Tiana Ells

@tiana-ells | contributor
Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, GAD, and OCD. -Wife -Mom to 2 dogs and 1 bunny -Lover of all things outdoors -Tea addict -Moon child -Photographer You can find me on Instagram @tea.with.tiana
Tiana Ells

The Part of Life With Fibromyalgia I Haven't Told You About

I’m a fairly open person when it comes to physical and mental illness, but I can also be very reserved, especially about my chronic pain and fatigue. It’s not because I don’t want to share about what’s going on with me, but because I don’t want people to think I’m a “whiner” or “attention seeker.” I am neither of those things. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. A lot of people know I have fibromyalgia. What they don’t know is the reality of what I deal with. They see a positive, silly, young 25-year-old woman on the outside, but they don’t realize how much pain I’m in, or how badly my anxiety is affecting me. I don’t think people really understand the intensity of my conditions. I’ll admit that part of it is my fault, for showing only the good parts of my life on social media, but showing the not so good parts can sometimes come off as attention seeking. I don’t want attention, I want my conditions to stop being stigmatized. I don’t want pity, I want people to understand these illnesses. Here is the reality of someone with fibromyalgia: 1. Pain When you tell someone you’re in pain, they don’t really take it very seriously. They usually think that you have a typical headache or back ache. They don’t realize that your whole body is experiencing aches, stabbing pain, needles, numbness, or often times a burning sensation. The also don’t realize that the clothing you’re wearing, or the cloth chair your sitting on could be causing you pain as well. People with fibromyalgia have sensitives to certain fabrics and materials. Some of us (including myself) feel pain in their organs. I’ve had ovarian pain for years, and didn’t know what it was until I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Our pain is often unbearable, and can cause difficulties in every day situations. When I’m going through bad flare-ups, I am sometimes late to work. It seems like no matter how early I wake up, it takes me 30 minutes to an hour to get out of bed because my body is stiff, my hips are locked, and my hands ache. Carrying a grocery basket can cause my hands and elbows to tense up, opening jars is sometimes impossible, household chores can take everything out of you, and the list could go on. 2. Fatigue Speaking of being late to work, fatigue is another reason it’s so difficult to get out of bed. I could have had the best sleep of my life, but it will feel like I didn’t sleep a wink. For me, chronic fatigue is one of the most difficult symptoms. There have been days I’m nervous to drive long distances because the sun causes really bad fatigue. I work a desk job, but by midday, I feel like I’ve been doing hard labor, and all I want to do is go home and sit on the couch. And good luck trying to schedule anything with me after work. I’ll just be too exhausted to do anything. If you’re able to get me to hang out with you on weekdays, it’s probably because no matter how tired I am, I really need your company. 3. Brain Fog This is the last symptom I will touch on. Brain fog is a bitch to say the least. Completely forgetting a conversation you had yesterday, having to pause mid sentence because you forgot what you were saying, or stopping a conversation altogether because you can’t think of the right words to use. This is the most embarrassing symptom of fibromyalgia. Feeling incompetent is incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking. I often wonder if people are judging me because of this. I find at times, I can’t even remember how to spell a word when I’m typing. I proofread my text messages, emails, and social media posts multiple times before pressing the “send” or “submit” button. The embarrassment of brain fog causes me so much anxiety. I just want people to know can’t control the way my brain works sometimes. Here are some other common things fibro warriors struggle with: 1. Mental illness including, but not limited to, depression and anxiety. 2. Temperature sensitives. Summers, and especially Winters are often unbearable. 3. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 4. Night sweats/hot and cold flashes. 5. Insomnia. 6. Painful and irregular menstrual cycles. 7. Problems with balance. 8. Tinnitus (ringing in ears). 9. Restless leg syndrome. 10. Rashes and skin disorders. It’s very common that individuals with fibromyalgia will struggle with different symptoms than others. All symptoms are different for everyone, so it’s difficult to explain to doctors what your symptoms are. Chronically ill patients seem to know about their illness than professionals, and that can be hard when it comes to medications and treatments. We’re all in this together, and we need support and understanding from the people and loved ones in our lives. I hope this sheds some light on this awful illness. If you know someone living with fibromyalgia, go give them a (gentle) hug and ask what you can do to help them. Just being there to listen could mean the world! We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock Image By: pecaphoto77

