struggle

R U Okay?

Tomorrow, (September 10), Australia partakes in R U OKAY Day.
For all of my followers who may not have heard of the day – it is a campaign targeted at changing the behaviour of people in regards to reaching out to those who are suffering.
This campaign is aimed at Suffering as a whole – this may include sufferers of Mental Health issues, illness, financial woes, even someone who is simply having a bad day.

This year, they have also added an interactive section where you can connect to Facebook and thank someone who has been there for you, who has taken time out of their day to listen to you, and who has spread awareness within the community. You can make known that they have done a selfless deed by thanking them via the website.

A family who suffered from a chain of mental health and grief themselves, began the campaign, and rely on the people of Australia to unite and spread the word. This day should not be celebrated once a year. It should be effortless to ask someone Are You Okay on a regular basis.
But, I understand.
Some of you are busy, some of you don’t know how.
Well, here’s your chance.

So, what is asked of you?

You are encouraged to send a message or make a call to your loved ones, friends, someone who you haven’t spoken to in a while, a stranger whom might be struggling, and ask them the big question, Are You Okay?

There are people suffering everywhere, but mostly in silence. They are not willingly open up and bombard you with the problems that they are struggling to face and manage.

The question itself might not mean a lot to you.
You could disregard this day altogether and give an excuse that sounds like;
“I am too busy”
“This is a stupid idea”
“I do not have time”
“I don’t know how to respond”
“I don’t know how to help”

You are entitled to do/think as you please, but I know that if it were you who were suffering, you’d want someone to make the effort for you. You’d want someone to listen.

Take a moment from your busy schedules, to reach out and check up on those around you.

Put aside anger, resentment, jealousy, grudges that have been held over petty arguments, the busy schedule you may have, and reach out to someone, or numerous people.

It takes less than thirty seconds,
to initiate conversation,
to ask those three simple words,
which might make someone’s day,
or save someone’s life.

So, please, I beg of you,

Be selfless,
Plant the seed,
Have the conversation,
Change a life.


For more information, please have a look at their website – https://ruok.org.au

#RUOKAY?

When the Kettle of Care Boils Over.

I am currently crying as I type this post.
Prior to being ill, I was incredibly impatient and always stressed out over the tiniest of things.
Chronic Illness forces, not teaches, you to be patient.
You really do not have a choice. You have to take everything as it comes.

My symptoms have changed my personality and love for life, but not my care for others.
I have a tendency of putting others before myself, (to the best of my ability now that I am ill), and when they don’t do the same in return or are inconsiderate, I find myself slowly boiling like a kettle. I cannot stop caring for others. It is in my nature to put others before myself, time and time again, until one person or event pushes me to my absolute limit, and I boil over.
My explosion usually ends in tears and rage.

I saw a side of myself on the night of my birthday, which I was shocked by.
It was a horrible build up to the day illness-wise.
I was with someone close to me, and had not eaten or had anything to drink all day due to the nausea. I was exhausted, and so disappointed in myself for not being able to dress up, and go out to celebrate.
I took a bath and looked in the mirror, telling myself repeatedly, “You disgust me”.
The next moments are a blur because when I came out from the bathroom, something small was said which caused me to snap.

I screamed, I cried, I hit the chest of my friend over and over again with clenched fists until they ached. My actions cannot be excused, but for what it is worth, I am tiny, and he is very much larger than me. He said it felt like a child was hitting him. I lost all colour in my face. I fell to the floor. I started shaking. My chest closed up, and I said through wheezed breaths,

“I want to die, now”.

And I picked myself up and ran to the balcony.

What happened next can only be summed up as, a struggle.
I am thankful that I had him there that night, to pull me back.

I have seen him a few times since then, but nothing had been said, until the other night he was staring at me as I laid in bed, and he started crying.
He told me how the image of me that night – pale, weak and full of rage – haunts him.

And now, knowing that I selfishly used him as my punching bag, haunts me.

The past few months have been quiet.
No more “how are you feeling” messages, or visits.
There have been a few phone calls to talk about other people’s issues. I don’t know if I should be thankful for the temporary distraction, or feel jealous because the only issue I am facing, that nobody wants to listen to, is me being unable to manage my symptoms.

My body has been riddled by nausea, dizzy spells, weakness and an inability to digest anything I put into my stomach.

