Acupuncture, Hypnotherapy and Meditation

‘You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour’

 

These past few weeks I have been trying to find a new method to deal with anxiety/stress. I’ve been testing a variety of different suggestions as well as researching possible new ones to consider. I thought I would run through the three main ones I have tried and let you know how helpful they have/ haven’t been:

1.Acupuncture

When I first tried acupuncture I wasn’t entirely convinced that it did anything; I thought, perhaps, it was a placebo effect and someone was sticking needles in me for no reason. However after trying it for 6+ weeks now, I have to say I definitely have noticed a difference, especially immediately after the sessions.

I mainly have it done in my ears and on my head, which sounds terrifying at first, but trust me- it’s not! After having gone to 10 + sessions of it, I’ve just gotten used to it. In fact, some of them can be quite relaxing- which is a completely strange feeling, considering I’ve been terrified of needles for as long as I can remember.

Before starting acupuncture I wasn’t aware of its history, uses or popularity. It’s just after researching it that I have become aware of how useful it is as well as how essential it is to some people’s lives. I was shocked to see how many acupuncture points there are on the ear alone never mind the entire body:

ear acupuncture

Acupuncture derives from Chinese medicine and it is their belief that each part of the body is connected to another and by putting needles into it you can relieve said other part. For example if you were suffering from a cold they could put a needle in the part of the ear labelled 23 (on the diagram above) and that should help to give some relief to the lungs and therefore help with your cold symptoms.

Although I think it is something that is useful for my anxiety, it is something that I had to have multiple times before I found there was a great effect (most likely due to the fact that I was concentrating on the needle part too much.) But once I got over that, I did find that I was immediately relaxed. So if anyone is wanting to try it, I would suggest giving it a chance for a few sessions and don’t just give up if it’s not working after just one or two.

 

2. Hypnotherapy

I have to be honest here; hypnotherapy is something that I haven’t tried in the last few weeks but rather approximately 6 months ago. However, I did think it was a method of relaxation that is not commonly discussed and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to talk about it and its effects.

I did 4 sessions of hypnotherapy and have to say my reaction is very mixed. The first couple of times I went, I felt very relaxed but didn’t think I had been hypnotised. Although it is impossible to tell because that is the whole point of hypnotherapy, for the hypnotist’s suggestions to just naturally come into your life. I did think the third time something might have happened because I felt odd when I ‘woke up,’ but again I can’t be sure, I could have just been quite sleepy. The fourth time for me was the most effective as it made me feel the most relaxed. Although I’m not sure if this is good reflection on how the hypnotherapy actually was but rather how calming the hypnotist’s voice was.

Overall, even though I don’t think it had much of an effect on me, I know it helps thousands of people around the world, so it is always worth giving it a go if you know you are susceptible to that sort of thing/ like the idea of it.

3. Meditation

For me, personally, meditation was the method I was the most sceptical about yet have found the best results from it. I have to admit (like with the other two methods) I didn’t really feel anything the first few times I did it- I just felt like I was closing my eyes and just daydreaming about nothing. But after doing it 3/4 times a week for 6 weeks, I felt myself gradually getting into that meditative state that everyone talks about. For me, it was quite scary. It was a feeling I’d never felt before and if I’m honest I found it truly terrifying. The first few times I managed to get into it, I woke myself out of it because I found it too overwhelming. Eventually, after doing a lot of research, I decided to just go with it to try and see what happens and once you get past the initial overwhelming feeling, it becomes incredibly relaxing. I usually do it for about half an hour at a time and find that I am really refreshed after it, sort of like giving your mind a rest for a while, so it can calm down. And contrary to popular belief you don’t have to be sat in the famous lotus position to meditate- many people just do this to maintain the right posture (you’re not supposed to have a slouched back when meditating as it can, apparently, lead to your mind wandering.)

meditation_sun

The more research I did into meditation, the more interested I got. I was fascinated to learn it had been around since at least 5000 BC (this was the first known recording of it.) To me, its incredible longevity just proves that it actually works and is doing something to calm down the brain. I mean, if people have been using it for over 7000 years, surely something is right. I also found out how popular it is with the majority of Asia. I already knew it was big because of its association with Buddhism but I didn’t quite understand how big it actually was. It is so imprinted into the routine of many in south East Asia, that it is common practice to have a ‘meditation break’ in their workplace. It is believed that meditation helps both the physical body and the mind- it is even said to help the immune system!

