Posted in Life in general

What It Is Like Living With Anxiety and Depression

Mental health can be an ugly and every day I see remnants of the effects that it has had on my life. Depression and anxiety have plagued my entire life and while I grown accustomed to these feelings and I have learned to better accommodate them in my life, finding peace from the racing thoughts can hard somedays. When the inner voices keep you up at night with constant worry and the sadness follows you, it is hard to keep it together.

I try. I look at my children who have struggled similarly. And I try to be hopeful and happy for them. But it has never been easy for me. I don’t every really recall a time that depression and anxiety weren’t part of life. They have been here for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until I was an adult in my 30s that I learned how to fully make sense of what I was feeling.

Mental health is such as taboo topic even in the year 2021. While people are getting better about talking about it, I don’t always think the right conversations are happening. The idea of trying of trying to normalize something that isn’t considered normal is difficult.

Diseases like anxiety and depression force people to suffer on a sometimes nearly basis and fighting everyday for your health, happiness, and sanity is a constant battle. And people don’t always get that. There isn’t a straight line here. All of our experiences are different. Getting well, at least in my case, takes a very long time.  

I have been lucky. I have been high functioning despite having lived with anxiety and depression for most of my life. I work fulltime and I am very good at both my law office and writing jobs. I can take care of family and I have done so as a single parent for many years. So, I am fully functional but there isn’t always a healthy balance there. I struggle more than most people can see or ever know. Sometimes, even those closest to me don’t see my battle.

It is a lot of work to be happy and to not be anxious. I am here, and I am doing things I want to do, but it takes a lot out of me. Somedays are more exhausting them others. I tell people that depression and anxiety are chronic conditions. Before once you are living with these diseases, there is no going back. Yes, you will have periods in your life where it gets better, but there will always be times where it comes back.

I have a good life, and I say this because I wonder if people think I am depressed and anxious because my life is difficult.  But aside from working hard and being a single parent, I don’t have a hard life. My hard days are long behind me. But it was those past experiences that shaped me—not being able to raise my girls, being in more than one abusive marriage, and struggling to grow up in world where I didn’t always fit in.

A lot of those experiences made it hard to love myself, accept myself, or feel good enough—for myself, for others, for the Almighty. But these are things I have worked on. I am happy being single. I have a good relationship with my daughters, and they recently visited me. And it took many years of therapy to finally feel good enough.  

But there are all those internal thoughts and feelings that I felt for so long that creep up and destroy my self-esteem and confidence. And those old demons creep up on you pretty quickly. I have gotten to the point where I must remind myself that it is the depression, the anxiety, or both doing the talking, and I tell myself to move forward from those feelings. And there are days where that works and there are days where I just want to shut the world out and wallow in my anxiety and sadness.

I could go back to therapy or get medication again, but I have lived with these conditions so long that I know the answers are not easy and they are never going to be. I have gone through therapy more than once and have taken medication, and I know it helps. But I find it is easier to just keep going and working through those feelings as they come.

Of course, I will know when it has gotten too hard and I will reach out to my therapist, but today, it is about getting through, trying to find to find peace and happiness in the little moments. They are there. I just need to pay attention. 

I also seek solace I prayer. The Almighty has not left my side all these years, and He is the one constant in my life that has not given up on me—a simple reminder that I cannot give up on myself. I am still here despite everything, which is evidence God is here, and so am I.

I encourage you to seek help for anxiety and/or depression. I know sometimes it feels like there is nothing that can be done. I know this because I have felt that, too. You are a human being and you deserve to feel happy. I promise you can heal and keep healing. You just need to be willing to try. You are so many people rooting for you, including me.  

Posted in anger, Anxiety, depression

My Crippling Anxiety and Overwhelming Depression

I wanted to cry.  I wanted to scream.  I wanted to breathe normally. But I can’t do any of these things. I just sat there and wallowed in my pain.  My anxiety and depression was winning today and there was nothing I could do.

All the  worst-case scenarios were circulating in my head.  The tightness in my chest. I couldn’t make any of it go away.  I was sad and angry for no reason.  I just wanted to feel anything other than what I was feeling.

I tried relaxation breathing.  I tried calming music and even my favorite music. I treated myself to my favorite Starbucks drink. I went outside for fresh air, a walk, anything to make it stop. I prayed. I tried to think happy thoughts.  Nothing was working. It was just me and my crippling anxiety.

Nothing caused it. Nothing specifically happened. But it was there. And I tried everything to make it stop to no avail.

