The face of silent illnesses

This is the face of illness ……

Silent Illnesses

 

It doesn’t look particularly ill does it?

Honestly I don’t mind.  If I looked like I felt, it would be pretty catastrophic, and at least I don’t have that to worry about.  I don’t need lots of sympathy all the time either.  Although, I suppose it might be a helpful reminder to people that I’m not up to scratch.

I also have a big habit of ‘putting a good face on’ – one of my weaknesses/strengths who knows!

To those who know me well, there are dark rings under my eyes, a slight tightness to them due to the pain, I look a bit drawn, and my skin on my hands and feet is a mess – no sores or injuries are healing.  (Good news though, the hair on my legs isn’t growing either, so no need to shave – result!).

So what’s the matter?  Some form of Fibromyalgia flare up, brought on by a shock at work last summer, a years worth of stress, a lot of changes at Espiritu, a significant shock and concern over one of my children, and over work.  Apparently I then got an ear infection at the end of June and my whole body went haywire.  It’s the worst ‘flare’ I’ve ever had, with totally different symptoms from what I’m used to.

I knew I’d worked too hard.  So as soon as the project was finished, I took some time out and had a pamper at work.  But it was too late.  It started with feeling really tired for a couple of days – the kind of tired when there is nothing left in the tank.  Then I had some pain in my upper back.  Then it went into my head, down my arms and 111 had me rushing off to hospital with a suspected heart attack/stroke (I was shitting myself).  I was bedridden for 3 weeks, half of that pretty comatose.  The rest of the time I was in so much pain I couldn’t lift my head off the mattress.

WildBangarangEvilEric

I haven’t been able to wear Jeans all summer – that would hurt too much on my skin.  It’s either maxi-skirts, or leggings; thank goodness for the Big Hairy Northern one’s new business Wildbangarang – at least the leggings weren’t boring!  I can’t wear a watch or my normal heavy, sparkly jewellery because it would hurt too much (not a big deal I know, but it’s like a part of me has gone).  There are days when a bra is a big no no.  Glasses can be really heavy too – so for the first couple of months I was very limited as to how long I could wear mine.  I couldn’t even hold a phone to use Facebook – tragedy!

It’s amazing the difference between lying flat, lying leaning on a pillow, sitting with your legs up, sitting, standing and walking – I never understood that there was such a difference in how much energy it takes to do these things.  I love the ‘Spoon Theory‘ as a description of how forward thinking us Fibro-Peeps have to be – but seriously, to have to consider how long I can sit/stand is bizarre!

Did you know it’s tiring to watch TV or a film?  Although less tiring than Facebook, which I had a good break from.  And reading – wow it was a big day when I was well enough to read a book!
The Dr’s have been pretty pants tbh.  Eventually I was persuaded to go back on some pills (a light Nortriptyline dose, as I hated Amytriptyline last time) to give me a deeper level of sleep.  But when I went back for help, they just want me to wait to see the specialist.  In November.  Thanks for that – I couldn’t work, play with my kids or do anything.

Pilates and Fibromyalgia

The best help I had was from Teejay and Susan at Applied Pilates.  Teejay did some Osteolates on me and explained that I had some form of physical post-traumatic stress reaction.  Basically my body had shut down, there was no circulation in it, and the cells just had no energy whatsoever.  The remedy – no stress (slightly tricky as a new business owner!), lots of rest, and gentle sessions with himself or my girls at work to try to get the circulation and lymph system going.  It was a big relief to talk to someone who had so much experience of these sorts of weird physical reactions.  I think that what we always need is a plan – some form of hope is the first step to getting better.  Susan has been a constant source of support every week in the Pilates classes (using Stott Pilates machines, not mat work).  I’m not really ‘doing Pilates’, I’m just going through the motions to keep my body moving – it’s been more being there that has helped.

Most of the summer holidays was a massive juggle – rather than the normal holiday juggle of mine and the hairy one’s work, we also had to fit in my resting, or find things I could do with the kids whilst horizontal.  I am getting better.  But it is slow.  Oh so bloody slow – I’m not the most patient person in the world 😉

But it’s not all bad news:Hair Beauty Salon & Spa

It’s was a very busy 6 months at Espiritu, but we achieved a mammoth load of change, and it is definitely on the right track now.  It wasn’t a bad thing for us to have a quiet 3 months with little change.  It’s definitely taught me how to slow down and plan ahead to make the changes more manageable in future.

The girls have been incredible.  To be able to be sick for this period of time and only manage a couple of hours a week is amazing.  I can’t thank them enough.  If it had been last year, we just wouldn’t have survived.  I know that I’m really, really lucky to have a team like them behind me.

Every now and again I do something a bit daft, that I know I’m not really up to, but feel that if I can’t then what’s the point.  So we had a couple of trips into London to see some shows.  I pay for these moments of madness, but do love the memories they give.

