So it’s been a while since I’ve been on here – I’ve been trying to get myself back together with somewhat limited success.
But I thought I’d give you an update about what has been happening while I’ve been gone, and why it may be a while before I’m properly back.
After a heap of heavy family and emotional stuff through the end of 2016 and the start of 2017, my mental health was sitting on a knife-edge when I initially dropped off the radar here. However, I didn’t really acknowledge how bad I had gotten at that point, so I kept going with 90% of my normal stuff (work, uni, life) because I was determined that I wasn’t going to let myself go back to where I was 5 years ago.
BAD MOVE! Determination alone is not enough to fix your mental and physical health.
I crashed, quite spectacularly. I was exhausted all the time, but couldn’t sleep because I was so WIRED from my anxiety. I was also physically unwell – I’d had a cold during January, and just never really kicked it. I tried to go to the gym, and all that did was push me further down – Hello CFS, I did not miss you in the slightest. Post-exertion malaise SUCKS BALLS.
I ended up dropping 3 of my 4 university subjects, dropping my work hours to 1 shift per week (and taking several weeks off as well, thank god I’m casual at work).
After 3 weeks of having daily (often multiple times daily) anxiety/panic attacks, I got myself in to a specialist doctor. After a barrage of testing, he diagnosed me with a couple of genetic conditions (Pyrrole disorder and MTHFR). I got one from each side of the family – talk about genetic lottery!
I’m now getting treatment for both conditions – I’m on a huge number of supplements (both conditions cause significant deficiencies in several important vitamins and minerals) and things are beginning to get better.
I’m back at the doctor in a couple of weeks to retest and see if my levels are getting back to what they should be, but I’m feeling better already. My anxiety has backed off significantly – it’s not gone, but I haven’t had an anxiety/panic attack in 2 months. I’m still tired, but nowhere near as bad as I was. I managed to go to the gym and it didn’t wipe me out.
I’m part-time at uni now, and will be graduating at the end of next year. I’ve increased my work hours back to 5 shifts per fortnight, and I’m beginning to get the housework stuff back under control.
We got a new cat in the midst of the crash, because having a furry friend really does help – if you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen pictures of her there.
I’m knitting/crocheting/crafting like a madwoman because it helps keep me level, and I’m trying to get back to cooking and eating healthy because my crash ended in me putting on 5kg :S
I may not be back to posting regularly for a little while longer, but I want to get back to blogging again. I’m not putting a timeframe on anything at the moment, just until things level out and are a little more predictable again.
This is why I have been gone for a while. I was diagnosed with CFS/ME in high school after 2 years of being generally unwell.
I am one of the lucky ones – I am not bedridden. I can carry on a reasonably normal life 90% of the time.
Most days, I can pretend to be a normal person – I work, study, clean my house, go out with friends.
But sometimes, I can’t. I want to do things, but I just do not have the energy. Sometimes, I have the energy but my brain doesn’t come to the party – I have stood in my kitchen and realised that even though I had the theoretical knowledge of how to make coffee, I had no idea in that moment how to actually go about it. I could not remember the process required to get out a coffee mug, boil the kettle, all the steps required just to make a simple cup of coffee.
That was a REALLY scary day – I thank my lucky stars that this has only happened 3 times, ever.
I often have trouble with words – when I get tired, my brain can’t get to the right word quick enough, and so it throws me whatever it can find.
Sometimes I’ll say “closet” instead of “coat”.
Sometimes I’ll say the name of something I can see, rather than what I mean to say.
And sometimes, I can’t even think of the word. I’ll just stand there, and try to mime out the word I want. I still know what I want to say, I just don’t have the words for it.
Occasionally, I’ll be fine with finding the correct words but stringing them into a spoken sentence is beyond me.
This is why I’ve been missing from this blog. I’ve had to count my spoons* and use them for things that let me try to be a normal human being, because I’ve been a little short recently. Emotion saps me of energy (thanks ASD!) and there’s been a lot of that in my life these past few months – and I’m feeling the effects of it now.
