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Making Space

I’ve uuhmmed and aaahed about whether to write and share this with you today (and I mean my finger has hovered over the the publish button for two days). Today’s post isn’t about interiors at all, it’s about what’s been going on backstage. Please do feel free to click away if you’ve not got the energy for someone else’s life right now (I totally get that) but if you’ve been thinking, “I wonder where Karen is, she’s not posted for 5 weeks” then the next few paragraphs will answer that.

Making Spaces has grown to become bigger than I ever could have imagined, and I have to admit, I feel a sense of pressure, duty almost to keep up this illusion of being some kind of “interiors super hero”. But it’s still only little ole 5’3″ me, i’m just a sole-trader. I think sometimes people forget that, in fact I think sometimes I forget that. Whatever illusion i’ve managed to unwittingly create, i’ve always said to anyone that will listen is; it’s all smoke and mirrors. Nobody’s life is as it seems on social media. I would go as far as to suggest that those who are not on social media are generally happier and healthier than those that are. I’m honest to a fault and post what I want, including my struggles with mental health etc but lately, it’s been difficult to know what to write and what to share, as real life has needed full time attention. Pretty interiors shots alongside a pithy comment have well and truly been put on the back burner. After all, none of that matters and none of that will be remembered. Real life however, the bits that don’t make it onto social media or into a blog post, those are the bits that have true meaning.

So, let me catch you up as to what’s been going on. First, i’ll set the tone…

I was talking to Charlie this morning about wishes, if we could wish for anything what would it be? He wished for all the video games he ever wanted. Pretty standard for a soon-to-be 7 year old I guess.

Me and Charlie back in 2015 – the year Making Spaces was born

Charlie asked what I would wish for, and I answered as my mum used to: “I’d wish for health and happiness”. He looked at me a little puzzled, the same way I looked at my mum when I was his age. Health and happiness seem like a given when you are young. So why wish for something you have already? As you get older, these things can often slip by the wayside, especially when you’re as cynical as I. Happiness is something I find difficult to put my trust in. When happiness visits, I expect a period of unhappiness to come quickly around the corner to balance things up again. And as such, I am currently awaiting a period of sheer happiness to balance up a very difficult and unhappy four weeks.

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Well the last week has been a tough cookie. I’m now into my seventh day of migraines and i’m on the verge of a big ole sob. I’ve taken every painkiller under the son, spent more time than necessary being horizontal in a dark room, and had enough triptans to knock out an overweight elephant. I’ve seen the GP. I have rested. I have tried to get up and do things. All of which result in another visit from the migraine fairy (I hate her – she’s such a nob). Today is also my birthday. Today’s birthday treats have included; getting my eyes tested (again), buying a flapjack and getting a new tyre. None of these things are birthday activities, but it seems the universe is not wanting me to celebrate turning 41 today (or the last 7 days of my 40’s). It’s fair to say I am feeling pretty darn (yes I said darn) sorry for myself at the moment. Today I am: Tired. In pain. Ridiculously behind with work. Old. More shortsighted. But I do have better grip on the road thanks to that new tyre. And that flapjack was lovely. . #itsmybirthdayandillcryifiwantto

A post shared by Karen Knox – Making Spaces (@makingspacesnet) on

As you might have picked up from my last couple of Instagram posts, I struggle with migraines. Have done for four years now but never really understood what caused them to start in the first place. I was referred to Neurology back in 2016 and prescribed Rizatriptan, which most of the time seemed to blast the migraine fairy back into her box until the next month’s visit. The consultant thinks my migraines are hormone related, alas (as with a lot of us ladies) my hormones have never really been all that reliable, so back on The Pill I went.

