My Life as a Puddle

Creating hyperhidrosis hope and awareness one drop at a time

WEGOHealth Awards: From Bill

Judging is now underway for the 2017 WEGOHealth Awards. As you may know, I was nominated in two categories: Best in Show: Blog and Best Team Performance.  Over the next several posts, I would like to share with you the kind words from those who nominated me. It means a lot that these people took the time to tell WEGOHealth about the important work I am doing to help those with hyperhidrosis know they are not alone.

Here is the nomination from Bill. Thank you Bill!

2017 WEGOHealth Awards My Life as a Puddle

Image Credit: Geetanjal Khanna

WEGOHealth Awards: From Abigail

Judging is now underway for the 2017 WEGOHealth Awards. As you may know, I was nominated in two categories: Best in Show: Blog and Best Team Performance.  Over the next several posts, I would like to share with you the kind words from those who nominated me. It means a lot that these people took the time to tell WEGOHealth about the important work I am doing to help those with hyperhidrosis know they are not alone.

Here is the nomination from Abigail. Thank you Abigail!

2017 WEGO Health Awards My Life as a Puddle

Image Credit: Geetanjal Khanna

WEGOHealth Awards: From Charlotte

Judging is now underway for the 2017 WEGOHealth Awards. As you may know, I was nominated in two categories: Best in Show: Blog and Best Team Performance.  Over the next several posts, I would like to share with you the kind words from those who nominated me. It means a lot that these people took the time to tell WEGOHealth about the important work I am doing to help those with hyperhidrosis know they are not alone.

Here is the nomination from Charlotte. Thank you Charlotte!

2017 WEGO Health Awards My Life as a Puddle

Image Credit: Geetanjal Khanna

WEGOHealth Awards: From Linda

Judging is now underway for the 2017 WEGOHealth Awards. As you may know, I was nominated in two categories: Best in Show: Blog and Best Team Performance.  Over the next several posts, I would like to share with you the kind words from those who nominated me. It means a lot that these people took the time to tell WEGOHealth about the important work I am doing to help those with hyperhidrosis know they are not alone.

Here is the nomination from Linda. Thank you Linda!

2017 WEGO Health Awards My Life as a Puddle

Image Credit: Geetanjal Khanna

Just Stay

When the Universe Whispers, Answer the Call

This post has been scratching at my writerly brain. I feel the universe nudging me. As self-proclaimed “possibilitarian” artist Kelly Rae Roberts says, “Your beautifully messy complicated story matters. Tell it.”

I’m absolutely terrified to post this, but secrets make you sick. It’s time I tell mine. I hope it might help you or someone you know. My intention is not to glorify this topic, nor is it to overshadow anyone who might be in the midst of the aftermath of tragedy. My intention is to spread hope and awareness, as World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10.

The Perfect Storm

The gun wasn’t pointed at my head when it went off.

I didn’t want to die. I just wanted it all to stop.

Spring 2016. I found myself in the midst of a perfect storm. I just wanted it all to end.

I was living in a new city that – for my highly sensitive soul – was overcrowded and noisy, with horrible traffic and hot, humid weather. My new job had me in the car most days, navigating a city with which I was unfamiliar. Each night, I’d arrive home in tears. No family or friends nearby, and everything was coming at me likes darts to a board.

The radio stopped working in my car. My first reaction was not to get it fixed, but that there was absolutely no way I could be left alone with my racing thoughts.

What if my phone died? How would I get a hold of people?

The train chugging past my apartment every single night, its horn blaring a warning signal. It was so loud. I couldn’t bear it.

Driving gave me anxiety. When I looked down the street to turn, I couldn’t tell which way the street went. Was it one-way or two-way traffic?

What was happening to my brain?

I also was dealing with a chronic illness, an autoimmune condition called ulcerative colitis (UC). My symptoms had returned in a fitful, screaming rage, hijacking my already delicate body and psyche.

The MRI machine. The pulsing rotations across my body. I found myself laying there thinking die, die, die in tune with the pulsating rhythm of the scan.

The night I finally decided it was time to go to the emergency room, I had left a trail of blood and mucous on the bathroom floor, reaching all the way from the toilet around the corner to the bedroom. I could barely walk.

I spent Easter weekend in the hospital, pissed off at God. Too weak to shower by myself, my husband guided me and my squeaky IV cart to the cold bathroom. As the soap slid down my bony frame, I wanted my illness and racing thoughts to just disappear down the drain forever.

