Photographic Therapy

Okay so life has gotten a bit overwhelming and this post might seem somewhat scatterbrained because I can’t quite figure out what to write about. I have several topics in mind but I’ll start with a little bit of mental health – the other topics will just have to wait until another post.

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I broke up in a hell of a way — lots of drama. Here’s the thing about me when bad stuff happens, I slide along a scale or different levels of depression.

0. Get pissed, maybe cry once, back onto normal life.
1. Still smiles, still laughs, goes out like nothing is wrong, all while feeling the exact opposite of what I’m showing
2. Cries a whole lot, eats junk food, watches cheesy movies, constantly talks to everyone.
3. Hides in the bedroom, under the covers, cries, doesn’t eat, doesn’t talk to anyone, internalizes every thing
4. No longer enjoys anything at all in the entire world, wants nothing but to sleep and never emerge from the house again.

Bad break-ups, when coupled with health issues I’m having at the time, usually leave me around a 3 or 4. This time, even though I was heartbroken, I was determined not to let it get to that point again. As part of that attempt, I picked my camera back up – something I hadn’t done in I don’t know how long – and started taking self-portraits. My goal? Remember, and photograph creatively, those things that make me happy in life and make me…well…me! I only did it for a week before I had family visit and totally forgot about it but that week made me feel so much better. Not only did it get my mind off of the misery I was feeling, but it made me remember what makes me happy. Sometimes they were silly, sometimes thoughtful…but they were always just me.

I wish I could put the pictures in from my iPad but unfortunately I can’t so I’ll edit the post later from my computer and add some of them. I had so much fun doing these pictures that I plan on doing them for a whole month – hopefully the end product will be a photograph for everyday. And every time I look at them, all the memories that are part of me will come back. And I’ll smile.

I recommend everyone do a project like this, I really do. Even if it’s just with your camera phone – it really does get your mind off everything bad that’s happening. The girl in the photographs has no worries – she is confident, silly, beautiful, funny, and a million other things. She is not heartbroken and not sick. This project will remind you of the small moments that make life fun and it boosts your self-confidence (really, who doesn’t need that extra boost once in a while?).

If you do try it, please let me know! Message me, email me, comment, whatever. I’d love to sell all of your beautiful faces 🙂

Edit: Here are a few of the photos I took, I hope you enjoy!

Parisian Style

Just because I have to wear a hat doesn't mean it can't be stylish

Just me

Just little old me, plain and simple

Sillyness!

Gotta have my spa days!

Published in: on February 29, 2012 at 11:52 am  Comments (1)  
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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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Migraine? Butterfly rash? Joint pain?

This was actually supposed to be posted back in the beginning of August, I just now realized it never posted! It may be late but I hope you find it useful anyway! 

Okay, so all us lupies know the deal – on really good days we’re only mildly stiff and achy and on bad days we can’t get out of bed the pain is so bad. Here are some things that have worked well to help with symptoms I experience.

  • Migraines/headaches – Migraines are probably my worst symptom, the pain sometimes is absolutely unbearable. I can’t listen to anything or open my eyes unless it’s dark. For these, my doctor gave me fioricet which works wonders when taken at the start of one. When I don’t have those with me, a can of coke and 2-3 advil (600 mg ibuprofen) work wonders. If I have any other type of headache, 2 advil are usually okay. I also put peppermint oil on my temples and behind my ears, it really helps the pain calm down.
  • Butterfly Rash/Nodules – I get the butterfly rash only rarely but my face does get red an puffy when I’m not feeling well. The Body Shop has this super rich vitamin E face cream that cools my face down a lot. Most of their stuff has worked pretty well so I’d take a peek around. Since that is kinda pricey, I use Oil of Olay for Sensitive Skin everyday. It really good on irritated skin from waking up with the rash or being out in the sun. I also get painful bumps all over my hands, cool water and hydrocortisone help these on milder days.
  • Joint/Muscle Pain – one of the main lupus symptoms. Who wants to feel like an 90 year old person everyday, creaking and cracking up and down the hallway each day? It sucks! At least there are some ways, besides good old advil again, to make it feel better. Hot baths with epsom salts are really good when my ankles are acting up. Also, peppermint pain spray is amazing, it cools your joints and muscles off almost immediately. I have a local brand down here but try looking in your local natural remedies store or a holistic medicine store. You definitely get your moneys worth. Sleeping with a pillow under my knees also helps my knees, hips and back when they’re acting up. If that doesn’t work, using my Back Buddy heating pad does, I suggest investing in a heating pad if you don’t have one already.
  • Restlessness – I don’t know if this is actually a common one to lupus but all those things above usually add up to me being anxious and restless all day. Yoga helps a lot if done in the middle of the day, it also helps in the morning for stiffness. At night, meditation really does the trick. It’s pretty easy to learn how to meditate, all you have to do is Google it :).
On that note, I’m currently wrestling with the overwhelming fatigue that often hits. My only solution for that is to listen to my body and head to bed! Sweet dreams!
Published in: on September 14, 2011 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Count your blessings to find what you look for

