Categories
Anxiety Depression General health and well-being Mental Illness recovery

Happiness is…

The blossom on the trees, bright sunny days, the jolt of caffeine in my morning coffee, the smell of baking bread, laughing with my mum, the smell of well-loved books, the scrawl of bright blue ink from my pen, the crinkle of a packet.

Categories
General health and well-being Mental Illness The Spoon Theory

Pain, Pacing and Piggies

Today has been one of those days.

I woke up this morning feeling as if someone had beaten me up as I slept. I tentatively opened my eyes, grabbed for my glasses, struggled to pull myself up out of bed and slowly waddled into the living room.

I just knew how this day would turn out.

Drew handed me a coffee and I swallowed down three pills – codeine and celecoxib – sat on the sofa, and eagerly awaited some relief. I waited. I took out a guinea pig to cuddle (great therapy) and waited.

Nothing changed.

Days like these are frustrating.

The most frustrating thing about chronic pain is its unpredictability. Of course there’s particular activities that are bound to aggravate my back pain – and annoyingly standing/sitting too long is one such ‘activity’ – but sometimes the pain just comes out of nowhere.

I must admit though, I don’t always help myself.

For years I didn’t really face up to the pain issue. I’d do things without thinking and then suffer the consequences. I’d go out shopping in town all day and deal with the fact I’d be up all night in agony.

It didn’t occur to me then how destructive this was.

For some reason, I seemed content with punishing myself. I’d blame myself for having ’caused’ the pain, and then tell myself I had to deal with it. Although I’ve been prescribed analgesia since I was thirteen, I did anything to avoid using it. The pain was ‘my fault’ and ‘my problem’, and I wasn’t going to take the ‘easy’ option by taking some painkillers.

Incredibly destructive (and completely untrue).

I’m not sure when my attitude changed with regards to taking medication (although Drew will probably tell you I’m still incredibly stubborn when it comes to this) but one thing that hasn’t completely changed is pushing myself.
Let me explain.

Mistake #1

Yesterday I went into university and got out a couple of books from the library. I put these into my handbag, and decided to walk home.

Mistake #2

On the way home I pass lots of shops. I rang up Drew (I was feeling peckish) and asked if I needed to pick anything up. We needed milk, so I popped into a shop, grabbed a basket and some milk.

Mistake #3

There were so many things on offer I just couldn’t resist having a look and more and more items ended up in my basket. I got to the till, paid and walked out of the store feeling grateful for the wonder that is Heron Foods (and its vast selection of biscuits)

Mistake #4

I decide to walk the rest of the way home despite the fact I felt like my shoulder was being pulled out of the socket. I had bought far too much but I was already halfway there…besides, asking Drew to come and meet me would be a huge inconvenience.

Mistake #5

I continued to walk home whilst struggling – having to stop every couple of pages to catch my breath – and still this wasn’t ‘enough’ to ring Drew for a bit of assistance. I finally made it home, looking like I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards. Breathlessly, I rang the doorbell and stumbled through the front door, collapsed on the sofa and moaned about my throbbing spine.

Drew made sure to remind me how ridiculous I’d been.

This kind of thing happens far too often. I don’t know why I do this; I know it makes absolutely no sense at all, and of course I ended up paying for it for the rest of the day.

Pacing is a phrase banded around a lot in the spoonie community (see here) and consists of prioritising activities ensuring you don’t run out of energy by doing too much at once. I’m all too aware of this but I haven’t really grasped it yet.

I’m 22 and always want things done now.

It’s difficult to accept that sometimes things have to be done differently, and right now I feel like I’m taking one step forward and three steps back. I think that’s why I’m really struggling. I am trying to get better, but sometimes I really can’t help myself; I can’t shake the desire to be ‘normal’, to not worry about my every activity and how it’s going to affect me.

It’s such a vicious cycle, because my depression and anxiety fluctuates when I’m like this. I really really need to learn.

I’m currently curled up on the sofa wrapped up in a blanket, dosed up on codeine cuddling my guinea pigs and wondering when I’ll change my attitude for good and realise I need to look after myself a whole lot more.

I hope it’s soon.

