**I’m going to introduce my blog post today as being very (very) personal. I’ve been made aware that sometimes, my circle posts have touched a nerve as I often write about what is important to me and that I want to share. As I never want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, please know in advance that this is personal, and that if you choose not to read it, I am perfectly fine with that. This is relevant to my life, and to many others, and I want to use my time and this space as a way of sharing what’s on my mind. If there’s anything I share that ever makes you uncomfortable or that you disagree with, please know these are my feelings and opinions, and if you’re in the circle or not, this is not something that you need to read…it’s just something I want to share. I would never, ever consciously hurt anyone with my writing or with my opinions or feelings, but as I know I have in the past, I wanted to be clear that this is personal.
All that said, I am going to share my images first, and everything after the “purple” images is personal.
Just…me sharing…about me.
I actually love the color purple! This month it takes on a special meaning, and I’ll get to that. But when I saw the theme, I knew exactly what I would post as these images stand out to me. I love freelensed-reverse macro, and it’s been a technique I enjoy using and sharing with others. These images are are definitely from the archives – I think from two years ago! I think it’s about time I go take some more…
This one is amazing. Just…wow. I remember the morning that I captured this!
The flower actually looks like this…it’s really small still, but close up in the above picture…it just looks amazing to me!
I’m a fan of all of the ways freelensing can alter a subject.
The above image, and the next two are from the same subject, just framed slightly different and with the focus shifted some.
Do you have a favorite of the three?!
Something I love about purple show different the shades can look. This is a bit more pink/purple (fuchsia, maybe) but I still love it. Or, maybe I’m just color blind. Either way, I love this capture, and am reminded that I need to print it!
My sweet son gave me this and I had to capture it during one of our family sessions!
And, I’m starting the personal part…
Why it works? Well, just like with my diagnosis, the purple comes in many shades. I feel like my diagnosis makes me feel like I’m a bit inconsistent. Some days I’m this super hard working mama and wife and can tackle so much in an hour! Other days (more often than the other Super Shelby Days) I’m…a patient. Taken care of by my family while in bed, with the understanding that it’s just a bad Fibro Day. There are tons of other shades of purple (or of me) in between, but those are the biggest ones. There’s also the purple feeling. As in, bruised. Most of the time, my body feels like a giant, purple swollen bruise. You just can’t see it. Most people say I hide it pretty well – but my family – they see a different, painful side of me.
All of that to say…when I wrote the following, it was Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, and I posted to my personal Facebook page — this post has a bit more depth to it, but again, being my space to share, I wanted to spread awareness about this disease and my journey with Fibromyalgia. As I’ve gotten older, the need has come up for me to share a bit about my diagnosis with Fibro, as well as several other “unseen” medical issues. Whether with friends or family (when I fall asleep on couches) or with clients (when I have to explain my two-week-long “Fibro flare”as the reason for a later than anticipated gallery), it’s become increasing clear that I need to be open.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia when I was 26, after four full years of trying to find out what was ‘wrong’ with me. I was constantly tired, diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (which, trust me, I get sounds like a cop-out) a couple years before then. But despite the pains, from my shoulders/neck through my legs, nothing was diagnosed through [very poor med-clinic] “testing.” I believe my pains and fatigue really started when I was towards the beginning of my Freshman year in college — I was going through a lot, in general as well as medically, and of course, there were some underlying issues. However, at the time, I just felt…lazy. Like, my body just didn’t want to do anything. I slept – a lot. I remember trying to figure out my life and I even remember losing friends through this process. Through college, I did what I could to stay active. After college, things were even more difficult and finally, in 2006 after being told that the facility on base couldn’t “treat people like [me]” I received, for the first real time, off-base care. And finally, real testing (blood work for specific diseases and to rule them out, several X-rays on my back, and a thorough physical exam – probably more, but I can’t remember it all) my doctor suggested a word I had never heard before – Fibromyalgia – and arthritis (in my spine – it WASN’T in my head!). He was fairly confident in my diagnosis, but referred me to a rheumatologist, who confirmed it after more testing and ruling out.
