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!

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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!

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!

#RescueMe

This morning, my sister sent me a link to the new Thirty Seconds to Mars song, Rescue Me.

Go check it out at: https://youtu.be/yEWb6bsd5lo

I always enjoy it when my sister sends me a wee link from YouTube. She’ll send me a link because it’s about something I like, it might be something she likes, it’s something she thinks is funny or strange. Either way, it is always something she wants to share with me! In this case, it is something we both like! We both love Thirty seconds to Mars and have been to see them live on numerous occasions.

So the official video for Rescue Me was released on YouTube today, so naturally Kaitlyn sent me the link.

The video is beautiful! It is simple in design, which I feel gives it a strong impact. The song itself hit me hard the first time I heard it. Thirty seconds to Mars has very many powerful lyrics. So many of their lyrics stand out to me and have personal meaning to me and my own life. Like so many of their songs throughout the years, this song has become important to me. It sticks with me. The lyrics and the music resonates with me. I mean, “Rescue me from the demons in my mind,” as a person with chronic health issues, these words resonate strongly. I can’t tell you the amount of times that I have wanted saving from myself. People fight their inner demons everyday.

As well as the massive impact the lyrics and music themselves have had, I really liked what was written in the description box!

“Rescue Me is a song about pain, a song about empowerment, a song about faith, and a song about freedom.

Freedom from the wreckage of your past. Freedom from the bondage of self. And freedom to embrace all the promises that life has to offer.

It’s also a song about the brutal war so many of us wage against fear, depression and anxiety in the hope that we might, one day, live a life filled with happiness and dreams.

Pain does not discriminate. It can affect us all. In our bodies. Our hearts. Our minds. And often, when that pain is emotional or mental, we are afraid to speak up.

None of us are “OK” all the time. And there shouldn’t be a stigma when we aren’t…..

…. If you think someone in your life needs help, ask them if they’re OK and make sure they know you’re there for them. And keep showing up. Help however you can.

If you are hurting, you can get through this. Tell someone you trust. And make sure you ask for help. “

Regardless of if you like the band and their music, this is such an important message. It is a message that everybody should hear. It should be spread far and wide. Pain does not discriminate, whether that be physical, emotional or mental pain. The stigma surrounding chronic pain, and mental health is awful! It can make you feel isolated. Isolated and dealing with so much pain, so much emotion, so much fear and so much worry and often confusion. It can feel like you are trapped, that everything is enclosing you, and you’re stuck! Stuck in a constant loop of pain and it can often feel like there is no escape.

It is important for people to know they are not alone, especially those with chronic health, and/or mental health issues.

Music can be truly inspirational and can be a powerful tool in a person’s journey. It can be a powerful tool for a person’s healing.

Personally, I love music. I love live music. I especially like songs that speak to me, whether that be the lyrics, the melody, harmonies used, anything! This song is one of those songs that is resonating with me! But on top of that, it’s message is great! It’s message is inspiring. It’s message is one of love and understanding. It’s about pain and the daily fight we have. It is about hope. Hope for more good days. Hope for our futures. And hope that one day, there might not be such a stigma attached! It’s a message to support one another. To ask for help when needed, to give help when needed. It is a reminder that people are feeling their way through life. They are facing their demons and struggles, on a daily basis. It is a powerful message to advocate!

Meet Tommy!

For a long time I have been wanting a cat and on Friday I finally got my wish. Everybody meet Tommy! Tommy is a rescue cat that we got from our local cat and dogs home. He is a year old and, as you can tell, is super cute.

The thing is, I am actually allergic to cats. I am perfectly willing to take antihistamines to help any reactions. That being said, my allergies have actually been ok with Tommy and Tommy is like a wee shadow with me at the moment and is coming to lie on top of me and next to me for lots of snuggles. In any case, having a pet has a lot of benefits.

