Simplifying Guilt

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Originally posted on Autoimmune Sisters – reposted here for sharing.
Learn more about Autoimmune Sisters here.

As I thought about the topic of “Simplify,” and how to ultimately live a more simple existence, I was immediately brought back to the first few years of my autoimmune life. Not that I don’t continue to work on this every day, but my initial few years were full of so much growth and getting rid of too much guilt.

A New Normal

There’s one thing that is a constant when you talk to individuals who deal with chronic illness or autoimmune diseases: their lives got flipped, turned upside down (where my Fresh Prince fans at!?) In dealing with autoimmunity, you are forced to embrace a “new normal” whether that includes physical limitations, a different routine, new medications, or a mixture of everything. That new normal can become a strong negative or a strong positive in your life depending on how you look at it, and depending on if you allow yourself the growth and introspective work.

image with letter board laying flat - words on letterboard say "self care isn't selfish"

It may feel like you find yourself constantly comparing your autoimmune situation to your “old life.” But what good is that doing to your mental health? I can guarantee very little. There are a lot of things in your control with autoimmunity, but there are just as many out of your control that you have to let go. There is nothing better than learning how to simplify your life or your day to day routine in order to better manage your symptoms, or even to better leave room for an unknown flare-up.

The Surprising Side Effect

I hate to give you another side effect of autoimmune diseases since we spend many of our days dealing with the side effects of symptoms, medications, or both. However, this one might not be something that you are consciously aware is creeping into the picture.

I present to you: GUILT

When your friends ask you to head out to a concert or a night on the town, but your fatigue and pain make it impossible to be able to or want to go. And you know you should exercise more but your energy levels are next to depleted. When you made plans weeks ago, but the day is here and you just can’t bring yourself to make the effort.

angry sticky notes in a circle looking at the sticky note in the middle who is concerned

By the time I noticed that I wasn’t able to do every single thing or attend every single event as much as I was able to do beforehand, I didn’t expect to feel the level of guilt that I felt in saying no, or rescheduling. You feel like you are a burden, or that you might lose your friends, or what if they stop asking? I won’t tell you that could never happen, but if some of the people in your life do stop asking, they weren’t your real friends in the first place.

Simplify Your Guilt

Guess what? None of that matters. What matters as the #1 in your life is your health and wellbeing. After almost a decade of dealing with multiple autoimmune diseases, one of the best things I’ve put into practice is the idea of simplifying my priorities and simplifying my guilt. Sure – there are still times that I want to do more and my body just doesn’t want to let me. However, the fact that I’ve been able to simplify what is the most important to me (my husband, my career, sleep, self-care) has also allowed me to cut myself some slack in the guilt department.

For the majority of my days (because no one is perfect), I no longer feel guilty rescheduling or turning something down because I’ve weighed the impact and the priority for my life. That’s not to say I always say no, or I don’t ignore all my body’s warning signs sometimes, but those days are fewer and farther between because I have learned what my physical and mental health needs to not only survive, but thrive.

I encourage you to spend time reflecting on what your simple priorities are in life – what not only fosters growth, but also fosters healthy body and mind? Once you’ve identified these for yourself – repeat a mantra every day to not feel guilty for anything that negatively impacts those priorities or anything that will prevent you from the stability autoimmune diseases demand. ❤️

You still look so pretty

I’ve been thinking about writing a post like this for months — maybe for over a year, if I’m honest. But if I’m an open book on pretty much everything in my life, my own personal body image and situation equates to that book’s smallest font-size footnote written in some lost language of the world; in other words, I never talk about it.

My Juxtaposition

In my head, I fight between two different, but strong as hell, points of view —>

On one hand: I’m at my heaviest and I’ve never been more self-conscious, depressed, and down about that fact.

On the other hand: I want to embrace beauty that is way more than skin deep, live the mindset that I wholeheartedly believe in that curvy is amazingly beautiful, be confident (especially when my weight is due to a health and medication issue), and stick my middle finger up to family, friends, acquaintances, and society who say “it’s okay, you’re still pretty even though ____.”

It’s so hard to vehemently believe and live in both sides of that brain, but that’s where I am today. I look at some of my favorite body positive accounts on Instagram that I adore and I envy their frame of mind sometimes.

All of this is not to say that I don’t desperately want and need to lose weight for my health and well-being, both physically and mentally. I do, and I continue to try my hardest every day to do so. But I also envy the confidence and comfortability I see in some of those women. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m only seeing 10% of their lives through Instagram, and everyone has bad days or bad thoughts, or times when they are hard on themselves. I also know I need to give myself more grace. I just think that I fail to do that more often than not…

My Favorite Body+ Accounts

As a brief tangent on this post, I really want to share some of my favorite body positive accounts on Instagram – these women are unbelievably beautiful inside and out.

Our Skewed Health System

The thing about body positivity and our society is that we tend to talk out of both sides of our mouth. We want to embrace all types of bodies, feel confident and beautiful in our own skin. But then we live in a world where it’s as if you should have self-confidence if you are plus size, but you should be working to lose weight and be thinner at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, frankly the only thing we should be worried about with differing body types and weight is the health behind it.

