Walk in Water

A big part of having fibromyalgia is self care and self management. One thing I do to try and manage my symptoms is go walking through the swimming pool.

I had a limp when I walked for months. Somebody suggested to me that I should go swimming as it’s good for the joints. The problem is, I cannot swim. It’s something I always wanted to do but I have never been able to accomplish (it’s a work in progress). When I was younger I was nearly swimming but I got pulled under the water as a joke and I’ve pretty much had a fear about being in the pool since. It was then suggested to me that I should go to the pool but just go walking through it.

Now, due to the aforementioned fear, even the very thought of going to the swimming pool induced a lot of anxiety. One day I decided to go down and I walked through the pool. My biggest surprise that day was that I survived it. I could not walk very long through the pool. The fatigue hit me fast but I could get myself to the pool and out again without drowning! Since that day, I have continued going to the swimming pool at least once a week.

The water in the pool takes stress off of joints and makes it easier to walk. As well as this, the water also provides some resistance which helps make your muscles work. Water exercises are classed as low impact exercise. The movements you do in the pool does not have the same impact on the body as there would be doing it on land.

Some benefits of walking through the water include:

  • Muscle strength being improved.
  • Improved posture and balance
  • Greater movement and flexibility of joints
  • Improving general fitness levels
  • Eases stiff joints and sore muscles
  • Enhanced sense of wellbeing, better moods and hopefully better sleep.
  • Reduced pain and tiredness.

My progress is slow, very slow, but I am working on it. Like I have already mentioned, I believe it is walking through the pool that has improved my walking, however slight it may be. I have also been very lucky that I have had friends accompany me and walk through the pool with me, being my own personal cheerleaders and motivators. I still have a lot of anxiety regarding going to the pool but I am trying my best and that is all somebody can really do.

Walking through the pool is just one of the many things I have tried to self manage my fibromyalgia symptoms, just one of the activities that I am attempting in my journey of feeling through life.

Advertisements

“What are your hobbies? What do you enjoy doing?”

“What are your hobbies? What do you enjoy to do?” These are questions that I have been asked a lot recently. Usually by a medical professional, scribbling down some notes or filling in some sort of medical assessment. I find it a really difficult question to answer. The answer is I don’t know. I really don’t remember. From experience, I can tell you people tend to look at you strangely if you give this answer, to what they deem simple questions.

For years now I have felt like I don’t know myself anymore. Truthfully, I don’t know if I have ever properly known myself. I guess as a twenty-something year old, it is now that I begin to know myself better. There are things that I used to like doing. There are things that I used to do. I just don’t really remember, or know, what they are. It is not just my diagnosis that has made me forget what I like doing, or hobbies. I don’t remember having hobbies for a long time now. I had exams at school then I went straight to university. While I attended university I worked. After I graduated I worked extra hours, or cared for my nana or had some appointment trying to find out my diagnosis. Then when I got injured, I found myself in so much pain, and so much less mobility I now cannot do activities and tasks at all.

I am now faced with a lot of spare time, as I am currently unfit for work. I don’t know what to do with my time. The most difficult version I was asked these questions, was when I was trying to set goals with the pain management physiotherapist. This was more difficult as the questions had an extra element to them. The physio wanted to know what I liked to do that we can set goals to build up to. I do not know what I want to build up to. I don’t know what I liked to do, I did not really have ‘me time’ to do things. Now I have too much time and I don’t know what I like doing, as well as not knowing what my body will do without screaming at me.

One thing I do know I like is spending time with friends! So this weekend, Hazel and I went to Comic Con. To be able to go, I made sure I had painkillers with me and I wore heat pads to try and dull down some of the pain. I have never attended Comic Con before. I have a bit of a fear of people dressed up. Well, if I can see the person’s face I am OK…. Unless that face is painted as a clown! Then I am ALWAYS afraid! I had a lot of worries when Hazel asked me if I wanted to go with her. However, I had a great time. There was so much things to see, that I didn’t know what to look at first.

Now, I am not saying that going to Comic Con is a ‘hobby’ I have. I did enjoy myself that day though, and it is something that I would attend again! Trying new things can be a great time. Exploring new activities means that you might find something you enjoy doing, or find new hobbies. Even if you know how you like to spend your time, finding new activities contribute to your growth and development.

