I’ve been putting off doing this page for almost 5 months now. I fucking hate About Me bits on most people’s websites or blogs. Primarily because they’re boring as fuck and generally focus on the saccharine bits of life that we all KNOW are fake. In short they are Instagram worthy only and their only purpose is to show off. As a reader I have no interest whatsoever in being presented with a very polished, perfect portrait of an individual I really want to know more about. That’s not real life and it does fuck all to assure any reader or visitor that warts, meltdowns, skid marks and not coping is something that we ALL have to deal with at some point in life.
So, if you’ve come to this page hoping to be presented with a highly successful, efficient, version of someone living the dream and offering their worldy guidance and learnings, so that you too can live an utterly unfulfilling fake life you may as well get your coat… you have not found your village.
This is about me – the good and the bad. The slovenly, un-tailored, non-coiffed version of a woman trying to do it all in the face of some pretty heavy weight challenges.
The basic boring bits
There, now you can actually clone me or my identity if you want to. My National Insurance Number, NHS number and bank details are available on request… no not really you fucking idiot.
About my life
I tell you what, it’s not until you try and make your own life sound interesting that you realise how utterly fucking dull it is….
Inception (not the sex bit)
So, I was born. Obvs. That seemed like it went OK, I mean I can’t remember too much about it but I don’t have a cone head so I’m guessing there were no forceps or owt used.
As a tiddler I lived with my Dad and my biological mum in Glenrothes before we moved to Crossgates and then eventually to Cowdenbeath where my Dad still lives and where I grew up from the age of 8.
My real Mum was a quitter and walked out on her marriage and kids just before I was 9 – her kids consisted of me and my older brother (senior by 6 years). She was unhappy in her marriage, which I can understand, but I don’t reckon I’ll ever really understand her trading her kids for her freedom; not when she wasn’t in any physical or mental danger. Fuck, I’d fight for an ice cream harder than she fought for us – she just wasn’t arsed. We really didn’t ever hear too much from her, occasional cards but very sporadic which is mental seeing as she was living about 40 minutes away by all accounts.
I can’t say I ever really “missed” her presence in my life, she wasn’t the loving nurturing kind, and actually the memories I have of her are mostly negative; which is a shame to be honest because I know it wasn’t always like that but… you remember what you remember don’t you? There’s no choice.
She died about 6 years ago having made an attempt to get in touch; which I rejected…. pretty venomously to be fair. I know it’s not what they do on the telly in these situations and I suspect you’ll probably think me a cold hearted bitch but I don’t regret not seeing her. That ship had sailed in the 20 odd years she’d been missing and I’m not one for sitting by a bed side weeping for what could have been – not when she was very capable of changing the status quo. Nahhh, she chose not to be part of our life and I was fucked if I was coming calling because she’d changed her mind. I told her she had my compassion from one human to another in her dying state over email – but I had no interest in saying goodbye face to face.
I’d love to say that her leaving didn’t affect me in anyway but I’d be lying. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not filled with anger or distrust but she has made a dent in me as a person that I’m not sure will ever totally iron out. I have a fuck tonne of doubts in my parenting ability obviously…. but show me a parent who doesn’t and I’ll show you a liar and anyway, I wasn’t without a Mum during that whole time because my Dad remarried and the woman who raised me from age 9 is the woman I now call Mum.
She’s a warrior is my Mum, she’s fought hard times, bad situations and more recently cancer. She’s got fire in her heart and courage in her soul – and fuck me does she have a temper. You do not fuck with my Mum. You’d be off your head to try. She’s got her work cut out for her to be fair because as well as me and my older brother, she has two boys of her own and I dunno if you’ve ever been in a house with 4 teenagers growing up but it really aint easy trying to parent them all. We’ve been raised as siblings and it’s meant that we have this hugeeee busy, noisy family which I love. We all share a really similar sense of juvenile behaviour and laugh at jobbies and willies and old man dancing; but we’re also all stubborn as fuck and it can mean fireworks at times.
My Dad’s been the constant in my life – he’s not had an easy time of it and stormed through a really fucking awful childhood into the life he has now. When my biological mum walked out he didn’t think twice about rearing us on his own – which was really unusual back in the day. I think I was the only person I knew who lived solely with their Dad but it all changed when he got married to my (now) Mum when I was 12 and they moved in together. He’s got his own demons to fight in life but loves being around us all and he’s got a bond with Eli that is so strong it makes my heart swell. They are two peas in a pod.
