The Ugly Face of Grief & a lesson from a flight attendant

Next week will mark three months since my Dad passed away suddenly at the age of 60. I can’t believe it will be three months already! He died 86 days ago. Every single day I miss him, I mourn, I grieve and I’m not ready to accept he is gone. You may be thinking that I am delaying the grieving process for we all know the final stage of grief is Acceptance. 

The thing is, I have an awful relationship with grief albeit healthy. Ive been dealing with grief for most of my life. Grief is essential and if we never loved then we’d never have to grieve. I have grieved too many times. The death of relatives; My uncle, My Nanny, my dog etc. Ive grieved my former self, the person I was before I was sexually assaulted, the person I was before my MS diagnosis. I’ve even grieved most of my life for other people that despite trying everything, I could not change. The thing is when my dad passed away, I knew in that second when I picked up the phone and heard those words, that I’d never be the same again. Losing my father has been the most pain that I have ever felt. During Covid just made it so much worse. 

They say, “Time is a healer”. I am struggling because although I know that is true, I can’t seem to get my head around not seeing my dad anymore in this life. My Dad struggled a lot, he had an awful upbringing in the Catholic institution he grew up in.I hate what happened to my Dad there because it affected him so badly. He was the most anxiety riddled person that I’d ever met. He couldn’t deal with life sometimes and developed an unhealthy way of coping through addiction. He was suffering so much and over the years, I’ve hated so much that despite everything, I could not help him or make it better for him. Believe me, it’s hard to help someone when they think that they don’t need the help. Despite everything, my dad and I had a mutual understanding and got on so well, most of the time. As a daughter, I loved my dad so much. I would have done anything for him and he knew it. 

The past few months I have been struggling with my beliefs. I always thought that God was real and heaven but now I am not so sure. Science would have me believe that there isn’t life after death and somehow I don’t want to take their word for it. I can’t not believe in anything because that would mean that I’d never get to see my Dad ever again and I refuse to believe that. I feel like I don’t know myself anymore, I used to have such great faith but now I barely recognise myself or my beliefs. 

This blog post probably seems very angry, I struggle so much because I always want to be that positive person in everyone’s life and right now I feel like I am a big let down. Since March I’ve been dealing with chronic nerve pain in my face, neck and all over my head. It’s been so debilitating, yet I still try to smile through it. Thankfully after three months, my MS team have brought my MRI forward to this week so hopefully I’ll get some answers or treatment for the pain. The pain has made grieving harder because when I cry it makes it worse. I’ve  gone through so many of the stages of grief and find myself stuck between anger and bargaining. 

This is gonna sound crazy but I could safely check off the denial straight away because my dad’s death was sudden and so I was in shock and denial for the first few days until I seen his body in the funeral home. Then bargaining came along for a few weeks. It was the most crazy feelings I had. I’m gonna sound like a mad woman but I convinced myself that maybe my dad hadn’t died at all and that maybe he seen a crime and the guards pretended he died to put him in witness protection. Like talk about being bat shit crazy! As if I was living in an episode of CSI Miami. Few weeks after I had my dad’s phone and I called it on my phone and I ran out the room to see if his “spirit” would answer me back. That was when I realised I had reached a new level of crazy 😉

I’ve been struggling the past few weeks because I’ve realised that the check in texts are getting non-existent. The first few weeks after someone dies, everyone wants to check in but after a few weeks everyone’s lives get back to normal. And why shouldn’t they, but I think it’s the months after that you really need your friends and family around. The moments when you forget are so difficult too. Last week I stupidly said to my wife, “I must meet Dad, I haven’t seen him in ages.” 

Forgetting that my dad had passed away and in that moment I just broke down because everything felt so real then. I miss him so much, I miss his laugh, I miss his stupid dad jokes and I miss everything annoying about him too. 

I feel like when you are grieving you expect to go through the different stages and finally get to the stage of acceptance. Truth is, it doesn’t work like that. Some days I am good and other days I am so angry and sad. I’m angry at stupid things, I am angry at people who never reached out to say I’m sorry for your loss and I am angry that my dad died and there are plenty of evil people out there still alive into their old age. There was even a stage that I was angry at people because they were happy and I was not. I didn’t mean to be like that but my wife reassured me that it was all part of grief. 

My whole life, I’ve been a little ball of anxiety and a worrier. I worry all the time about everyone else. As I often said to my wife, “that’s just how God made me.” As I mentioned above, I’ve been suffering with nerve pain, well that’s what my ms team think it is. Obviously my anxiety is telling me that it’s a brain tumour or cancer or my blood vessels are going to pop. It’s so hard not to suffer anxiety and panic attacks when the pain can become so severe, especially at night. I’ve been struggling because I find it difficult to put myself first. I always want to make sure everyone else is okay but I never make sure that I am okay. Recently I’ve tried to look after myself because since my dad passed away, I haven’t been. Ive been eating and sometimes I haven’t been. I’ve been trying to work and act normal. I’ve realised something through this, if I keep going this way, who is going to look after me?. MS is so unpredictable and I am most likely going through a flare up and so I thought I’d take a leaf out of any flight attendants book. When you are sitting on a plane and they are showing you the emergency plan, they tell you to put a mask on yourself first before you put it on a child. This made me think.

If I don’t put a metaphorical mask on myself first, then how the hell am I going to look after anyone else. If I don’t take care of myself first, then I wont be any good to anyone. I know that I will struggle with this because I feel like my whole life, I have never actually put myself first. I never cared about my MS or asked anyone for help because I was too worried about everyone else and I’d never want to worry anyone. I feel like I took on a parent role in life yet I don’t have any children. I was so busy taking care of others but who was taking care or supporting me?. I don’t even know what it’s like to look after myself because I’ve spent so long looking after others. I guess this realisation put my own health into perspective. I matter too and it’s critical that I start to look after myself physically and emotionally. If anyone reading this resonates with not having time for yourself and constantly caring for others, please know that you are important too. It’s okay to have “me” time.

