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

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

My CBD Journey

I can’t tell my story without discussing CBD. 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 4 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, 16 months 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.

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 the posts in the CBD category, located : https://www.ajourneythroughthefog.co.uk/category/cbd/

What is CBD? FAQs

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

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/#

#ajourneythroughthefog
#suicidalthoughts
#depression
#mentalhealthawareness #suicide #suicideprevention

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/…

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

Is it time to take the plunge?

Three months ago today I took the plunge and started my own blog. It’s something I had been considering for a long time but I let my anxiety and lack of confidence get in the way of taking that scary first step. I’ve always been fearful of starting anything new. I’m a perfectionist and my fear of failure often stops me from even trying. But I will let you into a secret; most people aren’t good at something on the first attempt. It takes practice, experience and time to gain knowledge, but that’s the fun part. Don’t deny yourself something you may end up loving just because you might not be good at it. You don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it.

I’m not a writer. I lack the vocabulary skills to express myself eloquently. My brain fog causes an extra challenge and my good old anxiety does the predictable and rears its ugly head at every opportunity, but I’m learning so much. Up until 3 months ago I hadn’t written anything that could be considered an ‘article’ but I had a lot I wanted to say. I have a lot of experience and after years of frustration I finally have a voice, but I still doubt myself.

Here are some of the anxious thoughts and doubts that run through my mind on a regular basis:

  • Why would anyone want to hear about your life?
  • What makes you so special?
  • What makes you think you are qualified to advise others?
  • You will only f*ck it up!
  • You will make a fool of yourself!
  • You’re not a writer!
  • You haven’t got a clue what you are doing and everyone knows you’re a fraud!

Do these thoughts sound familiar?

So my urge to anyone considering starting a blog, who hasn’t mustered the courage yet is; Go for it! What have you got to lose? If I can do it, anyone can. The anxious doubts you have are completely natural but don’t let them stop you from pursuing your dreams. And if you are not quite ready to start your own blog, why not write a piece for mine? I welcome contributions from my followers. I know you have a lot to offer and I look forward to learning from your experiences.

PS. It doesn’t have to be just about writing. Is there a new hobby you have been wanting to try but are afraid you won’t be any good? Or maybe a new language you would like to learn, or have you been thinking about returning to college? Maybe your passion is travelling but you’ve lost your confidence. Fear of failure stops us from doing so much, please don’t be afraid to start something new.

What new hobby would you love to try? Have you started something new recently?

#ajourneythroughthefog
#blog
#anxiety
#mentalhealthawareness
#mentalhealthmatters

Insomnia

It’s hard to describe to someone who doesn’t experience insomnia, quite how debilitating it can be. At my worst I went 6 weeks without sleeping. I felt completely detached from reality, I started to hallucinate, I was so exhausted my resting heart rate was 150 bpm, I couldn’t think clearly. I had numerous panic attacks a day, it caused a complete breakdown. This was, of course, a very severe form of insomnia but the frustration and fear you feel when you can’t sleep can be overwhelming. 24 hours is a long time when you don’t get a break from your own thoughts or chance to recharge your batteries.

*What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning. It’s a common problem thought to regularly affect around one in every three people in the UK. I’ve suffered with insomnia for all my adult life so I am very familiar with the symptoms.

If you have insomnia, you may:

  • Find it difficult to fall asleep
  • Lie awake for long periods at night
  • Wake up several times during the night
  • Wake up early in the morning and not be able to get back to sleep
  • Not feel refreshed when you get up
  • Find it hard to nap during the day, despite feeling tired
  • Feel tired and irritable during the day and have difficulty concentrating

Insomnia can be caused by many things including: pain, stress and anxiety, muscle spasms, overactive brain, environmental condition like noise, heat, cold or light, certain medication, lifestyle factors like shift work, alcohol or caffeine consumption, being over tired and wired, or just plain anger and frustration. Some of these we have control over, some we don’t. Firstly, make positive changes to the factors you can control.

Good sleep habits for beating insomnia.

