Languid

Perhaps the most recurrent theme of this depression cycle is ‘searching’. I craved to be alone most of the time to listen to music, to write down thoughts, and to embrace all the privacy I can get. I knew that my way out isn’t through the help of people this time.

Somewhere along this year, I lost my sense of self. I lost a part of my identity in my fight to be alive.  I became someone’s advocate, another’s girlfriend, a daughter, a friend, a patient etc. But all these did not mesh together well. I did not know the sum of my parts.  I ended up being more broken.

As such, I’m using this restlessness to provoke me to do self-care and to feel something, anything, as me for me. To find out once again what I like, what I love. To find why I’m trying so hard to have more time here. To search who I want to become.

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Youth (is yours? Jk)

Hola, interwebs! 🙂

Recently, I’ve had the random realization that I don’t want to marry nor to have my own family in my twenties. It’s not just a sudden thought or decision that has no foundation underneath it. It’s because I think I haven’t fully enjoyed my youth. With my past childhood trauma and my health going haywire right after my university graduation, you can bet the I spent most of my puberty and teens either crying my butt off or trying not to get hospitalized (yet again).

I’ve been composing, writing, crafting, and fangirling (BANGTAN SONYEONDAN!) my days while slowly recovering since last week. I’m surrounded with the type of quiet I love and even in the midst of my depression cycle, I can say I’m having “fun”. And I want more days like these (minus the depression).

This is not to say that I am awfully discontented with how my life is going. I’m not. I’m making peace with what I have and trying to make the best out of it.  It’s just that there are adventures I’ve yet to take and I’d rather go alone.

On Weight

Hiya, interwebs. It’s been a month since I blogged BUT I’m here now. Today, I’ll be talking about weight.

Ever since I was born, my built is not skewed towards the skinny type. I was just okay, appearance-wise, and I never became obese.  Still, I got called fatty all my life. It used to upset me so much that I never upload whole body pictures of me unless I thought I looked thin in them. I was so afraid of the judgments and comments.

When I became sicker, this insecurity came rearing back from the dead. My weight fluctuated a lot because of my medicines (and now because of my gastrointestinal illnesses. My illness count is now at 9.)  In fact, an acquaintance told me that “I look “healthy” aka chubby for someone who is seriously sick.” It was a hard slap of reality on the face…

…because F*CK beauty standards. Weight does not judge someone’s beauty. I’ve had enough. No more. 

Looking back, I thought there was something wrong with me. I didn’t look like the models and the artists I saw on TV, IG, and other media. I wasn’t size 2 or 4. At my skinniest, I was a size 6 or 8 due to my health condition. I remember getting compliments about it and thinking that the society must be shitting me. I was in pain and yet I get praised for it?!

 

So, to the people reading this blog, please remember:
Your worth as a person can’t be weighed on a numbered weighing scale. Do not based your values on society’s norms because society sets up some rules that are wrong anyway. If there is something you should care about regarding weight, it should be your BMI.

You are more than numbers. 
We aspire for healthy. 
Your worth is inherent.
You deserve to be loved – your body, your heart, your mind – all of you. 
You are beautiful. 

Some Travel Advice (Japan Trip Part Two)

Hello, fellow earthlings! As promised, here is the part two of my Japan travel blog post. Let’s start with this vlog I released days ago:

(click this and come back here, plox)

And now for the tips:

  • Consult your doctors if you are fit to travel to your destination of choice. You need to check your stats and to know how to best manage your treatments while you are away.
  • Travel with someone who knows your medical history thoroughly. It’s better if he/she is your primary care.
  • Research your destination! See if they have the facilities and spaces that are suited with your needs.
  • Stock on all of your medical supplies! Make sure you have a ~little~ more than what you need.
  • As much as possible, travel as light as you can. (I know this is hard.)
  • Write your things-to-do on post-its, etc. We don’t want brain fog to strike us hard, right?
  • Have plans of action to medical scenarios that might happen. It’s better to be prepared at all times.
  • REST. REST. REST a lot days before your travel. You need your energy when you sight-see and experience the places!
  • HAVE FUN. Traveling is a privilege for us warriors. Once our health permits us, we gotta take advantage (with caution). 😉

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Brand New Step

One of my greatest fears ever since I got sick is my future prospects as a chronically ill /PWD person in this country. I’ve been wanting to talk about transcending chronic illnesses and working on something meaningful in life. But I didn’t know how. This is why it’s been taking me such a long time to write something here again.

Until I read about Claire Wineland, her clairity project and Claire space foundation. She’s been battling cystic fibrosis since childhood. Then, I discovered Jaquie Beckwith and her service dog, Harlow. Through her IG posts and vlogs, she’s been documenting how she lives daily with multiple illnesses. I wondered what makes them tick.

A eureka moment led me to believe that they are not only embracing their vulnerabilities but also keeping an open mind on gambling on life. As what one of my favorite researchers said, they have “character…the ability to dig down and find the strength when things are going against you.” They are working with their limits to go higher and to expand their boundaries. They connect with people; they are not doing this alone. I realized I’ve been taking risks half-baked because I was letting fear overwhelm me. When I created this blog, I had a vision of it primarily being a space where people can reclaim their own stories as I reclaim mine. However, I was letting fear hamper me on touching on some issues.

