The Building Blocks of Becoming a Busy Bee
“Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.” — Lawrence Block
When the world was thrown into lockdown at the dawn of COVID-19, I was already an old hand at functioning in isolation. In 2019, the disease-modifying therapy I was taking to treat multiple sclerosis, Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), left me immunocompromised a year before COVID-19 crashed into our lives. So I stayed at home while my immune system recovered.
The funny thing is, I had just reached a place where I was well enough to interview for jobs when the pandemic hit. Since I was classified as “vulnerable,” I was once again thrown into isolation.
For those who didn’t have a job, like me, the lockdown was pretty boring. The days bled into each other, and time became fluid. I found things to keep me occupied — writing, cultivating plants, and knitting, to name a few. But it was more about passing the time and padding out the days before I could finally leave the house again and dive back into life.
The bizarre silver lining of this situation is that it pushed me to begin my master’s degree in neuroscience. I wanted to do something worthwhile with my time. So in January 2021, I embarked on the first building block of the busy bee life that I’m living today.
It was both exciting and slightly overwhelming. I had to learn how to study again. My MS fatigue never ceased to remind me that all the tips and tricks in my arsenal from my undergraduate degree were now redundant. I must now study in different ways, and it took time to find what works for me.
Whereas I hadn’t thought twice about studying six hours straight in the library before, now fatigue dictates it has to happen in shorter blocks of time. Or, instead of the pages and pages of handwritten notes I used to scribe, now my numbness limits my writing, and I find audio is my friend.
As my routine with my degree became more comfortable, I had room for other things. Lockdown was beginning to ease and we were finally allowed to see family and friends once more. There was space in my mind again. The brakes that COVID-19 had pumped on life were wearing down.
In April 2021, my husband and I found ourselves in a position to buy a house. There’s a reason people say that buying a house is one of the top three most stressful things in life. With jumping through legal hoops, maintaining my studies, and seeing family and friends, life seemed to be getting busy again. In addition, we were embarking on our fertility journey.
Like the shimmering strands of a spider’s web, all aspects of my life became interlaced.
It took a bit of time to catch my breath. Everything that would’ve happened slowly was suddenly happening all in one go, at breakneck speed. I had to adjust again and relearn the art of prioritization. For the first time in two years, I had enough on my plate to need to prioritize.
Once I’d caught my breath, I recognized a feeling of serendipity. I’d been stagnant for so long because of my MS treatment, not to mention COVID-19 bulldozing my return to the land of the living. It felt unusual to be busy at first. It was almost like I’d forgotten what it was like to have a life.
I see in hindsight now that viewing each element of my life as an individual building block really did help me learn how to live at my newly busy pace, and not just exist as I did in isolation.
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