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Before yesterdayRachel's 'F' Words

HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) = me!

31 March 2022 at 08:21

How the hell can it take 52 years to realise what I am, why I react the way I do and that there is something I can do to reduce or even change it?

It doesn’t seem real does it? But it is and it’s me. I am that person who always has got angry with myself for what I see as overreacting to situations and emotions, but who never knew til now that there is a reason for it and I can look into it and try to curb it.

It frustrates the hell out of me that I’ve trained myself not to confront or challenge people whose opinions or behaviour I disagree with (and yet I do fully believe that it is the right thing to do as how can either they or I learn from it?). Instead I’ve grown up either quietly agreeing with them whilst in my head thinking the complete opposite, or, when I have tried to challenge, my emotions go into overdrive and I end up in tears and feeling like shit for a few days.

I’ve also gotten to the stage where I avoid crowds as much as I possibly can, to the extent that I now get my shopping online and hubby or son pops to local shops when I need something. I just find crowds of people around me gives me an intensely uncomfortable feeling, almost like a flight or fight scenario.

I’ve looked into the signs of HSP’s and most definitely can identify with almost all of them. Looking at Highly Sensitive Person | Psychology Today I meet the majority of the criteria. It is seen as a personality trait, not a condition and up to 30% of the population are born with the gene that can lead to having it.

I wonder then how many people are out there, just dealing with their shit and not realising they can do something about it?

Ok so let’s look at the signs first;

  1. Being called oversensitive – yep – all my life!
  2. Having at least one sense being overstimulated – yes – they vary
  3. Easily upset by violence in media – yes – especially with animals or children
  4. Avoid stressful situations – yes – I tend to not go to something that I may have initially said yes to, because I’ll become more and more anxious about how I’ll cope emotionally.
  5. Called ‘shy’ as a child – no – I was definitely not shy, but reading the above article shows that extroverts can be HSP’s as well as introverts.
  6. Get overwhelmed by tasks – yes – I tend to freeze and panic as I feel as though I can never finish the task in time
  7. Being attuned to nuances in environment – yes – I can pick up on an atmosphere in a room that others can’t and also to the mood/emotions of a person and ways to address it.
  8. Sensitive to pain – yes – I have Fibromyalgia so pain is a permanent fixture unfortunately
  9. Considered thoughtful – yes – although, I fear, less so lately
  10. Work hard to please others – yes – I am a people pleaser and it is like a personal mission to please everyone I meet.

Other traits can be found here 24 Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person | Psychology Today I meet the majority of them.

I have researched and found some interesting articles on Pinterest which identify signs of HSP’s and self care tips to help cope with stressful days. You can see my page here Pinterest . As I’m just discovering it myself, I’m still learning and processing the information. I hope I can learn to follow some of the advice at least to help cope with my stressful reactions and lead to a calmer existence.

rachellcuthbert

Chatting Bear – my new podcast

16 February 2022 at 05:03

after having a great meal with friends followed by an evening at one of their homes, we created a chat group. Just the four of us, because we all seem to share the same values and just want to support each other. This lead me to think about creating a podcast for others who may be in a similar situation.

The pandemic, lockdown and isolation for 2 years has led to a lot of people struggling with getting back out there, me included. I am having a range of thoughts and feelings about the inevitable ‘getting on with life’ acceptance now that we know Covid is out there and probably is there to stay. During lockdown there was part of me that was never going to mingle again until the virus was eradicated, part of me also started to enjoy being at home with my family. However, I think I also became more lazy and depressed as I seem to find any excuse not to go out (even though, when I have, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself). I even avoid Facetime or Teams/Zoom meetings with people although this was partly down to the fact that I lost a crown and couldn’t get to the dentist for a year, so didn’t enjoy people seeing me like that.

I know there are many more of us out there and I’m really hoping that this podcast is a start for us all to feel ‘supported’ into doing what feels right for them. I’d like this to feel something like a coffee morning, where no discussion is off topic and I’m really hoping we can all contribute to making it a fun environment where we can all feel better knowing we are not alone and maybe get the courage to get back into normal society again.

I hope that you will join me and if you have random thoughts that you would like to share, or questions you would like to ask, why not send me a line at chatting_bear@outlook.com, nothing is off limits, which can be a dodgy thing to say, however, Id like to think we can discuss anything here and if it helps others, then lets go for it.

rachellcuthbert

My journey into veganism

17 July 2021 at 12:06
Another raqaroonihooni fantasy

Hey guys,

I know it has been a while and yet again, i’ve had some interesting adventures.

When I was a teenager, I was so angered about vivisection that I became a vegetarian. It was the 80’s and there wasn’t a great deal of choice in food other than nut roast and cheese filled pastries. At home, my meals consisted of just the vegetables that accompanied whatever meat was being served. As you can imagine, I became deprived of certain nutrients and was eventually anaemic. One drunken evening, a bacon sandwich was just too tempting and ive eaten meat ever since.

Ive been becoming more and more passionate about animal welfare, protection from cruelty etc again over the past 10 years or so. With the devastating awareness of the apalling damage the human race is inflicting on the planet through plastic, pollution, deforestation and global climate change, I strongly believe we all need to contribute to reduce the rate by which we are destroying earth. Then seeing the massive farms filled with cattle to be slaughtered, the knowledge that animals know they are going to be slaughtered when in an abbatoire and the conditions these animals are subjected to, just so we can have cheaper meat enraged me enough to want to make a change.

