My Life in Words: (Ashley’s Spoonie Story)

Ashley's Spoonie Story: Ashley's Chronic Pain Journey

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “chronic” is defined as: continuing or occurring again and again for a long time, always present or encountered.  The word “pain” is simply defined as: mild to severe discomfort and suffering.  If you combine the two definitions of the words “chronic” and “pain”, we reach a sole statement that describes the life of those whose “normal” has become something most people cannot comprehend: mild to severe discomfort and suffering that is continuing and occurring again and again for a long time, and is always present and encountered.

Chronic Pain is Life Changing

As is the case with a lot of chronic pain warriors, my life didn’t start out this way.  There was once a time when my life didn’t involve seeing my doctors more often than my friends; when pharmacy visits didn’t happen every other day; when I didn’t have to end up in the ER on a Wednesday night, curled tightly into the fetal position; when I didn’t spend my nights tossing and turning because of the insomnia; when I didn’t have to open a medication bottle multiple times a day.

There was a time when when I didn’t have to research for hours on end just to understand what happens beneath my own skin; when I didn’t have to sit and rest after a shower; when I didn’t have to try to explain things about my body to other people that even I don’t understand fully; and a time when I wasn’t intimately familiar with the definition of “chronic pain” as a result of life has become every minute of every day.

The Life Changing Consequences of Chronic Pain

Everything changed on of March 21st, 2011. It happened in the blink of an eye.  It was a Monday, a bright and sunny afternoon, when an overthrown softball collided with the back of my skull as I was leaving our school’s softball field. I don’t remember much of that incident, except for three distinct things: my coach’s voice close by which was ricocheting around me like a bouncy ball; the cracking sound of the softball hitting my skull resounding in my ears like an echo in a cave; And lastly, the pain. The pain is what I remember the most, and rightly so, as it hasn’t stopped in 8 years, 5 months, and 25 days.

My Chronic Pain Journey

Throughout these years, months, and days, it has been a perplexing, debilitating, yet rewarding and valuable journey.  There have been countless moments where I can’t even seem to even hold myself up anymore, falling to the floor and weeping for the soul that’s exhausted and depleted, and wondering if this is a life worth even living.  I watched the doctor that I had trusted for 4 years look me in the eye and confidently tell me “I don’t believe you’re in that much pain.” I had turned to her to help me find answers to my never-ending questions and search for treatments that would help give me just a small glimpse of blissful relief, and this is what she said to me. She didn’t see the way I collapsed in the hallway; she didn’t  hear my sobs outside of her pretentiously white-walled office; she didn’t see my family pick me up off the ground, all the while telling me repeatedly “we believe you.”

Living chronically ill isn’t for the weak, it has more hard moments that you would ever be able to imagine.  However, there are also some moments that have made this journey that I’ve been living worth it in the end. For example, it has taught me how self-love is one of the most important things in life.  One morning, as I stared into the full-length mirror that I attached to the back of my university dorm door, all I could see was a shadow of someone I once knew, someone I couldn’t even recognize. Staring at my reflection with my roommates laughing on the other side of the door, I said to my reflection, “I am going to love you one day, give me some time.”  I realized that just because our bodies feel like a prison, that doesn’t mean we should treat them that way. And sometime later, before I even knew it, I stared at that same reflection and saw something else. I saw someone who adored their body, even if it malfunctioned.

The Importance of Maintaining Self Love on Your Chronic Pain Journey

Living life with chronic pain, a mild to severe discomfort and suffering that is continuing and occurring again and again for a long time, always present and encountered, might be hard for others to understand, but it’s an understood normal for us chronic pain warriors.  We wake up every morning to endure another day, with a strength we didn’t know was possible. But it’s so important to love yourself, despite the reality your body puts you through. I loved myself as I walked across my university stage and received my college diploma; and I also loved myself as I sat in the ER in excruciating pain on a Tuesday night. Your body deserves the love you have to give, too.

Words Can Hurt: Sticks and Stones

Words Can Hurt: What Not to Say to Chargies on The Unchargeables

Sometimes people can be well-meaning, but their words can hurt regardless. We polled our Chargie friends in The Unchargeables community and asked…

“Which things do you wish people would stop saying to you (even if they mean well)?”

