Friday: Spent all day and evening in the ER. I was EXTREMELY light-heading, threw up, missed my art class and spent 24 hours in bed thinking I’d feel fine in the morning . . . WRONG.
Saturday: In the morning the room was moving and I wasn’t. Every time I moved I threw up and there was nothing to throw-up since I hadn’t eaten anything (You have probably created a nasty picture in your mind . . . just make it even nastier).
The ER was even more fun. Throwing up, drawing blood, 2 CT scans (to make sure it wasn’t a stroke . . . it wasn’t) and finally, after 4 different anti-nausea medications and drips, I stopped throwing up.
Sunday: I’m still dizzy and have to hold on to things to walk (it’s a bit wonky to type) but the good news, the GREAT news, is I’ve not thrown up. The bad news is I’m still dizzy . . . and grey-haired.
To my friends and acquaintances who suffer with Ménière’s disease. . . I have new compassion for you!
P.S. For those of you I confused . . I don’t have Menieres just plain Ditzy.
Sharon Bonin Pratt is a writer, an artist and a dear friend. I think she also is psychic. I’ve been not feeling great and the subject of her last post was just what I needed. AND it’s dedicated to ME!!!! What an honor!
Shari inspired me to look for a smile (SEE THE VIDEO).
“Who can laugh without relaxing? Isn’t that why some of us (not me of course, and certainly not you, but other unnamed folks) pee their pants when laughing raucously? Losing all control is not a bad thing, even if you must change your whitie-dities, because when you’re having that much fun – who cares about all the rest? Oh, and it’s contagious! In a good way, not like the flu, but like having enough cup cakes for everyone in the world. So now I not only feel good inside my own world weary bod – I feel good because everyone around me also feels good. Motto for today: Spread cheer – laugh out loud.”
The theme for July is “Journey”. Held a special 4 hour – yes, count ’em FOUR hours of creative energy – workshop yesterday. The participants focused on a painful experience, what strengths they developed as a result of the pain and how God’s love or “the universe’s grace” touched them.
People could share as much or as little as they chose. It was a wonderful group of women. (All you men, where are you?!!!!)
Take a look at a sample of wonderful paintings and mini-journals the participants created yesterday!
To see all the paintings and journal pages click HERE!
“Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping stones, just as we make them.” Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith
I woke this morning feeling like a truck hit me, threw me onto the train tracks where I was run over by a locomotive.
AND lo and behold . . .
. . . today is National Fibromyalgia Day. I’m in no mood to celebrate but the Fibro-Fiends that dwell inside me are having a ball!
I’m too tired to write an entirely new post to post on this post so I’ll just post part of a post of a post that I posted sometime ago. . . . .
“I look normal, I act normal(relatively normal). However, I feel exhausted much of the time, my body aches from head to toe and my brain sometimes has trouble remembering or concentrating. Please don’t tell me to exercise more, eat better, try acupuncture or go to a new doctor. After 20 years I’ve tried just about everything there is to try that I can afford, swallow or legally do.”
“I don’t even care anymore what you call it: Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, malingering . . . it’s just tiring being tired much of the time. I push through it otherwise I’d have no life. But the price for pushing can be days of crashing so I pick and choose my commitments.”
Confidential: Send me your prayers because tomorrow I’m leaving for an Unitarian Woman’s Retreat where I’m facilitating 2 workshops. (I am not planning on taking my Fibro-Fiends with me. Please don’t tell anyone because if the Fiends get wind I want to leave them home they will be angry . . . very angrrrrrrrrry . . .)
“Syrian kids who passed through Milan’s Central Station last year did something very Italian: create artwork. While they waited for trains to take them to northern Europe, Save the Children offered them a chance to draw. They could depict whatever they wanted, says psychologist Vittoria Ardino, president of the Italian Society for the Study of Traumatic Stress, who analyzed 500 of these images.”
Scroll down to last drawing to read one of Ardino’s reflections on the drawings.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama
“God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man.”
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”
1 Corinthians 1:10
“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you
If you do not act on upon them?”
Here’s one of Vittoria Ardino’s reflections on these drawings:
“There’s so much happening on this piece of paper — which is maybe a reflection of the child’s chaotic inner world, Ardino says. A flying creature is part butterfly, a common symbol of freedom. But it’s also part gun. A plane dropping bombs is covered by a face that’s half-human and half-fish (or actually, a big fish devouring a smaller one). A flower droops over a series of squiggles, which Ardino believes represent human bodies. All of that points to a child feeling powerless — but “trying desperately to find light,” Ardino adds. The face is surrounded by sun, and an oversized ladder or staircase leads away from the houses. Ardino suggests this is the child’s attempt at answering a critical question: “How can I escape?”‘
Click hereto read Ardino’s reflections on all 7 drawings.
In my writing class this morning the woman next to me got up unexpectedly and left. On return she said threw up in the bathroom. A few minutes later she said she didn’t feel good, hot and sweaty, and thought she should go home. Something told me to ask her if she had chest pain.
I interrupted the teacher and privately told him she had heart attack symptoms. He immediately had the facility call 911.
The woman kept repeating she was ok, in great health, played tennis 4 times a week, no history of heart disease in the family, ate well and would be fine. Even after the paramedics came she kept questioning whether she needed to go to the hospital.
Because I’ve followedCarolyn’s blog I know common symptoms for women having a heart attack:
“Women often have different symptoms of a heart attack than men and may report serious symptoms even before having a heart attack, although the signs are not ‘typical’ heart attack symptoms.These include:”
neck, throat, shoulder, upper back, or abdominal discomfort
shortness of breath
nausea or vomiting
anxiety or “a sense of impending doom”
light-headedness or dizziness
unusual fatigue for several days
This woman had three symptoms PLUS, by the time the paramedics arrived, pain radiated to her jaw.
I insisted she go to the hospital and she could blame me if everything was ok.
I should go out in the garden and eat worms. I’m exhausted. I hurt all over. It’s hard not to have self-pity. I TRY to limit my public and private kvetching because I know it doesn’t help . . . me or you. There’s scientific basis for the harm we do to ourselves when we talk about trauma – any kind of trauma.
Rehashing a traumatic story/event does some of the following:
puts our system on high alert
triggers the fight/flight response
triggers shutdown mode
On the flip side Carolyn talks about the benefits of sharing with close friends:
“Dr. Laura Cousin Klein and her team found that the credit for women’s unique stress reactions may belong to the hormone oxytocin (also known as the “lovehormone”). It’s the body’s own wonder drug – released when we nurse our babies, for example, as well as during a woman’s stress response. It’s instinctual, it buffers the fight-or-flight response and it encourages us to tend children and gather with other women instead – what’s called our tend-and-befriend response to stress. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone—which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress—seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.”
“. . . Google Maps users can use Street View for a first-person climb on both the The Nose and a portion of the Dawn Wall routes for scaling El Cap.”
