Anxiety: Getting to Happy, Thanks, and Giving

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Wednesday I was certain I wasn’t going to Thanksgiving Dinner. I just did not want to be bothered with all of the noise and hoopla. I’d experienced a really bad night of anxiety and insomnia Tuesday night. Worst in a long time, maybe of all times. Later on Wednesday evening I began to feel better, but not enough to change my mind.

When I woke up Thursday, I felt okay. I forced myself to have breakfast with a friend. I got dressed and made it to my family’s house with a plan in mind. If it gets to be too much, I can escape to my parents room or I can leave. To my surprise, my mother was much calmer than usual. She usually is high strung. I was grateful because I don’t operate well in panic and hype mode. I gave by putting ice in the cups, rolls in the oven, arranging the food. It was hectic getting food in a small space with almost 20 plus people. So, I went outside and sat until the line died down. Cool fall air and peace. I was happy as my nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, eyes lit up when they saw me and they ran to give me hugs. I was happy to see my latest 6 month old great nephew for the first time.

I gave thanks for good food as I escaped to my parents room to eat in peace as I watched HGTV and Unsung. Only to be interrupted by by wobbly walking one year old great nephew as he looked in on me and came to my plate for anything I would give. He’s not hard to please and out the door he went.

I made it. I made it back to my house with my sanity in tack and a to go box for breakfast this morning. I am thankful I did not experience the agitation of anxiety.

~Nikki

Fashion Confetti: RA and Unbreakable Fashion

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2015. This was Janet’s last stop on her tour (Memphis) if I am not mistaken before she discovered she was pregnant! It was a great show I will never forget

I’ve wanted to do a blog piece on fashion and RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis and also other illnesses such as Fibromyalgia (which alters what you can and cannot wear at times). I thought this would be the perfect example. In this photo I was forced to compromise a fresh pair of sneakers for my heels because I had surgery late August last year on my right foot due to Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was still healing which took about 7 months and I am still pushing my limits. There are some heels I will never see again and there are some I am still holding out hope for.

I can understand many women who willing gave up heels, but being who I am and my love for all things fashion I wasn’t willing. To each her own! So I did the physical therapy and I took it a step further by doing foot exercises by ballerinas, athletes recovering from foot surgery, and whatever I could YouTube lol!!! Yes, please admire my dedication to heels. (laughing hysterically). However, my gait has changed and I cannot where certain heels (yet? ever? who knows) and also my balance has been off due to damage of RA and Osteoarthritis. But like a captain who goes down with his or her ship is how I plan to go down with my heels! Yet, I have found many fashionable ways to rock my sneakers as I love shoes period!

~Nikki

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Photo is property of Nicole Jackson and not to be reproduced, copied, or shared without written consent

P.S. When I arrived at the show Janet did her entire performance in sneakers! I was like see, great minds think alike!

Before You Get to the Edge. RA BLOG

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What do you need to do as a person with a chronic illness or dis-ease before you get to the the edge? The breaking point? The split second before bad attitudes, mean words, a frown forms across your brow, and just plain funk kicks in making your home or work atmosphere an unpleasant place. Before you have to “back track” and make apologies, amendments, and atonements, here are two question that may help you. But first, let me explain how this came to me this morning.

After my second night of restless sleep, I laid there pushing myself to get up or my daughter would be late for school. I slept with the breathing machine on (CPAP machine) and it was annoying all night. Tossing and turning with the “so and so” cord tangling around my arm and head. The wisp mask, even with the soft, light rubber around it, was hurting my face because fibromyalgia was awake, too. When I finally snatched it off this morning, I was tired before I got up.

When we have restless or painful nights it can make us feel defeated before we even roll out of bed. Defeated, before we get our day started. It can make us pessimistic, angry, moody, and we can began to bark out in frustrations to family, friends, significant others, children, and coworkers. I sat up on the side of the bed and thought to myself “I feel horrible. I wish I could get more sleep. Oh well.” To the bathroom, get dressed and I sat on the side of the bed putting my shoes on and I realized I was frowning. I felt heavy as I moved around. And then I asked myself a question that I already knew the answer to:

WHAT’S WRONG? WHY ARE YOU IN A BAD MOOD ALREADY? (your answer may vary but give yourself the full blown answer. Not the short answer)

Answer: I did not sleep well. I am upset that I cannot go back to sleep. I do not feel like being upbeat and chipper. But, I have to send my daughter off to school in the best mood possible.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TODAY? WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE DAY AND IMPROVE YOUR MOOD? (Your answer may vary drastically depending on the situation and day. You could be working, a full time at home parent, work for yourself, etc)

I need sleep! But I can’t go back so I need peace and quiet. I need the least amount of conflict and chaos. I can limit phone calls to and from people that are prone to give me bad news or talk too long, news and social media. I can eat a good breakfast. I can sit outside this morning for 30 minutes. Sunshine improves my mood. I can tell my daughter the truth.

