Tag Archive for: feelings

Acceptance of a life changed

I sort my medication out on a Sunday. I have one of those pill boxes with all the days on it and separate compartments for times of the day. On a Sunday, I sort out my medication for the following week, bursting the foil packets and popping out the pills. Monday: Morning, Dinner, Tea, Evening. Tuesday, Wednesday, everyday. I look at my bedroom bin filled with the empty containers. I scroll through my repeat medication list on the website. Scroll, I actually scroll as it’s so long.

But this week it feels different, I suddenly recognise that this is routine now, habit. That those repeat prescriptions are a sign of a life changed. The repeat, repeat, repeat, its my life but not the one I expected to have. I am 40 this year and I suddenly see myself as how I am. And its a shock you know. It shouldn’t be a shock, its been eight years now of surgeries, hospitals, medication, pain, struggle. But I feel the shock and wonder if this is acceptance?

I thought I had dealt with these feelings, I thought I had accepted. But maybe I only accepted a temporary change and thought at some point, my life would return to ‘normal’. Maybe that is my mistake, thinking that ‘normal’ meant the same as before when in reality, every persons normal is different at different points in their lives.

I feel loss. Like I don’t know who I am any more. When I look in the mirror I am not too sure who I see looking back at me and that scares me. The person I thought I would be, the person I was has gone. Well maybe not gone, but is buried somewhere that I am not sure I will ever find again. And I am not sure who is left.

I suppose that what I am trying to describe is grief. I know I need to reach acceptance and to get there I think I need to grieve a little. And I feel bad saying this in a time when so many are actually grieving the death of their loved ones, it feels selfish. But I do feel like I am filled with grief.

I hate that I take so many pills just to get through the day. I hate that I am weak, and tired, and in pain each day. I can’t stand the limitations in my life, that I can’t walk far, that I can’t do the things I want to do, the things I thought I would be doing. I want to go for long walks, to explore, to run and jump and skip and play and dance.

I hate how my body looks. Which is hard to admit as I think I had gotten to a place of self love. But now I look at myself naked in the mirror and all I see are scars, and lumps and I feel I look grotesque and disfigured. That is a painful thing to say here, because I know that if I heard anyone say that about themselves then I would leap to their defence! I would tell them they were beautiful and perfect and that they were the king or queen of the whole god damn world!!

I feel that I let people down all the time. That my illness and pain makes me not enough. Im not a good enough mum, not enough of a wife or a friend. And that is hard to accept. Because I know I am trying my hardest and actually I know that is enough. But it feels like such a raw deal for the people I love.

I have been looking back on old photographs recently and I see myself and I wonder where she went. I don’t know, it is weird and I don’t even know if this post is making sense. I just feel so crappy and I thought I would blurt it all out on the page so apologies if this is a bit all over the place but I suppose it is because I am all over the place.

But as negative as this post is, I think that the recognition of how I am feeling is a step forward in the journey of acceptance.

I try and find the positives, and I know that I am incredibly lucky in so many ways, I have a brilliant husband and children and so many brilliant friends and family. I live in a nice home, I am safe, I have food in the cupboard and money in the bank. I am privileged in so many ways and I am grateful of all the good things in my life.

I don’t think my life will ever look like it did before all the surgeries started, but maybe different is ok. Different doesn’t mean worse, it just means an alternative to what I expected. So I need to carry on learning to accept and having gratitude and love for the things I do have and for the future, however that may look.

Peace and love


I feel so lost

This is a post from my facebook page, I just wanted to explain where I am right now. But I am posting this at 4am because after a long time, I just sat up in bed and thought ‘I want to write’. So I am hoping there will be more blog posts coming soon.

I feel so lost at the minute.

This time last year I had a job I loved, I had my own radio show on the BBC, I was blogging and I thought my surgery had been successful and the future felt bright.

Right now I’m recovering from 9th surgery. I have no job, the radio show has been put on hold due to corona and I just feel like I dont even know who I am any more.

