So,I Started a Post But…

I had laundry to do; I started an art project I’ve really wanted to start; my chronic illness reared it’s ugly head and I was in bed for an entire weekend; I had to play catch up with chores; there was an issue with my disability I had to take care of; I cleaned my room from the piles of artistic madness…and, well, you get the idea.

As if life wasn’t already difficult enough for me, with chronic illnesses and symptoms that make me crazy, I struggle with mental health, bipolar and ADHD. Bipolar should have been enough. There is nothing that can complicate one’s existence more than bipolar and the shifting of emotion that could rival any ocean waves, unless you have ADHD too.

I wasn’t diagnosed until recently by my psychiatrist. And my recently, I mean within the last five years. He said it is likely I struggles with it since I was a kid, but because no one really looked at girls having ADHD back then, let alone boys, I learned to cope with on my own. I was called mercurial and flighty. I couldn’t sit still so my parents put me in ballet, tap and gymnastics. Sitting down for any length of time to study was like murder. As a teen, I listened to music while studying, much to the chagrin of my parents who thought I wouldn’t retain anything. As an adult, I’m one of those people with 15 tabs open, Spotify on while watching YouTube, while working on a blog post.

Girl listening to music.

But recently, it’s become a little more difficult to manage and it’s not something I’ve brought up to my doctor yet because I’m still firmly in the camp of “it’ll work itself out.” I’ve noticed with projects that are a little lengthier, or when I’m reading something that is more than a 6-minute read, my mind starts to wander. I remember that the tomatoes outside need watering, or that I should start supper so that I won’t be rushing and getting too tired. I start watching something on Netflix or listening to something on Spotify. It can be very disheartening because eventually I remember what it is I am supposed to be working on and I become frustrated with my inability to concentrate.


As many of you out there with chronic pain and illness can understand, there sometimes feels like there is a small window of time where we can do everything we need to- but we really can’t because if we do we can really overdo it and then we’re feeling crappy for a week- but that window looks really damn good and we want to live and we want to play and we want to do everything we can, and so for me, that translates into hopping from one thing to the next, doing what I can in each little bit, but because of the way ADHD is, I sometimes forget where it was I began.

I began research for a post for mental health awareness back in January. It ended up being quite lengthy and I am only now starting to edit and cite various research info within the post. It’s June and I began this in January. I was upset I couldn’t post it for Mental Health Awareness Month, but thought for sure I would get it out the following month, but here it is June and I’m not quite done. So, I thought I would vent my frustrations out to you while also bringing you some of the symptoms of Adult ADHD, to make myself feel better.

Adult ADHD Symptoms (may look like…)

  • Impulsiveness
  • Disorganization and problems prioritizing
  • Poor time management skills
  • Problems focusing on a task
  • Trouble multitasking
  • Excessive activity or restlessness
  • Poor planning
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Problems following through and completing tasks
  • Hot temper
  • Trouble coping with stress

Everyone has some of these symptoms at some point. What gives you the diagnosis of ADHD is two words: persistent and disruptive. If you are experiencing one or many of these symptoms daily, and it is being persistent and disruptive, go and see a doctor to explain your symptoms. It may be ADHD. Mayo Clinic

I am still working on the mental health post and it will be dropped here regardless of timing, because mental health is aways important. Stay well!

Mental Illness: The Myth That All Mass Murderers Are Mentally Ill

Mental illnesses include a whole range of different conditions that vary in degree of severity from mild to severe. Within this are two broad categories that can be used to describe these conditions: 

Any Mental Illness (AMI) and Serious Mental Illness (SMI) 

AMI encompasses all recognized mental illnesses. 

SMI is a smaller and more severe subset of AMI. 

So, for clarity, AMI is defined as “a mental disorder, behavioral disorder or emotional disorder. Those within the AMI category may have disorders that impact their lives mildly, moderately, and even severely. Those that fall within SMI are defined as having a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairments, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.1 NIMH

School Cross Walk Sign

Is someone who commits murder, or mass murder, mentally ill? If they do not have a history of mental health issues or behavioral issues that fall into a mental health category, are they mentally ill? Do we look at all the people who have murdered anyone and just say, “Oh, well, they must have been mentally ill?” It makes me simultaneously angry and frightened that our legislatures chalk up tragedies like our most recent in Uvalde, Texas, to a “mental health issue.” It angers me because the idea that all mass murderers must be mentally ill is simply false. 

