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machawolf

Overstimulation and increased sensitivity to light, sound etc.

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machawolf

Is anyone else over sensitive to stimulus, such as noise, movement and light? Things that used to normally not bother me seems overwhelming on my senses. Any suggestions of what to do? I'm thinking of getting some really nice earplugs for work....

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InvisibleUnless

ive had overstimulation issues that can be triggered or exacerbated by all senses, but especially visual and aural stimuli.  ive had to stop listening to music most of the time during withdrawal, and very rarely watch a movie or make it through a long tv episode without having to take breaks and stuff (or saving the rest for another day).

 

normal situations can cause pain, disorientation, a lot of mental noise, etc.  aside from giving myself breaks, and avoiding almost everything i can within reason, i have not found any solutions; its mostly something to wait out.  in some phases, having more sugar (in a meal or snack) than my body would prefer can ramp up my sensitivity, so things like time of day (circadian rhythm and hormones, post-sleep brainstates, light levels, temperature, etc) and diet and posture are good things to look into if you want to minimize the risk of overstimulation.

 

sometimes it helps me diminish the problem to have a more significant range of stimulation within a certain subset of input, for example music playing over the intrusive noise of machinery outside or people talking...staccato, intermittent, or frequency-restrictive noises can be more painful when there isnt something overlapping it all and binding it into a less alarming/more fluid mass.  the same goes for visual problems, like sensitivity to light---having a lower ambient lighting environment but not restricting that lighting to only one source can make things a bit more comfortable.  taking breaks away from screens, windows, light fixtures, and other sources by closing my eyes in a darkish place and having a restful or meditative brainspace can help me recover a bit.  in some parts of my withdrawal, i have taken a 5-15 minute non-sleeping nap a few times every hour or so for days on end in order to function at all in the world ('the world' mostly just meaning my room or sometimes wider house, when things are like that).

 

so, earplugs dont sound like a bad option at all, but some people get pain from hearing their own biological functions (like heartbeats, blood whooshing, joints moving, etc).  earplugs might not cause you to zoom in on those noises, as most people either have problems with that or dont regardless, so definitely give anything a try that comes to mind as a possible way to cut out some of the overbearing input.

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Petunia

Increased sensitivity to all kinds of stimulus is quite common in withdrawal. I've had the hardest time with sounds. A neighbor closing a car door or the sound of the TV, even through 2 closed doors would cause shock and increased anxiety. I invested in a pack of ear plugs, they helped to keep me more comfortable during the day and helped with sleep, because I was waking up at the slightest sound.

 

When I was at my worst, any sound at all would be unbearable, I remember if I heard a human voice, from outside or from another part of the house, I would immediately get waves of fear/anxiety race through my body.

 

I also had problems with sudden changes in temperature, it would put my body into a state of panic and I couldn't function.

 

For me, staying in a calm, controlled environment as much as possible is making life less uncomfortable as I wait for my NS to settle down, which is taking some time. I'm a lot better now than what I was though. 

 

Like InvisibleUnless, I've had to confine myself to my room and the house as I'm recovering, mainly because of sensitivity issues, its caused an unusual kind of agoraphobia. Going 'out' into the noisy, chaotic, unpredictable world, which I've had to do at times has caused incredible stress from sensory overload and I would go into a state of DP/DR, which would then make things even worse.

 

Many people have trouble with light, here is a discussion topic about it with some ideas for how to manage:

 

Light-sensitive? Try blocking out blue light - Symptoms and ...

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machawolf

Thanks for the input. InvisibleUnless, that is good advice to add another stimulus to make it less direct. Since there is no such thing as a quiet place at my work (lab of post college bros…) cutting out the talking/yelling/irritating music/etc by adding something to it may help. I’m thinking white noise type sounds on my ipod? Then everything will be muffled as I have tried ear plugs and they still don’t drown everything out.

 

Petunia I get the sudden change in temp thing two, as well as the sound anxiety. I hear the door in the office part of my work and I jump for like 5min. Of course it doesn’t help when people try to get my attention with breaking a ruler on my lab bench….

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InvisibleUnless

if the earplugs arent enough, maybe combining them with over-the-ear headphones with some sort of constant source of sound would be ideal.  im not sure white noise would be a good idea, because the brain likes to have patterns it can pick out and focus on, and white noise sometimes leaves us more engaged or stimulated than wed prefer.  simplistic music that is not too frequency-heavy in particular ranges you might be additionally sensitive to might be good, but its sometimes a rather personal deal.  load on a few different kinds of things so you can test out what works best for you.

