MS Society Information Day – Taunton, Somerset

Challenging Situations, chronic ilness, Uncategorized

This was my first day of this kind – obviously, as my diagnosis was so recent – and I didn’t really know what to expect or what I wanted to get out of it, just that I wanted to see what it was all about.

Our lovely friends, Dee and Tucker, had invited us to go a few months before and offered to drive us down – it seemed like the perfect opportunity to spend some time with them and get some more information around Multiple Sclerosis.

I didn’t know how it would feel to be around lots of people with the same disease as me. Previously I had only ever knowingly been in a room with one other person at a time with MS, so it intrigued me as to how it would feel knowing that most of the people there would have been through, or are currently going through, similar issues to me. Obviously it effects everyone in it’s own unique way but there are, ofcourse, similar threads of themes weaved in to each person’s story.

It actually felt really good knowing that everyone there would just get it. If I got an attack of the shakes or fatigue, nobody would wonder what is wrong with me, they would understand. That felt pretty cool actually. 🙂

The talks were really interesting and informative and delivered by people who were very passionate about making a positive impact on the lives of sufferers. Either by researching different ways of managing the symptoms or treating the disease itself. It felt good to know that masses of work is going on all over the country trying to expand on the very limited knowledge that we already have about it.

The talk about mood & cognition was especially good for me. It was great to hear an obviously very qualifed and experienced psychologist stand up and confirm that actually I’m not going mad, MS is not just a physical thing – it can play havoc with the signals and chemistry of the brain. I mean, I already knew this, but seeing someone actually say it out loud in those terms made me feel better about it – It’s not just me then…

They provided a lovely lunch, all free, with so many choices! There were also refreshments after each talk, giving people an opportunity to meet others and network.

We were told about all the new treatments that are in the trial stages right now. There are quite a few exciting things that should be cropping up in the next few years, including the stem cell stuff that was covered in the Panorama program a few months ago.

They had a fantastic amount of free literature available, every kind of booklet you could ever need! Even a free MS Exercising DVD with Sally Gunnall. I mean, what more could you ask for?? 🙂

All in all, I would highly reccomend these MS Society days – if you have MS or know someone who does it will definitely be very informative and give you the chance to meet other people in similar situations. This can be a great way to get advice on all sorts of things surrounding venturing into the world of MS, and a great support when needed.

If you would like to find out about events near you, head over to www.mssociety.org.uk

Please get in touch if you have any comments or experiences to share 🙂

 

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A suspected relapse? 

Challenging Situations, chronic ilness, Lifestyle, mental health, Uncategorized

I always thought when I had a relapse of my ms it would be so clear and obvious that there would be no question around it. But I have realised that isn’t the case – for me at least. 

When I was diagnosed I had it in my head that things would die down to a low, manageable level and then stay there until some large event of pain or numbness etc. would signify that I’d had a relapse and needed to look at reviewing my medication. The thing is, with regards to symptoms, I have found them to be pretty much ongoing. I have just found ways of managing them and managing my life around them. They do fluctuate, week by week, day by day, but they don’t seem to really ‘get better’. Not yet anyway. Obviously it’s only been 7 months since I was diagnosed so this could all change. 

So relapse (at the moment) for me is about new pain or symptoms that last more than 48hrs. Over the weekend and the beginning of this week I had new pain and loud noises in my head and some pretty heavy duty fatigue – this has been considered, by my ms team, as a suspected relapse. It certainly felt like one.

Another thing that puts a question mark over it is the fact that if you have even the slightest sign of infection in your body or you have a big change in hormones it can cause unbelievable havoc with ms symptoms. If something causes your immune system to increase its activity, even slightly, it increases the number of those troublesome cells that attack the nervous system – causing the increase of problems. For example if my bowel disease acts up I can almost guarantee I’m going to have a tricky time with me. 

I am learning all of the time about my ms and the way it affects me day to day – and mainly how changeable it is! I am endlessly fascinated by my mind and body’s ability to heal and bounce back from all the stuff it has to deal with. 

