Nutritional Aspect of Recovery - and other recommendations
Date: August 26, 2004 11:14PM
Nutrition and Recovering Your Brain
I’m writing this information to let you know how I developed manic-depression (aka bi-polar personality disorder) and what I have learned about managing it. There are no perfect solutions yet, but the information here can lead to alternatives to the drugs available today. This information also applies to panic/anxiety attacks, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, schizophrenia and migraine headaches. It appears that they can all be caused by the same things - stress, lack of physical activity, lack of light, intense meditation, fasting and vitamin/mineral deficiencies.
Things I noticed over the years:
Sometimes when I drank coffee I would get very buzzed, sometimes caffeine seemed to have no effect on me at all.
I noticed that I felt very hungry when I took a Vitamin B complex, so I didn’t take them very often.
I noticed that I am very sensitive to drugs. I tried prescription ‘diet pills’ in high school. I felt like my heart was going to pop out of my chest. I never tried methamphetamine like my friends. I smoked marijuana quite a bit for one year in high school. The strong marijuana that is available today absolutely paralyzes me. I have tried it about once every ten years with the same result. Alcohol gives me severe hangovers but I drank alcohol regularly from age 17 to 34. I tried cocaine twice in my mid-thirties. I didn’t get high but when it wore off I felt totally desolate. It was the worst feeling I have ever felt, and the worst state of mind I have ever experienced. I have smoked since I was 20. I quit once in my early thirties, cold turkey. I gave up caffeine at the same time. For two weeks I would wake up every night, every hour and a half. I didn’t know how quitting would affect my dopamine levels and became hypo-manic - high energy - at that point. Seven months later, during a stressful period I started smoking again, and have continued to do so. I have always taken anti-histamines for hay fever. I did not know that pseudo-ephedrine, a common ingredient in these over the counter allergy drugs was used to make methamphetamine - speed. However, I did notice the appetite suppresant effect.
In my thirties I noticed that my stomach was not digesting steak well. It would sit and sit in my stomach. Since then my digestive system has worked less and less efficiently. Ten years ago I finally developed acid reflux and constipation and have been battling those ever since. I tried changing what I ate, exercising more and even used ‘Prevacid’, a prescription acid blocker for a month. Acid blockers like Prevacid, Prilosec OTC and Nexium help, but I reasoned that stomachs need hydrochloric acid to properly digest food. I didn’t realize how important that was until recently. Herbal ‘cleanse’ tablets worked for a while, but I had to take more and more and finally reached the recommended limit.
Six years ago I gave up Diet Coke because of the aspartame it contains. After about a week of not drinking it I tried some just to see what would happen. It made me dizzy. I have switched to pure mint tea at home and drink an occasional regular coke when I go out.
My Family History
Both of my parents were depressed. They were both alcoholics. My father’s alcoholism progressed and for the last few years of his life he couldn’t keep a job. He would drink to the point of passing out and he died in a head on car accident at age 44 that was his fault. My father’s father was an alcoholic and diabetic. When he drank he would just inject more insulin. He died in a diabetic coma brought on by drinking alcohol. My mother was manic-depressive. She never told us that manic-depression ran in her mother’s side of her family. My mother’s cousin told me after my mother died. My mother’s mother became a vegetarian in her fifties. When we were little my brothers and I thought she was just weird. We never asked why she became a vegetarian so I have no idea what kind of digestive disorder may have inspired her. She was a hard working woman who sold insurance after her husband died when she was 36, leaving her with five children to take care of alone. She never re-married. The vegetarian diet kept her body relatively healthy but she eventually developed Alzheimer’s disease and died at the age of 85. My mother was a working alcoholic, but very stressful events like my father’s death triggered anxiety attacks, and she was always at least mildly depressed. Looking back I can also see that she was occasionally hypo-manic and finally she had a full blown psychotic manic episode in 1985, when she was in her fifties. She continued to drink alcohol and took Lithium off and on, but she was still depressed. Over the next several years she had a pace-maker installed and had mini-strokes as a result. I eventually had to commit her to the local university hospital psych ward after she had a major stroke and became uncontrollable and a danger to herself at home after her rehabilitation. She developed cervical cancer which was treated with radiation. Two years later the cancer returned and she died of it in a nursing home.
