Posts Tagged ‘Mental Health’

Thanks everyone for all the support and encouragement you have all given to me this past week… I can promise you that is had made a difference… and I apologize if I haven’t gotten back to all of you… It has been hard enough treading water the past few days… I will get back to all of you, it just might take a bit of time…

It was a week ago that I threw my lower back out, and unfortunately not much has changed… I am getting through one minute at a time, looking for distraction, giving into my pain, fighting through it, sitting with it, ignoring it, getting mad at it… doing whatever I can in the moment to get myself through….

There has been some downfall after my joints gave up… subsequent muscle spasms, over-compensating, referred pain.. all the nasty stuff that comes with it… so what started out as back and hip involvement has turned into a really heavy all-over body pain… sleep is hard to come by, food only serves a purpose – to add something to my belly other than the caustic meds that are swirling around in there… and the smile on my face hurts… meaning… it isn’t a joyful smile, more a grimace with the corners of my lips turned toward the sky… I am trying people, I am really trying…..

I have a Doctor’s appt. this coming Monday, and I am already dreading it…  I know it is coming… I will be told again that the ‘professionals’ think I am depressed… and I am NOT… Do they understand that there is a difference between feeling desperate when the pain rises, and having uncontrolled emotion that has an effect on everything you say and do in your daily life?  To me, there is a HUGE difference!

You know, the normal questions they ask to try to gauge how depressed you are….

Are you sleeping?

Have your eating habits changed?

Are you finding that enjoyable experiences in life are dulled or unappreciated?


Yes, my sleeping patterns have changed, only because when I crawl into bed at night the searing hot pain won’t let me turn off…

Yes, my eating habits have changed, because when it is hard to breathe, and the pain immobilizes you, it tends to take the enjoyment away from making homemade chili, with fresh-baked buns, amd a lemon meringue pie for dessert…

Am I finding that enjoyment and pride I should be feeling when my son brings home a 100% on his science test, or do I laugh when I am watching that funny new sitcom?

Well obviously NOT… but it isn’t because I am depressed!!  It is because my pain is all-encompassing!

Dinner tastes like pain

Bread baking in the oven smells like pain

The smile on my son’s face is beautiful, but the ‘pain’ glasses I see everything through blurs things a little…

My heart can SOAR with pride, but my body has a different visceral reaction, and I can’t control that.

Holding hands with my love feels great in my heart.. it however hurts my skin…

And I would be over the edge JOYFUL spending an hour in my jetted tub with my wonderful lavender bath salts… if it was by CHOICE that I was in there… if I was able to lay back and read in the tub with a glass of wine, instead of holding the edge of the tub white-knuckled, and rocking back and forth because it hurts too much to sit on hard porcelain…

Depression is a serious illness, it shouldn’t be taken lightly, and I commend EVERYONE who admits to struggling with it, and getting proper medical help… God knows I have been there before… IF you are there right now, I urge you to let someone IN and get help… PLEASE… Depressions isn’t something to mess around with…

What I am feeling right now is very different….

The difference is.. If my pain lightened JUST a little at this VERY moment.. If  I could flip a switch and INSTANTLY come down from a 9/10 to a 7/10 I would be the happiest girl on the planet…. IN AN INSTANT!!

Depression doesn’t work that way… It takes weeks, months and years of multi-modal treatment to be able to feel happiness and joy when you are really suffering from depression…  The road can be long… It has been for me anyhow.

All I need is a 15 minute break from this nasty winded feeling that goes along with intense pain…

I have a beautiful family, amazingly supportive parents… a man who is in LOVE with ME… the real me…

I have a precocious and brilliant and compassionate young boy, and he is my world…

I have a creative mind, a big heart, and I love myself more than I have ever done in my life.. I accept ME.. and it has been a long process getting there… 36 years to be exact…  I accept the ME that lives in Chronic Pain each and every day… and I try daily to make the very most of the life I have been given.

I have a network of inspiring and beautiful friends in my life, and I ‘belong’…. THAT is the most wonderful feeling.

So no, I am not depressed… I can see all my blessings…

There is just a wall of pain up between me and all of that…

Pain is the issue at the moment… Depression is not.

