40 things I wish I could tell my younger self.

One of the main reasons I started writing my blog was to reach out and help others.  When I write my posts I pretend I am speaking to my younger self; whether that’s the anxious child fearful of the world around her, or the depressed teenager desperate to fit in and be liked, or the broken adult suicidal from pain. This post is a collection of thoughts and realities that I wish I had known when I was younger, and some I am still trying hard to grasp as an adult.

1. Don’t be ashamed of your story and who you are. Don’t waste your time hiding the real you and trying your best to fit in. Embrace you quirks and flaws – they are what make you unique.

2. It’s ok to admit you are not coping it is not a sign of weakness. It’s ok to cry, it’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to admit you are not coping, it’s ok to have bad days – you are only human.

3. Failure is not a negative thingit teaches us so much. I was a high achiever at school – I don’t remember failing any exams, but the longer I didn’t fail, the more fearful I became of failing, so much so that it prevented me from trying new things as I was scared that I wouldn’t be any good.

4. It’s ok not to be good at everythingIt’s ok to do something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it.

5. Perfection is not real. No one is perfect. Pushing to achieve perfection just leads to frustration and feelings of inadequacy.

6. Anxiety and depression are ‘Real’ medical conditions and you are not alone in how you feel. My teenage years were a scary time, I had no idea what my feelings meant – I thought I was a weirdo and alone in how I felt. I wish I could hug her and tell her it isn’t her fault too.

7. Self compassion is so importantYou are worthy of love and compassion. “Treat yourself as you would treat a good friend”. We all makes mistakes – forgive yourself and move on. I still really struggling with this one but I’m starting to learn how to show myself the same compassion I show others.

8. It’s ok to say no sometimes, and it’s vital to set boundaries.

9. Stop comparing yourself to other peopleYou are unique, celebrate your uniqueness. No one has it all figured out.

10. It’s not self indulgent to spend time congratulating yourself on your achievements. Pause and enjoy the moment before racing on to your next task or goal.

11. Celebrate your abilities, not your disabilities. Rather than criticising yourself for what you can’t do or who you are not, concentrate on what you can do and who you are.

12. Accepting your current situation does not mean you are giving up. Acceptance is liberating and vital for your well being.

13. You are not superwomanCut yourself some slack.

14. Don’t take yourself so seriously – it’s ok (and healthy) to laugh at yourself sometimes. I have always been quite serious and taken myself too seriously. This inability to laugh at myself has made me more susceptible to being hurt by others.

15. There are practical ways to manage your anxiety. I wish I could take my younger self aside and walk her through some strategies for coping with anxiety, like mindfulness. It’s taken me years to acquire these skills but for so long I struggled alone.

16. Grieving is an important part of the healing process. I wish I could tell my younger self how important it is to talk about and remember loved ones, no matter how painful it is. It’s part of the grieving process and memories are precious – celebrating their lives helps us heal. We often forget the importance of acknowledging grief and when we don’t give ourselves this time to mourn, anger and guilt can take over.

17. Your feelings are, and will always be, valid.

18. You don’t have to wear your pain like a badge of honour. I fought against taking painkillers and antidepressants for a long time because I saw it as a sign of weakness – I felt I needed to prove how tough I was.

19. Physical appearance has no bearing on happiness. Weight has no bearing on happiness – your self worth is not determined by a number on the scales. Everyone has a part of their physical appearance they don’t like – even the beautiful people.

20. Success is not measured by monetary wealth and possessions. Success is measured by health, happiness, love, balance, family and friends.

21. Things can change in a heartbeatfor good or bad. If you are going through a tough time, know it won’t last forever, and if things are good, make the most of every minute. But change isn’t something to be feared – embrace it.

22. Being popular isn’t the be-all-and-end-allHaving a few close and loyal friends is more important.

23. There are ways to cope with negative emotions without beating yourself up further. Anger, resentment, frustration, grief, self pity, guilt and desperation, are all emotions I have faced throughout my life. Self compassion, forgiveness, removing self blame and finding time to pause, reflect, rest and restore – I wish I had known about these when I was younger.

24. Take care of your body and mind – you are not invincible.  I have abused my body and mind far too much over the years. When I was younger I felt invincible and this was often reflected in my actions.

25. Nothing is as bad as it first seems. Take a step back; pause, reflect, rest and relax.

26. Rest, relaxation and reflection are vital for your mental and physical health. I have always (before becoming ill) lived life at 100mph not allowing myself to rest, mainly through fear of allowing my dark thoughts time to surface, but also because I wrongly thought by resting I was being lazy.

