Body Image

STRONG Enough?

We each go through days when we tell ourselves that we are not “strong” enough.
Why?

Because society categorises us as not being “strong” enough.

As we go through our journey, we are subconsciously being attacked about our lack of strength; in ways that most of you might not even realise.

We watch television and are inundated with Gym Advertisements and the physical STRENGTH that each person possesses. Because exercise equals physical strength, and everyone automatically assumes that you are ill because you are not exercising, therefore you are not STRONG.
We use social media as self-promotion, and for product-promotion.
Here’s a line that many of you will know of, the dreaded “take this and you will feel STRONGER/better
We post photos and videos of moments that highlight our STRENGTH and happiness.
We leave Specialist’s offices feeling absolutely defeated after they use the cliché line “you just have to be STRONGER”, and one that was used on me last night “you have the STRENGTH to overcome this”.
We go home and we hear this popular line of encouragement used by our loved ones in an attempt to make us “better”. They have not experienced what we have, so they associate strength with getting better and tell us to be STRONGER. That is really their way of saying “I just wish you were better”, and that somehow if we try harder we can overcome our medical challenges.
We buy magazines, with covers of STRONG, healthy people.
Strength is marketed.
We leave Doctor’s offices being surrounded by people suffering from the common cold virus, and we subconsciously tell ourselves that we wish we just had a common cold because then we’d be STRONG enough to fight it, beat it.

And so, we go through each of our days telling ourselves that we are strong enough because of the comparison to others.

We go to bed wondering what else we could have done in an attempt to feel “better”, “stronger”.
We question ourselves; and please don’t lie, because if I can admit to doing it then I know you have too. We will sit in a slump, questioning our own body and what we have to do in order to gain this so-called-strength that everyone speaks of. We will cry, we will scream; wishing for our course of events to be different.

We pressure ourselves, because we feel pressured.

Example of Chronically Ill Brain:
Who do I speak to? Hello? Tell me.
Where do I obtain such strength to overcome my illness?
What does it mean to be strong?
Am I not strong enough?
Do I have to exercise, or exercise harder?
Do I have to eat healthier, or attend that party that I fear I will be too sick to make it for?
Do I have to gain muscle, or throw myself into a job?
Do I have to work five days a week instead of two?
Do I have to drive to that appointment, even though I feel too ill?
Do I have to step out of my wheelchair, or
not feel depressed?
Strength, strength, strength.
Why am I not strong enough to beat this?


I am here to tell you that,
I know the STRENGTH that it took to get out of bed this morning.
I know how many times you hit your alarm because your body ached.
I know the STRENGTH it took to feed your children and nappychange them this morning, and the effort it took you to have a shower this morning.
I know the STRENGTH you had when you dragged yourself to that appointment, and used all of your energy chatting to your Doctor about progress or decline.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to try and exercise today, even if that means walking to the mailbox and back.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to tell do, or say, something thoughtful to your partner, because you feared they would not know how much you were thankful for their support.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to pick yourself up off the floor after crying what felt like an ocean.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to try and swallow each tablet, multiple times a day.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to half-smile, or to laugh.

I know.

So, when you see or hear the term STRENGTH, you are to stop for a minute and take a deep breath in.

Count to five (that takes strength too).
And then I want you to tell yourself, and whoever/whatever is in front of you questioning your strength, this:

In this moment,
I am strong enough,
to make it through the next (moment).

In this moment, YOU are STRONG ENOUGH, to make it through the next moment.
That’s all you need to know. You don’t need to know how; just know that you WILL.

You may not see this strength that you possess, but it is there and I promise you it will be pulling you through the roughest of nights, the toughest of moments.
You go to sleep begging for a way out, and you wake up wondering how you made it through the night before; there it is, your strength.
You probably don’t even know that you have it, but it’s there.
I know it is, because somewhere within me, it’s there too and I have it to thank for keeping me here this long.
Strength isn’t about pushing your body to do the unthinkable, so you then have to suffer the repercussions afterwards, and it is most certainly not about beating our diseases. We can push ourselves to achieve more, but if we fail it does not mean we are not strong.
How lovely it would be to think of overcoming our illness, and maybe some of us will, but most of us can’t. We are tied to each other (illness and you, illness and me).

