The Dangers of Easy & Cheap Self-care.

I have come across an article that talks about self care that is cheap and easy. In the article, Clean your room, go for a walk, breathe. Self-care is cheap and easy. it shows how a little bit of self care can go a long way to improve your mood and well-being. It reads as a, get in touch with yourself, ground yourself in the moment and get in line with your feelings. Look at nature and take a walk. Savor the moments. Eat a good meal. Exercise. So light and breezy anyone can do it.

I heartily disagree.

The author talks about self-care and the things she picked up on during a rough patch. She talked about small mental exercises. I want to look at these points separately.

Cleaning your house is not self-care. That is being an adult. Maintaining your living space and washing your body are not self-care for a normal person. When you have someone who has a chronic illness, especially when you have dizzy spells or energy issues, then bathing would be a form of self-care because it would a task that requires a lot of effort. The author feels like she is trying to convince herself and the article seems to shift topics often. Real self-care, to quote a friend of mine with Lyme Disease, is:

Self-care for me is saving my money so that I can spend $250 on one hour of Skype with a natural doctor in Canada so that I could help my body recover from Lyme disease and lupus.
Self care for me is spending $100 a month to have someone come in and clean my bathrooms because I literally cannot physically clean my own bathrooms.
Self-care for me is actually going out and working that part-time job in that dress boutique so that I can be happier by encouraging other women to feel good. And in turn, I make a little bit of money so that I can save up to see the doctor and to have my bathrooms cleaned.
Self care for me is also the hard part of asking people to help me do things, because I can’t do them alone by myself. Or because I get overwhelmed in trying to do them by myself.

I believe that when you perpetuate the notion of self-care in a flippant, valley girl almost, way of “its so easy!” it hurts those who cannot do those basic things. I understand that this article is not directed to the people who suffer chronic/mental health issues, but it is dangerous to paint everyone with a broad brush. Making a stereotype of self-care is cheap and easy results in either people who these efforts don’t work and it becomes a bigger issue, or, if you just “did these 5 easy steps” you would have a better life. What happens when these steps fail and the judgment comes? I fear that path.

As to the second part of changing mental habits, I agree with the Psychologist in the article that when we don’t have good habits that they are replaced with bad ones. It is very easy to fall into bad habits with chronic illness. Trying to feel mentally positive when you are fighting each day to do basic things is difficult to an extreme. These changes can improve your outlook but do not changes the facts of what your body is going through.
This can also lead to a sense of looking healthy on the outside (“You are so positive and happy on the outside, you must be better”) but still be going through an immensely difficult time on the inside. People become less inclined to believe that you are actually sick. You are trying so hard to put on a face and not be the person that no one wants to be around due to your illness that it turns into a real issue when symptoms manifest themselves in a terrible way. This results in “I thought you were getting better?” or “You must be exaggerating/faking.”
I feel the dangers are real when self-care is perpetuated in such a simple fashion. Can small changes in outlooks help relieve some stress? Yes. Can everyone do such actions. No, they cannot. It is not cheap and easy to do self-care.
#hugaplushie my friends
-Dedicated to R.A.

Ring in the Holidays

I am sorry for the lapse in posts. I have had a few life events that have made it difficult to post and I hope to explain a few of those here. I hope everyone is well and I look forward to bringing you more posts with this new year. Stay Mighty and Hug a plushie everyone.

It has been an active, interesting few months for me. I have had a little time to reflect on this past year and it has been quite overwhelming. I have been faced with a brand new life as a single dad. I have found a new job, career, car, and people. Change can be good but it is difficult for someone with an invisible illness.

Change is difficult for many reasons. One of the mainstays of a routine is that you are able to plan accordingly. With an illness, you do not know when the next fibromyalgia flare up will be, if the day with lupus will give you enough energy, or if yours Crohn’s disease will give you time away from the bathroom. Having a routine allows you to be able to plan around those when you build in time or because you expect things to go poorly.

Holidays seem to complicate those times.

Last minute parties, rushing to get a gift, cleaning the house for guests all seem to through those routines off schedule and it makes it difficult to find time. It always is hard to tell someone who invited you to a last minute event “No” but we really are running on empty and we are just trying to get back in a grove. We face so many issues in the day that when something does come up, our bodies scream, “Please no more.”

I have gone and seen a new doctor in the past 2 months. My PCP had gotten a Rheumatologist recommendation and I was eager to see what help I could get. The doctor was kind and receptive and confirmed every diagnosis that I had been given. She also started me on a new medication and did quite a few tests. My routine was soon uprooted by the new medication.