Where am I going with this? Grief is difficult for everyone and it can be different for everyone too. Grief comes in many waves and comes in different forms. I like to call it the ugly stages of grief but you can heal by going through different stages. Grief is a journey, it takes you through so many emotions you never even realised you had. As I said above, I have gone through the anger stage and most people know how I love to laugh and I guess I am a kind and gentle soul. I am a big baby, if I killed a spider, I’d cry. So you know it’s bad when my sister and wife actually thought I was a bit scary when I was angry. LOL. 

 Grief is the cost we pay for loving someone so much. I’m hopeful that one day I’ll get to the stage that I’ll look back and remember my Dad fondly and all the good times we shared. I’m not there yet but hopefully one day I’ll get there without crying and say, “I’ll see you again one day Dad.”

CBD for anxiety

Most of you reading this will know who I am and what I blog about. For any of you who don’t. My name is Christina, I’m 30 years old. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2016. I Suffer with Chronic anxiety and PTSD. I talk about specific things to raise awareness.

I started using the Celtic Wind Cbd around two and a half years ago. When I first started to use it, it was out of curiosity and I was a bit sceptic because I didn’t know much about it. I was scared incase I took too much or naively thought it might get me high. I heard many stories about cbd and some of the benefits. I was struggling so much with anxiety, panic attacks and spasticity pain. I thought I’d give it a try because I was quite literally at my wits end. I was taking my anti-depressant medication for my anxiety and was doing a lot of breathing exercises to help with the overwhelming panic attacks. Truth is the medication and breathing exercises did and do work but still I would find myself still suffering panics and I would get myself wound up into a horrific state. I thought I’d give cbd oil a try and I am glad that I did.

The first cbd oil that I bought was the 500mg 5% Celtic Wind oil in the chemist for approximately 33 euro. I didn’t try it until I could feel a panic attack coming on. So for any of you, who have read my previous blogs, I suffer so much with anxiety especially when I’m travelling anywhere on my own especially since the sexual assault. I remember getting onto a bus to head down to my partner for the weekend. I got on the bus and it was packed, I suddenly felt like I was choking up and my body started to tremble. I get really bad tremors when I am panicking, not sure if it’s the MS or the anxiety but I’d imagine it’s a bit of both. I grabbed the cbd oil out of my bag and took a full dropper of it. I remember looking at the time on my phone and within 1 minute I could feel the shakes calming down and when the clock striked the next minute, I was no longer shaking. I was thinking to myself, I am panicking but yet my body didn’t react with the panic. I remember calling my partner and telling her how good this cbd stuff was. 

Over two years later and I still use cbd oil and lately I have tried out the cbd capsules. Over the past few months, my anxiety has been at an all time high. I think everyone has been suffering with anxiety over the past few months due to Coronavirus and staying at home. Thankfully now we are starting to get back to some sort of normal as the numbers are low. So during the Covid 19 Lockdown, I mentioned my anxiety was extremely high and I’m sure most of you can resonate. My MS symptoms were going crazy and I lost my dad during Covid lockdown too.

I was and still am suffering with Occipital Neuralgia, Trigeminal Neuralgia and Sinnusitis. The pain has been horrendous for the past three months but thankfully I am getting so much relief now. I was given 1000mg 10% Celtic Wind Cbd oil and it has kept me so much more relaxed. I was given tablets by the doctor, I received a nerve blocker in the hospital and my medication has been upped. So they all helped the pain but yet I still would be panicking at night. Now I am not saying that the cbd helped with pain because even after the nerve blocker and medication, I was still suffering with some pain but the higher strength cbd really did help me to relax and sleep. 

The past week I have started to take the 1200mg Celtic wind capsules just to try them out. Now I was so used to the cbd oil so I wasn’t sure how the tablet form was going to work for me. But actually you can take two of those a day. So I started taking one in the morning and one at night and it’s just as good as the oil itself. I have felt more relaxed in myself all week and haven’t once gone looking for my cbd oil. The only difference I found was that the cbd oil is great for an instant calm down affect. I feel with the capsule form, I noticed a difference over the couple of days, I was in better spirits and so much more relaxed but I think for when I know I am anxious or having a panic attack, the cbd oil’s benefits hit much quicker for a more instant relief.

Achy muscles?. I’ve also tried the 300mg muscle balm. So over lockdown I went out for a couple of jogs and my god this stuff is good. Now I am not an athlete but I usually spasm quite a bit in my legs and calves. So I actually put some of the balm on before my jog and after. It smells so nice and makes the muscles feel relaxed and less stiff and rigid. The good thing about it is how long it lasts. If I was very active, I would buy it but for now i think the cbd oil is my favourite to use because of its calming affects.

If you are someone new to the cbd scene, I would recommend the following :

  1. You are 18+ and suffer with mild to moderate anxiety (1200mg Celtic wind capsules) You could start with just taking one a day if you are unsure.
  2. You are 18+ and Have frequent panic attacks and have never tried cbd oil before (500mg Celtic Wind cbd oil)  Might be a good place to start. If you find it beneficial you could up the dose if you need stronger but 500mg is an excellent choice and also the cheapest.
  3. You are 18+ and Suffer with anxiety and would have frequent long-lasting panic attacks and need something to calm and help you sleep better too (1000mg 10% Celtic Wind Cbd oil or 1500mg cbd oil)

I will continue to use the capsules twice a day to see the long-lasting results. But I will keep using the cbd oil 1000mg or 15000mg Celtic wind oil for when I know I am going out and may get anxious if I am on my own as I feel the oil definitely gives me a calming down affect within minutes. 

Hope this may help some of you find which cbd products may suit you best.