The reality is I have struggled all my life with depression and crippling anxiety so today is nothing new. It took years of counseling to learn to manage both. Most of the time, I walk myself through the anger, the sadness, and the frustration. Today, it is ongoing and there is nothing I can do. I have tried everything that usually works, and there is nothing left to try.

And so, here I am riding it out. Wishing something or someone should fix it. But there is nothing. No resolve. No magic pill. No quick relief solutions. Just me trying to get through the day. Trying to focus on my job. Trying to keep it together in front my children. Just trying.  Knowing I am failing miserably.  It is all I got.

I can’t do today again. But I have tomorrow and the fact that tomorrow has got to be better than today. It has to be. Wishful thinking, as I try to hang on through the scariest and most frustrating moments of my life.

I am still here. I am still alive. The anxiety and depression hasn’t killed me yet.  And I will keep going for as long as I can.  Because there has got to be some light despite all this darkness.


Posted in Life in general

Losing People

Walter Anderson is quoted as saying, ““Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.”

Losing the people we love is a painful and emotional experience.  I used to think that relationship demise or divorce were hard. But death is an experience that changes us to our very core.  And I understand losing the people we love happens to all of us, and it happens more than once in our lives, but it doesn’t mean that it ever gets easier.

We lost Dad when I was 19, my brother when I was about to turn 35 and Mom when I was 40.   The loss of these three very important people in my life threw my world into chaos and pain.  I never thought I could survive the pain, numbness and the aching.  But I did each time.

I have survived many losses in my life – and not just those related to death.  Each loss has made me stronger emotionally and more resilient. Often, when we are hurting, we cannot see past the pain.  It is when we start to heal that we start to understand what God’s doing and we allow ourselves to trust in the journey He’s laid out for us.

I lost someone very special to me this past weekend and while I understand she was suffering due to illness, I didn’t want her to leave us.  She was my mother’s cousin and her best friend.  I called her my aunt, so I am sad.  She fought a one and half year battle with cancer and it was time for her to be with my mother and her family that had passed before.  But I wasn’t ready to let her go. I wanted even just one more day to see her, to talk to her, to get be in her presence.

Losing both my parents and my younger brother (also to cancer), I do know how precious life is.  This loss is yet another reminder that life is too short.  We have to embrace life, live it to its fullest, and make memories with the people we love. And yeah, loss hurts. It is the worst feeling in the world.  You’re angry and you don’t even know who or what you are angry at.  You may feel discouraged, sad, lost and even fearful about the future.

As I work through my own grief, I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  And I am trying to get through that dark tunnel.  It is a slow process, but I will get there.  If you are going through a similar situation, remember to be kind to yourself.  It took for a long time to learn to care for myself, look after myself, and share my pain rather than always trying to be strong.  These are lessons that could have made my past healing experiences so much easier.

None of us like losing people.   As I sit there letting the memories of my mother and my aunt sneak up on me, I remind myself life is an amazing journey.  It is full of both pain and beauty. The pain and the challenges help you get to where you need to go.  Everything in life happens for a reason, and even though we may not know those reasons, it is okay to embrace life, trust in the Almighty and make the most of every moment.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen”. Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Posted in Acceptance, Life in general

What is Like After Ten Years of Chronic Illness

I generally try to be positive despite the chaos living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and fibromyalgia brings to my life.  But the fact is being chronically ill affects every part of my life.  I barely recall a time where I wasn’t in pain or “sickly.”  But I have to live my life no matter what it brings.  But the reality is, I used to be able to hide it better than this.

I write about chronic illness and I give advice.  I am an expert, at least that is my most recent writing title says.  And looking from the outside, you might see this Superwoman – she is a single mother with two jobs that keeps going even she has nothing life inside her.  Whether it is chronic illness or life’s adversities, she has got this.  You don’t know it is a facade. You don’t know the physical and emotional struggle that superwoman feels daily.

Sometimes, I wonder if people look at me and think I struggle to walk because of my weight.  Now granted, I have gained weight from all these years of life with RA and fibromyalgia from all the medications I take and from not being as active as I once was.  But I am not that heavy, not enough for it to cause me problems moving.  But I wonder what is perceived when I struggle to walk – or use my hands, or when my brain feels foggy, or when I feel generally sick.  Do they think I am flaky or that I use drugs? Or that I am not smart?

