Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Shade Tree Choir: You'll Never Amount to a Damn

The Shade Tree Choir: You'll Never Amount to a Damn: "I struggled for air and could only whimper for him to stop hurting me. I could feel my ribs being crushed against the floor by his wei...

You'll Never Amount to a Damn

"I struggled for air and could only whimper for him to stop hurting me. I could feel my ribs being crushed against the floor by his weight on my upper back. The shearing force of his hand stung my wrist as he pulled my arm behind my back and sharply upwards. I thought he was going to break it off. The shag carpet ground against my face like sandpaper and I could feel my skin tearing. My nose twisted into the fibers. I could barely breathe through the burning sensation of pain. I gagged at the smell of tattered carpet, at the stench of a decade's worth of dog waste and urine. As I struggled weakly against his grip, I choked on the odor of unwashed feet, mud, grime and ground-in food. The sickly scent of bourbon and beer came back to life as my tears flowed into the carpet beneath me.

Why was my dad doing this to awful thing to me?

I was eight years old."

The Shade Tree Choir by David Nelson

Child abuse comes in many forms. It can be further complicated by alcoholism and mental illness. I am a survivor of all of these experiences. My parents were alcoholics, my mother suffered from severe depression and I was verbally ripped apart with stinging negative comments, physically abuse and emotionally torn apart as a child. The abuse began at age eight and finally ended at age seventeen. I spent my entire childhood each day focusing on survival. I too developed a lifetime of depression and anxiety. Only recently I was diagnosed with PTSD. I am a survivor. And a successful one at that.

My follow-up books PALS: Part One and PALS: Part Two describe the benefits of having an inner circle of friends (Pals) that I had growing up. They tell the funny and at times, the dark side of coping with child abuse. I used laughter as a survival mechanism. Along the way I learned skills of shutting down emotionally and physically. I learned to scream and yell while being beaten - but on the inside I was thinking of far off places or other events. I could take the pain. I learned not to trust people of authority, I understood abandonment and how life can be lonely even for an eight year old boy or a sixty-four year old man. It was my friends who gave me sanctuary and safety with their acceptance and understanding. The six of us are still friends after fifty years.

Children have an uncanny ability to cope and survive. If you have experienced abuse, you understand what I write. If you are not a member of this community and have never been abused, you may wonder how the hell any child could live through this. My books will teach you this and so much more.

I was told by my parents, from as far back as I can remember, "You are a no-good, dirty son-of-a-bitch and will never amount to a damn."

I showed them. It was all because of a promise I made to myself at age eight. My nose was pressed to the dirty screen that hot summer night after another beating. The welts continued to rise on my back, my butt and my legs. The sting of pain was still hot to my senses. It was that night I promised myself someday I would get away, I would never be beaten again, I would never be hungry and I would become successful. That promise has been my mantra my entire life.

I have been a successful physical therapist, author, public speaker and entertainer. I never looked back once I escaped. I refused to be swallowed by self-pity and darkened memories of my past. I took the negatives and turned them into a positive life experiences where i help others by example. It was my promise and my spirit that took me away. All with the help from my pals.

"One should...be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise." F. Scott Fitzgerald from "The Crack-Up."

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Shade Tree Choir: Why Some Child Abuse Survivors Are Perfectionists?...

The Shade Tree Choir: Why Some Child Abuse Survivors Are Perfectionists?...: Why we can never fail Up again at 3 A.M., I wonder why I am reviewing the text of my upcoming book, "PALS: Part Two," for ano...

Why Some Child Abuse Survivors Are Perfectionists?

Why we can never fail

Up again at 3 A.M., I wonder why I am reviewing the text of my upcoming book, "PALS: Part Two," for another time. I suppose I want it to be right, to be correct and to be perfect. Like so many things in my life I have always wanted everything to be perfect. That, my friend is one of the curses and leftover baggage from years of child physical, mental and emotional abuse. And yet, it's the dicotomy of the complex issue of child abuse that has made me succeed.

My entire adult life has been spent trying to "un-ring" those words heard by a child so long ago. They are as crisp to me today at age sixty four as the church bells peeling in our neighborhood when I was a child. "You are a no good dirty son-of-a-bitch and will never amount to a damn," was shouted at me thousands of times as a young boy and as a teenager.

