Autism Vs Social Media… The ongoing battle!

I’m sure you’ll agree, teenagers and social media are not a great mix.  I don’t know what they get up to on their phones at that age, but with all the trolling and the ‘haters gonna hate’ mentality, it’s a brutal world online for a young, impressional teenager.  Add into the mix the Autism (Aspergers) aspect and it can be a recipe for disaster.

For months and months, I was debating whether letting my daughter have social media on her phone was a good thing or not.  Up until just before Christmas we’d had a few occasions where she was not using the phone appropriately.

This wasn’t anything really bad at the beginning, mainly over messaging people, declaring her undying love to her best friends (who aren’t actually her best friends) and asking people to say ‘ilysm’…  (that’s ‘I Love You So Much’ to anyone not down with the lingo!).

However, Ellie had also put out a couple of posts asking if people would miss her ‘if she died’.  This upset me so much, as not only is she opening up herself to piss take, but worse still, showing everyone how vulnerable she is and leaving herself wide open to bullying and, it’s too horrifying to think about, but also ‘grooming’.

I had a strong word with her about what doing this could result in with negative comments from people etc and asked if her friends write this sort of thing. Not surprisingly, the answer was NO.   We had tears, apologies galore and an assurance that it wouldn’t happen again.

Well, guess what, it did happen again.  Several times!  Dressed up slightly differently but the tone was the same. Thankfully, I have friends with sensible children who keep an eye out and let them know if something like this goes out.

At Christmas time enough was enough.  It didn’t seem to matter how many times I explained that she must not do this, it wasn’t going in… so the phone was taken away until further notice.

Things plodded along as they normally do (hormones plunging up and down like a rollercoaster) but without the phone Ellie got even obsessed with her other love… Coronation Street! Watching old episodes from the past, over and over! I’ve really not got a problem with this – maybe it’s her connection to my Mum (I’ve not watched it for a few years now since the Hayley cancer storyline). So most conversations at the start of the year involved the names Carla Conner and David & Kylie Platt… but if it keeps her happy and calm, I’m was going with it.

We got to the end of February and had a weekend away visiting friends over in Wales, so we decided that Ellie would be allowed her phone back (purely for selfish reasons – the ability to drink Gin in relative peace) with strict instructions not to post stuff on Instagram like she did before.

Well, we had a brilliant weekend away… a lot of Gin was consumed (there’s a drunk video somewhere on Facebook), George played with his two buddies and Ellie kept herself entertained on her phone.

Having said I would be checking her phone, I didn’t get around to doing it after our weekend away and it wasn’t until the following Friday that I got a phone call from a friend who had been given the heads up that Ellie was putting ‘what if I died’ messages on again.

We were devastated, and bloody fuming!  I looked up her account on Instagram and saw what she had been putting. I went up to her room and frankly, lost my shit!  More tears, more sorry (not sorry).  The phone and the Kindle (which I’d forgotten had IG on) was taken away…. again!

All was going well until the following weekend when she had gotten devious.  I’d asked a dozen times for Ellie to pick up her stuff on her bedroom floor, like you do when you have a messy teenager, and in the end I went up to make her bed and pick up her crap. On pulling back her duvet back, there was the bloody Kindle! WTF!  Not only that, but she had been on IG, changed her username and continued using it. Sneaky cow!

Thinking that I would hit her where it hurts (not literally), but in terms of consequences, it was time to get real!  I was going to take away… CORONATION STREET!… along with The Ingham Family (her other obsession).  This meant a weeks TV ban in her room and no ‘Corrie’ or ‘Ifam’ downstairs.  I also told her that if I caught her watching it,the ban would increase to two weeks, then three weeks!

In the end, the ban went on for four weeks!  From sneaking the TV on, pinching her brother’s remote, and going through my drawers looking for her phone, the TV ended up coming off the wall!  She literally had m no sense of consequence for her actions.

