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28 February 2017

Pediatric and Adolescent Migraine: What to Know

We know that migraine affects over 38 million Americans. Unfortunately, that includes children as well.  As a child, I suffered from abdominal migraine before experiencing typical migraine at the age of 8.  These are the statistics from the Migraine Research Foundation:

About 10% of school-aged children suffer from migraine.
Half of all migraine sufferers had their first attack before age 12.
Before puberty, boys suffer from migraine more often than girls.
As adolescence approaches, the incidence increases more rapidly in girls than in boys.
By the time they turn 17, as many as 8% of boys and 23% of girls have experienced migraine.

Diamond Headache Clinic has shared this presentation on pediatric and adolescent migraine with me to help spread awareness about childhood migraine. The presentation goes over common types of migraine headaches and symptoms that present themselves in adolescents.

Presentation provided by Diamond Headache Clinic.

25 February 2017

#Sponsored e-cloth Kitchen Dynamo Review

I have been given this product as part of a product review. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

As a chronic pain sufferer, daily chores are a challenge.  Deep cleaning and scrubbing aren't always something I can do without it causing or triggering pain or flare-ups.  Finding easy and effective cleaning tools is always necessary in order to maintain the cleanliness of my home without suffering for trying to do so.  One of my issues with cleaning is the cramping in my hands and wrists due to carpal tunnel syndrome.  Something as easy as wiping down countertops and cleaning off my stovetop will immediately cause pain.  I am a neat freak and hate mess and clutter.  I find myself really frustrated that I cannot clean the way that I want to because of my incompetent hands.

10 February 2017

Mental Health and Positivity

Check out my newest video where I discuss the importance of learning how to reverse negative self-talk and becoming more positive and kinder to ourselves when living with a mental illness. *full transcript is below video

"Hello everybody. Today I'm going to be talking about mental health and positivity. It can be really difficult to remain positive when you live with a mental illness such as depression and anxiety like I do. Our brains are wired to be negative most of the time. So, it becomes really hard to shift our thinking into a more positive direction. 

For most of my experience with depression and anxiety, I have felt that I physically embodied their symptoms. We are often told that we are depressed or we are anxious or we are obsessive and compulsive. When we attach those labels to who we are, we begin to identify ourselves as those things. But over the last couple of months, I have come to realize that I am not my symptoms. 

From my survey, 59% of people who took it said that they have felt a loss of identity since being diagnosed with a mental illness. Learning how to overcome the negative self talk and become more positive is a challenging task but it can't be accomplished. 82% of those who took the survey are interested in learning how to do just that. 

So this video is basically an introduction on self-care and positivity. It is very important that you take yourself out of the equation. By this I mean changing the way you speak of yourself and your mental illness. What I have done is instead of saying that I am depressed today or I am very anxious today, I say I am having a flare up. All of the symptoms I am experiencing due to the anxiety or depression are much higher than normal. By saying that the anxiety is causing me to feel anxious, frustrated, overwhelmed, unmotivated, exhausted, and depressed, I am removing myself from the burden of the illness. 

Putting it in this perspective allows me to really focus in on myself as an individual. It makes it a lot easier to be kinder to myself and speak positively about myself. The simple notion of changing the way we speak of our illness and their symptoms can be the difference in whether or not we spiral downwards into a dark hole of anxiety or depression. 

It is also important to take care of yourself mentally. Learning how to calm yourself in the midst of a flareup can drastically change how long your flareup may last. There are very simple and easy methods to help cope with and manage our symptoms. I want to touch on a few that have helped me along this process. 

The first is journaling. I set aside two days a week for 15 minutes to journal. Whether I'm in a good mood or feeling low, I make sure to write about my feelings. It helps a lot when I journal through a flareup. I am able to get out all of the negativity I'm experiencing so that it doesn't fester and make me feel worse. Journaling is very cathartic and it helps us to purge all of the heaviness, sadness and negativity so that we can feel lighter and more capable of moving forward.

The second is meditation or using guided imagery. Both of these methods really help us to refocus our brains. When we are in the midst of a really bad flareup we can keep spiraling until we feel like we don't have any hope left. Taking 10 to 20 minutes once or twice a day to meditate or do use guided imagery will help us release those negative feelings and leave us with a more positive outlook. It takes practice and commitment, but it is something that truly can help us be kinder to ourselves in the future.

