Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Getting My Mojo Back

Good Day Everyone,

I hope you've all had a great start to 2016. I am pleased to say that I am finally starting to feel like myself again. In fact, I feel like I'm getting my mojo back :o).

The last couple of months of 2015 were very difficult. My arthritis flared up severely and there were days where I felt like I couldn't carry on living with the excruciating pain I was experiencing. In addition, both my scalp and body psoriasis were also flaring and I was suffering from more migraines than usual, all whilst living in what felt like a building site! The despair that I felt at the end of 2015 was reminiscent of the despair I felt back at the end of 2011, when I made the difficult decision to give up my career so that I could work on my health full time. I felt like I was living under a dark grey cloud surrounded by a thick fog - I couldn't see where I was going, there was no shining light in the distance, and I could feel myself heading into a downward spiral of depression. If you've read my previous blog post (read here), you'll know that I slowly but surely started to take positive steps to move forward during the last few days of 2015.
Juicing again :o)
Over the past few weeks I have continued to make good progress with small positive changes to my daily life. I am now in a place where I'm starting to feel happy about my life again. My health is starting to improve and whilst I am still struggling with my arthritic shoulder, I have seen small improvements. I feel like I now have a better understanding of what I need to do to help my shoulder get better and accepting that it is going to be a long slow battle is easing my frustration.

Having a fully functioning kitchen has been a huge contributor to me getting my mojo back. I always feel better when I have greater control over what I eat, as I know from experience that what I eat greatly affects my arthritis. Living in a caravan for six months with a restrictive kitchen meant that we were eating foods that didn't take long to cook as the cooker wasn't particularly powerful, and foods that were convenient to store as we had a very small refrigerator. Basically, we lived of a lot of processed carbs like pasta and bread. We were eating some fruit and vegetables, but it wasn't as much as we would typically eat, and there were a few too many treats. My hubby is a sugar junkie and would often snack on chocolates and biscuits, whilst I relapsed on my crisp addiction (although to be fair, I think I was comfort eating as I was unhappy with my whole living in a caravan situation). Whilst hubby would burn of the calories from his vice due to all the physical work he was doing, I on the other hand, developed a rather rounded midsection due to my sedentary lifestyle ;o). However, all that is now changing. We have a fully equipped kitchen and a dining table with chairs, which means that we actually have something to sit on, other than our bed, and that has made the world of difference.

 Below are some of the steps that I have taken over the past few weeks that have resulted in me getting my mojo back;
  • Exercising daily: I have made a conscious effort to get back into the routine of exercising daily. Exercising really helps with my arthritic pain and joint stiffness which in turn helps my mobility. Some days I will go for a brisk 40min sea front walk, other days I'll hula hoop or do yoga based stretching exercises at home if I'm too tired for a walk or if it's raining (which it has been a lot!).
  • Baths: One of the side effects of suffering from chronic pain is insomnia so I am trying really hard to take regular bath soaks in the evenings to help me sleep better and help with my joint pain.
  • Bedtime: To help with my insomnia, I am trying to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, even on weekends, so that I can condition my body and mind into a sleep routine.
  • Food: Now that we have a functioning kitchen, I am cooking from scratch and we are eating healthy, nutritious food again which makes me incredibly happy, oh and there are no crisps in the house! Breakfast toast is now replaced with smoothie bowls and we juice most days so I get a good chunk of anti-inflammatory ginger into my overly inflamed body.
  • Cooking in bulk: Because I never know how bad my body is going to be from one day to the next, I have started to cook in bulk. I will often cook enough food to last us for two days and if it's freezable I will make enough so that a couple of batches can go in the freezer. This way there is healthy home cooked food in the fridge / freezer so that we don't resort to ready meals / takeaways. Plus, it means I don't have to cook every single day, meaning I can use that energy to write blog posts like this one :o).
  • Medication application: To deal with my flaring scalp psoriasis I have resorted back to a routine of applying my scalp medication daily (read more here). This means having to wash my hair every single day which is an incredibly exhausting task when you suffer from chronic fatigue and exhaustion, but I am seeing such great improvements that it's keeping me motivated to continue. Hopefully, soon my hair will no longer look like someone has emptied a snow globe on it and I can temper the medication application down to just a couple of times a week. I am also doing the same with my body psoriasis.
  • Drinking more: To help with my migraines I am making a conscious effort to drink more water. Aside from food / scent triggers, I know that being dehydrated can cause me to experience more migraines and lets just say that having to use a caravan toilet for six months wasn't the greatest incentive to drink more!
  • Silence: This is slightly more on the meditative side but I am consciously taking time out of my day to simply be in silence. I sit without the radio or laptop on (we have no television and you can find out why here) and just listen. It is incredibly calming. Being surrounded by trees and public gardens mean we get a lot of birds around our house, especially at the back and sometimes I just stand and listen to / watch them. We also have squirrels at the back of our house and they are always fun to watch.
  • Acceptance: I am actively accepting the things that I cannot change and learning to let go of the negative emotions they cause me to feel. One half of our house still looks like a building site and walking through it used to really upset me. The other half, whilst it's progressed significantly, it still isn't finished and not having a single room that is finished really grated on me, but no more. I have accepted that this house renovation is taking a lot longer than we ever anticipated and being upset about it doesn't actually change the situation. There's no point in wasting valuable energy in being upset. I just have to ride it out whilst appreciating all the things that are working, like the kitchen and having a regular toilet and bath. I am also accepting that getting my health back on track is going to be a long journey, but at least I am moving in the right direction now. 
Over the years that I've lived with Arthur (aka arthritis), I've been forced to learn (and accept) that things are just going to go at a much, much slower pace for me, compared to others. Having a mind that is fully functional, but a body that is not, causes a great deal of internal conflict and frustration. I have so many ideas of blog posts that I want to write, content that I'd like to create for my YouTube channel and photographs that I want to take, but alas I barely have enough energy to shower and cook most days. My life now is so different to before Arthur invaded my body. I often reminisce of when I used to have a career that led me to travel the world (well Europe and the US), work crazy hours and always be on the go socially. My world has shrunk so much, as has my identity, but nonetheless, I have learnt to treasure the days when I can cook and shower for I have experienced days when I haven't even been able to do that. Having an attitude of gratitude (and acceptance) is definitely key in learning to be happy whilst being chronically ill.

Love Sheen xxx
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