the burden is not light

The girl in the pictures above looks happy, light, and care free. But it has taken quite some time to feel comfortable in who she is, flaws and all.

Talking about mental health and working through those issues is hard. But discussing it in the south, seems even harder.

Almost two years ago I realized my anxiety was something I couldn’t control on my own anymore. No matter how much I tried to remove stressors from my life, practice self-care, or pray about it, I just couldn’t do it on my own.

I was worrying over minute details. I was always exhausted, but couldn’t seem to find any rest in my body or my mind. Concentrating on tasks at work was hard. I became irritable over the strangest things and would allow these moods to ruin my day because they were controlling my life.

I finally decided to do something about this and sought medical help for a prescription. While it took some trial and error with different medications and took my body some time to adjust, it improved my day-to-day life tremendously. I could finally function again.

But oddly enough, I felt embarrassed I needed help. I felt ashamed every morning I pulled my little green pills out to take one. I grew up learning people who sought assistance with something like anxiety or depression basically just needed to toughen up and pray about it.

Many will say, “Oh God is just testing you, He never gives more than you can handle!” or “Your mental illness is a punishment for sinning.” I prayed and pleaded with God for so long. I felt as if something were wrong with me or I was doing something wrong and that is why I couldn’t shake the feeling of anxiety constantly overwhelming me. So why wasn’t God “fixing” me?

The prevailing culture of silence along with misguided attitudes and erroneous expectations often cause suffering believers to feel shamed, blamed and very unsupported. *raises hand*

It look me quite some time. But I finally became PROUD of myself for taking the initiative to do something. Through this journey, I have even found a therapist I love (who I should definitely visit more often.) I know some people laugh that I pay money to express my thoughts and concerns with a “stranger” every few weeks. But whew it is money well spent!

I encounter this stigma around mental health often living in the south. The idea that the disruptions in our brains can be simply solved with prayer. I have to pause and say that my faith is very strong and real and I believe in the healing powers of Jesus. But He also created modern medicine and the will and sense to utilize these resources. We get confused when we think we can’t take a prescription because it would mean we don’t trust God enough.

So friends if you are going through it or have been there before, please know you are not alone. I am so proud to see how progressive the mental health movement has become and the openness a lot of my friends and I have about needing a little extra “help.” Let’s continue that momentum and encourage others to take care of their mental health in whatever capacity they need.

baby got goals

Did you make a resolution at the beginning of the year? Did you “fail” a week in or not even try at all?

Just because we only have four months left in 2019, doesn’t mean it’s too late to get started. Instead of waiting until next January to crush your goals, why not start now?

Improve Health and Wellness

Health and wellness go beyond your physical body. It also includes your mind and soul, so be sure to think beyond your waistline as well. Do you need to start practicing more self-care? Have you been struggling with depression or anxiety? Don’t wait until next year to take care of yourself! I started doing yoga earlier this year and dropped all of my other gym memberships because not only is it good for my body, it is also good for my mind. It also is more feasible for my body to do multiple times a week since endometriosis makes a high-impact workout painful!

Save Money or Get Out of Debt

This is something I started doing mid-yearish. I knew I wanted to save more and spend LESS! I looked at my bank statements to see where I was spending all my money! You may not think much about a $3 burger here or a $4 coffee there, but these little things add up quick. I started doing the Dave Ramsey envelope system and now I see what all the hype is about!!

Get a New Job

If you loathe your current job or have been wanting to make a change for years, start doing things to get a new job today! Don’t wait around several months and continue to be miserable when you could be doing something about it!  Freshen up your resume. Update your LinkedIn. Make a list of the companies that you would love to work for and reach out to them or sign up to get job opening alerts.

Making SMART Goals

Whew, I hear about SMART goals all the time in my professional life! But they are the key to accomplishing any of these goals. SMART goals are goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Based

Keep track of your progress month-by-month and take pride in each and every step you take. As you achieve your mini goals, reward yourself well. Do you have goals you’ve made progress on lately? Or are you setting new ones before the year is over? Let me know in the comments!

