Vulnerability and Authenticity with Chronic Illness

What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful…there’s a word for it: authentic

Vulnerability is a scary thing. We don’t want to look weak. We don’t want people to pity us or judge us. We know we can’t be perfect, but we don’t want to seem too imperfect. So often, we think our imperfections are our flaws. However, we shouldn’t confuse the two or make them interchangeable. Because our imperfections are what make us unique.

When you have a chronic illness, you experience a whole lot of vulnerability. Your parents become your at home nurses, your friends have to run errands for you because you can’t physically get out of bed, your partner sees you cry out of pain and frustration or curled up in the fetal position because any other position is too painful. These are all vulnerabilities that we can hide from the outside world, though.

It’s one thing to be vulnerable with the people who care about you and love you – it’s a totally new ballgame when you show your vulnerability to strangers!

But, spoiler alert – you are human. Every single person you pass on the street is self-conscious about something. Every single person has an imperfection (or lets be real, imperfections). But not everybody shares theirs  and because of that, someone else who may have a similar imperfection feels alone or isolated because they think they’re the only ones like them. They may end up confusing imperfections with flaws and look upon their own imperfections with a negative mindset.

I know it’s hard to share our stories and our vulnerabilities because we think whoever we’re sharing them with may judge us. As humans, we sometimes judge another person or their situation simply because we are unfamiliar with or can’t relate to them or their situation. But, that’s not fair, is it?

I can raise my hand and say that I am still working on sharing my story and my health journey with not only strangers, but sometimes friends, because I’m worried they’ll look at me funny, or think I’m strange or think I’m over exaggerating my pain & symptoms. So, most of the time, I turn to writing because it’s personal and I don’t have to show it to anyone else.

writing in DC

But recently, I’ve been trying to really open up to my own vulnerabilities and show all aspects of my journey without hesitation or reservations. And I urge you to do the same.

Share your journey with others. Give the world a window into the unique person you are. No one else shares your story, but I promise you that someone else can relate to your story. By being vulnerable and showing that vulnerability to the outside world, you could be helping someone else just like you. And, honestly, you’ll end up helping yourself most of all.

HAWMC Day 5: Favorite Platform for Getting My Voice Out

I love utilizing every one of the platforms that I use to get my voice out there. I love Instagram because I’ve found that I can reach a lot more people than through the other platforms I use. I also love Instagram because I’m able to show my hand-lettered quotes and what not. I also think that pictures are more initially captivating than just a bunch of words. It gives people a quick glance at what you’re all about.

While I love to use Instagram for building my brand, I have a different platform preference for actually getting my voice heard. That platform is blogging on WordPress. By writing on a blog, while my reach not be as wide as it is on Instagram, I am able to write in much more detail and really write in the voice I want to. I’m able to share more information–holding nothing back. I have received really great feedback from people who have visited my blog saying that what I’m writing is really resonating with them and that the way that I write is unique and beautiful. I don’t share that to sound boastful, I share it to explain why blogging is my favorite platform for getting my voice heard.

What’s yours?

social-media

Image from Skyscanner Business

#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.

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 💛

Vote For The Headache Heroine in the 5th Annual Health Activist Awards!

I’ve been nominated for three award categories for the 5th Annual WEGO Health Activist Awards this year! The categories I’ve been nominated for are below:

  • Best in Show: Instagram
  • Best in Show: Pinterest
  • Rookie of the Year

Please take a quick minute or two to vote for me on my nominee profile!

I truly appreciate all of the support and am very humbled and excited to even be thought of for these awards! It’s extremely touching and motivating to know that I’ve at least reached and helped one other person over the past year through The Headache Heroine.

Thank you in advance ❤

Monday Mantra: Stay Strong, My Soldiers. 

After 10 or so years of fighting different headache disorders while also running into a variety of other health issues, I’ve been reassured by family, friends and strangers that I’m strong. People have said (thinking out loud it always seems) how they can’t imagine how I do it.
While recently I’ve only felt weak, it’s nice to hear others see something different. 
Sometimes, I don’t know how I do it either, though. But I do, because I have no other option. There is no giving up. There is no throwing of the white flag.
So stand tall in your invisible cape. Stay strong. Keep fighting. People never will truly understand how you handle it all, but that’s because they don’t know how strong you really are. 
  

