My Journey to Health, Short and Sweet

wishes-nighttime-spectaculaToday’s column will be short…and sweet.  It hasn’t been a good day and I hope to be asleep as early as possible.

Today I went into one of the worst depressive battles of my life.  It didn’t last long but it hurt a lot.

I got up at 6:30 and walked the dog.  I knew I was dropping within the hour and by 8:30 all I could do was lie on my bed and stair ahead feeling nothing much more than emotional pain that came from nowhere.

Around 9:30 my father came in the room and told me some news that I was not ready to hear.  It wasn’t bad news at all, but it was upsetting for me.  I put on a face, encouraged him, and as soon as he was gone the tears started to come.  Now I was depressed and dealing with a legitimate emotion at the same time.

The tears and pain continued throughout the day.  I contacted my small group leader and he encouraged me as best he could.  I was relieved someone knew what was happening.  Not long after I sent out a group e-mail asking for prayer and some folks got back to me quickly support doesn’t take it away but it makes it a bit easier to bear.

At 3:00 I called my psychiatrist.  By that time I could not form sentences, I was stuttering and crying at the same time.  I didn’t know what else to do and was getting ready to take myself to the hospital or find someone who could take me.  I tried to write this column but what came out of me was not worth reading.

Around four o’clock I “officially” went to bed.  If I slept there would be no pain, I had slept well the night before so I wasn’t sure I would sleep at all.  But I did.  At 6:30 the phone rang and I answered it.  It was a friend calling to see how I was.  I told him about the day, but I began to realize something was different.  I didn’t want to say anything.  I didn’t trust it.  I hung up and realized I was really me again.  Emotionally I was working well.

And so it is now.

This was a battle and a win, a new win at that.  Never had I had this type of depression lasted this short a time.  Never would this column have been written before.  The only real difference was that I reached out to many people who on my behalf prayed for me.  Believe when I tell you it was not something I could do for myself.

One more thing, something I want to reiterate every chance I get.  If you ever feel like you are going to harm yourself or others GO TO THE HOSPITAL!  I don’t want anyone who reads these columns to ever find themselves in a place where they won’t go.  I want you alive.  So do many others, even at the times you can’t believe that in any way.

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My Journey to Health, Maple, A Question and an Update

sugarmaple_treeI love maple syrup.  Not the Mrs. Butterworth pancake syrup, but real straight from the tree maple syrup.  It just tastes better than the others and there is more that you can do with it and it is better for you.  The reason I say this is because I did some shopping today at my local market and in the health food section they had a new drink, Maple Water.

There was no question I would buy this.  I didn’t want to as 12 ounces was 2.99 and that is expensive, but I found it again in the already chilled section and the compulsive part of me won.

Maple Water is the maple tree sap not boiled down for syrup.  When maple syrup is made the trees are tapped with a little spigot and the sap from the trees drips into buckets when the buckets are full they are brought to what I believe is called a sugar house.  There it is boiled down into the syrup you find in the market.  So Maple Water skips the boiling down part and is bottled and sold.  And it’s really good.

I have one small issue and that is the cost.  Since the Maple Water skips the boiling down step and goes right to market it should cost less, but it costs more.  I guess this is the American way.  However if they made the cost less I would buy more, but for now it will be an occasional treat.

In the last column I wrote about exactly what I was going through during a depressive episode.  It did pass yesterday, but unfortunately I can feel it trying to come back while I type.  It may stay where it is and it may get worse or better, I never know.

One question that was asked in the comment section below the last column was, “where was God in all of this?”  I am a Christian so I believe in God and Jesus, but to answer the question, I don’t know.  God seems to disappear when I get in to deep depression.  Mentally I know he’s is there but emotionally he is not.  I pray and ask for help but those prayers seem to bounce off the wall.  I believe, however, that this is why God has placed us in community.

Community is not your town, though it can be, it is more the place that you feel you belong.  The Amish understand community, they help each other out.  A barn needs to be built the whole town goes and builds it.  In our world though we then to have look hard for community, it does not come naturally in our culture, but it should.

I think when you are ill mentally emotionally or physically ill you have to be able to rely on the community around you to help you.  If you belong to a church, ideally this should be your community, the people you can rely on to help to get you through the hard times whatever they may be, and they can rely on you also.  Community is never a one way street; it goes back and forth from every door of the people that belong to it.

I think that is where God should be when I am in a depressive episode, it does not always work out that way, which is why, if you have read my previous columns, you will see me asking emotionally healthy people to reach out to those that are not emotionally healthy on a regular basis.  They need, OK, we need your help.  God dwells in His people and that is where God has to be when I am in a dark place.

