Navigating Mental & Physical Health

Navigating life with any type of physical or mental illness can be tricky, working out what works best for you is usually trial & error. But what if you have both? How on earth do you manage them both?

Often mental illness can be a symptom or side effect of having a physical one. My diagnosing GP during my monthly check ups when I was first told I had M.E would always ask about my mood & how I was doing mentally with my diagnosis. Now, I have had experience with Depression, Anxiety & Stress on & off since my teen years, although I've never been so bad as to need medication. {I do now take calms to help my Anxiety, OCD} So over the years I've learnt to recognise the signs when my mental health is on a downward spiral.

Now before M.E called a halt to much of my physical activities, during my mental down times, I would either get out in my car, work out, take our dog or the neighbour's dog for a walk or head up to the stables for some horse therapy. Basically being outside {Eco Therapy} or around animals would be great pick me up!

Now all of those things would cause a worsening in many, if not all, of my M.E symptoms. Then on the other hand, the endless days being either in bed or house bound can have massive impact on my mental health although being extremely beneficial for my physical health. A good thing for one can often be detrimental to the other.

So finding the right balance can be difficult & finding what doesn't impact one or other too much can also be tricky! Taking the time to figure out & even note down what has a positive & negative affect on your mental & physical health, if you have both to deal with, will really help you find a good balance. Here's a few things I have found beneficial & that don't massively impact one more than the other, {unless I major over do them!} that you might be able to adapt to your own situation:

Fresh Air & Sunshine:

Fresh air is extremely beneficial for us; it cleans our lungs out, can strengthen the immune system, helps with digestion plus numerous others things.

Stepping outside & being amongst nature & hearing the birds can do absolute wonders for your mental health, as can all the Vitamin D you soak up if it happens to be a rare sunny day; well rare if you're in the UK like me. Even if a little wander around your own back garden is all you can manage, it can help centre you, calm those anxious thought spirals & lift your mood if depression is taking hold.

Getting fresh air can be a tricky one when you have a physical illness like M.E, as most people think of "getting fresh air" as going out for a walk & that may do more harm than good for a physical illness. So do I get my fresh air fix?

The view from my comfy sofa.

If I'm too unwell to leave my bed, I try to open my window a little bit just to get some fresh air in my room. If you live on a noisy street & suffer with noise sensitivity, some ear plugs might be a good idea, that way you can still get some air while limiting the attack on your auditory senses. I struggle with ear plugs personally, but I've figured out when my street has "quiet times" & take advantage of them when I'm in my room so I can open my window for a short period of time.

If some days, you are able to make it downstairs, sitting by your open front or back door is also a nice way to get some fresh air. Even if 10 minutes is all you can manage, your mind & body will thank you for it.

Read a Good Book: {Paper or eBook}

It can be a struggle to read a book if you're mentally or physically unwell, concentrating on the words can be difficult. However, on the days when the brain fog isn't too bad, reading a good book can be a great way to distract yourself from the pain you might be feeling, physically & will help you find some escape from the anxieties you may be feeling. Even if just a few pages is all you can managed, then that's perfectly okay & you'll likely find even just a short rest bite will help you mentally.

Small selection of my books - trust me there's lots!

I know holding a book or a device for a while can be hard if your chronic illness has played havoc on your physical strength. So make sure if you are reading, don't do it for too long that you cause your arms & hands to be in pain, that would completely defeat the object! You can find some great book holders online which might be worth investing in if you want to read longer but pain restricts you.

Watch a Favourite TV Show or Film:

Like reading, watching a TV show or Film is a good way to distract yourself & find escape in the things you have to cope with daily, whether mental or physical issues. Sticking to something familiar, that you've seen before will help if you struggle with Adrenaline intolerance. Watching something you've never seen before, especially a highly tense, emotional, action or suspense Film/TV Show won't help you physically if it kicks off your Adrenaline, it'll likely make you feel much worse. Even the information from my M.E clinic recommends sticking to familiar Films/TV Shows.

So curling up under your duvet or favourite blanket, cuddling your pet {if you have one} with a cup of tea & some snacks, will have a low impact on your physical health & a good one on your mental health.

