Our BEST Superhero of the Month for March 2020 is passionate about supporting the brain injury community.
BEST is honored to share that Bill DeShayes is our BEST Superhero of the Month for March 2020.
Bill has been a part of the BEST community since the very beginning. Since then, he’s offered his nonstop support and care. It’s his belief on that having each other is the best help we’ll ever have in the journey forward after brain injury.
For this real-life superhero, the support from fellow survivors and community members was a literal life saver.
Bill shared he was a person thinking about suicide; however, being able to connect with others through BEST, changed his life in a positive way. That’s why he is eager to give back.
Here’s what Bill’s nominator had to say about him:
Bill has been a long-time member of the Tacoma support group and supporter of BEST right from the start. His determination to lead the best life he can with his injury is buoyed by a keen sense of humor and compassion for those in our community. We appreciate this real-life superhero with his constant engagement and willingness to help. Thank you Bill for all you do!
Have a real-life superhero in your life, too? Nominate them by clicking here.
I have an anxiety disorder coupled with a digestive disorder. I have coped with both most of my life.
While I am comfortable talking about my mental health issues with others, I have not once written about it in any kind of forum.
Which is a little odd in that I’ve been a professional writer for decades with hundreds of published pieces under my belt, including personal essays, but none on this topic.
Today that changes.
Here’s my story.
I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) that pairs with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
GAD is a condition characterized by chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is more severe than the normal anxiety.
IBS is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine. Symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, or both. Anxiety makes it worse and/or can fuel IBS symptoms.
In my case, my GAD and IBS are effective partners, and seem to like to hang out together unfortunately.
The good news: Over the last five years, I’ve been able to calm down the (IBS) almost completely with medication, more healthful eating and improved wellness and self-care habits.
The anxiety though, is a little different story. It ebbs and flows, but again over the last five years, I’ve had good success with combining medication, healthy habits, exercise and other self-care measures.
It’s hard work, but worth it.
Yet the thing that is the most frustrating to me is that all the hard work that I do can literally be undone in a matter of seconds.
Or it can be slowly chipped away bit by bit.
It’s March 2020, there’s a pandemic, and I’ve been undone somewhat, with my medical anxiety particularly troublesome.
First, medical anxiety is defined as this: is an obsessive and irrational worry about having a serious medical problem.
Here’s why this form of anxiety impacts me the most.
I had a chronic medical condition called hyperparathyroidism about a decade ago (cured in 2015 with surgery, thank goodness). The condition spanned for years causing frustrating, confusing and uncomfortable symptoms, the worst being chills, body aches, fatigue and brain fog. The little rhyme that’s affiliated with the condition goes like this: bones, groans, moans and psychic overtones.
So much yes to a silly little rhyme; it couldn’t be more accurate.
This condition led to lots of doctor’s appointments, a couple of hospital visits and some misdiagnoses along the way.
Even though I am cured of my condition, it’s left me anxious about illness and medical things.
I also cope with many allergies year-round. My toughest times of the year are early spring and early fall (I have significant allergies to tree pollens and dust mites).
Yet, every time I sneeze right now (which is very normal for me currently), I worry it’s something else.
That something else.
As the tree pollen is at its worst, literally looking like fog in my neighborhood and coating the windows of my car, my itchy eyes, nose and face are fiery. I’m am forcing myself not to touch my face, which makes me anxious.
Just like many of us, all over the world. my anxiety is in a flare-up.
My current anxiety symptoms: worry of course about myself and others; racing thoughts (especially at bedtime); irregular sleep patterns; insomnia; a tight chest; weak appetite; and fatigue.
I’m also washing my hands way too much. I noticed the skin on my hands, especially on the knuckles, starting to crack and bleed.
My gut and digestive system is behaving.
Nothing worse than having to rush to the bathroom many times per day, so the IBS is not welcome at all clearly.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful for my medication.
I do recognize medications aren’t for everyone with has anxiety or IBS, but for me, it is the most effective part of my treatment.
But the other work (the soft skills and self-care that come with anxiety) still has been undone some, and I must rebuild.
This will not be easy, especially with the health news happening in the world around me.
Here’s what I am doing to feel better in 10 steps:
What I know for sure, when I am feeling better and less anxious, I am better able to help and support others, and to me, that’s my passion. It helps me stay motivated to manage my mental health.
Here are some of my favorite online resources (click on the names to view):
Do you have an anxiety disorder too? Or are you currently coping with anxiety during the COVID-19 crisis? What are you doing to take care of yourself and your anxiety?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk.
Kim Thompson is the BEST Communications Manager. Before her work at BEST, she was a longtime local journalist and writer in Pierce County, Washington. Prior to her writing work, she was a writer, trainer, analyst and consultant in the telecommunications industry. She’s been a life-long resident of the Puget Sound area and loves her community. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two kids, border collie, family and friends. She’s passionate about the written word, reading, serving her community, and animal welfare.
