Here in England we are having a heatwave, social media is full of people spending time with friends, and almost every night I can hear the sounds of BBQs! Usually this is a time when people get together, and because of this I think my loneliness is making itself known.
As you all know, I am working on myself very hard at the moment, meditating like mad and I am currently reading the bhagavad gita. I am trying my hardest to grow and learn and to come to be content in the moment and with the life I have instead of wanting and yearning for what others have. To be honest, I am changing a lot and I can feel how meditation and mindfulness is really helping my depression and anxiety. I am really proud of myself, but I know I still have a lot to learn but regular readers will know I love to learn new things.
However, I am mainly housebound, and with the heat I cannot take the dog out because I keep having dizzy spells. Just a few days ago my husband took me out for a drive in the car and a short walk and that was the first time I had left the house in nine days! This realisation really showed me that I am so very isolated in a lot of ways by society and that really makes me sad.
Last week, on the blog, I talked about how we all need to be kinder to one another and look out for people around us who need us. I wanted to try and encourage everyone to make sure the neighbours and family members around us are OK, but that is lacking in my life. I see people around me who don’t live far having fun and I need to be honest and say it makes me feel really left out and alone.
I have the most wonderful husband who is home as much as he can be, but he is out of the house 12 hours a day to travel to his job and work an 8 hour shift. This means most of my time is spent alone just me and the dog, who strangely enough keeps me sane. Now I would love it if my husband could be home all the time, but right now that is not really an option. So most of my waking life is spent alone, and I am sure that I am not the only one in the chronic illness community.
Now while doing research on loneliness I found that The Red Cross is running a Get Help with Loneliness Campaign because they have seen how being alone too much can affect a person’s mental health. I checked but there is nothing available in my area, but maybe there is where you live? If you are able to you can also volunteer just a few hours a week to spend with people like me who face loneliness and isolation from society. Let me know below if it is something you would use or if you would like to volunteer with them all the information is on the page above.
Feeling guilt with summer fatigue is so hard, it seems to take all the motivation out of me! I am trying so hard to keep up with things but all I want to do is sleep and it is not good at all!
Here in the UK we are having something of a summer heatwave, and though I am sure a lot of people are really enjoying the sunshine and heat that we are having for a change it is very different for me. I have chronic illnesses that cause fatigue anyway, but when the sun comes out it can make my illnesses unstable and it very hard for me to keep up with the day to day tasks that I need to do.
Strong sunshine that pours through my kitchen is lovely, but if I am in there for longer than a few minutes I find myself fighting back a migraine. In fact, at the moment I have a halo of pain all around my head just threatening to hit me with a migraine at a minutes notice! I am having to use sunglasses just to get a glass of water at the moment and forget washing up where the sink overlooks the window!
Now I have been working hard recently on my mental health, on working with a therapist and with my faith to find ways of being kinder to myself. Things like mindfulness and chanting have made a huge difference to my negative thoughts and I am incredibly proud of myself. However, today I have basically slept most of it away and I feel like I have wasted a precious day I could have done some gentle yoga, maybe dusted the living room, but I have done nothing but watch Great British Bake Off like a Zombie!
Guilt is something everyone with chronic illnesses deal with, either it is pressure we put on ourselves or it is family or friends making comments. The pressure in society to be productive and to work, work, work is why most people now are coping with mental health issues I know this logically but when I am alone I still hear that voice in my head saying I should be doing more. I do hate it and I am trying so hard to be kind to myself and look after myself but I really need a little help!
I am determined to cope though because it looks like this hot weather is here to stay, and though I would love to stay inside like a hermit I have doctors and hospital appointments to get to. So I have been thinking about how best to stay cool and here are some of my ideas:
- Drink more water – might seem obvious but as it is hot I need to up my fluids intake and make sure I don’t get dehydrated
- Listen to my body – I need to slow down everything I do, I am not the fastest anyway, but I need to sit down more and make sure to listen when I need to rest
- Wear sunglasses – Yes even if I need them indoors it shouldn’t matter, I have to protect myself from migraines and keeping my eyes from being blasted by this bright sunshine is a great start
- Make sure to wear suncream if going outside – Many medications can make us more sensitive to the sun, but also I am mainly housebound so I need to remember I am not used to the sun and will burn easily
- Be patient – even people who are well are struggling in this heat so why do I think I won’t? I need to remember that and be patient with my body.