During the last surgery in hospital I was really poorly. My bowel didnt wake up from the op for 17 days and then my kidneys packed in. I had a stage 3 AKI and I was very very ill, they said I was lucky to have come through.

And at the time you are just surviving. Getting through each hour, each day. But now I have time to reflect and i feel quite traumatised by it all. 

Then to come home to the world turning upside down with corona, lockdown and so many people dying. It is all a bit much.

The one thing I’ve always loved is writing. But I have lost my confidence even with that. I try to blog and just stare at the screen. I just have lost it. 

That’s why there have been no updates. But I’m trying. I’m writing this on my phone so it doesnt feel like “real writing”. 

I just feel a bit hollow and that I have nothing to give. 

So I’m sorry I’m absent and miserable right now. I’m going to try working on me and I’ll be about as much as I can. Because I bloody love sobadass, both the blog and on fb. I have avoided because I dont feel I am a good writer and I dont want to be sharing crap. 

I am lost, traumatised, sad and empty. And when you feel like this, you feel like you have no talent, nothing special and nothing to give to others. 

But I am trying. And I’ll keep trying.

✌?& ❤ 
Sam xx

Who am I?

Sometimes I wonder who I am, especially in times of recovery, I feel the person I am or was drifts away as it’s trapped in a body that in so many ways, has failed me.

Who I feel I am is someone very independent yet right now I am so dependent on those around me.

I feel I’m an adventurer yet I stay in my bed so often.

I feel I’m a worker but I’ve been off work now for a month.

I feel I’m a doer yet I can’t do so many of the things I want to do.

I love cooking and dancing and walking my dogs and having dinner parties and gardening and traveling and visiting people and helping others but right now I struggle to do any of these things.

sam cleasby mizoram aizawl

I know this is temporary but I feel I’ve been in this temporary state since the beginning of the year at least, my hernia was bad from last year and I’ve had two surgeries this year so far so it’s been a while and I suppose it just starts to make you question a lot of things.

Its hard to be unwell for so long but always in the recovery stage, if I knew I’d always be a wheelchair user then I could start to rebuild my life around that, to figure out how to bring the things I love into an accessible way. But when you’re in a place where you should be improving over time it can feel like you’re in limbo.

I don’t want to complain as I know how lucky I am but it’s hard sometimes, I do start to question who I am and how I’ll ever get back to feeling like me.

Whatever happens I know I’ll get there, and I can always answer the question ‘who am I?’ with ‘I’m so bad ass!’

✌? & ❤

Sam x

It’s #TimeToTalk

Today is #TimeeToTalk day, a day of awareness of mental health challenges.

It’s a day that brings the nation together to get talking and break the silence around mental health problems.

“Too often, people who experience a mental health problem are also expected to take the lead on talking about mental health in the wider sense. Time to Talk Day encourages everyone to talk about mental health.

Mental health problems affect one in four of us yet people are still afraid to talk about it. For people with mental health problems not being able to talk about it can be one of the worst parts of the illness.

So by getting people talking about mental health we can break down stereotypes, improve relationships, aid recovery and take the stigma out of something that affects us all.”

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

Ive been quite open and honest about my struggles with mental health, though at times it was really hard to find the words.

After years of chronic illness and surgeries, my mental health took a real battering. I knew it and I tried seeking help through some talking therapy, this did help me sort out a lot of things from my childhood and past and I thought I was getting better.

Then in August last year, I fell into a pit. It snuck up on me until I realised that I was not well.  I am in two minds whether to admit this but I felt so low that I considered ways to kill myself.

I felt worthless. Worse than worthless, I felt like a burden to everyone around me, I felt that my very being made life worse for all the people I love. I felt like ending it all was the wisest decision.

What is scary now is that at that time, this felt like a totally rational and sensible decision. I remember googling ‘can you be suicidal and not depressed?’ as I really couldn’t see that these weren’t normal feelings.

It actually scares me to think back on this time, I could see no light, I felt stuck in this quicksand that pulled me down and held me fast but still allowed my head to be up in the real world so I could see everyone around me feeling happy and living wonderful lives.

