Holistic: Whole Body Medicine

Recently, last week to be exact, I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy done to figure out what has been going on with my stomach. My issues have waxed and waned since 1998, sometimes being horrible, to the point I lost 20lbs and then got better, where I thought I was healed until my stomach reminded me on no uncertain terms that it had not relinquished its hold on me. After 21 years and have finally had enough I sought another opinion, but because it had been so long between doctors and tests, it was recommended that I have more testing done. So the colonoscopy and endoscopy were scheduled and I went in to have it done.ernies-first-colonoscopy-2-b
For any of you who had had it done you know the prep is both an inconvenient and humiliating experience that is difficult to tolerate. This is doubled when you are already having troubles with your stomach and makes the entire experience that much worse. I had the terrible misfortune of my procedure being scheduled for 7am which meant that the prep had to be done at 6pm and then at 11pm, which meant I got little sleep. As a pain patient, this made my pain exponentially worse, and I would find out later, recovery time for the procedure much longer than even I anticipated.

The procedure went off without a hitch and I woke up to the news that I had an ulcer as well as some pretty alarming gastritis. Okay. I was more alarmed at the ulcer because I knew what could be the cause of it but I was so tired from the anaesthetic I didn’t really worry about it. Later on in the evening, I read what they sent me home with: I had chronic gastritis and a chronic gastric ulcer.  I have to make a follow-up appointment, but in big bold letters on the top of the page, it read: Voting and protest concept

NO! Aspirin, Motrin, Advil, Naproxen and Ibuprofen. I had to read it a few times to process it for a few reasons. Among my myriad of health issues are Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Inflammatory Arthritis and Migraine. I use Naproxen all the time and The Excedrin I take has Aspirin, and I take Motrin or Ibuprofen or Naproxen daily. What the hell was I supposed to take? Though I don’t think my anxiety was directly responsible, I proceeded to get a migraine that lasted four days after this. Make what you want of that.
Luckily, my youngest and I had an appointment with our neurologist and after he spoke to my daughter about how her meds helped and got around to me I was finally able to get everything off my chest and his expression and response was priceless.

“Well, that’s just hogwash!” he shook his head, reading over what had been written there on the top of the findings and just looked at me with irritation in his eyes. “This,” his finger tapping against the page, “this, is why I hate my colleagues. You have to look at patients holistically. You may not be experts in all of the other things that might trouble them, but you have to be able to understand them because you can’t just go NO with a big red marker, and expect them to live.” He continued to just sigh and shake his head.
My doctor used my favourite word. Holistically. And he used it in the way it should be used. I have a lot of things wrong with me, for which I go to many specialists. But none of them gets on a conference call at any point to ask,conferencecall

“ are we going to treat this patient, Liza? She’s got this wrong with her Bob, that’s your turf. And she’s got this wrong with her, that’s your’s Jane.” And so on. No one is looking at me or you as a whole person (or very few are) and I truly believe that presents a problem when we are endeavouring to feel better. At this point, I am not looking for a cure. I am not that naïve. I know there is no cure, I know there is no one out there who can give it to me. What I am looking for now is quality of life. I want to have the best quality of life I can so I can enjoy my life as pain-free as possible. But if you can imagine this: large office space with cubicles and in each cubicle is your specialist and then there is you, the patient, standing somewhere outside the building. All these doctors are trying to help you, as you come in to see them but never as a whole. How is that even possible? If you were in a hospital after a major car accident that affected many parts of your body, the doctors would be consulting one another as to the best course of action to make you better. But for whatever reasons that you might need 5 or ten specialists, none of them would ever think to call the other to try and figure out how to treat you together. We’ve forgotten how to treat a person a holistically and because of that I truly believe that patients needlessly suffer or on top of being patient, we have to become P.A. and manage all our symptoms and medications, bring them to each specialist to see if there anything we can do better to treat the myriad of symptoms. I know we’re messed up, complicated, a challenge, but isn’t this why they went to medical school? Not everyone is an easy open/shut case. It’s times like these I wish there was a House, M.D.