Christina xxx

Losing my Dad during Covid 19

My dad (Papi) as I called him died this day two weeks ago suddenly at the age of 60. Ugh I can’t believe it’s two weeks already, although it seems like years at this stage, sometimes days. I am revisiting grief so soon. Many questions ran and still run through my mind. “How is this fair God”, “Why God why?”, “Is heaven even real”, “I didn’t get to say goodbye”, “What if I never see him again?”, “Ive enough going on, how is any of this fucking fair.” I am struggling to even remember what the last thing I said to him was but I usually ended all my calls with love you dad and he’d reply, “love you too Chrissy.” I wasn’t ready or prepared for my dad to die but is there ever a perfect time to die. That’s the thing, I’m struggling to cope but I usually grieve quite quickly but then again grief is something you revisit all the time. Sadly, I know this too well due to my life with MS.

For the past seven weeks I’ve been experiencing Trigeminal Neuralgia and nerve pain in my face, head neck and arm. It’s really shite!! I am a cryer, I like to get it all out but this neuralgia is making it so difficult. The more I use my facial muscles the worse the neuralgia gets. Sounds pretty bleak, huh!
I was the one to get the phone call saying my dad had dropped dead. Not gonna lie, I was in shock and full blown denial. I just didn’t believe it. No one’s grief is any greater or lesser than anyone else’s so please don’t take me up the wrong way. But losing a father or someone you love suddenly and during Covid is absolutely horrific.

From the moment I got the phone-call all I wanted to do was head back to Drogheda to see my family. Isn’t that what everyone would want… But I couldn’t. Why you may ask? Well I’m on immunosuppressant therapy for my Multiple Sclerosis. I had been cocooning since before St.Patrick’s Day. So has my older sister with her daughter who has CF. Thankfully my Dad was Covid Negative and I got to go home the following day. Now imagine losing your dad outside of Covid, you’d hug your mam, siblings and friends, sit around cry, laugh and grieve together. But Not during Covid, I got home to my parents house, got in the door and sat two meters away from my mother, my sister and my brother. I couldn’t even hug them, my heart was breaking all over again. My dad died the Saturday and I didn’t get to see his body until the Tuesday.

My anxiety has been through the roof and I ended up in A+E twice since my dad died because of the pain I’m in. They told me it was nerve pain and did a quick neurological exam and said they didn’t see anything sinister. I am so anxious all the time that I honestly thought I was dying, Ive never been in so much physical pain as well as emotional pain. Thankfully my MS team don’t want to leave me in this pain so hopefully Monday or Tuesday Il be getting an injection into my neck to relieve the pain.

My belief is that our body is literally just a vessel and that we are souls just living in a body. My dad was one of my soul-mates, we were so similar , same sense of humour and we’ve both been through a lot in our lives and we both suffer with anxiety. I knew that it was just his body and that his soul is gone to heaven or the after life, well that’s my belief. Or is it, I just don’t know any more. It broke my heart saying goodbye to his dead body but I just had to cling to the hope that it was simply just his body. It was awful because normally outside of Covid, you would be able to see them for a while before the coffin closes but all we got was one hour. One hour to say our goodbyes and it was tough because it was shared time also. Must give credit to Townley’s funeral home in Drogheda because they allowed us down the Wednesday morning before his funeral to say our farewells before they shut his coffin. They were very professional and even brought a little seat for me to sit in at the cemetery. They played my Dad’s and my favourite song that we’d sing together out in the garden, “Heart Of Gold” by Neil Young as his coffin was being carried out.

Funerals during Covid is limited to 10 people. This was so difficult, I sat with my mam and younger sister but two metres apart. My wife sat on a seat in the aisle across from me. My older sister sat behind with her boyfriend. My brother sat apart from us too with his wife. My dads friend and uncle also sat on their own. It was horrific and very daunting knowing we could only invite 10 inside. Although my Dad grew up in an orphanage so we don’t really know the rest of his family. Some came up and paid their respects which was really nice and they also got in to the funeral and sat at back so there was probably 12 at funeral. One person made things a bit difficult. What’s a funeral without a bit of drama, huh!. Haven’t seen her since I was a kid but she thought she and her dad had more of a right to be at the funeral than my sister in law, my wife and the grandchildren. Talk about making a really difficult time even more difficult. Obviously if there was no Covid, we would have wanted everyone there but we were literally given a few minutes the day before to come up with ten people, obviously there was ten of us that were immediate. Under any other circumstance, everyone would have been welcome because everyone wants a great send off for their loved ones.

I am so thankful because although only 10 was allowed in the church, people were welcome to stand in the church car-park and social distance to show their respects. There was so many family members, friends and old neighbours showing their support by adhering to social distancing standards and to give my dad a great send off. Some of Dad’s family even travelled up from Cavan which would have meant so much to him and us. Just to see my friends standing apart and away from me, meant more to me than they’ll ever know.There are literally no words that I can use to describe how much that meant to me. I will never forget it, honestly. Up in the cemetery, there were so many more people there to pay their respects also adhering to the social distancing. My dad would have loved all the attention and to be honest he got a great send off.

Where am I at today?, I’m still in shock and think I will be for a while. I am angry, angry that I didn’t get to talk to him or be with him when he died. I’m grieving and I know the feeling all too well. I know that il remember my dad forever and I have to cling on to all the good memories. All the fun times when I was a child and stupid things that we’d joke about. My dad was a kind man, a gentle soul and the most forgiving person that I’d ever known. He knew I loved him and I know he loved me and until we meet again Papi, please shine your light down on me.

When I am weak then I am strong

This blog I write will focus on anxiety and little tips I have learned along the way. Ive been suffering with anxiety for a very long time. Ive always been an anxious person since I was a child but since Ive been 19 it has spiralled out of control. As yous all know, I have multiple sclerosis but my anxiety has been with me long before that diagnosis. Some of you may have read previous blogs and know that I’ve endured specific dark times and I’ve suffered with anxiety, depression and PTSD. I can say now, I haven’t been depressed in a few years now, obviously I get sad sometimes but I’m not depressed. I do however suffer with anxiety and its very very debilitating. I sometimes find that its not ms that stops me from doing certain things, its my anxiety and it feels disabling most of the time.

