Category Archives: Wellness

Yes, #metoo

To my fellow #metoo survivors, I am so thankful to have met you and have been witness to your strength. Without uttering a word, we both know what the other has suffered at the hands of others. Knowing that we have this commonality, while not something to celebrate, truly is a gift. Few can truly understand, and many, no matter how close to us they are, will never share that commonality and understanding that you and I and too many others do.

This is such an awkward time. There are so many who support us and stand up for us even if they don’t know our names or faces, who “celebrate” this scandal as a victory of sorts, uncovering the ugly secrets from the back of the Hollywood closets and recognize that open communication and solidarity are the only things that can keep this plague of systemic abuse at bay.

#MeToo: Harvey Weinstein case moves thousands to tell their own stories of abuse, break silence

They’re right, but sadly no matter how much we appreciate their support, what they don’t realize is that as this story stays in the forefront, all of us…even without thinking about one single detail of our own incidents, are drowning in the flood of emotions that come with it. Some might call it empathy, however, I think PTSD is a more apt description. We’re left trying to stay on our feet while these waves come crashing against us, furiously trying to keep our head up and not get pulled down by the undertow.

So for those of you who see #metoo, we thank you for your support even though we might not be able to say it just yet, and please know that your support will help in our healing.

I wish you peace and prosperity, 

Maggie ॐ

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Why are you whispering? Check Them Before You Wreck Them!!

It’s that time of year again, and by that I mean it’s the time for slacktivism in the name of breast cancer. While the games haven’t surfaced (yet), There’s a different one currently going on.  I woke up to see a notification on messenger from my friend’s daughter that said the following:

She sent the words, I made the graphic.

As per my usual stance I had to tell her no because these things make me angry, but assured her that I would get a reminder out.  If you’re new to following me, I must explain that I get really angry with the slactivism.  You see both of my parents died of cancer.  My father died of a mesothelioma (the ones that the attorney’s advertise) and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer just 6 months later.

She went through months of medication and radiation, constantly in pain from the literal burns to her skin.  6-1/2 years later, and after yet another clean bill of health from her bi-annual checkups from her breast oncologist, we went on the vacation she’d always dreamed of to Alaska. She had fallen getting in and out the boat she boarded to go salmon fishing.  She caught a nice one too, over 2 feet long!


When we got home her shoulder suddenly started getting worse instead of better.  That’s when  they found a spot on her liver.  They did further testing and revealed that a tumor was in her liver and not on it as it appeared initially and was progressing pretty rapidly.   With the confirmation they gave her 4-6 months to live, but she died one month later when the tumor had grown so large that it literally caused her liver to rupture/explode.


Oddly enough her death certificate lists the cause of death, not as liver cancer, but as metastasized breast cancer, meaning that breast cancer returned has spread.  When I questioned this I was informed that any time someone has breast cancer and then dies of cancer, regardless of what type, the death certificate will always list it as metastasized breast cancer.  I always wonder how much the numbers are skewed by that policy since breast cancer is touted to be the biggest cancer risk to women.


Now for those who haven’t been around someone with cancer, there are several forms of treatment, chemo and radiation being to the two biggest.  Radiation therapy causes a burn to the skin that’s like the worst sunburn you’ve ever had. It was brutal, and it hurt her so bad, just putting a t-shirt on was painful and putting on a bra and going to work, much less going to work all day.  Think about working with the worst sunburn you’ve ever had and then multiply it several times.  It can also cause other issues like lumps under the skin (doesn’t that sound like it would be pleasant to add to already wonderful situation.

Chemotherapy is another type of radiation therapy but instead of being topical (directed to the skin from outside the body) it is invasive, meaning taken internally.  And because it’s an invasive therapy, it means that it can have side effects anywhere in the body instead of it remaining in the area targeted like radiation therapy does.  There’s too long of a list for me to cover all the side effects of chemotherapy;  if you’d like to see them and learn more please visit the National Cancer Institute’s Chemotherapy Side Effects series, there are 18 documents in total.

Educating yourself and others is what needs to be done to finally win this battle.  Cancer has claimed *BILLIONS* of lives.  There is nothing to whisper about behind the scenes. Preventing cancer is not in poor taste, it’s not obscene.  For the record not only do men have wives, mothers, girlfriends, sisters and daughters who have, have had or possibly will have this and they need to know about this too, men can also get breast cancer.  Tell me the last time you saw a game of tag about that?

