I had the privilege of guest posting on ProHealth this month. I hope you enjoy!
ProHealth: Words to Help You Get Through the Day
Words To Help You Get Through The Day
By Tamiko Arbuckle
Do you have words that help you get through the day? I have a few words that are always on my mind. Abundance… Gratitude… Perspective. As I hit roadblocks or start to spiral down that black hole, I try to focus on these words. It doesn’t work all the time, but when I am able to get out of my own way (trust me, I am very good at getting in my own way!), these words help me see the light in the darkness. We could all use a little (or a lot in my case) more light! Why these words?
Abundance – I learned many years ago from a very, very dear friend that whether I’m creating a fruit platter or putting flowers in a vase – the end result should always look abundant. With everything I do, I try to think with abundance. In my professional life, it’s not easy managing my pain and working full-time, but to work with abundance means being available, exceeding expectations and working with the right attitude. In my personal life… in our personal lives (my husband and I), living with abundance means not taking anything for granted and sharing our blessings. Living an abundant life, for me, is what give my life purpose.
Gratitude – One of my 2016 goals is to keep a gratitude journal every day. I believe for those of us suffering from chronic pain and depression or anyone that is dealing with a chronic condition – no matter the issue – taking the time throughout the day to identify what you are grateful for is important. Each night before I go to bed I have been taking 15 minutes to journal the moments from that day that I am grateful for and I include a picture. I also track my mood and pain daily. It forces me to do a couple things:
I consciously take at least one picture a day that represents something good/happy, which means I have to stop and recognize that there is at least one good moment in my day.
I have to end my day thinking good thoughts.
Even on my worst days… and lately I have had quite a few bad days, I find that while life is challenging there is still so much to be grateful for. I have also found that when I finish my journal for the day, I go back through my timeline and re-discover all the great memories I have experienced to date in 2016. It provides that added validation that my life is often so much more blessed than I realize.
Perspective – With everything going on in this world and in our lives, it’s so easy to get lost in all the sadness and crazy and get stressed, depressed, angry, frustrated – all the negative emotions that lead to physical and emotional pain. Perspective. I find myself saying that to people a lot. I need perspective every now and then to identify that what is happening in my life is far less traumatic, far less horrible than people that are living in war, picking up the pieces after a natural disasters… just really not so bad when I have friends dealing with the grief of losing a loved one, managing through a debilitating illness or some other personal tragedy. In those moments when I start to feel sorry for myself, perspective makes all the difference… and in 100% of the times, it leads to gratitude.
In my worst pain – I still have so much to be grateful for. On these days, while journaling, I find myself realizing how blessed I am to have the most supportive, loving friends and family… I have a roof over my head… I have a job that allows me to work from home and with flexible hours… I have transportation… I have food in my fridge… my children are healthy and on great paths in their lives… I live in the most beautiful place… I could go on and on, but you get the gist of it. I am blessed.
The last six months have been very trying for me. My body has flared every other week and I have worked through some extremely difficult personal events. It’s a learning experience every time. I know, from a “I have learned all the coping skills” perspective what I should be doing to manage my physical and emotional pain, but what I know and what I do are not aligned most of the time. Being healthy takes work. It’s an investment that I lose sight of all the time. It’s my responsibility to take care of myself so I am able to take care of others (you know the drill… put the oxygen mask on yourself before anyone else). Each time I go through these difficult times, I have to re-learn the good habits. And each time I have to forgive myself and accept that this is not easy.
These three words – Abundance, Gratitude and Perspective – help me. I should also add Forgiveness. We all have to be able to forgive ourselves; it’s not our fault we have these chronic conditions. We have to be able to forgive ourselves when we have bad days (self inflicted from eating that chocolate cake or the weather changing… you know what I mean).
I hope you have your owns words to help you get through the day. No matter what, know you are awesome! Don’t let this medical stuff take away your ability to be happy. We can be happy, we can have lives and we can be successful at anything we put our mind to. Believe it!
Tamiko Arbuckle was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2008 after many years of living in pain. She shares her experiences with fibromyalgia, depression, ADD and other assorted diagnoses on her blog My Foggy Brain. You can follow Tamiko on Twitter at @myfoggybrain
I have been suffering with severe brain fog for 6 years (I am 22 years old and female). My brain fog has gradually gotten worse over the years. At first I didn’t really think much of it, but after a few years of progressively feeling “weirder”, I knew I needed to see a doctor and discuss these problems I was having (and at the time I didn’t even know what brain fog was). It all started in my senior year of high school when something “just felt off”. I felt like sometimes I would catch my self completely spaced out staring at something and then all of the sudden my balance would get thrown off and I would almost fall over. It also felt like my vision was getting worse and I couldn’t see things as clearly as I used to. It felt like something in my brain had just turned off. In addition, I had almost no energy and felt the need to take long naps everyday after school and had such a hard time waking up in the morning. This is when I started drinking coffee and it made mornings so much easier but still something just didn’t feel right. I went away to college after my senior year and I have to admit, I did start drinking alcohol A LOT and basically only eating foods in the cafeteria such as pizza and other high carbohydrate foods. I would get INTENSE hangovers, like way worse than usual. I had to sleep at least 10-12 hours a night in order to wake up refreshed each day. That year, I felt like I was getting very shaky/ anxious, and not just with my mood, like it actually felt like my body was shaking from within and I was about to have a seizure. I can remember certain occasions where I was sitting in class and I had to hold on to the desk because I constantly felt like I was just going to seize out and fall to the floor. From this point, I started only sitting in seats in class where I could lean against a wall and lean my head back. For a small period of time, college had gotten really stressful (but honestly not for too long). I began getting into some trouble due to drinking and partying but I got it under control fast. As you can imagine, drinking was making my symptoms 100x worse so I began to cut down on how much I would drink. At this point in my life I am probably a year and a half without alcohol (with a drink or two rarely here and there).
