Coping Corner, Fall '96
By Jenn Waterman
Originally published in
Youth Allied By CFIDS, Fall 1996
Hello again and greetings from the Bay State! I hope that you're all
keeping warm this season and enjoying the cooler and drier weather. Each season
seems to have its CFIDS challenges but there is a special beauty to be found in
each as well. As I write this, autumn is just beginning here in Massachusetts
and I am pleased to welcome the crisp fresh air and bright leaves. There is
nothing better than apples, a warm, soft sweater, and the smell of fall in the
air. I hope that you all find some sunshine in your day! Without further ado I
present you with my second "Coping Corner" column.
"If I Only Had a
This is my personal
theme song, straight from the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Last Christmas my
mom even gave me a tee-shirt that had "Insufficient Memory at This Time"
emblazoned across the chest. "I am memory-free and proud of it!" the shirt seems
Memory problems are common and frustrating
to nearly all young persons with CFIDS (YPWCs). And with as many jokes as my
family and I make to deal with this, it's no laughing matter. Nearly every time
I sit down to do my schoolwork, I long for the days when it all came more
easily. After working hard on a unit in science or geography, I have sat down to
tests and found that nothing on the page looks familiar - even when I have just
studied the material the previous day, or even the previous hour.
Due to my frustrations and struggles with
this common CFIDS challenge, I have come up with a few things that help a little
and I wanted to share my ideas with you. If you have found any great "tricks,"
please share them with us!
I am currently "cramming" for a big science
test. Science is one of the more difficult subjects I have, because it is
chock-full of facts that my head is determined to forget. The big, technical
words just roll right out of my brain. However, I have done fairly well in this
subject so far this school year because I have found a few little "tricks" that
help me in my studying.
One thing to remember is repeat, repeat,
repeat. Take notes, make flash cards and write down the words and information
again and again. I find that the more times I spell the facts out, the more
likely they are to come to me when I need them.
Follow the advice of YPWC Chelsea Berns and
have friends, family members and neighbors record chapters from your school
books onto a cassette so that you can have the words read aloud to you as many
times as necessary.
My favorite trick is to make posters to
hang around my room. As I study the earth's air and water in the science unit
that I am currently immersed in, I have drawn bright pictures and diagrams that
cover my walls. I see them every day but I am not working hard to read them or
to learn from them; unconsciously and casually I am picking up the information
in a way that doesn't tax my brain. Plus, in writing and drawing, I come to
understand the material better. And when I move onto a new unit in science I
will have new things to see on these four walls that I spend so much time with.
Sweet Dreams. Or
I hate those long,
dark nights when I am unable to fall asleep. It's easier than ever to feel sad,
scared, alone and overwhelmed when you lay there staring at the ceiling with
wide-open eyes. Each minute that my clock loudly ticks off is another without
sleep. Each noise in the night is magnified. Each thing that I am not doing
comes to haunt me. I become convinced that every single person on the planet is
snoring somewhere. except me. I feel alone and isolated. I'm exhausted but the
sandman seems to have forgotten me. I sigh. Punch my pillow. Roll over. Yawn.
Count the cracks on the ceiling in the moonlight. Roll over. Sigh.
Many of you know what I am talking about
because you have experienced a lonely sleepless night. or two. or a hundred. The
next time that you are plagued with insomnia, you can think of me and I'll think
of you, and we'll know that someone else is awake thinking of us. However, if
this fails to comfort you, occupy your mind and lull you to sleep, you'll have
to find something else to do. There are many things that can be done when
insomnia strikes, but often, as we lie there in the dark, we are unable to think
of them. That's where the "Coping Corner" comes in handy. Keep me by your bed or
hang me on the ceiling (careful, I'm afraid of heights!) and when the sandman
fails to show up some night you'll know just what to do!
Here's an idea: Find yourself an empty box.
Decorate the outside of the box however you wish. Maybe some old wrapping paper,
some stickers, a few sparkles, some stars, pictures cut from a magazine - use
your imagination. This is your Dream Box. A Dream Box is an activity box that
you fill with things to do when you are awake and alone at night. You can keep
it by your bed and it will keep you busy until you fall asleep.
On the inside cover of my Dream Box you'll
find a picture of my friends and a few words, phrases and poems that make me
smile. The first things that go into my Dream Box are some magazines. Magazines
are better for your Dream Box than books because they often require less
concentration to read. (Before I go any further, please note that you will not
want to put anything too engrossing into the box or you may be awake until the
sun rises.) I'm putting in my walkman and some tapes that I made with my
favorite songs on them. Next to go in are my Potato Head people. I've heard that
these are preschool toys, but they are a fun activity when you're lying down in
bed. I have a whole Potato Head family and I am 18 years old. I'm not ashamed to
admit it. Just don't spread this around.
I need your help in filling my Dream Box!
What are some of your ideas? What do you like to do when you have insomnia? Let
me know and we can share your great ideas with everybody else. You'll never be
alone with insomnia again.
As the cooler
weather moves in, I take extra special care of my plants. I have four plants
that hang out in my room. Not all of them have names, and they are not quite
equal to my cats in my affections, but I cherish them all the same. As the snow
piles up outside my window in the winter, I water my plant friends, warm them
under my lamp, sing to them a bit, feed them and watch them grow. It's a little
piece of the outdoors and a little bit of sunshine and greenery to brighten up
my room. I like to watch them grow bigger and stronger under my care.
There are many kinds of plants that could
flourish with a bit of care from you. You could grow herbs in a small box on
your windowsill. You could get a venus flytrap to gobble down the occasional bug
in your bedroom. Perhaps a philodendron would make your bookshelves into a small
garden. If you don't get out much, you can have a little piece of the planet
right at your fingertips. Surround yourself with living things. And if you feel
so inclined, give each a name.
Have fun and I'll see you next