All things green

Health. Fitness. Positivity. Lifestyle. Mental health. Self love.

Endometriosis; I really don't like you.

Ever felt that overwhelming feeling tiredness? Where you keep fighting but feel as though it's a losing battle. That's exactly where I'm currently at with my endometriosis. As I wrote about in previous blogs in December last year, I had an operation to diagnose and remove endometriosis which the journey to was painful, long and tiring. With more hospital and ambulance trips than I can count, the moment I was eventually told they were going to operate I felt relief. For so long I knew there was something more going on with my body than doctors believed but with no explanation as to what I felt helpless. So when I was finally offered some help it felt as though I had an answer. Looking back now I realise I was very naive in assuming it was going to be the solution. After my operation, I recovered well, as someone who has always lived a healthy lifestyle it's fair to say I bounced back and of course lead me to believe it was the end of my struggle.

Little did I know that was far from what reality was going to be. For the first month maybe at a push two, things were better. My cycles had eased, and I felt much healthier. This no doubt was the hardest pill to swallow as I was lead false hope of a healthy life. I would say from about cycle 2-3 onwards was when I realised things weren't as sweet as I thought they were going to be. This definitely took me by surprise and sadly from then onwards things have only got worse. With this last month being by far the worst and the last week one of the most challenging of all.

My operation removed most of the endometriosis but not all of it, I was still left with some on my bowel which my surgeon didn't feel comfortable touching. Even with that in mind, explaining to doctors that I am in fact worse after the surgery that was supposed to make me better seems to fall on deaths ears. I already knew the research and treatment for this condition was poor but it's somewhat still heart-breaking to be told it's just something us sufferers have to get on. To pretty much be informed you will spend the rest of your life in pain, fatigued and looking like your 6 months pregnant 90% of the time is frustrating, to say the least. 

The funny or not so funny part of it all is that although my pain and symptoms use to be hard with nearly every month ending up in a hospital, more than anything I did it for an answer to my infertility. To my surprise seeking further help in that department since the operation i've been told endometriosis isn't a problem. When I was previously informed that removing it would be the answer. Leads me to the point of one of the most infuriating things which are the mixed information you receive. Due to there being such little research and money in looking at endometriosis the doctors know very little meaning they provide completely contrasting information. This though doesn't make it any easier to process the fact you had an operation based on the fact you were told it would get you pregnant, only to be told by someone else it's not a problem.
I always try to be very positive about my life experiences as written about previously many times being grateful for them. However, right now I do 100% regret having my operation done because it has elevated my problems so greatly. I struggle daily with pain, which pre-op it was only around my period and occasionally ovulation. I now cannot remember the last time I went a day without any type of pain at all, not to mention the fatigue, nausea, bladder and bowel problems. The worst part of it all is dealing with the fact now pretty much every single day I'm so bloated I look heavily pregnant, when in fact I couldn't be further away from, a constant reminder of the thing I most desperately want but can't have. 
This blog post isn't to say to anyone suffering or anyone who knows someone suffering not to have endometriosis removed. Like with every condition it varies person to person, I've spoken to many people whom the surgery has dramatically improved their condition, so it's not that it can't work but for me so far it hasn't. I do know though if I weren't to have it removed it would spread and cause more damage to other organs so I try to remind myself of that positive. The main cause of my frustration comes from being worse off from a surgery that I was promised would make me better.
For anyone who may be wondering what is so challenging about this condition, it's hard to break it down to one thing. It's exhaustion of being in constant pain, the bleariness that regular use of strong painkillers gives and how draining it is trying to explain to others how something that cannot be seen can be so debilitating. Personally, the pain is on another level to anything I've experienced before with it actually being categorized as one of the top 10 most painful conditions. Yet we are so often still misunderstood. When you collapse with such severe pain, cannot pick yourself up the floor to walk move or even barely talk, getting treated as though your being dramatic is quite honestly demoralising. 
Please don't get me wrong I'm still extremely grateful to have the body that I do. I understand I'm lucky to have a body which allows me to get up in the morning, exercise, work and live the life I desire. As hard work as endometriosis can be, I still know I'm fortunate and there are people far worse off than me. I will never let endometriosis beat me, in fact, it continues to show me my strength and determination so for that I'm thankful.