“The advantage of Google’s Street View mountaineering is that you don’t actually have to risk anything to do it, except maybe a static shock from your mouse depending on if you’ve been shuffling your feet around on carpeting.”
” . . . Alex Honnold, Lynn Hill and Tommy Caldwell performed the climb used to capture the imagery . . . “
I never answer my phone. I call people back when I have energy or e-mail because two-way phone conversations are physically tiring. Crazy! . . . sounds crazy, even to me. So I assume it sounds crazy to you.
Not wanting to be labeled as “nuts” I usually explain that after 30 years as a psychotherapist, answering my phone knowing that someone is probably calling in crisis, I’ve become phone-phobic.
You understand phobia’s and their hallmark of being irrational. You don’t understand neuroimmune-central nervous system-out-of-wack. Can’t fault you. I don’t understand it. Medical science doesn’t understand it.
Normal stimuli overload my brain circuits and the brains of others who live with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Lyme disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, brain trauma etc. There are a lot of theories but no one really knows why or what to do about it.
Even though I’m a social person by nature all socializing tires me. One or two “events” a week is my limit.Social Events? You are undoubtedly picturing me out-on-the-town, wearing a Dior gown and sipping wine at the opera ( . . . those who know me are picturing me wearing a t-shirt, Levi’s, Crocs and sipping coffee at Starbucks).
Activities that once were pleasurable now create fatigue:
Going to the movies or lunch with a friend(afterwards I nap for 3 hours)
Participating in any group activity(afterwards I go to bed early)
Walking Freddie in the park.(I go the opposite direction when I see others walking their dogs. Walking is taxing enough without interacting with dogs’ humans.)
Shopping in stores crowded with merchandise.(My brain goes on visual overload)
Talking on the phone to someone I love.(Yup, two-way conversations take focus and thus energy.)
Since retiring I’ve done phone sessions with clients.The pleasure of hearing their voices, catching up on their lives and the honor of hopefully helping them get back on track far outweigh any fatigue that comes later. I’ve long ago figured out that some things are well worth the consequences of a nap or a few days of inactivity.
Please continue to reach out. I will be honest with you about my options and energy. I don’t want to live as a social recluse. So E-mail me when you want to catch up, share, or get together because I won’t answer the phone . . .
This fascinating article helps me understand the Baha’i principle – The “greater good” outweighs the “lesser good”. I do know that good things are born out of suffering and sacrifice but I must remind myself that this world isn’t instant cup-a-soup.
“The world’s largest refugee camp is also a giant social experiment.”
“Take hundreds of thousands of Somalis fleeing a war. Shelter them for 24 years in a camp in Kenya run by the United Nations. And offer different opportunities than they might have had if they’d stayed in Somalia.”
‘”Probably the most interesting and misunderstood thing about Dadaab is that the refugee camp has had a kind of liberalizing influence,” says Ban Rawlence.”
“They are a ready-made middle class,” Rawlence says. “Educated Somalis who are ready and waiting to move into Somalia to rebuild the country.”‘
“The Kenyan government wants the experiment to end, soon. It’s pushing the refugees to return to their home in Somalia, though the camp called Dadaab is the only home many have known.”
“Habiba Abdurahman fled the war in Somalia when she was six, with her mother and sisters. She had lived in a village where girls rarely went to school. Suddenly she was in a camp where international organizations offered free tutoring for girls to catch up academically. In her village, female genital mutilation was common. In the camp FGM was not only illegal but there were constant messages against it.”
“At 27 Abdurahman was elected a camp chairwoman, under election rules designed to promote gender equality. Last year she went back to Somalia on a U.N.-sponsored “look and see” trip to the liberated city of Kismayo. The trip was meant to assure refugees that parts of Somalia were finally safe enough to return to. But what she saw shocked her.”
“What kind of person would she be if she’d grown up there instead of here in the camp?”
Sometimes wanting to be “perfect” stops me from finishing projects. I’m now too tired to strive for perfection. I figure it’s time to experiment and remove expectation to get my “spark” back.
I’m comfortable abstractly sloshing paint color around but “drawing” is another matter. Put a pencil or pen in my hand and I tighten both my grip and expectation.
With that in mind, I purposely held the pencil very loosely and literally scribbled“areas” rather than try to draw perfect lines. I didn’t bother trying to copy anything, look at any references, decide where the light was coming from or have a plan. I just scribbled. I like the looseness of the drawing and taking away expectation of being precise was enjoyable.
Maybe this is a good lesson to apply to other areas of my life . . .
judy’s journal – Scribbled and scratched in the face with pencil and pastel chalk
Don’t let the cartoons throw you off – this is a real life interview and worth every minute of your time (watch all the way to the end).
“Kay Wang was a strong-willed grandmother who was reluctantly taken to a StoryCorps* booth by her son and granddaughter.Though Kay resisted, she still had stories to tell—from disobeying her mother and rebuffing suitors while growing up in China to late-life adventures as a detective for Bloomingdale’s department store.”
“Kay passed away just weeks after that interview, and her son and granddaughter returned to StoryCorps to remember her gentler side, which she kept to herself.”
“Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews with over 90,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind . . . “
You can donate to this incredible project and find out where recordings are made, click here for the StoryCorps website.
When I regret something I’ve done (or haven’t done) it’s a signal that I’ve not learned from my choice. I believe that making mistakes, taking wrong turns is ultimately about learning and growing and not repeating what didn’t work.
Photographer Alecsandra Raluca Dragoitook pictures of people from all over the world sharing their greatest regrets. She captured a range of emotions—humor, heartbreak, and guilt. It would be fascinating to talk to these same people in 10 years to see if they’ve learned from what they now regret.
Anyone can contribute to the ongoing project by taking a photo to share. Participants can send the image to the artist via a Facebook message. Dragoi references an anonymous quote as inspiration to those who wish to take part:
“If we spend our time with regrets over yesterday, and worries over what might happen tomorrow, we have no today in which to live.”
To see Alecsandra Dragoi’s site and many more photos click here.
It’s been a rough several months. I suspect that in order to flee all the snow in the Eastern United States my “Fibro-Fiend” needed a bit of sunshine so dropped in for a visit. It’s been sunny and warm here and she just won’t leave.
She’s a demanding house-guest and almost all my energy is spent focusing on her needs. She doesn’t have a very good sense of humor either and I have to find ways to amuse myself. I’ve not had the energy to participate in Year of the Spark so I revisited some old, EASY Carla Sonheim exercises looking for some spark.
Until I read Carolyn’s excellent post I had never heard of Post Traumatic GROWTH:
“Post-Traumatic Growth is the experience of positive change that occurs as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life crises.
“Although the term is new, the idea that great good can come from great suffering is ancient.”
“Reports of Post-Traumatic Growth have been found in people who have experienced bereavement, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV infection, cancer, bone marrow transplantation, heart attacks, coping with the medical problems of children, transportation accidents, house fires, sexual assault and sexual abuse, combat, refugee experiences, and being taken hostage.”
