anxiety Articles

Meet “Twitchy” – A Uniquely Inspiring Speaker With Tourette’s

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

The World's Only Professional Speaker with Tourette's SyndromeSunday night, a LinkedIn request from a chap named Stuart Ellis-Myers popped into my inbox.

“Hi Sandy – I just spoke at the Winnipeg Mental Health conference – May I Please Link In with you?

- Stuart Ellis-Myers”

After connecting, he immediately followed up:

“Thanks Sandy
Winnipeg . . . . icy cold brrrrrrr
the conference focus was on suicide
I live with Tourette’s and the buffet table of disorders that comes along with the diagnosis so know the depression driven suicide experience well
The audience were awesome, everyone from parents, practitioners, government . . even a school district leader I shone the light of recognition for attending.
may I send you a YouTube shot from the conference? I just need your real email
mine is stuart@itwitch.com
cheers and all the best
would love to speak with you sometime soon
Twitchy”

The first thing that jumped out was that Stuart said he “lived with” Tourette’s rather than “suffered from” it. I loved that.

He signed his note “Twitchy.” I loved that, too.


10 Reasons To Celebrate Aging…

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Yesterday was my birthday. I’m not sad. Not manic, either. Just celebrating aging and a joyous day. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. It went on for three days, beginning Saturday. I had my hair cut. Very short. It’s a brush cut. I love carefree hair. Who has time to fuss with hair, so  every eight weeks, I’m buzzed.

2. Then, I met my closest girlfriend and we walked to a tiny perfect new sushi spot for a delicious Bento Box lunch. Very intimate. We had the place to ourselves. This is our annual ritual because our birthdays are three days apart, though I’m one year older. We exchange small gifts ~ I knit her a scarf in her favourite colours ~ and we celebrate our friendship. Without fail.

Getting Buzzed

3. Then I went home, worked for a bit – I never feel right unless I work everyday. We watched a great HBO documentary about Ethel Kennedy, made by Rory Kennedy, her 11th and youngest child born six months after the 1968 assassination of her father, Senator Robert F. Kennedy.


7 Reasons Why Working Heals…

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

I’m not dead. I’m still here. I’m not “away” in a mental hospital. I’m not manic and flying.

You may have thought that and I wouldn’t blame you.

Quite the contrary – I’m thriving on work…

Work is the greatest therapy of all. Here’s why:

  1. Work gives you a sense of purpose and we all need to feel purposeful and useful.
  2. It gives you a reason to get up in the morning, get dressed and get going. (I work at home, but I still get dressed every morning, no matter what. Otherwise I don’t feel professional, and I’m a professional.)
  3. When you work you have to reach out and engage with other people. Connect with the world. That’s exciting and exhilarating.
  4. The more you have to do, the more you get done. (That sounds like it should be an axiom with a name like Murphy’s Law, which it is not. I cannot find it right now. When I do, I’ll get back to you.)
  5. You feel a great sense of accomplishment, confidence, self-esteem, a wondrous natural “high” when you do a good job. You can’t buy that feeling. It’s truly priceless. I love it.
  6. You learn so much from the mistakes you make or the first drafts you have to rewrite. It’s tough work. Writing really makes you bleed sometimes, it’s so hard, but when you get it right, it’s bliss.
  7. There’s nothing better than falling into bed at night utterly exhausted after a hard day or night of work.

Day 15, Part One: Life Happens. It Takes Twice As Long Online…

Monday, June 25th, 2012

UPDATE: It is now 4:52 p.m. on Monday, June 25. It is Day 15 of my Blogathon. I had planned to continue the discussion I began yesterday, when I arrived home, but I just did and I’m exhausted. I took the bus and the subway. Therefore, I hope you’ll accept that this is my post for today. Tomorrow, I’ll finish writing Is “Texting Destroying Our Humanity, Part Two.”

This has not been a good morning because of all kinds of online demands have distracted me and kept me from my main obligations.

Emails. Texts. Research. Arrrrghhhh!

I had a small emergency that had to be dealt with fast. Online. That takes time. It takes twice as long, online, actually. And not because I type slowly. I’m a 150-word-a-minute girl. Started on a manual typewriter. Do you remember those?

Then another instant demand came through. And another.

There’s little spontaneity online ~ you must wait…

People do not always respond quickly. Instantly. Like on the phone. In live engaged conversation. True, emotions sometimes get in the way, but on the other hand, non-verbal cues are very telling. Frankly, they’re as important as the words.

Still, everything takes so much time. I’m not patient and I don’t like waiting.


Day 11: How My Dogs Keep Me Sane, Part Two…

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

The most wondrous thing about my dogs is their innate “cuddle-ability.”

Riley and Lucy love nothing more than to be held and petted. They beg for it. And who can resist a face like Riley’s?

My dogs have “cuddle-ability”…

This is a Dandie Dinmont Terrier trait. They so love to cuddle that at all our Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club of Canada public events we have a special “Cuddling Parlour” where anyone can sit down and “cuddle a Dandie.”

What is so magical about cuddling a dog?

It’s no secret that petting any dog or cat, for that matter, creates a magnificent neuroscientific reaction in the person doing the cuddling and petting. A bonding hormone is produced called Oxytocin, the same hormone nursing mothers produce when they are breast feeding their children.

It’s also called the hormone of love.


