Happy belated World IBD Day! What better time to get back into blogging? If you read my last post, you’ll know that I was in a bad place in the early months of the year. Now? Well, not much has actually changed, honestly. I’m still experiencing the same symptoms as ever. Infliximab might as well be saline for all the good it’s done me, after six months/five infusions. Exam season is upon us, stress is oozing out of my every pore, and I have an MRI booked for June because my bloods aren’t showing any kind of improvement. By rights, I ought to be feeling as terrible as I did in February. But now things feel different, and I’m in a better position to explain exactly what was going on in my head then (and now!). I want to document everything – the good and the bad – and that starts with explaining why I’ve been so silent these last few months.
Ten months ago, I would have said that 2017 was the worst year of my life, but that I was hopeful about 2018. Well, move over, 2017, because 2018 has officially pushed you off the podium. This has been the worst year of my life.
I don’t want to make it sound as though I consider each year of my life to get progressively worse – they don’t. 2016 was okay, ’15 and ’14 were pretty good. But all 2018 has been for me is an in-between period: the limbo between medications. We know it doesn’t work, but we don’t yet know what we’re going to do about it. In the meantime, I have to sit. And wait. Wait for the next appointment. Wait for the next test. Wait for the next results. And on, and on, and suddenly I’ve blinked and this cycle has continued for over a year.
Of course, 2018 hasn’t been all bad. Sure, the first month saw the spectacular crash-and-burn of my mental health, but after I got myself onto an antidepressant and into therapy, I saw an exponential increase in my mental health. I still have shaky days, but I no longer feel the suffocating haze of depression every day. I feel more balanced, mentally, and I smile a lot more than I did last year. 2018 also saw the completion of my first year at university and my progression onto my second with excellent grades (take that, Crohn’s, anxiety and depression!). I started to rediscover the things I used to love, like cooking and reading. I started learning to be kind to myself again. Whereas last year I just sat there while things happened to me, now I’m actually going out and doing them: university, volunteering (both as a society committee member and with my university’s peer support network), blogging, socialising, trying to soak up as many experiences as possible.
So 2018 feels like I’m waking up from a dream that lasted 14 months, and I’m only just becoming fully conscious. Instead of kicking myself for what now feels like wasted time, I’ve been inspired by Hannah Witton’s brilliant blog post to compose my own set of goals for the last few months of the year. Hannah is one of my favourite bloggers/vloggers, and reading what she wrote about gathering enough momentum to take on 2019 really resonated with me. Here’s my #2018homestretch to end this year on a high note:
- Read 10 books. Reading is an excellent way for me to slow down, to force my brain to focus on something that isn’t work or stress. It’s fallen by the wayside a little bit this year, so while I can’t complete an entire Goodreads challenge, I’m going to do my best to read at least 10 new books (old books I have on my phone don’t count) before the end of the year. My Goodreads is here, if you want to keep up with how I’m doing!
- Make (and document) 5 new recipes. I’ve been experiencing a renaissance of my love of cooking now that I’ve got my own kitchenette (more on this in a later post!). So I want to start being a little bit more adventurous in the kitchen, and documenting my experiments for the blog – be they successes or failures!
- Set aside at least an hour a week for art. I’m not a skilled artist, but I find it immensely soothing, and, like cooking, I want to transform it: from a task that I feel like I have no time for, into one that’s smoothly integrated into my routine. I know I’ll feel better for it.
- Publish at least two blog posts a month. I love blogging. I do! I know, it doesn’t seem like it, given the dearth of posts on my blog at the moment. But you aren’t seeing everything I’ve written and then chucked out, or lost, or forgotten to write down. I’m giving myself free rein to stop over-analysing everything I want to put into words and to just write.
- Continue to streamline my life. As every student who has moved to/from university accommodation knows, a lot of stuff goes into living. While I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist, I know I want to cut down on the amount of objects I keep. I started off this summer with a full clean-out of my wardrobe, and I want to continue by clearing out my childhood books from my bedroom at home. After all, I’ve only got a tiny bookshelf, and if I want to read 10 more new books by the end of the year, I’ll need somewhere to keep them!
I feel good about these goals: ambitious enough that I’m excited to achieve them, but realistic enough that I actually have a chance to do so. Do you have any goals for the last few months of the year? Let me know what you want to get done! Here’s to ending 2018 on a high note – let’s smash it!
Okay, so, here’s the tale from my updates post that I started to write, before realising it was waaaaay too long and it would need its own post. I always think “oh, nothing much happened,” and then I start writing and actually A LOT HAPPENED. But, spoiler: we’re still no further forward than we were six months ago. How can that be, I hear you ask? Well, let me start from the beginning..,
It’s World IBD Day! It’s Mental Health Awareness Week! I hope both of them are good to you. It’s quite an intersection of ‘awareness days’, isn’t it, considering the mental toll IBD exacts? So there’s no better time to write about when the two collide spectacularly! Here’s my tale…
This is something (almost autobiographical in nature) I wrote in the early morning, after an accident that roused me from sleep. It’s mostly about fear: an attempt to describe it for those lucky enough to not feel it follow them around like I do, and how it feels in those moments when I can’t suppress it.
The girl steps into the shower, the door sliding shut with a soft thud behind her. She blows out a breath, shaky and uncertain, and twists the first knob to unleash the torrent of water from above. The water is supposed to strip everything away: not just dirt and dust but guilt, shame, fear – all sloughing off of her body and disappearing down the drain with the water. This is where she is safe.
Remember how I said I’d be posting for each day in Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week? And then remember how, immediately afterwards, I didn’t do that? Yeah, me too. I’m the worst, I admit it. Honestly, it’s taking up everything I have just to keep up with uni at the moment with exhaustion kicking in – as you’ll see by the end of this post. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a day in the life post for quite some time, but always forgot until halfway through the day – until now (or, er, Thursday, which is when this post was originally drafted). So here’s what a fairly typical day looks like for me…
It’s the first day of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week – happy #PurpleFriday to you all, and I hope you’re doing well – or if you’re not, that you’re doing as well as you can be right now. I’m hoping to publish one post per day for the entirety of this week. We’ll see how it goes – but to kick-start the process, I thought I’d make it a long one, and share something I’ve never written about in full before: my diagnosis story.