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. ❤
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ideas for blog posts come from all different places. Today, my inspiration comes straight from the gynecologist’s office. I initially called in to ask a question about an annoying little symptom of my birth control, so the receptionist had a nurse give me a call to chat. I told her what was going on, she asked what kind of pill I was taking, and I mentioned that the only other thing I noticed with it was that I had gained a few pounds. We both jinxed each other when we said, “Well, maybe that was just getting married, though.”
So accurate! Even if I wasn’t on the pill, I think I’d have gained a little bit of weight from moving in with a guy and trying to keep up with a healthy diet. We laughed a little and she reasoned that I was probably eating a little more now that I was living with a man. Yep. Not only am I eating more, but I’m also not eating as well. Salads with grilled chicken used to be a pretty big staple in my diet, now I order Dominos enough to get a free pie every other month from the rewards we’ve collected. Basically, almost every Friday I like to take the night off and get delivery. I think the pizza joint has figured out this pattern, because every Friday evening like clockwork a notification pops up on my phone saying, “Let us make dinner for you tonight!” with a little pizza emoji and “swipe to open” to the Dominos app, where I can just go ahead and click two buttons to order our favorite things. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to refuse someone else cooking dinner. Also, I’m not insane, so I absolutely love pizza and it’s probably a good thing for my emotional wellbeing to have it once a week. A couple of pounds is a small price to pay for this new lifestyle.
Marriage has been great. I love living with my best friend, and doing nothing together. We often watch Judge Judy or Family Feud while eating dinner, and enjoy shows where we can solve crimes and show off how smart we are to each other. I do notice some funny differences between both of us, though, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we are a man and woman living together. I always laugh when I say that I think that God must have a pretty twisted sense of humor since He made the existence of mankind based on men and women getting along, living together, and reproducing. Like, think about it. We have to get along with the opposite sex and have made it a practice of living with them, even though sometimes it feels like they’re a different species. It’s kind of hilarious and must be so funny to watch from the outside. If one couple isn’t having a complete misunderstanding, you just tune in to another and BAM, hours of reality TV-style entertainment.
Okay, so the first thing I’ve noticed from living with a guy is that men and women are scared of different things. I am terrified of bugs. I freaking hate them, and as much as I love animals, I want my husband to get rid of them by any means necessary. I just don’t want them in my house. The creepy crawly legs — especially on centipedes — freak me the heck out. I always picture them crawling on my arms or down my spine and shiver. It reminds me of the one time I actually tried to catch a spider to get rid of, and he decided his best escape route was diving deep down into my shirt. I will never forget the bone chilling scream that came from that incident, and how it felt having a bug violate me like that; I just can’t handle having it happen again. Men, on the other hand, have an irrational fear of laundry baskets. I don’t know if it’s the polyester fabric that freaks him out or the fact that we have two — one for whites and another for colors — but my husband’s clothes rarely touch the inside of the basket unless I place them there. If we’re lucky they’ll go right next to the correct basket instead of in the monstrous pile in the corner of the master bedroom, but 10 times out of 10 they don’t make it in the proper receptacle. I hear this is a very common thing amongst males, and seems to be a number one complaint of wives everywhere. I don’t really understand why I’m afraid of bugs that are a million times smaller than I am, and I bet he doesn’t really know why he’s afraid of the laundry basket either. It’s just something that’s wired into our genetic makeup I guess.
Another funny thing about living with a man is the emotional aspect of it all. I am going to make another big generalization and say that guys don’t really get what it’s like to be a basketcase of emotions once a month for absolutely no reason. Unless you’ve gotten a visit from good ol’ Aunt Flo firsthand, you probably have no idea what it’s like crying over literally nothing and feeling cranky for two days straight. Sure, part of it is the horrendous cramping of your uterus, but the other part is just the sudden influx of hormones that overtakes your body and dictates your emotions for a few days. Remember how Karen from Mean Girls can tell whether or not it will rain by *ahem* how she feels? Our periods are the exact same way. I’ll feel really funny and off for a few hours, maybe snap a time or two, and then realize it’s because my uninvited — and frankly, unwelcome — Aunt will be there any day now. The funniest thing about it all is that I think he’s starting to catch on and sometimes can sense when this is coming before I even know it. This is either because he’s become in tune with my feelings, or it’s the one time of the month that I actually sometimes snap about the previously mentioned laundry basket. Either way, men will never completely understand women, and I think this is a pretty big reason why. The one thing I am thankful for is that I am the one who has a monster overtake my body for a few days, so he’s the one who really has to deal with tiptoeing around the beast, while I just ride it out.
