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Why My Anxiety Is Like The Cycle of The Ocean Tide

I worry.
I worry and I worry and I worry. Actually, I have anxiety. It’s not just worry and it’s not just stress.

People have told me, “Yeah well, we all worry.”
It’s not the same thing. Anxiety (also referred to as generalized anxiety disorder) tricks your brain into worrying about something you probably don’t need to worry about—over and over again.

I know that worrying about certain things is illogical, but anxiety makes my brain go around and around in circles. Anxiety is persistent, and no, it’s not just stress or being nervous.

My anxiety has been referred to as “silly worries” and I have been called “a ball of anxiety”. I think sometimes having anxiety means that your brain is discontented not worrying about anything. As a result, my brain tries to find something to worry about. The way I see it, if I don’t worry, then I’m not preparing myself for possible danger.

As you can probably imagine, trying to go to sleep is difficult sometimes. My brain just won’t shut off. Something I’ve found that helps is a CD of the ocean waves crashing against the sand. The sound is so soothing to me. The ocean waves just splash and then draw back because it is what’s supposed to happen. Though the ocean waves are loud at the beach, in the comfort of my own bed, I can practically feel the cool, ocean-washed sand squishing beneath my toes.

One night while I was trying—and failing—to drift off into sleep, a metaphor that perfectly describes my anxiety came to me.
My anxiety is like the ocean waves crashing against the shore.

As confusing as that most likely seems, let me explain.
Typically one thinks of the beach as relaxing. I do as well. The breeze and the wind ruffles my hair; the ocean is cold, refreshing, and so beautifully blue; and the sand is soft and fluffy.
The ocean is what intrigues me. It is mysterious and powerful—and it has a function.
As much as I dislike my anxiety, it has a function, too. To some extent, it keeps me safe.

I love to watch the ocean. Whenever I go to the beach, I like to collect seashells and what they represent. Seashells are the abandoned homes of sea creatures. Home is just a place for them. Sea creatures don’t worry about leaving their home behind. They just do it.

On that same note, the ocean has a function to perform, and it does so effortlessly. The ocean (obviously) doesn’t have a brain. There is no anxiety involved. Nothing but the sound of the waves. Everything happens the way it is supposed to. There is no overthinking that complicates the ocean’s purpose.

Thus, my metaphor.

If you watch the ocean long enough, you’ll see the waves draw back. When the ocean waves temporarily recede, shells are left behind on the beach. In my opinion, seashells are really pretty. Because there is a mindless, continuous cycle—in this case, the waves receding and then coming toward the shore—there is a beautiful result (seashells).
The same is true for the cycle of anxiety. For a while, I am anxious and tense. My brain whirls at 100 miles an hour while I pick my fingers and tighten up involuntarily. But when my brain takes a break from being anxious, I am able to relax.

When my anxious cycle stops, I am able to enjoy the moment. The “seashells”—or the beautiful thing at the end of the cycle—is the relaxation. The realization that I am okay. The reminder to myself that I can just breathe and pause for a second.

When I stop worrying, beautiful things can happen. I can do things I never thought possible because my anxiety is no longer holding me back. The times when my anxiety takes a break, I can do things like going to overnight camp. When my head stops pulsing with thoughts that warn me, You’re about to mess up or have a stuttering episode, I can order confidently at a restaurant. When my brain stops chanting, You’re going to get lost, I can maneuver through a crowd. When I stop telling myself, You’re awful at conversation and no one really likes you, I can go to a small party and talk with my friends.

The ocean waves crashing against the beach will never stop. That is the function of the ocean, the way that gravity works. It is a never ceasing process. But when seashells appear on the shore, it is the satisfying, beautiful result of such a process.

My anxiety is a cycle, too. But the times when I can interrupt the cycle—those are the worthwhile moments that give me clarity. Those are the moments that remind me that my brain is not the enemy.

Those moments of peace, of separation from my anxiety—those moments are my seashells in the sand.