On a good day, I usually only have one or two panic attacks, but I’m used to waking up everyday and feeling anxious from the moment I wake up until the moment I fall asleep, having maybe 8 panic attacks daily. It’s hard to enjoy life when this invisible monster is taking away what life should be about.

Ive been on and off anti depressants since I’m 19. You name it, Ive probably taking it. I came off anti depressants for a few months and it didn’t end well. I thought I could help myself without them. Truth is, I did need them but I also had to help myself and find ways to cope. There is no shame on being on anti depressants and I am also a firm believer in, doing things to help your depression and anxiety too. I’m basically trying to say that I believe in taking my anti depressants to help with my anxiety but I also believe that anti depressants alone isn’t going to help it go away.

I am on 50mg sertraline for my anxiety, which is probably the lowest dose of anti depressants I’ve ever been on. My doctor prescribed it to me a few years ago, I signed up for counselling in the Rape Crisis centre and got some cbt too. Going to counselling was probably the best thing that I ever done for myself.

Do I still have anxiety?? Yes I do. Do I think it will ever go?? Most likely not!!

Do I still experience anxiety on a daily basis? Yes I do!!

Do I think I can help myself and my anxious self?? 100%

Here our a few tips that I do every day to help myself feel

  1. Safe
  2. Calm
  3. To be in the present moment
  • I use cbd oil to help calm myself. This is not an advert, its just something I take that makes me feel that much calmer in minutes. I usually take it every night before I go to sleep or if I’m out and about and feel a panic attack coming on, I will take a dropper.
  • I meditate a lot. I use guided meditations, some off YouTube and I practice meditation on a daily basis, every night before I go to sleep and during the day when I feel especially anxious. It really helps calm me down and I feel better after I meditate.
  • I do yoga too, I’m not great at yoga but its good for my strength, MS and good for my mind.
  • I try to drink more water

Sometimes if I’m not doing my guided meditation, if I’m out and about, with friends, during the day and I feel anxious, I just close my eyes and meditate myself. I find it important to remember “when I am weak, then I am strong”. You can tell yourself that too. I think it’s a verse in the bible but its very relatable to this experience. When you have a panic attack, you are vulnerable but you are also strong.

1. I take a deep breathe in for four seconds and I breathe out for six seconds, this breathing method actually calms your central nervous system instantly.

2. I am aware of the anxious sensations and tell them its okay I know this will pass

3. I take my breath up to these awful sensations and tell them that I accept these sensations but I reject the fear

4. I surrender my pain to God (or whoever you believe or don’t  believe in). That’s just my way of dealing.

5. I remind myself to be in the present moment and that once I accept these anxious sensations its then that I am in control

6. I remind myself that when I am weak its then that I am strong.

I know this is easier said than done, believe me there have been times that meditating didn’t work and I just have to ride the panic attack out. But the more I practice meditation the more I am noticing an improvement in my anxiety. I hope these tips might help someone out there. In light of recent events (covid19), I think everyone’s anxiety is through the roof. It’s important to remember to stay at home, wash your hands and try to limit how much news you take in on a daily basis because too much sad news can really affect your mental health. Stay safe everyone and remember this too shall pass.

Thanks for reading xx Christina


Cop on the FUP, Stay in your GAF!

Hi everyone,

In light of recent events (Covid19) scaring the bejesus out of many people around the globe, I wanted to write a short piece. So we know the Coronavirus is now in Ireland and we are trying to stop the spread. The government have ensured that all pubs will close until the end of March. The government also has told people since schools/colleges and crèches are closed that we should stay at home or work from home as much as we can.

What have I seen recently? People ignoring this, people panic buying and people being nothing but selfish. My friends shared a video with me last night, of a bunch of people in temple bar having the craic and drinking their pints!. I don’t mean to be a party pooper BUT for once in your life cop the FUP on! This virus may only be a small flu like virus for you but it can be quite deadly and life threatening to many people around you. So please think of others after you’ve been out drinking around hundreds of other people. Please do not visit elderly family members or those with compromised immune systems.

I’m not gonna lie, in the beginning I didn’t realise the seriousness of the virus and yes people die of the flu all the time but we have a vaccine for that. I get my flu vaccine each year because I am part of the ‘at risk’ group. Does having Multiple Sclerosis increase my chance of catching this virus?No, I’d have the same risk as anyone else. But does my treatment increase my risk?? 100% YES!!

People like myself who have MS take many medications which are for symptoms and that’s not the problem. Most of us take a DMT (Disease modifying therapy) which is our treatment to slow down the progression of MS. Of course its a wonderful thing, we have something to help slow it down but with such medication comes risks. The treatment I take is called Gilenya and how does it work? Well it SUPPRESSES my IMMUNE SYSTEM so my lymphocyte count drops. Essentially if my cells are low, they don’t have time to attack my central nervous system (brain & spinal cord). So for many of you who think MS is a disease of the muscles, which surprisingly a lot of people who I’ve met, previously though it was that. Nope its a disease of the brain &spinal cord. Anyways, side effect of having low white cells or lymphocytes means our immune systems are compromised and therefore a small flu for you could be a life or death situation for us. I know many others who are on gilenya or monthly infusions which pose the same risks.

To be honest I know there are others out there who are also at risk or maybe even more at risk, there are thousands of people living with MS in Ireland with these risks, there are hundreds of cystic fibrosis patients, thousands with asthma, thousands with COPD, thousands of elderly people and thousands of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Yes we all need to practice good hygiene, so please wash your hands properly and if you’re out and about and cant get to a sink, use hand sanitizer.

It’s not the end of the world, if we act now we can save many lives. If you think about it, its only for a few weeks. I’m sure there will be plenty of time in the coming months to go out on the sesh with your friends. Ive been shocked by seeing kids in groups playing in the playground, teens all hanging around in massive groups and don’t get me Started on the people who cough into the air. It pisses me off, so many people take these things for granted! I know I did in my life pre-MS but its time not to think of just yourself but everybody else around you, especially the most vulnerable.

