My Brain Overload; Next Steps With Neurofeedback

I hear from others all the time how brave I am, how courageous I am or how strong I am as I continue to fight my way back to who I used to be but the thing is (as I am sure you can probably predict what I am about to say by now) I don’t feel any of those things and with each passing day or each new roadblock I feel like it is just a losing battle.  It has been a very emotional, confusing and extremely exhausting week thus far and my brain is in complete overload which has begun to spill over into my physical well-being too.

As I mentioned in my last blog (Dr. Phil Update; 12.9.18) I feel like I’ve been let down at this point by the Healthcare System in Ontario and the resources available to someone like myself who is suffering with a treatment resistant major depressive & severe anxiety disorder.  Being labeled “treatment resistant” in Ontario I have recently (and sadly) discovered that if an antidepressant pill can’t “fix” me or if I am no longer willing to risk my physical well-being from the dreadful and often times frightening side effects I endured for two and a half years (with no mental relief) then therefore I should no longer be treated by our Healthcare System (apparently not even for safety purposes), one that every Ontario citizen has the lawful right to.

So instead as you know I have had to take desperate steps toward finding alternative treatments that are not covered by our government which of course now comes with an entirely new set of emotions and after weeks, if not months of research I am beginning that next chapter in my journey as I mentioned the other day as well, feeling anything but brave, courageous or strong.

On Monday, I met with a Neurofeedback specialist, along with my husband to learn more about the treatment, what exactly was involved in it and if it was even something I could try.  This treatment has intrigued me for quite a while now and even though my negative inner self-talking shithead voice tells me “don’t waste your time or your money because you’re a failure, your helpless, your hopeless and most definitely worthless” I was encouraged to learn more anyway.

For those of you who don’t know “Neurofeedback is an evidence-based treatment to help regulate electrical brainwave activity to reduce the severity of symptoms.”  Neurofeedback actually dates back to the 1960’s and has proven results for improving symptoms in both adults and children suffering with ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar, OCD, Epilepsy, Autism, Strokes and much more including chronic pain associated with Migraines and Fibromyalgia.

“Neurofeedback gives the subject information about their brainwave patterns.  Electrodes attached to the surface of the head (non-invasively) are used to record and analyze brainwave activity in real-time.  As the Neurofeedback training occurs, the brain is rewarded with visual and audio feedback when it displays optimal functioning. The brain learns to grow, adapt and improve the flexibility of its processing.  Over time, the client learns what it feels like to be calm, focused, relaxed and alert and eventually learns to regulate their brainwave patterns easier to match the demands of many different situations.” (info from Neuropotential Clinic pamphlet)

Okay so that’s probably enough of a Science/Psychology lesson for today.  While meeting with a Psychologist on Monday I was asked some overall questions relative to my situation and how they could help me.  Little did I know how much of a brain overload I was in because I spent a good part of the hour crying as I talked about some very sensitive topics.  And as with anything in life there are no guarantees, they listened intently to my story but at no point in time did they make me any guarantees that this is the treatment that will finally push my recovery into full swing.  They did however ensure me that they have several other treatments they can try in the future though.

With the information we received we then decided to proceed to the next step which was to come back for a complete assessment with the Clinical Psychologist who oversees all treatments (well my husband by this point made the decision because had I been left to decide, that same negative inner self-talking shithead voice would have overpowered me).  So I met with them today for an hour and a half, going through my entire history as he made notes as to what the focus of my treatment should be. I then was hooked up to the EEG machine where I was asked to first sit still for 10 minutes with my eyes closed, then another 10 minutes with my eyes open while focusing on one object or focal point (that was not an easy task) as they recorded my brain patterns.  This is in order for them to then sit down and examine the results, comparing my brain to a healthy 47 year old female brain (I’m not sure why they kept needing to know if I’m right or left handed??) and determine a treatment plan.

They recommend about 40 sessions 2 to 3 times per week and will keep me involved every step of the way and consult with my own therapist when needed as well.  If after about 8 to 10 treatments they determine through a re-evaluation that it is not working for me then treatment will be seized immediately and possibly try something else.  So for now I will await the results and treatment plan next week and go from there. I will be sure to keep you posted, even though you may be busy sunbathing on the beach somewhere in Jamaica or Mexico by then.

Dr. Phil Update

In several of my blogs and posts to Social Media recently I have made mention of Dr. Phil and a plea for his help in finding me a suitable and alternative treatment plan to the many I have already tried and yes in my own words “failed” at.