In 2013 I was put onto Sertraline for Post Natal Depression. And whilst the depression slowly subsided I had to double my dose of Sertraline to combat the chronic anxiety I felt since setting up Making Spaces in 2015 and becoming a working mum. Years later, I’m still on:

  • Sertraline (for anxiety)
  • Rizatriptan (for migraines)
  • a shot of Propanolol or two (for panic attacks)
  • and of course the Contraceptive Pill (to try and level out oestrogen levels in order to minimise migraines).
  • That and a load of supplements, ya know to keep healthy and that.

Over the past year, the migraines have moved away from their regular monthly visit to fortnightly, almost weekly then building up to latest bout of daily visits. Last time I posted on Instagram, i’d had 8 days of migraines on the bounce. The following day, I experienced my first migraine related aura where I lost periphiral vision in my right eye and felt like I was looking into a kaleidoscope. Not only did this scare the shit out of me, it also meant I had to immediately come off the Pill due to an increased risk of stroke. Things felt like they were just getting worse; headaches were coming thick and fast and my anxiety bubbled away. Moreso when one GP suggested Diazepam as a solution. MORE TABLETS?? Really!? I kindly refused and suggested a CT scan instead to rule out anything more sinister going on inside my bonce. The GP agreed. Still waiting for that.

After going back through old calendars, diaries, GP appointments and prescriptions, I began to write out a timeline of what had been happening, when and what meds I was put on. It was then penny finally dropped!

It seems my migraines started about 2-3 months after i’d gone onto a double dose of Sertraline back in 2015. Maybe if I reduced my dose back down to its original amount, this would well and truly get shot of the migraines?  So in the space of the same week, I’d stopped taking the Pill and also reduced my dose of SSRI’s (with the GP’s approval of course). Anyone had the joy of coming off those before? I can tell you, it’s bloody hard work. Side effects being tremors, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, nausea and guess what… headaches!

Dance Omg GIF by The Valentines - Find & Share on GIPHY

A few days into the withdrawal of the two meds I thought were helping me hold it all together, i’d reached day 13 of migraines and day 13 of triptans. I was feeling truly awful. At this time I started to suspect the triptans. They’re not a tablet you should use daily and i’d been taking them for nearly two weeks. I started to read up on MOH: Medication Overuse Headaches.

Anyone heard of those?


My body had built up a reliance on Triptans. My migraine medication was causing my bloody migraines. Brilliant! Cue detox number 3. Triptan detox. The only way to do it was go cold turkey. No tapering, no steady withdrawal. Just stop.

Oh my word. I genuinely thought I was going to die at the end on day one. I couldn’t open my eyes. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t be touched. I couldn’t swallow without my head feeling like it was on fire. From the base of my skull to my cheekbones, the pain was on a level with childbirth.

**i’m not going to do a childbirth Gif – fear not**

Five days later and the migraines were softening and becoming further apart. I’m now on a half dose of my Sertraline, off the Tritpans and dealing with all that my body has to throw at me now i’m not on The Pill anymore (bladder infections, lower abdomen pain, back ache, sore boobs).
But it felt like we were finally making some progress. It’ll be around 2-12 weeks before the headaches finally do one. But i’ve at least gotten to a point where I can drive again and type on here in sporadic bursts. Surely – some health and happiness was on its way?

This was all going on over half term week btw, because life sure is fun sometimes. This meant my wonderful husband had to pick up the “mother’s load”, sort drop-offs and picks-up from holiday camps whilst working from home and nursing his detoxing wife. Friday signified the end of half term and it was the first day in over a fortnight where i’d woken up without a migraine. Hoorah! We felt like we’d gotten over the worst and our bout of happiness seemed imminent….. However, those few weeks had taken its toll on Pete more than we could have imagined, and whilst we made it to the end of a ridiculously busy working week for him and a painful, bed ridden week for me, at 9.25pm, just as we were watching ‘Have I Got News For You’ in bed, Pete had his first seizure.

Everything changed.

