mental health

Sage

Oftentimes when others walk away or inflict hurt upon us, we are left questioning ourselves. We dissect every memory, moment and action to search for answers of what went wrong. Our self worth begins to crumble.

Sometimes, what happens is that the toxic person who hurt you is bringing you down in order to justify their actions. People don’t like to own up to their mistakes or take responsibility for their actions, and they get away with it by adding insult to injury.

While you are feeling blindsided, broken or down, they get you to believe that it is all your fault. Just remember that you are going to get through this and you will look back and appreciate your growth and outcome, as hard as it may be to see now.

mental health

Can psychotherapy change sexual orientation?

Can psychotherapy change sexual orientation? 

*Written for my Psychology 2 reaction assignment

            The topic of homosexuality being a psychiatric or psychological issue has become a taboo discussion, criticizing therapists as being homophobic or prejudice. Many homosexuals struggle with rejection, violence, hatred, and shame for their orientation. When a field of professionals label sexual orientation as an illness or deviation as a result of a developmental defect, it is harmful and dangerous.

Research has shown that homosexuality in animals is more common than we thought. There have been discoveries of homosexual behavior in animals in more than 10% of species throughout the world in over 450 different animals (Yale Scientific). The existence of particular animals displaying homosexual behavior is not only prevalent but may also be an evolutionary advantage by strengthening social bonds and reducing competition.

The human species is obviously more complex than animals when you factor our environment, upbringing, and many other aspects make our lives much more diverse. That being said, how can animals exhibiting homosexual behavior be compared to humans? It simply cannot be a logical comparison; therefore stating that homosexuality is psychiatric for a human does not make sense when you include other species. You don’t look at the two beautiful male giraffes necking one another at the zoo and think, “what is wrong with them?” In nature, it is not an obscure thing to see two same-sex creatures together.

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) made history by removing homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses. However, forty years later, the LGBTQ community is still struggling with achieving that reality as they are denied services, rights, employment and so on. The APA continues to advocate for the homosexual community, opposing conversion therapy and opposing the Trump Administration ban on qualified trans-gender people serving in the military (Human Rights Campaign).

Efforts to change homosexual orientation lack medical justification since it cannot be considered a pathological condition (Gantt). Sexual orientation has a natural variation that is not harmful, nor does it have any effect on those around them. Conversion therapy, a pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation, is a dangerous and discredited practice.

In biblical times, being left-handed was a curse and a weakness. Throughout history, children were forced to use their right hand. Sinister is the Latin word for left-handed and was considered a defect and a carrier of misfortune. Attempts to treat this “defect” resulted in humiliation and learning difficulties (Gantt). When you think about how ridiculous this seemed, consider how ridiculous it is to ridicule any species for their sexual orientation.

 

 

 

References

Fereydooni, A. (2012). Do Animals Exhibit Homosexuality? Yale Scientific. Retrieved from: http://www.yalescientific.org/2012/03/do-animals-exhibit-homosexuality/

Gantt, E. (2018). Taking Sides, Clashing Views on Psychological Issues. United States: McGraw-Hill Education.

Human Rights Campaign. (2019). Retrieved from: http://hrc.org/blog/flashbackfriday-today-in-1973-the-apa-removed-homosexuality-from-list-of-me

 

 

mental health

30 Day Mental Health Challenge

Check off each day as you go. If you miss a day, go back to it and complete at the end.

Feel free to share any of your challenges and activities on Instagram with #30DayBlu

