Who Dis?

6. Myriam Raymond - "I Just Want Pizza"

February 14, 2020 Liz Komos, Myriam Raymond
Who Dis?
6. Myriam Raymond - "I Just Want Pizza"
Show Notes Transcript

This week, we welcome Myriam Raymond to the show. Myriam is a musical comedian and improviser who currently lives in Chicago but originally hails from Cyprus. She lives with chronic migraines and has been diagnosed with Lupus. We discuss how to being a performer while dealing with chronic pain, especially when that pain is largely invisible to the outside world. Myriam also talks about her new film, Otherwise a Woman, which was inspired by her real-life workplace sexual harassment and assault..

You can follow Myriam on Instagram at @MyriamRaymond

For more information on the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago, you can find them on the web at https://www.sralab.org/

Who Dis? is hosted by Liz Komos and produced by Jack Mathews. You can find more information on the Who Dis? Podcast or the Who Dis? Live Show at www.whodisshow.com on the web, on Instagram or Facebook at @WhoDisShow, or on Twitter at @TheWhoDisShow. If you want to talk about the show, feel free to use the hashtag #WhoDis.

This episode was recorded at the iO Theatre. The iO Theatre is home to Chicago’s best improv comedy with shows 7 nights a week. They offer classes in improv, writing, and more! Visit ioimprov.com for a full schedule.

LINK TO EPISODE TRANSCRIPT


Liz:

Welcome to the Who Dis? Show podcast. I'm Liz Komos. This show features conversations with performers from the mental health, chronic illness and disability communities. We're digging into who they are and how their health intersects with their art. Today's guest on the podcast is Myriam Raymond. Myriam is a musical comedian and improviser in Chicago, Illinois, but she grew up on an Island in the Mediterranean, which is very cool. Welcome Myriam. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for having me. Which Island was it? I.

Myriam:

Um, t's Cyprus . It's just North of Egypt and West of Syria,

:

That's awesome. Cool! On the Who DIs? Podcast we're going to talk today about health and art and the intersection of those two things. But before we do that, if you can let us know a little bit about how you identify with the health community, be it a chronic illness and mental health condition, her disability.

Myriam:

Um , I have chronic illnesses too. They're fine. Um, and mental health issues. I mean, but don't we all.

Liz:

This is a safe space. This is a safe space, but only talk about what you're comfortable sharing.

Myriam:

No, actually I don't mind talking about this because , um , I'm what people call a spoonie. So I feel, yeah, a lot of pain but nobody sees it. Um , and I think the more we talk about it, the more it will become something that people, you know, understand. Um, I've had chronic migraines for about 20 years. Uh, one of 'em gave me a small brain aneurysm, had it for about three months, but then I recently, couple of years ago got diagnosed with lupus. Um, but actually that was a blessing in disguise because ...well, not a blessing in disguise. I guess the word is , um, it was a... it was a bittersweet moment. So I was actually happy to put a name to what I was feeling and knowing that I wasn't going crazy. Um, and then usually hand in hand with , uh , chronic pain comes a lot of depression and anxiety 'cause your body is fighting so much to suppress the pain that it doesn't have the strength to support your brain.

Liz:

I get that. I was talking , uh, in another episode about the Shirley Ryan Abiity Labs Pain Management program. And one of the very first things they do with you is talk about the Pain Brain, and we talk about yeah, the interrelationship between pain and how we perceive it and then the anxiety and depression and fatigue and how it sort of loops and how one affects the other and it becomes difficult to separate them out and understand.

Myriam:

Yeah. And the weird thing too, is on a good pain date . So I either have one or the other running constantly. Um, and it's to be expected that the pain will never be eliminated. It's just going to be a undergoing thing. I'm going to have really bad pain days and then decent pain days. Um, but every once in a while , every, maybe like four to six weeks, I get a zero pain day. But that's when my anxiety starts going crazy because my body doesn't know what to do. It's like used to working overtime and then I'll have like no pain, but my brain will start being like, Hey, you should be doing something. It should be doing something. Why aren't you freaking out? Oh , you know what ? I'm a freak out for you.

Liz:

Yeah. Oh, how unfortunate is that though? It's like that's the one day that you get, that's your off day, you know, to get out there and attacks a world so to speak.

Myriam:

Well I'm working on it. Um , so you know, kind of now that I know that that happens and that's the coordination, it's identifying the source of my anxiety is huge. So it helps me kind of take a step back, breathe a little, be like, Hey, you're only freaking out cause you're actually having a good day.

Liz:

So how do you identify as an artist? I know when I saw you, you did musical comedy.

Myriam:

So I do in the comedic world, it's musical comedy and improv that I love doing. I've dabbled in, stand up . Um , it's not for me.

