Saturday, October 22, 2016

Overwhelming Anxiety and Panic Attacks

If you have never had overwhelming anxiety or a real panic attack, you may have a hard time understanding this article.  I don't mean you shouldn't read it though because it will give you a little insight into how others feel when they have them.  I can tell you that they can be truly crippling.  It is similar to having a huge wave falling over you and the result it almost the same as if it were water hitting you.

Imagine being forced under the water like that.  Understand the fear of being unable to breathe in an instant and you can not find your way to the surface.  That is about the simplest but most effective way of explaining it.  The biggest problem is finding the 'surface'.  At least when we are under the water we can look for the light to show us the way out.  When having a panic attack, there is no real light to look to in that instance.

So if you have ever been one of those people who think that anxiety and panic attacks are not real, please think again.  Many people like me have lived this way for a large part of their life, and at one time, many believed that because they could not see how we felt, they felt we were making it up or using it as an excuse for one thing or another.  I eventually learned that understanding the ignorance of those others did not change my anxiety issues, so I simply stopped paying attention to their judgment.

For those who suffer from these issues like I do, I truly understand your suffering at times. Because I have spent 30 years of my life trying to get control of this, I understand the importance of helping others to learn some of the lessons that I have during this horrific inner battle.  After spending years attempting to control my physical symptoms with a doctor's care, I gave up on that.  It wasn't that my doctors did not care, it was simply that they were trying to control and repair my symptoms with physical means, but never truly got to the source of my problems.

Anxiety begins with our mental state, and if it is not controlled through our mental strengths, it will eventually manifest itself physically causing horrific results for the sufferer.  Although I decided to stop taking prescription drugs a few years back, I am not suggesting that others do the same.  I do think it is a good future goal for those who are dealing this way, but it is not a path to venture on until your mental state is ready for the backlash.

I used to have symptoms of panic and overwhelming anxiety and would immediately take a prescribed drug to improve my current state of being.  After a couple decades of this, I learned that those drugs would never help me get better in the end because the root of the problems were still there lurking in the darkness of my mind.  I woke up one day and decided to take control of myself and begin looking for some peace in that darkness.

I began to research everything I could find in books, on the internet and from others about anxiety and panic.  I learned coping mechanisms, breathing techniques, meditation, and any other natural form of relaxation to help me deal with my symptoms.  Many years later I sit here writing to you so that you will understand that you can overcome it too.  If I can do it then so can you!

I still have anxiety issues today, but they no longer control my life or my thinking.  The opposite of anxiety for me is peace.  I found some inner peace and now have a place to go within and calm the effects with simply my own strength and will.  This blog will likely jump around a bit as I put more articles up, but the intent will not change.  The intent of this blog and the network of helpers I am trying to create is to help you better understand yourself.

Your story is different from mine.  We walk different paths in life.  In suffering we can help each other along the way.  Share experience and knowledge to help each other suffer less.  It is my hope that I can help to ease a little suffering in everyone who reads my stuff.  I am certainly not all knowing but I will share the things I have a good knowledge in.

I will try to leave each article with some simple truth you can take away to improve your day.  There are many breathing techniques that are tried and tested which work to help calm anxiety and panic.  You may have no idea how important and vital a few deep breaths can be to both your mental and physical health.

Start with the 4 by 4 by 4 by 4 method.  Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, release for 4 seconds and do that 4 times.  This may sound simple but I am asking you to give it try the next time you first feel that anxiety.  Learn to identify your anxiety and panic triggers, what the first feeling you feel is when it happens, and what you will do at that point.  I am suggesting that you try breathing in a controlled fashion.  It simply works and will help to 'ground' you back to reality.

Be well and have a peaceful day

Marshmallows Are Fat Free

The scope of my past blogs were based in philosophy and critical thinking skills.  I like to write articles that get people to start thinking more critically, so that you are getting a little more mental exercise, and therefore better mental health.  This article below was something I posted a couple years ago and my readers and I had a lot of fun with it.  I figure it will be a quick and fun read for a Saturday. I hope you enjoy and have a wonderful day!

Be Well

For any of you who have not already guessed, advertising these days is a joke and actually a form mind control through suggestive thought processes. Consider this the next time you are watching TV, see a snack commercial, then get up to get a snack.  We all do it.  The advertisement that set me off this morning was one I saw while pouring my early morning coffee.  Marshmallows with a statement in bold on the front of the bag "Naturally Fat Free".  Really??
First of all, when did mankind invent a marshmallow plant or tree?  There is nothing natural about a marshmallow.  I won't list all the ingredients but they do contain tetrasodium pryophosphate and I suppose they invented a tree for that as well.
Most kids will see that and go "mommy, mommy, buy me these, they are healthy, they have no fat and they are natural".  Who are we kidding?  We are teaching our children a distorted reality right from the get go.  My conscience determines right from wrong and this is just wrong.  Our children will grow up thinking marshmallows are natural and fat free so we should eat lots.
Childhood obesity is raging in our society and this is just one yummy sugary product.  Spend today looking at everything you see with a logical unbiased outlook and you will truly open your eyes for the first time.
Don't get me wrong either, i am not religious(but i love all the stories), i am not trying to preach, but I am trying to get your critical processors moving so we begin to question everything.  And i do very much enjoy marshmallows.
I don't want people going off thinking i am prejudiced against marshmallows.... Thought tells me that the kids and I will have a lot of fun and laughs with a bag of them and a campfire, and logic tells me that laughter is a good thing.(I know they are not good for me physically, but the joy they add to our campfire make it worth the trade.)

