Healthy Food

Lavender Lemonade Recipe

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Wild Eclipse can be sipped warm or you can use it to add to lemonade for the perfect lavender infused lemonade that everyone will love. The herbs selected are also calming and relaxing, with other beneficial properties.

 

Lavender Lemonade Recipe:

In a large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and simmer, mixing in a half cup of organic cane sugar, add an ounce of maple syrup. Add two heaping tablespoons of Wild Eclipse and turn off the stove top to let infused simple syrup steep. 

Squeeze 1.5-2 cups of lemons. Strain simple syrup with a cheesecloth. Pour in pitcher and add ice until ice stops melting. Pour in lemon juice and stir. Serve cold. 

mental health

The 8 Stages Psychosocial Development

*This is an essay I wrote for my Human Adjustment class. 

Abstract

Erik Erikson is a German-American developmental psychologist who developed the theory of the eight stages of psychosocial development. His theories highlight the importance of social relationships rather than Freud’s theory of sexual influence. This paper focuses on the final stage, integrity vs. despair. When a person enters this stage, they will decide if their life has the sensation of satisfaction or failure. It will depend on how each psychosocial crisis from each stage has been resolved and whether or not the person feels they had a meaningful life.

 

Integrity vs. Despair: The Eighth Stage of Erikson’s Psychosocial Development

 

Erik Erikson, born in 1902, was a psychologist and psychoanalyst specializing in developmental psychology and personality development. Erikson is well known for his Psychosocial Development and for coming up with the phrase and meaning of identity crisis. He was born in Germany but later became an American citizen. Erikson died at the age of 91 in Massachusetts. Sigmund Freud and Ruth Benedict heavily influenced Erikson’s theories. Erikson trained under the supervision of Sigmund Freud’s daughter, Anna Freud. He later won a Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for his book Gandhi’s Truth.

Erikson’s mother gave birth to him out of wedlock and fled; therefore, his biological father’s identity was never known. Though his stepfather raised him, it was kept a secret that Erik was not his biological son until late childhood. This gave him the feeling of being deceived and thus began the development of his quest to discover the meaning of and search for identity, the nucleus of his body of work. The last name Erikson is actually a last name Erik created and changed to, from his stepfather’s last name of Homburger. Erikson’s lifelong feeling of deceit and search for his own identity did not carry on to influence his own behavior with his children. His forth son, Neil, was institutionalized because he had Down syndrome; Erikson deceitfully told his children that he had died at birth (Nevid 48).

Erik Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development is a theory of eight stages in which people pass through as they go through life. Each stage presents a challenge, leaving them with one of two outcomes, or a blend of both. Erikson believed that adolescence seek ego identity, unlike Freud’s theory, where the focus is more on sexuality rather than identity and who people see themselves as. Erikson also added stages beyond adolescence and into late adulthood.  If a person passes through each stage with a positive outcome, they will have healthy progression through life.

This paper will focus on Erikson’s final stage of psychosocial development, ego integrity vs. despair. Integrity vs. despair is the 8th stage of Erikson’s theory, which is experienced at the age of 65 and older. With each stage, a virtue is developed; for this final stage that virtue is wisdom. Wisdom is a sense of closure that helps with the acceptance of the inevitable end of life. Ego integrity develops when a person sees their life as accomplished and successful. Despair is developed when the person feels dissatisfied with their life, guilt, or unaccomplished. Despair leads to the feeling of hopelessness and depression (McLeod 2018).

Late adulthood begins at the age of 65. Life expectancy for women is the age of 81, and 76 for men, and continues to rise (2012). Physically, males’ testosterone levels lower as they age and for women, progesterone and estrogen decrease. Women have menopause and men have andropause. Decreased energy, lower bone density and muscle mass, cognitive impairment, low libido, and depression are common symptoms for men and women over the age of 60 (RUSH 2018). The endocrine system produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism, sexual function and mood. These levels decrease as we age. Life satisfactions tend to increase and then declines after the age of 65 (Nevid 468). According to WebMD, depression is common in late adulthood and can be harder to spot due to the way it presents itself. Depression is often overlooked in seniors because the symptoms are usually the same as general aging.

