To say I’m not self-conscious about my chronic illness would be like saying I didn’t care what other people thought of me when I was in high school. Neither is true, but high school was a lot easier because at least everyone else felt the exact same way — and I knew it. Despite feeling self-conscious about the shape of my body or being worried about my future, I knew all of my classmates felt the same way I did. That brought a little glimmer of comfort even in all the confusion.
What’s frustrating about POTS now is that I feel so alone in it. I don’t have a close knit group of friends who are chronically ill, and frankly, that sounds exhausting. We would never be able to make plans with each other because one of us would always be feeling sick, and it would be a whole lot more difficult getting from point “A” to point “B” without having someone who could carry two water bottles or still think clearly even if it gets really hot outside. If I had known in college that one day I wouldn’t be able to carry a Smart Water bottle around for myself I would have been terrified for what my life was going to become.
I freaking hate having a chronic illness. I hate how it makes me feel, I hate that it’s so unpredictable, and perhaps most of all, I hate that I ever have to rely on other people to take care of me. I have always been super-independent, and despite being sick for almost five years now I am nowhere close to being used to all of this. Let that sink in. I have been sick for almost 1/5 of my life now, and I am still not even close to being used to it.
Every morning I wake up and want to be able to do everything for myself. I want to cook, then clean up the mess in one sitting. I want to be able to drive to meet my friends for lunch without worrying about where they want to go geographically because my arms might hurt terribly from driving too far. I want to have enough energy and strength to go to work, think straight with no interruptions from dizziness or brain fog, and get through an entire day without hurting and becoming stiff — then do it all over again five days in a row. I don’t understand why all of these things that feel like very basic human rights have been taken away from me.
I miss my independence so much I want to scream. I push myself to limits that I know are going to hurt me because I don’t feel like asking for help with little tasks. In my mind, people are going to get annoyed if I keep asking for help with so many seemingly easy things, and it’s not worth losing all of my relationships to feel decent. My brain understands that the people who love me are happy to take care of me, but my heart feels heavy and tight with frustration. I often feel like a burden — not because anyone has told me that I’m one, but because I can’t take care of myself the way I used to. I want to be the one to take care of my parents and repay them for taking care of me for more than just the 18 years they expected to. I want to be able to support myself financially, and I want to feel like I can give acts of service to my loved ones more than I am able to. I want my friends to understand the way that I feel and to know what it’s like to lose every sense of normalcy your body has grown accustomed to — but only for a day so that they can know what my every day is like and why I’m often so tired. I want people be able to feel my frustration so they can really understand how much small things impact me in my day-to-day.
I could write a book on all the things I miss that are really normal. I miss being able to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch all by myself, and I miss doing my own laundry (Seriously!). I miss going shopping without eventually feeling nauseous and dizzy. I think what I miss most is going places by myself. Whether it’s being able to drive into the city to walk around and explore by myself, or taking a mini road trip to see a friend, I wish I could drive myself around without having to rely on loved ones to chauffeur me around. I am 27 years old and want nothing more than to be able to sit in traffic by myself to see my best friend just one a state away whenever I want. I either have to wait until someone can drive me, or have her make the hour-and-a-half trip by herself to come and see me. Both the little and big things about being sick bother me, and I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever fully be used to being different this way. I hate asking people for help, and haven’t gotten a lot better at it over the years. POTS has made me realize that it isn’t always a person who can break your heart. There are other things in life that can take a little piece of it away, too.
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.
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.
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.
We are over 4 months into the new year and I decided to reevaluate how I am doing on my resolution to fear less in my everyday life. I wouldn’t quite say I am failing, but I’d give myself a “C” on this front, and I am not okay with that.
Having a lifestyle blog for anyone in the world to read is a little nerve-wracking, but the fact that any of my friends, family, and acquaintances can read about some of my deepest feelings and thoughts is a whole lot scarier than strangers following along my journey. My best friends know what kind of beautiful, fearful, and thoughtful desires are in my heart, but putting it on paper for those who don’t know me very well makes everything feel a whole lot more intimidating. Ink is permanent and words are sometimes interpreted by readers differently than the writer intends.
