Treading Choppy Waters

Posted: February 20th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Today's Blessing | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Recognizing The Ocean

Survivor memeWe can all work towards embracing at least one of these components of being a survivor. Some spells of time can be tougher than others to endure.

Remembering to be a ‘gratitude gal’ is how I’m working on getting through an extended rough patch. I keep reminding myself this patch is just a span of time. Time passes, therefore, this patch shall pass too.

It’s easy to find one’s self lost while working through a physical, mental and/or an emotional depression. I’ve uncharacteristically found myself grappling with all three types of depression for several months now.

This rough patch started out as a physical depression — physical pain becoming so intense that my nervous system became over stimulated. To survive, my brain intuitively had me seeking solitude. To withdraw, cloak  my days with extended quite time so the nervous system could cope, heal.

Unfortunately, this winter proved to be even more challenging to my nervous system and psyche. Constant over-stimulation to my nervous system eventually took its toll on my mental well-being, and subsequently my emotional well-being too.

I find that dealing with Fibromyalgia is a daily mental toughness game. I’m going to hurt no matter what, so, do I tough it out through the physical pain today, or, do I heed the pain and take it easy? Often the answer is, “I’m going to hurt anyways, let’s make it count!” and I muscle onward.

But recent physical pain compiled with surviving breast cancer stress residue has proven to be too much of a load for this ‘gratitude gal’ to keep on smiling through. I acquiesced to the cleansing power of free-flowing tears, to depression. I won’t lie, it’s scary. But, it’s doable.

Many of the drugs prescribed to help with depression are used for treating Fibromyalgia. Over the years my doctor has had me try quite a few of them. I am so drug sensitive, they all came with serious adverse reactions. This avenue of temporary relief for depression was not a viable one for me to take.

Snoopy be fierceDepression can become an ocean in which to drown. I almost started to drown. When I realized this, I knew it was time for a different type of mental toughness game — figure out how to tread choppy waters. Working my way through this all-encompassing depression was going to require pulling out my trusty audacious fighter spirit.

It served well throughout the war with breast cancer, it will serve well again — just fine tuned for depression. Sharing my breast cancer via writing turned out to be of help and inspiration to others.

Right before this depression really set in, it was becoming clear that sharing how I wrangle Fibromyalgia might be of help to others. Thank you for all of the stories you privately shared with me about your experiences with Fibro. It’s an honor to be trusted with your stories, and humbling to be encouraged to keep writing about it.

Now it has become beyond evident that writing my way through depression might be of help too. The issues that we give the light of day, that we openly share, are the ones we can then shed the darkness of shame on.

There is no shame to carry on your shoulders for your body and spirit becoming tired, becoming depressed. Depression isn’t always about throwing one’s self a huge pity party. Sometimes it’s a chemical imbalance. Sometimes it’s a pain overload response. Sometimes it’s a call to retreat and do some serious introspection. And sometimes, it’s a perfect storm of everything.

So, I’ll do my very best to push  myself to share, to write about how I’m going to kick some depression and Fibromyalgia ass. It’s time to be fierce!

First step … Huge self-reminder, “walk your talk” — Find a blessing a day, it’s there!

TODAY’S BLESSING: Left Hook

Today I gave thanks for waking up, and for being able to send a bubble of love to every living thing on this plane of existence. That’s the best survivor left hook I can muster right now. I am at peace with that. Being at peace with that is my Today’s Blessing.

So, no matter the state of your patch today … there’s a bubble of love awaiting you.

Go ahead, pop it!

 

Memes shared from Sparks of Hope

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“I Breathed Today”

Posted: November 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, invisible illness | Tags: , , | Comments Off

Living with an invisible illness can sometimes give cause for some serious head trips.  On the outside you may look like a picture of vitality and health. But on the inside, your entire nervous system can be screaming, as if it was set ablaze with Napalm.

00 sometimes its okay if you must breathThe head trips aren’t just from other people assuming that you’re perfectly fine. That you’re making up lame excuses as to why you aren’t going to do XYZ. Or, that you’ve swiped your grandma’s handicapped parking placard, because you’re just a lazy louse.

Speaking as someone who has dealt with full-blown Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue for over 15 years now — I could share countless negative stories about how misunderstood and mistreated people with invisible illness are usually treated. Often by well-intended people who think they’re helping by pushing you to push yourself. But more often by strangers who make visual snap judgements and get downright mean towards you.

But actually, some of the biggest head trips are internal, from self-doubt … “Just push yourself a little harder. You’re going to hurt anyway, might as well make it count, right?” This is what I go through on a daily basis. But I’ve been actively having to push extra hard for the past four days now while experiencing a very serious Fibro flareup.

