to be fair, that was from the kids I work with), to tutting, all the way to actually being told to shut up. Pro tip: if you're telling someone to shut up when they're coughing/sneezing/doing something else they can't actually help, you might want to consider most definitely not doing that. Juuuust saying.
Now, I'm not going to sit here and beg for eternal sympathy. It's a cold, not something that might actually result in my grisly death. But the people who've eased the weight of my wet-sponge-brain today have unanimously been the ones who've realised that actually, I can't do much to stop myself from sneezing or coughing, and that it's far better to blow my nose into a tissue than it is to just stand there, casually allowing a stream of snot to flow down my face.
Again with the mental images...
Anyway, the more I thought about those little things - the angry tut if I've sneezed more than three times in a row, or the frown in my general direction if my coughing gets irritating to people around me - the more I thought that it's surely pretty easy to step outside of ourselves for a second and think that even if something like endless coughing is annoying to listen to, it must be much worse to actually be endlessly coughing?
And then I started thinking about how it applies to life in general. Regardless of the health of a person, it's almost certainly not cool to start having a go at them for something they can't help. It's also pretty lousy to make a person feel bad just because you're in a grouch.
The smallest things we do can affect the other people around us. I remember once going to a school assembly, in which my Head of Year told us all that simply holding a door open for someone, rather than letting it slam behind you, is a small way to affect someone else's day in a positive, rather than negative way. Which is why I always hold doors open. And why I will sarcastically mutter "you're welcome" after people who don't thank me for it. Because screw those people.
I guess what I'm trying to say is just think. Think about how what you're saying and doing might affect the people around you.
Also, think about congratulating me on being poorly, yet having written a blog AND edited a YouTube video, this evening. Oh and think about watching said video, or I'll have spent an evening editing rather than dying under a duvet for NOTHING.
On that note, I think it's time for me to get into my pyjamas, crawl underneath the duvet and watch The X Files. Hopefully tomorrow, the elephant tap-dancing on my head will have taken up a gentler pastime. Like... Yoga.
COMMENCE DUVET ACTION!!!!