Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IWSG ~ My Rough Draft and My Migraines

Before I do anything else, I want to encourage you to play along in Battle of the Bands. The song for this battle is Time After Time, made famous by Cyndi Lauper. I have three different covers duking it out in this battle. Right now the separation by the top two is just ONE VOTE. And Miles Davis is doing pretty well with 4 votes. He is trailing the leader by only THREE VOTES. This is a close race, so get over there and put in your two cents by voting for YOUR favorite. You can CLICK HERE.

Today is the first Wednesday of the month and that means it is time for insecure writers everywhere to share their fears with the world. Alex J. Cavanaugh started the IWSG and his awesome co-hosts areTina Downey, Elsie, Elizabeth Seckman, and Julie Flanders! Please visit and thank them for helping today. You can CLICK HERE if you want to join the Linky List.

I am closing in on actually finishing my very first ever rough draft. What am I NOT insecure about these days? Right. I am one huge ball of nerves and insecurity. Once that rough draft is done everyone says the Real Work begins. Say what? Real work? This has been worse than giving blood. You mean that my rough draft sucks lemons and I am going to have to really work it over? Yeah probably. Fabulous.

Things we've never done before are scary. 

When we are stuck in a bad rut, and have been for a long time, it is scary. I mean, if we knew how to get out... we would. If we truly understood how we got here, we wouldn't make this sort of choice again. It's all muddled and unclear and worst of all... seems unending.

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time is familiar with the fact that I have chronic migraines. Back in the late 90s I started getting them sporadically. After I got married, I got them much more often (this just sounds dumb every time I say it now) and after my then-husband's young children moved in with us full-time, I got them daily. Painfully. It was and wasn't the kids. They had major issues from living with their bio mom, but the bigger problem was that their father didn't do anything outside of his comfort zone. He had no experience with raising kids... so that was outside his comfort zone. And anything over that line, he backed away from it, held up his hands, and insisted that someone else take over.

We were married three years. By the end of that time, I was so sick that I had to divorce or die. That was really where I felt I was. My mom was convinced that I was going to die. I'd gone from a successful career in commission sales to spending the bulk of my time in bed trying not to throw up with my head pounding so loud that... I admit it, I wanted to die. I wasn't going to kill myself, but if one of those big holes opened in the ground swallowing my house,  well that would have been a miracle. The good kind. Yeah, that was where I was mentally. So sick I wanted to die.

Fast forward to today. I found a new doctor who referred me to a tapping therapist, changed my diet to NO processed foods and more veggies, and has pretty well weaned me off of most prescription drugs. I am still on a few. I still have migraines. But not severely like I did. Things are getting better. There is nothing else my doctor can do for me physically.

My therapist suggested I read a book by Michael Schubiner, M.D. called Unlearn Your Pain. He says that anyone with chronic pain (and no tissue disorder) has Mind Body Syndrome. Our minds are powerful. So powerful that thoughts manifest themselves in our bodies. For instance, we are embarrassed and we blush. That is something happening in the mind producing a physical response in the body. Other responses like migraines, back pain, neck pain, fibromyalgia, gastro disorders, and more, are more difficult to trace back to the mind... unless you know how to do it.

So, I worked the sheets in the workbook. Wrote down the earliest date I had headaches, stomach issues, dizziness, migraines, and on and on. Then, I had to figure out if ANYTHING traumatic happened to precede these events. Or about the same time. Woah.

Back in 2010, I wrote several times about the hell that was junior high school. I was really trying to sort through my emotional stuff. I knew I had junk in the trunk and releasing it was the only way out. Except I didn't. Release that is. So... junior high school.

Junior high was a nightmare. Our school was a merger of the richest kids in town and those of us living at the lower middle class level. The rich kids bullied the rest ceaselessly. Obviously, some bullies were worse than others. One had it in for me for three years. It felt like arming for war every day those three years. An unwinnable war. That was when the vicious headaches began and I felt sick to my stomach after every meal. Core issues of junior high: I was abused. I was trapped. I lost my voice. I lost my confidence. Nothing I did was ever good enough.

My marriage was a nightmare. It was a merger of someone who nurtured and gave and someone who took. The taker was never happy with the amount given and always wanted more. The taker verbally and emotionally abused constantly. It felt like arming for war every day. An unwinnable war. That was when the migraines began and the nausea had me throwing up constantly. Core issues of my marriage: I was abused. I was trapped. I lost my voice. I lost my confidence. Nothing I did was ever good enough.

Sound familiar? I was married three years to the day.

As soon as I connected these dots, my migraines started to get just a bit better. I still have issues to work out and release.

