photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

Latest

Operation H A R D B O D Y

So early this morning, as I was serving Josh some creamy oat meal and coffee, I asked him if we could start planning our Puerto Rico vacation. I’ve calculated that it’ll cost around $1,000 each for a 5 day getaway stay in a private chalet in the El Yunque rain forest in the jungle. A round trip flight for two is only $800- insanely cheap. The chalet is $150 per night- again, insanely cheap and we’ll be 15 minutes away from a private waterfall lagoon in one direction and a white sanded beach filled with tiapas kiosks in the other. PARADISE. 

The only problem I see here is that I’m about 30 lbs. heavier than I’d like to be, so…I have to kick my sick sugar habit and start working out. I absolutely HATE to “work out”. It’s so freaking boring. The fact that I’m a former athlete and trained intensely every day (for years) helps; I’ve got some killer muscles in my legs, etc. from being a cross country runner, but I’ve been a bit of a slacker for about 25 years. 

So…

I’m going to start today. An hour per day, 5 days per week. By the time Josh and I are on our private lighthouse beach in Caja de Muertos (Dead Man’s Chest), I’m going to have a super sick body. Because I’m a former athlete, my muscles are well formed- they’ve just been asleep for awhile but it’s time to wake those suckers up!

I’m feeling pretty excited these days. Apart from a video recorded diagnostic interview and a handful of research papers (and finals, of course) I’m pretty much wrapping this semester up. I’ll be able to have a month down in May (in between semesters), so the entire month will be spent picking blanket fuzz out of my hair, eating Ben and Jerry’s rice crackers while watching the ID Channel and catching up on reading my MGM era biographies. Heaven? I think so.

I’m off for a morning photo shoot with my Super Tak (SMC Super Takumar 135/3.5) for my first spring shoot.

Life is pretty damn sweet right about now. 

And here’s why!

Image

 

;)

Bite your Tongue! (No Really, Don’t…)

 Somewhere in a Dream /Available for purchase here

Image

 

I’ve decided to write this post about a sensitive subject matter that is both confusing and often misunderstood. While I’m not a doctor, I do have my degree in Behavioral Sciences (yea! I can say that now!) and have spent a great deal of time studying OCD and other psychological and emotional disorders. I’m not merely spouting theoretical book noise, however, I’ve been an OCD sufferer from the time I was a young girl. These days, my symptoms are almost always dormant, due to aggressive home therapy (and homeopathic medicine which is somewhat controversial) but it works for me, and that’s what’s most important at the end of the day. I do what works for me.

Ten years ago, I couldn’t find any posts about tongue or cheek biting. Nor could I find any five years ago. Only recently, I’ve seen more and more posts about people who bite their tongues until they bleed, etc., most are asking questions and wonder if it’s a form of OCD or other psychological disorder. I can answer that.

Yes. it is.

When I was a young girl, maybe 7 or so, I saw my sister biting the insides of her cheek. I started doing it as well. Over the years, we both developed a horrific habit of chewing the flesh on the insides of our cheeks- ripping off the cheek flesh and spitting it out. It’s really quite a disgusting habit! After 20+ years, we were both still doing it and really, I’m surprised we didn’t end up with oral cancer.

My habit was still in its infancy, unfortunately, and gradually, I began to chew on the sides of my tongue- often not satisfied until it bled and my tongue would swell. I didn’t dare speak to a therapist about it. I knew she would think of it as a psychological disorder and the next step would be medicine from a shrink. No thanks! I don’t think the solution for every problem that manifests is pharmaceutical medicine. There must be other ways.

Taking medicine for an uncontrollable habit is merely putting a band aid on an amputated limb. It does nothing to get to the root of the problem. Oftentimes, a psychiatrist will prescribe a medicine for OCD or other tricky disorders all too quickly, without really breaking down the matter and getting to the roots of what is really going on. It should be understood that tongue-biting isn’t a “cause” but a result of a cause. It’s the effect.

I needed to get to the root of why I was ripping at my tongue, and why I was causing my own muscle to bleed. When the pain would begin to set in, I’d gently scrape my teeth over my tongue, causing a “sweet” kind of pain. It was like pain on pain, and it brought about a euphoric feeling. It was only when I began studying Substance Abuse at my university that I realized what was really going on.

Children spin around as toddlers to get dizzy. The child is literally trying to get high! It’s a human curiosity and it’s in every one of us. Do we all act upon it? No. But we all have the built-in curiosity and capability to settle that curiosity by trial and error. I experienced heightened trauma and abuse as a child. I never really made a connection between the trauma that was inflicted upon me involuntarily, and the trauma that I voluntarily inflicted upon myself thereafter.

