Taking a sick day

I know “You can blog when your sick”. You can but for me Im going to go take a nap, LOL. Normally I post content Mon, Wed, Fri at or around 7AM my time. I will have a great post ready to go on Wed but today I’m calling in sick to Word Press.

Thank you for all your support I really appreciate it. See you Wed !

Your Pagan Friend,

Karac

Anxiety Sucks Vol XIV. – How you are not supposed to feel on your Birthday

Yes I recently had a birthday, a big one 50. So for all my Gen X friends out there welcome to the silver years I guess, LOL. The event in of itself was good, my immediate family and in laws kept it low key which is what I wanted. Still that day I began to feel very anxious. The number doesn’t really throw me, 50 is a number. Some days I feel it, some days I feel older honestly. The worst part for me was I didn’t hear from anyone from my side of the family.

Upon reflection that was the source of my anxiety, I was anticipating a call or something which normally evolves into some rehash of a past event that I have no desire revisiting. We all realize that 1995 is was 25 years ago? MOVE ON. But I digress…

I won’t illuminate everything about my family, let’s just say that my childhood was less than stellar. It was a melding of so many factors that its hard to pin point one singular event or individual that contributed to the negative impact it had on me and many others. My siblings move out when each one turned 18 to escape, I was the youngest I was 8 years behind my sister so when I was 10, I was essentially alone in this abyss.

I survived, I got over it but there were a lot of things that happened along the way as I became an adult that made things, at various points go extremely sour. Silence, physical altercations, cops. Ya you name it we had it. I look back now and I realize that most of this was from an event that happened before I was born. I have a half-sister, who was given up by my mother at the behest of my father. Now this sounds complicated and it is, but the short story is she got pregnant right before they got married.

The family story is booze was involved, a mistake was made etc. Now what that did was, it created a foundation of mistrust and resent that over decades manifested itself in to all sorts of bullshit. My siblings and I were participants and outlets for this constant struggle between my parents. Honestly my brother got it the worst, the 70’s were not good for him I was too little to know what was going on.

Oh, right so my 50th birthday… What does all this have to do with it? I didn’t receive a card, a call, not even a text from anyone on my side of my family. I didn’t expect much, but a call would have been nice. I would have liked to hear from them, but it wasn’t to be. I was upset about it but got through the event. Now that I am a few days removed I can reflect back on it and it makes me a little sad.

Please folks, if you have issues with your family don’t let it fester. Before you know it, you’ll be 50 and your time is getting shorter and shorter. You can’t make up for lost time, be the bigger person and reach out. I wish I had, and I didn’t and that makes me a blatant hypocrite for giving this advice I realize that. It just sucks, and the longer it goes on the harder it is to fix.

Which is it?

I found a very good article here about anxiety and in it was a great little chart (see below).

Anxiety vs Anxiety Disorders Infographic.png

I don’t think this encapsulates 100% of anxiety issues but boy it captured a lot. I think many of us teeter between the columns. I certainly have had moments of avoiding social situations for fear of being judged. I think its important for all of us who deal with anxiety to be as honest with ourselves as we can.

That said I am not a big fan of labels but they are important if you are engaging in the battle of health care. Sadly, many care providers in the west cant or wont treat you unless you have a “diagnosis” from a doctor that you have actual anxiety disorder.

If you are fighting that battle, print this little chart out. Make sure you tell your Dr that it comes from the Anxiety and depression association of america. Advocate for yourself, you can do it. I don’t have much to add here other than to say look at the chart, if you think you fall into the anxiety disorder column that doesn’t make you deficient or a bad person. You have an illness, millions of us do, attack it, fight back! You are doing awesome, one day at a time.

Maybe it’s the clutter?

I always thought that was a great word “clutter” I don’t know why I just did. What if though clutter is contributing to your increased anxiety? I found a good article here That talks about how clutter can trigger stress and anxiety.

From the article: “Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter says: “Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and workspaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.” 

