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Monday, February 29, 2016

Watch the hilarious three part dark comedy Stag

Scotland has a beautiful and wild landscape but it also dangerous. It rains a lot and it can be bitterly cold not only in the winter. Reason the more for the perfect film location. The treacherous and changeable Scottish conditions are unforgiving. Last Saturday evening I watched part one the hilarious three part dark comedy Stag on BBC Two channel.

A group of English men have traveled to the Scottish Highlands for a stag party. The film starts with the brother of the bride, played by Jim Howick is “forgotten” at a crossroad.  When he is finally picked up he is cold and soaking wet. Not a good start for a party.  Shortly after he arrives at the pub the group is driven through the night by their guide. The plan is to go stag hunting. However it has been raining cats and dogs and soon the jeep comes to a sudden stop. The only one way they can continue is to totally strip naked and wade through a flooded road. Shivering from the cold the guide abandons them after he’d mentioned something about stags attacking men and women or men who appear female. From here on the group is on their own. It’s in the middle of the night, they don’t know where they are and they are in danger of running into a full grown stag.

The film gets better and better. BAFTA-nominated writer Jim Field Smith says there are twists upon twists to come in the three on hour episodes. In fact, scripts were not given to actors after their respective characters died and the cast and crew kept secret on the mystery.

Friday, February 26, 2016

What is the difference between getting treatment in a mental hospital and getting counselling in a private practice?

There seems to be a lot of confusion between what a psychiatrist does and what a counselor does. People have heard, seen or read horror stories about mental wards where people are kept and medicated against their will. This can happen in psychiatry and there are still places where the patient is loaded with anti-psychotics. A lot of people tend to wait with seeking help until they have reached the edge of the cliff. When nothing else is left they begin to contemplate talking to their doctor, the doctor at his or her turn will than prescribe medication.  

Electro-convulsive therapy

Electro-convulsive therapy is still used and although patients give their consent, they are often in state of mind that disables them from making a rational decision. In a confused state many people give consent to something they don’t fully comprehend. Patients give consent to treatment that is not of half explained to them.
The use of electricity to treat mental illness started out as an experiment in the 1930s.
ECT involves an electrical current being passed through the brain via electrodes joined to the scalp. The resulting seizure can have significant beneficial effects, according to consultant psychiatrists. However, many mental health campaigners say the forced use of ECT is a human rights abuse and is the source of long-lasting side-effects such as memory loss. A patient must consent to the treatment but if they decide against it that decision can be overridden if two psychiatrists believe it’s in the patient’s best interest.

Working in a nursing home in the early “noughties” there was an older lady who presented herself with severe anxiety.  I spend many hours talking to her and above all keeping her company. She complained of feeling lonely but couldn’t join the other residents in the big living room, her anxiety wouldn’t let her. Her fear was so deeply rooted that she barely able to leave her room. If it wasn’t for the staff bringing her down to the dining room she would have stayed in her room 24/7. One day she revealed to me that she had received electric shocks in a mental hospital. Instead of making her feel better the treatment  became her worst nightmare. Although it was decades ago she’d had the ETC it followed her everywhere in her daily life. Ever since the ETC she had become extremely frightened and even paranoid.  
In the year 2016 I asked myself whether this type of treatment is still Ireland. According to an article in electroshock was still used in 2014 despite promises to make changes in the legislation for not consenting patients by the Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, Kathleen Lynch:

Long waiting lists

In the case of a person waiting too long to seek help for their mental health issues things can rapidly escalate. With the waiting lists long it is understandable that people become desperate and make an unfortunate choice like suicide. I have heard of stories of people being turned away from the A&E for being in the “wrong” department, while they were having a crisis. In England  Nick Clegg a British Liberal Democrats politician will announce the plans to offer patients counseling within weeks of seeing their GP in a pledge to "end the injustice" of long waits for those with mental illness. Under the targets, to be introduced in April 2016, most of those referred by doctors for “talking therapies” should start treatment within six weeks, ministers will say. The maximum waiting time will be 18 weeks – the same as for those waiting for treatment for physical problems, such as hip and knee surgery.