I thought about running away from home a lot, about just packing a bag and disappearing, I fantasised about just going and leaving everything behind.  And then I felt extreme guilt about thinking about leaving my beautiful family.

I was in a cycle of bad thoughts and guilt.

It came to a head one day when it all came tumbling out, I cried and screamed and shouted at Timm. I lost it, pushing him away and telling him the horrible things that were going through my head.

I had 100% convinced myself that he was having an affair. I couldn’t imagine why he would want to be with me and I was so paranoid and lost that it became the truth.

I feel so sad now thinking back on this, I barely recognise myself in my own words.

The one thing that kept me going was my kids, my amazing children who I knew I would hurt more than I was hurting myself if I wasn’t here.

I read a quote once that said:

Suicide doesn’t take away the pain, it just passes it on to someone else.

And that quote kept me going.

I eventually went to the doctors and I was faced with the most caring and compassionate GP who put all my fears to one side. He took his time and talked through everything, he listened and told me it was all ok. That the feelings I was having were frightening but that lots of people have them.

He told me that my thoughts of running away or ending it were my brain going through options but the fact that I’d made the decision to be there in his office showed that I had chosen the right option.

I started on antidepressants last year and the difference is amazing. This imbalance in my head was addressed and slowly, those feeling ebbed away.

There was no switch, no instant recovery. But one day I realised that I hadn’t had bad thoughts for a few days. My GP said it’s like the sun rising in the morning, if you keep watch it takes so long, but if you turn away to make a brew, you come back and realise that the sun is here.

Im still taking my tablets, they have been life changing but the other thing that has helped so much is opening up and talking to the people I love.

Its hard to admit you’re struggling, but my husband and my close friends listened, loved and didn’t judge and I’m forever grateful.

So there we go, today was my #timetotalk I hope you can find someone to talk to if you are having a tough time right now.

Thanks for taking the time to read

sam xx


I am rubbish at sharing my feelings

You may read this title and laugh, after all this whole blog is filled with my feelings. I post a few times a week eloquently and whole heartedly sharing how I am feeling with the whole world.  If anything, I’m an over sharer! I tell you lot intimate and private parts of my life and chuck a few photos in to boot. 

So what am I talking about? Well, talking.  You see, as much as I can blurt out my inner demons on this page, and even when I do public speaking or media I am perfectly happy and able to speak out about all manner of feelings, emotions and experiences.  Yet, I find it ridiculously difficult to speak to the people I love. 

I told you all in my last blog post that I have two hernias and that I’m feeling terrible.  I’m scared, angry and really devastated.  This, of course, means that I’ve had real life friends and family reach out to me to help. To listen. To be there. 

Yet I just can’t open up. I gloss over, I make a joke, I change the subject.  If pushed, I will briefly say that I’m upset and unhappy but then I move on.  I just wonder why I’m like this when I can pour my heart out on this blog?  

I do speak to Timm. I am honest and allow him in.  We’ve talked all weekend about how I feel, how he feels, how he can help me.  He’s held me as I wept, listened to me rant and told me I’m a nobhead when I said that this wasn’t getting any easier and perhaps my life will now be filled with health complications so if he wanted to leave now, he could. 

I’ve got some wonderful friends and family, and it makes me sad that I struggle to reach out to them.  It’s not because of them, I love and trust them and know they want to help me.  I think there’s a big part of my personality that is a people pleaser, I want to make others happy and so I sometimes feel like I’m bringing others down if I tell them how I feel. 

I know this is cliched as hell but I think a big part of my issues go back to my father leaving and not giving a shit about me as a child.  I suppose I always worry that people will leave me, that I’m unlovable therefore I need to be as easy to be around as possible to make sure people stay. 

I do talk to friends, but I wish I could find it easier to open up and lay my feelings on the table. To ask for help and allow others to be there for me. It’s so important to talk to those closest to you, I say time and again in replies to messages I get, that we have to be open and let people in. Yet I’m probably not following that advice myself. 