However, let’s bring in the health behind it. For the most part, a healthy weight (notice I said healthy weight, not being skinny or thin) is what helps our bodies fight off disease, live longer, have more day to day energy and wellness, etc. But the key with that is that having those positive and necessary health benefits doesn’t mean you have to be super skinny. There are plenty of larger body types that are healthy as a horse – so we know that society plays a large role in this. Another huge disadvantage is the way in which we measure healthy weight – the BMI scale. If you talk to any modern, forward-thinking physician, they will recognize how flawed the BMI scale tends to be. However, we fail to have a solid replacement, and we fail to train our health systems and societies and physicians to think more inclusively. BMI scales are horrific indicators of health – they almost never translate to true healthy living/bodies; Nevertheless, we fail to move away from them at the same time.

The Daily Mind-Eff

So where does that leave us/me? This is seriously my daily struggle. I am confident in myself and I have a husband who adores me and absolutely thinks I’m beautiful on the outside and the inside. However, I am not what I want to be physically. I don’t have a goal to get back to before I was on steroids and ended up with all of this extra weight – I just have a goal of better health and a better view of my body. With all of my health issues, weight loss is one of the hardest things for my body to accomplish – my immune system and metabolism have failed to function properly for years. So the struggle is real – it is SLOW, and the fluctuation can be maddening. But the acceptance I have to have is of that “slow and steady wins the race” turtle.

Oof guys – as you can see, I almost talk out of both sides of my mouth personally on this issue and I’m all over the place. It can be such a mindfuck to have my brain feel both of these things SO vehemently. I think there is space for both of these viewpoints (body positivity and acceptance of who you are + weightloss and healthier goals) – I just think it’s extremely confusing while you’re living within it. What do you think – How do we balance these two frames of mind in our world today?

xoxo,

Chronically Kristin

Going through the motions

I think I’ve addressed a lot of this before when I talked about how COVID-19 was impacting my mental health and how the lengths I’ve had to take physically, and for my physical health, have subsequently played a large role in the level of positivity and negativity of my mental health as well. Nevertheless, a few months later, I was unaware how very large a role the world around me would play in my mental capacity to be connected and engaged to what is going on. I think the biggest thing has been trying to take everything in, to be connected and informed and educated, but to take everything in stride and doses to protect my mental health.

Between COVID-19, the political climate, social issues, work/life balance, personal body confidence issues, our upcoming personal goals, outside family issues, etc., it’s just been a lot. A LOT. And it’s not all bad, it’s not all good. Some of it just is. But the one thing all of it has in common is that it is all taking a lot out of me; it’s all taking a lot of energy and mental capacity. There has been so much talk and comradery on Instagram about self-love, self-care, and recognizing that the state of the world is something that we need to recognize as a hard thing. We have to give ourselves grace for the state in which society finds itself today; the anger, the sadness; the complete ludicrous idiocy. But it’s easier said than done. I’ve been trying to adopt this mindset lately – with how self-aware I have always been about my mental health, I am trying to just exist and balance.

Juxtaposition

The juxtaposition here comes when you want to adopt this mindset of giving yourself grace and taking a break from being overly engaged in everything – but at the same time, i’m recognizing that there is a part of this that might mean that I’m just going through the motions of my life right now. Is that a bad thing? Probably yes and no.

I am aware of my mental health fluxuations and tendencies enough to know that I can tend to withdraw quite a bit when I am in the ebbs and flows of depression and anxiety. The image below is so fitting for this – there is still some guilt in me for my friends, my family, etc. when I’m in this type of stage that I’m not as responsive. But again, being kind to yourself physically and mentally – I have to also know and reiterate and be confident in the fact that this is not personal to anyone. It’s really not about anything other than just giving my mind what it is clearly craving right now – space.

Recognition of Growth

While I definitely keep an eye on “going through the motions,” I also usually let myself live in this space and see myself through it for however long it’s going to be. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t live in this space miserably, I’m incredibly happy. Remember, depression and anxiety does not equal sadness. I have the best life: I’m so freaking happy with my husband every single day, have my dream career. Seriously, all of that has nothing to do with it. And that fact is SO important to recognize about mental health. You are completely missing the boat, missing the point, if you think that mental health or depression and anxiety just mean that you are sad. It’s time to dig deeper on yourself and the world around you if you are still stuck in that stereotypical mindset.

I really believe that whatever this phase means for me, it is preparing me for something bigger. I think there are a number of very large things that my mind and body are getting prepared for in the next couple years, and maybe the shitshow that is 2020 is forcing my mental health to grow and change and get prepared for those things.

Anyway, all of this babble I guess is to say that I feel as though I am in a very strange place mentally. Again, not necessarily good or bad, but strange. And I am feeling a bit withdrawn from people outside of my husband, but I’m allowing myself to be that way. I don’t really think it’s a bad thing, temporarily. I think we have to stop apologizing for not being perfect all the time, for not being happy to uplifting every day. There’s nothing wrong with feeling all human emotions – Just like the images above, I am proud of the person I am who recognizes the complexities within myself. This goes back to me being so much of a realist, I know, which by my nature makes this a little bit easier. I think if you are naturally a pessimist or naturally an optimist, feeling the realist tendencies are hardest because you are pulled to one or another end of the spectrum. Because I am almost always pulled toward a neutral and real/realism space, there is a tendency of that which makes this a little bit more natural or easier I guess? I don’t know! Guys, i’m fumbling my way through 2020, through life, through all of this just as much as you are.

xoxo,

Chronically Kristin

When the toxic in your life isn’t a chemical

image of kristin laughing with text overlay that says: when the toxic in your life isn't a chemical

There’s something to be said about leaning into myself as an adult and actually, finally, doing what is best for me and what is healthy for my soul. When we’re growing up, we don’t get much of a choice of who is in our lives, what they say to you, how they treat you, the type of energy you accept into your realm of existence and how much or how little toxicity is in all of that. Toxic doesn’t just have to be in the chemicals you use.

