House Twenty8

Hello hello! I have reappeared in the world of blogging ūüôā

I’m actually going to be posting about something that happened TODAY rather than leaving it forever and day before getting round to it. Proactive Kels this evening. As my mum had the day off work, we decided to utilise the girly time with a bit of fresh air and some good noms. The sunshine was glorious, if a wee bit on the hot side for little old me and my POTS ridden body. Much sweat. Many heartbeats. ANYWAY. I still enjoyed myself; just working with the hand I’ve been dealt in life.

On the agenda for lunch was somewhere we’ve actually been to before and really enjoyed. It’s called House Twenty8 and is an all vegetarian cafe with plenty of gluten free and vegan options as well. I went for my all-time favourite dish in there: the superfood salad. Beetroot, avocado, carrots, tomatoes, salad leaves and houmous (hummus?) ūü•ó Seriously good and crazy healthy. I also had the H3 Immunity juice which consisted of: carrot, apple, lime, ginger and turmeric. Pretty warm and spicy! As for my mum, she chowed down on a veggie gluten free quiche and salad, whilst sipping on a banana, blueberry, strawberry, coconut milk and mixed seed smoothie. Oo la la! And before you ask, of course I have some photos to share! ūüėČ AND we decide to take a couple of sweet treats home; mine being a gluten free white chocolate cake bar and my mum opting for something called a ‘Wellbeing bar’, which is essentially just a giant sort of flapjack concoction.

Bon appetit, my friends x

2019: goals, plans + dreams

Afternoon my friendly readers! I hope you’re all keeping okay.

As time marches on, it’s important to remind yourself of what you’ve got lined up for the coming year; and head towards anything you would like to do. For me, the main overall and ongoing goal is to keep my health stable, or possibly see it improve slightly. Besides this however, I’m hoping to:

  • Complete more free online courses
  • Battle some anxieties I am yet to beat
  • Keep up with my social life
  • Read more (currently nearly finished my SIXTH book of the year so far. My goal is around 70 for 2019)
  • Write more poetry
  • Give less f***s

And as for things I know are coming up this year or will be planned soon:

  • A wedding
  • Going to visit my dad in his new house
  • Short break with my boyfriend
  • My 26th birthday

So it’s not an extensive list at this point. But for little old me who’s been stuck in chronic illness limbo for over 8 years? I’m still getting used to actually making and having plans!

Don’t let the bastards get you down.

Kelsey x

A New Diagnosis (continued)

Let’s jump straight back into it, shall we? No time like the present and all that jazz.

So, as I said in the previous blog post, I was referred to a cardiologist at a local hospital to test for POTS. The only real way to officially diagnose POTS is via something called a Tilt-Table Test. Essentially, you are strapped onto the bed/table, which is slowly tilted upwards (around 60-70 degrees) to mimic standing. The straps are in place as a safety measure in case a patient faints. A footboard is also present so you’re not just dangling! Heart rate and blood pressure readings are taken throughout. The upright position can last anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes, depending on your readings, symptoms etc. The test will end when adequate results have been obtained, the patient has fainted or the maximum time has elapsed.

To be given a diagnosis of POTS, a person has to have:

  • A sustained increase in heart rate of greater than 30 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing
  • Those aged 12-19 years require an increase of at least 40 beats per minute
  • These criteria may not apply to those with a low heart rate when resting
  • There is usually no drop in blood pressure on standing

I wasn’t particularly nervous about my upcoming test as I just genuinely wanted some answers; did I have POTS? Was my M.E diagnosis wrong? I can’t recall exact details (my test was in May 2012), but I definitely remember how utterly strange it felt. I became symptomatic almost straightaway after being tilted, which wasn’t really a surprise. My feet, legs, hands and arms all started to go numb and the little energy I had was simply draining away. After only a short time, I’d say about 20 minutes or so, the cardiologist stopped the test as he had seen enough and it was evident that my symptoms were causing me some real trouble. Once I’d had a rest, gotten changed out of my hospital gown and my mum had entered the room, he told us both that I did indeed have POTS. There was no doubt about it. He couldn’t tell me whether I had M.E alongside it as the symptoms overlap so much. But to have a diagnosis of something that can be properly tested for was a real relief; as if I now had something concrete and medically proven. Overall it obviously wasn’t an enjoyable or pleasant experience; when are hospital tests ever either of those things? But to have something 100% proven, something that couldn’t be dismissed as fake, was a wonderful result. I know not everyone is this lucky and it upsets me greatly, but this is just my own story and experience; many struggle to be heard and are refused tests that can easily be carried out, even though there is strong evidence of another condition at play. On this occasion, I was unbelievably thankful for my lovely GP, cardiologist and NHS.