Right now, I am telling myself that it is ok that I do not know what I like to do. It means that I can, hopefully, have fun as I explore options and find out, while getting to know myself. I am still fairly young, it is ok not to know myself completely. Everybody is just trying to feel their way through life anyway – I am no different.

Filtered and Unfiltered Lives

This week I’ve been thinking about how people portray themselves to other people a lot. My thought process then going onto social media and how you can get a glimpse of a person’s life through it.

As a person with a condition that is largely invisible, I find it difficult to know how to act in situations. For example, do I ‘pretend that I am not is pain’ and then end up suffering for it later on or do I take things slow or do things in such a way that may be better for my pain and potentially be a ‘burden’ on my family, friends, colleagues, anybody really? It is made especially difficult with expectations of society’s. People look at me and see a young girl, so I must be fit and healthy. By looking at me, you wouldn’t necessarily think, at times, that there’s anything ‘wrong’ with me.

Through media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, this generation seems to be the ‘selfie’ generation. Like most people my age, my phone is full of selfies, most of which I do not post online. Another factor of selfies, or any picture posted, is that they are edited and so many filters are added to them. I think this can be such a good tool, but I also feel it can be damaging. I like to play with editing tools and filters as much as the next person. They are great! You can take a picture and make it black and white, make it look bright, make it look vintage – so many different options. I am all for the creativity that this can induce. You are taking something, and making it ‘better’. This is also encouraging self expression which is so important. Lines begin to be crossed however with the selfie. People can take this picture of themselves and through this medium of ‘self expression’ actually produce an edit of themselves that is the furthest thing from who they really are.

The thing with a selfie or photograph is they are mainly ‘staged’. I take pictures of everything. I take selfies to remember things, to make things a memory, because it is nice, to keep record of my symptoms, to keep record of my journey… everything. I like nothing better than an ‘action shot’, I feel it is more true to life. When picking what photograph to post online, you are choosing a part of your life that you want to show your friend list. This can be something that is true to your life, or can be constructed in such a way to make people think it is your life, or in a way you wish your life to be. All these options are fine. However, I think it is important to remember that everything you see, especially on social media, is not necessarily exactly what the situation is. Here is a picture of me, looking fairly good if I do say so myself.

 This is a picture that I would probably post online. I think it looks good. The thing is it is completely fake. I found an app that added filters to photos to try makeup styles and I was playing around with the different options. Then on top of that there is another filter. It has produced this nice photo though. This is the type of photo that it is ‘acceptable’ to post online. Looking at this photo, it looks like I have made an effort, it looks like I have a full face on and I am ready to face the day. Perhaps I could be going out to do something nice. The reality was so much different! Here is what was actually going on at the time.

 I was in a lot of pain. I could not move from my bed. I was so sore and frustrated with myself, and with my body, that I had cried. My hair hadn’t been washed in an unmentionable amount of time. The only thing different between the two photographs, other than the filters, was I managed to change position so that I could take a photo that I could use to play on the app with. This was a way for me to distract myself from the pain etc. The first picture would be a choice in what I want people to see. So this got me thinking why? Why is it more acceptable for me to post picture 1? It’s not true to the situation that I was in. It looks nothing like how I was actually looking at that moment in time. Social media, and how you make yourself up in the day, can be so deceiving. I have an invisible illness and here I am making it even more invisible. It is as though I am hiding it. Why? Surely on sites that is for self expression which, in my opinion, is exactly what sites like instagram is for, i should be able to post true pictures. I have fibromyalgia, it is part of me and is shaping/has shaped who I am. Why can I not post a picture showing my true situation?