Just before the beginning of the 1st covid lockdown, I planned on cooking 2 meatless meals a week for the family as a way of contributing. It wasn’t easy as my family are avid meat eaters and always have been with the exception of 1 of my daughters being a vegetarian for a short while. However, we managed quite well by following the mediterranean diet, eating omlettes more and pasta dishes (which is a feat as my husband really doesn’t like pasta other than tagliatelle).

With 1 child living at her boyfriends house during lockdown and 1 child living at home instead of university, it was quite easy to follow a plan as they weren’t going to and from and I wasn’t having to think of which day I needed to alter our plans (which, when you have Fibromyalgia and brain fog and a very poor memory, is a nightmare). So we did this for a while and it was great. Then lockdown eased a little and children started moving around again and threw my brain into its usual chaos, thus ensuing a total breakdown of the meatless meal plan.

Then the Christmas lockdown occurred and was lengthened til now. 1 child living at her boyfriends except for 1 night a week and 1 child at university and having to stay there until the end of term. This seemed the perfect time to attempt a more drastic approach. Knowing my husband and son would definitely not be on board with being vegetarian, let alone vegan, I decided to start my journey on my own. I explained to my family my decision and the reasoning behind it and was delightfully surprised at how supportive they all were.

I had thoroughly thought about it and spoken to a couple of my friends who are vegan and decided I could cook a family meal and easily cook something for myself alongside it using almost all the same ingredients. A little extra work and more washing up, but as long as I wasn’t using the dishwasher more than normal and only a minimal amount of extra gas for the cooker (haven’t been able to replace yet as i have a range and they are expensive), it felt worth it.

I began at the beginning of June. I was advised to adjust bit by bit as going straight to vegan would be harder. The plan was to give up meat first, then fish, then eggs then finally dairy. I knew that not eating meat would be easy as I’ve done it before and meat alternatives are so much better than they were when I was a teen / young adult. I didn’t however, realise how my eating habits had changed since then (you’d think just looking at myself in the mirror would have been a big clue!). I really struggled with takeaway food. Pizza was easy, as I just went for the veggie option. Fish and chips was easy as I went for a spring roll (always used to be my favourite), but chinese and indian was a nightmare and i ended up having chicken. I know that there are vegetarian options, however, not ones that I would like (my regular chinese takeaway only does bean curd in black bean sauce or with broccoli – i dislike both and I just crumbled at the thought of Chicken tikka masala). I am still working on alternatives for these.

My next step is to give up fish, again, I don’t think will be an issue, although I love fish and how good it is for the brain which i most definitely need help with. Ill need to find good alternatives or supplements for this.

Now we step into the fantasy realm as I rely alot on eggs and cheese. I don’t have much milk at all, only a small amount in my 1 cup of coffee a day, I don’t like any of the alternatives, so it would have to be black. I do like yoghurt every now and then, especially greek yoghurt, so that might be an issue unless i can find an alternative. Ice cream has some great dairy free alternatives, so that would be ok too.

But, this is where the fantasy fails as there aren’t any vegan eggs that i know of, so I would have to have free roaming, which is not pure vegan, but I would feel ok with this especially as I know of friends who have chickens. Cheese is a weird one. I tried vegan cheese and even though it smells like sweaty socks and tastes weird, it goes ok with sandwich pickle, I just don’t think I could not have brie. However, I haven’t researched the vegan alternatives so I may find something yet.

As it stands, I think I could eventually call myself a dirty vegan. I would still eat eggs and honey but not from mass producers. I may struggle with cheese, but would try to adjust as I would with take away.

I would NEVER preach about being a vegan as I do actually believe that as humans we should be able to eat whatever our hunter gatherer ancestors ate and what we know fuels our bodies effectively. I am on this journey for me and my social and environmental conscience.

And I’m now starting to crave chorizo and salami! What the heck is that all about? But if i slip up along the way, I won’t punish myself as I am really pleased with the effort I am making and succeeding at.

rachellcuthbert

is ‘Raised by Wolves’ a howler?

29 January 2021 at 07:22

Released on 3 September 2020, Raised by Wolves is a Sci Fi tv series created by Aaron Guzikowski and Directed by Ridley Scott.

The story begins with 2 androids carrying 12 frozen embryos and landing on a new planet – Kepler-22b. They are programmed to recreate human life after a war between two factions (a religious group known as the Mithraic and the atheists) led to the destruction of the planet earth, and the story follows the trials and tribulations that they encounter. following the destruction of planet earth following a war between a religious group – Mithraic – and atheists and it shows the trials and tribulations that they encounter. It also follows a group of Mithraic who escape earth on a ship called ‘the ark’, receive a signal from one of the androids and then journals how the two groups interact.

The series was filmed in both the Western Cape and Cape Town, South Africa, giving the feel of a desert type planet and encourages questioning how humans can survive there.

The opening sequence (when the spaceship arrives at Kepler-22b) shares some of the same aerial footage as Prometheus (when ship arrives at LV-223), also directed by Ridley Scott. Scott had previously been recorded as stating he wouldn’t direct TV again, however after making countless tv advertisements during lockdown, he has returned to direct and produce once again.

It is popular belief that the story has details which are based on the ancient culture of Persia. The Mithraic religion worship Sol – the god of light.

In the Persian Culture, the Gods ‘Mitra’ and ‘Sol’ were worshipped and this was common amongst Roman Soldiers and the combination of beliefs was known as Sol Invictus – the conquering sun.

