Wallflowers

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I recently responded to a call from A Modern Mom’s Life who was writing a piece on introverted moms. She wanted input and perspective from other women on the topic, one which I am very familiar with. It didn’t take me long to realize that I have far more to say on the topic than just a little blurb. This is something that has been on my mind more and more lately, especially since my 30th birthday has come and gone. 

I have been an introverted person for most of my life, more comfortable reading at home than socializing at parties and the like. As time goes on and I become busier with work, family time, and after school activities, I am beginning to feel a growing sense of loneliness and a longing for more meaningful friendships. Simultaneously I feel that I lack the time and energy I need to see such friendships flourish. 

I have had several women attempt to connect with me over the past few years. They have asked me out to dinner, the movies, out for drinks, and the like. Occasionally I accept, but often I respond to their invitations with “something came up” or “maybe next time’ because as uncomfortable as it is to admit, I am no social butterfly. I don’t drink, I can’t dance, I’m a wallflower, if I even show up at all.

Riddled with insecurity, I judge and question myself. I’m too boring. I wonder what stupid thing I am going to do embarrass myself. Come to think about it, this sounds an awful lot like dating, doesn’t it? Except it feels more difficult than dating. 

There are no friendship apps, you cant judge compatibility or chemistry by looking at a photo, and you certainly can’t swipe right to find a BFF. Wait, can you?

Aristotle said that there are 3 types of friendships, and I have to agree with the man. The first two types are accidental friendships of utility and pleasure, often forged out of convenience. These friendships usually revolve around common interests and activities such as school, sports, and work. While these friendships are often plentiful, they are flimsy and fleeting, and they will fade away as quickly as the season changes. 

The third type of friendship that Aristotle spoke about was The Friendship of the Good, or virtuous friendship. Built with intention, and based on a mutual appreciation of character and goodness. This type of friendship takes trust to build, is strengthened over time, fuelled by mutual growth. If it does thrive, then this friendship will last a lifetime.

I have never had a problem making the first two types of friendships, but they have always faded out when I left the school, the job, or the activity. When that common bond, like venting over stressful assignments and deadlines or your miserable co-workers is gone, you find that you have less and less in common and the connection just isn’t there anymore. It’s natural, but it’s still depressing, and when you don’t have any virtuous friendships to fall back on life can be lonely.

When I see older women who have been friends for many years laughing together in the best of times, or comforting each other through the most difficult of times, it hits home. I strive to have a friendship like that. Until that day comes I will work on taking myself out of my comfort zone, and being open to new opportunities, new situations, and meeting new people.

Are you an introvert? How does this affect your ability to make meaningful  and long lasting friendships? I would love to hear from you, leave a comment down below.

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Group interview?!! … and a job offer

My cactus is blooming for the first time, how exciting!

Sometimes, when things don’t go as planned, especially when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you need to take a step back, take some time, and allow yourself to look at the situation from a different perspective.

After my last job interview, I was gutted. Here I was, interviewing for what I thought was my dream job, painting this fantasy picture in my head of what my new life was going to be like, and then I stepped into the interview room and it all came crashing down. 

Taking a few weeks to digest what happened has given me a different perspective of the situation, and allowed me not to be so hard on myself. I am grateful that the terrible interview gave me the practice I desperately needed after years away from the workforce. I know am stronger for the experience. 

A few days later I was invited to a “group interview” for a Cannabis Company. After my last fiasco, you can only imagine what I was expecting. Lo and behold,  it wasn’t really much of an interview at all, more like a team building exercise. I was taken out of my comfort zone doing role plays and all kinds of group activities in a really fun and unexpected way. Within a few hours I received an email inviting me to a second interview., and the second interview was equally interesting. I sat at a table with 2 other potential employees and we interviewed each other over coffee with a list of questions we were given. Super casual, super comfortable, and really enjoyable! I left there feeling like even if I didn’t get an offer, I would be genuinely happy if either of the 2 guys I interviewed did. 

I was offered a part time position, which is perfect for where I am right now. My bosses are amazing, and I’ve already had plenty of time to get to know my new co-workers, who are all really nice people.

