Signs your PMS might be something more

We all know what PMS is. It’s the butt of jokes and the bane of many women’s’ existence. But sometimes PMS isn’t really PMS at all.

It’s those typical symptoms that women can sometimes get before their period. We all know, the mood swings, the cravings, the bloating! For some women it can be on the mild side, with slight cramps and an indulgence or two in ice cream, or nothing at all(lucky!) For some, it’s on the other end and they may experience debilitating stomach pains, bloating, breast tenderness, nausea, bowel changes, a whole list of very not fun stuff. I think most women who do experience PMS probably fall in the middle. I know I did. I’d be moody for a few days, like any typical teenager, bloat a bit, crave some ice cream and my breasts would ache a bit. Despite the hope though, it never meant they were growing. Dang it. 

But as I got older, things changed. I’m not sure when it started but there were such severe symptoms that I kept thinking I was pregnant over and over again. After months of torture of am I or am I not, my husband and I agreed that there was something wrong. The poor guy looked braced for an explosion at all times and he could barely look me in the face anymore. I started looking into it and one day I found a video about PMDD(Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). It listed off 11 major symptoms that can accompany PMDD, and if you’ve got 5 or more, you’ve got it. I checked off all 11 easily.

But… how? How could I be suffering from a disorder this debilitating when I didn’t even know it existed? I felt betrayed, like this was something that should have been mentioned in health class along with PMS. “Sorry girls, PMS is a thing, but it can be worse!” A heads up would have been nice. But when I started talking about it, I discovered that most of the people around me hadn’t ever heard of it either, and that’s including a few doctors.

Woman Suffering From Depression Sitting On Bed And Crying

So, how do you know when your PMS isn’t just PMS anymore? The best thing would be to start tracking your symptoms, and pay attention to these things:

  • Increase in appetite
  • Food cravings
  • Headaches
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bloating
  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Mood swings
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty concentrating(brain fog)
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Random bouts of crying
  • Feeling out of control
  • Rage/Extreme Irritability
  • Feeling disconnected with your life
  • Anxiety
  • Hopelessness
  • Less interest in relationships/hobbies
  • Depression
  • Feeling numb
  • Suicidal thoughts/tendencies
  • Symptoms severe enough to interfere with life/work

If you need a good monthly tracker, I highly recommend the new one from ME vs PMDD. It’s free and created specifically for us who struggle with PMDD. You can also check out the C-PASS scoring system to check off whatever applies to you. I included a few more things here than are mentioned in the 5-DSM, but things that those suffering may also struggle with.

If you think that you may have PMDD, check out Gia Allemand Foundation to learn more and find resources for help. My recommendation would be to find a gynecological specialist who specializes in PMDD, a psychiatrist who specializes in women’s health, or a psychologist specializing in women’s health. Ask if the doctor is experienced in treating PMDD before booking an appointment. And be warned, they aren’t that easy to find.

Read about my bad experience with a “specialist” here.

But most importantly, if you think you might be struggling with this, know that you are not alone. What you’re feeling is real and valid and not your fault, and there is help out there. There are diets and herbs and medications that can help, even surgeries to try if you exhaust all other options. But better, there are some amazing women around to talk to. They can be found on Facebook and Twitter, ready and willing to answer any questions or commiserate with you. We may be suffering from something horrible but we are worth the effort and we will thrive.

Click here for more resources and to connect to women fighting this together.

A tiny announcement

I have been MIA for a while. Even my last post was something that was written and scheduled weeks ago and I had no hand in it the day it was published here. Life has been crazy. And this mama is definitely a hot mess. But I’ve got some crazy, exciting news! I am expecting one last little one and my family is about to get even crazier.

This means big changes, between what I can do here, and what I can handle at home. I’ll be writing more soon about what a pregnancy means for someone like me right now. But for now, thank you for everyone who reads, shares or follows. I appreciate you all and I’m excited to get to writing a bit more very soon.

What a miscarriage leaves behind

It was in between the two adorable little hooligans I have now that I had a pregnancy that did not go so great. It started and ended in such a whirlwind that I barely had time to grasp what had happened to me. One minute I was puking for no reason, then came that positive test and all of the emotion that goes with it. I was thrilled. I started off with the usual morning sickness, but then started losing it very quickly. I was getting less and less nauseous, and although it was great, it worried me. It felt wrong, but I held onto hope that things were okay.

Then my appointment finally came. I went with my husband, practically bouncing with excitement and chattering nonstop in an attempt to distract myself from my unease. But when it came time for the ultrasound, I found why things felt wrong. My baby was gone.  She should have measured at least 8 weeks, but only measured 6 and there was no movement or any heartbeat detected at all. She was just… gone. I nodded along with whatever the doctor was saying to me, as my throat closed up and my heart started to race. My eyes started welling up with tears and I was desperate to get out of that office. I practically ran out of the building to confront a massive panic attack the second I was outside.

Now I’ll be the first to admit, as far as losing a baby goes, a loss at only 8 weeks doesn’t sound nearly as bad as it could have been. I think the further along a pregnancy is, the worse the loss feels and the harder the grief. Even though this is the worst I’ve been through, I truly believe it could have been worse. But once thing you can’t deny, is that after a miscarriage, stillborn, whatever, you’re still losing a child. I had previously been one to think that an early loss wouldn’t be that bad, but there are things that I found linger long after that baby was gone.


