Social Anxiety – Struggling to get involved

I’ve been struggling with social anxiety for as long as I can remember. Whilst I am getting better at going out & socialising my anxiety still holds me back.

Recently I contacted my local community project to get involved. I figured I may be able to help spread the word about events & fundraising and maybe get to meet a few more people locally. Feeling brave I typed out a message & hit enter. I got a reply and we organised meeting up for a chat.

Izzy fell ill and I missed meeting the guy who runs the project. I contacted him to apologise and agreed to rearrange. My anxiety is preventing me from messaging again though. I’m just a small blogger who writes to pass the time especially when I’m in pain. How could I actually help?

I was also invited to the community house meetings which are on a Thursday evening. Of course I let everything get in the way so I was ‘too busy’ to go. This has annoyed me. I’m preventing myself from moving forward with the blog & getting to know more people in the community. Why? Because I’m scared. I’ve always been the weirdo’s kid, the outcast and I still feel that’s how people see me. 

Whilst my confidence has grown in some areas my personal confidence is still struggling. I know I can offer something to the community, I’m doing well with the blog but I don’t have the confidence I need to get that across. Getting to know people locally could be nice but at the same time I quite like being unnoticed. I guess I am a bit of a loner. Realistically though  I need to get out more, I need to meet more people, I need to have more confidence in myself and start getting involved more in the local community.

I’m determined to work on this but I know it’s going to be tough.

Do you have social anxiety? Do you have any confidence building tips? Has getting involved in a community project helped you overcome social anxiety?

 

Monday Stumble Linky

Living In A High Rise With Anxiety & Chronic Pain

Living in a high rise can be hell for me! My regular readers will know quite a bit about my anxiety & chronic pain and those that read my #worldmentalhealthawarenessweek post will know a fair bit more about my mental health. Living in a high rise flat makes all of this much more difficult. When I’m having a bad day it isn’t a case of just opening the door & stepping out into the sunshine. Being 11 floors up makes it feel like a full blown mission just to get out of the building. Sometimes it leaves me feeling so trapped I lock myself away for days at a time just to avoid the going out & coming in the block.

I definitely spend more time worrying about going out now than I did when we were in a house. Living in a high rise means you WILL bump into people on your way in and out which stresses me out, especially on bad days. I’m not a people person, I can’t do small talk, I feel awkward and panic about how I look & sound. Knowing I live in a block with some extremely violent neighbours including the guy above us (who attacked the Mr back in March) can make me panic.

The worst part about living with anxiety & chronic pain on the 11th floor is when there are issues with the lifts. If they go out of service I am either stuck upstairs or downstairs or have to push myself through the pain which generally leaves me struggling for DAYS! Our lifts go out of service quite regularly even though they were ‘replaced’ last year.

On Wednesday, after over 12 hours of hearing one lift screeching up and down and people screaming, banging and ringing the bell getting stuck in the other lift the Mr got stuck for 10 minutes. Eventually he got up to the 14th floor & the doors opened, the Mr instantly called the council to try and get them fixed.

I tried to go out an hour or 2 later and found the lifts just wouldn’t open at all so I had to brave going down the stairs with Izzy. Going down isn’t so bad but with a 2 year old sliding down the concrete steps for 11 floors my back was agony by the time we got downstairs. Relieved to have at least got out we wandered off to town and the lifts seemed to be working when we got back.

We ended up stuck for 5 minutes but we were luckily let out again at the 14th floor and the Mr ran up to meet us and help Izzy as she was a little panicked. Fuming the lifts were still in service and trapping people the Mr went off to hunt down the caretakers to try and get the issue resolved. My anxiety was quite bad at this point and I kept going very dizzy. Trying to remember my calm breathing from CBT I slowly managed to calm myself down.

I’d agreed to do the afternoon school run as the Mr needed to wash his jeans (he’s a nightmare and ruins them instantly) so I started worrying about that too. We left quite early so Izzy could try walking to the school & back for the first time, roughly a mile each way. It’s a good job we did as the lifts were still not working. Again we had to go downstairs & I was dreading coming back.

After a lovely walk to the school & back we stopped a caretaker on our way home to check what was going on. He rang through to the council for me and told me the engineers had fixed it in the time we had been gone. When we got to our block though 2 other caretakers were stood at the bottom with a lift open but dropped a good few inches. They told us it should be fine but there may be a step.

Panicking I asked if they were sure & even joked if we got stuck I’d blame them. The lift stated to move ok, no noises until we got to around the 7th floor where the lift stated banging and jumping/dropping. We had another lady and her teenage son in the lift with us & we were all trying our best not to freak out, especially as I had both girls with me. With the lift doors refusing to open and the lift dropping along with ‘Doors opening, door’s closing’ repeating over and over I had to seriously work on controlling my breathing.

The girls were getting quite upset at this point so I tried to calm them down by giving them juice as the lift was getting extremely warm. Suddenly we heard the Mr’s voice asking if we were ok and what was going on. I managed to shakily shout back that we were ok and explain what was going on. We didn’t realise at this point but the 2 caretakers had come up in the lift beside us and had got stuck too. They managed to get out & the Mr asked them to call the fire brigade which they apparently aren’t allowed to do if people are stuck in the lifts!?