In hindsight, I think the first position I interviewed for would have been a terrible fit. It was an hour long commute from my home, and a 9 hour shift each day, plus travel on the weekends, so it would have been a huge commitment.

I’m still not sure what it’s going to look like, managing my chronic migraines and working. I suppose I will just do what I do what I do now, continue to try and manage my symptoms and live my best life 1 day at a time. I did tell my future employer about my migraines, and they were very supportive. 

I wish I could say I have it all figured out, but at 30 years old it still feels like its 1 step forward and 3 steps back. I’ve always prided myself on being a strong woman. What I’m learning is that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and that I don’t need to keep my guard up 24/7. 

Everything always works out the way it is supposed to, I just need to have faith in the process.

Have you ever been to a Group Interview?  Do you have advice for managing chronic migraines in the workplace? I would love for you to share your story or advice in the comments section ❤️

 

 

a healthy dose of embarrassment

 

I have a job interview on Monday. It is my first job interview in many years. Things have changed since before I had my girls, who are now 3 and 6 years old. I am interviewing for a customer support  position in an office environment, with occasional weekend travel.

When I became pregnant with our eldest daughter, I had been working in a coffee shop. It wasn’t an amazing job with a promising future, but I was young and I wasn’t worried about such things. As a 30 year old woman returning to the workforce my priorities have changed, and rightly so…I have two children to support now!

I have been spending my recent days and years filling sippy cups, potty training, and playing at the park. It’s likely that whoever else is interviewing for the position has spent this time in the workforce; improving their professional skills, making connections, and progressing their career.

Don’t get me wrong, I know how lucky I am to have stayed home with my girls. I know that many parents would do anything to have the same opportunity to stay home and raise their children.  I have not taken this opportunity for granted.

I find myself questioning whether or not I will be able to handle working full time, and whether or not my family will be able to manage. I wonder if my migraines, and the medication I take to control them will affect my job performance. I am a perfectionist, and I know that I set standards for myself that can sometimes be unreasonably high. I also know how much it would upset me if I weren’t able to manage the commitments I had made for myself.

Should I tell any potential employers that I suffer from migraines? I’m afraid that if I did, they might discriminate against me. I’m not out to trick anyone into hiring me, but I also don’t want to be discriminated against because of a disability.

Post-Interview

I went to my interview yesterday. I had no problem finding the place and I arrived early. I was feeling confident and I was dressed to kill. I honestly thought that my chances were quite good to land the job.

Unfortunately, once the actual interview began, my thought process and recall just weren’t up to par.  I had been through all of the questions they would ask me in my head, and I had these great answers all worked out. Only it didn’t play out that way at all. It felt like all of the time I had spent preparing were a complete waste.

I wonder what they were thinking, as I sat there, paralyzed and expressionless, at a complete loss to find my words or string together a coherent sentence

My whole brain seemed to be running in slow motion, unable to process even the most simple questions, how embarrassing. I struggled through the rest of the interview with the women from HR probably thinking I’m slow and socially awkward.

Needless to say, I did not get the job, which was upsetting…but not nearly as much as my own bizarre behaviour. My amazing husband reminded me that while it stings now, that will dissipate and I will be more prepared for the next interview. While he is annoying at times, I have to agree. 

Do you have any experience in making a career change after having children? Advice about managing chronic migraines in the workplace? Would you like to share a story about workplace humiliation that might make me feel better ? I would love to hear from you, so leave a comment down below.

A Balancing Act

2018 Kingston Buskers’ Rendezvous

When you live with chronic migraine, or any chronic pain for that matter, following a normal routine and completing basic everyday tasks can seem out of reach. For many, preparing healthy meals, cleaning their home and keeping up with laundry or even seemingly simple acts of self care such as bathing or showering can fall by the wayside.

Nutrition

It goes without saying that during an attack or episode, most people probably won’t want to eat a large meal, or be able to cook one even if they did. Even hours after a migraine, energy levels can be critically low and rest is in order. While it may be tempting to reach for prepared foods and sugary beverages, I am a proponent of fuelling your body with water and whole foods.

