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?

For more personal stories, reviews, news, inspirational quotes and in-depth discussion, please head over to my Facebook page.

A Comprehensive Beginners Guide to Buying CBD Products.

As CBD becomes more popular, the range of options available grows. In the UK we have a thriving CBD market but not all products are equal, and sadly not all suppliers are what they seem. So how do you decide what CBD products to try and how do you avoid being ripped off? How do you choose a safe, legal and effective CBD product for your needs?

The following is designed as an aid to guide beginners in choosing effective and safe CBD products. The amount of information may seem overwhelming to begin with but taking the time to educate yourself now could save you a lot of money and frustration in the long run.

What is CBD?

Firstly, let’s establish what CBD is. In simple terms, Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most prevalent chemical compounds (cannabinoids) in the cannabis plant. Unlike the more famous molecule, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is non psychoactive so therefore will not get you high. It’s legal and safe, and has been shown to have many potential therapeutic benefits.

How does CBD work within our bodies?

Without getting too technical, CBD and other cannabinoids in CBD products, interact with the body’s native endocannabinoid system. This system, found in all mammals, is tasked with regulating 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.

A properly functioning endocannabinoid system is crucial for our health and well-being. It serves the vital purpose of ensuring our cells maintain optimum performance. CBD helps our endocannabinoid system make adjustments to bring our bodies back into balance, or homeostasis.

CBD delivery methods.

CBD comes in many forms including oil and paste (oral use), vape liquids, capsules, edibles, tea and topical balms or creams. Which method of consumption you choose is largely down to personal preference but the bioavailability (absorption rate) varies with each method. I will discuss this further in a later post.

What are you looking to treat?

Your reason for taking CBD will affect the product you buy. Different cannabinoids and terpenes have different potential therapeutic benefits. By looking at the lab reports for each CBD product you can match a CBD product to your individual needs.

What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are a large class of chemical compounds produced by the cannabis plant. CBD is not the only Cannabinoid found in Cannabis. In fact, scientists have identified over 113 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, each interacts with the endocannabinoid system in different ways. For example, a CBD product with high levels of CBDa may be effective for pain conditions because CBDa is a good anti inflammatory. While a CBD product with added CBG may be good for anxiety and insomnia, due to it’s relaxing properties.

Some of the main cannabinoids and their characteristics:

CBD – Antibacterial. Promotes bone growth, Reduces seizures. Reduces blood sugar. Reduces inflammation. Reduces vomiting and nausea. Relieves pain. Neuro- protective. Inhibits cancer cell growth. Relieves anxiety.

CBDa – Reduces inflammation. Inhibits cancer cell growth

CBG – Aids sleep. Relieves anxiety. Muscle relaxant. Slows bacterial growth. Promotes bone growth. Relieves pain.

CBC – Inhibits cancer cell growth. Promotes bone growth. Reduces inflammation. Relieves pain.  

THC and CBN are controlled substances in the UK. Therefore, for a CBD product to be legal, it must only contain trace amounts (below 0.2%) of these compounds.

What are terpenes?

Cannabinoids are not the only compounds found in Cannabis. Terpenes are fragrant oils that give cannabis its aromatic diversity. Terpenes, like cannabinoids, interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. They also have their own individual beneficial properties, and when taken alongside cannabinoids, produce what’s called the Entourage Effect. So when looking for the right CBD product for you, the terpene profile is also an important consideration.

Some if the main terpenes and their characteristics:

Pinene – Anti inflammatory. Anti bacterial. Aids memory. Promotes alertness.

Myrcene – Sedative. Sleep aid. Muscle relaxant.

Limonene – Treats acid reflux. Anti anxiety. Antidepressant. Relaxing.

Terpinolene – Analgesic. Pain reduction. Digestive aid.

Linalool – Anti convulsive. Analgesic. Anti anxiety. Promotes relaxation.

Terpineol– Calming aid. Antibacterial. Antiviral.

Caryophyllene– Anti inflammatory. Analgesic.

Humulene – Anti inflammatory.

Extraction method.

The most popular extraction method is CO2 extraction – this allows for plant extraction without using harmful chemicals.  Alcohol extraction is another method used but if, like myself, you are sensitive to alcohol, this should be avoided. Alcohol extraction in the hands of amateurs or scammers can lead to an unsafe CBD product but in the hands of experienced professionals it is an effective and safe extraction process.