So speak up and speak out.  Stop whispering and playing online games, and thinking you’re off the hook because you bought something with a pink ribbon on it in the past 20 years.  We need to save the people, not the tatas.  So please, check them before cancer wrecks them.  If you’re a woman who is sexually active, consider doing it with your partner since chances are they are more intimate with your boobs than you are (or at least they try to be).  The Five Steps of a Breast Cancer Exam

So remember…

 

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

 

P.S.  While we’re talking about it, guys need to be reminded too.

 

 

PTSD Awareness

June is PTSD Awareness Month, and it’s more common than you might realize.

PTSD-after-Open-Heart-SurgeryWhat is PTSD?

It’s estimated that approximately 20% of combat vets suffer from PTSD and only half will seek treatment.  But they’re not alone. Originally noted by terms of “shell shock” and “battle fatigue”, we’ve come to realize that it’s not just soldiers who suffer from this. Anyone who has been subject to a severe emotional trauma can experience this as their mind tries to process what has happened.

Abuse victims, rape victims, victims of violent crimes, combat, natural disasters, etc. all take time to emotionally heal from what they’ve experienced. However when the symptoms are severe and they last more than four months, they may very well have PTSD.

PTSD occur

It’s estimated that as many 8% of all Americans (over 24 million) will experience PTSD in their lifetime.  We tend to hear the term thrown around but I wonder how many people really know what it is?

PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is characterized by three types of symptoms:

Reliving the event – Most commonly known as flashbacks or triggers, hearing a car backfire can trigger someone to re-experience sounds of gunfire, seeing a car accident can cause someone to relive their own traumatic event, etc.  Something as subtle as a news broadcast or online video, a sound or even a smell can trigger this things during waking life.  Reliving the event in dreams is common as well.

Avoidance of reminders – This can be avoiding tv or movies with similar subject matter such as war movies or ones with fires, earthquakes or one where a character is raped, or avoiding similar locations.  For example, getting robbed at an atm may cause you to only take cash out when you’re at the store so you don’t have to go near the bank.

Having been in a shoe store when it got robbed caused one of my best friends to not be able to bring herself to go in that chain store again for many years; and not just that location but all of them since they all look-alike.

Feeling numb or keyed up – Staying “numb”, shutting down emotionally as a means of not dealing with feeling… with people, activities or even forgetting parts of the traumatic event or just not be able to talk about them.

Being “keyed up” includes sudden rushes to anger or irritability, trouble sleeping or concentrating, becoming almost paranoid about your safety or startling very easily.

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I was working in a restaurant years ago as an hourly supervisor when we were robbed at gunpoint.  No one was hurt thankfully and it was over in about a minute.  It was my last day of work before vacation which I thought was a blessing at the time but it turned out to be my downfall.  With not being there, I wasn’t able to deal with it and fear took over.  When I did go back to work, I couldn’t be anywhere near the register without breaking into a sweat from a panic attack.  My boss was very understanding and accommodated me stepping down from my supervisory position for a couple of weeks and kept me in the kitchen. Sadly it just got worse.

After 9 years with the company I wound up putting in my notice and left because I just couldn’t handle even being in the building anymore. I had nightmares regularly for a couple of years after the incident, each time I wound up getting shot, even though no one got hurt in real life.

A year later my family and I went out to dinner (my daughter was 4 at the time) and my sister noticed a sign that it was supposed to be family night complete with a clown and balloons.  As the server came by my sister asked where the clown was and that my daughter would enjoy a balloon only to be told that he had already left for the night since there weren’t many children in the restaurant.  I was tending to my daughter and heard my sister exclaim “we got robbed” – speaking of the clown and the balloons.  I however broke into a cold sweat and started crying and eventually excused myself to go throw up.  The very definition of being “keyed up” and “startling easily”

I’ve dealt with many things in my life, which to me (on paper at least) would seem to be more traumatic that this one minute window of time… but it derailed me for a several years.  I have no idea why one incident would create such a lasting effect while others did not.  I never sought help, in fact I didn’t even know that what I experienced even had a name.  It wasn’t until many years later when I was retelling the story to someone when they told me it was PTSD.  Had I or someone around me known what it was, I could have sought help to deal with it.