I was also surprised at how many celebrities practice meditation on a daily basis. I thought I would include some quotes from a few to give more insight on the effects that it has on people. I struggled to narrow these quotes down as there are so many celebrities who do it and I wanted to include as many as possible:

“In moments of madness, meditation has helped me find moments of serenity”- Sir Paul McCartney

“After your morning stretch — which everyone should do — meditate. You don’t need to be able to levitate. You can just do it for 30 seconds. I leave my body and look at myself, like, ‘Ru, what do you want to do today?’ And I say, ‘Let’s do something.”- Rupaul

“Meditation is helping you to tap into something that’s already inside of you… that’s you, in essence. That’s something that was super-empowering for me once I grasped that.”- Cameron Diaz

Now I meditate twice a day for half an hour. In meditation, I can let go of everything. I’m not Hugh Jackman. I’m not a dad. I’m not a husband. I’m just dipping into that powerful source that creates everything. I take a little bath in it.”- Hugh Jackman

“The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.”- Confucius

“Twenty minutes, you just notice the difference! When I get lazy and don’t get it in, I can feel a difference in the day. So I try to meditate first thing when I wake up.” Jennifer Aniston

“I meditate before going onstage – it helps me focus.”- Harry Styles

“The personal experiences that I learned from meditation have helped to change the way I live my life by modifying my perception of myself and of others.”- Keanu Reeves

 “Meditation was a turning point for me. It helped me deal with a lot of stress and has given me a lot of relaxation.”- Mike Love

“I meditate every day. I do it in the mornings for about 10 to 15 minutes. I think it’s important because it sets me up for the rest of the day.” Kobe Bryant

 “If every 8-year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” – Dalai Lama

These are just a handful of hundreds of quotes from celebrities from now and throughout history that support and endorse the use of meditation within daily life. I find it all incredibly inspiring and I hope you do too!

I thought I would end with a favourite meditation quote of mine:

Buddha was asked, “What have you gained from meditation?” He replied, “Nothing! However, let me tell you what I have lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.

Thank you for reading,

Chloe x

Once again here’s the link to the National Tremor Foundation:

www.tremor.org.uk

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New Year Reflection

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”- Edith Lovejoy Pierce

To say 2017 was a tough year for my family would be an understatement. It wasn’t just tough, quite honestly it was horrendous. At times upsetting and at it’s worst, devastating. There were a few glimmers of happiness, mainly in the first half of the year and towards the very end but overall it was horrible. I am so glad that it is over and am only thinking positively towards the future and what 2018 may bring.

Mostly, 2018 year will be about my sister, most importantly, making sure she is able to have a full and healthy life whilst also achieving the goals she had before she got ill. This is not only essential but also imperative in order to ensure she is happy. For those of you who don’t know, my sister was diagnosed with a severe muscle weakness disorder called Myasthenia Gravis in December 2016. It affects all the muscles in her body, particularly her legs and arms. This means that (for example,) at times, she struggles to walk or stand for long periods of time. I won’t go into much detail on it now, as I want to dedicate a blog post to it in the future. Just know, it is a debilitating condition that can be life changing. My sister is my absolute world and it is genuinely horrible to see her go through such a tough time at such a young age- missing out on experiences everyone else her age is going through. Put simply, it’s heartbreaking. For anyone who has Georgia on Facebook she wrote an emotional, informative and personal post on being diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis in July 2017. I would urge all of you to read it as it is eye opening and very well written:

 

I also thought I would include a video covering the basics on Myasthenia Gravis, for anyone who is interested:

 

