The Art of Thinking Positive 

        I’m sure you’ve heard it before. I know I have many times. Someone asks how you’re holding up and instead of that false “I’m fine”, you decide to open up, only to receive the dreaded response, “well you just have to think positive.” Uggghhhh barf…. puke…. logically, this response is true, maybe even helpful if used in the right set of words. However, most of the time, I hear this rehearsed response and it just goes right over my head and into the trash can of other stupid phrases like “just be happy” and “keep your chin up” and “God always has a plan” and oh that lovely “I’ll keep you in my prayers.” 

        Now I know we all have a share of suffering in this world. I don’t deny you’ve have a rough existence. However, I feel people are so quick to throw out these meaningless phrases to those who are suffering without really seeing them or listening to them. People open up to us and we just hash out these phrases like they are the ultimate answer. Sometimes, there are no answers. Sometimes, there would never be a response to calm someone down or make everything okay again. Sometimes, the best a person can do is listen and receive. Sometimes, the best response (if I really had to think of one), is “I will never claim to know what you’re going through, but I know pain and darkness, and I see you. You are not alone.” 

      So back to thinking positive, instead of telling someone to simply change their thought process, how about responding in a manner that initiates a cycle of positive thinking? You say I should think positive, but how? However, when I go to counseling, my counselor never just tells me to “think positive.” She listens to me. She doesn’t try to match suffering like it’s some huge competition of who suffers most. She just sees me and acknowledges my suffering and makes me think of ways to be present and have gratitude in the midst of sucky situations. After leaving those appointments, something changes, if even for a little while. I start having this feeling of hope. I don’t feel as isolated. I actually smile and it’s not a mask. I find myself laughing at things and just enjoying the present moment. This, right here, creates positive thinking.
        Everyone’s needs are different, but for me, having people who actually empathize with my situation helps much more than someone spitting out a “quick fix” method for depression/anxiety/chronic pain/child abuse/etc etc etc. So if you’re in a shitty situation, I just want you to know that, while physically, you may indeed be alone, you are not. You have my support and encouragement. If you ever need someone to talk to or vent to, I’m always open. I do not have all of the answers unfortunately, but I do have a heart for people who hurt. 

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Life in Pain

       Cheers to another day of pain. Pain in my leg. Pain in my back. I often question if this will ever end, but week by week and month by month, my hope for healing slowly declines. Monday will make four months of leg pain, of doctors brushing me aside and giving me the run around, of fighting for my health, physically and mentally, of being told, “You’re young. You have youth on your side and you’ll heal.” Meanwhile, NO ONE can give me an answer. It’s so incredibly invalidating and isolating to constantly be told this will just go away with time and just “keep your chin up.” It’s so frustrating to hear that from people who aren’t trudging through a shit show everyday of physical and emotional suffering.
        By now you probably think, “Oh lord. Look at her begging for pity.” Well maybe? Or maybe I just want people to know I’m not perfect. You look at me smiling and think my life is great. I’m in school. I have a great fiancé. I have a promising future. 

      However, you don’t see my daily struggle to force myself out of bed. How I slowly walk around to losen the tight pressure I feel in my leg (that same pressure that results in stabbing taser pain) after simple movements to increase strength. You don’t see how I wobble to my couch for another day of TV because it’s the only thing that takes my mind off of my worries. You don’t see how much I fear about not being physically capable of going back to school for a year and countless hours of standing, walking, and lifting people in hospitals when I can hardly stand myself for minutes at a time. You don’t see how much of a failure I feel like for not living up to everyone’s expectations of me to be successful. You don’t see the physical pain. You just see my scrunched up face to hide tears. You just see my tears when my emotions finally take over and I can’t take the pain anymore. You just see how my foot turns a cool shade of purple when simply resting on the floor. You just see someone with a blank face who worries so much, just to completely feel empty and emotionless a few minutes later. 

      I am doing the best that I can. I’m reaching out for support. I am fighting so hard for my health and my life even though I feel like I’ve given up. I got myself into counseling and art therapy. I go to all of my DR appts and now PT. I do everything asked of me, yet I’m in so much suffering that the good in life gets completely splattered with black and darkness. Hopefully this back pain will ease up in a few days. Hopefully, I can get a treatment plan for my leg that’ll actually help me. 

     I don’t feel like I ask for much in my life. I just want to finish school and give back to society as a nurse. I want to have a lasting marriage to my fiancé. I want to travel and explore this beautiful planet. I just want to do it without constant pain. 