Coming from someone who was supposed to protect and love me, I began to believe it. He was the authority. He was the one who knew much more than a little boy age eight. After all, my father could not be wrong. His words were cemented in my psyche when my mother reinforced them. And to further emphasize his point, he screamed the same to me when I was whipped with a belt, punched with a fist or kicked with a steel-toed work boot. Beatings were a regular occurrence for me. My mother sat and watched my beatings with no expression while drinking her beer. Both my parents were alcoholics. I have spent the rest of my life attempting to prove them wrong.

In my professional career I was a success. During my forty years as a physical therapist I was recognized by my peers, praised by superiors and respected by my patients. I was a success  with  every therapy practice where I was in control and in charge. The reason for my professional success - I was a workaholic. I was the Administrator of an out-patient clinic for nineteen years. I spent no fewer than twelve to  fifteen hours a day at work. I wore the badge of what I refer to as "business martyrdom" - the workaholic - with pride. In other work settings I spent countless hours awake trying to reach perfectionism the next day. While others enjoyed REM sleep I was scratching away with pen and paper - either imagined or real.

In my books "PALS Parts One and Two" you will experience the defense mechanisms I built for survival. You will learn the value of true friends who were at their best for me when I was at my worst. You will laugh with others in my past - because when you laugh, I feel better.

I felt I needed to work those long hours so my business would be successful. I was compelled to lie awake to theorize, hypothesize and rationalize ways to be the perfect physical therapist. I could never allow the "dog of defeat" nip my Achilles. Like many of us survivors, I tied my identity to my job. If the business was not successful - then neither was I. That was my core belief. That was my mantra. That was wrong.

There is no such thing as being perfect. I understand that on an intellectual level. I also understand the neural pathways in my brain are finely honed to believe I am worthless. It's my spirit that will not allow me to accept what my brain perceives as truth. And so I keep fighting. I keep pushing myself mentally and physically. Oh, I long for the day when I can use the eraser on the great pencil of life and realize it's OK to make mistakes, to error and then wipe them away and start again.

My anxiety level spiked as a kid when I heard those awful words from my mother, "Just wait 'till your dad gets home. He'll give you the beating of your life, you piece of shit." That same anxious feeling stirs inside when I'm in the middle of a project and I fear it might not be perfect.

Follow the growth of Krame, the main character in my novel, "The Shade Tree Choir". It is a story of a boy who overcomes abuse to become a success - at least in the eyes of others. It is my story. Krame will allow you to feel the burning of a belt, the slashing of a wicked tongue and the despair of being locked away in the dark for almost a full day. Through Krame's eyes you will see how the goal of perfectionism sets in and drives him to escape the brutality. He succeeds in getting away. But, does he really?

Mark Twain once said, "Everyone is a moon and has a dark side, which he never shows to anyone."

You will see the dark side of my moon in "The Shade Tree Choir", "PALS: Part One" and "PALS: Part Two." I hope you enjoy the ride. In the meantime, I need to return to my final edit of my book. Hopefully the last.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Shade Tree Choir: Life Beyond Abuse

The Shade Tree Choir: Life Beyond Abuse: "Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining" I struggled for air and could only whimper for him to stop hurting me. I could feel my ribs...

Life Beyond Abuse

"Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining"

I struggled for air and could only whimper for him to stop hurting me. I could feel my ribs being crushed against the floor by his weight on my upper back. The shearing force of his hand stung my wrist as he pulled my arm behind my back and sharply upwards. I thought he was going to break it off. The shag carpet ground against my face like sandpaper and I could feel the skin tearing. My nose twisted into the fibers. I could barely breathe through the burning sensation of pain. I gagged at the smell of the filthy tattered carpet, at the stench of a decade's worth of dog waste and urine. As I struggled weakly against his grip. I choked on the odor of unwashed feet, mud, grime and ground-in food. Yhe sickly scent of bourbon and beer came back to life as my tears flowed into the carpet beneath me.

Why was my dad doing this awful thing to me?

I was eight years old.


The Shade Tree Choir by David Nelson


Abuse of children takes many forms. Some of them include physical, sexual, emotional and verbal. I experienced physical, emotional and verbal abuse my entire childhood until I finally managed to discover a way out of my house. My book, The Shade Tree Choir details that story. I hear and see the word victim quite a bit when referencing abuse. I don't much care for that term as it refers to being in a passive situation. We were victims at one time. But hopefully, none of us are now. That's why I prefer the usage of "experienced abuse" rather than victim while referring to our present state.

I am not now being abused. I'm in control of my life and my destiny. So why would I want to say I'm still a victim. It was what it was and it is what it is. I look at all that stuff and say to myself, "Get over it. Move on. Accept what happened because it can't be changed. Learn from it. Ah ha, "learn from it." Therein lies the answer for me.


