Monday, 24 April 2017

My Scoliosis journey

I decided to do this post because I realised its been about 11 years since I had major surgery. I have Scoliosis. For anyone who doesn't know it is a curvature of the spine. Scoliosis is something you are born with, that usually progresses as you grow. Some people will only have it mildly, whilst others are much more severe. I found out I had it when I was 13 due to collapsing on a day trip to Nottingham (fun day out that turned out to be). One year and many X-rays, appointments and poking and prodding later, it was decided my spine was serious enough to require surgery. At its worst my spine was 75 degrees (away from the centre).

It didn't really sink in until the morning of the surgery when I was showering pre-operation. I remember bits and pieces before surgery, like having to lay watching Big Brother and that a cannula hurts to be put in! Approximately 7 hours later surgery was over and I was woken up in HDU, again memories a little hazy but I was told the couldn't straighten it as much as they wanted to but managed to go from 75 to around 55. They also had to do a bone graft from my hip and put it in my neck bone to prevent my neck from breaking. This was down to the wearing down of my skull into my spine. The surgery itself involves screwing screws and a rod onto the spine to straighten it. The rods and screws were fused from T2 to T12 (no idea, but its about half my spine from the bottom of my neck).
This is me about 5 days after surgery. I stayed in hospital just over a week. About 3 or 4 days I was sitting up and had to remember how to walk again. Which after laying down for that long, not being able to move on my own and now having a metal rod in my spine. It took a little while to get my balance back! I was told I couldn't do any physical activity for a year, so no bungee jumping for me (oh no..)

I had to miss the first month of year 10, which was hard because I had to begin my GCSEs at home and was starting mock exams pretty much as soon as I got back to school again. But I managed with the help from the school and friends. 

Fast forward to today. I still have aches and pains. But without the surgery my quality of life would be so much different. I don't regret having surgery. 

Things I have learnt:

- Scoliosis isn't just back pain. 
- Surgery makes you realise your strength
- It doesn't hold you back
- You will be in pain for the rest of your life the alternative would have meant my life would have
been very different. 
-You have cool scars and a story to tell

My scar is still only just visible. It took me a long time to get comfortable with my scars and now I'm proud of them.  

Any questions just ask :)


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Anxiety in the workplace

Most days I look forward to work, and I'm pretty much doing what I've always wanted to. Not only work in a school, but work with children with special educational needs. But there are some days where I'd rather stay in bed. It could be because I know I'll have a really busy day or worry when things change after getting used to a timetable and meeting a new class. 

You shouldn't be ashamed to have anxiety and be at work. Because for the most part, we can work, we know our triggers. As odd as it may sound, working in a school has been good for my anxiety. It may be because you spend all day busy and have little time for the thoughts to creep in.

Panic attacks are terrifying anywhere, but experiencing one at work was another thing entirely. In the few months I've worked at the job I'm in now I've only had one panic attack at work. Now considering the last public one I had was about 5 years ago in college, I reckon that's good going. 

What I thought was going to happen compared to what actually happened:
-I thought I would be told to suck it up and get back to work
-I thought I'd get judged
-I thought no one would understand

-What actually happened was everyone was extremely supportive and let me have some time just to cool down and relax quietly. 
-Everyone made sure I was okay even a few days after. 

A couple things I do to keep anxiety at bay everyday at work:

Inside my planner I have this quote. It sits right next to my timetable so I see it every time I open it. As little as it is, it is a nice pick me up. 

Scentered and essential oils are great for a quick fix. Scentered are a roll on balm which go on your pulse points. These give almost instant relief and smell amazing. 

Weekends are important to rest, as difficult as it may be you need at least one day to switch off and relax. 

I hope my rambling has helped in some way to show that you can work and have anxiety. Your employers will be more okay with it than you think. 


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Self-hate and why we should break the cycle

I've struggled to write any post for a while so sorry for it being such a long time. I've struggled for a few reasons, firstly actually settling on a topic, two being tired from work and three I just didn't know how to put into words how I was feeling.

