Sunday, 10 December 2017

Please Help my Friend with his Independence!

I have a close friend called Daryl, who is one of the kindest, most supportive and most generous people I've ever known. He volunteers, does a lot for disability sports and manages a charity that helps get disabled people into sport.

He does all this, whilst living with Marfan Syndrome and Epilepsy. He needs more support than he's getting right now; which is why I am asking for your help. Daryl lives with his brother, and they are both wheelchair users. They have been living in a bungalow which is not suitable for their needs. It is not adapted and what they really need is to be able to move into a bungalow that has been specially adapted. Daryl also needs a specialist wheelchair, so that he is able to move about freely whilst using the strength that he has left.

This, of course, comes at quite a cost, so he has had to set up a fundraiser. His target is £9000 and he has raised £1505 so far. He really needs as many people as possible to donate and share so that he can reach his target as soon as possible. This really is a life-changing amount for him and if you could donate just £5, it would really really help.

I've embedded the link to his fundraiser below. Please donate what you can, and share far and wide! I know he will appreciate this so so much.


(If the above link doesn't work, then please follow the following link to access Daryl's fundraiser: https://www.gofundme.com/funddaryl )

Thank you so much!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

My Favourite Person

This blog post has been inspired by this article on The Mighty.

A Favourite Person (or FP) is someone you absolutely love, to an extreme extent. They really are your favourite person and you place responsibility of your happiness onto them. They can make you feel on top of the world, or in the deepest pit; depending on whether they are paying attention to you or not.

Looking back on past relationships, friendships etc, I can think of one particular person who became my FP. Let's call him M. M and I met while I was studying, and had a close friendship from the off. I was in an abusive relationship at the time, and M was always there for me. I confided in him a lot and the worse my relationship became, the stronger my friendship with M was. We continued talking after university and when single, we'd flirt as well. I always felt so grateful for how much he'd been there for me. We started flirting more, and even started talking about dating. I wasn't sure at first, but then the more we talked, the more attracted to him I became. I started to put him on a pedestal, and relied on him to talk to me constantly, and be there for me constantly. At first, it didn't seem a problem. I felt like I was his favourite person too.

But then he started dating others and I resented that. I really thought he was the best person ever, and that I was the only one he wanted to be with. I fell for him and saw him as The One. If we talked, everything was great, he was the best person ever and I loved him more than anything in the world. If we didn't talk for a day, or didn't talk much, I resented him and at times, I hated him. I felt so hurt and betrayed by him. I got very jealous of women he dated. I resented the closeness they had because I thought it should be me and him. I wasn't a very nice person to be honest.

He did mess with my feelings. I'm not denying that. He made me think we'd have a relationship soon, then next thing I know, he was in a relationship with somebody else. He should've told me. I wouldn't have liked it, but in time I'd accept it. But the way I was with him, the way I placed that responsibility of my happiness on him, wasn't healthy. We'd have big arguments because of it.

I ended our friendship when I found out he'd got engaged, and not bothered to tell me. It would've been nice for him to tell me this big news, especially as we were such close friends, but I think I made a bigger thing out of it than I should've. I saw it as the ultimate betrayal, and ended up blocking him for it.

Nowadays, I worry about getting another Favourite Person. I know I ask for reassurance constantly, and think someone hates me if they don't reply to me or start conversations with me. Whether it be with friendships or romantic/sexual relationships, when I love, I love extremely deeply. I have to be careful of that, and it has affected forming relationships.

Resources

1. What Having a Favourite Person Means to someone with Borderline Personality Disorder: https://themighty.com/2016/10/what-its-like-to-have-a-favorite-person-when-you-live-with-borderline/?utm_source=Mental%20Health&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=BPD%20Newsletter%20#4%20December%205,%202017

Friday, 1 December 2017

Another CMHT Assessment

TRIGGER WARNING: mentions of overdose

To catch up on my experiences with mental health services, please watch my playlist on Youtube.

After another sharp decline in my mental health, and a small overdose, I decided to call the Community Mental Health team (secondary services). It'd been just over 3 months since I'd been discharged back to my GP. I was feeling confused, panicky, lost, and honestly unsafe.

