The month of both excitement and tears

June feels like it’s flown by. I think that’s because I just haven’t stopped and if I have stopped it’s been because I’ve been so unwell that I’ve been unable to even watch TV.

June started with me with my family and ended with me back up north due to flat stuff. Moving out is not fun. But we move (Literally in 4 weeks from the day this will be posted). I definitely miss being home. Although my chronic illnesses are a lot worse and my family just don’t get it I’m finding it’s too quiet working from home on my own. I’m bored, not because I don’t have enough to do but because I need that stimulation of people (and dogs around). But the health benefits are certainly worth it. Lots of exciting law things happened this month. I got a video interview for my dream law firm (and then got rejected but we move).

I also got an interview for a scholarship I need which is at the end of July. The pressure is on because I need it but I’m excited. I also took part in Legal Cheeks virtual vacation scheme which helped me massively in determining what I want for career and in providing me with a network.

I really hope my luck in terms of interviews continues and I get some more interviews for my outstanding applications. If I don’t that’s also fine as I’m aware many firms have paused recruitment and it’s a difficult year. There is always next year.

My stomach eased up after I moved back to my apartment as it’s meant I can eat more flexibly and in a way that works for my body. My bladder on the other hand. I’ve spent the last week on antibiotics for a UTI that may or may not be there. It’s helped reduce the spasms but it’s still causing significant problems, especially if I dare drink more than one cup of coffee a day. I am at the moment whilst I’m trying to pursue law, trying to work my full time job and trying to sort out a job for August (I’m resigning it will be official by the time this is published).

My mum and nan are putting an awful lot of pressure on me about my decision. I’m leaving because I’m simply not well enough. I need to get my health back so although I’m looking for an ideally part time role my interest in something full time is limited to something of the dream job category. It will only be 5 months come resigning until I start my LPC so I reason if nothing I’m well enough for is available I will manage living with my parents and worst comes to worst just doing general CV bolstering activities.

There’s only so long you can push yourself for and although I am getting out of this ME flare, I think, Maybe that’s the adrenaline speaking, I need to place myself in the best position to excel in my LPC and go on to have a long career in law. I also need to recondition and doing that whilst working isn’t going well right now.

Passing out when trying to sit up after a laying down workout isn’t fun!

So that was June! How was the month for you?

Dealing with rejection

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I don’t think I’ve already covered this, or if I have I’ve not dedicated an entire post to it. Which is strange considering just how much rejection I have faced.

At the end of April I was rejected from my dream job, although I was put on the reserve list so maybe if we keep our fingers and toes crossed it will come to me. Or not and something else will happen that was so meant to be.

And very unlike me, I dealt with it okay. Maybe I’ve experienced so much rejection that I’m immune to it.

I was able to appreciate that getting as far in the recruitment process as I did was an achievement in itself. Many people who get the job are a lot more qualified than me, or a lot more privileged and from better universities.

I was able to appreciate that rejection isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t mean I’m not enough or I didn’t try hard enough.

It’s just life.

Life makes no sense sometimes especially when your dreams seem to just not be coming together. But I truly believe that one day it will all make sense. l

God has a plan.

He just doesn’t make us aware of that plan.

Fibromyaliga

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May 12th was fibromyalgia awareness day. May is also fibromyalgia awareness month so I thought I should write a lil something to raise awareness. Yes I have three chronic illnesses with the same awareness month.

Fibromyalgia is a widespread chronic pain condition which causes pain all over the body. This is generally nerve pain and is often sharp, electric shock like burning pain. I find mine can radiate around my body so much so that I am unsure what part hurts the worst. Or it will target a specific part of my body like my lower left leg and stay there, leaving me unable to walk normally.

Fibromyalgia often causes tender points and previously this was used as diagnosis. I don’t often get tender points, other than in my lower legs, not that I’ve noticed anyway and I’ve never had a full tenderpoint examination.  These tender points mean some sufferers find that they can’t bear their own clothes without causing more pain.  Although I don’t have tender points as such my sensitivity to pain has increased. I never used to feel blood tests or vaccinations and now “sharp scratch” feels like a lot more than a sharp scratch.

Fibromyalgia also causes morning stiffness and unlike ME/CFS which is a very similar illness can be managed through exercises. (Low impact exercise like swimming, Pilates, walking etc.) As I have both I find gentle movement and stretching can oftentimes help my pain, especially in the moment but there’s a danger of doing too much and then getting payback.

