What have I been up to?

So this weekend I did something that has rather excited and inspired me. It had been booked for a while and I was looking forward to it. I went to Bristol (about 2 hours away from where I live in the UK) to the TAGB academy which is the Tae Kwon-Do association I am part of headquarters, for part 1 of my instructors qualification. It was a 2 day course from 9-5 each day, so a very long day a long with getting there each day also. However it was a fantastic weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed the course and left after day one feeling very inspired and excited about my future within Tae Kwon-Do. The course content was very interesting and we did some practical on Sunday as well, overall I learnt a lot and had a really great time. The pain was mostly okay whilst I was on the course however once I got home on Saturday night it was bad, but was a bit better by the morning for day 2, but bad again once I got home Sunday night. Though to be honest I didn’t really mind that the pain got bad because I had such a good time on the course that the extra pain was worth it.

I am now a qualified assistant instructor and am looking forward to hopefully taking part 2 in November to become a fully qualified instructor and able to open up my own Tae Kwon-Do school/club. I have to be invited back to take part 2 though, which involved me producing what is almost like a Tae Kwon-Do dissertation/business plan and sending that completed by October, so hopefully I will get onto part 2. At part 2 there is a written exam and a practical exam which I need to pass, but that shouldn’t be a problem. I have been teaching Tae Kwon-Do for years, I have quite a lot of experience teaching, I did a lot of teaching in Dubai on my own and do a heck of a lot at my club here, often entrusted to take full lessons on my own. I actually took last nights senior session on my own as my instructor was away, and everyone commented that it was a really good session, so I was very pleased with that.

I have a lot of hopes for my future within Tae Kwon-Do, should be taking my 2nd Dan grading in October, and hopefully part 2 of instructors in November. I also am hoping to maybe set up my own Tae Kwon-Do school if I pass part 2, so that could be in the works. I feel very inspired to do so after this weekend. Tae Kwon-Do training and teaching is a huge passion of mine, which you could probably guess. So to open my own school would be amazing and I feel very excited at all the prospects of becoming a qualified instructor.

Aside from Tae Kwon-Do, I have officially told college that I will not be returning next year, I went to see my course tutor yesterday and told her. She was understanding and said it was a shame they were losing me because I have been a very good student despite everything, however she said she knew how hard it had been for me. I felt a bit sad about it all again afterwards, it is frustrating because I know I am clever however education is not right for me and my condition at the minute. Going to focus on pain management and Tae Kwon-Do training for my 2nd Dan, have also applied for a couple of part time jobs. So will see what happens with that, if nothing comes of it I will probably just do some volunteering for a while. I need to do something, doing nothing but focusing on pain management will not be beneficial, I need to have some sort of purpose in life, something to get up for and somewhere to go.

MHAM blogging challenge – Day 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

So I am a little bit behind on the MHAM blogging challenge for several reasons which I will post about what I have been up to shortly. So I am going to combine the past 5 days into one post.

Day 5 – symbol of hope
I wouldn’t really say I have a symbol of hope, however there is one object I have which gives me hope, but it is going to sound really silly. Years ago in a session with my school counsellor, quite near the beginning of when I started seeing her, at a time where I found it immensely hard to talk about my feelings about my pain. She picked up a stone out of her bowl of decorative stones surrounding a candle, and she gave it to me and told me that the stone was like a symbol of how hard it was for me to talk about everything. I still have that stone today, it is currently sat on my dressing table, and often I pick it up and it grounds me and makes me think back to how far I have come since she gave me that stone 5 years ago. It gives me hope that I can continue to improve and get to a better place, it reminds me that she believes in me and is there for me and has faith in me that I can get to a better place. I don’t know if she even remembers giving me that stone, or knows that I still have it and what it means to me, but often I find myself holding that stone and having a long hard think about where I am going and what I am feeling and my hopes for the future.

Day 6 – song that gives me hope
I wouldn’t say I really have a song that gives me hope I listen to a lot of Taylor Swift, Blink-182 and Bring Me The Horizon, which I know is a really odd combination! However I have heard one recently which is pretty good called Fight song by Rachel Platten. I think it has a really nice message that we can get through this.

Day 7 – hobbies that build hope
My main hobby is Tae Kwon-Do, I have been doing it since I was 8 and have now been a black belt nearly 8 years. It is the one thing I have refused to let my illness take away it is also the most beneficial thing for my pain. I do a lot of teaching as well in my club. When I am training or teaching the pain isn’t the first thing on my mind, I am so distracted by what I am doing or teaching that it doesn’t even matter that I am in pain. That truly is the best relief I get. The dojang (training hall) is the one place I feel truly happy. I have lots of hopes for my future within Tae Kwon-Do and I will talk about that a bit more in my next post of what I have been up to that has meant this MHAM has been a bit delayed.

Day 8 – pets for comfort and hope
I have a 3 year old yellow labrador called Bailey, she is literally the light of my life. We got her a couple of years after losing our first dog called Raven who was a black labrador and died of cancer. We were living in Dubai at the time, and when we first started looking for a new dog we were hoping to get something a bit smaller than a labrador, like a cocker spaniel. But my mum rang round the vets looking for any puppies and was told about someone who had one puppy left. Turns out it was a litter of labrador puppies, the last one that was left was the biggest girl. It must have been fate for us to find her because we weren’t looking for another labrador however once meeting her it was clearly meant to be. We picked her up on boxing day 2011. In 2013 we brought Bailey back to England, she loves it here, we live in a beautiful part of the south in the new forest and really close to the beach, so Bailey gets lots of lovely walks. Whenever I feel bad Bailey can always cheer me up with a cuddle and a kiss, she loves cuddles on the sofa. She is a bit of a mummy’s girl however when mum goes to Dubai to visit my dad and sister, she attaches herself to me and I get so much love and attention from her and we spend lots of quality time together cuddling and going on walks in the forest. Dogs are the best companions, especially when you are feeling down in the dumps, Bailey can always cheer me up.

