So a few weeks ago I was told I had two illnesses and you can read about them HERE, so I have just taken myself a little time to come to terms with them. On the one hand, Spondylosis was not a big shock I have been having a lot of upper spine pain and now I know what it is I am happy. I mean well, not happy happy, but now I know what it is I can look up things to help and get practical about things if that makes sense?
But with hEDS, I am finding a lot of anger and frustration because as I research and read up on this illness the more upset I am feeling. I am finding my being diagnosed fell at the right time because I found out at the beginning of EDS awareness month so there is no shortage of informative articles floating around like this one by the Mighty, or this one by Mystripeylife.com which I am extremely thankful for!
However, the more I read the more angry and frustrated I feel, and I think it is because I have so many of the symptoms and I find out decades after and I want to go shout at my old Drs “I TOLD YOU IT WAS REAL!” I didn’t walk until I was almost two and would drag my left leg when I crawled, my skin is very soft to touch and I bruise very easily, I was in so much pain as a child but when I went to the Dr they would tell me it was simply ‘growing pains’, I have always had balance issues, I had to have a lot of dental work and teeth removed as a child and the anaesthetic never worked as well as it should have…and I can go on!
Knowing I suffered so much to have nobody listen, to know that I just pushed through and forced myself to act like I was fine for so long ignoring the pain it upsets me. But what upsets me the most, is that younger me thought I was being dramatic or I was too sensitive everyone else gets by with these things! On top of that, I had family members make fun of me, and put me down because they did not believe me or understand that it was real…they believed the doctors they thought it was in my head.
Now I don’t want you thinking I blame those members of my family, because I don’t, they were simply misinformed and trusted doctors and dentists who themselves did not see the whole picture. General practitioners can often miss rare illnesses because they don’t get the time and there are so many rare illnesses there is no way for them to know them all. Logically I know this, logically I am thankful to now have answers and to have a way to move forward with greater understanding hopefully from the medical professionals I meet in future.
Yes I think it is legitimate to feel anger and frustration when you find this sort of information out, I need to be patient I need to allow myself time to feel these things. But, as I am a Christian and a Buddhist, I try to refrain from looking back too much and to be in the moment so I guess what I am saying is that from now on I will be updating my blog every Monday again! I gave myself time and I was patient, but this blog means so much to me, like my You Tube channel, it gives me a voice, it is a chance to connect with others and make friends.
So I guess I am incredibly thankful to people in the EDS community for welcoming me, answering my questions and giving me advice when I have asked. I feel so lucky my diagnosis came at the start of the EDS awareness month I am thankful I have a diagnosis that finally makes everything make sense…so yes anger and frustration is there but I am choosing to look at things with a grateful heart.
So as I sit here writing this I honestly don’t know how I feel about having two new illnesses diagnosed. On one hand it is great to have some answers and to have a plan, but on the other I wanted it to be something they could cure you know? However, I wanted to give you all a health update because I feel like you guys know so much that I need to get this out there.
So over the last few months I have seen a headache clinic, and had MRI scans, and seen two rheumatologists. On Wednesday I went to see a new physiotherapist who confirmed that the consultant thought I had a type of arthritis called Spondylitis in my upper spine and neck which is why I get so much pain and stiffness.
She also told me that I have a form of Ehlos Danlos Syndrome called hyper-mobility EDS and will need long term physiotherapy and occupational therapy in order to keep my joints working. I potentially will need a brace for my one thumb and she explained that as long as I work on improving my muscle I should see improvement in the stability of my joints.
I came home feeling overwhelmed and since then my depression has dipped a little and I don’t think it is because of the diagnosis. I mean it is a good thing to know I will be looked after long term, though not by a rheumatologist by the physiotherapist. I don’t know why it has shaken my depression up a bit, I guess it is just a lot to take in to know that I am going to have this pain and these are potentially both illnesses that can get worse.
