Sailing Away to Acceptance…

How does the old saying adage go?  What a difference a year makes. And, my recent experiences can really only substantiate this.

Regular readers to the blog will remember that last year, I experienced my very first cruise and that unfortunately it did not go that me and my parents had hoped.  The symptoms associated with my neurological condition were constantly present and remarkably severe that it affected my enjoyment of the holiday and also left me unable to disembark the ship and see the beautiful places that I was so looking forward to visiting.

Fast forward a year (okay more like a year and a half) and I am back from yet another cruise! Why go on a cruise when the first cruise did not go well, I hear you ask. ¬†Well, the large part of the reason why I decided to go another cruise, is that I refuse to let the neurological condition that I live with have any more control over my life than it already has. ¬†I came across, a perfect quote that really sums this up brilliantly; this quote says “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ¬†And it is true, if we only stayed within the confines of our comfort zones then we would never what we can be capable of, or what we can achieve when given the chance.


The symptoms that are as a result of the brain stem lesion that I was diagnosed with already makes life difficult, for example, visiting certain types of places such as those with high ceilings and fluorescent lighting is very difficult for me as they increase the severity of symptoms such as dizziness and vertigo.  As a result, I do not wish for my condition to stop me from doing anything else that I want to do, including taking trips abroad.  Flying and therefore requiring to spend hours waiting in an airport would not be compatible with my symptoms so therefore a cruise offers an alternative for me to still be able to travel.  Furthermore, the rational side of me, also realises that although I found the first cruise particularly difficult it does not necessarily mean that I would have the same experience on future cruises.


Back last year, just a few months after arriving back from the Mediterranean, my parents and I booked a second cruise with Royal Caribbean on their brand new ship Anthem of the Seas travelling this time around the Canary Islands (as well as stops in Spain and Portugal).  And I am so glad that I did!

This cruise went much better than the last one, and even managed to get off the ship twice, managing to spend a few hours perusing the streets of Tenerife and Madeira. The process of disembarking the ship and then having to find our way to wherever we wanted to visit was not easy especially giving the severity of the symptoms but I still managed to push through and achieve something I did not think I could do.  To some, getting off at only two stops may not seem like much, but fellow spoonies would appreciate the enormity of this feat, especially when battling constant and unrelenting symptoms.

Anthem of the Seas is an amazing and beautiful ship, and Royal Caribbean has seriously gone hi-tech.  Before embarking on the cruise we bought an internet package, and was impressed with the speed of the bandwidth, enabling me to stream movies and television programmes on my iPad occupying my time when fatigue set in (which was a lot!.

The WOW factor did not stop there, however; all over the ship there was amazing artwork to marvel at, often feeling like Alice landing in Wonderland.  What I love about Royal Caribbean, is the thought that has gone into the design of their ships; all public areas are fully accessible and have automatic doors making it easy for those in wheelchairs to be able to navigate their way around the ship unaided.

The food was also amazing, and particularly loved having¬†a wide variety of choice of where to have dinner. ¬†We sampled the delights of the majority of the complimentary restaurants onboard, but spent most nights dining in the American Icon Grill. ¬†One night however, we chose to spend extra and dined at Jamie’s Italian where the food was amazing and the staff attentive and friendly. ¬†The highlight of the cruise for me, being a fan of Queen was seeing We Will Rock You, which absolutely fantastic and rivalled any West End show. ¬†My Mum and I also paid extra to use the facilities in the spa, which included an aromatherapy steam room and sauna, as well as the use of hot beds which not only did I find incredibly relaxing but also really helped ease the often excruciating pain in my legs.

Beautiful sunset
Beautiful sunset

Strange though isn’t it? ¬†Last year, I was unable to get off the ship and generally found the whole cruise experience extremely difficult. ¬†A year on however, and despite my symptoms not improving in that time I found this holiday much easier,¬†even¬†managing to push the¬†boundaries of my own ¬†comfort zone.

