Take Action

(ETA 1/30) I’ve gotten a couple inquiries about whether it’s okay to share the link to this post. Yes! Please do share the link for this post. This info needs to get spread around. I will be updating periodically as I get new links, please feel free to leave a comment here with places I’m missing.

I posted a call for these over on Facebook originally, but have decided I want to have a tidier list, so here we are.

I’m collecting guides for taking action in the face of the new American Federal legislation. Ping me if you have more, or leave a comment, or whatever, and I’ll add ’em.


Specific Things You Can Do

In no particular order, here are various websites, mailing lists, and so on that will give you straightforward actions to take:

Edited 1/27 to add:  If you have anxiety, definitely check out How to call your reps when you have social anxiety. Also: Check out Congressman Steve Israel’s video How to Raise Hell for Members of Congress. He says that getting a group of people together and going to town hall meetings and demanding answers is not only better than calling or writing, it’s how the Tea Party got to the level of influence they have now. That’s something to think about.


General Resources

Also in no particular order, a collection of guides/lists/things that are more general but still great resources:


Health (Physical & Mental) Resources

(ETA 2/2/17)And here we have a new section: taking care of yourself so you don’t burn out from all the aggro. Seriously, you are no good to anybody if you are collapsing from lack of basic health stuff or of mental health stuff. Take care of yourself, the resistance needs you.

Also: I found this Resistance calendar for Portland, there’s probably one for your area too if you’re near a major city. Google!

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Zephyr, aka #sickcat

A black kitten is standing on a gray office chair, looking toward the left side of the photo.There are a million stories I could tell about Zephyr.

I adopted him in 2001 from the Stanford Cat Network (now the Feline Friends Network). He moved homes with me five times, becoming increasingly displeased with the whole process. He was adorable and good-natured, but never very good at communicating with other cats. He meant well, but they didn’t want to play with him 24/7.

A black cat with wide yellow eyes is sitting on a cardboard scratcher, looking to the right of the photoZephyr earned the appellation #sickcat in his middle age. He first got really sick in 2010, and was eventually diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. I nursed him through the first big attack, and saw him through several flareups as well.

He was extremely well-behaved at the vet, a trait which has endeared him to vets and vet techs in two states (the last year or so of his life, he received acupuncture. That’s how chill he was at the vet. And yes, it worked really well!).

He was mostly well-behaved at home, too, but he had a weakness for spicy food, especially the hotwings we often ordered with our pizza. (Seriously. We have video.) We always had to make sure any leftover pizza or wings were secured where he couldn’t get at them. He once ate the bones from an entire order of chicken wings when we were careless and left the box where he could get to it.

A black cat is lying on the floor so he can look out a screen door on the right side of the photoAfter Mauser died, Zephyr was an only cat for about a year – but when Nate and I moved in together, Nate brought along Luna, a female just a couple years younger than Zephyr. He was pretty flummoxed at first – she didn’t want to be friends or play with him all the time either! But they came to a kind of understanding, and Luna regally tolerated Zephyr’s presence as long as he didn’t try to make friends.

In the summer of 2013, he developed lymphoma, a not-uncommon complication from IBD in cats. Our regular vet recommended an excellent oncologist, and with their help (and the help of Meat for Cats and Dogs, who always had a zillion kinds of food to tempt his appetite), the lymphoma went into remission. The average lifespan after diagnosis is 18 months, but Zephyr stayed in remission for a little over two years.


Zephyr eased into cranky-old-cat mode very smoothly, a transition made easier by the 2013 adoption of Barton and Bishop, our two younger cats. Zephyr tolerated them (and would even play with Barton if he was feeling magnanimous) but mostly he hissed at them if they got too close. Otherwise, he mostly spent his time sitting on laps and purring, and walking around yelling when he wanted food. He remained well-behaved at the vet, and was mostly good-natured about his medications.

Getting him to eat was sometimes a real challenge, because his health issues upset his stomach. The last few months, though, he was all about food, and was putting away an average of two full-sized cans of cat food per day.

He was, however, still very picky. It was not uncommon for me to hear him yowling that he was hungry when he already had two different varieties of cat food available to him. If I opened a third, it would usually suit him – but not always!

