Mental Health Mondays: The “Eat Healthy, Be Healthy” Movement

Welp, this one will be interesting.

Yes, that was my intro. Yes, I feel that way about what I’m going to be diving into this week. No, I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. Yes, I’ll survive it.

I will be upfront on this topic: I’m still rocking the seesaw on this topic. I’ll share it as I go along, so it’s palatable.

A lot in the self help community say “you are what you eat”, like the health community. It’s the same mentality of “You are who you surround yourself with”, which that phrase in and of itself, I totally get and can get with.

Let’s dive into this “mentality” of “be healthy, think healthy” movement.

Go on this new fad diet:

Well if that’s not a yo-yo effect, I don’t know what is! Fad diets not only send your physical health into a literal yo-yo, but also your mental health. Your brain is no less an organ than your stomach, liver, kidney, or skin! She (or he…I won’t tell you how you identify your brain here) is as delicate, and needs the same attention as the rest of your body.

Fad diets are the worst! Dietitians and scientists alike have commented about this issue. See here, here, here, and here  for some basic references. Want more? Let Me know!

Fad diets are notoriously known for their yo-yo like tendencies. Why? Most don’t look out for long term sustainability. Sure they can last for a decent while, but once you’re fatigued from it, get bored of it, or once you start noticing not so much of a difference as you used to, the hype will wear off. And that’s it: the hype!

Sure, if you’re already in decent health, and want to try something new to make life interesting, then go for it. Even if you’re in a space where you’re happy with your health, regardless of BMI, pound/KG weight, or whatever go for it!

Yet if you’re in for the fitness or weightloss or “I want to not be anymore than I am, with usual factors” issue, these types of diets usually don’t work.

I’ll reference this a lot, but I should start now by saying: everything in moderation!

Try the not so fad diet:

Thought your regime was not under scrutiny? Okay babe. Let’s try again. The problems of things like Keto (positive), Veganism, and even Vegetarianism. Those are the most prominent lately, but Vegan/Vegetarianism has been a thing for over 10 years now (I’d know….2008 I did the whole vegetarianism thing).

Personally, everyone is different, and being in tune with what your body needs, craves (which is a sign of something in that food that your body needs…and I’m not supporting the 3 slices of cake here!), and how you feel afterwards.

In all these “diets”, I’m not dogging on any of these specifically, but my issue is the term diet. Diets allow you to fall off the bandwagon, and “allow for no wiggle room”, hence why people fall off.

Your food intake is just as much apart of your lifestyle as setting your alarm for work or checking your texts too much. Also, how your taste buds, digestive track, and the rest of your body feels, helps what your brain does.

Believe it or not, your brain is like any other organ in your body. With that, what goes in, comes out. It’ll be a struggle to find balance on what your body needs and likes. It’ll be a struggle to keep with it too, and that’s okay! We have the rest of our lives to work with.

Since I love cooking, and am sharing my food journey, would more meals targeting better mental health, but reasonable priced and tastes decent, be of interest? I’ll run a https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fstoryofamillennial%2Fposts%2F242493689945315&width=500” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>poll on my Facebook page for this, so go vote!

What has helped you in the eating/cooking/food realm in regards to your mental health? I’d love to know that too! Comment about it, since I’d love to know, and maybe you could help someone else who is on a similar path!

 

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Mental Health Mondays: Conversations Gone Awry

We’ve heard it time and time again: “Talk to me when you need to talk” “I’m here for you”. The worst one? “We need to work on the conversation of mental health and people should reach out when they need it”.

Yes, we do need a reformation of how our mental states effect us. Yes, we need to know who we can go to, when our brains won’t let us just do things. The problem? When our brains are in that state of haywire and out of wack.

As someone who has struggled with metal health issues, for awhile now, it isn’t so easy to allow yourself to reach out to a family member, a friend, mentor, or even a therapist. Our mind tells us “It’s not a good time, it’s 1:39 and I can’t sleep. I know my closest friend said to message her, but she has work in the morning. I’ll just go make a strong drink and hope it allows me to sleep for a bit.”

Sound at least somewhat familiar? You’re not alone.

An issue that I personally have with the conversation (or lack there of, in a way), is that in the western world, we idolize celeberties so much, and the only time the conversation comes up, is when someone dies of mental health problems. Regardless of how they kill themselves, it’s not just a fame and fortune issue.

In China, they have large nets connected to the buildings, for people working at certain companies. The most notable ones are the Apple plant, and the worry about those working for the same mother company, but work on Sony and Microsoft products.

Speaking of which, the Apple Keynote event is tomorrow (updated to watch the event, from Apple.com). I’ll be watching, for curiosity really.

Another issue I see, when it comes to the conversation over mental health, is why we not only talk about when a celebrity dies, but when there’s a mass casualty. Not just when you think about China’s issue, but also in the west. Mass shootings, such as Las Vegas, Pulse Nightclub, to van/car run-overs such as in London and Toronto, is what I’m talking about.

I’m not going into the gun debate here, since that’s not what I’m focused on here. But the talk about mental health behind the perpetrator is what I want to focus on. We talk about how it relates to gun ownership, which is important, but what about operating a car? Even what the person’s mental health is like in terms of how they were interacted with people prior, to intelligence and learning capability, among other things.

