Personal

Fed Up. Afraid.

Fed up.

Frustrated.

In so much pain it is almost impossible to concentrate.

Disclaimer: If you don’t want to read what will probably be somewhat of a downer then I suggest you don’t read this and wait till the next time I post something! It’s just that, this is my blog, my space to write, and today I’m struggling so I think I just need somewhere to be able to vent.

When you have a chronic condition like mine, one with no cure, not even an exact treatment, one that even doctors don’t quite understand, it is difficult to explain it to other people. I mean who would want to sit and listen to what it’s like to no longer remember what life without some kind of pain was like? Who could be expected to able to understand that on one day my energy levels might be at 50% and I can actually leave the house and do something I enjoy but the next they might be close to zero and I can’t do much but lie in bed for absolutely no explainable reason? Who could actually be expected to be prepared to be there through all of the lows?

When I was in my first year of university I wrote a post on what it means to suffer from fibromyalgia. Things go up and down but nothing has changed, not really.

I have to admit that I’m afraid. I’m afraid of being taken seriously by people who can’t, and sometimes refuse to, understand. I’m afraid that going to see a doctor and expressing just how bad things can be will have them turn to the same old easy option of deciding that if I’m struggling I must be depressed because of course it couldn’t possibly be completely normal to struggle when your body feels like it has given up on you. I’m afraid that this is it, for the rest of my life. I’m afraid that many of my friends just don’t see what it really means so don’t really support me. And I think one of things I’m most afraid of right now, as I am single after so long, is that no man will ever be prepared to deal with this. How can I ever expect to meet someone and not frighten them away because they don’t want to face the side of me that isn’t all light and sunshine?

In life I can be cynical, my sense of humour can be rather dry and self-deprecating. But I am a positive, happy person. I believe in the power of the simple things. I believe that we should love freely, and as much as we can. I believe in making the most of what we have, and being grateful for everything we are given in life.

I want to live my own life as much as I can, I have goals, I put the energy I do have into projects and things which will make me happier. I give as much as I possibly have to the people that I care about, the people that I love. I just fear that sometimes, because no matter how I choose to live my fibromyalgia will always be a part of me, that I won’t be good enough. What if I’m not enough?

Sophie x

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Four Simple Goals… Before 2014.

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So my condition seems to be continuing to get worse, my pain levels are heightened, I have sharp stabbing pain in the base of my spine, I usually wake up with a head ache, and my energy levels are pretty low. In an effort to think positively and try to enjoy life despite all of that I thought I’d write about my current goals.

I was reading Elanor’s blog blueeyedgirlstrikesback and came across a post which she wrote, inspired by a post from A Beautiful Mess.

The rules, created by Elsie, are as follows:

1. Choose simple goals that will make your life richer and happier on a daily basis. Choose things you may not otherwise get done but are not difficult to accomplish.

2. Do not choose result oriented goals. Choose activity oriented goals. For example, instead of “lose 10 pounds”, choose something like “eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day”. Get what I’m saying? Positive actions instead of just the end result!

3. Choose personal goals you believe will truly make your life richer just by doing them! They can be daily, weekly or one time experiences.

4. Choose a reward for each goal as it is accomplished! It can be a small or large reward—it’s up to you.

5. Blog about your goals, each one as you achieve it and a big post when they are all finished before the new year! 

It would be easy to make goals which relate to my work, but I have so many writing and research related goals this semester already and rule number one states that my goals should make me happier. Whilst finishing all of my uni work will of course be a positive thing, I’d argue it isn’t about making myself happier.

I definitely have a tendency to make myself target orientated goals, things which have a structured method to achieve them and a finite ending but I rarely set myself more abstract, action orientated goals so I enjoyed this challenge. It wasn’t easy to create goals which didn’t have a completely set aim but it was a refreshing change. Here are my four goals:

1. Listen to my body more. I love my food but sometimes I think this impairs my judgment of when I am actually hungry and when I am actually full whilst I am eating. My younger sister has always been very good at only eating when hungry and stopping the minute she is full and this is something I want to teach myself.

