Tomorrow morning P and I will be boarding our flight to Gran Canaria. Eeee, we’re so excited!
See you in a week everyone!
Love Katie x
P.s. Don’t forget to watch my latest video here.
Since I’m struggling to get posts up regularly at the moment, I’ve decided to start shorter posts with you. This is a more manageable way for me to write, and I’m guessing a lot easier for you to read. I regularly read, watch, and listen to things that help me maintain a positive mental attitude and keep the black dog at bay, I thought that you might appreciate me sharing some of the quotes I record in my journal with you. The quote below is from the notes section in the Bible I read*. At the moment I am working my way through the book of Job, a story that is very relevant to this blog, so I’m sure I’ll be sharing another quote or two with you in the next couple of weeks. Whether you’re a Christian or not, the Bible can be both inspiring and comforting. It contains harsh truths, compliments, and motivational quotes we all need to hear, which is why many atheists often turn to it, and have found it useful. This is part of the reason I talk about my faith and share it with you.
Love Katie x
*I read The Life Application Study Bible (NIV version)
While I’ve been stuck in bed the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time on the internet, reading blogs, watching YouTube and finding interesting people on Twitter. It’s struck me in the past week or so how many of the spoonies I “follow” online manage to achieve a lot, in spite of their illness. In some cases, they’ve used their illness to their advantage. As thoughts about this were swirling around my mind one night, I pondered how these women manage to do so much, when I seem to do so little. Was it because they weren’t as sick as me? Possibly, but that’s not the whole story. After much deliberation, I decided it was because they weren’t afraid to admit they had dreams and begin taking baby steps towards achieving them.
When this academic year began, I had set my mind to focus on getting through my studies, it’s no surprise then that I fell into a depression when I got so sick again. Seeing weeks go by without my being able to study has been really difficult. I love learning, since I can remember, all I’ve wanted to do was go to university, and I love learning about politics. In a way, having tried so hard for so long to get through my degree only to keep “failing” at completing modules has just made me afraid to try anything else. I wouldn’t admit it out loud but my subconscious was saying, “why bother trying to do something you love? Your illness will only ruin it anyway.” I’ve been making plans but the majority of them have begun with the sentence, “when I’m well enough…”, which just isn’t happening.
Don’t misunderstand me, I haven’t given up on university, I will find a way to complete my degree, and I certainly haven’t given up the belief that I’ll get better, but I’m done waiting around for life to begin. That’s how Paul and I have felt, we’ve pushed ourselves to complete things, and life itself has been a real struggle for a long time, but when it comes to deepest desires, the things that mean the most to us, we’ve popped them on a shelf for “one day”. In a way, that’s allowing my illness to control us, the fear that we might only get one chance and that my illness will blow it for us, has prevented us from doing some things. There’s a certain amount of wisdom in that, but there’s been a lot of fear in that too.
This week we took the plunge and used some of our savings to book a holiday. The idea that we need to save for a rainy day has always been on our minds, and while that is generally a good principle to have, it’s made us afraid to spend any of our savings. Since we first became a couple and I got sick, we’ve been talking about going to Paris, and therefore, we’ve never wanted to spend our money on going anywhere else, because what if we can never save enough to go? Paris will still be there in future years when it is the right time for us to go, and I’m not going to believe that we’ll never get to go there if we go on holiday somewhere else. We know that we both need a holiday and we’d love to have a belated honeymoon. After all, lots of people generously gave us Euros at our wedding for that purpose. As we were chatting away about this, we both came to the realisation that although we’d love to go to a city and have an adventure, we’re both exhausted and what we really need is some time away somewhere hot, with a pool, and a beach. That’s what we did. We’ve booked a last minute holiday to Gran Canaria for a week. The fear that I felt when I clicked the little button to pay online was ridiculous, which made me all the more certain I was doing the right thing. It’s not like we’ve spent all of our savings on a crazy extravagant holiday that I obviously can’t manage. We booked something nice, albeit the cheapest place we could book, with disabled access. I don’t think I need to say any more to prove quite how unfounded my fears are.
Having bitten the bullet on spending savings on a holiday, I’m determined to keep making progress on my dreams. I think putting all my eggs into the university basket was a mistake, and not one I’m going to repeat. What’s most important though is that I stop making my own contingency plans and start seeking God’s plan for my life. It might not be the most comfortable life, but I know it will be the most fulfilling life. Right now Paul and I are praying into our future and asking God where He wants us to step out in faith. Watch this space for more exciting adventures.
Love Katie x
Since this month is M.E. awareness month, I decided to write my column about how I turned my life around after becoming really sick, I thought you guys might like to read it too.
