On Sleep and Chronic Illness

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Sleep. What an interesting and topical topic. Seeing as sleep is essential for the functioning of the immune system and many people are struggling to sleep right now because of anxiety associated with the pandemic, I figured I should write about sleep and how to help with sleep as someone with chronic illness.

I feel like us spoonies struggle with sleep in two different ways. We either sleep too much (hypersomnia) or just cannot sleep (insomnia). Personally I struggle to stick to a normal 9-5 working sleeping pattern due to pain and nausea and because my ME seems to like the hours from 9pm onwards more and hates early morning rising. Many times I’ve gone into work on 4 hours sleep or less. I can easily sleep 10+ hours a night and have naps throughout the day when I’m in a flare. So I guess I go both ways…

Sleep is essential and not having enough of it can make it that much harder to get through the day or make us hyper tired and delerious and then crash later. So if your in the camp that is struggling to get to sleep at night or struggling to get to sleep early enough because your body clock is just against that 9-5 life then here’s a few tips.

  1. Have a wind down routine Although some people can just switch off and yeah I can sometimes, most people can’t. Be it having a hot bath, doing some yoga, reading a book, watching some TV or a combination of the above a wind down routine is essential for a good nights sleep.
  2.  Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. If you work I’m sure you’ll relate to not sleeping great on a Sunday night because you slept in over the weekend. Going to bed and getting up at the same time can have a demonstrable impact on your sleep.
  3. Sleep tea/night tea can help. I drink the Pukka brand of night tea.
  4. Don’t stress about not being able to get to sleep. For some it helps to get up and do something and for others it doesn’t.
  5. If you can,  spend your day somewhere other than your bed, and ideally your bedroom.
  6.  If you have night meds to take that may help you sleep take them in good time. This does two things, helps you fall asleep on time and means you feel less drowsy in the morning.
  7. I listen to podcasts/audio books to go to sleep, I find this helps occupy my brain whilst I’m trying to sleep.
  8. Putting lavender oil on your pillowcase is known to help with sleep
  9.  Try to limit your caffeine intake, especially past early afternoon!
  10. Finally, if you struggle with sleep because of pain try putting pillows under in-between different body parts (For example in-between your legs)

I hope this has proven helpful, there are many other tips and tricks floating around but I wanted to keep it to 10. What helps you sleep?

 

Trial and Error in Chronic Illness

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Living with chronic illness is hard for many a reason, one of these is the constant trial and error. Especially if you have one of those chronic illnesses that is poorly understood by the medical profession.

It’s trial and error with medications and with daily routines. What makes this trial and error so hard is that things change on a daily, if not hourly basis. Symptoms get better over time or get worse over time, and often fluctuate throughout the day. Symptoms can feel the same but your body may react completely differently to your actions on two separate occasions. Not only this but the trial and error of medications is mentally draining. Your body may finally settle down enough for you to start living your life again. You may think you’ve found your perfect cocktail of drugs and then you notice your symptoms increasing. You hope it’s just a flare but it gets worse. Suddenly your back and forth to the GP again, trying to find that perfect cocktail yet again. The potential side effects looming.

It takes time, it takes patience. There’s frustration. It’s exhausting.

Finding the perfect cocktail in the first place is exhausting, it’s frustrating and it is hard to go through without acquiring a mental breakdown.

Life with chronic illness is like going through the whole process again and again and again.

It’s like doing a science experiment on your own body.

However it also reminds you to never take anything for granted.

With a chronic illness you know your in it for the long haul. You know it could always get worse. You know symptoms you thought you’d said goodbye to could always come back.

The trial and error is exhausting, and it may make us snappy at times. But because of this we’re also very grateful people.

 

Staying mentally sane in self isolation from the self isolation expert.

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The world is currently in an unprecedented state. Countries going into lockdown, boarders closing and asides from those of us who still have to go into work (Me, when it’s safe to do so) we are all being asked to stay inside our houses. What a dream! An actual dream. I’ve definitely been told that when I’ve been really sick with ME and largely stuck in the four walls of my bedroom.