Before I met Pete, he’d had a benign meningioma, the size of a satsuma removed from inside his skull. The operation went as well as it could and he made a full recovery with no signs of damage or after effects. He actually wrote a blog of his own all about his experience, you can read more about it and see a picture of Ivan (the tumor) here. But over the past 2-3 years, he has started to experience some speech and communication difficulties when he multi-tasks, is overtired, or under extreme stress. It’s like his brain gets the spinning beachball whilst all the neurological pathways try and get the correct bits of information to his speech centre.

It’s affected his confidence, life stamina and more recently his ability to work long hours. What happened last Friday night began just like one of his usual “brain farts”, but this time, after the added stress and weeks of worrying about me, calling the GP, running around with Charlie and working, his brain decided to throw a “can not compute” error which resulted in a seizure. This was followed by slow and slurred speech whilst we packed a bag and waited for the ambulance to arrive. A six hour wait in A&E, multiple tests and scans later we are none the wiser. We’re now waiting for further neurological tests to see what happened and what we can do to prevent it from happening again. No driving or excessive “living” whilst we wait for some answers.

So why am I writing all of this?
Firstly – because I know of lot of people suffer with migraines and perhaps my story will resonate or help some of you out there. I had a lot of lovely, kind comments on my last couple of migraine related Instagram posts, so it’s also to update you as to how I’m doing, what has been happening and why (we think) it has.

Secondly – because people don’t write about this stuff. They try and hide it. I try and hide it most of the time. So many people have said that I shouldn’t put this information out there about myself. What? That I have mental health issues? Ha. Who doesn’t? Anyone I know who’s creative has issues coming out of their butt. It goes with the creative mind i’m afraid. I’m not ashamed of my creativity, so I will not be ashamed the darker side that sits alongside that. I can’t have one without the other. Anyway, aren’t we all supposed to be talking about this stuff? Maybe not on an interior design blog, but hey, here it is.

Thirdly – to explain why I might not have been as repsonsive on here as I usually am, why i’ve not posted a blog post for five weeks or why my inbox has been somewhat ignored. I am still here, but like I mentioned before, it’s just little ole me steering the ship. So I am only dealing with things that are urgent at the moment. My energies are being taken up with my family. I am taking as many moments as I can to be with “us”, love and mend “us”. Because as much as Making Spaces means to me (and I truly admit i’m a workaholic), it will never be as important as my boys. Nothing like a month of ill-health, unhappiness and a 999 call to remind you of that eh?

I am certain that normal service will resume in due course, but for now I just wanted to let you know the score. There’s nothing more exhausting than having to explain what’s happening at home to each and every person who asks, so it’s here, in full frontal honesty, like always.

I promise next time I post, I will make at least some kind of reference to interiors. I am looking forward to focusing my mind on something interiors and design-y very soon (because believe it or not, i’ve managed to keep three projects running whilst this has been going on and i’ve actually got loads of exciting stuff to share with you), but for now, I need to build my stamina back up and put my energies where they’re needed. Many thanks to those who have sent messages asking where i’ve been and if i’m ok. I will be – I just need to make some space for life at the mo.

Until next time…xx

24 Comments

  1. Susan Eardley says

    Bloody hell karen!! You’re all incredible going through all that & coming out the other side still smiling! Here’s hoping the happy stuff comes in buckets soon. You know where I am if you need anything. Xx

  2. Oh my god, what a nightmare you’ve been through. Sending huge hugs – take whatever time you need (also this is your blog, your space, you write about whatever you want, no apologies) and here’s to hoping things are going to be a lot brighter and better and happier for you very soon. Speedy recoveries to you all xxx

  3. Wow that is a heavy load you’ve been carrying. Thank you for sharing, I hope it helps you to do it as much as it helps us to hear it (yes we all struggle with that dark side).

    I really hope that the worst is behind you, and that you both get better soon. Sending healing vibes x

  4. Kati Turner says

    I’ve always thought you were amazing, now I think you’re heroic. Hanks for sharing and sending your family lots of healing vibes. Xxxx

  5. Aline Povlsen says

    You are truly a very talented designer….so never let that stress you. As for the rest my heart goes out to you and family.

