Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Feeling Down

I am currently having an awful time physically and emotionally. I don't think I've ever felt so low in my entire life. So I'm hoping by writing about it, it will be like I'm accepting it so I can try and move forward.

I am currently experiencing the most pain I have ever felt from my Fibromyalgia since I've had the illness and it is so crippling and draining. I feel like I just want to curl up in bed and not move because the pain from doing the most simple tasks is frustrating me so much. I can't wash my hair, take a shower, make my breakfast, go up/down the stairs or drive my car without feeling severe aches and pains. As you can't see that I'm in pain because I don't have swelling or bruising, it's hard for people to understand how much pain I am in and it's so frustrating. As well as the pain I feel like I am absolutely drained and I don't have any energy at all. Even the thought of picking up a glass to drink out of is too much effort. I have even had to sit here for 20 minutes forcing myself to go on the computer to type this.

The thought of going to work is actually making me panic because I am really not coping. The thought of having to walk down the car park, walk up the flights of stairs, sit in my seat without moving for hours straight, having to constantly be happy and bubbly talking to customers when inside I just want to burst into tears and scream, the pressure of targets and selling and the constant abuse from the team leaders because your not doing as well as others makes me feel psychically sick. I have been suffering from panic attacks, depression, anxiety and mood swings just from the pressure of having to work in a job I hate as well as having to push myself psychically just do a four hour shift that sounds so easy to other people. 

Even the people closest to me are guilty of not understanding and underestimating how bad my condition seems to be getting. I have no energy to do anything! I have to force myself to get out of bed in the morning and wash my face and brush my teeth. I have no motivation at all the put make up on, do my hair and put on nice clothes. As the effort of doing all that tires me out so much. I am currently spending every single day looking for a new job which just seems to make me worse as the only jobs that seem to be available is jobs I can't do due to my Fibromyalgia, which doesn't help with the depression side of things. Although I'm surrounded by amazing friends and family I have never felt so lonely. Nobody knows how to cheer me up or say the right thing. I am probably a nightmare to cope with at the moment. 

All my friends are doing amazing things with their lives and the sky is literally the limit for some of them where as I feel like I have taken a million steps back and I'm watching them all start these amazing lives. I can't go to university, I can't work full time, I can't go travelling and I can't move out. Some friends are starting their education, others have finished and are working fully qualified and where am I? Stuck in a call centre doing a job I hate 16 hours a week earning hardly any money and spending the rest of my time in bed. If I do manage to do things with my friends it will leave me in bed for days recovering. All I think is what sort of a life is this? I envy every single one of my friends because I can't be a teacher or a nurse or a lifeguard or a university student or an engineer or an account executive or a police officer as the hours they have to work and the physical aspects of their jobs I just can't do. 

The one word to sum up how I feel right now is useless.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Staying Sober

A massive symptom of my Fibromyalgia is an intolerance to alcohol. Yes you heard it correct, I can not drink any amount of alcohol or I have a reaction very similar to food poisoning. As you can imagine at the age of 19 this is very annoying as in the UK the legal drinking age is 18 so all my friends are having a drink when were in the pub, out for a meal, on a night out or having just a girlie night in. 
I have never met or heard of anyone with FM having this symptom before, but my doctor has assured me it is from a chemical intolerance associated with FM and I have read bits on the internet that is can be common for FM sufferers to have this symptom. 

So please if any of you have this symptom let me know?!

But not all symptoms of Fibromyalgia are a negative because as annoying and frustrating it is not being able to drink alcohol and join in with everyone I wouldn't change it for the world.

My car is definitely the 'party bus' as I always do lifts as I'm always sober. I love being able to take my friends out on a night out save getting taxi's and I can just come home whenever I want. As I am so good at putting on a brave face and a shield as I like to call it, I am definitely not the type to need alcohol when I'm out. Most people don't even know I have an intolerance to alcohol and are very shocked to find out as they think I am drunk.

However, even though there is huge positives for me not drinking alcohol it's not always something I'm happy about. In the culture of Britain now it is seen as being extremely 'weird' and 'boring' to not drink alcohol and I find the easiest way of explaining to people who don't know I have FM is by telling them 'I am allergic to alcohol' even though that's not true. I do feel like I am missing out sometimes as I find it hard to socialise sometimes especially when my other symptoms are getting me down. I can't have a glass of rose wine with a meal when I am in a restaurant, I can't have a celebratory glass of champagne at Weddings, Birthdays and New Year and I can't have a cocktail on holiday lying in the sun. I do have to put my shield up sometimes and pretend that it doesn't bother me. Even though in the back of my mind I am yet again thinking of how my Fibromyalgia is holding me back from what everyone else my age is doing.

