At a Cutting-Edge Conference this summer, I was fortunate to participate in the groundbreakingInternational Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research(ISNPR) conference held in Bethesda, Maryland. The meeting was truly inspiring and exciting to those of us who believe that nutritional approaches are the way forward in the treatment of mental healthdisorders. While the majority of the presentations at this conference were focused on omega-3 fatty acids, microbiome research, micronutrients, and the Mediterranean diet, there were a few small breakout sessions exploring the potential benefits of ketogenic diets. Ketogenic diets are special low-carbohydrate diets that have been used to treat epilepsy for almost 100 years and show great promise in the management of a wide variety of other brain disorders. Read More
Epigenetics is a relatively new branch of genetics that has been heralded as the most important biological discovery since DNA. Until recently, it was believed you were stuck with the genes you were born with. But now it’s known that your genes get turned on and off and are expressed to greater or lesser degrees depending on lifestyle factors. Let’s take a look at what epigenetics is, how it works, and what you can do to improve your chances in the health lottery. Read More
Depression often clusters in families. Mikhaila Peterson and her father, Jordan Peterson, are from such a family. Both have struggled with depression for much of their lives. The Agenda spoke to them about that in 2011, and five years later they're back to talk about experimenting with diet as a way to manage depression. More Here
What if the way we treat anxiety, depression, learning difficulties and behavioral disorders is completely misunderstood? When you combine published and unpublished studies of antidepressants, the treatments we have today are no better than they were 50 years ago. How is it that in this day and age, we continue to chase after a cure for modern disorders that have their roots in deficiency and toxicity? It is the same line of thinking in agriculture, that if you keep spraying plants with pesticides or give animals antibiotics, the disease problem is solved without a thought as to why the plants and animals are sick in the first place.
The World Health Organization is projecting that, by the year 2020, depression will become the world’s second most devastating illness, after heart disease. This is alarming not only for our mental state, but the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that women who had long-term depression were 90 percent more likely to get cancer. Cancer is complex, but we have been completely ignoring the mental health and emotional connection. If you or someone you know have experienced anxiety, depression or other behavioral disorders, you understand how devastating these disorders can be.
What I hope to offer with this article is insight into understanding the biochemical nature of these disorders, which will hopefully empower you. Modern medicine points to the brain, not the gut as the target, but if we break down neurotransmitter production all arrows point to the gut, not the brain. The biochemistry points to deficiency of particular vitamins, minerals, and bacteria, not primarily a chemical imbalance that can only be corrected by a drug. Research is confirming that deficiency and toxicity are creating inflammation and excessive release of cytokines from the immune system; which can lead to depression and heart disease.
Two Brains are Better than One
Brain dysfunction is the number one reason people fail at school, at work, and in relationships according to Dr. Daniel Amen, one of the world’s authorities on the brain. So when we break down how the brain functions, we have to look at the two nervous systems: the central and the enteric. The enteric is the nervous system of your digestive system. There, millions of nerves line the digestive system and communicate with the central nervous system via the vagus nerve road to the brain. Your gut bacteria also uses the same road to transmit information to your brain, and it turns out bacteria are transmitting more information to your brain than your brain sends to your gut.
Ninety percent of serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for well-being, happiness, memory, learning, and sleep) is made in the gut, not the brain. Anti-depressants work (or don’t work) by raising serotonin levels in the brain, not the gut. According to the highly popular book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, intestinal flora imbalance has been linked to autism, dyspraxia, A.D.D., dyslexia, A.D.H.D., depression, and schizophrenia.
Why Bacteria May Be a Major Key to Understanding Mental Disorders
Think about the last time when you got anxious, depressed or angry, and the emotions gave you an upset stomach. Guess what happens when your gut flora is altered or wiped out from antibiotics, sucralose(Splenda, 50% intestinal flora destruction found), pesticide-laden GMO food, meat laced with antibiotics, chlorinated and fluoridated water or a high sugar diet? Anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, frustration, stress, and even autism. Just recently, an article from the BBC/TV website reported a 67% increase in autism in Northern Ireland. Boys are affected 5 times more than girls, and those in more deprived areas are more likely to be affected. It is time we start asking the right questions, starting with nutrition status and toxicity.
