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22 May

Belleruth,

This is not a question but a thank you. Your Weight Loss affirmations have been powerful for me. Not just for weight loss, but for encouraging a positive approach to life and for helping me let go of the negative energy that I know consumes me sometimes.

Also, as a musician, I appreciate how the music builds and resolves at critical moments, underscoring the message.

The first time I heard ' . . the time for reinjuring myself by remembering old wounds is over' I felt like I'd been hit between the eyes. I repeat it to everyone who needs to hear it (giving you credit, of course).

While I still struggle, I hope I am improving 'more and more' on my emotional journey. Thank you for helping to guide my way.

Joanne

21 May

Aussies love web and phone based interventions for health education and mental health, and are pre-eminent researchers and evaluators of digital services – probably because flesh and blood providers can be hard to come by in the vast, non-urban areas of this very big country that's also a continent.

This Australian study examines whether mental health self-efficacy (MHSE), a construct from Bandura's Social Learning Theory (SLT), influences the positive results of web-based interventions on such conditions as depression and anxiety.

20 May

Cast from shackles which bound them, this bell shall ring out hope for the mentally ill and victory over mental illness.”—inscription on Mental Health America’s Mental Health Bell

During the early days of mental health treatment, the mentally ill were often institutionalized in asylums, where they were restrained with iron chains and shackles. As understanding and treatment improved and new modalities were implemented, this cruel practice ended. Mental Health America had these inhumane shackles melted down and recast into the 300-pound Mental Health Bell, that rings out a sign of hope and healing. To learn more, go to Mental Health America.

The theme for this year's Mental Health Awareness Month is B4Stage4, which encourages us to 'get informed, get screened and get help' before mental illness reaches the serious Stage 4, which often involves loss of jobs and families, inability to undertake daily activities, institutionalization or incarceration.

When people first experience symptoms of diseases like cancer or diabetes, they are encouraged to seek treatment. The warning signs of those diseases are published frequently in numerous sources. Posters bearing the warning signs of heart attack and stroke are visible in many public places, but how many of us are aware of the signs of mental illness?

If we don't ignore the symptoms of other illnesses, why do we wait so long to seek treatment for symptoms of potentially serious mental illness? Mental Health Awareness Month encourages us to change the way we think about mental illness and treat it as any serious illness, with screening and early intervention. The Mental Health Bell also reminds us that the chains of discrimination still bind people with mental illness.

"Although the medical community now approaches depression as a disease, many depressed people still feel a sense of shame and judge themselves as weak or self-indulgent for not being able to "will" themselves out of their sadness. When you're in the throes of depression, it's hard to escape the feeling that you are a failure and that the future is hopeless." Deepak Chopra, from Healing Depression.

Anxiety is another aspect of mental illness that is often misunderstood. For more information on dealing with anxiety read Belleruth's blog post, BR' Tips for Beating Anxiety.

To find guided imagery resources to support mental and emotional health, check out our website.

Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month by telling us your stories. As always, we love hearing from you. Happy Spring from your friends at Health Journeys.

19 May

Hi Belleruth,

I need help with antidepressant withdrawal. I've slowly withdrawn from Zoloft. This is my first week without any medication in my system whatsoever. I'm functioning fine, but feel 'out of kilter'...just discombobulated (is that a word?)

Truth told, I am already happier, feel more whole, and seem to have a pumped up libido, but these other sensations are confusing and unsettling. I'm trying to find the best of your imagery CD's from my arsenal, but am not sure what's best.

I'm wondering about the Alchol/Drug Recovery CD, and whether it might help me cope with the unpleasant side effects of withdrawal I might be feeling.

As I am somewhat anxious, I don't want to do anything that might reinforce my anxiousness in any way! I am sleeping fine, just feel less predictable somehow. Thanks,

Belleruth. You are welcome to use my letter on Health Journeys, please just post it anonymously.

Sarah

18 May

Well, the Sports Injury Season is truly upon us, people!

