Chronic Parenting

NaNoWriMo!

By November 9, 2017 Coping, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Guilt, Mental Health

I am currently in a frenzy as I am participating in National Novel Writing Month. I am putting together a book on Fibromyalgia and chronic pain and am in dire need of your voice.

I am asking for anyone who lives with chronic pain to e-mail me th

eir stories. I will provide a list of my burning questions, but feel free to talk about anything as much or as little as you want. This is your story, your voice, your way. Please let me know if you wish to remain anonymous as well. I cannot guarantee I will use all or any of your submission, but my goal is to include a little bit of everyone in it.

Main Prompts:

Did you suffer any emotional trauma or abuse as a child? Did you deal with narcissism, alcoholism, addiction or anything similar as a kid? Do you think your emotional pain has anything to do with your physica

l pain as an adult?

Do you hide your disease? How? Tell me about a “coming out” story or why you choose to keep it hidden. Is your disease invisible?

Do you deal with guilt, depression or anxiety?

What are your experienced with doctors like? Have you ever been belittled, humiliated or dismissed by a doctor? How many doctors have you seen? How were you diagnosed and when?

Have you ever been denied meds or had them taken away from you?

Have you tried to get disability? What’s that like?

Have you ever felt silenced, shamed or like your pain is irrelevant or false?

If you have any other thoughts, ideas or insight, please feel free to add it. You can give me one sentence or an essay; bullet points or just words. I appreciate your time and effort.

Please e-mail me: joannawritesstuff@gmail.com and put “NaNo” as the subject line.

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I’m The “Messy Mom”

By May 26, 2017 Fibromyalgia, Guilt, Motherhood

Recently in one of my fibro support groups, someone was telling how their relative had been berating them for having a messy house. This person has fibromyalgia along with other chronic illnesses and four children. This person felt humiliated, hurt and alone. The critical relative has no children and no chronic anything. The rage I felt inside for this person came exploding out into the comment section. I think all parents have been victims of this shaming at one point or another, and I know all fibromyalgia and other chronic pain sufferers have been accused of laziness, disorganization, self-pity, etc. As if the guilt we already feel isn’t enough, someone has to add to it with their superior expectations. So let’s just get real here.

I am messy. I am disorganized. I guarantee that there will be a sink full of dishes any time you pop by my house. I promise there will be a load of laundry, clean or dirty, sitting in a basket at the bottom of the stairs. I depend on my trusty Roomba to handle the carpet and my husband to keep the house together. Yes, I am the messy mom.

Whenever I walk into a home with kids that is immaculate, my first thought is: “Wow. How much time and energy does this parent invest in cleaning instead of playing and engaging with their kids or practicing self-care?”

Yes, I judge, too. We all do. It’s only natural. However, I have no right to blurt these judgements out, especially since I am not that parent.

See, I have a very limited amount of energy and it takes a lot to get my pain under control enough to partake in everyday life. Between work, kids, cooking, writing, playing, binging on Netflix, etc. sometimes I have to pick and choose which actions to take and which to put aside for another time. And you know what goes to the bottom of the list? Cleaning.

Now I’m not saying I live in a sty, but when it comes down to an art project with my kids or doing the dishes (again), I’m going to put my kids first. Because when my kids are grown up, they’re not going to say; “We always had dirty dishes in the sink,” they’re going to say; “My mom always spent a lot of time with us.” And you know what? That is all the justification I need to be at peace with my messy house.

I told the friend in my support group the exact same thing. We could just give in to the pain, the fatigue, the depression and remain bedridden but we don’t. We do as much as we can, pushing through the symptoms just to have some semblance of a normal life. So if someone wants to judge me for being the messy mom, you know what? I don’t care. A messy house is a sign of life.

I no longer have the time nor the energy to worry about things like that. It’s interesting how these critics rarely have kids and/or a chronic illness and I have yet to be hear anything but compassion and understanding by another mother of two with fibromyalgia.

So, messy moms of the world, carry on!

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Growing Pains or Fibromyalgia?

By February 21, 2017 Fibromyalgia, Guilt, Motherhood

My 7 year old has been complaining about pain in her left Achilles tendon. After x-rays showed no issue, doc advised us to ice it and rest. It seemed to be fine until she started gymnastics. Now the pain has gone from her tendon to her feet, ankles and now up her shins and calves. Her legs/feet often fall numb as well.