Carrier oil.

CBD oil contains a hemp extract which is mixed with a carrier oil. Hemp oil, olive oil and MCT oil are popular choices. For some people, like myself, the type of carrier oil is important. Whether down to personal taste (some carrier oils are more palatable) or allergies or intolerances, the type carrier oil may need to be considered when choosing your CBD oil. I personally avoid olive oil as it aggravates my IBS and acid reflux, but we all react differently.

How to stay safe and avoid scammers.

As CBD becomes more popular, more amateurs and scammers are jumping on the bandwagon. Please stay safe by following some simple rules. By carrying out the following checks you can minimise your likelihood of being ripped off:

Get recommendations. This could be from friends or from an unaffiliated CBD support group.

Do they provide third party verifiable lab reports on request? All reputable companies will be happy to provide lab reports that prove the purity and potency of their CBD products.

Does the price match the potency advertised? Price is often an indicator that a CBD product may not be as it seems. Whether misleading labelling or down right lying about the CBD content – if it seems to good to be true, it often is.

Are the company happy to answer your questions or do they seem guarded and suspicious? A reputable company will be happy to provide you with any information they have about their CBD products.

Are they members of the CTA UK? Although not a legal requirement, to become a CTA member certain checks have to take place.

Is the company making medical claims? CBD is sold as a food supplement in the UK. To sell CBD legally companies are not allowed to make medical claims. If a company is doing so, it may be an indication that they are not reputable.

The Cannabis Trade Association UK (CTA UK).

If you don’t feel confident carrying out your own checks on potential suppliers, then buying from a CTA member or registered company could be a good choice. The CTA UK works with all sectors of the hemp and cannabis industry to promote good practice, provide practical advice and ensure consumers of legal cannabis and hemp products have access to top quality information. They also carry out checks on all members. Please note it’s not a legal requirement for CBD companies to register with the CTA, so just because a company is not a member, does not mean they are not reputable.

For more information please visit their website http://cannabistrades.uk/

Labelling.

CBD products are labelled with either milligrams (mg) of CBD or the percentage of CBD, and sometimes both are present. For example; 500mg of CBD within a 10ml bottle of CBD oil is 5% strength. The 500mg refers to the total CBD contained within the 10ml bottle, while the 5% refers to the concentration of CBD.

Unfortunately labelling is not standard across all CBD products. Some companies take advantage of potential customers lack of understanding. Educate yourself so you do not become a target. The labelling should state total amount of CBD per product but unfortunately some companies deliberately confuse customers by stating the amount of hemp extract in the product, or the percentage of CBD in the extract, rather than the total CBD.  For example; if the hemp extract used contains 15% CBD and they use 1000mg of extract to make a 10ml bottle of CBD oil – some companies would label this CBD oil as 15% or 1000mg (10%), when in reality it’s only 150mg (1.5%).

If in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for the lab report, be direct and ask if the percentage or mg refers to the total CBD in the product or just the extract. If you are still insure, join a CBD support group and ask lots of questions or even better, choose a supplier with clear and transparent labelling.

Lab reports.

Reputable companies will provide lab reports for their CBD products. These are important as they confirm the safety and potency of the product, but they also allow you to match your needs to the individual CBD product. Some, or all of the following information should be on the report:

  • Potency testing
  • Pesticide testing
  • Microbiological testing
  • Terpene profile
  • Cannabinoid profile
  • Residual solvents testing

Unfortunately some unscrupulous suppliers may attempt to forge or edit lab reports, so it’s important you carry out a few simple checks. You need to be able to verify the report is genuine, and for the company and product stated. To do this you need to check the report has the following information:

  • Name and contact information of the lab company.
  • Is the name of the client the same as the name on the product you purchased (final product)?
  • Is the name of the product tested the same as label on the product you purchased (final product)?
  • Does the report look like it has been edited?

Strength of the CBD product.

A common misconception is that you need a high strength CBD product for it to be effective. In most cases, starting with a high strength can actually be detrimental, and a low and slow method of introducing CBD is preferable.

