My experience with imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome has been talked about quite a lot over the last year. Having learnt about it, and listened to many others talk about their experiences through it via YouTube I thought it was about time that I discuss my experience with imposter syndrome.

Impostor Syndrome is characterized by the conviction that you don’t deserve your success. It is the feeling that you’re not as intelligent, creative or talented as other people seem to believe you are. It is the suspicion that your achievements are down to luck, good timing or just being in the right place at the right time. And it is accompanied by the fear that, one day, you’ll be exposed as a fraud.

I definitely relate to this. I have incredibly low self esteem and when things go right, I feel as though a mistake has been made. I feel like it was just luck, good timing or that it was in reality something incredibly easy and any idiot could have done it. I am not good at seeing my own achievements as a success and I’m scared that one day everyone will realise how useless I really am, or that they already know that. Understandably, this can make life incredibly difficult to deal with.

In some cases imposter syndrome can be debilitating. Although it’s not a formal clinical diagnosis.

Personally, if I get good grades I think they’re wrong. If I win academic awards I think a mistake has been made. If I get a job, I question whether I’m really good enough and whether the employer has made a mistake.

I check my final year grades every single day because I still can’t believe it’s true…

For my first two years at university imposter syndrome really effected me. Not to the point that it was debilitating but enough to be something weighing my mental state down. I got into my admittedly not great uni (In terms of league tables but I couldn’t imagine having gone anywhere else) with BBB at A level and a further BC at AS. With a couple of resits thrown into that mix too. The offer I received was ABB. Yes I know I was only one grade off but I just had that feeling that I didn’t deserve to be there, that everyone else had it all together and was so much better than me. This was especially true when compounded by low grades in my first year. (I got 2:2s in all my coursework).

I still felt the same in second year, even though my grades had improved. Like I just wasn’t enough. Like everyone else was so much better than me.

It’s difficult, it’s reality.

To my understanding many people go to through this, so people do understand. It is also possible to overcome.

If anyone else reading this feels the same or similar then please comment! And any tips for overcoming imposter syndrome would be much appreciated.

Finding Joy

2022 has so far been the year from hell.

Yes almost like after 2020 each year keeps trying to get progressively worse.

But after having to spend most of the year in bed with Chronic Migraine and a suspected low pressure headache and obviously far too much sick leave to come with that I was able to go out with my friends the other day to a climbing competition.

Yes maybe not the best sick leave move but of course being the climber I am, this gave me the purest of joy.

And to top it off I climbed better than expected and didn’t need to wear my migraine glasses.

I can’t remember the last time I felt such joy like it.

Yes I was in 7/10 pain by the end from my array of chronic illnesses and yes I ended up with the WORST migraine the next two days, so maybe going without the migraine glasses was a bad idea or maybe it was the noise that triggered it or maybe it would have happened anyway who knows.

But I had the best time!

And it was so worth the consequences and so nice to see how my climbing is progressing. That or the setting was in my favour. Either way, time with friends, out of my head, on a wall and supporting and cheering with others was much needed.

Nights

Sometimes with chronic illness the nights are the hardest.

They get to you the most.

The pain the most severe.

Nausea most consuming.

Distractions unavailable.

World Silent.

Symptoms disturbing the sleep that’s oh so necessary.

Sometimes with chronic illness nights are the hardest.

Symptoms most severe most severe, most disruptive

and you feel most alone.

Do you get Deja Vu?

Living with EDS and co sometimes feels like an eternal loop of one thing going wrong after another. Well actually it pretty much always feels like this. Just as things start to calm again. You become healthier again, happier again, more stable again, another health drama is around the corner, ready to take you out. It’s like the calm before the storm.

This year has been no exception.

I feel like I’ve been out of work more than in and with yet another neurology referral and brain MRI it has felt like deja vu. Deja Vu to last year when I was referred for suspected MS, but also deja vu to my 2nd year of uni where I kept getting wiped out by two week migraines. When my mum told me to just push through and I ended up with a four month migraine.

