Football Family

My family are into football. Infact my parents actually met through going to watch the football.

For years my dad and my sister have tried to get me into football, to get me to understand it. Very often my dad will tell me something football related and truthfully it just goes over my head. I just did not get it.

My sister played football while growing up and a few years ago got back into playing it. I used to go watch her play when i was not working. Now that i don’t working i make it to a lot more games.

At the beginning I had no clue! I knew you kicmed the ball and hoped to score, that is it! Truthfully, I do not actually know much more than that now, but i have at least learned to cheer when the right team scores!

Now i might not actually know much about the game itself, but i like going to the games and watching them. I like watching the team work and support for each other. I like the encouragement and the progress and achievements. I like watching the friendships and the bonding.

Now i am not part of the actual football team. However, i have received support from some of these ladies. I have received real encouragement. After one conversation with one of the team, i went from feeling completely useless to feeling more positive that things can change. I am included in the laughs and the nights out and team celebrations. They held a minute silence in honour of my nana when she died.

And that is so very important.

These ladies are kind to each other. They work hard at improving their own game. They work hard at improving as a team. They build each other up! They support one another. They celebrate birthdays, achievements, the good times. And they are there offering support and shoulders to cry on through the tough times. They seem to get that life is tough and it can throw a lot of curveballs. But they are kind to one another. And help build each other up. They get that we are all feeling our way through life.

I hope they all continue on this way.

I hope they know the impact that their support has on other people.

Also, they finished their season today with a 6-0 win and secured themselves the 3rd position in the league table! It was a great end to their season! Look at me knowing a few football terms!

Tai Chi Fridays

Most Fridays I attend a tai chi class with my auntie.

Tai chi is a form of low impact exercise which combines flowing movements woth breathing and relaxation. It was originally a martial art in 13th century China and is now practiced as a health benefiting exercise all over the world.

With benefits including reduced stress, improved posture, balance and mobility and increased strength in muscles, it is clear to see why it is thought of as health promoting.

The class that I attend also incorporates dance. The instructor promotes a happy armosphere, and there is always plenty of laughs.

I get great benefit from the class. Taking the physical and mental benefits out of the equation, I attend with my auntie. Which means most weeks I get to spend some quality family time with her. After class we go for a tea/coffee and catch up which I always enjoy.

I always leave the class feeling calmer after the relaxation and have a sense of accomplishment. I got up, got ready and went to an exercise class. For a person with chronic pain this is a huge achievement!

I think this class is important in my journey feeling my way through this life.

Here is a photo of myself and my auntie enjoying some granola and coffee while we had a good catch up after our tai chi class!

World Mental Health Day 2018

Today is World Mental Health Day.

Awareness days like this are important as it starts a conversation and raises awareness. It also acts as a wee reminder of how important mental health is. However, everyday should be mental health awareness day!

Looking after your mental health is just as important as looking after your physical health. Days like today remind people that it’s ok to not be ok, and it’s ok to reach out for help.

Signs of poor mental health:

  • Confusion
  • Depression, prolonged sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Anxiety, excessive fear and worrying
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Anger
  • Delusions and/or hallucinations
  • Problems coping with daily life
  • Suicidal thoughts/ thoughts of self harm

This list is by no means complete, just a start of signs to look out for.

Remember to be kind to one another. You don’t know the struggles that people are going through as we all feel our way through life.

Hospice Care Week

Yesterday marked the start of Hospice Care Week.

Hospices do extraordinary work. When people think of a hospice they automatically think of it as a place that people go to die… but that is not the case. A hospice is also about life. It is about promoting life. It’s about fully experiencing life and receiving the right care and support to do so until such times that end of life care may need to be offered.

Hospices, don’t only help inpatients but they support people out in the community too. They help and support people and their loved through such tough times!

Check out https://www.hospiceuk.org/support-us/campaigns/hospice-care-week for more information about hospice care week.

Starting a Pain Managment Programme

Today I started a Pain management programme. This is gling to last for 11 weeks.