#Anxiety #MentalHealth

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Books Featuring Thespians With Health Challenges

A lot of people use performing arts, such as theatre, as an outlet. It turns out that a lot of fictional characters do, too! Here is a list of books featuring thespians with health challenges:

1. “The Chance To Fly” by Ali Stroker
Thirteen-year-old Nat Beacon loves a lot of things: her dog Warbucks, her best friend Chloe, and competing on her wheelchair racing team, the Zoomers, to name a few. But there’s one thing she’s absolutely OBSESSED with: MUSICALS! From Hamilton to Les Mis, there’s not a cast album she hasn’t memorized and belted along to. She’s never actually been in a musical though, or even seen an actor who uses a wheelchair for mobility on stage. Would someone like Nat ever get cast? But when Nat’s family moves from California to New Jersey, Nat stumbles upon auditions for a kids’ production of Wicked, one of her favorite musicals ever! And she gets into the ensemble! The other cast members are super cool and inclusive (well, most of them)—especially Malik, the male lead and cutest boy Nat’s ever seen. But when things go awry a week before opening night, will Nat be able to cast her fears and insecurities aside and “Defy Gravity” in every sense of the song title?

2. “Cut Loose” by Ali Stroker
The showstopping sequel to “The Chance to Fly”, “Cut Loose!” by Tony Award–winner Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz is an uplifting story about embracing your strengths, standing out, and standing up for what you believe in. It’s the beginning of eighth grade, and Nat Beacon is nervous. Not only will she be the New Kid, but the New Kid in a Wheelchair. And the school year starts off No one seems friendly, and she can’t get to the cafeteria without help. But there are a few bright spots. Namely, her best friend, Hudson; her boyfriend (swoon!), Malik; and her very favorite theater. This year, there’s a middle school theater competition, and any production that wins their regional competition will get the chance to perform—on a real Broadway stage! Nat couldn’t be more excited. This is her chance to make it big and prove she belongs at her new school! She wows the director and gets cast in the school Footloose! But rehearsals are super stressful. Dance diva Skye wants more complex choreography, Malik keeps flaking for band practice, and Hudson gives Nat the cold shoulder, leaving Nat confused and alone. Nat starts to wonder whether she can really carry the show to Broadway and whether, without her friends, it’s worth doing theater at all.

3. “Fade To Us” by Julia Day
Fade To Us is a story about found families, the bond of sisterhood, and the agony and awe of first love. Brooke’s summer is going to be EPIC—having fun with her friends and a job that lets her buy a car. Then her new stepfather announces his daughter is moving in. Brooke has always longed for a sibling, so she’s excited about spending more time with her stepsister. But she worries, too. Natalie has Asperger’s—and Brooke’s not sure how to be the big sister that Natalie needs. After Natalie joins a musical theater program, Brooke sacrifices her job to volunteer for the backstage crew. She’s mostly there for Natalie, but Brooke soon discovers how much she enjoys being part of the show. Especially sweet is the chance to work closely with charming and fascinating Micah—the production’s stage manager. If only he wasn’t Natalie’s mentor… When summer comes to an end, will Brooke finally have the family she so desperately wants—and the love she’s only dreamed about?

4. “Short” by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she'll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn't ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive—one of the adults with dwarfism who've joined the production's motley crew of Munchkins—and with her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia's own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn't want to fade into the background and it's a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!

5. “Say It Out Loud” by Allison Varnes
Charlotte Andrews is perfectly fine being quiet—in fact, she prefers it. When she doesn’t speak, people can’t make fun of her stutter. But when she witnesses bullying on the school bus and doesn’t say anything, her silence comes between her and her best friend. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her parents signed her up for musical theater. Charlotte doesn’t want to speak onstage, but at least she doesn’t stutter when she sings. Then, just as she starts to find her voice, the arts program is cut. Charlotte can’t stay silent anymore. So she begins to write. Anonymous encouraging notes to her classmates. Letters to the school board to save the school musical. And an essay about the end of her best friendship—and her hope that she can still save it. Words could save Charlotte Andrews and everything she believes in… if she just believes in herself enough to speak up.

