Keep Shining For Others

Recently I joined a bible study at my church as a way of growing deeper in my faith, find another community of women I could confide in and also as a new way of finding support with the many ups and downs of life.

Last week at the Bible study, one of the women at my table said something during our discussion that really stuck with me. She said “You might be a light for somebody out there without even knowing it.”

And suddenly I remembered one of the most important reasons why I write, why I have this blog, why I share posts on social media & why I try to be positive in my every day life. And that is to help someone else feel less alone than I once felt.

Be the light

Sometimes I let my fear of judgment and misperception & my fear of failure blind me from seeing and remembering the reasons why I am on this mission to be a chronic illness advocate.

A couple of years ago, I started this blog & my Instagram account as a way for me to cope with the chronic pain I was dealing with. It was way worse than it had ever been and I wasn’t dealing with it in a healthy (I know it’s ironic for me to use the word healthy here) way. So I started writing out how I was feeling both physically and mentally.

But I quickly saw that my words and experiences were reaching people. I had people commenting & messaging me talking about their chronic illness and pain. The light bulb went off and I realized how naive I had been.

Of course I wasn’t the only one dealing with this kind of pain.

While the people messaging me didn’t always have the same diagnosis as me, we all could relate to the lifestyle limitations, the frustrations & the struggles all the same.

My point here is: SHARE YOUR STORY.

By sharing my story, I have been able to connect with people who I have not only been able to help, but who have helped me just as much if not more than I have helped them.

You never know who out there you may be encouraging, inspiring & comforting.

You are somebody’s light.💛

The 2017 List of Top 10 Allergy Friendly Restaurant Chains is Now Out!

The 2017 List of Top 10 Allergy Friendly Restaurant Chains is now out, people! GO CHECK IT OUT!

Having been diagnosed with an anaphylactic food allergy only a couple of years ago, I still live with the dreaded anxiety that tags along when I eat out at restaurants. It’s an anxiety that is hard to explain to people without food allergies, because they’ve (fortunately and thankfully) never experienced the terrifying feeling of having their throat start to close or having their body become covered in hives.

Once you’ve experienced those awful symptoms, it’s understandable to be worried and anxious when eating out at restaurants–especially because one of my anaphylactic reactions happened at a restaurant due to a wait staff member in their words “not taking my allergy seriously.” FOR REAL?

Since then, I’ve been extremely careful when eating at restaurants, because it’s up to the wait staff to take our allergies seriously (even though we shouldn’t have to tell people to do that, *eye rolls for days*.) Once we place our order and inform them of our allergy, we have to trust them to then efficiently communicate to the chef and then we have to trust the chef to execute accordingly.

Restaurants that pride themselves on and who prove themselves to be allergy-friendly have so much of my gratitude and respect. A restaurant should want to make sure that all of their customers are happy, comfortable and satisfied.

The restaurants on this list prove themselves to be allergy aware and friendly, which in return proves themselves to me to be outstanding places of business!

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source: https://www.allergyeats.com/2017-list-of-top-10-allergy-friendly-restaurant-chains/

So next time your friends want to go out to dinner, maybe suggest one of the restaurants on this list. You’ll eat delicious food with good company, and you can worry a little bit less 🙂

*My personal favorites on the list are Chipotle (because it’s an allergy friendly chain that offers fast food pickup) and Not Your Average Joes (because their staff is outstanding and so is their food–seriously, try their bread!)

 

This is not a sponsored post, just one blogger’s opinion 🙂

HAWMC Day 8: Little Engine Post

  1. I think I can find a combination of treatments that help drastically reduce my chronic headaches
  2. I think I can find an exercise routine that doesn’t drastically increase my exertional headaches
  3. I think I can eventually monetize off of my blog
  4. I think I can increase traffic to my blog each month that I continue to work on it
  5. I think I can bring together people who have similar health issues or similar battles and give them a positive, supportive place to turn
  6. I think I can lose those extra few pounds by turning my diet around and really eating well for my body
  7. I think I can increase my income through outside, freelance and side jobs, in order to help feel more comfortable with my finances
  8. I think I can motivate others to share their stories, as I am sharing mine
  9. I think I can improve my handlettering/handwriting skills
  10. I think I can eventually use Etsy to sell products with my handlettering/handwriting on them

  1. I know I can make a positive difference in the health activist community and grow as a health activist, myself.
  2. I know I can make a big ripple, even though I’m one single stone being thrown into the pond
  3. I know I can gather and maintain the strength, both physical and mental, to keep fighting my everyday pain with chronic daily headaches and migraines
  4. I know I can continue to grow The Headache Heroine into what I what it do be long term
  5. I know I can make a difference

HAWMC Day 7: Starting My Advocacy Journey

We all need people in our lives who push us to do and be greater. Sometimes it’s hard to accept advice that someone has to offer, but most of the time, it’s worth it to hear them out.