2. Sing. Music, but more specifically singing has always made me happy. I can escape into the melody and the lyrics, express myself through the song. Although I have never really enjoyed singing for an audience because of nerves I had singing lessons for years and just adored singing for myself. I haven’t been singing much recently and I want to allow myself to find my voice again without the pressure of exams and concerts. What better time of year to do this than now with Christmas carols just around the corner?

3. Take more photos. My wonderful camera has been sadly neglected recently and I want to get back into taking more photos of daily life. It’s coming to Rome with me this weekend and I’m sure the beauty of the city will inspire me again.

4. Stretch daily. I look after my body as much as I can, it’s the only real way I have of trying to combat my condition, but I have to admit I haven’t been making much of an effort to take the time to stretch out my body everyday. It’s relaxing to do so it fulfills two positive purposes.

In accordance with the rules I will blog about achieving my goals and think up some nice rewards for when I do!

Let me know if you set yourself any goals this year too and whether you prefer target or action orientated goals 🙂

Sophie x

Looking Forward.

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So a long time ago (a really long time ago – oops!) I promised you all that I would write a post about my plans for the future and I thought it was probably high time I got round to writing said post. Although I’m a girl who knows her own mind I have never really known what I want to do with my life until recently. I’ve always been full of vague and completely oppositional ideas of what I could do but I’ve never been hugely taken with any of the options I came up with. One thing I have always been aware of is how much I enjoy working with children, everyone always jokes that children are drawn to me the way animals are to certain people but it’s true. I’ve always found it easy to be around and care for children. So this led me to make a decision. I didn’t want to graduate at the end of next year, still without a clue about what I want to do and with nothing set up for the following year. I have decided that I am going to apply for a PGCE (postgraduate certificate of education) to become a primary school teacher, when I finish my undergrad.

Yep. I’m going to be a teacher!

Scary.

If you read my blog regularly you’ll probably know that I am in my second year of university studying English Literature so I’m currently starting my dissertation and trying to work my way through an enormous pile of reading for when my next semester starts. University is such an amazing experience and I’ll be so sad for my undergrad to finish but I am really excited for what lies ahead after it all. I have started to have all of these ideas about what I want to do with my life and it’s filling me with inspiration.

I have always had this urge to help people, especially those who are in some way vulnerable and really need it. I’ve recently applied for a volunteer position helping at an after-school club for children and young people with Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism. It’s such a difficult condition to live with in our society, so many people don’t really understand it and just struggle to deal with people who have autism. People with autistic spectrum conditions, especially young people, have so many obstacles facing them in society and the club allows them to relax a little and interact with other young people with their condition in a safe and comfortable environment. I think having clubs like this one is a vital and really wonderful thing and I really hope I get the placement so that I can help even in a tiny way!

In my work I have often spent time with children with varying behavioural conditions and disabilities like autism, severe ADHD, and dyspraxia and I know how difficult it is for children with any kind of condition to develop their skills, interact with other children, and fulfill their full potential, without help, and I know they deserve that help. So, whilst the ideas forming in my head will be difficult to make a reality, I want to persevere and get there one day. What I have now set my sights on is becoming an Educational Psychologist.

Now this would definitely not be easy. First of all before I could even hope to become qualified I would have to do a two-year conversion course. Then there is the actual three-year doctorate… And on top of all of that in the current economic climate many educational psychology positions are frozen and it is incredibly hard to actually get the work. But none of this is really phasing me (I must be crazy!). I want to do it, I want to better myself and I just really really want to help children.

So I’m going to start by becoming a teacher. I want to teach for a couple of years before I consider starting anything else. Then I want to think about going overseas to volunteer in Africa and help teachers out there improve their schools and their teaching (but that’s for a whole other post!). Then maybe in my late twenties I’ll start my conversion course… So yes, I will be in my thirties before I achieve my ambition, but to be honest I think to work in a position like that you need a lot of experience and a high level of maturity so I’m not daunted by that!