Good sleep habits, also called sleep hygiene, can help you get a good night’s sleep and beat insomnia. Here are some tips:

  • Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. *Try not to take naps during the day because naps may make you less sleepy at night.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol late in the day. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and can keep you from falling asleep. Alcohol can cause waking in the night and interferes with sleep quality.
  • Take regular exercise. Try not to exercise close to bedtime because it may stimulate you and make it hard to fall asleep. Experts suggest not exercising within four hours of going to bed.
  • Do not eat a heavy meal late in the day. A light snack before bedtime, however, may help you sleep.
  • Make your bedroom comfortable. Be sure that it is dark, quiet and not too warm or too cold. If light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs, a fan or a “white noise” machine to cover up the sounds.
  • Follow a routine to help you relax before sleep. Read a book, listen to music or have a bath.
  • Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep or sex.
  • If you cannot fall asleep and do not feel drowsy, get up and read or do something that is not overly stimulating until you feel sleepy.
  • If you find yourself lying awake worrying about things, try making a to-do list before you go to bed. This may help you to not focus on those worries overnight.

I’m sure if you have suffered from insomnia for a long period of time you have already tried all of the above. These tips helped me but definitely haven’t cured my insomnia.

I find, although some of my insomnia is caused by pain and being over tired, the biggest aggravating factors are: anxiety, my over active brain, and the anger and frustration of not being able to sleep. Mindfulness meditation definitely helps calm my anxiety, but to be able to sleep you need to let you mind wander. If you want to learn more about Mindfulness meditation please read this post https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1518681691583918&id=1506608209457933

Often when my mind wanders it finds itself at a painful memory or a regret, or it remembers a whole list of things I should have done or need to do. Given the opportunity, my brain will run through everything I’ve said that day that could have upset someone, or everything I wish I had done differently. My brain will start to ask me stupid, irrelevant questions like ‘Can you cry underwater?’, ‘If I wanted to read every book ever written, how long would it take?’,‘Why do we dream?’ or ‘What is consciousness?’ and I find myself reaching for Google at 2am.

Sleep Exercise. How I calm my over active and anxious mind.

I find by focusing my mind on something that is very familiar but not threatening, and then letting my mind wander and explore that ‘something’, I have the best chance of falling asleep. Let me try to explain..

Focus on a film you have watched so many times that you know all the words, something friendly, so not a horror film. My favourite is Dirty Dancing but I also use Juno and Breakfast Club. Start by focusing on one line from the film… “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” Think about the scene around the line, take in the colours, the music, the characters. Now move onto another line….”Quite a little joiner aren’t we?” and another…. “Spaghetti arms” Again think about the scene, the emotions, the clothes, the colours… “I’m doing all this to save your ass, and all I wanna do is drop you on it”…. What happens next in the film? And another line….”I carried a watermelon?” By now my brain has started to wander and is remembering scenes and lines without trying. I’m relaxed and instead of worrying about not sleeping, I’m remembering and walking around the scenes in a film that are so familiar, they are like an old friend. As my mind continues to wander, I’m in a safe place rather than memories from my own past, which could be painful, and I start to drift off to sleep.

When I haven’t fallen asleep within an hour of going to bed, the doubts start creeping in, will this be another long, sleepless night? And with these doubts come anger at the thought of another night of torment. By focusing on a film (as above) rather than entertaining these negative thoughts you will have a better chance at falling asleep.

How I combat the negative thoughts.

My biggest problems occur when I have one sleepless night. One sleepless night often leads to many sleepless nights. It’s like I lose confidence in my ability to sleep. I couldn’t sleep last night, so why should tonight be any different? Once these negative thoughts occur it’s hard to shake them. This is how I deal with them, this is my thought process. A few hours calm rest is almost as good as a few hours sleep, and it’s a lot better than a few hours getting frustrated, angry and anxious about not be able to sleep. So I tell myself ‘if all you manage tonight is a few hours calm rest, then that is ok’ By taking the pressure off myself to sleep I often find I drift off within a few minutes, or at the very least I stay calm. I also keep a voice recorder by my bed and record anything that is troubling me or keeping me from switching off. By recording my thoughts I find I am able to let them go and concentrate on relaxing.

Sleep aids. What I’ve found effective.

No matter how much meditation or distraction I practice, I am still unable to sleep without something to relax and sedate me. For years that was sleeping tablets but thankfully I’ve managed to wean myself off them with the help of CBD. I now take CBD oil, CBG isolate (another cannabinoid like CBD) and drink hemp tea. All of these I find relaxing and mildly sedating. This mild sedation is enough for me to sleep. For more information about the CBD products I find effective please read this post.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1594800033972083&id=1506608209457933

Do you suffer with Insomnia? What helps you sleep?

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