Helping women with chronic illnesses


I have a notion some of you are going to be able to relate to the topic of being overwhelmed

One word sums up this week for me… overwhelmed! I’ll just focus on my overwhelmed state online. I won’t take the space or energy to delve into the “in real life” aspects. Here goes…

I had grand plans for all of the posts I was going to do about various chronic conditions this week in honor of Invisible Illness Awareness Week. There are so many invisible illnesses that I have myself and have written about in the past (endometriosis, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity, and interstitial cystitis… just to name a few) and that I was planning on focusing on this week.


However, whatever the date on the calendar may be and whatever I may try to plan, I have learned that I have to listen to my body. This was a tiring week. I did the best I could. I managed to do an Invisible Illness Awareness Week post on kickoff day and since then I have written posts about chronically ill blogger friends of mine who were in need of support:

… for Allison HERE and for Melissa HERE

Most of my time online this week was on twitter. I promoted Invisible Illness Week there and I did my best to rally support for my friends. With twitter I can use short bursts of energy. Even when I spend a more extended period on twitter, I don’t have as much trouble concentrating on what I’m writing as I do for a post. So sometimes when I’m really struggling (like this week), I’m actually on twitter more.

Is there a 50% complete post sitting in my draft folder on Invisible Illness Week? Yes. Do I have enough energy to finish it? No. It’s not getting finished, unfortunately. This post I am writing right now and some brief time on twitter will probably be about all I can handle today, especially considering I just got back from seeing my primary care physician (almost an hour drive each way) and I saw my dentist earlier in the week (also an hour each way).

Bottom line… I am exhausted. My email is the most backed up it’s ever been (which is saying a lot!), my comments moderation is currently backlogged (which I try not to let happen), I feel guilty because there are so many blogs I’m long overdue to visit and/or comment on, and right now I just can’t stress about it.

So, if you’d like to read about the topics I mentioned or other chronic conditions I have blogged about, please check out the “categories” section or search box in my blog’s right sidebar.


If I had the energy I’d finish that post where I was going to generate all the hyperlinks and sort them by illness. However, I have to listen to my body and right now it is telling me to SLOW DOWN.

Oh, I should make note that I also have blogged extensively about infertility. There are so many women with endometriosis who have infertility and this is a topic near and dear to my heart. So I just wanted to be sure to point that out too!

I wish I could write more but I’m about to drop. This has been an emotional, tiring, busy, draining, stressful, exhausting week. It did not help one bit that my period came early again and that it is zapping my energy like there’s no tomorrow. Endometriosis has a tendency to sometimes do such lovely things. (At least in my 27 years living with it I have found that to be true).

So, if you are chronically ill and/or in chronic pain and you feel tired or guilty for what you didn’t get done today… cut yourself some slack and get some rest. We can only do our best (i.e. our best without pushing ourselves TOO hard in unhealthy ways). After that, we just need to step back and accept that “it is what it is”. So, take a deep breath and go engage in some form of self care.

Whether it’s a cup of tea or popping in your favorite CD, do something to make yourself feel good and try to distract yourself from your symptoms and just relax your muscles. Your body will thank you.

How about you? Are you overwhelmed? How do you calm down or cope when you get overwhelmed? Please leave comments on this topic. When we share our coping skills, we help ourselves and help others simultaneously.


Let’s help each other. Please share your ideas.

This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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Reading: Overwhelmed!


1 ElizabethNo Gravatar { 09.18.09 at 4:31 pm }

I needed this post today – thank you – I too have had a trying week and a trying day today. I feel guilt that my illness keeps me from being there for my family when they need me but feel lucky that I have such a large family that someone can be on hand if not me. Work has taken a turn for the worse with HR saying that management and my recollections of what has been approved for my workload, etc differ so now have to fight that battle and hope all turns out the best. But, gearing up for the worst.
It’s all I can do some days to get out of bed. And added stress only makes it worse. I needed to hear that it’s okay and to slow down. I try to do a good job of listening to my body and doing these things.

However, as the primary bread winner of the family – and the chronically ill one, it’s a difficult path to navigate taking care of myself vs my family.

But, as you have helped me understand, if I don’t slow down, then there won’t be any me left to do anything.

Thanks – and take care of yourself. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

.-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know =-.

2 EndochickNo Gravatar { 09.18.09 at 5:52 pm }

Jeanne – take some time and pause for your health. Those posts and e-mails can wait, dear. I’m thinking about you and sending you positive thoughts. If you need me, I’m here! Give me a shout out.