What my husband and I have both witnessed and experienced in the last couple of weeks has put me at my all-time lowest point since my journey began nearly 5 years ago.  The worthlessness and hopelessness I feel right now after being told by several mental health professionals recently that unless I want to take a “pill” there is nothing more they can do for me.  But you know who would never tell me that, you guessed it; Dr. Phil because he believes in treating each unique individual and not the overall disease (and not just in cases of depression).

I have no shame in telling you that for many years now I have had my PVR set to tape Dr. Phil daily (trust me I’ve admitted a lot worse things to you before).  My husband dozes off several nights a week to the soothing sound of Dr. Phil’s voice. (LOL) I know there are a lot of skeptics and critics out there when it comes to Dr. Phil but I truly believe that he along with his team of experts have helped countless individuals and families with some very serious and sometimes life-threatening struggles over the last 17 years on air.

As I have mentioned as well in some of my most recent blogs is that I have been researching and consulting with many alternative treatment programs and services much of which stem from the education I have received watching Dr. Phil and his team of experts and much of which doesn’t exist in Canada but is slowly making its way cross the border.

To be honest just in case you were wondering, I never really saw myself actually going on the Dr. Phil Show as a guest and really my shoutouts and pleas were mostly in jest (and a cry for help) but because I have the most incredible support from friends and strangers alike my chance to be on his show felt very close to becoming a reality this week.  A friend of mine had recently met a gentleman who was in town visiting their mutual friend and when she heard my plea’s she immediately reached out to her friend’s friend who lives in LA and happens to be amongst the Hollywood limelight. As soon as she told him my story, without hesitation he made one phone call and that phone call happened to be to his good friend and one of Dr. Phil’s producers.

Upon hearing this I immediately felt like I was gonna puke because this seemingly innocent plea was quickly turning into a reality.  His friend and producer told him that he would be more than happy to personally “walk my letter right to the powers that be”. He then told him that although I have a powerful story to tell and one that would pull at Dr. Phil’s heartstrings it really isn’t the right genre for it.

For those of you who do watch Dr. Phil (whether you care to admit it or not) his show in the world of tabloid Talk Show’s is what they call a “conflict show” and although there is plenty of conflict in my life when it comes to my treatment and recovery, there is no definitive conflict among those closest to me who may in some way be trying to interfere in my care or may be a detriment to ensuring I get the best care possible.  I guess I should be thankful that my husband and I don’t belong on an episode of Jerry Springer throwing furniture at each other!

So I’m sorry to disappoint all of my supporters and “fans” but there will be no physical appearance for me on The Dr. Phil Show (not unless we can ham it up for the audience), but the thing is Dr. Phil has subconsciously been helping me from the backstage so to speak. It’s because of him that I have been spending several weeks and months researching and educating myself in the world of science and in the world of alternative medicine and treatments.  As I said before, Dr. Phil believes in training and healing the brain and works very closely with his mentor Dr. Lawlis who has proven time and time again that it’s not only possible but more than probable to do so as well.

So tomorrow my husband and I will be taking Dr. Phil’s advice along with our endless research on healing the brain to the next level as we sit down for a consultation with a Neurofeedback specialist.  I will keep you posted.

NEGATIVE ONLINE REVIEWS; TWO THUMBS DOWN

Before making a big purchase (or any size for that matter) for something like a brand new car, or before booking your dream vacation you’ve been saving up for all year or even before deciding to spend $50 at the movies on the latest blockbuster release that you’ve been anxiously waiting to see for months; many of us turn to the internet first to check out their online reviews.

It’s our natural instinct and frankly our prerogative to do so especially nowadays when with just the click of a button you have the whole world at your fingertips.  Also, who wouldn’t want to read some reviews first before deciding whether or not this is the right product or service for you, especially when you may potentially be about to spend a lot of your hard earned money on it.  But what happens when those reviews turn out to be mostly negative ones?

It’s every businesses nightmare, getting negative feedback from dissatisfied customers, clients or even patients.  An online review has the potential to destroy a business in that same click of a button that we use to seek out those comments, but at the same time they may also have the potential to help a business to flourish too.  So who do you listen to?

When scrolling through and reading each comment we are more likely to re-read the negative ones and trust them to be more credible even if we want so badly to believe the positive ones as well, but we often become clouded by all the negativity.  Online reviews are very subjective and circumstantial for no two people are the same and no two experiences are the exact same either so it’s always best to have an open mind while reading them.

