Facebook Live is my New Voice!

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In a couple of hours I will be going live for the first in the series on Telling Your Story on my Facebook Page. I’d love to speak with you there!

If you had asked me a year ago how I felt about being on camera, I would have baulked. Actually, a few months ago I would have said the same thing. I HATE myself on camera and I hate the sound of my own voice. I still do, let me tell you!

But with so many talks and interviews lately and before I knew it I’d said yes to doing a Facebook Live for The Mighty. I’ve no idea what’s come over me but I’m loving it. I still hate looking at myself on camera or hearing my own voice, but even with my brain fog and nerves and all the rest of it, I am finding that the live interaction on Facebook Live is right up my alley. I even tried to do one that wasn’t live (as in a podcast / Youtube video) and I just froze through the whole thing.

I think that talking to a live, interactive audience changes everything for me as I quickly forget the camera and simply talk to people. I share my story and my heart and simply answer questions and the next thing I know I’ve run over time. So thank you all for your support in these. Please feel free to watch past streams and sign on for new ones HERE.

I write memoir, and I speak and write on chronic illness, abuse, EDS and more, but finding my voice has been the overarching theme through everything as I have spent my life so far struggling with being squashed and bullied and silenced. Finding my voice has been one of the most liberating things in my life but it has also been the hardest. It wasn’t overnight, it wasn’t even over months. It was a long and painful journey that I am still walking. This adds such a richness to that story.

Nothing will replace the full books where I can speak about things that are too hard to say out loud, or are too long for a single sitting, but speaking live with people brings my story to life in a whole new way!

Just scroll down on the right here to Categories and click on “Facebook Live” to see other posts on this amazing platform.

To book a talk with me and discuss my schedule you can contact me on JPeaSmith@KingsRoadChronicles.com

Where you can find and follow Jennifer: 

@JPeaSmith

Beating Anxiety!

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Following on from THIS post a few days ago, I am going to be hanging out on Facebook Live a lot over the next few months and “Beating Anxiety” is going to be a regular feature. I get asked a lot about how I conquered my own anxiety, and the details of my anxiety journey, so especially if you have read my book “The Lion and the Peacock”, you will be interested in asking lots more I’m sure!

Once every two weeks, I will also be doing a Facebook Live under the heading of “BEATING ANXIETY!. Topics for discussion and Q&A will include medications, how to choose a therapist, self help books, safe places, safe people, and cropping your world.

Here is the schedule for the next few months ( I will update it regularly with new links and updated information as we go!) :

  • Monday, May 8th – | New York: 2pm | London: 7pm | Johannesburg: 8pm |Sydney 4am |I will be doing a short Facebook Live to remind you all that an hour later I will be speaking on “Anxiety and Chronic Illness” Live from The Mighty Facebook Page at the following times: (so tune in for both if you can!) | New York: 3pm | London: 8pm | Johannesburg: 9pm |Sydney 5am |

 

  • Thursday, May 18th – | New York: 5am | London: 10am | Johannesburg: 11am |Sydney 7pm |

 

  • Monday, May 29th – | New York: 3pm | London: 8pm | Johannesburg: 9pm |Sydney 4am |

 

  • Thursday, June 5th – | New York: 5am | London: 10am | Johannesburg: 11am |Sydney 7pm |

 

  • Monday, June 22th – | New York: 3pm | London: 8pm | Johannesburg: 9pm |Sydney 4am |

 

  • Thursday, July 3th – | New York: 5am | London: 10am | Johannesburg: 11am |Sydney 7pm |

 

  • Monday, July 20th – | New York: 3pm | London: 8pm | Johannesburg: 9pm |Sydney 4am |

 

  • Thursday, July 31st – | New York: 5am | London: 10am | Johannesburg: 11am |Sydney 7pm |

 

  • Monday, August 17th – | New York: 3pm | London: 8pm | Johannesburg: 9pm |Sydney 4am |

 

  • Thursday, August 28th – | New York: 5am | London: 10am | Johannesburg: 11am |Sydney 7pm |

 

So pop those in your diaries or go HERE to watch this short introductory Facebook Live. At the very end, it will give you the opportunity to turn on notifications for my future Facebook Lives. You can also simply “Like” and Follow my Facebook Page and the following places to get updates and changes. Please remember to share any of my Posts across my social media platforms.

