I got issues, you do too…

Staying home is getting hard. My reasons for struggling may be different to yours. No doubt there will always be someone in worse situation than all of us. It’s still ok to feel whatever you feel. We’re living through a crisis that no one was prepared for. It’s perfectly normal to have no idea how to deal with such an unprecedented set of events.

A badly managed pandemic is going to mess with our heads. There’s no getting away from that. Aspects of this catastrophe might compound existing mental health issues. Such large scale uncertainty & fear may trigger symptoms in those who have never experienced them before. Please be gentle with yourself. It is totally normal to struggle with mood in extreme circumstances. It is not your fault that you find this overwhelming. It is scary to feel so powerless. Even more so to be dealing with such acute emotions in completely alien circumstances. You are allowed to be a mess. This shit is tricky, but it’s not forever.

Whilst we’re in the thick of it, it’s important to look after ourselves. Bin all the shoulds. Whatever gets you through the night really is alright. If you need routine, create it. If video calls & comfort food are your heart’s desire, do it. There are no rules. Complete your magnum opus or have a lot of long lies. Both are reasonable reactions. As long as you’re not endangering yourself or others, it’s all good.

Pale legs with green tattoo lying in bed

If you’re starting to find that you don’t know how to handle the ‘new normal’, I have a few pointers. I’ve had years of wrangling a crazy brain and unruly body. It’s left me quite well equipped for societal disaster.

It’s my experience that taking care of everyday practicalities can relieve some stress.

  • Make a budget. If you know exactly what’s coming in it is easier to juggle what’s going out. If there are bills you will have difficulty with contact companies ASAP. Most big organisations are offering payment breaks, reduced payment plans etc at the moment. It feels so much better to not have the worry hanging over you. Check what financial aid is available to you during this crisis. There are various government schemes that might help make ends meet.
  • Plan in advance. Check each day for shopping delivery slots. You can usually have two booked at a time. Some supermarkets offer priority to people most vulnerable to covid 19, it’s worth checking if you qualify. I always buy some food that needs little preparation in case I don’t feel up to cooking. Speak to your GP about how to best request & collect prescriptions. Don’t wait until you need your medication, running out is incredibly stressful. There are delivery services available for people who cannot leave their house.
  • Make lists. I love a list. When everything is swimming around in my head it feels hectic. Order resumes when I can see what I need to do on paper. Plus ticking things off is very satisfying. I make a list for each day. I spread housework, life admin & work throughout the week. Leave time to rest & between hated tasks. Prioritise what’s most important for each day. Do not freak out if you can’t get everything done. Focus on the essentials for that day. Dishes in the sink won’t hurt you. I usually make separate lists for things I need to buy, calls I need to make & appointments I need to keep. Our current situation limits those things somewhat.
  • Permission to deviate. Let yourself scrap it all if you really need to. Just don’t ditch it forever.

Most of all, be kind. Indulge in whatever makes you feel good. Eat the treats. Send yourself flowers. Drink the tequila. Keep talking about how you feel. Ask for help if you need it. Everyone is dealing with their own variant of yuck; let’s try to take care of ourselves & each other.

Margarita in cocktail glass with lime wedge

This week I have mostly…

Been having a different emotion every 5 minutes. All this isolation is taking its toll. I always find a well selected tune can help me ride whatever feeling washes over me. Thus my recent listening has been a seesaw.

Patsy Cline has been featuring in my playlists fairly frequently. She’s the perfect accompaniment to a melancholy mood. Her voice manages to be sad & comforting at the same time. Strange is a particular favourite at the moment. The wistful cynicism feels familiar.

Yellow vinyl of patsy cline  strange

On a more sanguine note is I’ll Be Your Mirror. I’m not a huge fan of The Velvet Underground, but this is one that gets my insides swishy. I think we all have times when it is difficult to see the good in ourselves. Having someone believe in you enough to reflect them for you is beautiful. The vocals are so gentle; listening feels like sinking into a dream.

Meghan Tonjes is a Bopo Queen. I love her work, so I don’t know why it took me so long to discover her music. Turns out she is a talented songwriter too. Habits is one of those heart wrenchingly honest break up songs that still manages not to be depressing. I’ve definitely had loves I struggled to get out of my head. There’s nothing worse than that everything reminds of you the loss stage. Maintaining an avoidance high sounds appealing (& entirely I’ll advised).

I’m late to the party with Catfish & The Bottlemen. Which isn’t unusual for me. I often discover music long after it has ceased be novel to everyone else. I’ve fallen for them all the same. It’s probably a little cheesy to select Glasgow as my favourite, but it extracts happy sighs me. The slight rasp in the singers voice chills me right out. The lyrics take me back to being young & drunk on sauchiehall st. Days when I never knew where a night out might end. Ah, the glory of misspent youth.