I wanted the pain and the sadness and the anxiety to go away and never come back. My head was not their home. It was time to evict.

It was all just too much.

The Gut and the Brain Are Linked

You may have heard about the link between gut health and brain health. That’s a real thing. My body wasn’t manufacturing enough serotonin to feed my brain the happy chemicals it needed in order to function.

I became a shell of myself, monotone when I spoke, uninterested in everything, and barely able to move my then underweight and anemic body from the couch. I was terrified to take my dogs outside for fear I’d have an accident right in the middle of the grass.

I could barely sleep. My brain wouldn’t shut up. It didn’t matter what I ate—it all went right through me.  My brain chemicals were off; I wasn’t getting enough nutrients through my diet. My mind and body as I knew them were fading away.

Do the Work

After the gun went off and the bullet shot through the window, I knew I needed help. I realized this was not what I was made for.

I wanted to stay, but how?

I barely remember the plane ride home. I spent the night at my parents’ house, begging them for just one night in my old room. The next morning, I admitted myself for a 72-hour hold in a mental health facility. My journey back was beginning.

There are relapse statistics for those who attempt suicide and live to tell about it. But I am not a statistic. See, I was always the one who had her shit together. I never saw this coming on my life’s path. It was a shock to me, too. But you know what?

Life is messy. And sometimes we’re not okay. It’s okay to say you’re not okay. I was totally jacked up by the time I came home.

With support from my husband, family, friends and licensed mental health professionals, I found the glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. I was able to walk slowly and tentatively back into the light. I was on a cocktail of medications for about three months and slowly tapered down to one medication. I completed one year of individual counseling and 15 months of psychiatric therapy and am now medication-free. For me, I struggled with situational depression, not chronic or clinical depression.

Just Stay

There was help for me, and there is help for you. Just stay.

You don’t have to get the words right. Just speak. Use your words to breathe life into a conversation that must be had.

End the stigma.

I promise it gets better.

If you would’ve told me last year when I was feeling so horrible that I’d be a Who’s Next in Education winner, an O, The Oprah Magazine Insider, a radio show guest, and be interviewed by Family Circle magazine about hyperhidrosis, I would’ve scoffed in your face.

The universe conspires with those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Don’t give up.

I have work to do, and so do you. We can do it. Together.  Just stay. You matter.

Mental Health & Suicide Resources

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741741.

 

*Note to my readers: this essay is in no way related to my hyperhidrosis condition.

Help! Please Endorse My Blog
By Friday

My Life as a Puddle 2017 WEGO Health Awards Nomination

Dear Sweaty Friends,

Friday Is The Deadline

I need your help! The deadline to endorse me for Best In Show: Blog for the 2017 WEGO Health Awards is this Friday. After that, the judges take over to determine the winners. Please help me climb the ranks.

Here’s a video below detailing what you need to do. I feel really dorky recording myself, and I was a sweaty mess afterward and had soaked the towel I was holding my phone with. (If the video won’t display for some reason, watch it on Facebook.)

VIDEO: My Life as a Puddle WEGO Health Endorsements

How to Endorse Me – Three Options

  1. Go directly to my WEGO Health page and click the orange “Endorse My Life as a Puddle” button.
  2. Click the orange “Endorse Me Now” button on the right side bar here on my website (if you’re reading this on a mobile device or in the email version of this blog post, you won’t be able to see this).
  3. Go back to this post and fill out the form that’s embedded in the post (this WILL work from a mobile device).

Give Hope

If you’re able to view my video, you’ll see I showed you a sneak peek of my vision board. Many of the things I’ve placed on it have already come true. One of the images on my board says Give hope.

It is my mission to create hyperhidrosis hope and awareness one drop at a time. I work really hard on this blog and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to create awareness about this condition. Heck, I’ve even forced myself to record videos now and feel horribly awkward doing it. But you can’t grow if you don’t push yourself.

Winning this award will help me – and us as a sweaty community – to spread public awareness about a condition that can be mentally, emotionally and socially debilitating. I’ve got big plans for my sweaty self, some of them coming up very soon and which I’m excited to tell you about in upcoming blog posts.