  • Grief

Good ole grief and all its five stages of suck, and it all happened so quickly. Of course there was denial, because I swear to you I refused to believe my baby was gone until I was holding her in my hands and putting her in a little bracelet box to bury in the backyard. I told myself that the ultrasound machine was probably old and faulty. They never turned the sound on, so I didn’t not hear a heartbeat. Anything made sense to me at that point, until logic hit and it didn’t.

Then of course there’s anger, in this case it was, “Why God, why would you let this happen!” It took a toll in my marriage too. My husband was grieving in his own way, but not in a way I understood. So I got angry. I lashed out at him over and over, accused him of not caring that we lost a child, accused him of not caring that I was in pain. It wasn’t until I overheard him on the phone with a church member that that changed. I heard him say that we lost the baby, and then he just started sobbing. I’d never heard him cry like that before, and I never have since. My heart broke all over again and I hated myself for treating him the way I did. But the anger died down.

Bargaining made no sense in this scenario but I tried anyway. I begged for God to take the pain away. For me to wake up and realize it was all a horrible dream. I begged for the whole thing to have been a miraculous mistake and that I’d soon be puking again and rushing to the hospital to find that I didn’t lose my baby after all.

And of course, there was the depression. As I struggle with major depressive disorder in the first place, something like this can easily send me spiraling. All of the anger, the lashing out, the expressive sobbing, it all just stopped. I walked around numb for months, even when I found out I was pregnant again. I couldn’t bring myself to be happy about it. I couldn’t bring myself to feel anything at all.

Acceptance is the last stage of grief, but that part had to wait.

  • Guilt

First there was the feeling like I could have done something to save my baby. Then it was guilt for how I treated my husband when we were both suffering. But then I was pregnant again and guilt became my number one emotion. When I got that positive pregnancy test, I had a feeling in the back of my mind that I should be excited. I decided that I was happy about it, even though I couldn’t feel that yet. But I sure as hell felt guilty that I didn’t feel happy about it. Every step of the way, every bit of happiness that should have followed with that pregnancy was tinged with lingering grief from the baby I hadn’t given myself time to mourn. And every time I felt sad instead of excited, there was that guilt. I felt like a horrible mother for not being happy about my own baby. And it lasted until well after she was born.

Until one day, I finally reached that point of acceptance. Yes, that other baby was gone. I was never going to forget her, but I wasn’t going to let the pain take away from the one in my arms either. I think my daughter was a couple months old before I really let go and was able to really feel the whole impact of her.

  • The ghost

This was the part that I’d never heard of. But something changed that shook me to the core and over four years later, it’s still sometimes there. I’ll just be sitting in the living room watching my kids play, and out of nowhere get this overwhelming sensation that I’m missing someone. I take another look, count one, two, and for a split second, my heart asks me where the third is. My sweet babies will be playing so happy and my heart will just lash out and remind me what I’m missing. I’ll think something along the lines of, “there should be three playing here. I hate that they’ll never know their sister.” But then I remember that that would be impossible. My daughter was conceived fairly quickly after our loss. If that baby had survived, the daughter I have now would have never existed. And wishing it was possible, even for a second, brings back all of that grief, that guilt and that pain.

I’m not saying that there’s an actual ghost. I don’t even know if I believe in that stuff or not. But I never expected my heart to hold a place for a baby that I won’t know in this life. I didn’t expect it to betray me and suddenly start wondering why she’s not here. And I certainly didn’t expect the feeling to linger for so long. My heart aches and longs for someone I can’t ever see or touch. I expected it to fade, and it has, but it doesn’t stop, and it hits me like a ton of bricks every time.

  • Fear

What if it happens again? For the longest time this was just an almost harmless thought in the back of my head. But then something happens, and it shoots to the surface, menacing and terrifying. I’ve been going through this recently. Finding out I’m pregnant again, my husband immediately asked to wait for a while to tell people. “Just in case.” Of course I knew what he meant and I agreed. I wouldn’t want to announce it to the world and get all excited only to lose my baby again and have to share that with the world.

Weeks I spent counting down until I hit that second trimester, that beautiful safety net where experts agree risk of miscarriage drops dramatically. And I made it. But not without some sleepless nights and worrying my days away. Round ligament pains, nausea, absence of nausea, back aches, headaches, all the normal things you go through during that first trimester suddenly aren’t just annoyances anymore. They’re doubts and fears and torments, hinting at destruction to a fragile mama just trying to be okay. Just trying to hold on until she can feel confident that her baby is okay.


In the end, what I expected was to grieve for a while, work through it, and move on. Instead, I know now that she’ll stay with me forever. Things are different now though. I can think about her without immediately bursting into tears. I can look at her ultrasound picture and smile fondly. Hell, I can even talk about it out loud without breaking down(most of the time).

Miscarriage is so common and so often kept quiet that it’s easy to think you don’t know anyone who’s been through it. But I bet you do. I learned about family members and friends who suffered in silence, even as many as 7 times! You don’t need to be quiet about it. It may be an uncomfortable topic for some, but there are plenty of us out there(unfortunately) who have been through this too and we are happy to lend a shoulder to cry on. Whether you lost a baby at 8 weeks, 28 weeks, or gave birth to a stillborn, you still lost a baby. You are still a mom and you deserve to grieve the way you need to. Hang in there mama. It might not ever go away, but it does get better.