Read this informative and thought-provoking post and Carolyn’s concern for patients & people regarding this concept. ClickHERE
I am sustained by my Baha’i belief that pain, suffering – any type of crisis – is an opportunity for learning, changing and growing. My professionally and personal experience backs my belief as I know, without a doubt, that pleasure, ease and happiness do not promote growth.
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t seek out pain and suffering but when it happens to me or in the world I do look for the good that can evolve.
“Do you think the image of Liberia has changed through this [Ebola crisis]?
“Yes, I think it has. We were the poster child of everything that could go wrong: disaster, death, destruction all over the place. We too, as a result of Ebola, had a re-energizing of ourselves. We saw a new opportunity to turn this crisis into something that will be good for the country. And it’s not just the leadership, It’s also the people in the communities. They were the victims but they became the victors because they were the ones who took responsibility. They all had a role to play. And because of that, we see this as a new resurgence. Our success, we think, has been heralded. If you look at the predictions that we faced in October, I mean, by the end of January there will be 1.4 million people dead. That was a wake-up call for us, a call to action. Our people rose to that.”
Long after the original dagger has been wiped clean of blood, wounds of failure, loneliness and rejection often never heal. We learn to cover them up with smiles and long sleeves to keep them hidden from view.
Emotional wounds lie on the surface. They get bumped, scrapped and ripped opened over and over throughout our lives. We habituate to our emotional pain and don’t look for help until our body starts talking to us through physical symptoms.
Many of you who know me well know I often speak in “hyperbole”. All of you knowI’m not now exaggerating. Watch this excellent TedTalk.
“We’ll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or a nagging pain. So why don’t we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness? Too many of us deal with common psychological-health issues on our own, says Guy Winch. But we don’t have to. He makes a compelling case to practice emotional hygiene — taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.”
I tend to live in the present moment – not because I am centered nor have I perfected mindfulness. It’s because I have a very lousy long-term memory. You can tell me the same joke over and over and I’ll laugh every time because I never remember the punch line. I don’t remember having already seen a movie or read a book until I get to the end. Details of my life elude me. Turns out I’m blessed by a forgetful remembering-self.
LISTEN to this!!!!!!!! – How we determine what is a painful experience or a pleasurable one; How we create the story of our life.
Owls can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270 degrees “. . . owls have backup arteries, which offer a fresh supply of nutrients when blood vessels get closed off by rapid turning.
Their arteries also swell to collect any excess blood created in the process.”National Geographic
I bought paint today for the bedroom – grey paint, Grey Owl,the name on the paint chip. A quick trip to the paint store. “I like how you smile. I just told my last customer that I like to see smiles. I always say the first wrinkles I get will be right here”, she swipes her fingers around her mouth, “from smiling,” the clerk behind the counter looks at me straight in the eye. “I like how you smile”.
Maybe from 30 years of being a therapist,a scent people pick up just like Freddie my dog picks up with his nose – scents that I can’t, don’t detect. I watch her ring up my paint purchase.
“I just have a happy disposition. They say I’m like my mother. Always laughing. If my Mother saw someone trip and fall out there” – she looks outside through the plate-glass window– “she would laugh and laugh. But people never know what you feel inside, people never know if you have just been in your car, crying. People can’t see the sadness or pain inside. You can swipe your credit card now”, she takes a breath, “My mother died when I was 4 years old. I wasn’t allowed in the hospital. Maybe my brothers got to see her, got to say goodbye. I never saw her. I never said goodbye. I have two boys and a girl. My little girl always wants to be with me. I try to imagine what it was like for my Mother.”
I say something rather innocuous struck by how beautiful – smooth skin, clear, dark kinky hair, color streaked, pulled tightly back in a careless knot, bright red lipstick. Turning, gesturing, looking up, looking down at the computer she doesn’t stop moving, trapped behind the counter. She speaks fast, effortlessly, her words softened with Spanish sounding consonants. “My aunt raised me but I’ve never felt like a daughter. I never felt loved. My aunt already had 6 children but she told my Mom she would take care of me. My mother never told anyone she was dying. She didn’t want anyone to worry. I talk to my Mother. I tell her when I’m angry. I want to give you a hug.”– an effortless, tight hug separated by a counter. She picks up the ringing phone and motions me to get my paint.
Two gallons, one in each hand. They’re heavy, the wire handles digging painfully into my palms. She smiles and nods in my direction, still on the phone, as I walk out the automatic doors.
Grey Owl painton the bedroom wall. Surrounded by the stark white molding it looks fresh and soothing . I’ll smile at the Grey Owl walls when I wake in the morning, a smile for the young woman in the paint store and her mother.
“In ancient Egyptian, Celtic, and Hindu cultures the symbolic meaning of owl revolved around guardianship of the underworlds, and a protection of the dead.”
“The owl was honored as the keeper of spirits who had passed from one plane to another. Often myth indicates the owl accompanying a spirit to the underworld – winging its newly freed soul from the physical world into the realm of spirit.”animal-symbolism
Meet the mom who started the Ice Bucket Challenge – Great speaker! Inspiring!
“When Nancy Frates’ 29-year-old son Pete hurt his wrist in a baseball game,he got an unexpected diagnosis: it wasn’t a broken bone, it was ALS, and there is no cure. In this inspiring talk, Nancy tells the story of what happened next.”
Moderation is NOT my middle name.October did me in– I started celebrating Halloween early and haven’t stopped. Am I trying to hoist myself back on to my sugar shun track? Yup. Listen to this! Astounding!
“Thou Shalt Not Whine”is a hand embroidered sign in my office that was given to me by my good friend Sharon.
I do try to live up to that motto but today I am whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiining. I have a headache, my body aches all over, my feet are burning, my brain is fogged and the only energy I had was depleted by the effort it took me to get in bed and take a nap*. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Woe is me! Oh! woe is me!
Like all (or many) of us living with chronic conditions the key is life-style management to keep the symptoms at a low simmer instead of a rolling boil. In the last several decades I’ve perfected life-style management:
judy’s Life-Style Management
Overdo it quick
take advantage of the lull
then crash, moan and groan.
when no one is listening
It’s free therapy
Did whining make me feel better? Nope. But it’s nice to know that even if I’m not feeling well
my inner child is alive and kicking.
*You don’t have to wash your hands after reading this post. I’m not contagious. It’s just fibromyalgia letting me know who’s in charge.
True confessions: I’m addicted to sugar and Stefan Bucher. Stefan draws, actually, Stefan gives birth to a daily monster. (The labor pains have been decades in the makings).
Stefan drew Monster #292, asked a question and I replied. My response was, I’m sure, “fed” (pun intended) by my most recent vow to not imbibe in refined sugar for this month. Stefan’s reply to my comment was to refer me to this comedy video. I would have found it to be quite funny if it hadn’t set off obsessive thoughts about key lime, berry, lemon, apple, cherry and chocolate fudge.