My three brothers are pretty much 5 year olds trapped in adults bodies but they’ve all gone out there and made really good lives for themselves. One lives in South Africa, the other two live in Fife which should mean we see each other regularly but life is so fucking busy for everyone bar us that it’s a challenge to get us all in the same room at the same time these days. From the 2 brothers that are local I have 3 nieces and a nephew… I suspect my younger brother who is in South Africa probably has kids all over the fucking place – he’s a wanderer and doesn’t look ready to stop sowing those wild fucking oats anytime soon.
My own wee world
So, you’ll hear me talking about Christiaan and Eli constantly and that’s because they really are my everything to be honest. I have absolutely no fucking problem being soppy and emotional about how much I adore my husband and child…. even if the child is an arsehole and I blame his father.
So, a bit of background… Christiaan and I met on my first day of work with my current employer. See he works for the same firm I do, only when I met him, I was living up here in Scotland and he was living down there in Chesterfield… and he had a terrible fringe. Honestly, I remember looking at him and wondering what the fuck was going on; it was all long on one side and was achingly trendy; it wasn’t my cup of tea. Now at that point he was nothing more than the bloke who would be showing me round the Nottingham office because I was married, not happily right enough, but I was married.
Yup, I’ve been married before. I was with my ex for around 10 years and had been married for only 2 when I finally admitted I really wasn’t happy. There wasn’t any big drama, no cataclysmic event or constant fighting; in fact there was just nothing, we were two different people sharing a house and as much as I’d tried to fix that and talk about what we could do, over the years nothing had changed. It was a tough decision but I asked my ex to move out (which he did but not until 3 fucking months later) and went about splitting our lives, finances and the old marital home. He wasn’t too accepting of the situation at first but then discovered a dating app, sorry a cycling app, which allowed him to meet “friends with similar interests”….. and a vagina it turns out. So he met a lass weeks after we separated and then moved out….and you know what? I was happy for him. He’d come into my life at the right time and left bang on time too. He was originally from Yorkshire but had been living just outside Brighton when I met him at the dizzy age of 21, which meant I got to live down in a place I loved for 6 years and also that I gained some friends for life; I regret nothing bar walking down the aisle to be fair. I wish I’d kept that as a one off for my main man.
Enter Christiaan stage left (minus the fringe)
I’d been separated for about a year when Christiaan and I were assigned to interview a bunch of candidates together for some roles that were coming up. Our paths had crossed professionally a few times since our first meeting and I knew he was a sound lad. Thankfully when I went to meet him in Runcorn (we get to go to all the good places) he’d sorted his fringe out and now that I was single I saw him through v different eyes; he was a good looking guy and his sense of humour and personality were epic. He was definitely one of the good guys but I knew v little about him. We worked together for those few days and I started hearing more about his personal life; he was going through the wind down stage with his current fiance of 14 years and I knew from separating with my ex the previous year just how tough it was; firstly to make the decision to finish a relationship, and then start to split and rebuild your lives up after so long. So I tried to help him by talking… I talk a lot to be honest, too fucking much. When it came time for me to come back up to Scotland and him back to Chesterfield I didn’t really think too much about it but we kept in touch over the next few months and after he split with his ex we kept talking and well, it wasn’t too long before I decided I was making a move. I R A HUNTER RAAAAAAAAAAAR!
I’ve never been a wallflower when it comes to getting something I want… but I’m not aggressive with it. I knew if I tried to jump his bones he’d get fanny fright and run a mile but I also had a feeling he liked me and as maybe a bit shit and apprehensive given his very recent break up. I’m not sure what I was expecting to be fair but I did know that we had a mutual friends BBQ coming up that we were both planning on attending. I rocked up, spied him and went over to start chatting but he wasn’t feeling great and I knew it wasn’t the right time to try and test the water. That said we had a great laugh and enjoyed each others company so I felt confident it would happen eventually – sometimes you just know innit? The moment arrived a few months later when after much deliberation on both of our parts we decided that he would come up to visit Scotland for a few nights, we’d have beer and go to the zoo. He arrived, kissed me as soon as he stormed off the train and we never did make it to that bastarding zoo.