A study found that children with autism have altered gut flora “working as neurotransmitters or controlling neurotransmitter biosynthesis” and researchers “suspect that gut microbes may alter levels of neurotransmitter-related metabolites affecting gut-to-brain communication and/or altering brain function.” Furthermore, researchers from the California Institute of Technology found that some mice exhibiting autistic behaviors no longer showed signs of autism when given probiotics.
Bifidobacterium is capable of secreting large amounts of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter to glutamate, controlling an imbalance found in autism-spectrum disorders, hyperactive behavior, heart attacks, strokes, ADHD, OCD, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, mood disorders, IBS, Tourette’s syndrome and seizures. The Stanley Foundation Neuropathology Consortium found that levels of glutamate were elevated in individuals with Bi-Polar and Major Depressive disorder compared to controls. Another study shows that lactobacillus influenced GABA levels in certain brain regions, leading to lowered stress hormones, anxiety and depression. Could bacteria and GABA be one of the keys to the underlining cause of numerous mental disorders? Or better labeled, mental deficiencies?
Gluten and Mental Health: It Starts at Pregnancy
In gluten sensitive individuals, gluten can actually shut down blood flow into the frontal and prefrontal cortex, the part responsible for dopamine, serotonin, focus, managing emotional states, planning, organizing, consequences of actions, and our short term memory. This process is called “hypo-perfusion” and is strongly associated with ADHD, depression, and anxiety. WGA in wheat has also been found to perforate holes in the intestinal lining, affecting vitamin and mineral absorption, allergies, and bacteria.
A study from Sweden and Johns Hopkins found that babies born to women with a sensitivity to gluten appear to be at increased risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders later in life. Children born to mothers with abnormally high levels of antibodies to gliadin (gluten) had nearly twice the risk of developing non-affective psychosis, compared with children who had normal levels of gliadin antibodies. This makes quite a strong case for avoiding gluten completely during pregnancy. Read More Here
I am a therapist and it is my job to courageously guide people down dark, often lonely paths reconciling their childhood experiences. Most of my clients grew up in homes where parents suffered from untreated mental illness and/or addictions and my clients suffered deeply at the constant barrage of stress, chaos and let down.
Through tears and anger there comes a point where my clients question whether or not they should continue to speak to their parents or they wonder if they should cut them off completely. In a world of polarized thinking, constant reacting and complete misunderstanding of boundaries, it’s no wonder my clients believe that annihilation of the parent child relationship is the only choice for emotional freedom, but this is not true.
5 Steps to Identify and Pay Forward Your Positive Childhood Experiences
Are you happy with the quality of the interactions you have with your parents? What do you wish was different?
The Sacredness Of The Bond
Parents are not like friends and spouses, we cannot completely separate from them without experiencing profound consequences. It’s not just a relationship that will be severed, it is a sacred, emotional, spiritual and chemical bond and this bond is a part of our survival instinct. It is a bond constructed by nature to insure life, it is the reason we are alive.
The annihilation of the parent and adult-child bond therefore should never be taken lightly and unless in cases of extreme abuse, it is worth continuing to heal deeply enough that the pain, resentment, fear and trauma have been overcome. It is only on the other side of the trauma that my clients will begin to think clearly enough to assess what their parents role will now be in their life.
Where do you need healing in your relationship with your parents?
Finding the Love
So what choice do we have when we come from abusive households? Unless your parent is a total loss and socio-pathic it is worth healing beyond the profound pain and disappointment in order to find the health and the love.Not every minute of childhood was lost, there are those moments, even if they were bookended by pain, that are worth holding onto. We are shaped by our experiences and our reactions to them, not just the bad but also the good.
