An Update

Well. To say it’s been a long time would be the understatement of the century. I’ve really neglected this blog lately and, indeed, neglected my writing. In my quest to become healthy I almost forgot the most intrinsic part of me, writing.

Let’s be honest, writing is actually one of the most difficult careers to get into and stay in. It can be difficult to get hard feedback or to keep writing, even when you feel as if you have nothing to say. And I haven’t had anything to say. At least not anything I have thought people would want to hear. And maybe I was wrong. Maybe, someone, somewhere needs to hear what I have to say. I mean, that’s what writing is about. To be heard. To be listened to. To help.

Now that I’ve finished being poetic about writing as a career let’s get back into the actual update.

I’m 2 and a half months tic and seizure free. It’s hard but I’m doing it. I’m preparing to start studying in September and have started to work on sorting out my mental health and physical state.

I’m going to try and get back to blogging twice a week, and will hopefully lead up to more posts. I want to get back to where we were a few months ago when I was blogging regularly and writing even more regularly.

I’m also slightly changing up what I’m going to be blogging about. I’m not planning to talk about chronic illness loads, I want to be sharing the amazing life I’m being blessed with despite my illnesses. I want to show you that it can be done.

When I get better – a poem

When I get better I’m going to learn how to love myself again.

I’m going to stop pinching skin between forefinger and thumb

and instead thank my body for what it has become

I’m going to stop getting anxious when the wind’s a little loud

and maybe my hands will stop shaking when I’m in front of a crowd

And maybe I’ll even swim, for fun not exercise

And I’ll think my hips are pretty, and won’t hate my thighs

And I’ll go to coffee shops and dance in the rain

I’ll read books and thank the universe for change

Perhaps I’ll stand up and tell my story loud

I’ll explain how life passes as easily as a cloud

And I hope this will end, my preoccupation with death

and in it’s place will be years of hope in my head

and maybe I’ll wake and do yoga with a tea

And I’ll share my life on insta and be completely me

And I’ll publish all these books, with their words and drawings galore

And I’ll never run out, always have ideas for more

When I get better, I’ll live the life on my pinterest board

I’ll be healthy and happy and I won’t need anything more

Body Image and the Bible

I had a mild mini breakdown on Saturday because the warm weather had come, we were having a barbecue and I couldn’t find anything that fit me. Not a single summer top or dress that I had worn last year would fit. And I felt guilty. Because God gave me this body and I am made in His image, but I was hating that body He gave me.

Often we get caught up in what the world tells us. We need to be skinny, or fit, with curves and no cellulite. All our clothes need to fit well and we must never grow out of them, going up a dress size is terrible.

So I did what any self respecting christian girl would do – I cried to my mum, my twin, my brother and my boyfriend, and then I turned to the Bible. I’d done a Bible study on body image the week previously and it was those notes that I went to.

Psalm 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

We are not called to be beautiful in the eyes of the world. Beauty will not last forever, no matter how hard we try. We are, however, called to be righteous and faithful. These are the things that will last for eternity. God doesn’t look at outward beauty, He always looks at our hearts.

Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know full well.”

The god who created the heavens and the earth created you. He created me. There is so much beauty that He has created, who’s to say you are not a part of that?

Our bodies house the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and we have to look after them and love them properly. We have to treat them with the respect and love they deserve, even if that’s difficult on some days.

We are not made to be constantly striving for perfection, because God sees us as we are, and loves us anyway. And that is what we need to remember when we start to feel as if we are not enough.

Bible Study

I’ve been so busy these past few weeks that I have had no content planned for the blog in ages!

But I do want to share some of my recent studies on body image, relationships and health. I’ll be going more in depth soon – but for now have these photos!

Puzzle Pieces

People say they are a puzzle

Made up of their experiences

But I think I am a vase.

Made of a million broken pieces, stuck back together with different coloured glue

A geography of split ends and black bags on a roman vase

Eroded and left to rot in the pit falls of my mind

I am not a puzzle, you need not piece me together

I am in pieces, but I am still whole.

God’s got this.

