10 Weight Loss Tips For The Chronically Ill

Obesity and weight loss can be major challenges for those of us who struggle with chronic illness. Unlike healthy people, we can’t just hit the gym harder and work off the excess pounds. So what can we do?

Below is a list of tips to consider if you are trying to manage your weight.

1- Visit your doctor.

Weight gain can sometimes be caused by an underlying medical issue. There are thousands of things that can be impacting your weight. Thyroid issues, hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance and certain nutritional deficiencies can all cause you to pack on the pounds, despite diet and exercise. If you are struggling to lose weight, talk to your healthcare provider, request lab testing and rule out any medical condition concerns.

2- Eat right.

Eating right is different for everyone. You have to decide what is best for your body, your health and your lifestyle. Two people can be on the same diet and have completely different results. Certain health conditions can inhibit your tolerance to specific diets. For example, those who have chronic kidney disease are discouraged from diets such as Adkins or the Keto diet due to the high amount of animal protein consumed. People with endocrine conditions such as diabetes or hypoglycemia are discouraged from intermittent fasting due to unstable blood glucose levels. People with mental health issues, depression and anxiety sometimes struggle with low carb diets due to the lack of serotonin. You have to figure out the diet you feel best on. The goal is to eat as naturally as possible. Avoid refined sugars, saturated fats and artificial ingredients such as aspartame, MSG, preservatives and artificial coloring.

3- Stay Active.

Obviously, not everyone is a marathon runner or power lifting champion. Those with chronic health conditions may not be able to perform extensive exercise, however it is still important to stay as active as possible. Simple exercises such as walking or swimming are low impact and beneficial to the body. Don’t think you have to torture yourself to stay active. The old saying is true, If you don’t move it- you lose it. Little things like walking up and down stairs, climbing in and out of a bathtub or bending down to pick something up are ways we move our bodies without even realizing it. If you are struggling with exercise, start with 15 minutes of low impact stretching a day. Conditioning your body is a slow process. The point is just to keep moving and stay as active as possible!

4- Hydrate.

How many of our calories do we consume unnecessarily through sugary drinks? Do not drink your calories. Sugary coffees, sodas, milkshakes and slushies are wasted calories. Our bodies are not meant to process high amounts of sugar all at once. Consistently drinking these beverages can cause insulin issues and lead to Type Two Diabetes. Water is what your body is made of. We need to stay hydrated to stay as healthy as possible. Drink adequate water and avoid the sugary drinks!

5- Assess your medications.

Talk with your healthcare provider about the medications you are taking. Certain medications cause weight gain. Steroids and anti-depressants are notorious for causing weight gain. No one wants to be on medication and sometimes they are absolutely necessary. But check with your doctor to see if there may be alternatives to your prescriptions that could be causing weight gain. If not, don’t fret. What’s the point of looking good if you don’t feel good? Take the medications you need for the best quality of life possible. Don’t beat yourself up if they have caused you to gain weight. The point of life is to live to the fullest every day, and if medications help you do that, the extra pounds are a small price to pay.

6- Sleep.

Adequate rest and sleep are essential to being healthy. When your body is run down, exhausted and tired it cannot function at 100%! Your body will be stressed out and that can cause increased cortisol levels and lead to weight gain. Rest when you are tired. Sleep the recommended amount of at least 8 hours a night.

7- Manage Stress.

If you are constantly burning the candle at both ends, your body is going to react to that. If your body goes into survival mode, it is going to slow your metabolism, store fat and not work properly. High stress is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Weight loss won’t happen until you get your stress levels under control. Practicing healthy habits like meditation, having a positive mindset, avoiding negative people and performing relaxation techniques are great ways to manage stress.

8- Prepare.

Preparation is the key to success. Planning your meals, grocery shopping and meal prep are essential to successful weight loss. You cannot lose weight if you are constantly eating fast food and consuming poor-quality nutrition. Meal plans can be found for free online and there are thousands of diet books and resources available. Your health is an investment and you must take the time to invest in it. Plan your meals, learn to cook at home and avoid fast food.

9- Get a Support System.

Losing weight is a difficult process. It helps to have people that will support you along your weight loss journey and keep you accountable. Join a support group, go on a healthy diet with your spouse or best friend, exercise in a class at the local gym or YMCA. Find people who will help you reach your goals. Avoid negative people who don’t support you. This is your life, your health and your goals. Align yourself with people who will lift you up and not tear you down.

10- Love yourself.

Ultimately, you are not defined by your looks or your weight. The goal of weight loss should be to feel better not look better. Weight loss is about being as healthy as possible. If you are miserable on a certain diet, don’t torture yourself. Some people go into severe depression on low carb diets while others have success. You have to know what is best for your body and love yourself for who you are. Your weight doesn’t define you, your heart does. All you can do is your best and that is enough.

Best of luck with your weight loss journey.


