Tag Archive | Stress

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.


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.


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


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


christmas_2_cfs_chronic_fatigue_syndrome_card-rda17609b3c8444acb78573d11815bdbb_xvuak_8byvr_324I have had a mixed week of fortunes; It started off last weekend with feeling under-the-weather and spending most of my time resting. Sadly, I felt no better by Monday morning and had also developed a very sore and painful throat so I felt that the sensible thing to do would be to take 1 day off work to recover.

Tuesday I felt much, much better and trotted off to work as normal. I was fine all day and came home in a better frame of mind. Positive that I had done the right thing and headed off the germs before they really took hold.

Wednesday however I had a relapse and started to lose my voice. This was worrying as I was due to speak at the Disability Confident conference in Birmingham on Thursday, a huge privilege and something that my colleague Richard and I had been preparing for all week. I really didn’t want to miss this opportunity and let Richard down so I came home after work, had a whisky, lemon and honey hot toddy and went straight to bed knowing that I had to get up at 04.30am on Thursday.

After a great night’s sleep, I felt better and although my voice was still a little gruff it was intact so off I went ready to speak. With the help of some anaesthetic throat spray, I gave my speech at the conference and then spent lunchtime networking with the attendees. I had a few coughing fits which stopped me in my tracks for short periods but I was definitely on a high and thoroughly enjoying myself. I should have known that like “bad” stress, “good” stress can also lay me low and I need to control my energy and emotions better. “Emotional shocks” or new/novel situations when I am out of routine are all big triggers for me and I came home like a demented Tigger. It took me a while to calm down before I collapsed into bed.

During the night however I started to cough badly and was sick several times. This carried on into the morning so that whilst initially I felt able to work from home, it soon became clear that this was not an option. I had no choice but to take another day off work. You can’t focus on work whilst coughing continuously and being sick but I still felt anxious and guilty about staying away. This is the problem about being poorly. I really don’t like it. No one does but after such a great day yesterday it frustrates me that I can be laid so low so quickly. Maybe I was fighting off the worst of the symptoms earlier in the week with excitement and adrenalin and once the event was over, my body relented and the bugs took over in force. I am hoping that this is the case, as it is far preferable than thinking that yesterday directly caused the relapse.

Today has definitely been a “duvet” day. In bed, drinking tea and eating toast supplied by my attentive hubby and sleeping away a good part of the day away. I have done a little writing which has kept me occupied during the periods I was awake but I still have no voice. Hubby knows I have no voice but still keeps asking me questions. Old habits die hard but we are getting quite competent at our own version of sign language. It takes a lot to stop me talking as most people will attest to so this must be some kind of super bug. to lay me so low so quickly.

So, another weekend of rest and recuperation to “look forward” to 😦

It’s very frustrating but let’s hope that this is just a difficult period and that when recovered I will have a prolonged spell of being well.


Where do I start?

018The last few months have been hectic to say the least and the shortage of time and energy has  meant that I haven’t felt much like writing before collapsing in a heap snoring away merrily at the end of the day.

So what’s made life so hectic?…. in no particular order;

  • I started a new job in December
  • I turned 50 a few weeks ago
  • I have started ice-skating lessons
  • I am now the proud owner of a kindle
  • I have lost 2 stones in weight

and that’s just a few of the things going on day-to-day which have had more than a minor impact on my routine.

A few brave choices have meant that whilst in the short term I am busy and under quite a bit of stress, the mid and long-term benefits will be worth the effort.

My only concern amongst all this positivity is that I have a relapse due to a reaction to all this excess activity which has plagued me in the past. I am trying to eat sensibly, get enough sleep and not get too stressed about “stuff”.  My depression has a pattern which I discovered during a series of therapy sessions with my psychologist. We had been working for a long time on cause and effect and after looking at a number of possible triggers we found the answer. My most severe depressive episodes have arrived after a period of prolonged stress-either physical or mental-which suggests that a good proportion of my mental reaction to stress is physical. Chemicals have a lot to answer for and if they are not happy and balanced, neither am I! I guess this is why anti-depressants worked so well for me even though there were also underlying issues that I needed to deal with along the way.

Depression is so complex!

Anyway-suffice to say that I am feeling much much better and life is good again. I’m not taking anything for granted but neither am I being too negative…that’s easy to do.

As and when I get the chance I will write about my experiences in the hope that some will gain hope and assurance that life can and will get better if you stay strong and stay positive.

Sometimes however you have to be brave and take a chance to put things right. Follow your heart. Trust your instinct.

It worked for me.


Stress, depression and the “Great” British Justice System

Some of my regular readers will know that I have been on Jury Service for the last 2 weeks. I am about to go into deliberation with my 11 fellow jurors on my latest case and, as I was also on a Jury last week, I have seen a little of how the Great British Justice System works (or doesn’t).

I believe that in essence and in theory we have a system which is fair and democratic. In practice however I have my concerns but I will save these for another day.

My main concern however is the lack of on-site support for jurors who have to listen to evidence which is often disturbing, distressing, graphic, shocking, and unpleasant and who are unable to discuss cases with fellow jurors, jurors-in-waiting or friends and family unless they want to be held in contempt of court with all the penalties that arise from that. Yes, there is a link between the court system and the Samaritans, and you can pick up a leaflet at the court (if you see it). But I don’t think this is adequate and from my experience over the last two weeks, more needs to be done to support those who need to offload their concerns.

I understand that there will be important issues such as confidentiality to consider, but last week, faced with a jury quite clearly in distress, many in tears and having had countless sleepless nights, I am convinced that something more needs to be done to recognise and deal with these concerns.