Sure, it would be lovely to push ourselves to achieve more.

There are things that our illness stops us from doing, and then there are things we fear doing because of our illness, but that does not mean that we are not strong enough.

It’s all well and good for people to push us to be stronger, to try harder; because most of them think that we sit at home doing nothing all day, and then the rest of them have our best intentions at heart. They just want us to be better, and there is nothing wrong with that.

But don’t let them question your strength.

Don’t let them question YOUR efforts, because I know.
I know exactly what it feels like.
I know exactly how hard you are trying.

We might not be physically strong, we might not even be mentally strong at times, and most of us will not be able to overcome our illnesses,
BUT we possess a rare type of strength that others don’t have –

Chronic Illness Strength,

and let me be the first to tell you that this type of strength is stronger than physical and mental combined.

In this moment, I am strong enough, to make it through the next.

C xo

  
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Illness Army: “Appearances”

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like what I look like. If I could magically wake up and become a different person physically, I still wouldn’t like what I look like.
When I have long hair I don’t like it: it’s too thick, ‘knotty’, wavy…
Then, I cut it and it’s too short, ‘boyish’, not sexy enough…
I buy fashionable clothes and I don’t like what I look like in them,
So I resort to ‘regular’ clothes…then, I don’t feel cute enough.
I can’t win.
I stalk hot girls on Instagram:
Her waist is non-existent, her hair is long and blonde, she’s got a flat stomach, expensive clothes, perfect makeup…
And, I bet if I had all of that…I’d still hate what I look like.

These thoughts have been recently reignited by a haircut I just got this past weekend. It’s really short. Shorter than I wanted. But, I cut it because I was tired of trying to grow my hair out, of feeling like I needed to have it long to be attractive. I don’t like having long hair because it just gets in my way, never looks how I want it to (except for some moments on Instagram), and it’s hard to manage. So I cut it.

I’m not happy. Is it a relief to not have to worry about styling my hair? Sure. Will my hair quickly grow out to a length I like better? Yeah. Yet, am I mad at myself when I look in the mirror, when I see girls at school with long, styled hair? Yep.

I’m not in a place right now where I can get up in the morning, style my hair, do my makeup, and wear trendy clothes. Right now, I’m barely able to slap on a thin layer of foundation before leaving my dorm, and most times I don’t. It’s frustrating that I feel inadequate in this way because really, my appearance shouldn’t matter…

But, it DOES. At least to me. I know that no one who really cares about me actually thinks like I do: no one thinks I’m ugly, unattractive, undesirable…just me. And, if I met someone just like me, I’d probably be super understanding of their situation. When it comes to me, I don’t cut myself any slack. I don’t look like what I think I should look like…and I never will…and this will be a never ending struggle for me.

Here’s some advice that I’d give someone like me: So long as you’re beautiful on the inside, you’re beautiful regardless of your appearance. I know it’s cheesy and cliche, but I truly believe it. I could meet someone I don’t consider attractive but, if they’re compassionate, loving, and selfless, I’d probably wind up thinking they’re amazing.

If you’re struggling right now-with ANYTHING-just know it’s okay. It’s okay that you haven’t brushed your hair in a few days, that the only fashion you can muster is sweatpants and a t-shirt, that you don’t have a flat tummy and tight abs. Sure, try to take care of personal hygiene, and maybe lift your spirits with a special outfit/makeup look here and there but, don’t think that you need to.

Instead, put time and effort into things that really matter: school, relationships, passions/hobbies, and recovering (if you have any illness, in my case mental). Once you take care of the important stuff, the rest will follow, and you’ll look better than ever.

Hopefully, I start to take this advice for myself sometime soon.

Thank you for this submission from my incredibly talented friend Sandy from the blog sandycademy.wordpress.com
If there is one blog that everyone should be following, it is hers.
Sandy speaks honestly about time living with Depression and Anxiety, and uses her writing talents to capture audiences.

If you have a post similar to this that you’d like published, please check out our Submission Guidelines Page.

 

Invisible Illness Progress Portraits (IIPP)

A roughly edited conversation between my Acupuncturist and I which sparked this idea:

Cass: “We said that I should be back at work by this time. I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon”

Acupuncturist: “You’re right, it probably won’t happen anytime soon, BUT we have made progress”

Cass: (thinks to self) What progress have we made?