Somehow, in my mind, I felt that I needed to punish myself. I’m not talking about consciously, but subconsciously. And also, the physical pain distracted me from the emotional pain. Again, much of this was taking place on a subconscious level, which is why I would find myself doing it over and over, absentmindedly.

Eventually, after much introspection, I came to realize that biting my tongue in such a way, put me in the same category of self-mutilators. I didn’t want to accept it for many years, but it is the exact same thing. Cutting one’s arm with a razor or cutting one’s tongue (or cheek) with the teeth is still cutting just the same.

I used to think it was self pity. And then I believed it was guilt. From there, I made connections psychologically. Over the years I’ve discovered that it’s a multi-tiered disorder. It’s not just one thing that is causing a person to self-mutilate, but a combination of physiological, socioeconomical, biochemical, psychosocial (the list goes on) factors that when combined- cause an explosive reaction that results in pain, and the desire for pain.

To better understand the depth of this disorder, one should consider what’s going on in the brain every time a biter rips off the flesh, or, a cutter cuts him or herself. Our brain releases neurotransmitters called endorphins. These are the feely-good chemicals that act as natural painkillers. They actually mimic opiates such as morphine and codeine. Stress and pain are the two most common reasons that these endorphins are released into the bloodstream. Once the endorphins are kicked out, a series of natural biological responses occur immediately following: feelings of euphoria, a regularity in appetite, enhanced immune responses, and a release of sex hormones. Who would have thought pain could do all of that?

Upon learning this, I have a new theory as to why cutters cut and biters rip off their tongue and cheek flesh: it’s not simply OCD, or self pity, or guilt (or anger, etc.), it’s much deeper than those things: It’s a drug addiction. Inflicting pain triggers the exact same endorphins that morphine, codeine, and other narcotics/opiates do! Once these chemicals learn their neural pathways repetitiously, they take on a life of their own and without the consent of the host, they begin to call the shots.

There is a difference, however in degrees of this “drug abuse”, between cutters and biters.

Cutters are ritualistic. They prepare for their cutting and even just the very thought of their utensils and other preparatory goods will trigger the release of those euphoria-inducing endorphins. The adrenaline kicks off a bit, and the sympathetic nervous system goes into fight-or-flight mode. The heart beat speeds up, breathing becomes quicker, the pupils can either dilate or shrink, depending on the level of adrenaline, the palms may get sweaty- there are very physical changes that take place in cutters. Secrecy is a large part of their preparatory ritual. Contrary to what many people think about cutters trying to “get attention”, it’s quite the opposite. it’s not a “cry for help”; they’re often very secretive about their cutting.

Biters (of the tongue and cheeks) however are not ritualistic in their behaviors. I am a biter. (I would know.) Cutters have times throughout the day and night that they prefer to cut. Sometimes, it’s because of environmental factors, such as people being home or not, etc. Usually, they’re more systematic and methodical though. Biters don’t have to “plan” for biting. If the stress level rises, the tool is right there! The teeth get to work at once, nibbling first- scoping out the territory to find a good soft, painful, “raw” area to traumatize. And so it begins. The teeth start to dance in a bit of a frenzy, darting here and there, finding more flesh to attack- taste buds are mercilessly ripped off in pieces, or in whole- and then the host realizes what’s happening and the guilt comes in. The biter stops, and swears to try and stop for good. But by now, the endorphins have already been sent out and the mission has (temporarily) been accomplished. The “drug” has been partaken and the person has gotten his or her “fix”. Literally. Just like a drug.

And so it must be treated like a substance abuse issue also. it’s not merely a “psychological disorder”, like OCD. It’s very much a physiological disorder and should be handled as such. There absolutely will be withdrawals if a person tries to stop “cold turkey”. Perhaps not seizures or other dramatic withdrawal symptoms, but changes in appetite, sleep, stress levels, hormone levels, attention and focus, irritability, and other areas will absolutely be affected.

I wouldn’t recommend prescription medication in treating this type of disorder. Why treat a “neurochemical drug disorder” with drugs? I would recommend replacing the cutting/biting activity with other activities that release the same endorphins: laughter, sex, exercise, ginseng, vanilla scented aromatics, dark chocolate, a firm massage, and music- to name a few.