Cognitive change is part of aging and the brain can be affected in normal everyday tasks such as reasoning and memory. The number of Americans over the age of 65 is at an all time high (NIH). It is important for healthcare providers and loved ones to understand the cognitive changes as individuals age, and to differentiate between behaviors and impairments such as dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death; it is an irreversible brain disease resulting in the death of the brain cells, causing gradual deterioration in the mental processes (Nevid 464). Social changes in seniors may vary based on the outcome of their crises and their cognitive state.

The stage of ego integrity versus despair comes at a very tough time in life. Facing the approach of death or dealing with more and more health issues can be a challenge in itself. At this stage, one may question if their life had meaning. As a person moves through the stages of life, the previous stages and crises may influence how they choose their outcome. For example, the previous stage of generativity versus stagnation takes place during the ages of 40 to 65 years old. Generativity produces feelings of usefulness and accomplishment, such as volunteering, contributing to society or being involved in the community (McLeod 2018). In Generativitiy outcome leads to the sense of finding your life’s work and meaning. Failing to contribute produces the feeling of stagnation, or being stagnant in life with no motivation. The person may feel disconnected or uninvolved at this stage in life. As the person enters ego identity vs. despair, the conclusion of the prior stage can play a large role. If the person was feeling stagnation, it is likely they will feel despair in their final stage.

This final stage focuses on the person’s reflection of his or her own life. A person who lives in a state of despair will feel like they have failed themselves, did not accomplish their goals in life, and may feel as if their life was wasted. People in this stage will likely appear grumpy, miserable, bitter and angry, as they feel hopeless without any answers. In contrast, at the end of life, when a person accomplishes ego integrity, they will likely accept their death and feel proud and accomplished. The person will contemplate whether or not they had a successful and fulfilling life. Wisdom is accomplished when successfully balancing the two stages and ending with a sense of closure (McLeod, 2018).

The good news is that nothing is set in stone. Each person can continue to search for his or her ego identity, to find peace and closure from previous stages, by resolving the crises at a later time. If an individual is 65 or older and feels guilt and regret, making peace with their past and working through their feelings may help accomplish a positive outcome. Volunteering is an example of a healthy way to find a sense of satisfaction during this existential crisis. Erikson’s theory is meant to be a ‘tool to think with rather than a factual analysis,’ and provides a foundation to allow the consideration in which social stage of development a person is in throughout their lifespan.

 

References:

 

McLeod, Saul. Erik Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development. Simply Psychology, 2018https://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html

Nevid, Jeffrey S., and Spencer A. Rathus. Psychology and the Challenges of Life: Adjustment and Growth. Wiley, 2016

 Hormones as You Age. RUSH, 2018.http://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/hormones-you-age

Harada, Caroline N., et al. Normal Cognative Aging. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, 2014. http//:www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4015335/

 

Previous Blog Post: Drunk Dad also covers Erikson’s theory in a more personal way.

 

 

mental health

Bars, Friends, and Mental Health

My story and opinion may be different from the experiences of others, but it’s my story.

Friendship isn’t tapping your glasses together in a smokey bar. It isn’t a love that revolves around a bottle of booze. Relationships are deeper than a pint glass. It took me most, if not all, of my 20s to figure that out.

I found that when I removed alcohol from the equation, many friendships crumbled. There were no phone calls asking how I have been. No one checked up on me to see what was new in my life. I didn’t see any of those people anymore. Many people whom I considered friends were nothing more than strangers sharing blurry stories that would be forgotten the next morning. The only time spent together outside of drinking was to fill in the gaps while keeping a consistent flow of having reliable drinking buddies.

When the bar scene was ditched, gone were the calls, texts, visits and hangouts. Even after countless times of trying to establish friendship outside of bars, I was consistently stood up. No one wanted to get up early; they were nursing a hangover. No one wanted to go see a movie, there was a party going on somewhere. The “friends” only came out at night. I soon realized who my real friends were, and they weren’t at the bar.