Day by day passes, and loose commentary flies around about me exaggerating my symptoms.
I notice that nobody cares like they used to. They are harsher towards me.
I sit in silence and absorb.
You are fat, you are too skinny.
You are unattractive, you are lazy.
You are selfish.
You are avoiding work.
You can’t do anything right.
You haven’t tried hard enough.
You are unappreciative.

Night by night, I reflect, and I feel the boiling water rising.

After a night of 2am stomach cramps, nausea that would not subside, snappy little comments from family and friends, I have hit that point of no return, again.
But this time, there was no screaming or rage, only tears and numbness.

I don’t care anymore.
I am alone.
I am weak.
I am worthless.
I am a failure.

My symptoms have taken out everything enjoyable about life.
I don’t think that the Depression ever disappears. Sometimes it hides for a little while, whilst your mind is preoccupied by the illusion of happiness. I have noticed that my brain latches onto the tiniest amount of positive energy that it can find, anything to keep me here another second. Sometimes it lasts a few days, sometimes a few months… but as soon as that glowing ray vanishes, I fall back into my pit, and deeper than before.

I don’t want to be here just as much as you don’t want me here.
And when I disappear, I don’t want the fake apologies, or the sudden interest in my illness and what I had to battle each day. I don’t want people to pretend like they gave a fuck about me.
I am trying to find some great reason to stay here, but I can’t.
My brain is completely clouded by negative thoughts, and I am so, so angry.
I am angry with the people I have heard from, and the people I haven’t heard from.
I am angry with my family, at strangers, Doctors and Specialists, but mostly, I am angry with myself. I used to be stronger than this.

When it’s not one thing, it’s the other.

The “Positives” (as some would call it) of my past two weeks, were having one of those weeks nausea free. My stomach medication allowed me to eat anything and everything in sight. I also went to my Doctor for my monthly check-up, and I have gained two kilograms.
I saw glimmers of my old self creep back in. The small improvement made was definitely a little bit exciting. I should probably be more excited, but I guess that I hoped once we hit the eight-month mark, I would have had more answers than I do now.

Baby steps, I know.

On the plus side, I also managed to go to the Grocery Store with my parents yesterday, and zoom the trolley in and out of the aisles. I’m not going to say it wasn’t a struggle to remain standing (thankfully I had the trolley to lean on), but I made it through.

The downside to my past two weeks were the side-effects I got from taking Lyrica. My dizziness hit its worse point, and I struggled with what I refer to as “brain fog”. I sat on my couch for seven days and felt completely numb, except for my neck (which was really the ONLY place I was meant to feel numb).

I can’t explain the fear there is in being as dizzy as I was. My dizziness daily usually scales at 7. This was a straight out ten.
My head spun whilst standing, sitting and lying down.
I thought that if this illness was going to kill me, it would be now.
So, even against my Specialist’s wishes, I made a conscious decision to change my dose to one tablet per night instead of four a day. To my relief, my Dizziness has subsided to its usual level of annoyance, and my brain fog has mostly cleared. I’m not sure my Specialist will be happy about this, but I am an honest believer in the term “you know your own body better than anyone else”.
I have an appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist next week, as well as my first big meeting with the Government to organise a Disability Payment.
Both are bringing me anxiety.
I have probably seen close to fifty Specialists this year alone.
I am mentally exhausted.
Telling everyone this story, from start to finish, over and over again.
And, he’ll probably look at me like I am crazy.
I’ll probably pay him $400 to tell me that he cannot help or guide me in the right direction.
It is most likely a waste of my time, but I have to cross it off my list.
My Acupuncturist (the wise one that he is) summed it up pretty nicely today.

“Are you better? No. So, you have to seem him. You have to think of it as just another opinion”

And that I will do. There is a very slight possibility that he may be able to help.

The Government is also making my anxiety soar.
Sitting in a room, being looked over by their Doctors who are probably very narrow minded and have never come across a patient like me before.
I just don’t understand how an hour with them potentially “diagnosing” me, compares to my own Doctors and Specialists working on me for almost eight months and being unable to diagnose me.
It isn’t fair to take one glance over me and tell me that they think I am able to return to work because I appear to be well on the exterior.

Maybe they will surprise me?

