Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Triggers that You Don't Think Are Triggers...

...Christmas is proving very problematic in my anxiety-induced world. It is not unusual to find me downtown Toronto holding onto the side of a building, shaking and crying, because the decorations and the music have hit me in a nostalgic place that I cannot crawl out of ...

A popular term in the treatment that I am undergoing and that will be familiar with many of you who have undergone cognitive therapy treatment for either anxiety or depression is "trigger": like your index finger itching on a gun---the seemingly pointless, harmless, ridiculous can explode ...


a message from a co-worker
the sound of Hark!, the Herald Angels Sing wafting from the ornately decorated window frames of Holt's at Bloor and Yonge
the guy flirting with me as I upgraded to a blackberry (the blackberry has been fun)
finding that dial 'm' for murder was TCM's feature this evening ----notably Grace Kelly's red dress....

All of these things trigger a reaction and all at once I am jittery or nostalgic or numb or catatonic and I fade into myself like the world is buzzing into framed blur

Clarity is as fleeting as a sip of tea or the whirr of a new message on my new phone...

....then I retreat.

Christmas is a beautiful, magical, wonderful, amazing time of kaleidoscope wonderment: but it is a trickster, too. It is a veritable bottomless tickle trunk of loss, of preservation, of winking lights that spotlight melancholy.

It does a lot to those prey to instances of emotion and panic.

The crowds were enough before to start my shudders of hand tremor; to glare my eyes and wobble my voice...

Christmas brings them in droves.

I want to visit my book people.  My book friends. A gent on the subway today was reading Martha Grimes and a part of my heart cried to curl back into a well-remembered book.   But, it just starts the tear ducts flowing.   Three times this evening I have made my way to the well-visited shelf wherein perches my collection of Horatio Lyle: but he evades me, too.

I guess one of the hardest things is recognizing that all seemingly familiar is now strange and uneven.

Last week's trip home, usually a time of solace and exploration of my favourite local, small-town haunts in the place I grew up in, had me fleeing to find a new place, to remain completely invincible.

Here, in Toronto, I revel in anonymity while recognizing myself a stranger.

Reinvention was never easy for anything or anyone.

So my Cylon selves are out in the world: sometimes bearing traces of what I was before; sometimes signalling that which is to come; sometimes staring weirdly at an angle in the mirror and studying without profundity.

It's all a profuse trigger, an explosion of colour that renders itself, somehow and most ironically, in splashes of grey---not even the concrete safety of black and white.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Film Review: 'Hugo' dir., Martin Scorsese

The movies that most resonate with me are the ones where I leave having felt an experience akin to watching a magnificent piece of theatre or closing the last page of a magnificent book.
Martin Scorsese's Hugo is a wonderment and it will tug at your heartstrings: especially if, like me, you are extremely sensitive to anything relating to imaginative experience and artistic sensibility.

Around four years ago, I was delighted to purchase and leaf through the film's source material: "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick and was immediately impressed with its innovative story/picture hybrid, its inclusion of photography and its structure as a love letter to films of old.  The film also marries a passion for literary narrative with a golden nod to the formation of film.   But, on a stronger, deeper and more heart-wringing level, it speaks to the heart of creative beguile.  Not unlike Polanski's The Pianist, it explores the loss and re-discovery of the artist in a world new and unknown.

One of the most potent aspects of this remarkable film lay in its multi-faceted enigma: which winds and turns all of our seemingly disconnected characters like the intertwining togs and mechanisms of the clocks of the Parisienne Train Station: the workings and cogs and sprints and springs which make the pulsating maze of our hero, Hugo Cabret's, world.

Indeed, clocks, time and the passing of hundreds of passengers clacking over the well-trod floor of the Station are a major motif and clever canvas.   Here is where most of the action takes place.  Orphaned since the death of his father: a clockmaker/inventor/ machine enthusiast, Hugo usurps the task of winding and charging the clocks at the crowded train station from the trembling hands of his intoxicated uncle.

