Month: Feb 2019

“But you don’t look sick.”

I read an article earlier today which raised the point of being asked to give up a priority seat on the train. It stirred something in me and I felt the need to share my take on this story. 

Not long after I was diagnosed, I was on the tram in Nottingham during rush hour. I was knackered and my balance isn’t the greatest – especially on the tram! I also struggle with sensory overload and I’ve found that crowds, like when you’re squashed in like sardines, really unsettling. I’ve come close to experiencing panic attacks in those environments. So on this day, I chose to sit down in the only available seat. A priority one, which we all know are for disabled people, pregnant women or children. If we are sat in one, we know we should move for someone that gets on that needs that seat more than us. 

I really needed that seat that day. But someone got on with crutches and a broken leg. So I immediately got up and let them sit down. But the question is, should I have? But then how do other people react to that if I don’t? People certainly look at you with a certain amount of judgement. 

Recently it was brought to my attention that someone had questioned the fact that I park on site at work but I can also drag myself to the gym. Which in fairness I haven’t done for a while as I’m struggling with fatigue. Again, it’s that same judgement as on the tram. At work, we’re only allowed to park on site permanently if we are working a late shift, or if we are a blue badge holder. The alternative is that we park a short walk away on the Bolton Wanderers stadium car park. It’s roughly a 7 – 10 minute walk. No, I’m not disabled enough for a blue badge and I wouldn’t want to be disabled enough for one. I wouldn’t wish that upon myself or anyone. But what I can say, is I wouldn’t in a month of Sunday’s park that far away from my destination anywhere else. It hurts me to walk continuously for anything more than 5 minutes. The pain varies. Some days it’s like my calves are on fire, on other days my right ankle is really tight and causing a lot of pain. If it’s not that, I’m just bloody shattered and it’s a walk that I just don’t need. My legs feel like they’re being dragged through treacle.

But back to the gym. It’s not like I’m running on the treadmill. In fact I barely go on the treadmill. If I am in the gym, I’m generally lifting weights, in an attempt to keep my strength up. As it tends to be static, it doesn’t cause the same pain as walking can. And if I’m having a bad leg day, I just work the top half of my body. If I’m tired, I just don’t go to the gym but might do some yoga at home. The bottom line is, if you don’t use your limbs, you might just lose them.

The point is, when you have an invisible illness you’re constantly being judged. Yet it feels as though no-one takes the time to understand. Choosing to remain positive about your condition can be a poisoned chalice too. Because if I’m smiling, I surely can’t be struggling, can I? Yes. Yes I can. 

Actually, “how can you go to the gym, but need to park on site?” is an absolutely fair question. Without being in my shoes, I wouldn’t expect you to understand. Same as the priority seating on public transport. The message to take from this blog, is if you have a judgement about someone, seek to understand. And that’s whether it’s about an invisible illness or otherwise. 

Freedom from Dieting 

I want to take a minute to talk not just about this picture, but what it represents. 

Depending on how long you’ve known me, or followed me on various social media sites, you know I’ve been a serial dieter. Slimming World, Joe Wicks, Calorie Counting, Macro Tracking. You name it, I’ve probably tried it (never did 5.2 though….more like 7.0 😂). I work hard in the gym (although that’s on the back burner at the mo) so by rights, surely I should be a lot slimmer than I am. Trouble is, after years of jumping from one diet to another and binging because I’ve deprived myself, my body doesn’t know if it’s Arthur or Martha anymore. It doesn’t know if I’m going to over feed it or starve it. 

Over the last year, I’ve ditched the diet. And it’s very freeing. I haven’t really respected my body though. I’ve just enjoyed eating guilt free! There’s been a shift in recent weeks though. Linked to Reiki perhaps? According to my Master, Nicola, it’s natural for people to become a bit more conscious and mindful after they’ve been attuned.

So basically, I’ve thrown away my diet rule book which has been scary at times. Especially when I’m well aware that I have put on weight. I was kind of alright with that for a while. I’m trying to switch to a meat free diet, which I’m succeeding in. However, due to a lack of imagination, I’m just replacing meat with more carbs. So I’m succeeding, but not in a healthy way. 

I do believe however, that I have finally reached the point of wanting to become more in control again. But I’m ready to approach it in a caring way. I have no desire to deprive myself, or trick myself into thinking what I’m eating is dead yummy and despite a lack of calories, an adequate replacement for the real craving. 

And we’re back at the peanut butter hot chocolate, pictured. I think I bought this during the Joe Wicks phase. The instructions say to mix with hot water. And it’s only 83 calories!!! Well that obviously means I should consume it with a big smile on my face exclaiming how I can’t believe how something so low calorie can taste so amazing. This though. This is shit. Even me, a seasoned faker, couldn’t do it with this.

So for the past three years it’s been condemned to the back of the cupboard. Today, I had a bit of a clear out of that “back of cupboard”. It was full of almost empty seed packets (chia and flax – also courtesy of the curly haired fitness freak), forgotten tins of tomatoes and those odd bits of pasta that aren’t enough for a full meal. I’m proud to admit however, there wasn’t a mugshot in sight (if you know, you know!)

Of course, the point of this story, the hot chocolate, was also found, lurking. The thing about it though, is it smells incredible, and I really struggled to fathom how it could taste so dire. Before I resorted to chucking it in the bin, which really should have happened ages ago, I was curious to try it again. But this time I did it with hot milk. Yep. You heard. I broke all the rules and made it with a WHOLE MUG of semi-skimmed milk. I see your 83 calories and raise you 200!

You can shove low calorie up your arse. This hot chocolate is a thing of beauty with hot milk. It totally transformed it 😍

What I’m trying to tell you here, is that I totally lost my way with food. I was programmed to forever find fat free, lower calorie or syn free option. I lost all enjoyment with food. It became something to reward me or punish me. I stopped experimenting in the kitchen and making fun creations – which I had previously loved. I followed rule books, and without a shadow of a doubt, the wrong one. I wasn’t unhappy, but I was obsessed. Now I’m starting to enjoy it again, and I’ve lost that guilty feeling. I’m naturally starting to just make better choices