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Something to brighten your day

As summer turns to autumn, the days get shorter, the weather colder, and our moods can begin to drop. One of the ways I try to stay positive, instead of letting the blues set in is by looking up inspirational or motivational quotes. I thought you might appreciate me sharing some of my favourites with you. To simply write them out seemed a little boring however, so I decided to pull some beautiful images from Pinterest. Everyone loves a quote from there, right?







I hope at least some (if not all) of those quotes have lifted your mood. In the comments feel free to share any more quotes or sayings that inspire you.

Love Katie x

Please note: I didn’t create these images, nor do I own them. Please click on each individual image for a link to the original source.

Change is possible, it’s in your hands

It seems like I start every blog post with an apology these days. I have so much I want to write and share, my brain is always working over-time, but it’s difficult to get it onto a page or screen.

This is one of the blog posts that has been tucked away in my mind for a while. It has circled my thoughts often. Today I’m finally sharing it with you. It’s not an easy topic, it makes both Paul and I uncomfortable writing about such difficult and personal experiences. I wanted to write this however, because I have faith that you will read this, share this, and one day things will be different.

photo 3

I’m sure that lots of know that P recently made a report for ITV News Wales. The report was about carers and the importance of the support (or rather, the lack of) they receive.

As Kieron Rees (Carers Trust Wales) said, the support carers receive is often seen as a nice little extra, but anyone who has cared full-time knows that even something as simple as a monthly book club can be a lifeline.

This report came about after research found that 80% of carers experience loneliness, and over half struggle with depression.

At times, Paul has been stuck indoors day after day, week after week. Sometimes the only interaction he had was at the supermarket. It’s hard to imagine what that does, not only to your mental health, but also your physical.

This has a domino effect. When Paul’s health was jeopardised, my health suffered too. There were times when he couldn’t get out of bed, so neither could I. We couldn’t eat or even get wash and dressed.

I am sharing these awful times, because I want it to change. It has to change. With a growing, ageing population, it’s very likely that every one of us will either need care from a relative, or care for a relative ourselves, perhaps even both.

When the government, through social services, fails to provide support, people like Paul end up not only unable to work, but also become ill themselves.

It’s hard to have illness affect your life, but that’s a walk in the park compared to watching it take over the life of someone you love. I’ve often considered leaving Paul so that he can have a better life.


Our social worker in Cardiff was amazing. She was so compassionate, really listened to what was going on inside the walls of our flat and strove to find us help. Unfortunately, there was very little, to nothing, she could do to provide physical help.

Our experience of social services here in Carmarthenshire has been very different. Now we live in adaptable accommodation. Social care could be introduced, to take some of the burden off Paul, and to help me begin to gain some independence. However, we struggle to get them to stay in contact with us, let alone actually take us seriously enough to provide help.

I hate it when I see P make phone call after phone call only to make little progress. We have almost given up hope. There was one instance in which we hadn’t heard from them for three months before we chased them up, only to find that nothing had been achieved. What really drives me insane is that they believe this is perfectly okay. Why should we expect to hear anything?

I’m telling you all of this to raise awareness. I’ve lost count of the amount of people (including healthcare professionals) who have told us about all the wonderful help available, but it’s a myth.

Paul and Katie (2)The awful thing is that we are not an isolated situation, and I dare say we are just the tip of the ice berg. Our situation is improving, but that is only because my health has. P has been determined not to let this beat him. He’s adapted and found ways to cope, but he’s done it alone, and the hard way.

I don’t want that to happen to anyone else, but I know that as I write this, many people will be struggling, about to topple, under the weight of being a carer.


At this point, you may be asking yourself what you can do to help. There are two ways you can help change the lives of carers.

  • Carer’s week is coming up, and every year I urge people to do something nice for the carers they know. You might not be able to provide regular help, but you can buy them a gift, or drop in for a coffee. I wish I could find the words to explain what this would mean to a carer.
  • The other thing you can do is very simple and easy, share anything and everything that helps raise awareness. Let politicians know that you care about these things. It’s so quick and easy to send a tweet. Share this blog post and share the links below.

Change is possible, it’s in your hands.

Love Katie x

If you want to watch Paul’s report and interview on Newsweek, click here

My 15 minutes of fame


James Martin with Paul and I. James presents the show, and interviewed P and I.