I have been depressed all of my life. I didn’t know I was depressed. The ups and downs were not as severe as they are for some people. I have never been suicidally depressed but I understand the state of mind people are in when they commit suicide. Mostly I have been depressed but I would have periods when I was less depressed and more productive. Some years I did very well in school, usually I did the minimum to get through. After three years of college I quit. I had no ambition to use what I was studying. I decided to just work and get by. I found a business I liked and stayed with that for almost fifteen years. It was a very fast paced retail business and I liked that.
In 1987 when I quit smoking - and became hypo-manic - I became more interested in metaphysical and new age ideas. Shirley MacLaine got my attention a few years before with her book, ‘’Out On A Limb’’, and I had been interested in astrology since I was a teenager. I started reading about reincarnation and other topics. Eventually I attended a five-day ‘large group awareness training’ in 1989. It included a combination of various new age teachings and various activities like early morning meditations, firewalking, a sweat lodge, a mini vision quest in the middle of the night and a day long Ropes Course. There was not a lot of time for sleeping or eating. I was hypo-manic before I got there but I was definitely manic when I finished it. Within a few months I quit a very decent job with a company I loved. I was going to open a store of my own and sell new-agey stuff. Of course that never happened and I returned to my former employer, but in a lower position. I made my own schedule which made it possible to work on staff at future trainings once or twice a year for the next five years. I also trained and worked as a facilitator for a local Ropes Course company for two years.
I continued to work there until my step-father found out he had inoperable lung-cancer in the spring of 1993. I took care of him while he died at home, and for the next several months took care of his affairs and started cleaning out the house in order to sell it. This was no easy feat considering I was absolutely crazy. I hadn’t totally lost touch with reality but I did have some bizarre perceptions and thoughts. My mother had been in a nursing home for three years at that point. When she died in June 1994 I was still quite wiggy.
In December 1993 I attended another LGAT based around firewalking. On the last night of the training I snapped. At the end of the night I was talking with a small group of people when a voice in my head said ‘’Keep talking’’. I felt myself pulled out of the back of my head about 30 feet. I could see myself from the back. Then I popped back in. Within a few more minutes I felt a tap on the top of my head and I burst into hysterical laughter. Two mornings later I woke up feeling like I was dying. My mind was totally going. I won’t go on with details but that was the beginning of a psychotic manic episode that lasted six months. I had two more during the next seven years, and varying degrees of depression and ‘normal’ in between. I was never hospitalized but I should have been.
During this time I worked twice - once for six months, once for a year. I read a lot. During my first manic episode a man I knew said that my symptoms sounded like a ‘spontaneous Kundalini awakening’. So, I hit the bookstore and started reading about that. I read ‘’Kundalini - Psychosis or Transcendence?’’ by Lee Sannella, ‘’Living With Kundalini’’ by Gopi Krishna, ‘’The Stormy Search For Self’’ by Stanislav and Christina Grof (and others by Stan), and ‘’Energies of Transformation’’ by Bonnie Greenwell. I also read a lot of Transpersonal Psychology. Most of my physical and psychological symptoms did indeed match with other people’s experiences of a Kundalini awakening but I had no idea how to stop it. After reading personal experiences in Lee Sannella’s and Gopi Krishna’s books I decided that intense meditation was NOT a good idea. Like anti-depressant drugs it can raise serotonin levels too high, and can cause a person to become manic and spacey, or at very least have anxiety attacks. Some people develop symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The term for this phenomenon is ‘relaxation induced anxiety’.
During the same time period I started reading about manic-depression (bi-polar personality disorder) even though most of my mind didn’t believe I had it. I read Patty Duke’s book, ‘’Call Me Anna’’ and ‘’Touched With Fire’’ by Kay Jamison in which she describes the lives and experiences of the famous writers of the 1800’s. Kay Jamison suffers with manic-depression and co-wrote the text book on it. She later wrote ‘’An Unquiet Mind’’ in which she describes her own experiences, and ‘’Night Falls Fast’’, which is about suicide. She teaches at Johns-Hopkins University.
In December 1996 my second major manic episode began - on the same day as the first, December 2nd. In an instant my mind began racing with all kinds of thoughts. There was no stopping it. For the next month I had many visual hallucinations and odd perceptions. I lost track of time for the first few weeks. I never knew exactly which day it was. Again, I won’t go on with the details. It would take too long.