The story took a while to get going, although easy to follow. Good scenes showing androids becoming aware and having emotions despite popular belief that they are only useful as subservient beings There were some details that questioned believability and there were some details that left the viewer confused. This didn’t improve; I hungrily watched waiting for a climatic situation where all would make sense, but it didn’t arrive.

Overall, the story had great promise and exciting ideas, but never developed them or delivered them coherently. The last development in this series let the show down and could easily put viewers off wanting to see the next series and how the story develops.

Travis Fimmel heads the cast in this show. Stating he would never do tv again, he couldn’t resist Ridley Scott. A great character with a back story that you want to know more about, Fimmel plays this role well. Amanda Collin plays mother android and gives an excellent performance, with scenes that make you gasp and others where you sympathise with the character.

Other cast performances played well, but the script let the show down and could have given so much more to the characters and their storylines. Hopefully series 2 will deliver and will leave us with more answers than questions as with this series.

The series has great potential and there are some really exciting ideas, but they just haven’t been explored enough, maybe in the next series, more will be revealed. It could, however be too little too late for some and just not enough to keep viewers interested. I for one, will be watching again optimistically hoping that some ‘dots will be joined’.

rachellcuthbert

Bridgerton review

11 January 2021 at 12:02

Released on Christmas Day 2020 on Netflix, this 8 episode series of early 19th Century romantic period drama enticed the nation and, didnt disappoint. According to Netflix projections, 63 million viewers tuned in to distract from a Covid-19 Christmas lockdown.

The trailer wasn’t particularly enticing (it felt a bit messy) however, a Period drama set in the Regency Period with the seduction of sex, scandal and gossip (typical of Shonda Rhimes – Producer) was enough to grab my attention.

The show is a perfect blend of Jane Eyre meets Cinderella meets Gossip Girl. Whilst Gossip Girl is aimed at teenagers and young women, ‘Bridgerton’, with the period costumes and the way the trailer promotes the show, feels like it is aimed at an older audience. Personally, I am in the older category but with a teenage mentality – so – ‘winner winner chicken dinner’ for me!

The story is based on the novels written by Julia Quinn. It opens at the beginning of the London ‘season’ for the aristocracy. In the first episode, we see 2 particular families who live opposite each other (the Bridgertons and the Featheringtons – central to the series), getting ready for the debutantes ball where they are presented to the queen as they enter society for the first time, enabling them to find a suitable husband. The story is fairly common type of love story, but has the most entertaining interruptions, which give cause for doubt and intrigue and has some good sideline stories too.

The narrator is that of Lady Whistledown (voiced by the legendary Julie Andrews), who writes a gossip paper which is read and favoured by all and whose identity is a mystery, mirroring Gossip Girl and her blog.

The female lead character is Daphne Bridgerton (played by Phoebe Dynevor (Younger)) and the story mainly follows her journey to being happily married. Dynevor plays the part extremely well, her mannerisms are exactly what you’d expect to see from her character and one can’t help but champion her as you observe her develop and grow from innocent debutante to tenacious duchess.

The male lead is Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings (played by Rege-Jean Page (Roots)) and is a smouldering, complicated and aloof character initially, whom you see open up as the show progresses.

More great character roles are played by a talented cast including Nicola Coughlan (Derry Girls), Polly Walker (Patriot Games, Line of Duty), Ben Miller (Death in Paradise) and Jonathan Bailey (Broadchurch) amongst others and they all blend together to enhance this romantic, amusing, historic-drama.

Scenery is extremely beautiful and very ‘in keeping’ with the theme of the show. Filmed in a number of locations, mainly Baths’ Royal Crescent, but also Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, Wilton House near Salisbury and even Hampton Court Palace, it gives the convincing ‘feels’ of the period.

Costumes are based on Regency, with modern twists thrown in by costume designer Ellen Mirojnick; the Bridgertons wear a more classic Regency costume with subtle changes that don’t distract from the look, whereas the Featherington women wear clothes that give a feel of Cinderellas’ step mother and step sisters. The daughters with colours so bright they are almost neon and multicoloured flowers embroidered onto voile over their Regency style dresses and the mother with a 50’s style neckline.

The music is also a wonderful adaption from modern to classical string and include versions of ‘Wildest Dreams’ by Taylor Swift, ‘Strange’ by Celeste and even ‘Bad Guy’ by Billie Eilish.

To conclude, the show is a delight of all the senses with its’ colour, music, talent and creativity and I would recommend it to anyone wanting distraction via pure fantasy

rachellcuthbert

New Mission

10 January 2021 at 14:29

Hi my beautiful peeps,

Well, I’m trying something new – again! For a while, friends have suggested that I try my hand at writing reviews on tv shows and films as I watch so much /many (what else is a disabled girl in lockdown gonna do?)

So I’m giving it a whirl.

More to follow ……….

rachellcuthbert

2020 out, 2021 in and welcome!

1 January 2021 at 07:33

Happy New Year everyone.

I don’t normally go in for New Year festivities and I didn’t celebrate last night. I did, however, see out last year and welcome in 2021.

Last year taught me a lot about myself and reminded me to appreciate everything and everyone that I have in my life.

I went sugar free in November for Alzheimer’s Society and I learnt about how nasty sugar is on humans and how many illnesses and symptoms are affected by it. I’m going sugar free again as from today and I’m hoping that it will be a permanent way of life for me.