6. “Scars Like Wings” by Erin Stewart
Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn't need a mirror to know what she looks like—she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her. A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be "normal" again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends—no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever. But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn't have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn't afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she's going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.

📚 Happy reading! 🎭

#themightyreaders #performingartistsonthemighty #SpinalCordInjury #Paralysis #AspergersSyndrome #Dwarfism #Stuttering #burnsurvivors

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This I Believe

This I Believe. I wrote this speech for my community college public speaking course in high school.

My name is Grant, and I’m a person who stutters. I consider my stuttering as a gift because it allows me to interact and see the world in a different way than I would have been able to if I were fluent. For, only 1 percent of the population gets the chance to see the world through a stutterer’s eyes. But there’s also a flip side to being a part of the 1 percent who stutter because sometimes I can feel like I’m the only one. Though stuttering has presented me with some unique challenges, it has undoubtedly helped shape the person I have become today, and I believe ultimately helped show me the importance of empathy, vulnerability, and understanding.

The challenges that I face being a person who stutters are unique in themselves and would probably seem benign to the normal fluent speaker. But to me, being a person who stutters, it feels like a life-or-death situation. The red sirens go off in my head to get the word out, and then I start to push. The flight or fight mechanism gets triggered, and I then just want to escape from the situation. At one point in time, just the act of having to raise my hand or speak in class produced anxiety originating from fears of being ridiculed or being made fun of because I stutter.

The toughest thing for me now is having to tell people that I stutter and that I have a speech impediment because having a stutter and being open, talking about it, and letting my voice be heard opens up a window of vulnerability. And sometimes, that vulnerability can get tiring when I have to explain myself to people all the time. But when you stutter, there is not really another option. I can either be open about it and use it as an asset to connect with people. Or I can choose to be silent and suppress my voice. I’ve tried both of these options, and I can say being vulnerable is the best option. Though it does get tiring to have people see ‘’all of me’’ and one of my deepest insecurities that I stutter, I still believe the positives outweigh the negatives. For, being vulnerable allows me to connect with other people on a deeper level because I’m already willing to put myself out there first.

Besides how vulnerability has helped draw me closer to certain people, I believe stuttering has, more importantly, made me a more understanding and empathetic person. Stuttering has a unique ability to shape a person’s character and what they value in life. Given my unique experiences and challenges in life that being a person who stutters has presented me with, it has led me to believe that empathy and understanding are the two greatest characteristics that a person can encompass. For me, there’s nothing truly like a person who honestly tries to understand my struggles and what I’m dealing with. For, that is the type of person that I strive to be someone who is accepting, empathetic, and understanding of all people’s unique vulnerabilities.

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"Social Media is not evil" - a 10 minute essay

“Social media is not evil – it is merely an extension of human nature”

A 10 minute essay

It is all we ever seem to here from all sorts of people in all walks of life, isn’t it – social media is evil, is a force for bad and is to blame for many of the ‘evils’ in our world…

I think that 95% of the negativity people find, believe and/or spread around social media is simply an extension of that inbuilt feature of the human condition that psychologists call ‘projection’ – our natural tendency to allow the negative energy, uncomfortable emotions and unprocessed inner angst – the stresses that are an inevitable part of dealing with life’s problems and pain – to bubble away within us like we are volatile volcanoes, always slowly stuttering towards eruption…

I think our society, western culture and the many pressures and influences we are subjected in our daily lives delude us into believing that the ‘negative’ uncomfortable human emotions; sadness, loss, pain, anxiety, depression, envy etc. are to be ignored, brushed under the carpet or given quick-fix solutions, medicated away or otherwise treated with temporary forms of relief, applied like sticking-plasters. This is where the real evils in our world begin to fester and permeate.

