I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

HAWMC 28 - Words of Wisdom to 16-Year-Old Me

WEGO Health's HAWMC Day 28 Write a letter to yourself at age 16. What would you tell yourself? What would you make your younger self aware of?

whew...That's an emotional one!

To 16-Year-Old Me and All Other Struggling Teen Girls:

You are more special alive than dead.

 There are worse things in life than being fat...like everything.

Go ahead, take the risk and tell your parents just how much you are struggling with your eating disorder and/or depression and/or suicidal thoughts.  Maybe you would be hospitalized and maybe not, but the experience will NOT be like One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.

Perfectionism, control, is all an illusion and so let go and enjoy life more.

You have instincts-trust them!

Work hard on not caring so much about what other people think about you before this turns into a full-blown disorder.

Feminism is your friend.

Your sexuality is not bad, sinful, to be hidden away or to be feared, but to be celebrated, respected and treated well.  Rejoice in your sexual power!

Yes means yes! Consent is an enthusiastic yes-do not let anybody tell you differently.

You are not normal and that is how it should be.  Life is about accepting your not-normal-ness.

True power does not come from getting people to take care of you, but in being able to live interdependently with each other.  This may take you a long time to understand.

Hold on.  I know you don't fit in now, but you will fit in eventually. In the meantime, you are enough as you are.
You don't have long to wait-in 2001, you will discover DragonCon and there you will finally feel at home.  You will say, "These are my people," and will come back year after year.  You will join several progressive churches where you will feel more accepted and like your personal beliefs do not clash with what is preached.  Also in 2001, your parents will finally recognize that you are struggling with mental illness and you will get the help you need.  It will be a long, long road that you are still walking, but it is not as bad as you had feared and recovery has proven to be a truly wonderful thing.

But in the meantime...

you are enough as you are.

Friday, April 25, 2014

HAWMC 25 - "Fit Friday" - "Beauty Walk" Pictures Cont. & My Definition of Fitness

Today is day 25 of the WEGO Health HAWMC.  They're calling it "Fit Friday:" What do you do to stay fit? Tell us about your efforts in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.   I am going to combine this post with day 9 when I talked about my "Beauty Walks."  I am also making it count for day 23, which was the last "Wordless Wednesday" by adding some more pictures from my walks.  Enjoy!
from my cousin's farm in Virginia - when I visit, we go on farm walks daily!
purple wild flowers found on the Atlanta Beltline
a beautiful view, also from the Beltline

Being fit is subjective, of course-I do not go on these walks every day, but have to gauge my tiredness and pain level.  Today was absolutely gorgeous, but I was too tired to go for a walk and that is okay.  What matters is that I walk when I can, knowing that I am getting the wonderful benefits of exercise at that time-at other times, rest is what is needed and that is just as important.  In fact, I once had a doctor say that rest is more important than medication for people with bipolar disorder!  To me, being fit is about being mindful to one's own body and no one can know what exactly is right for my body, except for me!  Don't let anyone tell you that you need to be more or do more than you feel you can and want to do-just be mindful of the beauty around you and tune into that inner peace!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Easter Message for the Brokenhearted, And That Includes Me

My heart is shattered.

I rub my face in the towel and I feel like it will rub away.

And yet something within me has changed-I no longer feel despairing or abandoned.  I see with my wise mind.

I had to end a truly wonderful romantic relationship far too soon.  For this post, the details are unimportant, just know this-it was short and special, loving and intense, almost perfect and I am crumbling inside.  The thought that I cannot and I know that I should not for both of our healing call her shakes me up inside and so I distract myself by keeping myself busy and trying to soothe myself as often as possible throughout the day and night.

Yesterday's Distraction and Self-Soothing Skills:

  • Drinking Hot Tea (Honey Chamomile) 
  • Eating an Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Cooking a Yummy, Healthy Dinner (Asian Chicken Salad & Sweet Potato Rolls)
  • Soaking in a Menthol Bath
  • Crafting
  • Mindfully Finishing Listening to I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  • Praying
  • Cuddling with my Cat, Arlo
  • Sleeping In
  • Taking Care of My Appearance
  • Showering
Yesterday as the hot shower water was washing my skin away and my dismembered hands were climbing up the walls, I was surprised to hear this song start to play in my brain:

