Seriously, what am I thinking?! It sounded great. iFred sponsored a walk for the National Eating Disorders Association and I met this wonderful woman who is a personal chef. She makes amazing, delicious, healthy foods and brings it to their doorsteps – incredible!
I was getting ready for the walk doing a great yoga stretch while munching on an incredible Amelie’s chocolate croissant. I could not get enough of it. It was heaven, and as I was doing my downward dog with one arm I realized maybe it was time for a break.
So I got to talking with Carol, and telling her how frustrated I was with my sugar cravings that had, once again, gotten the better of me. The stress of work and life (a lot of it GREAT stress) had gotten me eaten without thought again and slowly the pounds have crept back on. But more importantly, I don’t FEEL good. And I like to feel good.
So here I sit, Halloween morning waiting for my first meal and lemons that I was supposed to have last night – but somehow did not find time to get to the store to get them. I think I was spending my energy worrying about how I was going to make it through the week, as opposed to doing something productive with my angst like getting a lemon and salad.
So last night I had some potato soup and tortilla chips and polished it off with desert of an advantage bar (yes, I have to give these up), already feeling a failure and without having begun. Thankfully, Carol sent me a wonderful, kind e-mail telling me FORGIVENESS and kindness to myself is most important. Telling myself I am bad or a failure only makes things worse. I so often tell others, but forget to tell myself. So thank you Carol.
So I’m getting ready for the day realizing that not only did I start on Halloween and isn’t that incredibly significant and important, but that I actually put myself in a position where I have to BUY and HAND OUT treats to kids that I can’t eat! The ultimate test, but one that if I succeed or fail will love myself and be proud of my effort the same.
To be continued!
I have been addicted to just about everything, and have quit these addictions because of one primary reason; I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Granted, I found tools that worked and helped me along the way, but the thing that stopped the addiction wasn’t AA, a patch, advice from friends and family, or a divorce. It was something inside me; a true exhaustion from the up and down of the addiction itself, a total darkness before a new light.
I’ve heard different statistics about what depression costs the economy, primarily from an economic standpoint and all guesses. Business analysts say untreated depression is the largest healthcare expense of corporations. The World Health Organization says it is the leading cause of disability worldwide. But are we even beginning to capture the cost?
I want to outline how I see it affecting people, and I encourage anyone to throw out numbers and I guarantee you that if we put prevention programs in place we would make billions of dollars AND have a much healthier nation. I have no doubt in my mind, yet day after day we continue down the same road. We need a revolution.
The way I see it, untreated depression and mental health care:
- Drives up crime. At least 2/3 or people in jails have depression and other mental health issues. And my guess is it is 100% – if you are killing or raping or stealing, you have issues with your self-worth and impulse control. Period. How much does it cost to house a prisoner?
- Increases drug and alcohol abuse. If you can’t control your emotions with learned skills, you will do it how you see others doing it; drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sugar. What do we spend on drug and alcohol rehab? Family programs?
- Increases obesity. Many people eat to deal with their feelings. It is what we are taught as children and we get rewarded and punished with food. We put good things in our mouths so we have momentary escape from the bad things in the world. What are the costs of obesity?
- Increases illness. Depression is so often misdiagnosed, and often we ourselves don’t want to say ‘we are depressed’. Depression hinders our immune system, making us more susceptible to other illnesses and diseases. What is our healthcare system paying for misdiagnosis?
- Increases hospital costs. In the U.S., 30,000 people a year commit suicide, and 10X that attempt suicide. Guess where they go? To emergency rooms. The cost of that emergency room visit?
- Increases addictive tendencies. Overspending, overeating, gambling, sex addictions, texting while driving addictions, etc. etc. The cost to treating all of this is, immeasurable, not to mention the emotional devestation from lost lives.
I really could go on and on and on. Working in the field, I can’t tell you how many people have come to me saying ‘I want and need help, but have nowhere to go’. Hospitals won’t treat me, Medicaid doesn’t cover it, and hospitals kick me out after 72 hours. My brain isn’t working what can I do?
