Tag Archives: present

The Problem with Christmas

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All the meetings I have been going lately have shown to prove that this time of year is incredibly stressful. Thoughts of past Christmas’, struggles with expenses and family can really trigger us to want to use. This is the time to be thankful, to be selfless and to spread love, not scream ‘fuck it’ and get wasted. We need to be there for our families, for each other and for ourselves.” -Happy Christmas Eve, Robyn

Presents

Most people know the holidays can be a period of emotional highs and lows. Loneliness,
anxiety, happiness and sadness are common feelings, sometimes experienced in startling succession. The bad news is the holiday blues can trigger relapse for people recovering from alcoholism and other drug addiction. The good news is the blues can be remedied by planning ahead.

Why do the blues hit during this otherwise festive season? Doing too much or too little and being separated from loved ones at this special time can lead to sadness during the holiday season. Many recovering people associate the holidays with memories of overindulgence, perhaps of big benders that resulted in relationship problems or great personal losses.

People experience feelings of melancholy, sadness and grief tied to holiday recollections. Unlike clinical depression, which is more severe and can last for months or years, those feelings are temporary.   Anyone experiencing major symptoms of depression, such as persistent sadness, anxiety, guilt or helplessness; changes in sleep patterns; and a reduction in energy and libido, should seek help from a mental health professional.

Whether you’re in recovery or not, developing a holiday plan to help prevent the blues, one that will confront unpleasant memories before they threaten your holiday experience. Your plan should include improved self-care, enhanced support from others, and healthy ways to celebrate. Here are a few suggestions to achieve a happy, sober holiday season:

Good self-care is vital. Remember to slow down. Take some quiet time each day and work on an attitude of gratitude. Plan relaxation and meditation into your day, even for a few minutes, no matter how busy you are. Relax your standards and reduce overwhelming demands and responsibilities.

Don’t overindulge. Go easy on the holiday sweets and follow a balanced diet. Monitor your intake of caffeine, nicotine and sugar. Exercise regularly to help maintain your energy level amid a busier schedule. Don’t try to do too much. Get plenty of sleep. Fatigue is a stressor. Maintain some kind of schedule and plan ahead; don’t wait until the last minute to purchase gifts or prepare to entertain.

Enhance your support system. Holidays are a good time to reach out more frequently to your therapist, sponsor, spiritual advisor, or support group. If you’re in recovery, spend time with fellow recovering people. Let others help you realize your personal limits. Learn to say “no” in a way that is comfortable for you.

Find new ways to celebrate. Create some new symbols and rituals that will help redefine a joyful holiday season. You might host a holiday gathering for special recovering friends and/or attend celebrations of your Twelve Step group. Avoid isolation and spend time with people you like who are not substance users. Don’t expose yourself to unnecessary temptations, such as gatherings where alcohol is the center of entertainment. If there are people who have a negative influence on you, avoid them.

Focus on your recovery program. Holidays are also an important time to focus on your recovery program. For example, ask, “What am I working on in my program now?” Discuss this with your sponsor.

Release your resentments. Resentment has been described as allowing a person you dislike to live in your head, rent-free. Resentments that gain steam during the holidays can be disastrous for anyone, especially recovering people. The Big Book of “Alcoholics Anonymous” refers to resentment as the No. 1 offender, or the most common factor in failed sobriety.

Holidays may also be a time to evaluate your spirituality and find a personal way to draw support from the spirit of the season. Return the holidays to a spiritual base, and stress the power of unselfish giving.

Recovery is serious work, but it is also important to have fun. Laugh a little and a little more. Start seeing the humor in those things that annoy you. Take from the holiday season what is important for you and leave the rest.

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The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

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The Power of Now

The Power of Now is, to say the least, POWERFUL. Eckhart Tolle does a phenomenal job expressing the importance of the present and how it can change your life. Being in the Now is something I have tried to stress in some of my earlier blogs focusing on meditation and awareness. While meditation is one way to get there, through this book you will find that you can be in this moment every second of every day. Luckily for you, the audiobook is now free for 30 days from Audible.com. This company is affiliated with Amazon and you do have to check out with your information secured for after the trial ends. However, if you listen to it everyday, I promise you can finish it and end the renewal before it comes to bite you. If your still unsure about signing up, you can always head to your local library and find either the book or audio recording there. Anyways, I highly recommend it! Even though there is not much mention of addiction, you will find this book incredibly resourceful. Below is a review from the Audible website.” -Enjoy, Robyn

Review from Audible.com:

To make the journey into The Power of Now you need to leave your analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. Access to the Now is everywhere – in the body, the silence, and the space all around you. These are the keys to enter a state of inner peace. They can be used to bring you into the Now, the present moment, where problems do not exist. It is here you find your joy and are able to embrace your true self. It is here you discover that you are already complete and perfect.

Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle offers simple language in a question and answer format. The words themselves are the signposts to guide you on your journey. There are new discoveries to be made along the way: you are not your mind, you can find your way out of psychological pain, authentic human power is found by surrendering to the Now. When you become fully present and accepting of what is, you open yourself to the transforming experience of The Power of Now.

 

 

Take Nine

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Was she foolish? Yes, probably. She came here waiting for the cute guy to appear behind the counter and here he is. Only she’s jacked up on so much caffeine that she can’t count the shots she’s taken on one hand. Surely its her weakness, thats evident. She knows she shouldn’t drink it but every sip is like a surge of such great energy that it lifts her into the air like … Whatever. She just got lost in a song that played in the background. She needs to know what song that was… “Bing Crosby,” mumbles the cute guy when he returned to check. He clearly has no clue who he is. The same can’t be said for her… but it’s been a “Long, Long Time.”

It takes her back.

Arambol Crabs!

A silly crab on the beach of Arambol.

Somehow she is now on the port of Arambol, Goa. Walking with heavy steps on the cool beach to scare away any lingering crabs. She focus’s her gaze on the ground as they pop in and out of the sand. It seems to work so she repositions her head, looking to the sky. Orions belt is shining brighter than she’d ever seen in her life. Right next to it she traces the constellation of Gemini with her fingers— thats her sign. Sighing, she places her hands back to her side, holding her iPhone listening to a mix of Crosy, Fitzgerald and Armstrong. She looks around her; nothing but a vast sea of blackness to her right and glowing spheres marking the vacant huts to her left. The light from the crescent moon sends sparks dancing on the ocean. She smiles. I don’t think I’ve ever been more happier than I am here, alone on this beautiful night. 

She wore a small black dress that was gift given to her the first time she visited Goa. During that stay she had indulged in drugs and sex, more drugs and sex, and endless dancing. Now she came with a different purpose. Traveling with some girls she had met from her school and staying for a week to lay on the beach, eat too much food, watch them shop and talk for hours. They never wanted to smoke up with her but she didn’t really care. They had just left that morning and she moved into a different resort that was far more expensive but far more beautiful. Atman Resort.. When she first saw the place her jaw dropped. Huts built high above the sand, draped in silk sarrees of every colour. She was mystified. She decided to stay one more week before she had to go back home (to Kannur) and start working.

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Outside the hut.

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Inside the hut.

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Porch of the hut.

For months now she had been with the guy she had been invited to room with. It was really all an accident how that relationship happened and it simply could not be ended given all he had done for her and the fact that they were living together. But this didn’t stop her from messaging a guy she had met in high school years before. They talked about everything. She would wait for him to settle into his evening, which was the start of her day, and they would chat for hours. He kept her company. He introduced her to Bing Crosby.

The irony of it all had been that just recently (as we fast-forward to the present), she had had a dream about him. All these months she had completely forgot about him with her head muddled by the disasters that had ensued since she returned. She looked back at everything they had said to each other from the very start. They spoke in dreams, desires and love. They were separated by miles and time. Then she dropped off from communication for a while. Only to pick up again in a scrabble of unclear words that remotely described her life post-hospitalization in India. She was delusional. Yet he had gone along with it. But how could he have known?

She tried to explain to him months later on the phone. He was reserved. Probably in shock.. but pleasant. They talked for a long time, just catching up. Nothing like it was before though. It would probably never be like it was before.

But she could still sit there in the coffee shop, gayly humming the tune to “Long, Long Time.” She mouthed the words as she stared off blindly at the workers behind the bar.

When she was in Arambol by herself for that week, she slept throughout the day to shield from the sun and arose in the evening for drinks, pot and whatever else she could scavenge from the random groups of travelers she found on the beach. One night she set herself down with a few young men from Italy. They enjoyed hearing her stories of Kannur and the parties south of Arambol. They admitted that they preferred the hippy-scene but she tried to assure them of its equally enlightening experience. She began to realize something she had forgotten— judgement.

She had erased all judgement when she landed in India. Never thinking that anyone was better than her or she was better than anyone else. She wandered around the town making friends with everyone she met and never hesitated to think that anyone would only be talking to her because she was a young American girl. Now that she reflects on it, she can see how naive she was. But was it really all that bad? She had been happy not looking so deeply behind everyones motives. It had worked for her at the time. She supposes that this is what might have gotten her into so much trouble. Yet, for some reason she misses those days when she could let her mind drift off and see the world in an elaborate web of technicoloured unity. She reminds herself, this was me in mania.

