CFS in a new era of koala life…

A friend contacted me recently asking me about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It isn’t something I talk about so much anymore, and it got me thinking. Do I still have CFS? What does it mean for my life now?

Part of the problem is, I don’t think many doctors know how to help patients with CFS other than diagnose them. I loved my GP in Aberdeen. After GPs diagnosing me with everything from arthritis to PMS to asthma and none of it working, it was a relief to finally have a label for this thing that made me full of energy one day and waking up paralysed the next. However diagnosis was the only thing they gave me – they just kinda shrugged their shoulders at me when I asked what to do about it!

What it seemed to mean was that I became unreliable, because I never knew when it would suddenly rear its ugly head and stop me living my life on a particularly day (or few). It seemed to mean that all of a sudden I caught every snotty cold under the sun. By 2007, I learned that working full-time was not something I was able to do for extended periods of time. What I’ve tried to do over the last few years is manage my time better, and build up my stamina in the hope that one day I’ll be able to have a normal life with a full-time job and live in my own home again.

Something I’m struggling with now, is the discovery that I’m not a part-time student. I’m a full-time student but only for half the year. And that’s not quite the same thing.

I do a lot of things with my life. I work. I volunteer with Girlguiding. I’m involved with Soul Surfers. I’m blessed with lots of friends.

But all of those things were part-time. It did mean there were occasional mental weeks (which usually involved me having a good week to recover afterward). But usually I had days in between to recover. The flexibility of my job for the last 6 years has meant that I’ve been able to switch around my days accordingly. I would have my ‘manic monday’ but it usually meant I’d be off on Tuesday, giving me time to sleep in, catch up on housework and so on. Then I’d be ready for working on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday I’d do guiding admin or my counselling course or catch up with a friend or other work.

I am beginning to realise that the battle is beginning as I try to work out this new life. For the first three weeks I’ve gone to work, guides and uni…and nothing else. In fact the first week, I had a lot of takeaway meals because I didn’t get to the supermarket and had no energy to do that, cook and eat. One day I did organise to meet up with friends and they turned up 30 minutes late. I won’t lie – I had some ungracious thoughts because I was so tired and it had been so much effort to do that.

Last Tuesday, I had a migraine when I came home from uni.

This Tuesday, I came home with a very upset stomach when I came home from uni.

A lot of that, I think, is tiredness and having to fight through on university days. Not having a  day to recover before going into work makes it tougher. This morning, it took me 2 hours before I could get out of bed. I kept having to sit down and take a rest as I got dressed, showered etc.

Many of my friends have young children, and I know they get very sleep deprived, so I feel very guilty if I complain a about not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation for me though, usually means I’ll get sick very quickly.

For example, in South Africa, I didn’t get enough sleep the whole time we were there. We got to bed around midnight, and were up about 6 hours later. Every second day I was running to and from the bathroom. Part of this was eating the beta-carotene dyed food, but it was also likely due to not having enough rest.

When I was in Cornwall for the CS UK gathering, I came down with a cold within a couple of days of arriving home.

For me, I have short bursts of energy. I usually can’t spend more than a couple of hours walking around before I feel like I  need a wee nap or stop being able to properly engage in conversation. My friends who have been to London with me, will notice that we’ll do something for a few hours and then I’ll suddenly start sitting down at every opportunity. I often struggle at work or uni staying awake, because my body just wants a nap by about 2 p.m.!

I’m now try to work out how to manage things in this new era. Do I try to read on the train because it’s a good opportunity, or do I use that time to nap so perhaps I’ll not feel so unwell when I get home? Do I continue trying to get to Soul Surfers when in reality, I haven’t made a single week from feeling so unwell by the time it gets to about 7.30 p.m. on a Tuesday night? How much do I try to study when I’m feeling so exhausted? And should I have put this down as some kind of ‘disability’ when I enrolled at university?

These are all questions that I cannot yet answer – because I simply do not know.

Energy level in the red zone

It’s days like today that remind me that I had M.E. and really…I still have it. I’m lucky enough to have a mild form of it. It took years before it was diagnosed, and even then my doctors never offered any treatment. They just named it, shrugged their shoulders and said ‘there’s nothing you can do‘.

Wonderful.

