Dear Bipolar Disorder, How Are You Doing?

Dear BP,

Hi, how are you? How have you been? I’ll admit I’m a little
nervous writing to you because I don’t want you to think I’m asking to see you.
And I don’t want you to think about me and decide to visit. I’m just not ready
to be around you. But I did want to check in with you since you’ve been
relatively quiet lately. If you recall, it’s been about six months since we
spoke. Well formally anyway. I see your posts online from time to time but I
never comment. I think we were last together at the hospital, right? That
particular stay was a doozy! I hope I never go back. Remember that one girl who
kept attacking everybody and calling us names? That was so wild.
So Ziprasidone and I are pretty friendly
these days. I know how you guys feel about him, which is also why I’m staying
away. But he’s good for me. I do miss our old friends though. How’s Elevated Mood doing? I hear she might be coming to town
soon. I know she always heads this way in the spring for an extended visit. Ooh,
maybe she’ll get to see the cherry blossoms this time. Tell her I said ‘hi’ if
you talk to her. Out of everybody, I miss her the most. She can be a lot to
take, but she doesn’t mean any harm. She just has a ton of energy. We always
have fun when we’re with each other. I wouldn’t mind getting together with her
for old time’s sake.

Hey, you know who I’ve been thinking about? Impulsivity. Man, we
used to get into so much trouble back in the day! I’m so glad I’ve learned to
love him from afar. But sometimes I like to reminisce about the things we used
to do. If nothing else, to remind me what life used to be like before my health
got better. Do you remember when he and I went to get matching tattoos?
Goodness, it was like we couldn’t help ourselves. We just had to do it and
nothing would deter us. I was shaking so much in the chair from all my nervous
energy that the tattoo artist got upset. He said if I couldn’t’ sit still, he
wouldn’t continue. Imp just laughed at me.
Afterwards I felt so ridiculous. And by then, Imp was nowhere to
be found, as usual. I was embarrassed I’d let him talk me into getting the
tattoo. What bothers me is I’m not even supposed to have those. It’s against my
religion. But as soon as Imp started hyping up the idea, I couldn’t say no. And
it came up out of the blue, so suddenly too. We didn’t think about the
consequences or wonder if we’d regret doing it. This didn’t occur to either of
us. All that mattered was getting that ink. To be honest, we’d been hanging out
with that guy Compulsion too often back then, and we let him influence our
choices. I think both Imp and I are pretty suggestible, if you ask me.

Oh my gosh, do you know what I did the other day? I decided to
create a gratitude journal to remind myself of all the good things in my life
that I’m grateful for. Oh BP, it’s been such a help. Every day I write about
the things that make me happy and what I appreciate. You know they always
taught us to do this whenever we’d go to the hospital. Well I finally got
around to it. You should try it sometime. You’d love it!  And maybe it will give
you a better outlook on life.
Guess who I’ve been chatting with lately? Insomnia! Can you
believe it? I know we used to hate each other. But we’ve since reconciled and
we’re spending almost every night together. We laugh and carry on like two
little old ladies. Her jokes about not sleeping are too funny. And she still
loves to play pranks on me in the middle of the night, as much as she always
did. That Insomnia is such a card! We really have to stop meeting up though, or
I’ll get sick again. You know how that goes.

So I have to know, how’s BPD doing these days? Do you see her
often? Has she gotten herself together yet? Last I heard she was ruining yet
another relationship. I’m sorry to say it but I hope I never interact with her
again. She and I do not get along.
She makes me so mad, I can’t stand it. And we always bring out the worst in
each other. It’s always all or nothing with us. Things are either great or
horrible. There is no in between, it’s awful. She’s just not a good influence
for me so I try to avoid her at all costs. And if you remember, I had to go to
therapy partly because of her. I’m still salty about that. I’m not trying to shift
blame or anything, but I can’t help thinking that if I’d never met her, my life
would’ve been much less stressful and anxiety ridden.