I suppose that’s how it is though. If you think teenagers think the world revolves around them, an Autistic teenager, well certainly mine, thinks the entire Universe begins and starts with them! If she wants to do something, then why shouldn’t she do it?!

So, four weeks without TV upstairs and no social media!  Pure Hell?  Actually no.  It was really nice to have her company and the Easter holidays were so much calmer than any other holiday we’ve had, plus I didn’t have any conversations about how missed Deirdre Barlow is!

From last weekend, the four weeks were up! The phone reluctantly came back, but the only thing on it now is messages and YouTube so she can watch her Ingham Family.  The parental lock has been put on and social media apps removed.

I felt a little mean doing this, but amazingly, Ellie has said that she is much happier not having Social Media in her life.  I don’t know if this is lip service but I’m going with it.  I just need to remember to check that bloody phone each night!

The ironic thing in all this, is that I have just completed a six month course to become a Social Media Manager, so its so hard for me to practice what I preach! I’ve constantly got my phone in my hand!  Difference is, “this is for work”!! 😬🤥

Like with most things in life, it’s a case of do what I say, not do as I do!

I’m sure the social media will make its way back in the future, but for now, I’m loving her not having it!

Until next time,

Love and hugs xxx

 

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Reflection & Intention… not New Year Resolutions!

happy new year decorative plate

Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com

Well, here we are again at another New Year! It doesn’t feel like five minutes ago since we were sweating our arses off in the hottest summer since 1976 and hoping that football was finally coming home… and we’re still hoping!

The Christmas break certainly gives us the chance to reflect over the past year and look at our achievements, our challenges and how we can make the next year even better…. along with drinking our body weight in Gin and eating the entire box of Thornton’s chocs (just saying!).

I know that things for me have been a little easier this year compared to last.  We had such a tough time with Ellie in 2017 and this year has certainly been a lot calmer for her… that’ll be the hormones settling down! We also had one of the best holidays this year in terms of managing expectations and stresses for Ellie. We had an amazing two weeks in Orlando, something that is usually tinged with a fair amount stress and a good deal of Bud Light at the end of the day… but on this holiday, we didn’t do half the parks (no Disney) and it was a much better experience for us (if you’ve never been, you really have to do Disney!).

The biggest thing to happen for me this year was following my dream of working for myself. I’ve always wanted to do it, but had no idea what I would do!  So having been employed all my life, I made the jump this year to become self employed.

After a six months intensive course I graduated as a social media manager which complements my experience in being a personal assistant.  I’ve been going for six months now and all is great – I’m out there networking, meeting new people and working hard for my clients.

Another massive reason why this year feels so much better, is that I’ve learnt to practice gratitude. Yes, you really can practice it… daily!  I’ve been learning this on the course I’ve been doing on ‘self mastery’. 

It’s not just about thinking someone has it worse than you when the chips are down… but about being thankful for what you have every single morning as you wake to a brand new day.  The warm bed that you sleep in, the body that is working for you as you rise out of bed, your healthy children sleeping in their beds, your partner lying next to you, the water free flowing from your bathroom tap etc etc. Just try this as you wake in the morning… its a real game changer!

Along with starting the day in a thankful state of mind, I have also been learning about ‘affirmations’ and how to use them to kick-start my working day in a positive way. These are words that have some significant meaning to me to affirm my intentions and how I want to feel ie; praised, balanced, marvelous!

Finally, there’s the power song! Music is such a powerful medium and can change our state of mind in just a few bars of a song.  Having a ‘theme song’ to ‘gee you up’ is also a great way to start the day.  When asked what my power-song would be, for me, it was a no-brainer. It had to be ‘What a Feeling’ by Irene Cara.  At first, I chose it because it was my mum’s favourite song, but it wasn’t until I looked at the lyrics, that I realised how fitting it was;

First, when there’s nothing
But a slow, glowing dream,
That your fear seems to hide,
Deep inside your mind…..
and she goes onto sing;
Take your passion,
And make it happen
Pictures come alive
You can dance right through your life.

