Just because I cough doesn’t mean I have a cold…

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So I’ve been on a journey so to speak over the past handful of years.
It’s not a particularly nice journey but one I’ve been signed up to complete.

I’ve been suffering an invisible illness.

Now before I go on, I would like to mention that over my lifetime I have had episodes of depression.
I’m familiar with depression so know how it feels and how it manifests within me.

This invisible illness is not depression.

I don’t know exactly what I have as I’ve yet to find the name.  For a couple years now I’ve suspected it could be adrenal fatigue based on my symptoms and medical test results on cortisol & adrenaline levels.  Although recently I’ve read several articles about Epstein-Barr Virus and some of those symptoms are connecting dots also.  I’ve not yet explored this second avenue enough or had any medical tests to support its diagnosis but will want to examine it further.  But whether it’s adrenal fatigue, EBV, or some other illness, I do know it’s certainly not depression.

So imagine my frustration when someone suggested to me today to consider NLP.

I’m not sure how NLP is going to get to the root of what I feel is a digestive/hormonal imbalance/autoimmune condition.

Would anyone consider saying to someone who has high blood pressure or a broken leg to consider NLP?

Probably not.

On further reflection I came up with a few thoughts:

1. If you truly want to support someone going through something, don’t offer unsolicited advice. Yes, I realise you are trying to show you care by attempting to help. But it isn’t helping.

2. If you know someone has suffered from something in the past, it doesn’t necessarily make it relevant for the present. I get colds sometimes but it doesn’t mean every time I cough I have a cold. People suffering from TB have a cough but they may not have a cold. The point I’m making is that it’s not fair to stereotype people as one thing or another.

3. Just because there is no name for one’s condition/illness doesn’t make it irrelevant. Long before we put a name to AIDs people were suffering from it. My symptoms are real even without a name…yet.

4. If you really and truly want to help, just listen. Be there. Listen. One person’s challenges are not yours. Furthermore, they aren’t yours to fix. How would you feel is someone took your unsolicited advice and ended up in a worse state. Would you own it?

5. Trying to fix people shows lack of respect. Acknowledge whatever challenges someone is facing then refer back to number 4. Be there and listen. A hug wouldn’t go amiss either.

I should learn to let unsolicited advice wash over me without a thought but they do affect me. In the past I’d get angry and frustrated inside and end up stressed. Now I think about what is said and find humour in it. Imagine the look on my NLP counsellor’s face when I say I’m making an appointment to help with loose stools.

I also mentally hand back the comments to the person who delivered it. I’m not a confrontational person and sometimes we have to co-exist with people so I’m not the type to throw my toys out of the pram. So I’ll remember this person has no clue about me (which is true many times as most don’t even know 1/10th of the real me) and I’ll forgive them for their ignorance. I’ll also write about it. Writing is by far the most cathartic response for me and helps me deal with these frustrations.

My final word is that I wish I didn’t have to travel this journey. There are some days when I feel really rubbish with exhaustion, aches, or pains. Believe me if there was such a simple answer I would have found it by now.

So next time someone coughs, don’t assume they need vitamin C.

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A life lesson in lonely…

I’ve recently been doing some reading and soul searching to attempt to figure out my life’s purpose as I’ve been feeling lost for quite some time.  The journey has prompted me to consider, what if I chose this life & the challenges within it in order to teach me a lesson.  So I tried to come up with a tagline which encompasses my life.  At the moment the word: lonely best sums up this life so far.

If I consider the facts of my life I can see how lonely has been a reoccurring theme.  I was born of parents from two different countries so I had no hometown in which to start my journey.  My father was in the forces so my young life consisted of a variety of schools in a variety of towns in a variety of countries.  Not only were we on the move but so were the myriad of my peers I met along the way.  With all the moving around, the chance of making life long friendships was slim.

Apparently when I was very young, toddler-age, I was outgoing so not afraid to chatter to strangers we might encounter when I was out and about with my mum.  I’m not sure when this part of me died but for as long as I can remember I’ve been quite introvert.  Perhaps with the moving around I lost the little confidence I had to make friends in new places or maybe some of the bullying I encountered along the way added to my withdrawal from social situations.

There were some constants though in having the presence of my parents and brother, however there were times my father’s military duty got in the way.  He worked away for a year when I was 11 and I do feel this impacted me greatly.  Even in the best family units, if a member leaves for a time each party continues to grow but if they can’t reconnect after the absence then the gap continues to widen in the subsequent years.