The Mr rung the fire brigade instead, he’s not one to hang around when something needs doing & explained there were young children in the lift and people with anxiety. I was sat with the girls at the back of the lift, both of them crying because they were scared. I honestly just wanted to scream myself but I knew I had to keep calm for the girls so I kept them talking instead. ‘That’s daddy, he’s the other side of the doors, it’s ok. You know daddy will fix it, daddy fixes everything’ I told them. Izzy bless her said ‘Just like he always fixes things’. That seemed to calm them down slightly.

Whilst waiting for the fire brigade the Mr kept trying to call the lift to different floors to see if the doors would open at some point. Each time it got stuck I told the other people to ring the alarm so they knew the lift had stopped again. We went up to the 14th but nothing happened, we went back down floor by floor with the lift still jumping & banging as it went. The doors finally opened when we reached the 7th floor with the lift dropped down a good few inches and we all got out as quickly as we could.

As soon as we were out we headed for the stairwell & made our way back up to our floor. I was visibly struggling & the caretaker suggested I stop & sit down but I explained I have chronic pain as well as anxiety so needed to keep going before my legs gave in. Living on the 11th floor of a high rise is not fun! I needed to get us all indoors so I could calm down as the pain was making me shake & struggle to breath along with my heart & head racing like mad. The Mr came looking for us and met us at the 9th floor & took over helping the girls up which was a huge relief.

We got through the door & all collapsed on the sofa, except the Mr. The fire brigade had arrived a minute after the doors opened so the Mr ran down to let the firefighters know what had happened. They agreed the lifts needed turning off until an engineer had been out again like the Mr had been asking the caretakers to do all day. Finally they were shut down & it seems an engineer came out in the early evening as one lift now works but the other is out of service.

I’m extremely nervous about going out again now, more so than before. Living in a high rise is so damn stressful for such a range of reasons. I can’t deal with the pain throughout my body after so many flights of stairs in one day as well as walking. I’ve taken all the meds I can safely take and it’s barely even taken the edge off.  The girl’s are still a bit shaken up & Eva was so worried leaving for school this morning too. I hate living in a high rise with chronic pain & anxiety, things like this just add to it and make me panic and worry more.

The most terrifying part was finding out the alarm isn’t connected to ANYTHING. It simply rings & your best hope is someone will hear it and try to call the lift to get it working again. How can I calmly step into the lift knowing if I get stuck it could be ages before someone hears? We were lucky the caretakers had known & the Mr had been watching for us to come in the block knowing the lifts were playing up & then kept an eye on them. My head keeps going over the what ifs even though I am trying to block them out. We got out safely, we are fine… But what if it happens again?

Do you live in a high rise? Do you struggle with it too?

 

 

 

#WorldMentalHealthAwarenessWeek – Opening Up

#WorldMentalHealthAwarenessWeek

It’s that time of the year again, #WorldMentalHealthAwarenessWeek!

I decided to join in by opening up a bit more & sharing some resources too. My mental health is far from fantastic and I suffer from Anxiety & Depression. I recently started CBT to help me with this. In doing so I have discovered my problems are much more than Anxiety and depression. I panic over the smallest things, I have nightmares and flashbacks, constantly feel guilty for EVERYTHING and after my most recent CBT session I’m pretty sure I have PTSD too. I’ve highlighted a few issues and things I can do to help my mental health which may helps others too. *May contain triggers

Guilt

Along with chronic pain having a big effect on my mental health it turns out my childhood has had more of an effect than I realised. Discussing my issues with my therapist has made me realise so much that went on when I was growing up was wrong. I always tried to protect my ‘mother’ growing up. Knowing she’d had a rough childhood herself and moved down south to get away from it all, knowing my ‘father’ had beaten her, knowing she fought regularly with my brother’s dad and knowing she had mental health issues herself I always tried to defend her.

I always felt guilty somehow, my brother being in care felt like my fault, her struggling felt like my fault, her losing her temper felt like my fault. Surely I must have done something wrong to deserve it all? I’m starting to realise it wasn’t my fault how I was treated but I know it’s going to take a long time to get out of this way of thinking.

Shame

Explaining to other’s what that went on can be difficult, most of the time I’m convinced I won’t be believed. I mean come on! Seriously, who in their right mind lets their children know they are into BDSM. Who show’s off their ‘toy’s’ (whips, canes etc.) to their kid’s? I grew up thinking it was normal, at 14 I was learning to crack 6ft bullwhips. I won’t lie I thought it was cool, that part I still do! Trying to understand that lifestyle as a teen though obviously had some major effects.

Chatting to a few people about it this week has really helped me look at my childhood in a different way. I’ve felt ashamed opening up about my past but I’m beginning to see it isn’t me who should be ashamed! I didn’t ask to be brought up that way, I was a child who had no choice in what went on around me.

 

Loneliness

With my brother going into care & my ‘mother’ out most of the time at clubs of events, I spent a lot of time alone. I watched her go through so many relationships some ‘vanilla’ some very much not so. It’s only recently I have realised this had such an impact on my relationships.