The diagnosis that broke me


As you may know, I’ve got a laundry list of issues. I am only 28 years old. This means that I’ve been in pain for 24 years. I’ve been depressed for 18+ years. Anxious for 25 years. Add a big ole etcetera in there because this could drag on. But I’ve always dealt with it. Not in an inspiring, healthy way I’ll admit, but I’ve survived.

Then came the winter of 2015. I was 25 years old, and I went to see an orthopedic doctor for the first time, looking for some help for my scoliosis and my pain problems. My doctor was awesome. She was a total sweetheart, very gentle and caring, and listened to everything I had to say. I got some X-rays done and she had a lot to say.  I took off my shirt so she could see my back better, and she twisted me around, poking and prodding, showing me different areas where my spine was doing things that it shouldn’t. She pointed to the X-ray, showing me where vertebrae were twisted in opposite directions, explained each area that looked different than my first(and only) X-rays from when I was a child. She asked if I had trouble breathing, and when I confirmed, explained that it’s because my entire ribcage is malformed. One side is caved in, and my lungs can’t fully expand. This entire time I’m thinking things like, ‘ok this makes sense.’ ‘Nothing I didn’t know already.’ ‘Ok this is bad but I already knew it was bad.’

One thing stuck out to me though. While she was fussing over the things that looked obviously bad, she casually mentioned that I had arthritis forming in my top curve. ARTHRITIS. The talk of spinal fusions and breathing problems quietly slipped out of my head, as this ugly word, this old persons word, just settled in the back of my mind to nag at me. When I left the office, I just sat in my car and cried. I already knew something was different. Something was bad. But arthritis? No way. I’m too young for this. I immediately mentally berated myself for thinking those words, I’m too young for this, because it’s what I’ve heard my whole life. “Your back can’t hurt, you’re too young!”

But I couldn’t help it. I was too young! It’s not fair that at such a young age, I would be dealing with a disease that old people struggle with. And look at an old persons face when they mention their arthritis. You can see the pain in their eyes. I just couldn’t help but keep thinking, this is something that’s going to cause me pain for the rest of my life.

At that point, I had only begun to feel the effects of the arthritis. I knew something was wrong because when it got cold, my back would hurt in a way that I’d never felt before. It’s not like regular lower back pain when you strain yourself. Arthritis is… foul. It almost feels sentient, like it’s got a grudge and it’s out to cause as much discomfort as possible. It was November that i got the diagnosis and it hit me hard, but I was trying to accept it. But the rest of the winter came and went and “accepting it” became a laughable option. Turns out, the worse the cold, the worse the pain is. The more time goes on, the worse it can get and the worse the pain is. More time went on and all of a sudden it wasn’t just cold that did it. If i pushed myself too hard, my arthritis would flare up. If it rained too hard, my arthritis would flare up. I quickly sank into a deep pit of depression and my thoughts were so focused on how much I hurt that I didn’t even look for a way out.


By the next winter the depression was bad enough that I was starting to wonder if I’d survive it. I tried to imagine the future, and for all the effort I put into it, I couldn’t imagine myself there. I’d never sunk quite that low before, and I knew it was time to get out. It took a long time, but I managed to start looking for help. I saw a doctor and started antidepressants for the first time, and although they were hell at first, they were a sign of hope. I started looking more into the arthritis and I realized that the phrase, I’m too young for this, really was as off as I told myself at first. I learned that there are different types of arthritis and that there are lots of people who go through something similar at my age. I read about different remedies and learned that turmeric, a simple spice, was used to reduce inflammation and pain. I started taking that, and it helped more than I imagined. I even went on a special low carb diet to try to combat something completely different, and it just so happens to be a great anti-inflammatory diet as well.

It took me a couple years in all, but my arthritis doesn’t scare me anymore. It can still get bad, despite the treatments, but I’m ok with it now. When it’s left unchecked, it’s hell. That’s not going to change. But what has changed is that it no longer has the power to break me. I had my pity party, I cried it out, and now I’m up for the challenge. Now I’m happy to tell anyone diagnosed at a young age that they aren’t alone and it’s not the end of the world. I’m a bit ashamed to admit how bad this one diagnosis hit me, but I’m determined that I will beat it.






Sunshine Blogger Award


I have committed what I’m sure is a Twitter blogger faux pas. I was nominated for the Sunshine blogger award, last month, and I’m just getting around to this now! Sorry! But I was nominated by the lovely Hannah and you can check her out here. This girl is a sweetheart who has no problem reaching out to lift someone up, even if she’s not having a good day herself. We need more people like her.


  1. Thank blogger who nominated you for the blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asks you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.


Hannah’s questions, my answers.

  • When did you start your blog and why did you start it?

Wow. I had to look! I started my blog back in March of 2016. The previous winter, I had gotten a couple new diagnoses that sent me into the worst depressive episode I’d ever seen, and it changed me. I knew that I had to start working hard to overcome all the crap I deal with, because if I didn’t, it was too easy to imagine the future without me in it. The blog was meant to be therapy.

  • Do your friends and family know you blog?

