Tag Archive | chronic fatigue

114 Days of freedom-day 7

Already one week down on my 16-week break from work! How quickly time flies when you are enjoying yourself so the saying goes.

I certainly enjoy having the time to indulge my favourite activities; walking Jasper, making quilts and, at the moment, sleeping.

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Jasper heping with mummy’s quilt!

One thing I have learned about chronic fatigue and how it affects me is that my body is not very good at dealing with adrenalin. It doesn’t matter whether the adrenalin -rush is the result of stress or excitement, (a) I seem to produce a lot of it and (b) it hangs around and upsets my equilibrium for some weeks afterwards.

I finished the high-intensity cycle of my seasonal work at the end of January, and am still winding down 3 weeks later. In previous years when I was much less self-aware, I would have fed off this adrenalin and continued the high-energy activities it promotes. This in turn would lead to a crash weeks if not months down the line. These days, being aware of this potential reaction I make a concerted effort to relax and not do  more than necessary so conserving my energy and protecting my equilibrium.

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The beginnings of a disappearing 16 square quilt

Since finishing work, I have been able to control what I do during the day, but my sleep pattern has been disturbed. Short periods of deep sleep for 2-3 hours are followed by hours of agitated waking, my mind racing with ideas and plans for the next day.

Going forward if my sleep doesn’t settle down soon, I will take my prescription medication to help me stay asleep for a good 6-7 hours instead of waking every few. In the meantime, I just keep trying to rest and relax in the hope that sleep returns to normal. My GP tells me that sleep patterns are the last thing to sette down after a relapse so hopefully it won’t take long.

Still mind

114 days of Freedom

Freedom

I can’t believe that my last post was 3rd January. Where have those (almost) two months gone?

ActuallyI can tell you- January is my busiest month at work as a tax return reviewer. The UK tax return deadline is 31 January, and whilst many people say they will send us their information earlier, they never do so a large proportion get prepared, reviewed and submitted to good old HMRC in January. In fact, this year I was on “Midnight Duty” on Saturday 31 January and was still sorting out problems at 11.55pm!

So that was January. The first two weeks of February were spent tidying up loose ends before I started my 4-month break from work lasting until 8th June. A total of 114 days of freedom.

This is day 12 of aforementioned 114 and I am just starting to come round from a very busy period at work. I am on an annualised hours contract which, in simple terms, means that I work my butt off for 8 months during the busy time of the year, then have 4 months off during the quiet time. This works for the business and it sure works for me as it gives me an opportunity to recover my equilibrium and really relax properly for the first time ever in my working career. For someone who has periodic bouts of depression exacerbated by fatigue, this is an amazing arrangement and it’s a long time since I have felt so well mentally.

So far I have spent my time relaxing and being creative which is my natural bent but which I have to suppress during busy times as I just don’t have the time to indulge my inclinations. More about this in a later post.

In the meantime I am feeling much more communicative now that I have rested my brain and hope that I can resurrect my blog for at least the remainder of my “leave.”

2015

 

My new life

Jasper at 5 weeks

Jasper at 5 weeks

It’s been a while I know but I haven’t been idle. Far from it. I have been busy taking advantage of an amazing opportunity which has come my way out of the blue, but very welcome nonetheless. It’s funny how things just click together when the time is right and after a few years of long, depressing days, GCSE’s and A Level exams for my son Will, crippling fatigue and a 4-hour daily commute my luck has turned and I am on the cusp of a brand new life, and hopefully, a brand new me. Or at the very least, I get my old me back.

Firstly, I came back from my 3-week holiday in Iran back in July full of beans and determination to be positive and accepting of my illness. After two days of the dreaded 4-hour commute I was on my knees. I hadn’t realised just how exhausted I was before my holiday, as much mentally as physically, and how much the daily grind of the two-train-each-way journey to and from work ground me down.

I came home and in desperation posted on Facebook that I had had enough and needed a job which “feeds the soul, not sucks it dry.” In response to that post, a friend in another office suggested a role that would enable me to work from home. I couldn’t believe it and so I checked whether it was a truly viable option. Yes it was and (to cut a 3-month story very short) my new contract is finalised and I start my new role working from home on 1 October. What a difference that will make you cannot believe. I am still in denial but maybe after I have been up to Glasgow,where my new team is based, for two days next week, the reality will sink in.

One of the best things about working from home however is that I can, at last, have a dog. I love all animals and would have a house full if time and costs were no object, but I miss having a dog. The two cats we have are gorgeous and great company. Full of character and well behaved but I have wanted another dog for many years. It didn’t take me long to discuss this with hubby (who thankfully gave the green light) and after weeding out the breeds that are too big, too small, too ugly (!), too energetic and too high-maintenance I came down to two. A Cocker Spaniel or a Labrador. I am familiar with both breeds and felt that either one would suit us.

Whilst researching the Cocker Spaniel in more detail however, I came across a number of cross-breed options-posh-mongrels to dog snobs. Spoodles (Springer Spaniel/Poodle), Cavapoos (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Poodle) and CockerPoos (Cocker Spaniel/Poodle). There were also other cross-breeds with equally silly names like Labradoodles but the best one in my opinion is the JackShit (Jack Russell/ Shitszu cross). But who would want a dog called a JackShit?!

Anyway I digress. Again, cutting the story short, I homed in on a Cockerpoo and after a seemingly endless wait of 5 weeks, we pick up Jasper next weekend.

I’m sure that I will have lots of stories and photos of Jasper in the coming weeks and months but here are a few to keep you going until he comes to his forever home next Saturday. My life is changing that’s for sure and all for the better. Could this be the start of my real recovery after so many relapses? I hope so and from what I have read about Cockerpoos and seen from our pup so far, he will be the ultimate anti-depressant! Roll on Saturday- it can’t come soon enough.

 

 

Making and creating

My oasis of calm is definitely when I am making and creating.

I find myself looking round the shops and instead of thinking ” I like that, I’ll buy one” I think, “Mmmm, I like that, how do I make one?”

That’s fine from an expense point of view but I am fast running out of space in the house and garage.

My latest addition to my furniture barn is a very heavy, low wooden table I bought for just £5 from a charity shop. It was so heavy I struggled to carry it back to my car but the effort was worth it (I think)

Painted with Annie Sloan chalk paint in French Linen (grey) and Old White, I then used a stencil to finish it off. This is the fist time I have stencilled a piece of furniture but it won’t be the last!

 

 

Can I make it a hat-trick?

After so long I can’t remember when, I have had two “good days” in a row. Two days when I haven’t been so tired that I need to hide in the ladies toilet for 10 minutes in the afternoon for a power nap; two days when I haven’t felt threatened or insecure; no panic or anxiety; I’ve even found myself laughing at some of the ridiculous things going on around me. I have spoken to some of my clients without the usual stomach-churning fear and stress, although I still experienced some anxiety and thought about postponing the afternoon call. I refused to give in to my scaredy-cat urges and triumphed by conducting the call successfully and with a satisfied client who wants me to quote for some additional work! 🙂

I am starting to believe that I can do this.

Happy-Days

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!