Some things had contributed to my mental ill health; one of them being a PIP reassessment. I knew there was the possibility of having a face to face one, but being given just two days' notice was a real shock. I felt like I wasn't able to properly prepare, and I didn't have time to arrange a recording of my assessment. I vented about this, how I'd felt, and what I'd done, on Twitter, and some close friends persuaded me to contact mental health services.

Doing this wasn't easy. I doubted myself, and wondered if I really was ill enough for their help. I took a deep breath and called though. The person I spoke to was lovely. She said I'd done the right thing and booked me an appointment for an assessment with a CPN (community psychiatric nurse).

The assessment itself was thorough. It wasn't with my old CPN unfortunately, but this one was just as kind. We went through my problems right now, things in the past, things in the present, possible triggers, my meds, what therapy I've had before, whether I'd been with secondary services before etc. She wrote a lot of notes, and I hoped she could do something for me.

Her decision however, was to advise me to try mindfulness at home, and wait for the CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) sessions with the Primary Care team. I did ask about DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy), as I'd been diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) but she said things had changed with the mental health team, and I may not fit the criteria for that type of therapy. I was emotionally and physically exhausted, so I just accepted this, and said goodbye.

I'm not sure how I feel about this assessment. I think I feel listened to, and I guess I wasn't expecting much in the way of help, but last time I was assessed, I felt pretty much the same and was offered some help from secondary services. In all honesty, I feel I've been abandoned since my BPD diagnosis, even though there are therapies suggested for it. Why am I not getting access to these, when they could help me a lot? Is the diagnosis just not enough anymore?

Resources

My Mental Health Vlogs:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kX521jdPAU&list=PLLVKOK6LyfuspXXsZ0xdiKCW_Z6SYjTzO

CPN definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_psychiatric_nurse

CBT definition: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-cbt/

DBT definition: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/dialectical-behaviour-therapy-dbt/#.WiGLcUq6-M8

BPD definition: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/borderline-personality-disorder-bpd/#.WiGLtkq6-M8







Monday, 16 October 2017

Going Abroad with Chronic Physical and Mental Illnesses

Last month, I went on holiday to Gran Canaria, with my parents. As a person with multiple mental health, physical health, and mobility problems, the thought of travelling abroad can be quite daunting and nerve wracking. Will I remember everything I need to pack? How would I be able to get across a large airport, when I can't walk far at the best of times? How will I keep myself calm? Will there be toilets available nearby? How can I plan my holiday to make sure I'm not overdoing it every day? These were just a few worries that I had. Below, I explain how I eased or solved these problems.

Packing:

About a week before I was set to go, I made lists of things to pack. I wanted to ensure I would be able to keep as cool and comfortable as possible.

  • I picked clothes that could mostly be slipped on, with no fiddly fastenings to deal with.
  • I made sure I packed extra medication (including extra pain medication) so that I definitely had enough for the holiday.
  • To keep myself cool (as well as for easily removing makeup!), I packed a full pack of face wipes. 
  • I packed travel size bottles of shampoo, shower gel, moisturiser etc. These are useful for keeping the luggage weight below the allowance, but also are easier on achy arms. There will be days where washing/showering is a struggle, so light products are helpful.
  • Dry shampoo! I usually try to shower every other day, but sometimes I have to miss a few days, so dry shampoo is absolutely wonderful for ensuring my hair stays relatively fresh and clean.

At the Airport:

There are various things to consider, when at the airport, especially when you are chronically ill (physically or mentally). 
  • It is important to book special assistance at least 48 hours before you are due to travel. 
  • As soon as you arrive at the airport, find OCS for special assistance. They can help with getting across the airport and through security, as well as boarding the plane and even getting you to your seat (using an aisle wheelchair) if needs be. You can use your own wheelchair, if you have one, or one will be provided for you. There may also be mobility scooters available if you'd prefer to use those. I flew from Birmingham airport and found OCS opposite the Spar shop in departures. Make sure you have your passport and boarding ticket to hand, to show when asked. 
  • This link will give you more information about special assistance at Birmingham Airport specifically. For any other airports, there should be information about disabled facilities and special assistance on their website.

