Support System…Why They Are Important. 

Support system…… what is it? Where do we find them? Why do we need them? Who needs it? 

A Support System is defined as a network of people who provide an individual with practical or emotional support. Anyone and everyone needs support this doesn’t have to be something just for people with chronic illness. People who have gone through a bad marriage, or abusive relationship or drug addiction all need a support system as well.

Research has shown that those with large social support systems often will have better health, live longer, and overall better well being. Friends and family have the ability to make you more resilient in times of loss, stress, or setback and they can even make those periods of good times better.
There are lots benefits to having supportive relationships, such as knowing that you have people who can provide you with information, advice and guidance. As well as assistance in times when you are uncertain. This aspect of support systems can be comforting and make you feel more secure.
When someone has a chronic illness or is in a bad relationship, they often feel isolated. And feel that no one ever understands them. So a support system is a must. No matter where you find that support. Some find support in the church, or their family, or friend. Or maybe you have found support groups for their illness that you feel like you can open up to and lean on. No matter where you find this support it is essential that you find something. 
Once you find a support system, how can you use it to your advantage? Well, that kind of will depend on what kind of support system you have found. 
Family members for instance when it comes to things like lupus will naturally step into the supportive role at times because lupus runs in families. So you may have someone in your family who has been in your shoes. Or it may go the other way and your family will be little support, simply because they don’t understand. A little education can oftentimes change that. Family also has known you through everything unlike anyone else and can oftentimes provide that unconditional love that is necessary! 
Friends and neighbors can often provide food in stressful times since they are close by. If you are close to your neighbors they may also provide a sense of comfort during times of stress. Friends can provide the laughter and love you need. And sometimes those days away for fun so you can forget about your current situation. 
Co-workers can provide support many times because you spend more time with them than you do your family. You have time to talk to them about things that you don’t have time to discuss with your family or friends. 
Health Support Groups (or any support groups) can be a really great source of support because you are with a group of people who are in similar situations as you. If you can find local groups this is the best because they are people you can hang out and talk to in person. But online support groups can’t be just as effective. I myself have made some of my best friends in online support groups with people I haven’t and may never meet. They get me and my situation and I can talk to them about anything with any repercussions. (Here is a shameless plug if you are looking for a support group for autoimmune issues on Facebook. I along with a few other admins run Lupie Groupies. If you want to join we are a closed group and you will to request membership. If yuh can’t find it comment below and I will help you) 
Once you have that support system in place it’s important that you make sure the people on the other end understand how much you appreciate their love and understanding! Make sure that you do your best to stay in touch with them even when that’s the last thing you want to do. If you don’t do your part to keep the friendship or relationship open you can’t expect the other people to do the same. 
Support is essential really for all people. But especially for those with chronic illness. 
-Amber 

Resources 

-https://socialwork.buffalo.edu/resources/self-care-starter-kit/additional-self-care-resources/developing-your-support-system.html

A Little Inspiration 

Periodically I receive emails of inspiration from a dear friend that really hit home. She sent me this and I just felt compelled  to share.   Hope this touches someone like it did me!!!  

GOD LOVES YOU

​Sometimes when we are going through difficult times, we can think that God does not notice, or care. But there is encouragement for us in the Bible, and especially in the Psalms, that He does care for us and love us. For example, in Psalm 40: “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. And He has put a new song in my mouth–praise to our God; many shall see it, and fear, and will trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 40:1-3)

​The thoughts of others can be an encouragement to us as well. One of my favorite poets / hymn-writers is Annie Johnson Flint, and here is one of her best-loved poems:

 

GOD’S KIND CARE

 

God has not promised 

Skies always blue,

Flower-strewn pathways,

All our lives thro’;

God has not promised

Sun without rain,

Joy without sorrow,

Peace without pain.

 

God has not promised

We shall not know

Toil and temptation,

Trouble and woe;

He has not told us

We shall not bear

Many a burden,

Many a care.

 

God has not promised

Smooth roads and wide,

Swift, easy travel,

Needing no guide;

Never a mountain,

Rocky and steep,

Never a river

Turbid and deep.

 

But God has promised

Strength for the day,

Rest for the labor,

Light for the way,

Grace for the trials,

Help from above,

Unfailing sympathy,

Undying love.

 ​Let these thoughts encourage us that God is there, and that He loves us, and knows what we are going through.

And a few simple quotes below they might give you courage.  Or give you the strength yoh need for the day. A simple quote may seem like only words to some but to others they can change a life. 

