Thursday, December 28, 2017

Twenty Seventeen

It's December 28, which feels like a good day for a little end-of-the-year reflection. I have no idea where this will go, which is fitting, considering that most of 2017 was completely unpredictable. Looking back, I recall a big mess of messiness.

I started the year as an Interim Director at my alma mater, where I had recently earned my Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership and Policy Development. After working most of my adult life in Higher Education I still had a passion for University life, but by the time my contract had ended in January my gut was telling me that it was time for a break. There was a feeling of my life being out of sync, if that makes sense. Having just spent around ten years taking classes, teaching classes, and doing research, I was physically and spiritually exhausted, living with fatigue that was making an eight hour work day close to impossible.

It felt necessary to focus on my health. Working with a team of professionals, and doing my own research into what I had been experiencing, I soon received a diagnosis that would bring much of my life into focus. I had been living with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). I won't go into too much detail about CPTSD here, since there are plenty of online resources that explain it much better than I can. One of most helpful things that I've learned about CPTSD is that it is more of an injury to the brain than it is a mental illness. Of course most CPTSD survivors live with mental illness symptoms, including depression and anxiety. Treating CPTSD, however, can be far more complicated than the treatment of its individual symptoms.

From March until August my life focused on learning about, and treating, my CPTSD. There is no cure for those of us who live with Post-Traumatic Stress, but with time, patience, and dedication we can learn new ways of processing life events.  I am very happy to say that as of this writing my life is far more manageable than it was 10-12 months ago.

It was around August that I started getting the itch to work, even though I was not well enough to take on a 40+ hour work week.  As a way to generate some income I set up shop on eBay and began selling records online. My therapist jokingly suggested that I call the shop Dr. Jeff's Fancy Vinyl, and a business was born. Within a month I incorporated Jeff's Fancy Vinyl, LLC, and created a new online record shop: jeffsfancyvinyl.com. Between August and December my sales have more than doubled, as I continue learning the ins-and-outs of running my own business. "Small Business Owner" has certainly never been on my professional radar, but for right now it serves me well. I work when my body and mind are at their best, which is usually in the mornings and prior to bed. I take breaks whenever necessary, and if I need a sick day there is no shame or guilt - I just do what I need to do.

It hasn't been easy, but in 2017 I have learned ways to integrate self-compassion into my life. For the most part I approach 2018 with a healthy dose of optimism and confidence.  In closing this post, I raise a glass to whatever the new year brings. I hope it's all sunshine and rainbows, but whatever 2018 throws at me I feel more prepared than ever before. Bring it on. You heard me.

Peace and happiness -

~Dr. Jeff


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dr. Jeff's Fancy Vinyl, LLC.

It's been eight months since the completion of my last contracted position in academia. Since then, my health challenges have made full-time employment an unrealistic expectation. A couple of months ago I started feeling the urge to work, even though I knew I was not physically ready for a 40-hour work week.  So what could I do part-time to generate some income, something that would get me moving and feeling productive again?  

Sell records. 

Within weeks I had set up shop on eBay and incorporated my own small business: Dr. Jeff's Fancy Vinyl.

Right now I'm six weeks in, spending about 20-30 hours a week getting this project up and running. I schedule my own hours and I'm surrounded by vinyl every day. I don't know how long I'll pursue this new venture, but for the time being I'm having a pretty fun time with it.

Visit my shop at: eBay.com/usr/jeffsfancyvinyl
Follow me on Instagram: jeffsfancyvinyl

Thursday, August 03, 2017

EMDR

Yesterday I had my first official EMDR session. The science behind any treatment involving the brain fascinates me. Over the past several weeks my therapist and I have dedicated our sessions to laying a foundation for the work we began yesterday, and now it's full steam ahead.

EMDR uses Bi-Lateral Stimulation to engage both the left and right sides of the brain to process past trauma.  The ongoing trauma that stemmed from alienation has been a major component of the CPTSD that I've lived with for decades. Hence, it made sense that my first session would focus on my pre-teen years, back when my early experiences with alienation started.

