Mind over matter. The brain beneath my chronic pain.

When I was 11 I had a gymnastics coach who wondered if I might have juvenile arthritis. I was in pain often and I was training for gymnastics a few times a week. I have no idea if the pain that I had then is linked with the chronic pain that I experience today. I do think that some of my childhood contributed to it and probably contributes to the pain that I experience now.

I have been learning a lot about ways that emotional trauma has an impact on health, especially on chronic pain. One of the things that I’ve learned is that trauma or adverse childhood experiences and high levels of stress all contribute to chronic pain. Regardless of where the chronic pain stemmed from. Even when someone has pain resulting from an injury. When it becomes a chronic pain there is usually something in our past associated with trauma or stress. And likely something from childhood.

I didn’t have a traumatic childhood, but I do think that I had a stressful childhood. I don’t believe stress is necessarily a negative thing. There is definitely negative stress. But some of the stresses are good stresses. There are positive things that cause stress. Things like getting married, child birth, moving to a new place where you are starting a new job… But at the same time there are also negative stresses like a car accident or bullying or domestic violence that are also traumatic. Stress and trauma contribute to the way that your brain is wired. That has an impact on mental health and on how your body experiences pain.

Mind over matter. 

This isn’t to say that pain is all in your head. Unfortunately some people do believe that. But that’s not at all what I’m saying.  Our brain is wired and has receptors for pain that are developed in our childhood and are affected by our life experiences. So when you have an experience of high stress… that will have an effect on how your brain is wired. Both with how we experience those emotional situations and also with things like pain.

Childhood stresses

So when I was 11 years old I was a child of an RCMP member (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a federal police force). That meant that we were usually transferred to a new posting every 3-5 years. I had already moved halfway across the country twice by the time I was 8. The move at age 8 moved us to an isolated community in the north. As caucasian English speakers we were in the minority. That doesn’t mean that we suffered from discrimination. In fact the opposite was true for “whites”. Even though the white English were less in numbers we still held greater power. We held the professional service positions that had brought us to the community: police, doctors, teachers, firefighters, etc.

We moved to that community from Saskatchewan. I was one of the few white girls in my class and I very quickly became a target of a bully. I lived in the community at a time when children were held back if they didn’t do well in school. Today we know for social development it is important for children to learn with their peer groups – even if they haven’t mastered the skill level to move on. At that time I had a 16 year old girl in my grade 5 class. I was 10 years old. And she decided that she didn’t like me. She harassed me, physically attacked me and tried to taunt me into fighting with her.

This is an example of the kind of stress that I experienced in my childhood. I think that it may have contributed to my health condition then and today. At the time these things didn’t really feel so serious. I certainly didn’t attribute it to the pain I was experiencing when I was in gymnastics.

Chronic acute stress

Skip ahead to today. I believe my development of fibromyalgia more than 15 years ago is due to chronic acute stress. Some of the stress hasn’t been traumatic. Some of the stress has been from some of those positive life changes.

I moved a lot. I enjoyed moving. I liked the change. I liked getting to know new communities… new people and learning a new culture. Those things, while I experienced them as positive stress, were stressful things. And were experiences that would have had an impact on my brain development and the wiring of those pain receptors and how my brain interprets the things that my body experiences.

Now Distant Thoughts

Marital stress

I have experienced quite a number of  traumatic things in my adult life. A marriage that ended after ten years. During which my ex-husband had two affairs. Moving multiple times. When we were looking for new opportunities and then because he had joined the military, and then when we were posted. We had two children during that time. I changed jobs multiple times because of those moves. Some of those things were positive. But, it was a roller coaster of a marriage. And the things that I think had the biggest impact on my health were those of highly traumatic negative stress.

Own your choices

Since that time I have also had a couple of very negative work environments. I ended up taking a medical leave and eventually moving on to another job. Making the decision to move on was a difficult one. And I made that decision again three years ago. I moved to a job that definitely allowed for a decrease in that stress, but also meant a big decrease in my pay cheque.

Significant loss

I lost my mother 6 years ago. It was quite sudden. We were close. I had just moved back to Nova Scotia where my parents were living, a few years before. We had lived a long way away from each other for quite a while. We didn’t live close enough to see each other everyday, but close enough that we could see each other when we wanted to.

