A Shared Journal

A Review and a bit more: Brain on Fire

It took me a long time to do this review because it hit me pretty close to home. This post will be a little bit more than a review.

Brain on Fire is a movie based on the true story and book Brain on Fire My Month Of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. She writes her battle with her own mind as she waits for a diagnosis. It is an absolutely compelling story of human strength and resilience and also highlights the flaws in our perception of healthcare for the mind.

Be prepared with a box of tissue because this is a movie we can all relate to. I asked a few of my friends and family to watch it as I felt a little exposed because of all the symptoms she was showing and her struggle to try to tell anyone that something was not right.

I can honestly say that this movie depicts and most accurately describes what my brain goes through before and after seizures and complications from brain damage caused by Multiple Sclerosis. The hardest part to watch in this movie was the confusion and the withdrawal she goes through. I have felt this first hand. It’s a slow decline where I would notice I was “spacing out” and couldn’t focus on my computer screen. To this day when there are a lot of noises and people it can overwhelm me and I literally can’t understand what anyone is saying although they are speaking perfect English. Over stimulation and stress can leave me so confused I become bedridden for days from brain exhaustion. To be so misunderstood as “lazy” “bitchy” etc. my entire life only to find out that my complaints were more than legitimate. The brain damage caused by MS is irreversible and equivalent to a traumatic blow to the head, only nothing externally has happened. Like in the movie, when your own brain is sick and injured it is the worst feeling of loss, confusion and frustration any being can go through. I will also agree with the recovery process. It is a long and ongoing travel to a full recovery and I’ve learned how to adapt to some of my inabilities. I can tell you first hand, it is not easy relearning how to do basic things like walking, writing and learning to trust your own mind even though it has failed me time and time again. I have to tell myself daily who I am, how many kids do I have, who my family members are.

The impact her condition caused on her entire family is also a very difficult thing for me to watch. I still struggle with not wanting to ask for help for fear of burdening my loved ones. I accept that I do have positive people around me who do enjoy helping me and it’s not so bad asking for help.

It is so important that I share my personal journey because I see it every day. More and more people are being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, BiPolar disorder, Depression… it’s overwhelming and terrifying to know and feel that you are losing your mind and you don’t know why or what is real.

I wish I could tell you that everyone is helpful and that everyone is understanding and kind, but that is what Hollywood is for. I’ve experienced bullying, abuse, disbelief.. the truth is not everyone is kind and looking out for your best interests. Some family and friends didn’t believe me when I said I felt like I was dying. I’ve been called a liar, a “great actress”, “she’s not really sick” and once the initial shock of the diagnosis, I was still told there’s nothing wrong and I need to get over it. I look back on how wrongly I was treated and I think about those who remain trapped in their minds and lose their ability to even verbalize how they feel before they even get close to a proper diagnosis. All of the negative parts of finding a diagnosis are born out of ignorance and there is a quick cure for that. Knowledge.

I highly recommend this movie found on Netflix and I hope it helps you to understand how to navigate through finding a diagnosis for yourself. I hope it also helps you understand how complex the disease of the mind is. It is a terrifying and life threatening road that many don’t make out of alive. Susannah Cahalan received the cure in time and this movie leaves a lot of promise for future research and cures for brain diseases.

My next stop will be to pick up the book!

Hope you enjoy the movie!

Much love,

SS

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A Shared Journal

Review: Le Petit Marseillais

I was sent some samples of Le Petit Marseillais Shower Gel in Mandarin & Lime scent for review. It couldn’t come at a better time right in the hottest days of summer and when I’m on the hunt for a new summer soap!

The shower gel has a green tint and it the scent was full of fresh citrus and sweetness. I have extremely dry skin, especially when my skin is transitioning to the humid heat.

I applied it directly on a washcloth and began to scrub. The gel didn’t lather up with suds like previous shower gels I’ve tried, but I gave it my best effort. So as far as suds it’s on the low-key side. My skin was left feeling refreshed and squeaky clean.

After my shower, I made sure I didn’t add any lotion or moisturizers to get the full before and after effects of the gel. My skin began to dry up and look scaly. The package did say it was “extra gentle” but I don’t think my skin agrees. I tried it a second time ( I was given 2 samples ) but this time I added the shower gel to my getting ready routine to see how it held up under more normal conditions. I, again, applied the shower gel with a washcloth and the same results of no suds and no lather. This time I used moisturizer as usual and my skin was still dry just not as bad as the first trial.

