Organization & Cleaning: Anxiety and Depression Edition

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Just want to start this one off with the fact that my pupper just got a bath, and she’s currently sitting in front of me trying to lick the “clean” off of her. Ha. 

When it comes to my depression, I’m pretty stereotypical I think. If I’m really down in the dumps, the LAST thing I want to do is clean up my house. I can barely manage to get my “bare minimum chores” done, much less any of the larger projects I have on my list. Everything just seems so daunting to undertake, even the smallest projects seem like mountains of crap to me.

So when depression strikes, I’ll spend my day avoiding any kind of major cleaning and organizing only to berate myself for “not doing enough” when I’m laying in bed unable to sleep at night. The silly part is, is that I KNOW that this is a typical symptom of depression, and I know depression is an illness just like any other. Yet, I still beat myself up at night for it.

Now my anxiety? That’s a whole different mutt. One of my biggest triggers for my anxiety & panic disorder is clutter. I can wake up in a wonderfully relaxed and happy mood, and if my kitchen counters are cluttered and there’s a mountain of dishes in the sink (I’m literally staring at my boyfriend as I type this) then my heart starts to race and I start to feel the all too familiar fingers of anxiety combing through my brain.

My anxiety is a bit strange, some therapists have suggested that it might be tied into OCD like some of my family members. However, beyond the original diagnosis of Anxiety and a Panic Disorder, I’ve never bothered to get more. It has to do with control for me, I can even pull up memories of dealing with it more than a decade ago when I first started driving. (I got my license late.. as I could walk to work.) I remember getting extraordinarily anxious in my car while sitting in traffic, heading to work. I was driving this POS Mazda at the time, which I loved, but since I had been working two jobs it had gotten dirty and cluttered. I remember setting down my coffee mug by the stick shift, glancing at the floor of the passenger seat and feeling overwhelmed and not safe. 

Now mind you, this car oddly enough brought me a sense of peace.. with the exception of when it blew up in a target parking lot, complete with black smoke. My dad drove an old beat up Mazda to work when I was a kid. It smelled like oil since he was a mechanic and well, it leaked oil. It was a manual (which I remember since us kids fought over who had to sit in the middle on the bench seat), just like mine. I had even found this wide bottomed, ceramic mug that my dad had back in the late 80’s, early 90’s at the thrift store. This stupid piece of shit car reminded me of my dad and my childhood, and in the early throws of adulthood, surrounded by poverty, I needed that feeling of calm.

So I looked down at the passenger seat floor and I could feel the panic rising. I never worried about my safety, not even when the radiator blew in the middle of the road. I didn’t even have air bags, and got in a fender bender, but I still felt safe. Yet, when I looked at all the TRASH and CLUTTER on the floor of that car, I felt like if I didn’t clean it up, something TERRIBLE would happen. I just knew it.

That feeling is still around. If my floor is dirty, or my books overflow the bookshelf (which happens more than I’d like to admit) I get overwhelmed. Instantly. The boyfriend is pretty used to this now as he’s seen me have full blown panic attacks because the kitchen table is covered in papers, or my side table is too cluttered. Once my day heads down that path, it’s very rarely recoverable.. at least not to a normal state. Back when I still worked, I would feel the urge to turn my car around and go home because I was SURE I had left the doors unlocked and that someone would break it. I would triple check that the windows were shut, except for one (because fire: cats need to get out) before I left, but feel like I had to drive back and check. Then when I’d get to work, on lunch, I’d start feeling anxious if I didn’t organize my desk, or my purse, or vacuum out the Rav4 on lunch. It’s a downhill battle that I didn’t have a chance of winning, even with the help of Ativan.

So in order to keep my anxiety under control, I make sure to stay on top of my chores. It’s not any worse than anyone else’s cleaning. I just do the dishes before bed, wipe down counters. If I see trash that needs to go out, I do it. Cat litter boxes get changed every other day. I enlist Jon to help, or make sure Noodle does her chores (although her mountain of dirty laundry in her closet never seems to get smaller hah).

Do you see what I’m getting at here?

What happens when you have anxiety AND depression. You turn into a hot mess is what happens. Your depression makes sure you lack the motivation to get your chores done. Your anxiety ramps up because you have too much to do. From there it’s just an endless cycle, all the way up until you have a good day, and clean up and tackle the the projects you need to.

