Chronically Positive

Who all remembers when I had my “Chronically POTSitive” blog?

I initially created it for a class I was taking for my Master’s, but it was also a really fun way to start blogging and connecting to others with chronic illnesses. I have long given up writing on that — this blog is where my heart lies — but I have kept the mindset of being chronically positive. I’m not going to link any of that content because I wrote much of it lying dizzily on our living room couch so I’m a bit afraid of the errors that are surely scattered throughout my posts, but that is what initially made my heart feel open to the world and to share so much of my journey with others.

There are a few reasons I choose to be an optimist, and always try to look at the glass as being half full, rather than half empty. First, I’ve found that it’s actually a lot easier living as an optimist. Knowing that life is going to get better, even if it’s not necessarily there yet is such a powerful thing. I strongly believe in the power of positive thinking, and I think dreamers often get some of their wildest desires by putting them out into the world and fighting for what they want. Second, it is far less exhausting to be excited about the future than dreading it. Whether it’s with a job, dating, health, or anything that affects your quality of life, it’s always a lot easier getting through a bad day knowing that things will eventually take a turn for the better — even if it’s not that same week or year.

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I got sick with POTS almost 5 years ago now, and I still remember my parents telling me every single day that I was going to get better and I would be able to walk around without fainting again, spend time out with friends, and live a beautifully joyful life. My dad told me that things would get better every single day when he drove me to the gym to do my 20 minutes on the recumbent bike after his long work day in the city. My mom hugged me while I cried on the bedroom floor because I was tired of not being able to stand on my own or go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without calling to wake someone up because I might pass out on my way there. We played “Would You Rather” late into the night when I couldn’t sleep because of my heart palpitations and chest pain. I looked forward to our little games despite the circumstances, and we always made it a point to laugh every day, even when I felt like the world was crashing and burning around me. I got sick with POTS overnight with no warning, but despite being bedridden and feeling sick 24/7, we still managed to find joy in my life.


Glasses are used to be filled and emptied. You end some days with a completely dry glass, but remembering that you can still fill it with something even better is so important to continue moving forward. Let’s say you have a full glass of lukewarm water that gets knocked over and empties completely on the floor. It sucks that you don’t have a drink anymore, but now you have room to fill it with something better — like chocolate milk or iced tea. Getting rid of the water made room for an upgrade. Sometimes life isn’t fair and doesn’t go the way you hope it will. Your heart gets broken by the wrong guy and it feels like the end of the world until you learn you’re better off without him. Then you meet the love of your life, and you realize that getting dumped was actually the best thing that ever happened to you, even though your heart hurt terribly at the time, because it allowed you to find the one person you never want to live without.

POTS was heartbreaking, scary, and life-changing. My arms hurt while I am writing this, and I wish I could sit at my computer and pour out my heart on paper all day long. I want to travel without feeling like I’m high-maintenance, I want to run again, and I want to chase the dreams I had in college still without having to change them because of my illness. If I hadn’t gotten sick with POTS, though, there’s no way I would have really met Robert. I would have moved to New York City and continued to write for a magazine, and I wouldn’t have been in the area before he went on his deployment. I would have missed out on so many great memories with my family, and I would never have seen just how many people love and care about me. My heart may not work like a normal one anymore, but it’s grown several sizes larger to hold all the love that is in my life. People are absolutely the most important thing to me, and getting to hold so many hearts close to mine means infinitely more to me than any job or amount of money ever could.

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God works in mysterious ways, and although I am not sure why He hasn’t decided to give me back the body I used to have, I still have faith that I will have a joyful and fulfilling life. As my sweet friend Sophia often said, “The best is yet to come.”


After I wrote this post I happened to stumble upon this article by Forbes. Optimism is a life changer. Create it one step at a time and I promise you won’t be sorry.

The Greatest Part About Love in Our Twenties

Something that makes me really, really happy about being in my mid-twenties is all of the love that I see around me. I’ve been to so many weddings this year alone, and there hasn’t been one I haven’t cried at yet. I think my heart is just so filled with joy that it uses tears as an outlet so I won’t explode.

As you can tell from reading just one page of my writing, I am a hopeless romantic. Honestly, even the people I never really knew well in high school getting hitched makes me giddy, as I just feel so excited for what their future holds.

