Meet the Author – Tom Seaman

tom-seaman-headshotAbout Tom Seaman

Tom Seaman earned his Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education and Psychology in 1994. After college he pursued private business ventures in the health education field. In 2001, he returned to school to pursue a Masters Degree in Counseling, during which time he developed a painful neurological movement disorder called dystonia. After living many years with debilitating chronic pain and emotional trauma, Tom eventually learned various techniques for better managing his symptoms. In 2012, he became certified as a life/health coach and currently owns a coaching/consulting practice where he helps people work through various life challenges. In 2015, Tom authored and published his book, Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey, which has received rave reviews. It has also been recognized by the Michael J. Fox Foundation as one of their suggested resources. In his spare time, Tom writes his own blog and guest blogs, as well as articles for online publications such as The Mighty and Patient Worthy, to educate and raise awareness about dystonia and other chronic health conditions. He is also a support group leader for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, serving as co-administrator for their online dystonia support forum. To learn more about Tom and get a copy of his book, as well as links to his articles and videos, please visit www.diagnosisdystonia.com. For information about his life/health coaching services, please visit www.balanceyourlifecoaching.com. Follow him on Twitter @dystoniabook1.

How did you become an author? How I became an author is an unexpected story of many twists and turns. Unlike most people I know who say they want to write a book, it never even dawned on me until a major health issue significantly altered the course of my life. Writing became a form of personal therapy and healing, which then turned into educational and inspirational material for others.

Up until the age of 30, I was enthusiastically enjoying my life when all of a sudden I began to have health problems. A little pain and stiffness in my neck gave way to unrelenting muscle contractions and pain unlike anything I had ever experienced, and it just kept getting worse. After many blank stares at my distorted body from doctors who had no idea what was wrong, I eventually learned that I had a neurological movement disorder called dystonia. In my case it affects my neck, which is called cervical dystonia.

It began in 2001 when I returned to school to obtain my Masters Degree in Counseling after seven years in private business. Due to the severity of my growing dystonia symptoms, I was unable to complete my degree. For the most part, I was completely disabled. I also gained 150 pounds over the course of several years due to my sedentary lifestyle from severe chronic pain. Needless to say, dystonia turned my world upside down, altering the course of my life in ways I never imagined possible.

After numerous unsuccessful treatments and years of physical and mental suffering, I took the bull by the horns and dedicated myself to learning and applying a variety of symptom management techniques that greatly improved my quality of life. In addition to better managing my dystonia symptoms, I lost the 150 pounds I gained. Life as an obese person after previously being a fit, competitive athlete is a book of its own yet to be written.

In 2012 I became certified as a life/health coach, but I was struggling to get my business going. I was still trying to find my bearings from the way dystonia so dramatically altered my life. I felt lost and was starting to wonder about the meaning and purpose of my life. I needed something to get me out of the fog. As crazy as it sounds, one day something inside me said, “write.” The voice was loud and clear. It was almost like a command. I immediately put pen to paper.

As I began writing, I felt more liberated and clear headed. After addressing the most pressing issues, I felt compelled to keep writing and I knew exactly what it had to be about: dystonia. Not only to better understand how to live more effectively with a chronic health condition, but to share with others the things I learned along the way to help them live as high a quality of life as possible.

diagnosis-dystonia-3d-coverTwo years later I published my book, Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey. This combination autobiography, self help, education book provides treatment options, coping strategies, skills for daily living, and tools for dealing with the physical and mental challenges of life with a chronic health condition. Serving as a roadmap, this resource covers nearly every physical, emotional, and psychological aspect of living with a chronic condition. The information it contains actually transcends dystonia, making it applicable to any life challenge, health or otherwise.

Although I always enjoyed writing, I never thought I would write a book. It just began to flow as soon as my fingers touched the keys. I actually believe that the book found me, and at the perfect time, as have subsequent writings. Writing gives me a sense of meaning and purpose, especially when someone tells me that something I wrote changed their life. Now that’s pretty cool!!

What is dystonia and where can I learn more? Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder characterized by uncontrollable, involuntary muscle spasms  and contractions, causing repetitive movements, twitching, twisting, and/or abnormal postures. Muscle contractions can be sustained or intermittent and sometimes include a tremor. Dystonia can affect any part of the body, causing varying degrees of disability and pain from mild to severe. For more information, please visit the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation’s website: www.dystonia-foundation.org

What is your favourite book? The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck

Who is your favourite author? Wayne Dyer

Is your writing influenced by the books you have read? In a way I suppose so. I mostly read self help, non-fiction, inspirational, and factual stories, as well as education/reference material, and my book, articles, and blogs are similar in content. However, with my background in social sciences, my main interest is capturing the human element that lies within all facets of life.

Where is your favourite place to read or write? I love to read and write on my back porch in the late afternoon and early evening when the sun is going down and the shadows on the ground are getting longer.

