Thursday, 29 March 2018

The Great Pretender

Sometimes when you are blogging you can feel like you are living a lie.
There is a life  that I share with you through my blog and then there is the
private life that I share with my nearest and dearest. Just recently I
haven’t been sharing the whole truth with anyone.

As my regular readers will know Mr Myasthenia Kid and I have been
through some pretty traumatic times of late. We lost one of our beloved
dogs just before Christmas, then my Grandmother passed away, then my
dear friend Pam passed away and then a school friend passed away. At
the time it felt like I was just coming up to the surface to catch my breath
and something else happened. There was no time to process anything at
all. I knew that it was affecting me as there were days where all I would do
was cry but I also knew it was having other effects on my mental health.

I have always been a really anxious person, I have spent years  in therapy
learning how to do CBT. The problem this time was no matter how rationally
and logically I could see what I was getting anxious about was ridiculous,
I still ended up diving down the rabbit hole. I was waking from what little
broken sleep I was getting in a state of absolute panic - usually clueless
as to what had set it off. My anxiety was reaching proportions I had never
experienced before. I felt constantly as if I was in flight or flight mode,
all the time pretending to everyone around me I was ok. I didn’t see the
point of bringing up my anxiety because I knew it was irrational and there
was nothing for Mr Myasthenia Kid to fix. I just thought I would try to
soldier on. At some point it had to get better right?

I tried bringing up my anxiety with my hospital consultant. I explained to
him what had been going on and he responded “well it’s early days,
give it a few more weeks and see how you feel”. The problem was he
didn’t realise that if I am bothering to bring something up in an appointment
it has got to the point where I can’t cope with whatever the issue is anymore.
I don’t bring up all the different things that are wrong at every appointment,
as we’d be there all day. I only bring up the most pertinent issues. If I am
bringing up anxiety, it’s a big issue. Especially with my previous issues with
mental health which are almost 20 years ago now.

Although the hospital consultant never meant for me to take it this way,
I am sure, I felt like he told me to pull myself together and stop making a
fuss. So I continued to solder on, with the trip to Birmingham only a week
away I knew I had to hold it together. My anxiety was going crazy, I was
barely sleeping but I just had to keep going because it would settle down,
it would get better. The problem was it was just getting worse. I wasn’t
sleeping and every waking hour was filled with fear over the slightest
thing. I had permanent butterflies and I was close to tears constantly.
Anything at all was making me burst into tears, which wasn’t me.

Last week it all came to a head. On Monday after my fall I kept bursting
into tears. Initially I put it down to banging my head and the stress of the
boiler not working. However as the days went on I was still crying at the
drop of a hat. I had to face facts that things were not settling down, I was
feeling worse than ever. Jay had noticed that I had become incredibly
quiet and continually distracted (staring off into space), to the outside
world it was still business as usual but even that was becoming hard to
do. I am a great pretender but I was even beginning to struggle coping
with the outside world. I had started to withdraw from my friends and
just hadn’t bothered to message them as I just couldn’t cope with the
thought of having to maintain a conversation and pretend that I was ok.

I managed to get the Duty Doctor to ring me as all appointments until
after Easter had been booked. When the receptionist asked what was
wrong and I replied anxiety and depression, she immediately put me on
the duty doctors call list. I am eternally grateful that she didn’t think that I
could wait for a standard appointment. I wasn’t at risk of doing anything
stupid, I wasn’t feeling suicidal, I just felt like I couldn’t cope with everyday
life. The doctor rang me back in a few hours and I explained what had been
going on. She was so kind and understanding, she didn’t make me feel like
I was overreacting and that I should be able to cope. She told me most people
struggle with one bereavement to suffer so many in such a short amount
of time would knock anyone. I was prescribed diazepam to use on the days
when the anxiety was at its worst, when I just couldn’t calm down. To help
me sleep she doubled my dose of mirtazapine.

I am slowly starting to feel a lot better, I seem to have had a break in the
constant feeling of panic that I couldn’t stop before. I am still anxious but
its at a more normal level. I am however exhausted constantly, my sleep
is still hit and miss. Some nights I am out like a light but others I am still wide
awake hours after taking my meds. I am also feeling very groggy the following
morning and it's taking me a bit of time to wake up. All of which I can live with
if it continues to improve my level of anxiety as I don’t want to end up with
the situation where the anxiety eventually causes me to become depressed.