Depression was something I ignored for a very long time. I never acknowledged it. I never considered that I had this huge dark cloud weighing me down, drowning me at times. I was barely hanging on and sometimes I even wondered, “what is the point?” I masked it all behind being social and pretending to be okay. My smile and laugh mimicked a good time, light and love. In reality, I was trying to forget the pain and trauma by floating in an alternate reality of being buzzed and numb with all my fake friends.

As the morning came and I faced myself in the mirror, I felt even more alone. I felt more lost and buried deeper into my state of depression. The wounds grew and I never ever asked for help. I had no intentions on asking for help. No one usually does.

I am fortunate to live to tell the story about how and why I stopped drinking. I hated me. I hated the choices I made and the way my body was starting to look. I hated how I felt the next day. I hated the regret and embarrassment. I hated the emptiness. So that was it: I chose that day to stop creating memories in a bar and to change the environment that I put myself in. I focused on the people who mattered and the ones who cared, even when I couldn’t see it at the time. The people I thought were my friends continue to live the same night every night, in the same bars with the same stories. I was out of sight and out of mind, replaced by another seat-warmer.

If you worry about someone’s mental health, ask them to meet you somewhere else. Check on them outside of social events. Hang out with them before the sun goes down. Misery loves company. Are you just with company or do you really care? Will you still be around if they trade the bar scene for their living room? If your friends are depressed, get them out of the bar.

If you worry about your own mental health, please evaluate your friendships and where you are hanging out. Ask for help because it’s likely that no one can see your pain behind the masks. Change your surroundings and change your scene, because it’s all going to be the same years from now. No one there wants to pour into your soul, they just want to pour you another glass.

At the end of the day, no one can help us. There are no magic words or healing advice that can save another. It’s up to you to spark a change in your own life. It’s up to you to seek help. No one can force you to get help. I still struggle but I make my mental health a priority and cut the toxic elements out of my life.

Suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Health

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying condition in which you hear ringing in the ears.

Silence for me is not silence at all. Silence means more noise. The ringing, it’s like a symphony of tones all at once. The infinite pitches echo forever. Everything is louder when it’s quite. Sometimes the ringing is so loud that it feels like my skull is vibrating. I also hear the blood rushing through my veins. Whoosh. Whoosh. My brain feels as though it throbs with each heartbeat at times. The sounds keep me up at night. High tones, low tones… all at once, in the darkness.

Once I begin to drift to sleep, I am jolted by a skipped heart beat or wake up to the fact that I am clenching my jaw (unintentionally from chronic pain), or because I will soon have to get up to pee for the 10th time.

The clock reminds me how much I am failing at getting a good nights rest. Buzzing, whooshing, ringing, thumping: the chaos that no one else can hear but me.

Health, mental health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

I am not strong

I am not strong.

I am not this tough, battling warrior that some may see me as. I am scared. I am depressed. I am angry. The cards I have been dealt leave me no choice but to try to roll with the punches. I may do so gracefully on the outside, but on the inside I often find myself questioning, “why?” as I carry around the grief of living with a chronic illness.

Every day I wake up in pain and discomfort. Some days it is just my normal everyday life and I accept and move on. I get up and start my day, tucking the pain away. I ignore my reality of a failing heart and the dozens of risks that hang over my head. I sweep under the rug all of my nervousness and worries and I focus on what is good in my life. People think that may be admirable but really, it isn’t healthy. Also, what other option do I have?

We are always told to focus on the positive, while ignoring the dark and negative aspects of life that exist for all. For me, the only way out is through. Acknowledging and dealing with the darkness is healing. Society teaches us to suppress ourselves and our feelings, which leaves us depressed, hiding behind a smile. We are pressured to be put together and strong no matter the circumstances.

Other days, when I wake up, I can’t tuck away the pain. I can’t pretend that I don’t have this horrible genetic condition that eats away at me, that I forever have to live with. I look in the mirror, before my exhaustion is covered up with makeup, and I see how how hurt and tired I really am. I see how sick I look. I begin to hide it, first with my morning meds and then with makeup. I cover it all up.

