There have been a few awareness days/weeks recently; Depression awareness, mental health awareness and one which I was not aware of, and have never spoken about, is birthmark awareness day on 15 May.
I was born with a light brown birthmark on my right side just under my ribs. It never bothered me and most of the time it remained hidden under my clothes. My mother had a nasty birthmark on her back which needed to be checked regularly for changes in appearance in case it was pre-cancerous and apparently my brother was born with a naevus which was removed at birth. It follows then that birthmarks appear to run in the family.
I was unaware of this until I reached the tender age of 12, and a map of the UK appeared on my left knee. I went to the Dr thinking that it may be an allergic rash and spent many months treating it with various creams and potions. None of them worked and after about two years I was referred to a skin specialist who confirmed that it was a “birthmark”
I was a little confused as I had not had this scar on my knee since birth, but was told that they can appear in puberty when hormones kick in. Damn those hormones!
During my youth when I played a lot of sport, people would often comment on my birthmark thinking that it was a recent scar from an accident and I think they were more embarrassed than I was when I told them it was a permanent fixture.
Now I never wear mini-skirts, although some clothing does creep just above the knee, leaving the birthmark exposed. So far, no one has questioned it but it is only a metter of time.
I have been very open and honest about my depression and chronic fatigue and when I read about the birthmark awareness day I felt I had to own up to mine 🙂 It does affect what I wear and I am conscious of it everyday but at least I can hide it to some extent. Some people can’t and have to live everyday with stares and questions. A birthmark doesn’t change someones beauty and talent. It doesn’t and shouldn’t make any difference at all so good on those who openly celebrate birthmark awareness day. I know I will in future.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend the pilot presentation entitled the “50 Shades of Women” put on jointly by Kate Nash Associates and EDIT Development. The workshop is “designed for disabled women from all backgrounds, ages and stages of their lives and designed specifically for women in management grades.”
The overarching goal is to help disabled women “deliver work more effectively as disabled women” and we can expect to :
- “….overcome self-limiting beliefs and behaviours…”
- “…start to find new solutions to old problems”
- “Gain some insight into our strengths and development areas in the workplace…..” and
- have some practical ideas to start using immediately”
The workshop was amazing and I came away inspired, motivated, hopeful, happy in my skin and thrilled to have met 30 women who I can add to my “tribe.” We all related to each others stories and health conditions and disabilities. We supported each other and we understood exactly what makes us tick. To be in an environment like that it a privilege and an occasion to celebrate. The positivity has stayed with me all day and nothing could have spoilt what was shaping up to be a typical 9-5 work experience.
I took time to share some of my experiences with a colleague at work, with whom I collaborate on disabled matters, and it cheered him up too! There’s nothing like a bit of positive encouragement and acknowledgement that although we have our additional “difficulties”, this should be no barrier to FABULOUSNESS.
In many ways I had let myself forget what I am good at; what I enjoy and actually, what I am excellent at. Although my perception of me is somewhat tempered by self-criticism and doubt, the feedback I get from others is overwhelmingly the opposite and I am, apparently, an amazing role model and inspirational person. Hey, I need to develop this idea and start to believe it otherwise I could lose the opportunity to help others overcome their barriers and fulfill their potential. Nothing would make me more fulfilled than taking on that role.
Of course I have a day job which I love. I need to find a way to combine the two without jeopardising my mental health. This will be challenging but as I discovered yesterday, far from impossible.
I learned so much yesterday that I cannot possible share it all in one post, but share it I will over a number of articles. For today, have faith and believe that you can achieve, you can be an equal and certainly the world is starting to take a more positive approach to people with mental health conditions.
We know that we are just as capable, loyal, creative, determined, resilient and have a lot to give. Thankfully at last I see others believing that too!
As if we haven’t had enough rain here in the UK, yet more is on its way and it is pouring down as I write. Sadly, for many people in the South and West of the country the wet weather is causing much misery and I feel for those who have been flooded out of their homes and businesses yet again. I cannot imagine what such upheaval would be like and I am very grateful that we don’t live in a flood area.
For me the wet weather means a crafty day indoors and I’m sure that I will be able to turn my hand to something. I feel another page of my nieces wedding scrapbook coming on and I wonder if the gorgeous Kaisercraft papers which I ordered on Monday will turn up in the post today? Here’s hoping they do when hubby’s out so I can steal them into my stash without him noticing! Bless him, as soon as I “open my shop” as he calls it, he finds a friend to visit for a few hours, leaving me to spread my stuff all over the dining/kitchen surfaces. He hates mess and is better off out of my way than watching me wreak havoc with his über tidy kitchen.
Two days back at work and I am already noticing the fatigue brought on by the extra travelling but this will improve as I get back into routine, lose some weight and continue with my healthy eating programme. It seems to be working and so far I am 3lbs down on my starting weight. That seems a lot to lose in a short time but it’s how my body reacts and I know that next week it will be on full alert to conserve energy and my weight loss will slow down or come to a halt for a week. I am prepared for this which is just as well as it can be very demoralising to lose weight one week and nothing the next when you have been soooooo good. I have learned not to take much notice of weekly weight loss but look at longer periods like a month-6 weeks. If you keep going you will notice a trend and individuals will have their own ups and downs as their bodies adjust. It’s also a lot to do with the hormone cycle and again, everyone is different in this respect so week-on-week it can change dramatically and affect weight loss.
I find however that it’s easier to keep to my new habits when in the daily work routine than at home where temptation lurks in every corner. The first weekend is always difficult but my determination and resolve is still intact and I will get through to Monday with no blips.