Thursday, February 28, 2013

Migraine. Fuck.



I'm not going to have a "back to square one" attitude about it. It's significant that I skipped one last month and having one this month doesn't mean I won't skip more.


I just really hoped-- I know I said I wouldn't but I did anyway, god damn it-- that I'd found the magical fix for this and it would all be over now.

There is no magical fix. You'd think I'd have learned that by now. But must EVERYTHING have its own, individual drawn-out process?! Every. Single. Thing?!


</pity party>

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Are We There Yet?

I am very irritated today. My skin is crawling with the need to shut down. It almost feels like a physical pain.

Why, you might ask? Well, I'm not exactly sure, but all signs point to having had a few genuinely lovely and fun social interactions with smart, interesting people over the past few days. 

People I like, people I like to see, people I enjoyed seeing.

It seems like I should be able to do that and then just keep on going about my weekend, right? Isn't that what people do? Go out, do things, see friends, carry on?

Not me, apparently. Not yet, anyway. It doesn't seem to matter that nothing felt overwhelming at the time and it was great to see people and chat and just, you know, be a normal person. 

Today, I am fighting with myself over this weird discomfort. There is no reason for it. There is no excuse for it. It is not something I want. It is serving no purpose other than making me miserable and probably making my family wonder if I was occupied by an alien body-snatcher in the middle of the night.

I am not used to having moods to navigate. I'm not very good at it.

I suppose this is all a sign of emotional movement-- feelings are closer to the surface and I'm actually feeling them rather than ignoring them, etcetera, etcetera.

For once, it would be nice if the dominant feeling in situations like this weren't "I am an asshole."


I don't think I have anything particularly profound to say today. I'm in a mood. I wish it felt like progress to be able to say that, but it doesn't. This is definitely not the mood I would have chosen, if I'd been consulted on such things.

I guess it's still a matter of all stimuli being overwhelming, whether positive or negative. Too much is too much, no matter what flavor. That doesn't really seem fair. Good should stay good, shouldn't it? My lizard brain should be able to interpret that correctly by now-- the rest of me can.

I think also that I've been trying, slowly but surely, to shut down my old escape routes and be more present in my life. I'm trying not to go into hermit mode all the time anymore, but rather to stay engaged and be less extreme in my ability or non-ability to be around other people. I'd prefer that it not be a binary switch anymore: on or off.

Basically, the pendulum swings wide into the realm of social interaction and normal functioning, but now I'm stopping it from swinging equally far in the opposite direction, the way it used to. 

I actually do fine on the social side. I have wonderful people in my life who are brilliant and interesting and funny and fun. It's a pleasure to see them and catch up with them. 

I think I had it in my head that that meant things had improved and the other side of the coin wouldn't be as difficult to weather. (Oh man, that's a badly-mixed metaphor, but I'm just going to leave it there because... whatever. I'm in a mood.)

I forgot that I've always been fine at the social stuff. I've also always had the ability to ignore any backlash that might come from it, or to shut down for a while to avoid feeling... who knows. Too engaged? Too social? Too... normal?

I don't know. I never even really noticed that I did this, until I became aware of when I was trying to escape and started trying to stop myself from doing it.

I did it a lot, as it turns out.

All this work has begun to allow me to feel some feelings, and until I can stop identifying all feelings as threats, it's just going to suck to feel them. Not. Cool.

I have no idea if this is making any sense. I'm not sure I'm capturing exactly what this is. All I know is that I'm unusually irritated with myself and feeling like a novice at mood swings. I do not like it one bit. I want to go hang out with my wonderful husband and adorable daughters and have a nice Sunday.

I think I will, just as soon as I get this frown off my face. They deserve smiles.

So there you go. Sunday. Mood. Bleh.

Progress, though. I guess.

Hooraaaaaaay. :/

Saturday, February 16, 2013

This Little Light of Mine

Before I get started, I've got a few updates for you:

1. My meteoric rise to fame  glamorous life as an internet sensation  experience of mild-to-moderate viral action on that post I wrote seems to have come to (another) end. At least for the time being. It's been hanging at 159,000 Facebook recommends over at the Patch for the past week, and has made many rounds on Tumblr, Facebook, and personal blogs around the world. It's been translated into Portuguese, Chinese, Greek, German, and French (that I've seen so far). It's been posted on education sites, therapy sites, parenting sites, and religious sites, and almost always in the good way, not for target practice.

It's been exciting. But I'm okay with the pause. It gives me time to write another post. This time, I'll be a bit more prepared for the head-exploding that seems to happen with alarming frequency when anyone suggests that there might be more alternatives to doing everything for your child than "light him on fire and throw him in front of a train."

When you're writing about parenting, there's no way to escape controversy. But now that I know the nature of the opposition I'm dealing with, next time around I can adapt my arguments to mitigate some of the outrage before it begins.

