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JanCarol

Chicken and Hibari - congratulations on your drug free status!  I hope your drug free time goes at least as smoothly as mine!

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a friend.  You know the one - it's always the question:  "How long does this last?  How long will I suffer from symptoms?"

 

Here's what I said:

You may always suffer from symptoms.  It was symptoms of some sort which drove us to the drugs to begin with.

 

And then, the drugs make us more sensitive to the symptoms - they sensitize us.  

 

This is why I have this huge toolkit and that I believe strongly in doing something! Responding instead of just reacting to what life gives me.

Because I know that I needed to use these tools before I went on the drugs (but I didn't).  Now that I have spent 30 years on and off of at least a dozen different antidepressants, mood stabilizers and even a neuroleptic - I need these techniques more than ever.  

Managing my mood is practically a full time job.  I get sick more easily, I still hear the voices of despair, hopelessness and poor self esteem. Even though I experience fear, pain, sadness and anger, it's what I do in the face of those emotions which is important.  I still need to counteract each negative thought with at least 3 positive ones if I want to keep my head above the water and not be sucked down into the tar of depression and despair.

I believe that the drugs amplified my sensitivity - to foods, to stress, to events.  Withdrawal from the drugs has helped, but I will always be susceptible to symptoms.

 

In many ways, I'm better than I ever was before, in that I have purpose, meaning, and meaningful work that I want to do!  But it requires effort on my part.

 

I didn't just "get better."  I slogged and dragged myself kicking and sometimes screaming into wellness.  I asked for help when I needed help.  I got support from professionals, hubby, my friends - everyone in my life.  If they didn't support me, I had to let them go.  I allowed myself breaks and rest - but I also challenged myself to do things that were uncomfortable and challenging.  If I had not done that, I don't think I would be better.  I don't think my world would have opened up the way it did.

 

I continue to challenge myself.  I've recently learned that I need to improve my public speaking (for example) - if I'm going to teach a class, I need to teach it well.  The people in my circle deserve my best - and I deserve to make my best better at every available opportunity.  I need to seek out ways to continue to learn and grow and challenge myself.

 

If I am not moving forward, then I am slipping backwards.  To slip backwards to me is where the deep, dark, sticky tar pit of self-destruction, selfishness, and indulgence lie.  It is to fall out of responsibility, and back into reactivity.    It is important to be safe but it is also important to challenge my safety, to try new things.

So - no.  We never get better, I may always struggle with symptoms, I may always be sensitive to drugs, food, pain - I may always get sick easily, crash easily.  The adage is:  the pain is mandatory - but the suffering is optional.

 

and Yes.  We can be better than ever.

 

But it is hard work, like a marriage or a job - like a life's work.  

 

When I make myself better, I improve my world just that much.  It is my job, my duty, my responsibility to do so.  To do otherwise is to accept that the world is an awful place, and that I have no purpose, no role, no part in my own healing, and in the recovery of myself and those around me.

 

When I am better - then the world around me is that much better too.  

 

This may sound like the New Age "we create our reality."  I would take it a step further than that:  we are responsible to our reality.  

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JanCarol

Heart Rate Variability - HRV

 

I've been thinking, and working towards, parasympathetic response.  It makes sense, in an on/off kind of way.

 

If you're stressed, adrenaline firing, anxious, with your shoulders around your ears and shallow breathing, it makes sense to want to chill that out, to open to relaxation response, to calm the heart, deepen the breathing, and release the tension and stress held in the muscles.

 

It's been a good practice, learning to cultivate parasympathetic response.  Legs up on the wall, deeper breath, calm the nerves (love those mag salt baths!).

 

But now that I'm looking at cardiac issues, I'm learning that my previous on/off, black/white thinking is no longer quite correct.

 

There's a measurement called HRV.  I learned about this from Bruce Lipton, "Biology of Belief," who referred me to the Heart Math Institute.  Sure, they have products that they can sell you to help train you in HRV, but why would anyone want to do that?