It is true that severe mental illnesses are found more often among mass murderers. About one in five are likely psychotic or delusional, according to Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University who maintains a database of 350 mass killers going back more than a century. The figure for the general public is closer to 1 percent. But the rest of these murderers do not have any severe, diagnosable disorder.” 2Are Mass Murderers Insane

In an article by Michael Friedman LMSW, in MedPage Today, “People with mental illness rarely commit homicide, and few homicides are committed by people with mental illness. About 5% of homicides are committed by people with psychotic conditions.3 Mental Illness Doesn’t Mean Mass Murder People with mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of a crime and far more likely to take their own life, than the reverse.

Looking closer to home, and as someone with mental illness, I find the statements of Governor Abbott [Texas], to be particularly distressing, misleading, and perpetuating the myth that the mentally ill are violent. It is upsetting to me that the only time the conditions of our mental health system are brought up is to bolster his agenda that stricter gun laws won’t save lives and that his concern for mental health issues is solely a diversionary tactic. No, it’s not only upsetting to me, it’s horrifying. Horrifying because there are many, many reasons to fix the mental health system, many more reasons than the violence of a mass shooting and not just in Texas. For example: 

4Mental Illness Doesn’t Mean Mass Murder

Has Governor Abbott done anything to help the mental health system of Texas? No. “Texas ranked last out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for overall access to mental health care, according to the 2021 State of Mental Health in America report.” Oh, and by the way, “in April he slashed $211 million from the department that oversees mental health programs.” But, according to Governor Abbott, “We as a state, we as a society, need to do a better job with mental health.” We do. But slashing $211 million is not the way. 5 Abbott Calls Texas School Shooting Mental Health Issue

Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

It is also my opinion that chalking up an individual’s twisted thought process which leads them to kill 19 innocent children and two teachers to being mentally ill, diminishes his culpability in this heinous crime while at the same time stigmatizing the mentally ill. Why? Because claiming mental illness implies the person is insane. They didn’t know what they were doing. It is not right and it is not fair. Not only to those who suffer mental illness (which already bears the weight of stigma attached) but to those grieving parents attempting to make sense of what happened and all those other families who still grieve the loss of a family member taken too soon. 

Extensive case history shows that mass shooters don’t just suddenly break — they decide. They develop violent ideas that stem from entrenched grievances, rage, and despair. In many cases, they feel justified in their actions and regard killing as the sole solution to a problem. They arm themselves and prepare to attack, choosing where and when to strike. Often this is a highly organized and methodical process.” 6 Mass Shooters Don’t Snap. They Decide To Kill

Our minds can’t help but try to unravel and understand what can bring another human to this point. We look at it and think there is no way this person could be thinking with a clear and rational mind, and yet…if not suffering mental illness, what? I believe we have to look between what is normal and what is mentally ill. That space between, because a person that goes out and kills indiscriminately can’t be “mentally healthy.” 

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There are warning signs that can be looked for in some, such as: “threatening comments, personal deterioration, patterns of stalking and other aggression, as well as fixating on guns, graphic violence, and previous mass shooters.”  7 Mass Shooters Don’t Snap. They Decide To Kill

I believe wholeheartedly with Follman that to make progress it’s, “going to take everything we’ve got: strengthening our nation’s gun laws, quashing a surge in violent political extremism, raising cultural awareness of shooter-warning signs — and, yes, investing in a lacking mental health care system to give troubled people the help they may need before it’s too late.” 8 Mass Shooters Don’t Snap. They Decide To Kill

We can’t just talk anymore. We can’t just offer condolences and prayers. We can’t shake our fists at one another blaming. We can’t hide behind the Second Amendment when innocent people are dying. When our children are dying. Change never came easy. Sometimes it requires sacrifice. Sometimes it hurts. But those families are hurting. And that hurt will never go away.

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Sources:

1National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). 2022. Mental Illness. [online] Available at: <https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness> [Accessed 26 May 2022].

2Carey, B., 2017. Are Mass Murderers Insane? Usually Not, Researchers Say (Published 2017). [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/08/health/mass-murderers-mental-illness.html> [Accessed 26 May 2022].

3,4Friedman, LMSW, M., 2018. Mental Illness Doesn’t Mean Mass Murder. [online] Medpagetoday.com. Available at: <https://www.medpagetoday.com/psychiatry/generalpsychiatry/76884> [Accessed 26 May 2022].

5Hixenbaugh, M. and Siemaszko, C., 2022. Abbott calls Texas school shooting a mental health issue but cut state spending for it. [online] NBC News. Available at: <https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/abbott-calls-texas-school-shooting-mental-health-issue-cut-state-spend-rcna30557> [Accessed 26 May 2022].