Being stuck. In the confines of your house, or room, be it with family or alone can be really bad for your mental health and your relationships with others. I understand that, I know that. Being stuck anywhere, especially if you are easily bored, irritated, like to move and exercise and benefit from changes of scenery is hard. So as an expert in this field and as someone currently self isolating due to COVID-19 symptoms + I’m at a higher risk than the average person I thought it would be wise to share some tips.

  1. Don’t think of it as being stuck. Change your perspective, think of your home as your sanctuary, your castle, your safe haven. If you change the dialogue around how you feel to more positive dialogue this can definitely help keep your mind in check.
  2.  Try to keep things clean and tidy – tidy space tidy mind. This is something I really struggled with when bedbound and still struggle with but it definitely makes a difference.
  3. Get dressed, shower, make an effort to look pretty – I promise you it makes so much of a difference to your mental health if you make this extra bit of effort even if your not going to see anyone. I’m not saying you need to wear a full suit or a full face of make up but get out of your pyjamas.
  4. Lists lists lists – it doesn’t need to be a full schedule of your day hour by hour if that’s not your vibe but if there’s things you know you need to do write them down on a to do list. It is very satisfying to get them done and will at least reduce the social media time wasting feeling behaviour that I feel we’re all beating ourselves up over at this time.
  5. Stay connected. We may be distant geographically but we can stay together. Use social media to stay connected, find live streamed events and activities, phone your nan.
  6. But be mindful of how your using social media! There is a lot of anger out there right now. Curate your feed. Spread positivity and not hate. Don’t spend hours looking at the news, it’s nothing but COVID-19.
  7. Move your body – if you can. It doesn’t need to be much at all and can be just a few floor based/bed based exercises or if your fit, healthy and feeling it can be much more intense, especially if your able to panic buy workout equipment. Movement is really important for mental health, I find it is definitely helping set me up for my day and put me in a positive mindset no matter how small.
  8. Try something new. Do that thing you always wanted to do but never had the time. Learn that language, learn to draw, read that book, watch that TV show. Having a new hobby that can be done inside the house can fill the gap left by that hobby you are now unable to do for the time being and take your mind of the news.
  9. If you have space make the most of it. If your lucky enough to have a garden use it, if you have separate rooms that you can go into – use them. If you only have one room then try and use different sections of the room (I.e do your best to not stay in or on your bed all day)
  10. Don’t be too hard on yourself! I feel like there is a lot of pressure to be productive and monetize our time in social isolation. To get fit and stay in shape. Don’t give into it. It is only natural to be spending more time on social media in these times, to want to just eat sugar and just not be very focused. Do what you need to do your you, and only you. You are doing the best you can and we will all get through this!

A week of prevailing and failing through pain and fatigue.

It’s time for another week in the life. This past week has been characterised by lots of pain, lots of fatigue, getting lost and climbing.

Monday was my first day on the difficult cases at work and it was so much more fun than work has been! I found it much easier to get through the day with a little more cognitive stimulation. I went for a climb in the evening and took it easy as my elbow was causing me pain at work and I didn’t want to do any further damage. I spent a lot of time chatting to people which is one of my favourite things about bouldering and did a lot of technique/route reading practice and flashed a purple (v3-4) for the first time ever! (Yes I flashed a V3-5 over xmas but different centre so I’m taking the glory again.) Although I love projecting I really want to get myself more consistent and that purple was an important step towards that.

Tuesday was a bad endo day and not great mental health day as I was a stressed out mess over the GP appointment I had the next day and pain wears you down. I got home and I just couldn’t and hilariously enough the pain just got drastically worse once I was home. Isn’t potentially having endo, potentially having PCOS, potentially having something else all together so much fun. Anyway. I went to bed early got 11 hours sleep and on we go to Wednesday.

I had a GP appointment and she actually took me seriously and listened. I had to find my way to the hospital after the appointment and got a little lost cause the cold and google maps drains your battery. But, I found my way and got the 3 viles of blood taken. I am also getting another ultrasound at some point. I think of the transvaginal variety. Absolutely not looking forward to that! Went into work for the afternoon and god were the cases bad. Or maybe I’m just a bad caseworker. I then climbed and not gonna lie my right bicep is still sore as we were doing endurance stuff and being me, I may have pushed it a little too far but it did feel really good to be in the training area, doing actual exercise like the old Han would be. I also resent a purple after the session which is mad! I’ve never resent a purple before. *Slight disclaimer here is yes in grades, yes 4 years ago, yes before I took 3 years out* It was another sign towards me slowly getting myself towards my goals.