I am not suddenly “cured” because I’ve posted a picture with makeup on, whether that is using a filter or not. Maybe I am trying to make myself feel better. Maybe I am trying to make an effort for my own self esteem and confidence. Maybe I am pushing myself a little to go through my day in a way that I would like that is not fully dictated my my body or my emotions. The amount of times I have heard, “but you don’t look ill” or  “you can’t tell there is anything wrong with you”. I feel like replying that’s good because “that’s the look I’m going for”. Likewise, not every day is going to be a day I can’t move from my bed. However, I just feel that it shouldn’t be an issue if I choose that as a photo to share. Whether it is my own head making that issue or not. It encourages stigma and discrimination


On the whole I can be quite open about my conditions and my struggles. Even through the pictures I post. However I am guilty for being more likely to post a photo that has a filter or posed in some way. Part of the reason I wanted to start blogging was to write about my experiences, my thoughts and my feelings to try and make sense of them myself,or to (hopefully) help another person in knowing that they are not a lone there are other people out there with similar struggles, or fighting their own demons. As a result, I think I have to be open about my own life, especially here… Otherwise, what is the point? I want my blog to be a  safe space to tell my story, and for others to share theirs if they choose to. I am just feeling my way through life, the same as everybody else. I do not want to be judged on how I am or how I look in photographs. Personally, I think it’s important to share more of the unfiltered life, especially when it comes to invisible illnesses and mental health awareness. It can help start a conversation, spread awareness and help with issues of discrimination and stigma. However, it is OK to post pictures with filters over them, it is OK to edit those selfies. Likewise, it is OK to keep that photo unedited and unfiltered. If it’s a selfie, it’s going to look good either way, because it is going to have your beautiful self in it. Just remember to be kind. People are, or are not, editing and filtering their photos for a reason. Be happy that a person is showing you part of who they are and their life, or how they want their life to be and be seen. You might only be getting a small glimpse, but somebody has specifically chosen that moment, to share. 

Ambivist and We Band of Others Behind The Scene Photo Shoot and Band Practice

So I’ve been wanting to write about both We Band of Others and Ambivist for some time… Then something exciting happened and I got invited to a local recording studio where the Ambivist guys played and modelled We Band of Others clothing. It was a great day!

 

We Band of Others

We Band of Others is an independent clothing brand that is based in Glasgow. They get inspiration for their designs from music. They have “..created this brand for the “Oddballs of Society”, for anyone who feels like they don’t fit in or feel cast out from society for not following the norms and daring to be different.” They strive to empower people to be themselves, embrace their differences, believe in themselves and reach for their dreams.

I cannot stress enough how important something like this is! People are ‘cast out’ of society for the slightest difference all the time. Bullying occurs in schools as people’s differences are pointed out. Labels are often given to people for being different – geek, freak, weirdo and there are loads more. In a world full of peer pressure and ‘following’ people, somehow standing out has became a bad thing. Empowering people, saying it is ok to be yourself, saying that you matter – these are all important values. Monday is ‘Motivation Monday.’ Who doesn’t need a bit of motivation, especially on a Monday? On top of that, they are reminding people that they are not alone and have created a wee community. Scrolling through their instagram feed you come across many pictures of people showing off their purchases, saying why it’s important to them, saying “yes I am an Oddball of Society, and I am proud to be one!” In fact, if you scroll through their instagram you come across the picture above of me doing just that!

When I went onto the We Band of Others’ website I fell in love with their tee shirts, and I could not decide which one to buy, so I purchased two. I wear these tees a lot! They are soft and so comfortable. I mean, a comfy tee with an inspiring or empowering message, can you go wrong wearing that? I think not! Also, you get free badges and stickers with every order! How fun is that? Plus, they’re free. Everybody loves a wee freebie! Details on how to check out this amazing brand are below! You never know, you could make a purchase and take your own selfie standing proud to be an Oddball of Society and be featured on their site.

Website: https://www.webandofothers.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/webandofothers/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/webandofothers/

Ambivist

Ambivist are a progressive rock band from the Ayrshire in Scotland. The band consists of four band members – Sean (guitarist/vocalist), Michael (drums), Paul (bass) and Ross (guitarist).

I managed to get myself to a gig one night that I knew Ambivist were playing despite being in a lot of pain, and boy was I glad I managed to catch them! Unfortunately I was not able to stay the whole gig that night but I saw the whole Ambivist set. They were brilliant! The four guys sync to produce the most wonderful sound. Sean, has a great voice. It has a really nice tone, which is quite deep and has a touch of that fantastic quality that I like to call a ‘gravelly voice’. On top of that he produces sounds that are smooth, and can evoke emotions. I felt their performance! The music, the lyrics, their performance just spoke to me. It made me feel, a lot. It made a girl who had been crying about the amount of pain she was in and was finding moving at all very difficult forget the pain for a short while and just feel the power of the music. That kind of experience is priceless.

