Wendy Woolfson

Work and Rest

I miss work. I’ve been working since I was seventeen and to suddenly not to be working for the last eight months is really quite a shock. Of course, I’ve had plenty to keep me occupied, like doing my best to do everything I can to stay alive using a variety of methods, but in the end, I’m still doing a lot less than I’m used to when delivering a busy service in social care. I like responsibility, and I like to feel useful, so what do I do?

I’ve written a book, which was a big surprise to me https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thiswillhelpyou/journaling-a-journey?ref=creator-nav

and I’m working on a second one and a book of poetry. I find that exhausting enough and it comes in fits and starts but I miss work.

I miss speaking to and supporting families, and the children and young people. I’m worried about becoming out of touch and de-skilling. I don’t have the energy to keep up to date with shifts and changes in policies, it’s exhausting. I find reading very tiring due to an eye injury because of the tumour that has impaired my vision. It’s touching a nerve at the back of my eye and has given me double vision along with a lot of pain, so this makes reading and writing really challenging. Putting the book together was slow, hard work.

I’m staying as active as I can with the limited energy I have, which means some weeks I find I can go out for a walk with our dogs and other weeks I’m confined to bed. It’s a lottery really as to whether I can do anything from one day to the next, and yet, I remain optimistic and I’m sure my health is travelling in the right direction towards healing, although I can’t be sure of that until my next scan in a couple of months. Oh, the waiting and the patience that’s required for this illness! I keep explaining to my youngest son that it’s normal for cancer to be a slow healer, and yes, I do expect this Christmas to be much better than the last one and yes, I’ll be all better by then. But will I, or will I be gone?

My job requires so much brain power that I no longer have, although I’m grateful to have retained my creative abilities and can still write and make art. Yesterday was a good day and I was up all day editing my book and making junk journals with a nice wee walk for the dogs in among the wild garlic on the country estate. Today, it’s 11am, and I’m still in bed and I’m not sure I’ll get out today but we’ll see.

I often wonder how my team are doing and I miss supporting them and hearing about their lives. I miss being part of important discussions around child protection and suicide prevention and how best we can progress supporting the families in need who are struggling to get the support they so desperately deserve. The children deserve an education and when they struggle to attend school, it’s not because they don’t want to learn but because there are so many barriers to accessing learning due to anxieties and additional needs, and often the lack of funding given to schools to support these children. I can empathise with the schools, many of the young people need one to one support and that requires a lot of staffing. We need more money for staff in schools.

However, I’m not at work, and I guess I should be resting that part of my brain and letting it all go, and instead focus on my own wellbeing to recover from this cancer and then take it from there. I often wonder what kind of a person I will be if and when I come out the other side of this, and will I go back to my old role or do something new? Is the cancer reinventing me? I miss my volunteer role too with Children’s Hearings as a panel member, a place where I can make a real difference, and again meet with young people and their families to explore how best to support them.

I love my creative side though, and if I’m honest, I know it’s a privilege to have all this time gifted to me to just simply write and create. If only it weren’t under these circumstances. There are highs and there are real lows, and finding a balance can be really hard at times. I struggle to sleep a lot of the time and find myself awake at 2am sometimes writing, other times just scrolling trying to zone out and sleep, trying to avoid the dark thoughts in my head around being no contact with my parents throughout all this.

Still, I find solace in reading poetry and writing and I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other until I find some solid ground.