Living with a constant migraine has been scary. For the longest time it didn't seem like it would ever get better. No one had any answers. Doctors just kept throwing medication at it. But nothing changed. When something stays the same long enough, the idea trickles in that it might never change. This actually might be your life for the rest of your life. That is scary. I refused to accept that and kept looking for someone with a better answer. Eleven years later I believe I've found it.

I'm not saying I want to be working on this WiP for eleven years. But I know that I can conquer scary things. Because I already have.


  1. You are in a much better place now and can see all the causes.
    If it makes you feel better, I think the first draft is the worst part. Editing is easy. Maybe it will be for you as well.

  2. Here's to overcoming the impossible beast! I know what you mean about that first draft and how incredible it is to be reaching the end. It's been a while since I hit that point, but I always tell people the hardest part of writing is completing that first book. As soon as you've done that, you know you can, even if you have to rework it a thousand times, you have the confidence of being able to write a book. And you will finish another. And another. And another, and each one becomes a little easier.

  3. I totally believe in the mind-body connection. It's great that you were referred to a great book that unlocked all that stuff.

    Your very first, first draft. Wow. That's great. I've written several first drafts that will never see the light of day. In fact, I think I've burned/shredded them. They were horrible. But I was in my early 20s when I wrote them. Good lessons, but not very good writing.

  4. I'm editing too and can't stand the process. I'm sure it has more to do with it being my first time than anything else. Once I have the knack for it, I think it will go smoother.

    Migraines suck - especially when there is an underlying cause contributing to them. I'm glad yours are a bit better now.

    AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge
    co-host IWSG

  5. l'm going to forego my usual silly comments and just say that this was very touching, and I hope you continue getting through bad days.

    We all have to find our own way of coping with the troubles, and it sounds like you're on to something in your life. Good luck on the rough draft, and I can't wait to read what you're working on.

  6. Hi, Robin,
    Thanks for sharing. I imagine that many of us suffer mind/body based illness and have no idea what's going on. Happy you made the connection and the changes you needed to. Sound like you've had an extremely tough time for way too long.

    I didn't know that there were any other versions of Time After Time, but Cyndi Lauper's. I need to get out from under my rock more. :)

  7. They say a lot of our illnesses and problems start in the mind. I've worked two different jobs that literally made me sick, the last one with sinus headaches. Quitting was the best thing for my body.

  8. Well, that was certainly self-revelating and very vividly written. I was starting to feel sick just reading it. Of course I'm easily influenced too.

    Glad you've come to a better place in your life. And how exciting to be in the stage of your book that you're in now. Things should keep getting better for you.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  9. I believe the first draft is the hardest. Don't fret, take it easy. Yes, there's plenty of work ahead, but you hit the ground running so to say. Now it's piecework, and if you're diligent and have a beta reader to help or critique partner, it should go quicker. My migraines stem from reading and writing too much. You need to breathe.( I like to give advice rather than take it)

  10. Alex ~ Yes, I am finally putting together the pieces of WHY I got sick and STAYED sick. It has been quite a journey. As for my rough draft... I already know that once I "finish" I am going to have to make some serious changes. Kind of like what you mentioned on your blog. Adding, deleting, maybe even plot changes...

    Crystal ~ I think I am dragging my feet a bit on finishing because the next step feels overwhelming right now...

    Jay ~ Yes, it is pretty big. First rough draft complete. It will be thrilling when it happens!

    Elsie ~ It's been a long time coming... the getting here... but I am beyond happy.

    Briane P ~ Thank you for that. These have been some hard revelations to face. But, not looking at what is real doesn't make it less so. And I will be asking for Crit Partners when I feel this thing is ready. Maybe you will want to be one????

    JL ~ I think more people have serious Mind Body problems than we can guess. The author of this book says that everyone has them to a degree. Some are debilitating and some are not. The people who are still functional aren't even looking for help.

    Diane ~ I can see that I don't need to convince you of the truth in Mind Body Syndrome... you've experienced it firsthand.

    Arlee ~ Well, I didn't mean to make you ill! The goal was to enlighten people. Thank you for the well wishes!

    Cathrina ~ Piecework. I will tell myself that when I start to have an anxiety attack...

  11. I'm so sorry to hear about your migraines. I hope the doctor's and therapist's suggestions help you. I'm so happy you're almost finished with your WIP. Woohoo! That will be something to celebrate. Take every moment you can to celebrate because there's always more work around the corner. Great post!

  12. Some days the mosi any of us can do is to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    You can do this, just keep going. The good news is you're almost done with that all important first step.

  13. Anyone who underestimates the mind's control of the body is a fool. Unfortunately, many people also assume we can easily control our minds (i.e. there's nothing wrong with you, it's all in your head). Kudos to you for battling back.