In 1999 I saw a bad, very expensive psychiatrist for a few visits. No other psychiatrists I tried to make appointments with were taking new patients. After starting on a low dose of Paxil I checked my blood pressure, and it had gone up. This guy didn’t know that raised blood pressure was an effect of anti-depressants. He had to look it up for proof that was acceptable to him and yes, there it was in the Physician’s Desk Reference. He also bowed at the end of my appointments. I thought that was odd and I didn’t trust him due to his lack of basic knowledge about the effects of drugs. I quit seeing him and eventually went to the county mental health department. It’s much less expensive and I do my own research on drugs I take.
In the spring of 2001, after my third manic episode (Spring 2000), when I was depressed but sane, I finally turned myself in to the county mental health agency who referred me to a resident at the local university hospital. I have taken Depakote - a mood stabilizer/tranquilizer - ever since. He also recommended anti-depressants, which I was leery of because I had already heard of the potential dangerous side-effects, not to mention that they raised my blood pressure. Over the next three years I tried Paxil, Zoloft and Wellbutrin, all at very small doses, for short periods of time. All of them raised my blood pressure. Zoloft blurred my vision and affected my speech. I would try to say something and totally different words would come out of my mouth. On Paxil, again a low dose, after several months I noticed that I was becoming VERY irritated - a common symptom of mania I quit taking it. On Wellbutrin I always felt like I was clenching my teeth. I felt the effects of all of these drugs the day I started them. My doctor said ‘Oh that must be the old ‘placebo effect’. I said no, I’m sensitive to all drugs.
During this time I read more. I found ‘’Potatoes - Not Prozac’’ a good book that explains brain chemistry and neuro-transmitters and how they work in easy to understand terms. I also listened to talk-radio. One day I heard Ann Blake-Tracey talking about the extreme side-effects some people experience on anti-depressants. She is often on national radio shows in the U.S. - like the Jeff Rense show. She has written a book, ‘’Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? - Our Serotonin Nightmare’’ and has a website - www.drugawareness.org. She talks about how SSRI anti-depresants can cause serotonin to build up to toxic levels and cause mania and psychosis. Some people end up in a sudden half awake, half asleep state of mind. They don’t know what they are doing and some end up killing themselves or others - with no warning signs, very suddenly. I know this state of mind. During my manic episodes, which are really ‘mixed states’ of mania and depression, I have ‘sleep walked’ and moved things around in my house that I found later. I once put some brochures and papers in my Yellow Pages phone book. My experiences happened without anti-depressants when I was very manic and my sleep cycle was disturbed. When I have been in this condition I also lose my sense of time, what day it is, etc. From Ann Tracey and other reading I learned that anti-depressants can flip a depressed (or even normal) person into mania and psychosis. They do this because they block the re-uptake of serotonin, which means that serotonin does not metabolize out of the brain as it would naturally. When this happens it can create an overload of serotonin which can cause hallucinations and a delusional state of mind. It is like an LSD trip. LSD raises serotonin levels to the point of causing hallucinations. Did you know that LSD was a prescription drug and that it works by raising serotonin levels? PCP and ECSTACY were also a prescription drugs at one time. That is why I always took such low doses of anti-depressants when I did take them.
The one great thing that my resident psychiatrist told me was:
‘’ A manic episode is like a long epileptic seizure. That’s why anti-convulsant drugs like Depakote are being prescribed for it.’’
Those two sentences were worth all of the money I payed to see him. Now, everytime I see the words ‘epilepsy’ and ‘seizure’ during my research I pay close attention. Now I know that a manic episode IS a long seizure. It has been very helpful information during my research for an alternative to anti-depressants drugs.
I have also learned that intense meditation and extreme experiences like Large Group Awareness Trainings where people are under psychological and emotional stress and not getting much sleep can raise serotonin and adrenaline levels to toxic levels just like anti-depressants. Raised levels of the neurotransmitter nor-adrenaline (nor-epinephrine), which is adrenaline in the brain, is involved in creating psychotic effects. Think about it. During dangerous, life-threatening emergencies adrenaline floods your body to get your body ready to fight or escape to safety. It’s the speed that our body makes naturally. But, if we don’t ACTIVELY physically fight or flee we don’t use up the adrenaline Also, some people who meditate too intensely, take anti-depressants, or are under extreme stress produce adrenaline and serotonin, and don’t metabolize it out of their bodies properly. So, bingo, they become over-stimulated, paranoid, obsessive-compulsive, delusional, manic and/or have an anxiety attack. Or, as they say, meditators develop ‘Relaxation Induced Anxiety’. These experiences create a fake emergency perception in the brain and when we don’t run or fight, or take anti-depressants that cause a build up of neuro-transmitters in the brain, the adrenaline doesn’t naturally metabolize out of the body.
