Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Is it Okay to Fail?

Mick will be so proud of the Simpsons reference :) Via

Failure - something that was never in my vocabulary.

Throughout school we are told that failure is bad. Failing means that you aren't trying hard enough. Failing means that you will be kept back. Failing means that you will be seperated from your peers. Failing means that you will be sent to the principals office to have a talking to. Failing means not fitting in.


Big fat F's.

After school we're unleashed into the big wide world, with the idea of failure being the worst possible thing in the back of our minds. Come to think of it, no wonder the big wide world can be such a daunting place.

There's so much pressure placed on us to decide what we want to do for our future at the ripe age of 17 or 18 when we either apply for university, TAFE, apprenticeships, jobs, or the dole. 

What do you want to do when you grow up? It's still something that I ask myself at 24. 


The older you get, the more costly your "failures are". 

If you are at university, then failing a course could cost you up to $3,000.

If you are in a workplace, then failing to meet safety precautions could cost a life.

If you are sexually active and you fail to use protection on a one night stand, then you could end up with a baby.

The list goes and this idea of failure continues to rare it's ugly head and remain in the backs of our minds.

A presentation by a well renowned CEO of a huge world wide company opened up my eyes to the idea of failure the other day.

He said that we should "posess the courage to fail in order to succeed" (Alex Malley CEO CPA Australia).

His words stood out to me. Possess the courage to fail in order to succeed.

I started asking myself questions.

Are we so scared of failure that we no longer take risks?

Surely those people who discovered electricity, wrote books, walked on the moon and became famous movie stars took risks? 


Is one of the reasons that they are so successful because they weren't scared of failure? 

What happens if we play on words and say that not taking risks is failing yourself? 

Not ever stepping outside of your comfort zone means that you are never achieving all that you could be?

Taking risks and having children, or applying for university, or going for that dream job of yours or even asking what it is that you truly want can be scary; terrifying infact. But I truly believe that we can't let the fear of failure stop us from doing what we really want - what our guts is telling us to do.

How about we start here with the statement "failing is an option and that's okay but taking a risk, grabbing life by the balls and doing what I really want is a far greater reward then never taking a risk at all. For those who take risks, achieve great things. Those who gain their dream job, have a family, write blogs, sing songs and do those amazing things, once upon a time took a giant risk that had the potential to fail. Did it stop them? No.

Sometimes we have to "fail" at something to put things in to perspective so that we know what we really want.

Sometimes failing is OKAY because it means that you are TRYING.

Sometimes failing is the ONLY way forward.
I sure don't want to live in a world where we're too scared of failure to make new discoveries.


Where's the fun in that?

If at first you don't succeed....suck it up and try again.

What do you think about failure? Has the thought of failure ever stopped you from taking on a challenge? What risk have you taken that have paid off?

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxxx

Failure isn't as scary if we can have a giggle about it and learn from our mistakes! Via

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Wacky Watt Wedding

The Wacky Watt Wedding is my inspiration....yes...I have secretly (or not so secretly) been trying to convince Mick that we NEED a jumping castle at our wedding! Could you imagine how much fun that would be? Also trying to sell the idea of popcorn cones and toffee apples (he LOVES them both) and all things FUN, CRAZY and US after the ceremony. Today I welcome Susie to my blog to reveal her super special day that reflected her and her partner in everyway!

Take it away Susie.

Marriage is a funny creature. For some, it is the defining moment in their lives, the pinnacle of a relationship or high point of socialite fashion success.  For others, it’s a complete disaster which probably should have been avoided in the first place. For me, it was a complete surprise.

The Oxford Dictionary defines marriage as “the formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife”. Fairly standard, as far as I can tell.  It is this ever so un-inspirational definition which led me to believe that I, the living embodiment of the ‘modern woman’, would never ever get married. Seriously? What was the point?  As far as I could tell, the act of getting married was a formulaic, repetitive and meaningless action that people spent a bucket of money to go through for little or no reward.