You Are NOT a Burden

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself questioning everything relating to my relationships with my friends and family. Did they see me as a weight on their shoulders? Did they think I judged them for not being able to understand my situation or for not being able to put themselves in my shoes? Did they find it too tasking to have to take care of me when my head is throbbing too hard to move from bed? But then I thought: If that’s what they think, then they probably aren’t in my life anymore. You see, those who find you to a burden, they’ve probably been out of the picture for a long time now, and you’re better off that way. Because, friend, you are anything but a burden to the people who truly care about you.

You are not a burden. You have a burden, which by definition is too heavy to carry on your own

You are not a burden.

You are a miracle, actually. God gave you the gift of life. He chose you to be here, wandering this mysteriously gorgeous Earth.

You are a friend. Make a list of the people who invite you on adventures, who have a hundred beautiful, ridiculous, embarrassing yet awesome pictures with you in them, and who you share endless pizza dinners (lunch, breakfasts, snacks, don’t lie) with. The people you make laugh when they want to cry and whose aid you go running to when they’re facing a hard time. You are a friend to so many.

You are a daughter, son, sister, brother, granddaughter, grandson, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, etc. Think back to every holiday being surrounded by the few or many special people who you know you can always run home to, no matter what. The ones who you share your best memories with and experienced your biggest arguments with. You are their family. Without you, they would be one less.

You are a gift. When you shine your light on this world and share yourself with the people in it, I promise you that you are presenting something unique that no one else is able to. You have a purpose here—a purpose designed solely for you.

You are a warrior. The physical pain you endure every day, some days worse than others, is a pain not many could endure. Every day you’re getting stronger, even when it feels like you’re weakening. You fight through the aching, throbbing, pulsing, nauseating, piercing, and everlasting horrific sensations that are indescribable to others who don’t know what it feels like to be in your body.

You are a fighter. You fight through that pain, and somehow continue to keep moving forward in your journey. You fight on, whether it’s getting through the work day without having to call out early due to a worsening symptom or it’s biting your lip to fight the pain during your hundredth unsuccessful IV insertion. You fight through the frustration, sadness, anxiety, loneliness and helplessness that come along with your physical pain. Your fortitude is immeasurable in size.

You, my dear friend, are not a burden. Your illness is a burden. It is your burden. But even being solely yours, it cannot be carried by you and you alone. Because you are a friend, family member, gift, warrior and fighter, the chances are that you have a support system to help you carry that burden. Do not be afraid to ask for help. For the ones who are meant to stick around, will ask how they can help lift that burden whenever they can. You are not a burden and you were not made to carry this burden alone.

What’s the Word? “Kindred” 🌸

  
I started this blog to help myself and others feel less alone in this life. I used to feel like I was the only one for miles and miles who was battling such chronic and numerous health issues while everyone around me was living normal lives. But I have found a community that makes me feel so supported and not alone. We all are connected even if we’re strangers. The things we share in common help us provide support to one another in order to continue to fight our daily battles. 

There’s a reason we all share our stories here and keep coming back to support each other day after day. It’s because even though we may all be strangers, we are connected through our journeys. We share the similar battles, frustrations and experiences. It’s great to find and feel connected to other people when before you felt like the only one on earth going through what you’re going through. 

Song of the Week: “Lost in My Mind” by The Head and the Heart

This is by far one of my favorite songs. I felt a strong connection to it after hearing just the first line. However, my favorite verse in this song is one of my favorite verses from all songs:

Mama once told me
You’re already home where you feel loved
I am lost in my mind
I get lost in my mind

This song kick-started my love for The Head and the Heart and all of their other amazing songs–some of which I’m sure I will share at a later time.

I listen to this song when I’m feeling overwhelmed, sad and lost. But the beautiful thing about this song, is that I also listen to it when I’m feeling content, happy and blissful. There aren’t many songs for me that can capture my heart and mind at both ends of their emotional spectrum.

This song has created for me inspiration in many areas of my life. I more literally get lost in my mind when this song comes on.

Give it a listen. It won’t disappoint.

Chef Mary Here 

I’ve picked up a cooking hobby lately, and I don’t hate it. It’s a hobby that doesn’t require exertion or much excessive movment, so I can usually do it even when I’m not feeling that great. However it does require patience (hopefully it teaches me some 😁.) It helps me think about and focus on something other than my headaches. Sometimes I need something to distract me from the never ending pain, and cooking is a great and delicious distraction, 

Today I made quinoa chicken parm & spinach artichoke dip 😋

  
Do you all have any hobbies you’ve picked up to help you focus on something other than your chronic pain? I’d love to hear about them!