I loved having my family working from home and dread the day that they go back to the office. I absolutely adore my family I’m so proud of my children and how they are coping with the challenges of Covid-19 and whilst we have our moments, having them near me makes me truly grateful for them being in my life. I miss my parents so much and also my brother and his family and I can’t wait to see them again (soon hopefully).

I also realised that I have to have ‘me alone’ time, possibly for my ever increasing anxiety or possibly from having everyone at home, but I do enjoy the little haven of my bedroom and being there helps me to relax more.

I joined the MVP (maternity voices partnership) as vice chair at the beginning of the year and I’ve relished being back in the throes of maternity. Knowing I’ll never be a midwife again really crushed me, so this is my way of being involved in the care of women, their babies and their families. It also means I get to see some of my fabulous colleagues whom I miss working with so much!

Finally, I’ve rejoined Promote (the singing group from Tadlop (Telford and District light operatic players) who sing in public promoting current productions). Singing has always been my passion and I’ve missed performing this year as well as being with my fabulous musical theatre company friends. Singing again feels really good even if I absolutely hate listening and watching myself 😱.

So, 2021, I’m convinced will be similar to last year with social distancing and lockdowns until we are all vaccinated (which will take up until al least autumn I think), but I’m ready for it and have my projects to keep me focused and sane (well …).

Stay safe everyone, I cherish each and every one of you and hope we can all be here in a (hopefully) more normal life, this time next year.

Much love

💜💜💜

rachellcuthbert

The evil that is sugar

14 December 2020 at 11:43

I mean processed sugar, not the type found naturally in food sources.

At the beginning of November I saw an invite on Facebook to quit sugar or alcohol for a month and get friends to donate to the Alzheimers society. It was called quit for a bit and as my darling dad has dementia and as I have all these stupid illnesses and im pretty sure if i lose weight, some of my symptoms would improve and i need a massive kick up the behind to do something about it, it felt like I was meant to do this. So I did!

What was surprising was that I found it extremely easy to do. 2 years ago i was preparing to undergo a gastric band operation and i needed to do a liver reduction diet for 2 weeks prior to the surgery. I did a practice run to see if I could handle it and found it horrific. Not only was it a total avoidance of any kind of processed sugars, it also including avoiding any other types of sugars or carbohydrates or fats, in fact it was a 600 calorie a day diet that mainly consisted of eating low calorie soup 4 times a day and 6 low fat yoghurts a day and nothing else (there were 2 other options, drinking protein based shakes only or a food diet of 600 cals per day, which I thought would be to tempting to cheat with.

I had a horrific headache for 2 days, which I expected as my body adjusted to not having shit put into it (for the first time since I can remember). I don’t remember feeling hungry in particular and I enjoyed the yoghurst but how I hated the soup and it even got to the stage where I couldnt even put the spoon to my mouth! After 3 days I changed to the food diet and I think because I had started to adjust to the lack of food and because I really wanted the surgery, I mananged a further 10 days, therefore completing 13 days in total, 1 day short, but i was encouraged that i could do it.

Anyway, I ended up changing my mind about the surgery and started being more careful about what I ate, but as usual for me, I stopped because of something and gradually introduced more and more crap back into my diet. Naturally, I gained weight and by October this year, I was craving and eating a large block of chocolate daily! So, when this post came along, I really thought I would struggle with the complete avoidance of sugar, especially chocolate.

Maybe it was because I was determined to do this for my dad, but I found the whole month easy to do. There were only a couple of days where I really felt like eating chocolate, but I was able to resist and completed the month.

I looked into why the campaign wanted the avoidance of sugar and was horrified to discover that there is a connection between processed sugar consumption and Alzheimers (and also Dementia). Not only does my father have dementia, but his mother also had it, which made me wonder if there is a genetic link to the disease. The Alzheimers society states that the link is rare, but there is a gene connection and obviously there is a lot that they still don’t know but are looking into. This also worried me as I am very similar to both my father and grandmother, although, they both had really sweet teeth, I was more savoury when I was healthy, but now I definitely look towards sweet instead and so I wonder, am I destined to develop dementia, especially if I carry on eating processed sugar products. According to the AARP, you are more likely to develop the disease from your mother than your father, so that reduces my chance, but the sugar still is an issue.

I then looked into what other illnesses are linked to the consumption of sugar and was horrified to discover that processed sugar products are linked to a number of illnesses including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, non fatty liver disease and cognitive decline and even some cancers!

Well, this, along with the genes link, was enough to convince me to significantly reduce my sugar intake, to lose weight and to keep my brain active to reduce the chances of me developing these horrors (although Im already obese, so im focussing on tackling this too).

I didn’t notice a reduction in my pain levels over the month, which i was disappointed with, especially as there is clinical evidance that there is a link between sugar and fibromyalgia pain, but I did notice that my energy levels definitely improved significantly and my levels of focus and concentration also improved a little, which again, is another great reason to stay away from sugar.

Im very aware that Christmas is around the corner and I am human and I am going to just not focus on it during the Christmas period, but apart from this period, I am going to try to eradicate processed sugar from my diet as much as I can.

Do you have any experience with the connection between sugar and energy levels, brain function or pain levels? let me know, Im really interested to see who else has experienced something similar.

rachellcuthbert

New Idea, what do you think?

15 July 2020 at 05:52

After TikTok permanently banned my 13,000 follower account unfairly (kids mucking about i think), I started another account and for a while I was still mad about having my account banned.  I would write emails to as many people and addresses I could find who were associated with it, I would message them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and even Linkedin, claiming their mistake and asking for my account back.

