Musings and Snoozes

Somewhere between stubborn and organised

There’s a lot to be said for being surrounded by people who, even if they can’t know how you feel, do what they can to empathise and learn how to help. I’m incredibly lucky to have several people who I know I can go to when one or other of my illnesses gets bad, and honestly when one of them says “I was looking up X on the internet…..” my heart melts a little.

I’ve been so overwhelmed by my up and down mental health over the last few months that my physical health has taken a bit of a backseat. Which is not a complaint – being depressed *and* in the middle of a Flare is not something I relish – but it means that when one of my other illnesses does start to play up, I find I’ve almost forgotten how to deal with it. The pain and fatigue are there every day, so it’s not like it ever truly goes away, but it has been pretty manageable for the last few months, so much so that when my body started really letting me know how it felt this last week or so, it came as a bit of a shock. Getting out of bed this morning, my back, shoulders, and hips just refused to work properly – this hasn’t happened for a while, and I can safely say I haven’t missed it! With some gentle stretching and a handful of pain meds it eased up enough to be only mildly inconvenient and I could get on with my day.

I’m pretty sure I can avoid a full on Flare if I’m careful. And I need to be careful – I’ve got a four day work trip starting on Monday, so any kind of flare up can absolutely do one. So I’m in battery saver mode now. Just like when your phone turns off all the non-essential functions and conserves what little energy is left, this is exactly what I’m doing. Admittedly one of my non-negotiable, critical tasks today was to head to Dominique Ansel to get Cronuts, BUT, that’s all I went for – instead of spending the day in London like I’d originally planned, I came back as soon as I’d had some proper food for lunch and had my Cronuts safely in my hands. I also have an entire bag of goodies for a perfectly pampered evening – beautiful smelling bath bubbles, three different hair dyes (because decision making is not my strong point), a face mask, and clean pyjamas. Bliss.

Tomorrow I need to pack and locate my passport (it’s around somewhere……), ready to leave for Budapest on Monday evening. Travelling is always incredibly tiring, and travelling for work even more so, so I’ve done everything I can to make it as easy as possible. I don’t want to have to wait around for my bags, so I’m only taking hand luggage. This is fine, but when I have to remember to take out my laptop and my millions of clear plastic bottles of make up and shampoo at Security (as well as taking off my boots and jacket of course), I always end up trying to gather everything up at the other end, and awkwardly holding at least five different things, half of which are too heavy, and before I’ve even got on the plane, I’m feeling it. I am determined to be super organised this time and make it easier on myself – I’ve made sure I have everything I need today, as opposed to at 7pm tomorrow when all the shops are shut and I’ve run out of time. I want to be able to sleep well tomorrow night, not lie awake thinking about all the things that I should have done and what I’m going to do about the things I haven’t. I want to wake up on Monday morning, grab my already packed bags, head to the office and calmly get my taxi to the airport. An alien prospect to me – I am the least organised, most anxious person 99% of the time – but just this one time, it would be nice to feel smugly in control. I’ll be sure to report back how it goes……!

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Have the courage to be vulnerable

I’ve written about vulnerability before and for my love of Brene Brown, but it’s been playing on my mind again recently, making me think about what it means to be vulnerable in certain aspects of our life.

It’s uncomfortable and it’s scary, that much I know. But it makes me realise that it impacts every aspect of my life – work, relationships, friendships, health – and that if I don’t embrace it, I won’t fully give myself the opportunity to get what I want and what I need.

But what does that actually mean?

Well first and foremost, it involves being honest, not just with others but with yourself. If you can’t be honest with yourself then you will never be able to identify what you need to move forward. For me, this is the hardest part, I can lie to myself a hundred times over if it makes me feel better. Feeling better isn’t always making the situation better though. It’s a temporary fix, nothing more. Being honest for me usually involves writing as much as possible down – sometimes on here, sometimes in my journal, sometimes just on the nearest bit of scrap paper I can find – but one way or another getting it out of my mind and being able to “see” it in front of me. Then I can start figuring out what I’m feeling and where it’s coming from.

Then comes sharing with others. This is where I have no middle ground – I either share everything or nothing. Boundaries are not my strong point! And I worry sometimes that I share too much. I cross post a lot of my blogs to Facebook, albeit to a limited group of people who get to see it, but it includes people I work with, family, people I don’t see all that often, and I worry that it influences their view of me. But along with vulnerability comes being authentic. I have such a passion for bringing your authentic self to every situation (fueled by listening to the amazing La-Chun Lindsay at a GLTBA conference a couple of years ago!) – I honestly believe you make better and more fulfilling connections by being honest about who you are. But it can be scary to put yourself out there, you have to be vulnerable and you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Nine times out of ten though, the benefits absolutely outweigh that fear. I lose count of how many people I’ve come to know better, to build a connection with, people I’ve learned about, and mutual help and support I’ve given and received with sometimes the most unexpected people.

Finally comes asking for what you need. Quite frankly, I’m terrible at this too, but I do find that having gone through the above process, I can at least identify my needs a little easier. Sometimes it’s help, sometimes it’s reassurance, sometimes it’s someone to listen to me, to help me break things down into manageable chunks. I find it extremely hard to ask for what I need, but almost every single time I’ve managed it, I’ve felt such relief afterwards. I should add that I don’t always get what I want – asking doesn’t always mean getting – but just by articulating my needs and my feelings, it’s like a weight being lifted from my shoulders.

And so that’s where I am today – trying to remind myself that sometimes we have to be vulnerable to be heard, we have to be honest to get what we need, and we have to have the courage to speak out. It, and I, are a work in progress, but we’re getting there.

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