So that you can appreciate how bad things had become I had got to the
point where I had become frightened of using my sewing machine. Now
anyone who reads this blog or knows me in real life knows that my life
revolves around Jay aka Mr Myasthenia Kid, Mollie, Frankie and Sewing.
I live to sew, when I am not sewing I am planning my next project. So for me
to suddenly become frightened of my machine, was just bizarre. I can’t tell
you exactly what it was that was frightening me but I just felt like a complete
failure and that nothing I did was good enough…….a great pretender.

A few days after I had been on the meds I got my sewjo back. I decided
to tackle my subscription box project which I hadn’t even had a proper
look at since it had arrived at the start of March. It was really complicated
but I just took it very slow and steady. This was the result

Dresden Plate design cushion cover in the newly launched Liberty
Quilting weight range of fabrics.  I was so proud of it I posted it on the
Sewing Quarter Fans page on Facebook.

Then on Sunday morning this happened:

My Cushion was mentioned by Jenni Smith who works for Liberty of London
on their fabrics. I was so chuffed, it has given me some confidence back again.
So much so that I made another Dresden Plate cushion cover design on the Sunday.

So I am hoping that things just continue to improve now. I still get anxious,
I always will but I no longer feel like I have to pretend that everything is ok. I
(well we, me and Jay) have suffered a huge loss in a short amount of time
and it’s ok not to be ok sometimes. You don’t have to pretend that everything
is going well.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Injury time

My plan to tell you more about our visit to Sewing Quarter
HQ in Birmingham has had t be put on hold. Over the
weekend we had more snow and on Monday morning
our boiler stopped working. In an effort to get it working
again, I tried defrosting the condenser waste pipe in case
that had frozen. Unfortunately on around the 7th trip out of
the back door the snow and ice got me. I ended up falling
badly and hitting my head on the doorstep.

I probably had a mild concussion, I was left very upset for the
rest of the day. I kept bursting into tears which I hate doing.
Yesterday (Tuesday) I was in agony with my legs where I had
fallen very hard onto patio slabs. Today (Wednesday) I am still
quite sore but I am having to sort the house out as we
(fingers crossed) are having a plumber out to look at the boiler.
We've been given the run around by two plumbers, countless
others are apologising as they just can’t get to us as obviously
the cold weather has sparked lots of boilers to misbehave
and this is on top of their normal work load.

We are lucky in the fact we live in a small house so a little
halogen heater is making the world of difference and we have
an electric shower so we aren’t reliant on the boiler to wash. It’s
just a massive pain in the arse and just another thing for my
anxiety to take hold of and keep me awake for hours.
The fall has left me feeling very vulnerable, I could have
knocked myself unconscious and no one would have known
I was there. I hadn’t even taken my mobile phone as I was
going 4 steps from the back door. I am still really sore and
just fed up with it all. Hence why I can’t give you a decent
post which would follow up on our visit. Hopefully next week,
if things have gone a little smoother…..for a change.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

The Secret

For around a month Mr Myasthenia Kid aka Jay and
I have had to keep an enormous secret, I won’t lie
it’s been incredibly difficult. Some of the first people
I wanted to tell were you my blog followers.  We
had been sworn to secrecy and we didn’t want to jeopardise
it, so as best we could we kept the news to a smallish
group of people. However now the secret is out and
I can share it with you.

In the UK there is a channel called the Sewing Quarter,
you can check them out on YouTube as the 4 hour
show is downloaded daily. Jay and I have been watching
it since it started being broadcast by Sky Television in
January this year. The channel sells fabric, sewing
machines, quilting accessories anything really to do
with sewing by machine or hand. It also however has
excellent hints and tips for people of all abilities and
I have learnt loads from watching the show, much more
than I could have done by reading books as you have
things demonstrated in front of you. The main reason
I think a lot of viewers watch though is due to the main
presenters John Scott and Natasha McCarty, both have
very different presentation styles but they are equally
enjoyable to watch. They also have a guests on that
demonstrate the items that the channel is selling that
day. It is after all a channel that exists to sell products,
it has no outside advertising so to exist it must make
money, that is the way of the world.