Liz:

Why not?

Myriam:

Well, I just, I think it's, it's two- fold. Personally, I was a server at one point and I'd always kind of infused jokes into my spiel and by the fourth table I'm like, Oh my God, if I have to say this joke. So there's that. But also part of it is , um, the lupus and the migraines. You really have to hustle to be a standup comic. Um, I have some really great friends. I actually hosted and produced a variety comedy show for two years. Um, and my, one of my best friends, she's a great comic. Um, she would go to two open mics a night several times a week, and a lot of them start at nine or 10 or midnight, and I just, I'm in bed by nine 30 or 10. My body's just drained or hurting or, you know, so I mean, maybe one day I'll do stand up from a chair, but yeah . or something.

Liz:

Or a stool. There's always a stool, right, for them to put their water bottle on, or their drink .

Myriam:

Exactly, like i'll take a nap before it's my time to go on stage, but for now it's just on the back burner. It's nothing. And then I act, I do film and television and, cool. Yeah, I just finished producing a film that I wrote that I acted in and we're gonna start submitting it to the festival circuit.

Liz:

That's really exciting. Can you tell us anything about it or is it...?

Myriam:

No, absolutely. Um , the reason I wanted to make it is because I want people to start talking about this topic. Um, I was corporate for about 11 years and my last corporate job, my boss sexually harassed and assaulted me on a daily basis. Um, and I quit as soon as my green card clawback was cleared. So for those who don't know what that is, it's when you do work with a company to help get your green card, they pay for all of that. But if you leave before a certain amount of time, you have to pay them back the money they spent on it. So as soon as I'd secured, I left my brain suppressed the trauma a decent amount. And then with things like the election and the Me Too Movement, they all started coming up and that's what we call PTSD. So I , uh, took all this evidence I had and I reported him to HR and they escalated it to national HR and I had maybe six, two hour interviews and they finally come back and tell me that my story was not corroborated because , um, they only interview people, still work with a company. And that was two of the eight people who were my witnesses and one of them flat out told me she wasn't going to say anything to risk her career. So I made a film about what it's like to be the victim of a sexual harassment and sexual assault and what it's like to be trapped in the body and how much it affects you in some of the smallest things that you would expect. Um, and also the perception of people. I heard a lot of , um, you know, you're just asking for it. You wear makeup to work or he doesn't do that to me. Why would he do it to you? Or , um, well, at least you get all the good clients, so just deal with it , you know, things like that. Yeah.

Liz:

Thank you so much for making that. I'm a very , uh, it doesn't, I will say it doesn't often happen on this podcast that I get thrown off a little bit, but the, when all of the Me Too stuff came out, I remembered an assault from childhood and I felt it in my body first before I remembered it and I couldn't remember why I was having such a visceral physical response and I was watching someone speak to an assault they had as a child and I was like, Oh my gosh, there it is. And I always remember growing up thinking something happened but not quite knowing what it was. And it does, it lives in your body and it affects everything. And then it inter , you know, it's responsible for how you interact with the world when you are experiencing something and the world around you tells you, no , you didn't experience that or no , it's just deal with it or just get over it or feeling like you are beholden to this person, this employer so that you can be here and live here. But to do that you must sacrifice being assaulted or harassed all the time. My heart goes out to you. That's a really, that's a really difficult thing to experience daily basis.

Myriam:

Thank you. Yeah . And I'm hoping that this film will, you know, for the doubters or the naysayers and I always think, you know, they're not bad people. I think it's kind of like if you are walking down the street and you got mugged, the first thing they ask is what time was it? Or what street were you walking down? Cause they want to try and convince themselves that it wouldn't happen to them if they did something different. So I think that's where a lot of it came from was like well it's because you know you wear dresses and you're not wearing like a pant suit or something like that. So there , I don't think it's inherently that they're , that they're evil people. I think they're just trying to come up with excuses for why it won't happen to them.

Liz:

I agree with that . That don't want, they don't want to empathize. They didn't want to put themselves in that situation. People don't want to think about that happening. I think that also happens with the health community and people want to hear about your illness because they want to be like, Oh, that won't happen to me. That's not going to be my reality.

Myriam:

Oh , if you just do yoga or if you just cut this food out or no, just because you're doing yoga and you're cutting this food out or whatnot and you're fine. It doesn't mean that the fact that I'm not doing those cause my [inaudible] .

Liz:

Exactly, exactly. It's not all or nothing kind of clear cut that way. Yeah. Well I can't wait. I want to see it.

Myriam:

Yeah. i'd be more than happy to send you a link.