Four years ago I read ‘’Depression - Cured At Last’’, by Sherry A. Rogers, M.D. . She describes the purposes of the various vitamins and minerals we need in order for our bodies and brains to function properly. More recently I started doing more research on the internet.
Here is what I have learned about vitamins and minerals recently. My stomach made me do it . . .
I have had acid reflux for the last ten years. I have tried all of the cures I could find, including the acid blocker Prevacid. I took it for two months. Then I thought, hmm, hydrochloric acid is necessary to digest food, so this may not be a good idea . . . AND it was $3.00 per pill. During my research I learned that people with acid reflux and heartburn need MORE stomach acid - not less. The reason we have food and acid backing up into our throats is that our food is not digesting. So, more stomach acid is necessary to move the food out of our stomachs and into our small intestines. Once the stomach is empty it stops producing acid until the next meal.
Earlier this year I noticed that my nephew was eating peanuts a lot. I wondered why. I starting doing research on the internet and discovered that peanuts were quite high in magnesium. One day I was researching magnesium on the internet and I found a web site that had information about the connection of magnesium deficiency to depression (www.coldcure.com) and I went on from there. Here is some of what I have learned:
Vitamin B1, thiamine, is necessary for hydrochloric acid production in the stomach.
Anti-histamines interfere with hydrochloric acid production. Most anti-histamines contain some form of ‘speed’. I have used ‘Sudafed’ for years. Sudafed stands for pseudo-ephedrine which is used to make methamphetamine - meth.
Deficiency of B vitamins can cause irritability, anxiety, fatigue, sensitivity to noise, depression and psychosis - Look up Beriberi which is B1 deficiency. One of the symptoms is psychosis.
Vitamin B6 is necessary for the production of neuro-transmitters in the brain - serotonin, dopamine, nor-epinephrine (adrenaline), and one I didn’t know much about, GABA (gamma-amino-butyric-acid). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It regulates message transfer between brain cells. There are more receptor sites for GABA in the brain than any other neuro-transmitter. When it is lacking all messages get through which can cause confusion, racing thoughts, anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, etc. The brain cannot calm itself down. It has a seizure. There are a variety of types of seizures. The brain starts sending all kinds of messages to the nervous system and body. Brain cell receptor sites for GABA are where the chemicals in tranquilizers and anti-convulsant mood stabilizers like Depakote attach. Of course the chemicals aren’t the natural GABA that the body will produce itself and the doses prescribed are very high. GABA is also involved in memory retention.
Magnesium deficiency can cause anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heart beat, heart attacks, PMS, etc. Some people are consuming too much calcium (due to the attention being given to osteoporosis lately) and not enough magnesium to balance it. Calcium and magnesium work together. Calcium helps muscles contract. Magnesium helps muscles relax. Magnesium deficiency is involved in heart attacks. Many hospitals now give magnesium intravenously to stop heart attacks. Some forms of magnesium are more absorbable by the body that others. Magnesium taurate and citrate are very absorbable in the small intestine, whereas magnesium OXIDE is not. It just makes a good laxative.
Taurine is an amino-acid that has similar inhibitory neuro-transmitter qualities as GABA. It works with magnesium.
What causes vitamin and mineral deficiencies?
DRUGS Our body uses up our vitamins and minerals to metabolize prescription and street drugs, including alcohol out of the body.
STRESS When we are stressed physically and mentally we use up all nutrients quickly. We are busy and don’t eat enough, or we eat the wrong things like too much sugar and stimulants to keep going. Sugar and stimulants wear out our adrenal glands. We go up with adrenaline and crash when it runs out. We also use up all of our neuro-transmitters and can’t replenish them because we aren’t consuming the vitamins and minerals necessary to produce them.
POOR QUALITY FOOD. Food processing destroys vitamins, but even if we eat raw food the soil it was grown in may be mineral deficient.