In September this year, Paul and I were given the opportunity to be part of a BBC programme called Operation Meet the Street. At first we were a little cautious because there seem to be so many programmes painting their subjects in a negative light, but after meeting one of the producers we became as passionate about the programme as them. The programme shows the lives of various people in our society suffering from chronic loneliness, and then tries to connect those people with others in their community.

You can watch the programme every day next week at 9.15am on BBC 1, or you can catch it shortly afterwards on iPlayer. Paul and I feature mainly in Thursday’s episode, but I’d encourage you to watch the whole series if you can.

The best way we can combat this awful loneliness that plagues our society is through awareness. I believe we can all do something to reach out to those around us. Even something as small as a smile and a simple ‘hello’ can make a difference.

We also got to meet Alex Jones, who grew up just up the road from where we currently live.

We also got to meet Alex Jones, who grew up just up the road from where we currently live.

It was uncomfortable, even for an avid blogger like me, to share some of my most painful thoughts, feelings and experiences, but I did it because without sharing what is happening to people like Paul and me, how will anything change? When we sat down and talked about whether to do the show, we agreed on two things, firstly that it would stretch us emotionally and physically. And secondly, that we had to do it. I hope the show will be a success, not because I want pity, but because I want things to change. I don’t want anyone to feel invisible anymore.

As a little side note, I have to say that all of the BBC crew were polite and respectful. Every member of the crew thanked me for sharing my story and seemed to really care. Most importantly, the show’s creator (Pete) wanted to make sure that an actual change took place. He wanted to be certain that when the cameras left, I would be able to continue to go to …. well I won’t say where, that’d ruin the show for you. Pete even thought to check that each of the people they interviewed would have someone to watch the show with.


If you’d like to find out more about Operation Meet the Street, you can watch last Friday’s episode of The One Show by clicking here. The segment about OMTS starts at at around 13 minutes.

You can also find out  more about the BBC’s loneliness season by clicking here.


Please let me know if you watch the show, firstly so I can thank you for your support. Secondly, so I can find out what you thought of the programme. Paul and I appreciate all of the support we get, it makes all the difference to us.


Love Katie x

Can you take on a big project whilst fighting chronic illness?


The short answer is YES. I managed to do NaNoWriMo in 2012 in spite of M.E. and Fibromyalgia. This project involves writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. You can read more about the project here.

Two years later, however, and my illnesses are much, much worse. I struggle to stay awake for most of the day, and haven’t been able to write any fiction for literally over a year because I didn’t have the energy or concentration. I am wondering whether I am ready to start writing again. NaNoWriMo might just be the push I need. After many weeks of swaying back and forth between deciding to join in and deciding to give this year a miss, I have resolved to jump in with both feet.

Things I am considering:

  1. The overall impact on my health.

    Will pushing myself to do NaNoWriMo ultimately have a negative impact on my health? I don’t want to have to rest up for most of December, my most favourite time of year. As the month goes by, I will have to listen and respond to my body. I’ve asked my hubby to be a second opinion on whether I am pushing myself too hard. He’s promised to encourage me when I can push through, but also be there to tell me when I should take a break. If this means me failing to hit my daily word count, so be it. You could ask a close friend or family member to do the same if you don’t live with a spouse or partner. IMG_0429

  2. Other projects I have already committed to.

    I’ve already planned to do several other projects throughout November. I have made a list of all my commitments and projects, then prioritised them so I know what I’m willing to sacrifice in favour of NaNoWriMo, and what I’m not.

  3. How will it affect my mentality if I don’t finish in time, or at all?

    Lastly, I will be addressing how I will feel if I don’t “win” this year. I will choose to see whatever I write as an achievement, a positive step forward, and not focus on the words that are yet to be written.


I hope that sharing my thoughts helps you come to a decision, whether it be about NaNoWriMo or another project you want to take part in.

Love Katie x


Out of Office

It’s time to brush off the cyber cobwebs and chase away the virtual dust bunnies. This blog has been dormant for some months but, finally, the time has come to reignite the embers and let the fire roar once again.

Out of Office

Where have I been and what have I been doing? That’s a good question. Frankly, I’ve mostly been in bed doing very little. I’ve been going through a horrendous period of sickness, which is ongoing and showing little sign of relenting. Just when I thought that my illness couldn’t get worse, it took me by surprise and it did. I’ve been far too sick to do anything for months. Most weeks I’m unable to leave the house, even getting out of bed has become a mammoth challenge. When I have been able to leave the house, or see friends, I’ve grasped the opportunity and made the most of every second that I’ve been gifted. My sanity has depended on my ability to appreciate these times and remember them in those long hours of pain, exhaustion and boredom.