Yep! It was a bit weird at first, but then I decided to create a Facebook page for my blog, so family and friends could decide for themselves whether they wanted to see my content or not. I was nervous at first but it’s been an eye opening experience and I’m glad to have started a conversation with some of those people.

  • What is your favorite animal?

Oh gosh I think I have a different answer every time. Right now I’m just gonna say dogs cuz my dog is my buddy and I love him.

  • Have you got a bucket list? If so name 3 things on your bucket list!

I have! I want to visit Ireland, have a full spinal fusion and stand up straight(ish), and I want to eventually go to New York Comic Con. Random examples but I’ve got a ton more.

  • Which post on your blog are you most proud of?

The Sensory Hangover. It’s been shared thousands of times and has gotten people talking and understanding their children, and even themselves, a lot more. I never thought it would get so much attention but I’m glad it’s made an impact.

  • Is there a meaning to the name of your blog?

One year in my MOPS group, we named our tables silly things. My table was the hot mess mamas. It stuck in my head I guess, and between mental illness, scoliosis and PMDD I figured, well, I AM a hot mess… Why not.

  • What would you like to achieve by the end of the year?

My only goal is to make more connections because the world of bloggers is pretty amazing. There are some awesome people out there and I’d like to keep the conversation going about mental health, disability, special needs kids, parenting, all that.

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Doing pretty much the same thing, but with a garden and chickens and more school activities. Hopefully with a better handle on my health so life isn’t so overwhelming.

  • What is your dream job?

To work with wildlife in some way. I don’t even know what, but when it comes down to it, animals soothe my soul and I’d love to be surrounded by them all day.

  • What makes you happy when having a bad day?

A good drink and a good snuggle. And yeah I meant snuggle as in the innocent kind of snuggles!

  • What is your favorite time of the year?

Spring. I love watching flowers bloom, and trees burst into life again. I love seeing animals at their best and having babies and the beauty of it all is just breathtaking.


My Questions!

  1. What made you start blogging?
  2. What has your most proud moment been so far?
  3. What’s your number one blogging goal for 2018?
  4. How have your friends and family responded to your blog?
  5. If you could explain one thing that people may misunderstand about yourself or your writing, what would that be?
  6. If you could be a guest on any TV show, which one would it be?
  7. What are your favorite things to watch?
  8. What’s your favorite book?
  9. What is your Hogwarts/Ilvermorny house?
  10. If you were to write a book, what would it be about?
  11. If you could change one thing with the world, what would it be?

And I nominate…





@shmisarah th







I’ve picked you lovely people because you have under 2,000 followers and I liked your blog enough to give you a boost! Even though most(all?) of you are definitely more popular and in control of things than I am! If you’ve been nominated before don’t feel bad about ignoring this but do take it as a compliment.


“My curve is bigger than yours” and other nonsense stigmas of scoliosis

Support. No matter what you may be struggling with; mental illness, disability, chronic pain, parenting, there’s a support group for everything. When things get tough and there’s nowhere else to turn to vent, a support group centered around your specific struggle seems like a good idea. You expect empathy, understanding and comfort. Maybe even some helpful advice from people who have already been there. But sometimes, that’s not what you get.

It’s no secret that I’ve got a few issues. But I’ve noticed a big difference in the way people act within each group. With mental health issues, sufferers are quick to speak up and help someone in need. They immediately offer support, empathy and patience. They offer advice on diet, what meds to try, what kind of doctor to see. There’s no jealousy, just a bunch of people who are in pain and want to help someone else who is in pain. Most of the time anyway.

But it seems to go a bit differently when the pain is physical. I can’t speak for other chronic pain conditions, mostly because I only write about what I know, so in this instance I’m talking about scoliosis. And it is amazing to see how careless people can be. From the second someone is diagnosed, there are a million things to learn and figure out. What do you do about it? Get a brace? Have surgery? Pain medication? Physical therapy? Nothing? There are so many ways to go about it and everyone has their own opinion that they believe is right.

But scoliosis is not like a broken bone. You don’t just set it and move on with your life. Every single case is different than another, and even every individuals circumstance changes through time. I wanted to take a look at some of the ridiculous myths and stigmas surrounding scoliosis, and clear them up the best I can. And remember, everyone’s experience is different. Just because it didn’t happen to you… You get it.


  • Everyone has some form of scoliosis.

No. Everyone has some sort of curvature to their spines, yes, because our spines are not meant to be pin straight. There is supposed to be a slight curve at the neck, and there’s a nice, soft curve along your back that allows for the best movement and function. But curve does not mean scoliosis in this way. Scoliosis is when your spine curves to the side in a way it isn’t supposed to. When people say that “everyone” has scoliosis, what they really mean is that it is common.

And common does not mean it’s not a big deal. While it is definitely a common thing, most people who have it have small curves that don’t affect their life in a negative way. Most of those people will go through life with very minimal problems and it may never get much worse. There are plenty that have no idea they have scoliosis because it’s never caused them pain. Comparing those people to someone like me is where the problem is.

  •  Scoliosis does not cause pain.

I cannot tell you how much this makes my blood boil. It is truly disgusting how many people are told by professionals that scoliosis does not cause pain and that they must be doing something wrong. I have been hurting since I was four years old, and if any doctor tried telling me it had nothing to do with my scoliosis, he’d quickly find his name plastered all over the internet with his idiocy. Anyone that I’ve ever showed my Xrays to has a reaction of, “ouch! That must hurt so much!” I don’t get why so many doctors can’t understand such a simple fact.