Thursday was a horrific endo day. How I worked and smashed my stats I will never know. But anyway, I got home, applied for a law event and then accidently napped. Woke up, got ready for bed and then slept for another 10 hours.

I felt beyond dreadful on Friday. But I powered through the bad cases and got as many grants as I could. Didn’t hit stats but what can we do. Not much. I literally just crashed when I got home and ended up with that horrendous midcycle migraine. You know the one so painful that you can’t eat, can’t do anything, can’t tolerate any light but also can’t sleep. It was traumatic.

Nevertheless, I took myself on a trip to rock over on Saturday and although I didn’t explore the whole wall, I spent 4 hours there! My hands were a wreck! I really enjoyed the different setting and movement that I had to do even on “easy grades”. I also felt super fancy on duotex holds and flashed a super fun lil v4 and the first few moves of a v5!. I did however aggravate my elbow again and have somehow aggravated the left one as well. My pain was horrendous Saturday night so again late night but got 10 hours sleep and still feel like hell so trying to rest as much as I can.

2019 in review

2019. What was that? 2019 was a year of many many tears but also so much joy and triumph. It was also something of a blur. The fact that we are now at the end of 2019 is incredible and honestly I haven’t taken enough time this year to just stop and breathe and reflect. Hence why Christmas has been full of binging Netflix and youtube because I just don’t have the energy and I am very much feeling like I need a cognitive break. (I.e a break from applications and all that fun stuff).

2019 was a year of many, many, many rejections. From grad schemes, from law jobs. I think the year actually started with me making a youtube video about being rejected from the faststream. It now has more views than I could have imagined it to get. There were tears but actually it was a necessary rejection to get. And I think it has prepared me for when I get that far with a training contract application. Which hopefully 2020 will bring!

I had to deal with some of the worst pain flares in my life but also had managed to get my pain under more control than ever. It was months of tapering up medication, which made me really anxious and paranoid. I would spend nights awake writing my dissertation because it felt more productive than laying in bed, in the dark – having panic attacks.

Why my medication did that to me when I was tapering up but it doesn’t now, I have no idea but it lead to a v off sleep pattern and meant that come exams I had to completely retrain my body – as all of my exams were morning exams.

Despite all this – the stress, tears, pain and anxiety. I seemed to find more balance in 2019 – especially through studying than ever before. Yes I still studied ridiculous hours more days than not and it got me more than what I wanted but I started trying to run again and although it caused me to crash for a week at a time and aggravated my ankles it gave me a necessary break from the stress of revision and dissertation work.

2019 was also a year of theatre. I must have gone 10 times in 2019 and I saw some amazing shows, I also not only went to my first west end first preview (come from away) but also went to my first west end opening night (&Juliet). Theatre is something that will be left behind a little in 2020 just because of where I live and because if my body can hack it I want to really dedicate myself to climbing. These theatre trips were unforgettable experiences and I definitely recommend &Juliet because it was the most fun theatre trip I’ve had of 2019. I think come from away is the best musical I saw in the year though and I saw it twice! Play wise, I only saw two – mousetrap and the curious incident of the dog in the night-time and highly recommend both of them depending on what you want, although I think curious incident gets the edge.

Everything from final exam on was blissful, and incredible but also challenging in both expected and unexpected ways.

I struggled with not having a job, although I had the offer for my current job by then and was just waiting for it to start. What a wait that was. That struggle lead me to take on a job which I wasn’t well enough to do. I don’t know what I was thinking or whether I just convinced myself I was well enough. I must have because otherwise I wouldn’t have taken it.