Boom! and there it is! That song right there makes me believe that I can do anything I put my mind to, that I shouldn’t fear what people think of me, that I should be authentic to myself and not compare myself to anyone else.

Like most people, I usually start the year with New Year’s Resolutions… which normally comprise of having a nutrient packed smoothie each day, doing a workout everyday, and losing 7 lbs… no matter what weight I end the year on! But this year, I don’t plan to have resolutions… just intentions.

So, my intentions for 2019 are:

Not to compare myself to others… be authentic… believe in my abilities… and to take things one step at a time.

There’s also the usual drink more water, eat more greens, drink less booze, move more etc etc… but I do these things firstly for health, both physical and mental before vanity (most of the time!).

With lots of plans for the coming year, I am going to need my gratitude, my affirmations, my family, friends and of course that power song….and along with all the other things I have learnt over the past year, I know I am ready!

What are your intentions for the New Year?

Here’s to an amazing 2019… I hope to see you there!

Lots of love and best wishes,

TOMD xxxx

If you’d like to know more about the Self Mastery course I am doing, check out Andrea Callanan on Facebook! She’s bloody brilliant!!

Here’s the link…

https://www.facebook.com/AndreaCallananVoice/

Going with the flow & not sweating the small stuff at Christmas!

close up of christmas decoration hanging on tree
Photo by Gary Spears on Pexels.com

Actually, for the first time in a few years, I am excited for Christmas!

Not to sound like a miserable cow, but I must admit, the last couple of years have felt a bit shit without Mum being here. She was my Christmas. So much of how you celebrate the festive period is built around how you spent it as a child.  All the traditions, the smells, the songs, the 80’s brash decorations! I loved all of it!

I certainly don’t want this to be a sad blog just before Christmas, but I know a few people that are experiencing Christmas for the first time this year without one of their parents, or a parent that is incredibly ill and I just want you to know that you’re in my thoughts.  It doesn’t seem like it now, but I want you to know that it does get just a little bit easier as the years pass.

I can’t believe that this is the third Christmas without Mum. I remember the particularly well…  Ellie constantly raising her glass to Nanny – which felt like a knife to the gut every time she said it, and I remember it just feeling very empty without her there.

That first Christmas was also the year that George Michael died, on Christmas Day! I’d managed to pretty much hold myself together that whole day, but when hubby came in and told me he’d passed away, the flood gates open.  I’m not sure whether I was crying for Mum or George, but I just let it flow!

I was surprised at the resilience I found to get through the day… until I’d drunk my weight in gin and the news of George Michael passing away was announced.  Your brain is a very powerful organ and it does everything it can to protect you – including pushing thoughts and feelings to the back of your mind so you can get on with life.  However, if you need to let those feelings out… do that too. My mantra was ‘just go with it’…. Your body will tell you what you need to do.

To be honest, the last few years, I’ve avoided doing some things that made me think of mum at Christmastime, like shopping trips.  It was just too hard to walk around and be reminded that Mum isn’t here. Seeing lots of mums and daughters picking out presents, having lunch with bags piled up next to them, I hated it! Thank goodness for Amazon – it’s been my saviour the last few years!  This year however, I did drag hubby for some Christmas shopping and all was fine.  I suppose what I’m trying to say is, if you don’t feel like doing things because they feel too difficult, then don’t do them.  Look after your sanity – there’s always another year.

I must admit, I have been a little more relaxed about Christmas this year.  I remember in the past, feeling very anxious in the lead up to it. I would want everything to be perfect, the house to be spotless, every eventually for food to be covered.  But this year, I’m a little more chilled.

When you think about it, Christmas Day is just another day. We get so bloody stressed about the whole occasion but how many of us think ‘thank f@ck for that’ when it’s all over? Every year I say, I’m not going to get so worked up over Christmas this year and that I will have everything done and dusted well in advance, but as I type this I still have a load of presents to wrap and a list of food shopping that I didn’t manage to get last night on ‘The BIG Shop’!  But its all good, it will get done at some point so there is no need to panic… and if I don’t have celery to stick under the turkey as it goes in the oven, Christmas will still be great, and nobody will actually give a shit!