27. It’s important to be yourselfit’s the only way to be truly happy. Pretending to be someone else is admitting you are somehow ashamed of the real you. You don’t have to constantly try and prove yourself to others.

28. It’s ok to be a geek. Learning is cool, books are cool (although by saying cool I’m probably acting uncool and showing my age) You don’t have to hide your love of these things to try to fit in.

29. Everyone you meet has something to teach youEveryone has their own unique story. Take a moment to pause and listen.

30. Choose your battles. You don’t always need to be right – sometimes it’s best to let it drop and move on. Preserve your energy for more important things.

31. When someone compliments you; believe it, smile and say thank you – you are worthy.

32. You can’t control everything. Trying to control what is out of your control just leads to frustration and anger.

33. Find time to do what makes you happyThere’s a bit if a theme going on here. Have I made my point?; happiness is vital. You deserve happiness – right now.

34. It’s ok to spend time doing fun things There doesn’t always have to be a reason, purpose or goal for everything you do in life. You don’t always have to be ‘getting things done’.

35. It’s ok to show your weaknessesIt’s ok to let your guard down and ask for help- you don’t have to be strong all the time.

36. You can’t help everyone and not everyone wants your help. If I see someone is hurting, then I want to help heal them. But the truth is; I can’t help everyone, not everyone wants to be ‘saved’, and some people are not deserving of my love and energy.

37. Mental health is just as important as physical healthdon’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

38. Suffering from a mental illness does not make you a bad person. Neither is it a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of.

39. Try to leave the past in the pastNo matter how much you worry about past mistakes, you cannot change them.

40. You can’t please everyone, all the time. There is always going to be someone who disapproves or disagrees with what you are doing. But that’s ok – you don’t need their approval or validation, just be true to yourself. And it’s ok if someone doesn’t like you – It’s not a reflection of your character or self worth, and it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. Do what makes you happy.

Writing this list has been a real eye opener for me and has made me question a lot about how I perceive myself, and the enormous amount of pressure I have put on myself over the years.

Where did I get this notion that I had to be tough and strong all the time? When did I first start believing that I had to take on the world to prove I was brave? When did I stop asking for help because I saw it as a sign of weakness? When did I decide everything I did in life needed a purpose and a goal – doing something just because it’s fun seemed frivolous and wasteful? When did my self worth become intertwined with my weight and physical appearance? – Did society teach me this? We are all the product of our genes and our environment – but how much of this negative perception of myself has been taught, and how much is due to the mental and physical illnesses I inherited? I hope by writing these thoughts of encouragement down I can cut myself some slack and give myself time to heal.

What words of encouragement would you give to your younger self?

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You can’t help everyone and not everyone wants to be ‘saved’

Foreword: I wrote this piece a few months ago and I have been waiting for the ‘right time’ to post it. But I’m not sure there will ever be a ‘right time’; so I’m going to be brave and post it now. I’m the sort of person who sees the good in everyone. My empathy dial is always set to max, so I feel everyone’s pain like it’s my own, and I feel compelled to ‘help’ everyone I meet. But the truth is I can’t help everyone and not everyone wants to be saved. There have been times in my life where, unknowingly, I have sacrificed my mental health in my attempt to help others. This post describes one of these times.

In my mid twenties I met someone and fell in love – sounds idyllic, right? But this someone turned out to be anything but my knight in shining armour. He was abusive, controlling, vicious and full of jealousy.

I was going through a transition period in my life. I was losing a lot of weight – 5 stone up until I met M, and I was trying to rediscover myself after depression had dominated my teenage years. I had returned to college and my life seemed full of potential and possibilities.

M was everything I thought I wanted in a partner; he was a rebel, he had long hair, he was good looking and a heavy metal fan like me. He was kind and vulnerable at first, and I instantly warmed to him. He doted on me and confessed his undying love almost immediately. I should have seen the signs but I was distracted by all his attention, I had never been adored this way before.

Quite early on in our relationship he started showing signs of jealousy and wanting to control my actions, what I wore and who I spoke to. At first I wasn’t alarmed by this, in fact I saw it as a sign that he loved me so much he couldn’t bear me being around other men – I admit, I was naive. M was my first serious boyfriend, I was flattered by his attention and adoration.