So this time I decided to write about self-hate. Having been bullied all my life by various people, whether it was peers or previous boyfriends. I occasionally get stuck in these 'holes' of self-hate. No matter that right now my life is actually pretty good, one thing at work, home or even just walking down a street can trigger those tiny words in your head that eventually get too much to bear. It's almost like being stuck in a crowded room where everyone talking at the same time, there are no windows so you feel like you can't breathe. Noisy right? That's what anxiety feels like. It's a constant battle of positives and negatives.

There are days I really dislike myself to the point of hate and other days where I feel I look alright. Logically I know it shouldn't matter what I look like on the outside, but sometimes walking past someone on the street you just think, wow I wish I could look different. But the truth is, everyone feels the same.

So here's how we all should break the cycle together because no one should do this alone. Tell your friends and family they are beautiful in their own crazy way. I wouldn't go far as to shout it to random people in the street, but a smile goes a long way. I feel like I've written a similar post before but at the minute this is just what I can manage.


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Anxiety: An update

There have been a few light bulb moments for me with my anxiety. I've realised a lot of things and still learning others. For me there are times I know I will be around a trigger and sometimes new things seem to set anxiety attacks off.

So here's what I have learnt:

- I am a lot more capable than I give myself credit for. I recently went to the cinema, which ordinarily would be a trigger for me. I usually hate going because I know it will be busy, I don't like the sense of being in the dark and people I don't know sitting around me for a long period of time. Halfway through I was so tempted just to stand up and walk out. But I didn't, mainly because my boyfriend was there to hold my hand, telling me to breathe. But also because I was determined to prove to myself I could do it.

-I can do things I never thought I would be able to. I started work a few weeks ago. I never thought I'd end up working in a secondary school. It is where some of my most painful memories were and I thought being in that environment again history would repeat itself. But it hasn't, so far I've only had a couple bad days where I felt like going home, but I stuck through it. Much like the cinema situation, sitting in assemblies is another trigger for me. But I spoke to management about it and they were happy for me to sit elsewhere. Which helped me see I can be a little more open about my feelings.

-People care about me. Now obviously I know people do, but on my bad days I feel a complete burden, useless and not worth anyones time. But that's just not true, people care about me and how I feel.

I'm still learning to talk to people. There are times I'm feeling down and I just can't put into words how I am feeling. It isn't a thing I can put into words, But I am trying, I've started a journal which should hopefully help. Next time I'm struggling I can write it all down, ramble as much as I like in whatever thought train my brain takes me and show it to whoever is asking. If they look a bit taken aback, it'll help me show just how hard it is to express myself.

Sorry this has been a bit rambly again, but as always if it helps you in any way it's what its here for.


Friday, 4 November 2016

Why I prefer to stay in at the weekends

It's Friday/ Saturday night. What are you doing? Some people are curled up watching films, others are getting ready for a night out to go to various pubs and clubs. Me? I'm usually the first one, already in my pyjamas as soon as dinner is finished, ready to watch films or TV shows all night.

But I wasn't always like that, there was a time I used to go out nearly every weekend. I used to be able to dance, drink and party all night and into the early hours of the morning. Usually coming home at around 3 or 4 am. Thinking back I wasn't unhappy but I wasn't really happy either. I just didn't realise it was perfectly fine to stay at home. I feel like there is such a social pressure to go out clubbing and drinking when you hit 18 years old, that I felt like I had to. To those out there who think why didn't I just say no? There is that little voice of anxiety inside which makes you feel like if you don't go out, people will stop liking you.

There are many reasons why I don't go out anymore, largely because I've just grown out of it. I just don't really see the appeal of going into a club anymore. Another reason being I never felt like I fit in, by that I mean I never felt pretty. I would look around see my friends and all the girls wear dresses and full makeup and think I have no chance of being noticed. Sometimes I did, and really occasionally attracted the attention of real creeps who think its acceptable to grope inappropriately. I know the point of going out isn't to get noticed, but for me I felt like I had to. Throughout my teens I constantly felt inadequate and plain compared to my friends. On my down days I still feel like this now, but have much better coping strategies.

