Welcome!

Hey everyone! Im Tor! I have a complex diagnosis (which is still being tinkered with, but currently I am diagnosed with PTSD, Bipolar, psoriasis, arthritis/fibromyalgia and urticaria) and I started this blog as a kind of online diary...just somewhere to write about my recovery journey. It has recieved a little more attention than I had thought it might!

I write to help others, hoping that my experiences might provide a few useful tips for others who have mental or physical disorders. The blog is still being built and has some new categories and some disability product reviews. 

There is also a companion facebook group to this blog also called "prsd and bipolar and ouchies,Oh my". Please pop over for mututally supportive discussion and exchange of coping ideas!! 

Please comment! Bookmark my blog (I update it regularly) and use the like button. I hope you find something helpful here. Specific conditions have categories in the menu. There is also a guest post section. I welcome submissions to the guest post page. If you would like to contribute please contact me via the contact page.

For now..enjoy browsing, and have a great day!

Bad joints. Ouch.

Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

I have been in increasing pain over the last six years and to be honest being offered a diagnosis was a relief. Because i also have bipolar and ptsd doctors took the road that I was imagining my pain.

 

          I am still learning about the disorder but it is clear to me that it is incurable and progressive and aggressively attacks joints. The worst of it isnt even the pain at this point. Its the fatigue. Needing help all of the time isnt actually as depressing as the pure exhaustion.

It could apparently be fibromyalgia but that fails to explain the bruising, redness and swelling of my joints. Given how hampered I am I really hope its not. This is because due to my psychiatric conditions the usual drugs given to make patients feel happier about their pain and stop demanding actual proper treatment are a no go for me.

 

         Before my symptoms hit I was fairly active. Now I have had to curtail most activities and that sucks but its not as bad as constantly feeling exhausted. 

The rheumatologists can't decide if I have arthritis or fibromyalgia and keeps flip flopping between the two,  so I'm going to research and read about both and other related disorders and post my experiences and findings under the PSA/fibromyalgia category of this blog. I hope you find something useful there!

 

        I will document my journey with treatment but today i need a nap and my evening dose of cbd and codeine. I just want to sleep and actually wake up feeling like I have slept!

Psychological education results in endless pieces of helpful paper.....

Back to school, imaginary cars, and Bipolar

Not regular school. Although I do study at home. Currently I am learning about mindfulness

           Part of recovery from Bipolar is education. In the UK many areas offer classes on learning to navigate many mental illnesses. Later in this blog I will be writing extensively about tips and tricks you can use to keep your errant mind in check.

          Education is essential. You cannot recover if you do not know what is happening to you. If you don't understand you feel more confusion, more fear. If classes are not available to you there are multiple self help books available and if you have the money or insurance, therapists.

            Reading blogs. Accredited medical websites and joining support groups on Facebook are free and easily available forms of education. They will help you feel less alone. Understand the bare bones of your disorder and why you (for instance) have to stir your cup of tea thirty times to feel comfortable.. Yeah. I do that.

           In the classes I attended I was given multiple handouts. The one above shows how to manage fluctuating energy and resilience levels. It simply explains a very wordy concept in one image. A picture is worth a thousand words.

            All of those pieces of paper, and clinicians, and medicines, added up to me.. Present day. A very different person to who I was when I was having multiple mood epsiodes, getting randomly angry (those feelings still bubble up but now I can manage them better) and feeling suicidal because my ignorant family was adding to my pain and suffering, not helping.  This is distressingly common. You don't have to be a good person to give birth. You don't even have to be a person.

             I can't magically transport you all into a psychoeducation  class, but I can share these magical little pieces of paper now and then. With their wisdom and nuggets of priceless knowledge. I can tell you how I learned to manage and recognise my mood episodes and flashbacks.

             Learn. Education is salvation for sufferers of chronic illness. Maybe you already are and that's why you are reading my blog. Maybe your diagnosis is fresh and you don't know what it means for you.

               Maybe you have, like me, realised that having a chronic illness is a bit like owning a car you never wanted. It 's not a great car. It breaks down. It takes maintenance to keep it on the road. And it needs refuelling often because for some reason even though you filled the tank yesterday it's like you are never running on a full tank.

                The kicker is you don't get a new car. Ever. You get the same crappy car with all its faults and you have to drive it for the rest of your life. But you do still have a choice. Do it up and drive a hotrod. Or make no effort to improve matters and  drive a dangerous rustbucket. There is always choice. 

        To learn about Bipolar and learn a little of my story head over to the Bipolar category of this blog.

              

I should stop thinking "I should"......

I shouldn't "should" (coping skills)

I was handed this sheet of paper and didn't even read it for a month. Now there is something I actually definitely should of done sooner! 

         We all do this to ourselves. We write a laundry list of things we wish to achieve, large and small, in our heads or on paper. Everyone does it. But did you know it's horribly bad for you?

         I want to make it clear that I am not advocating doing nothing at all. But people need to understand that when they do this they are placing pressure on themselves. If you are mentally or physically unwell your "to do" list can become an unhealthy focus  in your life.

          Why is it unhealthy? Well, partially because if you are ill any extra pressure makes you feel less able to cope. But also because it sets you up for failure. If you don't get your list done you have failed at something. And you created the whole episode yourself which is the kicker. And some of us do this to ourselves every.single.day and then wonder why we feel bad.