6,7,8Follman, M., 2022. Op-Ed: Mass shooters aren’t mentally ill people who suddenly snap. They decide to kill. [online] Los Angeles Times. Available at: <https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-05-21/blaming-mental-health-mass-shootings-buffalo> [Accessed 26 May 2022].

How You can help families in Uvalde, Texas.

How to help victims of Texas School Shooting

Texas Elementary School gofundme Shooting Relief

https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/living/story/victims-families-responders-uvalde-community-school-shooting-84967792

How to Look Great and Feel Better

The LoveKarmaFood blog brings people together with chronic illness, struggling from some of those secondary issues that many of us have, with a focus on healing through food – holistically. Reach out today to find out more!

Image via Pixabay

How to Look Great and Feel Better

Are you struggling with your self-image? Do you constantly feel tired or lack motivation? Or maybe you just want to take yourself to the next level. Making changes to your physical and mental health can help you look and feel your best – and here are some suggestions from LoveKarmaFood on how to do just that.

Exercise Regularly

Work up a sweat most days of the week to feel and look better. Not only does regular exercise keep your body in top physical condition, but Insider notes that it also puts you in a happier place. Exercise ramps up your endorphins to create a positive feeling while strengthening your muscles. 

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is something everyone should practice to stay mentally healthy. Here are some self-care tasks to try:

  • Sleep. The CDC recommends getting at least 7 hours of sleep to feel rested and energized.
  • Get outdoors. Fresh air and nature views can help you feel better.
  • Find support. A professional counselor or a support group are common examples of support options, but you can also seek support to help with your setting. For instance, paying a professional landscape company to spruce up the property is a great way to improve the appearance of your home, which can give you more stress relief and boosts your overall positivity. 
  • Connect with friends. Spending time with friends can lower your stress and improve your mood.
  • Focus on gratitude. Focusing on the things you’re grateful for can give you a more positive outlook. 
  • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves staying in the moment and taking control of your thoughts. Practice being aware of your surroundings and not rushing through moments as part of self-care.

Clean up Your Diet

What you eat impacts your overall health and how you feel. Eating lots of junk food often makes you feel sluggish. Let yourself splurge a little so you don’t feel deprived, but keep most of your diet healthy and nutrient-rich.

Set Goals

Setting goals using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) method can boost how you feel about yourself. It gives you something to work toward and creates a sense of accomplishment. Perhaps you want to switch careers, but you don’t have the right degree. Enrolling in an online program can help you get the education you need to pursue a new path.

Try Something New

Try a new hobby or learn a new skill to improve your confidence. Hobbies give you something fun to do with your spare time, and they can provide a new perspective while enriching your life.

Keep Up With Care

Don’t wait until you have a health problem to go to the doctor. Scheduling a well-care visit yearly gives your doctor a baseline to make it easier to diagnose health issues early. Your doctor can provide customized recommendations on diet, exercise, and other factors that help you look and feel better. 

Control Stress and Anxiety

Having uncontrolled stress can leave you feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Find ways to manage stress, such as breathing exercises, visualization, yoga, and meditation. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults experience anxiety disorders. If anxiety is taking over your life, see how Mind Atlas’ mindfulness program can help.

Explore Your Style

Looking and feeling great can come down to your physical appearance. Explore your personality by testing different clothing and hairstyles you love. Expressing yourself through your outward appearance can help you feel confident. It’s also about feeling comfortable, so choose clothes made of quality materials that are also versatile. If you’re a new mom, for example, go with dresses, nightgowns and PJs that make nursing easier, no matter where you are. 

You Can Feel and Look Great

Taking charge of your mental and physical health helps you look and feel your best. The two go hand-in-hand. When you feel better about yourself, you live a happier life and accomplish more, getting you closer to your maximum potential.

10 Ways to Get Calm, Cool and Collected in Five Minutes

Everyone struggles with stress. In fact, “nearly half of all U.S. adults say stress has negatively affected their behavior.” (Team, 2022)There really isn’t a way to escape stress in our lives. 8 out of 10 Americans report being stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Seventy-seven percent of U.S. adults are stressed over the future of the nation. Two-thirds of professionals are more stressed on the job than they were five years ago. (Korn Ferry, 2019) Health problems are a huge source of stress. Women often express they are stressed more than men (women place their stress levels at an average of 5.1 out of 10, while men report 4.4 out of 10.) (American Psychological Association, 2016) It’s not only the adults who are stressed either. Teens and younger children are feeling the weight of stress on their small shoulders. Why on earth are kids stressed, you might ask? Let’s see: mass shootings, climate change and global warming, widespread sexual harassment and assault reports and a rise in suicide rates, to name a few. So, since we can’t evade the stress that comes with life, the next best thing is having some tools to help us though the stress. Especially easy ones that can help us reach Calm, Cool and Collected in Five Minutes! Sign me up please!

