Jaid Black: The Queen of Steam

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Panic Attack Relief & Guided Meditations

October 19, 2014

I've always been very open about the fact that I struggle with Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia, which is presumably why so many women in the same boat contact me for advice. (This Thanksgiving Eve will mark... geez... year 12?) I'm not in the medical field so bear that in mind, but I will give you a rundown on what has helped relieve my symptoms. 

  1. Beta blockers - taken daily
  2. Zoloft - taken daily
  3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) - done daily
  4. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) - done daily
  5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) - done daily
  6. Xanax - taken ONLY when absolutely needed

 

*Beta Blockers are prescribed to heart patients and to PD patients. What they do is stop your resting heart rate from taking unwarranted, unnecessary spikes that lead to Tachycardia (100+ beats per minute, or BPM.) Tachycardia in and of itself isn't usually serious from what I've been told, but repeated, prolonged episodes of it can lead to a stroke. Interestingly and sadly, it wasn't until I moved to Los Angeles for therapeutic help (in year 10) that a doctor prescribed them for me (in year 11.) My doctor is still shocked that he was the first to prescribe them after having seen more doctors than I can count. At any rate, being on a beta blocker has been a true godsend.

 

*Zoloft actually made my symptoms worse before making them better. Relief didn't start kicking in until after about 2 weeks. 

Unfortunately, I know lots of PD patients who gave up Zoloft after a few days because they (understandably) couldn't handle their symptoms getting worse before calming. What I've recommended to others in the past is ask your doctor to prescribe Xanax to take in conjunction with the Zoloft for a couple of weeks... this mitigates the effects of your seratonin levels going bonkers while your body adjusts to the Zoloft. Unless things have changed since I started taking Zoloft, it's the only PD medication that also works on PTSD and OCD symptoms at the same time. 

 

*Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) will give you pronounced, noticeable, longterm relief from PD. PMR is the tensing and squeezing of each muscle group from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, done one muscle group at a time. It takes about 20 minutes to do and should be done daily. Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate a single guided PMR audio CD or download so I had to make my own. You can download my (amateur!) one by requesting it here. I created it using the actual text of a PMR session and combined it with a common anti-anxiety meditation. I think the total length runs 25 minutes.

 

*Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT, is the brainchild of Dr. Marsha Linehan. Originally created to combat Borderline Personality Disorder, her groundbreaking research is truly a godsend for people with all different types of anxiety disorders. The gist of DBT is practicing "mindfulness," which is being in the moment rather than distracted or preoccupied, while performing "opposite action." So for someone like me who struggles with agoraphobia, an opposite action can be something as mundane as a trip to the grocery store. Linehan (I highly recommend ANY of her videos) explains the need for "opposite action" in a brilliantly simplistic way: if we avoid the things, people, and situations that are anxiety-provoking rather than face them, our brains never get the chance to recognize that we can face those things, people, and situations without anything unbearable happening. Exposure therapy is a big part of DBT because the more we expose ourselves to fears, the faster our brains start processing those fears as mundane. This workbook is a great starting tool.

 

*Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, never helped me as a solo endeavor, but when used in conjunction with DBT... Bamm! Immediate results. (Insert amusing note: my oldest daughter was appalled when I told her the name of my therapy and asked me what in the world Cock & Ball Torture had to do with panic attacks. I told her not THAT kind of CBT and then asked how she even knew what THAT kind was. "Hello. Well past 21 here," she said. I winced.) But I digress...

 

DBT deals mainly in behavior, while CBT deals mainly in thoughts—namely in challenging dysfunctional thoughts. A lot of the time people with PD experience anxiety and avoid specific situations (and sadly even new situations) where we fear anxious feelings will come into play, even though we don't know why we're anxious about it to begin with! (This typically happens after having PD for a long period of time, during which agoraphobia is usually—but not always—present.) So CBT teaches us how to catch and identify the core belief (thought) that is causing the anxiety and challenge it. If you'd like more information, I'm happy to post "thought records" (just ask) and there are books on the subject, though I've never read any of them so cannot comment on their helpfulness or lack thereof. This researcher is usually on top of his game, but the text appears to be a workbook for clinicians rather than patients. (Can't hurt to try it though!)

