Dealing with Depression

When you’re ill, it’s easy to get depressed. You’re not on track like your friends, your body is attacking you at every turn, and nobody really seems to understand.

When it’s real, clinical depression, you need to get help. I’ve been there! Counseling and properly medicating my pain got me back to a more normal mindset- but here’s the thing. I still fight depression. Daily.

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Yep. That’s right. Me, Miss Positive Blogger, fights depression every single moment of every single day. Sometimes it’s the pervasive empty kind, and other times it’s just an overwhelming sad. So far, my best line of defense has been overwhelming positivity. I’ve done #100HappyDays, I’ve done the Seven Day Positivity Challenge, and I’ve read The Happiness Project. When I was sunk into my deep dark pit, I thought everyone who said “fake it til you make it” was a lying jerk who needed to leave me alone. Now? I cling to every little happy moment I can get.

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Sometimes, like when I get glutened or have an especially bad pain day, faking it isn’t enough. Those are the days I have to be gentle with myself. I drink hot chocolate and vanilla coke. I buy a large milkshake without beating myself up about it. I spend extra cuddle time with the kittens, even though there’s laundry to be done and dishes to be washed. I lay in the hammock and watch Minnie chase bugs around the yard. I take a million selfies and delete all but one.

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After I self-care crawl back out of a slump, I like to keep busy. Whether that means painting in the floor, calling up a friend, or binging on video games while my husband sleeps at night, I do whatever it takes to keep my mind active. This is also the time I take special care of my body, because a healthy mind needs my body as nourished as possible (especially since I have some nutritional problems from my celiac.) So the post-slump peak is full of fresh juices and cute, vegan salad bowls.

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But the most important thing about tackling my depression is being able to reach out. Sometimes, all the self care in the world won’t be enough to tackle that bad brain. In those times, I have to know when to call in a backup team. Whether it’s talking it out with my mom, crying with my husband and best friend, or actually sucking up my pride and seeing my counselor early, knowing when to reach out is a huge step in fighting depression. Reaching out and getting help can mean the difference between a bump in the road and digging a depression well from which you refuse to emerge.

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If you’re anything like me, it’s scary to reach out. You don’t want to admit you’re sliding back into depression. After all, everyone has fifteen bad days in a row, right?

Well, some people might, but you don’t have to. If you’re struggling, please take care of yourself and reach out. If you’re not struggling, reach out to friends and family who are. You’ve all seen the “depression hurts” commercials. It does. But we can all do our part to make it hurt less.

If you feel like you can’t reach out to someone, I am happy to connect you with resources!

Being A Spoonie

I’ve been chronically ill my whole life, but I’ve only been a spoonie for about two years. If you’re a healthy person, this may sound like a lot of gibberish to you, but don’t worry. There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for my obsession with kitchenware.

You see, a spoonie is simply a person with a chronic illness or disability that identifies with The Spoon Theory, written by Christine Miserandino about her experience with lupus. Since a lot of disabled or chronically ill people have similar experiences, her way to explain being ill rung true with a lot of us.

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Being a spoonie is more than just being ill though. When you take up the spoonie label, a whole new world opens up to your sick self. Spoonies are, as a friend once said, “the coolest group of people you never want to be a part of.” And it’s true. Being a spoonie means having a support group, both across the internet and many times in real life, that’s available at any time and has experienced almost everything you’re going to go through.

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Other than community, being a spoonie means having an easy way to explain your chronic illness to healthy people. Because seriously, healthy people, we love you- but sometimes you just don’t get it!

When I’m searching for a way to make my husband or friends understand, I can send them a link to the spoon theory, paraphrase, or send them, phrase in hand, to the almighty internet. Sure, the spoon theory doesn’t work perfectly for all aspects of my illness, but it’s a good place to start explaining.

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There’s a lot of great reasons to be a spoonie- last but not least because it’s a lot easier than typing “chronically ill” all the time- but there’s more to it than that. Being a spoonie has made me more friends than any other movement or community I’ve joined. Being a spoonie has helped me accept my illnesses, and work with them instead of constantly fighting to the brink of exhaustion. Being a spoonie has given me the drive to advocate and educate about my rare disease. I’ve been able to help newly ill and newly diagnosed people find their way into the spoonie world.

