Category Archives: Stress

FibrofighterNicole Weekend Update

The Agony of Fibromyalgia

Entertainment 

  • Movie – Julie & Julia
  • TV Shows – Cutthroat Kitchen, Family Guy, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Quantico.
  • Music: Disclosure, Sia, Enya, Jess Glynne, Gorgon City, Letherette, AlunaGeorge, Skrillex, Diplo, Jack U, The Jets, Robert Palmer.

The Agony of Fibromyalgia  

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The chronic illness battle has been on fire for me this weekend. A big thing to note is that I’m without my (herbal) medicine and that makes all of my illnesses worse including my depression. Add on my usual depression during the holidays. I can’t afford it anymore. The costs are higher and beyond my budget which means I’m going to really suffer during the holidays season and next month. I hate no having money to get things I need. I wish I could take care of it myself. I’ve even asked for help and got my response back or ignored.  I’ve been crying every single day as the fibromyalgia pain is too high up. I’ve thought of setting up a GoFundMe to possibly get funding to pay for my herbal medicine. The only thing has stopped me is that I don’t know enough people who would be willing to help me in that way. I also need help in getting more crafting supplies for my art therapy art supplies. I see so many others who gain funding so easily.  I feel really stuck with those type of things.  I’m happy that I created an Etsy shop to showcase my crafting mixed media artwork.  

 Most times I feel like I’m losing my fecking mind and that no one can help me get better. I’m on the east coast for the holiday season. I wasn’t planning on being out here during the holidays season but I couldn’t afford traveling back to see my parents. I’ve been experiencing high levels of depression and a spike in fibromyalgia pain. Everything in my body has flared up, and inflammation is heavy. One of the issues is joint pain that affects my ability to do anything. I can’t type well, can’t grasp things well, nor move properly. The weather here has been all over here from 30 degrees to 70 degrees. Add on chilly winds and such dramatic changes in the barometer and humidity. My body is unable to get used to any of the weather changes and it is never given a chance to get used to the weather or its surroundings. Im sure it will dip down in colder weather season again and I’ll be crying all over again which may happen tonight. I’ve exhausted all that would make me happy and I don’t have anything else. I’m still limited with my crafts as I don’t have all that I need to make even better completed crafting projects. 
 

There are things I’d love to get that would reduce my fibromyalgia pain and my depression disorders but it’s very expensive and there are legalities attached to it. While it has been decriminalized it’s not enough to guarantee safety. These are the times I wish I was living back in California again as I would have access to that wonderful green plant they have there in various strains. And it’s strong. That’s the only medicine that helps to relieve my pain completely. The strengths here are uneven compared to the legal states. There is no way to know what strain is being used nor what strength. I’ve learned I need to use a higher level strain to reduce my fibromyalgia pain and elevate my mood. My pain is too high. Entirely too high. I’ve learned what I need isn’t available.  

   

 

While I’m here with family, I see it is still difficult for them to understand what’s going on with me and I don’t understand them well. It’s hard to explain what’s going on with me too in laymen terms. I wish I had more interesting things to discuss but right now I do not. My health is numero uno.  All I know is that I’m feeling the full wrath of my chronic illnesses.
I don’t feel a connection with them like I should and I believe it’s vice versa for them. It feels like my needs are seen as lazy and immature. I’ll always be kid in my mind and heart. I’m awkward in how I speak and my words come out of me out of order. I end up offending them without realizing it and these days I’m afraid to speak. They want me to act a certain way, and that’s not me. It’s not a part of my personality. I like how silly, and humorous I am. A good sense of humor.  I hope one day I’ll be able to care for myself but I know I would need to have a caregiver to help me.  The list of things I can’t do is very overwhelming.  I try to not think about it too much as much as I can but I’m not always successful.  

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Signs of a Toxic Friendship

romantic-girl_w725_h544I have been very busy with various engagements and so many things that I have to do which includes preparing for a large move which does add to my stress levels.  Added stress is unfortunately bad for me.  What I wanted to talk about was the nature of difficult and toxic friendships.  I have been through the wringer with online and offline friends due to my nonstop chronic health problems.  Sometimes I don’t always notice that a sinking ship is going on as I have my own sinking ship with my health issues.

