Anxiety · Change · Counselling · Experience · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS · Self Acceptance

Anxiety Strikes!

I’d say I’ve always been an anxious person & I used to feel real bouts of anxiety, but mainly over social situations. As time has gone on I’d say my anxieties have evolved into more small but constant worries, especially since our battle with infertility.

Over the past two weeks I’d say this constant niggle is getting worse & I know exactly why, it’s because I’ve got something big coming up, but people who see me in my day-to-day life won’t know that. They’ll probably see me fussing over something small or, if they look closely, using compulsive repetition to regain some degree of control in my life. I’m also finding that smaller problems feel like mountains because my stress threshold is very low right now.

The funny thing is, I’m 100% aware of what I’m doing & how I’m feeling, but that doesn’t mean I can stop it. However, next week I have an appointment with my counsellor & I’m hoping to get some more tips on how to manage my symptoms of anxiety.

Life is tough right now, I’ve got a lot of weight on my shoulders that I could do without, but I’m learning that small changes now will help alleviate the pressure in the future & the smaller problems I encounter will become more manageable.

I’ve always felt a natural instinct to fight my feelings of anxiety, but lately I’ve learnt that you have to let them pass. So in my eyes I need to work on solutions to the problems I’m worrying about in order to prevent the symptoms I encounter rather than just focusing on those & adding to the weight on my shoulders… because essentially I end up worrying about how much I’m worrying!

xx Gem xx

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Anxiety · Counselling · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · Love · miscarriage · PCOS · ttc

Am I ready?

So, 6 months ago we embarked upon the next stage of our journey… the IUI. I remember being so excited yet nervous, but I jumped in with both feet first & I like to think I smashed the process with massive positivity fists!

When we miscarried our baby I didn’t even want to think about trying again. I wanted that baby, my first baby… nothing else would ever compare, but they say time is a great healer & in most part it is.

I’ll never get over what happened, so when I spoke to my counsellor she said “stop trying to get over this, you just need to move forward”. Getting over something feels, to me, that I should be forgetting it whereas moving forward feels different… so here we are, mid-September & patiently waiting for my next cycle to start so we can do the whole thing all over again. But the big question is…

…am I ready?

The answer to that is a hazy one. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% ready, I still mourn the loss of our baby, but I know I must try… I owe it to our little one not to give up, I owe it to my husband & most of all I owe it to myself.

xx Gem xx

Anxiety · Change · Clomid · Counselling · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS

Blog Blog Blog

Someone brought my blog to my attention the other day… I really wanted to make a go of it, but just after I renewed my subscription a friend told me they didn’t think a blog would suit me. I stupidly took it to heart and stopped. Flash forward 6 months and finding myself faced with lots of ups and downs in life I’ve decided to dust off my keyboard and give it another bash. Who knows what will come of it… but even if no one reads it, I always find that writing things down proves to be a useful outlet for me.

Bringing you up to speed on what’s going on in my life right now… I am currently in the middle of my first round of fertility treatment. It sounds scary, but it’s only tablets. Clomifene (Clomid) to be specific. I want to do a post all about it, but for the moment I thought best not to start with such intensity.

I’ve always tried to keep my desire to have children on the back burner, it makes those negative tests slightly easier to deal with, but now we’re receiving help from the Fertility Clinic I feel I am able to let my hopes run wild… well, ish. It is extremely difficult to struggle with infertility. I sometimes feel I am such a ‘newb’ when it comes down to it as there are so many women out there going through way more than I am, but at the end of the day we all have our individual journeys. I can be such a pain in the bum when it comes to comparing myself to others, I always make myself feel inferior and that in itself doesn’t do anything for my self esteem. I started to notice a while back that I was becoming quite mentally ugly when it came to pregnancy… hear me out: can anyone relate to scrolling through facebook, seeing a pregnancy announcement and rolling your eyes? Or how about unfollowing people you like on social media because they’ve become pregnant and you can’t handle it? And here’s maybe the biggest one of all… not being able to be around your friends because seeing them happy with their babies makes it feel like someone has stabbed you in the heart with a rusty spike?

That is not the type of person I would ever aspire to be… but I already was. It crept upon me without notice and one day I took a long look in the mirror and decided enough was enough. I signed myself up for some counselling sessions and over several months I worked through my issues. Now, if you’re considering doing this and haven’t yet found the courage to, please let me give you that nudge to go for it… don’t expect immediate results, it takes time to form a bond with someone, but just giving 100% focus on myself for an hour every few weeks really did me the world of good. I have learnt to associate positivity with pregnancy. I choose to see each pregnancy announcement as another iron-clad piece of proof that I can remain to hope that this will happen for me. After several months of counselling I was ‘set free’ and if I choose to, which I have on a few occasions already, I just arrange a ‘top up’ session. Easy peasy! In fact, I have a session in the morning!