  • A small curve isn’t a big deal.

Wrong again. Although yes, a small curve has the potential to be no big deal, every person is different. You can have two people diagnosed with a 10 degree curve in puberty, and one may grow up with no problems and only have slight pain when they get older. Meanwhile, the other will get worse, and that 10 degree curve can progress until it’s past 50 and surgery is recommended. You can’t predict how it may or may not progress so no matter how small, it is important to keep an eye on your spine if you’ve got any degree of scoliosis.

  • The larger the curve(s), the more pain you will have.

It is honestly amazing how misunderstood this one is, especially in the actual scoliosis community! Someone will come in looking for some support, post a picture of their most recent Xray and say that they are in pain. And you would not believe how many people will respond, basically with, “My curve is bigger so I’m in more pain than you.” Of course, most of the time no one says those exact words. But it’s implied. People with smaller curves get no sympathy at all, and people with large, scary looking curves get enthusiastic praise for being “so strong” and all the empathy in the world for the pain they’re going through. But I’ve lost count of how many times someone with a more severe curve than me will admit that they don’t hurt that much.

Pain doesn’t radiate at an equal rate of bigger curve=more pain. It depends on your lifestyle, your diet, your exact curve, your muscle definition, so many things! For some of us with double curves, one curve is sitting on top of the other, so even though it may be “worse” than other people, it means that instead of leaning to the side or standing up crooked, we still stand up relatively straight. And sometimes that means less pain than you’d imagine.

  • You MUST get a brace/surgery/chiropractic care.

Again this is one of those things that differs with each case. In many cases, chiropractors can help with pain enough that the person doesn’t feel they need any further treatment. In other cases, like mine, the chiropractor can be nothing but a hindrance to proper care.

Same goes for braces. Some people swear by them, some say they’re a waste of time and effort. Many studies have shown that they help prevent scoliosis from progressing, and even straighten out the curve a bit. But many others have shown that people who were braced tend to experience the same amount of problems further down the line, and need surgery just as often as those who were never braced. But these studies are still comparing completely different people with different builds, lifestyles and activity levels. It’s difficult to compare results when the subjects are so different.

And surgery. Too many people tend to think that surgery should always be done if the spine is not straight. But in fact, surgery is not always the best option. If someone’s curves are not causing them any pain, or very little pain, it’s not always the best choice. It’s easy to look at an x-ray of a scoliosis sufferer and assume they need to straighten out their spine. But in reality, many of us get through life just fine without any major interventions. Spinal fusions are no doubt life changing surgeries but they don’t usually last. Most people who go through a spinal fusion need an extra surgery at some point to fix hardware, to remove hardware, or replace it with upgraded stuff. Some people get lucky and get 10-15 years of lessened pain and feeling well until they need more intervention. But there are many cases where screws pop out, rods come undone or the body rejects a piece somewhere. It’s not an easy thing to go through and shouldn’t be done for vanity or taken lightly.

  • Scoliosis is just about your back.

Scoliosis may be a condition of the spine, but it affects all of you. A curved spine can lead to many issues that at first glance seem to be unrelated. It can affect your posture(obvious one), your breathing, balance, mental health, and add pain in countless areas. It can cause pinched nerves, lead to degenerative disks, arthritis and bone loss. It can affect your stomach and cause gastrointestinal issues. It has even been known to cause infertility in some cases. Don’t underestimate how much your spine affects your wellbeing and the workings of your entire body.


I’m sure there are plenty more things to go on about but no one wants to go through that much. The moral of it all is this: Don’t assume you know anything about what someone else is going through. I’ve dealt with scoliosis my whole life. I’ve been in pain since I was 4 years old. I dropped out of countless extracurriculars and struggled through school with bad gym grades and a horrible self esteem. I’ve got chronic pain, and I developed osteoarthritis in my spine at only 25 years old. And through the support groups that I do turn to once in a while, I’ve seen so many stories similar to mine, yet so many more that are much different. I’ve seen people with larger, scarier looking curves swear that it doesn’t cause them much pain and that they are thankful they never went through with surgery. And I’ve seen younger people, like me, with milder looking curves who seem to be having a much more difficult time than me.

So you know what? If you tell me you are in pain, I will believe you. I don’t care if your curve is 5 degrees or 95. If it hurts, it hurts. Because what hurts more is when you try to turn somewhere like a support group and all you get is doubt. When I go into a forum about mental health and say that I’m struggling, no one asks to see proof from a psychiatrist that I’ve got a real diagnosis. No one compares how long I’ve been suffering to how long they have. Yet with scoliosis, it’s “How big is your curve? Show a pic of your xray. Oh, my curve is much worse it can’t be that bad.”


In the end we are all struggling, some of us a little and some of us more than anyone can imagine. I’ve chosen to take the high road and be kind and supportive to anyone who needs it. I’ve chosen to ignore my basic thought of, “well my back is much worse,” and instead reply with, “have you tried turmeric/heating pads/tens units/etc?” Support should be encouragement, advice when and if it’s appropriate, and empathy. Let’s try to make a change. No more putting people down because they didn’t follow the same line of treatment that you swear by. No more comparing issues to win at this ridiculous game of who is in more pain. No more questioning hurting people for no reason. We are all in this together folks, let’s step it up and handle it together.