You wonder how I am so busy? I have to be. I have to keep myself so distracted because the moment I sit down and stop moving, I feel it all: mentally and physically. When my mind has no distractions, I cannot help but feel the storm come. I think about, “what if I die?” and “I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired.” It’s not fair. My mind will go into dark places. And I just have to tuck it away. I have to “be strong” because that is what everyone wants to see, right? No one wants to see someone complain or pity themselves.

I don’t give up because I fight for my kids. I fight for my husband and my family. I fight for others that may one day be in my shoes. I fight for advocacy and healthcare equality.

I still have someone in my life who haunts me, tells me how much of a burden I am. “You always have something wrong with you. I can’t keep up with all your surgeries. What, am I supposed to carry around a calendar?,” he screams over the phone just 5 minutes before surgery, due to a delay and miscommunication in last minute changes (with the schedule with our child). Sometimes I let the past (and ongoing) emotional abuse of this ex get to me. I find myself questioning how much of a burden I am to others. This is often a question the chronically ill deal with. There is always someone without empathy that has a heartless opinion about you and your health.

Then, you have those “healers” who have the cure for you. “Try this holistic approach if you want to cure yourself and be free of illness and magically live healthy forever.” Apparently these people don’t know that I already eat a strict, clean diet without preservatives, dyes, additives, artificial ingredients. I am a certified herbalist. I don’t drink alcohol or caffeine. I take herbs and supplements. I am very knowledgeable on natural remedies, which I use for most ailments. What people don’t understand is that their basic education does not cover a vast amount of information on the human body. Sure, you can change your lifestyle, diet, and start supplements to reverse or mend many issues. But at the end of the day, it is not going to fix my heart and it isn’t a one size fits all answer. My heart is anatomically unable to be altered by herbs. This isn’t a lifestyle thing, stress or cholesterol induced issue. PLEASE FUCKING STOP sending your unsolicited “cures” to me and others. It is absolutely horrifically disrespectful and insulting.

——

It’s currently noon. My neck is stiff and I have yet to brush my hair or teeth. I glare at my heart meds on the dresser that I still need to take. My back is in pain, spasming and out of place. I am dizzy and know that my heart rate will shoot up and my blood pressure will drop as soon as I get up. Nausea and headache to follow, as I hold onto something to keep from falling. But, I will put myself together. I will suck up the pain, anger, frustration, sadness and make myself look strong with a pretty dress and red lipstick.

But I am not strong.

This is just my life.

Health

Open Heart Surgery

Yesterday I met with my heart surgeon from 2011, as I have followed up with him every year, then every 6 months. Yesterday he told me it was almost time. I will need surgery before symptoms worsen and I become short of breath with an enlarged heart.

In 6 months, I will have another open-heart surgery. This time it will be the replacement of my aortic valve with a tissue valve and to shave away the muscle that is over my coronary artery (myocardial bridge). At the end of the month I will be having a heart catheterization, where they thread a catheter through my vein to my heart. They will measure the pressure of the artery and get a good look at my aortic valve.

During open heart surgery, the sternum is cracked open and the the beating of the heart is temporarily stopped while maintaining life through a cardiopulmonary bypass (the heart-lung machine). I will stay in the hospital approximately 5 days and it will be about 6 weeks until I feel better, and 6 months until I recover fully. Though I knew this day would come, I am grateful I have until April/May to wrap my head around it.

I will never understand why I have had to go through so much in my lifetime, but I can only hope that it’s to help others.

Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Why I Am Going Out of State for a Doctors Appointment

After seeing a neurologist for about nine months, we came upon the solution for me to see a different neurologist, in the same office, since my doctor felt she couldn’t help me. Her specialty was migraines and seizures and she was not familiar with the dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. I felt it might be easier to stay in the same office since maybe the two doctors could communicate or have access to more information than leaving the practice altogether.

