Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Relieved I am sick?

I just wrote a new status update on facebook. It went like this: "Well, sometimes when I feel lousy, I am convinced half of it is in my head & I keep pushing on... perhaps it explains the (almost) sense of relief that I have at being told I have a strep throat & middle ear infection requiring massively strong antibiotics to get over... The doctor was using hyperbole all through the examination & said my ears were particularly spectacular! She was surprised one of my eardrums hadn't perforated as it is so swollen she couldn't see the back of the ear canal... I only mention this because it all proves that I am really sick! It's not just in my head & in a sick kind of way (pardon the pun) that makes me happy! ..." 
I almost immediately thought about why I felt this way... I mean, I am not happy to have a strep infection in my throat, apart from the pain it's causing & the miserable feelings it's giving me, I don't want to have to cope with another course of antibiotics, especially the really strong ones I've been prescribed... but back when I was perpetually depressed & even back when I was at school, I used to want to be sick more often than not.

Yes you read that correctly - I actually wanted to be sick.

When I was at school I hated it so much! I was either bored or felt completely overlooked when I was in a subject I struggled with, like maths, & my only joy in school was my social life with my closest friends. At primary school I was even bullied by a teacher, although it took me some years to realise this. When I was legitimately sick I could stay at home & read... I loved reading, & sleeping & not being at school in general...

Later, when I was an adult & after my brain haemorrhage, I suffered severe depression. Depression is still such a mysterious illness, which anyone who hasn't experienced it first hand, can really struggle with understanding. Even people who have clinical depression are often unaware of it, at least initially! I can sometimes be in a bout of depression without even recognising it, & I consider myself aware of the signs & thoughts that go with it. I must say that during the worst periods of my illness in the 1990s, I would almost hope to injure myself or become ill so that people couldn't expect me to fulfill commitments & obligations. I remember realising this when, during my recovery from a break down in 1998 I walked out to the back garden & as I descended the steps to the clothes line I realised a familiar sense was missing. I examined what was different about it this time, & was shocked, & relieved, to know that I wasn't looking at the wonky steps with the concrete footpath at their base as a potential injury trap... somewhere in the back of my mind, deep in my subconscious I thought that if I fell & broke a leg, arm or ankle then I couldn't work, couldn't drive, couldn't attend social or other commitments... I would be blameless AND "off the hook"... & yes, even social events were overwhelming to me.

So, as I have recovered, my health has become more important to me as well. I have learned a lot about being proactive against illness & about what natural therapies support my immune system with success... I have learned to take steps to help myself before I come down with something, rather than wait until I am completely ill before taking some preventative or analgesic... I try to keep my health on track by taking daily multivitamins & sometimes adding other supplements which support my immune system like olive leaf extract, black elderberry extract, echinacea & vitamin C or zinc. I drink lots of water, & usually have a filter bottle or a filter jug so that I am not taking in any of the pollutants in our water supply... I now hate being sick, so when I am I do what I can to get well as soon as possible.

The pain in my throat, right now, feels like I am trying to swallow around a sharp rock, & the ache in my ears is horrible... but knowing I am not so depressed that I am "wishing" these symptoms on myself means so much to me! I have a fantastic doctor who discussed side effects of the antibiotics with me & advised me to eat lots of live culture yoghurt. I was able to visit the local health food shop for some suppliments, including vitamin D, & I will do everything in my power to get over this as soon as possible & as completely as possible!
My next plan is to get healthy & have a stronger immune system!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Almost ready...

