This time last year, I could barely move.

My fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome were the worst they’ve ever been.

I felt so hopeless, and I was terrified I’d be bed bound, unable to walk or even write.

I already struggled to walk 15 minutes to the tram. Just that was enough to wear me out for the whole day.

Little did I realise that would be the least of my worries just two months later.

Before coronavirus, though, I started to see hope. 

One night, when I couldn’t sleep, I came across an article about an app to treat chronic pain. It was a case study, about a woman with chronic migraines that had all but vanished thanks to Curable.

I was sceptical but desperate, with no idea how long an NHS referral for a treatment programme would take. 

So I gave it a go. 

And it changed my life. 

Small steps, big changes

Curable’s philosophy is based on increasing research around biopsychosocial pain, which goes by other names such as TMS. 

To put it simply, physical pain is a manifestation of repressed emotional pain. Our brain can’t really tell the difference—they’re processed in the same place. So if you don’t deal with one, it leads to the other. 

Many people might not like this sentiment. They may insist that they’re not bottling up trauma, or that they’ve faced all their issues.

From what I’ve seen talking to people with and without chronic health issues, we all have emotions and situations we’ve repressed. Most of us are just ticking time bombs, waiting for another event to push us over the edge.

Despite what people seem to think, trauma doesn’t have to be one terrible event. It can be a series of them that breaks you down overtime. That’s what it was for me. 

The biggest breakthrough I had came from a writing exercise, when I realised just how much of my teenage years I’d spent in pain. But I’d tried to suppress said pain, because we didn’t talk about it in our family. 

Well, I’m calling bullshit on that. Sorry Mum, if you’re reading this. 

The whole ‘stiff upper lip’ thing we Brits are famous for is going lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and so much more when this pandemic is over. And the already struggling NHS isn’t going to be able to cope.

There’s nothing wrong with expressing your emotions. Anyone who tells you there is, says so because they can’t face their own. 

Which, sadly, is most of people. 

If that’s you, I’m here for you. There’s no shame in expressing your emotions. If you want a sympathetic ear, you’re welcome to DM me on Twitter (you’ll get a faster reply than via email).

I’m tired of the rhetoric about bottling it up. About feeling like we can’t talk about how terrified we are of catching COVID-19. About worrying about finances and family members and friends. 

Why can’t we talk about it?

Why shouldn’t we?

It’s ok not to be ok.

Anxiety makes me itch

‘But you don’t LOOK anxious.’

I’ve been told that a lot, ever since I did CBT in 2019.

CBT made a gigantic difference to my anxiety. Before that, I was afraid to go to new places, even good ones.

When coronavirus hit, I was armed with the tools to cope. Tools many of us need more than ever, but can’t get hold of because of how overwhelmed healthcare is.

Becoming self-employed as coronavirus hit of course triggered my anxiety again. Especially given I have many anxieties around money anyway, thanks to conflicting examples set by the grownups in my life.

What really helped me continue to control my anxiety was, you guessed it—Curable.

It made me realise the root of most of my health problems was anxiety.

Feeling anxious? Here, take this brain fog. Then you can’t think properly, so you can’t worry about that thing.

Have some fatigue, too, so you can’t function.

And pain. Obviously.

And the constant need to pee, as if you’re getting cystitis.

And some itching, for shits and giggles.

Yep, I get all those symptoms when I’m anxious. And many more. 

I realised they were anxiety-based one day while working through Curable. I hadn’t had fatigue or joint pain issues for a while. 

Then, half an hour before a live workshop, FATIGUE. 

Fatigue so bad I could barely keep my eyes open.

It happened multiple times, despite my fatigue having improved. 

After a few weeks, I connected the dots. 

And I took Curable’s advice. I talked to myself. 

The first time I heard this technique, I thought it was bonkers. 

Now, I know it isn’t. 

When my pain or fatigue gets bad, I thank my body for the warning. I then remind it that it’s safe; I’ve got this. 

The first time I did this was in the spring, when my boyfriend wanted to take Millie on a long walk. I was in so much pain I could hardly move, but I wanted to spend time with them. 

I talked to myself, showered, then went on the walk. 

When I got home, I realised it had worked. The self-talk had freed me so much I’d forgotten about the pain. 

We can talk ourselves into being more anxious, more angry, more depressed. Into hating ourselves and thinking we’re worthless. 

So why can’t we do the opposite? Why can’t we talk ourselves into feeling less pain, less fatigue, less anxiety? More confident, more content?

We can talk ourselves into being more anxious, more angry, more depressed. Into hating ourselves and thinking we’re worthless. 

So why can’t we do the opposite? Why can’t we talk ourselves into feeling less pain, less fatigue, less anxiety? More confident, more content?

Our brains are powerful tools we don’t fully understand, after all. 

Why am I sharing this?

I don’t really know.

One of my great friends, Alexa, said that I showed people hope. She said I should focus on that for my yearly post, after I’d told her I had no idea what to say. 

So I guess this is my way of showing you that there is hope. 

I felt hopeless a year ago. I still have days when I feel hopeless. But I’m lifted up by my friends and readers. 

Every day is a journey; emotionally, physically, maybe both. 

We learn and we grow with every breath we take, no matter how old we are. 

When we stop growing, even if our heart keeps beating, we die. 

I lost the Nan who raised me a long time before she passed away, because she gave up. I saw it in her eyes, and Mum did, too.

Don’t let that be you. 

You’re stronger than you realise. Smarter than you think. And kinder than you know.