Liz:

I think that's really cool. My next question is about how, and I think that you very bravely are incorporating your life, but how do you use your health in your art? Do you talk about it? Does it influence it? How do you choose to incorporate what you've experienced into the stuff that you're creating?

Myriam:

That's a, that's a great question. Um, there's several reasons. I think almost all comedians have had some kind of trauma or you know, something they've had to deal with. Because at least the reason I like making people laugh is cause I don't want them to feel like I do, you know what, what happened? I find comedy. Um ,

Liz:

Well explain that. They don't want you to feel like you do. How so?

Myriam:

I, you know, it's , I am, you know, for, I have , I've gone through years of depression, have gone through years of pain. So I feel like if the people that I love and that I'm around and everything don't have to suffer through that, then at least I'm fine taking, you know, the bullet for the team. I don't even know if that makes sense. But I always want to make people laugh now. Always want to make people happy because that's, in my opinion, the best way to be, who doesn't like laughing, who l"aughs and goes, "God damn it, why did I...," Unless it's something inappropriate. You know what I mean? Yeah. Just something like that. But no one ever has like a great laughing session and they're like, Oh , you know what? We wasted our time, you know. It is nature's endorphin. Um, so I, I've always had this, I used to, I'm that person who, if you're feeling bad about something, I will make you laugh before telling you, maybe it's not the right way to do it before trying to like, you know, help you figure things out or whatever. I just want to make you laugh first. Um, so there's, there's that aspect of it, but , um, the other part is I have felt so alone through somethings so unbelievably lonely. No one, I mean, especially for the first 15 years of having a migraine , um, the , the medications didn't exist. I've been on the medication for one year and it's the first ever medication made for migraines and it came out in 2018. Like that's just mind blowing, no pun intended. Um , but you know, I, I think I just, I felt so alone in certain situations and stuff that I'm a big proponent of - If we talk about it, somebody else is going to pipe up and be like, Hey, me too. Um , this, you know, I too have chronic pain and you know, I'm here for you. You're not alone. So why not, you know, talk about it in a, in an art form instead of just preaching to people, make people want to watch things or wanting to hear things or see things. Um, so in a lot of my songs , um, for instance, I talk about things that I miss out on. So one of the things I've cut out from my diet is gluten and dairy. And it's helped a lot with my , um , joint pain. But pizza is my favorite food.

Liz:

I know, I love pizza so much and I love your pizza song.

Myriam:

So like , I wrote a love song for pizza or, you know, just things like that. It might, it's, it's probably too specific for people who, let's say their favorite food is burgers or pasta or whatever it is, but, you know, it's the thought that's there and then, you know, she's so in love with this thing and she can't have it and it's Pizza, Um , and then yeah, like with the film there is, it's a , um, what's the word I'm looking for? It's like a spectrum of, you know, what , how I want to deliver things to people. The film is not a happy film. You feel really dirty after the film. And I want people to feel dirty after it so that they , um, try to do something about it after. So it sits and resonates with them. But with some other topics that are a little more , um, just personal and not universal. Like, Hey, I can't eat this stuff. Then I kind of like put a fun twist on it, you know, just more like it's a light kind of thing.

Liz:

Well I think that sounds cool. It sounds like you are multifaceted in terms of the messaging that you're trying to get across. What you, what you are trying to do, how much fun you're having. I love you talking about wanting to make people laugh and , and bring them joy so they don't have to feel what you're feeling. But I also think that making people laugh gives us endorphins. I think it makes us feel good and I think, at least for me, it alleviates some of my own depression or anxiety. Just being out there and making people laugh feels good.

Myriam:

There is nothing like being on stage or , and especially like that second you can get off stage. It's just the best feeling in the world.

Liz:

I have chronically low cortisol, because I've been in pain and had so much trauma, both like physical and emotional and whatnot . So my cortisol system has been affected and when I perform you get that adrenaline kick and I was like, I think I like performing because I feel like a normal human. Like, is this how normal people feel? This is how good they feel, all time? They're not exhausted and just zombied through their day?

Myriam:

Well we were just talking about coffee and stuff and how I can have all the coffee in the world and nothing's gonna wake me up. But if I have a late performance, I'm not sleeping for four or five hours after that, I'm just up.

:

I am the same way. Two, three in the morning, I'm still awake. I've had to structure my life now that everything I do is between like 11:00 AM and 2:00 am. Yeah . I've had to shift to kind of like a shift schedule in order to accommodate because I can't get up and work an 8:00 AM job and do all of this. Naps. Like naps really are key.

Liz:

So you say you're a musical comedian. What's your experience with music in the past of vocal training? Have you ever been in a band? Are you, were you in chorus practice as a kid?