Or, you know, not.

I've had many reactions to some of the hateful comments I've received (and boy, were some of them hateful! I'd link to them directly but the Patch doesn't work that way. Wade in and take a look if you dare), but none of those reactions were shame or shaken resolve. I'm not afraid to state my position on this. I think I'm doing the right thing. And most people who object do so for reasons that don't affect my opinion: they've misunderstood my point, or they just really believe in the virtues of helicopter parenting (I can't say "benefits," simply because I have been unable to locate any verifiable evidence that there are any. I'd ask some of those objectors to produce some, but I suspect we aren't dealing with evidence-driven belief systems, here).

So trying to avoid a fight is a) not going to work in the internet-commenting world, and b) not going to make my position any clearer to people who seem bound and determined to insult me personally, professionally, and in every other possible way. 

Haters gonna hate, as they say. Might as well explode a few heads, then.

I'll cross-post when I finally get that thing written (ohhh, the pressure!).

2. I'm beginning to look forward and think about taking this blog project to the next level(s), and am consulting a few different resource for guidance. 

I'm telling you this because you may see some changes around here in the coming weeks. Aesthetic changes, content additions, possibly even a new hosting site (although that one may take a while).

As my much-beloved readers and the people who actually experience this blog as it is intended, if you have any suggestions for things you'd like to see happen, please leave them in the comments! Even if it's not something I can do right away, it would be enormously helpful to hear your take on things.

3. Yesterday, I went to the bookstore and bought Writer's Market 2013.  

Seems time. You've helped. Thank you.

The other day, Andrew Sullivan had a thread called "Achievement Anxiety" that I immediately bookmarked as a possible blog post topic, even though I didn't have time to read the actual posts.

With everything that's been going on lately, I've been feeling a bit thrust into the spotlight-- not because of the recognition but because of the pressure to continue to perform. I don't mind the effects (well, not much, anyway, and not so far); it's being responsible for creating the cause that gives me nightmares.

So I saw the string of posts titled "Achievement Anxiety," and thought, yes! That's me! Glad someone else is talking about that!

So imagine my surprise when I sat down today and pulled up that thread, only to find that it wasn't about what I thought it was.

Sullivan's posts are about our tendency as young, twenty-somethings to compare our accomplishments unfavorably to those of our peers, and feel as though we should have done more by now. (The thread came out of a discussion of the brilliant Lena Dunham HBO project, Girls.)

Having already accepted my late-bloomer status, I'm past the stage of worrying so much about such things. We are who we are, and we've done what we've done, and most of the important stuff isn't going to be on your resume or bank balance sheet anyway.

That's some forty-something wisdom right there, Girls. You'll get here eventually. Take your time. There's no rush. 

 No, when I saw "Achievement Anxiety", I thought more of the anxiety one gets from, you know, achieving.

Not everyone gets this, I'm told. Do you?

Well. I know it's not just me. Enough people have it for there to be inspirational posters about it. Where would Marianne Williamson be without her famous quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

This isn't just another instance of my lizard brain being unable to distinguish between positive stimuli and negative ones, a therefore treating them both as threats (although, if I may say, that certainly doesn't fucking help), but rather a much more common phenomenon: the compulsion to hide our lights under our respective baskets.

Talk about mechanisms that were already in place before my accident... this is a big one right here. Difficult to overcome under the best of circumstances, it has always felt insurmountable to me. And suddenly, I'm finding myself in a place of some achievement with a pretty clear path to some more, and I'm facing the fears that raises in me. I'm afraid to move. I'm afraid not to move. I've gotten the ball rolling, and there's no turning back from this.

Maybe I haven't ARRIVED yet-- of course I haven't; I have miles to go before I sleep-- but I've certainly left my front porch, which might be more than I've ever done before in some very important ways. And I've discovered that behind any pathologies that have kept me from stepping out of the shadows and letting my little light shine, there is also 40-ish years' worth of habit reinforcing every glow-discouraging instinct I have.

So, when I saw that thread on Sullivan, I grabbed it, thinking I'd find some smart people having interesting things to say about it and planning to take off from there.

So much for that.

But it's funny, as I sit here writing about it, it's occurring to me that while there probably are some smart people talking about it somewhere, and if I googled around a bit I would probably find them and I could use their conversation as my launch pad instead, I find myself thinking something else:

This still may seem scary, but I don't think I can say it feels insurmountable anymore.

I can't quite believe I just wrote that.

But it's true. As I wrote in this very blog a few weeks ago, I think I'm simply less afraid of fear these days. 

Possibly, I am finally beginning to learn what I've been taking so much flak for, for trying to teach my daughters:

Fear is not the end of the world, and can be overcome or used to my advantage.

