Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Why blog? A wonky thyroid, that's why!

I read a wonderful post today, by Fran of Skulls and Ponies - a great blog, with a fantastic name!

Fran talks about the identity of a blogger, finding your feet and your voice in a largely anonymous world, then about her reasons for starting her blog and about the question that I guess plagues most bloggers, "how much do I share?"

My road to blogging echoes hers in many respects and it got me thinking that whilst I will always protect the privacy of the people who share my life but not my blogging, I have nothing to be ashamed of how I came to be here and perhaps I shouldn't feel the need to hide it.   I shy away from writing about it because I never want to sound self-pitying; I can't imagine anything worse for anyone to read (myself included) than lots of self-pitying prose! But in reading Fran's wonderfully direct and honest posts, I found comfort and strength in seeing that someone else had "made good".  Perhaps I could use my experience to help someone else?  ..."Don't be so presumptuous darling!" I instantly say to myself!

That said... here goes.

A very dear friend asked posted this on Facebook the other day:

It's hard to explain to someone who has no clue. It's a daily struggle being in pain or feeling sick on the inside while you look fine on the outside. Please put this as your status for at least 1 hour if you or someone you know has an invisible illness (PTSD, Anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, Diabetes, LUPUS, Fibromyalgia, MS, ME, Arthritis, Cancer, Heart Disease, Epilepsy, Autism,M.D. etc.) " Never judge what you don't understand."

It means something to her to spread the message, and it means something to me to do so too.  To that list I could add my own personal favourite (for favourite, read nemesis) Hypothyroidism; then we can add his good friends Anxiety and Depression, just to name two!

Two years ago (there or thereabouts) it felt as if I was imploding.  Having been terrified of needles my whole life, my deepest fear was having an illness that involved blood tests. Suddenly I had this "life long condition", 4-6 weekly blood tests were the norm and at 35 years old I couldn't scream, cry and fuss as I had as a kid!  The initial thrill of having an explanation for how I had been feeling faded fast as the drugs worked for a couple of weeks and then had to be revised again.  The symptoms, for me, were all invasive, nothing seemed immune, and being rather stubborn I spent far too long fighting my body instead of listening to it.  This, combined with some external situations that arose, gradually led me into a spiral of anxiety, anger and depression.  I fought myself, thinking it was the way out and ended up fighting the people I loved in the process.

Luckily I have good people.  Very good people who kept the faith and have helped me through.  I chose therapy over medication and so getting to a healthy happy place again required a lot of thinking and it was as I was doing this that I returned to my love of stitching.  I should explain.  Some people with HT find that it greatly affects their mental function, I did.  At 36 I was unable to name the most simple, common objects (cutlery for example) without have to play word association or just wait till it came.  I would be halfway through a sentence and have no idea of what I was saying.  Simple maths and problem solving was sometimes impossible - hard for a lover of crosswords and Sudoku. Always a person with an "energetic mind" (thanks Fran), I found myself constantly overthinking.  Not about the sensible things (like what is that thing that cuts your food called) but instead I would get caught up in an endless anxious monologue.  Finding a space in all of this where I could think my way back to a healthier outlook was very hard until one day I saw some dolls I'd made for the 10yr old and remembered how I loved the thought process involved in making one.  I found something random to sew and gradually found that the thinking, if it didn't quite stop, did certainly calm again.  Sewing, for me, is a meditation.

As I found a calm focus, I found my real voice again.  I started a diary but it could become too introvert and I wanted a format which couldn't allow so easily for that.  Plus I was now making sure I did something creative at least once a day; it became an important lifeline for me and gave me such confidence.  I generally like to make things for other people and so a space in which I could document what I was making also became important.  A blog seemed a perfect outlet: a digital scrapbook/diary which could become a keepsake for the things I had made and a chance to talk, if only for and to myself.

I still can't always remember what that damned prong thing is called! but I am in a far better place and have a wealth of lovely things around me that I am proud of.  Including my little blog where opening up enough to share a "make, do or thought" has been, is, a good and important step.
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