I’m back! Whether I’m rested and relaxed, I’m not quite sure. A 4 day 7 hour a day intensive school session right after driving 10.5 hours back from FL is not the most relaxing experience.

Anyway, with everything bad that’s been happening – hurricane, tornadoes, and earthquakes – I started thinking how thankful I was that all my friends and loved ones were safe. It also made me realize just what I am thankful for in my life. Of course when I got to the lupus part my first thought was “Well, it sucks! There’s not really anything good about it.” However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s not exactly true.

Yes it does suck, being in pain every day, watching how much sun you get, not being able to hold a fork or pen all the time, but think about it…what’s changed about you in a good way? I, for one, realized the following about myself:

  • I am much more grateful for the little things in life like getting to read a book outside in the sun for a few minutes. Waking up and being able to walk normally or without a head ache makes me thank God every morning.
  • I appreciate my family even more than I already did. They are the strongest people I know and I can always call them or text them when I need them. If I’m ever really sick, I know they’re only an 8 hour drive away and ready to come help me.
  • I’ve realized who my real friends are and am thankful to have them in my life. They’re always there for me when I need it.
  • I have healthier habits than most people. My diet isn’t nearly as bad as most of my non-lupie friends (no offense to any of you). I just can’t eat salty stuff or high fat stuff because it makes me look and feel sick.
  • I have more motivation to go exercise when I feel good enough too. I used to do 15 hours of workout a week when I was a gymnast. Then I quit and got lazy. Now, when I can get to my zumba class I go! And it makes me feel good!
  • I laugh. A lot. I laugh and smile all the time and people always comment on it. If I constantly dwelled on the bad in my life, I wouldn’t have much of a life. So I find the fun in everything and I laugh and I smile!
  • My goals are set high and I have yet to not meet one. For me, I feel like I’ve dealt with so much up to this point in my life that there is absolutely nothing I can’t do if I work hard enough. I was always determined, now I’m 10 times more determined. I wanted a law degree. Is it hard? Yes! Probably the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life! But I’m in my last year, I did it and I’m proud of myself!
  • Lupies learn to be proud of themselves even for the smaller accomplishments in life. Who else would be proud that they made dinner tonight? That they lived on their own for a month? That they managed to work 10 hours a week?
Think about it. Lupus, any illness or condition, is often seen as a horrible curse. But, many blessings, albeit small blessings come from it. What good has come out of your condition?
Published in: on August 30, 2011 at 10:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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Please excuse my previous rushed post

My last post was very rushed and I feel I should qualify the very simple suggestions I gave. I’m aware that I didn’t really list any new activities however, I have found that people forget how much of a difference these simple activities can make. Being outside for ten minutes makes people feel loads better, the sun makes people happy! Seeing a movie with a friend may seem like nothing new but going with different friends and different amounts of people really is a difference experience each time. We have to remember that it’s the little things in life that make us happy.

I should also add a few activities to that list:

1) Video game parties to that list. It’s so much fun to get a group or even just have a friend over and play video games. We all turn into a bit of a little kid and it ends up having some pretty entertaining results!

2) Needlepoint. This is really difficult when arthritis is acting up in your hands but doing it a little bit everyday, I’ve found, helps them stay loose. Plus, I end up with a pretty wall hanging after a couple of weeks.

3) Learn something new – make a photo collage, create a website, write a book, anything – the world is full of possibilities! 🙂

 

Try something new indoors this week, you’ll be glad you did!

Published in: on August 6, 2011 at 9:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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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