Speaking of my cousin Anx, did you hear she had a baby? Yeah,
she named her OCD. I’m not one to criticize name choices, but OCD? Ok, I have so
many questions. Don’t tell my cuz 😉 But why that name? What does it even mean?
That kid’s going to have a tough time in life with a name like that. Why OCD? Is
it a family name? Is it symbolic in some way? I keep saying it over and over,
letting it roll around on my tongue so I can get used to it. It just makes me
feel so prickly inside when I say it. But I can’t stop. I’ve repeated it about
500 times now. OCD. OCD. Nope, I still can’t get used to it. It sounds strange
in my head, like an echo and a hollow tinny sound all at the same time. Oh wait;
I’m getting fixated again. Don’t mind me. You know I do this sometimes. It’s
gotten better, but I still slip now and then. My brother Buspirone has been
helping me overcome it. He’s been such a blessing. He has his moments, like
everybody, but overall I’ve loved having him around. I wish I had told him
sooner that I needed his help.

You know, Depression has been on my mind a lot lately. I can’t help thinking
about him and wondering if he’ll ever get better. He just seems so lost
sometimes. It’s like he lives in his own dark world where no one can reach him.
I feel so badly for him. He brings everyone down with his misery, negative
outlook and detachment, and he doesn’t even realize it. He’s a good guy, just
misunderstood I think.
I guess you heard that Anger and I made up a few weeks ago. We
decided to part ways for good, but in doing so I think we’ve reached an
understanding. I’m so happy about it. I
think he realized how he much he was hurting me and knew why we couldn’t see
each other anymore. It’s really for the best. I sometimes get scared that I won’t
find anybody else, but I’m trying to be patient. I don’t want to go back to him
just because I’m lonely. It’s hard though. Being alone I mean. I can’t shake
the fact that I’ll die by myself, with nobody there to notice. That thought
bothers me all the time. People say ‘just be positive’. But even in doing so, I
haven’t found anybody else that understood me like Ang did. A friend of mine
always counsels me to accept things as they are and to look forward to better
times. You know that girl Patience? The one everybody always talks about? Well
she’s his best friend. I guess that’s why he’s always so calm and collected. Maybe
I should meet her someday. She sounds lovely.

I’m not even going to ask about Grandiosity. He annoys me to no
end. Always thinking he’s better than everybody and deciding he can do whatever
he wants. He seems to think the world revolves around him. That guy is so obnoxious. And he makes me look bad
when he’s around. I get sucked into his schemes and plans, and I forget who I
am. But his presence is so intoxicating. You know how he is; charismatic and
charming…until he completely alienates everybody with his over inflated sense
of self. I’m sure I’ll run into him again soon. It’s inevitable.

Oh wow, I just realized this whole letter has been one big
gossip session. Hey, maybe we both needed that. Anyway, I hope you’re doing
well, BP. I don’t hate you or anything, but I need some space. I hope you can
accept that. I know we’ll always be in each other’s lives. I just think it’s
best if we limit our time together. Take care of yourself.


Full Source:

What Goes Through My Mind When You Don’t Reply Right Away

I would like to submit the following story from my blog. The original can be found here:
Thankyou :)

When I communicate with people I am most likely to do so by text message, Facebook messenger or email. I am much better with written communication as discussed in my post telephonophobia.

It’s weird though because if I don’t get a reply to my message within whatever my brain decided is a reasonable amount of time I start to get anxious about it. This is worse when you know the person has read you message with the little notification Facebook gives you.


I start to wonder why there was no answer. I start thinking that maybe I said something wrong, or annoying, or they have misunderstood what I said because you can’t read tone in a written message. They must not like me anymore or they can’t be bothered with me. I’m irritating people by sending them messages about things they aren’t interested in. Maybe they just don’t want to talk to me.

Logically I know the person is probably just busy and doesn’t have time to reply right now but will probably do so later. Logically I know that they probably don’t hate me for sending them a message. Logically I know that I shouldn’t be sitting here looking at my screen waiting for the reply to come in a minute, I know they will reply when they can. But all this logic doesn’t stop the ‘what if’s’ rolling through my brain.

Then when I do get a reply something strange happens. I start thinking that if I answer too quickly  I will seem too needy and desperate. If I’m having a longer conversation, say with my Mum for example, that’s OK to reply instantly, but if it’s just something short that I’m discussing with a friend then I don’t know what to do. What is the optimal amount of time to let pass before replying so they don’t think I’m weird? Sometimes I make myself wait five minutes before answering a message, sometimes a couple of days before answering an email. I know I’m overthinking all this but I can’t help it.