If you’re a regular reader of my column then you’ll know that I’ve mentioned before that I suffer with chronic illnesses. One of these illnesses is M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I mention this because May is M.E. Awareness month. The condition itself is wildly misunderstood by the general public and, in many cases, by the medical profession. The illness is mysterious and unpredictable, however, the M.E. Association estimates that there are over 250,000 people in the UK whose lives are effected by M.E.
I have had M.E for my entire life, although I was only diagnosed when I was 14. Throughout my life the symptoms have varied significantly. During my GCSE years I was largely unable to attend school. For most of my A levels the symptoms were relatively mild. For the past three years, however, I have spent month long periods in bed and have deteriorated to not being able to leave my house without a wheelchair or mobility scooter. The condition affects every areas of my life now, everything from washing, to using a phone, to my sex life is impacted.
I would love to give you a M.E. master class right now, because I know that many of you might not have heard of it before, or don’t really understand what it means. Frankly, I’d need a lot more than one page to do this, and my editor, for some obscure reason, wasn’t happy about making the whole paper devoted to my column.
I can, however, introduce you to spoon theory. Spoon theory is something developed by Christine Miserandino to explain to a friend what living with Lupus is like, but sufferers of various chronic illnesses have found the theory useful. Christine took five spoons, representing the amount of energy she has for each day. Washing in the morning costs one spoon. Getting dressed might cost one spoon, making breakfast another. That’s three of the five spoons gone by breakfast. That means there’s only two left for my whole day. Spoons cannot be recovered, once they’re gone, there’s nothing I can do but sleep for the rest of my day. Chronic illness sufferers have found this analogy so useful that many of us have adopted the title ‘spoonie’. On Twitter, Tumblr and most other social media you can find a community of ‘spoonies’.
As you can imagine, I have felt like a prisoner in my own body. It’s a sensation which can be truly devastating. You can feel like you’ve lost everything. I learnt, however, that I had to grieve for what had gone. I had to learn to let go, otherwise I would spend the rest of my life bitter for what I should have. I wasn’t giving up, I was accepting that I would never be able to push my body in a way that healthy people do. I needed to accept the reality of my situation. You can’t manage M.E if you’re delusional, if you ever hope to regain control you need to be aware of what you can actually do. Accepting my physical limitations was very difficult for me, but it was clear that if I didn’t then I’d spend my in a pit of depression.
I have often comes face-to-face with stigma associated with my condition. I’ve experienced scepticism from strangers, doctors and even people who love me. I often get told that I would feel better if I had a bit more sunlight or ate more vegetables. Possibly the most infuriating is when people suggest that I just need to try walking. This never comes from a malicious place, people want to help, but they don’t know how to.
Over the last two years I have actively tried to raise awareness about my condition. One of the most important things that I have learnt is that by only talking about the ‘bad’ things, I’m only telling half of the story. M.E. has changed my life, but it hasn’t killed it. While I have had to let go of an old life, I’ve been fortunate enough to gain a new one. I’ve found a way to communicate the struggles whilst still focusing on the positives. I’m passionate about emphasising that it’s not all bad, but I also realise that no good can come from covering up the hardships. All it causes is ignorance in observers, and pain in sufferers.
Looking back I can see that there were three ‘stages’ of turning my life around, and to start living life, rather than just existing.
The first step for me was to change my perspective. My condition is bad, it’s debilitating, but I’m not dying, and I’m not even the worst M.E. sufferer. This came to me as a bit of a revelation. I was being taken out of hospital, and on the way we passed the child cancer unit. It struck me that I could be so much worse off than I was. No matter how much pain I’m in, I know that I’m going to survive.
Secondly, I had to stop comparing myself to healthy people. I might not be able to go out, or take advantage of the opportunities that the average student might be able to take, but I have other things to be thankful. It is through my illness that I discovered my love of writing. Being stuck in bed all the time gave me a lot of time to work on this initially as a hobby, and now hopefully as a career. If I wasn’t sick maybe I wouldn’t have this column or had a blog which, let alone be shortlisted for the Cosmopolitan Lifestyle Blog awards of 2012. There’s a verse from the Bible, which I always use to encourage myself in this respect. It says that God can use any bad situation for good. Whether you believe in God or not, I think that this is an idea which anyone can draw strength from.
Finally, I had to change the way I saw myself. Partly this is to do with body image- I can’t exercise, the medication causes me to gain weight, and sometimes the only activity I can manage in a day is to eat. I’ve had to learn not to be bound by what society might say is beautiful, and recognise the beauty that I have. I also had to stop seeing myself as a victim. I’m not a victim to my illness. I’m a woman who fights her illness every single day.