Love, Win



To read more from Winslow, feel free to visit her website

What It’s Like to Have Anxiety and Cerebral Palsy

When I think of the word anxiety, it brings up the feelings of worry and stress that my cerebral palsy causes in my everyday life.

It’s not that I want to have anxiety or that I like the feeling of having it, it’s just the simplest things can trigger me. I noticed the first thing that triggers me to have anxiety attacks is when I can’t physically be a part of something because of the disability my cerebral palsy causes me.

“…the simplest things can trigger me.”

Anxiety from sitting on the sidelinesFor example, when I was growing up and attending public school, going to physical education class used to be my least favorite class. If the teacher had something that I couldn’t be a part of, I would have sit on the sidelines and watch, wishing I could be like the rest of the world.

I still feel the same way at times, even as an adult. But I would say what triggers my anxiety now as an adult is not being able to get up and go like a “normal” person would. I become overwhelmed with the everyday stresses of life.

“…what triggers my anxiety now as an adult is not being able to get up and go like a ‘normal’ person would.”

Having cerebral palsy can make me feel very overwhelmed with life altogether. Going to doctor’s appointments can become very stressful and cause me to have an anxiety attack because of the outcome of the doctor’s finding of my condition.

When it comes to my anxiety, it feels like the world is spinning and nothing I do could stop me from having an attack. But it also feels like I’m trapped in my own body because I’m stuck in my space that I can’t get out of twenty-four seven.

“…it feels like the world is spinning and nothing I do could stop me from having an attack…”

Anxiety from the chronic pain of cerebral palsyIt’s so hard just to keep going at times, especially when I look at people my age that don’t have anything wrong with them according to society.

Dealing with the pain also causes anxiety for me as well. My mind goes on a roller coaster ride as my legs begin to hurt and I think to myself, “Oh, here we go again.” Along with that it also feels like I’m the gingerbread man in the board game when it gets stuck.

But the thing that helps it all, aside from having to sometimes take medication for it, is the support of my family and my faith in God as my savior because I know with Him by my side I’ll be okay.

About the Author:

Tylia Flores writes about anxiety and cerebral palsy.Tylia Flores is a 22-year-old born with cerebral palsy. Although her condition has affected her mobility, it has never affected her will and determination to make a difference in the world. Through her many life challenges and obstacles, she discovered her passion for writing. Tylia’s goal in life is to share her stories with the world. In doing so, she hopes to help others with disabilities realize that they, too, have the potential to make their dreams come true.

Understanding Medullary Sponge Kidney (Cacchi-Ricci Disease)

Understanding Medullary Sponge Kidney (Cacchi-Ricci Disease)


Cacchi-Ricci Disease is primarily known as Medullary Sponge Kidney (MSK). It is a congenital disorder of the kidneys.  Though it is present from birth, symptoms typically do not occur until adolescence. MSK occurs when the tubules in the kidneys do not properly form in the womb. This results in cystic dilatations of the collecting tubules in one or both kidneys. On imaging scans, this shows up as a “sponge like” appearance. 70% of cases are bilateral, which means MSK occurs in both kidneys.

Patients with MSK are at increased risk for kidney stones and urinary tract infection. They typically pass twice as many stones per year as do other stone formers. Over 55% of MSK patients report chronic kidney pain, renal colic, frequent stones and recurrent infections.

MSK was previously believed not to be hereditary but there is more evidence coming forth that may indicate otherwise. There is conflicting evidence as to whether this condition is of genetic origin.

This kidney disease is unique because patients are, for the most part told they are not candidates for transplant. Though MSK can cause sub-par kidney function, only 10% of patients suffer renal failure and require dialysis. This disease, however is listed as one of the top painful conditions according to the American Chronic Pain Association. Sufferers of this disease complain of symptoms such as: Constant flank pain, renal and bladder spasms, pain associated with stone passage, and frequent urination.

Though not present in all cases, a common marker for this disease is the formation of “Kidney Gravel.” These are small, sand-like stones that some MSK patients pass every single day of their lives. These grains cause frequent irritation in the urinary tract; which in turn causes pain, inflammation and leads to infection. This “sand paper” effect can also cause issues such as bloody urine, constant pain and interstitial cystitis in the bladder.


The standard diagnostic test most urologists use is called an intravenous pyelogram (IVP) An IVP is an x-ray examination of the kidneys, ureters and urinary bladder that uses iodinated contrast material injected into veins. An x-ray (radiograph) is a noninvasive test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

If severe enough, MSK can also be viewed on ultrasound and MRI scans.

Additional Testing-

Blood tests for calcium, phosphorus, uric acid, electrolyte levels, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels to assess kidney function.

Urinalysis to check for crystals, bacteria, blood, and white cells.

24 Hour Litho-Link Urine Test.

There are also imaging tests that can determine if you have lodged or embedded stones.

Additional testing may include: Abdominal X-rays, intravenous pyelogram (IVP), renal ultrasound, MRI or CT scan.


