Last month was pretty hard for me, I lost my grandmother and I turned 40…yeah I did not appreciate that!
I got a little lost in everything, grief kind of took over and I stopped doing a lot of the things that I love. I stopped practising yoga, I stopped eating three meals a day, I stopped looking after myself and I was miserable! I was feeling overwhelmed with grief and I kind of shut down because I couldn’t process everything that happened in such a short space of time.
I was starting to think that would never clear away and that I would be stuck with my depression at a new higher level. I was considering going back to my doctor to get my antidepressants raised, but I am very disillusioned with doctors right now. I have been depressed since I was 14years old, and I have had fibromyalgia and ME since I was in my early twenties and nothing has changed doctors still just throw tablets at me instead of trying to find out why I hurt and how to treat that…but I digress!
So I was thinking of making an appointment and then April came along…
This month felt different, I started reading again, and I got hold of a copy of Medical Medium, I also finished the Heal Chronic Fatigue course I have been doing since January 1st and you can see my videos about that here. The course really started my interest in alternatives to western medicine and I am enjoying the journey that I have started on. I honestly think looking into nutrition and natural remedies might be the way forward to getting some relief.
So now my depression flare has lifted I feel like I can get back to things again, updating this blog weekly, and my You Tube channel twice a week. I did yoga this morning and managed to dust the living room, and though I am sore and tired I feel accomplished. It feels good to do the things that make me happy again and though I know this new way of looking at my illnesses will take time and research and I need to be patient with myself, but I am excited!
So let me know in the comments any tips and tricks or books I should read? I am going to be documenting this journey as I go both here and over on my You Tube so make sure you are subscribed to both so you don’t miss out when I update.
So if you have been following my blog and you tube channel you will know I am currently doing HEAL CHRONIC FATIGUE COURSE and though it is set up as a six week course I have taken a little longer over the middle weeks. This is because it deals with nutrition and how we often think we are being healthy when we actually are being lied to by companies who use far too much sugar and salt and far too many chemicals!
I have been trying to find a healthy diet to follow for years now, but getting reliable information is so difficult! Just a simple google search will show you just how much emphasis there is on low fat and being thin rather than being healthy!! I have tried so many times but now I am even more determined because after reading what Zoe, who runs the course, says I want to be feeling as well and able to do things as possible.
Since starting the course, I have found myself able to do gentle yin yoga, a little light housework and shower every day which was impossible before! I am working hard to make sure I am getting enough sunshine, breathing fresh air, not relying on electric lamps too much and taking time off the ipad/phone and I am feeling better for it.
Nutrition is the last part of the puzzle, but where do I start??? Budget is a big factor, so I want to start making my own cereal bars and snacks, baking, and making our own bread…but so much is still confusing and hard to navigate. I am working my way through the food I already have in my home as I hate food waste, but as I run out I am making it a mission to replace each thing with a healthy alternative.
This is the only way I have found to navigate this HUGE minefield and to try and actually get good food that is not full of chemicals and sugar! I feel like as a whole diet is hard to understand for me, brain fog makes it hard to understand and I have memory problems that mean it is hard to remember a lot of information.
So one at a time I am going to replace the rubbish with food that has totally readable ingredients or that I have made myself, it is a scary and slightly daunting task but I want to do it. I want to reduce my symptoms as much as possible so I can be the best person I can, so I can keep up with housework and be a partner to my husband instead of someone who depends on him.
What are you doing to eat healthier? Do you bake and cook everything from scratch? Is there a specific diet that you follow? Let me know down below any help is most certainly appreciated!
So this week has been pretty interesting and a little bit of an experiment that I am actually pretty excited about!
So on Wednesday I got to see a headache clinic for a chat and to find out if there was anything could be done for my daily headaches, and weekly migraines. He was the first specialist I have seen for a while who did not make assumptions because I had chronic illnesses but just wanted to help my pain. He listened to everything I said and seemed pretty shocked when I said I had been suffering since I was at university!