Sorry I've rambled a bit. If you were to take anything from this it would be just be happy with who you are. If you like partying that's fine and if, like me, you enjoy staying in whilst your friends go out. That's okay too! Your friends won't stop being your friends just because you don't like going out. If so they aren't real friends.


Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Ways to fix a bad day

Everyone has bad days, you could have had a bad day at work, something could be going on at home, or it could just be one of those days where anxiety is just too much for you. For me, there are some days as I've said before where I can't even face leaving home. There are also some days where I have the luxury of staying in and some I have to go out. On those days there are a few things I do to make those bad days that bit better.

On the days I can stay in I usually do a mixture of things, sometimes I draw or bake. Mostly I just binge on TV shows or end up in a YouTube black hole (we've all been there) or I read a book. But there are 3 main things I do every time:

1. This time of year means any excuse to wear jumpers. But I've found when I'm feeling low a throw on some comfy leggings and jumper. That feeling of comfort makes me feel like I can get through the day.

 2. My guilty pleasure is definitely watching Ellen clips on YouTube. She always cheers me up when I need to smile. I picked out a couple of my favourite guests, Wanda Sykes and Melissa McCarthy.

3. Going on Pinterest and just browsing. sometimes I pick something like Harry Potter and type funny or facts. Other times I look up quotes, or random funny things. This ends up getting me through a bug chunk of my day. Pinterest is great at making you find completely random, funny or cute things (sometimes a combination of the three), and before you know it you are sitting there smiling. 

I realise the last two are really just being glued to a screen, but reading a book is just as good. I mainly fall back on having YouTube on as a way to plug headphones in and just be in my own world. Its also because I spend a lot of the day applying for jobs so helps me concentrate. There are so many things you could do and these were just a handful of my examples. But bad days do pass, sometimes the bad days turn into a bad week. But that's okay, just keep going. Things always get better.


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Stress and pressure

For me stress and pressure are linked so it made sense for me to merge them into one post. People get stressed and people feel pressure at some point in their lives for all sorts of reasons. Usually these feelings come at the same time. The main ones being work, family and friends, money and society.

Society has become one that has caused more pressure for a lot of people, myself included. Whilst there are days when I can say:

                   'I am me and shouldn't let other people's appearance impact me..'

That isn't always possible. The media puts pressure and girls (and boys) to look a certain way. So sometimes when I watch films or TV programmes, I feel completely inadequate and a pressure to do more to look 'good'. But I eventually convince myself to get back to a level where I feel even slightly okay about how I look. I mainly do this by talking to friends, or I just let the emotions out which more often then not helps the feeling pass.

Work pressure is another massive issue for people. This could be to do with workload from school/college/uni or when you get a job. Finding work for me has been extremely stressful and slowly felt more and more pressure to get one otherwise I wouldn't have money to do things I enjoyed and end up having to spend the rest of my life job hunting. This attitude isn't necessarily helpful getting you into work. So I had to keep telling myself it will happen soon, it just takes longer for me than everyone else. It doesn't mean employers don't like me, just I tend to lack experience.  

When these pressures build up it makes me stressed. Then I start to stress over the little things which then leads onto getting frustrated very quickly. Even over the little things. So here's a couple examples of one thought train I've had quite alot:

-I could be job searching for a month, then get stressed with not getting anything or one interview and being turned down. This then turns into frustration, then slowly turns into anger. Then anger usually leads to tears. I'm one of those people who cry when they're angry so it tends to lead to tears. This cycle could happen everyday for a week before the penny finally drops and I realise I just need to be patient.

-Throughout school up until university I have always hated not understanding a topic. And there's sometimes I could sit for ages and someone could attempt to explain it and I just can't get it. Which then stresses me out because I have to understand it for an exam/essay. This again leads to frustration and more tears. But it's okay not to understand something, you can't expect to know everything in life because what is easy for you is difficult for others.