The Beauty in Bad Circumstances

Wonder where I’ve been? Perhaps you’re not much wondering, but since my last post telling you that I am back home I feel like I have been on quite an adventure, one that is certainly not over yet.

I have had little time for blogging here this week because I have been doing things a person prays they never have to do. Applying for food stamps, applying for state healthcare for my children, and visiting food pantries. I wish I could butter it up, sugar coat it and say it isn’t so… but this is the truth. I’m also looking for work and working to keep up with my current work as I take on all of the household responsibilities that were once shared.

For a person living a beautiful life with fibromyalgia and mental health issues, where is the beauty in this?

I can tell you where it is, I know it’s there. It’s in me. My courage to seek the help I need for me and my children, to share what my kids and I are struggling with despite the shame and embarrassment. That is beautiful. It is love. I will go to the ends of the Earth for my children and to take care of myself. I am finding out more and more what that is really truly about. I didn’t choose this situation and it’s particular circumstances, but I can choose to do good in the middle of it. (And yes, it does downright suck at moments… I cry, I wonder “why” and all of those things at times)

So, I look at me and how I have conducted myself these last few days and I feel proud and I feel good about me. I am far from perfect… but I’m making steps in the right direction. I am also blessed by the kindness of people, both strangers and dear friends, and that is SO beautiful to witness. I believe in the good of this world and the good of all (well most) people, even though we all act less than stellar at times, there is a person underneath it all that just wants to feel loved.

And I feel loved, by myself, and that feels good! Never mind the fibromyalgia aches and pains and the depression that likes to come knocking at my door… I am going to stay in this moment and enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

If you are in the midst of some kind of awful circumstances or feeling horrible, know that it is possible to give yourself some self-love in the midst, you deserve it.

 

Home

I’m home, after a trip to sunny Florida, and I find myself feeling like I have no home at all. It’s a very strange thing to leave one day and come back to a completely different life 7 days later.

At moments I feel panicked, but at others, a quiet peace knowing that what my response to so much change can be is that of a person rolling with it. I don’t have to absorb all of the shock, I can let some of it go. When I feel overwhelmed with fear, I can take deep breaths and know that “This Too Shall Pass”. (That phrase really cannot be used too much.)

While my life is filled with upheaval at the moment, and will continue to be on some level for the next couple of months or more, I find a sanctuary in the pockets of love that surround me. A special friend who puts her arm around me, a text message from another to tell me that I am loved, a phone call or text from a family member to check on me, an extra blog comment… all of these things mean so much!

And more pockets of love are found in the silence, the moments when I hear my children resting peacefully, moments filled with the sound of the attic fan purring and the sweet  and silly sounds of my dog snoring. These are all, big and small, reminders to me that things will be okay.

Home really is where your heart is, where the love is.

Wherever I am or end up, I simply want to fill it with love.

 

I think I can, I think I can, I know I can!

A lot of you won’t be reading this until after I will have already accomplished another “I think I can” milestone. There are not many things as exciting as doing something you were afraid to do or weren’t even sure you could do. The sense of satisfaction that comes from that kind of achievement is almost indescribable. But I’m going to try…

Tomorrow morning I will be getting up at 6am, a difficult task for me on almost any day! I will be going with my parents and my kids to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I will be walking the entire day and resting for some of it. It will be warm, maybe even hot at times. It will be exhausting but it will be so worth it! How do I know? Because I have pushed myself to do things that sometimes seem un-doable and then I am always glad I did them, even if it requires some recovery time. It’s likely with the knee pain I have been having, a slightly injured foot and the overall fatigue of a recent fibromyalgia flare, it’s going to be a challenge; but I’m up for it! Why am I up for it? It’s not because I’m in great physical shape. It’s because the smiles on my children’s faces, the joy we will all experience, the “oohs and ahhs” and giggles of delight will bring me all the pain relief I need.

I don’t practice this kind of push through the pain kind of mentality on a daily basis, well, just not at the extreme level of spending an entire day and evening at an amusement park. I only do this on really special occasions. One such occasion, that I still love to talk about, is when I walked in the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk for Suicide Prevention in the Summer of 2009. This is an 18 mile walk, that I was not prepared for, but I felt deep in my heart and soul that I must participate. It was also part of the deal to raise a minimum of $1000 in a fundraising effort, something I had never done before and could not foresee how it would be possible! The fundraising and mental preparation for the walk was difficult. I experienced many times of thinking I was not going to get there, what was I going to do once I did get there, and how on earth was I going to raise the money to go?

