Fight! Live YOUR Life!

How many posts do you start and stop before you get to the one that you feel is okay to publish? Having a blog is like writing in your diary… except I left my diary open on a table… in a restaurant… and people are walking by, picking it up and reading it. It’s scary and strange and cool all at the same time. It’s very cool to know that my feelings and experiences are interesting or helpful to others. It’s also difficult. Difficult because I always want to be real, true, honest… and it’s not always easy to be those things.

Like today, for instance… I started and stopped a separate post because, in all honesty, it was bringing me down just to write it. Lord only knows how someone would feel reading it! I don’t feel it’s fair to share stuff that is just depressing. I have depression… I don’t want to make it worse for anyone else. Then I wonder if I am doing a disservice to myself to set that post aside if that’s how I really feel. So here I am. I decided to take a different perspective on how I feel to see if that works better.

I have had a pretty up and down time for a while. Physically I still flare, I know this is not going to every go away completely. Life with Fibromyalgia. This Essential Tremor shit is uncool. I mean seriously, what the f*ck? Anxious? Nervous? Worried? Angry? Frustrated? Stressed? Basically ANYTHING that is not calm or relaxed and my head just nods and my hands shake… I have to use my muscles to make it stop. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable or even myself, for that matter. Sometimes I don’t notice it, but that’s pretty rare. I would just prefer noone else notice it… My anxiety? Well, through the roof these days. I keep telling myself… “Give it to God“, but my anxiety keeps telling me “ummmmm, NO!”. (I’d say “Hell NO!”, it just seems wrong in the same sentence as “Give it to God”. Oh wait, I said it anyway.) That battle between me and my anxiety goes on for at least an hour or two throughout every single day. ADD? Yes it’s there, but on average I seem to be managing this okay… and let’s not forget the ever-present black hole… the opening to enter is not big enough for me to fit in at the moment, so I won’t give it much real estate other than to say, fighting Depression is also a daily battle.

Oh! Did I tell you I started the big M? Menopause. No period? No complaints from me! I have discovered a miracle cream though. It seems to help with my mood, maybe a little with the migraines, feels like it’s helping my energy. It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that I started walking around the same time this cream and I became besties. I don’t like promoting products, but this one has really been one of the few things that I know really helps me. [Pro-Gest Natural Progesterone Cream Paraben Free 2 Oz From Emerita] I don’t want to debate the pros and cons of this specific product, just that if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of menopause, you may want to consider trying a progesterone cream.

I am not sure why I have been afflicted with all these illnesses. I still hope to wake up one day and not have any of this. Hope… Dream… Believe… it does keep me going. We all need to hope, dream, believe about something!

Here’s the main thing. We all wake up (well we certainly hope we will wake up), and some of us struggle to get out of bed, some of us struggle to walk, some of us struggle with the fog that encases our brain… unfortunately some of us struggle with all three of those things and more… but we all start the day with the option to have hope that today will be a good day, to dream that tomorrow will be better, to BELIEVE that we can manage our pain so we can live our lives. If we choose to start the day any other way, we make it so much harder for ourselves. We have to be our own cheerleaders in life. It’s so much better to live rather than just get through another day. It is not easy, but it’s soooo worth it!

Fight those demons, the anxiety monster, the black hole of depression, the little voice whispering in your ear that your pain is too much and you can’t do anything… you can always do something. Be proud of the fact you are able to get out of bed today, that you are able to get dressed … small successes are so much better than feeling like a failure. Kick the ass of this negative shit in your life and empower yourself to be strong.

Noone can take away how special you are or how damn strong you are to deal with this shit every day. Don’t let anyone take away your power.

I admit, I got a little riled up there for a minute, but sometimes we all need a little kick in the ass to remind us that we are special… God chose us to share with those who are suffering that people with pain can and do live a good life. Now go have a great day and live your life!

Thanks for stopping by!

Stay cool.

Tamiko

Day 30: My Word Tree…

Today’s Prompt: Word Cloud. Make a word cloud or tree with a list of words that come to mind when you think about your blog, health, or interests.

Today is the last day of the WEGO Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. I did it! As the final post, I have created this tree in answer to the prompt… enjoy!

Day 13: 10 Things I Can’t Live Without

I am participating in the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. Please visit WEGO Health’s blog and the WEGO Facebook page to find other writers tackling the same topics—or sign up for the challenge yourself!

