Overcoming The Odds

I woke up with my heart pounding. This was it. The first day in three years that I was about to take a risk and do something that I love and missed so dearly.

I changed into my under armor, pulled on my socks, and put my hair in a braid.

Why wasn’t my heart slowing down? I took my pulse…145 bpm. I rustled through my bag to find my pill box. I took my beta blocker to slow down my heart and put the symptom into my heart rate monitor.

“You okay?” my boyfriend asked…

“Yeah, I’m good. I’m ready” I replied. I wasn’t going to let a little tachycardia stop me. I planned for this. I rested for this.

I put on my jacket and my helmet and headed towards the car. I could not believe that I was actually going skiing! I used to ski every weekend since I was three years old before getting sick. I taught skiing to kids. I loved it. It has always been my favorite sport. However, I stopped skiing about three years ago after I was hospitalized; things just went downhill from there. I was using a walker to walk down the halls of a residential treatment center. But now…NOW I was going to try to ski!

I popped into my skis at the base of the hill and immediately felt a rush of adrenaline – this was it! Would I be able to ski like I used to? Would I even be able to make it down the hill? So many thoughts were running through my head, but I went up the lift and skied down almost like I never left. Sure, it was harder on my muscles. Yes I was out of breath at the bottom and felt that burn in my thighs. I got dizzy, but I did it. I carved my turns, felt the wind blow on to my face, and I hadn’t felt as free in three long years as I did just then.

I tell this story, because I want to encourage others. If you were to ask me two years ago, heck, even one year ago, if you thought I would ever be able to ski again, I do not think I could give you an answer, and if I had to, I would most likely say “I don’t know – probably not.” But here I am, able to make it down the hill 3-4 times in one day. No, I can’t ski the same way I used to, and who knows if I will ever  be able to. But I can modify the sport to fit my needs now. I can ski when my body allows it, and that is all I can ask for.

If you suffer from a chronic illness that has taken something away from you, I want to tell you to not give up! Do not lose hope. Maybe you aren’t able to do what you love or used to do right now, but you do not know what one, two, three years down the road will bring. If you have hope and faith that things will work out, and you are persistent and determined  you can get through anything. You can achieve anything. Nothing is so impossible that you can’t even think about trying. You owe it to yourself to at least try. I bet if you do that, you will end up surprising yourself, because you are capable of a lot more than you might think.

Skiing exhausted me. For days after I felt immense fatigue to the point where I would burst out in tears. But one lesson that I learned from that experience is that some things are worth feeling exhausted for later. Because that means that you are living. I am not going to let my illnesses completely stop me in my tracks. When I physically can, I am going to do fun activities, things that I love, because I do not want my illnesses to rule my life or call the shots. Of course I am going to try to always listen to my body and what it is telling me. But I do not want to let chronic illness dampen my spirit – and you shouldn’t either.

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Follow me on Bloglovin and please check out my new blog also on Bloglovin! It delves more into my life and experiences with chronic illness/disease @ Rare Bear Ramblings

Much love,

Claire

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Self-Love

Hello loves! I am so happy to have many of you like my last post Q&A! I did not get any questions, but I appreciate you reading and liking, and if anything pops up, still ask and I will do that post later on.

Now onto the topic of the day…

Self-love. I want to talk about self-love. This issue has been coming up in my own life recently, and with Valentines Day approaching, I thought it would be an excellent topic to touch on.

Self-love. This always has been and still is, ALMOST a foreign concept to me. I have not grown up loving myself or my body. Although I am getting better with practicing acts of self-love, it truly is still something that I struggle with and really need to work on.

As most of you know, I have suffered from the eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa. During these incredibly challenging 6 years of my life, I don’t even think that I could tell you the definition of self-love, let alone apply it to myself. Everything about me was wrong: my size, my weight, my shape, my hair, my skin, and hell, my very existence! I was so critical of myself. Nothing was the way I wanted it – I wasn’t perfect – so I just was NOT worth loving.