I don’t know what others perceive.  I just know what I feel inside.  I generally try to be positive.  But I get depressed, severely and often.  This life isn’t easy.  Illness takes a part of your soul you can never get back.  You can hide behind a positive attitude for the world to see.  But deep inside, you have fears, like how long you will live or what your illnesses will do next. You worry about your loved ones – your children –who will care for them if you became disabled or if your illnesses end your life.

It is hard to not listen to those negative thoughts because in your case, there is a possibility they could one day be all to real.  I try hard to shut those negative voices but sometimes they get the better of me, especially when I am flaring, and it hurts to walk or when I can barely stay focused and awake because of the debilitating fatigue and brain fog.

Some days, it takes everything I have to do one household chore or stay focused to get work done at the office.  And the people in my life – coworkers, friends, family and even my children – they are all oblivious to my inner struggle.  I smile through the pain or I simply stay quiet and never vocalize my physical or emotional ordeal.   I am sure many of them care but they don’t get it. Besides, there is nothing they can do, and I don’t want to place that burden on them.

These diseases – mostly RA, I think – have taken 10 years of my life and there is many more years to come of my being “sickly.”   It is frustrating to NOT be in control of a very important aspect of your life. Nothing anyone says or does can change that. This my reality – it is what it is, and there is nothing I can do about it either – other than fight for as I possibly can.

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

When I Miss Mom…

We are going on two years since we lost Mom and I continue to miss her terribly. On the days when I miss her the most and I need to feel closest to her, I talk to her.  Sometimes, I know what she will say, and I offer a response. It’s kind of silly, but it gives me closure.

Losing your mother is one of the hardest losses you will experience, and trust me, I have lost a lot.  The days have turned into weeks, weeks into months and here we are two years later.  I wonder how I have been able to make it with her physically in my life.  But I know that even though she is gone, she lives in my heart, in my memories, and all the things she taught me and the strength she instilled in me.

The sadness and the missing her comes when events happen that she is not here to be a part of.   They also come when I need her the most.  That amazing woman was my rock and the place where I laid my head when things got tough.  She loved me and accepted me when no one else did.

I know that I will always miss her, but as we get close to the second anniversary of her death, I am missing her more.  I miss her when I am in a store shopping and I see other women with their mothers. I miss her when I try to cook some of her recipes and they don’t taste the same.  I miss her when someone else loses their mom.  I miss her when something amazing happens in my life and my children’s lives and I cannot pick up the phone to tell her.  I miss her when I am having a bad day or not feeling well because she always knew the right thing to say.  I miss her when everyone is celebrating with their mothers and I cannot celebrate with her.

I miss her when something reminds me of her.  I miss her when I need her advice the most.  I miss her when I see her number in my phone because I can’t find it in me to delete it.  I miss her when I see older women who are lucky enough to have long lives and she didn’t.  I miss her when my children miss her or when they say they wish Grandma was around. I miss her on her birthday and on my birthday.  She always came by with a cake even though she knew I hated celebrating my birthday.  I miss her when I think about how she would look in ten years or 20 years had she lived.

I miss her when I go to her favorite places alone like Amish county, a trip we always enjoyed together.  I miss her when I stare at the sky and wonder where she is.

And even though I continue to miss her, I remember how much she loved me and my children.  I remember that she didn’t want to leave us, and she would have done anything to have stayed and watched her grandchildren grow up and to share in their victories and celebrations.

When I miss Mom, I just take that extra step to live my life and be happy because I know that is what she would want for me.  Mostly, I try to remember what it was like to be around her and the way she would have done anything in the world for my children and me.

I will never stop missing Mom, but every day, I remind myself what Mom would want for me.  And it is not to continue to have an ache in my heart for her.   It is to live my life to the fullest, take care of my children and love them in the way she loved me, and mostly, she’d want me to move on and find my place in this world without her.

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

Who Rescued Who?

Moira sleepI spent most last night twisting and turning. This chest cold was keeping me up.  My little guy (age 9) made his way into my bed and I ended up on the couch because I didn’t want to share this cold with him.  Moira, my two-year-old brown Tabby cat, spent most of the night at my feet.  When she heard me cough, sneeze or get up to get a drink of water to soothe my sore throat, she would come next to me and rub her nose towards my hand, so I would pet her.  When I ignored her, she would tap my chest with her paw.  She would purr once she got her way and got petted.

Moira isn’t a very cuddly cat.  She only wants attention on her own terms.  But she is very loving, especially when she sees her human mama struggling.  She has helped me get through many RA flares in past year and a half since she came into our lives.  She gives as much love as she is given.

