My Mum Life Story: PART 1- Childhood Childhood and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve probably been wondering ‘who is this lady?’ and ‘what’s her deal?’ Most of my posts have been about other people and other things with a few little anecdotal tidbits thrown in for personal relevance and an attempt to ‘relate’ to you, my audience. Sure, there have been a couple of posts about events in my life (We are stronger than we know: Across Australia with a baby & Are We Too Dependant on Technology?) but these are merely small drops of water in the ocean that is my Life.

So this post will be the first in a series of posts that will be very personal, all about me, the woman behind the blog, the very tall woman with long dark hair, brown eyes and more post-baby weight than I care to admit. There’s really far too much for even 3 or 4 blog posts (I am nearly 40 you know) so I will try to condense as much as I can and not overwhelm you with tedious details. If you stick through to the end with me, you’ll be rewarded with a very gratuitous smile (use attached photos as a visual aid) and a new friend.



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Early years

Born and raised in a Christian family, all I knew was God’s view on what was ‘right’ and what was ‘wrong’. I am grateful everyday for the values and standards my parents infused into my young mind, for I believe they are the very foundation of who I am today (that’s a good thing by the way). At 13 I made my own commitment to following God and having a personal relationship with Jesus and over the following 26 odd years I have been on a journey of spiritual growth, learning how to apply the principles of Love, Grace, Mercy, Compassion, Kindness, Forgiveness and Understanding in my life and in a world that is anything but kind.

I was born in Western Australia (it will always be my home) but moved around the country with my family, as my dad looked for work. I must say that my fondest memories of childhood came from the experiences I had in different towns and states across the country. My dad was a Driver – Bus driver, Taxi driver, Truck driver, even a Boat driver (probably not the technical term but who cares) and we often got to go on various tours and trips for free. I remember riding in taxis in Broome (WA), crocodile spotting at Katherine Gorge (NT), sleeping in the isle of a Coach travelling from Darwin (NT) to Alice Springs (still spewing I didn’t get to see Uluru) & touring the Glass House Mountains on the Sunshine Coast (QLD). I feel very blessed to have seen so much of the country that so many Australians miss out on.

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Whilst there was a massive upside to moving a whole heap, there were also a lot of struggles. I never really made lasting friendships, being in a place for only 2 to 3 years makes it difficult to maintain connections, and there was no internet back in those olden days, so if you wanted to stay in touch with a friend it was the now redundant pen and paper. Then an envelope, a stamp and a trip to the post office every time you wanted to communicate with someone. Inevitably the passing of time would lead to a loss of the relationship. That, plus the fact that it took me the majority of those 2-3 years to acquire even a couple of good friends because I was painfully shy and self-conscious. This was partly due to my personality (an introvert 70% of the time that can transform into more of an extrovert when around certain people that encourage it out), and partly due to the illness that basically tackled me at 7 years of age.

Illness

As a little girl I was very active. Like most kids I enjoyed running, climbing, jumping, dancing and doing somersaults everywhere there was a space and even when there wasn’t. I enjoyed sport carnival days at school because I usually won or came second. Then something changed when I was 7 years old. Suddenly I couldn’t run very fast anymore, I lacked energy and strength, my legs hurt and would burn after activity, I would often black out after sport and feel nauseous and dizzy. Teachers thought I was faking it, students thought I was attention seeking and would laugh at me and refuse to  pick me for their teams, assuming I was just bad at sport.

I began to feel very isolated and alone at school, I’d often sit by myself at recess and ask to remain in class over lunch to finish work. I tried to pretend I felt fine after sport so I wouldn’t have to see the inevitable whispering in someone’s ear, the turning of the head, the eyes staring at me and laughing, and the teachers rolling their eyes and going back to their work.

I missed a lot of school over the following years, because I always seemed to catch whatever was going around, plus my anxiety about going to school elevated daily as the starring increased and teasing continued. I had no friends until one day a new girl just decided I was her bestie before we’d even spoken. “We” still didn’t talk much after that as she was one of those people who liked to do all the talking and none of the listening, but I was happy to have one person at school who wanted to be around me and didn’t judge nor harass me.

