The More Grown Up Thing

Last time I had a blog about my health I lasted a few months and then felt bogged down in the politics of it all. I hated when people thought their opinions were the only ones worth hearing. I struggled reading blogs from diabetic parents who didn’t want to listen to diabetics trying to help explain maybe why their children was doing X or Y because they had done it themselves. This blog has lasted longer and I actually feel comfortable on here and on my twitter. I enjoy engaging with the various health communities and that is fabulous.

Sometimes though I find I need a bit more of a pick me up than reading some blogs and scanning twitter. Upon its creation I found  The Pillow Fort which is a fabulous site and community for those living with chronic illness. I was lucky to find it right away because the creator is also the owner of a distro I get my zines from! It is filled with blog posts, helpful tips for the bad days and even a wee shop filled with things reminding us spoonies to keep going and tools to help us do just that. Basically, I think it is the bee’s knees. I have set up this site to be an affiliate to that, so there is a link to the Pillow Fort in my side bar ->->->->

This link goes to the purchase link for the site’s e-magazine but you can get to the main site from there no problem. The magazine is pretty fabulous though and what I want to talk about it, links aside. It comes out every quarter and is £3. I thought about it for a few days before purchasing it because £3 does seem a lot for something you don’t get a physical copy of but then I thought about all those glossy mags in the shops they want the same or more for and then half the pages are pictures of over photoshoped models or adverts for a new hair dryer. The Pillow Fort is packed full of content and it is all from people living with chronic illness. Every page I felt ‘oh I know that’, ‘Oh yeah me too’ and not even with just the gremlins I battle. So many symptoms are shared between us spoonies so the support and tips can be shared too. It comes as a PDF, and is full of colour. It is easy to read. The current feature’s posts included,

– 5 ways to make mornings more manageable

– Travelling with Chronic Illness.

– Adjusting to temp remission

It is a magazine for us, by us, with no one trying to sell us something (other than the mag itself) and only trying to help us and make us feel better. At £3 an issue it might make you stop and think but this thing is 46 pages long with very few adds and given you can get a year’s worth for £12, I really think it is worth the investment to make yourself smile a little on those hard days.

Link on the right at the top  🙂 or The Pillow Fort

Blog for Mental Health 2014

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“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”  

 

I think this is important. I find it great to get advice from people but more I find it theraputic to get my words out there and see I’m not alone, knowing I might be doing the same for someone else. My depression is something I do struggle with but my anxiety disorders are the ones that really impact my day to day life and constantly prevent me from doing things, or suck the enjoyment out of doing said things. Learning to control these mental health conditions is a long and hard process. I’ve been anxious my whole life. It started at two years old when my father left and has got steadily worse. I don’t remember not feeling this way.

 

I have to constantly put myself in situations I’d rather not have to deal with to battle my gremlins. Of course, it is important to try and not take too big a step at a time but the steps still need taken and they tend not to be fun until you’ve done them and can sit back and go OH I DID IT GO ME. I spend hours filling out boring sheets and confronting my feelings and it sucks but it has to be done to improve. Knowing I’m not the only person doing that helps. Knowing I’m not the only person facing these challenges helps. Knowing that for every person that tells me I just need to do X, Y or Z to get better there is a person blogging about how they get it, helps. That is why I blog too. To get things off my chest yeah, but mostly to help.

Depression and Dealing with it

I don’t blog about my depression a lot because to be honest thinking about it too  much makes me depressed in itself. I was depresed as a teenager but never officially diagnosed and received no treatment because my mother just didn’t feel that a teenager could be depressed. She didn’t understand that children could be mentally ill (despite teens these days having higher anxiety levels than 1950s mental patients o.O)

Now life is still hard with it because despite having it herself I feel like my family don’t take it seriously at all. I feel my depression is seen very differently to my mother’s and having that sort of inequality in my own home is very hurtful and difficult to deal with. I find that in my community, both online and off, the idea that as a white, straight passing, working to middle class female I cannot be depressed is very rare and quickly stamped out. However, there is always someone lurking ready to tell me how to deal with my mental illness. They know how to beat it because they read a book, a blog post or watched a TV show with some famous doctor on it. That sort of thing is not helpful and frankly it can make me feel more depresed because it reminds me my illness is there and what all my symptoms are. Too often these days I feel down, so when I am feeling ok the last thing I want to be reminded of is the depression waiting to crash down on me again.