I found it hard to trust, or feel and most of the time just became obsessed with an excuse to be out the house. Of course this meant I was selfish, didn’t care about her or the fact my brother was in care. I broke up with people simply because I couldn’t deal with the stress and moaning at home. It was easier to be lonely.. less stressful. I was always told no man would ever love me & they only wanted one thing. I couldn’t put my trust into anyone fully.

When a close family friend died the day before my 18th birthday my world literally fell apart. That man had stood by us through so many problems, he stood up for me on more than one occasion and I knew without him there things would spiral out of control at home. After this I tried to overdose several times. Luckily I failed, after the first 50 odd tablets I tried I kept throwing up and eventually I slept it off.

 

Friendships Growing Up

I struggled to make friends growing up always being the weirdo’s kid but I did at least make a few over the years. Some were disgusted by what my ‘mother’ got up to but chose to ignore it, other’s were slightly interested and thought it was ‘cool’. The kids in our street all knew quite young what she got up to and I can imagine their parents were horrified.

By the time I hit my teen years only one other parent would talk to her & I think that was more for us, she covered for me a few times saying I was sleeping over or having dinner with them so I could get out for a night. I remember one huge argument between my ‘mother’ and her boyfriend, freshly laid patio being smashed up, plants & pots flying everywhere, me & my brother were so upset and confused. I grabbed my bear ‘Bestie’ (The girls now have him!) and my brother and stood in the street crying, this friends mum took us in for a few hours to get us away from it.

Leaving Home

As a teen people thought my ‘mother’ was cool for a while but then they started to encourage me to leave home. Bit by bit people were seeing what she was like when we were home alone. The majority of people I knew all felt I needed to get out as soon as possible, part of me wishes I listened sooner but it’s difficult to believe you aren’t just an awful teen causing problems!

I guess I’m glad I stayed so long as I might not have got back with the Mr and have our gorgeous girls. The day I did get brave enough to leave we had an argument, I was pinned to the bed and when she raised her fist I got brave. ‘Go on fucking hit me!’ This made her back off physically and instead she started screaming at me how I was such a horrible person, how I hated her & my brother, I’d ruined their lives because I was so selfish. She got ready to leave for work screaming how she was going to go jump in front of the train and kill herself because that’s what I wanted.

Panicking I sat in my room sobbing until the front door shut. I couldn’t do it anymore, whether it was her or me causing these problems I just couldn’t carry on living that way. I called the council explained everything & was told I needed to head to Women’s aid as what had just gone on was classed as domestic abuse. Because of my age social services couldn’t help.

Still Apologising

Even after that call I still felt like everything was my fault. I thought I was causing her to have this temper and ruining everything for her. If I wasn’t there that solved the problem for her. I wrote a letter apologising for being such an awful daughter. Writing how I hoped me leaving would mean we could build a better relationship, not being on top of each other. I left my keys with the letter packed a bag with a few essentials & my birth certificate & headed to women’s aid.

As I got to the women’s aid centre I got a call which I was told to ignore as she would have just discovered I’d left and be angry. They were right and I quickly got a text saying if I couldn’t ‘be bothered’ to answer the phone not to bother her again. I didn’t contact her again after that and it took another 3 months before she discovered a diary of mine and called me. She had read a paragraph loosely mentioning I had been abused and she wanted to know what had gone on. I still felt guilty and told her nothing, I made out it was me being scared after we had been burgled.

Trying Again

I felt so guilty after that call that I agreed to meet up with her in London. We met and things were ok for almost a year, I fell pregnant with Eva and she showed interest & helped me out where she could. At this point my brother was in Northampton after several suicide attempts. It was difficult to visit him especially after a C-section with a new born to look. I had a chat with his social worker and we agreed on a home visit at our flat. We would have to be checked out by Social services and have the flat looked over for escape routes etc. I figured this would be better for him anyway, in a more comfortable setting.

Our ‘mother’ wasn’t allowed home visits, looking back it’s not surprising! I talked to the social worker and managed to get her to agree to our ‘mother’ being there too since it was supervised contact. We had a great day and took loads of pictures for us all to look back on. I had high hopes that this family setting would help us all be a little closer.

Giving Up For Good

I was asked to email over the photo’s to our ‘mother’ so I did. The next morning I got a rather aggressive text demanding I sent the photo’s. I replied to say I had sent them but would try again. She refused to believe I had sent them as she hadn’t received them. I sent screenshots of the sent messages & she blew up at me saying she had told me it needed to go to her work email not her personal one as she could only access her work one.

By this point I was in tear but sent the pictures to the correct account whilst still receiving abusive messages. I’d apparently not sent her the pictures because I hated her. Apparently I thought she was a shit mum and didn’t deserve pictures of her family. No matter how much I tried to explain I had sent them, I was wrong. Even when I realised she wanted them sent to her work email and did that it still wasn’t good enough.

