Self Care Sunday

Self care is something that goes out the window for me when my physical & mental health dips. I’ve struggled over the past week with Arthritis & Fibromyalgia flare ups which has resulted in time off work & I’ve spent most of my time at home resting. The time off work & rest has helped massively & I am now managing much better.

I decided to take some time out today for some self care tasks & to spend some time relaxing, away from my phone & switching off from the world. I took a hot bath with a Soap & Glory Bath bomb & face mask. The Greatest Showman soundtrack played on Spotify & I lay there feeling content.

I went on to have a pretty chilled day listening to music & preparing food for the week ahead. I’m planning on having more self care Sunday’s to help me recover from the working week & to prepare for the week ahead.

It’s true what they say, A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.


New Year Goals

As much as I had my health struggles in 2017 & was challenged by them, I did manage to have a good year & achieve my goals. I done things my anxiety told me that I could never do such as going on my friends hen do to Liverpool, travelled to New York & Philadelphia & completed & passed my masters dissertation.

When I think back to this time last year I was filled with self doubt & riddled with anxiety. My mind would remind me of all the things I couldn’t do but I challenged this thought process & achieved my goals which I am incredibly proud of.

My goals achieved in 2017

1. I became Vegan in January.

2. Completed & passed my dissertation.

3. Went to Liverpool on my friends Hen Weekend.

4. Graduated from Uni with a Masters in Career Guidance & Development.

5. Gained confidence to write & started blogging.

Goals don’t have to start at the beginning of the New Year & throughout the year I set new goals & took a little longer to achieve some of them than expected but I done it. I had a great sense of achievement & goal setting helps me stay focussed throughout the year.

My goals for 2018

1. Complete another Veganuary & follow a vegan lifestyle.

2. Continue to write & share my health journey.

3. Learn mindfulness techniques.

4. Be more active.

5. Read more books.

Looking forward to 2018 & I am ready for the next chapter in my life.

The Puppy that changed our lives

This time last year my husband & I drove to Perthshire to collect our little fluffy bundle of joy. When we arrived we were greeted by a lovely family who welcomed us into their home to meet 3 gorgeous Border Collie Puppies. They were the cutest yet tiniest little things I have ever seen. As soon as I seen them, I knew it was a Border Collie I wanted & we were lucky enough to get one of the pups.

You couldn’t take the smile off my face as I cuddled our precious little puppy that we named Chewie. I was bursting with happiness & couldn’t wait to get him home & settled into his new home.

Chewie has brought so much love & happiness into both our lives & I couldn’t imagine life without him. My anxiety had a grip of me last year & I was constantly anxious, experiencing panic attacks & having night terrors. Chewie brought a happiness & comfort into my life that eased my anxiety immediately. On my worst days, he comforts me with cuddles & knows when I’m having an off day. There’s no better feeling than Chewie welcoming us home with sheer excitement & cuddles.

I am so grateful, thankful & happy to have Chewie in my life.

First Christmas Anxiety Free

On the run up to Christmas I get myself into such a state worrying about Christmas Day & having family over sends my anxiety through the roof. Anxious thoughts creep in of how the day will go, how will I feel, how will I cope & the what if scenarios spiral out of control. Exchanging gifts & receiving gifts are a big trigger for my anxiety & I find it very challenging. To add to the pressure this year my Dad spent the day with us which is the first time in 10 years that I’ve spent Christmas with him.

It came as a surprise yesterday that I managed to do everything we had planned; Morning Mass, paid a visit to my nieces & nephews & had family round for Christmas dinner. Not only did I manage but I got through the day without feeling anxious with no intrusive thoughts or panic attacks.

This came as a surprise that I not only managed to survive Christmas Day but I was anxiety free. I didn’t take that for granted & very much enjoyed the day. For once, my anxiety didn’t have a hold of me & my thoughts & I made the most of an anxiety free day.

I’ve had a relaxing Boxing Day in my pj’s watching Beauty & the Beast, Friends & some football. It’s exactly what I was needing & a self care day is a great way to come down after Christmas.