Please enjoy this piece by Laura Newcomer

10 Strategies to Feel Calmer Fast

  • Listen to music

If you don’t already have a calm-down playlist, don’t let that be another stress! You can easily find calming music by searching Spotify or YouTube. Try searching general terms such as “calming music” or more specific queries such as “calm piano music” or “meditation music.” Research confirms that listening to relaxing tunes can help the nervous system recover from a stressful stimulus. 

  • Practice progressive muscle relaxation

This easy, equipment-free activity can help relieve both physical tension and psychological stress. The practice requires you to tense and then relax all of your body’s major muscles one at a time, starting near your head and working toward your feet. 

  • Watch an ASMR video

Though research into Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is still in the early stages, some evidence suggests watching an ASMR video could promote a feeling of calm and overall well-being. If you’re not familiar with ASMR, it’s a pleasurable tingling sensation in the scalp or spine. Some people experience it when they watch others do mundane sensory activities such as whispering, turning pages, or eating. Experiment with different videos to see if a particular type works for you.  

  • Give journaling a try

You’ve probably heard this one before, but writing down your thoughts can be a powerful way to manage anxiety and spark a more positive mindset. Research suggests you can benefit from journaling in two ways: Free write about what makes you anxious or list things you’re grateful for.

  • Do acupressure

Even if you don’t have time for an hour-long massage, you can give yourself the gift of calming touch with acupressure. The practice may help relieve anxiety and reduce pain, and it’s simple. Learn some easy-to-reach pressure points, then apply some gentle pressure and feel your body unwind. 

  • Go for a short walk outside

Physical activity — including low-impact activities such as walking — helps release pent-up energy and is a proven tool for managing stress. Up the ante by taking your movement break outside. Research shows time spent in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety. 

  • Try a breathing technique

Focus on your breath for just a few minutes to help you find some space from stressful thoughts. If you’ve tried one style of breathwork and it didn’t work for you, try another! You have plenty of styles to choose from, including belly breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, three-part breathing, box breathing, and roll breathing. Experiment with different techniques until you find one that helps you feel calmer. 

  • Practice EFT tapping

Emotional freedom technique (EFT) sometimes goes by the nickname “tapping.” Whatever you call it, the practice has gained popularity in recent years as an alternative approach for managing everything from stress to physical pain. Research indicates it can be helpful for anxiety, depression, phobias, and PTSD. The process is a little involved, but with a little practice, it becomes easy. Check out a step-by-step guide to get started

  • Listen to a 5-minute guided meditation

Meditation has become go-to health advice for good reason. It’s been shown to ease anxiety, depression, and even physical pain. If the thought of sitting with your own thoughts for five minutes makes you more anxious, consider a short, guided meditation to make the process less daunting. 

  • Repeat a mantra

Sometimes, the best way out of a spiral of anxious thoughts is to distract yourself with another thought. Mantras (which are sometimes called repetitive prayers) come in handy. The technique is simple: Just repeat a short prayer or affirming phrase such as “With every breath, I feel myself relax” either out loud or in your mind while breathing slowly and deeply. Continue until you feel calmer. 

Conclusion

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take five. Then deploy any of the techniques above. Within just a few minutes, you may find yourself feeling calmer and more equipped to tackle whatever challenges life throws at you. 

Hello January!

So, how’s your New Year kicking off? Everyone happy and as healthy as they can be? It’s been a slow start for me in the writing and writing goals department, but you know what they say about slow and steady? And I’m very familiar with being slow! My cane and I were never accused of being fast.

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Let’s see, to start off with I had a mammogram in/around October and the results were meh. I have to have another mammogram done with ultrasound of the left side. Fun times! By the way…every time I see or hear mammogram it just sounds like someone dressed as a boob should be dancing around and singing Happy Birthday to someone. I know, weird, but that’s me. Anyways, I’m not too worried about it yet- about 10-12% of women are called back after a mammogram for more tests and fewer than 1 in 10 women are actually found to have cancer after that second appointment (www.ngrmc.org). But breast cancer, however remote the possibility is still scary. I lost two friends/coworkers to it, after they both fought very long battles with it. But worrying before there’s any hard evidence seems counterproductive. Of course, when it’s 1 a.m. and I can’t sleep, try explaining that to my over active brain and anxiety.