I’ve spent the last week and a half recuperating, reflecting and healing. And in that time I’ve been trying to figure out what to do, how to do it and how I will manage life going forward. In doing so I’ve spent a lot of time on Pinterest, looking for ideas and motivation regarding lifestyle changes and life changes and I saw something today that said:

God doesn’t want you to figure it out. He wants you to trust that He’s already got this figured out.

The beautiful thing about faith is that we never need to worry about life. We never need to worry about the future, we just need to trust that God knows what He’s doing and walk in the direction He’s pointing us.

I’ve really struggled over the last year, because my health fell apart, then I had to leave school, and then I put weight on and then I relapsed again and things just kept coming and coming and there seemed to be no end. I was staying in education because it was my safety net, and because I felt that there was no worth to me without. And I’ll let you in on a little secret,

I shouldn’t have.

God should always be the first and last port of call. He should be our safety net, because He’s got this. There is no part of your life that isn’t written in the stars by Him. But too often we look for our security in worldly things, and end up unhappy. I was looking for healing in all the wrong places, but didn’t start calling out to God until I was literally on my knees and couldn’t get up again.

We don’t have to worry about anything, because God’s got it, and He will always have it. He is holding us and waiting for us to turn to Him, because He wants to help us. He wants to bless us and protect. Because God has got this and always will. I really can never say that enough.

Turning our eyes to God in the midst of the battle

If you are in the midst of a battle, take this as your sign to actively choose to trust God. To actively hand over your life to His hands, no matter what. To actively turn to Him first – however hard that may be. And to actively trust that, whatever chapter you are going through, God has already written your entire book and there is an abundance of love and blessings heading your way.

A Change

I’m currently sitting on a sofa in rural Suffolk watching the clouds and the sun fight for domain over the skies. My books are spread out on the floor alongside many notebooks, pieces of paper and pens. There is an empty mug on the table, the remnants of liquid the only evidence that I am putting my former prejudices aside and actually drinking tea. Possibly the evidence of change.

I am on holiday, if you can call it that. I am in fact on a little women-esque holiday, hoping that the countryside, and leaving social media behind, will rejuvenate me and perhaps be pivotal in the healing process. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Although a little pink mark on my forehead and the final healing parts of my cheek are the only evidence, I spent most of last week having self injury behavior tics. Scratching, biting, hitting and trying to drown myself. (not purposefully of course!)

Whilst an update on what is happening is all well and good, that is not the the point of this blog post. As I am on holiday and have been working hard re-reading blog posts, writing novels and reading LOADS, I wanted to talk about the change that will be coming to this blog.

Reading back on my posts, especially those I wrote when I first started out, it is obvious that I was angry. That I was hurting. And that’s not what I want to be talking about. I’ve decided that I have spent enough time being angry and that it is up to me to make a change and get myself better.

And so here we are. Whilst I am making some changes, the core of this blog isn’t going to change. I will still be talking about life with chronic illness but I want to be including lifestyle, faith and so much more. I want this to become a hopeful blog where you can see how many beautiful reasons there are to be alive, even with chronic/mental illnesses.

Life is beautiful and I want to be sharing that with you. I don’t want to be talking about how I wish I could be all the things I used to want. My priorities have changed. I don’t need to be that person, not anymore.

I think that for a little while chronic illness was all there was for me. I had to leave school. I couldn’t get out of bed and that was all I saw of myself. Sickness. But I know now that chronic illness is just a small part of my life. It’s the part that makes me strong, but it’s also the part that reminds me of all the good there is in life. Because really, there is nothing like the bad to show you the good.

5 tips for a better start to the day

I had therapy yesterday and my therapist told me that, in order to overcome my anxiety, I needed to be seizing each day as it comes and concentrate. My mum had said something similar to me the day before.

I’m one of those people who is constantly dreaming, planning and worrying about the future. In fact, I spend so much time worrying about tomorrow, that the beauty of today often passes me by. I never wanted to be that person, but anxiety is a fickle thing and, sometimes, you have to ‘force’ yourself into a healthier routine and way of thinking. I want to be more purposeful and mindful in what I do everyday, and the anxieties I feel. These five things are all things that I do every morning that makes me stop and appreciate my day, and gives me a far better start to the day.