Six weeks on a waiting list is still six weeks too long. And this is when things go as promised it is not a guarantee. I have been on a waiting list for physio-therapy since September 2015. This week (the 23rd of February 2016) I received a letter that my appointment was scheduled for the 9th of March. This is a waiting time of five months. I suffered from sciatica as a result from a tilted pelvis. When the pain became unbearable I took measures in my own hands and booked two private sessions with a local physiotherapist. Further on I put it upon myself to see a chiropractor as the symptoms didn’t get better. I could have waited all this time to get the free treatment but I was in so much pain that it began to affect my mental health. Chronic pain can make a person depressed as well.
There are times you have to take measures in your own hands and stop waiting for help to knock on your door. When your health and sanity is at stake it is time to invest in yourself and forget about the finances. Even if you don’t have much money a few sessions with a therapist could make a big difference. In a few sessions you could already see your situation in a different perspective and it could give you the energy and stamina you need while you on a waiting list for free counseling.

In Ireland the waiting list are much longer than in Britain. For some mysterious reasons fully trained counselors and psychologist are not good enough to work with children, adolescents or adults. /

Emotional pain is worse than physical

Now you might say emotional pain is not the same as physical and I totally agree with you. Severe depression and or anxiety weighs heavier on a person’s shoulder than physical pain. When we have a broken arm other people can relate to this and they can see we have an injury. We are wearing a cast and people around us show empathy. However a mental illness is often a hidden ailment. While the level of suffering is much higher with a mental illness many people still choice not to seek help. The fear of social stigma is one of the reasons why a person might fail to visit a counselor or therapist. Somehow the fear of what others will think of them when they enter therapy. Mis-perceptions about being labelled as awkward, weak, insecure, unsociable and even mad can prevent a person from seeking treatment. Add on top of this the horror stories they have hear about mental hospitals and we have a recipe for disaster.

So what is than the difference between the two? 

Here we have arrived at the question I stated as the title of this article: what is the difference between getting treatment in a mental hospital and getting counseling in a private practice? In a psychiatric hospital a person will be medicated and is kept on a ward. The person will have little or no say in the treatment he or she receives. They will be totally in the “care” of the staff of the hospital often their rights are non- existent and overruled.
On the other hand when a person makes an appointment with a private counselor he/she will be a client and have rights. He/she will be treated as a human being and all conversation will be confidential. The client is in control, (this is the way it should be). It is the client’s choice what to disclose to the counselor/psychologist. Later during a job interview the client is not obliged to disclose he/she or has received therapy.  During counseling or psychotherapy (which is the same) you explore healthier ways of managing the issues that hunt you. This includes the feelings which are associated with them. You graduate as a matter of speech with an array of coping skills that will last you for the rest of your life. These are valuable life skills you can use in many real life situations.

Although it might seem an easy and quick fix to take anti-depressants or any other mental health drugs, it can have negative effects on a person. It could take up to two to eight weeks for a person to notice an improvement in their situation. Besides this there are always side effects. They can cause: hearth problems, Serotonin syndrome, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, depression, delusions, sexual dysfunction, involuntary muscle twitching and others.

Talking therapy is by far the least dangerous treatment a person with mental health issues can get. The thought that some is listening to him/her for the first time can already work positive. After only one session a person can already feel relieved and therefor have the strength and courage to improve their quality of life.
A therapist can help you explore healthy option of dealing with your past and current issues. They teach you coping skills that you can use in different areas of your life, even years after the therapy is finished. They have an ethical responsibility not to share your information with anyone else. If you dare to make the step you're on your way to be one day free from the ghosts that hunt you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Omega 3 and the link to depression

Extensive research indicates that Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and help prevent risk factors associated with chronic illnesses. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and are particularly important for cognitive and behavioural functions.

Symptoms of a Omega-3 deficiency are; fatigue, dry skin, heart problems, poor circulation, mood swings and or depression. It is essential to maintain a balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, as the two work together. To maintain a healthy balance one should consume 2-4 times as much Omega-6 fatty acids as Omega-3.