Yes. Tell the people in your life the truth.

Me to my daughter: “Morning. Not to chipper or talkative this morning. Sorry. Rough night.”

Her: “Oh. It’s okay Mom.”

So before you get to the edge…

WHAT’S WRONG? – TELL YOURSELF THE FULL VERSION

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO FOR MYSELF TODAY THAT WILL MAKE THIS BETTER//GET THROUGH THE DAY?- NAME IT. LIST IT. DO IT.

AND BONUS: TELL PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE THE TRUTH ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL WHEN IT’S REALLY BAD OR IF YOU’RE  JUST NOT UP TO PAR THAT DAY. I know we are always feeling bad most of the time and we don’t have to let people know that. However, when it’s one of those days when you wake up and can feel the ANGST check it (address it) before you walk out the door of your room.

~Nikki

 

 

 

If You Must. RA Blog

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The last two years for me have been very difficult times. I have been fighting for disability. I have not worked because I cannot hold down a fulltime job and all savings have been depleted. I had a new diagnosis in 2015 of osteoarthritis in my right toe (I had surgery for halludux rigidus) and this year I saw a report from one of my doctor which stated osteoarthritis in both knees (and decrepitus). Every time I go to the doctor or have tests I have anxiety attacks. I was tested so much this year for breathing problems ffinallyit was diagnosed as sleep apnea and dyspnea. I went to the doctor last week and I was told I need medication for diabetes. Also, a few months ago, after being tested numerous times, I now have peripheral neuropathy in my lower limbs and carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands and upper limbs. Bouts of depression are often.

I have had plenty of reason to look back woefully, angrily, and puzzled. Recently, in gathering medical records, my pediatric doctor office was able to find my diagnosis of Juvenile Rheumatoid   Arthritis. I thought I had it since I was 12, but the symptoms began at 8 and diagnosis was at 9. I read the letters and I noticed how kind, compassionate, and thorough the specialist who informed  my doctor of the findings as they communicated back and forth. In reading those forms I cried because I began to remember vividly those painful and uncertain days. It also gave me a clue as to my left eye having blurring problems I had forgotten it started when I was a child. It is so intermittent and this year an ophthalmologist saw the problem. The one sentence the pediatric rheumatologist stated was for girls, at such a young age, rheumatoid arthritis has a “smoldering effect.” Yes. How right he was.

How can I look back, if I must, forgivingly? I’m not sure exactly what top forgive. In looking back then and now, longing for when I was okay. The window where I felt no pain. The time when I knew exactly where I wanted to go and all I wanted to do. The place where I was so optimistic About going in my life and that “here,” whereII am now, is a place I never saw because I never envisioned it. And I am not talking just for the diagnosis of RA and the other laundry list, but life overall. As my therapist said last week, break it down, piece by piece, to not get overwhelmed. I guess I forgive it piece by piece and understanding I had no control at that young age over a disease and I don’t have much control over it now. I do have control over how  deal with it and which direction to go forward. Looking forward prayerfully…no problem. I have no choice as far as I am concerned to constantly pray about my future. I try my best to be in the NOW and remain grateful. Though it is very, very hard at times.

~Nikki

REBLOG:RA – Rheumatoid Arthritis-The Lost Understanding-Why We Truly Deserve — RA AND THE FAMILY FIT

Complicated though it may be, there is no reason known why Rheumatoid Arthritis shouldn’t be UNDERSTOOD. Will people ever understand what it really is. Will they ever truly get that it is simply not the arthritis they have come to believe that it is. Though arthritis is a word in our diagnosis, it is far […]

via RA – Rheumatoid Arthritis-The Lost Understanding-Why We Truly Deserve — RA AND THE FAMILY FIT

RA, Friendships, and Relationships

When I first developed Rheumatoid Arthritis one of the main things I was worried about was relationships with the opposite sex. I was worried about everything! During a counseling session, the counselor said, “If he doesn’t like you for who you are, if he can’t love you for you, he is simply not the one, end of discussion. You are probably more worried about being seen as weak or needy given you have a superwoman complex.” In my head response:”Well! I never!!!!”

So as I cleared my throat, and swallowed that chunk of truth, I responded with “Superwoman complex? Do tell…”

Anyway, as life has gone on, it’s been easier to say “Hey, dude, I have RA and blah blah blah.” Most guys are like “Oh, okay. No problem. What do you need? Do you need anything? How are you feeling today? What movie do you want to see? What’s for dinner? Etc etc….” They don’t care much. You get an occasional jerk, but I figure he was born that way.

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To my surprise, relationships and family have not been the hardest thing for me. The hardest thing for me has been developing and on going friendships. First of all, I don’t take the word friend lightly. It’s in a category with love. I do use it when shared energy is among myself and another person. I hope you can understand that.

