Things that have definitely NOT helped my recovery from glandular fever and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

28.1.17

In the early days when I was feeling run down and experiencing flu-like symptoms, but I didn't know why, my crucial mistake was not resting and sleeping enough. I pushed myself for the sake of my job, and that got me nowhere. I stayed up late to see my boyfriend after his shift work, and that got me nowhere either. I tried to exercise because I hated the thought of not doing anything physical, and that made me more poorly. My body was struggling to keep going and I didn't keep still or sleep for long enough to give it chance to fight off the virus. My self-care routine was non existent. My stress levels were what can only be described as chronic, after the 6 months previous which had involved moving house twice, calling off my wedding, moving to a new city and starting a qualification on top of a full time job. This was the IDEAL time for me to start taking care of myself but I did the opposite; pushing myself further and further into a black hole of doom! 

Then when I got my blood test results which showed I had the Epstein Barr virus I made the mistake of relying on information from the NHS website which says most people get over it in a few weeks. In the last two years I have come across a dozen people who have had glandular fever and not one of them got over it in a matter of weeks. It was more like years of recovery. My GP didn't advise me to rest or explain that other aspects of my life (stress) could prevent me from getting better, but I really believe that if I had fully rested and relaxed my body and mind in those early stages of the virus I could have potentially saved myself from developing CFS. Seriously, if you're reading this and you've got the flu or GF then just get yourself to bed immediately. Drink 3 litres of water a day, force smoothies and soups down you, have lots of bubble baths, listen to audio books, meditate, stick your head into any patches of sun that appear, and be kind to yourself. I wish I could go back in time and show the old me this blog post. 


After I had been ill on a daily basis for 6 months (think of it like having the flu and a hangover simultaneously, not knowing when it will clear off, never feeling rejuvenated by sleep, and having to battle through a 35 hour working week) I was going out of my mind with worry. I took to the internet to find out if anyone was in the same boat as me. Instead of finding motivational stories of recovery I found forums full of people who had been experiencing CFS for 10 years+. I would spend hours and hours reading about these people and how they were in wheelchairs, stuck in bed, and felt like prisoners in their own bodies, and it made me massively depressed. In those delicate early days of my CFS diagnosis I should not have been reading those forums, but they have a way of sucking you in. I became obsessed with googling my different symptoms and each search I made pushed me further and further from my path of hope and recovery.

When I was living with my ex partner I felt like such a burden to him and a let down in general. We should have been going on holidays and days out, saving up for our next house and all the things that you do in your early 30s. My illness meant everything was on hold until I got better. This meant that I was constantly heaping massive amounts of pressure onto my shoulders to speed up my recovery. I would go to bed each night, praying that I would wake up and feel human again. Then each morning when I woke and my symptoms were still there I would feel upset, and so the cycle went round and round. As my mum frequently and quite rightly reminds me, I didn't get into this pickle overnight so I'm not going to get out of it overnight. It's going to take time, patience, and avoiding additional stress by not worrying about things that are out of my control.

For a long time I hated my body. I would literally tell it that I hated it. It had let me down by failing to function like everyone else and I felt trapped. It took me a long time to realise that actually I had let my body down by not taking good enough care of it. And even though I felt poorly, my body was doing everything in its power to recover, fix itself, build up energy, and I had to be thankful for that. Once I changed my way of thinking I started to love my body. I even love all my lumpy bumpy un-toned bits, because it's the only body I have got and I am never going to take it for granted again. Everything I eat and drink and do for my body now is to serve it, and not to abuse it. 

When you're bed bound, housebound or spending more time resting you suddenly have a lot more free time on your hands and it's incredibly boring doing nothing. So the temptation to browse the internet, read the news, check Facebook and spend hours looking at different hashtags on Instagram becomes rather great. When you're not in a good place mentally and physically it's definitely a good idea not to check Facebook where you will be confronted with people doing things you can't. Reading the doom and gloom of the news will also slowly chip away at any reserves of energy you have so it's a good idea to temporarily swap the type of news you stay up to date with. I found that reading about animal cruelty cases and watching graphic videos that were popping up on my news feed, and getting upset about them, would make me feel physically unwell. So I vowed that I would get back on my crusade to make the world a better place when I am fighting fit again. Deleting my Facebook recently has been one of the best things I've ever done. Instead fill your time by doing things that fill you with joy; reading or listening to audiobooks, crafts, watching a box set, baking or cooking (if you can manage it), pampering, colouring, all that good stuff. Even if you feel like you're at deaths door, try to do something that makes you feel happy.

