Time To Talk

It has been a while since I have posted. I have been struggling over the last few weeks. Although today (a Thursday) is not the usual day I post (a Sunday) I felt it would be a good day to upload something as it is Time to talk day. Time to talk day is part of the time to change initiative aiming to end stigma that surrounds mental health.

Talking about mental health is important. Starting a conversation with a person can have a huge impact. Starting a conversation with a person can be a step towards spreading awareness or ending stigma. More importantly, it benefits the person you are listening to. There is some truth in the old saying, “a problem shared is a problem halved.” Starting a conversation can change a person’s whole world. That might sound like an exaggeration, but the smallest thing can make the biggest changes. Talking to a person about mental health can remind them that they are not alone, it can give them a new perspective, it could potentially give them reasons to live.

I used to hold in my feelings, bottle them up. I didn’t like talking to people about my ‘problems’. I have people in my family that encourage not telling people personal business. I’m sure the saying is something like, “you don’t want to air dirty underwear”, that has been passed around. Not only that, but the advice tends to be “just get on with it.”

 

I have learned that bottling up my feelings is not good for me. Pressure builds and as an outcome, I break. I think this is why I am fairly open about what is going on in my life now.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot that has happened in my life that is too painful to talk about at times. There are things that I do not want to talk about or don’t feel ready to talk about. All that being said, mental health is a thing that I fully believe should be spoken about. I know it’s hard. I know it’s hard to open up. I know the physical pain that can be felt from talking about things that you’ve pushed down deep. I know the confusion of trying to put feelings into words. I know the shame that can be felt from thoughts you have, reactions you have or the physical signs of what is going on.

However, I know I have people in my life who I can talk to. I know the people I can contact and talk to about anything, with no judgement only love and support. They might not fully understand what I am going through or what I am feeling, but they remind me I am not alone. They remind me of the good in the world and they provide me with hope. Hope that things can change. Hope that this feeling is not going to last forever. Hope for the future.

Find more information about the time to change campaign at https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

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No New Year New Me

It’s the start of January 2018. January is a month that people tend to start things – diets, plans, projects. A lot of the time its “New Year, New Me” that you hear being called out, everywhere.


Now I’m not saying I’m perfect, or don’t need to make changes in my life or lifestyle. That is the furthest thing from the truth. I just don’t buy into the “New Year New Me” ideology.


I understand it’s a new year. I understand that there’s already a mark of something new. I understand that the year ending and a new one beginning tends to make people reflect upon themselves, their year and their life. I just don’t think that the ‘old’ you disappears and you become this ‘new’ self. I think that you learn something new, try something new or make a change and then work through the potential challenges. I also think these changes become part of you rather than a full makeover.


The usual kind of resolutions are:

  • Go to the gym more/ Do more exercise

  • Eat less sugar/fatty food

  • Procrastinate less

  • Find a partner

  • To have our life sorted out

This is only a very small example of the usual kind of resolutions that people make. By the end of January new year resolutions have usually ‘failed’ or been forgotten about, usually until the year is ending and they are recycled again for the following year. It’s stressful.


I’ve said before that I am sure that everybody is just trying to feel their way through life and I still stand by that. I think these changes can be made at any time and not just new year and these changes and experience become part of you or play a part in making you who you are, and not magically turn you into a new person. I think that these changes are part of your growth and self development as a person. That being said I understand why, to a degree, that the phrase “New Year, New Me” is used. If people don’t like something about themselves or want to change something about themselves then they want it to disappear or instantly become different.


If I had to have a new year’s resolution, I guess it this:

I would like to continue on my journey of self development and growth. I would like to have a year full of love and laughter with my nearest and dearest and maintain my current relationships. I want to keep trying. I want to keep trying to see the good and positive aspects in situations, in people and in life.


The idea of completely changing myself is appealing in some ways but realistically I know that it’s not going to happen. All I can do is keep on. Keep on trying and keep on feeling my way through life.


*picture credit: I found the image on Google

Happy New Year 

The new year is fast approaching. It’s in 6 hours time in the UK at my time of typing this. I got a card from my best friend with a wee message in it and it is also my wish for all of you!

“I hope you have a 2018 that is filled with love, laughter, progress, happiness and good things!”

I hope the year ahead brings joy for you all and your loved ones. I hope you find progress in everything, whether that be health, savings, relationship problems, uni, college, school, work, that project you started. I hope that progress is made. I hope the year is full of rich experienced that will become memories that bring you joy forever. I wish you happiness, I wish you the ability to find the good in things and spread that happiness about. I hope you have a million reasons to smile. Wherever you are, however you are bringing in the new year, I wish you all the best for 2018.