I checked out Wikipedia looking to satisfy my cravings more rationally only to find that it is perfectly logical to be irrational on the subject of pie.
Pi” “Being an irrational number, (obsessive thinking regarding pie is always irrational)π cannot be expressed exactly as a common fraction, (because once you eat a delicious piece of pie it never again can be a fraction of a piece of pie nor considered common) although fractions such as 22/7 and other rational numbers are commonly used to approximate π. Consequently its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern. The digits appear to be randomly distributed although, to date, no proof of this has been discovered. Also, π is a transcendental number(if you’ve ever tasted a morsel of mouth-watering pi you are indeed having a transcendental experience)– a number that is not the root of any non-zero polynomial having rationalcoefficients. This transcendence of π implies that it is impossible to solve the ancient challenge of squaring the circle with a compass and straight-edge.”
(We all know pies are round:) “Because its definition relates to the circle, π is found in many formulae in trigonometry and geometry,(gastronomy) especially those concerning circles, ellipses or spheres. It is also found in formulae used in other branches of science such as cosmology, number theory,statistics, fractals, thermodynamics, mechanics, (french pastry)andelectromagnetism. The ubiquity of π makes it one of the most widely known mathematical constants (and culinary delights) both inside and outside the scientific community: Several (cook)books devoted to it have been published, the number is celebrated on Pi Day wherecalculations of the digits of π( inrecord-setting pie eating contests)often result in news headlines. Attempts to memorize (and digest) the value of π with increasing precision have led to records of over 67,000 digits” (of ant-acid tablets).
After re-reading this post it is clear to me my body is glucose-deprived and not enough oxygen is getting to my brain. I’m off to Marie Callenders for clarity.
In 1996 I contracted an invisible “illness”. I began experiencing excruciating burning pain in my hands, arms and legs followed by gastrointestinal, cardiological, dermatological, emotional “issues”. The worst part is I was also in peri-menopause and experiencing mood swings, wildly, uncontrollably ric-o-shaying between happy, content to annoyed and upset.
In1996 fibromyalgia was not recognized by the medical community as a “real” ailment. Doctors considered it to be a syndrome: Unexplainable, unverifiable and psychosomatic. It was a Hysterical Middle Aged Woman’s Syndrome, as doctor after doctor told me – based on test, after expensive test coming back negative – that nothing was wrong with me and to go home and “Get a life”.
Forever imprinted in my memory is the chief of neurology at one of the major medical centers in Los Angeles (the doctor and medical center shall remain nameless because this is a true story) looked at me knowingly, like we shared a secret “You’re a psychotherapist. You know about psychological issues” – he leaned forward, compassionately touching me on the knee and winked. “Go home, live a good life and take up a hobby like kick-boxing.” The only reason I winked back was to blink away the tears that were threatening to disrupt the façade that I wasn’t a hysterical middle-aged woman.
I looked for anyone –gynecologists, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, neurologists, rheumatologists, environmental specialists, acupuncturists, immunologists, chiropractors – to put a name to what I had, to give what was invisible to everyone but myself a label other than HYPOCHONDRIAC. I looked fine, acted fine, all tests were negative. All I took away from the 100’s of doctor’s visits was a stack of psychiatrist’s cards doctors handed to me on the way out of their office.
After years of escalating pain, exhaustion, depression, countless doctors and tests I really did qualify on all counts as a hysterical middle-aged woman .
Well over a decade after my initial symptoms fibromyalgia was recognized by the medical community as “real” and research has since shown that it’s a central nervous system, brain processing disorder.
I’m no longer middle-aged or hysterical. But the doctors were right – it was, it is, all in my head.
At the risk of jinxing myselfI’ve been puzzling over why I do not suffer as much from fibromyalgia than the women (and men) I know who are in more pain, have more co-morbid conditions and debilitating symptoms than I do.
And because they are, for the most part, held hostage by their medical conditions they are unable to continue to work in their professions and live a “relatively normal” life. I’m not sure my life is “normal”. I’m often stopped in my tracks by exhaustion, distracted by pain but I’ve been blessed by being able to continue to work in a profession that gives my life purpose and meaning.
What’s prompted all my questioning and thinking?
I’ve been reading books written by Viktor Frankl an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who was a Holocaust survivor. In his book Mans Search for Meaning he writes about his incarceration in nazi death camps where he observed that those who did not believe their existence had meaning succumbed in greater numbers from starvation and disease than those who held the belief that their life had meaning.
Their purpose didn’t involve grand schemes of saving the world, curing people or groundbreaking discoveries. Purpose ranged from finishing a manuscript of a book begun before incarceration, staying alive for a family member or simply believing God had an unknown reason for them to live.
So? What part does purpose and meaning play in our lives? in your life? Does having purpose and meaning help reduce emotional or physical suffering? I don’t pretend to have the answer, just the question.
Here’s Dr Frankl in an interview about finding meaning in difficult times. (He talks about his experience in the concentration camps toward the end of the interview.)
“. . .the man on the street knows that meaning may not only be found in creating a work and doing a deed, not only in encountering someone and experiencing something, but also, if need be, in the way in which he stands up to suffering.” Viktor Frankl
I remember the first time I was called “Ma’am”. It was spewed out by a 15-year-old bag bog at the supermarket. I was barely into my 30’s.
Stay with me
This morning I had a heart halter monitor “installed” (Nothing serious – just trying to titrate off of anti-arrhythmia medication which necessitates 24 hour monitoring just in case my heart protests) It’s always a bit sobering when I have anything heart related. It reminds me that while I’m aging on the outside for the world to see my insides are wrinkling too. On my way back I stopped at Costco for lunch.
Be patient it will all make sense
I often go to Costco for lunch or dinner (for those of you in other parts of the world – it’s a warehouse store where the smallest quantities are packaged for a family of 20). I feast on food samples being handed out to market products.
The best times for dining are Saturdays and Sundays where the aisles are replete with men and women, wearing white things over their hair, dishing out miniscule samples of food. It is a leisurely meal because it takes time going back for seconds and thirds without looking conspicuous.
Today there was a new product – energy bars. Energy is something I can always use so I stopped to eat. The samples were being served by a very friendly, manipulative young man. He was youthfully cute wearing a white thing over his hair .
He informatively explained, “WE only use the best ingredients.” WE don’t use additives”, “OUR bars have low sodium . . . ” If I hadn’t been around the aisle a few times (figuratively and literally) I would have thought he owned the company or at least was a major stockholder.
He encouraged me to try all the three flavors and sample as much as I wished. What’a treat not having to sneak back for second and third helpings. Instead of reeling down the aisles looking for the next food cart I lingered at the table slowly savoring each sample – very tasty. I read the label – good ingredients. Checked how many bars a package – good price. I threw a box into my cart. “Thank you, Miss”, he called out. The “MISS” ricocheted off my psyche just as the MA’AM had done decades earlier.