POOR ABSORPTION of vitamins and minerals from food. Some of us don’t absorb vitamins and minerals properly. Due to genetic factors (northern European) we may not produce the enzyme or enzymes necessary for absorption to occur. There is now a test available that determines whether a person can metabolize SSRI anti-depressants properly. People who ‘wig out’ on anti-depressants may be missing this enzyme. Also, our digestive systems are out of balance due to use of anti-biotics, the presence of Candida yeast, etc. Use of anti-biotics kills good bacteria as well as bad. If we don’t have the good bacteria (acidophilus, bifidus) necessary to digest food the nutrients never get through the walls of our small intestine to our blood stream. Candida, a yeast, loves sugar. If we eat a lot of sugar and feed the Candida it coats the walls of the intestines preventing absorption and uses the sugar so it doesn’t get into the blood stream either. All of this equals low energy. I recently learned that bifidus bacteria (a good one) actually produces B vitamins in the intestines. So, if you have killed off the good bacteria with antibiotics you have killed off a source of vitamin Bs.
HYPOGLYCEMIA (low blood sugar) is very involved in mood disorders:
Hypoglycemia occurs this way: Food is eaten. The pancreas produces insulin to metabolize the food - either use it immediately or store it in fat cells. A few hours after a meal so much blood sugar can be metabolized by the insulin that blood sugar drops too low. Adrenaline (aka nor-epinephrine and nor-adrenaline) is released into the blood stream to raise blood sugar to a safe level. Unfortunately when adrenaline is released the body and brain naturally take it as an ‘emergency’ message and anxiety and mania can result, especially when the brain’s neuro-transmitters are already depleted and unbalanced. The message to the brain should be interpretted as: find some good food. But, the message can be mis-interpreted. It can cause irritation, slight paranoia (so and so at work is out to get me) muscle weakness, dizziness, heart palpitations, compulsive behavior, etc. The whole body and brain are confused about whether it is in real danger or not. For people like me who are very sensitive to adrenaline, or produce too much for our brains to metabolize, the adrenaline causes mania or anxiety attacks.
UP-REGULATION and DOWN-REGULATION OF NEUROTRANSMITTERS
Up-regulation refers to when brain cells open up more receptor sites to receive a neuro-transmitter chemical. Down-regulation is the opposite - receptors close down. Brain cells will open more receptors when less of a neuro-transmitter is produced by the body for whatever reason. Depressed people may have many wide open receptors to try to catch the small amount of neurotransmitters they are producing when they are depressed. When they take a drug - street drug or prescription - they have a bigger reaction than other people. As they continue to take the drug their brain cell receptors start to shut down in order to balance out, which is the brain’s goal. It doesn’t want to be ‘high’ all of the time. But the addict, who is trying to suppress natural emotions thinks he or she DOES want to be high and not deal with reality and so must take more of the drug to create the same ‘high’ because receptor sites have shut down. This is called down-regulation. I believe that this is why some people have side-effects of anti-depressants and tranquilizers that disappear after they have taken the drug for a while. Their bodies adjust by down-regulation of receptor sites.
However, there is a phenomenon known as ‘Prozac Poop Out’, which occurs when a person takes an anti-depressant for years and suddenly it stops working. I believe this happens because the person’s brain gets worn out by all of the serotonin floating around between brain cell synapses, and most, if not all of their receptor sites have shut down. SSRI anti-depressants stop the re-uptake of serotonin that would naturally be processed out of the brain. So, after years of being flooded with serotonin the brain cells have shut down so many receptors that no amount of an SSRI will work. There just aren’t any receptors left open to use the serotonin. Wellbutrin - bupropion - could do the same to nor-epinephrine (adrenaline) receptors.
Other factors are involved in up and down regulation. What you are eating, how much sleep you are getting, how much exercise and sudden stressful events. Even when a person is taking a mood-stabilizer, a rush of adrenaline can cause a manic response. This happened to me last fall. After a very stressful situation around Thanksgiving I started sliding into a manic state. I found it hard to get to sleep and I woke up very early in the morning, which was very unusual for me. I started taking more Depakote which kept my from becoming psychotic but I was still hypo-manic (and tranquilized) for a month. Eventually the adrenaline rush wore off and I was back to forcing myself to do any activity. If I would have been on an anti-depressant I think I would have had a much more severe manic reaction to the stressful event. I’m glad I had stopped taking Paxil months before and stuck with the Depakote.
So, however we end up with our mental ‘illnesses’ - confusion, brain fog, anxiety attacks, depression, mania, obsessive-compulsive disorder - what can we do about it?
Take vitamin and mineral supplements - more than just a daily vitamin/mineral tablet. The usual daily pills may have vitamins and minerals in forms that aren’t very absorbable, like magnesium oxide. Keep amounts of B vitamins balanced. They all work together. Mega doses are not usually necessary. Magnesium, unlike B vitamins is not water-soluble. It can build up in body tissues. Don’t mega dose. Do research.