I have long forgiven those who hurt me. I try everyday to take those experiences and grow from them. I now write books about my experiences and my growth. I earn money from those experiences. Long ago I moved on. Therein lies the silver lining for me. I took a negative and turned it into a positive. What a shame it would be if I used all my energy re-living the past and trying to change it. 


Our experiences - both good and bad - shape who we are and what we feel. I look at those experiences like mosaic tiles. Each of us has a mosaic pattern and all those patterns are beautiful. All of "us" are beautiful, one-of-a-kind and that is what we should dwell on. I try to be thankful for what I have and not bitter about what I missed. I ask those who have experienced abuse the following question. Do you think you can find happiness and inner peace while dragging around the past like a chair hooked to your leg? I doubt it.


I realize the neurological consequences of years of abuse. Each negative event has laid down a neuropathway in our brains that is just waiting to rear its ugly head. That's when we react with night sweats, sleepless nights, panic attacks, suicidial ideations, and so on. I have found the more I think about and dwell on those events, the closer to the surface lies what could be an awful reaction. I'm suppressing the past. That is my survival tool. We each have to do what works.

We can theorize, analyze,and hypothesize our past all the way to our old age. Or we can get on with living. I love life and what it has to offer. I have had many of the same issues as others who experienced abuse. Some include fear of abandonment, lack of trust and low self esteem. I now focus on the present. The here and now. I embrace my past because that is what makes me special.


Consequently, I've worked hard over the years to prove to myself I would amount to something. I'm a caring person, a great listener and excellent communicator. I counter-act the verbal abuse by focusing on "proving my parents wrong."


My latest books, PALS:Part One and Two deal with the resilience of children who experience abuse. The inner strength of the child and with support from friends, the abused boy turns into a successful man - despite the past. It is my story. I still experience depression and anxiety and have to work daily to fight away the beasts. But by focusing on the positive I find myself centered.


I wish all who experienced abuse nothing but a calm and peaceful heart. May you find your inner peace. may you no longer be a victim, but an "experienced" adult. May you find your silver lining.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Shade Tree Choir: The Stress of Caring for Elderly Parents

The Shade Tree Choir: The Stress of Caring for Elderly Parents: "The strain you feel may not be your own" Ask any Baby Boomer who is caring for, or has cared for an elderly parent and they ...

The Stress of Caring for Elderly Parents

"The strain you feel may not be your own"

Ask any Baby Boomer who is caring for, or has cared for an elderly parent and they probably will all agree that it's a stressful time. Stress by one definition is change. When we care for our elderly parents there are countless changes and decisions that are experienced almost daily. These stressors can fracture some relationships among siblings and even between parent and child.


I am a retired physical therapist with some forty years experience. I have worked with the elderly in nursing homes, hospitals, home health and in out-patient centers. We are currently going through this very situation in our family - and that's why I decided to write about it. Today's Blog is a combination of my family and my years as a therapist treating the elderly.


When the dust settles after an incident with the parent - say a fall at home, then the conversations begin about what to do next. The average family doesn't have a clue where to turn for answers. Always look to your social service departments at facilities for community resources and guidance. Most physicians are too busy. In our family I am used a resource. I can't imagine what would happen otherwise.

There are  many concerns and decisions that have to be made almost daily, in what seems like a rush. These include: staying at home or going to a nursing home or assisted living facility; Receiving home health or out-patient services; How will the well-parent cope with new responsibilities is high on the list of stress; Will one single child be responsible for decision making, or will it be a group of children.


Other concerns are for the "well parent" and his or her health having to care for the injured /sick spouse. Concerns here are a severe loss of sleep by the spouse worrying if the other may fall again in the night, will there be enough money for the financial drain that is about to occur, will they need to sell their house / downsize / move to an apartment in a large facility, will they lose their friends and will there be a loss of independence by having to stay in the home 24/7 attending to the needs of their spouse. Then what happens if the well-parent becomes ill?

Let's use the model of a patient being able to stay at home. Someone needs to decide if there are funds for a move to an apartment at a large facility that might have assisted living or nursing home connected to it. So the parents make the move. They now live in a space half the size of their previous home. 


Identity items that belonged to the injured or sick person are sold. The thought being, he or she will never use them again. Their vehicle is sold because he/she will never drive again. How would you feel to watch all your hobby tools and your vehicle sold while you sit in a chair? Now imagine you are 85 years old. Selling items tied to a person's identity should be one of the last acts that is done and should occur out of sight of the sick parent. This affects their mental and physical health. I've seen situations where the patient felt, "Well, I guess it's time to die."