So how do we fix it? Well, just saying “come talk to me, when you need it” doesn’t always work. Sure some people can bring themselves to open up, and that’s phenomenal, truly. But for us that like to bottle it up, because we don’t want to feel like a burden, feel guilty for feeling and thinking such a way, or don’t feel comfortable to talk to people about our head space? What do we do for them?

Sure, there’s online and text counseling, but that adds issue with how health insurance covers counseling and medication, and cost to the person, let alone some people just can’t get comfortable with counseling/talk therapy at all.

How do we help cope with our brains? One thing’s for sure: we could study and learn more about the brain itself, and what each mental health issue does, to a span of people. That sounds great, and in theory, would be great. But that takes people away from their jobs and personal life, and only a fraction of people would probably be willing to subject themselves to these studies.

In an odd way of looking at it, the things we do with technology (remember me mentioning Apple), we need to do with, or in regards to, the mental health issue and conversation. We love innovating and seeing new things, and creating, even learning.

Why did we leave behind the mental health field behind? We’ve made innovative measures in medicine, technology, food, and transportation, to name a few.

My question to all of you is: What can we do to be more innovative on mental health? How do we make a strong conversation to push the mental health issues we have today?

How can I help? Share with me your answers in the comments, I’d love to know.

Mental Health Monday: September Series Starter

September is not just my birth month, it’s also mental health awareness month. I will be sharing some tidbits each Monday this month, a little different each week. The conversation around mental health is still very touchy and vague, and the only time we still talk about mental health is when someone famous dies.

Not even when a family member dies from mental health, or had mental health issues, but when someone who we don’t really know dies, and how sad is that? I want to help change that. I know I’m only one person, but I believe in the butterfly effect, and if I connect with one person, one time, positively, I’ve done my job.

I was thinking, the best way to get into this mini-series about mental health was to share my personal struggles with mental health. Not to boast, or sound mopey, but to share that even I, someone you may only know through a screen (whether it’s your phone, tablet, or computer), deals with mental illness.

To get started, let’s take a journey into my childhood a bit. I am a statistic, a child of divorce. I was young enough when it happened, that I don’t really recall a life with both parents in the home. I was raised by my mom, and we moved from where I was born, PA, to California, near her side of the family, a few years after the formal divorce ended. This is where I feel some of who I am started.

2,600 miles does a lot to anyone, especially a child who is forming friendships and who they are. Looking back, moving is where I noticed I was more introverted, and didn’t handle meeting new people that well. I managed like any usual kid would, but felt outcasted, and would continue that way through my education. How much I let it bug me, is what would change.

Social anxiety and depression started their way into my life from there, up until recently. Regular anxiety didn’t really happen for me until about middle school, where I started having panic attacks and had some trouble getting to sleep.

At this time in my life, my dad was more in my life, and at 16 I moved back to PA, to live with him, and the step family that he had created a few years prior. This is where the depression became more of a thing in my life.

Since my father is a psychologist, he saw the signs and wanted me to seek counseling, and even see if medication would help. The first time that I took an anti-anxiety pill, I passed out for like 10 or 11 hours. That was the first time I had slept easy in years.

I couldn’t put it into words then, but now, I can see a slight tendency to addictive personality. Grant it, you’re never supposed to self-diagnose, but hey, young and stupid makes you old and wise, right?!

From there, I noticed that the anti-depressant medication wasn’t working for me, and so I at some point stopped taking it. I didn’t want to really be the one to rely on medication, and if the anti-anxiety was working but the anti-depressant wasn’t, that was a sign.

Now, I’ve been living “on my own” for roughly 5 years, and stopped the anti-anxiety medication around the same time. There are definitely days where I wish I had it, because it does help, when you’re jittery and anxious and no self-coping mechanism is working.

I will say that taking the medication mid full blown panic attack doesn’t exactly help, since you’re already in the midst of it, but it helps on the days where you feel it, and can’t get it to calm down.

I actually had one of those days last week, for a few days. It started while folding laundry, and it took everything I had in me to breathe through it and focus on folding my laundry and getting home (our apartment doesn’t have laundry services on site). That was the worst amount of anxiety I’ve had in good while.

For me, now, other than missing the medication for days like I had last week, my mental health has gotten better for the most part. I’m still fighting with being my own worst critic and nit-picking with my own flaws, but correcting myself, and even if it’s a true flaw that needs worked on, I try to make a comment to myself of something good I’ve done lately, or something overall that is good about me.

Yes, working on your thought patterns is a do-able thing. No it will not cure you. It will help you, and help you to be less hard on yourself in the midst of a breakdown of any size.

The spoon theory is also one of my older-time favorite things to remind myself of. The theory focuses on physical health and illness, but your mental state can cripple what you can do physically. Not only do you have physical spoons each day, but you also have mental spoons. You can only pick up so much with each one, and you can only have so many, until you have to set them down and wash them, to be able to use them again.

I’ve never really had too bad of mental illness, but it’s there, for sure.So yes, even a shrink’s kid suffers from mental illness.

Do you want to know how I cope when my head tries to get in the way? Let me know in the comments, please!