It has now been a little over a year with my newer neurologist. In this year, I have seen him every month at times. One appointment was to order an MRI without contrast to rule out certain diagnoses. Then, the next appointment was to follow up on that test and to order something else. It felt like it dragged on and on, leaving me to wonder why everything wasn’t just all tested at once. I could sense the uncertainty, and while he admitted that he isn’t familiar with dysautonomia, he sympathizes and ensures that he will help somehow.

The first neurologist ordered an EEG and she said everything was delayed but showed no signs of seizures. This was two years ago, before my pacemaker. After leaving that test, my heart rate dropped and I passed out in the hallway. Fortunately, I had a heart monitor on at the time and called my electrophysiologist and explained what happened. They looked at the episode and determined my heart rate plummeted.

Now, two years later, my new doctor decides to do another EEG. I find myself nervous, wondering if the testing triggered my episode last time. But I also find myself frustrated and here’s why: two appointments ago, my neurologist said that my (dysautonomia) episodes sound like seizures. He offered me seizure meds and I quickly declined. I avoid medication unless absolutely necessary or given a proven diagnosis. I stated that I would never take meds for a guessed diagnosis and that I was sure these episodes were a result of autonomic dysfunction, or dysautonomia, which had also been diagnosed by my electrophysiologist. Dysautonomia is common with Ehlers-Danlos patients. He admits again he is not knowledgeable in EDS or dysautonomia. “Let’s just try another EEG.”

Keep in mind that there are 12 million misdiagnosis per year. Having a complex illness makes it tough to get proper treatment and management due to the lack of knowledge in rare diagnoses. As a patient, it can be hard to walk away because we feel almost desperate to get care but also hopeful that we will make progress over time; maybe the doctor will come around, research, or learn more. Starting over is time consuming and you already put in so much…just like a relationship. Sometimes hope keeps us there longer than we should stay.

Finding a specialist (there are only three clinics in the country) that specializes in Autonomic Dysfunction for me is a must. Looking back, the last two years was a waste of time. The last two years, my diagnosis was never understood by my doctor, nor will it ever be. I was nearly fitted into his specialty of seizures, only to be added to the 12 million misdiagnosed, because that was his specialty. That was what he was comfortable with. Any many patients would have trusted his judgment, taken the pills and felt they were being cared for. Not me.

As I leave from my EEG test, I know that it may be the last time I come to that office. I chose to humor my doctor and myself with the test because it never hurts to rule out a diagnosis (again). I know that months from now, I will travel outside of the state to see a doctor that truly understands what is going on with my nervous system. After spending my entire life having notes in my medical records of “unusual symptoms” that no one could piece together, for the first time ever I will have a doctor that has that missing piece of the puzzle.

mental health, Podcast

How To Work Through a Problem – Listen Now!

Podcast Link

Hello! This topic is important to me because so many of us go through life struggling and stressed, never learning the proper tools to work through an issue.

The original post How To Work Through a Problem has inspired the topic for episode 5 on my podcast, The Misti Blu Days of Our Lives.

Please be sure to subscribe and leave 5 stars so that others can stumble upon my podcast and blog! It is available on Spotify, iTunes, and iHeartRadio, or you can listen on the RSS feed link.

Health, Healthy Food

Morning Routine Smoothie

The kids are back in school, and so am I. I love the break in the summertime but I really thrive on routine. I gained a little extra fluff in the last few months from sleeping in, overeating, and going out to eat too much.

With everyone back in school, I am forced to plan ahead for meals. Having a smoothie in the morning is perfect for me since I am not really hungry yet. This smoothie recipe is full of nutrients and has vegan protein, which will get me through my first class. The mushroom blend helps with focus, energy and stress. Lion’s Mane is my favorite mushroom because it repairs nerve damage.

Oat milk is loaded with calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin A and D. It is known for improving immunity and gut health as well as lowering cholesterol.

Healing Sprinkles is an anti-inflammatory healing blend with minerals and vitamins. I need all of that! Having this smoothie in the morning is the best way to start out my day. Having gastrointestinal issues due to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome has caused me to have deficiencies. My tank is always on empty so this is a great addition of my routine that gives me a little boost.

What’s in it?

  • Ice
  • Banana