She and my boys aren’t always on the best terms.  She may like them, but she mostly tolerates them.  The nine-year-old wants to carry her around and make her stay and cuddle.  She is no cuddler and she wants to run about, so he usually ends up being scratched.  And for my 18-year-old, the moment she hears his voice she hides behind her human mama. He is never done anything to make her fear him, but his size intimidates her.

Moira came into our lives two months after we lost Mom.  My kids had for years asked for a pet, but I never gave in because the responsibility of a pet would have fallen on me.  After many years of contemplation, I finally decided that a cat was easier to take care of when you live with chronic pain.

moira silly

We met a nearly six-month-old Moira at our local pet rescue. You know how they say, “Who rescued who?” Well, I strongly believe Moira rescued us, especially me, with everything I was dealing with at the time.  Further, she picked us, we didn’t pick her.

We went to the pet rescue that day looking for an older, short haired cat.  And we looked at plenty of cats, all in cages.  Moira wasn’t in a cage. She was in a play area trying to get our attention, and I didn’t want her because she was a long-haired cat. All my type A personality could think of is all the vacuuming I wouldn’t be able to keep up with.  But Moira wasn’t having it.  After all, her brother was adopted earlier in the day, and she was going to follow suit, so she put the charm on.  It took some time, but that girl got my attention and she came home with us that day, much to my children’s dismay because they wanted a male kitten who is was 2 or 3 months old.

Moira has gotten plenty of love, care and pampering, but she gets as much as a she gives, especially when it comes to her human mama.  She is also a bit of a snob.  Sometimes, I watch her snubbing her food or us and I wonder if she was royalty in a previous life.  Or when I watch her stretching and staring at herself in the mirror, I wonder what she is thinking.  Is she thinking that she is as beautiful as I tell her she is?

Then there are those moments where she does the craziest things, like stare at a wall for no reason, or climb into the sink, push open the faucet, wet her head and then have a long drink.  Or when she tries to fit into a box that is way too small for her. Or maybe it is the fact that when it comes to her snacks, she knows how to manipulate the kids while I am freaking out that they are going to make her fat.

All I know is that 2-year-old cat (almost 26 in human years) has brought a lot of joy to our lives from the day she came home.  Not only does she make me laugh and feel needed, but she also is there when I am feeling my worst.  Someway, she has connected and bonded with me, and made my life so much happier and filled it with the kind of love I couldn’t have imagined.  And even if I am still not feeling well tonight, that beautiful feline will be by my side showing me the same TLC that I have shown her.  Pets can be such a blessing and joy and until you have one, you have no idea.

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

All Worth It

Graduation day came and went, as do all the events that come and go. But it was an emotional day for me. Eighteen years of working hard, often two jobs, making every dollar count, while waiting on my son’s big day, it was worth it to see him in his cap and gown, beaming from ear to ear.

I was, of course, sad that Mom wasn’t there, but I know she would have been proud to see what an amazing young man he has become and all he has accomplished, despite the obstacles he has faced along the way.  And the obstacles I faced as I struggled to raise him on my own.   There were plenty of times, where I felt like I was failing miserably, both as a single mother and as my family’s only provider.  There are plenty of times where I lost my grip and fell and thought that I couldn’t get up.  But I did over and over, and that young man is proof that despite financial struggle, health worries, and parenting alone, that you can still get up even when it feels like you haven’t got the strength.

And life can be unfair. It can knock you down. So, can people, and I have had plenty of people in my life who have knocked me down, and were shocked when I still managed to get up.  There were plenty of times where I wanted to lie there, but I got up, even if I did it crawling.  And there have so many times where I had no one to lean on and I could only rely on myself. But again, it has been worth to see that smile on that young man’s face, and I’d do it again.  Because despite numerous obstacles, he turned out to be an amazing young man, and this momma should be prouder.

His graduation day also brought out some difficult emotions, ones I thought I had long overcome.  Turns out I am still angry at certain people in my life for putting so much responsibility on me and not being there for me when I needed them most.  That is something I have been thinking a lot about in recent days.  I am actually embarrassed about my anger.  I thought I was past it, but I guess I am not.  I have prayed on it and I prayed for the strength to forgive. I think I have held on to my anger because I am afraid to forget and make the same mistakes I previously made. I will keep praying for the strength to forgive, to be forgiven, but not to forget and repeat past mistakes.  After all, I set examples for my children, and the kind of people I want them to be. So, I need to be better than this.