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Love in our twenties doesn’t start and end with weddings and marriage, though. Just because some of my friends are single doesn’t mean I am not equally as happy for the love they have in their lives. I see people who are in love with travel, in love with their job, and in love with sweet puppy dogs. There is love in family reunions, in blossoming relationships, and love for tiny little babies.

We are all in such different stages of life at this time. I predict by the time we’re all in our mid-to-late thirties things will have changed and we’ll all be a little closer to one another again for a short while, however ever since high school has been thrown behind us our lives have all continued to change more and more drastically.

Just because you are on a different page of your story than your friends doesn’t mean your life and experiences aren’t as beautiful or important. Your time will come with a romantic connection, and just because you don’t have your dream job now doesn’t mean there aren’t greater things to look forward to in the future. Keep pushing forward and enjoying the life you were given right now. Not everyone is lucky enough to make it to their twenties. It is hard trying to figure out how to be an adult and adjusting to so many changes, but I think it’s a lot easier when we realize that none of us are truly alone. We all struggle in one way or another, and even if life looks perfect for someone from an outsider’s perspective I promise you they’ve had something that has been a challenge for them. None of us are exempt from pain or suffering, but the great thing about life is that none of us are exempt from love if we welcome it into our life.

Instead of worrying so much about what you don’t have, I challenge you to make a list of the things you are thankful for. On days I am in more pain than usual I make myself create a list of 5 things I am thankful for, and that often creates a snowball effect and I see just how many blessings God has given me.

Wait Up

Why are incredible people who are so ready for a relationship sometimes single for a lot longer than they’d like to be?

This is a question I don’t really have an answer to. I can tell you, though, that finding the right person is worth the wait. That you’ll never regret deciding not to settle. I know deep down to my core that being the most amazing version of yourself is the best way to continue making a difference in the world, and that your future partner in crime will absolutely love you for it.

Wait for the man who has been praying for you. He’s dated around, he knows what he wants, but he just hasn’t met you yet. I know it might sound goofy, but I have been praying for my future husband since I was a teenager. I knew whoever I was going to end up with must be pretty special if I’d eventually fall for him, so I wanted the best for him — even before I was a part of his story. I didn’t think of specifics when I thought about my future spouse, but I did think of life experiences. I hoped that before he met me he would have traveled a little, dated around, and gone on a few neat adventures that he could one day tell me about. I hoped that he was making good decisions and thinking of me on occasion, too.

There is someone, somewhere who is praying for you — or at the very least to find you. Prayers for your future spouse often include just actively looking for them, but I would like to encourage you to take it a step further and start praying for him. Pray for his well-being, for his relationships, and pray for his heart. Pray that he is learning more about himself, bettering himself, and learning how to have an empathetic heart. The way he is living his life today and what he’s doing for his future will one day be a part of your story, too.

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I know it can be difficult and frustrating when you’re still single looking for the right person to spend your life with, but remember that even though you might not be able to control when you meet him, you can still pray for him and hope that wherever he is in this world that he is building the best life he can and being respectful of your future relationship. Your future spouse is learning lessons about life, and finding out what he isn’t looking for in a relationship and getting another step closer to you. Prayer is always an action you can take when you feel helpless in a situation. At the end of the day, God has control over the things that seem uncontrollable anyway. Isn’t it comforting knowing that He is working for your best interest, even when it comes to finding the person you will one day marry?

Dating can be difficult when you’ve done it for a long time and haven’t met that special someone. Human hearts are created to love and be loved, and I believe many of us are wired to desire that one incredibly special relationship, especially as we get older. If you haven’t found your person yet remember that there is someone out there just waiting to meet you and looking for the amazing qualities you have to offer. When you feel down or frustrated about the way dating is going, try to look at the big picture and realize that your twenties will likely just be a very small part of your entire life. You might feel confused, lost, or frustrated sometimes, but one day you’ll be able to share these feelings with someone you know will be around for the long haul and look back on them as just a very normal season of life.

“I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow”

How many times have you heard someone utter the words, “I can’t wait until tomorrow,” “I can’t wait until Friday,” or “I hate Mondays?” I find myself saying this on days I feel sick, lonely, or even just bored.

Somehow the future is always more bright, beautiful, and easier than today. Nobody warned us that there would still be trials, loss, and unplanned twists and turns where you least expect them. That being said, why do we still always hope for tomorrow to come, even when we have so many blessings today? I think a big part of it has to do with boredom. It’s hard to sit still and have a mundane schedule and so much easier to “live for today” when today is exciting and great.

