When I first got the news that I’d be stuck at home for at least the next 9 months, I was devastated on a number of levels. First and foremost because it meant I couldn’t return to the job I loved. I also couldn’t imagine being unable to go to the grocery store for that long! Or a restaurant to meet up with friends! How could I stay at home for 9 months without going completely insane?
Well it’s been an experience, I can tell you that! But I have come up with a number of ways to entertain myself. For a few months towards the beginning I was mostly bedridden. Laying in bed with the lights out all day—I was way too weak to do anything. Sitting up was too much effort for me, so during those months I stayed in bed, sometimes watching shows on Netflix or Hulu, but often just closing my eyes and listening to audiobooks. Audiobooks are a truly wonderful invention because they allow you to lay in darkness yet have a vivid picture painted in front of you. I could escape from my life for a while. That, and the fact that I was so weak and exhausted, made the time pass rather quickly.
Then came when I was too weak to do anything, but too awake to be okay with laying in bed all day. Those times were oddly harder than when I was worse off, because I was completely aware of how bored I was. I took this time to learn about Essential Oils. My massage therapist had mentioned how much they could help me, so I decided to sign up with Young Living Essential Oils and see for myself. Wow. I noticed quite a difference! I began researching different oils, and I loved diffusing them next to my bed. There were oils that would help with energy, pain, and my mood. I am very sensitive to heat and found that putting peppermint on the back of my neck cooled me down quite nicely, and it became a staple in my house. I keep peppermint next to my bed. In my living room. And in my purse! I also found that Frankincense essential oil would drastically reduce or outright get rid of a headache.
When I was able to, I’d wander on out to the couch and watch TV for hours. I also learned about coloring apps for my iPad. Although my arms were too weak to actually color, I could just click a color on the screen and tap where I wanted it to go. It sounds like it wouldn’t be that fun, but it was oddly rewarding. And something I could do with relatively low energy.
When my arms were strong enough to hold a controller, I’d play video games. My boyfriend had the game Grand Theft Auto, and I ended up really enjoying it. A friend of mine would come over and we’d lay on the couch, engrossed in it for hours. There was something therapeutic about playing an able-bodied person. There was a lot to the game that we just skipped over. I mostly liked to run my character guy on the beach, and steal airplanes to fly around. Also, some days it felt really good to punch someone for no reason. Just saying. So for others who feel the same, this game might just be the one for you!
I also played the game SIMS a lot. SIMS is probably the best way to lose yourself for hours on end. You get to create families and help them live their lives. The adults get jobs and the kids go to school. There are so many different aspects to the game, like making your SIM fall in love, training your dog, growing a garden, getting your SIM a promotion at work, earning enough money to buy nice furniture. It’s hands down the best thing to do if you’ve got loads of time to kill and you’re physically able to play a computer game. If you haven’t experienced this game, I strongly urge you to try it out!
After a few months of being really weak, things started to shift. I became stronger and more clear-headed. I had a desire to go places, but I couldn’t due to the possible mold exposure. I felt trapped at home all day. That’s when a friend of the family suggested I get into sewing. She had given me an apron a few years earlier, and said she was going to get me materials so I could learn to make my own aprons. And she did. I decided that I would make aprons as well as some other items for a craft fair put on by my neighborhood back home at my parents’ house. It gave me a purpose. Each day when I felt well enough, I’d sit for hours at my sewing table and produce these beautiful aprons that I was going to sell in a few months.
That craft fair finally came and I sold my stuff at a booth outside. It was absolutely wonderful. I felt normal. Empowered. Like I had actually done something with my life. I have now moved on to crocheting as well as sewing, and I’ve started an Etsy shop so I can continue to give myself something to do and work towards.
You can view my Etsy shop here
Something else that I fill my time with is the Duolingo app. It’s a language learning application for your Smartphone, and it allows you to learn a language at an easygoing pace. It’s meant to be used for a few minutes each day, which is exactly the amount of time I am willing to give it. So for the past few months I’ve been learning Spanish, and it’s another great way to hold myself accountable. Obviously for those who are too mentally fatigued or have brain fog, this would not be the app for you. But for me, it’s been really fun.
Once my strength had come back and I was consistently having more good days, I decided to take a one-credit online college course. I mostly wanted to have something to do, but I also wanted something for my resume. To show that I wasn’t just wasting a year of my life. I took a college course done entirely in American Sign Language, which was fantastic because it had been months since I had signed or seen anyone signing. Being only one credit, it had very little homework, and was just a great experience all around.
One more option for those looking to fill up their time is User Testing. I recently signed up with UserTesting.com to be a website tester, and it’s an interesting way to make money from home. Basically you get told to look at specific websites and do certain tasks, all while your computer screen is being recorded, as well as your voice. You give verbal feedback on what the website is like, which helps the people who run the site to know what is and isn’t working. Each session takes about 10-20 minutes and at the end you get $10 deposited into your PayPal account. Again, this wouldn’t be something for those with brain fog, but for those like me who are ready to be out in life but can’t because of mold, this job could be for you!
For those who prefer audio over text, I’ve recorded myself reading the blog here:
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