Now, I have been blessed with a boyfriend who helps me to see every day that I am worth it – that I AM loveable. Without him, I wouldn’t be as far along as I am. However, I am absolutely, 100% NOT saying that a boyfriend will fix your problems and help you to love yourself – only you can do that. But others CAN help you along on the journey to self-love. They can love you when you don’t love yourself, and help you to see that you are deserving, worthy, and important – because you are!

Valentines Day is not about whether or not you have a boyfriend, partner, or husband. It is about celebrating love and communicating that love you have to those important people in your life. This INCLUDES YOURSELF. You are first, and foremost bound to the relationship you have with yourself. After all, you can’t truly give whole-heartedly to others without giving to and loving yourself first. Self-love isn’t always easy – in fact, its pretty damn hard. But if you don’t love yourself, not only are you neglecting the wonderful body and soul that God blessed you with, but you are putting a strain on the relationship that you have with others because you do not think that you SHOULD be loved. This thinking is terribly flawed. We all deserve love, and most importantly, we deserve it from ourselves first. When we love ourselves, we are letting others love us, too.

So, this Valentines Day, do not stress over whether or not you have that ‘special someone’ to celebrate with. Because guess what? That special someone is always YOU first. So go out an buy yourself some chocolate – you deserve it! And then tell your family and friends how much you love and appreciate them. There are all different kinds of love, and no one kind of love is better than the other.

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Much love always,

Claire

Q&A or Topic Suggestions :)

Hello loves! I’m suffering from a bit of writers block, and I am trying to brainstorm some topics to write about. After about 20 minutes of thinking and googling, I finally came up with about 2 topics to put down on my list…lol! I’m trying not to sweat it or worry too much, this happens to all of us! So I thought I would try something a little different and see how it goes!

I am opening my next blog post up to you guys. If you have ANY suggestions for what you would like to see me write about, please please leave a comment here, or on any of my social medias which you can find on the connect with me page. But what I really want to try to do is a Q&A. So if you have any questions about anything…my chronic illnesses, eating disorder recovery, how I deal with anxiety/depression/other issues, what other illnesses I have, what I do in my spare time – whatever! – I want to answer any questions that you may have or be wondering about that pop up!

If you read my last post, you will probably understand why this post in particular is causing some of those anxious thoughts to surface: “what if no one responds? what if no one cares? what kind of questions could anyone possibly have for you??” You know, those kinds of self-demoralizing thoughts that like to convince you that you are not worthy or important. Well, I am telling those to shut it because worst case is…I get no questions or suggestions – I MOVE on and continue to think up some good posts for you guys that you will hopefully like. New events happen every day and I am sure in time I will have some ideas that magically appear in my head – they always do. But I wanted to try this out in the mean time to avoid a lull in the blogging.

So, blogging friends/followers:

What questions do you have for me?

OR

What would you like me to write about?

If you don’t know much about me, or anything at all, feel free to take a look at the About page on here, too. In my next blog post (I hope) to answer any questions you may have or write about something you want to read. If not – this post will most likely be deleted and I’ll brainstorm some stuff up for you guys!

Have a wonderful day loves!

Much love,

Claire

What Anxiety Tells Me

I was sitting in class yesterday. It was my first class of one of the two that I am taking this semester. I was getting myself settled, sipping my green tea latte from Starbucks and writing in my planner. I saw some familiar faces come in to the class, I waved to them and they waved back, exchanged a couple of “Hi, good-to-see-you’s” and then went about doing our own thing. I do not know what it was about class yesterday that set off a trigger leading me into some sadness and anxiety – or maybe I do. Reflecting on my time in class last night and talking to my boyfriend on the phone allowed me to realize that my anxiety was feeding me lie after lie, and I was believing all of them…every. single. one.

I am about to open up in this blog post, and I am a little embarrassed, but I am going to take a leap of faith and just do it.

Do you ever feel like the odd one out? Or do you ever feel like that third wheel in a group of friends all of the time? You know, the one that gets pushed off the sidewalk and walks behind everyone, or the one who thinks they have a friend to work on a school project with but they choose someone else? ME. That girl was always me.