The thing about it is, I look pretty healthy most of the time. When I had mumps I looked awful to the people around me who saw me day-in, day-out at university. I’ll never forget my Advisor of Studies seeing me in the corridor of the medical school and telling me ‘Go home, your face is still swollen and you look like a hamster’. A few weeks later I managed to put on make up one Monday morning like I’d normally done and my coursemates said ‘Wow! You look so much better!’. I still felt just as exhausted as the week before.

Make up covers all manner of things!

‘Tired’ is a word I use to describe how I’m feeling on a regular basis. Today was a particularly bad day though. I woke up after a good night’s sleep, drove my Mum to work then went to do some shopping. I felt exhausted. I sat in the car park for about 15 minutes just trying to work up the energy to step out my car. Once I’d ran all my errands I knew I had to eat something – proper and get some fruit into me. I did. All I wanted to do was curl in a ball and fall asleep. I tried to read. Eventually I had to give up and crawl into my bed. I woke up about 2 hours later, and when I woke up I couldn’t move a muscle in my body.

It’s a horrible feeling.

Equally horrible is trying to think about something and realising that you can’t. You get part way through a thought and your brain just suddenly goes a bit crazy. It’s a strange experience and I don’t really know how to describe it.

I don’t want to complain because I’m ok really. Yes. It can be frustrating at times. No. It’s not very nice to have a constant dull aches and pains and rarely feel full of energy.

I feel bad on nights like tonight. I managed with a lot of will power to get to ‘lifegroup’ (a new idea from my church). First issue is that it was our groups night to a have a meal together. If I hadn’t eaten before I went I would have had problems. I feel awful that I’m such an awkward person to feed! You get strange looks, you get asked questions. You feel terrible when you ask them whether the food they bought was made from scratch or came out of a packet. But for me, eating something processed usually results in me feeling rotten for at least 24 hours after. Second issue is that I’m feeling exhausted. I can’t concentrate to watch a video. And then be asked questions about it when I can’t remember what was said in the video. Third issue is that I have no energy and what I want to do is curl in a corner and be able to just ‘be’ and know that people will understand that it’s just that I’m having an ‘off-day’. Instead I’m in a group with people I’ve never met being asked to tell them how I’m doing and what I would like prayer for. But I’ve got a vulnerable adult in my group and it is not that person’s fault that I’m feeling rubbish. I feel pressure to put on a brave face and ‘be there’ for that person.

By the time the evening is over I’m so tired I can feel the tears bubbling up and threatening to start me bawling for no reason.

I am thankful that I’m much much better than I once was. This used to be everyday and worse. I used to need help washing my hair. I used to have to crawl to the bathroom or kitchen because I couldn’t walk. My joints were once in constant pain. And I used to have the added factor of nausea, heavy bleeding and pain that made me pass out before the wonderful wonderful injections of depo provera.

But I do find the unpredictability, the increasing food sensitivities and the return of migraines frustrating.

I just pray that being sensible and having rest days and being totally anal about what I put into my body will keep me being able to live a life I enjoy.

On that note, I’m going to quit griping and put some pyjamas on and crawl under my duvet. Maybe watch a bit of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ (thank you Gavin for lending it to me!) and most likely fall asleep. And be thankful I have a late start tomorrow.

Even if that means an afternoon of suicide awareness training! (not cheery…but important)

You are feeling very sleepy…

I’ve been found like this a lot over the last couple of weeks. I’m known for sleeping (hey, you know we koalas need our sleep, right?) but since coming back from Somerset I seem to be falling asleep during the day/evening a lot more than is usual for this time of year.

My friends have even noticed I seem to be much tireder (if that’s a word?!) than I usually am. Plus I can’t remember the last day where I straightened my hair. Purely for the fact that I just don’t have the energy to bother with the 30+ minute faff involved in using electronic gadgets like hairdryers and GHDs (and I’d be late for work/church/meetings….)

I’m partly putting it down to the fact there seems to be a lot of cold/flu bugs kicking around in Edinburgh just now, and I’m very good at catching bugs like that so it would make sense to be tired if my body is trying to fight off nasty evil germs. Plus the nights are drawing in, and the weather is getting more wintery (yeuuccch).

But it is scaring the s**t out of me a little, when I look at my diary in the coming months.

Will I be able to make it to Inter:act every Tuesday morning for 9 a.m. (when once again, I’m struggling to be in the office by 11)? What if I get ill doing Powerpoint? Will I be able to cope with all the travelling I’m going to be doing around Scotland visiting and supporting centres across the country? What’s going to happen when I start going into schools?