I am making good progress with the book I am going to follow for my cleansing diet. I have been out to buy some "magic foods" - the blue foods which contain amazing antioxidents & healthy quantities of vitamins & minerals, such as blue berries, blackberries, strawberries & beetroot juice...
I have dug out some of the dietry shakes which were recommended to me some time ago, which are low in fat & contain little to no dairy, but which have vitamin complexes which will support me & give me energy while I am trying to adjust my diet. I remember having great success with these a couple of years ago, when I gained energy from having a magic berry shake with this added for breakfast. It not only helped me feel full & suppressed my false appetite (which is due to the insulin resistance which causes blood sugar levels not to register properly) but also gave me added energy which I need to be more active & when keeping up with young children!
I did break down tonight & eat chocolate... It was just one bag of m&ms but it was a big bag... I used to binge a lot. Does anyone else do that? I imagine it's a bit like bulemic binge eating - anything & everything you desire - & then purging, only I don't purge. Partly because I hate throwing up & partly because I feel like that's cheating (& I don't want to ruin my teeth) so I feel gross & sick & swear I'll never, ever binge eat again...
In the past I've done this with all sorts of foods. Back in the day my favourite things to binge on were Twisties, family size blocks of Cadbury's chocolate (the Australian version), Camembert or Brie cheeses (a whole wedge or a small wheel), any cheese really... ice cream - especially the real vanilla version with the visible vanilla seeds from the pod, sugary drinks, milky drinks, alcoholic drinks (although getting drunk was never part of the plan...) Snakes Alive, Fantails, Tim Tams (sometimes as a slam with coffee), Kingston biscuits, salami or other manufactured, hand made sausages or luncheon meats..
It's really rather pathetic reading that list, but I am really, really trying to be honest, & I don't think this is something I've ever discussed before. I feel disgusting & slightly sick just reading that list, but I also feel somehow liberated to admit that I've done this... time & again! Always promising myself, as I stocked up on forbidden treats & indulgent quantities of favourite foods, that it was one last hurrah before I started a diet in earnest... It never really was. I am very honest with everyone, but myself. I never, ever intentionally tell a lie, except where my own health or happiness is concerned. I know it has to stop.
Anyway - I am facing up to my faults & failings & hope in naming them & bringing them out in the open I can avoid them. If I am tempted to go out & buy ready mixed icing or Kraft peanut butter with the intention of spooning it straight from the jar & eating the lot, hopefully I will read this blog & remember how sickly I feel when I do so...
I am also looking to get some further counselling. I had a great series of sessions in 2010-2011 soon after my Mother passed away. It helped enormously, but I have still been through a lot more since then, believing I was going to die, or at least end up on the street, but relying on the kindness & charity of others instead & finally finding the strength to get back into a normal life again. It is not an exaggeration to put it in those terms... The depression which I went through is difficult to explain, but depression is not about feeling down or being sad or crying a lot... it's not even about the dark, heavy, suffocating world you believe you live in... it's about not seeing a way through. It's about not being able to envisage things getting better or how to get to the next stage in your life. I couldn't imagine how I would pay for food, or rent, or how I would get strong enough to work again... I sometimes couldn't be inspired enough to walk downstairs & have a shower, because I wasn't going to see anyone or do anything which required me to be that clean so why spend the energy on washing my self & my hair? Depression does pass, though... it takes strength & a belief that things are going to get better, but you will make it better, no matter how hard it is to see that possibility! It's also true that you rarely realise how depressed you are when in the grip of a bout of it... but part of the healing process is looking back & knowing how far you've come. Now that I recognise I've come through a very difficult time, especially when I am so far from home, from family & friends, & especially given that some friends just didn't have it in them to be there for me, even long distance (which is sad, but something I am slowly coming to terms with) I know it's time to sit down & reassess where I am with some professional guidance... I am looking forward to understanding myself better & learning how to help myself become stronger & healthier through taking care of my mental health as well as my physical & spiritual health...

Another fun Fact you might not know about me #8

I was raised to believe that an open bathroom door was really vulgar, & to this day I really find an open toilet door disgusting. In addition I was raised to lower the lid, so forget any debate about seats... there's a lid for a reason & you need to close it, people! End of! 
 I also dislike people putting toilet paper on the roll back-to-front... yes, there is a correct way to face TP & it always is rolled over & towards you... rolled towards the wall is silly & wrong! Yes - I realise these rules combine to create toilet etiquette OCD, but I HAVE to live by them!!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Where I am at...

pic of me taken at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket
23rd Feb, 2013
Many of you know I have been eating gluten again for a while, now, & once I have had some blood tests which my lovely doctor has ordered but which I haven't "got around to doing, yet" I will return to a gluten free diet once more.

Why? Because I need to make some changes in my life!