Will I ever have a week with no fatigue or pain again? Who knows – I think it’s far too early to tell. I know I’m doing everything I can to help it so just got to try and keep the positive thought processes going and allow myself time and space to feel all the emotions that go with it. Always trying to be kind to myself and shrug off the highly ignorant judgement of others! 

Would love to hear if anyone else has experiences with chronic illness they would like to share and please get in touch if you need someone to talk to about stuff – I know it can be difficult to share with the people you love. 

Thanks for reading! 🙂

The thing about huskies is…

Animals & Pets, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

…they are amazing animals. For anyone who thinks that they are just another breed of dog, this just isn’t true.

I know we all think our dogs are special. For most people, they become just as much a part of your family as your siblings or parents, and who can forget the loss of their first pet? If we are lucky, it is our first taste of grief and loss, and it is all the more difficult because our pets love us unconditionally and they don’t (usually!) argue back.

I have had other breeds of dog through my childhood, but it wasn’t until I moved in with a pack of huskies that I realised that they were the breed for me.

First of all, I would like to say, this doesn’t mean that I’m saying everyone should get a husky for a pet. In fact, I’m saying that only particular types of people can cope with the demands that these little beauties have.

So… what makes them different? 1382930_10153301677400302_1701292655_n

  • They are part wild and still retain many wolf instincts. This means that many of them still have a prey drive and will chase and kill small furries like cats and rabbits.
  • They need to stay on the lead. People say that they let their huskies off the lead – and that’s fine for them, they can do what they like, but I won’t be doing it. 9 times out of 10 they probably will come back to you, but that 1 time in 10 their prey drive could kick in and they will just keep running and running (they love to run) and either kill an animal or end up under the wheels of a car – or just plain lost. To me that just isn’t worth the risk.
  • They are escape artists. They will try and dig or climb or squeeze through the smallest of gaps just to escape and then run like mad. It’s just in their nature. They can also jump up to 6ft from standing so anywhere they are left unattended has to be very secure with very high fneces/walls. 941570_10153729949380302_1396387664_n
  • The above also means you have to be very careful when entering and leaving the house – any vigilant husky will spot a gap and go for it!
  • Now, lets talk about the fur situation. They don’t just shed, it comes out in handfuls of dense fluffly undercoat. They have 2 major sheds per year, but if we have weird changeable weather it can just be coming out and regrowing non stop! If you want to own one, make sure you have a good hoover and lots of lint rollers for your clothes. In the height of them shedding you may need to hoover twice a day. The struggle is real.
  • I love them because they are so intelligent and full of personality, but that also means that they can be tricky to train. One day they might pick it up and do it very well and then suddennly they just decide they don’t want to do it anymore. One of my boys, Yoshi, is so stubborn that sometimes we have to actually push him along the carpet to put him out for a wee at night! Other days he moves straight away – I really feel that they are very mood driven.
  • They are incredibly loving, but, they see everyone as a new friend so often don’t make very good guard dogs!
  • They are often very difficult to train to walk nicely on the lead. If you get them from very young and work hard with them I have seen it done, but it is no easy task. They were originally bred to pull sleds very quickly, so they have an innate instict to run and pull. There are different types of lead and head gear you can use to combat this – but NEVER use a choke collar or anything that will hurt them. This is barbaric and cruel, only gentle products should be used like Halti’s or Gental Leaders.
  • They tend to be much happier in a pack or with companionship – it is thought that huskies should really live in at least pairs to be truly content in their surroundings. It is very common for them to experience separation anxiety and stress, bear that in mind when thinking about your work schedule and how much time someone will be at home with them. 12662670_10153347731772765_1211464806935643095_n

If all of those details haven’t put you off then I also have more advice for you. Do plenty of research and please try to adopt from a rescue organisation. There are so many unwanted dogs in the world and the unlicensed breeders are just profiting from this culture of neglect that society has created. If you are considering any pet, please try to consider the impact that will have on your lives and whether or not you can keep a safe and loving home for them for the next 10-15 years. If you can’t then please don’t get one.