So wish me luck in working on the guilt that comes with not being able to help around the house, and if you have any tips and tricks for coping with this heat let me know down below?
Well we have had quite the eventful week and I really thought it would leave me with a lacking in spoons and increased pain and overall feeling dreadful…I am still waiting for the bump! I guess a change is as good as a rest?
Not that my fatigue and pain are not increased, of course they are I still have the same illnesses. However, it is my mood that is different and my outlook, I find myself quite happy to rest instead of feeling like a useless lump and to be honest it is so shocking to me I have to talk about it!
Earlier this week we had a decorator come for three days to wallpaper and pain our hallway, it is now pink with birds all over it and I love it! It has made the hallway so welcoming and warm and it is so cheerful I just love looking up to see it. I will be honest though, having someone in the house did make my anxiety really high, but I managed to make small talk and felt really proud of myself.
I took the week off the computer, I rested and I even went to a Hindu meditation class where they introduced us the the different forms of yoga and it was really inspiring. I loved hearing about the Bhagavad Gita and how to apply it to my life it really helped me to feel grounded with my spiritual journey.
I am enjoying the journey and I am trying so hard to use the things I am learning, like chanting, meditation etc to battle my anxiety as well as feeling God around me much more. I am also really finding myself feeling more in control of my thoughts for the first time in a long time, and I feel actually happy…a strange feeling that I am really not used to and not quite sure how to deal with, which is kind of sad! I mean surely feeling happy should be how we feel most days, but since I was a teenager I have struggled to feel actually deep down contentment, but I have always longed for it.
I have always heard the saying ‘a change is as good as a rest’ but I guess with my anxiety disorder I always shied away from change and in fact usually it makes me lose control. But right now, I feel so much love and support from Lee who is on this spiritual journey with me, and from God who I feel is actually there walking beside me in a way I never felt before. It has been a difficult week I cannot lie about that, it is hard to be open to new things when most of the time the thought of going outside alone gives me a panic attack.
However, here we are, it is Monday and I am sat writing this to my friends and I am smiling! I know it is crazy to imagine because my upper back and neck are very painful and I feel tired but yeah I am smiling. I am incredibly proud of myself for facing these changes with faith and being as open to them as was safe for me. My husband was right by my side every day that the decorator was here, though he did not sit with me and left me alone so I could talk if I wanted to. He also went to the meditation class which I was so thankful for and I felt so supported and loved.
I hope if you all have change to face you can push passed the things that hold you back and keep moving forward so that you can make your dreams and passions a reality. Ill health does make it hard to be happy especially mental health issues, but finding faith, in God, a medication or a person then you can conquer the world!
Well I am starting to feel more like myself and less like someone who just wants to curl up in a ball and do nothing and speak to nobody.
As I have spoken about many times before on here and my You Tube Channel, I suffer a lot with my mental health, namely chronic depression and generalised anxiety disorder. Both of these illnesses conspire against me to keep me inside and lonely and not doing the things I love to do.
However, over the last couple of months, me and my husband have been working hard to learn more about other cultures and other ways of thinking. Here in the West it all feels very overwhelming, there is a lack of kindness and compassion, and people tend to work work work without taking the time to look after themselves properly. Both me and especially Lee had fallen into that trap and we had enough!
Lee started learning about The Secret, and I found out about The Power of I Am and looking more into other religions that are as old as Buddhism which I have been studying for a while now. The realisation that if I put in the work I could be in control of my thoughts and take some control back became something that I greatly wanted to make happen.
After finding a course on the Insight Timer App, I started to learn about Bhakti Yoga, which is a spiritual practice within Hinduism, that concentrates on devotion and love for any endeavour. I found this so beautiful, and started to take mindfulness, gratitude and meditation more seriously. I also discovered chanting could help me stay in the moment and provide short mantras such as I am safe I am protected, which definitely calm my anxiety! As soon as I changed my thinking from what I want and what other people do to gratitude for what I have my whole demeanour changed! I woke up happy, something that has not happened since I was about 14years old! I started to be thankful for the home I live in and to see what I already had instead of focusing on what I wanted to change.