Have a great weekend!

Kelsey x

My Little Bubble

My bubble was home,

It’s the place I know.

It’s my own little world,

And it’ll surely grow.

Illness confines me,

I had to stay.

But my bubble was nice,

In a strange sort of way.

My little reality,

A world for me.

Not isolated or alone,

It just had to be.

Now I get better,

My bubble spreads more.

A new life opens up,

For me to explore.

It’s daunting and scary,

Unfamiliar, that’s true.

But the world is my oyster,

And it can be yours too

The Road to Depression

Sorry for being very quiet.

Nothing has been wrong; I’ve just been slacking a bit. Whoops! But I am back with a vengeance to tell you all about a subject that, whilst very personal, is something I am 100% open and honest with. I’m not ashamed of it and I can’t believe there’s still such a stigma attached to it. Depression is not weakness. Just starting out with that little nugget of wisdom; and anyone who disagrees with it can kindly grab their coat, open the door and kick themselves out of it. Have they gone? Ah good. We can continue.

Rewind allllll the way back to autumn 2010. It wasn’t a great year to be totally honest. Shit happens and all that. I was in my second and last year of sixth form. We were thinking about universities, jobs, exams, driving lessons, becoming adults; it was really bloody daunting. You had all of this stuff thrown straight at you all at once. Yes I know that it’s something everyone has had to do and plenty have coped fine. But me? My brain said a big fat nope. The prospect of university terrified me as I had horrible social anxiety, plus I knew it would require a loan and I didn’t want to be lumbered with debt before I’d even started. The idea of working was just as stressful as I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what sort of job I’d like. Driving lessons had started in the June of 2010, as soon as I was 17, and I initially loved it. But then the stress crept in. I would give myself migraines and nausea from fretting so much. I couldn’t even pinpoint why. The more I drove, the more nervous I got. Strange.

Anyway! The autumn of 2010 saw all of these stressors being thrust upon me. I first noticed something was amiss when my concentration and memory began to slide. I’d always been a proper nerd; able to learn and retain information almost straight away. I could answer questions easily and would get solid A grades in most subjects. In my second year of sixth form, I was taking: Law, Psychology and Religious Studies; all of which I’d enjoyed thoroughly since starting the year before. But then it changed. I couldn’t hold focus. I’d zoned out pretty much constantly. I was sure the teachers were speaking gibberish as I didn’t understand a word they were saying. They’d call on me to answer a question, I’d have to say I didn’t know. It was scary. Really really scary. I’d leave lessons not remembering anything that had been said or done in the class.

Shortly after this, the trademark low moods showed their unwelcome faces. And no, it’s not just feeling a bit sad. It’s an all consuming burden that weighs you down. It’s feeling hopeless, worthless and detached from the world. It’s the feelings of guilt as you think you’ve not really got anything to be depressed about. It’s the mood swings, the irritability and the yearning to be alone. It’s losing the motivation to do anything; even things that used to give you great pleasure like a most treasured hobby. You just…fade. That’s probably the most concise was to describe it. You feel yourself, your personality and the life you’ve built fading away.

I knew I had to get some sort of help. It was affecting every aspect of my life. I know it’s easier said than done for some, but seeking help and reaching out is something you have to do. People are out there to help you the best they can. I saw my GP initially who gave me some self-help stuff to try first, to see if any improvement was made. When this didn’t happen, I was prescribed a very low dose of Fluoxetine; so low in fact that they only did it in liquid form. It tasted pretty strong and weirdly minty. After about 4-6 weeks, noticeable improvements were made. My moods began to balance out and I felt much more stable. But you know what didn’t improve? My concentration and memory. To this day I still struggle with them both. It’s a symptom of the chronic illnesses I have too, so I’ve probably got a double whammy of brain fog. I’d been hoping my grades would start to progress to where they’d been before. I really wanted to be able to contribute to my lessons again. But I just couldn’t do it. At some point, my dosage was increased; which would happen a couple more times over the years. And now I take Sertraline. Yep. I still take antidepressants now. And frankly, I don’t give a fuck who knows it. There is nothing to be ashamed of with regards to mental health. If you need medication, you need medication. It should be treated in the exact same way as physical conditions. You don’t tell someone with a broken leg to just get over it or to get a grip. Nobody has the right to dismiss your problems because they can’t see them.

Right. I’m going to grab some depression information now as I’m getting far too passionate and riled up over here. The following info has come from the NHS UK website, with slight edits to make it easier to absorb.