While any other parent might think growing pains, as a mama with Fibromyalgia I immediately think the worst. In a panic, I checked her entire body for trigger points. The only spots she said hurt were near her hips. My friend looked at me like an insane person as I pushed and poked all the spots on my daughter’s body that I know are painful for me.

As parents, our greatest fear is something bad happening to our children. And while Fibromyalgia isn’t the worst that could happen, I would never want my child to experience it, especially from such a young age. And it does happen that young. And there would be nothing I could do to stop it. I feel so helpless as I wrap my daughter’s legs in my heating pad and try to ease her pain.

In my head, I envision her having to quit gymnastics and running. I see doctors pushing dangerous medications onto her. I see her losing friends and missing out because she’s in too much pain or she’s too fatigued or she is too depressed. I already feel guilty for passing my anxiety on to her. Now I’ve passed on this life-sucking disease?

So now I am taking a deep breath and looking for the perfect pediatrician knowing damn well how doctors feel about Fibromyalgia. I am risking being laughed at, being seen as crazy for believing this “made-up” disease has now taken hold of my daughter.

But she is worth the risk. I will trust my intuition until I am proven wrong. And this time I really hope I’m wrong.

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We Are Not Inadequate

By January 21, 2017 Coping, Fibromyalgia, Guilt, Motherhood

On this historical day of the Women’s March, I spent the day watching my daughter do gymnastics. We had never been able to afford to send her, but she was gifted a session for Christmas. I welled with sadness and joy as I watched her determination, her strength. I noticed things about my daughter I never have. The tone in her legs, the way she looks down and exhales with her little mouth in an o-shape, the big grin she displayed as she did a perfect finish pose each and every time, whether she did it right or wrong. I realized that this day is about her. This is for her. She will have to fight twice as hard, work twice as much to achieve self-esteem and respect of others. And today I saw her strength.

I often feel weak, invisible and inadequate. I feel I am not a good enough mother, not a good enough manager, not a good enough woman. My chronic pain magnifies these insecurities as they can often prevent me from doing the things I’m “supposed” to do. I didn’t fold a basket of clean laundry for almost a week. My pain has been heightened this week thanks to stress and anxiety. It has been crippling at times. What kind of mother doesn’t fold her children’s laundry? My husband has been getting the kids up and off to school every morning while I sleep just a little bit longer. I know my body requires it, and I know my family understands it, but what kind of a mother doesn’t get up to take her kids to school? I rely on my husband to remember the majority of my life for me. He has to remember where I put my social security card, where I put my keys, why I walked into the room. What kind of woman depends on her husband for so much? 

But today I know the answers to these questions. A strong, selfless, loving mother, wife and woman does these things. My laundry basket does not define what kind of a mother I am. My chronic pain does not make me a weak woman. My reliance on my husband does not make me a bad feminist. If I feel shame for who I am, what I can’t do, what I need, then I am teaching my daughter to feel shame. If I force my husband to not take care of the household for the sake of breaking down gender roles, I am showing my daughter that a loving, empathetic relationship does not count. If I apologize for my chronic pain, I am teaching my daughter to apologize for her own shortcomings.

So today I stand with women all over the country to say I am enough. I am not inadequate. I am powerful beyond measure. I am a warrior.

“It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”   

  – Marianne Williamson

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The 3 most effective ways for moms to cope during a flare. (That don’t involve yoga!)

By January 8, 2017 Coping, Fibromyalgia, Guilt, Motherhood

To be honest, I think I’ve passed the “flare” phase of fibromyalgia. Meaning, I am in a constant state of steady symptoms whereas so many go through a few days or weeks of intense symptoms which then die down. It’s the same for me every. damn. day. Of course I have worse days than others, especially if I am lacking sleep. I do tend to go through periods of insomnia which completely wrecks me and renders me useless. Add to that two energetic, intense small children and I’m just asking for misery. I have found a few ways to get through these days a bit easier and will share them. I’d love to hear from you – what are your go-to methods to cope during a flare?