I believe that we need to engage fully with learning to process and deal with our stresses, these ‘negative’ emotions, accepting that they are in reality a natural, essentially healthy an actual fact a truly balancing part of human nature. We need to teach this from the earliest age to our children, and reinforce it continuously throughout every stage of childhood and adolescence. We need to prioritise personal growth as one of, if not the most important things we can ever learn.

Then, and perhaps only then, can we begin to help others learn how to do this difficult but absolutely essential work of self-analysis, thought processing and changing the nature of how we think and feel, and subsequently how we act upon our inner struggles – the very essence of real growth. If we fail to grow – to do the constant work of combatting the built-in resistant to change and ‘entropy’ of our existence – as time moves ever onwards we basically stop evolving – effectively, we fail to truly live.

We call ourselves Human Beings – but how much of our lives are we simply human’s ‘doing’, rather than truly BEING? This has, in my humble but nonetheless considerably long experience of negativity and dealing with pain and problems in life so far, been the biggest lesson I have learned. My only reason now for having a social media presence, be it Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, is to be an example of the change and beacon of the light that I believe is most needed in the world. I will only ever post things which I think serve this purpose.

I believe if humanity as a whole is to collectively grow beyond the selfishness of the prevailing ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality and truly evolve towards thriving, together, to enable our children and subsequent generations to inherit a world that nurtures and enriches life, rather than degrades and destroys it.

CONCLUSION: Social media is not ‘evil’, is is simply a reflection and extension of human nature.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” — John Lennon

R. C. Greenlow [13.09.2019]

Edited: 18.09.2019


What Taking a Hiatus from Advocacy Taught Me About Advocacy

Part 1 of 2 What does being an advocate mean to you? According to the Merrian-Webster Dictionary, an advocate is “a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.” While I believe that to be true the way I live that definition has changed over the past seven months or so.

If I’m being honest, dear reader, how I advocated is a big reason for why I took time off from writing, guest lecturing, appearing on podcasts, and participating in research projects. Over the past five years, I was: regularly guest lecturing at different universities across the states, working on various articles, speaking to local networking groups, presenting at national and international conferences, appearing on any podcast that would have me on, and saying yes to every research project opportunity. I said yes because I believed the best way to advocate was to do the big things. Guest lecture to the next generation of speech language pathologists. Write, present, and podcast for all the world to read and hear. Volunteer for any project that helps us better understand stuttering. I did this because I wanted the next generation to know its ok to stutter. Yet, my constant yes came at a cost. After 5 years, I hit burnout and it impacted my mental health.

Not the burnout that’s featured on Instagram. I’m talking about the burnout that makes you hate and resent the things you once loved. Writing went from something I loved to something I wanted nothing to do with. Open word documents on my laptop gave me even more anxiety than I typically have because I felt the (self-imposed) pressure to create content. I dreaded leading support group meetings. Canceling guest lectures and speaking engagements became very tempting. Emails about research opportunities were instantly deleted. The resentment towards all the things I once loved led to guilt. I felt guilty for not working on a new article. I felt guilty for not participating in a research project. Instead of looking forward

to speaking engagements, I was looking forward to their ending. Between the constant guilt, heightened anxiety, and burnout, I started to wonder if this was all worth it. And honestly, I was tired of wearing the mask of being a public figure. Ironic huh? For so long I had worn a mask of being ok with the fact that I stutter. And now I was wearing a mask of being ok with talking about my stutter.  Through it all I felt like James the person was being lost to James the advocate. I wanted to go back to summer of 2017 where I was just James before I became James the advocate.  As a result of all this, I decided losing myself to advocacy wasn’t worth it and I was going to take an indefinite hiatus. I had no timeline on if or when I would get back into public advocacy. And if I’m being honest, I was ok with never getting back into it.

During my hiatus, I spent time on myself. I got back into my first hobby, reading, and rediscovered my joy for it. I somewhat lived out a dream and played in a fan made Survivor game. I went to networking events as me and not as someone looking for their next speaking engagement. I occasionally wrote because I wanted to and not because I felt that I had to. I learned to say no to speaking engagements. I worked on my mental health. I focused on setting boundaries for myself. Through it all, I spent time on reflecting how I can continue to be an advocate without losing myself to it. My new way of being an advocate can best be summarized by the Mother Theresa quote, “Do small things with great love.”