There are a few reason to start low and slow:

  • You need to give your endocannabinoid receptors time to become more active.
  • CBD works in a bell curve so once you reach optimal symptom relief, more CBD does not mean more relief.
  • Cannabinoids like CBD has biphasic properties, which means that low and high doses of the same substance can produce opposite effects, so CBD can have different effects at different doses. For some that can mean high doses of CBD are sedating but for others, high doses cause heightened anxiety or paranoia.
  • Also, we all react differently, some people are naturally sensitive to CBD, while others may find they are allergic or intolerant to the ingredients in CBD products. Taking a low dose to begin with gives you the chance to test how your body reacts without overloading it.

Therefore, taking a CBD product that is too strong, too soon is not only a waste of money, but it can also have a negative effect on your health.

It needs to be noted that certain conditions, like epilepsy may need higher doses of CBD from the outset, so what condition you are looking to treat is also an important consideration.

Dosing.

While we all react differently to CBD, a low and slow approach to introducing CBD is often recommended. But what does this mean? In terms of CBD oils, a strength of between 2.5- 5% is ideal, starting with approximately 1 drop, 3 times a day. This equates to a starting dose of 2-3mg, 2-3 times a day. It’s best to stick to this dose for about a week and then slowly increase until you get the desired results. As I mentioned previously, the low and slow approach may not be suitable for conditions involving seizures, like epilepsy.

Full spectrum vs CBD isolate.

There are CBD products on the market that contain CBD alone (made from CBD isolate), and others that contain an array of cannabinoids and terpenes. But what is the difference? As I have discussed, each cannabis compound has its own potential therapeutic benefits. Therefore a product containing a full array of cannabinoids and terpenes should have a more beneficial effect on the body than one made from CBD alone. The combined benefits of all the compounds found in Cannabis in known as the Entourage Effect – the combined effect is greater than the individual components. Therefore a full spectrum CBD product is seen as being superior to a CBD only product.

It is also worth noting that, CBD oils and edibles made from CBD isolate, are now banned under the Novel Foods Act.

Price.

I know price is a big consideration for a lot of people but please don’t base your choice of CBD product solely on price. No matter how cheap a product is, it is still a waste of money if it doesn’t contain the cannabinoids and terpenes needed to be effective for your personal health challenges. Also, price does not always reflect quality. Just because a CBD product is expensive does not mean it’s superior or the right product for you.

Indica vs Sativa.

Please don’t be mislead by the Indica/Sativa debate – it’s really just a marketing term. Apart from the legality of Indica strains (which I’m not going to delve into here), the truth is, once the THC has been removed from the equation, the strain is irrelevant. CBD is CBD no matter what strain it comes from. Whether a CBD product produces a relaxing or stimulating effect is due to the array of cannabinoids and terpenes present, not the strain.

For example a CBD product containing higher levels of CBG and Myrcene (terpene) will have a more relaxing effect, while one containing more Pinene (terpene) may cause you to be more alert. Also we all react differently to CBD. Some people naturally find CBD stimulating while for others it can have a sedating effect.

Join a CBD support group.

I know there is a lot of information to take in, but by doing a bit of research before starting your CBD journey, you can save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run.

If you would like to find out more about CBD, I help run a CBD support group here on Facebook. All advice and information given is impartial and unbiased. 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/CBDusersUK/

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to ask any questions about CBD, I will do my best to answer them. Good luck on your CBD Journey.

I have lots more CBD related articles on my website. Please click here to read them:  https://www.ajourneythroughthefog.co.uk/category/cbd/

I’m also on Facebook if you would like to follow me:

https://www.facebook.com/ajourneythroughthefog/

Have you tried CBD? How has CBD helped you?

Please note: I am not a medical professional. Although CBD is sold as a food supplement in the UK, it can interact with certain medication. I would always recommend you speak to your pharmacist or GP about any possible interactions.

https://cbdoilreview.org/cbd-cannabidiol/cbd-p-450-enzyme/

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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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Depression: Coping when our loved ones are also ill

From the Blurt Foundation

Living with depression is incredibly difficult; not just for those of us who are unwell, but for our loved ones too. There’s not one area of our lives that depression doesn’t touch.

