Wednesday, 16 October 2013

My 1st Blogiversary!

M.E. myself and I is a year old! Happy Birthday Blog! 

For someone who doesn't do very much I seem to have an awful lot to say seeing as we've managed 12 months and over 140 posts.


I often forget that I am so much more than just an M.E sufferer but you have all reminded me that I am indeed something more. If nothing else I am a blogger. It is an achievement in itself to have been writing posts over this last year.

If I didn't have M.E. I'm really not sure I'd read a blog like mine so a special thank you to all those who don't have experience of M.E. and yet still take the time to read and hopefully try to gain some understanding. Thank you to those who use up their very precious 'spoons' to read and comment and share each post I publish. Thank you to the parents and siblings and friends of other sufferers who have joined me along the way. Thank you to my own family and friends who have stuck with it this past year. I hope it hasn't been a waste of your time and I hope M.E. myself and I has helped in some way, however small.

Changes in appearance since October 2012. Blue seems best, for obvious reasons. (ME/CFS awareness.)
The majority of people who I started this for no longer read my blog; some found it just too upsetting to think of their Anna like this. It was never my aim to upset anyone or make anyone feel sorry or sad for me. I was always just trying to help; to give an honest insight and to try to explain. That's still my main aim but I also still find it beneficial to get things off my chest. Looking back at the posts also allows me to 'measure' my progress. 

Blog-wise I suppose I'm up against it, what with beauty and lifestyle blogs being the blogs of choice. Everyone seems to have a blog these days and many bloggers are after fame and followers but that's not why I started a blog. I should have picked a much chirpier subject if that was my goal! 

Yet despite not being a 'mainstream' topic, we have reached well over 20,000 views. That is ridiculous for a blog about M.E! Posts are shared on Facebook and twitter by people I have never met and have never spoken to. Obviously not everyone who views the blog page will read each post all the way through, but M.E. myself and I has a worldwide audience and I can't quite believe it! That was something I had never even thought about! This was honestly just meant to help my nearest and dearest to understand and it has become something much bigger. I never imagined that it would be so well received and read by so many. Thank you all for being so nice!

Top Ten audience by country for this week
I would love to know who my readers are, so if you would like to make yourself known please say hello in the comments section below. 

So I will carry on with M.E. myself and I because there is still, somehow, much to say. 

And now, instead of celebrating I am off to the doctors this afternoon with a list of lovely new symptoms as long as my arm. Yay. 

Left: the original blog photo. Right: a year on and I'm still under the same blanket, in the same hoody, wearing the same hat

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

I'm not okay

This one feels very personal but I am still going to post it because I know it will strike a chord with many others. I mean no harm in publishing it. It is nobody's fault, just another observation about life with chronic illness.

I saw some friends recently and, as has happened before, I was left with that bittersweet feeling afterwards; hearing about the ins and outs of The Real World. My life has changed so much. To them it was just a couple of hours in a busy week. For me, it was my whole week. 

This time that bittersweet feeling, and the over analysis of how I might have come across, was worse because I know what they thought. They told me. They thought I was crazy and weird. They said it affectionately but I know there was truth in it too. They said it was a side to me that they hadn't seen before. I was just trying to be myself and I was perhaps more honest and open than I have been before. 

I think I was overexcited and overtired. I was scatty. I came across as drunk apparently. I feel so foolish and embarrassed. Mortified even. And I feel pathetic; that my life has been reduced to this. I felt I was just being myself but it's not a person they recognised. Am I starting to lose my marbles after years of being cooped up? They must wonder whether I have a dual personality, but it's the impact M.E. has had on my ability to be myself and to be 'normal'.

And my dad seemed just as excited too; that I had visitors. And they might have thought his excitement was odd too; that a grown man seemed so happy that his adult daughter had friends round for a couple of hours. 

It was probably the best and liveliest they've seen me in years which is, of course, great! But it comes with me now having to learn who this Anna is: in this next phase of my M.E. journey and I don't think you can fully understand the idea of that unless you've been there yourself. I have been shoved out of my comfort zone by the most recent steps along the road to recovery. I am yet to find a new routine that I'm comfortable with, what with my parents being away and my brother having moved home after university.

And the constant analysis is getting to me. "Is it a good day?" "You seem to be able to do more recently?" I feel so lost. I don't know who I am. I have to find my feet, and my balance, all over again. How I hate M.E. and chronic illness and all that comes with it. I can't do this anymore! I just want to scream. I think it has finally hit me that I've had my 3 year anniversary and I'm heading towards my fourth birthday as a poorly person. I feel very low. I am struggling in general at the moment. There, I said it. 

I don't know how to 'be' around people anymore. What is the etiquette? What are the rules? I feel so out of touch with The Real World. I feel very much like I no longer belong; I feel so far removed from those who were once my peers.

I'm not okay, but that's okay. Maybe I will be tomorrow. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Personality

A few months ago I was out with my family and our oldest family friends. I barely muttered a word all evening and had to leave early. I didn't talk to my friends, one of whom had just graduated. I didn't/couldn't even say congratulations. It got me to thinking...

Chronic illness has altered my personality in that I am too exhausted to be the person I really am. I've become a diluted version of myself, all thanks to this illness. I am too physically unwell to function as my true self. (It seems some people struggle to get their head around that and they disregard my explanations with a simple "M.E. really must be a mental and psychological illness." Now there is nothing wrong with having such an illness, but M.E. is NOT one and you'll make me cross if you say it is.)

People comment that they see "the spark" coming back as the months and years progress which is encouraging and lovely to hear, but it's also a bit sad that I can't see that 'spark' myself and feel so far from the person they still see me as. 

Many people say I'm just the same old Anna, infact I think everyone says that. I find that baffling! I don't see how I can be, when so much has changed and I've changed with it. Maybe for the couple of hours a month that they see me I give it everything I've got, because I'm so excited to be socialising, and so the person they see is infact almost that Old Anna.

That's invisible illness for you. My outer shell looks much the same (minus the oddly coloured hair, weight gain, pale skin, boy haircut, etc) but the person inside feels such a huge juxtaposition to what people are (apparently) seeing. 

I feel I'm not as chatty or 'bubbly' and I can't keep in touch with my friends or reply to messages like I used to. My responses are often short and without humour too, because I can't seem to form the same sort of sentences as I once would have. I am not always able to offer fellow sufferers support and friendship when, at one time, I would have done. And yet I couldn't survive without their support. It feels very selfish, which I don't think is very 'me'.

Other aspects of my personality have been highlighted because of my being ill. I am much too empathetic, so much so that I am unable to read the news without getting upset about what I'm reading. Some parts of me have perhaps remained exactly the same. I still love to photograph everything and anything, much to the dismay of my siblings. When it comes to diets I am still lacking the willpower to see them through until the end. I still choose to dress in clothes that some others find...unusual. 

In some ways I have become much more laid back. In other ways I still worry just as much as I always did, maybe even more. I'm less grumpy and argumentative but the 'feisty' and opinionated side of me is starting to pop up here and there according to The Family. Feisty? Me? Pfft.

So you see M.E. really does have an impact on absolutely everything. 



How will I know when I'm back to being 'myself' if I can't remember who or what that person was? Maybe I will never be the same again after having endured such a harsh life changing experience. Maybe that's for the best. Who knows. There are parts of the new me that I hope stay with me forever, just as there are parts of the Old Anna that I hope aren't lost forever. One thing is for sure, I still seem to overanalyse things just as much as I ever did.