Get Creative:

Creativity comes in a number of different forms; painting, drawing, writing, crafting or Photography to just name a few. Creativity can be hugely beneficial for your mental health & has been proven to relieve stress, increase & renew Brain function, improves your mood, & can help you become more social by connecting with others who are creative.

Of course when you have a physical illness, you are likely to be limited in the form that your creativity could take. You don't want your creative time to make you feel worse, so listen to your body & do only what you can do.

Colouring = relaxing

Colouring is one thing I really enjoy doing & have found it's not too much of an energy stealer. There's so many great colouring books around too that you'll be sure to find one that suits you. As well as writing for here, my main source of creativity comes from Photography & has done since I was a child. Yes it can be a very high energy activity, so time limits have to be set when I decide to pick up my camera & I only do so on my better days & usually stick to photographing things around the house or the garden. Every shot has to count as well as the energy I'm spending must be worth it! Although, I'm going to be in pain & highly exhausted in the days to follow, moving my body & stretching my muscles also helps them & slows down the muscle wastage a bit {one can hope always}

But there are aspects to Photography that aren't as high energy that still allow me to be creative & that's in post processing. Once photography began to go more digital, I found I enjoyed tweaking & playing around with the photos I'd taken. Today there are so many free apps that you can use to edit your photos & play them to look any way you want & the best way is to simply download some & start playing with the options they give you.


Music is another way to help your Mental health while having little impact on your Physical Health {as long as you do it on a day where your sensory system isn't feeling too overwhelmed of course} since you can do this from the comfort of your bed & there are plenty of health benefits to play your favourite tunes!

Listening to Music can help you feel happier, lowers stress, can help you sleep better {if you listen to smoothing music at night} can help reduce Depression & Anxiety {depending on the type of music} can strengthen your learning ability & memory, can increase verbal intelligence {something I can vouch for, my stutter improves when I've been able to music & sing a little bit} & many more benefits!

Music + Editing = My Happy Creative Place!

Personally, I adore music & singing. I learned to play the piano & read music from the age of 7 & learned the Violin for a short time while in High School  {I can no longer play due to my hands being in pain} Music for me now is a form of therapy, like I mentioned above, I find it helps reduce my stutter & calms me down so much when I'm feeling anxious. I also listen to music to help me get into my creative headspace when I'm editing my photographs. Yes I admit sometimes I do cause some major sensory overload {sorry brain!} but at the same time I can feel the mental benefits of Music for sure!

So those are just are just a few ideas of things I enjoy doing; how much time I spend doing any of them ultimately depends on how I am physically as this is the main way I will be impacted negatively if I overdo any of them! So when considering any of these & you have both Physical & Mental health issue, always listen to your own body & do what works for you!

I've found it's all about balance & making sure that whatever you choose to do will be of benefit to both your physical & mental health. Also I understand that there are a lot of factors to think about regarding the impact all these things on your physical health especially; Brain fog, noise, light, touch, smells, level of exhaustion & pain plus many more things all need to be considered.

Hopefully, there are somethings here that you are able to have a little go at & hopefully they'll help you both Physically & Mentally. If you have any other suggestions of things you have found that can help you, please do leave a comment below!

I hope you are all as well as can be & are taking care,

L x

Dear Chronic Illness - Book Review

My lovely friend Pippa Stacy released the book earlier this month called "Dear Chronic Illness" via her amazing fundraising project Spoonie Survival Kits. It's a compilation of letters which have been written by 16 absolutely amazing women, including Pippa herself. These women all live with different chronic illnesses, some with multiple conditions, which the letters are written to. Each letter gives an incite to how the chronic illness has affected them & their life & what they manage to achieve in spite of the limitations the illnesses put on them.

So from the subject matter, I'm sure you'd expect this book to be quite a downer & maybe a negative read? Well it's the complete opposite! There are some funny little moments & each letter overall has a feeling of positivity & acceptance to them. There's expressions of gratitude for the lessons they have learned from being chronically ill & how it has shaped them as a person, while being completely honest about the difficulties that come with having incurable, lifelong illnesses.