When a loved one has depression, we feel the effects of the illness on our relationships, and we often feel helpless, confused and uncertain. When we have depression, and have a loved one who also has depression, it can feel impossible to navigate. Depression can affect different people in different ways. It’s tough on our psyche to both simultaneously need support, and to want to do all that we can to give it – especially as there’s a shared understanding of the illness.

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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My CBD Journey

I can’t tell my story without discussing CBD (Cannabidiol). It’s made a big positive impact in my life and I would like to share my experiences with you.

I’ve been virtually bedbound with severe ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia for about 5 years now. I also suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, depression, osteoporosis, migraines and insomnia. Desperate to find anything to help I searched the internet for possible treatments and came across CBD.

Being diagnosed with an incurable and largely untreatable condition is devastating. You will go to any lengths and try almost anything to relieve your systems, and believe me, the internet is full of crazy ideas and promises of cures. While searching through the myriad of possible ‘cures’ I came across CBD. I did a lot of research and it seemed to be a promising treatment. So, about 2 years ago I started taking CBD oil.

If I’m honest I didn’t expect much but I was willing to try anything at this stage. I was pleasantly surprised. I noticed an almost instant improvement in my anxiety levels and my general well-being. It took quite a lot of trial and error to find the right oil to tackle my pain but for the first time in years I could see a future for myself.

My pain is now a lot more manageable and I can finally sleep. It’s very effective for my everyday pain and my flares are less frequent. When I do have a flare it helps me stay calm which I find is half the battle. Unfortunately it doesn’t take away the ‘flare’ pain but it does ‘numb’ it. I’ve managed to wean myself off Tramadol, Propranolol and sleeping tablets and Omeprazole (gradually) and I feel so much better for it. If you choose to reduce your medication please do so under the supervision of your GP

To begin with I only noticed a slight improvement in my fatigue but I have severe ME and it’s taken years for my body to get this weak and exhausted. After a few months of sleeping better and with reduced pain and anxiety levels my body has started to respond. I have less fatigue and flu-like symptoms. I don’t crash as much and they are not as severe even though my activity levels have actually increased. With every day that goes by I feel physically and mentally stronger. Considering I’ve spent the last 20+ years with my health deteriorating this is a huge step for me.

I don’t want to give people false hope. CBD is not a miracle cure or a quick fix. It hasn’t taken away my symptoms but it has allowed me to manage them far more effectively than any prescription medication ever has and without all the nasty side effects. But you still need to listen to your body, pace yourself and rest when you feel a flare coming on.

The reality is, I am still very poorly, but compared to 5 years ago, and before I started taking CBD oil, I have made a lot of progress. Back then I couldn’t even hold a conversation or read one sentence on my mobile due to exhaustion and cognitive problems. I was having multiple panic attacks a day because my body and mind were so broken. I wasn’t sleeping – at all. My pain levels were uncontrollable and I was completely isolated and suicidal. It’s taken time but I now write a blog and have a very active presence on social media. My anxiety and pain levels are much more manageable. I’m sleeping for the first time in years without the aid of sleeping tablets. My body and mind are stronger and I haven’t had any suicidal thoughts for over 3 years. I believe a lot of this is down to CBD, it has given me the breathing space I need to rest and repair.

I believe it’s important to take an holistic approach when dealing with your health and well being. I have developed a number of coping mechanisms over the years and have found a combination of things that have helped to improve my overall health. CBD is just one part of this but it has made a big impact in my life.

Please note I am not a medical professional and I can only comment on my own experiences. Please speak to your GP before taking CBD as it can interact with some medication. Please include your GP in any treatment changes.

Have you tried CBD? What improvements have you noticed?

if you would like to learn more about CBD please read my ‘Comprehensive beginners guide to buying CBD products’

A Comprehensive Beginners Guide to Buying CBD Products.

What is CBD? FAQs

#ajourneythroughthefog
#CBD
#CBDusersuk

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How do you find the strength to keep fighting when you have an incurable illness?