Getting sick with POTS really opened my eyes to the harder parts of life. One of the most difficult lessons I’ve learned is that the future isn’t promised, and some dreams may never come true. You know what else I learned from these lessons, though? That this is all okay! I learned that you have the opportunity to grow and learn from trials, and that you can always handle so much more than you realize. I learned that sometimes the hardest thing you have to go through can turn into the biggest blessing you’ve ever had, and that God’s plan for you is even better than what you have planned for yourself. Finally, I learned that sometimes all you can do is take life one day at a time, and focusing too much on the future can actually be harmful when you are dealing with a particularly difficult trial.

Instead, on the harder days I try my best to list my blessings. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve surely seen my “Five Blessings” posts. This was the most recent one:

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Instead of having the mindset that life is going to be better tomorrow, count the blessings you have today. Don’t get me wrong; it can be really hard sometimes, but if you can find even just one thing to be grateful for, life quickly feels a little bit easier. Sometimes you need to just take baby steps, even if it’s just counting your blessings — one day at a time.


Update: Still trying to change my domain to KristaLauren.com, but it’s taking forever because I need technical help and it hasn’t been the biggest priority on my list. Keep in mind this site will be changing, though!

Trusting God’s Plan

One thing I really value in my life is security.

I think it’s because I haven’t always felt secure in my life or relationships. In the past I have been with people who make all the big life decisions without me, and I feel an overwhelming lack of control over my life with my illness. Helplessness is a familiar feeling, and it’s one that I despise more than anything else in this world.

Last night I prayed for the first time in awhile. I felt shaky and scared; there are so many different moving parts in my life, and I am a notorious worrier. Giving my concerns to God doesn’t give me as much peace as it should, and I think too much about the future and “what if” scenarios. I think this is something a lot of people from our generation struggle with. I’m not sure if it’s just because our twenties are so uncertain and there are a lot of big changes taking place or because it’s still the beginning of really being adults in the world, but either way I have so many friends who deal with the same exact concerns as me.

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Photo Credit: Proverbs 31 Ministries

I think God sometimes speaks to us in the smallest of ways. I believe in signs, so when I woke up and saw this photo on Proverbs 31 Ministries‘ Facebook page, my heart felt warm and full. I think this was God talking back to me to remind me to trust Him with every detail of my life.

After all, God hasn’t made any mistakes with my life yet. In fact, He has always known what is best for me, even when I think my life is going in one direction. My favorite examples to use are always ones from dating, so I’ll share the glimpse I got into God working in my life.

A few years back, I was worried about my first-ever relationship ending. It was scary because I had never gone through a breakup before, and I was paralyzed with fear of how it would affect me, how I would get through it, and whether or not I would ever find someone to love me again. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I think most of us have a harder time with heartbreak the first time around.

As you all know, I made it through the breakup, and came out even stronger after the fact. I found plenty of guys who wanted to take me on a date, and I eventually fell in love again. This is where my “God moment” begins. The love I have found with Robert is incomparable to any other relationship I have had in my life. I am with someone who knows what compromise looks like, wants to know the desires of my heart, and makes me laugh on a regular basis. He cares about quality time the same way I do, and views relationships as the number one priority in life.

To this day I strongly believe the end of my old relationship is the biggest blessing I have ever received. I got to meet Robert — someone I now can’t imagine my life without. One of my biggest fears ended up materializing, but God knew so much better than I did that there was someone else out there who would be a much better fit for me. I think back to the day Robert and I first met in front of a little Italian restaurant and can’t believe how far we’ve come from that. I imagine it must have been fun for angels and God to gather to watch our love story unfold that day. To us, it was just another online date (Granted, it was the best first date I’ve ever had), but to the one Guy who knows everything, it was the beginning of a really beautiful love story. He knew what He was doing when He jumped through hoops to make us meet, and my heart should feel at ease that God will continue to work in my life and take care of me the way He always has before. I have absolutely no proof that God has ever left me behind or let me fall without Him, but I have such a special story of God taking care of my heart and knowing what was best for me before I even knew it myself.

I don’t have the right words to end my blog post today, so I’ll leave you with words that are much more beautiful than any I could come up with.

“Do not be anxious in anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7

The Most Difficult Part About Forgiveness

One of the hardest things in the world is learning how to forgive yourself. At least for me it is.

You know when people proclaim, “I live with no regrets!” and you nod and are like, “Yeah, what this person is saying is so wise and great. I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done either. Ever.”