I’m seriously thinking of going back to help him fine-tune how he markets to MATURE women. This is what I’m going to tell him: Call women “Miss” from 20 to 50. Those are the ages when we desperately care and love the recognition that we still look youthful; Call women 50 years and older Ma’am. This is when WE crave respect, know how we look and NEED ENERGY to care.
If this helps him sell more energy bars I may ask for a cut.
I TOLD you if you stuck with me it would make sense.
Betty Blobfish: “Growing old is not for the faint of heart”
As a therapist I know a lot about memories. In some ways you could say my bread and butter is helping people move past, untangle and reframe painful memories.
I know that memory is tricky, a slippery slope of bits and pieces of information that we think is a whole truth.And I know that we each often remember the very same incident differently withunique meanings, feelings and implications.
Yesterday, Rick Clarke (my first 7th grade crush) sent me an e-mail that he had just attended a memorial service for a high school classmate, Bob Blakey
The information hit me in the gut and sadness washed over me. I had forgotten Bob.
Rick’s e-mail instantly triggered a memory from my 40th high school reunion where Bob approached me. I didn’t recognize him. He saw me squinting at his name tag and said to me, “Bob! BOB!, remember I spilled coke all over you after the dance?!!!” I hadn’t remembered . . . until that moment.
I flashed on the scene after the dance sitting at Googies, a local coffee shop that served hot fudge banana royals and Bob spilling his coke all over my splendiferously gorgeous peacock-blue taffeta gown with lots of petticoats.
I don’t remember if I asked Bob or he asked me to the dance. I don’t remember the dance. I know it must have been a BIG important dance – like a junior-senior prom – because I wore the splendiferously gorgeous peacock-blue taffeta gown with lots of petticoats.
But Bob remembered, remembered me, remembered my splendiferously gorgeous peacock-blue taffeta gown with lots of petticoats, remembered knocking over his coke. He remembered my mortification even though I didn’t remember being mortified.
Tonight I’ll drink a coke in remembrance. Here’s to you Bob.
For years I’ve told clients to put a “smile” on their face (gotta crinkle eyes too). I am not being flippant. Many years ago I read a research study that showed that the muscles involved in smiling signal the brain to release “happy” neurotransmitters. Now it turns out facial muscles signal the brain to release neurotransmitters for both “happy” and “mad”!
One of my favorite blogs which inspires me is Advanced Style by Ari Cohen who in his own words created ” . . . Advanced Style to start a dialogue about aging and to show a positive and uplifting image of getting older.”
“Everyday something unexpected happens to our bodies. I fight everyday to get up and out of bed.When I feel a pain somewhere I tell my body, “I’m so nice to you, what do you want from me?” And I tell myself a little story or joke and remind myself of the times when I was in worse pain, and how lucky I am today, and the pain begins to go away. I tell myself that this isn’t the first time, or the last time that I will feel pain and begin to occupy my mind with other things. You must get involved in things outside of the pain, things that give you interest. All these things are a part of life. We all feel pain and unpleasantness. As long as I can seduce myself to enjoy all kinds of things, like in the morning enjoying the first cup of coffee, or piece of chocolate the pain begins to diminish. I give myself nice things to look forward to, throughout the day. The moment you give in and let yourself get dragged down by misery you are closer to death.”
I shall try to think of Ilona when I feel a pain in my own body . . . or spirit.
My father died 10 years ago. I have held his secret for one decade. My Father held his secret 6 decades.
Dad was a WW II veteran. He enlisted in the army even though he was exempt from serving. After he returned from service in the Philippines Mom said he had changed from the spontaneous, communicative man she had married.
The father I knew didn’t talk, he did things – built rooms, repaired cars, fixed leaks, upholstered furniture. He was incredibly handy, always busy doing, never talking. The father I knew was taciturn and downright anti-social at times.
After my mother diedDad began to talk. He talked non-stop, mostly about fond memories of his youth and early days of dating and marrying Mom. He talked to me, to strangers, to anyone who had a friendly listening ear.
Only when I was driving, both of us looking straight ahead, did he talk of regrets or sorrows . . . He needn’t look at me and I couldn’t look at him.
One ride I will never forget,his tone changed. “I never told your Mother . . .”, a tone I had never heard in his voice before . . . “I killed a man in the Philippines. I still see his eyes.” Startled, I turned to see tears running down his cheeks. “I think about that man having a family . . .”, choking back sobs, he stopped talking.
Monday was Veterans’ day. Outside the market The Veterans of Foreign Wars were handing out poppies. I took one and slipped $5.00 into the donation can – one dollar for every year my father continued to keep his secret kept after Mom died.
A typhoon just ripped its way through the Philippine islands yesterday leaving a trail of visible destruction. There are too many destructive events in this world that rip their way secretively through our psyche and soul.
To read my post about my Dad, my VW & me and an explanation of the significance of the poppy for veterans click here
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below”.
“We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie, In Flanders fields.Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw”
“The torch;be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields”.
“In Flanders Fields” written in 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian forces
I received this e-mail titled “My mega disappointment” this morning:
“Dear Little Miss Manners. All of these decades I have lived with the illusion that I, Rick Clarke, was your secret crush. Now I have been outed in public that it was Billy Nelson, not I. Oh what shall I do?”
Dear Rick, IF you had been to the reunion AND read THE PROGRAM THAT EVERYONE IN ATTENDANCERECEIVED you would know what I wrote: “Secret CrushES – (I would never have admitted it then) Bill Nelson’s falsetto and sense of humor, Rick(y) Clarke – cute, tall and kind“.
IF you had been to the reunion YOU WOULD HAVE HEARD Mike Bewley read (with a wry smile) the afore-mentioned program, using the microphone booming out for all to hear emphasizing “RICK CLARKE TALL, CUTE & KIND and BILL . . . having a sense of humor . . .)
Ifyou had been to the reunion YOU would have heard me ask YOU and Bill to come to the podium where I would declare, IN PUBLIC, my undying secret crush on YOU SINCE GRADE SCHOOL . . . and Bill.
Ifyou had been at the reunion you would have seen me look longingly around the room, waiting for youto rush to the podium, but hearing instead an anonymous voice call out “Rick’s not here.” Being the consummate professional, I continued, never showing my hurt and disappointment that again I wasn’t even important enough to you to come to the reunion to see me.
Ifyou had been to the reunion YOU would have seen how EMBARRASSED BILL was, possibly indicating he never crushed me back and was disturbed by the thought that I, instead of Kay Wester adored him . . . further devastating my fragile psyche, and denying me the fall back position of focusing on YOU.
(Charlotte too declared her secret crush to be Bill– thank goodnessshe never told him in high school or I would have been COMPLETELY devastated to watch BOTHa secret crush and a secret jealousy be boyfriend and girlfriend and get married and attend the reunion as husband and wife further wounding me for the rest of the time I have here on Earth).