Here's why:  it's not just about the ability to cultivate parasympathetic response.  If we just cultivated that, we would be lumps of jello on the floor.

 

We also want to develop buoyancy, resilience, and stress response.  

Here's an image:  Jan is lying on the floor, legs up on the wall, and all of a sudden, she hears the cat choking.  Parasympathetic would say, "just stay there, relax, it's all well, it will all be well."  Sympathetic says, GET UP DO SOMETHING!

 

Heart Rate Variability is many things, I'm learning.  But one of those things is flexibility.  According to the Heart Math Institute (and there is science involved here), the heart sends more signals to the brain than the brain does to the heart.

 

So all of those years that we thought of the brain as a chemical stew that ran and operated the body - is not quite correct.

 

There's that long, thin superhighway from bottom to top called the vagus nerve:

 

img_803.jpg

 

Heart Rate Variability is about creating resonance throughout the system - so that it is strong and flexible.

 

HRV is about the ability to switch quickly and easily from one state to another state.  To jump up and take care of the cat - and then be able to go back to calm - in a heartbeat.

 

That's my primitive understanding of it.  To learn more, go to Heart Math Institute - there's years of study and understanding in there.

 

So switching and the flexibility of switching is vital for good health (and cardio health especially).  

 

Think of it as a sticky light switch, it is better to have one which is smooth and glides freely - but which is clear about "on" and "off"  (no inbetween wobbly states, please!)

 

This roughly correlates with something I learned about early fMRI research into "bipolar."  A Queensland scientist/doctor was doing early fMRI work in the 2000's, and he claimed that he could identify "bipolar" by the way their brains switched.  He said that "bipolar" people had difficulty switching between left and right brains, and would get "stuck" in emotion or rationality.  That the switching between left and right brain took longer in "bipolar" people, and he had a light/sound program (early neurofeedback?) to help facilitate the switching.

 

This does not mean I believe that "bipolar" is a valid diagnosis.  It can be, but it is much more rare than what is happening on the streets.

 

But this was the first description I had heard of my interior workings that made sense.  I was "sticky."  If I was agitated, I stayed agitated, and had difficulty calming down.  If I was ruminating, I would hang onto those ruminations for dear life, even if they were making me suffer.  "Sticky" thoughts and emotions made sense as a way to describe my mental and emotional experience.

 

So now, I am learning about another form of sticky.  Not left and right brain, but heart and mind.  At the Heart Math Institute, they seek to set up coherence between heart and mind, and in so doing, they seek to improve HRV:  the flexibility of switching from active to passive, and back to active again - fluidly, easily, clearly.

 

This is what I've been seeking on my "recovery thread" = resilience, buoyancy.  It is apparently like a muscle that you can learn to flex.

I have not decided to buy the $200 Heart Math thingy.  At this point, I am using my yoga and my interior senses to work on this.

 

But my Holter monitor said that I had an HRV of 48, which is NOT GOOD.  This is, on my pathology report, an item called SDNN Index.  Moderate HRV is 50-100.  High HRV (the best) is over 100.  My low HRV of 48 is an indicator that I have - get this - 400% greater risk of mortality.  That's simply unacceptable.

 

Now that I've found my life - finally!  And I have Porpoise and things I want to accomplish, and a great long list of things I really want to do, I need to be as long-lived and as well as possible.

So I wanted to bring forth the health of HRV.  I recommend it to anyone who's had any "weird heart" stuff like palpitations, variable rhythms, high blood pressure, high heart rate, etc.  

And with my HRV of 48, if this Holter reading (I just took another one this week) isn't any better - I might invest in the $200 HRV feedback thingy, and try to learn something new about my nervous system, my heart, and coherence with myself and others.

 

 

 

 

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JanCarol

So - I won a local writing competition!  It was "the value of handwritten things" from a shop wanting to sell writing supplies.

 

I wrote about my journal, and my longhand letters to my mother, got a $25 gift certificate!  (I reckon it's more a statement about people's willingness to write than about my ability - after all, it was longhand, written entries only.  No texts.)