Where do we go from here? Now that I have a handle on my present reality, I will consciously and courageously throw my chips. No more mediocre commitment. I’ll share whatever I can about my journey and push to transcend awareness of multiple chronic illnesses into actions through 1)  writing, vlogging, and photographing to stop the stigma of chronically ill people NOT having a “life”; 2) stop the stigma against mental illnesses because hey, we are not what the common stereotypes depict; and 3) discussing the intersectionality of the issues the chronically ill face.

Please look forward to my future content here and at my youtube channel, Chelly Caritativo. I need your hands to make this happen! If there is any way we can collaborate, shoot me an email or simply message me here.

My FIRST youtube video will be out very soon! I’ll post the details asap. EXCITING!!!!

 

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P.S. The part two post of my Japan trip will be posted soon. I’m a woman of my word; sorry for the delay. Hospital admissions got in the way. 🙂

Japan Trip (Part 1)

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This trip should have happened back in October 2015. Unfortunately, I got hospitalized. The plan was pushed back and back because of my sister’s busy clerkship schedule (She’s a medical student!) and my unstable health.

Fortunately, this year, my mom started planning this trip again because I was gaining more ground on managing my symptoms and my sister was informed she’ll have a two-week vacation.

Fast track to the the first week of May. Everything was coming together – we had our visas granted, booked our tickets, and chose major places to visit. However, my health started to decline. Because my current mix of medicines then, I began to experience my second major fibromyalgia flare. My neck, back, hips, knees, and calves were burning almost everyday. I cannot walk beyond 15 mins nor I can stand for that long. My TMJ flared too. The stress of my heavy academic requirements amplified it.

As such, my parents and I consulted my psychiatrist and rheumatologist. They told us that there must be an improvement every week before they grant me a travel clearance. Thus they gave a new mix of medicines, upping 8 pills to 11 on a moderately bad day.

Thankfully, the pain lessened. And so, they gave me clearance provided that I will take a wheelchair in the airports, the amusement parks and other tourist spots. After all, I was still in flare albeit at the *hopefully* tail end.

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The first three days had me feeling okay for most of the time. The streets, transportation, buildings, and parks of Tokyo were a thousand times more PWD-friendly than my own home city in the Philippines.  This definitely lessened my stress and worries. It was easy asking for wheelchair assistance because the people were very accommodating. Shoutout to Disneyland for having priority seats during shows and views during parades! Visit my photography portfolio here for more photos 🙂

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Stay tuned for part 2 wherein I will share some travel tips for chronic illnesses sufferers!

 

 

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day!

Fibromyalgia

May 12 is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day! Not a lot of people know about it, and there are a few research studies on it compared to other conditions. I haven’t encountered any NGO or organization that specifically spreads information about it here in the Philippines. As such, in the spirit of  ~celebration~ and advocacy, I will list down some facts facts + my coping practices 🙂

Fibromyalgia Fast-Facts 

  • It is a chronic, non-progressive disorder that manifests through musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, memory, sleep, and mood issues
  • There are a lot of co-morbid disorders that may come along with it including irritable bowel syndrome, depression, TMJ, and migraine
  • Causes are not exactly known although researchers have pointed out these factors :
    • Genetics
    • Physical or emotional trauma
    • Infections
  • Symptoms may vary from patient to patient. These include:
    • Widespread pain
    • Hyperalgesia or extreme sensitivity to pain
    • Allodynia or triggering of pain response to usually/commonly not a painful stimuli
    • Stiffness
    • Fatigue
    • Fibro-fog or memory issues
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Currently, there is no cure for it. What doctors primarily do is to manage the symptoms for patients to live life as less painful as possible.
  • In the Philippines, it is also referred to as soft-tissue rheumatism.

Self-Care Practices

  • Avoid any triggers. I know fibro flares can sometimes spark without reason (hardyharhar, the human body is a mystery) but I notice that when I expose myself to some things, my chances of having flares go higher. And so, if I have the ability to avoid them altogether, I do.
  • Always have to-do lists. My memory has been especially affected by the cognitive issues fibromyalgia causes. To manage this, I learned to write to-do lists everyday so the chances of forgetting/not getting a thing done is slimmer.
  • Rest, rest, rest after a hectic day…or half-day. My family and friends know that I cannot go out and do a lot of activities like normal, healthy people can. So, after a hectic day, they let me retreat to my room and relax my aching body.
  • EXERCISE. My physiatrist prescribed a list of exercises I can do to combat the stiffness and aching of my muscles. I cycle four and do some stretching four to five times a week.
  • Use walking device when needed. I used to feel bad about having a cane and a walker but now, I understand that I need them when my body feels too weak to walk. No more self-pity.

Hope this post helps!


Resources:

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017, May 02). Fibromyalgia. Retrieved May 11, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/symptoms-causes/dxc-20317796

NHS. (n.d.). Fibromyalgia – Symptoms. Retrieved May 11, 2017, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Fibromyalgia/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

SY, D. G. (n.d.). Fibromyalgia (Soft-tissue rheumatism). Retrieved May 11, 2017, from http://www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph/index.php/news/library-health-news/1366-fibromyalgia-soft-tissue-rheumatism