On the Plane:

  • Ask for assistance, if you need help with putting your hand luggage in the overhead locker. Airline staff are there to help!
  • I find it's helpful to have anything you need for the flight to hand (maybe in a handbag if it fits) so that you won't need to get to the overhead locker and search for your bag amongst the others.

Arriving at your destination's airport:

  • It's likely that passengers will need to alight the plane via the stairs (unless you're lucky and a tunnel is ready!) An ambilift will be available, however, for passengers needing special assistance.
  • You will need to wait until everyone (not needing special assistance) has left the plane, before assistance and the ambilift will be available. This may take a little while, so it's best to remain seated until you see special assistance staff.
  • If you have checked in your own wheelchair, it may be the case that it will arrive on a different carousel to your suitcase/s. At Las Palma Airport, the wheelchair arrived on the last carousel to the right. We weren't made aware of this beforehand, so had a bit of a panic before a member of staff advised us!

Transfers from the airport to your destination.

  • Coaches can be a nightmare to get onto; with large steps and rarely any toilets. The amount of stops they make can increase the journey time by a lot as well. I would suggest booking a taxi. It pretty much halves the journey time!

At your destination

  • I know it's tempting to plan to do a lot on holiday (especially if there's lots to do/explore!) but consider what makes you flare up. As you would at home (when having plans for days/nights out), rest up as much as you can, before doing anything potentially flare-inducing. Most hotels have areas near reception where you can relax, so keep that in mind if the cleaner needs to access your room. 
Are there any other tips you would give for fellow spoonies? Comment below!


Resources

https://www.birminghamairport.co.uk/at-the-airport/terminal-facilities/special-assistance/

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

A Review of Resonant Botanicals Qi of Calm Lotion (Sponsored Blog Post)

Disclaimer: I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

I suffer from multiple anxiety disorders (including Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder) and find that I often need something to calm my nerves quite quickly. I get the most anxiety when in busy situations particularly. In the past, I've used Diazepam, which has been effective for anxiety, panic, and sleep, but I can only get this on prescription when close to/in crisis. This leaves me without adequate treatment when panicking or suffering insomnia due to anxiety. I did want to try something more natural, just to see if it would help. To be honest, I take enough medication and would rather not take any more! I was given the opportunity to try out and review Resonant Botanicals Qi of Calm Lotion, and decided to give it a go.


Resonant Botanicals Qi of Calm is a lotion, combining herbs, essential oils and green tea, in order to help with anxiety and sleep. The combination of herbs, including lavender, skullcap, and ashwaganda, works to protect against stress and maintain an emotional balance. Essential oils, including Frankincense, Chamomile, and Bergamot, help with relaxation. Finally, green tea contains an amino acid that is also said to promote relaxation.


How to use: The lotion works by being applied to certain areas of the body which are said to be associated with balancing emotions and promoting a sense of calm. Rub in a small amount of the lotion on the left side of the abdomen, (just below the ribs), on the neck below the chin, and the bottoms of your feet. 


The Bottle


Qi of Calm Lotion comes in a fairly large silver bottle, with a pump dispenser. Directions for use are clearly displayed on the left side, and ingredients on the right side. The lotion is very easily dispensed, and one dispensed amount is more than enough to apply to all of the points recommended.


The Scent


The lotion has quite a herbal scent; which is quite pleasant. I find the scent itself quite calming, and believe this is probably partly how the product works. Personally, I feel the scent lasts a bit longer than I would've liked, but this is purely subjective. 


The Feel


The texture is soft; with not too thick or thin creamy substance. The lotion spreads very well, so only a small amount is needed. One bottle should last you a while. 


Is it Effective?


I've not noticed a significant improvement in my sleep, but I do find this product has an immediate calming effect. I think it is best to use it shortly before bedtime or any other time you need to feel calm quickly. 


Give it a try!


If you are interested in trying Qi of Calm Lotion, then you can find the product page here . I do recommend giving it a try, it is definitely becoming part of my daily regime!