Less stressful but more annoying has been the fierce pain in my left shoulder that makes it impossible to sleep in any other position than on my back. Also, heel pain in my left foot which has been going on for months but I’m sure y’all are familiar with self-triage. If you’re not, my definition is: when there’s so much crap going wrong with your body that you have to decide what is most important and/or life threatening and you take care of that first. I did purchase a U-pillow from Amazon that has made sleeping better. I kid you not, we have like 12 pillows on our king size bed, not including my Squishmallows and every night has been this epic game of “where do I stick this pillow, so I don’t hurt.” Not a very good game title, but you get the idea. I also play that game with ice packs.

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I am still having gut/Crohns issues. While I have a great functional gastroenterologist, who I believe really listens and wants to help, the tests she wants me to do are not covered by my insurance and at roughly $400 a pop, I can’t rationalise the expense. I mean seriously, the question becomes pay bills or take these tests. I don’t have $800 bucks lying around for tests that may or may not tell me what is going on. So, I do what many of my Spoonie brethren out there do, I ignore it until I can’t anymore and try alternative ways to alleviate symptoms or hope that there might be a different test to take. It’s really a no-win situation but I haven’t found a better alternative.

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Okay, now that I have complained, let’s look at the positives. I’m writing in my blog. Yay! Woohoo! Pats myself on the back. Seriously, it can be difficult when you have a busy life and also the weight of being chronically ill and/or in pain. Additionally, there’s always this mini-dialogue going on in my head wondering if what I am writing about is meaningful/important. Besides this, I’m steadily working on my reading challenge this month. I haven’t gotten as far along as I’d like to, but I think trying to read at night is not a good time. I’ll have to make some time in the morning or early afternoon when I am not so tired. Even if tired doesn’t mean sleepy, it means my body and mind just want to zone out and not focus on words. Not to mention my RLS is sometimes so bad I can barely watch television at times. Good times, right?

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Other good things…the fam is happy and healthy. That is definitely something to be cheery about, especially in the age of COVID. The kids are doing great. Going to school and working. Oh! I have a list of topics I’m gearing up to right about. I am hoping having a list will help keep me organised and on track. That’s about it. Thank you for having patience with me and cheers to a new, and happy year!

See you in a week or two for my post on: Cervical Health Awareness Month

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Making Halloween Spooktacular

For the kids and you when are struggling with chronic illness

What do I mean by less spooky? No, not supernatural. Less exhausting. Less plagued by anxiety. Less painful, because being in pain can really take the fun out of Halloween and give a different  meaning to Boo. And for your teens or little ones who struggle with having a chronic illness or autoimmune disorder this can be particularly challenging.

My children and I escaped the knowledge of our having chronic illness/autoimmune disorders until we were well into adulthood. I do not envy the very difficult task of keeping little ones away from the tempting sweets and artificial colours and high fructose that can often be found in candies. Children are bombarded with the talk of Halloween several weeks before hand and there’s chattering amongst them about what costumes they will wear and what they will be doing and who is going to what house for a party. I can’t fathom the stress of a parent who wants to make the day fun, special, spooky but safe for them. This difficulty increases by ten-fold when you are dealing with children.

However, it’s not just children who want to have fun on Halloween, it’s the teens and adults. Don’t worry, I have tips for everyone to make this Halloween Spook-tacular!

  • Find a Trunk-or-Treat: During trunk or treat events adults decorate the back of their cars for Halloween, load up on candy, and come sit in a parking lot for kids to “trick or treat” from car-to-car. It’s like a tail-gate with candy and costumes and the kids have an absolute blast. I’ve heard of trunk-or-treat events where kids show up by the hundreds. Parents typically have to reserve a parking lot or at least make sure they can use it for the event if it’s private property and you just hand out treats to the kids. This great for parents who struggle with chronic illness and kids who are fighting it too. For example, if your child is food sensitive, or you are doing your best to keep them from candies and store bought sweet treats, get a group of friends together with the same problems and have a trunk-or-treat with them. You know your child is safe then. This is also an easy and wise choice if your child can’t keep up with going around the neighbourhood but they still want to go out.https://www.ptotoday.com/pto-today-articles/article/6287-how-to-organize-a-trunk-or-treat
  • Pace yourself: This is for both of you. Don’t leave things for the last minute, however you decide to celebrate Halloween. Even giving yourself a week is better than leaving it until the last minute. Your body will thank you. This goes for your child too. And remember that goes for Christmas and putting up the tree on Christmas Eve. Decorating the night before might seem like a nostalgic tradition, but your body will think it’s torture and scream at you.https://www.yahoo.com/now/taking-holidays-day-day-spoonie-232047353.html
  • Stay home: If this is an option for you, make it an event. Like-wise, if this is an option for your teen or even your little one, don’t let it go by just being another day. Halloween is about the magic as well as the spookiness. Dress up in costumes, pass out candy to the kids, watch scary movies and have tasty snacks.
  • No Pressure: The best thing to do with an older child is to do your best to help them not feel pressured into doing something everyone else is doing. I know, I could feel the eye-rolling from here. But it’s easier than it sounds with Halloween than other things. Give them options. Fun options and they will be more willing to take it easy. But if they don’t, comfort them and help them use it as a learning moment.