Introducing a new medicine is hard on a person. The side effects, which can be many, take hold and throw your body off. You have (yet another) pill to remember to take, make sure it is taken with food or not, and what clashes with the other 6 medications you already take (at least for me). Your routine gets thrown out the window. Add in the fact that we are knee deep in the holiday season and it is a recipe for disaster.

I am however, still going strong. I have been able to make a trip with my girls across states to visit family. I have held steady at my job. I have continued on with my life. Even with this “Playing life on hard mode”, I have tried my best to keep myself leveled up to be able to continue. I encourage you all with invisible illness to not give up, the routine will come back, and it will get better. I am proud of each and every warrior that is fighting their own battles. To those who help champion us with illness, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You truly are great people.

For those who interact with the invisible illness community, take a moment and see if someone you know is doing OK this holiday season. Reach out and call or text some encouragement. Give a little leniency to someone who cannot make it out to your party or event. Remember to give the gift of grace to those who need it.

Happy Holidays and #hugaplushie my friends

 

Killing with Kindness

In recent news, there was a story that came out that I was drawn to read. It was a story about Former President Bush and Ellen DeGeneres. They were both seen sitting next to each other at a Dallas Cowboy football game. They were seen laughing and talking.

Scandalous.

The news and social media picked up on the story about how this unlikely pair could be seen in a social situation and further seen to be enjoying each other’s company. It drew so much attention that Ellen herself did a segment on her show about it. She calmly and rationally explained how she made it to the game and furthermore talked about how nice her seatmates were.

She was then condemned for speaking positively about another human.

There came an outpouring of hate for the former president and for Ellen herself. In an attempt to be kind, she was told that her being kind was wrong. She was called out and told she should not even be kind to another person because of who they are and what they have done.

Have we reached a place in society that we cannot be nice to people? I have tried hard myself not to hate or spread hate on anyone. I have gone out of my way to show kindness regardless of who was on the receiving end of said kindness. How are we supposed to make a change in people if we ourselves do not make a change? Are we a society so filled with hate, we are now barred and called out for speaking nicely about someone. How else are we supposed to change the dialogue in today’s culture and make real differences?

It makes me sad to see someone get called out for being kind. It breaks my heart to think we are now in a world that it is OK to hate someone that is guilty of being kind. I, for one, will be doing what I can to continue to be kind and when people call me out, I will be kind to them as well.

Killing with Kindness, it is the difference I can make.

#hugapony my friends

Anniversary of Stuffed Therapy.

I wanted to share a quick post. This is the 6th anniversary of this blog. I am proud to say that it has reached 35 countries and over 10,000 unique visitors. In celebration I hope to have a quick video for you all soon. Thank you all for the amazing time. I invite you to comment or share your favorite post or something that I have been able to help you with. Thank you dear readers so much. I love you all.

#hugapony everyone

Special feelings and feeling special.

Sometimes the journey is hard and life takes you in very unexpected places. The past 15 10 and even 5 years have had so many drastic changes, I can barely keep up. I look at my life and see all the people in it. I see the love and the hate. I see the joys and the sorrows. I see the ones who were born and the ones who have left us.

Life has changed so much.

The one thing that hasnt changed change is my love for you, all of you. If you are on my time life or if someone shares this and we barely know each other, I love you. I try my best to love all the people. It keeps me going, knowing I can do that and I want to do that. I do it with small acts of kindness and in the little things. Saying hello, asking a cashier how their day is, thanking people who respond in turn. What a difference it can make in someone’s day.

You have this power to change others attitudes and outlooks.

I believe in you all and you are all very special to me. And some of my favorite words from one of my favorite people, “you are special, just the way you are.” -Mr Rogers.

Take some time to be nice and kind to someone today. Do it again tomorrow. Then add a 2nd person. And another and another. You and I cannot change the world. We can only change ourselves. But by doing that, maybe, just maybe, we can make a difference.

Hug a pony my friends.

Crying for help.

In the wake of the national tragedies that have been sweeping the nation these past days, the subject of mental health has come back to the surface. These terrible acts are committed by cowards, as we are told about how they cried out for help but were denied. They were shown the door too many times and the mental health professionals were unable to treat them. We collectively are at fault for not understanding.

I am tired of it.

Why is it the debate only comes up in a tragedy? Why is it that we are unable to show the care and affection that is needed in the moment and not after the fact? How can there be this much failure from so many people? Is it because we are not listening in the moments that matter? Are we not judging so many people that try and get help? I have seen too many people bullied for seeking the help that they need and it is not even second guessed. We have failed as a society twice.