Heather x

Categories
General health and well-being Mental Illness recovery

Happiness is…

…hot buttered toast, cosy nights in, guinea pig cuddles, sipping milkshakes with lovely friends, genuine smiles, the smell of an old book, crisp sunny days, bright lipstick, freshly baked bread

Categories
General health and well-being Product Review

Heavenly Feet with Nine to Five Heels*

Hello there, lovely reader. Today I have a lovely little review for you all. Before Christmas (which seems like so long ago!) I was contacted by the lovely Alison on behalf of Nine to Five Heels, which has launched a brand new range of insoles to make even the most devilishly painful shoes a delight to wear. I explained to Alison that my cerebral palsy causes issues with my feet and walking, and she said these would be perfect for me. I couldn’t wait to try them out!

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The packaging used for these was absolutely wonderful! A beautifully wrapped, exciting package packed with care is something I always appreciate. The crinkly pink tissue paper housed the insoles, which were helpfully packaged in rather beautiful cartons. These packages explain the idea behind the insoles, where ‘…leading UK podiatrists have been working hard…to create insoles that really do make killer shoes heavenly to wear.’ I admit, I’m not one for wearing heels every day. My hemiplegia makes this too painful and tricky, but I am a huge fan of my Dr Martens heeled boots (they’re the Marcy design i believe) and trying these out in heeled boots was the perfect experiment.

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As you can see above, this particular pair is clear and gives you instructions telling you where to place them into your shoes. What I noticed was a strong peppermint smell, which I found unusual at first, but it’s a great way to keep everything feeling fresh when on your feet all day. Don’t worry; people won’t be commenting on the peppermint smell when they’re in your shoes!

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The insoles are extremely flexible and will fit into any shoe regardless of heel height. The groves in the insole cradle your feet in the best way, allowing you to stay comfortably on your feet even after the longest days.

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I also received a wonderful little manicure set to keep my feet looking fabulous! How gorgeous is that?!

I received the insoles in two colours – black and clear – and there’s a third option in a gorgeous bright pink if that takes your fancy.

I am really enjoying these insoles, and in fact I have even taken to using them in my regular non-heeled shoes! They just wash clean when needed and are an absolute joy to wear.

Thanks so much to Alison for this beautiful package. I am completely converted!

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Why not check out their product range here?

I hope you’re having a fabulous weekend whatever you’re up to.
Heather X

Categories
General health and well-being

Health Update

Hello there.

It’s been so hectic. I knew doing a masters degree would be a step up, but at the minute I am swamped with work! I’ve also been having regular hospital appointments and so I haven’t been able to devote as much time to my little blog as I’d like. There’s lots of lovely posts in the pipeline; reviews, foodie posts and all that good stuff, and hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of things soon.

I got a spine mri back and luckily my discs look okay! I do have significant lordosis (inward curve) in my neck and lower back due to the big kyphosis (outward curve) in the middle of my spine, but other stuff is okay. My sacrum is apparently tilted and often locks when it shouldn’t, so that explains the pain there. I’ll be getting facet joint injections between vertebrae to help with the pressure pain, and honestly I’m really excited to see if they work.

I also had a blood test recently because I sleep constantly. We don’t know whether this is med related or pain related (fyi chronic pain isn’t just painful, it’s thoroughly exhausting) but we thought we would double check stuff.
I also went to see the immunologist as I had a severe reaction a few months ago; I have the weirdest allergy I’ve ever heard of! I have exercise induced wheat allergy. So basically I can’t eat wheat then exercise. And that even includes walking! I have to really learn to carry my epi pen with me at all times.

Apart from that, I’m feeling good. I’m getting uni work done and I’m feeling quite positive about things. There’s a few fabulous posts in the pipeline, I promise!

Hope you have had a fantastic weekend 😊
Heather X

Categories
General health and well-being My Life

Happiness is…

Hot cups of coffee, guinea pig cuddles, the light of the moon shining through the window, getting lost in a good book, hot showers, sleeping in, relief from pain, finished work, colouring (and avoiding going over the lines) , good friends, big smiles, realising that things will fall into place.