And so I’m going to try and make an effort to speak out IRL (as the kids say… In Real Life for the oldies!) and not let the demons of my past affect my present and my future. 

Thank you for all the kind messages I’ve received in the past few days, you guys are awesome. 
Sam xx 


I’m feeling pretty down today and it’s because I feel really disappointed. My mum said earlier something that struck me, “you throw yourself into things and people 100% and then you’re disappointed when others don’t do the same.”

I think she’s right and I think that’s my problem rather than other people’s. 

I am an enthusiastic person and I probably have too high expectations of others. I believe in people and then I feel let down when they aren’t what I thought.  

I get cancelled on a lot. And I do wonder whether it’s just coincidence or whether I’m doing something wrong? Am I over the top? Am I too open? I try and please a lot, I know that. I want people to like me and I feel sick to my stomach when I think someone doesn’t like me or when they walk away. 

A lot of it probably comes down to my dad leaving. I think I have abandonment issues, then in the past few months three close family members have decided they don’t want to be part of my life and that’s tough. 

I have been trying to arrange an event for Crohns and Colitis UK and have found myself overwhelmed with the work and lack of support.  Today we’ve had to cancel the event because we didn’t sell any where near enough tickets. I am absolutely gutted and feel I’ve let down the charity. But I also feel really disappointed that others didn’t really pull together to get it off the ground. 

This is probably unfair of me, again my expectations of others have led to my own disappointment. I have to take responsibility for this, no one else has the ability to make me feel disapointed, it’s my own ideals that have done it and I don’t have the right to put expectations on other people. 

I think I’m just feeling a bit sorry for myself, I know I am so lucky to have some wonderful friends and family and I think I need to focus more on the people who care about me than on those who don’t. 
Sam X 

How we look and how we feel

Before 2013, I didn’t have the best body confidence.  I was a size 16 with stretch marks and wobbly bits, I had carried, birthed and fed three big babies (9lb9oz, 8lb1oz, 11lb) with one c-section to boot.  Before I had kids, I was a size 8, after my first I was a size 16 and that weight never really shifted.

I was constantly dieting, I would lose weight but then gain it all back again plus a little more.  I hated my body, I thought it was flabby and ugly, it wibbled and wobbled and definitely didn’t look like the women in magazines.  After years of this, it started to piss me off and I sort to find better role models, I stopped buying crappy women’s weekly mags whose aim in life is to point out the flaws of women, I started to think about the qualities that were important in life, rather than the physical appearance of a person.

But it was hard, and mainly I just felt a bit sad and disappointed in my body.  I have been a size 16 for 15 years now and I have learnt that society views me as fat.   I can’t always buy clothes I want as shops either don’t go up to a 16 or they don’t have them in stock.  I know that on the BMI scale I am in the upper part of overweight and when I go out in town, I see people judging me.  But I carried on, with the ever changing diet and dreams of skinniness.

And then in September 2013, I got so ill with Ulcerative Colitis that I had to have surgery to remove my colon and give me an ileostomy bag and everything changed. All of a sudden my focus wasn’t on the number in the back of my dress, or the size of my backside, it was on survival and recovery, of getting over the surgery and learning to live with a bag of poo on my tummy.  All of a sudden, all those worries over calories and cellulite, fat bits and wobbly arses seemed silly.

I have been looking back at photographs of myself and I realise that the things I look at aren’t how big my thighs are, or my stretch marks but that I am healthy and happy.  Even though these images were taken during the 10 years I had with Ulcerative Colitis, they were also during remission periods.  I look at these now compared to my scarred and stoma’d stomach now and wish I had appreciated my body a little more!

sam cleasby body positive plus size ostomy

sam cleasby body positive plus size ostomy


The next photos were taken whilst I had my first ostomy, it had been a huge shock to me but I was happy to be feeling well.  I went travelling three months after surgery to Vietnam and Australia, it was hard work but it was so important to me to take control of my life and not let my stoma stop me.