When I sit back and really think about it, though, I do have regrets in life. I have regrets that make me sick to my stomach and keep me up at night. I can easily forgive myself for any kind of mistakes I’ve made that affect my own life but when it comes to bringing my loved ones into the picture I have a really hard time cutting myself any sort of slack. I want the very best for the people I love, and I would do anything to make them happy. I kick myself whenever I do anything that hurts them, and would take any and every sort of pain life has to offer away from those I care about in an instant. Whenever I see someone I love hurting I wish my superpower could be taking pain away from others and giving it to myself instead. Even after knowing Robert only for a short time I knew with all my heart that I was glad I was sick instead of him. I know illness isn’t a realistic “Either/or” scenario, but I think about sickness a lot and am always relieved that I am the one with health problems, rather than someone I care about. Even after we had only been dating a few months I remember feeling like I wanted to be the one to protect his heart, and that I would do anything for this new, special person in my life — the exact same way I feel about my closest friends and entire family.

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Something I used to think about a lot was how I got POTS. Doctors haven’t been able to pinpoint a cause yet, as POTS has really only been studied since 1993 or so, and they need more information on it. One theory is that people can get sick with POTS after a traumatic event. My “event” happened to be a boy, and very constantly and consistently being stressed and weighed down in a relationship.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t regret worrying so much about someone who would later not even be a part of my life. In fact, I didn’t know it then, but I would later feel like I didn’t even know what real, deep, true love was until I found it for the first time in the passenger seat of a Ford pickup truck.

I have other regrets, though, that haunt me far more than my illness.

In the same relationship I didn’t stay true to myself — in a lot of ways. I gave up pieces of myself I held near and dear to my heart, all in hopes to avoid ever having to go through any sort of heartbreak. I didn’t think that I was strong enough to handle a breakup, and decided that all the pain my heart was feeling must just be “normal” in a relationship. I thought that love was supposed to hurt, and that men just didn’t care as much about having their partner be a part of their everyday life as women did. I thought that I must be crazy, clingy, and unreasonable for wanting a boyfriend who would be a significant part of my life. I thought the jitters I felt in my heart and stomach were butterflies, when they were really just anxiety. Little did I know way back then that I was already in the middle of a terrible heartbreak — one where I was losing myself completely.

There are things I changed in that relationship that I will never be able to get back. I wish with all my heart I could rewind time and do everything over again so I wouldn’t make the mistakes that I did, but clearly that’s impossible. My next-best tactic will have to be learning to forgive myself.

If I knew then what I do now, I would have ended things and stayed single for a few years until I met the person who would completely turn the way I felt about love upside down. I would have known that I wasn’t being treated right, that people should never pressure you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with, and I would have known that there are men who care about my heart so much that they will be able to put aside some of their own dreams for mine too.

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My heart still hurts often because of mistakes I can’t take back and the way they affect those I love. Sometimes I worry that I won’t ever be able to be fully loved by someone for forever with the baggage from my past.



Love is patient, love is kind.

This verse often plays in my head when I hear the word “love,” but something told me to dig deeper today. I Google “1 Corinthians 13,” as I don’t know the Bible well enough to recite the entire verse to myself verbatim. I skim until a small collection of words hit me and my heart drops into my stomach.

“LOVE KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS.”

I want to cry with relief.

God is speaking to me in a way I’ve never really felt before. I know Jesus came to this earth to die for my sins, and I know He forgives me, but for the first time in a long time I feel like I can forgive myself. I realize a real, true love can caress me gently and understand that just because I am scarred and imperfect doesn’t mean I am not worthy. Just because I made mistakes that really hurt in my past doesn’t mean my future can’t still be bright, healthy, and filled with the authentic love I have always wanted. Even though I can’t make everything right with the mistakes I have made in my life, I can look forward to creating a beautiful life with someone really special. The best thing I can do now is move on with my life and continue to look towards the bright future I have with someone who will be my forever and always, rather than dwell on the things that used to hurt me and tear me down. After all, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter who you have been with. All that matters is who you end up with.

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Dysautonomia International does not believe POTS is caused by stress or anxiety, so odds are it is not. Stress does very negatively affect the way I feel, though, which is why I now try to keep my life as stress-free as it can be.