I didn’t particularly find anything life changing about Le Petit Marseillais’ Shower Gel. Yes it is milder than other soaps and gels with a fantastic scent and I found a 400ml bottle at Walmart for $4.97 CDN. I would recommend this product as a mild daily soap for use in travel to the beach or camping. A great alternative to messy bars of soap for children.

Final thoughts

My favourite feature is the scent, it is mild and lingers pleasantly on your skin which is extra nice during hot weather. I was expecting a thicker gel consistency but it was more liquid like the consistency of syrup. If you like bubbles and suds you won’t find them in a bottle of this product and it left my skin dry. It’s affordable for families, it’s available at stores like Walmart and you can find it on Amazon as well.

Score: 3/5

✔️ Affordable

✔️ Great Scent

✔️ Available in Walmart and Amazon

✖️ Left my skin drier than normal

✖️ Very runny not a gel consistency

More reviews to come! ☺️❤️Much love,SS 💃🏻👠

*Product provided for review complimentary of Influenster

A Shared Journal

My Nest Won’t Empty

A subject that has come up quite a lot but I really feel strongly about. Strangely a topic that seems to peak the curiosity of many and that is… “Don’t you think you’ll miss them terribly when they move out?”

The answer in every fibre of my being is N-O! Some msy say I’m “cold” but I honestly feel that is my job as a mother. To raise and release our children into the abyss of adulthood. I’m ancient enough to know that if we have any expectations of our children we will feel that low blow of disappointment, so I choose to stick with hope and a prayer.

I believe that is truth in all our relationships. Life has an interesting way of keeping us grounded and my children ground me and keep me going ensuring that I’m guiding and leading and on top of my parenting game at all times. Once they’re ready they will let you know.

I touched on the subject a bit on my last livestream. Now that things are more steady in my life I will be able to share more and it’s going to be so fun!

For now here’s my last livestream I will have videos uploaded very soon too so hold tight!

Thanks guys and cheers to a new and fabulous week!

My Nest Won’t Empty

SS

A Shared Journal

Whoa! That was close!

A follow up to my las Vlog about my skin reaction to my new drugs.

I called my doctor on Friday and explained all the problems with my skin, night sweats, etc. As part of the neurological team of specialists working with me, I have never experienced a doctor, let alone a specialist, drop everything to get on a 3-way call with his nurse and me to instruct me to reduce my meds immediately. It’s pretty scary since I’ve been on these meds for a year!

I was in the early stages of Stevens-Johnson syndrome and basically was chemically burning from the inside out and my organs were starting to shut down.. in a nutshell I was dying and days away from being hospitalized. The syndrome would’ve meant I would’ve been treated in the intensive care burn unit and would take months to recover! I describe the rash pain like when you scrape your knee, for example, it starts to heal but is tender to touch during the process. It’s the same feeling only the pain is from under the skin. It’s the weirdest thing. The human body is amazingly resilient and efficient. It was trying to get rid of all this chemical crap that was in my system.

The trick to this whole MS disease is the delicate balance of medication which changes and can easily be thrown out of whack. The hard part is that as soon as I feel good I don’t want that feeling to go away despite the side effects. I guess my balance has to be found in not enduring through the side effects. I’m not much of a complainer, but I’m gonna have to start writing some issues down.

Travel and events in the next year are already in full swing, contracts signed, staff to hire, etc. I need to be in medical healthy balance now more than ever! I hope this is the last hurdle I have to jump through.

I would say that’d be my Christmas miracle this year. Being with my whole family for the holidays has been awesome despite my medical scare. My family has completely fallen into abundance. Being around friends who share the same core values, interests and enjoy a good game of cards or pool 🎱 has been so fun. I’ve seen a whole different side of Canada and I’m going to see even more in the new year. I will definitely share that here.

Hope everyone is having a great week! Stay healthy, listen to your gut feelings and always love yourself and your life! Take care my friends ❤️

SS

A Shared Journal

Getting more creative

I’ve been sick lately which has forced me to slow down on a few time sensitive things such as poster and media, designs, target dates.. it was getting to be a bit much. I guess this cold is somewhat of a double edged sword.

I get a lot of questions about my dolls. I used to be really stand-off-ish with everyone because I really wasn’t confident in my work. Like most artists I know we are our own worst critic but it wasn’t until the last 3 years that I finally let go and embraced what I’ve learned and continue to learn about my craft.