His health started failing a couple of weeks ago – he was losing weight in spite of eating well, and his always-a-little-anemic bloodwork slid quickly through actually-anemic to unrecoverable-anemic. We took him to see his regular vet this morning. The house is so quiet without him grumbling at the younger cats or crying for food.

Between his health needs and his affectionately demanding nature, Zephyr was a huge part of Nate’s and my life. We’re going to miss falling asleep with him lying against our legs, hearing him purr while he sits in my lap while I watch TV, prepping his meds morning and evening, and hearing his demanding voice.

29693298223_42a9788b33_oZephyr was an amazing cat. I am very grateful he lived with us, and grateful that we had the resources to get him the medical care he needed so he could have a long and happy life.

We miss you, old man.

I want to recommend Zephyr’s care team here in Portland. They and the folks at Meat helped us keep Zephyr as full and happy as possible.

There are a bunch more photos of him on Flickr, here and here.

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2015 In Review

Welp, I haven’t blogged much, but I like having the blog here, and felt like doing a New Year post. Here’s the one from last year for reference.

Stuff I Accomplished!

I didn’t hit all the things I was hoping to this year, but I did a ton, and am overall pretty happy with how I did. This year has been really hard, for a host of reasons, but I have learned a ton.

  1. Book Roadie: Vended at four events, including Pantheacon! (PCon was by far the best event in terms of sales)
  2. Book Roadie: Brought in about half of what I spent (aporox. $2700 vs. $5000). In the red, but it’s the most I’ve brought in so far, woot!
  3. Dayjob: Got a good review at work and thus a merit increase!
  4. Dayjob: I have now been a technical writer for a decade! Woot!
  5. Personal: Nursed Bishop back to health after two nasty IBS flares.
  6. Personal: Continued to keep Zephyr in largely good health – and he passed his 2-year anniversary of being diagnosed with lymphoma!
  7. Personal: Made huge strides in self-compassion and other awesomeness! (Huge props to my therapist, spiritual mentor, and Nate)
  8. Personal: Continued my conscious effort to stop reading self-help books and taking ecourses about things I already know. At this point it’s more about money than personal development. :)
  9. Personal: I culled 90 books from my collection! (unfortunately, I also added enough books that my total is still higher than it was a year ago. oops.)
  10. My word of the year was Discernment, and I feel like I really sharpened and learned to use mine better. You can see how some of the above are related. :)

What’s in the works for 2016?

I don’t do resolutions, but here are my goals for the year:

  1. The Book Roadie: I want to vend six events this year! I have one booked already, woot.
  2. The Book Roadie: I want to bring in $5k this year!
  3. The Book Roadie: Figure out a way to make an information product for people. (Like an ebook or online course or something. I don’t want to teach, really, but I like making how-tos and stuff.)
  4. Dayjob: Another good review and resulting merit increase!
  5. Dayjob: Get “Senior Technical Writer” as my official (Right now it’s what’s on my cards and how everybody talks about me, but the work paperwork still has me as a regular tech writer.)
  6. Personal: Keep kitties healthy/as-healthy-as-possible-for-them.
  7. Personal: Continue culling library down to only awesome or regularly-used books.
  8. Personal: Only buy books I already know are awesome, preferably because I read them already (courtesy of the library or a friend loaning them to me).
  9. Personal: Cull my belongings down to only awesome or regularly-used stuff. I have a lot of stuff I’m hanging onto because it’s mine, not because it’s awesome. That needs to change. Especially clothes. Getting my custom-made coat just reinforced to me that keeping things that don’t fit well is not good.
  10. My word of the year is Acceptance, in the “accept what reality is, then try to change it” sense. Stop wasting time and energy saying “but things should be like so!” when they aren’t. Say, “things are this way, okay. What’s the best move from here?” See Tara Brach’s work for more. Discernment is going to be a big help here, I suspect. How appropriate. :)

I’m also hoping to get my personal finances a bit more in order. I often tell people that yes, I’ve paid off allllll my student debt, but I did that by living on my credit cards for a while, which was… stupid a huge mistake not wise. I am sick of my debt sort of flapping around instead of vanishing with something approaching rapidity. We’ll see if I can get started on that this year.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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Sit Down and Shut Up

First: I am unapologetically stealing the title from the fab Brad Warner‘s book. OK? OK.

Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how meditation just isn’t for them, that they can’t do it, that stilling their mind just doesn’t work.

It drives me up the wall.

Not the idea that some folks aren’t particularly suited for meditation or don’t find it helpful – that’s definitely true, and folks with serious issues in the mental health department should consult their medical advisers before trying it (and should almost certainly only study it with a teacher rather than alone).

No, the thing that bugs me about it is this: meditation isn’t about stilling your mind. Getting your mind to shut up isn’t what meditation is about.

It’s about sitting down and shutting up – literally. Sit. Don’t talk. That’s about it.

If you notice your brain starting to talk to itself, mentally label that thinking or talking and then let it go. Don’t get mad about it, don’t give yourself a hard time, just… stop. It’s easiest to do this if you have something to focus on. I usually use my breath, but you can also use a mandala or other image, your heartbeat, a mantra, whatever.

I’ve had a Zen-ish sitting practice fairly steadily since some time in 2006, when I started studying with T. Thorn Coyle. Before that, I’d toyed with it a bit, mostly learning from books. My sitting practice is kind of a mashup of Thorn’s teachings and the things Brad Warner has said in his books (aside: I love his take on Zen and on life in general, and strongly recommend reading his stuff).

I’m currently doing standard breath-counting (“one” on the in-breath, then “one” on the out-breath, then “two, two” and so on, up to four; then back to one), but I’ve also done metta (a compassion-focused form of meditation) and a few others.

Brains don’t really do still, especially not at first. Even after all these years, my brain is still super-talkative. A huge part of my practice is not getting mad at myself for losing focus. I played music pretty seriously for a long-ass time, so I can simultaneously count and do other things (including, much to the confusion of my physical therapists, reading a book), so my counting sometimes winds up parallel-processing with other things, when my brain doesn’t derail from counting entirely. If you could put a mic between my ears, you’d probably hear something along these lines:

One, one. Two, two. Three, is it time to stop yet? Thinking. One, one. Two, two. Three, three. I should figure out a way four, four, to track health stuff in my bullet journal, five, five, what? five? Thinking! It’s okay. More thinking. One, one. Two, two. Three, three. Four, four. One, one. Right on, got it this time. Two, two. That was thinking back there. This is, too. One, one.

For me, at least, meditation is about the practice of letting go and refocusing. It’s training my brain to focus on one thing, even one boring thing, for however long I decide to do it. This is a really useful skill to develop, given how often I need to focus on things I find disinteresting.

It’s also useful because my brain is often full of shit, and I need the ability to identify the shit and let it go without fuss. Any investment of energy, for or against, reinforces the shit.

For example, I use this technique with my impostor complex, which now, as a result, bothers me a lot less than it used to. My brain will start fretting that I’m going to mess up and everybody is going to see that I’m a total poser and a fraud, and and and – but once I notice what’s happening, I can take a breath and think, “ah! Impostor complex!” and let it go. Getting mad at myself about it just reinforces it, makes it dig in. Noticing it and letting it go with no fuss takes discipline – which I build with my daily sitting practice.

This applies to a ton of things, not just sitting and impostor complexes. Our brains just kind of natter to themselves pretty much constantly, and it’s important to be able to discern important stuff from the background noise and identify bullshit when our brain starts spewing it so we can stop. Getting quiet and focusing on something simple enough that you can really notice what your brain is saying (and practicing letting those trains of thought go) is an incredibly useful practice, even just for five minutes once a day.

Again: meditation isn’t for everybody – but don’t give up because your brain won’t shut up. Your brain shutting up isn’t the point of meditation.

Learning to refocus is the point of meditation.

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Ealasaid’s Guide to Finding a Bra That Fits!

I got a ton of interest when I mentioned this idea on Facebook, so here we are.

The Status Quo

Most boob-havers get fitted for bras using a measuring tape and math. This is stupid, because you can’t calculate the volume of a blobby shape using two lateral measurements, and cup size is about volume. As a result, most boob-havers have spent their boob-having years wearing bras that are too small! This results in a lot of us having breast tissue squished back from our boobs into our under-armpit/upper-ribs area. Bleh! No wonder bras are uncomfortable!

