Archives For Joy

Go On, Admit It.

September 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

This is not an easy post to write. You see it is very common for people diagnosed with any disease to struggle with depression. But, no one wants to talk about it. Why? Because if you admit to having dealt with this issue then suddenly you will be seen as an emotionally unstable basket case. At least that is what we believe others will see.

typewriterThe truth is, it’s very common to deal with depression. In fact the Lupus Foundation of America states that “between 15 and 60 percent of people with a chronic illness will experience clinical depression.” That is a significant number! So why do we fear to mention this “symptom” of our disease? Because we are scared that others will view us differently. 

I have dealt with depression. There I said it. And honestly it’s not even easy for me to admit to you right now. I am actually sitting here thinking about your response as I type this.

At first I didn’t even realize that I was dealing with depression. I thought that I was emotional for one reason or another. When I finally began to realize what I was dealing with I didn’t want to admit it out loud because saying it means that it’s a reality. The thing is I wasn’t depressed about any one thing, I would find myself crying for no reason at all and frustrated that I couldn’t figure out why. I struggled understanding what was happening because I never really had a melt down after being diagnosed. There was a peace that I felt when I heard the words Lupus. There was finally a name to the problems I was having, and I knew that everything was in God’s hands. But, what I didn’t take into account was the changes that happened days, weeks and even months ahead. Fatigue that caused our family to end a Saturday outing earlier than normal, nausea that lasted all day, painful joints that left me sitting on the couch with heating pads all evening. It could be much worse, but it was change that I didn’t see coming. I also now know that certain medications can have a side effect of depression. Eventually my emotions began to shine through and I was able to see that yes, I was dealing with depression.

I don’t believe that depression is something that can ever truly be a hurdle that you leap over and never come to again with a chronic illness. The difference is that once you know it can creep up along your path at anytime you know what to do with it. For me, I look at it as another way to help others. You see I truly believe that my Lupus is more than just an illness. It is a ministry. If I didn’t battle with the things that come with my disease then I wouldn’t be able to encourage others in the way that I can connect with them now. So I write this to you today to say that it is okay to not be perfect! It is okay to admit that our illness stinks! It is okay to admit that your having a rough day! Because then we can stand together and fight our illnesses side by side!

The following is a guest post by Mandy Karo. I first met Mandy in college when we both joined Pi Zeta Phi during college. After hearing about my diagnosis Mandy reached out to me as she is also living with Lupus. I am so thrilled to have her share her story. She has wonderful insight, show her some love! 

Middle school is a tough time for most kids. When I was in eighth grade, I was in the midst of a very difficult transition with my two best friends. We had been inseparable in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade. I remember the gym teacher saying weMandy's guest post were “joined at the hip.” But in eighth grade, they were drifting away from me and becoming a part of the popular girls group. For a young teen this felt like the ultimate abandonment and rejection. I remember feeling a lot of loneliness, stress, and anger. It was in the middle of this drama that something much worse was piled on to make my teen years even harder. I was diagnosed with Lupus.

I had been having odd symptoms for a while. In sixth grade I started having strange stomach aches. The doctors thought I might have ulcers so I had to have a stomach x-ray. It was awful—the stuff you have to drink so they can x-ray you is disgusting! There were no ulcers found so life went on. In seventh grade I began feeling tired in the afternoons. But what happened in eighth grade was what led to my diagnosis. I started getting purple spots on my feet and ankles, especially when I was upset or stressed out. My feet and ankles would also swell up. At first we thought maybe I was allergic to the laundry detergent my mom used but switching it didn’t help. The worst time was when one of my teachers accidentally ran over my ankle with a TV cart. The purple spots showed up and I got so swollen I couldn’t walk on that foot. It hurt to put shoes on.

When we showed my family doctor the spots, she was perplexed so she looked up what it could be. She named off a number of possibilities and one of them was Lupus. I really had no idea what Lupus was, but I had heard the name before, and I knew it was some sort of serious disease. I started to cry. We were sent to Children’s Hospital in Denver to see a rheumatologist. They did blood work and the doctor asked me a few questions about my symptoms. Then just like that, he told me I had Lupus, gave me some packets about it, and prescribed medications for me to take. It felt odd that it was so quick. Even my parents continued on acting normal. Didn’t they know that I was just diagnosed with an awful, potentially life-threatening disease? Shouldn’t we all be crying or yelling or something? I know that they were just trying not to freak me out. Inside they were scared too.

I’ve been diagnosed with Lupus for thirteen years now. I deal with fatigue, unexplained fever, swollen joints or muscles, sensitivity to the sun, susceptibility to sickness, and the spots (which are called purpura and are caused by bleeding underneath the skin). The medication I take has helped me in controlling the flares. I know I am actually very lucky because many people with Lupus have much worse symptoms, and thankfully my symptoms are not life threatening.

There are a lot of questions that come with having Lupus. Will my symptoms get worse? Will I be able to have a healthy pregnancy? Will I have the energy for a full time job? Will I have the energy to raise children? Will the men I date be able to handle the fact that I have Lupus or will it make them want to head for the hills? The real question becomes, what do I do with all of these fears and anxieties?

