Chronic illness and fatigue

If you suffer with chronic illness , you’ll know that owning an alarm clock is a waste of money . You’ll hear it going off , but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll wake up . 

You’ll also be very familiar with the snide remarks / “jokes” people make .

“I wish I had time to take a nap” .

“Everyone gets tired , you just have to push through it” .

Having chronic illnesses almost always means you don’t have a good , if any , sleep pattern . 

The usual 8 hours sleep everyone gets seems like heaven and you always hope that one day , you will get that glorious , golden 8 hours , of uninterrupted sleep for yourself . 

The thing is , no one truly understands it until they go through it themselves . I didn’t .  I’m 28 and 11 years ago I was your ‘normal’ , every day person who could get up and go . Party all night and work all day . Get a few hours sleep and I was raring to go again ! I never understood how people could be so slow or always sleeping or never go out . I loved life and nothing could hold me back . 

Then , I had my accident and life spiralled . I then started to understand why people couldn’t do things .

Normal everyday life is a chore . 

For me , I suffer with broken discs in my lower spine , hip and knee problems . (Along with so much more) . So from the minute I get up , I’m struggling . 

Getting dressed used to take minutes , now it’s 30 minutes or more . 

Bending , hurts . 

Getting up , hurts . 

Sitting down , hurts . 

I feel like I’m stuck in a 90 year olds body . 

The struggle is real – as they say . 

By the time I get downstairs I’m ready to go back to bed .

Making coffee is a chore but it’s so needed . Caffeine is about the only thing my body runs on these days . 

My normal routine …. I say routine , it’s more than likely that I …. Get up around 11am . Dressed and downstairs by 12pm . I have coffee by 12:15pm and then I sit down . I’ll try and get stuff done but every 15 minutes I need to sit . 

Come 5:30pm I . Am . Dropping . I normally go for a nap for a minimum of an hour and a half . It takes me between 30 and 45 minutes to settle and drop off . Then I’ll be waking up every 20 – 30 minutes . It takes around 10 minutes for me to drop back off to sleep . So I never get a full rest . This is why I can’t ‘power nap’ .

Then after my nap I’m normally awake until 4/5 am . I’ll sleep until 8am , waking every 20 – 30 minutes . Then I’ll be awake for an hour (8-9am) Then I usually nod off again until 11am . Always waking every 20-30 minutes . This is if I’m lucky to get sleep . Some nights , I’m awake all night . It all depends on the pain and if I can lie down etc . 

And I know I’m not the only one who suffers like this . My father is exactly the same as me . So I know I’m not alone when I say , it really is tough . 

So to have the usual sly remarks made , it’s no surprise when people get short with you .  

When you are basically called lazy . Oh how I wish it was true . Physical and mental exhaustion is no joke . 

Or when you’re told it’s just a bad day . Or you’ll get over it …. Please , show us how ? Teach us how chronic pain can be cured with a flick of a switch . 

And when people make fun of you . Now this is where people can get really petty . When they see you struggling and just think it’s hilarious and that you’re doing it for attention . I would absolutely love to watch you walk in our shoes for just one day . 

So please , be kind people . It takes zero effort to just be nice to someone . To try and understand it . I mean , you wouldn’t like someone to make a joke about your bad day would you ? So why would you do it to others ? 

Think before you judge . 

Chronic illness is tough . I have tried a lot of medication to help me , none of which have . It can take years to find the right thing , so far for me it’s taken 10 years , and I’m still trying . 

I’m now looking into natural pain relief and foods that help . 

What speaking out has done for me.

Many people are terrified to speak out about suffering from mental illness .
I was one of these.

For many years my life was tough and 90% of it was down to me.
I wasn’t willing to accept my illness.

I hid it the best that I could when I was out of the house.
People just saw me as a timid child, but my home life was hell.
Constant arguing and fighting over stupid things. I couldn’t control my anger.
I wasn’t angry at my family, I was angry at myself, but I would blame them as it was easier.

Hiding anxiety is tough and when you lash out, you normally lash out at those closest to you.
My parents just thought I was a naughty child, but there was so much more to it, I just couldn’t tell them.

Eventually, I went to see a doctor when I was 16. I was diagnosed with depression at aged 6 but they put it down to school and being a “school phobic”.
I was a phobic of most things, anything that included people and strangers.
I spoke to the doctor and they advised me that I should take medication. They gave me leaflets and told me to speak about how I was feeling and to keep diaries to help me speak about it.
I did the diary part, but I never spoke out about it.
I refused medication for as long as I could. I did speak to my parents about my anxieties but very vaguely.

I went through a lot in my short life, counselling being a main thing in my life. I hated it. Strangers wanting to know everything about me and asking me why I was feeling this way etc etc. It’s not my cup of tea.

I gave in to medications at the age of 24. It made me spiral backwards and I was at an all time low. The doctors kept changing them often. I was getting worse and worse.
I managed, after a year and a half, to pull myself off them .