I have never been offered any specific medications or other options to treat them so we had a good chat and decided that some nerve blocks might help as well as a couple of medications to take if a migraine hit me.
A nerve block is when local anaesthetic is applied to a group of nerves to block pain, most people have heard of an epidural during labour and it is a type of this. I was nervous, but my best friend has this treatment for her Fibromyalgia pain in her upper back so I knew it could give excellent results.
I thought he would refer me to someone to do this treatment as we were in a doctors office, but he did it there and then! It was strange having injections into my head, I had one at the base of my skull on the right side and one above my left eye in my scalp, and I could hear the needle against my skull which was so weird! He also injected some steroids into my left jaw joint right by my ear which he said was swollen and not opening properly which explains a lot! I felt a bit bewildered as I left, a bit shaky, but overall and most importantly very thankful! I could not stop thanking him for listening and for helping me which seemed to puzzle the doctor but he understood I hope.
The next few days were hard, the pain from the injections was quite bad and I spent the next couple of days in bed resting and feeling quite fragile! Getting comfortable on my pillow was not easy and even now on day 5 I feel like if I move my head too fast it will be painful, I guess because the headache is still there but the signal cannot get through? Still it is so nice to not have a headache and to feel like my head is clearer so I can think a bit better.
I am going to be seeing a Rheumatologist soon so I am going to suggest it maybe for my neck and upper back pain and if it could be done together I might find myself pain free for a few weeks at a time? I know it is wise to be careful and not get my hopes up, but when you have been in pain for so long with nobody really listening it can be nice to have a little glimpse at something that could help!
Have any of you tried this pain therapy? Has it helped and would you recommend it? Let me know in the comments because this is something I am quietly excited about!
So it is getting closer to Christmas, with plans for visiting relatives and going out for dinner on the day as well as visiting my elderly Nan are all hovering over me. Of course, my body has chosen right now to get a cold and to hit me hard with fatigue that leaves me laying on the sofa unable to think straight no matter get dinner going!
My wonderful husband has epilepsy and his medications make him drowsy and tired, yet he comes home from work and makes dinner, helps me undress and get into bed and listens to me natter on and on about TV shows and Instagram and whatever else is in my head!
The problem is that I am constantly hit with guilt, I am forever saying sorry to him and that drives him insane! But I do feel so guilty, about him having to cook after being at work all day and I just hate that I feel like a useless blob on the sofa!
So much of our self-worth in society is tied up in what we do for a living, where we live, how we look and if you are unable to keep up, judgement comes from inside as well as from society at large. I find even my mother, who has Multiple Sclerosis, give me looks and makes comments when I ask Lee to pass me something or to help me. So when it even comes from those we think should understand how are we as chronic illness sufferers meant to keep our heads up and not drown in guilt?
I know many of you will understand what I am saying and will probably agree with a lot of points I have said, but my question is if we cannot do the housework and we need to put on family and friends how do we push passed this guilt that comes with fatigue? How do I as a woman who prides herself on having a clean and tidy house, deal with being unable to keep up with keeping everywhere clean? How do I pass jobs on to my husband when he is already tired from work and not feel like the most awful failing housewife?
Usually, I like to give tips and ideas but this time it is me asking for them: How do you keep your self worth going when you are unable to work or keep up with housework? How do you push passed the guilt that comes with times of extreme fatigue? Answers in the comments please? I will hopefully do a follow up to this post soon with some conclusions and helpful ideas to help my fellow Spoonies keep their self worth high!
So a couple of posts ago HERE, I talked about how I felt the NHS had let me down because since my diagnosis was changed from Multiple Sclerosis to Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I have had hardly any medical intervention since then and have felt like nobody cared, this started me feeling depressed and lost and honestly I had stopped going to see my GP because I never got answers I wanted and I just put up with worsening symptoms.
