It’s one of those days…

It’s one of those days that are familiar only to those suffering from autoimmune diseases. Only chronic patients will be able to relate. You know those days when you’re too tired to stand up, talk, or do anything for that matter. When your only desire is to crawl under the rock (a pile of blankets that is) and hide from the world?

Here’s the thing. I recently started working from home. I love it as it’s fulfillment of my lifelong dream, but it requires discipline. I’m just at the beginning of my path still looking for new clients, and have like a million ideas in my head and deadlines to catch up… and then a day like this holds me back.

I fucking hate it. I really do. To make it clear, I do NOT feel sorry for myself nor do I want pity. I will do my job. All of it. I always do. But I find it so hard to accept that I’m not well. I’m unable to relax and give myself a break. So instead of taking a day off and get some rest, I put tons of pressure on myself.

Can’t truly remember when was the last time I took time for myself and just sat on the couch, ate like a little piggie and did nothing. Probably back in elementary school when Fridays over at my best friend were the highlight of the week. We’d have horror movies marathons and ate our weight in sweets.

Or when I had no problem sitting down for hours and hours doing nothing. I was playing Sims like the world’s destiny depended on it. Or I was wasting time watching TV. And I didn’t care at all.

Times have changed drastically. These days I feel bad for not being busy 24/7. It doesn’t matter how tired and exhausted I am. I always push myself to the limit. To make matters more interesting I also started a new therapy not long ago, and like usual I’m experiencing all the side effects.

I think you have to have a special talent for this. I manage to fail at every therapy and piss off my doctors. Oh, the stories I have to tell. Maybe I should start blogging about that? 🙂 What I’m seriously contemplating right now is blogging about how this therapy goes.

But I also need to learn again how to take it easy and how to take a better care of myself. I have to learn how to feel not guilty and take time to recover, rest and relax.

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The fatigue all mighty (and how to fight it!)

Forget pain. Forget stiff joints and headaches. Never mind brain fog, bloated tummy, and blank stares… The worst part of being chronically ill is fatigue. Well, for me at least.

But wait- what is fatigue?

Hmm, the dictionary defines it as a

physical and/or mental exhaustion that can be triggered by stress, medication, overwork, or mental and physical illness or disease. (source)

Personally, I would describe it as a crippling feeling, like paralysis. It’s like my body shuts down, betrays me, and keeps me hostage. Even my mind is tired and sad, my legs feel like they weigh a tone and my eye bags hurt like hell.

It’s draining- both, physically and mentally.

So… isn’t fatigue just a fancy word for being tired then?

No. I believe those two are incomparable. I can take tired any time and deal with it but fatigue gets me. Not only can I barely move and function; there is also this huge mental struggle as no one believes you.

They see you as lazy, sensitive, someone who’s exaggerating and seeking attention. Hell, even you begin to question yourself and start having doubts. Like, could it really all be just in my head?

It took me long, too long to realise that it is not. It’s not just in my head. It’s not my mind making up something and looking for excuses to escape everyday life&errands. I’m not lazy as fuck. I’m fatigued.

It was extremely hard to except that even doing the simplest of daily, basic chores can be such a struggling challenge. I swear, fatigue is the meanest of them all. It’s the most destroying, nerve-racking, and unpleasant feeling ever.

It’s painful, lonely and it can easily turn you into a loner/weirdo. Which is probably why I prefer to spend time alone. There are two good reasons for that. Firstly, there’s no need to explain/apologise myself to anyone. There’s no need to pretend to be all smiley and heroic. Secondly, I have a feeling am an awful friend. I’m far from the trust worthy&reliable partner as I often have to cancel plan in the last minute- simply for being too beat to do anything.

Fatigue sucks you into its vicious whirl and it takes a whole lot of effort to swim out of it. But- it’s possible!

How? 

Like I said, sometimes even the most basic “jobs” seem to be mission impossible. And by basic, I mean getting out of bed and taking a shower.

It’s also tricky. Sometimes you can feel it coming, and sometimes it comes out of nowhere and knocks you down.

This’s why it’s such a mental war- that suspense of never knowing when it’s going to hit- that’s the worse. I can say for myself I’ve been through many battles. Some I lost. Some I won. Some I’m still fighting.

But I don’t believe in giving up, and even less in feeling sorry for myself. So I try my best at all times. It’s not always easy. But that’s life, right?

