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Chronic Illness

Chronic Illness, Guest Posts, parenting

Little Elephant

December 12, 2018
elephant

By Amy D. Lerner

You know the story of the blind men and the elephant? They’re trying to figure out what this creature is in front of them. Each of the men feels a different part of the elephant, the trunk, the foot, the tail, and describes the elephant based on only that one part. They each come up with wildly different ideas about what an elephant is, and not one of them sees the big picture, the whole elephant.

My elephant is only 3 feet tall and 35 pounds, yet this story is still true.

Like many people, I make up stories and make metaphorical leaps, from an elephant to my four-year-old daughter, without even thinking about it. My mind is a runaway steam engine—I can’t help thinking of that image—and metaphors are the coal.

“The way we think, what we experience, and what we do every day is very much a matter of metaphor,” write George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in Metaphors We Live By, the seminal book on thinking in metaphors that was published in 1980. We tend to speak and think in metaphors without being aware of it and without stopping to think about how our metaphors are guiding us, but they are, Lakoff and Johnson insist.

Studies have shown that by thinking about the story of the blind men touching the elephant, it’s as if I’m actually touching the wrinkled and rough skin of an elephant. In other words, metaphors are stored in the same part of the brain as the things they represent: the idea of kicking the habit stimulates the same motor area of the brain as kicking a ball does. Metaphors are deeply embedded in our minds, and they’re linked to the most basic human functions. Continue Reading…

Binders, Chronic Illness, Guest Posts

The Fine Lines of Twitching

July 11, 2016

*photo credit: Tiffany Lucero

By Rebecca Swanson

A grimace here. A grimace there. No one has to know. Lock yourself in a bathroom stall and twitch, take a deep breath and head back to class. I could hide it. Except when I couldn’t.

“What’s wrong with your face?” People asked, in real life, years before the anonymous cloak of internet avatars. Classmates. Friends. I knew these people.

“Nothing,” I said. “What’s wrong with yours?” (I didn’t say, as I held my cheeks steady and retreated again to the ladies’ room, second stall from the left).

They rushed out when I got home, a frenzy of tics, a wild, flapping flock of pigeons startled from a perch. But quieter. They lasted through bedtime and woke me in the night. Gasping, sometimes, when I held my breath over and over. Is that even a tic? My abdomen muscles shredded, despite being an athlete. Do people know that it often hurts? Continue Reading…

Chronic Illness, Guest Posts, Young Voices

Do You See What I See?

April 20, 2016
illness

Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station. This is part of our Young Voices Series for Girl Power: You Are Enough. We are always looking for more writing from YOU! Make sure you follow us on instagram at @GirlPowerYouAreEnough and on Facebook here.

By Kristin George

You see a woman of twenty-five with curled hair and meticulously placed makeup. You see a woman with an assortment of dresses all vibrant in color. You see a woman with a smile lighting up her face. You see a woman who laughs freely and talks candidly. You see a woman who looks your definition of healthy.

You don’t see what I see. I see a woman nearly twenty-six whose body acts years beyond its age. I see a woman who wakes up every day with pain evident in her eyes. I see a woman who goes days, even weeks without ever stepping out of the house because the pain is too great and the effort is too tiresome. I see a woman who spends days in the hospital having procedures and tests. I see a woman who takes nearly thirty pills a day just to try and help her body function properly.

You see eyes lined with makeup. What you don’t see is that the makeup hides the pain in my eyes—the pain that I’m trying my best to hide.  You see vibrantly colored dresses. What you don’t see is my form underneath that fluctuates nearly every day with my difficulty to eat. You see a smile. What you don’t see is that underneath that smile lies anguish and pain. You see health because you can’t see underneath my outward appearance. What you don’t see is how hard my body has to work just to digest food or how hard it has to work just to walk around the house. Continue Reading…