Sharing our experiences not only benefit others but ourselves too

It's fair to say I am a massive advocate for speaking out about mental health with the main reason being that I know first-hand the importance of it on our health. However, I haven't discussed as much the benefit this has on those on the receiving end of it.
Early on in my journey I was so ashamed of my diagnosis that I kept it hidden from everyone except my partner and immediate family. I felt as though it was this embarrassing and shameful secret I needed to keep. At the age of 16 being diagnosed with bipolar disorder isn't exactly 'cool' and ended up leaving me very alienated. Further, into my journey, I soon learnt that talking was essential, whether that was talking to a psychiatrist, a family member or a counsellor. I realised when suffering with mental health, talking is a lifesaver and inevitably when I finally started talking, I started healing.
Suddenly it felt like this massive weight had been lifted from me, I started to accept my condition and started writing my blog. By doing this I noticed my mindset shift and became a great deal more positive about my whole situation, with the reason being, using my pain in a constructive way it improved the way I viewed the whole experience. Sharing my story and receiving such amazing feedback encouraged me to change my outlook from a very traumatic one, to a beneficial one.
Not only does talking about your experiences heals you but it assists others too as well. Ever since starting my blog I've had many people get in contact and sharing their stories with me, often with many people saying they've never told anyone about it before. This without a doubt one of the most rewarding feelings in the world, to know you've prompted someone to start being open and that they have enough trust in you to allow you to be the first is powerful. This exact reason is why my purpose for writing quickly turned for healing myself to healing everyone else.
The reason people benefit from reading a blog or a post is because it allows them to not feel quite so alone. Mental health is incredibly alienating, it can make you feel that even if a room of 5 people, your more alone than you've ever been before. By talking to someone who has been through the same thing teaches you that the thoughts and feelings you've been having are normal. Being able to read something that explains exactly how you feel is very reassuring.
Sadly, so many of us are still too afraid to share our battles because we're afraid of judgement, meaning so many suffer in silence but imagine how much better we'd all feel if we did. Life isn't plain sailing for anyone, everyone has their difficulties so the fact anyone would judge another person for what they're going through is ridiculous. It makes me incredibly sad that we live in a world where this still happens.  
There are so many of us suffering but so few of us are talking. We don't realise the impact of a simple thing like talking can have. Many more of us would feel less alone in our challenges and less isolated if we all shared what was really going on.
As a society, I don’t think enough of us think about the impact we’re having on other human beings. We are surrounded by so much negativity and it's very infectious if we could all think of helping others before always helping ourselves, as cliché as it sounds the world would genuinely be a better place. I think it's important we're all a little more conscious of the impact we're having on not only the people around us but the world, because there are a great deal of people suffering.
Something to remember and hopefully inspire is that you don't need to be perfect to have an impact on people, you don't need to have your whole life together to provide support. Something as simple as sharing your story and your struggles could assist someone far more than you'll ever know. Start a conversation and not only improve your health but the health of others around you too.

Suicide and essential ways of preventing it

In 2017 it was reported that 5,821 people committed suicide, with an average of 16 suicides per day and suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the country.

Suicide, a subject that many are too afraid to talk about but is sadly becoming more and more common. Suicide is incredibly powerful and can affect anyone, it can take your partner, best friend, parent or sibling, no one of us is exempt. With statistics like those of 2017 it's quite clear something needs to change otherwise we will continue to lose even more beautiful souls which quite possibly, could have been saved.
In recent years a great deal more celebrities have devastatingly taken their own lives. This has to lead to additional awareness but however sadly it keeps happening, which just shows us we need to be doing more. We need to be talking to our loved ones, asking them how they really feel and keep asking till their honest. We need to be providing better support to those we know are suffering and getting them the correct medical help. We also need to be sharing our stories so that those struggling with mental health don't feel they need to be ashamed of their condition and can be open about it.
The worrying factor there is with suicide is that some, not everyone, believe a person who is expressing their desire to commit suicide is saying it for effect. The problem is that not all thoughts and feelings will mean action however they are not any less serious. A person can be crying out for help, but this doesn't mean you should ever doubt if they’re serious, because one day that thought might turn from a feeling to something they act on and at that point it's too late. 
Unfortunately, when it comes to suicide a large number of people will not see the warning signs. The sad fact is these days everyone is so caught up in their own lives that they forget to think about anyone else. It's very clear to see that someone is struggling but if you don't open up your eyes, you'll never know. Then when the tragic event does happen, people say  “I didn't even know they were struggling”. 
As a person whom after struggling with severe depression made multiple suicide attempts, I know what it's like to feel there's no other way out of the pain you're experiencing other than suicide. The feeling that you never knew it was possible to feel as low as you do and even just existing hurts. However, what I do also know, is that it is possible to find a light at the end of the tunnel and feel happiness once again. Although it may not be an easy ride and the journey can be long, it's worth every second of it. I know that suicide doesn't have to be the answer. 
I want anyone who feels suicidal right now to understand that recovery is possible. There are options other than suicide, it's not the only way to end your pain. The road may be long, and it may be bumpy, but you can, and you will beat this depression. I want you to find any last piece of hope and strength you to fight this feeling and get yourself better. Happiness may feel a million miles away right now, but you can get there and when you do, life will feel like the most precious thing in the world.