During this time in my life I just felt so happy to be alive! I started to love my body, I celebrated that my body had survived the surgery and began to love myself.  I stopped giving a shit about my cellulite and I wasn’t concerned about my stretch marks, I was just grateful to have a body that worked.

sam cleasby body positive plus size ostomy

sam cleasby body positive plus size ostomy


The next shots are from after my reversal, I no longer had my ileostomy and had my jpouch, but the jpouch wasn’t working so well.  I started to feel panic about my body failing me again.  Thinking about my body physically stopped being about the parts society tells me are wrong, my weight, my scars, it was about my health.  My concern was that my pouch wasn’t working, that I was having accidents and that I was going to have to have more surgery.

Honestly, it was a sad time and I think you can see that in these photos.  I had accepted my body for it’s physical appearance but my health worries were a very difficult and heartbreaking time.  I regretted my decision to have the jpouch and I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

sam cleasby body positive plus size ostomy jpouch

nude beach stone balancing so bad ass sam cleasby


And we come to now… I am 6 weeks post op and I now have a permanent ileostomy, I have a bag for life!  How do I feel now? To be honest, I think it is just too early to say, I am relieved to not have pouchitis any more, I am happy that I don’t shit myself, but the bag is something I still need to get used to.

ileostomy bag stoma ostomy permanent ostomy after jpouch removal

I am being careful not to put my stress and unhappiness onto my stoma.

The past few months have been the hardest of my whole life, I had rejection over my book, I am moving house and have had 6 months of stress regarding this move, my grandfather passed away in January, I am feeling insecure in my writing and work and then I had major surgery!!!

I have so much on right now and life is very overwhelming, I take on so much and I think I need to step back from some things that aren’t vital.  I am a parent governor, I run the South Yorkshire Crohns and Colitis group, I work for lots of different people as a freelance writer and life is hectic.  My family is going through everything I am and my kids are stressed out, I am a swan, I am calm on the surface but paddling like fuck under the water.

So with all of this going on, I don’t want to put my emotional state solely on my stoma.  I am struggling, I feel anxious, overwhelmed and ever so sad, but with so much going on, I think I need to give myself a break.

What I refuse to do now though is to berate my body, to feel bad about it. I refuse to diet, I refuse to conform to how society wants me to look.  Everything I do regarding my body is going to be what I want, fuck everyone else.  This is MY body and it has gone through a lot, I am going to celebrate the fact that despite 4 surgeries in 3 years, I am still standing.

So #effyourbeautystandards and rejoice that we are here, we are unique, we are beautiful.  And I don’t need to be a white, size 6, able bodied 20 year old to be fucking awesome.

sam cleasby body positive plus size ostomy ileostomy colostomy


Comparison is the thief of joy 

I read this quote saying ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ and it felt very apt this week as I have fallen into the trap of comparing myself to others.  And my joy feels completely stolen.

Having a chronic illness and facing surgery soon that will give me a ‘bag for life’ in my permenant ostomy is taking it’s toll.  Not only physically, but emotionally too.

I’ve been comparing myself to everyone. To her career, her body, her free spirit, her perfectness.  I look at my sad, broken, scarred body and then look across at other women and feel thoroughly shit. I look at women with careers who are so clever and educated and brilliant and then feel bad about my cobbled together earnings. I see women living the dream, travelling the world, doing what they desire most and then look at my calendar filled with hospital dates.

sam cleasby blogger
Mainly, right now, it’s the body image thing.  And it’s hard for me to admit this as on this blog, I’m all about the positive body image. But this next surgery is so final. It will create an ostomy that can’t be reversed and so I know that for the rest of my life, I will have a bag attached to my stomach that collects poo.

I feel sorry for myself. There, I said it.

And even worse, I feel sorry for Timm. Poor lad really got the short straw when he ended up with me… I told him this during one of my wailing, howling sobs that have taken place this week. He smiled and said he’d got the most colourful and exciting straw. (That’s why we love him!)

