In a Nutshell – Sleep by C.L. Taylor

Seeing as I powered through this in just over 24 hours, I’d say it was one heck of a read! An instant 5 star read, right from the opening page. Nothing was as it seemed AT ALL. I thought I’d gotten something sussed out and then BOOM, curve ball. The story doesn’t let you get comfortable. There’s always something unexpected around the corner; not to mention how crazy atmospheric the whole thing was. Each of the characters had their own depth, layers and plenty of flaws/strong points. Some of them were created to be liked, others were created to be… mysterious? And others were created to simply annoy, confuse and irritate you; just like real life then!

It is a genuine + thrilling page turner. 5 stars from me

Adventure Time

This may be news to some of you, but I am an absolute sucker for cartoons; whether they’re made for children or adults. I’m a 26 year old, I swear 😉 but Adventure Time always holds a special place in my quirky little heart. It kept me company for a long time when I was at my most unwell. It cheered me up on my lower days. It made my imagination even more vivid + wild. And for that, I’m incredibly thankful. So here’s my current (and very colourful) collection of AT graphic novels/comics

Is there a particular TV show or film that is extra special to you? If so, what it is and why? ☺️ I’d love to hear from you guys!!

Adventure time, c’mon grab your friends… ❤️

CBT news

Here comes a positive post, people. Positive post warning.

So I’ve been having high intensity CBT for over a year, which I genuinely can’t remember if I’ve mentioned before. Gulp. Anyway! You now know. It was mainly targeting my various anxieties and depression, but we also discussed phobias and stress etc. I’ve had regular CBT before but was sadly unable to get the most out of it due to my health being much worse. And I actually think that the regular type wasn’t really going to work for me anyway. As an added bonus, the high intensity CBT is ongoing for as long as you need, without needing to be referred by your GP again and again. Three cheers for avoiding that annoyance.

My counsellor was absolutely legendary. I know it’s his job but I could tell that he genuinely cared about the people he sees. I had no trouble opening up and being honest either. It was all very relaxed whilst still providing all the help I required.

Here comes the positive news…

After reducing the regularity of my appointments, I was officially discharged as of the 3rd of April!! 🙂 It’s been stressed as well that I can start up my sessions again at any time in the future if the situation arises, which is a great reassurance for my little brain.

I’m unbelievably grateful that I had access to such a life-changing form of therapy. And I’m beyond grateful that it actually worked for me. I’m honestly in the best place I’ve been for years. So I’d like to say a huge thank you to the wonderful NHS. And, in a strange way, a thank you to myself for embracing and fully committing to the whole process. I’ve got my proud face on and I’m wearing it joyously.

Stay positive, safe and be kind to yourselves.

Kelsey x

Stop The Stigma

Let’s get right to it: there should be NO stigma or shame attached to taking antidepressants, anxiety meds etc.

It really gets to me that there’s still people out there who see them in such a negative light. Yes the medications may not help everyone and in some cases can make symptoms worse. But for all those people that they help? They are genuinely a lifesaver. Nobody should be made to feel bad about taking meds for depression and other mental health issues. So, let’s get a few things straight…

  1. Antidepressants do NOT make you weak or any less of a human
  2. They don’t cause ‘fake happiness/feelings’
  3. Taking them isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Fact
  4. Some people need them indefinitely and that is okay
  5. Others take them for shorter periods and that is okay too
  6. They enable you to cope with life
  7. And, in my case, they simply allow me to be 100% me
  8. I’ve been taking antidepressants since autumn 2010 and don’t regret a single tablet
  9. I will take them for as long as I need and don’t give a shit if that’s months, years or decades
  10. You don’t know everyone’s story or what’s going on in their minds, so you have no right to make a judgement on that which you know nothing about
  11. Some people choose other alternatives to medication, but that doesn’t mean their issues are any less severe or debilitating
  12. And medication isn’t the first option for these issues. Doctors will recommend self-help first, counselling etc. And if those don’t help, then pharmaceutical avenues will be explored
  13. Why is it that with a number of ongoing physical conditions, taking medication long-term is never questioned, but for mental health, some people suddenly get in a tizzy about it? You wouldn’t tell a diabetic that they didn’t really need their insulin. So why is someone with long-term depression for example any different?