When I lost my mom I felt like I’d lost a huge piece of myself. I’m sure most people who lose a parent at a young age feel that way. My mom was 59, I had eleven year old and nine year old daughters who were very close to their Nanny. I lost not only my mom, but the biggest support in my life.

Mom was someone who understood what I was going through. She also had chronic pain. She also had fibromyalgia. Mom could relate to my migraines. Mom would take care of me. She was one of the few people who did.

My own theory for a number of years now has been that my life of chronic acute stress has been the main cause of my pain, chronic sleep issues and frequent migraines.

Improving mental health and chronic pain

I’ve been learning a lot about things that we can do to improve our health and especially our pain and mental health. Each of those things can be isolated when describing what they are and how to treat them. But they are interconnected and have commonalities both in cause & effect and in treatments. So one of the things that I have learned will have the most significant benefit is to address those root causes. Of where the pain, the depression, the anxiety, the migraines, the chronic health issues all are likely stemming from.

Things like mindfulness practise. Things like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). By addressing childhood adversity in a way that you come to terms with and can separate those experiences from your pain conditions our health can improve. I’ve found a number of different experts from both traditional medicine and from a psychological perspective who say a lot of the same things.

Of course we need to address the things that are very clearly physical. Like eating right. And physical activity. And doing what you can to improve your sleep. Based on the routine that you have every day and the things that you consume.

Mom: A life force that lives on within and around me.

The brain beneath my chronic pain

But there is this whole other piece that can also help to integrate the way that your brain processes experiences and the way that your brain tells you your body is experiencing things. It is actually those pain receptors that can be positively affected by psychiatric and psychological treatment.

Mindfulness isn’t this hooey, soft, ineffective trend that people do just to feel some inner peace. Practising psychological, CBT, psychiatric treatment or emotional therapy are actually ways of changing the way that you brain perceives experiences.  Physical and otherwise.

I’m starting to practise some of these exercises. And I’m beginning to find that even the way that I think about my pain and how I am feeling each day is different than it was before. I have heard a lot of positive reports from others doing these exercises too.

These are not things that would be of concern medically or counter-indicated. They are not exercises that could result in making things worse. Unlike the medication that is prescribed to me that might have side effects or could result in addiction. Sometimes there are physical therapies that a person can try that can actually cause injury if not done properly.

The exercises that I am talking about are gentle exercises of your brain. At their very worst they could have no positive effect. At their very they best they could help me feel better.

Choose to feel better

People need to be hearing that we have control over how we perceive (feel) our own physical experiences. We are able to change our mental health. And we can do so by making choices and by doing exercises that require a little bit of discipline. But are actually quite easy to do without needing a lot of professional guidance.

A picture of mental health. Photo credit: Debbie Roberts

Photo credit: Debbie Roberts

So that’s where I am at.

I am starting to make these exercises a part of my routine.

It’s not easy. When you start from a place where your day to day means just getting through the day. Feeling completely spent, exhausted and uncomfortable. Maybe even in intolerable pain. It is very difficult to see where you can make the time and mental space to do these exercises.

So, I’m starting small. I’m starting with little short exercises a few times a week. Hopefully increasing that to several times/week soon, and then to a daily practise.

Once I have a daily practise, I will increase the length and number of exercises that I do. I can change the connection that my body has with my mind and my emotions and how I relate to the world. Both the physical environment around me and the people that I have relationships with.

I’m going to share a few resources that I have found really helpful.

I would love to hear your story and if you’ve tried any of these things, what kinds of outcomes you’ve had. Maybe there is some way that we can hold each other accountable. I’m going to do a challenge myself next month and I hope that you will join me. We can be accountability partners and supports for each other and others in need as well.

Sign up for my free worksheet to help you figure out your own wellness goals. Join my facebook group and tell me what your intention is. I want to hear how you plan to challenge yourself to get better.

Managing health with a doctor shortage

Are you affected by our doctor shortage?

According to a November 2017 article on CBC the doctor shortage amounts to 37,000 Nova Scotians without family doctors. Our family is about to join the ranks with four of us losing our doctor.

We were very fortunate when we left the metro area and moved to the rural town of Yarmouth. With a referral from my doctor, to a doctor he’d worked with in some capacity we had a doctor almost immediately after moving. I know people who went 4 years before finding a new doctor after their doctor’s practise closed.

Today we are faced with our doctor’s practise closing in two months, if he can’t find someone to take over his practise. Fortunately for our community our doctor is moving to another much needed position, at our ER. However, for people such as myself and my daughter who have chronic conditions or frequent health concerns… it just plain sucks.