I know people like to talk about what others are up to sometimes. I do think about 99% of my readers are kindhearted amazing people who genuinely want what’s best for me, so despite having a good number of readers on this little online space, I believe it’s safe to share my heart with you all. I also know how easy it is to make snap judgments about others on social media, though. This blog showcases a small piece of my life, despite my best efforts to share meaningful things with y’all, and it can be difficult when friends make an assumption based on one, three, or a dozen little posts from a couple days of life. Feelings can be long and drawn out or incredibly fleeting, and I write a lot about both.
After thinking about it a lot, I’m not going to say I’m done with being afraid — because I’m totally not, and there will be times I won’t share a lot of what’s going on in my life — but I am going to use the next few months to put a lot out there and cross off some of my goals without worrying so much about what other people might think. I will continue to work to “fear less” every day so that one day I might be able to call myself “fearless” in pursuing my dreams.
Hello, blog family, I’m finally back! I had a pretty rough week. I haven’t really gotten much of a cold/flu/virus sickness since getting POTS because I am so incredibly careful with taking care of myself and not hanging out with people if they’ve been sick recently. My cardiologist has always emphasized the importance of a flu shot and taking preventative measures with POTS because being sick makes my chronic illness a lot more difficult to manage. Now I see why.
My parents took me to the emergency room just over a week ago because I kept getting sick and passing out on my way to or from the bathroom (Or the bucket next to my bed). That night was weird because I had decided to sleep at 8:30 due to extreme nausea. I had been in the car for eight hours on our way home from Boston that day, and hadn’t felt well most of the trip home. I typically get a little nauseous on car rides — particularly long ones — so dismissed it as a POTS thing and ate a few ginger chews in hopes of feeling a little better. There weren’t any signs of having any sort of bug, except for the fact that I almost fell asleep while we were driving a few times, which is really not a typical Krista move.
Anyway, despite going to bed early, I woke up every hour with really bad abdominal pain and couldn’t fall back asleep for more than a few minutes at a time. Finally, around 10:30, I started getting sick. As most of you know I still live at home, so my poor mom had to come in and check on me a million times to make sure I wouldn’t faint and hit my head on the hard bathroom floor. Finally, she came in and told me to get dressed because we were going to take a trip to the emergency room.
Surprisingly I didn’t put up a fuss. I slowly walked back to my room and threw on my Nike sweatpants and “Army Girlfriend” sweatshirt. My mental state was in tact, as I debated putting on my engagement ring. I quickly decided against it, and grabbed Robert’s dog tags instead. I figured just on the off chance something was really wrong I wouldn’t want my ring to get lost during any hospital drama, and that the dog tags would be pretty easy to wear throughout any procedure.
My dad helped me to the car as I clutched a big, white plastic bucket in my lap. Luckily I didn’t need it, as I had cut myself off of food and water an hour prior. Not drinking made me feel sick, but it also left my stomach empty, which was just what I needed.
Five long hours, two IVs of saline solution, and a couple of Zofrans later, I finally began to feel better. A few different things ran through my mind as I sat on my little white hospital bed. First, it’s crazy that nurses work all hours of the day. Like, we got to the hospital at 1-something, and didn’t leave until a little after 6 in the morning. There were people running around doing their job like it was a normal hour. Second, these people put their own health at risk by being around people who are sick with a lot scarier things than just the stomach bug that I had. Even towards the beginning of my visit I tried to stay far away from the people who were caring for me because I didn’t want to spread my germs. I quickly realized they weren’t afraid of getting my virus when they poked and prodded at the EKG electrodes I am all too familiar with. It was hilariously comforting having some normal medical procedures done when I felt like hell. I knew they weren’t going to help me feel better, but it was nice having something that made it feel like a normal trip to the doctors. Lastly, all of my nurses were kind and made me feel comfortable — at least considering the circumstances. It makes a world of difference when someone takes care of your feelings along with your symptoms. I always think back to the nurse who told me I’d have to endure my awful POTS symptoms for the rest of my life and that it wouldn’t get better, and I am so grateful that she was wrong. Hope and comfort are both such healing things, and I’m thankful for each and every person who decides to be encouraging and kind to the people they come into contact with.
I am completely better now, and am looking forward to resuming my normal life, writing schedule, and wedding planning — which I will have a million updates on in my next few posts! I am also going to keep pushing forward in my journey get healthy again. I have a few exciting diet updates I’ll be writing about on here, and I will continue to work hard at PT and the gym to keep my symptoms at bay. Here’s to the beginning of a new week!