Basically, don’t be a dick about it. Educate yourself, do some research. And if you still have nothing positive, helpful or supportive to say, keep it to yourself

A weird sort of gratitude

When you think back to being a child, what were your dreams? Where did you want to be by the time you were your current age? If you look at your life now, does it match up? The chances are that, no, it doesn’t. That may because you changed your mind. It might be because of a missed opportunity. Or maybe it’s because of a lack of funds. But for me and others in similar situations? It’s beyond our control. Illness has taken us down a different path. It’s bumpy, muddy and downright treacherous. But we have no choice but to keep following it. Getting ill at 17 and thinking that I’ll be 26 in June? Yeah that’s pretty scary. I still live at home. I’m still reliant on others. I’m still unable to work or study. This sort of scenario would never have crossed my mind as a teenager, let alone as a child. It wouldn’t have been on my radar. You think about getting a job, falling in love, going into space or being a princess. You don’t think about being housebound, wheelchair bound or all the doctor’s appointments.

But at the end of it all, it is what it is. I may not have the career I wanted, but I’ve realised that’s not important. I’ve found my creativity and my love of expressing myself. I may not live independently, but I’ve got a loving and supportive home. I may not be where I wanted to be as a child, but I’ve seen the oh so many options that I didn’t perceive before. And most of all, I’ve found myself. I’ve discovered what I truly value + what I really want from life.

And in a strange way, I genuinely thank my illness for that

A Window into the Wheelchair World

Hello all 🙂 hope you’re having a lovely Sunday.

This brand new post is going to be all about the variety of experiences I’ve had whilst in my wheelchair. Some will be minor trivial things, but when they happen regularly, it soon builds up into one big mass annoyance.

Positives

Admittedly needing a wheelchair isn’t something you necessarily feel positive or good about. It’s a part of your life and can easily wear you down. But there are some moments that, for me, have made a huge difference.

1) People asking if you need help

Okay so you don’t really yearn for people to be sticking their noses in your business all the time or making assumptions. But I’ve had a number of experiences of people asking whoever was pushing my wheelchair if they needed a hand; say, up a hill or negotiating a dodgy pavement. Or if who I’m with isn’t there at that moment, I’ve also had people ask if I need help getting something off a shelf etc. It’s such a small part of their day but those gestures really do stick with me.

2) Freedom to go out

If I didn’t have my wheelchair when I did, I wouldn’t have been able to leave my home. It’s as simple as that. To be so utterly reliant on something such as a wheelchair, and a person to push you around, can be a rather devastating feeling. You don’t want to live with it, but you can’t live without it. However, I always make sure I acknowledge just how much it improved my quality of life. Even a two minute ‘wheel’ down the road gave me some much needed fresh air and a slice of freedom. Definitely not something to take for granted.

Negatives

I realise I didn’t actually mention many positives. Those were also both pretty generic ones. That’s just how it is I guess.

1) One memorable occurrence

I can’t remember exactly how long ago this happened, but it was during a period of still being predominantly wheelchair bound but being able to walk shorter distances if needed. On this particular day, I was out with my dad. We ventured to a local antique shop, parked in a disabled space right at the front and put my Blue Badge in the window. I’d been there before so I knew for certain that the shop wasn’t remotely wheelchair friendly; it was crammed with allsorts of items, very narrow walkways etc. I’d saved up a bit of energy beforehand in preparation for the little walk. It was a case of I either walked round as much as I could manage or I didn’t go at all. Just as we were walking towards the entrance, a woman came out of an office room and asked us if we’d parked in a disabled bay. Yes, we replied. She didn’t seem impressed and requested that we moved the car as they only have a small number of disabled spaces. At this point both me and my dad were getting pretty damn irritated with her intrusive behaviour. We told her I have Blue Badge and it was in the window if she wished to it. My dad told her I had M.E which means that, on my ‘less worse’ days, I can manage a small amount of walking. This next part makes me so pissed to even think about it now. Upon being told of my health condition, she then looked me up and down; as if my invisible illness was suddenly going to jump out and smack her in the face. If that wasn’t bad enough, her facial expression added to the overall mood. She wasn’t frowning per se; it was more a kind of disbelieving glare. I mean, seriously. Customer service at it’s absolute finest right there. Safe to say we haven’t really been back since.

2) Crowds

So I’ve never been a fan of crowds or anywhere with a bustling atmosphere. It’s part of my introverted personality. But once I started using my wheels, it became ridiculous. I was worried that people were staring at me. I was worried that people were judging me. I was also worried of someone not seeing me and falling onto my lap. That’s another thing; busy shopping centres are utter hell. If you’re not accidentally ramming into someone’s ankles, you’re nearly tripped over when people don’t realise you’re even then. Or better yet, your eyes are constantly at ‘bum height’ which, whilst obviously unnerving, is extremely claustrophobic. Some people don’t even move out of the way once they see a wheelchair. They’ve turned, seen that there clearly isn’t enough space for me, but make no effort to simply take a step back. I don’t want special treatment because of the wheelchair but come on. That’s just common decency.