She never knew she was bipolar until she was diagnosed in India and now that she knows that there is an actual word to describe her abnormal thought process, she feels a little better. Sure, she’s different than a lot of people— although some like to say that ‘everyones a little bipolar’—she at least has an understanding of why. Being bipolar is not some shifting of moods from time to time. Its not to be belittled by anyone who thinks they understand it. They don’t live it, how could they understand it? To her, her disorder was serious. It causes her to come off as something she does not want to portray. It sends her into months of pure joy, verging on insane to spells of deep depression where all hopes are lost and suicide becomes a better answer with each day. She wonders what it would be like to live without fear. Her head is always spinning around such profound ideas that when she withdraws herself to observe her thoughts, all that can rationalize them is her rise into another manic episode… She once sought after that, too. Sometimes she wonders if she is still secretly seeking it even after the fact that she realized it was a bad idea.

She just lets these thoughts go. They can’t govern her life and she can’t be always questioning herself. She tells herself, if I become manic, then I do. If I become depressed, then that’s where I will be. For now, in this moment, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I feel happy. I feel sane. I love myself and my life and I will not let anyone get in the way of this serenity.

She mentions the idea of ‘anyone’ because she saw a pattern. When she is depressed, she tends to push it onto someone. Latch on to them as though without them, she would be nothing. She places utter most importance on their existence in her life and becomes delusional to the fact that they are just another human being—doing their own thing. She is not the center of their universe and they probably (defiantly) don’t want her to be. She has to let go of her possessive thoughts and bring herself back into a reality where it is just her and everything else. I am alone, but I am at peace. I like to be alone. I feel free. I get lost in my thoughts and gaze upon the lake. I wait for the moon as I sit myself under a palm tree. Anywhere I go, there I will be. And everywhere I go, beauty follows me.

 

9 Ways to Heal Depression Holistically

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“This was an article I stumbled upon from Natural News a few days back. Its written by Mike Bundrant who was able to compile this brilliantly inspiring list of ways to heal depression on the physical and psychological planes using holistic methods. Including reasoning that has been discussed within several strong sources, Bundrant explores the concepts of transforming mind and invigorating the body through 9 simple steps.” -Enjoy, Robyn

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As you pursue natural remedies for depression, it is important to understand that depression has both physical and psychological components.

To be happy, healthy and enthused about life, you must get both your mind and body balanced. Falling into a depressed state, however, only requires that one element of your body or mind is out of balance.

The following nine natural ways to combat depression are broken down into physical and psychological elements.

Healing psychological components of depression

1. A future worth embracing

Your perception of the future has a lot to do with your emotional state. An exciting future naturally produces feelings of enthusiasm. A blank future can produce feelings of uncertainty or anxiety. In fact, panic is often called a complete ‘future blowout.’ The future is gone, which means it all ends right here!

People who suffer with depression often report a seeing a future in which they do not want to participate.

This factor alone is enough to make anyone feel down. If you took the healthiest person and mentally installed an unacceptable future into her mind, she would immediately begin to feel discouraged and eventually depressed.

If your future is not what you want it to be, then it is imperative that you consider your options.

What are your goals?
Are you living someone else’s idea of the good life?
Do you feel you deserve to create the life you want?
What skills, training or education do you need to feel excited about your future?

You may wonder if depression causes you to perceive an uninspiring future or if an uninspiring future creates a depressed state. BOTH are true.

2. Relationships that fulfill

The evidence is in. Bad primary relationships correlate with high depression. It doesn’t appear to matter how good your physical health is. If you are in a stressful, unhappy relationship, you will be stressed and unhappy.

Being in great physical health does NOT mean that you make good decisions about people, money, business or other factors that also determine your quality of life and state of mind.

A happy mood goes with fulfilling relationships and vice-versa. Learn the relationship skills that support happiness. Don’t get stuck or cling to bad relationships! They wear on your psyche and your body.

Sometimes, in the throes of a painful relationship, you blame yourself and think you are broken. I did this for years. It was the untenable relationship that was the source of my angst. Yes, I was still participating in the problem, but when I finally ended that particular relationship, I was freed.

You can’t just blame others, but you should absolutely consider that feeling trapped in a relationship is depressing in its own right. Check out some of the little known reasons why people stay in bad relationships.