What does someone needing regular and consistent care do?

It’s not such a big deal for people like my youngest who almost solely sees a doctor in the event of an emergency. But what does someone who needs regular and frequent care do? I’m fortunate to have a specialist who helps me attempt to manage my pain, but I need more than just pain management. And I need someone who is familiar with my history.

I’ve been trying to set myself up to be taking a well-rounded approach to my care. I’ve been reading books on many different approaches to chronic pain management. I see a physiotherapist and a massage therapist regularly. I’ve tried many other modalities and professionals for treatment.

I am attempting to track everything somehow. I use a lot of apps that cross-sync, so most of my data is available on my smartphone.

Not only do we have no choice about who we see, but we have not choice about IF we see someone

The challenge with reading and attempting alternate treatment, is that not all doctors support that. And with a doctor shortage, not only do we have no choice about who we see, but we have no choice about IF we see someone at this point.

If it were possible to see a doctor, nurse practitioner, or other medical professional on an ongoing basis privately, I believe I would. Unfortunately, of the alternate treatment modalities I’ve tried there is not one collaborative source for this that I can find.

I’m seriously considering getting my own wellness coach. Someone who can help me navigate all of this. It’s interesting that even when someone has the skill set to do so for someone else, it is still important to find a third party for ourselves.

Find a wellness coach and support community

If you are looking for someone who understands the challenges of navigating a complex medical and alternative medicine approach to treatment for your own health & wellbeing, contact me. I have done a lot of research and am aware of multiple sources for information and for support.

Want a place to chat with a coach and others in similar circumstances? Join our community.

I hope to see you there! 


Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at ceilidho at ceilidhontherun dot com, or use my contact form!

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GIFT GUIDE for Chronic Pain Sufferers

A Gift Guide for Chronic Pain Sufferers

*This post contains affiliate links.


Wellness GIFT GUIDE for Chronic Pain sufferers


wellness gifts for chronic pain

I have researched nearly every tool that I use to help ease my chronic pain. Some help more than others, but following are tried and true products that help to make my life a little more bearable…

Aside from massage therapy, which I highly recommend, and being completely buoyant in water, heat probably provides me with the most relief. So, I love both my microwaveable heat packs, and moist-heat heating pad. The long magic bag that can wrap over my shoulders, and the large size heating pad that will extend from neck down to tail-bone…

1. Magic Bag Extended Combo Pack

2. Theratherm Digital Moist Heating Pad – Large

There are a number of products on the market for topical pain relief, extra strength Voltaren provides me with a bit of relief…

3. Back Pain Killer Extra Strength Relieve Cream Voltaren 2.32% 30g / relief gel muscle joint


For more targeted pain relief I use a tens machine on trigger points that just won’t stop aggravating me…



My sleep suffers significantly as does many chronic pain sufferers’, so I have found a few tools to help including aromotherapy essential oils and blue light blockers…

5. ArtNaturals Aromatherapy Essential Oil and Diffuser Set

6. Amber light & reading glasses – Ultimate Sleep Bundle

Somnilight Ultimate Sleep Bundle

There is something soothing about a warm cup of tea, whether for sickness, pain, insomnia, etc. Davids Tea are my favourite…

7. DAVIDs TEA – Organic Cold 911

DAVIDs TEA – Organic Mother’s Little Helper


We all need to stay hydrated for optimal health, but pain sufferers especially need to keep those toxins flushing. I really like infusing my water with lemons or different varieties of frozen fruit. A travel bottle and infuser in one is a great gift for someone who needs to keep the water handy and wants to add some flavour and/or additional health benefits from infusion…

8. 2-in-1 Infuser Water Bottle,CLINE Sport Water Bottles BPA Free Gym Water Bottle with Fruit Lemon Squeezer

I take a lot of medications and supplements, and with the brain fog caused by meds, lack of sleep and the pain itself, I need a lot of reminders. I use an app that serves both as a reminder and a log, and still need an organizer for when I forget to log my meds and have no recollection if I took them or not…

9. MEDca Pop-Up Weekly Pill Organizer, Single Box and 4 Daily Compartments


I have found hydrotherapy to be the ultimate in pain relief, before purchasing a permanent hottub with therapeutic jets I had an inflatable hottub. I used it outdoors in the summer, and in my basement in the winter…

10. AQUAPARX 600SPA 155 cm Inflatable Hot Tub

I’ve been listening to a number of podcasts dedicated to improved health and chronic pain. Dr. Joe Tatta has a fantastic podcast focused on functional medicine and non-opioid treatment of pain. He recently published the book “Heal Your Pain Now”. I am just reading it now, but find it easy to read and like the focus of mind, movement and nutrition.