So, how to correct for this?

How To Put On A Bra

I’m sure plenty of y’all are rolling your eyes, but hear me out. Give this a try next time you buy a bra:

  1. Grab the bra you are trying on and put its straps over your shoulders so the cups hang in front of you.
  2. Fasten the band on the loosest setting.
  3. With your left hand, grab the underside of the band under your left arm and pull it away from your body.
  4. Take your right hand and stick it into the band under your left arm, then use it to sort of squeegee/scoop the tissue from your underarm toward the front and center of your boob.
  5. Repeat that on the other side.
  6. Look at your boobs in the mirror, is there loose material underneath them? (There usually is.)
    If there is, grab the cups of the bra to the inside of the straps and give a sort of tug-and-jiggle upward to settle them into the cups.

You are now ready to evaluate the bra for fit! Huzzah!

Does This Boob-Sling Actually Fit?

Things to look for:

  • Does the bra touch your sternum between your boobs? And I don’t mean kinda-sorta-touch, I mean, is it against your skin if you stand up straight, put your shoulders back, and look straight down.
    If it is, proceed. If not, go up at least one cup size and try again.
  • Do you have quadboob? This is the state of affairs where the upper/inner edge of the cup restricts your boob so that there’s a dent in it. The cup should be exactly flush with the line of your boob, not cutting into it or wrinkling away from it.
    If you have quadboob, go up at least one cup size and try again. If you have a quadboob-like effect under the band or in your armpit, you’re not scooping enough tissue into the cup and DEFINITELY should go up at least one cup size and try again.
  • Is the band nice and tight? This is kind of subjective. A good test is: can you slide two fingers under the band and move them around fairly easily? The right band size for you will probably feel weirdly tight, but you want it to be nice and snug so that it stays put and supports you properly.
  • The straps should also be nice and snug, but not quite as snug as the band. Use the two-finger test for tension and make sure they’re not too loose or too tight.
  • Is the band horizontal? Stand sideways and check in the mirror, the band should be horizontal front-to-back. If it’s not, try adjusting the straps a bit. If that doesn’t work, go down a band size and try again.

Things to remember!

  • Cup sizes change with band size. The volume of a B cup is different if it’s attached to a 34 band vs. a 38 band. When changing band size, adjust accordingly!
  • Bras that actually fit are usually expensive. This sucks, but I’ve found it’s worth shelling out $80/bra to get ones that don’t become painful once I’ve worn them for more than 15 minutes.
  • You are almost certainly going to have to try on a LOT of bras the first time you do this. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and if you (like me) have hands that tire out easily, you can ask the fitter/assistant person to help you with the hook-and-eyes in the back.
  • This will be a LOT easier if you have a local bra shop and aren’t relying on the folks at Nordstrom. Sometimes they’re good, but I’ve found it’s a 50-50 chance they’ll be useless. I go to The Pencil Test here in Portland, OR and LOVE THEM TO BITS.

In Closing

If this seems intimidating or a huge hassle, that’s normal! Boob-havers are generally treated as second-class citizens in the US, we’re used to putting up with bullshit.

Do not put up with bullshit when it comes to bras. You deserve better! Go bra shopping expecting it to take a while (so you aren’t rushed) and make plans to get a treat afterwards. Hell, if you’ve got a boob-having friend in the same situation as you, go together!

Boob-havers of the world, unite!

Got questions? Leave ’em in the comments! I’d also love to hear from folks who’ve found fab bras, especially in larger cup sizes.

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How Does Ealasaid Keep her Hair so Green?

I get a LOT of compliments on my spiffy green hair:


I also get asked by my friends, “did you just regreen it recently?” — when I haven’t. My hair stays nice and solid green for a good 4-6 weeks before I have to redye it.

As you can probably guess from my post about having long hair, I don’t really do things half-assedly, so when I started dying my hair, I started collecting all the various things one can do to help it stay bright and fresh.

Here’s my list of tips/tricks – I’ll do my best to update it if/when I add new things.