First, we deny or attack those who need our help. Would you slap a child’s hand away from the railing as it struggled to stand up? Would you deny a diabetic who needs their insulin? Would you attack the person missing the leg that they don’t need the crutch and just need to suck it up and learn how to walk like the rest of us? How terrible it is that we do this to those who need help in their darkest times. When we tell the mom who needs an antidepressant, because she can’t understand why she can’t be happy with 2 kids, that she is failing as a mom. We look at the teen who cannot concentrate, because the neurons in the brain are firing too much, that he just is a lazy child who will be worthless. When someone needs therapy, the whole room gasps in shock and horror. Everyone whispers to themselves in secret at how horrible that person must be. The is the social normalcy we have created. We do not accept our failure as a society that has created this innate fear of speaking up that you need help.

Second, we blindly deny judgment that we could have done something to help them. We blame anything else, objects, movies, video games, technology, generational gaps, lack of family structure.  Has perfectionism reach this highest level that if you don’t get the perfect SAT score, ace that university exam, get the best paying job, it is just not worth living this life, or even I need to bring everything else down because that is all I have left. Anything less than perfection is not accepted. We blame politics and groups of people and everything else. The first part about fixing a problem is admitting we have a problem. However, everyone needs to admit that we are all at fault. Instead we are stuck shifting the blames from one another in an attempt to make ourselves not feel guilty.

Too much hurt has been caused in this environment that we live in. Accountability is at an all time low. Yours, mine, everyone. We need to make a change. Sometimes it can be a small act of kindness. Maybe you turn the other cheek and not say that snarky comeback. What are you doing to break the chain?

#hugapony my friends

Tumbling through the Fog

There has been an amazing amount of activities going in in my brain lately.  Few things fascinate me as much as the human brain does. It regulates the body and all the functions. It makes sure to self protect from danger. It creates entire worlds in an imagination. It runs 24 hours a day, everyday for our entire lives. The brain is truly an incredible thing. But, as much as we don’t want to believe as a society, it can be sick.

Its easy to spot the sick brain when it has cancer, the skull is cracked, or if there is a hemorrhage. These are readily identified and show the causes as such. Treatments are fairly known and while it is terrible when these things happen, it is clear what is the problem When it comes to mental health, it becomes much more murky.

The few tests done are for chemical imbalances. It shows the nutrients and lacking minerals in the body, blood sugars, and toxin screenings. The next one goes through the history of your mental health, changes shown, what is being down to help. We are listed as a Risk/Non-risk to ourselves and we are shuffled on to the next set of testing.

This endless cycle of not knowing, being criticized by friends, family, and even the doctors themselves. It becomes almost unbearable. Going day in and day out fighting your own brain and having to argue with yourself that you do matter, and that there is something wrong with you. You have to convince yourself that, Yes you are sick and you need help. This constant wear strains the already weary brain.

Now we add in a physical illness. Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, or Crohn’s decease. Illnesses that are not an immediate threat but cause all kinds of havoc in the daily lives of sufferers. Lack of sleep, fighting pain and nerve medications, and the conditions themselves slowing and sometimes stopping us in our tracks. I have used over half my vacation time for sick time this last year. It wears through you at a steady rate and shows the problems that are evident in your body.

All these things make up for a depressive episode. Times when reason and rational go out the window and show that even when you are intelligent and even aware of all the answers and conditions, you still stumble and cannot make your brain see that it is wrong. You spiral down the drain and you argue with yourself 10 times over more than you usually do in an attempt to find peace. It is this peace that you seek. A peace that is the calm center in this hurricane.

It takes every bit of effort and help to find it.

And, like a hurricane, when you find this peace in the eye of the storm, you brace for the back half of the storm. You see the storm clouds, you feel the winds and you cringe as you know how much it is going to hurt. This is were I am at today. I have been through the wringer and am just trying to catch my breath. I feel the second half about to hit.

I am extremely grateful for those kind people who have helped me through this time. My life has been in pure turmoil for the last year. I have struggled and fought for each and every inch I have gained in my life. I have been finding my way through this fog and have done well from the outside. Inside, I am not sure if I have done enough to recover/

I will continue to fight and write and tell my store of how I feel and what it is like for you to read. I will continue to fight my brain and try to find the peace in my head to be able to relax. I hope, pray, and beg that I will be taken seriously. I will continue to buy and give away stuffed animals and plushies to help others and myself.

#hugaplushie my friends

Milestone and misses

I was not able to keep my promise of posting on the 15th. I want to apologize to my readers as i usually have posts in reserve to cover the times of the month on the 1st and the 15th when I post. However, I have had my wonderful family in town and between that and the next paragraph, I missed it.

