Reviewing My 2018

Reviewing My 2018

Hello everyone, hope you’re all well and having an amazing start to the new year!

I know I haven’t written a blog post in A G E S, but I thought it’d be nice for me (and hopefully for you!) to write an end-of-2018 “review” I guess; what was great, what was awful, and everything in between.

Of course, one of the best things that happened in 2018 was that my book got published! It’s been surreal – from receiving my own copy, to seeing it in a book store, to getting so many messages from people I didn’t know, some of whom I now consider friends. I have every message saved, because I still go through terrible times, and when I do, those messages serve as reminders for why I did this; why I wrote the book, why I went through with publishing when it felt like sending my secret diary out into the world for anyone and everyone to read and scrutinise. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want my words out there – of course I do, and I want to continue writing for as long as I can – but mostly, I just wanted to help people. People with epilepsy, chronic illnesses, mental health issues, the parents, families and friends of people struggling, and all the people who might not understand yet. From the messages I’ve received, I think my book is definitely helping, and that’s what I am most proud of. I’ve written another blog post on the book, so I just want to say thank you so much for all the support, and keep reading!

There have been so many lovely times this year. Aside from my book launch celebration party, I’ve also had a surprise party, surprise visits, a little holiday with my family and gorgeous times with my friends. I was well enough to see my niece in her first ever dance show (see sweet pic below), and I got through my first radio interview, even though I was beyond nervous… But, with the good of course comes the difficult, and from hospitals, injuries and medication changes, to grieving and missing people, to developing an overwhelmingly intense, real fear of dying in my sleep, I’ve had a fair share of hard times, like everybody else. Throughout the year, I also found myself having to make some incredibly tough decisions; decisions that would affect other people as well as myself, and I never take that responsibility lightly. I thought about every aspect, and in the end, I think I made the right choices.

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Since March, I’ve been in therapy and my new therapist is awesome. It’s hard work – sometimes really hard – but I get to feel lighter, and my head feels a little clearer, and that alone is well worth it. I am learning a lot about myself, discovering the reasons why I am the way I am, and slowly learning how to control certain things, so that I can eventually lead a more content, peaceful life. For the majority of the time, I’m happy to open up about most aspects of my mental health. It can be daunting, but if nobody opens up, then nobody understands. If we stay silent, and others stay oblivious, and the stigma gets worse, not better. The world has come a long way, and that’s something everybody can be proud of, but we need to keep moving forwards. In saying that, there are a few things that I choose not to talk about publicly, because I don’t feel comfortable doing so, and that’s okay too. There are lots of small goals, in therapy and in life, but I guess they all add up to one main ideal, and that is to be happy.

> Feel free to let me know your best and worst times of last year, and how you dealt with them! You can do that by clicking here! <

Despite continuous seizures, my year came to a nice Strictly-happy, Christmassy end, and I loved our New Years Eve, playing board games and chilling out, watching the London fireworks at home with my family.

Thank you so much as always, and although I’m a week late… H A P P Y  N E W  Y E A R!

Love, Georgie xox

 

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Then & Now

Then & Now

Hello everybody!

So, I wasn’t originally planning to make this a blog post, but there is something I’ve been thinking about lately: how my old life compares to my new life (though it’s not all that new anymore – nearly 8 years!) Old me compared to who I am now. It’s not necessarily bad – certainly not all of the time – but I think about it a lot.

My ‘before’ life just doesn’t fit me anymore.

When I was diagnosed, I believed I was trapped. Which I am, to an extent. I started to idolise my old life because I thought I was free then. I thought I could do anything, and I took it for granted. Which, again, to a certain extent, is true.

My 17-year-old life is not, even the slightest bit, similar to my 25-year-old life. I know, so many people – ill or not – could say the same thing. The world has changed them. Life has changed them. Work has changed them. Love has changed them. A movie has changed them. I don’t know. But, I do know something for certain: I am not who I used to be. I’m not the same, and that life doesn’t fit.

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You know when you just don’t feel like doing something? No proper reason, you just can’t be bothered? Well, I hardly ever have that feeling anymore. I want to do it all, probably because I know I can’t. It’s a true phrase: ‘we always want what we can’t have.’

Sometimes, it can be hard to get through to people, even the most understanding souls, that I can’t do it all. Because I take tablets – multiple medications – that make me more tired than tired should be. Because I have seizures all of the time, and even if I’m not unconscious and convulsing on the floor, I could still be having them. Absent seizures. My brain is still playing up for the majority of my time. And sometimes, I’m probably not telling you (unless you’re my mum!) that I’m feeling ‘off.’ Because we’re having a nice time, and I don’t want to mess it up. I don’t want you to take me home, or feel like you should go home. So, I try my best to remember what you/we were saying or doing. I try to remember everything. Even if I forget it later – which happens a lot – at least I’ll know for now.