I think for right now the thing that has upset me the most, is that I cannot do the type of yoga I love or go to yoga class anymore because it will not help my joints. I am feeling down about that, but I will still be doing yoga with Sleepy Santosha on You Tube so that is a good thing! I am determined not to let this news get to me too much so I have things planned to try and keep my spirits up, like getting my hair cut tomorrow and going to my friend’s murder mystery party next week!
So there we are, now you know why I have been a little like a hermit but I am going to be moving forward with a lot of gentle exercise, and working on improving my diet so I can be as healthy as this body allows!
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!
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.
Yeah so 16th March I turned 40 and I was not exactly happy about it, though with my poor health over the years and my struggles with depression I was determined to enjoy it. This was also my first birthday without my Nan and Grandad I was closest to so I wanted to make sure I made them proud and had fun, so I had to look at pacing for special occasions so I could survive my plans!
I knew I had to do two things so that I could celebrate with both my parents separately and so I decided to spend my birthday, which fell on a Friday, at my favourite museum. The Black Country museum is so cool they have recreated a small Black Country town and it is amazing I just love it and I have a vlog ready to put up on my You Tube channel so make sure you are subscribed!
On the next day I arranged something a little less out in the world and involving so much getting out of my wheelchair, so I decided to go for afternoon tea. I have been doing this for the last few years at Weston Hall and I invited one of my best friends Jess, my mom, her parents and two of her sisters as well as my lovely husband.
I knew that recently I had been working on my fatigue with the Heal Chronic Fatigue Course, so I was wary of letting all that hard work slide by doing too much. I also did not want to end up triggering a flare of my chronic illnesses and I was aware of the fact that my husband has epilepsy. This causes him to be very tired and suffer with headaches and extreme fatigue if he does too much which can trigger a seizure, I have to look after him too.
What I had not factored in was Lee wanting to get a new phone so we ended up going to a local shopping centre on the Thursday and he treated me to some presents because he is so kind. So I went from rarely leaving the house, to being out in the world in potentially loud and anxiety triggering situations for three days in a row. Honestly, I was not sure I would survive, but after resting all day yesterday (Sunday) today I was able to get out of bed and I have noticed I am tired and my pain is up, but it is manageable and yeah…I am pretty amazed so I thought I would share what I did to try and keep on top of everything:
- Utilise wheelchairs when possible – The museum I went to supply wheelchairs if needed which is so useful as I cannot walk far and I struggle with pain which means I need to be able to sit down regularly. However, as this is a living museum I did not want to take my own wheelchair as it would get filthy, so after checking their website I was thankful to be able to borrow one there. Checking this took no time and it saved me so much energy and pain because we could wheel me through all the coal and cobbled streets without worrying about it and I could just enjoy!
- Be prepared for change – Always make sure you are well rested before a group of events are together, no housework, no exercise just rest in the week or so before to save up spoons just in case your husband decides to take you shopping!
- Utilise alternatives – I suffer very badly with social anxiety, so I bought some CBD anxiety tea from my local health shop, when we got home each evening from these things I took a cup. It helped me to relax and rest and it also helped my pain. I also used my heating pad in the evening and massage oils to help my pain and fatigue. We all have different needs, but finding things that help other than tablets from the doctor will support you so much when you are trying to cope.
- Schedule rest – This is so important! On all three days I was in bed by 6pm with my heating pad and Netflix just resting and watching TV. Always make sure you have times when you can walk away and rest, whether it is a little nap while your husband keeps family company at Christmas, or just making sure you are in bed extra early, this is so important! If you have busy days make sure you allow time to rest and making sure family understand it is that or things do not happen is essential to cope with being social and chronic pain and fatigue.
- Dismissing guilt – It is so easy to feel guilty for having fun, I think society makes the disabled and chronically ill feel like they have to just sit on the sofa and do nothing. However, yes I did see friends and family, yes I ate too many calories and yes these things made me feel more in pain and more tired. But I am of the opinion that my life has value and I refuse to be forced to never see friends and to not have fun for fear of not meeting others expectations. I will not let anyone ruin my great memories and fun I had for my birthday which was so hard for me to cope with but it was lovely and yes I am still smiling!