However, there were times when I truly hated and despised myself. I felt so much anger and frustration, even jealousy. I was jealous of others because they could go out and do stuff, and I couldn’t.

What truly drove me insane was hearing them bitching about the most petty things and constantly complaining over such silly matters as having a bad hair day. You ever had a fatigue day?

Of course, hatred and bitterness are never the answer.

Should I say or should I remain silent?

I was often torn between desire to “let it all out” and explain others how I feel, and lethal fear they would all think I’m a whiner.

When I still experienced prolonged periods of fatigue, I became much of a loner and control freak. So soon, the fatigue itself wasn’t such a big problem anymore. Now the problem was what I was becoming.

This was the turning point- the point where I knew I needed to do something. I needed to learn to relax and let it go. Let it all go and accept that fatigue is a part of my life now and that I don’t have to feel ashamed and guilty about it.

Accept it

Like I mentioned in one of the previous blogs, accepting the disease doesn’t mean giving up. It just means you “welcome” the disease and take it as a part of your life- because well, it is. I can’t give any proper advice on how to accept it, because there’s no universal recipe. In fact, it’s a long and often painful process. Maybe I could best describe it as learning to love yourself all over again. Getting to know yourself again. Forgiving  yourself.

Talk it

No, I don’t mean whining and complaining. Talk to yourself and be honest. Admit yourself you’re tired and recognise that you just can’t do certain things. This is when the part of forgiving yourself begins.

Also telling others, those who you trust, won’t hurt. Let them know you’re not feeling all that well and that you might be a bit slow that day.

Just remember two things you should NEVER do: feeling sorry for yourself and letting others patronise you!

Work it 

Finding your inner peace is hugely popular these days. We should all be enlightened, happy, smiley, spiritual, and BFF with the universe. Yeah. I’m not buying this. While I’m all for being and feeling confident and content, I also believe happiness is relative. Besides, how could we ever truly appreciate all the good things without a little pain and suffering, right? 😛

The minute you realise that, kick back, relax, and start trusting yourself (again) things change and improve.

Walk it

Another thing I noticed is that moderate exercise definitely helps. I could go all big and claim that yoga is the best- but that was me last year. This year I’m more into walking. What can I say…I’m a bit fickle, ha-ha.

My yoga’s always been extremely basic, more like a bit clumsy stretching. This year it’s the long walks. Whatever floats your boat, just make sure you move your body. Yes, I know it’s sounds bizarre coming from the mouth of someone who knows how fatigue feels like, but moderate, easy and gentle moving helps. Maybe it doesn’t take the pain away but it clears your mind. And this brings me back to the importance of having your shit together.

Bottom line: fatigue is not in your head. It’s real. But overcoming it often starts and ends in our heads. When it hits, take time to rest and recover. When it goes away, enjoy every minute of life. ❤

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When was the last time you checked your neck?

January is thyroid awareness month. You know, thyroid, that little gland located somewhere in the middle of our necks that loves to cause troubles? Yup, that’s the one.

Before being diagnosed myself I hardly knew of its existence. No wonder I sometimes joke and say that I can divide my life into two eras: before and after thyroid. Before was easy. After- not so much. It’s scary to think that almost every other person I meet, is or knows someone who is affected by it.

Still, no one seems to take it seriously. It’s like a joke. Because, what could something so small and shaped like a freaking butterfly, really do? Well, where do you want me to begin?

Do you often feel exhausted? So tired you can barely walk and move?
Do you perhaps feel moody, sad, depressed?
Do you ever feel nervous for no particular reason, all jittery&anxious?
Do you feel like you’re forgetting something?
Does your heart race a bit more than usual and it’s not thanks to love?
Do your stomach and guts protest a lot?
Do you wonder where your sex drive disappeared?
Do you also wonder why your periods are acting crazy?
Is pain your new best friend?
Do you feel super hot and/or super cold?
Do you wonder when did all that weight came or left?
Do you wonder how come you’re still not completely bald when your hair is falling out with the speed of light?
Do you feel like there’s something in your neck?

There just might be! Those are just some of the symptoms. Just some. That’s right. I know they’re pretty vague, not to mention common. No wonder it’s so hard to get a proper diagnosis.

What’s even worse is that once you’re diagnosed, most doctors believe that’s it. You get your pills or other treatment, and for them, the work is done. In reality, it only just begins. Right dosage, flare ups, collapses, inflammations,… big changes in your life are to follow. Life is never the same again.

Check your neck. Often. Trust yourself. Find support. Offer support. And stay strong.

