She's the Reason: Jessica

She’s the Reason is a campaign our Ivy Birch team launched in May, which is Fibromyalgia awareness month. This campaign represents women who suffer, often silently, from chronic pain conditions, like Fibromyalgia, and seeks to give them a voice and platform to share their stories. What they face day-to-day is very real, but it is not their identity. They have goals, dreams, and aspirations, and we believe they do not have to be limited by what they can do because of a chronic health condition. Our team here at Ivy Birch Co. works hard to spread awareness about chronic pain conditions, to be a voice for those often unheard and misunderstood, and to raise financial support by donating a portion of our profits to research about a condition that is still very much in the beginning stages of being known and understood.

Meet Jessica: a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, and a fibro warrior

Between the ages of 22 and 26 years old, Jessica began to notice symptoms of fatigue and random body aches that progressively morphed into pain to the point of tears as she fought to get out of bed in the morning. After years of several different diagnoses and many tests later, Jessica was officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, along with Psoriatic Arthritis, at the age of 28.

As you can imagine, being diagnosed with a condition that can be very debilitating at times can be pretty life altering, especially at such a young age. The endless energy and physical freedoms that once were enjoyable, abundant, and able to be done without a second thought can suddenly become strenuous and exhausting, sending those who live with fibromyalgia into a flare up that could last days at a time. When those inevitable flare up days arise, Jessica has a plan of combat, “I give myself 5 minutes to complain or feel bad for myself, then I carry on. If able, I may take an extra nap or have more snuggle time on the couch with my daughter.”

Like Jessica, those who endure fibro day-to-day know firsthand that this condition does not just alter the lives of those diagnosed, it also impacts the lives of those around them. Family and friends who live and interact closely with those that have fibromyalgia must also adapt and adjust accordingly to a “new normal.” Jessica knows firsthand what it is like to have to adjust to this new normal alongside family and friends. “Most friends and family have been supportive by being understanding when I need to rest or, unfortunately, have to cancel plans. They will listen to me and let me have my 5 minutes of complaining, as that’s all I allow myself, and they offer a shoulder to cry on.”

Although every battle with fibromyalgia carries a similar struggle, each battle is also unique. Every person living with this condition has a unique mountain to overcome. Jessica shares, “The lack of energy [has been the biggest mountain to overcome]. Most days I feel like I'm sick with a bad cold or flu, and we all know how little energy you have when you're sick. Making myself do everyday tasks, taking care of my baby, and even going to work are so difficult when you have no energy. It's the kind of tired that caffeine and vitamin B12 don't touch.” 

Through it all, Jessica has learned many valuable lessons from this journey with her health. To the woman (or man) who is facing a similar struggle that may happen to be reading this, she shares, “Don't push yourself just to benefit others. Listen to your body and do what you think you're capable of because you're the one who has to live with the pain after. Your life isn't over. It may be completely different, but you can still live life and accommodate your interests to your new abilities!” Jessica’s desire is for others who do not struggle with fibromyalgia, nor necessarily understand the condition, to know, “That it's not in our heads! Working in the medical field, I've heard countless times that fibromyalgia is a made up condition that people just think they have to either go on disability or to obtain pain medications.” Fibromyalgia is very real, at times, very debilitating, and is much easier to face with the love and support of friends and family!

We all need hope and strength to lean on, no matter the type of pain or condition we may face. For Jessica, her biggest source of hope has been God. “Without my faith there's no doubt in my mind that depression, anger and anxiety would take over.”

At Ivy Birch, we believe that no matter what condition, struggle, or adversity you may face, you are empowered and free to dream and aspire to become everything your heart desires. Jessica dreams, “to become an APRN. My biggest dream was to always be a mom, and I never thought it would happen due to my illnesses, medications and age. I am so thankful for my precious gift everyday!”

This is Jessica, and she’s the reason...