It’s so easy to say that we should be positive about our bodies. And I do know I’m lucky to be here, still standing, after years of illness and surgery. But it’s fucking hard to be surrounded by images of ‘perfect’ women and to be imperfect.

On a good day, I can celebrate my ‘imperfections’. My size 16 body that has curves and soft skin, my strong, thick thighs and great rack.

On a bad day, I see fat, I see stretch marks, huge scars, boobs that sit that bit lower than before. And I think about the addition of another ostomy and it makes me cry.

I compare myself to women with ‘perfect’ bodies and make myself miserable.  I sit on this fine line between being terrified that my husband will leave me and the idea that he probably should as he’d be better off without me.

I think about how the man I love most in the whole world is also the man that I cause the most distress.  I worry about how much pressure he is put under every time I don’t feel well. I worry that it’s not fair to him. That he would be happier if I wasn’t here.

Having an illness or disability is fucking hard work.  It brings up so many feelings of pain and burden, shame and embarrassment. And these aren’t things that are easy to talk about.

But talk about them we must.

I don’t write them here to gain sympathy. I  don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. What I want, is to share these shitty feelings because I don’t think I’m alone in this!  I want to share in the hope that if someone else is struggling too, that they will feel less alone.

sam and timm cleasby

I write because saying those words out loud are painful but the inability to speak them allows them to grow and mutate in your mind till they become bigger than everything else.

I write because I want to give others the courage to talk to their loved ones about how they feel.  To talk about the bad thoughts as well as the good.

It’s ok to speak out. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to be angry.

Logically I can dissect my feelings and come up with appropriate answers.  I know when I’m hating on my fat, I need to remember that when I’m feeling good, I love my body. And I really do! I remember that I need to speak positively about my body because it is listening and I know that when my head isn’t such a mess that I believe I’m a motherfucking goddess!!! Seriously, I’m fucking delicious.

I know I don’t need to be a size 8 to be beautiful. I know that my scars are interesting and are there because my life was saved.  I know that my stretch marks are there because my body grew and housed the three best kids in the whole world.

And I know that when my ostomy is back, that it will be there to improve my life.

I’m going to try to stop comparing my life to anyone else’s.  Not one of us is perfect. We’re all facing our own battles and we compare our worst moments with another persons highlights. We’ll never win that one.

Comparison is the thief of joy.  Remember that.
Sam x

Wolf whistling is FINE! Right fellas?

These women who get pissed off about men wolf whistling need to wind their necks in, right? I mean, it’s just boys being boys!

Women should appreciate that men find them attractive! They should know it’s all a bit of fun, no harm done.

Guys, when you and your drunk buddies whistle, jeer and shout sexual comments at me as I stand alone on a train platform, I should enjoy it, shouldn’t I?

Only I actually feel threatened, scared and I decide to not get on your train and wait for the next one because a group of loud, drunk men make me fearful when they’re shouting at me to “get my tits out for the lads”.

When you and your builder colleagues whistle and call out to the woman as she walks past the building site, she should understand that it’s only a bit of fun.

Only it makes her self conscious and embarrassed. She pulls her coat a bit tighter, looks straight ahead and walks a little faster to just get past.

When you and your school pals talk loudly about the size of a girls tits as she is in ear shot, she should enjoy the attention, right?

Only when that’s your little sister, it makes her feel objectified and sexualised. And she’s in a fucking school uniform.

When you are in the office and stand just that little too close, you make a suggestive comment and a risqué joke to your female colleague, she should take it as a laugh, shouldn’t she!

Only when it’s your sister, it makes her  feel disrespected, angry and demoralised.

When you call out to a woman as you both walk alone at night, she should know you’re only being friendly.

Only when that’s your mum, she feels nervous and walks faster, head down, just hoping to get home safe.

sam cleasby ibd blogger sheffield chronic illness

It’s easy to assume that those who call out the wolf whistlers, the jeerers, the men who stand a little too close and who cross the line, that those people are over reacting.  It’s all bants mate!!! There’s no harm done is there?  Yet the reality is that this sort of behaviour is at best unsettling, at worst scary, upsetting  and bloody annoying.