Usually during these periods when I’m too sick to write, Paul, my husband, would keep the blog going. This hasn’t been possible for these past few months. He’s in his final year of university and his workload is heavy. Between university and looking after me, he hasn’t had the time to keep this particular ball rolling.

In truth, the blog has never been too far away from my mind. I’ve written hundred of posts in my head but unfortunately that’s where they’ve stayed. It’s frustrating to have so many ideas and be unable to use them. I am comforted, however, that my creativity has kept flowing and that my desire to write has never extinguished.

I’ve been encouraged by the fact that this blog is still being regularly visited despite the lack of new content. I’d like to offer my sincere apologies to those who have been in touch, through this website, over the last few months. A lot of people have asked some important questions, looked for advice or offered kind words of encouragement. It’s pained me to not be able to reply, especially because some have been really heartfelt, but please know that I appreciate all of your contributions. When I start to get better I will do my best to reply to your comments and messages.

I wish I could promise you that this post will mark the return of regular content but realistically, I can’t. I might write again in a few days or it might be in a few months. This is the unavoidable, and unpredictable, nature of my illness. What I can promise, however, is that I will be regularly using Instagram (@chronickatie) and Twitter (@Chronic_Katie). This is a manageable way for me to keep in touch with my readers so please follow me on these platforms.

In the meantime, I am still fighting to take back ground against my illness. I have not, and will not, give up my ambitions or give up on my calling, which is to reach people through my writing. It doesn’t matter how hard my journey is. As long as I have faith in God’s plan and keep inching forward, I will never be beaten. I will continue to be relentless in the face of adversity.

Be Relentless

The Subjectivity of Achievement

Katie has been too unwell to write this week, so I thought I would write a short post to share some thoughts with you, and hopefully some encouragement too.

One of the things I’ve had to learn whilst being a carer is the subjectivity of achievement. The true scale of an achievement can only be realised when you look at the person, and situation, behind it.

Over the weekend, I ran just over 7 miles. A few days before, Katie, despite being in intense pain, managed to sit, talk to and eat with her mother and sister, in our lounge. Which do you think was the greater achievement? Whilst I usually avoid comparing one person’s achievement with another, it is undeniable that Katie’s cost her more. It took her more effort and was ultimately more valuable to her than my run was to me. If you took away the context of these achievements then you might not count Katie’s activity as an achievement at all. It’s only when you understand her situation that you can really value the greatness of her achievement.

What have you achieved, but have undervalued because you have forgotten the context? I find that if I forget the context of my own life then I ignore the genuine achievements that I make on a daily basis. If I were not a carer, also trying to fit in studies and employment, then finding 20 minutes in my day to write might not be an achievement at all. But I am, and it is.

I’ve found that people consistently achieve more than they give themselves credit for. The problem is that we don’t recognise, or we undervalue, what we achieve. I do this all the time, despite my best efforts. As a result I am continually beating myself up and losing perspective. I would bet that I’m not the only one.

What have you achieved recently

So I ask again, what have you achieved recently? and Why is it important to you?



Housebound: An Update

Housebound is a strong, and negative, word but it is a realistic description of Katie’s life, at the moment. Her sickness has regressed to a point where she’s only awake for a few hours a day. In those precious hours, Katie pushes herself as hard as she can but finds even simple tasks, like reading, to be exhausting. With the exception of a two hour writing class, every Thursday, our home has become her world.

Katie recently went 2 months without leaving the house. The pain and exhaustion she felt was often overwhelming. As much as she hated being stuck in bed all the time, she just couldn’t do anything about it. Since then she’s been managing to get out of the house, for that 2 hour period, on Thursdays. This is exhausting for her. She generally spends the following three days in a daze, sleeping around 20 hours a day, and barely functioning when awake.

One of the newer symptoms of Katie’s condition has been extreme light sensitivity. Most of the time she lies in darkness. The curtains of our bedroom have been permanently closed for these past 4 months. To guarantee complete darkness, which is sometimes all she can manage, a face mask is always close at hand. When she has briefly left the house, she does so in thick sun glasses. The light hurts her eyes and gives her headaches which are simply unbearable.  There are hundreds of other people who share Katie’s condition and experience this. Katie has had countless people get in touch, through this blog, who have spent years of their lives in complete darkness. We thank God everyday that Katie’s experience has not been as bad.   