I like this prompt, it makes me realize how blessed I really am. I have all of this in my life today and as long as I have God in my life, anything is possible. What a great way to start the day! Imagine a life without Tivo or my laptop or the internet … it actually seems kinda nice.

God

My family

My friends

Laughter

Freedom

Books

Music

The beach

Blue Skies

70 degree weather

Day 10: Dear 16-year old me…

Hey girl,

You have experienced a lot in your first 16 years. I am writing this letter to you to share with you how I am feeling about where you are in your life and I also want to spread a little knowledge from my life experiences. Knowing you, it will take some time to digest any advice to determine whether or not it’s worth your while to pay attention to it. I understand, all I ask is that you read this letter through to the end and keep an open mind.

First, let me tell you how I see you as a person, and honestly, how I believe the world sees you. It’s important, for me, that you hear this from me as one of my hopes for you is that you never question these things. I get that, at your age, it’s difficult to deal with all the pressures socially, educationally and emotionally. Just know that you are loved, most importantly.

  • You are beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  • You are strong… you are so strong. Don’t let this strength get in the way. Don’t confuse strength with pride. Strength will hold you up (with God’s help) in difficult and challenging times. Pride will pull you down if you let it get in the way. It’s okay to be wrong, and it’s even better if you can admit it (out loud).
  • You are giving and loyal. These are awesome attributes and will bring wonderful people into your life. Save that loyalty for those that treat you with the respect and love that you deserve.
  • You are smart. You are smart. I’ll say it again… You. Are. Smart. Give yourself a break. You do not have to know everything. It’s okay to ask for help, it will make your life easier if you learn how to ask for help now vs. when you are older. People want to help you, you just have to let them in.
  • Spontaneity is a wonderful thing… keep it up!
  • You are intuitive, use that to help yourself and others. Use that when making choices that may change the course of your life… those choices that will make an impact in just one moment.

Below are some of the things, looking back in my life that I’ve learned, that I hope will help you grow as a person…

  • Your life is precious and it’s a gift. It can be taken away at any moment. Push all the negative people, images, stuff away and close the door on it. No need to let that back in your life. If someone or something is not bringing joy or uplifting your spirit or teaching you something that will make you a better person… remove them or it from your life. It may not be easy, but you will feel better without that negativity.
  • Give people a chance. They will make mistakes and there will be times when you will get hurt, but your true friends will always be there for and with you through thick and thin. It’s not the quantity of friends in your life, it’s definitely the quality. I truly believe less is more when it comes to friends. Invest your time in friendships that don’t involve manipulation, lies, judgement, insecurity…
  • Take the time to enjoy life. If you are always worrying or wishing for what you want to happen next, you are not able to enjoy what you have now… and I believe you are blessed. You have a lot to be thankful for.
  • There’s a time and a place for everything in your life. There’s a time to work, a time to learn, a time to play, a time to rest…  keep a balance so at the end of each day, you feel good about yourself.
  • Watch the world around you and take the good from what you see. Leave judgement to God. Everybody is human, makes mistakes, has a bad day… or just maybe needs a friend to uplift them. You can do that, do your best to uplift others, not judge, criticize, embarrass… Treat every person you meet with respect and dignity.
  • Love yourself and others will love you. Treat yourself kind.

The reason why you feel down and you have a difficult time in school is not because you are crazy or because you are stupid or because you can’t hack it… you have Depression and ADD. It’s not the end of the world, you can manage your mental health so that you can be successful. Educate yourself.

You only get one life, make wise choices so you will live a long, healthy, happy and content life. Your friendships and relationships with family will support you through the good and the difficult. I hope and pray you will marry a man who you will be happy with every day. Someone who you can share anything and everything with and build a forever live with.

I have learned many lessons the hard way. The most difficult has been believing my body would always be there, no matter how I treated it. This, I can tell you, is not true. I am a middle-aged woman with the body of a 90-year old. I have Fibromyalgia now and I believe one of the main reasons is because I didn’t keep a balance in my younger years. I worked and worked and worked until my body said “NO MORE!”. What I worked and worked for, at the end of the day, was not worth what I am dealing with now. I could have spent more time with my family, I could have spent more time reading a book and relaxing, I could have traveled more… there’s so many “I could have’s”. I hope you take this to heart and make different choices in your life.