Posting about invisible illness – here it’s the end of the week and I hadn’t even thought to do that on my own blog! UGH! I’ve been swamped in revision land while I have a host of my own invisible illnesses also that I could have been posting about. silly me. We all get busy, I guess.
.-= Endochick´s last blog ..The post where things aren’t going well… =-.

3 LisaNo Gravatar { 09.18.09 at 7:05 pm }

Bless you for your “grand plans” but bless you too for being human and saying “I cant do it all!” I’m exhausted, (I’m the founder of II week, and 1 more workshop to go in 90 minutes.) Your post was refreshing and part of the overall emotional journey of living with illness. Thank you for taking the time you did to post this, the tweets, the joy, the vulnerability.
.-= Lisa ´s last blog ..Listen live in 5 minutes to Su… =-.

4 AllisonNo Gravatar { 09.18.09 at 8:38 pm }

Try to take it easy this weekend jeanne! 🙂 you are an amazing advocate and I’m just loving the new blog.

How do I deal with being overwhelmed? Not as well as I should! Try a massage or some nice, quiet, alone time if you can. Nothing like reflecting on the things that you are thankful for-there is always something!

5 JeanneNo Gravatar { 09.18.09 at 10:06 pm }


This post came very naturally to me as I drove home from my primary care doctor’s office (nearly an hour drive). I was stressing out about all of the things I wanted to get done this week but didn’t. All week long, I have remarked repeatedly to friends and family about how overwhelmed I have been feeling. All day, every day this week… that word just kept popping into my head: overwhelmed.

Last night (around midnight) when I sent out those twitter messages regarding FollowFriday on twitter and how I’m not going to do it anymore, I felt LIBERATED! This post here, What’s Happening to #FollowFriday?, was what helped me finally make peace with what I needed to do… In my case, that meant giving up FollowFriday. (The author of that post himself talked about his intention to just cut way back on it but I have decided to stop doing it and I know from your tweets that you’ve come to the same conclusion.

Anyway, dropping FollowFriday might not sound like a big deal to many people but it had reached the point where I was spending way too much time and energy on it. (My lengthy comments on the issue are on that blog post linked above. Apparently, it’s a hot topic because that post shows it has been retweeted 132 times).

Sometimes letting some of the smaller things go really helps because all of those small things add up. So I was happy to have FollowFriday off my plate for good.

I am sorry you’ve had such a trying week and day. 🙁 While guilt is very common with chronic illness (and while I know you already know this), I just want to remind you that beating yourself up about things that are not in your control is self-defeating. So, try not to feel guilty because you’ve done nothing wrong. Easier said than done, I know! Again, guilt is quite common for chronically ill patients… especially in our society where anyone who doesn’t “keep up” with everyone around him/her is viewed by some as “lacking in ambition”, “anti-social”, or even the dreaded “lazy”.

Obviously, anytime we can’t participate in activities with our loved ones it’s going to hurt (them and us). The fact is, though, that feeling guilty about it doesn’t do anything positive. It just compounds the negative feelings. So try to give yourself a break because it is not your fault you’re sick and the negative/guilt feelings will just stress you out even more which won’t help you feel any better. (It’s such a vicious circle).

Yes, you are lucky that you have a large family that, from what you said, is helpful in these times of need. That’s awesome!

As far as work is concerned, I’m very sorry things are going the way they are. I know you’ve been struggling with them over these issues and it’s disappointing that they are not keeping their word. (It may even be a legal issue but I’m not sure). I don’t know enough about the ADA (Americans with Disabilities) Act to know if they have followed the law or not (what accommodations they are required to make for you) but I feel very badly for you because I know how hard you have tried to get things to work out. I am not a litigious person. At the same time, I know you have bent over backwards to work with your employer and it hardly seems fair for them to treat you this way. 🙁 I’m so sorry!

If it has been all you could do to get out of bed up until now, I am concerned about what a “battle” with your employer might do to your health. I say this not to upset you in any way but because I am concerned about how this situation could escalate, based on what you’ve told me to date. You may reach a point where you need to make the tough decision of whether your current job is even worth fighting for. I realize may sound like a radical concept and that you are the primary breadwinner. The thing is that if you fight tooth and nail with the company (even if you “win”!) over this job, you could lose so much health-wise that it wouldn’t be worth anything in the end anyway. 🙁

YES! It is OK to slow down. Your body is trying to tell you something. I learned the hard way that waiting too long to listen to one’s body can be a very grave error indeed. Hindsight is 20/20. I try to share my experiences with others in the hope that maybe I can prevent someone from making some of the mistakes I did. I didn’t listen to my body soon enough. I am now paying the steep price for that and so is my family. I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. I just wish I had listened to my body better and sooner. Had I done that, I might not be as sick as I am now… I might not have had my career go up in smoke… etc.