Having to guard my food at all costs is somewhat new territory. I grew up living with two men — my dad and brother — so I know that writing my name on the box of leftovers is a must, but I am not used to living in a space where every room can be infiltrated by a hungry man. I will tell you my secret to keeping chocolate stocked in the house at the risk of my own husband reading this and learning my secrets. It’s a big sacrifice, but I hope it helps other women out there figure out how to keep their daily chocolate stash safe. I hide my dark chocolate in my desk drawer, under a pile of really boring bills. I know, I know, when you get married everything is supposed to be “ours” now, but in all honesty this is just a base for a healthy marriage. I get very rage-y without my chocolate fix, and it’s just best that we always know that there is some emergency chocolate close by. You never know when you might need it, and if I kept it in the kitchen where it belongs it would just get eaten up as soon as I brought it home. I need. My emergency. Chocolate.
Living with a man keeps life interesting and has had some of a learning curve, but we do have some things in common, too! A big similarity we have is the fact that we both lose things on a very regular basis. In male and female fashion, though, we lose things very differently than one another. I keep a messy purse. Between my chapstick, snacks, my wallet bursting with gift cards I’ll probably never even use, and an abundance of other “necessities,” I can never find my car keys or drivers license quickly. It takes a good purse overturn to retrieve anything, which in turn, messes up it up even worse for the next time I go in there to find something. You would think I was a descendant of Mary Poppins with all the junk I keep in there! It takes just under an hour to find anything, and this can be irritating when it’s below freezing out. My husband, on the other hand, loses everything at home. I laugh at how often I see women posting memes on Facebook about the way their husband looks for things. “Krista, have you seen my (insert item here)?” This is often quickly met with a, “Never mind, I found it!” Most of the time the shouting from the other room indicates that said item was in the exact place it was supposed to be.
Luckily, all of these silly scenarios help keep life lighthearted and interesting. Getting married has given me a whole new world of things to write about, and made me realize just how similar of experiences we all have to one another. That’s why memes and relatable posts on Facebook go viral. How boring would it be if we lived with an exact replica of ourselves?! Plus, having different strengths and weaknesses is super helpful, especially when there’s a bug in the house. Instead of having 2 people jumping on furniture and screaming, one of them is able to keep calm and take action.
What do you think is a funny difference between men and women? I know some of these were silly generalizations, but I think — generally — generalizations have some truth to them! At least when it comes to marriage they do. I have yet to meet a wife who has not brought up the laundry basket when they ask me how life is as a newlywed.
131. That’s how many pieces I have written and that are waiting to be posted, but I just can’t find the heart to share. Most of my writing is really pretty simple. I write about dating when a friend comes and asks for advice, because I love giving it and trying to help other people feel confident and secure in the dating world. I write about POTS when I am having a particularly bad — or sometimes good — day, and I write about the way other people treat me with this problem that is so misunderstood. Then, I have a couple deeper posts that I am just waiting to work up the guts to publish.
Part of the problem is going back and editing through everything. Several of my entries have general ideas and thoughts in them, but aren’t completed. They are skeletons of blog posts, and need some meat on their bones to help them make sense and tell a story. Others just feel hollow and my heart doesn’t feel up to working on them. Two, though, pierce deep down into my heart and make it beat fast when I think about opening up. Using the words that are deep down in your soul can be scary because they expose your darkest secrets or insecurities people would never guess you are dealing with. Luckily, I don’t have that many “secrets,” as I am a pretty open book, and there isn’t a lot of darkness in my life, so I’d file my posts under “Insecurities” in the glaringly obvious ways I am different.
