In Sickness and…

A long overdue update. Spring is upon us (as the rain beats down on my window here!), and I feel like leaving this Winter is almost akin to clambering from a very deep, dark hole…

For the past two months, I’ve been pretty much confined to home. I’ve been very ill, both mentally and physically, and while I have a fabulous doctor looking after me, it’s been ridiculously hard. Not least because I’m a bad patient. If I’m not able to do something with my days, I get frustrated, which leads down the path to… well, bad thoughts. Spiralling down is an apt metaphor, but not fun to live.

So anyway. Today is the first day I’ve been back in my little office for quite a while, and I’m doing my best to do that something. Catching up with emails and marking; the phone is already going with meetings to sort out treatments and work. But my head is still fuzzy, so I’m having to remind myself to take things gently.

One thing which has struck me over and over throughout this is how much we drive ourselves in the world today. This is an old song and I won’t sing it again now, but I’m sure you understand.We don’t have time to be ill, what about deadlines, people to see, things to do… argh!

A huge aspect of my healing has been the voices of friends, reassuring me that it was actually OK to be out of action.They were still there, I could do this, everyone had faith and things would soon be well again. Thank the gods for social media again – all I had to do some days was to reach out a hand and have it grasped firmly across the virtual ether.

It’s hard to defend against such a barrage of loving optimism – and I quickly learned not to try! Seeing the torrent of kindness reaching from around the world touched me deeply, and tears flowed more than once.

I’ve written in the past of community, and this is the best aspect of that, I think. Sure, there’ve been some who sent brickbats – I’m lazy, making excuses, can’t be bothered, etc etc – but those who really saw the battle I’ve been fighting have really stepped up in arms alongside. (I love that image.)

This is the community that I’m proud to be a part of. I’ve met almost all of them through my work as a Public Druid (TM, heheh), and when I remember back years ago to that similarly awful time of unemployment, the prospect of even advertising as a ‘Druid Priest’, how ridiculous that sounded… But I did it. I moved off the map, the 9-5, pension and sick pay, lunch hours and annual leave. Beyond the border of ‘normal’ life, here there be dragons! And it has brought me so much joy. Difficulties, sure, but life is a very different place now because I stuck to those choices, followed the signs and trusted. I wouldn’t be part of this community otherwise.

Being Pagan, of course, teaches you to look for the reasoning behind things, the lessons that we can learn through the downs as as well as the ups. And so my sick time has taught me a few things. A big one is that mental illness hurts easily as much as physical. But sometimes stepping into those waves of madness (especially when you seem to have no choice), standing up and raising hands to others, having faith and just riding things can take you to marvellous, unexpected and wonderful places.

I have to trust that this time has held its own lessons – I’m too close to tell just yet. At its worst, I feared letting others down by my inactivity; but those others stepped up gladly to help me. Love and trust, those tenets of humanity as well as Paganism, genuine compassion, empathy and understanding. Friendship and community, worth more than any gem.

I’m still here.



  1. So glad to hear you’re healing. You’re right that we drive ourselves too hard; I have ME because of it. I know one of those emails is mine, so please be reassured that no matter how long it takes you to respond, I will not be offended. I’d rather we all took the time we need to be well.

  2. ❤ all the hugs.

  3. This is an absolutely inspirational post. Your honesty is breathtaking. Thank you for sharing

  4. I’m slowly emerging from a similar place.
    One of the first things that made me actually smile in a while was this: – a little treat for when payday comes around, I think. My altar gets more eclectic all the time, but more genuine for that, and my Lady understands I’m sure.

  5. Keechy said

    People who bag social media haven’t been in the place of chronic illness, a place that can be so very isolating. I was supported more by my fellow sufferers than I was by friend in the long dark time of lyme disease. Now I am out the other side and still being there online for my fellows who have yet to make it. I have lots of friends in the ‘real world’ again now, but I well know how fast most would disappear if i got sicker again. Social media is a lifeline for many.

    • Fleur said

      I had the same experience – I nearly died and was in the hospital for a week – but I was never alone because I always had my iPhone or iPad with me …

  6. Fleur said

    I just finished reading this article in Pagan Dawn and it really speaks to me … I’ve had emergency surgery once, semi-emergency surgery once, and then an exploratory surgery next week – all in the past four months. Since I live in the US this has all generated thousands of dollars in bills in addition to the physical stress. I’m also bipolar and have PTSD so when you were talking about hibernating and feeling like you were letting people down … I had to ask people for everything (including scooping my cat boxes) – and then apologize for being rude because my meds weren’t working properly …

    Herne is my patron so I know my life will always be chaotic and I don’t doubt my faith but if things would stop for just a little bit that would be great …

    Thank you for the excellent piece – it was really what I needed to read …

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