How My Life Fell Apart and How I’m Still Putting It Back Together

Ok so this is probably going to be a fairly long post but I don’t do that often so please excuse me this one time. What I’m about to talk is something very few people know about me and what happened in the fall. Last year was hard enough but in October, I felt like I just lost it. I had a mental breakdown that resulted in severe depression and anxiety. I was put into an Intensive Outpatient Program which, as some of you might know, is one step below inpatient psychiatric care. I managed to hide it from most people, really my amazing boyfriend is the only one who knew. He supported my search for help and did whatever he could to take care of me. I really do have one of the best boyfriends ever. So here’s a little bit about what happened.

I went to the ER in Sept. with stomach pain and some other issues. I was told they found what they thought was a cyst on my right ovary and fluid in my pelvis that they assumed was from a ruptured cyst. They said it was completely unrelated to my other symptoms and sent me home. Apparently, the two were not unrelated. In October, the 4th to be exact, I went for my GI follow up for my stomach. He didn’t think anything that needed urgent care was required so I went home. Thank god Scott was there because I sudden;y started getting this pain that just got worse and worse. Eventually I was literally screaming in pain every time he moved me. Off to the ER we went. After a whole big fiasco there that I won’t go into, I was finally taken back. I was told that I was about 2 months pregnant and that it was an ectopic that had ruptured. I would need emergency surgery and there was no guarantee they would be able to save my fallopian tube. Turns out that spot the first ER thought was a cyst? It wasn’t, it was an ectopic that could have been taken care of with medication had they realized what it was. Instead I had internal bleeding and one less tube.

For anyone who knows me, you all know how much I want kids. I’ve always wanted to be a mom. This was a huge blow for me. Just imagine wanting something so much and being told you have it only to have it ripped away within 10 seconds. It’s not that surprising that I was depressed after the fact but how deep that depression was is surprising. I literally woke up and went to work, came home and fell asleep, and when Scott got home he woke me up and forced me to eat and take my meds. I cried a lot. I didn’t want to do anything or see anyone. I didn’t even have the energy to turn the TV on half the time. Work was extremely difficult and it was taking me longer to finish normal tasks. Finally, after a month we decided I needed professional help. And so started my journey back to normalcy. I hid therapy from everyone, I didn’t want anyone thinking I was weak or overreacting. I have this immense fear of people thinking I’m overreacting (that would be why we didn’t take the ambulance that day….very stupid decision on my part). I’m still working on it but I’m much better than I was.

Depression and anxiety are very real and very hard. It takes a toll physically as well as mentally. Don’t let the fear of people judging you ever stop you from getting help before it gets too late. God knows how much worse I would have gotten without getting help. Also, just in case this happens to a friend just keep the following in mind – I know that you’re worried but for the love of all that is holy DO NOT YELL AT YOUR FRIEND! Don’t yell at them, don’t tell them what they should have done, don’t say anything at all negative. Hearing that does NOT help, it just makes things worse and makes me (or whoever) shut down even more. I know I completely retreated inside myself and that led me to not tell anyone or let anyone else know that something was wrong. Not even some of my closest friends.

Slowly but surely I’m getting better and I know I’ll be a mom someday. It wasn’t meant to be that time. I’m still working on believing that but I feel that I’ve come a long way in getting back to where I used to be and I bet all of you can as well. As always, feel free to contact me if you ever need someone to talk to!

Danielle

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Published in: on February 1, 2014 at 7:55 pm  Comments (2)  
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I’m baaaccckkk! (said in a sing songy voice)

Hi everyone!

I know it’s been a while but I’m finally back and ready to go! Well, kind of ready to go. Ready to be ready to go is more appropriate. I just responded to a ton of comments that had been pre-marked as spam so I’m sorry if it took a while for your comment to show up. I’ll have to go take a look and fix that.

