Help Two Sleepless Nights and nothing is clear

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Callum, Mar 7, 2007.

  1. Callum

    Callum New Member

    I am not sure if this belongs on the medical board or chit chat, so I’m posting on both.

    I was cast in two plays this summer. The rehearsal schedule will be seven hours a day, six days a week. I could probably handle that, except after reading the scripts, I discovered that in one play, I’m on stage for almost the entire time, and I NEVER SIT DOWN! The other play is not as physically demanding, but my character does have a lot of stage time.

    I don’t know how other’s handle standing for long periods of time, but for me, it’s almost like doing cardio. I’m worried that I will go into a flare almost immediately, and won’t be able to recover.

    I am struggling with so many thoughts right now. Will this mean that, yes, I will be cranky and foggy and in pain, but if I keep in mind this is what I love to do, I can get through it? Will it be the thing that sends me over the edge into a “can’t get out of bed for weeks” spiral? In which case, they would have to recast the role, maybe with very little notice? Should I quit now, and never give myself the opportunity to see if I could do it? And possibly ruin my chances of working with this company with which I have a 8 year history?

    And this is what is expected of actors. Why am I acting when every time I get cast I have to ask myself, “Will this be too much?”

    And if I don’t act, what am I supposed to do with my life? I’m 42 next week, and have nothing to show for it, except a loving, supportive partner. God, the thought of an office job is enough to make me want to stop eating! Okay, nothing could make me want to stop eating, but you know what I mean…

    A couple of nights ago, I had a dream – I was supposed to be at this large auditorium starring in a remounting of a show I’d done last year. I had sort of the “God’s eye view”, as I saw the rest of the cast waiting for me, wondering where I was. And then the dream cut to me, standing in a river, weighing down my pockets with rocks a la Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf in “The Hours”, and I thought “I hate water. I’m so afraid of drowning. But if will feel so good to let go.” LET ME STRESS!!! This was not a suicide dream, I’ve had no thoughts of harming myself, and in the dream, I had no thoughts of harming myself.

    But I don’t know if it symbolized me wanting to let go of expectations of me, of letting go of my past life, of letting go of my dreams…

    If I had MS, or Parkinson’s, I would have no guilt or fear of calling up the director and saying, “I’m not physically up to the challenge of both roles.” But since it’s this DD, I seem to be afraid of “caving in.” Of proving my parents right that I’m “lazy.” I don’t want it bad enough to put up with pain and discomfort.

    Is this true? Would someone else, with different wiring, say “So what if I’m physically miserable for nine weeks. It’s what I love to do.”

  2. AnneTheresa

    AnneTheresa Member

    Whatever decision you make will be the right one.

    I have on several occasions, pushed myself beyond my usual limitations and the outcome has varied from situation to situation.

    Generally speaking (and probably on a much smaller scale) I have learned that it's worth pushing myself do the things I love, knowing I'll be in need of some TLC along the way and a long rest and recoup afterward.

    However, If you decide it's too much for you ("I don’t want it bad enough to put up with pain and discomfort.") then please don't let guilt, fear, or what others think of you keep you from letting go of one of the plays. Your decision should be all about you.

    You've already spent two days and nights mulling it over so my advice to you is this: Say a little prayer, make a decision and don't look back.

    God bless,
    Anne Theresa
  3. Callum

    Callum New Member

    Anne Theresa - Thanks for your lovely feedback and the prayers.

    Prickles - It starts in May. So why am I stressing now? Because I just got the scripts. And there AREN'T understudies. And, two years ago, I was cast in two plays with the same company, and they were both very physically demanding (running around for two hours, fencing, etc...), and I had to drop one of them 8 days into rehearsals, which caused the director to scramble to recast. So, I feel I couldn't do the same thing to them - they were so forgiving the first time.

    The problem is, they understand the cardio/aerobic concern; It never occurs to people that don't have this disease that standing has a similar affect (it never would have occured to me!) So, I know that the producer thought, "These aren't physically demanding, and Bill would be perfect for them." And they're great roles! But the difference of rehearsing on my feet solidly for seven hours, and rehearsing where I'm sitting a good portion of that time, is like night and day...

    I think I know what I, in good concsience, should do. I just don't know if I'm a big enough man to do it...
  4. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    First of all, Happy Birthday in advance! (Just had mine Monday. I'm subtracting years now!) This will probably turn into a long response, but I really hope it helps. You can tell my brain works overtime too....hope this stuff isn't too obvious/trite or sounding too much like pop-psychology.

    First of all, you have MUCH to show for your 42 years. In a few of the posts that I've read of yours, I've noticed that you've experienced some self-doubt. Welcome to the club!

    I really think that ALL OF US/MOST OF US here feel self doubt at least some of the time because we know that we can't physically perform nearly to the extent that we used to, and we see many people around us doing so. It can really start to eat away at us and furthermore, we very much want to do what others are doing. Bottom line: it stinks! It's hard not to absorb it, internalize it and let it eat away at our confidence.

    Also, somehow with fibromyalgia and CFS, not everyone knows what it is or even recognizes it as a full-fledged illness---therefore some people think we are lazy, even our own family members, and many of them aren't shy in telling us. We can often internalize what they are saying and think "gee, maybe I AM lazy". Isn't it ridiculous?