But this isn’t a sob story. I am not writing this to feel sorry for myself or look for attention. BECAUSE, I realized something. It isn’t the fact that I am not the most ‘desired’ person to be friends with, for lack of a better term. It is about the lies that my anxiety feeds me. The lies that TELL me I am not worth being friends with or that people just don’t want to be around me.

Let me back up…

I was sitting in class yesterday, and my professor was talking to us about some group projects that we will have to work on throughout the semester. She said we can sign up for whatever topics we would like, or ask friends to sign up for the same topics. I immediately had a rush of anxiety when she told me this…everyone else looked like they had friends in this class. Who would I ask? What was I doing wrong that I don’t have as many friends or people to talk to?

  • Anxiety lie strike one! Looking back on it now, not EVERYONE there looked like they knew other people or had friends in the class. Most of them? Yes. But certainly not all. I was not the odd one out, as much as I felt like I was. And this is a common lie that anxiety will tell us: “your the only one” or “your different.” Well guess what? Chances are you’re not . Chances are other people in the class think similarly to you and have some of the same fears. But that is a classic lie that anxiety makes you believe: that you are alone, and that everything is your fault. Most of the time, you do not even have control over the situation. So how could it possibly be your fault when it’s out of your hands?

I looked around the classroom, trying to figure out who I could ask to be my partner for one of the assignments…The girl sitting two rows in front of me. We talked a lot last semester in one of our classes. She is nice. I’ll ask her. I waited in my seat anxiously for the chance to get up and ask. Finally my professor dismissed us. This was it…

Nevermind. She asked someone else. Her friend next to her. My heart sunk a little bit. See, no one wants to be around you. No one wants to work with you let alone be your friend.  

  • Anxiety lie strike two!  This is just so NOT true, despite how real it felt last night. Just because she chose someone else to work with, does absolutely, 100% NOT mean that no one wants to work with me or be around me. Chances are, this girl had no idea that I was thinking about asking her. Chances are, she was turning to her good friend in the class because she was worried that SHE, too, would not have anyone to work with. This was nothing personal against me. And, Claire, you DO have friends. You have people who love and care about you. You have your family, your boyfriend, and a some friends outside of school. Why would you believe this? Why would anyone believe this?

Because they are fears. They are anxious thoughts that attack our minds trying to convince us that it is reality. This is when we need to take a step back and really analyze the thought and de-bunk it. Because 99% of what anxiety tells us, is a false reality. 99% of what our anxiety tells us is a big pile of BS. Anxiety lies. Anxiety is NOT on your side. Anxiety makes you think that the world is against you, that no one likes you, that you are alone, that you have no friends, and so on and so on. My anxiety tells me this stuff all of the time. But it’s time to start putting the anxiety in it’s place. It is time to STOP believing the lies that my anxiety repeats to me over and over in my mind. Anxiety is a bully. So if you suffer from anxiety and these thoughts or experiences resonate with you, I challenge you to next time, challenge the anxiety, because anxiety’s only goal is to make you worried over things that aren’t real. It makes you worried over things that COULD BE real but AREN’T. It makes you miserable. And the more you believe the lies, the more depressed and anxious you get.

You are beautiful. You are loved. You are worthy. You are not alone. You are special.

→ believe THOSE truths, instead.

There is a quote that I love, it goes: “Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.”

Choose to grow flowers, every time.

Much love,

Claire

Tips To Tackle College with Chronic Illness

As I lay in my bed on a cozy Sunday evening, despite the relaxed energy surrounding my loft apartment, my mind couldn’t help but wander to the upcoming week and my list of things to do. That’s pretty reasonable though, right? I mean who DOESN’T think about all their responsibilities and obligations as a new week approaches. Tonight I am preparing for my first week of spring semester graduate school. My mind feels totally scattered as I am thinking about what I will need, when my syllabus will be posted online, what kind of notebooks or binders I should use, and heck, what classes am I even taking?? I hope I am prepared and show up to the right room!

Take a second and breathe, Claire.

“You’ve got this” → is what I keep telling myself.