Click here to read a great article from Psychology Today on a simple prescription for self-love.
Words. Pictures. Video. Virtual Platforms.
BEST Online Resources are at the ready! Here’s your guide to getting started.
At the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST), sharing our personal stories and journeys are important to us. Finding the words and putting those words to the keyboard or to paper, makes a difference, not only for us as individuals, but to us as a brain injury community as a whole.
Here’s a list of writers and links that we think are just the BEST. We encourage you to read and share their words.
Isaac Peterson: Isaac Peterson is a journalist, public speaker, instructor and stroke survivor in Washington State. Isaac has penned a number of poignant, powerful and clever articles right here on the BEST blog. Click here to see a catalog of his blog work.
Michelle Munt: Michelle Munt is a writer and survivor from the United Kingdom that has become one of our favorite BEST social media friends and supporters. Her honest and thoughtful writing has touched the lives of many in the brain injury community and beyond. Her blog is at jumbledbrain.com.
Debbie Hampton: Is having the best brain possible, possible? According to writer, blogger and author, Debbie Hampton, the answer to that question is a resounding, yes! Hampton is the creator, writer and moderator of The BEST Brain Possible, a comprehensive website of resources, strategies, tips and information about brain health and overall wellness. Hampton, a brain injury survivor and mental health and wellness advocate, has shared her own personal story and her journey forward to healing and happiness.
Rod Rawls: Rod Rawls is the creator, writer, blogger and moderator of A Changing World: How One TBI Survivor and One Family Caregiver is Trying To Keep Up . Rod sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a motorcycle accident several years ago. In his writing, he documents his journey forward after brain injury and offers tips and strategies for fellow survivors and caregivers. He is also a caregiver himself for a close family member and offers his words and wisdom on caregiving, too.
The Caregiver Warrior (Susanne White): Susanne White (Caregiver Warrior) is a caregiver, caregiving and caregiver advocate and supporter, writer, blogger, and podcaster. For additional caregiver and caregiving resources, tips, strategies, and inspiration, visit her website at caregiverwarrior.com and on social media on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.
Dr. Jannine Krause: Dr. Krause is a doctor of naturopathic medicine, an acupuncturist and podcast host dedicated to empowering people to take charge of their own health. Her unique approach is simplifying natural medicine and healthy habit formation. She believes that health starts with what we eat, how we move and how well we manage stress. She wants to help prevent little health issues from becoming big ones down the road. Click here to read her BEST blog article exclusives. Learn more about Dr. Krause here.
Marc Macialek: Marc Macialek survived a traumatic brain injury in spring 2012. After struggling to find good resources to help with his recovery, he was able to connect with a doctor who gave him tools to make the most of his recovery. Now he works to help survivors and caregivers find the resources to make the most to survive and thrive through the recovery journey. You can find more of his writings at his site recoveringfromtbi.com.
Jeff Sebell: BEST friend, Jeff Sebell, penned the highly acclaimed and groundbreaking book, Learning to Live with Yourself after Brain Injury, which was released in August of 2014. He also writes a blog at TBISurvivor.com.
Evie (Redefining Normal): Evie is a Dutch blogger who is the creator of the blog, Redefining Normal (Finding a New Normal, Living with a Brain Injury). Follow Evie as she lives life, tries new things and tackles new challenges. A terrific read!
Maggie DePuye-Phillips: Maggie is a caregiver/care partner for a disabled veteran with a TBI/PTSD. Maggie is passionate about caregiver issues and is an advocate for veterans and individuals with disabilities. She is also a BEST guest blogger who pens articles on caregiving.
Kirsten Short: Kirsten she suffered a concussion in February of 2017. However, she manages to stay positive despite her post-concussion symptoms, chronic migraines and visual snow. When not working on her rehabilitation, Kirsten takes full advantage of her good hours by advocating for brain injury survivors and their families; this is a new passion of hers. You can read more about her story on her blog: Concussions and Lawn Chairs.
Pics and Video:
Visit the BEST YouTube channel to check out our video collection. Click here to view.
Here you’ll find educational video, slideshows, and other material. Enjoy!
BEST has created a virtual presence for reaching out to those with brain injury and their caregivers. BEST hosts a variety of social events, small group discussions, workshops, and skills training. Our goal in Second Life is to support those with brain injury engage in alternative and meaningful learning and PEER support. Our office can be found on Etopia Island in Second Life.
Click here to get started. It’s free and all are welcome!
If you haven’t already done so, we’d love to have you join us on our social media platforms. Visit our home page by clicking here. On the top right of the home page, there are icons that, when clicked, are links to each platform: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
Stay tuned to this blog for updates and additional information on other online materials.