Myriam:

Um, I started playing the piano and I was four , um , and they played it till I was about 18. Um, I was actually really proficient and that's one of the things that , um, I get sad about , uh , once my joints started deteriorating and the pain and everything. Um, it's, I have a piano at home now, which is great. Um , but every time I try to go back and play, I'm nowhere near as good as I used to be. Um, and so I get frustrated and then I just put it up . I don't put it away, but you know, I just walk away from the piano and I don't come back to it for another six months. But in the past, yes, I grew up , um , playing piano. I was in the church choir. I sang at midnight mass every year. I did have some vocal training, have done years and years of music theory. I've just always grown up with music in my family. Um, and I've always, always written parodies about stuff like Weird Al is one of my heroes

Liz:

I loved Weird Al.

:

And I think like with the whole Weird Al thing and me having a terrible memory and not remembering actual lyrics to songs, I k ind o f just fell into like the parody writing in general. I used to write my own, u h, music too. But u m, now that it's a little harder for me to play instruments, that's why I'm doing parodies. But surely at some point I'll find someone who wants to work with me and record the music a nd m y, y eah, that's why parodies it is right now.

Liz:

I think those are so fun. I was just telling someone a story the other day, but when I first started doing this, I've only been doing comedy for about four years and I was with someone who wanted to do some writing together and she was so good at writing parodies and I could not wrap my brain around how to put new words into a song that I knew, you know, how to overlap with something new. It was like my brain couldn't figure it out and now all I can do is make up new lyrics for songs. Like I don't know what it was, if it was practicing it or just really thinking about it. But yeah. Now every time I hear a song I'm like, Oh, you know what would be funny if you did this with this song? And it's annoying. Like I annoy myself because that's going on now in my brain all day.

Myriam:

Yeah. Write it down, or voice memo or something.

Liz:

I have one. You said choir in church and I have one for um , you know that song on Eagle's Wings?

Myriam:

I don't know cause my church sang in Arabic. (hahah)

Liz:

It's a , it's an American song called on E agle's wings and it's like, a nd T will raise you up on Eagle's wings and I made a parody about Trump and it's, and he will take all of your rights away. And it's about like Trump and women and what he would love to do if he were given the same kind of power that God would be given to like take somebody into. Yeah.

Myriam:

And of course America had an Eagle wing church song .

Liz:

Right? I know...

Myriam:

I am like trying to think of what animal we'd ride away on in my country.

Liz:

Oh yeah, what do you think it would be?

Myriam:

Oh probably the Phoenix's wings or something cause we're Phoenician, I don't know...

Liz:

What brought you to the United States from Cyprus?

Myriam:

Um, so all right , so my parents are Lebanese. They uh, left Lebanon , um, during the war, not because of the war job opportunity in Cyprus. Um, but the reason I preface it with that is if, you know, anyone who has Arab parents, they all want their kids to be engineers, doctors or lawyers . I mean it's so typical . Um , I wanted to be an actuary. Don't ask me why. I guess I've had something crazy from young age. Um, I was pretty young. I graduated high school at 16. Um, and my options were either go to school, Beirut, stay in Cyprus, go somewhere in England or come to the U S and , um, I , you know, just, I, my parents didn't want me to sacrifice my education for the sake of staying close to them. They believe a lot in education. I'm really lucky to have 'em . Um, and so I decided on the U S I researched the schools that were the best in actuarial science and I went to Champaign. So I came here, you know, I just turned 17 maybe a few weeks before. Um, and that's what I did. I got a job in Chicago as a consulting actuary. I worked at one job for six years, another job for five years. And that's when I was burnt out, mean working 60 to 90 hours a week. That's, you know , that's a lot. So I, you know , took a year off, tried to, I help my brother with his business, but I also took some time to do my own things like finally get hobbies. Always been, I'd always been curious about improv and so I did actually I got certified in carpentry. It took a year. Yeah, I took a year of carpentry , um, got my certification focused on furniture making and I did improv and that's kinda what led me to here.

Liz:

That's really awesome. Cool. Well I think it's cool that you, that you do music. It's something that I in adult life have tried to get into. I am trying to learn how to play the banjo, but I too have kind of different , I don't want to say weird, but my joints are a little different and I have a hard time holding things , holding things and the way that my bones work, it's just, there's not a lot of flexibility in my joints and like, so I'm doing these hand exercises all the time. I don't know why I'm doing like, I'm not going to be a famous banjo player, but I think I want to play enough that I could put it in a show or something to showcase, Hey, I have this other skill you might not expect.

Myriam:

That's awesome. Keep it up, I mean, you know, I've , uh, every once in a while I bust out my ukulele, but then like, you know, same thing.