The third is deep breathing. We in this society are not taught how to breathe through our experiences. It is very important to acknowledge our breath and to calm our entire body down to bring us back to center. When our anxiety is high or our depression is making us feel really low, taking five minutes to breathe deeply in and out really helps us to become more focused and centered. Deep breathing is extremely healing. While you are inhaling, think of it as bringing in positive, healthy, and healing thoughts into yourself. And the exhales are us removing the negative feelings from our minds and bodies. 

Utilizing these methods is not going to cure us of our illnesses. But they do however make us feel more in control at the end of the day. When you allow yourself to take care of your mind, heart and soul, despite how our illnesses are making us feel you begin to separate yourself from them. By focusing on yourself, you are becoming more and more engrossed in the person that you truly are. You are not allowing your symptoms to have a stranglehold over you, your thoughts, or your perceptions.

I am a work in progress. There are times when my depression and anxiety can be so overwhelming that it becomes harder to take care of myself. But I always try to make sure that when I am describing how I am feeling that I'm separating myself from my symptoms. I still need my medication to help manage my depression and anxiety. I still need to go and see my therapist to help me cope with and manage my depression and anxiety. However, it is in the small things I can do on a daily basis that will help me stay in a more positive direction. I do not always succeed and I do falter. However, I pick myself back up and I try again the next day to be kind to myself despite how my mind wants me to feel.

I truly hope that this video encourages you to be kinder to yourself. You are not to blame for having a mental illness. And having one does not mean that you are less of an individual. You are still yourself despite your diagnosis. The person that you were before is still there. We just have to take a little time and some effort to see that we never left. I wish you all peace, love and kindness. There is only one you and you deserve to be taken care of."

31 January 2017

Be On The Lookout! 👀

Rethink Mental Illness
Rethink Mental Illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I will be uploading a new video on Monday, February 6th about mental illness and retaining our identity. Watch my short video below where I discuss the purpose of this upcoming video and why I think this conversation needs to be had. I would like to gauge the interest of anyone living with a mental illness for becoming more empowered within their diagnosis.

I created a survey that should take less than three minutes to complete, which can be accessed here – Mental Illness and Individuality.

Catch up on the discussion with my blog post about holding on to who you are despite how your diagnosis makes you feel - Despite Mental Illness, You Are Still YOU.

26 January 2017

#Sponsored Stopain Migraine Topical Pain Relieving Gel

I have been given this product as part of a product review. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

I am a huge advocate for treating migraine with homeopathic and non-medication methods in conjunction with traditional Western medicine treatments. For myself, I have found that combining these two forms has given me a greater result. There are times when I have to rely solely on my medications to relieve the pain and symptoms associated with migraine. However, when the migraine is mild or moderate in intensity, I can usually abort it with an homeopathic treatment.

22 January 2017

Despite Mental Illness, You Are Still YOU

When you are diagnosed with a mental illness, the vocabulary that is often used to describe your symptoms usually includes the phrases, 'you are severely depressed ' or 'you are bipolar' or 'you are highly anxious'. The manifestations of our illness are frequently attached to who we are as individuals. By labeling us as depressed, anxious, manic people we begin identifying ourselves as just that. We start to lose our identities of who we were before being diagnosed and that is not okay. For other chronic illnesses or diseases such as cancer, asthma, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis the diagnosis is that you have it rather than you are it. So why is it that when it comes to mental illness we say that we are depressed and anxious? Yes, we are feeling those things but they are not who we are. We begin to minimize our strengths, qualities, goodness, and uniqueness every time we choose to express our symptoms in the first person.

30 December 2016

How a Headache Specialist Changed My Life

Three months ago I went to see Dr. Rosenthal, a headache specialist who was hired by Kaiser Permanente to work out of the North Baltimore medical center.  Dr. Rosenthal previously worked at the Johns Hopkins Headache Center.  In fact, he was the one who started it.  To say the least, I was extremely blessed to have him as my headache specialist. After almost a decade of being unable to get Kaiser to approve any requests to see one outside of their network, it seemed as though things were finally in my favor.

29 December 2016

#Sponsored How PatientBank Helps Patients Own Their Health Information

I have been given this product as part of a product review. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

Having chronic migraine has meant years of getting treatment from several doctors and many trips to the emergency room and urgent care.  For someone like me who has had migraine for thirty years, that adds up to a lot of medical data.  As chronic illness patients, we may not be thinking about our medical records and whether we have all of them.  We spend so much time scheduling appointments, filling prescriptions and trying to manage our daily lives that the idea of owning our health information may not be a priority on our list.

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