Most important… have faith. With God on your side, you can do no better!

God Bless you.

Pain and Parenting

We have a son in college and a daughter in middle school. Both of our kids are amazing. I thank God every day for keeping them safe and healthy. I know that there is only so much I can do in the short time I have with them before they go off on their own, only so much advice I can attempt to give.

My life as a parent is challenging living with the illnesses I have. The best I am able to do is to share my experience living with depression and ADD and try not to feel guilty for the disabilities I have with my pain (both physical and mental).

Guilt is like stress – it’s a killer. I have a lot of it when it comes to being a parent.

B.F. (Before FMS), I was a serious work-a-holic. I worked 14 sometimes 16 hour days, 7 days a week. I would literally roll out of bed and start working, drive to the office and work until late at night and drive home, check my email again and then just barely make it in the bed… sleep a few hours and do it all over again. I did this until my body broke. I went from crazy, insane drive myself to exhaustion on a daily basis to never being able to recover again because I was broken. Years later to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

My children have… suffered is a strong word, but they have had to adapt to me being unavailable due to my work and then unavailable due to my pain. When I say there is guilt there, that’s an understatement. There are a lot of times when I feel like a failure simply because I can’t drive. Those people who complain about “taxi’ing” their children around have no idea what I’d do to provide that service. I see that time as a good opportunity to have 1:1 time with the kids, my husband has learned a lot in the times he has driven the kids around.

It takes a lot to work full-time and manage this crazy illness. I know a lot of people do it, this definitely helps me to have hope. But, I’m telling you – by the time Wednesday rolls around I’m starting to get very tired. Thursday? Counting the hours and on Friday! Just forget it! By late morning I can barely hang on. The week-ends are about trying to relax and not over-do it so I can start all over on Monday.

How does this work with parenting?

It’s definitely about teamwork. Although sometimes I get very jealous. My husband does it all… he cooks for the family, he transports, he does the shopping, he is the “go to” guy in the house. I know I shouldn’t be jealous, but I want to be that person… I want to be the “go to” gal. The problem is, I’m in no condition to do what he does. I’m unreliable. I’m inconsistent. At the end of the day, literally, my husband really IS the guy. If it wasn’t for him this family wouldn’t function.

Reconciling these emotions that I have is tough. How can I be upset when everyone is being taken care of? I should not be complaining, I should be happy. It’s a blessing. At the root of all this, I want to contribute. Practically and emotionally. Not being physically or mentally able to do this kills me. I feel guilty that I am not able to do more, that I didn’t make the choice to do more when I was working all those hours. Like I said… guilt is a killer. I can’t let it win.

I know, in my heart, that my children love me. I know that my working provides for the family. I know that I can’t do it all or, a lot of the times, even more than what I do. It’s up to me to accept who I am today and constantly strive to be a better and good person. I know God has a defined plan for all of us. All of this, I know. But still, I struggle with the constant roller coaster of feeling okay, feeling great, feeling okay, feeling like shit, feeling okay, feeling great! That roller coaster creates a lot of frustrating emotions and wreaks havoc on any kind of planning in my life. This makes it tough to be an active participant in the family, hell it makes it tough to be an active participant in LIFE.

The pain, mental and physical, is not a small issue in parenting. I can’t expect my kids to know what I’m going through and how it affects my behaviour and communication. It’s not their responsibility to figure it out, they have their own lives to lead. It’s up to me to do a better job of communicating and work on patience and mastering mindfulness thoughts.

Don’t let the pain win, right? Mindful meditation, prayer, yoga… all these things are helping me make it through. We have all had and will continue to have challenges that we face, it’s all in how we face them to get to the other side.

As always, I’d love to hear your comments. Thanks for stopping by!

Stay super cool!

Tamiko

From the depths of Hell, I am coming back to life.

Wow, time flies by when you aren’t blogging! I was doing good for a while and then I hit a real low with my pain and depression and life just seemed to stop. Of course there’s not much one can do when feeling like shit… except of course, obsess about how you are feeling like shit.

Meds can be the best thing ever OR they can just fuck with you, excuse my language. I was on the same med cocktail for years. I knew and know that it’s the integrative approach to managing Fibromyalgia that makes life… well, manageable. BUT, I gotta tell you, my meds were seriously making my life Hell. I didn’t realize how truly fucked up my crisis was until I started really contemplating suicide on a daily, almost hourly basis. I lived through about six weeks of the darkest time I have ever experienced. It has taken me a couple weeks just to really realize how close to the edge I was.