For one thing, I am feeling so tired, and yet I am not sleeping well - or rather, I am not sleeping when I should! I go to bed, do all the things which are supposed to be "cues to sleep" but then I either toss & turn for hours or I do other things in order to distract myself from tossing & turning... Things like watching TV, going online, reading... the usual!

I am also having far more headaches than I did when I was avoiding gluten... I don't think either of these things are a coincidence, as I noticed a decrease in my headaches the first time I switched to a wheat-free diet back in 2010. I know that making the switch again will make a difference to my overall health.

I've had a really rough couple of years which takes it's toll on not only my mental & emotional health, but my overall immune system. It's been shown time & again, during studies, that the physical, spiritual & mental states of people have a close correlation. Well, apart from numerous minor ailments over the last couple of years, I've had 2 sinus infections in the last 6 months. I have suffered depression, & gone through a period where my only contact with the church I love has been the home group I attend every other Wednesday, which I make it to most of the time - except when I am not well... see above!

Then there's the fact that I do actually want to get healthier & lose weight, but right now I simply don't have the energy. I've noticed  that I don't have the mental energy, either, especially at the end of the day, when I am making choices about what to do & how to eat in my free time.

I know I need to lose weight as I am officially classified as obese. This means my knees & joints are under added pressure from the extra weight they are bearing. I recently saw an episode of "Embarrassing Bodies" which was about weight-related problems. The handsome, & very buff, Dr Christian has only 7% body fat... so he certainly did not suffer from excess weight! (In fact if anything his body fat is considered too little to be truly healthy). Dr Christian donned a body suit which added both size & weight to his frame, & carried out a series of tests which he'd previously performed at his regular weight & fitness level. I initially thought that the tests would not be that difficult even though he had the extra weight, because of his fitness & strength, but to my surprise he had difficulty walking any great distance without becoming breathless due to both the effort & impact on his joints which the added weight caused. This was an eye-opener.
Me (left) with Janine
23rd Feb, 2013
I've also been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome (PCOS). Additional weight is both a cause & an effect of PCOS. Weight adds to the body's inability to absorb insulin & insulin resistance adds to the bodies cravings for food & to the inability to lose weight. I am in a difficult starting place, and even my doctor has said it's going to be "very, very, very difficult" to get started, but she also said a little weight loss will make a huge difference to the condition & that once I start losing weight it will become easier. I am trying to cut out refined sugar, although I do still have cravings which result in me having slip ups in my good intentions.

Being insulin resistant also means I am predisposed to developing type 2 diabetes, which is something I do not want! I have read a lot about insulin resistance which is pretty much what type 2 diabetes is caused by & it can definitely be eased, if not completely reversed by losing weight. Diet is important in this, so I do most definitely need to make changes in my diet. I also want to exercise to improve my chances of both losing weight & getting fitter & more able to keep up with the demands of my job & life!

To sum it all up in a word, I am feeling "sluggish".

It's clear to me that I need to kick start some changes in my life. Poor immune system, lack of energy, lots of headaches, sleep problems, lack of motivation, difficulty organising myself, even poor memory compared to my previous abilities, have made me feel that I am far from being who I really want to be & I want to get back to being that person!!

I have done several things in the past which have helped. Losing weight is obviously an important thing I need to do. My health would benefit hugely, & we all know that losing weight means gaining energy, so, I am currently reading this book, "The Ultimate Detox" by Dr Sandra Cabot & Margaret Jasinska ND. It's subtitle is "2-Week Deep Cleansing Diet" it's described as a way to "restore your health & lose weight". My sister, Leigh, has recently done this cleansing diet & she feels more energised, is thinking more clearly, is sleeping well, & has lost weight. Of course she was nowhere near as heavy as I am when she started, but she feels so much better that I figure I will definitely see a difference. I've done cleansing diets before & felt healthier & stronger & more able to think clearly, & slept better, as well as lost weight as a result! What I really need to do to get started is be more organised each day so I don't grab the nearest snack or most tempting food available. I also need to get my head into a place where I can follow through on my good intentions.
The Ultimate Detox, which I am currently reading.
So, I am preparing at the moment - a) by reading the book & b) by purchasing some dietary items which will support me on this journey. I want to start in about a week when I will not be working (as the family I work for are in Hong Kong) & so be in a better position to cope with expected initial side-effects such as headaches, stomach discomfort, possible constipation, diarrhoea or nausea, aching, feeling like I'm coming down with something, or other possible symptoms of my liver & lymphatic system clearing out the toxins I've been gathering by my sedentary & indulgent lifestyle... It might not be pretty, but it will be worth while!