I then started to notice something new was happening, maybe it was the lockdown and it had encouraged more people who wouldn’t have normally downloaded the app to try it, or maybe it was my content, but my followers grew quite quickly, but more than that, my likes went through the roof!  By the time I got to 2,000 followers, I had 50,000 likes!  I was astounded as my old account had 70+000 at 13,000 followers.

I looked into it a little more and I noticed that comments were beautiful and so encouraging and when I finally went live again (terrified of losing my account again), the people who came on to chat who were followers, were beautiful, so kind and we started having some lovely conversations.  I’ve even become a TikTok mum to a few.

This encouraged me to continue and produce as good a quality video as I could with my abilities and they were rewarded.  I then decided to do a Q & A video which received fabulous feedback and whats more, for every question I received, I did a video answer and the response to this was amazing.  I was seeing something I had never seen with my old account.

So, I started looking into types of TikToks I could do that people would find interesting and as I am deeply passionate about being proud to be English, I thought about topics I could do that encourages others to start being proud too, not forgetting all the shameful things our ancestors did, but to find other facts that we can be proud of.

Ive looked into the best way to deliver TikToks to get quality viewing and more likes etc and it would seem that I have found a format that works for me, I post 4 times a day currently, but I may increase that; around 0730, 1130, 1500 and 1830 and I post a Q&A video, a comedy sketch, an old video or duet and a ‘did you know’ video.

I’ve also been approved to be an influencer, so companies have the ability to approach me to advertise their products and there is a current auction to win a 30 minute Zoom call 1-1 with me on a site called Tikmeetstok.com.  The highest bidder wins and 100% of the proceeds will be going to my musical theatre company who’ve not made any money this year due to lockdown.

My question is this, do I continue to keep letting Tiktok know that they made a mistake in banning my account (im very stubborn) and they should reinstate it, or should I just let it go and enjoy my wonderful new account?

rachellcuthbert

And now it’s May already!

19 May 2020 at 15:31

Can you believe it?  Im not sure I can, it’s not as if we have all been focussed on something else going on is it?

 

Well, fortunately, my family are all well at the time of writing this and I do not personally know anyone who has passed from the illness and only a few who have contracted the illness to date.

 

I have been fortunate enough to be able to carry on creating my funny videos on the social media platform, TikTok and I decided to copy and paste them to Facebook so that all my beautiful maternity colleagues could see them and lift their moods, this way i felt i was helping in my own way.  I have received many comments to confirm that they are having the desired effect.

 

Then – BOOM, last week, whilst having a nice chilled conversation with some of my followers on TikTok during a live session, my account was permanently banned for apparent multiple violations of their community guidelines.  I was completely shocked to the core and had to investigate immediately.  Upon doing so, i couldnt really find anything that was that obvious, the only thing that i thought might have happened is while my followers were discussing strange things that they had eaten, i mentioned that my daughter had once drank bleach, in a throw away comment (and because we had discussed bullying the day before) i said it was when she had attempted suicide.  Now, Im thinking that this was seen as encouraging dangerous behaviour, which it most definitely wasnt.

 

Im devastated to say the least, being stuck at home due to my disability and not being able to do my musical theatre because of quarantine, TikTok was the one outlet I had that I looked forward to doing and enjoyed immensely.  Ive created a second account but it means starting all over again and its just so demoralising.

 

Im emailing whoever I can that may help me get my account back, but Ive no idea if it will help.

 

Anyway, this is all ive got to say on this for now

rachellcuthbert

Hello again, hello

14 January 2020 at 10:52

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last posted anything.  And what a year it was!

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Not the worst year of my life to date, but wow, it was really up there!

I wasn’t in a good place to start the year, my parents had decided to move back to their home town at my brothers suggestion, so that someone could care for them as they got older (it must have been assumed that I couldn’t do it with my illnesses).  This totally floored me, all my family are from and in the north, we moved to Shropshire when I was 11 and it was always my intention to move away as I’ve never felt happy here, but with one thing and another, I’ve never managed to take that plunge, so now (apart from my husband and children), I’m on my own here as far as family is concerned.  This announcement had played a large part in my mental health hitting the floor again and once again, I was struggling so much that dying was the only way I could think of to stop the pain.  The crisis team were called and I was put back on the medication that took so long to wean off from the year before.

I was also performing in a musical theatre production (as always), however, I was really struggling with this too.  A few years before, someone had said to me, I’d be perfect for Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard and so I watched it and fell in love with the show.  Then the opportunity came up in my company.  I had singing lessons to make sure my voice was as good as it could be for the audition and I watched a variety of leading ladies play the role to gain as much understanding of the character as I could.  My audition went really well (in my mind and that was great as I really struggle with high anxiety levels in auditions normally) and I came out really believing I had given a leading performance and had an excellent chance of getting the role.  But this was not the case, another lady (who has an amazing voice and stage presence) got the role and whilst I did not begrudge her getting it or the production team for choosing her, I just couldn’t deal with this decision.  I felt as though, I was delusional to think I was good enough and was making a fool of myself to even try and finally decided I’d never audition again.  Worse than that, I then found that whilst I loved watching the show, being in it was a totally different story.  There isnt a whole lot for the chorus to do in this show and what there is to do, is extremely difficult with harmony parts and it just didnt seem to come together and was extremely frustrating.  The cast didnt seem to have fun with this show either, which felt awful as with all previous shows, we found ways to really get involved and enjoy it, but maybe it was because of the lack of involvement or the difficulty level, the cast just felt flat (or maybe this was just my perception as my depression was hitting hard just before Christmas 2018 and rehearsals started in December and the show was performed in April.