Pink sunset

Sexual by Neiked is a surprise fav. I just can’t resist its ebullience. It is impossible not to bop around to this tune. It feels like a summer fling. All the sexy fun & carry on with none of the long term issues. After months in lockdown I am more than ready for this summer to get heady. I hope to soon be turning this one up loud & enjoying it with someone yummy.

I hate to be obvious, but I’ve played If The World Was Ending to death. How could I not? There has been a touch of apocalypse hanging in the air. So many sad stories surround us all. I can’t help but think about who really matters. Of course, part of that will always be the one that got away. It’s impossible not to be swept up in the plaintive request at the centre of the song. If the world really was ending none of the details that couldn’t be worked out would matter. I can’t be the only one tempted to curl up in the arms of Mr I wish he were right.

If the word was ending you’d come over right in black on drippy green background

I miss you like sleep…

Too much time in my head is distinctly bad for me. Not getting stuck amongst all the crap i’ve crammed up there is an ongoing project. It is not an endeavour that is aided by inaction.

Staying home alone all day, everyday is not ideal. I require distraction. I need people who make me feel swell and to do things that help me feel worthy. I like knowing that I could jump in a taxi and go anywhere. Having a sense of control is massively important.

Being entirely reliant on others for almost everything makes my insides jitter. I feel more of a burden than ever. Which activates my guilt & anxiety. I’m obviously also worried about myself or someone I love getting ill. Plus the horror of all the people who are suffering & dying every day. I’m basically a big ball of negative emotions.

I’m struggling with pain. I miss my little ones. I miss all my people. I can hardly sleep. There’s very little work. There’s too much time to think. All this on my own time thinking about what I miss inevitably highlights the major omission.

When left to its own devices my is brain predictable. It clings to trauma. If not occupied with the business of living, I regress. Slip back into dreams of the births I’ll never labour through. Flashbacks of the blood & pain I did. Haunted by the over used phrase that always signaled it was over.

There are so many what ifs. Too many of my own actions to question. Huge & tiny alterations that could have changed the outcome. Things I never said. Words others can never unsay. Blame to place. Regret to carry. Penance to complete.

I feel trapped with all I’ve lost and every little thing I can’t share. The good memories are as painful as the bad. The selfies I took when my belly began to change shape. That magical second line on the test. Marking midwife appointments on my calendar. Blood tests with the right numbers. Making lists. Checking what ridiculous object the app tells me my baby is now the size of. Plans & scans & the bam bam of heartbeats.

Rainbow reflection on pale either arm

My body remembers it all in such intricate detail. I recall the fractionally altered taste of mint tea. Sex felt different and the smell of everything intensified. I was heavy with fear. Dulled by fatigue. Yet still floating on hope and entirely delighted to experience whatever this new life threw at me.

It never goes away. I can never take my foot off the pedal. I’m always close to skidding off the road. Lockdown is like a battle not to drift to sleep at the wheel. Spending too long contemplating my past or the what might have been is dangerous. Finding ways to keep my eyes open is getting harder.

Two lines to indicate positive result on pregnancy test

My quarantine in pictures…

It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that I haven’t been developing new skills in lockdown. My novel remains unfinished & my sour dough never got started. I’ve mostly been entertaining myself with much less useful activities.

Internet nonsense has been a fairly good diversion. I’ve killed some time with insta challenges and silly filters. I alarmed my mother with candy floss hair (I’m almost 40 & she still doesn’t want me to touch my ginger locks). I’m a little bit tempted.

Hair day filter candy floss colours

The cosmetics procedure filter was less enticing. This is not a good look. Neither was the art work I produced when. I joined in on one of those Instagram tags. It was rather pleasing to do, though.

Pencil sketch of house plants

The pillow challenge was a bit more successful & even more fun.

Plus size women  naked apart from teal pillow

I’ve done a fair bit of online shopping. Mostly treats for little ones, but the odd random item for myself too. I seem to be more easily influenced during lockdown. I baked more biscuits than I could eat. Got this gorgeous digital portrait oh my niece & I to add to my wall art.

Digital portrait and photographs on wall

I’ve made a million video calls. Tonnes of Hi jinks with the the kids. Cocktails & gabbing with adults. I’ve done foot peels & face masks. Organised sock drawers, finally arranged my photos into albums & listened to podcasts galore. I even had socially distanced picnic lunch in the driveway.

FaceTime of toddler in ball tunnel
Video  call with two faces in lemonade filter
Video call with dragon filter

Basically I’m trying to defeat cabin fever & stay sane. The fact my darling sister talked me into learning a tik tok dance questions if I’ve managed it.

Two women doing tik tok dance on summer dresses

The drugs don’t work…

Yesterday was Fibromyalgia Awareness Day and I think my body knew it. My back is certainly making me very aware that fibro hurts. So much so that I couldn’t even finish this in time to mark the day. If I’m forced to know about fibromyalgia all the live long day, then I’m afraid you’re going to have to find out about it today.

