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WHAT IS IN MY SELF CARE BAG

Friday, 12 April 2019
I am doing a bit of a throw back in today's post but this time with a twist! Instead of doing a "what's in my bag" post, I thought I'd do a "what's in my self care bag." A self care bag is a little bag that I keep beside my bed with a few essentials in which I can grab easily in case I am having a bad flare up.

Let's get into the bag! First up we have the Lush Sleepy Moisturiser. If I am completely honest, I'm not a mega fan of Lavender scents - but, I use this on my chest when I am struggling to sleep. Do you remember using Vick's vapour rub on your chest when you were younger? Well, I use this like that so the smell puts me to sleep. Obviously it doesn't always work, but it certainly helps!

I also keep a tub Lush Dream Cream in there. My skin gets really dry and I don't always have the energy to do a full skin care routine after a shower, so most nights I apply a little bit of this onto my arms and legs to keep my skin feeling soft.

I have a separate bag for my main medication which is also by my bed, however I keep extra pain killers in here so I always have them at hand when needed.

This one is an obvious one, I always keep a charger for my phone or iPad so I can always keep on top of my blogging and admin even if I am struggling to get out of bed.

Easy snacks are usually in my bag too, such as breakfast bars or (my personal favourite) crisps.

I like to keep a book handy too. I love to read and it can be a very welcomed distraction if I am struggling with pain.

I'm going to do a further post about this, but if I am having a flare, the last thing I want to do is a full blown skincare routine. Makeup wipes are useful to remove any makeup that I managed to put on that day or just to generally keep my skin clean.

I like to keep this little tub of Superdrug's Night Cream in there too. While I can't always do the indepth skin care like a lot of blogger do due to chronic pain, I find that keeps my skin nice and soft in the meantime. It makes me feel refreshed while it sinks in!

I keep a nail file in here too, just so I can practice a little bit of self care even if I can't really be bothered to fully paint my nails!

My hands get pretty dry because of my illness and it leaves me with awful skin so I like to attempt to keep my hands nice and smooth. I have a few hand creams which I like to alternate between, but I quite like this one I'm using currently. 

Finally, Pillow spray! Again, I really don't like lavender but I find that this helps calm me down if I am having a particularly hard time getting to sleep.

My pain fluctuates quite a lot, especially while I am in a flare so sometimes I will use these products more than others. Do you have a self care bag? Or do you like the idea of having one? 

I MAY HAVE WON SOME BATTLES, BUT I HAVEN'T WON THE WAR

Monday, 8 April 2019
If you follow me on my social media (which you should, may I add) then you will know that I was featured in the Daily Mail (you can read it here if you are interested.) I am so thankful and grateful from the response that I have received from that article, even a few weeks after the article - I am still receiving messages/emails from people congratulating me with how far I have come in my life. 

If you told me even a year ago that my scars and story would be out there for the world to read - then I probably would have laughed. It is true, that I have overcome so much already in my lifetime. However, I still have a long way to go unfortunately. While my Nail Patella Syndrome is going to be with me forever and will always be some sort of problem, it has created a whole new host of problems that I also need to face. 

It is strange actually, because in some aspects I am doing the best I have ever been in my life; I have been operation free now since 2012 which is the longest I have ever gone without an operation, I have learned more about myself in these recent years with both my physical health and my mental health than I ever have but, there is still so much I deal with on a day to day basis. 

I have become pretty good at hiding a lot of my daily struggles over the years. Many probably wouldn't even know the full extent of it. However, I have recently learned that I shouldn't have to hide my struggles out of shame, embarrassment or simply because it is easier for them. I was afraid that if I opened up fully about my struggles, then they would leave because that is easier than knowing what to say. I was worried that people thought that I was making all of my illnesses up because I looked fine the other day, or that they would just know me as "that sick girl." I would rather put on a front and grin through the pain, than let them know that I was struggling. 

But in the long run, who was I hurting more? *Spoiler alert* It's me.  

MY STORY ON BECOMING SOBER

Wednesday, 3 April 2019
I used to be quite a fairly heavy drinker, to the point where I needed a bottle of wine almost every night to cope. This probably doesn't sound like a lot, but I wasn't addicted to not the alcohol per se - but the escape from my real life and the situation I was in at the time. When that didn't do the trick anymore, I went onto drugs. Just cannabis and the occasional Nos. Nothing too hardcore. I found that I was relying on cannabis and drink to get me through.

