September 19, 2014

Writing as a Righting Journey

 

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Writing as a “Righting” Journey

 

THROUGH WRITING WE CAN:

Ø    Explore the ways illness effects our lives

Ø    Find courage to go deeper, discovering new meaning or affirming values we already hold

Ø    Have an opportunity to share our lives with others and find community

 

GOALS:

Ø    Provide parents structure for giving voice to their experiences of having a child living with a chronic illness,  e.g. changes in emotional, physical and social life

Ø    Provide immediate and on-going options for writing on one’s own and in a group

Ø    Provide books, readings, (fiction, non-fiction, poetry) that speak to a variety of issues surrounding illness, healing and caretaking

 

WHY:

“One of the more common challenges parents face when managing the care of their chronically ill children is that they simply may not have the ability to cope. Generally, the research shows that when moms are depressed, adherence [to the child’s medical needs..] will go down…”

 

Research also shows that emotions are centered and experienced by the part of the brain known as the amygdala. This is part of the early brain, the limbic system. Trauma and highly charged emotions can keep us centered in that area of the brain and not allow us to use our higher centers of thinking, the frontal cortex. In order to assess and move on from being stuck in feeling, to thinking about our feelings and then move into action or decision-making, we need to connect feelings to thinking, the amygdala needs connection to the frontal cortex.  Judy Willis, a neuroscientist and writing teacher has shown that writing can do just that.

 

From both personal experience and observation, I have seen that writing can ameliorate feelings of depression, thereby increasing a parent’s ability to, cope with daily life and care for, their child.  Writing in a group can also allow one to realize they are not alone and gain support for their struggles.

 

One participant of the first WARJ group had this to say when asked what she got out of it at the end of our 6 month sessions:

“…feeling understood and not alone…[it was]…much better than a support group for me as instead of commiserating we were putting our energy and feelings into art that heals and allows for release as well as a powerful way to share with others.”

 

WHO & WHEN:

Ø    This group will be open to parents of children with a chronic illness.

Ø    We will meet 8-9 times over a 9 month period.

Ø    Each session will last 1.5 hours in Seattle, Washington

 

The workshop is led by Suzanne Edison, MA. She is a psychotherapist, poet and mother of a child with Juvenile Myositis. She is also the Family Support Director for the Cure JM Foundation.  She has led workshops and given presentations on the Effects of Chronic Illness on Families and Coping with Chronic Illness to parents and medical professionals.  She also was awarded grants to write and publish two chapbooks of poems based on her journey and other parents with their chronically ill child.  She has poems published in many journals and anthologies.  For more information please see her website, www.seedison.com.

Teens Writing from the Heart of Illness & Healing–a workshop series

This is a flyer and announcement of an upcoming, 8-week workshop I’m going to teach here in Seattle.  Please feel free to send this link to anyone you think could benefit. They must live in the city of Seattle and preferably, but not exclusively, in the central and south parts.

Teens Writing from the Heart of Illness & Healing

poetry

Are you a teen with an ongoing mental health or chronic health issue?

Do you write, or wish you could express your feelings and thoughts about your illness and healing, through writing?

In this 8 week workshop we will explore various writing forms as a way to express your health and healing experiences. There will be a final reading and published book of your work for friends and family. We will explore writing through these, and other, topics:

Coping, Hoping and Letting Down

The Body as Metaphor, The Body as Healer, The Body in Music and Art

I Am Not My Illness/What You Don’t Know About Me

WHEN: Thursdays, beginning September 19 – November 14, 2013

TIME: 4:00 – 5:30 pm

WHERE: Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, 2101 E. Yesler Way

WHO: Teens aged 12-18 yrs.

OTHER: Metro tickets available on need basis

 

FINAL READING: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013

This workshop is led by poet and author, Suzanne Edison. Suzanne is the parent of a child living with an autoimmune illness and has written extensively about her journey as a parent. She has taught movement, writing and creative expression to teens in schools and formerly in her work as a psychotherapist. She is the family support director for the Cure JM Foundation, a member of the Family Advisory Committee at Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) and teaches a writing workshop for parents of children with chronic illness at SCH.

 

This project is funded by the Youth Arts program of the City of Seattle and supported by Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, a Seattle Children’s Hospital affiliate.