- Be honest – I am lucky, my friends and family understand I have limitations, not everyone has that. So instead of pretending you are well, pushing through the pain and staying up too late so others are happy…be honest. Speak up about needing a wheelchair, or to take a break and grab some tea and extra meds, and do not let anyone make you feel less for needing these things.
- Give yourself a break afterwards – Planning fun activities is harder for us spoonies, but do not forget to look after yourself afterwards too. Yesterday I did not get out of bed until lunchtime and I was back in bed by 6pm, I made sure I got all the water I needed and I rested I made sure I had this scheduled and I did not guilt myself or expect anything. Yesterday was a difficult pain and fatigue day, but so worth it for those wonderful memories!
I hope these tips and tricks I utilised will help you to be more social and to celebrate things that need to be celebrated. So many of us stop being social because of our health, but hiding away is detrimental to our mental health and we will lose our ability to keep friends and lose valuable fun memories if we do not take the time to plan and be careful.
So first of all I want to apologise for not updating my blog for a week or so, unfortunately I needed a little time to look after my mental health after losing my Grandmother. She was a big part of my life, in fact I think I talked about her in my last post and I am finding the grief hard.I have taken losing her and my Grandad pretty badly because they were two people who taught me so much and loved me so completely and without conditions.
It is horrible because I have moments where I forget they are gone and I get a idea to call or suggest we visit, but then I remember…
I think anyone who is dealing with grief knows that feeling, like hearing it all over again, and right now it is hard because the funeral isn’t until the end of the month so that is looming over me. Added onto that I have my birthday this week, I am turning 40 and most people I wanted to celebrate with me cannot make it and I think I just have a lot of feelings from childhood parties gone wrong kicking up again!
I think a lot of people who suffer with anxiety and depression know this well, something happens and instead of just wanting to deal with that one thing your brain decides to think of a million other times in your past. Negative thoughts and memories are something I deal with every day and something that I honestly fight with and battle with constantly. Most people who met me would not think that, but even as I smile inside there is a million thoughts and feelings fighting to take that smile away from me. I am in the process of starting therapy again, finally after a life with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression since the age of 14 the doctor thought I might need long term therapy wow never would have thought it!!
Opening up to someone new about your past and the issues you have leaves you feeling so exposed and raw, so losing one of my close family at the same time has been very hard. I think it is hard at any time, but talking about it along with retelling my past has left me feeling very small and lost at times.
I really hope however, that I can push through this time in a healthy way and this is how I am going to try and do that:
- Talking – I think it is important to be open and honest about my thoughts and feelings at the moment and I am talking things through with my husband and therapist because I cannot hold this all in.
- Meditation – I try to meditate every day to protect myself and to keep my mind clear, it gives me a chance to slow down and just concentrate on my breathing. I also found some amazing guided meditations for grief on You Tube.
- Mindfulness – Staying in this moment and not getting lost in emotions and thoughts is something that does not come easily, however I find it helps my anxiety, which is thinking about the future, and depression, which is thinking about the past. I have been working on this because I am a Buddhist, but it is also a big part of what my therapists have suggested.
- Keeping busy – Now this one can be difficult with pain and fatigue, both of which are worse because of the grief, but it is important to at least be reading or watching a TV show sitting and thinking is the worst thing for someone suffering with their mental health so definitely bear that in mind.
I hope this post has not bought you down or upset anyone, but I think far too much in our society we are afraid of death and talking about mental health issues and right now that is what is happening in my life. Yes it is difficult, but the more we talk about it the less stigma there will be and more people will be able to get the help they need without worry or fear. Next Monday I will tell you all about my wonderful birthday celebrations and hopefully I will cope with turning 40 without running away hehe
Wow I sometimes feel a little frazzled and a little lost, like I am too small for this world and I don’t know what I am doing. I have generalised anxiety disorder, which basically means my mind makes me feel anxious all the time and my body is always in fight or flight mode! Even without Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that in itself is pretty exhausting!
