Phantom of the Opera New US Tour - Act Two Review
As mentioned for my Act One post, this is a copy/paste of what is on FB...

New Phantom Tour - Act Two
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Writer's Block: Multiple Personalities
Wow - I assume this question is meant as an attempt at some sort of clever humour?

My mother has Multiple Personailty Disorder (or Disocciative Identity Disorder), as a result of abuse she suffered in her childhood. The disorder became most apparent when she was approaching 40, and I was probably about 13. As you can imagine, my mothers struggle through treatment had a huge impact on our entire family. I spent a great deal of time caring for my mother and younger sister, while my father was avoiding the situation.

This is a real disorder that has a real impact on people's lives. So, while I'm sure this was intended to be 'funny' I hope you can understand that those of us who have had to live with this find it less than amusing. Not only do we live with the impact on the illness to our loved ones and ourselves, but we also have to struggle against society's prejudices against mental illness, and those who think it's okay to 'make fun' of the condition, or doubt it even exists.

I seriously doubt (or at least sincerly hope) you wouldn't post such a supposedly 'light hearted' comment about depression, eating disorders, OCD or any other host of real, actual mental illnesses. I would ask you to have the same consideration for MPD/DID.

My story - for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week
This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. It's brought up a lot of thoughts, feelings, and memories.

This May will mark one year since I graduated from the hospital treatment program. One year, after suffering on and off for varying degrees for twenty years. It's been wonderful and liberating, but also strange and scary. Once you've had an ED it will never really be gone. It's like an addiction, like drugs or alcohol. It will also be something you have to be cautious about, you always have to keep your guard up or it can come back. I can never go on a diet, I am not even supposed to eat 'diet' foods, I'm supposed to follow a prescribed meal plan every day, and when I am running (as I do) I have to make sure I add extra food depending on how long I've run. Not a strict meal plan, per se, but I am supposed to have a certain number of servings of food groups for each mail or snacks taken at measured intervals throughout the day. Even though I am now healthy and eat 'normally' I still have the mental checklist of what to eat running through my head every day - even just a little, even when I don't really notice. It will probably always be there.

The other ladies I knew through treatment have been doing a lot of ED awareness this week. They're a tough group of girls - I'm very proud of how well they're all doing still. It's been good to see and hear so much from them this week. I know it isn't easy for us at times, and it feels better knowing we're all out there for each other - even if we don't talk as often these days.

I started reading a blog that one of them had posted. It was written by someone who had an ED, about their experience. I thought, I've never done something like that. Maybe I should. Maybe it would be good for me, or maybe it could be informative for someone else. I don't know. I guess I just felt compelled, so I thought I would try. And I apologize in advance if this becomes long, or if it seems like too much - I just feel like I need to get this out tonight.

My story:
It started when I was about eleven years old. I realized when I wasn't a kid anymore I would have to worry about being fat. My mom and my friends moms worried about it. They went on diets and exercised. I would have to start worrying about those kinds of things too. I started taking 'healthier' lunches to school. Pita with lettuce and fig newtons instead of cookies.

My mom became very sick when I was about 13, which lasted through my high school and university years. She has multiple personality disorder, as she was abused during childhood. It's a mental illness that develops as a coping mechanism. I know I've written about it before. When my mom got very sick, she didn't eat very much. She lost a lot of weight. I was very stressed at that time too. She couldn't really take care of my sister and I the way she had before. My dad didn't know how to cope, and he was at work a lot of the time anyway. I was taking care of my sister, my mom, and myself. All while staying on the honour role, swimming competitively, running, taking dance and music lessons, and participating in theatre.

The ED got worse in high school. There was a lot of pressure to be 'perfect'. Not so much from my family (who, despite things being crazy, I loved very much - and I know they loved me), but from society in general. Ann Arbor is a city of very high standards where kids are expected to get good grades, participate in extra curricular activities, and go to university once they graduate high school. I didn't want to be anything less than expected, so I tried very hard.

By Junior year, I was eating a piece of toast for breakfast, a baggie of cereal before lunch, orange juice after school, and a sandwich for dinner. I don't know how I continued doing all the things I did. I felt so sick by the end of the day. Show choir - my last class, I always felt so light headed. I lost 20 pounds. I looked at photos from my theatre programs. People like Sarah Brightman, she was so thin and I so wanted to be in Phantom someday, just like her.