I just have to convince ‘them’ of that.

I want TREATMENT for my PAIN… I am not interested in taking a medication I don’t need.


Wouldn’t ANYONE feel that way after 168 days of unrelenting pain? 7 days in agony and counting…. (Okay so it has been more like YEARS than days.. but I mean this past ‘flare’)

I am STILL blessed… I’d just like to get back to embracing those blessings…

I have a bear hug bubbling up inside me… I just need to be well enough to give it away.

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365 days ago, I made the commitment to myself, and to whomever wanted to take this journey with me that I would share my life openly, honestly, and completely, in hopes that I could somehow make my ‘Chronic’ life purposeful.

I nervously wrote my first post, and published it… and waited… I didn’t know if my words would be heard by ANYONE…

I wrote my second post… and my third… and the craziest thing happened!  PEOPLE FOUND MY BLOG!!  People were actually reading my words!!!

I very quickly realized I wasn’t the only one sitting ‘alone’ with my pain… There were so MANY people feeling the things I felt, experiencing the things I did, and crying the same frustrated tears I cried.

I FINALLY found a place where I was completely understood.  And it was the most overwhelming feeling I have ever had.  I cry at this moment as I look back upon this past year and reflect on how quickly my ‘heart’ changed, how my perception of my pain has gone through a metamorphosis,  and how the courage of others inspired me to find my own strength….

Shortly after starting this blog, I also started a facebook-based support group… and I don’t honestly know HOW, but people started to join… 15 members… 20 members… 30 members… People started to open up and share openly about their OWN lives with Chronic Illness and pain… And I made heart-to-heart connections with strangers from across the world who were suffering the same way I had been for years.  Who KNEW that these ‘strangers’ would end up being my dearest friends, and an integral part of my every day life. You all know who you are, and my heartfelt appreciation, and my utmost respect goes out to all of you… Thank you for making our family what it has become this past year… it is ALL because of you!!

Much “LIFE” happened in between writing posts, making friends, and sharing experiences this past year….

Some of us experienced great loss and began personal journey’s of grief…

Some of us found love…

Some of us lost it…

Some of us found hope,

and others needed the hope and strength that only OUR friendship could bring…

But through all of it, the one thing I know for sure is that we all got to ‘know’ ourselves in a way we hadn’t, all of us played a ‘role’ in our own as well as some one else’s healing.. and we all made a difference in the lives of the people we love.  WE BECAME SISTERS… united in something much stronger than illness and pain.

365 days ago I started writing as a way to reach out to others, and the most miraculous thing happened…. I ended up reaching out to myself…. I started a journey of my own healing, found strength I never knew I had, and found happiness in a way I never knew was possible while living in agony.

Because, in sharing my life with others, I found love, hope, forgiveness, patience, and tolerance for so many other people, and those people mirrored myself… By seeing my reflection in all of you, I found me….

It has been one crazy ride, hasn’t it?

290 posts

21,600+ hits

210 support group members

Invaluable lessons,

and forever friends….

THAT is how I measure this past year…..

Take a minute to reflect on the last year for YOU… and all the blessings, wonders, lessons, and love it has brought into your life… THAT my friends, is THE REASON…

Thank you so very much for following my journey this past year…

Thank you for reaching out and becoming a part of my life…

Thank you for your friendship,

Your support,

Your encouragement,

Your tears,

And your love.



I hope the year ahead brings peace, healing, hope, and above all, a lot more love and friendship across the web, and in our homes and hearts.








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Ahh I remember the good old days… The days that existed before pain.  It isn’t easy for me to go back in my mind and think of those days very long.  It hurts.  A lot.  My body might not have any visceral memory of what it felt like to live without pain, but my mind does if I let it.

In those days the only limitations I had were cash (or lack thereof) in my pocket and a mandatory 4 or 5 hours of sleep per night, other than that the world was in the palm of my hands, or at least that is how I remember it anyhow…

I spent HOURS on the phone making plans for EVERY night of the week.  If I wasn’t out dancing, I was out for coffee with a girlfriend.  If I wasn’t out with a girlfriend I was enjoying the peaceful evenings browsing through the mall and fantasy shopping…. I planned vacations… I had friends… I had a social life… and then that all changed.