Liz:

Do you, are there any other things that you feel like you've had to change? Post diagnosis? Obviously you've had migraines for a really long time.

Speaker 2:

There is , yeah. There's a lot that's changed. Um, my social life's taken a big hit because , um, it's okay to find somewhere that doesn't serve gluten and it's okay to find somewhere that doesn't have dairy, but it's really tough to find dairy free, gluten free food. So whenever I got a salad and fries, which isn't bad, that in and of itself is like great, but um, yeah, socially, you know, especially like dating and things like that. Um, which is fine. Again, like I see it as you eat out like the useless ones.

Liz:

Yeah, the people that aren't willing to put in any effort.

Myriam:

The other thing, this one's big for me might not be for other people, but I grew up in the middle of summer on an Island where it was like 130 degrees. I love the sun and the sun is awful for lupus. Absolutely awful. Yeah. Um , and I mean, I've always worn sunscreen, but you need long sleeve clothes , UV protective clothing without hat , um, which isn't conducive to any warm weather. Um, and I didn't believe it at first, but the first time I was in the sun, I had all my sunscreen on big hate but I had toadress on , um, my heart rate increased. Um, my, my wrists swelled up, my feet swelled up. I suddenly, like I became a limp noodle. Like I could not, my joints were not functioning. Yeah . So it's a real thing. So the staying away from the sun is a really tough one. Um, and then just sleep like I used to in my previous career, I work 90 hour weeks. I had exams to take. Uh, they were every six months, but you'd start studying for them about three months out and you'd have to put in about 400 hours of studying. So I'd go to bed at about three or 4:00 AM and get up at seven and that was fine. I, you know, never like, I mean I was tired but nothing crazy. But now I'm, you know, in bed 10 wake up at like eight and I'm still tired. So it's things like that. Yeah, that have changed.

Liz:

What do you do now for work?

Myriam:

Now I'm a realtor so you can kind of set your own schedule. I used to be somewhere where you had to be in the office nine through six and my days were Tuesday through Saturday. And um, but now , um , I have a great boss. Like he doesn't care if I'm in the office or not, as long as I'm, you know, generating work. Sure . Going to my appointments and stuff so that honestly, it was a blessing and it's cool. I love looking in strangers homes.

Liz:

I really do too. Honestly, that's a, that's a career I've always thought about having at some point because I love houses. I love imagining people seeing people and then imagining them in a space and be like, Oh my gosh, you and this fireplace you belong together.

Myriam:

If you ever want to let me know. Yeah, I'll hook you up with people. Also, if you ever want to pretend we're super wealthy and go look at the right homes..

Liz:

Oh yes, I'm .. I'm so in.

Myriam:

Okay, please let me know cause I'm dying to be like, Oh, this is my client from the Philippines, you know, just kinda like a random far away, right ? Yeah. She doesn't look like she's from there, but trust me she is, she needs a third home.

Liz:

I have a second home in Colorado.

Myriam:

Oh my gosh, you do? I was just in Colorado like last week .

Liz:

Yeah. That's where I started comedy and I spent about 10 or so years there before I move back here.

Myriam:

That's amazing. Yeah, that'd be so fun. Yeah, we'll do that. We'll put on some like frocks

Liz:

I love it. I'll go to rent the runway or something and rent an outfit.

Myriam:

Yeah we'll show up in like gown. Do you know this is an open house? Yes. But this is how we roll.

Liz:

Well they do, they have other stuff now too. They have clothes as well. Sidebar, tangent. Um , don't cut this out Jack. Okay... Are there any moments that stand out to you in your artistic career as feeling as though you unlocked a barrier or unlocked a new level? I think of it as like a video game for me, it was the first time I did a storytelling event recently or the first show that I produced here in Chicago. What are the standout moments for you and how long you've been doing musical comedy and improv?

Myriam:

Um , the, I think, and it's, this is great because it all comes from other people, which I think is awesome. Um, I first started A through E , uh , at Second City, and my group was just like, we 're still friends. I mean, it's been four or five years I think . Um, and our teacher, it was the second level. She did this exercise with us that I'll never forget , um, for as many people as there were in the class. She gave us that many cue cards minus one, and we had to write something positive that we thought about each person's performance , um, or about themselves. And then at the end she, you know, gave everyone their cards and I still have those cards. And I was always , um, I was so shy. I've always been like, you know, I've, you know, it's the anxiety stuff. I've always been really shy about performing, even though I did it my whole life. It was more because I loved music, but not cause I like performing. So when I read all those comments, they were things I had no idea about myself as a performer. Um, and it kinda gave me the courage to keep doing things like that. And then eventually I developed into acting and so on and so forth. Um, this second one I can think of was, it was level D or E I believe. And that's when they incorporated. Um, we had to do a musical improv bit in our show. Um , and everyone came up to me later and they were like, your voice is so sweet. That's, you know, you're such a great singer and they might be placating me and I might be awful. But just to hear that when my whole life I was told, you know, you have no chance of singing, don't even bother with it, et cetera, et cetera. I was like, okay, yeah, I might not be the, you know, Adele or Mariah Carey. I don't , I'm dating myself, but, but I'm, you know, I'm decent enough to not make people's ears bleed. So that one, definitely, that's what got me started, you know, like starting to think about getting into musical improv and doing that. And you know, a year later I signed up for the conservatory - music conservatory and never looked back, you know? So that was another level achieved.