What has also helped with the feeling of Zen around this time of year, is that Ellie seems to be a little calmer.  Christmas is not always a great time for children (and adults) that are on the autistic spectrum.  She is still obsessed with what food is going to be eaten and when (that might come from me!) and gets excited/anxious about different things that are happening, but this year it just doesn’t feel quite so fraught.  Maybe my new Zen-like state just lets it all wash over me (along with flashing the ‘Vs’ behind the fridge door).  I also discovered the magic of Reiki this year… maybe that’s helped too!

I’ve also been doing a Self-Mastery course in the latter part of this year.  What the hell is that? (yes, I hear ya!). In short, it looks at ‘your own life story’ and the struggles, celebrations, and the pivots in life that we all go through.  You then look at how you’ve behaved during the difficult times and look for patterns. Do you self-sabotage? Do you sit in denial? Do you move on quickly from something bad and not allow it to process? (I’m guilty of all of them!)

Learning to forgive, being mindful and practicing things like gratitude and self-care (along with other aspects that I won’t go into right now) has been a big part of the course and I know it has helped me greatly over the past few months. Everything we have been through in our past shapes who we are now, and this course has been invaluable to me in so many ways.  I’ll write a standalone blog on it in the new year.

If you’re still here at the end of this somewhat waffle-filled blog, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you for sharing in my journey on the blog this year and wish you and your loved ones a Very Merry Christmas. Have fun, stay safe, don’t sweat the small stuff… and I’ll see you on the other side. xxx

Love and hugs

TOMD xxx

George’s Hypno Journey… Part 2!

So, I’m back to finish the story about when we took our nine-year old son for hypnotherapy following his panic attacks about taking our little dog off her lead.

The first time we went, I can’t lie, George was a little giggly and I did suspect that he didn’t really ‘go under’. The massive panic attack and throwing himself on the floor that followed a week later, kind of confirmed it!

So, in the spirit of not giving up, I text the lovely Michelle at Fairy Heart Therapies and asked if we could come back to see her. Thankfully, George was very keen to do this too… he was desperate to get this problem sorted.

This time felt a little different.  It was all much more familiar and George wasn’t as giggly and excitable. He was more keen to get up on the ‘proper bed’, stick his head down the hole and get on with it!  Once lied on the couch, the warmth of the cabin and Michelle’s relaxing tone started to work its magic.  Michelle went through a similar scenario as before and George slowly felt his eyelids get heavier and heavier with each sentence.

There was no giggling and less twitching and moving as we went on. This felt a lot better.  Then things seem to shift and we both felt that he was ‘under’.  I’ve no idea if this is the right terminology, so I apologise for any hypnotherapy practitioners that are tutting right now! 😊

Michelle kneeled down, just under George’s ear and gently spoke about taking the dog out, about George loving watching her run in the park or on the beach.  How he didn’t feel panic, he felt only joy at watching her run around. Michelle stressed to him that he felt really really good watching her do this and how important it was for her to get exercise.

This went on for around five minutes and then George was counted out of his sleep, down from five… which he rose from on number three.  He stretched and smiled and when asked if he knew what Michelle said to him, he said ‘No’.  This was a good sign.

I didn’t want to waste any time, so when we got home we went to the park with the dog and did just one minute of letting her off then called her back and walked her the rest of the way around.  It was clear to see that the initial fear wasn’t half as bad as it was the last time we had done this.  We sent Michelle a pic of us as promised to show her we’d done a minute.  On the way back, George kept saying how good he felt about it… just like Michelle told him he would!

I didn’t want to rush George into anything after this and it was probably a week before we tried again for two minutes which we did on the way home from school.  Success again.