It lasted two weeks and I was blissfully happy although I knew my body was struggling by the end of the first week. I stupidly pushed on, scared that if I didn’t my body would give up. Hilariously despite all the adrenaline in the world, a week later my body then did give up. The job ended in me on the carpark floor for two hours. I can’t thank the people who ignored the stubborn me, weakly saying not to phone 111 and did so anyway enough. Or the people who stayed by my side for the whole two hours. I also can’t thank the person who came to the hospital with me (even though it was her job). Although I knew it was just the terrifying realities of ME, having people there made such a difference and showed me that there is humanity in this world.

This experience, and the aftermath also taught me about the importance of pacing. Now I do still push and crash. But I am slowly learning to pace enough to not crash like that again. Or atleast I think I am.

Over the summer (before this event) I went to Berlin on my own and graduated top of my class. Winning four academic awards. Berlin was blissful until the end where I experienced a trauma that although nothing happened – has taken a while to get over and it’s still not something I feel comfortable talking about. Graduation was completely unexpected. I never expected to do so well. I went in for a first and I exceeded all expectations.

I went to London for law events, went to my first pride and started my first office job. Although I could hardly walk around the house for two weeks, I was really living my best life.

Between August and November I worked full time and lived with my fam. I was kind of working in family law and honestly I miss it. Although it was quite a boring job and there wasn’t much work to be done, I miss family law. Or maybe it’s just law I miss. I’m not sure. It also taught me that you need to be hella emotionally strong to work in family law, and I did know that before but I didn’t really understand how much until I was dealing with it every day.

In November I moved to the other end of the country, which has been a rollercoaster and a half even within the same day sometimes. I’ve realised how much energy living with my family takes from me – which sounds bad but it’s the extra stimulation. I went through 50 shades of stress and tears with wifi, work, doctors and medication. But I also started climbing again as I’m sure my last few posts would have you gather.

I have no new climbing snaps but I have done so much more than I ever thought I would. I started like “lets just do greens” on my first session back. Inevitably ended up realising many of them were too easy and challenged myself a little more. (Like up to V1). By my second session I had got a few V2s and potentially a V3. The year ended with me getting my first V4 in 3-4 years. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again. I sincerely lack muscle. So it’s not as easy for me as it was 3-4 years ago. And certainly not as it was back when I was 16 and could do pullups on four finger crimps.

Technique really is all I have. Although I think the strength is building and will build as 2020 goes on. My first bouldering session of 2020 will be anti-style V1s. I.e the V1 oranges in the gym that are still up when I go and that I can’t do yet. Now these are V1s that are as anti-style as we can get. Often combining many anti-styles as I’ve not just been working slabby slabs! I’ve been doing a much wider variety of problem since coming back into the sport.

It will be a mentally challenging session, what with worrying that people in the gym think I’m useless. I tend to crumble under pressure. It’s not good. My best moments in climbing are never seen. But it is a necessary step to becoming a more well rounded boulderer. My goal for 2020 is to be back up to the V5s but to be more consistent with them. Now absolute anti-style V5s may be a stretch but a consistent good variety of V5s is what I’m aiming for and maybe we’ll surpass that.

That’s all I have to say for now. I hope you all have an enjoyable, productive and transformative 2020. There will be challenges, as in every year but none that cannot be faced.

Working full time with a chronic illness

 

Work Work Work Work Work….

Working full time with a chronic illness is rough and if you cant then that’s okay.  I also think whether your employer is supportive enough to make the necessary reasonable adjustments or indeed if those adjustments are reasonable. (I’m just about to read about that actually as despite being out of law school I’m still a law student at heart and law is power. Especially knowledge of employment law if you ever end up with a shitty employer.)

But anyway this blog post is going to give you some tips as to how to manage it if you’re at all in a position where you can. But firstly I’m going to say that if you’ve been in one place if employment for a while you are likely to be treated with more respect and given more leeway. Office politics. They are your best friend when in your favour and worst friend otherwise. If you see inequalities in those ways then unfortunately you’ll just have to deal with it if your coming back into the workforce.