Now for a quick update.  Yesterday was the one month anniversary of going off sugar.  Because of the multiple issues with my feet and leg I have not been able to exercise much. I never really described the feet/leg issues.  Both of my feet have no feeling in them at all on the bottom.  The tops are not as bad but are still numb.  My right leg goes completely numb when I stand for more than a half an hour.  After walking for about a half an hour both of my feet swell up, and before you ask, no I am not diabetic, and yes my sugars are checked regularly

I went to see the neurologist that has been following me yesterday.  He is working with my feet and leg as well as my hands, which have slight to violent tremors.  I am scheduled for a second EMG this coming Monday to find out what can be done about my feet and leg.  An EMG was done about a year ago but the results were not conclusive.  The tremors are treated with medication but it does not work all of the time.

While at the Doctors I was weighed.  As you may remember my weight at the beginning of this journey was somewhere between 370 and 390, yesterday I was 360.  So going sugarless has made a difference.  Physically I, in general, feel better.  My mind is certainly clearer now.  So, on the whole I am better than when we started.

The post My Journey to Health, Maple, A Question and an Update also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

My Journey To Health, Depression

depression-in-menDepression is not something you just get over.  Since being diagnosed with severe chronic depression almost 20 year ago, I have heard every possible good natured “cure” imaginable.  “You can just get over it.”  It’s just feelings.”  “Have you prayed about it”.  “Other people have it worse than you do.”  “Be a man.”  “Read your Bible more.”  The list does go on and some of them even work for a short period of time, but not for long.

First the disclaimer; I am not writing this for me.  I am not looking for attention of any kind.  It seems in my experience that people who don’t deal with severe depression really have no idea what their friends or family may be going through.  As self serving as some may think this is, my hope is, that anyone who reads this helps others with a gentler heart and a patient spirit.

Right now my own form of depression is light.  So I am going to explain to you in my own way what the worst feels like.  Imagine that all of your friends died in a car accident and your house burnt down the same day with all of your family in it, then times that feeling by ten and you will have an idea.

Severe depression incapacitates you.  I literally, at 370 pounds, get myself into the fetal position and stay there for hours.  You lay there and you hope that something will happen that someone remembers you’re alive. That someone cares that you’re alive. That somehow you will find hope, but it doesn’t come.

And it hits out of the blue from nothingness.  I can be at one end of an aisle in a store and more or less ok, and by the time I reach the other end it’s like lightning has struck.  I have to fight to keep myself together.  I have to get out as soon as possible.

Some of you may be asking “what about medications?”  There are a lot of medications out there, and most of the time a qualified doctor has to mix and mingle them and experiment with them until they find the right combination that helps you.  It is hit or miss.  I have been experimented on for almost 20 years and the right combination has not been found.  What I do know is that if I stop them things will get a lot worse.

There really is no science to anti-depressant medications.  Yes someone cooks them up in a lab and they are supposed to work.  You may have heard that anti-depressants raise the serotonin levels in your body.  The problem is that this is more theory than fact.  There is no test to check serotonin levels and therefore no way to know, for sure, what is happening.  No one taking anti-depressants get any blood work for them, this is why it is a hit or miss game.  Unfortunately in this game instead of being the player you are more like the ball,

Briefly let’s discuss side effects I can only speak on some of these from a male point of view.  Some side effects such as drowsiness or an inability to concentrate can be overcome with practice, but there are others.  For men the inability to ejaculate is a side effect of one medication, erectile dysfunction is a side effect from another.  The worst one is after you take the pill for a while your penis retracts into your skin and you can’t pull it out.  It also slows your urine down to a trickle making you wet yourself at least once a day.  These are known side effects of different medications I won’t name them as I do not want a law suit.

Medications are good if the right combination is found and the side effects are minimal. The problem is the amount of time it takes.  I had one psychiatrist, after treating me for a year, and nothing working, tell me I had better get used to what I was as there was no more he could do.  I fired him, and now am being experimented on by someone else.

Those of you reading this that do not deal with depression but have loved ones that do, what can you do?  Call them regularly, visit regularly.  Don’t tell them to call you.  When depression is really bad you have no good feelings about yourself.  You believe you are a burden on the world and you won’t ask for help.  You believe you don’t deserve it.  You believe you are not worth it.

When I am on my way down, I can ask for help, when I hit bottom I can’t.

