4 Tips for Being Supportive of a Loved One with Chronic Pain | Model Behaviors

4 Tips for Being Supportive of a Loved One with Chronic Pain

Family is extremely important to me. My daughters and husband are my world.  I can’t go long periods of time without seeing my parents and my sister and her husband—let alone a day without talking to them.  And for my closest friends (i.e. my second family) I tell them often how much they mean to me. Essentially, I smother people with my love.

My sister Puja and I have always been very close. From the day I was born, she took it upon herself to love me and protect me. Even at four years old, she was trying to give me bottles and cover me up with blankets to keep me warm. Despite our four-year age difference, my mom dressed us alike (a bad habit I have also adopted with my daughters), and as we grew up we chose to share a room even when we didn’t have to. Of course, I played the annoying little sister role well, but despite her irritation with me, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she would always be there for me. After college I moved in with her in Chicago, and she continued to be my best friend, protector, and closest confidante.

When I decided to make the leap to move from Chicago to LA, it was a tough decision. Leaving my sister was hard to do, but I figured she and her fiancé needed some alone time, instead of me tagging along on every date. Soon after I left, my sister got into a very bad car accident, resulting in a herniated disc in her neck and a piece of her spine dislodging.  After much suffering, several injuries, and a quest to find answers, she was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. She’s written an incredible series about her experiences on Huffington Post, so if you don’t know much about this medical condition, I definitely recommend clicking over to read it.

Read More: Puja’s Fibromyalgia Series on Huffington Post

Even if you don’t know someone with Fibromyalgia, it’s highly likely you know someone with chronic pain. One in three people in the US suffer from chronic pain, and it can be debilitating (source). I refer to it as the invisible disease because in so many cases you can’t see the symptoms, so people suffer in silence.  It’s beyond frustrating to me when people think that those with Fibromyalgia or other chronic pain conditions can control their pain and it’s no big deal. These people are in intense pain every single day. Yes there are days when it is less intense than others, but they never go a full day without life-altering pain. A lot about Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions is still unknown, but every year there is more literature and education, and the dedicated rheumatologists and brave patients help us all learn more.

I’m ashamed to admit that for a long time I didn’t truly understand my sister’s disease either. I attribute some of that to her not sharing a lot of this journey with me, but I soon came to realize that she really couldn’t until she got to a certain point.  And I attribute most of that to my lack of education and understanding.

But just like in other areas of my life, once I dug in and started doing my research, I realized that there are ways we can help our loved ones just by being there and understanding. So below are four ways I’ve learned to be more supportive of my loved one with chronic pain.

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The Making of Darlington's First Birthday: Holly's Décor | Model Behaviors

The Making of Darlington’s First Birthday: Holly’s Décor

My heart always skips a beat or two when I see an email arrive in my inbox from Toni about a new idea. Those that know me will think I sound like a broken record here, but I never miss a chance to say just how incredibly flattered, honored, thankful, and blessed I feel when friends and family members allow me to contribute to their events with my décor or planning services. Each and every order or party I book means a great deal to me and to my business, but there is something so extra special about being a part of my loved ones’ big days. So naturally I replied to Toni’s note with my signature, overly enthusiastic “COUNT ME IN!” before even really taking in all of the details.

But I knew that whatever the project was, it would be extraordinary. Over the past eighteen months, I’ve come to learn that working with Toni always means a challenge (in a good way!), a creative freedom, an open-mindedness, and so much more. The first item she ever asked me to make, for example, was a piece for Darlington’s nursery a few months before she was due. When I told her that I felt the strong need to create a mobile featuring tigers jumping through a flaming hoop for this newborn baby girl, Toni had no hesitation in telling me to go for it.

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VIDEO: Introducing the Latest Behaviorist Marzia Prince

You know that awesome feeling when you’re around someone and you’re talking about your dreams, and you just know how much they believe in you? That’s Marzia Prince.

And luckily, she’s our newest Behaviorist!

We first introduced her as one of our Mommy Makeover Contest advisers. Her personality and infectious motivation quickly proved that she was the kind of coach who wouldn’t let our participants rest on their laurels. She wanted to get the ball rolling the moment our participants were announced. She kept in touch with each woman and sent them workout routines every two weeks throughout the contest. She was always in our Facebook group, keeping us focused and dedicated to our goals.

Marzia was there every day, every moment, pushing us all to be our best selves.

In March, she was our Woman of the Month, and she gave us so much insight on her life as a coach and her journey toward a healthy, productive lifestyle. I was particularly touched by her story of coming to terms with the fact that she would never be a mom in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, she gets to be a nurturer in her role as a health and fitness coach.

Earlier this month she wrote her first post as a Behaviorist, How to Be a Healthinista on Vacation. Click over to give that one a read and watch her video above, where she shares why she’s so excited to join Team MB!

Wellness Wednesday: HEART | Model Behaviors

Wellness Wednesday: HEART

Y’all. I have a confession to make. It’s deep. It’s dark. It’s something I never thought I would admit to the public. But here goes.

A couple weeks ago, I watched an episode of The Bachelorette. If that wasn’t shocking enough, I took it one step further and I liked it. I’ve watched every episode so far this season, so I guess you could say I’m officially hooked.

You may be thinking, “Gasp! Courtney, no!” Believe me. I still kind of think that about myself. The whole idea behind The Bachelor and The Bachelorette used to make me queasy (okay, it still does). One dude with two dozen ladies all vying for his attention? It puts my feminist bristles up just thinking about it. But then they had to go and reverse it so that there was one lady with two dozen guys vying for her attention. Equality, right? Wrong! Basically, the dudes have to prove their “manliness” by doing macho things like saving the Bachelorette (this season the bachelorette is a woman named JoJo) from a burning building or playing a game of flag football (which included tackling) to determine who gets to go on a date with her.

I can’t count the number of times the guys have threatened to pummel each other or called each other “little bitch” or engaged in some other chauvinistic thing when they feel like their territory with JoJo has been crossed. Let’s also keep in mind that there were literally four men of color out of twenty-six contestants. I looked through photos of them to verify this number, and it turns out that one of the black men was practically cut out of the first episode and never seen of or heard from again.

I’ve been watching the show with my friend, Kolbe (whom you may remember from this post where she shared five tips for beginning runners), and when a message came on the screen about casting calls in Dallas, I jokingly said, “You want to audition?” She said, “I won’t make it.” And when I asked why, she said, “Because they only pick white people.” Yikes.

So how did this happen?

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