The book itself is an easy read & I mean that in terms of each letter isn't long & the print in the paper copy is a nice size. If you are thinking of reading this & have a chronic illness, you'll no doubt find points in many of the letters relatable & they may make you feel a bit emotional, I know I did. {I basically had a box of tissues sat beside me every time I read some!} The ones that had the biggest impact on me & my sensitive emotions were the ones addressed to M.E as that is one of the illnesses I live with & I could really relate to the experiences being shared in the letters by my fellow M.E Warriors.

Dear Chronic Illness. Image provided by Pippa Stacey.

It was that reason that, as much as I wanted to read this book nonstop, I took it a few letters at a time. This meant my emotions didn't get the better of me & my adrenaline didn't kick in unnecessarily & make me feel really unwell. One thing I realised reading some of the letters was that while I'm well versed in my own chronic illnesses, there are a number that I don't know fully about, so I found the letters on those illnesses quite informative & found there were some aspects that were still relatable due to similarities between illnesses.

This fact made me think just how good this book would be for anyone who either knows of someone with a chronic illness or wants to be more informed about life with one. I feel for those people, this book would help them gain a little incite & hopefully move them to find out more & maybe be a little bit more understanding or considerate of any one with a chronic illness they may come into contact with. It would definitely be a good education tool!

I really loved reading Dear Chronic Illness, it is such a thought provoking book & reading a little bit each night made me really think about each letter I had read & made me analyse the relationship I have with my own chronic & even mental illnesses & what I would write to M.E, Hypothyroidism, OCD & Anxiety. In time I may even write that letter & share it with you all.

Dear Chronic Illness - The eBook version.

After finishing the book, I was left wanting more & so I decided to look up the wonderful ladies in this book on Social Media. I'm already friends with 5 of them & have since followed the others either on Twitter or Instagram. All of them are wonderful & inspiring so if you want to know who they are & more about them, you can do so here.

Another really nice touch that I want to mention & actually reminded me of what John Green did at the end of his book, Turtles All The Way Down, is that at the back of the book, Pippa has included information for the projects & companies mentioned in some of the letters along with websites that have information about the chronic illnesses featured in the book. There's also information for The Samaritans & Scope {both for U.K.} which are organisations that can be so helpful if you are struggling with both mental & physical illnesses.

Pippa has also thought to include the Social Media hashtags: #spoonie, #chronicillness & #disability. These can really help you connect to others that are also living with chronic conditions. This is such a caring thing to do & is so important because chronic illness can be extremely isolating, especially if you're housebound or bed bound. Personally, I value this aspect so much & have made so many wonderful friends on Twitter & Instagram who just get what you might be going through. They are there to cheer you on & celebrate your little victories & offer a "me too" when things aren't going so great & help you feel less alone in the world.

Dear Chronic Illness - The Paperback.

I really do encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this wonderful little book or if you prefer, you can also get an eBook version. I have both as I preordered the eBook but then on publishing day, I ordered the Paperback as I not only prefer actual books, but I also struggle to read books on screen & find I can't read for as long as I can when reading from an actual book. {I guess I wouldn't finish my books too quickly if I swapped to eBooks haha}

So now I've hopefully convinced you to get a copy, you're probably wondering where you can pick up one... Well I'll make this easy for you, all you need to do is hit the link below & order your copy from Amazon:

Buy Dear Chronic Illness Here
{You can choose either the Paperback or eBook version}

If you'd like to find out more about Pippa & seriously you should as she's a wonderful person! You can have a browse of her website & blog:

Life of Pippa

If you'd also like to find out more about Pippa's fundraising project, Spoonie Survival Kits, you can do that here:

Spoonie Survival Kits
{While you're there, why not treat yourself or someone in your life to a Survival Kit}

Image provided by Pippa Stacey.

So there we have it, that's my thoughts on Dear Chronic Illness - in a nutshell {not literally as I'm allergic!} this book is AMAZING!

I hope you are all as well as can be & are taking care, especially if you're in the U.K. right now & enduring the heatwave! {I know it might not be as hot as some places but our houses are built to keep the warmth in & don't come with air conditioning as standard!}

Take care & as cool as possible,

L x

BearHugs Gifts - Review

*This post contains an Affiliate link*

BearHugs Gifts has been hands down one of my favourite small businesses for quite a while & I realised that although I have mentioned them in the odd post before, I have never sat down & written a proper review of them. So I thought I'd change that as I feel like everyone should know about it!