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I am: An Un-Apologetic Opioid Patient

I take opioids. I have been taking them now for almost 4yrs. Opioids don’t eliminate my pain completely, and there are some days that I still can’t function, but they have allowed me some semblance of a life. I can not emphasize semblance, strongly enough. My world absolutely changed when I began experiencing pain and the symptoms of my chronic illness, that I did not know at the time. I pushed myself through it brutally, until I couldn’t do that anymore either.

Before I became sick and plagued by pain, I was an active mother and student, trying to finish my degree at the University of Houston. I loved yoga and while I still practice, it is very cautiously and with different expectations than what I do now. My dream was to continue school and either get a Master’s or a certification that would allow me to work in public health. I love contagious disease. That sounds grim, I know, but it was a passion of mine to be able to protect people from unseen killers, of endemic diseases. I wanted to protect my community. I never got to finish school, one class shy of a degree, because my health hasn’t been very cooperative and my pain makes it difficult to focus.

I take opioids regularly throughout the day in order to blog and participate in my family without the pain preventing me from enjoying life. I still need help with every aspect of my life, and without my children and husband there to assist, I am not certain what kind of life I might be living. It’s easier asking my children for help now, but when they were younger, I often didn’t and pushed through the pain which would leave me useless for days. How do you ask children who are in trying to juggle a full-time job and college courses, or high school classes which include dual-credit, to take time out to help you with chores that are your responsibility? As a mother, you want them to excel and do better than you did and while having them do their own chores like: cleaning their room or cleaning their bathroom and doing their laundry is acceptable, things like: taking me to doctors appointments because I can’t drive, or making dinner because I can’t, or picking up and taking siblings here and there because again, I can’t drive, make you feel guilty. I didn’t have children so they could take care of me. My chronic pain took away some aspects of motherhood, and also took away some aspects of my kids’ childhood.

I’ve taken other pain medications. A whole bunch that I either didn’t tolerate in some fashion or simply didn’t work as well as the opioids. Do I want to take opioids? Not especially. I take a lot of medication. I often worry about the effect these medicines are having on my liver. After taking them for nearly 4yrs., I also know their effectiveness is beginning to wane. They are just not doing what they used to which leaves me in pain again, more often than when I first began taking them. This, of course, makes me wonder what next? What drug will they eventually try that will also wane too after a few years? But the flip side, the person still dwelling within me who wants to experience as much life as I possibly can and enjoy it without being in crippling pain, doesn’t care. Whatever the next opioid may be, I will try it because to not take these drugs means to give up and die. I’m not ready yet. Sorry.

Which brings me to this opioid war. I get it. I get that people have lost loved ones and I understand how tragic and senseless it is. What I do not understand and what I read and hear time, and time again, is how opioids should be abolished. But which opioids exactly? This is the blurry line which is affecting all pain patients and which angers me. For example this quote from CBS News: “Approximately three-fourths of all drug overdose deaths are now caused by opioids — a class of drugs that includes prescription painkillers as well as heroin and potent synthetic versions like fentanyl.” [] You see information like this and the average reader is only seeing the first part: three-fourths of all drug overdose deaths are being caused by opioids. Lost in this message is the latter part, explaining that these drugs include prescriptions, heroin and synthetic versions like fentanyl. Neither do you hear things like: Synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, are the main driver of drug overdose deaths, making up more than 28,000 of opioid-related deaths in 2017.” And then even less are you hearing this: “Opioid prescribing has also been on the decline since 2010 and the number of prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies is at a 15-year low, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” [1]