Today, though, I’m tired. I still don’t feel like working on my writing, and I have been so wrapped up in wedding planning and health stuff lately that I have only posted on here two times this month. I want to write and share every single detail of the little and big things that happen in my day-to-day, but I’ve also seen the dangers of speaking loudly for all to hear online. Tonight I am going to work on a post about POTS that I drafted a few weeks ago after a Taylor Swift concert. I’ll share something that can be really hard on my heart, because I think so many people with all kinds of disabilities will be able to relate. Sometimes the most meaningful thing in the world is to feel like you are actually understood — and that you aren’t alone. As much as it sucks sometimes, the Internet is really cool because you can always find someone with the exact same things you struggle with. I still think writing is something I am meant to do, so I’ll stop being selfish and start sharing again, even if I’m feeling worn out. I think today I just needed to write and feel like I am creating again, even if it’s a silly, rambly blog post.
My life hasn’t been normal for a twenty-something living in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Just 18 months after I could legally drink, I found myself stripped of all the independence I had spent time gathering while traveling across Europe for a summer program, working and taking care of myself at college, and moving to New York City even though I didn’t know anyone there. Instead of gathering more life experiences that would shape me into who I was becoming after school, I was thrown into learning the importance of appreciating even little moments in difficult days, and I was facing health issues that most people twice my age hadn’t even begun to deal with yet.
I would switch around a few of these. For example, I think taking a shower and shaving or washing my hair takes more than 2 spoons, but going shopping only takes 3, depending on the task (as long as I don’t have to push a cart or carry a lot). I have always been a really big fan of a nice, hot shower, but I honestly don’t even remember my pre-POTS showers. I don’t remember what it’s like turning the dial to the “H” without knowing that my heart is about to start racing like I’m running a marathon, and allotting some time to lie down after I’m done shampooing. I do remember the days I couldn’t wash my own hair, though. I remember first getting sick and not being able to stand in the shower because I would pass out. I remember sitting down in the bathtub in my pink paisley bikini so my mom could shampoo and condition my hair for me since the room was always spinning around me and I couldn’t stand by myself for more than a few minutes. In hindsight, the way my hair was washed is really similar to the way my dog, Macy, gets her hair washed now. We both just sat there and let someone else do a task we are less than thrilled about, but need to have done. I was 22 years old, had just graduated from college, and could not take care of even my most basic needs.
Despite making slow improvements with POTS, I still always look fine, so people usually cannot tell if I’m having a “good day” or “bad day” just by looking at me. Nobody else can see the way my vision blacks out whenever I stand up too quickly, or when my pain is acting up. Whenever I see someone pop right out of bed when they wake up on television I laugh to myself and think, “That’s so unrealistic!” then I quickly realize that it’s actually most people’s reality. Most people can jump right up from laying down to a standing position and not feel repercussions from their body. I don’t remember ever being able to do that, but logically I know that five years ago I would have been able to. Actually, come to think of it, it probably would have really freaked me out if I couldn’t pop right out of bed all of a sudden!
There are many things that I don’t remember from my pre-POTS life. I don’t remember what it’s like living with a “0” on the pain scale, I don’t remember being able to be low maintenance when traveling or going out with friends, and I don’t remember what it’s like feeling like you’re in the same boat with all your peers. College is so great because even though you are all doing such different things, you are all working toward some sort of career goal. I get sick of explaining what POTS is over and over again, and I hate the look of pity in someone’s eyes after I get done telling them about how even though I am still young, I ended up with a life-changing health condition at the very beginning of my twenties.
There are a lot of things I do remember so well from my old life, though. I remember going outside and finding out it was a beautiful day, so going for a long run. I remember deciding on a whim to train for a half marathon, and bumping up my mileage with ease. My brain remembers going to work and sitting at a computer all day long and all of the projects that I did, but I don’t really remember how it felt. I think about it now and wonder how I was able to do all of that without feeling stiff as a board and paying for it for the rest of the week. I have no idea how I ever survived without a foam roller or physical therapy. Did my body really once not hurt? Why didn’t I take advantage of that more?
