Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Personal Challenge

Loving yourself is a freakin' challenge.

I wasn't going to write a blog post about this but the more I think about it I think that if people know that I'm trying to "eat clean", I will be more likely to stick to it. I know some people get annoyed when people post pictures of their healthy meals on Instagram and their work outs but I honestly think that Instagram can be such a good tool for inspiration and motivation. I know personally, it's the little things like posting a picture of the delicious meal I just made that keeps me going and keeps me excited.

I had no intention of starting a "challenge" but I've been doing some thinking. For a while now, I've been trying to lose weight. Right now, I am at the heaviest I have even been and for my height and actual body size I am probably carrying quite a few extra pounds. Exercise is not always an option when you're living with chronic pain. We try, but it's even harder for someone with chronic pain and chronic fatigue to exercise than it is for a normal person; and even for a normal person exercise isn't easy. I started to realize that I might just have to get used to the fact that my body won't be the same as it used to be. In order to start accepting this I decided that I needed to love my body just the way it is. When I began to do this I stopped all the negative self-talk, I got rid of the clothes I had been waiting to fit back into again one day, I bought new clothes in the right size that are flattering and make me feel good and I took advice and tips from women all over the world who love their bodies and accept themselves. 

Except, I started noticing a trend.. Most of these ladies who have all of this confidence and love and acceptance of their bodies were these ladies that were taking care of themselves. By taking care of themselves, I don't mean doing hard-core work outs at the gym every day and eating a strict gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet. I mean these women stopped the negative self-talk, they try hard to eat their fruits and vegetables and proteins, they try not to indulge every day but still treat themselves when they want to. These ladies don't even necessarily go to the gym. These ladies just care for themselves by eating the food that will nourish their bodies, and getting the exercise they need by doing small things each day. 

These are the women that have inspired me. Take for example Demi Lovato. Demi is a young women who has struggled with mental illness and self acceptance for years and has been very open about her journey. Over this past year or so she has documented her journey to a healthier lifestyle. You can see the difference physically, but she also talks about how mentally she feels so much better and happier. She chose to stop hating on herself, she chose to love her body and to take care of it and it made a world of difference.

I think that it's so important for people to hear these stories. It's not about losing weight. It's not about getting "gains" or working towards rock hard abs and glutes and getting a flat stomach. It should be about taking care of the body that you have and loving it at every point of the journey, not just when you meet the world's standard of perfection. So after all of those inspiring stories, I've decided to stop trying to lose weight. Instead of trying to lose weight and focusing on the number of the scale and all the work outs my body isn't able to do, I am going to focus on the food I am putting into my body. I am going to focus on dressing in a way that makes me feel confident. I am going to focus on getting enough rest and enough exercise in whatever way I enjoy. I am going to stop negative-self-talking and I am going to start talking to myself positively and in an encouraging and loving manner. I am challenging myself to love myself. And we take of the things that we love.

*Tip* If your best friend was struggling with their self image and feeling down, would you talk to them the way you talk to yourself when you look in the mirror? TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, SPIRITUALLY. Don't be mean to yourself because you don't fit into the world's standard of beauty, celebrate your body as it is.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Suffering That Is Never Talked About

I've come across this photo many times in the past few years. Those of us with chronic illness often find that the internet is a good place to seek support and find people to connect with who understand what we are going through. A place that I've found that can bring me support, understanding and even humorous things based on the life of an sick-person is Pinterest. If you're reading this I want to ask you to sign in to Pinterest and just type in "Chronic Illness". You will find everything from this above photo, to thousands of ecards based on the funny little things in our lives, to inspiration and encouraging quotes and also upsetting and very real emotional quotes that others have shared. But this above photo is what I want to talk about today.

Since the first time I saw this it has stuck in my head. It's like when someone talks about something horrible and says "And that's just the tip of the iceburg." Meaning, yes what you're talking about is horrible, but it is so much worse than we even know. I have been open and honest on this blog, but this blog, is just the tip of the iceburg. The way I speak to friends and family even is often just the tip of the iceburg. To truly get into detail about the suffering and emotional anguish would be draining and vulnerable and so difficult. I am taking steps to get there, but it is not an easy task.

Why I really feel like talking about this is because out of all the supportive people in my life, there are also those that are not supportive. There are those that have no idea how to support me and love me for who I am and what my life has become. Often time's these people who come off as not being supportive; really do want the best for us; but they don't know how to efficiently show us that. They think that there is a solution and that if you would just listen to them, they could help you fix the problem. This is what I've come to realize anyway. Fixers hate chronic illness because it cannot be fixed or controlled. Chronic illness disrupts your life and messes up your plans and those of us living with it have learnt to accept that reality.

In the past couple of weeks I have received multiple remarks such as "If you sit on that couch any longer, you're going to rot there." Also, "Get outside and stop being so lazy." Oh and another one, "Go do something with your life." And yes, I am starting to cry as I write this because one of the people that means most to be in the world is the person that is saying these things and it breaks my heart. The thing is, what this person doesn't know and refuses to try to understand is that it's not just about a diagnosis and it's not just about the pain. There are a million little things happening to my body that I never speak of because they are so normal to me at this point that that's how I view them: normal. Although, when I really think about it I know that none of those things are normal.