BearHugs was started by my lovely friend Faye Savory. I "met" Faye not long after I ventured into the chronic illness community on Twitter & Instagram about 4/5 years ago now, when both our health had started to decline. You can read Faye's story & more about how BearHugs came to be here but the quick overview is that one of our other lovely friends, Sophia, sent Faye a "care package", which planted the idea of what is now BearHugs into Faye's mind. She is supported by the Prince's Trust & with their help, BearHugs has grown so much over the few years it's been going that Faye now has a small team helping her.

The boxes have ARMS! 

The whole premise of BearHugs is basically to help you brighten up someones day or send someone a gift or care package no matter the occasion or even as a "just because.." random act of kindness. You can choose between "Ready - To - Go" BearHugs or Cub Hugs, which a boxes set around "themes" such as pamper items or ones full of chocolate goodies for the chocoholic in your life!

If you prefer your BearHug filled with more personal items for the person you're sending it to, then you can use the "Build Your Own BearHug" option, which is the one I use most. This shows you every single item that you can include & all you have to do is click on it & add it to your BearHug. The items range from skin care products, chocolate, candles, colouring books, things for children & the newest & maybe my favourite addition... Books!

Books are definitely my favourite item when I want to treat myself!

Just a side note; if the person you're sending your BearHug to has any special dietary needs, such as Gluten free, you'll find a number of very delicious options are available for them {I definitely recommend the Dandelion Cocoa chocolate bars, many of which are Gluten, Nut & Dairy Free & the Prewett's Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits}

You can even add in a personalised message to make your gift extra special!

Another great thing about BearHugs is that Faye has worked hard to source items that are either locally made to her or UK made, which means when you buy from BearHugs, you are supporting multiple small businesses including BearHugs themselves.

So what if my friend/family member lives in a country far far away?

Well if they live in Ireland, Europe, the USA, Canada or Australia, then you can still send them a BearHug. If your friend/family member doesn't live in these countries, you can contact Faye & her team via email & they may be able to sort out something & get your friend's BearHug to them.

While we're talking about delivery, another nice thing is that you have the option to send your BearHug straight to your friend/family member or you can have it delivered to your address & then you can personally give your BearHug to them yourself.

A selection of the yummy treats you can include in your BearHug

Each BearHug is lovingly packaged in one of the cutest boxes you will every see & your message will be written on an equally as cute card! Every item is well packaged & I've never had anything arrive broken. The delivery for the U.K is quick & I've found my BearHug's usually arrive within a couple of days from receiving the confirmation email & you are informed of every step up to your BearHug being sent off to make the person you're sending it to feel extra special.

Communication is one thing Faye & her team are really wonderful at, so if there's an issue with any of the items you have chosen for your BearHug, you'll receive an email about it straight away. This recently happened to me, one of the items was out of stock & I had an email from Sian letting me know & giving options of similar items. It wasn't long after I replied to the email, that I received a dispatch email! That is how efficient this wonderful team are!

So if you're looking for a more personalised gift to brighten up someones day or to say congratulations on that new job or passing exams, then I really do recommend giving the BearHugs Website a browse & send that extra special person in your life, an extra special gift!

Or you can even treat yourself! {Not gonna lie, I've done this too!}

I hope everyone is having a lovely, kind day.

Take care,

L x

12 Months of Rest & Self Care

The last few of months contained a couple of "it's been a year since..." markers & they honestly came & went quietly. Though in my mind they were met with the same mixed feelings many of us who are chronically ill have about the "... years since being diagnosed" or "... years since I became sick" months or dates.

The first "year marker" was for all the Herxes I went through. I remember that time as if it happened yesterday; the fear, anxiety & the pain I experienced were all at a level that I never want to experience again! It's definitely something that will live with me for a long time to come, especially since it left it's mark... It's been a year & I still stutter & stammer! {If you've recently found my blog & want to read about my Herxes, then simply click here for Post 1 here for Post 2 here for Post 3 } The only positive impact they had on my health was that my muscle twitches, being caused by the Epstein Barr Virus stopped, though in the past couple of months they have started again, {that's when I realised I hadn't any for a long time!} I lived almost a year free of them! So despite almost killing me, the Essence my ex-specialist overdosed me on did what it was made to do! Kill a lot of the Epstein Barr Virus!