If you had been to the reunion YOU would know that since you spurned me FIRST, and scarred me for a lifetime I have ever more been too frightened to tell anyone I had a crush on them, thus denying me the REMOTE pleasure and knowledge, that it might have been humanly possible for any male, much less Bill, to crush me back . . . instead of them always yearning after Kay Wester and Charlotte Mills.
If you had been to the reunion YOU would know that I adored you FIRST since GRADE SCHOOL before I ever met Bill Nelson. But because you spurned me I had to turned my sights to Bill since he AT LEAST spent time with me in High School whereas you completely ignored me. (I admit though that Bill damaged me more than you since he kept my hope up longer by spending time with me).
If you had been to the reunion and had taken the time to come and SEE MEYOU would not be wallowing in self-pity, hurt feelings and otherwise unbecoming behavior for a grown MAN, which you were not when I had my crush on you.
And so, my dearest Rick,
Please be comforted to know YOU will always be in my heart
as the FIRST to ignore me.
*True Story, in addition to the above TRUE story:
When I was in grade school (with Ricky Clark) I had Rudyard Kipling’s poem IF in a frame hanging in my bedroom. Haven’t a clue how I got it but NOW (thanks to Rick)I realize it was to portend things to come:
Here’s the last stanza which use to read over and over trying to understand how it applied to me. (true)
“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,(yup, all the way until senior year in college) Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,(yup, still common) If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,(Rick Clarke and Bill Nelson – probably Kay and Charlotte too) If all men count with you, but none too much: (NOW that’s the truth, I never got TOO much from Bill or Rick) If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, (been running toward forgiveness for 60 YEARS) Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”(Maybe that’s why I’m so confused . . .)
Full Disclosure & Disclaimer AGAIN . . .:
I did have a framed poem IF, by Kipling on my bedroom wall and pondered it.
Names have STILL NOT been changed as NO one, any longer, is innocent.
Small details may not be 100% accurate as research indicates that time can affect memory and the reunion was (can’t remember how many) days ago.
And FINALLY Still! No apologies to anyone I might have offended.
**P.S. Rick, I can NOT find one picture of you to post to PROVE I had great taste, even at such a young age, and you were indeed CUTE and TALL. IF you are still cute and tall please send me a picture.
I admitted I had been secretly jealous of Kay Wester and Charlotte Mills.
Charlotte and Kay were beautiful, smart, talented and accomplished. Both were leads in school plays (I always had a character bit part). AND they were coordinated and agile to boot! – Kay was a cheerleader, Charlotte on the Pom Pom team. (I had 3 left feet – you can still count them – no rhythm and would have died before I wore an outfit in public that showed any part of my body above the knee).
To add insult to my self-inflected injury I really liked them both. Kay was one of my best friends.
Serendipitously, I just read a research article on envy: “By measuring the electrical activity of cheek muscles, the researchers show that people smile more when someone they envy experiences misfortune or discomfort . . . researchers found that people are actually biologically responsive to taking pleasure in the pain of others, a reaction known as “Schadenfreude.”
At the reunion I was hoping that perhaps I could take a bit of pleasure finding out that after 50 years they were no longer beautiful, smart, talented and accomplished. Drats! Denied of Schadenfreude!
They now have ADDED 50 years worth of more beauty, intelligence, talent and accomplishment. Thankfully, they didn’t get out on the dance floor at the reunion, leaving me at least with the fantasy that they are no longer agile, coordinated and have finally lost their rhythm, like me.
* * *
“One hour’s reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship” (Guess I need to start reflecting again – for my next 70 years)Baha’u’llah, Baha’i faith
“It is good to laugh. Laughter is spiritual relaxation.” Baha’i
I received a short questionnaire for publication in the Camelback High School, class of 1963 reunion book.For “memories” I wrote:“Secret crushes (I would never have admitted it then) Bill Nelson . . . “
Bill was (and I assume, still is) charismatic, smart, sang beautifully and had a wonderful sense of humor. I ADORED Bill.
We were both very involved in student government, spent a lot of time concocting skits and pranks for school assemblies, planning school activities . . . like dances. He rarely, maybe never, asked me to dance at the dances (almost no boy did but that’s another post) so the closest I came to physical contact was when he threw me over his shoulder in a comedy skit for a school assembly – physical pain, emotional nirvana.
Looking back, I was popular in high school. Just not “popular” in the way girls wanted to be . . . Bill treated me like a good FRIEND – damn! – and having NO clue how to flirt or give ANY cues I was “available” I treated him the same – damn!
Thus lies the back story for what I now share about my 50th high school reunion. OH What a Night!
Here are highlights:
Our eyes lock across the crowded room. 1,000 of the 500 students in my Camelback High graduating class, recede to the perimeters. (Perhaps my glaucoma is worse than I was told). My heart beats faster and faster (my pacemaker kicks in)and as the air is sucked out of the room, my stomach sucks in (I didn’t have to wear a “support garment” after all).
THERE HE IS, Bill Nelson, my high school secret crush! The boy I worshipped secretly from afar for 4 years. If only I had been “man enough” to tell him in high school, if only he had been a “man” . . . we run toward each other in slow motion (my joint pain vanishes – maybe it’s the slow motion?) “Bill, Bill, Bill,” I murmur as we hug . . . passionately. “Why didn’t you ever ask me out? Why didn’t you love me back?” But in this moment in time there is no need for words, touch tells me we are destined to be together.
“Judy, this is my wife, . . ..” My heart stops, my pacemaker paces (miracle of modern medicine) my stomach drops to the floor (it’s a good thing, after all, I’m wearing a “support garment”). I squint (it’s hard to see in the dimly lit room without my glasses). Mrs-Bill-Nelson smiles broadly and reaches out. I’m not sure if she said something gracious or not since the audible sound of catching my breath reverberates throughout my skull. “Pleased to meet you”, I mumble.
Miraculously from the podium, I hear my name: “When Judy talked in class I listened. She was so smart, so astute, so genuine, so wise, so kind, so loving, so compassionate . . . (I think he forgot beautiful BUT, no matter, his memory probably isn’t what it used to be). He goes on and on for what seems like a lifetime.
Mike Bewley, the M.C. of the night, successful lawyer . . . my thoughts racing now as fast as my pace maker can pace: He MUST be successful because he collects modern art (I LOVE modern art); FREE legal counsel (my client’s records have just been subpoenaed); He’s filled out rather nicely; handsome; debonair; I LOVE his self-deprecating humor combined with an air of confident authority.
I can’t feel the groundas I walk in slow motion towards Mike, away from what’s-her-name-Mrs-Bill-Nelson. A hush stills the air. All eyes are on me, watching with bated breath. My heart pounding, pounding in my chest (Good that I remembered to pack my cardiologists phone number with my blood pressure monitor) My heart beats faster and faster (my pacemaker kicks in again) as the air is sucked out of the room and my stomach returns from the
We share the podium and the microphone, Mike Bewley and I, as if we are one. Looking into each other’s eyes he flashes a PERFECT smile silently acknowledging the forever bond we share – both of us wearing braces all 4 years of high school. He continues, on and on and on . . . passionately, unabashedly declaring his worship of me OUTLOUD to all in the room. Our classmates smile knowingly.