    Have fun with your editing. These are your words. You can do with them as you choose.

  14. Yes, Robin. If you can get through that, editing your draft will be a breeze. I have faith in you. Besides, the editing can be lots of fun. Don't worry about it. Enjoy it!

  15. It's great you've been able to find a way to manage the migraines. They truly can be terrible things.

  16. Many, many congrats on closing in on that rough draft. And the poster...perfect.

  17. ROBIN (My Sistuh!) ~

    That quote you ended this blog bit is pretty damned great! (Loved it.)

    You already know that I often leave some of the longest comments in the Blogosphere. (I might actually even be #1 when it comes to that. If not #1, certainly in the Top Three.)

    This one's going to be short, sweet, and... a bull's-eye...

    Please honor my request by following the steps I outline below.

    First, I want you to watch ALL of the movies I sent to you.
    (Why? Because after you have seen them all, even if there is one or two you don't particularly care for, you will have gained a greater appreciation for my recommendations.)

    Second - ONLY after you have watched all the movies I sent to you - I want you to go to the following website:

    Third, I want you to consider purchasing the product mentioned at that website. Just "consider" it... even pray about it, perhaps, if you're comfortable with that. (But I repeat(!)... do not go to that website until AFTER you have seen all the movies I sent you. That is all I axe o' ya.)

    And, yes, all of this DOES pertain to the very things you wrote about in this blog bit.

    Yak Later...

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  18. Hi Robin,

    You've been through a nightmare. And too many folks will not get out of a comfort zone. Actually, I think of it more as an uncomfortable, comfort zone. I understand how such stress from your former hubby could impact on your right to a positive environment. My confidence was completely destroyed when my wife got pregnant and I wasn't the father. That would be the second child she told me she never wanted to have.

    Your migraines and "Unlearn Your Pain." Indeed, dear lady, the mind, the body and past traumas, are all interconnected. The mind is powerful tool for negative and positive.

    You challenge your fears. You defy the uncertainty and your held is held high. Keep that editing going. Your writing passion is abundantly clear in your posting.

    With admiration and respect,


  19. I'm so excited for you that you're about to finish your first ever rough draft - you are going to feel so good when you do. :) I'm sorry you had to go through all that but happy that you have figured some of it out and still doing so. I love the quote!

  20. I hold my paw on my chest when I say I understand you perfectly well, Robin. I know what chronic illness are, what does it feel when you're told you're gonna deal with it for the rest of your life, and the helplessness of doctors when the source of your illness is beyond physical. It is evident that the challenge is ours and only ours to fix. Not an easy thing at all, least when the roots go deep deep down, buried and nearly forgotten.

    I'm glad you've had an eye opener and that you're improving. Really glad. It takes a great deal of courage to do that, and few understand how difficult it is to unlearn and let go. I salute you and I pray you keep getting better and understanding yourself more and more, until you're completely healed. Dragon Hugs!

  21. Lexa ~ Always more work around the corner... woohoo!

    FAE ~ Have you got that right. It feels like the last 10+ years have all been about just getting by. One foot in front of the other. So nice to see some light at the end of that tunnel.

    LD ~ You have hit on a very important point. The pain is real. It isn't in your head. So few doctors understand how to "cure" anything that isn't tissue based. It is relief to find someone who has successfully helped people get beyond managing their pain, to eradicating their pain.

    Liza ~ So you are saying that instead of dreading finishing that rough draft - because I know I will then edit edit edit - I should cheerfully step up to the plate and finish it so that I can move on to the fun editing part of this process. Got it.

    Lynda ~ Chronic pain is a life stealer. Plain and simple.

    Sandra ~ I'm not done with it... but I am closing in.

    Stephen ~ I can rival you on the long comment. Okay, maybe you have me beat... but not by much! I am working on the movies. I will let you know when I have watched them all and THEN visit that site. I can't wait to see how this all ties in to my migraines (aka mind body syndrome).

    Gary ~ Yes, I knew that you would understand this post. Emotional pain does so much damage and it wreaks physical havoc. I wish people better understood the trauma that they inflict. Perhaps they would wield their Word Sword more carefully.

    Kimberly ~ Thank you. This book has felt like a gift.

    Al ~ Ah, my dragon friend.... doctors do the worst sort of damage when they start talking about "managing your pain." I wish they all were required to read this book... because then they would act accordingly. Instead, they would refer you to someone who could actually help you to understand Mind Body Syndrome. I think it is the most widespread undiagnosed illness around.