@JPeaSmith
 
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Running on Empty!

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Facebook Live. I’m lovin’ it. I started a couple of days ago with the testing which was awkward and weird but I am finding my space there slowly, and really enjoying it. I asked for questions for the next few weeks of “shows” and as I been asked a lot of questions before, through my blog and Facebook stories, as well as my Mighty Stories, I suddenly have quite a long list to keep me going for a while.

I want to do this well, so I spent a few days mulling over the list of questions and today we realised that most of the questions fall under one of four categories which are not surprisingly, quite relevant to anyone, even those without a chronic illness at all. People who could benefit from these Q&A sessions will be those who are struggling (or who know someone struggling) with a difficult season in their lives. This will include those dealing with bad health, grief, loss, or any other life change such as divorce or moving far away.

Once every two weeks, I will be doing a Facebook Live under the heading of “RUNNING ON EMPTY”. Topics for discussion will cover general topics like managing medications, getting help from those around you, negotiating specialists, and understanding your life changes. But May just happens to be EDS Awareness Month so the sessions in May will include (but be limited to) things like “What is EDS?”, “A Day in My Life”, “An EDS First Aid Kit” and so on.

Here is the schedule for the next few months ( I will update it regularly with new links and updated information as we go!) :

  • Monday, May 1st – I will be focusing on EDS because May is EDS Awareness Month and what a better way to start than that!  | New York: 2pm | London: 7pm | Johannesburg: 8pm |Sydney 4am |

 

  • Thursday, May 18th – “A Day in My Life”| New York: 5am | London: 10am | Johannesburg: 11am |Sydney 7pm |

 

  • Monday, May 29th – | New York: 3pm | London: 8pm | Johannesburg: 9pm |Sydney 4am |

 

  • Thursday, June 15th – | New York: 5am | London: 10am | Johannesburg: 11am |Sydney 7pm |

 

  • Monday, June 26th – | New York: 3pm | London: 8pm | Johannesburg: 9pm |Sydney 4am |

 

  • Thursday, July 13th – | New York: 5am | London: 10am | Johannesburg: 11am |Sydney 7pm |

 

  • Monday, July 24th – | New York: 3pm | London: 8pm | Johannesburg: 9pm |Sydney 4am |

 

  • Thursday, August 10th – | New York: 5am | London: 10am | Johannesburg: 11am |Sydney 7pm |

 

  • Monday, August 21st – | New York: 3pm | London: 8pm | Johannesburg: 9pm |Sydney 4am |

 

So pop those in your diaries or go HERE to watch this short introductory Facebook Live. At the very end, it will give you the opportunity to turn on notifications for my future Facebook Lives. You can also simply “Like” and Follow my Facebook Page and the following places to get updates and changes. Please remember to share any of my Posts across my social media platforms.

@JPeaSmith
 
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Why I Stopped in my Tracks to Write a Book about Anxiety

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I write about my life, my abuse, my chronic condition (EDS), and my anxiety, as well as all the beautiful things in my life like children and travel and the up side to spending much of my life in bed. It is a long and extremely complicated story where all these pieces of me intertwine and merge in ways that make them very hard to separate sometimes. But I am working on it. I am writing a series of books which hopefully will inspire and encourage anyone who has found themselves in any of these situations.