The thing is my mind only sees, feels and hears negativity and this week I have been researching and consulting with many potential inpatient treatment centers and other services only to become more and more overwhelmed as I sift through the 100’s of reviews.  I want so badly to believe in that one positive review, the one that could potentially save my life but instead I only see the possibility for failure.

I’ve tried reading between the lines or only reading reviews that are prevalent to my situation but many of these reviews I actually know to have the potential to be true as I have experienced some of it with my own two eyes.  It’s very easy to post a review and how do I know if that one raving 5 star review isn’t from the director or owner’s own mother; like come on, you know you would do it for your own kid anyday! But when you continue to see a lot of commonalities in the tone of the comments, good or bad, it becomes more confusing, more frustrating and even more overwhelming.

I have been literally hanging on by the end of my rope the last couple of weeks and feeling completely helpless at this point and these reviews of potential life-changing treatments and services (most of which are not in Canada and would cost a lot of money, even the ones in Canada would too) has been all I can focus on right now which of course just sets me up for further anxiety and sadness.

So I’m putting it out there and asking you for your input and I beg the question (literally); which reviews do you believe and which ones do you take with a grain of salt?  I mean I’ve read enough horrible reviews on restaurants or blockbuster movies only to come out of them having thoroughly enjoyed my experience, but none of that is gonna lead to a healthier, happier me.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS, DECISIONS

I second guess every aspect of my life, I’m apprehensive about everything I do or say and I most definitely can’t make a decision if my life depended on it, which for me these days feels like it actually may.

Every day we probably face having to make 100’s of decisions, many of which may be in our subconscious.  Some mornings we might wake up and wonder which pair of shoes should I choose to wear with my new outfit today or maybe we can’t decide whether or not we should make chicken or hamburgers for dinner and sometimes we may find ourselves debating between which Netflix series we should start binge watching next.

Of course none of these decisions I mentioned are in any way life threatening to you or your loved ones and are actually quite frivolous to most of us, but when you suffer with depression and anxiety like I do even the most microscopic decisions can seem catastrophic.

Decision-making is a form of problem-solving which is a very important skill to have in helping us reach the best possible resolution or at least an adequate one but for me it can be pure torture mostly due to my negative self-talk, indecisiveness and fear.  I can best describe my decision-making skills to being that of a contestant on the popular game show “Let’s Make A Deal” where he or she is offered a notable prize by the host but then must make the decision as to whether or not they walk away with that prize or trade it in for what is hidden behind curtain number 1, 2 or 3.  Not knowing whether or not their decision to “roll the dice” may afford them with an even better prize like a trip to Hawaii, they are often seen walking away with such disappointment when they end up choosing the curtain with nothing more than a pet donkey behind it.

That is exactly how I feel each and every time I need to make a decision, I feel like an ass!  I feel like every decision I make is the wrong one, clouded by harmful and pessimistic thinking and that my poor judgement will have some kind of a future negative impact on me and whomever may be involved.  It can be the simplest decision that I need to make and it will still cause me pain, confusion and panic which is why I often leave the decision-making process up to others to avoid the overwhelming regret that overpowers me.

Sometimes I try to just go with my first instinct too but quickly the negative self-talk, indecisiveness and fear set in.  This past week has been extremely overwhelming and I am now faced with having to make some pretty “big” life altering decisions which is only creating more anxiety and further sadness for me.  My cognitive ability to perceive or to read information clearly is fogged by irrational thoughts, poor judgment and the inability to think about anything other than failure. So I’m asking for your help in my decision-making process which is ‘do you think I should go this way or that way?’

I Don’t Think I Can Get More Honest Than This

I DON’T THINK I CAN BE MORE HONEST THAN THIS

*Sensitive and Triggering Content*

I did something the other day that I shouldn’t have.  I ingested something the other day that I shouldn’t have (a lot of something).  But let me explain myself first, you see I had a very good reason to, even if you don’t believe that could possibly be true, but you see, my illness made me do it.

Less than 24 hours earlier I found myself going through the motions yet again in another hospital emergency room, the one hospital that I had been trying to avoid as it is the one that I have spent close to 5 months in throughout my journey and I have many triggering panic attacks from my time there (but lucky for me I have lost an entire month of my memory due to having electric shock therapy during one of those stays).  The triggers can be as simple as a smell or even some type of noise but as I discovered about a week ago it can even be associated with certain elevators, the kind that is that actually vocalizes which floor you are arriving at.