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This week is Invisible Illness Awareness Week. I’m pretty aware of my illnesses, but there are a lot of people who aren’t. Awareness is great! It helps get us money and research for the illnesses we fight. It helps other people recognize their symptoms and get a correct diagnosis that otherwise could take years. This week, if you’re a spoonie, I challenge you to share your story. If you’re not, I challenge you to educate yourself about the unique challenges the chronically, invisibly ill face. And to all of you, I challenge you to be kind to yourself this week. You deserve it.

Juices: my latest obsession.

I have to drink a lot of liquid every day. I’m pretty good about it, really! I have about two liters of water a day, sometimes more if I’m feeling especially POTSie. The only problem I have is my undying hatred for plain water. I just don’t like it! I drink it, sure, but I’m always looking for some other ways to get my liquid intake up.

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I allow myself one glass of earl grey or green tea a day, because I can’t handle very much caffeine. Sometimes I add in an herbal tea, like Chamomint Moon by Higgins and Burke. It’s a nice change from plain water, and I’ve already talked about how warm beverages make me concentrate better. (It’s a mental thing, I know.)

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Lately though? I’m loving these fresh juices from Grocery Bar. This week, lemonade with cucumber was on sale for two dollars, as was watermelon juice. That’s a great price for fresh, cold-pressed juices, so I picked a few up. They were awesome, and I might have replaced breakfast with them a few times when my stomach just wasn’t feeling up to real food. After I finished them, my husband and I headed back to pick up a few more while they were still on sale.

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While we were there, I saw the Juice of the Day and knew I had to try it out. It was a mix of carrot, apple, orange, and ginger. I’ve been a fan of carrot-apple juice for years, so this was right up my alley. It was $7, which still fit in my budget, so that was pretty neat.

I love the packaging of these juices. The glass jars and minimalist logo are absolutely adorable, and I’ve repurposed them in my house as flower vases. A single long stem daisy in each of the bottles in a row in the window is a cute look and a great way for me to recycle!

If you’re in the Chattanooga area, and you want fresh juice, check out The Grocery Bar! I’m also looking for the guy who does juice from a bicycle, which seems like a really cool concept even if I can’t remember the name of his business right now.

Since I hate smoothies, juice is the next best thing when it comes to nutrients! I’m loving fresh juice as a water alternative, and just in general. Who’s with me??

Style and Spoons

Being stylish and chronically ill can be pretty hard. I’m guilty of falling back on sweatpants and a tee shirt so much that if I were a cartoon character, that’s what I would be drawn wearing. Now I know I’ve talked a lot about Joggers in the past, but I never talked about how to style them. So let’s look at how I’m wearing them!

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Joggers are an exercise pant in theory, so there’s nothing better than the combo of a loose tank, tight Joggers, and some cute tennis shoes. Whether you’re running errands or running a mile, this look will get you around town with no problem.

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However, if you’re feeling a little more boho, try styling joggers the same way you would normally wear palazzo pants. I like to add a bright top to a pair of loose joggers for a great look- bright printed Joggers get compliments everywhere I go, making this perfect for a Sunday at the farmer’s market or a local cafe. You could also add a tight tank and a loose kimono or cardigan.

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Shoes are make it or break it with Joggers. I like my Tevas with the boho look. However, if I’m styling it up with a cute top, especially a peplum (a bright pink one from Rue 21 is currently my favorite to pair with some slim-fit grey joggers) a pair of cute flats is a must. Pairing casual Joggers with a dressy top is a bold move, but if you do it right, it’s a great one! (Plus peplum hides bloating, perfect for those prednisone months or any time you’re having stomach symptoms.)

Clothes that are cute and comfy are a necessity in anyone’s wardrobe, but especially the chronically ill. I feel a lot better when I look cute!

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Working from Home with ADHD

ADHD is a really misunderstood problem, especially to the average layperson. I get told a lot “but you aren’t hyper,” which is funny, because most people with ADHD aren’t bouncing off the walls. However, I always seem to be restless, I move my feet and hands constantly, and when I’m presented with too many choices or tasks, I shut down completely. Seriously. Recently, I had to call my husband because I had too many options for my Keurig.

