Quarantine Life Before Corona

It’s weird seeing some of the parallels from my life when I suddenly got sick with a chronic, debilitating illness and the pandemic. People are describing emotions that the COVID-19 quarantine is bringing out that I felt when I suddenly got sick six years ago. I’ve been handling each step of the way a little better than you would expect from someone who does deal with anxiety, but after thinking about it a little, I attribute a lot of that to having experienced something that was, emotionally, kind of similar. Chronically ill people were prepared for this in a way that the regular population maybe wasn’t as much. Here are some thoughts I’ve had, both in isolating at home now, and back when I first got sick.


What would my life look like if it wasn’t for health concerns?

Back in the day I thought about this a lot because I was forced to give up my dream of continuing to work at my dream job. I had just completed the greatest internship of all time at Seventeen magazine in New York City, and was so excited to find a cozy (some might call it cramped) apartment to move to permanently. Instead of continuing on a normal path, though, I began fighting to have any taste of normalcy I could get. I got incredibly sick overnight and suddenly went from being a healthy 22-year-old to not being able to sit or stand without feeling dizzy or passing out. I was couch bound with the exception of going to the cardiologist or physical therapy to figure out how to begin my road to recovery.

Now I sometimes think about what the world would be like without all the corona craziness that’s going on. I would be able to see all of my friends and family, I would be able to go on normal date nights, and I would be able to continue to explore the world. I try to feel content being at home and remind myself how blessed I am to have my health and a few loved ones here with me. This time around, I’m just home bound — not tethered to the couch because of a lack of health. I’m trying to appreciate the fact that I am healthy during the pandemic, push myself to do yoga in the basement, and realize that things could be a whole lot worse. Not having a working body makes you feel so much more trapped than a comfortable home filled with food and an Internet connection.

This isn’t fair. 

No, it’s not. I’ve learned a lot of things in life aren’t fair. It wasn’t fair that I had secured my dream job, only to be hit over the head with an illness that knocked me on my butt. I was angry because I had always taken good care of myself. I ran several days a week, played intramural sports throughout college, and ate well despite having a good enough metabolism not to. I never drank excessively and wasn’t really risky with anything that had to do with my health. I didn’t pay a crazy amount of attention to it because I didn’t have to, but I actually did a good job maintaining a very healthy lifestyle. I felt so frustrated that I had done everything right and ended up being the one person I knew who had a crazy, weird health problem happen to them. It didn’t feel real, but being sick was my new reality.

We need to have a new normal with the reality of the coronavirus pandemic. It sucks not being able to do our favorite activities or see friends and family, but taking up new hobbies and finding the bright side of things is so important for our mental health.

Having a chronic illness made me realize that even though there may be unfair things that happen to you that suck, there is always something to be joyful for. Back then I got to spend quality time with friends and family. I learned that I am a lot tougher than I ever thought, and I learned that I need to be thankful for every single thing I am able to do, because some people aren’t as lucky as me. I am also convinced that I would have never met my husband, had I not gotten sick with POTS. The only reason I wasn’t in New York was because I had to stay in the area, and who knows what my life would look like now if I had been there instead. These are all blessings that came from the hardest thing that ever happened to me.

When will this end?

When I got sick with POTS I was told so many different things. “This is your life now, you’re not getting better” was the first thing a nurse told me. Later I was reassured that a majority of people who get POTS when they are young get a whole lot better in time. Since POTS hasn’t been studied as long as other illnesses, there weren’t always answers to my questions, but luckily through lots of physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and time, I’ve made leaps and bounds and know how to manage my health. I have far, far less bad days than good ones now.

It’s absolutely devastating having your life turn upside down and your routine completely trashed. Anyone with a chronic illness will tell you this. We’ll also be there to reassure you, though, that just because things change drastically doesn’t mean they’re forever — but perhaps more important, it doesn’t mean you won’t have joy in your life or that you’re doomed to feeling the way you do today. People are adaptable and learn to adjust to their circumstances. If you had told me everything I was about to go through right before I got sick, I would have had an absolute meltdown. I wouldn’t have been able to deal with knowing I wouldn’t be able to merely stand up without passing out, but you know what? I got through it. I somehow managed being genuinely happy the years I couldn’t even stand up or have a single normal day. Did I mention during this time I couldn’t go to restaurants, I couldn’t shop for my own groceries, and I even had to be taken home from the movie theater because the room was violently spinning around me, just from sitting upright? Do you see a few parallels between being chronically ill and being stuck at home because of COVID-19? The biggest difference for me is the fact that this time around I can actually move around and be more active, and don’t feel sick all the freaking time.