But as I was writing the chapter on anxiety I got stuck. And not because I couldn’t find the words or enough examples, or because I had “writer’s block”. It was the complete opposite. I had so much to share, so much to say, that I struggled with the idea of having to squash it into a single chapter. Even a very long chapter. So I stepped outside of the book and decided to write the anxiety journey in a separate document, in a way that it deserved. To take away the constraints of “chapter” or “have to” or even “book”. To just tell my story as is. To let it flow in ways that it needed to.

But it was more than that. While my journey was long, crap, painful, humiliating and exhausting, it was no worse than any other part of the journey. No worse than the medical journey or the abuse journey. But for the most part, in the end, I won. And not because I was “positive” or “strong” or worked harder than anyone else with anxiety, but because I was desperate, at rock bottom, and had the luxury of having studied both psychology and biochemistry at University level, and my gut and my God told me that I could find the answers and change it.
I had the tools and a focus and the determination to fix this because it had become, over time, my most crippling, life-destroying condition.

Well, talk about getting lost down a rabbit hole. Writing about it was an emotional but cathartic experience which I have to say, one I so enjoyed. I had never spent that kind of time or energy unpacking the almost endless layers of my anxiety as a vital part of my medical and abuse life stories.

I want to tell my whole story, and it is a story worth sharing. But not everyone is interested in EDS, or chronic illness, or travelling with a wheelchair, or emotional abuse either as a child or an adult. But I found that when I told my anxiety story, almost every ear pricked. The questions came hard and fast and almost without exception, people asked me how I did it and shared that they either knew someone, or they themselves could benefit from my story.

So I decided that while I want the world to hear my big story, I don’t want anyone to HAVE to buy it or read it to bring healing to their own anxiety journey. I am told that I have something unique to share and that in some small way, it is already making a difference to so many people.

I don’t like trying to sell myself or the things that I create or write. But when it comes to my story, I am so happy to share it. Every day I read about fellow anxiety sufferers who are also struggling, and I realized that if I could spell out how I did it and I take a reader through each and every step, then perhaps I could bring some hope and relief to just a few other people.

And so I put my book on hold and have spent months taking apart my anxiety journey piece by piece and putting it together again in an easy to understand, short (less than an hour read), and practical book all of its own. “The Lion and the Peacock” has become a precious story to me and was a privilege to write. It was released on Amazon Kindle in January, as an eBook and a paperback version, both which include the accompanying workbook.

I would love your feedback and to hear your stories through the review system at the end of the book, or you can email me on JPeaSmith@KingsRoadChronicles.com

My book is available HERE!

IMG_4276To book a talk with me and discuss my schedule you can contact me on JPeaSmith@KingsRoadChronicles.com

Where you can find and follow Jennifer: 

@JPeaSmith
 
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Link Between Anxiety & Chronic Illness!

Stay on me with this one. It’s complicated, and there are so many layers. But if I simplify it too much then you will lose the complexity of the link between chronic illness and anxiety. In fact, it is less of a link and more of an enmeshment. These two like each other a lot and they merge and entwine themselves, often making it impossible to separate them.

img_3883I have a chronic condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). It is a rare but relatively neat package in that it is a genetic, physical condition where a small piece of my DNA is not quite what it should be. But it affects the structure of collagen, and because collagen makes up about 72% of the human body, the expression of those genes and the ways that they affect my life are huge.

Skin, blood vessels, tendons and more, are all made up of collagen, and so those parts of my body are all a little bit more fragile and floppy than most people’s. We need our blood vessels to be strong and to squeeze tight to keep our blood pressure up, which means that I generally have low blood pressure. We need our tendons to keep our joints from overextending and dislocating, which means that not only do I overextend and dislocate my joints throughout my body, but over time that damage becomes too severe to heal and I lose the strength in that joint. And like you, I have lots of joints. One at a time, I am losing mine. And damaged joints are excruciatingly painful … all the time.

But I also have anxiety issues. They are complicated on their own, never mind wrapped up in chronic illness. I have anxiety from childhood and abuse issues, but for the sake of this explanation, I am going to put them aside for a moment. And only talk about anxiety and chronic illness.

