Tag Archives: stress


I make no bones about it: My mind can be an awfully scary place sometimes. Sometimes, it feels like I am trapped in the forest. My intentions when I enter the forest are always good: I enter it looking for the peace, the calm and the refuge from the noise, hustle and bustle of the outside world. I start walking along the trails, I hear the birdsong overhead and the babbling of the creeks and streams, the trees are all lush and green and beautiful, the sun is bright and warm, and all cares are tossed to the wayside. This trip into the woods is delineated as my thoughts, cares and love for my friends and those around me.

But inevitably, invariably and ultimately, time gets away from me. The dark of night slips up on me, and I find myself without a tent, flashlight, food, blade or any way of communication, to say nothing of my lacking a lighter for a fire. And the howling is distant but growing closer. The yellow dots of light in the far woods begin to draw closer. The wolves are on their way, looking to claim their most fool-hearty victim once again: Me. But these wolves aren’t just any pack of them: They are my fears, anxieties and worries coming back to ravage me one more time.

This week, I found myself once again being held torn apart by my over-revving, overthinking mind. Silence from friends on Facebook when I checked in. People near and dear to me snapping or giving me cold, hard responses when I spoke to them. Overthinking how my friends were reacting to events going on in their lives. Feelings of not being where I think I should be in life. Fearing I had overstepped my boundaries and overstayed my welcome in my friend’s lives. Fearing about over communicating and being a pest to my friends. Worries about other friends and when I will be able to see them, if I can. Worries about moving and money. Losing sleep. Not eating right or hydrating properly. This week, I was lost in the woods. The wolves in my mind were showing their teeth, growling, ready to pounce on the ill-starred and helpless wanderer that had entered their forbidden territory.

Several nights this week, I found myself pinned to my bed with cold sweat rolling from my brow and my stomach turning flips over scenarios, real and imagined. And I couldn’t reach out. Most everyone I could turn to was sound asleep. By day, I could fend off the wolves fairly effectively, but by nightfall, I was tired and beat, and they pounced, each taking turns biting and ripping chunks of me away to keep as their spoils.

Once again, I let my mind get the upper hand on me, and I was a battered and bleeding pile of bones once again, emaciated by the lostness of I in the forest of my mind, and decimated by the voracious lobos that my thoughts, fears, anxieties, etc had manifested themselves as. I had to once again use what few morsels of strength I had remaining to drag myself out of the woods somehow and either crawl back to my safe place, or try to flag down someone and have them bring me back, despite the silence I had endured.

One would think surrender would be the only option, to just lay down and give in and let my mind have its way with me. There has been times in the not so distant past that surrender sounded like a very tempting and viable option. How much more of me could the wolves take before there was absolutely nothing remaining of me? How much more of my blood had to spill before I realized enough was enough? How many more times would I have to stitch and salve my wounds and go back into that forest to search for the light?

But then I re-realized a very important thing, something that, in my fight for survival, I had let get away from me:

Strength in numbers.


I do not have to keep letting the darkness and the wolves catch me unsuspecting. I have near and dear friends. I had only focused on their silences this week without any context behind them; I had in my scared and myopic state hyperfocused on the silence, when I know that these people would drop everything to help me, if I need it. If I do not have the tools and resources of my own, I can call on them and they can lend them, or better still, I can take these friends with me into the woods. I can take comfort in knowing they have the tools to pitch a tent, build a fire, cook a meal and keep those ugly, leering wolves at bay for the night. I do not have to go into the woods alone. I know that, if my fears and worries and anxieties were founded about them, they would reach out and let me know and would give me options to help them. I know these people have my back. I have strength in numbers. And I don’t have to fight alone. It’s taken me 26 years to realize this, but strength in numbers is something that overcome most anything.

I hope this blog finds you well, and in the comments, tell about some of the people who helps you fight off those wolves when they appear in your own mind!

