Mindfulness practice: The Raisin (NHS Mindfulness course week one part 2)

In my previous post I gave an overview of my first session participating in the mindfulness course offered by the NHS Bristol CFS/ME clinic (link), this post will focus on one particular practice we did in this first session, one that I have aptly named: The Raisin!

Background

This is quite a common practice, it is classified as an informal as you can do it with any food or drink as part of your day, my understanding is that an informal practice is one that you don’t have to set aside to do an activity specially, it is more about doing things that you do everyday mindfully.

The Practice

We were each given a couple of raisins, we were told to really look, smell, listen, feel and taste them, simple right? Continue reading

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Where am I now: Two years since being diagnosed

I’m back!

I have been a bit absent as of late, life has gotten the better of me I can’t believe it has been almost 5 months since my last post, it is crazy how time flies.

I thought it might be best to relaunch my blog by giving you all a quick update on what I have been up to, and how I have had to deal with each with my ME/CFS, especially since it is now just over two years since I first got sick.

When I first got sick, I could hardly leave by bed let alone the house, I wasn’t able to work, see friends or do anything really apart from watch mindless tv and sleep.

So fast forward two years and over the past few months some quite major things have happened which I wouldn’t have even dreamed I could do 2 years ago or even a year ago!!!

House Move

I have moved house not once but twice, due to a delay in our completion date,  now me and my wonderful partner are officially new home owners of an amazing period property, giving us the space we need, a drive so that I can park right outside my door, it is really really amazing!!!!

I have to say I couldn’t have done this without the most the support and help of not only my beloved boyfriend but friends and family.

We started packing way in advance, pretty much doing a box a night in the weeks leading up to our move date, annoyingly we had to move out of our old rental the same weekend as we were supposed to get the keys to our beautiful new home, but when this got moved back a week, we had to move all our belongings and ourselves to my parents house (they are local), our best friends came up for the weekend and helped us finish packing and do lots of convoys with 4 cars over to my parents.

As I was driving as part of the convoy, I rested when we got back whilst everyone was loading and unloading the cars, otherwise I well quite frankly would have passed out.

We hired cleaners to clean the rental, and my wonderful mother cleaned our brand new (old) house.

I took a lot of time off around the move as I wouldn’t have been able to do both, but we did it. Six weeks after moving we still haven’t finished unpacking but we are getting there!

Working

Since May, I have consistently been working 3 days a week at work, which is amazing it itself, I even got promoted at work from assistant to assistant manager which is great news.

I haven’t felt I could increase again, at the moment 3 days is my limit at the moment at least.

I have been able to be able to work, by switching my working hours from 9-5 to 10-6 or 10.30-6.30, having several mini pause breaks (3-5mins) throughout the day, chilled out lunch break and a break mid afternoon to lie down and do a guided meditation. I also have a parking space in the office so that I can park right near the entrance.

If you are thinking about going back to work or need some ideas in relation to a phased return check out my previous post on my phased return to work (link).

Getting crafty

I have become really crafty, over the last few months and can do it when I am not feeling too great.

Sewing

I got a sewing machine for my birthday back in July, I find it really therapeutic creating something out of bits and bobs and it turns out I am quite good at it, so far I have made toy elephant, pencil/ brush cases, advent calendars and even a purse.

To the extent that I have set up my own little esty shop : Sewing to Recovery (Link)

I have decided that I want a portion of proceeds to be donated to charity, I have had no sales yet but fingers crossed!

Up cycling furniture

I have also got into upcycling furniture, seeing as we didn’t have any I have brought lots of cheap furniture of ebay and the likes and painted it with chalk paint, this is obviously I can only do this now and again on really good days but its really fun, and giving something old and ugly a new lease of life and creating something beautiful is really rewarding.

Colouring

This really is an activity I can do when I have no energy what so ever! My sister got me a colouring book for my birthday, I had been meaning to get one for a while and boy it is amazing! Within a couple of weeks I had brought two more, and now my house is decorated with the really good ones which are now framed.

It is really calming and at least when I can’t do anything but sit on the sofa I can listen to my audiobook and do a bit of colouring and feel like I have achieved something which really lifts my mood.

Coming soon- Benefits of adult colouring

Holidays

Yes that is plural! I loved travelling going away to exotic places exploring new cultures going off the beaten trail; well I am not quite there yet but back at the beginning of the summer I went on two, week long holidays one with my other half and one with my sister.