Exercise - Don’t be extreme. Magnesium is releasing in sweat and you could become depleted - again. Walk, not too fast, just steady. I do 2 miles in about 45 minutes. Outdoors is best for me. I Iook UP at the sky and scenery to balance the time I spend looking down at my computer screen. Natural light is important. It helps maintain natural melatonin levels which keeps your sleep cycle stable. Intense exercise can also raise adrenaline and serotonin levels too high. Do it long and hard enough and your adrenal glands will crash.
Sleep - get at least 7 hours a night. Keep a regular schedule. Don’t take night jobs or stay out late partying. Let other people work or party themselves into insanity. Also, spend as little time on your computer as possible. If you must use a computer make sure that the room is very well lit. Again, do not disturb your sleep cycle, which can result in mania or anxiety attacks. And definitely don’t stay up all night on a computer. Why fry your brain?
Reduce as much chaos (stress) in your life as possible. Get rid of ‘toxic people’ who’s lives are always a mess, even family members, or learn how to change your relationship with them. If you find yourself always trying to solve other people’s problems and never your own, take another look. You probably aren’t really solving theirs and you are most likely avoiding your own. You are maintaining a stress level that your body can’t handle forever. You are volunteering for your own suffering. Go to a twelve-step meeting and read about co-dependent behavior. Do some research on dysfunctional families. If you can afford it get some psycho-therapy.
Eat the least processed food possible. It’s not convenient. It takes time to actually cook but, it’s good for you. Eat some vegetables. If you are like me eat meat. I learned from a woman I met once that even at vegetarian ashrams when someone gets too spacey (crazy) they have them eat meat. What does that tell you?
Stay away from all forms of stimulants. Give your adrenal glands a break. No caffeine. No St. John’s Wort. No chocolate. No over the counter or prescription anti-histamines. No ephedra. No Ma-Huang. If you take some new wonder substance and you feel unusually perky, research it. It probably contains some type of speedy herb. I found this with Amazon Herb Company’s products.
Get used to having emotions. The purpose of addictions is to suppress emotions and avoid reality. All kinds of destructive behavior results. There are two types of addiction - process addictions and substance addictions. Process addictions include work, watching TV, sports, sex, reading, music, computing, any game, talking incessantly to other people, gambling - anything to distract your attention from problems which cause a ‘negative’ emotion - fear, anger, sadness. Crying (sadness) has a healthy purpose. It relieves stress and releases chemicals through your tear ducts. Anger has a healthy purpose. It lets you know that something is ‘wrong’ or harmful to you and gets you ready to take action to ‘fight back’ or solve the situation. The healthy purpose of fear is to make you pay attention. For instance, when you come upon a snake or other dangerous animal or situation, adrenaline is released to gear you up to take action to protect yourself. If we suppress these emotions we leave ourselves in a very dangerous state. We can’t behave appropriately in any situation, and we leave ourselves unprotected. In our unaware state of mind we can’t think properly or make good decisions. Just picture a deer grazing in the forest, high on LSD or drunk, and a mountain lion stops by. Do you think the deer has much of a chance to escape and live to munch another day? No, but at least he might have a good laugh while the mountain lion munches on his leg . . .
People who are addicted - most of us, in one way or another - have reached a very precarious point in human history. Life for us has become so easy that we no longer have to fight or work hard physically to survive. Technology has made us very weak and we have more distractions every day. We lose focus on what we really want and need. TV, computers, video games, books, music - everything is more available. We don’t often ask ourselves, ‘’Do I really NEED this?’’
Advertising is everywhere. We’re lost in a forest of opportunities and possibilities, too tired, stressed, physically ill and addicted to think clearly. We’re like wounded or starving animals - relatively helpless and vulnerable. So, we buy anything and everything that looks quick and easy - convenient - without being aware of the consequences. Result: drug addiction, health problems caused by the wonder drugs, over-spending on things we don’t need, bankruptcy of all kinds. We end up alone with our addictive substance or activity, even when there are other people in the house. Relating to real people becomes unimportant. Picture a teenager in his or her bedroom. Lots of possibilities for distraction there. Computer. CD player. TV. Video game. Books. Nothing involving other people. But at least they aren’t out getting into ‘trouble’ with other kids . . . No, they are home becoming depressed addicts. They can move on to alcohol and other drugs later, at college or with their co-workers, if they haven’t already when they are younger. If that doesn’t work, they can join a cult or go to a human potential seminar and get hooked on that. Meanwhile, their parents are busy with their own addictions - alcohol, prescription drugs, work, friends, church activities, seminars, etc. Who has time to spend with those kids and actually teach them anything? Their friends - if they have any left.