September is Chronic Pain Awareness Month

Credit: Inktastic

Chronic Pain: is an unpleasant pain that persists for three months or longer. It is different from Acute Pain: which comes on suddenly and usually results from an injury and can be treated. Chronic Pain may be related to several different medical conditions and more often than not, cannot be cured- only managed.

The list that follows is not comprehensive by any means, but here are some medical conditions that can cause chronic pain.

Arthritis & joint problems (Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriatic arthritis, Ankylosing spondylitis)

Migraine headaches

Back pain (spine & hip issues)

Fibromyalgia

Neuropathy and other nerve-related issues

Lyme Disease

IBD (including Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis)

Endometriosis

Cancer

Postsurgical pain

Multiple Sclerosis

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Diagnosing Chronic Pain

Credit: The Blue Diamond Gallery

To be diagnosed with chronic pain you may need one of the following:

CT(computer imaging topography) is a powerful X-ray that makes detailed pictures inside your body.

MRI or magnetic resonance imaging. It uses magnets and radio waves to make pictures of organs and structures inside you.

X-ray uses radiation in low doses to make images of structures in your body.

Sometimes, it takes several doctors to diagnose chronic pain and you may have to conduct one or more of these tests several times before you receive the right diagnosis and can move on to treatment.

Treatment

As for treatment, there are many ways that doctors can tackle chronic pain to make a person more comfortable.

They may use transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or a TENs unit, applies to the affected area.

Breathing and meditation techniques.

Biofeedback

Nerve blocks

Spinal cord stimulation

Pain meds like NSAIDs, muscle relaxers, anti-depressants, anti-seizure meds, and opioids.

Surgery to treat the conditions that caused the pain.

Life with Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain may be the most challenging part after diagnosis. There may be feelings of loneliness; feelings like you are suffering alone and that there is no one out there who understands you or what you are going through. You may find that you aren’t able to keep up with chores like you once did and you either have to learn to let things go for when you are having a good pain day and can do it on your own or, you may have to enlist the help of some family members or even an outside source. Some of your friends may not understand when you have to cancel engagements because you are dealing with more pain than usual and you may end up finding who your true friends are. Work may become increasingly more difficult and you may have to consider going part-time or perhaps changing your profession, or maybe going back to school. Some days might be more painful than others; you may need a walking aid or a wheelchair and other days you may be able to go out and do your errands or gardening or even running. This does not make your pain fake or diminish it any way. Pain patients experience good days where their functional ability may fluctuate.

Life with chronic pain is difficult and you may have to adapt quite a bit during the course as things change in your life. You need to maintain hope even when things feel hopeless. There are still many things in this life to live for and many joys to be had, even while battling chronic pain. A support system is incredibly important and even though you may not be able to get out and be with people, the internet can be used for good and fill in that social gap. There are many communities across the internet, including Twitter and Instagram, where you can meet people who are in very similar situations and can understand what you are going through. Having these communities can boost your morale, give you something to live for and remind you that you aren’t alone in this world which can mean so much. Chronic pain can affect your mental health, so it is important to keep engaged and on to hope. If you find you are having difficulties and having suicidal thoughts, please contact someone you trust and let them know or reach out to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English & Spanish.

800.273.8255

If You are in the Midst of a Flare, I’m Sorry

I’m a mess right now.

My husband and I were finally able to get our Covid vaccines. I had been apprehensive about it because I already had Covid, and was worried about the side effects. Also, because I have Crohn’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Fibromyalgia, I worried my immune system would overreact to the injection.

Day 3 Post Injection? I feel like hell. It started with the Covid headache (which was very familiar to me) and blossomed into a migraine. The aches and soreness all over my body evolved to a full-on flare. My worst fears about the vaccine come to fruition.