Help a neighbour by walking and spending time with their dog. Go to an animal shelter and volunteer your time to help with the animals. But don’t start a life of possible cruelty and neglect for an animal, just because you didn’t take the choice to own an animal seriously enough.

I adopted both of my boys and it was one of the best things I ever did! I adopted Yoshi when he was 10 months old (the white one) he is now 6. Then I adopted Cooper when he was 3 and he is now also 6. They are both crazy fools but I love them so much and can’t imagine life without them.

5426_10153347744397765_9023552981007034799_n

Please let me know if you would like to hear more about or see more of my dogs (althugh I won’t tell Yoshi as he is already very big headed) or hear more about huskies in general. Please feel free to leave me any comments. Oh and if you could like, share and follow I would be most grateful – it would be lovely to think that this may help somebody somewhere in the world!

Thanks for reading!

Until next time 🙂

 

Makeup is NOT just for people who hate the way they look

Beauty, The Beauty Edit, Uncategorized

So, people really liked the look I uploaded on Instagram the other day so I said I would blog the products etc.

Now, I would like to add that I am not a qualified make up artist, I have just loved make up since I was a little girl – applying my mum’s products for her, to create different looks. I must have been about 6/7 the first time I remember doing my mum’s make up, it was also fun time that we shared together – which is probably why it is my go to thing to do to cheer me up when I’m feeling low.

People say that make up is only for people who hate the way they look or that they are trying to hide something. I don’t agree. I like my face – I don’t feel it NEEDS to be covered up – I just enjoy enhancing my natural features and having the skills and flexibility to be able to decide what look I would like to achieve today. With make up you can completely change the way people view you and that makes it both an interesting and powerful tool, in my book.

I also find the application of make up to be a mindful process. When I am focused on creating a smooth wing on my liquid liner, I am not able to also think about that call I don’t want to make later or how much the water bill will be. It is also something that feels like an achievement – a moment of success to start me off in a positive way. Creating a groomed look with a perfectly pencilled eyebrow gives me a sense of satisfaction that other morning activities just don’t inspire. I have never felt quietly proud of my ability to pour granola or drink a cup of tea.

Feeling well groomed is also well known to help with confidence. I have days where I don’t wear make up and I’m totally ok with that. If my skin is pretty clear then I’m fine to walk around bare faced – especially on a Sunday. But I do get a sense of self confidence from knowing that I spent a bit of time on myself today, it is well known that being happy with the way you look has a big impact on your self esteem and that translates into how you hold yourself and interact with others. Now if it’s doing that for me – surely there’s no harm in it? As long as it doesn’t become an ‘I can’t let anyone see me with make up’ obsession I would say it is both a useful and enjoyable hobby, just like most others.

I did have a battle with my love of make up when I went through a feminist realisation a few years ago. It seemed to me that if I felt women should be equal to men I shouldn’t be demeaning myself so low as to masking my female features, an obvious symbol of men’s ever present objectification and sexualisation of the fairer sex. However, I now know that feminism is about being the version of femininity that I want to be, whether that’s with hiking boots and mud under my nails or a Chanel bag and ‘sunset coral’ nail varnish on top of them. Sometimes even both at the same time. And that’s the beauty of it.


So this look takes me 15 mins or less to create. It’s very simple and I like how clean and fresh it looks.

So, I start with the Benefit Porefessional Primer – all over but concentrated on the forehead, nose and chin to hopefully prevent the mid afternoon oil slick.

Then Nars Sheer Glow foundation in Deauville – buffed in all over with a Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. Yes, I know Nars is on the pricier side, but once you spend s bit more on your foundation you will never go back – trust me.

Then powder all over with Rimmel Stay Matte in transparent – it might be lower end but I haven’t found a better one yet.

I had tired under eyes and a couple of blemishes that I covered with the Soap&Glory Kick Ass Concealer and fixed in place with the great powder you get with it.

I then did a quick dust of the second from the left brown shade in my Makeup Revolution Ultra Contour Palette around the edge of my face and under the cheek bones for a subtle contour.