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Happy New Year

So… it looks like we finally managed to get rid of the bad boy. 2016, that is! Did you make out of it alive? If so, maybe congratulations are in order. 😛

All jokes aside, was it really that bad? I can say it was quite challenging and therefore very eye opening. But apart from that, it was just another year. And years are basically just numbers. Numbers=math, and in my book, math is not only boring, it’s also annoying AF.

The older I get the less excited I am about new years. I don’t do resolutions. I never did. NY is just so… overrated IMO. All these promises, good wishes, corny greetings,… they’re forgotten so soon and people continue with their lives, fall back into routines, and that’s perfectly normal. That’s life. Why put pressure on yourself just because a year goes up by one number? If you want to change your life or change something in it, then you really don’t have to wait for NY to do so.

Dunno, NY was exciting when I was little and the idea of being up past midnight seemed promising. These days I’m always up way past midnight, so most of the charm is gone. I do understand, to some extend, this, um, freshness or the promise of it, that comes with celebration, and hence don’t roll my eyes when people go all crazy and overboard with excitement. The only thing I do hate is the pyrotechnic. Seriously, why would you want to send all that money up in the sky and scare the hell out of animals? That’s beyond me.

Anyway, back to 2017- it’s here! No matter if you celebrate or not, love it or hate it, have a whole list of resolutions or not a single one, I wish you all a good health, lots of laughter that comes from the heart, love, and happy moments with your dear ones. Here’s to travels, new adventures, yummy vegan food and happy animals. 🙂

Stay true to yourself and take it easy. 🙂

PS: Maybe my resolution should be to write more… 😀

And remember- we may not always have the control over what happens to us. But we do have the control on how we'll react.

Join the Challenge 22+

Or, as I love to say- come to the (b)right side- we have (vegan!) cookies. 🙂

There is no doubt- veganism is huge right now. So many people are willing to give it a try, which makes me super happy and excited, but also takes me back to my own beginnings. I remember how insecure, lost and misunderstood I often felt. I went through all the phases and did the whole process all by myself and alone.

Looking back at it, I see I could use some help, and now this help is here, widely available to everyone who wants&needs it, in a form of an amazing project, called Challenge 22 +. As the name itself says, it’s a challenge in which you get to experience veganism for 22 days. Your first step is signing up through the website.

Why join and why 22 days?

No beginning is easy and this one in particular can be extremely difficult. Sure, there are people who make a switch overnight but majority of people need some extra guidance and time. Which is understandable, considering that most of us were brought up in cultures where eating animals is so normal that it’s hard to see how utterly wrong it actually is. And damaging- to our own health, our (only!) planet, and of course the animals.

So a path to veganism can truly be overwhelming. It can be hard to find the right information and proper advice. After seeing all those videos&documentaries, reading articles, books and blogs frustration can arise and doubts appear. Especially when you have to face the others&break the news to your family&friends. It’s a lot!

However, this rocky road doesn’t have to be walked alone any longer! With a team of experienced and devoted vegans who volunteer as mentors, the transition is easy and enjoyable.

There’s no judging and no rushing, there is only lots of support in form of healthy tips, advice on fitness and nutrition, yummy recipes,… Experts, such as dietitians, help remove any doubts and/or fears. Every day brings a new challenge, but it’s all just fun- like trying vegan pizza for the first time or making some delicious pasta or lentil dish! I promise, you’ll find nothing but understanding and support there.

It all happens in a place, we all are so familiar with- within the “walls” of Facebook- a Facebook group, that is. So all your questions will be answered in real time and you’ll be able to find all the information you need.

How do I know all of that? Hmm, don’t want to brag but I’m also one of the mentors. Cheesy or not (no pun intended)- I’m super happy&proud to be a part of it. I find this challenge as a great way to help acknowledge veganism and it’s a form of activism that suits me best. It helps spread awareness with love and kindness. 🙂

And it doesn’t stop here, oh no! Another amazing perk is that you get to meet people from all over the world and create new friendships, find your “support” groups, which is so crucial. It always fills my heart with joy when I see mentees realise how great veganism is. And that vegans don’t just eat lettuce and die of protein deficiency. 😉

So if you’re interested and willing to give it a try-please, come and join us. You’re more than welcome and like I said, we’re a friendly bunch and we have cookies. Vegan cookies. 🙂

P.S.: I’m definitely not the person who believes in new year’s resolutions. However, if you already decide to make one, then this is the one! I’m also not that sentimental&over emotional person but I’ve got to say that this challenge has definitely been one of the highlights of 2016! So do yourself a favour and at least give a try to the most amazing lifestyle out there. ❤

P.S.2: 22 days because it takes approximately that much time to adapt a change, make a switch and break the old habits. 😉

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Grateful for disease?