Christmas Eve 2017

Today is Christmas Eve!

Christmas can be the ‘most wonderful time of the year.’ On the other hand, it can be a very difficult time for people. It is a time when loved ones are remembered, and their absence are most felt. It can be stressful trying to organise everything – get in or book a place for Christmas dinner, buying in gifts, wrapping the gifts, sending out the Christmas cards. People worry about their finances, can they afford buying presents, when will they have the money to go shopping? Some people put themselves into debt with trying to buy gifts for Christmas. It can be difficult. Dealing with a chronic condition on top of all these other stresses can be difficult. These extra stressors put extra strain on a person and can cause flare ups or make management of symptoms more difficult, which is not ideal. 

Sometimes, I think the meaning of Christmas has been lost. The Christmas spirit is a magical thing! It’s about spreading love, and cheer. It’s about helping people. It’s about seeing children’s faces light up at the magic of the season. It’s about family and friendship, and spending time with those loved ones. It is not about the material objects and the waste that can occur. It’s about the good deeds – making hampers for homeless people, visiting elderly people so they are not lonely, making an effort to help people, simply saying ‘hi’ to people, wishing them well.

The magic, and meaning of Christmas, can be brought about by being nice. Just try to be a decent human being. Treat people with respect. Help people, even if it is just to lend an ear and give them an opportunity to have somebody to talk to. Try not to make fast judgements of people and their situations. Just be nice! I really think it could be as easy as that. When I was in school, at assembly the head teacher would always say “treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.” It has been something that has always stuck with me and I have tried to live my life by. Yes, there are times I fail but I am human, and I’m just trying to feel my way through life.

I hope that everybody has a lovely Christmas time and gets to experience that magical, feeling. I hope everybody feels love, happiness and value. 

The Force Is With Us…

On Thursday I went to the cinema to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi with two of my closest friends. It was such a lovely night, I had not seen my friends in a wee while so it was good spending some quality time together, having dinner, having a catch-up and going to the cinema to see the new Star Wars movie! * I do not think I am going to give any spoilers away but there could potentially be some ahead.* What I can say about it, is that the three of us enjoyed it, a lot! It had us talking about it long after the film had ended. It also had me thinking about it for quite a while.

While watching it, I could feel myself relating to feelings and events portrayed in the film. I found myself thinking a lot about some of the messages from the film, and they are important. Surprisingly, I felt I could relate to some of the messages as a person who has a chronic condition.

First, there is The Force. I like the idea that the force is an energy that keeps the balance. In my head, probably wrongly, I relate it a lot to “The Circle of Life” from the Lion King. I tend to think of it as a bit of a moral compass of sorts. The force has two divisions – The Light and The Dark Side. I think of these with how we interact with others and the world around us. The light and dark side are basically like “Good” (light) and “Bad” (dark side). There are characters throughout the Star Wars Saga that are portrayed as having “conflict” going on in them. The character has light and dark seen in them. I think that this is true to life. Everybody has good and bad in them, it is the choices that we make, the interactions that we have which effectively put us into the “good” and “bad” categories. Everybody has temptations. Every Star Wars movie has times that it looks like even the characters that are so dark and evil can have moments of redemption. Likewise, the characters that are good can make mistakes and do wrong.

One lesson in this movie that particularly spoke to me was that it is ok to fail. You may make a mistake or things may not go as you would like it to, but that is ok. Failure is part of your journey through life. That failure is a lesson and it is what is learned from it that is important. Plus it is how you are going to become wise!

As a person that struggles with anxiety there was a line that resonated, “There’s a thing inside me that has always been there but now it’s awake and I need help.” I think this quote could resonate with anybody struggling with mental health or chronic health condition. Sometimes it is not clear what is going on, but you know there is something. It is that feeling that you know something is wrong but you just cannot put your finger on what it is. For a while, before I got my diagnosis of fibromyalgia I knew that something was not right, but it took a long time to get that diagnosis. With a long time of people doubting that there was anything wrong at all. The important part is “…and I need help.” It can be hard to ask for help when you are struggling with a health condition, particularly if it is related to your mental health due to the stigma that is still attached, even today, to mental health conditions. Everybody needs help sometimes, and it is ok to ask for it. Asking for help shows strength and courage. Recognising that you need help is a strength. Furthermore, there is a moment in the film where the phrase “Just breathe” is used. The phrase works well in the film, it is a reminder to stay grounded in the moment. Take a moment to breathe and to see and feel what is going on around you.