  • Day 1: Write a list of your goals for the month
  • Day 2: Put your headphones on and go on a 15 minute walk.
  • Day 3: Treat yourself! Whether it is a concert, hot bath, massage or ice cream… you deserve it.
  • Day 4: Write a letter to someone who hurt you and then burn it.
  • Day 5: No phone for the evening! Shut off your phone before dinner and don’t touch it till morning.
  • Day 6: Start a new book or continue reading the book that you haven’t finished yet.
  • Day 7: Compliment 3 complete strangers
  • Day 8: Plan a mini adventure for your next day off. Check out a nearby town. Go to a museum or garden, for example.
  • Day 9: Reach out to a person you have been out of touch with; ask them how they’ve been.
  • Day 10: Clean your closet and donate what you don’t use or wear anymore
  • Day 11: Try something new! Go to a yoga class or an art class.
  • Day 12: Look in the mirror and tell yourself 3 great things about yourself
  • Day 13: Cut something toxic out of your life. Examples: a bad habit, toxic relationship, sugar addiction.
  • Day 14: Health day! Smoothies, salads and clean eating. Focus on health and nutrition today.
  • Day 15: Spend 15 minutes stretching and focusing on breathing.
  • Day 16: Do something nice and unexpected for someone.
  • Day 17: Be present. Make eye contact all day, with each conversation you have. Even if it is the cashier at the grocery store. Be aware of your surroundings and listen.
  • Day 16: Get a jar and fill it with all the loose change you find throughout the day. Label it with your choice: vacation, anniversary, Christmas funds, new shoes, massage…
  • Day 17: No social media till noon! Check on your list of goals for the month or catch up on a day you missed.
  • Day 18: Learn something new. Spend 15 minutes reading or researching about an interesting topic.
  • Day 19: Art day! Create something: a drawing, poem, painting, or anything of your choice. Check Pinterest if you are drawing a blank.
  • Day 20: Think of something you have done that you regret or are ashamed of. Forgive yourself. You are human and we make mistakes and grow from them. Think about what you learned. Follow with a self-care activity.
  • Day 21: Send a card or letter to a good friend or family member.
  • Day 22: Clean your nightstand, wash your bedding and plan to go to bed early tonight. No tv or phone! Focus on breathing and visualize the ocean or mountains.
  • Day 23: Forgive someone who never apologized. Think about how you were hurt and let it go. You owe it to yourself, not them.
  • Day 24: Donate some items to the Humane Society, local food pantry or women’s shelter.
  • Day 25: Do something outside of your comfort zone.
  • Day 26: Make that doctors appointment you have been putting off… your annual check up, routine bloodwork or that follow up and never went to.
  • Day 27: Check on your strong friends. Ask them how they are doing, reach out and give them an opportunity to open up. Those who appear put together sometimes have silent battles.
  • Day 28: Clean your vehicle. If you don’t have a vehicle then clean your bathroom or office.
  • Day 29: Photo day! Take photos of throughout the day to show your perspective through your eyes, but in black and white. Get creative.
  • Day 30: Pay it forward
Health, Travel

Travel and Self-Care Tips for Staying Healthy

*Published in March 2019 issue of The Beachside Resident

Traveling is good for the soul and while it can be therapeutic and fun, it can also be exhausting. Packing for a trip can be stressful. We never want to forget anything but there is always something, right?! Making a list can help you stay organized.

I always suggest packing a small health kit incase you get sick. Being sick when away from home is horrible. The last thing you want to do at midnight when you spike a fever, is to run out to a store in an unfamiliar town. I always make sure to cover everything from fevers to an upset stomach. When you are traveling, you get exposed to a lot of germs. Bringing 1000mg vitamin C supplements will help boost your immune system. I take 2-3 with each meal to prevent getting sick.

Always bring a good book. Watching movies can drain your phone and sometimes it is a nice break from that addictive glowing device. I also pack snacks. Think about this: it is late at night and you get the munchies. Having granola bars, cup of soup, fruit or muffins, will be convenient and affordable so you aren’t stuck with jet lag insomnia cravings.

Packing tea is always helpful too. The plane and any restaurant or hotel will offer hot water but the tea options are not always great. Buying tea at a coffee shop gets expensive. Ginger tea is great for inflammation and digestion. Peppermint will sooth an upset stomach and both lavender and chamomile are relaxing. Herbal teas have many beneficial uses that can help keep you comfortable on your trip.

I always bring Wildling Apothecary CBD oil. It is amazing for insomnia, anxiety, pain, inflammation, relaxation, headaches, skin and digestive issues. Wildling Apothecary’s Energy Sprinkles are crucial for traveling too. When we travel, we tend to burn the candle at both ends. This alkalizing greens mix helps stabilize the mood, keep electrolytes up, reduce illness, improve detoxification and increase energy.

In case you get a headache or just want to freshen the stagnant airport air, rubbing peppermint essential oil on your temples will help. It also calms the mind, keeps the mosquitoes away, soothes sunburns and relieve IBS. Peppermint oil is also great with shower steam for respiratory relief.

Banana Bag Drink is a powder you mix with water and drink to stay hydrated. It is loaded with vitamins and will prevent dehydration.

So, before you pack all of your favorite shoes and far too many clothes, make sure you leave room for self care products that will assist in keeping your immune system in good shape and allow time to relax. Most people get sick after a trip and you don’t have to be most people with these travel hacks.