When Toxic Turns Beautiful

As we grow and mature, we stumble through toxic relationships, toxic jobs, toxic family members, toxic self-talk, toxic food or medications for our bodies, toxic chemicals used in our households, and more. But the true beauty comes when we emerge out of the other side of the heaviest parts of that growth. The beauty comes when we realize what we’re willing to live with and what we’re willing to live without. The toxic pieces that we just deserve better towards.

I’m not perfect. I have a long way to go to really get what I consider to be toxic out of my life. There’s a lot of toxic self-talk that still happens on a daily basis (I’m working very hard on this one daily though too); there’s a lot of toxicity in what I allow certain individuals in my life to say to me (this one is harder, but still working on removing a lot of this); and sometimes there’s still too much “toxic” I allow in my body as well. But on the other hand, I’ve done a hell of a lot of hard work to remove a great deal of toxicity from my life. And I’m here to tell you what I’ve learned about this so far, and what we all need to be repeating to ourselves on a daily basis.

white text over black background says: let it go. change the channel. turn it off. unsubscribe. unfriend. unfollow. mute. block. walk away. breathe.
Real Talk; Real Examples
  • “It’s okay, I still think you’ll be pretty on your wedding day, even with the weight.”
  • “You must be lazy.”
  • “Like it’s hard? You sit on a computer all day.”
  • “Well you’re still beautiful on the inside.”
  • “Did you fake that ambulance ride and unconsciousness to test me?”
  • “He might have done that but we can’t fire him; he’s too old.”
  • “Oh he didn’t mean it, you’re being sensitive.”
  • “You need to lose xx pounds before you think about having kids.”
  • “How do you expect to be a good mom at that weight?”
  • “I’m sure he loves you for more than your weight, he’ll see past what you look like on the outside.”
  • “You are full of excuses; if you wanted it hard enough, you could get rid of your health issues.”

If you’re wondering if those examples above are real, YES. They are. I’ve heard every one of those before and far more of them. From close family, from old relationships, from bosses, etc. Not one of those comments is okay. Not one of those should be tolerated or accepted. Every single one of those comments is a dig, a stab, a cowardly hide behind a “well-intentioned” viewpoint. If you think they mean well, don’t fall for that – you’re making excuses for them. And guess what: I’m yelling that outloud for myself just as much as I am telling it to you too.

white text over purple and pink gradient background reads: I think if you stand there, if you jump, in that moment in the wind, you will know your preference. and then you just have to follow through, brave girl. fly, or if you are fluttering away like a hummingbird, choose to be an eagle and soar.

Be unapologetic for yourself. We all have faults – but there’s no beauty in toxicity. Sometimes I think I’ve tried to focus on fixing the toxic pieces or things or people in my life. But here’s the real talk: you can’t fix toxic and that shits not on you, girl. Not your responsibility. Or my personal favorite: not my circus, not my monkeys.

Toxic Isn’t Your Responsibility

Toxic isn’t something that is going to magically transform into this natural, healthy, nurturing entity in your life. No. Cut that shit. Removing toxicity is the only way to cleanse your body, cleanse your soul, cleanse your mind, CLEANSE YOUR LIFE. You don’t have to cut out the toxic things in your life forever, but until they prioritize the work on themselves, you don’t have to ride that journey with them and experience the rollercoaster yourself.

I still have some heavy work to do here. No one is perfect – but even just putting all of this out here on paper — er, the internet — helps me to breathe it into existence. I’m feeling more motivated than ever to remove these things from my life. There are so many beautiful things in my world – my career, my husband – and the love in both of those things is SO overwhelmingly NON-TOXIC that it settles in my soul like a warm cup of tea, a good book, and a warm blanket on a cold day. It’s home; love: my food for the heart, the head, the soul.

If you are dealing with a toxic family member, find yourself in a toxic relationship or job, or something of the sort – remember this: you can do hard things. You deserve better. You don’t have to stand for this bullshit – and you shouldn’t. Wrap that hair up in a topknot girl, throw on some pump-up jams, and take care of your shit. You’ve got this. ❤️

xoxo,

Chronically Kristin

Sista, Sistas!

It’s fitting that I follow my last post with this one as I talk about finding the middle ground of autoimmune treatments and autoimmune communities. As we talk about the importance of staying away from the radical extremes from either end of the spectrum, it’s important to find a tribe, a treatment, a community, an outlet, whatever it might be for you that regularly celebrates that middle ground, that moderate foothold through life.

