Awareness · Depression · Expression · Health · Inspiration · Pain · Personal · Self Harm · Social Media · Truth · Writing

Project Semicolon Founder Dies At 31

*****For me, personally, this has been really hard to hear. And, yes, I know, we weren’t friends or even knew each other at all, but it still makes me emotional. As a teen I battled Depression, Eating Disorders, Suicidal Ideation, Self Harm and other severe things as well. I am now a 22 year old Chronic Illness Blogger who found a way to make it through the toughest years of my life with the one thing I love most in the world-My writing. If you ever need to talk, don’t hesitate to call/text/message me anytime whatsoever. If you need someone, I am here.*****

Amy Bleuel, founder of Project Semicolon, died on March 24 at the age of 31.

A death notice from Pfotenhauer Funeral Homes & Cremation Services in her hometown of Green Bay, Wisconsin, says Bleuel is “at peace in Heaven with her father.”

The cause of her death has not been reported.

Bleuel started Project Semicolon — a movement to help those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide — in 2013 after her father committed suicide. Many supporters and followers of the organization have inked themselves with the semicolon symbol in solidarity. Bleuel herself had semicolon tattoos on her left arm (for her dad), the back of her right leg (for her best friend) and one on her left arm (for herself).

“The semicolon was chosen because in literature a semicolon is used when an author chooses to not end a sentence,” Bleuel told PEOPLE in July 2015. “You are the author and the sentence is your life. You are choosing to continue.”

Hundreds of people inspired by Bleuel’s work on behalf of mental health advocacy have taken to social media to express their condolences.

 

 

 

 

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention released a statement expressing sympathies: “With her prolific semi-colon campaign, she brought real awareness to an issue that is often misunderstood and can be complex in nature. Amy’s life was a testament that one person truly can make a difference. She had a powerful voice that gave others the confidence to speak openly about mental health.”

A service for Bleuel will be held at Pfotenhauer Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Green Bay, Wisconsin, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Saturday, April 1, 2017.

If you or someone you know needs support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. For more information on Project Semicolon, visit projectsemicolon.com

A Day In The Life With Chronic Pain · Awareness · Chronic Illness · Chronic Pain · Expression · Health · Inspiration · Invisible Illness · Personal · Truth · Writing

You Are NOT The Enemy!

Julie, from Chronic Illness Bloggers, shared this in one of our weekly emails, which I LOVE seeing every week 🙂 And I just had to share it

guest post by Kerry @ Chronically Zen

When I was first diagnosed, the battle lines were clear: it was me against Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease had wrecked my health and my plans for the future. It was not going to win.

But over time, something else also became clear. My Crohn’s disease, my health problems made things hard on other people. The first few years, my brother was my caregiver. He took me to the hospital, helped me recover from surgeries, and listened to me when I was terrified of what my future would be. All the time, he was covering up his own battle with OCD, which I didn’t learn about until years later.

My illness also inconvenienced my friends and my co-workers. I could mostly be relied upon, but they never knew when my Crohn’s (or an extraintestinal complication or drug side effect or infection) would sideline me. Plans had to be cancelled; project deadlines slipped. People had to do more to make up for what I couldn’t do.

So the battle lines blurred. Instead of being mad at Crohn’s disease, I was mad at myself. I was unreliable. I was letting people down. I was making life harder on my loved ones.

Sound familiar? So often, those of us with chronic illness forget who the enemy is. The enemy is our illness. We, unfortunately, are the warriors and the battleground.

When you slip and begin to beat yourself up, remember:

You are doing the best you can. Even if you follow every instruction from the doctor and take every treatment, you will still have bad days. Do your best on the good days, and give yourself a break on the bad.

The people who love you know this. Your loved ones want what is best for you. They want you to take care of yourself, and, if you can’t do that, they want to help.

You are not responsible for how other people feel. Are your friends disappointed when you have to cancel plans? Sure. Is your spouse stressed out because you have to quit your job? Absolutely. But this isn’t your fault. It’s the fault of the illness. (I struggle with this myself.)

That’s all that matters. Whispering co-workers? Staring strangers in the store? Even family members who are not compassionate and blame you for your illness? They don’t matter. You, the people who truly love and care for you, your medical team: this is who matters. Don’t let anyone else make you feel bad for what you cannot control.

Your health is a battle, every day, and the war is a long, hard slog. Don’t forget who the enemy is. And don’t forget the ultimate objective: a full life despite it all.

image of shoes with quote: "As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed." Vincent Van Gogh

Kerry @ Chronically Zen
http://chronicallyzen.net
Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease over 20 years ago, Kerry has been through all the ups and downs of chronic illness. She lives in the South with her awesome hubby and her escape-artist puppy. She adores the Avett Brothers, coloring, and cooking competition shows. Currently, her favorite word is sanguine.