About a week or two before I was to go to Chicago for the walk I experienced the worst fibromyalgia flare that I have experienced to date. My entire back and neck went into a state of tortuous and ongoing muscle spasms. I was in terrible pain. I could hardly move and I could hardly imagine life off of my couch. My determination to go to the walk and represent those who deal with mental health issues, those who have attempted to take their own lives, and those who have died by suicide was so strong, that I made changes and took action in ways I never had before.

I kicked my diet soda habit. I was blessed with the gift of really good chiropractic service (thanks Mom!) and I spent some money on massage. By the time my day of departure came around, I was good enough to go.

Long story short, I raised the money I needed (with amazing and kind contributions by huge hearted individuals) and I walked. I was only able to complete 10 miles of the walk, but WOW… 10 miles is a lot of walking. Anyone that has fibromyalgia and is not in great physical shape can tell you that is a long walk. It even rained, but I kept going. I stopped at what was the designated “mid-way” point and I was not defeated. As a person who had been afraid to even move a week before, I was absolutely ecstatic. I wanted to complete the walk, I wanted to with all of my heart, but one thing that living with fibro has taught me is to respect my limits. I had already pushed mine and if I had gone farther, I’m just not sure what my body’s response would have been. I know now, that with better preparation I will be able to complete the walk the next time I am able to participate. I know now that I can do it and that feels amazing!

Knowing your own power and strength despite the limitations of our illness is integral to our sense of self. When we feel completely beat down by an illness, it’s just no good. Every now and then, we have to do things that feel too difficult or too challenging. Every now and then we have to push our own envelope to remind ourselves of what we are made of…because every day we fight a battle that goes unseen, so seeing our own accomplishments just reaffirms what we already knew inside. We are strong, we are amazing and worthwhile human beings. Life doesn’t have to be filled with amazing feats. Little challenges too can be quite big, depending on our illness or state of health. Reward yourself with self-love when you accomplish things, because sometimes, just getting out of our jammies is a really tough job!

Job Searching with Fibromyalgia

I have begun a job search. While I work part-time as an online Community Leader, I am in a position where I need to supplement my income or find full-time work. This is a tough step to take when living with a chronic illness and can feel quite daunting.

Not only do I have my own little negative nellies in my head, I am certain that the possibility is real of a future employer feeling  hesitant about my condition upon discovery. I am a hard worker and a smart cookie, but it doesn’t change the fact that I live with a lot of fatigue and flares now and then. Having the privilege of working from home this last year and a half has really helped me to witness my own strengths despite my illness but it has also sheltered me from some of the daily grind that most people experience.

So, I am searching for jobs with a different perspective than I have in previous years. I look at positions in a different light. With each perusal of the job postings I find myself wondering, would this employer be kind to someone living with a chronic health condition? And I also keep wondering, is there a way I can increase my income on my own from home so that I do not have to put myself under the scrutiny just yet? I have a rather immediate need, so getting out there may be my only option at the moment, and perhaps it will be a good and healthy one.

I also find the job search exciting at times, looking into positions that peak my interests and seem like a great fit for me. But finding a position in which I can really promote health, wellness, and advocacy would be ideal. I would love to find that kind of work that almost doesn’t feel like work because it is so inline with my passions…which is pretty much what working in my current position is like.

So now, to the point of my sharing, I want to create a list of resources or ideas for those who are job searching or defining their career path in spite of a chronic illness like fibromyalgia? Do you know of great websites that give ideas for this? Do you have your own ideas of careers or jobs that would work well for someone who lives with a chronic health condition? If so, please share them here and help me to brainstorm ideas for others who are dealing with the same predicament as I am.

Sweet Dreams

I wrote this two days ago and thought I had posted it, apparently it was still in draft form. Thought I might as well post it now.

It’s not often that I post twice in one day to my blog, but I decided to try out wordpress for android and see how it felt. After reading the couple of super kind comments left on my previous post I am wondering what kind of perception people have of this blogging effort off mine.

What I hope people will come to understand is that these issues I discuss, share, and contemplate are chronic in nature (for me) and I often fluctuate between really difficult times and periods of feeling on top of it. By sharing my ups and downs, I want others to know that it is okay to share theirs. Sometimes, it is just not so cut and dry. I wish I could say…once upon a time I experienced depression and now it’s gone, but that is not the case for me. But there is still hope. Even in these chronic cases, life is not constantly awful, although it is hard. Fibromyalgia exacerbates the issue, but I have grown more as an individual these last couple of years than I ever could had I not been dealt these challenges.

Life has many secret gifts in it, even in what feels like the most horrible of times or circumstances. So while I share these hard times, I want you to rest assured that I am here for the long haul, sharing the low points as well as high.

All this is to say goodnight and sweet dreams to anyone who may be struggling with the realities of life with chronic pain, chronic illness, or mental health challenges. I sure am glad I am not alone.