Being a rare disease, the treatment for MSK can vary. Diagnostic tests such as urine PH and stone analysis can help sufferers discover what type of stones their body makes and why. Over 50% of MSK patients create calcium stones.  Getting a urine PH test is essential to care with MSK because certain stones form in alkaline urine while others form in acidic urine.

Dietary interventions are also essential in the management of MSK.  Everyone is different and keeping a  Health Log Journal  will help you discover what helps or hurts your symptoms.

Some patients have found great benefit from avoiding chemicals such as citric acid. Patients with stones that form in alkaline urine have found relief from acidifying their urine to decrease stone formation.  Patients who created stones in an acidic urine have found benefit from eliminating acidic foods such as tomato sauce to manage their MSK.

Drinking adequate amounts of water is also key to managing MSK. This is more than hydration, some patients struggle to drink water with additives such as sodium bicarbonate. Be vigilant of what goes into your body. Your kidneys have to filter everything, be sure you are giving them the easiest job possible when they are already struggling to function.

Pain management is typically a necessary intervention in the treatment of MSK. Kidney stones are severely painful and most patients need some sort of pain relief.  Medications such as anti-spasmodics, urinary analgesics and narcotics can be prescribed to manage the agony of MSK. Pelvic floor therapy is also recommended.

With MSK, the tubules in the kidney are not fully formed so they struggle to complete the tasks the body needs.  No two people are the same and you should discuss all options with your urologist. Most patients require a combination of dietary changes, medications and physical therapy to manage MSK.

If you are suffering with Medullary Sponge Kidney (Cacchi-Ricci Disease) please know you are not alone.

For more information and resources, consider reading the book Chronically Stoned: Guide to winning the battle against kidney stones & urinary tract infections




How Marya Found Grace Through Chronic Illness

I’ve been diagnosed with cervical dystonia, a neurological movement disorder, since 2010. As an extremely disabling condition with sometimes relentless chronic pain, it’s had a tremendous impact on just about every area of my life including limiting my driving abilities, my capacity to work and to be able to take my son with special needs, to some of the extracurricular things I’d like to see him be able to participate in.

“As an extremely disabling condition with sometimes relentless chronic pain, it’s had a tremendous impact on just about every area of my life.”

I’ve been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome for years and figured that every quirky GI symptom I’ve had was just the IBS acting up. But for the past few months the more distressing symptoms were intensifying and I was noting more blood in the toilet when I went to the bathroom.

As a special needs mom of three, one of whom is a heart patient, I’m pretty good at doing research. So naturally, I started Googling “Inflammatory Bowel Disease” and started to wonder if that was what was going on and scaring the daylights out of myself in the process.

Finally, I went to the gastro in January, who ordered a colonoscopy. I procrastinated about getting that procedure done for a few months and finally got that done in April of this year.


For some reason the prep didn’t seem to be going as well as previous times. When I came out of the procedure, the doctor told me that the prep was indeed poor, and that I had colitis but they’d have to do biopsies in order to confirm what type it was. The doctor didn’t think anything major like cancer was going on.

Afterwards we stopped for breakfast at one of our favorite places just like we’d done in the past. I ordered some food, but then I began feeling horribly nauseous and couldn’t eat. The nausea became overwhelming and then I lost consciousness in the restaurant in front of my husband. A retired law enforcement officer, he started trying to give me mouth to mouth right away. Luckily there were some medical personnel from the local hospital there too and they called an ambulance.

“I lost consciousness in the restaurant in front of my husband […] he started trying to give me mouth to mouth right away.”

I spent several hours on ER having vitals checked as well as an EKG. I was super nauseous for several hours and couldn’t go to the bathroom by myself for awhile. My vitals all checked out as normal, but every time I tried to stand up the nausea came back. They gave me some meds or that and when it finally seemed to be under control, I went home to rest.

The doctor told me that it didn’t matter what I ate, but again… special needs mom that I am, I question standard medical advice. Also, I’m pretty holistically-minded about everything. I knew about the Gaps diet and was able to source a few things immediately. Something about being told my colon was “oozing” was very motivating to get started right away!

I’ve already begun to see some slow improvement but I understand that this is a major lifestyle change. I’d already made lots of changes over the last couple of years including a 40 pound weight loss and a food plan that was comfortable for me. But now I’m having to make more changes. I miss my morning oatmeal, coffee, and other creature comforts that help to keep me sane.

“30+ years of sobriety, being a special needs mom and living with another chronic illness have helped me to develop a self care arsenal that keeps me grounded through anything that life throws at me.”

Checking in with my mindset about everything, although I complain about the food restrictions on the Gaps diet, I think I’ve handled it all relatively well. 30+ years of sobriety, being a special needs mom and living with another chronic illness have helped me to develop a self care arsenal that keeps me grounded through anything that life throws at me. For me this looks like daily devotions, meditation, yoga, and writing. A little dark humor and sarcasm goes a long way too. Unfortunately that list also used to include a good cup of coffee, but I guess that’s out for now until I’m more stable.