Psychological symptoms

The psychological symptoms of depression include:

  • low mood
  • feeling hopeless and helpless
  • feeling tearful
  • feeling guilty
  • feeling irritable
  • having no motivation
  • indecision
  • not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • feeling anxious or worried
  • suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting yourself

Physical symptoms

The physical symptoms of depression include:

  • moving or speaking more slowly than usual
  • changes in appetite or weight
  • constipation
  • random aches and pains
  • fatigue
  • lowered sex drive
  • changes to your menstrual cycle
  • insomnia or sleeping too much

If you’ve experienced symptoms for most of the day, everyday, for 2+ weeks, see your GP as soon as you can. And if you need any advice or just want to chat, you can always drop me a message.

I hope, in a strange way, that you’ve found this post to be enlightening and helpful. I have no qualms about sharing my story with others, especially as I know it can really have a positive impact on people’s lives AND it can help educate those who are still extremely ignorant and/or judgemental.

Take it easy + look after yourselves.

Kelsey x

Things Not To Say To Someone With A Chronic Illness

Afternoon all! I hope you’re having a good Sunday. For this post, I sought the input of friends on one of my social media profiles. I asked if there were any particular things that they remember being told, asked etc with regards to their chronic illness(es). But I only wanted the bad, inappropriate, ignorant, hurtful and just plain silly remarks/stories. I want people out there to realise that, even though you think you’re helping someone, you can actually be damaging them mentally, or simply making yourself look ridiculous and ill-informed. My plan for this blog post is pretty straightforward; I’m going to take what my friends have told me, type it all up and hope that you’ll think the comments are just as bad as we all do. Note that this particular post will be about physical chronic health conditions. I’ll be doing a second post dealing with mental health at a later date. So, let’s get this rolling.

“I’ve been given lots of random advice! Told to exercise more, lose weight, eat healthier, get a part-time job etc etc” – Mark, M.E/CFS

“You’re just lazy. Have you tried not napping? You need to just push through and do normal activity and exercise. Aw, did you not sleep well last night? Why do you yawn so much, it’s really annoying. You were in bed for a week after the gym? It’s alright for some/you’re so lucky! I wish I could stay in bed” – Hannah, CFS

“You just need more sleep” – Alicia, Fibromyalgia and CFS

“My personal favourite comments from one person in particular…This is after being diagnosed with M.E/CFS for 16 years, a former manager asked if I was ‘allowed to work’ and if instead of a full-time career I should look into a part-time job, also that she was very ‘nervous’ that I have a medical condition as I’m a ‘time bomb’. She then continued that she had looked up and confirmed that apparently I was making half of my symptoms up because they weren’t on her Google search of most common symptoms. Another woman asked me how I’d be able to cope with being a mother as I’m always poorly and children are ‘hard work’. She said I wouldn’t possibly be able to have children as it’s unfair on them. I seem to believe she doesn’t think I have a partner or a supportive family who will provide any help necessary, if required” – Gemma, M.E/CFS

“I got told (when I was 17) to drink more and have more fun and I’d be alright” – Kayleigh, M.E/CFS

thG67IT8YE

“You cannot have M.E, you’re not fat. Ah that’s shit! My sister has it too – she ate healthy and is now better. You’ll be fine, just need to rest. You should try going gluten-free (I’ve been gluten free for five years anyway). M.E? Isn’t that M.S? Get better soon! 22 years? Gosh I would have probably killed myself by now. Drink more water. Well at least it’s not cancer. Is this all you want for your life?” – Alice, M.E

“God never gives us more than we can handle. (Almost always said by someone who has had a relatively simple life, who mistakenly thinks it will be comforting to hear that their God keeps throwing this shit at me deliberately)” – Katie L, M.E, Ulcerative Colitis, Endometriosis

“Have you heard of The Secret? You’re sick because of what you’re putting out into the universe” – Kassady, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Gastroparesis, Dysautonomia

“Aren’t you too young for all that? And you are awful young to be on Warfarin, aren’t you?” – Katie B, Venous Sinus Thrombosis, Inter-Cranial Hypertension, Joint Hypermobility, Fibromyalgia, CFS

“After I was signed off sick, I was told that I wasn’t allowed to join my company for their work Christmas do because I ‘didn’t look ill’. Not because having ill people wasn’t their policy, but because I didn’t look ill. Explaining how my illness worked to someone else, they asked if I was just overthinking it. My DWP disability advisor once said to me ‘I think you can do more than that. I know someone with M.E who does x, y and z. You’re so young, don’t you at least WANT to work?'” – Kim S, M.E/CFS

untitled

“It’s because you drink Pepsi. I’m 82 and I can cook” – Sally, M.E/CFS, Fibromyalgia

