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.
So I have been thinking about this a lot, how can we improve our community and why it seems so fractured. This post was spurred on to be written though by Melissa at Mint Tea and Elephants, we were talking in a facebook group and I mentioned some of my thoughts and she said she would love to read it, so blame her haha!
I am not a news watcher, I stopped watching the news years ago because it always triggered my anxiety. I started to worry about the end of the world, what if zombies became real if we act like this now? Why do people get so lost that they commit crimes and turn to drugs and alcohol? Why is it that a few people seem to prosper while everyone else seems to think it is OK to just struggle alone and to turn down any help offered and not help others?
Just a few generations ago people did not travel far from where they were born, they grew up knowing everyone and helping one another when needed. We seem to have everything, with kids having mobile phones and iPad at young ages and yet children struggling with suicidal thoughts is on the rise! The more I think about it the more I wonder that it could be we are losing that community spirit we used to have. In the past people in a street would share the big ticket items like lawn mowers and TVs, Just think how many lawn mowers there are in just the street you live in and how often they are used!
Humans naturally are pack animals, we naturally long for approval and to fit in so that we will survive. It is a natural instinct, but it seems to have taken a turn, instead of trying to help the people in our street we are looking on Instagram, comparing ourselves to others and getting depressed when our lives don’t look like that! I often see people on social media saying they need to take a ‘mental health break’ from social media, it is as if living with comparing and jealousy is unhealthy for us.
I know I have fallen into this trap when it comes to this when it comes to my You Tube Channel and this blog, I see others making money at them, being shared and growing their subscribers and it can make me feel jealous. I think this mentality of numbers within the ‘influencer’ community is what can cause most of the problems. So I took a step back and realised that I was feeling upset that I share people’s blog posts and videos but they were not doing the same for me….
But should that be why I do it? Surely I should practice my beliefs and put them into my life in every way not just when it suits me! I try to practice the four types of yoga every day, and one of them Karma Yoga is what this is all about. Karma Yoga is the path of unselfish action, this means doing things to help others and to raise others up without expecting anything in return. I should do it because I want those around me to succeed, and not because I want them to do the same or I think because I shared that video my views and subscribers will rise!
Now just imagine if we all practice this, no matter your faith, what if we all did nice and kind things not expecting anything in return not even a thank you? Do you think if we all changed our hearts to try this that we would all get more success and be happier because I do! So I am challenging you to do these three things and let’s change the world and foster a little more community:
- Smile at a stranger
- Be kind expecting nothing in return
- Share blog posts you read, and you tube videos you watch
Below is my You Tube video where I discuss this and yeah I hope you will leave me a comment and let’s get talking
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 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!
Life is stressful, and we can often focus on the negative. Perhaps because of health issues, problems with work, or any event that gets in the way of our happiness, we can take on this ‘glass half empty mentality.’ Instead, we should practice gratitude. Finding ways to stay positive instead of dwelling on the difficulties in life, we should be able to rise above our stresses and think and feel better as a result. It’s not easy, we know, but when you stop and think about it, there is so much to be thankful for. The following are some of our examples, but you may be able to think of more.
- Be thankful for your parents
Our parents aren’t perfect, but then nobody is. Be thankful for what they have taught you, and for the love and care they have shown you in your life. Be sure to tell them too. They won’t be here forever, so before they enter into a care home and leave this mortal coil, tell them you love them, appreciate them, and are thankful for them. Hopefully, your children will do the same to you one day.
- Be thankful for the small things
These are the things we often overlook in the day, but sometimes we should slow down and take notice of them. Examples? Be thankful for the sun and the rain; be thankful for the water from your tap and the other things we often take for granted; be thankful for the daily sounds you hear, from birdsong to the laughter in your child; be thankful for the things that make you smile. Your day is packed with these things, so stop and pause at each and offer thanks for every one.
- Be thankful for life’s challenges
Admittedly, this is the toughest of them all. How can you be thankful for those things that give you stress and a headache? How can you be thankful for the things that could negatively impact your day? It’s not easy, but then you shouldn’t let them get you down, either. Look at these challenges as things that will help you grow. You have dealt with your challenges before, and you will do so again. Sometimes, the obstacles in our life are there for a reason, but by rising above them, you will become a better person. Get help when you need it, of course, but be thankful for those times when you have developed as a result of your hardships.
- Be thankful for your life
God brought you into this life for a purpose, so be thankful to Him. Be thankful for the good things you have done, and the opportunities you have been given. Be thankful for your strengths as well as your weaknesses, as you aren’t supposed to be perfect. Be thankful for what has happened in your life, what is happening today, and what is still to come. You only have one life on this earth, and it’s a precious one. So give thanks today for you!
Keep the thanks coming
There is so much to be thankful for; we need only stop and consider the blessings we have in our life. What about you? Is there anything we have missed? What are you thankful for? Let us know – we will be thankful if you do!
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!
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