Liz:

I think it's awesome. I think my experience, and I don't want to speak for you, where I've having all these things, these medical conditions and going to doctors or going to family or friends even and saying, Hey, I have this and this. It sort of creates an internalized, almost pathological inability to believe myself. You know, there's a, I wrote this whole document and posted it on my blog about like distrust and how much I distrust my own feelings and thoughts and that it's a constant progress, a work in progress for me to believe that I'm talented and , and to feel those things and integrate them. And I think that it's easy to transfer that to other things to sing, but be like, I'm not a good enough singer. You know, if you just sort of have this inherent distrust that surrounds you, how do you trust yourself as a performer? You know that you're a good enough for talented enough. You deserve it. You've earned it , you're working for it.

Myriam:

One thing that helped me too , and this is so bad, you guys are stuck with me on stage . I literally can make the most annoying sound for my solid five minutes and you guys can't do anything. So that's another thing that helped me. I was like, wow , they could walk out, but the stage mine right now, so I am going to do what I can.

Liz:

Do you find that musical comedy shuts off the anxiety part of your brain? I know when I do it, if I'm performing musically, there's, I'm moving my body, I'm singing, I'm improvising, I'm talking, I'm doing all these different things at once. I can't be anxious. There's no room for anxiety.

Myriam:

Honestly, I've never had, when it came to like improv and stuff like that at my, that kind of anxiety left. I still get anxious when I sing. Just myself . My songs, like if you shake my hand after a show, it's going to be sweaty and shaky, but so you're absolutely right because with musical improv your brain doesn't have time to be anxious, at least mine because I'm like, all right, how are we going to land this rhyme while keeping up cadence while keeping up the beat and everything? That's all you're thinking about the, I can't even do the handshaking and the dancing and stuff because you don't want to see me dancing .

Liz:

I'll do it. But it always is just like very creepy.

Myriam:

Yeah, I don't know if it's like a joint thing, but like I just don't move fluidy either.

Liz:

Yeah, for me it's just like a lot of like knees and hips and knees and hips and weird facial expresions.

Myriam:

Flailing arms for me. Then you see these people like glide across the stage and just like... One of my friends, she, she does body rolls and then she says, I do body jerks.

Liz:

I was laughing so hard with someone the other day, I have my lower spine fused and so I can't twerk . Like I can't physically do it, and we were trying, we were trying so hard and she's like, okay, you have to do it like this. And I was like, it's solid. Like it's solid from tailbone to __ I can't do it...

Myriam:

If it makes you feel any better not fused-spine, still can't twerk.

Liz:

It was just one of those things. I was like my hips, I don't know, they just don't move that way.

Myriam:

I was not blessed with that actually. Mom took me into a jazz class when I was a little kid. Um, because you know, she could tell like I love performing everything and the teacher handed me back after class and goes, don't bring her.

Speaker 1:

Noooo!

Myriam:

It's okay, you can laugh. He's trying not to laugh... (To Jack our Producer),

Liz:

You can laugh. But we normally keep a laugh track for Jack. I think we're at two , but I didn't announce it early enough in the podcast.

Myriam:

But yeah, like even now as an adult, like my workout regimen and stuff is all things I don't need to follow someone else to do. I've tried the classes, they go left, I go down. Yeah . I don't know .

Liz:

Oh, I have had so many moments on stage where I'm trying to do something with my body and clearly I can and I'm just like, this is funny. Like this is just funny. Like the audience knows I'm trying and I'm just not capable.

Myriam:

A Half-assed performance is worse.

Liz:

Like I , well , and I think there's, I don't know for, I dunno about you if you have moments like this to you. I use a crutch and people see me walk on and they're like, okay, that lady has something going on with her. I don't know what it is. And then when they see me rolling around the stage, but they don't see any of the other abled people rolling around on the stage. I think that there's a, I don't know, I don't know if they disbelieve me or if they're impressed. Like, "OH! That lady's working really hard!"

