Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Hobbies

The theme for the October 2010 edition of the Headache and Migraine Disease Blog Carnival is "How do your hobbies help you cope with your headache disorder?"

I've been mulling this over in my head for weeks now, and I have a mixed response to this question. My hobbies have, in many ways, been affected by my chronic pain. I cannot do many of the things I once loved to do, and the things that I can do often have great limitations. But, the main hobbies that I have found to help me cope with my chronic migraine disorder are:  scrapbooking and writing (and reading).

Scrapbooking. I injured my neck and shoulder, at the same time the migraines became debilitating, so I haven't been able to do as much scrapbooking as I'd like to. For a while after the accident, I just didn't feel up to it (or "in the mood"). I finally got back into it, and did my 2008 scrapbook. I did A LOT the year of my car accident... well, before the accident... I scrapbooked every page of the book, except for the two pages I left about the car accident. They sat empty for months. I didn't even know how to begin or what to say. It felt like a huge release, though, once I was able to finish those pages - I had conquered the fear of those daunting pages about the accident, and I had finished an entire scrapbook! Completing a task or project is something that I definitely try not to take for granted as much anymore.

The things that draw me to scrapbooking are the creativity of designing the pages and arranging the pictures, as well as writing and telling the story (i.e., journaling). I have a very unique experience when I scrapbook. When I look at a photograph, I'm able to go back to that moment in time and relive it. I know it may sound crazy, but I can re-live the moments in a way that involves many of my senses. I don't know how to explain it... I guess this could be a good and a bad thing, as far as coping goes. Staying in/with these photos means that I'm staying in the past and denying the present. It's almost like, if I look at them long enough, maybe I'll be me again (the me before the accident) - I know that that sounds ridiculous and that it can't happen, but it's sometimes a trap that I fall into. It can be good to remember the past, but we must accept the present and move on to our future.

Here are a few pages from my 2008 scrapbook. The first two are of my twin neices (my brother's kids) and my nephew (my brother-in-law's kid). The next one is of my sister, who is one of my closest friends. The third ones are our engagement. And, the last two are my car accident (10/10/08).

© 2010 Jamie Valendy.
© 2010 Jamie Valendy.
© 2010 Jamie Valendy.
© 2010 Jamie Valendy.

Writing (and reading). Due to my injuries, I cannot always write in a journal with a pen (like I would rather do) or write/type as much as I'd like to, and I have difficulty reading as much because of concentration and memory problems that come along with my migraine disorder. But I continue to read and write, as much as I am able to. Reading books, reading blogs and poetry, journaling, writing letters, writing poetry, coming up with book titles and ideas, blogging, etc... it all fascinates me! It's something that I have always had a passion for, and that passion seems heightened (at times) by the roller coaster of emotions that come along with having chronic pain. I write from the heart - making myself vulnerable through the use of words on a page. This has been extremely thereapeutic and cathartic for me. It's a way to acknowledge and release emotions. It's a way to express things that you may not otherwise be able to express. It's a way to grow as a person.

I've always had a wall up around me, only allowing others to see just as much of me as I wanted them to see. There have been very few that I have opened up to and really allowed to see me, and even then... it's usually guarded by only letting them see only one part or side of me. Posting my writing and allowing others to follow my journey with this chronic illness is a GIANT step for me (those who do know me well, know how true this is). I feel a release when I am able to express in words what I am going through. And, it's a feeling I could never explain, when something I've written resonates with someone else and allows them to feel a sense of release because their emotions or experiences have finally been expressed. It truly is a blessing!
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What I write on this site is my own, and if it is someone else's, I take special care to attribute it to the original author. So, please don't use any of my material without proper attribution or permission. Thanks.