Eyebrows filled very roughly with the Loreal Brow Artist Shaper pencil in 04 dark brunette

Applied a little bit of Maybelline Colour Tattoo cream eyeshadow in Creme De Rose 91 with my finger, making sure it was all blended out nicely.

I then added a flicked out top liner with Maybelline Master Precise liquid eyeliner pen in Black. Now I do this most days so it takes seconds – but if you are yet to master the elusive beast that is the ‘top liner’ then this may take much longer – it used to take me aaaaaaaaages, so I really do feel your pain.

Then I just put on some Ardell Wispies (false lashes). Once again, I wouldn’t recommend putting these on if you are in a hurry and you haven’t had lots of practice with them. I actually find them quicker than mascara – with far less risk of getting black smudges everywhere (if you are clumsy or have shaky ms hands like me). Use your favourite mascara if you would prefer.

Then, just a quick sweep of blusher from my Makeup Revolution Hot Spice Ultra Blush Palette. I use the second one in on the bottom line. A nice, natural, pretty pink.

Lastly I put a bit of Clarins Lip Perfector on in the shade nude shimmer – this is a nice product but I feel its very overpriced to be honest – and mixed it with a little touch of Urban Decay High Gloss Lip Colour Pencil in crush, just to give a hint of pink.

That’s it! Let me know what you think or if you would like any more information. I have set up links for all the products, so you can see what they are and where to get them.

Is there anything you would like me to blog about – if so please do leave comments – I’m sure I can sort something out!

Until next time 🙂

A day of baking – Deliciously Ella style…

Food & Clean Eating, Uncategorized

So, as I said in the first post on this blog – I want to document

some of the incredible food discoveries I make while continuing to strive towards a very clean and healthy diet.

Since then my partner, G, has got massively on board! He isn’t as strict with the level of health in his diet that I am, but then he doesn’t need to be as he has good energy levels regardless of what he eats. But lately he has really got into making beautiful food and snacks from my different cookbooks – and obviously I’m not complaining!

I may have also got him to become a contributor to this blog so that he can share his amazing creations with the world. Watch this space!

The other day we had a rare 100% free day together and decided that we would spend it baking. Gluten free, refined sugar free baking – ofcourse.

Delicously Ella is my favourite food blogger and has such an amazing array of delcious (funnily enella book 1ough) recipes that are vegan, gluten free, sugar free and full of flavour. After I eat her food I feel healthier, full and satisfied. You may think that is impossible but it just isn’t. If you want to do 1 thing today to change how you eat and feel healthier, buy her first book and get in the kitchen – I promise you will not be disappointed.

My housemate, Izzy, introduced me to her 1st bookac  ouple of years ago and I have gradually assimilated her recipes into my every day repertoire.

You can order it from Amazon here.

Your body can thank me later.

Ella is a big advocate for convenient, speedy breakfasts that are high in energy and goodness. This article kind of explains this a bit more.

Recipe 1 – Banana Breakfast Bars, from her 2nd book ‘Deliciously Ella – Every Day’

These are so easy to make and are petty much foolproof. Just whack all the ingredients together, cook, cool and eat! They taste like little chewy, sweet porridge squares – almost like a flapjack but with a smoother consistency as you are using rolled oats rather than jumbo. The only thing that can make it a little tricky is that you have to wait for the bananas to ripen before you can use them. Luckily, I had a load of almost black bananas so this was not an issue.

I just used a standard brownie tin. They came out the perfect thickness. The mixture did initially look like it may not fillt he pan, but it just needs spreading about and it gets there in the end.

They were a big hit in the house, Izzy and G were very insistent that these become a regular feature on the baking schedule!

 

Recipe 2 – Courgette Banana Bread, from the same book as above.

I think people so often find the most difficult thing about going gluten free/clean eating is the lack of decent bread that is actually good for you and not full of weird chemicals and preservatives and a hell of a lot of sugar. Look out for this stuff in the GF breads in the supermarkets – often the entire GF range is full of sugar and incredibly bad for you. GF does not always equal good for you, I’m afraid.