The hospital was of course quite busy and we had to wait a while to register but once I did so I was accompanied to a quieter area in the emergency room.  I know the drill very well by now. Once inside the room my anxiety went from zero to a hundred within minutes (well I am never really ever entirely at zero when it comes to my anxiety).  I had agreed prior to going there that maybe it was the best option for me as I was very familiar with the hospital and I knew what to expect but in those first brief moments sitting in the room I realized I was wrong and every single one of those triggers came flooding through my body.  The smells, the noises, the recent fear of those elevators, the nurses I despise and the reality that they have been unsuccessful in helping me before.

I know, I know, it’s not about all that, it’s about my safety, but I didn’t care, it’s too anxiety provoking.  The nurse who was under my care felt the panic in my bones and made me promise to at least stay to talk with the doctor and so I did.  I spoke with him for quite a while, he listened and asked a lot of questions, none that I haven’t heard a million times before. I answered all of his questions honestly and then told him I honestly need to go home and he agreed to let me go, even after telling him I had active thoughts of harming myself.  He did do one other thing though before letting me leave, he called the outpatient crisis department to set me up with one of their psychiatrists to meet with later in the week, but you see when they called me I was told that since I am no longer on medication and will not even entertain the thought of taking one more medication again due to the 20 others I’ve tried and failed at miserably, they will not see me (which is basically the only thing the inpatient department would have tried to do as well).

So now we arrive back to Wednesday afternoon, an afternoon where I had a migraine from spending the entire night before crying and realizing that I will never get better, that I am a failure and helpless and that there is nothing else that can be done for me unless I can afford private institutions where they don’t push medication but instead help you heal your brain with other methods, most of which don’t exist in Canada.  So that was when I did something I shouldn’t have and that is when I ingested something I shouldn’t have.

The pain was just too unbearable, all my effort I’ve put into to healing, all for what?  The thing is, nothing happened, even my migraine didn’t go away and I felt like a failure yet again so I carried on as business as usual for most of the night until the pain in my stomach became excruciating and the nausea insufferable which is when my husband realized what I had done, called poison control and carted me off to the nearby emergency room where I was treated and then eventually put on a mental health hold for up to 72 hours in another room, surrounded by security guards with only a hospital gown and cold bed to lay my head on while I anxiously awaited for morning until I could see the psychiatrist and get me the fuck out of there.

They gave me something to sleep, but I only slept for an hour and a half and just kept watching for the crisis team to arrive.  They eventually did, not even quite sure what time it was because I had no phone or clock, but I was thankful when they did. This hospital, along with the one I was at the night before, have a great deal of history on me in file so at least we could skip most of the preliminary questions this time.  I spoke honestly once again (although this time was post active suicidal thoughts) and once again I said I just need to go home. They too discussed the whole medicine part of their job as that is what hospitals in Ontario do. We discussed how I am desperately trying to pursue alternative treatments and they fully supported it and told me I should find somewhere to go in the States.

So home is where I am for now, and last night I did the even more unthinkable (Not in a harmful way this time), my husband and I reached out to @Dr.Phil’s team.  Yup desperate times call for desperate measures. My husband has already picked out his suit and happy socks he wants to wear when he gets the call, and when my kids find out about this I’m pretty sure they will probably go into hiding, well maybe after a trip to L.A that is!

Thank You From The Bottom Of My Heart

THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART

Before I begin I first need to tell you all just how grateful I am for all the love and support I have received over the past few days, not only toward me but toward my husband as well. I know that I have had an amazing support system standing behind me since day one and also by many who have entered my life since but this week I am beyond overwhelmed by the kindness of others. I have received so many encouraging and heartfelt messages both privately and on Social Media and I have placed each and every one of them deep inside my heart. I have been contacted by and visited with so many new and old friends (including my babysitter from when I was still living in Montreal as a young child). I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart even though words cannot truly express how much it has all really meant to me.

I am sure by now you may also realize that the last few days have been by far some of the worst days I’ve encountered throughout my journey. What I experienced the other night from our Healthcare System has left me feeling even further broken and scarred and has managed to take away what little hope I may have had left. But the worst part of it all for me is seeing the impact it has had on my husband who has also been left pretty darn broken and scarred himself.

