Lesson 8: have more faith in your intuitive feelings

Lesson 8 is a lesson I have yet to learn or realise. I am hoping that it comes to me as I am writing. That is how I learn a lot about what is really going on inside me; I write. I don’t plan my blog posts or if I have an idea of what I want to write about, that’s enough to work with. I find that if I plan writing too much, it becomes more difficult. It flows less and doesn’t ‘sound’ like it’s me or my inner voice speaking. Impromptu writing however,can be very effective at times in helping me to realise, remember or learn new things 

Part of the reason I haven’t blogged in quite a while is that I just couldn’t find the time. Most of my free time these days I’m confined to the house because of fatigue and, more recently, pain. I had pneumonia over Christmas; it took 2 different courses of antibiotics to get rid of the “consolidation” in my right lung. Funnily enough, I had started with this awful sharp pain in my back/shoulder/chest in November. My chest sounded clear on all 3 of the appointments I had been to. The first GP concluded it was muscular/soft tissue related (fibro), and sent me away with a tube of Ibuprofen cream. As that didn’t work, I then went back and saw a different GP. It was my ‘regular’ GP as it happens. She knows me well and is aware of all my health problems. She listened to my chest (sounded clear again), and agreed with the first GP that it was most likely fibro pain. Some time after the problem first began, as it was also getting worse, I went back. This time, another different GP. My intention was to ask them to increase my painkillers temporarily until this ‘flare’ eased off. I explained the pain (again) and she listened to my chest (sounded clear). She decided that as it was ongoing like this, it would make sense to double-check it wasn’t chest infection with an xray. She thought the pain sounded like pleurisy. 

Guess what? I was right… BOOM!!! Finally somebody had looked past the fibro and looked more at other potential options. My persistence had paid off and I felt like telling them “I told you so, I knew it wasn’t fibro”. I know that it’s easy to blame ongoing aches and pains on fibro or any other chronic problem a person might have. But sometimes it would be nice if I was listened to, heard, and taken seriously the first time I asked; not the third time. 

Anyhow, having such a bad infection absolutely floored me. To the point that I am still recovering from a fatigue point of view. I still get the pleuritic pain, but I am told it can last a while after an infection. Apart from that pain, my fibro had been pretty steady and manageable. Until recently.

I am still trying to work out what has changed for the pain to suddenly have become so agonising in recent weeks. Literally everything hurts. Joints, skin, muscles. The intensity of the pain has just rocketed from ‘hardly anything’ to ‘wtf is happening?’. I have spent time writhing around the bed in agony. It hurts so much I can’t keep myself still. But moving around is also causing pain. And I end up curled up on the bed rocking; because that is the only other thing I can do. As I am crying because I am scared, and tired, and paranoid. Most (not all) professionals will see my fibro diagnosis and presume, if basic bloods are normal, that it’s fibro. Nothing to worry about in their eyes. I don’t feel that way; I feel that if the pain is that severe, then it is something to worry about. 

And there we have it; a title for this blog post and Lesson 8: have more faith in your intuitive feelings.

Just because a GP says this agony is ‘just the fibro’, it doesn’t make it factual. That is their opinion. Opinions are subjective. My opinion is just as important as anyone elses. If something doesn’t feel right, it is probably your intuition trying to tell you! Trust your instinct, judgments, body and mind. 


Confidence building: developing helpful & effective ways of coping

I kinda got out of the habit of blogging and have to say, I have missed it. I guess life has just been getting in the way. Plus being out of therapy for the last 16 months or so, has meant I am exploring my own stuff less than I was. That, by all means, has not impacted negatively on me; if anything it has helped me learn to stand on my own 2 feet. 

Once I had been discharged in March 2016, after 10 years of being in mental health services, I kept half expecting myself to have a big melt down. I had no confidence in my own ability to manage what my life could throw at me, and I believed the slightest amount of stress would send me on a downward spiral. Luckily, a strong support network, time and experiences have helped me develop my self-belief and confidence. It isn’t always easy or fun to learn new things about myself although the more revelations I have, the more exciting the future seems. 