Depression is an complex illness and in many cases there is no psychological factor like a life stressor or genetic failure in the brain that causes the illness. In that case cognitive and or nutritional influences may result in mood swings and or depression in a person. As research continues in this area, it has become that neuro-biology, environment, life stressors, genetics and also a deficiency in nutrients may all contribute that a person feels depressed.

A number of studies have found a lower Omega-3 count in the blood of depressed people. To find out whether you have a deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids, contact your doctor and ask for a blood test. The test will determine the EFA status in the plasma and red blood cells of your blood.
When however a life stressor or past experience are causing you to feel depressed contact a counselor or psychotherapist.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What is a panic attack and what can you do when the screws come off

What is a panic attack

 Unlike an anxiety a panic attack is reasonable good to treat. You might seem surprised that I say this, but I have experienced two myself within a months time of each other. It was my mother who urged me to seek professional help at a clinic in town. I was lucky and got an appointment the same week, from then on a extremely difficult period of about a year commenced, but never again was I attacked by such a fear as in those panic attacks.

I still don't know how they actually began, but in the middle of the night I was suddenly strangled by a immense fear that seemed to come directly from the devil. I was shaking all over my body and was hot and cold at the same time. The thoughts in my head were so dark that I felt as like being in a never ending whirlpool. It must have stopped at some time, but I do not know how long this took. During an attack people can have a black out, see or hear things that aren't real (hallucinations).

Why do people get panic attacks

We all carry our memories wanted or unwanted with us in our mobile computer the brain. When there are things we rather forget or have hurt us we do our best to cover them up by applying a defense mechanism. This is working in a different way with children because their brain isn't fully developed yet. These coping skills a child learns its self are or might be useful in that particular period, but there comes a time they are outdated and have to be replaced. The transition for the replacement can be started by will, which was the case with me. I will write about this later in another post. However in most cases the transition takes place involuntarily.
Possible triggers:
  • the birth of your first child
  • a traumatic event 
  • the death of a relative or friend
  • marriage
  • moving out of the parental house
  • or any major change in your live
Your brain has being busy over the last couple of years, maybe it was a decade or perhaps it was even longer, but now a few of the screws which were dodgy from the time you had your bad experience come lose and the whole thing gets into a terrible tumult. Of course this is a metaphor. What I mean is that two parts in the brain, the Hippocampus and the Amgdala are sending each other the wrong messages.

The best thing that can be done now is to seek professional help. Unfortunately the waiting lists at the clinics and other free health centres are long and it can be too late for many people before they get the help they need. Many people chose to go to their doctor and he or she often prescribes them an anti-depressant or sends the patient through to a psychiatrist, who then medicates the person with an anti-psychotic drug.
But these medications aren't the answer. You might say they keep the hallucinations and the panic away. They might but the underlying cause is still there and the patient has to take the medication for the rest of his or her life and has many side effects, like shaking and weight gain. I have a lot more to say but I leave that for another day.

Friday, February 19, 2016

How to deal with the loss of a loved one (the stages of grief)

As we get older we all experience loss throughout our life. Death is as much a part of reality as life itself. Although live can bring us many surprises and many choices have to be made along the path of existence, there is one thing we cannot choose; the time of our death and the fact that a friend or family member once must die as well. This unfortunate faith is in the best of times hard to accept. It is not uncommon that people no matter how strong they might have been have difficulties coping with a loss. It is of great importance that after someone lost a loved one the mourner accomplice the process of grieving.

Task one: Acceptance the reality of loss.

The first task is to accept that the person has died. The person is gone and will not come back. In the beginning, just after the death it is quite normal to put a plate out for the deceased or to make a telephone call to tell the deceased some news. We need to get used to what happened. Everyone is different and need more or less time to go through this stage than others. As long as the mourner realizes that person is not longer alive anymore. It takes time to come to terms with what happened. Rituals like the funeral may help mourners to move towards acceptance.

Task two: Work through the pain of grief.