  1. Self-care: Seriously. Do it. When it all gets to be too much but I know I can’t actually just drive off and check into a hotel because, you know, kids, I check into my bathroom. I light candles, run a hot bath with loads of epsom salts and lavender, dim the lights and soak. I force myself to ignore the screams and bangs and booms from outside the bathroom, pretending not to see the tiny hands reaching underneath the door seeking my soul, and just soak. I pumice my feet, do my nails, do a hair treatment, face mask, the whole enchilada. When you feel good on the outside, you feel good on the inside.
  2. Indulge: Literally. Eat all the brownies. Read the entire book. Watch the entire season. Sleep 12 hours. Listen to Christmas music in June. Whatever makes you feel good mentally and emotionally is bound to make you feel better physically. The midst of a flair is not the time for limiting the things you enjoy. You need some dopamine and serotonin in your life so make it happen. You earned it.
  3. Be selfish: Just say no. Your kids will survive if you don’t take them to the movie or ice skating or the mall. Your husband can man up and handle them. Ignore the phone calls from your mother. Take a sick day from work. The bottom line is, put yourself first. I know you never do, but if there is ever a time to justify being selfish it is definitely during flare time. Yes, you are superwoman, but you still need a break. Your body is literally begging you so be kind to yourself. Let go of the guilt of saying no, everyone will get over it. You will have plenty of time to take everyone guilt-shopping when you’re feeling better.

That’s it! Screw yoga. Forget walking. The point is, a flare is your body’s way of putting on the brakes. You’re doing too much for everyone else and not nearly enough for yourself. 

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Writing As Self Care – Guest Post

By January 5, 2017 Coping, Fibromyalgia, Motherhood

The following is an incredible guest post by a fellow mama with chronic pain. This is the must-read post to get you thinking about your own self-care, especially if you are a writer. I often neglected my writing until recently when I, too, realized that for me, writing is self-care. I require it on many levels. Creativity allows those of us who suffer in silence to express ourselves. It gives us purpose. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! You can check out more of Kat’s words over at her blog! Thank you for sharing this, Kat!

#MyMightyMonth

Writing as Self-Care

Self-care. It’s a term I had never really heard of until graduate school, and then, suddenly, I was hearing it a lot. You see, I have a Masters in Divinity from a school that trained ministers, counselors, and social justice workers, and it seems that people in all three of those fields are really, really bad at taking care of themselves.

We were often asked what we did to take care of ourselves. For some of us, it was difficult to come up with an answer, while others had long lists of hobbies. I fell somewhere in the middle. While I don’t have a long list of many hobbies, I do have several things that work consistently to provide solid self-care, and one of these is, and has been for many years, writing. Specifically, it has long been fiction writing. Almost as long as I could read, I have disappeared into my own little world to write stories of my own. I wrote my first novel in the second grade, and though I bet it wasn’t any good, I have been a regular CS Lewis (although, admittedly, probably decidedly worse) ever since.

And then, I got sick. Admittedly, I’ve never really been healthy. I don’t think a year went by in any grade of school where I didn’t miss the maximum days of school for illness. But there was never a time I didn’t write. Even at my busiest, I always took time to have a novel brewing on that back-burner. It was always my favorite hobby, and I may not have learned the words “self care” yet, but it was. It was my sustainer. It helped me stay sane, helped keep my anxiety in check. When the real world got stressful, I could retreat into writing a novel.

But then, I was almost done with my master’s degree, and about to be (incorrectly, I would learn later that year) diagnosed with fibromyalgia (a misstep: but an important misstep!, on my long chronic illness journey), I had a two year old daughter, I was working, and I just.didn’t.have.time. to write. And that was a mistake, I would quickly learn. Because writing wasn’t just a hobby. It is how I take care of myself. And if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t best take care of those I love, either.

The Mighty, one of my favorite websites that focuses on facing “disability, disease, and mental illness together,” is aspiring to make 2017 the year of self-care, and they’re doing so by promoting 12 30-day challenges. I thought it was super-fitting that the first was to journal for 30 days, since writing, at least to me, is such a powerful and natural form of self-care.

However, for me, journaling has never really been the kind of writing in which I have best expressed myself, and I think that’s OK. I’ve dabbled in a number of forms of writing—blogs, lists, social media posts, posting in groups, free form scribbling (which is kind of like journaling, I guess…but just feels looser to me!), poetry, and, my favorite, creative writing, which, for me, usually takes the form of extended pieces, like novels, but could be shorter stories too, of course. Writing of any kind is a wonderful tool to express oneself, so find the type that works best for you, and it’s OK to go back and forth between in the meantime.