I used to focus on all the things I couldn't do. I can't work. I can't go for long walks or exercise. I can't hold a book up for longer than 15 minutes. I can't do anything strenuous unless I schedule a full 48 hours of rest afterwards. Negative Nancy, that was me. Now I focus on all the things I CAN do. I can manage gentle yoga sequences and that also makes me feel relaxed, double whammy! I can do as much meditation as I want from the comfort of my bed and that makes me feel fantastic. I can go on short walks with the dogs and, because they're so slow, stop to take in my surroundings as often as I want to. I can do jobs around the house which I definitely couldn't manage this time last year. Progress is progress, no matter how slow. 

Whether you're long term ill, post viral or maybe you're just feeling run down I really hope this helps you to make some positive changes. 

Life lately (breaking up and re-building).

24.1.17

We broke up...

I have tried to write this blog post several times and I'm only just in the frame of mind where I can sit down and share it with you guys. Excuse the blunt delivery but there's no other way to say it really, is there. 

A couple of weeks before Christmas my boyfriend asked me for some space. I turned up on my parents doorstep with a suitcase, the dogs, and an ugly crying face, but I was 90% sure we would sort things out after a bit of time apart. Our 18 month relationship had faced some rough rides with my health problems and losing my job, and the pressures he felt as a result of that, along with disappointment after disappointment of not being able to carry out plans/holidays/special occasions as we wanted to. But we were madly in love and made each other happy, and we were both on the same page that we were going to be together forever so this was just a small bump in the road, so everything was going to be alright, right? Wrong. I guess we all have a limit and his had been reached. So it wasn't true love for ever and ever, as I thought it was.

For 30 days straight I cried pretty much all day, every day. I didn't eat or sleep. I felt like I would never be able to smile or be happy again. But time is a great healer and 6 weeks on I feel a little better and brighter, and I know things will fall into place for me because bad things lead to good, always.

The hardest thing is not being able to move on because of my health. Break ups are usually the time to get stuck into your job or a new qualification, get your hair cut, get a new place to live, go to the gym and get fit, channel your energy into new hobbies and go out on the town with your girl friends. So to have chronic fatigue syndrome which has limited my ability to exercise, work, see friends, live independently, and do normal things like everyone else, has been quite frustrating. But I have to accept that this is where I am right now, and I have to build up my health, mind, strength and confidence before launching back into the real world again. For now I will be taking things steady and giving myself a break.


Books I have read in 2017 (1-4).

22.1.17

#1 The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart by Anna Bell - 2.5/5

I ended 2016 and started 2017 with something I thought would be easy to read and familiar, to ease me into my year of reading more; a good old "chick lit" book. I used to devour this genre of books but they just don't seem to hit the spot with me anymore. Perhaps because I'm older, wiser and a bit cynical to the "happy after ever" storyline ;)

The clue is in the title; the storyline follows Abi who is dumped and, upon finding her ex boyfriend's bucket list, decides to tackle each item on his list in an attempt to win him back. I really enjoyed the concept of the bucket list; it was motivating to show how you can reinvent yourself after a break up and use the time to try new things but, honestly, I disliked the main character too much to be interested in what happened to her. "Don't Tell The Groom" by the same author is a much more enjoyable read which I would recommend over this one.

#2 The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey - 4/5


The Snow Child was recommended to me by my sister and I didn't really know what to expect, but I loved it. It's the story of Jack and Mabel, an elderly childless couple living in a remote cabin in Alaska in the 1920s. This book is so descriptive that it's incredibly easy to imagine every little detail of the story, from the changes in the seasons and how bitterly cold and bleak the winters are, to the array of wild animals living in the forest, and the snow child herself.

I won't spoil the storyline but I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the way it was written and I suggest you pop it on your reading list. 


#3 The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan 3.5/5

I was drawn to this book firstly because it was 99p on my Kindle and secondly because I am really interested in gratitude and how we can change our outlook by seeing everything with a positive twist. I keep my own gratitude diary as part of my recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome and in an attempt to reprogram the way I look at life in general, so I wondered how it can have an impact on people's lives.

When I first started this book I struggled with it. I couldn't identify with the writer at all, with her happy marriage, smart kids, and a comfortable lifestyle, it seemed so far removed from where I am in life at this moment in time. She certainly has a lot more to be grateful for than I do. However as I persevered I found the book really interesting, especially the parts where Janice meets up with different professors and people who have researched and done studies using gratitude, and they can prove that it does make people happier, more productive, healthier, and so on.