I also found that old emotions and feelings came up that I had stifled years ago, but by chanting or praying through it I found that I coped much better with them. It became so interesting to me that just changing my way of thinking could change things so quickly, I wondered if there was any scientific basis to think that my brain had changed. I found that there were articles about this, but many were not scientifically based which annoyed me because I am experiencing the change surely it can be measured somehow?
I did find this one study on sciencedirect.com which basically confirms what I am feeling and seeing myself, unfortunately the study was only done on small groups. However, it did help me feel like this could be a long term change and not just something that will last a couple of months and then stop working…I mean people have been using these tools for hundreds of years they must have an idea it works right?
So lets talk about pushing passed anxiety to make your dreams happen and move forward in life. It is something I have been needing to do I have things I want to achieve in life and my anxiety always holds me back and this time I did not let it win!
So I am also a You Tuber and a few weeks ago I messaged one of my favourite You Tubers, Miss Mary Lu and asked her if she wanted to do a video together. I was so excited when she said yes because she is such a wicked cool person and she is someone I look up to because she has more subscribers than me.
However, as the time to upload came up I got scared, I started to doubt myself because my channel is slow growing, I am shy in person and I am not great at promoting myself. So I started to feel like I would look stupid or nobody would want to watch because my editing and lighting etc is not great and yeah it got me doubting myself so much.
BUT!!! Yes there is a but, because I took my time and I kept thinking about it being such a great opportunity and I would regret it if I backed out because of my anxiety. Today the video I posted went live HERE and I am so proud that I pushed through and I have already learned so much from this collaboration and I know that the more I push myself through then the more I will achieve.
My anxiety almost keeps me captive in life and I cannot stand that! I want to be a good blogger, and I want to do well on you tube and help people understand chronic illness and that we are just people living our lives and trying our best just like everyone. So this was a big week and it was hard for me, I realised how much I need to learn and grow and at first it got me down but then I realised that I have only been editing 8 months, I need to be patient with myself and kind to myself.
Now the video is out I am so proud of myself I love what me and Mary produced together and I hope it encourages everyone to go and try new things, and to take care of themselves. Self care is so important it helps both our physical and mental health so let me know down below is anxiety holding you back? And, what is your favourite self care?
Isn’t it funny how sometimes you take a little break and it totally refreshes you? I have had a daily relationship with God all my life, I have always tried to understand Him and where I stand and for the most part that has been done through prayer. However, after discovering Buddhism a few years ago I have also been using meditation and mindfulness…hence the name of this blog!
However, recently I have been questioning my choices when it comes to my faith and how I communicate with God. I have always believed that there is one God and all the many religions are just human’s ways of trying to understand and to find a way to show our love for them. So to me it doesn’t matter how you worship its where your heart is when you do it that matters and how you live your life.
That is my own personal view on things and though I mainly lean towards the Christian and Buddhist religions I have often questioned things and this has been happening a lot recently. If you read my blog regularly you will know I have been trying to find better ways to treat my illnesses and some of them might be controversial but life is short and I want to try everything that I can.
Now questioning, looking at things like health and religion is in my opinion very normal and human things to do, especially as if you do a quick google search on either of these things you will find millions of websites claiming to have all the answers and they all contradict one another!
So I got a little lost and I decided to take a couple of days off from researching my health, meditating and praying just to be able to step back and see the whole picture. After those days I came back to my faith with renewed sense of being on the right path and that I am going to be heading towards happiness and contentment which is after all what we all long for right? I now have a good sense of the universe and of my place in it and I have come to understand the real meaning of mind, body, spirit and how the yoga I have been practising along with meditation and prayer, and looking at nutrition can really give me the answers.
So though I have been doing the same things for a long time, I have seen them as seperate entities but by focusing on God and taking real care of myself I think I might just start to find myself moving from depression to contentment. I understand talking about faith and the universe and God might make people want to run away screaming, but I started this blog wanting to tie faith and health together, hence the title, and I lost my way a little bit.
So I am here with renewed inspiration and I am excited for the future I hope you will enjoy the journey with me and that I can help inspire you or give you ideas that will help you on your journey!