For instance, I have had the same friendship for well over a decade and it has unfortunately grown in toxicity.  I recognized that while the individual didn’t understand one of my illnesses very well they didn’t put any effort into even trying to understand.  I took the time out to learn more about their health issues and I saw that it was an uneven amount of interest.  I have had past friendships where the person was completely smothering me.  They were upset that I decided to try some new things in my life. Unfortunately they were not happy for me. They were controlling and very self-centered.

I have been going through a process of growth and becoming more of a positive person again. I may not always succeed but I keep trying anyway. That’s the most important thing!  I have learned that not everyone is happy for me.  The ones that are unhappy with my attempts at improving my life, I have reduced my contact with them.  I noticed a level of jealousy and I don’t get that.  The increased rudeness and arrogance I don’t stand for and I would let them know but they refused to listen.  They would immediately cut me off while I was speaking with them and disappeared offline.  They would try to overstep my boundaries and I would let them know by addressing the issues at hand.

It’s important to keep good company around you.  It’s important to have helpful and positive people around you. I’m happy that I have people around me who are genuinely happy with what I’m trying to do in my life.  They are encouraging me to keep going and to not give up.

Several signs of a toxic people:

  • Friends who will say they are supportive but instead they are trying to put you down and guide you down a terrible or dangerous path.
  • You come away from the conversations feeling miserable and completely drained.
  • They are insulting and negative to you and others.
  • They are unsupportive and can’t be counted on to be there for you.
  • They are selfish or self-centered and can’t be bothered by something if it is not about them.
  • They are a bad influence by trying to encourage you to make poor life choices and bad decisions.

Quote:  You cannot change the people around you.  But you can change the people you choose to be around. – Karen Salmansohn

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder with the acronym S.A.D. affects sufferers primarily during the winter and spring seasons.  The winter season brings less sunlight, early darkness in the evening, colder temperatures, terrible weather, and change of the seasons.

It has been found that many with SAD found that one of the main symptoms is that it triggers depression.  It was discovered in the United States by Dr. Norman Rosenthal in 1984.  This condition is unfortunately commonly undiagnosed and this makes it difficult for people to get diagnosed and receive proper treatment.  It takes approximately two to three years for patients with SAD symptoms to be diagnosed by their physician.  Research by a UK organization called Mind, provides support to those with mental health issues, has found that approximately 10% of the general population in Europe has seasonal affective disorder.  The Cleveland Clinic has found that within the United States there about 500,000 people who suffer from SAD, and approximately 10%-20% of the US population battle with milder forms of seasonal affective disorder.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Sleep problems
  • Lack of libido
  • Lowered immune system
  • Relationship problems and lack of social interaction
  • Weight gain and overeating
  • Worrisome and guilt feelings
  • Unable to concentrate

There are no known causes of SAD but research has found that the change of seasons and the change in less light is a main trigger of the disorder. When there isn’t enough light, certain functions slow down and stop gradually in the body.  Add on lower serotonin levels which is known to appear in people who suffer with depression.

Treatments for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

There are several treatments that have had positive results for most sufferers such as antidepressant prescribed medications and bright light therapy (phototherapy).  The Social Affective Disorder Association (SADA) has found that bright light therapy is the most effective therapy option.  Over 85% diagnosed SAD sufferers have found that the bright light therapy worked for them.  Bright light therapy involves exposure to the light provided from the light therapy box for about 2 hours per day.  The light mimics outside sunlight and has an intense positive effect on SAD sufferers.  Researchers believe the artificial light works by helping the chemicals in the brain linked to the patient’s mood eases the SAD symptoms.

Additional options of SAD therapy include:

  • Counseling
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
  • Psychotherapy

The Social Affective Disorder Association (SADA) recommends that sufferers should avoid stress as much as possible, get as much exposure to daily light as they can, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

What is a TENS Unit?