Feels good having another little win over Anxiety. First Christmas Anxiety Free in 14 years!

Merry Christmas

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas & I hope you have a peaceful day.

It can be a difficult time of the year for many but it doesn’t have to be a lonely time & staying connected can help. Comedian Sarah Millican will be on Twitter for anyone feeling lonely & wanting to chat. Many people will be getting involved with #joinin & it has gathered a great support on Twitter with many planning on using the hash tag.

The Samaritans are also offering a vital life link & you can make contact by phone or email & speak to a trained volunteer.

I wanted to share the support that is out there & I am also available on twitter for anyone who wants to chat. (@arthritisfightr).

Have a lovely Christmas & take care.

Planning to have a baby when you have a Chronic illness

I have Arthritis & Fibromyalgia & thankfully my Rheumatologist has been supportive with helping me plan for a baby. I first spoke with her 3 years ago & at the time I was on methotrexate, painkillers, anti-inflammatories & steroids. In order to start trying for a baby I had to come off methotrexate for at least 3 months but to be on the safe side I gave it 6 months.

Coming off medication wasn’t an easy decision but I knew it was necessary if I wanted to start a family. Methotrexate was a little easier to come off, it made me feel sick for days after taking it & I couldn’t wait to come off it. I didn’t realise at the time how much I needed it & failed to grasp that it was stopping my Arthritis from progressing. Having said that, I coped well with coming off it but I did depend on painkillers & steroids.

I have a love hate relationship with steroids. I love that they give me relief but I hate that I gain weight & my anxiety increases. Unfortunately for me, the steroids suppressed my pituitary gland which set my periods off & in turn it was difficult to monitor if I ovulated. I understood the risks of steroids & being on & off them for so long I knew it would have some sort of impact on my body.

I’m now 2 years free from methotrexate, 18 months from steroids & only 4 months free from painkillers. Has it been easy? Certainly not. It’s been challenging & I have been tested both physically, mentally & emotionally. However, it has been worth it.

If your thinking of trying for a baby with a chronic illness here’s some things to think about:

1. Speak to your GP or Consultant.

2. Make a plan for reducing & coming off medication with the supervision of Health Professionals.

3. Consider alternative ways to manage; physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, yoga or massages.

4. Reduce working hours to cope with pain management.

5. Referral to Fertility Specialists.

I’ve experienced mix opinions since starting this journey including Doctors trying to put me off starting a family. If you have a good supportive network with your partner & health professionals then it is certainly achievable.

There’s a little bit of hope at the end of the rainbow.

Arthritis & Online Support

When I was first diagnosed with Arthritis in 2013 I felt lost & pretty much left to it. After the first appointment with my Rheumatologist I was prescribed methotrexate, given a leaflet on the side effects & told to get regular blood tests. I was so unaware of the serious medication I had been put on & I went on a search to find some support online.

I found a great supportive community on Instagram & connected to people who shared their experience of Arthritis, chronic illness & medication. Suddenly I felt less lonely & was able to be open & honest about how I was coping & got great support from fellow Spoonies.

The Spoon Theory by Christine Meserandino was easy to relate to as she compared spoons to energy levels of that of someone with a chronic illness. Before I knew it, I was a Spoonie connecting with fellow spoonies & developing true friendships.

I’ve met some true friends on Instagram & in August this year I got the chance to meet a spoonie friend who has supported me since the start of this journey. We recently met up again in November in Edinburgh & it was so lovely to catch up in person.

Blessed to have a great support online & always open to sharing & connecting to new people.

Jen & I, Spoonie friends ❤️

Managing My Mental Health in December

It’s December! The Christmas hype has begun & it’s now acceptable to play Christmas songs. There’s a lot of expectation placed on this time of the year & everyone appears to be happy, merry & full of joy.

Christmas always brings mixed feelings for me; on one hand I look forward to sharing it with family but on the other I feel the pressure to be happy & upbeat. Theres an expectation for everything to be picture perfect which sets off my anxiety & low mood.