11. Heal Your Pain Now: The Revolutionary Program to Reset Your Brain and Body for a Pain-Free Life


When I spend a lot of time on the couch, or in my recliner I love my lap desk. I have a Sofia & Sam, that includes a task light (but not the extendable mouse pad). I don’t use the task light often, mainly because I am trying to reduce the bright LED light exposure to try to help my sleep…

12. Sofia + Sam Multi Tasking Lap Desk with USB Light (Black Top) | Supports Laptops Up To 15 Inches

Finally, an extra gift idea, simply a basket or bin comes in really handy. I had set up a draw in the coffee table with all of my necessities, but have recently filled a tub with the things I most need close by, and now can move from recliner to couch without having to move more than my bin and perhaps my lapdesk if I am computing…

13. LARGE ROUND BIN – 15×16″ with O-ring and thick, sturdy material that holds shape and gives structure, simply collapse bin and store when not in use

Hopefully this Gift Guide for chronic pain sufferers gave you some great shopping ideas!


Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter @ceilidhontherun or email me at trish at trishblogs dot com!

I invite you to subscribe to my blog using one of the options available on my page (email, rss, Google Connect, like my page on Facebook, etc.)

If you enjoyed this post, please do like/share it. You can do so using the easy share button below

Wellness GIFTGUIDE for chronic pain


Living with Fibro (Fibromyalgia)

I’m often asked to describe some aspect of fibro (fibromyalgia), my chronic pain, chronic illness, etc. It’s not easy. There are so many pieces that all interconnect. As soon as I mention one thing, something else comes up… because one always affects the other, and another and another…

I recently went through my worst flareup. I’m beginning to feel like I’m coming out ahead of it now, but there’s never any total relief. My normal state is always in pain, just a lesser degree. I actually do not recall a day without pain anymore. It’s been more than thirteen years of dealing with this, day in and day out. I try not to get into it much, but you can rest assured that if I’m talking about it, it’s worse than “normal”.

What is fibro?

Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects the soft tissue, most specifically the fascia (connective tissue that attaches/covers muscles). The latest theory is something to do with nerves over-firing and not shutting off. The sensitivity to pain being much more active than pre-fibromyalgia. There may be a neurological root to this syndrome, however it is not psychological.

Fibro is so much more than that though. There are 18 tender points throughout the body that seem to be overactive at different times. During this last flareup, that lasted a few months, every single tender point was in excruciating pain. My “normal” usual involves about 6-8.

Fibro (fibromyalgia) & Chronic Pain Center

Symptoms of fibromyalgia

Living with fibromyalgia

Additionally, my muscles are always on high alert. My neck and shoulders are so tight at all times that knots form up and down my neck. It feels like that terrible neck and shoulder tension that comes during extensive highly stressful periods… only it’s 24/7. I find myself tensing muscles constantly, even in the most relaxed state. If I bring awareness to my body, I’ll notice it. And the most active pain areas are knotted up so that every visit to the massage therapist involves painful deep tissue massage in order to feel just a little relief from all the knots.

I see my massage therapist once/month. However, the benefit I feel from massage only last several days. If I could afford to, I’d have a standing weekly appointment. I also see each of a chiropractor, physiotherapist, my family physician and a pain specialist approximately monthly.

In the past I have been treated by acupuncturists, osteopaths, psychologists, social workers, natural medicine…

I have tried so many medications I have lost count. Meds for pain, meds to help my sleep cycle, meds for nerve endings…

Amitriptyline, nortriptyline, lyrica, Cymbalta, naproxen, advil, Tylenol, tramadol, Voltaren, cesamet… the list goes on.

I recently asked my pharmacy (which has only been my pharmacy for a little over three years) to give me a print out of my history. It’s several pages long. Imagine what the other ten years looks like!

I have always been one to try to avoid meds and I hate feeling like a guinea pig. Some treatments work but I have found no matter what the initial response, there is always a plateau at some point and the benefit no longer is seen.