So I wracked my brain thinking of all I need to do for class tomorrow so that I am ABLE to be physically okay for class. Because if you have a chronic illness, you know it’s just not as simple as showing up to class. There are several steps that one must take to be able to be successful in school. Whether you are in high school, college undergrad, grad school, or getting your doctorate – if you have a chronic illness you need to make sure you are taking good care of you and doing everything in your power to help yourself physically, mentally, and academically. By doing this, I guarantee it will be much easier to thrive and prosper in school.

So I decided that I would share some of my major tips that helped me get through my first semester of grad school (while receiving good grades). My tips are geared towards students who are attending college, but some of these can be applied to High School, too!

Tips to Getting Through College with a Chronic Illness

  1. Talk to your professors. I CANNOT stress this enough. It is so important to have open communication with your professors about your disability. Now I do not mean that you have to go into details and reveal what your disability IS, per se, but you do need to let them know that you have an illness/disability that may result in missing class some days, not always being able to meet original class deadlines, etc. Most professors I have found to be very understanding and willing to make accommodations for you…which brings me to my next point!
  2. Utilize available resources for students with disabilities. This has literally been a life savor for me. Without accessibility resources at my University, I would probably not have been able to return to school when I did. Often times, schools will have programs for students with chronic illness or disabilities where students can receive a list of accommodations for whatever they are struggling with. This list is given to the professors and can help the professor better understand exactly what THEY need to do in order to assist the student in need. Some examples of accommodations could be taking tests in a certain room or the ability to have extensions on assignments just to name a couple. Although I try to very rarely use my accommodations, it is nice to know that they are there if something happened where I really did need to use it.
  3. Get a disabled parking pass (if you don’t already have one). This is NECESSARY at my school. I go to a large University that has a widespread campus and consequently, very little parking available. I would not be able to sit through class if I had to park on the OPPOSITE side of campus and walk all that way to my building (which is something that I HAVE had to do in the past). As someone who cannot stand for long periods of time, it is only fitting to have a disabled parking pass to help me get safely and securely to my lecture. So, if you are that person with low blood volume or a racing heart and dizziness upon standing, a parking pass could really work in your favor.
  4. Wear compression stockings and always carry a water bottle. This has definitely helped me on longer days. Again, if you have low blood volume or blood pressure, compression stockings with help keep the blood from pooling at your feet and in turn, help keep you more awake and alert in class. A water bottle is also key for long lectures!
  5. Take a couple of online courses! Before I was able to actually attend a lecture in person, I took some online courses to ease myself into it and work my brain even though my body couldn’t physically handle going in to school. If you are in that position, I suggest trying a couple of online courses! They were great for me at the time and helped me to feel like I was still busy while being practically housebound.
  6. Go part time if you need to. I do not go to school full time because I know that would be WAY too difficult for me right now. My health would suffer, mentally and physically. So I am taking it slow and going to school part time. At first I was kind of embarrassed to only go part time and not have a full time job, but then I realized there is NO need to be ashamed! Everyone is doing their own thing and we all have to ultimately do what is best for us. Don’t worry about what other people think! It’s definitely not worth my (or YOUR) time and energy.
  7. Lastly, GIVE YOURSELF A DARN BREAK. It’s fantastic that you are even going to school while being sick and suffering with one or more chronic illness. Going to school is a huge accomplishment and you should be proud of yourself for trying and making it to where you are. If you have to use an accommodation, use it. If you really don’t feel up to going to class, don’t go and email your professor. Don’t wear yourself too thin because your health could be on the line. And that is first and for most your number one priority.

And THAT concludes my tips and tricks for going to college while being sick. I hope these help you and make you feel a bit more confident in tackling spring semester.