Yours in Sweat,

Maria

Share the Adventure Alaskan Cruise: Day 1 Embarkation

(This is the first in a series of posts about my Share the Adventure cruise with Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine. Disclosures:  1) I was not asked to write about the cruise, but so many amazing things happened on this trip I must tell you about them. 2) I paid for this cruise myself. However, the cocktail dress and jewelry you’ll see me wearing in the photos below is sponsored by Chico’s.)

Year of Adventure

Sometimes we have to travel a bit first on the inside to explore the thoughts, secrets and beliefs we’ve been holding. Once we have a map to them, we’re better prepared to chart new territories and open ourselves up to new experiences. I’m not typically one who says Sure, I’ll book a cruise – by myself – room with someone I’ve never met before and hang out with nine other strangers for a week.

But when Oprah declared 2017 her year of adventure, I wanted in on that, too. I applied to become an O, The Oprah Magazine Insider in February and got the news in March I was one of just 50 people selected nationwide! So when I heard about the cruise to Alaska in July, I said yes. I will continue to say yes to anything the O team asks me to do, although I might draw the line at tattoos and body piercings. 🙂 Other than that, bring it on.

Meeting My Roommate

Prior to even discussing the cruise, I had placed the O-shaped cabin window image from O magazine on my vision board.  As a handful of the Insiders were deciding whether we could go on the cruise,  Chris and I kept talking about manifesting it and making it happen.  I put my feelers out for some freelance writing and editing gigs to help fund my cruise, and it worked. I also got two refund checks in the mail from my health insurance company (an insurance company refunding?!), which also helped fund the cruise.

Chris and I got to know each other via social media before we met at the dock in Seattle. Once I found her at the pier, I knew I didn’t have to worry about rooming with her. She is pure, unadulterated joy.

Chris Lowe PowerHoopz

Chris, my beautiful, joyful roommate for the Alaskan cruise with Holland America and O, The Oprah Magazine

As someone with hyperhidrosis, a slew of random thoughts had been running through my head about being her roommate:

  • What if the room didn’t have carpet? Would I leave a trail of sweaty footprints?
  • What if Chris liked the room temperature hotter than I did? Would I be a sweaty mess?
  • How am I supposed to get ready in front of her when I constantly have to stop to wipe off my sweaty hands amidst blow drying my hair and doing my makeup?

Thankfully, Chris asked me some questions ahead of time because she took the time to understand my condition. I am grateful for this. Chris is from Florida, so we solved the problem of room temperature a couple of ways: I turned the thermostat down just when we were getting ready so I wouldn’t sweat as much, and I wore summer pajamas to bed. Meanwhile, she wore a sweatshirt and pants to bed. Wuss. 😉

OMagInsiders Cruise to Alaska with Holland America Line

OMagInsiders meeting for the first time on our Alaskan cruise with O, The Oprah Magazine and Holland America. (L to R: Me (Maria), Shelley, Chris, Amy, Allison, Tonya, Sarah, Lisa; Megan and Christine in front row)

Chico’s Cocktail Party

Since it was our first night on board, Chico’s hosted a cocktail party so that we could meet and mingle with some of our fellow cruisers. As Chris and I were walking down the hall on the way to the party, her shoe broke! There was no way she could keep walking on it, so we returned to our room where she MacGyvered a solution – hula hoop tape!

I said to Chris, “Hurry up! You’re going to make me late for the most important night of my life!” I started to freak out because being late makes me sweat, and I didn’t want to arrive with sweaty hands as my first impression when meeting all these new people. But before I could go into full freak out mode, Chris had me laughing so hard it didn’t matter anymore. She taught me that you always have a choice in the energy you bring to a space, and this first night on board is one of just many examples where she helped me be a better version of myself and place my hyperhidrosis on the back seat.

Chris Lowe PowerHoopz

Broken shoe? Just fix it with hula hoop tape!

I got a chance to meet the O Magazine team, including Editor at Large and Oprah’s BFF Gayle King. Gayle was very busy talking to everyone, and she carried a notepad during the entire cruise to interview people . She got some really great stories that she later shared on stage.

I came prepared with two handwritten cards – one for her and one for Oprah, as I didn’t think I’d be able to meet Oprah since her schedule was completely booked for the days she was on board. When I got my turn to meet Gayle, she said she couldn’t accept anything but to give the cards to her assistant, Joseph. I found Joseph, and he graciously placed my cards in his backpack. I’m hoping Gayle and Oprah received the cards and were able to read them. They contained my Denver Woman’s Press Club winning essay, a way for them to get to know me as a writer and one of their OMagInsiders, plus a thank you message for all of the work they’ve done to help me shape myself as a woman.

