Thursday, 17 August 2017

Do One Thing Everyday That Scares You | What Did You Do Today?

There are only two things that I'm really scared of in life:

  1. Flying
  2. The Dentist
And because I'm writing this first thing in the morning, it's obvious that I have not done these things throughout my morning routine. For the record, I wasn't afraid of flying until I had a bad experience in 2008 and similar reasons for the dentist, last visited in 2009. Neither will feature in today's 365 journal entry but if you'd like to hear about those experiences then let me know - I'm at a point where I'm OK sharing them now. In fact, I'd love to do a mini-series on the blog called 'Face Your Fears' or something along those lines!

I haven't done anything this morning that has really scared me, although I did notice that the toilet wasn't flushed when I went to use it... that could have potentially been scary! 😉

So, with that aside, the one thing that scared me yesterday was walking my daughter to school. I know what you're thinking... what?! 

I've only had three major 'dips' with chronic illness: myxoedema diagnosed 1999 where I was bedridden and had to take time out to rehabilitate (recovery time until 2001), a major hee-haw hormonal dip after the birth of my daughter in 2009 but it crept up slowly and was fully evident by 2011 (recovery time until 2013 when I was, yet again, 'out of action') and adrenal burn-out (basically due to extreme exhaustion and taking care of everyone apart from myself) evident in 2015 but only addressed in March of this year (by which point I was barely able to put one foot past the other or speak coherent sentences without sounding like a drunk person).

When these massive flares hit me they knock me for six and although it takes a while for my body to recover, I've always appeared mentally ok on the outside because I hid everything with a big smile ('tears of a clown'), although I have tended towards depression on the inside. Everything changed though in 2013. As always I was expecting depression but I was hit by a massive panic attack in the supermarket and things were never the same again. I barely left the house for the first eight months of 2013, I couldn't bear the bright lights - in fact, I remember having to wear sunglasses in the house once, at night-time, with only one lamp turned on in the sitting room. It was horrible and I'm not sure which is worse... depression or anxiety.

After having a flare, walking is hard enough in its own right. As chronic illness is invisible, local people see you out and about but they don't know that you feel like you're about to drop down dead on the inside. They might see me on the street, but they don't realise that I only live two minutes along the road and that it took me about two hours to actually go out. They might see me out with my family, but they don't realise that I'm only managing because my husband is out with me and he's my prop. They might see me walking with my daughter to put her to a summer activity, but they don't realise that I rested for two days to be able to do that and that once we reached our destination, I had to sit in a cafe for an hour to initially recover and that I had to sleep in the next day or two as well - all because of a half an hour walk there and back!! I also tend to walk on the flat and avoid the hills, because hills are secret killers for those of us with chronic disease.

I was never literally scared of walking (I used to be a big fan of walking when I was able - I used to walk six miles return trip to college in Glasgow every day!), I was just frustrated that I could do it one day and would have to take another three days out of my life until I could try it again. However, after severe anxiety disorder set in, everything changed. By the time I had recovered enough anxiety-wise to be outside with others, I was also terrified to be alone. My husband picked me up from my work each night and we walked the route home together - I couldn't do it without him. Everywhere I went, I went with other people. 

Dropping my daughter to school in the morning was a no-go area. The thing with chronic illness is that you're at your worst in the mornings (where you generally feel like someone beat you up the day before) and if you've ever woken up with a hangover... well, that's how I feel pretty much every day of my life. When I have a good day, I try to take things easy so that I don't tilt the balance, but yet, I always do!

I've relied on my dad giving my daughter a lift for the most part of 2014-2017 (term time) and when I was working, he would drop her off at school then give me a lift to work which was on the same route (we live in a small town). I owe him so much as, without him, I just wouldn't have managed these last few years. Luckily, he's retired, so he was happy to help. He's worked all of his life and he really struggled with retirement so he wanted to help as it, "gives him a purpose to get up in the mornings" (direct quote). Bless his heart. Love him to bits.

Anyway, the one thing that I really wanted to achieve this year was to walk my daughter to school. By giving up full-time employment in March this year, my body has had time to heal although I know it's still a long road. So when the schools went back yesterday, I promised her that we'd walk together. But I was scared before we left the house. My legs turned to jelly and I was afraid that we'd have to stop half-way and that we wouldn't make it up the hill. It was easier walking with her as she kept me distracted but it was harder walking back to the house by myself as I was alone and my brain started working overtime, as I realised that I wasn't managing the hill on the way back and that I could feel my heart beating at a crazy irregular speed, that my legs didn't want to work properly, that I was getting dizzy and that the sweat was practically dripping off me when it was only 13C outside. 

I got home and it took me about an hour to recover but I was utterly elated and nothing could wipe the smile from my face. I'd done it!! From experience though, I knew that I'd suffer today and sure enough, I was utterly exhausted this morning - I could barely speak, my bones were on fire, my joints felt like someone had twisted them in my sleep and I felt like I'd polished off a bottle of wine the night before. Alas no, just water, coffee, and chai tea! Hardcore as always.

Sadly I didn't manage to walk her to school today, but as I've learned from eighteen years of chronic illness - there's always tomorrow and I'll just have to try again.  

What's the one thing you did today that scares you? If I can do it, then you can do it too.


#selfcareisnotselfish #balanceiskey

D x


  1. Well done D, I can sympathise with how you feel and it's nice in a way to read other people's stories. I will drop along and read your blogs and send virtual hugs. J x

  2. Inspiring and insightful in equal measures. Take care you, Mairi-Clare X

    1. Thanks, Mairi-Clare, glad you found it inspiring/insightful. You take care too <3 X