Several characters including an uptight security guard, a flower girl, a coffee mistress woo'd by a man disdained by her wiener dog and a surly toy and candy salesman paint the kiosks and act as the stars in Hugo's complicated world.    Yet, the heart of the story lies beyond the adventures of Hugo and his new friend Isabelle: even if the mechanized world of nooks and towers would be more than enough to fulfill the children's imaginative whims.

This film is a love story to cinema, to history, to stories and to the working mind of the artist.   The exposition of a consummate artist starved of the mind he cannot turn off is the main triumph and tragedy of this heart-warming tale. Old books, broad libraries, odd automatons and the preservation of film, not to mention instances invaded by the First World War,add complex layers to a film definitely not made just for the entertainment of children.  I began crying mid-way through when the right book found its purpose and made it to the right owner and my 3D glasses remained fogged for the remainder of the film.

In my opinion, this is the type of magic the Academy should recognize.  It is quite clear that director Scorsese ripped out a piece of his heart and threw it up on the screen for all to see.   To mention the mere craft of this story would take a real film-maker. Thus, I speak to its narrative force, its wildly imaginative imagery and the thematic interposition which will render those who feel the blessed (cursed?) ripples of imagination often ringing through their ears and surging through their veins.

I would encourage you to see this film immediately.  I usually avoid 3D films; but this film is carefully constructed to make the most of dimensional marvel.    Children will learn a lot about the history and incarnation of film while learning new vocabulary (the bookwormish Isabelle is adorably precocious when it comes to throwing around the names Sidney Carton and Jean Valjean. Moreover, words like "panache" and "steadfast" creep into the children's vocabulary).

The relatively unknown film-maker George Melies plays a major part in the film and you will enjoy learning about his contribution to the technical developments of film. He is often credited as one of the first cinemagicians.

Snippets of old film are inserted and I was delighted, as one example, to see a famous train scene featuring a squirming Buster Keaton.  This film will act as a wonderful introduction to the black and white films which so long ago ushered in the magic that children now take for granted each time they see a new 3D film or play a new video game.

Also be sure to check out the novel by Brian Selznick: which marries imagery and narrative to beguile young adult readers.

....just when you think you know what this film is about, it will whirr and whistle and steer you in another steam-powered moment of trickery.   Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jude Law, Christopher Lee and Richard Griffiths ( not to mention a beautiful Emily Mortimer) help round out the cast.

This is the best movie I have seen this year.

Paris is not my city (Vienna is, as we all know); but it is painted in glorious light and if you have a hankering for 1930s France you will be in heaven!

For my friends: Jude Law's character and presence made me think of Melrose Plant, Horatio Lyle and Dr. Watson all at once. Not bad.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Theatre Review: Mary Poppins

Tonight I had the privilege of seeing Mary Poppins at the Princess of Wales here in Toronto.

Before I go further, may I just blatantly pronounce that I adore that we are getting Les Miz back in 2012? I have seen it 8 times in Toronto (four of those times WITH Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean), once on Broadway and once in London's West End.   Apparently, this new production has re-imagined staging.  Bring it home to Toronto, people, we LOVE this show.

But, I digress. 

Mary Poppins is produced by Cameron Mackintosh with a new Book by Julian Fellowes. While it maintains many of the standards penned by the Sherman Brothers (composers-in-residence for many of the best-loved Disney films of the 1950s and 1960s ---- they wrote It's a Small World, y'all), there are new numbers added to the show at an unfortunate disconnect. Any musical number not penned by the Brothers Sherman, and added to the re-vamped stage production, though perfunctorily performed by tonight's awe-inspiring cast, seemed jolted and intrusive. 

While this adaptation's story varies from the 1964 Julie Andrews movie and borrows heftily from the P.L. Travers' source material, the jumbling of the musical numbers in different chronology than the film and the insertion of some of the anecdotal instances indigenous to the book make for an odd theatrical experience.  

That being said, this production has some of the greatest moments of staging I have ever seen in my 20+ years as an avid theatre goer.  This production's choreography of "Step in Time" was nothing short of slack-jawed brilliance. At one point, amidst a bevy of chimney sweeps scaling and tapping the staged London rooftops, our Bert escalates aside the stage and upside down: with the careful engineering of the suspensions fans of Wicked are now used to as a mainstay in modern musical theatre.   It was one of many enchanting moments.  The choreography in SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS (sorry, it must be capitalized) was equally remarkable.

