Yesterday I went walking with my friend G. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed a lovely couple of hours walking through bush with views over the sea. At the conclusion of our walk we went to a cafe for lunch and shared a slightly geographically confused but very tasty paella and pizza.
Like me, G lives alone and also has RA. We both acknowledge the need for regular exercise so we make an effort to get together and walk somewhere every few weeks, because walking is a good way to catch up without dealing with noisy cafes or bars.
I know these catch ups are important to him. He’s told me how he makes a real effort to plan his weekends to ensure he has social contact and doesn’t just sit around his flat feeling sorry for himself. I suspect he has a much greater need for social engagement than do I, do I think it’s very self aware of him to be so proactive about organising his time so he makes sure he gets the level of interaction he needs to keep well.
It occurred to me that this is the very issue I face, but I’m not as disciplined as he is. My issue is how to say no to engagements so I get the solitary time I need for good mental well-being.
People think it’s hard to reach out to others to ask for help, and it is. Asking for company can sometimes feel needy rather than an act of sharing. But it’s very difficult to refuse when someone offers to share their company with you. I feel rude and ungrateful and I suspect I always will. But I’m still going to say no.