           And it's not just housework. It's at work. It's in how we interact with people. Sure you need a structure in society otherwise all is chaos but that structure already exists. You don't need to create a list of tiny things you should or should not do socially because that will cause you to feel social anxiety.

           I am living proof, when I forget to tame my mind I often find myself thinking "I shouldn't of said that... What do they think of me? They must hate me" which is a lovely combo of "mind reading" which I will post about at some point, and that awful list of things I should and shouldn't do weighing me down and hurting me.

            The problem is the expectations. If we fail to live up to our own expectations we are far harsher on ourselves than we are on other people when they don't. We let them off the hook "x is only human" "we all make mistakes" and so on. But we do not extend that Grace to ourselves. We mentally review our horrible ten ton list and think.. I'm a failure. I failed. I'm useless.

            Being aware of when you are applying this rule to yourself is the the first step to breaking it. Because believe me, it is a bad rule. When I am having a heap of flashbacks and my joints are absolute agony spending all day worrying about what I cannot do is pointless. The better answer is to do what you can. And if that day it's nothing, then you have still done what you can. 

               Physical pain or mental pain is bad enough without flogging yourself relentlessly because of what you can no longer achieve. You are here. You haven't given in. That's a massive achievement. I know how big. On my bad days I can't do much other than sit on the couch and periodically take pain relief. But I am learning new things every day thanks to online learning. My bipolar is stable. Those things are achievements.

 

             The hoovering can do one today.

 

if you are interested in learning about a few other little tweaks which can be made in order to improve your lot head over to the Coping Skills section of the blog. 

       

Argh!!! Nooooo!

Raw chicken and smoke alarms. Or... Weird ptsd triggers

What does raw chicken have to do with smoke alarms? It's simpler than you might think! 

 

        When my psychiatric professional asked me what triggered distress my list was stupidly long. You see, when you have ptsd you often go into avoidance. You try to escape the things that cause you pain, a natural response. Except....

         If you have ptsd this actually makes it worse. You avoid what sets you off religiously but this just ups the ante. The list of triggers starts to extend and you avoid more, and so it grows, through lack of confronting it (which I do not recommend you try without a professional to help you through it).

        I started off being afraid of certain places and men who looked like my rapist. But ended up being petrified of raw chicken. How?

 

          My psych explained it like this.

 

 

when you have ptsd you become hypervigilant (extremely alert to threats) and the closest analogy is that you have a broken smoke detector in your head. When it works it knows the toast is burning and may set a fire and goes off. But your smoke alarm is hypersensitive. So much so that if it knows the bread is near the toaster it goes off IN CASE it sets on fire.

 

             That's how I became afraid of raw meat. And air raid sirens. And being in a car on the freeway. And police sirens. And pictures of nukes going off. And and and....

 

              You see, raw chicken is literally the most dangerous raw meat. And I'm vegetarian. I don't even eat it. But my brain subconsciously processed that it was very risky and that smoke detector went crazy and the next thing you know I'm breaking a sweat in the chiller aisle.

 

              That's how are things like chicken and smoke detectors are linked. And for the record. I make slow cooked chicken for my family now. I might have to wash my hands a bit overly vigorously but I can bring myself to touch it without having a panic attack.

If you would like to find out more about ptsd please pop over to the ptsd section of my blog..where you will find news of my activities and handy posts on topics like "common symptoms" and " ptsd and smear tests" (a tricky topic but one thats oh so VERY important..and ladies..no fear! This is a no smear shaming zone!)

 

   

         

Currently everything makes this much sense....

Complex diagnosis/multiple diagnosis

One of the reasons I decided to start this blog was because managing multiple diagnosis/ complex diagnosis or severe illness is really tricky and its hard to find good solid tips and information.

Having multiple issues causes a number of issues, for example- doctors don't talk to each other! The illnesses affect each other too..my bipolar and PTSD are aggravated when Im in pain. And if I become depressed or manic as a result of my bipolar it affects my pain levels, Disrupting sleep and causing depression.

This is before I even go into the way my physcial health meds have side effects which also cause me to feel low and lacking in get up and go. Im hoping to eventually create a useful resource for those dealing with mental and physical illness, as well as sharing recovery information.

There is a Facebook book group by the same name as the blog where I can be found and blog readers can discuss issues.

I am also encouraging people to write to me and share their own stories. Please go to the "contact me" page and either fill out the form or email me on

Tor@victoriafinney.co.uk 

Growing the Blog

The traffic to this blog has been increasing steadily, now I am getting over 150  new unique views a day and hundreds of return visitors, many from my area, so hello neighbours!

I haven't done much promotion as yet but thats shortly to change.

Now I have a charity willing to post certain posts I have made. And additionally I have secured some funding to run a BIG ad campaign in my local area and beyond!

I am also in communication with a company who do promotions who want to promote me for free!!

All of this will kick in over the next week to two weeks, so if you clicked on an article which has been cross posted, or came here from twitter, or from an advert, or from one of the abuse groups I chat in (I did say LOTS of promotion!) Then WELCOME! And I hope you find some help here!