 

For more information or to sign up, contact either:

Seema Mhatre, LICSW, MPH — Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic   206-987-7222           seemamhatre@seattlechildrens.org   or

Suzanne Edison, MA – suzanne.edison@curejm.com

Interview with Steve Scher on KUOW

This morning, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, I was a guest on KUOW’s Weekday program with Steve Scher talking about writing and healing. For those of you who didn’t get to hear the show, you can go to the website and hear the podcast.

I will reiterate my basic messages here.

1) When children are sick, the whole family is affected.

2) Parents go through many stages of grief and loss, similar to stages of death and dying, on their journey with an ill child.
3) Using the arts, in this case writing, as a form of healing allows us to both feel our experience and learn to think without denying those feelings. The act of creation is both a way to re-energize our “wellsprings” and an opportunity to make sense and/or meaning out of our experiences.                                          

Also, I didn’t get a chance to completely make a pitch for my writing workshop at Seattle Children’s Hospital, called Writing as a Righting Journey, so I want to do that here.  This workshop is open to any parent with a child living with ongoing health issues. You do not have to be a writer, no experience needed. It is free. Please contact me for more information.

And if you want to read more of the poems that have come from my interviews/conversations with parents, please go to the online store here, to purchase a copy of What Cannot Be Swallowed.   Tune in on Wednesday, Jan. 30th to KUOW between 2-3 pm to hear 2 of these poems.

2nd Writing as a Righting Journey

 

Writing as a “Righting” Journey

 

THROUGH WRITING WE CAN:

Ø    Explore the ways illness effects our lives

Ø    Find courage to go deeper, discovering new meaning or affirming values we already hold

Ø    Have an opportunity to share our lives with others and find community

 

GOALS:

Ø    Provide parents structure for giving voice to their experiences of having a child living with a chronic illness,  e.g. changes in emotional, physical and social life

Ø    Provide immediate and on-going options for writing on one’s own and in a group

Ø    Provide books, readings, (fiction, non-fiction, poetry) that speak to a variety of issues surrounding illness, healing and caretaking

 

WHY:

“One of the more common challenges parents face when managing the care of their chronically ill children is that they simply may not have the ability to cope. Generally, the research shows that when moms are depressed, adherence [to the child’s medical needs..] will go down…”

 

Research also shows that emotions are centered and experienced by the part of the brain known as the amygdala. This is part of the early brain, the limbic system. Trauma and highly charged emotions can keep us centered in that area of the brain and not allow us to use our higher centers of thinking, the frontal cortex. In order to assess and move on from being stuck in feeling, to thinking about our feelings and then move into action or decision-making, we need to connect feelings to thinking, the amygdala needs connection to the frontal cortex.  Judy Willis, a neuroscientist and writing teacher has shown that writing can do just that.

 

From both personal experience and observation, I have seen that writing can ameliorate feelings of depression, thereby increasing a parent’s ability to, cope with daily life and care for, their child.  Writing in a group can also allow one to realize they are not alone and gain support for their struggles.

 

One participant of the first WARJ group had this to say when asked what she got out of it at the end of our 6 month sessions:

“…feeling understood and not alone…[it was]…much better than a support group for me as instead of commiserating we were putting our energy and feelings into art that heals and allows for release as well as a powerful way to share with others.”

 

WHO & WHEN:

Ø    This group will be open to parents of children with a chronic illness. Any family dealing with Rheumatic diseases (JM, JRA), Diabetes, other Endocrine diseases, Gastroenterological diseases, Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia are welcome to join.

Ø    We will meet 5-6 times over a 5 month period.

Ø    Each session will last 1.5 hours in Seattle, Washington

 

The workshop is led by Suzanne Edison, MA. She is a psychotherapist, poet and mother of a child with Juvenile Myositis. She is also the Family Support Director for the Cure JM Foundation.  She has led workshops and given presentations on the Effects of Chronic Illness on Families and Coping with Chronic Illness to parents and medical professionals.  She also was awarded grants to write and publish a chapbook of poems based on her journey with her child. A recent poem, Bloodwork, was awarded an honorable mention in the Charles Prize for Poetry contest.  For more information please see her website, www.seedison.com.


 

Writing as a “Righting” Journey

January 2011-June 2011

This is a workshop designed for parents of children with a chronic illness, to explore and share their thoughts, feelings and experiences about their medical and healing journey, through writing.

It will be offered again beginning in fall of 2011.  Stay tuned for more details.