Every wedding I had ever been to was the same. Bride in white dress, Groom in uncomfortable suit, go to ‘Location A’. Bride and Groom say a few words out of a book neither Bride nor Groom were really interested in reading, get photos taken while guests shuffle around in useless fashion. Go to ‘Location B’ and jump through the hoops ‘Location B’ had set on the evening – guests sit, welcome Bride, Groom and wedding party. Eat food. Speeches. Cut cake. Eat more food. First dance. Get drunk on free booze. Get out. The only good bit was when the Best Man got so drunk, he mistook the Bride’s mother for one of the bridesmaids and made an inappropriate pass at her during his slurred and profanity studded speech. That was worth hanging around for.

Aside from that…. Meh.

This attitude changed when I attended the wedding of a dear friend of mine who had relocated to the US and met the man of her dreams. Louisa and Ryan were already married when their wedding occurred on 2 August, 2002. This odd fact was owing to the fact that 12 months earlier, Louisa was all kinds of knocked-up and refused to give birth to a bastard, so they got hitched in a Registry office somewhere in the US.  But they wanted a wedding. And it had to be in Australia this time.

My first inkling that their wedding was going to be different from the norm (the couple already being married notwithstanding) was that Louisa asked me to belly dance at her reception.

Tick box one.

Then there was the location. Location A and Location B were the same place. A tiny community hall buried deep in the Adelaide hills with views to die for, no boring rules and ample room for useless guest shuffling.

Tick box two.

Finally, Louisa and Ryan made their wedding ceremony apply to them. They filled it with their beliefs, rituals which reflected them as a couple and had a family friend perform the ‘serious’ bit. I sat there and watched my awesome friend and her new (well, not entirely new) husband stand in front of their family and friends and declare their love for one another. They really didn’t care what anyone thought or said about that, but hoped that these special people would support them in their decision.

DING! DING! DING! We have a winner!

Fast forward about a hundred years later and I find myself with the man of my dreams on bended knee, presenting a giant shiny rock to me, asking me to be his wife.  Of course, I said yes and proceeded to blubber like a little girl. So much for the modern woman!

Steve and I grew up in two seemingly separate worlds. Steve’s childhood world was that of the son of a Uniting Church minister. Mine was that of a scallywag Darwin kid in the 70s. Chalk and cheese! We had both suffered in one way or another at the hands of organised religion, bad relationships and family and health hardships. As a result, knew that we wanted something really different from our wedding. We just had to figure out what that was.

We decided to analyse what marriage actually meant. To define what purpose it would have and the significance it would pose to us, both a couple and as individuals. I trotted out the story of Louisa and Ryan’s mind-blowing wedding. Steve recalled events in his youth which had had an equally profound effect on him. We asked friends and family at our engagement party what they felt marriage meant and how (for those who were married) it had changed them. We looked at how different religions interpret marriage and found rituals which had significance to us and our beliefs or reflected how we had grown through our experiences. From there we began to build our wedding.

We started with the venue. We chose to get married at the Woodhouse in Piccadilly. The Woodhouse has multiple areas you can get married at, but the most popular is the ‘Big House’; a beautiful 1800s mansion surrounded by lovely gardens, enough beds for 60 people and a commercial kitchen. It was perfect for us because it meant that our guests could stay overnight if they wanted to and for interstate guests, they had a place to stay for next to nothing. You can also book it for three days and nights, which meant we could set and break all the rules. This brought us to the conclusion; why have a wedding day, when you can have a wedding weekend?

Given that our location was fairly remote, we had a bunch of folks coming from all over the country and that we had a couple of days to party, we decided to really go nuts. If you’re going to celebrate something, you have to get a jumping castle, right? Damn straight! Mostly because we didn’t want our guests doing the useless shuffle thing in between the ceremony and reception, we planned entertainment for them (and us) at our venue. And it would be in the form of a carnival.  It meant a hell of a lot of planning and logistics, but it would be worth it!