Anyway, enough of that. I have been having more days where I’m feeling depressed and that depression has been far deeper. My doctor agreed to increase my medication and despite my dose being very small compared with many others and my experiences bad he has stated he won’t increase them further. He feels medication can only do so much and I completely agree. However, it feels daunting to think that this is it. The rest is up to me now. I am being refererred for more therapy but essentially I need to beat this depression back myself now. I know I did it before as a teen but I had far fewer gremlins hanging off me back then. Of course my doctor isn’t washing his hands of me but it kind of feels that way. It came from no where and felt rather blunt. He didn’t want to even talk about trying a different medication but only insisted I needed to do more things to make me feel brighter. I know this and I am trying but there are my other gremlins to consider. Some days with all the will in the world I cannot safely leave my house to do things, concentrate on something like a TV show or a book.

I am confident that I can get better and that I will cope but it still feels a little like my apron strings have been cut. I’m lucky to have friends I can talk to but there is always that worry that there will be a ‘well I read this’ or ‘you just need to do that’ and frankly that is the last thing I need that right now. The very last thing.

tweet chats

Why twitter chats are awesome and why I’d encourage you to take part? Yes, a ramble I feel I need to have. I hold myself in a lot on this blog but in other places online I’m really quite the rambler. Some would say this is ironic given I have social anxiety but hey often I find when I CAN talk when anxious I ramble. So there.

 

Anyway. I take part in a couple of regular diabetes tweet chats online. It sounds weird. I mean, twitter isn’t exactly a discussion platform right? Wrong. You might need a few tweets or you might get your ramble into a shorter point. It is fast and easily connects many people though. If you are new you can observe before jumping in. If you feel alone there is instant responce. If you feel a blog is too daunting an idea it is easy.  If you have a question, people are often there quickly with half an answer at least. I blog a lot and I see traffic but I don’t get a high number of comments but I interact a lot on twitter. I love that.

The tweet chats, as they are known, are held by various groups but the ones I’ve been involved in so far focus on diabetes. Each one usually has a sub topic to go with the diabetes. Today it was weight loss and gain. This can be a taboo subject in the circles I frequent as a feminist as ‘health at any size’ is a big deal right now but for diabetics, not so much. Overweight diabetics and obese diabetics tend to find themself facing the nastier of complications and there is no running away from that. Underweight diabetics also really struggle with their diabetic health. As someone who has been, underweight, overweight and then on a diet and had such a sucess on it, it was a fabulous change to have that seen in a positive light.

 

I found it fascinating to see how other diabetics felt and how they had tackled the issue. Some felt exercise was the way and others diet. Some hadn’t found a way that worked and others had not tried. Personally, I make no secret of the fact that I was overweight. When I was getting towards the BMI being obese I took action. I wasn’t that big, a UK size 14/16 maybe, but I have large and heavy breasts and they influenced the scales. More importantly, the more weight I gained the worse my diabetes got and the harder it was to haul myself around. I took action to  feel and be healthier. That was the aim for me. In the end I lost two and a half stone using Scottish Slimmers. The diet thought I should lose more but my breasts are so large and heavy that my back would fail to support it so I stopped where I am.

 

I’m a size 10/12. I have naturally wide hips and large breasts. Some clothes hang on me but so what? Some cling and so what to that too? I can’t shrink my pelvis. It is sort of made of bone, you know?