It’s definitely tough. Even tougher now that the kid is a preteen. Clutter seems to just follow her around. (A lot of you can relate the the hair ties, clothes and shoes everywhere!) Yet in her pre-teen hormonal angst, she’s a lot less likely to clean up versus a toddler offered a cookie if they pick up their toys. Alas, she even knows the look on my face, right before I lose my cool, and quickly picks up her crap and shuttles it into her room. Haha.

I was just reminded of my anxiety-depression conundrum while I was tackling some cleaning and organizing earlier today. I’m coming off of a down swing with the depression, so I had some projects to take care of (I’m looking at you linen closet (wait, am I finally an adult because I have a linen closet??)) and it just felt nice to clean out parts of the house. So I figured I’d write about it, because we all know that talking about it, educates people. Dealing with anxiety and depression is easier than it used to be, but there’s still a lot of stigma attached to it, so the more information that’s out there, the better.

Plus, I’m really happy to have a lot of “good days” as of late.

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Daylight Savings Time – I’m alive!

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Daylight Savings. My internal clock is all sorts of screwed up, my body feels like we jumped ahead multiple hours instead of just one. It should be just about dinner time, we’re just starting to prepare.. yet it’s 7:15pm. Crap. By the time it’s done it will be almost time for the short one to go to bed.

It’s almost spring. It’s almost time for the snow to stop, and rains to come. This week we’ve already started the rain, and have a bit of 60s to look forward to. Then it will get chilly again for a while it looks like.. just in time for my birthday in the beginning of April. Par for the course.

I do have to say, now that it’s daylight earlier and later, my body is getting back on a schedule. I’m one of those people who tend to sleep and wake with the sun. During the summer, I’m an awful companion as I’m wide awake at 5:30am and going strong until late night hours. I can survive on 5-7 hours of sleep without noticing. During the winter though? You guessed it, I’m tired by 5pm and can barely drag myself out of bed before 8am.

For someone with depression, it’s a recipe for disaster. I seem to spend all winter long sleeping, trying to find a way to keep moving and to cheer myself up, and wanting to sleep.

I noticed these last couple of weeks though, that I’m actually waking up on my own (sans alarm) when it’s light out. I am able to get out of bed rather quickly, at least for someone with IST and POTS. I am not exhausted all day, and have the motivation to get my chores done. The need for summer months is real.

My insomnia is still around though, but now that I’m not working, it’s more manageable. If I’m up, I’m up. I’ll play a game, or write a little bit. There’s no need to beat myself up for hours about “why can’t I just fall asleep, I have to be up for work soon”.. which we all know just makes it worse. Now, it’s just more quiet time I have to myself, plus.. there’s always new science articles to read!

I think my kiddo takes after me. She tend to go to bed early during the winter months, not to mention embrace days on the couch under our comforter when there’s snow on the ground. Now that daylight seems to be permeating our lives a bit more, we have plans to go on walks this week, and take care of some of the outside chores. At least we know how each other work for each season and can plan accordingly.

Ahh. 60 degrees with a little drizzle later this week. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts! I have to haul our old wooden bed frame out to the street for the garbage men to pick up, and the last wind storm knocked quite a few branches off of my trees. I’m looking forward to strapping on my junk boots and cracking a beer and spending some time taking care of it all. From the looks of it, the raccoons managed to knock over a couple of my ladders too.

The first few good days of spring are probably my favorite. It’s the time to open all the windows in the house and get the musty smell out. Time to get all the branches and stack them for kindling for the summer fires. There’s nothing like clearing your yard and planning (or re-planning) your garden and flower beds.

One of my favorite things? It’s time to feed the squirrels and raccoons. I live in a lower class subdivision, we all have modest houses and smallish yards. Of course, like all old neighborhoods, we have plenty of mice and raccoons who live right along side of us. The way I figure it, is they’re going to be there anyways, so they might as well get snacks. I usually clean out my pantry in the spring. Old cereal, chips, etc all get placed in a bowl in the front yard for the neighborhood scavengers. Any old fruit or veggies, even old bread I might have on hand, goes on top of the table on my deck or on my front step for the squirrels to scurry away with. Granted, I am a bit more careful with the old dog going outside around this time (as we’ve already learned the skunk lesson once, and don’t need to learn it again), I don’t mind having to take her out and check the yard first opposed to just letting her out the backdoor. I just figured, we all made it through the hard winter, why not share a bit of food I’m just going to toss (and the raccoons are going to raid from my trash) anyway?