Deciding who to hire for in-home care is a huge stress. If you are fortunate to have insurance, the company may have a list of certified agencies they use. Someone then has to interview the companies and decide who will be hired. I've seen families look for a shortcut in home sitters or caregivers that can be financially destructive on the estate of the parents. They hire a nice person from church, a cousin of a neighbor, a real nice lady at the gas station. They do this to save money. In healthcare we have a saying, "Pay me now or pay me later". YOU are responsible for any medical costs from an injury that occur to the person you hired off the street! I have heard it so many times, "Oh, they're so nice. They won't sue." Guess again. Your family will pay all medical bills related to the incident for as long as the person lives. Lawyers love this deal.

Always hire a licensed agency. One of the reasons it's expensive is the workers compensation they carry on their employees. When going into a nursing home or assisted living facility ask to see the latest Federal Inspection Report. The summary is required by law to be visible and posted. Research at the courthouse what pending law suits there might be against the company or ones they had in the past. This is all public record and the county staff has to assist you.

If staying at home ask for an Occupation Therapy Home Assessment. Occupational Therapists are trained in teaching and helping patients with activities of daily living. They can assist with teaching showers, shaving, dressing, bed mobility and the list goes on and on. They are also trained to evaluate your home to see if there are any hidden hazards that might lead to another fall.

Ask for home physical therapy. You will receive only a few visits for about thirty minutes each, but the therapist can train any family members who ask. DO NOT be passive. All care in the home requires the help of all children and grandchildren. 


Schedules should be set so that one child is NOT responsible for the entire care process. He / she will burnout. Even teenage grandchildren can help. Go to grandma's and sit with grandpa while she gets out of the house and gets a break from all the stress. If there's any dementia, even little kids can help. have the sick / injured parent color, do crosswords or play board games like checkers. Stimulate the environment.


Other children can help with the dementia issue by taking the sick parent out for a ride. Go sit by a river, buy an ice cream cone, go to a park - do things the person no longer is capable of doing. Separate the parents. Give the well parent a break.

Having worked in many nursing homes I would NOT recommend that avenue unless it's a last resort. The places are typically understaffed and cursory care is the rule for the day. There have been reported abuse situations in some of these places - both physical and sexual. That's why I mentioned to check your local courthouse. 


I know of one assisted living facility where the patient was a deaf 96 year old with macular degeneration and was nearly blind. Her daughter placed a fifty-dollar bill folded over several times and hidden inside a secret pocket in her mother's mink coat. Her mother just wanted to know she had some money for an emergency. The coat was inside a carrier bag in the closet. Someone on the staff stole that and a few pieces of jewelry. It was blatant pilfering.

One of my friends had a home health company coming to the home to help his mother. There were little things that disappeared over time. The family began to take note. Someone even stole his high school graduation picture off the dresser. I guess they liked the frame.


I recommend that if you have strangers in your home, Remove Valuables and Don't leave money out in the open. Thievery is health care is more common than we would like to think.

We all will die. We may all be where our parents are now - elderly. Give them support, give them respect, give them dignity and give them love.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Stress Management

Sleeping It Off

If you have ever said any of the following statements you are under Stress!

"I am so mad, I can't see straight!"

" That's the straw that broke the camel's back!"

"If one more thing happens, I will scream!" 


I am a retired physical therapist with some forty years experience. I wrote a book on this subject, called Stress Management, Does Antone in Chicago Know About It? I traveled and spoke on this subject for several years. Many people I encountered as patients and those in my seminars, did not have a clue they were under stress. Stress can maim and if left untreated, it can kill! For anyone suffering from depression, severe stress can take a deadly toll. Depressed people who are under a constant stressor can commit suicide.


There is a huge difference between depression and being depressed. All of us feel depressed at times and get over it. Depression is a form of mental illness that has been called the 'common cold of psychiatry'. I disagree with this statement because I have suffered from depression most of my life. If you read my novel, The Shade Tree Choir, you will learn the specific origins to my depression. It originates from physical and emotional abuse I suffered as a child from alcoholic parents and mentally ill mother.


In no way should we look at depression as a minor event. I compare a constant stress placed on a person with depression to a pressure cooker - not unlike what the two criminals used at the Boston Marathon. If that stress is not treated severe results may occur.