What’s helped me tremendously is pausing for a moment, when I realize my thoughts are going in that direction, and cleaning out my mind- immediately- taking a few deep breaths- calming myself, and I’ll “regroup” my thought processes. Usually, the # 1 trigger of biting/cutting is stress. I can’t really speak for cutters, as I’ve never really been a “cutter”, but the cutting/biting process is the same, so I would assume that cutters are triggered by stress as well. Even if it’s not an overt and obvious stress, stress is most likely the culprit.

There’s truth in the adage “mind over matter”. I was able to give birth to four children calmly through my determination and solid mindset. I had very little pain medication (I chose to have my 3 girls “all natural” so that I could be bonded with them in the pain process) and didn’t scream at all. I controlled my mind and told myself that the pain was “nothing at all”. And, through deep meditation and control, I was able to give birth without screaming and wailing. So, I do believe the same can be achieved by simply taking a moment, pausing- and telling myself that “biting isn’t the answer”.

At that moment, I can redirect my “biting thoughts” to the source of my stress.
After locating the source of my stress, I can then reroute my energy to do what I can to eliminate the stress, rather than cut my flesh with my teeth. In this way, I’m laying the axe to the root and over time and with practice, will become more successful and efficient at eliminating the biting(/cutting) altogether.

It has to be a conscious effort. And it has to be a cold, hard choice.

But these simple “mental exercises” shine the light on the problem area, allowing the person to see what is truly going on (and where), so that he or she does not continue to drone on in the same methodical disease-driven behavior, and to proactively and consciously choose a healthier path- one step at a time.

Footnote: Just as there are various degrees and types of substance abuse, there are various degrees and types of cutting/biting. One person’s combining factors may not be another’s. Each person must identify his or her own stressor/s and work to eliminate the source or sources of those stressors. If the person feels that he or she is the source of his or her own  stress, then rather than eliminate the source- try and peacefully merge to coexist harmoniously with oneself.

I hope this was of some help to some of you biters and cutters out there. Your mind is a very powerful machine. You absolutely have the goods to turn this thing around, and I wish you all the best. x

Rain

Image

Helios film lens 44-2/Flooded field/manual/natural lighting
Upside down reflection-taken yesterday

 

Call me Dr. Lindsey

Well, not quite yet, of course.

I have a long way to go. But I have it in my scope and it’s on my horizon. I don’t know how I’ve always known that one day I’ll be a doctor. When I was in Nursing (20 years ago), I was a top med. student (Phi Theta Kappa) and found out that I was really good in school. Who knew? I was an awful student in high school, elementary, and probably even kindergarten. But a destructive home life (and excessive abuse) played its heavy hand in my poor academics. I was traumatized year after year, because I had to live with the person who molested me. That wasn’t easy. Let’s just say I wasn’t given the same shot as others in life, starting out.

But perhaps this is why I’m so driven to succeed. I’m destined to be a success because I feel it. Just because I’m not who I want to be “right now” doesn’t mean that I won’t become who I know God is carving me out to be. He’s already shown me what my potential is: I just have to do the work. When the time comes- He’ll open the doors.

So I’ve decided to move in the direction of my greatest passion of all- even greater than photography and singing: criminal profiling. That’s right: I want to be the one who stalks the serial killers. This June I’ll be starting on my BA in Forensic Psychology, and then my goal is to work on my MA in Forensic Psychology and ultimately, my doctorate.

I suppose my childhood had something to do with my interest in criminology. My Dad used to read True Detective magazines- religiously. He was a single parent and was concerned about some of us kids roaming the streets. He wanted to show us what the world was really like. So, he sat my brothers and me down and shared with us the stories of many unfortunate women. The pics were in black and white and so the bloody crime scenes were particularly disturbing because the smeared blood was a hideous thick black. It altered the way I viewed things: I was 7, 8, 9 and 10.

For years we saw those photos: women who’d been mutilated, decapitated, and “posed” by their killer intentionally, to leave a message for the police. It was the killer’s calling card. Now I won’t agree with this style of parenting- it’s extreme. But I will say, it worked, because every time I thought about hitching a ride or getting in someone’s car, I saw those grizzly crime scenes: no doubt it saved my life many times.

When I was a teenager, I read every serial killer book I could get my hands on: Gacy, Bundy, The Green River Killer, Son of Sam, Richard Ramirez (the Night Stalker), TBK killer- the list is very long. For the next 20 years I studied criminology on my own, and for my own interest. I learned about luminol and other forensic applications, crime scenes, basic protocol, and various other areas of investigative work. Even now, the majority of all of the shows I watch are true crime: ID TV: Investigative Discovery.