No matter what kind of writing you do, here are a few of the most elemental ways that I find writing to be an incredible way—one of the best, in my personal opinions—of self-care:

Writing for thankfulness: Writing can be an excellent way to tangibly express one’s thankfulness. Often if I force myself to sit down and write things I am thankful for, I am a lot happier, and able to think of a lot more things, than if I let these thoughts quickly and idly pass me by without taking the time to actually write them. The habit of actually writing them, whether on a piece of paper or typing them onto a phone or computer, is very powerful! I also find expressing my thankfulness to others a surprisingly wonderful way to care for myself. I’ve often experienced this—when we take time to take care of others and express our gratefulness to them, we end up feeling good ourselves. When I take time to pause from obligations, stresses, and “to-dos” and write out a thank you card that I don’t have to write, but simply want to, it’s a wonderful way to not only bring joy to someone else, but to care for my own soul, too.

Writing as a form of escapism: One of the reasons fiction writing is one of my favorite forms of writing is because for a while, I don’t have to be me, in my hurting, sore body, reconciling my chronic pain with having to work and parent and live my life. I can go live in another world, moving around as characters I know as deeply as myself. The feeling people get from diving into books and escaping into another world I get from writing, but since I can keep making it up, the story never has to end. I can keep writing new adventures for my characters. If I want to, I can write side short stories for characters I particularly like that don’t have to be part of my novel, just for fun. They’re my characters and my stories—I can write them however I want. I know my characters deeper than I know myself, and unlike my life and my chronic pain sometimes, my writing is something I have complete and utter control over. It’s such an intensely freeing and powerful feeling!

Writing as a way to find your voice: The flip side to escapism is that writing fiction is also extremely real to me. I have been able to write about issues that I had no idea how to tackle in my life by having my characters go through things before I knew how to process them myself. Having fictional characters deal with things we don’t know how to process in our own lives can be an incredible processing tool and self-help. Can’t make a decision? What would your fictional doppelganger do? How do they deal with a chronic illness, challenge, obstacle, or conflict? Writing other than fiction, of course, is a way to speak out, too. There are so many venues for one’s voice to be heard, especially online. Discovering chronic illness blogs was an incredible way for me to discover that I wasn’t alone and to learn that there were people like me, facing the same hurdles I was with incredible bravery, hope, and perseverance.

Writing to tell your own story: I believe most importantly, the thing that brings all of these elements together is that all forms of writing are ways that big and small we tell bits, pieces, snippets, chapters, of our story. Even fiction writing contains pieces of ourselves. I see my characters as pieces of myself—oftentimes they are based on myself, my friends, things I experience or see in the world, or feelings I have or places I’ve been. One of the greatest things about stories is that when you’re writing your own, you can control how it’s going to end. And if things aren’t going well, you can say: this isn’t the ending to my story. You can say: it’s going to be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end. I’m going to keep fighting. I’m going to reframe this into something positive. Writing your own story gives you power. I find tremendous power in writing, in storytelling of all forms, be it journaling or blogging or fiction or listmaking or thank you cards, and I hope you can find the form of expression through writing that gives you power, too.

No matter who you are, how much pain you feel, or how hard things are, you are important, and you have a story to tell. Find your voice, word by word, page by page.

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Moms > Pain

By January 4, 2017 Coping, Fibromyalgia, Motherhood

So I got to do a fun guest post for a wonderful mommy blogger who also suffers from chronic pain and a rare disease called Marfan Syndrome. I wrote the top 5 reasons moms with chronic pain are the most hardcore (read: badass).

I would love it if you took a peek at it! Just head over to Basket of Lemons to find out why we rock! (As if you don’t know.) Share it with the world so they know how much we do.

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You can add Sjogren’s to the list – seriously?

By January 4, 2017 Coping, Sjogren's Syndrome

As of late, my gums have been inflamed. My tongue feels enlarged and burn. I wake up at night with the most severe dry mouth I have ever imagined – water doesn’t even help. Add to that an unfinished root canal and I headed to the dentist. I assumed they would just need to finish the root canal and send me on my way.

Wrong.

“Have you ever heard of Sjogren’s? One of the Williams sisters has it!” As if a celebrity tennis player’s diagnosis was going to make me feel better about a secondary diagnosis.