Why is this? Perhaps the reason is due to the fact that during the past since the first cruise I have managed to push myself further, expanding the perimeter of the small world that my neurological condition has forced me into.  Examples include conquering going to the cinema, a pastime that I used to love but is  now extremely difficult for me as a result of my severe and unrelenting symptoms and as a result started to avoid.  By pushing myself to go to places and placing myself into situations that increase the severity of my symptoms, and achieving staying in them, reinforces the belief that I am stronger than my condition and am able to get through difficult situations.

Or perhaps I have reached a new, deeper stage of acceptance.  Accepted the reality of the neurological condition that I have been diagnosed with Рthat is not to say that I have given up and surrendered to the condition but rather let myself go of the suffering that came from continuously fighting against the symptoms and the hold that they had over my life.  I have accepted that I will always have difficulty with certain situations and the majority of things will not be easy for me, but what I can control is my reaction to them and by doing so I can learn to be in control of my symptoms instead of them controlling me.

Believe. Love, Live, Dream, Inspire - some positive words advice from Royal Caribbean
Believe. Love, Live, Dream, Inspire – some positive words advice from Royal Caribbean

In the end I had to accept the reality of the symptoms; accept the long-term presence of them in my life.  And by doing so, I no longer fought the presence of the symptoms but acknowledged their present existence in that moment.  I have freed myself from the prison that fighting the symptoms, and avoiding certain places and situations has placed me in.

By accepting the reality of life with a long-term condition surprisingly made it easier to cope with the symptoms and all of the ups and downs as a result of life with chronic illness.  I was able to find little coping strategies that helped minimised the effect of the symptoms and help me stay in control of the symptoms rather than the symptoms controlling my life.  Of course, there are days when it feels that the symptoms still has control over my life but by accepting the reality of life with chronic illness, getting through the bad days is actually easier than before.

Above all, going on holiday on the cruise of a lifetime has made me realise that being diagnosed with a chronic illness, or disability does not spell the end of our lives or even our dreams.   Yes, perhaps the route to which we can reach our goals and dreams may have to change but we can still reach that final destination.  Chronic illness should not mean the end our dreams, and we can still follow them if we took a leap of faith.

Print that I bought whilst in Tenerife - I reminder to not let my condition stop me from living life and following my dreams
Print that I bought whilst in Tenerife – I reminder to not let my condition stop me from living life and following my dreams

This is the realisation that I came to whilst on holiday – if I took the easy option and decided not to go on the cruise then I would never realise the strength and control that I can have over my neurological condition. ¬†And if it wasn’t for that, then I would never have the opportunity to visit a country that I have wanted to for so long – Norway!

Yes, we have booked yet another cruise for next year to the beautiful and amazing country that is Norway.  And this trip I can look forward to with excitement and positivity instead of anxiety and trepidation.

So all of you reading this – don’t give up on your dreams, believe me you can still achieve them despite the challenges in your way.

Experiencing Instead of Wishing of Better Days…

Around two weeks, I made pre-arranged plans with my personal assistant to go to the cinema.

On the morning of the day of the arranged trip, I found that the symptoms that plague my everyday life, were dialled up to the maximum volume on my personal symptom-o-metre.  On these days, I would usually cancel such plans and make the decision to go somewhere  safe and familiar Рsurroundings where I feel comfortable no matter how bad I am feeling, and which are just as comforting as my own home.

Symptom-o-meter!! From mild angelic experience to severe, devil-like experience of them!
Symptom-o-meter!! From mild angelic experience to severe, devil-like experience of them!

On this day however, I made the decision to make the journey to the retail park, which our regular cinema is attached, and see how the day was going to pan out. ¬†I made the decision, not to make plans, but instead, if I made it to the cinema, than great, however even if I wasn’t well enough to attend, I still had a lovely day away from home, browsing stores and boutiques and indulging myself with a special lunch.

The cinema, as expected did not happen thanks to the unrelenting symptoms that was severely afflicting me, particularly the trembling in my legs that did not allow me to walk around the entire retail complex.