Fear is not the end of the world.

Fear can be overcome.

Fear can be used to my advantage.

Fear is not the end of the world!

I'll probably have some achievement anxiety over that little nugget of truth at some point, but truth it is, and truth it will remain.

I am less afraid of fear. I have evidence that I can achieve. Those things together will most certainly lead me to a new and interesting place. A place I would very much like to go.

I've already stepped off the front porch. Why not venture out beyond the garden gate and see what happens next?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Meanwhile, Something DIDN'T Happen...

I told you a while back about Active Release Technique, remember? I started seeing Dr. John Beall at Rise Bodyworks back in November, to my immediate benefit. This is the body work I've been searching for, and my mobility and comfort have improved so much over the past three months, it's been nothing short of life-changing. No exaggeration.

To wit: I can turn over in bed at night without having to wake myself up first. I can lie on my back without having to bend my knees... and I can stand up again after having done it. I can sneeze without crippling myself. I can jog without feeling like my back is going to break in half. I can turn my head more than 45 degrees.

Um, okay, granted, my bar was quite low. But so were my expectations. And boy, have those been exceeded-- from the very first session.

(For reals, you guys: Active Release Technique. Your health insurance might cover it (if it covers chiropractic work it probably does). And if you've ever needed chiropractic work, or deep tissue massage, or physical therapy, or if you've got aches and pains anywhere and aren't sure how to address them, I  can't recommend it strongly enough.)

Once again, here's a resource-finder map that will show you where you can find your nearest practitioner. Non-US citizens, just zoom out-- this baby is international! 

But this post isn't actually about A.R.T. Or not only about that.

A month ago, I also started taking private Pilates sessions from Kiko at Rise Bodyworks, which Dr. Beall  recommended in conjunction with his A.R.T. work. I've never tried Pilates before, but since it was originally designed for soldiers with back injuries, it seemed like the perfect place for me to start.

I need to get into good enough shape that I can start working on... getting into shape.

Yep, it's still a pretty low bar, friends. I've been trapped in a vicious cycle for years: I've had trouble developing a good exercise regimen because my back has been so fragile; my back remains fragile because I haven't had a good exercise regimen. 

Like so many of the internal symptoms of PTSD and depression, the external ones tend to be self-sustaining, too. 

It's no wonder that this shit is overwhelming.

But I digress. 

I've been working with Kiko, who is awesome and hilarious and encouraging, for a few weeks now, and while I feel like a floundering walrus half the time, I've been getting progressively more graceful and accustomed to the Pilates method. And I've already begun to notice a difference.

I feel... stronger. More flexible. Just a bit. More than I expected to feel, this early on. It's hard work but it's allowing me to strengthen my core without injuring my back, and I can already tell that this key is going to unlock a lot of doors. Cool.

So that's what I've been doing.

Guess what I haven't been doing?

Having my regularly-scheduled monthly migraine, that's what.

I should have had it last week. I didn't. I didn't even notice at first, until it dawned on me that it was overdue by a few days, and then it still didn't happen, even though I'd braced myself for it and given every psycho-somatic trigger within me the chance to get things rolling.


Now, let me put this into perspective for you: I have had a migraine every month, like clockwork, for the past 16 years. Every. Month (I wrote a pretty vivid post about them last year).

And that's just the regular ones. I also get them whenever I'm sick. Sinus trouble in particular seems to bring them about. And I get them when I have massages, when I sleep in a strange bed or in an awkward position, when I travel, when I drink wine (and, for a while, when I drank any alcohol whatsoever), when I'm extra stressed, when I'm extra depressed, when I bump my head, and pretty much any other opportunity my body has had to throw in a little extra misery.

I'd say I average two or three per month, each one lasting from one to five days.

So. A lot of migraines in the past 16 years.

I have had a few reprieves during that time. I didn't get them when I was pregnant. And I have been able to make them stop for two or three months at a time by doing very intense and targeted treatments: rolfing (with Audrey!), trigger point massage (with Mario!), and, believe it or not, ozone colonics** (with Shayla!). 

**(um, that ozone colonic link will lead you to information you might prefer not to have. Ever, ever in your life. So click through with caution. You have been warned.)

Ah, Bay Area living! 

So each of those things held off a few migraines, but it was never sustainable. The migraines always came back.

This time, although I am doing serious bodywork, the cause-effect is less direct. I think the A.R.T. is a major factor, of course, but since it didn't stop the migraines immediately, it doesn't feel like the temporary, band-aid effect that the other treatments have turned out to be. 

I think the Pilates is a factor. I think my continued weight loss is a factor. I think my therapy with Dr. Oz and the writing I'm doing in this blog are factors.

I think my last migraine was about five weeks ago. Since then, I have had  a terrible two-week flu, a sinus infection, and a menstrual cycle, all of which should have brought on more episodes. 