I listened to the dentist ask me about my symptoms with tears in my eyes. I nodded as she went down the list: joint pain, fatigue, “dry lady parts”, dry mouth, etc. It all made sense, of course. We connected the dots and she handed me a referral.

But why didn’t this show up in my blood panel this past summer? Why the sudden onset? Is this just what happens? First Fibromyalgia, now a secondary auto-immune syndrome? What’s next? I cried. Not only was my body angry with me for sitting in a dentist chair for an hour, but I was overwhelmed.

Another chronic problem. Another source of pain and problems. Another round of prescriptions I will probably throw out. The side effects usually aren’t worth it.

Of course I hit the google button as soon as I dragged myself back into my husband’s truck. He knew something was wrong as I sat silently, blinking little tears from my eyes. I felt defeated. No, I’m not going to die. I am just going to live the rest of my life feeling like I’m dying. That’s the only way I could explain it to him. It’s hard for me to verbalize what I’m feeling. I suppose this is why I am a writer. But today I did my best to speak up.

“My body hates me. All day, every day. It never stops. I feel wrecked but I have to keep a smile on my face. When I look at the statistics of people who have committed suicide due to chronic pain, I get it. I do. Because it’s not a death sentence but we are given a life sentence to be prisoners in our own bodies. Most days I don’t want to get up. I want to drug myself to sleep and wake up when it doesn’t hurt. But I can’t. I have to get up and go and work and be present for our children. Our children are my lifeline. And I don’t complain or whine but today I am going to. Because it just sucks.”

And now more tests, more meds. But also more understanding. Maybe I will feel better by knowing what’s happening to me and why. Sometimes we have to cling to that little comfort of knowledge so we can treat our bodies with a little less hate every day.

For more information on Sjogren’s Syndrome, please check out Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation.

 

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#IAmKratom

By January 1, 2017 Coping, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Motherhood

Before I discovered Kratom, I was fully dependent on opioid medications. Tylenol 3, Norco, Vicodin, Tramadol, Percocet. All of it. I was constantly sick and felt like garbage, but the meds were the only way I could function as a mom and a dog groomer. As the government began cracking down on opioid perscriptions, I panicked when I realized the day would come when they would take them away from me. Thousands of people are committing suicide as they face life with chronic pain and no help. Yoga and hot baths just don’t cut it when your body is attacking itself 24/7, sorry doctors.

I want to share with you my comment to the DEA as they have waged a war on this harmless, life-saving green coffee plant. If you use Kratom, or know someone who does, or even just want to support an alternative to prescription drugs, please take a moment to sign this petition as Trump is our last chance to save Kratom. His pro-marijuana stance gives us hope.

“Hello, my name is Joanna and I am a 32 year old mother of two. I work full time as a manager of a dog grooming salon. I have been grooming for 13 years. It is an extremely physically demanding job and leaves most groomers with many debilitating chronic problems. I have been suffering from Fibromyalgia, shoulder impingement, rotator cuff tendinitis and carpal tunnel for the past year. I have seen many specialists and tried many treatments. I went through months of intensive physical therapy, cortisone injections, yoga, etc. The pain has only gotten worse. It was to the point that I could not work and taking care of my own two children became almost impossible. I went from an active runner to barely able to walk a few blocks. I had anti-depressants thrown at me despite knowing that I have an adverse and dangerous reaction to them because my doctor didn’t know what else to do. I had almost lost all hope until I discovered Kratom. A woman in one of my fibromyalgia support groups suggested I try it. Doctors have become afraid to prescribe pain medications so I had been left on my own, in pain with no solutions. When I did have pain medications, the side effects were awful. So I went to my local Kratom dispensary and spent a long time talking to the gentleman working there. He listened to my story more intently than my doctors and helped me choose which Kratom would be most beneficial for me. A week later, my husband went back in to personally thank the gentleman for giving him his wife back. I can make it through my grueling work days with almost no pain. I am outside in my garden. I am going on hikes with my children. My depression has been lifted and for the first time in a long time I feel human again. Kratom is not a drug. I don’t feel “high”. I don’t take it and commit crimes or neglect my children or get into car accidents. But scheduling Kratom is effectively saying that it does cause these problems. How can you possibly compare a green coffee plant to heroin? It is completely senseless. If that is the case then I suppose that coffee and tea should be banned as well since they also have mild effects of boosting energy or relaxing the body. Banning this life-saving plant will have effects of disastrous proportions for those of us who depend on it to manage our pain, fatigue, depression and anxiety. Since I began taking Kratom, my depression is gone, my pain is at a minimum, my fatigue is nonexistent and I feel that life is worth living once again. It has saved me as a working person, as a mother, as a wife and as a chronic pain patient. I am off all the addictive, destructive medications I was prescribed. Lyrica, one of the drugs I was prescribed, can cause psychosis and is so addictive that the detoxification process can be life threatening. Same with the anti-depressants being shoved down our throats. Here we have a cure for pain, depression and fatigue that has no negative side effects and you want to classify it along with heroin? It is senseless and careless and completely undoes everything the DEA fights for. Imagine if people have access to this plant and can get off heroin? Can you imagine how many lives will be saved? How many families will be saved from destruction? We can change people from addicts back to mothers, fathers, brothers and friends! Please do not turn your back on us! As a fibromyalgia patient, Kratom has been the most effective and safe treatment I have done. I am begging you, my husband is begging you, my kids are begging you, please do not take this away from us.”