Many of my most vivid memories are of spending time in the wilderness with my father. He would take my brother and I on long, wandering walks through the Ohio state parks jumping on rocks and crossing rivers. Out of this no doubt grew my deep love for nature and my experience of it as a personal refuge, I am deeply grateful that he exposed me to the wonder and awe of our natural world.
And Christmas in my childhood home was a time like no other. My mother was an amazing Italian cook and Christmas time meant enjoying a full-on Italian feast while surrounded by beautiful decorations, a massive tree adorned with thousands of colorful lights, cookies, sweets and hundreds of presents. It was always a magical time for me where everyone was happy.
In what specific ways did your parents express their love to you? As a child when were you most happy?
Paying It Forward
Upon reflection I can see the memories of health and of love that I have made a conscious effort to pay forward into my children’s lives. It is no wonder that my children spend more time outside than many of their peers. Family days for us mean hiking on the verdant, mossy Oregon trails or running amuck on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. And every holiday season I decorate obnoxiously, dole out the gifts and cook fragrant meals while listening to Frank Sinatra.
Paying it forward is about carrying over the love and the positive experiences of my childhood while letting go of the negative. It is these collections of joyful memories that have helped shape who I am and they are sacred to me. They are what I have allowed to continue on from a childhood now long gone and yet they are a part of the foundation of my identity and my humanness.
What traditions do you carry forward to your children that you learned growing up? What negative behaviors do you need to leave behind?
It is with deep emotional and psychological maturity that we are able to forgive despite the transgressions that we have experienced. And forgiving is very different from ignoring. When we ignore or brush aside what was our truth, no matter it’s pain, then we are more likely to pass on the abuse that was inflicted upon us.
It then becomes paramount that we sift through our experiences, pulling the good from the bad and make a conscious decision which ones will forever belong in our life and in our children’s lives and which ones are to be let go.
Despite everything, forgive, find the love and pass it on.
How to Find and Pay Forward Your Positive Childhood Experiences
- Reconcile your anger or frustrations you have with your parents with therapists or religious council
- Make a list of positive experiences you had as a child
- Connect yourself and your children to your family by carrying forward traditions through baking, crafts, music and stories
- If your family is difficult to be around, spend time with them when they are at their best, on vacations, holidays, at favorite restaurants, or at religious events
- Create ways your children can positively connect with their family by sending grandparents photos, cards, letters or brief phone/video chatting
Originally posted in Modern Alternative Mama
I work very very long days.
As a mother, homemaker, homeschooler and bread winner I have a never ending set of responsibilities. When I get home from working an 8-hour day at my office, my day does not stop. Although my job description changes, my work continues through dinner, it continues through bedtime and it continues all through the night. It’s a never ending cycle of responsibilities and remedial tasks that keep us happy, healthy and whole.
As a mother who subscribes to gentle parenting and attachment parenting, I am unwilling to shift my expectations for how I raise my kids. I could give them countless instant meals and hours of screen time. I could give them a continuous stream of gadgets and toys, distract them with novelty and sweets or even keep them away all day in school and childcare, that would give me several hours to myself where I am not cooking, cleaning, teaching and entertaining. But I believe the bodies and minds of my children are too sensitive and precious for me to pollute.
Raising Children Respectfully
My husband and I promised ourselves long ago that we would never knowingly subject our children to something unhealthy just because we couldn’t handle our own stress, our own emotion. This is why handling our own emotions and stress and having our home be as safe and loving as possible is vital to raising happy and healthy children. After all, they are kids and their entire world, everything they understand and everything they know is within the walls of our home. Children are unable to reach out beyond themselves to seek comfort, wisdom and support from anyone else. This makes my husband and I #1 in all areas of their life requiring us to show up 110% all the time, whether we want to or not.
There are moments though when my desires, ideals, energy and gumption for life all come crashing down around me. I can be angry, resentful, grumpy. I tire of the stress, of the responsibility and I become the mother I never wanted to be.