Like you worded it, “if you don’t slow down, then there won’t be any of you left to do anything”. That is true. Eventually, you could lose the ability to even force yourself to do certain things (such as go to work). That is what happened to me. I pushed myself so hard for so long that eventually I just kept landing in the hospital because my body was incapable of meeting the demands I was placing on it. I learned the hard way that it’s not worth it. It’s just not worth it. The amount of stress that my family and I have gone through is greater because I pushed too hard. I couldn’t see it at the time the way I can see it plain as day now.

Anyway, I’m not trying to get all serious and heavy on you. I am just concerned and I know you are suffering with lots of pain and struggling with the work situation.

Thank you so much! You are in my thoughts and prayers too and I hope that you figure out the way which works best for you regarding the work part.


6 JeanneNo Gravatar { 09.18.09 at 10:21 pm }


You are sweet! I had a nice, relaxing dinner with my family and we even did some brief star-gazing tonight after dinner. It’s such a beautiful, crisp, clear night! I appreciate your concern. I was online earlier today when I posted this and got caught up (temporarily) on comments moderation but I really wasn’t stressing by that point. I was actually “in the zone” and feeling nicely productive after I got home from seeing my primary care doctor today. I talked to her about last week’s cardiology appointment and basically explained why I want to “fire” my cardiologist. She totally understood and we now have a plan for that. She also came up with a new approach to my problem with the CPAP headgear for my sleep apnea. So, I feel much better now than pretty much any other day this week. 🙂

You are too funny. You are so busy… I’m not surprised that Invisible Illness Week swooshed by when you weren’t looking. Look at it this way… you blog about invisible illnesses year-round! So, don’t even stress about it. Yes, we all get busy.


P.S. Yes, I know I still owe you blog comments. I have been struggling with comments moderation on my own blog all week and sometimes I’m too tired for all things “blog” and I just go on twitter instead. I didn’t forget you, though. 🙂

7 JeanneNo Gravatar { 09.18.09 at 10:29 pm }


Thank you for your kind words. I can only imagine how exhausted you are! I hope that you will be able to rest and recuperate after all of the excitement and hard work you’ve had. It was my pleasure to help get the word out about II week.

As far as the vulnerability factor, I have found that people are quite often relieved and refreshed to hear others express feelings similar to their own… in this case the whole concept of feeling overwhelmed and determining when to pull back and rest. Thanks for taking the time to stop by during your whirlwind week! 🙂


8 JeanneNo Gravatar { 09.18.09 at 10:38 pm }


Yes, that is the plan. I truly do want to chill out this weekend because my body has been asking for it. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words and I’m glad you are enjoying the new blog. It’s hard to believe I launched it all the way back on June 1st! It still feels “new” to me too. (At least on some level)…

I don’t think any of us feel we deal with being overwhelmed as well as we should. I think we all wish we could do more on this concept but that this can be easier said than done in this hectic world. I like your ideas! I used to go for massage therapy years ago and just loved it. Then I started acupuncture. The problem was that I couldn’t afford both. So, I had to make a choice. I chose acupuncture over massage therapy almost 9 years ago and I’ve been going ever since. Acupuncture has changed my life immensely (for the better)!!! While I miss massage therapy, I am grateful (so grateful!) for acupuncture. I also like the simple but effective idea of quiet/alone time. Not only is this very helpful but it’s free of cost. Yes, gratitude is amazingly important. Great ideas!!!

Thanks, Allison! I hope you are starting to feel better. REST! 🙂


9 YayaNo Gravatar { 09.19.09 at 10:08 pm }

Overwhelmed? What’s that? Kidding…..overwhelmed is my middle name these days…
I haven’t even done my Invisible Illness post yet. I haven’t even started it. It’s just too much for me right now. Working 10 hours a day, trying to adopt, trying to conceive, wanting to lose more weight, wanting to learn the guitar, wanting to repair a crumbling relationship with my husband due to infertility. So many things. Too many things. Not enough time in the day. Sigh….
.-= Yaya´s last blog ..Friday Fragments/Focus Friday =-.

10 JeanneNo Gravatar { 09.21.09 at 11:26 pm }


Sorry for ridiculous delay posting comment. It has been out of control around here. I’m split too many ways trying to do too much at once.

Yes, I know we share a middle name. 🙂 Hopefully, we’ll be able to modify the names soon.

Since you posted this comment here, you did do an II Week post (which I commented on). I’m sorry it was hard to get done during that week. (I know that feeling).


I’m sorry it’s so challenging. I am thinking of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sending positive energy your way!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂


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