8.25.2016

Anxious?

So last time I think I said I would give you some of my ways of coping with anxiety. Easier said than done! I started to make a rough guide then realised that what I was trying to condense into one post was actually about 3 posts worth. So today I'm going to talk about one kind, and save the others for if you want to hear them. Also want to make a disclaimer that this is my definition of anxiety, it might not be the same as yours, and what works for me might not work for you but even if one thing rings true or it gives someone comfort to know others feel they aren't alone in feeling like this, it's good enough for me.

So, on with the post. What I've been suffering with lately is generalised anxiety and low mood. I also get triggered anxiety which I would describe more as panic, which I'll talk about another time. The general anxiety and low mood, even depressive episodes is the most horrible feeling. It can come on quickly, you don't know when it will lift, and often makes you feel low, worthless and that everything is pointless or hopeless. It is hideous. I am in no shape or form an expert in dealing with this, far from it, but I'm getting to understand it a bit more and sometimes find that certain things help just a little.  

Often when the dark cloud descends I don't want to do anything. At all. And you couldn't suggest anything to interest me. I get that. However, my first tip would be, listen to your body and mind, and look for the windows of opportunity. So if you feel the darkness swallowing you up, or in my case, notice yourself getting angry or with little patience, learn to notice and get yourself to a safe place or at least be forewarned and forearmed. I find it really useful to recognise when emotions are overtaking me and to be able to step back a tiny bit and make it a little easier on myself. 

Second, what would make you feel better? Not as in, "cure all make it all better' as that doesn't exist but what would make you feel a tiny bit less despairing/ more calm? Laying on your bed staring at the wall? Crying? Punching a pillow? Curling up under a blanket? Whatever it is, do it. Think less about what you should be doing and more what would help even the tiniest bit. Suppressing everything inside often makes my bad times last longer. 

When you aren't at the absolute worst of your anxiety there are two things I recommend. Take a minute to think just how awful you felt, as though nothing would ever be any better than miserable. Realise that even if you aren't feeling happy or even content yet, you don't feel quite as bad as you did. Emotions and situations are temporary, you will not always feel like this. You have to be patient and ride it out but just recognising that how you feel changes so often if you actually pay attention makes you feel a little less desperate and hopeless. 

The other is to try and think of something that might make you feel content. Nothing earth shattering and do not, do not, put pressure on yourself to think of something or else you're not moving forward. Be kind do yourself even if it's the last thing you think you deserve. Below are some of the things that have helped me a lot over the last few weeks and long term, small but practical steps.

Reading

I literally read three books non stop, like an addiction. However it helps me in several ways, it's an escape, it can sometimes help me realease emotions I couldn't otherwise let go, and it's an easy low energy thing to focus on. I love books anyway but they become a lifeline when I'm struggling. 


Getting outside

This one was against all my better instincts but actually helped a lot. I hate being too hot and flying bugs and sweaty etc but I properly thought about what might help me and decided to take my breakfast out into the garden a couple of days. Then I spent virtually a whole day out there which I haven't doe since I was a kid! Brought back some nice memories and was a surprising way to help.



Gratitude
Trying to think of one thing a day that you're grateful for and then maybe 2 or 3 things. This one is proven to help people be happier as well as just being a nice one to try and helping you to again realise not everything is quite as awful as it seems. Things you often don't even think of. Being in ICU made me realise a lot of these as when you can't do them, you bloody miss them and realise how much you took them for granted. "I can see/hear/ speak"  " I have a roof over my head" " I really enjoyed ____ today" "I felt the sun on my skin" " I had a cold refreshing drink". 
Mindfulness is to me a slightly different way of looking at this. Rather than considering what you are thank ful, mindfulness is actually tuning in to enjoying it. So sipping a hot chocolate and focusing on how it tastes, smells, they way it warms your throat....... Appreciate being in the moment.

 Showers or baths
Showers become a huge indulgence. I think tactile things really help me. The warm water on my skin, the quietness, solitude, I can cry in there and no one knows, I feel clean and calmer after a shower. Once I realised this I thought how I could make it even nicer. I bought some of my favourite shower gels, sometimes I use a dry body brush or moisturiser. Whatever makes you feel a bit comforted! Massage, manicure or just painting my nails can do wonders.

Creative

I've always been a creative person, but sometimes even the most repetitive mindless tasks are really good for just zoning out a bit. My business is cake making and decorating, so dying fondant or cutting out shapes over and over can prove really helpful to provide a focus without the pressure to be "perfect". Any crafts I can do when exhausted are great for me, sewing, drawing, and calligraphy are current faves. Beware though, if you start to get frustrated leave it, I often get like this and it can make me feel much worse. Don't fall into the trap. Try something like a puzzle, sudoku, watch a film, a series (God Netflix is heaven to me! Especially Once Upon A Time) gardening, gaming, whatever works for you. 