2018 will also be about trying to find the best way possible to deal with anxiety. I have already explored (what feels like) hundreds of ways to deal with anxiety but I am yet to find the right one/ combination. I have recently started going to acupuncture on a regular basis and although I haven’t been doing it for that long, I really do feel like it is having a positive affect. However a couple of weeks ago, I had another panic attack that I, at first, thought was a heart attack again. However, this time I was able to recognise the symptoms and I now know how to control it (to an extent.) Although it is still the most terrifying feeling I have ever experienced, I feel like I am making progress. You can prepare for feeling nauseous and dizzy. You can prepare for feeling as if you are going to pass out. You can prepare for heart palpitations. You cannot prepare for the impending feeling of doom that comes with it. This feeling is not just ‘I feel extremely unwell’ or ‘my breathing has become more difficult.’ This feeling is ‘I am about to die, everyone is about to die and the world is going to end right now’ and there is genuinely no other way to describe it. If you think I am exaggerating this a well known documented characteristic of having a panic attack:

Panic attack definition

After having this second panic attack, I now know the symptoms I have leading up to it- which is one positive to come out of it. Annoyingly, it seems to build up over a 12 hour period ish- so it looks like a full day is going to be ruined leading up to them. Knowing how to breathe properly when you have a panic attack is the most important thing and I am aware that sounds incredibly stupid but it is true. For anyone who doesn’t know how to get through a panic attack, I have found the best way is to breathe in for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds and then breathe out again for 4 seconds- I repeat this non-stop until it is over. This is something that my dad taught me to do and I have found it to be the most effective method to control it. Unfortunately there is no immediate cure to panic attacks so you just have to get through them in the best way that you can.

I hope as well that I can also raise awareness for Essential Tremor in this New Year. It is so important to me to be able to draw attention to ET and the overwhelming effects it can have on someone’s daily life. Being a condition that hardly anyone has heard of, I really want to make as many people aware of it as possible.

So, here’s to 2018… I’m looking forward to a year of new beginnings and happiness- I hope you are too!

 

Chloe x

 

Here is the official Myasthenia Gravis awareness site, if anyone wants to learn more about my sister’s condition:

https://www.myaware.org/

Also here is the National Tremor Foundation site, if anyone wants to learn more about Essential Tremor:

http://www.tremor.org.uk/

 

 

Airports, Seizures and Ambulances

I feel like this week I’ve experienced every emotion it is possible to experience in such a short period of time.

This week started off amazing. I was going on holiday with my mum to Tenerife for 2 weeks and I was so excited. It was supposed to be a time to relax and to just generally have some quality time with my mum. I wasn’t actually supposed to be going in the first place, but my step dad (very kindly) gave up his spot because he thought I needed the holiday more. Ever since I got back from Germany, I’ve been organising everything for Tenerife; sorting out holiday clothes (which is genuinely very hard considering it’s winter,) buying books and finding sun cream etc. I literally had everything sorted and ready for 15 days relaxing in the sun and I genuinely was so happy and excited for it.

The morning of the flight to Tenerife we got up at 4:30am and honestly I didn’t feel that much different to usual. Everything was packed and organised so all we needed to do was check our bags in and we’d be on our way. When we got to Manchester airport I still didn’t feel that anxious, I was just as apprehensive as I usually am before going on a flight and considering I’m not usually a nervous flyer, I wasn’t too bad! Going through security was a bit more difficult than usual on account of the fact it was incredibly busy for 5:30am on a Tuesday morning. The security staff were shouting and there was a 45-minute wait but again, nothing different to usual. The only time I was anxious going through security was when my bag got pulled aside as I had forgotten that lipstick was classed as a liquid and had left it in my bag and even then I was only worried because they said we would have to wait another hour in the queue before I could get it back. Luckily, the security woman who went through my bag was extremely nice and let me through as she saw it was a genuine mistake.

Going through duty free I was actually quite relieved after going through that security dilemma. I was just hungry as I had only had an apple before leaving the house but we were on our way to eat anyway so I didn’t really give it a second thought. Just before we got to the lounge, my mum decided she wanted to go to duty free again to get a present for my sister and asked me to sit on a bench and wait with all the bags. The next ten minutes I don’t have a great recollection of. I remember sitting down and then checking through my bag to ensure I had everything. After this I remember my arm just going limp all of a sudden and my phone falling out of my hand and hitting the floor. I specifically remember my last thought being ‘why did I just drop my phone,’ before I blacked out.

