January 7, 2020

New Year, Same Me

A long ramble to begin the New Year – don’t worry there’s pictures!

Happy New Year!! I can’t seem to write a blog post in one sitting these days so these were my thoughts on New Years eve:

As the New Year approaches, it is a time of reflection on the year that is almost over and the memories attached to it. It was my 28th birthday yesterday and I found myself thinking about where I was at in my life and what I still wanted to achieve. This led to a lot of self-criticism about career, finances, ambitions…I noticed I was focusing on what I HADN’T done yet rather than what I had achieved to date. I found myself thinking that in childhood I thought I would be married by now, have bought a house by now and be further in my career by now. I was generally focusing on the should-haves rather than the progress I had made throughout the year.

In school, each January after our exams, we had to attend Target Setting. This was a mundane task and completed in the same fashion as thinking of sins at confession – completely made up and the same every time. You set out that you would study every night and keep on top of your notes and ask more questions in class if you weren’t sure. These were all respectable goals and usually approved by the teacher. We were advised that these goals should be S.M.A.R.T. That is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time- Based. At the time I never paid much attention to them. Back then, I was always achieving as I should be and sometimes my goals would simply have been ‘I should continue to work hard to maintain my grade in English’ or whatever the subject was. For some reason, this popped into my mind today and I thought about its relevance for the present.

The New Year doesn’t have to always be drastic changes and long lists of New Year Resolutions. Sometimes, it can just be as simple as continuing to work hard and maintaining your good work. Of course there are always things we can work on, but sometimes we have to stop criticising and start noticing the positive changes we have made already.

Above – my top nine memories of 2019

Wait! I still have more thoughts! (written 2nd January)

This time last year, I was only beginning to try and attempt to manage my Narcolepsy. I lived in fear of my condition and maintained a victim role where everything that was happening to me wasn’t fair. I felt like I had no control over the direction that my life was going but crucially I decided that another year wouldn’t go past where I felt like this. 2018 was not a fun year for me but on New Years Eve last year I decided to remember the good in 2018. For all the bad that happened I decided that I would start seeing more of the good in my life. If there were bad parts that kept reoccurring I would do something about them rather than wallow in their unfairness.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

One of the first things I did for myself in 2019 was seek help for my anxiety. I knew that if I could manage my anxiety then I might also start to manage my Narcolepsy. When I was anxious I was sleepier and that was my main motive for making a change. By chance, The Red Dutchess put up an instagram story that she had a space for a 1:1 client via Skype. This sounded perfect to me as it meant I could access our sessions without even having to leave my home. I replied straight away and I was delighted when I had secured the space.

Caroline & I at the ‘Balance at the Beechhill’ event.

This act was the first positive step I made in 2019. Not only did I begin to grow as a person, I finally understood why I was the way I was and felt relieved that I wasn’t the only one. My advice is to make that first step in seeking help. Only you know how much you are struggling and my only regret it that I didn’t do it sooner. I am not equipped with the tools I need to manage my mental health. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have my fair share of down days, it just means that the anxiety doesn’t get to stay for as long. The nature of Narcolepsy made me feel out of control as I would sleep at random times and this in turn also made me anxious. The nightmares I experience on a daily basis also have an affect on my mood. If I have had a particularly violent dream where there is a threat to my safety I wake up unsettled and fearful as if this event has really happened. For example, a big trigger of anxiety for me is feeling like I’m losing control. As a result, situations in which I am not in control appear in my nightmares. This can range from dreaming my teeth are falling out to someone breaking into my house to smelling the smoke in the aftermath of a terror attack. I also feel privileged to call Caroline my friend now. I cannot articulate just how awesome she is, you should probably find out for yourself:

I would really recommend following her on Facebook and/or Instagram as a start as she has so many resources on there:

Instagram: @red_dutchess

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thereddutchess

https://www.replenish.online/

But I can cure myself…

No-one else lives inside your head and knows what your brain tells you on the daily. If something you were physically carrying was too heavy you would put it down so why do people carry all these struggles around that weigh on their mind everyday? I have nothing profound to say on this matter that you haven’t heard before…all I know is that I look back on my life before and wonder how I lived like that. How did I get up everyday when my anxious mind was mentally beating the shit out of me on top of coping with Narcolepsy? It’s not going to be a cure-all but you can at least be helped to find the volume button on it and turn that crap down..

Oh and also this blog wouldn’t even exist without Caroline’s encouragement so there’s that too!

Made By Jade Nutrition

The second thing I did which is closely tied with the first was to improve my nutrition. I spoke about this to Caroline and she recommended Jade Bradley of Restore Nutrition. For a long time I had noticed that my sleep attacks could also be triggered by food. I had observed the guilty parties which were mainly anything with unrefined sugar, alcohol and high carb intake. However, similar to my anxiety, I had reached the end of my tether in terms of the knowledge I had and knew I needed to seek the help of a professional. Jade was THE perfect fit for me and she worked to establish healthy habits which I would keep building on over time. This is also what I loved, it wasn’t a strict plan to start and placed importance on maintaining a few healthy habits first before adding on more improvements to my diet. It made more sense to me as you were more likely to stick to a few things for a month than completely revamp your diet, cut everything bad out and then relapse in a few months time. I felt that she was always there when you needed to ask questions and it was very much the guidance I needed. Her plans also included self-care such as taking Epsom salt baths to help my sleep and simple things like leaving the house for a walk 3 times a week. It was more than just a nutrition plan and considered the whole picture which affected my health. I followed Jade’s advise to the letter and when I didn’t like a new food she was quick to provide an alternative. She is fabulous at what she does and I couldn’t recommend her enough..I am also lucky to call Jade a friend now too 🙂 