First I became a Mom, and settled down – but I changed my life because I wanted to…

Illness changed my life without asking my permission.

The things that I once loved to do hurt too much.  I couldn’t do them anymore.

No more dancing, no long trips to the mall, and coffee dates ALONE replaced those with friends because I never knew until the last-minute if I could go to a coffee shop or not… so when I can I just go myself.

I was thinking today about how I have changed my comfort level in the past 5 years… each time something gets taken away by my pain, I grieve over the loss – but I have no choice BUT to move forward somehow.  I have to move forward.  I don’t think I necessarily accept any of it, I think it is quite the opposite actually, but turning off somehow and becoming complacent is sometimes the only defense mechanism I’ve got.

So I numb myself out, and try to convince myself that I am fine just the way I am….

That I will never need anymore than what I have….

That my existence is completely fulfilling….

Until I realize that my comfort level is so teeny-tiny now, I don’t have room for anything outside of this little box.

I get up and spend the first hour of the day with my son and send him off to school, I take my meds, I sit on the couch and blog, email, read… and then I pour another coffee and knit for a while… and then I take more meds…. and then my honey leaves for work and I am ALL alone except for my pets…. and then I pour myself another coffee…. and then I get on the computer for a while…. then I go pick up my son, come home, and knit for a while before dinner… and then I take my meds…and well, you can just keep repeating that until bedtime save for a few moments that keep me sane.

My honey loves me immensely, and he gets me out of the house on his days off.

My little dude loves me too, and he likes to sit at the coffee shop with a book and a cookie while I get my java and a little background noise…

But it is all the same really.

When did I lose so much of myself?  Where did the fun-loving effervescent girl go?

She is hiding in the teeny-tiny box she put herself in…..

Now others may not see me this way at all, but you would have to ask them for I have no perspective than my own.  But when days turn into weeks, and week turn into months and the pain doesn’t let up – I brace myself against the world, I brace myself against EVERYTHING to protect myself from more pain.

Social anxiety replaces confidence….

And the teeny-tiny box gets even smaller.

But knowing the problem is half the battle as they say.

Maybe I need to change things a little for MYSELF….


Maybe it is time I get a little uncomfortable……

Because I’m telling you… Comfort sucks sometimes.

I miss me some days.


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“I am so cold” I remember saying, as I followed my Mom into her bedroom….. My teeth were chattering in the middle of July.  I was chilled to the bone and uncomfortably so, yet I needed to strip the navy blue suit off me.  The gold piping along my pockets seemed too garish for such an occasion.  “Take it off” my Mom said “I will give you something to put on”.  She handed me an old sweatshirt and sweatpants and I put them on and climbed onto my parent’s bed, covering up with a blanket… I didn’t think that icy feeling would ever go away…..

We had just come from my Brother’s funeral.

And I was empty.

My brother was gone.

And so was I, or at least it felt that way.

Dave passed away two weeks after my 25th birthday, and I was ill-prepared for such an all-encompassing sadness.  I remember running on auto-pilot the first few days after his death, but as the funeral came to an end, and life around me just went on… I lost my place in this world.  Life indeed went on without me.  My friends still went to work, and still went for drinks on a Friday night…. My Boss still expected that I come into work each day…. There were still bills to pay, food to cook, toilets to clean…. and I still had a wedding to attend… MY WEDDING… but I couldn’t do any of it.  I couldn’t even form a solid thought in my head… all I felt was EMPTY.

That day turned into 3, and I hadn’t yet taken off those sweatpants….  I cried all night long, and my days were filled with anything that would numb me out – I started watching soap operas… LOTS of soap operas…. and I began to knit LONG swatches of fabric, only to rip them out violently and start all over again.  Food meant nothing to me, having my hair done meant nothing to me…. time meant nothing to me….  I initially crawled into the rabbit’s hole to protect myself, but I kept creeping further into darkness until I couldn’t find my way out.