Allow me to explain. I’m still open to writing, podcasting, and speaking to different universities and organizations. In fact, my hiatus taught me that I actually enjoy those things; however, I didn’t enjoy how often I was doing those things. Now, I’m focusing on being an advocate in small ways. This can be something as simple as wearing a stuttering related t-shirt out in public. Or sharing a stuttering related post on social media. I’ve done these things for years, but always saw them as being an addition to the big stuff instead of being enough. Besides that, I’m focusing more on one-on-one connections within the stuttering community. Whether that is through my support group I’m in or mentoring other PWS. Letting them know that their voice is strong, good, beautiful, and worth being heard. Validating them and being a listening ear for them on their rough days. Or just being someone, they can talk to about whatever. I think sometimes doing many little things well is better than doing one big thing well.

Ultimately, my hiatus taught me that living my life to the fullest is the best way to be an advocate. I don’t need to write so many articles a year, say yes to every speaking engagement, wear only stuttering related clothes, or share every stuttering related post on social media

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What Taking a Hiatus from Advocacy Taught Me About Advocacy

Part 2 of 2 . Those are great, but I can still be an advocate without doing any of that. A friend put it best when she said, “Advocacy is not another check on your to do list, you LIVE it.” So that’s what I’m going to do. Live a life that shows it’s ok to stutter. A life where stuttering is just one small part of my story and not my entire story. A life that is good, beautiful, and enough.

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This Fibromyalgia Thing Sucks

I went to my fibromyalgia specialist today and was told that my left thigh muscle is deteriorating and if that doesn’t stop I’ll end up in a wheelchair.

I had a pretty decent fall on Wednesday of this week and after the ambos got me up I couldn’t walk very well at all. After I got home I didn’t walk very far at all.

I decided to stay home from hospital (let’s face it they only toss you out at 3/4 in the morning and getting home is my problem) plus I wanted to see the specialist at my worst point to give him some idea of wat I’m dealing with.

Because I’m so stressed I’m going to fall my brain fog stuttering is out of control and people don’t understand me. My pain Is starting to also play up. So between all this Going on I’m lying in bed wishing my beautiful mum was here as dad struggles to understand what I’m going through.

I feel so alone right now just wishing mum was still here

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So, had hard day. So much negativity towards me from my mom. I got up and took a walk with my sons girlfriend. I don’t need fucking negativity in my life. I don’t even watch the news because of it. I’m thinking about my childhood I don’t remember ever finding joy or having enthusiasm. I remember stuttering whenever my dad would raise his voice or yell. Later to find out that’s part of #AnxietyAttack . I remember to laying in bed at 5 afraid to go to sleep because I was afraid of dying or afraid my parents were going to die again #Anxiety . My whole life was abuse from 8-12 #SexualAbuse /#Incest . Later on met my X husband #EmotionalAbuse . I’m done venting #MajorDepressiveDisorder #PTSD #GeneralizedAnxietyDisorde



I don’t post on here much anymore. So, hi! But I just wanted to see if maybe anyone has a similar experience.

I’ve been dealing with headaches. Every day. For going on 2 months. I’m trying to get into the Neurologist, but the insurance is taking its time. It kinda started suddenly and harshly.

I’ve been in my bed for a good about of this time simply because of the imbearable amount of pain. I’ve now been on 5 prescriptions, and 4 shots, but nothing seems to be working. They keep saying it’s migraines. Ringing in my left ear. Running into walls. Almost falling. Cant walk straight. Cant hold conversation a lot of the time.

Pain is one thing that I understand I might just need to learn to somehowww deal with, but the rest of it? Lol. I have to come home and cry a lot because either I feel frustrated with myself that I can’t speak to my friends without just… stuttering and giving up… or coming home screaming and crying because I am in so much pain I feel if I’m around people I might hurt someone.. so.