Our wedding weekend was brilliant, if I do say so myself. The day before the wedding, we had all of our interstate guests (and a few local ones) over to the Big House for a BBQ and to help us with the last of the set up for the big day. People laughed, got to know one another and swapped the inevitable “I remember when…” stories.

On the day of our wedding, Steve and I walked partway down the aisle with both of our parents and then the rest of the way with just the two of us. Figuring that we were going into this as consenting adults and there was no ownership or ‘giving away’ of anyone. 

We had chosen a large tree under which to get married, as there was no pre-conceived denomination or religious iconography which could interfere with our message. We gathered our closest friends and family to join us under that tree and explained why we were there by telling a children’s story we had written, read by a friend’s 8 year old daughter.

We asked our brothers to explain us as people. We asked our mothers to talk about what their 40+ year marriages had meant to them. We had a sing along, where everyone joined in.

We asked people to write words of wisdom, advice and love onto strips of ribbon to tie to long drapes of fabric we’d suspended in the branches of the tree while some friends of ours played one of our favourite songs.

We stood in front of our family and friends and told them of our intent to spend the rest of our lives together, regardless of what they thought about that decision, but we hoped that they would support us. We had Steve’s dad do the ‘serious’ bit. 

We got hitched.

Then we had a carnival. It seemed quite natural to have an outdoor celebration to conclude our ceremony. It was the perfect ending for those people who had come to the ceremony, but couldn’t stay for the reception. It was fun for kids and adults alike, sparing the unnecessary boredom and time-watching angst. It gave us a chance to hang out with and talk to our guests and not get whisked away to do boring stuff. It gave us the opportunity to really enjoy our wedding day.

We’d hired a jumping castle and asked the Amazing Drumming Monkeys perform. Given that our venue was also close to the largest stash of scouting equipment in the world, we borrowed hand carts, giant games, benches and novelty toys to supplement the carnival.  We also asked a friend of mine to paint a peep board (a large board with a funny picture that you stick your face into and get your photo taken) depicting the two of us in our wedding finery for guests to use. 

All in all it worked really well. People who couldn’t stay for the reception felt like they were included in the whole day. People who were staying for the reception were spared the useless shuffling while we had our wedding photos taken and we got to really enjoy our day, our way.

The result of this day is that Steve and I have grown into a much better couple. We’re happy. We have enough space for ourselves as individuals, but are united in our wedded front. We’re secure in the knowledge that the other person has our back, regardless of how wacky things get or what weird events come our way. For me, these rewards (unseen to the outside world) which have come through marriage have been a complete surprise to me.  I must conclude therefore, that marriage is pretty good and I rather like it.

As I now sit, gestating my way towards motherhood for the first time, I can honestly say that it was the best, bar none, wedding I have ever been to. It was a celebration of two people, tailor made to them and their guests. No rules, no formula, no inappropriate drunken speech given by the best man. And a jumping castle.

Boxes ticked.

Susie xxxx

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Life of an American Soldiers Wife

Hellooo from America!
{I love getting to say that, by the way}
I'm Janna, and I blog over at Perception Is Everything!
Kirsty was so sweet to ask me over, and particularly, she asked me to talk about being the wife of an American soldier. I was very excited to oblige for so many reasons, and am grateful to be here!

For those of you that are reading from Australia, I'm sure you haven't heard many of the stereotypes of  military wives in America (money grubbin', lazy, overweight, miserable, etc.), but the Americans that come over to read, you are probably nodding your head yes. I do not fit into any of those categories, and those that read my blog know this, so I will skip these negative stereotypes and speak for myself and for the wonderful Military Spouses that I know.


I know that every country has soldiers that leave their spouses and home for love of country and duty, so then I wondered what would set my situation apart. 

+ A war happy country.
+ Many looooong deployments.
+ Wanting to support our country and the people in it, while being perplexed at our government and it's decisions.