I’m a confident person yet in the past few weeks have had all of these events either happen to me or someone close to me and both myself and the other people were upset and angry that we’d been subjected to it.

I know this isn’t all men. Most men are respectful and kind and lovely… But it is some men and the fact this happens in our day and age sucks.  The defence is always that women should see it as a compliment. Or a joke. Or being friendly. That we should get a sense of humour. Or stop being so sensitive. Or my all time fave internet comment, that I’m just a feminist dyke… (Hooray for all the feminist dykes!)

But it does still shock me. And yes, as I stood on a platform at 10.30pm after a day’s work, a train filled with drunken shouting men, whistling, calling out to me and chanting, scared me.  I made the decision to stand alone and wait for the next one.  I’m a loud, bolshy woman, yet I felt I couldn’t even meet the eyes of these men in case it provoked them further.

I’m not trying to be dramatic. And I’m aware that they were probably all nice fathers, brothers, colleagues. Perhaps they just didn’t think it would bother me? Maybe they weren’t thinking.  Perhaps alcohol was involved and it made them act in a different way to how they usually would.  I wonder who they are, as I don’t see it in the men I know, I don’t see my husband or friends wolf whistling and voicing their opinion on other peoples’ tits.

I felt powerless at that point but now safe at home, I know my power is in the written word. Maybe they’ll read this and think again next time. Perhaps the builder, the school boy, the colleague, the man on the train, the man walking home late, perhaps they can look and see their wife, sister, daughter, mother and understand that their words and actions may be affecting that person more than they think.

sam cleasby timm cleasby so bad ass sheffield

There are those that will undoubtably shout that it’s Political Correctness gone mad.  Who will say you can’t ever smile at a woman without being called a misogynist. Who will say that men can’t chat a woman up these days.  To you, I would say that my opinion is all about context. Of course it’s nice for strangers to smile! It’s nice to chat to people on the bus or at work. It’s great to joke with people you know are on your wave length. This is not about human kindness or even people being attracted and making conversation in the hope of letting someone know you are into them!

In my opinion, it’s about power.  The men on the train weren’t hoping to chat to me about myself. Unless you count their interest in my breasts. The builder isn’t hoping I stop and ask his opinion on current news. The man on the desolate dark street may well be friendly, but should be aware that it can be quite scary to be approached by a stranger at night.

Context and common sense is key.

And for those who will say that sometimes some women are sexually aggressive towards men, I would agree and say that too is wrong.

As I speak to my female friends, every single one had a story of feeling afraid, embarrassed or self conscious because of the actions and words of a man unknown to them.  Even more worrying though, every one had a story of being flashed, approached or having some interaction with a man who had being openly lewd and sexual. Seriously, every one. That’s scary.

When I was a kid, probably around 9 or 10, I was at a friends. As we skated up and down her road in our roller boots, the phone box rang. And it kept ringing every time we went past. Eventually we answered, I was secretly hoping that it would be the beginnings of an Enid Blyton style mystery. It wasn’t. It was a man, he was silly and made jokes. At first we were scared, then we were giggling away. He asked what I was wearing and I told him I was dressed as She-Ra. (I bloody loved She-Ra). He replied and said I was a liar and described my clothes. It was then we realised he was watching us and we skated away home to my friends home, terrified and crying.

That’s an awful story isn’t it. Yet I know Im not alone.

This has happened for a long time. It happened when I was a kid, a teen and it happens now. I just hope it’s something that will change so my daughter isn’t dealing with the same issues.

I don’t think that every builder who wolf whistles is a sexual predator waiting to pounce. But I do think it’s time for a change, time we stood up and explained how this behaviour makes some women feel.

And that’s why I support the Everyday Sexism project. Head over and check it out now.  They “catalogue instances of sexism experienced by women on a day to day basis. They might be serious or minor, outrageously offensive or so niggling and normalised that you don’t even feel able to protest.  By sharing your story you’re showing the world that sexism does exist, it is faced by women everyday and it is a valid problem to discuss.”

