stress 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.


Day 16: Researching and Reflecting on Sherry Turkle’s Work

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

I’ve been in touch with Sherry Turkle, initially to request an interview.

The pre-eminent scholar on technology and us…

Right now, she’s buried under a pile of dissertations, grading or marking, as we say here in this country, and how well I understand the pressure of that task.

It is backbreaking work. She declined my request most graciously, but surprisingly expressed an interest in this blog.

Sherry Turkle is the pre-eminent scholar on technology and its impact on our lives. How it is defining our lives and our identities ~ who we are.

Right now I’m reading everything I can get my hands on by her and about her, as I am unable to interview her.

About Sherry Turkle…

“She is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self.  Professor Turkle received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist.

“She has been studying our changing relationships with digital culture for over three decades, charting how mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics are changing our work, families, and identity. Profiles of Professor Turkle have appeared in such publications as The New York TimesScientific American, and Wired Magazine. She is a featured media commentator on the social and psychological effects of technology for CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, the BBC, and NPR, including appearances on such programs as Nightline, Frontline, and 20/20.”

I need to research my subjects…

I cannot write about anything without research.


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 12: A Footnote About My Dogs and My Sanity…

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

My Dandie Dinmonts are a rare and endangered breed. Only 200, if that, are born world-wide each year.

That’s why I’m so passionate about this breed

Dandies have tiny and fragile litters. Usually only two or three puppies. One of Lucy’s litters was a singleton. The only litter Riley has ever sired was four puppies, but one of them died.

Dandies, with their distinctive white topknots, black button noses and penetrating black eyes, are so beautiful, they’re a natural people magnet. We’re often stopped in the street.

They are sweet-natured, loyal, fun-loving, mischievous and very sensitive little animals. They wag their tails in circles. It’s the most charming thing to watch. Often, Riley’s goes so fast I can barely see it. He’s won tail wagging contests.


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?


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.


Is Neurotic The New Normal?

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Maybe there’s hope for me…

In today’s New York Times, the lead article in the Sunday Review is titled Where Have All the Neurotics Gone? by health reporter Benedict Carey.

Where are neurotics today?

It seems they’ve become a thing of the past. An old, dying breed. According to Carey,

“For a generation of postwar middle-class Americans, being neurotic meant something more than being merely anxious, and something other than exhibiting the hysteria or other disabling moods problems for which Freud used the term. It meant being interesting (if sometimes exasperating) at a time when psychoanalysis reigned in intellectual circles and Woody Allen reigned in movie houses.

“That it means little now, to most Americans, is evidence of how strongly language drives the perception of mental struggle, both its sources and its remedies. In recent years psychiatrists have developed a more specialized medical vocabulary to describe anxiety, the core component of neurosis, and as a result the public has gained a greater appreciation of its many dimensions.

“But in the process we’ve lost entirely the romance of neurosis, as well as it’s physical embodiment – a restless, grumbling, needy presence that once functioned in the collective mind as an early warning system, an inner voice that hedged against excessive optimism.”


The Zen of Knitting…

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

In January, whilst in the thick of my Eating Disorders Outpatient Program, I began knitting.

A scarf. I knit it on circular needles in three colours from a design in Alison Hansel’s Charmed Knits, Projects for Fans of  Harry Potter.

I didn’t follow the pattern very closely. Pattern-following isn’t really my style.

I knit a work of wearable art…

I refined the design. Used three colours instead of two and let my mood dictate when I would change those colours.

Thus, my scarf, which I now wear all the time ~ or as long as it’s still chilly here ~ is a bright piece of wearable art, with no pattern.


 

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