This is no quick fix, you need to want to put the work in yourself. I think the problem with our society at the moment is that everyone wants everything instantly. I didn’t change overnight and become a health freak. It took months of working on my habit changes and to this day I still have to keep myself accountable. Over Christmas I definitely lapsed on a few habits but at least I know the groundwork has been done and no longer feel lost on where to start. I know the answers now and I just need to keep applying for the results I want. My nutrition has helped me to manage the symptoms of Narcolepsy. I went to Jade to help with my daytime sleepiness, energy levels and brain fog. Now, I am not saying that they are completely eliminated but they are so much more manageable than they were before. Your nutrition is so so SO important for managing a chronic condition. Basically, your body is already in disarray because of your condition – why would you want to make this worse by putting bad food into it which could compromise your health even further? Jade also got me onto Dr Ranjan Chatterjee, a doctor who has dedicated his life to showing the effects of nutrition on various illnesses. Similar with Narcolepsy and sleep disorders, doctors spend very little time studying nutrition despite the direct effect nutrition has on your health. This seems mad but it’s true. Now…I am not saying that Western medicine is not effective but I do believe that if you took care with your nutrition you would be less likely to develop certain illnesses. If ya don’t believe me check him out here:

P.S. I’m all for the vaccines too just FYI – this is not hippy dippy theories this is based on FACT and numerous academic studies proving the correlation between the two.

You can find Jade on Instagram as @madebyjade_nutrition and she also has a website:

https://www.restorenutrition.co.uk/

What am I trying to say here?

Basically, go take that step that you know will help you but you are putting off for whatever reason. But don’t fall for the quick fix, ‘follow this 6 week plan and your life problems will be solved’ crap. Real change and improvements happen when you make healthy habits and stick to them. Maybe you are like me and are reading all these new year new me bs posts. You can’t even walk into Sainsburys without seeing signs for fitness wear or go on Facebook without seeing ads for gyms. My advise to you is to make decisions based on what you feel you need this year not what society is telling you (and trying to sell you). Nobody else is you and what works for one person won’t work for another so please don’t measure yourself against what works for others. I am not an expert on mental health or nutrition, I just want to encourage people to seek professional help on both if they are struggling. There is a lot of instagram influencers and culture around this now but you really need an expert who will cater to you only and not just apply general principles. You need someone to see you and all your struggles and worries and help you unpack them.

Well that’s the first blog post of the year done and dusted…if you won’t listen to me on the above then maybe you will listen to Gerry Cinnamon:

This is the beginning of the rest of your life

You better start moving like your running out of time

The realisation coming over your mind

That it should be a canter if you could just find the answer

– Canter, Gerry Cinnamon

PPS

Forgot all about the New Years Resolutions but I suppose that was the point of the article in the first place. This year I want to continue to be myself basically…the age old ‘learn to swim’ is still on the list which I hope to tick off soon.

Some things I got into in 2019:

– the topics of this blog – managing my mental health and nutrition

-Podcasts – allllll over podcasts especially Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place, The Wild Expansion by Maire Patricia, Chloe Saffron…Jay Shetty… The Other Side of Perfect Joaane Larby. So many more but I can’t think right now.

– made use of my Audible subscription – you can consume books and therefore knowledge so much quicker.

– Started this blog and started raising awareness about Narcolepsy. This is my proudest achievement of 2019. I don’t need this blog to be huge I just want to reach one person and make them feel less alone and I will be happy.

-Watching self-improvement gurus such as Emma Mumford (this gal led me to so many others so I am especially glad I came across her), Gabrielle Berstein, Brene Brown, Amy Landino, Gary Vee. I really do believe in the Law of Attraction, call me crazy but just look at the people who believe in it and what they have achieved and come back to me.

With that, I am away to enjoy the rest of my day which I have decided to dedicate to my own self-reflection and planning before returning to work on Monday!

Ok so I’m still not done..

I’m happy to report I did spend the day reflecting and planning but returning to routine has been a STRUGGLE. My nightmares are worthy of an Oscar in terms of vividness and I have to work hard this week to stay in good form. I’m doing the opposite of what my ego is telling me and I am determined to post this blog tonight.

I left these dates in to show the progress of my blog. I have all these intentions to post twice a week and create as much content as possible. However, sometimes life (and Narcolepsy) gets in the way. I want to be completely myself and for this blog to reflect my personality. Sometimes I can chat the leg off a stool and other times I’m ok with not talking to everyone. My personality is very on the borderline of extrovert and introvert and I can be both in extremes. This means some days I post loads on Instagram and write lots and other days I don’t have the words to express what I am going through.

When writing the historical part of my story I can find some sections quite hard to relive. The saga of failing exams is one that I find difficult to revisit. I know I have to write them so I can move on and let it go. The length of time between blog posts is usually an indicator of how long it’s taking me to comprehend all that I write. I am almost watching my own life story for the first time and being equally as horrified as anyone reading it for the first time.

I also feel the need to emphasise that my blog is very much a work in progress. I still don’t have all the answers in managing my narcolepsy. This is my journey and not a prescriptive text for anyone else’s life. For a while I struggled to see how my blog fitted in with the others and this culture of instagram and instant access to people’s lives. In our modern culture of continuous content creating I have decided that I care more about being true to myself than what works for any algorithm. In the words of Ricky Gervais a the Golden Globes, I don’t care. What I do care about is reaching people that need to hear this story the most. The person that feels like they are stuck and their life will never change. The person that is struggling to deal with a chronic illness and doesn’t have anyone to turn to.

So yeah…the rest of the story is still being written and you get to follow the journey! Not sure if it’s gonna be a comedy, thriller or what but sure keep reading haha. Here’s a pic of me struggling to find which direction my life is going:

 

 

 

 

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