So.. let me tell you about my new best friends! As you do on Instagram, I stumbled upon a new account a few months ago that I pretty immediately connected with on another level. This account was like nothing I had yet found in social media for the chronic illness community because it was doing what I’ve talked about so much here. It was staying in its lane, it was embracing the middle ground. You bet I followed them on all channels, signed up for their newsletter, started reading the blog posts, and I. Was. Hooked.

There are a ton of accounts and communities that I follow and love and would absolutely recommend to you*, don’t get me wrong. However, at this stage in my autoimmune journey, at my age, at this point in my life, this group is what speaks to me and is what I’ve needed.

*Happy to recommend groups and resources if anyone is looking for those! Just let me know!

Enough With The Vague-Blogging!

Okay, enough vagueness Kristin, who!!?

Allow me to introduce: Autoimmune Sisters. This community is all about supporting women, with autoimmune diseases, from all over the world.

I’m even more excited to say that I connected with the Founder, Aimee, and she is incredible on so many levels. I’ll be involved with Autoimmune Sisters more closely moving forward as I’m now their Blog Editor (YAY!!!), one of their Authors, and may start to contribute to their social media as well! I’m so excited to be helping Aimee and the rest of the ladies; this community is amazing, inspiring, and I’ve already learned so much!

Stay tuned for more and make sure you’re following me and following them! 😊

xoxo

Chronically Kristin

The Fad of This 4-Letter Word

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It’s probably not the one you’re thinking of, I promise. What I want to talk about is what a lot of people both get sucked into and have probably also noticed about the chronic illness community if you’ve spent any time around the online community. But first, it’s so important for me to put a heavy disclaimer on this post and on my thoughts and opinions around it.

*Disclaimer: This does not in any way mean that all views in the chronic illness community are like this (not AT ALL), nor does it downplay any legitimacy. This just sheds light to a trend I’ve seen and shares a point of caution.

SO, with all that being said. Let’s talk about the trend of my least favorite 4-letter curse word. CURE.

When you spend a little bit of time within the online chronic illness communities, you’ll notice a few key things straightaway:

  1. The outpouring of support, community, love is incredible and just irreplaceable.
  2. With that comes groups on both extremes of the spectrum of views: the severe negativity and the severe positivity.
    • The negativity: nothing will ever get better, I’m stuck in bed sick and nothing will ever change so I might as well embrace being negative. Our community is a community because we’re miserable together.
    • The positivity: if you mix this oil with this supplement and then if you try this diet, pray to God, pay 20 monthly payments of 12.99, and stand on your head you will be forever CURED

Don’t get me wrong, none of the above is meant to make fun – but it is meant to *somewhat* exaggerate so that you get the idea of what is out there, of both sides of extremes (because the above two examples actually exist in real life, I’ve personally seen them both on a daily basis). And don’t even get me started on the new fad that is “sickstagram.” All these late teens/20-year-olds – it’s not the cool thing to have multiple, debilitating, chronic illnesses. For all the legitimacy that still exists, I’m so sorry – I hear you, and I’m there for you. I’m just not sure when it became cool to be bedridden, with tubes, or drawers full of medications, weeks full of doctors appointments. But I digress.

What I really wanted to bring to light was the danger of the word: CURE. There is a big trend out there of sharing ways to “cure” your chronic illnesses or autoimmune diseases by diet, exercise, supplements, etc. Let me start by saying, please don’t confuse me shedding light on this as being equal to me disagreeing that diet, exercise, and some supplements are good for you. They are! And with proper medical guidance, you should be incorporating those into your treatment plan. However, they aren’t going to “cure” you. If autoimmune diseases or chronic diseases were currently “curable,” modern-day medicine would be shouting those claims from the rooftops.

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Now you can certainly manage your symptoms and, potentially, put yourself into remission with homeopathic methods. That’s fantastic! I’m all for it. But remission is not “curing” yourself. Remission is a goal for all of us, but don’t be fooled that remission can’t be taken from you in an instant. I am a FIRM believer in the middle-ground. I am a FIRM believer in modern-day medicine + homeopathic medicine. It’s how I address my health issues, autoimmunity, and my chronic diseases on a daily basis. I am the first to try most things, but believing I will be “cured” by them would be naive.

All of this is not to say that I think we should all be negative and mope around in our illnesses all day — far from it! But on the other hand, I think it’s very dangerous to be touting you’ve been “cured” when so many others either 1) won’t have symptom relief from the same resources you used, 2) will think that a “cure” is an attainable and realistic goal, or 3) may go off of doctor-prescribed treatments and do unintentional harm or long-term damage.

Here’s where a smart online community comes in – where you have to be smart enough, brave enough, savvy enough, to challenge what you read. To consider the source, to do your own REPUTABLE research. If what you are reading is only one sided, and to that affect very extremist on one end of the spectrum or the other, that should be an enormous red flag to you. Find a community that is full of patient advocates that support a variety of different treatments and ideas.

At the end of the day, who am I? I can’t tell you what to do – I can only share what I’ve learned and what I see. But I can also tell you I have tried A LOT of different treatment ideas. I can also tell you that I have seen way too many people in devastation because they thought that treatment A was supposed to “cure” them because so-and-so on Instagram said so.

