Monthly Archives: December 2011

A New Resolve

It’s that time of year again. The presents have been opened, the turkey is (finally) gone, and our thoughts are turning to the end of year celebrations. To endings and new beginnings and all things inbetween. If you’re anything like me then this year has taken you nowhere you thought you’d go, and plenty of places you never expected to be. Life’s pretty good at that it seems.

Confession time: I’m not madly keen on New Years Eve, which is strange because I’m a big fan of EVERYTHING (yes I’m quite annoying like that). It worries me a bit, the whole concept of ticking off another year like its a completed chore, or a marathon to be endured. It’s taken me quite a while to figure out why but I think I’ve got it now…

When your life gets a total overhaul the way mine has over the past few years, it follows that your belief structure has to change to fit. Sometimes I don’t even realise my opinion on a subject has changed until I’m faced with it. One such belief is that I’m truly not a big fan of the concept of growing old. Having already been cared for 24 hours a day and relied on others for every basic need etc I’m really not thrilled with the concept of doing it again in 50 years or so. But that’s not even the main reason. It’s more about me living a life that can be measured in something more than Length. And I’ve realised that the only way I can do that is by living each moment as joyfully as I can, being as happy as I can be, enjoying each experience as it is happening. To me that’s how I want my life to be measured. Not in years, but moment to moment, thought by thought.

If I’d have known that I was going to get out of the wheelchair and into a place as good as the one I’m in right now then I’d have enjoyed the process. I’d have made sure I did. And I have a sneaking suspicion it would have taken me half as long and been twice as easy.

I can’t go back and change how l got here, or what it cost me to do so.I have no idea where 2012 is going to take me either. But if I have one resolution from this point on it’s to enjoy the Hell out of every moment as I’m living it. Because I can’t change the past, and the future never seems to get here anyway. So my here and now, and how much I enjoy it irrespective of where it’s taking me, well that’s the only part that interests me now, no matter what day of the year it happens to be,

C xx


Trust Me?

Guess what? I discovered another massive missing piece to the Wellness puzzle that I didn’t even know was missing. I must be quite rubbish at this whole self-discovery stuff if after all this I’m still realising there are bits I haven’t come close to figuring out. I’d make a rubbish guru. Do me a favour if I ever write a self-help book please don’t buy it…

So remember when I decided that it was time to get my sorry-chicken-like-ass to the gym? And how I just used to cry instead of exercising? (wow let’s add Fitness DVD to the list of things you should never buy off me if I make please-can you imagine what a barrel of laughs that would be? Me sobbing intermittently beside weight machines and walking into treadmills cos I’ve a pair of giant sunglasses on to try and cover up the aforementioned crying? Clearly a bestseller…)

Anyway I digress. I did have a great go at the gym thing, and I liked it for a few weeks, but I didn’t really make any progress beyond the stopping crying. I wasn’t getting any fitter, or running any longer, or staying there for more time week to week. I just wasn’t moving forward at all. I realised I had to do it properly if I was going to make any progress. And so I decided to go somewhere I couldn’t escape from, where they would make me do exercise. Unfortunately when I googled that, all it came up with was Prison. And so I refined my search a little further, and came up with a Yoga Holiday to Turkey.

I don’t know what I was expecting really, but I definitely came back with way more than I ever thought I would. It was scary, and at times uncomfortable beyond belief. That old feeling I used to live with everyday for the first 18 months back in the Real World, the one where everything felt so hard and like I’d never master it and what the hell was I thinking and why did this have to have happened at all etc reared its ugly head. I did cry a lot, I let a lot go I didn’t even know I was still carrying around. I also amazed myself actually. That I could do 27 hours of exercise in 6 days and not so much as pull a muscle. That I could create yet another version of myself in a week. That I still had totally new things I could learn. But by far the most important lesson I learned was this:

If you have a boyfriend you love, and you find out that boyfriend has cheated on you, your relationship changes instantly. Even if you decide you still want that boyfriend in your life, you have to learn to trust them again. They have to prove on some level to you that you can actually trust them. Sometimes this proves too much, so you get rid of that boyfriend.

