I blithely announced at the end of my last post that the next would be about creativity and fear and how to have fun when you are unwell. Then I had a think about this. Creativity and fear is an essay in itself, so I’m going to focus on fun today.
As I thought about how to have fun when one is chronically unwell, the question arose – what is fun? We each have our own ideas about what we consider to be fun. There is some contention about whether fun should involve being interactive, for example, playing a game, rather than being passively entertained, for example, watching a film. The general idea seems to be that having fun is doing, or being involved in something pleasurable.
Now, because I wasn’t quite sure if I’d got my definition of fun right, I typed “what is fun” into a well-known search engine. Second down in the results was Brian Will’s blog post, which seeks to answer the question. I found it a good read. Take a look about half-way down the post, at his list of “anti-fun qualities”:
- pressure of consequence
Brian isn’t even talking about chronic illness but I let out a “Ha!” of recognition on reading this concise summary of my experience of living with ME/CFS. I suspect it will resonate with others too. Now, if this is “anti-fun”, I don’t think we even need to bother asking the question, “Why do we need to have fun?”
We do need to have fun, even if we are unwell. However, it may be necessary to find different sources of fun from those we used to enjoy pre-illness, especially for those who enjoyed particularly physically active pursuits. I can’t say that I ever did, which has probably made the adjustment easier for me than it has been for more sporty individuals. Nevertheless, I’ve had to give up various activities due to illness, including playing the violin, learning Tae Kwon-Do and the most difficult one to swallow, socialising with friends. If I had anything to add to the “anti-fun” list, it would be isolation.
So how do I get my fix of fun these days? Well, firstly, I wouldn’t say I’m having oodles of fun. It’s more a case of getting a small dose where I can. I’ve learned to find the fun in little things. I’m not ashamed to admit that my main regular source of fun is The Archers omnibus tweet-along (Sunday mornings on BBC Radio 4 and Twitter, #thearchers, be there or be…doing something else), although I’m more than aware that this isn’t for everyone! I rely on social media in a way that I never did pre-illness, chatting with friends online as I find it easier than holding the phone for long periods. I make funny doodles with my daughter and we make each other laugh. Today we had fun making fortune-tellers (remember those? The folded paper things you used to make at primary school, which said things like “you smell” or, if you were lucky, “you are going to marry Luke Goss” inside?) Ours had forfeits in. I had to have a lie-down after pretending to be a baboon. See, even fun has to be paced.
Let me know how you manage to have fun and how your version of fun has changed since you became unwell. Comments are very welcome and I will reply.
Coming next, can being chronically ill make you selfish? No, it’s not all ha-ha-hee-hee on Spooncast, you know.