Week Fifty-Six

My Favorite Bit of Information From The Week:

It is my pleasure to introduce a guest writer Megan DeVoe this week! She is an inspiring and strong human, and I hope you find her story as captivating as I do. 
A Tale Of Vasovagal Syncope:  
“I don’t remember the first time I passed out, I do remember though that it was a recurring experience in my adolescent and teenage years. I would be taking a test and would faint in front of my classmates or be having a difficult conversation and pass out. It was jarring. It wasn’t until I was 21 that my fainting became a real issue. I was driving on the highway headed home from a camping trip in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with my partner at the time. I had learned some upsetting news about a family member earlier in the week and was ruminating about it during the long drive home. I passed out while driving in the center lane of a five-lane highway. My partner was able to break the car using his left hand while steering with his right, getting us safely to the shoulder of the road. He was terrified and when I came to consciousness, I was too. After that I took my fainting very seriously. I saw a cardiologist, a neurologist, and other -ologists to get a read on what was happening so that I could avoid fainting. I also began seeing a therapist again (I had been in therapy prior but not at the time). After hearing the description of my symptoms upon our first meeting, my new therapist told me I had Vasovagal Syncope.

Vasovagal syncope for those of you – who like me at the time – have never heard of it is when you faint because your body overreacts to certain triggers, such as the sight of blood or extreme emotional distress. Also known as emotional fainting, vasovagal fainting is what you typically see happen to women in old movies when they discover their lover’s secret identity, or they’ve been betrayed in some significant way.

So, what happens when you have a vasovagal syncope or emotional fainting episode? Well, your nervous system is triggered by something distressing in your environment causing your vagus nerve – which is responsible for regulating your heart rate and other essential functions – to constrict, your blood pressure drops too much and your heart rate slows too quickly depriving your brain of the oxygen it needs to keep you conscious. The distressing factor in your environment doesn’t even have to be physical, i.e. fainting during a test, it can be perceived or psychological danger as your body can’t tell the difference.

If this sounds like something you, or someone you know, experience I can assure you that 1) it’s fairly common and 2) there are ways to manage it. According to J.Gert van Dijk, a neurologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, one-third of the population has vasovagal faints. For the third of us that live with or have experienced these jarring incidents of conscious-lessness, there are ways to manage it. Firstly, take care of yourself as best you can. For many of us that means paying attention to our bodies sleep, nutrition, hydration, and exercise needs and making sure we’re meeting them. It also means reducing our exposure to stressors or triggers, so make sure you’re being honest with yourself about who and what in your life adds to it and what detracts in a significant way. For those of you who find it helpful, I also recommend regular talk therapy as it’s been a literal lifesaver for me. If you feel an episode coming on – signs of these include dizziness, feeling sweaty all of a sudden, and blurred vision – ground yourself in your bodily reality. For me this looks like finding my breath in my body, breathing deeply, making fists, and scrunching my toes up and releasing them. If possible, make sure you alert someone to how you’re feeling and let them know how they can help – i.e. ensure that if you do pass out, you won’t hurt yourself and they’ll be there when you come to.

Learning what vasovagal syncope is helped me immensely. I was terrified to drive a car again after I passed out behind the wheel; the anxiety alone was enough to trigger another episode. Through ongoing talk therapy with my new therapist, conducting my own research on the condition, and learning how to control the condition, I was able to mitigate my symptoms and I’m happy to say I’ve not passed out since my last episode 8 years ago. If this has happened to you and you’d like to discuss it more, feel free to reach out to me at megankdevoe@gmail.com!” 

Vasovagal syncope:

The Atlantic – Why People Faint at the Theatre: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/09/for-the-faint-of-heart/540984/  

Update On My Show:

One Woman Hamlet Behind The Scenes!

Share it with folks if you feel cozy doing so. The more we talk of mental health, the more we break the stigma surrounding it in our culture

SAVE THE DATE! January 28th at The Hideout Inn! Please note: This show is for ages 21+; however, the future shows throughout the city will be for younger audiences. 

I will be introducing one of my amazing collaborators each week until January 28th the show! This week, is a double feature! 

A Bit About Head Director, Drew Shirley:

Drew Shirley is a director who lives in Chicago with his wife Erika, and his giant mastiff Birdie.  He has won the outstanding director award for Dennis Lehane’s (mystic river) “Coronado” from StageSceneLA.  He has directed Shakespeare and Sartre and Chekhov across the country and most recently Southwest Shakespeares “Macbeth”. He is currently directing for The Comrades theater company, THE LAYOVER a play by Leslye Headland (Russian Doll) at the Greenhouse Theater Center February 20- March 22,2020.

A Bit About Puppet Designer Noah Ginex:

Noah Ginex has been building creatures amd props around Chicagoland and across the country since 2003. A Joseph Jefferson Award Nominated puppet designer for the Avenue Q with Night Blue Entertainment,  Noah has also built creatures for Threadless, the Masters film program at FSU, the USNA Glee Club, and the Juno-Award Winning Barenaked Ladies to name a few, as well as producing his own show SNORF for three years. When not building, Noah can be seen hosting the quarterly Nasty Brutish and Short Puppet Cabaret with Rough House Theater.  Find out more at 
www.noahginex.com or google.


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