I’m an optimist, I’m a fighter and I’m a problem solver. But when you are struck down with an incurable and largely untreatable illness, where no amount of fighting will make you better, and your future is so uncertain, what do you do? How do you stay true to yourself and not give up? How do you wake up each morning and continue to fight? How do you stay optimistic when there appears to be no hope of recovery? How do you solve your problems when even the most intelligent minds do not know the cause of your illness? How do you convince yourself that tomorrow will be a better day, just to give you the strength to continue, when each day is such a struggle? How do you accept the limited life you have now, compared to the limitless one you once had?

You take one day at a time. You choose your battles and let go of the ones that serve no purpose except to exhaust you. You celebrate even the smallest achievements. You laugh when you can and cry when you need to. You learn to accept what you cannot control and work your hardest to change what you can. You learn your limitations and you adapt, but that doesn’t mean giving up. You appreciate each day because your future is so uncertain. You learn to forgive yourself and others. You learn compassion. You fight to raise awareness and understanding. You never lose hope because some days that’s all you have.

Living with a chronic illness is not a death sentence. It can be bloody hard but it makes you appreciate so much. It makes you appreciate your friends who have stuck by you even when you had given up on yourself. It makes you appreciate your family who love you no matter how many mistakes you make. It makes you appreciate your loving husband who didn’t sign up for this, who married an able bodied, happy and healthy woman, but still loves you just the same. You appreciate every smile and every happy moment. You appreciate life. Take care x

#ajourneythroughthefog #chronicillness #ME #mentalhealthawareness#fibromyalgia #blog #anxiety #depression #selfcare #love #incurableillness

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Coping with suicidal thoughts


If you are thinking about suicide, you are not alone. Many people have thoughts of suicide, for a number of reasons. Thoughts of suicide can be very scary. You probably feel hurt, confused, overwhelmed and hopeless about your future. You may feel sadness, grief, anger, guilt, shame, or emptiness. You may think that nothing can be done to change your situation. Your feelings may seem like they are just too much to handle right now. It is important to know that thinking about suicide does not mean that you will lose control or act on these thoughts. Having thoughts of suicide does not mean you are weak, or ‘crazy’. Many people think about suicide because they are looking for a way to escape the pain they are feeling.

What should you do if you are seriously thinking about suicide?

Even though your situation seems hopeless and you wonder if you can stand another minute of feeling this bad, there are ways to get through this and feel better. You don’t have to face this situation alone. Help is
available. Here are a few ideas that you can use right now.

Connect with others.
If you are worried that you may lose control or do something to hurt yourself, tell someone. Make sure you are around someone you trust. If you live alone, ask a friend or family member to stay with you. If you don’t know anyone or can’t reach friends or family members, call your local crisis line.

Keep your home safe by getting rid of ways to hurt yourself.
It is important to get rid of things that could be used to hurt or kill yourself, such as pills or razor blades If you are unable to do so, go to a place you can feel safe.

Develop a safety plan.
It is very helpful to have a written safety plan when you have thoughts of hurting yourself. Have a trusted family member, friend, or professional help you to complete this safety plan. Keep this plan somewhere you can see or find easily. Write down the steps you will take to keep yourself safe (see the following example). Follow the steps. If you follow these steps and still do not feel safe, call a crisis line, get yourself to a hospital A&E or call 999

Safety Plan.
If you have thoughts of hurting yourself, start at Step 1. Go through each step until you are safe.

Remember: Suicidal thoughts can be very strong. It may seem they will last forever. With support and time, these thoughts will usually pass. When they pass, you can put energy into sorting out problems that have contributed to you feeling so badly. The hopelessness you may feel now will not last forever. It is important to reach out for help and support. You can get through this difficult time. Since it can be hard to focus and think clearly when you feel suicidal, please copy this and put in places where you can easily use it, such as your purse, wallet or by the phone.

1. Do the following activities to calm/comfort myself: e.g. listening to music, reading, watching TV, chat to friends online, mindfulness meditation.

2. Remind myself of my reasons for living: See List of reasons to live (below)

3. Call a friend or family member:
Name: Phone:

4. Call a backup person if person above is not available:
Name: Phone:

5. Call your GP or mental health provider:
Name: Phone:

6. Call my local crisis line:
Phone:

7. Go somewhere I am safe:

8. Go to the A&E at the nearest hospital.

List of reasons to live.
When we are suicidal we often don’t think clearly. By focusing on the reasons we have to stay alive we can break the cycle of negative thoughts. At a time when I felt emotionally stronger, I compiled a list of reasons to live. I wrote them in a pretty notebook along with photos of loved ones and images to stimulate happier thoughts. I look at this notebook whenever I’m depressed and have suicidal thoughts.

