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CFS/ME, Mental Health

On health, self-acceptance, and changes.

Life sure is a tangle sometimes, ain’t it folks?

So much is shifting and changing lately. I’m stumbling after myself and my own changes in direction, not quite sure where I’ll end up, or even who’s in charge. I’ve surprised myself with both my strength and my utter weakness. Old ways of coping, new ways of coping, the newly found ability to throw my hands in the air and say “I give up”. That’s hard to do, friends. Letting go is very hard to do. But lately I just haven’t been able to maintain my grasp all of the time.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve been offered a new job which will, hopefully, provide a bit more stability and peace of mind. I haven’t really spoken much in the blogosphere about the difficulties I’ve been having, but suffice to say that this will be a very welcome change.

I’m also moving house in just over one week to be with my wonderful beirdo who, really, puts up with an awful lot from a very fragile girlfriend. Having someone who allows (and encourages) me to be myself 100% is entirely new to me. It’s taking a lot of effort to overcome the Pavlovian habit of hiding away, but I’m content with that being a journey. That’s ok. I’ve never felt very safe in someone else’s care, but I can see myself getting used to it. (Note: if this strikes a chord, check out this episode of the amazing Mental Illness Happy Hour….. “I don’t trust anyone to take care of me“.)

My living room and TWO packed boxes (with many to go).

Changes, changes, changes.

My Ma is doing much better than she was, too. She is home now and has around 5 billion outpatient appointments to attend, and what we affectionately call her Old Lady Alarm for any emergencies. It gives us peace of mind to know that if anything should happen, a group of swarthy bearded first-aiders from an office down the road will gallop to her rescue.

My own health is less than optimal at the moment. I’m struggling more than ever with fatigue and exhaustion, and truthfully, my mental health has been a total shit-show. While my two (very patient) GPs still think that all my physical symptoms are rooted in mental ill health, I remain convinced that something is also physically wrong somewhere. My Mum very kindly gave me some money to have a private health screening recently, and so I trotted off to a nearby city to have a hefty amount of blood sucked from both arms. I received the results late last week, and there were some abnormalities (which, really, I don’t entirely understand, but I will take to my GP who no doubt will despair at my insistence on trying to find a biomedical cause for what ails me).

The tests showed a thyroid abnormality; blood biochemistry that suggested inflammation/an autoimmune issue; and far too much ‘bad’ cholesterol. My B12 is at the lower end of normal, but certainly isn’t in a range that should be resulting in any symptoms of deficiency. Whilst vegans don’t actually eat any cholesterol, it’s still possible to hoover up too many ‘bad’ fats and skew this. Some bodies also just produce too much. Diabetes and heart disease are present in my genes, and my mortality is suddenly becoming rather more clear to me. Dieting and restrictive eating is very negative and toxic to me. ‘Clean’ eating throws up the same associations. But I find myself in urgent need of a way to address symptoms, if not the cause. A condition like Hashimoto’s, for example, would account for my all symptoms and my blood test abnormalities, but I need further tests, and in the meantime I’m trying my hardest to eat the foods that are kindest to my body right now.

Bottles of dairy free Benecol.

This is the only vegan friendly cholesterol lowering product out there at the moment. Lucky for me it’s pretty tasty. So this is part of a new routine I’m figuring out. I’m trying to balance whole unprocessed foods that are easy on the sugar and fat, all while battling fatigue that frequently stops me from being able to cook ~proper dinners. There are also the vitamins, so many vitamins….

Multivitamins and vitamin B12.

I’ve got my new multi-vitamins (with Q10 and magnesium), my sublingual B12, the probiotics (not pictured), as well as my everyday Citalopram and Mirtazapine. Pills and pills and pills.

So I treated myself to a pressure cooker recently, and I’m planning to really get on top of batch cooking when my energy is higher and the ol’ spoons are in more plentiful supply. I’m excited about throwing together wholesome dinners in a short time with the pressure cooker, and there’ll be no excuse for me not to eat more beans, lentils, pulses, brown rice, etc.

It’s hard to navigate this stuff when you spent decades at the mercy of diet culture. When you wake up and start to break free of all that, it’s liberating to the soul. To finally start to love yourself a little, or at all, or just to not hate existing within your own skin. To finally believe that someone else could love you as you are is powerful. It’s a difficult and tremendously bumpy ride that, honestly, I don’t think we ever stop taking. But when your body starts to fail, it becomes confusing and complicated. The journey slows. I start to remember all the toxic thoughts that were with me for so many years. My body is wrong: the wrong shape, the wrong size, the wrong skin. Life is on hold. Life will begin again once I lose weight. I have no right to enjoy food, or enjoy my body as it is now. I owe it to myself and to other people, to friends and loved ones and even strangers, to change. And now there’s good reason, because my body is not healthy anymore. I know that I need to change the way I think about the food I’m eating, and ask whether it’s jeopardising my health or not. And I hate that. I have no answers right now. It’s just so confusing to me at this point on the body-positive journey. I hate health-concern trolling. I hate food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I hate attaching worth to one body type over another. I hate that my body is failing just when I’m finally starting to accept it for the first time in over 30 years.

With life tossing me hither and thither, my nerves have been somewhat fragile, to say the least. I live for the little things at the moment. Delicious vegan fresh pasta dinners with my number one chap, for instance <3 (a rare indulgent treat at the moment).

A vegan ravioli dish with vegan parmesan.

A vegan coconut strawberry pie.

I have also enjoyed adding to the tattoo collection thanks to the ever-wonderful Hannah at Rain City. I am so lucky that Hannah always draws up perfect designs for me and everything is totally vegan too. Happy times, and my arm is getting there.

My feet, as I'm sitting in the tattooist's waiting area.

Tea towels with traditional naked lady tattoo designs on.

I guess I am on the cusp of better times, and it’s hard when that knowledge co-exists with reality of barely holding on. Just recently my GP referred me to my local mental health trust, and with the promise of a longer term provision of counselling I’m feeling like that’s a little bit of progress, and I might get round to addressing some stuff that I’ve never tackled too well before.

I’m looking forward very much to those carefree bloggin’ days. Homemade dinners and getting excited about new makeup and all the stuff that can make the world a little brighter. Soon, soon, soon.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Jennifer

    I saw your post on the VWPA society, so I just wanted to pop in a say I am glad you wrote a blog post about this. I think this sort of topic isn’t talked about often in the body love/acceptance movement. It is hard to deal with and I wish you the best of luck finding a balance.

    July 10, 2017 at 14:03
  • Reply Rebekah Jaunty

    You’ve been going through so much lately. I hope the new job and new home help you feel good as you sort out all the medical and mental tangles. Life is so complicated sometimes.

    July 11, 2017 at 11:06
  • Reply Kelly

    Sending you peaceful thoughts. While my own mental health issues have (thankfully) quieted themselves in the past few years, I always found that change (moving, changing jobs) exacerbated anything lurking underneath. Be kind to yourself and do what you need to do.

    July 11, 2017 at 16:39
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