These missing parts are an incredibly important part of the bigger picture. The bigger picture which includes patients who are suffering and needlessly dying because they aren’t receiving adequate pain treatment. We’ve gone from a period back in the 90’s which (and no one argues this), people were being over-prescribed opioids, to a period now, on the opposite of the spectrum, where people are being under-prescribed. Both sides of these extremes have consequences and we are seeing them now, in the preventable deaths of patients who were under-prescribed pain medication. You are hearing about cancer patients being denied morphine, until their final weeks after terrible suffering before their deaths. [2][3]

You are also hearing about post-surgical patients being given only Tylenol for hip replacement surgeries, despite the amount of pain afterwards. I’ve had total left hip replacement and I can’t imagine being able to do the required physical therapy without the opioids I was given, and the unnecessary suffering truly boggles my mind. [4]

I say you are hearing and seeing this information, but the truth of the matter is that you aren’t hearing or seeing about it as much as you should be and because of that, chronic pain patients are suffering out there. People in my community are dying because of the lack of information and the mis-information regarding opioids. Every time I am on social media, I will find articles being discussed about deaths caused by opioids. Just skimming through comments, I will read things like: It’s big pharma’s fault, all they care about is money; There’s a lack of morality within society when kids are dying from opioids and they continue to be doled out; Opioids need to be abolished; There wouldn’t be addicts if the drug was taken away. Comments like these, make my heart sink because of the black and white nature with which this Opioid Hysteria is being viewed. Opioids are not the enemy. Patients who need these drugs are not the addicts (though admittedly, a small percentage from this group do become addicts) and people who need these drugs are dying, because doctors are being criminalized for prescribing them, losing their jobs and making it more and more difficult for pain patients to be treated. The world had gone crazy and those suffering are being made to suffer more.

I am a pain patient. I take opioids and I’m un-apologetic about taking them. I’ll also continue to fight for those who may not be able to themselves, to end the needless deaths and suffering which have become the cost to this ridiculous war waged on opioids.










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Mobility Aids

And why we need them.



Once upon a time, not so long ago, I was ignorant of what disability might mean from person to person. There was this idea that people who were disabled couldn’t walk- meaning they were paralyzed in some way, or they were mentally handicapped in such a way that they could not function in society. It was a pretty black and white interpretation. Even when I was diagnosed with bipolar, anxiety disorder and PTSD, it never occurred to me I was disabled. Even though I would come unglued every time I received a summon for jury duty and needed to have my psychiatrist write a letter explaining why I could not go, or when I was forced to drive on the freeway to a place I was unfamiliar with (and at times familiar with) prior to my seizures and my grip was so tight on the steering wheel they’d go numb, even though assault scenes on T.V. triggered panic attacks and fits of crying, I never thought I might be disabled. I still did not see myself as someone with a disability when I received my handicap placard in the mail, because of my physical limitations and pain that made it difficult to walk through a parking lot to get to a store. And I still had difficulties seeing myself as disabled even after the purchase of two canes, which I mostly use when outside of my house, feeling safer as I try to manoeuvre through unfamiliar landscapes. What I have learned is that disability comes in all forms and just because I don’t use a mobility aid all the time doesn’t make me any less disabled and doesn’t mean I don’t need it.


Wheelchair: As defined by the Oxford Dictionary: “a special chair with wheels, used by people who cannot walk because of illness, an accident, etc.” []


What I love about this definition the most is that it explicitly says that wheelchairs can be used by people who cannot walk because of illness or an accident. It never mentions being paralyzed. I get so upset when I hear about those within my community who are harassed by -ableds, because they are seen getting up from a wheelchair to get in the vehicle and have the audacity to call it out as though they were doing something illegal. Here are some types of invisible illnesses that might cause a person to need a wheelchair:


·       Rheumatoid Arthritis: Individuals suffering from this type of arthritis may use a wheelchair to help them burden some of the pain they are having. This would include pain in the lower limbs, where the individual can no longer walk or stand without the assistance of a wheelchair. Use of wheelchair varies from diagnosis, not all people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis will require a wheelchair. []

