Photos taken August 2019 by Flo Chapling.
When 2020 kicked off we all had high expectations and we all wanted to kick start the new 20s decade in Gatsby style. I started the year with dancing in a Turkish bar with my girlfriends and then spent most of January celebrating. Then in February I also started seeing someone ending the year now in a happy relationship. Good things come to those who wait. Then March struck. This year for lots of us has meant sacrifice, PPE and preventative measures to keep us, our friends, families and colleagues safest both mentally and physically. We have replaced kind regards for stay safe and we have grown a mass population of jobs worths. I wanted to discuss the year as per my usual method of lessons and what we have all learnt. I also wanted to take this time to talk about something that isn’t COVID related; COVID has become like a drinking game everything being referred back to it whether it’s directly related or not.
Invalidation: Does not and is not useful
I’m going to discuss this in a different post and dedicate one to it. I will therefore not chuff the knackers out of the subject. Invalidation is when our friends, family and colleagues try to use ‘everyone is in the same boat’ or my favourite, ‘think of ? who has it worse than you’. These have become go to phrases and replies for many people trying to comfort their loved ones and friends when they’re suffering with their mental states. Sometimes when I discuss how I feel I do back track and say ‘but what about ?‘ at the time and I feel better because I’ve dimmed down worry and concern for those around me. As i said, I’ll come back to this subject in a post for us to properly discuss.
Exercise & Diet Culture is toxic
I wrote about this topic back in August and was something at the time that struck a chord and does now. With most of us setting New Years resolutions, a lot of these resolutions will cling onto diet, exercise and food. Something that I touched on was that we will not be remembered on our grave stone for the size of our arse, tits, waist and thighs so why do we spend all of our living moments thinking about our weight and comparing ourselves? I also find it incredibly painful that in the wake of our pandemic we have spent the majority of it comparing our 5Ks, diets and weight loss. I do believe those recovering from eating disorders are marginalised and put under immense strain during the New Year and festive period- they’re subjected to triggering content about calories, diets and refreshes. It’s something that needs to change and be re-set but sadly diet culture brings money in and all the while people feel low in their self appearances etc the manufacturers of shakes and pills make money. We always point out possible triggering content found in television shows but we never seem to bring our attention to the content we share on social media and in real time that could have possibly negative consequences on those around us.
ME is close to Long Covid
In the wake of COVID-19, post viral fatigue has dawned on a great deal of people with more experiencing long lasting symptoms and feeling the brunt of such a hard hitting virus. Yet, for the 250,000 people with ME/CFS these are the people who have lived with such symptoms for years without support and without the press taking compassion and understanding. Back in October of 2020, I filmed a piece for the BBC which you can revisit here all of which discussed how understanding ME in the first place in favour of it being it the subject of mockery would’ve given us the foundations to treat Long Covid. Unfortunately, those with Long Covid will be experiencing the same misunderstanding and ignorant approaches that we have experienced all of this time.
Speak your truth
Chronic Illness sufferer and blogger Char Victory shared in a video discussing her MS which went viral; for it’s candid approach to another misunderstood condition. In the video she discusses how we should all speak our truth in the possibility of helping someone in the same position in the future. Often, we’re told to keep our struggles quiet and I know some around me believe talking about my chronic illness and struggles is wrong and should be kept behind closed doors. I believe that we should all discuss how we truly feel- covering it up and trying to paint it fluffy will never work and treat what’s going on. I for a long time, try to do as much as I can almost in denial of the real suffering. Never do this. Speak up.
Kindness: All for the gram
Back in February, we lost television presenter Caroline Flack. Her final words were ‘if anything be kind’. It was a statement that went viral, being plastered across Insta stories, Facebook statuses and captions yet those posting were the ones who would bully me for wearing glasses and looking like Anne Frank. Brands such as IntheStyle plastered it on jumpers, donating the profits to the Mind charity all of which was criticised despite being labelled as a a charity effort. Those who brought the jumpers are the the same ones who write indirect tweets on Twitter knowing their victim will see it. These are also the same people who share their anxieties and worries despite sometimes being the cause of others experiencing the same anxieties and worries. Kindness should be something we just be and act upon without needing to do it for the gram or as a caption – all too well we we write these captions without actually actioning them.
Relapses in mental health and chronic illness are hard whether they happen together or differently. Seeing a therapist does not mean you’ll never experience upset or occasional irrational thoughts. One session of CBT won’t scare anxiety away for good. We experience good days and bad days but this year for example has shaken everyone so anyone experiencing those sad days will feel this it. That also applies with chronic illness. I thankfully have spent most of the years of living with symptoms mostly in remission. Experiencing only nerve pain when my B12 is due but then in May of this year, I relapsed. I had chronic numbness in my shoulders and it has just continued. I went a month with no suffering and thought I was cured and it came back with vengeance. I no longer can feel temperature properly in my hands and feet. I still have issues standing for too long and the worse being that I am unable to drive now. I was doing quite good, managing small drives and recently my ankles and feet cannot manage even the shortest of drives. Still waiting for a neurologist who understands and wants to offer treatment; I read treatment for neuropathy and it could involve blood transfusions or immune suppressants either are not ideal and something I wouldn’t voluntarily choose but for remission and some freedom from nerve damage and pain I’d take something. I know some people around me believe that I shouldn’t take medication I’m not keen on being medication long term due to implications but sometimes you just have to give in and accept that this could support some journey into remission.
2020 has been a year that most of us will not forget and will forever remember as the year we lived a GCSE history question. I think a lot of us all believed that COVID19 would end at the end of this year but now we see this is highly unlikely unfortunately. I do believe that March time some form of normality might resume which seems so far away. As a word of advice, keep your eyes away from the Daily Mail if you’re sad about the current times we’re living in as they’re like likely to pour salt over the wound.
I would like to, however say thank you to everyone who has continued to support and read my work over the course of 2020 in these darker times. I’m aiming for sharing and writing more in the New Year which I look forward to sharing. I’m looking forward to sharing my re-brand in the New Year and hopefully be writing more content and regular content too.
Happy New Year!