As I think about what I want for my children, I want for them to experience everything I was never able to experience.  I want to choose dreams that mean the most to them, not me and not anyone else. I hope the roads they take lead them to where they want to go.  I hope that even when the world is cold that they choose smile and look for goodness and kindness.  I hope their dreams are big and their worries are small.  I hope they never have to bear more than they can handle.

Mostly I hope they know that I love them, and I am forever proud of them. I hope that they find love with people who want the same for them.  I hope they find God’s grace when times are good and even when they are rough.  I hope they never forget where they came from and that they can always come home.  Because being their mother, it is my honor and every struggle, it is worth it to see them succeed and become the adults I know they can be.

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

The Finish Line

When my oldest son started senior year way back in September, I never imaged how fast senior year would go, but here we are, less than 3 weeks away from graduation day – the finish line.

It stills feels like yesterday that I was counting the days he was late for being born – he was 13 days late to be exact. And now I am counting the days to his high school graduation.

Eighteen and a half years ago, I was blessed with this bundle of joy and I never knew I could love a human being so much.   As I reflect back, it seems as if the time moved too fast from when he was a newborn to this amazing young man he has become.  He wanted to grow up so fast, and I wished he would slow down.

There were plenty of moments where I questioned whether I was doing anything right, especially as I did it alone.  I raised that little boy all on my own, without a father in his life, and if you ask that young man, he will tell you he never missed out, that I gave him more than both a mother and father could give. His little brother looks up to him and even though they aren’t always on the same page, my little one brags about how he wants to grow up to be just like him.   And even though he and I have had our moments, he is without a doubt the best son a mother could ask for.

Over the years, as I watched that boy grow from a baby to a toddler, a little boy, a teenager, and now a young man, and his compassion, kindness and loving heart show me what kind of person he was becoming.  He constantly goes out of his way for others, sometimes putting his own needs aside to help.  And even when adversity stared him in the face, in the form of anxiety and panic attacks, rather than dwelling, he took the experience to educate others.  And I thought to myself, “wow, this kid is amazing,” and every day, he continues surprising me.  So, I look forward to his pursuing his dreams after graduation and showing me and the world everything he has to offer and give with that big heart of his.

Graduation day will be a day of mixed emotions for me. I will be proud of him for all he has accomplished, but another part of me will be sad because he has grown up so fast.  More than anything, I wish his grandmother – my mother – were here to share this special day with us.  Mostly with me, because I am watching my little boy – who now hovers over me by at least a foot – starting a new chapter in his life, becoming the adult I always wanted him to be. And he is taking a piece of my heart with him.

As he closes one chapter in his life, and prepares to start a new one, I hope he remembers he will always be my little boy, the boy who stole my heart, who makes me laugh, who teaches me to be a better person, and who can never be replaced.  My love for that young man is unconditional.  I will always be his number 1 fan and his loudest cheerleader.

And my love for him is everlasting, starting from that day in January 2000 when he took my hand and didn’t let go.  Now, he is letting go and it is time, but he knows that even though the finish line is almost here, he knows where to find me now, after this graduation, after the next graduation, and with every milestone of his adult life. I will always be there in the sidelines cheering the loudest and beaming with pride.

Posted in Life in general

Anger and Chronic Pain – Part 2

It has been quite some time (8 years) since I previously wrote on this topic.  I had noticed at the time that these terms were common search terms leading people to my blog.  I didn’t expect the response I got then and continue to get on this post.

It Can Get Better

When I wrote that post, it had been a little over 2 years into my diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia and being new to chronic pain, anger seemed to be an appropriate response.  I was angry at the universe for throwing me a curve ball when I was a young mother of only 32 years of age, and two years later, I was still feeling that anger because I was struggling to cope.  I was also in denial that this experience could get better for me.

That is not to say that it gets better for everyone. Everyone feels and experiences pain differently, and for some people chronic illness and pain results in disability, financial struggles, and so much more adversity than what I have faced.  But me, I was blessed and even though initially things went downhill, and they plummeted, they eventually got better with time.

These days, I lay an emphasis on my happiness, but I can tell you it is not easy. The days where my fatigue and pain are in full force are the hardest. Plus, I have joint damage and I suspect there will be surgeries down the road. Moreover, RA has led to inflammation related complications.  I have also suffered from clinical depression, and the thing about depression is that it returns in small bouts, and I always have to be aware of the fact it could return in full force.

I don’t fault anyone for being angry or resentful about living with chronic pain.  But I’ve come to realize that feeling too much anger worsens pain, affects sleep, ruins relationships, makes treatment harder, and results in depression, anxiety and unhealthy habits.