This is also the time of year when we’ll see the neighborhood cats more. There’s a few strays that wander around, and a few bold outside pet-cats that stray more than a few blocks in the spring. Watching my two indoor cats bristle in the windows is amusing to say the least. Also lets me know if I need to set out a bowl of kibble too.

Spring is also for my projects to begin. I have to fix my bird feeder, as the fat squirrels last fall finally broke the rope that was thread through it. I need to organize the shed and build a second “attic shelf” in there. The deck will need to be scrubbed, the chairs hosed down, and once the last freeze is past, grass seed placed. The difference this spring? I won’t be doing it in between horrific days at work and panic attacks about work in the evenings and on the weekends. I’m absolutely looking forward to walking the short kid to school, then coming back to putz around with my projects and outside chores.

Before we know it, it’ll be summer, and it’ll be a whole new thing for me. This year, since I’m not working, I’ll have both girls at home with me. My daughter thrives off of structure, and the boyfriend’s daughter desperately needs it, so I’ll need to start coming up with a plan soon. Not to mention the regular chores that come with having kids during the warmer months. I need to replace the bicycle seat on Noodle’s bike and double check the chain. I need to find a neat way for the girls to store them when they’re done riding, as bikes strewn across my yard is amuisng, yet an open invitation for bike thieves. I need to weed through all of the sports equipment, throw out the broken stuff and replace anything that’s worn. I also need to dig out the flower garden for the tall kid, and get a flower planter for the short kid. Plus all 3 screens in their bedroom windows need to be replaced. Le sigh. Lets not even talk about clothes shopping.

Either way, this winter is coming to a close. Finally, and I think I made it, and I hope you did too.

Doubting Your Parenting Abilities : How You Know You’re On The Right Track

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My short one came out of her room the other night, talking about how she only had one pair of jeans and couldn’t find her leggings. I asked her if she had gone through her clothes lately to see what fit and didn’t, and she exclaimed she did (she didn’t) and actually got teary eyed.

In reality, it’s about the time of year where I buy her a few pairs of jeans, some decent tops. Then in the spring, she gets tank tops and a few shorts. Then around her June birthday, she gets clothing from her grandmother (who picks out really good stuff). We’re not destitute, my child does have some leggings (they’re just too bright colored! Not cool enough for her punk look she has going on) and she has jeans, somewhere.

Yet that night, I sat there after she went to bed and beat myself up. My god, my child only has one pair of jeans that she wants to wear! She had a growth spurt and didn’t have anything to wear! I must suck as a parent. Then I thought about how I picked on her for her part in her hair the other day. I told her she looked like Avril Lavigne, instead of remembering how we chuckled about it, I worried that maybe I had hurt her feelings. After that I worried about how cooped up she has been since it’s winter. I felt like a bad mom because I hadn’t done anything outside with her (despite her thinking she’s too cool to play in the snow).

It was a long road down into a worry filled well of self doubt. Then I remembered what I’ve told numerous other mothers, and reminded myself that I need to take my own words to heart.

If you worry about how good of a parent you are, you’re fine. It’s when you stop worrying, stop caring, that’s when you’re in trouble.

A lot of my friends have children now, and a lot of them are reaching ages where they voice discontent with their parents. Time and time again, I see my fellow moms on facebook beating themselves up over whether or not they’re a good mom. Hell, I’ve even seen a couple dads do it. Our kids whine, our kids complain, and we look at other parents and compare ourselves to them. Are we good enough?

We wonder if not buying our kids the newest tablet makes us a bad parent because “all my friends have one! Why can’t I?!” We wonder that the new tablet we did buy our kids makes us a bad parent, as we’re being bombarded left and right by the news and other parents about our children’s time spent on electronics. Our kids don’t seem to have the right looking clothes, or the right sizes (damn those growth spurts!) or the right BRAND of shoes. They don’t have the newest gaming console, or maybe they do? Does that make us bad parents because they’re spoiled? We had to ground our kids for not doing their chores, and we can hear them crying in their rooms. Did we make the right choice? Our kids don’t have set chores and we all help out, are we ruining our children?