I have tried a few diffferent homemade bread recipes of thisna ture with varying degrees of success, this was probably the best. The only issue I had with it was that, because of how much ovens differ from each other, I needed to leave it in for an extra 5 to 10 mins as the very middle was still a bit soft. However, when toasted it was crazy delicious! I have had it with nut butter, honey, butter and every time it is so tasty and really filling. After two slices I can’t eat any more. And they aren’t exactly big slices – I used a small loaf tin and it was the perfect size.

I tend to get my ingredients from Ganesha in Axminster, it’s literally a godsend for a small town like ours. It has all the different flours etc. that are needed to make this kind of food. Most of the ingredients from Ella’s books are easily obtainable from local supermarkets and shops but if you are stuck then it can all be found online. I love websites like Wholefoods and Planet Organic. But, if you know what you need, Amazon and Ebay can also be really helpful – especially for a bulk amount of something.

We have tried lots of other recipes over the last few months and I will be trying to get as many on here as I can – if there is anything you would like me to find and try then please leave a comment, I’m happy to help if I can!

Also please do let me know if you have tried any great recipes or ingredients or books or youtube videos or whatever! I’m always looking for new food inspiration.

Please do follow, like, share if you would like to see more of this kind of stuff.

Hope you are enjoying life, whatever you are doing.

Until next time! 🙂

 

 

Copaxone

Drugs and medication, Uncategorized

I wanted to write this post as when I was doing my research on the 3 a week copaxone I couldn’t find very many ‘real people’ talking about the experience of changing from the daily one. I’m going to try and document as much as I can about my experience of it and hope that someone, somewhere finds this and it helps them to make their decision. I know it can be a bit scary messing with your meds and posts like this would have really helped me take the plunge. 

Since I was diagnosed last year I have been taking daily, self administered injections of Copaxone. I began by taking all of my drugs in the morning and, to be honest, it felt like a lot for my body to cope with in the morning so I switched to doing it at night in bed. This has definitely worked better for me. It means I can rest with the pain of the injection rather than needing to run around and get ready for the day.

People always say ‘I couldn’t do it’ or ‘I don’t know how you do it’ – but if it was the difference between being bed bound or not, then I believe you will learn to do most things – including stabbing yourself with a needle. I took to it pretty well, to be honest. The fattier parts of my body are almost painless to inject into – so I have found a new love for my muffin tops and belly! However my loss of appetite (that’s another post entirely) and my need to stick to a very healthy diet is shrinking those parts – I’ll let you know if that changes things!

So far (after 4 months) I feel like it has had a positive effect and hasn’t caused too many side effects. To begin with I used to get painful raised lumps that stayed there for days, but my body seems to have found away of minimising these skin reactions to the odd sore lump or a bruise.

Recently, my MS nurse told me that a 3 per week version had been developed and we agreed I would move over to this ASAP and see if it worked better for me. The prospect of only having to inject 3 times a week was an exciting one! Weekends with no jabs! (These are the kinds of things that excite me these days 🙂 )

So, they arrived on Wednesday and  I was advised to start it straight away and dispose of the surplus daily syringes with my drug delivery company. I have to say that it was a little bit more painful and stingy – but nothing particularly very bad – and the soreness has stuck around a bit longer but it really is only minor and isn’t causing me any problems.

THEN last night (Thursday) I didn’t have to inject before bed, and I know it sounds like such a minor thing but it just felt so great to be able to take my other pills and just get straight into bed – no faffing about with a needle!

Because my partner is one of the most supportive people on the planet and likes to make a fuss of any achievement we have, however small, we are going out to my favourite healthy restaurant tonight to celebrate this change of regime! It really does effect both of us as he always stays up with me so we can count the 10 seconds before I am allowed to take the needle out – it’s sort of become one of those couple traditions that occur over time in a relationship. The restaurant is called Tierra Kitchen and it’s in Lyme Regis, Dorset.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to subscribe, follow, share with anyone you think may find it useful and feel free to leave me comments or share your own experiences.

Until next time! 🙂

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. 🙂