People with fibromyalgia often get migraines, suffer from IBS like symptoms, have numbness and pins and needles, fatigue, brain fog, TMJ, bladder issues, in females increased period pain. On that note there is a link between endometriosis and fibromyalgia, or atleast seems to be.

I know many women who have both and I myself am suspected to have both and a doctor has actually said to me before I got my fibro diagnosis that the increased widespread pain I was feeling was likely due to my body being in so much pain with gyne stuff for so long.

It causes insomnia, which for a fatigued population is really not fun. People without sleep issues probably think if we were lacking that much energy we could just sleep all day.

But fatigue and sleepiness are very different things and sometimes our symptoms are overwhelming that it is simply impossible to get to sleep.

It’s common for people to mistake it as a psychosomatic but although fibro can be triggered my emotional trauma it is not psychosomatic. We just don’t have a biomarker. It’s a diagnoses of exclusion although many people get fibro diagnoses and later find they actually had something else.

It’s also common for people to ignore the spectrum and think just because one person can do an active job we can all do active jobs or we can all work at all. This isn’t true. It’s so complex and varied, every person with fibro is different and some of us have access to effective pain control others of us don’t.

Ibuprofen and paracetamol may help some people but it does nothing for my symptoms. I take the maximum dose of gabapentin but also use heat ice, heat cream, freeze gel, spiky balls and self massages.

Pain management is a cocktail of things. It’s also very much trial and error. Managing the other symptoms can be even harder, with doctors often unable to provide useful treatments the cost often falls upon us to make often expensive lifestyle changes which will come to no surprise as often unaffordable, especially if relying on benefits.

Fibro has no rhyme or reason and is almost impossible to understand until you get it but I hope this has given you all some sort of insight.

Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

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It’s May. Which is apparently all of the awareness months. Feels like some sort of conspiracy to be honest. But one of those is Ehlers-Danlos awareness month. (EDS)

All forms of EDS are genetic disorders of the connective tissues. Connective tissue makes up pretty much everything in the body, other than the muscles which means the symptoms and signs can be prevalent throughout the body and there are a number of common comorbidities that arise.

I’ve recently been diagnosed with the Hypermobile type of EDS (h-EDS). And I’m still kind of in denial and maybe that’s because I’m not that bad. I’m not that hypermobile and I’m certainly not flexible because I have v tight muscles. I score 5 on the Beighton Scale, but also have hypermobile ankles, hips and shoulders and suspect my neck is hypermobile as I am getting more issues there. Weirdly I do partially dislocate parts of my body that aren’t hypermobile, but based on things that have been said to be by physios about how I stand and how that’s caused other issues, it’s likely I was in the past.

There’s no genetic test for h-EDS yet and diagnosis is made by ruling out other conditions including other forms of connective tissue disorder and EDS if you look like you may be a candidate for one of those diagnoses and by ticking a certain number of boxes based on hypermobility and wider manifestations of a connective tissue disorder. (Stretchy skin, velvety skin, Easy bruising, mitral valve prolapse etc) Family history and actually being symptomatic is also taken into consideration.

You don’t need family history to get diagnosed or even to have EDS as spontaneous mutations are possible, and it could be that previous family members are less effected than you or doctors just failed to diagnose them and that’s why there’s no family history.

I don’t have a diagnosed family members but I don’t think I’m a spontaneous mutation.

Denial or not a diagnosis of h-EDS explains my entire life. It explains the proprioception issues I have, it explains my bad handwriting. It explains why I went through I phase of spraining my ankles every two seconds and them not being the same since.

Me constantly having injured ankles was the first time I experienced people not believing me when I said I was in pain. I was 8 and my teachers believed I just wanted to sit out of PE. I see how that can be interpreted, especially when it happens week in and week out but that wasn’t the case. I actually loved PE, especially back then as I had friends to go with. But the impact of running wasn’t good on my ankles. My parents belived me at this point although they didn’t take me to a doctor and just said I’d sprained my ankle.

It explains the constant nausea I experienced since the age of 10 until I figured out how to cut things from my diet and control what I ate to manage it as best as possible. Now I’m able to start reintroducing things. The headaches, the knee pain caused by running and horseriding. I eventually quit horseriding because an hour of my feet in the stirrups was just so uncomfortable. Let alone two. The shoulder pain the hip pain.

I could go through my life bit by bit in order of what joint went wrong first.