I also don’t like it when there is no definite ending to a text conversation. No ‘goodbye’ or ‘talk to you later’. I am left wondering if that was it or if I’m supposed to say something else. What if they are sitting at the other end waiting for something and I don’t know?

I wonder sometimes if this is related to my social anxiety or whether this is something else.

Full Source:

The Hardships of Intimacy and Pregnancy With Fibromyalgia

I generally steer away from these topics. Frankly, it’s because it’s very hard to admit that since my car accident and diagnosis of Fibro, CFS and Sjogren’s, physical intimacy has been put on the back burner in my marriage. What’s even harder to digest is that my diagnosis happened just a few months after my husband and I were married, in our prime.

It’s taken years for me to get to the point I am at now. Physical and occupational therapy, the right rheumatologist, acupuncture and eating 80% vegan have all led to me to be what I consider to be a high functioning Fibro warrior. Though at some point in every day, the Fibro wins. This is usually in the evening after a 8-12 hour work day. And the weekends are for resting- period- so you can imagine that date nights and romantic evenings are rare and for the most part, out the window.

This leads to several areas of despair. First, who wants to be intimate when every part of your body is screaming in pain and the clothes on your skin feel like they’re made of porcupine? Second, the exhaustion with CFS is overwhelming. It’s like staying awake for three straight days and you’re expected to operate heavy machinery. And finally, from my husband’s perspective, his only goal at the end of the day is to try and make me as comfortable as possible. Intimacy is not in the forefront.

It’s complicated

With intimacy comes the topic of children. Growing up, I never dreamed of having children. But after I fell in love and got engaged to my husband, everything changed. I wanted a baby with this incredible man. I wanted to experience him being the amazing father that I knew he would be. The image of a mini-me of my husband and me running around the house sealed the deal – we were going to have a baby.

Unfortunately, I received my diagnoses in my prime baby-making years. My body was out of control, I was extremely weak and plagued with fatigue 24/7. We had no choice but to lay our biggest-little dream aside. At least for a while.

Seven years later (just two years ago), when I felt much stronger and was coping better with the madness of Fibro, CFS and Sjogren’s, we decided to start trying. We were so excited! I smiled at the thought of having an ultrasound for a reason other than my Chronic Pain.

We played by the rules

We immediately sought the help of a fertility doctor. Now, let me explain this process. You go to the doctor several times during your cycle and ovulation so they can figure out if you have any issues with fertility. Each time, there is an ultrasound and blood taken. OK, pause. For us spoonies, at this point the day should be over. Our spoons are all spent. Problem is, those appointments were at seven in the morning. Instead of clocking out, my husband drove my broken body to work to clock in for a full work day.

Subsequently we found out that my tubes weren’t open, requiring full blown surgery to open those babies up. This required many additional medications and a catheter in my body for five days after the surgery. Can you imagine the havoc that ensued in my body on top of all my other conditions? OK, on to some good news. The surgery is a success and my tubes are open, now it’s baby makin time!

Wait… I feel like I’m forgetting something… ahhhh, yes… that darn 8-12 hour workday… that changes everything. Even before I get home, my spoons are all used up and all I can do is slip into something more comfortable (my jammies), turn up the heat (on my compression boots), and have my way with a bag of M&M’s. Romance didn’t stand a chance.

Eventually, we moved to IVF. Night after night, my husband would inject me with hormones on top of additional medication. During this time, I could not use my Fibro meds. *Horrified emoji!* See where I’m going with this?

We did become pregnant only for my body to reject it at seven weeks. At this point, I was physically and emotionally spent, and so was my husband. We decided to take a few months off to handle my Fibro that was spiraling out of control from a year’s worth of poking and prodding.

Could we and should we are very different things.

At the end of a six month break, my body was strong enough to start trying again. It was then that I thought, wait, could I actually start all of this over again? After many (many) conversations and reality checks on what my body could and couldn’t do, we made the choice not to try again for our mini-me. I can tell you that this was not a decision we made lightly. We’ve considered other avenues to growing our family, but where we stand now is in a place of acceptance. We’ve cut the cord to our baby dreams.