The effects of PTSD run deep

PTSD doesn’t just affect your moods and  your dreams. There is a physiological component to PTSD.  Studies have shown that there are physical changes that take place in the brain.  In other words, your brain gets rewired.  That’s why overcoming it is so difficult. Most affected are the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex.

The brain controls everything, so physiological changes can affect all areas of your body and life.  The limbic system, located deep in the cerebrum, is composed of the amygdala, the hippocampus and they hypothalamus.

The amygdala deals with our primal instincts – fear, panic and all that’s associated with it; Heart rate changes,  sweaty palms, tremors, even nausea and diarrhea.

The hippocampus handles memory which is why people with PTSD can lose sections of their memory and even what’s called “anterograde amnesia” which is the inability to form new memories even if the old ones are completely intact.  These changes are thought to be caused by increased exposure to cortisol, also known the “stress” hormone.

The hypothalamus controls hormone production.  It affects sex drive, weight gain, sleep, thirst, body temperature, hunger and the release of hormones from other glands including the pituitary.  The pituitary gland is a critical part of our ability to respond the environment around us, most often without our knowledge.

The prefrontal cortex area controls your cognitive behavior, decision-making and even appropriate social behavior.

That’s just the start of it.  These changes convert into pain sensitivity, auto-immune disorders, fibromyalgia, etc.  Alcohol and drug use and abuse are frequent occurrences as well in the attempt to self-medicate and cope with all that one is dealing with.  As you can see, it’s not just a simple bad memory but your world being turned completely out of control.

 

National-PTSD-Awareness-Day1-226x300

If you’ve had symptoms like these, please find someone to talk to and know that you’re not alone.  If you know someone who is having these issues, please give them the help and empathy they need to deal with it.  Know that they have to heal in their own time.  There is no schedule, no cure, no pill they can take to make it go away, just time, support and understanding.

June is PTSD awareness month, and I’m so glad that it’s getting a bit of a spotlight, but knowing exactly what it is, is crucial to dealing with it.  So please, share the word.

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

Spending Time With You

I saw a piece that came through on Buzz Feed entitled 31 Delightful Things To Do By Yourself.  I really enjoyed seeing that piece come around and I really hope that it inspires  younger people to do things solo.  Not just because it’s frugal, but because it’s necessary.  When I was younger I didn’t know how to spend time with myself nor did I want to.  While I love spending time with friends and family, I am finally at a point in my life where I enjoy my own company.  It took me way too long to get here.

After all the years that I spent being an active mother and wife, I realized that I spent my time as the hub in all the activities. I was included with each person individually and as a family, but I never went off on my own adventures even though my husband kept unsuccessfully trying to encourage me to do so.  (Thanks for trying ARV, you were right.)

My daughter moved out and that was a bit of an adjustment.  I think kids are more prepared to leave the house then the parents are to let it happen.  With her gone, it just left me and my husband together (constantly) and that was not good at all. After a few years of that we separated and it left me alone and scared to death.

Here I am two years later, and while I still enjoy my time with others, I’ve really come to value and enjoy my time by myself.  I write, I paint, I craft, I read, and I meditate. I spend time with you and the rest of my online friends.  I enjoy going out to dinner occasionally (when I can afford it LOL) with my kindle.

I like going shopping and just wandering around the stores looking at things, or going for a drive and checking out the landscape. I love listening to music, I read and occasionally I turn on the TV.  And the best part?  I never have to negotiate what I’ll be watching or feeling trapped and wishing I could be doing something else instead.

Spring Dreams2
This is my latest painting, I made it for my niece and her husband. That is their initials and their wedding date on the tree trunk.

As we go through life we find out that we don’t stay the “hub”, as our children become the “hub” of their own families and lives.  We may be married, single (or widowed).  We need to enjoy ourselves and value ourselves as others do.  So take the time to make friends with yourself; take yourself out on dates, spend quality time with yourself and make sure you’re giving yourself the same time out of “family time” that other family members get, you really need it.

What things to you enjoy doing on your own?

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

The Lost Art of Courtship & Conversation – Part 1

Courting tends to be a thing of the past in the country.

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Attraction tends to outweigh the need for compatibility, which later can make a relationship harder to maintain.  Even in my own relationship history, there has only one person that I connected with as a friend before the relationship changed into something more.

