Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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Dear Lindsay,

I can be a tad obsessive about things. Everyone who knows me needs to stop laughing NOW! Once I get something in my head, I go 150% until I can follow it through to its end. This often goes on for days, weeks and even years!

I know how you feel about labels, that we tend to view ourselves and our experiences through the lens of that label or diagnosis. I understand that and I agree to a point. I was a special education teacher for a long time and I have a bit of a different point of view. Putting a name on something can help to tie together what would otherwise be a random set of behaviors. It can be comforting to know that what you or your child is experiencing is not craziness but something that others can relate to as well. The label gives a reference point, a place to start, a way to understand why something may be happening. It should never be used as an excuse for a behavior.

I bring this up because I had a psychologist suggest once that I may have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I doubt that a formal diagnosis was ever made so I should say that I have behaviors that may be related to ADD. It has never been a problem for me but it does help to understand what has always been a big piece of my personality. I can be a bit obsessive. Just a bit.

Most people think of persons with ADD as not being able to concentrate on one thing for very long but there is another side of it. Once something captures the attention of a person with ADD, it is often difficult to let that thing go. I see this the most in my art but it is present in just about every part of my life . If I dream up a design or have a new idea for something, I feel that I must do immediately it it or I may explode. I can’t stop thinking about it. Often I can’t sleep. It causes actual anxiety until I can finally work through the idea or complete the project. I feel that way about this project right now. I am constantly writing and rewriting these letters in my head until I can’t stand it any more and need to write it out. In the end, it is helping me to put it all down on virtual paper.

Whatever you think about helping with this project it will continue in some form or another until I feel that I have said what I need to say. I dearly hope that, at its conclusion, it will be worthwhile to someone else. Of course, an email or feedback from a certain actress would keep me going in the right direction.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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Dear Lindsay.

Finally a day where I feel back to normal. Not that my normal is anywhere near where I want to be or where I was before. A normal day now is one where I get what I need done but not much more. Kids to school and dogs to park. To the couch for a couple of hours then pick up kids and take them where they need to go. Maybe a nap. Dinner is often an afterthought. Rarely get upstairs to do any of my art. On days that I care, it can be frustrating and boring. Today is not one of those days.

Exercise last night and a good walk at the dog park this morning has helped me immensely. Not getting weepy when I talk about the weekend. Drove all of those raw feelings out of me I guess. Or maybe I’m just too tired to worry any more. I am very sore today but it’s a better kind of sore. My biggest issue is that I have a huge lumpy bruise on the pinky side of my left hand. Tap. Ow. Tap. Ow. Tap. Ow.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

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A Lesson on Fibromyalgia
By J.D. Hosack MS (almost)

“Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a common and complex chronic pain disorder that affects people physically, mentally and socially. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease. Unlike a disease, which is a medical condition with a specific cause or causes and recognizable signs and symptoms, a syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause.

Fibromyalgia, which has also been referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome, fibromyositis and fibrositis, is characterized by chronic widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbances, fatigue and often psychological distress. For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities.”
National Fibromyalgia Association

Fibromyalgia effects millions of Americans, most often diagnosed in women in their 30’s and 40’s but it can effect men and children as well. There are no tests for FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome). It is often difficult to diagnose as patients report random symptoms and often all of the pieces of the puzzle are not present at any one time. Basically, it is a diagnosis of exclusion. Numerous blood tests are done and all come back normal. Often the patient is healthy but still reports pain, fatigue, depression, insomnia and often trouble concentrating or short term memory problems (commonly referred to as fibro fog). Ultimately, FMS is diagnosed as a last resort. The one and only “test” is to touch certain spots throughout the body referred to as “trigger points”. A person will react to 11 of 18 of these spots if they have fibromyalgia. The reaction is extreme for the amount of pressure applied. The feeling is often described at an electric jolt and a pain that lingers for minutes or more.
Treatment for FMS often includes anti depressants, pain medication, sleep medication, and physical therapy. Fibromyalgia is as debilitating socially as it is physically. People with FMS are often considered lazy, complainers and hypochondriacs. It is difficult to explain exactly what is wrong to someone who does not have FMS causing strain in marriages and friendships as well as at work.