:

I think the disbelief is one of the things I've struggled with the most in my life. Um, yeah, you don't look hurt. You don't look sick. You don't look like, you know, this and that. And um , especially with the migraines, because I would have so many friends be like, you know, I'm calling off sick tomorrow. I'm just going to tell him I have a migraine because that way I don't have to look like I'm sick. And I'm like, this is a real thing. I vomit so hard sometimes.

Liz:

I have them. I've had them since I was five or so. Vomiting is my symptom.

Myriam:

Mine's changed over time. So it would be , um, blindness in my left eye with like a pounding pain. And then eventually that changed too . There's still the headache, there's still the blindness. But now I throw up and then my body feels like it's on fire, so I don't know how to explain it. Like maybe like a million little paper cuts with like lemon juice on 'em or something like that. But um, and I get angry, Oh, you don't want to be around me when you're so cranky. But yeah, it's the disbelief thing, you know? And sometimes they pop out of nowhere. Flare ups, I can count with my lupus, I can feel coming on like it'll start with a fever and then you know, I'll be dropping things and so on. But the worst is when you have to cancel plans and they're like, just say you don't want to go out. I'm like, no I can, I can kind of really do...

Liz:

Like, I do want to go out. Like you could come over here the , I do that a lot. I just have now started to invite people into my space and say, I have a migraine. I can't meet you at this restaurant. I can't. I actually have what's now called paroxysmal hemicrania, which is a headache disorder. I also get migraines in addition to these. Sometimes they clap in at the same time and it's like I'm dying. That's what it feels like. Like I'm, I'm gonna, I'm about to just die. Yeah . Um , but I've had, I've just said like, I can't do this, but I can do X and we can order food and I will lay on the couch and I will be in my pajamas, but we'll still be spending time together if that doesn't work for you. I understand. I'm trying to know because I , I don't want to miss out socially anymore, so that's a way that I can still try to reach out to my community and not totally cut myself.

Myriam:

I need to , you know, for me with the migraines, it's done, done. Um , the lupus, it's, it's like having a really bad flu, so at least I can be around people and that's a great idea. Maybe I should do that. Um , the migraines, if somebody was at home, I'd just like throw objects at them.

Liz:

I think it's like the stage of migraine has to be, I have to be through the first six hours of , you know what I mean ? What advice do you have for an emerging artist, someone else that's also interested in musical comedy but is dealing with chronic migraines or lupus or chronic pain , um , or even anxiety and depression.

Myriam:

I think the most important thing is if , if it's something you really want to do, find your people and sign up, do it together. Um, I think having people that understand is the most important thing. You have to go through quite a bit of iterations of classes and stuff to find , um, who works well with you and who will understand and everything. And it's okay . I've dropped out of classes, I stopped doing. I think I was doing one the courses here and I just couldn't, my body can handle it. Only do what you can. I know, I know money's hard to come by, especially for artists. Um, but your health is the most important. And if you push yourself to do something, it's kinda going to leave a bitter taste in your mouth and you're not going to want to go back to it. So listen, listen to your body. Find the right people. Um, I can't tell you how many times people didn't believe me that I wasn't feeling well and I had to go to rehearsals. And then finally the teacher saw me and I was just gray and I had a fever of 102, and she's like, go home. Like, okay, we believe you. And I was like finally, like I was about to die. Um , so you know, and, and there's going to be people who don't, for whatever reason, maybe don't want to believe you or don't want to give you, grant you that, that cushion or something, screw it. Just drop out. Do it another time. But don't, don't think that just because the first time it might not have been the right timing. Um , I don't know about other people, but my symptoms are very seasonal. For instance, the fall and the spring is really hard for me because of the changing weather. Maybe, you know, try to schedule your classes in the summer and the winter. Um , yeah. And grab a friend who's maybe curious or at least wants to support you and do it with you. That way you can encourage each other.

Liz:

I think being believed is so important and that's something that hopefully these conversations on this podcast will help open people's eyes to that there are so many different levels of illness and disability and that we should give blanket belief and trust to people when they say they're unwell or they're not feeling well. It is something I always worried about like do they believe me? And then finally it was like, I can't care anymore. I've been too sick for too long to care if people. Believe me. I hope they do. I hope they're , you know, I hope someday they'll see me on a bad day and they'll make a connection and go, Oh, that's what she's talking about. But it's something that I've definitely had to put aside and know that. I know there's people in my inner circle that believe what I have going on. But to quit looking for that out outside approval and validation.