For those who haven’t been following me all that long, I have separated from my husband with the intent of divorcing.  I’m rather gun shy so to speak and would rather avoid a relationship altogether than go through the dreaded “rebound”.  I’ve had enough upheaval without adding to personal pain and drama.

Recently a friend has expressed an interest in pursuing something more than our current friendship, which I am interested in as well.  Living two hours away from each other makes it very easy not to be hasty and to be able to truly find out more about each other as individuals before advancing our relationship further.  This is truly the first time someone has ever said that they’d like to get to know me better and it didn’t mean to get undressed.  The conversations have been absolutely amazing and insightful, including one evening of sitting on the phone while playing a game of online Scrabble together.  

The amazing part for me is that not only has it given me a greater insight and understanding of a dear friend, but it gives us both the option of taking a step back and still retaining the friendship if we decide this is not something we want to pursue in the long run, without ruining the friendship.  While I don’t see that happening, I find the entire concept amazing and almost surreal.  Having come of age in the early 80’s, this sadly is not how my generation generally handles relationships and dating.  I’ve literally been on less than a half-dozen pre-relationship dates in my life.

So the other day, I was surfing online when I found a list of “50 Questions You’ve Never Been Asked Before”.  I grabbed them and mentioned it and was delighted that my friend was just as interested as I was.  We only got half way through the list and it was one of the most enjoyable, insightful conversations I’ve ever had.  I can truly see where services like eHarmony and Match.com really have an edge into helping couples find the right person since we’re not really skilled in the art of courtship as a society anymore.

Having such a wonderful time learning about each other has led me to add a few more of my own questions as well as to explore the internet for some additional questions as well.  Since this has turned into a rather long list, I’m going to be posting it in installments.

I encourage you to check them out and ask them of a current partner, someone you’re dating or talking to online.  If you’re not in a relationship currently, ask a good friend to make them a better friend.  Sometimes we need “dating practice” even if we’re in a relationship and after all, getting to know someone better is always a good thing.  

  • 1. What’s your favorite candle scent(s)?
  • 2. What’s your favorite kind of pizza?
  • 3. Did you ever have an imaginary friend?
  • 4. How old were you when you got married?
  • 5. How many states have you been to? Lived in?
  • 6. What’s your favorite mixed drink?
  • 7. How old were you when you learned how to ride a bike?
  • 8. How many oceans have you gone swimming in?
  • 9. How many countries have you been to?
  • 10. Can you eat with chopsticks?
  • 11. What breed(s) of dog do you like?
  • 12. What would you name your son/daughter if you had one?
  • 13. What’s your favorite kind of cereal?
  • 14. What was your favorite TV show when you were a child?
  • 15. What did you dress up as on Halloween when you were eight?
  • 16. Have you read any of the Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Twilight series?
  • 17. Would you rather have an American accent or a British accent?
  • 18. Where would you still like to travel?
  • 19. What was the last concert you went to?
  • 20. Have you ever taken karate lessons?
  • 21. What’s your favorite genre of music?
  • 22. What was the first amusement park you went to?
  • 23. What language, besides your native language, would you like to be fluent in?
  • 24. Do you spell the color as grey or gray?
  • 25. How long have you known your oldest friend?
  • 26. Do you know sign language?
  • 27. What foods will you not eat?
  • 28. Do you eat spicy food?
  • 29. What’s the name of your favorite restaurant?
  • 30. Red Lobster or Olive Garden?
  • 31. Thrift stores or yard sales?
  • 32. What would your parents have named you if you were the opposite gender?
  • 33. What was your nickname as a child? 
  • 34. Who’s your favorite person in the world?
  • 35. Would you rather live in a rural area, in the suburbs or in a city?
  • 36. Can you drive a manual transmission car?
  • 37. Can you sleep with the TV on?
  • 38. Have you ever driven without a license?
  • 39. What’s your favorite flavor of Pop Tart?
  • 40. What was your first car?
  • 41. Have you been to the Rocky Horror Picture Show?
  • 42. What are your favorite children’s movies?
  • 43. Do you own a suit?
  • 44. What’s the last present you got?
  • 45. Do you usually remember your dreams in the morning?
  • 46. What flavor tea do you enjoy?
  • 47. How do you like your steak cooked?
  • 48. What religion were you raised to practice?
  • 49. Where did you go to high school?
  • 50. The Grinch – Boris Karloff or Jim Carrey?