Oh how lucky I was that it was at a time I wasn’t working. It was the summer holidays from uni and I had already established I was too sick to work that summer.

Because now. I would in fact like to keep my full time job. And more importantly than the fact that it’s the job I’ve spent years working towards, I do need to pay rent. The bank and house of mum and dad isn’t a reality anymore. Me being 24 and at the other end of the country. There also isn’t space for me in their house anymore.

So as you can imagine, being diagnosed with Chronic Migraine hit hard. Mentally, physically, financially.

It really does feel like the carousel never stops turning. A revolving door that you can never get off of.

Chronic illness is a never ending adjustment process and the grief never ends.

I guess one thing carousel that never stops turning has taught me is that sometimes the turning will be a bit kinder. Sometimes it will be a bit easier. It will get better and I will learn how to make space for this and cope.

Well that was traumatic: 2.0

Less than a year later and I am being seen by neurology again and yes this was equally traumatic.

This wasn’t just trauamtic because of the feeling of being fobbed off. Being potentially sent back to the GP to try more treatments even though if three preventatives have failed that should warrent referral to a headache clinic. But also because we are still no further forward and there is still no plan as to what to do next until an MRI of my brain, with and without contrast is done.

It had already been a difficult week. I’ve been significantly disabled with Migraine and positional occipital headache for 2 months now. And not worked for three weeks. I’d had sick leave before these three weeks too. Which is obviously an issue. And a stress. Whilst work are being wonderful right now there’s still a part of me that is scared that things won’t get better and my dad trying to antagonise me saying what will you do if you can’t work or get fired really doesn’t help because it makes me feel if I need to go to the bank of mum and dad it will be my fault. When realistically it won’t be my fault.

I’m probably going to be diagnosed with chronic migraine, or I have low pressure. We’re not really sure. Maybe a chiari malformation was missed on my last MRI.

Things that help chronic migraine or high frequency episodic migraine or any chronic headache disorder with migraneous features are expensive.

I’ve just spent a lot on my Avulux lenses, which I know once I get my prescription in the frames I will love. I got the lulu with clip on and even before I took the frames to get my prescription in the clip on was some kind of magic. Just under two weeks and providing no breakages and I will have my magic back.

I’ve been spending a lot of the last two months in bed, in the dark, in agony, unable to watch TV. With vomit bags and ice packs. Curtains shut, sunglasses on. Headache halo over my eyes. Lying flat on my back is my preferred position. The best way to relive the dragging, pulling pressure at the base of my skull. I’ve been unable to go into buildings without agony, or getting so dizzy i’ve lost my vision and had to sit on the floor or almost vomiting because of light sensitivity. And avulux definitely pass the Tesco test. I’ve been barely able to eat real meals, cook, clean without passing out and climbing has been comedic and much reduced.

To say the least I’ve been significantly disabled. So as to my dad antagonising me. You could say Hannah save up just incase. But Migraine treatments are expensive and there’s a pay off between if I try this and it gives me my life back is it better than not spending it and saving and then not getting my life back. So actually it’s a really difficult one and not something I should ever feel guilt or stress over because this isn’t my fault, I still have my job, work are being supportive and I can’t control my dad being his problematic self.

That’s a real tangent but the point is the thought of being no further forward and kind of having to go this alone, atleast for the next few weeks is scary.

For that very reason of wanting to keep my dream job, actually earn money because SSP isn’t very kind on the bank balance. It doesn’t cover rent. And live again.

To look after myself, to be able to get on the metro without almost passing out, the bus without almost vomiting. To not be in agony or need to randomly sit on the hospital floor before I pass out. I want to live. I want to succeed. I want to feel a part of the world again. I’ve been so physically and cognitively out of it that I really haven’t felt like part of this world.

Yes I do now have “Part of Your World” in my head.

So it was scary, it was traumatising, it was stressful.

I know I need to stay in the present and not stress about that. But it is definitely hard to deal with. Especially when doctors don’t seem to realise the extent of the debilitation.