But to be honest, I think that no matter what country you are from, ALL Military Spouses can relate. So I guess, what I should really be sharing is what it's like to be the wife of a soldier.

+ Sometimes you have to live in the middle of nowhere.
+ You are typically far away from family and friends.
+ Moving every few years sucks.
+ Much time apart for long days at work, training, and deployments.


+ We are also filled with great pride.
+ There are some great opportunities: school, family support, community, travel, etc.
+ I would endure a million deployments over not having this amazing man in my life.

This is the main reason why my blog is titled Perception Is Everything. It was a way to share our life with our friends and family back home, and a great way to keep things in perspective. There are a lot of negatives to the Military lifestyle, but I choose to focus on the positive. Life is what you make it, and we are making ours pretty awesome. I won't settle for less, and neither should you.


As a matter of fact, I posted a facebook status the other day, saying,
"If I can be ridiculously positive through this deployment, you should be able to not complain for a day. No judgement. Just giving you a little perspective".
The point is we all live different lives, but we each have our own struggles and no one is exempt.
The sooner that we all realize this, the better. Instead of being all "woe is me", we need to learn to roll with the punches. I embrace my life as "A Wife Of An American Soldier", and I hope that you embrace your life as well. No one can do that for you, so get on it!

Thanks for having me Kirsty! I had fun writing this post for you all and loved visiting Australia, even if it was just virtually. One day I will make it there for real :D

Thursday, 20 September 2012

My Final Blog Post...

Before I fly away to Fiji for 2 whole weeks and indulge in copious amounts of cocktails while watching my little sister walk down the aisle! Yes, my LITTLE sister is getting married and I am about to BURST with pride!

Here's a little sneak peak of the fun we've had on her journey to becoming a wife!

Do you think we look alike?

This was her Hens Weekend: Teegs, Em, Me, Chloe and Mum in our goergeous toilet paper wedding gowns!
The carefully crafted Hens Weekend cake.

Check out her kit and kaboodle that we chose for her to wear out on the town!

Giggle! A sign of our maturity!

I think we're like chalk and cheese!

I get to go to Fiji with these gorgeous girls who are all her bridesmaids!

One of the dresses we were giggling about!

Insert Teegs and Fozs face over the top of this lovely couple! Via

While we're celebrating like this (insert mine and Mick's heads over these sexy bodies!) Via

I could write a whole post on just how proud I am of my little sister, but instead, I'm going to leave you imaging just how gorgeous next Wednesday, the 26th of September is going to be for all involved. My little sister is going to start the day as Tegan Arnold and will finish as Tegan Stephens :) Love that kid.

See ya in 2 weeks.

Look after yourself and those around you,



Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Mental Illnesses: I Used to Think...Now I Know...This is Why I Blog.

Meet Janna (isn't she gorgeous!?)

Today I'm appearing on an American bloggers site called Perception is Everything. Janna does SUCH a fabulous job of sharing what it's like to be a military man's wife, and like me, she is also passionate about how we view the world.

So today Janna has asked me to think about the following statements:

I used to think...

Now I know...

People see me as...

But I hope that they know...

I blog because...

Check out my answers here:

Define Your Own Perception, Part VIII 


 Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxxx

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

My Love/Hate Relationship.

Sometimes I think this would be a quicker option!Via

I have a love hate relationship with public transport.

I love it because:

  1. I can dream of never ending chocolate fountains while off in la la land while getting from a to b.
  2. I don't have to worry about pretending to be a hawk lurking around car parks for an easy kill.
  3. It saves me bucket loads of money on petrol and parking so that I can sip more cocktails in Fiji.
  4. It provides me with entertainment with the antics of crazy people who throw ice coffees at the bus driver, randomly bust out a guitar and start strumming or ears dropping on juicy conversations that would give 50 Shades of Grey a run for it's money.
  5. I can do my little bit to save the environment!
  6. Sometimes the ticket machine doesn't work so I score a FREE ride! A whoop!