Is it possible? To, you know, be grateful for being a chronic patient and having to deal with all the crap that comes with it? Like… being in pain most of the time, planning your doctors’ appointments rather than parties with your friends, having to watch what you eat, and never knowing what a day will bring. Of course the list goes on, but you get the picture, right?

Anyways, I’ve noticed this is a pretty “hot” and controversial topic among chronic patients. I too have often caught myself thinking: “Damn, I am actually grateful for all the shit I’ve been through.” It took me a while to realise that obviously I’m not grateful for the disease itself (hey, even I am not that kind of a martyr), but for the lessons I was able to learn. My life has definitely changed and, in a way, so have I. While I’m still the same old me in the very core, the way I perceive and see life has changed and so have my perspectives and priorities. And yeah, I’m grateful for this, because no matter how, umm, tough life might be sometimes, I appreciate the following lessons:

1. Things don’t make you happy
It seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Things are just things, yet so many people believe they will bring that ultimate feeling of happiness, fulfillness- peace of mind if you want to. So their only goal is to have things. And not only that, they also strive to do things that please others but not them.  They go to certain schools, hang out with certain people, go to certain places, work certain jobs, etc,… only to… what exactly? Put more pressure on themselves? Because in reality- why care what others think? Owning and doing things doesn’t make you happy. Maybe only temporarily. After all, happiness is a state of mind, not a state of possession and position.

2. Looks are overrated 
Don’t get me wrong, deep down I’m sure we all like to feel pretty. But then again, what’s pretty is pretty relative, aye? I’m also not saying that neglecting your personal hygiene is the way to go. However, I do wonder what real difference does our appearance make? I used to be obsessed with looks and wouldn’t leave the house without checking myself in the mirror, like, zillion of times. Then, during my biggest fight with disease, I completely lost interest and had rarely put any make up on… which was actually quite liberating, despite all the sorrow that surrounded me. I learned that if you feel fine this is all that matters. Life is this moment. It goes by quickly and can end any moment. So obsessing over looks in a way that you dont’t feel complete without looking like a picture perfect is just a waste of precious time.  Well, I did manage to “restore” my love for make up and I’m glad about it, but I don’t feel the “pressure” of it anymore.

3. Food matters
I learned this the hard way. Damn, did I suffer. It hurts to even think about it, and I still haven’t completely recovered, or better said, forgiven some people. Once again, common sense proved to be the best medicine. There’s no such thing as super foods, shortcuts that would heal you and allow you to play games and be reckless with your dietary choices. There are only real, wholesome foods that will help you get and stay better. If they’re prepared with love and eaten in peace they will prove even more beneficial. So forget about fad diets, trends, pills and wonders. There is no such thing. Make that change, do it for your guts and your body will thank you.

4. Face your fears
Getting sick gave me a unique glimpse inside my mind. It brought me to the edge and I was in an unknown, very dark and very unpleasant place… yet I survived. Thanks to one simple trick- facing my own fears. Do you worry about what might happen? Think about it! Don’t ignore it. This just adds to frustration and frustration results in all the bad things… you end up fighting with yourself, your loved ones, and everyone else. You become bitter and miserable. So fuck this shit and simply face your fucking fears. Consider all the options. Play with all the scenarios. Do it and I promise it will be easier. The tension will begin to fade. I learned that the true strength lies within me and that this is enough.

5. You become stronger
According to the internet it was Bob Marley who said: “‘You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.” He couldn’t be more on point! Disease changes your life. It shatters the world you used to know. You are left with two options: feeling sorry for yourself or fighting for yourself. If you choose the latter, you win. You become tougher. Or maybe less sensitive. Either way, your skin grow thick and this enriches your life.

6. Don’t take life or yourself too seriously.
Damn, the most valuable of all lessons. Life is too fucking short to live like you have a stick up your arse. And no, I’m not talking about yolo. This shit is overrated and stupid. Life is not a fucking competition. Bottom line is, we all die in the end so why rush it, why worry about what others think or act like the world is going to collapse if we make a mistake? If you’re able to learn something from it, and use this for improvement, then you win.

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