And so it began… the big romance of my life. It’s not until you finally meet the guy you had no idea you were waiting for that you wonder what the fuck you’ve been doing all this time. I had no idea that relationships like the one Christiaan and I have even existed.
We did long distance between Chesterfield and Fife for about 9 months which was grim. I was very used to travelling all over for work but a 5.5 hour drive each way every weekend for one of us was a killer AFTER a week of travelling and it was so rare that our diaries coincided in a mutually convenient location. Soooo we spoke about moving in together, I had already decided I wasn’t leaving Scotland again so there wasn’t much to say – he’d need to come up. I’d import him over the border. Thankfully he agreed, sold his gaff in Chestyfeels and moved in to my wee lady castle (not a euphemism) in Feb 2013.
Here is the lady castle we lived in together.
It was a fucking tiny hugely quirky building to live in. I loved it, he hated it. It was freezing all year round and Christiaan loves a bit of cosy in his life. Poor fucker had ear muffs and hoody on for the entire time we lived there. We also got cats because they were furry and would keep us warm in the winter… meet Bonnie and Bear.
Delightful fucking creatures but we’re 5 years in and they’ve still not fully grown out of kitten stage which basically means they’re harder work than Eli most nights. They play, fight, shit on the floor, spew on the floor and sing the song of their people from about 4am to get us up. They are arseholes of the highest order and I adore them.
Cats are clearly trial babies but to be honest I’d spent years avoiding getting pregnant with my ex and I was doubtful I could pull off being a mum thanks to my car crash of a biological mum. Christiaan and I spoke about it for ages and we both came to the same conclusion; we weren’t getting any younger so it was now or never. We choose now.
Not one to fuck around, we got engaged in Feb 2014, moved out of the castle and into the house in Kinghorn in April 2014 and then got married 9 months after we got engaged in November 2014. Eli was conceived in December 2014 and arrived in September 2015…. THAT’s how you do family life people. No need to be fucking around with procrastination, if you want something and you CAN have it…go and get it. Now.
I could have written career, or professional life as a header but both Christiaan and I are v honest; we work to pay bills, not because we have an underlying professional appetite to climb the career ladder.
I’ve never had that actually. I’ve always wanted to be GOOD at what I do, or to do my very best but I have never ever been arsed about titles and seniority. In fact every move in my working life so far has been by sheer chance, opportunity or because someone has decided I would be good doing something.
I started managing people at a v young age and built on that when I moved to Sussex with my ex – there are so many more opportunities down there that I quickly landed on my feet with a company who believed in me and invested in me, and then another, and then another. By the time I moved back up to Scotland in 2008 I had years of solid managerial experience and what I didn’t know about performance management wasn’t worth knowing. I faffed around doing work within Financial Services because I’d convinced myself I needed a break from management but I soon found my way to where I am today. I won’t mention the name of the firm because it’s likely they don’t want to be associated with a sweary personal blog and I kind of need them to keep on paying me but I will say I work for quite a controversial large multi-national. Christiaan still does too but our paths rarely cross professionally these days.
I work directly with my gaffer and peers to devise and implement our people strategy and comms and I love it. It’s hard graft, it means I need to be switched on about HR legislation, high and low performers, people coming and out of the business, how we communicate, what we say, our targets and also how we engage our workforce. It’s a massive two handed sandwich and our direction can often change with the wind depending on which avenue the company is currently hurtling down….. but I love a challenge.
I moved to a 3 day week after Eli was born so I currently work Wed-Fri from 7am until 3.30 on paper… off paper I chip in whenever I’m needed outside of that too. It’s what we do.
Hobbies and shit
You’ll not fall off your seat in shock when I tell you I enjoy writing. I always have – from school age I used to write creatively, either short stories or poetry and at one point I thought about pursuing it professionally… until real life came calling and I had a mortgage to pay at the age of 18!
I can’t always write as much as I would like to now for obvious reasons but I still get a lot back from it. Especially this online flavour where people can actually interact and feedback live and directly. Ideally I could make money from it one day but I’m a realist – I’ll stick to winning the lottery instead.