    Therefore, sometimes people (at least I do) tend to mask how we are feeling. Based on what you wrote ('But since it's this DD, I seem to be afraid of "caving in" Of proving my parents right that I’m “lazy.” ) It sounds like your parents are fueling this mindset. And furthermore that it's contributing to your feelings of self-doubt. I'm SO SORRY! That's not helping you out at all.

    By recognizing these two things (the mindset of "hey, I might be a little lazy--my parents are right" and the self-doubt that comes from it), I hope that eventually you will be able to free yourself from it. As I'm sure you know, this will not be instantaneous, especially when parents are involved, but hopefully with time and working on it (fun, I know), it will unfetter and unclutter your brain and take a good chunk of stress off of you (is this sentence long enough?). I truly think we all go through this, or are going through it now to some degree. It truly makes fibro a DD b/c it's so invisible.

    With Parkinsons and MS, it's not as invisible. No one questions the laziness. You want to prove you AREN'T lazy as well. I've done that also. And then it backfires big-time. Back to that paragraph you wrote which is so key: ["If I had MS, or Parkinson’s, I would have no guilt or fear of calling up the director and saying, “I’m not physically up to the challenge of both roles.” But since it’s this DD, I seem to be afraid of “caving in.” I don’t want it bad enough to put up with pain and discomfort."]

    I think you are also fearing what your director will say. If your parents think you are lazy, the director probably will too. That's a tough one and completely understandable.

    *No wonder you are having conflict. Which one is going to "win" in your brain? The so called "laziness" or proving that you "aren't lazy", which risks your health?

    I think that b/c you've gotten a negative, unsupportive reaction from your parents (GRRR!!) re: your health, you expect it from others and no doubt you have. It's so understandable. However, indeed, you are answering your own question. I think the bottom line is that if you had any other health condition that was more understood, you wouldn't have this battle in your brain, and you wouldn't even be posting this question. You know you need to take care of your health. It's not worth risking the crash and burn for months on end. Plus, you might be cast for an even more fabulous role in the fall. You could do one role in the summer and one in the fall. Life is just weird sometimes.

    A few questions: does your director know you have CFS? Or any illness? Does your director need to know precisely WHAT medical condition you have? Of course I could be wrong, but I would really tend to doubt it.

    I have the feeling that it's possible that he/she will be more responsive than you think (gosh, at least I hope so). I would keep it simple and to the point and just say that you have a medical condition and that by doing one play you know you will be able to give the best performance possible. I really don't think you need to label your health condition and furthermore, it's not anyone's business. I know it stinks to have to do that, and it's never truly "simple". I wouldn't want to do it either. I think it's the best compromise though. You get to be in one play at least---pursue your passion---and not wonder if you'll be crashing the minute the curtain falls.

    This is your passion!! Make the one play you're in the best ever! When you get too sick to do this in 40 years, another idea is to teach acting to others.

    I hope you can get a little sleep--your mind will be clearer when your brain stops spinning (been there done that!). Sending some prayers your way and hope it all works out. Keep us posted. Happy Birthday & break a leg!!

    All the best,

  5. Callum

    Callum New Member

    Happy belated to you! Thank you so much for the time, effort and thought of your reply.

    My parents taught me I was lazy when I was young - the only impact they have now are the echoes of voices from years past.

    The producer (one of the directors) already knows I have CFS. Two years ago, I had to drop out of one of the two shows I was in because they were so physically demanding (both were "Farce of the slamming door", which is all about running from one place to another and saying your lines as fast and funny as you can. One play was doable with pain, two would have put me in the hospital. That's why I feel that I need to drop out now if I'm going to, before I know if I need to for sure, because I don't want to put them in the same position twice.

  6. Callum

    Callum New Member

    Well, I called the producer, explained the situation, and he readily agreed to allow me to sit on a stool (Thank you to the brilliant Carla who suggested that!!!!!)instead of stand until we start running the show! AND, he will speak to the other director, but doesn't see why that character can't sit at his desk a good portion of the time. AND, they will look at the rehearsal schedule, and make sure that they are doing everything they can not to stretch me too thin.

    This man is one of the most brilliant I have ever worked with; I don't know what I've done to make him respect me (I mean, he has cast me every year I've put my hat in the ring for NINE YEARS!), but I am truly blessed.

    And blessed to have found this board.

    This doesn't mean it will be easy - there will be days, I'm sure, where I'll be dragging and cranky and hurtin' - but now it seems DOABLE!

    Thanks again Anne Theresa, Prickles, Erika and Carla!

    [This Message was Edited on 03/07/2007]
  7. NyroFan

    NyroFan New Member


    Sometimes I will really push if it is something I must do, but for the most part have given up on many of those things.
    Whatever works best for the pain is what I do.


  8. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member


    How awesome to hear you worked it out! It sounds like your director is not only brilliant but kind-hearted too. What are the names of the plays--is there a website we can check ya out line? I'm sure you will get stellar reviews. My very best wishes for a happy/healthy summer! Keep us posted!

    Warmly, Erika

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