I will be raising it with the court in due course and I will let you know what they say.

All is right with the world

Yesterday, for a few fleeting seconds at least, I felt the overwhelming conviction that all is right with the world. Aston Villa look like they’ve escaped relegation, Will is doing well at school, I am only 2 weeks away from some time-out and respite from the hurly-burly that has been adding to my stress levels, and I have finally done something constructive. I have decorated the utility room. Things are definitely on the up and I feel much stronger and more able to cope with minor upsets which before had immediately turned into full-scale disasters. Some of the things that have got to me recently now look trivial and annoying and certainly not worthy of the adverse reaction they triggered from me not to mention all that wasted energy. I have been snappy, impatient, intolerant, hostile and downright horrid. The worst thing is that I was fully aware of these traits all along but couldn’t be bothered and couldn’t care enough to do anything about it.

But that’s depression. Combined with ongoing stress it can render you unable to deal with the most straightforward  of problems and makes you feel incapable, insecure, vulnerable and unable to cope.

But being “on the up” means that I can deal with minor irritations, hurdles and avoid unnecessary confrontation and hostility. It means I can concentrate energy into constructive and positive activities. I can relax and read a book without losing focus every ten seconds. I can plan and organise my routine so that I make the most of each day that I feel well whilst getting enough rest and most importantly I feel in control.

I’d forgotten what  it feels like. Long may it last.

Diary culled- “Delegate, don’t abdicate”

Well. It was tough, it was tricky and it was too much at times but I have trimmed my diary as far as I want to at this stage in an attempt to reduce stress, fatigue and the personal expectation that I can do everything and be everyone to everybody. The words of the BUPA Consultant ring in my ears when I recall that she told me years ago that unless I changed my mind-set I would not be able to cope with getting older, having to slow down and readjust my goals. I remember that I clearly pooh-poohed her and stomped out in a huff saying that will never happen and I won’t accept it. Mmm….seven years on and I guess she was right.

One of my favourite sayings at work is “Delegate, don’t abdicate” and people must be fed up of me telling them to take responsibility for what they ask others to do rather than apportion blame when something goes wrong. This is fine at work. It makes sense. So why I have I not taken more responsibility for my own welfare and done more delegating of my personal “work”  load instead of trying to do it all myself?

There are many and varied complex answers to this question but I realise it has to change. I need to ask for help from friends, family and colleagues. I’m not good at asking for help. To me it indicates weakness and an inability to cope. In fact, it is quite the opposite and for a natural team-player it shouldn’t be too difficult. So, after a couple of days holiday when I will get a brand new lap top to play with, followed by a pamper day at the Champney’s Springs Health Spa I will be ready to embark on my “new” life. A new attitude; A new diet and health regime and no more being second-best.

Take cover. This girl is on the rampage to recovery.

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“Cull Your Diary “

Things can only get better..

“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon” said Pooh. How right he is.

Or, if your name is Caroline and are extremely stressed-out how could I not be uncheered by a day at Champney’s  Spa?

A bit of all-over body massage, a facial and some relaxation classes will be just the tonic for this hyper-bunny and will hopefully put some perspective back into my world which seems to have gone a bit hay-wire recently.

“Me” has been overlooked and “Me” doesn’t like being ignored.

The real “Me” thrives on fast living and a varied existence but can only cope if physically and mentally fit and healthy. So, to get  “Me” out of this rut drastic measures are required.  Back in come exercise, relaxation and routine. Out go the toxins. Toxic food, drink and people.

Detox for Depression!

Things will get better.



“Cull your diary….

or face the consequences of a complete breakdown” I was told this week.  Doesn’t make pleasant reading does it and although the advice didn’t come as a complete shock, being told by a concerned psychologist who knows me well and has nurtured me through bad times before, the reality and severity of the situation hit home.

Upset, devastated and overwhelmingly disappointed to be told in no uncertain terms that I am not Superwoman and if I was to insist on wearing my undies over my trousers I will undoubtedly be arrested or more likely admitted to hospital,  I have spent the last few days contemplating my short, medium and long-term priorities so I can cull my diary to best possible effect.

I have made a few decisions. None of which I like. Some of which are extremely upsetting. But self-preservation has to come first and it has to be done. There are specific things I need to dump immediately and some things which I need to start doing straightaway. There are also mind-set changes that need to be made. I need to respect myself and my health more. I need to find more “me” time. No more playing “second” (or third) fiddle to anyone or anything else. I have to make myself the priority and I am not prepared to be second choice or second best any more. People will either come with me on this ride or they will choose the status quo.

Yes I am still vulnerable, unsure, scared and tearful. I am also determined, focussed and realistic enough to know that the choices I have made are the right ones and whilst I may have to take a few steps backwards emotionally to start with, the long-term benefits to my mental health will be worth it.

And importantly all this isn’t just about me. It’s about my son. I’m prepared to make  sacrifices to protect his welfare and to give him the best chance to develop in a more stable environment.

After all, it’s not every fifteen year old son who says ” I’m proud of you mum” is it?

The Roller Coaster that is depression

I hate rollercoasters.The highs are too high and the lows are too low and the time it takes to travel in between too fast so that I feel out of control and physically sick. They are unpredictable; you are strapped in and can’t move. But if you don’t secure yourself properly, you fall away and get hurt. You are at the mercy of the science. Gravity. Freefall. Involuntary acceleration.

Nemesis. Oblivion. The Beast. Demon. Hangman. Mindbender.

Heart beats double. Stress hormones triple.

I’m talking depression.