I will, of course keep my blog updated... and I might just pop in here to reread this post from time to time in order to prop up my determination to follow through on this course of action!

Really fun thing you might not know about me #7

I photograph lost items! 
 If I see a lonely item, perhaps a glove or a scarf, a toy or a hat, sitting by the side of the road, on the footpath or kindly placed on a fence, I snap it! 
 It started when I was working here in Nappy Valley & every day I would see a dummy, a sock, a shoe & it was always so incongruous seeing a soft, childish item on a concrete path, or on a dirty black roadway... 
 I try to always take a pic with the item featuring in the foreground & the streetscape (or wherever it is) in the background... I have quite a few pics, now! 
  I could easily have more if I was always abe to stop! Sometimes it's just not possible!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Not-so-fun fact you might not know about me #6

I loath celery... There is very little food I won't eat, but celery is something that comes from the devil's bottom in terms of taste! It is so foul that the very smell of it makes me dry retch! I dislike aniseed a lot, & liquorish for that matter, but celery, especially raw, is the foulest thing anyone could ever put in their mouth & masticate... 
I am not a fussy eater... I have eaten snails in a French restaurant (in Melbourne many, many years ago) I have tried intestines (not sure what kind, but I actually tried them in the Philippines) I have consumed modern day Absynthe, I love steak & kidney puddings & pies, lambs fry & other foods which are not to everyone's taste... but if there was one food I would banish from this earth, it would have to be celery... It just adds insult to injury that it's so good for you & actually has negative calories!!!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

More you might not know about me #5

One of my (irrational) OCD things is to peel labels off things once they've been purchased... I cannot leave a price tag, sticker or advertising label on something either I, or someone else I live with/visit/happen to know, have bought... If you ever check out my book shelves or DVDs, CDs or anything of mine it will not have a price tag on it... Why? Because it's no longer for sale!!! Nor does it need a sticker with "bonus track" or "shortlisted for the Booker Prize" stuck to it... it doesn't need anything on it to promote it's sale because I already bought it!!! OK?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Fun fact you might not know about me #4

I am passionate about history... 

I always have been, & always research the local history of any area I find myself living in! 

I have been researching my family history for the past 22 years... heading for 23, now! 

I seriously am addicted to history now I'm living in London! Every corner you turn, every building you enter, every person you speak with is a new story or a new slice of the history of this beautiful & amazing city! 

The River Thames is the beating heart of this place, too...

I still have to pinch myself from time to time... I just can't get over the fact that I live in the city where Dickens created such amazing characters as The Artful Dodger, Fanny Squeers & Lady Honoria Dedlock, Where William Shakespeare trod the boards & became the Bard... 

Where Henry VIII had 2 of his wives executed & broke with the Catholic Church. Where Queen Elizabeth refused every suitor & Queen Victoria & Prince Albert had 9 children... where Punch & Judy were first performed & where Samuel Pepys wrote copious diaries... Mozart played here, Anna Pavlova danced here & Wordsworth wrote here... People of a generation before mine lived through conditions which we would find unimaginable today... sending their children away to keep them safe, & working, living, doing everything as normal in the face of nightly bombing raids which saw thousands die & tens of thousands become homeless night after night after night... 