I read a writer’s thoughts on FMS on a blog a while back. I wish I could remember where so I can give credit. It gave a pretty accurate description of what fibromyalgia can feel like.. Although the author nailed it, I am going to embellish a tad because I don’t think her language was quite strong enough.
Imagine you are going to have a party in your home. You invite 100 people. You have 10 friends who promise that they will come over the day of the party and do the cooking, cleaning, decorating, etc. The night before the party, you are so anxious that it takes you hours to get to sleep. Even when you do sleep, you wake every 2 or 3 hours with something that you have forgotten to do. In the morning you wake up stiff and sore. Your body aches. You have no energy. Your head hurts. And now you have a kink in your neck. One by one, your friends call to say they won’t be coming to help you. Your guests will be here in an hour and you have nothing done. Your husband is angry and doesn’t understand that you don’t feel well. All you want to do is crawl into a corner and cry. You are going to repeat this whole thing scenario tomorrow. This could go on for days or weeks. You never know when this day will come again. This is going to be your life from now on.

All of this I know from personal experience. I was diagnosed with FMS 2 ½ years ago. I was lucky. My doctor put the puzzle together relatively quickly. But that, my friend, is a story for another letter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

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Welcome to Crazy Town USA

Hi Again,

How am I supposed to do this in the middle of all of this chaos. Trying to get Linden ready for school. Got to be early today because I need to open the store. Jeanne comes down. What are you doing here? Ugh. Bob forgot to wake her up. She’s already an hour late. Got to get her there before the bus leaves for the Junior Rose Parade. Don’t have time to drop her and Linden. She’s got 5 minutes. Why is she in the shower? Trying to tap. Can’t concentrate. Both girls want me. Dogs are jumping on me with wet feet. Gotta make lunches. Don’t have time for this. Crap. Now my neck hurts. Why is Jeanne lecturing Linden about where to get off the bus? Doesn’t she know? No time for the park. Cynthia is going to worry. No cell phone to remind them I’m not there on Wednesdays. Got the girls to school. Hope there’s no traffic on 84. Nothing to drink? I know better than that! Anxiety! Need a parking place in the where I won’t hit anybody. Not too late. Got the store open. Neck is killing me. Nothing for pain. Subway gave me diet Coke? Don’t they know I can’t drink that! Finally I can sit and relax. Why does my hand hurt? Great. Cuts in my palm from digging my nails in. It helps in the moment but its got to stop! Where is my miracle cure?

I'm going to do some tapping while the store is empty then watch some me Bionic Woman online. Please don’t bother me unless you’re here to buy cards!


PS I can’t leave you hanging like that. I did do some tapping on the pain this morning. My neck still stiff and sore if I move but the burning pain has gone away. Left a cold feeling in its place. Weird. I feel totally drained, kind of a drugged feeling. Linden has an audition this afternoon but now I feel like I can handle a return trip to Portland. Will try to get some excercise tonight. Tomorrow will be easier.

Linden and I went through some tapping before her audition. She said it helped and she wasn’t shy at all and even little bit silly. She was pretty excited about how it made her feel. I did some training for the run, push ups and sit ups for my blackbelt test before class tonight. It went better than I thought I would after sitting on my butt all weekend. There may be hope for Sunday after all. Feels so good to be physically exhausted instead of emotionally. Feeling really free right now. Yay for endorphins. My body will probably be telling a different story in the morning.

Take care,


Friday, September 10, 2010

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Dear Lindsay,

Back at home

Hi again. Not really intending to send this letter but I am pretty stuck on this idea of writing to you so I need to put it all down so I can let it go. Maybe it will become something. Maybe I’ll get it out of my system in a couple of days when I calm down. Don’t worry, I’m not going to inundate you with emails. Don’t even know what you might think about the whole project. I’m hoping but not really expecting. Anyway, I’m home now. I’m not a nervous flyer but I was doing some tapping just to deal with, what my Dr. calls, “free floating anxiety”. The lady next to me probably thought I was loon but I’m strangely OK with that. Definitely need to find a way to disguise the process. Its pretty good until the chicken wing thing.