Eventually, when I was 25. I started CBT.
CBT changed my life.
I spoke to my family and loved ones about my illness. I opened up completely.
It lifted a massive weight.

CBT only lasts 8 weeks. One session , one hour a week, but it made a HUGE difference to me.
Alun helped me focus on the here and now. He made me realise I wasn’t weird or an outcast. I accepted my illness and I managed to help others accept me to.
He helped me make this blog page which in turn has helped a few other people cope with their mental illness. I have also made new friends through this and I don’t feel lost anymore.

Speaking out has helped me:

  • Stopped the arguments.
  • Made others understand that I’m not cutting them out, my anxieties restrict me.
  • Made new friends.
  • Helped others speak out.
  • See my friends more now.
  • Made a blog.
  • Taken a lot of weight off my shoulders.
  • Got people off my back about working again.
  • I’ve spoken about all of my physical illnesses, as speaking out about my mental illness has given me the confidence to be open.
  • Made me feel more “normal”.
  • I have accepted myself and the hand I have been dealt.

As terrifying as it is to think about, it really isn’t anything like that. Thinking about it is the worst part.
Once you know you’re ready to accept yourself, speaking is part of the healing process.
I’m no where near “cured”, but I am getting there. I am slowly taking steps in the right direction, and as long as this road may be, I know I can get through it.
Day by day, little by little.

I highly recommend speaking out to everyone.
The best people to start with are the ones closest to you. Eg. Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, etc.

You’ll be surprised by how many people understand.

Being selfish.

This year I decided to do what I wanted to do .
Last year , as you know,  I went through hell and back with family and loved ones . We lost a lot and we’re left a mess .
I totally gave up .
But this year I’ve decided to be selfish .
I never put myself first and have always felt guilty for when I used to treat myself and not my friends or family .
Why should I ?
I deserve to be happy too !!
Last year proved that life is way too short to just sit back and hope and wish .
So this year , I have decided :

🌹 To eat clean and healthy .

Myself and my partner want to lose weight .
So far , so good .
All our food is clean and fresh 🙂
Low fat and barely any carbs .
No sweets but we do have fruit and hot chocolate to help with the cravings .

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🌹 Get my eyebrows tattooed .

I have shaved / plucked my eyebrows since age 18 . So I have zero as I hate my natural brows .
So I decided to get them tattooed on . Semi permanent make up .
They last up to 5 years if you keep topping them up every so often 🙂
Best decision I ever made !!

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🌹 Get more of my tattoo finished.

I started my sleeve tattoo last year . But as I had a lot going on , I ended up spending all of my savings on trying to save my dogs life (I regret nothing) .
So this year I have booked in for more work .
I have been put on the list for if a slot comes up . As William (tattooist) is fully booked for the year 🙂

🌹 Seeing friends more .

I rarely ever get out .
I go to Rob’s gigs but I’m always on my own , out the way somewhere  (I can’t do crowds)
So this year I am making time for those important people 🙂
This Saturday I have a few friends coming over for tea and some naughty cake (Home made – I’ll have a small piece)
Then in May I will be in London for The Damned and the day after I will be going to visit 2 amazing friends . We plan to go for food somewhere nice before heading home 🙂
Then in the summer they’re  coming to visit us 😀
Exciting times ahead !!

Simple little things ,  but they’re making all the difference . I feel more confident and happy about myself !!

I wish I had done this sooner 🙂
I know it sounds silly , but sometimes , being selfish really is ok 🙂

My second side

I realise through my blogs I have taken everyone through my mental illness with me but yet haven’t let any of you into my life .
There is more to me than just illness .

Where do I start ?

I’m 27 years young and I live in a small town in South West Wales, UK. 

My parents are happily married with over 40 years together .

I have 2 older brothers .

I have had 2 labradors over the past 20 years . Tess was my first , a golden lab. And Ellie my second, a black lab.
I have had 2 rabbits, Sooty and Flopsey.
A hamster , Yoda (Yoda was a girl haha)
And a budgie named Ben .

I adore animals !!

I used to work , from the age of 16 until I was 22 .

I studied Performing Arts for a year. 
Then went on to study Theatre Lighting for 3 years .
I also went to University and studied Theatre Design & Production but I didn’t finish my first year . (Illness)

Films are a passion of mine .

My hobbies are :

📚 Reading
📒 Writing books
✏ Art – Sketching & Painting
🎮 Gaming – Pc , PS4 , Xbox & Nintendo
🎀 Collect models / figures
🃏 Collect Pokémon cards

As I don’t work , I stay at home a lot . I very very rarely leave the house . So I have a lot of hobbies , along side blogging , to keep me entertained .
Although, I don’t get to do these daily .

I have 2 wonderful Nieces who I love spending time with, and my little cousin who lives with them . 

I basically live a very simple life .
I have a wonderful Fiancé who has supported me for over 6 years and honestly , I don’t know where I would be without him .