“Migraines? I know how you feel. I get headaches too” – Raynor, Chronic Migraines

“Well you know how some people believe in M.E and others don’t? I’m one who doesn’t…(said to me by my own GP). Some people just can’t handle pain (said to me by a different GP). You just need to go out and get some fresh air. Once you lose weight, you’ll feel so much better” – Jess, M.E

“This life isn’t a dress rehearsal, you only get one of them. I don’t feel like you really want to get better” – Will, M.E, Fibromyalgia, IBS

“On frustration with multiple infections (not related) and inability to heal a normal earlobe piercing, my GP mocked me and said to the student GP sitting in ‘look at her cry. We manage without ear piercings’, thinking I was upset specifically about the piercings themselves. If he was more compassionate he would understand I was upset about my immune system. This was the last straw” – Elaine, M.E

226146

“I’ve had people ask me how I am but not given me enough time to actually reply. They then say that I’m ‘looking SO well'” Kim M, M.E

“You’re too young to take all those medications. You should consider stopping them. Sorry how do you spell that? (from consultants when I tell them what I have). You’re tired? But you haven’t done anything?! I’ve also had some silly suggestions of things that might help me: lying in a darkened room with my feet up, rubbing my stomach while eating and having a bit of a hum to improve digestion” – Sammie, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Chronic Migraines, Fibromyalgia, Fatigue, Endometriosis

“You should try to make it to your appointments” Anthony, M.E

“Well you look fine to me. Yeah I know how you feel, I only got five hours sleep last night (Five? Five in a row? Damn I would think I’d died and gone to heaven!). God there’s always something wrong with you isn’t there? But you went out yesterday, obviously you were fine then so why can’t you today?” – Lucy, Dysautonomia, CRPS, CFS

“Oh M.E? Is that the one where you die?” Georgina, M.E

thIQ3FXYEH

“You need to get out of your own head more. Try eating a few steaks and go for a run. I knew someone who had that and she’s not dead. You should go travelling, the sunshine will do you good. M.E is a very yin disease, you need to increase your yang” – Emma, M.E

“Can you still have sex?” – Deborah, M.E, Fibromyalgia

“Oh you’re just a fainter (this is what a paramedic genuinely said to me. I in fact have Vagus Nerve Epilepsy so I faint and seizure often)” – Layla, Vagus Nerve Epilepsy, M.E/CFS, Fibromyalgia

“There’s nothing wrong with you. You don’t smell. You’re not a vampire (My own GP said this)” – Danielle, M.E

‚ÄúYou haven‚Äôt really got an excuse unless you have cancer. You can still work with CFS. Sleeping in the day will make things worse. Have you read this article? If you build up exercise gradually you will get better. I reckon you could do at least 5 hours work a day. Why are you not going out?! , I think you have Agaraphobia. Have you thought about trying Yoga?‚ÄĚ – Lizzie, M.E/CFS

tumblr_o4k52meXO01v96p7do1_500

Kelsey Q&A

Pretty much what it says on the tin. I’ve found allsorts of questions online and thought SOD IT, this could be amusing. Plus maybe it’ll give you a tad more insight as to who I am as a person rather than a faceless set of hands behind a keyboard.

What skill would you like to master?

Some sort of musical instrument would be amazinggggggg. I played clarinet, saxophone and bass guitar when I was younger. But being a perfectionist who wants to be good at everything I try in as little time as possible, I stopped with all of them. If I could master it overnight, sign me up!

What are some small things that make your day better?

Sunshine. Coffee. Food. A bubble bath. A good book. Quality time with my family and friends. Shopping. Photography. Being surrounded by animals and nature. Sleep. Fresh air. Music.

How often do you ‘people watch’?

All. The. Time. Anyone who says they don’t is an absolute liar. People watching is a natural part of being a human, I’m sure of it. You can get so much inspiration that way too. A new look to try. Lyrics for a song. You might even spot an old friend. And I just like being nosey. SHOCK HORROR.

What job would you be terrible at?

Anything involving manual labour, heavy lifting and overexertion. Anything with numbers because my brain hates those crafty devils. Anything where I’d get really hot. Anywhere I’d have to stand up (makes my symptoms flare up like crazy if I stand up for any length of time).

What film do you refuse to watch?

Fifty Shades Of Grey. The entire film series in fact.

What would be your dream car?