I’ve learned that my life’s journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes there’s going to be awful days. Situations that I’m totally powerless over. At times like these it’s perfectly okay to lay low and focus on what I need to.

At this point I haven’t had the follow up with the doctor or got the lab results back. Honestly, I am a little anxious about it after doing some research and seeing the the possible treatment options are, how invasive they might be, how much is this going to cost and how cooperative will my insurance company be?

“I’m being proactive about what I have to do, taking it one day at a time and giving myself lots of grace to get through this.”

But believe it or not, it isn’t consuming me like it might have at one time. I stay busy with my blog, my dogs and my self-care practices in order to stay grounded. I’m being proactive about what I have to do, taking it one day at a time and giving myself lots of grace to get through this.

Marya Mesa is a special needs mother who writes at www.ChronicMomLife.com about chronically sober living with faith, intention, & self care.

Chronic Illness: Does It Make Me Less of A Woman?

Have you ever asked this question to yourself?

Or maybe its counterparts: “Am I enough?” or “Do I have what it takes?”

“Am I enough?” … “Do I have what it takes?”

Well, who can blame you?

You can’t stay out long without worrying about your unpredictable and embarrassing symptoms that can come on anytime.

You’ve canceled multiple events, projects, trips and dates because of your chronic back pain, migraine, brain fog or other chronic symptoms you cannot identify anymore.

Or, you gave up that promotion because you need to rest and stay home to hopefully (fingers-crossed) recover.

Heck, you can’t even clean up your own room and shower on your bad days!

For most of these things, I have learned to live with and without through the years since I became a spoonie. But there is still this one thing that makes me cringe and keeps me awake at night.

“I have learned to live with and without through the years since I became a spoonie. But there is still this one thing that makes me cringe and keeps me awake at night.”

The Most Popular Pageant Question

“What is the essence of being a woman?”

Let that question hang for a moment there and let’s think about it.

While I haven’t joined any beauty pageant (nor will I ever join one), I’ve felt compelled to answer that question as I got older.

Most especially right after every major flare-up.

And then there are those follow-up questions that I often hear from family and friends that take my self-worth to a nosedive.

“How can you handle the stress of being a wife and a mother if you’re like that?

“Can your body bear and give birth to a child?”

“You get dizzy often. How can you survive the sleepless nights of a new mother plus manage the household?

I love kids and I’d love to have my own.

I long to care for and love a lifetime partner.

I’m not going to lie to you. Motherhood has been one of my dreams as a woman.

I thought it was a big part of my essence.

So, what if…

… my condition won’t allow me to bear and raise a child, do most of the house chores, homeschool, and get a regular job?

Will I be less of a woman? Will I not live up to the true essence of a woman?

Ms. Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen said that, “Just being a woman is God’s gift that all of us must appreciate. The origin of a child is a mother, and is a woman. She shows a man what sharing, caring and loving is all about. That is the essence of a woman.”

That was beautiful.

A woman does not have to be a mother or a wife to share, care, and love.

Granted, Sushmita is not a spoonie like you and me (not that I know of). And I know that it’s hard to think of your real essence when you wake up feeling like you were hit by a truck.

So, I looked for…

3 Real and Badass Women with Chronic Illness

  1. Venus Williams

Williams is one of the world’s best woman tennis players. In 2011, she disclosed that she was diagnosed with the incurable and difficult to diagnose Sjögren’s Syndrome. It’s an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the glands that make tears and saliva. It can also target the joints, thyroid, kidneys, liver, lungs, skin and nerves.

After adopting a new exercise regimen and a vegan diet, she started to recover and able to play again. In fact, she won her first tennis title in two years in 2014 in Dubai. Win or lose, she continued to play.

“I think we all dream of winning tournaments but we don’t think of being more of a force in the game of tennis other than for ourselves. For me that would be the best legacy”, she told CNN.

  1. Jen Snyder

I personally know Jen as she is one of my awesome online business mentors. She is a wife and a mom to the “best 3 crazies” (her words, not mine). She has an online business which “helps women build and grow their online business, so they can have the flexibility to do the work they love while spending time with the people they love.”

When she was 25 years old, she was diagnosed with Lupus. Later on, she discovered she also had Raynaud’s, Sjögren’s Syndrome, and Endometriosis.

Her best piece of advice for anyone living with chronic illness and trying to run a business?

“Listen to your body! If your body is saying rest, rest! Don’t overdo it so you end up in the hospital or worse. Remember we aren’t performing brain surgery or creating oxygen. Our businesses and our missions are important, but we are too!” – Jen

“Listen to your body! If your body is saying rest, rest!”

  1. Kris Carr

Kris is the subject and director of the award-winning documentary film “Crazy Sexy Cancer” which was about her transformation and health journey through cancer. On Valentine’s Day in 2003, she was diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer.

She changed her diet and lifestyle and discovered that while she cannot be cured, she could still be healthy and feel better.