Remember when the tried and true advice was Everything In Moderation? Guess what – that is still the best piece of advice. Follow it. 😊

xoxo –

Chronically Kristin

Dear Pain…

I could start out this letter to you by just throwing a couple middle fingers in the air and saying “f*&k you.” I could do that, and on a superficial level, I probably would do that as a first step. In fact, for a long time that’s really all I wanted to say to you – and some days, it’s still all I want to say to you. But overall, there’s a lot more.

You have been something I’ve felt both physically and mentally, all my life. But not much more than the average person experiences you — I was sick a lot as a kid and adolescent, but everything else and all my other experiences with you were pretty normal.

No, it was really right after college when we met each other and became acquainted as adults. It was then that I learned so much about you, Pain. The breadth at which you could enter into my life and ooze yourself into every nook and cranny was impressive if I’m honest. Your all-encompassing persona was a little obnoxious and overbearing, don’t you think?

I’ll admit, it took me awhile to work through the stages of grief at your arrival. At first, no one, not even you, Pain, was going to tell me that things were changing, that my life would get flipped-turned upside down (90s’ kid shout out!). You think you’re going to waltz into my life at 23 and just flip tables and go nuts? I think not. That phase was a fun mindf*&k to transition into. Because quickly afterwards came grief and acceptance, but not without some hard work.

Being that ever so overwhelmingly self-aware person that I am, I pretty quickly realized a couple things about you, Pain, and about what our relationship was going to be like:

  1. You weren’t going aware. When they say chronic pain and chronic diseases, that pretty much means for life.
  2. You were going to impact my day to day life and dealings whether I liked it or not, so it was up to me to accept that.
  3. You were also going to throw my mental health into a spiral while we were at it.

The best thing I could have done for myself at that time was exactly what I did: throw myself into therapy and learn how to deal with these cards I was dealt. Pain, if you and I were going to live together and be in a committed relationship, some boundaries needed to be established, and some real talk acceptance needed to be learned.

Years of hard work landed me where I am today and how I feel about you now. Our relationship has grown, evolved, and ultimately settled into a comfortable companionship over the years. That’s not without discomfort; after all, we are talking about you, Pain. However, I think we have a mutual respect for each other now. And on the worst days? I can still credit you and think of you with an inkling of positivity.

You see, Pain — I’m actually eternally grateful for you. You’re a real piece of work, but you’re my work. The evolution of my early adulthood from an invincible college grad to a vulnerable, defenseless young professional and multiple chronic diseases fighter is something I look back on with awe, gratitude, and a hell of a lot of grace and respect. I have no doubt in my mind I would have turned out well without you, but I’m pretty damn grateful for what and who I turned into with you. In fact, it’s best said by the tattoo I got down my spine: Pain from today is Strength for tomorrow.

I applaud you, Pain, for your perseverance in my life. I’ve thrown the book at you with treatments and procedures and medications, and you allow yourself to be tampered down, to play second fiddle to the rest of my life. Nevertheless, you sneak yourself into my world just enough to keep me humble. One of my favorite qualities is my strength, my perspective on chronic illnesses. I owe a majority of that maturity and perspective to you, old friend.

So thank you for being what I needed in my life to transform me into the person I am today. Thank you for keeping me humble — just when I think I have you figured out, you knock me on my ass again just to stay relevant. Thank you for preparing me and giving me a perspective that helps me view the world with both grace and realism. And best of all, thank you for forcing me to take stock, to prioritize the right things in life, and to forever work towards balance.

I love you. I hate you. I respect you.

xoxo

Chronically Kristin

An Instagram Round-Up…

Take this post for what it is, but let’s call it a fun way for me avoid an idea for another post that will be a lot harder for me to write. 😉

I thought it might be fun for me to share a list of my favorite people or brands to follow on Instagram. In light of so many events in the world, I’ve found that channel to be my solace of social media. I can’t stand Facebook anymore, Twitter doesn’t hold my interest or focus enough anymore. But Instagram is a happy place, or at least my feed has been both curated by me and by Instagram to be as such. I spend the vast majority of my time by far on this channel.

Additionally, while not just sharing a list of “I like these accounts” type of recommendations – I’m actually going a tad deeper and sharing with you those accounts that are a MUST. These are the accounts that I watch their Stories almost daily. I never miss a post (and I’ve engaged with them intentionally enough that I actually don’t miss their posts – the algorithm shows them in my Feed). And they are my tried and true go-to resources, brands, or individuals. I’ll link to each of their accounts here and do a tiny summary, but the best way to learn more is really to go check them out!

Instagram Accounts I Can’t Live Without

This is by no means an exhaustive list of great Instagram accounts to follow – there are hundreds I could recommend and that post would take me weeks. But like I said, these are the check every day, watch all of their Stories every day, kind of accounts for me. Hope you enjoy them as well!

Have other accounts I need to start following? Drop them in the comments below!

xoxo

Chronically Kristin

A Throwback Get To Know Me

As I was sitting here brainstorming some more upcoming blog content and topics, I had some serious nostalgia vibes for my old LiveJournal days! I’ve tried to find mine so many times. LOL — I used to do these “surveys” all the time there in middle school where it would ask you a bunch of random get to know you questions. I’ve always loved answering those, and I’ve loved reading them about others! Maybe it’s just me and maybe this post will be super boring for all of you, haha. But it will at least be something different and fun to fill out!

J & I up north Michigan a little while after we got engaged.