Life’s been crazy busy for the last month – one big roller coaster ride. I had a paper due at school, a mock trial, and major health issues including surgery. But the good news is most of those are done and they all went well! I got an A on the paper, my side won the mock trial, and surgery went well with no complications. I am still on the mend from it but I was able to go back to school this week though it’s still slow going. The best part of that surgery? The biopsies they took all revealed no cancer! Yay! That’s basically the only important part of that. If I can get through these things in one big dose, so can you! However..if you need a little help, I have some tips that may make things easier.

  • Surround yourself with family and friends. My parents came down for the surgery. My brother and sister and best friend talked to me throughout the weeks leading up to it. My boyfriend was with me every step of the way and my friends down here were as supportive as can be. When things get rough, they’re the first people to make you feel better. They helped all the stress I was feeling about all of those things go down ten fold. Don’t underestimate the power of a good chat.
  • Try and make those projects enjoyable. I tried to pick a topic I could analyze and argue passionately about for my paper and the time it took to write it flew by. For my mock trial, I laughed. A lot. I tried to find humor in whatever I could in that case file and it relaxed me. It made it easier to question someone in front of a jury of strangers. School and work projects really don’t take as much out of you if you’re having fun so find the humor, get a friend involved, make a study party date with some friends – you’ll be done in no time.
  • Don’t push yourself. So I’m back in school this week and I regretted it on Monday. I was just not ready to go back and I shouldn’t have forced myself. I was miserable all that day and in more pain than I had been in 4 days. It’s okay to sleep and lay in bed all day. Don’t try and do things your body is clearly telling you it’s not ready to do.
  • Eat. Busy times are probably the most important times to keep eating and eating healthy. It’ll help you keep your energy up and give you the ability to think clearly. I tend to eat less when I’m stressed and then I get tired and feel sick all the time. This time I didn’t, I forced myself to eat as normally as possible and it was so much easier to get through the last month!
I’m sure I’ll come up with more with exams coming up but that’s all I have for now. Thank you again for reading and being patient with my absence these last couple of week!
Published in: on November 2, 2011 at 4:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Achy joint relief? Yes please!

I found this article and thought it might be helpful. I’ve tried some remedies on my own but not these (except physical therapy which I have had) yet. I plan on trying them, I’ll let you know how it works out!

From http://www.everydayhealth.com/arthritis/chronic-pain.aspx?xid=aol_eh-arth_1_200111003&aolcat=AJA

Living With Chronic Joint Pain

Ease arthritis pain and stiffness with these smart tips — no medication or surgery required.

Medically reviewed by Ed Zimney, MD

There’s no doubt that arthritis — and the joint pain that goes with it — can be difficult to live with day in and day out. But there are ways to make life easier that don’t involve medication or surgery.

Here are some alternative methods to ease joint pain and discomfort.

Physical Therapy for Joint Pain

Many people with arthritis have stiff joints, partly because they avoid movements that can cause pain — but immobilizing joints will only increase stiffness. That’s where physical therapy comes in.

The goal of physical therapy is to get patients back to the point where they can perform normal, everyday activities without difficulty, says Bronwyn Spira, PT, a physical therapist and director of physical rehabilitation at New York Physical Rehabilitation & Wellness in New York City. “It surprises many, but exercise will help your joints feel better, not worse,” says Spira. A physical therapist can prescribe exercises designed to decrease stiffness and improve muscle strength, as well as show you how to move and change positions (for example, getting up from a chair or out of bed or picking up something off the floor) with minimal pain. She can also demonstrate how to use walking aids, such as a cane, walker, or crutches.

To find a physical therapist who works with arthritis patients, ask your doctor for a referral. Most insurance plans cover a specific number of physical therapy sessions per year when prescribed by a physician.

Home Modifications

Another strategy for managing arthritis pain is to avoid twisting, pinching, squeezing, and pulling because these motions can stress the joints and exacerbate pain. Sharry Wallach, an occupational therapist in New York City, suggests the following modifications around the home:

  • Replace doorknobs and faucets. Lever-style handles are easier on the joints than knobs that require a twisting motion to operate.
  • Modify lamps. Replace small, rotating knobs on existing lamps with larger, grip-and-turn knobs. Consider buying lamps that turn on with a touch or are activated by voice or motion.
  • Opt for pump-top bottles. Pushing a pump of dish soap, hand lotion, shampoo, or toothpaste is easier than squeezing a tube or bottle.