Fast forward to the present, and my body is absolutely exhausted from my Osteo, Physio and Acupuncture appointments over the past three days.
My nausea has returned, as well as a worse case of the dizziness.
I also have these really great stomach cramps. I haven’t had them for at least three months.
I am stuck eating mushy food, dry crackers and sips of water.
I have noticed that after you have a rare set of good days, and the bad days return, they hit you a lot harder. I feel unable to cope. My body became somewhat adjusted to the dizzy spells and the nausea, and when they temporarily disappeared and my brain went on a happy high. I forgot what it was like to feel this… ill.

Now, set back into my reality, I don’t know how I managed before.
It seems foreign to me.
I was offered a tiny fragment of my old self, and then it was snatched.
It didn’t even last very long.
I feel robbed, and disappointed in myself… My body has shown me that it has the capability of getting better. Why can’t it just get better and not slip backwards?
I’m sitting here wondering how long it will take before I get another day where symptoms are at ease…

Someone special is taking me on a little adventure tomorrow.
I just hope I am even semi-well enough to go and to enjoy it.

When it is not one thing, it’s the other.

I Believe You.

I went through my last lot of tests today.
The Royal Eye and Ear Hospital for Inner Ear Testing – checking for Balance Disorders.

I know that other sufferers tend to say, “I went in with no expectations”.
Not true.
You went in with a tiny fragment of hope.
It may have been as small as a single piece of glitter, but it was still something.
You don’t have to pretend to be strong to me, or anyone else.
Be weak.
Cry about it.
Scream about the unfairness.
Punch and kick until your heart is content.
Just don’t lie and tell me that you are completely content with coming out with no answers.

If you lose all hope, you lose yourself entirely.

I had hope that today’s tests would close the curtain on my living nightmare.
I, as usual, came out with no answers.
I cannot tell you how disappointed I felt.
My heart sunk, my soul sunk – worse than any of the times before.
The final tests after months of exhaustion.
The Lady was lovely, though. She sat me down and said, “there is something called Functional Disorders. Things we as Doctors cannot see. You may be apart of the rarity of people who suffer from them. Some Doctors don’t believe what cannot be seen. But don’t worry,” she told me. “I believe you“.

In my six months of appointments, she was the first person to say those words.

I didn’t cry until I got home.
It hit me all at once.
I was holding onto the sink, trying to wash the dishes one at a time and incredibly slowly. As I scrubbed each utensil, I felt my head spinning. My weight leant on the sink entirely. My legs felt like jelly and my eyes began to roll. I had to keep telling myself, “not many to go, not many to go”.
My body has deteriorated, and I have no control over it, nor know why it has recently given up on me.

I cannot describe the dizziness in any other way than, my entire world spins when I am standing and my legs literally turn to jelly. I feel like I am falling. I am constantly nauseous too, and my stomach is refusing to digest properly. I am a mess.

Every test result has been negative.
Every Specialist I have seen sees nothing, therefore there isn’t a problem and the Nothing “cannot be managed”.

I can’t even stand on my own anymore.
Just fucking toughen up! I screamed at my inner self. Just show me where the problem is!
Nothing.
The tears welled and the small lump in my throat turned into a melon.

The life I had pictured for myself and the one I am currently living are very different.
Disability Pension fast approaching at twenty-two, no job, no career prospect, no savings, no partner, no travel experience, minimal friends, stuck inside these four walls, missing out on living, stuck in concrete with no answers.

The nightmare that never ends, and I can’t help but ask myself, why me?
If not me, it would have been somebody else.
I wouldn’t want anyone to suffer with this unknown disease inside of their body. I wouldn’t want them to watch all they had worked hard for, crumble beneath their fingertips.

I am exhausted and emotional.
I don’t want to hear that I am strong.
I find it insulting.
I’ve noticed that everyone likes strong people because they don’t ask for anything.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t need anything.

I need to be able to manage this.
I don’t know the point of this post tonight. I apologise for any grammatical errors as I am writing amidst tears. I am terrified of what happens tomorrow onwards. I am terrified.

I don’t know where to go from here.
The light at the end of the tunnel is now dim.

I just want you to know that if you are suffering from something similar, something invisible…

I believe you.

Sleep On It

I was lucky enough to be asked by my good friend Paul to write a piece for his Blog Series, “Coping: This Is Who We Are“. Writers are asked to create a piece entailing their struggles with Mental Illness and how they are able to cope on a daily basis.

My piece, “Sleep On It“, was published on his site yesterday.
Enjoy!


When you look back on your teenage years, you usually have the memories of parties, being social with friends, planning future career ideas, finding your way through puberty…

I remember illness.