Friday, October 21, 2016

"The Nature of Our Mind is Quiet'

"The nature of our mind is quiet,
The nature of our being is well"-unknown

I read this once and it really stuck with me.  The answer to inner peace should be this simple, but it is not.  So let's understand what those statements mean, and why we are not in our natural state.  We are living in an unnatural state of being and need to determine why.

"The nature of our mind is quiet" is a profound statement.  When is the last time you can remember your mind being truly quiet when you were not asleep?  This is a very powerful thought as well.  If the nature of our mind is supposed to be in a quiet state, why isn't it?  These are the questions we need to ask ourselves so we can begin to better understand the 'noise' in our heads, and to start taking steps to calm and quiet that noise.

Start by understanding that your mind is supposed to be quiet.  When it is not quiet, we are going against the grain of our natural state and therefore become conflicted.  This place of 'cognitive dissonance' is where stress and anxiety begin to grow.  You are likely seeing more posts on your Facebook and other social media platforms about meditation every day.  This is the tool that humans all over the planet are using to quiet the mind.  We will talk more about meditation over the next few weeks, but in the mean time, why don't you do a little research and learn about what it is and why it works.

Begin quieting the mind as soon as possible, start today and experience the present moment even for a few minutes each day.  You will begin to understand what I am talking about once you can experience the moments that lie between your thoughts.  That is the quiet.  The more of those moments you can experience and the longer you can savor those moments, the stronger your control over your own mind becomes.  The stronger you mind becomes, the quicker your mental struggles will begin to heal.

This takes us to the second statement, "The nature of our being is well".  Our physical being, in it's natural state, is supposed to be healthy and well.  This is where balance comes in to play.  If either the physical or mental being is unwell, then the other will suffer.  Although maintaining good physical health is of the utmost importance, I will not be discussing that part because we can all make that assumption, but it does not mean we all take the statement to heart.  It is much more difficult to maintain a healthy body when we are surrounded by so many toxins.

I can tell you that many of our current physical health problems began with our mental state.  As our mental state of being decreases, so does our physical state.  I am here to help you better understand your own mental state of being so you can begin to find balance again.  I try to keep my articles short and meaningful so that you don't get bored, and so that you can walk away with a better understanding of yourself.

Spend some time today, and in the days to come, to take some moments for yourself and take a few deep breaths.  Try to identify those moments that exist between your thoughts and learn what a quiet mind feels like.  It is exhilarating and you will want to find more of those moments.  Quiet your mind as often as possible and take control of your thoughts and behaviours; don't let them control you!  This will not heal all that ails you but it will improve your quality of life, and your 'being will become well', maybe not completely but I guarantee it will improve.  We all have to start somewhere if we want a better life for ourselves!

Be Well

Social Judgement

During a youth meeting I was asked how we are to deal with social judgment.  Feeling judged at home, at work, and especially at school.  I thought that I would have no issues answering this question, and then I realized how deeply profound this conundrum can be.  This is not a question that can be simply applied to an individual situation and provide us with a general answer.  This is a question that hits us as the very root of our being, it awakens our consciousness.  If we feel we are being judged then we must ask ourselves ‘what are we allowing ourselves to be judged about, and why does this person (or these people) have the right to judge me in this accord?’. 

We pose this question to ourselves and begin to judge ourselves at this point based on the judgement we are perceiving from others.  This leads to much cognitive dissonance that our brain is having difficulty sorting out.  We can go about our day at this point, but at most, our actions are based on memory and reaction to daily events.  Our brain processor is still overloaded with the ethical conundrum of being judged earlier. 

Our brains will continue to process this information until we determine why we are giving power to person judging us and allowing our processors to be bogged down with their judgments.  Once you realize that letting go of the power the other person has taken from you by releasing their right to force their judgments upon you.  Even though the person’s intent may be to judge you, you have the ability to either accept this judgment or not.
Personally, I have learned to no longer accept the judgment of others unless I request it. 

I understand the feeling of being judged by others and it certainly can leave us with a negative feeling.  Even today, I realize that there are those around me who are judging me, yet I choose to give them no power over me.  There are others in my life who are judging me and I request it of them.  These are people who have earned my trust and have my best interests at heart when providing me with their helpful observations of my behaviour. 

The point of this is to show you that if you are feeling judged by those around, you likely are.  Whether you choose to allow these people to judge you is up to you.  It is your choice to accept the judgment of those who have your best interests in mind, and to help guide you to where you want to be.  It is also your choice to deny acceptance of judgment from those who have absolutely no right to judge who and what you are.  