When any sort of fear comes into our lives, no matter what it is, we must remember the power of God. God is bigger and stronger than any scary thing that looms in our path. Just imagine the universe in its incredible vastness and remember that God created it! That is power. Then remember that he loves you. When something bad happens in life, we might be tempted to ask if God loves us. If God loves me, why did he allow me to get a disease? But that question is focused on the physical, and God focuses on the spiritual. Yes, bad things happen on this earth. But God allowed his son to die for us in order that we might have a new life. That is love. This world is temporary, and we must use the struggles that come with it to strengthen our relationship with God.

To all the Moms, Happy Mother’s Day!

 

I stood with a glazed look over my face as I saw multiple rows with packages of seeds that all promise to one day be an actual vegetable if I simply planted them. In theory this should be a “no-brainer.” Pick the vegetables I want, get the dirt, a pot to plant them in and wallah! Except it’s not that easy. I’ve never had a plant, I don’t even know how often to water them let alone which type of tomato seed would grow best. Oh by the way, did I mention that I don’t know if this is even the right season for the seeds I’m planting? 

During the month of March I wanted to focus on gardening for “green month” of my Searching for Simplicity fast inspired by Jen Hatmaker‘s book 7. I’ve made many changes towards a greener lifestyle but gardening had never been something I had ever attempted. That made deciding what to do for the “green month” pretty easy, gardening it would be! With that I picked seven things to plant:

  • Tomatoes
  • Green onions
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Sweet peppers
The first sprouts of my garden

The first sprouts of my garden

I will be honest, when I started I couldn’t tell you how often to water my garden and I still don’t! I pretty much just gave it a good look and if it seemed like the soil was damp I figured no need to water. Couldn’t even begin to tell you if this is accurate!

Patience. Oh how gardening requires this attribute! I had a little hunch that God’s message during this fast was going to be related to patience. I mean gardens don’t bloom over night! I even found myself asking “how long does it even take for seeds to start sprouting?” Day after day I would go outside, water my dirt and come back in. Nothing was happening and I kept telling myself that I was sure this would be a lesson in patience. And guess what… it was a lesson in what patience will bring! The other day I went outside to yet again water my dirt but instead I found sprouts! That’s right people, seeds actually grow! I got super excited, ran inside to tell Chase and to grab my phone to start taking pictures. I mean seriously, my vegetables had started to sprout, Facebook needed to know about this! It was my first attempt at gardening and I actually succeeded!

Confession: I can’t tell you what it is that sprouted because I can’t remember the order of where I planted everything. Whoops! I’m pretty sure it’s one of the herbs but I guess I will just have to wait and find out.

I have always been aware of the importance of patience. And in most situations I was always aware of the joy you felt after the wait was over. But it’s easy to forget and to find yourself back in that state of impatience when you are waiting.

How easy it was to plant these seeds and in a matter of a few short weeks I was reminded of what comes as a result of patience!

 

I Am Not Lupus

February 25, 2013 — Leave a comment

In a little over a month it will be a year since I was diagnosed. To receive a diagnosis that changes everything is tough. You never know how you will take that kind of news until you are faced with it. It can be so easy to sink into depression, searching for the answers to questions that run a continual loop in your thoughts… why me? Why am I sick? What will the future hold? It’s also difficult to process because not everyone will understand what you are going through, because you might not look sick. But we can not stay in this place! When we stay there it can be a long and bumpy road ahead. I believe that my God is with me each and every day. He is there on good days and my horribly flared up days. I have no doubt that my going through this diagnosis and now living with Lupus is teaching me things I would not have learned otherwise.

Snow Day

There is so much more to me than just my Lupus.

But, we all have bad days and sometimes we just need a little reminder… some inspiration to keep us going. The truth is I don’t want this blog to be a constant story about the woes of my disease. Sure there will be posts about some rough flare ups, that’s just part of it. The point is I have Lupus but, I am not Lupus. There is so much more to me than that. I am a wife to the most amazing man who I am blessed to say was my high school sweetheart. I am a mom to an adorable little boy. I am a writer. I get so passionate about writing my thoughts, creating make believe in my novel I am writing, and sharing and expressing myself as a writer. I look at my disease as only giving me more perspective, not just my sole purpose of writing. Lupus is something that affects me every day. Even when I am feeling good I still have things that just come with having a disease to deal with that no one else has to worry about. It will always be a part of who I am. But it doesn’t have to be my identity. I don’t have to be strictly Lupus.

After several months of processing through my diagnosis I decided to take this blog in a different direction. I had been writing this blog for a while but felt it was time to for a change. For me Raising Inspiration is about my life, my journey and my disease. I want to spread a little awareness and some inspiration. My hope is that someone who is having a bad flare up will stumble across here and see that tomorrow is a new day. Perhaps a little laughter is what they find and it brightens their day, because sometimes laughter really is the best medicine. I don’t know why I got Lupus, I just did. And that’s okay. It’s part of who I am and now I have more to add to my story.