I was forced to grow up quickly, at a young age.

While my friends were having their birthday parties, I was at home on the floor; crouched in a ball with my mum trying to feed me Parachoc through my wails.

While everyone began working their first jobs, I was in an Adolescent Clinic for sufferers of Eating Disorders.

During Graduation, I had Glandular Fever and was bedridden.

My first year of university had many absences, as I was diagnosed with Grade II Reflux Oesophagitis.
 Depression was, inevitable.

And this depression eventually led to take the pain out somewhere.

I was about fifteen when I carved symbols into my forearms and wrists. I thought that if I was going to have them forever, they might as well have been interesting to look at. I remember when my Mum first saw the scars. It was a few months later and I was in hospital. The Nurse put an IV Drip into my arm, and when she left the room, my Mum caught a glimpse of the scars from the corner of her eye.

She gripped my arm between her fingers and hissed, “Never, ever do that again”.

And, I didn’t for a long time.

Her blazing eyes were enough to burn straight through me. I was afraid of her finding them again.

Fast forward a few years.

I had made it into University, was in a relationship and was eating anything I wanted. I was at the peak of my health. (For those who have chronic stomach problems, you would understand when I say that we all crave something we are not allowed to have. Mine was Curry).

There was not a dark thought in my mind.

I thought I had been cured.

I felt invincible.

Little did I know that Depression never really leaves. It waits, and even if you have years of happiness and health, it will return during your slightest weak point. It latches onto a part of you that is uncertain, vulnerable and misunderstood, and then it will literally feed off of you until you are worn out.

Fast forward another two years.
 Things were very different for me. Changes had come, and I was not good with adjusting to change.
I was in a new relationship – one that was challenging and causing me a lot of unnecessary stresses.
I had chosen to focus on my new passion – Childcare.

As I was balancing fulltime study and fulltime work in a Children’s Centre my immunity was shockingly low. Every flu, Gastro Bug, rare disease that the children had – I got too. I put work and study before my friends and before my family, and things progressively got worse.

I woke up one morning, with Shingles in my neck and scalp, and I was bedridden for three weeks. In this time, I saw a glimmer of its return within my nerve pain, telling me that it was here to claim what was rightfully owed. I shrugged the feeling off, and returned to work… pushing my body to extremities.
A month later, with nothing much changed, I woke up with Shingles again. This time, I was out for four months. I had a complete nervous system shutdown. I began cutting myself again. There were some days where I would lie on the floor in my room for hours, just staring at the wall, crying.

I felt so much, yet I felt nothing

It returned during that experience; swallowing me with a whisper.

One, two, three, four, five;
Once I caught a Cass alive.
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten;
I won’t let her leave again.
Why won’t I let her go?
Because she needs to suffer so.
Come to war with all your might,
but I won’t let you win this fight.

I did fight.

I fought until the end in December 2014. I woke up a few weeks before Christmas, and was unable to move. I had Chronic Dizziness, intense Stomach Cramps and constant Nausea. The Depression was having a field day with all of this negativity. But when I thought that this was as bad as it could get, the Anxiety attacks began.

I would be happy one moment and then absolutely terrified the next. My throat would close up, I would have difficulty swallowing and breathing and it felt as though I had a vice in my chest… ripping my muscle wide open. I stopped sleeping, eating, feeling anything but the symptoms, and the numbness brought on by the Depression.

I told my partner every day that I wanted to die;

that I would be much better off feeling nothing.

But I built up the courage to tell my Doctor.

Do you know what he said to me?

“There is no shame in having Depression and Anxiety,

considering all you have been through”.

If you are a sufferer, you would know that admitting that you have the problem is one of the hardest things to do. I gave him every excuse.

I am fine.

I’m bad, but not that bad.

I am not sure about you, but I feared anti-depressants and anxiety medication. I did not want to be addicted to something, or have the choice of abusing it. I refused it time and time again, until one day I had no choice.

I am still coming to terms with my suffering.

Due to my other health issues at the moment, I have decided to steer clear from the anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication. I don’t recommend that choice to many. My circumstances make me feel that until I can manage the Invisible Illness and the symptoms that accompany it, the Depression and Anxiety will subside.

I will not tell you that I am miraculously cured and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I will not tell you to not find relief from the darkness.
I will also not tell you that I know entirely how to cope with this.
But, what I will tell you is to sleep on it.