Get them professional help
Seeking professional help from a GP or psychiatrist is crucial in preventing someone from taking their own life. Depression is bigger than all of us and if you know someone suffering you must get them medical help; don't think you can deal with it on your own, it just isn't worth taking the risk.

Always talk to them
Providing a listening ear is so important, in fact for me it was the most important thing. As difficult as it may be, a person who is feeling suicidal may just need someone to talk it through with, why they're feeling that way and what action can be taken to stop those thoughts. Anyone suffering from their mental health will just want time and patience from you, to listen to how they're feeling.

If serious, don't leave them on their own
As much as the person will not like you for this if they are extremely unwell and you're very worried about them, you just cannot leave them. Sadly, it was always the times when everyone had gone out to work that I tried to take my own life, I waited for the moments I knew everyone would be gone.

Be by their side every second of the way
In my experience, if it wasn't for my partner and mum I 100% can say I would not be here writing this blog. They were my strength when I didn't have it, they were my shoulder to cry on every single day and they were there to listen even when I didn't even understand what I was saying. If you truly love and care for a person who is suffering from their mental health, you can never do too much.

The letter I wrote to get me through the darkest days

Depression is one of the loneliest things you can deal with and the most important thing you can ever do is talk to people. It's never easy telling those you love that you feel depressed and suicidal but it can quite literally be life-saving. 

When suffering from any mental illness there will be days which are especially difficult, days when you want to give up and just end it all. These days are where you need support from your loved ones the most and it's vital you tell someone how you're feeling. However, I also believe it's extremely important to have tools in place to be able to lift yourself out of those dark places and save yourself too. The same method won't help every time so it's vital to have a few different tools you can rely upon, methods such as meditation, exercise, talking with loved ones, writing down your thoughts, getting outside. 

For me, what I used most was a letter I wrote to myself, which reminded me of my strength and the many amazing reasons for staying alive. I wanted to share this letter to help others to hopefully be able to write something similar for themselves. I'm extremely grateful to be able to say that I haven't needed to use this letter for a long time but in the past, it was a crucial help for me.

"So you're reading this letter because you feel low, helpless and you can't see much point in this thing we call life. However, you've felt like this before and you will feel like this again yet every single time you get through it. Your record rate is 100% and that isn't going to change. You may have an overwhelming feeling of sadness right now but it will pass, even if it lasts a couple of days there's always light at the end of the tunnel.

When you're happy your mind feels relaxed and at ease, you smile, laugh and feel positive. When your feeling low you can't imagine being able to get back to that place, however, it is possible and I want to remind how far you have come. The battles you've been through and that you've always come out the other side. This is just a bad mood, it's not a bad life. You've been through much darker. So please remember this mood is only temporary, every mood we feel is temporary but the dark ones just hurt more.

I want you to find something you can focus on, something to aim towards or just something to keep you busy until this mood passes. If it's something, in particular, that's getting you down then write about it, put pen to paper and get it all out. This always helps. I also want you to write down 10 positive things in your life and keep reading over them. The majority of the time it's about changing your mindset. At the moment your feeling negative so we just need to switch that.

Most of all I want to take you to a place where you can feel some peace, even just for a minute. I want you to think of the times when your singing in the car with Toby, arriving somewhere on holiday, watching a sunset, wandering around a garden on a sunny day. Whatever feels good right now, take yourself there and let it consume your whole body. Stay there as long as you need and stay until you feel more relaxed. Use this tool and revert back to that feeling of calmness at any point.

Remember no matter how alone you feel right now you have so many people around you who love you, so please don't push them away. Remember that you've got a dream fiance, family who all care about you, a group of really good friends, a beautiful house and a great business. It may not feel like much to you right now but those little things, are really all that matters in life.

You're a fighter. You've done this before and you'll do it again, this will never ever, ever beat you. No matter how bad it feels you always get yourself out of it, so just keep reminding yourself that. Take it day by day, hour by hour, just one step at a time and you'll get there. You will find your happiness again, just give it time."

