THINGS PARENTS ASK – What can I do about my Child’s gaming obsession?

Lifestyle, mental health, Uncategorized, Writing

Here is the link to a blog I have written for my work concerning gaming addiction in young people and what parents can do to combat it.

THINGS PARENTS ASK – What can I do about my child’s gaming obsession?

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Is this a good place to start?

Lifestyle, mental health, Uncategorized, Writing

I am playing about with some writing at the moment. I want to intertwine the stories of 4 young women and include an element of mental health. Aimed at anyone really, but leaning towards a young adult audience. I started writing and have put together a passage of about 1000 words and thought I would post it on here to see if anyone has any feedback or comments. I know it’s not much to go on but it shoul give an idea of my writing style and the type of content. Let me know your thoughts 🙂

Ivy

Have you ever felt like you could be an outsider in your own life? Like a guest in someone else’s home, too uncomfortable to make yourself a drink or help yourself to a sandwich?  That was how it started.

There wasn’t some big event that kicked it all off – no defining moment of grief or melodrama – it just seemed to seep into the cracks of my personality and wash over me, with very little warning.

The loneliness didn’t help. That year it felt like I was always alone, just me and MTV and a confusing phone relationship with a boy who seemed to be as interested in getting to know me as he was avoiding any kind of communication with me in public.

Don’t get me wrong, there were parties and beach visits with friends, the usual social stuff that centred around the people that I managed to hide just enough of my personality to be associated with. Everything was the same but completely different somehow.

I don’t feel like I’m explaining myself very well.

All I can say is that I don’t remember where one version of me ended and the other began, but I do know that I started to feel different, like I had lost control over my life and was just a helpless bystander in it – hoping that someone else in the crowd was better qualified to deal with situation that was unfolding.

One of the main things I remember about my childhood was people telling me how pretty I was. People would often say to my mum, ‘Oh isn’t Ivy such a pretty girl’ or ‘She will be a heartbreaker when she grows up.’ These are, in fact, some of my earliest memories. I remember how proud mum would look as she bent down to stroke my shiny blonde curls, ‘You’re my beautiful girl, aren’t you?’ I would always smile and feel slightly awkward; I was terrible at receiving praise even then.

The more I heard it, the more it became part of the list of qualities that I learnt to attribute to myself as time went by. In my pre-teens, that list also included qualities like ‘clever’ and ‘talented’, but these swiftly faded and were replaced by ‘lazy’ and ‘overweight’ by the time I was about 12. And suddenly ‘pretty’ was all I cared about. It was like I felt it was the only one left so I better work really hard at it. I used to spend ages fantasising about being the most beautiful girl in the world, like a modern day Frankenstein’s monster, body parts of various popular culture goddesses sewn together and coated with a perfectly airbrushed finish. But, at some point, a ‘harmless’ yet constant  stream of daydreams started to take their toll – around that time, the bingeing began, and I started to panic.

Ella

As I scanned the room, I realised I had been stood there on my own for, what felt like, at least half an hour. If you multiplied that by how much of an idiot I looked and then a bit more for the awkwardness of it all, I had probably been standing here for about 7 days straight.  I had also become incredibly aware of how short and uncomfortable my dress was and the fact that my cheap, knock off ‘Spanx’ kept rolling in all the wrong directions, every time I moved – even if that was just to move from one foot to the other to stop the excruciating pain from my ridiculously uncomfortable shoes.

I checked my phone again. I have no idea why as I only had one bar of signal that kept fluctuating up and down, so it was unlikely to be of any use to me. Looking around I could see the problem. Apart from where the staircase came down in the middle, the room was completely enclosed and had no windows, due to it being situated a few meters underneath street level.

I looked over to the direction he had walked in – hoping to see him walking back towards me with two drinks in his hand and an apologetic look on his face. But all I saw were men in blue jeans with white shirts talking to pretty women with orange skin, with varying degrees of success.