First of all, the neural blocks I spoke about last post are working, my head is a lot nicer without pain, I will do a full review of how I am doing in a week or so to give them a chance.
So, on Wednesday I am off to London to stay with my best friend for two nights and on Thursday we are going to see Hamilton! I love this play so much I definitely got caught up in the amazingness of it and I cannot wait to see it now it is in London as well!
I am not going to be there long, I am going to chill with my best friend she has Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia as well so we rest a lot. We have a lot of similar interests so we are looking forward to spending time together and just having a nice time.
I get there by using the disabled help offered by National rail where you book assistance in advance when you book your ticket. My husband will take me to the station and there we will book in and someone will provide a ramp onto the train and there will be a disabled space for me. I will then get help off the train in London and Louise and her parents will meet me off the train, it is a good system and it works well so long as the station is manned that you are using.
I have done this before and not had problems so I know it will be fine I will take a book and be lost reading and not notice the time pass at all. I quite like the time on the train, it is scary and something I rarely do, but it feels nice to be out alone like I used to be before I got sick and for a little while I can pretend I am not sitting in a wheelchair and I am just going away for a couple of days.
Right now however my mind is buzzing with worries and fears as my generalised anxiety disorder kicks up a fuss and tries to dampen my excitement. I have had my outfits planned out in my head for weeks, and I keep worrying they will look silly or be wrong for the weather or a million other worries that have no basis in reality because I know my outfits are super cute and I will feel so good wearing them. Then there are worries about what to pack, do I need to take 10 pairs of pants? Do I really need extra socks just in case? Which pyjamas will be best…..the list goes on!
So when my brain is working on overdrive how do I stop the worries and get back to being excited?
- Breathe: Yes it might seem simple, but pausing to take deep, slow breaths can slow my mind and help me get back to feeling like I did after my morning meditation.
- Organise: To keep my anxiety down I tend to plan everything in advance, if I know what to pack and when and what baggage I am taking etc it can really help me to stop worrying so much.
- Pray: I stay close to the bible every day, and all through are examples of things working out if people simply take their worries to God and have faith that it will be sorted by God. I find this so comforting to know and I hold onto it with both hands.
- Mindfulness: This is a big part of the Buddhist faith and something that really helps me when my anxiety is pressing in on me. If I take a breath and concentrate on what I can see and hear in that moment it clears the negative and worrying thoughts from my head. In this moment everything is fine and I am safe so why worry?
- Trust: I have stayed with Louise and her family many times, they have always looked after me, spoilt me and made every visit special. They would never let anything happen to me and knowing I can trust them fully goes a long way to easing any crazy scenarios that my brain can come up with!
So after holding those five things close to me, I am managing to keep my anxiety to a minimum and my excitement to see my best friend and to finally see Hamilton on stage high. I will hopefully be doing some kind of video while I am there not sure if it will be a vlog or an interview with my best friend so make sure you are SUBSCRIBED to me to find out.
Well it is that time of year again, I have cards to make, presents to wrap and right now I just want to fast forward to January and be done with it! Now do not get me wrong I am not a Christmas hater and I am not one to be compared to The Grinch at all! In fact, I always loved this time of year and looked forward to seeing my family and giving presents to people I love. I enjoyed the cheesy films and decorating the house….
Then my Grandad died, and my parents split, my Dad now has a new family he is spending Christmas with and my mom is spending it with her friends and my Nan is staying in the home she now lives in for her dementia. This will in fact be my first Christmas not eating dinner with either parent or my Nan, me and my husband are going to be eating Christmas dinner together with our dog in a local pub.
I have decorated our living room, but that was so tiring and the added time and effort it takes to clean now I have extra things to move makes me wonder why I even bothered! I have not yet recieved a single card, and no invitations or planned time with friends leaves me feeling extremely lonely. I feel very lost and nothing feels right and I have this unsettled feeling all the time which is triggering both my depression and anxiety and overall I am just lonely and miserable!
However, I am not the sort of person to give up and I am putting a few things in place to try and keep my mental health under control while I navigate this time:
- Meditation and prayer: I am someone who tries to keep myself centered and I do that by looking to God. I try to spend time every day meditating and talking to God, my faith is something I take very seriously and it really helps me. Now I am not trying to say everyone go find God, but I am saying we all have something that helps keep us grounded whether that is a best friend, favourite song or your faith. Concentrating on and holding onto this really helps in times of trouble so don’t knock it until you try it.