Tiana Ells

Letter to Husband Who Watches Generalized Anxiety Control My Day

I’ve seen a lot of these articles going around lately, and I guess I could just share those, but everyone has a different experience and struggle when it comes to anxiety. Some people are fine until they’re triggered by something. Some people, myself included, are not fine and the triggers just make it worse. GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) has so many different severities, with way too many symptoms to keep track of. When you have generalized anxiety disorder, you seem to obsessively worry about every day life events that wouldn’t be a concern to most other people. Just trying to get through the day is exhausting enough without anxiety feeding on every ounce of energy you’ve been able to gather up after a restless night of fighting off bad dreams. As I’ve said before, anxiety gets to choose how your day goes. It gets to wiggle it’s way into your life at the most inconvenient moments. Worst of all, it gets to affect your relationships in many different ways. So here’s another letter. A letter to the person whot’s more important than anxiety. A letter to the person who matters most. Dear Husband, My body hurts again today. It’s taking everything I have to relax, but my shoulders just want to be connected to my ears. I just want to say I’m sorry for having a mental illness. I know it’s not really my fault, but I will always feel that I’m to blame. I know you don’t understand what I’m going through, and I don’t make it any easier by not talking to you about it, but that’s just another thing anxiety does. It keeps everything inside. It doesn’t let you come up with the words to explain how you feel. It feeds on fear. The fear of saying something wrong, or making you believe I’m completely out of my mind. If I say something you don’t want to hear, it will have a domino effect and I’ll eventually drive you away. Writing this is taking all of my emotional strength, and it’s only 8 a.m.   You usually know when something is wrong. Most of the time I’ll tell you about something small that is bothering me to avoid having to talk about the monsters inside of my head. I so badly want to tell you everything, but like I said before, it just isn’t that easy. I try to tell you little things at a time that seem harmless, or tell you what triggered me to have a bad day. By keeping things from you, I’m hoping to save you from worrying about me, but I really know it’s only going to put a strain on our marriage. Hiding my thoughts always turns into hiding other parts of myself from you. I know that hurts you. It hurts me too. I wish I wasn’t this way. I know our lives would be easier without all of my baggage. You didn’t sign up for this, but neither did I. If I could have one thing in life, it would be to take all of this away. To take away the pain it has caused the both of us. I hope I can get a handle on this someday. Everyone says it just takes time, and I’m hopeful that time is on our side. I do my best to work on myself. I’ve tried everything I can think of with no luck. But I’ll keep trying. I’ll never stop fighting off my demons. However, I do ask one thing from you, because I can’t continue to do this alone and keep my sanity. I ask that you see the signs, and give me a hug. Most of the time I just need you to touch me for a minute so I feel more at ease. When we’re sitting on the couch and I’m trying to catch my breath, pull me closer to you. When we’re walking through the store and I’m clenching my fist or picking at the skin around my nails, grab my hand. When I’m biting my lips or the insides of my cheeks, grab my face and kiss my forehead or just smile at me. I know you may think that these small gestures don’t help, but they do. Your affection lets me know everything is going to be OK, even if it’s only for a moment. Your love keeps me going every day, and I can’t thank you enough for that. I love you. Love, Your “crazy” wife We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via Archv

Tiana Ells

Having a Chronic Illness Means You Are Strong

I do my best every day to hide my pain and exhaustion. Most days I’m successful, but on days like today I can’t even manage to make my smile look genuine. When you have a chronic illness, you don’t get to choose your good days, and there’s no telling how many hours of “good” you’ll get before it all comes crashing down. On days like today you wake up from a full night’s rest, but feel like you haven’t rested at all. You fall asleep standing up in the shower, a body part you’ve never had pain in before will suddenly hurt like hell, you’re shivering in 90 degree weather and it feels like you have weights strapped to your body. On days like today, you do the bare minimum. Your hair is dirty, but your shoulders hurt too bad to wash it. Your have dark circles and a puffy face, but you don’t have the energy to put on any makeup. You throw on your comfiest jeans, shirt and shoes so you don’t have to worry about your body hurting from uncomfortable clothing. Then you look in the mirror and don’t even recognize yourself, and you hope people don’t think you’ve let yourself go, because you did try your best to put yourself together. Even after all of this, you have to look at yourself again and realize how much strength you have. You got out of bed this morning. You managed to shower. You made it to work. You did your chores. You really have strength when you have a chronic illness. Even if you don’t look like you care about yourself, you do, because people who care about themselves get through their day no matter how hard it is. You go to bed more exhausted than when you got out of bed, but you still accomplished something today, and that is what makes you strong. You faced the day with a smile on your face (genuine or not), and that is what makes you brave. Your illness gives you the drive to fight for your life day in and day out. You are amazing. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Thinkstock photo via  monkeybusinessimages.

