If you follow my instagram (@livinglifefree__ cheeky plug) then you know I talk about being a spoonie. But for those outside of the chronic illess community, you might be wondering what it actually means.
It all comes from ‘Spoon Theory.’
Spoon Theory is a metaphor to help people with chronic illnesses describe their struggles.
‘Spoonie’ was taken from student Christine Miserandino’s blog post ‘The Spoon Theory.’ Back in 2010, Christine friend asked her what it was like for her to live with Lupus and she had to think of a creative way for a healthy person to understand her illness in a way that was easy to imagine. Hence the spoon theory was born.
So what is it?
Imagine that a person with a chronic illness has 10 spoons for the day. Each activity they do takes a certain number of spoons.
For example, getting up in the morning on a good day may take one spoonl because even on a good day it can be hard, or driving to work may take a spoon from your day.
To put it simply: spoons are physical representations of energy.
While healthy people may have unlimited spoons, spoonies only have a set amount to work with per day.
You can borrow a spoon from the next day if there is more you have to do, but that means that tomorrow you have less spoons to work with.
Things like cooking, being social, exercise and work all take up spoons but less obvious things that healthy people take for granted also take away our spoons. Getting dressed, listening to music, reading etc, all these things can take away from the daily spoon limit meaning spoonies have to be aware of their energy budget.
So when I talk about being an spoonie, I mean that I am a member of the chronic illness community and can often use the spoon theory to describe my life with chronic fatigue syndrome.
If you want to keep up with my fun and funky spoonie life, make sure to follow me on instagram or subscribe!
Hey guys, long time to no post! Sorry for the lack of content recently but I’ve been going through a move, changing jobs etc- it’s been a bit crazy (+ we’re in a pandemic…)
Speaking of jobs, that’s what I’m going to talk to you guys about today. For the past few months I’ve been working in social media marketing for a few different people. From a comparison site, to a luxury wellness website, I’ve spent some time in a few different jobs in a few different areas.
My current situation
Now… I’m only working with one person. Whilst people leave jobs for all sorts of reasons (I left one of them due to a boss taking advantage- guuurl I know my worth) the main reason I only have one client left is- shock horror- my chronic fatigue syndrome.
Mental energy is something I don’t have a lot of. I mean, I don’t have much physical energy either but in the type of jobs I’ve been doing, mental energy is the one I need.
When I’ve been contracted so many hours, I want to do that many hours!! But often after an hour or two of work looking at a screen, I get brain fog.
Now… what is brain fog?
So after a couple of hours, often I’ll have a dip or even if I don’t, the fog clouds my brain so much that I can’t work any more the rest of the day! When rent and bills are a thing- I think you can see why this is a bit of a stressful situation.
Stress = dips
Dips = inability to work
Inability to work = no money
No money = stress
See what I mean? Bit of a vicious circle going on here.
So right now, I’m looking for more work. I’m doing all the things you should, scrolling through Indeed.com, giving out my business cards (for social media marketing stuff), making calls etc but there is a big problem with a lot of the jobs available… there is NO WAY IN HELL that my body will be able to manage a 9-5 job.
If I sometimes get brain fog after a couple of hours, working all day, for multiple days on the run is physically impossible.
Working in a supermarket? Can’t do that- they could schedule me in for 5am.
Amazon packer? Imagine having a dip in the middle of a warehouse- no thank you.
Having a Chronic Illness Completely Changes your Life
Whilst there is some government help out there, it is a bloody nightmare to figure out.
I want to work, I want to be independent and pave a life for myself but how can I do that when I am so limited to what I can do?
I’m trying my hardest to find more remote social media work, because at least I can fit that around my schedule!
One of the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue is insomnia. Thankfully for me it doesn’t show up too often but when it does, its a bitch.
Once in a while, I’ll have a night where I lie in bed, completely unable to sleep. Then I get frustrated that I can’t sleep which makes it all worse and the cycle continues. I’m sure you get it right? It happens to everyone once in a while.
Problem is, one night of no sleep can knock me for days. Right now, I am exhausted in a way that has completely stripped me of any ability to focus on tasks that require mental energy.
That means things like work, cleaning, updating my social media, washing my hair, cooking etc. Anything that requires active engagement suddenly becomes 10x harder for a few days afterwards.
Since I’m not a student anymore, I actually need to work a good amount of house (because rent is a thing.) Issue is, after a night of no sleep, I have no ability to focus and hence can’t work without triggering a huge dip. That just adds to stress since it adds to financial worry.
Living with a chronic illness affects so much, everyday. It affects work, finance, relationships, friendships etc and so a sleepless night hits hard.
Things to do when this strikes
There are tons of guides on how to go to sleep when you can’t. As much as I’ve tried, most of these techniques just don’t work for me, so here are a few things you can do when you can’t sleep to make the experience a bit less rubbish.
I don’t know about you but when I can’t sleep, it sends me into a panic because I know of the consequences. Taking time to acknowledge the reality of the situation and try to stop panicking can help you feel a tad better. Meditation can help calm the mind and put you in a better mental state to face the rest of the night.
Have a cuppa
Call it the British in me but a good cup of tea is always a good way to help relax. Put the kettle on and make yourself a hot drink but make sure it’s decaf. Adding caffeine to your body is not going to help!
Get out the room
If you can’t sleep, staying in bed can actually be a detriment. The location becomes a stressful situation of tossing and turning so stepping out of that situation can be really helpful. Maybe go down to the kitchen and make yourself that cuppa?
Lavender Lavender Lavender
In my previous blog post, I mentioned how much I love Lavender essential oil to help me sleep. There are so many awesome lavender products as well as oils, such as lavender teddies that you can put in the microwave (they’re so cute!). As well as being good to help sleep, lavender is a relaxing scent in general so if you’re like me and panicking at 4am that you need to be awake in a few hours then a bit of lavender to calm to the mind can help.
Sleepless nights suck and they suck even more if you have a chronic illness. Sometimes there is nothing you can do but power through. Make sure you take it easy over the next couple of days and cut yourself some slack.
One of the most important things for people with chronic fatigue is to make sure we get a good amount of sleep.
I have had struggle sleeping my entire life. If it is noisy around me then there is almost 0% chance that I will manage to get a good night’s rest. It’s the same when I’m in unfamiliar locations, its sometimes a struggle to feel at ease, and in turn, to sleep.
With my CFS, it isn’t just the amount of sleep that I struggle with, it is the quality of sleep. My quality of sleep is rubbish. No matter how much I sleep in a night, I wake up feeling exhausted.
Every. Single. Day.
Julie, the PT I was seeing (who was essentially more like an overall life coach 😂), recommended I start to look into essential oils and what they could do for me. I’ve never really thought about them before and had only tried various different sleeping tablets.
On her recommendation, I decided to look up a lavender essential oil. She told me that it was important to make sure the oil was 100% pure and so I ordered this little baby off amazon.
The beautiful purple plant is known to have sleep aiding properties. It has been used to treat insomnia as well as non-sleep central issues such as anxiety and depression(it is not a replacement for medication).
To get the oil out of the plant, a process called steam distillation is used. This pure lavender oil isn’t just used in this form, but can also be added to soaps, gels, candles and even certain foods!
There are a few different ways to use your lavender oil:
One way to use the lavender oil is via aromatherapy. Using an essential oil diffuser is a great way to do it. I really want one of these so if you fancy buying me one shoot me a message ;).
All you need to do is add water and a few drops of oil- and the diffuser does the rest. A lovely lavender scented mist will be blown out into the room and all you need to do is breathe.
Apply Onto the Skin
I was told to add a drop on my finger to the top of my mouth or on the soles of my feet, but I’ve read a few things saying that you shouldn’t do that with 100% pure oil. It should be diluted with a carrier oil first (eg coconut, sunflower, avocado, sweet almond oil etc )
Since essential oils are fat soluble, they will be absorbed into the skin no problem.
Put a drop or two onto a tissue and give it a sniff! Put the tissue near (but not on) your nose and take deep breaths. Maybe use this as an opportunity to meditate! Taking slow, deep breaths with a calming scent surrounding you will help to calm your body and mind.
As an alternate to basic inhalation and using a diffuser, adding a few drop of lavender oil to a bowl of just-below-boiling water creates a steam that you can breathe in. Just place a towel over your head and keep breathe in the steam from a good distance away. Too close and the steam could scold and too far away and you won’t reap the benefits.
Use Lavender Essential Oil to Help with Your Sleep
It’s all natural and all good!
Have you tried it? Tell me what you think in the comments below.
I don’t know about you, but coffee is my life blood. I live, breathe and practically cry the beans.
I loved living in Newcastle. Uni was definitely one of the best few years of my life and I could not have gotten through it without coffee.
Whether you’re a flat white kinda queen or a cortado king, I have complied a list of the best non-big boy-chain coffee shops for all your Arabica needs.
I don’t know if it’s written in the contract that everyone who works in coffee trader has to be a lovely person, because everyone I interacted with was just so nice!
I decided to try the latte as they told me that it was their most popular coffee drink and I was not disappointed. It was smooth and velvety, just what I want in a latte, and the pattern on top gave it that little extra oomph. I also just hadto add a splash of honeycomb syrup from their extensive collection of flavours.
Try a slice of the carrot cake, I definitely recommend it!
Coffee Trader has a really chilled out vibe. Whether you’re with friends, meeting someone for work or even just going to study this is a great place to do so.
Here are some key facts about the café:
Non-dairy alternatives?: Yes
Charge for them?: Not for soy, 20p for Oat and Coconut
Location: Just off Northumberland St. 16 Northumberland St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7EL
Although the name is a little 2017 cringe, YOLO is great if you want something quick and cheap without sacrificing quality. As part of The Stack, an awesome shopping location, the inside of YOLO is really small so if you’re with a group of friends, sitting in might be tricky. Despite this, the interior is super chic and gives the space a cute, boutiquey vibe.
I ordered a Flat White and that qualified for the £1.50 coffee offer! All their 8oz coffee’s are only £1.50, meaning I could get a proper treat (because the coffee is awesome) whilst not feeling guilty about spending.
Be careful- the coffee’s here are HOT! It helps to get a sleeve and make sure to give it a minute if you don’t want a burnt tongue (I learnt that the hard way!).
Non-dairy alternatives?: Yup
Charge for them?: No cost
Camber was the one that surprised me the most whilst compiling this list. Being above a cycle shop, you wouldn’t think that the décor would be any good, right? Wrong. Camber is absolutely beautiful, with light wood tables and lots of greenery. The natural light also gives the room a really calming atmosphere.
Out of all the cafes I visited, this was the best place to come and work. The Wifi is free and fast and there are tons of tables with a lot of space.
I ordered a Vanilla Iced Latte with the house blend. What I liked about this one was that it did not taste syrupy at all, which can be a problem in flavoured iced coffees.
These guys don’t just make good coffee, they also know their stuff. They have multiple blends to choose from, with a few different origins- I for one can’t wait to go back and try some more! (Also bonus point: the staff here were so lovely to chat to!)
Like Camber, these guys know their stuff when it comes to coffee. They have multiple blends to try, including two from Brazilian female roasters (yass feminism, big thumbs up from me!), and sell their coffee in bags if you want to take some home.
PLC has a cool, edgy vibe but is a pretty good place to work too due to its free Wifi!
I got a Flat White, which came in a glass as opposed to a mug, something which made me feel very fancy- I’m not going to lie! The coffee itself was quite intense, so if you don’t like a very strong flavour I would recommend trying a longer drink, but for strong coffee lovers this is the drink for you. I also had a cheeky monch on a beautiful Dulce de Leche banana loaf (the slice was quite thin- still tasted good though!)
Non-dairy alternatives?: Yes
Charge for them?: 20p (they are considering getting rid of it!)
Location: Opposite Central Station. 1 Pink Ln, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 5DW
Campus Coffee had the glow up of the century when it turned into The Grand last summer. Not only did the coffee significantly improve, but the light blue themed décor is stunning! If it is before 4 (sadly it closes then), I would choose to stay on campus when I was a student and get my drink here 100%.
They also sell sandwiches, pasties and cakes which makes it a super lovely spot for students to take a nice break from studying.
This round I was on a cappuccino without the chocolate (its healthier that way right?) and it was pretty good! It’s awesome to have a place that does such great coffee on campus.
Non-dairy alternatives?: Yes (soy and oat)
Charge for them?: 30p for oat
Location: Newcastle University Campus. 162 Northumberland St.
So there you have it! Five of my favourite Coffee Shops in Newcastle City Centre. Next time you’re procrastinating, try procaffinating instead and check them out!
Something huge has happened guys. I graduated! Being in the class of 2020 means my physical graduation sadly wont take place for a few months but the diploma is in my (virtual) hands and I am officially free of organised education forever!!!!!