We can’t control what happens in our lives. I can’t control the fact that I have this chronic illness. What I can do, however, is control how I respond to it.
This blog was written by Paul but dictated by Katie. For the foreseeable future, because of Katie’s illness, this will be a common format here at Chronically Katie.
Firstly, let me apologise for the lack of content on here over the last few weeks. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’ve been very ill for some time now. The ‘brain fog’ which is associated with my illness has been worse than ever. It’s got so bad that I’m struggling to read, or even listen to audio books. These are the kinds of activities which is usually fill my life with when I’m stuck in bed 24/7. The most worrying development associated with this has been that I’m seriously struggling to hold conversations. It’s not because I can’t concentrate, it’s because I literally haven’t been able to understand what people are saying. When my husband speaks to me, it’s like he’s speaking another language.
As you can imagine, these recent developments have made it impossible for me to write my own blog posts. That’s why Paul is writing this one for me. I’m relaying to him everything I want said, so this is still me, but he’s helping by putting my mumblings into sentences. This is going to be a common format for this blog over the next few weeks. I’ll let you know at the beginning of each post whether I’m writing it myself or whether Paul is acting as my scribe.
I’m not going to to let my illness beat me. I’m especially not content to let my illness stop me from doing what I enjoy. To get around this new wave of ‘brain fog’, I’m going to be making more videos on my YouTube channel. I’m really looking forward to exploring this alternative media format. I’ve already got a few videos on my channel. Please don’t forget to check them out and let me know your thoughts on them. I’m very new to vlogging, so it would be great to get some constructive feedback.
At the moment, I’m working a lot on creative outlets so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss anything.
Another exciting development here at Chronically Katie is that soon I will be announcing a competition giveaway. I will be revealing the prize in a later post, but what I can tell you is that it will be well worth your attention. The deal will be that only my subscribers can enter. Make sure you do subscribe to the blog now so that you don’t miss out later. You can subscribe by entering your email address into the sidebar tool. If you’re not sure whether you’re already a subscriber- do you get an email each time I post a new article? If not, then you’re not currently a subscriber.
Keep your eyes out, over the next few weeks, for more details regarding the giveaway.
As ever, thanks for reading, watching, and/or subscribing.
Love Katie x
A quick message from Paul: Knowing how much Katie loves to get mail, many of you have been asking for Katie’s address so that you can send her stuff. We haven’t been able to establish a P.O. Box yet, so we can’t publish her address online, but you can email Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org to request her home address. Getting mail from her readers always gives Katie a massive boost, so I can’t encourage you enough to get in touch.
So today is Friday which in the Davies household means date day! Every week Paul and I set aside at least one hour to do something fun together. We don’t have to spend the whole day together, but since it also our day of rest we can’t do *anything* work related. That’s not really relevant at the moment because we’re both to sick to do any university work anyway. Knowing that this is the one day we don’t have to feel guilty about not working though is a big bonus, it’s really brought back that Friday feeling we used to feel as a kids.
Today I woke up feeling awful, and I mean really awful. My arms were aching a lot and I felt completely exhausted. This isn’t really different from how I’ve been feeling for the last fortnight or so, but it just felt a bit worse this morning. As usual, I have no idea why since all I have done for the last week is rest. Anyway, my health having dictated that going out was off the cards, Paul and I agreed to revert to our secondary plan, a mug decorating date in our lounge. The plan is to get all of our duvets and pillows and make a big comfy fort to get me out of bed and then use Sharpies to decorate a mug to give to each other.
Even though this is a slouchy, not much effort, low energy kind of date purposefully, I still want to make an effort to look nice, in the same way I would have when Paul and I first started dating. Up until recently, I would have known that doing my hair and make up was off the cards and so would have just moped about my appearance. Now, however, I have begun to develop a low energy and pain make up routine that I can do even when I have bad days like this. Since writing out the routine and taking photos would not only take a long time but a large amount of energy I’m going to make a YouTube video instead. It will be uploaded to my YouTube channel soon so make sure you check back there, or even better subscribe so you definitely won’t miss it (never miss an opportunity for a plug.
I don’t think this video is only relevant to sick people though, I don’t see why a normal, healthy person can’t check out this video and use the routine when they’ve only got 10 minutes until they need to leave for work and they look a mess. Or, for someone, I’m especially thinking of young girls, who don’t need to wear much make up.