This is one of the hardest things we’ve had to swallow about life with Chronic Pain. There’s no way to mend the heartbreak my husband and I will always feel about this. If there’s a silver lining in our story, it’s that I know this doesn’t make my husband love me any less, in fact it’s brought us even closer.

I’m sharing this with you so you know you’ve got a warrior standing with you and standing for you. With the majority of the 100 million Americans with Chronic Pain being women, there is no shortage of amazing support groups that will welcome you with open arms. If you have been down a road similar to this, please know that you are not alone and most importantly, it’s not your fault.

Full Source:

A ‘Pep Talk’ From an Eating Disorder Survivor

I often get asked the question:

“How do you find recovery? or

“How do you finally reach a place of safe rest and reflection?”

As Jenni Schaefer would say, “Recovery is like a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces are different for everyone.”

While the pieces of the puzzle do vary for each individual circumstance, the bottom line is you have to want it. Strong recovery is a choice which occurs deeply and internally, and stable living cannot be attained through force alone. It has to be a personal decision as a result of a new perspective, mental breakthroughs, and personal emotional commitment and maturity. It isn’t a smooth road either…yet each stumbling block has the potential of creating an even stronger soldier. Such individuals like myself already have the type A personality…we are already intrinsically motivated and extremely determined. It’s just a matter of shuttling this drive into a positive energy towards healing.

There will be fear of losing that control—that security blanket of meticulously counting, measuring, recording and obsessing. We get so trapped and convinced that we cannot exist without it—that we will always be different, and always have to be alert so the evil voice won’t creep back in. In a way, we let this feed us. Deep down we want an escape, but for so long this has been “comfortable” —a sense of grip over our constant climb while trying to keep up in this world.

If you want to gain the trust and respect and self control over your own life again you have to be adamant about true recovery, and outwardly show your serious effort to change in order to regain your friends’ and family’s trust. Even with my respectful degree in Exercise Science, my family probably feared that I would use this new knowledge in the wrong ways. Despite popular belief, this knowledge assisted in extensive intellectual understanding about what exactly was taking place inside my frail body, and everything else associated with the illness from a physiological standpoint. Today, I use this knowledge to my own health advantage, seeking opportunities to apply the practical information to myself and to others. And I’m
still learning. But that is the glory of becoming one with yourself…it makes you feel so alive. 

With that said, I’d like to offer a little pep talk—(the inner coach in me can’t help herself 😉 )
Below is a message directed to anyone who feels this sense of trapped identity and confusion. May this huddle empower you to take a stand, on behalf of yourself, or on behalf of a life you care about:

~A message from your Coach…

“Instead of viewing this step towards healing as relinquishing the sense of control that you have idolized for so long, redirect your perspective to a control GAINED. By surrendering your old strangling ways and obsessive habits, you gain a brand new freedom, and a brand new peace. Break free of the shackles of restriction and lies of stagnancy. You were born a free spirit with influencing outside circumstances. Everyone deals with the same stressors differently, which determines the prognosis of our unique journeys.

Your identity does not lie within your eating disorder.
Yes, it is a part of who you are, and contributes to your story, but only to reveal just how far you’ve come with your newly acquired strength. In the beginning, self discipline and desire for control simply got out of hand. Take back your life with this same discipline and desire. Don’t let this disease control you. By remaining enslaved to the familiar behaviors, you are simply fueling the fire for disaster.

You have to forgive yourself in order to love yourself. You have to stop making excuses for your suffering. You must stop trying to convince yourself that you were meant to suffer and that you don’t deserve to be well. You must preach to yourself the truth that your suppressed spirit knows so well…while trapped behind your ED voice, you are not truly well.

Once you admit you do want to get better, you then have to allow yourself to get better. You must be patient with yourself, and allow your body to figure itself out, piece by piece. You have to spiritually realize that God did not create you with the intention of living a life of pain—He created you with purpose. You must conceptually come to terms with the fact that it is ok to be ok”…it is ok for you to be healthy, and it is ok for you to be happy.

No more feeling guilty about the past, and no more feeling guilty when you give your body the quality care that it needs to survive. Enough of this “But I’m different”  business—everyone is unique in their needs, including you—but this doesn’t mean a life of deprivation, isolation, and slavery. I believe that God envisioned you in your best version when He formed you in his hands. He had wonderful intentions and dreams for you—so much that He saved you, and placed this book in front of your tired face. God wants to be your center. He wants all of you, including the piece of your heart which was deceived so long ago. Give Him all of your guilty filth. Give Him all of your secret thoughts. Surrender to Him all of your mess-ups and give-ups. Present to Him all of your shameful fears and regretful tears.

