Reflections – 20 going on 40

Hello Blooms,

So…I’m turning 20

[ID: I’m wearing a pink and red Ann Summers bra
smelling artificial hydrangeas with my eyes closed]

Trying to think back a few months to when life was quote on quote ‘normal’ seems like an almost impossible task; nevermind to this time last year – it feels surreal…did that actually happen? Was that only 1 year ago? It feels like 5! However, never in the past 7 years of debilitating chronic illness have I felt my age because of the unique and constant challenges and obstacles you’re faced with. It matures you beyond your years, yet there is a silver lining to be found here – it has prepared me for many situations in life, especially the difficulties I have navigated since turning 18. 

In all seriousness I never thought I would make it to 20, I had developed this prophecy that I wouldn’t make it through the difficulties endured during my mid teens. It was something comforting as I felt it was inevitable and therefore I couldn’t reach out for help, but rather take solace in a self-fulfilled and final decision to rid myself of suffering. It wasn’t until I saw the effect it was having on those around me because they could see who I was beneath the illness, whereas I felt consumed by it. This realisation empowered me to agree to professional help – and thank god I did.

You may remember a blog post I wrote called ‘A Letter of Apology to my Body’, it was a frank and raw post in which I accepted and apologised to myself for the emotional and physical I endured by reverting to disordered eating behaviours – reading it back I am met with a woman who is yet to truly understand and find herself, and is definitely still troubled. 

I can hardly recognise myself, and this was only 2 years ago! But a lot can happen in 2 years huh?

Although my physical health took a big hit during 2019 – a year which was expected to bring rest prior to attending university for my Psychology degree – my mental health improved massively as I was lucky to receive successful CBT therapy under the care of the NHS. I cannot express my gratitude to my psychologist James enough; he was truly wonderful. So although my chronic illness deteriorated, I had developed imperative healthy coping mechanisms which continue to serve as a compass; by guiding me as I embark upon new challenges, no matter how tough.

But although I gained knowledge and self-trust, I lost a pet, abilities, and had to come to term with the fact I could not attend university in 2020; which is heartbreaking in a sense because it was something I had envisioned and strove towards. 

What do I want to improve going forward?

Not feeling responsible for other people’s emotions – trauma caused me to feel like I was always the thing behind people’s unhappiness – this is NOT the case!

  • To not apologise when I’m not in the wrong – stick to your water guns girl! 
  • Stop justifying myself to other people – you are enough and your choices are yours to make!
  • To not settle for less; remember your worth!
  • Continuing advocating for the right treatment and speaking up when I don’t agree with a professional regarding my health!

Furthermore I feel it appropriate to take some time to acknowledge the amazing people I could not have made it without 

Mum, you have continuously acted as a pillar of unconditional support in my life, even when at times you feel like you haven’t known how to support me. Mental health can be confusing for people without said conditions, but I am so thankful that you took the time to understand me, learn about my conditions and found ways to help me – you’re the best mother in the entire world, and your wit and ability to burst into spontaneous dancing has brightened the darkest of times. Hugs from you are healing, even if it’s only temporary. They’re reminders that you always have my back in every sense of the word (apart from the scoliosis of course). You have seen me at my worst, and my most sick, and you never once failed to show by my side. Thank you for everything x

Ellie, never have I connected with someone like I have with my best friend – she has me in fits of laughter, will forever be my hyper woman and cheerleader from the side, and someone who I shall have alongside me for the rest of my life; because life wouldn’t be the same without your magical presence. I’m not a religious person, but I still feel like we were destined to meet and life pulled us in the direction towards each other; otherwise it was the most beautiful and perfect union of coincidence. We have been through so much as individuals, some of it during the time we have had the blessing of being friends, but I know that it would have been x1000 times harder if you weren’t there holding my hand in spirit. Life with chronic and mental illness can make us feel like we’re some of the unluckiest people alive, but your friendship proves otherwise. You’re my lucky charm, someone who makes my heart sing with pride and appreciation. I cannot wait to hug you and Millie x

As well as the true blessings I have received in the form of a plethora of fabulous friends who I can’t imagine life without because of the remarkable effect they have had on my journey in such a positive way, within such a short time x

Emily, a pop of colour, vibrancy, and love in a dull space. You have empowered me along my journey, inspired me to try new things, and take life on with a badass attitude. Netflix and sofa cuddles await us in the future x

Danny, thank you for everything – you will always have a special place in my heart, and there’ll always be room in my life for you; always x

Ophelia, my talented spirit sibling, a ray of powerful and artistic light. I can’t wait to watch the waves with you and the pooch x

My fantastic chronic illness group chat consisting of fellow EDS warriors – which I formed to connect during social isolation. Every single one of the members has worked to create a safe, considerate, and supportive space in which we have built life-long friendships which we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do without social media x

Photoshoot girls – an amazing support network of chronic illness warriors who I had the absolute pleasure of working alongside earlier this year for Kate Stanforth’s ‘chronic illness photoshoot’. With Kate and Hannah’s creative genius and planning, we were able to be brought together and forge such a unique and powerful friendship group. Thank you angels x

Sonya, a supportive, creative, and generous friend and fabulous cat mum. Believe in your talents and never give up hope for what the future holds x

Finally, thank you to everyone who has continuously tuned into my blog to support my passion for writing about these delicate and often misunderstood topics. It truly means so much! Along with the fabulous individuals who have shared their journeys with me in the form of collaborative works, via interaction on my Instagram, or in the DM’s. It’s truly wonderful to be a part of such a uplifting community.

Here’s to another 20 years but full of adventures, challenges, and love.

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