If I had a choice I would not go back to drinking alcohol even if I didn't have a reaction! Also a tip for anyone who do has this symptom, bar staff are normally very sympathetic and I have had 'mocktails' (non-alcoholic cocktails) made for me and free cokes given to me on nights out!

The idea behind this post is that I will always try and find the positive in something so negative.
There will always be a silver lining, it may just take a lot of searching through the cloud.
However I am still trying to find the positives in any of my other FM symptoms!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

An Introduction To Me...

My name is Sarah Cartwright and I am a 19 year old girl from North Wales and I have Fibromyalgia.
I was diagnosed with FM around two years ago but I have had my symptoms since I was 13 so I have had FM for about six or seven years now. 
(wow, I didn't realise it was that long!)

The best way I have heard to describe the problems I face with my condition is that I have the mindset of a normal 19 year old girl but my body just won't do what I want it to. This is the most frustrating part. I want to go out partying until the early hours, I want to go shopping all day and blow my wages, I want to be able to work full time and I just want a normal life but my body has other ideas.

First I'll try and explain the severity of my symptoms as Fibromyalgia (FM) can affect people in very different ways from being able to lead a normal life with hardly any problems to being completely crippled with it and having to spend most of their time in bed or in a wheel chair. For me I'm probably smack bang in the middle.

I suffer with chronic severe pain all over my body in my muscles and joints, which never goes away or eases off. So you can try and understand how bad it is I'll list all the places it affects me:

Toes, Heels, Ankles, Shins, Calves, Knees, Thighs, Groins, Hips, Lower Back, Down my Spine, Upper Back, Stomach, Ribs, Chest, Shoulders, Upper Arms, Elbows, Lower Arms, Wrists, Knuckles, Fingers, Neck and Jaw. 

So pretty much every part of my body. I have the most pain in my elbows, back and thighs and knees which as you can imagine makes walking and standing very difficult. Any sort of psychical activity will leave me in agony the next day, and yes this includes dancing the night away unfortunately. My symptoms only show half of their severity at the time of activity as they don't come out properly until the next day. This is why a lot of people don't understand how much pain I am in because I can have a dance on a night out, but they don't see me in bed unable to get up the next day. For any normal 19 year old girl shopping is heaven, for me it is a nightmare. The walking, trying to look through clothes, carrying bags and trying on clothes just sounds like a day in bed waiting to happen. So for me I avoid it at all costs and internet shopping has become my life saver. As you can imagine this gets me very down and I do suffer from extreme mood swings, depression and anxiety from not being able to do all the things everyone else my age is doing. This also includes working full time. I tried it and gave it my best but I just physically could not do it and it actually breaks my heart as I am definitely not the type to sit back at home and have the government pay for me. So I do work part time (as hard as that is sometimes too) and from home when I have the energy to.

Not only does Fibromyalgia cause me severe chronic pain but also chronic fatigue. This isn't just tiredness it's actually having no energy to do the simplest tasks. Some days I struggle so much to just get myself out of bed and make breakfast never mind go out and do things. After any amount of sleep I just wake up feeling not refreshed and like I could go back to sleep for another 10 hours. This is where I struggle to work as I lose concentration as I'm so tired, I have no energy at work and to do simple tasks. 

As well as both of these a new problem I have been having to deal with over the last two years has been feeling generally ill. You know when you are beginning to get a cold or a virus and you ache all over, you feel a little tingly but it's not a nice feeling, you have that annoying headache that's only just there and the horrible feeling in your throat that's not quite a sore throat. Well I feel like that every single day on top of my pain and fatigue which a lot of people don't realise or understand.

I have all my symptoms all day, everyday and there is never a time when they are not present. I have just become so used to putting on a brave face. When I am with my friends I am always laughing and joking like my normal or should I say old bubbly self. When I'm on a night out I try to fight through the anger and pain to dance with the girls and have a good time. When I'm in work I put on my telephone voice to hide the upset and fatigue I feel. As soon as I get home I let my shield down and I am miserable, I really don't know how my family put up with me but they are so understanding. They let me shout and snap at them and lock myself in my room, then they talk to me and hug me when I need comfort. I would not be able to cope without my supportive family and understanding friends. 

I wanted to write this blog as a relief for myself to just be able to just say how I'm feeling and what I've had to accomplish everyday so that I don't bottle things up. As well as for others who suffer with the same condition to know they are not the only ones out there. As Fibromyalgia is medically known to affect older people I have found it very hard to sympathise with other people with this condition as my doctor and his colleagues have never seen it in someone from the age of 13 which is why I was so hard to diagnose. So I am hoping there are others like me and we can confide in each other.