Friendships and associations were and are difficult for me. I was use to being everywhere at one time. On the go. Move move move. Let’s do this. And somewhere as a person with RA or Fibromyalgia you began to lose a connection with some people because:

1. They don’t get why you hurt so much and why you can’t do the simplest things. They don’t understand how you can be so tired. They don’t understand how you were just fine two minutes ago and now you are not. They do not understand why peace, quiet, and no drama is important to your health.

2. You want to go but, you just don’t feel like being around certain people. People can work your last nerve. Especially, when the positively negative crew is on deck. I thought this was a party not Wrestle-mania . YOU LIED TO ME!!!! (dramatic scene)

3. They don’t believe you are ill. They will never tell you that outright (cowards!) but oh do they consistently imply. You know you don’t look sick.

4. I don’t feel comfortable. Sometimes, having all of these things interfere with your life on a daily basis gets to me. I long for myself and I have no idea who this “new” person is after 5 years going on 6 with RA and I am just not use to her. I am still trying to figure it out.

5. New people also think you are flaky. She said she was coming, she said maybe…she always says maybe. Hey look, give me a minute.

6. Patience. If we are going to deal with each other we need patience. Patience is something missing in most of us. I struggle with having patience with myself tremendously. I guess that is why I don’t bother when others don’t.

So, I navigate the waters of friendships and associations with a long rowing paddle. Plus, I am a Pisces who doesn’t let everyone in my castle. Sure we can play on the front lawn and the palace porch, but come in? I don’t know about that. Meet me in the courtyards. I have to trust you. I have to trust you won’t see me as I sometimes see myself. Weak and vulnerable to RA but, never weak and vulnerable. Yeah…double talk.

~Nikki

 

Biologics: Feeling Some Type of Way

How perfect is this prompt of Biologics and how I feel about them since I started my first injection this Monday? When I read about biologics and TNF I was like whoa! Much like the gif you see above!

I was on methotrexate and when I got a new Rheumatologist, he immediately took me off of methotrexate and the daily dose of Naproxen. He said I’d been on it way too long! I wasn’t getting any benefit from it but, I thought heck, I “guess” it’s working in comparison when I first was diagnosed. So we moved on to Arava. It worked very well. I didn’t have morning stiffness but, it still took me forever to get it together in the mornings and in my Prince voice, rest his soul, “Forever is a mighty long time.”-Go Crazy.

This year, I began to have numbness and tingling in my hands, arms, legs so severe it would wake me up in pain. After, many tests, I have a bad case of carpel tunnel and I have some nerve damage in my legs. My RA doc took me off Arava saying it might be the cause. The Neurologists bumped up my Gabbapentin. The RA doc said we have tried everything let’s move to an injection. My heart dropped.

I don’t want to stick myself was my first thought. Secondly, I don’t know about fake things hooking up with my real things in my body. I understand that the pills I swallow are man made, but eh…biologics is an even greater gamble of infections and I am already at risk for infections. There is no proof it works any better but, I have seen raving reviews of Embrel and I have seen blank stares as if, it didn’t do much.

I gave myself my first injection Monday. I haven’t had any immediate side effects. I have not had any immediate relief as I am in a flare of two days now. So, I don’t know how I feel about Biologics. Sometimes, with RA and Fibro…I just get tired of feeling, thinking, and worrying so much.

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~Nikki

Sunday Morning Coffee Musing:God & Anxiety

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I didn’t see in the Bible where worry, anxiety, having cares is listed as a sin. I don’t know if in your religion, if it differs from mines, if it is listed as a sin or not. I do know in most Christian cultures, or so I have heard it preached it is a sin to worry. You know “You are doubting God if you worry because you don’t believe he can do xyz or you don’t trust god enough this is why it’s a sin to worry.” So on top of your worry/anxiety/depression you are now doubting God and you have trust issues. Great. That helps. However, I don’t see it or it doesn’t read to me as a sin but, it does register to me as not a good thing.

This morning I didn’t go to church as last night I began to feel anxious about going to church. I have not quite figured out where the root of those thoughts or even began to process those thoughts. This morning I simply asked God a loaded question/statement, an offering of thoughts so to speak: “Is being anxious a sin? If so, I certainly don’t see scripture list it as a sin and what about those who suffer from anxiety? I do see plenty of scripture on how to deal with anxiety. I see some don’t worry and don’t be anxious is that a command or is that comfort? Even when I see “be anxious for nothing” or “do not worry” it still doesn’t say it’s a sin. Because in the mind of an anxious person they have to feel more guilt about now sinning. Has the church ever thought about that? I guess not because many don’t acknowledge anxiety or depression as a real illness. Everything not understood or involving science can possibly be evil.” Whew.