These are just examples, but I used to walk a lot. Alone. It wasn’t, like, a weird thing. I’m just often surrounded by people, which I enjoy and am so grateful for, but sometimes, I need a break. Pre-diagnosis, I could take that break. Now, I can’t.

Things need to be planned. It all takes thought and preparation. I need someone to be with me. I need them to have their phone, with enough battery to call 999, a rescue medication, water. I also need my inhaler. I can’t really go if it’s ridiculously hot outside. I can’t go if its rainy, stormy weather. Sometimes, getting sick can’t be helped. But, I won’t do anything that has a high chance of making me sick. Because then, I’ll have more seizures. I don’t like walking on main roads because if I have a seizure, everyone will see the commotion.

That’s what my life feels like sometimes. Those five words. “If I have a seizure…”

I used to go on public transport. I mean, I was never its biggest fan. I’ve always preferred the car, but I could jump on a train. Easy. Buses were harder because I just feel anxious on them. That’s without a brain disorder or mental health issues. But still, I could do them if I had to. Now, I can’t.

I can’t be guaranteed a seat, and I need one – if I’m going to fall, it’s going to be easier from a seated position. Again, I need someone with me the whole time, and again, they need a charged phone and a rescue med, and the confidence to administer it. They also need the ability to calm me down, because if a train is crowded (or even if it’s not), the mixture of fear, stress, that feeling of the walls caving in, the worry about if I have a seizure, how everyone will react if I do… that’s going to bring on a panic attack. Probably major. I’d be surprised if it didn’t. The motion on a normal train also makes me feel sick. Which makes me scared that I’m going to puke. Which also makes me panic.

I can’t just go out to eat, to the beach, to see a movie… I can’t just go to the gym. (If you follow my Instagram, you’ll know that I recently had a seizure on a treadmill. Scary!) I mean, I can’t even use the knife to chop up salad for our dinner tonight. But, I guess that’s a good excuse for never having to contribute to making dinner.

I know your (meaning whoever is reading this) life isn’t easy either. I know you might think I’m complaining too much. I’d say I’m not, but that would be wrong of me. I am complaining. Because it’s hard. It’s much, much harder than my 17-year-old self could ever have imagined.

I was writing this yesterday, late afternoon. Just to feel better in myself, because writing it down tends to help me. But, I got up to use the bathroom, and had 3 tonic-clonic seizures back-to-back, then 2 absent seizures when I finally came around.

The paramedics rushed me to hospital and were worried about the chest pain I was having. Turns out I’d hit that area during the fall. My neck and back twisted during the convulsing, and I have muscular damage to the left side of my neck, which means I can only move it so far before the pain stops me. I still have this kind of ‘numb’ feeling in a few of my fingers. I also have ligament damage to my right wrist.

Last night, I missed out on a family wedding party. Now, honestly, I wasn’t actually planning to go. My medication is changing, and I’m adjusting – mind and body – and I’m feeling ‘strange’ most of the time. So, as much as I’d have liked to go, it wasn’t the best choice. Still, I had a choice. But then, in the blink of an eye, I didn’t. And neither did my mum.

As down-hearted as this may feel, it’s not like that. I feel very very lucky. I feel like I must have some kind of guardian angel. Nothing can stop the seizures – not presently anyway (there is always hope!) – but something has stopped me from dying. I’m really sorry if that sounds blunt or horrible, but that’s the truth. That’s the worst-case scenario.

Today, I’m not feeling my best. Understandably. I’m tired. I’m in pain. I’m snappy, because of those things. I’m on egg shells. Like it’s going to happen again today. Later. In ten minutes. Right now…

Okay, well it didn’t happen right then, so that’s good!

I hope that if I really do have some kind of guardian angel, they can please let me have at least this one day, to rest. Most importantly, for my family to breathe. It’s not just me who goes through this. My closest people go through it for me too. I should probably remember that when I’m snapping at them…

Hope everyone is having a great weekend, and my next post will be super exciting! I have it all planned out, but I can’t post it just yet.

Love, Georgie xox

PS. My sisters brought me a goody-bag home from the wedding! Yay! They are #SisterGoals

“I Have Brain Zaps!”

“I Have Brain Zaps!”

Hello everybody, hope you’re all doing well.

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First of all, I know I haven’t written a blog post in A G E S. Hope you like my websites new beach hut theme! #SummerVibes

I have loads of ideas for future posts and projects, but lately, I’ve been super busy with things concerning my book, but also, I’ve been suffering quite a bit. That’s what this post is going to be about. So, here goes.

If you know me personally, you’ll probably know that I take multiple tablets every single day and every single night. For epilepsy. For depression. For anxiety. Then, there’s pain medication. Rescue medication. Preventer and reliever inhalers. Multi-vitamins.