I miss blogging. I miss the “normal” life I’ve been able to live for the past 2 years (because I’ve managed my energy and health well). And I know I will be able to get back to that with time, but it’s going to take time. And I’m crazy impatient.
* Visit But You Don’t Look Sick for an explanation of Spoon Theory if you don’t know why I’m talking about spoons
As those who follow me on twitter or instagram would know, we suffered a major loss just before Christmas – our gorgeous kitty Jacket passed away in his sleep. He’d had a few health problems across the year, and I think it all eventually just caught up with him. He was 15 years old, so he was getting up there in cat-years, but it was still unexpected.
Before anyone asks, because it really is a sore point – nope. Not ready to get another cat yet. We will, but just not yet.
Honestly, I’ve been a mess. I was already a bit burnt out from working a few too many shifts during semester, and then with this horrible sad event right before Christmas, only the day before the one year anniversary of my Nan’s death, I just haven’t been coping very well.
This blog has suffered, my house is a bombsite, I haven’t done work I needed to do. I haven’t done the ‘healthy’ things I know make me feel better (gym, yoga, tai chi, meditation), and instead have spent an inordinate amount of time on the couch, watching Netflix, gaming, and eating chocolate.
I went a couple of weeks ago for a checkup (because my shoulder has been playing up again) and have been informed that I am suffering from adrenal fatigue (again). Now I have to be careful I don’t push myself completely off the edge, especially seeing as I’m heading back to uni in only 2 weeks.
I don’t know when I’ll be back writing properly on the blog, but I don’t want to go away completely. I have so many ideas for posts, but I just haven’t got the mental energy to bring them to life at the moment.
I just know that I have to take the time to sort out my mental and physical health again, before I completely wreck myself. Right now, I’m just tired and need to get myself healthy again.
*** The article linked in this post is not mine, but it sums everything up in a much better way than I could ***
Apologies for being so very very slack over the last… god, 3 months? 4 months?… something like that.
Life has been super-busy, and somewhat stressful.
I did 4 weeks of prac this semester, as well as all my normal assignments, and then on top of that I got SICK and missed part of one of my prac weeks.
I now have to make up a week of prac, and I’m just waiting for the school to get back to me about when I’ll be doing that.
But since I’ve been sick, I’ve had trouble getting back up to where I was before. I don’t think I gave myself enough time to really properly get better, because everything has been back-to-back and I just couldn’t take the time off.
I’m just SO DAMN TIRED, and very distracted. Concentrating on anything is incredibly difficult 😦 My anxiety has been playing up again and I keep second-guessing myself, but I think I must be on a downward depression cycle as well because motivation is zero. I’ve just got to push myself through my exams, and then in a week I’ll be DONE! Hopefully I can get through without breaking, because I have plans for the summer break and I don’t want to have to spend the whole time recovering.
So the last few weeks have been a bit more than just hectic.
For starters, my priority order is “Family – uni – paid work – unpaid work”, so this blog and a few volunteer things I do have fallen by the wayside.
Starting with family – my Mum is in the process of buying a new house, and is asking for our input a lot. This has been rather time consuming.
Then, the new job that Hubby started fell through. He is now in the process of transitioning back to being self-employed (which he hasn’t been for several years) and THAT has me worrying about how the hell we’re going to pay all the bills while we sort it out.
Uni – I’ve been on prac for the past 3 weeks, so I’ve been working full-time hours and not getting any $$ for it. I also had to do an essay and study for an exam in that time. I’ve just finished prac, and now I have 2 more essays to write in the next 10 days.
Paid work – referring back to the ‘Family’ section, it appears that once again, I am going to be the primary source of income until Hubby gets work sorted out. This is more than a little scary, as pay day is offset from worked weeks by about a fortnight, so my next pay isn’t for nearly 2 weeks, and it will be from the single shift I’ve worked in the second half of prac.
The result of all of this is that I’ve spent the time that I’m not sleeping or on prac planning and re-planning the bill payments for the next month, and worrying about it all. My sleep has suffered, which has had knock-on effects for my mental and physical health.