The advice was given to me by an online Psychologist. She told me that for each time I wanted to leave, to sleep on it/wait twelve hours. And if you wake up feeling the same way, sleep on it again. Find the tiniest bit of happiness in your life and hold onto it with the tightest grasp. My happiness was very small. Breathing the fresh air, feeling sunlight on my skin, sitting in a room with scented candles…but small as it may have been it kept me going.

Most importantly, you need to know that there is no shame in having Depression or Anxiety.
 There is no shame in asking for help, or telling your story.
 There is no shame in writing a post that expresses your negative feelings.
 We need an outlet, or else it continues to eat away at us.
 I know that most people live in the shadows of Mental Illness.
 We fear what it will do to our minds – that it will consume us.
 We fear the reaction from others – being seen as weak.
 We fear the medication – what it will do and the addiction.

I still have a long journey ahead.

And it is not going to be a casual walk with Toto down the Yellow Brick Road.
 I will continue to suffer through the bad days and nights.
 I will find every reason as to why I should give up.
I will struggle with managing the Invisible Illness and loneliness.
 But for each time that I feel this way, I will tell myself to sleep on it. 
I don’t know what will happen in the future,
 but today,

I choose to stay.

 

Friendship in the face of Chronic Illness.

One thing that my Invisible/Chronic Illness has allowed me to see, is the world in a new perspective. My life is no longer about the petty problems I faced years ago, and the superficial crap. In spite of all of the symptoms and pain I must face each day, my time and energy is now purely spent on keeping my stress levels at a bare minimum, managing my symptoms and surrounding myself with supportive and understanding people.

Chronic/Invisible Illness is a funny subject. Once you announce that you are suffering, (or they hear along the grapevine) you are suddenly bombarded by people contacting you.

I refer to them as the Prodders, as they literally begin mentally/emotionally prodding you; questioning, encouraging, pushing, reminding, assisting, annoying, hating, etc.

I have put them into a relationship wheel will that comprises of four categories:

Permanent Prodder:
The friends who never really left to begin with.
They:
– contact you frequently
– try to understand your symptoms
– send positive encouragement
– convince you to keep fighting
– are loyal regardless of the situation
– offer to assist in any way possible
– pay you visits voluntarily
– preoccupy you when they know you need it
– don’t pass judgement
(They are the Keepers, and I can safely say that I only have four of them in my life)

Reappearing Prodder:
The ones who you haven’t spoken to in five years, and send you a message to let you know that they are suddenly thinking of you and are there for you. They are usually 85% of your Facebook friends. Look, I appreciate hearing from anyone, but with some people in this category, I often wonder if they really care? Or if it is just an act of kindness out of guilt. They contact you in case the illness gets the better of you, and they simply need to clear their conscience of all that happened in the past. If it is someone you had a falling out with/drifted from, Illness makes you realise how petty it all was to begin with, and I would like to think that this would be the perfect chance to make amends.
I don’t have to feel guilty anymore because I messaged her saying, “I hope you are okay”, “So sorry to hear of your struggles”, “I’m here if you need anything”.
But are you really there for me? Or will I most likely never hear from you again?

Occasional Prodder:
The ones who contact you with a message that makes you question why you were friends with them to begin with. They are the ones you went to school with, spent every day at work with for a few years, the friends you usually had the most fun with. They are usually the ones who send you the half-hearted messages – the memes, random photos, rants about their ‘oh-so-big’ problems in life. They whinge about their fulltime job, or going out every weekend and being ‘oh-so-tired’. They have all of the time in the world to speak about themselves, but not at one point do they ask you how you have been/how you are/if they can be of any assistance. It’s too much of an effort for them. And don’t bother trying to talk about yourself, because I’ve tried that, and somehow they revert the conversation back to themselves.

Disappearing Prodder:
In my case, I’ve had a few of these. One in particular. We spoke every day at a routine time. They understood me in a way that nobody else could.
They are the ones who swore that they would be there through anything. The ones you have probably helped more times than you can count. They probably know you are sick and have been along for most of the ride, and then suddenly, you don’t hear from them anymore. It’s as though your illness has hit them all at once, and it is more pressure for them, than it is for you. They can’t find thirty seconds in their day to reach out to you, and they most certainly don’t have the patience to listen to you talk about your illness or feelings anymore. They can’t put aside any differences you may have, and simply be there anymore. They don’t know how to handle it, and disappear.