The argument quickly took to Facebook where she tried to embarrass me which she seemed to enjoy doing. The Mr had had enough at this point. He’d seen what she was like when I was living with her. He had also seen how it affected me and how hard I tried to please her. He stepped in and told her to stay away from his family from now on. I haven’t spoken to her since and never want to again. I gave up for good on that day.

Relationships

The Mr has been absolutely amazing and helped me through a lot of issues. He has had to put up with so much because of my dysfunctional upbringing. When things started to get worse with chronic pain on top of everything else it caused a lot of problems. I reverted back to being extremely defensive and told him to leave far too many times. He shared this article with me the other day and I have to say it explains anxiety in relationships so well! I actually felt less guilty for reading it. He doesn’t deserve to go through it & it’s difficult for him just as it is for me but it can’t be helped. I can honestly say the Mr has had a great impact on my life though and has stuck by me through some of my biggest crashes. I have a lot of issues to continue working through which will take time. The Mr has already helped me massively, but it definitely hasn’t been the easiest ride.

Self care

Whilst CBT and the Mr are helping me I need to help myself too. Self care is majorly important for our mental health. Growing up to believe I was selfish means I struggle badly with self care. Usually I have to find ways to justify doing something for me. It has to somehow help someone else too or do some good. I’m slowly working on this though and trying not to feel guilty doing something for myself or something I enjoy. I’ve been conditioned to think nothing but negative thought’s about myself. I hope eventually I can kick these negative thoughts. I’m looking into mindfulness and ways to look after myself & have some me time to help.

Talk about it

Blogging has been a big help, somewhere to rant and ramble when I need to. Uplifting comments & people understanding what I’m going through has helped a lot. I’ve overcome a lot of the years and have a lot more to work through. I still have nightmares that wake the Mr, violently hitting out & screaming in my sleep. Explaining a lot of this and reading up on guilt, shame, anxiety has pointed me in the direction of PTSD. Due to my nightmares & flashbacks the Mr also seems to think I have PTSD.

I’m slowly beginning to realise none of it was my fault. I was a child and not in control at all. I’m beginning to realise it’s not normal for a child to find out about BDSM so young. Seeing people walk around dressed up (or not so dressed up!) and hearing/seeing people being beaten messes your head up. Regardless of the fact it was 2 consenting adults, a child shouldn’t be seeing that.

Positive’s

Growing up in a dysfunctional family  leaves it’s mark for the rest of your life. You are probably wondering how I’ve managed to find positives. I know it’s affected me negatively. I also like to think it’s made me a better person in some ways too though. I’m more open minded than a lot of people I know. I’m the first to admit when I mess something up. I love my girls to the moon & back and make sure I hug and kiss them always. Affection was something we lacked growing up. Cuddles were extremely awkward. We were told it made her feel ‘dirty’. I think I remember being hugged maybe 5 times growing up. I hate how that felt even now and I promised both my girls the day they were born I would smother them in love, hugs & kisses for the rest of their lives!

It was a struggle to believe for a long time the Mr loved me, I didn’t see how he could. Now I know that I’m extremely lucky. He DOES loves me & would do anything for me which he’s proven time after time over the last 8 years. He’s stuck by me and supported me through some rough times even when I’ve been a complete bitch.

Whilst I don’t have a lot of friends those I do have I would do ANYTHING for! I understand when friends are down and need to just be around people even if we don’t talk. I know sometimes people need to rant essays at me and don’t want a real response just something to let them know you are there, you are listening, you do understand they are struggling & they have somewhere to vent.

Getting Help

It’s taken a long time for me to finally reach out properly and get professional help. Always believing I’d be wasting their time! Now I realise just how messed up my head is and how important getting help is. Get a referral if you can. It may take a while but do what you can in the meantime to get help, take time out for you, there are online sites & telephone lines to help anyone struggling too.

If you need someone to talk to DM me on twitter (@lentlesslypurpl) or email me (Relentlesslypurple@gmail.com), I’m usually around somewhere and more than happy to chat. I’ve provided a few sites & numbers below for those in need of help.

If you or someone you know need a little help the numbers & sites below may be useful:

Womens Aid – 0808 2000 247 – Available 24/7

NSPCC – 0808 8005 000 – Available 24/7

Mind0300 123 3393 – Available 9am-6pm Mon-Fri

Heads Together Support – Contains A list of different services available

Sane – 0300 304 7000 – Available 4.30pm – 10.30pm daily

Find Mental Health Services in Your area using NHS Service search

It has taken me the entire week to write & rewrite this post. My anxiety made me worry for so many reasons, I wasn’t sure I was going to post this. Tmore we talk about these things though the easier it is for others to open up and get help too. I’m not hiding anymore.
This is my story in support of #worldmentalhealthawarenessweek

Tooth Brushing Fun With Brush-Baby

The girls have had plenty of tooth brushing fun with Brush-Baby Products we received to review.

Brush-Baby are a company who offer a range of dental care products for babies, toddlers & children. From dental wipes for babies, chewable toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes, toothpaste’s & floss brushes! Whatever you are looking for Brush-Baby will have a suitable product.

Brush-Baby

We received a package from Brush-Baby for the girls to try.