Depression · Expression · Health · Personal · Truth · Writing

Support Needed…Please

I am very embarrassed to be publicly posting this for everyone to see, but I could really use some support. There are things in my life that I have spent years trying to deal with, and each time I think I finally moved on and dealt with it, something happens and it all comes rushing back and tilts my world all over again. I know I am not explaining myself well, and I apologize for that, but as much as I would love to explain it all in detail, I am not comfortable doing that. All I can say is that I could really use some distractions, some silly pictures or comments. I am the only one who can deal with this, but I would love to feel like I am not alone.

30 Day Challenge · Expression · Inspiration · My Feelings · Personal · Random · Truth · Writing

30 Day Challenge: Day 27

Day 27: A letter to someone, anyone

Dear Society (It said anyone and lately I have started to think of Society as a person, don’t laugh, I know how weird that sounds!)

I can’t hold it anymore, I just have to tell you something. You suck. The labels, rules, black and white thinking. I could go on forever listing things that I hate about you. You are a very irritating person who endlessly judges every single person you see. They don’t wear the best clothes, some have glasses, others are childish. Some love religion, others have no religion. Some people struggle with Depression and take pills. I can hear your voice now ‘Pills mean there is something seriously wrong with you’. Some love wearing bright, neon colors just for fun! In your eyes, no one will ever measure up to what you think they should be. Your rules, the ‘right fashion’, ‘the perfect person’ will forever change and those who do not measure up will always be ‘different and weird’

There will always be someone to judge, to laugh at. But you know nothing about their lives, why they do the things they do, what they have gone through to end up the way they are. You don’t care about any of that. All that matters is that there will always be someone who will not be the way you think they should be.

So, Society, I hate you. I am one of those people who LOVES bright neon colors, wears glasses, acts childish, loves Minions, and could care less about ‘the perfect fashion/person’. I will forever be the ‘weird and different’ person you laugh at each opportunity you get.

Through all the changes, I will be the one who is happy just the way she is. Go ahead and judge me. I am stronger than you. I know that I can be happy being myself. I refuse to be someone that ‘fits in’ it’s a part of my charm. I refuse to do things just because it could make me look or act better. I won’t change who I am just to avoid the judgements.

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30 Day Challenge · Pet Peeves · Random · Truth · Writing

30 Day Challenge: Day 4

Day 4: Name your top 5 pet peeves

There are so many things that annoy me in my “normal” life as well as my chronically ill life that I have decided to list my top 5 pet peeves in both categories of my life.

“Normal life” pet peeves

  1. By far the biggest pet peeve I have is being woken up even just a few minutes before my alarm is set to go off. Sleep matters!
  2. Having my books not being in order from tallest to shortest in size
  3. When I start telling someone something and have to end up repeating it because they were not listening.
  4. When people leave the shopping carts right by their car when they leave instead of walking two feet to the shopping cart corral
  5. The rare times that people ask me for my advice and actually want to know what I think only to turn around and not do what I suggested because they didn’t like my advice

“Chronically Ill” Pet peeves

  1. When people say things like “I hope you feel better.” knowing full well that my disease is chronic and I will therefore have it for the rest of my life. There is no “Feeling better”
  2. People who google my diseases and think they know more about it than I do so they send me pages and pages of “Instant cures” or heard about a new “miracle drug” on Dr Oz and then get upset when I don’t do everything they found online.
  3. When people tell me that my illness cannot be that bad because I look fine on the outside and I am wearing makeup!
  4. “Things could be so much worse” response to my life. Yes, I know things could be worse for me but hearing about someone who has it worse or how I need to just suck it up does not help at all!!!
  5. When I have been sick for such a long time that people start to assume that I am feeling like crap 24/7 and stop asking me to hang out. Yes, most of the time I do feel like crap and so I do not  go places that often or hang out with friends as much as I used to, but it is still nice to be asked and feel like they still care.

What are your 5 biggest pet peeves? Comment below!

Awareness · Chronic Illness · Chronic Pain · Endometriosis · Expression · Health · Inspiration · Interstitial Cystitis · Invisible Illness · My Feelings · Pain · Personal · Truth · Writing

The Words We Use

I have been thinking about this for weeks and I need to get it out there. It may not make much sense in some parts, but please bear with me as I write this. This was not easy for me. But I feel like all this needed to be said, despite the judgements I may get from someone reading this. These words are just my opinions, my thoughts, and I apologize in advance if I have offended someone or crossed a line somewhere while writing this. Please let me know what you think, either in the comments or on any of my Social Media Sites

Since being diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis, Endometriosis and Pelvic Floor along with Depression and Anxiety, I feel like most people have stopped seeing me. They seem to only see the disabled girl with Chronic pain and diseases that have no cure.

