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Fighting negativity


negativity

Fighting negativity takes a lot of hard work, discipline and energy. I don’t want to be negative and I chastise people who are. I talk them through the reasons why they feel that way, challenge them to find the evidence to prove their opinion is well-founded and try to motivate and encourage them to think differently.

So why can’t I follow my own advice and lead by example? Who knows but it must have something to do with a low self esteem coupled with the expectation that I should be Wonder Woman and be able to cope on my own with anything and everything that life throws at me.

I am getting better at asking for help but that makes me feel worse not better. I am starting to come to terms with my limitations brought about by my constant fatigue and lack of mental and physical energy but this in itself is very depressing for me. Compromise, moderation and “second” have never been in the dictionary but they are highlighted in my latest version.

It is an especially difficult time for me at work at the moment. Not just because we are working up against set deadlines but because there is so much I would have done better had I known what to focus on. The trouble is, until I experienced this cycle I wouldn’t have known and therein lies the frustration.

Until I look at it in a more evidence-based way and realise that, overall it hasn’t been so bad. Yes, it could have been a lot better and I would have loved to have been at the top of my game but realistically, taking everything into consideration I got through and next year I have an amazing opportunity to show a dramatic improvement. I will know what is expected, I will change my ways (many of which are dictated by my illness but need to be challenged) and I will feel much more comfortable when I am back in control.

Easy to say, not so easy to carry out but I will. There is nothing to stop me and if I manage my illness properly, I will stay the course.

A very steep learning curve can be demoralising and depressing when you feel out of control but analysed in light of realistic evidence, it can be beneficial and help you develop both as a person and professional.

I need to accept my limitations and plan accordingly. Turn negativity into positivity and learn from my experience.

Isn’t this what life’s all about?

Are you mentally strong?

I found this on Pinterest today and when I read through them it made me think. I don’t practise some of these things that “mentally strong” people do. Maybe I should start. Have a read and let me know how you get on…..

Mentally strong

Brain Fog Day

out-of-order

Brain Fog is a common symptom of ME/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and it can strike with deadly effect out of the blue. It did. Today. To me.

I knew as soon as I came round this morning that I was in trouble. I sat up in bed and my head felt like a ball of cotton wool. Every time I moved my head, even slightly, I felt dizzy and disoriented. I couldn’t think what day it was.

It slowly dawned on me that today is Monday, a work day, and I needed to get ready. Driving through thick fog is hazardous and slow work. It can confuse a person very quickly and is claustrophobic. As I slowly drank a very welcome cup of tea I gathered my thoughts and calmed down.

Brain Fog causes me panic at first as it throws my routine into confusion and leaves me having to remember what Plan B is. It can also make you think that you are developing a degenerative disease such as dementia. I hope not, but I did come across a quote from a Doctor today which is mildly comforting; ” Brain Fog can cause you to forget where you left your keys. Dementia renders you unable to remember what the keys are for”.

So far, so good.

On days like this my Plan B looks something like this;

keep-calm-and-do-less-257x300

  • Stay calm and accept that today is going to be more difficult than usual.
  • Try not to put extra pressure on myself by trying to perform at normal levels.
  • Don’t make any important decisions or provide technical advice without getting a second opinion.
  • Stay close to home and as quiet and undisturbed as possible.
  • Continue with the day but slowly and surely. Just keep swimming even if it’s against the tide.
  • Be patient and kind to myself.
  • Ask for help if needed.

Brain Fog is exacerbated by noise, crowds, activity, stress, bright lights and stress. I couldn’t face taking 4 trains to work and back so I worked locally instead. This was a good move and after a relatively peaceful morning my head started to clear at around 3pm. I feel much better this evening and hopefully I will have a better nights sleep-something which is critical if Brain Fog is to be contained.

Brain Fog is debilitating and distressing but there is a lot I can do to help myself recover as quickly as I can so normal service can be resumed.

Tomorrow is another day.

brain power

The Wedding scrapbook

I have now completed 30 pages for my nieces wedding scrapbook and have had to buy another album to put them in. I am going to limit myself to 52 pages in total which, by the time I’ve added photos, journaling, tags and the matching embellishments, will make a couple of really lovely mementos of the day. No two pages are the same colour or design although I have used the same paper in some of them.

It is a difficult task to do as each page takes a while to design, plan out and complete. I wanted to get as much done before the wedding as possible so that when I get the photos of the day, I can finish off the pages quite quickly in weeks and not months. If I had left it until after the wedding, it may have been a Christmas 2014 present instead of the wedding present it is.

I don’t really want to use any of the official photos as they will already have those presented to them in a formal wedding album. Instead I will be taking lots of photographs myself and will try to capture the more informal and personal moments during the day.