Embrace the quiet & calm that goes with having a good old cup of tea!

Speaking of ex-specialists... It has also been a year since my last Bioresonance session. There were a few things that went on behind the scenes which added to my decision to stop having it, but they're more private. My plan was to take a break for a few months but then when the "behind scenes" things happened, I decided to stop completely, which I spoke about in a post at the time {Click here to read } I later sold the machine I used for my home treatment as well. My health certainly hasn't declined in anyway that I can tell from not having it, nor has it gotten any better. {other than the rise of the muscle twitches & stuttering - that one is the Herxe's fault more than the Bioresonance.}

But here's the thing, the impact of the Herxes definitely took their toil on my body & I was even more exhausted & in desperate need of rest. Yet, I still did things! Case in point: I headed to Edinburgh for a week only a couple of Months after them. Granted I spent most of that week either on the sofa or in the bed at the apartment we stayed in, but still, looking back it was a pretty stupid thing for me to do! {I will just say, the trip was booked BEFORE the Herxes happened & I was determined to get there!}

I've basically carried on as if that massive health impacting thing didn't happen & now a year later, I am feeling still just as exhausted & like everything is a bit of a struggle. Overall, I'm feeling a bit run down, which is probably why I ended up with a month long chest infection recently. In hindsight, looking back over the past year, although I didn't go crazy & do loads, I mean, come on I have M.E, it's not like I can run marathons {although that's how I feel after everything I do!} I did try {& sometimes failed} to do a few extra "big" things, to which my body said NO!

So dealing with chest infections, allergies & eczema flares these past couple of month, I've decided that from now, I'm on a year of rest! I have three days coming up in July that I'll be away for but apart from that, I'm seriously limiting the amount of activity I will be doing & there will be very very few "big" activities. Pottering around the house & getting some fresh air in the garden, maybe taking the odd photograph, will now become my "big" activities.

View into my garden

I am very aware this will have an impact on my Mental Health, which is why every few months I'll try & have an afternoon going somewhere so I can get completely away from the house, even if it's just sitting in the passenger seat while my mum drives & does some errands. To help my Mental Health I'll be trying to make more time for very low energy self care - whether that's curling up with a good book for a little bit, doing a small amount of study, editing the odd photograph or writing a post for here or my Photography Blog to get my creative juices going!

So basically after all that rambling the point I'm making is that these next 12 months will be dedicated to self care, both mentally & physically, giving my body the rest it needs to recovery from the past 12 months, well I guess actually from the past 4 years of full on treatment. I know it's going to be hard as even after almost 5 years of being diagnosed with M.E & my GP at time telling me slow down, I still have a "keep going" "push through" mentality & maybe by being even more conscious of needing to rest will maybe, hopefully, change that a little. I'm not hoping for a miracle, I've had that mindset longer than I've severely ill! {which is one of the many reasons why I'm likely so ill now! *queue massive eye roll!}

I'm learning to appreciate sunsets from my bed rather than on the beach!

But that's a rabbit hole of thoughts I don't have the time or energy to go down, not that I really want to anyways! Okay time to stop typing, drink my green smoothie, take my medications & then settle down ready to take in all the wonder that is Apple's WWDC event!

I hope everyone is doing okay & taking care.

L x

Blue Sunday 2018

In my M.E Awareness a couple of years ago I mentioned Blue Sunday, but in case you haven't  heard of Blue Sunday, let me explain what it is...

Blue Sunday was started a few years ago by my lovely pal & fellow M.E sufferer Anna, who holds a tea party to help raise funds for the M.E Association & to also raise awareness of this awful disease. It takes place on the nearest Sunday to M.E Awareness Day, the 12th May & this year that was the 13th May. Also this years Blue Sunday was a special one as it was dedicated to a young girl named Merryn whose life was taken by severe M.E last year. She would have been 22 years old on Sunday.