 

Today I share a pretty fantastic summit from Sound True: Psychotherapy and Spirituality Summit

 

There is a code in there to benefit Shades of Awakening, which is where I heard about it.

 

I won't buy the summit, starting 30-Oct - but I would like to catch as much free as possible.  It's a huge thing, maybe not every topic is for you, but if you catch just one that shifts your perception, awareness or healing - then - hey, I'm glad you found it!

 

I hope you see the sun today (I hope I do, too - lots of rain lately!)

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Shep
27 minutes ago, JanCarol said:

So - I won a local writing competition!  It was "the value of handwritten things" from a shop wanting to sell writing supplies.

 

I wrote about my journal, and my longhand letters to my mother, got a $25 gift certificate!  (I reckon it's more a statement about people's willingness to write than about my ability - after all, it was longhand, written entries only.  No texts.)

 

Congratulations! Your ability to write is fantastic. I'm not surprised you won. Writing longhand letters is a fading art, but I'm old enough to remember doing it long before email. 

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JanCarol

Just as awesome - Shades of Awakening Magazine has all kinds of references and resources for supporting, understanding, learning and growing with your spiritual emergence, extreme states, etc.

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Hibari

Congratulations JanCarol!  I think your writing is wonderful and I'm glad it's being recognized.

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Diamondgirl

Jan Carol   thank you so much for this post. Very well articulated and I agree with everything you said, I am going thru the same realizations. Thanks for the confirmation!

Edited by baroquep
member joined

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JanCarol

Musical interlude:  I haven't got time for the pain.

 

I haven't got room for the pain.

 

I haven't the need for the pain.

 

Not since I found you (me!)
 

 

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Frogie
25 minutes ago, JanCarol said:

Musical interlude:  I haven't got time for the pain.

 

I haven't got room for the pain.

 

I haven't the need for the pain.

 

Not since I found you (me!)
 

 

Love it! Now I'm waiting for it lol...

 

I forgot to tell you Congrat's on your writing, it's beautiful here. :)

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JanCarol

Thanks Frogie!

 

Now that I'm "well" I can pontificate on my favourite topics!  Of course - I still have some history to fill out - the hardest part - 1998-present (though 2010 to present it starts to get better).  It's awfully hard to write about losing oneself like that.

 

Today I write that - anybody can "go down."  Depression.

 

The first time you go into a Depression - it is like a landscape and you fall into a hole.  You don't know how you got into that Depression, that hole, but there you are.

 

The more times you fall into that hole, the deeper it becomes - and it becomes a sort of gravity well.  It becomes attractive, comfortable - easier to be Depressed than it is to think about all of those things going on over your head, above the ground, on the landscape.  In addiction terms, it becomes an arroyo - a dry rut that - when the emotions come, that is the channel they always follow.  And each time - the arroyo gets carved more deeply.

 

After a long, hard crawl out - how do you crawl out of a Depression hole?  There are two schools of thought - some say - to surrender to it, and rest.  Others say to fight it at every step of the way.  I suspect it is a flexing between the two.  Resting and striving, resting again, striving again.

 

The striving includes all of those millions of ways you can take responsibility for your own mood - in my case, this is sun walks, nutrition, supplementation, exercise, restriction of TV and loud music,  and a certain mindset or perception that adjusts to meet your needs.  CBT addresses this last thing - but - in my case I need more than CBT.  I can beat myself about the head all I want with "think right, think right, think RIGHT!" but unless I align my thoughts and feelings to let those cracks of hope in - all of the "right thinking" won't do doodly squat.

 

As I begin to climb out of the hole - or walk out from under the deep lake of tar - I can begin to survey the landscape and understand how I fell into that hole.

 

Oh, I exhausted myself moving house.  That marriage was more stressful than I understood at the time.  My mother, OMG!  I was oppressed here, and changed my inner landscape to survive the outer one (hint:  some of these coping strategies go in the wrong direction!).  I was isolated, separated, could not connect with others. I ate badly.  I smoked.  I hung out with deprecating and cynical people.   So many things that are on that upper landscape which directed me into the hole of Depression. 