My self esteem only declined further and further as I was taken to doctor after doctor without any help, they also decided I must have been faking it as test results kept coming back claiming I was perfectly healthy. As a young child I felt defeated. I hated feeling so weak and sick all the time, I hated not being able to do the activities I’d previously loved, I hated the stares and whispers and rejection I faced everyday, but the worst thing was I hated not being believed. I hated being labelled as something I wasn’t, as a lier! This hurt me very deeply as I have always put a great deal of importance on truth. This is one part of me that has never changed. 

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It wasn’t until I saw a specialist in Darwin when I was about 12 years old, that I was finally diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) or more commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). It appeared I had suffered a bout of Glandular Fever due to contracting the Epstein-Barr Virus somehow. Whilst it was great to have an answer to my mysterious health issues, it was disappointing to find out I had a condition that had no cure. At that time, very little research had been done on the subject and most doctors hadn’t even heard of it.  It was just something I had to learn to live with. 

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Limits

I had to learn very quickly were my limits were. Aerobic exercise for example was not conducive to my desire to stay conscious and so it went on the top of my ‘can not do’ list, right alongside, playing sport, climbing mountains, running marathons, swimming the English Channel and wrestling crocodiles. I had little desire to do the last two but the rest plus many other things were simply off limits. Obviously my confidence in myself and my ability to reach unimaginable heights was pretty much non-existent at that stage in my life and until about the age of 30. I did manage to climb one mountain (Cradle Mountain, Tasmania) when I was 18, which made me so proud of myself, despite being at least half an hour later to the summit than everyone else and not being able to walk properly for nearly a week after.

Due to the amount of school I missed and the anxiety that escalated, I was put on correspondence for the majority of my high school years. This allowed me to get through my school work in my own time, between illness and bouts of fatigue. Whilst helping me to achieve my education, it did little to enhance my social skills and consequently I remained very shy and reserved into my teens and adult years. Looking back I’m not entirely convinced this was a bad thing as there were so many things I didn’t have to go through that others in my age group wish they hadn’t gone through. Mistakes and regrets they wish they’d avoided, I knew nothing about. The things I did go through however, with my physical and mental health, gave me a level of empathy that I believe has made me a better Mother and Friend.



Further Study

Studying Film had been my dream since around the age of 14 but at the time I was ready to go into University, the film industry was still completely Analogue (right before the conversion to Digital) and the cost of film was very high. The Uni fees could be covered by the government student loan but the equipment costs were more than I or my parents could afford. I looked into different course providers and various grants etc but nothing proved fruitful, then one day someone at church told me about an organisation called Fusion that ran a Certificate in Christian Broadcasting in Tasmania. It wasn’t exactly what I’d had in mind but if God wanted me to do it then I was more than willing and excited about the prospects of a new adventure on my own for the first time in my life.

So at 18 I quit my job at the Big Pineapple in Nambour, QLD, packed my bags and flew to the Countries coldest state, Tasmania where I spent 3 Months on a freezing cold mountain side, in a tiny little town called Poatina learning about radio broadcasting and video production. The friends I made, as well as the course which involved bible study units and community involvement created an invaluable experience for me which I believe started my journey of self discovery and character development. It was a long road after graduation though, one that took a path I didn’t expect, leading me through valley’s and over hurdles that were designed to take me down and out. If it wasn’t for the Love of a Heavenly Father, I don’t believe I would still be here today. That’s a story for next time though.

Read the next chapter – My Mum Life Story: PART 2 – Married Young & Multiple Birth

Thanks

Thanks for sticking with me guys, and please stay tuned for the next instalment coming in a few weeks. In the meantime we have some more flash fiction coming your way and another Mum Life Success Story. While you wait for that, why not check out some of our past Mum Life Success Stories and if you’d like to know how you can have your story told on this blog, please visit our T & C’s page.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Fiona Jones says:

    Looking forward to the next instalment!

    Liked by 1 person

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