His controlling behaviour soon escalated. I continued to lose weight and this attracted attention from other men. If I even smiled at another man he would call me a whore and accuse me of having an affair. He would put me down saying; “You have the figure of a boy!” or “You don’t even look like a woman anymore”

M was a ex-heroin addict and an alcoholic. He was abused as a child and spent time in care. I know he suffered with depression and had attempted suicide on a few occasions, and I wanted to help him. I wanted to find a way to comfort him, to make it all better. I wanted to protect him from his demons. I thought my love and kindness would be enough, but by staying with him I only caused myself pain.

He would come home drunk and start shouting obscenities at me. Some of the vile things he used to come out with scared me so much. The venom in his voice, the hatred in his eyes and the threat of violence were, in a way, more painful than the physical violence that followed. The saying goes; “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” but that’s not true. For me, the words were just as damaging, and the effects lasted much longer.

He experienced blackouts when he was drunk, so he would wake up in the morning like nothing had happened. I would beg for an apology or some kind of explanation for his behaviour but, because he couldn’t remember any of it, he just shrugged and walked away.

If I ever talked about leaving, M would say “Who would want you? Skinny, full of scars and excess skin, you are not even a woman anymore. I’m the only person who would put up with you” and I believed him. I had no self confidence – I believed I was ugly and worthless, and I was actually more scared of being alone, than being with him.

Why did I stay? It’s a question I’ve asked myself thousands of times. I have always been a strong and independent woman; how could I let myself be controlled and abused by a man? I felt pathetic, weak and a failure. Why didn’t I stand up for myself and say; “NO! this is not acceptable”. Why did I make excuses for him? Why did I continue to forgive him when he caused me so much pain? I don’t have an answer to these questions and I beat myself up about it for a long time – I blamed myself for being weak. I believe a big part of me staying was my need to ‘heal’ him – I could see he was hurting and I wanted to help. I actually saw my inability to ‘make everything better’ as a personal failing, but the truth is; you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.

Please don’t ever judge anyone for staying in an abusive relationship, you have no idea what it’s like until it’s your life. You don’t know the reasons why they stay or why they do not feel strong enough to leave. It wasn’t all bad, if it had been I would have left sooner. I loved him and when he wasn’t drunk he could be charming, kind and loving – we did have happy times together.

After 2 years of emotional and physical abuse, I finally found the courage to leave him. The truth is, he admitted to cheating on me and that flipped a switch inside me. Somehow I could justify the abuse but I couldn’t tolerate infidelity. He didn’t take it well: He barricaded us into my flat and refused to let me leave. He threw me around the flat like a rag doll, but I managed to escape. It was the most traumatic night of my life and it was the first time I had truly feared for my life, but I never looked back.

It took me years to recover. The physical bruises and scars soon healed but the psychological damage lasted much longer. Two years of abuse had a huge impact on my mental health; I was depressed, full of anxiety and negative thoughts, and my self esteem was at the lowest it had been at any point in my life. I still believed all the vile things he said to me. I still believed I was ugly, unlovable and worthless. Depression hit, I was an emotional wreck, but thanks to amazing friends and family I slowly began to find myself again.

With the help of antidepressants and counselling, I managed to learn to forgive myself for not being strong enough to leave him sooner, but my anger towards M has never gone away. The anger that someone could destroy my life, could make it a living hell – I cannot forgive him for that.

What started out as small signs of controlling behaviour and jealousy, soon escalated. At the time I didn’t realise it was abuse. I didn’t feel like it was severe enough to warrant me asking for help. He made me think I was overreacting, that a shove here and a grab there wasn’t abuse. Or that a harsh word here or criticism there was typical behaviour, that a bit of aggression was normal in a relationship. But the truth is; If someone loves you they will do anything to make you feel secure and happy, they would be mortified if they caused you the slightest pain.

A few months after I left M, I started a relationship with my now husband. He helped me heal and showed me what true love means. With his support I began the long journey of recovery.

Any form of abuse is wrong! Don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise. If you are not comfortable with it, if it makes you feel scared, distressed or vulnerable, then it’s wrong. Please know there is help out there if you need it. The damage caused to my mental health lasted many years. I wrongly thought I could change him, that my kindness could heal him if I just stayed long enough, but the longer I stayed the more ‘broken’ I became. Please don’t sacrifice your mental health for the sake of someone else’s, like I did. Take care.