Of course, part of today’s bible reading would be Matthew 6.

All that stuff about from Matthew 6 (v25) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important thatn food, and the body more important than clothes?”

I have to say, ‘Yes Jesus, I know that is true‘.

But I also think ‘But Jesus, when I eat certain things it makes me unwell. And um, Jesus, I think I need to wear clothes because I think I’d get some complaints if I went and taught a class or welcomed people into a conference in the nude‘.

It’s funny how self-conscious you can get when you’re tired, and just feeling a bit blah in general. Somehow mr he who I don’t like to bother naming can stick his big ugly lying deceiving nose in with whispers about how everyone knows you’re fat, that you look like a minger, that you’re not good enough and that nobody likes you or thinks you are worth anything except in a pitying kind of sense.

I guess any insecurities just seem to become molehills being built into mountains as I let certain incidents play in mind and overthink people’s words and actions to mean something negative in my mind.

What a load of nonsense!

I actually met a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago who is a student. She has spent the summer ill with glandular fever and post-viral fatigue syndrome. Again, it SUCKS that another of my friends understands what it is like. But it was lovely to be able to talk to her honestly and give her hope and encouragement (I hope I did anyway) and pray together about it.

There’s no point in worrying about what is to come. I’ve just got to try and prepare, and be sensible and take it one step at a time and see how far we get!

:)

A sofa day…

At 4 p.m. yesterday I officially crashed and burned…

For some weird and unknown reason I woke up at 6 a.m., gave up on sleeping, got up at 7.30 a.m., made breakfast and next thing I know I’m falling asleep in my cereal bowl…so I went back to bed and didn’t wake up til 10.30 a.m.

So though I had high expectations of heading over to the posher suburbs to go to church this morning, I suspect much of my day will be spent like this…

Or like this…

With a wee stop off for some teaching, worship and catching up with people across the world here…(I can do it from my sofa which is awesome on days where I’m dozing off/shivering)…

And make sure I have breakfast (check!), lunch (about to make) and tea so I’m well rested to begin a week of hard work tomorrow.

Memoirs of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

May 12th is ME/CFS awareness day. So lots of us are blogging about our experiences today.

ME is the better known initials for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, and is more commonly known as Post-Viral or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

I’ll be honest, I had my doubts that this disease even existed, until suddenly, at age 19 I realised I couldn’t push through it anymore. Why was I so tired? Why did I permanently feel like I was coming down with cold/flu? Why did I wake up unable to bend my joints because of the pain? Why the sudden weakness in my muscles?

I am not very good at dealing with illness. I have got better, mainly because I had to. It has been a difficult journey though with many contributing factors.

All that happened was that in April 2003, I got a cold. It lasted for a little bit longer than usual. But no big deal. It’s just a cold.

But as I’m trying to study I’m falling asleep on my books. I’m getting enough sleep but I’m still tired. And the morning I woke up not able to move I just burst into tears. I was freakin’ terrified.

I carried on anyway (no special treatment, remember?) and eventually I fainted from exhaustion after one of my exams. So I went to the doctor.

You have post-viral fatigue syndrome she said.

And so I had to learn to rest. I had to learn to let people help me. I had to cope with needles as they took blood test after blood test.

And then I had to realise that the church looks at people who have post-viral fatigue syndrome as unreliable.

So I made myself much worse trying to prove that I wasn’t. Finding it very difficult to cope with feeling better, thinking I was finally recovering, having several good days, maybe even a couple of weeks only to walk into a lecture sit down and realise I was so exhausted and aching that there was no point of me being there.

The scariest thing was how it began to affect my mental health. I began to have panic attacks – usually because I’d fall asleep, but wouldn’t be properly asleep. I’d have flashbacks or wake up with all my muscles feeling seized up and find it difficult to breathe. So I’d start to panic. Which of course made it even more difficult to breathe. I’d hyperventilate and start shaking. Which made me feel sick. Which freaked me out because I thought I’d be sick. So then I’d start blacking out.

And so a few times I had paramedics called out. I twice ended up in A&E because of that. I also ended up in A&E when I fainted in my car – I’d thankfully pulled over because I was feeling weird and shaky. The doctors thought I was pregnant but nope, my body had ‘a virus’ in it. I had no fever, no sniffles… I just slept for a week.

