Saturday, March 8, 2014

Time for Another List

I'll be honest - it's been a rough few months.  

The job I loved so much disappeared when my company restructured, and it's been a lot harder to find a new job than I thought it would be.  My body has been ... uncooperative, to say the least, as not only is the Fibromyalgia acting up to leave me exhausted and in pain 24/7, but a recent fall left me with a sprained wrist, and recent lab results are concerning the doctors enough to send me to another specialist.  As if that weren't enough, I have to temporarily hold a few of the medications I'm on (one because of those lab results, two more in preparation for a procedure), so the Rheumatoid Arthritis and GERD symptoms are getting worse day by day.  Thanks to a couple of the meds I'm still on, I'm now heavier than I've ever been in my life (or ever thought I would be).  Any one of these things would be enough to send someone into a depression ... with all of them (and more) happening at once, I'm doing my best to hold it together.

A while back when I was going through a rough time, a friend suggested that to help me focus on the positive, I should make a list of things that made me smile.  I took her advice, and the list was not only fun and helpful, but it was surprisingly easy to do.  It really lifted my spirits, and I decided it was something I'd do more often.  It's been a while, but it's definitely time to make another list.

No matter how bad things get, there is always something to be happy about.  As I share my list with all of you, I encourage you to think about your own ... and share your thoughts below!

10 Reasons to Keep My Smile Going
  • My hubby.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I've adored him since I was a child, and for good reason.  Through these extra challenging times, he has been so supportive and caring, always there with a hug, a joke, or an encouraging word when I need him (and I need him a lot).  I honestly could not get through this without him.
  • My mom.  Anyone who knows her knows how much she cares, and how she'd do anything for her baby (yes, at almost 40, I'm still her baby).  While she may not be able to take the physical pain away, this is definitely a time when little things (like bringing me a ginger beer and a hug) mean a lot. 
  • Blogs written by other people with chronic (often invisible) illnesses.  Whether strictly informative or more entertaining, they offer another perspective on our shared experience.  My most recent fun find is Jessica Gimeno's Fashionably Ill, a blog about "surviving pain with style and humor."  Not only did it make me smile - it inspired me to write this piece!
  • Doctors who care.  For years, as if suffering from debilitating pain wasn't enough, I was disregarded and dismissed by doctor after doctor who couldn't figure out what was wrong, so they declared that it was nothing.  Now, I've got a group of doctors who listen and believe me, and care enough to keep trying until we can get everything better managed.
  • New opportunities.  While it is surely disappointing to get rejected after an interview (or to not even get called for an interview in the first place), what is encouraging is that every week - every day, in fact - when I check the various job search and organization websites, there are new postings that seem interesting.  So while a few have passed that I was really hoping would come through, I still believe that the right job is out there, and either I'll find it or it will find me.  
  • People praying for me.  I have never been religious; I don't know if I've ever actually prayed in my life.  It's just not me, not who I am or how I was raised.  That said, I can appreciate that prayer is very important to a lot of people.  When people tell me that they are praying for me - whether for improved health, success in my job search, or just overall in life - I understand how much that means to them, and that it is coming from a good place ... and I am grateful.
  • People taking action to help.  Over the past few months, a few people have gone above and beyond to help where they could: letting me know about an unpublished job opening, making an introduction, writing a recommendation.  Even if things didn't work out (yet), it still means a lot that they would speak up on my behalf.
  • Facebook groups and pages dedicated to my illnesses.  While reading other blogs is often educational and entertaining, these pages offer a more interactive experience.  They provide a place to laugh, to cry, to vent ... with people who know how you feel because they are going through it themselves.  The others on the page may have advice from their own experiences, or they may just be able to say "yeah, me too."  While I hate to see other people suffer, it does help to know I'm not alone.
  • Volunteer-driven organizations like AF, IFAA, and more.  As a life-long volunteer, I was raised to believe that we can make a difference.  I've always done (and will continue to do) whatever I can to help those in need.  Now that I'm on the other side of things, it feels good to know that organizations like Arthritis Foundation and International Foundation for Autoimmune Arthritis are doing what they can to help people like me.  (In fact, you can help me help them help me by supporting my participation at the upcoming Walk to Cure Arthritis - visit my page to join my team or make a donation!)
  • I still have hope.  I'm not sure if this is a separate item or just the result of the previous 9, but it definitely warrants mentioning.  I still have hope that I will find a good job - one that will enable me to do well by doing good.  I still have hope that - though there is no cure at this time - my doctors and I will find the right balance of medication and lifestyle changes to help keep my pain to a manageable level.  I still have hope that things will work out for the best in all areas of my life, even if I don't know the details of what that means.  I still have hope.

**If you like what you read, tell a friend.  In fact, tell me too - post a comment below!
If you don't ... well ... I'm all for honesty, but ... please be gentle!