1. What’s your favorite candle scent? Oh hands down, anything cinnamon or apple cinnamon scented. Not just candles either, usually my favorite scent for anything in the home.

2. What female celebrity do you wish you were related to? Hmm.. I don’t think I need to actually be related to anyone, but I would want to be friends with a few boss babes: Sia, Kristen Bell, Ellen, Amy Schumer, and not celebrities, but a whole list of influencers who I feel like they are my friends but I would love to be actual friends with, haha!

3. What male celebrity do you wish was your brother? Like the above, we don’t need to be related, but I would love to be legit friends with Jimmy Fallon, and Trey Kennedy. SO Hilarious. Twenty One Pilots. Tim Allen. (There are so many though)

4. What’s your favorite thing about marriage? (And if you’re not married, what’s your favorite thing about being single?) Oh gosh, so many things. We’re only 8 months in but I absolutely love being married. I think the biggest thing though is just knowing I have a forever partner and cheerleader in my corner. J is the best husband and the best friend – he is always in my corner, always cheering me on and supportive. Having that partner who is 1,000% there no matter what to depend on is so freaking awesome.

5. What’s one thing you own that you should probably get rid of, but just can’t? There are probably so many things – one thing I can think of is my wedding bouquet. It’s still sitting in a jar on top of our fridge. It’s hella-gross and dried and I cannot bring myself to throw it away! Other than that – I have a few pairs of comfy pants with many holes in them that are definitely not suitable for leaving the house at this point, but they are so worn-in and soft that I can’t bring myself to throw those away either.

6. Can you do a split? HA! That’s cute. No. I can barely sit cross-legged. My hips don’t even extend their full range anymore. Arthritis is fun.

7. How old were you when you learned how to ride a bike? Hmm.. I want to say 4 or 5 but I’m honestly not 100% sure. I think it was when we moved into our house after it was built and I was 4 then, going on 5.

8. How many oceans have you swam in? Hmm… 2, I believe! Atlantic and Pacific.

9. How many countries have you been to? 4 – Obviously the US; Also, Canada, Nicaragua, and Brazil

10. Is anyone in your family in the army? Nope!

11. What was your favorite TV show when you were a child? I loved Rugrats. I loved The classic 90’s Nickelodeon cartoons around that time.

12. What did you dress up as on Halloween when you were eight? Hmm – what was I when I was 8. My memory is horrific if you haven’t caught on to that by now. So that was third grade — pretty sure I was a either a rockstar or Jasmine. Jasmine was likely too young, but you’re welcome for that photo below any way. 😉

13. Have you read any of the Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Twilight series? Any and all!You’d be hard pressed to find a popular (or unpopular) book series that I haven’t read, haha.

14. Would you rather have an American accent or a British accent? British, but probably because it’s what I don’t have so it would be fun to have something different!

15. Have you ever taken karate lessons? Nope! But I always wanted to! Maybe I’ll take self-defense classes one of these days; I think that would be a really awesome skill to have.

16. Do you know who Kermit the frog is? Um, yes. This seems like a super random question, ha!

17. What’s the first amusement park you’ve been to? I would say probably Disney World when I was 4 or 5 — other than that, I know I went to Cedar Point when I was younger and Bush Gardens. But I hate rides and there’s a hilarious story of me on what is likely the equivalent of a kiddie ride, yelling/screaming for my daddy, except he was working and not even with us during the day (it was my brothers, my mom, and their friends and their friends’ mom) haha. My mom remembers trying to stop the ride by yelling to the guy every time we’d spin around to that side of the ride. LOL — scarred me for life apparently. 😉

18. What language, besides your native language, would you like to be fluent in? Probably Spanish just because it would be the closest next language to learn for me given that I’ve studied it the most. It would be really cool to learn Swahili, Mandarin, or French, but I have the most extensive background with Spanish.

19. Do you spell the color as grey or gray? Hmm — I’m pretty sure I spell it as gray.

20. Do you know triplets? Not triplets personally but my brothers are twins!

21. Do you prefer Titanic or The Notebook? Oh gosh — classics! I really can’t choose – I absolutely love both of those movies.

22. Have you ever had Indian food? I love Indian food! Although I’m a huge wimp with spicy food and I have a very bad case of GERD so I don’t really eat it often anymore unless it’s a mild or not very spicy option.

23. What’s the name of your favorite restaurant? Basically anything local, farm to table in Grand Rapids (Michigan). We have such a gem of restaurants in our city (and our State as a whole) that sometimes I want to protect them and make sure we don’t get overrun by tourists! That’s #PureMichigan. 😊

24. Have you ever been to Olive Garden? Many times! And I still do. Judge away, but I love me some salad and breadsticks from Olive Garden. We still go there on a regular basis with my husband’s family.

25. What would your parents have named you if you were the opposite gender? I’m not sure about opposite gender, but I do know that my parents almost named me Kasey! (Or Casey, not sure if it was going to be with a C or a K)

26. If you have a nickname, what is it? Peanut, Monkey, Krissy. Peanut: mostly from my Dad or the rest of my family. This was from when I was a baby and super little. I slept with my arms and legs tucked under me and butt in the air looking like a little peanut. Monkey: occasionally from my husband, we also call one of our cats Monkey — not sure how I should take that actually. Haha! 😂 Krissy: from my Dad, shortened of Kristin. ❤️

27. Who’s your favorite person in the world? My husband! I don’t get sick of him, I’m sure after 30 years of marriage I will, but since we’ve been married less than a year, I still adore being with him every second. 😊

28. Would you rather live in a rural area or in the suburbs? Rural for sure. There is nothing I want more than for J & I to be able to afford a piece of land, far away from neighbors, surrounded by trees.