For nearly seven years, my wife and I were drug through the civil court system here in America, costing us tens of thousands of dollars to defend. We were sued by a couple who were after money! They stalled us for years hoping we would cave. We sold a house to them and they accused us of lying about some of the home conditions. They offered to stop the suit for money. In the seven years they lived in our area, they were involved with four other law suits (as near as I can remember). The night prior to the case to be heard by the judge, they dropped the suit! The damage had been done.

The stress from this, coupled with new a new job where the employer demanded unrealistic duties, was too much for me. My 'pressure cooker' exploded. If it were not for a painful shoulder, I might have succeeded in hanging myself! I was not able to secure the rope overhead. If I had been successful with this selfish act, I would not be sharing this with you! My message is tell those of you with depression, there is hope! There is a light at the end of a tunnel! To those of you who suffer from being depression at times, I hope to educate you on the causes and effects of stress.

People who suffer from depression are in good company. Some well-known people include Mark Twain, Dan Rather (newsman), Winston Churchill, and many others. Simply 'Google' the subject and you will be amazed. Depression is part of a neural pathway in the brain. Every experience in life establishes a neural pathway. The more often it is performed, the deeper the pathway. If someone like me, has depression for years the pathway is what we call 'hot'. That means it does not take much of a stressor to fire it off and become full blown. That is what happened to me during that lawsuit.

The effects from stress can lead to: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, circulatory dysfunctions, joint pain, digestive difficulties, cardiac problems, and endocrine problems like Type II diabetes. That is why stress management is so very important. Mark Twain once said, "Every person is like the moon and does not want to show his dark side."

Here are some easy and effective stress management techniques:

* Perform deep breathing exercises

* Learn to say, "No".

* Exercise daily

* Pull in to heal

* Sleep deprivation is harmful to our health

* Meditation, Yoga, and Tai Chi are great routines to combat stress

* Following a 'Treasure Map' can be a helpful tool

* Diet has a direct bearing on stress

* There are many medications that can help control depression and the stressors that contribute to it.

I purposely have not explained any of the techniques above. I want this Blog to be active, where the followers can dictate what they want me to write. Consequently, I shall wait until I hear from you. You can remain totally anonymous in the 'Comment Section' when you post. Tell me the subject you want to learn. It's that easy!

Be safe, Be well, and Love Life!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Giving to Others is Also Giving to Yourself

Helping Others Can Reduce Stress and Depression

I have suffered from Depression and high Anxiety nearly all my life. Both of my parents were alcoholics and my mother was mentally ill. She suffered from periodic and debilitating bouts of depression. Living under the stress of daily verbal and physical abuse can take its toll. Neurological pathways are laid down in the brain where it seems 'normal' to be under stress. If a person is under a stressful state for years, certain diseases can occur. These might include insomnia, personality disorders such as depression and even PTSD, diabetes, and high cholesterol.


My novel, The Shade Tree Choir, is a true account of a child living with starvation, beatings, punched throughout the body, standing at attention for many hours, and being locked in a darken closet for eighteen hours with no water and no restroom. My abuse started at age eight and ended at age seventeen. It can be found at my website and you can also watch a two minute video on the top of this Blog. That video will give you a 'feel' for my book. 


One activity I learned early on in Life, was I found it calming and rewarding to help others. I was not certain, but there was a warmth when I did something nice for others. As I grew into an adult, I was fortunate enough to go to graduate school and become a physical therapist. I retired last year after some forty years in the field. Little did I know that when I was a young I would help others physically and emotionally. And they would help me.


I loved being a physical therapist. My didactic training and personal experiences taught me something to help overcome my personal illness. Any time we do an activity the brain records that event and is called a neurological pathway. The more we experience something, the stronger the pathway becomes. Negative pathways from my past will always be with me. So will the positive pathways. All of these have made me who I am. Each piece of mosaic event creates a beautiful piece of art. That artwork is US! We are all a collection of our pathways. In addition to my book, another great source of reading is Understanding The Fall by Susan McMartin. Her book is about a little girl growing up with an alcoholic mother. Both Susan's book and mine are stories about HOPE!


I say to you embrace yourself! Don't blame others for any of your negative characteristics. We all have them. Mark Twain once said, "Each of us is like a moon. We have a dark side that nobody sees." 


I believe that the more we give to others, the more we give to ourselves. Gandhi, Dr. King, Jesus Christ, Mother Theresa, and The Dalai Lama advocated this principle. It can also be compared to Karma. If we send out good Karma, then it will return to us. 