Let me know if you think of other questions and I will add them to the list for the follow-up posts.  Also, I’d love to hear your feedback! Post them in the comments section below.

 

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Diet and Routine Can Affect Your Symptoms

Approximately 1.3 million Americans, mostly women, are affected by rheumatoid arthritis.  RA is a long-term chronic autoimmune disease that is treatable, but not curable.

For some, the disease can go into remission periods, while for others the disease is a constant presence in their lives especially as it progresses.  RA causes moderate to severe pain as it destroys and disfigures the joints in the body; symptoms can be exacerbated by “triggers”.

Although rheumatoid arthritis can involve different parts the body, joints are always affected. When the disease acts up, joints become inflamed. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or other threats, but in rheumatoid arthritis inflammation occurs inappropriately and for unknown reasons.

Strong medication can help, but knowing what things can trigger your symptoms can be your first line of defense in keeping the disease under control and pain manageable.  In the big picture, these play minor roles in RA in comparison to taking the right medication for instance, but a whole body approach is always best in managing disease rather than expecting one specific treatment or medication to manage it entirely.

Smoking

One factor that affects RA is smoking, says Susan Goodman, MD, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.  “Smoking clearly has an impact—it makes it worse and increases the likelihood of getting it,” she says.

RA nonsmokers have fewer swollen, painful joints than smokers, research suggests. RA smokers are three times as likely to have rheumatoid factor—a sign of more severe disease—and twice as likely to have joint damage.

Coffee

The link between coffee or tea and RA is debatable. Research has suggested that decaf coffee (four or more cups a day) can increase the risk of getting RA, but caffeinated coffee has no impact, and tea may reduce risk. Other research found no correlation between decaf and RA.

One issue, though, is that coffee may make some RA medications, such as methotrexate, less potent, therefore limiting its effectiveness.

Weather

While research on the topic is few and far between, there does seem to be a link between weather and RA symptoms. It is likely that barometric pressure and temperature changes have the biggest impact on symptoms because it affects the swelling of the joints.

As with many conditions, any change in climate tends to worsen symptoms—so RA patients may fare better when the weather is more consistent.

Seasonal allergies

As with the other factors on the list, the link between RA and allergies may vary from person to person.

Still, there is some research that suggests that people with RA are less likely to have hay fever. And people who do have both may have less-severe RA symptoms.

“My guess is that some of the allergy medications may help with some (RA) symptomatic therapy,” Dr. Goodman says. “Or it could just be that people notice RA symptoms less because they are so distracted and miserable with their allergies.”

Another possible answer is that the histamines from the allergies or the antihistamines taken for treatment could play a role as well.

Alcohol

In a recent study in the journal Rheumatology, researchers asked about 1,800 people about their alcohol-drinking habits and RA.

They found that people who had at least one drink three or more days a week were four times less likely to have RA than nondrinkers.   Also, RA patients who did drink tended to have milder symptoms than those who didn’t.

Add a glass of wine with dinner a few nights a week and see if you experience added relief.

Vitamin D

The link between vitamin D and RA is tricky.

Research suggests women in the northeastern U.S. are at greater risk of RA than those in sunnier regions. Lack of sun can cause vitamin D deficiency. And vitamin D deficiency has been linked with other autoimmune diseases.

“Vitamin D has a lot of interesting immune effects and metabolic effects and is critical to bone health,” Dr. Goodman says. “Whether taking vitamin D will delay the onset or prevent it seems less clear-cut, but it is an important part of overall bone health.”

Pregnancy

It’s tough to predict the impact of pregnancy on RA. Women generally stop taking medication in pregnancy because the drugs may hurt the fetus.

For some, RA symptoms improve or even go into remission, Dr. Goodman says. She attributes this to the fact that the immune system is suppressed during pregnancy.

But others can experience even more pain than they normally do. And those who have a great pregnancy can have a flare-up after they give birth.

Breast-feeding

There are many benefits to breast-feeding, including a possible reduction in RA risk.

A 2004 study in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism found that, compared to women who didn’t breast-feed, those who spent a total of one to two years breast-feeding had a 20% lower chance of getting RA. Those who did for two years or more had a 50% reduced risk.