Back in January Jay and I were decorating the lounge
and whilst we were doing that we had the sewing
channel on as it was their birthday week. They had
lots of special offers, competitions and a sew off
between Natasha and John - hilarious. Well whilst
we were painting Jay must have been listening quite
intently to John, as a few weeks later I was sewing
in the kitchen and jay piped up “ As Rachel is finishing
off her Easter wreath, I will take you through today's bundles”.
I had to stop sewing I was laughing so hard. I mentioned
it on the Sewing Quarter fan page and people started
asking for a video. I posted something along the lines
of if John Scott mentions Jay on the show then he will
do a video. So this happened - sorry for the poor quality
of the sound and shaky camera work, I have recorded
it using my phone straight off the TV.

We were mentioned a few more times during this
week, much to our delight so on the Sunday Jamie
decided he would do his first video.

It went down exceptionally well with the fans of the
show, to be honest it went a bit crazy! Later than
evening whilst I was in bed Jay came rushing in to tell
me the head honcho at the channel Neil Garratt had
sent him a message on Facebook and what should he do?
You see Jay is not brilliantly tech savvy, he can operate
Facebook but he had no idea he would have to accept
a message to be able to respond to it etc. I was in
shock and looked at his phone to see that indeed
Neil had messaged him. I accepted the message
and then handed the phone back to Jay to let him
read it. It said that they wanted Jay on the show to be
alongside John and that we had to keep it quiet as
they wanted it to be a surprise for the fans. Jay had to
email him and one of the members of staff form the
show would be in touch with us.

Within a few days it was all set in motion that Jay and
I would travel to Birmingham and visit Sewing Quarter HQ
and that Jay would be on air on 12th March. It was all very
exciting but oh so difficult to arrange and keep a secret.
Especially when Jay had to organise time off work and
I had to organise a dog sitter for Mollie and Frankie.
Hayley the lovely lady that we were working with offered
us a hotel room for the Sunday night but as we had never
left the dogs overnight before ( and they are old doggies now)
we didn’t feel comfortable doing that. We decided we would
travel up that day and do it all in one as we had when we
went to the Emma Bridgewater Factory in October last year.

When Jay did the first video and I posted it onto the
Sewing Quarter Fans Page on Facebook people had
asked for more. Even people who had never seen the
Sewing Quarter but were friends with us on Social
Media asked for more when I posted the video to my
Facebook timeline and Instagram. So to keep Jay
relevant and the fans happy, we recorded another video,
plus we had been mentioned a few times on the show
by John Scott ( which we always got an enormous kick out of).

The second video went down as well as the first,
which was a huge relief!

My planning and organising went into military operation
mode, my anxiety has been up through the roof since
suffering a series of bereavements at the beginning of the year
/ end of last year. My need to control everything as much as
possible was in overdrive. I am sure Jamie must have got
sick to death of my ever-growing to do list that seemed
to cover every minute aspect of our lives! New shirts for
Jamie had to be bought as John is famous for his flamboyant
shirts, Jay couldn’t appear in his usual conservative style.
Thankfully my best mate from primary school Sharon,
offered to look after the dogs as soon as I told her
what had happened. She like everyone else that
knew what was happening said it was about time that
we had something nice happen after all we had been through.
Ellie offered us a car to use should something happen to
ours, she also said she would be available to assist Sharon
should she need any help. So many people offered us so
much help and support it really was amazing.

The time between knowing that we were travelling to
Birmingham and getting there seemed to at the same
time to pass very slowly but also very quickly. It was
so exciting but the excitement was stopping me from
sleeping. From Monday night onwards this week I have
been out for the count before 7.30pm. I am totally exhausted
and in a lot of pain but it has been worth it.

Jay made a final video before our trip to Birmingham

When this one went up, so many of our friends and people
on the fans site were saying “when will they be on the
show together?” and that kind of thing. I just kept saying
nothing that would give the game away, although it was
getting harder and harder to keep this secret. I will
admit on Friday last week I did message a few people
and let them know that Jay was going to be on the
show. People were beside themselves with excitement
and were so happy for us. It was really lovely to know
that all these people were delighted for us.

There is so much more I could tell you, I will probably expand
more on the experience in next weeks blog post but I am
aware this post is already getting quite wordy and its been
the most I have written in months.

So from the Sewing Quarter Monday 12th March 2018
here are Jays appearances:

This one is my favourite, its Jay closing the show with John

We would both like to say a massive thank you to everyone
at the Sewing Quarter HQ, especially Hayley Marshallsay,
John Scott and Deborah Simms.

The Sewing Quarter is on Channel 678 Sky Tv, 78 Free view, online at between 8am-12pm and YouTube from the afternoon on which the show aired.