I never even thought about sharing my story about living with chronic daily headaches, because I never thought anyone would really need or want to hear and read about it. The thought never crossed my mind.

That was until one day, during a pretty dark and frustrating period of my life when I was experiencing 6+/10 head pain every single day for a long string of time. I was living with my older sister at the time, so she knew and could see that I was living in constant pain and that I was having a difficult time dealing with it. One day she suggested an idea that turned out to be my motivation behind creating The Headache Heroine. She said “Why don’t you write about all of this?” She suggested I use it as a coping mechanism, since I already had a love for writing. Why not take my love for writing and do something positive with it? She helped me realize that it could be therapeutic for me, which turned about to be very true.

At first, I was worried that sharing my story would just make me sound like I was throwing myself a pity party and was inviting people to bring gifts of sympathy. But that’s not what I was going for and that’s not the kind of vibe I wanted to throw out into the world.

What actually ended up happening, was that I got an outpouring of encouragement and praise for being “brave” for being vulnerable enough to start opening up about my health and really putting it all out there. I had been hesitant to share my blog posts on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, because I didn’t want to bug people and add things to their newsfeed that they didn’t want to look at/read. But then I realized, that if people wanted to skip over what I shared, they would, and if people wanted to read what I wrote, then they would. I eventually created a separate Instagram account for my health journey, but I still tried to tell myself not to worry about what others thought.

After a few months of being worried that people would judge or roll their eyes at the stories I was posting and sharing, I slowly grew much more comfortable with sharing my story. I realized that I was actually reaching people who really appreciated and benefited from my words. I became less concerned with those people who didn’t care about my story, and focused all my attention on the people who did care and who actually benefited from hearing my story and my advice.

While advocating and getting my voice out there actually helps me cope and feel more positive about myself and my life with chronic daily headaches, I also know that I have helped other people who are facing similar health journeys. That fact alone keeps me writing and sharing, and it should help encourage you to do the same!

#HAWMC Day 4:Wishing For A Concrete Diagnosis.

This isn’t the answer you were hoping for or expecting. Well, the lack of answer, actually. You were hoping to hear a clear cut diagnosis so that you could then begin whatever treatment was available. But it’s not that simple. It won’t be that simple. Instead words like “new daily persistent headache,” “chronic daily headache,” and “chronic migraine” will be thrown at you. They’re all very similar but very different.

It’s going to be hard to find treatments that work for you. Your life will become to feel like a science experiment. But trust me, you need to keep on going. Give different treatments a chance so you can figure out what really will not work for you and your body and you can also discover things that can help you, even if it helps just a little bit.

It’s going to be an up and down roller coaster. You won’t be able to predict or control when the curves are coming or how shaky it’s going to get. What you can do, though, is control, is how you react to those curves and shakes.

Stay strong. Stay resilient. Your mental strength will waiver, your physical strength will at times feel imaginary, but you have the highest pain tolerance of anyone I know.

Even though you won’t be getting a concrete diagnosis, just remember, that you are taking steps forward in this journey of ours.

Health Activist Writers Month Challenge: Day 1-Why I Write

I didn’t plan on sharing my story with the the world. Not until I was encouraged to do so by a loved one who saw me struggle with my health and the consequences of my health problems every day. Before I started writing, I never really believed that there were other people out there who lived with chronic daily headaches like I do. I had never met or talked to anyone who lived with anything close to what I live with. I live with chronic daily headaches and migraines. For me, this means that I have a headache 24/7. It sounds like an exaggeration, but I promise you that it’s not. I have some type of headache all of the time. While the intensity varies and changes frequently and without warning, the frequency is the same: it’s always there. It has made me change my way of living, from an active young adult always looking for adventure, to a wishful young adult who lives a rather stagnant lifestyle yearning for more adventure and more answers.

I started writing because I needed a coping mechanism. I had to find some way to release all of the frustration that had been building up over time, weighing me down. It has helped me more than I ever expected. When I find myself feeling very low, I turn to my writing. It helps pull me out of the darkness. As I found myself climbing out of the darkness, I realized that maybe I could help pull others out their darkness as well. I realized that while I was helping myself cope through my writing, I could also help others like me who really needed a hand to help them up.

I write to help people feel supported. To help them feel less alone. To help them remember how strong and brave they are.

brave

I Was Supposed To Be Healthy, Instead I Have A Chronic Illness

I was supposed to spend my college years carelessly moving on excitement, dreams and adrenaline…Instead I spent my college years dancing wildly and living an excited life only when my headaches allowed me to.

I was supposed to put my money towards seeing the world, paying off debt and buying every day necessities like a vacuum…Instead I’ve seen my money be handed to doctor after doctor and burying myself in even bigger debt due to all of the medical bills I have yet to pay off.