Irreplaceable

One of the sadder parts of having a chronic illness is when you question your own self-worth. When you’re in your twenties and chronically ill it’s really hard seeing all of the people around you traveling the world, working towards their dream job, and having fun in whatever way they see fit — whether that is going out with friends late into the night, playing sports and working out, or taking a spontaneous road trip with a big group of friends.

Some days it’s hard for me to do anything other than rest, and sometimes I have to cancel plans at the last minute because my autonomic nervous system decides that I shouldn’t be comfortable enough to do an activity. This becomes especially heartbreaking when I feel like I’ve let my loved ones down by not being able to do something that they want to. It sometimes makes me wonder why they choose me to play the special role of “best friend” or “girlfriend,” instead of someone who can be carefree and fun all the time. My chronic illness is probably my biggest insecurity.

My cardiologist must literally be an angel, as he has been so kind and comforting since the beginning of my illness. Since we have gotten to know each other, anytime he looks at my heart on an echocardiogram he looks puzzled and then says, “Krista, your heart is too beautiful for this world” with the most genuine smile on his face. It makes me tear up because I know he’s talking about something different than my physical heart — as that often beats a little too fast for its own good. He is instead referring to the core of my being. This little comment serves as a reminder that just because I sometimes feel broken or like I don’t have an as important purpose in the world as others does not mean that it’s the truth. I know other people who are sick or have struggles that make them different, and they have become even more incredible because of what they’ve been through. During times of loss, we often gain a new sense of empathy, a new appreciation for life, and a great deal of strength we never knew we had. Hardship can make us bitter, or it can be something we use to connect with others and help make them feel less alone. This is the sole reason I write so openly about my own struggles.

God puts people on this earth and lets them have hardship sometimes, not because He doesn’t love us or has forgotten about us, but instead because He wants us to glorify Him in all we do — that includes using our own heartache to lift up others. Sometimes our purpose is greater than fulfilling our own dreams.

My heart was broken. Yes, now I have an awesome boyfriend, wonderful family, and friends I know care deeply about me, but at 22 years old I had to give up my dream to live in a big city and write for Seventeen magazine and begin the fight to get my life back. Since that day three-and-a-half years ago I have chosen to push forward, even when I don’t necessarily feel like it, and never give up hope. There are a lot of things I haven’t done that I would have loved to do. I wanted to live in New York City again and I wanted to have an incredibly fast-paced, spontaneous job because that’s what I have always enjoyed so much. I love interviewing people and learning more about their stories, I love keeping up with teen trends and offering my advice to young women, and I have always wanted to make a positive impact on the world starting with our youth.

But God has a different plan for me than the one I had for myself. I can’t handle the stress or physical pressure a job in journalism has, but I can handle being vulnerable and toss aside my pride to show people that they are absolutely not alone in the world. I can handle publishing my deepest thoughts on a platform like this, even though not everyone will understand everything that I write about. Perhaps most important, though, through my struggles I have learned to love others deeply — whether or not I am their cup of tea and whether or not we have similar beliefs or values.

I still have days where I feel insecure about the way my life is with POTS, and I wonder when it will be my turn to actually live like I’m in my twenties. When I start feeling like this, though, I try to take a look at the people around me and notice how many people choose to open up to me and choose to make me an important part of their life. It isn’t because we can go out and have a wild night together or because I am able to get them into exclusive VIP parties. The people I am important to love me because of the way I love, and because of who I am as a person. There are certain “Krista traits” that are unique and special to the world. My power is that I love in a way that is irreplaceable to those who receive it. I will do anything for the people who are closest to me, and I will never turn down an opportunity to show love to those who need it, even if it means sacrificing something on my end. I strongly believe each and every person on this earth has their own qualities that are absolutely irreplaceable too.

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My favorite way to show love is through writing.

Somehow I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this post. I think we all have our own insecurities, especially in a world where it’s so easy to compare. If I have learned one thing from having a chronic illness, it’s that people love those who are genuine and themselves. We are all so different from one another, but that’s what makes the world such an amazing place. People don’t have to have a chronic illness to be able to understand some of the things I have dealt with, such as insecurity and loss. There have been so many times where someone very different than myself has reached out to me and been able to relate to something I have written in their own very different life. We are all humans with the same basic feelings and a desire to love and be loved. Just because you feel broken sometimes doesn’t mean you are not valuable to this world and loved by so many people — some of which you haven’t even met yet. Never doubt your self-worth just because you are different. The best way to make a lasting impact on the world is often because of the differences that you have to offer.


Photo Credit: Audrey Denison