That’s probably enough rambling on for now, but if you’re keen to follow how my Clomid cycle is going, please head on over to my Instagram page.

Change · Experience · Lifestyle · PCOS · Self Acceptance

Don’t Let PCOS Define You

Hands up, who finds it easier to understand what they're going through when you've been diagnosed with something? That sweet relief of being able to put a name to your particular struggles and instantly start searching the internet to find solace in the similar experience of others. We've all been there, but what if that diagnosis turns into definition?

In June 2015 when the doctor first told me I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome I felt like my world was collapsing around me. I had no idea what it meant for me and my future. I was haunted by the word 'syndrome' and it left me feeling very lost and confused. Luckily I found a great community on Instagram and immediately became addicted to scouring PCOS hashtags and feeding on other women's experiences. Suddenly I wasn't alone! I found myself amongst a sea of women across the world and I felt at ease.

As my wealth of knowledge expanded, so did my obsession. I became convinced that I was yet to experience a multitude of symptoms that I was discovering and so I got stuck into learning about what foods to avoid, what foods would help my body, which exercises were best, when to do them, how to do them, etc, etc. Then came the guilt. If I missed a workout or ate the 'wrong' type of food I would blame every painful negative pregnancy test on my bad judgement. This guilt weighed heavily on my shoulders and it started to distort my view of my marriage and my self worth as a woman. It honestly felt to me, and don't get me wrong I still do feel this way sometimes, that I will never be able to have children.

That's a big statement to make.

Back in October I started having some counselling sessions. I am very proud of myself for being able to see that I needed an outlet such as this in my life and I really can't speak highly enough of the experience. It's opened my eyes up to myself and my surroundings. Currently on my Instagram feed I have lost count of how many women with PCOS or other fertility related issues have fallen pregnant. Yes sometimes it's hard to see pregnancy announcements, but these are all women who at some point would have felt exactly how I feel and to see that they have beaten the odds gives me great hope that someday I will too!

The New Year also brings hoards of newly diagnosed women to seek solace in social media and I welcome them with open arms. I remember feeling how they felt and I can see a similarity in their posts to mine back when I was first diagnosed. We are each on our own journey and need to go through this experience to gain a better understanding of the cards we've been dealt. That's perfectly ok, but don't let this become you. There is no right or wrong, we are all individuals and likely to experience something very different to the woman next in line. PCOS can be a struggle, but PCOS is not me… I am me.

xx Gem xx

Change · Experience · Lifestyle · Love · PCOS · Self Acceptance

New Year, New You

It’s that time of year that gives one licence to start afresh. Even though the clocks have only ticked forward a mere second, the notion of this time passing brings much inspiration to many people to change their mentality towards themselves. Three weeks on I am still thoroughly enjoying riding the wave of everyone’s newfound enthusiasm for healthy eating and exercise regimes. However, for the first time I haven’t felt the need to set resolutions for myself because I feel I am already where I want to be. No, I am not at my goal weight and no we are still not pregnant, but I am content with the way I look at myself and that really was what I was striving for all along… I just didn’t know it at the time!

Self acceptance is not easy to come by. You have to go on an incredible journey to find it and just when you think you have, it disappears right from your finger tips. Most of the time I look at myself and I see a happy woman, someone who is so appreciative for what she has in life and dreams of what the future holds for her. Then, for what has dominated most of my life but is currently hiding away in the box I keep buried at the back of my mind, is the bitch that society over the past three decades has moulded me into. I’ve spent the last year taming this part of me and learning how to be kind to myself. The thing is, I think there will always be something inside that has the desire to rip myself apart, so there is no New Year resolution but to simply continue along my journey.

Whatever you decide to do this year, don’t forget to look upon yourself with kind eyes. We are only human and we are incredible beings. I am a firm believer in lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down, but sometimes I forget to apply this belief when I look upon myself.

xx Gem xx

Change · Diet · Lifestyle · Motivation · PCOS

Choosing A Diet That’s Right For You

First off I want to explain what I mean by the word ‘diet’. I used to hear the word ‘diet’ and wince. For me it meant cutting out foods I enjoyed, writing down everything I ate and worst of all, being hungry! That, to me, is a ‘fad diet’. Something that is short term, sometimes effective, but can be strayed from… and let’s face it, down right boring! Nowadays the word ‘diet’ to me comprises of all the food I eat and I try my best to maintain a well balanced one.

