One Year On

I have had a very bad year – the worst one, certainly health-wise. Due to several flares of my various conditions I had lost my part-time education job, was unable to take up a Masters course that I have wanted to do for years, lost my car that I had also waited years for and there were also family struggles to contend with. My pain increased and became unbearable. Due to last years tsunami of events I developed depression and anxiety. I know that, sadly, depression and anxiety are quite common amongst those of us with Chronic Illnesses and Chronic Pain but this was the first time I had suffered them on a severe and clinical level. Despite my rational brain telling me that it is a common experience and diagnosis and that there is no shame in having those conditions I still felt too uneasy about mentioning it on my blog, of saying it out loud.

I have not posted for almost half a year due being uncomfortable about what to say. I wanted this blog to be a positive and light-hearted space that I, and hopefully a few others, could escape to that focused on the ‘lovely’ side of things. However, I found that I couldn’t face writing as my mood was so far from what I wanted to create and nurture on my blog that I felt I would’ve been a fraud if I tried to carry on as before. I also felt ashamed about cowardly avoiding the topic of depression and anxiety, especially as many on WordPress and other platforms speak powerfully and openly about their experiences in order to support each other and break the stigma attached to those conditions.

I became annoyed at myself as I was happy to talk about my Lupus etc. but when it came to my mental health conditions my reaction was to hide to feel embarrassed. The addition of the word ‘mental’ with regards to illness should make no fundamental difference to the tone of the chronic illness/disability debate, Chronic Illness is just that a chronic illness, but it left me uneasy as I didn’t want to make a ‘drama’ out of it but I felt a bit of a fraud about not recognising these new aspects of my health. In ‘hiding’ I was hindering the great work that many on here have done in educating and de-stigmatizing Mental Health issues and denying to chronicle my ‘true’ experience of Chronic Illness that I hoped would help understanding of our hidden and complex lives. So, my name is Lore and I have Depression and Anxiety, nice to meet you.

Next, I’ll move on to the pretty stuff – beauty boxes!

Oh, strangely,the day I felt able to blog again is the same day exactly one year ago that I started the blog!

The Importance of Information

Yesterday I had a health assessment in my own home to see if I qualify for a UK benefit called PIP (Personal Independence Payment). I have been stressed and anxious at being ‘tested’ and I was in a lot of pain yesterday. I am still in pain today. That pain is being worsened by another ‘test’ that I have been summoned to take on June 18th. I have spoken to quite a few of my followers who have been going through similar things; applying for welfare, seeking medical support, financial worries and dealing with prejudice relating to their conditions. I have also been amazed at how despite some people I have talked to being from countries outside the U.K., even as far a-field as Australia and America, their experiences are so similar to ours in the UK. And I have also been shocked to find that the institutional and societal prejudices that have been increasing in Britain regarding chronic illness and invisible disabilities are also present in other countries.

In the belief that key to The Modern Girl’s Guide to Being Sick is the importance of information and that as knowledge is power, the more we share and add to that knowledge the stronger we become I would welcome people to post any links they have found useful in managing life with their conditions, or share any advice or tips they would give others.

Two links I have found useful the past few days regarding UK benefits have been:

http://actionforme.org.uk/Resources/Action%20for%20ME/Documents/get-informed/esa-appeals-factsheet.pdf

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/personal-independence-payment-pip/pip-points-system

I have given longer descriptions and analysis of the processes on my sister blog: https://theillrepresented.wordpress.com/