Another contributor to my feeling of loneliness is the lack of relationships in my extended family.  I’m often slightly envious of others that speaks fondly of times spent with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Being on the move we lived far from extended family so I saw very little of them.  Moreover, either I was not born yet or too young to know three of my grandparents.  And of the fourth, I remember visiting twice in my young life while on summer holidays, but I have no fond memories of either occasion as I seemed more concerned with going out to play than to spend quality time getting to know someone that was pretty much a stranger to me.

After the loneliness of youth I figured it would be different in my adult life.  As it happens I met & married a serviceman so stayed in the cycle of movement.  That said, it wasn’t us that moved but all those around us as we were able to remain posted in the same place for an extended time.  By this time we lived among the local community versus the military community, which although can provide some roots in which to build relationships, it can also be a challenge as many of those we met of our age were already settled in their own social circles.   Also we had no children so this reduced our opportunities to meet and connect with others through school functions or meeting parents while dropping off offspring for play dates with their friends.

At one point I reconnected with a friend from high school that I’d not seen or spoken to for 17 years.  With the advancement of social media I found her sister’s email online so contacted her.  She gave me her sister’s phone number and suggested I surprise her with a call.  Weirdly enough, all I said was “hello” and she recognised my voice immediately.  From there we were able to reconnect and I felt a little less lonely.  Unfortunately she lived an ocean away so our visits were far and few between but I felt happy knowing I had achieved a life’s dream of finding a best friend.  One day I was feeling a bit sorry for myself because I didn’t have this social circle I assumed would come to light in my adulthood.  I’d see other people going out with friends to do activities or having dinner parties with conversations flowing over into the wee hours.  I was feeling sorry for me that my one friend lived too far away for me to enjoy these pleasures.  My one friend.  My best friend.  Then it dawned on me, I had one friend.  I had a best friend.  Who cares what I didn’t have because this one friend, this best friend, was worth so much to me.  I remember that eureka moment very well because five days later I received a phone call from my best friend’s sister telling me she had suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage and that they were taking her off life support.

Although the time we spent conversing was relatively short, six years in all, with a couple visits thrown in, it taught me what it was to feel real friendship.

Not that I wasn’t friends with my husband because we were friends as well as partners.  But there is something nice about sitting in a cafe over a cup of tea & cake chatting about girl things.  Despite my best efforts, my husband was never interested in makeup or skincare!

I mentioned that my husband was my friend, and that was indeed true.  However over the years we grew apart and sometimes I would feel lonely even in his company.  But I believed marriage was a journey on which not all roads would be easy so the idea of going our separate ways was not something that crossed my mind.  In the end it was he that decided to walk away and while it’s been a tough handful of years coming to terms with the loss & repairing the wounds, I admire his bravery to make that decision.  I’m not sure I ever would have been strong enough to leave the marriage but I now know it was the best thing for me.  I wouldn’t have become half the person I am now without having to face this time alone and being my own best friend.

So where is this all going?  I’m wondering this myself as I seem to be getting a bit off topic.  I could write reams and reams about the challenges I’ve faced that keep me feeling lonely.

So far my life hasn’t quite panned out as I had hoped in terms of feeling included, loved, regarded, befriended, and valued.  It doesn’t make me a bad person because of it, but it kinda makes me a survivor because at heart we are all social creatures.   We need to love and be loved to flourish.

And that’s where I come back to my life’s purpose.  I wonder if I chose a life of loneliness to teach me more about myself.  To teach me self-reliance.  To teach me self care.  To teach me self love.

 

Now you’re feeling sleepy…

I had my first experience of hypnotherapy yesterday.  This isn’t the first time I’ve tried complementary medicine as I’ve tried counselling, chiropractic, reflexology, acupuncture, homeopathy, and kinesiology, to name but a few.  I like to keep an open mind and give things a chance.  Something might look far-fetched on paper but may just gel with me in practise.

At this point in time I don’t feel it’s made any difference, however anything I’ve eaten or drank since has made me feel nauseous.  This would be fine if I had gone there hoping for a session in curbing my food intake, but as I was hoping for some alleviation of stress I’m not sure nausea is a positive side effect.

I’m currently suffering, among other things, adrenal fatigue.  This makes me produce far more cortisol than I need so I’m in a constant state of fight or flight.  I’m at the point where normal every day noises make me jumpy, like a car door closing or a phone ringing.  It was suggested to me that hypnotherapy might help to calm and relax me a bit so I was keen to try it.