Take further steps to decrease thoughts of suicide

Problem solve.
It is always helpful to think of ways other than suicide that you can solve your problems. Focus on what you can change and try not to stress about what you have no control over.

Make a list of all the problems you are dealing with in your life. Then make a list of all the solutions you can think of to those problems. Dealing with 1 or 2 small problems can help to put an end to immediate feelings of suicide. Once you are thinking more clearly, you can tackle other bigger problems.

Remember things that have helped in the past.
Many people have had thoughts of suicide before. Think of some of the things that helped you feel better when you faced the same types of problems in the past. Some examples are:

Reaching out to family and friends.
*Seeing a professional
*Going to a support group
*Following a safety plan
*Doing something you enjoy
*Not being alone
*Keeping a diary.

Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or professional.
It is important to speak to someone you trust about how you feel. Sometimes just talking about how you feel can help. It is important to be open about all of your thoughts. People often say they are relieved that they shared how they felt with someone. Talking can help you feel less alone.

Get treatment for mental health problems.
Seek professional help, depression and suicidal thoughts are a burden you cannot carry alone.

Take steps to decrease the chance that you will feel suicidal in the future

Get professional support.

Identify high risk triggers or situations.
Think about the situations or factors that increase your feelings of despair and thoughts of suicide. Work to avoid those situations.

Self-care.
Taking good care of yourself is important
to feel better. It is important to do the following:
• eat a healthy diet
• get some exercise every day
• get a good night’s sleep
• decrease or stop using alcohol or drugs, as these can make feelings of depression and suicide worse.

Follow through with prescribed medications.
If you take prescription medications, it is important to make sure you take them as your doctor directed. Speak to your doctor if you don’t feel like your medication is working.

Structure and routine.
Keep a regular routine as much as possible, even when your feelings seem out of control.

Do things you enjoy.
When you are feeling very low, do an activity you enjoy. You may find that very
few things bring you pleasure. Think of things you used to enjoy doing at times you didn’t feel so depressed or suicidal. Do these things, even if they don’t bring you enjoyment right now. Giving yourself
a break from suicide thoughts can help, even if it’s for a short time.

Think of personal goals.
Think of personal goals you have for yourself, or that you’ve had in the past. Giving yourself something to focus on distracts you from your negative thoughts but also gives you a sense of achievement and a reason to wake up in the morning.

If you are feeling suicidal or know someone that is, there are organisations that can help:

https://www.mind.org.uk/…/types-of-ment…/suicidal-feelings/…

https://www.samaritans.org/

https://www.papyrus-uk.org/#

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#suicidalthoughts
#depression
#mentalhealthawareness #suicide #suicideprevention

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Digital tools to help you manage and improve your health

I recently came across this list of apps and online courses which are designed to help you manage and improve your health, so I thought I would share it.

I personally use an app called FibroMapp. It’s a great app that helps you monitor your symptoms and activity levels, and keep track of your medication. There is a diary function and you can compile graphs and reports, which visually show the fluctuation of your symptoms. By using this app I have been able to identify a number of pain triggers which I was previously unaware of.

Do you use any health and wellbeing apps that you would recommend to others? It could be a meditation app or a symptom, sleep or exercise tracker, or maybe a motivational app.

*I am thinking of compiling a list of the best health Apps so your comments may be used in a future post*

https://apps.beta.nhs.uk/…

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Practical Solutions to Everyday Spoonie Problems


Having a chronic illness like ME/CFS or Fibromyalgia means everyday tasks can be challenging, exhausting and painful. But there are steps we can take to make life easier, to limit the stress caused and to conserve our energy for more enjoyable activities. Here are some practical solutions to everyday problems.

I’m too weak to lift everyday objects.

Some everyday objects like kettles, crockery and food containers can be too heavy to lift but you can replace them with lighter alternatives.

