the sad times…

I am feeling horribly fragile today, as I have been on most days these last months. Fibromyalgia pain, worsening back and neck pain from arthritis, migraines, foot pain, and depression, a nasty depression relapse that just goes on and on and on…Are my medications not effective any longer? Are changing hormone levels playing a role? Am I getting worse as I get older? Did breaking my foot so badly throw everything off? Or all of the above?

It’s hard to say. But none of my usual self-care strategies seem to be helping anymore. My gratitude journal, guided meditation, walking, losing myself in a good book…all of my long honored tried-and-true comforts are failing me. I’m also having a tough time reaching out to friends because I don’t know what to say.

And part of this, I know, is the ongoing pain of childlessness. The gaping, supperating wound that never heals. It’s always there, a dull ache that crescendos to a roar at times, like around Father’s Day, which is this coming Sunday.

I don’t quite know what to do with so much pain, both physical and emotional. My husband has been wonderfully, incredibly supportive, I have terrific doctors, but it’s as if my usual coping mechanisms have run dry. So all I can do for the moment is to hold on tight to the love I know heals me. From my family, my husband, my God. And force myself to get out of bed every day, to get dressed, to sit out in the backyard with the sun and the flowers and the dog, and hope that eventually healing grace will start to take hold.

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’

Mary Ann Radmacher

goodbye may

Goodbye May…you’ve been simply lovely, despite the twin evils of fibromyalgia and depression. Tulips, crabapple blossoms, lilacs, lilies of the valley, and peonies galore. Of course Catholics celebrate May as Mary’s month, and for me, May has always been my mom’s month, bittersweet now that she’s gone, since her birthday and Mother’s Day fall so close together. So goodbye to May…and hello June! I’m looking forward to summer flowers (my salvias and lupines are blooming already) and hopefully a photography trip up to the North Shore (of Lake Superior, for all of you non-Minnesotans out there).

What was your favorite  part of May?

the sweet, simple things

It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.

–Laura Ingalls Wilder

I find it interesting that the older I get the truer this is! A small bouquet of tulips, a letter from a friend, my husband’s dimples, snuggles from my cocker spaniel, crabapple blossoms in early May…it really is about the little things, after all.

How about you, my fellow fibro fighters? What are a few of the small, sweet things that matter in your life, that help keep you going despite the pain, depression, and fatigue?

11 Things People With Chronic Illnesses Need to DO — fabwithfibro

 

Great list. I think I can handle it. http://themighty.com/2015/12/11-things-people-with-chronic-illnesses-need-to-do/

via 11 Things People With Chronic Illnesses Need to DO — fabwithfibro

Hey fibro friends, I found this on a terrific fibro blog I discovered today, called “Fab with Fibro” (which is what we all want to be, right?); the link is from The Mighty, one of my all-time favorite chronic illness (physical and mental) websites. They have a marvelous newsletter I highly recommend.

Anyway, I’ve been struggling with giving up my long-time dream of being a chaplain. Lots of tears, anger, envy toward the entire world of healthy people who can take any job they want without needing to think twice about health limitations…in other words, loads of grief with a big dose of self-pity mixed in. So when I read this list by The Mighty, it felt as though it was written specifically for me. So I thought I’d share this, with many thanks to fabwithfibro, for those of you who are coming bang up against fibro and other health limitations too.

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Why Some People Get Depressed And Others Get Resilient

TIME

Some people thrive under stress and tight deadlines, and others become crippled with defeat. A team of scientists looked to mice to find biological answers for these different responses and found the reason my lie deep in the brain.

The area of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is known to be involved in the regulation of emotions and behavior, and can become highly activated in people who are depressed. Researchers have long wanted to know whether hyperactivity in mPFC causes depression or if the activity in that part of the brain is a result of something else (and thus not the cause of depression). To test this, they looked at mice and were able to pinpoint the specific neurons involved with stress. Like humans, when mice are depressed, the mPFC neurons become activated. The very same neurons were weak among mice who appeared not to be bothered…

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Protecting Yourself by Liking Yourself

I love this post because, personally, learning to like myself–even part of the time–has been so incredibly difficult. Peeling back all of the layers of shame and defensiveness I’ve encased myself in is truly a struggle. For me, two things have helped. One is my firm belief that I (that we are all) made in the image and likeness of God–the “imago Dei”. The other is a quote from St. Catherine of Siena: “Become who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.”