Healthy Food

Sweet Thai Chili Tacos

*Published in March 2019 issue of The Beachside Resident

What you will need:

  • Your choice of protein: chicken, shrimp, tofu or veggies
  • Corn tortillas
  • Sweet Thai chili sauce
  • Gluten-free soy sauce
  • Turmeric
  • Cashews
  • Fresh basil
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Honey (or maple if vegan)
  • Asian slaw mix
  • Sriracha
  • Ginger

Directions

Sauté your choice of protein. I chose a vegan chicken substitute. Add turmeric, onion and garlic powder, and gluten-free soy sauce in the pan, cooking on medium heat. In a separate pan, lightly toast your cashews. Put the toasted cashews aside and use the same pan to heat your tortillas. When your protein is cooked, deglaze the pan with Thai chili sauce.

Asian Slaw

You can use an asian slaw pre-mixed bag or make your own. I usually get the pre-made bags from the store and throw away the sauce. The sauces are loaded with corn syrup and I prefer my homemade spin. For my sauce, I mix a little ribbon of Sriracha, equal parts of honey or maple syrup, gluten-free soy sauce and a pinch of ginger. Mix everything together and set aside.

Putting it all together

First, place your warm tortillas on your plate or in a taco stand, and partially fill with your protein of choice. Top with asian slaw, toasted cashews and fresh basil.

Recommended sides

I love either jasmine rice, quinoa and kale, or fried rice, topped with black beans. I also enjoy serving mini vegetable spring rolls as a side. This dish is Mexican-Thai fusion so it is fun to get creative and blend two different cuisine styles into one delicious dish. Have fun and enjoy!

Business Shoutout, Salon Life

Local Business Shoutout: Traditionals Cuts, Shaves & Brews in Melbourne, Florida

Traditionals Cuts, Shaves & Brews is a barbershop in Historic Eau Gallie Arts District of Melbourne, Florida. They are literally the new kids on the block, but with edge. They have officially been open for one year.

Becca Polak is the owner of the shop. With her chair in the front and a bar in the back, you can come here for a cold beer and a hot shave. Craft beer and boutique wines are available here and there is also an option to host a groom and his groomsmen for a clean up and brews before the big day. Executives can treat their team to cuts, headshots and bond over beers. 

The beer and wine cocktails are named after old punk rock songs. Being in the Arts District, artist takeovers are on the horizon to feature different artists in the shop. You can come here for fun themed nights like 80s night, Sunday Funday BBQ, New Wave Night , Goth Night and Motown Monday to name a few. 

This eclectic space is inspired by the weird. Becca welcomes people from all sides of the park and offers a safe space for everyone to express themselves, judgement free. She is over the “goth girl” getting stares and whispers while the punk rockers, surfers, musicians and skaters get judged. Not at Traditionals Cuts, Shaves & Brews where weird is cool! 

 

Becca loves to travel with her husband to different funky towns and their breweries, doing their homework on what it takes to have a quality bar and tasting the latest craft beers. She is inspired by New York’s lower east side, Vegas, Providence, and Chicago’s Wicker Park music and art scene. They are bringing back a little bit of everywhere to the Space Coast and shaking things up.

The bar is a no smoking zone with an up north basement bar vibe and a classy, clean ambience. Car and bike shows, punk rock flea markets and art shows are going to be brewing in this community. 

 

Traditionals teams up with The Salty Fox and their neighbor, The Standard Collective and made their corner a family.  Becca and her hard work are truly welcomed to Eau Gallie Arts District. 

*Originally written by Misti and posted with Four Magazines in March 2018

mental health

Are Antipsychotic Medications Safe?

I am a firm believer that everyone should have genetic testing done. Genetic testing will show which medication you do or do not metabolize as well as which medications you may have an abnormal reaction to. This includes blood thinners, seizure medications, pain medications and psychiatric medications.

Pharmocogentics testing for CYP450, CYP2D6, CYP2D19 genotypes will show personalized information on metabolism for antidepressants and antipsychotics. The MTHFR gene mutation is common in up to 40% of the population and can also alter the response to medications and actually can be the culprit of mental illness alone. The CACNA1C gene is responsible for flow of calcium into neurons and is linked to 5 mental health disorders.

Doctors treat mental illness like a one-size-fits-all standard diagnosis and treatment. Mental illness can be a result of many factors, such as a biochemical imbalance (vitamin deficiencies) rather than simply requiring SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) or blocking certain receptors. You have to ask yourself, “why does this medication’s adverse reactions include reactions that you are trying to treat?”

Some of these medications can increase the risk of getting diabetes, lower sex drive due to hormonal changes, cardiovascular disorders, involuntary muscle movements, seizures and even a drop in white blood cells.