Noticing a trend here?

We all worry, and in this current day and age, we are blasted with articles about different ways to raise our children. Every time we turn around, we have social media posts from other moms and dads about how their way is the best way, some of which blatantly say those of us who parent in a different way are damning our children. The fact is, is that my generation, our generation is has so much information about how to parent thrown at us, we struggle a lot with double guessing our own decisions.

I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon, but at the end of the day we need to realize something. We need to realize that we worry about our parenting because we’re trying to do our best by our children. I’m sure we’ll all make mistakes, we’ll all look back and regret some of the choices we’ve made raising our children.. but that’s what makes us good parents. Worrying at night if you did an okay job, proves you’re on the right track.

It’s when you stop worrying, that you have a problem. When you give up on parenting the best way you know how. It’s when you stop caring, that you’re not doing right by your kids. We just need to remember that when we’re beating ourselves up over things, actions, choices, and such.

So to all those parents who haven’t yet purchased the new Xbox.. or who did! You rock! To all those with kids who swear up and down that they have NO clothes to wear! Hang in there! To all those parents who kids are grounded because they acted like an ass.. you’re good! To those parents who just discovered a mountain of clothes in their child’s closet! Buckle in, you got this!

To all those parents, who collapse at the end of each day, wondering if they’re doing a good enough job at raising their kids, relax. You’re doing great!

2018 & 2019: The Resurgence of the Klan & Nazis

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“If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we’d all been better off,” Sutton told the Montgomery Advertiser. “We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them.”

NPR’s update on Alabama publisher who made comments about the Klan

Okay, I’ll admit. I’m on the younger side, and don’t have a lot of experience with Klan garbage. I learned a white-washed version of them in school, and learned more about them via research over the years. Honestly though, I’ve never had the luck to be able to protest a Klan rally, or even to trip one on the street.

The northern states do have active Klan chapters (circle jerks with special salutes?), like Indiana.. who just made the news as their state’s klansmen (women?) managed to get permission to hold a rally in Dayton, Ohio.

Local News Outlet’s Story on Klan “rally”

However, even with them so close, and dealing with the utter bigoted trash that speckles WI & IL, I haven’t dealt with the hooded bastards. Nazis, sure. Has anyone seen Mchenry? Boneheads STILL walk the streets there, and are generally accepted into the town and county.

Hell, Illinois republicans fucked up and let a Nazi win a primary unopposed. 

Jones has previously described himself as a “white racialist,” or someone who “knows the facts of race,” in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

A former member of the American National Socialist Workers Party, Jones said he also opposed equality, interracial marriage and school integration.

The worst part, in the actual election 56,350 people actually voted FOR him. Yes, not only did IL Republicans let a literal nazi win a primary.. more than 50,000 people voted to have him elected.

Klan is still shocking to me. I know that they never disappeared, it’s just that now they are a lot more public then they used to be. Somehow both the Klan and Nazis are getting smarter about it too (man, I really thought the meth would’ve fixed that for us). They are branching off and reforming into new, more acceptable groups. Hell, most republicans will even shun a white hood (at least in public, as that’s obviously not the case at the polling stations) or a swastika arm band.

Muh culture. - Imgur

Yet the support I see from friends of mine for groups that fall under “alt-right” is astounding. The most notable of late is The Proud Boys. (All though they have tried to distance themselves from the “alt-right” and have a token black man.) They are a hate group on multiple levels. Not only do they hate black people, they toss in a little anti-Semitism and misogyny. I’m not going to link their website because A. I don’t support views to hate groups home pages, and B. It’s atrocious.. my 11 year old could make a better website. So here’s the wiki on it.

The Proud Boys

Seriously guys. Just because you put a bonehead in a snazzy polo doesn’t make them any less of a heaping pile of trash.