Do you know the helplessness these people feel? Their brain already isn’t working, they already feel bad, and now we tell them you are not important enough to help? How does that then trickle into society?
It just does not make sense to me. If I am feeling like I want to kill someone, what do I do? I hide in shame because I am not allowed to feel that way. Imagine if instead it was encouraged that I go in and talk to someone, and work through my anger. I could walk into any emergency room or hospital and could get an hour of therapy, free. Instead, we just give these people a place to live after the fact, further shaming them and adding to the cycle.
Our brain is our most precious resource, yet we continue to ignore the fact that it isn’t perfect and can become sick, just like any other part of our body. Further, we put laws and rules in place that discourage people who have a sick brain from getting help. We ignore the problem, and spend all of our money cleaning up the mess it leaves.
How can this change?
Honestly, sometimes nothing works better than laughter. I’m by no means saying treat your depression with laughter, but if something situational is going on and you just can’t seem to get out of that ‘funk’, try asking the universe for something funny. Anything. And then open your eyes.
This morning I woke up to a particularly horrid feeling from a bad dream, and literally thought nothing could break my sadness. So I started working, thinking about just how much the feeling sucked while understanding I just needed to sit through it and feel it. I had to remember I was lucky to have such depth of feeling, and work to feel the pain throughout my body in a positive way.
And then I looked outside. I usually hear frolicking birds in the morning, chirping away, eating food or taking a drink from the bird bath. Squabbling about life, in their brilliant red and blue and orange attire. Only today it was unusually quiet.
So as I sat pondering these feelings and trying to find something to open my mind, I noticed a little lump on the ground. Directly under the bird feeder. Only it moved a little. A cat.
I’m not sure why I found this so hysterical. Possibly the irony of it? It just seemed to me so hilarious, this cat cuddled up against the pole holding up the no-bird feeder. Waiting patiently for some spacey fluttery morsel to come down, so preoccupied flirting with its love interest in the next tree, oblivious to the fate below. It just made me laugh. And laugh. And laugh some more.
Before you know it, I was doubled over laughing at the silliness of it all, not caring who else thought it might be funny or worried that someone might see me acting like a crazy chick, crying one minute laughing the next. I simply embraced the humor and its healing properties, and its ability to change our total perspective and focus. And all I had to do was ask the universe for it. And then open my eyes. Thank goodness for laughter.
To read an interesting summary at about.com on the physical and psychological benefits of laughter, visit: http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/laughter.htm
Look at this tree. Wouldn’t you say it looks pretty normal? Can you imagine that it can kill you?
I was thinking about this because I am thoroughly frustrated about my inability to explain to people how, just because you can’t see depression, doesn’t mean it isn’t real. I mean, I’m pretty smart. I have an MBA in International Marketing, a BA in Psychology, and have worked for some of the best companies in the world in communications and marketing. My grammar / editing skills aren’t great and I definitely need some help on the organizational and financial management front, but in regards to this specific task of explaining the ‘realness’ of depression to others, I feel pretty well qualified for the reasons explained. I also both have depression and have lost those close to me with depression.
Yet day after day I talk or write about it, and we continue to chain people to trees in Africa, treating them like savages trying to force out some ‘deposed’ demon, because of their depression. It seems people have this massive fear that people with depression are possessed or crazy or deserve less of a life than anyone else, so instead of working to help them we further isolate them, ostrasize them, and shame them for their ‘supposed’ pain. We think that because we can’t see it, and haven’t figured out how to clearly define and describe it by science, it simply doesn’t exist. This brings me to the stinging tree.
I remember the stinging tree because I was writing about one of my adventures in the deep, uninhabited rainforest of Australia, and felt a terror from an experience I had there years ago while researching the Spotted Tailed Quoll. I just could not put my finger on the full reason why. I mean, beyond being lost and exhausted, with no water, no phone, no GPS, no food, and an unlimited supply of deadly snakes and spiders frolicking all around, there was something else…. And then it came to me. there was a plant there that could paralyze me with pain for months on end. I couldn’t remember what it looked like at the time, which didn’t help things. And actually, had I run into it, I most likely would have been killed because of all the other challenges I was facing.
