Monthly Archives: July 2012

I’m Ready When You Are

I meet so many new people, make so many new friends from those of you who contact me on here. Some of you just pop in to say hi and leave me beautiful messages which I’m very grateful for. Others of course want to use life after the chair for your own recovery. If so you usually fall into one of two categories:

One is the folk who are chronically unwell and have been for years. I’ve met lots of them and I was one. No I’m not a doctor, but one thing I’ve noticed is that regardless of how the illness came about, the inability to recover usually comes from a faulty adrenal system. If you can unlock the way to regulate yours then recovery is a really rapid thing.

The second set of lovely lads and lasses are those who have been through trauma such as an accident. The physical recovery is long and is managed by doctors-but the psychological knock and the need to start from scratch in a world you no longer see as safe prompts the need for extra support.

I honestly believe there are endless ways to get well. Limitless amounts of help and resources to tap into. I believe as the world is shrinking due to social networking we can all be in the same place at the same time and benefit from all this Wisdom-regardless of location or physical condition.

I do come visit people and see if we find the best form of treatment face to face. It’s a privilege for me to be able to do that. But lots of you who visit life after the chair and email me don’t live in England. You live places I’ve never been. Iceland, Malaysia, Qatar. Much as I’d love to come give you a hug and have a cup of tea with you we are just a little too far from each other. Plus I do have the day job which keeps me quite busy, and gives me a platform which allows me to reach more than one person at a time-which is the reason I do it.

I believe that if we tackle the physical symptoms by trying absolutely everything that resonates with us-we WILL find something that works. I believe that if we get excited about life we make our recovery an empowering experience.

I believe we cannot feel love and fear at the same time. Fall in love with your Life After right now-even if it feels like the majority of it is hard and scary and sometimes not worth living. Look for the grains of hope wherever you can, the tiny almost imperceptible ones. Ignore everything else. Find the little bits of love you can. You won’t be scared if you do that. It’s enough to get you started I promise. We can work out the rest together from that point. That’s why I set this place up. It’s what matters to me more than anything else in the world. To get you well and keep you well. To show you it can be done. Now. Today.

I’m ready when you are,

Cx

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Add Me?

It’s a bugger of a thing, friendship when you’re housebound for years. It’s hard to keep a dialogue going with the friends you made in your old life. Especially if you are too unwell to participate fully in conversations. Luckily the world comes to you these days. You can make new friends without going anywhere at all. Enter stage-left the Online Buddies…

Good old online buds eh? The ones you meet on social-networking sites or forums. So handy for those hundreds of weekends watching the Coronation Street omnibus, pretending this is definitely how you envisaged spending your twenties… Online friends can be a total life-line when you are isolated from the outside world. Nobody expects you to stop needing friendship just because you can’t participate in life face to face. I just want to add a few provisos before you get started…

The first one is the most important. Please, please, please don’t meet them on “I’m housebound too dot com” websites. Seriously please stay the hell away from them. Having people to commiserate with feels good for about a minute-then you find yourself locked in an endless cycle of discussing symptoms and talking about illness. And whilst there’s not much I don’t believe in- I do not believe you can get to a place of wellness from there.

I definitely recommend you choose your friends wisely. If you want to join forums join a sports one (no I’m not taking the p*ss, honestly) or a travelling one. Anything that excites you about the life outside of yours. Start living your recovery now, today, as if it’s already happening-even if it is just taking place in your head

Lie your ass off. Tell the people on there you too are training for a triathlon/bodybuilding/spending a year in South America. Then wait til you start dreaming about it too rather than spending your dreams in your bed/chair. You’ll know you’ve turned a corner then. I know I did.

Thing is as ridiculous as my way sounds, it actually works. I’m a walking testament to that. Literally. Unlike the people I know who did it the other way. People just like me, in my exact situation.They may be slightly less deluded in their approach than l-but they are all still housebound. Six years on. all of them still waiting to get better. Still on the forums commiserating with peers on their misfortune. And it is unfortunate. It’s bloody tragic. No one should have to go through what they are going through. Not ever. So let’s start changing the outcome now.