So, when I talk about choosing a diet that’s right for you I am talking in terms of the correct foods to eat according to your health needs… not just cutting back to lose weight. For example, I am deficient in Iron so I had to adjust my diet to include lots of leafy greens and other sources of Iron (Guinness included!). I would suggest going to your doctor and requesting a blood test to see if you are deficient in any areas. This would be a good start to help mould your diet to provide the maximum benefit. Also, have a good think about any foods that you eat and if they have a negative effect on your body. For example, sometimes (and I say sometimes because it’s not every time) when I eat a large portion of cheese I find the following day I can quite often become rather acquainted with my toilet. Just beautiful isn’t it?! I have become quite wary of dairy in general and try my best to avoid consuming large full fat amounts of it (cream is just the worst!). There are alternatives, so find one that you like and trial it for a couple of weeks. Before I got married my doctor diagnosed me with stress induced Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and anything I came to eat would have me crippled in pain, especially at night, so I had to make a lot of changes to suit that phase, but now that has passed and I can eat a lot of those foods again without any problems.

Next, have a look at foods you currently eat where you can make healthier choices. For example, if you love pasta then make the switch from white to wholegrain. White pasta is processed and a lot of the nutrients get lost because of this. What’s the point in eating food if you’re not going to get the full benefit from it? Make the switch, and I’ll tell you, wholegrain pasta is MUCH tastier than white. That goes for rice too. Brown rice has a much nuttier flavour, and again, doesn’t suffer the consequences of processing like white rice. Basically, any grains you eat look out for the wholegrain version and already you have made one easy step to making your diet better for your health.

Be very wary of low fat options as they’re not always the healthier choice to make. A lot of them I find contain more salt to provide a better flavour and a lot more unnatural substances too. Always read your labels and compare to get the best choice. This also goes for drinks… coke being a big contender in the diet option category. Although diet coke contains less calories, the artificial sweetener that is added has many downsides and in some people it can trigger insulin and send your body into fat storage mode (which is already a BIG problem for us girls with PCOS, so don’t make it worse for yourself). Personally I don’t tend to drink fizzy drinks (apart from the odd local cider! Yes, I’m a West Country girl!) as it makes me bloated and I feel dehydrated quickly. The best form of liquid you can drink is water… water water and more water! What I have done also is widen my variety of hot drinks that I drink. I used to be a coffee and tea kind of girl, but to keep balance in my diet I introduced different types of tea and try my best to only drink one cup of each kind of hot drink a day.

Now, fruits and veggies. It’s really not that hard to make sure you eat your 5 a day… there are so many options, many of which are very versatile, so you shouldn’t get bored easily. HOT TIP: When making anything with onions, thinly slice some celery and add them in. They really pack out a good meal and have great nutritional benefits. I’m currently looking into getting on the smoothie bandwagon. In order to keep my Iron levels up (with an Iron packed smoothie) and to ensure I eat little but often (due to Insulin Resistance) I think that smoothies would be a great thing to introduce into my diet.

I wouldn’t recommend going ‘cold turkey’ with anything, unless your health needs require it, as in my experience this will only cause you to crave it. Look at this as a lifestyle change and your aim is to have a balanced diet. I believe it’s good for the mind to treat yourself every now and then, but if I deny myself something completely then I’m more likely to get to the point where I crack and binge on it. Using pizza as example… not the healthiest form of food, but instead of ordering in a big expensive pizza I now use my bread maker to whip up a wholewheat dough, then I can control what I put on top of it (especially the amount of cheese) and enjoy a freshly cooked slice of heaven rather than a semi-warm scrap of crap that has arrived on the back of a moped!

Ah ha! I know what you’re going to say… “but I don’t have time to make a pizza”. Now, I’m not very good at being critical, but YES you do. MAKE time for it. I plan… I plan my meals and I plan my day. It’s really not that hard to do. If I need to make a soup for dinner but I’m on a long shift for work, I’ll wake up 10 mins early to prepare the veggies in the morning. That way, when I get home I can just turn the hob on, blitz and serve. If I want to make a pizza then I’ll pop all the ingredients in the bread maker and set the timer so it’s done when I get home from work. A good investment is a slow cooker if you haven’t got one already… I love mine and Hubs makes some delicious healthy meals for us.

So, recapping then, the main points for choosing a diet that’s right for you (in my opinion) is to:

  • Check if there are any areas you are deficient in and need a boost
  • Test to see if there are any foods that react negatively to your body and remove
  • Make healthier choices with the foods you currently eat, but be wary of low fat options
  • Don’t go cold turkey, introduce changes slowly and treat yourself in moderation
  • Plan ahead

Try to remain focused on your diet and don’t worry if you have a bad day… just pick yourself up and get back on it. DON’T wait until Monday, or the beginning of a new month, otherwise you’re falling into the trap of a fad diet and this is not what we need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can do this! You are in control of what goes into your body… take time to build a healthy relationship with food and you’ll soon reap the benefits! It isn’t easy making a change, it took me a little while to adjust, but now I do it without thinking and it’s become natural part of my life to eat healthily.

Best of luck with the changes you’re making, and if you need to, call on friends and family for support.

Stay healthy, happy and focused…

xx Gem xx