If Only…

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I just saw this graphic on Twitter, and it caught my attention. I actually have food allergies or sensitivities to many foods, especially corn, can’t eat it at all. I am also allergic to casein (a milk protein, so all dairy that has protein in it but not dairy fat 🙂 ) bananas, avocados, pork, cumin, and a few more things. So I’ve actually been on elimination diets for years, to find out definitively what I am allergic to. First you eliminate the foods that the allergy tests show you as being allergic to them. You eliminate these foods for a few months, then you add back one food at a time to see if your symptoms come back. My symptoms are not gastrointestinal, my symptoms are joint pain, so sometimes it’s difficult to say whether I am reacting to a food. Anyway, I have tried to tease out the foods that I can eat and the ones I can’t.

Also it’s very interesting to note that people with mental illness often have inflammation and immune illnesses as well. There is definitely a connection, although it is not known for certain what it is. The gut has it’s own immune system (GALT) and it own “brain” also known as the enteric nervous system, and there is extensive signaling between the gut and the nervous system. Anxiety and depression affect conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and vice versa. Also the neurons in the gut make a lot of the body’s serotonin and this is influenced by our microbiota in the gut.

All is interconnected!

About the graphic above, I really like it, if only it was easy to undertake and be successful at eliminating anger, regret, resentment, guilt, blame and worry! Life would be quite divine. I don’t know why these negative emotions are so difficult to banish, whereas the positive ones just fly away so easily.

One more I’d definitely add to this list is fear. In fact, might all of the emotions not be some derivation of fear? Fear is a survival tool, but feeling it at times when it is not warranted for our survival is so counterproductive and also leads to anxiety, a downwards spiral from which it may be difficult to recover.

Practicing fearlessness, when in the midst of anxiety and fear, it is very difficult, but in instances when I have done it, I have mostly been rewarded by a sense of accomplishment and bravery.

Anyway, I will try to go on this particular elimination diet as much as I can.

 

Fear is everywhere, it is anger, it is anxiety, it is hopelessness and so much more. How do we help ourselves overcome it?

Fear is everywhere, it is anger, anxiety, hopelessness. It is a primal emotion which has helped us survive, evolutionarily. But now our fear response can be triggered because of non urgent events. And we can react by getting angry, getting anxious, having all the negative emotions. It activates our fight or flight or freeze response. We can become habituated to feel fear, anger, anxious, hopeless, etc, etc. And we try to get away from these emotions, we run away from them.But that doesn’t work. What do we do about it? We accept it, we sit with it in meditation. Every time we feel fear and anger means we have hit a boundary in our life. Meaning fear is at the outer limit of what is acceptable to us. We have reached our limits. And we experience fear. We can sit with it, we can push against it and this is growth. When we reach out outer edges, we can either be fearful, or we can accept the fear and push back, and that is where growth happens for us. So as frightening as fear, anger, anxiety are, they are the catalysts for our own growth!

Keep listening, she’s really good!

Men & Depression: NHL Goalie, Clint Malarchuck

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This is an interview that Clint Malarchuk did for ESPERANZA Hope Magazine. I’ve been looking for it and finally found it. It’s a brilliant interview. Very worth everyone’s time to read.

http://www.hopetocope.com/men-depression-nhl-goalie-clint-malarchuck/

The former hockey goalie shares his story on confronting his depression and anxiety.

By Linda Childers

There was a time when the face mask Clint Malarchuk wore as protection against hurtling hockey pucks mirrored the façade he donned to get through the day. In a rough-and-tumble sport where players are valued for their “manly” ability to get physical and play aggressively, the award-winning goaltender became a master at hiding the inner turmoil of anxiety and depression.

“Goalies are the guy everyone looks to for confidence,” explains Malarchuk, who began his professional hockey career before he turned 21. With his high-pressure job plus the stress of keeping up appearances, he says, “I felt that I had to be twice as strong.”

Over 14 years, Malarchuk tended the crease for the National Hockey League’s Quebec Nordiques, Washington Capitals, and Buffalo Sabres before finishing out his playing days with the Las Vegas Thunder of the International Hockey League. When he was out on the ice, immersed in a game, he was able to find some peace. Off the ice, not so much.

“In the locker room, I was the easygoing clown of the team, yet inside, I felt like my brain was on fire,” he recalls.

From puck drop to final whistle, Malarchuk was focused on “the save”—keeping the puck from entering the net. Nowadays “save” has a different interpretation for him—as in, keeping others who grapple with mental distress from feeling alone and hopeless.

