What can I eat?

I have always been somewhat of a fussy eater. My nana would work around it in sneaky ways. For example, I do not like onions. She would chop onion up so small and thin that I wouldn’t see it in mince or the stew she made. She would tell me that she made mince/stew especially for me, without any onions. As I grew older, I realised what she was doing, but I still ate the food that was “made with no onions”. To this day I can only have onions if they are so finely cut and hidden in my food.

I was always really fussy with meat. I would only eat it cooked in a certain way but did not like it if it was different. Looking back, I must have annoyed anybody who had to prepare food for me. About three years ago, I went to a festival and did not want to eat any of the meat options. I was worried that it would not be cooked properly and I would be ill. The idea of being ill in a tent, in the middle of a field with no toilet facilities other that portaloos (portable toilets) really scared me. It would be a horrible experience. In fact, since then, a friend has told me of an experience at a festival where they got food poisoning from eating pizza at a festival. They can confirm it is a horrible experience! So while I was at the festival I ate a vegetarian diet. This continued to a degree once I got home. I cut out all red meat and poultry. I did not see this as an issue, I didn’t miss the meat and I had been fussy with it anyway. However, I do like tuna and I like mackerel so I decided I would continue to eat fish. I did decide to eat it less often though. There’s a running joke amongst some of my friends that I am technically pescatarian (as I eat fish) but really I am just a bad vegetarian as I only eat tuna and occasionally mackerel.

As you can tell from above my diet is largely plant based. I do still eat tuna and mackerel. I think this is important as they will provide me with omega 3, which is good for the brain and joints. I still do not miss red meat or poultry. My family still continue to eat meat. I was content with my own diet choices.

When my back pain started (which was what started the investigation as to what was ‘wrong’ with me), I started to notice some irregularities with my digestive system. As time has went on, I’m noticing more. The pain and cramping that I get in my stomach, the bloating. I am often full of gas. It hurts. A doctor has told me that it is “just a bit of stress”. To be fair it could be due to stress, it could be down to my medication and the medication changes that are happening through the process of finding what works for me, it could be as a result of my anxiety or fibromyalgia or it could be something totally unrelated.

I have been keeping an eye on things lately, and I’m trying to see if there is any kind of pattern to the problems. This is difficult as I keep forgetting to write down some of the information. I have been thinking about different things – Should I be eating or avoiding certain foods and drinks as I have fibromyalgia? Could I be allergic to, or have an intolerance to, particular foods or drinks? Am I eating all the wrong things for my illness? Is there anything I can do through food and drink that could help my pain, my anxiety, my fatigue?

In my search for answers I have thought of a few things.

  1. The anti inflammatory diet. There is a lot of information online about certain foods and nutrients that are good for inflammation. The current understanding of fibromyalgia is that it does not cause inflammation to the joints. However, I had recurring blood tests that showed unmarked markers showing inflammation. Now that is not to say that it is my joints that are inflamed, it just means that there is some inflammation present in my body. It worries me sometimes that I don’t know why I have markers indicating inflammation but it could be down to so many reasons. Could eating an anti inflammatory diet help this? I guess it could.
  2. An elimination diet. An elimination diet takes a long time. It is when you take something out of your diet and later reintroduce it and note any reactions that you and your body has. I like this idea in theory. I do not think it will work for me at this point in time. I feel it will require more willpower and concentration than I can give to it.
  3. Go to a nutritionist. Another thing that could help is possibly going to a nutritionist. They will have the expertise and knowledge to hopefully make suggestions or a plan for me highlighting important nutrients and vitamins and the best food to eat to get them.
  4. Get a intolerance/allergy test. This one links to going to a nutritionist, although there are ways to get tested without having to go to a nutritionist. There are home tests that can be purchased and you send it to a lab for testing. I believe it is samples of your hair that you send away to the labs.
  5. Other testing. This scares me but it is another possibility. There might not be anything, or very little, that can be done differently regarding my diet. I may need to get further testing to get things ruled out or found.