That’s basically me .
I don’t talk a lot about myself because I’m not that interesting haha .
But I thought I would give you a little info about me 🙂
I am more than my illnesses and I just wanted to point that out .
My whole point to blogging is to help end the stigma against Mental health . To do this people also need to know there are 2 sides to everyone.  The person & the illness .
We don’t choose this life,  Mental health is not a choice .
I wish it was .

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4 simple & natural ways to help anxiety

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Chamomile Tea

Just a few sips of Chamomile Tea can help relieve anxiety and stress . It’s a natural anti-anxiety medicine and has been proven to help reduce anxiety in just a few weeks .

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Turkey

That tired feeling you feel after Christmas dinner .
It’s from the tryptophan in the turkey.

“Tryptophan is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps you to feel calm. Tryptophan in the form of meat, has been shown to reduce anxiety disorders!”

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Turmeric

Known for its many uses .
It is excellent for anxiety and depression as it helps lift your moods .

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Dark Chocolate

One for those with a sweet tooth . (Just like me) .
Dark Chocolate has been found to help relieve anxiety .
In a study they used it as placebo medication .
Scientists found that those on 1.5 ounces of Dark Chocolate per day felt calmer than those who weren’t.

What is a panic attack?

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Everyone talks about having panic attacks . You’ve either seen someone have one , heard of someone having one or you have experienced one yourself .
But what is a panic attack ?

It’s a rush of intense psychological and physical symptoms.
They can be very frightening and happen out of the blue, for no known reason .

They usually last between five and twenty minutes and although they’re horrible, they aren’t dangerous .

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The physical symptoms of panic can be ;

A sensation that your heart is beating irregularly (palpitations)

Sweating 

Trembling

Shortness of breath (hyperventilation) 

A choking sensation

Chest pain 

Feeling sick 

These are caused by your body going into “fight or flight” mode .
Your body tends to think that you’re under threat , hense the sense of panic .

As your body tries to take in more oxygen your breathing gets faster. Your body releases hormones, like adrenaline, which causes your heart to beat faster and your muscles to tense up.

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How can you help relieve these symptoms ?

There are a few different things you can try .

To help slow down your breathing and heart rate . You could try these simple steps .

Breathe in deeply through your nose.

Breathe out slowly through your mouth. 

Focus your thinking on the word “calm”.

Keep calm and focus on your breathing .
As you slowly start to feel your breathing getting back to normal,  you can go to feel a little tired . This is normal though.  It means your carbon dioxide levels in your blood , have returned to normal. 

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Should you see a doctor about panic attacks ?

Although panic attacks aren’t dangerous themselves . It is always a good idea to seek medical advice .
Panic attacks can be brought on due to an underlining issue .

**** Seek medical advice if:

Your panic attack continues after following these breathing techniques for 20 minutes.

You still feel unwell after your breathing returns to normal.

You still have a rapid or irregular heartbeat or chest pains after your panic attack. 

You regularly have panic attacks, as this could be a sign that you have panic disorder. ****

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Can panic attacks be avoided ?

Some people find that relaxation techniques do help prevent panic attacks . Eg. Meditation , deep breathing , muscle stretches .

Eating regularly can help as it stabilises your blood sugars .

Avoiding alcohol,  caffeine and smoking can also help .

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A surprise attack

Whilst I sat in the comfort of my own home . With a glass of water and a plate with some food on . Unwinding from a long , busy day of sorting . Putting my feet up and watching Grim .

A loud, droaning noise came from outside.

I turned the volume down on the laptop and listened for a minute or two .
The noise I could hear appeared to be voices, male voices . Aged 17/18 . At a guess .

I then heard the front door being tried .
I knew Rob was coming back from band practice, so I thought maybe it was him . But who would be with him ?
His band mates weren’t that loud and no one else would be with him.
I couldn’t hear Rob’s voice either.

After a few more minutes (and checking the door was locked) I decided to carry on watching Grim .

No sooner had I hit the play button , there was an almighty **BANG**

Someone had hit the window. 
It frightened me . So much so , I had to call my father. 
After he checked to make sure the coast was clear , I went back into the living room and …. broke down .
My whole body began to tremble and I couldn’t stop it .
I looked at myself in the mirror and asked myself ;

“What’s wrong with me ?”

I never react this way . I am very rarely ever frightened .
But something had made me turn into this panicky mess .
I couldn’t believe it .

Through someone’s stupidity and probably thinking it was a funny idea to play ‘knock knock run’ . I had become a blubbering mess .

I managed to calm myself down by swilling my face with cold water , having a drink and a cigarette .
Once I had done this , Rob was back .
I felt safe now and managed to control my panic .
I spoke to Rob about how I felt .
It really did help .

The panic attack really had caught me off guard .
It’s never happened before .

I managed to get an early night (for the first time in over a year) and that has really helped.
I feel a lot more positive today .
It sounds stupid , but apart from that panic attack , I had a really good day yesterday .
To let that little down point take that away from me , well , that would be idiotic .

I’m not starting 2016 the way I did 2015 .
I’m starting to look for the positives rather than letting them find me 🙂

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