So after thinking about it for a little bit, I sent an email to my doctor’s surgery with an explanation and a link to that post. I wanted to see if it would make a difference and I wanted to make sure that this kind of thing did not happen to anyone else. I suspected that I simply fell through the cracks of an already overstretched and underfunded NHS, but I am still a human and it was about time I needed to be my own advocate.
I heard back early the next day from the surgery manager who said they were very sorry about how I felt and the doctor wanted to see me. I got a phone call later that day and I have an appointment to discuss my concerns and hopefully get some of my symptoms treated and referred to the right people.
This really did reinforce for me that I am my own advocate, and though I know the NHS is given a raw deal by the government, and though I used to be on the other side, I deserve to be treated better. I read a lot of blogs run by other chronic illness warriors and I follow them on You Tube and I see the sort of treatments that they recieve and I have been given none of those options. So this week I am going to be researching and printing things off and taking it all to the doctors because I need more than I am getting.
So this was a big lesson to myself, but also I hope that it inspires all of you that if you are not feeling supported or well treated by your medical team speak up! I am going to be taking my husband with me to back me up and I am going to make sure together we are heard…nobody can speak up for you unless you try to speak up for yourself.
So if there is any research or treatments you think I need to look into leave me links in the comments and I will get researching!
Yeah my body right now is painful, my joints hurt, my head aches and I am struggling to get enough energy to keep up with the housework and overall this is what we call a flare! Everyone with chronic illness knows what I mean by a flare, it is when your symptoms get worse and new symptoms even sometimes come to join the party!
When this happens it can be very easy to feel like a useless, painful lump on the sofa and wonder why your loved ones put up with you. I often feel guilty that my wonderful husband has to help me and I can fall into depression which as a chronic sufferer usually gets worse too. However, by using logic and finding ways to make life fun, you can get through to the other side without spending every day crying and feeling like the world would work better without you!
- TV shows – I am a Netflix user and right now I am using my flare and bad fatigue as a very good excuse to marathon all those TV shows in my watch list. Right now we are on season 2 of Stranger Things which is absolutely amazing and we are very much enjoying The Crown! Spending time cuddled up with a loved one or an equally cool friend watching awesome TV really distracts you from the negative thoughts that can start crowding in.
- Logic – I find a great way to fight my depression is to use logic, so when the depression tells me I am useless I think about what a good friend I am and how when I am well enough I do housework. If it tells me my husband would be better off without me, I look at him and see how happy he is with me and how silly he is and it pushes it away. Using logic to counter every negative thought works really well and was something an old therapist told me to do.
- Plan your week – Being organised comes naturally to me and is something I have always done, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. One thing I suggest is planning your week, split your jobs or chores up into smaller jobs you can manage and do them spread out over the week. Yes this can be frustrating, but it is better to do a little every day than to try and tackle big jobs that either do not get done or defeat you and leave you feeling worse.
- Put things away – One thing that comes with high fatigue is the very real problem of using things and not having the energy to put them away. It can leave your home feeling crowded, untidy and overwhelming, it takes a lot less energy to put one thing away than fifty, so next time you need to get up to go to the toilet or something like that, just put things away and tidy up. Keeping my home looking tidy helps me feel better especially if friends or family turn up!
- Be kind to yourself – This is a hard one, but imagine you are talking to your best friend and she said that she felt really sick all week and hadn’t been able to do housework and she felt really guilty about it…now imagine what you would say to her…treat yourself like your best friend. Be compassionate and loving and caring to yourself and always have a treat in the cupboard for emergencies!
- You can cry if you want to – No matter if you do all these things there will always be days when nothing helps, so shout at your illness not your loved ones and let those tears out. Crying is really healthy and not a sign of weakness at all like our society likes to make out. Do not be afraid to put some sad movies on and let it all out trust me the next day will feel better if you do not bottle everything up!
I hope if you are in a flare these help you like they have helped me and I hope things settle down very soon. Please leave me any coping solutions you use when your illnesses flare up down in the comments I would love to find some other ways to help.