Acupuncturist = 1
Cass = 0

With Invisible and Chronic Illnesses we tend to lose sight of how much progress we have actually made, as we live with pain and other symptoms every day.

I know that I personally still walk around feeling saddened by how weak my body is. There is something inside of me that still cannot accept this, and thinks that if I am not back at 100%, then I have not made improvement at all.

If we show on the outside that we are feeling slightly “better”, society automatically assumes that we are cured from our disease. They cannot understand that we still suffer, but have made slight improvements, or that we have learnt to manage our symptoms better.

If you are having similar thoughts and are currently drowning in symptoms of your Chronic Illness, let me firstly tell you that you are far from alone, and it DOES get better.

Now, I can see you all of the way here from my desk in Australia.
You are rolling your eyes, you are shaking your head, you are sighing because you have heard that statement so many times before. You will tell me that I don’t understand, that I do not feel what you feel.

But, I do.

I know how you feel, because I have felt the same way for almost a year fighting my own illness and inner demons, and my fight is FAR from over.
I wanted it all to end, and have contemplated suicide more times than I can count on two hands.
I saw no reason for me to stay here in this world if I had to continue fighting this way, being a guinea pig for Specialists all over the city, feeling this neverending loneliness.
I was tired of the appointments, and the dead-end answers I was reaching.

I was even more tired of taking medication for no solid reason, the money coming out from my account and most importantly, hearing people tell me “it will get better”.

But I’m here to tell you that it DOES get better, and I have discovered a way of proving it to you.
I wish someone showed me this ten months ago, so I could’ve started learning to love and respect myself, and my body.

I have made up with a term called Invisible Illness Progress Portraits (or IIPP) where you take a photo of yourself once a fortnight (or month), and store them in a folder on your laptop or print them off and attach them to a calendar or poster board. I write how I was feeling at the time of each photo, and obviously date each of them.

I know that taking a photo of yourself during illness is terrifying and probably the furthest thing from being considered as “attractive”.

We are obviously not going to look like Kim Kardashian in her published Selfie Book, and that is fine because THAT IS NOT THE POINT OF THIS.
The point is to begin a collection where YOU can actually SEE the progress you have made, and so that when you are a year from now you can look back and realise how brave and strong you really were.

And when Specialists like mine say “you have really made progress”, you can say “Yeah, I really have”.

You don’t have to publicise it. Keep it as a present for your future self.
If you do not want to take photos of your face, by all means take photos of something that you have conquered in the face of your illness. For example, a bigger meal portion, a trip to the Doctor, a walk to the bathroom.

I myself have only begun this, so I don’t have many photos of myself during my rougher illness days, (that’s where my regret comes in) but looking back on the photos that I do have, makes me realise how far I have actually come.

I have a few scattered over the months to show you, to give you an idea.

Top Left: April 2015 Bottom Left: June 2015 Top Right: Jan 2015 Bottom Right: Dec 2014

Top Left: April 2015
Bottom Left: June 2015
Top Right: Jan 2015
Bottom Right: Dec 2014


Top Right: Early August 2015 Bottom Right: Me, today! Top Left: June 2015 Bottom left: July 2015

Top Right: Early August 2015
Bottom Right: Me, today!
Top Left: June 2015
Bottom left: July 2015

I was severely underweight from living off of dry crackers, water and mashed potato, my skin all over my body was riddled with acne and I could not walk more than a metre alone. You would never have caught me wearing anything but an oversized jumper and loose leggings, as I was too embarrassed of my protruding bones, and I felt absolutely horrid every single day.

A lesson I am still trying to learn is that Progress does not mean a drastic change.
Progress means slight/gradual.
You can walk to the fridge one day,
You are able to shower alone,
You are able to have two mouthfuls rather than one,
You have put on one kilogram or lost a kilogram.

All of these examples may seem tiny, but they are still progress!

So, take a moment and think about yourself. Tell me honestly how much progress you have made today, and it is okay if you can honestly say you have not made any.

I know that when I look back at these photos, I realise I can walk better than ten months ago, and more than before even though it is nowhere near close to what an average person/the old me used to.