I always knew I wanted to be a doctor, but not a medical one. And, I’ve always wanted to be a scientist, but not one who studies genes. Now I see clearly the direction I want to go in and the direction I’ve been prepping for my whole life: Forensic Psychology, also known as, criminal profiling.

The dog bite on my right ring finger recently was a blessing in disguise. Because I was unable to type for weeks, I had to hand write all of my notes out. And still I do. I have folders that are full of my note-taking and studies in my courses: it’s caused me to be able to retain almost all of my work.

I’m excited about this new direction I’m taking. it’s fairly common to fishtail around for the first few years in school and I’ve done my share of it, but I’ve never been more certain about anything in my life. This is right for me.

I’m 44 years old. My goal is to get my doctorate before I’m 50. It’s a lofty goal! But I’m dedicated.

Things are going great with Josh too. (This week.) We’ve decided to remain amicable (and VERY platonic) for the duration of the next few months. I’m so close to buying my own home! We’ve decided to have separate homes but remain in each others lives and help support each other in our scholastic endeavors. I want to be a profiler, he wants to build airplanes and fly them. I’m encouraging him to move in the direction of aerospace engineering. He’s got a brilliant mind and he’s without a doubt one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever known.

So I’m off to finish up a karyotyping/meiosis assignment in Biology. I’ve been reinstated in my Intro. to Social Work class which is good, but that means that I now have to knock out 4 months of work in only two. I’ve got this. ;)

Image

Resignation

“Why do you have a condom in your wallet?”

“What?”

“Why do you have a frikking condom in your wallet?  We were apart for 3 months, dude. Are you kidding me?!”

“Better to be safe than sorry. I was doing a lot of drinking…”

 

And so my day begins.
Seven years: and I’ve had eyes for nobody else. I deserve so much better than this. This winter had been near unbearable. I admit that I didn’t allow myself to think about “my man” at all, which is why I didn’t post anything about him here, because I didn’t allow myself to drown in memories of us. Too much of that can take you down like a bad ship. So I’ve been in survival mode trying to keep afloat academically, and sort out my personal life.

Most of my female friends, if not all, try to fill the emptiness and loneliness after a breakup almost immediately with another mate. They do the online dating thing and scout about for a warm body. They don’t allow themselves time to grieve or mourn and really FEEL the pain. Perhaps I’m wrong for doing so, but I embrace the pain. I welcome it. Because it tells me that what I had with my mate was real. It was valuable. It meant something. 

So I carry on during his absence- every time- alone. Not wanting him back right away, no. But still having eyes for nobody else because I feel I owe him that much. Seven years. How could I even consider thinking about finding somebody else? The idea repulses me because I gave that man every inch of my heart.

When you love somebody this hard- “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t exist.
I carry on alone and “keep the fort”; and so I did over the long winter- feeling as if my heart had been locked away in a cryogenic chamber, unable to feel great love anymore, or great passion.
But carry on alone I certainly did.

You?
I had hoped for better. I had hoped that the love you gave would have been just as honest and faithful.  Oh this wicked game…

Out of sight, out of mind.
Condom.
In your wallet.

And so you will never have me again.
I’ll go back to my corner.
There’s no fight.
No gloves.
No blood.

I resign.

StillLovingYou

 

It’s over.

Ode to Poppies

Image

Helios 44-2 film lens/Canon Rebel/natural lighting

Sex and Cupcakes

 

Image

It actually snowed yesterday. It’s March 26! I’ve never seen winter hold on with such an intense death hold. I’ve just popped off 6 Social Work assignments. The topics were:

  • schizophrenia
  • substance abuse
  • major depressive disorder
  • antisocial personality disorder
  • bipolar disorder
  • borderline personality disorder

Normally, I don’t stay up this late mastering assignments but one of my professors (mistakenly) dropped me from my Social Work Practice course. (I have the same professor for another course this semester as well.) It was an honest mistake, I suppose, so I won’t hold it against her, but it could have been completely avoided had she read my email correctly in its entirety the first time around. Without so much as a courtesy email in my direction- she dropped me. BAM. Just like that. It was pretty much uncalled for. I pointed out that I had asked for an extension in BOTH courses that she teaches, and after going back and rereading my email, she admitted that she’d overlooked that part. So…she agreed to reinstate me and so now I’m up at 3:22 in the morning getting some work done and sending business emails to the school’s director asking if she can expedite my reinstatement (because I’ve already lost a week in the course, unnecessarily).