The story plays out much as it does in the film: with the motifs of childhood imagination, lessons being learned with a "Spoonful of Sugar" and a hint of charity for man and child and with adults realizing that flying a kite with their family trumps any invasive moments of financial precision at one's obsessive job.   Much like Peter Pan's Mr. Darling, so investor Mr. Banks must slowly learn that his family and his childhood are worth re-possessing and the sense of awe and wonderment found in gingerbread stars is as close a link to his growing son as it is to his own careful upbringing.

As in the film we are so familiar with, the hand-shake of a chimney sweep is good luck, the tattered wares of a woman on the steps of St. Paul's heed all to sacrifice tuppence in motions of charity, and made-up words and colourful antics are the stuff that teach children exactly what they need to move from precocious to darling...

The cast was fabulous having just toured the US from Broadway and I was happy to see some familiar Canadian faces grace the stage.  As one example, Laird Mackintosh played Mr. Banks: anyone who saw The Phantom of the Opera here in T.O. during the 90s as many times as I did ( also with Colm Wilkinson. Torontonians, we are LUCKY that he calls Toronto home!!!!), would recognize him as a popular Raoul.   Rachel Wallace sang with the clear Julie Andrews' crystal soprano befitting the nanny "practically perfect in every way" and it was a delight to see the hints of romantic chemistry flowering between Mary and Nicolas Dromard's adorable Bert. [check out the full touring cast here]. Dromard is from Ottawa!  So glad he's a national treasure!

Bert was a wonderful narrator/jack-of-all-trades much like he is in the film (as we excuse poor Dick Van Dyke's mournful Cockney accent).  This Bert was pitch-perfect and both he and Mary seemed to be having genuine fun with the material they presented in high-pitched, gleeful intensity.  If they needed to kick their knees up to "step in time" with the band of guardian angel chimney sweeps, they did so with jubilant conviction.

Two minor points: the first time I had heard and internalized the meaning of the word "Suffragette" was due to Glynis John's recognizably husky number in the film version.  I wished that Mrs. Banks' character on stage were given the same political convictions to levy her stance as female equal to her workaholic husband. Instead, we are given glimpses into a theatrical history which she trades happily to be full-time nanny to her children when all is happily resolved. Secondly, I thought that the production threw away, as it were, the number Feed the Birds.  Specifically requested at Walt Disney's funeral (being his favourite number) and providing a symbol of charity and good-will, the ethereal chords of this hymn-like number were heard clearly (with strong organ, thank goodness) during its performance; but I wish they had returned to its theme as they did other songs.

[Though Mary Poppins is set in the Edwardian era, I must say that this hardcore Horatio Lyle fan kept thinking of Lyle: partly through Bert's accent, perhaps with the backdrop of St. Paul's.... he is never far from imaginatively away.]

A final moment for the set: like a story book illustration: the set is sketched and blasted with broad strokes of colour and charcoal, not unlike Bert's drawings in the park.  The house on Cherry Tree Lane unfolds quite wonderfully like a doll's house, with Mary Poppins able to snap the gas lamps on and off at her every whim.

There are hints of magic everywhere in this production and the children in the audience, of a generation who probably wouldn't be able to sit through the 1960s movie, were dazzled. As was I.

Monday, November 21, 2011

the hardest part of being me...

my memory.

it's a blessing and a curse

i remember everything in precise detail

smells, colour, sounds

a chord of music will transplant me

a word transpose me

a moment will render completely coloured deja vu

it makes me a perfect patient as i step the slow steps to my doctor's office and slink into his chair

it makes me a perfect patient as he slowly pulls every last inkling of imaginative, kaleidoscope thought from the recesses of my vortex-mind

he excavates and, like an archaeologist, knows just where to scrape the scantily wisped dirt to find the golden treasure beneath

i wish i could turn my brain off without medicinal help

i wish that the memories wouldn't flood altogether in a jumble of colour, scent and smell and sound

i wish that an opening chord wouldn't haunt up a pile of unwanted fragments

that my eyes would keep from watering

that my darkly lit apartment, with its sole-burning candle flame wouldn't strip back to a decade ago

i wish that i could put it all on hold with some slightest trick of mind ---instead of medicinal numbness

instead, thoughts crowd and flash and bend and round and erect themselves until my hand shakes and my cheeks burn....

all at once they scrape across my mind's eye and feel like the streetlamp does when its shadow first mellowly hits the slackened,  spanse of rain-soaked pavement

i don't want illumination

i want to turn it off

instead, in repeat-mode, it finds its way....