I am able to eat more, without throwing up or feeling excruciating stomach pain.

I have less nausea than before, and less frequent violent dizzy spells which accompany.

As my images expand over the next few months, you will slowly see me wear a little bit of makeup, have the energy to straighten my hair, wear nicer clothing, and most importantly, smile.

This is me from a few days back.

This is me from a few days back, and I felt really good for a change.

In between these images, you will also know when I have gone backwards, because I am obviously not cured!
You will see the days that were rougher than others; where I cried beside the toilet bowl, where I had a cold towel over my eyes to help my migraine, where I could only stomach liquids all day.

And there you are again telling me that you don’t want to be reminded of such a time, that you want to rid the negativity from your mind. But if you don’t face who you were through the illness, how will you grow? How will you notice the change in yourself?

I can promise you that you will appreciate yourself more for having battled through those awful days and conquering when you thought that it was near impossible.

I know I do.

I would absolutely love to see your progress, (remember that Progress means gradual!) so if you are willing, send me an email via my contacts link!
Alternatively, you could tag IIPP or link to IndisposedandUndiagnosed in your post, and I will check the tag as frequently as possible!

Please, in celebration of Invisible Illness Awareness, join me in documenting your journey.

TLC.

Indisposed and Undiagnosed has quietly had an overnight renovation.
We now have a cute little logo, and a site that is much easier to navigate your way through.
To experience the full effect of the changes, please take a peek on a laptop or computer!

I would like to thank my followers for your endless support and love.
I have received many emails (through my current darkest of times) describing me to be the voice for those who are unheard, hurting and also lost in illness of all kinds.

A Chronic Illness blog must shine a light on the positives and negatives.
In order to spread awareness, we must share an accurate account of our good and bad ordeals. They may be terrifying to write and read, they may also be incredibly depressing, but they are spreading awareness.

We are here, we are fighting, we are waiting, we want to be heard.

I am appreciative of your concern over my wellbeing, every comment I receive, every email I read.
I hope you continue to follow me on my journey.

May there be brighter days ahead for all of us

C, x

Birthday cake, wishes and nausea.

Happy birthday to me, on the 30th.

Birthdays, birthdays, birthdays.
You think of getting dressed up, and having drinks with friends or family, gifts, laughter, reminiscing over the past year and all of your achievements, and dreaming about the year to come and all of the progression you are yet to make.

I think of it being just another day… another lonely day.

More than anything, it is a reminder that time has not stopped whilst I have been sick.
I am still here with minimal achievements, answers, management, and oh yeah, I’ve aged another year.

Who invented the line, “happy birthday” anyway? Why is there an assumption that it will be a happy day? I now feel pressured to be happy on my birthday, but what if it isn’t the case?

I won’t lie. I have thought about this day for weeks now, and have silently wished for pure health upon waking. I want to have a happy birthday.
I have begged for a mere twelve hours nausea-free, dizzy-free, but I can now safely say that this will not be the case.

My recent rough patch has lasted over two weeks. It is still very much here. I wish I could say I knew what triggered it, but I don’t. I just woke up and went straight back to not eating, incredibly bad nausea which left me by a toilet/bucket/bag and an inability to digest ANYTHING.
I have lived off of a juice a day, a bottle of water a day… or days of nothing, for just over two weeks now.
It’s so frustrating to see that slight progress, and then to decline and not know why.
I stupidly forced large meals down my throat in hope that if I fought past the nausea, the food would decide it was happy in my stomach and digest without a problem (not the smartest idea, Cass).

I guess it did as expected, the opposite to what I hoped.
It rose to my oesophagus, burned the back of my mouth… I held a hand to my mouth and rushed to a bathroom in numerous occasions, but it decided that it wanted to go back down, struggled to digest and sat there for many hours rotting in my stomach.

And, desperation consumed me.
I was clutching at invisible straws.
I tried Ginger tea, Peppermint Tea, Apple Cider Vinegar, anti-nausea bands, acupressure, anti-nausea medication, lemon scented things, peppermint gum, barley sugar.
I googled anti-nausea remedies until my eyes burned.
I consulted social media.
Does anyone else have these super crazy moments of desperation where you try everything and anything?

It obviously lead to no success.