A 2008 Swedish study showed similar results. Breast-feeding for up to one year was associated with a 25% reduced risk, and breast-feeding for 13 months or more was linked to a 50% reduction in risk.

Hormones/contraceptives

The data is a bit up in the air when it comes to hormones and RA.  Studies have not found a link between contraceptives and the risk of RA or the severity of disease.   A 2004 study found that women with irregular menstrual cycles do have a higher RA risk.

“The data aren’t completely clear” on this topic, Dr. Goodman says. But hormones may play a role in reducing symptoms. “There is no question that estrogen can decrease pain, so part of some of the perimenopausal flares may be caused by estrogen withdrawal.”

Cold/flu

There seems to be an anecdotal link between the flu and worsening RA symptoms. And the flu can be especially dangerous for people taking medication that weakens the immune system, which includes most of the drugs used to treat RA.

The CDC recommends flu shots for people with RA. (But not nasal-spray flu vaccines, which contain live viruses.)  One note of caution: Certain RA medications—methotrexate, prednisone, and rituximab—may lower the effectiveness of flu shots.

Arthritis Today

Shed extra pounds

If you’re overweight, losing those excess pounds may take some of the pressure off of your joints.  “If I have a patient with RA who’s overweight and loses 10 pounds, every time he takes a forceful step forward, that’s 30 pounds less on weight-bearing joints [such as the hips and knees],” says Dr. Hadler.

What’s more, it may also improve quality of life. A 2006 study found that overweight and normal weight people with RA had a higher quality of life than those who were obese.

Eat omega-3’s

Several studies suggest that people with RA may benefit from fish oil supplements, which contain inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.   RA patients are also at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, and fish oil is thought to be good for the heart too.

However, studies suggest that you need to get 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day (a 4-ounce piece of salmon has a little over 2 grams) for 12 weeks, which could get pricey or the diet hard to maintain.

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Make it Mediterranean

In a 2003 Swedish study, people with RA who ate a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetable, cereals, legumes, and olive oil for three months experienced improved physical functioning and vitality when compared to RA patients who did not.

The effects of the Mediterranean diet on rheumatoid arthritis long-term are still unclear, but including more fruits and vegetables in your diet isn’t a bad idea.

Consider a vegetarian diet

At least one study found that people who ate a vegetarian or vegan diet reported an improvement in RA symptoms, including pain score, morning stiffness, and grip strength compared to those who didn’t.

However, because these diets are restrictive, many of the participants were unable to maintain them for the year long study period.

If you can’t give up meat, then at least try to get a few more greens on your plate. The antioxidants, such as those found in green peas, bell peppers, and broccoli, may protect against tissue damage around the joints caused by free radicals.

Check your vitamins

Some evidence suggests certain nutrients may help patients with RA. For example, some studies showed that vitamin E supplements reduce RA joint destruction and pain, while others do not.

Selenium levels are also thought to be too low in some people with RA. However, only one study has found that selenium reduced swollen joints and stiffness, and it also involved fish oil supplementation, so it’s difficult to determine if selenium can help reduce RA symptoms.

In addition, some RA patients take methotrexate to slow disease progression.  But the drug also inhibits folic acid metabolism and causes a range of side effects, including mouth sores, says Dr. Hadler. He suggests folic acid supplements to decrease these adverse effects.

Find out about allergies

Food allergies, especially to dairy and shrimp, may aggravate rheumatoid arthritis. Some people try elimination diets, which involves removing all potential allergens from the diet and slowly adding these foods back to see if they trigger symptoms.

Studies have tested whether exposing patients to foods that had previously upset their RA consistently worsened their symptoms. “You get a smidgen of a hint that food aggravates symptoms,” says Dr. Hadler.

But he explains that there’s tremendous variation within any individual’s symptoms in a given time period, making it difficult to study the effects of elimination diets.

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Helping Others Through Understanding

Many people suffer from social anxiety and/or depression, some more severe than others. If you know someone who does, please talk to them.

I was reading the blog post linked below and felt I really needed to pass the message on.

http://www.newlycrunchymamaof3.com/dear-diary/social-anxiety-strikes-again?fb_action_ids=10202082985225280&fb_action_types=og.likes

Reading this woman’s blog really cut close to home for me since I’ve suffered from depression for many years.