Par Sands Beach

We had a lovely week in Cornwall thanks to my brothers cabin, which was wonderful – can’t beat a British beach – and I’m sure that all the sea air through the sinuses and freezing cold sea (it’s good for pain) really helped.  I can’t wait to go back there next year!

Curly Headed Boy initially reacted pretty badly – it had been a tough 6 months with me working loads, and he was there when 111 told me to go to hospital.  He got scared.  He got angry.  He wasn’t really pleasant.  But over time he has calmed, and we have spent much more time together.  He has learnt to not be quite as scared of weakness, and we have had some much needed chats and cuddles.  Although there are some things coming up this year that he is worried about, I feel that we are on a much even keel; cross fingers.

Little Dimples is still a little spooked by it all and clingy at times.  Also angry at times.  And being only 5, she isn’t managing to process it as easily as CHB.  So she is my next focus.  But she has learnt to cycle without her stabilisers, yay!

I don’t have the excruciating pain any more.  I can manage a couple of hours at work, and am OK in meetings now, as they are sitting down.  I’m not good at standing up – I still get pressure in my head, neck, shoulders and arms, and I feel generally ‘wrong’.  I’ve got constant heart palpitations, but apparently it’s not dangerous.  My brain isn’t working quite right, but my sleep has improved.  And I get tired real fast.  There are not a lot of spoons left in my drawer!

And I have a plan ……  I’ll tell you more about it over the next couple of weeks.

I’ll try to keep my blog posts short and sweet, so that they don’t overload me.  But writing is an important ‘coming back to me’ thing and if the ideas I’m trying work, then it’s important I share them.  Sadly I’ve had to step down from my Radio Verulam gig though – it’s just not possible at the moment.  It kept me posting through these last 2 years, and I loved every minute of it.

Organising with a computer

Five Tips For Working Out How To Change What You Are Doing With Your Life

Radio Verulam's Drive Time With Danny SmithI was over at Radio Verulam with the gorgeous Dapper Danny Smith last month – sorry but I forgot to download the audio, so no dulcet tones this time!

Loads of people have been asking me about making a big life change, so I thought I would give some tips.  It could be any big change job, relationship, house, country, anything.

I’ve made several BIG job changes in my life.  I spent 13yrs working in IT.  When I say ‘IT’, I’m not talking doing a little bit of light computing stuff.  I’m talking proper full on programming and heavy duty stuff.  I was even a ‘software engineer’ at one point – this requires wearing sandals and being REALLY geeky!

But then I started thinking I wanted to do something ‘more important’ with my life and eventually made the crazy decision to give up an extremely well paid job to be a tree hugging hippy and heal people.  When I got more ambitious in the problems I wanted to heal, I moved towards more complicated therapy type techniques.

Suddenly I fell pregnant – as you know this was a big shock at 36, having spent 16 years thinking I was barren.  After Little Dimples I found it harder to work, and wanted to shift my focus to just mums, and so was born ‘The Mummy Whisperer’ and this blog.  Within a year, I was pretty much more of a writer than a therapist and loving it.  (Don’t forget 2nd edition of my book ‘Six steps to a sparkling you’ is out now).

Of course now I’m going into very new waters with the opening of my hairdressing salon and spa in Battlers Green Farm, Radlett in October!  This is not as random as you may think …. so read the hints below to see how I got here …

 

TIP 1 – Nature Never Throws Anything Away

Organising with a computer
Start them young!

So you want to make a change, but don’t know where to start?  Look back.  There are clues in your past.

Look for what you enjoyed, what you were good at, projects you did, qualifications, experiences, adventures.

If you are looking to move, think about all the places you have lived, or visited, or dreamed of.  Where did you feel energised?  Where did you feel calm?  Where did you feel suffocated?

For example, I’m Bristol born and bred, and must admit to missing it sometimes.  When we bought our house in St Albans, the view from my window is very similar to the view of the downs that I had as a child, so it was very comforting.

Draw a big squiggly line and plot all the big events and your ages, and look for patterns and clues.

Think about what you never thought there was enough of, or what you always felt was missing?  That’s probably a clue to a passion of yours.

I was a ‘young carer’, so I was pretty much always going to work as a nurse/healer.  My escape came from books, hence the writing.  With older parents, I was often a bit lonely and watched people for hours from our balcony, hence being fascinated by human behaviour.  My mum was a bit of a witch …. ;o)

Here you can have a bit of a reality check.  Yes, there are people who are suddenly discovered at 25 to have the voice of an angel – but I don’t trust most of those stories!  You actually do have to have an ability in what it is that you would love to do.  So just because you sang a lot as a 3yo, doesn’t mean that you are going to be the next success story on the X-factor.

I’m not a hairdresser (although I clearly see the link between hairdressers and therapists), but our business partner is, and between us we have all the skills needed.

 

TIP 2 – There’s a pattern in your ideas

notebook
I love a notebook

I got this tip from Oprah Winfrey 20yrs ago.

