When it’s alright on the outside.

This is the inspiration beind this particular post. This picture came from Facebook as so many do but in particular advertising awareness for Crohn’s & Colitis.

It got me thinking about just how many people I might know who are dealing with an invisible illness. The ones where it does not show, people who we are sure they are alright because they don’t look ill. It occurred to me how  almost everyone we know fights a battle of some sort.

It could be cancer, mental health, abuse, addictions, or a physical illness or disability. It could be anything at all.

It is very easy to not think about what other people might be going through and just react to a comment, a look or an emotion but in a judgemental world that we are living in, just take a moment to think about it before your own assumptions take over. Some fight it all alone whilst others can have a whole network of support. Some simply cannot cope and will shut down hoping for the storm to pass. Some will talk about it whilst others will not everyone is different.

Respect those differences but if you know someone who has is coping with an illness invisible or not, just a small gesture to show that you are thinking of them, or that you care can mean the world when it all gets too much.

I know we have just had the season of goodwill and you might be feeling that New Year warm fuzzy feeling but can we extend that around the rest of the year and it might just start to make a difference in our lives. I’m not asking for world peace, after all who am I to ask?

How Many Do We Get?

A leading question and forgive me for a moment if I’m going to go deep…

I am talking about how many chances to make a new life? Something better than before, or at least different. I am sometimes likened to a cat by those who know me, but I wonder whether I have the nine lives people so often speak of. I don’t know how many chances I have had. I have never thought to count them before or even how many I may have already used up and I’m not going to start now.  For whatever the answer is, I am grateful.

What I do know is that throughout our life we are given so many opportunities to make it different. Some we may miss. It may be that we simply don’t see them at the time. Or that they come out of nowhere and we reach out and life as we know it changes completely.

I want to tell you about one such time in my life. It was 8 years ago (Oh how time flies) this week, just days before my Birthday.

I had prayed so long for the moment, hell I’d even begged for it. The operation which I was sure would change my adult life from the one that had been plagued thus far with pain and illness. Once they had found out that the cause of all this misery was Endometriosis, an incurable condition and I had met the specialist, then he could set about sorting me out finally. I was overflowing with hope of what would come to me in my new life after they agreed to give me a full hysterectomy. The pressure in the past that I’d felt, to provide children to complete my existence was suddenly removed and I could finally move on from it. By just announcing “I can’t have children”, instead of the wistful ” I don’t have children…. yet.” Somehow the weight was instantly lifted and it was just accepted by others as well as myself. It was also possible that since my pain and symptoms were cyclical and my menstrual cycle outweighed the rest of the month, this surgery just might put an end to it in one fell swoop. It was a drastic approach, but I had tried everything else that was suggested and it hadn’t worked, I was by then absolutely desperate.

Of course I had the last minute doubts before the operation because it was so final. But, the pro’s definitely outweighed con’s in my mind as I thought about the opportunity to actually start living and be able to follow some of my dreams without being held back by my condition at last. My partner was a tower of strength and supported my decision all the way, he wasn’t going anywhere he said, we were in this together.

There were moments in the past where I had gone after a dream and encouraged by my partner had gone far and achieved things that I had not thought possible.

I awoke from the operation euphoric. Full of hope for what might come next in our lives, after the three months recovery time at home I would need. Thankful for being given the chance at starting my adult life over again. I was now going to be able to go out there and actually begin to live it! I was also extremely grateful that this time I had understanding bosses who had agreed the time off on full pay that I would need. It was such a huge relief that we did not have that particular stress hanging over us through that.

I healed really quickly on the outside and felt invincible and ready to take on the world. My partner held on tightly to the reigns for a while to stop me doing something that would set my recovery back and I started straight away on HRT patches so that I wouldn’t go into a menopausal state with immediate effect. I didn’t want to go through that on top of it all and since I was young I wanted something that would protect me from the brittle bones often suffered post menopause for as long as possible. I am still using them.

So how do I feel 8 years on from this?  Did my new life begin? Was it as awesome as I thought it would become back then?

Well, yes I got a new life compared to the old one. It started to be like most lives, it’s been a pretty mixed bag.  Not always awesome, it has been filled with ups and downs, we have been sick and healthy, jobs have come and gone. I have lost people and loved ones along the way. I have fought for what I believed in, I have tried to remain strong even when I did not think it were possible.  I have often felt as though I am at rock bottom but I have had my loved ones beside me along the way but most of all it is not over yet.  There is no “fat lady” singing yet.

I have gone sometimes off at tangents over the past few years, not really knowing where it would lead but I want the other chances which might be open to me.  A life can be long or short, we have no way of knowing which of those we will have.  As mine continues I will look for the opportunities in the hope that they present themselves as often as possible. I hope I will find them, at the corner of every street, on every day that I am lucky to wake up and to breathe and in every person I am lucky enough to meet. Yes, I do see those things as blessings, sometimes in disguise, but experience is gained from every encounter.

I haven’t yet worked out for my purpose is for this world, I feel as though somehow I am being led to help others.  I am not sure of the direction but I am certain that I have a place and I belong here and I want to make a difference, somewhere to someone.

 

To Those Who Are Getting Help. 

This is a bit of a follow on Post from the other day about CBT When Those Three Letters Mean Totally Different Things and when it’s just time to Breathe!

Someone very dear to me and whom I haven’t seen for some time had told me that they are getting help to work through their issues. I am so happy for them since although I love them it has been really hard for me to stay away but I had to for my own good. I didn’t want to be hurt again. So this is kind of like an open letter to them and others seeking some answers from within who have decided to speak to a professional.

First of all, I am proud of you. Now if you don’t know me personally then you might say, so what! But, down the line if you get to thinking have I done the right thing? Trust me if anyone is proud of you then it helps. The first step is to recognise that there is something you need to sort out and by seeing a counsellor then you may find that you understand better and can help control the emotions that wreak havoc.

Secondly, if you get past the group therapy of a CBT course and feel you need to see a counsellor one to one you are going to feel emotionally exhausted once you start talking. The process of opening up and talking about your innermost thoughts is going to hurt like hell so you are going to need some pretty tough people around you as you act like a child from time to time and let it all out, which is totally normal and part of your healing from whatever you are going through. You will release whatever is inside and the way it comes out may surprise you. Leaving you thinking Who is this person I fail to recognise? 

After your sessions, take a walk on your own. Sit in the car for a while, take some time for yourself to calm down before you drive home. If you like me felt sensory overload then you might also want to escape afterwards. But although you may want to flee the scene, for goodness sake do not drive when you are emotional if you can avoid that since you are most likely to lose concentration which could cause an accident. I used to sit in the car for about half an hour, do something like check my Facebook or text my friends and family or call them before heading off and then I used to just drive.  Go and find something beautiful to look at somewhere, or feel the wind on your face for a while.

I was also advised to Do something for yourself, just you every week, then every day. Just one small thing can make a huge difference when you are running around after everyone else. For me it was to become creative again and write whenever I can. I still come up against obstacles when someone would rather that I did something else. But I am hanging on to this one thing for me although it began as a small part of my therapy. It has become so much more.

At the end of it all you may feel a bit lost and wary of people since you have opened your heart and mind to a relative stranger and are still pretty raw. So take time to heal your mind, body and soul. If you can, during this time try to avoid getting drunk or high (if either of those are your thing) since you may feel differently to how you were before and may not actually recognise the person you are becoming.

It will take time so allow yourself that. Good Luck on your journey and when change begins to happen for you, however hard this might be, embrace it. You never know what might happen. Remember that there is a future out there and you have a part in it.