It’s a lot. But, it’s a lot more than just taking tablets.

For the last few weeks, one of my medications has been in the process of changing. I very quickly started feeling like I was having electric shocks in my brain. There were gone almost as quickly as they came, but then they were back. Repetitive. I didn’t really think about it being a side effect, until the feeling became unbearable, and started affecting my arms and hands too.

I know doctors usually advise against googling your symptoms, but I’m glad I did, because I found out that the electric shock feeling was normal for my specific medicine, while it was changing. They call them “brain zaps”, which is a completely accurate description.

They weren’t exactly painful, but very alarming and almost constant, so it affected my everyday life. It stopped me in my tracks multiple times, and at night-time, they felt even more overwhelming, to the point where I couldn’t cope staying in the room on my own.

I mean, going to sleep is like the only time I’m completely alone. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, especially because I understand why it’s not safe for me to be on my own. But, these days, I actually like going to bed, because it’s often when I sort through my personal thoughts. I know that sounds kind of weird, but I just mean thoughts that aren’t about writing books and blog posts, and it is a time when I try not to think about my seizures.

So, that’s brings me onto seizures. My disorder is not under control, despite the religious taking of these medications, and it’s scary. The people around me always commend my strength and bravery, but sometimes, I don’t feel brave at all. I deal with it, because I have to, but dealing with it has never once been an easy task. My seizures feel relentless.

There are triggers I can avoid – alcohol, for example – but there are also triggers I can’t avoid (or, at least, I can’t always avoid), like my stress levels. The thing is, with my disorder being so rare, I’d still have seizures, even if I could stay away from any potential trigger. That’s a fact, not just a thought.

So, on top of these brain zaps, I’ve also kept on having seizures, and dealing with the aftermath.

I’ve been suffering other side effects too, but the more “expected” ones, I guess:

  • Headaches. Really really bad ones.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Shaking
  • Light-headedness. 
  • Diarrhoea – sorry to be gross, but yeah. 
  • Nausea. 
  • Irritability and changes in mood (I literally snapped at everyone, and I promise I’m not usually that kind of person!)

Together with seizures, this has stopped me from doing certain things lately. It has meant that I’ve let people down, which is a feeling I hate, but have to experience quite often. It has caused sleep disturbances, which is another thing my epilepsy doesn’t like. It has put extra pressure on my family, because I kept getting so frustrated at everything. It has stopped me from completing tasks and staying focused and having some semblance of a routine. My additional symptoms have had an effect on my mental health too, and that’s a part of me that is already fractured…

Okay, I’m going to stop now. I do realise this post has become a bit of a rant, and I’m sorry about that. But, it can be so hard sometimes. Overwhelmingly hard. At times, I find that people still think it’s just the seizures. But, it’s not.

I tend not to complain, and I always try to laugh about things, because the other option is crying my time away. No thanks. So, this is just an insight; a small part of all the things people don’t see.

As people, we are all so complex, and our problems are more intense than we probably allow other people to see. With that being said, my message is: if you want to let it out, just let it out!

It’s okay to complain sometimes. It’s okay to acknowledge that life is tough, that school/work is boring you senseless, that your child’s tantrums are driving you crazy, or maybe you’re a teenager, a bit mixed-up in the modern world, feeling like your parents just do not understand a n y t h i n g. (We’ve all been there!)

Go to someone you trust. Someone who lets you shout and scream, if that’s what you need.

If not, you can always contact me about it, by clicking here. I’ll be there for you!

(Who started singing the Friends theme tune then?!)

Love, Georgie xox

PS. You should also check out my gallery page, to see what I did to cheer myself up 🙂

Through The Eyes Of The Anxious

Through The Eyes Of The Anxious

Hello everybody!

Welcome to my third (and most difficult) blog post! I’ve considered posting something like this for a while now, but I always seem to talk myself out of it.

What if people think I’m attention seeking? What if it comes across like I’m sort of “capitalising” on my mental health battles? What if I’m laughed at? What if people don’t understand? But, that final “what if” was the one that made me want to do this. Because, really, why can’t I help people to understand? Why would I sit around, waiting and hoping and wishing that the general public will someday just “get it”, when I could be helping to achieve that?

Then, yesterday, something happened to me, and I thought I best do this now, while it’s still very raw in my mind. So, here goes…

A few years ago, I was at rock bottom. Mentally, I mean. The “lowest point” is different for everybody, and it probably changes with life experience too. I remember, in an episode of Friends, Rachel says “it’s like there’s rock bottom, fifty feet of crap, then me.” As bizarre as it may be to use a Friends quote in a mental health post, it’s pretty relevant here. At some time in life, you might reach a point where “lower” doesn’t exist. You’re at the lowest you can be. That’s where “the only way is up” saying comes into play. The problem is, what if “the only way” is stuck there? What if you remain stagnant, right at the bottom, watching other people live their lives as you become more and more riddled with fear and intense sadness, wishing you could be anyone other than you? Not fun.