Its so true isn’t it? We aren’t talking about hoarders, that is a much deeper psychological issue but what I am talking about is general clutter in your “spaces”. As an example, before I leave my office every night I try and put things away and or make it look as neat as possible.

Prior to doing this when I would come in in the morning, I would feel overwhelmed and not know where to begin. I still feel this way at home, in my car etc. and no I am not a neat freak. I think what happens to many of us, at least me anyway, is all this clutter creates sensory stimulus that requires us to account for multiple things at one time.

Piles of clothes, kids’ toys, food wrappers in cars, books, make up kits on and on. We have more stuff now then most of our ancestors and it requires mental effort to categorize and prioritize each one. This can be overwhelming, and anxiety can take over and you collapse back into your safe space of hiding out.

I found one technique that has helped me over the years. I try and designate 5 minutes a day to “decluttering”. Before leaving work, I clean up my desk, before going to bed I clean up the spaces I uses. As best I can of course, I’m not bring out a mop and pail, but I am picking things up off the floor.

This is a little thing that happens to a lot of us with anxiety. Clutter can pile up fast and can over stimulate you, particularly on bad days. Pick up, clean up, straighten up a little bit everyday and try and rid yourself of yet another trigger.

The Veterans Post traumatic Growth Act

So, if you can step back from the gripping 24/7 coverage of impeachment you can from time to time find some positive news coming out of Washington. There has been a new bill introduced that will increase mental health options for Veterans dealing with PTSD. This bill will over time increase resources into mental health treatments for veterans which inevitably will have a trickle-down effect into the general population.

An article covering the new bill is here

From the article: “Despite increased funding at the Department of Veterans Affairs over the past few years, veteran suicide continues to tragically take the lives of the men and women who served our country in uniform at an alarming rate,” said McSally. “Every veteran is impacted differently, so it’s important that all veterans have access to care that helps them, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach. Our bill would allow veterans utilizing the Department of Veterans Affairs to access novel and non-traditional treatments that could make a difference in their life.”

This is troubling. Suicide is the ultimate end game for anxiety and depression and its very sad that many of our service members end up at that end. The end game SHOULD be are more options and more resources to help ALL people with mental health issues. This bill is a step toward that end. I mean what else is a government mandate other than to protect and serve its people?

The likelihood of this passing is high, as most of the congress is pro troops (not necessarily pro military) the residual effect of this will be outsourcing of the new resources to qualified professionals likely through nonprofits. Again, this isn’t a catch all be all solution but more resources, more awareness is a positive outcome.

In the end serving our veterans should be a priority. These men and women put their lives on the line when called to ensure our freedom. They deserve the best care we can afford, and this hopefully is a step in the direction of less military and more money toward disease and the human condition.

The Wisdom of Tolkien …Again…

“It is no bad thing celebrating a simple life.”
― J.R.R Tolkien

It’s true and you should practice it more often. How many of the things that cause you anxiety are “simple”? Food, water, shelter, clothing these are good things and should be celebrated and cherished.

Commuting to work, Instagram followers, WIFI Connections these are not simple things and things like this are likely contributing a great deal to your anxiety.

I don’t know you, I won’t profess to understand the circumstances of your situation. I will say though that celebrating the simple things in life should garner more of your attention. Tolkien is correct here, a simple life is worth celebrating, a complicated life is often wrought with dread, anxiety and sometimes heartache.

All the time? No, but if you suffer from anxiety, depression and stress perhaps taking a minute to identify what a simple life means to you is a good endeavor? It may very well be that the simple things, you over look, and that’s a shame they should be celebrated.

You are doing great, one day at a time…

If you’re stressed, you might get grey early

So, it turns out there is a measure of truth behind the notion that stress causes grey hair. Sure, we have all heard this said in some form or another over the years but if you had pressed someone who told you this for the evidence, it was usually anecdotal. I found a an article here about the subject and it looks like the science is affirming the old notion.

From the article: Chemicals released during the stress response — specifically norepinephrine — causes pigment producing stem cells to activate prematurely, depleting the hair’s “reserves” of color.