The problem is I was too dizzy and brain foggy to get across all of my symptoms, which didn’t help.

Neurology is draining.

Neurologists aren’t the kindest or most empathetic of people.

And right now we are no where. But hopefully in time we will get somewhere. And I will still have and be able to do my job at enough hours to make rent and food and climbing and medical expenses. Priorities obviously. Climbing is so beneficial to me both physically and mental.

Meet the founder

Climbing Through Migraine

I’m Hannah, a 24-year-old climber who currently lives in the North East of England. I started climbing at 14, and after almost 4 years out due to ill health, I took the sport back up in November 2019.

I had my first migraine at 13. I remember suddenly seeing a load of colours and stars in my vision and getting the onset of the classic one-sided headache into a horse-riding lesson. I remember the jolting from riding, making it so much worse. I didn’t say anything at the time because I thought it was just a headache, but looking back, I realise it was a migraine.

Migraine didn’t become a problem for me until my first year of university, when I started to experience at least one attack a week after starting the combined contraceptive pill for my suspected endometriosis. Always with aura and often lasting two or three days…

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On Health Declines and A&E with a Chronic Illness

I’m currently going through a health decline.

I’ve got a lot going on right now. Between an injury that shouldn’t have happened, a headache and migraine flare which has caused an EDS flare and the worst endometriosis flare in five years I really am not doing well to put it lightly.

Which is why I’ve been quiet on the blog front.

But anywho.

Life is exhausting to say the least and whilst when I’m off work on sick leave I have time. I’m also physically not well enough and don’t have the cognitive clarity to right.

But apparently now after an A&E experience that has left me wanting to cry I do have such clarity.

I went to the GP today because I wanted my meds increased. Spoiler alert I did not get my meds increased so that’s another wait until my next appointment to make sure that formally gets done. Of just under two weeks. I may or may not have self increased but I probably shouldn’t have because I’m fucked if I run out of meds. I need to pick up a prescription though so depending on how much I pick up I’ll assess the increase situation then. But I don’t want to not do something that might work. The problem is if it works I suffer the consequences of running out if the increase isn’t approved. And if it doesn’t then same.

So I don’t know. I guess I just have to deal with that anxiety and accept that risk.

Anyway that’s a tangent.

Today my GP sent me to A&E with suspected intercranial hypertension when my headaches actually suggest the opposite but anyway.

A&E the first doctor I saw lovely and concerned and cared.

Her boss I had seen three weeks prior for endometriosis pain and he was an ass then telling me I should have gone to my GP instead. Mate the GP isn’t open and I called 111 who got me a call from urgent care who sent me here. Can you not make me feel like I’m the one for coming here inappropriately when I’m the one in a pain crisis, deep breaths etc, barely able to sleep or function who needs pain relief and was told to come by ANOTHER MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.

Anyway he gave me pain relief that time which I mean stopped the crisis but still PAIN. Spain without the S PAIN.

Today he did the same again. Trying to make me feel bad for going when I just went because I was doing what my GP said. Trying to talk me down and make me feel like I was the one wasting time. When I was only doing what another MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL TOLD ME TO DO.

He took one look at me and was like oh I know her she’s fine and proceeded to talk down to me. Make me feel inferior. Make me feel like I never want to speak to another doctor again. And I’m not going to until my next GP appointment where hopefully my propranolol can formally be increased to the maximum. If not I may be fucked or just have to figure out a system to make it last 28 days depending on how much I pick up tomorrow. I know I have some slow release.

It’s 1am and I want to cry.

Because not only was I treated like shit even though I’ve been experiencing red flag symptoms for weeks and ya know my headaches mimic a CSF LEAK and the other symptoms match and ya know I WAS TOLD TO GO. But also nothing was done. Nothing to help ease the migraine or the headache at the back of the head.

And honestly it’s been nearly two months of this and it sucks.