'Great Expectations' Photos make THIS gal VERY happy!

Thanks to our friend Gina at Dickensblog, I have been kept in the near loop of all things Great Expectations and I remain super duper excited about the new adaptations in our near midst!

Check out these photos! :

Also, make sure to check out Dickensblog to learn everything you would ever want to know (and that still wouldn't be enough) about Charles Dickens, film adaptations and where all things Dickensian can be found on the web!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

If "Community" saved October on the laugh-front; then "Psych" is winning November hands down

This post has no literary merit:

I have been watching a ton of Psych and it is ridiculous and funny and they don't know what to do with their secondary characters; but that's okay because of the three leads: adorable Shawn Spencer (be ye warned, he takes a few episodes to be able to tolerate and then you will fall madly in love), his adorable best friend, Gus, and his father, strict retired cop, Henry.

Zeee pineapples .....

Props to Carlton Lassiter who is the only believable secondary character  and the only one who actually seems to have some purpose, in all of his tight skepticism through the first two seasons.  I think this show takes a bit to find its stride; but its inaugural season has some incredible moments!

Canadians--- I got the first, second and fourth season for 12.50 each at Future Shop at Yonge/Dundas Square-- so you can find it there---- cheap used copies are available at and you can download it on itunes Canada, too!

A clip?  Mais oui!

Anyways, it makes me literally giggle ( I mean George Takei has a wonderful cameo, there is random singing and dancing and some of the obscure movie references are to die for).

This from the same station that brings us the quirk that is Monk , Burn Notice and, my favourite, White Collar. Quirk, quirk, quirk....

mmmm..... pineapple.....
Also, you will crave pineapple ---- all the time.  You will buy some and eat it. Because pineapples are a silly and gloriously unexpected motif.

Oh ... and even though it is "set" in Santa Barbara, Canadians will recognize B.C. as its REAL location very quickly.....

Friday, November 18, 2011

Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in the Media

As someone diagnosed as OCD with elements of Anxiety and Panic disorder, I find it helpful when I can identify with characters in the media who exemplify some of the same symptoms.

Two shows do very well in exposing these diseases in a sensitive, provocative and well-researched manner: doing well to raise awareness about mental illness in our society.

Currently, the CBC is using actor Matt Watts' personal Social Anxiety Disorders and the tenets and phobias therein as the weekly premises for the show Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays. This show, created by Bob Martin ( Canadian Comedian and writer/star of Broadway's The Drowsy Chaperone) does well in introducing cognitive behavioural therapy when wed with medicinal therapy to help Michael with his anxieties and phobias.

Michael has tendencies of agoraphobia and his weekly "homework" can see him doing everything from attending a crowded movie theatre, to returning to spaces housing painful memories, having candid conversations and even asking a stranger for the time.

What impresses me about this show is not the continuing plot points; yet the exposition of the ongoing (15 years) relationship between a psychiatrist and his patient: proving that anxiety disorders can be treated; but not completely cured.  Having Matt Watts'  express his vulnerability and struggles and having the credits mention that the show utilizes Watts' personal phobias and anxieties makes a great step toward awareness of mental illness in a funny, sombre and often touching way.

I don't recommend the show for the other aspects of each story arch (I find the writing to be oddly-paced); but I do find this aspect of the show extremely well-written.

Matt Watts speaks to his Anxiety Disorder here and to an open panic attack here.