First of all sorry I needed to take a little break but it has to be expected when you run a blog with chronic illnesses! Also I had my PIP assessment which is to see if I qualify for a benefit here in the UK and the stress and worry from that has not helped!
However, here I am half asleep and frankly p***ed off!!! My fatigue has flared and I honestly feel like I am trapped inside my body! I try to keep up with my housework and to do things that make me feel human, like shower and wash my face and get dressed, but it is a constant battle! I wake up every morning after sleeping like the dead feeling just as tired as the night before and yet I have things I need to do on that day!
I find myself feeling so guilty when my husband is at work and I am just lying about doing nothing but staring into space. I wonder if he would be happier without me and if I am just a useless lump. Then I have to try and shake off the depression and try not to do an impression of Eeyore so I can hopefully pull myself out of this slump and get things done.
I wish I could say this will be a useful and positive post but honestly I am just fed up! I have things I want to get done, like my yoga practice and bible study and a little housework just like I could before and yet I feel so tired and my body feels so heavy I can barely think straight no matter get jobs done!
So instead of giving out tips and tricks of how I deal with things I am reaching out to the chronic illness community and asking for tips? Do you suffer with fatigue and if you do how do you make sure that jobs and goals do not just pile up while you nap? Leave me some comments here or on social media links are around let me know please? I need something to help before I go mad!
This week I wanted to talk about fatigue and how hard it can be to just want to get out of a warm, comfortable bed when all you want to do is rest. When you wake every morning in pain, your joints stiff, your head aching and every limb hurting on top of extreme fatigue it is so hard to want to get up and get your jobs done.
I spoke on this weeks Chronic Illness Video (HERE) about how fatigue feels, it is not just being tired, or how you feel if you couldn’t get comfortable at night so check that out if you think it is! Fatigue is deep inside extreme tiredness that makes it impossible to want to do anything.
Now if you have been reading my blogs for a while, you will know that I am a very motivated person and if I set myself goals I will do anything to achieve them. The problem comes, when your body is heavy and tired and you cannot think straight enough that you are still a person who wants to do things and be a human! You have dreams and goals and when day after day you are not well enough to achieve them that can be incredibly demoralising and depressing.
It has taken me a long time to come to terms with this, I have been sick since 2002 and I have just started to be able to do it! But, being patient and not letting guilt take over can be the first steps in accepting what you can and cannot do and then coming to peace with your illness and your goals.
In Buddhism, acceptance and peace are the main goals and applying that to my illnesses has helped me to relax that inner need to do the housework every day and do a yoga routine every day and take the dog out and cook healthy dinners and…..There will always be ‘ands’ but take a breath and remember that being the perfect person is not something we can ever achieve.
I am reading a book called ‘How to live well with chronic pain and illness: A mindful guide’ by Toni Bernhard and to quote her:
“The unrealistically high standard at work here is that we don’t think we should be chronically ill. Even though 130 million people suffer from chronic illness in the United States alone, we live in a culture that repeatedly suggests that, with proper diet and lifestyle changes, no one need be sick and no one need be in pain. When we’re not living up to what we perceive to be that cultural standard, we feel embarrassed.”
For me that really hit the nail on the head, it is society constantly telling us that we should be perfect, loved, and happy if we just eat the right foods, do the right exercise, everything will be sunshine and roses! But when famous people, who the press tell us are perfect and to be like them, are committing suicide, taking drugs and turning to alcohol to cope…can we really expect our lives to be perfect?
I think what I am trying to say is, do not let society make you feel less because you couldn’t do that load of washing, or you were in too much pain to walk the dog! Be prepared to have days, sometimes weeks even months, when all you can do is rest and do not feel less because you need to just sit.
My best advice is to use a slow cooker and have meals prepared in the freezer, have family help you to do things and do not let anyone ever make you feel less because I know you are fighting every day just to want to get out of bed and some days that is enough!