The girls both had different brushes and toothpastes suitable for their ages which they loved. Izzy received the 3-6 years Tutti Frutti Toothpaste & the 3-6 years Kidzsonic toothbrush. She gets on quite well with the toothpaste which surprised me as she can be quite fussy when it comes to flavoured toothpastes. Eva had the 6+ Spearmint toothpaste & 6+ Kidzsonic toothbrush.

They also received sticker charts & stickers to track their progress.

These helped encourage the girls to brush their teeth every morning and night. Both girls have been having plenty of fun using their special brushes and watching the colours change . I love that the Kidzsonic brushes flash for 2 minutes. I don’t have to worry about the girls knowing how long they need to brush their teeth for. It’s been quite nice seeing them get so excited about keeping their teeth clean & healthy.

After trying out the brushes and toothpaste for a few weeks both girls filled their charts completely!

Both girls really liked the designs on the brushes but absolutely loved the LED flashing light and like to turn off the bathroom light to brush their teeth. At one point I did have to hide the brushes in the kitchen unless needed as they loved them so much & kept sneaking off to brush their teeth haha!

 

I couldn’t recommend these products more as the girls have had so much fun brushing their teeth and it’s comforting to know they are will spend a full 2 minutes brushing each time. I have awful teeth due to not brushing properly as a child so it’s nice to know the girls will have healthy clean teeth at my age!

Izzy seems pretty impressed with the products on the back of her completed chart too!

I wish I had discovered Brush-Baby sooner as the dental care products for babies look fantastic, especially the dental wipes! Have you heard of Brush-Baby before? What do you think?

 

I’ve Crashed. I Need A Reboot Button.

I’ve crashed. I need a reboot button. My anxiety has hit me hard today. My brain is all messy and I need to write to get it out. I wasn’t going to post today but it feels like the only thing I can do right now.

Why have I crashed? A simple appointment. Contractors coming in to check the ventilation system. It wouldn’t have been a problem for most people but having yet more worker in set me off badly. We’ve had so many rude workers come in who act like I don’t exist. I know my flat is owned by the council but I do pay rent and service charges, surely that gives me some say in what goes on?

The worker’s who came in luckily were alright this time but the idea of the mess and having to repaint any damage etc. really got to me, If you have been following my blog for a while you may remember we had a Kitchen, Bathroom & Toilet refit. Well the places they needed access to was behind all the lovely freshly painted boards.

For almost a year now my flat has looked DREADFUL. I’m really struggling with it now. I just need everything finished. Luckily the workmen listened and seem to understand a little and worked with us to resolve the issues and get the job done. There was no mess or damage in the end thankfully. Once they left though I was almost in tears. The day has just been too much.

I’d waited since 8am and they finally turned up at 12.40pm then had to return an hour later with more parts. I panicked about when they would be back knowing the Mr was doing the afternoon school run as I’d already knackered myself out doing the morning. Being home on my own with work going on gives me panic attacks.

At our old house a worker decided to threaten to punch the Mr for pointing out his shabby work & requesting it to be redone. I ended up having to lock the doors when he went to his van because his threats & temper scared me so much. I really freaked out as he started banging the doors and shouting so I called the estate agents to get him to leave the property and eventually he did. With it just being me and a toddler Eva at the time I freaked out and locked us in the play room just in case whilst I made the calls & got the Mr to come home. Ever since I’ve panicked about workers coming in.

The Mr was just leaving when they came back so it was a little easier as he let them in when the knock made me jump. They got on with the work and were back out the door quite quickly but as soon as they were I almost cried. I felt dizzy and weak. A full on crash. I hate how anxiety leaves me so exhausted whilst my heart feels like it’s going to jump out of my chest.

I've crashedI’ve crashed

I really need this CBT to start. I’ve crashed again & it’s getting ridiculous. The most simplest stupidest things have me on edge worrying over a million possibilities and feeling ridiculous. It’s hard when you know you are worrying over thing’s that are absolutely ridiculous or impossible but can’t stop. I want my life back. I need to stop worrying about EVERYTHING and having these crashes.

The worst part is I’m finding it hard to chat to people again so I feel even worse. I only rant to 1 or 2 trusted people and over the last week or 2 I’ve even struggled to do that. I keep trying to jump in then panic and feel lost and don’t know what to say so I hide again. I’m sick of this. I am a lively hyper happy person usually but with chronic pain, anxiety & depression fucking me up I don’t feel like me anymore.

Other than waiting for CBT and Pain Psychologist appointment’s I don’t know what to do. I just want to feel like me, I’d like to wake up and make that important call. I want to wake up & not panic Eva will be late when she is NEVER late! I panic about so many stupid little things from the second I wake up & I just want my brain to shut up.

The worst part is today actually wasn’t that bad in the end yet I still feel so upset & drained. I feel ridiculous for getting so worked up over something so simple. I’ve probably left the blokes thinking I am a complete freak but I couldn’t stop my panic attacks. I really wish I could just hit reboot & be me again.

FUCK YOU ANXIETY.