So, this post is two-fold. 1.) No matter the side effects from the vaccine, if you are able to get it, please, please, please, get the vaccine. I know some people can’t for health reasons, but that is why it is so important for everyone else to get vaccinated. 2.) If you are currently in the midst of a flare, I know that you are suffering and I hear you. But you need to remember that you are stronger than you feel right now.

I know, it’s easy enough to tell someone they are stronger than how they might be feeling at that moment, and even if they understand what you might be going through, they are not you. But you have the strength and even if you don’t know why, you are here for a reason. I truly believe that we all serve a purpose in this universe and even though it might not be revealed to you in this life why you are here and what purpose you served, you will understand in the next. There are so many people in this world, and all of our energy touches one another, and sometimes we can touch people in a way that saves them and we may never know.

Chronic illness and pain can sap us of our strength, leaving us feeling like we don’t have anything else. It robs us of our joy and narrows our world down to grim shades of loneliness. I’ve been there and I’ve been sucked into that hollow vortex of lies that the miserable symptoms of a flare can inspire. Don’t give in. You have so much to offer this world and so much to give to other people. I know that not everyone can share in blogs, but keeping a personal diary or personal blog that is set on private can be very helpful and therapeutic. You can sometimes see when you are veering off into a place that isn’t good for your mental health when you are writing and most of all you can see the evolution of your progress when you are writing for along period of time. It’s incredibly helpful and positive to see where you started and in 6 months, see how much you have improved.

If you are in the midst of a flare, remember to take care of yourself. There’s no lazy, or hopeless, or somehow being unworthy, when it comes to taking care of yourself, taking the time to rest when you need to, not cleaning or cooking and enlisting help; don’t feel guilty for putting off that shower or taking a nap after showering, don’t listen to people who may criticize what you are doing, because if they aren’t in your shoes than they have no business telling you how you should be living your life. Don’t be sorry for doing things to take care of you. End of story. We only have one life, and in the brief time we are here we need to do things that help make us feel better. Be good to yourself.

Holding Down the Fort

Having chronic illness/chronic pain & mental illness is difficult on any normal given day. Add the stress of trying to hold the fort down while your spouse is thousands of miles away and everything is compounded. It’s never the big things that people think it might be, but the little things, the everyday things, that build up that end up tipping the scales. It’s frustrating that what can be normal stressors for most people can be overwhelming for me.
Planning a certain thing for dinner that I couldn’t end up making because I used up all my spoons cleaning, that I really didn’t anticipate doing but my body just gave out and now my plans are wrecked and I’m irrationally angry and upset about it. My kids not doing their chores the way they are supposed to, like loading up the dishes in the dishwasher so my favourite coffee mug is not clean for breakfast and my OCD rears it’s ugly head so I have a meltdown crying because now I can’t have coffee. Then, the backyard fence is falling apart; the new stove I purchased couldn’t be installed because the gas line was prehistoric and needed to be updated, come to find out our furnace gas line had to be updated too, all of this costing money we didn’t anticipate. Renovations on the house I had planned took much longer than expected- almost two weeks longer and the cleanup afterwards left me recovering for another two weeks. I had excitedly plotted out a string of projects for the house to get done while the husband was deployed, but after that first renovation project left the house demolished, I couldn’t do anymore. The idea of it stressed me out so much I couldn’t even think about it.
It wasn’t just the renovations; it was that I was very much at a disadvantage being someone who didn’t understand the trade or how it worked and not knowing if I was being taken advantage of. There is nothing more stressful, nothing that blows up my anxiety more, than situations like my stove where I have to have a serviceman come to investigate my gas line, having to rely on faith that he is telling me the truth and that I need to update the one behind the stove and the furnace or he cannot install my stove per Texas laws. Do I know Texas law regarding gas safety? Nope. It seems like the guy is trying to protect me. He even replaces the one behind my dryer for free because my husband is in the military and so is his older son and his younger son is about to go in too. But when I tell him that Home Depot forgot to order me a hood for my stove, he tells me that it’s no problem and he has plenty; he can install it no problem all he has to do is take measurements. That was almost 2 weeks ago and I’ve called and haven’t heard back from him. But it’s difficult because of my social anxiety that not even my husband understands the depths of- that even making call-backs for repairs and services can sometimes take hours or days of pre-work just so I don’t stumble over words. Then, after that, I’m drained.
It becomes much more difficult as children grow older, and still live in the home, to force them to be a family unit and want to care for one another and understand one another. The twenty-something-year-old’s, while progressive and doing much to change the world at the moment are still caught between childhood and independence and rebellion. Sisters, especially, (though I only speak from observation) want to be treated independently after a certain age and not like the younger sister next-in-line, who can’t think for herself. We’re a close family, in a small house, with two pairs of siblings sharing a room each. It’s difficult for them to get privacy. We also all deal with a variety of mental health issues, which makes it uniquely difficult to see things clearly all the time and appear like people deliberately don’t care, when that isn’t it at all. We are all just people who have a unique way of approaching various situations that may clash with one another. But I think if we can focus on the love we have for one another, we can get through anything.