    1. ROBIN ~
      Yeah, we both know I have you beat, but... you probably ARE also in the Top Three.

      What I am directing you to won't be clear at first. In fact, I think it will probably seem like propaganda. But I sincerely believe it can (and probably will) change... EVERYTHING.

      And I can even loan it at no cost to you. Nothing to buy, no refund to request.

      Although, if it's the cure you've been looking for, massive monetary donations sent to me in unmarked bills will be gratefully accepted... and spent on Bombay gin, like it's a going-out-of-style sin.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

  22. It sounds as if you have come SUCH a long way in understanding your body, your pain, and your psyche. After surviving junior high and a toxic marriage, you are not going to be taken down by your own WIP!

    Some people blithely spew out a first draft, then tear out their hair revising it. Others go bald beating that first draft out one painful chapter at a time, then happily revise it piece by piece. For me, the first draft is the hardest. After that, I'm a serial reviser. I revise fast, but repeatedly -- going through it over and over and over until I'm satisfied.

    You will find your own process, but don't let anybody psych you into illness and pain by telling you how you should feel about what you wrote.

  23. First off, congrats on that rough draft!! When you're totally finished, then the fun part begins :D

    I think I've commented before that I used to be a sufferer of migraines and I believe anxiety was a partial cause. As I hit puberty, I think my body chemistry changed and I stopped having them. I still get the occasional headache, but it's nothing some Advil can't cure. I wish you the best in your therapy and keep smiling!

  24. I'm so glad that you've finally found the right treatment for both body and soul. You've been through so much, and you are wise to attack your pain from the inside out. Congrats on completing your rough draft! Thanks for sharing your story, and I wish you all the best in your ongoing recovery, Robin.


  25. I love that quote and your attitude. You've turned a corner and are heading towards more and more brightness, Robin.

    I'm also wrapping up a rough draft and scared about what people call the "real work." But drafting is "real work."

    Another note, as I was reading this, I was thinking that you might like the book Full Catastrophe Living by John Kabat-Zinn. Have you heard of/read it?

    Be well, my friend.

  26. Good lord wonder you read my blog. We are the same...your migraines-my eating.

  27. Stephen ~ For some people with chronic illness the Mind Body Syndrome seems like propaganda. So many people have been chronically in very real pain for so long that the idea that emotional junk is the root of it... well, it hits a bit close to home that it's all in your head (aka not real). This doctor assures you right off the bat that the pain is very real. It just doesn't have to be chronic or managed. If you do the work, you can get rid of it. And when it comes back, and it probably will, since this world isn't getting any kinder and gentler... it will be easier to source the problem and get rid of the pain. Just because an idea hasn't been embraced by mainstream society doesn't mean it is not true. Someone I know has something like that at the top of his blog....;)

    Dianne ~ You got that right! I am going to finish it!!! I am also going to use some of your ideas that you put out there about how to track what is going on in your plot to help get the pacing so that it works. Thank you so much for sharing that information!

    Mark ~ Not done yet, but so close... Yes, I remember you saying that you had migraines as a young person. I would say that your chemistry changed or whatever was stressing you stopped. Either way, glad you don't suffer with them any longer.

    Julie ~ Thank you. I will probably post more about it, because I tend to get excited about these sorts of things.

    Robyn ~ No, I haven't read that book, though I just wrote it down on my ongoing list of things I want to read. Thanks!

    Christine ~ Ah girl, I have been trying to find a way to say that for years!

  28. Dear Robin... what a wonderfully assertive post!!

    For one, I AM secure in my own insecurities... ;oD

    I am so glad that you are making headway with your migraines... I know that they have been so difficult for you...

    I hope all is well with you, dear...


  29. I had bad headaches with occasional migraines for years with my second marriage and they disappeared within a month of me making him leave. Now I only get them if the hayfever is very bad, from the sinus pressure. Such a relief not to be swallowing truckloads of pills every week.
    On to the good stuff.
    Woo-Hoo for your book! Congratulations on making it this far and I hope from now until publication goes well for you. :)

  30. Shoes ~ :) Yes, things are improving here!

    River ~ Your migraines are the perfect example of the power of the mind and the affect on the body. And, yes, it is nice to see that Finish Line for the rough draft in sight. Woohoo.

  31. Wow oh wow what a post! Thanks for sharing with us. I think that must have been kinda hard. I'm so glad you're where you are now. I have to say, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Eva Cassidy and have for many years. I found her only after she'd died and I thought it such a waste that she was gone but was also very thankful for all the recording she left to us. She will live on in our minds and hearts. YOU go girl! It's true about the editing part, but after what you've gone through I have no doubt you will slam dunk it. Came over from Write to Left and IWSG!


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