I’m not sure if Ireland will go on a complete lockdown but I do think its a strong possibility in the weeks ahead. So I’m hoping everyone will be safe and stay safe. Please look out for one another and look out for our most vulnerable and for the love of god Stay at home for **** sake,  I for one will be staying in hiding until all this blows over.

Thanks for reading xx Christina

For my non Irish followers, the following terms defined:

GAF= House, your home, where you live

Cop on the FUP= Cop on to yourself the fuck


10 years of shame!

So I’ve been himming and hawing about whether to put something so personal out here on social media. As some of you may know, I blog with MS Ireland as part of a group blog called ‘MS and Me’. I do my own personal blogs too here on my website and on instagram!! I always like to look at things on the bright side of the road, so to speak but I find myself sometimes getting angry over minuscule stuff and sometimes I feel like I need to let anger out but don’t want to come across negative so I don’t usually end up pressing the post button.

I normally blog about Multiple Sclerosis, so this blog is a bit different. As I mentioned before, I didn’t know whether to post it or not but I am hoping by posting this, I may be helping even one person out there who may need to hear my story and how it ended.

As you may know,  I have MS and I suffer with on-going anxiety and several anxiety disorders. I was diagnosed in 2009 with PTSD. Again in 2013, I was diagnosed with PTSD & agoraphobia after I left my job in the bank. My life was a mess. When I was in college too, it appeared to many people that I was just a messer but that was not true.  I avoided any seriousness as much as I could. Where did this all begin??

Ive always been a happy outgoing person & Ive always been anxious as far back as i can remember but the tip of the ice-berg was in 2009 when 19 year old me went out with my gay best friend on a night out. I was such a hippy and a big child. I remember the clothes I was wearing, shorts from pull & bear with purple tights underneath, a black top and black cardigan!! An innocent night out with my friend turned into something that would change my life and change me forever.


I was sexually assaulted by someone I didn’t know. I never spoke to before, I never even seen before and he forcefully went inside me!! I don’t want to get too graphic but it was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced. I was screaming and crying, shouting and someone rang the guards. The guards were absolutely amazing and they asked me to give a statement & asked my friend to give a statement and other people too. I didn’t really see the relevance at the time but turns out its very important in court, what people see before or after events. They also sent me to Rothunda hospital for DNA forensics too, which was horrific in itself. To have vaginal swabs, I was so embarrassed!!. I’m glad I went to rothunda because they found his dna on me. I was given a leaflet about sexual assaults and a helpline number and was sent home.


I went into work four days later, I worked in Penneys at the time and acted like nothing happened and continued to do so for many years. In 2012 I got a call and a court date was set. I couldn’t believe it, I had to take the week off college and I didn’t go into work that weekend either. It’s the most horrendous thing, having to stand up in court and see someone who invaded me, who did something so evil, so cruel and I hated him. I wanted to kick him, punch him, I hated him because of how he made me feel. The court was a four day trial and bare in mind, I had no professional support. I was cross examined and it was so degrading, What where you wearing?? How much did you drink??

After that he was questioned, to which he just shook his head and denied everything with one word answers, yes, no, no etc. Then the witnesses were up next and I soon realised the important role they played. There was loads of important witnesses to what happened before & after and also the person who thankfully called the guards.

I realise this blog is very long so I do apologise. At the end of court, he was found unanimously GUILTY!! He was sentenced to 3 years in prison with 2 years suspended, which meant he would serve a year which is actually 9 months. I know our justice system is a joke!! The DPP appealed it and in 2013 (when I was working in the bank) he was re-sentenced to another 3 full years in prison!!


The thing that hurt the most, wasn’t even the assault, it was the years of fear that followed, I’d be afraid of people getting close to me, I am a control freak anywhere I go, I need to sit on the outside because it makes me feel safe, I can get up and run if I need to. I need to be able to run off fast to have a panic attack. Intimacy has been very hard for me, I used to have to be extremely drunk to have sex because I didn’t like people touching me. I used to end up liking people & breaking up with them or not even give it a chance because I knew I’d have to have sex eventually with them. I felt broken for a very long time!! The first boyfriend I had after the assault, I ended breaking up with because I didn’t feel good enough, I felt disgusting and dirty…

Then I discovered, I liked some women and I got even worse! For years I ran away from relationships because I truly felt never good enough and if people knew this about me, they’d look at me differently or see me as a broken person. Obviously these things changed when I met my beautiful wife Siobhan.

I also went to the Rape Crisis Centre in Drogheda in 2017 after i was diagnosed with MS. And my amazing counsellor helped me out so so so much!! She told me about how the rape crisis centres actually send a counsellor with women/men who have been sexually assaulted, to court with them for support. I obviously didn’t know about that when I was in court but its so important to know these things.

As I said, I didn’t know whether to post this or not. Ive suffered with extreme anxiety especially since this traumatic event in my life, but counselling really helped me come to terms and to live my life again. I am free now!! I spent a long time blaming myself, did I come across slutty? Did I deserve it? Is it my fault??

Believe me I spent about 10 years feeling ashamed of myself for a crime someone else committed!! I did nothing wrong! I am a strong person and I am hoping that this blog might help even one person get through such a horrific ordeal. Our justice system is terrible but its not all bad outcomes, my attacker got sentenced and it gave me some sort of sense of justice. There is also a lot of victim supports out there too. For anyone who is thinking of speaking out, please do and if you need someone to talk to, you can message me!!