Take it one day at a time.

The easiest way to do anything difficult is take it one day at a time. When I got sick, I didn’t let myself think about what it would be like in one, five, or ten years if I still couldn’t get out of the house and do anything. Instead, I found things to look forward to every day, even if it was just a little TV show or eating one of my favorite foods. Now, under the stay-at-home order, I don’t think about how long it will be until I can see family and friends or go out to a restaurant again. I look for other things to occupy my mind, rather than spiraling about things I have no control over. This is so much easier said than done and if you slip up you need to be gentle with yourself, but there’s no shame in asking for help if you need it. Therapy can be an amazing way to help control anxiety, and even in these strange times people are doing sessions online or over the phone. Learning to be present and appreciate what you do have can be really hard in the face of adversity, but it’s the most rewarding thing you can learn how to do.

It’s okay to miss your old life.

Just don’t make it out to be something it wasn’t. I had to remind myself that even though I lost a working body, life hadn’t been all sunshine and rainbows before I got sick. I loved to run, but going for ten miles at a time was not a walk in the park. My lungs hurt, my legs burned, and I have always gotten bad shin splints from running. Now that I can’t, I often think about how much I loved it, but running isn’t always easy. Our lives in this weird little quarantine bubble have some bright spots we’ll miss. Whether it’s having your family at home with you, being able to binge on all the reality TV you didn’t have time to watch before, or being able to work in your pajamas, there are things that are good about the present time. We miss so much that we used to do on a regular basis or took for granted, but one day we’ll be back to our normal lives and look back at this as a little blip in our lives.

It’s also okay to be scared.

Losing every sense of normalcy is freaking hard. Find things to look forward to in your new life, and remember that so much of this is temporary. The pandemic isn’t going to last forever, and one day we will be out doing our own grocery shopping and going into work again. It’s so weird that we are all facing this uncertainty at once, but none of us are truly alone, and I think just about everyone has had a pit in their stomach at one point or another about how this is affecting each and every one of us. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable about something as big as this, but doing your best to focus on what you can control — and letting go of the things you can’t — does make the weight feel a little less of a burden.

And finally, circumstances change.

I am so thankful to have the health I do today. I get frustrated and angry when I try to go for a run and my heart can’t handle it, but I am so lucky to be able to go for walks without feeling dizzy, type on my computer without having terrible muscle pain, and I can cook now without worrying about my elbows or arms hurting — even if there is a lot of stirring involved. Things are constantly changing, and it is no different for the pandemic. Incredible minds are working to find solutions to this every single day, and I am confident that people are going to find ways for our lives to slowly gain a sense of normalcy.

I honestly don’t remember a lot of what life before chronic illness was like, in the sense that it’s difficult for me to feel like POTS was ever not here. I have to do a lot to manage my symptoms now, but everything has become such habit at this point that it doesn’t feel weird putting little electrolyte and sodium tablets in my water every time I go out to eat and I’m used to doing nerve glides and mobility work at the first sign of stiffness. This all feels so normal to me, so even if we do have some things that become a new normal, we’ll adjust. People are much more resilient and adaptable than we give ourselves credit for. I am not particularly strong or tough, and I really don’t like change. If I can go through years of being sick and dealing with a million changes, absolutely anyone can. We may not all be in the same boat, but we are all in this together, and don’t ever hesitate to reach out to others if you need help. Many people are looking for ways to help others, but just don’t know how.

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I stumbled upon the Bible verse Isaiah 41:13 at the beginning of the pandemic, and keep it in the back of my mind when I have my moments of panic. I also think about how beautiful the world is, and how perfectly everything was made. Peaks and valleys in nature remind me of what life can be like, and we just happen to all be in a valley right now. I know one day we’ll turn a corner, though, and things will be much brighter than they seem right now.