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Product Review – Molytor Hemp Protein Powder

I have been taking CBD oil for nearly 2 years now and I find it very beneficial for my health. Recently I also added a new product to my daily routine – Full Spectrum Hemp protein powder with CBD and CBDa from #Molytor. I was drawn to the protein powder because it combines the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids like CBD and CBDa, and the restoring properties of protein and essential nutrients found in hemp seeds.

When I crash (I have ME/CFS) I struggle to digest solid foods, even the act of chewing is exhausting. I also have a very restricted diet due to many food intolerances. My GP prescribed energy drinks (Ensure) but these are packed full of sugar which, apart from being very unhealthy, are also a trigger for my fibromyalgia pain and IBS. In the past I have struggled to find a healthy drink so I’m really pleased to have this hemp protein powder as an option.

I’m really impressed with this new product from Molytor. It’s easy to incorporate into my diet and I know I am getting a multitude of nutrients along with protein and the benefits of CBD and CBDa. It’s gluten free and contains no added sugar so it doesn’t upset my IBS or trigger my pain.

To get the extra calories I need for my daily intake I just add the hemp protein to smoothies or sprinkle it over food. I also add it to my porridge in the morning – one of the only foods I can digest when I crash. But the powder is so fine it can be added to any food or drink.

Those of you that struggle with the taste of CBD oils may find this product a good option. It has a pleasant nutty taste (slightly grassy) It’s perfect for those who don’t like CBD drops or vapes and it’s much healthier than other CBD edibles like gummies. It contains 3.3mg CBD and 1.3mg CBDA in each teaspoon.

I have already noticed I’m not so ‘stiff’ and my joints are less painful – I think that’s the Omega 3 & 6 working. Another bonus is my skin is less dry and irritated (I have eczema and very sensitive skin) It’s still early days but I’m already impressed with the results so far. It also means I need less CBD oil each day as I’m getting a good chunk of my daily CBD dose through this hemp protein powder.

If you want to find out more about this product please click here: http://www.molytor.co.uk/product-category/hemp-protein-powder/

Why choose hemp protein powder?

Hemp protein powder is made from hemp seeds. Hemp seed is considered by many to be the safest, most digestible, balanced, natural and complete source of protein, amino acids, and essential fats found anywhere in nature, containing all of the 20 amino acids, but also each of the nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce.


Hemp seeds also have anti-inflammatory properties  – Hemp seed contains chlorophyll which gives protein powder its green colour.  Chlorophyll is the green pigment found in plants that provides your body with alkaline protection against inflammation. Hemp protein is also rich in potassium, which can help balance your electrolytes and aid in water balance. CBD and CBDA also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Further reading: https://draxe.com/7-hemp-seed-benefits-nutrition-profile/

Why take CBD and CBDa?

Cannabinoids like CBD and CBDa have many potential therapeutic properties. They work with the body’s native endocannabinoid system which regulates a wide array of the body’s functions like mood, appetite, sleep, hormone production, and even pain and immune system responses. The endocannabinoid system is regularly adjusting these functions in an effort to keep them in balance, Cannabinoids like CBD help to maintain this balance – homeostasis.

I have discussed CBD and CBDa many times on my blog so I won’t repeat myself by going into a lot of detail. If you want to find out more please head over to the CBD section on my website, there are lots of interesting articles. https://www.ajourneythroughthefog.co.uk/category/cbd/

Please note: I am not affiliated with this company, I just really like the product and I wanted to share it with you.

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How to recognize anxiety in yourself.

I can recognise all of these in me except procrastination. I have a complete inability to procrastinate. I’m so impulsive – as soon as I think about something I have to do it. If I wait, my mind just runs through the ‘task’ in my head over and over again, thinking about every possible outcome. These thoughts become so obsessive that I cannot concentrate on anything else and they can last for hours or even days – it’s exhausting and often triggers a panic attack. So I have learnt just to do it when I think about it – where possible.

#ajourneythroughthefog #chronicillness #MECFS #mentalhealthawareness#fibromyalgia #blog #anxiety #depression #selfcare #love

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Be proud of every step you take.

About 5 years ago I had a physical and mental breakdown. At the time I didn’t realise quite how ill I was, as I had a complete disconnect from reality. I was exhausted, my body was fighting back and I didn’t know how to cope with this mentally. My physical health (I have ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia) deteriorated to the point where even speaking caused palpitations and tremors.

The lead up to this breakdown was a particularly stressful time. I was battling anorexia, I was fighting an appeal after having my health benefits removed, my husband had just been made redundant and I was scared I was going to lose my home. I couldn’t understand why my body and mind were failing, I felt like they were betraying me and I didn’t know how to cope.