I was supposed to be a physically active young adult with living in the years where I would see my healthiest, most fit body…Instead I can’t exercise because of my throbbing head and instead see a body filled with insecurities and unrealistic expectations.

I was supposed to be partying while I’m young, out with my friends every weekend letting loose after a hard week at work…Instead, I still work hard every week but often find myself with heavy cases of FOMO laying on my couch looking at Snapchats of my friends out on a Friday night.

I was supposed to have a world of options and opportunities at my hand…Instead, I am limited to that which I am able to do without exhausting myself and putting myself in more pain than is already present.

I was supposed to live a life where I only got headaches due to hormones, stress, exhaustion, hunger or recovering from a night of partying…Instead I have a headache just sitting here typing this out, and when I do literally anything else.

However, the funny thing about the whole “I was supposed to thing,” is that none of us know what lies ahead. Life changes direction without warning all of the time. What we may one day have thought we were supposed to do or be, may be completely different than we think we are supposed to do or be the next day.

 

What’s the Word? “Vatic” 🔮

Wednesday words ⚡️(Adj.) Vatic

I’m 
Maybe I can’t speak for everyone with chronic illnesses, but I know that I find myself trying to predict my “inevitable” future all of the time. I say things like “well I know my head will be really bad this weekend” or “I’m sure I’ll be feeling crappy still” etc. everyone always says “don’t think that way.” It’s a lot easier said than done for someone who has seen the same headache patterns continue for years now. 

But even though I don’t always do it successfully, I do try my best to not think so negatively and I try not to predict how I’ll be feeling in the future 🔮

This Is What Invisible Illness Looks Like

As invisible illness awareness week wrapped up yesterday, I think it’s important for people to see who we are advocating for. The real faces of the people who aren’t invisible even though their illnesses are.


I’m what someone with an invisible illness looks like. There’s nothing visible that shouts for attention, yet for me there’s a constant invisible pain inside my head. I have become a master of disguise, hiding my rollercoaster of symptoms behind blue eyes & soft, sometimes strategic, smiles. 

Whatever illness you are facing, I hope I can remind you that you are not alone. There’s always somewhere you can turn and someone you can talk to when you feel like you’re losing your fight. 💓

But for my invisible illness soldiers, remind yourself every day that just because your illness is invisible, it does not mean that you are. We have a tendency to put on a front for others when we don’t feel well, but we don’t have to do that all of the time. It’s ok to frown instead of smile sometimes. It’s ok to cry when you’re hurting instead of putting on your suit of armor to protect yourself. 

You are not alone nor invisible. Keep your head up and your heart strong 💛

Be Kind, For Everyone Is Fighting A Battle Of Their Own 

When you’re walking down the street and breeze by the people moving past you, how often do you glance up at the faces that are blurring by? How often do you take the chance to look a stranger in the eyes and really try to read their story? There’s a story behind every face you see, each one unique and different than the story walking beside them.

Stories are more often than not, unpredictable. We don’t know who the characters are until we get to know them. We don’t know when the plot twists will turn up. We can’t know in advance if or when an antagonist will make an appearance, short lived or prolonged. There’s no telling when the happy ending will wrap everything up and tuck us snugly into bed.

Every person you come across has something they’re not sharing, some battle they’re facing, some story they’re a part of that we as outsiders, have no insight on. You see, life isn’t fair. It throws us curveballs we swing and miss at, it throws us off our paths, it presents the unexpected and its hardships discriminate against no one. 

As someone with a story of your own, the human and compassionate thing to do, is to be kind to every person you meet because you have no idea what phase of their story that they’re in.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I’m battling daily chronic headaches, narcolepsy and chronic pain that has yet to be diagnosed. There is a constant pounding within my skull that strangers I see would have zero reason to expect me to be feeling. With my chronic migraine headaches along with my other medical mysteries comes anxiety issues, emotional lows creating a hermit like version of myself, unnecessary guilt, frequent frustration and so much more that I choose to hide either behind a smile or under my covers.

Even though I surround myself with people who are loving, kind, compassionate, generous, supportive and reliable, it’s just a fact of life that I will stumble upon people every once in a while who are less than kind to me. I’m only human and can’t help but make a sour face when sour words or thoughts are tossed my way. But I always turn back and tell myself that it’s the right thing to do to give that person the benefit of the doubt. They don’t know me. They don’t know my battles, my fights and my journey. They haven’t been given the book to start reading my story.Just like I don’t know their battle and their journey. Perhaps they are facing an uphill battle and are having a bad day filled with frustrations. So even if they may not have thrown the kindness my way, it’s all I can do to throw it back their way.

We’ll never understand what someone may be going through unless they open up to us about it. I promise you though, that any and everyone you meet is facing a battle that you know nothing about. All you can do, is be kind and show them the love you know that they need to keep fighting whatever battle that they’re up against.