Today is a post I have both been really looking forward to sharing with you all but is also the post I’ve been most nervous about! I’ve been debating whether to post this for such a long time, but I figured if I do post it and it helps just one person feel better, braver or more understanding then it’s got to be worth sharing!
Now I know normally my posts are really happy and probably a bit ditzy, but this one is a bit more serious (only a bit more because it is still being written by me after all!) but it does have a serious message running through it which I hope you all appreciate, enjoy and can learn from 🙂
So today I am writing about my experiences of not feeling well and living with some kind of health issue or problem which you know is there but which other people cannot see.
I want to start off by saying, there is nothing seriously wrong with me and I know I could be a lot worse off than I am, however, over the past few years, I’ve found myself feeling isolated and misunderstood about the symptoms I have been experiencing and that for me is the biggest problem of them all.
For background, I am currently an outpatient of the rheumatology department at my local hospital as since September 2013 I have been suffering from what may be a connective tissue disorder. In English, that is basically where the connective tissue (basically every part of our body) attacks itself for some unknown reason, which sounds pretty scary, but actually it’s not that dramatic!
For a while now I’ve suffered from aching and sometimes swollen joints at random (not always the same ones and no correlation to the amount of exercise I do), extreme fatigue/exhaustion, hair loss, skin rashes and unexplained bruising, headaches and the feeling of being unable to concentrate or focus (when I’m feeling really bad it feels like my brain has been replaced with cotton wool because my head just feels so heavy and muddled) and frequent chest/throat infections.
I love to be active and energetic and to always keep myself busy, so more than anything these symptoms of the yet to be diagnosed condition are a nuisance! I visited my doctor several times before being referred to the hospital and have had multiple blood tests and x-rays to ensure I don’t have Arthritis or anything glaringly obvious or serious and since anything really bad has been ruled out I feel kind of like I’ve been abandoned. The response I get at the hospital is that I am 23 years old and that I should be fit and healthy. I eat right, I work out and I don’t smoke or drink so it’s probably nothing majorly serious. The last piece of advice I was given is that I should rest more and swap exercising (something I thought it was recommended we did more of) for doing nothing at home and to ensure I get at least one full day of rest at the weekend.
Let’s just recap – I am 23 not 83 – shouldn’t I be able to work all week and party all weekend if that is what I wanted to do? Aren’t these the years or my life where I should be able to enjoy myself and make the most of my youthful energy? Apparently not!
I know I have a particularly full diary, I hear it almost daily from the people who are closest to me, but this is nothing new! From way back when I was at school I would frequently do a whole day at school, followed by several hours of gymnastics training and when I was old enough to work I would do all of the afore mentioned activities and found time to work three jobs and still have a social life, so how comes now I am less busy, less active and look after myself better, am I struggling more than ever?
These symptoms come and go, I seem to have peaks and troughs of how I feel and currently (and the reason why I’m writing this post now) is that once again I am not feeling well. This is the third week of feeling downright exhausted and achey and muddled. There is no warning as to when I’m not going to feel well again, there are no correlations with activites I do or times of year, it just comes and goes whenever it wants. It interrupts my blogging schedule because there are days where I feel like I literally don’t have the strength to get out of bed in the morning and when I do finish a full days work, I come home and go straight to sleep. I’ll sleep all night and wake up and feel like I haven’t slept at all. It stops me going to the gym, it impacts my ability to concentrate and deliver at work and worst of all it makes me not feel like myself 😦
So far this post has all just sounded like a big moan, which I hate, so let me tell you why I wanted to share all of this with you! For me, what I have taken from this whole situation is that some things are sent to test us and that there is nothing which cannot be overcome with a bit of positivity. Feeling like I feel some days, I can totally see how it can be so easy to fall into a depression as it’s so much easier in life to focus on the bad, as often they are the most prevalent in our minds. However, I use this as a reminder to myself of all the good things I have and should be thankful for! What is a bit of a joint pain and sleepiness when I have a job I love, a gorgeous bunch of friends and family and am fortunate enough to live in the UK with all the amenities we have access to, including the NHS, which just isn’t available anywhere else?
As well as reminding me of all the things I should be thankful for, it also got me to thinking! I know so many people, and I have been guilty of it myself before, of judging people based on appearances or initial interactions, I think it’s just human nature to do so. However, how can we tell just by looking at someone whether they are suffering from a chronic illness or mental ill health? What if someone is judging them based on their perceived “lack of willingness” to partake in a conversation and thinking they are being rude? Maybe they just have other things on their mind, are in pain or just too tired to focus! So please spare a thought for all those silently managing their conditions whatever they may be, and please use this a reminder to ensure that you never judge someone on their off days or their quirks! Get to know a person before making a judgement and even then be nice as you never ever know what they may be going through!
I know lots of you readers and fellow bloggers suffer from depression, anxiety, stress and chronic conditions like this, so I really hope that this inspires you to open up about them and share your experiences with any invisible conditions and also helps you keep your chin up on the darker days! And if you are lucky enough to be completely healthy and happy, I really hope it helps you put perspective on what is most important in life and how to ground yourself to ensure you are being the best person you can be 🙂
If you enjoyed this I’d love it if you could subscribe, share, like and comment on this! Like I said, this was the hardest post to publish so the more love the better!
Lots of love, Leanne xx