I think the biggest thing that peeves me off about public transport is that people seem to leave their manners at the door, or in the queue that they are standing in. These things grind my gears:
  1. When able people do not give up their seat for the elderly, those pregnant and those disabled. Grrrrr. 
  2. When you are standing in a queue at 515pm desperate to get home to rip off your bras and pull on some trackies and people move out of the queue when their bus is coming, the bus ends up being full, and then they stand there queue jumping for the next bus...get to the back of the line you impatient so and sos.
  3. Bus drivers who whack up a full sign but fail to tell you which bus number it is. How are you meant to know if it was your bus and whether you should swear, curse and come up with plan b?
  4. When you are running your little heart out for a bus that's beaten you to the stop knowing full well that the bus driver can see you and they take off. You can almost picture the power tripping smirk on their faces.
  5. When there are a million buses that go to set destinations like shopping malls, and only a small number of buses that divert off to your stop but every Tom, Dick and Harry takes YOUR bus, leaving no space for you. GRRRR!
  6. When the bus fails to rock up altogether and you've turned blue out in the cold.

What funny horror stories do have to tell from riding public transport? What peeves you off? Why don't you take public transport?

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxx

Monday, 17 September 2012

Teachers: Overpaid or Under Appreciated?


Teachers have it so easy - right? While all of the rest of us slave our guts out for 46 weeks of the year, teachers babysit while enjoying roughly 10 weeks of holidays. Geez - wished I had their job.

Or would I?

Would I really want to be handed a piece of paper with a list of 30 children's names at the start of the year and told to teach them the National Curriculum with no real further instructions than that?

Would I really want to scan my eyes down the list of names knowing that 5 of those students spoke English as a second language, 10 had severe learning difficulties, 3 had Autism and are very bright but lack social skills, 2 are in a Year 3 class but one can do Year 7 maths and the other can do Year 7 science and the remaining 10 children are average kids who plod along with a little help now and then?

How on earth am I meant to extend the gifted children in the classroom where I am also trying to teach students simple English, reading, writing and comprehension skills, while including autistic kids who are only fascinated by one particular topic and who require one on one support while not disadvantaging the average kids because I'm spending time with those with learning difficulties and there's only one of me?

On top of that, half of the children in my class are from divorced families and spend alternate weeks with their parents. Many are ratty for the first couple of days after the transition. Not to mention two of the boys who I've been warned are mischief makers and they bounce off of each other, and are known for running away and swearing if they don't get there own way.

Holy Molly - and this is just what I've been told by the principal when I am given my class at the start of the year.


But oh well, at least I get to work from 9-3 instead of 9-5 right?

So I just roll out of bed at 6 and walk into a classroom at 9 and start the day with sleeping logs? Haha yeah, that will keep the kids quiet, then I'll actually be able to wake up. I'll leave them lying still and quiet while I go and grab a coffee and duck out for a whiz.

Could you imagine what I'd face when I returned?

I think they'd be a couple kids murdered, some doing handstands, others painting the walls, kids on facebook taking pictures of their bits, kids spitting in my coffee, a couple doing a runner and others sticking kick me stickers on some poor suckers back.

Could you imagine what it's like to engage 30 ratty children in the morning when all they want to do is play, or Facebook, or hang out at the mall, or go and do an apprenticeship already?

Do you realise just how much time goes in to planning, marking, searching for new ideas, photocopying, borrowing books, buying props and materials and so much more before even stepping foot into the classroom?

Now, I'm not a teacher, but could you imagine the exhaustion that you'd feel after all of that, and then having to attend staff meetings, run sports day, umpire the school basketball team, provide one on one tutoring, write reports outside of classroom time, face partner teacher interviews and extend your skills through professional development?

I understand why teachers can drink people under the table...or have hip flasks in their desk :p Alcohol = sanity.