I went to treatment for the first time in high school. I can't remember why anymore. I don't recall being confronted by my parents or teachers. None of my friends asked why I didn't eat lunch. Sadly, it wasn't so terribly uncommon. I think I may have complained of a stomach ache a lot - I think I was scared, and I ended up going to a therapist, and diagnosed with clinical depression. Not surprising, I suppose, it runs in my family and goes hand in hand with ED. The therapist was so kind and caring. She worried about me with my family, and I remember she told me if I ever needed her, even if I didn't have an appointment, I could call her and she would meet me for coffee. I didn't do it, though I thought it was nice of her to offer. I was afraid to presume.

I got a bit better by the time I started university, thanks to a nutritionist I worked with my senior year in high school. She had recovered from an ED, and she was so strong and beautiful. She taught me not to be afraid of food, and I thought if she could eat things and be okay I could do it too. The ED came and went through my time at MSU. Not surprising, as I was a theatre major and dance minor. For months I would be fine, but there were also stretches of time where I skipped breakfast, drank diet shakes and took diet pills. I felt awful during those times, but managed to pull myself back out.

It continued on and off like this for years. Sometimes I would be fine for months, and eat pizza and not worry too much. But then I'd slip back again for months at a time. I lost a lot of weight when I was going through Canadian immigration. I remember having to put lotion on my hip bones because they rubbed on my jeans. I look at our wedding photos and wonder how my collar bones stuck out so far. I was okay for awhile in Utah, and then regressed when I got my first professional acting job. I saw the skimpy costumes I had to wear for dancing and starting working out even more, skipping lunch, and filling up on a latte on my way to rehearsal. I know the other dancers looked at my tummy in my costume and compared themselves to me.

Just typing this makes my heart fill with sadness, anger, and loathing. It makes me feel like I was such a bad, dishonest, selfish person. I didn't try to be. I worked very hard, holding down up to three jobs at one point. I spent time with my family and friends. I did extra work at the theatre, just to help out because I loved it there.

I experienced many of the typical side effects, but because I never got to an unnatural or unhealthy looking weight I could mostly hide it. No one really noticed that much. I lost my periods for years at a time. I had low blood pressure, and often got dizzy if I stood up too quickly. My nails were brittle. I was cold all the time. I couldn't sleep, even though I was often tired. I was depressed. My stomach couldn't digest food properly - it would sit like a painful lump because my stomach was trying so hard to hold on to it. It hurt. I would lose my train of thought mid sentence.

In 2009 I suffered a setback in recovering from a knee surgery, which in turn caused me to become depressed, which ED thrives on. I had to take a leave of absence from work. I was put on anti-depressants that made me feel nauseous, and I started throwing up. Every day. It had turned into a horrible, full blown bout of bulimia, which I had never experienced before. I would have a cup of tea at breakfast and a spoonful of peanut butter before heading to the pool or the gym. I would be so hungry by afternoon I'd end up eating two bowls of cereal and toast - and then throwing up. I could only keep down one meal a day, which was usually salad. I lost weight. I looked sick. I felt worse than I ever had. I hid everything from my friends and family. I hid food in my house. I wore layers of clothes. I was so very frightened, and I knew I wouldn't have any kind of future if I couldn't get it out of it. I couldn't be more than ED - I couldn't be a good wife, friend, daughter, worker, and I would never, ever be capable of having my own family. Physically or mentally.

I found a new doctor. She was wonderful. She actually listened to me and was kind and gentle when I explained, on my third visit in a month, when I finally had the courage, that I couldn't remember how to eat anymore. She put me on new medicine and referred me to a hospital program. The staff and other ladies there were so wonderful, I know without them I would never, ever have gotten better. I spent many hours with them in behavioural therapy, studying nutritional, actually eating, and just sharing and talking about life experiences. They taught me how to eat again - something that seems so natural and fundamental, I truly and honestly could not remember how it was supposed to work and how I was supposed to feel. They supported me, guided me, and held me hand through the whole process. I will be forever grateful to them for giving me my life back.

I wish I could go back in time to the 11 year old girl that I was and say that even though things will be hard and scary sometimes everything will be okay and I'll be fine. I have a good job, a loving family, and a wonderful, supportive husband. I'm moving into a new house and I'm well now so we can start our own family. There is an incentive to stay well when I know it isn't just for me, it's for everyone around me, and my future children.