If you don’t know if your friend is alive or not; if you don’t remember the last time you heard from them; if you know they are going through a rough time, NOW is probably the time to send that message or make that call. Its not hard. I don’t need you to be here every day.

I don’t need you to feed me, dress me, take me anywhere (unless you offer). I don’t want to have an entire conversation based on my feelings and symptoms. All I’m asking for here is a little consideration and support.

If you can’t be there for me at my worst point, and if you don’t think I’m worth staying in contact with simply because I am ill, then why should I want anything to do with you?
Whether I’m ill or not?

Because, I have a very big heart.

I struggle to find a balance between forgiving people and realising how much they have hurt me by choosing to leave.  I find myself “settling” and allowing these people to crawl back into my life – instead of telling them that what they have done is NOT okay.
You should be there for someone if they are strapped into a rollercoaster like this one!

I truly hope that something awful like this illness doesn’t creep up and surprise you one day, because you will unfortunately be faced with the same problems as I am. Unlike you, I am the type of person who will probably still offer you support and guidance. Shame on me, hey?

This illness is 90% a burden, and 10% a blessing, because it has taught me to grow up, to see how small the problems I used to face really were, and to realise who my true supporters are.

To quote the finest Miss Monroe:
I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I’m out of control, and at times hard to handle. But, if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.

You : your worst critic.

If dealing with the symptoms of Chronic Illness wasn’t enough, we also have to deal with the physical changes in our bodies, and having to face them mentally.
With detiorated health and immunity, comes physical changes that we have no control over. For example, I have lost weight at a ridiculously fast rate so I’m currently all skin and bones, my hair is falling out in clumps, my skin has turned to sandpaper and all of the colour has drawn from my face and turned me into a ghost. I look in the mirror and see someone who is sick, but I honestly cannot see the change in my weight. Others, can and they aren’t afraid to point out that I have a ‘problem’. They aren’t afraid to say,
‘wow you look shocking today’
‘Have you seen your um… face?’
‘What is happening with your hair?!’
‘You’ve lost SO MUCH WEIGHT’

I know that people aren’t doing this intentionally. They are stating facts, and probably don’t really know what else to say. So, um, maybe just don’t say anything at all?
Because yes, it bothers me, and I have no control over it.

If you read my post from earlier on in the week – Parents in the Shadow of Illness – you would have read that I was sent to an Adolescent Clinic in my earlier years. Sufferers of Anorexia, Bulimia and Body Dysmorphia were sent to this clinic too, so I was exposed (at a very young age) to this disease upclose and personal.
I didn’t know exactly how each of these teenagers felt, but what I understood from my time there was that they looked in the mirror and saw a completely different image to what was actually reflecting them.
I saw them hide behind their oversized jumpers and baggy tracksuit pants, and then further behind a trench-coat, because they weren’t happy with themselves.

I, myself, had been diagnosed with ‘Borderline Anorexia’. I remember asking myself, what the hell is the difference between borderline and straight out anorexic? We’re all underweight.
Why further break us down into smaller stereotyped categories?
Someone then told me that my illness was causing me to lose weight, and these teenagers were ‘doing it to themselves’.
No. It is not something that you ‘do to yourself’.
It’s a mental illness, or some people like me had no control over it as it was an alternate issue causing the weight-loss. It didn’t matter because it led to the same thing in the end; being underweight, unhealthy and judged.

When it comes to Body Image in general, why is it that we always believe our worst reviews? We can never accept a compliment, and when someone has the nerve to criticise our appearance, we let that cloud our mind and eat away at our thoughts.
There is always something, with EVERYONE, regardless of gender or social status.

Why do we become obsessed with wanting to be like someone else? As skinny as the celebrities, as tall as the models on runways, as attractive as that guy/girl you just saw on the train? (and here’s another thing, don’t gender discriminate. Guys suffer too). You’re looking at one girl, wishing you had her waist. She’s looking at another girl, wishing she had her breasts. That girl is looking at a guy, wishing she had his hair. And that guy is looking at another guy, wishing he had his body. It’s an endless cycle.

Isn’t there something beautiful in being DIFFERENT?
Imagine a world where we all looked exactly the same – that there was a median for men and women. Yes, there would be nothing to compare ourselves to, and no individuality! We would all blend in and there is no fun in that, is there?