Fibromyalgia difficult to manage. It’s unpredictable. You can hurt everywhere or the pain can focus on a new spot everyday. One day you might be too fatigued to get dressed. The next everything you eat sends your guts into a temper. It can have an effect on cognitive abilities, make your skin burn, muscles ache & head throb. Sometimes all the at the same time.

There’s no cure. Sufferers often experience constant pain. Treatment usually includes a combination of pain relief medication and non pharmaceutical interventions (massage, tens, specific exercises). Many also receive therapy aimed at helping accept chronic pain because treatment rarely results in the eradication of symptoms. Living with fibromyalgia means always feeling some version of unwell.

Whilst you can’t make any of us better, you can help. There are easy peasy ways to not make our lives harder.

Ditch ‘Get Well Soon’

Fibro is a chronic, incurable illness. We are never getting better. It may be well intended and seem like a little slip, but it’s exhausting. Luckily it’s simple to fix. You can express both your well wishes & your understanding of the situation with these words, I hope you have a better day soon.

Don’t offer magic cures.

Struggling with an illness that impacts every aspect of your life motivates you to get informed. Fibro folk don’t need your unsolicited advice. We definitely don’t need to hear about the same magic cures over & over. We’ve researched whatever diy fix you heard about in instagram. We try credible therapies available to us. We’ve considered our diets & yoga & cbd. We really don’t need to hear about how your cousin’s flatmate changed their life with turmeric. It’s patronising on so many levels. Stop it.

Invisible isn’t imaginary.

Fibromyalgia can be an invisible illness. It doesn’t necessarily leave any physical sign of its presence. That doesn’t mean it isn’t real. If you don’t know what fibro is, 10 minutes on google will be illuminating. No one is required to answer your intrusive questions. Medical records are private for a reason. If you don’t understand the condition, don’t worry about it. Extremely well trained medical professionals do. As a person with fibromyalgia it is not our job to convince you of the severity of the illness. It requires zero effort to mind your own business.

Don’t judge my good days.

Fibromyalgia is erratic. I never know how I will feel when I wake up. Sometimes I can go from reasonably ok to excruciating pain in the space of an hour. I try to plan around fibro, but nothing is ever set in stone. I can spread out appointments. Schedule rest days. Make a timetable for essential tasks, but my body doesn’t care. It will throw a painful spanner in the works whenever it pleases. The fact that I could do X yesterday is no guarantee that I will be able to today. An outing that I managed last week could easily leave me unable to function for days another time. I want to live as full a life as possible. So, on good days I attempt to get things done. The fear of being judged solely on those days is horrible. I’m not faking symptoms to avoid things I don’t want to do. I’m not lying when I cancel plans. In fact, the opposite is true. Most of the time I underplay how bad I feel. If I were to vocalise every dreadful sensation I’d never talk about anything else. I know my illness is frustrating. I hate that I inconvenience so many people. Please, believe that I am I trying my very best.

I need a little space…

If this crisis has taught me anything it’s how grateful I am to have a safe & comfortable home to quarantine in. Not everyone is so fortunate. That’s why this month I have chosen to support Refuge.

I’m sure you will have read about the increase in domestic violence incidents since lockdown began. This quarantine is far more than an inconvenience for people living with an abusive partner or parent. The choice of being locked up with someone who harms you or leaving with nothing during a global pandemic is a horrible dilemma. That’s why organisations like Refuge are even more vital at the moment.

Sun shining beneath  dark clouds

Refuge provides a range of services for men, women & children. They offer safe houses, advocacy culturally specific help & a 24hr hotline. These services save lives. I urge to support them if you can.

You can make a one off or monthly donation of your chosen amount. Or you can opt to buy a Refuge Parcel. These fund specific items like hygiene packs, child support, emergency parcel and so on. I opted for a children’s parcel containing items to help a little one settle into a new life. I think it’s a wonderful idea. It makes me feel really happy that I can help make a child’s world a little better.

Refuge logo and helpline

Kick off your Sunday shoes…

Earlier this year I started a little shopping in anticipation of the sun coming out. Well, the weather has changed, but I’m not going anywhere. Since I’m dying to show off my lovely summery footwear I decided to give you lot a look.

I used to wear converse a lot in my youth. Tiny skirts, tights & converse loomed large in my teens. Swimwear & all stars were the daywear outfit of choice on girl’s holidays. Perhaps nearing forty has me seeking out old favourites. In any case the minute I saw these yellow flatforms I knew they had to be mine. I only got to wear them once before lockdown kicked in. I can’t wait to get these back on my feet.

Converse  yellow flatforms
Woman’s legs wearing polka dot trs & yellow converse
Trainers – Converse Lift

The next additions to my summer wardrobe were inspired by my toddler nephew. His stylish Mummy got him some rainbow sandals & I really loved them. Unfortunately his exact ones are only available in baby sizes. I did find this very similar pair in the girls section. Luckily my teenie weenie feet in kid’s size shoes. So, I snapped them up. Behold my rainbow pretties.

Rainbow sandals on pale feet
Sandals – Next Kids