Don't get me wrong, the people who I know that are teachers LOVE their jobs. They are passionate about making a difference in the lives of children, they are life learners, they love to be challenged and they reveal in the reward of helping a child to read, or write a report, or speak a new language or discover a passion in a topic, but it's darn hard work.

Just let me tell you, if a term had 12 weeks then your kids would be dead...or worse still, teachers would go on strike and you'd have your kids home full time all of the time...garrrr!!!!

I think one of the most horrible things that teachers face is the criticism by the media. We know that many people believe what they read, without questioning it. Is it fair to portray teachers as people who get way too many holidays? I think it's disgusting that people are toying with the idea to pay teachers based on the outcome of students. How on earth do you monitor that? It's like asking someone what it is to be successful? Success for one school could be far different to success from another school. Take for example a private school with Year 12 students would be concentrating on students receiving high university entrance scores and gaining a place in their first preference whereas a low socio-economic school might base success on the retention rates of their Year 12 students and how many pass.

Is this a reflection on the quality of teachers or the quality of the students and their life outside of school?

I say a BIG STUFF THAT. I'll keep my 9 to 5 job with coffee breaks, a full lunch hour, the ability to daydream and procrastinate, the flexible work hours, being able to duck out for appointments, not being faced by scrutiny in the media and being able to switch off when the doors are closed and to not have to take work home with me.

If we pay people according to their responsibility then what's more important then educating our precious little cherubs?

And what price can you place on an education?

Are teachers overpaid or under appreciated?


I'll let you decide.

Would you want their job?

Look after yourself and those around you,
Kirsty xxx

Sunday, 16 September 2012

What it's Like to Suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - what do you think when you hear those 3 words? I know that I think of someone being extremely tired all of the time and not just exhaustion tired, as in, can not lift-their-arms-above-their-head-tired. Today I welcome Natasha to my blog. Natasha suffers from ME/CFS. What does this mean? Read on to find out her daily struggle in today's blog. I am SO proud of her for sharing her story with us today - it's a very brace thing to do.

What do you think of when you hear that someone has
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)?

Common perceptions of this illness range from thinking that sufferers just feel tired all the time, to an understanding of ME/CFS as a psychosomatic illness or a sickness for lazy people. Others think it means being a bit more tired for a year or so after having had glandular fever. Many people with ME/CFS are labeled as depressed and told that they are not physically sick at all.

As someone who lives with ME/CFS these misconceptions HURT.

ME/CFS is a real physical illness.

Much of the misunderstanding of this illness is because there is no one test that can be done to detect it, this side of an autopsy. Its symptoms are many and varied, and it is, in large part, an invisible illness. Like a mental illness, in a crowd we may look no different to the healthy person beside us. But that does not mean that we aren’t physically sick. While death is rare, ME/CFS has been listed as the cause of death by autopsies done in the UK, US and Australia. For the rest of us, while it may not take our life, there is much that this illness does take from us.

I hope, through this blog article, to correct some common misunderstandings and help others understand this illness better.

“It’s all in your head…”
ME/CFS is a physical illness NOT a mental illness. It is primarily classified as a neurological disorder, but also affects the immune, endocrine, gastrointestinal, cardiac and musculoskeletal systems. It can rear its ugly head suddenly or gradually over time, and last for a couple of years or for a lifetime. Most people with ME/CFS never recover full health.

It is true, however, that many people with ME/CFS also struggle with depression to some degree. If you woke up every morning for weeks, months and years on end feeling sore and completely exhausted, couldn’t work, couldn’t exercise, couldn’t go out and spend time with friends, had to adhere to a very restrictive diet because even many types of foods made you feel worse, and on top of that, no one seemed to understand, not even your GP. Imagine if, while enduring all of this, you were told that “it’s all in your head!” called lazy, fussy, a drama queen, and told that you’d get better if only you would exercise more and think positively… don’t you think you might start to feel a little bit depressed?

