Tag Archive | Conditions and Diseases

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.

Inspiration for 2011

Heading into 2011, if it’s inspiration you want you need look no further than one of my best friends, Colleen Henderson-Heywood. Motivational speaker, artist, Parkinson’s Disease ambassador, rock band manager, photographer and designer and all-round fantastic person.

I have known Colleen since she was 10 years old and despite suffering what others may think of as a major “set-back”, fundamentally she hasn’t changed one bit. At the age of 47, this is testament to her resilience, determination, wonderful sense of humour and sense of humilty, creative, quirky mind and inspirational attitude towards life. We can all learn from Colleen.

Colleen has always been different and even at the age of 10  had two words seemingly tattooed across her forhead…”Kick-Ass”. The world is a much better place as a result.

Colleen was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinsons Disease 5 years ago but instead of surrendering to her illness her characteristically indomitable spirit came into its own and this uniquely talented woman set about transforming her life as well as those of her fellow Parkinson’s Disease sufferers. Colleen has achieved more in the last 5 years, than many accomplish in their whole lifetime and her positive attitude and proactive approach to life has touched so many.

How has she done this?

In many many ways but the essence of Colleen is her creativity. In an era dominated by corporate protocol, dull politicians and even duller celebrities, Colleen stands out like the Pole Star. Creativity is often underestimated and undervalued but you only have to take a look at what Colleen has achieved to realise what an impact doing things differently can make. Her attitude and approach to life is expressed in the following excerpt taken from an article Colleen wrote back in the Spring.

A bad day :: I can’t afford to loose a single day every moment is precious so when a bad day happens along I do everything I can to turn it into a good one. So I don’t sit back and let the day collapse around me I take some positive steps… I play some great music, I contact my lovely friends, I make something from nothing a cake a poem a painting.. and whatever dark forces are at play soon vanish..

Fill the gap :: My condition means I have to let go of a lot of things I used to do. This has been a big change as it has affected my lifestyle, my interests and my fun. So I decided never to leave a gap, if I loose something I simply fill it with something else… and now I have re-discovered painting, cycling and photography and its fabulous.

Zero tolerance :: I have become very focussed and find now that I don’t wait for things to happen I just do them. I have zero tolerance for ‘rubbish’. If you walk past something everyday like a plant wilting in the corner of the office just because maybe its not your plant don’t keep walking past it! Do something about it! You, the plant and its owner will welcome a bit of TLC!

I soon learned that the person who can really turn their life around using change is you! SO be bold, seize the day, say ‘I can’ and do it

Below is my beautiful picture “Spirit” painted by Colleen in May 2010.

So, just a few of Colleen’s projects which deserve a closer look;

Blog by Boo– follow Colleen’s adventures on her Blog. Inspiring, open, honest and always entertaining.

Take One Minute-A series of inspirational films on youtube.

80eight-Photography & Design (including the fabulous “Jaw-drop” Experience)

Colleen has an enviable ability to change people’s lives for the better. She is full of ideas and hope and instinctively knows how she can best live her life whilst dealing with a chronic illness.  The greatest thing however is that Colleen selflessly shares her experiences and ideas with anyone who cares to listen. So take my advice, spare a moment to have a look at her projects and I will be amazed if you don’t find something here which inspires you to help yourself or others.

Dare to be different in 2011.

It might make all the difference.