Have a great weekend,
Heather x

Categories
General health and well-being Hull Bloggers Informative posts Mental Illness

My 2015 round-up

Hello there. Now it’s safe to admit that Christmas is well and truly over. The decorations and trees in people’s houses have come down, and there’s talk of spring cleaning and resolutions everywhere you go.

In light of the New Year I feel a need to look back on it and reflect a little.

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2015 was an odd year. There were fantastic highs, and terrible lows, and not really much in between.

Let me explain.

2015 saw me finally accept I needed help for my depression and anxiety. Initially, this was a terrible situation. My anxiety was without a doubt at its worst. I found it almost impossible to leave my house without Drew. And when things got too much, I couldn’t bear to even bump into my housemates so I deliberately altered my sleeping pattern to avoid people. Of course, it wasn’t anyone’s fault, but things got so bad that every sound made my heart beat so fast. I’d wake up dripping in sweat, having been jolted awake by terrifying flashbacks to a traumatic time, and dealing with all this alongside chronic pain and third year was really very difficult. Though it was a definite low point, I’m pleased to say that things got better.

Because, what’s most important, is that I realised I needed help and made the decision to get it.

That’s a definite high point, because it was the best decision I ever made. Through a mixture of counseling and medication, I’ve managed to keep my mental illnesses under control.

2015 was also increasingly difficult with regards to chronic pain from my spinal condition and cerebral palsy. There were very bad days. So bad in fact that for a week or so my diet consisted of instant cuppa soup as getting up to cook things was just far too painful, especially when having to prepare things with my affected arm.

But, I am pleased to say that I made it through. And, in what feels like forever, I’m finally being listened to by doctors. For once I feel like people are listening. That people really do want to help. And as a result I’m seeing an orthopaedic consultant, neurologist, occupational therapist, physiotherapists, orthotists and having regular pain management. Though I know there will never be a cure for my cerebral palsy and spinal problem, I know I can look at managing their symptoms and getting the best out of my body. Slowly , and with the help of my occupational therapist, I’m learning to undo all that negative ableism that’s permeated my thoughts. I’m learning to accept that it’s okay when I can’t do certain things. I’m learning to accept that my best is more than good enough. I’m learning that I have achieved so much in spite of all these things and that I need to stop being so hard on myself. I’m finally learning to accept who I am.

It’s OK that I can’t always do things for myself. I’m doing my best, my absolute best , and that’s all I can ask for.

I certainly did my best in 2015 when I graduated from university with a BA hons degree in the summer. Those painful, long-winded nights in the library dosed up on codeine paid off. I did it, and for once I can admit that I did well. Here is a picture of Drew and I in our silly hats to prove it.

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I also got onto my MRes course at university, which is everything I hoped for and more. Fingers crossed I’ll be getting to wear that silly hat again once more!

2015 saw me getting more and more into my blogging. Blogging initially started as a way of achieving catharsis and discussing things I felt were important to me. 2015 saw my blogging continue to grow and I want to take the chance to say thank you for putting up with me! You’ve all been fabulous. You have no idea how much it means to me that people actually read what I write on here!

I also collaborated with some fabulous brands this year, which is absolutely amazing! I’d like to thank Personal Planner, Primula, Wren Kitchens, Al Porto, Ultradex, Nine to Five Heels and Stick to Stigu (just to name a few!) for the wonderful opportunities you have given me. It has been fabulous to work with you all and many thanks for your support!

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2015 also allowed me to continue making lots of friends through blogging. The summer event was absolutely fantastic and I’ve made some really lovely friends. I’m hoping that the #HullBloggers will go from strength to strength in 2016, and thank you all for being so lovely!

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It sounds a little silly but 2015 saw me get these two wonderful little things: my guinea pigs Smudge and Patch. They have provided so much joy through difficult times and I hope will continue to for as long as possible. They even made it into my doctors notes because they’ve helped with my well-being so much!

So though 2015 wasn’t the best in parts – there are some things perhaps a little too sensitive to mention on here that contributed to that – i am so thankful for the good times. I’m hoping to make 2016 much more positive now that my medication has been sorted out for everything and seems to be helping.