There have been many times in my life when I did not have the energy to help anyone - including myself. In my first book, Stress Management: Does Anyone in Chicago Know About It?, I discussed that when we are stressed it is time to pull in to heal. Regardless, how low we are, there is always room for a smile or a kind word. The more I helped my patients, the better they became, and SO DID I! It was incredible. I might start the day on the 'pity-pot'. After giving all I could to others, I felt great at the end of the day.


We do not know what others are experiencing at any given time. I once was pissed-off at an older guy driving too slow in the fast lane on the interstate highway. I was in a hurry. I had things to do. I was important. As I passed him in the right lane, I looked over. He was crying and it was then I saw his window sticker that read "Proud Parents of a Dead Soldier"! I slowed down, gave it all a thought and felt terrible. I made a point of being kind to others even more so that day. 


I challenge you this month. Help yourself by helping or being kind to strangers. The Lakota Sioux Native People in America believe that generosity is defined as: To give is to bless and not to expect something in return. Wouldn't it be great to post here on my Blog in the Comment Section examples of what you did for a stranger. Who knows, maybe we will start a movement together!


Be well and Love Life!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Food For Thought

Do Our Diets Relate to Mental Illness


"Everyone is a moon and has a dark-side which he never shows to anyone."  Mark Twain

If you, like me, suffer from depression and anxiety, rest assured that we are in good company. President Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression and low self-esteem his entire adult life. His friends spent time with him to prevent suicide. Princess Diana suffered from postpartum depression, bulimia, and self-inflicted injuries. William Churchill suffered from depression that he called the 'black dog'. To compensate for this, he often worked from 8A.M. until 2 A.M. Sir Isaac Newton suffered from depression and insomnia. Astronaut, Buzz Aldrin and playwright, Tennessee Williams (A Streetcar Named Desire), each used alcohol to fight their depressions. Twain suffered from severe depression the last fifteen years of his life!

In the past several years researchers in Australia, United States, Spain, Norway, France, and the United Kingdom have analyzed the relationship between the foods we eat and mental illness. Before explaining some of the results I need to educate you on some technical terms.

This section may be a bit boring, so fix a cup of coffee, kick back, and try your best to enjoy it. It is the baseline for the rest of my Blog.

These are chemicals that transmit signals to activate receptors in the brain and spinal cord. These chemicals are readily available in our foods. They activate dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline systems. The terms of noradrenaline and norepinephrine are synonymous. The same hold true for epinephrine and adrenaline.

This is a neurotransmitter and a chemical that is released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells in the brain. It plays a major role for reward-driven learning. People with low dopamine levels are diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.

 Drug addicts have been reported to have ten-fold the level of dopamine when high on Meth or Coke. People who have low levels of dopamine can have difficulty with numbers, short-term memory loss, reduced libido, Restless Leg Syndrome, ADD, Fibromyalgia, and Depression. High levels are found with Schizophrenia and the manic state of Bi-Polar Disease. Increased dopamine is related to motivation, desire, and pleasure; all of which can be socially negative or positive. A rapist would be an example of a negative response.

Serotonin is also a neurotransmitter and is responsible for our feelings of well-being. It is called a 'happy hormone'. Only 10% is stored in the Central Nervous System (brain and spinal cord). The rest of it is located in the 'gut' region where it is used to regulate intestinal movements and helps with wound healing, among other functions. In the brain, serotonin helps with memory, learning, safety issues, mood, appetite, and sleep. It also reduces the insulin release from the pancreas. It is synthesized by the amino acid, tryptophan.

There is a decrease in serotonin transmissions in the brain with Depression, Anxiety, Social Phobias, Insomnia, and Anger.
Stress is a major trigger for the 'Flight or Fight" Reaction. If we stay in a stressful state long enough, certain diseases result. These include: Diabetes, Cardiac Problems, and High Blood Pressure to name a few. More importantly, if we are constantly under Stress and releasing serotonin, we will desensitize it. Then the serotonin is depleted! When serotonin is depleted, another chemical runs rampant in our bodies. It is a collection called the catecholamines. Excessive amounts of catecholamines in our system lead to Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia, and Increased risk of obesity. Having been under severe and constant stress for the past six and one half years, I have suffered from depression, high anxiety, sleep loss, and weight gain. What about you?

Constant Stress depletes the neurotransmitters. The body knows it needs some help. It signals us to intake high glycemic carbohydrates which are known to increase a spike in dopamine and serotonin. This is part of the cause for obesity! Address the Stress and you will partially address the obesity. It is proven that exercise thirty minutes a day will double the serotonin and other brain-repair chemicals.

