Following my diagnosis I began improving enough that I could walk with a crutch/walking stick. This helped my balance, but was not a great look for a 21 year old! In a way it ‘showed’ people something was wrong as on the outside you couldn’t see the pain. I also knew exercise would help but facing the outside world was one thing, exercise another! I had never ever been sporty, always trying to find an excuse to skip P.E class! So I began walking, first 50 yards to the end corner of my road, then 100. Once I got to the end of the road and honestly could not face waking back, I just did not have the energy, so rang my Mum to come and get me in the car!
Back to work
The bank I worked for were supportive, with area managers coming to my house and sorted a phased return. I was scared about work. It was a face to face role and nothing felt worse that having to be cheery and confident when the opposite was true. I kept hiding in the back office when I could. One day I heard an insensitive colleague say they thought I was fine and should stop moaning and get on with it and basically I was being a drama queen,….nice eh!
So this situation began me thinking what jobs could I do, could I even do a full time role. I have left school with good GCSE’s and some AS Levels but nothing outstanding, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life so didn’t feel University was the right option for me at 18. I had a job in the local supermarket and went from cashier, to customer services to cash office supervisor. This then led me to leave and work for the bank. With these previous jobs in mind I began looking at the local collage and something about an Accountancy Qualification took my fancy. I liked money and numbers – things adding up, facts and not sales. A job like this would be office based and perhaps I could find part time hours. I talked it over with my Mum and we both agreed I should go for it. It would also take this immense pressure I felt about going to work and not calling in sick. I left my job and had a couple of months before starting college ‘full time’ in September 2007 for a 2 year course (although a full time course the hours were only partially required at college which suited me well). I could see some sort of future and gained a bit of confidence back! The first year breezed by and I met a couple of supportive friends. I enjoyed college so much.
New York, New York
During 2008, my current relationship ran its course. I made a friend that summer, and he was understanding and spontaneous. One day we were talking about USA and he had already been and loved it and I always dreamed of going. I said how I would love to go to New York and he said to have look on the internet how much it would be to go, the next minute we had booked a flight! So off I went in August 2008 to New York City. This trip changed my life. The world was bigger than me and my little town and the ‘safe’ world I had created for myself.
Although I had a couple of moments while I was there, and felt too ill that I had to return to my hotel room, it was so good to be there, I loved every moment. When I got home I felt so different. I looked at the pictures I saw the weight that had crept on from the medication, still eating badly and lack of exercise, none of which were helping my health. I knew diet and exercise had to change.