Copyright Anna Redshaw

The great thing about the Blue Sunday tea party is that there is a virtual element to it so for anyone too poorly to travel to the venue, you can still join in by taking & posting a photo of yourself enjoying tea & cake with the hashtags #BlueSunday #TeapartyforME on your social media sites & also on the Blue Sunday events page. It's the only day I ever take a photo of food because it's for an incredibly good cause!

This year I mentioned to my mum about holding our own little tea party to help raise donations for Anna & have a sort of "open house" for family to come along & maybe even watch the Unrest documentary. But then I was struck down with a chest infection & all the food allergy/eczema issues & the idea of having lots of people around wasn't the best as it would be simply too exhausting & painful for me. So we decided that mum, dad & I would have our own little tea party without anyone else; but then my mum did something amazing!

Copyright Louise Elizabeth Shepherd

Unbeknown to me, on M.E Awareness Day, she sent a text around our family telling them it was M.E Awareness Day & told them about Blue Sunday & how we were going to have a tea party but unfortunately I was too ill to have everyone here, so if they'd like to support the event, they could send us a picture of them enjoying tea & cake & also send us a donation that I could then send to Anna!

I was incredibly touched by this & even more overwhelmed on Blue Sunday as the pictures slowly came through with the promise of a few donations! M.E is a very isolating disease & as such family & friends often drop off the radar & that leave you feeling kinda abandoned, which is why the online M.E community is such a lifeline to many of us!

My family's "Blue Sunday" tea & cakes {all copyrights go to the individuals who took the photos}

But a number of my family came through for me & I am so grateful for that! So I want to say a huge thank you to my Dad, my brother & his wife, my sister & her husband, my eldest niece, my eldest nephew, his wife & their daughters, my nephew & his girlfriend, my niece, her boyfriend & their little boy, my youngest niece & a family friend who also joined in.

Also thank you to my youngest nephew who was the first to get back to my mum & promised a donation. He didn't have cake of any kind as he doesn't eat anything with sugar!

I think the biggest thank you has to go to my mum for coming up with the idea of hosting our own virtual tea party to help & support Anna! Mum you're fabulous!

My family's "Blue Sunday" tea & cakes {all copyrights go to the people who took the photos}

Anna's Blue Sunday tea party was a huge success & she reported that there was so many people attending that the car park was full & people were struggling to park! Anna also raised £505 on the day, which is incredibly & that added to the amount she had already raised on her Just Giving page {link below} means she's has almost doubled her target of £500!

I'm hoping next year, I'll be well enough to have a proper tea party like I had wanted this year but my little impromptu virtual tea party was a success. It was also so lovely to see all the people across Social Media with M.E showing their support to Anna & her tea party! Very well done everyone!

A massive well done to Anna, I'm so proud of all that you managed to achieve this past week & yesterday! I for one really appreciate all you do for the M.E community by raising awareness of this horrible disease.

It's not too late to still donate to Anna & give much needed funds to the M.E Association, you can do so via this link:

Anna Redshaw Just Giving Page

If you'd like to check out photo's from Anna's tea party & the virtual one, you can do so here on the facebook page:

Blue Sunday Event Page

If you'd also like to find out more about Anna's experience with M.E, then I suggest you give her wonderful blog a read, I learnt so much from her when I was newly diagnosed & she actually inspired me to begin writing about my own experience & life with M.E

M.E. Myself and I Blog

M.E. Myself and I Facebook Page

If you'd like to find out more about the M.E Association & the work they do, you can do that via the link below:

M.E Association

If you would like to read about Merryn's story, then please visit the Facebook page run by her mum & sister:

MErryn's Legacy

I always find M.E Awareness week & day quite draining, mentally, physically & emotionally. I wasn't going to write anything for here but I wanted to share the success of Blue Sunday with everyone!

I'm on Social Media posting & sharing a lot more than normal & as such I'm going to take a little bit of a brake. I'll still be about but not as much, mainly posting on my Photography Instagram which I had to neglect this past week.

So I hope everyone is as well as can be & taking care.

