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. 

My First Blog – An introduction to The Faraway Girl

Hello to anyone who kindly takes the time to read my first ever attempt at a blog.

I will jump right in, I have been fighting chronic depression and anxiety pretty much my whole life, (or since around the age of 7 as my psychologist and I worked out). My cropped-img_20170304_105522_548.jpgreason for starting this blog is mainly because my facebook and instagram posts are starting to get so long, I’m going to run out of characters, soooo I thought maybe a blog would allow me to be more expressive and hopefully reach a wider audience.

Both depression and anxiety are very isolating illnesses and on top of that, I am disabled (Osteoarthritis in my spine) AND because some powerful magical being clearly hates me, I also have chronic fatigue syndrome.

For those of you who don’t know, CFS basically means I am eternally exhausted and the slightest activity causes me to need the Grandmother of all naps. It’s not really conducive to having a sparkling social life.

My life has changed hugely in the last three years since I became disabled following a fall. I used to be out several nights a week doing gigs as a singer/songwriter, I saw my friends as much as possible and was working full time. Currently I haven’t done a gig, played my piano or guitar or written a song since my back died on me.

I partly haven’t written any songs for so long because 4 years ago one of my close friends, took his own life. It hit me really hard as it came out of nowhere a couple of days before my 30th Birthday. I became suicidal myself following my friend’s death. Thankfully I asked for help and got it.

I was referred to the local mental health team, who arranged for me to see a psychologist and complete a course of Cognative Analytical Therapy.

I found C.A.T. to be so helpful. It was much more in depth than C.B.T. (Cognative Behavioural Therapy) which I had tried several times previously. We talked about my childhood experiences, which brought up some memories and realisations I had never thought about before. We discussed my family, how I relate to and make friends past and present, as well as romantic relationships. This all went towards creating a chart of compassion that I can refer to any time I need to.

The compassion chart is a circle of feelings. One feeling leads to the next and the next and shows you how circular anxious thoughts are and how they make you worse and worse until it can lead to a panic attack. Overlooking these feelings is a compassionate eye. This eye is there to remind you to acknowledge the cycle of feelings, but to be compassionate to yourself, give yourself a break and realise that you are not these negative thoughts and feelings, thereby breaking the cycle.

I have found it really useful, in particular when I ‘hear’ the anxious negative thoughts in my head, it reminds me to stop,tell them to shut up and realise that I am being awful to myself and I need to stop.

Finding myself disabled has hit me really hard too. I am still trying to work through it. It has triggered both my depression and anxiety and I have had to be signed off work for most of last year and all of this year so far. It has been so isolating, both not being at work and not being able to socialize either.

I am trying so hard to get through this, but I have good days and bad days. I recently came off my antidepressants to change to a new one, and it seems to have made a difference. I am really hoping it will help me get back to work and back to myself as soon as possible. I will be keeping you informed of my progress. 

Thank you for reading. This first installment is more of a background info blog more than anything. I hope you follow me as I try to figure this crazy thing called life out.

The Faraway Girl