Remember that it is those individuals who freely judge those around them each who require the most judgment, and they should spend their time judging themselves first before worry about impelling theirs onto others.  Social judgment is what it is and we cannot change this.  How we react to it is our choice!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Why Mental Health Literacy is Needed

There is a great need for better mental health in almost every family on the planet.  Better mental health begins with awareness of the issues, and with what we have learned about these issues.  There is an abundance of good information based on research and experience which can help each and every one of us on our path to a better life. 

I hope you will bear with me as I put all of the information into perspective here on this blog.  I hope that you will click the follow button so that you can continue to move forward with us on this journey to better mental health.  I will write in a conversational tone and do my best not to use words that all can easily understand.

  I also hope you will comment and share the things you would like to see us focus on in regards to mental health issues.  I will simply be using my education and experiences to help anyone that needs it.
My belief is that by educating and sharing solid information about your issues, or that of a family member/friend, you will begin to recognize symptoms and learn how to ease some of the suffering that those issues are causing.  

We will also be building a database where you will be able to find good, well researched information which will help you to improve your quality of life and that of those around you.  My writings will be unedited for the most part since the words come out faster than I can type sometimes.  I will do my best to provide well written materials that you will find useful and helpful.
The first step I will deal with today is about removing stigma and bad feelings about mental health disorders.  I am not afraid to tell others what my issues are and you should not be afraid either. Others cannot truly understand us if they don't know what ails us.

  I have had anxiety issues since I was quite young, and decades later they are still there, I just know how to control them better now.  When others understand that I have these issues, they create different and more understanding opinions of my outward behaviours.  If I seem fidgety or am sweating profusely, they will more likely attribute that to my anxiety issues and not that I am hiding something from them.  This a big difference in perception and a more positive outlook which was created through understanding.

We will hear someone say something like "that person is just crazy!", and most of us will just assume that they are.  If we take away the stigma attached, we may see a person who is suffering from a bout of mania which they cannot control and we should help them rather than stigmatize them.  Maybe the person has a schizophrenic disorder and they have spent most of their lives trying to find balance and order for themselves.  The person is not simply 'crazy', they are suffering from something and we as human beings should be more understanding, instead of being judgmental. 

I realize this is just the beginning of the journey to better mental health, and that we have a lot of work yet to do, but I am willing to put in the work if you are.  I hope what I am writing makes sense and that it speaks to you on an inner level.  It is my hope to get you thinking critically so you can start to fix your own mind and find some inner peace.  I have much left to learn myself but in the mean time I will share what I do know.  If there are other things you want or need to learn, please let me know and we will learn it together right here.

Be well and choose to have a good day.  Believe it or not, it is our choice!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Preface to critical thinking skills

After spending the past year working with young people, primarily 18-30 years of age, I have learned one major thing; these young people have no clue how to navigate society for the most part.  They certainly are not receiving the guidance required to make it in the world once they achieve adulthood.  I have no doubt that we are letting down our young people here in Canada right now and it is time that things change!
I am often presented with questions which many of us would consider to be ‘basic common sense’.  I often ask myself how these young people cannot figure out these things by themselves, and I know it is not because they are not intelligent.  We will often equate these issues and lack of common sense to be in-line with a lack of intelligence, and I am here to tell you that this just is not so.  These young people have simply not been given the guidance, or have not been taught the skills required to make rational decisions for themselves.
This is what I am writing about today.  I want to explain what is missing and how we can begin to fix the problem we are being presented with in today’s society.  The problem is not a lack of common sense or intelligence, it is a lack of critical thinking skills.  Without critical thinking skills, we cannot ask the questions that we should be asking when presented with a problem or challenge.  It is easy enough to say that 4x3=12, but if we don’t ask why then we only have an image or memory to guide us to the answer. 
Critical thinking skills look at problems from all angles and help us to work out the complexities of any issue we are presented with.  Otherwise, when we are presented with a problem, we will simply rely on memory for an answer.  If that memory has the wrong answer to begin with then we will continue to provide bad information.  If we look at the memory and ask why, we will begin to critically process the information to show ourselves whether we have the right answer or not, and we will not simply rely on information we have only been taught.
Here is the kicker, if you don’t know how to critically think about problems or to rationalize a thought, then this article will only deepen your confusion, and I apologize for that.  Critically thinking about critical thinking can be a very challenging concept for anyone to handle.  I hope to provide an understanding about critical thinking which anyone can understand and follow.  This is the premise for the following thought process which will be to look at all information stored in our heads and begin to ask questions, especially why.
We are about to follow simple ways to kick our critical thinking processors into gear.  The creation of the internet has quelled the need for critical thinking by providing answers at the touch of a screen.  When we have the ability to look anything up at a moment’s notice, we deny the challenge which has been presented to our critical thinking skills, and weaken these skills as opposed to exercising them.  I will show you how to begin exercising these skills once again, and once your critical thinking processors spring back to life, your common sense will soar and life will simply become easier once again.
“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction.  The world will have a generation of idiots.”-Albert Einstein