The therapist was very nice and polite, and I felt we had a nice chat beforehand.  Then he did what he called part one of the hypnosis.  During that time I was totally aware of everything.  I wasn’t able to “go off” into another place like a sandy beach or quiet woodland.  All I could see with my eyes closed were my eyelids.  I could hear the normal goings on outside of cars and people, as well as the music he had playing in the room.  And of course I could hear his voice talking to my unconscious.  Unfortunately my conscious never left the conversation.

Inside my body what I felt was increased stress.  My heart hurt from the pressure of the stress and it was almost like every part of my insides were scrunched up like a ball of paper and tightening at his every word.  After he asked me to open my eyes and tell me what I experienced he said not to worry as that was only part one of the treatment.  I figured maybe this was normal for some so took comfort in that.

Then again he asked me to close my eyes while he spoke to my unconscious.  Again all I felt was extreme stress and tightness everywhere.  After asking me to open my eyes he seemed a bit surprised at my experiences but said I might see some improvement over time.  In fact, he commented that it was a shame I didn’t have a partner who would probably see the improvements in me more than I would see it, but on hindsight I’m not sure how someone outside my being would be able to notice my ability to relax any better than I would.

The appointment was due to last 3 hours, but it was after 2.5 hours that he said that was all and that I was free to go.  I didn’t think anything of it at the time as figured maybe some clients have more to talk about than others.

When I left what I felt was anger, mostly at myself for not doing it right because I couldn’t relax enough to let the treatment happen.  But also I felt more depressed.  I’ve suffered depression for many years which comes and goes, but in recent weeks I’ve been on a bit of a downturn.  When I got home I laid on the sofa for the rest of the day feeling very low and very angry.  Despite knowing I needed to eat as it was time, I just couldn’t face food as I was so low.

It wasn’t until about 24 hours later that my anger changed from being angry at me for not doing it right to angry at him for not being honest with me.  I have no doubt he’s a learned person in hypnotherapy and that he has many satisfied clients, but for some reason the treatment couldn’t or wouldn’t work for me.  Perhaps it’s because I’m ever so wound up and stressed that made it impossible for my conscious mind to take a break long enough for my unconscious mind to benefit from the treatment.

He’s done this treatment probably thousands of times so would be fully experienced to know what to expect at every point in the therapy.  I work in accounts and if I haven’t received a purchase order from a client before my company is prepared to deliver work, I’m experienced enough to reach out to the client to let them know what my expectations are in obtaining the purchase order.

He must have known the treatment wasn’t panning out well.  I would have been more than happy if he had stopped at any point and said it wasn’t working and it’s likely to do with my very stressed and sensitive nature.  By no means was I looking for anything for free, but even to say he’d charge me a nominal fee for that first part of the therapy rather than carrying on with something that isn’t working would have been a lot more honest and showed caring.

Another option would have been to say he had never experienced anyone with adrenal fatigue and the intense stress that goes with it, and that maybe he could to do some additional research and perhaps reschedule the appointment when he felt he was better prepared.

There were ways to work around it I feel that were more honest than going through the motions of the therapy for therapy’s sake.  It wasn’t cheap by any means, and while I don’t begrudge someone earning a living, when I think how much I paid to essentially close my eyes while someone talked to me, it’s frustrating.

So, while I know it’s early days and maybe in time I’ll see changes, at this point in time the only change I see to my immensely stressed, anxious, and depressed body is nausea.

 

 

A hug can make all the difference…

When is an illness an illness?  Or more specifically, what deems an illness worthy of acknowledgement and support from others?

I recently spoke to a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer.   I can’t begin to imagine how devastating it is for her to have received that news.  But also it must be overwhelming to think about the subsequent treatments, surgeries, and their associated side affects & healing times.  I’m sure on the inside she has moments of fear & worry, but on the outside she is showing herself to be positive.  She views this challenge as a mere inconvenience in her life & wants the treatment to be behind her so she can get on with her future.

For some time I’ve greatly admired her strength and mindset.  Seldom in my life have I met a more optimistic & forward thinking person.  Don’t get me wrong, she does have bad days and set backs.  There have been times I’ve spoken to her when she vents about ongoing problems.  She’s a real person; she’s not hiding behind a facade of happy-happy if she’s not feeling it.  But she does tend to see things in a very balanced way & attempts to find the positive wherever possible.