Monday, Day 40

Mondays are always the ones where I feel a mild sense of panic. I’m not really sure why, because all the days blend together a little and I space my work out throughout the weekend as well, but I always look at the calendar when I start to overthink and notice that it’s the beginning of the week.

It’s been just over 5 weeks since I have been out in the world, and I’m still trying to take everything day by day. I see good and bad news every day, and have been able to keep busy for the most part. I currently enjoy having work to distract me, picked up playing Call of Duty — a game I never in a million years would have thought I would like — and ordered a few little crafts to do at home in the coming week. I also decided I need more energy, so since I’m no longer able to get my routine B12 shots, I got some vitamin B12 and vitamin D to start taking. I’m lucky enough to live in the suburbs, so can still walk outside some, and enjoy evenings on the back porch.

I’m going to get through a little more work then go do some yoga to try to relax and calm myself a little. I know we’re all cooped up and in this together, and I’m going to try to use this week to catch up with a few friends and see how everyone is doing. I hope you’re having a good week, and let me know how you’re keeping busy while staying inside!

Thursday, Day 22

This morning I wrote about how shockingly well I am handling all of this. Tonight, I’m crying about it. I think this is kind of typical of everyone right now.

I’m sick of being stuck inside and am dying to go on a normal date, missing my family and friends, and would love to be able to look forward to the beach this summer — or even just spending some time outside. I am scared for the health and well-being of loved ones and strangers alike. I am dying to go to Trader Joe’s to get my usual favorite snacks, and I don’t want to keep seeing how different life is by watching the news. It all feels like a weird dream. The beginning of this feels so long ago now.

All of this is incredibly confusing. Like, how did we get to a point where people can’t go outside? Anyway, this morning I wrote a much more lighthearted draft, and want to still offer some of that sentiment, even as a comfort to myself right now.

First, I have done the whole quarantine thing before — or at least it felt similar to me. When I first got sick with POTS I could barely sit upright, much less go do my normal activities. I created a new normal that gave me as much joy as I had in my 22 years before getting sick. It wasn’t always easy and I often missed things about having a healthy body, but I was still able to be happy, despite the earth-shattering change. This change was actually even bigger than the pandemic feels because I was so used to being an athlete and out in the world, but literally could not leave the couch or go from floor to floor in the house more than once in a day. Now I at least can stand up to cook, go to the basement to exercise, and play hide and seek with my dog. Lesson one, you can have joy in the face of adversity.

Another thing POTS taught me is that circumstances change. That’s lesson two of learning to deal with a life-shattering change. The first year I was so sick even going to the grocery chore was a difficult to impossible task (read: me lying on the aisle floor until I could stand again without passing out). Over time I was able to run errands. Then I could go out to dinner. Then I worked my way up to doing things like trips with friends or walking around the beautiful city of DC. I still can’t run or anything, but I can walk for an incredibly long time without feeling dizzy, my pain is decreasing astronomically, and I can drive for an hour at a time! I’ve really come a long way. My new normal did keep changing, and I’ve been able to work with it every step of the way. Things change, and even if they’re slower than you’d like, you learn a lot of lessons along the way and can still be joyful.

Finally, the most important thing in life will always be your loved ones. For this I am sure (Insert Nunzio voice here, Robert).

I’ve always known this, but having any kind of health scare definitely changes your outlook. It’s funny because I do definitely think taking things for granted is in our nature. When I was really sick I always thought I would never take little things for granted if I was lucky enough to get better, but sure enough, things like going out on walks with my dog weren’t aren’t appreciated and I haven’t taken advantage of the fact that I can do yoga now. It’s weird being so separated from everyone, and I think this experience will change the way we spend time with others. I hope we are more present and cut more time out of the day to be with people, and take the time out of the year to travel and visit our long distance friends and family.

Anyway, I think we all need to remember that this is going to ultimately be just a blip in our lives if we can all come together and support each other. I pray that we can get things under control sooner rather than later, and that we can all be tough together. I know this isn’t easy, but I feel like it will be similar to my past experience in that we will appreciate more in life, worry less about trivial things, and learn to be joyful through every stage in life. There are a few things I’m incredibly grateful for right now, and I know I’m being looked out for and taken care of, which is really comforting in this strange time. I hope you can find some things you’re thankful for in this transition time, too!