Here are some of the responses we have received.

Remember to think carefully about what you say to others.

We may mean well, but our words can hurt.

About the Author T.J. Madden:

Author T.J. Madden writes about how Words Can Hurt.Reader, Writer, Baker, Teacher, Chicken Soup Maker, Fighter for all things Healthier, Stronger, Kinder, and Better than yesterday.

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.

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 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

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 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.

Book Review- The Watcher’s Series

With chronic illness, sometimes we don’t have the ability to travel and do things we wish we could. But, the beautiful part about reading is that it can take you to a place far away, without you ever having to leave your front door. Reading allows you to explore any topic, visit any land and feel various emotions from the comfort of your own home.

Here at the UnChargeables, we will be doing a series of book reviews to showcase some literary treasures we’ve discovered.

Sometimes with chronic pain and devastating fatigue, we need a distraction. One of the best ways to do this is to curl up with a good book.

The Watcher’s Series by S.J West is a fantastic book series that takes readers on a supernatural journey with humor and courage.

The story begins when Lilly Nightingale experiences many brushes with death. It seemed like something supernatural was out to get her. Her odd experiences lead her to discover the unique purpose her life holds.

Along the way, she meets the man of her dreams- Brandon Cole. But his presence in her life brings her to a destiny far beyond her imagination.

This book series is a must read. The characters come to life and the world S.J West has created is sure to provide a welcome escape from reality.

I highly recommend you read it. It can be found on amazon kindle for just 99cents!

She also has tons of other books and her work is vibrant and entertaining.

To check out her series click here—->

Five Things I Don’t Admit On My Bad Days

Hope Despair sign

Have you ever had a day when you just stared off into space?  Not staring and thinking deep thoughts about your future, but empty. Random thoughts floating around occasionally, but nothing coherent.  And definitely nothing cheerful!

This is the place I am in right now.  My brain has just shut down.  The chronic illness has become too much to handle at this point and my brain went bye-bye.

Cat hiding from chronic illness

So, I thought I’d let you into the taboo side of pain and chronic illness.  The stuff we -or at least I- really don’t want to admit.  The thoughts we have when our brain and body are at their lowest.

     1) I am tired.

That’s why my brain shut down.  Fighting pain is hard, and those of us in daily pain don’t ever get to rest.  The constant struggle of trying to stay physically in control of our pain is draining.  Add to that the daily demands of running a home, a career, or raising kids and you have the perfect storm for extreme fatigue.  Add extreme frustration and we crack.  And it doesn’t necessarily matter who gets in the way when it happens-sorry!

     2) I am sad.

Because I am in pain and I cannot control it or my reactions today.  But life goes on.  So does family discord.  My husband and I are no different.   And to be honest, I don’t always have the fortitude to deal with it, whether it’s about a burnt dinner or the several hundred bucks he just lost at the casino.  I’ll end up in a puddle of tears.  Pain makes everything personal and much more intense.  So the small stuff becomes huge and nastiness gets easier.

     3) I am depressed.

It’s hard to stay positive and accepting of a disease that causes so much pain, weakness, degeneration, loss, forgetfulness, uncertainty… I could go on, but you get the point.  Obviously, I have accepted my chronic illness, but these diseases are progressive and constantly change over time, so we have to constantly readjust our acceptance of what they have done to us.  But the feelings that go along with this process have to be experienced as well.

Waving Hands

     4) I am confused.

And confusion is very frustrating.  You see, my body remembers everything it used to be able to do.  From dancing to hiking through the woods to carrying stuff up and down stairs.  So sometimes, I still think I am capable and try to do things expecting that I will still be able to.  And, at this point, I usually can’t, which has really just caused me more problems.

     5) I want to give up.

I know the facts about my disease.  I know what my back injuries mean.  I know what the future probabilities are for my disease progression and pain management.  And I worry about where I will end up when I can’t care for myself. I worry because I am alone a lot already. And I’m scared. I think about giving up a lot, too. I don’t talk about it, but I think about it. We all do.  It’s a way to end the pain.  It’s just not a good one.