I can now smile at the memory of the hours and hours spent in the E.R. of Sibley Hospital in Washington DC with various kids – my own and my neighbor's - with their various broken and lacerated arms, legs, ankles, shoulders and noses.

We had quite a run of visits back in the day, and I'd even learned to be ferociously protective of their faces after the first couple of visits. At the first sight of a very young- looking med student approaching a kid's wrecked face with a needle, I would automatically yell, "Don't touch his face! I want a plastic surgeon down here!"

15 May

My inspiring story doesn't have to do with mind-body CDs, although I'm a satisfied user of guided imagery, yoga and meditation. This is about the people I work with.

I'm a 42 year old husband and father, recently diagnosed with stomach cancer. I have worked for the same small business for the past 12 years. Currently I am facing several rounds of chemotherapy, with little sick leave left, because earlier this year, my wife had to undergo back surgery. I was needed to help at home. It never crossed my mind that I might need those sick days for myself. I never got sick.

My co-workers got together with our manager and figured out a way to donate their own sick days to me, so I won't lose salary when I am too sick to work. I now have 34 extra days, if I need them. Each person gave whatever they could spare. The relief my wife and I felt was indescribable.

Every time I think about their generosity and love, my eyes fill with tears. This kindness may be what cures me, more than any chemotherapy treatment. I post this story with you, because it reminds us all of the good we are capable of.

Gratefully,

Tom P.

14 May

Researchers from the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, explored the efficacy of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) for children with posttraumatic stress symptoms, comparing it to the more well-established treatment of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT).

A randomized controlled trial investigated the effectiveness and efficiency of both treatments. Forty-eight children (8-18 years) were randomly assigned to eight sessions of TF-CBT or EMDR.

13 May

Meditation means different things to different people. For some, it involves spirituality and ritual. For others it is as simple as gazing at a beautiful sunset.

The Zen philosophy came from Zen Buddhism but the word Zen is often used to describe things that are paradoxical. No matter what type of meditation you choose, there is no denying that meditation is so Zen. It's so easy it's difficult and the very highest pinnacle to which you can aspire in terms of meditation is that of a beginner.

"In the mind of the Beginner, there are many possibilities. In the mind of the expert, there are few."-- Shunryu Suzuki, from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.

12 May

Belleruth,

My husband died from lung cancer in 2011 and not three months later I myself was diagnosed with colon cancer.

I have many of your CD's (I don't know if I could have gotten through treatment without them, by the way) and listen to one or another of them at bedtime, every night.
Something I really wish you would address in a future CD is something to help with the fear of recurrence. Things always seem so much worse at night, when you are alone in the dark. That fear is not the same thing as anxiety. Please consider this.

Best,
Denise

11 May

Okay, it's Mental Health Month – time for a new list! I want to talk about anxiety, because over thirty years as a therapist has convinced me that anxiety is the mother lode of a lot personal difficulty and bad behavior.

Anxiety causes people to lash out, react impulsively and jump into places and relationships they shouldn't. Nine times out of ten, anger and nasty behavior is born of anxiety, looking for a place to get released.

It's also a huge energy waster and time-sapper, preventing people from getting things done, simply because it sucks up so much time and focus. More often than not, efficient, productive people aren't any more talented or educated than others, but they're people who are unhampered by anxiety, so they get a straight shot at their goals.

I recall seeing a surprising statistic that 50% of all office visits to the doctor are due to anxiety in one form or another (as opposed to illness).

08 May

I really like the thoughtful, respectful, inventive way Bill Murray answered this basically impossible question at the Toronto Film Festival last year. An admiring audience member asked him what it was like to be him.

He could have blown off the whole question, or lectured her on how she should be focusing on what it was like to be her, not him; or he could have said something funny, cracked wise about identity or something.

07 May

Researchers from Vanderbilt University investigated the impact of mindfulness practice and positive psychology practice on mothers of children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. These mothers are known to live with extra stress, depression and anxiety, from the burdens of caring for their children.

A total of 243 mothers of children with disabilities were randomized into either a 6-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (mindfulness practice) intervention or a 6-week Positive Adult Development (positive psychology practice) intervention.