Monday, Day 19

You know what bugs me? People who remember things well.

I know, I’m just being an enormous jerk because, as you may have seen on my SnapChat or Instagram story yesterday, I have the worst memory of all time. Like, possibly the worst. I’m trying to be proactive by fixing it, and restudying some good old elementary school history and geography, though — including perfecting the map of the United States by not getting Arizona confused for Nebraska. Yes, that happened.

Anyway, part of being like this includes a very strange confusion about how long we’ve been doing this. I actually don’t remember what day I started staying inside, but I know by March 10 I didn’t go out to eat and was hesitant about being anywhere fun because I had a bad feeling about what was coming. This was a date friends were still saying that the media was freaking out about nothing, and that the Coronavirus was “less deadly than the flu.” It’s funny how there can be a narrative that starts, just because one person starts saying it, then more and more people pass it along until it seems to be the cold, hard truth.

Last night my anxiety spiked again. Not because I’m having a hard time personally being inside — I keep reminding myself this is just a season and to make the most of it — but more so because I’m feeling on edge for all of my loved ones. I hope they’re all doing okay and aren’t scared or having a hard time. Today I’m feeling a bit better, but am still on edge worrying about other people. I know from Facebook posts that a lot of people are having a hard time managing, but I also think social media is doing a great job reminding people that none of us are alone in all of this. We’re all going through so many of the same emotions and uncertainties, but it really is so freaking encouraging how uplifting everyone is being. We know that one day this will be a distant memory, and maybe if you’re like me you won’t forget the way you felt during this time, but you will forget just how many episodes of shows from Netflix you watched, how many Sour Patch Kids you shoveled in your mouth while anxiously scrolling through the news, and how many days exactly you were quarantined. This will be a very interesting story to tell the next generation, and in the meantime we’ll all just keep pushing forward.

It Is Saturday

It’s hard to keep track of the days when every one is the same.

This is such a strange time in our lives. It’s kind of crazy to think that no matter what country people live in, we can relate to the fear and uncertainty of the exact same thing.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve felt a surprising amount of calmness throughout all of this. I am being incredibly careful and not going out or anything, but I also am not living in constant fear or anxiety. I think a big part of this comes from my time at home with POTS. I now have the experience to know that even with incredibly drastic changes that are completely out of your control, you can still have joy in your life, and perhaps just as important, things can and will get better. Staying at home when I have the physical capability to go out is new, but I know what it’s like to lose your functioning body and be stuck on a couch and still feel happy and make really great memories from it. Surely we can still have joy in days at home with loved ones still — or if you are quarantined by yourself, with people from afar. Thank God for technology.

A lot of this Coronavirus quarantine feels kind of like getting sick suddenly with a chronic illness. This time, though, we can all relate in one way or another. We are lucky to have each other, and all the help and support I’ve seen online has been heartwarming to say the very least. I love that people are staying inside despite being so incredibly bored, and that we’re looking to support small businesses in this time (As a side note, please message me any and all businesses that need some support — at the very least I’d love to follow on social, but if it’s a product I’d use I want to start buying from people directly, if possible!).

Something that I’ve learned with anxiety and having a chronic illness is that periods of time seem to have lots of different chapters that make up your life, but none of them last forever. This is really good for the tough chapters, and sometimes sad when the amazing ones come to an end. Nothing in life lasts forever, though, and I think we need to remember this as we keep moving forward the next few weeks and months. I know that days will sometimes drag on and uncertainty can be daunting, but one day this will all be a distant memory and we’ll remember the happier things more than the things that were hard. We’ll remember playing Nintendo Switch with our families, eating at home every night in front of the television, relating to a million of the memes that are online, and having walks around the neighborhood be our daily outings. We’ll all probably also have difficult stories to remind us of harder times too, but hopefully something good will come out of those, too.