As someone who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ( though diagnosed as having an Obsessive Compulsive Social Disorder and not the severity of compulsion and repetition as physically expressed here), I have always had a soft spot for Adrian Monk: the detective whose OCD makes it difficult for him to perform even the slightest tasks: despite the brilliance of his brain and his impenetrable dedication to solving his wife's murder. (Note: if you watch Monk, which I did religiously during its long run---even going so far as to own my favourite seasons on DVD for revisitation, your heart will be broken. Tony Shalhoub deserved the many awards and accolades he won for his mind-boggling portrayal of Adrian Monk).

Monk does well at presenting OCD in a humorous way; but with a lot of heart.  Monk's phobias are ever present; but he is a character whom the entire police force respects.  His disorder, his disease, never get in the way of his mental capabilities.

Actor Tony Shalhoub has said he suffers from elements of OCD and comprehends its debilitating nature and how it can cause embarrassment and distress for patients suffering from it.  He speaks to the importance of his character and the show's pre-occupation with raising awareness here and here.

I find that both of these television shows do well at presenting mental illness in a real and very exposed way; while still maintaining a lot of heart.  As such, they raise awareness.  You'll notice that both clips feature the patient in cognitive talk therapy: emphasizing the importance of this relationship while exposing the vulnerable and seemingly irrational fears and phobias of the patients.

1 in 10  Canadians suffers from an Anxiety Disorder; yet the stigma behind mental disorders remains prevalent, pervasive and acute.   As a society, we need to openly discuss these diseases as they are---diseases--- while their treatment can sometimes require elements which evade other diseases, i.e., a hybrid of cognitive talk therapy AND medication; rather than just medication and while these diseases are not so much curable as treatable, they are still valid and, more likely than not, you or someone you know suffers from a facet of anxiety, depression or compulsion.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I have an anxiety disorder--- how the heck will i deck those friggin' halls.....

The other day I was in a good mood. It's the point of November where a chill nips the air, the sun sets earlier settling on the lights of Toronto's mellow skyline and Christmas music floats from the retail outlets.

I had hiked up to Yonge and Eglinton to visit the David's Tea shop there and while there, I ducked inside Future Shop for new earbuds.

Upon hearing It Came Upon The Midnight Clear on the speakers in the store, I immediately broke down.  Crying and hyperventilating, I had to take refuge by finding something to grab hold to.

If you read my Advent Tour post from last year, you know that Christmas music is a major part of my life; it speeds through my veins, is much a part of my fibre.... as is all of hymnody and church and sacred music history.

I have never been able to get through Silent Night with a dry eye ( and have had to leave church before because of the overwhelming emotions it elicits); but It Came Upon The Midnight Clear?

In an attempt to dissect my panic attacks and public and private breakdowns after-the-fact, and to have something to report to my psychiatrist in our ongoing discussions and treatment, I will wait until the episode has passed, collect myself ( often ashamedly: in this case having assured two kind shoppers that I was alright--- just emotional over the Holidays--- you can get away with being vague at Christmas: it is such a cornucopia of conflicting nostalgia) and sit for a moment to connect my mental dots.

Christmas music will always hit  me and speak to me as most religious music does--- it is partly because I have an ingrained passion (which I mentioned) and partly because no matter how betrayed or disillusioned I am with the more flawed aspects of the religion I grew up with and practice, it remains a pure intercession which metes out grace, poetry and a sense of history that melds hundreds of years of followers together.... it binds.

But, what I am realizing, and what I attribute to the Disease is its waterfall effect.    I have a bit of a freaky memory which remains a blessing and a curse. I remember, in detail, vivid and resonating smells, sounds, conversations and moments like photographic snapshots on constant slideshow in my brain.

As I try hard to piece together the fragments of myself now jumbled, muted, spread out like shattered shards of pictures unmoving and forcedly symbolic,  I am overwhelmed by memory.

Music has always linked my brain to the past and to specific moments.  I have experienced 30 Christmases (well, lets say 25 or 26 lucidly) and with the strains of a familiar song,  all of the memories, at once, good and bad: those which formed my psyche, those which perturbed or suggested unending loss all crowded with the chords of a song and the pressure, the weight on my shoulders was intrusive.