I pulled myself together long enough to walk down the aisle… I looked very put together that day – smiling, hugging, playing the quintessential hostess, but inside was a different matter entirely.

I pulled myself together long enough to go on my honeymoon, and come home with stories to tell…. and then I promptly fell apart.

I never went back to work.

My thoughts were no longer my own.

The darkness went from old friend to evil foe….

I admitted that I was on a runaway train headed for nowhere…

I admitted that I was powerless to my depression

I spent the next 8 months getting help.

I always looked back on that time as the most life-changing period of my life.  As time went on, and both medication and therapy helped me grieve over the loss of my brother, I began to find myself again.  It was hard for me to accept that the ME I was had been forever changed, but I learned to like the new ‘me’.  I eventually climbed out of that  hole, and into the land of the living again…  but part of me lived in fear that the darkness would eventually come back…

and it did…. 6 years later,

When I became ill.

Once you have been depressed, you never forget the feeling.  But it has a way of slowly sneaking up on you and ever so lightly putting its arm around you like a long-lost friend.  The isolation can be inviting when you are overwhelmed with life – the empty room lures you in, and then LOCKS you in…. It makes you thinks that the choice is yours, that you can come and go as you please…. and then it binds and gags you and renders you helpless. IT decides how long it will stay…

When depression first hit, I let it control my every breath… when it hit the second time I wasn’t that willing to hand over my life… I fought hard….

and it was ugly,

and it was vicious,

and it was all I could do to keep waking up each morning and fighting all over again…. but I did it.

And I keep doing it…just  because chronic pain and depression are friends with one another doesn’t mean they are friends of mine.

My pain would like me to end the fight.  My pain would like me to surrender.  My pain would like me to jump back into the rabbit’s hole…. but I won’t give it that kind of satisfaction.

Although I cannot control those feelings from entering my life, I DO have a say in how long they stay.

Pain has taken away a lot…. but I won’t let it take away my happiness.

You know what they say….

Living well is the best revenge…

and it is the way I choose to attack the darkness.

I am human, and still get depressed from time to time, but I know now that I don’t have to let it control my life.

Depression is a chronic illness, but it doesn’t have to be a terminal illness.

There will always be darkness, but it is up to me to let in the light.

I have been house-bound for the last 10 years, but I no longer watch soap operas… I have more useful things to do with my life…

And just so you know, I have thrown away those sweatpants my Mom gave me years ago…

I don’t need them anymore.

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It is a completely private, and moderated group of amazing ‘survivors’ just like you.  Our group is a meeting place to share experiences, hopes, frustrations, and tears.  It is a forum to speak about any health related news, medication, and potential new therapies.

It is a safe haven for those who are looking for people who understand your journey through a life of pain and/or illness. You truly are not alone!!

I look forward to seeing you there!!

HUGS AND KISSES to my Facebook family, I love you guys!!

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Okay Everyone!!!! It is time to announce the Second Round of the Graceful Agony Blog Carnival!!  Are YOU going to participate????

This Round’s topic is something I think everyone can relate to – it is a very real thing that some many of us who deal with Chronic Illness deal with… It is Depression.

The Topic for this round is “WHO TURNED OFF THE LIGHTS? – When depression hits”.  You may include personal stories of when you have had to deal with depression, if a partner/spouse/family member has been depressed due to your illness, share your strength and hope, words of encouragement… You can even make a wordless blog post and tell a story through pictures and songs if you like… be creative!!  How have you conquered that big ‘black hole’ in the past… What do you do when depression rears its ugly head again?  By sharing our own personal experiences we have the power to support and encourage one another!

Round 2 will go ‘live’ on Sunday, September 19th, and you must have the link of your post and pertinent info emailed to me by Wednesday, September 15 at Midnight… (gracefulagony@gmail.com)


Once the Blog Carnival is Published on Graceful Agony and you have read through all of the posts, please write a blog post on YOUR blog sharing your experience and a link back to the Carnival so that YOUR readers can follow along as well.


The first round was SO successful!!! Thanks again to everyone who participated!! I hope Round 2 will be JUST as successful!

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