There’s always something to complain about.
We wish our teeth were brighter.
We wish our thighs were skinnier.
We wish we had less spots.
We wish we were taller, shorter.
We wish we were curvier.
We want smaller breasts.
We want larger breasts.
We want less hair, more hair.
We want to be darker.
We want ‘natural’ skin, yet we use more makeup.
We want to look ‘beautiful’. What is beautiful, really?

I think that the true definition of ‘beautiful’ is being able to completely accept yourself with all of your flaws and imperfections.
To be able to look in the mirror, and PAST all of the negativity, and be proud of who we are, where we come from.
Sure, it’s great if you want to work on yourself and create a better you, but don’t interpret that as losing yourself in creating someone else.

As I said above, this illness has made my own personal view of my body and beauty, pretty harsh. Sure, I have the occasional day once every few months where I have a family event, slap on some make up and try to look ‘pretty’, but that’s rare and it doesn’t mean that I feel good on the inside.
I still cry every day because I don’t look the same as I used to. I cry because I feel unattractive. I cry because I can’t fit into my favourite clothes anymore. I cry because my body is working against me.

I am like you, my worst critic.

So here I am, flaws and all, sharing with you that it is PERFECTLY OKAY to not be someone else’s definition of perfect.
That we are beautiful with our illness, and without.
Bad Day vs. Not so Bad Day
We need to stop hating ourselves, and start loving ourselves.
You, are not alone X

Parents in the shadow of illness.

Thank you for sending through your ideas for my next post.
It was extremely hard to choose from, until I came across a response from a mother, and I knew in my heart that this was the one I had to write.
We hear stories of the teenagers and children going through Chronic Illness, Depression and Anxiety, but rarely do we hear from behind the scenes.
So, thank you to https://perfectlyimperfect05.wordpress.com/ for choosing today. I will try my best to do this topic justice.
Please take the time to read her inspirational work.


The first time I was seriously ill and hospitalised, I was about eleven or twelve. I had been complaining of stomach cramping for weeks, nausea and bloating. My parents just assumed it was a mild stomach bug. They pushed it aside. I woke up one night, though, on the floor screaming and my parents rushed me to the emergency room immediately. 
I remember the night clearly. The nurse unveiled the curtain and whispered to my parents, ‘the doctor would like to have a chat to your daughter alone’. I hated hospitals back in the days, just like any other child. They were white, gloomy and terrifying. My parents left the room, and the doctor came in. There was no time for introductions, he just cut to the chase.
“Are you being neglected by your parents?’
’
“Are you being starved?’
”
“Are you being abused physically or emotionally?’
’
My answer was obviously no, but he didn’t believe me, nor did he believe my parents. What we learned later on was that I suffered from severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and I was losing weight drastically because my stomach and bowels were holding onto food for long periods of time. I didn’t feel the need to eat.
And, somehow, I ended up in an Adolescent Clinic for children and teenagers who suffered from emotional or physical abuse, with a diagnosis of ‘Borderline Anorexia’. Every meeting I had with my counsellor, I was interrogated about my parents and brainwashed into believing that I was mentally ‘doing this to myself’ or that they were doing it to me. 
And after every visit, I ran back to my parents and told them everything.
Obviously, we didn’t stick around there for long.

I remember speaking to Mum about it a few years later, and asking her if she remembered, and she said it was the worst moment of her life. She couldn’t understand how someone would believe that she would want to hurt me. She said that the most hurtful thing is when someone attacks you for being a supposed bad parent.

When I had Glandular Fever, I remember my Mum feeling so helpless – my symptoms were so severe. I just lay in bed every day and night, shaking with high temperatures and there was nothing anybody could do to help me.
When I was diagnosed with Grade II Oesophagitis, they were broke just trying to keep up with my medical bills, trial medication and diet change.
Then there were the Shingles, twice, which left me bedridden once again. My neck glands had swelled to the size of golfballs, and I had excruciating nerve pain. My Dad tried to make me laugh as much as he could.
When I had my Laparoscopy last year, my body didn’t heal as quickly as it did the first time. She let me sleep in her bed for weeks, as night after night I screamed in pain. She would stay awake with me, and for each time I told her I couldn’t do this anymore, she told me that I could.

So, with a few brief memories there, you would already know that growing up, I have unfortunately always suffered from a low immunity and had DIAGNOSED illnesses. I often wondered if they regretted having me, because I seemed to cause an array of problems for them.
Late last year though, my health rapidly deteriorated. I was so sick, and off work for months at a time and not ONE specialist could find anything wrong with me. I was complaining of vertigo, not being able to eat, nausea, insomnia. I was weak at work and catching virus, after virus. My parents took me to appointment after appointment, and sat with me as every person came back and said ‘your results are all clear’.

