In the two years since I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue I have attended six conferences, most of which were in London. Some I have come away from proud of myself for doing it, some having found some incredible support, and some crying my eyes out, completely overwhelmed and wondering why I bothered.
|All ready to go|
If you suffer with chronic illness you may be feeling similar to myself, but I'm here to tell you that I have done it and you can too. Here are a few of my suggestions for making your time away manageable and dare I say, enjoyable too!
1. Prepare yourself. There's no beating about the bush - you are about to embark on a long journey, then be surrounded by hundreds of voices and a hum of activity solidly for two days. My advice is to rest as much as possible in the run up to the event and try and mentally prepare yourself for it. For anyone who isn't ill, walking into that first room can be daunting enough, if you are more susceptible to sensory overload it can be near impossible. But you can do it - walk in, grab your badge and then get yourself a drink, sit down and take it all in. You don't have to be in the centre of it all to enjoy it and often it's a good idea to assess your surroundings before you jump right in.
2. Prepare others. People who don't have chronic illness can never understand, no matter how much they try. They simply don't know how it feels to be completely exhausted after being on your feet for more than ten minutes. So tell them. Let them know your limits, that you will need to rest often and will not be able to go far outside of the event either. That way when it all gets too much they are there, they understand, and are happy to walk away with you.
4. Rest. For those of us who suffer this may seem obvious - rest should be part of our daily routines anyway. But when you're at an event like this and chatting away, times flies and before you know it it's the end of the day and you're ready to collapse. Last year at Britmums they had a great outdoor space where people can just go and take a few minutes. But if you can't see anywhere ask the organisers and explain why, most events I've been to are extremely accommodating and happy to help. My big problem is what they call "FOMO" or Fear Of Missing Out. I hate to leave and rest as I feel like I will miss something. Of course this doesn't do me any favours!
|Taking a break last year|
I hope this has given you a bit of help if you are planning your trip and feeling slightly anxious. And if you do see me in a corner having a moment, please come and join me!