At one point for over a year I had avoided eating all wheat, to no avail. I use a heating pad ritualistically at bedtime. I ice my flareups when they are inflamed. I have tried dry needling, “cupping”, many recommendations of supplements…

I have started logging everything, from symptoms to meds intake, foods eaten, water consumption, heart rate, stress levels, weather, my menstrual cycle, physical activity/exercise and sleep.

I live with a brain fog, and frequent vertigo. Sometimes I attribute it to lack of sleep, sometimes to the meds, and sometimes to my pain levels. In any event, my memory is nothing like it once was, and I have inconsistencies in efficiency of thought processing.

living with fibromyalgia

Photo by Paul Wesson Photography

I spent the better part of time I off recently (to rest and recover over a period of a few weeks) researching apps to log and sync most of that data. They don’t all interact, but I hope one day something will work together with them all.

Sleep is a chicken and egg kind of conundrum. I never ever get a restful sleep. My body can’t seem to get into a deep restorative sleep, ever. And yet, my pain cannot improve without some opportunity for my body to heal itself while I sleep. The pain keeps me awake, and the lack of sleep keeps the pain turned on. Chicken, egg, chicken. Egg. Chicken.

I love to be active, indoors and outdoors and I find when I have a regular routine of exercise that my health is definitely the best. But when a flareup occurs (which can be triggered by any combination of things including stress, the weather, and injury, or even just over doing it a little) I get completely derailed. And what would take a “normal” person 12 weeks to get back on track, will take me at least twice that. I need to double up the rest time and cut in half the workout intensities, and hope that something else doesn’t derail me before I get back on track.

Days like today, I feel like a complainer. A whiny, miserable, complainer. And I know there are those who look at me and think “there’s nothing wrong with you, why don’t you just suck it up?” But the fact is, as much as it gets me down, the tears just don’t flow. Living with fibro is frustrating, and often doesn’t feel like much of a life. But it’s mine and I will do so unapologetically.


Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter @ceilidhontherun or email me at trish at trishblogs dot com!

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Living with Fibromyalgia

Living with fibromyalgia is as frustrating as it is painful. After working through the pain all week and not feeling up to anything at home in the evenings, my weekends are most often spent playing catch up on my household chores. But come Monday, when one should return to work feeling rested and ready to take on a new week, I am more exhausted than ever and often in greater pain.

Living with fibromyalgia

This weekend I finally managed to clean out my pantry. Not a huge task on the scale of physical demand, but one that required standing and raising my arms above my head a lot. My shoulders hate that motion. So today, I pay for it, waking in pain. With a typical fibromyalgia flare-up: muscle tension everywhere and a headache that just won’t subside. No matter what extra strength Tylenol and water I consume, hot shower and extra strength Voltaren I use… I find myself sitting half undressed in a lazyboy, overheating from the pain, with a magic bag wrapped around my neck & shoulders.

I know how it sounds when I call into work many Monday mornings saying I’ll be late. I know my staff and my supervisor begin questioning the validity of my condition. Most of the time people around me don’t even know what pain I am enduring. I tell those who do notice, that if they can actual tell that I am in pain, it has to be pretty bad, because the days that people think I’m doing just fine, inside I feel like I’m just barely coping. The fact is, I would be much better off with a part-time job, and even better off with work that I can do from home on a flexible schedule.

I think by speaking with other Fibro-sufferers, people would learn that my situation is not at all uncommon among those with fibromyalgia. There is nothing I wouldn’t give to be able to live day to day without pain, wake feeling rested and not feel fatigued all day long, and have a clear head to process thoughts with an ability to remain focused for more than 90 seconds. Today is one of those days. I don’t want your sympathy… Just a little compassion, instead of judgement. Patience,
instead of frustration. And maybe a few extra moments to process thoughts before giving a response…

We all live with challenges that others don’t know about. It’s time to start opening up and sharing, rather than assume these challenges somehow make us inferior or less than competent. What are your daily challenges that you keep hidden away?


Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter @ceilidhontherun or email me at trish at trishblogs dot com!

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Blogging for recovery (mental health)…

The road to mental health recovery is a long, challenging one. There are curves and dips, mountains and valleys, switchbacks and stalls. Often moving so slowly we feel as if we’re in reverse. Occasionally we truly are. Sometimes the entire process has to restart, and while it feels like we’re back at the beginning, we never truly are. Each leg of the journey adds to the process – sometimes hastening the forward momentum and at times forcing us to a crawl.