I do not have the strength to go to the hospital even if it is being strongly “encouraged” and would mean giving my loved ones a sense of relief and security knowing that I am in a safe place. I truly feel like there is no point in going through the motions anymore as I know what is awaiting me on the other side including further panic, trauma and heartache. As I sit here writing this I am trying desperately to figure out what is really best for me right now. As someone who was diagnosed with Treatment Resistant Depression several years ago it has only made my journey that much more exhausting because there truly isn’t a conventional medication or treatment that I haven’t tried and all other avenues seem to be met with so many roadblocks. Being diagnosed with Treatment Resistant Depression basically means that a person with a major depressive disorder does not respond to typical medication and treatments used to manage or control depression.

I have told many of you through my writing about what my recovery has looked like for the past 4.5 years starting with the over 20 medications I have tried all of which have done nothing less than destroy me physically and leave me feeling no sense of relief mentally. I have been kept in several hospitals for 1 night, 2 weeks and over 3 months at a time where I have been pumped with more and more medication (all of which I stopped taking about 2 years ago), I’ve had Electric Shock Therapy (ECT) and I have even been a guinea pig for research on the effects that Ketamine can have to help ease the symptoms of Depression.

During these years I have also been involved in many group therapies and programs (which have sincerely taught me several useful skills, but not a cure) and I have also tried acupuncture, meditation, mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and much more, but through all of the above treatments/medications etc, traditional talk therapy has been the one constant in my life and I must mention that it has been the most helpful tool for me over this past year since finally finding a therapist who I am comfortable with.

So you can probably imagine now why someone such as myself would continue to feel hopeless, worthless and 100 percent discouraged because after years of continually making the effort to find that one treatment that may give me some sort of relief or that may stop me from fighting with those intrusive thoughts in my head there comes a time when you feel completely demoralized and defeated for fear that you will never get better.

As I stated earlier I am sitting here writing while I continue to struggle to figure out what I need right now and more importantly what I don’t need. I have spent the better part of the last few days asking myself that very question over and over and over again and I am so thankful knowing I have a safe place to turn to when I need to talk but I also know that our Healthcare System is failing so many people who are suffering with a mental illness and my heart and soul feel totally crushed knowing that it can’t give me what I need right now. Instead I find myself searching for alternative treatment programs that can treat my needs as an individual and not as a disorder but they too seem so unattainable for me and way beyond my reach or pocket book (So Dr. Phil if you’re reading this, I could use your help with some of your connections right about now!).

My Grim Reality

A GRIM REALITY
I made a promise to myself when I began to share my journey with you that I would be as open and honest as I can in order to end the stigma surrounding mental illness while trying to heal my hidden scars. So in keeping with my promise I wanted to take you inside another despairing side of my reality, one that I share with millions of others who also feel hopeless and scared.
Over the last month I have been feeling an overwhelming amount of vulnerability and it has been strongly “encouraged”, several times in the last little while that I go to the hospital in order to keep me safe and help me heal some of my mental and physical exhaustion (“encouraged” by the way is code for being told that the last thing anyone wants is to have to get the authorities involved, which, sadly I am no stranger to).
Hospital stays, whether it has been for 1 night or 3.5 months, have not proven to be much of a victory for me but I understand their necessity sometimes which is why last night I got the courage while desperately clinging to what little hope I have left in me and entered a hospital emergency room yet again (with my hubby by my side). After a few hours of meeting with several doctors and nurses I was told that they had no beds available and that they will be transferring me to a nearby hospital they are affiliated with and just so happens to be world renowned.
Panic began to hit me at the thought of doing this all over again and I wanted to run but it was too late. So we waited for the paperwork and headed to the next emergency room where I was told a team would be there to speak with me, and oh ya I was also told they had a bed for me…well guess what, they lied to us because there was no bed available and it was just a ploy and their way of passing the buck. And that is when I actually did run, right after being told that I would most likely be put on a 72 hour hold (something I was trying to avoid by voluntarily entering the hospital). A hold would mean I could not leave the hospital by law and would be left to wait in a holding area with only a hospital gown to wear until a bed became available.
I couldn’t do it and even my husband began to panic at the thought of leaving me there all alone. Last night broke me a little more and I didn’t think that was possible but all I wanted was to find that glimmer of hope and all I witnessed was how many desparate people there are out there suffering like me, trying to do the right thing, trying to find a safe place and trying to heal but are not able to because there are not enough beds to go around in order to keep up with the demand of people battling this cruel and relentless disease.
I am left this morning more confused than ever, feeling more hopeless than ever and wondering what now? Do I continue to hospital hop in hopes of finding a bed or do I allow my intrusive thoughts to win? How is any of this helpful or fair?
#sicknotweak #whatnow #endthestigmatogether #youareenough #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok

Hi My Name Is Kim and I Am An Empath

HI MY NAME IS KIM AND I AM AN EMPATH

*Very Sensitive Content*

I have always been a particularly sensitive person.  I have always been one to overthink and overanalyze just about every aspect of my life.  I have always paid very close attention to detail and I am an extremely well organized individual. I have also always been very intuitive to other people’s moods, behaviours and actions.  Hi my name is Kim and I am an empath.

An empath is someone who will experience the world through their great intuition and most often will consume and absorb other people’s emotions and/or physical pain as their own much more deeply than others because they are highly sensitive individuals.  These traits can lead a seemingly happy person straight into the path of anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges when they become too overwhelmed with other people’s emotions.

As I have mentioned recently my mental health has become much more concerning for many of my loved ones and I am beginning to see it too.  I am also seeing that many of these heightened concerns stem from trying to find my own truth and they also stem from being an empath. Being an empath can create a world where you are always feeling the emotions and energy of others which only leaves you time to be happy when others around you are happy.  For me, being an empath can easily drain me when I am surrounded by negative people as well, also leaving me more exhausted than usual for no reason at all.

An empath will also do for others or feel drawn to help others far more quickly than they would for themselves letting themselves forget the importance of creating healthy boundaries.  They will often feel things before they actually happen or jump to conclusions unnecessarily allowing them to take responsibility for way too much, even things beyond their control or reach.  They have a difficult time letting go, they often lack self-confidence or self-esteem and care greatly about what others think while at the same time, carrying everyone else’s energy on their very weighted down shoulders.

These thoughts and emotions have become extremely agonizing, powerful and intense lately leaving me with an overwhelming desire, one that I will only leave to your imagination for now.   I know in reality that I can’t save the world, or more specifically, those that I love the most and that right now in order for me to feel more mentally stable I first need to find ways in which to try and save myself.  But my mantra of “I choose me” is one that seems to have fallen by the wayside recently and when feeling completely depleted as I do now, the thought of using that oxygen mask on myself first in order to help others seems quite fictitious even though it may be proven to be essential.

Oh and creating those healthy boundaries, they too have gone right out the window as well.  Saying no to people is harder than you think and surrounding yourself with toxic people that know no boundaries will only drain your own emotional needs even further.  I need to practice how to release and separate my own emotions from someone else’s which is also not as easy as one may think but can be done and maybe if I start slowly like by turning off CNN or stop obsessing over the latest updates from Dateline and 48 Hours it can be successfully accomplished.

You see, being an empath or a highly sensitive person is not necessarily a bad thing, but often brings with it a very powerful and overwhelming imbalance in one’s life which needs to be managed delicately to ensure that in order to help empower others you must first learn how to empower yourself.

How Many Hugs Have You Had Today?

HOW MANY HUGS HAVE YOU HAD TODAY?

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard the Huggies commercial many times over relaying the message to its viewers about the importance of hugging.  I’m also pretty sure that as you are reading this that you may have even started singing the lyrics to the song in your head. Huggies is sending out a very captivating and compelling message to their viewers and consumers alike through the power of advertising, letting everyone watching know that “we all need a hug in the morning and one at the end of the day, and as many as possible squeezed in between to keep life’s troubles at bay.”  It finishes off by telling us that “it’s my belief that for instant relief, a hug is the best cure of all.”

Before this Huggies campaign ever began though, another individual from Australia started a social movement that involved holding up a large sign which simply read “Free Hugs”.  He carried this sign with him in very large open spaces encouraging strangers to give and receive hugs from one another after a random hug from a stranger made an immense impact on a depressive period in his life. The outcome was incredible and this random act of kindness got him international attention, a youtube video produced and even a guest appearance on the Oprah show.

The reason that such advertisements and campaigns which I have mentioned above work so well is because there is actual scientific proof that a hug is good for you.  From the moment that a baby is born we begin to create a bond with them in the form of a hug which can help strengthen their immune system and brain development while building the foundation for an intimate, loving and safe environment.

