Q: What are Invisible Cosmic Zebras?
A. Invisible Cosmic Zebras are those invisible "friends" in your life (chronic pain, an invisible illness, syndrome, disease or injury) that you have come to acknowledge and accept as lifelong companions.
Invisible Cosmic Zebras are unique and different from each other and nobody knows exactly what they look like because they are invisible.
Invisible Cosmic Zebras frequently hang out with cosmic creatures (like the ones in the book) who can assist in "taming the zebra" (managing an illness).
These cosmic creatures also help to bring hope, levity and love to those dealing with invisible (and sometimes lifelong and incurable) medical conditions.
Do you have to take care of an Invisible Cosmic Zebra, too?
Q: So, you've just been diagnosed with an invisible illness—now what?
A: No matter which invisible illness you've been diagnosed with, everyone asks the same thing after leaving the doctor's office—Now what? Usually, there's a lot of time and effort put into climbing the mountain of getting a diagnosis, but once at the top, when your doctor finally tells you, "You have (insert invisible illness)—Good luck!" you suddenly feel all alone at the edge of a cliff. You're sent home with this "invisible thing" you now have to take care of every single day (possibly for the rest of your life) and you wonder, "How do you take care of it? What do you feed it? Can it travel? How do I explain it to my friends? Will they believe me?" The new invisible world that is now your "new normal" seems so huge and scary and completely overwhelming, that you wished there was some kind of guide to give you an idea on how to live your life with this "invisible thing" hanging around all the time. Now, there is! The Invisible Cosmic Zebra workbooks will help you navigate through all of the non-medical aspects of the "after diagnosis" stage with grace and ease. Each workbook can be 100% personalized to your own experience so it acts like your own personal assistant, guiding you through the invisible maze of your new life every step of the way.
The Invisible Cosmic Zebra Collection looks at invisible illness from a new perspective but there's nothing medical about these books. For example, the Celiac disease book is not about Celiac disease. The PTSD book is not about PTSD, etc. All of the books are about YOU and YOUR EXPERIENCE living with and managing your own unique invisible illness. Although each one of our medical journeys will be completely different from each other, the common, universal theme that pops up after diagnosis is that we'll all have to figure out how to live again. It takes a lot of adjustment to figure this out, in ways that you might not think of originally when you're diagnosed. The lovable and comforting workbooks will inspire you to imagine your illness as Invisible Cosmic Zebra that you now have to take care of, become friends with, travel with, fall asleep with, live your life to the fullest with and laugh with. They will help you navigate the invisible world of invisible illness so you can begin to live again, in a new way, with all your newly found courage and hope.
Q: I have more than one invisible illness, which workbook should I get?
A: Many people, like me, have more than one invisible illness. I've found that trying to manage all of them at the same time can be very overwhelming and confusing. Is my fibro making me feel exhausted? Or did I accidentally eat gluten? Or is it from my concussion? If I don't know the cause of why I'm feeling a certain way, I can't find a solution, so my mind just goes around and around. But one solution I've found that really works for me, is to clearly separate out all of my invisible illnesses from each other— not only in my mind but also more importantly on paper. You can use the Invisible Cosmic Zebra Collection of workbooks to help you with this. Each workbook has the same interior, but you can modify each one differently by putting all of your illness-specific research, thoughts, ideas and care-taking solutions into each one. This way, when something happens, you can easily reference your workbooks to reread your own solutions and help yourself. In my experience, once you separate them out, you'll find your illnesses take on their own "identities" so you'll begin to see how they act differently. This will help you understand which symptoms go with which illnesses and help you to feel less overwhelmed when symptoms pop up. Also, it's amazing to see on paper all that's happening inside your body and mind despite the fact that nobody can see it!
Q: What age group are these books for?
A: The workbooks are for teens through young adults and parents/ caregivers of tweens ages 6-12. However, the person who encouraged me to publish these books is a 76 year old woman with a slew of invisible illnesses. "Truth be told, we all have Invisible Cosmic Zebras to take care of!" And she's right. Upon first look, the books may seem like they're for a younger group, but the concept of the collection is that people with chronic, invisible illnesses are all taking care of something. Think of every lovable thing you've ever had to take care of—It probably wasn't the same age as you are, right? These workbooks will inspire you to give love and attention to your invisible illnesses in a similar fashion (by imagining your invisible illness as an Invisible Cosmic Zebra that you have to take care of). No matter what your age, your inner child will love these books. I myself use the concepts in them every day.
Q: Do Invisible Cosmic Zebras look like real zebras?
A: Not usually!
Invisible Cosmic Zebras are INVISIBLE so nobody really knows what they look like. The art project is a way for you to dream up and imagine what your Invisible Cosmic Zebra might look like. Some people might imagine that their Invisible Cosmic Zebra looks like a real zebra, but most will imagine that it looks more like a cosmic creature. No two Invisible Cosmic Zebras will look the same.
Invisible Cosmic Zebras are COSMIC because they usually feel "alien" to those who have to take care of them. For example, when you're diagnosed with an invisible illness it doesn't feel like "you." It feels like it's from another world because it doesn't live by the same set of rules you're used to living by. And others might not have any idea what you're talking about when you try to explain it to them.
And Invisible Cosmic Zebras are ZEBRAS to represent their big (invisible) size and the fact that they take up a huge amount of (mental) space in our lives.
An Invisible Cosmic Zebra is a fun and loving metaphor for an invisible illness that you have to take care of every day, possibly for the rest of your life.