We may be bent, twisted and curvy but we are never broken.



The Pain Cycle of Scoliosis Sufferers

I’ve spent much of my life taking it easy. Not sure what made me learn to do it, but somewhere along the line it just became habit. Not to push myself very hard, not to attempt things that are overly physical, or lift things that are heavy. There have been countless times where I will pull back from something, and somewhere in the back of my head, it feels wrong. I can’t possibly be that fragile, this is stupid to be so careful.

As I got older and had kids, my life went from “let’s take it easy,” to “I’m not gonna deprive these kids of anything just because it hurts me!” But I was also creeping closer to 30 and I realized that I had lived kind of a boring life at times in an attempt to keep from hurting myself. I decided to change things up a bit, to hell with the pain. My life became a cycle of pain and accomplishment that seems never-ending. And as I’ve learned, I’m not even close to being alone in it.

The holidays are an especially easy time for chronic pain sufferers to overdo it. Thanksgiving already beat me down twice. Two different times I pushed myself, did way too much, and then paid dearly for it. I was so frustrated that I did that to myself, twice in a matter of days, and I took to Facebook to vent. Sometimes the only people who truly get it are the ones who suffer the same things you do. And the response I got, was just comment after comment of everyone exclaiming “yes! I do the same thing! Why do we do this to ourselves!”Back-Pain-During-Pregnancy.jpg

And yes, this was a special occasion. You want things to be perfect for the holidays so you go nuts. I get it. I repeated these bad choices for Christmas and a few times since the year new already. But for those of us with confused, curvy spines, it is an absolutely every day thing. I wake up to see what parts of the house are a mess, and if I feel up to it, I go to town cleaning everything I can. At the end of the day I might even feel proud of what I accomplished, but on those days, I pay for it. Because that’s when I need to take a pain reliever just to get to sleep. That’s when I wake up in pain in the morning and everything I do hurts. I get mad at myself for doing too much, and then I’m forced to relax and try to heal, doing only what is required to get through the day. Then while I’m trying to heal, chores build up, anxiety builds, and a day soon comes where I exclaim, “I can’t do this anymore!” I go on another cleaning spree, never actually getting everything done, and again, I have to stop. I might even repeat it the next day, making my already hurting body so much worse. The house will look okay, but I can be found crying on the couch with a heating pad, a massager or a tens unit, popping pain relievers and having another pity party. But I can’t seem to stop doing it.

When you struggle with constant pain, finding a happy medium is either ridiculously difficult, or downright impossible. It’s a choice between staying at a 6 pain wise to attempt to keep up every day (and never actually get everything done), or take care of yourself so you can actually feel okay for a few days, and then just deal with a 9 or 10 for a day or so. You probably get the same amount done, but at least this way you might get a few good days in between. Neither choice is ideal for you or anyone else. It feels like you can’t win.

So if you ever come to my home and I tell you, “Sorry about the mess,” I mean it. I really do hate that I can’t have a Pinterest worthy home. I hate that I can’t seem to keep up in a way that won’t aggravate my husbands OCD. I hate that the simplest things need to be planned out instead of just done.  And I hate that although I’m doing my best, I feel constant guilt that I can’t do more. That I can’t be more, and that my pain holds me back from so much. And that I will continue to do this to myself, over and over again.



Keep the pictures

So I’ve been working on the blog, trying to make it look like a 10 year old didn’t design it, and I wanted to see if I had a good picture of my own that I could use for a header. I decided to click through my photos on Facebook to search. Instead of finding that picture perfect header, it turned into a half hour of clicking through old photos, reminiscing about old times and smiling so much that I’ve given myself a headache.

There was something that I couldn’t help noticing. Through all the pictures I looked through, I remember considering deleting so many of them for the silliest reason. I didn’t think I looked very good. We all want to look good in our own pictures, and I totally get that. But sometimes you’ve got to look wayyyyy past that.

I’ve got old photos of my youth group days and most of those people look so different now. We’ve all grown so much, and honestly, grown into ourselves, and it would be so easy to say, “I didn’t look good in this pic. I’m just gonna delete…”

Don’t do it!

In all those pictures that I was criticizing my own appearance, there were so many other things going on. In some, a friend was in the picture and they had the biggest smile on their face. In others, it brought up memories that I’d never wanna forget. Others still were just awash with nostalgia and impossible to trash. There are even old friends in some that I fell out with years ago, and there might be a bit of resentment there, but looking at those pictures doesn’t bring that up. It only shows how happy we were back then, and looking back helps to soften any hurt feelings that might still be lingering.

There were family members looking great who aren’t so healthy now and don’t smile much anymore. There were old friends who we haven’t seen in years. There were even memories of, “holy crap I forgot that I was ever thin!” And of course, there were the new parent pictures that I kind of hated at the time. I always thought I looked too big, or too tired, too something. But I don’t care anymore.

I’m no supermodel. Most of my pics, new or old, I’ve got a bit of a gut because my scoliosis has taken away my waist. I’m Irish and English and it’s impossible for me to keep a tan, so most of my pics I look like a ghost. Many pics that I wanted to be perfect weren’t because my glasses were broken. I’m extremely unphotogenic and many more photos have me blinking or making an awkward face or, whatever.