Happy Studying! 🙂

Much love,

Claire

2017 Resolutions? More Like Long Term GOALS

New Years resolutions…I have never been a fan of them. So many New Years Resolutions are centered around losing weight, cutting out carbs, sugar or gluten, exercising ‘X’ amount of times per week (even if you HATE it), gaining more muscle, losing more fat, etc. I mean think about it, that is ALL you see for commercials throughout the month of January – weight loss. So because of this epidemic of losing weight and becoming ‘healthier,’ I have grown to dislike and boycott resolutions. However, I do not want to take away the significance that comes with a New Year. A New Year is a time for reflecting on the previous year, and thinking about how you can improve yourself in the coming year. How can you make it better? What more can you do for yourself that will help you in every aspect of your life? SO, instead of setting New Years Resolutions, I look at them as goals. Goals that I can set for myself to achieve in 2017, but that I can continue to work on over the course of my life. Because let’s face it, we are always growing, changing, and improving. The issue with weight loss and diet goals is that they end. Most weight loss diets are not sustainable. Not to mention that the diet industry is something I am totally against anyways. But what I am going to focus on for 2017 are goals that can help me become my best self. I know I am a little late as we approach the end of January already (where is the time going?!) but I wanted to share with you a list of goals that I came up with to work on starting…well, now!

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My Goals for 2017:

  1. I want to really follow my dietary plan set up with my Nutritionist – to a tea! This will be a fine line because I do not want to get to the point where I obsess over it, but I want to be at that healthy place of following the recommendations so that I can maybe start to feel a little bit better! What does my meal plan consist of? SUGAR and SALT. Yes – you heard that correctly. I have to do the complete OPPOSITE of what most people do regarding their diets and what most doctors would absolutely NOT recommend. Which is hard – because as most of you know, I have suffered from an eating disorder for the past 6 years of my life. The reason why I am eating these types of foods is actually not related to my eating disorder at all, rather it is what I need to follow for my genetic metabolic disease, and my Dysautonomia. You see, my body can store glucose, but it cannot access any of the glucose that is stored. So because of this, the foods that I need to eat have to be high in sugar. I need to meet certain amounts of gram of sugar in my meals and snacks, and record these numbers and track how I feel. It is a difficult, tedious process, but it is something I really want to make a habit to carry out every single day. My specialist doctor and my nutritionist told me that this is such an important part of managing my symptoms – so this is what I am going to do. And yes, I get funny looks from the people working the cash registers at grocery stores. But I shrug off the looks and the comments, because I know that my body needs this stuff, as weird as that may sound.
  2. I want to make it a habit to take all of my medication every day, at the times that I am supposed to. This is something that is SO important, for anyone with chronic physical and/or mental illness, and is something that I honestly struggle with. It is hard to remember to take multiple pills 4 x a day. What I decided I am going to do is utilize the app that I downloaded called Medisafe, where you can create a virtual pill box and receive reminders for when you need to take your medication. I also just bought a new pill box to organize all of my meds. My medicine will help me feel better only if I stick with it. So this is a goal.
  3. I am going to continue to look for a part time job. I am currently in my Masters program part time, because I would not be able to handle full time in dealing with my health issues too. However, I need to make some income, so looking for a part time job that can cater to my needs (limited standing, walking, etc) is important. I would absolutely love to find a job that is in line with my career path. But since I am still a graduate student, I obviously cannot have my dream job yet – but that is OKAY. It will come in time 🙂
  4. I definitely want to find a way to get my body moving some. For the past two years I have barely exercised because of the level of difficulty and extra effort it takes. Being sick has made it nearly impossible for me to do all of the fun exercising activities that I used to do. But there has to be something I can do to get my body moving at least a little bit. Power yoga would not be good because I know it would just make me so dizzy, but I am looking into taking a more gentle yoga class. Also, strength building exercised might be helpful. I want to do SOMETHING active for my body, but just like anyone else with a chronic illness, it is about figuring out what I can and can’t do!
  5. Something that I really want to work on is strengthening my relationships; with my friends, boyfriend, and family members. I really want to make sure that I am making time to see my friends. Sometimes when life gets busy or when I am struggling, my relationships get put on the back burner. However, I want to work on strengthening all of these relationships so that when life DOES get busy or when I AM struggling, I can go to these people and use them as good supports instead of isolating or dealing with the issues all on my own. It is so healthy to have friends! And I don’t want to put my friendships last. Furthermore, I would like to grow in my relationship with my boyfriend, and maintain good connection and communication with family.
  6. I really would like to grow spiritually starting this year. I want to strengthen my connection and relationship with God and really devote some time to spend with God. I have been slacking on going to Church, and I know that there is so much more to spirituality than attending Church, but it is something that I miss and that I would like to make a weekly regimen.
  7. Lastly, I want to just take care of me! For most of my life, I put everyone else first and did what I thought would make others happy. I know there are certain responsibilities that I have and duties that I need to follow through with, but I really want to honor myself, my body, and my spirit and do what is good for me, and what will, ultimately, be in my best interest.