Get a notebook (I like pretty ones!).  Whenever you get an idea you fancy write it in the book, then write all the Pro’s and Con’s – there should be as many pro’s as con’s if you have researched it properly.

Eventually you will see that there is a pattern in the things that you are looking at.

For example, maybe you are always looking at careers that are creative, or something with a bigger challenge?  Perhaps all the houses you look at have big gardens and no neighbours, or do you love the idea of being surrounded by a community?

I chose to become a Reiki Master, because I didn’t want to go back to do a degree, but I wanted something with the potential to keep learning, teach others and work on animals too.  I chose Resonance Repatterning (Kinesiology based therapy) because I needed something stronger when I started to specialise in mental health issues.  Then I chose the Demartini Method because I felt fragmented and needed to bring my scientific side in to help with my tree hugging side.  Now I’m embracing my more feminine, intuitive, creative side.

 

 

Tip 3 – Once you are enroute you can settle down

Family gap year
Travelling the world in a motorhome

It’s horrid being unhappy.  I totally get that.  But DO NOT just jump out of it.  That’s not the way to leave (apart from in extreme circumstances obviously).

Now that you are doing something about it, you know you are enroute, so something will definitely change.

Once you are looking, does it really matter if it takes 1yr, 5yrs or 10yrs?

Normally it is better to work through your issues with a situation, and come to terms with it before leaving.  It means you are less likely to jump out of the frying pan into the fire!

Try not to jump to conclusions.

Just because you learn’t Reiki doesn’t mean you are going to become a healer – it could just be that you are going to use it to de-stress yourself and find something else.  Plus there are all sorts of ways of incorporating your ideas.  For example, I will be able to bring ‘healing’ to thousands of people with the hairdressing salon – I don’t have to actually heal each person personally.  Just because you just bought a sewing machine, doesn’t mean you need to start up a business making stuff.  Just because you write a blog, doesn’t mean you have to make money from it or sell a book.

Remember, some things in life are purely for your enjoyment, not to be turned into a career.

It’s frustrating when you know you are going but you don’t know when it will happen.  But give the universe a chance to help you out, rather than pushing it – I missed out on a very helpful redundancy package because I pushed!

 

Tip 4 – Vision Board

content
content

I’ve been ‘revising’ all the stuff I learnt 13yrs ago and one of the most fun things has been creating a vision board with Melanie at Therap Healing.  These are great for inspiring you with ideas, and then focussing you on getting them.

Basically, I spent a couple of weeks printing off pretty pictures of things and quotes that interested/inspired me.  I knew it was likely to be something to do with my book/work, kids and getting healthier.  So that was where I focussed.

Then it was off to Mel’s.  We did a little meditation to help us connect to our wiser intuitive side (logic will only get you so far).

Then it’s time to stick pictures on our vision board, eat cake, and gossip!  FUN!

Stick the vision board up somewhere for you to keep reminding yourself about.

This helps you to focus on what you want to achieve and can give some really amazing insights – like the fact that somehow or other I would like to have a place by the sea one day.

I remember 8yrs ago doing one of these to help me finish my weight loss off.  I drew a picture of boots (you know how you can’t fit into normal boots when you are over weight) and also a pole, because I really fancied learning to pole dance.  SIX WEEKS LATER a pole dancing class started up at my gym.  Maybe not that spooky, but if I hadn’t put it on my board I might not have had the courage to try it (btw I believe all women should do a 12 week pole dancing class – it’s fabulous for the spirit!).

 

Tip 5 – Cosmic Ordering

Full moon is magic
Full moon is magic

Action is important.  But sometimes worrying about HOW on earth you are going to achieve something, will just get in the way.

When you are clear what it is that you would love, you can literally ‘order’ it from the universe.

There is a great book by Barbara Mohr on Cosmic Ordering, which was made famous by ‘Noel Tidy Beard’ as my friend calls him (Edmonds) in his book ‘Positively happy’.

There are some thoughts which when I have them feel really ‘heavy’, they sort of bounce – I know those ones are automatically ‘ordered’.  But you can make up any method you like to ‘order’ stuff.

You could write a letter to the universe and post it.  Or ask the new moon for it.

No, I don’t think that ordering £1million or a Ferrari will work.  It’s got to be something heart-felt.

 

But remember to enjoy today

Change is stressful.

Not changing is stressful.

Remember, it’s not about where you were, or where you will be, but the fact that it is all one long journey.  Don’t miss today because you are worrying about yesterday or tomorrow.

What’s your favourite tip for making a change in your life?

 

 

 

My Big Secret Project Is …….

I’m at last going to tell you what my ‘Big Secret Project’ is!

It might seem a bit random, but I’ll explain myself in my next vlog, as it’s a really interesting story of how things all add up together sometimes.

So drum roll please …….

(Oh yes and as you can see Little Dimples was REALLY helpful with the whole videoing process – not!).