Back To Work

In February 2016 my spinal consultant told me he wouldn’t do the operation he had previously offered me to fuse two vertebrae in my spine, as he “thought I would regret it” and thought I was “too young”.

Having inherited my Mother and Grandmother’s stubborness I obviously refused to accept that as an answer. I sought out a second consultant who initially seemed very promising. I was told the op wasn’t off the table and was offered at least 4 other things we could try. 

I felt hope for the first time in almost a year. 

Sadly that hope was not long lived as, following an excruitiating experience involving getting six needles containing steroids and anaesthetic injected into my spine, (without anaesthetic or sedative) – an experience that failed to provide any relief – I was to again be told that my consultant was going back on his word. 

I was in his office for only 2 minutes, but in those two minutes my hope vanished along with any hope of living a life without pain. 

As you can imagine that hit me really hard. 

I have fought anxiety and depression my whole life and so it was inevitable that this event was to trigger both conditions in a big way. 

It in fact resulted in me having to remain off work sick for over a year and has been probably the fourth major breakdown I have experienced in my almost 35 years on this planet. 

As I mentioned previously, I thankfully have inherited a lot of stubborness (and strength) from both my Mum and Nana. 

I always underestimate how strong I actually am. Something I’m sure most people could say about themselves. This year I have proved it to myself. 

Things became pretty desperate financially – I nearly lost my home and my car – but it was at this, my lowest moment, that I found that light at the end of the tunnel and the strength I needed. 

Nothing was going to make me move out of my beautiful home, which I love, and I simply couldn’t survive without a car, being disabled and unable to walk far. 

This dire situation ignited a fire in me and helped me do what I had been desperate to do for months; get back to work. 

It wasn’t easy by any means. I was greatly helped by the fact my new anti-depressants which had recently been changed, were starting to take effect and were making a huge difference. 

I actually started getting excited. I had been on my own so much for so long, I was really looking forward to seeing my friends and colleagues and to being able to use my brain again. 

As is common when people have been off sick for a long time, it was agreed that I could do a phased return to work. 

The phased return was agreed between my gp, my employer, HR and myself. Starting with half days in my first week and increasing an hour per week over a 4 week period until I am back to fulltime hours. 

I have just finished my third week back, doing 5 hour days. 

I am so proud of myself. Only three weeks ago things were pretty dire. Now here I am feeling positive and loving being back at work. 

Everyone was so welcoming when I got back and I am so pleased that my new meds don’t give me anywhere near as much ‘brain fog’ as I used to get. Nor do they sap as much energy from me. 

I have found that I am getting back up to speed with my work, almost to where I was before my chronic pain condition. 

There have been moments where my anxiety has crept up, but that is to be expected. I have had weepy days, exhausted days and every day is a sore day, but I’m doing ok. 

I am doing ok. Three weeks ago I wouldn’t have dreamed I would be saying that! 

I even managed to go swimming after work last week. I adore being in the water and it is the only exercise I can do with my back. It felt amazing to be back there. 

For the first time in a long time, and despite some set backs and stressful situations, I feel good mentally. I’m exhausted and sore, but happy and beyond proud of myself.

Recovery is a constant thing where mental health is concerned, I am constantly working hard to stay ‘well’, and there are obviously things about my spine condition I have to work through still. On the whole though, that light at the end of the tunnel is looking closer and brighter than ever. 

Thank you for reading

Love, love, love

The Faraway Girl 💜



I’ve had a bit of a break from all social media for a week. Sometimes when my depression and anxiety get really bad, I find that social media exacerbates both conditions. 

I think it’s something to do with seeing everyone else’s lives continuing while mine is frozen, or sometimes their (and I’m not proud of this), seemingly petty or small problems they complain about. 

All the negativity, it just gets overwhelming and I can’t bear to look at it anymore

Last week was one of those occasions. I have been under a lot of financial stress with being on long term sick. It felt like my life was falling apart and I was like a robot that short-circuited and came to a standstill; my brain still ticking over, but unable to think clearly or solve any of my problems,and not in the least bit able to reach out and ask anyone for help. 

I think I have managed to solve things and it has meant making an enormous decision. I will need to be stronger than ever and push myself harder than ever. 

I have been reminded, however of something that, maybe I need to keep in mind at all times; I am not alone. 