Norepinephrine aka Noradrenaline
This is a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in the 'flight or fight' response in all animals and humans. It increases heart rate and releases glucose from storage places in the body. The glucose is then used by the muscles to fight or flight. It increases blood pressure to send blood to our muscles at a faster rate than normal.  Other reactions during the 'flight or fight response' include: Hair stands on end (just look at your cat during a fight), blood vessels open wide to accommodate more blood flow carrying oxygen to the muscles, sixteen major muscles in our bodies immediately contract preparing to run or fight, and tubes in our lungs open wider to transfer more oxygen to the muscles.

It is synthesized from dopamine. Other functions in the body include: reducing inflammation in nerve cells, proper release of glucose, increases blood flow to muscles, and increases oxygen supply to the brain. When this chemical is reduced from excessive stress, diabetes, coronary problems, loss of short term memory can occur.

Schizophrenics tend to have high levels of this chemical. Those who have Depression have low levels. In our bodies there is an amino acid called tyrosine. This is needed to create dopamine, which in turn is a precursor to epinephrine and norepinephrine.

Epinephrine aka Adrenaline 
Epinephrine is a neurotransmitter that is produced during exercise (the runner's high), excitement, pain, and orgasm. It produces a feeling of well-being. It also plays a part in the 'Flight or Fight" reaction. Stress is also the major trigger for epinephrine. It is also produced by the amino acid tryosine. 

Points to remember from the section above 
* Chemicals needed by the body are found in our foods 
* These chemicals are called neurotransmitters
* People with low levels of Dopamine may have difficulty with numbers, short term memory loss, and reduced libido
* Low levels of dopamine have been associated with depression, fibromyalgia, ADD, and restless leg syndrome
* Being in a constant state of Stress will deplete serotonin and can result in Social Phobia, Insomnia, Depression, Anger, Anxiety, and Obesity 
* Foods high in sugar will temporarily elevate us to 'feel good' when we are low in serotonin and dopamine. This is one reason for obesity in people who suffer mental illness.
* People who suffer from depression have low levels of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) 
* Exercising 30 minutes a day will double the serotonin levels in our system

What Does Literature Review Report    

1. Sleep deprivation weakens our immune system and negatively affects our memory, metabolism, learning ability, healing (both physical and psychological). This is why sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique.
2. The National Sleep Foundation reports that with insomnia there are problems that can occur with the heart, lungs, brain, immune, and endocrine systems (diabetes).
3. UCLA - Berkeley reports people with Depression have reduced serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
4. Food addiction is caused by brain chemicals that are just as powerful as the addiction to alcohol and drugs. It starts with the body trying to replenish the loss of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
5. Insomnia increases inflammation in arteries. When it is chronic heart attack, stroke, and/or diabetes can occur.
6. Foods with refined sugar, white flour, high fructose, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners/colors, preservatives, and chocolate can lead to anxiety, depression, insomnia, apathy, obesity, diabetes, and heart problems.    
7. Antidepressant medications increase the amount of serotonin in our system.

Depression and Anxiety 
1. Over 2,000 adolescents aged 11-18, in Australia were tested over a four year period looking at the hypothesis of "Foods that we eat can have a bearing on our mental health". They were tested specifically for depression. One group ate foods from the 'Core Food Groups". This included two or more servings of fruit per day and four or more servings of vegetables per day. They avoided chocolate, fried foods, chips, sweets, ice cream, and processed foods. The other group ate all the 'bad foods'. After four years the following was noted:
A. Those who ate from the 'Core Food Groups' had a marked improvement in their mental health.
B. Those whose dietary qualities deteriorated experienced a worsening of their mental health.
2. Consuming trans-fats has been linked to increased risk of depression.
3. A study in Norway found that consuming processed and other unhealthy foods was linked to anxiety.
4. The Norway study also found that there was a direct link between better quality diets and improved mental health. Specifically depression and anxiety were improved.
5. Another study found that women who ate the 'Western Diet" high in refined or processed foods, meats, and saturated fats had a 50% increased likelihood of depression.
6. Women who consumed a 'Whole Diet' of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, high quality pasture-raised beef reduced their risk of depression and anxiety by more than 30%.
7. An interesting study in Spain found people who ate pizza and hamburgers had an increased risk of depression That same study found the consumption of nuts, seeds, fish, leafy green vegetables, and avocados decreased the risk of depression over time.
8. There was a report in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 2009, that people who follow the Mediterranean Diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, olive oil were 30% less likely to develop depression compared to those who followed the 'Western Diet'.
9. One study I found reported that fish oil supplements prevented conversion from a sub-threshold psychotic state to full-blown schizophrenia.
10. Salmon, herring, and mackerel have the highest levels of omega- 3 fatty acid. This chemical can not be synthesized by the body, but is vital for normal metabolism. It must come from our food supply. It has been proven positively associated with cognitive and behavioral performance. One study reported that a deficiency of omega-3 may be a risk factor for suicide.
11. It has been reported that pasture raised animals have a healthier fatty acid profile than animals raised in feedlots. In the United States, animals that were raised in feedlots were found to have an increase in saturated fats.
12. Diets that include berries and other dark pigmented fruits and vegetables may slow cognitive decline through the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
13. Alcohol is a depressant. However, low to moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with numerous health benefits. These include: improved cholesterol profile, blood platelet and clotting improvement, and improved insulin sensitivity.
United States Food & Drug Administration Report    
Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. One drink is equivalent to 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, five fluid ounces of 12% alcohol wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
14. If you are a diabetic and want to consume alcohol, NEVER do it on an empty stomach. Drink about two hours after you have eaten or the alcohol will spike your sugar level.
15. One researcher reported, "Diet can not cure a person who has bipolar disease but our studies demonstrate diet can prevent multiple episodes."       