My parents moved out of our family home and we took them to Newcastle and to their new home.  Once stepping through the front door, it was incredible how it felt right for them to be there and part of my sadness about their decision melted.  Plus, the decision to visit as often as I could, which meant I would see my brother’s children more, felt good as I adore my home town so much, plus my daughter was at the University there, so I  could see her more often too.

When I was a child, one of my favourite films to watch was ‘The Sound of Music’ and this was the next show that the musical theatre company were doing, so I was really looking forward to being in this show, although, only as a choral member.  Then I managed to get the courage to get audition material for 2 roles, neither of which I really wanted, but thought auditioning would help me get back on the horse.  The baroness was the role I really thought I’d be best at, however, I really didn’t like her songs or the way the production team wanted her played and the Mother Abbess felt old and uninteresting and ‘Climb every Mountain’ was the ONLY song in the film that I didn’t like (it sounded like a strangled cat singing).  Plus it was hinted to me that my voice wouldn’t be able to sing the top A note of the song as I normally sing mezzo soprano.  This was the comment that made me more interested as I know I’ve got a 4 octave range and have sang soprano before, but only sing mezzo because it’s more difficult and interesting.  Then when I sang with the other auditionees, I totally nailed the note and felt a lot more confident about it.  That was until the lady who played Norma, was going for the same roles, my confidence left me and I did not believe I could be as good and so what was the point.  My best friend was on the production team and advised that I didn’t pull the audition, but wait to see how I felt on the day.  I was convinced I wasn’t going to bother, anxiety levels just led me to think I’d never get the role.  Then about 2 hours before my audition, I thought to myself ‘I will do the audition, knowing I won’t get it, but at least I’ll have got back on the horse again’ and I went into my audition with this frame of mind.  I don’t know how it went on a personal level as that part of my brain shut down, probably from getting it so wrong on previous occasions.  I think I had to then wait a week for the results as they held call backs for certain roles.  I only went and got Mother Abbess!

Rehearsals were horrific for the first couple of months as I had imposter syndrome and truly didn’t believe I was right for the role and that the production team had made a mistake or just given me the role because of what happened last time, or some other ridiculous reason (which I know for a fact to be insane as they were as fair as any other production team).  I couldn’t sing the song in front of other cast members in case I made a mistake and they could also see I wasn’t in the right role and would have panic attacks and actually cry and shout because I got myself so worked up about it!  Luckily I have some amazing friends in Tadlop and they really helped me to calm down, plus the musical director would give me advice on singing certain notes and styles which really improved my ability and confidence.  By the time show week came around, my confidence in my ability had returned and I had grown to love the song as I totally made it my own, no strangling sounds, but a powerful voice emerged and sang.  The compliments I received were phenomenal and had me in tears and even some members were still watching out for me and encouraging me right through, massive love for them!

In the middle of my parents move and show week, there were 3 more enormous events.

The most emotional being my wonderful mother in law became ill and passed away.  She hadn’t been well for a few years and was an incredibly strong woman, who defied the odds.  She had been given 48 hours to live 3 years ago and came back from it and then again in May, was given a short time, but improved again.  My husband and I would regularly go out with his parents on a Sunday to get them both out of the house, respite for dad and change of scenery for mum and I grew closer to them than ever during this time.  Then unfortunately, she took a turn at the beginning of the school holidays and we were told that there would be no coming back from this.  She was transferred to our local hospice who were true angels with all of us and she passed peacefully there with her family around her.  There was so much love in that room, it was incredible to experience and whilst it was a terribly sad time, I’m so glad and humbled to have been a part of it.

The week leading up to this was my 50th birthday, which was not what I had dreaded.  For years, I’ve been afraid of dying and all that it entails (including ageing), but from seeing the care that mum received, reduced this fear greatly and my mental approach changed and almost overnight, I would announce my age without hesitation, whereas before, I’d avoid answering completely.  I had a party too which I totally embraced and had the best time with some really special friends.  I still don’t like the getting older part of life and all it brings, I’ve got enough shit going on with this body and its illnesses, I really don’t need all the extra that old age brings!  However, I do now love seeing peoples expressions when I tell them how old I am.

In September, one of my best friends who introduced me to TIKTOK and I went to Basildon, Essex to a TikTok meet up for content creators.  I started doing TikToks in November 2018 and slowly loved it more and more and became better and better at it.  Then from mid 2019, I was flying, I had a viral video out which is still being watched and liked (400k views and 24,9k likes so far) and I was totally hooked on it.  The meet up was to network with others, gain new followers, get some awesome ideas and create some incredible content.  The weekend was fabulous, we had a great time and have already booked our hotel for this years event.

My pain seems to be getting worse, I’ve noticed my Tramadol no longer has the effect on me it once did and sleep has not respite for it at all.  I have finally been referred to the pain clinic and I’m really hoping to find ways other than meds to help alleviate it.

The happy pills have kicked in properly and I’m coping better with life, I still have days where I just want to be dead to stop the pain, exhaustion, depression, lifestyle that I now have to take, experience, live.  But it is usually very fleeting and I can see through to the other side of it.