A strange blessing was that I’d put on 1/2 a stone during my second year at uni. Thank God. Because while I was ‘recovering’ and been told by the doctors suggested had a million and one other things (depression, stress, asthma, PMS, arthritis…) and I went back to uni to start a new degree I lost more than a stone.

Credit to my Edinburgh friends, they didn’t say a word about how scarily thin I looked until much, much later when I started to put it back on.

Things turned around when I finally lost the plot and went to a GP that had really helped one of my friends with an ongoing problem that kept taking him to A&E.

“How can I help you today?” said the kindly doctor

“You can start by reading my file from the last year…because I’m fed up” I replied in a semi-irate tone.

He first was shocked, told me to come off half the prescriptions as there was no need for them (I agreed and told him I already had long ago) and then said…it’s obvious that you just have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Sweet relief. I didn’t have asthma, arthritis or any of the rest of it at all.

And he gave me the advice I needed to cope and get better.

I went home to Edinburgh that summer, and ended up with a job working for a Christian-run respite centre for adults with learning disabilities. I became a valued part of a team there and we had each other’s backs.

I also went to try and give blood for the first time. Thank God I did. They weighed me, and I discovered just how much weight I’d lost – I only weighed about 7st 6lb (104 lb) and had a BMI of 17.8 (Normal range is 18.5-24.9).

So working in the respite centre I was using up a lot more calories, so I needed to eat almost constantly through the day to start putting the weight back on. By the end of the summer I managed to hover around 8 stone. Phew.

When I went back to university I began my Junior Honours year of my Health Science degree. I returned with a new work ethic.

I only worked Monday-Friday. I went to uni at 9.30, did my seminars in the morning, had lunch and then worked until no later than 5 p.m. Occasionally if I had a big essay due in I might work on a Saturday afternoon. I always got 8 hours sleep.

On Saturdays I didn’t set an alarm – I woke up when I woke up…this way I had the chance to catch up on sleep if I needed to. I would have a chilled morning eating breakfast sprawled out on the cushion pile watching One Tree Hill and The OC on Channel 4. I would do housework on that day, but that was my chill-out day.

On Sundays I was up to go to church – the girls who lived nearby would come round and then we’d walk or go in Cassie together. We would either stay in church for lunch or go out to a cafe/pub for lunch – all the young adults together en masse.

We stopped going to church every Sunday evening when we realised we were getting exhausted from our Sundays been so crammed full, that we’d wake up on Monday shattered and not in the best place for beginning our uni week.

I kept that system up all the way through to my final year – even during finals & my dissertation. I always had one rest day a week with NO uni work (often I had 2), and I didn’t pull a single all-nighter.

And I watched the quality of my uni work improve as a result.

My mantra was – there’s no point in getting a good degree if it comes at the cost of my health. I do my best, I live my life….and if that’s not good enough, I have to accept that.

I think the toughest part, bizarrely has been recovery.

I was better, I am better…but I’m still not totally free of CFS.

I know that if I have a night of disturbed sleep and don’t catch up on it, I’ll come down with a cold or something within days. It’s like my whole body shuts down and starts malfunctioning.

I know that when I’m around kids for prolonged periods of time (like in church and in schools) I very quickly pick up their germs…and the joints start aching, my throat is sore, and I’m falling asleep everywhere (on the bus, at work, at my friend’s house…). And if I do get ill, it takes me longer to shake it off.

It has been tough, and I’m still learning to find a balance with in that. Not to live life in fear of getting ill, not to have a victim mentality…not to let CFS define who I am or stop me being the woman that I was created to be. At the same time I know that prevention is better, and most people will tell you they’d rather make a few sacrifices to prevent getting ill in the first place because you regret it if you don’t.

It’s also important to have understanding, supportive people around you. I’m very lucky to have that especially at work, and amongst some of my close friends. I would have gone completely insane without them. They encourage me, reassure me, give me hope when I’m feeling hopeless…but most importantly they accept me exactly the way I am.

And it’s because of them, that I’m still here…keeping on keeping on, and getting better. :)

Sunday night fatigue syndrome

It’s been a lovely weekend.

Alison visiting. 2 new cupcake experiments. Friend’s birthday. Back at church (wasn’t there because I was busy being a snot monster last weekend, considering buying shares in Kleenex).

I’ve now got Sunday night fatigue syndrome.

The missed meal. The lost buzz caused by lack of people. The freezing temperatures. The mind that is already started to try and wrap around the week ahead.