Regular reader would surely have noticed that Katie has barely been updating her blog over this time. After reading this blog post, I’m sure that you don’t need telling why. Most of the time writing has felt like scaling Everest to her. When she has been able to pen something, she focuses on homework from her writing class. Unfortunately, however, this mostly remains undone. Katie is passionate about writing. She has a real talent for it, even if I do say so myself. It has therefore been difficult for her to go so long without pursuing it.

Despite all this, her life remains full of hope. Not for one second has Katie stopped fighting. Her mental toughness over these last five months has been remarkable to see. Katie has countless reasons to despair, but she never indulges them. She smiles, she laughs and she loves. She is never bitter and is rarely ever sad. Even though she’s awake for a handful of hours a day, and she spends those hours shrouded in exhaustion and pain, she always makes the most of everything she can do.

We don’t believe that Katie will be this sick forever. We have faith that this is just a season of her life. A season that will ultimately strengthen us both. We continue to place our trust in God, who watches over us, and has a purpose for our struggles.

I’m not writing this to incite sympathy for Katie. She neither needs nor wants it. I’m writing this because it’s the reality of M.E. and Fibromyalgia and the purpose of this blog was always to tell you the truth, to raise awareness. The truth of Katie’s conditions are hard to hear, and even harder to live. But today, I want to show you how joy and hope exist in all situations. In our experience, life can never be so hard that a smile can’t be found. Darkness can never extinguish light.



6 Alternatives to NaNoWriMo


Image source: Google Images

The end of October always brings for me a dilemma, and no I’m not talking about how to look both scary and sexy in a Halloween costume. November is National Novel Writing Month, or as it is more affectionately known, NaNoWriMo. If you’re not sure what the frick I’m talking about, you can find out what NaNoWriMo is here. Last November, after many years of observing, was my first try at NaNoWriMo, which I ‘won’, or for all you civilians I completed it (you can read about it here). I enjoyed  it so much and would happily have done it again this year, but, unfortunately, I’m really not well enough. Last year was a real struggle for me and since I was no where near as ill as I am now, I’ve decided not to just bow out this year.

I am, however, still going to set myself some kind of writing related challenge this November though. I figured that some of you reading this might also not be able to write 2,000 words a day (for a variety of reasons) so I thought I would share some of the alternatives that I’ve come up with.

1. Write one hundred words a day

Create one flash fiction a week or a short story by the end of the month, remember to leave a few days for revision.

2. Keep a daily journal

You can set the amount of pages, or words, depending on whether you’re planning on writing by hand or word processing. Published author Ben Hatch said the journal he kept when he was 21 turned into the bones of his first novel. You could even begin a character Journal, put yourself in your character’s shoes and write from their point of view, just let the words flow. It’s a great way to build a strong character for your novel.

3. Read books 

This could be research for something you want to write, something to get you inspired, or even read some books about writing to improve your work.

Image source: Google Images

4. Fill a book with ideas and observations

I recently read about a retreat that Julie Cohen (bestselling authors of ‘Dear Thing’) took with other writers. Having just sent off a manuscript, she decided to use her time away to re-engage with the world. She used a notebook and camera to record every bit of inspiration she found. Take walks, eavesdrop on conversations, read, bake, just do whatever it takes to re-engage the creative part of your mind.

5. Do one writing exercise a day

Writing exercises are a great way to develop your writing skills and they have the added bonus of being short and quick. My favourite book of exercises is ‘5 Minute Writer’ by Margaret Geraghty, although I often got lost in my ideas and wrote for longer than 5 minutes.

6. Start ‘morning’ pages

Many professional writers begin their day by taking a short amount of time to write a stream of consciousness. They have the complete freedom to write what is in their mind, not worrying about technique, proper use of grammar or style, since the intention of these pages is not for publication but simply to warm up your mind, just like an athlete takes the time to warm up before a workout. Usually the vast majority of these pages are simply the emptying of our minds, but every now and then looking back through these pages you’ll hit upon a gem. Regardless of whether you ever re-read these pages, taking time to “warm up” before you begin writing “properly” will save on editing and re-writing later.


