Stress would appear to be one of the most important factors to consider when helping a person who has LLI. For all of our time together, this has been an obvious fact. But recent discussions have uncovered the fact that consistency is the key to avoiding this stress. We have a set routine, worked out over a long period of time and clearly beneficial for avoiding stress and excess thought requirements – a good routine makes it unnecessary to have to wonder what’s going to happen in the day. But over the last year my worsening pain in my knee has led us to the fact that Blip also requires my mood to stay constant. This sounds obvious, nobody likes it when someone is up and down all the time. But in this case it isn’t the normal situation where a person gets in a mood and then feels better again, leaving the other person walking on eggshells. I don’t have to shout and scream or be overly perky to create a problem. Because of the same need for routine, it is important that my mood remains completely stable so that Blip knows what to expect from me, as well as from the day. If I grow sad at my knee, even if for a moment, I create a sense of instability and this is stressful for a person who has enough to think about already. But the same is true if I’m having a bad time, and I attempt to be happy for a short time, knowing that I’m going to just be miserable again. The biggest factor here is not whether I’m sad or happy, but rather that I don’t flicker between the two. In reality, this is a problem a large number of people deal with. Like most problems relating to LLI, it’s simply something that Blip is more aware of and more able to define than a lot of people would be.
So over the summer, I have taken this on as something of a challenge. Consistency and calmness, no matter what the situation. Originally I was under the impression that having ‘a temper’ was something that was inherent to a person’s personality and completely unable to change. But the experiment has been a success, and without the stress of having to worry about whether I’m going to be able to deal with the pain in a day or not, Blip has a much better time with his head. Simply the act of being consistent with my mood has led to it being one less thing to be concerned about and merely one of the background thoughts, rather than taking up space in the ‘inpile’ in his mind.
And this as an experiment has led to the most important of my realisations about LLI. I think there was always part of me that saw it as a problem, something that, rather selfishly, I had to deal with in my everyday life. But simply considering it more from Blip’s point of view, and no longer viewing it as a negative, and not only can I be more helpful but it can have a positive effect on my own life. After years of being far too quick to being angry, and wallowing in my own pain, I can finally call myself a calm person. And the pain in my knee is something that I deal with rather than feeling sorry for myself about. It’s all a matter of empathy. If the people who surround someone with LLI aren’t dealing with their problems properly, at some point they need to consider that those problems they can’t cope with are adding themselves wholesale to the difficulty that a person with LLI already has with the world.
And while we all might be able to at some point tune out, stop thinking about our issues and distract ourselves with something else, a moment away from thinking about things is the one thing that a person with LLI simply can’t do.