I guess the only point I have in writing this is that if you’re having a hard time with everything right now, keep pushing through. This is a temporary time in the grand scheme of things, and I know we’re going to come out of it with new empathy and understanding for others. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. We are all trying to learn how to fight this in whatever ways we can, and want to be able to lean on each other. Many of us are looking for ways to help, but may just not know how.

Have a great Saturday! I’m incredibly sleepy and a bit loopy from lack of exercise. I didn’t particularly feel like writing at all today, but am trying to as often as I can. Going to find some sort of yoga class to take online in the basement now!

Dying of Boredom?

I kind of think the definition of “privilege” is worrying about what we can do to be entertained while being forced to stay inside. Trust me, I know it sucks being cooped up inside when there’s a great big world outside to explore, but it will not kill you to stay inside for a few days, weeks, or however long it takes to get a hold of this situation. There are people who are sick, dying, and in a lot of pain right now. There are people who are losing their jobs and livelihood. If you have a roof over your head, food to eat, and are healthy, you are blessed.


I can offer you a little personal experience about being stuck at home for a long period of time. Six years ago when I got sick with POTS I did not go out at all unless it was to a doctor’s appointment or my daily trip to the gym for my rehab. I tried going on small errands, but always found myself lying on the cold tile floor as I propped my feet in the air to pump blood back to my brain. Having the room spin in circles around me while I frantically tried to stay standing or avoid fainting in front of strangers was not fun, so those trips to the grocery store were cut real short.

I spent well over a year in really bad shape and on the severe spectrum of POTS. Research POTS a little and you’ll find that POTS patients’ quality of life is “comparable to patients on dialysis for kidney failure.” Before all of this I was active and played just about every sport, had a very busy social life, and was working hard to begin climbing the ladder in the journalism world. I hated sleeping in, and could rarely be found just sitting around at home. In 2013, my world flipped upside down and I physically could not do anything because I always felt awful. I very slowly got better and better, and now have added many more normal things back into my routine. I still am not “normal,” but am close enough that I am so happy and grateful for all of the wonderful freedoms I do have.

So, what does any of this have to do with the Coronavirus pandemic?

A lot, actually. I know what it’s like to be stuck at home for a long period of time, but the only difference is that now 1) I do not feel insanely sick literally all the time, and 2) we are all in this together. I remember crying when I looked at my Facebook feed because everyone was out in the world pursuing their dreams, and all I could do was monitor how my health was and celebrate the tiny joys in life. Nobody my age could relate to what I was going through, and I couldn’t participate in anything a normal 22 year old would enjoy. I watched friends go out dancing, get promoted at their jobs, and support themselves like a normal twentysomething. I wanted so badly to be able to function normally and be able to take care of myself the way they all were.

Now, we are all stuck inside, and I feel like you can relate to my 22 year old self in a way. I know you’re not asking for advice, but I’m going to share some of the things that helped me be joyful throughout every stage in my life — even when I couldn’t go out or really “do” anything.


The first piece of advice I have is to surround yourself with loved ones. Not physically this time, though — emotionally. We need to take this “social distancing” stuff seriously. A big reason for this is so that hospitals are able to treat every single person who comes to them — whether or not it’s Coronavirus-related. Italy is moving towards 1,000 deaths/day. We absolutely do not want to get to that point, and by staying home we are helping to flatten the curve so that hospitals can treat people who need help. A good option for keeping in touch with people is FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or even an old fashioned phone call. The biggest thing I enjoyed when I was home for such a long time was just sitting on the couch and visiting with friends and family. That will look different now, as I am staying home and not seeing anyone new until we have gotten everything under control, but I still look forward to chatting with my friends and family every single day I am stuck at home. Experts are now recommending only interacting with the people you have been at home with, so if you’re lucky enough to have someone at home with you, cherish the time you have with them. If not, utilize technology to the best of your ability to have as much — or as little — company as you’d like. Luckily it is not hard to find someone to talk to during this quarantine.

Second, find something little to look forward to every day. During my POTS recovery time, my favorite thing was watching MasterChef and MasterChef Junior with my family. I loved learning more about cooking and having a steady show to watch. Now that I can stand up again, I love to cook and use some of the techniques I learned from the show in my kitchen. I actually have really fond memories from every stage of my illness, whether or not I could actually get out of the house and do anything.