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Soul Healing Art

Stepping Into Stepping Into

I often wonder what pushes us forward in life. What transforms us? What stimulates our movement from an abusive relationship or toxic behaviors (by others or those we lay upon ourselves)?

And I think it begins with one thought inside of us – we begin to like ourselves. We begin to like ourselves enough to say “No” to things that hurt, belittle, injure, or limit us.

This initial liking may be but a small sliver, but it is enough for the magic to begin. It begins to serve as a reference for what will and what will not be allowed in our lives.

And in this liking of ourselves, we establish a sense of value within ourselves. And like anything of value, we begin to understand that we are worth protecting. So we leave harmful situations or if we can not leave, we begin to take measure both…

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Oops

Obviously, my attempt at the A to Z Blogging Challenge was a complete failure. I solemnly promise to do better next year! I’m afraid my depression, fibromyalgia, and migraines (I’m in perimenopause–yay) got the better of me–that, and trying to keep up with my last required class for my master’s degree. As you can see, I like taking pictures of the books I am reading; it makes me feel brilliant and learned, somehow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A to Z Challenge: I is for Insecurity

This afternoon was going well, until I saw the email. Yesterday I cheered by an email from my professor, who said he wanted me to stay in his class despite my absence Tuesday night and that I was “intelligent and insightful”. Today, however, I check my email and discover an email from the Director of my program,saying that “I want to ask that you make your Tuesday evening class…your top priority (aside from self-care and your family). That is, so that you can finish this course, please do everything you can to be rested and ready for Tuesday evenings…For the next six weeks, please really try to focus in and finish the work for this course.”

Some background here: At the beginning of the semester I was getting terrible migraines (because I needed bifocals, as it turned out) and missed several classes, which is a huge deal in my program–classes only meet once a week, for three hours. I was asked to consider a medical leave, which is was, but then a couple of days later I discovered at my eye exam that my need for bifocals was causing my migraines. So I decided to stay in the class, and my prof and the Director agreed, as long as a gave him (the Director) a signed statement saying that I will make the class a top priority and not miss any more classes. Which I did. Then I get an email repeating almost verbatim what he said before. After I was so sick I had a fever of 101, hideous chills and sweats, etc., and I still showed up for class.

He did reiterate in his note that the faculty support me in finishing my degree, and that he knew I was a good student. But most of the letter seemed to imply that when I had problems finishing classes before–because of migraines, fibromyalgia, neck surgery, and a couple of nasty depression relapses–it was because I wasn’t focusing enough. Wasn’t trying hard enough. I have always really liked him, and I am feeling a bit…crushed, that he seems to think I’ve been slacking off in the past.

Sometimes, I wish people knew how much courage it takes to get up in the morning, knowing I’m going to be in pain all day. And I realize I may be projecting some of my insecurities on to this email. I do feel insecure a a good share of the time: if I just tried harder, couldn’t I beat this thing? (Well, things, in my case.)

I need more spoons.

However, one of my favorite authors did  come to my rescue:

One of the most beautiful ways for spiritual formation to take place is to let your insecurity lead you to the Lord. Natural hypersensitivity can become an asset; it makes you aware of your need to be with people as it allows you to be more willing to look at their needs (Henri Nouwen)

I could do with a little less hypersensitivity these days, though. It’s hard, as right at the moment I’m in the midst of a fibromyalgia flare and feeling very fragile thanks to my depression and PTSD. Now I have to figure out how to hand my insecurities and doubts about myself over to God. And my therapist.

Does anyone else out there feel fragile, like the least little thing will make you break? Or that if you just pulled yourself up by your bootstraps, as the saying goes, that you could be well?

Edit:I may have spoken too soon–at the end of the letter he tells me how glad he is I am in the Program. But this is still a good lesson on how deep my insecurities run.