 

And as I climb out, I can identify these, and maybe make changes.  Do I want to go back into that hole again?  Or do I want to change the people I hang out with?  Do I choose the job - or the hole?  And as I make these choices - I move further and further away from this gravity well sucking me down and in.

 

In the case of chronic Depression (which later "switched" to Bipolar II) - that hole is always there.  And you learn the landmarks.  I see them now as a series of tiny crossroads.  I can skip the sunwalk today.  I don't really need to go to yoga tonight.  I can have another drink.  Oh look!  Pie!    I can keep going, even though I'm very tired.  It's fine, I'll just grab some fast food.  Each of these crossroads of choice become bigger and more dangerous, as they start circling the Depression Hole. 

 

I write you today from some pretty major crossroads.

 

It's stinking hot here - after weeks of rain.  The sun has not been on my agenda.  I try and make up for it with yoga, exercise and diet - but oh, those croissants were so good...I've been having a bunch of pain, and that makes the gravity around the Depression Hole stronger, more attractive.  Finding uplifting people to hang with is an exceptional challenge because it seems that everyone these days is sick and on psych drugs.  I would guess that 90% of people in my circle (family and friends)  are drugged at this point.  How sad is that?  There are people at the yoga studio who are shiny and well - but we all have our lives, and while we try to socialize a bit - it's hard to break old patterns of just - go to class, go home).  Another struggle right now is I'm working on a Big Thing:  my black belt.  So it is depressing to realise that all I am doing right now is train, recover.  Train, recover.  It gives me very little energy for anything else.  Then there are the things which make me angry - drugging of my friends and family is one of them, and the news is another.  I can avoid the news, mostly - but avoiding my family and friends is harder.  It's hard on me to hear their tales - it's hard, too, to avoid them completely.  But I do feel my heart rate go up again when I hear of another cold turkey.

 

I could fall in the Hole at any time - and still - in recovery (just as if I were an alcoholic or an addict) I need to be mindful of my steps.  There's quicksand at the edge!  I need those sunwalks whenever I can.  I need that daily Tai Chi.  I need that exercise.  I probably can have a croissant - but - to think of it as a special thing, like a drink of alcohol (or a drug) to be indulged rarely (sometimes I used carbs to get to sleep at night - not the healthiest practice).  I need to not argue on the internet at night.  I maybe even need to avoid the Facebook games (though they are a comfort when I have low energy).  I need to get up out of my chair and do stuff.  I need to reach out and find places where the light is brighter, and can guide me to better health - not drag me down the gravity well into the Depression Hole.

 

Dr. Rob Purssey talks about this as the ACT Matrix.  In anxiety, we tend to choose avoidance behaviours (away), while in health we tend to move towards things - loved ones, goals, pleasures.  On a 2 dimensional axis - moving towards things that you want is preferred to avoiding things that scare you.  I also look at this as hedonic rehabilitation - by following your pleasure, engaging in these things which make you feel better, not worse.  This also plays into "brain candy" (below) because your brain is hardwired to give top priority to pleasure, and will open to pleasure, and be more receptive to conditioning.

 

And another lesson I learned last night in a practice called "Neurosculpting" (TM).  In Neurosculpting, you engage both parts of your brain to make real, lasting changes.  So - it starts with what she calls "Brain Candy."  

When you are in distress or stress, you find the brain candy.  These are left field novelties which engage your left brain like a puzzle (or pleasure, above).  For example, walk backwards.  Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.  Spell your words out.  Jump up and down 10 times.  Paint your right hand green.  Sing or scream at the top of your lungs. Listen to a new, intriguing piece of music.  Surprise your brain!

 

What happens with the brain candy, is when you surprise your left brain, you are given the opportunity to reprogram your limbic system from the frontal cortex.  This is - basically - reprogramming your attitudes and feelings by using your higher functions.