Dubbed “The World’s Most Painful Plant” The Australian Stinging Tree has killed at least one human from exposure alone, and has killed many dogs and horses. It has a painful neurotoxin it releases into your skin, and the interesting thing is that the pain can last for months after the actual brush with it occurs. So your arm can look fine, but you can feel excruciating pain. Do you understand this connection? There is nothing visibally there. Yet you still have pain. And guess what? We don’t know why.
What is even stranger to me is that some animals are not affected by the plant at all. Insects and birds eat it. Some marsupials scurry all over it. Yet it can literally dehabilitate others.
Why can we easily accept that this pain occurs, but have such a hard time accepting brain pain occurs unless we are ‘intentionally’ making it hurt? I’m the first to admit that people with depression do things that does not help them or their situation, but would you judge someone who was flailing around from the stinging tree, making it worse as they spread it over their body, because they were reacting so badly to the pain? I doubt it. If you are human you would most likely have compassion, empathy, and do whatever you could to create an environment where they were able to calm down, get well and heal from this unexplainable plant.
I’m sure if you interviewed anyone that had experienced a bad brush with the stinging tree, they would assure you that even though you could not see the stingers, and it had been six months, the pain was still there. Maybe they would have to be in a hospital. Not go to school. Be grumpy and crabby to you because they hurt. Stay in bed for days or even months. While it would maybe stink to have to take over extra responsibilities, you would love and support them back to health.
Now imagine that the normal treatment for this stinging plant was to tied them to a tree, starve them, leave them in the hot sun to exorcise the evil stinging spirits. Or that your neighbor did that. Or they were doing this in Africa. There would be outrage! Picketing, protesting, news cameras, laws created, funds deployed, celebrities singing, talk shows bringing hope. IMMEDIATELY. Yet we do this same thing to people in Africa with depression, and so few people seem to really care. I just don’t get it.
It seems that just because it isn’t ‘new’ means it is unimportant. I protest. We don’t need to have a crisis today to make it a priority. Our inhumane treatment should have been addressed yesterday.
If you haven’t dealt with depression, consider yourself lucky. But if you know someone who has it, use your strength to overcome their weakness during the time of despair instead of taking that leaf and rubbing it all over them. You have no idea what someone else has gone through unless you have walked a mile in their shoes. And you never can.
If you can see they have been bitten by the plant but they don’t realize it or even know the plant exists, find your patience, love, and acceptance and bathe them in it as opposed to rubbing the pain in their face. Believe me, when you rub, it hurts. Maybe you can’t see it, but bit by bit it kills them.
There is help. Depression exists. People should not be chained to trees it only makes it worse. Unconditional love heals. It is up to 80% treatable. How can I better relay this to the public so that we have more than 25% of those that need treatment getting it? I wish I knew. Someone out there has to be smart enough to figure it out.
Some fantastic research has shown that the benefits of dogs can go beyond being good friends – they can help kids learn how to read. This article goes into detail about how, but a University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine did research on kids reading to dogs vs. kids not reading to dogs, and overall effect on reading. I think it would behoove us adults to learn from the techniques used by the dogs, so that we can be as effective (or better) than our four-legged friends.
The reasearch showed that kids reading to dogs had both improvements in both fluency and speed of reading. How did this happen with kids? The children reported:
- The dogs made them feel more relaxed
- The dog didn’t care or judge them if they made mistakes
- It was more ‘fun’
Kids reported a boost in self-confidence, worth, and esteem. So while this is fantastic research about dogs and the benefit of animals on health and wellbeing, I think it also should serve as a lesson to other kids or adults teaching reading or other life skills; be patient and non-judgemental. Perhaps the dogs in this study are not just teaching kids how to read – they are teaching people how to treat kids learning to grow up in this world. In any event, enjoy!