Plus I am now feeling it. And apparently make up isn’t hiding it. :)

I know that the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome just seems to lie dormant in the background of my life, and I’d quite like to just kick it out of my life permanently once and for all.

And what bugs me is that 6 years ago I thought I had.

I guess it’s my ‘limp’ or the ‘thorn in my flesh’. I’m still going, still doing what I was created and impassioned to do. I keep reminding myself how much better things are from this time last year…there’ll be more to say on that with March being Endometriosis Awareness month.

I think what I need to do is to enjoy the moments of being fully free and fully appreciate them and be wise in doing all I can to prevent the times of yuckyness that can hold me back making the most of this gift of life which I have been given.

Because it could all be over in a single second. And I don’t know when that second might be.

Feeling the prayer love!

Thanks for your prayers this week guys. I’ve felt them, I really have.

Monday & Tuesday have been stressful days. There is A LOT going on at the centre, a lot to be done. Just thinking about it my mind wants to spontaneously combust!

And I had a TON of malteser moments on Tuesday including sending an e-mail to myself instead of a school, walking to the Tesco at Holy Corner and realising that wasn’t where I parked my car and having to walk back past church to where I had parked my car, crashing my head off the side of Cassie’s door, and numerous gobbledygook sentences that caused Sarah to laugh at me as I tried to articulate simple things to her and failed miserably!

Including deciding that 669 + 21 = 700

(that’s wrong too)

I know God is going to get me through this – whatever it is.

If anything he’s given me a sense of humour. Heck, I’m going to make the first joke so we can at least find the funnies in this!

My friends are being awesome in taking me as I am….scattyness, not able to get out proper sentences a fair bit of the time, falling asleep, avoiding eating foods that seem to make me worse (like curry & pain au chocolat…sob!) and a BK with not a trace of make up on (I look like total crap just now, as confirmed by my friend’s Dad who saw me today – thanks Dave! lol).

I know some of my blog readers and twitter followers have been praying, and last night 3 of the folks on the worship team at MBC prayed over me. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t expect it, but I’m very thankful and appreciative of every single one of their & your prayers.

And of course there are the Elmo slippers. They never fail to cheer up Sarah and I!

I’m so excited what God is doing right now, and I hope I can tell you more soon.

I’m anticipating God doing some incredible stuff in 2010.

Confessions and Questions

Last week, a post of Pete Wilson’s caught my attention, (as they often d0). I have been running on empty for a looonnnnggg time now.

I realise that part of my stuggle was trying to separate God’s expectations from my own/other people’s expectations.

Since 2004, I’ve always used the sentence ‘I have been healed from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’.

This week I’ve been forced to recognise that as much as I really want to believe that to be true, there is a strong possibility that it’s not true.

I hate admitting this.

It brings so many questions.

How do you balance that with being in leadership? How do you still serve as part of church? How do you get spiritually replenished when you can barely get out of bed in the morning?

How do you say ‘no’ to things you really believe in and are passionate about? Should you be saying no at all? Should you just be trying to push through?

How do you cope when someone gives you a compliment and it just makes you want to cry because more and more you are struggling to do what you love? How do you cope when your spirit says one thing and your body says another?

When the culture you are part of is ‘all or nothing’…how do you deal with the fact that your limitations force you to try find a compromise? Will people accept that, or is it that you’re going to have to be replaced in God’s kingdom?

Something I’ll never forget was the first year of dealing with CFS and the different responses from people in church.

On a really bad day I was rota-ed on to sing in the music team, the worship leader was awesome. He picked me up from my flat because he knew I wouldn’t be able to walk at that time in the morning. They had a seat so I could sit between songs or while I sang if I couldn’t manage to stand.

After the service the band and service leaders came together in a prayer huddle.

A leader turned to me to tell me off for having a seat because it wasn’t ‘worshipful’.

Should I just have not sang?

Should I have stayed home?

Was it my lack of faith?

And why couldn’t I just ‘snap out of it’ like so many people suggested I should?

These are the questions in my head right now. As I struggle to even pray. I can pray for everyone who has really life threatening stuff going on. That stuff is the real stuff that needs prayer.

As I keep trying to do all the work I can, so thankful now that I only work part-time. Thankful I work with an amazing group of people who are incredibly understanding. Thankful (in a wish you hadn’t been through it too, but glad you understand what it’s like) that someone in my soon-to-be-made-extinct smallgroup has been through this. Thankful for social networking which is becoming a lifeline & at times my only connection to the outside world. Thankful for people I connect with online who understand what this is like. Thankful for so many encouraging blog friends who encourage and get me thinking.