At the conclusion of our session, my therapist explained that my brain will continue to process the intense emotions that I re-experienced during the session.  I, on the other hand, can choose to not spend any time processing it. I get a free pass. I think the idea behind this is to prevent any re-traumatization.

I could write much more, but I choose not to process any more at this time.  I will say that I am optimistic about the relief that potentially lies in my future.  Hope.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

"I Wanna Get Better"

Life is some crazy shit sometimes.

Since my last post I have begun treatment for CPTSD, which has been eye-opening, affirming, and at times incredibly difficult.  On the positive side, I am learning about emotional flashbacks, my personal triggers, and strategies that help to manage the challenges of living with past trauma.  Not surprisingly, the process of digging into my past has been like picking a scab, or re-breaking a limb.  This week I became so overwhelmed that my therapist suggested I take a week off.  I may have been trying to process too much too quickly, to the point where I was being re-traumatized.  As a result, the first three days of this week were extremely difficult to get through.

Over the past few months I have also been undergoing daily TMS sessions.  TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, a relatively new form of treatment for folks like myself who have not responded to traditional therapies (i.e. medicine). As of this writing I've had 38 sessions, and have seen improvement.  My hope is that my continued therapy, combined with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) will provide relief and a chance at a "normal" life, or at least a new normal that includes a happier version of me.

I have chosen, for the time being, to not be employed.  I want to be at my best (whatever that looks like) before I dive back into the working world.  I will probably seek part-time work, at least to start.  I thank God that my husband is working and is supportive of all I am doing to achieve wellness.  The academic in me has been writing about the process.  Organizing the past fifty years into chapters, sub-sections, etc. has been a helpful way for me to understand the role that trauma has played in my life as someone living with Complex PTSD.

I realize that I am in the eye of the hurricane right now.  My life is in transition, and I can only guess how things will be when the next phase begins.  I definitely have a new appreciation for the term "blind faith"!   I'm living through it, though - and right now, today, I am OK.

Thx for reading.  PEACE.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

RSD 2017

My 2017 RSD want list
Yesterday was the 10th annual Record Store Day. The hubs and I ventured out to just two stores and we had a downright festive time. The sun was shining, making it a beautiful day for standing outdoors, in line with other record enthusiasts (aka nerds).  The RSD gods must have been smiling on us, because after only a few hours I went home with everything on my list (I don't think I've achieved this feat once over the past decade).

It's been a thrill to witness the re-birth of vinyl over the past 10-15 years.  One thing that I am sure of is that none of this would have been possible without the existence of brick & mortar stores, which will always be the cultural epicenter for experiencing recorded music.  Let's keep our indie record stores alive!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hello, 2017

Was surprised to learn that I've not posted an entry here in nearly three months.  Long time no see.  Hope you are all well.

A quick recap of what's been happening, for anyone interested:

  • My interim Program Director position at my Alma Mater ended two months ago.  So, I am currently on the market again.  
  • I've been wrestling with depression and anxiety (again) for the past few months.  The good news is that my quest for answers (and the help of a fantastic therapist) has led to a diagnosis of Complex PTSD.   The more that I learn about C-PTSD, the more I grow to understand most of my adult life.  This gift of sense-making has been life changing.  There's lots of work ahead, but if all of the empirical research on this condition is true, my efforts will result in a much happier existence.   
  • I learned just last week that my band WORDS has been chosen with 24 other bands to be featured on a super cool Monkees Tribute disc that is coming out soon by the equally cool 7a Records (see artwork below).  All proceeds from the CD and digital download will go to the Davy Jones Equine Memorial Foundation
    Listen to the Bands: The Ultimate Monkees Tribute Album (2017)
  • WORDS are also working on a track for an upcoming tribute to The Knack, which is being produced by Zero Hour Records.  I'll post more about this (and the Monkees disc) as their release dates approach.  Once these tributes are completed I'm hoping that the band can get started on recording one or two of the original songs we've got stockpiled.  
I know there is more that I could write, but I think this is enough for today.  

PEACE
Jeff