Did I get an answer? Yes. It is not a sin to worry. It is not a sin to be anxious. It is not a sin to be depressed. BUT, it is not good because it can lead to what one may call sin but not only that, it can lead to bigger issues: mentally, emotionally, physically, even death i.e heart attacks and strokes, cancers and illnesses/dis-eases.  It can affect friendships and relationships. It can affect your job and hinder your progress. Impede your destiny. Even parenting! Etc. (yes, I believe the mind is connected to emotions, connected to the body).

Gee whiz God! I am just glad it’s not a sin so I don’t have to feel guilty. That is enough right there to set some free and allow them to get help. I was recently told by my doctor it seems as if I am experiencing some anxiety, possibly anxiety and panic attacks. I had no idea what was going on. So I am new to it all and as always I am a seeker of knowledge to gain an understanding.

There wouldn’t be so many scriptures combating worry/anxiety or depression if God didn’t know we were all different and some of us would experience these things in life. I also said to God this morning “How can I cast my cares if I don’t know what my cares are?” You see, anxiety or depression may not always have a source at the moment. It may not always have a reason you can put your finger on right away. God’s answer to me was “You don’t need to know because I already know.” And that, eased my mind.

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This is my blog. These are my thoughts. You have a blog. You express your thoughts. Thank You. Love you.

~Nikki

 

Sunday Morning Coffee Musing: Don’t Crowd Fund Your Self Esteem

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Cup of coffee and clementines. Photo by Natalia van Doninck on Getty Images

It’s not possible you would know everyone who walks along a crowded street or those standing with you at a concert.Crowd funding consists of strangers and a few people you know contributing to your cause or project. It’s not likely those people know you from the eyes of a good friend or the perspective of a wonderful family member. So, in this life why do we seem to crowd fund our self esteem? I know I am guilty of this from time to time but, oh I remember the days where I relied heavily on the opinions of others and even sought after validation. Thank God! Thank God because I did the hard work and made it through the mistakes to get to this point to talk to you, unashamed, about crowd funding your self esteem.

What people don’t understand about those who struggle with self esteem issues is it didn’t start yesterday. They also don’t understand the complex journey it takes to go back in your life and discover where the seeds were planted and the hard work it takes to cut the roots of low self esteem. Crowd funding your self esteem is when you rely on the contributions of others opinions to fund how you feel about yourself. You should cancel this fund raiser (thought) each time it pops in your mind. I could go through a bunch of steps on how to do this but there is this one saying that sums it up and you could tape it to your forehead or mirror. Which ever is more fashionable for you!

The quote is: Comparison is the thief of joy-Theodore Roosevelt

Why are you sad now? Why are you feeling defeated now? Why are you feeling bad about yourself now? You just compared your progress, success, where you are, to someone else’s progress, success, how farther they are in life than you are and now your joy has been stolen by comparison. Stop that. Learn to admire others and set your OWN goals. If June buys a million dollar home don’t try to buy a million dollar home simply to measure your success by June’s. Look at your bank account, do the math, and buy what you can afford. If Courtney just ran her first marathon and you just made it running a mile, how UNFAIR is that to compare yourself? Your diligence and her diligence is simply diligence. I tell you “a truth” as Jesus said in the Bible when he was about to introduce a new concept: If you learn to CELEBRATE YOUR VICTORIES AS WELL AS OTHERS you wouldn’t need to crowd fund your self esteem.

Don’t compare yourself with others. Instead, celebrate yourself and others.

~Nikki

Pain and Potato Chips

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If you suffer from chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or any of the likes you know what it’s like to be in some sort of constant discomfort whether it’s on a scale of 10 during flares or that annoying low grade pain that eventually wears you down. Many of us have weight issues before we ever have the diagnosis or you gain as soon as you are put on the medication. It makes losing weight a challenge to say the least and then to add insult to injury the connection between pain and eating.

I understand emotional eating but, tack on a physical pain and you are certain to go off the radar into the black hole of weight gain. I find myself mindlessly snacking or over indulging during low to mid grade pain that is working my nerves literally and figurative. The stabbing pain of fibromyalgia and the joint pain of rheumatoid is taken down a notch by medication or pain meds but, many times it doesn’t go away. I rarely mindlessly snack or overindulge during big flares. I can’t. But maybe some of you do.

I have decided to make sure I prepare by purchasing some healthy snack alternatives to have on hand so I can get some nutritional value during those times. I also will try to turn my attention to something other than the TV because that can lead to more snacking. Share your tips and ideas if you don’t mind or maybe some of your favorite healthy but tasty snacks or some of your hobbies to get your mind off your pain and food. Perhaps we can help each other out. Many times when you have pain you don’t want to do anything too strenuous but snacking all day and overindulging is not helping us at all.

~Nikki