In a recent conversation on Twitter (late September) between myself, Harriet Thomas, Philippa Burrough and Arabella Sock, we discussed following other people who garden with chronic illness, in particular, ME. ME is Myalgic Encephalopathy, and depending on the person may also be called neuro-ME or CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), and several other names. Whatever you call it, it is a chronic illness that can go on for years, for some people a lifetime, and it effects every area of your life.
Although I blogged about ME In December 2013, that was a one-off post. But after the aforementioned Twitter discussion I started thinking about how many people with ME, and other chronic illnesses, garden, and find gardening either helpful or an important part of coping with ME. I gardened before I got ME and the idea of giving it up was impossible. Gardening, of both ornamental and vegetables, wasn’t just a hobby of a keen amateur, but an essential part of who I was. Since having ME, gardening hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been a joy, and on some occasions, gardening is one of the few things that helps me through the dark and painful days.
Prompted by the Twitter discussion and these thoughts, I’ve decided to start a new meme: Gardening with ME. These will be occasional posts focusing around the issue of trying to garden when you have a chronic illness. In part I am blogging for myself, to remind myself of both the problems and delights. But I am also blogging to share these experiences, in the hope that other people, whether gardeners or not, find them useful and/or informative. And I hope to find other gardeners who are gardening with ME, or another chronic illness, and who are willing to share their experiences.
My first post for this new meme follows. My idea is to keep the posts short, occasional (since ME doesn’t always allow you to keep appointments…) and reveal the challenges and successes that are involved when you garden with a chronic illness such as ME.
Twitter hashtag: #GardeningWithME
Now, for my first post… Gardening with ME: French Beans
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Want to take part? Please do! If you blog about gardening with ME/a chronic illness, link to this post in yours, and leave a comment below with a link to your post, so we can all find each other.
15 thoughts on “Gardening with ME: an introduction to a new meme”
Great idea . Have you come across Juliet from The Clockwork Dodo? She has ME, so only blogs sporadically about her garden and as a result often contributes photos to my blog to do with public planting (such as last Friday's post) instead. She also blogs about ME, so could be another person to include in your meme.
Hi Michelle, No I haven't. I just google Clockwork Dodo and came up with lots of odd things about mechanics & Orangutans! Could you give me the URL?
Here you are – http://theclockworkdodo.blogspot.co.uk/
NB she's in the process of starting a new gardening blog, but that one will give you all the info you need.
I've tended to keep quiet about why my career came to an abrupt halt and I ended up in the country making a garden: I was retired due to M.E. I have never wanted anyone defining my garden in terms of being made by someone – disabled?
But it did inform my working out easier ways of both creating a garden and maintaining it. My worse days seem to be over (though if you can get lots of rest it's hard to know how 'normal' life would affect you) but I so feel for anyone struggling with the worst, when you secretly hope a visitor will offer to make a cup of tea…..
I've never really thought about how people might define me. I guess maybe because I was blogging about gardening for a number of years before I started also blogging about gardening with ME. I see myself as a garden blogger who also happens to have ME, rather than the other way around.
I've found blogging to be quite a useful way of working through my thoughts on how I can continue to garden whilst having ME; often as I'm working through a blogpost, which I often draft over a period of a couple of weeks, that I find the answers I'm looking for. So in that respect it's also helped me find easier ways of developing and maintaining my garden.
Because I have moderate, rather than severe ME, I think that's stopped me from thinking that I'm disabled. Whilst I've had some bed-bound weeks, on the whole I can still do some stuff, just much much less than I once did, and at the moment paid-work is on hold. I'm trying to find out what my new 'normal' is and how I can improve on it.
My partner is wonderfully supportive and always knows when to offer me a cuppa 🙂
It's inspiring insight to know that you made Veddw with ME. Of course, I wouldn't define you in that context!