It is necessary to acknowledge and to go through the psychological pain. If this is delayed or ignored the person will manifest symptoms and behaviors, like depression, anger, psycho-somatic pains, or other. Therefore a bereaved person should not be afraid of his or her emotions in the days after the death has taken place. A perfect option to express these feelings is at the funeral and directly after one hears the bad news. At the wake or after the funeral is good to talk to the people attending, in order to console each other.

However not everyone is able to do this and has difficulties expression themselves. These are usually the people who keep busy with tending to the guests and hid themselves in the kitchen to tidy up, or sit quietly in a corner. They might think that they have to keep it together for the ‘weaker’ members of the family, like the children, but nothing is further from the truth. By denying their feelings they only prolong the process and in the long run it’s not only themselves that suffer but also the children. It is at stage two that many people get lost with a severe depression as a result. When involved in a depression it is far more difficult to work through the pain of bereavement.

Task three: Adjusting to the environment in which the deceased is missing.

Depending on the relationship the mourner had with the deceased this can be a very daunting task. Often one has to learn new skills such as dealing with the finance, learn how to cook or talking with authority figures. Other practical adjustments when losing a partner have to be made as well, like sleeping alone in a big cold bed, or cooking less food. A person might have to learn new social skills, as the lost of a partner or close friend might leave the person on its own or with little or no friends. The longer the relationship the harder this is. Therefore it might be necessary to seek help with this task. One can seek help for the practical things and do a course and one can become a member of a group in order to get support and assist each other.

Task four: To emotionally relocate the deceased and move on with life.

As the title suggest; in this task the survivor learn to give the deceased a different place in their heart. Some people say, “He still has a special place in my heart.” That is good, because there is no need to forget the person you loved, although one cannot reach or touch that person any longer and therefore room must be made for other people or for another special person. It is impossible to forget a deceased there will always be memories of this person and it is alright to think and talk about the deceased from time to time. Another thing which is good is keep a photograph of this person in the living room. It might take some time before a survivor is ready to emotionally relocate the deceased and this task should not be rushed by outsiders.

This last task can be hindered when people want to hold on to the past. For many people this is the most difficult task to accomplish, they get stuck in this task and in the past. Nevertheless there is enough place in our heart to love a new person and doing so doesn’t mean that we forget the deceased.

When is mourning finished?

The process of mourning is finished when the survivor is able to think and talk about the deceased without emotional pain. How long this will take depends on the relationship.

Calm After the Storm
by A.N. Flores

darkness fades
suns rise
skies clear
storms die

wounds heal
spirits fly
souls hope
hearts sigh

stories end
dreams die
you're gone
I survive

More poems

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Why does a woman gain weight during the menopause

Researchers are unsure why so many women gain weight during menopause. Lowered estrogen and testosterone levels may contribute to added pounds although a direct correlation has yet to be determined. Certainly fluctuating hormones cause cravings and the stress of hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia can make women turn to food for a quick pick-me-up.
Metabolic rate may be a factor in menopausal weight gain. Dr. Nanette Santoro, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, reports that “metabolic rate slows with age. This means that a woman eating the exact same number of calories a day will maintain her weight at age 20 but will gain weight at age 50.” The loss of muscle mass, which happens as we age, changes how fast your body burns calories. Genetics play a role in weight gain too

Move: Find exercise you enjoy such as walking, dancing, swimming, or just do the house keeping. Yes housekeeping can help you burn calories.
Strength Train: Exercises such as weight lifting can boost your metabolism, as well as increase muscle mass and strengthen bones. Building muscle mass is also more likely to protect against future weight gain
Choose Food Carefully: Select foods that pack a nutritious punch. Be careful of empty calories. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Watch portion size as well as mindless eating such as snacking while you watch TV.
Be Good to Yourself: Menopause is a time for treats (just not high-calorie treats). Indulge. Feed your senses. Hike in the hills. Have a cup of tea with a friend and share a scone instead of having one each.

Before the memo pause a woman goes through the perimemopause.  Do a quiz to see if you are. The perimenmopause cause start already in your thirties.