She has written 5 best-selling books and created health and wellness programs that inspire, transform and heal a lot of women.

Kris says, “If I can pull that off, just imagine what YOU can do.”

Celebrate What You Can Do

There is no shame in pulling the covers over your head and canceling your appointments to rest and take care of yourself.

There is no shame in pulling the covers over your head and canceling your appointments to rest and take care of yourself.

No shame in your physical limitations.

You may miss those things you used to do. I do, too.

But is it possible you may be taking the things you can still do for granted?

I believe that you have a purpose. Every single day, you are being equipped to fulfill it. There is no one else who can take your place to do it.

What’s Next?

Close your eyes and take 3 deep and slow breaths.

Now, think of the things you can still do.

In the comments, share one of them by completing this sentence:

I can ___________________ and I’m grateful for it.

Lastly, this goes out to you and to the woman in the mirror:

Your essence is within you and no one can take it away from you.

Chronic illness does not make you less of a woman.

Mary is a thriving spoonie, a health blogger, an online solopreneur and a natural healing advocate. Despite chronic illness, she believes spoonies are valuable, strong and capable to make a difference in our society. She is on a mission to help women with chronic illness thrive by sharing her own experiences, fellow spoonies’ success stories, tools, programs and tips that focus on real food. Join her in this journey here.

In The Middle Of Cancer: How Cancer Effects & Shapes an Entire Family

A year after my father’s diagnosis of prostate cancer, my family and I have learned that the saying, “one day at a time” is more than a simple saying, but a way of life when you’re dealing with such a sneaky illness like cancer. My family and I aren’t strangers to overcoming obstacles but when we got the news about my dad having cancer my mom, sister, and myself all wondered how did we get here? Is this really happening? And what do we do now?

“…when we got the news about my dad having cancer my mom, sister, and myself all wondered how did we get here? Is this really happening? And what do we do now?”

Once the initial shock wore off, we had a game plan. We eventually started taking each day as they came. And soon we realized that all things considered we were very fortunate. To have had (and to still have) the outpour of love and support from friends and family means so much. We realize now that family doesn’t necessarily have to mean you share the same blood, but you can share family in spirit and in the heart.

While cancer will always be something we contend with, it’s comforting to know we won’t be doing it alone. I have noticed my dad has changed some since his diagnosis; he is more reflective and reminisces a lot. Music also has played a big part in our journey. When my dad first started chemo, my sister started a chemo countdown where he wore his favorite metal and rock band t-shirts to his chemo appointments, then talking to the artists via Instagram and Twitter. Does music heal? Maybe not from the scientific standpoint. But it does help, not only the person going through it, but it can also help soothe and forget your issues for just a little while.

“I have noticed my dad has changed some since his diagnosis; he is more reflective and reminisces a lot.”

I also believe a positive attitude is everything. If you believe you can, you will. It’s important to remember too, that putting on a brave face also means being real about your dealing with. If you’re pissed, be pissed. If you want to scream or cry then do just that. I have done all of the above.

When you’re faced with something as scary as cancer, it can teach you very quickly what is important. I also know that we could have it much worse than we do. I know for me that what I used to think of as a big deal isn’t. And that I do my best now not to take for granted any and all chances that I am given to tell those how much they mean to me, and how much I truly love them.

“…it feels like we’re walking on this surreal tightrope. Where are we balancing between keeping a normal routine? We’re holding our breath once more with the next doctor appointment.”

For my family and me, it feels like we’re walking on this surreal tightrope. Where are we balancing between keeping a normal routine? We’re holding our breath once more with the next doctor appointment. It’s in these moments where I turn to music once again. And one song I leaned toward to the most during the beginning of this was a song by one of my favorite bands called, Jonathan Jackson + Enation. The title of the song is “Anthem For The Apocalypse.” “Would you look me in the eye? You have nothing to fear the storm will clear. I will hold you in the night.” It just so happens that on the day that this album came out on, July 14th, 2016, that was the day my dad had his first chemo session.

I took that as a sign that everything would be okay. This journey will always be one my family and I will always be on. Cancer will always be a close advisory for us. I see cancer now as the unwanted guest we can’t get rid of. But if that’s the price my family and I have to pay to still have my dad then, we can learn to live with cancer.

I guess that’s the in-between of living with cancer. Having to deal with it, manage it in a way where it’s not the main focus in your life, but you still know it’s there. It will always be there for us; for my dad.

In other words stay on top of treating it, but making sure it doesn’t topple you in the process.

“I see cancer now as the unwanted guest we can’t get rid of. But if that’s the price my family and I have to pay to still have my dad then, we can learn to live with cancer.”

While cancer does bring a lot of uncertainty with it, there is one thing I am certain of and that is cancer has chosen one tough family to mess with. And we will never surrender to it. We are ready to fight with everything we have in the years to come. Cancer has nothing on us. Adversity and fighting against unbelievable odds are what my family and I do best.

