I’m absolutely delighted today to be interviewing the beautiful Lizzy Goddard from The Pillow Fort, a Chronic Illness support website, which is really making waves. Lizzy has created an absolutely beautiful community for those with Chronic Illness and is a shining example for those who live with CFS or Fibromyalgia every day.
Lizzy has not only created an amazing website, but several online support communities, as well as an online magazine and gorgeous shop. Her website is just glowing with hope and positivity and I can’t wait for you to read this interview. I really love what she has to say about feeling better, blazing your own trail and looking after number one.
I’m also incredibly grateful to Lizzy for supporting my website and being a faithful follower. Yey!
Let me stop talking for a while(!) and let’s hear from lovely Lizzy…
Love, Katie xxx
Introducing Lizzy Goddard from The Pillow Fort..!
1) Describe how you would love everyone to feel in 3 words.
Enthusiastic, appreciated and free.
(My Core Desired Feelings are: Calm. Secure, Helpful, Open, Evolution and Alive). (Click here for more on Danielle LaPorte’s ‘Desire Map’).
2) Describe yourself in 3 words.
Driven, passionate and organised.
3) What inspired you to create your website and community, ‘The Pillow Fort’?
Originally, I posted a picture on Instagram of a PJ top that said, ‘Sleep is my therapy’, and then a couple of weeks later a photo of my microwavable slippers. The chronic illness community I was half part of went wild for them and a little light bulb went off. As I started to map out my idea, I thought the focus was going to be on selling cute/fun, but practical stuff for younger people living with chronic illness because I find a lot of disability aids rather clinical and marketed at old people.
It wasn’t until I started working with Rebecca Tracey, through her course Uncage Your Business that I realised that wasn’t quite the message I was going for. She managed to really hone down my message to the idea that life with chronic illness gets so much better when you start focusing on the positives. I know this to be true myself, and at that time had already distanced myself from a lot of ‘wallowy’ chronic illness communities because I just felt worse after reading endless pages about how awful life is with chronic illness.
It was at this point that the focus of The Pillow Fort really became combatting chronic illness with positivity and fun. I’d planned to make a community associated with The Pillow Fort already, but the Pillow Fighters Club has taken off beyond anything I could imagine. There’s only one rule: Positivity Only. Oh, and it’s exclusively for young(ish) people, about 30ish and under. Every day I’m surprised by the sheer level of engagement, originality and support my Pillow Fighters deliver!
4) I know that you suffer from CFS, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Migraines- could you share a little bit of your story with us?
My story is like many others’! Top student, national level athlete, all the potential in the world. Then at 16, bam. CFS. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was almost 21, which in many ways was a blessing as much as a curse. I thrived at University, but then was elected to a sabbatical Executive Officer position in my Students’ Union. It was too much for my body (and mind) and pushed me into fibromyalgia and depression. I (perhaps stupidly) kept on pushing through though. My mental and physical health was just a pile of mush on the floor by the end of 2012.
Today I’d say I have mild CFS and occasional migraines. I think it’d be fair to say I’m completely recovered from depression and Fibromyalgia now, which is fantastic, although I’m very quick to pick up on the warning signs for either.
5) Is there any one thing that really improves your symptoms or is a combination of different approaches?
It’s a combination, for sure. I’m trying to look back at the moment and see the path that led me to this point so I can share my journey with others, but nothing of note stands out! Part way through 2013 I stumbled across Conquering Fear Spiritually (thanks my darling! – Katie), which led me on this glorious trail around the internet to this new world of positivity, inspiration, spirituality, mind-body medicine, mindfulness and more. I started working with a fantastic health coach at the start of this year, coming off all my pain medication and generally cleaning up my diet. I started regularly doing 10-15 mins a day of yoga.
My mental health improved to the best it’s ever been, which has had a tremendously positive knock-on effect on my physical health. I’ve just got so much more ‘cope’ for the bad days now.