It's been about a year now since the last time I had any ED symptoms, and I know I won't ever go back. I feel like I'm really living my life for the first time. I wish I could get back the twenty years that I had ED on my back, but I am grateful to be where I am now.

I know people may think it's weird that I talk about it as openly as I do now, but I think it's important for awareness and prevention. As an illness, it's much more prevalent, widespread, and hidden than people realize. With so much focus in media on dieting, being thin, being perfect, I think it's important to fight back with loud, rational voices of what is real, and what is actually important. I will talk openly about because even if I can't go back in time and warn my self I can stop someone else from throwing away years of their life.

Writer's Block: Universally speaking
If you could have a conversation with any animal in the world, living or dead (such as a childhood pet), which animal would you choose?

Is this meant to somehow imply that I am not already having conversations with my cats? I like to think we have some very lively and meaningful exchanges!

Writer's Block: Since you've been gone
Do you keep in touch with any of your exes on LiveJournal or other social networking sites? When an ex friends you, do you usually friend them back? Why or why not?

Boring answer, but no, I'm not in touch with any of my exes. For the most part it's because we're exes for a reason, and I don't really WANT to keep in touch with them (crazy stalker ex, I'm looking at you... or... the other way around, really.... O_o).

I do sometimes wish I could still be friends with Ty, who I dated for about 4 years through the end of High School and until my senior year at MSU. Not because I still have feelings for him or anything, but he was a really good friend and we had a lot in common. I actually broke up with him a few months before he was going to propose to me (I discovered later... :-/) Not because he was a bad guy at all, just that I felt that he was more like my best friend or, dare I say, like my twin, more than a boyfriend or husband. We had the exact same birthday, we looked alike, we grew up near each other (but went to different schools), we were both in theatre, we were both into skiing, he got along really well with my family and used to play video games with my sister for hours. LOL! Basically, he was just a really good guy and I wish we could still be friends because I'd like to know that he's happy somewhere, and that hopefully he met someone who really appreciates him. And maybe even has cute kids! I've never contacted him though, because I know I really broke his heart. He stayed in touch with my mom and sister for awhile, but once he found out I was engaged to Jeff he decided he really needed to 'get over it', so he went and travelled around Europe for awhile. I'd like to think he has mostly fond memories of us being together, but if it would cause him pain for us to be friends, then I won't do it. It would just be nice to know he's doing well.

Oh wait! I guess I do technically have one ex on my facebook! We dated for like three months my freshman year in high school, and then broke up - but I think we were together more as a security thing as freshmen in a new, giant school than anything else. I'm glad we dated, because it brought our groups of friends together, and we all stayed friends all through high school. He actually started dating one of my really good friends a few months later, and they were a much better fit than we ever were!

Wow, there's some rmable for the day, eh? I guess this counts as a contribution! And now, since I'm at the office, I should probably get back to some work...

Writer's Block: A show for all seasons
Which returning TV show are you most excited to see again? Which shows from last season are you going to miss? Are there any new shows that look promising?

I'm so looking forward to new episodes of House! Life just isn't quite as bright when Hugh Laurie isn't making regular appearances in my living room.... LOL!

Life in general...
Even though this has been a relatively short week, with Labour Day on Monday, it's really been a pretty big butt kicker! My company had our annual Team Canada meeting, which involves everyone from the Toronto, Montreal, and Western Canada regions getting together for two days. This year we held it in Toronto, which was convenient for me at least. It's actually quite fun, and so nice to see the rest of the team instead of just phone and email, but it's a lot of time. The meetings start at 8am, so I have to be in the office by 7 if I want to actually accomplish any real client based work. Even though we have breaks in the day it's only really long enough to read and sort my email but not act on any of it! Yesterday evening all of us went to dinner at the revolving restaurant in the CN Tower, which was AWESOME!!! I had so much fun! I hadn't been up in the CN Tower for at least a decade, and it was really a blast! It was a lot of fun hanging out with everyone too - we were laughing so hard we were crying! I didn't make it home until 9, which isn't late except that I'd gotten to work at 7am. Some of the girls in the office and I have decided we're going to institute Friday Night's Out on the last Friday of every month. That should be fun!