The lifestyle and management style of today is crisis management. Families rarely interact except when there is a crisis. Joey gets drunk and is arrested for drunk driving. Joey over-doses on his anti-depressants or Ritalin (speed), Kim gets black-out drunk and is raped at a party . . . The family focuses on the ‘’problem child’’, tries to solve the problem as well as they can, and all get back to their routine - various addictions. Soon another crisis will arise, another solution will be proposed, but the real problem never is solved. Nobody is able or willing to take enough time or attention to get to the root of the problem. They are just too busy surviving and working. Eventually even surviving becomes impossible and a child or parent dies. This crisis is harder to solve. Nobody has time to grieve properly. There is no time. But the process of grief will happen. It will take a lifetime.
Of course we can’t lock ourselves in a cave and be hermits. Everything can become an addiction, but we can avoid or minimize addictions and their disastrous consequences by turning all of the possibilities available to our advantage - and become more aware. What I learned in high school (that I remember and have used) was typing, basic accounting and in an English class I read ‘’Future Shock’’ by Alvin Tofler. He talked about the rapid acceleration of change in society and how that fragments almost all of our experiences. We can’t stop the acceleration, but we can slow down the negative affects of it by taking control of our lives as much as possible. We can cut down unnecessary and excessive activities, select which information we allow to come into our everyday lives. We can choose which shows to watch on TV, which calls to take on the telephone, how much time we spend chatting with friends, and decide how useful it is, choose which products to buy, etc. We can ask ourselves what the motives are of people who are trying to ‘’sell’’ us things and ideas, and what are our motives for buying. Do you really need that thing or idea? Or, are you ‘’buying it’’ because an ‘’expert’’ says it’s the best? Are they playing on your sympathy? Are you buying it to be ‘’nice’’ and ‘’helpful’’ to them whether it helps you or not? Start listening to radio and TV ads. Listen to what they are saying. Listen to the words they use. For instance, I recently noticed an insurance ad on the radio. It started with an outright command. ‘’Re-think your insurance plan . . . .’’, and ended with, ‘’You don’t have to re-think State Farm.’’ How’s that for telling you what to think - and therefore BUY?
Limiting and filtering out the ‘’noise’’ of constant advertising and selling is like installing a firewall or pop-up blocker on your computer. Caller ID on the old telephone is highly useful. The ‘’National Do Not Call List’’ has been my version of heaven. It all started with the answering ‘’machine’’. Use TV shows and movies as learning experiences instead of veg-out experiences. Try to stay out of alpha brainwave states. Sit up straight. Practice paying full attention. Pretend you are in school. Take notes.
I was talking with my brother the other day. We were discussing language. I asked him if he had noticed that the word ‘’feel’’ has replaced the word ‘’think’’ in spoken English over the last few decades. On radio, TV, everywhere, people say, ‘’How do you FEEL about that?’’, instead of, ‘’What do you THINK about that?’’, or ‘’That was my feeling.’’, instead of ‘’That’s what I thought.’’. Language is very involved in shaping the way we think. Watch an interview on TV and watch for this switch. People will very rarely say ‘think’. Now the word is ‘feel’, and everybody wants to feel good - all the time. Which brings us back to addictions and getting out of the maze that they create.
Getting out of addictive behavior patterns is not easy, but you can do it, one addiction at a time. You don’t have to be extreme about it. It’s like cleaning clutter out of your house. Start anywhere. Pick up some clutter and ask yourself where it really belongs. Garbage can? Recycle can? Storage - if you really need it. Charity pile? Actually cleaning and sorting are a good way to practice critical thinking. You can get more and more ruthless with yourself as you practice getting rid of things. Then you can use the experience to start questioning which situations and destructive relationships you really need to get rid of or change. Then you’ll have even more control over your own life and the energy and brain power to handle situations that you can’t control or change.
Here are some of the web sites where I gathered information about vitamins and minerals:
www.coldcure.com - see section ‘magnesium and depression’
www.mhsource.com - Type 3 bi-polar disorder
www.prozactruth.com - about genetic testing for enzyme necessary for anti-depressant metabolism
I hope this is useful to you all.