Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Review: Silent Pain

I grabbed this book on a bit of an impulse. I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so a testimonial of somebody who has recovered completely from the condition is obviously going to be intriguing for me. That was the claim made, although a closer reading of the text made me realize that the author, Helen Germanos, had just barely recovered when she wrote the book and as I can tell her from bitter experience, relapses are all too common.

Silent Pain is short, only 81 pages, and some of that is just filler. Germanos gives a brief personal history, reviews the causes and symptoms of CFS (multiple, with a configuration that is different for each individual), and informs us, based on the reading of a single study, that the cause is damage to the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to virtually every system of the body. She then discusses treatment, with a very heavy emphasis on esoteric methods. I confess to a great deal of skepticism in this regard, but her point that among the multiple causes of CFS, emotional and spiritual problems could also play a significant role is well taken. I can't entirely dismiss her recommendations because she has made a remarkable recovery from a very severe case of CFS. I will mull the whole thing over. For what it's worth, I have also made a good partial recovery by discovering a couple of my root causes and dealing with them: a very severe iron deficiency and an undiagnosed intolerance to grains and legumes, especially wheat. I am still trying to pin down other causes, which explains my interest in this book.

Should you read it? Well, if you are relatively uninformed about CFS, it might be worth going over it so you can understand how diverse and multiple the causes can be and some of the channels worth exploring in seeking improvement. If talk of karma and chakras and subtle bodies turns you off, you had better not. That's where the bulk of the emphasis is. The book is not exhaustive, definitive, or authoritative, but as a summary of one person's experience, it is of some interest.

Disclaimer: I received a free temporary electronic copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Find me now at janetursel.com. Book reviews, flash fiction, and several ways to throw rocks at me.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Negativity and reality

Let me tell you what she's really like! Take a quick look at your thoughts right now. You don't know what I'm going to say next, but you are sure of one thing -- I am going to be dishing dirt. And why do you know that? Because you know, I know, everybody knows, that the dirty stuff is the real stuff. Good humour, charitable donations, devotion to family, talent: it all pales beside the dirt. That's what's real. Right? And yet it's a funny thing. None of us wants to be judged on those terms. When it comes to ourselves, we want the positives to weigh heavier in the balance. We want people to define us by our virtues, not our faults. And so I'm asking you -- and yes, I've done my own soul-searching on this matter -- how do you define the people closest to you? What would you say your husband is really like? Your boss? Your kids? Which are you more afraid of: being hopelessly naive or unjustifiably cynical? The chances are very, very good that the one you are the most afraid of is the one you are least in danger of. Try tilting the other way for a while. The perspectives you gain could be invaluable.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Two sides of the same coin

But have you ever tried to look at both sides at once?  Go ahead, I'll wait.

No, I can't either.  I can carry that coin in my pocket, wear it on a chain around my neck, pull it out and contemplate it as often as I like, I can still only actually SEE one side at a time.  The other side is always there, I always know it, but...  All I can do is flip it over regularly.

And when you think about it, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I pulled out the manuscript of my first novel the other day to get an idea of how hard I would have to work to bring it up to publishable standards.  And I fell in love with the darn thing all over again.  I kept saying, "I wrote that?" And glowing a bit. For a while I believed I actually had some talent.

Then I tried to work at my current manuscript.  And I felt like it stunk.  Granted, it's still at first draft stage and the first manuscript has been through several rounds of editing.  And there you have it, the two sides of the coin.  When I feel like I can't produce anything worth reading, I need to flip the coin and remember the proof that I can.  When I feel like a genius, I need to flip the coin and remember how hard I struggled to produce something worth reading.

And this applies to a lot more than writing or even evaluating our own capacities.  I'll bet you can think of two or three ways you can apply this in the real world, in your creative endeavours, wherever.  Tell me about it.

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