Resources:


Chronic Illness Bloggers network: http://chronicillnessbloggers.us12.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=f454aec32953c83c5884455f5&id=cb55a11487&e=0c4f860658


Resonant Botanicals Qi of Calm product page: http://resonantbotanicals.com/product/qi-of-calm-for-anxiety-relief/


Resonant Botanicals website:  http://resonantbotanicals.com/


Thursday, 7 September 2017

How it Feels to be Numb

I'm having a numb day today. I have these a lot. If I've recently had days with intense mood swings, this can be a relief, but other times, it makes me feel as if I'm broken.

It can be hard to tell if I'm thinking or feeling these things, but when I'm numb, it's like I'm not even human. I'm just some thing that exists with no real purpose. Sometimes self hatred will creep in and I'll become very depressed, but mostly, I don't feel anything.

I want to be "normal" and act like a human being. I want to know what kind of person I am. I want to know what my personality is, and why I should even exist. I want to interact like a "normal" person, but it's as if I've forgotten how. I feel like/think I am an imposter who has to perform reactions and guess how I should respond to things such as someone talking to me. I feel as if I'm doing everything wrong though, and others will notice, and think I'm either weird or rude.

Most of the time, when I feel numb, I dissociate too. Nothing feels real, and I struggle to "ground" myself. I try to focus on things I can see, smell, touch etc but it can be very difficult to convince myself that these things mean that I am real, and I am here.

Eventually, I will come out of this numb feeling and hopefully not straight back into intense mood swings. At the time though, it's as if I will never come out of it.

Do you experience numbness? How does it feel to you?

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Good Day vs Bad Day

 Good day

The above picture is how I usually look on a good day.

On a good day, I'll wake up in the morning; feeling like I can get through the day. My fatigue is bad, but not unbearable. It will take me about 15 mins to get out of bed and, once the dizziness is gone, I can go to the bathroom and brush my teeth. I will rest after this, and have a wash or shower once my pain meds have kicked in. The pain medication does not completely rid me of pain, but it makes me much more functional than I would be without it. 

I will need to rest, before getting my breakfast, and rest again, before drying my hair. After this, dressing, and makeup, I will have just enough energy to leave the house. On a really good day, which is rare, I will meet a friend for lunch. Anxiety means that I will need to be picked up by them, or given a lift by my dad, but the main thing is that socialising at all is possible. 

Once I'm home, I will rest for the duration of the day; having a few hours nap in the late afternoon if I'm able to sleep. Tea will be something easy to prepare/cook, or it might be a takeaway.


Bad day

The above picture is usually how I look on a bad day

My bad days tend to be very bad. I'm in a lot more pain, pain meds won't touch it (even though I will need to take more than on a good day). I'm dizzy, headache-y, shaky, nauseous, and absolutely exhausted. I will get up in the morning (my cat, Billie, demands it!) but it will take me at least double the time as a good day. I will struggle to stay awake through because of fatigue, but I will struggle to sleep, because of pain and nausea. I won't have the energy to shower or wash. I will make it to the living room for a coffee, brush my teeth after a rest, and "wash" myself with face wipes after another rest. Breakfast will be anything I can grab; such as an apple. It'll have to be something light. 

I will struggle to brush my hair, and I will find the comfiest, loose clothing I can find. The Fibromyalgia makes my skin very sore (as if I'm burnt and bruised all over), so I have to think about the tightness and the material in the clothes I wear. I will take my laptop into the living room, and try to concentrate on a programme, casual game or video clips. My mood will be low, because I'm not able to do much at all. I will feel fed up and I'll be likely to isolate myself from others. 

I will stay sat up for as long as I can, and then will go back to bed until teatime. I may be able to nap, but I'm very unlikely to feel much better for it.

Tea will be a takeaway, and my dad will have to wash up, as standing for more than a few minutes will make me so dizzy, I'm very likely to fall. 

-------------------------------------------------------

Most of the time, my days are something between good and bad. I'm able to manage basic things, such as personal hygiene and preparing simple meals, but things like housework, socialising etc are extremely difficult or impossible. I manage my symptoms by balancing rest with trying to keep moving and doing my physio. I do this to lessen the chances of my joints seizing up, and also for general health. 

How do you manage the symptoms of your chronic illness/es? Do you have any hints and tips, that you  would like to share? Comment below!