Assistive devices — products specifically designed for arthritis sufferers — can make living with chronic pain easier too. These include wide-grip foam handles for eating utensils, scissors, garden tools, reach extenders, and jar openers.

Alternative Therapies for Chronic Pain

Complementary and alternative medicine can also help ease joint pain. For example, several studies have found that acupuncture helps reduce arthritis pain, may decrease the need for pain medications, and can help increase joint flexibility.

There are conflicting studies on the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin, but some have demonstrated a beneficial effect on OA, especially for patients with moderate to severe knee pain. Additionally, fish oil supplements may help reduce arthritis inflammation. “Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are natural anti-inflammatories,” says Beth Reardon, R.D., a nutritionist at Duke University’s Integrative Medicine Center. Consult with your doctor before taking any dietary supplements, because some may interfere with the actions of other medications.

You may also want to consider mind-body therapies such as hypnosis, progressive muscle relaxation, tai chi, and yoga, which have all been that have been shown to help people living with chronic pain. Best of all, these holistic therapies have no known negative side effects.

The Emotional Side of Chronic Pain

Finally, while you’re caring for your body, don’t ignore your emotional well-being. Depression, anger, frustration, and anxiety are common for many with chronic arthritis. Not only can these feelings make it tough to muster the energy and motivation to cope with joint discomfort, they can worsen pain, says Michael First, MD, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University. For those who find themselves overwhelmed emotionally, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches patients to recognize and correct their destructive negative thought processes, can be helpful, says Dr. First. Support groups offer another good option. “Being with people who understand what you’re dealing with can help you feel less alone, and you may pick up some new pain-coping strategies,” notes Dr. First.

Last Updated: 09/22/2011
Published in: on October 7, 2011 at 10:23 pm  Comments (7)  
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Set-backs

As everyone knows, in life we experience set-backs. Today happened to be a day I experienced several. Turning to, of course, my family I got some great advice that in reality is very simple but sometimes you just need to hear other people say it.

Everything went wrong today, or it felt like it did. I woke up fighting with the insurance people, had my interview cancelled, and then got some not so great health news. I came home in tears, my boyfriend tried to cheer me up and let me cry. Then I talked to my mom, she said cry it all out, take a deep breath, and remember it’s okay. I know that doesn’t seem like intricate advice but it was really helpful for me and I really needed to hear that it was okay.

I am an overachiever. I always have been and always will be. Sometimes, I forget (or I intentionally disregard) the fact that I am actually sick. It’s hard to understand that sometimes, lupus will stop me from doing the same exact things as everyone else and really, I’ve come extremely far for anyone, even compared to a lot of healthy people. I had an interview that got cancelled – my dad told me to remember they saw something in me originally that made them want to interview me even though I didn’t necessarily have to top GPA. I hadn’t thought of it like that, I just thought “Everyone else is better then me and now I feel like crap about myself.” Sometimes you really just need to hear, or tell a friend, that it’s okay that you’re not perfect. It’s okay that you didn’t get the job or the interview. It’s okay that your best is not necessarily as good in the ways other people’s are. They aren’t dealing with this issue, I am and I’ve done really well for myself.

From Left to Right: Dad, Sister, Me, Mom (Brother is missing)

We all have set-backs in our lives,  minor and major. The important thing to remember is we are dealing with something other people aren’t. We must find a way and work harder than others to get where we want to be. As long as we remember how far we’ve come in our lives, those set-backs won’t be anything more than dust in the wind.

Published in: on September 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm  Comments (6)  
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Summer fun

With this massive heatwave that’s hitting the south, I thought I’d talk a little bit about lupies and the summer. While most of love the sun and love being outside, it’s just not possible to be out for very long without risking a flare up. In this heat, it’s even worse. Just going from 106 degrees outside to my car which is 110 degrees inside and then back inside the house which is 75 degree kills me….and that all happens in just a few seconds! So, my solution has been to go outside in very short bursts and stay inside while I wait for this heatwave to end. Here are some suggestions on how to have fun for short periods outside and longer periods inside.

