May is here. Welcome to Beltane (May Day, a fun, vibrant holiday to celebrate the fertility of the coming harvests) and the most celebrated of the Pagan high sabbats. This is the time of year to welcome and share life, love, abundance and all the gifts of the Goddess. True, any time is the right time — yet this is when it's easiest to remember.
For those who are interested, here a bit of information about Beltane:
April 30th -- Beltane
Also known as Roodmas or May Day
Beltane is celebrated with feasts and rituals. As summer begins, weather becomes warmer, the plant world blossoms and exuberance can prevail. In old Celtic traditions it was a time of unabashed sexuality and promiscuity where marriages of a year and a day could be undertaken. Needless to say this is rarely observed in that manner today.
In the old Celtic times, young people would spend the entire night in the woods "A-Maying," and then dance around the phallic Maypole the next morning. Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night. May morning is a magical time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health.
Think of the May pole as a focal point of the old English village rituals. Many people would rise at the first light of dawn to go outdoors and gather flowers and branches to decorate their homes. Women traditionally would braid flowers into their hair. Men and women alike would decorate their bodies. Beltane marks the return of vitality, of passion. Ancient Pagan traditions say that Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, he desires the Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms, and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God. To celebrate, try a wedding feast, for the God and Goddess. Breads and cereals are popular, or perhaps oatmeal cakes or cookies sweetened with honey. Dairy foods are good as well... just make a lovely wedding feast and enjoy yourself! An early morning walk through a local park or forest could be fun for everyone. Gather up some plants or flowers to display in your home. Mothers and daughters can braid their hair, weaving in blossoms.
In the U.S., at the end of this month we have a three-day weekend to celebrate Memorial Day. Memorial Day is actually May 31st, but most of our holidays like that have been changed so that we get off Monday and have a three day weekend. I’m not quite sure why, but Memorial Day has turned out to be significant to me and my relationships. I met both my first and second husbands on Memorial Day. That’s always struck me as just a bit odd. As you can imagine, I tend to tread a bit softly on this day as well and I imagine I will from now on. Especially since both first and second husbands are ex-husbands!!
And now, an interesting bit of trivia for you:
Several years ago, May was declared Masturbation Month by the Good Vibrations toy store and education center in the San Francisco Bay area.
So, I hope you all are having and will have a wonderful May. To perhaps help some of you who may have a problem having a wonderful anything, I’m focusing this newsletter on depression again, but this time I am putting particular emphasis on male depression. I see this as a serious problem and one that is not addressed often enough. It just seems as if depression has become a predominately female “disease”. Certainly it is much more accepted in a woman and that is, I believe, the root of the problem.
So, to kick off this newsletter on male depression, I am thrilled to be able to present to you an article by a gentleman who had suffered from depression for a long time. Notice I said “had”!
Sit back, read and enjoy.
DEPRESSION AND SELF DISCOVERY
Not long ago I was the poster child for psychotropic drug use. Over a 23 year period my doctors had sequentially assigned to me the labels of Depression, Adult ADD and Bi-polar Disorder. With each diagnosis a new drug was assigned to my treatment regiment. At the peak I was taking Wellbutrin and Effexor (both antidepressants), Depakote (a mood stabilizer), Buspar (for anxiety) and Concerta (a timed released form of Ritalin). My life evolved around the monthly doctor visit where I would routinely receive a dosage increase or a new medication. I would follow each visit with a trip to my local pharmacy where I spent on average $750 a month to support my legal drug habit.
With three different mental illnesses I thought my chances of ever living a normal life were very, very bleak. I had been told over and over that I had a hereditary chemical imbalance and that I would have to be on the medicine for the rest of my life.
Then one December my psychiatrist went out of town unexpectedly. I cut my usual dosages in half in order to make it to my next appointment and something remarkable happened, I began to feel better. All of a sudden I was not as tired or depressed or agitated or suicidal. I had more energy and slept better at night.
When my doctor returned I told him what I had done. He berated me for “going off” my medication, wrote five new scripts and instructed me to get them filled immediately. He ignored my questions about why would I feel better with less medicine, or why would I have so much more energy with fewer pills.