29. Can you whistle? Eh, moderately so but nothing to write home about.

30. Do you sleep with a nightlight? No, I can’t. Needs to be dark!

31. Do you eat breakfast every morning? No, but I’m trying to be better about that. I’m a lot better than I used to be. If it’s not a substantial breakfast, I at the very least usually have a matcha oat milk latte and a protein shake. Those are my go-to’s during the work week. On the weekends, we have larger breakfasts of smoothies, pancakes or waffles, eggs, or something else.

32. How many times have you been to the hospital? HA! This year? Just kidding, but seriously. I grew up being kind of a sick kid – and if you know anything about me you know I have multiple chronic illnesses. I would say I go to the hospital once or twice a year in a good year. This past winter/spring wasn’t great and included 8 times in 4 months. I would honestly say it’s probably between 75 and 100 if I had to take a guess. I have had a few times where I was very sick. And I’ve also had a few major surgeries.

33. Have you ever seen Finding Nemo? One of my favorite animations! And if you’ve seen pieces of one of my husband’s tattoo sleeves, you’d know it’s one of his too.

34. Where do you buy your jeans? Old Navy, hands down. So comfortable, always long enough, always high rise enough, tons of variety, not a million dollars. <— very important because I’m not a huge fan of jeans.

35. What’s the last compliment you got? Hmm — good question, I think it was earlier this morning from my husband: “I want you to know I think about you every day and how grateful I am that you are in my life.” I know — I’m desperately in love with him too. 😍

36. Do you usually remember your dreams in the morning? Actually yes! I usually have about 2-5 minutes where I remember the overall gist of the dreams, and then it’s gone. But sometimes, and by sometimes it can be as often as once every week or two, I get a dream that sticks with me so much that I actually have to stop and think throughout the day to remind myself that it wasn’t real and that it was, in fact, a dream.

37. Favorite beverage that isn’t water? Matcha lattes, or iced tea.

38. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own? Hahaha, too many but I did recently clean out my closet and get rid of the really old junky ones. I probably have 25 pairs now, give or take a few.

40. What is one food that you used to hate but now you love? Hmm, I used to be pretty dang picky but there are only a small handful of foods I don’t like now. I would say one that I love now and really hated before would be Brussel Sprouts. SO good.

39. How old were you when you found out that Santa wasn’t real? Hmm, I’m not sure I remember how old I was. I remember I finally figured it out because I recognized my parents’ handwriting on the gifts under the tree that said Santa. Maybe 8 years old if I had to guess?

41. What is a weird lie you’ve told? I remember once that a friend and I in high school bypassed a stoplight by going through a shopping center (yes I know now that this is illegal) and we got pulled over by a cop. We told the cop we were returning a movie rental, and we obviously weren’t. Big surprise the cop knew we were lying and called our parents. LOL. Needless to say we learned an important lesson that day. 😂

42. Heels or flats? Flats — maybe wedges if I’m feeling self-destructive. But again, hello arthritis.

43. Do you have any weird phobias? I don’t think I have weird ones really — spiders/any bugs, heights for sure, or maybe this next one is weird, I really can’t handle raw meat. My husband cooks all of it for me even when he doesn’t eat most of it.

44. What is a phrase or word you always say? I say for fucks sake quite a bit, and like a typical Michigander or Midwesterner, I say Ope or Ope excuse me allllll the time, haha.

45. What is a song that you blast or belt out when you are alone? Literally all songs. It’s one of my favorite things to do: belt out singing anything when I’m by myself or driving in the car. 😂

46. What is one of your biggest pet peeves? I hate liars, I hate loud chewers, I don’t like inconsistency in labeling or titling things, I hate when people stop walking in the middle of the sidewalk in front of everyone. There are so many more but listing everything would just make me look cranky. 😉

47. Do you sleep with your closet door open or closed? Closed, but mostly because we keep all closets closed so we don’t have wandering kitties. 😂

48. Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of bees? Hmm, a big bear. It feels like it would be less torturous?

49. Do you have any weird things you do? This is a tough one — I have a few weird habits I do with organization for work. With to-do lists, if I make a mistake, or if there is a lot crossed off on the list, I have to start over and create a brand new list. I also like one particular Sharpie, in one particular color and point, once the point is bent (because I write hard) and not as fine, I don’t really like to use the pen any more. So I go through a lot of them. I know, it’s wasteful, but I can’t help it! I’m known as the note taker at work, and any one can find any notes in my old notebooks about any project. I keep them all. Okay maybe all of this is weird, haha.

50. What movie could you watch over and over again and still love? Oh gosh – I’m starting to be able to do this with a lot more movies than before because J loves to rewatch movies SO frequently. Probably Love & Basketball, Bridesmaids, Cast Away, Into the Wild, Anchorman, so many more.