 

A Crazy Few Weeks

It’s been a crazy few weeks after I discovered last Wednesday I was entitled to PIP when I woke up and checked my bank account. A letter followed that afternoon. I didn’t quite know how to feel to be honest so I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog. I was quite relieved to have the back payment and be able to sort a few thing’s we needed but at the same time it made me feel quite low. My Anxiety & Depression have spiralled our of control because of Chronic Pain at the moment that I need this just to help me do simple things and make life a little less stressful!

I’ve found it hard to write or join in properly on twitter again which is quite frustrating but I’m feeling a little bit better about everything now and trying to focus on the positives.

It’s been a struggle to get out and about for month’s thanks to anxiety and pain making my life hell. I’ve been able to get taxi’s over the last week or so, something I usually avoid because of the cost. It’s been quite nice to go out and not hurt instantly from walking there or panicking about missing a bus or train. I have a lot of different appointments coming up with CBT, Psychology etc. It’s difficult having to go alone as the Mr has to look after the girls. Now I know it won’t be half as stressful going alone as I can take a taxi and not be late or stood waiting in the cold for up to 30 minutes!

I’ve been able to sort storage for the girls room so they have no excuse for it to be too messy. Hopefully saving my back from hours of tidying. Something I stress about regularly. I feel a bit guilty as I should have a quick tidy in there every day but I struggle to keep up with it all, hopefully now the girls will know where to put everything and keep it cleaner.

I decided to treat myself a little to try and make me feel a bit better about myself. I had my hair cut last week and then the Mr dyed it for me with my usual Schwarzkopf XXL Live Mystic Purple dye! He even did my brothers hair too which made Alex happy. It’s definitely made me feel a little less-self conscious being purple again.

a crazy few weeks

I bought a dinner table so we can eat properly at a table as a family, great for Family dinner’s! My brother Alex has found our family dinner’s give him a sense of normality and family life he missed out on growing up and he loves that. It’s nice for me too as I rarely see anyone these day’s, now it will be much easier so we can do it more often.

Although our day out this half term didn’t quite go as planned as 360 Play in Basildon were full and had to turn us away, the girls had fun in the arcades at Hollywood Bowl. I was a bit gutted but also quite grateful as the noise in the arcades was bad enough! I felt pretty anxious but with my brother there I managed to stick it out long enough for the girls to have fun.

Martyn & the boys came over this week too for a Greek day, it turned into a not so Greek day with only shields and swords being completed.. me playing with bubble wrap and paint may not have helped haha! It was a rather noisy busy day all round but it was nice to have a catch up and the girls obviously had lots of fun.

Today Eva is off at a Disney Princesses and Princes workshop at the Thameside Theatre run by Creative blast. I surprised her and kept the day a secret right up until the last minute when I pulled her Elsa dress out and explained what she would be doing. She was a little confused at first bless her as she thought I had something important to do haha! The lady at the desk explained what would happen across the day and Eva got excited, even more so when she had her dress on! At the end of the day they are putting on a show which we will go and watch 20 minutes before the end of the day at 4pm. The day only cost £22.50 and it was a fairly small group of kids so I’m sure Eva will have lots of fun getting involved with the others!

 

#VicksTricks & Our Tips To Help Beat Colds

#vickstricksThis post is an entry for the #VicksTricks campaign. I was sent a lovely package to help us out including Vicks First Defence. Very comforting to have on standby in this cold weather!

 

My girls are regularly coming down with some nasty cold or bug especially with Eva at school, it’s completely unavoidable! We’ve all felt a bit rough over the last week so our #VicksTricks package couldn’t have come at a better time. We usually know they are coming down with something when they get a temperature, something 60% of parents agree on according to research carried out by Vicks.  We use infant Paracetamol to help bring down a temperature. When the girls are ill we spend a lot of time snuggled up on the sofa having cuddles.

50% of parents agree irritability & tantrums are another one of the first signs their children are coming down with a cold. My girls do get irritable and rather emotional, it can be difficult to soothe them with just cuddles and other distractions are needed.

Here’s a few ways we keep them amused:

  1. Read books – My girls love being read to when they are poorly and occasionally fall asleep.
  2. Watch films – New or old favourites keep them occupied for an hour or so at a time. (If you’re lucky they’ll fall asleep haha!)
  3. Colouring in – I tend to find their favourite colouring book.

Almost half of parents agree another sign their little one is coming down with something is loss of appetite. It is most definitely a tell-tale sign with my girls as they LOVE food! It can be difficult to get them to eat but we do have a few tricks.

We offer these

  1. A small snack buffet – Kids are even fussier when ill so we keep it small and simple cucumber, cheese, breadsticks/crackers & fruit.
  2. Yoghurt! – No matter how ill my girls are they never turn down a yoghurt.
  3. Fruit smoothies – Tasty and filling!
  4. Warm Chocolate milk – Helps soothe them off to sleep.

We use Vicks vapour rub to help the girls breathe easier and to clear up any nasty coughs. We find tying a muslin square with Vicks on to the bed post helps them sleep much easier too! Did you know it’s great for kids aged two years and older, but it’s proven to work just as well for adults too.