 

i can also relate to that temperature problem---not just changes, but constant cool or (even worse!) constant heat can create a lot of problems.  ive been on the verge of just passing out or convulsing because its been in the 80s here and i prefer it to be in the 60s normally.

 

my sensitivity is not always tied to an anxiety/arousal response, but that might just be how far ive healed since the first few years.  music and talking used to scare the **** out of me, and ive only this year come to be able to tolerate more than a few seconds straight of music, or movies with loud noises and such.

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DavidStone

Noise cancelation headphones are quite amazing. I use them when my background noise is too much. Not related to WD for me but still can be distracting. Bose makes a good pair. You'll spend $200-300 for a decent pair but...totally worth it. Speakers on the headphones take in the ambient sound and the headphones produce a sound wave opposite of the ambient noise and plays it with what you're listening to. It cancels out the ambient sound. Works in most situations.

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happygirl77

This has been one of my worst symptoms and 15 months later does not seem to let up for more than a few days. You know that feeling prior to withdrawal when there was a loud bang or someone makes you jump and you get that funny feeling in your tummy for a second ? Well now I get that for the slightest sound, a tea spoon clinking the side of a cup or the closing of a fridge door. I wear ear plugs at night but they do not cancel out all noise. A car door slamming outside before bed can keep me awake all night. I used to like heavy metal and rock before this, one day when I'm better I will rock it again.

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Celeste

Anyone else still dealing with this? I'm 4.5 years out of WD but still in protracted WD. I've had a very bad crash from a lot of stress and this symptom is the most debilitating. The slightest noise rattles my nerves. My husband moving about the apartment, noises from outside, etc. I got earplugs and that seemed to help but pretty much have been quarantining myself in the apartment which is doing a number on my anxiety. Has anything helped anyone to get this to pass?

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Junglechicken

Sensitivity to noise yes - my hubby doing a "trumpet" sneeze drives me nuts, or my neurotic screaming mother (I just stay away from her, lol) light (I always wear shades outside even in the UK).

 

I exercise too much I know and that does over stimulate my digestive tract, my tinnitus gets worse, and I feel the electric current sensation running through my body.

 

Stress is the worst culprit though. This sets off waves for me.

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Celeste

Me too Jinglechicken...I'm really trying to practice stress reduction. It has proven to be a challenge. That's how i got to this crash in the first place..way too much stress. My world has come to a standstill. I'm not sleeping much at all and I'm guessing that is why I'm so hypersensitive to stimulation at the moment.

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Toulouse

My eyes are now sensitive to bright sunlight. It's almost blinding at times. My sense of smell was elevated too. Smells were overpowering, including some others were unaware of.  Anything too loud gets me upset.  Some of this is better lately, particularly the heightened sense of smell.

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Junglechicken

Yes smell is another one Toulouse. I am always questioning what smells are or am I imagining them?

 

Celeste - stress reduction is a tough one as we are already sensitised to so many things and we are easily stressed by them.

 

Actually the physical WD symptoms massively stress me out especially if it's a pain I don't recognise or changes in my body.

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stan

my senses are wrong since 7 years off meds, i am feeling off balance in dark, feet strange, shiny floor makes me difficult to walk, neon light is overhelming, half death one side, tinnitus since etc

littlel abnormal stress worsen all this

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Junglechicken

Stan, whereabouts in France do you live? Only asking because I spent quite a few years in the south.

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Junglechicken

Wow, how wonderful - one of these days I hope to have tarte Tropezienne again, lol.

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Celeste

I am also very sensitive to sunlight..especially if there is snow on the ground. The sensitivity to smell and sound just came after I put a lot of stress on myself and crashed. The sound part really sucks. I'm sensitive to almost everything I hear right now. Hope it passes soon..earplugs help a little bit but I've been basically quarantining myself in my apartment..don't know what else to do. And junglechicken...WD symptoms stress me out too. I obsess about them too much but they all seem to ebb and flow so I try to keep that in perspective.

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DCnemsie

Yes, I use earplugs too. Sound is worse than light.

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Maybe

I had a strong sensitivity to monitors, which lasted around 2 years. I could not look at any TFT monitor, only old CRT ones. After around 5 minutes of watching I got an akward feeling in my head which I cannot really describe, but it took at least an hour to go away again. Was quite hard to work with and when I had an old bulky CRT at my work place everyone asked if it was due to nostalgia. But regarding this, I am fine today.

Concerning sound, I did not feel any pain, but I was extremely jumpy at the beginning of WD. Especially in the evenings or nights, whenever I heard a sound, my body would jolt. I could not wear earplugs or headphones though, because that would give me pains around my ears. Very weird.