L x

M.E Awareness Day 2018

Today, Saturday 12th of May, is M.E Awareness Day. It's my fourth one since I was diagnosed with M.E & this day always hits me with mixed feelings.

I'm happy to see so many of my fellow M.E sufferers raising their voices to be heard on this day & supporting one another because we are truly the only ones who understands what each of us are struggling with on a daily basis. But then on the other side of that, I also feel a lot of sadness; I'm sad that so many people out there have to suffer with this disease & also that it's we, the ones with M.E that have to lead the way with Awareness campaigns because most people either have no clue or because it's not a "serious" disease in their eyes, it's not important & they would rather we stop with all the annoying posts on social media because we "talk too much about our illness!"

M.E Awareness Blue Ribbon

This latter point is usually proven to me during the lead up to this day. I don't post too much about my day to day struggle with M.E but during Awareness week I try my best, especially on my Instagram to post things & do my bit. It's the only week when I take note of the likes on my posts & most of those likes come from my fellow M.E sufferers or those who have other chronic illnesses with a handful of supportive friends & family, but not many. I have also lost two followers this week... kinda speaks volumes & as controversially as it may be seem, I would love to ask "would you be so annoyed at my posts & my talking about my illness if I had cancer?"

Okay enough of the rant, that isn't what I want this post to be but I needed to get that out there first. 

Now M.E... since I've not written a new awareness post for a couple of years {ironically I was too ill last year} I thought I would take it back to basics for anyone who stumbles across this post & has no clue what M.E or they wrongly think it's "the illness where you feel tired!"

What is M.E?

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or M.E is an incurable, life long Neuro-immunological illness which in many cases has been triggered by a viral infection. This infection causes abnormalities like an overactive immune system & this then causes numerous symptoms, some so severe that a person can become bed bound in around 25% of cases. Anyone at any age can get it, M.E doesn't discriminate.

copyright Dragonflies and Dreams via instagram

What are the symptoms?

  • Extreme bone crushing fatigue which lasts more than 6 months & not eased by sleep, 
  • Muscle & Joint Pain
  • Post Exertional Malaise or PEM, a worsening of symptoms after activity.
  • Brain fog
  • Mental fatigue
  • Lack of concentration
  • Short term memory loss
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Constant sore throat
  • Swollen glands
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Affects Heart function
  • Affects motor & cognitive skills making it difficult to move, speak, read & write
  • Can cause Infertility
  • Muscle Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Defective Mitochondria which means the body can not produce energy like a healthy person.
  • Defective Immune System
  • Sleep Problems - Insomnia/over sleeping
  • Digestive issues - IBS like symptoms
  • Food allergies/intolerance
  • Chemical sensitivity
  • Hyper sensitivity to light, noise, smell & touch
  • Inflammation of the muscles & joints

copyright Dragonflies and Dreams via instagram

There are many many more symptoms of M.E {I've been adding more as I've been writing this!} but those are the main ones & the ones I have to deal with. It should also be noted that M.E can also be fatal!

Treatments/Illness Management

There is no main treatment for M.E, you aren't diagnosed with M.E & then talked through a treatment plan or told your life expectancy. While there is promising research going on for easy diagnosis & effective treatments, for Doctors & patients right now, it's all about managing the symptoms since it is incurable. 

So you are given medication to help with pain, nausea & other things. Pacing & resting/precautionary rest is the main form of management, which is learning to pace out activity {if you are able} with periods of rest in-between to help the body cope & rest periods before you attempt to do something to try & build up enough energy to cope with the activity. There are also many dietary ways that can help, cutting sugar for example can help with inflammation & any digestive issues or food allergies.

Is Recovery Possible?

While M.E is a life long chronic illness, some people have found over a period of time {& we're talking years here!} have seen improvements. M.E never leaves you even if you have recovered & depending on how severe you were, will depend on how much you recover & how long it will take you. a person who has recovered from M.E & can now be more active will still have to be careful as over exertion can cause a relapse. The hard reality is that only 5% of all people with M.E reach recovery stage.

The hardest part in recovery is the crashes & flare ups, which can come at anytime & these set you back & you has to start the process all over again & many times these are caused by things that are out of our control, picking up a virus or reacting to a medication badly, plus many other things can all put us back. You have to learn what works best for you as although we share a similar symptom list, M.E is unique in many ways to each person it decides to strike.