Equally, however, not every day in the last 12 months has been easy. Unexpected and quick deterioration in my physical health has brought along new challenges. I am still adjusting and find it incredibly difficult most days but I have a determination and motivation to not be beaten down. Hopefully my next post won’t take forever. Nice to be back 😊

Panic; as it happens. How anxiety holds us back.

To start with, I wanted to reiterate my point on my last post about speaking out re mental health. Those who know me will know I am as open as possible when talking about my own mental health. That’s not always been the case, but it always seems like the more I do talk to people, the more open I become.

Maybe because it helps my confidence. Or maybe I just talk a lot. The main reason, I believe, is because it helps me and other people. People talk to me about my blog and give me feedback. Many do it privately; mainly because they or somebody they know have/are suffering with mental health problems or difficulties, and they maybe want to ask a personal question. Each time somebody does contact me, I feel like I have had some kind of impact on them, and that keeps me going. It reminds me that the more I/we talk openly about mental health, the more people come forward and stop struggling in silence.

Going it alone is the hardest. And those of you who don’t talk much about their difficulties are probably sat there saying I’m wrong… that actually the HARDEST part is talking to somebody. Trust me, in the longer term, openness is the way forward.

If only it was that simple though eh? All those fears swimming around inside, panicking at the thought of telling somebody how you’re feeling and what you are thinking. How will they react? Will they think I’m being stupid? Will they think I’m wasting their time? Will they disown me? Will they treat me differently? Will they make me go and see a shrink? Will I end up looking like a zombie? Will I have to stop work? Will they tell anyone? Will I become dependant on tablets? I had all those questions and more… but with anxiety, I’d ask myself questions, answer them myself then hear my ‘inner-voice’ teasing me. “If you tell them, they’ll think you’re crazy” or “you’ll have to start taking meds; meds that you’ll get addicted to and that will see that you sleep soundly…” … “for 23 hours a day”. 😉

That’s just my example of anxiety… thoughts happen so quickly that you’re reacting ahead of yourself. You react so quickly that it takes a few seconds to reign yourself in a bit and steady yourself before you have a huge panic attack in the middle of the street. 

Ohh, the dreaded panic when you’re out. Racing thoughts that, usually, you can hear coming from your own voice. You can hear yourself telling yourself all that bullcrap…. mine went something like this;

“Everyone will be watching. Oh my god, you might actually pass out in front of everyone. Ohh you’re gonna be sick. Shit! Get away from everyone quick. Go somewhere quiet. Get yourself alone, now! Oh fuck, you’ll pass out alone and you might die. You’re sweating all over. Head might explode any minute. Keep smiling until you’re alone. Act normal. You can’t do it, you really are gonna pass out in a minute. Just breathe.”

Now you can’t breath properly. Getting close to collapsing. Light-headed. Everything sounds fuzzy. Sweat dripping off my face. I know if I try to move I’ll drop to the floor. At this point I can’t get up until my vision and hearing go back to normal. That can take seconds, and bad ones can take minutes. Still all feels like it’s actually hours though, every time. I start cooling down with all the cold sweat on my body. I get too cold and start shiverring. I need to rest a lot now. Those few minutes can floor me for days at a time. 

So, the initial thoughts (my voice in my mind) are so powerful and evoke emotions that feel overwhelming. The more overwhelming, the higher chance of a panic attack; which to me is “too much anxiety”. This makes it very difficult to try to speak out about your own mental health; the fear of anxiety overload is just too overwhelming to even consider going against what your thoughts tell you. But it makes perfect sense to me that anxiety holds us back. We avoid anything that we associate anxiety with. And the more we avoid things, the harder it is to then face them at a later stage. And you can keep trying avoidance for as long as you want to, but I’m hoping you’ll see, very soon, that you can’t avoid things forever. 

I don’t really know if any of that makes sense to anybody. To be honest, when I’m on one like I just was then, I don’t really remember what I’ve written. I have more of a brief memory of what I write about. But I never re-read a blog post until after I’ve published it. My reason being, I was writing all the above without sitting and giving it much thought. I would rather you read it as it happened in my mind, than reading something I wrote and then changed. The only reason I’ll ever edit my posts, is to fix spelling and grammar errors (oh yes, that’s me!). I don’t think re-wording my thoughts helps you to understand them better. 😉 babbling a bit now so going to say night night. X