Sunday, 11 May 2014

Disclaimers, Misdemeanors and Caveats.

It's 6 in the morning. I'm not usually awake this early but I forgot to take my medications last night. It could make for an interesting day. Typically I'm fairly diligent about taking them the same time every day but every once in awhile I forget. The joys of being medicated. Before my injury I rarely took a Tylenol or Advil. Now, well, whatever helps and doesn't harm is my motto. But on to the point of this blog.

I think it is important to explain my perspective and what this blog is and is not. First, I am not a medical doctor. I have no medical training. I studied psychology, not psychiatry. There's a big difference. Psychiatrists study medicine, the same as any other doctor, and then specialize in psychiatry after their medical degree is complete. They prescribe medications and we do not. In psychology, we have Bachelor of Arts or Science in Psychology and Masters and/or Doctorate degrees in Psychology. I am a doctor of psychology. Any medical information I discuss (e.g., medications) will be from that perspective. I studied psychopharmacology (i.e., medications used for mental illnesses) and also medications used for chronic pain; however, I'm not an expert in this field. I can provide the basics but it certainly does not replace medical doctor's advice or knowledge. Finding good doctors to assess, diagnose, and treat your specific condition is imperative. I'll get into the specifics of that later.

With respect to my theoretical orientation, my training has mainly been in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with significant influences from psychodynamic, humanistic, attachment, acceptance and commitment, and mindfulness-based therapies. It is from that perspective that I write. I will do my best to keep the psychological jargon to a minimum or, at least explain what it means. I remember my father, a writer and English teacher, attempting to read my MA thesis. He didn't get too far as apparently it was "full of jargon he didn't understand". I'll make sure that doesn't happen here. I consciously decided not to write this blog as I would an academic paper or professional presentation. I'm going to provide the information as I learned and experienced it. I'll make reference to pivotal books from time to time and perhaps gurus in different areas. I will not, however, be referencing every idea. If you would like some references for any given topic certainly let me know and I will forward them to you. I want this blog to be informal and personal.

In addition, this blog certainly does not replace one-on-one therapy with someone who has training in mental health and chronic pain. Nothing can replace the work that is done face to face between therapist and client. This will be psychoeducational (a big word we use for providing information and knowledge to clients) in nature. Not only is therapy important for working through issues you may be experiencing (e.g., depression, anxiety, childhood trauma), it is also incredibly helpful to learn about chronic pain management in more depth. Not to mention what a relief it is to have someone to talk to, a space that is all your own to work on whatever it is you would like work on (e.g., acceptance, grief, relationship issues). It's quite liberating. I won't be your therapist. But, I will answer any questions I can and try my hardest to use my resources and connections (at least within Canada) to find you a qualified therapist in your area if you choose to pursue therapy.

To bring a more interdisciplinary voice to the blog, I am hoping to have some guest bloggers from time to time who work in the fields of psychology, social work, medicine, massage therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, osteopathy, naturopathy, etc. My treatment has certainly been an interdisciplinary one and I have always cherished working on interdisciplinary teams, as the knowledge and expertise each brings to the table is so important for understanding the entire person. Clients certainly benefit from this type of holistic approach. One of my least favorite things about private practice was the lack of access to other disciplines.

With respect to timelines, I am not going to post using any schedule. I've learned in the process of managing my pain not to make promises I can't keep and to listen closely to what my body is telling me. I'll post when I'm feeling well enough and when the inspiration hits me.

And now, on to misdemeanors. Just kidding. I thought of the title "Disclaimers and Caveats" yesterday and when I was trying to retrieve the title when I woke up this morning all I could I think of was 'misdemeanors'. I'm not sure what that says about me. Sorry if you were hoping for some juice on my past. I have no official legal misdemeanors. Now, instances of bad behaviors I've had my fair share of but that's a whole different blog :)

Now I'm off to watch Friday's episode of Coronation Street. Yes, I watch "the Street" and will probably reference it from time to time. One of my guilty pleasures. My Shih Tzus Sally is actually conditioned to the theme song of the Street. She jumps up in anticipation of turning the TV off when the theme song comes on at the end. I belly laugh each and every time. Come on, that's pretty cute. She is so sweet. I have two black Shih Tzus - Sally and Ollie. You'll be hearing a lot about them along the way. And perhaps you'll see a picture or two.

Stay tuned for my next post on the importance of sleep. Oh, how I love my sleep.


PS. Happy Mothering day to all. I hope you are treating yourself with kindness and having a mindful day!!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

A little about me.

Why blog? As someone who has lived with chronic pain, studied chronic pain, and helped individuals manage chronic pain, I possess a unique perspective on the experience of living with chronic pain. And yes, most times, it is a pain in the arse! Plain and simple. You manage the pain the best you can and make changes in your world to increase your quality of life. You prioritize, pace yourself, and hopefully come to accept where your mind and body have taken you. That is a process. A long one. A challenging one. An ongoing one. But, before I get ahead of myself, I should provide a little background.

I am a 42 year old woman who lives with daily chronic migraines and fibromyalgia. My journey of acquiring these ailments has been a life long one, expedited by a concussion I endured 8 years ago. A smuck to the head. At the time, my biggest concern was the potential need for stitches. Puh. If I'd known then how miniscule that fear was in comparison to what has transpired since that bonk on the noggin...but hindsight and all that. I'll get into more detail about my own journey later.

Professionally speaking, I studied psychology at the undergraduate and graduate level. I acquired a BA in Psychology, and a MA and PhD in Clinical Psychology. It took forever. 16 years to be exact. I'll get into the nitty gritty of that at a later time. Part of my training was in chronic pain management and I practiced helping others manage their pain in both the public and private sectors. Due to the disabling level of pain I experience, I am no longer practicing.

On a happy note, I am married to an incredibly supportive (and I am forever grateful for him as I know not everyone has the same support at home) husband, Andrew. Is it all marital bliss? Heck no. I'm his biggest pain in the arse. We have our moments. My chronic pain has been difficult on him. No doubt about it. But, we are still in love and living in the same house so all is well. We have a sweet 10-year old boy named Patrick. He's the only incentive we need to continue working on the management of my pain and enjoying our lives. I'll get into the specific areas of difficulties we have encountered along the way because of my pain in later posts. Much the same as everyone living with chronic pain, it's a challenge.

My goal in writing this blog is to provide a real, candid account of someone living with chronic pain. I will infuse my lived experiences with my professional knowledge. I've been told all my life by family, teachers, and friends that I'm a straight shooter. I tell it how it is. I sometimes cross that line that most people stay on the other side of but, that's ok too. I'm human. I'm also fairly neurotic. A colleague of mine once told me I was "refreshingly neurotic". I question just how refreshing it is but I digress. I hope the combination of frankness, neuroticism, and education will make for an interesting, informative and entertaining read. If not, well, it's therapeutic for me. That, in and of itself, is meaningful.

So enjoy the read, comment when you like (agree or disagree), and, as we like to say in Newfoundland (oh yeah, I forgot to mention I'm from Newfoundland), "fill your boots".