I had two seizures. It still doesn’t feel real writing it, but I did. I only know what happened because of the people who happened to be around me at the time told me once I came round again. Apparently everyone turned around when they heard my phone hit the floor and then I proceeded to fall back where I was sat (for anyone who hasn’t been to Manchester airport terminal 1, they have these weird seating areas that are like waves- I really don’t know how to explain it so I’ll just insert a picture!)

manchester-airport-terminal-one-waiting-and-retail-areaengland-uk-hdm1j3.jpg

I know it’s not the best image, but you get the picture. Anyway, I fell back and proceeded to have a seizure for approximately 2 minutes. The people around me were amazing; they put me in the recovery position on the bench and generally comforted and looked after me. My mum, at this point, was still in duty free but had looked over at me to check where I was sitting. She then noticed I was lying down on the bench and there was a crowd of people forming around where she had left me. She dropped everything she was carrying at the time and ran over to me just in time to see the start of my second seizure. I can’t remember any of this at all. After dropping my phone, the next thing I remember is seeing someone putting a privacy screen around me and also being really confused as to why there were random strangers holding my hands.

It was really weird coming round after I had my second seizure. I can honestly say it was like that bit they usually do in films where someone is coming around after having an operation and at first everything is all blurry and they can only see shadows and outlines and then it gradually gets clearer and clearer. I also remember the voices sounding like they were really far away and it felt like it wasn’t really happening to me- an out of body experience if you will.

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to the two women from Jo Malone who were the first people to reach me and made sure the paramedic was on their way. Also to everyone else who helped, especially the paramedic who was incredibly nice to me. After my 2nd seizure I remember trying to sit up and I felt incredibly sick and dizzy and repeatedly telling the paramedic that ‘I was going to faint’ to which his response was always either ‘no you’re not’ or ‘that’s why you’re going in the ambulance.’

After about 15 minutes the ambulance was ready and I was rushed down to the tarmac where it was waiting. I once again received a police escort off the site in an ambulance. I hope to god the police did not recognise me from last time because at this point I swear I must have some sort of record for the most ambulance escorts off an airport in the shortest amount of time (2 times in under 2 months if you’re wondering.) This time I went to Wythenshawe A & E, which was just as nice as Leighton and the staff were just as friendly. They did lots of tests on me (specifically lots of blood tests as my blood kept on clotting, which was awful considering anyone that knows me knows I am absolutely terrified of needles!) However they have yet to say what they think caused it and I’m still having lots of tests done to determine the trigger.

I feel a lot better now and haven’t had another seizure since, although they have said I need to stay relaxed in order to prevent another one. Obviously I am very disappointed that I haven’t been able to go on holiday because I am currently ‘not fit to fly’ until they find out what caused them- although I am more disappointed for my mum than anything because I know how much she was looking forward to it. Personally, I’m just glad that it happened before I got on the plane and not part way through the flight!

Thank you for reading!

 

Once again, here’s the website address for the national tremor foundation- I’d really appreciate it if you had a look!

www.tremor.org.uk

 

Growing up with Essential Tremor

Again, I wanted to say thank you for the amount of support I have received for this blog- I really do appreciate it and I genuinely can’t believe how many people are actually reading it! I hope you’re all learning something new and at least find it a little bit interesting! 

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, growing up with Essential Tremor was extremely tough. It wasn’t so much the tremor itself but rather knowing that I was always going to be different to my peers; I was never going to be ‘normal’ like them… I think that was and still is the hardest thing about my condition to accept. It is a strange concept ‘normality’- what actually is normal? And who has society decided is the perfect ‘normal’ human? Because I don’t know and my 7,8,9,10 year old self-etc didn’t know either… all I have ever known is that it is not someone who has a permanent uncontrollable tremor.