It took a l o n g time, and a lot of nagging from the people who love me, but I finally accepted that I needed some help. I went to see my doctor, and was diagnosed with clinical depression and chronic anxiety. He also referred me to a therapist. Now, the depression side, I’ll go into some other time, but today, it has to be anxiety!

You see, despite the progress I have made (and will continue to make), and despite the multiple methods of help I have received over the years, I am still very much in this battle. And it is a HARD fight. That’s not to say I wake up every day feeling terrified to open my curtains (bearing in mind, I have been in that place before). There are times when I feel fine – pretty level-headed – and as ready as I can be to face what is ahead.

Now, since I have a unique set of medical circumstances, which make every day unpredictable, it’s pretty normal that I will always carry a bit of anxiety with me. But I’ve learnt that there is a huge difference between fearing a seizure, and fearing everything. That brings me to the events of yesterday.

I haven’t been very well, which is uncommon for me. I have seizures, and I experience side effects from my medications, but I don’t really get sick. (I’m lucky in that way!) So, I’m still not 100% and yesterday, I guess you could say I woke up on the wrong side of the bed! I still didn’t feel right. The cut on my tongue was still hurting from my most recent seizure. My hair was greasy. My face looked awful (redness, hormonal spots, acne scarring… if you are a teenager, DO NOT PICK YOUR SPOTS). Ran out of my favourite perfume. Hadn’t slept very well. Couldn’t find the top I wanted to wear. Irritable. Unintentionally snappy. I was basically hating on life a bit! I called a taxi because I was going, with my younger sister, to meet our Mum and older sister at the salon. Then, I lost some time…

The first thing I noticed was the unfamiliar surroundings. A man I didn’t know driving me to a place I didn’t know I was going to. I had no idea what was going on. Who is he? I need to get out of this car. I don’t know him. Where am I going? What am I doing? What is happening? By the time I’d realised that my sister, who can deal with these attacks like an expert at this point, was there and already trying to talk me around, it was too late. Had she not been holding onto me, I would have tried to get out of the car while it was moving.

Hysterical, I jumped out of the car as soon as it came to a stop, and she guided my jelly-legged self into the building. Still not able to comprehend anything, my older sister took me into a disabled toilet, where she talked calmly to me, and reiterated the breathing exercises I’ve been taught to use as a coping mechanism. Physically, during a panic/anxiety attack, I usually shake, pull at my hands and fingers, rock back and forth, my heart races and I feel like I can’t take a deep breath in. My speech can slur, and I repeat myself. Sometimes, I don’t make much sense at all. Most times, I do end up crying during and/or afterwards. (While it is possible to forget things, the absent seizure I experienced before yesterday’s attack was probably the reason for my temporary loss of memory).

Anyway, once I’d stopped sobbing, my sister helped me into a room with our Mum and younger sister, and our hairdresser and beautician – both of whom I know very well. (They have become real friends of ours, as well as making us look better!) I had a drink and sat on the sofa until I was felt calm enough to continue on with the day. We went to a supermarket, but I stayed in the car with Mum and we had a nice chat. Back home, I had a hot shower, ate one of my favourite meals and watched my all-time favourite movie with my family. Before bed, I wrote down everything that was on my mind (a simple yet effective way to clear your head!) and then, I slept.

This morning, I woke up and felt refreshed. I wanted so much to write this blog post, but I talked myself out of it AGAIN, primarily due to anxiety itself. But, one of my glorious friends talked me back into it. She reinforced all the positives, and made me see, as she always does, that there are people who want to listen. (Thank you Layla, my loveliest!) I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why I’m not brave enough to stand up and say “I’m not ashamed.” But, that’s the thing: I CAN be brave enough… and so can you!

This post is only a tiny fraction of my mental health journey, but I want you to feel free to message me, talk to me (or anybody you trust) if you’re experiencing any kind of mental health issue, or even if you’re having a bit of bad time and just want to vent, I’m here for you! I’m no expert, but I am a good listener.

DISCLAIMER: I have and will always recommend visiting your doctor/medical professional if you feel you are struggling with your mental health. Our minds need to be taken care of, just as much as our bodies do (maybe more in some cases). However, if you don’t feel ready to do that, then PLEASE open up to somebody, whether this be a parent, a sibling, a friend etc, or one of the great organisations out there, such as:

Samaritans (116 123 – www.samaritans.org)*

Mind Infoline (0300 123 3393 – www.mind.org.uk)*

SANEline (0300 304 7000 – www.sane.org.uk)*

The Mix (0808 808 4994 – www.themix.org.uk)*

and many more!

It is SO important to talk.

Love, Georgie xox

 

*Please note these are UK helplines/websites.