Now why am I making a huge deal out of it?
Studying with CFS
First of all anyone making it though uni- regardless of their grade- deserves a parade because we’ve all worked damn hard and deserve to celebrate.
However, for me personally, graduating has a much deeper meaning. This past year, my chronic fatigue syndrome had me thinking that maybe I wouldn’t be able to make it. Often I would have to miss lectures in the morning due to being left bed bound by it.
Focusing on lectures, essays, coursework and exams took a mental toll on my far more than it would for the average student. Often I could only work a couple of hours a day before my brain was so exhausted I couldn’t comprehend words on the page.
To be frank, being a student with CFS/ME was sh*t.
It wasn’t just lectures I was missing either. I barely went out drinking when my friends did because I either didn’t feel up to it, or I had things to do the next day and couldn’t afford to spend the day in recovery (not a hangover lol). Especially in Newcastle, there is a drinking culture so that ended up being a lot of nights out/parties missed.
There were times that I had a bad dip in front of people which, at the time, seemed really embarrassing. Lucking the majority of people around me were really nice and helpful and often helped me to the taxi that I had to get because I didn’t have the ability to walk home.
I remember at the start of my second year, when I first started to feel ill. I would miss lectures and see multiple different doctors and nurses to try and figure out what was wrong with me (who never took me seriously and just said well its another virus…)
Two and a half years later, I have my diagnosis and am starting to learn how to manage my life, but back then never even considered what my life now would be like.
Ok so I know it sounds all doom and gloom so far… but now here’s where it gets good.
I pushed through all of that.
Every. Single. Bit.
Every dip; every missed lecture; every missed party and nights out; every time I cried in my bedroom about what my illness was doing to me- all of it never stopped me. I did it. I graduated.
Life wasn’t always so bad
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the time sucked but overall, I had an incredible time at uni and will miss it like hell.
I am really lucky to have had such important friends and staff who helped me along the way.
Without these guys, I think the past year would have been much harder.
So a huge huge HUGE shoutout to my friends who have been there for me. The ones who have helped me when I’ve been down and lifted me up throughout uni. I love you guys.
The thing that probably got me through uni the most was my society. I was a proud member of NUGSS (Newcastle University Gilbert and Sullivan Society).
Every year NUGSS puts on two shows: one by G&S and the other is anything goes (well… as long as copyright allows it). Being a performer (Fun fact for those who don’t know me: I did a music degree! I am a vocalist who has trained in Jazz, Theatre and Opera), having a space to be creative and to sing was hugely important for my mental health. Having that fun, creative space was at times, a break from stress and a place where I could just have fun!
I often had dips here though. With dancing (is what we did classed as dancing? 😉 NUGSS members comment below) and projecting a singing voice with no mics, it took a lot out of me at times but everyone in NUGSS was incredible supportive and never treated me differently because of it. It could have been easy for the directors/ musical directors to say that they didn’t know if I could handle a role due to my condition but nope– I was treated the same as every other member and that meant a lot to me.
I had some great times socially too. NUGSS had awesome socials and weekly trips to the pub. I went to places like board game cafes and coffee shops, spending time with friends that I knew I could manage and yes, sometimes I did go out drinking.
Being a student with a chronic illness is possible. It is a struggle, but that struggle makes us stronger.
A couple of tips to get you through
Here are a couple of things you can do to make studying with a chronic illness a little bit easier.
1. Find a lecturer/ member of staff that you trust and let them know your situation.
Luckily for me, Music was a relatively small degree so I ended up getting to know quite a few of my lecturers who were all incredibly supportive. For a larger degree cohort, this might be more of a challenge, but the effort will be worth it.
These staff members can be a huge help in supporting you when it comes to trying to organise help from the uni.
2. Get Special Dispensation from the Uni
At Newcastle, this was called a Student Support Plan. After providing medical evidence, the uni gave me an SSP which meant that I was much more likely to have my extensions approved and I did not receive any consequences for missing lectures. I got all my extensions this past year and boy did I need them.
Having this SSP was essential.
3. Find a Supportive group of friends
This one is easier said than done but finding people who can trust and who will be a part of your support network is super important. They are the people you can turn to at your lowest moments, for things that you can’t really talk about with members of staff.
One way to make this a little easier on yourself is to join a society where you will meet people with similar interests- which is always helpful in starting off friendships.
4. Finally: Don’t be too hard on yourself
It can be so frustrating when you know you have the ability but your body won’t allow you to do things.
This is something I am still struggling with. For my degree classification I got a 2:1 which I am thrilled with but the only thing that is annoying is that I was one mark off a 1st.
That sent me onto a bad thought process. Could I have got a 1st if I didn’t have my CFS holding me back? To be so close to a better grade and the reason potentially being an illness I have no/little control over being the reason I didn’t get there is frustrating as hell.
But then I stopped to think.
Why am I letting myself be upset by this?
69 is a brilliant grade. A 2:1 is amazing! I got to that grade whilst still being held back.
To know that I was able to do well no matter the obstacles is such a positive feeling. So right now, whilst that 1 little mark is annoying, so what? I smashed it!!!!
Give yourself a break if you can’t do as much work as your peers. Don’t beat yourself up for saying no to going to a bar. You are allowed to put your health first. It is the most important thing.
“I am ready to face any challenge that might be foolish enough to face me.” — The Office
It’s time to go out into the real world. Working with CFS is already hard but knowing that I could make it to graduation means I have the confidence in myself to step out into the world with a smile on my face, ready to take on anything!
So, ConGRADulations to me! Let’s see what the future has in store.
With the government asking us all to eat out to help out, I thought I’d put together a few of my favourite food spots in Manchester to help you guys out when you can’t decide what to eat.
Want to grab a quick bite or relax into a good meal with a cocktail?Check out my top picks below.
1. The Ivy
Situated in Manchester City Centre’s classiest area Spinningfields, The Ivy hosts three separate restaurants: The Ivy Brasserie, Ivy Asia and The Ivy Roof Garden, all of which are amazing. My personal favourite is going to The Brasserie for brunch with the gals.
Top tip: try the buttermilk pancakes with fruit, Greek yoghurt and strawberry sauce- they’re to die for.
2. Mackie Mayor
Mackie Mayor is the coolest food hall you will ever see.
You can find it in the Northern Quarter where it is open every single day of the year. Serving artisan versions of all your favourite foods, it even has fantastic veggie/vegan options so that everyone can have an incredible meal.
Victors can be found in South Manchester, with one restaurant in Alderly Edge and the other in Hale.
If you’re looking for a place to eat that is full of elegance and class, then this is the place to be. The Alderly Edge location has one of my favourite interiors of any restaurant I’ve ever been to, using florals and botanics to create an otherworldly vibe.
My suggestions are the sushi (which is unreal)for food and for a cocktail, the Victor’s Garden for Her.
4. Northern Soul Grilled Cheese
Another Northern Quarter classic, the UK’s first ever Grilled Cheese Restaurant is a can’t-miss.
These are far from just your average cheese toasties. Northern Soul takes a basic staple and turns it into a gourmet masterpiece.
Who would have thought you’d find one of the best pizza spots in the world in Manchester?
Rudy’s has an official ranking of the tenth best pizza worldwide by food website Big Seven. To top it off, the prices are super reasonable.
If you’re a pizza lover, Rudy’s is a must-visit on your trip to Manchester
6. Crazy Pedros
Staying on pizza for a minute, Crazy Pedro’s Pizza Parlour lives up toit’s name– the flavour combinations are crazy!
From their ‘World Famous Hotdog Pizza’ (featuring hot hogs, crispy onions, mustard and ketchup) to their ‘Giuseppe’s Not Sloppy, He’s Vegan’ (Hot spiced fake beef chilli, vegan cheese, peppers, onions and jalapeños), you know you’re in for a wild time. Plus, their cocktails are awesome.
7. All Star Lanes
What doesn’t All Star Lanes have? With an A La Carte Menu, Brunch (until 4pm!!!) and insane cocktails, you’ll struggle not to have an amazing meaI almost forgot to mention the best part- it’s a bowling alley.
I’ve had some of my best nights out starting with a meal, drinks and bowling here.
8. Indian Tiffin Room
I don’t know about you, but in my family, curry is the ultimate food and The Tiffin Room is the hands-down family favourite.
With two Manchester locations, you can either visit in the City Centre or down in Cheadle. Personally I’d recommend the Cheadle location as the staff are so lovely.
Top tip: Try the Gobi Manchurian, Chana Batura and ITR Curries.
Have you been to any of these places? Let me know what you thought of them!