As always, thanks so much for reading if you have, and Happy New Year to you!

Look after yourself whatever you’re doing,
Heather X

Categories
General health and well-being Hull Bloggers Mental Illness Product Review

Jumping into 2016 with Stick to Stigu*

Hello there! I’m writing in the early days of 2016, and with a New Year comes new resolutions, ideas and ways of doing things. I’m a huge fan of organisation, and particularly due to my anxiety and depression routine is essential to keeping me calm: or at least looking like I know what I’m doing! Though phones are a handy way of keeping note of key dates, in my opinion nothing beats using a proper paper planner, and they can be such wonderful things to keep daily life in order.

When Helena from Stick to Stigu offered me the opportunity to try out their 2016 planner, I jumped at the chance.

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This is the first edition of the planner. What immediately appealed to me is the neutral navy colour, which would be suitable for everyone. The planner is ring bound, making it handy to keep a pen in place, and the tagline of ‘plan hard/play hard/rest hard’ is completely true to the interior of the planner.

There’s a lovely introduction from the Stigu team in the front. Here we find out that ‘Stigu is a juggler, and this planner is for all of us out there juggling.’ Well, this was just my cup of tea!

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I’m used to traditional planner layouts, where there’s often a week across two pages and a space under each day and date, but Stigu is different. Stigu has a week per page arranged in grid format, with a lovely big space opposite for doodling/note taking/to do lists. What is really lovely is the little reminders and Stigu doodles scattered throughout, reminding you to take rests, get energized or even create things!

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Each page brings with it something different, whether that be amusing doodles, anecdotes or handy little hints. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, and at least some thing on each page is guaranteed to make you smile. I particularly love the emphasis on making sure you rest, restore and ground yourself, and as someone work several chronic illnesses this is something I can really appreciate.

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There’s also the handy addition of yearly dates, which is good to use if you just need to glance at dates coming up.

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Each page has a handy tear off corner so you can keep up to date with each week on each page, and their web address is handily printed throughout.

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Overall I have to say I’m hugely impressed with this planner. It is everything I could need and more, and each time I pick it up there’s something about it that makes me smile. It is already coming in handy as I’ve jotted down my hospital appointments and other errands!

Thank you ever so much for Stick to Stigu for allowing me to review this. I absolutely love it, and I’m sure it’ll be stashed away in my daily handbag for the rest of the year!

Why not check Stick to Stigu’s social media accounts?

Happy New Year! I hope your Sunday is going well.

Heather x

Categories
General health and well-being

Ultradex Fresh Breath Oral Spray*

Hello there. Here’s a little bit of a different post for you today.

I was recently sent an Ultradex oral spray to review, and as I’m into health-related products I thought this would be great to have up on my blog.

I’m a huge fan of chewing gum and will often chew it about twice a day. I’m very picky when it comes to oral hygiene: I cannot bear to go without brushing my teeth at least twice a day, even if I’m so ill I can’t move!  I like having minty-fresh breath as – let’s face it – it’s just more pleasant for everyone.

The Ultradex mouth spray I received comes in a handy 9ml spray bottle which is perfect for throwing in a handbag or pocket when on the move. The product is developed by dental professionals and claims to ‘instantly eliminate odour-causing compounds, fight plaque and gum problems and be anti bacterial’. This is ideal to replace products such a chewing gum, and is much better for your dental health.

I have been using this spray when I feel my mouth could do with a freshen up, and I have to say I’m really impressed. Chewing gum – though enjoyable – can often lose it’s taste soon after chewing, and once disposed of the minty-freshness radically dissipates. Ultradex’s oral spray doesn’t do this; the quick burst of mint is enough to keep your breath smelling fresh for hours.

It doesn’t just mask odours, but actively eliminates them, making the product ideal for use before interviews and meetings to ensure fresh breath confidence.

It is also free from alcohol, but powerful enough so that one spray is all that’s needed to leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

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Ultradex actually has a complete oral care range, and I’d love to try it out. Why not check out their website?

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Many thanks to Ultradex; I’m sure this will become a handbag staple!

Hope you’re having a great Thursday whatever you are up to!
Heather x