It must have been about 20 minutes now. I stood on one foot like a flamingo and rotated my ankle. I didn’t know whether to stay put or go and have a look for him. Maybe he was in trouble or had been chucked out? As I released my foot back down and took a step forward, I felt my phone vibrate. It was a text from Ryan.

‘Where are you going?’

OK, I thought, trying to be funny and pull a prank on me. I looked around in a circle from where I was stood, but still couldn’t see him. I wasn’t amused, but I wouldn’t let on, I didn’t want him to think I was as boring as all of his previous girlfriends.

‘Haha you got me! Where are you?xx ’ It took a few attempts to send, but when it did I still wasn’t sure, as I didn’t get a reply. It was really starting to piss me off now. I walked over to a nearby sofa and sat down on the cold leather, avoiding the hole where the Gaffer tape had been vandalised, leaving the sticky side exposed and grubby.

As I sat and rubbed my calves, I remembered that we had sat here the first time I had come up to visit Ryan. We had spent the night drinking way too much vodka and laughing until we cried. I smiled as I remembered the way we danced and shouted to each other over the invasive thud, thud, thud of the bass. The way his gaze was permanently blinkered in my direction – I had the reigns and I knew it.

Another text.

Things people say when you have a chronic ilness…

chronic ilness, Uncategorized

So, I have seen quite a lot of blogs out there with a similar title to this one. And I’m pretty sure it is because one of the most difficult things we experience is the reaction of others to our individual symptoms and diagnosis.

I would like to start the post by saying that this is by no means me saying that people are awful and terrible and should be disciplined for their actions! Their comments and behaviours nearly always come from a place of finding it uncomfortable to be around you and your ilness and just generally having no clue how to handle it. I mean, if we ddon’t know how to cope with it half the time – how can we expect others to? So although this is a bit of an ‘offfloading’ or ‘whinge’ it comes from a place of love and understanding that people are generally doing the best that they can. Usually. 🙂

“Are you better now?”

No, it is called ‘chronic’ for a reason. I may geet lucky and be someone that manages to get rid of most of the worst symptoms, but in general this is something I will always have to consider. A relapse could be lurking around any unsuspecting corner….so yes I will be living my life to the fullest I can and staying positive so I can battle if it comes.

“My friend cured herself with…Why don’t you try…”

We don’t want to hear that people. If we are looking for weird and wonderful cures we will be sure to ask people, but until that point we probably aren’t ready to face the disappointment of dashed hopes when they eventually don’t work and we are back on the hard drugs. Like I say – it’s coming from a good place but it’s so often really unhelpful.

“Janet from Zumba class has MS and you would never even know – if she can do it you can!”

Never compare one persons ilness with another. You have no idea how demoralising this is. For a start MS is called the snowflake disease for a reason – no two people experience it in the same way and you judging us on our ability to cope with our ilness makes is feel like a pile of shit – seriously. We know you are trying to be positive and whatever but this is absolutely one of the least helpful things you can do. Please do comment if this has happened to you and how you have dealt with it! (Without punching people in the face)

“Just be positive! Don’t let it get you down! Fight it!”

I’ll tie bricks to your limbs, drug you, give you stabbing pains all over, a temperature, nerve twitches and nausea so bad you can’t eat and you can come back and do this at least 3 days of every week and we will see how positive you can be yes? We are trying to be positive but you saying that doesn’t make it any easier. In fact it makes us want to swear at you. Don’t you think we would much rather be in a positive mood if we could? Nobody chooses to feel down!

“But you’re always ill, you never make the effort to come out anymore”

Oh I do apologise – I’ll just turn it off for today then. *presses off switch* Aaaah much better. So what are we doing?

“At least it’s not cancer…”

Yes I am very grateful of that fact. But actually the symptoms aren’t dissimilar but that isn’t even the point. If you were in hospital with a broken leg, I wouldn’t come and visit you and say “Well at least it wasn’t a heart attack”. It’s so irrelevant and shows that you aren’t taking the person or their ilness seriously at all.

