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Gaps are important, aren’t they?

They are all over the place, if you really think about it.  But whilst we are aware of them on some level or another perhaps we all too often ignore them.

Of course sometimes they come with warnings…

Although I now live in Ireland, and have done so for several years, I grew in England and spent many a holiday up in London holidaying with family.  So dashing to and fro on the London Underground was a very common thing for me.

Although I have very few specific childhood memories and indeed could not for the life of me remember even one of the many journeys I must have taken on the tube (the London Underground).  I do still recall the yellow line and writing painted on the edge of the platforms of each Tube Station that read ‘MIND THE GAP’.  Actually I also remember the loud public address system announcement that very clearly warned everyone to ‘MIND THE GAP’ each and every time a tube pulled into a station and the doors opened.

Of course some gaps can bring both bad and good fortune…

I think we have probably all lost things down in the gaps of the cushions of our couches/sofas and by the same token I imagine we have probably all found things down there that we never knew were there.

I can remember a time when the gaps between the cushions of the couch and indeed those around the sides and back of the couch were my son’s go to place for lost coins whenever he asked me for money and I had none on me to give him.  🙂  Actually, having just typed that, I am reminded that there have been times when they were my go to place if I had run out of smokes and didn’t have enough cash to buy some.

But some gaps are less obvious and instead of coming with a warning actually are a warning….

Gaps in functionality are I think one example of this.

As someone who suffers from very poor physical and mental health I consider myself very fortunate (or in Christian terms very blessed) to be able to achieve the things that I am able to achieve and to function at the level that I am generally able to function at.  Naturally I have good and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks, sometimes even longer periods, but I am grateful for how I am able to function most of the time.

But even when I am able to function at a high level is everything always ok?

Well, the honest answer has to be no.  Even at my best I may still not be ‘right’ or ‘OK’ and there may still be things in my functionality that are going awry or that might be missed from time to time or even completely overlooked until they become a major issue.

There have been and are, without doubt, times  when on the face of it things seem to be going OK and I seem to be coping well but actually if you look more closely there are gaps in my functionality that might not at first be noticed.  These gaps in functionality are, I think, extremely important and can very often be indicators that something is not right.  And sometimes, I believe, there are specific gaps that repeatedly appear and thus are good indicators, if we were to but notice them.

For example, in my own situation I usually live alone and I like to keep a clean and tidy home. But I suffer from both poor mental health and poor physical health.  Interestingly, because of the conditions and illnesses that I have, both my physical and mental health, whilst never being good, do often cycle into severe episodes.

In terms of my physical health, when it decreases I am not able to maintain the level of cleanliness and tidiness that I would like and normally maintain for my home.

In fact, I remember being told off by one of my friends, when she called to visit me one day.  She told me off for having told her that I was OK when I wasn’t.  “Whose saying I am not OK?”  I asked, still trying to maintain the impression that everything was alright.

“Your house is.”  She answered, with a gentle smile. “Don’t get me wrong, it is still clean and tidy, but not anywhere near as clean and tidy as you usually keep it and that always means you are struggling with your health.”

She was right and no I shouldn’t have said I was alright when I wasn’t.  But of course we are all human – yes even those of us with mental health issues are still human – and yes we all vary in our levels of functionality and very few of us actually like to admit it and thus be a burden to others.

But isn’t it also true that we sometimes choose to ignore those ‘gaps’ in our functionality because we want so badly for everything to be or to seem to be alright?

Just as my home, or it’s level of tidiness, is a gap that can often be an indicator in respect of my level of physical functionality there are gaps that are good indicators as my level of mental functionality.

The inability to; write fluidly, think cohesively, remember things, focus properly, manage my finances correctly, are all gaps in my functionality that appear when my mental health worsens.

These gaps in our normal level of functionality are, I believe extremely, important.  So too is our noticing, acknowledging and responding to them and/or our caretakers or carers noticing, acknowledging and responding to them.

In this article I have mentioned one or two examples of the gaps which appear in my own functionality when my physical or mental health worsen and which are good indicators of their worsening.  As I said above, these do not come with warnings as much as they are indeed warnings themselves.

One of the things that I need to do is, having identified these warning gaps in my functionality  is to let those closest to me know what they are and to then be honest with them when they appear and to ask them to be honest with me if and when they see these gaps appearing.

Perhaps you can think of specific gaps that always or usually seem to appear in your functionality when you are struggling or beginning to struggle and which can be used as effective early warning signs for you and those who care for you?

If so, I hope that like me you will try to make those closest to you aware of them so that they too can help you.

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