I want you to get well quickly and permanently. I believe its entirely possible. And I honestly believe if you do it in your head first then your body catches up. Give it a go…make a new friend that will enhance your own recovery. You can improve your social situation without leaving your room if you aren’t up to it yet. So much is possible now the we are all connected online. Just make sure that when you “Add Them” you are also adding to your arsenal of recovery, not finding co-conspirators to stay sick with…

Cx

The Little Whispers

It took me a while to realise that recovery was not the straight line I thought it was going to be. I started off expecting to wake up one morning feeling all better, like I’d had the flu. Then after it arrived at my house courtesy of the NHS I adjusted my expectation to include a bit of time in a wheelchair. After using that for a while I assumed I’d be up and about and back to work, picking up my old life where I left off, just thinking of it all as a couple of months off.

If I’d known anyone else who had been in my situation before me, I’d have probably been told to expect something slight different. That life doesn’t run in straight lines. That there would be a lot of bouncing back and forward to different stages of recovery.

The most extreme example was when a treatment worked so well I went from being just about able to sit upright in the chair-to being able to walk completely normally. This treatment method worked amazingly well for 6 weeks. For 6 weeks I actually thought I was all cured. Then it stopped working, instantly. And never worked again. So back into the chair I went.

That nearly broke me. It certainly broke my heart. It shook my faith a lot. I had to dig fairly deep to keep trying. It was the worst kind of betrayal I’ve ever felt. All l could see ahead of me was endless rounds of shattered hopes. What made it worse was that the treatment itself had been physically very painful. Which I didn’t mind so much when it worked-but just seemed utterly pointless when it stopped.

I did try so many different treatments that I get my timings a little confused-but at this stage I was about a year away from finding what would permanently work for me. So I continued going from bed to chair, without walking again.

At this stage something wonderful happened to me. I finally learned to switch off the inner voice I’d automatically listened to my whole life. The one I’d always assumed was the voice of reason. The one that was telling me right now how stupid and deluded I was being. That it was time to stop breaking my heart with false promises. To accept what I’d been told for years. That this was the best I could ever hope to feel again. I couldnt cope with this “inner widsom” anymore. I was too broken down, there was no energy to give it attention. I just cut it off for the very first time.

It turned out that in its place came quiet, calm whispers instead. Telling me if a cure worked for 6 weeks I’d already done what I was told was impossible. This whisper would continue to comfort me as I lay in bed or sat in my chair feeling utterly beyond saving. It would tell me that if I could do this one thing-get my life back-I could also do all sorts of things with my life, things I had never even entertained because the bigger voice inside of me had alwaysinsisted I wasn’t good enough for. Even before I got sick. That I didn’t deserve a great life, or nice things, or someone who loved me. That l wasn’t good enough, never had been, never would be. But this was so different. These little whispers would comfort me through the dark times and reassure me enough to make me believe the brighter times might be here to stay.

I did find my cure. I did have my faith restored. I do live a completely different life to the one I had during and before my years of being unwell. And I still give the little whispers the headspace the loud logical voice used to get automatically. For me the little whispers are what make my Life After such a magical place. Taking me down roads I would never have seen before, showing me my life through new eyes. I know the little whispers will never shatter my hopes, I know everything always turns our right in the end. My own recovery is the only testament I’ll ever need.

Cx

Six years and One day

If every journey has a beginning, then six years ago today this particular journey started.

Sometimes we have to stand as far back as we can from something to be able to see it all. maybe six years is long enough to do that. I don’t think too much about that day. the day everything changed for me. Enough time has passed for me to be able to talk about it without reliving it or I would not talk about it at all. Nobody needs that. Neither do I go into much detail about the day-to-day living of the years that followed, the minutes and hours that weren’t directed at finding a cure, the drawn out time I spent just existing. there’s not a lot of point in going there. It is all pain. All loss. All unwanted.