For the next part of my journey I’ve decided to get a little more artsy fartsy. Now this won’t be just a road of making and selling dolls, I’ll be documenting more if my personal journey as an artist. So let’s begin tonight.

It’s 1:43am and I’m waiting for the paint to dry while watching Netflix on my iPad. The house is nice and quiet and there’s only one light coming from my desk lamp. It actually reminds me of my childhood. When I was in either grade 1 or 2, I loved the Disney version of Pinocchio. There was a picture of Geppetto working in his workshop at night looking up at the sky wishing for Pinocchio. Haha I guess it’s eerily very similar. This took s very strange turn. Maybe it’s the paint fumes 🤷🏻‍♀️

More soon!SS

A Shared Journal

Feeling comfortable

I can’t say how happy I am to finally be able to enjoy my artwork. I love what I do! I’ve been slowly building my doll collection, yes I’m probably going to be one of those women with a bunch of dolls. I did promise myself to not get crazy and go over 10 dolls in the entire house… ok well, I promised my boys.

It’s the beginning of the Christmas season and I can already hear the sound of crunch time. I have a few dolls to make before Christmas and few of my own I want to complete.

A couple of events happened over the last couple months that would’ve left me jaded about 5 years ago, but today is a very different day. I felt validated and self assured that I am on the right path. It’s funny what they say. When you feel adversity or opposition from others, it says a lot more about them than it does about you. I’ve learned that you do choose your future and things may look bleak but it must look that way temporarily in order to achieve what you deserve. 2018 is coming up fast and I am extremely excited! There will be lots of meetings, planning, coordinating, but my goal is worth it!

Let the Christmas songs, sweaters and Santa pictures begin! 🎄

A Shared Journal

Therapy for healing

The first time I saw a reborn doll I instantly fell in love. As a doll lover I was so intrigued at how artists could express their own vision for each doll kit. Here’s my story:

In 2010, my whole world crashed, I went into the hospital expecting a quick fix instead, I was admitted immediately and fought for my life for 5 weeks away from all my family and friends. After those long weeks of not knowing, I was finally diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. That wasn’t the worst part, my neurologists, specialists and physicians informed me that I was no longer able to return to work, I had physical limitations, mental limitations and I would only get worse… oh, and that there’s no cure.

As a mother of 6 children, a wife, a sister and a daughter; giving up was not even a thought in my mind. However, I also knew I was going to go bananas if I didn’t have anything to do during the times when I would be bedridden. That’s when I thought about the reborn doll that my mother in law showed me. I, admittedly, became obsessive over every bit of the reborn doll process. I watched documentaries, read articles and spent hours self teaching, practicing painting and hair rooting. Working on reborn dolls became, and still is, my therapy.

I introduced the world of reborning dolls to my friend in New York. She loved my dolls so much and was so intrigued by them I decided to send her 2 of my reborn dolls, 1 for her and 1 for her mother who suffers from dementia. I knew about the therapy values of these dolls but nothing prepared me for the video chat from my friend showing me her mother’s reactions. Her eyes lit up and to this day, she holds and changes her babydoll every day. It was transforming for me.

A few months later, I was contacted by many who were curious about the dolls. One woman in particular reached out to me about her story and how she suffers from PTSD. We developed a bond and I put all me heart into a doll for her. Once her babydoll arrived, she sent me pictures of her family holding the doll and they were all crying with happiness, yes that included her husband. My husband and I were moved to tears. In that moment I knew the power of healing that these dolls have. My therapy can now help others and that is my goal for as long as I can create these works of art.

The first time I stepped into MacPherson’s I was speechless. It is an artist’s and doll collector’s dream! On my first visit I was lucky enough to have met Brenda. She is one of the most positive people I have ever met and her staff is equally friendly and sweet. As an artist, being able to physically look at and touch the different kits is invaluable to my reborning process.

I look forward to any chance I get to visit the store in St Marys which is only a 45 minutes away from my city.

Dear artists, this is a remarkable community and with the help and encouragement from the MacPherson’s staff, you can go through your own processes with ease. You will always be welcomed with open arms.

MacPherson’s always signs off with a “Have a beautiful day” and every time I visit, I do indeed have a beautiful day.

Thank you, Brenda and your wonderful staff for all your support for me and many other reborn artists, you are all beautiful inside and out.