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do – you have to keep moving forward.”
Martin Luther King

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Mary Anne Radmacher

“If opening your eyes, or getting out of bed, or holding a spoon, or combing your hair is the daunting Mount Everest you climb today, that is okay.”
Carmen Ambrosio

“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”
Hellen Keller

“Love bravely, live bravely, be courageous. There’s really nothing to lose. There’s no wrong you can’t make right again.”
Jewel Kilcher

“Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Samuel Beckett

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
Winson Churchill

“Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while, so that we can see life with a clearer view again.”
Alex Tan

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Confuscious

“Never, never, never give up.”
Winston Churchill

I hope you enjoyed this and got something from this. Maybe it gave you hope, or courage. Or maybe just a reminder that God is always there no matter the trial we are going through.  Whatever you took from this I hope it helps you in some way! 

** If you enjoyed this blog post and would like me to do more. Or if you have a topic you would like to see me blog about,  please leave me a comment here, on twitter/Facebook or IG. 
-Amber 

PRODUCT REVIEW 

So last week I received a TON of product from Tracy Wood and the Spoonique Boutique on Etsy and Instagram. She sent me everything from bath bombs to lip gloss. It will take me a LONG Time to use everything but I thought I would give a quick review of what I have used so far. 


This stuff is totally amazing. Put it on your lips and rub it in for a few seconds and then wipe it off and your lips will be soooooo soft. I do this a couple times a week. And I LOVE it!  

This lotion smells soooo good. And I have been using it on my feet. I have the driest feet this time of year and this has helped them to become so much softer. Would definitely recommend!

Maybe my favorite product yet. The pomegranate bath bomb!!! Totally amazing I can’t say enough good things about it. Smelled amazing and my skin felt super soft after I got out of the bath and I smelled amazing too!!! Two for one!!!! 

This little treasure is MY FAVORITE!!!!! Best facial mask I’ve ever tried!!!! I put it on before getting in the bath and let it sit. Then washed it off when I got out. OH MY GOSH. My face has never felt so smooth and amazing. I will definitely be buying this in bulk!!!!
So far everything I’ve tried has been great. So please head on over to Tracy’s shop on Etsy, The Spoonique Boutique and pick up some of her amazing products!  You won’t be disappointed!! 

(This is not a paid or sponsored  advertisement, this is a true rating based on my experience with the product) 
-Amber

Alternative Therapy to Treat Fibromyalgia 

Fibromyalgia……..Is defined as a widespread musculoskeletal pain disorder accompanied by fatigue, sleep disturbances and memory issues. At this time there is no cure and no definite treatment. The standard treatments right now are pain killers, antidepressants and anti-seizure medications. These help reduce the symptoms but don’t really treat the condition as a whole. So many people will turn to alternative therapies to help control the symptoms of their fibromyalgia! Let’s take a look at some of the most popular alternative therapies. 
One of the most popular natural therapies is YOGA. There are several studies that show that yoga may help ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia Researchers for pain have linked yoga to lower levels of fibromyalgia-related pain among those who participate in yoga. Another study published by the Journal Of Pain showed that people who participated in a 75 minute yoga class twice a week for eight weeks reported less pain and had a lower stress hormone cortisol level. 
Another popular alternative or natural therapy is meditation. Dr. Daniel Lewis says that meditation may change the way your brain functions and helping to improve symptoms of fibromyalgia. A study published in Current Pain and Headache Reports stated that meditation can relieve fibromyalgia-related pain. Meditation may help calm the mind and ease the body, promoting deep rest and relaxation. End result it may help your body heal itself.

5 HTP has also found to be a popular treatment. It is a natural Amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin, which is the chemical that helps control mood. An article published by the Rheumatolgy International suggested that 5HTP may help Improve fibromyalgia symptoms. It can help to relieve pain, ease morning stiffness, fatigue, and possibly anxiety!
Even though it sounds scary, there has been a lot of research that shows acupuncture can help relieve fibromyalgia symptoms. Especially pain symptoms. With acupuncture one or more dry needles is inserted into the skin and underlying tissues at a specific point. Then the needle is gently twisted or manipulated causing a measurable release of endorphins into the bloodstream. (Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers.) One acupuncture treatment for some may last weeks to help alleviate chronic pain. A recent study showed patients who had acupuncture had a decrease pain and increased quality of life. 
Chiropractic care is a very common complementary or alternative care for fibromyalgia. It is used to treat pain in pressure point areas, back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain etc. Chiropractic care may be effective care for fibromyalgia because it may reduce pain levels and increase cervical and lumbar ranges of motion. Chiropractic care is based on the principle that the body is a self healing organism. To reduce pain and increase healing the chiropractor will adjust the back. The goal being to restore normal transmission nervous impulses by  increasing the mobility between vertebrae, which may have become restricted, or slightly out of proper position.
There are several herbal agents that are used to treat in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Here are just a few: 
SAMe (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine)-This amino acid derivative may boost levels of serotonin and dopamine, another brain chemical. Limited research suggests SAMe may improve mood and sleep.