I plan to go back to work on Monday and if not Monday then Tuesday purely because I feel my mental health needs it at this point. It needs to be distracted. It needs normality. It needs focus on the law to forget about my Friday evening in A&E. I mean I also need to throw myself off a bouldering wall. That would also help.

Will I be well enough? I don’t know. I’ve been off sick and back and off sick and back and off sick again these last couple of months. And the in-between times really struggling.

So hopefully this self increase will help because I need my life back.

Working for five years to get somewhere, to only get there and have a health decline is a really hard thing to deal with. And I’m thankful for the worlds most supportive workplace because honestly it makes such a difference to my stress levels to know that they understand and care about my health and wellbeing before my being at work. But it is still awful and filled with so many feelings. Another health spiral. No answers, no useful treatment plan and a wait of just over two months to see Neurology. Which is INCREDIBLE for the NHS. But when your as impaired as I have been these last two months, the thought of another two is rough.

I also think A&E doctors need better training in Chronic Illness patients. In how to deal with them, what to look out for. Training in H-EDS and co to know when a comorbidity is suggested in presentation. I.e a spontaneous CSF leak. I don’t know if I think that’s what it is. I gaslight myself into saying it can’t be. But the whole presentation v much suggests that. Training in how to speak to female patients and treat them. Training in something that isn’t a car accident, a heart attack or a stroke. Because I do think A&E doctors on the whole are ill equipped for these situations. And no one with a chronic illness would go for no reason because it’s such an awful place to be. We go because we need relief or we’ve been sent by the GP because RED FLAG SYMPTOMS. So can we please stop leaving patients feeling mentally unwell on top of the physically unwell that they came in for.

Counselling, Sports Injuries and Dream Job

So, I started my dream job. I think once I get really stuck in and qualified I’ll really enjoy it. And everyone is so friendly. I’m actually feeling like this will be a good one. Which is something I don’t always feel when starting new jobs.

I have also started counselling, which I’m trying to manage by taking a long lunch on Tuesdays but also know I’ll cancel/rearrange if something exciting came up at work. To be honest, it doesn’t even need to be exciting. Counselling is draining and I’ve got homework, which carving time to do is questionable because it can be quite mentally draining but it needs doing. I guess writing this is technically one piece of my counselling homework. Anyway, I’m hoping it will help.

And I started a new sport! I’ve decided to learn figure skating. You may think I’m crazy considering neuro issues and EDS and maybe I am but it brings so much joy. And yes I’ve got my first skating injury only three weeks in. MCL injuries and bruising don’t do together well but I’m just going to take it easy for a few weeks. RICE it. I’ve been told not to climb or skate on it but I know I can climb safely and just not do left leg heavy moves. Skating I don’t know. I’ll probs go to my class on Sunday and see how it feels. Braced of course. Remind me to get knee pads to help with the knee situation. Or stuff socks up my leggings.

Chronic illness wise, I’m okay. Managing the 9-5 life, managing to exercise. So hopefully that lasts! Kind of managing personal care and nutrition. Although since last nights knee injury I do now have a collection of laundry that needs putting away, washing up to do and I need to shower.

So actually, asides from COVID stress we’re doing good.

How’s everyone else’s January so far?

Goodbye 2021

2021 was a year of HELL.

Literal physical and mental hell.

But I also finished my LPC with a distinction, climbed outdoors and got my dream job. I also impulse bought some figure skates, which I’m looking forward to using once I get the blades their first sharpen next week!

So it wasn’t all a bad year and the highs make me feel kind of guilty for saying 2021 was a bad year overall. It was. It was traumatic on many counts and I need to psychologically recover.

There was medical trauma from an atrocious autism assessment. This lady used to have all five star reviews on google and now she seems to have none that can be found other than on her website, which definitely seems a bit sus and there were definitely signs that I should have noticed before hand that had me questioning her competence. Then there was the blatant gaslighting and putting her mistake onto me. Making me feel like shit and in tears. That and things my dad have said to me about probably being autistic still sticks with me and still gives me flashbacks.