Open your curtains and make your bed

The weather is beautiful where I am at the moment. The sun is shining and there is a light breeze, meaning that it is warm but not too hot. I have taken to opening my curtains and window first thing in the morning, and often sit and watch nature work for a couple of minutes before I get on with my day.

God has given us a beautiful world and, too often, we forget to appreciate it. Forcing myself to stop and enjoy that calmness of the morning, and the way the sun slants into my bedroom and onto my plants, clears my mind and gives me a better mentality for the day.

It is so important to make your bed, especially if you are chronically ill. Even if you get nothing else done in your day, you’ve made your bed and that’s a win.

Move around.

Every health professional will rave to you about the importance of moving around first thing in the morning. I understand that many people, including me, are not morning people and struggle to move in the morning. I usually do a workout just before my bath, low impact and easy, but a workout nonetheless. Or, if I’m not feeling up to a workout, I like to put on some (as my twin would call them) Jesus jams and I vibe while my bath runs in.

You can go for a walk, or do some stretches. It doesn’t have to be long and difficult, but moving your body will automatically make you feel more awake.

Have a glass of water.

First thing you should do when you get up is drinking some water. I find that water is better for waking me up, and I used to rely on coffee!

Water not only improves metabolism, hair texture, complexion (really I’m surprised it isn’t marketed more), but it is also vital for your immune system. And, if you are chronically ill, anything that improves your immune system is a win.

Make a plan for the day.

I will forever sing the praises of planning your day. It is good to have goals to reach and will also clear your mind before you start your day.

I have a notebook I use to write out my daily goals, but some people prefer bullet journaling or just writing goals on scrap paper. Whatever you prefer to do, planning your day will immediately make you feel more in control. It will also force you to sit down and think about today’s worries and goals, rather than tomorrows.

Spend time with God.

This one is so important. I don’t like to assume people’s religions, but I am Christian and thus spend time in the Bible everyday.

I think that it is really important to spent time with God, because His unwavering strength and peace can be the difference between a good day or a bad day. I usually sit down and read a chapter of whichever book I’m reading, (Daniel at the moment) and then spend some time in prayer.

When I spend time in prayer I like to concentrate on other people, my friends and family members, the world, and people who have hurt me. I find that, concentrating on asking God to bring peace to these people, actually brings me peace.

Your morning is one of the most important parts of your day. It decides whether you have a good day or a bad day, and will also set the tone of worry and health for the day. Worrying about tomorrow will never create a good and peaceful start to your day. We need to be taking each moment as it comes, and we should be stopping to appreciate the world and people around us.

I’m going to leave you with one of my mums’ most quoted bible verses:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34

Making peace with the bad days

I’ve been ill for three years. I have had countless bad days and countless more worse days. These bad days have been more common lately, with my latest relapse (hospitalized with tics and seizures) and it threw me, making it more difficult for me to make peace with the bad days.

When I was first diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome at the age of 15, I refused to acknowledge the bad days, and that seemed to work. I went into remission, barely had any bad days and went school. And then I started having bad days again, resulting in a relapse. And yet I still refused to acknowledge a bad day because I felt guilty for not getting work done, not being there for my friends or being a burden on my family.

Ultimately, however, refusing to have bad days is more harmful. Your body needs a break, whether you want one or not, because, at the end of the day, refusing to make peace with the bad days will result in them becoming worse. They’ll throw you off again and again, and may even start to stunt your healing.

I have a strategy for the bad days. I don’t always follow it, but when I do, it works.

  1. Have a list of things to do on bad days

There is no use allowing yourself to take a break if all you do is sit there and feel guilty for taking a break. I used to do that, I’d say I was going to study on the sofa and then hate myself for not being able to.

These are some of things I have on my list:

  • Watch a comfort tv show or film. I personally like Brooklyn99, Hells Kitchen, A little bit of Fry and Laurie, Merlin, The Chronicles of Narnia, Legally Blonde, period films (any Jane Austen is good) and anything with Hugh Grant or Colin Firth in it.
  • Reading. I always allow myself to read something easy on bad days. I especially like romance and poetry and, being an avid reader, I am usually spoilt for choice. I would always recommend any Rupi Kaur poetry books (16+), The Hating Game (18+), by Sally Thorne, Fangirl (15+) by Rainbow Rowell and anything by Christina Lauren (Usually 16 – 18+)
  • Journaling and/or coloring. Ok, hear me out on this one. I have tics, which means that, on bad days, I can have upwards of 100 tics a day. Due to this I need to do things that distract my brain which usually means crafting or writing.