Just as with the act of running, if there are two feet moving in a mostly forward direction, eventually we’ll get further ahead than when we began.

There is no magic cure. No pill to suddenly change the mood and make all of the contributing circumstances irrelevant. There are many factors that must each be tackled when the time is right, and eventually depression can be – if not entirely then at least mostly – overcome.

I am by no means in the clear when it comes to mental health. I know that life will continue to throw me curve balls and that my state of being in the moment will have a significant impact on how those events are dealt with by me.

I am confident though that today I am better equipped to weather the storms.

Photo credit: Debbie Roberts

Photo credit: Debbie Roberts

People ask me what I have done to improve my mental health, and there is no single thing. It took an accumulation of events for me to stop coping in a healthy way. It is an accumulation of activities and life changes that have allowed me to arrive on the other side.

Medication can be helpful as a sort of kickstart or bridge depending upon what you need. In my case, it was adjustments to pain medications – rather than an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication.

But that it is not what helped the most. My complete lifestyle change starting with leaving a job that was killing me in an almost systematic way is what did it. I started a new job in a much healthier environment where the ultimate goal is helping build a healthier community. I feel as though I have aligned myself with professional work that marries well with my own passion.

I have always found health-related changes easier to make when there is already a big change happening. While off to my new job, I started a better routine of exercise and eating well.

Today, almost daily I do 20-30 minutes of cardio and a light weight training circuit. 1-3 times/week I switch it up and take a land-based fitness or aqua fitness class instead, or in addition. Ultimately I knew I had arrived at my desired level of activity when not partaking became something I missed. I feel more like myself when I am active daily. And I am more conscious of what I put inside of my body at the same time.

None of these things are easy. I still see a doctor frequently for chronic pain issues. I still have days that I want to bury my head in the sand. But change really must come from within. Being ready to take ownership of my health and take risky steps to improve things required commitment and support. Whatever that support system looked like I used it. I saw a therapist who really just heard me and validated my feelings while encouraging me to keep moving forward. Friends and family, even passing acquaintances each played a role. Whether in the form of a wellness challenge at work, or bi-weekly tea dates with childhood friends… was all good.

Have you been wanting to make a change?

Just go for it, and stop being so hard on yourself!


Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter @ceilidhontherun or email me at trish at trishblogs dot com!

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Lifestyle changes – taking charge

May 13 / Mother's Day - by Kate Inglis

I have done and tried a lot of different things in the hopes of feeling better, for the last two years I just sort of stopped making any real effort at all. Now I’m ready for a big change. Bigger lifestyle changes than I’ve ever made. One that will result in (hopefully) me feeling better, more rested, more energetic, less pain, better head space… I’m not talking about a diet or a new year’s resolution to get fit and lose a few pounds. I’m talking a complete haul-over. I am going to reboot, reset and hopefully establish a whole new baseline to operate from.

 I am sick and tired of feeling sick and tired… How many times have you heard that one before?

How about this one: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, expecting different results… ?

So the new plan is:

Take all of the bad stuff out of the diet, put all of the good stuff in.

Make a daily routine that includes all of the activities that I know will support the kind of healthy lifestyle I am trying to achieve.


No more processed crap, no more sitting and hurting, less mindless head-spinning, more mindful head-clearing.


I want a day that includes a morning ritual, healthy work habits, and an evening routine that sets the stage… for a restful night’s sleep.


What do I hope to achieve? The simple answer… a life as close to pain-free as possible. The more elaborate… happiness, both in state of mind and physical being.


So much of what is recommended for a healthy lifestyle in general is priority for someone living with fibromyalgia to become better able to function. The details of the plan (daily moderate exercise, regular sleep, and omitting foods that are known to be bad for my condition: gluten; refined sugars; processed foods; dairy and soy) aren’t as important to me in making this happen as how I will make it stick.


What’s it going to take to keep on keepin’ on when it gets really tough? Some things come naturally to me – logging/journaling a lifestyle change is what started me on the blogging path eight years ago. Hold myself accountable by sharing my journey online. 


What else? I know I need goals and some sort of reward that I am working towards achieving. I am goal driven. This is the part I have deliberated over the most. I will track and evaluate my progress – there are great apps and other tools out there for this purpose. Once I’ve identified my goals and how I am going to reach them, I will create a focus board to refer to and remind me of what I am ultimately trying to do.