There was also medical trauma from GP’s and very physical trauma caused by painful and difficult catheterisations. My bladder is partially paralysed. And nearly a year after symptom onset, we still don’t know why. Neurology failed to do their job properly. No lumbar puncture to rule out MS as they were misinformed. They only scanned my brain and upper spine rather than the whole spine. So now an MRI of the rest of the spine has been requested and the NHS is so backlogged that there is still no date.

This year medically has been a lot. With very inadequate mental health support. I’ve been anxious, self harming. Cycling between some kind of manic state and depression. I don’t want to use the term mania until I get propper assessment/evaluation, which I probably won’t until I can afford it but god has it been a confusing and crazy year for my mental health.

I had a complete breakdown in my family relationship and finally couldn’t deal with that trauma that built up and ended up homeless for a month and a half. Living out of a suitcase, stressed about jobs, haemorrhaging money on hotels and relying on kind family members to take me in. It could have been a lot worse but god was it an exhausting time.

2021 was quite frankly the worst year of my life and I spent a lot of it really struggling with neuro issues, often having to lay flat in bed due to headaches, collapsing, passing out.

I’m fortunate that new medication changes has got me a lot more control of my health and I am grateful for every second because who knows when it may come to an end.

Lets hope 2022 is better hey? But I’m going in with no expectations.

Moving house with a chronic illness

I’ve recently moved to the other end of the UK, which has meant moving GP practices and trying to ensure I can still get catheters and the meds I need.

Catheters secured.

But medication stress still exists. The NICE guidelines suggesting chronic pain patients shouldn’t be on gabapentinoids makes me really fucking stressed that they might refuse my repeat request. That and what if they want a new patient meeting or just havn’t recived my request through boots and I have to physically go there in person.

I can’t phone to check yet because it’s only been 48 hours since I requested. Whilst in normal circumstances this is an appropriate amount of time before panicking. Todays circumstances of xmas + prioritising vaccines + overwhelemed NHS mean shit takes longer. So I’ll have to wait to call until after the initial string of Bank Holidays. Call to check next week if it still hasn’t been approved.

That will be less than a week before I have to start a new job and I will be close to running out. If I need to attend a new patient appointment, I won’t be able to fit it in without taking time out of work. I will be working 9-5ish. The GP surgery opens at 8 and closes at 6. If I didn’t have to commute yeah maybe I could attend at 8 or 5:30 but otherwise I’ll have to take time out of work.

This gives me great anxiety because it’s a new job and I don’t want to seem medically complex. Of course I’d make up the hours but it’s understandable that I’m anxious about losing this. It’s literally my dream job.

But I also can’t function without my meds. Pain, headaches, dizziness, cognitive dysfunction worse on being upright.

I need to pay rent and need to look after myself so I need my meds.

I mean hopefully, it will all be okay. It will be sorted and work will go well but the never ending anxiety is terrifying.

COVID Anxiety

If you live in the UK your probably sick of the scaremongering, news, the countless positive tests on social media and the PM’s hesitance to do anything.

If your anything like me your really fucking anxious about the rising numbers and the fact that you literally can’t trust people to just STAY AT HOME if they’re sick even if they think its just a cold.

If your chronically ill or have allergies and have omicron symptoms daily the anxiety is heightened. You can’t just get a PCR every day so you have to rely on lateral flows and as far as you know not having had a close contact unless symptoms get worse.

But you feel like a bad person because what if you spread it? What if you weren’t cautious enough. Maybe you should just never leave the house just incase.

You don’t dare to go anywhere for christmas because you don’t live close enough to go for one day and what if you become positive whilst anyway. What if you have to make the oop sorry I have to self isolate call to work.

There’s the constant fear and uncertainty over lockdowns and the shape that they will take.

And then there’s the what if I get really sick again because of this? How long will this medical test I’m waiting for be because of the backlogs? What if in a rush to go back to normal I feel unable to talk about my flexible working needs to my workplace to help manage my chronic illness and perform my best?

Yeah I’ve got all the COVID anxiety right now