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!

The Shade Tree Choir Book Trailer