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Saturday, 11 February 2017

A Serious Heart To Heart. Life At The Moment.


In 2016 I wrote ablog post about the importance of giving back, anytime at all, but particularly at Christmas. Giving back isn’t something that has to be done during the festive period alone though, giving back doesn’t just mean giving all your time and money to something either. Giving back can be done by smiling at someone on the street, taking your time out to talk to someone who might just need a little bit of support, or raising awareness for something serious. We all have a voice. I’m approached on a weekly basis by charities and I really wish I could help them all. However, I was once that girl who’d walk past charities in the street because I didn’t have any spare change or the time to talk. That doesn't make me a bad person, I just had other things on my mind and recognise that even if we wanted to, we cannot support every single charity. It’s not until recently, I’ve realised just how much raising awareness and raising money can help in so many ways. My life has changed recently and sadly, may not be the same for a long time. Let's talk.

Recently, those around me and myself have been struggling due to a number of health problems. I’ve seen first hand the devastating effects that chronic conditions have on people, not just the sufferer, but the friends and family of that person too. As someone who was also affected by domestic abuse in a relationship, a subject I’ve barely touched on until today, it’s safe to say, there are two causes very close to my heart. I made a vow at the end of 2016 to do more charity work this year, that doesn’t necessarily mean just giving money, but actually, the little things can help, such as simply raising awareness and talking about things. I like to think that using our voices can have an impact. Today I want to talk about two things very close to my heart, things I’ll be raising money and awareness for this year and I hope, you'll understand why I haven't been myself recently. 

It's interesting, because people see life on social media and think everything is perfect. I touched on this recently when I discussed the reality of life away from social media but life recently, well, it's been awfully upsetting for myself and those closest to me.

I’d like to start by saying I’ve actually never really done a big fund raising project, not ever. I donate bags of clothes every other week to various charities and every year I give presents to a local children’s home. I really wanted to wait to do a fund raising project for something I’m really passionate about because it's personal to me. For me, I believe in turning really bad things into good things and my way of dealing with our sad news at the moment is to raise as much awareness and funding as possible. You can check out my fundraising page at the bottom of this blogpost and I’ll let you know what I’m going to be doing to raise money but money and awareness aside, the most important thing is the people I’m raising awareness for. When someone close to me is in pain, I am in pain too. 

Let’s talk about two things I’d like to raise awareness for. 

Domestic abuse - Domestic abuse will affect 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime. On average, domestic abuse leads to two women being murdered each week and 30 men per year (source). When you’re a victim of domestic abuse, you don’t really acknowledge the position you're in until until you make the very courageous move to get out. This is something I don’t yet feel strong enough to go into in detail as it very much still affects myself and those around me, but I’ll do anything to raise awareness for domestic abuse because it destroys lives. Even typing this makes me feel strange, but if using my voice in this small way helps anyone at all, then my job is done. I'd like to leave this one with an image below, read the bullet points. Is anyone you know secretly suffering? 

PoTS - Pots, known as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, is a chronic, invisible illness which can be can be a life altering and debilitating. Simply standing up can be a challenge for people with PoTS as their body is unable to adjust to gravity. PoTS is characterised by orthostatic intolerance (the development of symptoms when upright that are relieved by lying down). Symptoms include headaches, fatigue, palpitations, sweating, nausea, fainting and dizziness and are associated with an increase in heart rate from the lying to upright position of greater than 30 beats per minute, or a heart rate of greater than 120 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing (source). Imagine the impact on your life if you felt like that every time you stood up. Simply one tweet recently about PoTs led to me receiving a number of emails from sufferers thanking me for raising awareness. Someone in my family is currently suffering from a number of chronic conditions, one being PoTs. This person is my life, I am not myself without this person and I cannot stand to see them struggle. I wish I had a magic wand and I wish I could work miracles. After researching it, apparently even walking across a corridor can feel like a marathon to a PoTS sufferer. It’s worth noting that this can just come on, at any age and knock you off your feet and from the life you knew, taking you from a 21 year old fit and healthy woman, to feeling like a 90 year old one. 




Chronic conditions can often and sadly lead to mental health issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts, this too makes me want to raise the awareness of invisible illnesses. Imagine sitting at home and feeling like everyone is getting on with their lives, and you physically (and mentally) can't move forward with yours? Imagine being sat in a house since December because you can't leave? You get so exhausted? Just because you can't see it, it doesn't mean someone isn't struggling. They have such an impact and I don't want anyone suffering to think there isn't a light at the end. If you are struggling with depression, please call the Samaritans or talk to someone. The Samaritans are absolutely fabulous and there is always someone who will help you.

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Both domestic abuse and PoTS are invisible, but in different ways, people don’t talk about domestic abuse and face it in silence and with PoTs, some doctors don’t even recognise the symptoms and most people do not know it exists.


So what now? I could sit and cry and trust me, I've done a lot of that. I could ask: why? But in all honesty, if this person (I don't want to say who it is as it isn't fair) isn't okay, I'm not okay either. My life has changed and so has theirs. I can't move on with my life if they can't and together we can raise awareness, funding and make positive changes. I could see no light at the end of the tunnel, but instead, I will be using my voice to raise money for funding but also, awareness. Talking about sad situations and using our voices are key. If you have read this, thank you, because that's another person who is aware of chronic illnesses. Life throws some seriously bad things our way, cruel, terrible and dreadful things that we could never have imagined we'd go through, but it's how we deal with them that defines us. Things are sent to test us.

Please read further to see my fundraising mission.


I’m hoping to raise both awareness and money for PoTs UK after seeing first hand what it can cause and also, hearing about what little funding PoTs receive. I’m going to be using MyDonate by BT as the online giving platform, I’ve chosen this as it does not charge any commission or subscription fee.


We all know how much I love working out, so I’m going to be using BTMyDonate as the online giving platform, I’ve chosen this as it is one of the few platforms available to UK charities that doesn’t take commission or charge charities a monthly fee or registration fee. That means charities can receive an additional £3.60 per £50 donation with gift aid when using BT MyDonate.

Another main reason for using this platform is because BT MyDonate are hosting a competition called ‘Donation Doubler’ and every new registrant to the site who raises £100 in donations (including gift aid) before February 20th 2017 will automatically be entered into a prize draw with five people randomly selected to have the money they have raised matched up to a value of £1,000. Obviously I’d love to get the money I raise for PoTs matched, with it being such an unknown syndrome it really is a case of every little helps.

So what am I going to be doing? In February (date TBC) I'm going to be doing a spinathon! I’ll basically be trying to clock up as many miles as possible in one day, because you guys know how much I love fitness, and spinning, let’s see how long I can cycle for throughout the day and just how many miles I can clock up. If you’d like to get involved too, simply grab a bike during the next few weeks, make a donation and let me know how many miles you can manage, whether its ten minutes or an hour, every spin helps and let's see just how many miles we can clock up together. Team work makes the dream work hey?! I would LOVE for you to clock up some miles for me and PoTs UK. 

See my page below and please, if there is a charity close to your heart do think about doing something and signing up and raising money, don’t forget, you could get it doubled, definitely sign up, do it and share some love for a worthwhile cause this year. You'll feel great for it and you'll help others too: 

You can donate below and obviously it would mean the world to me:

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/emsheldon

For more info and if you want to set up a fundraising page this month (please do!!!) head here and let's raise some funds together!

Thank you for all your support recently! Please leave a comment and let me know of any causes close to your heart. Let's raise that awareness. 

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Lots of love, Em x

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