What other questions do you have? Favorite blog post types? Anything you want to know about me?

xoxo

Chronically Kristin

Real Talk: The Coron-Anxiety

Let’s all take a second to recognize the difficulty that is COVID-19. I don’t know who needs to hear this right now – but it’s okay to not be okay with the state of things – hell, the state of the world. It’s not something I thought I would really ever feel – but even being an introvert doesn’t protect you from COVID-19 wearing on you and making you crave society and human interaction. I am the first to admit that I am 1000% a homebody. My husband and I love naps almost as much as we love each other – maybe more? I kid – but seriously. I am all in on cozy nights at home. Big crowds are exhausting to me. I’m truly a token introvert (not to be confused with shy – introvert ≠ shy). But even I am feeling the strain of this, feeling the strain of day in and day out quarantine.

*HEAVY disclaimer is that I am so blessed and so grateful for what I have and for the situation I am in. I’m so very lucky to not have been impacted to a great extent like so many others.

So what has COVID-19 been like for me so far? I have been self-quarantined since March 11th. I haven’t left my house whatsoever except one time for a medical procedure at the hospital (non-COVID related). We also go on drives weekly but I don’t leave the car during those. It has been 10 weeks, friends. 10 very long, very exhausting weeks. It was pretty much determined right away that I needed to severely social distance and stay home due to all of my health issues. Actually, I wasn’t on medications still (I JUST started a new one! Finally! I’ll do a separate post about that soon) so my immune system was not as bad as normal – but still not good. So I stayed home – and then my job became 100% remote too so everyone stayed home – and then our state (Michigan) instituted a shelter-in-place which we are currently still under. 10 weeks later and I’m not a little over a week into starting my new medications which make me severely immunosuppressed, aka I am part of the high risk population.

The COVID-19 situation has really taken me aback on how I’ve reacted mentally to what is going on. I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression since I was in high school – so it’s been just a regular part of me and something that has been (except for a time or two) extremely well managed and under control. So much so that I have a prescription bottle for as-needed anti-anxiety medication that hasn’t been touched in over 3 and a half years. COVID-19 brought up pieces of my anxiety that I had no clue whatsoever existed.

I’ve always prided myself on being an extremely rational person. I remember being in therapy after I got diagnosed with my autoimmune diseases and even having therapists tell me that I am extremely self-aware; that I can rationalize what I’m feeling in my lowest of lows. And it’s true! It’s actually a somewhat odd feeling – whether I’m sad, or depressed, or anxious, or whatever I’m feeling, it’s almost as if I can step outside of my body and look down at myself and rationalize not only the reason I am feeling a certain way, but the actual truth vs. what my self-consciousness is projecting as negative self-talk. Needless to say, this doesn’t mean I have perfect mental health, just that when I am in a bad head space, I’m usually able to at least recognize it and keep myself from drowning in it or from wallowing for too long.

With my compromised immune system, I have been self-quarantined for COVID-19 this entire time. Though it’s gotten better now, about half way through I started to develop this fear and anxiety about leaving the house and/or contracting the virus. I mean, we’re talking TERRIFIED, folks. J and I would go for a drive to the lakeshore to get me out of the house and I was frozen. No matter if there were no people around the pier or beach or not; I physically could not get out of the car. And my husband is the sweetest, most supportive man in the world. He would never push me, or belittle my worry. He might poke fun a little at my incessant hand-washing (“Babe, you haven’t touched anything but what’s in the house, how are you washing your hands this much, LOL), but he is the best and so understanding.

Another thing that would happen is as colleagues at work would talk about when they thought we’d go back to the office or when the shelter in place would be lifted or when remote work would end, I would find myself so terrified of it and so anxious I would be in tears. Or I would feel angry that others thought the lockdown would be lifted earlier. It was irrational, I knew that, but I couldn’t stop it.

I did finally do a tele-health visit with my doctor as a mental health check-in. It was so helpful to talk through all of it and have her not only validate what was going through my head, but also confirm the things that I should realistically worry about and the things that I didn’t need to fret about as much and were more of a byproduct of my anxiety talking. I also had my anti-anxiety medication changed and updated which is nice to have for those days where it feels harder to rationalize by myself.

Weeks and weeks after all of the above, I’m glad I didn’t push publish on this blog post a couple days ago because there’s a very fitting ending to this recap! After over 10 weeks quarantined at home, I ventured out for the first time to go to Trader Joe’s myself today for groceries. Mentally, I just really wanted to go for a drive with the windows down, peruse the shelves for new items, and stock up on my dairy free and gluten free items as I ease into these new eating habits. I know, #firstworldproblems. I am absolutely recognizing my privilege here. To be able to go to the store and feel anxiety and fear; for this to be the biggest “worry” I’ve had because I am lucky enough to get to protect myself by working from home and keeping my job and quarantining myself. Believe me, I recognize that. Nevertheless, this was a big deal in my world. And this was a very good thing for my mental space and I’m proud of myself for it. I may have had to take anti-anxiety medication when I got home, and washed my hands raw. But whatever. 🤷🏻‍♀️

One day at a time. It’s okay to feel like this. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be okay today and not tomorrow. It’s okay to be however you need to be. That was as much for you as it was for myself. 😊

xoxo

Chronically Kristin

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