Painful past, painfree future?

February 9th, 2018

It was an innocent question. One that most people could probably answer without thinking too hard. The intention behind the question was good, in fact, it was to be helpful.

When was the last time you felt healthy for a period of at least 2 years?

I sat in silence. I thought about it and a wave of depression overwhelmed me. For all of my adult life I have been unhealthy. There was a very brief few months when I was doing well when I hit my goal weight and I thought things were going well but things quickly took a turn and my body couldn’t maintain it. In fact I got worse after that for a while.

When I finally answered I was honest and said that I can’t recall a time that I was healthy for 2 years, at least not as a an adult. I was met with an even sadder realization – I was told that that’s not normal. That most people live in a normal healthy state or can at least recall a period of their life when they were healthy.

Ever since that day when that conversation took place I try to imagine what life would be like if I were healthy. What it would mean to wake up without pain, to have the energy to do what’s needed for my day, to not cope with depression and anxiety and to not worry about medical bills for all the issues I face. I would give anything for one day free of all of those things. I can’t imagine a period of 2 years living that way.

Today I went for a walk. It was difficult. Every step was painful. It was a pain that won’t go away. I will live with this pain for the rest of my life. I’ve been told so by countless doctors. I’m only 38. As I walked today I wondered what that means. That if I’m limping in pain at 38 what will this pain look like at 48, 58 or 68. If it’s already limiting my mobility and there’s nothing the dr can do to fix it, what hope can there be for my future. What hope can there be for a healthy future?

While I’d like to think that there’s a healthy future ahead for me, but it’s so hard to imagine when the facts are what they are. It’s hard to imagine when all I know is pain and sickness. I’d love to think 2 years from now someone can ask me that question and I could answer it differently, but today the pain is too great so unless tomorrow miraculously changes my condition, I don’t think it’s likely to happen.

How does one move forward knowing that? Knowing that their future will likely be as painful as their past? How does one find any hope in the midst of pain?

Underacheiving

January 29th, 2018

Mother. Wife. Daughter. Friend. These are all titles I claim. They say something about who I am. For the past 16 years I’ve been a mom. It occupies a lot of my time, devotion and finances and for a long time I identified solely as a stay at home mom and was proud to do so. I had 3 little ones at home who needed me to provide for their every need. I now have three independent sons who remind me daily they don’t need or want my help or input. The tides have turned. As they boys aged I sought out outside sources for my identity. Friendships, community, and eventually a career.

For the last two years I had people rely on me for their needs and I was known for more than being a mom and wife. It was great. I got every morning and I knew I could get up and out and actually have a purpose. I knew I was needed. I developed friendships and found joy in my job. Unfortunately the stress and weight of my illness became too much for me to bear and working became difficult. It’s now been more than a month since I’ve worked. At first it was a much needed reprieve. I needed the time to refocus on my physical and mental health.

While I still need time to attend to my health and am working on getting well, I feel lost. I wake up and face the day with no agenda other than maintaining order in my mind, my house and my family. Some days that’s easier than others, but some days its hard to even get out of bed. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t long ago that I was living life at full speed and seemingly doing it all, haphazardly and not at my best of course. I long for simpler days, pre-diagnosis. I don’t think it would make things easier, I would still be sick I would just be pushing through without the excuses. I don’t let excuses stop me most days, I just now allow myself permission to heal which in the past I never granted myself the grace to do and always led me further down the road to increased sickness.

I’m in an odd season. I am still a mother – with boys who don’t need her as much as they once did. I am still a wife – with a husband who is trying to keep living his life despite having a wife who is limited by her physical and mental constraints. Besides those things most days I don’t have much purpose and it’s taking it’s toll. I long for days when I was needed and there was more purpose in my day than loading and unloading the dishwasher or washer and dryer. While I know this season is temporary it’s still painful.

Stripping away the stress to show you the simplicity in life can be good, but sometimes too much simplicity can be bad as well. I am longing for a better balance. I’m desperate for something greater than the confines of these four walls day in and day out that doesn’t stress me out to the point of worsening my symptoms and therein lies the difficulty I face on a daily basis. Finding a delicate balance between overdoing and underdoing, I’ve always been an overacheiver. In this season of undoing years spent taxing my body and mind, there’s bound to be some growing pains as I learn what it looks like to love the stillness and serenity that’s found in just being present.

 

Pursuing Success

January 5th, 2018

This was written a few years ago. It showed up in my feed again and does occasionally. It’s a good reminder to me of a time when I was at a really good place in my journey.

If I think about what was going well and why I was at my healthiest it’s easy to pinpoint how I got there. I got healthy while going to school, exercising, and raising my kids. I was able to devote time to taking care of myself and my family while investing in my future goals. It was through those disciplines that I got to my healthiest and happiest place I have ever been. It was then that I was able to finally be well enough to pursue a career.

It is my current goal to regain that level of health that was lost due to external stressors and physical illness by focusing on my own self care, investing in personal development and providing for my family’s daily care. It is my goal that in time I can return to part time work, but not until I am holistically healthy.