·       Epilepsy: It occurs as a result of electrical signals being sent in the brain, which causes an overload that results in ongoing seizures. People with epilepsy vary in symptoms, some people who suffer this illness just stare blankly during a seizure, and others have violent convulsions as a result. Use of a wheelchair prevents concussions that might be sustained during a fall. []

·       Neuromuscular Disorders: include a variety of conditions, such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and ataxia, which result in degeneration and atrophy of muscle or nerve tissues. []

·       Fibromyalgia: a form of “soft tissue” or muscular rheumatism causing constant pain in muscles and ligaments. Inactivity, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue and sleep loss are common. []


This is not an exhaustive list by any means. The point here is, people can use wheelchairs for many reasons and the use of them can drastically alter their quality of life.



Canes and Walkers


No fancy definition here. Canes and walkers provide balance and support to the individual using them, assisting in avoiding falls and possibly helping to keep weight off an injured foot, leg, or hip. The difference between cane and walker is: you can support up to 25% of your weight on a cane and 50% on a walker. [] Many of the reasons listed above, save for epilepsy, may require the use of a cane in the infancy of the illness, before needing to move on to a walker as the illness progresses. This is not an exhaustive list of reasons why a person may need to use a cane or walker. The point again, that these mobility aids can drastically alter the quality of life, giving a person freedom where they were limited before out of fear of falling.


I’ve shared with you why mobility aids may be needed and that they can drastically improve the quality of life of someone struggling with a disability, but here are a few reasons how:


·       Access and convenience: If you only feel safe in your own home, you can become isolated and chronic illness and pain are already incredibly isolating. If you are unable to walk around at venues because your pain or illness makes the walking around difficult, a mobility aid can open doors for you. We all have lives that we want to participate in and mobility aids give us that ability, whether it’s a lot or a little. The choice is there, just like in the lives of an -abled person.

·       Caregiver safety: We often speak about them, and we rely on them every day. It’s a tough job being a caregiver and one that only becomes monumentally more difficult when a caregiver is also responsible for transporting a loved one. Accidents can happen and mobility aids can lift this worry from the caregiver, allowing for them both to enjoy more things to do and places to see when the person feels safe getting around.

·       Quality of life: When you look at access and convenience and caregiver safety in conjunction with the individual’s health which precipitated the need to begin with, you are looking at quality of life. Being able to get out easier can give a person purpose where they might have thought there was none, and purpose can contribute to a higher, over-all, wellbeing. We need that.


My parting thought on this: Mobility aids can be an absolute game changer for people with chronic illness/pain and other disabilities. Just because you can’t visually see the impairment, doesn’t mean they are “cheating.” It also doesn’t give you the right to call them out, humiliate them with a note taped to their car, or anything else. It’s already traumatizing enough losing your freedoms and abilities due to chronic illness/pain or accident, we don’t need your side commentary about it. You may find yourself in the same situation one day and you’d probably want people around to be understanding.

*Thank you for reading as always*


Being Told to Give Up

If you follow me on Twitter you’ve learned that I found a new pain management doctor. Not because my previous one was horrid (I know you can read a lot of horror stories on various blogs) but because our vision was going in different directions. So, I found a new doctor and he’s great. My first time seeing him where he evaluated me, he had this great idea for an intrathecal pump. Now, for of those of you who do not know what this is, it’s a pump that is implanted into the flesh of your belly and where the thin, catheter tubing goes up into your spinal cord and the medicine would go directly into your spine. This eliminates the medicine having to detour into the liver, and with the medicine going directly into your spine, it also allows them to give you much lower doses of medicines like morphine, to help with the pain. This all sounded pretty good to me, minus the pump implant and catheter tubing that has to go into the spine, but the theory behind it was great. Better meds and bypassing the liver. Cool. I scheduled a trial, where they deliver the pain medicine to the spine via spinal tap to see if it will help. But I had to be cleared by a few doctors, one of which was my neurologist who hit the brakes hard. So much so that I had a head-on collision with this great idea. He would not discuss it without actually seeing me so I made an appointment and sat down to talk about things.