I now have multiple daily subluxations (partial dislocations), many of which the outsider is unlikely to notice. They’re not all excruciating traumatic experiences. And often I hide it. No one wants me to share very single subluxations and I don’t have the time and energy for it. I fully dislocate less often but it happens and it hurts. My muscles tighten up to prevent these things from happening and that also hurts. I’m in daily widespread pain. I also suspect my bladder issues are EDS related and although they’re not bad by EDS standards it still hurts, and it’s a nightmare. I suspect I have retention issues and it means the more I need to go the less I can go. I have painful bladder spasms and get frequent UTI’s. I constantly need to go because I never get the feeling that I’ve emptied properly. I’ve also experienced incontinence which was embarrassing when I was younger. It has a very real effect on my life.

And that’s why we need awareness. Not just to the general public but also to medical professionals who still struggle to connect the dots. It takes a lot of emotional energy to go back and forth to the GP over what is often taken as 101 different symptoms. It’s exhausting to tell each new doctor the same story. It’s exhausting to get 101 referrals for all the issues you have, and that’s why I haven’t yet solved the entire puzzle.

I have so many symptoms that it’s simply overwhelming. We need allies, we need advocates we need doctors to stop putting it down to “growing pains” or some sort of hysteria or psychological distress.

We’re really sick, albeit at different levels of sick and the earlier the diagnosis the more chance of people not deteriorating as much as they otherwise would.

 

 

Living with chronic illness in lockdown

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Many have said that lockdown gives the normal healthy population a taste of what it’s like to be chronically ill. The constant missing of something and the loss of purpose is very similar to what happens when you get a chronic illness. Especially one that causes you to lose your job, lose friends and end up largely housebound.

You could say that us chronically ill folks have been equipped to the challenges of social isolation.

However, social isolation and lockdown can bring up it’s own challenges.

Suddenly the whole world is trying to get fit and make gains by working out at home. Trying to be productive whilst in lockdown.

Doing all the things we wish we could spend our days doing but can’t.

I wish I could bake more than a super simple no mess recipe without payback. I wish I could spend an entire day reading. I can read for 10-20 minutes without having to take a break and can’t sustain that throughout the day. I wish I could delve into a new series and binge it in a day. Actually watching it, following it. Instead of dozing throughout and having it on in the background.

I wish I could spend hours perfecting tiktok dances. Instead one attempt and my chest acts up for a good hour.

Without discussing the fact that atleast in the UK able bodied people can have one exercise session outdoors a day there are so many things able bodied people can do whilst remaining at home.

I can understand the anger of some people in the chronic illness community over able bodied moaning in this regard, because seeing and knowing everything that can be done from home leaves you with the feeling that your yet again missing out.

The rhetoric that we have to learn a new skill, start a business and get fit in lockdown can make us feel like we’re not good enough.

Let alone difficulties some of us have in finding food delivery slots. I’m lucky I have a little Tesco express opposite me. But I would be unable to walk 10 minutes to the nearest supermarket then queue up outside the supermarket and then do my shopping and carry it home right now due to the flare I’m in. That trip was always exhausting without the flare and the queue.

However lockdown has also done good things for people with chronic illnesses. Suddenly we’re feeling more included and more connected to people as the world switches to embracing virtual communication and forms of socialisation.

For some of us, our quality of life has improved because this social aspect has come back into play.  I myself am feeling relived that I don’t have to overextend myself to look like a normal 22 year old. There’s less FOMO and less having to say no or saying yes and paying the price.

The switch to having to work from home and school from home is hopefully going to make lasting changes that lead to the world being more accessible for those with chronic illness and allow us to reach our full potential and I’d  like to think that people are now going to be more understanding towards people with chronic illness. Once they realise that getting to stay at home all day isn’t “lucky”. One can hope for a positive change from all this right?

How are you finding this period of social distancing?

 

Finding the positives in lockdown

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The UK has been in lockdown since Monday evening. As I’ve been symptomatic and therefore in isolation. Today, before I realised I still had a fever and so should still isolate I went on an outing.

Only to the pharmacy two minutes from me, to get my prescriptions which I would have otherwise ran out of and to the Tesco opposite my flat to get milk and cereal. I have a food delivery tomorrow so I just needed some easy to eat stuff to tide me over as I’m not feeling 100% up to proper food.

The world has changed a lot in the last 8 days. I knew that, I’ve been watching the news but nothing could prepare me for that first step outdoors. That taste of freedom. Only a taste because fever means isolate past 7 days but bitterness aside…

I live in a city centre, a normally bustling, vibrant city centre. I live next to a pub and in close vicinity to many others. I normally hear people, music, cars. When I go into town it’s normally busy, even at 10am on a Saturday morning it’s busier than it was today.