Hugging may begin at birth but you never outgrow it.  Hugs become a part of our everyday lives right up until the day that we die.  We give hugs to one another to show our happiness or excitement towards one another and many of us appreciate a welcomed hug when we are in need of comfort or feeling sad.  It is probably the most universally used non-verbal gesture around spanning across every culture, every environment and every language; and the best part of all is that they are free.

Whether someone is feeling happy or sad a hug has so many health benefits (but in this day in age it’s often best to ask someone for permission to hug them if you are not in close relation to them!).  A hug can help to relieve someone’s pain & suffering, help to dissipate their fear or anxiety, help to reduce their feelings of loneliness or isolation, help to reduce someone’s high blood pressure and help to bring an overall sense of security and happiness to a person’s well-being.

Yesterday was a very difficult day for me, a day that I haven’t felt in quite a long time, a day too hard to open up about at the moment and a day where I really needed a hug.  But I am not always one to welcome a hug because I find sometimes it makes me feel very claustrophobic when someone is touching me and at the same time I can get extremely emotional.  I find my mind begin to race when I receive a hug from someone, especially if that someone is a close friend or family member. Yet like yesterday when I needed a hug the most, and by allowing for that much needed hug to occur I immediately realized how important a hug truly is and how much a hug can truly benefit a person’s self-worth, a person feeling so hopeless and defeated can feel a sense of calm, and the longer the hug, the better.

According to Jack Canfield who is a renowned motivational speaker and probably best known as author of the “Chicken Soup For The Soul” books says (through research) that “People need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 hugs for maintenance and 12 hugs for growth.”   This seems like a worthy enough experiment for everyone to try (especially in the sad state of the world right now), one that shouldn’t be too difficult to accomplish and really there is absolutely no harm in it, only healthy and hearty benefits. So happy hugging everyone!

In A Dark Place; Unleashing Pandora’s Box

IN A DARK PLACE; UNLEASHING PANDORA’S BOX

*Very Sensitive Content*

I have been suffering with depression for well over 4 years now and it’s a daily battle of self-hate.  Some days are easier than others and even some weeks too but when I am in the throes of a major episode I sometimes don’t even know how to explain it to others, I sometimes can’t explain it to others and many times I fear having to explain it to others; it’s exhausting.

As I have mentioned recently, I’ve been in the throes of a major episode for close to a month now but how can I truly explain what I am feeling or thinking when there are no words to describe it.  Well to be honest there are actually many words to describe what I am feeling and thinking but when I say them out loud it’s as though I have just opened up Pandora’s Box and all of the evil interpretations that come along with it.

Opening Pandora’s Box means that I am unleashing my demons into the world that surrounds me and allowing the relationships I cherish the most to have to endure my pain and desperation too, which is the last thing I ever want to do.  Along with them having to endure my pain and desperation I am also burdening them with my despair and hopelessness which for me may only further aggravate the situation.

As I said before, it’s exhausting having to explain my feelings and thoughts to others even when I know they are listening to me from a place of love but when my days or weeks become too dark my explanations become too dark and scary as well.  Should I tell you that I’m just tired or that I’m tired because my sleep is disrupted by inconceivable emotions and fears? Should I tell you that I feel like crap and that I have terrible pains throughout my body from my restless and disruptive illness?  Should I tell you that my illness has worn me down to nothing and that I am done fighting, that I don’t have the strength to go on anymore because that is the only way for me to truly explain my darkest days.

When I’m in this very dark place I feel as though my depression has won the battle, that is if there really are any winners in this situation.  While in the throes of such a major episode of depression is a very scary, lonely and isolating place to be as you are terrified of living inside of Pandora’s Box.

In the story of Pandora’s Box in Greek Mythology, Pandora receives a box on her wedding day but is warned never to open it.  Much to everyone’s dismay, Pandora’s curiosity gets the best of her and she opens the box which in turn unleashes countless troubles upon her world.   I sometimes feel like I keep opening Pandora’s Box and unleashing those same troubles too but only this time they are being unleashed on my very own surrounding world.  I know this feeling isn’t coming from a place of curiosity but instead from a place of vulnerability and pain.

If I just leave the box closed I will no longer hurt the people I love and who love me but at the same time I also see Pandora as a courageous and brave young woman because she fought against adversity by opening up that box.  She may have first created further pain, hatred, judgement and potentially death but at the same time that she was releasing her demons she found the strength to firmly slam the box shut just in time to keep “hope” inside. To me that is truly the moral of this story because after all it’s no coincidence that the one good thing stayed securely inside the box in order to help support all of her future struggles.

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