At first, I was thoroughly disappointed at myself and the condition with which I live for wrecking my plans in the overly critical way that I often am in regards to myself.  Although, at the time I felt that I lost the battle to my neurological condition, I have come to realise however that this is not the case.  I may not have made it to the cinema, but I did still manage to push through the severe and unrelenting symptoms that I was experiencing and go to a place that can often make me feel uncomfortable due to the size of the place which can often worsen the dizziness that is part of my chronic illness package.

Perhaps by winning certain battles in our lives with chronic illness we can find ways around certain problems to win the battle another time
Perhaps by winning certain battles in our lives with chronic illness we can find ways around certain problems to win the battle another time

Chronic illness often win many battles in our lives; however it does not win all of the battles.  There are many battles that we win; many times we prize the triumph away from the hands of chronic illness and are victorious over defeat.

Think about the last very bad day you had due to chronic illness…

  • Did you still manage to get out of bed?
  • ¬†Go for a shower?
  • Do small chores around the house?

If yes, then congratulations, you triumphed over your illness. ¬†It’s a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. ¬†We need to celebrate and appreciate these small accomplishments as just that – victories over our illnesses that already take so much from our lives, and accomplishing such feats can often feel that we are taking back some control that chronic illness can steal away.

That is the partly the reason for choosing to go out, when it would have been easier to stay in the confines of the four walls where I feel safe when the symptoms are its worse.  I did not want my neurological condition to control my life and dictate how I spend my time.  I want to enjoy life, and not feel that I merely surviving through life as a result of living with a neurological condition. I want to enjoy life and be happy instead of being stuck inside the same four walls with only my symptoms for company and hoping for better days ahead.

Furthermore, the triumphant day out also taught me that I am a lot stronger than I think I am; and that the symptoms does not have to have as much control as I often choose to give them. ¬†That I am able to take risks, and go to places that I did not think I could, as Ophelia says Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

we know what we are, but know not what we may be

We know what our lives are with chronic illness and as an extension who we are because of it.  Perhaps we need to step out of the box that chronic illness imprisons us into to find out what our lives can be like, if and when we choose to take back control that illness removes from our lives.  Who we can be when we refuse to let illness have the main spotlight in our lives.

If we did, who knows where we may end up?



The Invisible Fight of Illness…

Imagine walking down a busy street.  Look at the faces of the people passing by.  Every one of those people will currently, or at some point in their past, face a battle.  Some of these battles may be visible, detectable to others, eliciting empathy and compassion.  Other battles, however are invisible; concealed from everyone else, like a deep hidden secret.  A battle that is only known by the person carrying the burden of the fight.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle...
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle…

I am one of these people whom are battling an unseen, invisible fight.  If you were to sit next to me on a bus, or train for example, you would never know that I was living with a neurological condition (although you might if I were staggering with my crutch, or on the days where my weak legs confine me to the use of my wheelchair but even then I am met with confused stares silently asking why I am in need of such aids).

The personal fight I face as a result of my neurological condition although may not be visible to others, for me however is very real.  For me it is not invisible; it is my life.  Every step is a struggle, with legs trembling so much that it feels as if they will be buckle, although no one can see.  For others, the world is still, unmoving.  For me, however, the world seems off-balance, as if everything is slightly tilted, and at other times it seems as if there is constant motion.  Everyday I fight against fatigue to do everything that everyone often takes for granted such as being able to go shopping, take a shower or cook a meal for the family.

“Living with an illness is often a balancing act between surrendering to our symptoms and fighting against them.”

Everyday is a battleground between myself and my body, however, like with any battles in history, there are times I am forced to surrender – such as those days when my legs are so weak, or the dizziness is so severe that I am unable to get out of bed, let alone stand or walk. ¬†Those days I am forced to surrender to my condition and stay confined to my bed. ¬†That’s the thing about living with a chronic illness, it is often a balancing act between surrendering to our symptoms and fighting against them.

It is not just the symptoms that we have to fight.  We also have to fight against the judgements of other people regarding our long-term health conditions.  At the start of our chronic illness journey, we are often met with understanding and compassion, friends and family make allowances for our limitations.  As time passes however, the understanding and compassion dissipates and is replaced with frustration.  Frustration at us still not being well enough to go out and take part in activities we used to before illness took over our lives.  Frustration at the chores still left untouched as illness still will not allow us to attend to them.  My parents, although often extremely supportive and understanding of my condition will sometimes feel embittered at finding certain chores left untouched after coming home from work, not realising that the day has been waived for a day on the sofa as a result of debilitating and unrelenting symptoms.  And they are unaware of this as to look at me, you only see a healthy woman.