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Franklander

It started after reinstating Lexapro at 1mg, not instantaneously tbh, first it was the sudden ear sharp pains, they were instantaneous, as they came and went.
It took around 2 weeks for two new symptoms to arise, tinnitus and hyperacusis, though they might
be related to one single culprit: Vestibular System.

Has anyone suffered or is suffering from the same? Am I losing my hearing? Did anyone heal?
 

Edited by KarenB
merged similar topics

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ang

I also have sharp pains in my ears, comes and goes,   worse at night.                Tinnitus, rarely.         My hearing comes and goes a bit,    and I also have to avoid noise at times.           All part of the wonders of withdrawals and healing.

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KarenB

In the worst of my waves I'd feel like a drill was pushing down through one of my ears all the way through my brain.  It was sort of painful, but mostly felt 'full' like some sort of pressure.  I hated it.  I imagine the sharp pains are awful.  I also get tinnitus at the worst of my waves.  Both conditions are worse for me at night too. 

 

It is unlikely you'll lose your hearing, it's just strange w/d symptoms which happen as our brain tries to establish normal again.

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Dan998

It is possible you have lost some hearing at a certain frequency and that your brain is over-compensating at the other frequencies. It could also be as simple as excessive ear wax.

 

If you're worried about hearing loss there are apps that you can use to self test. I use this one - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=mobile.eaudiologia&hl=en_GB 

 

However, it is just as likely that it is simply withdrawal. There is evidence that serotonin pathways are implicated in hyperacusis. Withdrawing from SSRI's confuses the balance of the serotonin system.

 

I used to have hyperacusis long before I was introduced to antidepressants. It mostly went away whilst at full dose. It came back fully when I CT'd and I'm noticing it creeping back in again as I get lower in dose. So, will have to look at non-drug ways of coping with it.

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Dan998

What is hyperacusis? 

 

"The term hyperacusis is generally applied to people who experience the sounds of everyday life as intrusively loud, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful. Some people notice an increase in sensitivity after they have had a difficult life event, for example, bereavement. In many people, though, there is no clear reason why hyperacusis started.
 
Hyperacusis affects people in different ways. For some people, it is a minor annoyance but other people find it really difficult to live with. Some people with hyperacusis withdraw from social and professional activities and become isolated; this can make the problem worse as they become fearful and anxious. Therapy often involves addressing these fears and anxieties.
 
The management of hyperacusis usually involves the treatment of any medical conditions associated with the condition, counselling, and often the use of sound therapy." -  British Tinnitus Association
 
 
"Hyperacusis is a condition that arises from a problem in the way the brains central auditory processing center perceives noise. It can often lead to pain and discomfort.
 
Individuals with hyperacusis have difficulty tolerating sounds which do not seem loud to others, such as the noise from running faucet water, riding in a car, walking on leaves, dishwasher, fan on the refrigerator, shuffling papers. Although all sounds may be perceived as too loud, high frequency sounds may be particularly troublesome.
 
As one might suspect, the quality of life for individuals with hyperacusis can be greatly compromised. For those with a severe intolerance to sound, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to function in an every day environment with all its ambient noise. Hyperacusis can contribute to social isolation, phonophobia (fear of normal sounds), and depression." - Entnet.org
 

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Franklander

Most likely the W/D symptoms, just done a testing and my hearing is normal as ever, which gives me relief and and a bit of distress, since I can't pinpoint the specific cause.

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Help777

Does anyone experience extreme irritability with noises that others make? My husband chewing, the radio. Everything feels really heightened and annoying. I know it's my problem. It grates on my nerves. Please tell me this gets better. How do I not let myself become so annoyed bt these little things?

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Ibid

Yes, Help, I have exactly that. The television is my particular enemy and battles over the volume have put my marriage to the test. Since I have serious hearing loss there's more to it than wd, but it's gotten worse since mirtazapine's departure. Sounds in the higher pitch range annoy me the most, but that's where my hearing loss is worst, so go figure. Oh, and the name Trump is always tortuous no matter the pitch at which it's spoken. Loud restaurants bother me and I wouldn't even consider going into some of the bars I frequented in my more footloose days. Could write a lot more, but sleep is about to overtake me and we insomniacs have to take it where we can get it. Speaking of which, I'm sure the noise bothers me more when I'm sleep deprived. 

 

In response to your inquiry about whether it's gotten better, it has, but not much. (I'm about a year off mirtazapine and probably didn't taper long enough.) Oh, one other thing: Try to relax your shoulders when noises get irksome. Tension seems to lead to more tension.