I was so exhausted that even when resting I had adrenaline coursing through my body, I was in constant fight or flight mode which caused even more exhaustion, made it impossible to rest and sleep, and also heightened my anxiety to a level I had never experienced in my life up until that point.

To try to understand what was happening to me, and in an attempt to ground myself in reality and save my sanity, I started writing a diary.

It’s been over 4 years since I wrote in my diary. I put it aside, too scared to reread what I had written, fearing my raw thoughts and feelings would trigger another breakdown. But I now feel strong enough to face these fears in an attempt to understand what caused such a catastrophic event in my life. What was my mindset? What were my fears? How did I rationalise it? How did I survive it? What will I unearth? What will I learn?

The following are some excerpts from my diary:

The last 6 months have been horrendous. I didn’t realise how mentally and physically ill I had become. My body and mind, after years of stress, anxiety and abuse have given up on me. I’m just surprised it didn’t happen sooner. I’m coming to realise ’the signs’ have been around for years. All problems are linked to anxiety and control, ‘FEARS’ I am fearful of everything.”

“I know I have come a long way but the journey is far from travelled. I should have seen the signs three years ago.”

“Well, I’m learning a lot of very hard lessons about myself. Time to accept I’m currently losing my lifelong battle with anxiety. I need a chill pill, I need to lighten up.”

“Haven’t slept in days. My ME/CFS Is horrendous. Not surprising when sleep and rest are the most important things for recovery. I keep forgetting and confusing words, it’s quite comical really.”

“You are safe, You are calm” [I used to repeat this to myself over and over again when I felt like I was going to die, it was my mantra and the only thing that kept me alive.]

“I’ve got to get over the notion my body is trying to poison me. I’m lucky it’s working at all after what I’ve put it through.” [I had forgotten about this, but I think it was linked to my anorexia. Anytime I ate it aggravated my IBS and caused so much pain, I felt like my body was attacking me.]

“Just when I think I’ve got the hang of something my neurotic mind starts questioning it, it’s my anxiety causing everything.”

“I need to sleep but every time I close my eyes I see the demons.”

“I’m going stir crazy in the house, I need to escape.”

“I stayed comatosed all day trying to avoid a panic attack. Even the slightest movement causes dizziness and palpitations.”

“I didn’t realise how detached I’d become from my own body.”

“I haven’t written in a few days because I’ve been so weak, exhausted and depressed. I truly hit rock bottom. Every little improvement I make only makes me realise how ill I was in the first place and how far I’ve got to go.”

“The last 6 weeks have been the longest of my life. I have been in a daze, out of touch with reality. Sleep deprivation along with anxiety, exhaustion and pain drove me to hit rock bottom. Suicidal thoughts are uncontrollable, I’m not sure I’m strong enough to survive this.”

“I put too much pressure on myself. In my attempt to do ‘anything’ to make myself better, I have pushed myself to break, physically and mentally.”

“My muscles are burning but I keep shivering. I’m so scared I’ve done irreparable damage and this is what my life is going to be like from now on. I cannot contemplate the rest of my life in this torture”

“You f*cked up again!”

“I’m not sure how much longer I can put up with this pain. I need it to stop, I need a break, I would try anything at this point. Please make it stop.”

“I managed to stay calm enough to sleep after taking sedatives, diazepam and sleeping tablets. I know, not good, but I was desperate for a few hours peace.”

“It’s now 6am. I’ve been keeping calm and trying to sleep for the last 8 hours. All I’m achieving is getting more tired, shivery, panicky and frustrated.”

“I’m gonna take today as it comes, no expectations. I’m shattered so hopefully I can just rest and keep my anxiety at a minimum. I’ve given up on thinking I can tackle my anxiety on my own, that will come with medical treatment – just keep it at a manageable level.”

“If I can just stay calm and get some sleep tomorrow will be a better day”

“You’ve come so far, don’t be so hard on yourself, you are doing the best you can.”

“You ARE strong enough to survive this”

What comes across from these words and my handwriting, is how desperate and manic I was. I wrote pages and pages of rambling text, desperate to expel the constant barrage of thoughts from my head, hoping that if I wrote them down, my mind would give me a break. But the more I wrote, the more active my brain became. I was riddled with guilt and convinced it was my fault I had become so ill. I wish I could go back in time and give myself a big hug and say “You have done nothing wrong, it’s going to be ok”.