Dating is something I would definitely say I was super-good at. I’m not the best mathematician, I am terrible at remembering everything I learned in history class, and I don’t know anything about camping or surviving in the wilderness, but I’m really good with people and feelings.
Just because you’re great at feeling things and reading others, though, doesn’t mean dating will be easy. There are a million different things that go into this process, some of which is circumstantial and just plain luck. A big part of dating is being able to control your emotions and think logically. When you can sync your heart to your brain and make them work together, you become so incredibly efficient in weeding out the people who aren’t right for you while keeping around someone who might be a good fit to be your forever and always.
Getting into a healthy relationship is so much easier if you have the right tools and cut out the bad habits that are holding you back from meeting people. So if you feel like you’ve had a hard time dating and letting go of crush after crush, I am going to give you a little dose of tough love and list a few behaviors to give up for 2018.
Realize that most people are not the exception to the rule. Sure, sometimes a bad boy can make for a great husband, the guy who plays hard to get can be a good catch, or the one who ghosted you on Bumble only to message you five weeks later on OK Cupid actually did just make a little mistake, but for the most part you can take things at face value and trust your gut. Stop trying to force things or make a crummy situation less painful by telling yourself stories that justify bad behavior. There are too many fish in the sea to pardon the ones who aren’t swimming in the same direction as you!
Cut out the commitmentphobes. If you’ve been “talking to someone” for months with no signs of settling down, stop waiting for them to change their mind about the status of your relationship. A guy will know if he likes you pretty soon after y’all have started dating and if he doesn’t see what a great catch you are it’s his loss. Don’t try to show him what he’s missing out on or try to create scenarios where he’ll begin to fall for you. Your time is absolutely valuable, so move on to find someone who will recognize your worth without even trying.
Stop chasing after indecisive guys. If you’ve been seeing someone for a little bit and he is still conflicted about how he feels about you versus another prospect, make up his mind for him and let the other girl have him. You do not want to be with someone who can’t see your worth, and it’s not your job to make him miss you once you’re gone. Block him everywhere and get excited about eventually meeting a guy who only has eyes for you and can’t wait to try to steal your heart.
Don’t settle for behaviors that don’t show you respect. Yuck! People who aren’t respectful of other humans make me feel sick. If he pressures you physically, exhibits any signs of emotional or physical abuse, or throws cruel words at you, get rid of him. I hate hearing people say that gentleman don’t still exist because they absolutely do. Look for role models in your family or friend circles and remind yourself of them when you’re feeling a little defeated in the dating world. Even though these are all platonic examples, they will be great partners for another girl one day, which means there are people out there for you, too.
Steer clear of people who don’t have the same values as you. If you want to date someone who is the same religion as you, wants the same kind of family, and prioritizes the same important things in life, don’t date the guy who is a polar opposite. This is wasting time on both ends of the relationship and will only end in heartbreak. Unless he changes his views — which is unlikely (see #1) — your heart will either be crushed by a breakup or a deep sadness in the relationship. It’s worth holding out for someone who will be your partner in the important parts of life.
If you give up these five little destructive thought processes I promise your dating life will become much more bearable and efficient. Getting rid of duds seems tough in theory, but when you know what you’re looking for it becomes quite a bit easier. I always like having logical and practical actions to follow in the dating world because it can be really easy to let your heart take over and run away with your brain. By having a certain standard set for yourself, you eliminate some of the unnecessary heartache that comes along with dating the wrong guy. This may not be the most romantic blog post in the world, but it is so, so important and is definitely some of the best advice I’ve given on here. Let me know what your biggest dating frustrations or victories are, and I’d love to write more about that in my next post!
I wanted to do a fun, light post about a few of my favorite things for fall. I have a lot of new segments coming up this month, so please keep coming back to my little space on the internet if you want to keep walking in this journey of life with me. These are five of my favorite cruelty-free beauty finds:
1. Jane Iredale Blush I mentioned recently that I’m obsessed with Jane Iredale makeup. Not only is it cruelty free, but it’s super light and feels good on your skin! My new favorite purchase is their blush. I wear the “flawless” shade, and I like it because it has a little bit of a brown undertone, which makes me feel like I’m wearing a tiny bit of bronzer.
2. Klorane Dry Shampoo Oh my gosh. This is the best dry shampoo I’ve ever used. Not only does it smell incredible, but it also doesn’t leave white powder streaks in my hair when I use it. I’ve tried a lot of different brands with my Birchbox subscription, but this is by far my favorite!