But my point, is that despite how I used to feel about my appearance in these pictures, I looked at them today and I smiled. I even got a little teary eyed.

So let this be a lesson. Take the picture with your friends, with your kids. With your spouse! Who cares if you didn’t have time to put makeup on? Or if you think you look tired or you think you need to lose weight first. Life won’t wait for you to put on your makeup. Life won’t wait for you to lose weight or get a tan or look your best. Life is happening, right here, right now, and I intend on capturing it. Makeup or not, sleepy mom eyes or not. My kids wanna look back on pictures and see their mama, and I wanna look back and see us all together. And now, I’ve got a new lifelong resolution.

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Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time

I finally did it. The thing I’ve been telling myself and my family that I needed to do for years. I finally saw a psychiatrist, and I’ve been diagnosed with the alphabet.

I’m not sure how I imagined that visit would go, but it was easier and a lot less terrifying than I thought it would be. He asked a million questions, and patiently listened to the answers. He showed compassion in how he spoke, but not so much that I felt like he was pitying me. When more and more things piled on, he didn’t act surprised or overwhelmed or whatever I might have expected. He just did his job. He listened to me without doubting anything I was saying and it felt so good for a professional to do that.

The visit flew by quicker than I thought it would and he calmly explained what he thinks I’ve got going on. I already knew a few of these, but I wasn’t exactly prepared to hear it out loud.

MDD (Major Depressive Disorder)
PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder)
ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)
GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)
Panic Disorder
Social Anxiety
Agoraphobia(totally forgot about that one at first.)
and possible OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)


While it was a bit of a punch to the gut to hear it all out loud, it was also a huge relief. My worst fear going in was that I was going to pour my heart out only to be told that it was all in my head and there was nothing wrong with me. I think logically I knew that there was no way that was going to happen, but I was terrified. Hearing a professional say out loud that I was right in every single thing I suspected not only made me feel heard, but it validated how I’ve been feeling my whole life.

It’s like every time someone doubted me, my feelings, my panic attacks or my depressive episodes, my mind washed over all of those memories. They used to all be filled with doubt, because what if they’re right? What if I’m just overreacting? What if it’s just all in my head and I’m fine and this is how life is supposed to be? Now each doubt feels weaker. Each wave of despair at not being taken seriously, lifted just a bit because someone finally listened. And believed me.

So now I’ve finally got what I need to move forward. He explained that finding the right treatments would take time, that it would be a long process but he was confident that we’d figure it out together. He did recommend that I start seeing a therapist, and we will talk about that soon. When it came time to talk about medication, he asked what I’ve tried so far, what worked and what didn’t. When I told him what I’m currently on, he agreed that if it was working, then we’d keep it. He explained that even though it didn’t help enough with the depression, it was a great choice for me because it can also greatly help with the ADD. He then gave me a script for an anti-anxiety medication for me to use only when I feel like I need it, and so far it has been okay. He recommended another antidepressant to add because of how well it can work with the one I’m already on. And proving again that he was listening, he told me that it wouldn’t cause weight gain like the first ones I tried did, and that he was going to start me off slowly since I had such bad reactions before.

So I left his office with samples, a script and a renewed sense of hope that maybe this could work. I do hope one day that I can handle all this without medication, or at least at a minimal level. But right now, that’s not the point. Right now, I just need to be okay. I need to be the wife that my husband needs, the mother that my kids need and I need the person that I’ve always thought I could be but could never reach. I’m done with the pride, I’m done with the stigma, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m only hanging on with the help of prescriptions. Because this is what I need right now, and I’m glad that I’ve finally taken that step.

And good timing too, because 2018 is right around the corner and I am going to make it as good as I possibly can.


Why church does not help my anxiety

It’s been 15 years since I had my first panic attack. I was thirteen years old, walking through Kohls with my mom. It was a normal day, my mother and I were joking around while we shopped, and I felt fine. Then out of nowhere I started feeling abnormally anxious, sick, like something horrible was about to happen. My vision started to blur, my throat started closing up and my eyes started welling up with tears. I didn’t know what in the world was happening, I was terrified and my first reaction was to try desperately to hide. I started to pretend I was looking at some clothes, and fell back while my mom kept walking, my heart pounding harder and harder. But it got more intense, the horrible “something horrible is going to happen” feeling started weighing on me and I was hyperventilating. As soon as my mother turned around and saw me, I started sobbing. She rushed over and tried to comfort me, asking over and over again what was wrong. But I didn’t know. Neither of us knew what had happened.

That first attack was horrible, because it was the first. But as time went on, it’s like the more practice my body got, the better it got at having an attack. They would be stronger, longer and more frequent. And eventually would be triggered by things around me. Too much stress, the possibility of any sort on confrontation, needing to speak in front of the class! And, unfortunately, church.


Not church itself, but the music. I loved praise and worship. I loved to sing, I loved the peaceful feeling it gave me, and I loved trying to discreetly sing along with my friends mother who belted out songs like she was auditioning for American Idol. But my heart, my anxiety, whatever, couldn’t handle it anymore. It’s a small church. Meaning wherever you’re sitting, it’s close to a speaker. And this isn’t an organ playing church, or a silent hymnal singing church. This is a loud, full band, the pastor plays an electric guitar, kind of church. But the volume and the vibrations from the overhead speakers became ammunition for my fragile mind to throw itself into another attack. And for years, it happened almost every week.