Tiana Ells

Getting Diagnosed With Fibromyalgia After Many Years of Chronic Pain

“Nothing is wrong with you.” “You’re very young and healthy.” “You probably just need some rest.” “Here’s a few days’ worth of medication. Come back if you don’t feel any better.” These are just a few of the things I’ve repeatedly heard over the years. I’ve been in pain since I was a teenager due to a back injury. Any pain I had felt in my body since then I always just assumed was because of said injury. I had learned how to tolerate my pain for so many years, so I also tolerated any other symptoms, including the anxiety I was diagnosed with at 16. 2012 came around and I’d finally had enough. I made an appointment with my doctor to try some medication for my anxiety. While at my appointment I was also diagnosed with OCD and given a prescription for Zoloft and an emotional support pet.   Fast forward four months. I had been experiencing pelvic pain for about two years, and was told it was due to my IUD. The pain got so severe I had to spend the night in the ER. Pelvic exam: Normal. CT scan: Normal. Urine sample: Normal. I was sent home with nothing for the pain, no answers and a recommendation to see an OB/GYN in two weeks. I did just that, and of course everything came back normal. I’d had enough, and got my IUD removed a few months later. Between that time and May of 2017, I had regularly visited different OB/GYN offices to get pelvic exams, blood tests, ultrasounds, etc. All normal, and the pain was always checked off as period cramps or a temporary annoyance. Then in May of this year, I was once again experiencing severe pelvic pain. This occurred after a 30-day period, followed by an eight-day period a week after that (which I had seen my OB/GYN for, and of course all tests came back normal). I went into the clinic and had explained to the PA my usual symptoms: “pelvic pain, back pain, months of fatigue and night sweats.” She figured it was a ruptured cyst, and sent me home with a prescription for Naproxen. She told me if I wasn’t feeling better in a couple days, I would need to come in for an ultrasound. She called the next day to check up on me. I was feeling better, but still in pain. She made an appointment for me to come in for an ultrasound. Two days later I had my ultrasound, which came back normal. She sent me home with different pain med, and advised me to go to the ER if the pain didn’t go away. Nine years of back pain (which now resulted in knee pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, head pain, etc.), seven years of pelvic pain and a countless number of times hearing the word “normal.” You can imagine how much I hate that word. I was at a loss at this point. Multiple doctors, and all the research I could possibly do, but no answers. A couple months passed, and the fatigue I’d been feeling since the holidays was getting worse and worse every passing week. I could no longer function like this. I finally took the advice of an acquaintance and made an appointment with my regular doctor to talk to him about fibromyalgia. When this acquaintance mentioned fibromyalgia to me, I denied it. My best friend has fibro, and there was no way I did as well. Her pain seemed much worse than mine. I can’t have what she has. I kept telling myself that my anxiety and OCD were making me tired and tense. I was wrong. My doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. The F-word I really didn’t want to hear. He gave me the news, told me to get rest and exercise, gave me a sample of Lyrica and sent me on my way. After my appointment, I sat in my car and took a couple minutes to cry. It was a bittersweet experience. I was crying because of the diagnosis, but I was also crying because I was happy to finally have answers after nine years of frustration. I also realized that just because other people may seem to have it worse than me doesn’t mean I’m not in pain as well. It may just be a different kind of pain. Fibro is different for everyone. I may have a symptom that someone else doesn’t, but we share the same illness. After being diagnosed, I had the most amazing support from my husband, family, friends and even strangers. I feel lucky to have such amazing people in my life, and hope others have the same support as well. I’ve also realized how strong I am. I’ve been through all of this and have still pushed through it all. I will not let my illness get in the way of living my life. I appreciate my life so much more now. I realize I do need to rest, and I won’t be able to do all the things I want to do, or the things other people are doing, but I’m still going to do everything I possibly can. I refuse to let my pain and exhaustion stop me from doing the things I love. My diagnosis does not define me. I define my diagnosis. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Thinkstock photo via Good_Studio.