There was one night where I cried so hard about feeling like a failure and that nobody (not even my own parents) believed me, that I gave myself one serious blood nose.
My partner was with me at the time, and there was blood all over my bed, his jumper and the floor. I held my hands over my nose, but the blood had trickled down my chin and onto the floor. I had created a small blood spilled pathway from my bed all of the way to the bathroom. It resembled a murder scene. My parents came home in the midst of me crying over a sink of running water, blood stained handprint on the mirror and basin, and my partner trying to soak up my blood from the carpet with wet paper towels. I could hear them whispering as I cried. She just won’t stop crying, he told my Mum. I don’t know what to do. My Mum has never been good with blood, so I clearly remember my father entering the bathroom with a cold flannel and he put it on the back of my neck. I (stupidly) tried to breathe through my nose, and a large blood clot flew straight up my nasal passage and into the back of my throat, making me dry retch. I (again, stupidly) opened my eyes and there in the sink was the same blood clot.
My Dad passed me tissues and patted me on the back. He left and returned with an icepack for my neck, and then went to my Mum and Jason, and I looked into the mirror. My face was covered in blood, which had dried at the corners of my lips and the tip of my nose. My Dad had never been so… hands on with me before. I felt like a baby bird with a broken wing.
I knew it was coming. They sat me down for ‘the talk’.
I had had their support for years, but today was different. I could feel it.
“You need to make lifestyle changes”, they told me.
“How do we treat something that isn’t there”
“We don’t know what to do”
“How do we help you?”
“Eat. Just please eat more. You have to eat more”
“We can’t see you like this anymore”
And just like that, they had reached their breaking point.
Their faith in me had diminished and it was only then that I realised how much suffering they had gone through and how hurt they were. They had been there for me every step of the way. They had mostly paid for every appointment, every medication, waited through every surgery, procedure and test. They had sat beside me and experienced the same sickness in the pit of my stomach when each practitioner told me they had no idea what was wrong with me. They dragged me along in shopping centres, because I was too dizzy to walk. They watched me lose seven kgs in less than a month. They watched me lose my dream job, and they saw that my usual confidence had completely disappeared. They cleaned up my blood off of the floor, and face. They drove me everywhere, and took countless days off of fulltime work to accommodate for me; whether it was an anxiety attack, an appointment, a day where I needed someone to help me at home.

I was angry with myself.
I had never once asked how they felt through this.
I had never truly appreciated their help, or guidance, until now.
I realised that we all needed to speak about everything – the symptoms, the feelings.
They were worried that they were going to have to bury me.
I had to make sure they knew this illness was serious, but that I wasn’t doing it intentionally.

And from that day forth, we were all on the same page.
We speak about everything now; every appointment, every single thing that each Specialist suggests. We discuss what medications to trial/not trial. We have an Appointment Calendar so we can work around each other. My Mum has trialled some of the natural therapies with me, and my Dad has actually networked trying to find new trial possibilities. They are continuously checking up on me during the day, and are always telling me not to stress because it ‘makes things worse’.
I inform them of every appointment, and we have received help from family and friends so that I’m not always relying on my parents. I have learnt to cope with the symptoms more independently, so on weekends, they have time to themselves and go on day trips and spend more time together alone. I’m not saying that our lives are even close to normal – because they aren’t. I am still struggling, as I know they are; having to watch me go through this. But things are much better now.
We try not to think of the future much, but if it comes up in conversation, my Dad always says, ‘You won’t be like this forever. Medicine is always growing and one day someone will be able to diagnose you or help you manage this”

I guess we have to hold onto something.

To the parents out there – I am in awe of you and forever will be.
I know now how hard it is for you to watch your child experience something and not have the ability to free them from the pain. Don’t give up hope. Talk to your children. Don’t give up on them, but most importantly, don’t lose yourself in the illness either. make time for yourself and your partner and communicate.

To the sufferers – you can sit back and write as many blogs as you like about feeling alone in your suffering and how your parents don’t understand.
Maybe you need to tell them more than once.
Some parents are in denial – not because they don’t believe you – but because they don’t want their beautiful child to have a problem, let alone a serious one.
Please, try.
And if that doesn’t work, try again.