We don’t like it, but we learn to live with cancer in the best way possible. And we do what we need to deal with it at that moment. And believe me, there are plenty of moments. We learn to lean our strength as a family and remember that tough moments in the journey of cancer are part of the deal. If cancer has taught me anything is that when you find yourself in the middle of a pile of crap, you push through it. Because that is only part of the journey and not the entire journey.

Jessica is the founder/writer of the blog, “The Abler.” She is also the host of her own podcast, “The Many Faces Of The Abled.” She is a passionate disability activist. You can find her blog at https://seetheabled.blogspot.com.

You Don’t Die by Suicide

Suicide prevention, awareness, and the continuing care of survivors is dear to my heart. I am a suicide survivor.

At a very low point in my marriage, while battling back from cancer surgery, I lost all my hope, all feeling of worthiness to breathe air, and believed I was a burden to society who had completely failed as a mother. Eventually it got to the point of lining up 15 or more prescription bottles and emptied them in to my stomach with a liter of Jack Daniels.

“I lost all my hope, all feeling of worthiness to breathe air, and believed I was a burden to society…”

I never lost consciousness, and didn’t even get sleepy. Nope, my OCD kicked in and I cleaned the house from top to bottom. My (now ex-) husband’s response was to demand what I was trying to do to him. The responses from my family and minister were no better. Filled with blame, shame, and accusations of lack of faith, I had nowhere to turn for help once I was released from the 24 hour hold. None of the health professions hooked me up with outside support. I was just put back into the same situation, the same nightmare of abuse and trying to be worthy of my children.

“Filled with blame, shame, and accusations of lack of faith, I had nowhere to turn for help.”

Looking back, there were so many warning signs. It’s amazing how well I avoided recognizing my spiral into hopelessness. The abuse I lived with daily throughout my marriage, including threats of not waking up in the morning, played a large part in my hopelessness. My background with depression started in middle school, as well as constant pain from undiagnosed diseases, and daily bullying both at home and at school added to my struggles.

Hopelessness is what a person who commits suicide dies from — the bone deep feeling of aloneness. The feeling your loved ones would be better off without you around is what drives most suicide attempts. Depression, self loathing, hateful inner dialogues, and abuse all contribute to hopelessness.

“Hopelessness is what a person who commits suicide dies from — the bone deep feeling of aloneness.”

Suicide isn’t attention seeking. Suicide isn’t a cry for help. Suicide is the result of hopelessness — of a soul dying.

In a study done by NIH covering the 2001-2015 period, rural counties consistently had higher suicide rates than metropolitan counties. The study also concluded suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. There were more than half a million suicides during the study period. 

“…suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.”

According to the Veterans’ Administration, recent statistical studies show that rates of veteran suicide are much higher than previously thought, as much as five to eight thousand a year or about 22 a day. PTSD, depression, and lack of mental care follow up after discharge all play a part in veteran suicide rates. Vets finally got some hope of the help they need when President Trump signed an executive order to provide more benefits to service members transitioning from the military to civilian life in an effort to decrease veteran suicides on January 9, 2018.  

Older veterans face a higher risk of suicide, the data showed. In 2014, about 65 percent of veterans who died from suicide were 50 years or older.

Warning signs for suicide, according to suicide.org include:

  • Appearing depressed or sad most of the time. (Untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.)
  • Talking or writing about death or suicide.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends.
  • Feeling hopeless.
  • Feeling helpless.
  • Feeling strong anger or rage.
  • Feeling trapped — like there is no way out of a situation.
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol.
  • Exhibiting a change in personality.
  • Acting impulsively.
  • Losing interest in most activities.
  • Experiencing a change in sleeping habits.
  • Experiencing a change in eating habits.
  • Losing interest in most activities.
  • Performing poorly at work or in school.
  • Giving away prized possessions.
  • Writing a will.
  • Feeling excessive guilt or shame.
  • Acting recklessly.

“You never know whose life you might save!”

PLEASE watch those around you. You never know whose life you might save! Tell the people you care about how you feel. Talk to your children and their friends openly and let them know you are someone safe to talk to about anything. If you see someone hurting, don’t ignore it — ask about how they are doing and show you really care. Watch people’s body language when they talk. Look for signs of discomfort like lowered eyes, crossed arms, or fidgeting when you are talking with someone.

Most of all, talk to listen and not to answer.

Hey y’all, I’m Wanda and I’m a Spoonie in my late 40s. I have several chronic illnesses I battle daily. I’ve raised two beautiful girls and have a wonderful service dog named Tucker. It is my hope to have shown and continue to show the world a face of chronic illness who chooses to become BETTER instead of BITTER.

How to keep New Year’s Resolutions with Chronic Illness

A new year can be the start of a new beginning. It is typically the time where people set new goals to accomplish for the next year. But with a chronic illness, keeping a New Year’s resolution can be extra challenging. Below are some tips to help you reach your goals and accomplish your dreams!

