Some years ago, maybe a year after I first got sick, I read "Taken on Trust" by Terry Waite. I felt a real sense of 'company' as I read about his life in solitary confinement: living in his memories, telling himself stories, playing mental games and keeping a tight control on his emotions. It sounded a lot like my life, and helped me to feel less alone. A year or two later I heard him speak on National Radio, and emailed him to tell him about my experience. He graciously replied, and said that many other chronically ill people had told him a similar story.
A week or two ago, after living with CFS/ME for nearly eight years now, I heard an interview with a psychologist who had studied men on death row in Texas. They live in near-solitary conditions, and she found they kept themselves going with similar strategies to those Terry Waite had described.
This time, I felt a sense of familiarity, but no actual connection. I know something of what that life feels like, but I don't live it any more. I suddenly realised that, over the years, I have developed real activities and real engagement with the world: I have a life, and no longer live in the 'holding pattern' of solitary confinement.
And many grateful thanks to God who has enabled me to live so well within my circumstances :-)
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