Accepting the ‘New Normal’ and letting go of your old life is easy in theory but so difficult in practise. Right? Any adjustment to change can be challenging. Whether it’s planned or unplanned, gradual or sudden – it seems to throw us. Where some people thrive on change and being out of their comfort zone gives them a feeling of exhilaration, others find any change daunting and anxiety provoking. However you respond to change, this transition is inevitable. It’s human nature and it can elicit an ‘out of control’ response. The difference is how we choose to deal with it – whether we accept it or resist it.

Personally, the emergence into this ‘new covid normal’ for me is eerily similar to my adjustment from my pre-stroke life to my new disabled realm. I longed to be the ‘old Em’ for years. To me, life as a full time Occupational Therapist & avid runner was normal. Entering my new realm as a stroke survivor was so different. I couldn’t do what I once could do prior to my stroke. What’s more, those around me also perceived the ‘old Em’ as the normal. We all clung onto me returning to the active, healthy & ‘normal’ Em.

Over time, it became evident that ‘she’ was not returning. In fact, in clinging onto the past Em, none of us could move forward. Attempting to rebuild our old lives just caused immense frustration.

I write in my book,

“…The truth was I was totally unprepared for the emotional impact my stroke would have on my life. Although I still had my marbles, the endless physical disabilities that emerged, and the frustration of not being able to communicate meant that these marbles only smashed around uselessly inside my damaged head. I clung onto the idea of returning to my old life. But as time went by, the realisation sunk in that my past identity had vanished when I’d had my stroke. Everything I once was good at was now gone. I’m useless! “

Right now, we are all very eager to return to ‘how things were’ and regain some normalcy. Whilst this is exciting I think it’s also a really scary time for many. We have hope that things will become more normal but also have glimpses of what that now looks like. Wearing masks, refraining from hugging a loved one or avoiding big groups is certainly not what we’re used to. It is not normal’. I struggled adapting to my new ‘normal’ when life was so different. I clung to the ‘old Em’, I resisted doing things that were different to how I’d done them. But learnt that this only led to frustration, more fear, and hesitation about embarking on my new path.

“…I realised the only way out was to rebuild my confidence and somehow find a new identity. I had a choice. I could sit and sulk or do what I was there to do – get rehabilitated. I had to choose to be proactive in my recovery rather than reactive. I had to change my attitude.

Perhaps, one day we will be mask-free and the 1.5 metre distance restriction will not apply. But until then, I guess we all have a choice on how we let these parameters impact us. We can resist them or accept them.

Let’s try and accept what we can’t change, but change what we can!