Cheer and Cherries

Hello dear Readers!

It’s summer, and with it comes a most delectable treat. CHERRIES! They are scrumptious and make me very happy : ) Just picture them, that charming scarlet berry with flesh sweeter than candy and shiny to boot.

I could probably eat an entire bowl of them. They are the perfect sweet thing for a hot afternoon. Well, for anytime really. Plus they come with several diverting activities such as pit spitting and stem knotting! Take a friend and have a pit spitting contest, it’s fun and harmless. Unless you’re wearing a white shirt, or if you’re REALLY good at it and hit the old man next door. Then it’s not so harmless.

Since they are so exquisite I look forward to them all year long. Cherries make summers that much more craved and desired. Of course, summer really is a fantastic season on all accounts. But this is what I wanted to get at, looking forward to things. At the risk of sounding trite, cheesy, and banal I wanted to bring it up.  You see, it is important. We spend so much of our time looking after our physical health that we sometimes overlook our mental wellbeing. I’m not recommending pills or a therapist. I’m suggesting we add a little more joy into our lives.

Being excited for things, smiling unexpectedly, feeling a rush of adrenaline, or the quiet warm feeling you get when you succeed at some small task are all things most people take for granted. My first year of being sick was mentally torturous. There were days I would wake up, and the only thing I would look forward to was returning to my bed. I am not depressed. I wasn’t then. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and a sickness all its own. But circumstances can suck sometimes. It is especially thus when you feel so terribly out of control.

So lets take some control back! I know, there are no guarantees that you have enough energy to go to school. I can’t promise that you got enough sleep the night before, or that you can read a book. But there are still things to do to make yourself feel good about yourself.

The first one is easy and slightly obvious: appearance. Pie and I both gained weight when we first got sick. It seemed a dreadful injustice to feel so ill and also not like the way you look. My acne also came back, so I looked a hot mess. At the time I was constantly feverish and hot. I have mass amounts of thick, wavy hair and this put me at a bit of a disadvantage. The back of my neck would become sweaty and uncomfortable and over time I began to detest my hair. So I decided what every girl threatens to do at one time or another, to cut it off. I went to our dear hairdresser and got a boys cut (I donated the rest to Locks of Love).

To my eternal shock, I loved the way I looked. It gave me this little glow inside that I felt different in a good way, in a pretty way. As tame as that was, it was a bit of an adventure. So, I’m encouraging you to try something new. You’re young, and it’s just hair. So get that hair cut that has a bit of a risk to it, or if you want to dye your hair blue, go for it! There’s a good chance that if you’ve wanted it long enough it will turn out grand. Of course, if your hair is your favorite part about yourself, leave well enough alone. You can be adventurous in other ways.

I confess, I got this next idea from Pie. Nail Polish. She paints each fingernail a different color and it looks brilliant. I don’t paint my nails, I’m clumsy and generally make the polish look like it’s been through a blender. But Pie makes it look cool. The different colors match everything and give a little edge to an otherwise conservative look. Just make sure you don’t use the no chip nail polish (Pie used it for prom and it took MONTHS to come off, she was quite put out).

Both of those ideas are just ways to stand out a bit. One of my dear friends puts a single safety pin on the pocket of her jeans. When asked why, she gives a sly grin and shrugs. “Just to see who notices. It’s amazing how many people freak out over something that’s not quite normal.” At first I didn’t get it, but it’s true. Little stuff like that is empowering. You suddenly don’t fit into the sea of people around you. In a good way, a way you chose to stand out instead of POTS choosing it for you.

In regards to clothing, I’m not going to presume to tell you how to dress. I don’t fancy myself a fashionista, nor do I have any aspiration to be so. But I do like the way I look. My junior year in high school I was constantly playing sports so I stopped wearing pretty things. Then, senior year when I got sick, I stopped caring about my appearance altogether. Don’t get me wrong, sweat pants and sporty cotton t-shirts ROCK. But, you don’t exactly feel attractive in them. This year I discovered something fantastic, dresses. If you wear a dress, people suddenly assume you put effort into your outfit. Plus, putting on a dress requires NO mental concentration whatsoever. You don’t have to think about if the shorts match the shirt, or anything else besides. You just slip a dress over your head. And, suddenly, you feel like a girl again. Plus, they’re super comfy (at least the ones I buy). So get a comfy dress and throw on a pair of converse or flip flops with them. Or if you are way gutsier than I am, combat boots. Just an idea : )

Accessories. Ok, I’m definitely aiming this post to mostly girls which is horribly unfair. But the percentage is three to one, and I’m a girl. I don’t know how to be a boy. I don’t know what makes you guys empowered or handsome. But I’d love to know. So, if there’s something that makes you feel supermegafoxyawesomehot, tell us in the comments. Help someone else to feel that way once in awhile : )

Back to accessories. Such a broad topic, and my matching abilities are sub-par to say the least. But they’re hilarious and fun. One of my favorite things in this world are my red converse. They’re high tops and make me terribly happy. I think everyone should have something like that, something silly but fun. I also have these crazy large headphones. They’re red and match the converse. These sort of things kind of spice up a normal routine. I know people who do the same things with earrings, necklaces, and gloves. Also hats. I love hats, especially cloches, but am quite frankly too lazy and too clumsy to keep them on my head. So I wear headbands. Because even though I have short hair I don’t want to be thought of as a boy. (Speaking of which, boy hair cuts look really cool with dresses) Headbands are fantastic because you jam one on your head and it looks like you did something super elaborate to your hair. A guy friend one time said how much he liked what I did to my hair, even though it was the same hairstyle I had worn all year. Just with a headband.  So, if you want a simple fix, wear a headband. They have a ton on Etsy which are gorgeous. The one below is one I wear a lot.

If you’re wondering where to get fun things, online is the place to go. At least for POTS kids. Takes no energy whatsoever. But, if it’s a weekend morning and you’re going stir crazy/have a modicum of energy, go to your local Farmers Market. They have cool craft-sy stuff that no one else will have. I got an adorable fox hat (not real fox, knitted. I’m a vegetarian remember) there and it’s pretty stinking adorable.

By the way, I’m not recommending you do anything permanent to your appearance. So, don’t rush out and get a tattoo or crazy piercing (besides the health hazards, they last a lot longer than you intend). I mean, do as you like, but start small. Do something to get your confidence back. To remind yourself that you’re an attractive human being. You aren’t POTS. You are a person that’s going to kick POTS butt. The person you are now isn’t you. The anxiety about work, the nausea, dizziness, the endless fatigue and brain fog, not you. That’s POTS. So don’t let yourself think you’re lazy, ugly, or anything else demeaning. You are brave. Brave enough to deal with a debilitating illness and still remember how to crack a joke every once in awhile. So remember yourself as that person, not the one POTS makes you be all too often.

So, this post was about looking forward to things. But I think the thing we need to look forward to most is just being ourselves. Sure, it helps to plan for the future person we’ll be someday when we’re well, but its nice to enjoy the present once in awhile too. It’s nice to feel like we look good, even if we don’t feel great. But, in the end, I’ve learned there’s not that much we can control. And that’s ok. The only thing we really can control is how we treat others and how we treat ourselves. We can’t choose how we feel, or what our physical and mental limitations are. So make someone’s day by smiling instead of growling at them. Or better yet, make your own day by making yourself feel human (even if it’s only for a little while). Because you should feel beautiful. Or handsome. And successful. Even though our version of success isn’t what most people define it as. I hope you feel special today, and I hope you love yourself a little more.

Be well!

Teddy

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