The book is split into chapters with topics on health, relationships, children, and work, each one being a real eye-opener into how Janice's new found gratitude (even when things were going badly) could improve her life.

#4 How To Be Good by Nick Hornby - 1/5

This is the first Nick Hornby book I've read, plucked from my book stash at the last minute before the boxes went off to the charity shop. I expected good things and I was sorely let down! The storyline was so random, the characters were irritating and the ending was disappointing. I only persevered as I don't like to be a quitter. 

It's annoying when that happens isn't it? But onwards and upwards, I have a massive pile of books to get through! 

5 good things (new friends and old favourites).

12.1.17

It would be a fair statement to say that December and January have been far from "good" but I am trying this new thing where I focus on the positives instead of the negatives so with that being said, here are 5 good things from recent weeks.

1) A cup of tea and a good chat with an online-turned-real-life friend (hi Lauren!) We have been in touch for a while now, keeping each other up to date with the ups and downs of our lives/love lives and we finally met on Tuesday. I had such a lovely time; I could have chatted all afternoon! 

2) Moving to a house right next to a canal. This means my walks have become a lot more visually pleasing! Tonight I went for a quick stroll and the sky was the most beautiful colour, the ducks were out, I was wrapped up warm but the wind wasn't too cold on my nose, and I felt really grateful that I had somewhere like that on the doorstep to lift my spirits.


3) The return of the Undateables on the telly. Without a doubt one of my all time favourite things to watch! 

4) Finally getting round to seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. I took myself off for a cinema date for one, and left with a new appreciation of Eddie Redmayne. He's rather lovely isn't it? Aside from enjoying him I also really enjoyed the film.

5) Getting back into reading. This time last year I could barely find the energy to hold a book up or the space in my brain to process the words. I might not be where I want to be health-wise but I am getting through books at a fast pace and that is amazing progress. Also I forgot how much I love reading!

Goals / gentle reminders for 2017.

8.1.17

Long time no speak! I hope you all had a good Christmas? I took a blogging break throughout December and it was nice to step away from it for a short while, but now I am raring to start writing again. December turned out to be one of the most eventful months of my life, but more on that another time. Today I'm talking goals! 

I keep reading that you shouldn't share your goals because they're more likely to fail, but mine are more like gentle reminders of things I need to see written down in black and white, to help me stay focused and positive. 

- 2017 is going to be all about me, myself and I. I spent the whole of last year worrying about how my ill health was affecting other people to the point where I was walking on eggshells, becoming very withdrawn and negative which was potentially delaying my recovery even further.  I don't want to feel bad or guilty for the changes I have had to make to my diet, sleep routine, habits, and life in general because essentially they're all going to help me live my life to the full again! I also don't want to beat myself up about being negative and not always being the best person I could be last year, because it has been an enormous struggle and I really have done my best to battle through it, despite what other people think.  

- Spend more time writing on my blog and sharing what's going on in my life with you guys. This year is going to be a big one for me with lots of changes and I want to talk about it all (warts and all!). There are going to be ups and downs, highs and lows, and that is the rollercoaster of life. I used to resist it and now I embrace it because honestly, the last few years of my life have been crazy / stressful / amazing / happy / sad, and everything in between. If you want to read a blog of a 30-something who has her life together then you are most definitely in the wrong place. 


- Meet some of my blog friends. When I first started blogging in 2009/2010 I went to quite a few events all over the country. I remember being nervous but it never stopped me going and enjoying myself. These days the thought of doing the train journey alone fills me with terror. In some ways I am more confident than I was back then but when it comes to meeting new people I am definitely a scaredy cat. I don't know how or why this came to be but I know that I don't like it and I want to change it. I want to escape my comfortable little bubble which actually isn't so comfortable anymore. 

- Stop putting so much pressure on myself to go to bed and wake up "fixed". As my mum quite rightly pointed out I didn't get into this pickle overnight so it's not going to clear off overnight. I have come to realise that I put humongous amounts of pressure on myself to get better by a certain day or event, and then I'm constantly disappointed when it doesn't happen and so the vicious cycle continues. When I sit and really think about it I have made huge progress since this time last year and if I keep going it will lead to good things. And boy when the day comes that I feel better I am going to be one happy chappy! 


What are your goals for this year?