  6. Serena Pitchers says

    So much love for you Karen, and this is real Strength you’re showing both in sharing and in taking ownership of your own health, both physical and mental health.
    And you’re right, Nothing else matters but you and your family. xxx

  7. Mary C says

    I’ll still be here when you can finally get back. We take our health for granted. I was recently diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos and my life has become a revolving door of doctor appts, PT and trying to ft in family and my home. I get you. Hope things start looking up for both of you!

  8. Elizabeth says

    Don’t ever feel you need to apologise for whatever you write. Whatever you write you write beautifully. Best wishes.

  9. Anonymous says

    Hi Karen, I’m so sorry to hear what a terrible time you and your family have been having and wishing you all all my best wishes.
    Just on a migraine note, however, I had been suffering for years. Also, years ago I was told by a dentist years that I grinded my teeth, he could tell by looking at my tongue strangely, no damage to teeth as such so nothing recommended. It was not until a year or so ago that my jaw went totally out of alignment and I was facing all kinds of problems with my teeth that I asked for a mouth guard to stop me grinding at night and possibly breaking my teeth as the load was all out. At about the same time my migranes went away so I have been thinking that my teeth grinding (probably caused by increasing stress) may have caused my migranes because apart from the occaional headache there have been no migraines since, fingers crossed. I just thought I’d share as you never know if it could help. x

  10. Sue Shepherd says

    Dearest Karen, Thank you for being so frank and for sharing the pain and troubles you have been going through. I truly admire your work, which is so inspirational to me and I often direct people to your site so that they too may be inspired…. When I receive your emails I am always eager to open them and hear your stories as they always make me smile.. it’s just like talking to a good friend. That illusionary bond is such a powerful thing. I wish I could reciprocate and somehow lift you out of the hell of the unknown.
    I wish you Health and Happiness always!

  11. Elaine says

    Oh my word, what a time you’re having! Full recovery wishes to you both. Take care and speedy healing.

  12. Shruti says

    Dear Karen

    Thank you for your honesty. It must be a very difficult time for you. For your migraines, I have a suggestion. A nutritionist friend of mine (and another friend) have had terrible migraines for years until they discovered The Migraine Relief Diet by Tara Spencer. She is a qualified nutritionist as well as a migraine sufferer for over 20 years.
    Both swear by it. Both have now been migraine free for well over 2 years. And my nutritionist friend has also measured her blood sugar and ketone levels on a daily basis so this is evidence based.
    Here is also another link – https://www.mymigrainemiracle.com for more information.
    I wish you all the very best for both you and your family and trust this too shall pass.
    Sending love, strength and healing for all.
    Your blog has always been truly inspirational.

  13. Anonymous says

    It’s been good to hear from you as I had been missing your blogs. I am someone not on social media so I had been left wondering about the silence. Thank you for writing with such honesty, total respect for you and what you are doing. Take care of you and your loved ones xx

  14. Anonymous says

    Gosh, you poor thing, that sounds horrific. Sending loads of love to you and your lovely family – your inbox can definitely wait – nothing is more important than your health and those you love. Thinking of you. Brooke xxx

  15. Anonymous says

    Thank you so much for your honesty & for sharing your courage. I’m sorry you’ve had such a tough time. I’m wishing you all the best for the next few weeks & I hope things turn a corner for you all very soon. x

  16. Harriet Mason says

    I’m so sorry, you’ve really been through the mill. I really hope you start finding some answers to both your health issues and that life is a lot calmer, healthier and happier very soon.

  17. Anonymous says

    Such a refreshing post: hope everything gets better soon.. lots of love xx

  18. Linda, at IP says

    So sad that anyone should go through all this. You must do what is best for you all. Be kind to yourselves and we will still be here when you are ready. Big love to you all xxx

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