Bad Day Bridge

In the end, when my brain gets like this, what I really need is some sort of regeneration. It’s too easy to continue that downward slide when we acknowledge our dark side.  So here are some ideas for pick-me-ups after your day or so working through the harder emotions having chronic illness brings to us all.

Watch a mindless funny movie -my fave is Zoolander!

Find funny fail shows on TV-I so love dumb criminals!

Watch kittens on YouTube-you must admit cats getting scared of hair clips is hilarious!

Bundle up and rest with aroma lotions and tea!

     And remember: these “lost brain” days don’t last forever, they’re not as common as they may seem, and they do not control you.  After 20+ years of this, the silver lining seems to be the fact that by letting these days happen, you allow for a mental reset. The negativity gets acknowledged, then let go. And that’s exactly what needs to happen in the long run!


Sharilynn Battaglia

Born and raised in Rochester NY,  I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s 4 months after my second son was born. My kids are now 21 and 23 years old. I have since developed MCTD, Inflammitory Arthritis, and Fibromyalgia. My medications, in turn, have caused me to endure two back fractures. I raised my kids, worked a career for over 30 years, and been a wife to my husband of 27 years all while being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease for 22 of them.  I can no longer work but I do volunteer at an animal rescue organization as a kitten cuddler and I write about my  experiences with my diseases while wrangling our one rescue dog and three rescue cats.

Beyond Existence, Living with Daily Chronic Migraine

chronic migraineBy Kimberlee MacLean

I’m on a deserted island in a sea of deserted islands; my chronic condition is the sea that separates me from others. We all have made shift rafts that allow us to visit one another from time to time, but we always end up back on our spot of ground. Sometimes I visit someone with Lupus, or Fibromyalgia, or even someone who lives with the same condition I have: daily chronic migraine and I feel, for too brief moments, that someone else understands. I don’t have to educate or feel that niggling obligation to prove that, indeed, I face it every day; that I’m not faking it.


I’ve had a daily chronic migraine for eleven years. Although the chronic migraine condition is defined as lasting more than 15 days per month, I experience some level of pain every waking minute of every day. So do most of the people I know who have the same condition.

I’m sure I started my search for relief like many:

I wanted the magic pill. I had unquestioning faith in the medical community and thought that, surely, there was some way to fix this thing that had turned my world upside down. Then I discovered that medicine is as much art as science and that my condition, like so many, eludes effective long-term treatment.

So I turned to alternate therapies.

Everything from acupuncture to massage. From the power of positive thinking to elimination diets. From consistent sleep to exercise. From trigger point injections to radio nerve ablation. They, like the medications I’ve tried from western medicine, didn’t provide long-term effective relief.

It’s easy to get disheartened.

Even those of us who manage to hold onto hope on a regular basis, spend some time in the clutches of despair, wondering if we can keep going through the long days that will inevitably follow. So what does work? How do we move forward? How we do more than exist? How do we live?


Although there’s no magic pill or wand here either, I’ve found some practices that help and that, unlike some medications, continue to provide some benefit no matter the length of time I practice them.


Manage Your Health

My health is solely my responsibility.

I only see doctors who will work with me. A doctor who will partner with me, one who explains their suggestions and who listens to and answers my questions, one who will graciously accept me declining specific treatments for reasons I explain is the cornerstone of me effectively managing my health. Doctors that unilaterally make decisions regarding my medications, procedures, and treatment are immediately fired. Anything I put into my body and anything that is done to my body is ultimately my decision.


I research and read and learn.

I bring possibilities to my doctor as much as they present possible treatments to me. And I inform them of everything I try and its efficacy or lack thereof.

I am my own guinea pig.

There is little I won’t try if it’s low risk and, with the knowledge and help of my doctor, I can research and implement on my own. I’ve been a vegan and a vegetarian. I’ve practiced yoga. I’ve removed processed sugars from my diet. I’ve researched hormones, their impacts and ways to regulate them through diet and exercise, and implemented those dietary and exercise ideas. And I’ll continue to see what might work. Ensure that any changes you make or therapies you try is under the supervision of a doctor! Many practices can have effects on current medications and other therapies you may be undergoing as well as present health risks that only your doctor can help you understand.