 

Personally, the way that worked for me was watching calories. I still watch them now I’m in target and probably will for life but I’m ok with that. My insulin is so sensitive to weight that I don’t want to battle changes over a couple of pounds when there are so many other battles with diabetes to be fought. It felt good to share my experiences in losing with people, to see their frustrations, to talk about how some things work for some and not for others. I’m a feminist so in those arenas diets have a bad name and for a good reason in many cases but for mine it is all about health. My body is already pissed off and breaking down and I don’t want to give it reason to give up further. Some people go running, to the gym, or do activities and some count calories and some just ‘watch what they eat’ in the meaning that fits them and all of those reasons are ok as long as accept that others might do different things. Just because one weight loss/gain/maintain regime doesn’t work doesn’t mean all won’t work, you know? Don’t shame those that seek to change their bodies for health reasons. Diabetics have seen the results of obesity and diabetes and screw anyone that thinks badly of us for trying to combat that. Screw anyone that thinks badly of us for NOT doing anything to combat that. I don’t know every diabetic.I don’t know how their diabeties, calorie counting, exercise or whatever impacts their health or life. I have NO RIGHT to judge them. For years I did nothing about my weight because my docs just wanted me STABLE at any weight. Sometimes attempting to change weights impacts diabetes in a bad way. It can lead to highs, lows, and unpredictable things that we don’t want to deal with or have jobs and can’t deal with while keeping them. No one has the right to judge us for that. I found a gap I could take action for me in but I was lucky. I won’t judge anyone who can’t.

Having a place where someone can be open and honest in their experiences whether they good or bad it a positive thing. With those diabetic chats it is not about judging but about learning from one another’s experiences and helping one another. I love that. I feel safe and not judged. I challenge my social anxiety to by talking. Hell tonight I even offered to run a chat. That is a huge deal for me but one that I feel is possible because people don’t judge me on those chats. Everyone has their ups and their downs but we’re tying. That is what matters.

 

Twitter and health chats can be such a boost and community for someone and if there is one out there for your health topic, have a peek. If you don’t like it cool, but it might be your thing so have that peek before you write it off. If there isn’t one for your topic, why not set one up? Create a hash tag, contact those well known in that area. All it takes is one person to make something grow. I never thought I would offer to host a chat and yet here I am so why not you?

 

:3

Volcanoes, Diabetes and all that Mental Jazz

 

Today I had quite the adventure. Sadly, a beagle has gone missing in the countryside near my town. A call was raised for people to come and help to look for him and my mum suggested that we go. So, this morning I was up and out of bed early and getting Nico into his coat and off we went. We did not manage to find the dog but we were out there a good while and I am really proud of our efforts.

I remember in the Spring of last year I went to look for a dog and it was a huge deal. It is really hard for me to meet up with unknown  people and do a thing like that. I get very anxious and afraid but it helped that mum and my pup were there with me. For being a lazy wee Lhasa Apso my dog was a wee star and didn’t complain or try to sit down and stop once. We climbed to the top of an extinct volcano and, though very out of breathe, managed it without too much fuss.

A year ago I would have been terrified of going to such a meet up and I certainly couldn’t have done it at 8am with my diabetes the way it was. I really realised how far I had come when I was at the top of that volcano trying to find a wee lost soul. Things are still very up and down at the moment and can be deeply frustrating at times but I have still taken huge steps in both my mental and physical health.

The holidays were up and down for me. Christmas Day saw my diabetes sitting in the teens despite using all the tools at my disposal and weighing everything but then on New Years Day I tried those same tools again and my bloods remained in target all day. I could sit and get frustrated at Christmas not working but I’d rather be happy that New Years did.  Everything is still a learning process on the pump. I had a curry one night and my combo failed miserably but hey, I still learned right? I know what not to do next time and that is still something. Results show I had the carbs about right but just had my insulin peaking at the wrong time.

I am starting an Assertion course this month at the hospital and I’m really looking forward to it. I have waited a while for it but they needed to wait until they had enough people for it. I really think the skills I will be taught there will really help me manage my anxiety and be really useful when I go back to university as well. I have a DAAS form to fill out as part of the course and I hope I do ok on it. Sometimes I can’t tell if I’m doing better, worse or the same mentally. I’m still plugging away at things though and that is what matters.