It began with the fact I had a seizure in January, and because he is a neurologist he knows exactly what the intrathecal pump is and how they would do it and because we have no idea why I have these seizures (undefined seizure disorder), he is afraid that I might have a catastrophic seizure during the procedure and end up in bad shape in the hospital. Okay, I thought. Do I have to wait a few months to be seizure free? What if I wait and everything is fine and schedule it and have another seizure before the procedure date? I’m pretty sure he could see the questions racing in my head by the expression on my face and that is when he stopped me cold.

“I don’t think you should have it done at all. I think you have to accept you are going to be in some amount of pain, and possibly significant pain, for the rest of your life.”

Let me say that he’s been treating me for a long time. He can be abrasive and won’t shy away from telling you he’s an asshole, but he’s the farthest thing from an asshole. What he is, is honest but sometimes honesty is not something you want to hear as much as a version of honesty that offers some hope. There was no hope in his statement and I cried with the impact it made on me. There was nowhere to turn, nowhere to hide. All I could think was:

“But why?”

He gave me a lot of reasons. The seizures. The fact I’ve had several failed back procedures. The fact I’ve tried many things already, to help with the pain that has not improved my situation. Finally, what he feels is the biggest reason: I’m Bipolar. Why is this the biggest reason and why should it matter that I am bipolar or not? I didn’t understand even after he explained it until I began to research it. Me, the person with bipolar, had to research why her bipolar was the biggest reason to give up. Why was my mental illness the sudden obstacle between me and the Holy Grail of cures?

The theory is that there is a link between chronic pain and bipolar, one which worsens chronic pain and symptoms of bipolar over time. The idea is that psychological pain comes with depression and that depression worsens chronic pain. One big vicious cycle. In learning about bipolar you understand that physical pain is often an underlying symptom of anxiety or depression. For example: “Muscle aches, chest pain, gastrointestinal cramping and other types of pain can be symptoms of bipolar disorder. They can also coincide with bouts of extreme fatigue. Aside from the emotional trauma of depression, these symptoms can only add to the burden, especially since they may not go away with traditional pain treatment methods.” [] As I read, I was kind of blown away. It suddenly hit me that maybe bipolar and chronic illness were a tandem unit in which the one (bipolar) made the other (chronic illness/pain) more difficult to treat and perhaps, vice-versa.

It’s been almost two weeks since that appointment and it feels like I’ve spent all of it ruminating on his dispiriting words. My mood has been terrible. I’ve been at turns, bitchy and emotional and picked a fight with my husband for no reason. When I apologized to him and we talked about it, I explained to him all of what I was thinking and blamed it on my bipolar. He shook his head and simply told me:

“You’re upset because he took away your hope.”

This shouldn’t have been such illumination to me but it was. While I understood everything that my doctor told me and everything the research, I had read concluded, does it give someone else, like a doctor, the right to single-handedly, extinguish the possibility of hope? Not for me, although I understand his intent and I don’t think it was maliciously done. The problem lies in the nature of chronic illness and chronic pain and how it affects the psyche of the individual suffering. It diminishes hope. The physical deterioration can be slow for some people, where things that we could do are slowly taken away one-by-one, while for other people it can feel as though you went to bed healthy and woke up in such debilitating pain that you can no longer walk, but the hope that ebbs away is real no matter which side of the spectrum you are on and I believe we need every shred of it.