Okay I’m gonna stop crying now, I think I’m a bit afraid of putting this out there for all to see, but I think the time is right & it has set me free in a way

Ten years later and I have never loved myself more, I am happy, content, managing my anxiety as best I can & making the most of my beautiful Life

Thanks for reading xx Christina


If Trees Could Speak to us

My mind has always been that of an over thinker, sometimes for the worst but also for the best. Since I was a child, my mind has always been in over drive, I was always and still am a happy person but I also feel a lot. As a child and through out my life I’ve often heard, “you’re way too sensitive”, “you’re too soft, you need to toughen up”. Well my response to that is, there is no such thing as being too sensitive. I am just a sensitive person and that is just the way I am and I would never change that about myself. I feel fully, when I am happy, I feel joy intensely and when I hurt for myself or others, I get deeply upset.


Ive been through a lot of in my short life, heartache, traumatic experiences and struggled and still struggle with many mental health disorders and issues. I battle them every day and it is hard but I do believe there is also light at the end of the tunnel (so cheesy) I know!!


Being diagnosed with MS never made me feel like my life was over or anything like that. In fact when I was first diagnosed and remember saying to my partner who was upset, “I’ve been through worse, if I got through everything else in my past, I can live with this, I may struggle with bad days but we can get through this.” Not gonna lie, I have days, weeks even where I am so angry with MS but I always think to myself, I might wish I didn’t have MS but I am glad it is me who has it and not someone I love. I cope better when things happen to me but I’m not great when anything happens to the people I love.


My mind works on over time and I don’t remember a time in my life where it didn’t. But as I got thinking I remembered stuff I used to think of and day dream about when I was a child and it really got me thinking about a simple way to de-stress and release all the negative thoughts that wanders around my mind on a daily basis. When I was a kid I used to look up at the trees and think, “how old are all these trees?”, “how many decades, centuries have they lived through”, “How many stories must they have”. As I look back upon this memory I learned a very valuable lesson.


It sounds very childish but its a simple thought that could change the way we look at things and it did for me.  If trees could talk, would they tell us about all the seasons they’ve lived trough, all the conversations they’ve heard, all the celebrations they’ve seen, all the wars they’ve seen, all the happy conversations they’ve heard and all the conversations they’ve heard about peoples struggles.

Trees have probably seen more people walking down paths at different stages of their lives. Some good and some bad. All the get togethers, celebrations, breakups, new moms walking with their newborns, happy families walking their dogs, people walking by at funerals etc. The trees have seen it all and yet they stand tall. This can be seen as a metaphor, at some stage in all of our lives we will be faced with difficult times but we can get through it. Just like the people who lived before us and those who will live on after us.

Another lesson that came from my love of trees, was that trees breathe in what’s good for them and breathes out what’s bad for them. They give us life, they help give us the air that we breathe. So maybe when times get tough or we’ve too much going on in our minds, we need to be more like trees. How??

No matter how tough times can get, we must stand tall & We breathe in the good and let out all the bad!


Thank you for reading!

This Day Two Years Ago

This day two years ago my journey with MS began. It was Halloween weekend when I was admitted to Beaumont hospital with Tonic Spasms that led to involuntary body movements that would leave me stuck in an awful position with my leg turned in, hand in a claw like position and paralysis down the left side of my body. On top of that my speech was slurred so the days leading up to my Beaumont admission, I actually thought that it sounded like some sort of stroke, but I called my GP and assured them I that I didn’t think it was a stroke. They sent me straight to Beamount immediately because it was happening for days and only getting worse to the point I couldn’t keep hold of anything and would randomly get a tonic spasm attack. They were so embarrassing and of course when it first happened it was in public, I was on the main street in Drogheda, I tried to ask someone for help, but my speech was so fuzzy and I was heaped up against a wall. People walked past, and one man thought I was drunk. It really showed me that people often judge and ignore others even when someone needs medical help. But that’s a story for another day but if you ever see someone struggling on the street, maybe check if they are okay and not give a quick judgement of what you think is going on, because if they need medical attention it could be life saving or important that they are checked out.


I ended up in Beaumont on the Halloween bank holiday weekend. After a few days of being in a bed, when all staff was back on the Tuesday, I had an EEG and MRI. The staff recorded my spasms many times because they told me that they are quite rare. That itself was embarrassing but at this stage, I didn’t care I just wanted to get “fixed” and go home. My body didn’t feel like my own and I was terrified of what the results would be. I knew in my heart that it was most likely MS but I was afraid it would be something much worse. I’m not really a religious person but I went down to the chapel and prayed so hard that it would be MS and not a brain tumour. I even found myself bargaining with this God that I was praying to. Thinking that I had got sick because I was a “bad person” and that if I was a better person would it go away. My sister assured me that I wasn’t a “bad person” but a good and kind person which I kinda knew already (jokes). Crazy stuff I know but when you’ve had little to no sleep for days and having these attacks, I literally felt like a mad woman.


Few hours after my MRI, they said that there was a lot of inflammation on my brain and that it could be one of two things, PML or MS. PML is a rare brain infection that is fatal. It can result in one of two things; death or severe disability. They told me it was most likely to be MS and so they ran other tests. I had my lumbar puncture done that day which is often called spinal tap. As the hours passed my mind was still focusing on PML, I don’t think I slept a wink that night.


So now we get to the day, I was alone in my hospital bed, this day two years ago and the neurologist came into my room and said, “do you know anything about MS”?? To which I answered, yes, I’ve seen people with MS growing up and I know a few people around my age with MS. She then responded, “Christina you have Multiple Sclerosis, how do you feel about that” and I said “Thank God for that, we can work with that, I’m okay with that and I know I will be, thank you, does that mean I can go home now.” She then went on to tell me that I would be called in on the first week of December because the lumbar puncture results take six weeks and they couldn’t start me on any Disease modifying therapies (DMT’s) until them results were in. So she prescribed me baclofen and amitriptyline and two days later I was discharged and sent home.


Today is the day that marks two years since I heard those words, “Christina you have Multiple Sclerosis” and oh how my life has changed. I guess that means today marks my MS Birthday. In the moments I found out that news, my world had flipped up-side down, but I was okay with it. My family came to visit me and thought I’d be in hysterics, but I wasn’t. Obviously, I spoke before about the stages of grief I went through; denial, anger, sense of loss, guilt etc and sometimes I still visit those stages. Living with MS can be hard, but my life has changed in ways that I would have never imagined.