The truth is, you are already forgiven, my friend. Live with the knowledge of this truth. The past is written, but the next pages are clean. It’s time to forgive yourself. It’s time to free yourself. It’s time to love yourself, and to love yourself without feeling selfish about it.

Consider for a moment who or what it is that you worship. Don’t grant evil rules and fretful lies more attention than they deserve. Instead, direct your attention to the one sustaining source of life, who has stuck it out through it all. It’s time to get better…truly better; selflessly better; holistically better. It’s time to draw near, reach inside and march out victoriously while lifting up your roughly-beaten soul. It’s time to reverse the curse, grab the reins, and believe in a better tomorrow. Though scars may be lingering, nestled within them lie badges of courage. The fears of change are minuscule compared to the joys of recovery. I promise…

Your identity is not tied to the strings of your past. In untying your knots to the present, hope is set free. Reciprocating through the doors of faith, new life will return.

Imagine a meal with no regrets. A family dinner without fighting. An evening run with powerful strides, a smile that reflects a healthy glow. Laughing with pure joy…engaging with real intention…living in harmonic peace. A freedom which surpasses all understanding, and a new chapter to your survivor  story.

Together, we are strong. Together, we are survivor strong.”

Full Source:

How I Power Through the ‘Rain Pain’

I don’t know about you guys but if there’s
anything I hate more than the day-to-day pains of chronic illness, it’s what I
like to call “the rain pains”. Many people don’t realize the effect that the
weather can have on a pain condition, but boy when it strikes, it strikes
strong and hard like lightnin’. (See what I did there?)

Let’s start with the science of it all. There are several factors that go into
the connection of weather pressure and pain. Now I use the words weather pressure for
a reason. While scientists have yet to pin-point a direct connection between
pain and the weather, most theories aim not at the precipitation itself, but at
the drop in barometric pressure. This means that
our elevated symptoms do not stem from the rain or snow, etc., but from the
drop in the weight of pressure in the atmosphere surrounding us. I’m no
scientist, in fact it’s a miracle I even passed science in school, so if you’re
looking for more information, I found this online article to
be pretty enlightening.

Now that we’ve gotten our homework out of the way, I thought I would share some
ways that I plan on getting through today’s “rain pain”

1)  Dress comfortably
– I’m very blessed that I work in a casual
office. Now typically I do my best to be as business casual as possible but
today was a leggings and Victoria’s Secret sweatshirt kind of day. Layers,
layers, layers.
 Who knows what kind of hot flashes or chills will
strike throughout the day, so stack those layers on, take a few off, whatever
you have to do to keep yourself comfortable. (But take it easy with the “taking
layers off” part, you don’t have the time nor patience on a rain pain day to
deal with HR.

2)  Tea, tea, tea 
– Teavana has a tea called “Rejuvenate”. This blend has been a game changer
for me on days when I’m having a tough time staying focused. I also benefit
greatly from green tea, ginger tea, and chai tea – though chai tea serves as
more of a comfort tea than medicinal. I just love those spices.

3)  Don’t
strain yourself ­– 
If you’re feeling like you want to get things done despite the
pain today, that’s fine, however, pace yourself. Set distinct
goals and let yourself accomplish what you can with the energy you have. If it
can wait, let it.

4)  Try to move
 – I know, I know, the stiffness and pain
seems unbearable, but moving your tired and aching muscles can be beneficial to
you in the long run. Even if all you do today is move from your bed to your
couch and back again, you’ve moved. My mission at work today
is to get up from this desk as many times as possible despite my pain and
fatigue, even if it’s just to grab papers from the printer or fetch the mail.
(And, on the days when my pain and stiffness is at its worse, I drag my butt to
Zumba class anyway. Sounds crazy, right? But actually, once I get through the
first few songs, moving and dancing actually releases the tension and stiffness
in my body, and I sleep better that night than I would have if I stayed home)

5)  Rest – “But Katelyn I don’t have time to rest; I have
work, the kids have extracurriculars, I have appointments, we need groceries”
—  Hold it, warrior. There is always time
to rest. This may not mean a full 90-minute nap, as glorious as that may sound
right now, the focus is to rest your mind when you cannot rest your body. Put
on your favorite music while you’re driving around, listen to an audiobook (yes
they still have those), take 5 minutes in the car to do some quick breathing
 to calm your mind and body. Find something. Anything.
Make that your rest.

