This week’s interview is with Carolyn the gal behind Chronically Cheerful. Her bright smile says it all — and she has became my first #instabestie with our daily messages of inspiration, encouragement, and support. She truly has been a godsend as we both manage our migraine pain, sometimes eerily having a similar week. Seeing what she brings to our community through her ‘gram with words of wisdom and a beautifully curated feed. Bringing inspiration to those near and far no matter their illness. So, without further ado, please enjoy the first Wellness Warrior interview with Carolyn.
What is Chronically Cheerful?
Chronically Cheerful is an Instagram page offering wellness inspiration, support and connection. Some posts are specific to the challenges of chronic migraine, but most are relevant to anyone navigating their unique wellness journey.
How did you decide to start sharing?
Like many of us who became chronically ill, I felt extremely isolated, lonely and scared during early months of my condition. That finally shifted when I briefly met a few fellow chronic migraineurs in person. I discovered these connections offered powerful reassurance, validation and hope, and I created a new Instagram account to follow along with the journeys of ordinary – yet extraordinary -chronic wellness warriors. After observing from a distance for awhile, I decided to join in the conversation. Over these past few months, Chronically Cheerful has not only helped me to meet wonderful people, but also helped me discover newfound meaning.
How did you decide on the look and feel of your Instagram?
I’ve always loved collaging — putting together images and quotes that fit a color palette. If you look at my feed, you’ll see I go through phases of different colors. I’m currently on red!
Walk me through your process of how you find inspiration and decide what to talk/post about on Instagram.
Themes for posts center on the wellness questions and topics on my mind, ranging from pain management to friendship. Occasionally, a fall in love with a image or quote that sparks the idea first.
Can you tell us a little bit about your wellness journey?
Winter 2017, my episodic migraines transitioned to one continuous migraine. Called “intractable chronic migraine,” this migraine has no clear start or stop and flares up throughout the day and/or week. I resigned from my communications job that Spring due to rapidly declining functionality. Besides adapting to physical pain and its limitations, I’ve also struggled learning to be more self-compassionate, patient and accepting of uncertainty (all frequent topics on my IG account!). Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy have all been extremely helpful coping tools. Treatment wise, I’m truly grateful to report that I’m finding significant pain relief for the first time with my very latest medication. And while my main goals for the future have shifted toward increasing functionality, resilience and energy, I still am working on my dreams of writing creatively. You can find me as a Mantra Wellness Magazine contributor!
What does healing look like to you?
For me healing involves investing energy into what will make me feel better and more balanced. Sometimes that means “visible” efforts — like going to doctor appointments, symptom tracking or trying new medications — but often it is also “inner” work — like mindfulness, practicing meditation and cultivating gratitude. Focusing on this inner work has helped me continue to move forward, even when my pain is not improving.
Can you share three things you’re grateful for right now?
1. My hubby. My rock, best friend and favorite giggle partner.
2. Dusty, our Maltipoo. Champion cuddler and emotional support animal!
What does your self-care routine look like?
I begin every day with a cup of tea, meditation (I use the Calm app) and a few minutes of journaling. This routine has helped ground me and feel less anxious beginning the day – no matter the pain level. Ideally, I wouldn’t log onto Instagram until after this routine, but I’m working on that 😉 Connecting with my #instafam is one of my strongest forms of self-care and has been hugely helpful to counter the loneliness of being homebound.
During the day, walking my dog and listening to an audiobook or podcast are my go-to forms of self-care. A big part of my self-care routine is also learning how to pace my days according to different pain levels, and to accept this level of activity without guilt or self-blame. I’m also practicing breathwork, trying to be more present and calm through better “belly breaths.”
In the evening, my hubby and I usually wind down with some feel-good TV (and another cup of tea!). Right before bed, I write in my gratitude journal. For a final boost of inspiration, I pull a card from Gabrielle Bernstein’s “The Universe Has Your Back” deck.
I know that you are an Ambassador for The TIREDGIRL Society; which is so exciting! Gow did you get selected and what does that involve on your part?
Thank you so much! A few months ago, I found The TIREDGIRL Society, an online community of women with chronic illnesses. I loved their aim of helping those with chronic illness to stop waiting and start living their best life right now. I applied as an ambassador online, and a few conversations with the founder confirmed TGS was exactly the kind of online space and creative outlet I’d been looking for. Ambassadors lead conversations in our online clubs, direct different creative projects and help others members connect.
Tell Me Your Favorites
At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can. — Frida Kahlo
I am on an ever-changing journey. I am where I am meant to be.
I am bringing the most curious, courageous version of me there has ever been.
Recent Fav: Look Alive Out There: Essays
Forever Fav: Pride and Prejudice (big time Austen fan!)
(It’s a tie!) The High Low and A Few Things by Of a Kind. Both feel like listening to your besties discuss the news, pop culture, books, fashion and food.
Magazines or Blogs
I subscribe to a few newsletters I LOVE which link to their blogs and fun, inspirational and informative content from around the web:
- The Sunday Soother
- The Stripe
- Girls Night In
- Jamie Varon/ Friday Letters
- The Ann Friedman Weekly