When I last spoke her, a day before she was to go into surgery, she remarked how much support she’s been getting from friends, family, and work colleagues from cards, phone calls, and emails.  She’s even had people offering to pick up groceries or cook her a meal if she’s needs it.  I don’t begrudge her getting this support because it’s not only important, it’s vital.  But it did get me wondering about when an illness deserves support.

I’ve been on a sabbatical for nearly a year, which came about due to health issues.  Without going into great detail, my health had been disintegrating for a few years culminating with extreme exhaustion to the point I struggled just to make it through one work day, never mind a whole week.  While I’m doing better now, I’m still not 100% but feel I’m on the right track.  Looking back I could see just how poorly I was, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally.  I suppose it doesn’t help that I also suffer from depression and anxiety because I’ve learned over the years that these conditions can make you think negative things that aren’t really true.  I was at a low ebb all around!

And while I got some nice comments from people I knew in my work & personal life to wish me well on my sabbatical, there was no real support from anyone.  I faced such a challenging time alone.  It was hard at times.  Very hard.

There were days that a phone call would have made such a difference.  There were days that a visit by a friend or colleague would have made such a difference.  There were days that just knowing someone out there cared would have made such a difference.  There were definitely some bleak days along my road to recovery.

The experience has made me a stronger person and I realise that the only one I can ever really count on is myself.  It is sad, but empowering at the same time.  I’m not wallowing in my friendlessness because I have learned a lot about myself during the past year.  Plus now that my physical health is slowly improving, it has also had a positive impact on my emotional and mental health too.  I am feeling very positive about the future & am looking forward to trying some new hobbies, interests, and maybe even a career move.

Sometimes though I will look back on the me from a year ago and want to hug her and tell her she’s not alone.  And that despite her condition not being immediately life threatening (if she had continued on the same path it would have done) did she not deserve a supportive phone call, hug, or friendly ear to listen over a cup of tea?

I think therefore I quote…

Today I had a mishap.  I lost some virtual notes which I can’t recover.  The notes in question were writing ideas plus quotes.  I collect quotes.  Occasionally I even think of something profound on my own and add it to the list.  I’m quite proud of myself when I do this as my quotes are in good company of the great and good quoters of our times.  I’m passionate about quotes like some are about football or shoes.  Whenever I come across a quote that really speaks to me I add it to my list.  Sometimes I’ll come across a quote when I’m feeling down so looking for solace, while other times I’ll be feeling motivated so looking for inspiration.  The quotes I collect can be from any author, from any era, or about any subject.  The common theme is they all speak to me in some way.

I have quotes for love, sadness, depression, inspiration, humour, and friendship, to name but a few.  While not good at remembering and recalling quotes, I keep my list handy so I can draw on it whenever I’m in need of something to help me in any given situation.  I refer to my list when writing a condolence card, impressing a prospective beau on a dating site, or sending a cheery email to a friend who’s had a bad day at work.

I’m a very sentimental being.  Quotes are like children.  The ones written by others are like adoptive children created by someone else but still cherished by me.  The ones I write are a product of my nurtured and inspired mind and I’m ever so proud of them.

I guess I have some romantic idea that when I die someone will go through my virtual files and find my genius among my quote collection and forever will my name live on for posterity.  Though when I’m back down on earth I realise the truth is that once I’m gone my virtual world will be forgotten or deleted.

When this happened today I was sad, then upset, then angry.  There is still a residual melancholy about it and what I’ve lost in terms of my inspirational directory.  True I can start creating a sequel, but it will be different since there is no way I can recall over five years of my scribbling.  But in the big scheme of things this isn’t as important as real life.  True the quotes can sum up a feeling or thought very succinctly, but they are mere words on a page and can’t be there to hug my friend who just got diagnosed with breast cancer or drink a toast with my friend who just got contracted to write for television.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A picture paints a thousand words…

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Ok, maybe not a thousand words are coming to mind, but this evocative image certainly brings up a good few!  I can relate to this illustration because my mind needs seduction before my body follows suit.

This is going to come across as big headed so I will preempt it by saying that within my self doubt I look in the mirror and don’t see anything worth writing home about.  In fact, I’ve always thought I’ve had boyish features.  However, I have found that I can clean up well in an emergency and that some men do find me attractive.  Some of these men give me compliments, and while I’m hugely flattered, I feel they can’t see beyond the makeup.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel we need to be physically attracted to those we hope to get close to, but as the George Bernard Shaw quote goes “Beauty is all very well at first sight; but who ever looks at it when it has been in the house three days?”.