When I am introduced to someone new the words and phrases people use to describe me makes me feel small. They make me feel like I am not doing enough to “make myself better.” When they talk about me, they only seem to see the endless stream of tests, doctors, surgeries. They have stopped seeing me and now see me as “The girl with Chronic Pain.”And it makes me feel like I need to push myself harder when in reality I already push myself beyond my limit every single day just to try and have a sliver of the life I once had.

My illnesses are not usually fatal and sadly I’ve come to realize that if you are not in danger of actually dying then people don’t feel the need to help you or use their own energy and resources to help you. This may sound harsh, but I am finding it to be more and more true. When most people hear that someone has a “Chronic Illness” they know that it is most likely going to “drag on” forever so there is no reason to try and help you if you are going to live with your disease forever if there is no cure.

People with chronic illness face a lifetime of pain, exhaustion, and disability. A lifetime of people telling them to get over it, of people telling them they they are too depressing to be around, a lifetime of failing to meet everyone’s expectations,  but that is not enough to attract anyone’s attention. Nobody would ever tell a cancer patient to just get over it and stop dwelling on their illness, but people with chronic illness hear this practically every day and that is ridiculous. It is also very hurtful to hear and some of us hear it over and over from our family and friends who cannot understand how we can be fine one minute and then the next we are curled up on the floor or the couch in pain.

I know for s0me of the best people I have ever met, those who have struggled with not having a diagnosis for years, finally having a name for their symptoms and illnesses is incredibly validating.

Once you finally have a name to what is wrong with you, it makes it much easier to treat it, or at least manage your symptoms and pain. But along with the names of your illnesses and symptoms also comes judgements; at least it does in my life. Some people research your illness and learn at least a little about it so they can help you deal with the emotional part of it and be there for you but then there are those who search google and find places that, for a one time payment can “cure” your disease, or this new medicine that is on the market that has amazing reviews online for being natural or articles by people that have “cured themselves completely using ____” or how thinking positive and talking about your feelings you can convince your body that you don’t have an illness and can therefor “cure” yourself. But then they get upset when you don’t read all the “research” they did or do everything they think you should be doing because the internet says it will help you.

I have only had my illnesses for a little over four years, but in that time I have come across so many others in support groups and illness forums that sometimes say they wish they could have a disease like cancer because people with cancer get support from family, friends, even sometimes people they just met. People seem to care more about cancer and they don’t care much if at all about chronic illness because it will go on forever. It’s Chronic. Most Chronic Illnesses have no cures, only treatments so some people will just assume it will be the same thing every day so why bother helping if it is going to be a never ending process?

For me there are not any words on the planet that adequately explain how difficult it is to be disabled by an illness that no one believes is real. For people to not understand how you can look fine on the outside and be smiling but be hurting on the inside. For people to understand how you can do a certain amount of things one day then the next have no energy to do anything, sometimes even getting out of bed is a challenge. For people who can’t understand how you can be fine one minute then the next you are in severe pain. Not to mention the insurance companies will pay for cancer treatment, they won’t pay for most chronic illness treatments or medications. Most of us have to come up with the money out of our own pocket to pay for a medication that may help a tiny bit or not at all.

We are people first. We are still human beings who have feelings and hate that some people have stopped seeing us as a person, but now see us as our illness or our symptoms. It is very hurtful for many of us. We just want some understanding. Some support to know we are not alone. I know my expectations of family and friends can just be silly, but is it really too much to ask for some support even if they don’t believe that I am sick? I could really use some support as I am going through this hard part in my life. I wouldn’t wish my life on anyone, and I do everything I can to be supportive of family and friends even if I don’t agree with their lifestyles or choices. Is it so hard to expect them to extend the same courtesy to me?

The words people use to describe others are important. Based on descriptions and words from other people, when you meet someone new you usually have already formed an opinion based on what others have told you about them. For those of us with Chronic Illnesses, most people automatically come to the conclusion that we are different, that we will never be like them because we have a different life then they do. Most people assume that we will never want to hang out because we hurt all the time. So they stop asking us to go out places. Stop calling. Because in their mind we are disabled, therefore we spend all our time sleeping or trying to feel better. They have already made up their minds about us based on one word. Disabled.

They fail to see how hard we try to still have even a tiny fraction of the life we had before our diagnosis and symptoms started coming around uninvited.When they hear the word disabled most people assume that we sleep all day, don’t get anything done, never go anywhere. They never bother to ask us what our days are like, because what they know about disabilities is what the internet has made us seem like to the outside world. Lazy. Selfish. Attention seeking. Pain pill addicts.