He’s a powerful role model for other men. When he speaks in public, Malarchuk tries to stress that depression isn’t just a “woman’s disease” and how important it is for men to confront their depression and seek out treatment.

“I always knew I was physically tough, but I believed I was mentally weak until I started talking to other men and finding out how many of them also suffered from depression,” he says.

At a recent event, Malarchuk recalls, he was approached by a father and his teenage son.  Malarchuk told the young man something he wished someone had shared with him at an earlier age.

“I emphasized how there’s help … not only in the form of medication, but also in therapy, and in talking openly with others.”

‘COWBOY UP’

Malarchuk, 53, details his own struggles in his new memoir, A Matter of Inches: How I Survived in the Crease and Beyond (titled The Crazy Game in Canada). Take that “survived” literally: In a horrifying 1989 incident—witnessed by a nation of TV viewers tuned in to a Buffalo Sabres game—Malarchuk nearly lost his life when a skate blade slashed his neck.

The accident left Malarchuk with post-traumatic stress disorder—although it wasn’t diagnosed until years later—and deepened an emotional maelstrom that began during his difficult boyhood. He got a very different message then from the one he now promotes.

“From childhood, I was taught to cowboy up and move on,” says Malarchuk, who was raised on a ranch in Edmonton, Alberta.

His mask was already in place as he struggled through school and spent restless nights at the mercy of his anxiety and fear. “I remember thinking I was the only person on the planet who felt like their head was always spinning,” he says.

When he was skating, hockey stick in hand, the spinning stopped. The ice was his refuge, and the ebb and flow of the game would override his troubled thoughts. Malarchuk threw himself into the sport—and into obsessive conditioning. He would run 12 to 20 miles each day, lift weights, and box.

The “man up” message also drove Malarchuk to less healthy ways of coping: drinking heavily and erupting in anger.

“I don’t get angry anymore, but in the past, my drinking would often lead to me picking fights and being verbally abusive. I wasn’t even aware of some of the things I said when I lashed out,” Malarchuk recalls. “When I relapsed, I was angry at myself for not being strong enough to control the feelings I thought I had put behind me.”

After working with the team’s doctors and then a psychiatrist who diagnosed his obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression, Malarchuk finally found medication “that helped tremendously.” It also helped with shame and self-doubt when the psychiatrist “compared taking antidepressants to a diabetic needing insulin,” he recalls. “The doctor was the first to explain that my OCD and depression were the result of a chemical imbalance.”

While medication didn’t erase all Malarchuk’s symptoms, it did serve to quiet his mind. He continued his hockey career as a goalie and, after hanging up his jersey in 1996, as a coach.

BETTER TOOLS

Learning to manage his depression has been an ongoing enterprise. After a serious relapse in 2008, Malarchuk finally sought out talk therapy. He was challenged to face unresolved emotions related to his traumatic neck injury years earlier.

“In therapy, I had to … cry, and to acknowledge my feelings,” he admits.

He also learned more about overall mental wellness.

“I’ve tried to change my habits and focus on staying in the right emotional, mental and spiritual state,” he says.

Malarchuk relapsed again while writing his memoir, turning back to old coping methods as old anguish resurfaced. He was goaltender coach for the Calgary Flames at the time, and team administrators offered to send him to a treatment center. Part of the month-long rehab involved targeting the underlying causes of his alcohol use.

Malarchuk says he learned more about tools like self-talk, personal time-outs, problem-solving and relaxation techniques.

Last summer, Malarchuk began a new chapter in his life. He retired from hockey to live full-time on his ranch in Nevada, where he’s been raising emus for years. He is devoting himself to a second career as an equine chiropractor and dentist.

Malarchuk is living the dream, part 2. As a teen, he worked as a ranch hand during summers and thought about becoming a veterinarian. Throughout his hockey years—the dream, part 1—he maintained a love for horses, ranching, and rodeo. (Thus his nickname “the cowboy goalie.”)

“Being around horses comforts me,” Malarchuk says. “The smell of the barn and the horses, even watching them eat calms me.”

(He also gets some animal therapy from one of the house dogs, a Yorkie, “who senses when I’m anxious or upset,” Malarchuk says. “He’ll come up to me and want to nuzzle close to my neck and offer comfort.”)

FAMILY MAN

Where playing hockey was once his escape, now the barn is Malarchuk’s refuge. His office is there, and a gym space where he lifts weights and works out every day he’s home.

“Sometimes when I start to feel down or anxious, I’ll tell my wife, Joanie that I need to take some time out and go to the barn to meditate,” Malarchuk says. “Joanie has been very supportive and is great about encouraging me to do whatever I need to, in order to stay healthy mentally.”

