Celebrating Life Despite Depression, Anxiety & ME/CFS – A Day In The Life of Jorja

After a long break, I am happy to be resuming our twice-monthly guest interviews. This week we are meeting Jorja who has been living with Depression, Anxiety and ME/CFS for many years. This interview is part of an ongoing series where we interview people from around the world who share how chronic illness or disability has changed their lives and how they continue to find reasons to celebrate anyway.

I hope this series will inform and encourage you and maybe help you feel less alone if you’re dealing with something similar. If you’d like to be featured too, click here.

Please Note:these posts are meant as a testimony of personal experience and are not to be considered as medical advice. Please do your own research and consult with your doctor before making any changes to your care plan.

Depression, Anxiety & ME/CFS, Interview With Jorja

Hi Jorja, please introduce yourself to our readers

Hello Char’s people, I’m Jorja, a nap queen mainly, with a sarcastic but sensitive soul. Currently my main interest past the family has to be my blog, meditating and connecting (new experience) with actual people, which I’m loving. Even with the social anxiety gremlin included.

Based in the Uk, craving that feeling of freedom. Is it even possible? I have healing crystals dotted around, salt lamps on 24/7 and I pretend to be like Buddha, all peaceful and calm and stuff. Ha, perhaps not, but we all need a goal.

Now, just for some fun…

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A hooker! I didn’t know what it was at age 6 and had seen pretty woman, but it’s what I would announce when asked by ANYONE!

Living With Depression, Anxiety And ME/CFS

What are your main symptoms?

Anxiety, random erratic moods, muscle pain, intense random shooting pains or cramp like feeling (anywhere & often), fatigue and no organisation skills (can that count?).

How did you get your diagnosis?

It was a tough process, at the time probably more-so for my family, I just slept or cried all the time. The consultant appointments seemed pointless and would make my symptoms worse. But between 4-7 years (on & off) later, I got diagnosed, phew!

What did a typical day look like before you fell ill?

Full-time (4 nights) working wife and mom of 4 beauties 10, 5, 5, 3. I would sort and see the kids and husband off for their day then tidy up, prepare tea, put on a wash load, and go to bed for 2hrs.

Getting up to collect my youngest. Give him food and hope he would sleep so that I could too, although i did set him up on the couch with everything he would maybe need on more than 1 occasion. Shhh!

Back up just before the other 3 returned (with friends in tow), feed them, do housework and typical mom work, feed the husband, do homework, let the husband talk to me then go to bed for a few hours before work began again. Pretty standard right?

What does a typical day look like now?

Kids now 19,14,14 & (almost)12 wake me-ish to say goodbye as they leave for school. The husband then wakes me around 10am to give me coffee and meds (prescribed ones, mainly!).

If left long enough I would go back to sleep, but now he makes me open the blinds, sit up, drink and then stretch. Watching our dog chase the pigeons and squirrels keeps me happy for awhile!

Around an 1.5hr later I start feeling like my body will move, slowly and no sudden or repetitive motions. I will wonder around from room to room in a state of confusion, panic and pressure of things that need sorting!

I put on the washing, try to catch up on emails, blog stuff, kids homework (shhh) or getting talked to by the husband about crap to do with the garden (how to build a shed I think). Fatigue hits me pretty quick with information overload and my body just won’t hold itself up, ultimately putting me back to sleep.

Kids have ate tea (dinner) and are doing their own thang by the time i get up (if I get woke up intentionally its not pretty and the pain intensifies throughout the eve). I spend time meditating, doing yoga (roll around the floor), spend time with the kids as and when they appear, take a shower (mindfully), then crawl to the sofa to rest before bed.

This is fairly new to me, but I read now (try to), meditate and then sleeeep.

What helps you get through the day?

You may have guessed my husband had to quit his job to take care of the kids & me. Before he quit I literally slept all day, now I ponder around. Him being a stay at home dad/husband has enabled me to focus on self-care and enjoy what little life I do live. I was ready to leave them to it, but trusted their judgement that things would get better (also, I am aware of the effects of a parent-suicide!).

How do you celebrate life?

Ooooh I’m not sure, erm, I try to stay positive and blog to show myself proof of moving forward no matter how slow I’m going. (Blogging is totally me getting out of the box).

What do you wish the world knew about your conditions?

That THEY’RE REAL! Even though I would question the symptoms if I didn’t have them myself, as in, no-way is that even possible.

What advice would you give somebody who is newly diagnosed?

Absolutely take your time and find what works for ‘You’. Our symptoms may vary, but you have to accept that it’s not going anywhere fast, acceptance is a major player in healing I think?

Where can I learn more about living with Depression, Anxiety and ME/CFS?

Furiously Happy‘ by jenny lawson totally helps you feel a little less alone with depression and anxiety. For ME/CFS I think; ‘Manage Your Pain: Practical and positive ways of adapting to chronic pain’.

Tell Us About Rural Grey Star

Rural Grey Star was created in 2017 to do something completely not me, that would be challenging (it is). Oh my days, you bloggers are so amazing. Also to connect with and encourage others to move forward, snail’s pace if needed.

I write about Depression, Anxiety, ME/CFS and related content like how to calm your stress levels or how to stop overthinking. Pain management strategies too.

Share the blog post you’re most proud of

Tips to build up your self-worth is a great place to begin a journey.

Thank you for taking time to read my interview, I’ve loved doing it. Take care of you. Love, Jorja x

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Jorja

I absolutely agree with the advice you gave, acceptance really makes such a difference to how you experience your day to day.

I am always in awe of parents with chronic illnesses. The added pressures and interactions that come with raising a family on top of dealing with debilitating symptoms is something I cannot even imagine. You truly are a warrior.

A close up of half of Jorja's face, title reads: Celebrating life despite depression, anxiety and ME/cfs.

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Connect with Jorja

Please do go check out Jorja’s blog and social media accounts, maybe even leave a comment and let her know how you found her.

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If you would like to be featured on this website, please visit this page to find out how. I look forward to sharing your story – Char

Thank you for stopping by. Hugs, Char xx
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Chronically Hopeful
Chronically Hopeful

Char was born and raised in South Africa, but has been settled in Europe for over 20 years. She's passionate about finding ways to live well, despite chronic illness.

Apart from blogging, she enjoys art, cooking, reading, gardening, gaming and learning new things. She speaks English, Italian and Afrikaans fluently and is slowly learning French too.

She used to be a teacher, but has been housebound with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis since 2015. Since then, she's focused on spending the little energy and strength she has each day on the people and activities she loves. Finding joy in the little things and celebrating the ordinary.

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