Today it was pretty much dead. Yes I could see people, and certain people not abiding by the two meter rule but it was comparatively dead. There was tape down and barriers up in boots. No forms to sign when picking up medication.

It was like I got back from work 8 days ago to a normal functioning world. Yeah the situation was getting serious and the climbing walls had closed but the pub was open and busy as ever. The streets were also busy as ever.

And then I came out in some dystopian future. Some alternate universe.

As someone who was largely bedbound for 2 years I do sometimes forget how much of a change this is. But going out today made me realise that this virus has lead to all of us taking huge sacrifices. Huge lifestyle changes and it’s forced us to stop and slow down.

I certainly welcome that. I hope others will to. If I had to go work today because I’d already self isolated for 7 days and didn’t realise I had a fever this morning my body wouldn’t be coping. My body would just get the next virus, the next infection, the next injury. This year I’ve climbed so hard that I’ve had three relatively minor finger injuries, my hamstring and knee ligament injury which will take a couple of months to fully heal, an elbow injury, ankle injuries and many other lil niggles. I’ve pushed through work, tried to become a lawyer and since the end of January I’ve had a cold, a stomach virus, an ear infection, numerous bladder infections and now this virus, be it COVID-19 or not. My immune system isn’t as good as it was pre ME but it’s never normally that bad.

I was running my body into the ground. I haven’t worked a 5 day week all month. More like 3 day weeks maybe 4. This virus. Not just because I may have it but because of it’s effect on the country has forced me to slow down. It’s forced me to give my body what it wants. A chance to heal. A chance to function within my limits and to come back to work revitalised.  A chance to focus on rebuilding my body off of the wall, at a lower intensity and focusing on dealing with muscle imbalances so that when the walls open again I get less injuries.

It’s also given me a chance to reflect. To indulge in my off wall passions and think about what’s really important to me. And funnily enough, I’ve had more time to connect. Connect to people I’ve neglected in the past.

The situation is awful. For everyone. I know I’ve been feeling extra unwell these past eight days. The horrific cough, the breathing difficulties – not enough to need help but enough to feel like I can’t get enough air. Enough to mean I can’t sing or proof read my essay aloud like I normally would. The fever. I’ve also been extra weak and dizzy. I’ve spent the majority of these days horizontal on the couch and have intermittently had to crutch around as my legs have been so weak that I’ve needed to take that weight off them to get to the bathroom without crawling.

We’re all affected by this. Either directly or indirectly. But good will come from it and god will help us through.

COVID-19, Self isolation and ME

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I know we are all sick of hearing about it. There is nothing else in the news but this actually quite disastrous global pandemic. Not just disastrous health wise, but disastrous business wise and for individuals job security and financial security. We have seen mass hysteria, panic buying loo roll of all things (Plz send me some if you have some spare) and lots of vague advice. Today I want to write about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on me, and more specifically me and my ME.

So in the UK ME is a grey area with regards to the guidelines for at risk people to self isolate and stay away from busy offices etc. We’re not entitled to flu jabs unless we have comorbid conditions that do entitle us to such flu jabs. But the ME association believe we are included in the vulnerable population that should self isolate (https://www.meassociation.org.uk/2020/03/coronavirus-covid-19-latest-government-advice-and-what-it-means-for-people-with-me-cfs-17-march-2020/) and recognise the risk of a significant, prolonged and potentially severe relapse if we catch COVID-19 and I know Jennifer Brea has been tweeting her heart out about COVID-19, neurological symptoms and various post virus statistics for previous outbreaks. We know any virus can cause a flare up. A cold has caused one that I’m still recovering from. It’s been over a month. Now Covid-19 is more comparable to the flu than the common cold – we also don’t know how it will effect people with ME and I myself – whilst I can afford to do so (which won’t be long) am not prepared to take that risk.

It  may be a risky decision. A decision that many in my life will not approve of (My family especially). But it was not a decision taken lightly. I have a full time job, a job I’m in probation for and therefore by doing this I may lose it – which considering the likely economic climate come June when probation ends is a risk. The potential loss of income is a risk considering my mad expensive rent and the fact that I don’t know how my parents would react to me deciding to move home in august, work part time and look after my health. (Yes partly my fault because I don’t open up to them).