Let me list my symptoms before I continue:
Inability to concentrate
Inability to think and solve problems
Feels like my brain is in a cloud separating me from reality
Feeling of being mentally detached from the world and a physical detachment between my body and brain
I can never come up with the words to say to people
I have become very antisocial as it is very hard to socialize and meet new people
Other than a few close friends and my boyfriend and family, I do not talk to people because it honestly makes me very nervous (which is totally unlike me). I used to be super outgoing before this and I loved everyone! I still do love people and really want to talk to people but I just cannot find the words to say…..
Very low energy/ fatigue
Constant state of fog (this does not come or go, I feel this way 24/7)
Lack of clarity
Feeling like my mind needs to break through a wall in order to be back to normal
Some memory problems but nothing too severe
Basically ZERO reading comprehension
Everything just feels like it isn’t real
Spaced out/ zoned out
Everything seems so close yet so far
When I was probably 20 is when I really started to seek professional help because I was actually nervous that I was slowly dying. I first saw my primary care doctor and discussed all of my symptoms with him and basically got the look of you’re crazy and this isn’t real. He prescribed allergy medicine, anxiety medicine, and recommended that I see a shrink and talk about my stress. I also got an inhaler and was told I had asthma? Honestly I didn’t see the need to talk to a therapist because I wasn’t depressed or stressed at the time. I honestly felt like everything in my life was perfect besides that fact that my brain wasn’t working normally. But nevertheless I took the medicine he prescribed but did not see any results after a few months so I stopped. He recommended that I see an ENT to get tested for vertigo and imbalance problems, but these tests came back normal too. Then I began to think maybe this isn’t real? Maybe this is just life? I began going on with my normal life thinking that this should just go away in time.
About a year ago I started taking this seriously again and realizing that this isn’t just going to go away on its own. I began to think that maybe I have a brain injury, or had a concussion that I didn’t know about from some drunken related injury. I then saw a neurologist and had an MRI. My results were fine and he gave me the same look like I am crazy and overreacting about life and sent me on my way with no answers. This made me so angry. I knew I wasn’t crazy and I knew there was something seriously wrong, but WHAT? I just want to know what it is so badly!
I was able to graduate college with a 3.7 GPA but honestly don’t remember too much of what I’ve learned or how I even passed. One day, I spoke to my college roommates doctor (who is a functional neurologist) at a birthday party (small back story– my roommate had a concussion and has been experiencing brain fog also). Her doctor told me to try a gluten free diet. I did a lot of research on gluten and I honestly thought this was it, it sounded like exactly what I needed. I ate gluten free for about 4 months and then realized that a lot of gluten-free foods were very high in carbohydrates and other processed substances. SO then I made the very brave decision to go on a completely paleo diet. I was only eating fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts, eggs…..no dairy, no gluten, no soy, no anything good basically. This was very hard for me as I ate brownies and pizza almost everyday. I also am not overweight, I have been roughly 115-120lbs since middle school. After a few months of this new paleo diet I was feeling no differences really. The only thing that this diet has improved is not felling like I need to sleep 12 hours each night, and my body no longer feels so shaky. My energy and sleep quality has honestly improved but this brain fog is still ever so present.
This takes us up until about a month ago when I started looking into Candida. I should mention that I do endless hours of internet searching each day trying to figure out what is wrong with me. A Candida Overgrowth kind of sounded like it was it. But this required zero sugar which caused me to cut fruit out of my diet. I probably have the most boring meals ever and I honestly do not enjoy eating like this. All I want is a brownie and milk….. Anyways I recently got tested at my gynecologist for candida overgrowth. My urine test came back negative and I was so disappointed. Although, I was reading online that many times these tests come back negative and that it is very difficult to test for Candida. I recently stopped drinking coffee and it is making me even more depressed with no energy.
I also feel like I need to constantly eat all day long and if I stop for like an hour and a half I start to get very spaced out and nervous and my brain fog gets much worse. The lowest point in this whole process is when I was driving home from work one night after not eating for probably 3 hours. I was stopped at a red light and I completely blacked out for about 5 seconds. Next thing I knew I was in the middle of the intersection with a car who had just slammed on its breaks in front of me to prevent hitting me. This was probably the scariest moment of my life but I had absolutely no recollection of what just happened and how I got into the middle of the intersection.
At this point in my life I am almost 23 years old and I know that I should not be feeling this awful in my early 20’s and I just have no idea what is wrong with me. I hate seeing doctors because they always make me feel 10x worse coming out because they make me feel like I am a hypochondriac. I feel very hopeless at this point and I feel like this is never going to go away or it will take 10 years to get rid of. I have never wanted so badly just to be a normal person and to be able to think. I recently quit my job because I literally cannot function in society. I began meditating but this is the last thing I can think of to do to help me. It feels like there is a curtain that needs to go up for this to go away and then I would be the happiest person in the world.
I would appreciate if anyone has any suggestions to what could me wrong with me. I am ever so hopeless and discouraged about life and really don’t know what to do anymore. I just want to be free from this. Thank you for listening!
Hi Elise –
I apologize for the delay in responding. I am so sorry you are going through all this. I am not a doctor, but I would suggest, based on my personal experience that you should keep pushing until you get some type of answer. I have gotten the “you are crazy” look from doctors for many years now. It’s never going to go away… unfortunately. I had it today, in fact. You just can’t let the doctors off the hook… I agree with you… you are too young to have these issues without a reason behind it. Have you had your blood sugar tested? Do you have diabetes in your family?
I am happy to be a sounding board for you, someone to vent to… feel free to send me an email.
Best of luck.