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Well there you have it, a rather wordy post about my big plans for the future. It is a long way off but it feels so good to have ideas and inspiration for what I want to do with my life. And I know that as long as I get to help children, and as long as I’m feeling fulfilled and positive about what I do, I’ll be happy.

I’d love to hear about what your great plans for your future are! Were you someone who always knew what you wanted to do or like me did it take you years to figure it out? Hope you’re all well!

Sophie x

In the End.

This is the hardest post I’ve ever sat down to write. There is just no easy way of getting this out of my head and on to the screen.

After over five wonderful and happy years Tom and I have decided to part ways.

Just writing that sentence makes my feel really strange. The past couple of weeks have been incredibly difficult and I have learnt that it is important to let yourself cry and that it is okay to feel good one minute and then lonely and confused the next. I don’t want to share the intimate details of what happened because they are between Tom and I but I will say that it was a mutual decision. We are not angry with each other, in fact we still care for each other a great deal. It was just time to move on.

Right now it’s hard to picture my life without him, he really has been my other half. But despite the pain I feel now I don’t regret a single day of those five years, they hold some of the most special moments of my life and I will always treasure those memories.

I thought long and hard on what to call this post but I finally settled on ‘In the End’, one of Tom’s favourite songs by his favourite band. He taught me so much and made me very happy for a long time, and I hope that one day, when time has healed all our wounds, we can be friends again.

There is no easy way to get over someone, especially your first love, but even as each day feels a bit strange right now I know that eventually things will be easier and I’ll be myself again. I hope you can all understand that I needed some time away from the internet to put my head in order and deal with the emotions swirling through me, I may be a little sporadic with my blogging but I promise I haven’t disappeared altogether! Things may be a bit tough right now but I do have some really positive things happening in my life right now and I have lots to tell you all.

Hope you’re all well!

Sophie x

Summer Goals – Be More, Do More.

So this year, I didn’t set myself any new year’s resolutions. I decided that I didn’t want to make myself a list of things to achieve, a list of things that needed to be ticked off or I’d have failed. Who wants that kind of pressure? Instead, I resolved to throw myself into new opportunities and to maybe push myself a little more out of my comfort zone.  Now, almost halfway through 2013, I feel like I’m doing well. I have definitely welcomed new challenges and made the most of any opportunity given to me: I’m moving out to live with friends next year despite that not having originally been on the cards, I’ve made scary decisions about forging ahead with my plans for the future (more on that later!), and I’ve challenged myself to live more for the moment and more like a 20-year old and not an 80-year old!

Despite this talk of no lists, I now feel as though it is time to write myself some new goals. I have four months of time off university ahead of me and I have so much to do that I can’t let the time just disappear. So these are my aims for the months ahead, they are not concrete or particularly quantifiable but they will give me some focus and make everyday more motivational.

Read everyday!  The thing I miss most during term time is being able to read whatever I fancy. My weeks are consumed by the texts on my reading list, and not all of them are very enjoyable, I’m left with almost no time to read purely for pleasure. So this summer I have a huge reading list all of my own and I will be writing lots of blog posts reviewing those that I enjoy the most.

Make the most of the sunshine. Recently we have been enjoying lots of lovely sun and it’s marvellous. I’m already a little browner because I’m spending every minute that I can outside to make the absolute most of it. What this goal is really about is spending more time outside. I love being outdoors, especially when it’s a little warmer, and I really want to get all of the fresh air and sunshine that I can.

Get set for the future. I won’t go into this one too much as I’m going to write a post about it but I’m aiming to make some more finite plans for my future after graduating, I’ve never really known what I wanted to do but I’m starting to find my feet in the world and figure out what I want in life!

Research. As I am about to embark into my third, and final, year of my degree I now have my dissertation on the horizon. I want to combine two of my interests and explore the ideas about food and self-starvation in literature and this summer is the time for research, research and more research.

Look healthy, feel good, act confident. During exams I tend to eat more and gravitate towards more unhealthy food, I don’t really mind or feel guilty because I have more important things to focus on then, but now that I am finished for the year I’m back to my healthy choices and I’ve started lifting weights again. I have the most gorgeous red bikini and I want to be able to lounge by the pool run around on the beach and feel confident with my body and my own image!