Since my diagnosis, I literally appreciate life so much more. I do not take anything for-granted. Sometimes I struggle to explain how much I’ve changed. It’s like I don’t see life physically or emotionally the same anymore. Before my diagnosis I can honestly say I didn’t appreciate the gift that life is. I took my body for-granted so much. Every day when I wake up I am so grateful that I can walk or simply hold a book or make my food. I am thankful that I can eat my food without assistance. I am thankful that I can walk down the street. MS is so unpredictable, I appreciate my good days because I don’t know what might be ahead of me tomorrow. I am thankful for being able to do the simplest of tasks because that’s the thing, people spend so much of their time giving out about things which is a part of life but if I could give anyone any piece of advice it would be:

Life is too short to complain about the little things, be happy for all things big and small, especially small things because small things to you could be big things to someone else. Be thankful that you have your health, be thankful that you can walk, talk and eat. Be thankful for your body that is physically abled because no one knows what life may bring tomorrow, so don’t think you’re invincible and take your life for granted. Don’t be quick to judge others, no-one can afford to judge. Be thankful for the use of your legs, hands, body, vision and overall health. Try not to complain easily about silly things because it is often done, and I see it every day. Instead you should be thankful for all the things in your life because when you lose certain things, you will wish you appreciated them in the first place. And Finally Appreciate the beauty in EVERYTHING!!


Thank you for reading, Christina xx

Feeling like a bit of a Misfit



Multiple Sclerosis can be an isolating disease and recently I have really been feeling this way about my life with MS. As much as I know that I am a positive person, sometimes its hard not to get upset over noticing changes of any kind, whether that’s new symptoms, feeling MS has taken things away from you, feeling your energy isn’t the same etc. To be honest, I am the type of person who believes in life you can achieve anything you put your mind to and you can become whatever you dream to be in life. With that said, MS can knock you back and because its so unpredictable can intervene with plans and socializing comfortably.


I always try to look at things on the brighter side of life but lately I cannot help but feel angry, angry at a lot of things, at people and mainly at myself. I feel so anxious and awkward and feel like even simply saying hello to people is a struggle. I think why I feel isolated is because these symptoms I experience most of the time are invisible. There has been so many times that I’ve been sitting with family/friends and because nobody can see the electric shocks or vibrating sensation or fatigue that I am feeling, it can feel isolating. I never really mention it in those moments because sometimes I don’t see the point, like if they can’t see it, are they gonna understand? This is how my anxious mind works, although its true people may not understand but at least they could try if I would just open my mouth and speak the truth about how I am feeling.


Over the past few months, especially over the summer, my fatigue has been really bad. To the point that Id need a rest after a shower. I know that sounds crazy but it is true. The basic task of lifting my arm would exhaust me so much but once again I kept silent and would power on through without telling anyone about how exhausted I was over the simplest of things. After every few steps I would take, I would need to rest. To be honest I am my own worst enemy. Since my diagnosis I have done four 10k’s and the last one I really shouldn’t have taken part in. I feel like I only done the last 10k to prove a point. To prove a point to who though?? In my own mind, I felt like people probably doubt me, they doubt my ability BUT that is most likely untrue. I’ve realised I was trying to prove a point to myself. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to challenge yourself and test your limits but I knew myself that my fatigue was so bad that I shouldn’t have taken part. I just about managed to reach the finish line. I felt so mad at myself for not getting a new PB and I felt guilty for my partner because I knew I slowed her down. After that 10k, I literally couldn’t walk for two days because I pushed myself beyond my limits.


I haven’t met up with my friends in months because I was having bad fatigue over the summer and my symptoms were frequent and to be honest some are embarrassing symptoms and the rest were invisible so I felt that people wouldn’t believe me if I said I was unwell and had to leave etc so instead I just never met up with friends. This worries me because I feel that I haven’t socialised with friends in months, and I don’t even know how to function normally around people anymore. I used to be so outgoing and a bubbly person and now I feel like a misfit.  In this way, this is how MS has made me feel isolated. I have gone to gigs and I even won a day ticket to Electric Picnic. I love music so much and live music, I was always that person who would be up jumping around and enjoying dancing and bopping along to the music. I have been struggling with anxiety the past nine years and since my diagnosis, it has put a serious strain on me and my daily life. I used to look forward to gigs and now it fills me with excitement and then dreaded worries and fears. When my anxiety kicks off, everything else that goes along with MS kicks off. The fear of being at a gig and jumping around loving life one minute and walking off because of invisible symptoms can be a huge worry.


Even recently I was at the annual MS conference, it was a great event with great people but I felt like I didn’t fit in, I actually felt so out of place and anxious. This is no ones fault, the people were great but as people got talking, random people, I realised I had no symptoms that any of them had, like literally NONE bar fatigue. So I guess that is one! No one heard of my first symptoms which literally made me feel like, do I even have MS? Do I actually fit in with all these people? I really thought that at an MS event, I would feel at home but I didn’t. Now obviously I know MS is still new to me, I have only been diagnosed just under two years. So I do know that MS is different for every individual with the disease and I know I have so much to be thankful for. At the conference I learned so much from the different speakers and had a great evening with some new friends. I think because I haven’t been socializing in months that this perhaps is why I felt so awkward and perhaps going to an MS conference was very overwhelming. Even though at times I felt awkward, I took a lot of positives from that conference, yes everyone’s MS is different and not all msers will have the exact same symptoms. There was so much information on brain health and its importance so I’ve literally gained so much knowledge from the event and made new friends. There was a lot of talk about medications, diet, brain health, sleep and I took a lot of information home with me which is always a positive.