2: View it as a self care day

Who doesn’t love a good self care day? Sometimes viewing a bad day as a day to look after yourself and have fun with it can completely erase any guilt you may have.

How do you make it feel like a self care day?

  • Have a bath. There is nothing like a bath to make you feel like you are looking after yourself. Add some bath salts, or bubble bath, turn on some music and just relax.
  • Do a facemask. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, better than doing a face mask to make one feel good again. I love facemasks.
  • Wear comfy clothes. Who decided we had to get dressed every day? If you want to have a pyjama day, have a pyjama day.

3. Give yourself a mental break

My third, and possibly most important, you cannot heal physically if you aren’t healthy mentally. Anxiety and other mental health problems tend to be the root of relapses and bad days and we need to make sure we are looking after our minds in the same way we do our bodies.

  • Turn off your phone notifications. Often we feel the need to reply when people text us and turning off notifications will take that pressure of you, or, even better, put your phone on do not disturb.
  • Don’t check your emails. Emails have school worries, work worries and pressure. The world won’t end if you don’t check your emails for one day, and you’ll probably be able to deal with everything a lot better if you have a day off.
  • Don’t worry about school work or deadlines. If you need to, message your teachers or supervisor and ask for an extension on your deadline, but do not worry about it. There is no point getting yourself into a position where you won’t get work done. It’s far better to have a break and get the work done when you can mentally handle it.

Bad days are always going to be here. We are always going to struggle, and we are always going to wish things were different. But we can make these days easier, it will be difficult, but it is possible. What do you do on the bad days? Let me know!

Faith through the fire

Well, this a deep subject for your Tuesday afternoon. I’ve been experiencing the fire recently, and sometimes it can be hard to see why God allows all these things to happen. It’s difficult for me to watch my siblings get jobs and go to university while there are days where I am still struggling to walk. It’s hard to see why God has allowed my 1 chronic illness to turn into 5 other difficult to deal with conditions. I’m in the middle of the fire, and it is burning.

The fire you are experiencing might be different. It could be grief, health, mental health, financial problems, the list goes on. The world is far from perfect, and humanity is included in that. We all struggle with our own fire, our own thorns and when we look to God, nothing seems to be happening.

My little sister comes to me several times a month asking if I’m better. She tells me she has been praying, and when I tell her that I’m still ill she asks me, ‘why isn’t God answering my prayers? Isn’t He meant to make you better?’, and I never know what to say, because she’s ten and wants her sister back.

One thing that I have learnt from watching my parents is that you should always have faith, even when it feels like you have run out. They trust everyday that God is going to move the mountains I am climbing, and that we just need to wait a little longer. They show me everyday that this illness can be used for good, and that I can glorify God and share my faith with others as I do.

God has strength enough for all of us. Where we are weak, He is strong. And it blows my mind to imagine how strong He must be considering how weak I feel.

Daniel 3:25 says: ‘ He answered and said, “but I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods” ‘

When we are in the midst of the fire, and are listening to God but hear nothing, we give up. What we rarely do is look around us, and if we did, I’m sure we would find Him in the fire with us. We are His children and He loves us. When we hurt He hurts. He sent His own son to die on a cross for us, of course He is beside us in the fire. We can’t doubt that.

We can’t assume to know what God’s plan is. The world is a scary place and it is easy to feel alone. I went to church for the first time in ages on Sunday and the worship leader said something that has stuck with me. “The world is tragic, but God is good.”

The world is tragic. We deal with sickness, grief, death and hundreds of other things. The world is an unfair place. We see people die, we see people killed, beaten or broken. We see sickness that cannot be healed by modern medicine, and we see sickness that cripples. The world is an unfair place, where flames wait for us around every corner, but we aren’t alone. Even if we can’t see or hear Him, God is beside us and He is always good.

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