Have fun. One of my closest uni friends, Sophie, is staying here to work during the summer, all of my friends from home are back, Tom is here (or I’m in London) on the weekend, and my sister and best friend, Alice, is here too. Friendships are so important and I cherish every single one of them, this summer I want to make the most of what is possibly our last shared summer holiday and do lots of fun things. Day trips, coffee dates, picnics, nights out, I want to see everyone and just enjoy the time off 🙂

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So here you have my goals or resolutions for the summer months ahead. I have a feeling it’s going to be a wonderful time, I’m so blessed to have so much. I hope you are all having a really lovely week! I’d love to hear your summer plans! Are you going on holiday? Or doing anything exciting in the next few months?

Sophie x

It’s the Little Things.

So I had a couple of posts lined up but… I got sick. I’m actually pretty poorly, it’s just a bad cold but when I get ill it affects me more and the illness in turn exacerbates my fibro so I end up just feeling generally rubbish. But you know me, instead of going to bed and staying there, I was determined to go see Tom in London this weekend and then I met a couple of friends in town this week so yeah… It just meant that I did not feel at all up to posting. I’m not feeling even 60% yet but I wanted to write.

Seeing as I’m feeling so rotten, the only thing it makes sense to write about is things that make me feel just a little bit better!

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I know Easter is now over but I can’t help but miss the hot cross buns…

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Breakfast in bed. Need I say more?

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Reading by the window.

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Blankets, hot water bottles, and cuddles with my cat.

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Hot chocolates.

It really is the little things in life which make all of the difference. My days can sometimes seem a little blue when things are tough with my health but there are always little things which make a bit of difference and lift the spirits. It’s all about the positivity people, it can make a whole world of difference. As one of my closest friends tweeted this morning – ‘The best way for a person to have happy thoughts is to count their blessings, and not their cash’. Count your blessings, even the tiniest positive occurrences can make you a lot happier.

I hope you’re all really well and that you’re having a good week!

Sophie x

The End of an Era?

So I mentioned last Sunday that things have changed for me when it comes to matters of my health. People who have read my blog for a while will know that for the last six years I have had to deal with various different problems – back pain, stiffness, extreme fatigue, dizziness, headaches, trouble standing and walking etc. To put it in a simple term, I have a condition called fibromyalgia. (If you want to read about it there are several posts in my Posts Worth a Read section.)

I have been going to the hospital, the doctors, and the physio for almost six years now and on Friday afternoon something happened. I was discharged from the hospital. 

Basically the doctors can do no more for me. There is no cure and I have tried the vast majority of the treatments available so for now, I’m on my own. It feels a little odd, I’ve been going to hospital for so long that it has become a part of my life (I’m aware that’s quite sad), I can’t imagine not going. But for now, unless my condition changes, I won’t be going back.

It’s not all bad though.

I am determined that if I am going to have to live with this condition, I am just going to live with it. I want to really LIVE. So in a way, no longer having to deal with all sorts of hospital appointments means that it will be easier for me to feel like I’m leading a normal life.

Being at university and living at home this year means that life is slightly on hold, or perhaps it’s just that it’s easier. I feel a little like I’m a bubble which is cushioning me from the difficulties of adult, working life. Next year I am moving out again to live with some lovely lovely people from uni and it will be a nice in between step to help me figure out how well I’m be able to cope with my condition on my own.

I don’t know what I want from life yet, I just know that I want to do something that makes me happy, surround myself with wonderful people, and carry on finding pleasure in the simple but beautiful things in life. Who knows where I’ll end up or what I’ll end up doing but for now, I just want to move forwards in my life.

Stay positive everyone!

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(I wanted to include this lovely image of spring as it has been horrible snowy weather here and I’m trying to pretend we have sunshine and blue skies! Is it snowing where you are?)

I hope you’ve all had a great weekend and enjoy the build up to Easter 🙂

Sophie x