In days gone by I loved reading and playing online scrabble… yes I understand that makes me sound like a real fucking saddo. I give none of the fucks; not a single one. I love anything wordy that challenges my brain and allows me to escape but unfortunately I’ve not been able to do much of that in the last 18 months or so. I WILL get back to it though.
I guess you could say that my other hobby is losing weight. After I became ill I started searching around for ANYTHING that I could do that would give me a bit of control on this mental journey. I was fat, I could change that… so I did.
I’m 4 stone down with probably another 1.5-2 to go before I’ll stop. It’s not an easy task at all when you live the life of a sloth and can’t walk further than a few meters but I have never, ever, let what I can’t do rule what I can. So I’ll keep going, and when I’m comfy I’ll stop.
Why am I writing this blog?
Got a massive fucking ego aint I? Clearly!
In all seriousness, I started writing this blog at the tail end of March 2018 because I needed to focus myself. I knew my illness was spiralling and I knew that very few people in my close circle really understood what was going on. They just thought I was knackered. So I started writing about it, with the hope that I could explain and educate my friends and family as to what I had and how it affected life.
Almost 5 months on and I’m STILL dumbfounded that the page has grown outside of the handful of friends and family it was intended for. I have over 600 readers on Facebook and several hundred followers on Twitter, Instagram and WordPress. It blows my fucking mind that you’re reading my ramblings and I am utterly grateful for it because with every swear and every funny story comes a few nuggets of info about an illness we don’t really talk about as a society.
M.E. is mocked, disbelieved and ridiculed across both day to day and medical environments. I hear from readers all the time, who tell me that their GP has said it’s all mind over matter, or that they’re imagining their symptoms or that they should just storm through regardless and that makes me sad…. but mostly livid. No one would chose to live like this. No one.
I am lucky enough to have medical support but it’s not been easy to get it – I’ve had to fight, and I still continue to fight at every junction with people who don’t take me or my journey seriously. I started this blog as part of that fight locally, and then expanded it to my Facebook friends, and then started talking to my boss and GP about it. I quickly realised it was very one dimensional and it needed a face and a community to make it feel real….otherwise it was a dear diary, and as much as that can be entertaining, it can also mean that people who need support fall between the cracks. I created the Facebook page to give my readers both ill and well a safe place to talk, and to empathise and to touch base with other people who are living the same life they are…. and most importantly to laugh.
There is nothing lonelier than isolation people – nothing, and if I can make one person who is having a really tough fucking ride smile with a blog post, a convo, or a daft meme it’s time well spent for me. That’s why there’s a mix of material on my Facebook Page; it’s not me trying to be all edgy, it’s me trying to give all of us, who sometimes have very little in common, their own wee place on the page.
As you’ll have noticed there is no advertising or branding in any of my writing. I choose not to monetise – this is a safe house; I write because I enjoy it and you guys seem to enjoy it. I do not write to be famous…..although wouldn’t that be fucking marvellous?
So I guess we can’t get away from it. I exist on this blog space because I’m ill and as much as I’d love to pretend otherwise I can’t.
I have an illness which has many many MANY acronyms attached to it but the one you’ll have likely heard before is M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Encephalopathy), it’s also referred to as CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) or PVFS (Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome).
If you don’t have it you’ll likely have no idea what it is and contrary to misunderstood folk lore it’s not being “a bit knackered”.
I became poorly following a concurrent bout of viral infections in January 2017 and I’ve never fully recovered. Actually, if anything I’ve gone downhill rather than improved! Getting to diagnosis stage was mental and scary and hugely fucking emotional. We found all sorts of problems in my body and brain and I can honestly say, hand on heart, opening that Pandora’s box is not something I ever want to do again. You can read more about my personal journey to diagnosis by CLICKING HERE but for now I’m going to tell you a wee bit about the illness itself.
I’ve described it before as trying to scale a mountain in 6 inch heels in the dark and I stand by that. Having gone through a shitty pregnancy, a horrendous C Section and spinal surgery in the last 3 years I can honestly say my arrival at the foot of M.E. Mountain is the worst form of torture I’ve ever had to endure.