Myriam:

Exactly. And you'll find the right people. Like, how lucky am I that I have, you know, a core group of friends who perform, who understand and a boss that understands, he's like, you're feeling sick. Go home. It's fine. Don't push yourself. I always say this like, you know, if you see if somebody trips over and they, they graze their knee and they start bleeding your heart, just like, at least me, like it starts hurting for them, you know? Um, and then I always give this example. I've gotten my, like almost my entire torso tattooed, which is the most painful part to tattoo. And I have big thigh tattoo. I was taking a nap during my...

Liz:

I fell asleep too!

Myriam:

Right? Because it's nothing compared to our pain.

:

No, it was like, I just, I was sat there for six hours and I just felt like,

Myriam:

Actually it was, it was enjoyable because it was like a distraction from the other, right ?

Liz:

Yeah. It was kind of like a...Yeah, it's a very, I don't want to call it Zen-like. (haha) I almost callled it tantric, but it's not sexual (Myriam interrupts: Euphoric, I find it euphoric). It's like, yeah, it's, for me, I was so zenned out and comfortable. I was relaxed in a way that I haven't been relaxed in a long time.

Myriam:

Absolutely, and like I think, you know, and I know tattoo artists who look at mine and go, Oh my God, I passed out when I had that done. (Liz and Myriam talk about dozing into a sweet comfortable slumber, but are talking over each other). And I think that, you know, in and of itself should be an example of, you know, it just cause you can't see it. It doesn't mean that it's not hurting.

Liz:

And also how strong people are with chronic pain, you know, to be able to experience that amount of pain and fall asleep or to, to not know what's going on. You know, we deal with a lot and I think that people think that we're weak sometimes and I think it's quite the opposite. I think where some of the stronger people that are walking this planet.

:

I always joke, I'm like: if I ever get captured by the enemy, whoever the enemy is, they can't do much to torture me. I am just going to sit there and be like, okay cool. You pulled out my nails. Now what?

Liz:

That'll be so frustrating for them.

Myriam:

For them. Right. Give us all the information, Myriam. Okay. The key to making someone laugh is...

Liz:

Just don't ever let them listen to this so that they know that you can't have gluten and dairy.

Myriam:

See, but if I'm gonna die, at least I'll die happy.

Liz:

There you go. Um , which artists , if you could take somebody out an idol , somebody who idolize a mentor or something like that, who would you take out to dinner? What would you go eat and why that specific person,

Myriam:

Oh, I hate these questions. Which artists?

Liz:

Artists or celebrity or historical figure?

Myriam:

God, I'm going to answer this so wrong, but it's okay.

Liz:

It's not, there's no wrong answer.

Speaker 2:

When I go out with Rhianna. She just seems like so much fun and she has no fucks to give. And she's just, you know, she's been through trauma herself on many different levels. Um, but she's , uh , you know, an activist and she's a feminist and I feel like she'd just be a blast, you know, if like you had probably a story to tell for the ages. Um, what will we eat? Is she paying or am I paying? I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding.

Liz:

I mean , I feel like she's probably paying.

Myriam:

I don't know. I just want to eat pizza, is that sad?

Liz:

No, my friend went to Pequads today and I'm jeal, I'm upset about it. I don't get to go.

Myriam:

That's good stuff. For me, ya know, just for me it's really interesting. A lot of people's life revolves around food. I eat to live. I don't live to eat. I'm a very, I appreciate food and flavors and all kinds of stuff, but it's not that important to me. It's more like the company. Yeah . Just not being hungry. If I'm hungry, then it's a completely diffrent subject. Did that answer your question?

Liz:

Yeah. Okay . You said pizza with Rhianna.

Myriam:

I'd see how ee how she branched from singing to acting to makeup, to clothes designing to all of that.

Liz:

Well, Thank you so much for being here today. This has been really fun. I love talking to other people who also have chronic pain or migraines like I love getting to do this podcast and learn from people who have things and experiences that I don't have and I also love getting to relate to people where it's like, yes, me too. I guess I also have that.

Myriam:

Thank you so much for having me. This has been a blast.

Liz:

I really loved having Myriam on the podcast today. She is a really fascinating and I think it's cool to have people on the podcasts that are comedians but also that are doing film and traditional acting and music, so you should definitely check her out. You can follow her on Instagram at the Myriam Raymond and then her film that she was talking about during the podcast is called "Otherwise a Woman," so follow for that. There'll be posts on Instagram as well as probably Facebook page. Check it out and we'll talk to you next time.

:

The Who Dis? Show is hosted by Liz Komos and produced by me, Jack Matthews. If you'd like to support the Who Dis? Show you can tell a friend or leave a five star rating and review on apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts when using social media feel free to use the hashtag #whodis for more information on the Who Dis? Show, including upcoming live shows, we're on Facebook. Twitter at @thewhodisshow, Instagram at @whodisshow or on the web at www.whodisshow.com.