I have included the social media details of this amazing band below so that you can check them out!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ambivist/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ambivistband/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ambivistband

 

The Photo Shoot and Band Practice

So as I said at the start, something very exciting happened, I was invited to shadow the team at We Band of Others and attended a band practice of Ambivist, turn photography shoot. The whole experience was great!

We Band of Others attended a gig in their local area that Ambivist were performing at. We Band of Others enjoyed the band and their performance and took to their Instagram account and shared a picture of the band performing. This started a dialogue between the musicians and the clothing brand.

Speaking to the photographer, I found out that the vision behind the shoot was to have the band model the tees, including their new summer merchandise which included a snap back hat, while the guys performed/practice. The photographer explained that she felt that if she asked the band members to pose with their instruments then the pictures would develop looking forced. The very essence of We Band of Others is for people to embrace their differences and their quirks and believe in themselves and just to be yourself. The idea was that if the band were just doing their thing, doing what they love, just being themselves then the pictures would look natural.

We all met at a local recording studio and I got to meet all the band members. After some chat everybody went to set up. The photographer set up her camera and the band set up the equipment, plugging everything in and doing sound checks. I also got a pedal board explained to me. I am not going to even pretend I know what each setting did but Sean explained some of the pedals to us. Listening to him talk and do wee demonstrations to show what he meant was fascinating. I have always loved music. I have even performed music, many times when I was younger. I have never before had an insight to a pedal board and what each pedal did. This has given me a new appreciation for musicians. They get up on that stage, in front of however many people, they have those burning lights on them, they might even have effects such as dry ice about, they have lots of wires surrounding them and still manage to perform. Even while having songs needing certain switches set to on or off. It is just astounding.

Another insight I got to see was the photographer setting up her camera. Again, like the pedal board I am not going to even attempt knowing anything that she was doing. My photography skills go as far as turning the camera on, trying to get my body to hold still, press the capture button and hope for the best. Never have I changed brightness levels and focuses and all sorts of different settings. It was interesting to see and it is a skill that I wish I possessed, however it is not my forte.

I was made to feel very welcome in that room, I felt like I was just one of the gang. The band and the clothing brand team gave me permission to take photos too, which was exciting. It was so cool seeing the band all wearing We Band of Others tees and have buttons and stickers on their guitars, guitar straps and even on the drummer’s cymbal!

The band asked the photographer what she would like them to do, she told them that they could play and she would take pictures through it. This was such a funny moment, that will stick with me for a long time. The photographer said “play whatever you want” and the Ross started playing Mary Had A Little Lamb. After that everything went really smoothly. The band did their job and the photographer did hers. What was really great, was you could tell that each person in that room loved doing what they were doing. The band were having a “jam session” and rehearsed songs, parts of songs or just had a bit of fun. This was a great experience, it was an intimate insight to a rehearsal. I ended up treating it a bit like a private performance though.The photographer snapped all of this. She had sent me a few photos as a sneak peaks and they look great. I have no doubt that the rest of the pictures will look just as great. Some pictures are now live and featured on the We Band of Others website.

In all of the goodness, of course I had my struggles. I was meeting people I didn’t really know which is something that causes my anxiety to rise. The flashing of the camera and the loudness of the playing through the amps and microphones, and the drum set did send me into a sort of sensory overload daze for a bit. Symptoms of Fibromyalgia and anxiety can be triggered or made worse by situations and the environment that you are in. That being said, I really enjoyed the experience and for some amount of time, I was able to stay in control of my body. I was able to feel the buzz of being honoured in being present at a band practice and wee photo shoot. I have so much admiration and respect for everybody who was in that room and they were all super talented individuals.

 

All photos included were taken by myself and as I said, it’s not my forte, I just love taking pictures. This sure was an awesome experience and I would like to thank We Band of Others, and the guys of Ambivist for inviting me to come along!