But if your Body lets you down, if your Body cheats on you, betraying your trust by not working the way it should, abusing your trust and not communicating with you, well to be honest there’s no dumping it and ordering a new one. So perhaps you do what I did and just pretend it didn’t happen, stick your la-la fingers in your ears and try and persevere, blindly hoping it will not happen again-never fully trusting that it wont. Especially if it keeps on cheating on you. My body had stopped cheating on me and letting me down, but I still didn’t trust it, I still didn’t feel a connection to it. And that was why exercise was so traumatic to me. because when you exercise you have to be fully in your body, there’s no other way around it.

So all of this yoga over such a short space of time forced me to get back into my body and connect with it. I was awful at first. I really can’t tell you how much I just wanted to run away off that fecking mountain and hide under my bed. But the pay-off was incredible. I feel like if my body can do all of that and still not break or fail me then it’s earned my trust. And that lack of trust was a massive hole in my life I did not even know was there.

I don’t think it matters where you are on your path to wellness right now, whether you feel you are fully recovered, have made it to the wheelchair, or are still in bed. It doesn’t matter. If you can start and acknowledge to yourself that you can improve your connection to your body from Here. That you can begin to stop the dissociation. Even if you can just admit you are really angry at a body you feel has betrayed you, that’s progress right there. And things can only improve, you can trust your body again, that day will come, I promise, just do what you can for today, the rest will come.


A Long Walk

As I was walking through the sea of people on Oxford Street today, it struck me just how far I’d come in the Walking Stakes. It also put me in mind of the different ways I trained myself to get to grips with the whole walking-thing. So I thought I’d add a few walking tips to The Bag of Tricks…I hope they help…

  • The Treadmill When I was back on my feet long enough to make it from room to room, but still not confident enough to leave the house without The Chair, I hit on the idea of getting a treadmiill. I bought a really cheap one from Argos and my dad set in up in our living room. The great thing about it was that I was able to walk for as long as I could without having to panic about not being able to walk back again and getting stuck somewhere. I could track how long I was able to comfortably walk for distance-wise, that way when I did try and do it outside I knew mentally that I’d be able to cope.
  • The Pedometer really handy for when I started to walk distances outside. I’d Google how much an average person walked a day and then try and copy (it would take me hours at first but I got a real sense of achievement¬†from feeling “normal” again.)
  • Landmarks etc I used to set myself different goals as I grew in confidence, I’d take off the pedometer in this case as it was more about feeling independent than the actual distance. Plus when trying something new that feels a bit scary, psychologically it felt detrimental to know exactly how far I was from where I lived or deemed “safe” So stuff like walking until I couldn’t see my house anymore, or walking around the block-right up to getting on a bus (try it one stop at a time) walking from on end of a shopping centre to another (do it somewhere you know the layout to very well otherwise it can be a little too stressful).
  • ipod Sounds of people and traffic etc can be a bit overwhelming when you have been housebound for a long time, so playing your favourite music whilst practising walking can provide a lot of reassurance. Be careful of traffic though-I promise it moves way faster than you remember, so keep it off-road until you’re used to the moving objects again…

I’ll leave you with these for now, but I’ll add more at a later date. If you have used methods that are better please let me know!

I will say this though-one thing I wish I’d done more was practice walking whilst talking to other people. This probably sounds really strange but all of the above I did on my own as I wanted my independence back so badly-so even now having been walking well for over a year I can honestly say I still struggle to walk and talk to people at the same time. So there you go-learn from my mistakes people! ooh and ask Santa for a Treadmill and a Pedometer from Christmas if you haven’t got either yet…

Happy Walking


Fine is not Fine

When I look at all of things I’ve experienced over the last few years on my Route To Wellness, I realise just how much I’ve changed as a person, physically, mentally, and it’s a continual evolvement. So it stands to reason that as I grow and change then my goals grow and change accordingly.