"The Onlooker" Copyright Louise Elizabeth Shepherd

Although there is much more that could be said on M.E, I'm going to leave it there. I don't want to overload anyone with too much information. But if you are new around & this is your first time learning about M.E or you're new diagnosed, I suggest you also have a browse of my M.E Awareness Page on here as it contains a few more easy to read graphics about M.E.

You might to also check out the following sites as they are great resources to help you understand M.E:

I also recommend watching the following documentaries as they gave a true picture what M.E is like on a daily basis:

I just want to say a massive thank you to all my M.E sufferers out there, you are doing an amazing job in such awful circumstances. Please take care of yourselves. Sending you loads of love on, this day, our day!

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Never forget you are all Superheros!

L xxx

Not Just Skin Issues Now - Update

I was hoping to give you a little update much sooner than this but I've been struck down with a chest infection / virus & so I'm kinda out of my normal level of action at the moment.

Regarding my skin issues, I had a Doctor out to see me a couple of weeks ago & he prescribed me Hydrocortisone & Epimax cream. I had to use the Hydrocortisone from my jaw line down my neck & on my hands {it's a 1% steroid cream, so a no no for your face} & the Epimax was for my face. Within a few days of using both, I could see some improvements. I've been using the Epimax continually a few times a day since I got it & the Hydrocortisone I used for a week as instructed by the Doctor. Once I reached the week mark, I stopped the Hydrocortisone & switched to using the epimax on my hands & down my neck to get some much needed moisture into the skin.

Then the thing that I was trying to avoid by having a Doctor's home visit happened... I picked up some random normal people germs. I woke with an incredibly sore throat {more than normal "M.E Throat"} & the cough I've had lingering for a while became much worse. By the weekend, I could feel my chest rattle & ache with each coughing spasm. I won't go into more detail but this past week or so has been extra exhausting, the mornings have ben particularly difficult...

But at least my skin is now much better right? Wrong! I woke Friday just gone to find the return of previously cleared up Eczema patches on my cheeks & my hands. This time there are no triggers other than may be the fact that my poor immune system is struggling with the extra virus & this might be a sign of that. Either way, I gave myself the weekend to see if both the Eczema & my chest would show any signs of improvement & if not, another Doctor's check would be on the cards for Monday.

Well Monday came & I saw a Doctor that morning. While my skin is of course an issue, my main concern is my chest, especially since I have a history of Pneumonia. The Doctor that came out was lovely & she's put me back on the Hydrocortisone for another couple of weeks twice a day for my hands & Epimax in between & to continue using that on my face as well.

She checked my blood pressure, temperature, listened to my chest & heart & palpated my abdomen. She said everything was checking out okay & it seems likely I've picked up a virus, so no antibiotics. I just have to wait it out & she thinks in another week or so, I should be more my normal & I really hope she's right!

It's funny, this time last year, I was fighting a severe Herx reaction & now I'm fighting off a virus. It always seems to be something when you've got a Chronic Illness. I'd just like even one day of feeling well. But anyways, I won't let a normal people's virus defeat me, I've survived much worse {the Herx for example!} I'm just trying to get more than my usual precautionary rest with the odd hour or two on the sofa now & then so my mood doesn't drop from being stuck in bed for so long.

I did managed to get a tiny little bit of garden time on Tuesday but it's left me feeling utterly rubbish physically but my mood was better for it! It's so hard to strike the right balance, so both my mental & physical health benefit.

Anyways, a couple of days back on the Hydrocortisone & I can again see a bit of improvement on my hands & the Eczema on my face seems to have calmed down again. Just hoping it stays that way & that my chest clears up soon as well. But in the mean time, I'm just going to carry on getting the extra rest my body needs to deal with everything & I should be back to my normal soon.

Hopefully next time I post here, I'll able to report full improvement from everything but for now, I'm off back to bed to watch some "My Dream Home" - my current favourite "quiet, easy to watch" show. I love the Scott Brothers & I love home decor & renovation shows!

I hope everyone is as well as can be,

Take care,

L x