The third time we went out would now be for three minutes. We went over and got to the back of the park and let her off.  This time she ran over and said hello to another dog. Now was the time to really put this to the test as last time she did this George had screamed and frightened her off.  I must admit, I felt a little nervous at what his reaction would be.  I was shocked to see that he was cool as a cucumber.  He understood that she was just going over to say ‘hello’ and that she wasn’t going anywhere far. We must’ve done well over the three minutes before we called her back and walked back around the park.  I was buzzing… and so was George.

A week later we had friends to stay for the weekend and on the Saturday morning we once again took the dog to the park. George went off to play with his friends and I went and threw the ball with the dog.  Five minutes later, George came over and wanted to play ball with us… which he did for a good 15 minutes!  The timer wasn’t even on this time!  He was happy to take in turns throwing the ball and running around with her.

This was a MASSIVE achievement… and he loved it!  George couldn’t bare the thought of taking the dog out just a few weeks ago and now he was out playing with her and not even looking at the stop clock, counting down the seconds before he put her on the lead!

The final test we decided, was to take the dog to the beach and let her off and play.  Going somewhere a little less familiar would really test George’s fear and of course, his hypnotherapy treatment! So we jumped in our van a week later and headed to the beach.

Just as we pulled up, George started to complain of being extremely tired and not able to go! I don’t know if this was genuine, but I wasn’t going to pander to him and just said ‘the sooner we go, the sooner we can go back home’.   I don’t know what that was all about, but once we got on the beach and he saw how much fun Dusty was having in the sand, he got a ‘second wind’ and was absolutely fine. Phew!

We ran, we played and enjoyed every minute of being on that beach.  There was not one jot of anxiety or fear on George’s part… and for us, it felt like a massive weight had been lifted.

For us, hypnotherapy has most definitely helped our son with his anxiety and helped us move forward with some new family adventures!

A big thank you to Michelle at Fairy Heart Therapies for your time and patience with us.

You can also check out my blog all about me having Reiki with Michelle and how much it helps me to relax. 💗

Until next time,

Love & Hugs from TOMD xxx

🐶💗

George’s Hypno Journey… Part 1!

After a year of panic attacks, it was time to take some action to help my son get over his fear of letting our dog off her lead… so, after trying to solve the situation in a number of different ways with no success, we looked at Hypnotherapy!

For the last 14 months, my son George has found it impossible to cope when it comes to taking the dog out for a walk.  He could just about manage to walk her on the lead, but any time it came to taking her off the lead, he would suffer with severe panic attacks.  This trigger of panic all stemmed from an incident that happened when our dog was just a few months old.

One particular afternoon, our little puppy decided to follow some lads to the other side of the park and into the car park.  With the four of us all panicking, she bolted and ran across the road that our house sits on.  Thankfully a neighbour managed to secure her i in their garden and she was fine.

A few weeks later, we were out with her again and I’d persuaded George that everything was going to be ok.  He was very nervous about this and I’m sure the dog picked up on this.  As she ran across to greet another dog (which they do constantly when they’re puppies) George started to panic… and scream.  Our pup was having none of this and decided to run home – she literally took herself to our front door.  Sadly though, from that point on, George couldn’t cope with taking her out anymore.

We tried so many was to encourage George to let her off.  We’ve tried the softly softly approach to help gain his trust in her, tough love, persuasion and even bribery.  We went to an enclosed park space especially for dogs, but he wouldn’t entertain even getting out of the car!  As time went on, his anxiety only increased.  It got to a point where he would have a full on panic attack at the thought of taking her out.

I was at the end of my tether, and short of writing into ‘This Morning’ and asking that Speakman couple for help, I decided to look at getting George hypnotised.

Thankfully, I knew just the person to help…  I messaged my wonderful Reiki practitioner Michelle from Fairy Heart Therapies and got George booked in.

I can’t lie, having George be so afraid of taking the dog out has been quite a strain on the family.  We bought a campervan this year to replace our car and we envisaged having these wonderful adventures over the summer… running through forests and walking along beaches (all very idealistic and Instagram ready!).  But that just didn’t happen. We managed a few canal walks but that was about it.