I am going to do some more research into all the options above. I may even come up with more options to look into. I am definitely going to discuss it with my doctor too. Doing research and finding out options is good to do, but it is important to discuss them with doctors and get medical advice first! I do not know why I seem to be having more digestive problems than what I did but it is something I would like to try and help my body with. I have zero answers to any of the questions that I am constantly fretting over. However, I am on a journey. I am on a journey of getting to know my body better. Getting to know my symptoms better. Learning triggers and trigger points. Learning to listen to my body and find when it is OK to push it a wee bit and when to stop and rest. On top of that, learning more about fibromyalgia and anxiety and finding things that help. There are going to be a lot of times I’m sure I am going to be very frustrated when things don’t work but I still need to try. I need to try and find things that will help me have a good quality of life and to have, at least some, control over my symptoms.

Tough Week…

This week has been a tough week. I don’t even mind calling it a tough week, it has been difficult! I don’t think any particular thing has made it hard, it just has been. The pain has been close to unmanageable at times. I have been physically sick. My digestive system is clearly having some issues, and my stomach feels like it is constantly churning. I have been overly anxious. The fatigue has been horrible, and yet it is difficult to sleep. On top of all that I have been unable to do anything without ending up in tears. Just one of these ‘sensations’ can be difficult to cope with but put them all together and it just feels like too much.

This week I have been feeling like a failure. I have failed to get out of beds. I have failed in being a family member. I have failed in being a friend. I have found it difficult to cope.

In saying all that I have tried my best. I have tried to help my sister, by trying to run a few errands for her while she was at work to help her get ready for her holiday. I have tried to go to a yoga/pilates class to see if that would help. I tried by making sure I went to my appointment with the pain relief nurse. I tried to have a family day out with my nan and uncle. I tried to go over to my friends house. It all just ended in tears.

I don’t know why I am having a particular hard time of it this week but I am ready for this new week. A new week is coming and I am hoping for it to be better. I am hoping to be able to see my friends. I am hoping to be able to spend more time with my family. I am hoping to be able to continue to try working on myself both physically and mentally. I want my body and well-being to feel better, and to be better. As ridiculous as it sounds, I want to cry less this week. I don’t know what this week will bring but I am optimistic that it will be better.

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!

Confidence and self belief

I am late in posting this because I was scared it was going to turn into a never-ending rant and I really didn’t want it to be one.

Confidence and self belief are needed throughout life. Confidence and/or self belief is needed for so many activities – presentations, exams, performances, meeting new people, asking a person out for a date, planning a journey, interviews. Really the list can go on and on. Anything that involves putting yourself out there requires some amount of confidence. If you are confident about doing something, you know that you can do it simply because you set your mind to it. You know that you can handle the thing. You know that you can say the right things, find the right answers, look the right way. You are assured that you possess the skills and abilities to get by. Although confidence and self belief are important in life, they are often lacking.

People who are confident are often better equipped to handle problems and challenges. They are more likely to take risks or put themselves out there. They have the mentality and self belief that they will succeed, nothing is going to go ‘wrong’.

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” E. E. Cummings

That being said, an incident happened this weekend that made me angry. Truth be told, “incident” really isn’t the right word. Saying incident is making me think of something that is quite a big deal, but I don’t know what else to call it for now. It certainly wasn’t, or at least should not have been a very big deal. Basically what happened is, a mistake was made somewhere involving a form. This is not what made me angry. What enraged me was people’s reaction to this small mistake and that my dad got the full blame for it. So today myself and my dad went together and managed to sort out the problem. It took about five whole minutes to sort the whole thing! It was certainly not worth the worry and upset that had been our whole weekend. Also, this big mistake that was all my dad’s fault? Was not my dad’s mistake!

