Self help

Guys, so sorry I’ve been quiet. My life’s been a whirlwind of activity recently and has kind of changed beyond recognition. In a really good way!

I’ve taken Voluntary Redundancy from my job at JLR which I have loved for over 10 years, but I’ll be doing something I also love and am super passionate about, and that’s teaching languages (and some translation work too. Message me for details @taniastuitionandtranslation 😉). So I’m in the process of setting up shop and can’t wait to get going.

My health is ok but there hasn’t been much progress. In fact I’ve started having migraines and blind spots and those silly palpitations again, that started the whole thing off in the first place, and the dreaded fatigue has taken it to the next level last night when I literally had to leave the restaurant to lie down. It is overwhelming and kind of scary. I think it’s stress as there’s so much going on right now, and I have to listen to my body and rest when it tells me to. I do feel like I’m in good hands though with the nhs and due to start some CBT soon, which I’m sure will be fun too. So all in all, I’m good 💪🏼

I have thought about this blog for a while now and where I want to go with it. And here’s the dilemma – I’m enjoying this but I don’t feel like I’ve got enough to say about my stroke journey anymore. Apart from some niggles, I’ve recovered really well and am so grateful that I’m still here to enjoy my life and my kids (who have been nothing short of amazing recently, in all sorts of wonderful ways). I worry if I carry on with the blog under its current title/ theme, I might struggle to find things to chat about, just to stick with the topic? Also, I feel a bit guilty in comparison to other strokies as I’ve come off relatively lightly.

So, what to do?! 🤯😌😕

What I thought I’d do today is I share some wisdom and things I’ve learned over the last few months anyway. This was the whole initial point of this blog, to share and to learn and to find likeminded people out there. I hope you find some of them useful!

So. Self help. What is it and why is is important? If you’re lucky enough to have a tight support network of family and friends around you, or having to cope with an illness or handicap on your own, what is always advisable is to find ways to help yourself.

After my stroke I was told that I am not “ill enough”, and I am not “old enough” to get access to nhs or charity services. Ermmm, right. Bit of a shock that one.

So, if my stroke had been worse, I probably would have been offered a place in a stroke rehabilitation clinic, but with it being “only” a minor stroke I had a total of 1 (!) session with an Occupational Therapist, 1 session with a physio and 1 with a psychologist. I gladly took advantage of these sessions and they were quite helpful and obviously I’d rather be too well, whatever that means, but that’s where it stopped.

There’s one charity, Different Strokes, who help people of working age and with (young) children, and their Facebook support group had been terrific. But in terms of medical, practical, local help – nada.

So I realised very quickly, that I will have to help myself. And that’s actually been a really good thing for me. It tests your resilience and your perseverance and where your limits are, and it also shows you what you’re made of – and that’s kind of surprised me.

I have always considered myself a bit of a weakling, but actually now I am feeling proud of myself for still standing. We are all probably stronger than we think.

I am lucky in that I did have help around me while I was (am) brainfogged out, but what I would encourage everyone in a similar position do, is look how you can best help yourself. And be selfish, because if you are not fit and happy and healthy, you are really no good to the people around you.

So here are my tips based on the last 6 months of post stroke life (and although I’m ok now, the first 10-15 weeks after were the shittiest of my life):

Tanias Top Ten Tips

1) Meditation/ Yoga

I was always dubious about mediation, thinking I’d be no good at it. To be fair, I am no good at it, as my mind wanders after ca 8 seconds. But even if I can switch off for 8 seconds, breathe and relax a teeny bit, I’ve won.

Same with yoga. My moves aren’t fluid and my breathing never in line with the moves (plus I worry I might break wind) but I thoroughly enjoy doing it. I try 5 minutes a day, which I don’t achieve on more than 2 or 3 days, but it is something.

2) Get a cat

Or some other form of furry creature. It might be in my head but since we’ve got Molly, I feel like I am sleeping better and am a bit more Zen. Her purr is phenomenal and research tells me it helps lower blood pressure and regulate heart beat.

3) Cleaning

I’ve always really enjoyed cleaning, but with the kids always making a mess, it’s become stressful as nothing stays clean or tidy for longer than 2 minutes. So I kept wondering why bother. But cleaning gives me such a sense of satisfaction that I’ve rediscovered the joy of a good floor scrub or a thorough hoover. Oh, and the smell of Zoflora thanks to Mrs Hinch. Just like many of the other dedicated Hinchers who seem to use cleaning as a means to combat anxiety, it has helped me take my mind off the stroke and feel useful again.

4) What’s App voice messages

What a great invention. They are literally a mini therapy session. For free.

I talk for at least 10 mins each session, uninterrupted. It’s fantastic. It gives me a real sense of being able to offload, get it all of my chest and reflect on stuff.

I just feel sorry for the person having to listen to my ramblings, especially @mama.mit.handicap and my lovely friend/ soulmate K (what troupers!) 😜

5) This blog

I might have unintentionally ruffled a few feathers, but for me it’s been a revelation. Writing stuff down and taking them out of your head is a little miracle cure. If you don’t feel comfortable posting your inner struggles to the world, good old paper and pen will do too.

6) Podcasts

Out of necessity as I now have annoying vision problems, I have turned to podcasts. I find them funny, educational , sad, informative, scary… the whole range of human emotions rolled into different usually one hour podcasts, which also pretty much always send me to sleep. My faves are Casefile, Parenthood, The Mindful Kind, Ted Talks, Duolingo, Witness History, Happy Place, Scummy Mummies, Feel Better Life More ans the glorious Outlook and Desert Island Discs.

7) Amazon prime

I’ve said it before: I hate going to the shops. What a horrible, anxiety-inducing environment. Thank fudge for Amazon. Andy laughs at the amount of parcels that arrive at our doorstep on a daily basis. Our garage is full to the brim with Amazon packaging (btw, sort it out Amazon, way too much of it). And it means I hardly ever have to go to the dreaded supermarché again. I wish I could buy everything on Amazon. So, if you’re like me and going to the shops fills you with dread, online shopping is the way forward. Also tried Ocado recently. A jolly man called Stefan delivered the food to my kitchen table, but the salmon was tiny. Still good.

8) Sleep/ naps

Not always achieved easily and only possible because I have a working from home husband, but grabbing a nap or even just a quick rest on the bed to fanny around in Instagram works wonders. The body really needs these rest phases to recover, so I try and squeeze them in whenever I can.

9) Go outside

I quite like being in our garden and although I am not great with growing anything, I enjoy being out there.

If it’s not the garden, I try and grab half an hour every day to get some fresh air (absolutely not the case when it’s raining).

I always feel better when I’ve been outside.

10) Food

After the stroke I was put on statins. These horrid little things might help with lowering your blood fats (or are they?? The jury is out), but they are also responsible for the most horrendous muscle pain, burning sensation and brain fog. Never again. So, I’ve informed the doctors that I’m not taking them anymore and surprisingly, most of them were ok with that. Instead, I’m told I need to be on a Mediterranean diet which I’m loving. For the last 6 months I haven’t eaten any meat (sorry I lie, I had that steak the other day, didn’t I)/ lots of olive oil/ fruit and veg, and soya milk instead of full fat milk.

I don’t miss the meat one bit, and I have lost over 2 stone. Good times.

So, this is my little self help plan, and I’m hoping it might help others in a similar situation.

I’d love to hear what others are doing for self help.

Lots of love x

And my view towards our garden. A dream

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