I visited my Acupuncturist, in hope that he could perform his usual magic and give me some relief. For once, I felt nothing upon leaving his office.
Whilst in my session, I cried for the first time.
Cried, blubbered, created an ocean of tears.

“I’m only twenty two!” I cried.
“I d-d-don’t want to live like this. I d-d-don’t know what I am d-d-doing wrong. How c-c-can I return to a job like this or even g-g-go out? I have tried eveeeeeeerything. When will this s-s-stop?”

*drowns in sorrow*

My Acupuncturist (having the sweetest soul on this planet) calmed me with his soothing, caring tone.
“I won’t give up on you. It’s just a rough patch, remember that”

So, my inner self dragged my sick self out of those doors and continued to tell myself up until this current moment, “it’s just a rough patch”.

Back to the celebration of my birth – usually, my favourite part of birthdays is the cake part.
I think there is something special (and equally awkward) in being surrounded by loved ones, serenaded in joyous song; then to blow out the candles, make a wish and celebrate by eating dessert.

I could wish for many things;
A cure for myself, management, freedom.
But I honestly wouldn’t choose any of the above.
I would ask for nobody else to have to suffer with what I have/like I have.

I can be brave and face this illness day by day, but the thought of another child growing up with this illness or an adult being diagnosed in their prime years, is heartbreaking.

Unlucky for me, Gastroparesis isn’t fond of any food, let alone cake. And, I love cake.
Which leads to me asking one thing from you.
If you are in good health on Thursday, please cut yourself a big slice of your favourite cake and enjoy every single bite!

I do hope though, that by some miracle, I wake up Thursday feeling great. If not, I will try and enjoy this celebratory day to the best of my ability, and stop being so hard on myself.

I am trying so hard to take this one second at a time. I feel really overwhelmed most days.

Be kind to me, illness.

A Letter to Myself.

Dear Self,

Today is one of those bad days.
You are curled up into a ball on the floor; your tears soaking into the carpet. You are crying so hard that you heave, and you cannot bear to stand up with a fear of falling straight down. The nausea is really bad today, and you have tried everything to relieve yourself from it, with no success. We have gone from eating consistently, to not eating at all.

You are planning your Goodbye Letters in your head, and you are telling yourself that you cannot go on another second with these symptoms.

You want to feel nothing, for once, instead of everything.

You have every right to feel this way.
Life never used to be like this.
I remember when things were much simple; where you had the strength to work ten overnight shifts in a row, and overtime. Night was day, and day was night.
They asked you to work on your day off, and you said yes every single time.

You worked when you were sick, and you worked when they weren’t even paying you to work.

The days went quickly and were jam-packed.
You were driving, going on roadtrips, Sunday breakfast dates, shopping days, you slept on the beach and woke up covered in sand at 3am. You were eating as you pleased, and had a bright future in mind for yourself.

You smiled more back then.

I guess you, nor I, ever imagined that something like this could happen, and that things would drastically change in the blink of an eye.

All of the things you used to worry about – not having enough money saved, having to work, being late, the petty little arguments with people – none of it matters now. We have been faced with bigger problems.

I know your mentality is being compromised, and you think it is easier to leave and give up, but I need you to stop for a second and just breathe.

I need you to see what I see.

I see strength.
I know you hate hearing that, but you ARE strong.
I can assure you that most people would not cope as well as you are with chronic nausea, stomach pain and dizziness; not to mention being stuck behind four walls, losing your job, the endless appointments and tests, and lack of answers…

I see someone who still manages to put others before yourself.
I see someone who can still laugh, even on the crappiest of days.
I see someone who is ambitious and continues to push their body to strengthen, no matter how weak they feel.

You say that you have made no accomplishments this year, but my dear, grief has clouded your vision.
Pre-illness-you could only make toast.
In the time you have been off, you have learnt to cook many meals and desserts… things you would not have had the patience for before.
You stress less about the smaller things, whereas before, you were one giant walking stress web.

Six months ago, you couldn’t get out of bed and you were eating zero day in and day out. Today, you are walking better, and for most days, you are able to eat consistently.
You may not have travelled, you may not have graduated, you may not go out partying every week or go on adventures with friends, or be working in your dream job, BUT you have grown up quicker than most people your age and I promise you that you are wiser than they.