Here are a few of the things I’m working on:


Diet changes:

No gluten, refined sugars or processed foods, white breads/grains

Get back to eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein – i.e. fish, walnuts

Prepare: breakfast foods ahead of time (i.e. steal cut oats, smoothie mixes); lunches ahead (i.e. quinoa/bean salads); and menu plan suppers (slowcooker and/or prep ahead meals) in advance


Let’s be clear here, I intend to enjoy life and there are a few things I have no intention of giving up in the foreseeable future: espresso coffee (but will switch mostly to decaf), dark chocolate, red wine…


Changes to my routine:

Rise early; exercise; practise mindfulness; eat breakfast; lunchtime break – walk? Swim?; evening walks & yoga; prepare the next day’s meals; reading/writing; bed early… sticking with a regular bed & wake time

Do you have any specific goals/plans? What do they look like?



Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter @ceilidhontherun or email me at trish at trishblogs dot com!

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Depression… (why is it so hard to hit “publish”?)

Distant Thoughts

Photo by Paul Wesson Photography

Originally posted 5 Dec 2010: reposted for mental health awareness

Feeling particularly scattered as of late. I don’t know if it’s the time of the year, or just everything catching up with me, but I can’t seem to complete a thought, a book, or an activity… I’ve been trying to write a new post unsuccessfully for a while now. So, this will likely be a bit disjointed.

It feels like everything around me is moving in fast-forward, while I’ve got my own slow-motion activated. I wish I could say that slowing down is helping me to get greater enjoyment out of life, but rather it is just the opposite. I feel as though everything is happening without me. I’m not a player, but simply an observer, and I cannot form a thought well enough to reflect on what I witness.

Everything seems to be coming together, while I have this very real feeling of not having a handle on anything, and therefore a fear that it will all unravel at any moment.

It’s a crazy time of the year with school concerts, dance and piano recitals, Christmas parties, prepping for holiday festivities, all on top of the regular stuff. But I’m not sure that’s what has me feeling so disconnected. I’ve done this year after year, with even more on my plate. However, if I’m honest with myself, I know why I’m feeling this way.

I saw my doctor last week to discuss whether I may be suffering with depression.

This is difficult to share, but I’m pretty much an open-book most of the time and I’ve always believed there is nothing to be ashamed of in having a mood disorder, temporary or longer lasting. I guess it’s time to live what I preach. I’m fortunate to have a really fantastic doctor. He spent a lot of time with me discussing all aspects of how I’ve been feeling and for how long, then had me complete a questionnaire – I forget what it’s called but it’s a pretty standard one. It showed an indication of mild depression, and also gave us a baseline to refer to during treatment.

The interesting thing is that my doctor tells me chronic pain doesn’t usually cause depression, however depression can intensify pain. So, this would seem to indicate that it’s because I’m depressed that my pain has worsened over the past three months. Interesting.

I can’t say that there have been any significant events or experiences recently that would be cause for such a mental state. I had honestly attributed it to the chronic pain, and my frustration and discouragement as well as lack of motivation, and inability to follow-though with stuff. My doctor has ordered a bunch of bloodwork to rule out any of the major health issues that go hand in hand with depression. We’ve started a treatment, and I will follow up with him in a week.

All I know is that I want to stop feeling like I cannot focus on anything. I want to stop chasing rainbows. I want to stop experiencing pain. I want to go to bed, fall asleep, and wake in the morning feeling rested. I want to accept things for what they are, not something far bigger and insurmountable. I want to feel motivated to get out and do things that I love. I want to be fit. I want to sit and read a book for more than ten minutes at a time. And I want other things that I don’t feel so comfortable sharing here.

I want to care about things deeply, not just logically.

I find myself carrying out activities because I KNOW that they’re important to me, while I don’t FEEL anything but apathy towards most things lately. My life feels like it has a haze or fog hanging over everything. Colors don’t have any vibrancy. Sounds are muffled. And everything, and I do mean everything, irritates me. The worst thing that I’m irritated by is myself. My physical self. The feel of my body, my skin, and the muscles that ache without end.