Just tired?
The name Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is an unfortunate title for this illness, because it encourages the idea that ME/CFS just means feeling tired all the time. That is so far from the truth.

Yes, as a sufferer of this illness I feel tired. But I’m not just talking about feeling like I could have done with an extra hour or two’s sleep. I’m talking about experiencing indescribable, bone shattering exhaustion, and tiredness that seeps into every cell of my body. Then there are all the other symptoms.

The symptoms of ME/CFS are many and varied. No one sufferer will experience the same set of symptoms to the same severity, but all will experience much more than just being tired. These symptoms are often so severe that it is common for people with ME/CFS to become bedridden for weeks, months, even years at a time.

Symptoms include (but are not limited to):
·        Post exertion fatigue (can be caused by physical, mental or emotional exertion)
·        Muscular and join pain.
·        Muscle weakness
·        Dizziness and imbalance
·        Ringing in the ears
·        Chemical and scent sensitivities/intolerances
·        Sensitivity to light, touch, and/or sound
·        Food intolerances, allergies and gut dysfunctions
·        ‘Brain fog’ (an inability to process information or think properly)
·        Recurrent ‘flu-like’ symptoms (including sore throat, swollen glands, aching, feeling as if you have a fever)
·        Irregular body temperature
·        Cold extremities/poor circulation
·        Sensitivity to heat or cold
·        Insomnia or hypersomnia
·        Nausea
·        Eczema or Psoriasis

Personally, my main symptoms, other than the extreme exhaustion, include my entire body constantly aching, bad headaches, and sharp or intense pain in varying parts of my body. Some days I experience significant muscular weakness, which can make even walking or picking up a light weight difficult. I experience dizziness and imbalance at times. I am on a strict and restrictive diet, but still experience pain, stomach distention, frequent urination and other uncomfortable and unpleasant symptoms as a result of my stomach not being able to handle any and all food and drink that I consume. I cannot wear even ‘natural’ makeup without experiencing hay fever like symptoms. Scented candles, most types of hand wash, perfume, normal laundry powder and cleaning chemicals are a no go. My hands and feet are almost always cold and have a tendency to go a rather scary shade of purple. I often experience strong waves of nausea, especially when I have exerted myself too much. I am sensitive to light, particularly fluorescent lighting, which increases my fatigue, causes me to feel light headed and unable to focus either visually or mentally. I experience evidence of eczema or psoriasis and, at times, flu-like symptoms. And then there is brain fog, which has become a frustrating and sometimes embarrassing part of life.

“But you don’t look sick!”
Just because someone with ME/CFS looks healthy, doesn’t mean that they are. You might see someone smiling and chatting to others at a social gathering or at their place of study or work and think, “they don’t look sick!” But what you don’t see is the day/s in bed before to save their energy for just one or two hours at the party. You don’t see the pain, exhaustion and nausea they experience for hours or days afterwards. You don’t see the struggle behind that smile, the determination to push through despite immense fatigue and pain.

“It’s not like you have [insert other illness here]…”
ME/CFS is often compared to other illnesses and brushed off as an insignificant, or minor illness. This is extremely hurtful and is neither accurate nor helpful.

Compassion does not happen when you compare.

This article has been in large part about the ‘negatives’ of living with ME/CFS. That is because it is important for people to really understand the reality and severity of this illness. One of the greatest difficulties of having this illness is not feeling understood, to experience such a disabling illness, but not have that experience validated and understood, either by the general public or by much of the medical profession.

However, while I do get ‘down’ at times, get bored of laying in bed, get frustrated and upset that I can’t just do the things that I want to do, I choose to try to focus primarily on what I can do, rather than what I can’t. It is important for me to understand the limitations I face with this illness, and have compassion for myself in that, but to celebrate and be grateful for what I still have to offer.

Natasha x

For further information, take a look at these links:
·        www.mecfs.org.au

·        http://youtu.be/_ZgNR6KrQFo

·        http://youtu.be/IOflARSgNnE