It may seem that the neurological condition takes a large amount of space in my life, it however does not own nor control me.  Yes, it may borrow my life at times, restraining me to the four walls of this house I live in, but the condition does nor ever will take my entire life.  There are certain things that I am unable to do because of this condition; certain baggage that it has created, but there are still plenty of other things that I can and have done that I can still do.

A profound quote from Tangled!

This invisible condition may fight for control for every facet in my personal life.  Now however I have chosen to fight back, and although I have not won control for every area of my life I have chosen to control aspects of my life that I do have control over.  I have chosen to live side by side with my condition instead of merely enduring life with it.

I choose to live rather than simply survive.

Song that is on my self-care playlist
Song that is on my self-care playlist

The (Positive) Memory Book

During my absence of blogging, I have once again been indulging in my love of books and burying myself in the pages of the books that have been on my to-read list for some time.  Prior to this, reading had been somewhat problematic due to the severe dizziness and visual disturbances, that I have been experiencing, and for a while it seemed that my love of reading was another thing that my illness had taken away from me.

However, although the dizziness is still bad and still experiencing visual disturbances, they have eased enough for me to start reading again. ¬†One book that I have recently read was the excellent and highly emotional read, ‘The Memory Book’ by Rowan Coleman.

The gorgeous cover of a wonderful and moving book
The gorgeous cover of a wonderful and moving book

The book tells the story of Claire, a beautiful, intelligent¬†and vibrant forty-something. ¬†Mother to two wonderful children, Caitlin aged 20 and Esther aged 3, and married to Greg, the¬†man of her dreams. ¬†Claire, however is also living early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, and after¬†watching her own father overcome to the disease, Claire is all too aware that life for her and her family will never be the same.

Greg, her husband then buys her a beautiful notebook, which becomes ‘The Memory Book’ in which Claire, and other members of her immediate family to record their own personal memories of the life that they had together, as well as mementos that have had significant meaning in their lives. ¬†The book is not only for Claire to use as a memory aid, but also for the entire family to cherish and remember the life that they all shared together.

The story made me think of my own life with chronic illness.  Living with a variety of symptoms  such as pain, fatigue, dizziness as well as the problems with my legs, all associated with the neurological condition I live with, I have no need for a book to help me remember my life with my condition.  However, often when we are struggling because of not only the physical effects of illness on our bodies but also the psychological effects on our minds, we are often however in need of positive reminders of life outside our bodies and outside the walls that chronic illness creates.

So, how about creating our own gorgeous notebooks, but instead of filling them with memories of our lives. we create pages of everything that help us to remain positive, mementos of happy times and everything else that makes us happy and fills our lives with joy!

Example of a beautiful memory book on Pinterest
Example of a beautiful memory book on Pinterest

Such items could include favourite uplifting and positive quotes and affirmations that bring comfort during difficult periods of your life.  Postcards, photographs and other mementos from holidays of a lifetime.  Letters and cards from friends and family including words of love and encouragement. Lyrics from your favourite song. Objects and pictures which evoke positivity and happiness or are reminders of achievements that have been gained despite illness; reminders that we are more than our illness.  Anything and everything that will help keep your spirits up during difficult periods in your life, such as during bad flares or relapses due to chronic illness.

Much research has shown the positive effects that writing and keeping a gratitude journal can have on our health, and in my opinion a memory book like the one I have described is a natural extension of that.  A  personal beautiful, hand-crafted positive memory book to look through when life with chronic illness feels like too much to handle, I think will help us bounce back from negative emotions and strengthen our happy memories.

The finished positivity book is not the only benefit, but the ability to become creative to produce something meaningful can also be therapeutic when living with the effects of chronic illness as it allows an outlet for all of our thoughts and feelings regarding life with chronic illness and the new limitations that it has placed in our lives.