You appreciate the smaller things that they are too busy to see, and once all of this is over, your love for life will be greater than your hate for this illness.

I am amazed by your ability to function with these symptoms.
I am astounded by your bravery, and wish you could see how much inner strength you have. When we beat this, not if, I hope you know that you can face anything thrown your way.

I know that the symptoms have prevented you from driving, travelling alone and engaging with others, but it does not for a second mean you are selfish, lazy, weak or a disappointment.
Stop wasting your time on the people who are telling you this; the ones who don’t message you back, or make you feel unimportant.

PLEASE, stop telling yourself that you are unattractive.
Your body has been to hell and back, and considering, I think you look quite good for a sick person. You have fat on your body now, rather than being riddled with bones. Your skin may have changed, and your hair is frail and falling out, but you are still beautiful.
You are measuring yourself up to people who hide their average features behind a veil of makeup.

Now here’s a touchy topic…
You better still be listening.

You are sitting there, feeling sorry for yourself, alone, and struggling to see how someone could love you with this illness.
And you are actually repeating to yourself, “how can somebody love me with this illness?”

Nobody loves you any less. Your true friends and family know who you are and that your illness unfortunately dims your light.
They might not know what to say at times, but I promise they want you to beat this as much as you do.
And, they will help you if you simply ask for it.
They want to see that smile reappear, as much as I, and they will help you in any way that they can.

Don’t listen to anyone who has told you that you are a burden, unlovable and will be alone.

You ARE loved, and you ARE lovable whether or not you have this illness. There is someone out there who doesn’t care about driving you to appointments or waiting with you through tests; someone who will listen to you cry on the worst of days and give you a reason to smile; someone doesn’t mind if you have to stay in for the night instead of going out, and would be happy to link arms with you when you are dizzy; someone who will lie with you when you are feeling nauseous, and give you massages when your body aches; someone who knows what you can and can’t eat, and who will do thoughtful things for you just because.

You WILL get married, move out, and one day you are going to be a wonderful mother who knows the ins and outs of the medical system (and you will definitely need to know that if you end up having those three boys you are dreaming of…)

I know today is hard, and I know the past few weeks have been hard.
Do what you can, and if you have to cancel on someone to rest, then so be it.

I know you are tired of making progress and then falling backwards time and time again.
Do not feel like you have to justify yourself to anyone, or come up with answers that you don’t have.

I know that today you are struggling to find a reason to stay, and I know how alone you feel.
Do not let the anger consume you.

I know that you fear this is neverending, and you’d like to end it all yourself right now.
Do not feel rushed to achieve all at once, or to get better.

I can feel you clutching at your last straw.

We may never reach 100%, remember.
We may never receive the answers we are desperately seeking, but we must continue to try.
We still have Specialists on our side who still believe.
Medicine is only advancing.
We still have some time.

If anyone can do this, it’s YOU.
We’ll take it one step at a time, I promise, and if nobody wants to come along for the ride, we will always have each other.

Love from Me.

Hello, how are you?

Hello there!
It has almost been a month since I decided to take my little holiday from WordPress, so I thought I would pop in and say hello.
I appreciate all of your emails and kind wishes, and am in disbelief that I have still accumulated new followers without posting anything new.

I must admit though, I have considered taking down this site many times over the past few weeks. I have even regretted writing again and have wondered if it has caused me more harm than good to be raw and honest in communicating about my journey.
Many of you have emailed asking questions, which I thought I would quickly answer in the best way possible.

Did you get help from the Government/how did the meeting go?
I was lucky enough to get a very kind woman who explained that I am not allowed to apply for a Disability Pension as of yet, but she was more than happy to continue my current temporary payment, fortnightly, until early next year. It is not a Disability Payment, and it is not a large amount, but it is money nonetheless and I can put it straight towards my appointments.

The meeting itself went fine. She was very understanding, and didn’t feel the need to look at the folder I created (which kind of annoyed me because I put SO much effort into getting letters from Specialists and statements, results etc). We spoke briefly about my past job history, my immunity, my studies and symptoms and she was sympathetic towards this being a postviral condition. She also told me that if I am still unwell in January, I can have an extension.