The history of this amazing city gets under your skin... I am just so lucky!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Fun fact about me #3

I received my first camera when I was a wee child... along with a black & white film. The camera was actually an old one which had belonged to my Dad, but I loved it & took lots of photos of my family with it... 
Later, when I was 17, I spent a whole summer working for a lovely family in their stationary shop. I spent all my earnings from that summer on my Pentax SP1000 camera & have taken so many photos on it that I have no idea how many thousands... it travelled to the UK with me in 1995 & to New Zealand in 1989, even the Philippines in 2003/4.
 It took me a while to embrace digital photography - but once I did, I did it with passion!!!
Now I tend to photograph every experience, even if it's just walking to the shops... I like to capture the world from my own personal viewpoint!  
As a footnote, it took me a while to realise that my Grandfather, Jack Arthur Ritchie Martin, was also a photography buff... he snapped pictures of my Grandmother, Helena, as well as places, family, events & holidays... I just wish he'd written more about them on the back or put them in albums with notes attached...  It is lovely to know that we shared a passion in common, though!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Fun fact you might not know about me #2

I eat m&ms in colour order from darkest to lightest... I have done this for many, many years, maybe as long as m&ms have been in my life! I have tried to work out why I do so, & the only thing I can think of is that I also eat jelly beans in order of my favourite flavours. I dislike the black ones badly, so I usually start by giving them to someone who'll appreciate them (aniseed... Blegh!) then go to purple & so on through to my favourite which is white! For some reason they are delicious! (not even sure what their flavour is, but it might be vanilla-ish...) 

Fun fact you might not know about me #1

After working in retail for over 10 years (while I was also an unemployed actress) I still "face up" my bank notes in my purse... I also keep them in order from the lowest denomination in front to the highest in the back... there's usually little difference between them, however, as I rarely have any "big notes" in my purse! British ones are easiest to face up, as we have HM Queen Elizabeth II on one side of each note! (above photo: British bank notes)

above: Australian polymer bank notes - traditionally the smallest denomination features the reigning monarch on it's face. The other notes feature Australians who are considered to have furthered the development of the nation.
above: Euro bank notes... the highest denomination I have ever held is a 50 Euro note.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Return to the blog...

Wow! Look at at that! A whole year on...

I just didn't have the heart to write about self-improvement when I was struggling just to make ends meet. My weight went up & down & up again as I comfort ate my way through 4 house-moves & the stress of what to do when one situation failed & another was miserable for me. I loved working with CJ & MJ, the boys whom I cared for in 2012, & who are still very precious to me! I really loved their parents, especially Kathy who is one of those rare people who lives by the compassion & action that Jesus showed us... time & again she has said the right thing, or done something, put wheels in motion for me just when I most needed it. I count her a very precious friend & feel so very blessed to have her in my life. The boys also continue to fill me with joy & I love the opportunities to spend time with them, either visiting, catching up for a meal or babysitting when their new nanny is not available.

I love my new boys, JJ who is 4 years old & his little brother AJ who turned 20 months today. They are bright, alert, creative, fun, funny, challenging, talkative... all the things you'd expect of pre-schoolers! I am constantly exhausted at the end of the day. Living with a family again is something I appreciate more now that I've done the "live out" option for over 12 months... London is expensive & the impact of living with someone who didn't want me there, just wanted the rental income, was brutal. I now love my little room, under the roofline, with the shelves & wardrobe built in to suit me, the TV bought for my entertainment & a family I love & feel completely at ease with..

I am making regular payments & inroads into the debts which have been eating away at my sanity & my soul, making sleep difficult & life a nightmare at times... it is impossible to overstate the stress which comes of inadequate income & demanding debtors... No wonder I comfort ate myself to almost 100kg. Not something I am proud of, but something I need to aknowlege, forgive myself for & move forward.

I weighed myself & had an analysis of my body fat yesterday. The results were pretty shocking. 98.0 kg (although last time I weighed myself I was 99.8 which was really a shock!) My body mass index (BMI) is 35.6 which is very overweight (although the national average is 33.2, a good BMI is 29), My body fat is 44.5% of my overall weight!! That is really horrific as far as I am concerned! If I lost most of my body fat I would weigh just over 50kg, but a safe, healthy weight for me would be between 50.9 & 68.8... I think at this stage I'd be thrilled to get down to the 70s for the first time in over 2 decades...

Clearly I do need to take stock anew & get more excersise into my life, reduce sugar & fats in my diet & reduce the quantities I am consuming...

I'll keep you updated.