Eat or drink

Obviously not to an unhealthy extent but the odd bit of what you enjoy, a Starbucks, coffee, tea, the odd piece of chocolate, a takeaway or something you really fancy, can help a bit. Don't be petty with yourself, it's again about being gentle with yourself. 

Make your space inviting

For me, rather randomly, fresh flowers give me a little boost. They just lift my spirits a little. Weird things like the sensation of a soft blanket, or the soft glow of a candle can all soothe my soul when it feels my nerves are a bit jagged. 



I'm sorry if this has been a bit waffley and not helpful but I hope if nothing else it might kick start some ideas of your own that might work for you. If you are struggling, please know you're not alone. Things will seem brighter I promise. 
I'm also going to take the time to say, if you are having a bad time, think about seeking help. I've spoken to several therapists, some have been helpful others haven't. It's often the last thing you want to deal with but they can help. If you had flu, or a broken leg you would seek out help from a professional to assist you, mental health is no different. 

Let me know if this was useful/helpful/ pants, and if you'd like to read similar posts xxxx

8.12.2016

Positivity

After my last post with all its rather rubbish medical stuff I wanted to write about some of the positives going on too. At the moment I'm struggling quite a lot emotionally and I'm not entirely sure why but random bursts of crying, feeling completely inadequate, insomnia etc, interspersed with more positive days is quite a confusing, draining time. 

But I thought I would tell you about some of the good things. 

Major first thing is that I am going to New York! I have always wanted to go for years, made and broke plans but I'm finally going in honour of my 5 years post transplant! I'm obviously not going to say when in case masses of you decide to burgle my house but between now and the end of the year we will be there! I'm super excited but super anxious too, about pain levels, fatigue and how I can work with the during our short stay. Any places/restaurants/things we shouldn't miss, please comment as we really need to start planning.

Next positive, starting an exercise schedule. Mainly for the muscle toning I'm in desperate need of, but also because I would like ideally to shed a couple of kilos I've gained from steroid use. Honestly, if you've ever been on steroids you'll know how crazy it is with wanting to eat constantly, even when you know it will make you fat, you can't help it. It's bloody tough going and I'm still working out how much I can manage without completely wiping myself out for the rest of the day. Again, feelings of inadequacy and pain levels really don't help with this either but trying to stay on track and do something at least. 

I've been having a big clear out of all my stuff. I seem to start this a lot then it just dwindled off. This time I seem to be doing a bit better at it. It's therapeutic to get rid of the old and then organise everything. It's as though one little bit of my life I can be in control of. I've gone slightly crazy about storage solutions though.....whsmiths and homesense are my happy places! I could literally spend all day in homesense....

I passed both my music theory grade 4 (distinction) and my singing exam (one mark off a merit) which I was convinced I'd failed due to nerves. So that was a really nice boost.

I completely adore the new Paralympic ad, and thought it was worth mentioning here. If by chance you haven't seen it, WATCH IT NOW!!! It's an incredibly feel-Good, inspiring, ballsy, can do ball of brilliance. Watch it, take it in, be inspired.

Something that isn't a positive strictly speaking but that I think will be good for me, is that I've gone cruelty free. Cruelty free means that I only use products that have not been tested on animals. You thought that no cosmetics etc were tested on animals anymore? Think again. 
Many companies decide to sell abroad namely to China which requires animal testing to be able to legally sell there. Companies do not need to sell in China, they do so solely for profit and by making this choice they condone animal testing. Which I think is a little bit disgusting in this day and age. As a result I will not be giving these companies any more of my money.  If you're interested in finding out more visit Petas website or google cruelty free. I've had comments that why do I bother when my medicines have been tested on animals? My answer is, I can't stop taking my medications. If I did I would die fairly quickly and that would be the ultimate disrespect to my donor, my family, the nurses, doctors and surgeons who have fought to keep me going all these years. However things like make up, body wash, toothpaste? That's a choice I can make and I would rather go without than use products tested on animals. 

My last one is that I have been trying to practise gratitude. I don't have one of the fancy gratitude journals yet (possibly in the future) but everyday I try to appreciate a small part of my day, actively log it in my brain: the sun on my face, breeze on my skin, the taste of a particularly good cup of tea, the softness of Lucky's fur when he's curled up next to me.  I'm hoping this is going to amount to more happiness in my life overall but even these little bits are a great start. 