But scared.

Scared as I look ahead to heading to Basingstoke in a couple of weeks time (booking a 6 a.m. flight now seems utter folly). Scared as I know that there will be no smallgroup come January…it’s going to be just little me from there forward.  Scared when I think of the training course Sarah and I will be leading January-May. Scared as I think of schools visits, the germs, and no one to replace me if I get ill.

Holding on…

Holding on to the words of Isaiah

“The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40: 28-31

It sure seems quiet around here…

…yep, it’s got to THAT time of year again. The time of year when the depression sets in as the days get shorter and shorter and you don’t want to get out of bed for fear of the icy cold blast that hits you as soon as you part from your duvet cover…

…the time of year when I start going into schools that are full of germs…and everyone you know has some kind of bug…(except this year we’re scaring people into being a bit more Public Health minded with two words…swine flu).

I’m now over half way through this stint of schools visits for October. I’m definitely fighting off something as have been struggling with my joints seizing up/aching and a sore throat and some crazy tiredness. Today I almost walked straight in front of a bus because I was just totally spaced out.

It’s a reminder to me of the importance to rest, to eat healthy and try not to overdo things.

It’s a reminder that although it sucks not to be fully ‘healthy’, there was a point where working 5 hours in a job made for 3 days of sleeping to recover. That there was a time when I couldn’t so much as lift a hairdryer to my head.

And I’m reminded of the words of Isaiah…

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:29-31

Today was looooonnnnnnggggg and I was having a tough time staying focused but then someone came to drop off a pile of baby stuff – a buggy, some toys and clothes…including a pair of slippers that look like Elmo!!!

A photo025#1

Ok, so I totally confess that I LOVE Elmo. In fact one of my dreams is to be on Sesame Street and do the Alphabet song with Elmo (although it’s ‘Zed’ not ‘Zee’). The Elmo slippers have now become our centre mascots and have a home next to our main computer.

Unless some newborn kiddle like really needs them.

But until that day comes they’re  sitting there to cheer me up as I tear my hair out trying to get everything done that needs doing or trying to work out some fresh ways of getting teenagers to think about relationships, pregnancy, parenting, adoption and abortion.

They are the new cinnamon swirls in other words…. :)

Sunday Scribblings: Hungry

HT: Sunday Scribblings

There are 2 things that the word ‘Hungry’ makes me think of. Firstly it makes me think of Hungry Hippos. I seriously loved playing that game when I was a wee lassie! Secondly, I think of a song by Kathryn Scott called ‘Hungry‘, which is more about feeding your soul, God’s provision and surrendering yourself to Him.

So as I sit after a Saturday off work where I had a lie-in, haven’t straightened my hair or put a trace of make up on and spent much of the afternoon listening to music and reading books I’ve had on the go for months and never finished reading…I wonder what I’m hungry for, or what it is that feeds my soul?

I guess I have a hunger to grow as a person, as a child of God, and to grow to be more like Jesus. I am nowhere close to that goal!! But I think I make gradual steps in some areas over the last few years (and a few steps back in other areas!)

After having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I discovered the tough way that rest is key to my growth and the feeding of my soul. Without it, my immune system is defeated surprisingly quickly and I have no energy for learning anything really. My stubborn streak however does try to fight this, remembering a time where I did so much on little sleep and possibly the worst diet in the world…(Any of you done a day of dance training on a bottle of Sunny Delight, half a pot noodle and a snickers bar???)

Something I discovered on that journey was music…music and films somehow soothed me and inspired me in a way nothing else could when I had CFS.

Today, even now I find that it still does that in a way reading sometimes can’t when I find it difficult to get my brain to focus on listening to someone speaking or reading words on a page.

I find it important to have some time on my own in my car driving down a motorway with music on – praying and listening. A two-way conversation with God really!

And lastly it matters what type of food I eat.

Only today I was chatting with my friend and his family about depression, disease and the food you eat…why it matters. You fill your body with junk and it will bring you down. You fill your body with food that gives you the nutrients you need and you’ll feel and see the difference.

And when you’re feeling blue there’s nothing quite like some chocolate brownie cheesecake…

Or an innocent smoothie wearing a little woolen hat….