3. Rodan + Fields Lash Boost Yes, this is a shameless plug for my business… But the reason I became a consultant for R+F is because I am obsessed with their products, so this wouldn’t be a complete list without my favorite fun beauty buy! My lashes have become incredibly long and full (check out the way they were before I started using this product), and I couldn’t be happier with my results. I have like, six other products I’d love to ramble about, but one of the funnest ones is the Lash Boost. People are always asking what kind of mascara I use now, and it’s crazy, but it doesn’t even matter. They look great no matter what type I put on — or even if I decide to go makeup-free.
Shoot me a message on Facebook if you want to hear more about it and get a 60 day risk-free trial!
4. Pure Cosmetics Nude Collection Eyeshadow This is such a beautiful eyeshadow palette. It reminds me of a matte Urban Decay Naked palette. I — like every other girl in the world — mainly just use a couple of their colors, but they offer great options for a nice, clean everyday look.
5. Adesse New York Nail Polish I love my new cruelty-free nail polish. Everything on this list was cruelty free, as I am obsessed with little furry critters. This is such a beautiful color for fall, and it goes on smoothly and stays longer than most that I’ve used.
Tell me, what are some of your favorite products for fall? I am so excited that it’s October, and am trying to enjoy the fashion and weather while it’s still nice and crisp out. Sound off in the comments; I always love new beauty finds!
The first Love Language I want to touch on is “gift giving” because although it seems incredibly simple and is arguably the “easiest” of the five, anyone with this as a top LL will tell you otherwise. It’s not at all materialistic or about the amount of money you spend. Gift giving as a love language is never about money; it’sall about the time you put into thinking about your partner for picking out something you know they’ll love.
I would definitely argue that nurture plays a large role in developing your Love Language as an adult. Ever since I was teeny tiny my mom has always loved surprising me with little goodies and treats. When I was a kid I would sometimes crawl into bed at night and feel something fuzzy against my feet. I peeled back the covers to find a little stuffed animal with a note attached, telling me that I was special and incredibly loved.
When I reached high school she still loved me this way and often left little cookies and notes scattered in the kitchen for me to find when I got home from cross country practice. I still have some of those cards to this day, and I have a really hard time throwing away letters because they are one of the most special things to me.
Even at 26 I will sometimes come home to find a little tube of lipstick or another fun cruelty-free beauty item on my bed. It makes my day every time, and the notes always give me a smile and my heart joy, too. Just knowing someone is thinking about you when you are away is a really special feeling.
Since I feel well-versed in gift giving, I wanted to come up with a little list to help people who might not be fluent in this love language yet. Just because one of the LL’s isn’t important to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t to your partner! It’s great taking this quiz and knowing your significant other’s results, as it can be hard to use LL’s that feel foreign to you. Working on speaking your partner’s language, though, can be a really rewarding task. I highly recommend reading the 5 Love Languagesbook if you haven’t! It teaches how to love on a whole new level.
Ideas for Guys to implement this LL:
Flowers. This is the answer to so many of life’s relationship problems. If you get in a fight flowers are great to say you’re sorry, but they’re also amazing for anniversaries, birthdays, sick days, and even “just because.” When gift giving was my top love language I used to always say that someone could go outside and pick me a bouquet of dandelion weeds and I would still find the gesture incredibly sweet. As I said before, it’s not the price sticker on the bouquet that we find so charming, rather it’s the sentiment that goes behind the gift that really matters.
Bring her favorite dessert home. This is one of the most underrated things, but I’m going to give my mom props in this post for always bringing me a new dark chocolate bar to try. She keeps my “chocolate drawer” (Yes, this is a thing in my household) stocked with my favorite Trader Joe’s 73% dark chocolate, and often brings home little treats from trips to the grocery store or when she goes to the neighboring town that holds the best gluten-free cupcakes around. The chocolate is great, and it always makes my heart so happy that she thinks of me even when I’m not around.