Points to remember from the section above   
Foods with refined sugar, white flour, high fructose, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners/colors, preservatives, and chocolate can lead to anxiety, depression, insomnia, apathy, obesity, diabetes, and heart problems.  
* Insomnia may lead to major health problems
* Consuming trans-fats has been linked to depression
* Consuming processed foods has been linked to an increase in anxiety
* Diets high in the consumption of fruits, nuts, berries, seeds, vegetables, fish, pasture raised beef reduce the risk of depression and anxiety.

Actual Case Study 
A 64 year old male has a long history of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. He experienced severe physical and emotional abuse from his alcoholic father from ages 11 through 17. While writing a novel he realized something that had been repressed for nearly fifty-seven years. He remembered being locked in a darkened stairwell at age eight, for nearly eighteen hours with no water or food. He had to endure extreme heat and insects in the darkened area. 

At the same time while writing his book, he and his wife were the victims of a frivolous law-suit. The other party was after the full retirement from the subject and his wife. For six and one half years the male subject reported he felt like he was locked in a trunk of a car and being driven around with no 'say-so' in the entire situation. The night before trial, the other party dropped their law-suit. It was over after all those years of constant stress and pressure.

The subject developed sleep deprivation during the law-suit. He also developed diabetes, circulatory issues, sleep apnea and severe depression. Previously he was diagnosed with Restless Leg Syndrome. He was further diagnosed with PTSD due to his childhood experiences magnified by the law-suit. 

That subject is ME! 

I have taken the following steps to improve my mental and physical health.
1. I exercise 60-90 minutes five days a week.
2. I have changed my eating habits to include grass fed beef, cage-free chickens, fruits, nuts - (walnuts especially are great for depression), leafy green vegetables, seeds, fish, and organic foods in general.
3. I use medications to control my anxiety and depression as prescribed by my physician
4. I am involved with talk therapy on a monthly basis.
5. I have changed the way I cook. I use no oils except extra virgin olive oil. I use a water-less system that is significantly better than 'regular' cooking methods. Here is their web site www.healthycookingconcepts.com 

I now sleep all the way through each night, I am losing weight, I have a positive attitude about life, and I have a sense of well-being.

Foods That Are Healthy   
1. Meats, nuts eggs, and cheese contain the amino acid Tyrosine which helps with the development of norepinephrine.
2. Mushrooms, fruits, vegetables, pineapple, plum, turkey, lamb tomato, bananas, walnuts, pecans, cashews, and almonds are great sources for creating serotonin.
3. Root vegetables such as carrots, beets, potatoes, yams, onions, turnips, pumpkin, and squash are great foods for better health. Be sure to research the benefits of butternut squash.

4. Garlic, whole beans, brown rice, oatmeal, fish, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, watermelon, plant foods help in the production of the neurotransmitters.    

*Note: The above article is NOT meant to be medical advice nor is it meant to replace information from your physician. ALWAYS check with your physician before making any life-style changes!

To learn more about my novel, The Shade Tree Choir, go to my website at www.davidnelsonauthor.com. My novel is available also at Amazon and Smashwords.

As always feel free to leave a comment or a question. 

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