I was never alone. I don’t have to face everything and cope with everything on my own. 

I have friends, I have family, I have friends who I consider family, and they are rooting for me and supporting me all the time. 

Even when my ill mind tells me they don’t care. Even when I don’t hear from them and my ill mind tells me no one is thinking about me. They are. 

Anxiety and depression both distort the way you view what people say, people’s actions, what people don’t say or do. They twist everything into a negative, self-bullying mess. 

I need to remember that it is not real. The negative distortion is not how people genuinely percieve me or interact with me. The thoughts that anxiety and depression put in my head are not people’s genuine opinions of me and are not what people are thinking. 

Living alone with depression and anxiety is hard. It’s all too easy to become isolated and to become consumed with the negativity in your head. 

Reaching out to people and asking for help is hard for anyone. Reaching out and asking for help as a person who has anxiety and depression is nigh on impossible. 

I would like to thank all of my supporters. My friends, family, followers on various forms of social media. Thank you for sticking with me, encouraging me, thinking of me and most importantly just for checking in with me and asking how I am doing. 

Recovery is a long process and I have a huge step to take, in front of me (I’ll tell you about that later), but I am sure I can get through this with your support. 

Thank you for reading

Love love love

The Faraway Girl 💜

Hermit had Fun! 

I had the best day yesterday. My body aches weren’t as bad, and despite my anxiety hammering away because I was daring the leave my hermit cave,I was excited to be leaving the house. 

I put on my gorgeous vintage, original 1970s maxi dress with the flared sleeves 😍💜 It makes me feel so pretty and it’s so feminine and flattering. 

It was exactly what I needed, since my my pain medication has made me put on a lot of weight. 

I have been a size 8 dress size my whole life, but since taking my pain medication I have gone up to a size 14. 

My boobs look fantastic 😂, but my stomach, not so much. 

It would be ok if I actually had hips, but because I don’t, I feel kind of like a blob. 

I know I’m not huge, but depression and anxiety affect the way I see myself. So at present I see a giant blob with a hag face when I look in the mirror. 

Yesterday in my beautiful dress and my hair and make up done, I didn’t see a blob with a hag face. I saw ME! For the first time in months it was ME looking back in the mirror and it felt so good. 

My friend and extremely supportive boss came to pick me up early afternoon and we drove around the corner to one of my favourite coffee places Penshaw Tea Rooms 

I am so lucky to live where I do. I live on an old estate owned by Lord Lampton . At one time it was called the Lambton Lion Park . Yes there were real lions in County Durham!

I am surrounded by stunning countryside and I love that my garden is full of beautiful birds,including Woodpeckers, Kestrals, and Sparrow Hawks. 

The estate also breeds Pheasants for the shoots they run, so there are always pheasants wandering about my garden, being noisy buggers, but looking very pretty. 

There is a family of rabbits that live at the bottom of my garden – my cat Moo unfortunately enjoys catching and bringing back to the house their baby offspring at this time of the year. – I have had to rescue four so far, three didn’t make it and I had to call the RSPCA to get another 🙁

I have put a louder bell on her collar in the hope it will stop her catching them. 

There are also some squirrels in the tree in next door’s garden. I love to watch them scurrying about in the trees.They like to sneak across my garden early in the morning and pinch the bird food from my other neighbour’s bird feeder. 

In late Summer the squirrels can been seen running across my garden on two legs, carrying ripe apples in their forepaws, that have fallen from my neighbours apple tree. 

My garden 💜

When we arrived at Penshaw tea rooms (which is underneath Penshaw Monument ), my friend was in awe of the beautiful surroundings. 

The cafe includes a small nursery and they also sell some gorgeous animal wood carvings for your garden. 

My friend and I sat with a coffee and had a gorgeous lunch of panninis (his sweet chilli chicken, mine was BBQ pulled pork and cheese).

The panninis were crispy, stuffed to the brim and came with salad, coleslaw and crisps. They were gorgeous! 

We followed up with some cake. I don’t know what it was called, (they have a huge selection), but it was delicious! It was sort of bits of Mars bar, with chunks of meringue and a toffee angel delight style filling. 

It. Was. To. Die. For! 