I have been blessed, though. The crazy thing about POTS is there isn’t a lot of treatment that helps you get better, other than hard work in the gym (Which is done on the recumbent bike and with tiny hand weights), a good diet, and a great deal of luck. Getting sick has made me learn that there is no doubt in my mind that God does exist, and He has so much power and love to give. I still can’t believe how much more clearly I can think without all of the dizziness and brain fog, and I feel blessed to have good days mixed in with the bad. I actually think that most of the time I am probably on the higher end of the “happy scale” than a lot of twenty-somethings because I have learned to find the joy in the little things in life. I feel happy when I get to meet a new dog, I love being able to go outside for long and leisurely walks, and I really feel at peace every night when I look up at the stars. It’s really amazing to realize that even with so many planets and heavenly bodies so far away, my Creator still loves and cares about me. I always feel small when I think about how far away the stars are and how many other people there are in the world, but it really is amazing that God has a plan for each and every one of our intricately detailed lives.
I still don’t know why I got POTS or what my life is going to look like with it moving forward, but I am going to continue to share my journey and what I’ve learned with people, and I am going to keep working toward a more normal life. I’ve used a few spoons writing this and am getting dizzy because I really need a salty lunch, but I will be writing about The Spoon Theory again on my blog in the next week or so. I want you all to know what I use my spoons on, and how stealing a spoon from another day can be great because I am able to enjoy outings with friends, but it makes playing catch-up difficult the very next day. I, as well as all my other spoonie friends, just want to feel like everyone in life just gets it. That won’t happen unless we begin speaking out about our chronic illnesses, though, so I am going to continue being vocal about what life looks like on the inside for someone with a chronic illness.
Please take a minute to read this article by Christine Miserando about how she created The Spoon Theory. It is explained so darn well here, and I — along with every other person with a chronic illness — would give anything for people in my life to actually understand what it means to use spoons throughout the day.
Fear is a great motivator. It stifles our light and often keeps us from doing really meaningful work merely because of the off-chance that something bad may happen. When we look at someone else’s fears we don’t always see the validity of them and wonder how in the world they are letting something so hypothetical stop them from living their lives; however, our own fears feel very real and valid because they are scenarios that could really hurt us.
I have a small arsenal of writing that I have done but kept to myself because I’m afraid to share it for one reason or another. In 2017 the word I chose for the year was, “strong,” and I feel like despite some tricky circumstances, I have been able to live up to what this word means. Going into 2018 I want my word of the year to be Fearless. The dictionary defines this word as,
Fearless: adj, “without fear; bold or brave; intrepid,”
but I think when you break it down the word simply means, “fear less.”
Fear in life is inevitable. It can be a healthy feeling, as it keeps us from doing stupid things, however it can also keep us from reaching our full potential. Think of how much you could accomplish in life if you didn’t base so many decisions on fear. The times I have moved forward with actions despite being afraid of the outcome I think my writing has been much more dynamic, raw, and real than when I am merely trying to come up with content.
This is the opposite of what I want to do right now. I’ve had a few things happen that make me want to crawl back into my shell and hide, and the last thing I want to do is continue creating posts that reach deep down into my heart to spill words on these pages for anyone in the world to read. This year I’ve learned that people don’t always want what’s best for you, and their intentions can be malicious and manipulative. I’ve learned that not all women want what’s best for other women, and my heart has hurt because of it. Something else I’ve learned, though, is that it’s really easy to look at the bad in situations. For some reason it seems to be human nature to hone in on the negative. Knowledge is power, and after taking my first step of realizing this, I have learned that the majority of the people who read this blog are kind, caring, and genuine. They want what is best for me, and they don’t have any ulterior motives from reading the diary I keep online. One person in over a thousand should not dictate the way I share my life, and most of us are here to cheer each other on and make every journey easier by being there for each other. This is a time for celebration, and I am so, so excited about my future with Robert, and with writing all about my life and the content of my heart.
So here’s to diving in head and heart first, fearless.