“As I get older, I just prefer to knit”, Tracy Ullman
In the Canadian Globe and Mail , Thursday, February 18, 2016, L5, featuring an article by Jane Brody, we read about the benefits of knitting as therapy. In fact, large studies have been done with thousands of knitters extolling this activity and other handcrafts. It is said to ease stress, that it helps with anxiety and depression and even chronic pain. Life coaches, occupational therapists and psychologists are introducing their clients to the joys of taking up the needles.
“Nothing vivifies, and nothing kills, like emotions”, Joseph Roux
It’s almost the end of December already and I missed writing a blog in November. Seems I was trying to recover from the many crises (or at least perceived crises) in my life. The physiotherapist (Nick) said my nervous system was “completely exhausted” and to rest. For the past few weeks things have finally quieted down and I am having Feldenkrais movement treatments/activities (I am somewhat certain that Tai Chi would be equally as effective, or any kind of movement) to help revitalize me somewhat. The fatigue is slowly dissipating and with it some of the pain from all the hyperactivity and intense stressful emotions in my life. I am back on my recumbent bike a couple of times a week for about 20 minutes a day now (again!).
As I write this I watch little light snow flakes outside; there’s a fire in the fireplace; I have just spent 20 minutes meditating and I am at peace with my heating pad on my shoulders and hot tea to comfort me. The winter skylight is incredible at dusk. Now that we have had Solstice the days will be getting longer. If only there were more days like this, but of course, crises happen…stuff happens. I can’t stop the world. I am though working on focused practices such as mild exercise and meditation which is what my emotional roller coaster craves and my brain ( that darn amygdala!) has a difficult time understanding. My brain wants to go that well worn path to emotional chaos instead of the new calming pathways I am trying to cultivate. The stresses that many of us experience during the festive season create in us emotions that can make us sick, or conversely could make us well.
“Trauma is so arresting that traumatized people will focus on it compulsively”, Peter Levine
There are so many various kinds of sleep disturbances that it becomes somewhat of a check list to differentiate between them all. Some of us suffer from everyone of them. I began having night terrors when I first started school,age 5, and the nuns told us stories of being responsible for killing Christ because we were born with original sin on our souls. Of course this frightened us and made the entire class cry. We were warned about sin and hell from the first day. I would hyperventilate at night and lose my breath. I was afraid to go to sleep. This was a serious trauma in my childhood. I began sleep walking. It was the time of the polio scare and this was added to the fears. World War ll had not yet ended the year I began school in Montreal and we were afraid our fathers would be sent away and be killed. There was much to be anxious about. My parents were extremely fearful people; my father has recently been diagnosed as a ‘borderline personality disorder’ which added to my lifelong anxiety. And so began my lifetime of night terrors and nightmares. The trauma of my adult life is too lengthy to document here (nor is it necessary) but most of us have experienced traumas of one sort or another, whether major or minor. The women in my book tell stories about their own sleep disturbances based upon their life experiences, so I am not unique in this regard.
” The tenuousness of modern life can make anyone feel overwrought”, Robin Marantz Henig
An article in the NewYork Times Magazine, October 4, 2009 by Robin Marantz Henig, entitled Understanding the Anxious Mind has led me to speculate about the anxious, highly reactive, overly sensitive temperaments of those of us with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndromes. While I am not the first to equate a hyperaroused nervous system with these two conditions, I believe that the new scientific information regarding the brain, remapping and neuroplasticity must also be taken into account if we are ever to reach some kind of understanding of both syndromes.
Writing those words, in fact, even thinking about the title makes me feel uncomfortable! Who wants to be labeled as one whose pain is thought to be “JUST in your head” implying it is not real? But, before we go off into a tailspin about that specific demeaning-sounding word, I should begin by saying what I now believe psychosomatic to mean. It certainly does not suggest that those of us with fibromyalgia are hysterics who malinger just to get attention. But, maybe, just maybe, our pain is caused by emotions that are unconsciously deep seated, trapped in past trauma and ARE in our head (brain). Such emotions as anger, sadness, anxiety, fear, rage and others can be kept in a closed segment of our minds without taking them out to examine and work with consciously. After all, pain perceptions come from our body’s nociceptors, funneled up to the brain. Psychosomatic does not mean the pain is not real, but that pain comes from the brain in the stored memories.
” I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living”, Harvey Milk
The question I ask in the title is one that has intrigued me for several decades. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to this vexing issue. But, I would like to speculate about this for a wee bit as it is an unexplored area of research in the fibromyalgia domain.