The whole routine only takes about 5 minutes but I’ve been doing a step, resting for a while, doing another step, etc, so that by the time it’s date time I’m not exhausted. What would you know I even managed to write this blog post. I wonder if it’s something they put in bronzer…
Love Katie x
If there’s anything you’d particularly like to see either here on my blog or over at my YouTube channel, then pop a comment below. I’ve already had some great suggestions but I’m always open to new ideas. Remember, it doesn’t have to be beauty related!
I’m still working on the new layout, but I’m getting there, don’t you think?
I had a couple of “good” days last week so I took the opportunity to escape the confines of my bedroom and head to the shops with my little sisters, mother-in-law, and Paul (who hates shopping). It felt great to get out, especially as I managed to bag myself some beauty bargains. I have been wanting to do more beauty posts and videos both on here and over at my You Tube channel.
Since I’ve been really unwell, beauty for me has become something that has not only made me feel more beaut-iful (check the pun), but also allowed me to have a better relationship with my body. I know that sounds a little bit like the painkillers have really started to turn my brain to mush but allow me to explain. When you’re in a lot of pain and you constantly feel exhausted you begin to see your body as a prison, I know I’m not the only sick person who feels this way, but I’ve found that when I started experimenting with make up, bath bombs, lotions, etc, I began to feel happier in my skin again. The feminist side of me screams, ‘but isn’t that just the media telling you need to look a certain way?’ No, it’s different, a subtle difference I’ll admit, but there is a difference. Beauty products and routines allow me to feel human by making the most of my body. I know that it’s not make up or body butter that makes me beautiful, but my skin does feel smooth and soft after my skin care routine. Very often, I’m in too much pain and too exhausted to do any kind of beauty routine and I’d choose being able to leave the house or spend time with people over doing my make up any day of the week, but when I can, I’ve come to love spending time looking after my body. Not to mention the fact that my body needs a lot more care than the average twenty-something year old because of my illness.
These are thoughts that have been whirling around in my brain for sometime now but it’s only in the last couple of weeks that they’ve developed into something more. While I’ve been stuck in bed I’ve been watching a lot of make up tutorials, and beauty product reviews/hauls on You Tube, and finding new beauty blogs to read. It wasn’t long before it became glaringly obvious to me that there was a big gap amongst the huge wealth of material out there. I couldn’t find anything devoted to making sick people feel beautiful, and more importantly, I couldn’t find anything for someone with limited energy and high pain levels. With this revelation was birthed a new feature – Chronically Beautiful. I’m going to fill the gap so that anyone in a similar situation to me can have access to tutorials and reviews to fit their needs. I have loads of ideas but to give you a sneak peek, you can expect to see a big MUA make up review video soon, and posts like 5 minute make up routine, and daily skin care routine coming soon.
For now, I leave you with my first ever haul video:
As I’m new to this stuff, I really value feedback, so please leave any thoughts you have in the comments box below or on my You Tube channel.
Love Katie x
P.s. If you are or know of any beauty companies who would be interested in sponsoring this new venture then please contact me at the usual email address (email@example.com).
FASHION is a whole other ball game, but one that I intend to play so check back here soon. Don’t miss any updates by subscribing by e-mail in the box to the right of this post and to my You Tube channel.
“You’d be forgiven for thinking that I’d abandoned this blog, but you wouldn’t be right, very far from the truth in fact. Although I have been working a lot on Chronically Katie in my mind, very little of it has appeared on your monitor because I’ve been too unwell. For the last two months I have suffered from one illness after another, aside from my usual chronic illness of course.”
Unfortunately this is as much as Katie has been able to write over the last few weeks. As she says above, Katie has been extremely ill for the best part of two months now. There’s been a real battle going on behind the scenes here at Chronically Katie. She’s winning the fight, but as with any war, victory is hard fought and there are have been many injuries along the way.
Katie has asked me to step in and catch you up on what’s been going on. Quite a few technical changes are taking place at the moment. I’ve been working on moving the site to a self hosted platform and there are going to be changes in blog layout and design. This is all very exciting, however, it’s taking it’s time because I have no experience in all this. I’m teaching myself what to do as I do it. We’re asking that you bare with us while these renovations are taking place.
On a positive note, Katie is hoping to do a video blog sometime soon, so keep an eye out for that. To make sure that you don’t miss anything, you can subscribe to Katie’s You Tube channel.
My final update is that if you wish to send Katie anything in the mail, you can request her address by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can send products for her to review, or something little to make her feel better when she’s so sick. She’s spending most days in bed so I know she’d love to hear from her readers. Feel free to send her anything from a postcard to a little gift. She loves receiving mail so it’s sure to bring a smile to her face.
Thanks for your patience,
Paul (Katie’s husband)