On to the tips:

  1.  Be honest with your employer/line manager but not too honest – this is an interesting balance to strike but essentially if your not honest they’re not going to know if you need extra support and if you’re too honest they’ll start thinking your not up to the job, not trusting you, being completely and utterly irritating and just cause major anxiety.
  2. Only apply for jobs you have a reasonable chance of being able to do successfully. I.e if you can’t stand up all day don’t apply for a job that requires that.
  3. Ask for the adjustments you need and if they don’t give them to you take it up to the employment tribunal (Not straight away cause that shit costs money. Understand why not and if you can’t go to citizens advice for advice as they will know more of the nitty grittys of the Equality Act 2010.)
  4. Work in a way that works for you as much as you are able to.
  5. Appreciate that your going to have good days, bad days, average days and everything in-between. This is okay and it doesn’t mean your failing.
  6. If you can help it, don’t work for an agency – I don’t know if it’s real or imagined but I definitely feel a disparity between me an agency worker and so called “real people” (the not agency workers). Also although agency workers are gaining more legal rights they’re not 100% on par yet.
  7. Health first – by this I mean please take a day if you need to. I am useless at this myself but I help others are less so.  You need that time to rest and recuperate and you shouldn’t feel guilty for it.
  8. Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep. Otherwise you’ll be ordering a hell of a lot of take out.
  9. Believe in yourself, god, the universe etc. – I feel like people with chronic illnesses are often overly hard on themselves and overly critical. Try not to be, you can do this, you are enough. I believe in you.
  10. Final tip is to prioritise. You won’t be able to do all the things. Working full time is exhausting and so to successfully balance that with your other responsibilities, family, friends, hobbies, volunteering will be near impossible and will require successful prioritising and allowing time to rest.

I hope some of these were useful and helped if you’re in the position where you are currently working full time or looking to work full time whilst dealing with a chronic illness or two.

 

When your doctor doesn’t take you seriously…

God has it been a long time since I last wrote here. Work and trying to become a lawyer seems to have taken everything in me. But right now I don’t have the energy to study. My brain not atall comprehending the information meaning I am unable to answer the questions at hand. I have also had a lot of medical appointments and something I have come up against again is idiotic doctors. Doctors not being educated enough or just thinking they are not worth your time.

It’s difficult. Being told your just deconditioned. Being rejected from rheumatology. It makes you feel like people somehow think your faking. Like your not ill enough. Like it’s just all in your head.

And no I’m not here to have a pity party. I know how blessed I am. To be able to work full time, to be attempting to go to the US. To Be trying to lawyer in the UK. To potentially be moving up north to live independently again.

Here’s the thing. That shit is really hard. So bloody hard. I’m getting worse at the LSAT not better due to the brain fog from my ME. And that aside, aside – I think most of why I manage is my sheer will power, and the guilt – the expectations. Alongside that it’s the tolerance and attitude I’ve built up after being unwell for so long.

I want to sing (and dance) in the rain. 

And maybe that’s why I’ve been up against this lately. It must be hard to understand how one is able to be seemingly so healthy when in reality she is so unwell. Not that it makes it okay. But I know a lot of people go through this shit so I want to provide some solace and give some advice.

You are not alone! And if you are in this situation, here is what I need to say.

  1. You are not faking it; it is not all in your head and if it is that is also a serious mental illness and requires help.
  2. Think of all the things you want to do – would do, have tried to do. Think of how debilitated you are. If you were just faking it you would not be debilitated in these ways.
  3. So maybe the tests don’t show you are super sick. Maybe they show nothing atall. But you are still valid! We are all different, we all have different illnesses, manifistations, pain thresholds, tolerences and limits. You are valid!
  4. Have you tried kidding yourself that your not ill? Yes? Has this ended in you still being ill? Yes. Maybe this even ended in a bad flare up. YOU ARE NOT FAKING IT.
  5. Find different doctors but also remember that it takes time to build relationships.
  6. Last but not least. You are not a burden. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. You are not a waste of NHS time (if your UK based). Your illnesses are just as valid as anyone else and you deserve to get help. You deserve adequate treatment. You deserve symptom relief without spending a small fortune. You deserve to go out and live the life you want to live.

You deserve to sing in the rain. 

I hope this helped someone. Or at least was an entertaining read and, as my LSAT will be over soon, I aim to be posting at least one day a week again.