    So those are my 7 main New Years goals. I hope they can inspire you to come up with your own that you can work on not only for 2017, but for the years to come.

It Started As A Planted Seed

It was a rainy day, and I lied in bed listening to the rain drops hit the roof and roll off into puddles on the ground. I distinctly remember being bored, being tired, being sick, and having my thoughts run wild. They often did during this time of my life. It was a period of transition, and any changes that occur in my life cause chaos and turmoil, because let’s face it…I am not good with change; I never was and I still struggle with transitions. It is something that I am continuously working on, to better deal with change. Because to be frank, change happens ALL of THE TIME. I need to get okay with things not staying the same, because very little in this life DOES stay the same. So on that dismal day where I felt too ill to move from my bed, I had a thought. What if I had a space to get all of my thoughts out? A space that I could call my own and collect all my writings? Better yet, what if this space could not only serve as an outlet for me, but serve as an outlet or a safe space for others to come, as well? A place where I could be vulnerable in my thoughts and feelings and give and receive support from others going through similar situations.

And THAT, my friends, is how this little blog emerged. This was almost two years ago. How the time flies! Starting out from the very beginning, my blog being nothing more than a planted seed. I watered it, hoping it would grow. I am pleased today with all of the progress this little blog of mine has made. I am so grateful for all the follows and the likes and the support that I have received. My blog has been growing and blossoming, and I think I am ready for the next step. Although I am satisfied with what I have done with this blog thus far, I have a yearning to grow it even further. I want to continue to see it blossom and thrive. More importantly, I want to continue to reach out to others through my writing. That is the main reason for wanting this blog to grow even more, so that I can help others. So that I can provide some inspiration or a glimmer of hope to anyone who may need it. I am far from perfect in my recovery from my eating disorder. But I am farther along than I ever have been, and I am FINALLY in a place where I feel stable and solid enough to reach out and provide some support and words of encouragement to others. I am far from perfect in my recovery from my chronic illnesses. I still struggle with remembering to take all my medication, and I still experience a lot of symptoms that can cause crippling fatigue. But again, I am in a better place than I was a little over two years ago lying in a hospital bed. I am far from perfect in my recovery from anxiety, depression, and OCD, but I continue to reach out to my own supports and get the help that I need. I am farther along in my journey than when I started this blog a couple of years ago, and I am ready to see it improve and just get bigger and better. Not for me, but for others. Yes, it is an outlet for me, too. Blogging helps me. It serves as a wonderful outlet to sift through and sort out my thoughts. But if it didn’t do anything for others, would it be worth it? If I did not have so many wonderful followers already, would it be the same? I don’t really know how much this blog has helped anyone, if at all. I can only hope that it has and continue to write about what inspires ME. And maybe, just maybe, it will resonate with you too.

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In my hopes to expand and grow this blog, I created a FB page. Please like it! Any likes and follows are so appreciated! And I don’t have nearly as many followers as many bloggers out there, but I wanted to thank all of the followers that I do have! This blog has been a saving grace for me, and I hope that it can help some of you too! My FB page is a place to get some daily inspiration and to read any of my latest blog posts. SO, you can follow it at Bear Beating Gravity. Also, if you go to my about page, you can find all the links to my social medias, OR, go to the bottom of my site and click on the links there. My new twitter account is bearbeingbrave so feel free to follow me there, too!

Have a good day loves!