This is the only life you’ve got—let’s finish this year well no matter how it started! 

two months

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Abnormal, painful, heavy and/or irregular menstruation.

Intense abdominal pain and cramping outside of period.

Fatigue, bloating, nausea.

These are the vague symptoms you will find if you Google endometriosis.

Endometriosis occurs when the endometrium tissue lining the uterus is found around the organs, pelvis and other areas of the body instead of being shed during monthly menses. This causes scar tissue, chronic debilitating pain, mood swings, anxiety, depression, infertility, body image issues just to name a few symptoms.  No one brings up night sweats, blood clots, or nausea. How about chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and dizziness. I bet you didn’t know that knee pain, back pain, certain food intolerances, and vitamin deficiencies are also associated with endometriosis.

Many women (including myself) suffer in silence and the usual timeframe for diagnosis is 10 years, as it is difficult to detect. Endometriosis is incurable. 

No one tells you how it happens, about the days you will cry because you are in intense pain or how many times you will have to call in “sick” to work with no real explanation of what the heck is going on with you. I am constantly faced with physical pains that I can’t control even with the strongest painkillers.

I can date my symptoms back ten years ago.  I was only thirteen and had to make an appointment with a gynecologist. While I won’t mention this well-known doctor’s name, she brushed it off saying, “It was just a part of becoming a woman.”‘ Uh, yikes ok. 

So I went on accepting this as my truth. Accepting the days of sitting in class pretending I felt okay that extended well into my working years. Calling in sick makes me feel guilty because my boss or co-workers don’t always understand what I’m going through and I often think I’m letting them down.

As the years went by, sometimes I would mention it here and there to doctors and they would act nonchalant as if living with this pain and discomfort was something I could get by with.

The final straw was when my previous doctor told me I was ovulating and it would pass. When I insisted differently, she suggested we change my birth control. Not only would this wreak hormonal havoc on my body, but I also knew it wasn’t the answer. So I stood up for myself. I said no.

I kicked her to the curb and demanded she refer me elsewhere.

I couldn’t do it anymore.

So after countless dollars spent on wasted doctor’s appointments, I saw a leading physician specializing in endometriosis. She suggested I have a laparoscopic procedure because she was sure I had endo.

I was overwhelmed. After I stopped ugly crying, I realized I was relieved. Finally. Vindication. Confirmation. I am believed.

I told a select few people.

What will you do? Make sure you do it. Are you going to do it? I don’t think you’ll do it. Please do it. Have you tried yoga? Have you considered meditation? Have you tried not eating dairy? How about nutrition? Medication is bad for the body and you’re an addict. All those chemicals. You can’t take that. What are you going to take instead? Can you have babies? Are you infertile? You should have a baby. You should start having babies. Why aren’t you having babies? Are you better? We can’t wait for you to feel better —to get back to normal.

Normal is now tiredness. Exhaustion. It’s being slow. It’s feeling slow. Withdrawn. Feeling sick. I am sick. Always keeping it secret. F. Feeling small. Thinking about it. Thinking about pain. Always thinking about my body. Your body. Assessing every twinge, every tug, every pull, every ache. Waiting. Holding your breath and counting. Waiting for it to stop. To get worse. To come back again.

Two months ago today, I was first diagnosed and had a laparoscopy. My endo is so severe it caused organs to shift and tilt.

I am now faced with the harsh truth that the physical pain is paired with the emotional pain of the possibility of not being able to carry a child, my first surgery will probably not be my last and I am on a medication that has kicked my body into early menopause.

While the road ahead is difficult, I know had I not been an advocate for myself while sitting in a small cold exam room with nothing but a gown the quality of a cheap paper towel, I would still be suffering in silence.

Fortunately, I have learned the capacity of my strength and fortitude due to this disease.

If you’re a woman suffering from chronic, mystery pain that doctors are just shrugging their shoulders at, I hope you are inspired to be an advocate for yourself as well.

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