I used to think that if I was well enough to leave the house and look after myself, that I’d be so happy that I wouldn’t care what else I achieved. And in a way I was right, that bit never gets old for me. But it doesn’t mean I don’t have other desires. If anything spending my late 20’s unable to do anything focused me in a way nothing else could have done, pushed me out of my complacency. Yet it also gave me a sense of inner-peace and fulfilment that I’d never experienced before. I was no longer constantly bored, unhappy or restless like I was before I got ill. These are two really different ways of feeling, and seemingly quite confusing to try and balance. Do I go with the part of me that is so happy to be alive and independent that I just float from experience to experience feeling just fine? Or do I go with the part of me that absolutely knows there are no limits, and that every day is an opportunity to expand my horizons? It’s something I’ve been thinking of a lot lately. A contradiction that gets more apparent a I grow in physical strength and mental confidence.

So a couple of weeks ago I took a good long look at my life. I saw a flat I didn’t love living in, but that was okay. I saw a job that was alright – but not fulfilling me in any way. Basically I saw a life that was fine. And that was the problem. Fine is not Fine. Not when you’ve sat watching from the sidelines for so long. Not when you’ve beaten the odds in so many ways. Not when every single part of life was fought for so hard. Then a fine life is far from fine. Then complacency becomes a trap all in itself. When you know better than you are actually doing-then fine is very far from fine indeed. I know what I’m capable of, I know I created every part of the life I was looking at. I also knew that by some people’s standards I was doing pretty well considering where I’d been a few years previously. It’s probably enough to go from being reliant on others for everything, to total independence, it’s probably quite good to go from constantly shaking and being unable to look people in the eye to presenting 6 hour Live Shows on tv. I don’t really have anything else to compare it to so I can’t say for sure. it’s probably enough to say I’ve achieved something after long-term illness. It’s just not enough as far as I’m concerned.

So I quit my job and I gave my notice on my flat. I didn’t really know what would happen after that. Would I find somewhere else to live? Would I ever work in tv again? Would I end up unemployed and back in Newcastle? Maybe, but at least I was able-bodied this time. To be honest I was so excited by the prospect of what might happen that I forgot to worry about it… Maybe that was what I was missing when I was floating along playing it safe…

A funny thing happened whilst I was busy with all this exciting uncertainty stuff…I had to work out two weeks notice at my old channel, in my first week’s notice I was offered a place to live more lovely than anywhere I’ve ever rented. It came to me, I hadn’t even started looking. That was nice. Then 5 days after I left my old channel I was given a job better than anything I could possibly imagined. It has all the bits I loved about my old place of work, and everything I was looking for outside of it. In the space of a week I moved to my dream flat and started my dream job. My life completely changed in 7 days. Even as a self-professed eternal optimist this is quite staggering to me. I seem to have leapt straight into everything I have ever wanted. I like the view from here.

So if Fine is not Fine, then perhaps leaping with my eyes closed was the only option. It certainly worked out for me on this occasion. I also think that things happened so fast for me in both my living and working life because I didn’t waste any time stressing that I’d made a stupid choice, or that I was going to fail or be unemployed forever. Not because I’m super-brave or filled with unshakable self-belief. It’s because I genuinely didn’t think about it. I just didn’t care. I still don’t. That type of worrying is irrelevant to my life. Unemployment statistics don’t scare me-because if I believed in similar medical statistics then I’d still be in a wheelchair. The idea of a pension of lack thereof is not a concern, I’m no longer capable of thinking that far ahead. All of these factors made it easy for me to go from Fine to Here. And my Here, the Where I now stand in is far from fine. It’s incredible, and I’ll just keep leaping towards bigger and better. I think that’s what I got out of the chair for really… And if you’re reading this and your on your way out of your own chair or bed, just know that leaping without fear is the biggest pay off your Life After will ever give you-and that I’m with you all the way…