Monday, March 22, 2010

The Healing Process (Part Two)

My list of things that have been assisting me in the healing process:
1. Books: I highly recommend "Broken Open," by Elizabeth Lesser. In this book Lesser bravely explores the "Phoenix Process," or positive life change that can emerge from very difficult life events. I also would recommend "I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What it Was," by Barbara Sher. In this less intimidating version of What Color is Your Parachute, Sher reveals how to "recapture long lost goals, overcome the blocks that inhibit your success, decide what you want to be, and live your dreams." It is the perfect book for anyone trying to make a fresh start in any area of their life and needs inspiration to do so. 

2. Intuitive Healer: Last May, my friend Kacey Goodman Siskind suggested I go see an intuitive healer named Tara Antler. She rents space out of Spynga, a yoga and cycling studio in Toronto run by Sari Nisker and Casey Soer. The session consists of a healing massage where she reads your energy and instills light and guidance in you. Every time I go to her I come out feeling like a million bucks, with restored faith and a great energy. 

3. Fish Oil and 5HTP: Before two weeks ago I was popping a mixture of atavan and chlonazapan in the same way one would devour a large layered butter popcorn at the movies. My panic and anxiety have been so out of control the past few months that those were my only saving graces. However, after a conversation with my wonderful naturopathic doctor, Dr. Regan Tessis, she suggested I try a mixture of fish oil and a supplement called 5HTP. Both help to combat anxiety and have dozens of other health benefits to them. I am proud to say I am now two weeks drug free of my anxiety meds, and am definitely noticing a change with these supplements. I do suggest you go and see a naturopath doctor before starting on any supplements, to make sure you get the right ones for your body. 

4. Exercise: I mean it's a no-brainer right? As Reese Witherspoon said in Legally Blonde "Exercise gives you endorphins-- endorphins make you happy and happy people just don't shoot their husbands...they just don't." Everyone has their own thing they like to do. Mine happens to be swimming and most recently yoga. I try to do both as much as possible, but here is a tip....if you are suffering from anxiety, do NOT do Hot yoga. I made this mistake when I went to a class with my good friend Elise. I ended up puking my guts out after. The two do not mix well, unless you are also looking for a get-skinny-quick regime. 

5. Talk to the Right People: In other words choose a few people that a) you feel comfortable talking to about whatever has happened and/or  b) people who have gone through what you are going through.  For the latter, these are the people that  understand. They can assure you everything will be okay and  share their own experiences and give advice. Let's face it, there's never the right thing to say and always the wrong thing. Since my Dad died, I have heard it all from...."It must be extra hard to be going through this when you don't even have a husband." to.....(freaking out) "OH MY GOD, I CAN'T EVEN IMAGINE IT HAPPENING TO ME.", yeah, so when you have come to the fork in your road, try and stick with people who can sort of keep it together and offer a stable shoulder to cry on.

6. The Russel Hill Chiropractic Clinic: When I hurt my lower back while skating, back during the Christmas Break, I was referred to Dr. Michelle Fagen, an old friend of mine who owns The Russel Hill Chiropractic Clinic.  I have always been skeptical about doing icky things like having my back cracked, but I can assure you that I have barely felt pain since my series of sessions with Michelle. I highly recommend her. After telling her about what has been going on in my life, she referred me to Lisa Quaning for accupuncture, who also works at the clinic. The few sessions I have had with Lisa have been very therapeutic and if you have a fear of needles, take note that you can barely feel them. Go see Michelle and Lisa. Run!  

7. Pets: Robert Bault once said "The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude." If you've been following along with my previous blogs, you will have learned I'm an animal lover. Dogs happen to be the pet of my choice, however, cats, snakes, birds, fish...whatever pets you may have, seek comfort from them during hard times. Sometimes they are all we need to get out of bed in the mornings.

8. Kids: No matter their age, they always know what to say because they are so in touch with their feelings. They name their emotion. If they are happy, they say they are happy. When they are sad, they say they are sad. Adults don't do this. Due to my job, I happen to know a lot of kids of all ages. Nothing touched me more than when the little girl I was tutoring on "Happy Town," Sophia Ewaniuk, didn't want me to drive home from St. Catherines one morning after we finished filming because I wasn't feeling well. She told me that "You need to listen to what your heart is telling you to do, and not your head." I ended up staying over in a hotel and going home later on that day because I didn't want her to worry. There is also the little boy who lives on my street, named Victor, that made me something at school because he knew I was "sad" when my Dad died. You can read that story here

9. LA: Everyone has their get-away of choice where they seek solace. Mine happens to be with my LA family. These are friends that I have accumulated over the years starting with one of my best friends Jonathan Bennett, who I met on the set of Mean Girls six years ago. LA has been a great escape for me over the past few years. Whether I am lounging by the pool at Sky Bar, managed by my beautiful friend Ali, spending a day in Venice with my talented friend Liz, tearing up the town with one of my favorite partners in crime Sarah, or begging the hottest Jewish guy I know, Jesse, to propose to me, I am guaranteed happiness whenever I am there. I highly recommend a vacation to help you de-stress from whatever you may be going through.