  • I always bleach my hair first.
    This is kind of a given, but even light-haired folks will benefit from it – the bleach opens up the cuticle of the hair.
  • After I put the dye in, I wrap my head in plastic wrap and leave it on overnight.
    This keeps the dye from drying out and lets it have extra time to soak into my hair. I also put a black towel on my pillow.
  • When I rinse the dye out of my hair the next day, I use water as cold as I can stand.
    I continue using as-cold-as-I-can-stand every day as well.
  • After that first rinse, I pour white vinegar over it, then rinse that out (again, with cold water).
    This is like the vinegar soak you do when dying clothing, it helps close the cuticle of the hair back up with the dye inside. When I started doing this, it stopped my color leakage cold. I can sleep on my white-with-snowflakes sheets two days after dying my hair and there’s zero dye on the pillow!
  • I don’t use shampoo.
    This is a habit I picked up when I was growing my hair long, and it’s serving me well even with short hair. I use a non-silicone-bearing conditioner (check the ingredients carefully, anything with “cone” at the end is a type of silicone, and those require detergent to get out of your hair – i.e., shampoo – so no product with ‘cone in it either) and that’s it. On the very rare occasions I feel the need to use shampoo, I use a really gentle, for-dyed-or-damaged-hair shampoo and don’t scrub at my hair much or at all.

This combo is working really well for me! Here’s a shot from when I was undergoing a medical trial and couldn’t redye my hair, so I had my stylist cut it into this awesome style. I believe when this photo was taken, I hadn’t dyed my hair in at least 8 weeks.

E and Z

Dig that green, yo. Also dig my awesome cat.

NOTE: People and their hair vary, so I’m not saying everybody should do all of these. It’s just what’s working for me. Experiment and find out what works for you!

Got a tip for keeping dyed hair looking fresh? Leave it in the comments! I’m always looking for new tricks to try.

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2015 – Discernment, More and Less

New Years resolutions aren’t my thing anymore – like a lot of my friends, I choose a word for my year, set a few goals, and that’s about it.

Last year was recognition – as in recognizing my own habits, recognizing opportunities to use what I already know, and also being recognized/recognizing myself for my talents.

Continue reading »

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Peter and Gamora in “Guardians of the Galaxy”

(Yeah, it’s a pretty lackluster title. I’m out of practice, I guess!)

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is easily one  of the best Marvel studios films so far, and I’m pleased to see it getting lots of good press and accolades (and called out on the small handful of things it swings and misses on). There’s one thing people are complaining about, though, that chaps my hide.

The relationship between Gamora and Peter.


So many folks are griping that he’s just like Kirk and she’s reduced to a love interest, and so on.

completely disagree and am really disappointed that nobody seems to interpret their character arcs the way I do. So, since I for once am able to make the time to write a damn post, here we go.

Continue reading »

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I’m not dead, just not blogging as much as I wish I had the time/spoons to. :)

Hannibal Season 2 ended last week, and now we’re in the hiatus #HeAteUs until late this year or early next year.

It’s evidence of how little I’ve been blogging that I only have one post specifically about the show.

I have a lot of feels about the finale, but lack the bandwidth to blog about them, at least so far. We’ll see how that goes.

For them as don’t know me offline or follow me on various social media, I’m doing well. I am also, however, actually working to take care of myself on top of my high-priority to-do items, and that means that lower-priority ones (like blogging) tend to fall by the wayside. It’s the pits.

If you miss me, feel free to follow me on Twitter or Tumblr. I’m active on both way more frequently than I am here (although my Tumblr is largely reblogs, including of copious Hannibal gifs, so it’s certainly not for everyone!).

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May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month!

So, May 12 is the official Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, but May in general is being promoted as Fibromyalgia Awareness Month, so I’m posting now to do my part!

Fibromyalgia is a nasty critter. Whether it’s a syndrome or a disease (or something else entirely) is still up for debate. What is generally agreed upon is that there is a collection of symptoms which tend to occur together, ranging from overall body pain to elevated levels of particular chemicals in patients’ spinal fluid.

Pretty much every patient experiences fibromyalgia a little differently, and many folks have one or more of a collection of other chronic conditions (interstitial cystitis, migraines, IBS, environmental sensitivities, TMJ, etc. Plus, of course, anxiety and depression, because being in long-term pain messes up your brain chemistry). This makes diagnosis tricky, and treatment even trickier.