1. Sit outside under an umbrella or on a porch and read a chapter of your favorite book. It’s not much but it warms you up and you get your daily dose of the outdoors.

2. Have a movie marathon inside – my boyfriend and I watched all the Harry Potter movies this week (I know I’m a dork but he hadn’t seen any of them!)

3. Make a new recipe and savor.

4. Go to the pool! Water is always good to cool off and it lets you stay out longer.

5. Plan activities with your friends like going to a movie or getting dinner. Usually I grab food outside of my house once a week, it’s refreshing!

I’m in a bit of a rush so that’s it for now!

Published in: on July 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lost this round

Okay so sickness won last week and I was unable to post a second time like I wanted to. My days consisted of going to work at 8am, coming home at 5, eating dinner, sleeping til 9, eating a snack and night time meds, going to bed for the night and doing it all over again the next day. I’m sure the heat has been contributing to this mini flare, going from 110 degrees to 70-75 degrees in . 2 seconds I don’ ‘think is good for anybody. I’ll post later today, or tomorrow about my attempts to avoid heat sickness and flares from sun. Unfortunately, I did not do well avoiding flares from work. Guess I should’ve taken my own advice better huh?

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Oops!

I know, I missed posting last week but I’ll make up for it this week with two posts! Exhaustion and pain kept me off the computer for a lot of the week so I’ll talk about that a little bit. Mind you, this is going to be a lot of advice form others as well as my own thoughts on it. It’s mostly common sense. I tend to not follow it and it gets me in lots of trouble.

1) Sleep!! Okay so I know a lot of us have insomnia and can’t sleep well at night but we need to at least try and get a full 8 hours (more or less depending on your body). Set a bed time, especially when you have stuff to do the next day such as work and stick to it. I always say I’m going to bed at a decent hour and then don’t get to bed until an hour later. Therefore, I suggest saying something like “I”m going to bed at 9” if you really want to get to bed by 10.

2) Another tip for sleeping: Do something that makes your brain tired before hopping into bed. I don’t mean TV or mindless video games. Read, play puzzle games like crosswords or sudoku. Engage your mind and tire it out, it’ll help you fall asleep more quickly.

3) Eat every few hours. I get tired when I don’t eat every few hours but I also get tired if I eat too much. What I’ve begun doing, mostly during the work day, is eating about every two hours. Not huge meals mind you. I have waffles (or cookies and milk, I  know, horrible habit!) before leaving, a yogurt or strawberry breakfast bar or fruit about two hours after getting there, lunch about two hours after that, string cheese, goldfish, cereal or other munchies about two hours after that, then home for dinner. Or if dinner isn’t ready, another snack. This keeps my energy level relatively in control throughout the day. (This is another rule I did not follow this week…)

4) Get up and stretch, don’t sit all day unless you really can’t get out of bed. I know about those days when you’re joints hurt so much you can barely move but for those other days when it’s not excruciatingly painful – get up and move. Even if it’s just 10 minutes of stretching every few hours, do it! It’ll get your circulation going and make you feel a whole lot better later on. At work, get up and stretch out of your seat every few hours. Stretching in your seat is good too, I do it every half hour or so. If you’re on your feet all day at a job such as retail or restaurant workers, stretch whenever you get a chance. My back and hips killed when I’d go long hours without stretching in those positions and you do not want to be in tears and immobile when you get home. You want to be able ot go out and have some fun!

5) If your body is telling you something listen. It took 3 days of waking up with headaches and 1 of waking up with a migraine for me to realize my body wanted me to stay home. When I finally listened, I felt much better the next day. This is probably the tip I ignore the most but really, it’s probably the most important one. Don’t ignore your body! I know we’ve all heard it over and over but you don’t want it to take something really bad to happen in order to believe it.

Once again, I hope this helps at least a little bit! Please e-mail or post any questions you have and I’ll be sure to answer within the week!

Published in: on July 17, 2011 at 12:02 pm  Comments (1)  
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Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, it’s off to work I go!