I understand that this intrathecal pump may not be the best option for me. In my personal case, with seizures of an undefined origin, it may be too risky. I’ll even extend this understanding to the bipolar disorder, but only because I understand on an intellectual level that it may have a hand in my pain. However, as to what role it may play in this drama, among which all these comorbities of mine play? The jury is still out until I see some very thorough studies. I can see that on one hand it may unlock many mysteries pertaining to chronic pain and illness, but on the other I am afraid it may de-legitimize the pain and illness of many who suffer if we simply chalk it up to the by-products of mental illness. My final thought here, which was the purpose of this post to begin with, is that I don’t believe it is right for anyone to take away the hope of a chronic illness/pain patient. Hope is one of the few things we have left. It is sometimes the only thing that keeps us going. If you are a doctor out there, reading this, please, protect your patient from un-needed or dangerous surgeries, but do not take their hope away.

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day 2019: May 12

Since my first time writing this, when I was newly diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I have also been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have learned that the diagnosis of a chronic illness is a heavy burden to bear. You are faced with doubts from strangers and family as well as myths perpetuated by the internet. Our illness, while it may be invisible, is very real to us within the community and I feel so privileged to be among the many warriors out there trying to make a difference.

5 Myths of Fibromyalgia

  • Fibromyalgia is really a matter of being overweight. Get into shape and you won’t have the problems any more. It’s actually not an issue of being overweight, although being overweight does not help. The cause of fibromyalgia has not been linked to being overweight and many people who are considered to be very fit, i.e. Lady Gaga and Carry Ann Inaba, have fibromyalgia. We need to focus less on blaming the person and focus on how they can improve their lives and perhaps, improve.
  • Organic, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Non-dairy, or Inflammatory Diet is the cure. No, it’s not actually. You can certainly adhere to any diet you like and it may even benefit you in many ways for a variety of reasons, but it won’t cure Fibromyalgia. There is no known cure for it because we really don’t have a firm idea about why it happens in some and not others. It’s important to remember that we’re all unique and we’re all in different circumstances with different beliefs and what works for you or what fits in your life-style, may not work in others. Having respect for all warriors is important.
  • Choosing to treat your Fibromyalgia holistically means you don’t want to help yourself and the reverse of that. As I just said, we are all different and we all come with a predetermined set of ideas. Some of us will be open to try holistic measures, while others, who’ve only tried holistic methods, will be willing to try medicine. I’ve seen many fights regarding this and I don’t understand why. We all have to make decisions based on what is best for us and our family and also, very importantly, what is available to us.
  • It’s a Princess disease and just means you’re lazy. I really hate this one. It’s hurtful, not to mention mocking of a disease that is very real and very painful. Those of us who suffer with fibromyalgia are neither lazy or adverse to working. And those of us who find ourselves unable to work because of the illness are often devastated. The problem with this particular myth is that we get much of our identity from our job, not to mention money. Being unable to work and needing to rely on help is crushing.
  • Fibromyalgia isn’t debilitating. Here is another that makes me grind my teeth. It implies that all illness and all pain should be measured by some standard that is written in a book somewhere, when we know that illness affects people differently as does pain. How I process pain is going to be different than you and yours will be different than your friends and so forth and so on. I wish pain was viewed as uniquely as we are human. I wish it was respected and not compared. Fibromyalgia can be very debilitating for some while others manage it better; but even those who find it debilitating may go on with their lives, may perform activities which someone else with fibromyalgia would never consider and still, it makes it no less debilitating. I would use Lady Gaga as an example here again, because she performs in a way I could never do, but I would never dismiss her pain or say she was exaggerating. Her fibromyalgia is debilitating and so is mine.

Arthur’s Place

Today I wanted to share with you a special website that is geared toward helping young adults cope with arthritis-related illness. Andrea McBride is a Rheumatology nurse specialist who set up this site called: Arthur’s Place, a private social group that has a global reach for young people age 18-30 with Arthritis and related conditions.

I am impressed with the site, the information it provides and the quality of articles within. If you are a young adult, newly diagnosed with a rheumatoid illness, I think this website could give you a variety of information that you would not get from a doctor as well as being able to connect with other young adults across the globe via social media. They are also a non-profit, so any merchandise that is purchased goes directly into funding Arthur’s Place, which is helping the rheumatoid community.