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The Fight For Christmas

By December 28, 2016 Coping, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Mental Health, Motherhood

We made it. Christmas is over. I feel overwhelmingly exhausted and sad but grateful to be on the other side of it. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year. The music and lights trigger such intense memories for me, sometimes so vivid I cry. My family made Christmas a season filled with meals and outings, days downtown Chicago shopping and looking at the lights, going to performances of The Nutcracker and Scrooge, a constant stream of homemade chocolate chip cookies and Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby drifting from the radio.

My family seems to have lost that magic over the years and Christmas has become tragically bittersweet. I refuse to give up and do everything in my power to recreate the same magic for my own children. But between the emotional toll and physical exhaustion, it takes everything out of me. I habitually take the day after Christmas off of work. My coworkers always believe this is pure self-indulgence but if they knew the truth they would probably rather work than go through what I do.

As you know, I am a dog groomer. This is probably the worst possible career for someone with fibromyalgia. The physical toll is brutal. Most groomers have multiple physical disorders after 5-7 years of grooming. Add to it the intense Christmas rush of clients demanding their dog is coiffed for the holiday and my body is completely wrecked. But I suck it up and do it. And after work, I shop, I cook, I bake, I decorate, I shop more, I visit family, and at the end of the night, I sit down with my Christmas music, classics that stir up a storm of emotion and tears that I both adore and loathe.

I reflect on my magical childhood memories and mourn the days long gone, aching for a family that once was. This can be just as grueling for someone with fibromyalgia as the physical rigor. Much of fibromyalgia stems from emotional trauma and stress. The brain sees these as actual physical pain and fires away, sending the body into a full-blown flare of symptoms. Essentially, your brain thinks that a difficult memory is a punch to the gut and responds accordingly.

So, for me, the holiday season is physically debilitating on both fronts. I know a lot of people might give in and lock themselves in bed for the month of December. But I can’t. I refuse to let this disease take my season from me and my children. I fight like hell and grin and bear the pain, the emotional shit storm, and do it all with a smile on my face. I fake it til I make it, surrounding myself with holiday cheer until I’m there.

And it is worth it. I recline onto my heading pad in my cushy section of my big old couch and gaze around my house at the sparkling tree, the pine scented candles, Christmas cards everywhere and Michael Buble singing to me and I smile. I smile inside and out, filled up with pure joy, and for a moment or two I forget the physically debilitating, emotionally draining weeks I have put myself through. The squeals of joy from my kids as we watch the first snow fall, spending hours in the kitchen whipping up little red and green delights, agonizing over which cordless drill will be good enough for my husband. These are the things that make the pain worth it.

I’m sad it’s over. I always get depressed post-Christmas as we stare at the face of bleak January and February so I just extend my Christmas a little longer. I’ll drag my feet mid-January and start taking down Christmas with a lump in my throat. My body will start recovering (if you can call it that) and my emotions will get packed up with the ornaments and Nutcrackers until next year.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa! Happy New Year to you all. I hope you fibro mamas out there made it through and give yourselves time to rest and recover because you did it! You made it through another holiday season and one day your children will be sitting on their own couch gazing at the tree thinking with gratitude about the Christmases their mother gave them through the pain, tears and exhaustion.

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