Helen Keller ladies and gents. An absolute beauty of a lass!

I never thought about a life of freedom. Adventure yes, but never really a ‘free’ adventure as it were. For some people ‘freedom’ is the ability to totally let go of all worries, concerns and fears. That feeling of spinning in a circle on the spot with your arms flailing about until you fall over unbalanced with the wind in your hair. Yes! I suppose I never really thought that ‘freedom’ truly existed in reality, that maybe it was one of those fanatical fantasies that were made up and not really something humans ever felt… well never one hundred percent anyway.

Recently, it appears that life has been challenging for a lot of people especially regarding health and surprise, surprise…I’ve not lacked in this area either. I got to a point after remission and the big operation at Christmas to clear all of my womanly organs of thinking that maybe life might feel a little more free. A little less chaotic. I suppose at first it did. The relief of no cancer…amazing. Furthermore, the realisation of just how far I’d come to be able to get the discharge (well visually) from the eating disorder service. An incredible sense of freedom to say the least but still with the hidden struggle (as ever) that I was still physically feeling exceptionally unwell. At first, I was convinced that maybe it was psychosomatic, maybe this was just what I was used to and my body had to adjust. Then weeks went by and I began feeling worse and worse, surely nobody would feel like this and be fainting or be paralysed from simply thinking they were ill or imagining that they still were right? I knew the recovery of a hysterectomy wasn’t an immediate one, I’d spoken to my mum and other women, some of which had taken a couple of years to get through the other side. It wasn’t easy, far from. But honestly, that for me was the easy part. I was off paracetamol within a week or two and did my resting period in one of the nicest places in England away from everyone and all negativity (despite a couple of traumatic events along the way that upset the process.) All in all, I was doing alright. However, things got worse, symptoms didn’t settle, I got weaker and my body began failing me more and more.

I silently accepted that maybe this was going to be life. Maybe this was how all women felt when in the menopause and I had to accept that because I had gone down the route of a hysterectomy. Maybe, this was what I now had to deal with. I just didn’t realise that this level of fatigue, crippling migraines four times weekly making me bed bound and fainting was part of it. I kept silent, tried to get on and then it got to much. After some encouragement from my supportive partner, I went to the doctors after breaking down.

It became clear that not only had they given me the wrong Hormone Replacement Treatment straight after my operation at Christmas, but also that for the last few years of being on this treatment my body had been getting weaker and more and more tired. Worn out and was at risk of a stroke. I’d been having a lot of symptoms for a couple of years….sometimes getting worse and I’d have periods of feeling really unwell. Other times I’d just have extreme tiredness, falling asleep in people’s cars or passing out on public transport or whilst speaking to people. Sometimes I’d just loose my train of thought or just be a bit vacant at times. More recently, it was the heart that was doing me in….pains and palpitations, migraines that were crippling me and a send of fatigue that made me absolutely paralysed to the point of not being able to move a muscle to even get out of bed. It was debilitating and horrible. More than anything…scary. Something really wasn’t right. It took appointments, tests (which at this point moved quickly), investigations and scans to get to this point. To get a diagnosis. It turns out I have contracted a disease from years of illness called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) is a long-term (chronic), fluctuating, neurological condition that causes symptoms affecting many body systems, more commonly the nervous and immune systems. I guess when you think of what my body’s been through it sort of makes sense that it would be tired right? It can’t really have gone through all of that unscathed? Especially combined with the added trauma from childhood and more recent years right?

I don’t know what or why I write but I felt the need to get it down and out really and also to tell people as I just sort of disappeared a bit and hid. It would be so easy for me to sit here and sob over it all. To feel sorry for myself and curse at some unknown being as to ‘why me?!’ But what would be the use in that? Yes, naturally, I do feel sad, truly devastated when I have days like yesterday of feeling as if someone was sat on top of me and I was simply laying there unable to move my body whilst just enduring the extreme aching, tiredness, sickness and a migraine that at points made me feel like I was going to fit or faint. Sometimes, this lasts for a few days but then I get two, three sometimes (if I’m lucky) four good ones. For these, I feel positive and take in the beauty as much as I can until the next.

Old Sophie would have been the lass that would have just drunk to numb this mess and hide the pain, pretending that it’s all okay but look where that’s got me so far. Relationship-less, in no better state mentally and unable to function healthily without the right nutrients in me and support around to be there when I’ve needed it, more so…when I’ve actually been brave enough to decide to ask for it, which lets face it was hardly ever. This time, the more ‘sorted Sophie’ isn’t willing to do this. She doesn’t drink loads, she doesn’t go off the rails or hide behind working herself into the ground (as she really isn’t able to) and most of all I’m eating healthily. This Sophie is actually working on herself properly alongside the most exceptional therapist who checks in weekly via phone or face to face, she works through the rape and my childhood and the illness stuff. An angel. Yes, it is more than hard but yes, this Sophie is doing it daily. Using that determination bit by bit with strides and progress. With the need to keep positive to live as I am able with this grotty illness that I am left with.

I confused a lot of people, including myself I’d like to add, when I disappeared in the yellow van with a random man I just met a few months ago (on what was originally a friendship.) It’s not been an easy path. Certainly not for either of us and certainly not in the respect of ‘trying to sort out your box’ safely and such close proximity to another human. It might not have been right at points, looking back over it…well, it would have been much easier to back out at any point. A lot of bad habits have crept in along the way but this time they’ve been worked through not ignored. I tried to push away, tried to convince myself that I didn’t want to be with anyone…this person who was with me on this journey. I ‘was in it just for the van.’ Was I? Nope. Yes. Probably. No, actually. No…shit. I wasn’t. Oh no. I was trying to deny myself the right of happiness. Of not being able to be who I wanted to be. To not have a life of freedom. Of doing what I’d always done. Self punishment. Self harm. Self blame. The ‘I don’t deserve this’ game. The ‘I’m not good enough for anyone, I’m too much trouble and hassle.’

What the hell was I doing?! Ha!

So here we are. Here I am. Recently diagnosed with M.E or CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) as some might now know of it but yet I’m clear of cancer. Working through past sexual violence and rape but able to be with a new partner who loves me and feel things…intimacy and actual feelings without self punishment. Having some hard days with food but eating much more healthily and in more mass than in about fifteen years. Having some very bad poorly days but on the few beautiful, able to travel, see some of the most incredible views and be creative on the road. I might not be able to take on long contracts for tours, shows or jobs but I am able to do one or two day shoots. I am being paid by several companies to write for them, for non fiction and fiction for young women using my voice, my passion and soul whilst equally being a better me. I get to see one of my best friends get married on Friday and I am alive, I made it up to Scotland to see her and the ceremony. I am able to be her witness, do a speech for her and be there on one of her special days. I am alive to see that because of her and the other beauties in my life that helped me and also because of my amazing body that by heck and a half challenges me but is the toughest thing I know! Yes, it’s having a bloody hard time but by heck, there’s ALWAYS the positives right?!



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