We must have been there for about three hours. We talked about how I’d been feeling on my new meds. Somehow we got on to my wild late teens and twenties and the 90s. How I spent the Millenium New Year at a dance party at the Millenium Dome in London.

Me aged 19 clutching my Zippy backpack 💜


I’ve done some crazy and silly things in my time, it was so much fun to reminisce. 

My twenties were far from perfect – I was very ill and had a complete break down at the age of 19/20, not the best start – but somehow even that terrible time is now surrounded with the warm glow of past memories. 

Talking about those times, made me smile, laugh, and feel a teeny bit sad too. After all they are mostly things I am unable to do now. It was a good thing overall though. 

It was so nice to laugh and talk for few hours, and in such a great setting. I am so, so lucky to have a boss, and a friend as supportive with my health as he is. The company I work for have been so amazing too and I know how very lucky I am. A lot of people aren’t so lucky to have that support. 

Yesterday was so positive. I am hopeful it will continue. 

Thank you for reading

Love love love 💜

The Faraway Girl

Hermit Leaves the Cave

Me (on the left) at my besties’ Wedding last year (2016)

I have been off work on and off for the best part of a year with my mental health. 

It was all triggered by first one, then another Consultant telling me there isn’t a fix for my chronic back pain, and that I will be in pain for the rest of my life. 

As my pain is caused by arthritis and two discs in my spine that have disintegrated completely, the condition will get worse as I get older. 

I have to walk with a stick currently, and I don’t know if I will end up in a wheelchair by the time I am 50.

I am 34 now, single, living alone and I feel like my future is a black hole of uncertainty. 

People say, “Well everyone’s future is uncertain, anyone could end up in a wheelchair.”

Yes that is true, but the chances are more in your favour that you won’t, whereas they are more in favour that I will. 

Not to mention the fact that regardless, I will spend the rest of my life – barring a miracle cure for arthritis – in pain. 

I am not able to walk far at all and any movement causes me a lot of pain, even with the morphine and pregablin painkillers I am on. 

Obviously the news hit me pretty hard. Until that point I had hope that there was something the consultant would be able to do. I felt like my hope had been taken away. 

Consultants in my experience care only for their specific part they are working on. For example, I had injections into my spine, (anaesthetic and steroids),and they didn’t work. The consultant wondered why I was sobbing hysterically when he told me there was nothing more he could do, (despite the fact he initally offered at least 4 treatment options we could try). 

Well, the reason was that not only had he just told me I would spend the rest of my life in excruciating pain, but I realised, that, or felt that, my life was effectively over. 

After all, who would want to date someone who is constantly in pain, hardly able to walk, constantly exhausted, so spends all of their time sleeping?Who would want that? I can’t go on typical dates. I have to plan everything ahead if I go anywhere. It’s not exactly an inviting situation to enter into. 

That also meant in my head that I would never have children, probably never get married and would end up dying alone and in pain. 

That all flashed through my head as he told me this, that and the fact I am struggling now. I can’t manage the housework, I can’t manage to cook properly (which I love), I struggle getting dressed and having a bath (I don’t have a shower), I am struggling at work, how long will I be able to work? How will I afford to live when I am forced to stop working? 

All this went through my head in true anxiety sufferer style, and he sat and asked me why I was crying!

I have been working really hard trying to come to terms with this. It has helped talking to people in the same situation on Instagram. I really could do with a therapist who specialises in people with chronic pain. Even if there was a support group for people my age being told they are disabled. I have yet to find one and my doctor didn’t know of one. 

I have been mostly housebound for the majority on last year and this year so far because of this. 

Depression hit me hard and my anxiety has been so bad, that at times I have been unable to leave the house for weeks at a time. 

Occasionally I manage to get the courage to go out. Usually out of necessity. 

My new anti-depressants have boosted my mood and lowered my anxiety levels, so when I have been well enough (see previous article), I have tried to get outside.

So, I am meeting my boss for coffee this afternoon. I am really anxious about it, but at the same time, I am looking forward to going out to one of my favourite cafés and catching up.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I will continue fighting and trying to get my life back. 

Thank you for reading

Love love love

The Faraway Girl 💜

This is me age 26 doing a photo shoot for my photographer friend 💜

Me around age 28 playing guitar at a friend’s acoustic gig.