Does anything as long as it’s chauffer driven count? #iwanttofeelfamous hahaha. But more realistically, I think Fiat 500s are so cute! I’d have a pastel green one and call it Jellybean.

Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?

I’d have to say Poland. I went for a school trip back when I was about 15; the main focus of which was to visit Auschwitz. I’ll try to describe how it felt, but it’ll be nothing compared to the physically gut-wrenching emotions I had at the time. I felt such guilt on behalf of the human race; such guilt that some of us could do that to others. I felt sick to my stomach; sick that I was standing where so many innocent people were mindlessly and systematically slaughtered. It was utterly surreal. I know that these atrocities occurred, but to see evidence of it first-hand didn’t completely sink in. It was truly a harrowing experience that I won’t ever forget.

What are you absolutely determined to do?

Easy peasy. I am utterly, completely and wholeheartedly determined to own a sausage dog one day. Without a shadow of a doubt. For years as a child I was actually terrified of all dogs. My grandparents had a Boxer named Jai who I sadly didn’t appreciate at the time because of my anxiety around canines. It makes me pretty upset to think about it now as I recall her being a really lovely family dog; she’d just get a wee bit excited and run around at times which freaked me out. But now I am bordering on being obsessed with doggos, especially Dachshunds. Their little legs. Their stretched bodies. Those boopable snoots. One day I’ll have a pupper to call my own.

What do you wish your brain was better at doing?

Oh boy this is a good’un. Whilst I adore having a very active brain, I think too much. Granted I’m nowhere near in the same league as I used to be but damn I’m a thinker. Imagination, wanting to learn, curiosity and thinking about new ideas? Yes I possess all of those qualities and they are FABULOUS. But the overanalysing, worrying and making mountains out of molehills? Get away from me. You are not welcome here. In a nutshell, I yearn for my brain to be better at shutting up.

What thing(s) were you scared of as a child?

Going to go all nostalgic for this last question. If we go back to my childhood, we’d find a young Kelsey standing on the edge of a swimming pool. She could clearly see the bottom and adored splashing around. Yet she insisted on worrying about sharks; believing that they were somehow lurking in the chlorinated water. Yep. I used to have a ‘thing’ about sharks in illogical places. I remember a particular pool from a holiday in Portugal that really seemed to bother me. Due to the lighting, weird shadows would fall on the deeper end and my mind would immediately go crazy with wild theories. I convinced myself the shadows could in fact be killer whales. And I used to go even further with my worries; I used to think there could be a shark in the bath. IN THE BLOODY BATH I TELL YOU. I was an odd child.

There we have it, intrepid readers. A little bit of this and that to aid you in painting a hopefully decent picture of me. If this proves to be popular, I may try it again; possibly only answering really off the wall and silly questions, or possibly going down the serious road. We shall see!

Have a good Wednesday, folks.

Kelsey xxx

What type of posts would you like to see?

Good evening! I hope you’re doing well ūüôā Thought I’d do a bit of research for my upcoming blog posts and pose a question to you all:

What would you like to see posts about?

The main focus will still be my struggles with chronic illnesses, depression, anxiety etc. And I do enjoy sharing some of my day to day stuff, photography and just general life posts. But what would you like to see specifically?

  • Maybe some book and gaming reviews (although I can’t guarantee they’ll have a professional sounding vibe to them)
  • Something relating to my cooking and baking; all recipes would be gluten-free and most would be vegetarian. Also I could do some food reviews and recommendations¬†of¬†good ‘coeliac friendly’ places
  • Possibly even some random posts with memes, quotes or funny jokes I’ve heard
  • Poetry (all mine and original)
  • Short stories (also all mine and original)
  • More ‘get to know me’ kind of stuff, like my taste in music, films, TV shows. And some more serious things such as causes I feel strongly about. Don’t worry though. I don’t intend on turning this into some kind of controversial, opinionated or preachy blog. That’s totally not my style
  • Could maybe try a type of Q&A kind of post. You ask questions in a message or on the post itself¬†and I answer. Simple. Well, assuming you actually ask appropriate things and I feel comfortable divulging the info.

SO MANY OPTIONS AND I NEED SOME HELP, FOLKS!