~ Claire

The Silver Linings of Chronic Illness

Reading this, you might be thinking, how on earth this post is going to go. Chronic illness is debilitating, draining, and down right exhausting for people who suffer with it. It takes a toll on every aspect of our lives; it affects us mentally, physically, professionally, recreationally, spiritually, etc. It makes certain daily tasks a struggle to complete. Sometimes, we need to muster up the strength to simply push or pull open a door. Now [if you don’t suffer from chronic illness] think about going through this every day. Feeling so tired that it is hard to get out of bed, needing to sleep during the day even though you have already gotten a good 8-10 hours of sleep at night, not being able to stand for long periods of time, taking medication 4+ times a day. It doesn’t sound like a way that anyone would choose to live. HOWEVER, and this is a big however, just like anything else, there is good that can come from living with a chronic illness. Whatever you struggle with or suffer from – we all have our own battles and we all suffer with something. But if you look hard enough, there is beauty that can be found within suffering. Some things just don’t seem fair, I get that. There are horrible things that happen to people in this world. Things that I cannot even fathom. But ultimately, I believe that everything happens for a reason. We might not know what that reason is or be able to see it while we are in the thick of it, but we can pull SOMETHING from our hardships; a lesson, a silver lining, something. The same with chronic illness. I know some people who are so sick they can’t leave their house or get out of bed. BUT, if we look for our silver linings, it will help us through our suffering and allow us to accept our circumstances, our conditions, and have a grateful heart for our blessings and all that we do have.

So, here are some silver linings that I have pulled together from my own experience living with chronic illness, and I want to share them. Hopefully these will speak to you and will be relatable to your own life. My hope is that you can take some of these positives with you to help you through your hard days.

Silver Linings of Life With A Chronic Illness

  1. We appreciate the little things. With feeling so crummy all of the time, we appreciate and are so happy and grateful for the moments where we feel okay, for the days where our symptoms are not flaring as much. We appreciate when we are finally feeling well enough to take some classes at school, or have a part time job – or heck, even a full time job! We appreciate the days when we feel well enough to go outside and get some fresh air, or to go for a short walk. We appreciate when we feel up to spending time with family or friends. It’s the little things that really count anyways, right?
  2. We know and understand that patience is a virtue. Patience. Something that I have learned to have over the course of the last couple years. We, as chronic illness sufferers, know how to be patient. Sometimes, it seems like all we do is wait. We wait in the waiting room for our doctors appointments. We wait to get IN to see a doctor. We wait for a diagnosis. We wait in the ER. We wait to do certain activities until we feel well enough. We wait for our treatments to work. We wait. But this is good practice for life, because patience is something that we all need a little bit of to get through life. We need patience with ourselves, and patience with others, and if you have a chronic illness, you come to realize that patience truly is a virtue.
  3. We can advocate for ourselves. If you are someone who has suffered from a chronic illness for years, I bet you really understand this! A lot like patience, we learn the importance of advocating for ourselves. Some doctors dismiss us, some don’t care, some don’t believe what we are telling them. So what do we do? We speak up. We are pushy. We are matter of fact. We might say at the end of the day, that we need to look for a different doctor, one that will give us the time and respect that we deserve. We ask for what we need, and we take charge of our own health. Advocating for oneself is such an important skill to achieve during this life, and as people with chronic illness, we learn this skill quite quickly.
  4. We can have empathy and understanding for others. As a chronic illness warrior, you know suffering. You know pain. You know what it is like to feel sick all of the time. This makes you that much more empathetic to others who are suffering, with chronic illness or not! When others are suffering from chronic illness or similar symptoms, you want to help. You want to be there and let them know that they are not alone. When others are suffering with whatever else, you still are understanding, because you know what it is like to hurt.
  5. We are not alone. It may feel like we are alone in our suffering, but the truth is, there are many of us out there. If you do not already have a support group in place or a place to go to connect with others, I HIGHLY suggest looking into it. For me, Instagram has been a wonderful place that I can turn to for support, advice, and just making friends who GET it and GET what it’s like to live with multiple, life altering illnesses. There are also Facebook groups, and there are blogs that you can follow. Bloglovin is a great site to find chronic illness blogs. Dive in and do not be afraid to join a chronic illness community.