The desire to share on a wider scale was prompted a little over two months ago (despite the diagnosis from over a decade ago), when I went to see my doctor about a few things. To my surprise, she told me that her PA suggested that I was depressed, which was not at all what I went to see her for. As we talked more, she said something that took me very much off guard. I’m fairly confident I’ll never forget the meaning in her words (as best as I can remember the point):
“Shelby, I’m going to be honest. I think you need to talk with a therapist. I don’t believe that you have accepted your disease, and the prognosis of it. You keep working to get ‘better.’ You have a disease – you aren’t just going to get better one day.”
Well, a few of you know how well I took that conversation. Cliff Notes version – it didn’t go well (a few days’ worth of tears may have been involved). I thought long and hard about what she said and the impact of those words. She’s right — I DO keep trying to get better. I don’t know if she’s right about me not getting “better” — I hope that I do one day! But Fibro, at least for me, is a very cyclical disease…and since my diagnosis (and years before then), there hasn’t been an end to the symptoms.
Pain —> Fatigue —> Lack of Activity —> Lack of Interest —> Depression or Sadness —> Pain From Inactivity and Depression —> Fatigue…
Anyways, in my head, that all makes sense, so I hope that makes a little sense to everyone else. But, the point is, I’m in pain and am tired pretty much every single day (tons of other things too, but those are the highlights). The simplest things, like getting out of bed and showering, are often the only things I manage to get done in a day (and, sometimes, I don’t manage that). Some days/weeks are better than others. I am beyond thankful to have a supportive husband who does everything he can to help me through it, and who has for as long as I can remember. It hasn’t been easy on him or our family, but I’m beyond blessed with Jason and my children, who truly understand what I go through on a daily basis. Without them, I don’t know how I would be able to handle this – they do so much to help me on a daily basis. I’ve also been blessed with many friends who, thankfully, accept me as I am – sleepy, painful me – and who help as they can, even if it’s just listening to my sadness when discussing how my day didn’t turn out how I imagined because I’m still in bed.
Please, for anyone who has an invisible illness, know that you aren’t alone. People are out here who understand, and are more than willing to help as we can. For those who know someone with an invisible illness, whether it’s Fibromyalgia or any of the various illnesses out there, please listen. We do not want to feel like this. We want love and support, and the understanding that some days, our best might only be a shower. Other days, we can tackle the world (or at least the laundry) — but our illness is still there. Pray over those with these illnesses – that one day, maybe there’s a cure.
Obviously the above isn’t mine, but it was found on one of the many pages that I am a part of to understand more, and to see if new cures or research is coming out. It is so accurate in what it says, and I hope that anyone who reads it will understand. Many thanks to “Fibro Ramblings” for this great graphic.
I’m going to end with two images that symbolize to me what Fibro has done to my life.
This one…well, it hits me hard. I actually did this for another self-portrait project that Photography By HeArt released last year.
I think the meaning is evident, but, this is me, feeling many days like I fail those who mean the most to me. I do the best I can with what I’ve been given, and I am so thankful that they love me and understand me regardless of my shortcomings. I couldn’t love my family any more – they are my rock.
The image below was done as an “Inspired By” series, also from Photography By HeArt. This was from the Inspired By: Francesca Woodman series, and this is the result I was hoping for when I captured it. Again, I don’t think words are needed. This is how I often feel with Fibro. Trapped. Trapped in a body that is failing me, and me desperately trying to get out.
Next up in our Artists Inspired Blog Circle is the talented Liz of It’s Still Life by Elizabeth Willson (Facebook page).
Click here to see Liz’s take on this month’s theme – I assure you that you’ll love it…she’s one of my favorites to follow!
The Artists Inspired Blog Circle is made up of an exceptionally talented group of photographers from all walks of life, from all over the world. They are wives, mothers, friends, daughters and visual storytellers who draw from their own experiences to create art that is inspiring, unique, beautiful and thought-provoking.
Tags: Artists Inspired, Artists Inspired Blog Circle, Family, Norman Oklahoma Photographer, Norman Photographer, OKC, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City Family Photographer, Oklahoma City Lifestyle Photographer, Oklahoma City Photographer, Oklahoma Newborn Photographer, Oklahoma Photographer, Red, Shelby Leigh Photography