MAGNESIUM -Low levels of this element may be linked to improving fibromyalgia symptoms. However, research has not turned up solid evidence that taking magnesium supplements improves symptoms.

MELATONIN-This natural hormone is often used in supplements to help improve someone’s sleep patterns. It may also ease fibromyalgia pain.

ST JOHNS WORT- Though this herb is sometimes used to treat certain fibromyalgia symptoms, there’s no solid evidence that it works. A few studies suggest it may help with mild depression. But it can also limit the effectiveness of some medications.

There are many options for alternative therapies for the treatment of fibromyalgia, I’ve only covered a few here. Remember that you always need to check with your healthcare provider before starting any alternative therapy. I hope that something here will help you and give you some relief.  

-Amber 

Resources:

http://www.m.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/alternative-treatments-for-fibromyalgia

http://www.m.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/natural-therapies-and-alternative-treatments-for-fibromyalgia
http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/fibromyalgia-natural-remedies#8

Love Yourself!

Love yourself first and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in the world – Lucille Ball.

 With everything we do, and that is going on it today’s world we have to learn to take some time for ourselves. It’s not selfish. It’s a MUST. Finding 15 min a day of uninterrupted “me” time can be challenging at best. We all know that when we do find time to do things we enjoy, things just for us, things that makes us happy that we end up being happier in the the long run. 
When people are asked why they generally don’t take time for themselves the top three responses are: not enough time, feeling guilty, or it makes them feel selfish. The more caring or giving a person is the more you will hear these responses. But the question is how do we do it, how do we find “me” time? What activities we should be doing to pamper ourselves? Why we should find some “me” time?
There a numerous reasons why we should all take time to pamper ourselves. Let’s look at just a few 
– It’s a great way for you to recharge!!! Women are often good at making time to help others in their lives feel good and work through their own feelings. Time spent alone gives us a time to focus on our own feelings. 

– It’s a great time to think and reflect. Life these days moves at such a crazy speed that we don’t have time to think about our lives. Taking some “me” time give you the opportunity to think about what’s going on in your life. 

– It can make you more productive. Spending time with friends and family can be great fun and so exciting. But it can distract you from things that are important for you, like your hobbies and exercise and reading. Spending time by yourself can give you time to help you progress toward your own personal goals. 

Here are some ways you could make your “me” time a reality. 
– Stop feeling guilty for taking “me” time bed realize in the long run it’s going to be a win-win. 

– Decide what you feel would be the best way to spend your “me” time. 

– Evaluate your day and see what things are a waste of your time everyday. 

– Learn to say no. 

– Learn to ask for help. 

– At the beginning of the week designate slots for “me” time throughout the week. 

– Commit to a minimum of 15-20 min of “me” time EVERYDAY

There are TONS of options for “me” time. Let’s look at a few that you could easily do during the day!  
– Go for a walk. 

– Read a book 

– Fall in love with a new musician or group 

– BREATHE

– Shop for fun

– Meet a friend for breakfast 

– Watch a movie

– Enjoy a hobby 

– Join a bookclub

– Soak in a bath 

– Do yoga

– Get a massage 

I hope that you see how important finding time for yourself everyday is. And how easy it is to go about finding time for yourself. I hope that you can enjoy some of the listed activities and find some you time this week. Go out and find 15 min for yourself today and enjoy it!!! 
-Amber 
Resources 
http://amomwithalessonplan.com/me-time/
http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1657
http://tinybuddha.com/blog/6-compelling-reasons-spend-time-alone/

The Ins and Outs of Fatigue

Fatigue…… something everyone deals with at one point or another. The definition of fatigue is a lack of energy and motivation. This means anyone can be effected by fatigue. However, fatigue brought on by a chronic illness is like nothing a person has ever experienced. And most people don’t understand this kind of fatigue. It’s the kind of fatigue that makes daily life hard and sometimes impossible. It makes special outings a thing that is paid for for days, not just a fun care-free time out of the house. How do you explain this fatigue to others who think you are just being lazy? The best definition I’ve heard is: If you’ve ever had the flu and been so tired you can’t move, well multiply that at least 20 fold and you will know the feeling of chronic fatigue. Are there more than one type of fatigue? How can you combat it? What can you do to ease the fatigue? Let’s learn a little about fatigue find out what we can all do to ease its effects. Clinically fatigue is divided into three different categories: 1. Fatigue caused by a systemic disease like cancer and immune conditions. With cancer patients the fatigue is usually defined as acute and related to the disease or its treatments. Or a more chronic fatigue in those undiagnosed that often resembles chronic fatigue syndrome. Or it can be classified based on timing. Like with sarcoidosis, which is further divided into morning, intermittent and afternoon fatigue. 