I have been wanting to create my very own scrapbook for a while, to fill with all the beautiful quotes and affirmations that I have found during my days out with my carer, as well as the ones sent to me by other spoonies and after reading ‘The Memory Book’ it has inspired me to start my very own (positive) memory book!

Now I just need to buy all the materials I may need…


If you were to create your very own positive memory book, what items and mementos would you include? ¬†Have any ideas I could use for my own book, then shoot me a message as unfortunately I am not very artistic or creative so would like to make it as easy as possible! ¬†And for all you book-worms out there, then I would really recommend ‘The Memory Book’ by Rowan Coleman, it’s a wonderful read…

The Longest Ride…of life with Chronic Illness

Living with chronic dizziness is hell.  The unpleasant sensation of having your whole world constantly moving even when still takes everything away from you.  Your friends, social life, independence, career plans to name but a few are lost when chronic illness strikes.  Long-term illness pecks away at your identity; taking pieces of things that make you you: the friends you meet, the places you like to socialise and your hobbies and interests.

For me, living with this neurological condition has taken a lot, and one example of something that it has taken for me is being able to go to the cinema and watch a film.  High ceilings, flashing strobe lights, fluorescent lights are just a few delights that can worsen the severity of the dizziness that I endure constantly.  Furthermore, they can also be triggers for other symptoms associated with the brain stem lesion such as vertigo and visual disturbances.  As someone who loves films this is an incredible loss; I mean sure, I can still watch them at home but there is nothing  like going to the cinema and watching films on the big screen, is there?

A couple of weeks ago, however saw the release of the new Nicholas Sparks film ‘The Longest Ride‘ and as a fan of his books and the adaptations that have been inspired by his works, I just had to try and push myself to go and see the movie.

My ticket for a showing of 'The Longest Ride'
My ticket for a showing of ‘The Longest Ride’

As a result, my carer and I attempted for the first time in several years to visit the cinema.  And I am happy to say that I managed it; successfully staying in the theatre to watch the entire film.  I would love to say it was easy, but like everything with living with a chronic condition  it was not.  The dizziness at times was so severe and my vision kept becoming blurry.  All my instincts was telling me to leave and go somewhere my symptoms although would still exist, would be less severe.  But the love of the film, and the beautiful story that unfolded during the two hours (and was also helped by the gorgeous Scott Eastwood).  The film was a beautiful love story about love itself but also the sacrifices that are made for it.


This achievement may seem like a very small feat given the fact that going to the cinema is an activity that many people partake in everyday.  Healthy people often take being able to go to places such as the cinema for granted as for me living with a neurological condition, it was a big a challenge as someone attempting to scale an enormous mountain.  So, for me personally this was not a small feat, it was a huge win for me in the conflict that chronic illness has created inside my body.  During the course of watching the film it was not only dizziness, vertigo and the visual disturbances I had to contend with but also severe neuropathic pain in my legs (not helped by the lack of leg room) and the trembling in the legs made it difficult even being able to physically walk to the cinema itself.

I was thinking of the film long after it ended, and kept thinking of its title ‘The Longest Ride’. ¬†For me the title was defined by the enduring love between the two characters, Ruth and Ira. ¬†But it also got me thinking of its meaning in my life. ¬†Living with chronic illness in itself is a long ride. ¬†The term itself is clear¬†of this as the definition of the word can be used to refer to an illness which persists for a long-time or is constantly recurring.

From the onset of symptoms, living with a chronic illness is a long ride, consisting of endless doctor’s and hospital appointments, persistent and recurring symptoms (and often the onset of new ones) as well as the ceaseless days of feeling frail and sick. ¬† Imagine an extremely long and persistent road, well, living with a long-term condition is often like making the long ride down this road, and which often feels like there is no end. ¬†The journey towards diagnosis is even a long ride itself, with repetitive appointments with consultants leading to disappoint as medical tests fail to answer the one question we want answered – what is wrong with me?