What’s getting me all riled up is how all these hate groups have seemed to make a resurgence. It’s because of the same reason people find it acceptable to be horrible human beings this past year. Ex: Getting screamed at by the truck behind me as he floored over a median: “Go back to your own country!” I’m assuming because I had a “Resist” sticker (which has now been replaced by an antifa sticker) on the back of my car. You should’ve seen his face when he realized I was white as snow. Ex: A woman following my friend around Target because she was convinced she was going to steal something while she was shopping on her lunch break. Spoiler: my friend is black.

These people think it’s now acceptable to be openly racist because that’s what they’re seeing in our political climate. Hell, the former leader of the Klan voiced support for President Trump and it was like pulling teeth to get a comment from him on it. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/08/05/488802494/former-kkk-leader-david-duke-says-of-course-trump-voters-are-his-voters When the Charlottesville fiasco shocked the nation, our president said there are “fine people on both sides”. Our own president mocked Elizabeth Warren by calling her Pocahontus. I shouldn’t even have to link the Central Park Jogger case. Lets not forget when he called immigrants racists and drug dealers.. but lets be specific.. he wasn’t talking about European immigrants.

Whether or not Trump is racist isn’t up for debate in this post. My point is, is that when you say racially insensitive things (read: racist) things, or when you tweet them for the whole world to see and read.. the scummier parts of our society are going to believe that someone high up in government believes the same as they do. Ranging from the literal nazi who ran in my state, all the way to the President. Believing that the President of the United States has the same views you do about Mexicans or Native Americans, gives these assholes a feeling of power.

The question is: What are we Americans going to do about it?

I don’t see nearly enough people denouncing racism, classism, or sexism these days. Hell, half of my facebook timeline was filled up with memes making fun of the immigrant children in cages, or the mothers who tried to cross our border with them. I don’t see the Christians living like Jesus as they demand we ship people applying for asylum back to whatever country they came from. It’s almost like they forgot who Jesus was. I browsed a page today (compliments of a nazi sub) that condemned any woman in a relationship with “colored people”, and the amount of support in the comments was disgusting.

So what are we going to do about it America? How do we fix the problem, when the problem starts at the top, and goes through a large portion of our country?

I know that I won’t shut up, I know that the hubs won’t shut up.  I know my daughter is growing up knowing to not associate with the bigots swarming our country now. Hell. I know that I’m planning a trip to Ohio in May. We’ll never stop voting, but is it enough when the racism and hatred is bred into the roots of America?

How do we fix this?

 

Blind Leading the Blind, Bigoted Encouraging the Ignorant

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What strange times we live in now. We have a (unsuccessful) TV personality for president (shout out to The Arnold, we took you for granted as a politician!), literal Nazis that are marching the streets, right-wing media bashing the people who stand against them, and a prospective wall to be built at our southern border reminiscent of the infamous Berlin Wall.

I’m strangely nostalgic for the days where all I had to complain about were drone strikes and whether it was appropriate enough for the president to wear a beige suit. (Jk about the last one) Who knew that a few short years later we would have a president who calls the media (who is important enough that we included them in our constitution) and a large section of our citizens an Enemy of the People or an Enemy of the State.

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When all of this started, I immediately looked around to my peers, expecting outrage and was shocked to see just under half of them, just under half of our citizens cheering. At first, I figured Trump’s rhetoric would die down when he won* the election. When David Duke publicly came out in support of Donald Trump, I wondered if that would be enough. When Donald Trump referred to the Charlottesville protests which included LITERAL NAZIS, and ended with a wonderful girl losing her life with this:

“I think there is blame on both sides,”

“You had some very bad people in that group,” Trump said, referring to the white nationalist groups rallying against removal of a Confederate statue. “But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

I looked around, I looked at the generations before me who had literally FOUGHT Nazis in WW2, and was simply.. shocked? Shocked that they were applauding this man as president.

(*via electoral college, which some including myself believe needs to be abolished. Trump lost the popular vote.)

We are in the times where our country’s figurehead name calls his fellow politicians, congressmen and other nation’s leaders on TWITTER. This is the day and age, where we find out that his administration is enacting a “National Emergency” on our southern border via a tweet, with a shotty screenshot of the Notes App on an Apple Device.