- Exercise: Depression wants us sitting around feeling useless and doing nothing, I find walking around my living room, doing Yin Yoga, or just dancing to a song I like are all things that can really help shake off depression even just for a little while.
- Keeping busy: It literally took me most of today to work up to being bothered to write this blog post, but that is the depression not me who loves writing my blog. It is best to keep busy in order to stop those negative thoughts clouding in and taking over. No matter whether it is learning a new hobby, reading or just planning what next year has to offer try to keep your mind from taking over!
- Mindfulness: Now this is simply taking a moment to concentrate on this moment without judgement. Just stop and take a breath, take in your surroundings and stop those thoughts it really can change everything to just step back and realise we live in this moment and not in the past or future where depression and anxiety live.
- Be thankful: I try every day as I get into bed, to list things I am thankful for over the day. Things like doggy cuddles, cups of tea, being warm, not needing to nap, etc. It really helps to stop looking at what we do not have and starting to appreciate what we do have. This time of year adverts are everywhere, people on social media bragging about buying so many presents, and movies that show the ‘perfect christmas’. In reality, nobody needs 500 presents, kids just want to be loved, and perfection does not exist. Be thankful for what you do have and can do and stop trying to keep up with the Jones’!
- Avoid adverts: This is related to the last one, but I turn off or mute all adverts on TV and you tube, I do not want those toxic 2 minutes in my life! They make me feel like I want so much and none of it is actually needed! Take the pressure off by turning away from adverts and instead take those moments to be mindful, or cuddle the dog!
I hope these small things are manageable for you, and I hope this holiday season is better than you imagined, and if you ever need to talk my emails are always open.
- Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at email@example.com.
- Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
- PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
- Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.
- Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
- Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.
First of all I apologise for not writing a post last week! There was supposed to be someone to come and assess me for PIP the new disability benefit in the UK. I was so stressed it made my pain worse, and so I was struggling with so much…and then on top of that they just did not show up and did not call to explain! I have another appointment but I am not looking forward to all the stress it will bring. Anyway, yes that is why I did not post anything last week, I apologise.
So, I have been practising yoga now for about six years and for most of that time I have done it daily using the teacher Yoga with Adriene I have spoken about her many times. She is an amazing teacher and I love her style, however her videos are not aimed at the Spoonie community and so it can be difficult to keep up.
I often found that I had to choose whether to do yoga or some housework and practising daily was impossible. I love yoga and I want to do it daily it is my main form of exercise, it keeps my body supple and helps me to be in the moment. I use it as part of my religion as I am Christian Buddist and so I really wanted to find a gentle practice that I could do every day and it would not make me too tired.
Then Adriene uploaded a ‘Yin yoga’ routine which is a form of yoga I had not heard of before:
“Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with postures, or asanas, that are held for longer periods of time—for beginners, it may range from 45 seconds to two minutes; more advanced practitioners may stay in one asana for five minutes or more.”
I really enjoyed it and though it is not what people picture when they think of yoga I really got so much out of it because it moved my body but was gentle and did not tire me out….so I started hunting for different yoga teachers on You Tube who practiced more gentle routines that could help me to listen to my body more and not make my illnesses worse.
I found a couple of teachers so far, Sleepy Santosha is a woman who is a Spoonie and because of that her routines are designed for people with illnesses. She has a very soothing style, the routines are awesome and she has some specifically for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. Chakrapod is the another teacher who has routines for specific illnesses but also some that are a little tougher and more traditional, I love her style she is really chill and I would recommend her. I have some others as well and you can find the exercise routines I do in a playlist HERE
Overall, this change has bought me closer to what yoga is really about, it is not about getting abs and doing crazy poses that you can show off! Yoga is anything where you are concentrated on breath and movement, and there are lots of yoga routines you can actually do in bed. This change in my attitude to yoga means I can now do yoga every day and I can still manage a little housework, my symptoms are more level and do not fluctuate as much as they were when I was trying to push myself.
Do you have any yoga teachers like this that you would recommend? If you try any of the yoga routines in my list let me know I would love to know what you think of them.