Drop me a comment or message if you have any ideas or requests.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Kelsey x

9 Signs You’re With The Wrong Person

Yes I’m going to write one of those posts. But who doesn’t like a good list? Let me explain a bit first. I’ve not had much luck with dating; I’ve been single pretty much my entire life so far. But I frankly don’t give a shit about it. I’m happy in myself and know that I’ve got plenty to offer someone. I just haven’t found them yet. ANYWAY! I’m getting distracted. This next list is all about signs you’re with the wrong person, need to end the relationship etc. BUT,¬†here’s a slight twist,¬†these are all things that I’ve experienced before. I’m not combing through the internet for other peoples stories. I want this to be personal, sincere and not remotely¬†sugar-coated. Heck, maybe it’ll even help some of you guys. Some of these signs will be quite blatant and obviously show that something is up. Others may not be quite so simple.

1) Your mental health has taken an unexplained beating

Okay so this one is incredibly difficult to pinpoint for some. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for years and I take medication for both. I’m usually pretty stable, level and balanced; my moods are generally positive. Of course I’ve had many blips and dips. Sadly that’s the reality of mental health issues. With regards to relationships, this was only something I really noticed about 4 months in. I’d been happy before that and had no doubts that it would work out with us. But I began to find myself having low moods and, at the time, I didn’t put two and two together. I thought it was just another random low. Plus my anxiety was really hyped up too; everything was just so vivid and heightened. It wasn’t until my mum suggested it was the relationship that I actually twigged and reflected. I’d feel better when I wasn’t due to see him. And then the moods would creep in again as our plans got closer. Pretty straightforward now I look back on it.

2) You’re not bothered about seeing them

Nothing subtle about this one, folks. It speaks absolute volumes if you’re just not bothered about spending time with them. I love my own space and doing my own thing, however, so I’ll happily see a boyfriend once, maybe twice a week. And people have busy lives with tons of other stuff going on aside from your relationship. That’s just life. But if you’re plan-free and still feeling apathetic towards the whole thing, it’s probably time to do some intense thinking.

3) You’re relieved when plans are cancelled

Pretty much goes along with the previous one. I’ve had this numerous times before. We’ve had plans and I’ve either been unwell or something has come up on their side so¬†we’ve had to reschedule.¬†If you feel anything other than disappointed and/or upset when this occurs, you’ve gotta ask yourself some serious questions.

4) You feel unwell a lot

Another tricky one here. As someone who’s had chronic health problems for over 7 years, a relapse and feeling even more unwell than normal isn’t a new phenomenon. You can be plodding along quite nicely then BAM you crash. Sometimes there’s a reason; you’ve had another illness on top, stress, weather, you’ve been overdoing it. For me though, one of the reasons was a previous boyfriend. Again, it wasn’t something I contributed to my relationship until my mum mentioned it. She’d noticed that my health would always take¬†a nose dive a day or so before I was due to see him. It wasn’t like this initially but eventually, it would happen EVERYTIME. I remember suffering with the worst migraines I’ve ever had; and I’ve been prone to headaches and migraines since I was a child. Honestly they were horrendous. I could barely move without the room spinning and the sickness hitting me like a hammer. Lights hurt. Noises hurt. I couldn’t keep any food down. Not nice at all. For me to feel so utterly rotten wasn’t totally new. But to this extent? I’d never experienced anything like that before. So I looked back and yet again, the same scenario arose; I would only get these migraines just before I was supposed to see him. It wouldn’t happen any other time, apart from the odd niggling headache, but those were part and parcel of my chronic illnesses. This was the biggest wakeup call for me. My health needed to come first and I couldn’t do that until I was single again. It all made sense and I wasn’t going to ignore it. My own boyfriend was making me ill.

5) You’ve emotionally checked out

Another not so subtle sign. If you’re no longer invested in a relationship, that’s not a good signal. Of course you may have other stuff going on that’s taking priority in your mind. But if that’s not the case, this may be the cause. You could be feeling a mix of all of these: you don’t want to make it work, you’d happily end and not see them anymore, you’re not bothered about putting time and effort in, they’re no longer your first priority.

6) You feel single

Yep. I said it. I went to that place.¬†If you’re with someone but you mentally and emotionally feel single, it’s time for some major soul-searching. You may even be acting single as well. This is a feeling I know all too well. Essentially, I just didn’t see him as my boyfriend anymore. End of. Admittedly I felt like a first-class bitch about it. I began wondering if there was something wrong with me as a person; maybe I wasn’t meant to be happily taken. But you know what? Shit happens. I couldn’t control the way I was feeling. It just…was. That’s the rollercoaster of life I suppose.

