Posted in Grief, Life, Seasonal, Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: Family

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! Since this Thankful Thursday falls on the holiday of celebrating what we’re thankful for I wanted to reflect on what I’m most thankful for, my family. From my parents, to my aunts and uncles to my cousins, I have been blessed to be surrounded by the best people.

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I could go on and on about my parents, they go above and beyond for me. They allow me to do amazing things, like travel or start my own business. They have always backed me 100%. I haven’t been the easiest child to raise, but they never give up on me. They are always there for me to rely on and I know I can count on them. Not everyone is blessed with “good” parents, some people don’t have parents, so I am beyond thankful that I have them and that they are as amazing as they are. I know how lucky that makes me.

I also have a great extended family that I know I can rely on. I grew up with six cousins on my mom’s side of the family and now I have five on my dad’s (I grew up with two but my Uncle Dan and Aunt Pam recently added three children to the family! They are wonderful!). As an only child, having this many cousins and being as close with them as I am is so important to me. I cherish the bonds I have with them and think of them as the brothers and sisters I always wanted. The rest of my family is amazing as well, I have close aunts and uncles that have always reached out to me when they knew I needed the extra support. I feel very fortunate to be blessed with such a big, supportive, sometimes crazy, family.

I also am thankful for the people who aren’t in my life anymore, but was privileged enough to love, even if they were taken too soon. Having them forever would not be long enough. My grandmother was one of the most genuine, kind and thoughtful people I have ever met. She brought sunshine with her where ever she went. She was the kind of grandmother who collected cat comics for my cousin (who loves cats) in a photo album and once it was full would mail it to her. She often brought me small things that reminded her of me, newspaper clippings, an old magazine or photo, any art supplies she happened upon. But that’s not the only thing that made her a great grandmother, it was never about the things she gave us, it was that she was there. She never missed a recital, birthday, or game. I saw her at least once a week. Not just because she lived close but because she made the effort to be a part of our lives. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world that I had Mommom as my grandmother, and that I got to have her into my twenties. Another person I carry in my heart, who is not with us anymore, is my Uncle Pat. He was diagnosed with cancer when I was in middle school and fought it for years. He never let the battle get the best of him. When I was at my lowest he reached out to me and I will never forget that kindness. I often think of him when I’m feeling low and try and draw on his strength to help me pull through whatever I’m dealing with. He was so strong and brave and I strive to make him proud.

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I am so thankful, today, and everyday, for my family.

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Posted in Depression, Grief, Life, Mental Health, Vegan, Weightloss

My Story

   My story is a long one, it spans over eight years of my still young life. It deals with loss,  disappointment, and ultimately triumph. So bear with me as I sift through the mess that has been my life for nearly a decade.

   It started out when I was 15 with headaches, but not your everyday typical headaches. I went to my local doctor and was put through every scan, procedure, and medication in the book. Nothing worked. I was poked and prodded until the doctor finally shrugged and said “I don’t know what else to do”. I walked out of that office and never went back.

  I started my 16th year with a new doctor, and new symptoms. The headaches that once plagued me had transformed into searing debilitating pain coursing through me. On my first visit with my new doctor I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain throughout the body, amongst other symptoms. I almost always was in pain and unable to gather my strength to make it to school most days. The people in my life didn’t understand, and neither did I. As the stressors in my life gradually got worse so did my symptoms.

  As my symptoms worsened into the next year, it affected my attendance so bad that my High School forced me to drop out. I had to attend online school. I rarely got out of bed, everyday activities were almost impossible. I had hit rock bottom.

   One day while watching TV I heard about a new vegan cookbook coming out. I bought it immediately and started a strict vegan diet. I lost 60 pounds in a short amount of time. My pain was alleviated and I felt amazing. I finally had something to be proud of. I returned to high school for my senior year and over the course lost an additional 30 pounds. Everything seemed perfect. I went to prom, graduated, and was heading off to college.

    All of my dreams were coming true.

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I graduate at 145 pounds.

       Unfortunately things didn’t stay that way for long. Shortly after graduating High School I decided to stop my vegan diet. My symptoms slowly became apparent again. I started college, but after one semester I had to take a break. I began to feel unmotivated and my pain came back. In 2013 when I was 20, everything got worse when I lost two family members, who I loved dearly, within a few months of each other. I started gaining weight rapidly.

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The summer of 2015, at my heaviest, 261 pounds.

 In 2015  I was tired of feeling sick all of the time, so I decided to get help. I finally found a doctor  who I was comfortable with and she recommended that I should see a psychiatrist. I was later diagnosed with Bipolar Depression. The most painful part of the process was learning I never had Fibromyalgia. For eight years I mistook the physical pains and symptoms I experienced as Fibromyalgia, I was convinced that I would live with that diagnosis for the rest of my life. But I know now that depression can cause physical side effects. Now I had to learn how  to treat this new diagnosis that I had no experience with.

   In 2016, after a year of trial and error, I finally found the right treatment that worked for me. I am able to be my true self. I am back to being vegan again. Before, I was stuck in bed, but now, I hike every morning and I’m as active as I’ve ever been. I just started and I’m down 26 pounds. I couldn’t be happier.

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Now, at 249 pounds.

    This is not a road I have walked alone, though many days and weeks and months have felt that way. I have been isolated from emotions and the physical comfort of youth, stripped of these things by depression on a long road full of twists and turns. But, always remember this: It has been so worth it to get to where I am now.

    Some days it feels like I have lost so much… people in my life, opportunities I was too incapacitated to take advantage of, a typical high school and college experience… It’s made me a minority in my age group, but I am not willing to play victim. Now it’s my time to play catch up. I’ve spent the last 8 years healing myself, now it is time to move forward and get on a new path. A road with less rocky twists and turns, but more adventure, experience and enjoyment. I am thrilled to be starting my journey to me and I hope you’ll take it with me!

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