My final piece of advice to you all on “rain pain” days is
this – remember how strong you are. You are a warrior!
You are mighty! Your success rate of surviving bad weather days in
the past is 100%. That’s impressive! Keep your head up, snuggle in, and weather
this storm like the mighty warrior that you are. Now, I was going to post some
cheesy quote about how rainbows come after storms, but man that’s nauseating.
So instead I’ll share a personal story with you all. The last time we had a
severe rainstorm, I had just pulled in my driveway from Zumba. I was sore,
tired, and man was I cranky. BUT, my favorite song came on Pandora, I happened
to be wearing a shirt that said “FIGHTER”, and I decided,
“ah heck, life’s too short”, and I spent 30min in my front yard
dancing in the rain. I can’t even begin to tell you all how liberating that
experience was for me – plus, I’m sure my neighbors got a good laugh out
of it, too, so it’s a win-win.

I believe in you, I know you’re going to get through this, and if you need
someone to help you through this thing called life, I’m here 24/7 (because it’s
raining and Lord knows I ain’t gettin’ any sleep tonight 😉 )



Full Source:

When Chronic Illness and Anxiety Go Hand in Hand During the Holidays

If you believe the majority of Facebook posts, greeting cards and annual newsletters, then you believe that the holidays are a time of unadulterated joy, peace and merriment. They are a time to connect with loved ones, to eat and drink too much, and to fill our love tanks to overflowing. That all these good things leave us recharged with enough love and energy to launch us well into the new year, a fresh start, and a clean slate.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that these things don’t exist, for I have experienced many of them and I know that most of my personal friends genuinely do too… at one level or another.

But I also know that for a huge chunk of them, through this holiday period, there are more triggers than Christmas lights, more forced or lost interactions than loving or warm ones, more work than pleasure, more heartache than joy. I also know that in the name of not wanting to spoil the mood or fun of everyone else, they put on their “happy masks”, hide their fears, speak nothing of their anxieties and pretend to be “just like everyone else”. And those are just my healthy friends.

In the chronic illness community I have spent more of my encouragement energy the past few weeks on this than any other topic. Anxiety often goes hand in hand with chronic illness and the lethal cocktail of high happiness expectations, financial commitments, energy sapping activities…. with low spoons, tons of triggers, large crowds, more and more hype each year than the one before, and no wonder the words that I hear more than any others, are anxiety, panic, and worry.

The holidays aren’t over yet and I wonder where all the “self care” that I kept hearing about this year went… Self-care has been a totally new concept to me and I went into December with no intentions of giving any of it up, at a time when I knew that I would actually need it the most. So why do I feel somewhat like the last soldier standing? Why have some of the strongest chronic fighters I know crumbled? I believe that it is because society is not yet ready to let us be vulnerable at this time when we are supposed to be nothing but both thankful and merry.

I know that people are all trying to do their best, but the reality is that we still live in a world where it is not cool to say no at a time like this. We can be sore and sick and struggle the rest of the year, but at this time we are all expected to put aside our illnesses, forget about our traumas, pack away the fallout of our abuse or neglect. No one wants to know about our grief or our losses. No one wants to see our open wounds or the scabs that are barely beginning to heal.

At this, the most anxious time of all for so many people, when we need extra love, support and care, we often get it the least. Anxiety is soaring right now and the holidays aren’t over yet… Give yourself that self care that you taught me this year guys, I know you need it :)

Full Source:

Sexuality and disability

Many students with disabilities have been told they will never be able to have a relationship or engage in sexual activity.  Other students have been told they will not be a good match for relationships or they have “more important things to think about” other than sex.  Sometimes students have been told they should feel “lucky if someone wants them” or they are not capable of being a sexual being.  Other students have histories of frustrating interactions and/or relationships with others and don’t feel as though they are in control of how their disability affects their experiences.