When my health was at its worse, I had no energy. I mean none. I spent 22+ hours a day in bed. Just getting a shower and getting food in my body was a struggle. The pain I was suffering and the brain fog I was enduring meant that reading was not a good option for me because I couldn’t concentrate very well. Add to that the fact that I was reacting to inks and formaldehyde in paper, and books weren’t accessible to me.
So what did I do for entertainment? I watched a LOT of videos. Previously I was not a big tv or movie fan. I’d see some things on occasion, but I didn’t keep up with many series and I only went to the movies a few times a year, if that. Being so sick changed that. I caught up on many wonderful series that I had missed when they were broadcast originally such as The Wire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Six Feet Under, Queer as Folk, and many more. At that time, video streaming was not available, so I had a 10 disc plan with Netflix, and even that couldn’t keep up with my viewing demands. I’d also have my then husband check videos out from the local public library. I’d occasionally borrow from friends' video collections, too, to have another back up option to make sure I had entertainment. Aside from Netflix, there are now quite a few other options for video streaming that I wish had been available then such as videos on various networks’ websites such as pbs.org, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video.
I’m not a fan of audiobooks; I think this has to do with the fact that I started reading at age two, and I really have no memories of anyone reading to me as a result. My speed of reading was far faster than anyone’s verbal reading, so I think I just grew intolerant of listening to others read. However, this is another option for people with illness using books from resources such as Audible and the public library.
Once I had recovered quite a bit, I eventually broke down and bought a Kindle even though they were still really expensive then; of course, the price dropped dramatically right after I bought one because that is how Murphy’s Law of Technology works. It took me several months to get the screen of the Kindle off-gassed enough for me to tolerate it, but then I was good to go. It was amazing for me to finally be able to read again after so many years of not reading. I still dearly love my Kindle and couldn’t imagine life without this disability accommodation device. It’s not at all the same as reading a paper book, but it’s far better than nothing. I check out e-books from Amazon and the public library. There are also many blogs online that post about free Kindle books when they are available, and that also helps with cheaper reading material. I buy books, too, but as any ardent reader can tell you, a book addiction can add up fast!
I had issues tolerating sewing materials, but for many, knitting, crocheting, and other handicrafts can be ways to pass the time while in bed. Jewelry making could also fall into this category of crafty entertainment. I read an article about one woman with a chronic illness who makes dolls as an outlet for her creativity during her illness and as a way to bring in some extra funds.
Meditation and prayer are also forms of beneficial entertainment when bedbound. They have been scientifically shown to help with healing. For those with more energy and the ability to be slightly mobile, yoga can also be very healing on physical, spiritual and emotional levels.
The internet is a wonderful way to spend time, too, though I didn’t have a laptop when I was at my sickest, and that limited how much time I could spend on the computer because sitting up was too exhausting for me. However, one needs to be selective about what one does on the internet. News sites contain so much bad news that they can pull one’s spirits down. Likewise, I found that many illness support forums and discussion groups are very negative in content which wasn't helpful to my recovery. As a result, I’ve learned how to skim them for research information but to avoid the negative complaining and thought that can be there as well.
Skype and the disappearance of long distance charges now make communication via phone and computer also a great option. These activities can provide companionship and benefit to many people. One online friend who has chronic fatigue syndrome found the best way for her to get socialization in was to have friends over to her house for potlucks every odd Friday. Her friends brought the food, and they came to have fun with her. While the severity of my fatigue and my chemical sensitivities prevented such an activity for me, I always thought it was a wonderful idea.
As my health improved, I started to get more energy, though I ave yet to cross the threshold of having even 50% of the energy of a healthy adult. Still, with that extra energy I gained back, I threw myself into cooking which I find both relaxing and delicious. I taught myself digital photography, a hobby that kept me busy for a long time, helped me meet new people online through Flickr, and also led to starting my first business. Photography also gave me a new perspective on life, helping me see beauty in places I’d never noticed it before.
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance