I’m back! For those of you who don’t follow me on social media, you won’t know that I’ve just come back from my holiday in Morocco. It was mostly lovely and the evenings were usually filled with amazing company (I went with my boyfriend), the most lovely food and loads of laughs. It was so nice spending some time with Will as our lives have been pretty hectic lately and just spending some time not having to really go anywhere was really lovely. The staff and hotel were amazing, so worth the high rating, and I thought it was just what I needed. However, the photos I posted and the vibes I gave from my holiday were not really representative of how I felt- of course I have some amazing memories to take away with me but most of the time I was in a lot of pain and feeling anything but relaxed. I have always and will always want to keep my content real and down-to-earth so this post is all about what actually went on with me, how I have been trying to deal with it and just a little life update (sorry if you were expecting a happy-go-lucky review of my holibobs).
So, what’s been going on with me? Basically a lot of sitting and resting around the house. Within the last few months I’ve ‘developed’ (develop isn’t really the right word but it’s not like I’ve caught anything so we’ll go with it) a chronic illness called fibromyalgia (FM). I hate calling it an illness because it makes me feel truly incapable and like there really is something ‘wrong’ with me, but at the end of the day, it’s what it is.
FM is a ‘long-term condition that causes pain all over the body’ and can also cause extreme tiredness, muscle stiffness, difficulty sleeping, difficulties with memory and concentration (called ‘fibre-fog’) and IBS. 129 million women suffer from it worldwide and it is often triggered by an extremely stressful life event such as a bad injury, extreme relationship issues or the death of a loved one, the last being my trigger as my mum passed away a few years ago. Research has found that FM sufferers have abnormally low levels of particular hormones (such as serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine) in their brains which regulate things such as mood, sleep, your response to stressful situations and pain processing. Because of this, there’s a problem in which the brain and nervous system process pain, which means people with FM usually have widespread pain throughout their bodies. The pain is no less real than having a serious injury, but because there’s no physical damage that can be healed, there is no easy way to stop the pain and it usually ends up being long-lasting (chronic).
For me, my fibromyalgia rears it’s ugly head in the form of burning, achey pain in my legs (particularly my knees, calves, ankles and feet), exhaustion, increased sensitivity to stressful situations, IBS (being super bloated) and occasionally severe pain in all my joints. I got diagnosed around the beginning of June this year, after dealing with severe leg pain for a few months which didn’t seem to be getting better anytime soon. Since mum passed away I had experienced weird episodes where my legs would just seize up and be really painful about once every other month, but at this point I didn’t let myself grieve which is probably why it has only manifested this year during my grief counselling.
So what does this mean for me? Well, most days at the moment, and for the past few months, I’ve been stuck inside a lot as my legs have been so painful I can’t even walk into town (which is about a 15-20 minute walk away) or go for days out unless there are places to sit. After I had received my diagnosis I originally carried on as normal- going on lengthly days out despite the pain and just ‘getting on with it’. I didn’t really rest all that much but it soon caught up with me as I started collapsing whilst walking up stairs and needing more and more sleep each night as the exhaustion hit me. Since then I’ve kind of learnt what helps and what doesn’t which is where the holiday comes in-stress and pressure is the worst thing for it and so going on holiday was a mistake made my me and I shouldn’t have made myself go.
The few weeks before I was due to go on holiday, my FM flared up SO badly as I was so stressed out about everything to do with the holiday- the travelling, the flying, the hotel, the new country, being outside of Europe, not being able to go home etc. etc. I was breaking down pretty much every other day as I was in so much pain and my mental health had got so bad, but I still pushed myself despite my dad saying ‘maybe I shouldn’t go’. Even though Will was an absolute star and we got everything sorted to a T, the stress and pain didn’t go away and so I just assumed it would once I got there.
However, we didn’t get off to a great start as even at the airport my anxiety was crazy and I ended up having a super bad panic attack right in the middle of Jamie’s. This was a total shock to me as I had never had a full-blown panic attack in public. After I had calmed down, everything was fine, I was super excited when we got to the beautiful hotel and went to bed feeling happy and relatively pain-free. As we spent more time there I realised I was becoming no less stressed and my legs were close to, if not just as painful as they were back home. I was dosing up on ibuprofen every time I could, making sure I rested most of the day and it just made what should’ve been lovely romantic walks by the beach and around the hotel, painful and wishing we could sit down (although definitely still lovely because I was with Will). Will (bless his heart) saw this and ended up asking me all the time what I wanted to do, when I wanted to go for dinner and a lot of other questions every day to try and make me happy but this ended up draining me more and combined with having nightmares every night, I ended up being exhausted every day.
I also had a breakdown about my weight on holiday. I think the combination of eating normally but not getting out had caused me to put on a bit of weight, and one evening whilst Will was showing me the photos he had taken of me I just saw a lump. I looked a lot bigger than I thought I was and had just assumed me going up a dress size (from a 8/10/sometimes 12 to a 10/12/14 in bottoms) was due to the IBS from the FM but perhaps not. Realising this on holiday was obviously not ideal and it just made me incredibly self-conscious (even more than I was) to the point where I wouldn’t even let Will see me naked. I got through it but it was super hard and I basically only walked around in my bikini when I was going to and fro from the pool. Now being home my confidence is still really low, but I’m hoping with a few gentle changes and a positive mental attitude, I can get to be happy with my body again.
So, that’s basically how I was feeling every day of my holiday- exhausted, stressed and under-confident- the exact opposite of how I wanted to feel, especially by the time I got back. Will was an absolute trooper bless him and luckily enjoyed himself more than I did which I’m super happy about, as I would’ve hated to ruin his holiday too.
Looking back I really should’ve listened to Dad and just gone easier on myself- beach holidays down in Cornwall or places of the like can be just as lovely without the stress of travelling and being somewhere you’re not familiar with! Luckily I’m going on a trip with Will and his lovely mum in September to Padstow to help Will with his dissertation- a combination of helping him, paddling in the sea, relaxing and (hopefully) cuddling Sophie (Will’s dog) sounds a little bit perfect right now.
Looking forward, I’m going to help myself in every way I can, to help get myself back to the Lizzie I was this time last year. I hope this didn’t bring any of you down, I just wanted to keep things real as always and give you all a well-needed life update. Have you got any holidays planned? I hope you all have the BEST time, relax, and soak up some gorgeous sunny rays!
All my love as always,