I’m no longer on the list for bariatric surgery as I have been unable to attend appointments due to my illness, so they have taken me off the list, plus, I’ve researched and found that because I’ve had a gastric ulcer and have oesophagitis, the band (which is the only option I’d consider) is more likely to have complications and possibly not work.

Anyway, this is where I currently am, I have another supporting lead role in our current production of ‘Guys and Dolls’  and I’m looking forward to seeing what this year brings.

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rachellcuthbert

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France

9 September 2018 at 07:39

France is NOT one of my ‘F’ words, I adore the country, the people, the lifestyle and the climate (in some regions).

I’ve been home a week today from a wonderful 10 day family holiday there and I’m having serious withdrawals from it already. It’s 1 of 2 countries where I really want to live (the other being New Zealand).

We love to regularly visit France, it’s so close and has so much to offer. My husband has a love of military history and as I’m sure you can imagine, France has a bucket load to see. As soon as we get off the Eurotunnel, we are surrounded by a wealth of history from world wars 1&2. We regularly visit places that were significant battle sites or cemeteries showing the vast number of lives lost, fighting for their cause.

This time, we were driving to Poitou Charentes and rather than driving the full stretch in one go, we decided to break it up into 2 days and visit sites we’d not been to before. We all agreed to visit The Somme region, hubby did some research and took us to Thiepval, a commonwealth war graves memorial, where 70,000 names of men missing in action are etched into the structure. It’s hard to describe the emotions it induced, a very sobering experience, which I’m glad to have seen as it has an enormous impact on visualising the sense of loss and the pointlessness of war. Then onto a vast crater (lochnagare), created when allied forces tunnelled under the German lines and set off explosives, killing themselves as well as the enemy. The site has information about the men tasked to this mission, their last letters home and testaments and poems from those that witnessed the event, again, very moving.

Emotionally drained, we stayed overnight enroute to our destination and the following day, was a short drive (4 hours) to our holiday, where we were greeted by our closest friends (who had been there a week already), with a welcome cold beer and chilli.

The next week consisted of us emerging into French culture as much as possible, speaking French as much as I could, baking my bones in the sun, swimming in the beautiful pool and thoroughly relaxing. My constant, daily pain, reduced significantly (I can only remember pain on one evening and (unfortunately) my regular night pains during the whole duration (10 days). The heat definitely reduced my pain and because of this, I was able to relax more effectively and this then led to me having energy (which I can’t remember having for the past 2 years), which was wonderful! No afternoon naps needed at all, which was wonderful.

On returning home, within 24 hours of being in cloudy, cold and wet England, my pain returned, which triggered my low mood and exhaustion, making me switch back and forth from wanting to move to France to thinking I should never go on holiday if this is how I feel when I get home 😩.

A week on and I’m getting used to daily pain and exhaustion again and am already looking at future holiday destinations as well as properties to buy so I can live relatively pain free again, ahh nice, if unrealistic dreams zzzzzzzz

rachellcuthbert

Never too old to learn something new

6 June 2018 at 05:17

Sick of feeling guilty about being unable to walk dogs (they pull, I’m broken), so bought 2 new harnesses which dramatically reduce the amount of pulling and as part of my fabulous weight loss, I want to start exercising again, to improve my health/reduce symptoms.

I’ve been feeling more energetic this week (vitamin d supplements working?), so decided I would take them down to Blists Hill museum as it’s only a 5-10 minute walk away.

Going there was great, dogs not pulling, so back not having spasms, got down to the field, let them off for a run – all great 😎

Decided not to go any further as it’s a 45* incline all the way home.

OMG I needed an O2 mask and leg splints up that incline, especially as the dogs weren’t pulling me up it!!

1. Taking it slowly from now on

2. Vitamin D intake – tick

3 May be lying down for the rest of today!!!!

rachellcuthbert

10 things you didn’t know about me

5 March 2018 at 07:17

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1. I was born on the last day of the Woodstock Festival (although not at the festival itself)

2. My favourite colour is lilac/lavender shades

3. I feel most like I’m at home when in New Zealand

4. As a child I was told that you fart if you wear green knickers and to this day, I still can’t wear them!

5. I once fell off a cliff and landed on the only flat rock!  I still have a large dent in my hip from it.

6. My earliest memory is from the age of 2, being in Canada, at a relatives house and I can still navigate around it although I’ve never been back.

7. I can vibrate/ shake my eyeballs

8. Even though I’ve worked as a midwife, I feel nauseous with all body fluids/secretions other than blood.

9. I have sang since I was a child and have been in a number of bands/choirs, have made a single and had it played on radio

10. Once, whilst on a trip to USA, I had an anaphalactic shock to the number of cats in the property I was staying in and had to have adrenaline to help me breathe

rachellcuthbert

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My new leaf has been turned

26 November 2017 at 08:54

Finally decided to stop letting my illnesses, stresses and out of my control worries run my life!

So I’m putting effort into what I enjoy doing and what I’m good at. With a friend, we’ve opened an online (for now) Boutique selling artisan jewellery and handmade gifts. I would like to think we can get to a stage where we make more than we spend and I can tell the government what they can do with the pittance of a disability benefit I get, that is supposed to replace my earnings from when I worked (HAHAHAHA – NOT!!).

Anyway, I’m tired of feeling worthless and pointless and sick of feeling jealous and grief when looking at my midwife colleagues lives in photos. I have some amazing friends, I am very lucky to have some skills in the arts and so I’m putting them to use, when I can.