As always, take care, much love and may God richly bless,



I challenged myself during the Mental Health Campaign to being more honest about my health journey. I’m holding myself to this commitment.

I love the holidays. It’s the perfect time to share smiles and lift others when life is weighing heavy on them. A chance to end the year with love & hope. I’m that person who decorates right after Thanksgiving. I send out hundreds of Christmas cards. I make dozens of random personal gifts for those who make my life better, in ways they may not even comprehend. I hide gifts around town & make baskets for the fire department, town hall, post office & animal shelter, to lift our communities spirit & say thank you. I pay attention all year & try to make or purchase gifts I know people want or need. But this year is kicking my ass & although I managed to get a few things done, it’s taking all I have. Every day I get slower & struggle more to get simple things completed. Christmas will look much different this year.

It’s the little victories that make me smile.

I’ve been going through it with my Scleroderma for the last few months. It’s raging again & it’s been difficult emotionally & physically. I’m undergoing treatments that come with side effects that amplify all of the negatives that come with a chronic illness. My jaw is destabilizing again and my teeth will take a lot of work to save. I’m losing my hair from the treatments & will soon have to just shave it off. The worst is knowing my brain fog has made me forgetful & I know I’ve let people down. It’s been damn hard. It wouldn’t be half as bad if my husband wasn’t battling health issues this year, as well. His doctors don’t want him working. They tell us he’s risking major damage to his body, and that one wrong move could be catastrophic. So we are sitting in a holding pattern financially. We sit at the mercy of his doctors deciding what surgery is next. He’s doing what he can to work, despite the warnings. Bills don’t care if you’re unhealthy.

Not everyone can afford to be sick.
That is just reality in America.

It’s one thing to be chronically ill & another thing to add in financial struggles. It’s astronomical the cost of survival. I’ve said it again & again, it does not matter how much you make, save or plan, we are all one illness away from financial disaster. On top of it all, this is one of the worst years for everyone financially. Heating, electricity, food, fuel, everything is more expensive right now & increasing regularly. Despite the negatives, we are fighting to have a great holiday & to share it with all we care about. Then it hit our house, Covid.

David tested positive first and was put on Covid meds the same day. We have to be aware and cautious of any lung or breathing issues with him. For those who don’t know he had lung cancer & a bacterial infection that resulted in the partial removal of one of his lungs. Both of his lungs have damage and it would be hard for his body to fight Covid if it settles in his lungs. I believe the meds are helping control his symptoms. He seems to be in a holding pattern, with no changes for the worse or better. He’s still battling but he’s remaining stable.

I tested positive late Friday night. Leave it to me to find out on the weekend and while there’s a major storm hitting us. I managed to get a hold of my doctor’s on-call service Saturday morning. It took hours and numerous calls back and forth between me, my PCP office, my doctor’s offices in Boston & the pharmacist. Finally, they had a plan. They called in some medications, changed the dosage on a few of my medications & held some of my regular medications. It was a whole process but I started the Covid meds Saturday night. I’m miserable. I’m trying to get up and move around as much as possible. It’s been a cycle of getting up and doing one or two small tasks & then I have to lie down again. My pain is maxed out & making it difficult to do the simplest things. I have slept more in the last few days than I have in decades. My normal nausea is increased, I’m experiencing excruciating muscle cramps & I feel like I have the worst cold, I’ve ever experienced. I’m hoping today improves with the medication. The doctors warned me that the side effects may be difficult and I may need to stop the medication.

I don’t know if Covid is ready.

Still, I carry on. Friday I did get some random gifts sent out to thank people who make me smile & I know don’t always get the appreciation they deserve. It took me all day yesterday, but I did get our tiny 4’ tree up & decorated. Today I will try and work on some gifts. It’s not looking like we will be having Christmas with our families on Christmas Eve as we planned. We realize we can not financially buy gifts right now, but we will make some amazing personalized gifts & bake some family favorites as soon as we test negative. We will not skip Christmas, just delay it if necessary to keep us all safe and strong.