I am exhausted today. I am exhausted due to the early start to get myself out to the programme. I am exhausted as a result of lack of sleep and increased pain levels after yesterday. I am exhausted due to the anxiety and tension held of attending a group setting, full of people I do not know, knowing that there was the possibility I would need to open up and I’m exhausted because I know I have over exerted myself.

Firstly, I do have to say that although I am exhausted with trying to get to the appointment on time, I am very lucky. My sister, Kaitlyn, is an angel! She had managed to arrange with her work that she would go in after dropping me off at my appointment. My appointment was in Glasgow, which is the city next to my town. Driving there myself causes me a lot of anxiety. I do everything to avoid having to drive to Glasgow. I don’t mind driving to my friends, who is in the outskirts, but actually driving in the city is a thing of nightmares! At least it is for an anxious driver. Not only that, I’d be trying to head in during rush hour which would only add extra stress. However, as I said my angel sister arranged it that she would be able to drive me in and drop me off. It would mean having to find my own way home afterwards but I would have no time limit to keep to.

The way home I completely over exerted myself though. I was worried as I am awful at directions and I have been known to get lost easily. My plan was to put on Google maps and attempt to follow that. When I was leaving, a woman from the group, that I found out lived not too far away from me was walking to the train station and said she would walk with me. I thought this was great! She knew where she was going so I wouldn’t get lost but also it would give me an opportunity to talk to her and get to know her some more so it feels less like going into a room full of strangers next week. It was a really weird chat, it turns out we know quite a few of the same people. Small world!

Today was really the introductory session.

There was 12 people in the group. Each person got to share how long they’ve experienced pain, if they had a formal diagnosis or not, how it is affecting their lives, medical professionals they have seen, medication they have tried and by alternative treatments they’ve tried.

It was interesting to hear everybody’s story. They are all so different yet simultaneously so similar. There is something in sitting in a group with 11 other people and finding out that they get it. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in it all. We were all just people. People there trying to find a way to cope! To live! To have a quality life, while living with our chronic pain. And that’s a powerful thing!

Happy Grandparents Day

Today is National Grandparents Day.

My grandparents mean the world to me.

I am lucky enough to still have 2 grandparent with me. In fact, I live with my papa. Actually, I was lucky enough to have 4 grandparents and 2 great grandparents in my life right until my late teens. I know not everybody has that. I know I was blessed to have them all while growing up.

Grandparents play a vital role in educating and molding their grandchildren. I know mine were to me. My grandparents practically raised me, they played that big a role in my upbringing!

I spent my day today with my dad and my papa watching my sister play football.

Talk to your grandparents, ask to hear their stories. They can be pretty funny. They have had a life. Talk about their memories. Listen to them and learn. Learn about their life, their experiences, their family, their lessons! Get to know them and value their wisdom. They were just like us, feeling their way through life. They still are!

Happy World Smile Day!

Today is world smile day!! 🙂

A smile is such a powerful thing, it can change a person’s perspective and make their day better.

Some things that make me smile:

  • My family and my friends
  • My cat!
  • That feeling of music when you can feel it deep in your body.
  • Trees. I also like the way the branches look against the sky. There is something strong and beautiful with trees.
  • Beautiful scenery. Whether that be at a beach or in the country or even a town/city with beautiful landmarks.
  • Music. I love how music can make you feel. I love when there is a beautiful melody or harmonies. I like it all!
  • Weaving! That feeling of accomplishment when you finish a wee sample and you can look at it and go “I did that!”
  • Having a wee hot chocolate and catch up with my loved ones.
  • Watching some uplifting programmes. Netflix is a great tool to have on bad pain days!
  • Looking through photos and memories.
  • Wrapping up warm and cosy during those winter months.
  • Having a bath!

These are just a few things that make me smile. There are loads more. It is important to find what bring us joy. It brings a bit of light to hardships and dark times as we feel our way through life.

Weaving Workshop Thursday

In January I took part in a one off weaving workshop that was put on by an organisation that I get support through.

The weaver was a wonderfully talented woman called Amy Bond (I fully recommend checking her out at https://www.amybondtextiles.co.uk, Amy Bond Woven Textiles on Facebook or @amybondtextiles on Instagram).

