Thursday, 4 February 2016

My Spoonie Life

Jen, from 'My {Spoonie} Life' describes herself as a "Thirty something shelf-stacker-extraordinaire with a passion for arts, crafts, interiors and making the best of my "Spoonie" lifestyle! Crazy bird lady..." This is exactly what attracted me to her and her blog.  She has a positivity and zest for life that drew me to her like a kid to a bowl of sweets.

I only have to quote from the first post of her blog to illustrate it's worth reading:
'I hope I can help myself and others by using this blog as a creative, cathartic process and a diary of my journey back to health.'
' It can be very frustrating to WANT to create, to WANT to be proactive, and yet not have the physical or mental energy to be able to DO anything about it. I hope some readers of this can relate to the way I feel, I want to tell you YOU ARE NOT ALONE!'

It's a blog that is very relatable in the experience she shares of living with ME,  but it's also full of Hope.  Jen writes about what she has learned,  and the positive steps she has taken and is taking,  to deal with and improve her health.  I really enjoyed her progress reviews,  I found it interesting to read another's ME journey.
My favourite parts though,  are her creative posts.  She is very talented in many areas and so far each creative post has something that will benefit the reader along their own ME journey. For example,  spoonie info graphicmemory jarsbreakfast smoothiequote wall art.

Jens story is a positive one.  A big thank you to her for sharing it.

What's your ME story?
The short version(!!!): I contracted a strain of swine flu in December 2010, but instead of me "bouncing back", the symptoms of the virus stayed with me for around a year on and off. After struggling through a fortnight of jury service in December 2011, during which I hid my symptoms so well they had to halt court proceedings when I had a coughing fit [sarcasm], my GP signed me off work with a"diagnosis of exclusion" of ME/CFS (i.e they didn't know what was wrong and when I asked "do you think it could be M.E?" they basically said "...Well it must be, because nothing else shows up on the tests/bloodwork". Great!) [sarcasm again]. I was absent from work for 7 months and returned in August 2012.

The blog post linked below is the long, rambly, philosophical version!

You have varied talents,  what art and crafts do you enjoy?
I have a degree in Illustration, but I love all sorts of things, my favourites being making layered digital collages in Photoshop from original art work and found items, free hand machine embroidery and monoprinting.

Where does your inspiration come from?
All sorts of things. Most inspiration comes when I'm not looking for it, and more often than not when I'm trying to get to sleep at night (not ideal for a spoonie!)

Does being creative help you cope?
Being creative is part of who I am, and it always has been. It's not exactly that it helps me cope, more that it makes me feel "normal". I don't consciously sit down and make art because I think it will improve my symptoms, I do it because I feel like it, because it's what I've always done. I will say it's cathartic and therapeutic though, and finishing a project (no matterhow long it takes me) always gives me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Has anything helped you keep up your talents/hobbies?
Number one, PACING. I believe pacing is the key to having a constructive/productive lifestyle if you have ME/CFS. It's taken me over 2 years to get into a manageable pacing routine, with a lot of trial and error in between. Even if I only make or create for 5minutes once every other day, at least I am doing something. It's not usually practical or healthy for me to sit down for an hour and concentrate on one task, as it can exacerbate a myriad of different symptoms from brain fog to joint pain. It's physically and emotionally healthy for me to create and to make time to create within my carefully planned day, like I said before it's part of who I am.

Tell me about your blog?
I started my blog originally as a diary to document my recovery; my journey back to health and returning to work. I was determined to prove to myself and the world that it was possible to recover from ME/CFS. I updated it monthly in quite extensive detail explaining things that had and hadn't worked and what I was going to continue working on, this included everything from drinking more water to taking a course in CBT (although I did this to help my depression and anxiety rather than my ME/CFS symptoms). The blog has now had a bit of a re-vamp, and I've re-titled it "Arts, Crafts, Lifestyle and ME/CFS Recovery" as I want to shift the focus and show people how it is possible to live a "normal" lifestyle while dealing with various symptoms on a day-to-day basis, and there will be a mix of posts relating to my daily life and also what I do to manage my symptoms. I know everyone's symptoms and levels of illness are different; I have a very good friend who's symptoms are severe compared to my mild ones, yet she finds a lot of my posts very useful because she is awarethat I was in her position once, I'm hoping she and many others are inspired and motivated by my blog. I'll add my little disclaimer here and say that I DO NOT offer medical advice, and that anyone who's concerned about their symptoms should go and see a healthcare professional.

I have stopped making art to sell and I now make art just for myself. I find my hobby to be more fulfilling this way without the added pressure of self-imposed deadlines, time tables and commitments. My main focus for my online presence is now on my blog which I can update as and when I feel able and the inclination takes me!

Follow Jen through her blog,  Twitter and Pinterest.