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Of course people are speaking out about it. However, a portion of our country isn’t. They are perfectly content in their armchairs while our sitting president is using the guise of a National Emergency to get funding for a border wall that congress (the purse) didn’t grant him. These people are okay sitting back and letting this man misuse that option because he didn’t get his way and 2 years in, hasn’t fufilled some stupid campaign promise. These are the same people who had a stroke over every move President Obama made, ranging from his declarations of National Emergency, to the First Lady wearing a sleeveless shirt.

(I’m going to go ahead and include a link with information regarding previous presidents’ national emergencies: NPR.com)

These past few years we’ve gone back further in time than we ever had before. Women’s right to choose, equal rights for LGBTQ+, and many other things are all in danger. Our country has become a laughing stock for the rest of the world, we have people literally laughing at our president, to his face, at conferences. We have Nazis holding public office and every day people retweeting far right, extremist, racist, sexist groups like The Proud Boys. It’s the blind leading the blind. The bigots leading the ignorant.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not sure voting is enough anymore.

 

 

Winter – Depression & Crohns rear their Collective Heads

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Winter has always been rough for me. My depression and anxiety tend to get worse, usually from late December until spring. Usually my Crohns Disease acts up (my anxiety levels up my symptoms) as well. However, I tend to look at it like this: There’s no better time to be sick and depressed than winter. Why? Because fuck the cold and snow, that’s why.

It’s not big deal though, although I hope my (few) friends understand why I’ve been so distant lately. Sometimes it is just hard to push through the brain fog. So for now, I’ll remain cuddled up on my couch with my books and Reddit.

Life other than all of that is alright.

The kid is doing fantastic, she’s not the biggest fan of school this year, but she’s doing great. She’s got one hell of a personality now, she’s like my little punk rocker. She’s super open minded and accepting of others, and thanks to the current political climate has a firm dislike of racists and nazi-scum. She asked me to give her an undercut the other day, so now she has the underside of her ponytail buzzed and the bottom 4″ of her hair is sea green/blue. She is definitely something else, and despite the daily video calls with her other little gremlin friends, I am indefinitely proud of her.

The boyfriend has been job hopping. Trying to find one that is a good fit for him, might as well take advantage of the interviews and look for a great position and company to work for. Things are going great with us, so nothing new there.

Our Animal House has been good too. Vader (our neighbor’s old cat) has settled into the house fantastically. Smudge is still not too fond of him, but they get along. I do have to say that I love Vader dearly. He is such a sweetheart, I couldn’t ever imagine losing him even though he hasn’t been here nearly as long as Smudge or Thumbs.

Things calmed down with Jon’s ex. That’s something I’m glad is basically over. She had denied him visitation over the summer (I guess she got angry that we questioned her parenting choices and called her bluff on abandoning her daughter at our house). So we took her to court, and her lawyers basically told her to go kick rocks and give us our visitation, do half the driving and let Jon in on all decisions. Unfortunately Jon is still stuck paying for the son that is not biologically his (Ex cheated on him, got pregnant, tried to pin it on Jon) as Pennsylvania will not cancel child support, despite paternity unless another man takes his place. Unfortunately they do not require her to work, so she’s still living off of CS & Welfare. Alas. Just like with my daughters dad NOT paying child support, EVER.. we are completely okay with the kids knowing who does what for them, and seeing us as examples. Neither of us will bad mouth our exes in front of our children, but we also don’t lie.

As for me? I’m still on hiatus from work. I’ve interviewed with a few places over the phone, and turned down several in person interviews. I’m not sure what my plan is for right now, but our situation works for us and I’m enjoying finally being able to spend (forced) time with the kiddo even if she’s at the age where she’s not so keen on it. Ha.

As the months drag on, I still do not regret quitting my last job. I’m reminded almost daily by Timehop showing me the posts about how miserable I was from the last 8 years. I may have my normal depression and anxiety, but I am no longer having daily anxiety attacks about going into that toxic environment. I hear from old coworkers and work contacts every once in a while, and it seems like it hasn’t gotten much better beyond a crackdown. All I can say there folks is I learned a life lesson, one that I’ve drilled into Jon (as he walked from one recently in order to take another higher position) and one that I’m teaching my daughter. Work is work, don’t let them destroy you and your health, because at the end of the day, you are expendable. No job is worth being miserable. Not even one you devoted the better part of your 20’s and early 30’s to it.