But my immune system is down, this morning I came down with what I’m pretty sure is an ear infection. You know that classic childhood middle ear infection. I’m 22. My body is weak and I need to acknowledge that. If the conspiracy that coronavirus went round my city in December/January isn’t true and I just escaped because I was stronger then. In terms of my immunity (and L-Lysine which I’m gonna resolve to take every day again because it definitely meant aside from some tonsillitis in November I had a persistent low grade cold instead of constantly getting sick). I’m also not back from the flare from the cold I had end of January/early February (I didn’t cough much I don’t think it was coronavirus. Started with a horrific sore throat and then materialised).  If I get a virus now it could and likely would knock me out. Not just for a week or two but for months.

Health comes first. It’s difficult, it’s scary. Not only because of financial consequences and peoples perceptions . But because being stuck in the house reminds me of when my ME forced me to stay largely in the house and horizontal. There’s trauma there. Trauma that may need to be worked through if I am to stay sane for however long I stay off work. And not only stay sane but come back to work in a mentally stronger place with higher concentration etc. The trauma is the scariest part of this. Never did I see myself willingly largely confining myself to my flat by choice because life is better experienced outside of these four walls. But I also didn’t forsee a pandemic and to protect my current health and my future health it was a decision that had to be made.

 

 

Words from an ME flare

I’m in the midst of an ME flare, something I should have seen coming. Something I should have got a grip on the second I noticed it starting nearly a month ago now. Many thoughts have gone through my head. If only I took a sick day at the time it started. What if this is now my new baseline and even sitting up feels like running a marathon again. What if I lose my spirit, my soul and stop climbing. (Spoiler alert, I won’t. But what if I’m forced to). Climbing is my identity, my passion and my sanctuary. I can’t bare to lose it again.

That aside, living with ME is HARD. Especially in a flare up. When everything is so unknown and you are so unbelievably drained that you can’t even put up a false front anymore. When you feel all the guilt, all the worry that no one believes you and thinks your just trying to get out of life and the fear. It can be hard to not let it take over and mess with your mental health, which is really needed during these times.

It’s hard to go through your body being so drained that you just can’t anything. Living with an illness more commonly known as “chronic fatigue syndrome” when it’s more than just fatigue. It’s impossible for people to understand due to the fluctuations in and dare I say it, the name and lack of research into the illness. No one sees us at our worst and often people see us looking okay when the reality is we feel the opposite.

In these times, when you have 101 things to do and aren’t up to one of them it’s important to have grace and alongside that have faith that it will get better. You can only do so much and sometimes flare ups happen with no reason behind them and no fault of your own. They just happen.

I find my faith helps me. Cheesy as it sounds and I know it doesn’t help some people but god does have a plan. I may not be a practising Christian in the sense that alongside other commitments I do not have the spoons to go to church. Nethertheless, dealing with what life throws at me with grace and having that faith is a key to me coping with this and not getting eaten up by it.

It’s hard and it takes practice but it’s so so necessary to deal with this chronic illness life.

 

 

Why I climb and will continue to do so even if I can no longer work full time

 

I feel like this is round 2 of “if your well enough to do x then you can work.” But god am I angry and upset and generally don’t like my job and no ones even done anything major yet. Also haven’t been off sick despite severe pain because god forbid people see me have a life.

I’m in a really bad pain flare this week. Endo = fibro going haywire and later on will lead to HSD going haywire. I’m also normal person sick which doesn’t help matters and incredibly busy! (Doing things I enjoy and want to do but still.)

So I guess it doesn’t take a lot to piss me off and make me feel out of sorts. Functioning at a v high level I.e being out of the house other than to sleep with 8/10 endo pain is fucking hard and yes makes me easily irritated with peoples ignorance to the realities of living with multiple chronic illnesses.

I once said to my friend that if I got signed off sick I would climb every day and okay. Maybe not every day cause bodies need breaks and only if i wasn’t signed off sick cause I had to have a surgery or something. But near enough. I stand by that and this post will tell you why.

A) I have HSD and H-EDS has been thrown around a few times. One way to combat these illnesses or atleast that part that causes joint dislocations is to be hyper strong. Our tendons are under more stress than the average human because our joints hyperextend. Building muscles helps prevent injury and pain. In addition to this we also seem to start to decondition  quicker. Meaning. I need to climb. Climbing is the only exercise I can do that doesn’t make my ME worse and the only exercise that relives that awful brain swelling feeling that causes so much dizziness. Don’t ask me why don’t ask me how. But it is. Even gentle Pilates will leave me stuck on the bedroom floor. Climbing is my physio. It’s my road to recovery.