By the end of the workshop I had managed to produce a small swatch. I was really proud of this (photo below). I had never done any weaving before so was a complete new concept to me. I thought it was interesting to see especially when my local town is rich with weaving history!

From then a more regular weaving workshop was set up and i was lucky enough to get a space… and I love it! I enjoyed it so much, I went and bought myself a frame loom so that I could weave at home too.

Amy is the weaver who facilitates this weekly workshop too. She is an amazing human! She’s super talented and has the patience of a saint! She creates a comforting atmosphere in the group. The group is a safe space to learn and to talk and share… and we do! We talk about everything, from the small stuff to the big stuff – from what we are currently watching on TV to mental/physical health issues to hopes and dreams. No judgements given! This social aspect to the group is important. It brings people together, it forms a wee community. It means we have people to turn to in times of need. We have people to draw wisdom and life experiences from. They are people who are empathetic to our own struggles. And, it is always comforting to know that we are all the same, whatever our background and experiences are we are all feeling our way through life!

Attending this group has done a lot for my own wellbeing. It is giving me a reason to get up, dressed and out on a Thursday morning. It gives me something to look forward to, a bit of structure. I have learned so much from all the ladies who attend. I have learned a fabulous new skill thanks to Amy sharing her skills. Amy encourages creativity and play in the group. She encourages to try different techniques and using different colours and different yarns and to play with textures. It is not every day that creativity is encouraged! There is a satisfaction in weaving you have something visual at the end of what you have worked on and you get a sense of achievement when you finish a swatch.

A sense of community, new skills, personal development and being good for your well being, what more do you need in an activity? The weaving workshop provides all this for me and has fast become very important in my life. I don’t know what I’d be doing if I didn’t have weaving in my life now. It is another, and important factor in my own journey of self management with my own health and wellbeing, but also my own journey feeling my way through life!

Sister, Sister

Earlier today I read an article entitled “Sibling Relationships Are Cradle To Grave” and it got me thinking about the relationship that I have with my own sister.

People who know me either personally know my sister or at least know of her. She is a huge part of my life. She is a lot more than a sister to me.

Kaitlyn and I have been close from a young age. Due to problems within the family setting, we stuck together young. It was, and still is, my wish to shield and protect Kaitlyn from everything that was being said and done around us. I remember just looking at what was going on between the adults and thinking that through it all I was going to be making sure that she was as safe as possible. That she knew she was not alone and had someone to help her, she had someone to talk to and could trust in all the crazy going on around us. This feeling has never left me. I would do anything for this little one!

As a result, if I was going out with friends, I would often bring Kaitlyn with me. Even in school, each of us could talk to the others friends at break time/lunch. I never thought this was strange. However, what I did find strange, was when people asked me about how I could spend so much time with my sister when all they did with their siblings was fight. I am glad to say that we have never had a period of time when all we have done was argue. We are human, and we can annoy the other but we have never had any proper arguments with negative outcomes or anything. I am very glad of this, I know that I am not the easiest of people to live with, especially on bad days.

Today, my friends are Kaitlyn’s friends too. If I am invited somewhere, there is an automatic invitation to Kaitlyn too. Which I love!

Kaitlyn is my sister. She is my protector. She is the person I go to in tears. She is the person I go to because I am happy. She is my friend, my best friend. My primary caregiver at times. She’s my rock. She has kept me going. She has been my carer… quite literally. She has helped me dress when I’ve been unable to myself. She has reached out to people and got me help and support that I needed. She has come with me to appointments, made sure I’ve taken my medication. She has been by my side through love, loss, heartache, good times, bad times.

Kaitlyn is one of the key people in my life, a key player in this journey. I am lucky to have such an amazing relationship with my sister, I cannot imagine it any other way. I hope and pray that we continue to be as close throughout life. I hope she knows just how much she means to me. There are no words strong enough to describe just how much love, respect and trust I have for her. I am so proud of her and the person that she is. She is so caring and resilient. She amazes me.

Relationships are tricky things, especially amongst family at times. I am blessed that to have such a good relationship with my sister. I know that not everybody is as lucky to have such an amazing relationship with a sibling. Treat each other with kindness and remember that everybody is just feeling their way through life.

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/