A father of three, with one teenage daughter still in the nest, Malarchuk tries to be open with his children about his depression. He recalls one occasion last winter when depressive symptoms arose and he began to cry. Instead of hiding away, he asked his daughter to come sit with him.

“I asked if she had ever felt depressed, and I told her that no matter what she was going through, that she could always talk to me,” he explains.
Malarchuk hopes he can be there for his own children the way his mom, Jean, has been there for him.

“My mom and I are very close,” he says. “She has always supported me through good and bad, and I don’t know what I would do without her and Joanie in my life.”

In recent months, Malarchuk and his wife have been traveling across North America to promote his book. At book signings and in emails, other men often thank him for “being honest about my feelings because it has helped them to be more open and to better manage their own depression,” Malarchuk says. “I also get e-mails from women who thank me for helping their husband or their son realize that depression is a true illness.”

In the past, Malarchuk’s honesty has opened him up to attacks that he’s somehow weak. He’s heard taunts—“Hey, Malarchuk, pop another pill.” He recognizes that depression can be hard to understand for someone who hasn’t been through it. That’s partly why he’s so passionate about speaking out.

“I used to think my purpose in life was being in the NHL as a player and then a coach,” Malarchuk says. “I realize now that playing hockey gave me the platform for my real purpose—to raise awareness of mental illness, and to help reduce the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety so that no one has to feel alone.”

Sidebar: How Clint copes

By looking outward: Malarchuk has learned that focusing his energy on helping others is an antidote for his own depression, whether it’s caring for horses or answering e-mails from people who write him about their struggles.

By looking inward: Malarchuk practices his own form of meditation. “I lay down and read a book of daily reflections, and I meditate on the reflection,” he says. “I also use this time to pray about the things in my life that I have control over, and that I can take charge of, while releasing the things that are beyond my control to a higher power.”

By looking beyond: When Malarchuk begins to feel anxious or depressed, he searches for the root cause. He was experiencing symptoms after a recent trip and determined that he hadn’t been sleeping enough while traveling. “I’ve learned that it’s important for me to get 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night in order to feel my best,” he notes.

Dealing with Anger in the Buddhist Way.

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Anger is a major issue in mood disorders. When you are manic, anger is never far away. Depression and anger often go hand in hand. Addiction disorders can have anger issues. Drugs and alcohol can actually decrease your ability to handle anger. Anxiety can lead to anger. Borderline personality disorder comes with a lot of anger. And of course, the grand daddy of all angry disorders, Intermittent Explosive Disorder or IED (ha!) is all about anger.

Not only mental illnesses and disorders carry anger with them as a symptom, but life can be full of anger. Adolescents have a hard time managing their anger, there are moments in life when perfectly calm, sane people become incredibly anger.

So what does one do to handle anger? Does one try to squash it? Does one lock oneself in their room and punch a pillow? No this does not work, in fact it may make your anger stronger. Do you try to outrun it? Self medicate it away?

No. Thich Naht Hahn’s (Thay’s) advise on how to handle anger is amazing. He says the only antidote for violence, for anger is compassion. There is no other way. But how to generate the energy of compassion? The way you cultivate compassion is to recognize suffering in the person with whom you are angry. It is the suffering in this person which causes him to use words or actions which make you angry and make you suffer. Thay says the anger in him waters the anger in you. Thay says the violence in him waters the violence in you. So to breathe in and out mindfully, and to look at the other person is a victim of his own violence, his own suffering, his own misunderstanding is very important. This is the teaching of Buddha, look at suffering and understand suffering. When you can understand your own suffering, you can understand the suffering of the other person. Understanding suffering always brings compassion. Try to understand the cause of anger and suffering, the understanding always brings the energy of transformation. Also with the energy of mindfulness and attention to your anger and to the situation will also turn your anger into compassion. If you tenderly embrace the energy of anger with the energy of mindfulness, then you suffer less.

Transform anger into compassion, by looking at the suffering of the person with whom you are angry. Once you can look at the other’s suffering, your anger will vanish. Look upon yourself with compassion. Even hold your anger gently, embrace it as if it was your own child. What amazing concepts. So understanding suffering will turn the leaden anger into golden compassion. Viola alchemy!

Hope this little post and especially the accompanying video of Thich Nhat Hahn will help everyone who needs help in dealing with anger. And that is all of us at one time or another.

The video is below and it is amazing!

http://amara.org/en/videos/gVn4SD8laNDH/info/how-can-i-not-let-my-anger-explode/