by Alice Thomson

So much has happened in only a few months, for me personally as well as globally – let’s be honest, the the past year’s events in the United States of America alone of the past year would be tough to sum up in a 1,000 word article. I don’t think I could do justice to the topic.  As this is my first article in a while, I thought I’d focus on what I’ve been up to, to give you an idea of the reasons for my absence the last few months.

This time last year I was in a completely different place emotionally, physically and geographically. I was struggling with depression, anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I didn’t even realise at the time I had PTSD, but looking back it’s clear that I was struggling. I felt like I was in a deep dark hole and had no way of climbing out. I spoke a bit at the time about my mental health in My Confession. It was a very dark time for me. Thankfully, I managed to find help before anything “bad” (for want of a better word) happened. In January this year I started seeing a therapist privately, and she was able to help me process and work through some of my difficulties. I had tried to find help through the NHS, but after 3 or so years of waiting lists and little success I knew I would have to make some personal sacrifices to get the help I needed. For 6 months I lived small and saved up to ensure I could go to my weekly therapy sessions. It was hard to make ends meet, but with the support of friends and family I made it work.

It was hard to make ends meet, but with the support of friends and family I made it work.

At the same time, I started having weekly acupuncture sessions. The more treatments I received, the more my pain reduced. I was able to become more active and build up my muscles around my joints to help reduce my acute pain and dislocations. My energy levels started to increase and I was feeling a little more like my old self. For the first 6 months of this year I was working towards a better level of health. There wasn’t much time or money for anything else. Once I was feeling a sense of stability I was able to think to the future. I came to realise what Norwich truly meant to me. It was a haven for me to shelter from the world while I recovered from a substantial and difficult change in my life: becoming disabled. I decided to take one more chance in Norwich and stood for the local election in May in North Norwich for the Liberal Democrats. Needless to say, I didn’t win, but it was an amazing experience and a privilege to be apart of. Plus, the process of canvassing was challenging for my body and acupuncturist.

It was after the election that I decided to move back to Scotland. It had been a dream of mine for many years, but one I thought never possible. The first 6 months of 2017 proved to me that not only was I up for the challenge, I would be happier and prosperous in my home-city, Edinburgh. As the months passed, the list of reasons to leave  increased and mid-May I started looking for a home in Edinburgh. A small setback occurred in June when I dislocated my hip getting out of a wheelchair (the irony, I know!). Through all the trips to Edinburgh and processes of getting ready to move my right hip repeatedly dislocated. I was in immense pain for over 5 months. There were times I would have happily given up on my dream to live in Edinburgh. To curl up and stay in healing oasis of Norwich was extremely appealing.

The support of others and my own tenacity kept me going. A particularly new and unexpected aspect to my life kept me going, and that was meeting my partner.  It was clear to me that I needed to be in Edinburgh, and the sooner the better. Conducting a relationship when you live 500 miles apart isn’t easy. I know that moving house can be stressful at the best of times, but doing it with a disability takes the experience to a whole different level. It got to the point where I was unable to manage my health, prepare for the move and write for the Radical, which is why I took some time off and am grateful to my editors for allowing me this. I finally made it into my new home mid-November. By the time the essential boxes were unpacked I was ready for a fortnight in bed. Alas, such luxury is not something I can afford as Christmas is fast approaching and I am hosting. Thankfully, my cousin, who also has EDS, has introduced me to a very good acupuncturist here in Edinburgh, so I have been able to concentrate on managing my health more recently.

When I look back at my life this time last year I see how much has changed.

When I look back at my life this time last year I see how much has changed. I feel like my future has more opportunities and possibilities. I feel happier and lighter with and within myself. I know that this is a journey, that there will be difficulties and challenges to come. I know that I am not “fixed” emotionally or physically. But I also don’t want to be “fixed”, because that would imply there was something wrong with me in the first place. I don’t believe there was. I do believe I was having trouble coming to terms with my experiences and I wasn’t managing my condition. I’m doing much better on that front, but that doesn’t mean I don’t experience pain or depression. It means I’m finding ways to live.

The change I’ve experienced over the past year has been extraordinary, but I am definitely ready for a rest. I’m exhausted!


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