I’ve decided to start writing about my invisible illness experiences in an attempt to possibly inspire others who wrangle with one too. You’re not alone! And, an even loftier goal, is to possibly help bring awareness to those who don’t have to live with one. In other words, for sure I’m not writing this article for sympathy. Typically, I keep pretty quite about my daily invisible illness struggles, especially so during flareups. But if we don’t share information, how do we all learn?

Read the rest of this entry »

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What Is Paramount

Posted: October 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: mastectomy, path of rememberance, radiation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Yesterday was the anniversary of one of the most significant life-changing decisions that I have thus far followed through on. Bigger than decisions like marriage, career, divorce or moving across the country. Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy.  My pragmatism and intuition told me that cutting to the chase, although  having “just” stage zero breast cancer, was the right think to do. While some tried saying that I was having a hysterical ‘knee-jerk’ reaction, I knew better.

Barkhamsted Bike Boots

A lovely banana snack view while sitting atop a dam.

I had a seriously stacked genetic breast cancer tree, even though I tested negative for the BRACA gene. My daily struggles with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue are serious. My chances of rebounding well after the traditional breast cancer regimen — lumpectomy and rounds of radiation — well, they didn’t look good for me.

On a good day, I was already functioning on a healthy radiation patient’s downward slope. And, after reading and discussing my odds with doctors, of them finally being stacked higher in my favor if I was free of any ticking time bombs on my body? I knew a bilateral was the way to go. And after the surgery, it was found that the “healthy” breast was full of cancer cells. I made the right choice.

Now four years after that, how am I doing? I’m content with life. I’m happy. And, that’s largely because of my friends, family and framily.

At some point during my trek through breast cancer, as a patient or now as a survivor, they became huge contributors to my overall quality of life. Whether they’ve shared support, reflection, an ass-kicking of reality, or, some uproarious laughter — they’ve been an integral part of my life feeling blessed and rich. They’re actively thanked for that, quite often.

As this anniversary had been approaching I kept finding myself asking, “What has having had cancer done to my life? What have I learned? And, how have I subsequently grown from that?”

Annie Me Painting

Annie treated me to a “Candied Skull” painting party. Lots of fun!

For certain, this is what I’ve learned is important to my life:

Treasuring high-quality friends is paramount.

People with integrity and honor are like rare treasures. When they flow through your life, honor them with your respect, support, honesty, laughter and love whenever possible. Be sure and spontaneously remind them just how wonderfully they make your life sparkle.

Peacefully letting go of toxic acquaintances is paramount.

If someone proves themselves to be toxic, I do my best to just let them go in peace. It took a while to learn to do this. It also took a while to learn how to do this.

I am actively working on embracing that ‘everybody is at where they’re at.’ It doesn’t make anyone good or bad. It just becomes more a matter as to if I can make a healthy contribution to their lives, and them to mine.

Everyone deserves a fair chance. But if someone proves to not be a good mesh into my life? I’ve learned that it’s far healthier to let them go — for me and for them. I give thanks for whatever was good within them and then I let them go.

Barkhamsted bike parked

“Lucky Luke” resting at the reservoir.

Consciously living in a state of gratitude is paramount.

This one is super simple … Be thankful for what you do have. Really, that’s it.

No walking around with Daisies falling out of your brains and butterflies kissing your footprints kind of bliss. Focus on what you do have, be thankful for it.

Did you wake up today? Did you walk to the bathroom on your own? Where you able to go to the bathroom on your own? Can you bathe yourself? Can you fix yourself a sandwich? Do you have shoes on your feet, proper clothing for a season? Some change in your pocket, a roof over your head?

No matter how bad it gets, if you can answer “yes” to any of those questions — you have it far better than millions of other human beings who woke up today do. For, someone out there today would give anything to bask in your good fortune.

Told ya it was simple.

Having a sense of humor is paramount.

My sense of humor is my number one coping skill. Scientifically speaking, there is all kinds of research out there that supports that laughter does all kinds of wonderful things for our bodies. No matter how bleak a situation may be, if I can find a sliver of humor in it, I’ll have experienced a ray of hope.

Humor has gotten me through some tough spots in life. Well, okay, it’s gotten me into some too. But that’s beside the point!

♦   ♦   ♦

So, how did I celebrate my 4th anniversary yesterday? It began with some Allman Brother’s tunes blasting through my morning coffee as I got ready to seize a balmy 70ºF fall’s day with a ride on “Lucky Luke” — I gave thanks for all of my friends, family and of course, my bike! I had a gorgeous two+ hour ride on the bike and later a fun evening at a painting party with my friend, Annie. It made for a most lovely anniversary day.

Stormdrain 2

Small details of a reservoir storm drain.

One last note … I’d like to make sure that this is left in my written trail of remembrance … Know that every nanosecond of your positive contribution to someone’s life really does matter. Keep on spreading that life-affirming manure, ’cause it really does count.

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