Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Welcome, fellow warriors!

Personal account of life with chronic disease/invisible illness:

At my worst:
  • I was literally at death's door and given an estimated time frame of three months to 'make it' with severe myxoedema (the same year that I was due to sit my main high school exams, no less). My organs were failing and my body was in the process of shutting down. I was in a bad place.
  • At the same point mentioned above, I really didn't care if I lived or died - I was beyond the pits of depression. I was as far down any deep dark hole as I could get, felt that the medical profession didn't believe me and I simply lost all hope. I didn't even think that there was any point in washing myself, as I clearly remember thinking that it wouldn't be long until the worms nibbled at my flesh & bones. A prominently sad but true fact - this stuff really messes with your brain. My mental health was in a bad state at that time and I wanted to end my life at just sixteen years old folks. Sweet sixteen.
  • By thirty (following another square go with the vortex of doom) my little girl looked after me more than I was able to look after her. I left the house one day per week to take her to playgroup. My dad gave us a lift there and back in the car - it took me three hours to get ready to go and three days to recover from the trip. I cried as the other mothers took their kids here, there and everywhere and I felt like they looked at me like I was useless. You know what though? I never told them about my condition, so how could I expect sympathy from anybody else if they didn't actually know? I guess that I wasn't ready to accept my chronic illness for what it was but the fact that it was invisible meant that it was difficult to explain to other people and I really didn't have the energy to even speak or think at times.
At my best:
  • It made me rethink my entire life and I went to work in the caring profession. I never wanted anyone to feel the way that I had felt and/or been treated. I never wanted anyone to feel ignored, or less of a person, like they didn't matter - a statistic if you like, or a piece of meat. I vowed never to look at a patient like that no matter what, as I'd once been that person, lying in that bed.
  • Thyroid disease and everything that has gone along with it (inconclusive coeliac, hypoglycemia, migraines, IBS, depression, anxiety, burnout, brain-fog etc) have made me stronger and more self-accepting - even if I have mentally and physically broke down on more than one occasion. It has given me a completely different perspective on life - that generally happens when you face mortality at any given age though.
  • I'm currently at the stage of practising mindfulness and gratitude on a daily basis... although I'm only human and still struggle with the whole 'why me' things on occasion. Nowadays though, I try to pick that line up with 'well, why not me?'. Ultimately, I've come to the conclusion that I'm no less or more deserving than anybody else.

It led me to start this blog!

I've blogged before... about green beauty, healthy eating and green living. My blog was quite successful at the time (it was called 'Organic Lassie' then I switched it to 'Live Green Beauty' if you're in those circles & remember it!) but there was always something missing in it for me, and I couldn't deny it when I felt the urge to blog again, except this time I realised that I needed to blog about well-being as a wider, more umbrella term.

I spent so long not wanting to accept that I had to live like this for the rest of my life. At first, you're just so happy to receive a diagnosis, and then you go through the ups and downs of lab-work and nobody understanding you all over again when nothing clinically matches the way you feel on the inside or outside - personally and professionally.

Everybody sees the dark circles under your eyes and your lack of eyebrows etc., and they jokingly ask you if you're at death's door again, but nobody feels the led weight that you're carrying around which makes you feel like you're constantly swimming through treacle (that is literally how it feels).

After a while, it doesn't matter how much you visit clinical staff or immerse yourself in medical journals searching for a cure - you eventually have to learn to pick yourself up and rebuild your life on your own steam. That stage can happen at different times for different people, and it can happen more than once as you also learn to ride the waves of illness. Medication is generally a given once you are diagnosed (if you're lucky enough to find a functional Doctor even better - I've still to achieve that one but then again I'm UK based which is unfortunate in that sense as we are so far behind the rest of the world with regards to holistic/functional endocrine research/best practice); but moreover, your mental & emotional scars take a time to heal. It can take decades to deal with the stuff that you've gone through and what/who you've lost along the way. Often, the hardest thing about chronic illness is simply grieving for yourself, but there's sadly nothing simple about it.

Back to the present time...

Whatever you do, don't forget who you were, who you are or who you could be. As my late Grandmother said, "Life is like a jigsaw puzzle and your death is the final piece." Oddly enough, she said this the last time that I spoke to her before she passed away when I was fourteen years old (one year before my first encounter with the 'vortex of doom') and I always wondered if her words were a profound realisation that she decided to share before she went or if it was a philosophical pondering that she needed to confirm out loud. Either way, her words have stayed with me throughout the years - usually as I tried to piece my life back together in some loose form.

Learn to accept yourself, love yourself and embrace all of your perceived flaws - does anybody else even see those 'flaws' or is it just you? Don't be so hard on yourself. Practice some self-care and share a little warrior love.

#selfcareisnotselfish #balanceiskey
D x

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