Both were all inclusive beach holidays where I did nothing but lie on a beach in the sun all day, mosey over to the restaurant and get drinks brought to me on my sun lounger.

I felt amazing, week doing NOTHING! The sun on my skin there is nothing better, I even got a lilo so that I could float on the sea, as I wouldn’t have had the energy to swim.

Travel was the challenge, my other half and then my sister carried the luggage, I stopped and sat down a lot, and I booked assistance at the air ports and rested a lot before and after travel, so it was doable.

Balanced life

I am able to juggle work, crafts and having what resembles the start of a social life!

I have to pace, and I am still in loads of pain and have to rest but I am defiantly getting there, I have noticed a definite platue in my recovery but I am at a level where I want to improve but if I had to stay like this for the rest of my life it wouldn’t be so bad.

So I make sure my rest days I do nothing vigorous and rest, I have caved and got a stool for me to use when I shower really inexpensive (£15) and it has made the world of difference.

At work I work 10-6 as im worst in the mornings, I lunch at 12.30ish and then even if im not feeling tired (although I usually am) I take myself off at about 3.30 and have a 15min lie down and mediate, stretch and lie with my legs up against the wall at a 90 degree angle.

In the past 2 years I have gone from hardly being able to get out of bed, to all this, and a year ago I was able to work about 6 hours a week only and didnt do much else! So whilst my functionality is no where near what it used to be or that of a typical 26 year old, I am able to do little bits of lots of different things with careful planning and rest.

CFS/ME in words – CFS/ME Awareness Week 2015

As part of CFS/ME Awareness week a group of us from the CFS Health Centres came together and thought of all the words we associated with having this condition that effects approximately 17 million people world wide, one of the members so eliquently created 5 pieces of word art to illustrate the different aspects of CFS from our point of views.

Symptoms

In previous posts I have talked about various symptoms of CFS/ME but this illustrates just how many there are, but also some of the consequences of these symptoms, like the loss of relationships with friends and family, jobs and even ones sense of self.

Along with feelings of hopelessness, the fear of how long you are going to feel like this and if it is ever going to get any better.

Stages of recovery 1 Continue reading

The Rainbow in the Storm- Checking in with CFS/ME

Rainbow quoteLying on the sofa in PJ’s for the third day in a row might seem like a luxury to non sufferers and it used to be for me as well before I got ill. However my PJ’s and a cheeky hot chocy were accompanied by searing  pain, tingling in my arms and legs or at times the inability to even concentrate on the most mind numbing TV.

So my current stint on the sofa hasn’t been all that luxurious, the forecast has been filled with severe weather warning of: impenetrable brain fog, with pain showers throughout ranging from an annoying dull continuous drizzle to a full out thunder storm that brought a tear to my eye.

But though all the fog, the drizzle and the storm there has been a rainbow; evidence of the rays of my progress with this condition trying to burst through. Whilst these rays are not strong enough to banish the fog and the storms, the rainbow to me symbolises hope and makes me feel content and one might even go so far as saying happy with my situation. Continue reading

Toby Morrisons 5 CFS Pillars of Health (Toby Morrison UK Seminar Pt 4)

So in previous parts of the seminar, Toby talked briefly about what CFS/ME is and how and potential causes (Link), Toby’s Triangle of success: Survival, Accept, Adjust, Believe & Achieve (Link) and the effects of stress and mindset to recovery (Link).

All the above are great, but how do we get past the acceptance stage and start adjusting, how do we keep a positive mindset and hope if there is nothing we can do to help ourselves or we think we have no hope of ever getting better?

In most cases this simply is not true, there are things we can do to help ourselves, it may not mean recovering fully from CFS/ME but giving you access to a better quality of life. Continue reading

Stress, Mindset & Chronic Illness (Toby Morrison UK Seminar Pt 3)

Whilst Toby clearly stated that CFS/ME is not all in the mind, he emphasised the negative effect stress has on those with CFS/ME and a lot of chronic illnesses, and from personal experience I can defiantly vouch for stress causing my symptoms to flare up.

Stress is the #1 cause of chronic illness in the world.

We can be our own worst enemy. People with CFS/ME can often stop doing things because doing them causes anxiety and to be frank it is truly quite scary.

This can be from:

  • The anxiety that doing the thing in question is going to cause you some pretty serious payback
  • You wonder if you have forgotten how to do it
  • Run over various outcomes in your head about how it is going to go and,
  • How people are going to react to you.

Continue reading