And why do I know this? Because society and the media have told me so all of my life. For instance: I remember being 13 years old ish and watching my favourite show at the time, 90210. This was a show that I loved and would watch religiously every week. This was until one week I, naively, sat down to watch it, expecting the usual American high school drama, however I was instead faced with the first reference to Essential Tremor I had ever heard on TV… and it wasn’t good. Having just being diagnosed with the condition, I knew pretty much everything about it; what it was, where it would affect me and, naturally, which celebrities have/had it. For anyone who has Essential Tremor, there is one particular celebrity that we look up to; Katherine Hepburn. If you don’t know who Katharine Hepburn is, she is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 actresses of all time and is seen as an icon of Hollywood. Here are some pictures for reference:

     

Anyway, I know it appears that I have digressed quite a bit but trust me; it will all make sense in a minute. Katharine Hepburn, as well as being one of the most successful actresses that has ever lived, had Essential Tremor. She developed it later on in life and it is therefore apparent in some of her later work, such as ‘On Golden Pond,’ where you can clearly see the tremors in her hands and head. Additionally, it was also very apparent in her voice and this is where 90210 comes in. The episode in question is season 3 episode 7 ‘I see London, I see France…’ (Yes I did do my research.) In this episode one of the characters is hosting an awards show and is having technical problems with his microphone and makes the following “joke:”

‘There’s some reverb on my mic… I’m worried I sound too much like Katharine Hepburn.’

The character does this whilst simultaneously mimicking the voice of someone with Essential Tremor and by extension mimicking someone with a disability. The other characters in the room proceed to laugh at this comment and it is seen by all as a light-hearted joke about someone with a disability- right? Well my 13 year old self certainly didn’t think so, in fact I found it extremely offensive and to be quite honest actually quite distressing that a TV show that millions of young people would watch could make fun of someone with a neurological condition that they have no control over. The fact that the other characters laugh at it, in my eyes, makes it seem as if it is ok… it is ok to mock someone with a disability just because they sound different to you. Katharine was an inspiration to many across the world and she should certainly be remembered for more than just the tremor… it’s not fair. The tremor doesn’t define us nor does it control us, it only makes us stronger and more sympathetic to people living with disability all over the world.

You may be thinking at this point ‘Chloe, don’t you think you’re overreacting?’ Actually no, no I don’t. As a 13-year-old girl who had just discovered she had a progressive, uncontrollable tremor that there was no cure for, the last thing I needed was for it to be mocked on one of my favourite programmes. To me, it was as if the show was making it acceptable to make jokes about people with disability and that in itself is, not only extremely worrying, but should never be ok. Don’t get me wrong I do try and make light of my condition as much as possible, mostly because it makes it easier to deal with, but people who have an influence over us, and especially over children, should try to use their status for good: i.e. supporting people with disability rather than making fun of them.

Another slight digression, but this is what I found extremely worrying in Donald Trump’s presidency campaign. He literally made fun of and imitated a man with a disability and was still elected President of the most powerful country in the world. What message is that giving to everyone else? It’s ok to make fun of people with disability because look at Donald Trump, he did it and he’s now the most powerful man in the world? I’m sure I speak for people with disabling medical conditions everywhere when I say that this is extremely worrying and is not how we want to be seen. We are a lot stronger than you think.

Needless to say I boycotted 90210 for the rest of the series. Although I have focused on 90210 for the purpose of this blog post, there are many other programmes/films that have made similarly distressing comments about people with tremors… I won’t bore you with a list but I’m sure you’ll find some yourself if you look out for them.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and didn’t find it was too long/ had too many rhetorical questions in it haha 🙂

Here is the link to the National Tremor Foundation if you want to find out anymore information:

http://www.tremor.org.uk

🙂

How does Essential Tremor actually affect me?

 

Once again, I wanted to say thank you for the support for my last post- I really do appreciate it. This blog is going to be more about my own personal daily struggle with Essential Tremor.

I’ve been thinking for a while about how I could actually portray my struggle with Essential Tremor and I’ve, finally, come to the conclusion that this can only be achieved through video. Therefore, I decided to get my sister (thanks, George) to film me writing/ drawing both before and after taking my medication to show both how bad the tremor is and also how medication affects it.