Get An Extra Spoon

No matter what our circumstances: spouse, parent, employee, single, friend, lover, there are things that need to be done in life. Grocery shopping, or ordering food when cooking is entirely out of the question, but eating is possible. Cleaning so that there are times when we can actually see the floor. Laundry, bathing, brushing teeth. These things sound easy. But when getting out of bed is a feat of extraordinary fortitude, the multitude of tasks after that are simply impossible.
I used to spend my “good” days attending to all the things that don’t get done regularly, followed by falling exhausted into bed with hopes that tomorrow might bring another “good” day. Soon I found that all of my “good” days were spent doing things that had to be done. Certainly, it felt good that a few tasks were checked off the list, but the list never ends. Add to that exhaustion that inevitably followed the frenzy of activity. My cup was always empty; my spoons spent on either feeling awful or doing what had to be done.


Those of us managing a chronic condition feel like we need to do it all, and in a fraction of the time, it takes those without our particular challenges. I’ll let you in on an enormous secret: we don’t. We will not be bad spouses if we don’t get the house cleaned. We will not be bad employees if we miss work on occasion. We will not be bad friends if we can’t make a birthday party. Most importantly, we are not bad people because we aren’t able to function the way many others do.


It’s hard to believe; to convince ourselves that, indeed, we are worthy; that we are enough. We have those angels perched on our shoulders shaking their fingers at us. Well tell that angel something from me: go pound sand. Even better, tell that winged creature yourself. Really get into it! Get creative. Make up horrible names for the beastie. It feels fantastic.
You have permission to care for yourself. We can’t continue to spend spoons on the incessant “shoulds” of the world. Those actually cost more than one spoon. Try it out. Keep hold of that spoon for the day. And keep hold of another one the next day. Chose a different spoon one day for a week and see how you feel at the end of the week. Seriously, make a note of how you feel on Friday night or Sunday night or whatever night works. Then take that entire week and save spoons. Reassess at the end of seven days. Scan your body. Scan your mind. Only concentrate on that. See how you feel. If it works for you, keep it up.



I don’t mean this in the spiritual or prayer sense, but if that works for you, by all means, run with it. It makes more sense to me as a method to train the brain. In managing my condition, I’ve tried everything. Medication, exercise, supplements, nerve blocks, Botox, trigger point injections, and more dietary changes than I can count. And still, meditation is the single most effective thing I have found.I started it because I’d read studies that showed it helped with


I started it because I’d read studies that showed it helped with chronic pain. And, as I’ve repeated said, I’d stand on my head and sing The Star Spangled Banner if I thought that would provide a modicum of relief.


I, like many, get tied up in horrible thoughts. About how worthless I am because of the condition, how I’m incapable of living a fulfilled life, how awful a parent I am, how terrible a spouse, how I’m not capable of working consistently on anything, how I just can’t take it anymore. And it goes on. So, on top of pain (and nausea, and light/sound sensitivity, and cognitive issues), I can find myself panicky and miserable.But, this is exactly what brain training helps with. If our thoughts run away with us, it’s our brain that’s at the wheel.


But, this is exactly what brain training helps with. If our thoughts run away with us, it’s our brain that’s at the wheel. This practice has offered up the ability to allow me to be human, and sometimes less than human. I can let myself, if not fold the towel and place it aside, throw it in and recognize the days that I need more self-care than to care for others. And it actually helps me think through ways to make that happen. It allows me to offer myself forgiveness and compassion for my weak moments, and to ask for help without self-recrimination. In a nutshell, it has offered me more freedom than I felt even before the daily chronic migraine struck.


It’s not perfect, and it took some practicing before I started to manifest forgiveness and compassion for myself. I still feel the pain (and nausea and light/sound sensitivity, and cognitive issues). But I have my life back. I can live joyfully when conditions are low enough without the thought that it will be short lived. I’ve traded in panic for peace, and terror for calm. Even in the midst of awful days, I’m still me, and I can actually see that there may be a good day on the horizon. It has allowed me to leave mere existence behind and live life more fully than I thought possible.


Kimberlee Maclean is a fellow Unchargeable who suffers from Chronic Migraine.