At the root of anxiety, there is fear. You fall off your bike, you can’t stand on your left leg, it is swelling, it is turning purple, you are in agony, so you go to the doctor for help. This is normal; I would do this too. But it is also a little scary, no matter which way you look at it. Fear comes from an endless list of things, but around anything medical, these top five justifiable fears are just the tip of the iceberg:

  • Fear of the physical pain you are in, that it could get worse before it gets better or that the pain cannot be taken away.
  • Fear of the diagnosis (will this be long term, permanent, constant, or even just cause you regular problems forever onwards?).
  • Fear of no diagnosis or that it can’t be fixed.
  • Fear of procedures and treatment (we all know from infancy that needles hurt, cleansing of wounds hurt, physical examinations and surgery and tests can be painful, etc.)
  • Fear of not being heard or understood or not being able to explain the problem well.

When it comes to chronic illness of any kind, the above five issues are not an oddity in our lives, but an almost constant source of very real fear and anxiety at one level or another.

I write a lot about Vulnerability Exhaustion, and how constantly having to expose our bodies and souls to professionals who may or may not be kind, gentle, willing to help, thoughtful … or not, is exhausting. This too, of course, brings with it a second level of justifiable fear.

Many of us with rare or undiagnosed conditions have unusual medical complications, outwardly invisible symptoms, or do not a concrete diagnosis yet, so this medical fear and Vulnerability Fear is even greater. Naturally and understandably, over time, this becomes a trauma which can ultimately, especially when ignored, escalate to become quite severe.

Throw mental illness, abuse, or any other kind of trauma into the mix and even more layers of fear are piling on. And these are very common elements as the statistics of the general population are extremely high, but the weak and helpless are at a much greater risk again.

It isn’t hard to work out at this point then, how anxiety, panic and fear can become a crippling part of our already complicated medical lives.

But there is more. Fear is considered by many to be emotional rather than physical, so it is more often than not, brushed aside and dismissed. I believe, however, that fear is more physical than emotional (although emotions play a massive role) and to add fuel to the fire, the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks can often mimic many life-threatening situations, and again, the cycles become deeper and deeper.

So our fears, panic and anxiety symptoms can go quickly unnoticed or addressed in the whole scheme of the way more important medical issues. They are often left to fester and grow without even ourselves noticing.

So many times I have been rushed to hospital having collapsed suddenly with little to no measurable heart rate. This is considered (and rightly so), as critical, especially when it is a doctor or paramedic who has called the ambulance. It is a scary situation to be in. Mind numbingly scary actually. I think that few people would think that fear should not exist in this situation.

Being in ER, surrounded by doctors, and so many other patients in distress, often bloody and crying out in pain is scary. Then there are drips, injections, monitors; you name it. Panic in the eyes of both doctors and nurses make it even worse despite their reassurances. My adrenaline pumps, my stomach drops, my fingers tingle. It is all justifiable fear. Test after test occurs and everything comes back “normal”. After a couple of hours, my stats return to a safe level, and they can’t find anything wrong with me. They need the bed. They send me home. With nothing to go on but a warning to be more careful, to avoid foods that could cause reactions, to avoid taking medications that I am not sure about. To get to the bottom of whatever it is before it kills me.

They send me home with fear and a barrage of unanswered questions. Their job is done, they are ER doctors. They can’t help me. The next time my GP gives me a new medication my heart races, the adrenaline pumps. What if this new medication will cause me to collapse? What if there is something in it that the ER doctor said could kill me next time? She can’t answer that question because no one knows. My anxiety grows, and I still don’t even know that it is even there.

Eventually, my anxiety grew to the point where it was diagnosed by my (fabulous) GP. I was glad, not of the diagnosis as such but that my fears were recognized. I thought that it would bring answers but it didn’t. It made everything worse. For you see, many people, professionals included, use “anxiety” is their “get out of jail free” card.