I still have days where pain and exhaustion disable me from doing these, but I’m accepting these days and not letting them influence my mindset on the Boutique. I do what I can do, when I can do it, goodness knows if it was a paid job, I’d have been sacked on the first day due to minimal productivity for the time used.

So, I’d like to present to you, our Boutique, please drop by and have a look at what we do. Also please let me know suggestions of things you’d like to see or what you think would be popular. Thank you

We are on Etsy under BirdysboutiqueGB, on Instagram under birdysboutique2017, on Twitter under @Birdys_Boutique and on Facebook as Birdy’s Boutique

Loves xxxx

rachellcuthbert

I am a lion, hear me ROAR!

8 April 2017 at 03:13

 

 

 

As a teenage girl, my friends and I regularly read our horoscopes and rather than review whether it fit who we were, we would ‘make it fit’.  We would pick out all the generic personality traits and, of course, believed that they applied to us because of our birth date and disregard anything that didn’t fit.

We would also look at which zodiac sign was the most suitable as a partner and get excited when we read that ‘ love was just around the corner’ as well as ‘come into money’ and other sorts of possible coincidentals.

This being said, however, I did love being centre of attention and loved being dramatic and creative and I am, and have always been an honest person and detest dishonesty of any kind.

I look at myself now and doubt that horoscopes can apply to life as one gets older.  How can it? We all live different lives, have different trials and tribulations and come out of situations in very different ways, leading to ‘baggage’.  My ‘baggage’ has led me to avoid social situations like the plague!

I think that as humans, those that look at horoscopes are searching for something and as horoscopes are so generic and can be applied to anyone, they can be believed by this type of person.  But this person, is no longer me.

 

 

 

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rachellcuthbert

What do I miss?

6 April 2017 at 16:07

Being housebound, due to my illnesses, has had me thinking regularly about what I miss and, due to my age and life experience to date, I’ve found that I miss a lot of things.

For instance, I miss living in the North East of England, even though I left when I was 11, but part of my family are still there and I love going to visit and grieve when I leave.  I miss being healthy, young, I miss being a midwife, I also miss being a nanny in London and my wonderful time in New Zealand.  I often think about these things.

just lately, life has become a bit more testing to say the least and I am reacting (in my opinion) very badly to it, both physically and emotionally.  It came to a point yesterday when I was so convinced that everyone has a secret agenda and all are out to get me, that I lost my temper (happening a lot more frequently lately) and started snapping at anyone and everyone.

sittting down today and contemplating what happened has led me to realise that what I miss the most is my innocence.  The part of me growing up when I always saw the good in people and everyone was a friend and I’d do anything for anyone.  Naive, yes, looking at life through rose tinted glasses, absolutely and until I saw life through a parents eyes, that’s who I was, and it’s that person I miss the most. I did get hurt by people and used, so there is a part of me that is glad that I’ve changed for that reason.  But, on the whole, I’d probably still want to be that person again!!

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rachellcuthbert

A day in the life of ……

4 March 2017 at 04:07

 

I’m supposed to be journalling my mood, thoughts, food, activity and pain levels every day so that I can look to see if there is a connection between any of them, but as memory problems are part of one of my illnesses, I regularly forget.

However, I remembered today and thought I’d share it with you.

5.45 – woken by husbands alarm as he is needing to leave early for work.

6.20 – woken again by the dogs after having an awful nights sleep from pain thanks to a flare.

6.30 – usual routine; coffee, check emails and social media updates.

7 – middle child woken to get ready for school (youngest not going in til later – whole other story, which I’m not ready to share yet). Dogs fed.

8.15 – take middle child to school

8.45 – breakfast & plan the day

9.00 – wake youngest child

9.30 – wake eldest so that he can watch dogs.

9.45 – take youngest to appointment then school

11.00 – home, start making crowns for Game of Thrones panto

11.45 – lunch

12.45 – drive to appointment

2.30 – lie down to rest as pain is at a level 6-7

3.30 – unable to sleep as pain is now level 8, TENS machine commenced

5.00 – TENS barely effective, unable to cook dinner, TENS continues

6.45 – drive to Game of thrones rehearsal

9.45 – finish rehearsal, pain reduced to a level 4-5 with distraction and TENS as well as meds.

11.30 – bed

I probably did other stuff, but not worth documenting.  This was an extremely busy day for me.

 

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rachellcuthbert

My top 5 films

1 March 2017 at 04:31

 

  1.  The lord of the rings – The fellowship of the ring.  Wow how much do I love this film?!  I watch this and immediately, I am transported into middle earth and I want to stay there!  I’ve put this first as I love the opening scenes of hobbiton and the colour green that brings it to life and also because it takes me to Lothlorien, where I’d live if given the opportunity.
  2.  The lord of the rings – The return of the king.  This may sound a bit bizarre, but I love this for the mouth of Sauron.  The imagination of this creature is incredible. I also love that Eowyn kills the witch king as she ‘is no man’!
  3.  The lord of the rings – The two towers.  I love this for treebeard, but I wish there could be more from the book with his character.
  4.  The sound of music.  Takes me back to my childhood, I love this film so much.  I love the songs, the story, the fact that is is based on a real life story and it is beautiful.
  5.  The green mile. It is just one of those films that I can’t stop watching.  The cruelty, the gentleness and the range of emotions that it brings, leads me to count this in my top 5.

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rachellcuthbert

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