Even with the trauma I was going through, I am amazed at how positive I was still trying to be. I have always been an optimist but I don’t know how I found the strength to continue to fight through the pain, fatigue, insomnia, confusion and all the scary symptoms that came along with the breakdown.

I ultimately realised, that to get better I had to stop fighting. It was the accumulation of years of fighting my own body and mind that had lead to my breakdown. I now know the importance of rest, self care and reflection, but at the time resting seemed like giving up. Once I stopped fighting, the depression set in, but I will save that discussion for another day. I have come such a long way since those dark days and I often underestimate the achievements and positive steps I’ve made. I don’t give myself time to pause and reflect on the strength it took just to survive. I don’t give myself credit for the life challenges I have survived and continue to battle. I’m still very ill but I’ve come so far and I’m proud of myself for that.

So, from now on, I will take time out from each day to reflect on how bad my health was and how far I have come. It’s an important part of my recovery, which up until now I have neglected. I urge you to do the same. You may not be as far along on your journey as you want to be and there may be times when you take a few steps back, but please celebrate all your achievements, however small. You are doing the best you can. Take care x

“Don’t wait until you reach your goals to be proud of yourself, be proud of every step you take.”

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What I miss about my life before ME/CFS.

I am getting a pair of shoes ready to send to this year’s Millions Missing event. I have been asked to attach a tag with the following information; My name, how long I have been ill and what I’m missing. The ‘What I’m missing’ part got me thinking about the life I have left behind and my emotions hit me like a sledgehammer. So what do I miss?

I miss the simple things – the sun on my face, the breeze blowing in my hair. I miss walking to the local shops just to browse. I miss meeting up for coffee with my best friends and putting the world to rights. I miss sitting in the park watching everybody rush by as they go about their busy lives.

I miss growing my own vegetables – watching a plant grow from seed is so satisfying. I miss nights out with my husband. I miss work. I miss having a purpose in life. I miss being needed. I miss the seaside – the salty smell of the fresh breeze. I miss family gatherings – weddings, birthdays, even funerals. I miss crafting – there is something so rewarding about creating something out of your own imagination. I miss shopping. I miss buying clothes and shoes just because they are pretty – not practical. I miss long relaxing baths.

I miss getting drunk with my friends. I miss music – loud gigs where you have to shout to be heard, even when you are standing next to each other. I miss getting dressed up, doing my hair and makeup – I miss feeling pretty. I miss nature – watching birds bobbing around on the ground looking for food. I miss the vivid colours and the sheer beauty of the world. I miss my Mum, she also has ME/CFS and fibromyalgia so we hardly ever see each other. I miss cooking and baking. I miss caring for my husband and spoiling him with treats I have baked. I miss the satisfaction of a clean house. I miss my tidy house – I hate the clutter I now live in.

I miss travelling – the excitement of discovering new places. I miss making plans. I miss talking for hours about everything and nothing. I miss singing and dancing around the house. I miss laughing so hard my cheeks ache. I miss being spontaneous and carefree – not having to worry about the payback from my adventures.

ME/CFS has stolen so much from me but I have also gained a lot too. Being ill has forced me to pause and think. My life was so hectic and busy before, I didn’t have time to enjoy or appreciate the small things. I have learnt patience and mindfulness. I am thankful for every smile and every happy moment. I have gained so many friends online who have supported me through the tough times. I truly appreciate my dear friends who have stuck by me through everything life has thrown at me, and my life is enriched by their presence. My husband and I are closer than we have ever been and I have learned to appreciate everything about him. I have gained a better understanding of me and ME. I have found my voice and I will continue to write as long as there is someone listening. I am stronger because of what I have endured. Take care x

#ajourneythroughthefog #chronicillness #MECFS #mentalhealthawareness#fibromyalgia #blog #anxiety #depression #selfcare #love

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The doubts and fears are creeping in.

I’m very unsure of myself at the moment. Doubts are creeping in and I’m being over critical about everything I write and everything I post. When I’m like this I get so indecisive and I overthink everything.

Do I sound patronising? Does it sound preachy? Do I sound whiny? Does anyone even care? Why wasn’t that post popular? Why didn’t it get many likes?

I’ve had a lot of success very quickly with my blog but not everything I write is going to get a lot of attention. Not everyone is going to like all my posts, I write about a myriad of subjects which won’t be relatable to everyone. But my anxious brain isn’t always rational, and doesn’t always see this logic, and at the moment it’s taking over.