They did not.

It's way too soon to be making any claims, and I'm almost afraid to talk about it for fear of jinxing myself, but it seems like I may finally be addressing many triggers at once instead of just one, and that I've finally managed to accumulate the right combination of tools. 

Don't get me wrong: one missed migraine does not a cure make. I've been hopeful before, only to be disappointed when the headaches ultimately returned. I don't want to have the rug pulled out from under me again.

It's a promising start, though. Especially since it's happened in a way that feels natural, rather than forced. I can't point to a single likely cause. That makes me think that I may have made some changes in my lifestyle that are sustainable, and this is one of the benefits. Which has always been what I hoped to do.

A lot is at stake, here. Not having migraines anymore would impact my life so profoundly, I can't even imagine it. It is hard to think of a better outcome of all this work. I'm not sure if there is one. "No more migraines" might be in the top spot.

So. I'm afraid to be too hopeful, but it's awfully hard not to be. Like I said last week, something is happening. Things are coming together. Pieces are falling into place. It seems an impossible dream that this could be one of them.

So, my fingers are crossed. If you get a chance, cross yours for me too, for a minute, will you?

As has been established, I can use all the help I can get.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

All Rivers Flow To The Sea

First a bit of business: 

I want to apologize for the annoying autostart on that video I embedded in last week's post. I've just realized that it's still happening and have found instructions for disabling it, but I need my HTML-expert husband to take a look at the code before I mess with it. So it will be a few more hours before I'm able to make that happen.

Sorry. I hate autostart. Fortunately for us all, I have my very own geek on permanent retainer (an extraordinarily useful thing in this day and age. I highly recommend it. You can't have mine, though-- I'm keeping him. Find your own.). 

So. My geek. He'll fix it. Stay tuned.

Update: FIXED! Thanks, Geek Honey!

I've been thinking a lot this week about last week's post, and how the writing I've been doing lately has seemed divergent but is actually interconnected in very real and interesting ways. I've also been thinking about the fact that the writing itself is a sign of my progress and healing.

It's just so poetic and right that it's all coming together like this. Once again, that feeling of being exactly where I'm supposed to be and heading in the right direction is palpable. 

The fact that the writing part is both the vehicle and the destination for all of this work and healing is almost too synchronous for words. I think that's why it feels like a homecoming more than a departure, even though it is a big departure indeed from the person I've been in recent years. It's the kind of thing that seems like some sort of cosmic plan, if you believe in such things. 

If you don't, like me, you just have to chalk it up to an inner compass that has somehow managed to hold its course, despite all of life's best efforts (as well as your own) to throw it off.

It feels, right now, like it was inevitable that I would end up here; as irresistible as a force of nature. Tides ebb and flow. Apples fall from trees. Rivers find their way to the sea. The pathways of my life were always meant to lead me here, writing my story, weaving the threads together into a whole somehow greater than the sum of its parts.

At least, it feels like that in my best moments. A lot of those happen right here on this screen as I write this blog-- a source of pleasure and connection I never thought I'd achieve. This is where I find sense in the chaos. This is where the fog lifts and I see the road ahead and the ground I've gained and I feel, for real, like I'm doing something.

It had always felt like I was doing something important for myself, writing this blog. But these past few weeks have made me realize that I'm not just imagining it or hoping for it or making it up out of whole cloth-- my words have had an impact on people far beyond my scope.

I've been hearing from people from all over the world; the most amazing, generous, validating things. Regardless of the form it's taken, the message has been clear: You're on the right path. Keep writing.

That was unexpected. It's hard to take that in. I'm trying to take that in. What a gift.

I realize how much of what's happened with the writing so far has been accidental. Or serendipitous, at least. I'm at a point now where some things need to happen that are more deliberate than most of what I've done so far.

I've reached some sort of turning point, I think. Is this the crest of the hill? Is my head above water? Am I emerging from the dark valley I found myself in a year or more ago, when I felt like I'd finally been given a flashlight for the journey, only to discover that I'd been sitting in a closet for years?

As usual, I continue to see it before I feel it. I'm not yet operating on that level of engagement with my environment. But that matters less as I notice more about what's happening around me, felt or not. 

And something is happening. Something is definitely happening here.

So I'm paying attention. It still feels more like it comes from without than within, like it's happening to someone else instead of me, like it's being held at arm's length. But every once in a while, I get a little zing of recognition: I did that. I wrote that. I made that happen.

It's not perfect, but it's better than it was. Like I said, I'm trying hard to take it in. In the meantime, I'll just keep walking. I'll just keep writing. I'll just keep trusting that if the path is the right one-- and I feel certain that it is-- then the destination is indeed inevitable.

If you just keep moving, you will get there. Step by step by step.