I’m stubborn and refuse to change how I feel about the holidays and how I reflect on the end of another year. As usual, I will use my energy to make others smile. That will fuel my healing until I can find my smile again. So although we won’t be able to do all the things we normally do this time of year, we will still create a magical Christmas.

Today I may feel awful physically & under stress trying to figure out how we will pay for basic expenses & my treatments. But I continue to look forward to a healthier & prosperous New Year for everyone. I pray that Covid will not continue to be such a destructive force in the world. I will work hard to improve myself so I can bless others. I will continue to send smile mail & volunteer when I can. I will give freely my time & energy to those I care about & those who make me smile. Although I may be down hard right now, I choose to believe this too shall pass.

Happy holidays to all, for whatever holidays you celebrate. If you choose not to celebrate then happy end of the year! Be kind to yourself & others. In the worst of times there is always hope, love hard, & pray harder. I am so grateful for you & I love you ❤️


It’s that moment in a social situation when things get awkward. When the person you’re talking to starts squirming & fumbling for words. They are struggling to keep the conversation going. That moment when people are at a loss for words. I realize my illness, my pain, my wheelchair & dozens of other chronic illness-related issues, I live with make “them” uncomfortable. If I’m being honest, saying the wrong thing happens a lot.

These are innocent, benign comments from people with no malicious intent. Many times they think it’s funny and yet they’re completely serious. Sometimes I can shrug it off or laugh it off. Other times, my bitch switch is flipped and it’s on. I’m ready to completely obliterate someone in anger and frustration. Faster than you would think, anger turns to frustration, and frustration turns to pain. Before you know it, I’m launching headfirst into the abyss that leads me down the dark road to depression.

“You’re so lucky you don’t have to work.”

“I wish I could stay home all day, like you.”

When you want to say it, just don’t.

I hear this often. Each time my mind’s eye suddenly sees my day in what it perceives, they think I do all day. There I am on a lavish sofa, the sun gleaming through the windows, making me appear like a starlet under the glow of the spotlight. I have snacks to the left of me, a controller to my right, and I’m snug in the middle with… Netflix. My dogs are at the table playing poker with their friends. My house is a magical place where dirt evaporates and items walk themselves back to where they belong. Once in a while, I glance up from the TV long enough to see my dishes take a bath and dry themselves with my self-cleaning dishcloths. All I do is think about dinner and bam! There it is, ready to serve itself when the time is right. The washing machine collects dirty laundry and bedding, proceeds to wash, dry, put it away, and make my bed. I’m like 5 episodes into my binge-watching by now. This fantasy vision is short-lived, and my brain brings me back to reality.

What they don’t think about is the fact that you can’t work because you can’t function. Your day is consumed with effort through pain, fatigue, and brain fog. There are meds to take, scripts to fill, doctor’s appointments, organizing all of this, and dozens of other equally not-fun medically related things that need to be done. They have not had to consider the implications of being unable to work for an extended period. How do you pay for your bills and healthcare, the isolation, your lack of relevancy in the world, and a multitude of other equally reasonable questions that rattle in your brain, echoing throughout your life?

I don’t work in a regular, scheduled, leave-my-home capacity because I’m unable to. I have physical limitations. I would give anything to be healthy enough to go back to work. I’m not on vacation.

The truth is, when you’re chronically ill, you spend most days just trying to stay alive. Prioritizing what has to get done & figuring out which filth you can live with for today. Because it’s not all getting cleaned. By the time most people arrive at work, your body has already begun to retaliate, to get you to retreat to your bed.

A lesson I’ve learned the hard way is that when someone living with a debilitating chronic illness shares their time with me, I must be very important to them. I know what sacrifices were made for them to give me space in their lives. Don’t depreciate their value. Appreciate every minute they give to you.


For many, Mother’s Day comes with conflicting emotions, triggered by all of the Hallmark-esque, posts, & comments of perfect children, perfect mothers, & perfect lives.