You are going to need to keep drinking even during a migraine to avoid dehydration. Health authorities commonly recommend drinking 8 x 8 ounce glasses of water per day. While water is the obvious choice for keeping your body hydrated, other drinks do count towards this goal. Herbal tea is a great choice, and I regularity enjoy over 12 different flavours of herbal tea. My favourites include peppermint and chamomile.

Oatmeal, fruit, veggies and hummus, smoothies and homemade soups are all healthy choices which can be prepared quickly, customized to individual taste preferences, and provide a variety of different nutrients, vitamins and fibre for your body. While oatmeal is super easy to prepare (1 minute in a microwave!) Preparing some other things ahead of time can make life so much easier. I often wash and cut vegetables when I get them home from the store, which I am so greatful for later on when I need to eat something and don’t have the energy to prepare it.

Having a great day? Make a pot of your favourite soup and freeze it in individual portions, or just leave it in the fridge and eat the same thing all week like I do. The same can be done for smoothie mixes, then just blend and enjoy. Now that is self care!

Cleaning

Nobody with a migraine wants to be hunched over on their knees, rubber gloves up to their elbows, inhaling chemicals and scrubbing the shit out of their filthy bathtub.

When most of your days are caught up in a cycle of intense pain followed by a complete loss of energy and recovery period, keeping your home clean can be a real dilemma. Simply put, you do what you can, when you can.

I have found a strategy which has helped me immensely; minimalism ! I have painstakingly gone through and sold or donated everything except the essentials, and the things that I love.

What this means, is that I don’t have 28273739 dishes to pile up in the sink. It only takes 5 minutes to wash and dry them all by hand. I don’t have hundreds of pieces of clothing in my closet, I have a small but chic wardrobe of pieces I love.

I have done the same thing in my linen closet, bathroom, my daughters’ bedroom room (including their clothes and toys!!) and I am so happy with the results.

While this is more of a long-term strategy, the results can be liberating. I recommend starting in a small area such as a bathroom, and go from there.

Less stuff = Less to clean

Personal Care

I’m going to be brutally honest here. I have sat down in the bathtub, only a minute into a shower, because I was too exhausted to even stand. I have mixed my shampoo and my conditioner together in my palm, because I seriously did not have the energy to lather, rinse, and repeat.

I wish I had the energy to wake up every day and put on a full face of makeup, and style my hair really nicely, but at this point in time it’s just not feasible. I have the luxury of being a stay at home mom, so while I haven’t let myself completely go, I’m not being held to an incredibly high beauty standard.

When you are trapped in what I like to call the pain/rest/recovery cycle, you grab a shower when you can, have a hot bath when your aching muscles need one(try adding Epsom salts & essential oils like lavender or peppermint) , and don’t be too hard on yourself.

The Little Extras

The little extras look different for everyone. For me, it’s a haircut every 8 weeks. It’s getting my nails done, and a nice hand cream. It’s the occasional afternoon at Indigo with a Frappuccino, sans kids.

Maybe for you it’s a day out shopping, a night out for a curry, or a Netflix binge because for once you don’t feel like your eyes are being stabbed.

Whatever that little something is, treat yourself, because you deserve it.

A Final Thought

I have read some personal accounts written by those who suffer from chronic migraine which made my heart ache. People who have become isolated because their chronic pain makes it impossible to care for themselves, their homes, and their pets. People who are ashamed of their appearance, their living conditions, and what their life has become. If this resonates with you, please know that this was not written with the intent to trivialize the daily struggles you endure.

I fully understand that for many it’s not as easy as getting a haircut and whipping up a green smoothie. I only hope to share some positivity, and some strategies that have helped me and may help others navigate through this debilitating condition. We’re all in this together!

Questions, comments, complaints? Leave them down below!

Cannabis and Migraine

If you are reading this, chances are that you have been where I am right now. Living with chronic pain that conventional medicine just isn’t able to touch.

My treatment and pain management has been further complicated due to the origin of the particular type of migraine which afflicts me.

Migraine with Brainstem Aura, which was known until recently as Basilar Migraine with Brainstem Aura, was originally believed to have originated in the Basilar Artery. This theory is no longer believed to be accurate, but unfortunately entire classes of drugs were deemed unsafe and ruled out from clinical trials due to the belief that artery narrowing or spasm was the cause of the symptoms associated with MBSA.