There’s an element of wonder about my life now. Every moment is remarkable. Totally memorable. The small almost imperceptible things are filled with Joy. Every conversation I have is special-every interaction with another. Nothing is taken for granted. Not ever. And if I was ever in doubt about how dramatically things have changed for me then I only need go back to six years and one day ago. The last real normal day I ever had. A day I don’t remember at all. Not a bit of it. I couldn’t tell you how I spent if you paid me.

If I could go back to that day, six years and one day ago- before events took a turn I could never have anticipated, what would I tell myself? Go for a really long walk? Go sit with your friends and have a conversation for hours? Go dress yourself in something beautiful? Go look in the mirror and love what you see? Go eat something amazing because its going to be years before you are hungry again? Go on an adventure and see something awe-inspiring, because your world is about to get very, very small indeed? Go write every thought in your head down because the person you are right now is about to disappear and you will never see her again?

I can’t do anything about those lost years. They are gone. I won’t ever get them back. But that doesn’t mean anyone else has to spend years searching for their own recovery. That’s why I set this place up. Why should it take years? There are so many ways to get well, and it’s entirely doable. Not just well enough to simply exist. I’m not having that. It’s not good enough. I always believed I could get well again. I just wish it hadn’t taken so bloody long to go from ill, to well,to existing, to really living.

I don’t think it should take years at all. I think a full physical and mental recovery can be achieved so quickly now. It took me years to sift through what worked and what didn’t and then to come up with some stuff of my own. I honestly think we have enough information now to choose from so many of the physical treatments that work-and then very swiftly build up mental resilience to face the world again. Properly. Without fear. Without isolation.

So yes occasionally when those thoughts that are all pain and all grief and all loss come and bite me on the ass, when I am faced with thoughts of where those lost years might have taken me had I not been forced down this road, the places I may have gone, the lives I may have led. The relationships I could have built. I think of the people who are getting so well so fast now, who bounce back so quickly they don’t have those missing years. I think of the jobs they have taken, the people they said yes to because they were ready to share their life, the friends they have made and the places they have seen. And it helps. It helps a lot.

That and of course the fact that if all of this had never happened I’d be sitting here with just another six years and one day that I took every minute of for granted. That I never stopped to gaze at the wonder of. That I just walked right through-and that I can’t quite remember..,

Cx

D.I.Y. Foundations

DIY Foundations

Not that I have a flipping clue about real DIY you understand-I wouldn’t know a wrench if it sprang out of the toolbox and starting lepping about the place performing an impromptu jig for me…just so we’re clear…

A Life After is a fresh start, a clean slate, a blank sheet of paper. Like any new structure it needs a solid foundation to build on or it will fall apart. Similarly how it’s constructed-and what it’s built upon is of huge importance. And, after epic amounts of trial and error ( my trials, errors and epic failures throughout my own journey to wellness and Life After being the very foundations this entire website is built on), I have realised that the most solid of foundations are the ones will build ourselves. a solo effort.

It’s nobody’s job to support us it’s not an automatic thing, it shouldn’t be expected and it’s not helpful. If someone offers us unwavering support, then we come to rely on it, then that person leaves, or decides they don’t want to be supportive anymore, and we’ve built the foundations of our recovery on their support? We are screwed when they go. We then have to strip back and re-build those foundations all over again. And it’s an awful thing, at a time that pretty much everything else is bloody awful too. When every moment of the day is scary and hard and wearing enough just learning how to be out in the world again, having to deal with this sort of emotional fall-out is something to try and spare ourselves if we can.