The Mr cooks up his delicious magic soup in the slow cooker for dinner with meat, potatoes, stock, pearl barley, lots of onion & garlic and any other veg we fancy throwing in! It is a magically warming soup which has helped us get through soo many colds over the years. It can be kept over a few days too, it just needs to be warmed by the bowl.

Talking of magic, have you seen this magic #VicksTricks video?

What tips & tricks do you use?

I Thought Being Around Would Make You Feel Worse

I thought being around would make you feel worse. Actual words I never thought I’d hear from a friend. It’s funny what people assume when you have chronic pain. How could having a long time friend message me or visit me make me feel worse than being pretty much ignored for 3 years?

It got me thinking though, is that what people really think when you have chronic pain or any kind of debilitating illness? Do they really think we just literally want to sit alone all day not talking to anyone at all? Do they really believe we will feel worse chatting to someone? As I told my friend, I am still able to chat and have a cuppa. Isn’t that what friends do?

It would be lovely to have a friend round occasionally to distract me from the pain. I live 5 minutes away from our nearest town. I can (slowly) walk to a café or Subway for lunch and a chat. How even sending me messages would make me feel so awful. I’m in pain, not dead!

Yes, I struggle with going out both physically and mentally but it’s a bit different meeting a friend you have known for over 10 years, why on earth wouldn’t I want to at least chat on Facebook or meet up? I chat on twitter a fair bit, admittedly there are day’s I’ll just like everything but even then it’s nice to be included.

To think someone would think it would make me feel ‘angry’ that I couldn’t do stuff like before simply by seeing a friend is honestly ridiculous! If I was in hospital with a broken bone or an infection people would come to check I’m ok so why because I live with this pain day in day out would someone honestly think it was best to just ignore me completely!?

I actually felt worse after that text in all honesty. It came across very much as now she’s hurt herself and lonely I should forget the fact she’s ignored me. Now she’s struggling and needs a friend. Normally I’d be sympathetic but in this situation I simply can’t be. I haven’t been anywhere, I’m always reachable and she regularly drives past and pops up as nearby on Facebook.

If you have a friend with any kind of chronic pain or disability please STAY IN TOUCH!

Go see them, yes it’s hard adjusting but it’s much easier with extra support and a friend by your side. They may cancel plans like going out because they feel rough, that fine. Go buy a ton of yummy junk food or order in a takeaway and sit with them. Watch a film, chat absolute rubbish with them, I guarantee you’ll be making them feel much better and more able to cope with their pain.

 

Lung Infection & Lupus – Worrying About My Baby Brother

I’ve been worrying about my baby brother over the weekend. Most of you will know from some of my posts and tweets Alex is a big part of my life so to get a panicky call from him on Saturday and hearing him seriously struggling to breath left me worrying, A LOT. As well as struggling to breath he’s had these strange ring rashes appear which look very much like Lupus.

Alex had tried and struggled to go to his nearest shop and rung me worried, he didn’t want to walk to the hospital ‘in case it was a waste of time’. He suggested waiting until the morning..  So I put my Mummy voice on and insisted at the very least he call 111 for some advice.

Panicking

As soon as I put my phone down I began to panic, Alex doesn’t have the greatest immune system and has weak lungs from being born prematurely, he also suffers from Asthma. Temperatures were below 0 and I was worried he would get worse but luckily he did what he was told and called 111. An ambulance was sent out to him and the paramedics decided he needed to go to hospital. His heart rate and irregular breathing was concerning them so they insisted he was wheeled to the ambulance instead of walking which he wasn’t too impressed with.

He text me to let me know he was waiting for the ambulance then understandably I didn’t hear from him for over an hour. I spent the entire time unable to concentrate on anything, constantly checking my phone for an update. Eventually Alex let me know he had bloods taken and had ‘things put all over his chest’ (ECG) and he was scared. I tried to distract him whilst he waited, chatting about a documentary I was watching on the London Graveyard’s by London Liverpool Street Station.

After some rambling back and forth he eventually got his results. It turned out Alex has a lung infection and suspected Lupus. He called me as he walked home, struggling to breathe. Hearing him so vulnerable, crying from the pain, being so scared alone was horrible, I just wanted to be there and give him a hug. He was given antibiotics for the lung infection and his NHS number (At last!!!!) so he can finally register with a GP and get a referral to a dermatologist to confirm the suspected lupus.

The two major symptoms are joint and muscle pain and an extreme tiredness that won’t go away no matter how much you rest.

Rashes, depression, anaemia, feverishness, headaches, possible hair loss and mouth ulcers may all be part of the pattern of lupus.

Noticeably, whilst the two major symptoms are invariably present, people with lupus can differ greatly in their symptoms and how the illness can affect them – life-threatening for a few, very mild for some.

We are all extremely worried about his health, he has had all the symptoms that point to lupus for a while now. This worried me just as much as the lung infection. He is my baby brother and I hate that I couldn’t be there with him. Not having a car is becoming more and more stressful, things like this happen and I’m left helplessly worrying instead of being there to look after him. I’ve always tried to look out for my baby brother, I remember holding his tiny little hand through the incubator for the first time. He was so tiny and fragile and spent a long time in NICU so when he finally came home I couldn’t leave him alone.