George himself was really keen to get over his fear.  He so badly wanted to feel ok about taking our dog out and watching her run, but the memory of her running away as a four month old puppy would trigger the panic.  He was even a little excited to see Michelle and try some hypnotherapy!

‘The Cabin’ at Fairy Heart Therapies is a sanctuary of calm and warmth and George was very keen to get in and see Michelle.  When I say keen, I mean giggly, overexcited and not exactly in the right frame of mind to have hypnotherapy performed on him!  Michelle chatted for a little while about why he had come to see her and about his feelings and fears.

Michelle explained to George about why his brain kept reminding him about the scary situation with the dog and how she will be able to talk to this part of the brain and tell it to switch that feeling off.  She told him that she will explain to his subconscious part of his brain that Dusty (that’s the dog!) is ok and that he will not feel panic when she is taken off the lead.

Once George felt more relaxed, sat in the comfy chair, Michelle started to introduce an exercise that would help him focus on becoming sleepy… counting from 10 backwards and with each number his eyelids would get heavier and heavier.  George smirked and fidgeted and I was already starting to think he was just playing along.  Then Michelle moved onto another exercise, explaining that he was standing at the top of a flight of stairs and his eyes becoming heavier with each step.

He looked peaceful, but I still couldn’t tell if he was ‘under’ or not!  It all started to look promising… until he did a little smirk at the end and I wondered if anything had really happened. My heart sank.  Rightly or wrongly, I was pinning all my hopes on this working.

We then talked through some exercises we could do to help George with the panicky feeling.  Giving the feeling a colour and using our bodies to push the feeling away whilst repeating the mantra “keeping calm”.

Next day, on the way home from school, I decided to  walk with George and the dog around the park on the way home.  Just one minute at a time was the recommendation, so that’s what we did.  George did his deep breaths, pushing the anxious feeling up into his shoulders and down his arms and kept saying “keeping calm”.  We managed a minute before Dusty was back on the lead.  It was clear to see he was still struggling.

Any attempts over the coming days to go over the park was met with excuses.  A week later I approached the subject of taking the dog out… guess what happened… he had  complete meltdown!

We were back to square one!

To be continued…

Love and Hugs,

TOMD xxx

I’m a ‘Queen of Comparison’ living in Funksville!

I know… I’m talking in riddles again! Just hear me out on this one… it’ll be worth it!

Theodore Roosevelt once said ‘Comparison is the Thief of Joy’.  Well last week I really felt that someone had stolen my joy!  You could argue that I maybe it was ‘that time of my cycle’, but if you’ve read ‘Be Still My Beating Ovaries’ you’ll know that just isn’t happening (though I swear I still have some kind of ‘cycle’). Whatever was going on, I was really not happy and it’s all because of comparison… or as my mentor calls it ‘Comparisonitis’!

It all started with doing some research for my new business website.  I need to put an ‘offering’ together for the social media and virtual assistant services I am going to offer as part of my ‘Social in Somerset’ business (cheeky plug!) and I was checking out other websites offering similar.

I was in awe of what these different people had to offer.  PR, Marketing, Copy-writing all with years of experience and degrees in this, that and the other.  The more I looked, the more deflated I became!  Why would someone chose to work with me over some of these talented individuals?

I really did get myself into a right old funk! The problem with getting in a funk, it ends up being so debilitating.  No motivation, feeling exhausted for no good reason, no joy!  Teddy Roosevelt was right!

Think about how you feel sometimes when you flick through Instagram. Do you ever look at the pics that throw up on the ‘For You’ function and start to compare?  The perfect bodies (the whole place seems to be full of butts!), the beautiful tidy houses, the smoothies you should be making (which I did for the first month of the year!), the workouts you’re not doing and the gorgeous looking accounts that are killing it with their 50K followers!  Phew! That’s a whole lot of comparison going on right there!  No wonder I’m in a funk!

Don’t get me wrong, I love Instagram. It’s quite a friendly platform, especially when compared to Twitter (some days you could liken it to travelling on the London Underground!) but you can find yourself falling down the ‘Perfect World’ rabbit hole and feeling pretty shitty when you finally claw yourself back out!

If you’ve read previous blogs, you may remember that I am currently doing a self development course called ‘Get Excited About Your Life’.  In a nutshell, it uses your ‘life story’ to look at your behaviours, your triggers, your pivots within your life (both good and bad) and look to move on from the negative ways you feel, not only about yourself, but your business/work, relationships… basically your life!

What I’d been experiencing with the work thing was derived by fear.  I’m going through a pretty big change at the moment in terms of work.  Leaving my comfort zone of PA with a company and work colleagues I’d been with for 15 years and going out on my own offering a service I’ve recently qualified in.  Turns out that things that had happened way way back in my past,  (we’re talking 20+ years ago) had been triggered and all that self doubt and feeling of not being good enough came flooding back.

This stopped me moving forward with anything to do with my business.  The tasks I set myself for the week, I left. I did everything to avoid it.  I was afraid of being judged, afraid of not being good enough, afraid of failing. So if I don’t do it, I can’t fail can I?

So how do you get out of a funk?

Use Your Tribes…

We all have tribes in different areas of our lives… from our dearest friends, colleagues, exercise buddies, course cohorts… there should be no reason to deal with your funk on your own.  But if you do retract from the world when you find yourself in ‘Funksville’ with a serious case of Comparisonitis, there are other ways you can turn it around.

So, how do you drive yourself out of Funksville? 

So, with my head ready to take action, I confessed my feelings to my course cohort through the medium of ‘Facebook Live’ (I do love a FB Live!). Not only did this make me feel a lot better to say it out loud, but being vulnerable and truthful gives others permission to do the same and helps you to realise you are not alone.

Sometimes however, we can take up residence in Funksville.  We’re quite happy to sit in our pit of shit and wallow… and that’s ok, but sooner or later you really need to think about getting out.

If you don’t want to declare your feelings there is another way.

The quickest way out of Funksville is to head straight to Gratitude. 

Whilst you might be down in the dumps with whatever situation you’re in, you know that there is always someone in a worse situation than you.  When you start being grateful for what you have, rather than what you haven’t got, there is no room in your head for negative thinking.

Stop thinking about what you haven’t got and start thinking about what you have got.  Make a list… 20 things you are grateful for… Or on the flip side, you could think, I might X but at least I’m not X.  Once you start to do these things, your funk will start to clear, even if it’s just a little bit… just enough to get you out of Funksville!

On my course, I am just learning about how to use gratitude in every day life.  Just being thankful for breathing in and out without any problem whilst walking the dog today, something as simple as that can change your mindset from negative to positive.

So chat to your tribe, start making that list. Breathe in the fresh air and be grateful.

Until next time,

Love and hugs,

TOMD xxx

PS; Of course, I’m no expert on turning negatives to positives, this has simply been my experience over the past few days.  If you’re feeling more than just in a funk, go and talk to a professional.  Seek help.  It’s ok not to be ok and taking that first step of saying “I need help” is the biggest one you will take.

PPS; If Funksville looked like that picture, I don’t think I’d actually leave!

Be still my beating ovaries!

silhouette of man touching woman against sunset sky
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So, how did I come to the decision to have my ovaries removed?

Yes, you heard that right. At 37, I made the decision to have my ovaries removed… I went into hospital and had the old egg factory shut down for good!  It wasn’t quite as straight forward as that, so let me explain what happened.

I remember back in 2012 there being a lot on the news about the cancer gene BRCA1 and BRCA2 which are the genes that are recognised as the breast cancer gene. For a while there had been a lot of talk about how you could get tested if your family had a history of breast cancer and when I thought about it, this meant me!