“The detrimental impact of stress that we discovered was beyond what I imagined,” Ya-Chieh Hsu, PhD, a lead study author and an associate professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard, said in a press release. “After just a few days, all of the pigment-regenerating stem cells were lost. Once they’re gone, you can’t regenerate pigments anymore. The damage is permanent.”

Once again, we see another measurable impact to stress, grey hair. Its so important to get a handle on stress and fight back against it. No grey hair isn’t going to kill you but its ONE MORE THING you have to deal with as a result of stress.

Understanding your stress triggers is critical to minimizing stresses impact on your life. Most of us are going to go grey at some point anyway but are you hastening the process? If you can find effective ways now of dealing with stress you might be able to stave off yet another negative result.

Grey hair isn’t the end of the world, but it can have a dramatic impact on your personal image. You may feel older, you may look older. Some people embrace grey hair and it becomes a large part of their personal style, that’s great. In the end if you want grey hair you can have it, there are hair dyes for every color under the sun.

In this case the unnatural way to obtain the color might be better as more stress often equals negative outcomes. Grey hair may be the least of your worries if stress is prevalent in your life. Take positives steps today to work on your stress levels, exercise more, get good rest, eat right. You know what to do, just keep working at it. You are doing great, one day at a time.

Where you live often dictates outcomes

I am patriotic, I admit it. That doesn’t make me a nationalist, it doesn’t make me right wing, it doesn’t make me a bad person. I love my country, and I feel fortunate to have been born here and live here. I also recognize that other people feel the same way I do about their home country. Our friends in India are no exception.

India continues to interest me as a content creator. Full disclosure, I get many hits on my blog from India. I suspect its because I do a fair amount of my content on stress and anxiety related issues. Indian citizens have their plate full when it comes to stress. Its not only the common ones we know in the west, but they have a far more involved family structure which we have largely unraveled here in the west.

I found an interesting article here.

From the article: “A report by the World Health Organization in 2017 found there were fewer than two mental health professionals for every 100,000 people, drastically lower than the global average of nine.

The crisis is expected to worsen, and many experts say it could have serious economic, social and cultural consequences. Between 2012-2030, WHO estimates that India’s mental health emergency will cost the economy more than $1tn in lost productivity (as measured in 2010 US dollars).”

Its not only the proportion of mental health professionals to population but proximity. In the west we have this image if India as being super populated, their cities overflowing. They may or may not be true, but India is a huge country, 70% of the population live in rural areas where there is only 25% of health infrastructure.

So, its not only an issue of availability in terms of ratios of health professionals but you then actually have to get to them to attain services. Not to mention payment, social stigmas on and on. India is an emerging super power, and I only use the term emerging because it’s full potential is still fairly untapped. While its history is remarkable, we know it as its current state post WWII.

If India were able to do more for its citizens with less, via improving the social net I think it would quickly emerge as one of if not thee top economy in the world. We are entering a period by which the world is becoming more bi-polar. The U.S. bloc and China. Russia continues to stagnate, but India is the country many don’t seem to bring into the conversation.

I see more and more articles about Indian culture and how there is a concerted effort by young people to modernize the social structure to afford more health care outcomes for more of the population. WHO claims there is a “mental health emergency in India” (per the article) and that might very well be but sounding the alarm doesn’t illuminate the full potential of this future super power.

The world in 2050 may look a lot different, specifically if India keeps investing in its people.  

Corona virus and your Anxiety

So, unless you have really been hiding out you have heard of the Corona virus. The media is pounding the drums of alarm. Wuhan a major city in China is closed down. There are reported cases all over the world. The visibility of this latest named virus can be a trigger for many people and their anxiety. It’s important to remember a few things here before you allow yourself to fall into the trap of anxiety over this.

Every few years a named disease comes to light. Why is that? Why the big push on a variant of the flu? Examples: Swine Flu, Bird Flu, SARS, Ebola. Now all of these kill. They aren’t to be taken lightly but they are trotted out into the media and the coverage is immense. Do you know anyone who was affected by any of them? Or Corona? The majority of the people who were affected, live.