How to keep your New Year’s Resolutions with chronic illness-

1- Be Realistic.  Set goals that you know you can accomplish.

Example- If better fitness is your goal, set realistic goals appropriate for your lifestyle, illness and activity level. If you tell yourself “I’m gunna lose 10lbs a week” and then you don’t you,  will be discouraged and end up giving up. Be realistic. Instead of saying “I’m gunna lose 10lbs a week” say “I’m gunna eat right, hydrate and exercise as best as I can.  Health is the FIRST priority.

3- Pace yourself.  Don’t be “all or nothing.”

If you start out all “gung ho” and go “full throttle” you will burn yourself out and end up giving up. Change isn’t easy and it has to be done in sensible increments.

Example- If you are trying a new diet, do your food adjustments slowly. You will throw your body into a quick and painful detox if  you all of the sudden drop all sugar, gluten or meat out of your diet. Focus on replacing the bad things with good things. Instead of eating a piece of cake after dinner, have a piece of fruit instead. Instead of drinking sweet tea throughout the day, replace it with water.

Change needs to happen in a way that ensures you will continue the new habits you’ve chosen to add to your life.

3- Make Positive Resolutions. Be sure you are doing what’s best for you.

Do not compromise your health for any New Year’s resolutions.

Example- All of us with chronic illness would like to be on less medicine. If this is your goal, be sure that you are vigilant of your health needs first. Yes, you want to be off the medicine but if it is helping you or even keeping you alive- this resolution is not what is best for you.

When it comes to adding or taking things out of your life, be sure you are weighing the proper Pros and Cons. Don’t put your health at risk for anything. I promise you it’s not worth it.

Your health comes first, before any resolution.

4- Write out Out.  Make a visual chart of what you hope to accomplish.

Grab a pen and paper and write out your weekly, monthly and yearly goals that you hope to accomplish.

Write out a “game plan” of how you are going to accomplish your resolutions.

Example- Schedule for the New Year’s Resolution of getting healthier.

Daily Plan- Drink at least 8 glasses of water. Walk for at least fifteen minutes. Eat healthy foods.

It may help you to post your goals around places you will see them (your mirror, your desk at work, your car, etc)

5- Get Support. Align yourself with people who have the same goals.

Example- If you are starting a new diet, find an online support group for people also on that diet to get tips, recipes and information to help you succeed. This will give you encouragement and accountability.

6- Understand that things take time. Don’t be hard on yourself.

Any change is going to take time!  Nothing happens overnight!

You won’t be able to get everything perfect all at once. There will be days where you fail but that is okay! All that matters is that you try your best.

All good things take time to develop and bad habits die hard.


You can accomplish your goals!  Don’t give up!


The UnChargeables Site is here if you need support!




Wishing you hope & healing. Love, Win <3


Read more from Winslow E. Dixon


When Christmas is NOT the most wonderful time of the year

“It’s the most wonderful time of the yeeaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrr!

There’ll be much jingle belling and everyone telling you be of good cheeeeerrrr.”

*rolls eyes*

Can I drown my sorrows in eggnog and cheesy hallmark Christmas love stories now?

Christmas is a difficult time for some people. It can be especially difficult for the chronically ill. Trying to manage a life, a chronic illness and the added pressures of the holiday season can be overwhelming.

Most of us with chronic illnesses will tell you that we push ourselves 110% of the time to get anything accomplished. Every single thing in our lives takes more effort than it does for a normal person. Counting and collecting “spoons” is a daily reality.

Christmas- time of extra social gatherings, church or community functions, volunteering opportunities, extra chores like shopping for gifts, cleaning for parties and wrapping gifts can take a toll on our already struggling bodies.

How do we handle the holidays without losing our minds and making ourselves sicker?

1-  Pace yourself.

Christmas can be celebrated ALL month long. There is no right or wrong timing.  This is YOUR holiday season. You can enjoy it however you please.

2- Learn the magical word, “NO.”

You don’t have to attend every Christmas play. You don’t have to bake a hundred cookies. You don’t have to Christmas gift shop til you drop.  You don’t have to volunteer at every nursing home or soup kitchen.

You want to ENJOY the holidays not ENDURE the holidays.

3- Prioritize.

You can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything.

Evaluate what is truly important to spend your spoons on.

You don’t have to go to your third cousin’s girlfriend’s Christmas pageant.  Don’t let people make you feel guilty. You suffering through an event isn’t going to help your health situation.

Don’t set yourself up to be miserable because at the end of the day YOU are the one who has to live in your own skin. If you are hurting worse or triggering more symptoms that is a terrible price to pay. You will be the only one paying that price. The people who TRULY love you will understand when you say NO for the sake of your own health and well-being.

4- Don’t Rush.

Christmas time is about treasuring the true gifts in our lives; our loved ones.  Focus on spending time with your family and friends instead of the hustle and bustle of commercialized Christmas.