My mum, whilst in her 40’s, had pre-cancer cells identified after a breast reduction operation – they were found in what the consultant took away (more details in my boobs blog).  My Nan had breast cancer, as did her sister.  There was only one other sister (my great Aunt) that had so far escaped.

For those carrying the gene, there was a very difficult decision to make considering whether they had surgery, or whether to have more regular check ups dependant on their chance of the gene turning into cancer

For me there was another reason why I wanted to look into this.  Mum was fighting ovarian cancer and there is a clear link between breast and ovarian cancer.  There was no way I would want to put myself at risk, especially with ovarian cancer being called ‘the silent killer’ due to its lack of symptoms in the early stages.

So, having made the decision to get our family history checked out, I went along to the GP who made a referral to the Genetics Department at the hospital.  What followed as a consultation to talk over my family history and an explanation of how our genetics work, what the process was, time frame etc. Then, with my mum’s agreement, they would need a blood sample from her to determine if she had the gene.

I then went onto see a consultant to discuss more about potential results and procedures. We discussed my family situation, my desires for any more children (NO WAY!) and what I would like to do if the result came back positive and negative.

It was explained to me that if the result came back positive, I would know for definite and could make a concrete decision on how far I would want to protect myself against cancer in the future.  If the result came back negative, it would mean that Mum didn’t carry any of the BRCA genes, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t carry another gene out there… they just haven’t found it yet!

Basically, I would be making a decision on either a definitely, or a maybe.  After several months of waiting for the results to come back, the latter was the reality I dealt with.

I was given an option to leave things be, but as there were no routine checks for ovarian cancer like there are for changes in the breast, this could be leaving things to an element of chance.  I was offered the option to have my ovaries removed on the basis that there might be another gene out there that my Mum could be carrying, therefore giving me a  50% chance of carrying it too!

After a lot of consideration, I decided to go ahead and have my ovaries removed.  My whole family were behind this decision especially my husband (nothing to do with the fact that he dodged the vasectomy bullet, or should I say scalpel!).  Whilst it seemed a drastic move, the consultant was happy to do it and happy to put me on HRT so I didn’t plummet into menopause at 37.  I’d had all the children I wanted (two’s enough for me!) and there seemed no good reason to keep them.. the ovaries – not the children!  I also wanted to give my mum (and my family) some peace of mind that I wasn’t going to have the battle she had… at least not in this part of my body.

So, by the summer of the following year (2013), I went into hospital to have my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed by keyhole surgery.  It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, but it was the best one for me and I never had any doubts about what I was about to do.  Oh, apart from when they started wheeling me along on the bed down to the Ear, Nose and Throat Theatre.  My husband asked them a little concerned ” You do realise she’s having her ovaries out don’t you?”.

I was fortunate that the surgery went well, and apart from a small infection in one of the incision sites afterwards (and I couldn’t drink for a week!!) I made a quick recovery.  The HRT I’d been prescribed seemed to hit the spot and gave me no problems whatsoever.  But not everyone is the same, so this is something that needs to be considered very carefully and monitored.

I’ve never looked back since having it done. I must admit, it’s strange not to have any kind of cycle – and I still don’t know if I have one on an emotional level (my husband would say ‘YES’) but I certainly don’t miss them.  When I’m 51, I will slowly come off of the HRT and allow myself to go into the menopause gently… like walking down a hill, instead of jumping off a cliff at age 37.

What sits well with me, without sounding morbid, is that Mum left this world knowing that I wouldn’t be going through the same battle that she unfortunately lost.

To find out more on ovarian cancer visit the NHS website;

https://www.nhs.uk/be-clear-on-cancer/symptoms/ovarian-cancer

Symptoms to look out are;

  • feeling full quickly or loss of appetite.
  • pelvic or stomach pain.
  • needing to pee urgently or more frequently than normal.
  • changes in bowel habit.
  • extreme fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • unexplained weight loss.

 

Until next time,

Love and hugs from TOMD xxx