So in short I wasn't sure whether to write or not but here it is. I'd LOVE to hear from you, would you like to know some of my favourite cruelty free products? I'm just learning myself but would be happy to recommend or hear your recommendations. New York tips? 
Also I am considering doing some short videos about certain topics, 5 minutes or so of me talking to camera like in a blog post but speaking directly to you. Would you be interested? What would you like me to talk about? 

Sending you all love and light. Enjoy your weekend. Xx

7.21.2016

Breaks, backs and buggered

I know I know, I promised you an update and then have left you....for over two months. I'm sorry. 
I was gone but hadn't forgotten the blog, I kept going to update and I've even had loads of ideas for blog posts (as always still open to requests). If I'm honest, and as you know I'm always as honest as it's possible to be in my posts, it's been a bit of a crappy time and every time I've tarted to write, it's not felt right. 

So, last time I wrote it was my birthday and I had broken my foot for the second time. After my birthday I was feeling a bit weird anyway. You know the kind of weird that comes with birthdays; the taking stock/vague panic about what you should be doing/feel of needing to make changes. Especially due to the fact that this was my last birthday in my 20's. That was going on, then I got a nasty bout of food poisoning that was terrible especially with a broken foot to hobble back and forth to the bathroom on. Thankfully it was about a 24 hour thing but it left me so drained and took a week or so to recover my energy that disappears at the merest hint of trouble. 
I eventually got the all clear that the foot was healing (remember I broke it at the beginning of April) and I was told I could start weaning off the crutches slowly. Which I did, super slowly. I had a couple of weeks boot free before the pain started to come back again. I managed to get another appointment with the fracture clinic, and to cut a long story short, I hadn't refractured my break, but I didn't just have one break on the one foot, I had 3. Which was news to me. Basically the X-ray looked liked I'd started to create a jigsaw out of my foot! Plus the fracture on the other foot from last year while healed is very visible. All the fractures are healed but because of what my body's been through and the medications I'm on I heal very slowly and it takes longer. Due to the same problems I'm more likely to fracture but there isn't much they can do about it. Needless to say I was not a happy girl when I left that appointment. 

This was not helped by the fact that the previous day we had left home at 12am and not got home until 7am with about 45 minutes break at my rheumatology appointment. We had to journey up to Chelsea and Westminster, and because I was using crutches and in pain I couldn't face extra walking. We planned to use the train then two buses which admittedly took an age but was at least sitting still.
I can't fault this hospital, they are always kind and friendly no matter who you speak to in the hospital, and always really clean and quite open and bright. We had a short wait, and saw a truly lovely consultant who I believe is head of department. We went through all the tests I've had which include back X-ray, spinal CT, bloods, hand X-ray, hand and joints ultrasound and there wasn't a huge amount to report. I don't have inflammation, or arthritis. I do have a couple of bulging discs near the bottom of my spine which aren't too much of a worry now but need to be checked intermittently. He was lovely and explained that he thinks my main issue is muscle weakness. I'm hyper mobile which is what used to be called double jointed. I can move and bend my joints more than most people and therefore it's quite easy to have to ouch movement and cause issues. In order to inhibit the bendiness, the only real way is to strengthen the muscles to a very strong level. Simple you think? It's me. 
Obviously if fatigue and the propensity to break bones wasn't enough, my use of steroids at a reasonable dose long term, means that gaining muscle strength is so much harder. They actually cause a symptom which had a fancy name but means muscle weakness. He actually said I was pretty much buggered. 
Both these visits were in a way a relief and in another like being plunged into a dark hole. It was good to finally know what the hell was going on and to have some answers. But it felt very much as though I'd found the courage to ask for help because I wasn't coping, and yet the onus and responsibility was once again being handed back to me. I should also mention that I have been battling with various painkillers including morphine equivalents with no pain relief but plenty of other nasty side effects. These drugs also have be weaned up to full dose and weaned down again before you can stop taking them. In short I have no reliable pain relief and more exercises, pain, fatigue heading my way if I want any chance of building up the muscles to help long term. 

This has all been going on for nearly a year in total but suddenly concluded in the last week. It's been a bit of a mind melt. I think rather than going into it too much here I will post a separate blog (you lucky lucky Devils).  
So that's what's going on and I promise it won't be so long before I next post. After writing this I can already feel the blocks easing away and a format for the next couple of posts forming so I'm going to go and jot down some notes. Sorry it's been a bit of a downer, stay tuned for hopefully things getting brighter. 

Xxx

CUSTOM BLOG DESIGN BY PRETTYWILDTHINGS