I currently feel like absolute crap, but I’ve now got 3 weeks where I can pick up extra shifts while I don’t have classes. I also have to catch up on my reading and study from the start of semester, and get to work on the volunteer stuff I’m supposed to be doing.
I’m kind of over everything at the moment, and I’m stressing out over the money thing, so I don’t know if I’m going to be able to post much, but I’ll do my best. Hopefully it all sorts itself out soon, and life can get back to *somewhat* normal.
The past 48hrs have been an interesting mix of awesome and terrible.
The awesome stuff:
- A good friend FINALLY got engaged and I was there
- I got 2 new pairs of jeans and MY BUTT LOOKS AWESOME IN THEM. To boot, they’re a size 9!!!! (2 years ago I barely fit into a 12!) WOOT WOOT vanity sizing for the win BUT WHATEVER. Finally, jeans that fit my butt and waist at the same time.
Usually jeans that fit my hips/butt are way too loose around my waist and either fall down or look terrible. I have now discovered the awesomeness that is “Curve Embracer” jeans from Jeans West 🙂
- I reached my quota for “allowable last-minute schedule changes” in a spectacular fashion on Friday night. Pretty much EVERY plan I’ve made with anyone other than Hubby for the past 2 weeks has been changed at the last minute, and usually without me being informed except in passing. On Friday night, one phone call managed to single-handedly screw with ALL my plans for next week.
I spent Friday night and most of Saturday in an absolute emotional mess because I just couldn’t deal. I plan in a certain amount of wiggle room for things like this, and if I can plan for things not going to plan I’m ok (e.g. at work – no worries, all good, because I control for the stuff I can)… but if they’re things that I don’t expect to get screwed around over (like meeting up with family), I have difficulty. If I get multiples within a short amount of time, I crash and burn.
Now I’m trying to catch up on my uni work and get myself back on a even keel for next week. I tensed up so much from yesterday that 3 long soaks in very warm baths have not made as much of an impact as I would like, and I’ve had a tension headache all day 😦
Hopefully I can stay on the level for a little while now though.
Sorry I’ve been absent – when I’m not at the computer all the time for uni work, I tend to forget to post. I’m working on improving that, but for now I’m back at uni and I should be posting a little more regularly.
I read this article on POPSUGAR yesterday, and thought I’d share it with everyone. I know I’m going to need these tips this semester, and I figure there’s plenty of you who might as well!
Since the past couple of weeks have been less-than-fantastic in the mental health arena, I thought I might share a few of the slightly unconventional things that I find help ENORMOUSLY with my anxiety.
The repetitive movements of knitting/crochet give me something else to focus on, as does following the pattern. A simple pattern is best for if I just need to calm down from low-level anxiety, and a more complex pattern is good when I need to fully detach for a little while and get my bearings. Therefore I usually have at least 2 (often more) projects on the go at any one time.
- Rubiks cube
This is another one of the “repetitive movements” type – but can be more portable. I can solve both a 3×3 and a 4×4 cube, but I tend to only carry the 3×3 around with me – the 4×4 is a little more fragile (it’s the one that fell apart in this post). This is basically like a stressball for me – as well as being a pretty cool party trick.
I sometimes feel like this is a given, but it’s less about the chocolate and more about using it as a form of mindfulness meditation. Take 1 square of chocolate and let it dissolve slowly in your mouth, taking care to pay attention to the sensation of it – the taste, the smell, the feel. Make that piece of chocolate last as long as humanly possible.
- Vicks Vaporub
I always carry a jar of this in my handbag, and not because I’m prone to chest colds. For some reason, I find the smell of the vaporub incredibly calming. Probably some sort of way-back association with comfort from Mum when I was sick, but whatever – it WORKS. I also have gum that has a similar smell/taste while you chew it, as well as having a packet of vapodrops in my handbag.
The texture of satin has always been soothing for me – and I must admit, I still carry a satin ribbon in my pocket EVERYWHERE.