Check it out!

The UN-Glamor of Anxiety

Are you looking at UN-glamor and wondering why? Does it bother you from a purely grammatical perspective or is it causing you to pace and pull out your hair, possibly making you twitch?

Anxiety can range from mild to severe, some people function very well with it and others don’t, but the interesting thing about it is that we’ve all experienced it. It may have manifested in the anxiety we often feel as children when we are first separated from our parents or before texts. These are things that are common to feel anxious about. But anxiety can quickly become a problem which is all-encompassing and one that can make day-to-day life, difficult. Anxiety before a test, that causes the individual to vomit repeatedly, is not average anxiety. The anxiety that comes over you like a dark cloud and makes you feel as though there is some great, threatening danger and prevents you from going to work (which I have felt), is not average anxiety.

Anxiety can also be a by-product of other things like chronic illness or OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).  Why you might ask, would chronic illness spawn something like anxiety? In my personal experience with it, because of the unpredictability of my symptoms, never knowing how I would feel from day to day and the possibility of needing to call off work sick and lose my job, made me incredibly anxious. In dealing with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), there was the anxiety brought on by shame.  It was being cognitively aware that my feelings were irrational but unable to stop feeling it. It was being afraid to go in public and carry on with my normal activities because I was afraid of having a panic attack brought on by my anxiety of certain situations. It was anxiety brought on by just attempting to carry on normally, and knowing that my attempt at illusion was failing and shattering beneath the weight of it all.


What angers me most about the perception of anxiety is that it’s somehow this adorable little quirk in women, which women use as some kind of sonar device to attract potential mates. Because of course, women need saving, whether it’s from the “bad things” outside, or ourselves. Pardon me while I eyeroll a moment. None of my anxiety, panic disorder, bipolar or OCD ever helped in the guy department. In fact, I actually attribute it to the disaster of my first marriage, which other than producing two, beautiful children, was toxic in all ways. It’s difficult to find someone who can see past the messy of mental illness and find you, under it all. I felt broken. I felt very UN-glamorous and not at all cute.

Although my focus here is women, I wanted to comment on our male counterpart. I think that because anxiety and mental heal issues are romanticized with women that it is actually the reverse for men. If we think about our society for a moment, and how men are the tall, strong, handsome ones who do the rescuing, that this idea puts men who are struggling with anxiety and mental illness in quite the conundrum. Not having any statistics handy, I would wager that many men try to cover up their anxieties much more than women, trying to appear normal and trying to have relationships. I can imagine the difficulties that this brings them and the sheer exhaustion of trying to keep up with this illusion, before they, too, shatter.

I still struggle with anxiety. Going out into stores is possible but I still wouldn’t ever step foot into the grocery store on weekends. I can’t recall the last time I was physically at the mall. I am unlikely to ever do any of the brochure-highlighted tourist attractions, and will instead opt for something more rural, less popular. My education has been something of an odyssey, I am painfully aware of my test anxiety and as equally aware of my social anxiety. My OCD is better than it was, but I freak out a little when we have to divert from a familiar route to any place we go. This can include heated arguments and tears. The bipolar is a different breed of the monster of mental illness but I am in a good place. Some days it’s harder than others. I do not view my life with my anxieties or mental health issues as glamorous, nor do I think you would. It’s been a rough, ugly road to get to the place I am now. If you are in that rough place, I would ask you to get help and stick to it. If you know someone in that place, don’t give up on them and keep trying to push them closer to help. If you don’t have these issues, I would tell you not to fall for the glamour of how they try to sell it in the movies or T.V. because it’s not anywhere close to that. Lastly, I’d ask everyone to advocate for positive mental health discourse. It shouldn’t be something anyone is ashamed of and being educated about it may mean you get help for yourself or someone else sooner.  


*The image is me and I used Photolab.

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