       Before I end this sad posting, I’d like to end with some positives to put things into perspective for me. I have a cat that likes to cuddle. Furry friends always make things better. I have a roof over my head and a car to use if I need it. I have food to eat. I have a partner that is so supportive of me. Who loves me in the midst of my suffering. Who accepts me completely and I’m so so thankful for him. I have a family who is trying to reach out and support me as well even though they have their own struggles in life. I’m usually able to fall asleep easily and stay asleep the whole night. I have a few friends that’ll reach out occasionally to check up on me. I’m thankful for y’all. I’m just so tired. 😴 (PS sorry for the grammar and punctuation errors)

How did I get here? 

So how did I end up on my couch in severe acute back pain, prolonged chronic leg pain, and in an endless cycle of anxiety and depression?

    Well I guess I’ll start with when I made the decision to change my life. In January on 2016, I weighed in around 215 pounds, size 16. It was the heaviest I had weighed. I spent my days eating… eating junk, binging, and sitting on my couch. I was so depressed, lonely, and worried about my future and getting accepted into nursing school. I hated how I looked and I didn’t recognize myself when I looked in the mirror. This self hatred lead me to making a change.

    I wanted to love the woman I saw and I wanted to FEEL better. I started moving my body almost everyday with YouTube beginner fitness videos. It sucked. I was so weak and huffing and puffing, but I kept trying. I changed my eating habits. I incorporated more fruits and vegetables and worked on portion control. I cut out gatorades and sugary juices for good ol water. Little changes made big changes and I slowly got stronger, more energized, and more self confident. By the end of the year, I was down 60 pounds to a size 8 and I was so excited to start my next adventure. RUNNING 😪

    Technically, I took up running at the end of September. I hated it at first, but I am one determined individual and I refused to fail. I ran multiple times a week and quickly fell in love. It became my coping mechanism for all of the stress and anxiety in my daily life and nursing school. 

     In 2017, I began training for the gate river run 15k. This is where things got excessive. I wasn’t eating enough to nourish this “fit” body. I was running….. A LOT. I also strength trained and did HITT workouts on top of that! Did I mention I had a Fitbit that I was absolutely obsessed with? I almost never took that thing off and always felt obligated to hit steps and stairs. I was so consumed in the fitness lifestyle. I followed dozens of running accounts on Instagram of people running 7 minute miles and doing marathons. I had it in my head that I would be that person. That person was happy. That person was successful. That person was HEALTHY. So I continued this excessive obsessive lifestyle until I embarked on my longest run. 

     March 5, 2017. That was my last run. I ran 8 miles over a bridge and back with minimal discomfort and around an 11 minute mile average. However, I had been getting this tiniest sting in my leg before hand randomly. Big mistake by going on that run. That run completely altered the next few months. I was in class the next day and developed extreme shocking shooting stabbing pain in my lower left leg. I surely thought I had a stress fracture of some sort. I completely stopped physical activity and did RICE method to no relief. Everyday and every night, my leg would wake me up with this feeling of a taser zapping me over and over. It was excruciating. 

       Struggling with access to reasonable healthcare made the situation even more stressful and mentally, I was having a breakdown because my coping mechanism was taken from me. I was being told by friends and doctors that it was probably just shin splints that “pissed off” a nerve. Throughout the months, I had been able to modify my life to have less of the shocking pain. However, my leg turned red/purple when resting on the floor. I will still get shocked if the leg is used too much. I get cold splash feelings and muscle spasms throughout the day. I get pressure feelings in my leg. One student doctor mentioned CRPS maybe being a factor, but my physician hasn’t diagnosed it as that…. yet. 

    So why am I currently on my couch almost 4 months later in severe pain? The past two weeks, I was physically doing well. I had hope of healing. I was walking my neighborhood. I had put myself in counseling and art therapy, which was helping the mental side of things.  Well yesterday, I was able to see a physical therapist after waiting for almost 2 hours. He gave me some simple movements to try that would strengthen this poor leg. That day, I thought it would be a good idea to take laundry down the stairs, vacuum, sweep, and steam my floors. Apparently, that was enough for my back to spasm and be strained. Today, I have woken up to the same strained back and a sore leg that has stabbed me a few times already. A stab I haven’t felt in a few weeks. So here I am, laying on my couch, hardly able to move, popping flexiril, Advil, and becoming best friends with my ice pack. I feel like I’ve taken 10 steps back in this “healing process” and mentally, I’m so so so done. But I guess I’m here to say, you are not alone. ❤️

Emily- Not so Perfect

Hello world and readers! My name is Emily and I’m a 21 year old nursing student. While laying on my couch in severe pain, I figured I would find a way to channel my energy into something creative or positive (or maybe just a way to vent). Lately on my social media, I’ve seen tons of users post blogs and such, so I figured that I would take my stab at it. With that being said, this blog will be about my day to day issues struggling with anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Life has really felt like a tornado lately leaving me spinning somewhere down the street confused about how I even got to this specific moment in time. I hope you all will find my blog as helpful or maybe to know you are NOT alone in your struggles! I’m always here! ❤️