Things were so simple in Ontario. Well, not really because I was struggling with the process but I saw so much hope in the simplicity of EFT. Just do it. Work on it. It will eventually get better. I can do that.

Things aren’t quite that easy at home. I came home to my regular schedule of pick ups and drop offs. Three kids going six different directions. Dogs freaking because they haven’t been to the park in four days. A mail box full of over due bills and overdraft statements. Tap tap tap. I can’t drive and do this. Crap. Picking at my nails and now pinching. The picking is normal. The pinching is extreme. I think I am so much more aware of the anxiety right now. Its not your fault but I still feel pretty raw from the weekend. No way to distract myself with knitting or games on my phone. I feel like I need to lock myself in the bathroom and tap all night. One , two and three times is not going to be enough right now. Nobody here to help. No calming aura I can tap into. I feel very much alone right now. I think I shall be working on that while at the girls’ music lessons tonight.

Don’t worry.


A quick note on self injury:

Self injury such as pinching, head banging, biting and cutting are used by people in moments of emotional distress. It’s a form of self medication like alcohol, drugs, over eating, or anything that causes an intense physical response. The basic idea is that physical pain is easier to deal with than emotional pain. The person will induce pain in order to focus on that sensation instead of the feelings that are troubling them. For me, I use pinching when I feel overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety. I’ve seen head banging and biting frequently when working with children with autism. Many people with autism, especially those who are non verbal, deal with a huge amount of stress, anxiety and confusion in their lives. Without a way to communicate their needs, they internalize to the point where they will either strike out or turn to self abuse to deal with those feelings. Cutting is the same idea but is the extreme. It is most often seen in teenage girls but more boys are starting to cut as well as younger children and adults. When they cut, people often take a knife or razor blade to the inside of their arms or legs and cut to the point of drawing blood. Because it is so extreme, cutting is often a sign of depression and should be addressed by a mental health professional immediately. Without help, kids will continue to cut more frequently until even that no longer works. Many cutters will eventually try to commit suicide.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Letters

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Below are the letters that I have written since attending Lindsay Wagner's Quiet the Mind, Open the Heart workshop in Ontario California.

Somewhere over
Northern California

Hi Lindsay,

I am writing a first draft here and I have no idea if I will ever send it or not. First things first. I want to say thank you for what you do. Your passion and enthusiasm is contagious and your demeanor is so calm and loving that it feels safe to open up to you. I also really appreciated even the few private minutes you were able to give me. I know you understand that the intensity and tangible emotions in the room brought up more emotional stress than I normally operate under. I do know though that those things run close to the surface though and that's part of the story that brought me to you. I actually am amazed that you are able to confront all of that raw emotion and keep yourself so calm. I suppose that's what lunch breaks are for eh?

My dad and his ‘partner’ came to pick me up and I stayed with them for a day. She is a psychologist and uses EFT in her therapy with people who are open to it. Almost immediately after I started trying to explain about the workshop, she said "Oh! She's tapping” It was a good thing because I could ask some of the questions that I wasn't able to ask you and she was very helpful in helping me to process it all.

When I left the workshop, I was completely and emotionally drained. I don't know if you noticed but I didn't do any knitting on Sunday. For me to be able to sit and concentrate for any length of time without fidgeting or having something in my hands is telling in itself. I was a bit overwhelmed and will be doing a great deal of thinking in the coming days.

Sunday night, my dad and I were able to talk about some of our personal issues. I've not had a bad relationship with my dad but we don’t ever really talk much. Mostly we talk at each other. By Monday afternoon, we had fallen back into old patterns, and I found myself in a restaurant bathroom trying to work that out by tapping. I remembered your story about doing the same thing and it made me laugh. Anyway, I thank you for that also because I never would have shared anything personal with him if I hadn't just come from your workshop. On the flip side, he's much more worried about me now. Nobody really knows where I am with all of this crap.

My idea for writing about my journey came from talks with my dad and his girlfriend. I like the idea that these things that I am struggling with and what I am learning to help myself could possibly be of help to others. I will try to continue to write and maybe, someday, I will be able to share my letters.