Thank God, and I do mean the big guy above, I had the sense of mind to call for help. I talked to my psychiatrist, I talked to my primary care doctor, I talked to the Pain doctor and nurses and I talked to my OB-GYN. Kaiser was awesome, they helped to save my life. Everyone was persistent in making sure I did something. It was frustrating trying to convey what I was going through, but I spent hours, literally four and five hours scouring the internet for information every day. I was obsessed about the latest news and information on Fibromyalgia, depression and the approaches to manage. I finally concluded I needed to change my meds and thankfully, working with my doctors I pushed hard until I got everyone on the same page with the approach I wanted to take.

You know, I am not sure if it was the pain that aggravated the depression or the depression that aggravated the pain during this crisis. I do know I have been under a ton of stress; the weather was constantly changing, it was raining and then sunny every other day; and Lord knows (as all of you do), that sleep was non-existent. All of this added up to not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. I felt like I was a huge burden on my husband, family and friends and just couldn’t see how I could live out the rest of my life in that hell.

How could I communicate to anyone that I was feeling like I just needed to get out of my misery? It’s weak, it’s unfair, it’s hurtful… but most of all it’s SELFISH. I know all of this and I didn’t want to hurt anyone, most importantly my kids. This was the only thing that kept me going. I didn’t know how to talk to anyone, I am a very private person – and the thought of showing, what I felt was weakness, was unfathomable. I couldn’t bring myself to say it out loud. After days turned into weeks and the weeks just kept passing and things weren’t getting better – I finally talked to my husband. To be honest, it made me feel even worse. He was so devastated (and rightfully so), I just felt like an even bigger loser with a capital “L”. What the fuck was wrong with me? I know it’s not a weakness to commit suicide, you must have commitment and the strength to follow through with the act – but it is quitting, quitting on life, which is a weakness to me.

Well, I am happy to say, now that I am on the other side of that nightmare. This was not a case of suicidal depression. This was, in my mind, for the most part due to the meds (like 99.99%). I read a lot of reviews from people taking Topamax that they experienced the same thing I did. I felt so thankful to know I wasn’t the only one. Topamax was my savior drug when I first started taking it, and it worked for a long time. I was very confused as to why it betrayed me so suddenly without any indication. This drug has been used a lot for fibromites to help with the nerve pain. If you read up on it, it has all the side effects that are symptomatic of Fibromyalgia. I asked all my doctors how I would know if my issues were due to the medication or my FMS. Each doctor said, it was a great question, and that they didn’t know. What the hell? I wanted answers, instead I got confirmation that my concern and confusion was a “great question”. In the end, the mystery of whether or not the drug was making me worse, the many reviews and the way I was feeling were the basis for my decision to get off that drug.

I decided to take a different approach and manage my depression and my pain separately from a drug perspective. I was on Cymbalta for both and I chose to stop. Again, not sure whether or not that drug was an issue for me as well. Oh my Lord, have you seen all the issues people have with getting themselves off that drug? There is a website just dedicated to all the issues with going off Cymbalta. Thousands of people have provided their nightmares out there on the internet, I was extremely nervous about stopping the drug. But I know that after literally spending hundreds of hours researching options, the one that I have chosen is what I want for myself. The options I reviewed: going all natural and off prescription drugs, I looked at diets, I looked at medical marijuana, I read everything I could possibly find. At the end of the day I decided to go with new meds and a gluten-free diet.

I am now on my last few days of Cymbalta and I am feeling markedly better than at my lowest point. I am off Topamax and I went through one cycle of PMS without feeling like I was in the pit of Hell (for the first time in at least a year). I have taken five weeks to cycle off Cymbalta, I decided to take it much slower than the doctor advised based on everything I read. I went down 20mg a week and I don’t think I felt any major side affects. At the same time I slowly started and increased my new anti-depressant. I am also on my third week of being almost 100% gluten-free. (I am still learning what it means to live a gluten-free life.)

Due to the interactions, I have had to wait to start taking my new pain medication until I am off the Cymbalta. It hasn’t been easy but, trust me, I would much rather have pain than the depression I was experiencing. It’s been a worthwhile process. I am starting to see friends again, which is a sign for me that life is becoming bearable. After months of living in greys and black, I am starting to see shades of color.