FDA approval of an antipsychotic medication does not mean it is effective. The FDA only sees one or two of the best studies shown for short-term effectiveness. After 1987, doctors were shocked to have to admit that SSRIs could cause fatal reactions and induce psychosis, mania and depression (Gantt 2018). In fact, none of these drugs are allowed to claim that they may prevent suicide.

In Taking Sides: Psychological Issues, it states that at least 90% of the infamous homicidal school shooters were already under the care of a psychiatrist (or psych drug prescriber) and were either taking or withdrawing from one or more psychiatric drug. The other 10% are simply unknown due to their medical files being secured by authorities.

It is safe to say that these medications can do harm and may not be safe for everyone.

References:

Gantt, E. E., & Slife, B. (2018). Taking sides: Clashing views on psychological issues, 20th edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

http://www.mensahmedical.com/what-are-biochemical-imbalances/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0033318206700299

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-integrationist/201409/genetic-mutation-can-affect-mental-physical-health

Health, mental health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Rare Disease Day

It is Rare Disease Day so obviously I am jumping on this moment to raise awareness. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and a rare type, called cardiac-valvular EDS or cvEDS.

Hypermobility is very common with EDS. There are many, many other health issues that fall under the umbrella due to this collagen defect. Imagine your joints are like rubber, frequently popping out of place from even just a hug or rolling over in bed. Sometimes these joints stay out of place or wear down. It is a painful disease to many.

This does not only affect joints but can also affect your organs.

We are all different and we call ourselves Zebras because in the medical field, doctors and nurses are trained that when they hear hooves to look for horses not zebras. This mentality has caused me to go undiagnosed and medically neglected for my entire life, up until I had genetic testing last year. Despite my heart issues and frequent ER visits, being young and seemingly healthy has had me labeled as drug seeking or having anxiety attacks.

The reason why is because EDS and dysautonomia (dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system) does not show up on routine blood work. I have never done drugs, besides cannabis, and even after open heart surgery and a broken sternum I did not even finish my pain meds prescription. I have been treated as if I were an IV drug user, because in my area that is the only reason someone of my age would have this extent of damage to their heart. I am so incredibly thankful to now be taken seriously with a diagnosis, but it is bittersweet because this syndrome is progressive and for me, my heart is always at risk. In my recent echo, I have developed a dilated aortic root. This is beyond scary to me because EDS, especially cvEDS comes with aneurisms. Dealing with this type of diagnosis as well as chronic pain and illness is mentally exhausting.

I am passionate about awareness is because it took so fucking long to be heard. I suffered for so long not taking proper care of myself and not knowing the correct treatments. I have been called a hypochondriac by exes and have hidden behind a mask for years. I want others to know they are not alone and I want medical professionals to see us.

Health, mental health

How Can Anyone Heal With Toxic Positivity?

We are programmed to praise positivity and joy while shunning grief and sadness, which isolates those who need help. As children grow after years of being told to behave and smile, they become adults wearing masks. Our bodies suppress anger, pain, sorrow, suffering and negative emotions that we are not allowed to acknowledge. These buried feelings grow with no release as we walk rampant, showing our teeth to the world to presume only happiness exists within us.

Relationships deepen through vulnerability. People need to open up about their fears, not tuck them away to pretend life is perfect. The world sees strength defined as being tough and resistant to anything other than joy. Sensitivity is seen as weakness.

People need to open up about their sorrows, not hide them with a smile that says “I’m fine.” People need to discuss their anger, not bottle it up. People will explode. People will crumble.

How can anyone heal in an environment that doesn’t allow basic human emotion to breathe?

We are all responsible and need to change our way of thinking so that we can make others feel safe to talk and reach out.

Our culture is designed to suppress half of our basic human emotions, leaving us depressed actors.

It is time to face the reality that life is not perfect and human emotions are not linear. Life is hard and pretending that we are all okay is dangerously exhausting.

Stop telling people to suck it up or that they will be fine. Ask how you can help, listen, and pay attention to the subtle details. Check on your strong friends, your happy friends, and your quiet friends.

Take off your masks and let others know it’s okay to not be okay. It is okay to cry, to grieve, to be angry, to feel lost and to feel frustrated.

We are not robots.

We can’t heal by dreaming of rainbows to swallow our pain and trauma. We heal through a process. We prevent crumbling by expressing emotions. We cannot continue to build a stigma that negative emotions equal weakness. It is time to change the rules.