These are the main ones that I have experienced so far in my short time in this world – I would love to hear if anyone else has experienced these or any others. This isn’t just about physical ilness – to be honest I think mental ilness gets an even worse deal.

Thanks for reading my little rant – hope you found it either entertaining or helpful.

If you know someone who does suffer with their mental or physical health please do be mindful of the stuff you are saying and remember that you haven’t experienced what they are going through so perhaps just listening, understanding and giving them the support they need is better than giving poorly thought through advice that may make them want to make a voodoo doll of you and stick pins in it’s eyes.

Until next time! 🙂

The Breakfast Debate

Uncategorized

I have battled with breakfast over the years. It always seems to be the meal that gets eliminated as soon as someone is trying to save time or calories. During the time I suffered with an eating disorder, and had an obsessive relationship with food, I also found that this was the easiest meal to cut from my day. This could have been because I was too tired to be hungry enough to care about food at that time of the morning or it could have been due to the fact that I would always wake up late (and ofcourse my make-up and hair was far more important).

I have since realised that when people say that breakfast is the ‘most important meal of the day’ there is an element of truth to that. I think all meals (and snacks) are important and breakfast does seem to set the scene for your consumption for the rest of the day. So, to me, it isn’t just about the HAVING of the breakfast, it’s about what you actually put on your plate (in your bowl, smoothie glass, jug, hand etc.) and how much you enjoy it.

I first made the move to eating breakfast by having a bowl of whatever fruit I had in the house with a big dollop of full fat Greek yoghurt. I can hand on heart say that it was the beginning of the big changes I was about to make. I found that I woke up in the morning excited to get into my big bowl of fresh fruit goodness. I know it sounds a bit sad (like I don’t have a life) but actually there were some nights I went to bed actually looking forward to getting up and stuffing my face with it. And I do have a life – mostly thanks to that first little change I made to my diet.

I have now made the move over to breakfast smoothies. I know people think it sounds very pretentious and there is so much stigma attached to the ‘green smoothie yah? Yah, it really fuels me for my workout’ (said in my best Made in Chelsea accent) lifestyle. But I just find it is loads easier to get more goodness in there – it is as simple as that. After I have guzzled a frozen banana smoothie down, with added ingredients, I feel full and more awake to start my day (after I have recovered from the brain freeze).

Yesterday's smoothie & pint of wheatgrass & water

Yesterday’s smoothie & pint of wheatgrass & water

So I challenge you to just take one step and see how you feel after waking up and having a bowl of fruit every day for a week. You are already getting a couple portions of your 5 a day and it should make you make better food choices for the rest of the day. Please do let me know if you do give it a try – I’d love to know how you got on J

Here is a Deliciously Ella smoothie recipe that got me started with them. Recipes like this taste like they are really naughty so are a good way to get into the routine of it before you start adding stuff that makes it look green and sludgy (but still tastes great).

http://deliciouslyella.com/cacao-banana-avocado-smoothie/

The smoothie I had this morning was –

2 frozen ripe bananas, half of a ripe avocado, tbsp. almond butter, dessert spoon of ground walnuts & almonds with Q10 enzyme, dessert spoon of wheatgrass powder, cup of almond milk (adjust the amount according to how runny or thick you want it), tsp. cinnamon, 5 small soft dates.

It tasted amazing and I had it at 8.30am and I am still mega full at 11.15am. So no craving for sugary biscuits with my tea! *thumbs up*

Please do let me know if there is anything you would like me to write about in the comments below 🙂

Will give an update on all things multiple sclerosis related soon.