This video is extremely personal to me, as I’ve never shown anyone outside of my immediate family my tremor before. It is still completely alien to me that everyone now knows about it, as it is something I have kept to myself for the majority of my life. But now everyone knows I have it, I might as well show how bad it is and truly portray it, to its full extent as I believe it may help other people with the condition, who are still coming to terms with how to cope.

(and yes… yes I did create a Youtube channel just to upload this one video)

P.s I know this video is extremely poorly edited, just try and look past the editing 🙂

As you could probably tell from the video, my tremor before taking any medication is significantly worse than it is after taking any. This was quite a bad day for my tremor but there have been days where it is much much worse. And as the worst part of my body for my tremor is my legs, it can sometimes be extremely challenging to walk and more specifically to walk down stairs as well as hills (because you are putting so much weight/pressure on each leg at a time.)

The medication that I take is not specifically designed for Essential Tremor, therefore I take a variety of medications that are for other conditions. For example: in the past I have taken medication for people with Parkinson’s as well as medication designed for people with epilepsy. It still astonishes me to this day that Essential Tremor is one of the most common neurological conditions in the world and yet there is no medication specifically for it. This means that in a lot of cases the medication given to Essential Tremor patients doesn’t actually work. This has happened to me a few times (I have tried a lot of different types of medications to ease the symptoms) but there is always something else/ new to try.

This is why it is so important to me to raise awareness for this condition and I would urge anyone who is interested to visit the National Tremor Foundation website for further information on the disorder:

www.tremor.org.uk

Thank you for reading 🙂

What is Essential Tremor?

Firstly, I just want to say thank you so much for all of the support from my first blog. It was overwhelming and I couldn’t quite believe how many people supported me. It has given me so much encouragement to carry on writing and share my story with everyone

I’m not quite sure what these blogs are going to contain yet as I’m still very new to this, however I think it is very important to understand the reasoning behind why I am endeavouring to do this. I find it very therapeutic to write all of my thoughts in one place and share them with people so they can understand what people like me go through on a daily basis. Although I’m going to cover various subjects including the alcoholism, the anxiety, the support networks etc, first and foremost I think it is imperative to bring awareness to Essential Tremor, itself

I think it is very important to understand what Essential Tremor is and how it affects the body as well as the mind. I have found this very useful video, which will initially help people to understand more about the condition, so if you want you can have a watch. I, personally, found it extremely informative and I hope you do too:

Essential tremor is one of the most common movement disorders in the world and yet hardly anyone has heard of it. This is either because it is misdiagnosed (as Parkinson’s for example) or because there is a genuine lack of knowledge on it. Four out of every 100 adults over 40 are estimated to have essential tremor, this clearly shows how common this disorder actually is. It is actually extremely rare to have Essential tremor as a child, it affects only 5% of people who have this disorder, so I don’t mean to brag, but I guess you could say I’m pretty special!

I still remember the first time I realised I was different to the other kids. It was year one and we were doing show and tell and basically you had to stand up and present your object to everyone and explain it etc. And for some reason I brought in a joke book that my dad had bought me. I remember standing up and beginning to explain the book and then my legs started trembling and the teacher got really concerned and pulled me aside and asked me if I was ill. I remember saying to her that I wasn’t and I was just explaining the book like everyone else was. She made it very clear that it wasn’t normal and it was at that point I realised, I was different- I wasn’t ‘normal.’ After that day, I became more conscious of it and I would actively avoid any form of attention.

Children can be cruel. I know they don’t necessarily mean to be but they are, especially if you’re different to them. I still remember every comment anyone has ever made to me about my tremor, every single one- throughout primary school, high school, college and even university. I’m not the sort of person to call people out so I won’t mention who these people were, but these comments have stuck with me through my entire life. And it’s funny because to them it was probably just a passing comment, something they didn’t think about and haven’t thought about since… but I did and I still do. Every time someone said something about my tremor, I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night, running through the situation in my head and wondering if I could’ve done something differently. But I’ve finally realised that they were the ones that were uneducated about the condition and I didn’t do anything wrong.