Third, remember that this is temporary. This is not a luxury I had six years ago. I had some doctors speculate that I might grow out of POTS, and others who told me to get used to my new life. It turns out, there was a little truth to each of those perspectives, but it is best to remain positive and know that things can and will get better. One day all of this isolation will be a weird story to tell, and we will all be able to relate to the giant quarantine. In the meantime, finding little things to make you happy is important. There are lists all over the place of ideas of things to do indoors, and we are smart enough to get creative about this. We also have so much technology that being stuck at home is easier now than it would have been a decade ago. The worst thing to do is always self-pitying or constantly complaining about things we can’t control. We are lucky to be alive and healthy, and have access to so much, even from our living room couches.


The reason I keep talking about POTS is also that being at home with a chronic illness is something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. I don’t think it’s easy for a healthy person who hasn’t ever had complications to realize just how difficult it is to adjust to having a dysfunctional body. I appreciate the fact that this quarantine hasn’t begun to drive me insane because of my past experience, but I wish everyone else could feel this sense of gratefulness too. All I can do to help is say it will get easier, and any of us who aren’t currently sick can really appreciate the fact that we still feel well while being stuck at home.

I know I ranted a ton in this, but I decided my blogging right now just needs to be a little journal of this time spent at home. Not only does it give me another activity, but it will also be interesting to read back on years from now. I encourage all of you to journal at this time so we don’t ever forget what it was like all being in the same boat during the 2020 quarantine.

Pupper Doggo

Man, I’m tired. I am having more pain tonight because I’m a huge goof and haven’t taken care of myself the past few days. I’ve been wrapped up in trying to get work done (Have I mentioned on here I have been working from home? I started it in October and it’s been really great) and been slacking on my mobility work. My neck hurts, my shoulders hurt, and the muscles between each of my ribs hurt.

I got POTS over 6 years ago, which means I’ve had chronic pain for most of that time. It’s gotten better and better the more I’ve worked on it and gone to physical therapy, but it’s still freaking weird knowing that if I’m a 2 or a 3 on the pain scale, that one day it will likely spike, even if for a short period of time. I don’t really know what causes all of my flare-ups, but I feel frustrated when I cause them by neglecting taking care of myself. It annoys me that I have to focus on my health so much while still in my 20s, so sometimes I do rebel and take a few days off. I always regret it, but sometimes I just need a break.

One thing always makes me so so happy, though, and that’s dogs! Here are some of my favorite dog pictures from this month. Hopefully they’ll make you smile as much as they do for me.


Here’s my handsome little man at the P-A-R-K.

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I took this picture of Macy right before leaving the house. She was all snuggled up and happy in her PJs, and I always think of her as being my little angel.

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This picture of Jax isn’t by any means “good,” but it cracks me up because I pulled out a bag of pretzels at 2 in the morning a few weeks ago when I wasn’t feeling well. It was hilarious seeing how quick he was to lunge onto the bed to steal some of my snack. He had been sound asleep on the floor until then.

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Luckily, Jax usually sleeps in bed with me when I’m alone. Here is another favorite photo at bedtime. I typically have to shove him to the side a few times in the middle of the night because he likes to hog absolutely everything.

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And here’s a throwback gem to my sweet little angel, Gracie. These pictures all make me so happy. :’)

goodnight wiht gracie

 

 

October – November

Hi! It’s been awhile, but I’ve been pretty busy.

I started my first consistent normal-ish job and am working from home now! I’m doing editing and publishing for a PR company. It’s been really fun, but has also kept me busy, and I still only have a certain amount of time I can spend on a computer without my elbows or neck beginning to hurt. I am making leaps and bounds of progress, though, and am so freaking happy about that! It’s sometimes funny to think about, but I honestly think I’m more thankful for my body now that still is not working the way it should be, than I ever was for my body pre-POTS. Before I got sick I played just about every sport, could run 6 miles no problem, and a half marathon with just a little bit of soreness after. I had a seemingly endless supply of energy and would wake up early, go to bed late, and made time for work and play almost every day. Looking back I don’t know how I didn’t realize how lucky I was. This is just how life works sometimes, though.