Fight or Flight?

When it comes to anger, the body responds by preparing a “fight or flight” response in the way that it would to perceived threat. The body responds physiologically to anger with:

  • An increased heart rate and/or blood pressure
  • Increased breathing
  • Adrenaline rushes
  • Muscle tightening
  • Heightened awareness of senses

While there some benefits to feeling this way, long term anger has adverse effects. Positive aspects of anger:

  • Awareness that something is wrong
  • Providing energy to right wrongs
  • May trigger problem solving to threats and issues
  • Energy to fight illness or do what is necessary in a situation
  • Gives courage to change and improve

All great things, but the negatives might overshadow the benefits. Anger:

  • Causes emotional and physical discomfort
  • Could lead to damaging actions
  • Impairs function
  • Compromises health
  • Carries serious and negative outcomes
  • Promotes negative self-image

Feeling angry all the time simply sucks for you and everyone else. And it sucks the joy out of life. Trust me, I know.


 Here are some things to think about when it comes to feeling angry.

You have a right to be angry.

Chronic illness and pain suck but you have a choice. You can either work it to your advantage (i.e. finding solutions) or you can let it consume you and take over your life.

Anger is about what you feel.

People and events do not make us angry. The feelings we have about these people and events do.  You help yourself when you stop attaching an emotional response to these things.

Anger sometimes equals frustration.

We are frustrated when our expectations are not met. Maybe you need to rethink expectations.

Anger hurts you.

Feeling angry towards others or about certain situations hurts you more than anyone else.  And often, when it comes to people, they either don’t know or don’t care.  It is your energy being consumed, not anyone else’s.

Anger needs a limit

Anger is necessary for healing.  Even through anger feels like a bottomless pit sometimes, it is okay to feel it.  The more you allow yourself to feel what you need to feel about your illness and pain, the more you will heal.

Anger, sometimes, unfortunately, has no limit and can extend to loved ones, so be careful with those relationships.  Any anger felt later on in your experience with illness and pain will hold you back from enjoying life.  If this sounds like you, I implore you to talk to a professional.  Seeking help for my angry and depressed feelings was the best thing I ever did for myself and my children.

10 Years

It has been almost 10 years since I was diagnosed with RA and fibromyalgia and my life hardly looks the same.  Chronic illness and pain have not only changed my life, but they have also changed me.  The people who have followed this blog a long time know this.

I don’t blog as much these days because my plate is full being as a single mother and with my legal career and my freelance writing.  More recently, I started a new job and cut back on my writing although I still do a lot.

I have been trying to take a more relaxed approach to life, particularly cutting down on unhealthy habits (i.e. my former excessive coffee habit), trying to relax more, and keeping people out of my life that in the past made it harder for me to be happy. And as for the latter, I don’t wish anyone any ill will, but I am trying to do what is best for my family and my health and happiness.

How I Respond These Days

Does the pain and sickness make me angry still? Sometimes, it just does.  I respond by praying for better days.  It is how I cope. You are entitled to cope in any healthy way that works for you.

I don’t always pray for a reprieve from the pain.  Sometimes, I pray for the Almighty to watch out for my children especially in the world we are currently living in.  Watching the news these days promotes depressive feelings for me, so I try to keep my media exposure to a minimum. I pray to be a better woman, to find the strength to rise above, to be there for loved ones, to have courage especially when it comes to my heart and to forgive and forget.

I don’t pray as often as I could, and I often pray when things are bad, rarely when they are good.  This is something I need to work on. I am not a religious as I was raised to be, but I try.  I am definitely better than I used to be.

A Long Ways

My life hasn’t been easy, but I have certainly come a long way. Anger, resentment and hurt are things I have let go of, for myself and my children.  But letting go of anger and forgiving doesn’t mean we allow people back in our lives that have hurt us.  We live, learn and let go – that is all any of us can do to make this journey a little bit easier.

I hope your journeys with chronic illness and pain get easier and continue to get easier. I hope that each of you finds strength to keep fighting for happiness and normalcy, but mostly, I wish for your pain (physical and emotional) to be eased.

Posted in Life in general


When it comes to luck, I felt like I have for so long carried the short stick, and was destined to hold on to it. Life has thrown some pretty rough curve balls my way, and anyone who has followed my blog knows this.