Day Nine: Distraction in Cabbagetown…

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Although I do not have any clinically diagnosed anxiety disorder, I live with anxiety all the time. It’s my default mode, part of my emotionally sensitive complexion.

Today is one of those days.

Something’s going to happen…

Not here. Not to me directly. I’m worried about it and I won’t even be here to worry about it.

My anxiety and I will be traveling around downtown on the TTC again in the sweltering heat because that’s the way my life is these days.

Distraction is the best way for me to deal with anxiety…

I knit. I observe. I people-watch. I try to engage people in conversation, but very few people like to chat these days. People hate to pick up phones. I detest email. It’s toneless.

Conversation seems to be a dying art.

Later this evening, which is why I’m weighing in now at 8:30 a.m. with this post, I’ll attend a closing meeting of a charity for which I volunteer. Actually, it’s an evening to honour the dedicated teachers who work at the Cabbagetown Community Arts Centre (CCAC).

Volunteering is and always has been a part of my life. It’s important to feel part of a community even though, in this case, Cabbagetown is not my geographical community. I love being involved in community service.

And I love Cabbagetown


Day Six: Ripping Out My Knitting…

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

I had another blog post planned for you today, but it will have to wait.

This one is about knitting. Ripping out knitting, actually. Thus far, I have encountered relatively few problems with my knitting and crocheting, but today was different.

Today, it was knitting Hell in this house…

Ninety-nine percent of the time, I adore knitting. It’s a reliable self-soothing activity. Delightfully portable. I knit in the car. On the bus. On the subway. Whilst awaiting appointments.

Usually I fall into an easy rhythm as I knit and meditate. It’s mindful. Relaxing. Peaceful. It takes me back to my childhood summers when my mother and her friends would sit by the beach and knit together, keeping watchful eyes on us as we swam.

Knitting in public is a great way to meet people…

Sometimes, on the subway, people ask me what I’m doing. Knitting in public is not exactly commonplace with most people wired to their iPhones or glued to their iPads. It’s fun to elaborate on the Zen of knitting.

However, there was no Zen in my knitting this morning. Just anxiety, frustration, angst and apprehension. Was I ultimately a failure at my beloved knitting?


Being “Attuned” to Myself and My Body, Part 2…

Monday, June 11th, 2012

I regarded my body with disgust…

Now, I’m actually beginning to luxuriate in my physicality. To feel a sense of compassion and empathy for my body especially when I consider how I abused it and detested it all my life. Not fair, considering how well it served me.

This process is not linear. It ebbs and flows.

I still have simply awful moments and days. But I swallow the discomfort and do my best to use the strategies I learned to carry on. (Delay. Food is Medicine. Distraction. Mindfulness. Self-Soothing Activities. My knitting and crocheting are perfect for this. You cannot eat and knit at the same time.)

Walking my dogs morning and night is a magical mindful activity that calms me instantly. We walk for about 45 minutes at a time and it’s the best therapy for me.

Self-Soothing Activities…

Other self-soothing exercises that work wonders for me are knitting and crocheting, caring for my plants (and trying not to murder them with my black thumb), grooming my dogs, looking at art books and seeing good movies.

The Gym Is Off-Limits, Forever…

Though I confess, at times I miss the gym, but going there would be analogous to a recovering alcoholic visiting a bar. Very triggering. For those of us recovering from eating disorders, during the first year following treatment, relapse is a real danger. We’re vulnerable. So my gym membership is gone.


Becoming “Attuned” To Myself, Part 1…

Monday, June 11th, 2012

It’s been a while since we spoke. Please forgive me.

Lots happening here. Most of all, I’ve been coping with breathtaking changes, coming so fast it’s hard for me to keep up.

Settling into my body…

Five months ago I finished the Toronto General Hospital Outpatient Eating Disorder Program. I’m settling into my body.

It’s exciting. I’ve learned to trust the eating plan. It works. But it’s no cakewalk. I still have urges. Mini-subjective binges. I fight the “f-t” monster in my psyche. Saying that word hurts me because it is so bloated out of proportion these days.

Recently reading about idiotic women using feeding tubes to lose weight sickens me. Will this craziness ever end? Why would anyone submit themselves to such indignity and self-abuse?

Enough of that.

Growing to accept my body…

The big news is I’m actually coming to terms with my appearance.

I’m not only tolerating my body, but accepting it. Very occasionally, I even like it. This is a first.

The reason for these cataclysmic changes lies in my work with psychologist Kim Watson, my years of work with my psychiatrist Dr. Bob, and the work I’m doing myself as on healing my relationship with my body, an entity I separated from my consciousness for too many years.


6 Ways To Bounce Back From Unemployment Stress

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Stress can’t begin to describe how it feels to cope with being unemployed.

In today’s economy, with soaring unemployment rates, cut-backs, massive lay-offs and a consumerist culture shouts “buy, buy, buy,” it’s devastating to be jobless.

Furthermore, our cultural values are out of sync – how we value ourselves and our mental and emotional health versus the value of work, money and “stuff.”

(Ironically, volunteer work builds self-esteem more than a huge salary and it’s a great stress-reducing strategy while job-hunting.)

All this hit the headlines last week…

Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen belittled Mitt Romney’s wife Ann and her full-time career as a housewife and stay-at-home- mom.

“Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life,” Rosen said on CNN.”She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing, in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and why do we worry about their future.”

That comment rang alarms with everyone across the political spectrum. Especially women.


 

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