I never in a million years thought writing would ever be difficult. Mentally, yes, but physically I should have been able to write for decades before anything became remotely difficult. I have a hard time finding outlets for my feelings sometimes since running has been off the table, and even writing things down can be painful sometimes.

Anyway, I haven’t been able to write for fun very much lately, but there’s not a lot I’ve wanted to share. I’ve become much more private with my life in the past year or two; maybe I’ll explain why one day, but I’m not ready to right now. In the meantime, I am going to get back to my Trader Joe’s Tuesday posts because I have a very deep love for that grocery store. I’ve loved being a stay-at-home dog mom, and think I’ve become a very good cook this year. I figure I share my recipes with my closest friends each week; why not write about it a little too?!

I hope you all had a very nice fall. I’m not doing a very good job coming up with words right now, so I’ll save all of us some time and keep this post short. Have a great Thanksgiving if we don’t talk before then. ❤

Let’s Talk About Anxiety

I woke up this morning in a sweat. My heart was racing as I jolted awake from some sort of nightmare. I immediately started thinking about things that make me nervous about the future, and how the heck I’m going to get through it all. My stomach dropped deep down into my abdomen as my heart leapt straight through my chest. Apparently you sometimes can’t even escape anxiety in your dreams.

Anxiety is a cousin of depression. They’re close in the sense they both can be based on fear and uncertainty, but they give two very different feelings. Depression is hollow and dark. It feels like a rainy day in a swamp, with fog as far as the eye can see. You know it’s a wide open space, but you can’t muster up the energy to move around freely. You are curled up in a ball, only vaguely noticing that there is a world around you. I think often with depression, the person in the middle of the fog can really only see a few feet around them and can’t tell that there is light and beauty outside the dark swamp. In fact, there are still beautiful flowers and little glimmers of light while you are there, but they can be difficult to see if you give up and stay curled in your little ball. Rays of light come in the form of good friends, puppies, working out, and helping others. There is always a reason to keep fighting, but everyone understands if you need to take a break for awhile. It is exhausting when you feel like you’re alone and don’t know how to pull yourself up off the ground.

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Anxiety paints a different picture. Instead of being a more introverted feeling, anxiety is the craziest extrovert you’ve ever seen. It is wild and red, and hot to the touch. Anxiety makes you feel claustrophobic in your own body, and creates a strong desire to run away from yourself. With depression, you would rather be able to get back in to your own body and figure out how to find yourself again. Anxiety makes you want to forget everything there is about you and run away to create a new life. You want to turn your brain off to stop thinking about anything and everything and find a way to sleep again, but you can’t take a vacation from your thoughts. Both depression and anxiety can create a pit in your stomach, but they’ve often settled there for entirely different reasons.

I have tiptoed along the line of depression sometimes, but I think having some down days is part of the human experience, so it’s very different than it was being in the darkness I have only been in once before. Anxiety is a much more familiar feeling I let sneak into my heart. It starts by catching the door with its foot, then shoves its way in guns blazing. “You’re not good enough,” “You won’t be able to handle the future,” and, “You can’t do the thing” are all lies anxiety screams as loudly as it can. It makes up elaborate and unlikely stories of what your future is going to look like, but speaks them with confidence and as truth. It’s a lot easier said than done to choose not to believe the lies, as a simple, “just don’t worry about it,” or, “calm down” won’t ease an anxious person’s heart. It is possible to find peace, but takes a lot of swallowing your own pride, accepting help from others, and being gentle with yourself.


Anxiety and depression are both so prevalent in today’s world. I don’t know if the age of social media has caused a rise in mental health issues or we’re just more open about them now, but I’d say more people than not have had a taste of these feelings, even if they haven’t been officially diagnosed with anything. I think we underestimate how not-alone we are in the world and how similar our feelings are to one another.