As a special treat girls love jewelry, but we know it’s expensive. Robert happens to be the best guy I’ve ever known about picking out beautiful jewelry. I’m always wearing something that he gave me, and it makes me smile and think of him when he’s not around. When we first started dating I wondered if this was Robert’s LL, as he always seemed to have a new little present for me. Two favorite stories come to mind with Robert. First, was a journal he bought and gave to me on our fourth date. It was a really beautiful leather journal — the kind I had always dreamed about getting, but could never justify buying for myself. I wrote in it the entire time he was deployed, and I just recently finished the last page. The second was actually a really goofy gift. I told Robert about someone calling me a mean name on my blog when I first started writing it, so he got me a book called, “Insults And Comebacks: Lines for All Occasions,” and told me to flip through it the next time someone got nasty with me. I’ve never actually used it for that purpose, but it made me laugh and cheered me up — and prepared me for the very few nasty comments I got during the Tom Brady YouTube video going around (Listen, I’m sorry I don’t watch football and had no idea I was “interrupting playoff season — I was just trying to do something nice for someone I love!). I still keep this book on my desk as a reminder that I am loved by the people who truly know my heart, and to write about things that scare me, even if I know everyone won’t be a fan. I’m still working on that.
Leave a sweet note on her pillow. This melts any girl’s heart, and whether she goes to sleep before or after you, it’s great to fall asleep with a smile on your face or wake up to a bright “good morning” from a loved one.
Ideas for Girls to implement this LL:
Since I feel very familiar with gift giving as one of my love languages, I’m going to use all personal examples. Please feel free to sound off other ideas in the comments! I am always looking for new ways to love, and would appreciate your tips.
“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” There is a reason this is such a popular idiom that is thrown around — because it’s so true! I am going to make a massive generalization and say that 95% of men love to eat. Bringing him his favorite dinner, surprising him with a treat, or packing a Snickers or Almond Joy (Yuck! That’s Robert’s favorite and I always feel funny buying it; I wish we were friends when we were younger, as he would have been the best person to trade candy with after a giant Halloween haul… “Here, I’ll trade you all my Almond Joys for your Peanut M&Ms and Junior Mints!”) in his lunch is a fantastically simple way to show him he’s on your mind. Add a note for extra sweetness!
Guys are so darn hard to shop for — at least the men in my life are — because they seem to buy the things they want. Pay close attention to what might be old or worn. I gave Robert a gift from Tom Brady and the Patriots on his 30th birthday this year (Oh gosh, I need to tell this story soon! I can’t believe I keep forgetting), but it was so darn hard to figure out what I wanted to buy him this year. I treated him to dinner and gave him a present 4 months late because no matter where I looked, I couldn’t find anything that screamed “Robert” to me. I ended up realizing the answer was right in front of me when he pulled out his worn leather wallet to pay for a toll to Boston. In that moment I smiled widely and decided that I needed to get him a nice new leather wallet. Not only would he think of me because he would see it every day, but he deserved to have nice things that were used as often as a wallet. I think this is hilariously enough one of the proudest presents I have purchased, as it took me such a long time to come up with it.
An experience can be a great gift to give a guy who is difficult to shop for. Whether it’s tickets to a football game or concert or an impromptu date night, he’ll be excited that you took the time to come up for a special day just for him. This is a great gift for guys who really value quality time as another love language.
Jerseys, event tickets, and video games are all nice presents, but they can be expensive to do on a really regular basis. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, get creative and make little surprises that he’ll love. Whether you go back to my #1 tip about food and decide to bake his favorite food or put together a nice picture frame for his room, you can always get creative with your presents.
For girls and guys:
Let’s mix 2 love languages and add a pinch of “Words of Affirmation” to gift giving. Cards and letters are incredible everyday gifts, as they hold a little piece of someone’s heart inside. I have an enormous box next to my bed that holds some of the most special letters I’ve received from friends, family, and Robert. I call this box my “happy box,” and will sit on the floor and read a handful when I’m feeling lost, sad, or just want to smile a little before bed. Several of the letters have become worn from use, but they are some of my most prized possessions. Each card couldn’t have cost more than $5, but the words painted on the page are what really hold value for me. This is the perfect example of gift giving not being about the money spent, rather the thought put into the gift that really matters.
Lastly, pay attention to the things your significant other loves. This is the easiest way to choose a gift, whether it’s a food or drink or a gift from their favorite store. People who have gift giving as a primary love language don’t care so much about the item you give to them as they do about the thought you put into the present. Instead of spending a lot of money on something just for the heck of it, feel free to choose several small tokens of love to spread out through the month. Giving to your loved ones won’t just make them happy, but I find that giving the perfect present makes my heart even more joyful than receiving things.
This is my first post about The Five Love Languages cheat sheet. Come back tomorrow for tips on using another LL. 🙂