Sam xxx

I don’t know how to deal with sadness

“I don’t know how to deal with sadness” These are the words I said to a friend last week and more and more, I feel this is true.  My usual outlook is one of happiness, positivity and general silliness and so when I feel sad, I find it very difficult to know how to cope.

Things are quite tough at the minute, I’m getting over pouchitis and then there’s the whole prolapse thang going on. As I said in my past few posts, this has hit me hard and I just don’t know how to deal with the feelings that have come up.

I smile, I laugh, I joke. And I do mean it. But inside I have this chest thudding anxiety and stress that at times is totally overwhelming.  My head is so full, my thoughts are swirling around and my jaw aches from the constant clenching that crops up when I’m not feeling my best.

I just don’t know how to talk about it out loud, which is frustrating as I am usually good at articulating myself. I find it much easier to write it down but speaking out loud feels like a mountain to climb.

Along with the health problems, things are quite stressful. We’re moving house, I am really busy with work, there are family troubles with close members falling out with me (yet choosing not to explain why!) and my book proposal has gone out to publishers so I am trying to give myself a break and accept that it’s ok to be feeling anxious when you have a lot going on.

As usual I attempt to psycho-analyse myself. I think I have problems with the idea of letting people down. Perhaps I worry that people will walk away and leave me if I become too much trouble. I’m concerned that if I’m a burden, no one will want me. Daddy issues much??!!

I was listening to a podcast yesterday with Adam Buxton and Jon Ronson, a comedian and writer who I think are both brilliant. It surprised me to hear these celebrated and outwardly confident people discussing their anxieties with life, their confidence crises and the struggles they face with dealing with stress.  It kind of made me feel better to think I’m not alone. That actually most of us are dealing with some form of crap in our lives and that we may seem “fine” outwardly (the word “fine” mostly means we’re “not fine”) but inwardly there is a battle with ourselves.

I feel like locking myself away right now, things seem overwhelming and I’m putting stuff off because it all feels too big.  I have a really long list of work things that I need to get done, but I am in full on procrastination mode as I just don’t have the energy or confidence to get started.  But I’m trying hard to fight against this and I’m making myself spend time with great friends.  It’s important to me that I don’t retreat into myself, mainly because I’m scared of what is in there. I’m scared that if I sink in that hole, I may not surface again.

As discussed before on my blog, I do have control issues and I think I’m forcing myself to keep control. I’m making myself go out, see friends, be open, laugh more. I’m making myself trust. Trust that I have the love and support of so many awesome people and I need to respect them by letting them in and believing they will be there for me. In the way that I would (and have) been there for them.  I have made myself go out and see friends or have them over for dinner three times this week, each time I wanted to cancel as I just felt so anxious but I am so glad I did as being around awesome people can only make you feel better!

I heard a quote that said:

those who mind quote

I remember this when I am feeling sad and unable to talk to friends.  “Those who mind, don’t matter, those who matter, don’t mind”  But anxiety isn’t logical is it? Despite knowing that I have some wonderful support around me, the mean, sad voice in my head tells me otherwise.

Chronic illness is a right fucker.  It is never ending and that realisation that this is life long is pretty soul destroying.  I worry that I am a constant burden to the people I love the most, and I worry that they will get fed up of me and want to walk away.  I hate the idea of being a burden and I do worry that the time will come when it all gets too much for others, especially my husband Timm.  He tells me that this won’t happen, that he will always be there for me, but I feel so sad that his life is overtaken by my illness.

My default setting is to try and find the positive and make things better, and so I think I struggle when I have an illogical emotional response and feel sad.  Though I get that it is ok to be stressed out and down in my current circumstances, my usual reaction isn’t working and I can’t shake this sadness.  And that is tough.

Thank you so much to you all for reading and for the lovely messages I have received in the past few weeks.

I don’t find it easy to write this stuff and so I do appreciate your acceptance of me whether I am shiny, giddy Sam or slow, quiet Sam.