It’s such a fundamental part of building a new life that it becomes the foundation of every new experience. Every new job, every new relationship. When we build our own Life After based solely on our own support then it cannot be taken away. It’s the only real and consistent type of security that exists-and it’s what we crave the most after years of chronic doubt. It’s not the responsibility of my boss to make me happy, or my friend, or a boy, it’s my responsibility alone. Asking someone else to make me happy feels good for about 5 minutes, but it doesn’t ever last. A life full of wonderful people and exciting experiences and fulfilling work is a truly great thing. But it is not my boss’s job to make me happy; it’s not a boy’s job to make me feel special. The onus is on myself, and myself alone.

A funny thing happens when we become solely responsible for our own mental and emotional wellbeing, of letting everyone know by our own actions and behaviour that they don’t owe us anything. Life becomes a joyful experience all round. If we are so happy and so reassured by our own selves that we don’t need –but do truly enjoy-other people, without agenda. Not because of what they can give us- just because it’s nice to have them around, we start to appreciate everyone in ways that are astounding . Not because we clung onto them so tightly they had to stay, or out of fear of being alone, or how their lack of attention might make us feel about ourselves.

Having someone around because we are think it is their responsibility to make us feel good or better or loved doesn’t bring anything solid or lasting to our lives. Because on a fundamental level life just does not work like that. Because if it did then relationships would never end, there would be no divorce, we’d have the same best mate we had a nursery school. But we change, we need different things in life, things that another person can’t give to us, and the only reason I know this to be true is that as much as I was loved and supported through my years of illness no one was physically able to haul my ass out of that bed and then that wheelchair except me. And if they had been able to do it on my behalf, my recovery would not have been a permanent thing. It’s the fact the my recovery was down to me that gives me the faith that it will last.

There are so many things I’m thankful for in my life now, but honestly I can hardly describe to you the genuine loveliness and sheer liberation of a life filled with people who are here because they want to be. Not because I need them to make me feel good enough, not because they have to like or approve or me. Not because I’m holding them to some emotional ransom. Just because they choose to experience their life with me. 

This is my foundation. I built it. And for the first time in my life, my feet are on solid ground.

 

 

Cx

Alice in Jungleland

I met a young lady called Alice a few weeks back when I was covering an event for work that she was in charge of organising. Alice was friendly and charismatic, as well as being very beautiful-but I decided not to hold it against her (I’m big like that) and we had a lovely chat instead.

It was one of those conversations that makes you want to kiss your life right on its face. I left her feeling so uplifted and inspired. See it turns out that Alice was on the very brink of starting her own Life After. She’d recently had a realisation that had totally altered the course of her life.  When someone asked her what the last thing she thought about as she went to sleep at night, and the first thing she thought about as she woke, Alice immediately responded “Work” -and this was not good news as far as she was concerned.

Alice decided she didn’t necessarily love where her life seemed to be heading.Which I’m sure we’ve all felt from time to time.  It was what she decided to do in response to this conversation that I find remarkable. Alice decided to leave her job, leave London-and go live in the Jungle in Borneo and work for a charity.

 

Seriously.

Can you even imagine what the last thing at night and the first thing in the morning Alice is going to be thinking from now on?? My brain doesn’t even know how to process this. Needless to say I think she is absolutely amazing-and she is now placed firmly on the list of People-I’d-Like-To-Be-When-I-Grow-Up-Please. It’s certainly made me do some re-evaluating of my own. What’s the last thing I think of when I go to sleep at night? Is it the most life-enhancing thought I could be thinking? What’s the first thing I think of when I wake in the morning? Is it an indicator that I’m living the best version of my life possible? I have to say I wasn’t entirely happy with the answer to either question. And although the results aren’t that I’m moving to the Jungle-it’s brought about actions that have definitely changed the momentum of my own life experience.

It’s people like lovely Alice that make me excited to be an active participant in life. She’s no longer going through the motion of her days. She’s creating something truly wonderful, something that’s authentically hers. Life is fresh and new and full of change. It’s the Alice’s of this world I want to spend my time with. Who make me want to do more and see more and be more. And I don’t have to set foot in a jungle to be part of it, I just have to get excited that she gets to go there.

It’s exactly the kind of Life I got out of The Chair for.

Cx