Thursday, 4 February 2016

Origami and M.E

Origami and M.E. Written by Georgina Isherwood

Following a nasty virus about six or seven years ago I have been battling with the symptoms of ME. My story is not that uncommon, in that every time I visited a GP to try and address my fatigue a plausible and convenient reason was always found. Trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, going back to work post maternity leave etc. etc. There was always a reason for my symptoms. I knew that something ‘more’ was going on, but unfortunately if a Dr doesn’t then, well, you’re pretty stuck!
It took a mental health crisis in the Spring of 2013 to get any kind of recognition. I was suffering from severe depression, and basically broke down. I couldn’t function at all. Having been working 12 hour shifts in a responsible job, around my husband’s 12 hour shifts, and trying to raise a 4 year old and 3 year old something had to give. And that something was pretty much everything for a time!
Of course back to the GPs I went. This time I was lucky. I happened to see a locum, but she was brilliant. At the time ME or CFS wasn’t mentioned - I was treated for severe depression and anxiety. I was able to access CBT locally and started to take antidepressants, albeit at a relatively low dose. I found the CBT to actually be quite useful, much more so than I had thought it would be, and have come away from the group having made a great new friend. But my problem was that although my mood and outlook was significantly improved, absolutely nothing had changed about my physical symptoms of chronic pain and tiredness. At a follow up session with one of the therapists the term CFS was finally put out there. But I was told that I had to go back to my GP to get a referral to the local clinic. By this time the locum had moved on, and so I saw my regular GP. Although she begrudgingly did the referral it was very clear that she basically didn’t really think ME/CFS, call it what you will, existed. She felt that it was wrong to “…put labels…” on sets of symptoms such as I was experiencing and just instead focus on treating each symptom. Of course that’s easier said than done, when actually to access services you need a label – if only to choose which form to fill in to refer!
Anyhow I got my referral, and I received my appointment for my initial assessment with the local CFS service. The problem was that the appointment was two days after moving over 100 miles away! So I’m here in my new home, starting the process again….

In the early days of dealing with my depression last year I found it almost impossible to concentrate on anything (I still struggle with concentration and go through these swings of zero concentration to manic ‘I’m on it’ focus). Reading was pretty impossible, I could hardly manage a paragraph at times. For some reason I felt the need to make things, be creative, and use my hands. As a youngster I had loved doing origami. So from my bed, with my laptop (where funnily enough I write this) I started to google. Magically through the power of eBay supplies arrived. Making these little paper creations suited me. On days when I couldn’t handle much focus I could make something small and simple, but on days when I was more in the zone I could tackle a more complicated project.
This has since blossomed into a little business making origami name garlands, greetings cards, holiday decorations etc. and I am now on the sewing machine expanding my making portfolio. I’m in the process of getting a ‘proper’ website up and running to support the Facebook and Twitter sites. It’s wonderful getting feedback from happy customers, and as much as they get a lovely item to adorn their homes, I get a little bit of therapy with every order.