So, working from home works well for most of my chronic illnesses, for reasons like “I don’t have to stand up and pass out when my POTS is flaring.” But balancing working at home with my ADHD? That’s been an adventure.

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The first thing that I did when I started working from home was download a planner. Some people use Google Calendars, some people use a written planner, and some people use an alarm and reminders on their phone. I use Planner Plus, and it works for me.

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More importantly than planning, I’ve found that setting a routine is important for me. I have to do the same thing at the same time every day, or I can’t get my mind into work. I change into some comfy clothes that aren’t pajamas, set up my work space, brew a cup of tea or cocoa in my Keurig, and sit down to work. If I’m out of tea or cocoa, it’s hard for me to get in the zone. I guess I’ve trained myself pretty well!

Since getting a routine and planner, it’s become so much easier to work from home. I no longer find myself idly playing Tetris or browsing Tumblr when I should be doing anything other than that. However, if anything gets me out of the zone, I can’t get back in unless I brew myself another cup of tea or cocoa! I think I need to work on that…

Friday Five!

Is it that time of the week again? The end of the week, and the end of August- time seems to be flying this year!

As with every Friday, it’s time to share the things I loved this week. So here’s the best of the best of the week!

1. My Keurig Mini

I was impressed with my Keurig. I wrote about it before. But then I ordered a variety pack of tea, cider, and other speciality drinks for it. Now? This is the best invention ever!

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I’m really digging herbal teas, as too much caffeine seems to be irritating a bunch of symptoms that aren’t really blog appropriate. However, these hot cocoas and the cappuccino flavors rock!

2. Aviary Photo-editing App

This free app offers in-app purchases to beef up the already impressive editing capabilities. I’ve purchased a few extra sticker packs and borders to play with, just for fun, but even without them, this is the editing app I keep returning to. It’s easy to use and has some cool effects.

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Be careful though, it’s easy to get caught up in what you can do and over edit your photos.

3. Pur Minerals Lip Gloss Sticks

I found one of these in my makeup drawer, completely unused. It was in a pretty coral color that matched what I was wearing, so I figured I would give it a try. The result? Loving it! A touch of color and completely non-drying. Perfect for my summer sunburnt lips!

4. The Sporty Look

So, I finally figured out how to style my Joggers. For a summer-to-fall transition look, I’m loving joggers with fun sneakers and a classic tee. For errands or just to look a little more fancy, I’m pairing peplum with my Joggers for a really neat look. But as much as I love the peplum+joggers? I just keep coming back to the sporty look.

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5. Beets

I thought I hated beets, I really did. But after trying a local best salad from Grocery Bar, I’m a convert. They’re earthy, they’re pretty, and they’re perfect with goat cheese. Plus they’re inexpensive and readily available. Really, what more can you ask for in a root vegetable?

So what are you loving this week?

Living, Not Surviving

Sometimes, with chronic illness, it seems like I’m using all my energy just to survive. Just eating, showering, and feeding the pets can take an entire day’s worth of energy. I felt so down about it, I started comparing myself to my healthy friends- look at them, in college, working, living on their own. But after I talked to them? It seemed they were just as stuck as I was.

They were stuck in a routine, doing the same things day after day to get by. Beyond their college classes and their day jobs, they had no clue what to do with their life, or what really made them happy.

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It seems that I wasn’t the only one unhappy with my life! It seems like a lot of people don’t actually know themselves, what they want, or what makes them happy. For me? I’ve found now that good food, travel, and writing make me happy. So does makeup, my pets, and educating about chronic illness. That’s why I started regularly posting on this blog- it’s fun!

So if you’re in a rut, I challenge you this: do one thing for yourself each week and don’t feel bad about it. It can be as simple as ordering a coffee with whole milk when you think you should get skim (but you really want that full fat latte) or as grand as signing up for a cooking class or a vacation!

Find out what makes you shine.

Personally, I find that my mental health improves tremendously when I’m doing things for myself. My mental health, in turn, helps my physical health. I know this won’t work for everyone but in a lot of cases, it’s worth a try.