I think it’s important to challenge these voices, so I decided to write about it.

My blog is actually a selfish endeavour. Yes, I want to reach out and help others, but essentially I’m talking about myself in every post. It’s a platform to give myself a voice, to try to make sense of my life by writing about it. All I’m doing is writing about my own experiences and if other people can relate to them, and gain comfort from knowing they are not alone, then all the anxieties linked to my writing are worth it. But it’s actually quite scary to write about your innermost thoughts, fears and failings, and then publish them for the world to judge.

I’ve long since accepted that my anxiety is always going to be present, I just need to find a way to not let it take over. I was so fearful to start my blog because I was convinced people would judge me – What makes me qualified to discuss these topics?, Why would anyone listen to my thoughts and advice? What makes me so special? But the truth is – everyone has been so supportive and I’m truly grateful for that.

I’m also anxious that people will think I’m only writing this post in attempt to ‘fish for compliments’ but that’s not my motive. By writing about my fears I take away their power over me. By acknowledging my anxieties I hope I can somehow make sense of them.

If I let anxiety rule my life I wouldn’t have even started this blog, I wouldn’t have met all you lovely people and my thoughts, that are now written down, would still be churning around in my overactive mind. If I let my anxieties take over now I wouldn’t be able to write another word, and that would be very sad. So instead I need to try to look past my insecurities and look at the positive steps I have already taken.

When I started my blog I wrote: “I really don’t know the direction this blog is going to take and exactly what I’m going to talk about, but half the fun is not knowing and the prospect of the journey ahead.” My impulsiveness and excitement at the time didn’t leave room for my anxiety to barge through, somehow I need to find that strength and enthusiasm again.

My blog has given me purpose in my life, something I haven’t had for a long while and I’m not going to let anxiety steal that from me. So for now, all I can do is continue to be myself – continue writing about the subjects that interest me and that affect my everyday life. And hopefully along the way I can touch some of your lives too. Take care x

Do any of my fellow bloggers have any wise words they would like to impart? How do you overcome your anxieties and insecurities about your writing? And to all my followers; Do you have any subjects you would like me to talk about?

#ajourneythroughthefog #chronicillness #MECFS #mentalhealthawareness#fibromyalgia #blog #anxiety #depression #selfcare #love #overthinking#health

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The ME/CFS Community needs your help.

The reason I started writing about my experiences was to raise awareness of invisible illnesses like ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia, and to try to reach out to help others who are suffering like myself. I often feel I’m not doing enough to raise awareness, so today’s post is an attempt to rectify this. ME/CFS has the biggest detrimental affect on my life so I’m going to start there. Can you help me?

*What is ME/CFS?

Currently it is estimated that some 250,000 people in Britain are affected by ME/CFS. This figure is estimated to be 17 million worldwide. Yet there is still very little known about this illness and only minimal funding has been made available for research into causes and possible treatments. Patients are still commonly misdiagnosed or told the symptoms are all in their head. There is currently no cure and no universally effective treatment. Those treatments which have helped reduce particular symptoms in some people have unfortunately proved ineffective or even counterproductive in others.

http://www.meassociation.org.uk/about/what-is-mecfs/

*An ME/CFS Revolution

Since the release of the incredibly powerful film Unrest, I feel like a revolution is happening within the ME/CFS community. Our illness is finally being discussed in the mainstream media and we are finally being taken seriously. For years we have fought so hard to have a voice but we have gone unheard.

The ME/CFS community is a community of Fighters. We have had to shout (not literally) to be heard and to battle the stigma of not being believed, and to raise awareness, because if we didn’t do it we would be forgotten.

I have had to fight every step of the way. I had to fight to be taken seriously or just to be listened to by doctors. I had to fight to get a diagnosis. I had to fight to get treatment or access to the medication that could ease my pain. I had to fight to get the health benefits I need to live. I had to fight to get the adaptations and mobility aids I need to function.

I have to fight the stigma and the non believers who say it’s all in my head. I have to fight the pain, the exhaustion and the frustration. I have to fight to stay alive, to battle the often overwhelming despair at not knowing what my future holds. I have to fight when I’m at my most vulnerable and weak.

As a community we are stronger than even we realise. In the midst of despair we do not give up. We may be shut away in darkened rooms but, thanks to the internet, we keep fighting from our beds. We write blogs, books and poetry. We create documentaries and videos. We create art, compile petitions and organise demos. We organise fundraisers and support each other at every opportunity. I am so proud to be part of this community.