“Ooooh,” they say. “You have anxiety? Well, then that is what is happening to you. You need to pull yourself together or stop being so fearful, or you need to calm down, or to see someone else. We have done all we can for you, now go and see a shrink.”

A broad brush stroke that suddenly, out of nowhere, wipes everything else away with it.

Our bodies are emotional AND physical, and we all know that in theory. But many experts specialize in one or the other rather than both.

The ER doctors who had poured their energies and skills over me trying to save my life suddenly washed their hands of me when the first and slightest hint of anxiety was placed on the table by a well-meaning (and kind I might add) Cardiologist.

I instantly swapped from being a medical case to being a mental case.

This happened over a decade ago and as the spiral descended it eventually became crippling, and I was struggling to function at any real level. I was sometimes able to hide it well, but at other times I lost consciousness before I even knew what had hit me and I would rush off to the hospital in an ambulance. Creating a huge scene that I did not want to be a part of, making me hide my symptoms even more.

I had better end this here before you all get bored, but the story continues!

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You can get hold of my book on how I conquered my Anxiety on Amazon; it is only 99c (or equivalent on the other Amazon sites). If you read it, I would LOVE to hear what you think by giving it a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or even better, on both 🙂

 

 

To book a talk with me and discuss my schedule you can contact me on JPeaSmith@KingsRoadChronicles.com

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Where you can find and follow Jennifer: 

@JPeaSmith
 
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Anxiety & Chronic Illness

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I love a good book signing of course, but even more than that I love to speak about my journey and my experiences with chronic illness and anxiety in ways that encourage people.

Last week, I was given the amazing opportunity to do both and speak at Life Line  Johannesburg, and I was thrilled, humbled and honoured to speak to their counsellors.

For those of you haven’t heard of Lifeline, they are a nonprofit organisation across the world who provide round-the-clock telephone and scheduled face-to-face counselling sessions, for free, to anyone in need of help

These men and women donate their time and expertise to be just a phone call away from anyone in the public. They are known for their suicide prevention calls but they take calls on any urgent matter that any person may have.

I am sure that you can imagine that when a person phones in, they are more likely than not, to be in extreme distress. Their anxiety, one way or another, is on super-drive. Most aren’t ringing about anxiety, they are phoning because of a specific issue, but they are also extremely anxious.

 

 

It was a huge privilege to be invited to speak to some of their local counsellors about my Book.

 

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But anyone who has been involved in the chronic illness world, even if for just a short time, will know that many of us experience isolation, rejection, loneliness, pain, trauma, abuse (the list is almost endless) way more than the rest of the population. So as a somewhat visibly disabled person (I walk slowly and with a crutch), I was able to incorporate that into my talk. It felt like a small win for my community, to be able to discuss the links between physical illness (especially long term) and anxiety and the various ways in which the lines between them can be quite blurred.

There were so many great questions and the two hours just flew by. It was a great environment to share my journey and hopefully, I planted enough seeds that as these brave men and women continue their great work, they will be able to help even more, especially those who phone in and also happen to have a long term illness, a mental illness, or a debilitating illness.

We taped the whole thing so that I could share it and then all the footage was lost (yes, I am trying very hard not to be angry LOL). But we plan on doing it again and also starting some kind of public Q&A where I can share with the public 🙂

Thank you to Lifeline for the opportunity, and for this great endorsement! I was honoured 🙂

Julie post LifeLine

 

IMG_4276To book a talk with me and discuss my schedule you can contact me on JPeaSmith@KingsRoadChronicles.com

Where you can find and follow Jennifer: 

@JPeaSmith
 
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Paralyzed or Mobilized?

I am so honoured and proud to have the privilege of being a new guest blogger this coming year for superstar blogger Matt and his amazing blog! I shall write no more here because I want you to read what I wrote there today! This is the first in a series which I will be writing for him in the coming months. So click on the link, check it out, and see what else he has to say!

Surviving My Past

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