I recently had my consultation with my neurologist and so I questioned her about my MS diagnosis. Part of me felt like I was going back to the denial stage of my grief. I asked her ; are you definitely sure I have MS? She assured me that yes I do have MS and it just so happens that my very first symptom at onset is a classic symptom of MS but is very rare, like less than 5% type of rare. So I had to laugh at this because it got me thinking that is just my luck. But you know what; I feel better now that I know that, because I guess I am unique and so is my MS and so is everyone’s MS and their MS journey. I feel guilty for feeling this way and for feeling awkward and for cancelling meet-ups with friends but that is just the nature of MS. Sometimes we will have to cancel plans and its not our fault. It is important to look after our body’s, health and mental health and so I propose to myself a new promise, I promise to speak up and not feel guilty about not being able to do certain things but I will never give up and I will always try my damn best to meet up with the people I love.


PS. Sorry I am sooooo awkward 😀

Seeing past the disability (how MS changed my perception)

What do you see when you look in the mirror?


Sometimes I wonder how everybody views themselves and not just themselves but people with disabilities, illnesses, whether they are visible or invisible. I always thought of myself as a kind and compassionate person that didn’t have any prejudices. But turns out a lot of us walk this earth, thinking that we don’t but some where deep down within ourselves we do. I am going to talk for a small bit about invisible disabilities and how being diagnosed with MS and living with this condition has changed my outlook on the world of disabilities. As I’ve said, I have never thought that I had any prejudices, but the thing is I did. I have been around people with disabilities when I was a child, but these other children I would have spent time with would have had a physical disability. So in my mind as a child and perhaps teenager, I would have seen a disability as being physical and visible. Rewind, to a few years ago, I would have been that person, if I saw someone else parking in a disabled parking space and saw them getting out and walking, I would have thought to myself “ how dare they park there, they are clearly not disabled”. But that was my ignorance to the fact that millions of people suffer from invisible disabilities. Being diagnosed and living with MS has really opened my eyes and maybe I have learned the hard way that people make assumptions and judge others on a daily basis. I know that people have judged me, because I look completely fine on the outside. So in the past when I have been seconds away from wetting myself and I’d run to the closest disabled toilet, I would see those eyes on me and yes people have said horrible things to me or rolled their eyes and muttered nasty things under their breath. Back then, this would have upset me but now it doesn’t because I realised these people who do that, are only looking at the visible and perhaps have no incline what it would be like to live with an invisible illness. At the end of the day, I have only used the disabled toilets in public when I have been in desperate need. I don’t think that these people who are judging are thinking to themselves, what it would be like to be a 20 something year old that can’t hold in their pee or imagine the embarrassment of having an accident in public.


Moving on to how we view ourselves or how we view people with disabilities. I often think of those motivational speakers or the scene from the movie, ‘Cool Runnings’ when the character Junior is asked what he sees when he looks in the mirror. The things is, I think when most people find out that someone they know or love is sick or diagnosed with an incurable disease, people tend to feel sorry for them. I know I have done this in the past and it is probably a natural thing to feel because we are all human beings and hate the thought of someone we love suffering or being in pain. In the past I have looked at myself and felt sad that maybe I am not the same as I was a few years ago. I feared that I would lose friends and people around me because maybe I don’t have the same spark or energy that I used to. This would make me sad, when I looked at myself and got angry because my legs were too heavy and I’d remember a time when I was full of life and able to do things spontaneously, where now I feel I have to reserve energy if I know I have an event or day out coming up. I guess what I am trying to say it is okay to have those days where you feel angry or sad because your body is not co-operating with you. As I always say, anytime I experience a negative, I always experience the opposite side of the spectrum too.


So yes I have days when I look at myself and perhaps feel sorry for myself or angry at my body or perhaps my brain for not communicating sufficiently to my body. Even down to the little things that we all take for granted because the ability to walk, talk, hold things, stand, eat, they are all really a gift. So on the other end of things, I have a lot to be thankful for. Now, most of the time when I look at myself in the mirror, what do I see? I see strength, courage and determination. I see how strong I am and how strong I have been. The strength to live everyday with a chronic illness and get up out of bed and to face the day. MS is so unpredictable and I do things that I can everyday because I might not be giving that luxury tomorrow. I am forever grateful for the things that I can do and this makes me want to live my life to the fullest. I know this sounds cheesy but I am now a live in the moment kinda gal. I also see determination when I look at myself because here I am with a smile on my face and try as much not to complain because I really do think, I could have it much worse. I am a very positive person and that’s not saying that I can’t feel down or depressed because sometimes I do but I look at myself and I can see where my determination has taken me. I sometimes think that maybe when something happens in your life whether it’s a diagnosis or something else, it can put you in fight or flight mode. For me, I feel like I have taken MS by my two hands and I will fight it every step of the way, as much as I can. I will not let it take my dreams and hopes away from me. I know deep down I will always have fears about the what if’s and all that goes with MS, but I also am very determined to get where I want to be in life and I know I will succeed, even if that might mean finding loopholes. I think anyone in this life can do what they want or dream to do as long as they believe in themselves and are determined.


So maybe the next time if you see someone with an illness or disability, instead of seeing the visible or perhaps what they have lost or pitying them. Maybe look at how strong they are to live each day with hope and how far they have come and after all they have been through they are happy in life with hopes and dreams like everyone else in the world. After all having a disability or illness doesn’t define people. I guess it can be hard to understand completely what someone is going through unless you are in their shoes. There are so many young children, teenagers and adults out there fighting different illnesses to live everyday, there are young adults being diagnosed every day with a debilitating and progressive disease like MS and so many other conditions. To be honest, it doesn’t matter to me how many likes I get on Facebook or Instagram, what I really care about is hoping that I can help even one person by my blog posts. If I can help or inspire one person, that means more to me than all the likes in the world. So if someone who is newly diagnosed is reading this, or with any other life long disease etc, please know that your diagnosis doesn’t define you. When you look in the mirror, there are hundreds of reasons that you are more than your illness, you can achieve what you want in life and never ever stop believing in yourself or your dreams because If I can chase my dreams in life, then anyone can.