From the age of 14 I remember dreading Christmas & I was riddled with anxiety. From then on in I dreaded every Christmas & I made myself ill at the thought of it. I always felt lonely even when surrounded by family & when my dad left it was really only me & my mum celebrating.

Over the years I’ve realised that not everyone is happy at Christmas, it’s the loneliest time of the year for many. I remember going quiet on the run up to Christmas & I would stop replying to my friends text messages & wait until after Christmas to contact them. I couldn’t face anyone asking me if I was looking forward to Christmas & what my plans where. I was scared to open up & tell anyone how I really felt.

I understand that this time of the year is difficult for many people with the dread of Christmas & the pressure to be happy. My advice would be to talk about how you really feel, trust someone & open up & spend Christmas Day with people you love. Try not to isolate yourself with ignoring friends text messages or going off social media to try & cope. From experience, I know this makes it worse & if your concerned about a friend reach out & simply ask them “are you okay?”.

I hope December is a good month for you & I’m always here if you need to chat.

Signing off with Chewie & Santa Paws 😊

Travelling with a chronic illness

There’s nothing I love more than planning our next getaway & we were lucky enough this month to travel to New York & Philadelphia. We planned the trip as part of My husbands 30th Birthday celebrations & I was looking forward to my first trip to the States.

My biggest anxiety about the trip was the 7.5 hour flight & I really couldn’t see past that. Much of my preparation before hand was about managing my thoughts & anxiety before the flight. The good news is I managed it without any panic attacks & I done fairly well to manage the intrusive thoughts.

New York was everything I expected from it, bright lights, big city & lots of people! My anxiety was present for much of the time I was in New York with tension headaches, nausea & intrusive thoughts. I made the most of the time we had there & enjoyed Top of The Rock, The Empire State Building & the Statue or Liberty, to name just a few. I found it difficult to manage evenings out due to the crowds & people constantly rushing on by, fast paced with no time to stop or think.

I managed my anxiety with early mornings & days out & tried to avoid evenings out & work rush hour times. Fatigue & arthritis pain played a huge part of how I was feeling & I tried to pace myself & rest as much as possible. I underestimated how much New York would take it out me. I was constantly on the go, walking & exploring new places.

I couldn’t wait to get the train to Philadelphia after 4 days on the go, it was time for me to leave New York as mentally and physically I was done. Philadelphia was perfect, a laid back City with character, positive vibes & lots of history. It was less in your face as New York was, people were nicer, the pace of things was much slower & we had the time to relax & enjoy our last few days of our travels. My anxiety completely left me in Philly & I was left to manage the arthritis pain & joints popping. I was much more relaxed & visited the Liberty Bell & sort of ran up the Rocky Steps.

Even although I was on holiday & enjoying myself my chronic illnesses didn’t leave me or give me a break. It was very much present & flaring but I tried to minimise the impact it had on me.

The best advice I would give anyone for travelling with a chronic illness is:

1. Plan your days out & minimise the walking

2. Pace yourself & don’t burn yourself out

3. Rest, rest & more rest. Save those spoons!

Flare up & celebrations. An October Update.

It’s been over a month since my last blog post & there’s a combination of reasons why I’ve been quiet. At the start of October I had one of my worst Fibromyalgia flare ups which seen me bed bound for almost a week. Every inch of my body ached with other symptoms flaring causing me all sorts of problems. All I remember is I slept for most of my time off work & the fatigue really did take over.

The flare up at the start of the month put me off my stride & writing became a task instead of something positive for my mental health.
 Apart from the flare ups & fatigue, October was a busy month filled with happiness. I was part of my friend’s wedding as a Bridesmaid which was a perfect day with dancing & lots of happy tears. The following week we celebrated my Husband’s 30th Birthday with an epic Millennium Falcon cake and a dinner with the family. His big pressie being a trip to New York & Philadelphia which we are due to go on this week (eeek!).

Looking forward to what November has got to bring & of course, our trip to the States.