** We also become good online shoppers (Amazon is my favorite!) and we have time to read, watch our favorite television shows, and for the most part we realize the importance of self-care!

Tell Me: what else is YOUR silver lining to chronic illness?

Getting Real

HELLO EVERYONE! It has been way too long since I last wrote. A LOT has happened since my previous post and I hope to never go this long without writing again! I know I know, you have heard this before. But I really want to try to continue to carry through with these goals because I find that blogging, for me, is actually quite therapeutic! And I could use some extra coping skills and therapy right about now 🙂

So, for the New Year, I want to try to blog more without holding myself with the expectation that I NEED to do it constantly…does that make sense? Probably not! Let me try to explain it a little better. Blogging helps me, and I (hope) it helps others just as much as it helps me. However there is a fine line between focusing too much on the blog and making sure that I keep up with it. I find that if I tell myself I need to blog ‘X’ amount of times for the week, I really struggle and it doesn’t become as fun anymore. BUT, if I make a point to blog whenever I feel inspired or just want to write, then that is awesome. To be honest, the reason for staying away from blogging so long is that I just wasn’t feeling inspired. Anxiety and depression have been all consuming for the past 1 – 2 months, and some days it is hard for me to just get out of bed and do the things that I need to do, let alone try and come up with something to blog about.

Anyways, now that my rant about not blogging is over with, I want to get to the heart of this post, and that is about ENDING the stigma associated with mental illness, and even chronic physical illness, too. On my spoonie Instagram page, I opened up a little bit to my followers in a post today about myself and some of the issues I deal with. I don’t know if you are on IG, but I know these posts from #endingthestigma were pretty much blowing up my feed. So, I decided to join in on the fun… Because it is crucial that we END the stigma surrounding mental health, and also end the stigma among chronic illness, particularly in young people! These illnesses are real. They are not made up, and they are not ‘just in people’s heads’ (unless you are looking at it pretty literally because mental illness does mean that it’s mental, meaning the head…duh). Mental illness affects so many people, but it often is not talked about because people are afraid of being judged, looked at differently, or even like they owe an explanation for why they feel the way they feel. It is looked at as a very personal matter. And there is nothing wrong with it being personal if that is how one wants it. We all have a right to our privacy! But, sometimes it helps to talk about it and not keep it such a secret. Secrets can be unhealthy, and we need to make sure we are acting in accordance with what most benefits our health and wellbeing. For those who have been following me from the beginning, and for any new followers, I am about to get real about some of my struggles. Key word being some, because I am not a complete open book on this blog to be perfectly honest. But I am as honest as I can be in disclosing personal information, because I am actually a private person believe it or not. But some things need to be talked about. Some issues need to be pushed because they are misunderstood and misrepresented. Below is the post that I made on my IG page today…

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I am not perfect by any means, no one is. But I need to continue to remind myself that given my circumstances and the cards that I have been dealt with, I am brave. I am strong. I am a fighter. We all are brave, and strong. If you are still here you are fighting like hell. If it is not a mental illness, it is a physical illness. If it is not a physical illness, it is a loss. If it is not a loss, it is job stress. Do you see where I am going with this? We ALL have our battles that we need to fight. Sure, they present themselves differently in everybody, but we all struggle and suffer. Some things are easier to talk about than others. This being said, just because something isn’t as easy to discuss, does NOT mean that we should not discuss it. Mental illness and chronic physical illness should not be topics to be avoided. We need to confront these issues head on. We need to talk about them. Talking about them could save a life. I know when people open up to me about their struggles, such as a mental illness or a physical illness, I feel less alone. My first inclination when someone opens up to me is to offer words of encouragement and advice from my OWN experience. I want to help others. I hope I can help others. The support in the Instagram community for chronic illness warriors and mental illness battlers is do great. It puts me at ease on hard days and serves as a source of comfort and sense of belonging. We all need to feel like we belong. And THIS is why it is important to talk about these difficult issues. Because we are not alone in our struggles.

On that note, I’m going off to bed. I hope this post was able to speak to some of you. If it helps only one person, that is good enough.

Have a good night and stay strong loves.

Much love,

Claire