It's more than a moment where you softly recall the low-tinted and framed moments of happy memories of a childhood past.    In the moment in Future Shop, holding on to a rack of video games, hundreds of pictures crammed my brain while the part of myself who cannot fathom what Christmas will look like now that I have been changed (am changing)  and the part of myself that cannot reconcile public events--- even to the point of having panic just thinking of standing in the doorjamb of a church at my favourite time of year: where snow falls softly and the organic chords of my favourite carols waft from within, it left me bereft and broken.

While I slowly become more lucid, while the days of effort seem to, in ways, pay off in leaps and bounds and honesty drips from my tongue and my keyboard, I begin to recognize the price paid, the veneer that left me in ignorant bliss, the band-aid ripped off which forces me, productively yet cruelly, to confront that that always bathed in glorious light has somehow become exposed.... that holidays once jolly and merry and full of warmth are now being seen with a sense of perturbedly quaked and shaken awe---- What will Christmas look like? What can it look like?  If it is mid-november and I am avoiding retail outlets after my Future Shop outburst, how will I make it through the next month and a half?

Must the entire world be privy to what I am privately experiencing?  No wonder so many sufferers of panic disorder become, as I recoil to admit I suffer from, agoraphobia.

But, I keep forcing myself out, stripping everything bare and trying to turn the scrutiny of the world off...

Because I never could get through Silent Night without crying---- I can bank on my emotions to overflow attuned to melodies that string me in a consciously spiritual, nostalgic, insensitively invasive way....

Sometimes people will see it and wonder..... but I'll breathe deeply, stutter, shake my hand at lightning speed and keep walking.... because Christmas has always been my favourite thing and Christmas music my favourite sector of the Holiday.

So I will be bloody damned if it will tackle and break me in the end.

There will be moments. I  will be vulnerable and exposed---- but I will keep walking through it and I will keep assuming that the Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men vibes that sprinkle my city's streets and force wide-eyed gazers to stop outside the candy-coloured toy trains in the Bay windows at Queen will reconcile my somewhat odd public spectacles with a click of a tongue and perhaps a remembrance of a loss that they experienced.... something that snaps at them during the holidays....

Except mine is not a loss, per se, it is a re-opening, a re-programming, a reformation....

My religion underwent it several times ( In fact, the King James Version of the Bible just celebrated its 400th Anniversary, as a semi-related factoid) and so shall I....

If you want something ethereal, listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing one of the most hallowed and harrowing pieces of music ever composed.... this take very much captures the rare simplicity of one of the most everlasting Christmas Carols

shameless post about something that makes me insanely happy....

When I am blue, I pull out my dvds of White Collar.  Then I am not blue anymore.

Best bromance since House and Wilson, y'all.

Wait? you haven't seen White Collar?  well, you should.....

This post has no literary merit.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

In Which We Speak to the Disease

Hello Bloggosphere,

I have been sporadic here of late; have completely drifted from finishing projects started (namely RIP Challenge, a Study in Sherlock, Great Adaptations) which I have every intention of someday finishing.

My absence however, has been brought on by a certifiable illness: I have a severe anxiety disorder which includes a dash of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, Panic Induced Agoraphobia, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder and a wee bit of depression.

I am getting the help and treatment I need for this VALID illness and am on MEDICAL LEAVE from work (I have been off work since October 1st and will probably return in Feb: thank God for an amazing company which allows me to take disability/medical leave with full pay) ; but a lot of things in my life have changed ---including my presence on this blog.

I have a wonderful doctor and therapeutic appointments and homework which blends medicative therapy with experimental cognitive therapy; but it has also come at some costs.

1.) READING: The drugs make it VERY hard for me to read. In fact,  where I used to read ALL THE TIME, I read at a much slower pace.  This is a temporary thing; but frustrating. So frustrating that I was sick of having something I truly loved "stolen" from me ---so I bought a pile of Archie Comics, reverted  to my 8 year old self and got to task.

With this slow and painful return to having my mental faculties (exhausted from meds and the small seemingly insignificant exercises which work toward allowing me to reintegrate myself back into society), I have been able to still fulfill some blog tour work and, what is proving a rewarding challenge, read through the INSPYs books  I have been assigned as a Romance Judge. It just takes longer than previously and some days cannot happen at all.