As cliched as it might seem, being able to get onto a game and kill some orcs/darkspawn/evil templars/undead is incredibly therapeutic. This is also how I nut out my frustrations if someone has pissed me off.
- Tai Chi
I started doing this several years ago, when my doctor suggested it to try and manage the joint and muscle pain/stiffness that came from my CFS. It helped a bit with that, but it helped far more with my anxiety and stress levels. I hadn’t done much for a couple of years, since I moved and there wasn’t a class near me any more, but now I’ve found an app to walk me through the movements, I’ve started up again. That couple of years break means I’ve basically forgotten the sequence of movements, but hopefully I’ll soon be able to do it from memory again.
This is more a long-term thing, as it doesn’t do much in the situation of an anxiety attack, but it seems to lower my overall anxiety/stress levels and reduces the frequency and severity of the attacks.
That’s just a few things that I use to help with my anxiety, and just because it works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you – but it also doesn’t mean it WON’T work.
These things are not meant as a replacement for medications, more as a supplement – even when you’re on medication, you can still have acute spells, and having non-drug-based remedies can be very helpful.
Does anyone have their own particular anxiety remedy that they prefer?
Got an email from the real estate of our old place, saying that the cleaner did not do a good enough job, and that APPARENTLY (oh shock!) the grass needs mowing and whipper-snipper-ing again. Wow, so the grass GREW during summer? Who’d have THUNK it? That’s what happens when you say “oh I’m doing the inspection on X date” so we do the garden. Then you don’t actually do the exit inspection until 2 weeks later.
The cleaner is the same one I’ve gotten for the last two places we moved out of, and there’s NEVER been any issues with his work before. There’s only so much you can do when the house is in as crappy condition as that one is/was. Certain parts of it were stained and damaged before we ever moved in, and I noted it all on the entry report. The property manager changed during the time we were there though, and I don’t think the new girl really has a concept of what the house actually LOOKED LIKE when we moved in. I think she thinks that the house looks like it does because of something WE did. Which is a load of shit. We’ve been begged to stay on by every other real estate we’ve been with. They have always said “oh we won’t increase the rent, will that keep you?”, or something similar. We are good tenants, we look after our houses, we don’t whinge about every little thing. We only complain when there is an ACTUAL problem (like oh, mice living in the back of the stove).
All this really just means that we won’t be getting the bond back until at least the 19th of December and that we probably won’t get the whole amount back now, and this is a problem – I have 2 bills due on the 15th that I’d bargained on using the bond money for. Which I have NO IDEA how we’re going to afford to pay without that money. And I was going to use the money to get Hubby a decent birthday/christmas present (his bday is only a couple of days after Christmas), but we probably can’t afford that now. I thought we would finally be in a position where I could actually get him something decent, but apparently not. (For the past 3 or 4 years, he’s gotten a couple of CDs or video games, and new jocks/socks/boxers).
I don’t have the money, time, or mental/emotional capacity to actually deal with this at the moment. I think I need to just go back to bed. I have already gone through an entire box of tissues because I just can’t stop crying and… I just can’t. I just CAN’T. We have no chocolate in the house because I’ve been trying to keep our food bill down, so I haven’t been buying anything “extra” that we don’t need.
I wish that this had all happened last week, when I was actually feeling OK. This week has not been good, all the body aches are back again, I’ve been having trouble concentrating, my coordination is FUCKED, I’m having trouble thinking – all the CFS symptoms are coming back. So this on top of everything else is just too much right now. I hadn’t actually told anyone that I’m feeling worse again, because it didn’t seem to matter until now – all I’m needing to do at home is cleaning and unpacking, which I can do at my own pace and take rests when I need to. I’m going to have to tell Hubby, but I feel so bad about the fact that this keeps happening. He’s always so good about it, but for some reason I always feel like he’s comparing me to what “normal” people are able to do and thinking that I’m not really sick, I’m just lazy. I don’t know whether this is me putting what I’m thinking myself onto him, or whether he actually does feel a little bit like that. Either way, I feel so guilty that I can’t measure up to a “normal” person. I don’t know what to do any more.