Just in case you’re wondering, I’ll probably be going with option four because I’m low on both energy and ideas at the moment. I’d love to hear what you decide to do with your November writers.

Love Katie x

The Big Chop

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter then you’ll probably know that I recently lost something I love… my long hair. I have been growing my hair ever since I can remember and in the last two years it’s finally hit that length that makes people marvel at it. Unfortunately, my long hair didn’t look sleek and beautiful like I wanted it to because I’ve been far too sick to style it or look after it properly. Not only do I not have the energy to spend on playing with my hair, the pain in my upper arms is just too severe at the moment for me to use straighteners, curlers, or even be able to brush my hair. Yes, P can now add ‘knows how to brush bad knots out of long hair’ to his CV.


As you’ve probably guessed from the photo, I decided to have my long hair chopped off. I swayed back and for between my decision until the last bath before my appointment when it took what felt like hours to wash my hair. Bearing in mind how badly baths exhaust me, it was the last push that I needed to take the plunge.  Now that my hair is much shorter, taking a bath is much quicker, and my hair looks a lot tidier, even though it is getting styled just as often, by which I mean not at all.

As much as I love my hair style (I have a great hairdresser), sometimes I get a little sad that I finally got the length of hair I wanted and I had to chop it all off. Okay, feel free to roll your eyes at me, I realise how ridiculous that last sentence sounded. In the grand scheme of things it’s only hair right? I do have that perspective 99.9% of the time, but every now and then, on particularly “bad” days I find myself thinking that my illness has even stolen my hair style. I love styling my hair and putting on make up but I’ve not managed to do either of those things for over a month. Hmph.

What I’ve decided to do is try to focus on cultivating a new style for myself. I’m in a new era of my life now that I’m no longer at university and have a rehabilitation team (more about this soon) so I should have a new look to go with that. Rather than see my new hairstyle as a result of circumstances beyond my control, I’m going to seize it as an opportunity to shake things up. Since I’ve not had shoulder length hair (that’s classed as short in my book) for six years, and then it was only briefly so this is new territory for me, any styling or hair related tips would be very welcome.

Love Katie x

Spiralling: An update on our favourite chronic fighter

It seems like the beginning of all my blog posts begin this way: Katie has been very sick. In fact, it’s quite possible that she’s never been this sick before, and that really is saying something. The last few months Katie has been travelling on a steep downward spiral. Our prayer is that she has now reached the bottom. The idea of her getting worse doesn’t bare thinking of.

Kate has struggled with abdominal pain for over six months. It began after she was taken into hospital in March, and has since existed as an underlying problem. Over the last ten days, however, the pain has escalated dramatically. It has kept Katie in bed, constantly, for the whole ten days. It’s stopping her eating, she’s had sleepless nights, and standing up has felt like a pipe dream for our chronic fighter.

You’ll all be glad to hear that she is doing just that: fighting. Katie fights to stay positive, she fights to find achievement in even her worst days and she is fighting to get better.

Katie is the kind of person who gets bored very easily. She can’t sit still and do nothing. That’s why she spends endless hours doing crafts, or writing, when she’s too sick to get out of bed. Sometimes, however, she’s so sick that even these things are beyond her. That’s how you know she’s really ill, because she won’t be doing anything. This is what the last ten days have been like for her. The vast majority of the time, when she’s actually been awake (which sometimes has only been a few hours a day), she’s been unable to do anything.

I must emphasise that I really mean that she hasn’t been doing anything at all. It’s hard to understand what that’s like until you’ve actually had to do it for such a long period of time.

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom. This week we’re going back to visit our parents. We haven’t been back since Christmas so, even though Katie will spend most of the time in bed, we’re very much looking forward to it. Even a week in a new bed will be better for Katie, who must be sick to death of the four walls around her.

As for me, I’ve just finished my exams so I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation before the new academic year begins in September. Hopefully I’ll also manage to get some writing done too. You might now that I write my own blog, and write for the Huffington Post. Let’s just say that, if you do follow me, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’ve given up. The river has run dry lately. Hopefully this break will give me the time I need to start afresh.

While it might be a week or two before Katie posts again, don’t forget that you can leave comments at any time and you can follow her on social media. As always, she would love to hear from you. If you know us personally then jigsaw puzzles, audio books and DVDs are always well received . As you can imagine, she’s worn a whole in all of ours so it would be a great help if you could lend some to her.

This blog post was written by Paul Davies.

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