If you’ve made it this far down the page you’ll know from reading about me that I was tenacious, gregarious, driven and BUSY before I was ill. I never stopped…. now though…. I rarely start. I am sore, I am knackered, I am confused often, I have very little short term memory, I have brain fog, I get brain overload at more than one noise at a time which makes me shut down, I’m narky, I’m often in the house for days on end because I can’t get out….. It’s shit…. but I’m STILL smiling because. FUCK YOU M.E. (that looks mental unless you say each letter separately by the way).
These are the key symptoms of someone with M.E., this is my life now:
1. Post-exertional malaise or symptom exacerbation: the key diagnostic feature of ME/CFS is the way in which symptoms worsen after activity is increased beyond what the patient can tolerate. Such activity, physical or mental, has a characteristically delayed impact, which may be felt later the same day, the next day or even later. This is followed by a period of relative recovery which may last for days or even weeks. The amount of activity that provokes increased symptoms is related to severity and in some people, is very modest.
2. Activity-induced muscle fatigue precipitated by trivially small exertion (physical or mental) relative to the patient’s previous activity tolerance: which may be accompanied by muscle pain.
3. Cognitive dysfunction: commonly including problems with short-term memory and working memory (the ability to deal with tasks quickly), problems with concentration and attention span (especially affecting visuospatial tasks), inability to plan or organise thoughts and problems with word-finding abilities – anomia (difficulty in naming common objects) and dysnomia (the inability to give objects a correct name).
These problems are often referred to as ‘brain fog’ by people with ME/CFS. Cognitive dysfunction is exacerbated by physical exertion and stress and may be more prominent where there is clinical depression. Cognitive dysfunction alone is often severe enough to cause a substantial reduction in previous levels of occupational, educational, personal and social activities. Long-term memory is not usually affected, and progressive mental impairment is unusual. If this type of cognitive decline occurs, further neurological assessment must be considered.
4. Pain: that can be persistent and difficult to control. Pain is often muscular, but it can also be rheumatic or neuropathic (where it has a burning or searing quality and may be associated with paresthesia and other sensory disturbances). Some patients may also have a fibromyalgic component to their pain. However, a significant minority of patients experience little or no pain.
5. Sleep disturbance: non-refreshing pattern that can include both hypersomnia (early in the illness) and insomnia, reversal of sleep rhythm (especially in children), vivid dreams and ‘restless legs’
6. On-going, flu-like malaise: A general feeling of ‘being unwell’ that is accompanied by sore throat, tender lymph glands and problems with temperature control (e.g. feeling feverish, sweating episodes).
7. Autonomic symptoms: including orthostatic intolerance. Autonomic symptoms are very common in ME/CFS, and orthostatic intolerance refers to an inability to sustain upright activity. Symptoms of orthostatic intolerance occur after standing up from a recumbent or resting position or after prolonged standing. They include lightheadedness, spatial disorientation, feeling faint, sweating, palpitations and fainting.
All sounds like good fun innit?
I’m lucky – I suffer on a scale of mild to moderate spectrum with these symptoms but for many people they are not only debilitating meaning they are bed bound and unable to function but in some cases it’s also fatal.
This year Merryn Crofts became only the second person in the UK to have ME listed as the cause of death on her death certificate. She was 21.
I’m gonna let that sink in for a bit because it’s fucking tragic when anyone loses their life but a 21 year old? With her whole life ahead of her? Horrendous.
Now, that’s not to say shes only the second person ever to have died from M.E. by the way – no, that number is estimated in its hundreds in the UK actually but there is such a pool of ignorance around what the condition is, and how it affects the body that as yet there is no biological indicator to point at for coroners. They have to educate themselves on the condition, prognosis and expectancy on an illness that has a HUGE amount of variables. Many many families have tried and failed to prove that M.E. caused the death of their loved one.
It’s fucking heartbreaking people. We have no investment into the cause and affect of M.E. in this country, which means we have no understanding of WHAT this is, far less HOW to fix it… and people are dying while we all argue over the hokey kokey semantics of money.
Our government should be ashamed of many things. This is definitely one of them.
I’ll stop now because if you’re a regular reader you’ll know how angry I get about this sort of shit… and if you’re not a regular reader I don’t want to scare you off!
So that’s it
That’s a whistle stop tour of the being that is me.
I’ll likely add to this over time but if you have any questions at all feel free to ask them – I’ll be as honest as I can be in answering.
In the meantime here’s some pics of me, my life and my boys.