I fed him & changed him as a baby, I taught him his first words, how to read and write. He learnt his first colours from a song I made up with a row of coloured teddies over his bouncer. Red teddy, yellow teddy, green teddy, blue! He may be my baby brother but I guess in a way he’s always been my baby too which is why I’m so protective of him. To me he’s just like the girls, he’s a huge part of my world and I always feel the need to care for him so times like this are extremely tough.

Brother & Sister forever

Alex and I had an unusual childhood, he was in care from 7/8 years old but this has never stopped us having a strong relationship. We have only lost contact once for a few months when I left home and went into a women’s refuge, I didn’t have any contact details for him but eventually we sorted it and contact resumed. When I had Eva he had been sectioned and was in hospital after several suicide attempts. I knew I had to jump in some how and bring some normality back to his life so I arranged home visits, had visits from Social services etc. to ensure our flat was safe for him.

Since then we have kept in regular contact and gone through a lot together, I know he almost see’s me as a mum to him too and with him not talking to ‘her’ right now means I am pretty much all he has, knowing that and not being there was so difficult. We were brought up to avoid Dr’s and Hospital’s, terrified that anything and everything would end in needles.. no wonder I had a needle phobia! Knowing he was sat in the same A&E room where he sat as a child being told off for having a broken leg worried me, he’s also overdosed several times and ended up there too. He suffers from PTSD and I was terrified this would set him off but distracting him did seem to help.

Going forward

I’m hoping the antibiotics help and his lung infection goes away. I’ll be focusing on getting over to him as much as I possibly can over the next few weeks to help get him registered at a GP. We also need to get his referral for a dermatologist to find out if he does have Lupus and what we can do to keep him as healthy as possible. Lupus is extremely complicated and Alex is understandably terrified as he has no clue what’s going on. He’s had so many of the symptoms that it really is worrying but I intend to look after my baby brother as much as possible!

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Do you know anything about Lupus that may help? Please do leave a comment if you have any experience with Lupus.

ESA & PIP Assessments

Any #Spoonie will tell you ESA & PIP assessments are extremely stressful. Whilst I understand these assessments are in place to stop people abusing the system, it’s tough for someone who genuinely struggles day to day and needs that support to apply in the first place without going through an assessment too.

For example my ESA assessment, it was booked well in advance which left me worrying constantly about how it would go, what I would have to do and the outcome. I am grateful for the outcome as it has meant I have started to focus on my physical and mental health more.

Now I’m sitting here stressing about my PIP assessment which is tomorrow. I was told to apply once my ESA was in place but I was so worried about having to go through another assessment I held off for a while. With things getting worse over the last few months, especially my anxiety and struggling to go out, interact with other’s etc… I decided it was time to apply.

If I pass the assessment it will make things a little easier for us, where we have no car I have to walk or rely on public transport which is honestly both painful and stressful for me. I can do the bus to my brother’s as I know the route, times, costs etc but anywhere else and I panic and stress.

I know the PIP assessments are a lot stricter and it’s making me worry so much, it’s bad enough I will have to sit and tell yet another stranger my weakest points. Knowing I’ll then be judged by that is terrifying. It makes me wonder how many people just like me are sat panicking? How many people who need that extra help are refused? It also makes me worry what kind of impact that will have on someone’s mental health, my own included.

Assessments are draining, my ESA one left me a mess for days & I’m worried I’ll feel the same again after tomorrow. The last week or so has been a struggle anyway which is why I referred myself for CBT. Being discharged from the Pain clinic to Psychology and pain management sessions and going onto Tramadol this week has added to me feeling crappy too. Being told there’s not much more that can be done other than upping medications even more and going through therapy & pain management sessions was terrifying. I am only 26 and it feels like I’ve just been given up on. They may as well have said ‘Nope sorry Ember your just going to have to tough this one out and hope for the best for the rest of your life’.

I know I will learn a lot from CBT and pain management that will help me cope better but it still won’t stop the pain, it won’t mean I’ll cope perfectly 24/7. So it really is just a case of hoping for the best, going through these assessments and hoping I’ll get a little extra help to make day to day living more bearable. If I can even afford Taxi’s to and from my appointments it will help with my anxiety massively knowing I can get straight there and back with little hassle, without trying to drag someone with me when I don’t really have someone who can. The Mr has to do school runs and my appointments are always at awkward times & don’t allow children in so the Mr can rarely come as he has Izzy to look after too. This leaves me feeling very alone, I struggle to remember what I need to do or say so I worry about that too.

Assessment’s really are quite stressful but as I realised with ESA it is worth it if you truly need the help. My ESA decision has meant I’ve focused more on my health this year, I’ve pushed myself to ask for extra help instead of worrying how I’ll fit it in around everything. It’s meant the Mr could stay at home & do the physical jobs I’ve struggled with as well as support me when I’m feeling low and anxious.

If you feel you need the help then don’t let your worries stop you, yes it is stressful but just do it. Take someone with you for support if you can and just be completely honest. You can find ESA Contact numbers here.