Hallowed Be Thy Name
You are Love, you are Light, you are Lord over everything. Alpha, Omega, Jehovah, the King of Kings, Wonderful, Waymaker, Worthy of my offering.  Hallowed be Thy Name.
You're the answer to all of my problems, and you solve them.  Hallowed be Thy Name.
You supplied all my needs and I call you Abba Father. Hallowed be Thy Name.
You're the Almighty Fortress in a time of tribulation.  Hallowed be Thy Name.
And I am more than a conqueror in every situation.  Hallowed be Thy Name. 
You are Love, you are Light, you are Lord over everything.  Alpha, Omega, Jehovah, the King of Kings, Wonderful, Waymaker, Worthy of my offering.  Hallowed be Thy Name.
You're the only God(de) and there never will be another.  Hallowed be Thy Name.
And ten thousand angels could not tell how much I love you.  Hallowed be Thy Name.
I'm gonna lift you up, higher and higher.  Hallowed be Thy Name.
And everybody will see that you set my soul on fire.  Hallowed be Thy Name.
You are Love, you are Light, you Lord over everything. Alpha, Omega, Jehovah, the King of Kings, Wonderful, Waymaker, Worthy of my offering.  Hallowed be Thy Name.
Hearing the song in my head gifted me with a quiet joy and a solemn peace.
Yes, one can know joy during the darkest dismembering pain.  My pain does not have to turn into suffering.  Even when my pain causes me to not feel whole (hence all of the disconnecting, dismembering metaphors), I can find a tinge of joy that will always provide me with peace by reminding me that I am truly whole.  I can trust my positive affirmation that I believe in a Godde of second chances.
It is Easter.  A time of death, but a time of resurrection as well.  Whether you believe in the literal story of Christ's rising up or not, one can believe in the powerful truth of new life.  I do.
My recent relationship gave me new life and now I am dying.  But that is okay.  Right now I am on a family vacation and I will use it for distraction, help with healing and a time for renewal.  It is the cycle of life, love remembered, love died, and then given out again-an Easter story for everyone.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Belated Good Friday - Life's Lonesome Valley

I like HAWMC's Wordless Wednesdays - "We all know a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Post/share a picture that relays a message or story to the viewer." 

My church did something artistic for this Good Friday - we submitted pictures for the stations of the cross. I signed up and was assigned the third station, which emphasizes how alone Jesus felt walking down the road being taunted by the very people who had praised him just days previously!

Here are my pictures:
Sculptures on the Atlanta Beltline
Part of A Painting I Once Completed

I can relate to this station.  No one can take away my pain and no one can feel my feelings for me.  In that sense, it is true what they say about every person having to walk alone.

The Fairfield Four
You got to go to the lonesome valley
You got to go there by yourself
Nobody else can go for you
You got to go there by yourself
Oh, you got to ask the lords forgiveness
Nobody else can ask him for you
You got to go to the lonesome valley
You got to go there by yourself
Nobody else, nobody else can go for you
You got to go there by yourself

Still, I believe that Goddde is always with me and that Godde's Spirit is within me and when I am in pain, Godde is in the pain and when I experience joy She does also-when I have both, she holds the dichotomy sacred. This provides me with comfort.
Of course, we cannot be all things to everybody, but we can attempt to mindfully listen to and empathize with the people in our lives. This is something we can practice whether we are a believer or not. Nonjudgementally listen and hold their hearts, feeelings, and circumstances as sacred-the world would experience a lot more peace and love and harmony that way.

Friday, April 11, 2014

HAWMC Day #11 - Date Night - What I Need

It's WEGO Health's HAWMC Day #11 - Date Night: We’ve seen some posts from Health Activists on dating tips when you have a chronic illness. What tips do you have for those looking for the one fish in this big pond?

I'm ready for a date!  

I don't feel like I have stellar words of wisdom for dating, as I have not done tons of it, but I can share with you my dating/relationship needs, which I have learned from past relationships-perhaps they will help you!

I need someone that will not equate fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome with depression.  While it is true that those illnesses are worse when I am depressed, they do not magically go away when I am not and telling me that I should just get my depression or anxiety under control minimizes my situation.   
Basically, I need someone that will take me as I am and will not minimize me or my illness.