It’s a lot. Plus, because of my headaches I’ve lost my job(s), and fun nights with friends. It’s ruling my life.

#Headaches #Migraine #help



Part 3 of 4 okie of the Year in my first Veterinary Distribution position and went on to be a top performer either first or second in the nation every year for 9 years. Finally, an infectious disease physician in Tampa diagnosed me with #LymeDisease and #Babesiosis in 2009. We got to treating as aggressively as possible WHILE I kept working, never imagining I would not get rid of it. I had no safety net, no husband, no opportunity to stop working to treat and not lose everything. I maxed out any contributions to my 401K and saved and saved, put money into retirement knowing Chronic (not regular Lyme) is progressive. Busting my tail with God’s help and blessing through constant pain and sickness, determined not to lose my livelihood, my independence, my future to the disease all the while infusing with antibiotics, having to go to Germany 2 weeks in a hostile, because 15 years ago treating #LymeDisease was illegal, (Lyme treatments were in their infancy in this country) and in the middle of #Stuttering , falling into things, seeing floaters, God gave me the faith to purchase my home, my sanctuary, smartly during the recession, while at a sales meeting in California. All the while I had to pretend I was OK, enduring burning and stabbing in my head that started in 2005, among so many other neurologic issues.

Having held somewhat of a high profile position because of my dedication and constant activity in the Veterinary Industry, all my body craves and does best with is quiet, peace, no stimulation, and isolation when I need to recover. If I didn’t live through my intense headaches, pains in eyes, face, gums among other symptoms, I wouldn’t live at all but pushing through them every day leaves me exhausted and needing recovery time.

Finally medical leave after medical leave I voluntarily left my company because I decided my faithful (& BEST) customers deserved a healthy person whose body didn’t keep sending them out of the field on medical leaves. Shockingly, I got denied my disability insurance. After being called a liar by the insurance company and that my Germany treatments where I was ACUTELY ill were falsely described as a vacation, I had to hire a lawyer to win disability for the year. I have files and files of proof and medical records from my serious medical conditions, but add the term #LymeDisease , and it is met with scrutiny because the differentiation between #LymeDisease and Chronic #LymeDisease is not recognized by enough of the world yet. I have dealt with a mountain of #neglect by the medical community and injustice by insurance companies. And all the while having to hide my illness. I would collapse in my car, throw up, be unable to walk out of the blue, stutter, and feel shocks of pain in my head, arm cramps, soreness in ribcage, all while speaking with veterinarians or doing presentations. I had to have surgeries to repair tendons and severely injured my back, neck and knees when I would flare and still do. This started in my TWENTIES, not as I aged. It’s not the same. My heart BREAKS for children afflicted with this nightmare. Against the doctors’ advice and reality, I went back to work and worked four more years in equine health, and equine nutrition. The topmost specialist in Washington DC, Dr. Jemsek, found me to be one of his worst patients and during treatments there I actually had my fourth and final interview for the Equine Nutrition position in the hotel before one of my clinical visits and told my doctor that God wouldn’t bring me this far just to see me fail. My ridiculous optimism served me well until it didn’t. It took me YEARS and YEARS to change my expectations due to the inability to get relief despite all the determination, faith, belief, effort, and WANTING so badly to feel anything resembling “healthy.” I am so glad I did go back to work even though it was not sustainable because I found my true talent, and gift in an area I could use all my veterinary and medical knowledge in as well…Equine Nutrition. During a business lunch with co-workers one day, I told them I push on and make the most of every day because of the hope that I could have a good day. They couldn’t conceive of 90% of days living in a torture chamber. It was so beyond their reality, they thought maybe I was kidding and laughed because I never complained. I don’t blame them. Every time I got established and my executive team and employers told me they didn’t care if I only worked two days a week through my illness, what I produced was great and they would keep me hired, the compan