 

While you are doing the novel thing (brain candy) - your brain floods with chemicals (I suspect dopamine might be involved) which enhance the learning process.  While you are doing something new - or experiencing something new - your brain turns on the "listening" powers - and can hear you on all levels.  This is when you say:  I am a happy person.  I enjoy the challenges that life brings to me.  This is how you make an affirmation work.

 

To put a post-it on your mirror (the scientist, Lisa Wimberger, really hates the post-it practice) means that you will be getting the message all of the time - not just at the times when your brain can actually receive it, take it in, process it, learn and make changes.  

 

She used these techniques to stop vagus nerve seizures.  If she can stop a seizure - then I can avoid Depression Holes!

 

There's more to it than that - things which tie into my shamanic practice very well - the induction of relaxation response prior to the novel thing.  The meditations on how you want it to be.  And then - the action to short-stop and redirect your own mind.

So - today I woke up with a ton of bricks on top of me.  I felt the crossroads to skip my morning yoga.  I may skip the gym today in the name of "rest and recover," but not for long.  It's green tea today, not coffee.  One brick at a time, I got out from under it, and I'm up and moving again (about to go out into the sun, even though it's late here - 4 pm).  I did not fall in the hole today - but I may need to mind my days very closely until I achieve my goal.

 

It's sad that I can only do one goal at a time, that my website is suffering while I do this training (it's hard to be creative when I'm recovering from training!) - but it seems to be my reality.

 

I stop here to drop a line to you, to let you know - there will still be challenges, there will still be hardships and rough times.  But learn from your past - learn from your journey, and you need never live in that Hole again.

 

I'll be back in a mo to post a great graphic about recovery.

 

 

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JanCarol

Here's a little clip I found last night, from "Recovered - Eating Issues in Our Own Words," a film by Tim Steward for The Eating Issues Center (TEIC) Brisbane, Queensland, Australia:

 

 

 

Except - in the case of psych drug recovery I would at least double, if not triple the time scales they mention here.

Edited by JanCarol

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gigi63

Jan Carol,  I just watched the recovery video you posted.  Thank you!!!!  Today was a really hard day.  Wanting so bad to be at good and steady, sick and tired of waves!!!!  This video is great.  The place in the video that made me laugh today was the non linear line that turned into absolute chaos.  That was great!!!! That is exactly how I feel today!!!!  Thank you.  Helps to bring back perspective on this very difficult journey😊😊😊😊😊

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gigi63

Maybe more like 8 times longer!!!’n

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manymoretodays

Hi JanCarol,

 

Stopped in.  Read awhile.  Congratulations too!   Rested.  Listened.  Inspired.  Enlightened even.  Thank you.  Love.  Hugs.

 

manymoretodays

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JanCarol

Thanks for stopping by!

 

The sun walks - I just got back from a week up the coast - so there were plenty of windy walks on the beach, plenty of sun. 

 

But now I'm back home and it's raining.

 

The week away gave me some time away from karate training, and the opportunity to evaluate yet another tendinitis injury to my dominant (left) arm.  The hand physio calls it "tennis elbow."  I have no point of injury, it came on with the flu/head cold/???  2 months ago.

 

See - I'm "healing" - but - I'm still susceptible to problems!

During training, I have not been attending yoga classes.  I can't do both - it turns my weeks upside down to train more then 2x a week.  So I have started a morning yoga practice.  About 30 min to an hour of self guided yoga, revisiting the styles I learned in the 70's and 80's, and adding some new stuff like Lee Holden's "7 minutes of Magic" (it takes me a 1/2 hour to do his 7 minutes!)

 

Now I'm wondering how I ever got out of bed without this practice!

 

I'm hoping it deepens my living experience (that hasn't happened yet) - but it is, at least, keeping my head above water.  Even in the rain.

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manymoretodays

.......ahhhhh.........up the coast.........windy walks..........sunshine.......  I may wind up doing some yoga on channel 6(:blink:)...........try, try to get back to that form of movement meditation.  Having company over in the form of the tv on mute today and doing laundry, etc.  Nice holiday week is my excuse.

 

I'm so happy that your success story contains a lot of your coping skills.  Keep them coming for us easily bored/want change now types.