  • Kettle. Try using a ‘One Cup’ kettle. It only dispenses one cup of boiling water at a time. You don’t have to lift it, as the water is dispensed straight into the cup of your choice. It doesn’t take long to boil (about 90 secs) so you don’t have to stand for long.
  • Crockery. Try replacing traditional crockery and glassware with plastic alternatives. You can buy heat resistant plastic bowls, cups, plates and glasses. Picnic sets are a good option.
  • Heavy jars and food containers. Decant the contents into lighter and smaller plastic containers.

If you also struggle turning taps on and off, place a few plastic glasses in your bedroom and kitchen, which are prefilled with tap water by your carer or partner. Keeping hydrated is important for your health.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I’m hypersensitive to everything.

A very challenging symptom of ME/CFS is hypersensitivity. Common sensitivities include noise, light, smells, chemicals, medication and certain foods. The following can help reduce the impact and pain caused by hypersensitivity.

  • Blackout blinds
  • Ear plugs
  • Sunglasses
  • Use Chemical free products
  • Use Unfragranced skincare and washing products.
  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • Remote controlled/dimmer light switch. This me I can control the brightness of the light in my room from my bed.
  • Different coloured bulbs/lighting.

    Everything is painful against my skin

When you have a painful condition like Fibromyalgia everything that touches your skin can cause pain. A few solutions I’ve found for this are:

  • Wear your clothes inside out because the seams cause pain. You can also buy seam free clothing.
  • Wear Strapless tops.
  • Avoid underwire bras
  • Choose your fabric carefully both for clothing and bedding.
  • Buy baggy clothing.
  • Avoid clothing with hoods e.g. hooded dressing gowns or hoodies.
  • Avoid heavy fabrics or clothing.
  • Cut your hair short. My long hair on the back of my neck and shoulders was causing me a lot of pain, so I cut it short. It may seem drastic but it made a big positive impact on my health and it will grow back. Scarves, hats and wigs are always an option when you have visitors, if you feel self conscious.

 Conversations are exhausting.

Holding conversations can be particularly challenging and exhausting, so why not try the following;

  • Limit time talking on the phone. Most things can be done online these days and it means you can do things in your own time.
  • Speak to friends about not calling. Instead you can converse online.
  • Code words for everyday tasks. When my ME/CFS is at its worst I struggle to speak at all. My husband and I have developed code words for simple tasks that need doing, so I only have to say one word rather than a sentence or two. It’s like our own private language.
  • Record instructions to carers or visitors in advance on a voice recorder. I frequently have new carers so I have recorded a list of instructions on my voice recorder so I don’t have to keep repeating myself, it also helps combat brain fog.
  • Compile a handbook with a list of tasks and instructions.

 

Brain fog

Even remembering the simplest tasks can seem impossible when you suffer from brain fog. Here are a few practical ways to combat this:

  • Calendar reminders. Use the calendar function on your mobile to set reminders.
  • Voice recorder. I record my thoughts, to do lists, emails I need to type, ideas for new blog posts, instructions to carers and much more on my voice recorder. I would be lost without it.
  • Pen and paper or post-it notes. If you don’t have a voice recorder these will do.
  • Routine. I find sticking to a strict routine is essential for combating brain fog.
  • Everything has its place. I always know where to go to find what I need e.g. medication. It’s important to stay organised.

 

Showering/bathing is exhausting.

People that suffer from ME/CFS are often too weak to get in and out of the bath, and showering can be very painful and exhausting. Try these tips to reduce the stress caused:

  • Only shower once a week. I know some people may find this disgusting but it takes me days to recover from a shower, so I don’t have an alternative. Wet wipes, panty liners and dry shampoo are a spoonies best friend.
  • Shower stool. Aids like shower stools and grab rails can make showering less exhausting.
  • Routine. Find a quick routine that works for you and stick to it.
  • Ask for help. Ask someone to run water for you. Ask someone to lay out your clothes and towel ready for when you get out.
  • Wall mounted shampoo and soap dispenser. You may not be able to lift heavy shampoo and shower gel bottles. A wall mounted dispenser is a good alternative.
  • Cut your hair short. It used to take me ages to wash and dry my very long, thick hair. It was exhausting and painful. I now have very short hair which times a minute to wash and I can leave it to air dry.
  • Keep wet wipes by your bed so your can freshen up when you need to.