This is a huge financial strain on our family and not a decision made because we can afford it, but one made because we know we can not afford not to take care of my health knowing how dangerous a position it places me in when I am unwell. I feel extremely guilty for the burden this puts on my family, but I am trusting that God will provide for our needs and that in time not only my health will improve that the overall health of our family will as well – including our finances.

My story isn’t over yet and for that I am grateful.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

December 29th, 2017

Imagine if you will a winter wonderland. Fresh fallen snow covers the ground. Ice paves the way in some places where water has pooled and set, frozen in place as if time stands still in this place. It’s eerily quiet as not many venture here during the winter months. You look around and hear the majestic trees creaking as the wind brushes past. The branches bare except for the touches of snow that remain after the sun melts it as the day lingers on.

This beautiful scene is reserved for the few who brave the brisk cold temperatures for a walk or run on the trails, either alone or with a furry friend. What keeps many away? You might think it’s just the cold. But some complain it’s a lack of time. Other’s say it’s physical restraints. Yet others bemoan busyness or lack of desire keeps them away. The truth is the biggest obstacle is the same across the board, the thing that keeps most people away from enjoying such a wonderful winter scene as described above is people themselves. It’s self at it’s basic level.

In fact, the biggest obstacle that kept me away for 3 days this week was myself. I checked my weather app every morning. It was below 10 degrees for several days in a row. It was below my self proclaimed “limit” for going outdoors to exercise so I didn’t. I chose to do an indoors workout instead. I let my excuses rob me of the chance to take in the majesty of nature and the joy that I could have received from going outdoors. I finally mustered up the courage yesterday to force myself past my excuses, when it got to 19 degrees, to go outside for a run. I realized how much I missed it and remembered it wasn’t all that bad once I got moving. I vowed to not let the voices in my head get the best of me again, and promised to hit the trails today no matter what my weather app said. Luckily for me it was even a few degrees warmer today than yesterday was when I went out.

Point is, we often make up a story in our head that’s way worse than the truth. I’m currently reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown. This is somewhat the premise of her entire book. The stories we tell ourselves can cause much more harm than good. For example, telling myself the limit for going outdoors to exercise robbed me of the potential to get in a good workout outdoors where I find the most joy and am able to feel my best. We often do this in many other ways, in regards to relationships, our jobs, our finances, just about anything in our life can be affected by the stories we tell ourselves. When we are truly honest with ourselves and get past the stories we are telling ourselves, we can often find freedom and experience life change. It’s such an interesting concept, simply changing the way we think about something or someone is really all that it takes to improve our situation. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it really can be the difference between a good day and a bad day – just by the way you craft the way you talk to yourself.

I highly recommend any book by Brene Brown, but Rising Strong is a good one. It’s a concept I’m trying to be better at, one day at a time. Today I succeeded and it was worth it.

Staying Focused

December 26th, 2017

Some days it’s nice to remember that while I am not at my goal weight, I am far from where I started. I began my journey at 230 lbs, a size 20 or XXL. I now wear a medium and around an 8/10 most of the time (depends on brand). I am getting closer to my goal every day I make healthy choices. As we draw near to the end of the year, I can honestly say I am happy with where I am with my with weight and am hopeful about continuing to maintain my weight loss another year. It’s been 4 years and I have learned so much about being healthier. As I focus on my mental health during this season I know my physical health will only continue to improve even more.

Today I went to the gym to begin some personal training sessions to get even more focused on my fitness goals. I generally work out at home on my own. This season has been learning a lot about my own weaknesses and accepting that it’s ok to admit that I need help. I am looking forward to a workout designed with my needs in mind and catering to my goals. I have about 15 lbs I want to lose and I want to work on rebuilding my strength that I’ve lost over time due to my declining health. I am hopeful about the progress that will be gained by having someone else leading the way and having extra accountability with my workouts. One day at a time, one healthy choice and workout at a time will get me closer to my goals. I refuse to give up on my health journey. I’ve invested too much time and energy into it to stop now!

 

Look for the Light

December 25th, 2017

There is hope in every season, some times we just have to hold on to the small glimmer and wait for the flame to rekindle; but never let your hope fade. If you are struggling today to even see that small bit of hope, please hold on and wait patiently for it is still there. The fact you are too means that the world hasn’t given up on you yet, so don’t give up on it.

May the light of Christmas shine bright within you every day of the year. It gives us hope that even those who were in the darkness could come into the light. That those who were hopeless could have hope. It’s a hope I cling too, today and every day.

As I remember the loss of a dear loved one today, and I try to stay grounded in the good thoughts as the holidays tend to take me to dark places, I am clinging to that light and that hope. If you are struggling today, know you aren’t alone and don’t do it alone.

The holidays can be about the darkness or the light, whichever we ruminate on. Today I am choosing the light. I hope you do too.

Being Present

December 24th, 2017

There aren’t as many gifts as there could be under the tree this year. I am learning to accept that being present is much more important than the presents. It’s a lesson I think we will all benefit from, but it still hurts to have to let my kids down. Praying that we all come through this difficult season a little stronger, more appreciative, compassionate, and loving. Our Christmas might not be picture perfect but it is a part of our story and I am grateful I am still here to be a part of it.