So today, I think I’ll discuss how to handle working a full time job with a disability such as lupus or arthritis. Despite the fatigue and horribly achy joints, it is in fact possible to do. I currently intern as a law clerk at the Attorney General’s Office – this means I sit in a chair for 8 hours a day. That 8 hours is sometimes broken up by a very long walking tour through a prison or court and always includes one nice walk to for lunch. If you’ve never worked a full time job before, it will wear you out. If you’re sick and have never done it before, brace yourself for the first few days.

What I have learned over the last two summers is the following:

1) Make sure you tell your bosses you need close parking. Even if they tell all the new employees they have to walk a mile from the parking lot, they should be able to accommodate you in some way. If they expect me to wear heels when my ankles and knees are acting I up, I expect not to have to arrive at my building in tears.

2) Get up and move around throughout the day. Taking a walk down the hall is a good stretch for your joints and muscles and keeps them from tightening when sitting too long. In reality, you should do this whether or not you have a disability. Studies show that sedentary life styles lead to earlier death so get up an move! I always warn my co-workers that I’ll be up and about several times a day so they don’t always wonder where I’m going or get surprised when I leave for seemingly no reason.  That’s just me though, really it’s none of their business so if you’re not comofortable say anything don’t!

3) Bring a pill box full of ibuprofen or any other anti-inflammatory/headache/body ache meds you need. Stop trying to impress people by being “strong.” If you’re hurting, you’re going to be miserable which in turn makes people not want to interact with you. Turn to a corner, grab you’re water bottle and take one, believe me, no one is watching and if they are they won’t think anything of it.

4) On that note, always bring a water bottle and stay hydrated. When I forget mine, I can’t function as well. My mouth and throat get dry constantly and it’s distracting. It not only takes away from the quality of the project I’m working on, but it makes me not want to be at work at all. It escalates and I start thinking about everything else bothering me. Maybe it’s just me, but keeping little things like this in check helps me a lot.

5) Carry a scarf to throw over your legs if you get cold along with a pair of gloves and a pair of socks. I suffer from Raynaud’s Phenomenon as do a lot of lupus patients. Yea sometimes I look a little goofy with my feet out of my heels and socks on but I’d rather people to walk when I need to. I tend to wear quirky things anyway so at least in my office, it’s not surprising to anyone. Gloves is another thing that might look weird but if it helps, it helps. People will get used to it and not even notice.

6) Some days, no matter what you do you simply feel like crap. That’s what happened to me today. My fatigue and joint pain are way up, my mouth is swollen and my head is hurting. I left early and said I’d be working from home tomorrow. In today’s day and age, telecommuting once in a while is a viable alternative to driving in to the office. Don’t be afraid to ask to leave early and don’t be afraid to ask to work from home if you’re project allows you to do so.

Yea, it’s hard when you have a disability like lupus. Hard doesn’t mean impossible and it is a completely realistic goal to be able to work 40 hours a week like everyone else. It is okay to ask for accommodations, just don’t be scared and make sure you make those you’re asking well aware that you can do the work just as well as anyone else! At the end of the day, you should be proud of yourself for try to control your own life instead of letting your condition control it.

Published in: on July 7, 2011 at 7:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hello world!

Hello all! I’ve moved my blog from blogger to WordPress and hope to update it much more frequently now. Allow me to introduce myself: I am a 24 year old law student about to begin her last year at UNC School of Law. I love helping people of all ages with whatever their problems may be. I have lupus and do a lot of work raising awareness and funds for lupus research. Friends come to me for advice of all matters of life – dating, college, grad school, moving, traveling, everything! I enjoy helping as much as I can and that’s what this blog is about. If you have any subject you specifically want help on, please let me know! I’ll do my best to find a way to help you out along with anyone else who needs it.

For now, I’ll leave my intro. Be sure to check back at least once a week for a new topic as I’ll be participating in the Post A Week 2011 challenge on WordPress. This means every week for the rest of the year there will be a new post, maybe even more frequently then that!

Published in: on July 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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