Arthritis, physical and mental health

Good, good afternoon everyone, how are you doing?

Come on in and let’s have a little chat – I am afraid that this post may not be as positive as usual and there is a content warning for this post: I speak around depression. But current circumstances are something I want to talk about.

Essentially, I have had problems with my back since I was in year 7 (12 years old), I slipped on ice and tore the muscles in my lower back. Every so often, I would have a flare up that resulted in some quite severe pain. I would go to the doctors and, like clockwork, be prescribed some pain relief and onwards I would go. In December 2017/January 2018, it was really bad. I ended up needing an MRI because of the sensations I was having down my legs; numbness, burning, pins and needles. The A&E stated it was muscular and that the MRI would show nothing. It turned out I have a couple disc protrusions and arthritis in the lower half of my back.

As you can imagine, I wasn’t pleased. But I went on with the pain and taking medication as needed. It eventually started in my hips over the next year and I ended up (and now) taking pain medication daily just to keep on top of the arthritis. Recently, my knees have now given way and the bad flare ups can last for a few weeks. But the toll it has taken on my mental health is something that needs to be discussed. I hope by sharing this, I can help someone else reach out if needed.

Most of the time, I can quite happily continue on with life, make light of my situation and just do things as best I can within my ability. But these last few weeks, with my knees being swollen and having odd sensations, I can barely walk for 15 minutes. I have had to rely on family to drive me to the shop, or to the vets for little Brenda. It is not a great feeling, I will grant you that. But each time a flare up occurs, it seems to feel worse. I hit a very low point, fuelled by frustration and panic. One thought that has recently stuck with me is: “if this is me at just 24, what am I going to be like when I turn 30, or 40?!”

It is quite scary how much I am impacted, because I worry about my physical independence, I have always hated relying on others, feeling like I should always depend on myself only. To me it is a very real possibility that I just will not be as mobile in just a few years or decades. It fuels my anxiety to an extreme. Most people will say not to think like that, but if I live in complete ignorance, then the shock of what may come will hit harder. That expectation does not get me low despite the anxiety, it feels realistic.

But when I have flare ups, yes, my emotions run high. This is because I suddenly feel so limited, unlike with mental health, I don’t have any warning signs, I wake up and am stuck in bed. If the pain is beyond control, I do become upset, I can become someone who feels like everything is meaningless – near nihilistic. I am like this for the first few days, just wanting to cry and do nothing else. When I become used to my “limited” capabilities, I adapt, so I can study in bed, have a little more assistance with the guinea pigs or getting somewhere I need to be. I am thankful I have such a great support network.

At the moment, I am struggling a little bit with adapting, I am unsure how many weeks this flare up has been going on for to be honest. It feels like a long time. But that is what happens with a chronic condition. The ways in which I cope I feel are healthy, I use the spoon theory to delegate my time well, I have found ways of adapting so things I need to do are still done without much impact on my body or mind and I have a support network to help keep my spirits up.

One thing I am truly thankful for is that I never feel worthless, I don’t feel as devalued because I cannot do as much. I remind myself, the pain is temporary, this is just a temporary new normal. If you suffer with chronic pain, I hope you know you are still as worthy as any other human, you are absolutely brilliant and I see you. I applaud your bravery for fighting every day and continuing on as the fabulous human you are. Because it is hard, at least in my experience. The impact on mental health is no laughing matter, and if you need help I hope you seek it.

Keep on going,

L x

Routines: the night

Hello, hello loves!

Many posts ago I talked about morning routines and their benefit (see here). I have altered my routine a few times, as would be expected, to better suit my day and now I feel confident in my routine and like I can start my day right for me. Night routines have similar benefits to morning routines in that you can end your day on a positive, soothing and calming note.

Now, you have complete freedom over how you do a night routine, remember that it must be consistent and maintained in order to have a positive impact. A key message in the purpose of a night routine is to help settle your mind and be ready for a (hopefully) good night’s sleep.

I usually start my routine between 6-7pm. I take my medication, prep fresh food for the guinea pigs and feed them. I then usually complete my skincare routine, settle down and journal as well as plan the next day so that I know what I am doing and have purpose for the day that is coming. I then usually talk to my partner and settle for sleep. I say usually because there are days where I might complete the routine earlier if I am feeling low or drained, or change the activities that I complete. Either way I have had a relaxing end to my day and can end ona more positive note despite what might have happened in that day.

Creating a routine for yourself may be beneficial if you feel like you have no time to yourself, this can be your “me-time”. A chance to do activities you find relaxing such as reading or drawing or knitting, affirmations, having a bath or shower. I feel having a routine is a pillar of self-care. It is your way of telling yourself, your mind, your brain that it is time to reflect, relax and soothe.

Let me know if you have a night-time routine!

Much happiness to you,

L x

A little word on body image…

Good evening my lovely people, How is this Sunday treating you? I have attempted to help cook a lovely soup my family and I had for dinner but I am quite terrible in the kitchen. I have also enjoyed some time away from the screen by reading and planning out an application. Now I am here! I have noticed I have some new followers here, so welcome welcome do make yourselves at home! Please feel free to message or comment, I am hoping to foster a lovely community here. I would just like to quickly let you know that as this blog will now feature posts around mental health and mental illness ,I will be placing a new page on this blog full of useful information and links over the coming weeks which will be added to over time. It by no means replaces professionals and will always encourage you to seek professional help if you are at all worried about yourself. Now, on to today’s topic body image. Self-image encompasses not only our body image but also our views of our personality and our abilities. As much as I would love to delve into the psychology of each one and give an account of my experiences, I will stick with body image today given it is so heavily reported on. I have witnessed firsthand the terror a toxic body image can unleash. This is because I have battled in a long, draining war with my body image for gosh 14 years, since I was 10 years old. Now I will admit, my restrictive eating habits formed as a way of being able to control something, anything. It was the only thing I could control when I was having nearly 5 panic attacks a day. But around 18 months later it morphed into more. I went to secondary school. I was called fat by a group of young girls older than me despite me being underweight at that time. That was when I really started looking in the mirror. From then, I have never felt comfortable in the skin I was in. My episodes bring the worst of that out. I started a lot of unhealthy habits and such negative coping mechanisms that I am struggling to untangle the web. Due to binge eating and many medications I am the highest weight I have ever been. Yet it is now I choose to start a journey of self love. I am tired, so tired, of these unrealistic images perpetuated every single place I look, every corner I turn onto. I am tired of tying my worth to images of what society deems an acceptable body type, of bodies we cannot afford to look like. I have got to learn to love my body as common as that sounds. My body has been through thousands of panic attacks, thousands of mood swings, hundreds of episodes, 11 psychiatric medication changes and so, so much more. Yet I show it very little gratitude most days. I am sick of the rhetoric. I am sick of the hatred I show myself. I have a very long road ahead but I will be damned if I spend another day hating what I see in the mirror. Because that is not who I am. I am a kind person, full of love and passion which I always show to others. It is high time I stop being a hypocrite and start practicing what I preach. L x

I’m back: part 2

When you’re going through hell, keep on going. Winston Churchill
Happy Monday and good morning all! Thanks to recent glorious weather I have just spent a while mopping up mucky paw prints from all over the floors (thank you Raven). I thought I would start off this week with a very apt quote that has stayed with me throughout the years. It serves as a very strong reminder for me that no matter how far I fall, I keep going and keep fighting. It is what feels like a very real and powerful message. Now, the main reason for this post is just to become a bit more open about what has been going on, what I hope to achieve in the coming months and what kind of topics I will be posting about in the future. As I have dedicated this part of the internet a place of positivity for myself, and for you, I will always try to remain hopeful. But there may be times when my honesty is a bit more raw, with those posts I will place a content warning at the beginning. What is currently going on (CW: Mentions diagnoses and current impact e.g. hallucinations) Okay, let’s get the hardest part over first: my health. *Deep breath* I have multiple mental health diagnoses that impact me greatly which I will share more about as time passes. For now I shall just rhyme them off; Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, Recurrent Depressive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Agoraphobia. I also have a food phobia and disordered eating. Gosh, I will be honest, seeing that written down makes me emotional but it’s what I have been given. Now, my agoraphobia is a result of my breakdown in April 2018, I can barely leave the house and haven’t really been able to unless I am with at least one of 4 trusted people, even then I am really distressed inside. My food phobia has come from 14 years of disordered eating. Very long story short, I completed 10 months of intensive therapy last year using a fair few therapeutic models and approaches, I was seemingly well. I got discharged on 24th October. I was well in November. Then 1st December comes and everything crashes. Week by week my motivation goes, my sleep becomes disturbed, my mood goes all over the place as if I was not on my medication. I tried my best in December to go back to basics like I learned. I created goals and tried exercise. But February has come. My paranoia, deep emptiness, loneliness and hallucinations have returned. There is a whole lot more happening but it can get complicated. Despite it all, I am getting on with life. I have to. I still find enjoyment in some things, I am currently on a self–love journey, I still adore my little guinea pigs, I am doing surprisingly well in university (82% on my latest assignment, very pleased). One thing I firmly believe is that I never give up, despite it all, I keep on going. I listen to my body and try my hardest to take care of myself. It also helps I have the most supportive partner and support network to keep me in check. I do feel that the winds will change. So that is what I am going through. I am okay, and will keep on going! So what do I hope to learn, achieve and do? I will admit since therapy and getting further into psychology with university, I do have a different outlook that I am not too sure how to explain. My self-awareness feels a lot more heightened and I know what my brain is physically doing. So it feels like what is going on is sometimes only happening to half of me and the other half is absolutely fine and separate from it all. Either way, it is a complex situation. I know things will improve because they have before. So I have this knowledge. I have my foundations for self-care and well-being. Where do I go from here? Well, I will work with the services to see if I need further treatment or what can be done. I think it’s time to start and finish some projects I had in mind during a mania phase and put my passion out there, give myself positive things to focus on. I feel like this is where I learn my distress tolerance, and learn how to move forward and get through what I am going through. Keep on going. I think for me to grow I need to do a lot of reflection, see what has been going on and how I can react differently next time, how I can act now and for the future. There is always something to learn. What will be featured on this blog in the future? I am very excited about what I have planned for the future posts here at PP! There are going to be plenty of book reviews as I am really enjoying reading right now. In terms of wellness, I hope to look at goals, a bit more in-depth into routines, other aspects of wellness holistically, I will also be sharing my journey of self-love. Things are going to become a lot more personal and I will be sharing my story of mental illness, how my mental health has impacted me, what has changed over the years and what has not. I want to start a real conversation on everything I have experienced and what has come of it. I hope what I speak about in the future resonates with you, inspires you or even maybe helps you to feel a little less alone. Thank you for standing by me. Much happiness to you, L x

I’m back: part 1

Hello to all of you wonderful beings!

First order of business! I absolutely cannot believe it has been two months since I had my first ramble. I really want to apologise to you all for taking so long in coming back. As it will be clear going through my posts, I am someone who has mental illness. I am trying my best to get better though I feel like I am only getting worse right now and as appreciative of the NHS as I am (believe me, I love the NHS), they’re not helping too much at the moment but hey, everyone and everything are doing their best!

There are a few other reasons as to why I have taken so long to post. I wanted to make sure I knew where I was going with this blog for starters. But a big reason why is because I was ashamed. I felt that to talk about wellness and well-being as a whole, I myself have to be some form of enlightened being who had it all sussed out. I felt like I had to have the aesthetic, the perfect being who has it all figured out. Then something happened that usually does with me. I read a book. This book is about the science of self-love (there will be a review, most definitely) and the author felt like me early on in his journey as a speaker, but learned that sometimes, going through the journey can have some very interesting insights and you don’t have to know everything to speak what you are passionate about.

So… I am back.

I hope you are ready to join me in my next evolution (I don’t feel like journey is a word that suits me, personally). Tomorrow I will be going more in-depth about how I am hoping to grow from what is happening to me right now.

Next order of business! I wish to say welcome to all of my new visitors and followers, please know I am so truly happy and grateful to have you here. I hope you find some positivity from reading my posts and thoughts, maybe even learn something new. Also, please feel free to comment or message me in the contact form if you have any questions, comments or just want to chat: I love speaking to new people! i will definitely be more active from now on.

Finally, if you cannot already tell, this blog will be now be used for my process as I try and recover. I will be writing about what I know best, which is mental health and illness, alongside wellness.

Thank you all so so much for reading this, I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

Much happiness,

L x