I have planned the scrapbook so that there is plenty of space for journal entries, both visible and hidden behind photos, in mini-envelopes and on tags. I have also tried not to take the emphasis away from the photos and journal entries by making the pages so full of embellishments that they draw the attention. It is a difficult balance to achieve and only time will tell whether I have been successful. I like to include lots of surprises in the scrapbook and the happy couple will find lots of them when they come to explore each page. That’s the fun of scrapbooking, you can include all sorts of very personal touches like mini-letters, words of wisdom, poems, favourite things etc etc and it is great fun for me contacting everyone for their contribution.

Scrapbooking is a great activity for me especially when low on energy and fighting fatigue. I get lost in the design and creativity, it is very relaxing and I like to feel that I have done something constructive. It is also a hobby that you can leave for a while and pick up at a later date with ease.

I recommend it!

Breakfast for supper

Breakfast Like A King copy

I need to lose weight. That’s a fact and after a year of almost total physical sloth I have gained more unwelcome padding. Doc Fraser is concerned about the weight gain because the more I weigh, the harder I have to work to lug myself around and this inevitably adds to the fatigue. You only have to try to carry a few kilos of potatoes across the car-park to know that carrying extra weight is hard work. The blubber has to go.

The problem with chronic fatigue syndrome is that you need to pace yourself carefully and to start with any exercise has to be gentle and low-impact.

“Delayed post-exertion malaise” is a common feature of chronic fatigue and is something I have suffered from for many years. When I feel good, I go into denial and exercise as “normal” but I am clearly a very slow learner or I am missing the Pavlov-Dog gene as I overlook the connection of overdoing activity with my crashes. This leads to prolonged periods when I am unable to do any form of exercise as I am exhausted, tearful, often bed-bound and severely depressed.

My new approach therefore is to lose weight primarily through healthy eating, moderating portion size and gentle exercise to help shift those stubborn pounds. Patience has never been my strongest feature but I am determined to be patient and not get disheartened if the weight comes off in pounds and halves. I will keep going, slowly but surely so that I develop a different lifestyle rather than adopt a short-term approach for a particular event. They say it takes about 66 days to form a habit so I will return to this post on 7 March to give you an update!

lose half a pound a week

In the meantime, my working and travel schedule is not conducive to a 3-meal-a-day regime and I am adapting my eating habits to fit in with healthy eating guidance and my long days. This week I am trying to follow the adage, “Breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince and dinner like a pauper” so that instead of eating fruit for breakfast, I swap my meals around so that I have “breakfast” for dinner and eat my fruit on the train home. This serves two purposes as it means I eat only a snack in the evening, and furthermore, I am eating much earlier than if I wait until I get home at 8pm.

This will also help me with my insomnia as eating a large meal late at night can cause a sugar-surge a few hours later closely followed by a sugar-drop, which will not only wake me up, but also keep me awake.

Today, trying to swap some carbs for extra protein I stuck to scrambled eggs for breakfast, baked potato, baked beans and salad for lunch and fruit for my evening snack. I have to say that I don’t feel hungry so maybe this will work for me. it looks like this will work for me!

It took too long

I have had a history of clinical depression for 33 years. Symptoms of my depressive episodes, apart from the huge dip in mood, include severe fatigue, alternating between insomnia (unable to sleep) and hypersomnia (sleeping too much), and changes in eating habits. Focus and concentration are reduced to zero and  I become tearful, irritable and often suicidal. All common symptoms of depression.

My psychologist, who has known me now for over 20 years, was the first person to analyse my symptoms and their recurrence, recognising a pattern of high levels of activity/stress (good and bad) followed by post-exertional malaise. In other words, when I felt well I worked my butt off, and then suffered the consequences when I was laid low by total exhaustion, mental and physical.

ME/chronic fatigue syndrome was his diagnosis. This was backed up my by GP and medical history so that now it all makes sense.

I can’t believe however that I have so many symptoms common to CFS sufferers that it remained misdiagnosed for so long but then not many Doctors/physicians/GPs want to diagnose ME/CFS as it is clearly a difficult and controversial decision to make with no apparent “cure” to offer the unlucky patient.

Looking at my medical history I have a number of ailments/illnesses which are common to ME/CFS sufferers. They include;

Asthma-first attack aged 3

Hay fever (so severe that I had to have steroid injections to stem the symptoms and have just finished a 3-year course of immunology injections to relieve the symptoms permanently)

EPV-Glandular fever after repeated bouts of tonsilitis. Tonsils were finally removed when I was 22 years old.

Rubella (German Measles)

Chickenpox x 2

Shingles (Cocksackie virus) twice-first attack aged 12

Allergies and food intolerance

Repeated bladder infections operation required

Yeast infections-Candida

This is to name but a few of those I can remember. It is strange to think now that the physical and mental/emotional symptoms were treated separately and that certain connections were not made. Perhaps we need a more sophisticated computer system within the NHS which can analyse symptoms and make the connections for GPs to consider? Is this possible?

I’m not sure but if those connections had been made earlier I would have managed my health much more effectively and I would have had choices. Choices, in any walk of life, are a luxury and I would have welcomed them with open arms. To have a choice is to have control. I would have liked the option to control my illness a long time ago and maybe I would be more content with my reduced activity levels now.