The lesson I learned is that I should never feel suicidal. No matter how bad things feel or seem in my mind – suicide is not an option. I need to review my meds on a regular basis and make sure that they are working. I know that I have clinical depression and that I need to manage it. I am responsible for my own health, I need to take it seriously and continue to make it a priority.

I’ve been reading FibroWHYalgia, (an excellent book, if you haven’t picked it up I highly recommend it), the author Sue Ingebretson says that making “I am” statements is not good for your psyche. I have really thought about that lately and I notice that I say “I am in pain” almost every day. If I am going to manage my thoughts, understanding that what you think is what you are, saying “I am in pain” dooms me to be in pain. It’s a great point! Changing the mindset is another new challenge for me.

This is a long blog, but it’s so important for me to share with you that you need to monitor and manage your health as diligently as your highest priority. You need to watch for signs that something is wrong and not assume it’s “you”, that it may, in fact be due to your medication. I urge you to journal your daily pain and mood levels, in addition to your exercise and what you are eating as well as the medications and supplements you are putting in your body. Keep in touch with your doctors (don’t let them forget who you are!), make them listen to you or get a new one. YOU are responsible for your health and no one but you can determine if what you are experiencing is “normal” to you.

I am a very private person, but I feel strongly that if this can help someone, it’s important to share. Thank you for reading. Take some time to relax, meditate and breathe.

Stay cool!

Tamiko

What Would You Do? Stand Up For Your Pain!

The cameras are rolling…. All eyes on you…. You have probably seen the TV show, “What Would You Do?” I was going to blog about a situation I was in a couple of weeks ago. A truly, stupid situation that I needed some time to get through, mellow out and say to myself, GET THE HELL OVER IT! I wanted to vent and get that shit out of my system, but it would not have helped and it would not have helped any of you! I have to keep reminding myself every hour, every minute of the day to stay positive these days. It’s a challenge, but sometimes that’s what one has to do. Right now, that’s what it is. Prayer and giving my cares and worries over to God is what I’m doing.

My life has been seriously out of balance. Work has been crazy busy – way too many hours. Family and friends close to me are in need of God’s healing hands. The weather has been crazy, mostly rainy and cold. I’ve been in a constant flare for what seems like forever – it’s only been a few weeks. For the first time in a long time I have increased my dose on one of my meds. It sucks, I don’t know if any of you feel this way, but increasing meds makes me feel like a failure, like I’m not managing my pain like I’m supposed to. I agree to a certain extent that I shouldn’t feel that way, but at the same time, I also feel I should be in control of my body. FMS is a crazy place to live. Depression has stolen a lot of my mind the past few weeks and I really want it back. I have fought and fought and fought, I FINALLY feel like I may be starting to come back, it’s so damn hard. It’s like climbing up hill through quicksand (because I have done that before, right?). Trust me, my family really, REALLY prefer the not deeply depressed mother/ wife over the scary/ ugly mean lady that’s been living in the house lately. She scares me too.

Speaking of my family, well specifically my husband… I am not CO-dependent, I am SOUL-dependent (and yes I meant to spell it that way) on (on? of? to?) my husband. I have been blessed with a husband who takes wonderful care of me. He does everything for my children and me. He literally does all the cooking, cleaning, driving, care-taking… this man does my hair, when my daughter isn’t doing it! He also deals with all that comes with chronic pain and depression, oh yeah and let’s not forget – throw in a little bit of ADD. What an effed-up combination! After almost 25 years together he has to be wondering what the hell he signed up for!! There is no return policy here. He had 30 days, but those days have passed and he’s now stuck with me. Thank God!

So! I started out talking about a TV show that puts folks in really awkward situations. A show that ultimately pushes those same to people make uncomfortable decisions. Now I ask you, when you are in a situation where you need to stand up for your pain, do you? Do you stand up for your pain or do you end up suffering? I made a decision to stand up for my pain and I also ended up suffering because I stood up. I am happy I made that decision because I was able to really see some true colors come out.

At the end of the day, most of us can barely stand up for long periods of a time, so why suffer any more than you have to, right? I mean, c’mon! Please do yourself righteous and STAND UP FOR YOUR PAIN!

Thanks for reading! Please tell me what you think, leave your comments and, as always, stay cool!

Tamiko