So beyond all that rambling, hey. At least I’m writing again. I have been slowly working myself into writing again. Even if it’s just free writing a few sentences a day. I’ve just got to get into the habit. Writing is the easiest way to clear my mind and lift my mood.

On that note. I’m off to eat some chocolate and cuddle with the pupper.

Crohns & Colitis Awareness Week (December 1-7th)

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More than a decade ago I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease. I had first gotten sick almost a year earlier, unfortunately my early doctors did not think to check for Crohns. It wasn’t until I had lost just under 100lbs and my life consisted of ERs, Fevers, Pain and my bed that I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

I happened to go to a specific ER, where a group of GIs, one of which has devoted a significant portion of his life to studying IBD. It took one look at my chart and medical history for him to look at me and say “I think you have Crohns Disease”.

When I first became sick, I had only heard “Crohns Disease” once as a good friend of mine’s mother had it. I didn’t know that there were multiple options for treatment, I didn’t know the complications, I didn’t know anything. The following years were lonely. I found out another friend of mine had Ulcerative Colitis (same family of IBD) (who ended up helping me with my daughter way more than she had to prior to my diagnosis) and met another friend with Crohns. It was still odd talking about it.

There wasn’t medication commercials on the TV, Facebook wasn’t public yet (or popular until later) so instant support groups were out, I had no idea that so many people had the disease and were suffering right along side of me. To make it worse, my then husband and my family didn’t quite understand that there was so much more to it than a “bathroom disease”. No one around me understood the pain, urgency, fatigue, nor the side effects from my medications. I looked healthy enough, and at size 0, my friends were envious.

Check out Noodles face! Note: this is after I got sick, and before my diagnosis.

The first few years that I was diagnosed were the most lonely I had ever experienced. I had so much shame about a disease a couldn’t control. I just dealt with it as my disease stabilized. Having a bowel disease wasn’t something you talked about at parties, and I even tried to hide it from my close friends (online).

A couple of years later I had developed severe inflammation again, it started turning into scar tissue in my small intestine and colon. I learned what a bowel obstruction was, and after the first few, it became near constant. I was in and out of the hospital monthly.

It seemed like all there was to my life was Crohns. That was it. Now that Facebook was more popular I leaned heavily on my online friends and found some support groups. Furthermore I said “Fuck it” and started being vocal about what I was going through.


Everyone online was bombarded with what I was going through. I started TELLING people I couldn’t deal with the symptoms, I started EXPLAINING what Crohns Disease really was. I’d post pictures from the hospital or from my infusions. Showing people what Crohns Disease was.

Then I started hearing from people. I found out my then boyfriend’s niece has IBD. I had people acknowledging that even though people with IBD didn’t look sick, they were.

I had support and I tried to share it with whomever needed it.

I eventually had a bowel resection a few years ago after so many bowel obstructions I lost count. Even after being in the first 50 in IL to try Entyvio. Luckily, I have only had minor problems since then.

I am technically in remission. My last blood draw showed elevated levels of inflammation, so we’re just watching and waiting. So unfortunately I’ve become complacent with this disease (and also focused on dealing with some other issues, IST & POTs) as well as quiet.

However, I’ve learned that being open with the world about my Crohns served a purpose. People remembered. I have talked to just under 60 people in the last two years because of Crohns. People who have the same symptoms, were being diagnosed or just diagnosed, people in the hospital, family members of Crohns patients. People who just needed questions answered, who needed to vent, who needed someone to understand. I’ve talked with friends, their family members, friend’s friends, and strangers who found me through my social media platforms. I will never ever mind, I remember how hard it was in the beginning, I remember how horrifying and lonely it can be. Worst of all, I remember not knowing anything or what was going to happen. So I will always be up to talk.

It occurred to me last night, that THAT is a benefit of the awareness week. The more people know, the more people available to talk.. the more people who might recognize the symptoms in themselves and loved ones and get a diagnosis. The more people might not feel alone or overwhelmed with what they’re facing. The more people talking about it, the further we get.

So Happy Crohns & Colitis Awareness Week and remember to keep talking! It’s more than a bathroom disease!