Chronic ilness, the mind & the self

Uncategorized

So, it seems pretty obvious that chronic illness will affect your mental health right? Yes, but the impact it can have on your mental health, I have found to be more varied than I had ever considered. For example – you have the worry of diagnoses, the tests, the waiting in hospitals, missing work, having to actually speak to Doctors and specialists and then relaying this information to the people in your life. This is all a no brainer. As is the actual stress of the physical illness – the aches, pains, sleep disturbance, anything that’s seeping out of anywhere it shouldn’t be at a time when it shouldn’t be and the unrelenting fatigue etc. But there is definitely more to it than that. Another thing that has challenged me is how it makes you question who you are and what your role is in life. Before being ill I was very sociable and outgoing – always up for a party or event of some kind. I was also a person that worked hard and was efficient – efficiency was one of my things. Since I’ve become a ‘grown up’ it has become a way that I measure my value, how much work I can churn out at a high standard. And then along came bowel disease followed by possible MS in the space of 12 months and it has made things a little trickier. Yes, I still work hard – but not to the standard I would like and I have less energy for a social life. But I have only begun to accept this in the last couple of weeks – 14 months since I started getting ill. And by acceptance I don’t mean be OK with it. This is one aspect of chronic illness that I don’t see people write about enough. The challenge of adapting to a new self.

Another thing is how you talk to people about it and how you manage their response. People don’t often ask me how I am or how the tests are going in social situations because they don’t seem to want to bring down the mood and talk about how crap it is to be ill all the time. That’s fair enough. People seem to be very uncomfortable with talking about stuff like this, I’ve found they generally have no idea what to say. They can’t say ‘hope you get better soon’ or ‘insert positive message here’ because you won’t get better soon and if you do it’s likely you will go back into being ill again – at some point. So I find that people don’t tend to ask me much at all – and this has obvious consequences. First comes the bitter ‘nobody asked me how I am’ thought then the guilty ‘oh but they don’t know what to say to me so it’s not their fault’ or ‘nobody wants to be bored by me talking about illness all the time’ – half the time I think they are just scared I’m going to cry.

So I guess what I’m trying to say in this blog is that chronic illness is a funny old business that doesn’t just attack your mental health from one angle. So if you do find you are unfortunate enough to end up in that position please prepare yourself for that. My advice would be –

Do your research – read about it, speak to people who have it, don’t sit at home alone worrying about stuff get out there and talk to people that know what you are going through. Laugh about the dark comedy that surrounds living with these conditions.

Try not to get frustrated – people won’t behave how you want them to. Humans react to situations in a myriad of ways and you can’t expect everyone to be exactly as you need them to be all the time.

People who think they know more about your illness than you do – this WILL happen and it will only sap away your energy to get stressed out.

Practice mindfulness – It is incredibly helpful and there are so many ways to do it that there will be something for everyone. It will help you to stop worrying about the future and ruminating on the past and just to be present in the moment and get in touch with your body (which I know can be difficult when our bodies seem to have failed us).

Take time to relax – I am terrible for this but I am starting to learn that I need time out just to lay down and recharge or my fatigue gets way out of control. It may mean cutting back on social things or strenuous hobbies for a while but may mean that you get back to being able to do them quicker.

Feeling sad is perfectly normal – grieving for a life, role in life or whatever that you used to have and that will now be very different is ok. In fact EVERYTHING YOU ARE FEELING IS VALID and it’s all OK.

Lean on those people that want to support you – I have struggled with feelings of guilt putting so much onto my boyfriend. Allowing him to look after me and do things for me is very difficult for me as I have always been independent and done things for myself. The reason that people live in families, friendship groups etc. is because we need others to survive and be happy. One of the things in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is to feel loved – allow whoever is in your life to show that love through how they support you. If they really do care about you it will make them happy to be there for you.

Now I’m no expert of course. But I have been both mentally ill and more recently physically ill for most of my life and the things above have taken a long time for me to accept – but here they are and I hope they help you in some way.

Oh and lastly, if someone offers you a CURE ALL supplement or diet then they are severely misguided and talking rubbish. No one thing is a cure all for everyone.

No, not even Aloe Vera. 🙂