It never occurs to them that if they bothered to even look up our illnesses that we can still do a lot, just not all at once.  Hearing the word disabled used to describe someone, most people immediately think of someone in a wheelchair or someone with severe limitations in their movement and their lives. When they see someone like us who looks fine on the outside but still ‘claims’ to be disabled, they get this look on their face like we are horrible people because we are ‘lying’ about our illness. They don’t understand how can we be sick if we look fine on the outside. Society has made us ‘disabled people’ seem like we are just wanting money and free medical care and pain medications from the government. And its rare that someone actually tries to form their own opinion of us instead of believing the internet or the opinions of others that claim they know more about our diseases than they do. They believe the internet or other people because it is easier than getting to know us and trying to form their own opinions of us. It is easier to just believe what they are told rather than having to spend time with us when they ‘have better things to do’

We fight every day just to get out of bed while they take the little things for granted. Most people think that because life is the way it is for them that it will always stay that way. They never think of what would happen if all the things they were used to suddenly weren’t around anymore. They are used to going places all the time, feeling healthy, being able to go on long road trips, go to the bars, have a ‘normal life’ Have a relationship. Not have to worry about each and every minute of every day and how it will affect you and your ability to do even the simple things that they do without even thinking of it as a challenge. For them, that is just the way it is for them. They never think life would be any different.

What would they do if one day they woke up and they were suddenly sick with a chronic illness and their whole lives were about to change forever? What would they think if one day they suddenly could no longer go places without planning for every minute of it. Of taking many medications. Of feeling exhausted 24/7. Of needing a wheelchair. Of needing support to walk up a flight of stairs. Of not being able to do even the simplest of things they used to do before they got sick?

They judge us each and every day. With their words. The looks. The whispers and the giggles as we struggle to walk upright or walk funny due to our pain. If they woke up one day and their whole life had changed, would they finally see that we are people too? We are not just The Disabled People.

We have feelings. We matter too. Just because we are different it should not make us ‘outcasts’ in the eyes of someone ‘normal’

We fight every single day just to get out of bed and put on a brave face. We do the best we can with what we have. There are people in my life that do not think of the hurtfulness of the words they use to describe me. I am not just the disabled girl they know. I am a person first. My illness is not who I am. It is a part of me, but it does not mean that I have to let it control me.

My name is Karley and I suffer from Chronic Illnesses. I am a person first and foremost. I am not the disabled girl. I have a name and I am more than my symptoms and illnesses. I refuse to let my illness control my life and how people see me. If they cannot see past the disabled parts of me, they have to right to be in my life anymore. I am a person. I have feelings. My illness is not who I am. I am stronger than my disabilities. I am doing the very best that I can with what I’ve got.

Instead of seeing me as disabled or having chronic illnesses that have no cure, try using my name instead. I am a human being. I have a name. or have you spent all of your time being so focused on the labels that surround me and my life that you don’t even know my name?

 

Awareness · Chronic Illness · Expression · Truth · Writing

5 Reasons I Started Blogging About Chronic Illness

I have spent almost four years blogging about my Chronic Illnesses. At first I just blogged about anything and everything but the day I got my diagnosis, I decided to start blogging about things that actually had depth and meaning to me.

I still blog about anything and everything but there is one difference. Now when I do write about anything and everything, it has a lesson, a meaning, a story.

I would like to think that even if I had not gotten sick I would have started blogging anyway, but the truth is, I am not sure.

There are many reasons that I started writing about my chronic illnesses but I thought I should shorten the list so here are my top 5 reasons that I started blogging.

Reason #1: To Connect with Others

When you get diagnosed or even start having symptoms, life changes no matter how hard you try to make it stay the same. For me, my life changed so much that I lost who I was for a while.

Reason #2: To Share the Illness Experience

When I first got my diagnosis, I thought going to a support group would help me but I looked around and couldn’t find one. That was when I realized that I didn’t have to have a in person support group to get support. I found the best support groups on Facebook. I have some of the best friends I have ever had due to these groups.

Since becoming diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis, Endometriosis, Depression, and Pelvic Floor, I’ve learned how to ask for support and, in return, give support to others.

Reason #3: To Give to My Hubby and In Real Life Friends Some Downtime

There is only so much that my husband and real friends can take of me and my illnesses. They need a break too.

Reason #4: To Deal With What I Feel

I have always been a writer, but blogging has helped me so much emotionally. I have been able to finally start dealing with what I feel. I am still dealing with it and honestly, I may never fully be able to deal with everything that has been happening to me. But it is a start.

Reason #5 To Help Others

You are not alone. Even if we do not share the same illnesses, we understand each other on a level that most healthy people do not.

I know that it is silly but I would like my work to help those who are having a bad day. They pull up my blog, read my posts and for five minutes, everything is okay.