3) Cashier’s not addressing you

Ugh. This. I’ve had it numerous times before. I’ll be in a shop, items I want to purchase in a basket on my lap, heading towards the tills. I place them to be scanned, quite blatant in my actions that I’m the person who’s paying. But no. Some cashiers decide to address who I’m with instead; asking them if I’d like a bag or if I have a loyalty card. I’m right here, you cretin. You clearly saw me put the stuff on your till and that the person I’m with is not necessarily taking any notice. I’m the customer. Surely it’s obvious? Oh but I’m in a wheelchair. That MUST mean I don’t have the ability to communicate or understand the world the around me. Yes I know that some people struggle with how to be around those in a wheelchair. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to point-blank ignore you and make assumptions about your mental capabilities. On some occasions, whoever I was with simply walked off so the cashier had to talk to me. Sometimes it was the only thing that worked.

My wheelchair meant I could make ‘deer’ friends… *pun absolutely intended*
Sometimes I go into off-road mode

Essentially, this post was about giving you a brief insight into the world of a wheelchair user. It’s not decadent. It’s not easy. And it’s not something we enjoy. But it’s also not something we want sympathy for. It’s not something we have to let get us down. We are allowed to see the positives and be happy. And, one of the biggest things to take away from this is:

You don’t have to look sick or disabled to use a wheelchair

Love and hugs to everyone.

Kelsey x

The Story of my Wheels

Good morning all 🙂

I hope you’re as well as possible and not experiencing too much of that Monday feeling. I’ve just this minute polished off the last of my iced latte so I’m currently pepped up and ready to get this post written!

After my M.E diagnosis in early 2011, my health declined quite quickly. As I mentioned before, I had to leave sixth form which was such a tough decision for me. I remember the last time I was actually at college; quite vividly in fact. I recall finishing my last lesson of the day, walking the two minutes home and saying to my mum “I think I need a wheelchair”… A pretty bold statement but sadly, it was true. That short walk really knocked me out and I knew I had to find something, anything, to help reduce my energy loss. It would simply drain out of my body. I could physically feel it being totally zapped out of me.

Although I knew I needed some form of mobility aid, to actually get my head around the reality of it was incredibly difficult. The more I would think about it, the more I realised just how unwell I truly was; and there were no signs of it getting any better. So, with a bit of research and determination, we contacted the Red Cross as we’d been told that they loaned out wheelchairs for short periods of time, for people when they’ve broken legs etc. We were all of course hoping that this short-term wheelchair hire would be plenty long enough for my health to improve…and we all know now that that wasn’t going to be the case. Nonetheless, at that moment in time, I felt like some sort of progress could now be made. I was able to leave the house and get some much needed fresh air without having to expel my limited energy supply. Granted it still completely drained me, but to a lesser degree than my ‘pre-wheelchair’ outings. The wheelchair itself was one of those solid, tiny wheeled, pretty uncomfortable models. It got the job done but boy was it a challenge for my fragile body. Any slight lump or bump in the pavement and BAM I’m wobbling around all over the place. And, in an attempt to make things easier for myself, I gave my wheelchair a name: Brennan. Strangely it did in fact have some positive impact. I could say to myself that Brennan was taking me out rather than oh god I’ve got to sit in this stupid chair with wheels again.

Me, my dad and Brennan the wheelchair

I don’t remember the first time I used the chair, which surprises me. But then again it was over seven years ago! I do however remember having to go into sixth form to discuss my health with one of my teachers. My mum pushed me, which is something I’d have to get used to. Luckily for my anxious-filled self, the building was mostly empty as it was after lessons. But a few stragglers remained and I knew they were either staring at me or trying not to. I felt so exposed and vulnerable, but at the same time, I knew I needed my wheelchair. If I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t be able to go out anywhere, not even this brief two minute walk. And frankly, it was nobody else’s business.

After the loan period came to an end, I had come to terms with the fact that I would need my own wheelchair. I asked online friends for recommendations and decided to get myself a funky blue one. In a way, I was quite excited for it to be delivered. I knew it would be far more comfortable than my previous one as the new one had those large wheels which can be used to self-propel if you can manage it, meaning that it didn’t react to every little change in the pavement surface. And it was a pretty colour so my inner child was extremely happy. As before, my very own wheelchair deserved a name of its own; Blue Brennan. I know, I know. It’s a rip off of the last name. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it 😉

Me and Blue Brennan

I think I’ll end this post here; just leave it as a factual, storytelling type thing rather than adding allsorts of feelings, impact on my mental health etc. That’ll be in another post, which will include good and bad experiences I’ve had whilst in my wheelchair, plus a variety of different thoughts and worries I’ve had relating to it. It could be a very lengthy essay, hence why I’m thinking it’ll need an entire post all to itself.

As always, be kind to each other and yourselves.

Kelsey xxx