Marriage and Chronic Illness

Here’s a glimpse into a marriage where there’s chronic illness eating away at what was a healthy couple’s life. I am not making a distinction as to man or woman because frankly, I’ve seen this all too many times in either gender, so I don’t think it matters. It’s not really a male or female thing. It’s an understanding thing and a communication thing. Many times, this goes down in social media. A call for help. Here it goes: Individual with Chronic Illness: Hey guys it’s me. It was a bad day and I’ve been really sick. The pain has me so I can sit up without the world spinning and making me so nauseous I vomit. If that wasn’t enough, I have a sinus infection. I haven’t been to work and it’s causing financial strain. I’ve been told to buck up. I have to move on from this pain. I can’t sleep forever and there’s things that have to be done. They are resentful of having to do everything after long days at work and also needing to keep up with children. I get this. It’s not like I want to be laying here in pain. I miss work. I miss being useful. I’ve tried getting up but vomiting on standing is a great deterrent. Still, I’ve made my decision. For the sake of my marriage and my job I am ditching my doctors and my meds and I am getting up. Mind over matter as they say. I will do this. They will be proud of me. I don’t want to lose my marriage because I am weak. Wish me luck, I will need it.

First, as many of us are in groups for chronic pain or fibromyalgia or other chronic illness, we are only getting once side and it’s easy to hit that keyboard, typing out emotionally. I’ve done it. Not too long ago as a matter-of-fact. But we may not be getting the whole story. It’s not to say our friends aren’t telling the truth, but it’s just a general fact. Like any marriage, we aren’t privy to what is happening behind closed doors and that is very much the same when it comes to social media. We only know what one person is posting. That being said, being reactionary to a problem has never worked for anyone and making someone feel guilty for being sick, when it isn’t their fault for being sick is a terrible thing to do. As every therapist has ever said, communication, communication, communication. Two people who are invested in a relationship who are dealing with something as invasive as a chronic illness, need to sit down and talk about it. Ditching doctors and medicine and pretending like it’s no longer there will not solve a damn thing. You don’t pretend like you don’t have cancer and survive it for very long and while chronic illness may not kill you outright, it will kill your relationship and your career, if you don’t learn how to deal with it in a meaningful and logical way. That means sitting down and talking to your significant other and working out how you divvy up chores. What are you able to do on a day-to-day basis that won’t leave you so exhausted that you aren’t able to function the rest of the week? What are you able to do during the weekends that will lighten your load for the week, like preparing meals ahead of time or prepping work clothes or getting things ready for the kids? There are ways to work around chronic illness with your partner if you collaborate with one another instead of work against each other.

The partner who is chronically ill may be experiencing a deterioration of the body due to illness, but you as a couple, are experiencing a deterioration of communication due to an inability to come to terms with reality. Your significant other is trying to maintain life as it was before you got sick [Before Chronic Illness], while you are trying to navigate life with your illness, coping with bad pain days that leave you unable to get out of bed [After Chronic Illness]. You’re both speaking a different language and it’s nobody’s fault, really but it is society’s fault for shouldering the blame on the chronic pain patient and saying they need to, “buck up,” and that they need to “just get over this and move on.” Did that sound too harsh? Are you thinking, “c,mon now, no one really says anything like that anymore?” They actually do. Not just loving partners to one another, but doctors to patients. I know, right?!

From The Mighty

Take a step back and remember that there’s a reason you are together. Remember that togetherness isn’t all about the good times. Sometimes it’s about looking at things differently and choosing to view it through a different lens so that what may have once seemed like a crappy deal, may now be a gift you never knew existed or a possibility that you never realized lurked behind that door. It really just depends on how you frame things and sometimes it’s not easy and it takes time to learn how to look at things differently. You can’t be upset at your partner for not catching up to your way of thinking and you have to be understanding that it may take time for them to catch up. Remember, it’s a life changing adjustment for both of you regardless who has the illness. But it is worth it in the end. You are gaining peace. You are gaining understanding of one another and you are gaining more time with each other.

True Love