Depression goes in waves and even with medication it doesn’t go away, the waves just get calmer and less erratic.  It’s hard dealing with people who think that you should “get over it” or think that medication should “cure you” or worst of all can’t tell or refuse to acknowledge that there’s a difference between having depression and being depressed about things.  For that reason I really wish there was another name for it other than depression.

Thoughts come into your head that you didn’t put there, you don’t want there and can’t control.  Worst of all, you’re afraid to talk about them because of how people will react.  Some people treat you differently.  Some people freak out.  Some think you’re saying it for attention – which by the way is one of the most horrible things you could ever say to a person with depression.  We don’t want this, I can promise you that.

My daughter has dealt with panic & anxiety almost her whole life.  I’ve dealt with some anxiety issues, but not to the level that she has.  Having the opportunity to home school allowed her & I to come to understand her issues better, know what triggers to avoid, when we need to talk things through and when she needs a “time out”.  Because all nerves are connected, these “mental” issues affect physical ones as well… over sensitive hearing, sense of touch can be painful, stomach cramps, headaches, etc.

Overstimulation has always been a big issue and she can’t handle crowds.  Once we were able to isolate this, she started putting herself in “time out”.  Our code was that she had one of “her headaches”, it let me know that things were getting to be too much for her and that she couldn’t handle it.  If we were in a social setting it allowed her to gracefully bow out away from other kids with parental support so she could go to a quiet place and regroup.

I’ve got to say Bach’s Rescue Remedy was a miracle drug during those years.  A few drops in whatever she was drinking, made a huge difference and she still keeps it on hand to this day and thankfully rarely needs it.

Diet and medications can play a huge roll in these issues like these.  While you cannot “be cured” by eating a certain diet, etc, what you put into your system can make symptoms worse.

Many years ago I pulled a muscle in my back and the doctor had prescribed a certain pain medication (one that I have refused to take since).  Within days I could swear I could feel the gravitational pull of the planet.  My tone of voice was just nasty and hateful without meaning to be and I wasn’t aware that I was doing it most of the time.  When you say something to your (then) six-year-old and they look at you and say “it’s okay Mommy, I know it’s the medication” – there’s a problem.  Huge!

While you hear warnings in the media about giving antidepressants to teens because of the adverse effects (i.e. suicidal tendencies) they can cause. However you rarely hear about other medications and how they can cause problems.  My doctor knew of my depression and was the one that put me on medication for it.  He then gave me depo-provera for birth control and never once mentioned that it could be contributing to my depression worsening… even though depression is the number one side effect of depo-provera!  Instead he just kept adjusting  the dosage of my medication.  Thankfully I was able to say “this isn’t working anymore” and
“my symptoms are getting worse”.  Some people aren’t that lucky, instead they get consumed with it then try to (and sometimes succeed at) taking their own life.

If you have a friend or family member that suffers from social anxiety, depression, etc.  If they’re turning down your invitations but saying they’d like to get together, find out what’s up.  Maybe they can’t hang out with you at the club or the bowling alley or Chuck E.Cheese with the kids, but they’d love to meet you at the park or in a coffee shop.

If you’re not inviting them to something you know they can’t handle – let them know! Say “hey, I’d love to have you there but I know you can’t handle this”, so they know you’re not ignoring them and they also know you’re trying to be understanding of what they’re going through.  By all means let them know if they’re up to it you wish they’d come. Silence makes things worse.  Don’t let them think that you’re shunning them when you’re really trying to help.  Communication is key!

If you’re a parent, please listen.  Don’t assume.  If you have never dealt personally with anxiety or depression but you think your child is having these issues, introduce them to an adult that has if you can.  Whether it’s a friend of the family or a counselor, better to err on the side of caution.  Learn what you can and encourage your child to open up to you, without judgement.  It can be scary to hear certain things as a parent, but you must have empathy rather than panic or anger.  A little girl who my daughter was in Brownies with didn’t have anyone to listen and took her own life at 17.

There is nothing lonelier than depression, anxiety and panic.  It’s like being in a dark hole and the air is getting thick.  You can’t reach out because you can’t see anyone in the dark.  Please be the light in the dark and reach out.   Ask how you can help to understand what they’re going through.  You may be able to help, then again most likely there may be nothing you can do.  Or they may just not know what you can do but knowing that you’re there for them and care enough to ask makes a huge difference.

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie