To my followers…

Uncategorized

To all of you whom may have been following my blog so far, I’m sad to say I’ll be taking a short break from writing. I should hopefully be back soon, but possibly with a few changes. As usual, please feel free to contact me if you need any advice or have any helpful comments. See you soon đŸ™‚

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Travelling with illnesses: be a pro jetsetter

Help for sufferers, Posts, Travel, Travelling with illnesses series

So obviously travelling is a nightmare, but it gets so much worse when you’re ill. Here are a few bits of advice for next time you hop on a plane.

1. Be organised.

Before you go, gather up all your documents and get them in order, and then write out an itinerary for your travel. Give yourself plenty of time and plan out any rest breaks or emergency stops in advance.

2. Get comfortable.

Pack a snuggly jumper, fluffy socks, and whatever else you need to get cosy. I like to bring a soft, lightweight scarf, so that I can use it as a blanket when it gets chilly. Wear comfy clothes and consider taking an extra pair of shoes that slip on and off. If you’re spending a good few hours on the plane, you need to do it in comfort, otherwise you’ll regret it later.

3. Pack your pills properly.

Make sure you have everything you need in your hand luggage (just in case), and bring all of your appropriate prescriptions as proof. Remeber to pack extra in case you run out or lose some. All of this means that can you can guarantee that you won’t lose them in the hold, and you have them in case of an emergency.

4. Stay hydrated.

One of the worst things about flying is that you get reeeaaallly dehydrated. Not only does this give you a headache, but it can severely effect your body, and make chronic illnesses feel ten times worse. Make sure you pick up a bottle of water in duty free, and make the most of any free drinks you’re offered in-flight. If you’re prone to dry skin or eczema, it’s also a good idea to pack a small, travel-sized moisturiser or emollient. Furthermore, rehydration sachets are brill as a pick-me-up if you feel worse for wear, and come in handy for hot weather as well.

5. Upgrade your seat.

It’s worth thinking about paying extra for more leg room, but as a last resort, you can always ask to upgrade to an empty seat once everyone has boarded. This is usually free, as no one is going to be using the seat anyway. This is especially useful if you have joint problems, chronic pain, a weak bladder, or any physical disability, because it means you get more room for movement and easier access to the aisle and toilets.

Hopefully, this will help the next time you travel. I’d love to hear if you have any suggestions, so don’t forget to like and comment. I’ll write a few more travel posts soon, so remember to stay updated! Thanks guys x

Travelling with illnesses: I learnt to be kind

Posts, Travel, Travelling with illnesses series, Uncategorized

If you’ve been reading my blog already, you might know that I’ve been on a volunteer trip recently, and it’s led me to explore the murky depths of travelling when chronically ill.

Unfortunately, past me decided it would be a good idea to book a very expensive and very challenging journey to the other side of the world, without considering that I had a year to wait before I could go. Now, all things considered, a year isn’t a very long time. When you have to fundraise £2000, a year is positively miniscule. On the other hand, a year is also a helluva long time for someone with a chronic illness, and a lot can happen over a few months. For example, I didn’t expect that my fibro would stop me from completing my last three modules at university, or that it would leave me bed bound for weeks on end. In hindsight, I should have known something would happen.

Anyway, all things considered, I still went through with it, because I’d put a lot of time and money into getting there and there was no way I was giving up so close to the end.

It made me realise, though, that there were a lot of people who would do anything for the opportunity that I had, and that I shouldn’t pass it up so easily.

Getting to my destination, I also realised that there were loads of people who don’t even have half of the life that I have back at home when I’m being miserable. It just goes to show, I might be suffering, but there are millions of others out there who are all different yet all still suffering in their own way. It is important to remember that there are others out there who also need help.  And sometimes, it makes sense to stop for a moment and do them a favour, even if it is just to hold open a door or make a cup of coffee for someone.

Your actions could potentially make someone else’s day a lot brighter.

so please, if you’re thinking of telling someone that they look nice today, or if you have some spare change as you walk by that homeless guy on your way home, please follow your impulses and do it. You never know, you just might change a life.

This will help if you feel suicidal.

Depression, Help for friends, family, and significant others, Help for sufferers, Posts, Uncategorized

Having been away on a volunteer trip for the last two weeks, I somehow managed to mess up my antidepressants. Oops. I’ve been in a bad way recently, and most of my blog is on hold for now. However, I thought it was urgent to post this, so here goes…

This is what you should do if you find yourself in a similar situation; feeling depressed or even suicidal.

1. SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY.

Call a friend, a family member, or a helpline.

Having someone to talk to can help calm you down and rationalise what may potentially be an irrational bunch of thoughts. And besides, at least it gives you someone to rant to! Getting help can make a difference in what could potentially be a life- threatening situation.

I’ll add some useful helpline links at the bottom of this post for anyone who may need them, but a quick Google can do just as good.

2. Be mindful.

Practice breathing, focusing on your body, and acknowledging (and then dismissing) your thoughts. By spending a few minutes doing this, you can help yourself to relax and think more rationally. This is especially useful if you have no one there to help and have to rely on your self to calm down.

Another mindfulness trick I like is to count out loud three taps of my dominant thumb onto each finger of my dominant hand, starting at my pointer, working to my pinkie, and then going back along to my pointer again. Basically make a pinching motion three times with each finger and repeat until you feel calm. This helps you to focus on something physical, grounding you to the present.

3. Get to your safe space.

It is very important to find your safe space, somewhere where you can relax and feel comfortable. Often, this will be under your duvet, in the bathroom, or in another quiet place. However, if you are feeling suicidal, it is important that there is someone else available to you if you need help. I would advise that you have a ‘secondary’ safe space, at a friend’s house, for example, where you have the added benefit of another human for comfort and support.

When feeling severely depressed, this is a good method of reducing any external stimuli, which may otherwise impact any anxiety or bad thoughts that you may be experiencing.

4. Treat yo’self.

Eat your favourite food, read a book, listen to your favourite song, or watch a film. Whatever it is that helps you to feel better.

Personally, I like to hide under my bed covers (safe space) with a good book and loads of food (think: ice cream, chocolate, cheese, crisps), or I’ll run a bath and sit mindfully whilst it is filling. Locking myself in the bathroom with the noise of the tub filling gives me a chance to get away from the stress of the ‘outside world’.

Anyway, that’s all for today, but I’d like to round up by asking my usual request, let us know if you have something to share! And one last thing..

You are loved ♡

********

International:

https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

https://www.befrienders.org/need-to-talk

UK only:

https://www.samaritans.org/

https://www.mind.org.uk/

********

Beat back the fog in five simple steps

fibro fog, Help for sufferers, Posts

Having fibromyalgia has many a downside, but one of the most irritating (and most overlooked) issues of the condition is fibro fog. From losing your glasses (check the top of your head) to forgetting an important appointment, the fog ruins us all at some point. Here are five simple steps to get the worst of it under control…

1. Establish a routine.

If you set a daily routine, it helps to keep track of those pesky things that love to disappear, such as your glasses and keys. I like to leave my keys in the same place each day so that I know that they will definitely be there when I need them. Likewise, checking for That Important Thing every time you do a certain task can help to set up a routine.

2. Set reminders on your phone.

I ALWAYS forget to take my meds, as in, I forget my meds every. single. day. To combat this, I have two reminders set on my phone, one at my usual wake up time, and one a few hours later, just in case. Honestly, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and it’s prevented countless numbers of flares.

3. Invest in a diary, journal, or planner.

Planners are useful for getting down those daily events that often slip your mind, and getting a little pocket diary means that you can take it everywhere for when you need it the most. Appointments, anniversaries, contacts, and to do lists can all be jotted down, and you can even take note of any important symptoms or fibro issues that you think are important. This way, you have an ‘external hard drive’ for your brain.

4. Load up on post it notes.

If there’s something you know you will forget, there’s nothing better than a huge glowing sign to remind you. Although not quite huge or glowing, an easy trick to help you to remember something is to leave your future self a post it. They have the added benefit of being colourful, sticky, and small enough to take with you, so you can use them anywhere and anytime. Write down a quick message and stick it where you’re sure to see it (mirrors, doors, the kettle, your fave snack).

5. Learn to ‘pace’.

Pacing is a technique often used by people with chronic illnesses which allows them to function for longer. Although it primarily helps with fatigue, it is also good for curbing mental exhaustion and cloudiness. Set out daily goals with steps towards each one, but make sure that they are small and achievable with breaks in between. Remember, set yourself a limit and do not exceed it. This way, you are less likely to spur on any foggy moments that would usually be caused by tiredness.

Have you got any of your own ideas? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to like the post so I can see that I’m not just talking to myself *awkward laughter*.

Five things to do when you don’t know what to do with yourself.

Depression, Help for sufferers, Pain, Posts

Sometimes, being tired and in pain can make you feel a bit restless, and when it does, I sometimes find myself struggling to know what to do. It’s times like this when I really wished I had some advice, but, as it stands, I never actually got any. That’s why I’m writing this post today. Here are my five favourite things to do when I don’t know what to do with myself…

1. Build your ‘mind palace’.

As a kid, I was quite an introvert and, being an only child, I often had to find ways to amuse myself. This usually meant making up fictional lands inside my head and filling them with fictional people that had fictional stories. They often resembled the plots of my favourite novels, or the odd movie I had seen. It sounds silly, but escaping into my mind made me feel like I had control over my microcosm, and gave me a certain amount of relief from reality. Not much has changed. Although much more confident and outgoing, I still rely on my own inner sanctuary when I get stressed, bored, or in need of a distraction. You should try it sometime.

2. Eat some food.

You know the drill. You’ve been on a healthy eating craze for the last two weeks, and you’re doing so well, but now you’re miserable, you’ve got cravings, and you need a mega distraction from your current state. Take it from me, everyone needs a break now and then, and giving in to that tub of ice cream in the back of your freezer won’t do any harm as long as you start tomorrow afresh.

3. Talk to your ‘person’.

You can probably agree with me here that most people are lovely in small doses, but then they get a bit annoying. However, most of us tend to have at least one special person (or animal, as younger me would like to insist), and they are the ones who don’t wear you down. It’s pretty obvious that it’s these special people that we need to look after and keep hold of, but it’s also important to remember that they have a purpose in our lives too, and will probably be more than happy to help. When you’re feeling down, give them a shout, send them a text, or plan a night in. Having someone to talk to about how you feel will make you ten times less miserable. It’s like they say; “a problem shared is a problem halved.”

4. Surf the endless pages of the internet.

It’s very easy nowadays to drown under the endless amounts of information available at the click of a button, and nearly everyone can agree that it can get a little dangerous. However, having a vast sea of distractions at your fingertips is the perfect remedy to a case of restlessness. Next time you’re feeling meh, use the time to catch up on your social media, Google any weird questions you have, or dive into an endless array of buzzfeed quizzes. I can guarantee that you won’t he disappointed.

5. Have a Netflix binge.

Losing yourself in a box set, or, if you’re more traditional, a series of novels, is one of the best ways of escaping your current situation. By watching a film, video, or tv series, you don’t have to concentrate much on what’s at hand. This makes it a brilliant way to lose yourself without having to over-process your foggy mind.

These ideas are just a few of the things I do to avoid feeling restless, however there’s many more out there that I’m sure you will have tried. Feel free to comment if you have any suggestions, as I’d love to hear them, and they could help other readers the next time they are feeling naff.

Six tips for a Sufferer’s S.O.

Help for friends, family, and significant others, Posts

It’s difficult to know what fibro is like when you don’t actually have it, and plenty of people have asked me what I would like them to do to help, because they simply don’t know what I need. I’m going to share some tips; for best friends, parents, siblings, significant others, and anyone else who wants to help. I think you’ll find that most sufferers will appreciate it.

1. Educate yourself!
Nothing is quite as powerful as knowledge, and one of the most simple and inexpensive things that you can do to help is to learn a little about the illness. Read up on the symptoms of fibro, have a look into common pain management techniques, and find some articles about current research. I can almost guarantee that your fibro sufferer will love the effort that you have gone to in educating yourself about their illness.

2. Ask questions.
Some people don’t like others prying on the state of their health, but most fibro sufferers will agree that it’s nice to clear the air. It is difficult to know what to expect when you haven’t got any experience, and who better to refer to than the person themself? Ask them if you can help in any way; maybe by carrying something heavy, putting the kettle on, or even just enjoying their company in silence when they are having a bad day. Remember though, no one wants their independence taking away, so try not to over do it too much.

3. Know when enough is enough.
Like I said previously, it is easy to smother someone when you are trying to care for them. Similarly to before, if you feel unsure, just ask.

4. Treat them like you would everyone else.
No one likes to feel belittled, and the quickest way to do that is to act as if they aren’t ‘normal’. Of course, nobody is normal, really, but don’t change your actions towards someone simply because they have an illness.

5. Pick up after yourself.
If you live with a fibro sufferer, it can sometimes be difficult to remember that they can’t do everything that others can. This means that simple tasks around the house can get much more difficult than you think they are, and the last thing a chronic sufferer will want is to pick up their mess, let alone anyone else’s!

6. Gentle reminders can go a long way.
Many people with fibromyalgia get the notorious ‘brain fog’. Not only is this annoying, but can be potentially dangerous. One of my biggest issues is forgetting to take my meds on time, and a quick nudge from my boyfriend really helps to avoid a flare later in the day. It can also help with other forgetfulness problems, such as leaving my keys in the fridge by accident or forgetting to let the dogs outside before bed.

7. Patience is a virtue.
I can honestly say that having fibromyalgia drives me up the wall, whether it be the pesky ‘fog’, the achey muscles, or just feeling tired and miserable. I can only imagine how my poor family must feel when I snap over something silly they said or did, simply because it pushes me over the edge. Please remember that us sufferers don’t intend to be mean or bitter, but sometimes it is difficult to cope. Likewise, you may find that spending a lot of time around a grumpy, moaning, bag of bones isn’t very fun, especially if they are mid way through a flare and haven’t washed in a day or so (sorry!). If this is the case, make sure you get some ‘me’ time, and give yourself a break. Nobody blames you for getting irritated, and you will find that you appreciate your special person a lot more when you next see them. In the mean time, try to have some patience.

Dealing with a diagnosis

Diagnosis, Posts

One of the first bridges I had to cross on my fibro journey happened when I had my initial diagnosis. You can probably relate: after days and weeks and months of consultations, yoh finally got a letter in the post. It isn’t anything special, in particular. Just a white envelope, stamped as usual and containing a message from the doctor. For me, it was what that message said which caused a problem.

My family and I had expected, if not hoped, that I would have fibromyalgia; not because it was the easy route, but because it meant that I didn’t have to worry any longer. What we weren’t expecting, however, was the impact that it would have on my mental state. Funnily enough, getting a diagnosis of a lifelong illness (and a painful one, at that) is a nasty experience.

I had a whirlwind of emotions that day; relief, regret, resignation, but most of all, it was the churning sensation in the pit of my stomach that hit me hardest. In the time it took for me to read that letter, my life had changed. I wasn’t the same person as I had been two minutes earlier. The bubbly, motivated, fast-paced girl everyone once knew and loved had been replaced by a walking misery.

Because how can you be happy when you have to spend the rest of your life in pain? What’s left to live for when laying in bed takes effort, and getting out of it is even worse? Why would anybody choose to spend the rest of their life suffering, knowing that there is no cure? It took me a long time to figure it out.

The answer is this: there is more to life than your own body and mind.

It’s selfish, I know, but as an 18 year old girl I only really knew what it meant to push onwards and upwards, to “achieve” and “progress”. For me, that had always meant a good career, a wealth of knowledge, and a secure home in which to build my empire. That was my future. What I now realise is that, as wonderful as all this sounds, there is more to life than the future. There is the now. Like that cheesy saying goes, “today is a gift, that’s why it is called the present”. It might sound silly, but it’s true. Don’t take what you have for granted and, likewise, don’t knock it. What you have is beautiful- the people, the places, and the sea of memories that you collect as you go. Most importantly, make the most of it. Don’t waste your time worrying about that thing you’ve forgotten, or why your fibro fog made you leave your keys in the fridge, instead, laugh about it and use it as an excuse to call your friend up.

So then, what does all this mean?

Well, at the end of the day, we’re all stuck here on this earth, and nobody really has it easy. Yeah, you might feel depressed, and yeah, you might not be able to make it downstairs today, but why let that get you down? Why be miserable when you can change that?

My advice to you? Change your today so you can achieve the tomorrow you’ve always dreamed of. But in the meantime, enjoy what you have, even if it’s only a handful of painkillers and a season or two of your favourite Netflix binge.

Ten pain- busting tips to try TODAY

Pain, Posts

Now one of the things you should most definitely know about me is this: I am a sucker for a good life- hack. Dont get me wrong, there’s a few things where nothing but the ‘original recipe’ will do. When it comes to chronic pain, however, I think we can all say that we would try anything. Below I will be sharing my list of chronic pain hacks. Short disclaimer: little old me thinks these work brill, but not everyone has the same opinion. Remember to keep your mind open, but please don’t take my word as gospel. That being said, It won’t hurt to try, so go ahead and take a peek at my list…

1. Drink more water.
It sounds pretty obvious, but drinking more water helps avoid dehydration, one of the main causes of your day-to-day headache. I don’t know about you, but my day tends to go significantly better if I ditch the headache, as it gives me more of a chance to manage the rest of my pains. Plus, drinking more fluids helps flush out the toxins in your body, increases your metabolism, and helps you to think more clearly. Sounds pretty good to me.

2. Cut back on caffeine.
I’m not sure on the exact science behind this (although I reckon a little Google-ing here or there could sort that one), however, I’ve been given plenty of advice on this and, as far as I’m concerned, it seems to have done the trick for me. Cut down on coffee, sugary drinks and – the source of all evil – energy drinks. Not only will this help beat those shakes and sweats you’ve no doubt complained about, but it also appears to do some good for your pain. Remember, check out what your consuming, because you would be surprised by the amount of caffeine in some of your usual ‘not-very-caffeine-ey stuff’. Better to be safe than sorry, eh?

3. Swap those cheeky treats for some tasty, guilt-free alternatives.
Like I said before, consuming healthier things just makes you feel better, but it also has another benefit. Getting the vitamins and minerals you need, plus ditching those pesky calories, means that your body can function better. This means that your body has more energy to spare, helping you deal with pain. Furthermore, you’ve probably noticed that your fibro leaves you feeling low on energy, and that reaching for those calories is your first move. The weight that most fibro sufferers gain through this is one of the biggest contributors in making them feel naff, because it means carrying around extra baggage. Not only does this increase the amount of pain you may feel, but it also wears down your energy levels even quicker. It’s a never ending cycle. Cut out the rubbish in your diet and you’ll find that you cut this issue too. Lower calories = lower weight = less pain + more energy. It’s a simple equation. Similarly, those of you who find yourselves losing weight and muscle mass (thus making you weaker and in need of more energy) can plan your diet around this too, building on healthy fats, proteins, and wholegrains in order to build your body mass in a healthy way.

4. Exercise.
I have three things to say about this. Firstly; yes, I know it’s a pain in the you-know-what. I hate exercise too. Secondly, yes, this is the fourth tip I’ve given in what seems like an obvious list, but trust me, it gets better. Thirdly, well, this is where you need to pay attention. Pain makes exercise hard, and so does fatigue, but trust me on this, it pays off in the end. By building muscle mass and burning fat, you can help your body to cope better when it comes to the stress of fibro. Increasing your capacity for activity helps you to last longer, and you release a bunch of lovely endorphins along the way, which make you feel better emotionally too (yay!). It’s even been said that the endorphins that you release during exercise help reduce the amount of pain you may be feeling. Can’t go wrong, really.

5. CBD oil.
This is where is gets interesting. Get your learning caps on guys, were about to have a lesson in biochemistry. So, CBD oil is a plant-based substance that you can buy from your local whole foods retailer, such as Holland and Barrett. It is also known as Cannabidiol oil, and (don’t freak out) is a product that’s derived from cannabis. It’s a type of cannabinoid, one of the chemicals naturally found in marijuana plants. However, there’s no need to panic, you won’t get the ‘high effect’ that you would usually expect from the plant, because this is caused by a separate cannabinoid, known as THC, which isn’t present in this case. This means that CBD is legal, and so is available on the market at low concentrations for around £20 per bottle. Oh, and as far as we know, it is completely safe to use and has little to no known side effects (Woo!).

6. Massage it out.
Getting a massage, whether by a highly trained professional or by your bestie, helps to ease your achy muscles. Adding some fancy smelling aromatherapy oils can also help, giving you some mental relaxation too. Try some calming music or some candles to help set the mood if you’re at home, because a spa day is the perfect remedy for everyone. And if your pain doesn’t ease as well as you would have hoped? Well, at least you feel pampered.

7. A hot, steamy bubble bath.
Again, not only does it give you an excuse to feel pampered, but this actually can help with your pain. Soaking in warm water helps your muscles to relax, easing that annoying ache.

8. Heat pads, hot water bottles, and microwave buddies.
I have a microwaveable cat and believe me, he is my best friend. Using the same theory as above, the heat helps to relax your muscles, so bang it on your ache and hopefully you should feel some relief. Be careful though! Sometimes these can get too hot, so wrap them in a towel if you think you might get burnt.

9. Cool packs.
Put these on your aching joints to soothe and reduce any inflammation. Fibro often correlates with co-morbid diseases such as arthritis and hypermobility syndrome. If this is the case for you, you might find that achey joints can be eased by reducing their inflammation, and the cold temperature of ice packs are perfect for this.

10. Netflix and, uh… chill?
No! Not like that! Get your mind out of the gutter you filthy animal… Now, it might seem silly, but sometimes, when nothing else seems to be working, one of the best things you can do to ease your pain is snuggle up in bed with your fave movie and take your mind off it. I know, easier said than done, but it’s better than being in pain without the bed or the Netflix, right??

*** Please note that no microwaveable cats have been injured in the making of this post. ***