How are you feeling?
I feel better than I did eight months ago.
The only setback I am currently having are rollovers of viruses. It is Winter here, and I seem to be getting the flu every fortnight. I recover for a week, and then get it again. Viruses unfortunately go straight to my stomach and destroy any consistency I have had with eating. Not to mention, it also further weakens me. I am also not allowed to take antibiotics or cold and flu medication so I am trying this au naturale system.

Apart from the neverending viruses, I have been better.
My nausea is only after eating, as opposed to every second of the day.
I have been able to eat three consistent meals per day.
I have been getting out more, little by little and am able to stand on my feet independently for longer. I still rely on help from others, and I get extremely tired quickly, but the dizziness is nowhere near as bad as before. I hope it remains this way.

Are you any closer to receiving more answers/what are you trying next?
My Specialist and I have agreed that we will probably never find a straight forward answer. I definitely have Gastroparesis, but it came back as merely mild. My symptoms have been quite severe, which brings us back to the theory of Post Viral. Every other test I have had has come back clear, and we have done them over and over again.
Which brings us to the conclusion that I need to focus my time on management rather than answers. I may never be the same again, but eventually, I will have to go back to work and “living” in the best way possible. So, all of my time and energy has been spent on trying to find my norm. I have simplified all of my Specialists:
Gastroenterologist for my Stomach.
Acupuncturist for my stomach, neck, and general wellbeing.
Osteopath for my neck.

What have you been doing with your time?
I have been trying to get out a little more than usual – to the shops, to parks, even for car rides. I have also been doing a lot around the house – getting my body used to movement. I have been watching reruns of Hart of Dixie and Pretty Little Liars (I need some trashy female drama to keep me sane), and spending a lot of time with my family.
I have also been cooking more often, and obviously attending my weekly appointments.

I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but considering where I was eight months back, I actually feel slightly stronger.

Do you still find yourself having bad days?
Of course.
Although I have made improvements, I find myself in the same depressing slump I have been in in the past. I don’t think that feeling will ever subside. I still have days where I can’t get out of bed, and I am extremely frustrated with myself for making improvements and then falling behind. I still have days where I want to give up because I feel that life isn’t worth it. I am still struggling to cope with losing so many “friends” in a short space of time… when I really needed them.
I still crave the old life I had, and all that I am missing out on… but I am trying to cope in the best way possible. I don’t know if it is the right way, but what really is the “right” way of doing this?

Has anything new happened?
I have put on five kilograms, which is exciting. I hope I can keep the weight on.
I found a miracle oil called “Kwan Loong” from Singapore which temporarily numbs my neck from the throbbing pain. I have tried many heat activated products before, with no success, but this one works wonders. The main ingredients are Menthol, Lavender Oil and Eucalyptus. A few of the ingredients in it are probably not recommended for longterm use, but if you are using it sparingly and it brings you relief, then I don’t see a big problem.

I also recently reconnected with someone I haven’t spoken to in about four months. It was a bittersweet feeling.

I think that is all my brain has time for. I am currently quite dizzy and struggling to breathe through my nose, or swallow due to what feels like razorblades in my throat.
I hope you are all as well as can be and have found management, relief or even answers.

I haven’t decided if I will continue to write or remove this page. I am quite enjoying the time away from Social Media. It has also helped me immensely with my neck problems and dizziness… but when I know for certain, I will be sure to inform you.

Sending my love to those who are experiencing bad days, and know that you are in my thoughts!

C xx

THIS is what Chronic Illness looks like.

You all obviously know about the irritating assumption that we are not sick, because we don’t LOOK sick.

People associate illness with common physical effects like pale skin, an agonised facial expression, weight loss, tubes coming out of our noses, a tumor or wound that is VISIBLE.

What does Chronic Illness look like?
What do our symptoms look like?

N O T H I N G.
They are I N V I S I B L E.
They cannot be seen, but are very much REAL.

So, lets set the story straight once and for all.
THIS is the face of Chronic Illness:

This is what Chronic Illness looks like.

Nauseous – Dizzy – Nerve Pain – Neck Pain – Stomach cramps.

I really encourage you to take a similar photo of yourself, and post it with the title “THIS is what Chronic Illness looks like“.

Tag me in it – reblog me – don’t steal this page and mark it as your own!