When did you begin writing and how did being published come about?  Ever since I was a little boy I was an avid reader and also wrote a lot of poetry. Although I disliked Language Arts classes in school, it was always my best subject. My book started as a journal for my own personal healing from a life changing health condition. It then expanded into a labor of love in an effort to help others.

If you have a genre you write, how did you begin writing in this style? Most of my writing stems from the chronic health condition I live with, but I also dabble in poetry and free writing that is unrelated.

Has being chronically ill influenced your writing and changed its direction? Most definitely! Each day I feel I gain new perspectives about life with challenges, whether they be my own or others. This provides me with greater understanding and empathy, which impacts the content and flow of my writing. I am always searching for greater connection with people beyond just their illness, as this is just one aspect of their interesting lives.

To learn more about me and my book, as well as my work as a life/health coach, please visit my websites: www.diagnosisdystonia.com and www.balanceyourlifecoaching.com

Book Reviews: Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey

“This should be THE resource book for dystonia for many years to come!”

“Must read for dystonia sufferers, doctors, friends, and family.”

“This amazing book exceeds anything out there.”

“An outstanding resource on dystonia.”

“Thank you for your passionate, positive, practical book!”

“Tom has written the definitive book on dystonia.”

“If you have dystonia this is the book for you!”

“Without this book I may have lost my mind!”

“A brilliantly written, honest, and open book.”

“Tom’s book is the best! If you haven’t read it, get it! Read it! Share it!”

 

 

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The Twists and Turns of Dystonia

September is Dystonia Awareness month so it seems fitting to review  3 books about the condition. This post originally appeared on blog Books, Tea and Snuggly Socks

When I was first diagnosed, as a bookworm, my  instinct was to find a book so I could find out more about this neurological condition. Google is great for many things but I needed words from people with the condition, to understand more and learn how to live with it. To my dismay, there were textbooks with prices beyond my bank balance but no sign of the books I craved, despite the condition being the third most common movement disorder and it affects at least  70, 000 people in the UK.  Roll on a few years I have found these.

A Twisted Fate My Life with Dystonia by Brenda Currey Lewis

A Twisted Fate

I stumbled across A Twisted Fate on Twitter and I am so glad I did. It has become one of my firm favourites in my Kindle library.

Written to spread much needed awareness of dystonia, Brenda Currey Lewis gives an honest, down to earth account of her life with generalised dystonia which began in childhood as well as a clear overview on what dystonia is.  Her story gives an insight into life with the condition and  shows how dystonia affects all parts of life including the lives of those around you. There were so many times I could relate to her experiences and I am glad my dystonia waited until I was older to surface in the 2000s. The writing style allows her strong character to come through and I imagine she would be amazing to talk to over a cup of tea.

I would recommend this easy to read, enlightening book to everyone who wants to find out more about the condition.

Diagnosis Dystonia by Tom Seaman

diagnosis dystonia pic

This was the book I wished I had found as I wobbled out of my neurologist’s room with a diagnosis. Diagnosis Dystonia covers a range of topics a newly diagnosed person needs to know, as well as information for those who have had the condition for a while. It is a book which is obviously written  with care and consideration of what the reader will need. Part memoir, describing his own journey with cervical dystonia and part guide to this condition, it delves into the physical and emotional side as well as different types, treatments, daily living and gaining support from others. Tom Seaman has written a book that gives an insight into the condition and shows ways to live with dystonia. It tells you there will be bad days but there are ways forward, to adapt and live your life. I have a rare form of dystonia (DRD) and there are parts that are not relevant but it doesn’t matter. There is something for everyone in this book. It can be read from cover to cover or dipped into when required. If I had this book when my own wobbly journey began it will look well-read with it opening naturally at certain chapters by now.

For those with the condition, it is a book of hope, determination and gives an insight into the world of dystonia so you can help yourself be your own advocate. For others, it gives you an awareness of the condition with all its ups and downs so you gain an understanding of the condition and support people may need.

Tom Seaman works hard to spread awareness via his blog

Misdiagnosed by Jean Sharon Abbott

misdiagnosed book

I have a rare form of dystonia – dopa responsive dystonia (DRD) which affects approx 1 in 2 million people. I have followed Jean Sharon Abbott on her blog Jean Sharon Abbott as she documents her life with this condition. I was excited to discover she was writing her memoir.

Misdiagnosed follows her life from childhood with the diagnosis of cerebral palsy  to when she was given the correct diagnosis of DRD. Unlike some dystonias, DRD can be treated with a drug commonly given to those with Parkinson’s disease. This small, yellow pill has the ability to transform lives. It can be the difference between  being in a wheelchair to climbing mountains. This positive book shows her strength and determination, the ups and downs of living with dystonia and appreciating the small things in life many people overlook.  It also highlights the need for awareness of dystonia so correct diagnosis can be given.

Jean Sharon Abbott’s has appeared on TV shows, written about in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Since her story has been told, others have been given the correct diagnosis so they are also living a life they never thought they would.

 

Useful links:

The Dystonia Society UK

Dystonia Medical Research Foundation

Michael J Fox Foundation