 

I can’t prepare food or drinks myself.

One of the most frustrating obstacles I have to overcome is, I can’t prepare food or drinks for myself. I am lucky enough to have care workers that prepare my food for me, but I have to be able to feed myself when they are not about.

  • Snacks. Have a selection of snacks at easy reach of your bed or bedroom.
  • Cool bag. If you struggle walking to the fridge or opening the door because it’s too heavy, why not try using a cool bag. You can place it in your bedroom and access fresh food when you need it. My care workers prepare my lunch in the morning and put it in the cool bag along with an ice block.
  • Batch prepare food. Ask your partner, friend or family member to help you prepare food for the week.
  • Water cups. I have a few plastic glasses in my bedroom and kitchen which are filled with tap water by my care worker or husband because I struggle using the taps.
  • Coffee or tea and sugar already in cups.Thanks to the One Cup kettle I can prepare my own hot drinks when I’m alone but I struggle standing long enough to place the coffee granules and sugar in the cup. So my husband does this for me in advance and places a few cups by the kettle.

 

I have limited mobility.

There are many mobility aids you can use and adaptations that can be made to your surroundings. Don’t be too proud to use aids that will make your life easier.

    • Walking stick
    • Wheelchair
    • Walker
    • Neck and back brace
    • Perching Stools
    • Hospital/adjustable bed
    • Convert bathroom to a wet room
    • Grab rails
    • Riser recliner chairs
    • Reaching aids like Grabbers
    • Raised furniture

Please note: If you live in the UK and you’re disabled or have a long-term illness, you shouldn’t be charged VAT on products designed or adapted for your own personal or domestic use. For more information please follow this link:
https://www.gov.uk/financial-help-disabled/vat-relief

  • Anything I use regularly, I keep in easy reach of my bed e.g. medication, wet wipes or bottle of water.
  • Keep your mobile phone at easy reach. It can be used to text or call someone in an emergency or just to communicate with other people in your home e.g. if they are upstairs and you need assistance.
  • Plug appliances you use regularly into a remote controlled socket. That way you can turn them off from your bed.
  • Remote controlled light switch. I have one of these in my bedroom and it means I can dim and turn off my main light from my bed.

 

I’m always too hot or too cold.

I find it impossible to regulate my body temperature. Depending on how I feel on alternate between the following products:

  • Heated Throw
  • Rechargeable hand warmer
  • Ice packs
  • Electric fan
  • Cold wet flannels
  • Hot water bottles

 

I can’t answer the front door.

Sometimes we are not strong enough to walk to the front door to answer it. Here are a few solutions:

  • Install a Key safe for care workers, medical professionals, friends and family. The added bonus of a key safe is, if you have a bad fall and have to call on the emergency services they can enter your house without having to force the lock.
  • Install an Intercom system.
  • You can get basic Intercom systems where you can speak to visitors or more advanced ones which also include a camera. These are great for communicating with visitors without having to walk to the front door. You can turn unwanted visitors away without leaving your bed or direct wanted visitors to your key safe so they can let themselves in.
  • Keep your mobile phone at easy reach so you can call someone in an emergency.
  • Arrange parcels to be delivered to friends, family or neighbours or have a safe place where parcels can be left.
  • Arrange deliveries for when your partner, friends or family will be at home.

 

I’m bored. I have too much time to think.

When you are too exhausted to socialise or even watch TV, boredom can set in. Boredom can lead to an overactive or anxious mind. Why not try:

  • Reading
  • Audio books. For the times when even physically reading is too exhausting, audiobooks are a great alternative.
  • E-readers like Kindle are a great, lighter option to physical books. You can also adjust the text size if you have trouble focusing due to fatigue.
  • Listening to Music or the Radio.
  • Download free Podcasts
  • Mindfulness Meditation. Calms anxiety and is great for general well being. There are many apps you can download for free.
  • Social media. Interact with friends online. There are plenty of distractions on social media and there is always someone about 24/7 for the nights you are unable to sleep.
  • Colouring books. A good distraction and a way to practise your creativity.

Do you have any tips you would like to add?

#ajourneythroughthefog #chronicillness #ME #fibromyalgia #blog#invisibleillness

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