Living with chronic illness can often feel like travelling on a long road with no end in sight...
Living with chronic illness can often feel like travelling on a long road with no end in sight…

And even after the diagnosis has been confirmed, chronic illness allows the long ride towards not only acceptance of the diagnosis but also to learn how to live with and manage the symptoms of said chronic illness.

Thinking back to the film, and the gargantuan achievement of going to the cinema despite experiencing such unpleasant symptoms that for one makes it extremely difficult to sit and watch a film but also has previously stopped me from enjoying such perks as trips to the cinema, has made me realise that we should not allow our conditions to take full control over our lives.  Yes, chronic illness is bound to take pieces of our old lives and identity and change them, however we should not allow our illness to stop us from doing things that we love.  Yes, the cinema trip was demanding on me physically, affecting me even days afterwards, experiencing a flare in severe symptoms, but it was still worth the trip.  Not only did I manage to watch a film that I desperately wanted to see, but I also defeated my condition reminding me that I am stronger my condition.

Now, I just need a little reminder of the film and the cinema trip to pin to my positivity board to serve as a reminder of the defeat over the dizziness and my neurological condition/ ¬†I was thinking of a postcard of the film poster or something so if anyone has any ideas or anything please get in touch! ¬†And if any of you, love romantic films then I would thoroughly recommend ‘The Longest Ride’.

Riding the waves of chronic illness…

Well this is my first post for well over a month.  I apologise for my long absence and lack of writing, but unfortunately once again I have been battling rough seas as a result of the symptoms associated with my neurological condition.

Take my legs for example, the trembling in my legs at times have felt so violent that everyday activities such as standing and walking has been particularly difficult.  Crippling fatigue has left me unable to function, and constantly finding myself falling asleep throughout the days but still finding myself with no energy no matter how much sleep that I had gotten!

Whilst experiencing these bad days however made me realise the importance of pacing. ¬†Those of us living with chronic illness often report experiencing an increase in the severity of symptoms such as pain, fatigue, dizziness and cognitive difficulties after physical activity, and in particular when these activities have resulted in over exertion. ¬†Doctors have named this phenomenon ‘post-exertional malaise’ and although is often reported in relation to myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME, or CFS) many spoonies living with a variety of different chronic conditions also report experiencing post-exertional malaise.

Preventing post-exertional malaise therefore largely depends on limiting activity to a level that will not exacerbate symptoms.  Pacing oneself is not always easy our limits do not have clear, unchanging boundaries, in other words we may find we are able to tolerate certain activities on some days but not on others.  Despite this however pacing is often regarded as the most appropriate self-management strategy that help us remain as active as possible whilst avoiding overexertion.  On bad days, therefore we need to limit our energy expenditure to the energy we have available.

Sounds easy right?  But in reality it is far from easy, as is often difficult to know the amount of energy we actually have to spare, and especially difficult when living with a condition in which the severity of symptoms fluctuate, like mine.  Despite this however, the importance of pacing and not overexerting oneself to avoid a relapse of symptoms is a lesson that I have been learning the hard way.

Although pacing is important when living with chronic illness, sometimes it is just nice to get out and do something that would be completely normal if it weren't for our chronic conditions
Although pacing is important when living with chronic illness, sometimes it is just nice to get out and do something that would be completely normal if it weren’t for our chronic conditions

Take for instance, a trip to a retail park that I took with my carer.  A retail park with a plethora of shops to peruse at length.  This particular retail park is quite large and due to the severity of the dizziness of late, it was a difficult trip to undertake but I was determined to push through the uncomfortable feelings and enjoy a day away from the prison that my house had become due to my condition.  Regular readers of my blog will know that when the dizziness is particularly bad as it has been of late, being in my wheelchair is extremely difficult for me and can often make it worse.  As a result, I abandoned the wheelchair and used my two very wobbly legs to make my way around the shops.  The trip was actually a huge success, as after a difficult start due to unrelenting symptoms but despite this and due to my  sheer stubbornness and determination I managed to walk around the entire complex.

Retail Park just like the one I managed to visit - take that brain stem lesion!
Retail Park just like the one I managed to visit – take that brain stem lesion!