Maria Thomas and Gayle King

Waiting patiently for my turn with Gayle King,
handwritten cards in hand.

Put Down What You Carry

Poet Mark Nepo says,

We must put down what we carry in order to let more of ourselves enter.

I’m so glad I left my baggage on the curb that day to board that ship. Stay tuned for more stories about the O-mazing experiences I had on this cruise. I’m still astounded by what happened. This cruise allowed me to chart new territories and explore just how far I can go despite my hyperhidrosis.

Oprah journal My Life as a Puddle

My new Oprah journal that was waiting for me on my bed at the end of the first night on board.

Pre-Cruise Inspiration

Before I tell you all of the amazing stories that happened while on board the Share the Adventure cruise to Alaska with Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine, I’d like to share this first. It came in the mail just days before I flew to Seattle to board the Ms. Eurodam. I never would’ve taken this cruise had it not been for my connection with O Magazine as an OMagInsider. The cruise truly was a dream come true.

Hallmark dream card

Back in 2000, I found my biological father Bill thanks to the wonders of Facebook. I never thought I’d be one of those people who had a Facebook reunion story to tell, but I’m so grateful it’s now a chapter in my life. While we’ve only seen each other a handful of times, he (and my extended family) have been there for me in good times and in bad. So when something bad happened to him, the last thing I expected was a handwritten card from him to arrive.

A couple of months ago, Bill was involved in an accident and lost the fingers on his right hand. As a woodworker and jack of all trades, he works with his hands. They are his livelihood and the best way he knows how to express his love to those around him. (Maybe I’ll share one of my favorite handmade items from him in a future post.)

This accident was devastating, but through it all he has managed to maintain a pretty positive outlook on life. He’s had frustrating days for sure, but he keeps on keeping on and refuses to let it slow him down. He got back out on his boat and caught a fish using his non-dominant hand. He got a new tablet to make texting and stuff easier. He’s got several surgeries in the near future, one of which is Thursday. Please send him good vibes!

But the thing that really touches me is that he took the time to pick out this Hallmark card – in fact, the card was almost late getting to me in time for the cruise because he said he had a hard time finding just the right one. “When you care enough to send the very best” is Hallmark’s slogan for a reason, so when Bill found this one he knew it was a keeper. Using his opposite hand, he diligently wrote, letter by letter, this message. (I can hear him most likely slinging a few cuss words while he was at it.)

Inside the card was some spending money for my trip to Alaska. Isn’t that sweet?

I’ve saved this card in my memory box as a constant reminder of strength and resilience. Perhaps I get my don’t-let-hyperhidrosis-get-you-down attitude from Bill. He and I are a lot alike. I hope one day all of us can go on a family cruise together. I’ll leave you with this quote, which I mentioned in my first-ever Facebook Live video last weekend. Please view it if you haven’t already.

I can be changed by my circumstances, but I refuse to be reduced by them.
~ Maya Angelou

 

Missed My Radio Segment?
Tune in Now

Travel Bags With Annita

It’s not too late to tune in to Travel Bags With Annita. Listen below to my segment about hyperhidrosis, how it got me to where I am, and meeting someone in the middle of the ocean who also has hyperhidrosis!

On-Air! Travel Bags With Annita

My Life as a Puddle and Travel bags with Annita

I’m a featured guest on this radio show! Please tune in.

Join me on the radio show Travel Bags with Annita. I’ll be interviewed by creator Annita Thomas about my Alaskan cruise with Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine and how my hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) may or may not get in the way of having an amazing time. Plus, you’ll get a sneak peek about the stories I’ll be telling soon on my blog. They include celebrity encounters! Can you even?!

You’ll also hear from fellow #OMagInsiders Makes Me Wander and Single Mom Chic.

Just click the blue “Listen Live” button on Annita’s website (links above and in image) to tune in from 3-4 PM EST.  I’ll be on the second segment.

Thank you, Annita, for featuring me as a guest and letting me spread my message of hyperhidrosis hope and awareness. This was the most relaxed I’ve ever been when speaking about my condition. That’s what happens when you’ve got a good interviewer. 🙂

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