It is now believed that triptans may be safe, but there have been few clinical trials at this point, most with only a very small test group.Needless to say, after years of medical professionals declaring certain classes of drugs unsafe for use, and the risk of serious and possibly fatal side effects, their safety has yet to be widely accepted. This leaves myself and many others with very few options.

Realizing this, I began to do research on the benefits of using Cannabis to treat migraine. I must admit, I have heard many claims in the past, proclaiming Cannabis as a super-drug. Frankly, I was and am skeptical of most super drugs, foods, supplements etc.

After reading some recent studies, and reviewing the results of several clinical trials I must say I was impressed. Surprisingly, the results of taking daily CBD and THC were comparable to or better than amitriptyline and verapamil, both of which are associated with a host of serious side effects.

I have decided to go this route and see if it provides any relief. My aim is not to experience an altered mood, or “high” so I went with the lowest dose of soft gels I could find. Each soft-gel contains 2.5mg of THC, 4mg of CBD, and they are an Indica strain. My plan is to take 1 soft-gel per day until I know how they will affect me, and then increase as tolerated and see if I find benefit.

Please be on the look out for a follow-up post where I will discuss whether or not I found any relief, experienced any side effects, and where I will decide if this is an effective form of treatment which I will continue to use in the long term.

If you have experience using cannabis to treat migraine, or any suggestions on particular strains that I or others might find particularly helpful, please feel free to leave a comment below!

Disclaimer: I live in Canada 🇨🇦 where Cannabis has been fully and completely legalized for medical and recreational use. I have safe and legal access to products which are accurately dosed. Please do not put yourself in harms way, or break any laws!

My Migraine Story

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I have lived with migraines for 20 years, since around age 10. For most of my life, my migraines were infrequent. They would often occur on the first day or days of my monthly cycle. I would lock myself in my bedroom with the curtains drawn and an ice pack on my head, in an intense state of agony aggravated by light, sound, or activity.

At age 20 I started having visual aura with my migraines; seeing sparkly zigzag lines in my field of vision before the onset of the migraine itself. While alarming at first, I grew accustomed to seeing these auras and began to appreciate them. They were a warning sign, a beacon of bad things to come. In my mid twenties, I stopped having migraines altogether and would only see the auras. What a treat, I thought. I could certainly live with this!

In June 2018, months before my 30th birthday, I started seeing auras for hours at a time, day after day. They were happening constantly, lasting longer, and causing problems with my vision. I was unable to drive, and having anxiety attacks.

Once again, the auras were all happening during my monthly cycle. I visited the nurse practitioner at my family doctor’s office, and she recommended going on a low dose birth control pill with an aim to “level out my hormones” BIG MISTAKE. I was on LoLoEstrin Fe for 1 month, from September 9 – October 2.

I will never know if what happened next was already in the works, or if it was brought on by my taking a birth control pill with estrogen in it, which I now know is clearly Contraindicated for women who experience migraine with aura. A word of caution ladies, don’t be like me… do your research.

October 19th, 2018, less than 1 week after my 30th birthday, I was outside with my 3 year old daughter Martha, and a friend. We were raking and bagging leaves from our maple trees, before the wind swept them away.

Suddenly a severe wave of vertigo sweep over me, vision in my left eye became distorted, the left side of my face went numb, and I couldn’t find my words. I thought I was having a stroke.

I had experienced another similar episode, a week prior to this, albeit not as severe. I had been exhausted and not slept well the night before, so I went to bed and brushed it off as exhaustion.

After seeing numerous doctors, having been through a whole battery of tests including 2 CT scans, I have been diagnosed with Migraine with Brainstem Aura. I am trying out topiramate to start, and have another appointment with my neurologist in May to see how things are going. 

 4 months after receiving my diagnosis, it feels like I have more questions than I have answers. My new normal is around 10 migraines per month. At times I feel isolated and depressed, and some days are a real struggle to get through, but I try to keep a positive outlook on things. 

 Thanks so much for reading my story.  Have you had a similar experience? Do you suffer from migraine with brainstem aura, or menstrual migraines? Please feel free to leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you!