2.) COFFEE: my favourite thing in the world other than books has been taken from me.  No Starbucks. Decaf I have been drowning my sorrows in literal gallons of David's Tea ---God Bless their amazing selection

3.) A SOCIAL LIFE:   My illness has become so advanced that I have had to (doctor ordered) miss my sister's phd convocation, a close friend's wedding weekend, birthday parties, housewarmings, Hallowe'en: all because seeing more than one or two people at a time is impossible right now. Church is out. Crowds are out.

4.) HAND TREMOR AND STUTTER: I started having a consistent hand tremor mid-September at work during our busiest and most stressful time of year. I would hide my hand in my pocket (wearing dress pants and skirts with pockets?  I sometimes wore jackets so I wasn't hoisting out the less attractive wear in my closet)  which advanced once I left work and was finally allowed to show my symptoms (meaning my brain was on autopilot: function,function,hide,function as I went through the motions).  My anxiety has also led way to a temporary speech impediment: I stutter. This is not forever; but part of me thinks that the tremor and stutter are my brain's way of saying: we have kept you a Rachel-bot for so long; we need sometime to let our true colours show.  Also, my way of sub-sub-consciously allowing the world to visibly know that I am sick: so that expectations are kept ( as they should be) at a minimum
ABOUT ALL I CAN READ RIGHT NOW: face it, sorta fun!

I know that Anxiety Disorders plague  many people on the bloggosphere in many ways and one of the hardest things for me to come to terms with was allowing myself to recognize that it is an illness "worthy" of medical leave from work; or life.

We do not look at someone with diabetes, say, or cancer and say: you are taking time off of work for treatment, pshaw!   But, there remains a stigma with mental illness that even I, a sufferer of,  bought into.

It's time to stop that.

I am being completely honest about the illness because I know other people suffer from it in varying degrees.

I know I am not the only person with recurring panic attacks, who hyperventilates, who cannot handle the pressure of being in crowds.

Funny thing is, kids, that I  was the most social person people had ever met. I  have literally dozens of friends, was always the social leader, work in a very people-driven facet of the publishing world and can mingle as well as the rest of them.

When I was told that I was a Conditioned Extrovert, I was not surprised. My real self is most comfortable at a pub with a friend or two; or hiding away in my apartment with tea and candles and a book or two.....

My own stigma and my own rallying against my own disease was shameful. I didn't believe I was "worthy" of time off of work, I didn't believe that I had an illness with a severity that dictated all of the medication and treatment.  My amazing doctor had to continually pull textbooks off of his shelf and point to how legitimate my illness is.

In fact, my accepting it as legitimate, makes his work legitimate. My treatment at a large research hospital in Toronto proves that Anxiety Disorders are so prevalent and so wracking and so real that they must be spoken to in an entire department in psychiatry: that research and articles must be given to a world who still cannot quite grasp what they cannot understand.

I thought that Scott Lynch, author of the Lies of Locke Lamora and the other Gentleman Bastards'  sequence titles I adore to death, was strong and wonderful for opening up about his anxiety and how, as an author, it had kept him from attending events, from writing, from feeling like himself.

I thought I would share it here

A doctor once told me that the reason he almost went into psychiatry is because he feels, in ways, it is the worst of all diseases as it keeps the sufferer from feeling like themselves....

My lack of presence on this blog, the time it is taking me to post on novels that publishers have been kind enough to send to me, the fact  that I have not yet tackled LYNN AUSTIN'S NEW BOOK: are all ramifications of a real, live disease.

I will be speaking to this blog hopefully more frequently in the coming weeks: and certainly as we inch closer to the INSPYs which, as mentioned, I am honoured to be judging.

But I also breathe a sigh of relief: because now all of YOU know what's going on and stigma is often hidden in shame and secrecy.

There is nothing to be ashamed of.  I would never walk up to someone with pneumonia and say "did you have a nervous breakdown?"

The same should keep  us from pre-judging those with disorders which start mentally and show physical symptoms.