When this happens I plainly say to myself “if you didn’t want stress and responsibility then you shouldn’t have had children.” I then take a deep breath and remember I cannot stop what I have started and to live in integrity and responsibility I need to step into my strength in order to give my children what they need and to provide for myself what I need.
And it’s always love.
There hasn’t been one situation in my house that hasn’t been bettered through love and deep acceptance of who we all are. And when my children are acting out of control, hitting, screaming, tantrums and my stress is mounting and I start to feel out of control, I stop myself and take a deep, long breath, breathing deeply into my heart, belly and down to my feet.
This deep breathing gives me the ability to become neutral and open, to let go of anger and then allows me to help my children. I help them with love, I welcome their stressed mind and body into my arms, I fill their hearts with my kind, understandable words, I protect them from hurting themselves or others through gentle but firm restraint and I do this all with love.
And after long, tiresome days where I feel the continuous, overwhelming stress of responsibility; work, child-rearing, homemaking and homeschooling I go to my husband to receive the love and deep acceptance that I need. My husband and I embrace each other, we lean into each other, we breathe deeply into the embrace, filling our hearts with understanding and love.
4 Steps to Overcome Stress with Love
- Breathe deeply into your heart, into your belly and down into your feet.
- Take a moment to become as neutral as possible and always use love instead of force.
- Use gentle but firm physical restraint when children are out of control, reminding them of how much you love them and that you are keeping them safe.
- Receive an embrace from friends and family, lean into the embrace and fill yourself up with love.
There may be times though that no matter what you do, the anger is too great, the anxiety too high and you are unable to find neutrality. This is normal, physiologically our nervous systems can only handle so much before they go into fight or flight. When you get to this place it’s easy to lash out at kids, to start yelling at them and to do something you may regret, so it’s vital that you take control of yourself immediately.
4 Emergency Protocol Steps When You Can’t Calm Down
- Jumping jacks, push ups, running in place or a jog around the block, anything that gets your heart rate up will help to regulate your nervous system and take you out of fight or flight. Often in the middle of absolute and total kid chaos I start running and jumping around the house, the kids follow and we all end up feeling better after about 10 minutes.
- Leave the house/restaurant/car, where ever you are that you are about to blow. If your partner or a friend is around throw on your shoes and briskly walk, taking in deep breaths of fresh air. I can’t tell you how many times I have power walked my neighborhood in my pajamas…
- Start smiling and laughing. This may seem bizarre and feel really fake and weird but it works. Feelings are not facts and by using muscle memory we can trick our mind and body into a different state of being. Engaging our smiling and laughing muscles in our face and body causes our mind to believe we are enjoying ourselves, it releases good feeling chemicals and takes us out of fight or flight.
- Vigorously repeat a mantra or prayer. Prayer is powerful and it will distract and focus the mind so you can regain control. I have a go to prayer for when I feel completely overwhelmed. It’s long enough to distract my mind and comforting enough to remind me that I am cared for and loved.
Originally published in Modern Alternative Mama
Woe to the scapegoat, the whipping boy, the outcast of the toxic and dysfunctional family. This person is made to carry the hidden blame and shame of relatives who refuse to acknowledge their problems.
Dysfunctional families are steeped in shame, and cannot look at their issues. They have poor insight into their own behaviors and problems, and will do anything to appear normal or exceptional, despite the fact that in reality, they are terribly crippled by their fears, addictions, mental disorders, abuse, neglect and insecurities.
Read the rest here: Outcasts, Scapegoats and Blacksheep
After both the difficult hospital birth of my son and the beautiful yet sorrowful homebirth of my daughter 3 weeks after the death of my mother I felt defeated. I struggled to feel joy and anxiety kept me awake at night frightened and worried.