“Judy, you have won a prize”!Mike announces, his voice booming. “Just go to the gift table behind me and pick any package you want”. I choose the smallest package. It will fit in my luggage. (A magnifying glass . . . I can use another one.)
As my 50th reunion is coming to an end I turn to leave. A tall, imposing, yet gentle, man blocks my way. “Judy, it’s Terry. Stop! Don’t go! I have to see you before you leave.” I look up into his eyes . . . soft, kind. Who is this man? My misty eyes blindly searching for his name tag . . . Terry? Terry? Terry? I can feel my brain searching, searching its data banks. Terry, Terry, Terry . . . my head still swimming with the pain of unrequited love.
Of course! TERRY Gardner, retired dentist: Smart, successful, (enough money to be retired); the man who took time to write ME a PERSONAL invitation – It was obvious he had painstakingly searched through all the year books to find MY pictures; to write a PERSONAL invitation desperately hoping I would attend the reunion. With laser focus my mind retrieves the picture of Terry on the invitation – Terry, flashing a big grin sitting on a motorcycle – a combination of power, strength, adventure (I don’t think he was wearing any gang insignia).
John Wayne Airport is only 15 – 20 – 30 or 60 minutes (depending on traffic) from my home. I pay more for a ticket from JWA than if I flew out of Los Angeles International. It’s worth every penny because I get more for my money. I want to share my ride with you. Buckle up!
“Steep takeoffs land JWA on ‘scariest airports’ list”
“John Wayne Airport is known for one of America’s most stomach-churning takeoffs,an abrupt, steep ascent which canmake passengers feel like they are blasting into space.”
“The take-offs fly over one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, Newport Beach. Its mayor, Keith Curry, has stated that Newport was determined to reduce noise pollution. “We’ll do anything we can to reduce the impact.” (My guess is he has never flown out of JWA. He probably is chauffeured to Los Angeles International where he flies in a private jet)
Interviews and safety reports filed by pilots offer a glimpse into what sets John Wayne takeoffs apart.
“It starts on the runway, which is short compared to those at other Southern California airports. You hear the engines revving up before you start moving; that’s the pilot doing the airline equivalent of pushing the gas before easing off the brakes, to get a quicker start”.
“You feel the nose lifting up, and up, and up.Air carriers leave John Wayne at an angle of between 20 and 25 degrees, according to several accounts. That’s about twice as steep as the departure from other airports,often around 10 to 15 degrees”.
“The sharp departure gets air carriers higher, faster, over the homes below – and the airport noise sensors”. (the Newport Mayor smiles)
“Shortly after takeoff, you might feel asudden sinking sensation.The pilot has justcut engine power byup to 15 percent, from the full blast of takeoff to the steady drive of the climb. The plane is still rising, just not as steeply as before – creating what retired commercial pilot Jim Dunlap called that momentary“light-in-the-seat” feeling”.
. . . . Your plane leaving John Wayne is still climbing at 15 degrees”.
“It will keep that up until it gets over the ocean(this is where the attendant TELLS you, that in the event of crashing into the beautiful blue waters of the Pacific, you need to dislodge the seat cushion and use it as a floatation device. I’ve never seen that DEMONSTRATED from an actual seat where you have to stand on the cushion to get in or out.) and away from the noise sensors, or until it’s high enough not to set off a violation with them”.
“From there, the departure procedure, that the websiteairfarewatchdog.comcompared to a missile launch, should feel like any other flight(with the exception of grown men crying and women praying)
“David T. Hsu, Ph.D., the lead author of the new paper, says the new research on social rejection grew out of recent studies by others, which suggests that the brain pathways that are activated during physical pain and social pain are similar.”
To read the entire research article click on the title
My back is really hurting, could use a bit of brain opioids . . . mmmm, I wonder if it works with blogs? . . . you fools! . . . nope, guess I need to insult you in person to get my opioid hit . . .
As you already know my human-being has fibromyalgia & heart arrhythmias. (It would be impossible for you not to know because she reminds everyone all the time). However, you may not know that:
she has founda CURE!!!
THE BEST medication she regularly takes is a dose of Freddie. I’m always available, no prescription needed and I give her as many refills as she wants, whenever she wants (I’m pretty sure she’s addicted).
I may be more expensive than her other meds. She rudely pointed this out today by waving the $162.72 Vet bill – I have a small ear infection – at me. I promptly gave her another dose of Freddie.
Since I’m in charge of refills it can be exhausting keeping up with her need for a fix. (Treats, walks and sleep have to be regularly injected into my “capsule”).
NFA Facebookhas a humongous amount of information – lots’a questions & answers, research news, short videos on things that I provide relief from. (I’m not suppose to end a sentence with a proposition but I love propositions – like proposing to go for a rest right now). Time for my refill.
Haiku-Heights prompt is “Change” AND got this comment from my post The Magic of Imagery. Talk about synchronicity!
“Really in Oregon? bring anti-depressants. the address is in califiornia so once again i don’t know if you are KIDDING ME. if it was in california I’d be tempted to go. Oregon, no way, anytime of the year. let me know. was in oregon for a week in their “sunny” period. it rained the entire time, most depressing vacation, ever.” PK JR.
Dear PK JR.
Yup, Oregon. Nice change from all this unremitting sunshine and all the horror that goes with it:
Always slathering my bodywith ooey gooey sunscreen
Watching hundreds of women at the beach wearing bikinis with bodies like Jennifer Anniston. (excruciating)
Yearning to feel the way Gene Kelly didwhen he danced around light poles in <em>Singing in the Rain</em>.
Getting my coif totally messed up from riding in convertibles
The energy it takes to wash off sand and grit after a day at the beach (No one understands the true grit one has to have to live here)
The monotony of one day after the other, after the other, after the other with the same weather.
The hours it takes dead-headingflowers that bloom all year long.
The expense of wateringlawns that never go dormant.
And the very worst – not being a “morning” person and always waking up to sunshine. Now THAT’S agony.
“Why, there’s a change in the weather, there’s a change in the sea,
So from now on there’ll be a change in me,
Why, my walk will be be different, and my talk, and my name, Nothing about me gonna be the same; I’m gonna change my way of living, and that ain’t no shock, Why, I’m thinking of changin’ the way I gotta set my clock, Because nobody wants you when you’re old and gray. There’s gonna be some changes made today, There’ll be some changes made.”
This post is dedicated to Laurie Fessler who never ceases to inspire me.
I’ve been waiting to lose 20 pounds to have my picture taken with my grey locks. I let my hair grow out well over one year ago . . . Finally figured out that I will no longer be grey but totally white before I lose the 20 pounds.
SO! .. . had my hair cut today, slathered on make-up, put a towel over the door and stood in front of the bathroom (TMI) mirror so I could see where I was aiming the camera and took about 847 pictures, none of which looked like I’m SUPPOSED to look.