An honest account of trying to concieve

Trying to conceive. The weird and wonderful thing most girls dream about from a young age. The thing that can be an amazing experience for some but also a horrific and quite honestly traumatic for others. 

Something triggered me recently which completely put into perspective the whole process for me. It gave me the realisation of how much it's taken from me; my positivity, my zest for life and most importantly, part of my identity. This really shook me when I first realised it and realised how much of myself I've lost. I suddenly could see how I've kind of just been floating from day to day, month to month for the last two and a half years. Of course, I'm not saying I've been completely miserable the whole time and that I haven't had any happiness because I have. In fact, I've had lots of it but it's just like no matter what you do you've got a dark cloud hovering over you that doesn't go away.

I decided to deal with this realisation, the only way I know how, which is writing about it and using my pain to help others. So this is a very honest account of what trying to conceive can really be.

Before we began trying, I was always led to believe that if you don't use contraception then you automatically get pregnant. Which for some this can be the case; but for others, it couldn't be further from the truth. Not that I begrudge anyone who has become pregnant easily because it's not their fault they did and I didn't. To me, every baby is a blessing and everyone is given that precious gift when life believes they should be. However, that's very hard to remember when you have to go through the pain and suffering every single month. A pain I've as I've honestly never felt before, and that's after experiencing severe depression.

The months turn into ovulation dates, feeling hopeful and assessing every symptom just to come on your period once again. The years just turn into a cycle of this month after month until the year isn't really a year anymore it's 12 chances to try. No matter how much you tell yourself not to think about it, it's almost to make those thoughts go away. It's an ache you carry in your heart that no matter what you do, doesn't go away.

 Not forgetting the torture of waiting. Waiting for ovulation to arrive. The agonising wait to see if your period will arrive. Waiting to have tests done than waiting to get test results. The waiting for appointments and the wait goes on. The two-week wait between ovulation and your period arriving is without a doubt the longest two weeks a person can ever have. Assessing every single symptom you may or may not have and what that means, thinking you're pregnant, then knowing you're definitely not. It's painful to say the very least and I think waiting is what makes life just end up feeling less like real life, because it's just about dates and not the exciting plans you have at the weekend.

So for anyone who is thinking about trying, I really want you to fully prepare yourself for the rollercoaster ride, trying to conceive CAN be. I'm not saying it will be but what it can be and the reason I say this is because I wish someone had prewarned before we started. I wish
more people would have been open about the fact it took them a while to have their children and that it was really really tough. I never in a million years want to put a person off trying but I just want people to know it isn't always as easy as it's made out to be, it can be really hard and that's ok. If I can give any piece of advice it would be, to be as prepared mentally as you can because it doesn't always go 'to plan'.

For anyone, like me, currently trying I want you to know it's okay to feel completely shit about the whole experience because it isn't always the fairytale scenario we dreamt of. So cry whenever the hell you need to and tell the people around you how hard it can be until their ears are sore. Do whatever you feel is going to help you through those tough times, but don't ever let it take your happiness away.

Don't allow the process to make you think you have no purpose or that you're any less of a woman because of your infertility, you're just as much of a woman as the person with 3 children is. Your strong & you're powerful, nothing will break you. It's incredibly easy to let it absorb into every aspect of your life and it takes a lot to prevent that happening. It is, however, vital to not completely lose yourself in it; which of course is a lot easier said than done, hence the reason I'm able to write this blog. Just remember that before you started trying to you were pretty damn happy, which means you can continue to be whilst you don't have a baby. 

Finally what I want anyone who knows someone trying to conceive, to know is how unbearably painful the whole thing CAN be. The feeling that one day you don't know how you can go on, to the next where you suddenly change to doing whatever it takes. To try to help understand, there's absolutely no better way to describe the experience other than a rollercoaster. One day your up, then one day your down, you get excited to try and then you fall apart because you come on. This means if you do know anyone currently trying to have a baby, it's important to be patient with them, its possible they might lash out or say something they don't really mean from time to time. Just remember it's not them, it's just what they're be going through right now.

For me, I'm going off with my newfound realisation, to go and start living life again. To travel the world even more, laugh until my belly hurts and remember there are so many incredible things in the world (all whilst quietly but desperately trying to have our magic baby). Feeling incredibly thankful for the thing that shook me and helped me notice how much I'd lost myself (when I thought I was actually doing quite well) because for the first time in a long time I've managed to feel a little bit like the old me again before the long journey began.

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