I remember thinking, "is this really what it feels like to become a mother? Stressed, anxious and sleep deprived?" I was really struggling. At that time I didn't realize that the key to my contentment was to take time out for myself and process my experiences of birth and the change to motherhood. To help myself I began daily journaling, meditation and sought out a therapist to help me transform my stress to peacefulness. Once I felt better I realized that all along I had the power to heal myself and I didn't need to spend hundreds of hours on therapy. Simple journaling, meditation and somatic healing exercises could quickly return me to a state of peace and contentment.
I combined the healing modalities of journaling, guided meditation and somatic release and packaged them into one simple downloadable PDF. Mothers looking for peace and contentment after a difficult birthing experience can have access to free healing from the privacy of their home.
There was a time, about a decade or so ago that I used to look longingly to the birds and in envy wish that I had huge glorious soft wings. With these wings I would fly away from my life, from the pain, from the memories.
This morning during my meditative walk I noticed the birds soaring through the blue sky , I recalled this time in my life of great suffering and tears flooded my eyes. It wasn’t sorrow that I felt, it was a deep and profound sense of compassion for the person that I was and for the experiences that I had to endure. And I also felt grateful that my wish did not come true, that I did not sprout wings and fly away because what I know is that there is no reprieve in escape. It is not with wings that we overcome but it is with our legs and our feet, moving us forward, one step at a time with blind faith and courage that we will be healed.
Now, a decade later, I am overcome with reverence for that scared, hurting young girl who with the support and love of a few strong women walked through the fire and like the phoenix she rose from the ashes of her devastation and become the powerful women she is today.
I am that powerful women and now I see that I always was.
In February of 2012 my mother left a message on my voicemail, “Ann, it’s mom, call me when you get this.” That was the message she left, calling to tell me she had lost the battle, the cancer had won and she had weeks, maybe months to live. Sitting outside in the backyard the day after she died, scrolling through my phone I found that message. I sat on a lawn chair, the sun baking on my face, wailing, crying out for her, red faced, tears pouring, feeling an indescribable pain. I listened to her soft voice on the message over and over. How she said my name…told me it was her…and asked for me. I kept the message, until one day, in December, my phone crashed and the message was gone forever.
Here’s what I know about tragedy, it feels as if it happened decades ago and it feels as if it happened yesterday. It feels as if it was a horrendous dream and it feels like an inevitable reality. Tragedy can never be thwarted by will. And when it strikes, like it will to everyone, it chips away at your sense of self until you are left facing what is inside, a horrible darkness and a beautiful light. Then you get to choose.
For me this choice has always been an illusion, despite the many roads laying out in front of me, there is always one clear path, the path of consciousness evolution, acceptance and forgiveness. I have never been able to stray from this, it’s as if I am on autopilot and the destination is inevitable. Pain, disillusionment, indulgence will never dissuade me, every time I taste the nectar of my soul, I delight in my progress and continue to purge people, places, objects, beliefs…what ever is in my way.
One of the gifts of tragedy is that I have found my self. Never lost, ever present but hiding in the shadows until I was able to reach in deeply and animate, bringing together a powerful will and unbounded guidance. Having the visceral understanding of my true nature amplifies every moment, every interaction, every choice. Now when I stand across from people I can feel my attraction or my repulsion to their state of being. Gone are the days where I strive to understand, fix or connect with individuals who give little or nothing in return; regardless of our genetic or circumstantial connection, I am done.
Another gift, I have found my tribe. Comprised of compassionate, thoughtful, creative individuals and families, there exists between us an unspoken understanding of authentic and unending respect. When I am with my tribe my body relaxes, I can let myself shine through, I no longer have to guard myself or place myself above or below, we are all equal.
And the gift that keeps on giving… manifesting an amazing existence. Finding myself, finding my tribe, discovering and living my life purpose. I can feel the pulsing of my life purpose in my heart. It pumps the desire into every cell of my being, propelling me forward. I exist in a present so beautiful, so sweet I weep in reverence but I also visualize and manifest a future of unbounded freedom and aim my arrow at the mark. This was the final gift my mother gave to me, in her death she released me.