Will you fight with us?

But sometimes we don’t have the strength to fight. Is there any wonder that the suicide rate is higher with ME/CFS sufferers than the general population? We spend so much of our life fighting, there comes a time when we don’t have the strength to fight anymore.

What I’m asking all of you, the non ME/CFS community, is; Will you fight with us? Help us raise awareness. Watch and share the film Unrest (it’s now available on Netflix). Talk about ME/CFS at every opportunity. Join the MEActionUK Network. Ask how you can help. Get involved with the Millions Missing UK events which are occurring around the globe on the 12th of May. Help us raise funds to enable research into this debilitating condition and possible treatments. But most importantly, believe us and don’t give up on us. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Take care.

Please share and help me raise awareness.

#ajourneythroughthefog #chronicillness #MECFS #mentalhealthawareness#fibromyalgia #blog #anxiety #depression #selfcare #love #meaction#missingmillions #unrest

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Why does my husband stay when my chronic illness makes me such a burden?

I found this piece particularly difficult to write as it stirs up some very raw emotions and fears which, although I try my best to ignore, are a constant source of anxiety in my life.

Everyone living with a chronic illness or mental illness, that impacts greatly on their life, and who has a partner, has asked themselves these questions multiple times;

Why does my partner stay with me? What do they gain from our relationship? What can I offer them as a ‘broken’ partner? Why do they put up with the daily struggles when they are not their own? Why don’t they opt for an easier life and walk away? How can they still love me after everything they have had to endure?

I have asked myself and my husband these questions many times. I am lucky enough to have a supportive and loving partner but surely even he has his limits?

When my health is at its worst, I’m not an easy person to be around, in fact I’m not even a nice person to be around. Pain makes me grumpy and short tempered. Anxiety makes very hard work, I constantly need reassuring about even the smallest details. Exhaustion means I am unable to do the fun things couples do together, that we used to do together. My hypersensitivity means I shun away from conversations and physical interactions because they are just too painful. Depression means I isolate myself and push him away. We, as a couple, have had to make a lot of sacrifices and adaptations to our life because of MY illnesses.

I am riddled with guilt for everything I put my husband through, for the life he has lost and for the burden I am to him. He married an able bodied, healthy woman, he didn’t sign up for this. I feel so guilty for all of this, but I do what I can within the limitations my ill health places on me. We all feel this guilt. Jennifer Brea touches on it in her film Unrest, which documents her struggles with ME/CFS. In the following conversation she has with her husband Omar, she states;

Jennifer; “I feel like I’m robbing you [of your life] and I’m hurting you.. I think that’s just really hard…”

Omar’s response; “All I can tell you, love, is I am so grateful that you are in my life. You know if I can talk to you? If I can like hold you tight…. I’m good.”

So, why does my husband stay? His response has always been the same; “Because I love you.

He has continued to love me even when I hated myself. He’s continued to love me even when I pushed him away. He has continued to love me even when I’ve snapped at him for no reason. He’s continued to love me even when I shut myself away and gave up.

He continues to love me even when I can’t bear his touch because it’s too painful. He continues to love me even when I’m an anxious mess, and when that anxiety manifests itself as anger. He continues to love me even when I’m too exhausted to even speak. He continues to love me even though I live the majority of my life from my bed.

Why? Because even through all these challenges we still have fun, we still manage to laugh, we still manage to find ways to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy life… Or maybe it’s because he loves me enough to endure these challenges with me, my struggles are his struggles. Maybe he loves me enough to adapt his life around my ill health. Maybe he loves me enough not to want to see me suffer alone. His presence makes my life worth living.

I know I’m extremely lucky to have such a patient and supportive husband, and there have been many times when I haven’t deserved him. So, this is dedicated to my awesome husband, I love you, thank you for putting up with me. Thank you for reassuring me when my anxiety takes over. Thank you for giving me confidence when I doubt myself. Thank you for giving me space when I’m too exhausted to speak. Thank you for not judging me when I’m depressed and wallow in self pity. Thank you for making me laugh with your outrageous humour when everything gets too much to bear. Thank you for your gentle touch when I’m in pain. Thank you for being my nurse, my carer, my therapist, my best friend and my soulmate.

#ajourneythroughthefog #chronicillness #MECFS #mentalhealthmatters#fibromyalgia #blog #anxiety #depression #selfcare #love #guilt #spoonies

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