On the milestone side of things, I have now been published for the 15th time on The Mighty.com. This article is still young but is going strong with over 5k likes! It has also been featured multiple times on the Mighty Facebook. I have done my best to answer and respond to everyone’s comments. Thank you all for reading. A link to the article is below. I hope to see you there.

I Am Tired of Being Judged for Using Opioids to Manage My Pain

I love you all and thank you all for your support!

#hugaplushie my friends!

Power on

It takes an amazing amount of energy and work to get through the day. Speaking for myself, I know that it takes a lot to get out of bed, shower, work, clean, spend time with my girls, and then try not to collapse into bed too soon. Somewhere in there I have to find time to eat and write. It takes a lot to be me.

And I do it with a chronic illness.

Having a chronic illness makes everything you do seem like you are doing it with a large animal strapped to your back, holding you down on a good day and on a bad day, it is trying to drag you the opposite direction. You walk through what feels like jello, it takes an hour or two to wake up with your body hurting so much, and you fight to hold thoughts in your head through the brain fog. If you take medicine for this you are also judged, weighed, and told how it is just a crutch to make you feel better.

All this for me is made harder in that I am socially awkward. Being an introvert makes it socially draining on me to be around other people. Just talking and interacting with people takes a toll. I take my issue a step further by helping others and providing advise to those who ask. I stop and listen to see what is needed and just to let others talk. I take extra time to ask people about their day and to see what I can do for them.

Why do I do this despite the fact I deal with so much from my illness?

Because we have to be better and overcome our issues. Everyone has them. We all have things holding us back. Be it physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise, we have issues that cause us to not be the best we can be. Our problems are not the issue. It is our attitude. Sitting down and throwing a pity party will not fix things. Getting up, giving it a 100% even in the times we know that we might not win. Just because we don’t like it doesn’t change the fact that we have the power to change our viewpoint on it.

I know what I have been through in both this last year personally and over the past five years with my illness. I have seen the hardships it has caused and the problems to come. I have seen where it has gotten the best of me. However, I do see where I did not let it hold me back. I have seen the problems I have overcome by continuing on my path even when it got hard. I made the decisions that needed to be made and followed through on them. Just because life has gotten tougher does not mean you give up.

I have learned in the hardest ways that I am not perfect. It has not stopped me from trying. Some days are going to be rough and get the better of you. It will happen. You have to decide what to do with the days that does not happen.

What do you do when you have a good day?

Keep powering on and #hugaplushie my friends

Depression vs One good day

Depression is a constant thing. It wraps around you like a cloak. It is an unwanted house guest that you cant get to leave. You are made constantly aware of it when you wake up in the morning and you never forget it when you lay down for the evening. It is not something that is gotten rid of because of a mood change.

Most people are surprised at finding out people that we thought were the happiest are actually depressed. Seeing people who are smiling the most or acting the happiest who suddenly have an episode shocks and scares people. One of the many problems facing people who are suffering from depression is the lack of recognition of the signs. Having someone who has to help everyone else through the hardest times because they know how hard it is to be going through.

Being depressed is not mood or attitude, it is a condition. Telling someone to be happy or to do something fun will not help the person in the long run. “Living life for you!” or any of the thousand pick me ups that can be said will not change the underlying issue that could be causing this bout of depression.

However, people who have depression can have good moments, days and even longer periods of time. It is odd or hard to see someone who goes through awful times and then manages to find happiness in a book they haven’t read in years. They can go to beach and have a wonderful day with many pleasant memories. They are allowed good days.

The ridicule from those good days often makes things worse.

In being told that we are not really depressed if we can have a good day illegitimatizes what is being experienced. This false narrative that we do not know what is happening in our own bodies and mind, teaches us that we do not know what we should feel and furthermore makes us fulled with guilt from being allowed a good day. Only imagine, after having found the energy to go and experience something happy and fun to be told we should never have felt bad in the first place and if we really were depressed, we should feel guilty about making others feel bad.

We wonder why we have a mental health crisis in today’s world.

You can be depressed and go to Disney world. You can have depression and enjoy food or movies. That doesn’t cure it but we are allowed to be happy. Helping people understand that instant cures do not exist and that just because we are smiling doesn’t mean we are not still hurting. Having a happy moment doesn’t stop the chemical imbalance that is present in our bodies and minds. Laughing with a puppy does not cure the years of mental and physical abuse that has been done to someone. Please stop judging people on one good day.