For me physical attraction is like an appetiser.  It makes me giddy to know a chap finds me appealing.  But I don’t want to stay on the appetiser course, I want to have my mains so I can connect on an intellectual level.  That doesn’t mean I expect him or me to be the brain of Britain; I’m not looking for a fellow teammate for University Challenge.  But I want to know more about how he ticks and to find some common ground.  Do we have similar interests or sense of humour?  Do we share similar experiences of our younger years in where we lived or how we grew up?  Do we relate to each other’s fears or dreams?  Does he collect quotes, like bluebells, or sing in the car?

I also crave to spend time doing the everyday things to get to know him better.  Going for a walk, making a meal, playing a board game, or just sitting in a pub chatting are all captivating for me.

It’s all these cerebral bits that increase the desire within me.  When my mind is stimulated then I’m ready for the dessert course, hopefully a trolley laden with lots of sweet dishes!

An open Letter to the 498 MPs who voted for Article 50

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

The Great British Moronathon

Dear Morons,

So you’ve done it then. To show a small number of little-englander xenophobes that they should vote for you instead of UKIP, you’ve shot your own country and its population in the fucking face  (Note: they won’t vote for you anyway).  You’ve taken one look at the right wing press and a handful of crackpots threatening rioting in the streets, cacked your pants, and sold the people, your people, down the river.

Labour MPs (apart from the rather heroic 47 who put their conscience and country before their frankly nuts party), you’ve handed the most right-wing Conservative government ever a blank cheque to enact the most painful Brexit possible.  Of course, it won’t be you who suffer, but your constituents, so that’s okay, no? Is it perhaps that the bigger the shit-fest May makes of it, the more you think Labour can capitalise? Or is it because you…

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Bee in My Bonnet…

Speaking of bonnets, why do I care what clothes people are wearing?

It seems we are obsessed with what others wear, especially celebrities.

I just logged onto my email account, unfortunately one of those that have lots of advertisements of “news” stories I just don’t want to miss.

What’s the headline for today?  Animals close to extinction? Global warming on the rise? Many face food banks this Christmas?

No, apparently we all want to know which are the best dressed celebrities in 2016.  Phew, now I guess I’ll sleep sounder tonight!

Be A Human…

I feel sorry for men.

More to the point, I feel sorry for the men that feel they can’t express their true emotions.

Having spent my entire life as a woman, I can’t fully understand the pressure men are under to “be a man”.  It must be terrible to grow up being told to “man up” whenever emotions start to surface.

Why do we associate manliness with having a lack of emotion?

We are all human beings, and as such, have come complete with a vast array of emotions, so why not use them as and when they are needed.

A man that lacks emotion doesn’t appear any more manly to me.  However, in some sense he appears less human to me.

Emotions are a way of expressing how we feel, whether we are happy, sad, joyful, scared, content, surprised, angry, or wherever we happen to be in that moment.  How wonderful it is that we can communicate to ourselves and others how we are feeling at any given time.

There have been times in my life when I have suppressed certain emotions from certain people because of their reactions.  For example, if I’m feeling sad, there are some around me that want to move me on from my sadness so I’ll often hear “aw, don’t be sad” as if it’s a bad thing.  The only bad thing is not experiencing that emotion which means I’m not being true to myself.  What is so wrong with feeling sad?  If we never felt sad then we wouldn’t know how to recognise happiness when it came along.  And what if we were perpetually happy?  Isn’t that just as bad?  I don’t want to be a robot, I want to be a human.

Why do we see some emotions as good, i.e. happy, joy, surprise, but others as bad, i.e. anger, sadness, despair?  They are all good in equal measure.  Sure I’d worry about a friend that was feeling sad if that sadness was going on for many weeks or months.  But equally so I’d worry about someone that was happy all the time.  I’d be concerned that the happy they show the world is merely a face they put on in the morning to mask their true self, and that perhaps inside they were in utter sadness.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think it’s great to be happy.  But I also think it’s great to express all the other emotions that come up from time to time as a result of life’s challenges.

In recent years I’ve made my emotions my friends.  I feel what I need to feel and let it take over my being.  I find when I don’t fight back to suppress them, they last as long as they need to get me through whatever challenges I’m facing and I’m much calmer from the experience.

So let’s embrace the fact we have come with a complete set of emotions and we know how to use them and “be a human”!