The meeting ended at 4:30 today, and I spent about half an hour checking emails before I decided I'd spent enough time at work and it was time to do something for ME. I went for my 8 mile training run, which felt really good since the weather has been crisp, cool, and fall-ish. The fact that it was overcast kept the sun off my skin and out of my eyes. It was a tough run, but fun - I can't believe I was able to maintain a 10min mile for 8 miles! It was a speedwork session, and I think it's the best pace I've maintained over a long distance since I lived in Utah. I was very pleased! And now my legs are sore and my tummy was a bit upset BUT it was completely worth it! I'm always so grateful just to be able to run again :-)

I'd better sleep well tonight...
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Writer's Block: Bye bye life!
If you could choose the manner in which you would ultimately die, would you? How would you want to depart this world?

I've actually thought about this and have decided I'd really like to be sucked up by a tornado. Yeah, that sounds weird, right? I've had a fixation with tornadoes since I was little, and I used to run out to the lawn when the sky turned green and the hail started falling to try and see the funnel cloud. My mom would yell 'Get in the basement!!!' Smart mom ;-) I still seem to dream about them all the time. I'm sure that means something, and I really should look it up. But really, if I knew the end was near, I think I'd like to be sucked up in a tornado so I could finally see one up close, see what it looks like on the inside. Wow, what a wild ride that would be!

I posted this on the Runners World Forum today - for other runners sidelined by injury/illness
Hello all,

I haven’t posted anything here for a long time, but now that I’m healthy again I thought I’d post a positive update for anybody dealing with being sidelined for a long time.

About three years ago, I suffered from a knee injury. It started as ITBS from overtraining. Then, on vacation, I slipped running in the rain and tore my meniscus. I did physio for about a year before being sent for surgery. The surgery itself went fine, but the hospital had been doing a study to perform knee surgery under epidural anesthetic instead of general. Mine didn’t seem to work, and they ended up putting me under general. When I went home, my mother (a nurse – she came over to help me post op) was looking at my back and noticed how many puncture marks there were from the repeated epidural attempts. I didn’t think much of it, until about 4 to 6 weeks after surgery when walking and standing became more and more difficult. I didn’t know at the time, but apparently I was born with a narrowing in my spinal canal, and the scar tissue and swelling from the needle punctures gradually cut off more and more of the nerve signal. It got to a point where I couldn’t walk down the street without falling over, I couldn’t stand – I was absolutely terrified. I had to take a leave of absence from my work. All I could do was go from specialist to specialist trying to figure out what was going on. 10 months after the surgery they finally tested the nerve signal in my back and figured out what had happened, but all I could really do was wait. The doctors weren't able to tell me if I would ever get better. In the meantime, I worked with several therapists to try and make things as functional and comfortable as possible.

The overtraining was a symptom of an eating disorder from which I’d suffered since I was 12 years old. I never looked really ‘unhealthy’, so although I’d gone through counseling and seen some doctors and dieticians it was never really successfully treated. I decided the physical and mental price I was paying was too high and found a new doctor who was wonderful, supportive, and caring. She referred me to a hospital treatment program for three months, and I will be forever grateful for the help I received there. I never knew how sick I was until I could look back on it from recovery, where I am now.

I’m not writing this because I want to 'vent' or seek attention. I posted here when I was really rock bottom and losing hope. I thought I would never get better. I thought I would be lucky to walk without a limp, let alone run.

Last month, I raced in a 10k in my hometown with my whole family watching and cheering. The tissues around the nerves in my back have finally healed, though it took a very long time. One leg is still about 10% weaker than the other, but it doesn’t stop me anymore. I’ve also maintained my recovery from the eating disorder and am happier and healthier now than I can remember being for a very, very long time. I'm currently training for a 1/2 marathon with my husband.

I just wanted to say to anyone out there who’s feeling like they’ll never run again, they’ll never get better – DON’T give up! You are not alone, and there IS hope.


So much to do before September!!!

Our minds are pretty much whirling with everything that needs to be done make this event in Pittsburgh a success. We have the basics which entails booking tickets, reserving a block of hotel rooms (possibly), a ‘party room’, finding a restaurant for dinner and brunch, checking in with the production company. Beyond that, we have ideas brewing for events but there are a lot of little things to plan for each to make them really special.

I’m just wondering (and here I am specifically looking at you, Phan Trio!) if we might be able to convince some of our phan friends to join in for some brainstorming?


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