 

Love, gratitude, "in healing and recovery",

mmt

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JanCarol

Thanks MMT!  

I love sharing various non-drug coping skills.

 

I just learned a "Chi opening" from Lee Holden that's a goodie.

 

First:  stand feet hip width apart, arms at side.  Start swinging left to right so that your arms swing.  Start gently, and then build up so that one hand slaps your kidney when the other slaps your lower belly.  Slap both sides 7 times, and then gently slow the swinging until you come to still.  This is called "Opening the Door"

Then:  Put your right arm out - slap down the inside of your right arm with a cupped hand - like a massage percussion.  Down the inside, then turn right arm over and slap up the outside.  Repeat with your left arm.

 

Thymus thump - I think I've talked about this one before - just 7 quick raps with fingertips (or knuckles if you really want to wake up the thymus) with each hand.  Yell like Tarzan if you want.

 

Then:  Slap the inside of your right leg - down to the food along the inside of your leg, then up the outside.  Repeat on left leg.

 

Shake your arms like a swimmer getting ready for competition, and let the shaking expand to include bouncing on the balls of your feet (I alternate bounce left to right, but you can bounce on both at the same time - doesn't matter).

 

Let it still.  Then bring your feet close together, close your eyes, and focus - for just a moment - on what you want to accomplish.

 

Best done first thing in the morning!

 

* * *


In other news, I have been given reprieve from black belt testing.  This is good because I have tendinitis (again), this time in my left arm.  So back to yoga classes and only one karate a week.  The test has been delayed until some of the others in the class catch up to me.  Running a black belt test is a big thing, and they don't want to run it for just me.  Nice to know I'm candidate #1 for black belt, though!  :D

 

 

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manymoretodays

:o  Ahhhhh.......ah.....ah......ah.......oh.......(my Thymic Tarzan yell)

 

Thanks.

 

 

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JanCarol

So - I was looking up some stuff for MMT (Hi there!) on my hard drive, and I found a Glenmullen symptoms list for me from 2013-2017.

 

In 2013 I had 29 symptoms:
Worsened mood 

Low energy (fatigue, lethargy, malaise)

Trouble concentrating 

Insomnia 
Suicidal thoughts

Anxious nervous tense 

Panic attacks (racing heart, breathless)

Chest pain 

Trembling jittery shaking

Irritability

Agitation (restlessness, hyperactivity)

Confusion or Cognitive Difficulties

Memory problems or forgetfulness (I'd forget my head if it weren't attached)

Mood Swings

Feeling detached or unreal

Nightmares

Flu-like aches and pains
Abdominal pain or cramps

Stomach bloating

Disequilibrium

Hung over or waterlogged feeling

Unsteady gait, poor coordination

Headache

Numbness burning tingling

Electric zap-like sensations in brain

Ringing or other noises in earas

Muscle cramps stiffness twitches

Tendon pain

When I look at this I've always thought that I was one of the ones who "got away lightly" but - I guess I've paid my dues.  (I'd rather not, but not much choice in the matter now!)

In 2017 only 12 symptoms:
Low Energy (fatigue lethargy malaise)

Trouble concentrating

Insomnia

Panic attacks (could be cardiovascular)

Irritability

Confusion or cognitive difficulties

Memory problems or forgetfulness (see above.  head.  attached.  Good thing.)
Unsteady gait, poor coordination (but that has improved!)

Headache (again, also improved!)

Ringing or other noises in ears (sadly, this may be worse)

Muscle cramps stiffness twitches

Tendon pain

 

I find it - um - a little disheartening that Glenmullen says that mild is 1-3 symptoms, and severe is 8-10 when most of us in here are in the double digits....

So there's a chronicle.

in 4 years time, I have less than half the symptoms I had before.  When I said I felt about 61% healed - that is accurate almost to a T!  

It takes time, and it's slow.  But healing happens.
 

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Hibari

Thank you for sharing.  You have been through a lot and that list is something.

 

Here's to the symptom list getting even shorter in 2018! 

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