 

Will be glad to discuss this some more either on this forum or by PM. Best wishes.

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MissSerene

I also feel like someone has turned the dial WAY up on my irritation and anger...every little thing sets me off (in my mind, not too much out loud). Hoping this will get better, too. Wish I had good suggestion...Like the one above about relaxing the shoulders.

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tntd

I find that a lot of motion around me causes my anxiety to escalate. Sometimes my husband comes around a corner and it scares the heck out of me. Or if he touches me and I'm not expecting it. Noises also increase my anxiety. 

 

I've just started my WD journey and I unfortunately had to cold turkey off of Buproprione because of akathisia. The medicaiton they gave me to stop it made me depressed so there was no slow going. I am hoping this hypersensitivity to things doesn't last too long as I have found myself mostly hiding in the basement rec room because it has less light, motion, and sound. 

 

I'm also glad to know I'm not the only one who obsesses about my WD symptoms. I also obsessively search for ways to reduce them.

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Help777

Does anyone find social stimulation very upsetting? My limit seems to be one hour of being able to talk to someone or be in a group setting before I become extremely agitated. Then my response is to cry or feel very angry, perhaps due to a flight or fight activation within me from the social activity? I hardly recognize this person I've become. I used to love being with friends. Now it just upsets me too much. Will this get better? Can anyone relate?

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Ibid

I certainly felt that way, but sensitivity to both social stimulation and noises have gotten much better. Not back to normal, but better. Hope time heals your issues, Help777.

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Help777

I couldn't find anything on social stimulation on SA...just overstim to light, sound. Yesterday was my first group social outing. It was a bbq for my son's sports team. I shouldn't have stayed for four hours. I felt some fatigue, anxiety while there but I thought I would be ok. I came home and cried, sobbed, couldn't calm down. Slept worse than usual. Woke up feeling more panic and anger and agitation. Why would I cope ok during the event but unravel afterwards, taking a long time to recover frim this? It helps to hear others suggestions and experience. Thank you.

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tntd

Hi Help777,

 

I am having this issue right now too. Some days are better than others but it is bad enough that I mostly just stay in my house where I don't have much stimulation of any kind. My response to what feels like excess stimulus is anxiety and crying. Of course frustration too because I want my life back. I just keep trying to hold on to responses like Ibid's that things will get better in time. 

 

My psychologist told me that when we are hypersensitive and we are out the sensations become cumulative so you may start out ok but over time it just gets to be too much. This made sense to me but it is hard to know when we are reaching our limit.

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Help777

I found this on psychologytoday.com and it helped me understand why it feels so upsetting to me to get overstimulated. Wondered if it would help others as well.

 

The second source of anxiety is over-stimulation. While anyone can become over-stimulated without being ill or injured, brain injury in particular highlights this anxiety response clearly. Our brains filter stimuli, focusing our awareness. When a person experiences a brain injury he may feel as if his ability to filter stimuli has gone haywire — as if he is in unmanageable contact with every source of stimulation, no matter how ordinary. Noise, music, conversation, touch, odors, sights can all feel overwhelming, and be experienced as too intense, uncontrollable and painful.

 

Stimulation winds us up and continuous stimulation keeps us wound up. The wind-up is physical as well as psychological. Muscles tighten into knots. Shoulders hunch. Our brains begin to hard wire patterns of response. Anxiety grows. We cope by becoming more and more alert. There is a pervasive but undefined sense that something is wrong and about to get much more wrong unless we "do something". We don't know what to do exactly and alertness increases as we try to figure out what we must do. We respond with alertness because we believe that if only we pay more attention and anticipate what will go wrong, the unknown threat will be averted. The problem with this approach, of course, is that the more alert we become, the more susceptible to over stimulation we become, and thus the our resulting anxiety becomes. Not the other way around. It's not preventing the undefined threat that will help us. What helps us is reducing the stimulation that initiated the wind-up in the first place.

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Altostrata

If there was a lot of noise, light, motion, shouting, etc. at this sports event, it could well be overstimulating.

 

If you're light-sensitive, you may wish to wear dark glasses whenever you're outside.

 

What is the link to that psychologytoday.com article? It's a good description of the mechanics of overstimulation.

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KarenB

I read this yesterday in the Limbic Kindling thread.  It goes a long way towards explaining increased sensitivity in w/d. 