 

 

I graduated top of my class… and here’s what I’ve learnt.

 

It feels like it’s been a really long time since I last wrote a post despite only being a couple of weeks.

This is going to be a bit of an odd one but because it A level results day tomorrow, an important one for multiple reasons.

As the title says, I graduated top of my class. An achievement I couldn’t even begin to imagine. Especially because I went into university feeling v out of depth after royally messing up my A2s. I was incredible as an AS student and excelled in law and psychology, also had a bit of a knack for business.

Fast-forward to A2 results day, I achieved C’s and D’s, meaning I ended up with 3B’s. Not that 3Bs is bad. But I was meant to go to a Russell Group. At the time, it was disastrous and to tell you the truth it affected me for far too long.

See, what I didn’t realise then was that grades are not the be all and end all of life. One bad day in that exam hall doesn’t make or break you. Yes it may put a few extra obstacles in the way for certain industries. I know it means I am unlikely to obtain a training contract with a magic circle firm.

BUT NO MATTER WHAT THOSE GRADES YOU CAN BE SUCCESSFULL IN YOUR OWN RIGHT.

And I hope that me graduating top of my class, despite essentially being near the bottom of my class when I entered uni (based on A level grades) shows that.

On a more serious note graduating top of my class and winning a grand total of four academic awards took a lot from me. And I want to let all my fellow perfectionists out there that life is not all about grades and academic awards.

I was in a bizarre position entering third year where my ME was so severe that I couldn’t engage in extra curricular activities due to the amount of walking involved to get to one. Due to the upright time it would require. And I think that pushed me to do so well. Because at the beginning of third year, all I could do was my degree. I could lay in bed and stare at a screen – it was the thing that kept purpose in my life and once I started to improve I was so deep in achieving my goal – to be the best I could be. To get a first that although I allocated more time away from the degree or complete rest purely because I had more hours in the day and was less liable to complete and utter, complete non-functional crashing, it still took a substantial amount of my time.

If I was healthy. I wouldn’t have done that. I would have been more engaged in Drama society, in volunteering or a job and I would have ended up with an average degree.

And that is okay! For three reasons.

  1. There is more to life than grades
  2. Employers value experience more than you being top of your class and winning four academic awards. (Trust me. Yes I have two provisional job offers but no legal work experience or training contract in sight)
  3. MENTAL HEALTH (and physical health) IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR GRADES.

The third one being in capitals because it is the most important. I am fortunate that my mental health was for the most part positive in my final year of university, my ME improved and I got more of a handle on the suspected endo monster than ever before.  But there was a lot of stress, there were tears. There were stress runs away from my dissertation even though those runs caused excruciating chest pains, felt like dragging my legs through cement whilst they were being weighed down with lead weights and inevitably caused a bedbound day 48 hours later. My sleep pattern was for the most part non-existent until I realised all of my exams were in the morning because ME/CFS sleep issues + pain + stress = han in too much pain to sleep, up until 4am frantically writing and reading about gestational bonding and whether that is a valid argument for the unenforceability of surrogacy arrangements. I partially dislocated joints in every exam, sat one exam whilst on antibiotics and another whilst having a bit of an endo flare.

I did this all because I genuinely wanted it, because I had nothing else, because I’m a workaholic and more importantly I love law. It created a perfect storm.

But just because I did it doesn’t mean you should, or you’ve failed. And I hope this goes to show that one bad academic year doesn’t mean you’re doomed for failure for the rest of your life. I also hope I’ve reminded you that self care is so important and more important than any grade could be.

As a perfectionist that’s difficult to accept, I know. The only reason I’m not doing 24/7 LSAT prep at this point is because I know if my brains not working it won’t be productive. Because However much I want Stanford and however much I am trying to get there, not getting in and not getting the scholarship I require is not the end of the world. The same goes for everything in life. Just because your not the best it doesn’t mean your not enough. Or you’ve failed in some way!

You are enough!

 

“It can’t be that bad” An open letter to those without chronic pain

 

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Here’s the thing. We have to adjust. We have to adapt.

If we didn’t we would have no life.