My toolbox just keeps growing: mindfulness, meditation, EFT, diet, dry body brushing, yoga, affirmations, oracle cards, self-care, Law of Attraction, energy healing, crystal healing. I’m very much from a scientist background, and have been a staunch atheist/humanist for many years. For the longest time all this ‘woo woo’ stuff went against everything I thought I believed in, but I’ve now decided to suspend judgement on it all. Who cares if it’s the placebo effect? Cumulatively it’s keeping me happy and healthy and that’s good enough for me!
6) What are your non-negotiables when it comes to your health?
The biggest one for me is that I don’t do things I don’t want to do! I was so trapped in this cycle of agreeing to do something, not really wanting to do it, getting so worked up about having to do it that my health would take a nosedive, then cancel doing it ‘because of my health.’ It meant that I was always cancelling things ‘because of my health’, and feeding into the idea that my health stopped me doing things. Now I make sure to check in with my gut feeling about something before I agree to it and I only do things I actually want to do.
7) How has fear appeared in your life and what do you do when it does?
Like many people who get struck down with CFS, I’m a very Type A person. It’s only now on my recovery journey, and knowing a lot more about the spiritual concepts of love and fear, that I’m able to see a lot of my ‘problems’ have arisen from fear and my ego being allowed to run the show. I think a few years ago I was extremely fearful of what life would be like if I did live up to my ‘potential’. I’ve completely had to redefine what success means to me, and focus on being happy now. I was very wrapped up in the whole ‘more more more’ culture and it was frying my brain. I think I’ve really had to sit down with my fear about who I am if I’m not doing all the things, for all the people, all the time. In many ways, my CFS has caused me to completely re-examine who I am and what I value. That’s been my greatest lesson on this recovery journey.
I must admit, that when I first found your website I had absolutely no idea what on earth the name (Conquering Fear Spiritually) meant. But looking back, that’s exactly what I’ve done. The more I’ve gone down the spiritual path, the greater understanding I have of how I’ve got myself into this mess, and how I can get myself out.
8) What do you do or say to yourself if you’re having an ‘off’ day?
I’m kind to myself. I remind myself it’s a bad day, not a bad life. It doesn’t mean the start of a relapse, tomorrow will be better. I’ll usually watch TV in bed and eat yummy things (hopefully that won’t make me feel like utter crap the next day). Nearly everything on my to-do list can wait until tomorrow. If for any reason it’s an off few weeks and I’ve lost my flow, I’ll then put an auto responder on my email and perhaps make a Facebook/Twitter post to let people know that I’m taking some ‘me-time’ to recuperate. I’ve found people to respond really well to the honesty and give me the space and time I need.
9) What projects are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just started a part time job (3 days a week) for the first time in over 2 years! It’s really helping me focus what I’m doing with The Pillow Fort and what will be of most benefit to my audience. The main two things I’m working on right now are an ebook/ecourse all about goals for people with chronic illness, due out late October, and the magazine subscription bundles which will be available in November. More often than not though I’ll have a weird/random idea and I’ll do it instantly – so my mailing list is the best place to hear all things new at The Pillow Fort!
10) Any other words of support and encouragement to share with my readers.
The usual ‘keep going’ stuff really! It was 7 years after I became ill, and 3 years after my CFS diagnosis that I stumbled across this world that finally turned out to be the sign post for my healing journey. Life’s an awful lot easier now I go with the flow a lot more, and I’m not constantly straining to feel a certain way at a certain time. Life has ups and downs and I’m learning to except and embrace that.
Lizzy Goddard is the founder of The Pillow Fort, a glorious chronic illness-positivity-thriving-youngish people hybrid-fusion-mix thing. After realising that wallowing in chronic illness communities just made her feel worse, she’s now on a mission to make chronic illness suck less through fun and positivity. The Pillow Fort consists of a digital magazine, a community, blog, a shop selling physical products and more.