You don’t have to show your face if you would like to maintain privacy. Get creative!

Be the face for Chronic Illness, and,

help spread awareness for our cause!

Chronic Illness Realisations.

There is a struggle to accept new norm.
I am at war with my mind, every day.
I cannot accept the fact that I have an Invisible Illness, or that it cannot (currently) be managed.
I cannot accept the fact that this is my life now.
I feel like I am having the same nightmare night after night, and haven’t woken.
Accepting this, makes me feel helpless… as though I have reached the end of my story and the illness has won.

Doctors are only good when dealing with black and white.
If you have a concrete diagnosis, then Doctors are probably able to offer assistance.
But hand them months of tests and mystery results, and they have no idea how to treat you and become less compassionate to your situation.
It is frustrating for us, but isn’t their fault. Our condition probably gives them anxiety as their hands are tied when it comes to treating us.

Depression and Anxiety are inevitable.
We are coping with a lot during this time.
It is natural to develop Anxiety and Depression somewhere along the way.
We have a right to feel anxious and saddened.
Most of our lives have been turned upside down.
But it is important to remember that your Depression and Anxiety are not solely your illness.
They are underlying… symptoms even.
Your Chronic Illness led to the development of your Mental Illness.

The body is fragile.
I underestimated the ability of the body to crash, and to heal. I had a small cold, or viral infection, and I would push myself to work, to study, to go out.
Those days seem a mile away now.
My body is weak, and if it were to get a viral infection now I fear it would take weeks to recover.
I am not as strong as I thought.
All of the rest and vitamins in the world, would not rid me of this illness.
We are fragile creatures.

The world does not stop whilst we are ill.
We may feel as though we aren’t moving, but we are. We are growing older each day… but our motions aren’t changing.
We aren’t achieving, we aren’t earning.
It’s like having our feet cemented in concrete. I can move my arms, think, see, feel. But I can’t walk to the end of the block. I can’t break free from the hold. Meanwhile, people are continuously passing…

People have more time to pass judgement than to offer assistance.
I, as I’m sure you, recieve a lot of opinions from people in regards to my illness, and what I should be doing to “make a full recovery”.
I cannot comprehend how people have the time to voice their opinions, but cannot use thirty seconds of their time to giving us a phonecall, or sending us a thoughtful “how are you feeling?” message.
The way I see it is you either have time for me, or you don’t. If you have the time to tell me about the herbal remedies your great grandmother passed down to you, and that I should try to go to a Gym, do Yoga and eat more – then you have time to ask me how I am or pay me a visit.

Relationships are much harder to manage.
I don’t know how couples have time to be romantic or work on their relationship when one of them is chronically ill. Maybe I haven’t found the right person yet.
Chronic illness puts strain on relationships – romantic or non. I find myself being forced to only worry about myself, and that is a hard thing to do. I also find that the partner must focus more on being a financial aid and feels as though they wear the burden if being the main punching bag for my rollercoaster of emotions.
Partners feel neglected, unable to cope with the changes. They also may feel like the person they were with at the beginning, is now gone.
The partner has to be prepared to take on a little more of the weight, which is unfair.
The cycle spins – love, pressure, frustration, anger… until finally there is a natural drift between the both of you, and neither parties have the slightest energy to go on.

There is, though, a rare handful of people who have found that one who accepts them with their illness and battles alongside them. They have a plan that works. And to those who have found these special, supportive people – I am happy for you, and I’m indeed envious.

We have to be our own best friend.
I’m not going to lie, I hate my body… I hate myself since being ill. I am not happy with my appearance, my mindset, my struggle to heal.
I am angry.
But, who really understand this illness?
Who has to live through the symptoms?
Who knows you the best?

You.

We are alone most days… so, you might as well begin to like yourself at least, seeming as you are the only one who can fight this, and you will be spending a lot of time together.

We take too many things for granted.
I have a lot of time to think, and therefore I have a lot of regrets.
I have taken large and small things for granted.
If I get a second chance at good health, I know I will do things the right way. I will take care of my body during infections, I will travel, spend my time with those who truly love me, spend more time with my family, not stress as much and make the most of every second.
I will change, because I see how much I have lost now, and I feel soul-less.

How about you?
Have you had any different realisations since being ill?