My own personal situation (partly due to fibro and partly due to comorbid issues) is:

  • Frequent headaches, caused by an inflamed disk in my neck or stress or sinus pressure or any one of a million other things. If left untreated (painkillers and rest), they turn into migraines (complete with vomiting and the need for prescription stuff to make them go away).
  • All-over body pain. Think the aches you get when you have the flu.
  • Increased pain sensitivity. If I’m flared up, a friendly clap on the shoulder is really painful. It’s kind of like when you have a sunburn, only in my tissue rather than on the surface.
  • Sensitivity to acidic beverages and foods. Too much coffee/tea/etc. and too little water, and … let’s say the symptoms are not dissimilar to a UTI, except if I drink enough water it goes away. I’m sensitive to citrus anyway, but even if I weren’t, drinking a glass of orange juice on a day I’m a little dehydrated would be a bad idea.
  • Sensitivity to scents. There are some things that just smell like pain to me. Lavender in particular, but plenty of synthetic scents and flowers do me in too.
  • Food sensitivities. I have a long list of foods I really shouldn’t eat regularly, so I do my best to avoid them day-to-day and then when I’m out with friends or whatever, if I have some, it’s okay. But on the daily? Baaaaad idea.
  • Brain fog. This is very common with fibro patients, and with chronic pain patients in general. It’s like being really sleep-deprived or sick, where your brain feels wrapped in cotton and it’s hard to remember things or multitask. Some days it’s better than others, and I have mostly gotten it under control with medication, but when my fibro flares, it gets bad too.
  • Disturbed sleep. Before I started taking supplements to help, I woke up enough to roll over, look at the clock, realize I could go back to sleep, and then go back to sleep multiple times a night. Like, once or twice an hour on a bad night. I didn’t even know that was weird until a nutritionist I was working with on fibro issues asked me about it. The first night I slept all the way through freaked me out because I literally had never experienced it as a regular thing. (There’s some chicken-and-egg questioning about whether the sleep disturbance is due to the fibro, or the fibro is due to the sleep disturbance. Either way, pain isn’t conducive to good sleep, and lack of sleep is a stress on the body.)
  • Fatigue. Not just from the disturbed sleep, but in general. I aim for nine hours of sleep a night, but usually get more like 7.5 or 8, which is just not enough. I tire out easily, and more things tire me than just physical exertion. It’s really annoying.
  • Stress sensitivity. If I’m working too hard or worrying too much, I’ll get flared up.
  • Joint issues. These are probably unrelated but certainly aren’t helped by my fibro. My knees have been messed up since I hit puberty — my IT band was too tight until I had a lengthening surgery in 2009. Tight IT band = kneecap pulled to the outside = squished cartilage = ow. I also have carpal tunnel syndrome, probably from my first time doing NaNoWriMo (I was also working half a dozen freelance type jobs at the time, most of which involved typing), and an inflamed disk in my neck which gives me awful headaches.
  • Depression and anxiety. Unsurprisingly, being in pain 24/7 is not great for your general mood or outlook on life!

I’m fortunate that I’ve gotten very good treatment over the years, so I know what I need to do to recover from a flare. 9/10 of the time, when I flare, I know what I did to set it off. I have a decent self-care regimen — but, of course, things change and shift over time, and my tolerances all affect each other, so things may be obvious in retrospect but less so in the moment.

Plus, of course, the whole fibro fog thing makes it difficult. Nate has been a huge help, not just because he encourages me to care for myself and also takes care of me when I need it, he has a clear perspective of overall patterns which I have trouble seeing myself.

So. That’s what my experience of fibromyalgia is like. I’m not looking for sympathy or coddling, I am looking to raise awareness. This is how I experience fibro. Other people with fibro have similar experiences to a greater or lesser extent.

Those of you who see me in person, consider for a moment that every time you have seen me, I have been in pain. Not always a lot of pain, but always at least some. This shit is invisible. You can’t know who has it and who doesn’t unless they tell you.

Let’s raise awareness. Too many people go undiagnosed or get the brushoff from doctors. Fibromyalgia is real, and it fuckin’ sucks.

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