For me it was a huge achievement, and although I was proud and enjoyed the day immensely, the days that followed were extremely difficult due to the severe symptoms that arrived days after the shopping trip. ¬†Intense pain, severe trembling in the legs, dizziness and unrelenting fatigue arrived in full force just hours after arriving back at home. ¬†And why? ¬†I had exceeded my energy limit and overexerted my body’s limit. ¬†I had failed to listen to my body and did not use the wheelchair when I probably should have. ¬†And this is not the only example of times when I have failed to listen to my body which resulted in the increase of my symptoms.

Living with chronic illness is often like surfing.  When living with chronic illness, we often find that  severe and unrelenting symptoms including pain, dizziness and fatigue can knock us from being able to successfully live life, much in the same way large and violent waves swipe surfers from their surfboards into the deep waters below.  To live a successful life despite chronic illness therefore we must learn to ride the waves of life, learning to use self-management strategies to balance our lives against our conditions, and not let ourselves be overwhelmed by the waves that are our symptoms.

A new bracelet to remind myself to ride the waves of chronic illness and to not let it stop me from living my life
A new bracelet to remind myself to ride the waves of chronic illness and to not let it stop me from living my life

So let us all learn to ride the waves of chronic illness and live our lives despite the barriers that it can create.  To not be overwhelmed by our difficult circumstances and create a life that although may be different from the one we envisioned, be meaningful and joyful.  To not be defined by our condition but rather be defined by the successes that we achieve despite it.

HAWMC: I made it!

Friday 1st May: You did it!

You’ve crossed the #HAWMC finish line. Recap the past month for us. ¬†What did you enjoy, what didn’t you enjoy? ¬†Favourite prompt?

Well, I have come to the end of the road of this year’s Health Activist Writing Month Challenge.

As in previous years, it has been a challenge.  After receiving the prompts, there was a moment of mild panic, wondering how on earth I was going to write meaningful and relatable blog posts that people will want to read, be able to relate to, as well as writing something original especially as some posts were from previous years.  Have I done this?  I am not sure, only the readers can answer that question!

I needn’t have worried however, once I got started, the words just came out on paper, like it was an involuntary response. ¬†Some days I could not even stop writing and desperately tried to shorten my posts! ¬†I rediscovered a passion for writing, which illness had taken away recently due to the worsening of some of the symptoms I experience daily.

Writing during this challenge however has provided respite from the debilitating symptoms; an outlet for everything that I have experienced and feeling as a person living with chronic illness.  I hope that through writing, I can be an advocate for those also living with neurological conditions and highlight the impact that these can have on those living with them.

Some of the¬†prompts were more challenging than others, and often struggled with the appropriate way to tackle the question. ¬†I felt a deep sense of accomplishment and pride when completing those challenging prompts, and was just one of the many achievements that happened during this year’s HAWMC.

Other milestones included publishing my 300th post, and an increase of traffic and likes on my blog, which is a real validation of the work that I have done.  But again, one of my favourite aspect of this annual writing challenge is reading the entries from the other participants in the writing challenge.  To learn about other conditions other than my own, and the impact that they have on the lives of the writers.  It is interesting to hear other perspectives on what it is like to live with a chronic illness, and furthermore it is always a surprise on the similarities in our lives with chronic illnesses despite being diagnosed with very different conditions.

The only disappointment of the challenge was not being able to complete one of the posts.  I was experiencing a very bad day and was therefore unable to write anything.  Instead I shared the post that I had written the previous year, but at the time I felt like I had failed in the challenge.  But the support I had from fellow participants and readers of my blog, made me see that I had not failed and needed the day to recuperate and reset my body.  It made me see the importance of self-care and the need of rest when we are not feeling our best.  To put ourselves before other commitments.

I would not say there were any prompts that I didn’t like; I really enjoyed them all, particularly writing about the positive impact that my dog Honey has had on my life. ¬†Which of this month’s posts have you had enjoyed reading?

As ever I would really love your comments and thoughts of this year’s HAWMC! ¬†Get in touch through the comment section below or through my Twitter or Facebook pages (links in the header).