2. Fatigue that one might experience when they have neuromuscular disorders, during normal exercise. Patients who have MS may complain of fatigue. This fatigue is separated into two categories. Nerve fiber fatigue which is based on pathology. And fatigue of disability based on the face they need more energy when dealing with such a chronic illness! And also sleep deprivation caused by the disease or its treatments. 

3. Fatigue that defined as “painful weariness” that generally has no defined cause.
So now let look at how Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is different from other types of fatigue. CFS is diagnosed when there is no clear or possible medical conditions present. A person has to meet certain requirements to be diagnosed with CFS. Those requirements are: One must have unexplained, persistent fatigue for six months, or longer along with four of the following issues. Loss of memory or concentration, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes in your armpits or neck, unexplained muscle pain, pain that moves from one joint to another with no swelling or redness, headache that is new and has increased severity and pattern, sleep that is not refreshing, extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise. Once the diagnosis is made the most common treatments are sleeping pills, antidepressants and therapy. 
Now that we have looked at the kinds of fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Let’s look at what we can do to decrease fatigue in all cases. 

– Pace yourself throughout the day and set your own pace. Try to avoid over doing even if you are having a “good day.” If you pace yourself throughout the day you will hopefully be able to get everything done you want without being totally exhausted. 

– Get moving and exercise. Lack of exercise can cause the muscles more stiff and painful, and make exercise more difficult and tiring. You will need to build up your exercise. You can’t ever go too slow. If you do too much you are likely to cause you other conditions to flare. Schedule your workouts so they become a regular part of your schedule, when you keep your schedule it’s easier to keep doing the exercise. Also, pick a time of day that is best for you. If you choose a time when you are less stiff and tired it will be easier to continue your regimen. 

– Just say NO. Saying no is okay and should be something you do when needed. Try to plan your activities when you are least tired. And if it happens that something falls on a day that you are extremely fatigued don’t be afraid to reschedule. It’s better to reschedule then overdo and pay for it later. 

– Have a bedtime routine. Lack of sleep can cause a person to be fatigued. At bedtime, do whatever helps you wind down. Take a hot bath, listen to soothing music, gentle stretching, or maybe some light reading. And don’t get into bed until you are ready to go to sleep. Make sure the area where you sleep is dark and quiet and at a comfortable temperature for sleeping. Try to end all screen time (phones, iPads, and TV) at least an hour before you are planning to go to sleep. 
Hopefully, after reading this post you can define your fatigue and find ways to decrease fatigue. Always, talk to your doctor if your fatigue is worsening or your current sleep regimen is no longer working. Also, make sure you are doing what you can on your end to fight fatigue and get better sleep. 
-Amber
References: 

http://www.everydayhealth.com/fibromyalgia-pictures/fight-back-against-fibromyalgia-fatigue.aspx#10

http://www.autoimmunemom.com/chronic-fatigue/fatigue-types-autoimmune-disease.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/basics/treatment/con-20022009

You Might Be A Spoonie If…….

First, what is a spoonie? Basically, it is a person who lives with life altering fatigue of a chronic illness. The idea originated from Christine Miserandino, of But You Don’t Look Sick, when she wrote the “Spoon Theory,” that explains how we #spoonies allot Time and energy throughout our day by using a series of spoons. Since then thousands of people have been using “spoonie” to describe themselves. So……You may be a spoonie if:

1. You wake up tired after a good nights sleep. 

2. You lay in bed in the morning using self-talk to get yourself out of bed. 

3. You have to decide between taking a shower and doing your hair and makeup because there is no way you can do both. 

4. You have to take a break after showering before you can complete any further tasks. 

5. You look forward to a nap after being up for only 30min. 

6. You have lost loved ones since being diagnosed, because they just don’t understand. 

7. You’ve lost lifelong friends since being diagnosed, because they don’t understand and don’t care to take the time to learn.  

8. Your friends are so used to you canceling that when you make plans they don’t think they will actually happen. 

9. You have more friends from around the world than you do in your hometown. 

10. Your closest friends may be people you have never, and may never, meet. 

11. Your family plans excursions, dinners out, and other activities around your nap-times. 

12. You have a plethora of pill bottles in the cabinet and have used a pill box to delegate your daily pills for several years. 

13. You suffer from brain fog on a daily basis. 

14. You are way to familiar with the term “Painsomnia.”

15. When you change clothes in the morning it’s usually into clean pjs. 

16. Wearing makeup and having your hair done is a Luxury. 

17. You sleep with like 10 pillows. And if you don’t you just can’t get comfortable. 

18. If you own three or more heating pads. 

19. You rarely watch a whole movie in one setting because you almost always fall asleep mid-movie. 

20. You know all the good shows/movies on Netflix bc it has become your favorite way to spend the day. 
Hope you find this funny and also truthful. If you can think of other things only a spoonie would know or do feel free to comment below. 

Love and Hugs

-Amber