One of the other things we have to keep in mind here is historical context. EVERY TIME one of these named diseases becomes prevalent, we are taken back to the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. It was horrible, Millions of people died, that’s a fact. There are of course other facts to consider… It was directly after WWI the world was exhausted. Sanitation and hygienics were not what they are today (people did shower daily then) medical apparatus was not anything like we have now… on and on.

But we will hear about it. Yes, millions died, 3% of the world’s population at the time. So, 97% didn’t die from it…

My point with all this isn’t to be absolutely cynical but its to illustrate a clear point. Often the alarm is loud and obnoxious to awaken you, once you are awake you can start dealing with the issue. Flu’s are nothing to sneeze at (I know ugh), seriously if you are sick and can’t seem to pull yourself out of it go to a hospital. Flu leads to pneumonia and pneumonia kills. Meantime your anxiety is heading off the charts with all this.

There may even be a small part of you that thinks “This is it, this is the apocalypse” It might be, but its unlikely. Remember its okay to be anxious but don’t allow yourself to be sucked into the machine of fear. Yes, flu kills people, yes, there is a particularly nasty strain of the Flu going around right now called the Corona Virus. Yes, you should be cautious and take care of yourself. A compromised immune system is your biggest obstacle.

Sleep. Yes, more sleep will help. The more rested your body is the more apt you are to be able to fight off diseases. Wash your hands often, eat well and sleep. This will eventually pass, no one knows how big this will get. Take care of yourself and if your anxiety begins to take over, shut off your screens. You are doing awesome, one day at a time.  

How weed can calm your anxiety

As we stroll into a new decade one of the industries that is growing is cannabis. BACK IN THE DAY…. This is your brain, this is your brain on drugs… If you survived the 80’s like me, you remember that quote. The social stigma of marijuana is gone and that’s a good thing. Full disclaimer, BACK IN THE DAY I followed the Grateful Dead around, I smoked a lot of weed. In my late 20’s I settled down got married had kids started a career.

Fast forward to today. The “weed” today is super potent. What we had in the 80’s simply pales in comparison to what is out there now. I live in the U.S. in a state that has legalized pot sales. Literally 10 miles from my house there are 2 stores that sell pot products it great. So, with the new acceptance of weed, comes some very good news, it can calm your anxiety.

I’m not advocating for you to roll a joint and light up, or pack a bowl etc., you do you. That said science is happening surrounding the benefits of cannabis consumption. I found a great article here about some of the research

From the article: “The study was done on mice, and the researchers focused on a neurological “circuit” in the brain that links the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. They showed that when the mice were under stress, the circuit between the two regions is activated. That link is associated with “anxiety-related behaviors,” the press release states, and as stress builds, the link between the two regions becomes stronger.

 “As people or animals are exposed to stress and get more anxious, these two brain areas glue together,” said Sachin Patel, the paper’s corresponding author, “and their activity grows stronger together.”

To further understand how this neurological mechanism works, the researchers assessed a molecule called 2-AG. It’s an endocannabinoid, a class of neurotransmitters that assists in a wide range of bodily functionsOpens in a new Window.. The 2-AG molecule blocks the circuit between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex by binding to receptors, which in turn reduces stress. The researchers posit that a breakdown in 2-AG signaling could be a root cause of chronic anxiety. If the molecule isn’t produced by the brain to interrupt the amygdala-prefrontal cortex circuit, the connection becomes stronger and anxiety symptoms may not dissipate like they’re supposed to.”

Now the article in of itself is short but it does link to the study cited if you desire to read it. The net bottom line here is a side effect of relaxing laws around cannabis has inspired companies to do research on its effects. We’ve all known for some time that weed can relax you, but studies like this prove it.

This can translate into better treatment options for patients. There is a slew of medications on the market now for anxiety and depression, some with serious side effects. For those of us who are functioning with Anxiety, perhaps cannabis is an alternative to a daily pill? Again, its about what works for you but having options is a positive thing.