 

*Xanax is a very controversial drug mainly because (a) a lot of people who don't need it use it recreationally and (b) some people who do need it abuse it. Xanax carries a risk of dependency, and if used frequently, tolerance. As I never want to build tolerance to the one medicine (for me) that's been able to stop a full-fledged panic attack, I take Xanax only when all other remedies fail. That stated, if you have PD, no history of drug and/or alcohol abuse, and your doctor still refuses to prescribe it... get a different doctor. You don't want a pill pusher, but neither do you want a doctor who won't prescribe it just because they don't believe it's necessary. (Try having an attack, doc, and we'll see how quickly your tune changes!) If at all financially possible and covered by your insurance, actively seek out a psychiatrist prominent in the field of anxiety. What I've learned to look for is a psychiatrist who:

  • Has a small practice because s/he is still...
  • Researching and teaching grad students (important because it's a pretty decent indicator s/he is up-to-date on the latest research and available treatments)
  • Is NOT a pill-pusher

XANAX IS ONLY TO BE TAKEN WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS!!!! In a later post I will get into different remedies you can use in lieu of Xanax that will work the majority of the time. For now, one effective remedy that works for me is drinking a bottle of ice-cold water as quickly as I can. (This is a DBT technique I learned from Linehan.) For physiological reasons I won't get into in this particular post, your body temperature tends to rise during an attack. The ice-cold water is a fast way to help your body physiologically return to homeostasis. (It really does work!)

 

If you've gotten this far into my post, chances are you or someone you love is suffering from debilitating panic attacks. I deeply empathize with you and promise that it will get better if you're proactive! Here in Los Angeles where everyone has a psychiatrist and there is zero stigma attached to it, it's a lot easier to get better faster. Having spent a decade in PD hell while living in the midwest and south, I'm also deeply aware of the stigma attached to anything that deals with "mental." So know this: PD isn't even classified as a mental disorder anymore, but as a physical one. The nasties that take potshots are making fun of you for a disease you didn't ask for, want, or can be cured of. But just because you can't be cured, you can learn how to effectively cope. 

 

In closing, I'm going to leave you with some free, guided meditations from UCLA's MARC (Mindful Awareness Research Center) that I've also found very helpful. Click here for their website. 

 

Always remember: pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

 

Jaid xo

 

For the Silenced Victims...

October 4, 2014


I keep receiving the same emails and PMs every single day, just from different people. What every message has in common is this: anyone who shows even minimal public support for EC is getting viciously cyber-bullied into terrified silence.


Never in my lifetime have I seen such a phenomenon. Until now I'd only read about it in history books concerning the Salem Witch Trials and the communist red-hunts of the McCarthy era. Some book review sites (blogs basically) have gone so far as to blacklist EC titles. Ironically enough they started this campaign during "Banned Books Week" and are encouraging readers to not buy any book published by EC or the books of authors supporting EC. They claim to be doing this in the name of freedom of speech, yet conversely they stifle dissenting opinions with vicious attacks en masse. 

 

I literally can't count how many screenshots I have taken—and that's just me!—of authors and readers being cyber-bullied into silence. The very first person to take a massive, public hit was #1 NYT Bestselling author Jamie McGuire. Mind you, Ms. McGuire does not write for EC, has no connection to EC, and our paths have never crossed online or offline. She made one supportive tweet and was so viciously attacked with McCarthyist "you're a traitor" tweets that she later removed it. To Ms. McGuire's credit, however, she didn't allow herself to be silenced for long.

 

Jamie McGuire is only one of many. I applaud her for having the strength of character to not shut up and sit down at the back of the bus... and I'm glad her following is too strong and loyal to be swayed into not buying her books. For many EC authors, though, their entire livelihoods are at stake. They're literally damned if they do and damned if they don't.

 

So why is this happening to EC at all? I'm not sure there is one solid answer, but there is a definite and noticeable trend:

 

The initial gossip was started by authors who wanted their rights back to EDITED & CONTRACTED books for FREE. Presumably, given the current publishing climate, this is so they could turn around and self-publish them without EC getting any cut in profit. Never mind that we contracted the books (work/money) and edited the books (more work/money) and publicized the books (yet more work/money) and took a chance on their unknown names (money.) The sense of entitlement being displayed is as immoral as it is illegal.

 

Given the illegalities of it, some authors started spreading the rumor that EC doesn't pay its authors and pleaded with the public to not buy their titles since they weren't getting paid anyway. Why would they do this when they were/are getting paid? Because the only way to get their rights back both free and legally is to sell under a certain number of copies within a specific timespan. Never mind what those rumors would do to their fellow EC authors—they are apparently only collateral damage in the war of self-entitlement.

 

Let's take a look at this September 25th post from author Cat Grant, wherein she garners sympathy for herself by claiming she isn't getting paid her royalties:

 

 

But then two days later, on September 27th, she posts completely different information on yet another blog:

 

 

 

So she's not getting paid, but she's getting paid? The truth will definitely catch up with her, so Ms. Grant is now throwing in the red herring of "but God only knows if they're accurate." She previously stated on her own blog:

 

 

We warned our authors that sales at Amazon are down, she admits her self-pubbed books at Amazon are down, but then...

 

 

 

Basically we're being accused of cheating her because her sales are down at EC, but her sales directly through Amazon/Kindle are also down per two of her own posts and she's not accusing them of anything. So why us? Oh right...

 

 

 

 

The sad and sick part to all her online reindeer games is that NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON HAS CALLED HER OUT ON THEM. On the contrary, other authors are coming to her defense and claiming the same sorts of things as this author. 