I was married young, that marriage was hard, and I didn’t get to raise my three daughters.   I raised my oldest son without his father in his life – and that was his father’s choice.  After I walked away from that marriage, my family wasn’t very supportive, so I went on my own to figure out my life. I was remarried when I was 31, and even through I thought things were looking up, they went downhill.  I was diagnosed with RA and fibromyalgia after my youngest son was born, my brother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away, my second marriage ended, Mom had a stroke and passed away a few years later, and I was struggling to keep afloat – emotionally, physically and financially.

If anyone could be so screwed up, it would be me, but I am not a martyr. I am someone to keeps getting up every single time I fall, and that is what keeps me going. And I learned from the greatest woman that ever lived – my mother.  Everyone that knew her knew how strong she was, and she never let anyone see her waver, and I will be darned if I ever let bad circumstances win.  The only way I stay down is if I am on my knees praying.

Here we are – almost in 2018 –  and my daughters are these lovely young women.  Two are married, and I am already a grandma.  I keep in touch with all three, and our relationship is in a good place. My oldest son is a senior in high school, and he has turned into a wonderful young man, and he turned out remarkable because of me.  And life has blessed  me with this amazing, bright and happy 9-year-old boy who makes me smile, even on the days when it feels like I have nothing left in my me.  My health isn’t ideal, and there are set backs, but I fight everyday to keep going so that RA doesn’t win.

I turn 42 in a couple days, and I realize how much I have grown emotionally in the last several years.  I am afraid to say it out loud sometimes, but I am doing okay. Kids are healthy and happy, I don’t feel like I am drowning anymore, but mostly, I am happy.   And “mostly” is pretty good.   I am not waiting for the other shoe to drop, which was something I did for so long.  I know that I cannot predict the future, but if life has taught me anything, the one important thing is that I AM A SURVIVOR.

I spent so much of my life trying to get validation, and I failed miserably.  It has taken lots of therapy and soul searching to be content with who I am, even if others in my life don’t agree.  And I am content. I no longer need or seek validation from family, a man or anyone else.

Of course, there is still stuff I strive to change about myself, but who doesn’t want to be the best version of themselves?  I am working towards being the best version of me based on what is best for me and my kids, and not necessarily what anyone else feels or thinks is better.  So, I say, STAY TUNED.

Maybe it is maturity or growth, but I am starting 2018 feeling hopeful and positive. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for me.

I hope that 2018 is filled with happiness, good health, and growth for you.  Merry Christmas and have a great New Year!





Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

Hardest Moments of Being a Single Parent

I never planned on being a single parent, but it happened.  I love my children and I cannot imagine my life without them.  But parenting alone is hard, and there are some really big challenges that stand out.

Worrying Alone

There is no lonelier feeling than worrying about your children, about taking care of them, and keeping a roof over their heads alone.  When I am up all night because someone is sick, or I am struggling with whether I have made a right decision, I feel overwhelmed and alone. I don’t miss my ex, but I wish he played his part. The burden of knowing you are the only person invested in your children’s lives and future is scary and hard to bear alone.

Celebrating Alone

I look forward to the milestones of my children’s lives.  They are the best reminders that I am doing a good job, that I have not screwed them up, and that they are growing up healthy and turning out to be amazing human beings.  While I look forward to the celebratory milestones like every other parent, I hate celebrating these milestones alone.   I feel like a single voice cheering my children on, and it is a subtle and painful reminder that I am alone in this experience.

Crying Alone

Single moms cry – a lot, but it is the worst when you have moments where you have held it in for so long, and you finally let the tears flow.  And you can’t let your kids hear you.  So, you grab a pillow and you cry into that pillow.  The crying alone part is magnified because you know you have no one to help you or to tell you, “it’s going to be okay.” I know it is all up to me to pull myself together.  It is not like I have a choice. But I need these moments. And I just wish someone could hug me and tell me it will get better, even if that is not true.

Asking for Help

This may not come as a surprise to those of you who know me, but I hate asking for help. I just want to be enough for my children, so I try to convince myself I can manage and balance everything.  While people are willing and eager to help, it takes a lot on my part to swallow my pride and admit I actually need help and that I cannot do it all.  It is even harder to ask because my children and I have been let down by the very people that were supposed to be there for us. So, I focus on doing the best I can despite the circumstances because asking for help is just plain hard.

Disappointing My Children

Every parent on Earth disappoints their children once in a while.  But when you are a single parent, it feels like you are disappointing them more – maybe you’re not, but it sure feels like it.  You don’t have as much time and money, and you just can’t play the role of two people.  I wish I could give them everything they want, because all I want is for them to be happy. But alas, I cannot, and I need to learn to be okay with what is out of my control.

