Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Why don't we all cut ourselves some slack?

Wow!  I can't believe it's been 2 years since I posted in this blog!!  I've written a couple of posts in that time - some actually typed up - some just in my head, but for some reason have never published them.

I think the longer it got, since I had written anything, the harder it became.  I think I thought a 'come back' post needed to be a big thing - my best post yet!

Anyway, now that I'm not sure anyone even reads this any more, I've had a lightbulb moment.  I've been having a few of those lately.  Maybe it's got something to do with turning 40 next month?  Maybe it's a temporary lift of Fibro-Fog? Maybe I'm just finally becoming old and wise?  Who knows?

Anyway, my lightbulb moment today.  How do I describe it?  Well, today I'm at home ill.  Not so ill as to be asleep, but ill enough to admit to myself that I need to sit and do nothing.  Ha!  So what am I doing now?  Nothing? Resting? Or writing a blog?  Yep, I will never learn!

I was sitting here, feeling a bit sorry for myself because I'm not feeling well, and thinking about how I started this year determined to feel better.  I was determined that by my 40th birthday - which is only 2 weeks away - I would be feeling healthier; I would have lost enough weight to feel at least ok with myself, and I would be ready to leave my illness-ridden 30's behind and start my 40's with loads of energy.  Hmm.  Doesn't look like that's happened quite as planned, does it?

Then, just as I was feeling pretty bad about myself, I remembered this blog, and why I started writing it in the first place.  Yes, it was to document a few crafty projects and recipes I was pleased with, but primarily, it was to talk about the stuff that I passionately believe we should all talk about more often.

I truly believe that if we all talked about things like depression, self esteem, mental illness, physical illness and how we feel, more often, we'd realise that everyone's struggling with something.  What you see on the outside of a person does not necessarily tell the full story of what's going on on the inside.  We all project an outward image, that we think protects us from the outside world - but does it? Or does it make things worse?

So here's how I feel right now.  I am fed up of always being ill.  Auto-Immune disease sucks.  I am not sure that I have got to the bottom of what's wrong with me yet, but I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease a couple of years ago, but told that I have probably had it, un-treated, since my late teens/early twenties.  As a result, my insides are in a pretty bad way.  Two gastroscopies, more than a year apart, have shown that there's not much in the way of villi in my intestines - they have been worn away by my own body attacking itself, as a result of gluten. Great!

In addition, I've been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, had two carpal tunnel ops, one cubital tunnel op, and a TVT op to stop my pelvic organs making their own way out of my body!  Things still aren't right.  I have two more specialist appointments coming up - one to check out the funky 'floaters' that are constantly in my vision, and another to double-check the Fibro diagnosis - the current thinking being that Ehlers Danlos Syndrome might better explain my symptoms.  This has all been in the last 4 years.  Phew!  Just seeing that written down is a major reminder to cut myself some slack - which is the point of this post.

Do you know what?  If I had a friend going through all of that, whilst raising 4 and 6 year olds, I would think that she had her hands full, and wouldn't expect too much more from her.  So why do I expect so much more of myself??

But on top of all that, I am trying to build a business, Evie and Lola, in the 10 hours a week that I have to myself, while both girls are in school and nursery.  I am also president of our local Women's Institute - Wixams Vixens.  I can't help myself but become involved in all kinds of local events, and I set ridiculous standards for how tidy I like my house to be (which I fail on, by the way, pretty much 99% of the time!)

So that's all good.  I'm not complaining.  I love my life (except for the illness part, obviously).  I have a beautiful family, with dog and cat added for good measure.  We have a caravan that we love to go away in, pretty much once a month, and I really enjoy my business and being part of the WI.

What I really, really am not happy about right now is how I look.  I am at least 4 stone heavier than I am happy being.  I could do with losing 5, if I'm being brutally honest.  I hate how I look, how I feel, and how I dress, as a result of how I look and feel.

I never lost the weight I gained whilst pregnant with Evie.  Then I had Lola and gained more, and then I felt ill, and tired, and gained even more.  Now I have very little time or energy for exercise and my physio has told me not to run, or do anything else that puts strain on my unstable joints and prolapsing insides (see EDS suspicions!).

So that's all fine too.  I mean, I'd rather it wasn't the case, but it's not the end of the world, is it?  My husband loves me regardless, exactly as I am.  I have lots of lovely friends and I love my life.  I don't judge people on how they look.  I don't like or dislike a person in proportion with their size.  So why do I judge myself?  Why do I like myself so much less, just because I'm carrying a bit (lot) more weight than I'd like?

The problem is, my weight, and the way I perceive myself to look, is really tied up in my mental wellbeing.  I suffer, on and off, with depression and anxiety.  I have been told that I will be on medication for that indefinitely.  It's probably got a whole lot to do with the state of my insides. (do you know that 90% of the serotonin in our body is produced in the gut?  Just a quick google of gut health and mental wellbeing will throw up all kinds of evidence on this)  When I'm feeling particularly bad about myself, I have a tendency to not to want to go out.  I'll cancel plans.  Cry off on arrangements with friends, and make excuses to stay at home.

I might fabricate or exaggerate reasons to stay home, but I'm not making it up - I get physically ill - either with an anxiety attack or migraine, and can't go out anyway, but it started because I was feeling bad about the way I look.  Isn't that ridiculous?!  I can't even tell you how many events I've missed because of this stupidity!  I have lost friends because I have cancelled out one too many times without giving a decent reason.  I haven't given a decent reason, because there isn't one.   This is the reason, it's stupid and it has to stop!!

So, my plan at the start of the year was to turn 40 feeling better about myself, because I had lost weight, got healthier and was ready to party, wearing clothes that I'd chosen because I actually like them, rather than because they fit, or I think they hide a few of the bits of me that I don't like.

But how about this:  How about I cut myself some slack?  How about I think about what's going on in my life at the moment and give myself some space.  Stop worrying about how I look.  Honestly, I've got enough other things to worry about - does it matter what I'm wearing?

I'm not happy with how I am.  It's not how I want to be.  But I can't let it stop me doing the things I want to do!  It's time I just accepted it, and made the best of it.  I will fix it, if and when I have the time, energy, or diagnosis.  But for now, while I don't have those things, I need to become happier with how I am.

I'm writing this now because I can already spot the signs.  I have a big day out planned for my 40th and there is already a voice in my head telling me to cancel, because of how I look.  I am already feeling anxious about what I'm going to wear, because I believe I look awful in everything.  Even just writing this, and thinking about going out with people, out of my comfort zone, I can feel a panic rising.

I'm not going to be happy with myself on my 40th because I lost a load of weight and got back to looking like 'the old me'.  It's too late for that.  But there's still time for me to change the way I think about myself, and be happy with how I am.  I'm working on it.

How about you?  Do you need to cut yourself some slack too?