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Who is The Chronic Elephant?

ME and Chronic pain keep me bed-bound... and creating art and writing blogs keep me sane.

I blog about how to cope when pain is bad, what it feels like to receive well meant advice ( don't do it people!), how to keep your faith when you don't get better, explorations into planet Gluten Free, and how to avoid steering your disability scooter through something the dog owner should have bagged and binned..
The images posted on here are of me reclaiming my life and living it one tiny bit at a time. You can see art works inspired by my everyday life, about coping with life in bed, and images of flowers, plants, imaginary worlds, my faith and my felt tips.

You will also find my mumblings- writings, thoughts and blog entries, about being me and about having ME!

I have been writing blogs on ME and disability for the last year using 'the elephant' avatar and name. It started as a joke...(I am not likely to be wandering 'back to the jungle' anytime soon)....but I think the l…

Book Review: ReasonsTo Stay Alive by Matt Haig.

There are no two ways around it: Mental Illness is one of the most common experiences you can have, as a human being.

Whether you are feeling anxious and/or depressed because of something tangible that has happened in your life, or whether you can't find a reason, but feel terrible anyway....then I would like to recommend a book, that both of us Pachyderms here at The Elephant House have found really useful:

Matt Haig shares his own journey of suddenly having to live with disabling mental illness as a young man. He shares the darkness and difficulty, but also the things that may be helpful for the reader. It is a brutal account of living with severe anxiety and depression...but unlike many other books it is not written from the perspective of someone who has returned to the woolly comfort of so called 'Normality'( whatever that is!)

This is not a 'self help' guide as such, but it is a travel guide through one man's journeying through life in the midst of being chr…


The Uk is experiencing weather so hot, that one tabloid paper is claiming it to be the hottest temperatures for 400 years! It is certainly the hottest since 1976, when my 8 year old self donned a sunhat and endured a broiling ferry journey to the Isle of Wight.

...And, where am I, you may ask? Well, I am largely glued to a sweating bed, and very much under house-arrest in a steaming hot flat. Having spent all Winter rejoicing at the approach of milder temperatures, I feel like a 5-year old, who having heard the jangle of the  ice- cream van approaching, is told : 'No ice cream for you, Missy!'

We are two frustrated elephants. Having had to return early from a couple of days break, holiday plans are very much on hold.Managing chronic health requires nerves of steel and the ability to 'keep on keeping on', when it feels much easier to tantrum like a toddler and lay face down on the carpet.

With my energies absorbed by medical appointments, I have felt fortunate to have drag…


Here in the Uk, we have been enjoying unprecedented hot weather, and I have been craving the daily 'gelati' I enjoyed when I lived in Italy.

I do occasionally treat myself if there is 'real' ice cream on offer, but it always causes my eczema to flare-up and my chest to feel congested. I also have problems with commercially made soya ice cream- basically, any food with multiple ingredients is asking for trouble. Like many of you, I have food allergies which have got worse, as I have. Hence my body telling me in no uncertain terms how much it doesn't like most processed food.

Whilst I was pondering on the unfairness of it all...I came across this recipe for frozen yogurt with only 4 ingredients: fruit, yogurt, honey and lemon juice. You do need a food processor to make this.

I have substituted cows/goats yoghurt for plain (unsweetened) soya, and it is really delicious. The animal fat version would be slightly softer, ( you need to take the ice cream out of the deep fre…


At last I have the spoons to conclude my little series on three cities where I had some intense signposts on my spiritual path. If you need a recap, you can catch up with Part One

and Part Two:

It is fair to say that, of all the things I was thinking about when I moved to Milan in 2005, God was pretty low on the list.
I would make some amazing friends during my time in Milan, but my health, finances and personal life, remained constantly in a state of flux.  The chronic pain I live with now, started in Milan. I struggled to work and pushed my body far beyond what it could do. I had to keep going. I also didn't love my work, and it was hard to be single in a place where family is so important.

Fast- forward to 2007, and I had (almost) achieved my childhood dream of being an artist working in an attic in Paris. I…

Maternity Leave...And What The Donkeys Taught Me.

I have recently returned from a couple of nights away with Mr Elephant. This was a much needed break, as my room has come to feel like a comfortable jail in recent months. With several Chronic conditions dictating the outcome, it can feel like shovelling coins into a broken slot machine, to attempt to book anything...but we did it!

There are a cocktail of emotions in planning any trip: excitement and anticipation...mixed in with fear, and worry. There is the planning what to take (the haul of snacks, wipes, creams, medications, and 'just-in-case' assorted doobreys, would put a mother of quads to shame.)

Ok...where was I?! The highlight of our trip was going to the donkey sanctuary As previously mentioned there is little point in making plans, but this was a bucket-list, moment, and I have spent the last 6 years feeling I would never be able to go.

'Donkey day' arrived, and I gently got myself into the passenger seat. I gritted my teeth until we arrived, with the dawning …


The saga of my 18 month fight for PIP disability benefit has finally ended in success! It has taken a lot of courage, hard work and endurance ( and not just from me)...and a lot of luck. I am well aware that many deserving applicants lose out, either by receiving an inadequate award, or through having to drop out of the process because of the monumental strain on their mental or physical resources.

 Relieved, but exhausted, like two filleted fish, we have collapsed in a squishy heap. So, here at the elephant house, we are really 'PEM-med-up', hence the radio silence from the Blog in the last weeks.

PEM stands for Post- Exersional (physical OR mental, OR emotional activity) Malaise. The inevitable flare up of PEM, after doing...well, ANYTHING, delivers a combination of flu, pain, emotional sensitivity, and a flare-up of any other chronic conditions/allergies/mental health issues you might have. Yes- it's a party in your nervous system!

If activity is the meal at a restauran…


Image recap Pt. 1. I had ME all my 20's, no cure and no sense that God gave a XXXX about me. Fast forward to being in my early 30's and health had improved considerably...even if my life was proceeding like a car with a blind driver...

By 2005 I had improved so much that I was able to travel to La Paz overland from Brazil. Our 4 month back packing trip involved taking my healing and meditation skills on tour to New York, Southern Brasil, Bolivia and some of Peru. There was no healing in New York, but a lot of pastries and sightseeing. This was some improvement!

Was I completely cured? Totally well? Looking back from the perspective of someone who is now more sick than well, the answer to both questions, is a definite 'no'. I was residing in that space well known to long term ME sufferers- I was in Denial.

Even during my best years, I was habitually sick, having infections and viruses that wouldn't heal, and constantly having to take to my bed, taking pain killers ev…