Talking about anxiety makes me anxious. I still think people are quick to judge, label, and make assumptions about people they don’t know. Despite genuinely believing most people have a good headspace about talking about mental health, I know there is still ignorance and confusion in this space of the world. I know that therapy is still stigmatized, and that people don’t always love and support things they don’t understand. So many people, though, who you would never guess are fighting difficult battles by themselves. Sometimes the most beautiful, smiley rays of sunshine have a darkness that is clouding their heart, and I am so thankful that celebrities and people in the limelight who have platforms are speaking up about their struggles more. Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Mindy Kaling, and Stephen Colbert are all people who live to make others laugh, but struggle with anxiety. Jim Carey, Owen Wilson, Ellen DeGeneres, and Sarah Silverman have all been very open about dealing with depression. It isn’t just comedians who struggle with mental health, though. There is an enormous list of people who range from athletes to astronauts who have been affected by depression or anxiety. Even Abraham Lincoln is thought to have had severe depression and anxiety; they just didn’t have a word for it then.

My purpose in writing this is because I think it’s so important that we realize we are never alone in our thoughts or feelings. People need to be taught from a young age that it’s okay for everything to not be okay sometimes. People should realize that we all have battles we’re fighting, that we can share our struggles with our loved ones, and most of all, to be kind to everyone we meet. I am not “Instafamous,” do not have a large group of followers, or a particularly captivating life to share about, but I want to open my heart to the people who do read this in hopes it makes someone feel less alone. I see you, and care about you. We need you here, and you are important. Please don’t ever forget that.

God Is Here, But Isn’t Telling Me Something

I’m in so much freaking pain right now I don’t know if I want to throw up or cry. Preferably both would probably make me feel better. I don’t feel like this nearly as often as I used to, as my health is improving, but it still feels like it’s going to last forever. I can’t focus on anything else and just want the day to be over so I can have a clean start with refreshed muscles.

I always try to figure out why I’m in more pain than usual so it won’t happen again. Often, there isn’t a big cause — it’s just maybe the weather (I SWEAR I get bad headaches more often on rainy days) or the fact that I was standing too long in a day my POTS was acting up. There are other times, though, that I know I’ll feel bad the next day. Taking an airplane or sitting down for long periods of time, being much more active than usual, or staying out late are all things that can cause pain. Writing causes pain for me. I wrote a lot today. I didn’t focus on my ergonomics the way I should have. That might be a big reason I’m at an 8 and want to cry now.*

Some people might take this as a sign from God that writing may not be their thing. After all, my hands become stiff and my pain creeps up my arms and shoulders the longer I’m writing at a computer, so the writing does quite literally hurt me. It isn’t comfortable the way it used to be, and you’d think if it was my calling I wouldn’t have to take breaks to pace myself so much. Writers can sit down at a computer and churn out words for hours on end without taking so much as a bathroom break. This thought has crept into my mind before. Why can’t I do what I love and what my heart desires most as a full-time job? Why did my trajectory change so drastically? Is it because it isn’t my destiny to be a writer and I should look for something else to dig in deeply?

I am reading a book right now that talks a little about “signs” and Christianity. It talks about how sometimes things that happen are not as monumental as we want them to be — they’re just little blips in the grand scheme of things. Not everything in the world is a sign from God, even though He is always here with us. My pain that is linked to writing is not a sign from God that I need to stop. I know I am supposed to be here in this little space of the Internet, and it isn’t some big selfish desire my heart has. It’s just a deep-rooted yearning I have to connect with others, share my stories, and help each of us feel less alone in the world. The chronic pain I’ve dealt with might just be yet another way to connect with people, but it isn’t a sign that I need to stop writing. Sometimes people wait too much to try to listen to what God wants them to do, rather than just strapping on their boots and trying. I think we sometimes underestimate God and don’t realize that if we’re going in the totally wrong direction, He can find ways to pull us back on track. The most important thing is to get up, and go for what we think can change the world. If we’re wrong — which people often are — we can keep trying until we get things right. After all, that’s an enormous part of what it is to be human, right? Learning from our experiences and making ourselves better from them.

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Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be feeling all better. Like I said, I was a little alarmed to feel this bad because I’ve had so many good days lately. I am grateful for that, and I hope to continue getting better and better.


*Those of you in the chronic illness community know we often rate our pain on a scale from 1-10, 1 being pain-free, to 10 being unbearable. It gives doctors a better way of seeing improvement and knowing how bad — or not — it really is.