My dad has very low self-esteem and has very little faith in himself. I have witnessed people belittle my dad and point out that he can’t do things, or can not do them properly. For years my dad has been told he is not good enough and now, as a result, severely doubts himself. My dad doesn’t like reading or writing or talking to people. He worries that he might make a mistake, say or write the wrong thing and be judged for it. He double checks spellings, and information that he knows just because he does not have the faith in himself that he is correct. He will ask for help, because he doesn’t want to do it himself in the full fear that he will get it wrong. For quite a while now I have been encouraging my dad to write cards, letters, forms etc himself to try and show him that he can do it. I feel like my dad has not had much encouragement through his life to be independent and do things for himself. Other people did it for him, or instead of him. I like to be there for him, to help support him, but let him take lead so that he can see that he can fill that form in, make that phone call, whatever it may be. I hope that in doing so he can see that I believe in him. I hope that it might make him believe in himself more.

The fact that my dad received the blame for this mistake is what has made me angry. There was nothing to say that it was his fault. Many factors could have contributed to this mistake but the blame somehow fell to him. You would think that the fact we now know it was not him who “messed things up” would make things right? It has not. For a whole weekend my dad got told it’s been his fault, and he has beaten himself up over it. The more my dad was spoken about, the more my anger boiled. People who know my dad know he is not the most confident of people. So for people who know my him to say things in such a negative manner about him, and to him is not right. A mistake was made, somebody was upset and that is ok. That is what happens. People say things when they are angry quite often that they don’t mean. An argument, shouting, swearing, whatever it is, goes on for a much shorter time than the thoughts and feelings that are going to continue. You tell a person, who does not believe in themselves, that they are an idiot. That person can take that comment and torture themselves with it for day, weeks, often longer.

My dad is human, and yes he can get things wrong… But do you know what? So can everybody! He is just trying to feel his way through life the same as me, the same as you, the same as everybody!

I have always struggled with self belief and confidence my whole life. Teachers at parents night would be telling my parents that I was smart but I had to “speak out more in class”. They said that it was important for me to contribute more to class discussions, or volunteer to read out or volunteer answers. I have always been an anxious person and an overthinker. I think this is where a lot of problems can arise. Speaking out in class was my idea of a nightmare! Speaking out in front of people is still my idea of a nightmare! The very thought of it makes me feel sick. If a person lacks confidence, they may be reluctant to put themselves out there, and that is due to fear and worry. All sort of thoughts and worries can attack you, all those “what if” thoughts. “What if I say the wrong thing?”, “What if I stutter?”, “What if I fall in front of everyone?”, “What if I mess up?”, “What if they laugh at me?”, “What is I spontaneously combust?”, “What if I bore people?”, “What if they throw things at me?”, “What if they try and kill me”… The “what if” questions can create huge obstacles for people. They can range from anything from fairly realistic and acceptable worries to “dramatic” and unrealistic.

Fear and worry largely contribute to stress. This can in turn lead to problems such as insomnia, achy muscles, stomach problems, appetite problems, headaches, lead to alcohol or other substance use. All of this is hard in itself. If you then consider that people can experience this on top of a condition or illness you can hopefully get an idea on how dangerous lacking in confidence and self esteem can be.

If you know a person has low self esteem and confidence issues, don’t make them feel worse about themselves. Don’t belittle them. Don’t give them more ammunition that they are going to go away and torture themselves with. Show a little empathy. It’s ok to get annoyed. Just make sure that person knows you were saying that in the moment. Don’t let them think that they can do nothing right. Don’t let them think that they are worthless.

If you don’t know the person, just try and be a kind person. Still try and be empathetic. You don’t know what demons that person is fighting. A small comment can shatter a person’s feelings of self worth. It can evaporate any drop of confidence they have which in turn can affect that person’s life in a huge way.

It would just be great if people could spend time building each other up instead of tearing each other down. Tell people that they can do things. Praise people for their efforts! Tell people that they are awesome, cause at some point they could believe it and you’ve increased a person’s self worth and belief in themselves. Nobody know’s the kind of positive impact this will have on a person’s life. It works! I often tell my cousin Donald that he is awesome. He tells me that I am awesome. Do you know what has happened? There are times now that I am more willing to try things. There are times now that I have managed to do something, all because Donald has told me that I am awesome and I know that he believes in me, which has made me consider that maybe I can do. For example, him believing in me made me think that I could blog. I could give myself a voice. I can do this. Small things can be so impactful upon life, and can do wonders for feelings of self worth and confidence.