But, (me being me) started being quite reckless with it. I ended up going to uni stoned to cope with the anxiety I was experiencing, but ended up getting sent home as I was looking really "ill." Obviously I wasn't ill, but it was self-induced as I had smoked a bad batch. I ended up using them to comfort me.

I had a bad day for whatever reason. So, I got a bottle of wine, a takeaway and a bag of weed and I was set for the night. Well, I hadn't got the memo that mixing cannabis and alcohol is never a good idea. That night, I experienced my first psychotic episode. Now, I'm unsure whether or not this episode was drug induced or not. But, I ended up freaking out because I was convinced that someone was outside trying to break in my flat and kill me. At the time I swore blind that there was a person outside my window and it sent me into a spiral. I even rang my mum crying because I was so convinced that something was going to happen. I ended up bolting my door shut with its triple lock, pushing a chair up against the door, closing all of the curtains, grabbing a knife while I sat there crying and hoping that I wasn't going to die. Looking back, I know now that all I saw was the tree outside my window and because it was so windy, the branches were knocking against the window. It is kind of funny now, but at the time I was so SURE that it was a person. This was enough for me to not rely on cannabis every again.

In terms of alcohol, I haven't touched it for coming up to two years. I started to realise (especially after the aforementioned episode) that I really disliked being out of control of my own body. I mean, I can barely keep a handle of myself when I'm sober so it isn't really a wonder that I struggle while under the influence. Having a couple of drinks would make me panic, which set off alarm bells for the next time I tried to drink. So, I just cut it out too. I wanted to learn how to cope being out in social situations, without having a drink in my hand - because in the end, it wasn't worth it.

Going out for the first time while sober was an odd experience. It was Mike's (le boyfriend) birthday and we went clubbing. Throwing myself into the deep end a little! But, I was determined. To be honest, it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. In fact, it was probably one of my favourite night outs - ever!

I am still learning to cope with being out in social situations all on my own, but I used these techniques I have learned along the way. (You can read more about them here in My Coping Techniques & Strategies for Panic Attacks post) It has been a long road, but I am so glad that I know I can manage going out without having to rely on drink.

WHAT IT IS REALLY LIKE TO BE HOUSEBOUND

Friday, 29 March 2019
Being able to stay at home all day, every day sounds great - doesn't it? Having the freedom to be able to do whatever, stay in bed for as long as you'd like and not have to go to work? BRILLIANT. Yeah, no...

For many people with chronic illnesses, disabilities and mental health issues it is hard to be able to go out to work or socialise regularly, it isn't as easy as abled people. There are many people who crave being able to work a "boring office job" like everyone else so that they can feel normal. Although times are certainly changing, there is still a long way to go with discrimination towards certain groups of people. But, they won't admit that, will they? Of course not. It's against the law(!) While many people get envious if you tell them that you stay at home all day, I don't think they know what the reality is like...

Having to rely on another person for the only time you can escape the four walls that is your own home can ultimately be soul destroying. For a lot of people, they are only able to get out of the house if they have someone with them. This could be due to needing help with a wheelchair or even feeling safer  go out with someone you trust. Loss of independence is something that many struggle with which in turn, can impact the persons mental well-being further.

Due to the inability to work that many disabled, chronically or mentally ill face - a lot of people feel guilty for not being able to "contribute properly" to the household. This can weigh heavily on their minds, especially if they are having to rely on someone else (i.e a partner or family members) to help them out with their bills (which goes along with the loss of independence mentioned above.)

Trying to keep up with the house work can also be a massive a chore in itself. It is hard enough to keep up with it but then the guilt of letting it slide for a day or so is awful. Some days, someone may be able to do the housework needed to do however other times they may struggle a lot more and need an extra helping hand. "What do you even do all day? The house isn't hasn't been tidied."

Lastly, isolation. Seeing everyone all over Instagram being able to go and socialise every weekend, having the time of their lives while you're sat at home on Day 3 of a flare up isn't exactly nice. Especially if you were once able to do so. Isolation means that you loose contact with friends as they have given up asking you to go out. It means that you're lucky if you feel up to meeting a friend once a month.

The point to this post is that you never know what someone is really going through. They may look "fine" however that doesn't mean you know all about the struggles that they face.

For many, this is our reality.