Picture taken by Nicole Leon

Picture taken by Nicole Leon

This is one of the top questions I’m asked on Instagram regarding the TENS unit I received from a Fibro Angel who made my Santa wish come true as I was unable to afford one. The TENS unit stands for Transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation which is a type of electrical pump that helps to stimulate the nerves.  It sends out pulses of electricity through the adhesive electrodes that is applied to the skin.   The stimulation helps to block out the pain signals and controls pain.  The TENS unit helps both chronic and acute pain by reducing pain in the area.

I have fibromyalgia which is a long-term illness that causes a number of problems including:

  • All over body pain
  • Aches
  • Tenderness in the tissues, tendons, muscles and joints
  • Sensitivity to changes in weather, activity levels, stress, and depression
  • Lowered ability to work out or exercise
  • Migraine/Tension headaches
  • Sleep disorders
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Tingling and numbness in limbs
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain

Physical therapists use TENS units as a therapy option to help with controlling their patient’s pain.  The TENS unit is a handheld device that is small and portable.

TENS units are now more affordable and can be purchased online and at the local drug store. I have found that the device is helpful when my fibromyalgia pain isn’t too high. However, when my pain is too high it takes a long time for the TENS unit to ease the pain and at times can make the pain worse.  The TENS unit is a tool that may or may not work for others.  It’s a treatment option to look into and try it out to see if it works for you.

 

The Health Benefits of Laughter Therapy

laughingI have been using laughter therapy as a way of coping with all of my chronic disorders and diseases. While it has not been able to keep my mind completely off of the intense chronic pain and health problems I’m battling,  it still has in many ways relaxed my body. To laugh during such a difficult time in my life has helped me in more ways than I could ever imagine.  It would be hard for me to list them all.   I would say that it has saved my life.  I have been chronically ill with fibromyalgia for almost 15 years, depression disorders, and various other illnesses that completely ravaged my body making it impossible for me to control how my body reacts and functions.

I discovered that laughter has really helped me to keep my emotions in check to a degree and I feel a little better about myself.  Laughing has helped to keep my mind off of my fibromyalgia pain and side effects of my prescribed medications. There are times, such as now where my pain is incredibly high and I’m unable to find suitable assistance, I have found laughter therapy to still be a beneficial tool and a coping mechanism through all of the difficult battles I have dealt with over the years.  There are various well-documented medical research done on the effect of using laughter as a therapy tool.  The power of laughter is that it’s an antidote to relieving stress, problems and yes even pain.  Humor has the ability to bring much needed balance in the person’s life and lightens up their load too.

Benefits of laughter:

  • Reduces stress hormones such as endorphins, adrenaline and cortisol
  • Fights against respiratory infections and boosts the body’s immune system
  • Prevents heart disease
  • Expands the person’s views on situations reducing overwhelmed feelings
  • Improves the person’s overall mood
  • Add joy and excitement
  • Strengthens relationships with others
  • Defuses difficult situations
  • Attracts others to us and encourages unity amongst one another
  • Improves memory, alertness, and creativity
  • Increases memory and learning capabilities
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Gives the diaphragm, and abdominal region a good workout including respiratory, facial, back, and leg muscles

Ideas of where to find something funny to laugh at?

  • YouTube videos are a wonderful option as many videos are a few minutes long and can provide a much needed release.  My favorite type of videos to watch are primarily animal-based videos such as cats, dogs and wildlife getting themselves into the most interesting case of circumstances.
  • Reading online comic strips and cartoons.  Both of these can easily be found anywhere online, especially on Facebook.  I follow many online comics strips Facebook pages providing me exactly what I need each day.
  • Funny TV shows and movies are still the best options of watching something that appeals to you and will get you in the right frame of mind.
  • Search for comedians and people in general who will make you laugh. Attending a comedy club is the perfect way to get yourself in the laughing mood.
  • Do something silly and what that entails for me is making funny faces in the mirror.  Eventually I will laugh.  Sometimes it takes time for me to laugh but I will chuckle a little in due time.

 

So please keep in mind that laughter is truly the best medicine.

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