B) My mental wellbeing is also important. Climbing makes me happy. It makes life worth living. It pushes me to be accountable to myself. Makes me better at taking my supplements, try  to get adequate rest and eat a better diet. All of these things are hella expensive and take a lot of commitment. I would much rather spend my money on fun but this is the reality and when I climb, I remember how far I’ve come and that I need to do my best to balance everything. Tagged onto this is I need to see people. Life with a chronic illness is incredibly isolating. My gym is very social I love it. It is almost impossible to go through a climbing session without speaking to someone. My view to health is that your physical wellbeing affects your mental wellbeing and vice versa. If you want a healthy happy Hannah she needs to climb.

C) There is a big difference between working 8 hours a day and having a short sesh at the gym or a chill social sesh where you spend more time laying or sitting on the mats than climbing. This is especially true considering the different types of energy. Yes climbing is cognitive but not in the same way as reading and analysing information for 8 hours a day. It can be so easy to be quick to judge as to whether someone is faking or not. I know, I too have been guilty of this in the past. Not necessarily faking but just picking and choosing.

I urge everyone to be more mindful and maybe think a little more before judging. It can be hard to see something from the disabled persons side even if your disabled because we’re all so unique but try and if you need to ask questions, ask ahead.

 

The only one your competing against is yourself

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This blog should be retitled “lessons learnt from climbing.” Okay but seriously, I thought this title was apt for the post that I’m going to make.

Comparison is the thief of joy. I say this a lot and I really mean it. I know that a lot of us with a history of anxiety, depression and eating disorders will compare ourselves a lot. A literal common trait amongst anorexic is a toxic desire to be the best. This means that even once we’ve recovered – we will compare ourselves and beat ourselves up and push ourselves to dangerous extremes in different aspects of our lives. I literally ended up largely bed bound because I was trying to be everything I thought I should be at uni and then sacrificed all but my degree.

I spent 2019 really trying to find that balance and yes I still studied mad hours, and sacrificed all else because there wasn’t really much else I could do and yes I graduated top of my class. But it was worth it. It was so, so so worth it. I was trying to be the best law student that I could possibly be without causing my health to deteriorate and I made it. But even then, even when I had the right motivations I still had those “x is going to write a better diss than me” breakdowns.

I’m here to say that it doesn’t matter if x writes a better diss than you or is a better climber than you or does that problem and you can’t or consistently gets more stats at work than you. None of that matters.

Since graduating I’ve really found my balance some more. I’ve accepted that some days you win and others you lose. I’ve learnt that pushing myself to relentlessly fill out training contract applications day in day out is not the method to success in life. I have also realised that I have many years to be successful in whatever career that may be and there is no rush!

Just because X seemingly is better than something than you or gets more legal work experience or wins climbing competitions or gets a training contract before you or wins some nomination at work it doesn’t mean your not enough.

Yes you may feel your talents go unnoticed sometimes or that you have none because they go unnoticed. And that’s really sad, I’ve been there. You do have talents even if you feel like no one notices them.

What I’ve learnt and slowly come to realise is that there is no point comparing yourself to x. Yes you may take useful tips from x but it is important to remember that we are all different and we all have different priorities in life. We also all have different journeys in life.

And that is okay!

We can’t all be the best at everything and wouldn’t the world be boring if we all were.
This year I’m testing out the climbing competition waters again. Now I may have wimped out of the first round of my walls winter bouldering league even though there were problems set from absolute beginner upwards but after looking at the problems and climbing a few of them I realised there was no reason for me to wimp out. Maybe I would have come last but who cares? It’s about learning and developing. I have registered for paraclimbing nationals because what better time to try and make that teenage dream come true.

I know I’m not strong enough, good enough at route reading this year to win or even make finals. But I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s about learning to climb in that environment again and learning to train hard but not too hard. It’s about meeting people, pursuing my passion and being the best climber I can be.

The only person your competing against is yourself. We all have our own life journeys and climbing journeys alike. We all have our own strengths, weaknesses and experiences. I’ve learnt to enjoy the small signs of progression and am slowly learning not to feel disheartened if progression doesn’t feel fast enough or I feel like I’m having a bad session or that I’m the worst.

I can’t train hard every session with my conditions and that’s okay. Technique based sessions are also important as well as social sessions.

This 2020 I’m making a vow to myself. To not compare. To not beat myself up for not being the best. I am me and that is enough.