You are all awesome! Try and be kind to other people. Help each other feel through life and grow and develop each other’s self worth and confidence.

“I’ve become so numb…”

Hearing reports on Thursday 20th about Chester Bennington’s death by suicide at the age of 41 shocked and upset me.

The date of his death looks to be significant as it is the date that his friend Chris Cornell’s (who died by suicide himself 2 months ago) birthday. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays can be very difficult for people. That date can magnify that your loved one is no longer with here, and their loss can be really felt. Losing a loved one can be a trigger for mental health issues. The overwhelming variety of emotions that attack you, the grief and realisation that loved one is not with us anymore are all hard to deal with. This can lead to feelings of self harm or suicidal thoughts/ attempts.

It is a tragedy when any loss of life is due to suicide. There seems to be something more terrifying about it when it is somebody you admire, you look up to. It is especially sad when that person and their art helps you through dark times and feelings in your own life.

Death by suicide always raises a lot of questions, with people wondering how he could do it and think about how he “had it all”, they think “what about his … [children, wife, family, friends, band, fans]?”, “why did this happen?” The hard thing is, there will be no answers for the ones searching for them. Even if their is a note or some kind of message nobody is going to really have any answers.

Linkin Park, and their music are often said to have ‘saved lives’. Their powerful music and lyrics have impacted many people’s lives.The music reminded people that they are not alone in their battles with their demons. It provides a safe outlet to scream out frustrations, emotions, repressed feelings. Lyrics of songs and music can be so important. Lyrics can give feelings and experiences words, especially when you cannot put words to these yourself. Pain and hope were often themes through Linkin Park’s music. That’s important to people. There are Linkin Park songs that resonate with me. Linkin Park music is part of my own journey and I, like all fans, can feel this loss of a man whose words and emotions through music impacted on life. The title I’ve picked is from “Numb” which is a song that has helped me through some times. The phrases “…all I want to do // is be more like me and be less like you” and “every step that I take is another mistake to you” felt like they were describing me. I remember listening to “Numb” and thinking that this song was exactly like me and my life. It had a huge impact on me. I just don’t have the right words to describe just how much they did.

Tributes can be found all over for Chester Bennington. I really hope that his family can take some comfort from the fact that he has helped so many people through their own mental health journeys and that his music and songs will continue to be there through tough times. I hope Chester is at peace now, I hope he knows the impact he has had on so many lives. I am sorry that he didn’t have help at a time that he was so vulnerable.

For everybody grieving the passing of Chester Bennington. For everybody grieving the passing of a loved one (whether it was suicide or not). For everybody suffering from depression, anxiety or any other mental health condition, chronic illness, disability (invisible and visible). For everybody with thoughts of self harm or suicide. There are a few things I want to say to you:

  • It is ok to feel. It is ok to have many different emotions going on. It is ok to not know how you feel, you can’t give it a ‘label’ you just feel..
  • You are not alone. Other people may not know exactly how you feel, or what you are experiencing, but people can relate.
  • There are people out there who can help. There are people out there who want to help you! It is ok to reach out for help. It is not being weak asking for help. It is easy to feel that the whole world is against you, but it’s not. There will be help available somewhere.
  • Be kind to one another. You don’t know the battles that some people are facing. It is not always apparent that somebody is struggling.
  • Above all know that you matter! Your life, your story, your journey… You!! It all matters. YOU matter!!

If you, or anybody you know, are requiring help and support then there are multiple companies you can call, or get in contact with.

You can call the Samaritans any time, for free from the UK on 116 123.

For any readers not from the UK, the To Write Love on her Arms website has quite a useful list under their “Find Help” Section. Do check it out, quite a lot of places are covered. https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/