Enjoy the little moments. Enjoy drinking hot chocolate and laughing about old times. Enjoy watching cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies.  Enjoy singing your favorite Christmas music.  Enjoy the simple sight of Christmas lights flickering among the ornaments on your tree.


 5- Save your spoons

Take shortcuts where you can.

Buy the store bought pecan pie.   Do online shopping.

Don’t spend 3 hours baking in the kitchen, wasting your spoons before the Christmas party you have to attend. Just show up with a store bought pie, no one will judge you….and if they do…..they don’t live with your illness…..who cares what they think!

Christmas is about creating memories, enjoying the magic of the season and spending time with loved ones.

The greatest gift you can give someone cannot be bought…. the greatest gift you can give is your TIME.

Treasure the little moments.

Merry Christmas <3

Wishing you all hope & healing.  Love, Win <3


To read more from Winslow click here—–> http://winslowedixon.wordpress.com


Understanding Endometriosis

Endometrosis is a condition in which the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus and spreads to other parts of the body.  Symptoms can be menstrual cramps, lower abdominal pressure, irregular menstrual periods, heavy/painful periods, infertility and miscarriage.

The condition range from mild and painless to extremely debilitating.

The only way to officially diagnose this condition is by surgical discovery, as endometrial cells do not show up on ultrasound.

Endometriomas may also develop with this condition. Endometriomas are a type of cyst formed when endometrial tissue grows in the ovaries.

Endometrioma can also be referred to as an endometrioid cysts. These can cause excess bleeding, severe pain and affect fertility.

If you are having painful cycles, consult your gynecologist.

The treatment for endometriosis is typically oral hormone therapy with contraceptive medication (birth control pills).

There are also alternative treatments such as bio-identical hormone therapy-  progesterone cream or Hormone Pellet Therapy.

Ovarian cysts in normal women typically occur and go away on their own, but sometimes in women with endometriosis these cysts become endometriomas which may have to be surgically removed.

Please have regular ultrasounds if you have been diagnosed with endometriosis.


Also, please be aware of your hormone levels. Estrogen Dominance is common in women with endometriosis, PCOS and auto-immune disorders.  Your doctor can order a lab called a “female hormone panel.”

Avoid soy products if you are estrogen dominant, as these are phytoestrogens and can cause hormones to be disrupted.


This disease affects different women in different ways, but the most consistent symptoms are painful periods, painful intercourse, heavy bleeding,  pelvic pain/tenderness and infertility.

Hormonal disturbances such as hot flashes, breast tenderness and emotional mood swings have also been contraindicated.

If you are struggling, please consult your gynocologist.



Full medical description of Endometriomas

Full medical description of Endometriosis


Personal Note-

I suffered from severely painful menstrual cycles since the onset of puberty at 12 years old. I would bleed for weeks at a time, sometimes have cycles that lasted for months. I saw multiple gynecologists throughout my teenage years and suffered through many horrific periods and different birth control pills, patches and hormone adjustments. I finally found a physician willing to listen to me and at 18 years old, I had a diagnostic pelvic D & C  because the doctor was sure I had endometriosis. His diagnosis was confirmed and I had stage 4 endometrosis removed. I was put on hormone therapy after that, but it caused my migraines to increase and I could not stay on them. I went unmedicated for years and the endometriosis returned with a vengeance. At 22 years old, I started having absolutely debilitating pelvic pain. I went to the emergency room and discovered I had a cyst on my left ovary. They told me it would go away. In normal women it does…..mine did not.

I suffered with it for a year. Just accepted it was a part of life and lived off of advil. I had kidney stones too, so I was used to being in pain.  My health was declining anyhow at the time. (I had undiagnosed adrenal failure)

I went on a trip to Myrtle beach, SC and spend the entire day in the ocean. Later that night, I had a sudden, sharp pain that was horrific. I knew something was wrong. I called my GYN and as soon as I got home had an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed I had a large endometrioma.  When my GYN got the ultrasound result, he told me my ovary was damaged and needed to be removed.

I ended up having that surgery and got an IUD to prevent the endometriosis from returning.

Fast forward 3 years, I’ve had 2 more surgeries since then and am scheduled to have a hysterectomy this coming week. I have aggressive endometriosis. I have had so many endometriomas that just won’t seem to stay away. I am also estrogen dominant.  My grandmother passed away from endometrial cancer.  Every single one of my dad’s sisters have had to have a hysterectomy before age 30. It runs strong in my genetics.  It is tragic? Yeah. I wanted to be a mother, but the risk of cancer and the pain is just too high.

My message is this-


If your periods are lasting longer than 7 days, something is WRONG.

Keep an eye on your iron levels.

See your GYN.


Wishing you all hope and healing

Love, Win <3

This post is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult your health care provider before starting or stopping any medical treatment.

I am NOT a doctor, nor do I claim to be. I am simply a woman who has done much research to understand disease and seeks to help others understand as well.

Click to read more from  Winslow E. Dixon