Another line that I could relate to is when Rey says, “I need someone to show me my place in all this.” (Not a spoiler in any way as it is in the official trailer). Anybody can be lost at any point in their lives. These days I tend to speak about life as a journey. It would be great if somebody could just sit us down and tell us exactly what is going to happen, who we are going to be and what to expect from life. But it doesn’t work that way! You need to go through things. You need to make the mistakes, meet the different people, try different things! You need to find what works for you and what doesn’t. It is all part of your own personal development and growth and there is, unfortunately, no shortcut for that. Ironically, there are times when you are the most lost and feel you need the most help and it is actually you who teach the best lesson, who shows other people the way, help them learn something about themselves.

Love and friendship are themes that run throughout the galaxy of star wars. It seemed to be much stronger in this film. It is not the quantity of friends that you have, it is the quality. Love and friendship are so important in life. Treat people with respect, help other people, make sacrifices for love. Let people know that you need them, that you love them. Love and friendship are what gets us through the hard times, the dark times. Love and friendship are what saves people.

Lest We Forget

Today is Remembrance Sunday.

Remembrance Sunday is a day to come together and offers an opportunity to reflect and show respect for the sacrifices made by the armed forces in past, and current, conflicts. Especially those who lost their lives.

In recent times there has been ‘controversy’ about wearing a poppy. I don’t understand this, personally. The significance of the poppy is like feminism – has lost its meaning somewhere along the line. People argue that the poppy is now a political symbol. It is used to glorify war, a symbol to support war. That is not the case. The poppy is associated with remembrance as it is a flower that grows naturally in conditions where the earth has been disturbed, which is the case for war and battles. It is said that poppies grew in fields after the Napoleonic wars, and then again was the only flower to grow in otherwise barren fields after the First World War. The poppy appeal was started by the Royal British Legion to raise funds for veterans and their families after the effects of war. I believe the poppy is a symbol, not only of remembrance but of hope! Hope for those veterans, and those serving in the armed forces, that aid and services will be available to them and their families. The Poppy is traditionally worn on the left-hand side of a jacket as it is meant to represent those that we are remembering are close to our hearts.

“Dulce et decorum est” by Wilfred Owen paints a horrendous picture of what life was like for a soldier during World War One. I think poems such as this one, is particularly powerful since it shows just how different this war was to others before it. You can see the atrocities that these men, many of them just young boys, faced. The poem end,

“My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori.”

The Latin “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” translates to “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”

This weekend I have been listening to “Greater love hath no man” by John Ireland. When I was younger I used to sing in a church choir. ‘Greater love hath no man’ was sung at Remembrance Sunday Evensong. It has always stuck with me. I remember singing it fighting back the tears in the cloisters during the service. I don’t know if it’s the words or the music that touches me so much, but I think it is a beautiful piece of music. “Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friend.” This is exactly what every armed forces member is effectively doing. They are ‘fighting for their country’, they are fighting to ‘benefit’ those back at home – their families and friends. If you have never heard it, I recommend looking it up and having a listen.

The effects of the two World Wars and other conflicts have impacted people in countries all over the world. My great papa Peter was in the merchant navy and later a royal marine. He used to tell us a lot about the time, that he was 14/15 and was nearly arrested during the Spanish civil war in 1936. He was also one of the crews stationed on the HMS Belfast during the Battle of North Cape. My nan and my great Auntie have stories about experiences through the blitz. I cannot even begin to imagine the horrors that people have witnessed. Remembrance day and remembrance Sunday are days for people to gather together and remember. It is important to remember! Men and women sacrifice so much in the armed forces. It is important to reflect and remember the lives lost through war! Especially in today’s world! You turn on the news, and there is some horrifying story about conflict and war. The way the world’s politics are going, we very well could be approaching another world war. I hope that is not the case. Days like today are important for this. People need to remember the destruction and the unnecessary loss of life in war. My papa survived the war but so many people did not. The picture above is of wooden crosses with poppies on them that are available that can be put at graves for remembrance. We have written my papa’s name on one, the other one is for my uncle. We have placed the crosses on the respective graves. It is important to remember, to reflect, to learn. It is important to honour and respect those who have died for us, and who put their lives in danger for us. It is important to acknowledge the great sacrifices that our armed forces make for us.

Here is a link if you would like to read Dulce est decorum est in its entirety, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46560/dulce-et-decorum-est

 

 

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.