I have a million and one stories about my tremor that I will probably leave for other blogs, so I’ll share these at a later date!

Again, here is the link to the national tremor foundation:

http://tremor.org.uk/

There is also another link to another informative Essential tremor website, if anyone is interested:

http://www.essentialtremor.org/

 

Hope you found this informative- I know I’m not the best blog writer but I’m trying my best!

🙂

Essential Tremor and Me

This is something that I have wanted to do for a long time but have always felt it wasn’t the right moment or opportunity. But now, things are different and I finally feel better and able to tell everyone about me and what I have gone through and am continuing to go through in my life. 

There is a reason I am starting this blog now and it is a reason that will hopefully change my life for the better. On the 25th October 2017 I experienced the worst day of my entire life. In order to explain this day and how it has affected me, I need to give a bit of backstory.

I have Essential Tremor. I have had it for as long as I can remember but I was officially diagnosed when I was 13 years old. I know a lot of people will be unfamiliar with this condition so I’ll give a bit of explanation. In simple terms it is basically an uncontrollable permanent tremor throughout my entire body that there is currently no cure for but there are various medications that can manage it (to a degree.) It truly does affect my entire body: my arms, hands, legs, feet, head, lips, stomach, eyelids. It even affects my voice, which I find very stressful as it often sounds like I am about to cry when I am in a nervous situation- so phone calls would, naturally, be another source of anxiety for me as I was always worried the person on the other end of the phone would think I was upset. Additionally, my muscles are affected so occasionally I can see my muscles shaking under my skin, which is particularly bizarre for me.  There are many factors that exasperate and intensify my tremor which include: anxiety, being hungry, being too tired, being too cold, being too hot, adrenaline, caffeine and the worst of all: being hungover.

There is another huge point to cover here- alcohol completely gets rid of the tremor and when I say it completely gets rid of it, I mean it becomes non-existent. Therefore throughout my teens I would often drink to self-medicate and relieve the stress that the tremor would put on me. Alcohol would also allow me to do everyday things that I couldn’t do with the tremor (for instance: walking down steps, taking a drink, eating soup, writing, the list goes on and on.) I remember enjoying the feeling the alcohol gave me as it made me feel like a ‘normal’ person and I couldn’t believe that people were actually living their lives with this feeling of normality and I was extremely jealous of that. Imagine that, the one cure to your condition, is something that can actually kill you (or is extremely dangerous). But this was a really big problem for me and I was in denial for years that I had become dependent on drinking to calm my tremor and my anxiety. I had normalised using alcohol to self-medicate and kept it a secret for years.

In a way you could say I was battling two illnesses at the same time- on one hand I had the constant anxiety that came with my tremor but on the other I was having to deal with my ever increasing dependency on alcohol. It really and truly was a vicious circle that I struggled to cope with and I often found myself isolating myself in order to just try and feel ‘normal.’ I would shut myself in my room just so that I didn’t have to deal with the anxiety that came with talking to people. In school I was extremely quiet, mainly to ensure I didn’t bring any attention to myself so that my tremor wouldn’t be noticed. I used to find this completely exhausting. I would purposefully not answer questions that I knew the answer to just so I didn’t have to raise my hand and then my classmates might’ve seen my tremor. Or I would answer one of the first questions the teacher’s asked, just so that I wouldn’t be picked to answer for the rest of the class.

For those of you who don’t know, I am doing a degree in German and consequently I have a compulsory year abroad, which I started in a beautiful city in Germany called Marburg on the 2nd of October 2017.  At first everything was great, the city was beautiful, the food was amazing and the locals were lovely. (I should point out at this point that when you have Essential Tremor, you have good and bad days- some days you are absolutely fine and basically ‘normal’ and other days you can struggle to walk because your legs shake so much.) Anyway, there came a day where I had to meet some of my new flatmates, but I had the huge problem that my legs were completely shaky and I didn’t want to meet them, whilst basically not being able to stand up. Therefore I decided to have a drink to calm myself down and stop my legs from shaking. Of course as one does when socialising this led to another drink and then another etc etc.