7) They start to really annoy you

Couples get on each others nerves sometimes. You may argue and stress each other out. But in all healthy, workable relationships, you work it out; you WANT to work it out. You love them 100000000x more than you find them to be an annoyance. For me though, this wasn’t the case. We never argued. Neither of us were the type. So it didn’t relate to that. We didn’t really disagree on anything either. He basically did just start to irritate me; to the point where even thinking about him now is making me cringe and shake my head. You know when someone grates on you; whether it’s their personality, actions or even their face or presence? We’ve probably all had someone like that in our lives. Usually it’s someone you can simply avoid or have nothing to do with. But when its your own boyfriend, it’s certainly…interesting

8) You’ve already moved on or thought about it

If you’ve got your eye on other people or have even moved on to someone else, I think it’s fairly obvious that something isn’t right

9) You’re just not happy anymore

Probably the easiest indicator of being with the wrong person. You can talk and talk and talk. You can seek professional help or reach out to family or friends. You can have so many heart to hearts with your partner to try and find the root cause. It may be something totally unrelated and you can resolve it. That’s brilliant if that’s the case. But if you’re no longer happy and it all boils down to your relationship, something has to change. For me, it was a mix of basically all the previous ‘clues’. My health was the worst it had been for years. My depression and anxiety were through the roof. I didn’t want to be around him anymore or make the effort to keep the relationship going. I emotionally checked out. I did feel single. And, whether it was down to all of these factors or it was a contributing factor all on its own, I was definitely not happy and content. I was so utterly relieved to end it. I don’t care how that makes me sound as I had to put myself first. Sure I didn’t like upsetting him and breaking his heart, but I’d rather that than be living a lie with him and continuing an unhappy relationship. It was brewing for ages and it took me a while to pluck up the courage to do it. And it was genuinely the best decision I’ve made for a very long time. I immediately felt a massive weight had been lifted; I felt like I could be myself again and get my life back to where it was.

 

Well there we go, ladies and gentlemen; my not very scientific but bloody accurate list. And before anyone complains, I 100% recognise that relationships are not black and white. If you’re seeing any of these signs in your life, it may just be a blip or something that can easily be addressed. I’m not here to tell you what to do or how to react to these feelings. Only you can make those decisions. But please please please don’t ignore any of the thoughts you may be having. It is so much worse to bottle it up and push them deep down inside yourself. Our bodies often know¬†whether something is right for us before¬†our minds and hearts do.¬†It could be a sign that you need to move on. It could be a sign that you need to readjust and address some parts of your relationship. Or it could be a sign of¬†something that is completely unrelated.

Basically it comes down to this: how does it make you feel to think about not seeing them again? For me, that was the clincher.

Take care of yourselves.

Kelsey xxx

 

Academic Absence Part II – Reinventing Myself

After getting pretty emotional whilst writing my previous post, I thought it was best to have a little break. But now I’m back, feeling reasonably good and ready to write the more positive side of this story.

Without the academic part of my life, I had to find something to replace it. I was daunted at the prospect but I knew there had to be something out there for me. I knew there had to be more to me than studying and grades. I knew I’d get there and feel complete again. With my concentration and memory almost totally shot, I needed easy-going, relaxed hobbies; maybe something to tap into my more creative side. And with that, here’s a list that will hopefully shed some more light on this ‘new me’ and possibly give you some inspiration and ideas to help you on your journey ūüôā

Photography

Okay, so not everyone can get out into the big, wide world¬†and capture¬†things on camera. But for me, it’s been a huge part of my life since being ill. I got into it beforehand, but I didn’t really hone my skills until after my M.E diagnosis. Even with just leaving the house for half an hour once a week, I might have been able to go into our communal garden and photograph some plants. Or some wildlife if I was lucky. Since moving to a house, I can easily watch the birds through our patio doors; catching photos of them in flight or feeding from the bird table. Photography essentially allows me complete creative freedom. I can choose whatever subject I like, whether that’s landscapes, flowers, insects or wildlife. I have control over what path I take with it and I love that. To feel in control of something again was wonderful. It really did, and still does, make a huge difference. I’ve even had online friends tell me in the past that they live vicariously through all my photos; they feel like they were there with me, enjoying the moment in real life. And that was something that encouraged me even more. I’ve known so many chronically ill individuals who are bedbound, housebound, wheelchair bound etc, and to know that my newfound hobby was helping them with their struggles? That spurred me on. So not only was I doing it for myself, I was doing it for others. Talk about silver linings, eh?

