Monday, January 15, 2007

Faith, hope and … umm … what is that other thing again?

Stress! That is it, S T R E S S. Think about it. We will always have some degree of stress in our life. This is a perfectly natural state and is quite unavoidable. It is the ebb and flow of strength and fragility throughout our life. When we get really stressed out and our stress becomes distress, what is it that actually holds us together? Faith and hope are the two variables we tend to fall back upon. Although as individuals, we probably each go about things a little differently. Some folk choose to do things really differently to most and that is okay. Underlying feelings seem to be much the same though, even when expressed in different ways. Feelings of stress are the effects of strain. This strain may be physical, psychological or emotional. Sometimes, we experience a combination of all three.

Hopelessness! Despair! Depression! All pretty rotten kinds of feelings. Thoughts that sneak in at these times are invariably of the stinking thinking kind, to say the very least. These feelings and thoughts seem to go hand in hand with all kinds of stressors and crises during our lives. It is a natural reaction to seek emotional protection from any state of distress and hope for something better.

Hope and despair are at opposite positions on a continuum with varying degrees of happiness and depression in-between. Most of the time, we fit in there somewhere between hope and despair. When we are feeling the effects of stressful situations, it is hope that gives us relief from feelings of tension and frustration. Hope is the promise of improvement in the future. The promise of hope relieves stressful situations associated with our health, coping with a disability or with any life situation.

There are very strong elements of emotion involved with hope. These emotional elements are what we refer to as faith. Faith is the very stuff we hope with. Evidence of what we can not see but we know within our heart and our mind that it exists. We talk about religious Faiths, the major religions within the world all proclaiming faith in the one true God. Some people call this belief a strength or force greater than themselves. Every evening when we go to bed we do so in faith that the sun will rise in the morning. We believe we will do things we are planning, before the time is even in existence. As children we believe in and rely upon our parents, sometimes on others carers and or family members, to care for us and protect us as we grow. These are all examples of faith and also of hope.

I hope this article is giving you something to think about in your life in relation to stressful situations you may experience. My experience of stress in relation to my spasmodic dysphonia and also cervical dystonia is that I develop a fear of speaking on the telephone and a fear of falling over or not being able to see what is at my feet when my head pulls back from muscles tightening. I do have faith that the medical team working with me will be able to offer on-going relief for me with botox injection treatment, speech therapy exercises and physiotherapy. My hope is that I will continue to live as independently as I can and enjoy my relationships with family and friends.

Would you like to read about other stress related topics such as stress management or any other areas of interest? Please let me know by leaving a comment or you are welcome to email me at and I will get back to you.

Sue Bayliss. Cairns, Australia.


Megan Bayliss said...

Stressed, spelt backwards becomes desserts. In the interests of stress reduction and and work/life balance, this is why I have always argued that dessert should be first on the menu.

If I eat dessert first am I unlikely to inherit SD? I know I've been dreadful at times but surely SD is not my just desserts.

This was a good article. Keep up the good work.

Sue Bayliss said...

Megan, thank you for your delightful comment. However, just remember, keep those desserts to the LOW FAT kind and you will MINIMIZE your RISK of the cancers my brothers, my sister and I have been inflicted with! Be like Aunty Bett and I, survivors! Also, don't forget the heart disease Dad had and I have, the Type 2 diabetes Grandad had and I have and the Renal Failure Dad had! Sorry to be so glum but BEHAVE yourself - and I'm not talking about safe sex but while on the subject, you may as well remember that too! Love you. Mum. XXX

Yvonne said...

I have a google alert daily check happening for cervical dystonia and yours seems to be the only blog out there to my knowledge. Do you know of others?

It is nice to have regular contact with other sufferers – together we have much to learn.

I was interested to read your comment about balance being a problem. I often wonder how much this problem factors into the lives of other cervical dystonia sufferers.

I used to be a confident walker but after a few episodes of nasty falls and recently noticing that I often clip the doorway with my shoulder as I walk through the penny dropped that maybe my balance is impaired.

My head seems to want to go down and to the right so I feel I have to force it up to look at the computer screen with the result that it soon starts to shake and wobble and then everything begins to ache from the strain.

I had a break from the Botox recently – with a view to assessing wether it actually was helping much, but I am spasming more often and experiencing more pain so I am going back for treatment soon.

Great work with your blog sue

Sue Bayliss said...

Thank you again for your comment, Yvonne. This form of contact is, I believe, very good because it not only helps both of us but other people also who may suffer from these symptoms or know someone who does.

I am not aware of other blogs relating to CD. I did spend some time searching but was unsuccessful at that time. However, two excellent sites are (you've probably got them) and both sites have good phamplets and or books available on-line and for purchase on-line. The Spasmodic Torticollis Handbook: A Guide to Treatment and Rehabilitation, is excellent. Also, there is a contact telephone number and email address on the site that may be of assistance to you. I think their centre is in New South Wales.

The balance problem I experience sounds similar to what you describe. I have had to give away walking and do not go outside my house without a stick or I tend to either fall over or bump into people and or things. Your spasms sound to be the opposite to those I experience. When head pulls forward and to side, it is either torticollis or anterocollis. Mine is retrocollis, to the back. However, I also had a left mastectomy for breast cancer 9 years ago followed by a right mastectomy 6 months ago. Prior to second mastectomy, I believe I had some balance problems from that if in only very casual clothes or pyjames not requiring use of prothesis on left side. Still tend to do 'the crabwalk waltz' along the shopping centre mall when my head pulls back though!

I have spoken to 5 people now who have either thought of having a break from Botox treatment or have done so. It really does seem to be a trial and error experience. I will write an article on using a 'force field analysis' as a tool to assist in decision making about the use of Botox. This may give some people an idea of how to structure thoughts towards an appropriate decision for them.

Another treatment that may give you relief is physiotherapy by a practitioner who understands what cervical dystonia is. I visit an excellent physiotherapist who understands this condition and stretches my muscles accordingly. Doesn't last long but does give me relief - after the awful pain of actually doing it! For me, this treatment is more effective if given 3 times a week for one week. I get about a month of significant relief. Sometimes a bit less but every now and then I use this method.

Hope your Botox treatment resumes soon and is effective for you. Sue.