My self-image is much younger,which is good. My real image is much older, which is . . . real.
This is the best picture of the bunch.I’m putting it up on all my profiles until I lose 20 pounds.
Then I’ll exchange it with a picture of how I’m supposed to look.
You or someone you know probably fits the profile of being “Highly Sensitive”. After reading an interview of Douglas Eby I’m relieved to know I’m just “highly sensitive” and not wacked out.
Read on for some excerpts from an interview by Therese J. Borchard, associate editor of PsychCentral with Douglas Eby, M.A./Psychology, writer and researcher on the psychology of creative
expression, high ability and personal growth. HighlySensitive.org and http://talentdevelop.com.
“One of the prominent “virtues” of high sensitivity is the richness of sensory detail that life provides. The subtle shades of texture in clothing, and foods when cooking, the sounds of music or even traffic or people talking, fragrances and colors of nature. All of these may be more intense for highly sensitive people.”
” . . . response to color makes visual experience rich and exciting, and can help visual artists and designers be even more excellent.”
2. Nuances in meaning
“The trait of high sensitivity also includes a strong tendency to be aware of nuances in meaning, and to be more cautious about taking action, and to more carefully consider options and possible outcomes.”
3. Emotional awareness
“We also tend to be more aware of our inner emotional states, which can make for richer and more profound creative work as writers, musicians, actors or other artists.”
“A greater response to pain, discomfort, and physical experience can mean sensitive people have the potential, at least, to take better care of their health.”
“Psychologist Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, estimates about twenty percent of people are highly sensitive, and seventy percent of those are introverted, which is a trait that can also encourage creativity.”
5. Greater empathy
“High sensitivity to other people’s emotions can be a powerful asset for teachers, managers, therapists and others.”
Five curses of the decreased latently inhibited
1. Easily overwhelmed, overstimulated
“The biggest challenge in high sensitivity is probably being vulnerable to sensory or emotional overwhelm. Taking in and processing so much information from both inner and outer worlds can be “too much” at times and result in more pain, fatigue, stress, anxiety and other reactions.”
“An intriguing neuroscience research study I came across that may explain some of this said people with nervous systems having decreased latent inhibition are more open to incoming stimuli.Which can be a good thing, or not so good.” (I prefer to be latently inhibited rather than overly sensitive)
“Actor Amy Brenneman once commented, “I’m too sensitive to watch most of the reality shows. It’s so painful for me.” (Won’t watch anything that even hints at famine, pestilence, flood or fire.)
2. Affected by emotions of others
“Another aspect of sensitivity can be reacting to the emotions — and perhaps thoughts — of others. Being in the vicinity of angry people, for example, can be more distressing.” (I run screaming into the night if I overhear angry arguments even on T.V.)
3. Need lots of space and time to ourselves
“We may need to “retreat” and emotionally “refresh” ourselves at times . . . ”
4. Unhealthy perfectionism
There can also be qualities of thinking or analyzing that lead to unhealthy perfectionism, or stressful responses to objects, people or situations that are “too much” or “wrong” for our sensitivities.
5. Living out of sync with our culture
Living in a culture that devalues sensitivity and introversion as much as the U.S. means there are many pressures to be “normal” — meaning extroverted, sociable and outgoing.
Dr. Ted Zeff, author of The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide, points out that other cultures, such as Thailand, have different attitudes, with a strong appreciation of sensitive or introverted people. (Now I know why I love Thai food)
” . . . “too emotional” or “too sensitive” are usually criticisms based on majority behavior and standards.”
The conclusion of the interview: “Overall, I think being highly sensitive is a trait we can embrace and use to be more creative and aware. But it demands taking care to live strategically, even outside popular values, to avoid overwhelm so we can better nurture our abilities and creative talents.”
I have potty mouth. Turns out that everything I’ve been saying to myself about eating healthier, exercising more, keeping in contact with my friends has been a waste of time. Might as well just flush all those good intentions down the proverbial toilet. (I know, I know, a loose connection between “potty mouth” and “intention” – but I do not want to lose my reputation for loose connections . . .)
Based on real research I DON’T have to:
Rely on my willpower
It seems what we say . . . . . . oh, here’s the article, read it for yourself. I’ve already read it and don’t feel like rephrasing what she already explained very clearly:
“Meet your goals more easily by changing the way you think about your vices.
In four (4!, not just one AND they are all RELATED)related studies published in the August 2012 (current research!)Journal of Consumer Research, researchers examined the effect of different wording when using self-talk to resist temptation.
When participants framed a refusal as “I don’t” (for instance, “I don’t eat sugar”) instead of “I can’t,” they were more successful at resisting the desire to eat unhealthy foods or skip the gym.
Study author Vanessa Patrick, professor of marketing (Marketing research is consumer related which makes the research much more valid than scientific research) at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business, says, “I believe that an effective route to self-regulation is by managing one’s desire for the temptation, instead of relying solely on willpower.” (proof I don’t have to have willpower) She also believes that deprivation is an ineffective route to self-control. (I could have told her that before she spent all that time and money on consumer research) “Saying ‘I can’t’ connotes deprivation, while saying ‘I don’t’ makes us feel empowered and better able to resist temptation.” (I feel empowered already. DON’Tyou?)
FINALLY! the reason I did not become an engineer, CPA or nuclear physicist and had to take graduate level statistic three (count ’em, 3) times – I have an avoidant personality. Here’s proof:
Written by Kelly Fitzgerald“Worry about math can trigger regions of the brain associated with the experience of physical pain and instinctive risk detection, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and published in PLOS ONE.”
“Ian Lyons and his team of researchers discovered that in people who experience high levels of anxiety when anticipating math tasks, encountering math increases activity in regions of the brain connected with the feeling of physical pain. The more elevated a person’s math anxiety, the greater the appearance of neural activity is.”
“The fMRI scans showed the worry of upcoming math events triggered a response in the brain similar to physical pain. (What about WORRY of any kind? Now I’m worried that the researchers have missed the broader picture)* The higher the anxiety about math, the more math anticipation activated the posterior insula,a piece of tissue deep in the brain located above the ear, and is connected to acknowledging threats to the body as well as physical pain.”
“Earlier studies have indicated that other forms of psychological stress, like a traumatic break-up, or social rejection, can also cause feelings of physical pain. However, this particular study analyzes the pain response connected with anticipating an anxiety-inducing event, instead of the pain connected to the stressful event itself.” (How about anticipating an anxiety-inducing event, like ANTICIPATING EXPERIENCING PAIN!)*
“The authors conclude that their findings suggest that it is not the act of performing a mathematical task that prompts this response, but rather the anticipation of math.”(They didn’t need to do all that research. I could have told them when I was in grade school)
“These results give a possible neural platform for the observation that people with high math anxiety are more likely to avoid math-related situations, (balancing my check book) like math classes and math-related careers. Therefore, avoidance comes from experiencing this painful anxiety.”