I’ve heard people compare the sensation of surrender to that of death, but to me it feels like life and freedom. What could possibly be better than shedding the destructive, intrusive thoughts of anger, retribution and grief and replace them with love?
Why do people hold on to pain, when what awaits them is so beautiful? Why do people continue to cycle in madness, in craziness, in drama? I’ve seen people who are so trapped by their trauma that their adult self has little chance in this lifetime to break free and be in charge. But this can not be the case for everyone. I have dear friends whose authentic self screams at them and I watch them push this voice of reason away. I watch people spend decades in cults in order to bring some kind of structure and meaning into their life, convincing themselves a damaged self kept in check is safer than a free self expanding into the unknown. I see people cling to family legacies in this same way.
There can be pain when the growth of the Will takes us beyond the rationale of ancestral belief. For me the pain is fear. Fear of what it will be like when I am on the other side, when I instigate and earn my freedom, when I finally have choice. What I have come to realize through this process again and again is that the hardest moment is truly just before the dawn. It’s that moment that you can no longer deny that you must grow but the fear asserts itself and tries to shut you down. But if you are brave and if you can trust that somehow in this infinite, unbounded universe there is possibility and if you then take this one final step…it happens…and you can’t believe that you ever wavered on the other side. Presence, joy, passion, infinity are all your birthright.
Welcome back to the ocean of which you were always a part of.
Healing Practitioner Spotlight:
Kevin Jones, PT Active Physical Therapy Clinic
I have been practicing physical therapy for nearly 9 years with a particular focus on chronic pain and disability. My interests lie in the effects of psychosocial variables as it relates to chronic pain and in particular, fear-avoidance and kinesiophobia (fear of movement). I have treated patients from age 13 to 90 who suffer from chronic pain, and each person presents and responds to treatment differently. The success I have with patients can be attributed to communication with all providers involved in the care continuum: physician, family members, and case managers.
I own a small private practice on the Westside of Columbus, and I occasionally treat patients at their home and place of employment. My strategy is to intervene using an approach of movement education and graded exercises.
This became a passion of mine after years of getting patients to a certain functional point, but not being able to make a complete impact on their lives. Most patients who suffer from chronic pain and disability have been told by the medical field that there is nothing more for them; I wanted to be a solution to this problem. I wasn’t content with patients being labeled as “malingerers” or “pill seekers”.
There are features of my practice that I attempt to do myself daily. Part of treating chronic pain is being present and mindful, and I practice that during daily interactions with patients. Fortunately, I have never and do not currently suffer from chronic pain, but I find that empathy is crucial to helping people get through debilitating symptoms. I have gained a great insight in working with this patient population, both from a knowledge-base and from a personal standpoint. I would suggest people suffering from any chronic condition to continuously seek answers, and demand a certain level of care from those who treat you.
You can find Kevin and his clinic here.
This is how I have experienced the Borderline Dynamic. Do you recognize this cycle? There is an actual method to the madness and a way out.
This is it. This is time. It's time to stop being afraid and start being excited. You came into a life filled with love, opportunity and resources and now you can use them all. Now is the time to use them to manifest what you want, what you long for, what you see in your visions. It's not impossible it's right in front of you just reach out and touch it, take it, your manifestation and life belongs to you. So be excited and get of the way because it's happening NOW.
How I manage to meditate everyday…
This has been the best years of my life, not because it’s calm, peaceful, worry free, but because it is not. I am in a constant state of running around, cleaning, working, driving, caring for small children. My life is volunteering at preschool, driving across town to doctors appointments, nighttime nursing, vitamin pushing, cooking, cleaning, writing checks and paying bills, bookkeeping, exercise, counseling others, maintaining the schedules and lives of 4 people.
What makes this the best years ever? Because I am not my experiences, I am consciousness.
How I manage to meditate everyday? I find a chair and I sit.