The severe burn to my belly from my dying cat with feline AIDS and the equally severe dog bite to my right ring finger really threw me for a loop this semester! (That sounds utterly ridiculous. I know.)

The kitchen is spotless and I figured I owed Josh a good supper and some red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

I should write a post sometime on: How to Keep Your Man Happy 101

It would go something like this:

How to Keep your Man Happy 101

  • sex and homemade cupcakes

 

[The End]

Love is Grand and other Great Things

Image

Mr. Bob Hedge, himself (AKA: my son) /Helios film 44-2/natural lighting

So Josh is in the living room belting out a rock-blues ballad that he’s making up as he’s going along. Today we’re rejoicing: he just got a new job and I’m changing majors from Sociology to Criminal Justice. Hoo ha! I’m pretty excited about it. I’m thinking, I need to knock back this school thing while I’m in school-mode. A few more years! Two and a half, in fact. I’ve been told that up to 90 of my credit hours could transfer over to my BS in Criminal Justice. I’m pretty happy about that. Sociology is great and all, and I’m most passionate about that, but at the end of it all I’m going to need a jobby job, as in, actual “career”. Sociology doesn’t ensure that but Criminal Justice does. My dream job would be as a criminal psychologist or a Profiler, but that requires no less than a Master’s degree. Hmmm…we’ll see. I’ve decided to move in the direction of a probation officer for starters.

My plan is never vague or blurry when I calculate one. I gather facts, research, strategize, formulate the plan clearly, and execute it precisely. So the new plan is this (which could change at any time, mind you, but for now, it’s a done deal):

Short Term Goals

  • Transfer 30-60 Behavioral Sciences credit hours over to SNHU and apply them to new BS in Criminal Justice
  • Receive BS in Criminal Justice
  • Build up community work with PBS/Peanut Butter Soup- my children’s book- volunteer, etc. or possible school readings (This is the area that needs most attention) Ulterior motive: bulk up resume + gain experience

Long Term Goals

  • Work as probation officer/secure job for $30,000 to $35,000 annually-starting pay- minimum
    (The starting pay for most probation officer jobs is $35,000-$40,000)
  • Continue with Master’s degree in down time/online- snails’ pace, obviously (never more than two courses at any time)
    (Studying Criminal Psychology)
  • Work to pay off student loans and other debt (which is minimal)

I never envisioned moving into the direction of law enforcement (gasp!) but as a probation officer, I would need to be a licensed gun carrier, and, carry a badge. Yep. A badge. I’m halfway through the semester and am miraculously holding on to my A’s (and a B), so I’ll transition over to my new University in June to begin work on my Bachelor’s. Exciting stuff!

It’s interesting to think that the same prospect only one month ago made me want to shake, shudder, and run for the hills. That’s what utter loneliness can do for the soul! Despondency and silence eat away at the core until everything looks so grey and near impossible to achieve. I had predicted that my heart would thaw out this spring: who knew? :)

But love indeed has taken its toll on me and I’m helplessly goofy and happy lately. Josh makes an incredibly strong impact on me. Isn’t it funny how different people will reflect different parts of us? He reflects genuine goodness and he brings that out in me. I mentioned this to him one day and his reply was this, “I only reflect back what I see.”

[Kumbaya]

The kitchen is a wreck and I’m still in my PJ’s at 3:11 in the afternoon, but the sound of the electric guitar in the living room tells me to relax- take a break- smile, and let the dishes marinate a while longer.

Love has its ole hook in me once again.

Love is in the Air

Well life has been a crazy blur of love and laughter: the hardest winter of my life is over.  Josh has come back from Shelbyville, and from wintering with his family and Heidi is in from Portland, OR. Brianna is visiting with her boyfriend, Will, and the living room is abuzz with chatter and laughter: I’m positively ecstatic and my heart full of love again.

I’m still drowning in schoolwork- that seldom changes- and I’ll be starting my intern work at the Psych ward soon. Today I’ll be cramming 50 pages of sexual deviance into my head and testing before midnight. (Lovely.) And so I must get started.

I’m off to bake a homemade apple pie with Josh. I wanted to pop in and say that I’m still alive- not only that- but doing very well.

Life is sweet again. :)

Until next time!

Image

My son, Brian, and his little Mandy Tator Tots. Helios 44-2

Me and You

ImageCarl the kitty/Helios film

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 222 other followers