It is not normal that I experienced menstrual bleeding for 90+ days straight, it is not normal that my muscles spasm and twitch so violently and regularly that I can see the muscles jumping and feel them aching for hours afterwards, it is not normal that I experience sharp, electric-like pains in my neck, legs and arms, it is not normal that at least once a weak I have debilitating leg cramping, it is not normal that the backs of my knees and my elbows have an almost constant ripping and pulling sensation, it is not normal that I experiencing pulling, aching, throbbing and ripping pains throughout my lower abdomen on the regular, it is not normal that I often pee 30+ times a day, it is not normal that my actual eyeball hurts when I look up or to either side, it is not normal that I can wake up from a 13 hour sleep after fighting insomnia for 5 hours and feel completely and utterly exhausted and fatigued, it is not normal that I had a surgery that should have made me feel better and I came out feeling 100% worse, it is not normal that as I am writing this my fingers are twitching, my left wrist is throbbing, and my shoulders are aching in a way I cannot even describe. These things are not normal, yet they are my normal. 

So please, before you go ahead and call me lazy and unmotivated or get mad at me for spending the day on the couch while you went to work; take a minute and maybe ask me why I am on the couch all day today. Because, I've had a very exhausting couple of weeks in my books. I tried hard to help out around the house. I've cleaned and cooked meals for the entire family. I've went for walks and took family photos. I've planned a party and attended it. I've acquired a sinus-cold that's made me feel even more like death. I've attended doctor's appointments and family get-together's. I have tried to wean myself off of sleeping pills and am now having extreme bouts of insomnia that cause me to lay in bed for 3+ hours before falling asleep. I wake up earlier than I'd like to every day because I feel guilty for sleeping in past 11, even though I didn't fall asleep until 4 AM.

The little things that you do mindlessly every day are things that take the majority of my energy and effort. Please remember that no matter how much you may think you know about someone or an illness, you do not know what it is like to live with that illness or the emotions that come with it. Please, please, please be thoughtful and consider your words before they come out of your mouth. Maybe instead of judging someone for not doing what you think they should be doing, ask them why they are doing what they're doing; because likely, there is good reason and they could use some support.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I'm Feelin' 22

As I logged in today to write a spontaneous blog-post, I realized that 170 people had read my blog the other day when I shared a link on facebook. My soul smiles to know that so many people have heard some of what I have to say. I hope that it helps people to change their perception of the chronically ill. I also have had the pleasure of reconnecting with some people from my past. It's funny how something like a blog post and that honesty can reignite a connection and new understanding between two people. I am thankful for that. And that is why I write this blog. It changes me, it uplifts me, it helps me, it helps others to understand a little bit better and it allows me to be honest and real about my issues.

Today, is a happy day. Today is my 22nd birthday. And yes, I will blasting the song "22" by Taylor Swift later on. After I've got a couple cups of coffee in me. This morning didn't pan out at pleasantly as I had hoped it would. I've had a rough time with insomnia over the past two months and I've been taking a sleeping aid before bed so I can actually sleep. Although, last night I took the sleep aid, then ended laying in bed, groggy and tired, with pains in my stomach. Likely, because I recently changed most of medications and now my body is adjusting to them. Which often times, causes a lot of digestive mishaps and bumps in the road. So, that sucked. And when I woke up, it wasn't much better. I ended up going right back to bed with my heating pad. But I'm up now! And reading birthday messages and drinking coffee, as I should be.

I had a really interesting conversation with a friend yesterday; I ended up encouraging her through a lot of my personal experience. When it comes to feeling like you're not doing enough in your life, you feel guilty. I've mentioned this before. This doesn't just go for sick folks, it goes for people in a lot of different situations. My friend, is amazing and talented and hard-working and she felt so upset and guilty that things weren't working out for her on the job-front. I'm sure we all get how frustrating that can be! It's scary not to have a job in this day and age. I listened to her and let her rant, because I'm a big believer in ranting to get our your anger/frustration before you find a little peace. I wasn't sure if I should say anything or not, but I realized that the things that I've been dealing with and that I've been through already could possibly help her. 

I can't even remember what I said to her exactly, but I know I talked about how sometimes we go through these stages of life when things are supposed to be up in the air. And you're going to be scared and it's hard to find peace in that, and that's okay. Sometimes we learn the biggest and most important lessons when we are in those scary and unstable stages of life. It stresses and scares us but often ends up stretching us in a good way so that we learn things we never would have known before. It teaches us to slow down and appreciate the things we already have. I know personally, it has shown me how much I have in life to be happy about and that those things are way more important than a job or a steady income. We tend to underrate happiness. It doesn't even have to be happiness really; just contentment. I have learned that being content in your life can be just as, if not more peaceful than being happy. I've learned to be content whatever the circumstances may be. Not to say that I don't go through times where I'm unhappy and depressed; because I do. But I let myself feel those things and I deal with them the best I can. Then, I move back to contentment. Because in this life, you get to choose what matters to you. To me, the most important things aren't having a job and having a steady income, or even school at this point. I know a lot of people that have a certain idea of success would frown upon that statement and that's okay. My idea of success is dependent upon my own reality. I'm sure, as my circumstances change, so will my idea of success. It has changed many times before but I'm learning to adapt and live within my circumstances and be content with it. 

So today, on my 22nd birthday. Even though I feel like crap at the moment, I'm going to smile and thank God that I have so many wonderful people in my life. I have some of the most encouraging and supportive friends around. I am so thankful for the people in my life. Especially today.