Day 9 – lyrics from Win by Brian McKnight that speak to me
Dark is the night
I can weather the storm
Never say die
I’ve been down this road before
This is the opening lyrics to the song and the ones out of the song that speak to me the most. I guess it just reminds me that no matter how bad it has got in the past and there have been some really bad times, but I have always got through it no matter what happened. And when my depression reoccurs which has been happening a lot over the past year, a lot of periods of feeling better then crashing back down into old habits of depression. But somehow I have always managed to pick myself up from it all and hold onto the hope of feeling better despite pain, which I know is possible and I hope to get to a consistent place of feeling better and not always relapsing into depression.

The Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is organized by the American Headache and Migraine Association. 

MHAM blogging challenge – Day 4

What large thing give you hope for living with headaches and migraines? 

Pain management – and by that I don’t mean pain killers after pain killers, I am talking about natural pain management techniques. My journey with NDPH led me to try many different medications, treatments and doctors for years to try and alleviate some of my pain, unfortunately none of it made the slightest bit of impact and eventually my neurologist, a top headache specialist at the neurology hospital in London told me there was nothing more he could do for the time being, that was 2 years ago. I lost all hope when he told me that, I felt beaten helpless and completely and utterly hopeless and entered yet another stage of deep depression. I wasn’t allowed any pain killers stronger than triptans due to being on the waiting list for surgery (still on the waiting list – still not moved) so I just had to suffer because triptans were useless.
I was then turned onto natural pain management and acceptance and commitment therapy with my psychologist. This involves things like mindfulness meditation, pacing of activities, catching yourself when your thoughts turn negative, acceptance, breathing, stretching, exercise, to name a few. When I practice it all properly it gives me more relief than any form of conventional medicine ever gave me and helps me maintain a positive outlook on my life, helping me live a happy and full life despite pain.
So far since learning all this I haven’t been able to get it consistent, I dip in and out of it have periods where I feel a lot better because I am practicing all of it, and then periods where I rebel and do none of it, as sometimes it feels too much like hard work, because it is it’s not easy. However I know it is worth it to be in the good place it can get me to. My goal at the minute is to get consistent with my pain management, and I hope to get to a consistently okay/good place, I have been in the place before however depression seems to creep back in and I find myself slipping back into old depressive habits, that are not helpful and make me feel worse. Knowing that this good place can exist for me was half the battle, as before pain management I didn’t know the okay place could ever exist for me, but it does and I hope to get back there and I hope to stay there.
Pain management gives me hope – hope that everything will be okay, hope that I can live a good and full life despite my pain.

The Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is organized by the American Headache and Migraine Association.

MHAM blogging challenge – Day 3

Small headache and migraine hopes – what small thing gives you hope for living with headaches and migraines? 

My phone with all my mindfulness recordings; they help me cope and I have recordings for many different times of the day, many different lengths of meditations. Mindfulness meditation is the thing that is most beneficial to my pain and condition, probably the best relief I get (along with Tae Kwon-Do) and helps me cope with the difficult emotions that arise often for me. Mindfulness is about being in there here and now, focusing on only getting through that particular moment, not focusing on the past or the future. Letting thoughts come and go without paying them too much attention. It is now widely known that mindfulness can help with chronic pain and illness’ and I can tell you for a fact for me it does help my pain as long as I consistently practice it and it helps me maintain my mood and therefore my hope for living my life despite my pain.

MHAM blogging challenge – Day 2

A person who helped you hope:

There are a few people over the years who have helped me hope through support. The main few being my family who have stuck by me no matter what, through my darkest times have always been there to support me. With my condition there isn’t much hope that I will ever be pain free, for years there was hope that each treatment I tried may alleviate some of my pain however unfortunately I ran out of treatment options because everything I tried didn’t help. I felt like hope was hard to come by for a long time. Until two people one being my old school counsellor who helped me cope for years, who inspired me to be better, who understood how and why I felt the way I did, and my latest psychologist who showed me that with work on acceptance using meditation and natural pain management techniques that I could be okay despite pain as long as I put what they taught me into practice. Showing me I could hope for a good and full life despite pain. For a long time I was too scared to hope, it was like everything I ever hoped for got taken away by the pain, but then my eyes were opened towards acceptance and hope for a better life felt much easier.
I no longer hope to be pain free, which sounds odd I know – I wish I was pain free, but being realistic I am probably never going to be. Instead I hope to be okay despite pain to live a full life and make my pain and everything I have been through since I got sick over 5 year ago matter. Without the help of my school counsellor and psychologist showing me that hope was okay, I would forever be stuck in the place of hopelessness that sometimes has consumed me.
I hope one day I can give hope to someone in the way people who have helped give me hope throughout my journey with my condition.

MHAM blogging challenge – Day 1.


So this month is Migraine & Headache Awareness month, so I have decided to participate in the blogging challenge, so expect daily posts (hopefully!).

Today’s MHAM challenge is your favourite quote about hope, my favourite quote is as follows:

On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far, is 100% and that’s pretty good. – Unknown

I believe this quote literally speaks for itself, it reminds me that no matter how bad the pain has got ,so far I have always got through it and knowing that, being reminded of that gives me hope that I can continue to get through the bad days.