 

Paradoxically, while some authors (mind you this is maybe 15-20 out of 800+ playing this game) are saying they too aren't getting paid, they are also publicly claiming they are afraid of being sued by us for speaking their twisted "truths." Here's a groundless tweet from another author:

 

 

It should be noted that EC has never—not once in 14 years—sued an author. Can I say that record will remain intact, given the cyber-bully smear campaign we're enduring? No. It's difficult to say what position we'll be forced into.

 

What I can say with all certainty is I'm not going to be a victim of female on female misogyny, their male recruits, and the resulting childish harassment tactics being leveled at me. When I suggested that spectators take the time to gather facts before jumping to conclusions, my extremely reasonable request was followed up with tweets like this:

 

 

She also sent a photo of her giving me the finger, but you get the point without me posting that. And then came this... 

 

 

One author in particular, an author I've never published, met, or even heard of until the cyber-bullying smear campaign began, decided it would be fun to make the attacks even more personal:

 

 

Not only is she throwing thinly veiled jabs at my hair and multi-cultural / multi-racial family (re: cultural appropriation,) but she's attempting to trivialize the civil rights work I've been doing since my early twenties. I've marched in countless protests against police brutality in the inner city, the continued disenfranchisement of poverty-stricken women and their children who direly need help (welfare,) the right to choose (though I've never had an abortion,) and was the media spokesperson for Tampa NOW (National Organization for Women.) To this day, a photo of me protesting cuts to welfare remains on the banner of "herstory" on Florida NOW's website. I'm the curly-haired one on the upper-left:

 

 

Oh and FYI: Courtney Milan called me "Tina Englero" because I spelled her name "Milano" when referencing earlier posts by her. The very self-important author apparently thinks everyone knows—or cares—who she is and that I purposely misspelled her name to be disrespectful. (I'm not quite certain how "Milano" is disrespectful, but whatever.) Interestingly, MilaN has been tweeting and posting all over the internet about me and she has (a) never met me, (b) isn't one of my authors, and (c) knows literally nothing about me other than whatever gossip she's heard.

 

The thing is, Milan, you and your bizarro followers neither frighten nor intimidate me with all the misogynist, bigoted ramblings. Because of my civil rights work, the work you attempted to trivialize and denigrate, my skin is as thick as my ass is fat. I've had more death threats than a few because of my activism so you're as scary to me as a shit under my shoe. You dared me to sue you. Why would I? You're entitled to your opinion, however abominable it might be.

 

Anyway, enough of her and back to the important heart of the matter:

 

Right now EC's loyal authors are afraid to speak up because they've seen what happens to everyone who does. That will pass soon enough. Eventually they will be pushed past the breaking point by those attempting to stifle their freedom of speech and their right to earn an honest living by the MCCarthyist tactics being thrown at them. Until they are prepared to show themselves, I'm here to give them a voice... and I, for one, will not be harassed into silence.

 

Jaid / Tina

 

Female Sexuality Under Fire... Again

August 24, 2014

Updated 8/25/14:

(original post has been revised to reflect the most current information available)

 

As many of our authors are aware, Amazon has been pulling down titles with content that explores the "forced seduction" fantasy and other content they subjectively consider to be too adult. Additionally, we have been told to redo covers they consider racy, but racy has been vaguely defined.

 

I'm not certain why or when this trend toward the prurient began, but I strongly advise my authors to NOT bow to censorship. As the self-published titles at Amazon are not being held under the same levels of scrutiny, I wonder at the motivation. Interestingly, Google has now jumped on the censorship bandwagon and removed 45 85 of our titles from their store. Again, I am advising my authors to NOT bow to censorship. 

 

Update 1: I've received emails and posts from erotic romance authors at other publishers that complain of the same treatment from Amazon. I received one FB post from an Amazon-published author also complaining of the same things. Censorship? The left hand not talking to the right one? Color me baffled.

 

Update 2: I erroneously reported that Google removed 45 of our titles; at the time I initially posted the count had reached 85.

 

Jaid

 

"Fear, once acquired, is very difficult to rid yourself of." - Robert Fisk

 

* * * * *

Disclaimer: every proprietary email sent by EC to our authors is invariably leaked to blogs and online forums so there is little point in making them private. Any and all inquiries about topics posted here should be sent to theeternaltubthumper@gmail.com.

 

Rumor Control: Advances

August 23, 2014

Ellora's Cave does NOT pay advances to ANY author, be they unknown or famous. We experimented with that once many years ago and ultimately found that our business model was all around more profitable. 

Jaid

*****

Disclaimer: every proprietary email sent by EC to our authors is invariably leaked to blogs and online forums so there is little point in making them private. Any and all inquiries about topics posted here should be sent to theeternaltubthumper@gmail.com.

 

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