Fast forward to the morning and I realise my tremor is so bad that I can barely even stand up. So, I went through my options and decided the only real way I could even get out of bed was to have another drink… so I did. This cycle continued for a few days- drinking, waking up with a hangover, not being able to stand/walk and then drinking again to be able to continue with daily life.

Then one day after drinking again to be able to do ‘normal things,’ I get a surprise visit from my parents, who took one look at the amount of alcohol bottles in my room as well as the state that I was in and took me to a hotel and booked the next flight home. The problem is with having drank so much over such a short period and then completely stopping, it really messed with my mind as well as my body.

On the way to Frankfurt airport the next day, I could barely stand, never mind walk. The thing is when ‘normal’ people get hangovers they get the shakes, so imagine when a person with a tremor gets a hangover- it is literally 10x worse and as my legs are the worst part of my body for my tremor anyway, I genuinely couldn’t support myself.

So we get to the airport and put the hire car back in the car park. At this point , I realise I genuinely can not walk at all because my tremor is so bad, so my step mum goes to get a wheelchair for me. However it turns out they couldn’t bring a wheelchair down to the car park for some reason, so my dad had to carry me all the way to the departure lounge so we could get a wheelchair from there instead. This is when things got even worse. Apparently you can’t get a wheelchair in Frankfurt airport unless you book 2 days in advance. So even in the state I was in and (what we thought was a great acceptance of disability in Germany) they wouldn’t give me a wheelchair. Bearing in mind Frankfurt airport is the third BIGGEST airport in Europe, my 52 year old dad had to carry me all the way to the gate, which couldn’t have been further away. Not only did we see an abundance of free wheelchairs throughout the airport that weren’t in use, not one single person offered to help us. Not one single member of staff or civilian offered any kind of support. I was even laughed at as my dad was attempting to carry me through to the gate because of my tremor. People were even taking videos and pictures, as if having a disability is some sort of tourist attraction- I mean, last time I checked we were in 2017.

Then we get to the plane and we were flying with Ryanair, who I can honestly say were amazing at dealing with me. At first everything seemed fine on the plane, the take off was ok and the first 10 minutes or so were just average. However I then experienced the worst feeling I have ever had in my entire life and as it turns out I was experiencing my first ever panic attack. I can honestly say I have never felt so terrified and helpless in my life- I was screaming and shouting out (and if you know me at all, that is completely not in my nature.) My whole body was convulsing and I was sweating profusely as well as throwing up. (Most likely from the alcohol leaving my system.) My parents were amazing with dealing with me, helping me with breathing techniques as well as reassuring me when I was having a wave of a panic attack and I honestly can’t thank them enough. When we landed my stepmum was incredible (as she is cabin crew herself,) she had arranged with the Ryanair staff for a paramedic as well as a fireman to help me off the plane, in order to do an assessment (shout out to Darren who really helped me to calm down!) I was then put straight into an ambulance with 3 brilliant paramedics who helped me to try and overcome the constant waves of panic attacks.

After this, I went straight to A&E, where the nicest nurses/doctors looked after me until a bed became available on a ward. I was in there for 6 days on a withdrawal programme and can honestly say the staff at Leighton hospital are amazing. Not only did they support me through my attacks but they would always make an effort to talk to me and make sure I was alright when it wasn’t visiting hours.

I am back home now and feel more relaxed although I still obviously have a long long road ahead of me.

I also want to thank the world’s most amazing family, who I love so so so so so much!!!!!!!!

I don’t know what the future holds for me right now but at the moment I am focused and determined to get better and to live a more healthy lifestyle. I am hoping these blogs will help me on my journey to recovery and as a way to reassure my family and friends that I am getting better now.

To learn more information about Essential tremor please visit the National Tremor Foundation website:

http://tremor.org.uk/

Not only does it have a lot of information about Essential tremor itself, but it also includes personal stories of other people who are going through a similar experience.

🙂