Pen Pals

Right at the start of my illness, I struggled immensely with the isolation and lack of contact with my peers. After seeking out some online forums, I made some incredible new friends; all of whom were in the same or a very similar situation to myself. Those I got closest to were then more than online friends. We became pen pals. I purchased a ton of cute stationery (Paperchase being a classic favourite) and got cracking. My hand would hurt. I’d have to take breaks. Sometimes I couldn’t reply to letters for days, even weeks. But I knew that the person on the other end would understand and patiently await my reply. There was no pressure at all. I was writing these letters and cards because I wanted to. I wanted to know how my friends were doing. I wanted to be able to cheer them up on a particularly rough day. And admittedly I did want to show off my new stickers, cards and funky letter sets. It gave me something to look forward to. At one point, I would receive a letter or more every single day. With hindsight, I can say that my pen pals helped me a hell of a lot more than I realised at the time. I began to feel less lonely and out of touch with people my own age. I’d found others in the same shitty place as me and we knew we could rely on each other. We had an instant common ground and connection. It was wonderful.

A New Focus

So this is probably the biggest and most important change for me. From a young age, I’d always been career focused. And even though the¬†job itself would change (vet, doctor, fashion designer, forensic scientist, midwife),¬†the same determination and goal was still there.¬†When the possibility of this was thrown into question, I didn’t know how to react at first. As I said before, I was lost and didn’t know who I was or would be in the future. I had to find something else for my busy mind to concentrate on and work towards. And one day, it just sort of clicked. I realised that having a career wasn’t everything. I also realised that there was so much more to life than¬†qualifications and grades. A lot of you will have always known this, but I hadn’t. It was all I’d ever wanted and been good at my whole life; learning, getting top grades and succeeding with it. But now I saw the light. I saw all the new opportunities out there for me. I had fresh¬†goals and dreams to put into place for my future. I could do something with my creative writing and/or photography. I could work with animals. I could start a family. All these life events and routes that I’d never thought about before suddenly became very real and exciting prospects. I wasn’t all about a high-flying, high intensity¬†job anymore. I knew I could be happy another way

Escapism

Plenty of you out there are likely to be avid readers or gamers; or both if you’re anything like me. I’d been a bookworm as a child but slacked, quite predictably, in my teenage years. I still had a few books in my bedroom, but they would often go untouched for months. But once my sleep problems appeared, I found my old friends again. Back then, it was taking me 2-3 hours to get to sleep at night, regardless of when I went to bed. I didn’t always want to watch TV, so I remember picking up my¬†copy of The Order of The Phoenix. Despite being daunted by the sheer size of it, I hunkered down for a nice reading session. And that was the moment the obsession began anew. I’d fill those couple of hours prior to slumber with make-believe worlds and fictional adventures. I was escaping from reality without leaving the comfort of my bed. When I was eventually put on melatonin to aid my sleep, I was getting to sleep within half an hour of my head hitting the pillow. So instead of my escapism happening at night, I had to move it to the day. Whilst my concentration was dire when it came to learning and retaining facts, I found fiction to be much easier to grasp. Maybe it was simply because I was doing it for pleasure as opposed to a grade or important test. Frankly I didn’t really care. I just loved my books and that was that. The same thing applies to gaming. I’ve played god knows how many different titles in my 25 years but they just keep getting better. Fallout 4, Skyrim, GTA V, Dragon Age Inquisition; these are my recent favourites. I found them all to be incredibly immersive. I’d simply¬†load them up and get lost in the stories. Plus the violent side of¬†some games were extremely good¬†stress relief :’)¬†It probably sounds quite lame to some of you, but when I was able to do a lot less than now, video games were a brilliant escape. It was another case of me being in control. I still had power over something, even when I didn’t have it over my own health. And yes there’s been countless occasions when I’ve been addicted and lost track of time. I admit that it’s a double-edged sword for me. On the one hand, I’m filling my days with something I love and can escape into. But on the other hand, you can easily forget about other things and the people around you. Moderation, moderation, moderation is my answer to that.

I think that might be it for me today. I can sense a headache looming under the surface and I don’t want to make it too angry. I’m not sure how insightful this post actually was to be honest. Be sure to inform me if you felt it was though! It would be great to see that my effort wasn’t in vain. And of course, I totally understand that hobbies such as these aren’t feasible for everyone, which upsets me a lot. And this wasn’t intended to make anyone feel disappointed or angry at their limitations. It was merely my way of saying how I personally coped, grew and made the most of my own personal abilities. And maybe it will give some of my readers a sense of hope for their future. I’m writing this blog post 7+ years after initially getting ill and I wasn’t¬†totally sure I’d ever get here. My newly discovered hobbies are one of many factors that have kept me sane over the past few years. And most importantly, I’ve gained the knowledge that, wherever you are in life and whatever your strengths, there’s something out there for you to embrace, pursue and excel at; it might just¬†take you a little while to find it.

Peace and love to all. Kelsey over and out x