 

The original link to the full article is broken, but Alto had later quoted this from the article:

It’s one of the most exciting concepts in neuroscience you’ve never heard of. And it’s becoming a key model being examined as a possible theoretical basis for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Recently, a leading researcher in CFS/ME, Dr Leonard Jason, has argued it provides a comprehensive model to explain CFS as well
....
Limbic  kindling  is  a  condition  where  either   repeated  neurological  exposure  to   initially  chronic  sub-­threshold  stimulus,  or  a  short-­term  high  intensity  stimulus  (eg   brain  trauma),  can  eventually  lead  to  persistent   hypersensitivity  to  the  stimulus.  

Kindling  was  originally  discovered  in  1967   by  Graham  Goddard,  who  was  studying   the  effects  of  electrical  stimulation  of  the   amygdaloid  complex  in  the  brain  in  learning   in  rats.(1)  He  found  that  after  long-­term,  low   intensity  intermittent  stimulation  from  electric   shocks  to  their  brains,  the  rats  began  to  have  spontaneous,  epileptic-­like  seizures  –  even   when  no  stimulation  was  given.  Goddard  also   found  he  could  create  similar  reactions  using   chemical  stimulation.

In  1970,  Gellhorn  suggested  that   under  prolonged  stimulation  of  the  limbic-­ hypothalamic-­pituitary  axis,  a  lowered   threshold  for  activation  could  occur.(2)  Girdano   et  al  in  1990  proposed  that  the  excessive   arousal  could  lead  to  an  increase  in  dendrites   of  the  limbic  system,  which  can  further   increase  limbic  stimulation  and  hypersensitivity   to  stimuli.(3)

Ashok Gupta was the first to propose a similar  theory  as  the  basis  for  CFS/ME  in   2002.(4)  (A  diagram  from  his  paper  is  below).   Based  on  the  work  of  Le  Doux  in  the  ‘90s  (5),   Gupta  suggested  that  an  infectious,  chemical   or  psychological  stressor  could  create  a  “cell   assembly”  within  the  unconscious  amygdala   and  that  these  cell  populations  are  particularly   resistant  to  extinction.  As  with  Goddard  and   Gellhorn,  this  again  implied  that  people  could   become  “hard-­wired”  to  respond  more  easily to stimuli and in turn find it more difficult to suppress the chronic stress or "fight or flight" response  established  by  Selye’s  classic   model  of  stress.(3-­5)

Where  limbic  kindling  takes  our   understanding  of  stress  to  new  levels  is  the   idea  that  this  kindling  leads  to  “hard-­wiring”   in  the  brain  for  an  unhealthy  response   to  stress.  This  was  boosted  by  a  2002   paper  in  the  British  Journal  of  Psychiatry,   where  a  systemic  review  of  brain  images   of  patients  with  PTSD  found  “increased   activation  of  the  amygdala  after  symptom   provocation”.(6)

In  2009,  Dr  Leonard  Jason  and   colleagues  suggested  that  chronic  long-­ term  hyperarousal  of  the  central  nervous   system  –  from  this  “kindling”  –  leads  to   chronic  sympathetic  nervous  system   arousal....

 

And these following links by GiaK are really encouraging: 

 

I posted the above PDF on Beyond Meds today...

 

these are my comments from that post:

 

This is a very interesting article. It’s in keeping with my posts on how the autonomic nervous system is impacted in psychiatric drug withdrawal and how that is similar in many different chronic illnesses. This piece goes into a deeper understanding of these issues.
 

The author concludes that healing from these illnesses requires tending to the whole body/mind/spirit complex. This has become very clear to me as I continue to heal.
 

Frankly it’s also clear to me that understanding a whole host of chronic illnesses from this perspective could change the face of medicine. Right now western medicine tends to treat these illnesses in ways that exacerbate them in the long run because they are only treating symptoms without an understanding of underlying issues.  Most MDs are completely clueless about all the factors mentioned in this article and are even dangerous for many of us. See:  We can know more about our bodies than our MDs do…trust that, develop it
 

This is the greatest and most profound lesson this illness has taught me. Having and healing from these illnesses offer a penetrating look into the nature of humans as holistic beings that exist as part of the world and greater universe.
 

So to repeat my mantra meme, Everything Matters. This idea also got extended into my memoir on Mad in AmericaMy healing has continued greatly since the writing of that article. See: I Actually Woke up This Morning Thinking I’d Arrived, I’m Well . . .

 

see post here: http://wp.me/p5nnb-aLI

Follow those links in GiaK's blog to find the stuff on ways to heal these things.  Particularly a type of meditation called Brainsculpting.  I spent most of yesterday learning about it, because it's such a hope-filled understanding. 

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