I don’t share this seeking your sympathy. In fact, sympathy would likely be the last response I would wish for. I don’t wish to commiserate, but I do wish to connect. If I can’t feel connected to the world around me in any other way, perhaps someone out there knows what I’m talking about. Can relate. Perhaps connections can be made with someone who’s been there and overcome, or maybe finds it to be an ongoing struggle, or perhaps even someone who’s never felt able to talk about this outside of a doctor’s office. I welcome your connections. Publicly or privately.

Perhaps with an open dialogue others might find a way to talk openly, or ask for help. If you can’t ask for help for yourself, then do it for the people who care about you. If for no other reason, I consulted my physician so that I could find a way to not be so difficult to live with. Someone will thank me for it someday. 😉



Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter @ceilidhontherun or email me at trish at trishblogs dot com!

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I drove all the way to Florida to start running again! ;)

Sometimes it truly takes the right time and place, nothing more.

I have been trying to get motivated to start running again for two months. Over the couple of years, after a lot of challenging circumstances I’d begun to feel as if every time I started on my plan it would be interrupted. I was hesitating big time, with this nagging at the back of my brain. However, I also realized that running has been my saving grace, a therapy so-to-speak, and do I need a saviour right now!

My pain is beginning to improve marginally, but I know that I need to become active again to feel my best, it’s a difficult situation to find yourself in when chronic pain prevents you from doing what makes you feel best.

I often find that embarking on new routines in life are the best time to implement new activities that I want to become routine. This is a time of big change for me, as I move into working-from-home-business-owner, from part-time employee.

While on a semi (mostly) vacation in the sunshine state, I decided to try to bringing running back into my life. I love to run and I hoped that the relaxed (non-existent) schedule and the weather would help to alleviate the stress and the chronic pain. And with this in mind I would cautiously re-introduce an activity I love!

I have also reintroduced some other activities but they contribute to the relaxed state more than anything: a daily swim in the park’s bathwater warm pool, and a soak in the hot-tub.

On my first full day in Florida, after a very long and eventful (read: frustrated with car problems and 2.5 days in delays) road-trip from Nova Scotia, I was stiff and sore, but determined to get out for a run anyway. I set a very relaxed goal of 20-30 minutes at whatever pace felt comfortable, with the caveat that increased pain would shorten the run without guilt.

I managed a very respectable 25 minutes before a sharp pain in my neck/shoulder (my biggest problem area) indicated it was time to stop.

From Feb 27, 2012

I know I need to be very conservative with my goals so I decided I would run every second day IF I felt like I was up to it. Day 2 in Florida, I woke up thinking how incredibly easy it was to run for the first time after 6 months, and how incredibly sore I could feel as a result! I went for a long walk with dad and his dog.

Today was day 3. I managed to get out the door a fair bit earlier (I did have this ambitious idea before arriving at our destination that I’d roll out of bed as soon as I awoke and head straight out the door – that so far has not come to fruition). I ran for 30 mins (which was my goal) without pain! This is huge. I know it doesn’t sound huge, but This Is HUGE!

I’m not sure exactly what needs to happen to keep this up, so I’m going to be cautious. A run every other day for 30 mins, or until pain increases. With an extra rest day once/week (whenever my body tells me that needs to be)… UNTIL I feel confident I am ready to bump things up. Then? We’ll see what comes next – when the time comes.

What works for you when trying to get back into an activity that you love but has been presenting you with challenges?


Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at ceilidho at ceilidhontherun dot com, or use my contact form!

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Week 1.

Exhaustion. Aches. And a hint of light peeking from behind the heavy clouds.

I wake every morning in a fog. I’m uncertain whether my pain meds are causing it, or my interrupted sleep (I have an anxious ten-year-old struggling with her own sleep battles). Perhaps it’s the change in routine.

In addition to my extra work day throughout the election campaign… and a little volunteer work on the campaign… I have finally begun a 12 day group program in management of chronic pain. At a time when I need to reduce my outside projects, I am back to a full-time schedule. Most other projects have come to a halt.

3 ½ hours, 3 days/week. We sit and we discuss, we do fitness baseline testing. We learn. We discuss some more.

I have made a commitment to myself that I will walk to/from group and work in order to ensure I get a minimum of 3 days/week of walking in.

By the end of group, my goal is to create a realistic reachable plan for getting back into a regular fitness routine, with as few setbacks along the way as possible.

Goal setting. Caution. Pacing. Self-awareness. Patience. Nutrition. Motivation. Flexibility. Encouragement.

I may need a little help. 🙂