  • Company
  • Routine
  • Distraction
  • Boost mood
  • Help relieve stress
  • Can boost self esteem
  • A sense of purpose
  • A conversation starter

Having a chronic illness, such as fibromyalgia, can be socially isolating so having a pet provides companionship. Not only that, but a pet has unconditional love for it’s owner. You can’t get dressed? A pet is not going to judge that. You are really tired? A pet is not going to judge that. In fact a pet, especially a cat or dog is likely to curl up next to you. Tommy has already been a great comfort for me in curling up next to me when I feel rubbish and feel like I cannot move.

Having a pet means having responsibilities. This weekend I have felt like I could not move and get out my bed. I have had to move to feed Tommy and to look after him. It might not be much but taking care of him is like taking care of myself. I gave Tommy food, so I had something to eat myself. It has made me feel like I have a purpose and I am not completely useless.

All weekend I have been texting my friends about Tommy and all the funny things he has done. He’s been a good distraction from my pain. I think he knows I am in pain. He keeps coming over to me and lying next to me. It’s been a sore weekend, but I have been the happiest I have been in a while and it’s due to having Tommy around.

Remember to be nice to people, you don’t know the struggles they may be having. They are just feeling their way through life, the same as you are.

If you are able to give an animal a forever home, I fully recommend it. I feel it has a lot of positives, for myself and for Tommy.

Vivid Foliage

Recently I have been trying to be more creative in my quest to self manage my health.

I took part in a group called Threadlines set up by the Paisley Townscape Heritage and Conservation Regeneration Scheme. Threadlines is a group of artists who take part in activities that explore my home town’s printed textile industry.

Check out what the amazing ladies do on instagram at @threadlines_

Through attending the group, I met a group of amazing ladies. The group became more than exploring creativity and the towns heritage. It was about building self esteem and self belief. It was about being social, being able to talk to other people.

In the group we drew inspiration from local nature and foliage and print from old weaver journals. This weekend, as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, the pieces of work that was produced was exhibited and there was a DIY printing station set up, along with the launch of the collaborative newspaper that we put together.

Remember to treat each other kindly because you don’t know the struggle that they may be facing. People are all just trying to feel their way through life.

Invisible illness is…

For me, my physical health and my mental health is so closely linked, it is difficult for me to know which is which. I have had physical pain and anxiety/depression for years now. I actually do not know which came first. It’s a bit like that question of “what came first? The chicken or the egg?” Do I have problems with my physical health because I have problems with my mental health or vice versa? In any case, it is all part of my everyday life. Like many fibro warriors, I have a few related health conditions often associated with it (as well as anxiety and depression) such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and TMJ (temporomandibular joint). So for this, I am going to use “invisible illness” instead of using a specific label. Below are just some of the effects that living with an invisible illness can have on my everyday life.

Invisible illness means feeling so much stiffness that it feels like my body is rigid and will never move again. For me, I imagine this must be how the Tin Man felt it The Wizard of Oz when he was rusted, before Dorothy gave him the oil to loosen him up. I have this every morning and quite often through the day.

Invisible illness for me means leaving the doctors surgery and breaking down in tears.

Invisible illness for me means having to lie down for a rest after a shower! I have so little energy that the effort of going through with a shower completely exhausts me. It means products like dry shampoo becomes a best friend.

Invisible illness for me means not being able to see my friends when I want. It means not being able to do activities with my friends. It means cancelling plans with friends.

Invisible illness is worrying about being a burden on loved ones. It is worrying about being too needy. Are they going to stop talking to you? Are you too much to deal with? Do you moan to much at them? Are they going to leave you? And then inadvertently pushing them away.

Invisible illness is needing to know that there are toilets near you. It is making sure that you know where it/they are located just encase.

Invisible illness can mean having an ‘escape plan’ in place. Knowing where exits are, knowing the fastest routes out.

Invisible illness not being able to do everything you want to do. It is about pacing yourself.

Invisible illness means having aids in place to help you keep as much independence as possible. Chairs, sticks, bars, wheelchairs, jar openers, dolcet boxes – anything that can make life easier. For me it is about having to accept that I may need aids in my life.

I have to point out, that it is not all doom and gloom! Like everybody else, I have good days and bad days. It is just a sad fact that people tend not to understand invisible illnesses. If everybody was kind to one another then society would be better. After all, everybody is just trying to feel their way through life.