Friday, 31 March 2017

A Little Bump and Kind

I don’t have daughters. I don’t have children at all for that matter. I have a huge dog, a cat and am soon to have another little kitten brought into our fur-filled household. All of this aside, I do have friends with beautiful babies who are blossoming into incredible little people before my eyes. I don’t doubt that perhaps one day I’ll desire a family of my own; I’m in a committed long term relationship and it’s the ‘done thing’ after all; but for now I’m happy as I am. We’re happy as we are. If that changes, then so be it, but for now; my womb my business.

It is odd the interest in your reproductive organs that grows as we age. I haven’t been ‘blessed’ with a child. I haven’t ‘realised’ it’s what I want yet. I’ll ‘never know until I do it’. It’s common to be left feeling patronised and like a borderline oddity when everyone around you seems to understand what you want and need better than you do.

Childless women are just that for a myriad of different reasons. Some of us are not in secure relationships, some of us are unable to conceive, some of our partners have issues with fertility, and some of us simply don’t want to have a child. I know that is an alien concept to so, so many women. I know that from 99% of the conversations I have with mothers. Thank-fully, my own close friends who have families are much more accepting of what I choose to do with my vagina, and that’s great. They understand that children are not for everyone and that many of us can still (incredibly) lead happy and fulfilled lives without disrupting our sleep patterns and tearing our genitals to shreds.

That said I do feel a strange kinship with my friends who have children. Although it’s not necessarily something I want for my own future, the love I feel for their spawn often takes me by surprise. It helps me understand the unconditional nature of a mothers love in a small way.

I feel the same pull from the young women who message me about their illness. Some to talk about a diagnosis or some just to let me know they appreciate having someone else speak up about IBD/mental health. I feel a responsibility to the girls and young women who follow my blog to be respectful of their choices. Their fears are universal and have been felt by all of us to some degree. I don’t have a ‘fear’ of starting a family I should clarify; I just don’t want to. That doesn’t mean I don’t deserve the same respect as a mother receives. My choices shouldn’t be dismissed or belittled for not conforming to some sort of perceived ideal, and this serves to remind me how important it is that we, as adult women; aunts, friends, mothers; listen and respect the choices of our ‘daughters’.

When we talk to one another we should try harder to listen, truly listen, to what is said (and often what is unsaid) before judging. We all do it, I’m not claiming to be as pure as the driven snow here, but I do think it’s now more important than ever we help young women to grow accepting of themselves and one another. Life is hard and growing up even harder, throw into the mix the possibility of a chronic/mental illness and it can be difficult to see past the next few hours within the day let alone make choices that will affect the rest of our lives. 

So my ‘motherly’ advice (from a certified non-mother) is to simply be kind to your kind.

Today is National Kindness Day (apparently), so what better day to start! xo

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Fake That 


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ‘faking it’. No, not in the bedroom; my years of shrieking in faux pleasure to please someone are long gone since I met a man who knows what goes where (and cares if I experience joy). What I refer to is more the daily ‘faking it’ we do in living with a chronic illness. We fake feeling ‘well’ everyday of our lives.

I personally haven’t been around 'online' for a wee while. You might have noticed; you might not have. That’s fine. People come and go out of our lives all the time and especially in this digital age it’s sometimes even harder to keep on top of all the people in our real lives and in our phones. So I pre-empt this blog with that wee nugget so the people I love don’t feel any guilt for maybe not having noticed the fact that I’ve been struggling for quite a while now.

The main reason people haven’t noticed is because I’m a good actress. I know how to act happy and well because I’ve been doing it for so long. So long in fact that I often don’t know how not to ‘act’ and just ‘be’. The reason this has been playing on my mind lately is because it’s something I worry has slowly but surely assimilated itself into all areas of my life without my being fully aware of it.  This is a long winded way of telling you all I've been feeling blue for a while now. I've been finding life and everything in it borderline impossible to bear and I’ve become tired of hiding that from everyone.