But I need someone that knows how to have fun too!  Someone that puts me at ease-that does not raise my anxiety levels, but is considerate and easy-going.  Someone that I can have passionate conversations with that have nothing to do with mental or physical illnesses, that I go on walks with, out to eat with and just in general, explore the city and each other in mutuality and lovingkindness.
That's what I need and I think it is helpful idea to write your intentions and needs down in regards to love and dating for anyone, as suggested in the book All About Love: New Visions by Bell Hooks, which I read recently.  
Good luck on your own dating adventures whether you have a chronic illness or not-I hope you get what you need!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

HAWMC Day 10 - I Thank Myself and My Godde

Today is WEGO Health's HAWMC Day #10!

And the winner is… You! You just won an award and are on stage, holding your trophy. Write an acceptance speech. Who do you want to thank? How did you get to where you are today? Don’t worry, we won’t rush you off stage!
Recently I made my first altered book and I entered it into my first art contest! (An altered book is a hardback book that has been artistically altered in some way.) That was a big deal for me, as it was the first time that I have had enough self confidence to submit a piece of my own art into a contest to be judged.  I called it, "Corey's Book of Truth:"

I filled it with page after page with my own positive affirmations.`
My very first page was an acceptance speech of sorts-it was the page where the author typically thanks all the people that helped her write and publish the book, except that I chose to thank myself and my Godde.  When it comes to recovery, I think it can be so rare for credit to go where it is really due-I remember one time when I was attending a treatment center and at one of their events, they focused all of their gratitude on the staff and it made me angry, because I thought and still think that we, the patients, should have gotten some of the credit for all of our hard work!

So here is my recovery acceptance speech, as I remember it from my altered book:

I thank myself for never giving up,
                     for being vulnerable,
                     for trusting others,
                     for being open.

I thank my Godde for always being with me, 
                           for being my positive source of power
                           that continually urges me to choose the better way.     

HAWMC #9 Wordless Wednesday - Beauty Walks: A New, More Mindful Approach to Exercise

It's time for WEGO Health's April Health Activist Writer's Monthly Challenge! Today is number nine (I will be participating sporadically...)  We all know a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Post/share a picture that relays a message or story to the viewer.

"Walking is a great way to integrate mindfulness into your everyday life and has been practiced as a meditative technique for thousands of years." by Headspace from Huffpost Lifestyle; Meditation in Action: Turn Your Walk Into A Mindful Moment
What do you think of when you think of the word, "exercise?"  Do you think of the numbers on an elliptical machine telling you of how many calories you burned or of how many miles you walked?  That's what I used to think of, but those numbers caused me a lot of stress, obsession, and anxiety.  It got to the point where I stopped doing any exercise at all-going to the gym caused me stress and most exercise hurt my joints anyway.

And then I discovered mindfulness.

Now I like to exercise, but it's because I don't think of exercise in terms of numbers-specifically how many calories I need to burn, but how I can appreciate the world around me.  I like to go on walks outside and bring my camera and take pictures of the local flora, fauna, sculptures, and other art.  Nowadays a bunch of beautiful bright purple tulips is more likely to make me think of exercise:
Recently some of my friends went out walking at a nearby park and the sun gave out beautiful light and shadows as it was setting:
I have found that I much more motivated to walk when I think about it being an exercise in beauty and in being mindful in the art that is around me in nature and in the city.  Many times after my therapy appointment, I go to the Atlanta Beltline, which is nearby and walk for a little while.  What I like about the beltline is that it has a lot of art and shops nearby, so that while there is not as much nature, there is still a lot of beauty and interesting things to see.
Last Fall, I took some pictures of the trees changing colors at the Camp Creek Greenway Trail:
What I like about being mindful is that it is also about paying attention to your body.  I am much better about bringing water and a snack, like a granola bar or a banana with me than I used to be.  When my body says, "hydrate!" or "eat!," I listen and do so.  I no longer believe deprivation correlates with strength.  I instead believe strength correlates with how well I respond to what my body tells me-so if my joints are aching and are telling me to slow down or to turn back, I do and I do not consider myself weak, but congratulate myself for treating my body right.  I am happy that I enjoyed the time outside that I did and look forward to the next time I am outside.  Although my walks tend to be short, I try to not focus on the numerical value and instead focus on their positive, mindfulness value, which is immense, as ever since I have made that shift in my thinking, my stress level has gone down tons.  

I hope these pictures have brought you some beauty into your life.  More importantly, I hope that they have inspired you to think about exercise in a different, more peaceful and mindful way.

Link Love:

I take back my worthiness, my belonging in the world of beautiful and diverse beings. I live without apology for the straight lines and curves, living tissue, vulnerable heart that hold my living, breathing manifested story.
I will not confuse thinness for health.