Explaining Why the Other Parent Isn’t Around or Doesn’t Show

Having to explain to my child something that is hard to understand is probably the hardest part of being a single parent.  Why doesn’t Dad call? Why doesn’t Dad show up when he is supposed to? Does Dad love me? Is he ever coming back?  Watching my child struggle to understand the absence of his father breaks my heart.  But I watched my older son before him go through the same thing, and he turned out just fine, so I can take some comfort in that.  He is almost 18 and tells me that he never missed out on his father not being around, and that I gave him more love than two parents could.  (Yea, just thinking about that makes me teary-eyed.)

I love my children and my life.  If I had a choice between single parenting and not being a mom at all, I would choose being a single mother without hesitation.  But as many single parents can tell you, some days are rough, and going at it alone is very lonely. We are all doing the best we can with the cards we have been dealt, and despite our worries, our kids are turning out just fine.

Posted in Life in general, Living Life As I See Fit

Ending 2017 With Strength and Grace

This is the time of the year my editors are asking for holiday and New Year’s articles.  While it may be early for you and me to think about these things, these companies are doing what they are supposed to do, which is plan.  As I start writing my articles and start to close out yet another year of my life, I start to look back on how much growth I have accomplished in the last year, two years, five years and even ten years.

Chronic illness has changed my life more than I ever could have imagined. Some of that has been hard and some life altering, but I have managed to weather each and every storm with strength and humility – and that has taken a lot of work on my part.   I have evolved into a different person, especially compared to the one I was before chronic illness came into my life.

Flash back ten years ago when my health didn’t suck.  I was married with a nine-year-old and a newborn.  I wasn’t happy in that marriage and I eventually walked away.  Months prior to walking away, I had lost my younger brother to cancer and the pain of his loss lingered for years after.  My mom had a stroke months after my brother’s death and her health spiraled downward until we lost her last year. From the time of her stroke and onward while her health was deteriorating, I did everything in my power to take care of her with every setback.  Eventually, all her health issues and my brother’s death took their toll and we lost her two summers ago.   Her death was the biggest wakeup call of my life.

I had already been transforming as a person with chronic illness, as a single mother and single woman, someone’s daughter, someone’s sister and aunt and someone’s friend.  I had spent a lot of the past 15 years of my life taking care of others and after my mother’s death, I came to realize that all of it had taken its toll on me.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  It was my pleasure to take care of my mother and everyone else who needed me. But I forgot to take care of myself in the process. I stopped putting my needs first and asking for help when I needed it. I allowed people to take advantage of me and it was my own doing, I wanted acceptance and I thought putting everyone’s needs ahead of my own was the answer.

My mother’s death stopped me in my tracks.  My mother was gone, and I had put distance between myself and some family members – not because I was angry at them or because of something they had done.  I put that distance between us because my mother was the reason I allowed myself to put up with so much. I made choices because of my love for her and because I believed these were the things she wanted and expected of me.  Granted, I don’t know what my mother wanted or expected.  I did what I thought was expected of me and her loss sent every thought and expectation into a brick wall.  I was alone without her.  And I had to learn to live a life without her and without the influence of my family because I was so unhappy.   And it was NOT just grief.

I was the strong one in the family – that is what everyone told me for so long.  Because I was the “strong one,” I believed I had to bear all my burdens alone. And I did and guess what? No expected me to ask for help and they were used to me not asking.  But they all asked me for help and I helped – always.  I probably never will ask for help because well, I am supposed to be the strong one. But I did seek outside help after losing Mom and I found out that I don’t have to be the person every expects me to be and that I can be happy even if it means doing my own thing, living up to my own expectations and being the person I have always wanted to be.

I have always faced by life with strength and grace, never backing down and never letting anyone see my hurt and pain.  When I finally let my wall down, I realized that letting it down meant letting people in I could rely on, who would allow me to be the person I was destined to be, who would accept me as I truly am, and who would love me despite all the flaws I see in myself.   And I face the New Year, I am facing it without fear of judgment, or losing, or making the same mistakes as before.

I am finally living my life on my terms.  And if I keep my distance, it is not because I am angry at anyone, it is because my choices and life aren’t open for debate. The person I am today stopped trusting somewhere along the line and has simply chosen to find better ways to make sense of her life and cherish the important people in her life.   I love the people who have always been a part of my life, but if the last year has shown me anything, it is that I can be happier finding my own place in this world and looking to a life that continues to get better and brighter.