 I am the Queen of advocating that we should all be open and honest about our feelings, our illnesses, and speak without fear and without shame about our mental health. Advice I haven’t truly taken myself for quite a while now. The truth is I am feeling a bit crushed by constant and crippling anxiety. I've been unable to feel much of anything. I've been 'play-acting' my emotions. When the truth is that I am not sure what to feel and when. I perhaps portray what I *think* people want to see or what will help me navigate a situation. I paint on a smile when I need to and it fades as quickly as it comes. For a while there I couldn't remember when I last felt happy for more than a fleeting moment.

That, of course, has absolutely no bearing on the people around me. No one ‘makes’ someone depressed. There are aspects of behaviour that can of course exacerbate an already anxious persons' mood but none of that is applicable in my case. No one has done this to me. I haven’t even done it to myself; I’ve just maybe let it happen without interference.

 So what to do? Please, please, don’t pity me. I've just been taking a little break from everything to get myself well. It’s hard to stop and take stock of what is making you unhappy and I’m doing that. I’m on medication to help my muddled head and reduce my anxiety and I’ll get there. I'm happier now than I have been in a while just admitting it all. It's good to speak up when you're able, so please do if you're struggling. It's so much more of an achievement than you might think.

 So thank-you, and I love you, and I’ll see you soon xo


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Nerve Agent

I’ve always been shy.

It took me a good few weeks to stop weeping for my Mum aged 5 starting school. I would go beetroot-faced when asked a question in front of the class aged 10, and I’d laugh nervously like a borderline lunatic when a boy so much as looked at me, aged 15.


Most of that has dissipated these days, thankfully. Although I do still cling onto my Mum’s foot every time she attempts to leave my house, but like the majority of us, I’m a work in progress.


Those childhood nerves and inhibitions may have subsided gradually as I’ve aged and been opened up to more experiences and seen a little more of the world, but they seem to have been replaced with something almost even more intrusive;




This wasn’t something I was bothered by to a massive degree ‘pre-Crohn’s’. But it’s something I now often struggle to get a handle on. Unlike my Mothers’ ankle. It certainly wasn’t something I’d have considered to be an ‘issue’ either until I realised it was impacting my own life.


There is a big difference from saying you are an ‘anxious person’ to actually trying to make a dent in coping with it.

My anxiety manifests itself in many ways:


  • I’ll overthink anything and everything.
  • I’ll work myself up into a frenzy about the ‘what if’s’ of any given situation.
  • I’ll put off doing things through nerves.
  • I’ll stare at the phone until it stops ringing.
  • I’ll talk and babble too much to fill what I’ve decided is an ‘awkward’ silence.


Anxiety is a common issue with those of us with chronic illness because we spend a lot of our time thinking about ‘it’. We have a lot of factors to… factor in to our life alongside the normal day to day activities that we all undertake. Whether the issue is with mobility, pain, bathroom worries or mental health issues; we all have our own fears and apprehensions surrounding our illness.


Of course getting stuck in our own heads is often dangerous and isolating, so step one in overcoming the worst of this is really in talking about our worries. When we do this we often find they are sorely unfounded and based on nothing more than our overactive imaginations. Not always, but often. When we decide how someone is feeling/thinking about us, we also insult them, and eliminate the chance of them proving us wrong. We push people away through using our own fears as a barrier. Look, I don’t have the answers on how to cope with this, I just want to share with you that you’re not alone in feeling like an insane person from time to time!


What works for me may not work for you, but talking is really important. Don’t be afraid to admit you are scared and nervous and that its overwhelming you. It so much more common than you think. People who love you and/or doctors can help to give you clarity on your feelings. Stop beating yourself up for something that is simply a factor of an ongoing illness. It’s not shameful to admit you are mentally struggling; quite the opposite in fact.


So the next time someone from Accounts doesn’t say ‘hi’ back to you in the morning at work, maybe don’t spend all day wondering what horrific atrocity you’ve committed against them and accept that maybe they just didn’t hear you.


That is the case isn’t it Linda? You just didn’t hear me? LINDA…?!?