Guess Who's Back *back, back* Back Again?
Confessions of a 21st Century Chick is back, tell a friend!
I am the first to admit that I have been rather absent from blogging recently. The second half of this semester was the first time in my life that I spend almost every single day writing. In my essays for university thus far, there has been a demand to structure around my professors preferred styles. I hope that academic writing continues to fuel my growth in writing more generally so one day I might be able to blend the two as work. Unfortunately, purely academic writing can be draining, as i result it took away motivation for blogging. So, lets start out easy with a personal update and finish off with a recommendation of my favorite book, podcast, and album of 2017.
A Chronic Pain Update
As many of you know for about 5 years I have struggled on and off with chronic lower back pain. After a summer of intense daily pain, I met with several surgeons who told me to try everything I could think of and without success we could readdress the possibility of surgery. So I returned to Montreal, tried physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, etc. If you experience anxiety like I do, you may understand the feeling of discomfort that comes with uncertainty, especially in regards to the future. That anxiety of anticipation really took a toll on me physically and mentally.
Then I read Healing Back Pain: The Mind Body Connection by John Sarno. Sarno's book describes his diagnoses-TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome)- a specific experience of chronic back and neck pain that is connected to repressed anger and anxiety. In self analysis of my own repressed anger and anxiety, I was able to confront a repressed fear that created tension in my body. With the guidance of my previous therapy knowledge and an online TMS forum, I began to get a lot better. Although TMS educational material reduced it, it did not reduce it completely. In my last month, I decided if i could be diagnosed with TMS I would be able to more easily create a treatment plan and decide whether or not I would be returning to McGill after winter break for surgery.
My mother booked me an appointment with a surgeon and a TMS therapist soon after returning home. She is the best at finessing receptionists, bless her for everything she does for me! I was not diagnosed with TMS, which left the remaining unattempted treatment on the list to be surgery. So, I decided to get a microdiscectomy on January 3rd. It is intended to reduce the shooting pain that I experience down the front and back of both legs. I went into the surgery feeling very hopeful. Today is January 4th. I am in quite a bit of central lower back pain, which is expected for the next few days. I am excited to say I will be returning to McGill for the winter semester on the 13th.
If anyone who experiences chronic pain is reading this, I want you to know that you are not alone. Your pain, no matter how visible, does not have power over you, even though it may sometimes feel like it. You can reclaim your pain and your body. You are powerful and capable. I am so proud of you.
I want to make it clear that my experience of chronic back pain is by no means universally representative. Each person who experiences chronic pain may react to it and live with it in very different ways. I shared the aforementioned affirmations with others because they have helped me cope with my chronic pain.
My "Favorites" of 2017
Happy 2018 my friends and family! 2017 was filled with ups and downs in so many ways. Some of the things that kept me going were music, books, and podcasts. To start off, my favorite book I read in 2017 was The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. The New Jim Crow was a book assigned to me in an inclusionary version of US History class at McGill. Alexander addresses a modern form of slavery in America, of the mass incarceration of black Americans. It is fact heavy and extensively explains the ways that Blacks are targeted on the streets to be imprisoned. It was rather popular around the time it was published (2010), but really changed the way that I saw things when I read it in 2017. It was the most moving book I have encountered and brought unbelievable amounts of anger from years of my own ignorance. This book gave me an opportunity to open my eyes to things I will never experience as a white person, and fueled my passion for activism. It is very similar in content to the 13th, a Netflix documentary, however I recommend that you read the book.
My favorite album of 2017 was Ctrl by SZA. It is full of smooth, sexy, r&b goodness. If you spent any time with me over this summer, this album was my daily playlist. It became the background of my meditations on the beach alone and the music in the back of my brain. Ctrl is honesty to the max and demonstrates the unwavering beauty in struggle. According to Spotify's 2017 wrap up, SZA was one of my most played artists. When I felt things were moving too fast and needed to catch myself, I listened to Prom. The biggest lesson SZA taught me was to take my mistakes as lessons to learn, to grow past the shame I carry from my past.
Anything can be made better with podcasts- cleaning, cooking, walking to class, doing laundry. As someone who feels the need to keep up with news but rarely has time for free reading, podcasts are the perfect alternative. I love The Daily, a daily (shocking, I know) news update by the New York Times, and recently found Nancy, a queer podcast by WNYC Studios. However, my all time favorite podcast of 2017 was Call Your Girlfriend. Hosted by a best friend duo who lives on opposite sides of the US, the podcast talks about politics, celebrities, periods, and personal life experiences as cis women in America. The hosts, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, are hilarious and beyond articulate in the happenings of todays world. It is a podcast of both heart wrenching news and lighthearted moments. Sow and Friedman do an unbelievable job at making the listener feel at home and a part of their conversation. I feel empowered and understood listening to this podcast. My favorite episode was the interview that Ann did with Margaret Atwood, the writer of The Handmaid's Tale. This episode gave the listener a peak into the head of Atwood and her experience as a writer in the 21st century.
Below this post I will leave links to all of these podcasts and books below. Thank you for reading, and I wish all of you a Happy first bit of 2018!
Call Your Girlfriend Podcast: http://www.callyourgirlfriend.com/ (also can be found on Apple Podcasts)
Ctrl by SZA (Spotify): https://open.spotify.com/album/76290XdXVF9rPzGdNRWdCh