So right now my anxiety is really kicking up a storm, I am learning things about my childhood that I either blotted out or was in denial about and my Grandmother is in a hospice coming to the end of her life. Seeing her so thin with Leukaemia and her dementia really playing her up is so hard because she was always such a strong woman in my life.
I remember her telling me that she once spent time in a mental health facility back in the 1960s I think it was. Back then they were not cared for or looked after very well and she had been ashamed of her experience. However, knowing that she too had a breakdown and suffered with depression somehow gave me strength and left me feeling less alone when others around me were saying I was just being difficult or dramatic.
My grandmother was the person who taught me about God and faith and how I can cling to God in the hard times. Many hours were spent with the two of us looking things up in the bible to answer the very deep and searching questions I was not sure how to answer. She would even call vicars she knew and ask them if they could help and she was just always there to turn to for answers….she made the greatest mince pies in the world too!!
But now I have to come to the realisation that there will be no more mince pies, and without her and Grandad nobody to call on to answer my many questions…I feel kind of adrift in the ocean of life, my grandparents were my anchor and compass and now I am out there alone and I don’t even know how to use a compass! I guess right now I am feeling a lot of emotions and to try and get this all to make sense is really really hard!
However, I am not someone to take emotional upheaval lying down, I am a fighter and I know that this is just another step on my journey. I might feel overwhelmed and lost right now, but so long as I keep the things they taught me close to my heart I cannot go far wrong. I will keep my eyes on God, and I have my own bible so I can search through to find the answers it just won’t be quite as fun!
So right now I am struggling with the fact that my Nan is nearing the end of her life, she has been one of the biggest influences on my life. I have been lucky enough to have her in my life for so long and I am thankful for that, however grief is creeping in and I am aware that I do not want to fall into the same depression that I did when we lost my Grandad.
So this time I am concentrating on the good, I am thinking through every good memory I have of times with her and remembering how thankful I am that she was chosen to be a part of my life. She taught me about God and how to have faith, she was always there to listen and she never put me down or made fun of my struggles over the years like others did.
My Nan is amazing and I am determined to follow her example and to hold onto God as I go through this journey with her. She always taught me that if you have your faith you have everything you need, and that is so true. My prayer times have been so sacred to me and have helped me so much to get out my feelings as well as to send love and care to her.
I have also been holding onto the Heal Chronic Fatigue course teachings and remembering to turn each negative thought into something good. Buddhism teaches that we should not try to hold onto people or things because they are not going to always be there. I have been using positive affirmations, good memories and positive thoughts to make sure I stay as positive as possible right now.
However, self care is not just about staying postive and being happy, I let my tears fall when they need to but the difference is I do not wallow in it. I let my emotions flow now I do not judge them like I used to and I am being patient with myself as my mind is very scattered right now because I am trying to wrap my head around losing my beloved Nan. Grief can be overwhelming at times, but it is important to treat yourself well, make sure you eat well and often and give in to comfort food sometimes because it is called that for a reason!
Have you been through grief? How did you cope and what things did you learn from that time?
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.
I was recently contacted by betterhelp.com an online counselling website and app, who wondered if I would be interested in posting the below infographic to spread awareness of high functioning depression. I said yes right away because I personally have suffered with chronic depression since I was fourteen years old and for a long time I wasn’t sure I had depression. Most of the time when this illness is shown on TV or in movies, people don’t get out of bed or get anything done, but if the figures are to be believed this is not how depression usually presents itself.
It is important that we all take our mental health seriously, I know many people love the idea of counselling and therapy but don’t have the time. Better Help could be just the answer you are looking for, especially if you look at the image and work out this could be what you have! The website offers therapy online, or through an app on your phone or ipad and so it could be done any time to fit in with your life. I hope this is of some help in getting the word out about this complicated illness and encourages people to at least check out the website which has some great articles to read even if you don’t think you are ready for therapy.