Here’s the thing. Some of us and arguably most of us are masters at hiding our extreme symptoms. Pain, weakness, dizziness, visual issues and the other 99 problems that come with having a chronic illness or if you’re really lucky multiple chronic illnesses.

Only earlier today, after an episode of paralytic fatigue I was left having to crawl around the house because I physically could not stand up. Was anyone in? No. Did anyone see? No. Does anyone ever see?

Sometimes. Last Thursday they did. But often I can adrenaline myself up to stay upright for only small interactions. Or my family doesn’t actually witness it despite them being in. (The countless times I’ve had to crawl up the stairs comes to mind here).

Does that mean it’s not that bad? No. It is that bad. I have major issues getting more pain medication because I’m on a dose of gabapentin that most doctors wouldn’t prescribe to someone so young – one that makes pharmacists repeatedly check it is correct. Despite this, I’m still in a lot of pain! Pain that even with double dosing OTC meds does not ease.

It means I’ve learnt to hide my pain in response to being called a hypochondriac, being disbelieved. Being moaned at for complaining so much, for being so negative. The thing is it’s easier to not say. Even without the above. It’s often easier just to pretend.

But our pretending does not mean it’s not that bad and the second we’re out of sight the pain will often increase tenfold – in response to hiding it for so long. This can present as painsomnia – a phenomenon leaving chronic pain suffers unable to sleep because we’ve spent so long during the day trying to ignore our pain.

It is that bad!

Another thing I would like to point out is the differing points of references between someone with chronic illness and someone without. I would also like to point out that even with the same chronic illness we all have different points of reference, different priorities and different struggles.

Different points of reference mean we tolerate more. It also sometimes means we don’t realise how ill we are until it really hits – hence oftentimes over pushing to the max as well as sometimes having to act on the side of caution if we have big commitments coming up.

I’m going to repeat again. It is that bad!

So please, be considerate. Be understanding. Even of what you can’t see or understand. Listen to us and help us. Don’t underestimate our struggles. That’s all we ask of you. This battle is a difficult one. A little kindness can go a long way.

My experience with imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome has been talked about quite a lot over the last year. Having learnt about it, and listened to many others talk about their experiences through it via YouTube I thought it was about time that I discuss my experience with imposter syndrome.

Impostor Syndrome is characterized by the conviction that you don’t deserve your success. It is the feeling that you’re not as intelligent, creative or talented as other people seem to believe you are. It is the suspicion that your achievements are down to luck, good timing or just being in the right place at the right time. And it is accompanied by the fear that, one day, you’ll be exposed as a fraud.

I definitely relate to this. I have incredibly low self esteem and when things go right, I feel as though a mistake has been made. I feel like it was just luck, good timing or that it was in reality something incredibly easy and any idiot could have done it. I am not good at seeing my own achievements as a success and I’m scared that one day everyone will realise how useless I really am, or that they already know that. Understandably, this can make life incredibly difficult to deal with.

In some cases imposter syndrome can be debilitating. Although it’s not a formal clinical diagnosis.

Personally, if I get good grades I think they’re wrong. If I win academic awards I think a mistake has been made. If I get a job, I question whether I’m really good enough and whether the employer has made a mistake.

I check my final year grades every single day because I still can’t believe it’s true…

For my first two years at university imposter syndrome really effected me. Not to the point that it was debilitating but enough to be something weighing my mental state down. I got into my admittedly not great uni (In terms of league tables but I couldn’t imagine having gone anywhere else) with BBB at A level and a further BC at AS. With a couple of resits thrown into that mix too. The offer I received was ABB. Yes I know I was only one grade off but I just had that feeling that I didn’t deserve to be there, that everyone else had it all together and was so much better than me. This was especially true when compounded by low grades in my first year. (I got 2:2s in all my coursework).

I still felt the same in second year, even though my grades had improved. Like I just wasn’t enough. Like everyone else was so much better than me.

It’s difficult, it’s reality.

To my understanding many people go to through this, so people do understand. It is also possible to overcome.

If anyone else reading this feels the same or similar then please comment! And any tips for overcoming imposter syndrome would be much appreciated.