Now this is not to say to feel sorry for the person.  Let them know you love them but do all you can to make them move.  Get them out of the house and stay on them about getting out of the house.  One friend of mine continues to do all he can to push me forward.  This friend has had to teach me how to interact with others.  He has helped show me my worth, and he said four words to me that have helped me more than anything else.  He didn’t say I love you, to be honest, I don’t really trust those words.  He said, “Mike, I’m your biggest fan.”  He then told me to go into the other room and start talking to people.  I don’t know that he even remembers the incident, but it changed me.

Rosalind Russell, one of the great ladies of the stage and screen said once that acting was “like standing up on a table with a room full of people and turning around very slowly,” Writing this today had put me up on that table and I have never moved more slowly in my life.  Be careful where you aim the tomatoes.

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Signs You’re Way Too Stressed: Nosebleeds, Vomiting and Other Weird Symptoms

Stress is unavoidable, and sadly, even stress in children is on the rise. Aside from the obvious signs of anxiety, such as headaches, muscle tension, sleep problems, irritability, etc., there are additional symptoms caused by stress that you may not even realize are linked.

Here are six weird signs you’re way too stressed out:

#1: Vomiting. According to Rodale, stress and anxiety can trigger vomiting and a condition called “cyclic vomiting syndrome,” in which people experience nausea and vomiting over an extended period of time. It often starts at the same time every day.

#2: Hair loss. There are two conditions associated with stress-induced hair loss: alopecia areata and telogen effluvium. The former is an autoimmune disorder, and the latter is linked to a stressful event.

# 3: Nosebleeds. A 2001 article in the British Medical Journal suggests that stressful events lead to spikes in blood pressure, which can trigger nosebleeds.

# 4: Memory loss. Chronic stress can expose the hippocampus, the area of the brain that controls your short-term memory, to high levels of cortisol, which can inhibit your ability to remember things. Fatigue and sleep problems are other causes of stress, and let’s face it, when you’re sleep deprived you’re usually not at your best.

# 5: Weakened immunity. If you’re constantly stressed, this one probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Stress shrinks your thymus gland, the gland that produces infection-fighting white blood cells, among other harmful effects on your immune system.

If that weren’t enough to get your stress under control, it’s important to understand that left unchecked, stress can contribute to serious health problems including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Stress kills! Get it under control with these tips!

The post Signs You’re Way Too Stressed: Nosebleeds, Vomiting and Other Weird Symptoms also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Blue Bell Voluntarily Recalls All Products Over Listeria Concern


(PCM) The Blue Bell Ice Cream company has issued a voluntary recall on all of it’s products over serious concerns of Listeria contamination. The company, based out of Brenham, Texas, is pulling all of its’ ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbert, and frozen snacks from both food service accounts and retail store shelves. The recall has been issued immediately.

In a statement a spokesperson for Blue Bell says “We’re committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe. We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers. Our entire history has been about making the very best and highest quality ice cream and we intend to fix this problem. We want enjoying our ice cream to be a source of joy and pleasure, never a cause for concern, so we are committed to getting this right.”

The company made the decision to issue the massive recall after discovering that half gallon containers of their Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream flavor tested positive for Listeria. Consumers who may have recently purchased Blue Bell products are encouraged to return them to the point of purchase where they will be issued a full refund.

The company plans to hold its’ current products in the manufacturing plant until further testing can be conducted. They will resume production on a very limited basis after they are absolutely certain that their products will be safe for consumption.

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“Spice” Sends Hundreds To New York Area Hospitals


(PCM) Experts have been warning people for quite some time about the dangers associated with the use of synthetic marijuana, otherwise known as “Spice”.  In just nine days, about 160 people have been seen at New York area hospitals having incredibly serious reactions to “spice” or “K2, also in the southern states of both Alabama and Mississippi there has been a notable rise in the number of synthetic marijuana-related hospital visits.

The New York State Health Commissioner reports to CNN that “Since the exact compounds contained in synthetic cannabinoid products change so frequently, it’s often impossible for users to know exactly what they are putting in their body.” There is often a range of symptoms that accompany reactions to using “spice” such as headaches, confusion, seizures and sometimes even loss of consciousness resulting in death.

Consumers are led to believe that “spice” is a legal plant-based material that is coated with chemicals that mimic the effect of marijuana.  Some of those so-called “safe” chemicals are the very same ones that are found in both insecticides and rat poison.

“Spice” is popular among teens because it is sold as natural product and often times marked as incense making it legal for them to purchase.

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