I’d be standing in service, in a spot close to the back in case I needed to run, quietly singing along and internally bracing myself for the inevitable. The more I thought about it, the more likely it was to happen. Then I’d feel it. Anxiety starts rising, heart starts going faster and I’d start to feel flushed. Music is still playing in the background, but now I can’t hear it. I’m totally focused on controlling myself. My whole body tenses up as the anxiety levels rise, and my throat starts constricting as if something terrible is about to happen. My heart is now racing and I’m feeling nauseous. It’s only been a minute but it’s already too much and the floodgates break. Tears start streaming before I even realize it.

No, I can do this. Hold it back, hold it back. Lots of people cry in church, no one will notice this is different. Oh God, I’m dying. Why are you letting this happen? Hold it back. Hold it back. 

I can’t hold it back. Once my body starts shaking with sobs I always run. In the bathroom, or straight outside, wherever I can go to hide and ride it out alone. The minutes bleed together in a rush of shaking, sobbing, hyperventilating anxiety until I lose track of time. And finally, the sobs die down and I can stop the tears. I sit on the floor and concentrate on breathing again.

Ok, it’s over. I’m okay. I’m okay. Oh God, I’m tired. I’m okay. It’s over.

Finally, I can stand up and wipe away the makeup that’s now ruined, and I’ve got no energy left to fix it. It’s finally over but the shaking continues. I was sweating a bit from the attack, and now that I’m calm, I’m freezing. My throat is taking it’s time opening up again and will now hurt the rest of the day. And all of a sudden, I’m exhausted.


When I go back into service, my husband will give me an encouraging, knowing smile, put his arm around me and kiss me on the forehead. All I want to do at this point is lean into him and fall asleep. By the way, my husband doesn’t get up to follow me because he learned a long time ago I need to be alone. If anyone tries to comfort me, the sobbing last a lot longer and it takes forever to calm me down. I’m not upset for a rational reason, so comfort doesn’t help. So even though my only desire is to go sleep it off, I can’t do that. I’m in church and I’ve already missed the first twenty minutes of todays sermon. I need to stay awake. The rest of the service is always the same. The pastor continues his sermon, my husband sits there nodding along, and I’m trying my hardest to stay awake. I usually fail.

Once service is over, I don’t want to socialize, I don’t want to make plans with anyone. All I want to do is go home and sleep off the horrible wrongness holding me by the throat that won’t go away.

I’ve tried going up to alter calls for prayer. I’ve tried allowing my name to be put in the bulletin, or on the church prayer chain so the congregation always has me on their mind. I’ve tried healing services. I’ve tried staying inside during a panic attack and allowing someone to attempt to calm me down. Just guess how much any of that has ever helped.

Alter calls make me feel sick because I can’t stand being the center of attention. Prayer chains are awesome, except when people come up to me asking if I’ve been healed yet. Every time I tell them no, I feel guilty, like it’s my fault I haven’t received a supernatural healing. I’ve already explained that allowing someone to be there with me during an attack only makes it worse. And healing services? The church does not understand mental illness and doesn’t know how to handle it. Healing services were all the same. I’d be put in front of everyone again and have someone pray over me, but this time everyone else would join in, either laying hands on me directly(which I wouldn’t mind if I didn’t also have back problems that made it painful to stand like that) or stretching their hands out from all over the room. And even on a good day, I’d feel the anxiety building up inside of me from the overwhelming attention and expectation on me. And it would end with the speaker prodding at me, trying to get me to tell them I felt better. I didn’t. And now I’d be enduring weeks of people telling me, “just keep praying, it’s only in your head, God will heal you.”

After years of the same things over and over again, I eventually flipped out on my mother and forbid her from doing anything else. No more talking about it. No more prayer chains or healing services. God doesn’t want to heal me, I’m done. It’s only years later that I can understand how much I must have hurt her. She was only trying to help in the only way she knew how. But I couldn’t help it. I was hurting so much and the very idea of church had become so anxiety inducing that I was questioning everything. The first seed of anger was planted and I shut down, no longer willing to admit I had any problems any more. And no longer willing to pray about it either. All I had heard from God was silence and all I felt was abandonment.

98664b3a9b8da216e65a1c5ab9cb0a7d.jpgIt’s been years since I put a stop to any kind of help from the church. I still go every week, and I haven’t turned away from God. But things are different now. My anxiety ruined church for me, and even now that my family has started attending elsewhere, things remain the same. Now I’m on a medication that can sometimes keep an attack at bay, as long as I don’t drink too much coffee before service. But that seed of anger that was planted all those years ago, it grew. It was watered by the depression that was never healed, by my unnamed issues with life I still haven’t received a diagnosis for, and then for pmdd that developed after I had kids.

My hope is that one day I can get past all this. That I can figure out a reason that God would allow all these things to happen to me. That I can work through the anxiety so I can truly enjoy church again. I’m still angry at God. But it’s almost like that feeling after an argument. Like you’ve gotten out all the horrible things you had to say, and now you feel a bit better and maybe you can start to forgive. I have no shame in admitting that because lying and saying I’m fine helps no one. Especially me.