10. Time: Last but not least, as cliche as it may seem, "Time heals all wounds." These were the words of a friend that had emailed me when my Dad died. His own Dad had died when were were in High School, so I know those words of advice must ring true. It becomes a waiting game, this time thing, but I've learned now that as I'm waiting for it to pass the most important thing I can do is try and become stronger so that next time I'm knocked down, it will be a little easier for me to get up. Last night, as I got weepy when I bumped into my friend Leah at a play, she reminded me that "this too shall pass." They are words to cling to throughout this healing process and perhaps will continue to guide me in finding these silver linings, as well.

Please feel free to share your own thoughts or experiences in the comments section.

Love and Silver linings
 Andrea Dana

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Healing Process (Part One)

    I was in LA last weekend to write an exam for obtaining my California High School teaching credential. I will be honest; I didn’t think I was going to be able to get on the plane. I have suffered so much anxiety and panic since last March, and my father’s recent passing really put me over the edge. The fear of flying was almost too much for me to handle. Here's my year in review.
   Exactly one year ago, on March 9th, my grandmother, Tillie Leslie in her 96th year, passed away. It was the day after my Birthday and was the first of many life-changing events that would occur for me in 2009/2010. At the time I was blogging for sweetspot and had written a tribute to my Grandmother. It is still posted online here:
   A few weeks later I began tutoring on a TV pilot called “Happy Town,” which will be airing April 28th on ABC. Due to the late night/early morning shoots, in the cold weather, I ended up getting sick. By the time we wrapped in early April, I was having really bad chest pains and respiratory issues that lasted for months. I continued to suffer from these health problems while filming “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.” While I was on set one day, tutoring the greatest stunt boy of all time, Riley Jones, I started reading a book called “Skinny Bitch,” which is a guide to becoming a vegetarian and all the health benefits one can achieve by doing so. I was so desperate to try anything that might help, that right then and there I cut out all meat from my diet, minus fish. In no time I was feeling a lot better. My chest pains went away, I could breathe better, and I had more energy than I had in years. It was obviously a very positive life change. Emotionally, I was still trying to heal from the loss of my grandmother who had been one of best friends and greatest supporters. 
    In June, as I was starting to feel a little better about it, I was stunned by an accusation made by the LifeSucker about something I clearly didn’t do. He then went on to try and slander my name around town and make me look like a “crazy, psycho.”  Months later, and after filing for slander and liability (just in case), I found out that not only had he been pulling similar stunts with other girls for years, but he had in fact made the whole accusation up in order to save a “meal ticket.”  Obviously, my name wasn’t too tarnished around town and I wasn't too concerned after hearing other people's stories.
     Things were pretty quiet for me after that, up until I found out I no longer had a job teaching piano. How did I find this information out? A kid I know happened to be at the music store and heard someone on the phone talking about me, refusing the caller piano lessons with me because I no longer work there, The guy said he had no idea how to get in contact with me, which was sort of classic considering I had bumped into him a day earlier outside of Second Cup. However, since I was already back on set working full time on “Happy Town" series, I wasn’t too disheartened by that one. Plus, that meant I could teach piano privately and make more money doing so. 
     A week later I had bigger fish to fry, when a German shepherd attacked me at the top of my parents street. Two of my three dogs were injured, with my dog Lucy barely making it out alive. You can read about that here:
    After that, I was granted two months to recover, and then got knocked right back down again with the death of my dad at the beginning of the New Year. I’d like to say that was the icing on the cake, but a few weeks later it was topped off by my great uncle, Moishe Appleby, dying. This meant the end of a generation for my dad’s side of the family and so much more sadness was endured due to it.
   So now here I am, still standing after all the crap and trying to heal as best as I can. Tomorrow I will give you my extensive list of things I have been doing that have been helpful for me and enabled me to get on that plane last Thursday. I hope that if you are going through a rough time, or have suffered any type of loss in your life you will find my list helpful. There are also a lot of things that are NOT helpful which I will write about too, so stay tuned J
It is inevitable that everyone at some point is going to suffer, and it is so important to have those tools in place for when that time comes. I’ve learned the hard way that you never know when the bad times are going hit.