3. A friendly mind

It seems to be universal – the human tendency to self-condemn. Do you live with a critical voice inside their head that punishes you and warns you (irrationally) that you will fail?

Does it feel like no matter what you do or where you are, you ruin your mood with inner negativity and pessimism? This is your inner critic at work.

Healing that critical voice in your head requires making friends with it. This is a part of you that won’t rest until you come to terms with self-sabotage. Most people need help with this, but here is a video you can watch that offers a great little method to calm down your inner critic.

4. A present mind

Most people live inside their heads, with thoughts that meander in the past and the future. You worry about what might happen in the future. You obsess about what already happened in the past. You do anything but enter the here and now.

Interestingly, many people simply do not know how to enter the present moment. Getting to the Now is easily achieved by grounding yourself through sound. Best of all, you don’t need special equipment.

Your environment is filled with white noise. The hum of your computer, the sound of a blowing fan or running refrigerator, the smooth sounds of running water. All these and more are actually hidden portals into the present moment.

When you tune in exclusively to white noise, your brain responds in the most amazing manner. The brain’s Default Mode Network, responsible for self-referential, autopilot thinking, switches OFF. Then, your brain grounds itself in a new consciousness that is clear and peaceful.

This is has been proven through fMRI scans, which you can read about in the March 2010 issue ofScientific American magazine.

Natural remedies for physical depression

5. Vitamin D fights depression (and so much more)

Vitamin D is said to be one of the most underrated nutrients of all time. Vitamin D is a steroid hormone precursor. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. As you can tell, this is an essential vitamin the body needs to stay healthy.

In 2006 the CDC concluded that one fourth of the population is Vitamin D deficient. Canadian researchers have done 14 studies with 31,424 participants that all prove the strong correlation to Vitamin D and depression.

In 2006, a study on 80 elderly people showed that those who lacked Vitamin D were 11 times more prone to depression – a number that is shocking, considering most people would never link this vitamin to such a serious disorder.

Safe sun exposure may help raise Vitamin D levels. Being outside with no sunscreen can actually be good for your body. Of course, supplements can also be taken and are proven to help as well.

6. Omega 3 fatty acids

Researchers have noticed that a sharp rise in depression occurred as people consume less omega 3 fatty acids and more processed foods.

A Columbus University study analyzed 59 patients diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, 18 of which also suffered from Cormobid Anxiety Disorder.

Low levels of omega 3 prevailed among the study group, but were most pronounced in those suffering from anxiety and depression. Although is it not on the front line for treating depression, it is a way to attack it from another angle.

By treating a different area of the brain associated with depression, it can be an effective method for the right patient.

7. Sam-e

Sam-e is a naturally occurring compound found in almost every element in the body. It helps the immune system, maintains cell membranes, and produces and breakdown chemicals in the brain such as serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine.

Research indicates that Sam-e treatment is more effective than placebo in treating mild to moderate depression. It works more quickly and is just as effective as prescribed medications without the headaches, sleepiness, sexual dysfunction, and other side effects that occur.

Unfortunately. Sam-e cannot be found in food, but it can be prescribed in capsules if you consult with your healthcare provider.

8. Heavy metals – a rarely discussed cause of depression

Heavy metal toxicity can disturb brain chemistry, which can cause anxiety and depression, and can also weaken your immunity.

Heavy metals, such as mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, mad aluminum affect different chemicals in your brain that are associated with depression. Examples of these would be GABA, which contributes to anxiety and a dull intelligence, dopamine, which gives the brain energy and motivation, and acetylcholine, which makes the brain sharp and have good memory.

Ridding the body of the excess heavy metals that harm vital brain chemistry involves balancing mineral antagonists. This dislodges the metals from the tissues into the blood with cheating agents that bind the metals in the blood and prevent them from being re-deposited elsewhere, so the kidneys can properly excrete them.

9. Amino acid therapy to balance brain chemistry

Depression and anxiety can occur when there is an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, and amino acids are the building blocks of neurotransmitters.

By giving the body specific therapeutic doses of amino acids, we are giving the body the raw materials it needs so it can feed the pathway of neurotransmitter production and balance out the chemicals in the brain.

For serotonin, 5-HTP or tryptophan can be used. For GABA, doses of GABA can be used. Both of these help soothe and calm the brain, which is helpful with depression, anxiety, and also insomnia.

Amino acid therapy is a method that was discovered in the early 1900’s and used up until the 1980’s when other methods, such as SSRI’s became more popular.

Amino acids can be used in place of antidepressants and don’t have the harsh side effects. With a doctor’s supervision, it is proven to be a powerful method in overcoming depression.