God has been working on me for a while about being more humble and transparent. This is a hard pill for me to swallow for many reasons but mostly because I feel like I should be strong and have things at least somewhat together. I’m a hot mess and everyone knows that but in my hot messness (pretty sure that is not even a word) there is still a degree of calculation, deciding how far I let that go. I want to be a cute, fit, funny, capable, hard-working, inspirational hot mess that somehow juggles everything well and gets everything done just as it should be if not better! So pretty much I let everyone think I’m a hot mess while I’m working my butt off to keep everything in the air and going to the high standards I set for myself at home and work and everywhere! It’s a little, no a lot, exhausting to be honest. Anyway I say all that to say- I am not as strong and capable as I want to seem. Yesterday was fibromyalgia awareness day. I saw several of my friends post purple butterflies with information about the mysterious condition. It is still unclear to the medical community what causes this condition so it is hard to diagnose. It is also hard to treat since doctors can only treat the symptoms not the actual problem. It has many symptoms and can be confused with other conditions. The main symptoms are: widespread pain and tender point, fatigue, sleep problems, concentration and memory problems, anxiety or depression, morning stiffness, numbness or tingling, headaches, ibs, and painful mentrual cramps.
When I was in high school I had headaches and neck aches every single day. My mom was obviously concerned and took me to the doctor several times trying to get to the bottom of things. My doctor ran all the tests and finally diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. I was a little younger than most people are when they start experiencing symptoms of this condition and it was several years ago when it was even less well known. At that time the doctor told me that the only treatment would be painkillers and he didn’t want me to start them at such a young age. So pretty much I just needed to endure it, which I did for many years. Fast forward to about 6 years ago, I went back to work full time and was now dealing with a different kind of stress than being a stay at home mom with three little girls less than 4 years apart, plus I was over 30 years old. This is when I started experiencing widespread symptoms of fibromyalgia. The severe muscle aches, the tender pressure points, the tingling legs that wouldn’t let me be still long enough to fall asleep, the annoying mental fog and the fatigue. I very rarely ever go to the doctor, but it got to the point that I had no choice, I needed some solutions for all that I was dealing with. My regular doctor referred me to an rheumatologist, since she suspected it was fibromyalgia causing all my symptoms. He ran a lot of blood work and tests to make sure I didn’t have arthritis or lupus, there’s no test to determine if it is in fact fibromyalgia so doctors just have to rule everything else out to diagnose it. He is a very nice man and never made me feel like it was all in my head like some people I have read about experience at the doctor. He prescribed me an anti convulsant medicine since apparently that helps with a lot of the symptoms. At this point I did get a little relief but I would still hurt very bad in the evenings if I did too much, and let’s be real, I’m not a sit down kind of person so I almost always “do too much”. The next time I visited the doctor he added a muscle relaxer to help my body relax so I could sleep at night. This did help very much and I felt more rested in the mornings. But I was still having headaches on a regular basis. So at the next visit, two years after my diagnosis with this doctor he started me on a third medicine- an anti depressants, he said the brain is a complicated organ and the same thing that causes depression may be causing my nerves to send false signals to my brain indicating I have pain that there is not actual reason for me to have. This combination has worked wonders for me, I sleep well almost every night (as long as I have no caffeine after lunch) and I am able to push through and do most of the things I need to do every day. At this point I had gained some weight because I didn’t have the energy to exercise and it honestly was so painful. The doctor recommended that I start doing yoga and easing into some kind of exercise because the benefits would outweigh the negatives. So I started running again, slow and short but pushing myself to do more. About 6 months later my sweet sister-in-law and I ran a half marathon. I literally cried several times during the race because I was just so thankful that I was able to accomplish it. I have been running pretty consistently since then. If I take more than a few weeks off I regret it so much, because building my strength and endurance back up is stupid hard. Two of my crazy friends and I are now training for a whole marathon, 26.2 miles. That’s insane! Like I can’t even fathom it yet. I’m gonna be honest- it’s hard! It’s hard for all three of us! We are all working moms, we all have other responsibilities, we are all hot messes. For me to say that it’s physically harder for me than it would be anyone else is presumptuous since I don’t know how anyone else sleeps or feels or thinks. Some days I can barely take the first few steps of a run, I feel like the tin man, rusted stiff. Once I get warmed up it’s better. The muscle aches and pains from one run never subside before the next run. My body hurts to touch, in fact clothes that are tight or have a certain texture are torture. I very rarely say anything to anyone about it because I don’t want to sound weak or like I’m asking for pity. I want to be Super Mom and Wonder Woman. I want to look strong and be strong and feel strong. I want to be above average in everything I do, I always have. So why am I telling the world all about this now? Well, God. Conviction. Humility. Transparency. And hopefully some inspiration for some one. I do not have it all together. I’m not as strong as I make myself look and I’m struggling most days. I’m tired. So very tired. And I promise you everything hurts. But everything hurts whether I’m pushing myself to run to the next town or not so I might as well do something crazy! I want you to know that you can do something crazy too! Maybe your crazy thing isn’t to run 26.2 miles just to show yourself you can. Maybe you need to get healthy or forgive some one who doesn’t deserve it or learn something new or go back to school or surrender to what you know God’s been asking you to do. Maybe your something crazy is to be real with people even if that makes you feel vulnerable (for example this freaking blog post) or to just stop trying to keep all those dang ducks in a row. I don’t know what that means for you but please please please do more than you think you should do, set big crazy goals, bite off more than you can chew and go for it! And get some people in your corner who don’t let you slack off but push you to keep going even when it’s super hard! The harder something is to attain the more satisfied you feel when you conquer it!! Am I gonna make it to 26.2 miles, will be race day be successful, will I impress everyone? I don’t know but you better believe I am going to keep pushing myself no matter how my body tells me I feel and no matter how tired I am. And I pray you will too! Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is struggling with something. No one is exempt! Be kind and encouraging and brave! Cheer for those around you and do something worth cheering for yourself! Life is short! Live big and crazy and conquer things that seem impossible!