I walked out of his office mad that he had ignored me and suspicious that I was not being told the whole truth. I began to suspect that the drugs were the cause of a lot of my problems. At that point I decided to stop relying solely on my doctor’s advice and start looking for my own information about my diseases and the medicine I was taking.
Over the next 12 months I worked with alternative health care providers and developed a plan to get off the drugs. Then after going through seven months of drug withdrawal I broke out of my pharmaceutical coma. I came out the other side of a long and dark tunnel free of Depression, Adult ADD and Bi-polar Disorder.
I also discovered that I did not know who I was. For over half of my life I had been on psychotropic drugs that had suppressed my emotions, including the good ones. For over half my life I had been numbed out to the world around me. I now struggle with knowing what I like, dislike or even what I want to do when I grow up. But I do not suffer from mental illness.
Jeffrey Wilson is a survivor of 23 years of psychiatric drug treatment, a former executive in the pharmaceutical industry and the author of Irrational Medicine: The Antidepressant Crisis and How To Avoid Unnecessary Behavioral Drugs. He is a recognized expert in overcoming depression and is passionate about each person's ability to recover and create a life full of joy and meaning.
For more information visit www.irrationalmedicine.com .
And now my few words on this subject:
According to a Newsweek, February 26, 2007 article, six million American men will be diagnosed with depression this year; and this is just the tip of the iceberg, because millions more suffer in silence.
American psychologists have been slow to recognize how men’s emotions affect their behaviors, perhaps this is because long ago their predecessor’s decided that having a uterus was the main risk factor in mental illness. Depression was viewed as a female problem.
Some symptoms of depression can be so severe (such as drug, sex or gambling addictions or alcoholism) that they are frequently misdiagnosed and mistaken for the symptom (i.e., the addiction issue) rather than the true cause which caused the depression in the first place.
Depression has been linked to heart disease and attacks, strokes and high blood pressure all of which affect men at a much higher rate and an earlier age than women. During the past 50 years, American men of all ages have killed themselves at a rate that is at least 4 times more common than women. And yet, with all these statistics facing us, men are still frequently told and definitely still believe that they must be the strong ones, the macho male figure and that depression is for the weak, certainly not for a real man.
What a bunch of bull is that!
The truth is that if you can imagine or visualize your life as a journey and a road that you travel, then you can also visualize that the road from point A (birth) to point B (death) is not always straight. Sometimes, there are mountains or lakes that we must or want to circumnavigate. There are side roads and trips that we might want to see. There are detours that we must take. We find that we must adapt to the demands of our environment. During the course of this journey and these detours, we sometimes find that we encounter “trigger points”. These “trigger points” are wounds that have not healed with time. Sometimes they are wounds that we carry around with us almost like a protective shield, but they are not protective nor are they a shield and they can cause you to experience anger, hurt, fear, guilt and depression.
When this occurs, subconsciously we might withdraw into ourselves in interpersonal relationships, or we might become oversensitive and react in a hurt manner without apparent reason, sometimes we become particularly hurtful, without actually wanting or meaning to. When this occurs, you have been given the opportunity, the ability and capability to bring the painful experiences (or trigger points) into the light. With the aid of hypnosis, you can look at these experiences under the soothing blanket of hypnosis and in this way you can begin much more quickly, the healing process.
The first step in this healing process is releasing and forgiving. Forgiveness is necessary to free your spirit. Releasing is the first step in the process of forgiveness and moving forward. When you release the hurt, bitterness, resentment, fear or anger that you are experiencing, you take back control of your own life. You feed your spirit and you increase your capacity for joy, love and happiness beyond measure.
This is not easy. As Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, a Harvard psychiatrist and author of “Dare to Forgive” states, “Forgiveness… has to be cultivated; it goes against a natural human tendency to seek revenge.” It is for this reason that he recommends getting help to accomplish this.
Trying to accomplish this by yourself, without help, using your conscious mind only can be a slow and uncomfortable process. By using the relaxation techniques utilized in hypnosis and your subconscious power, it is possible to increase the effectiveness of the releasing process. Working from the inside out, releasing negative thoughts that have been harmful and freeing the spirit so that the healing process and take place. “Repeat a positive statement often enough and it will become ingrained in your subconscious” says Adrian Calabrese, Ph.D., Woman’s World, October 18, 2005. This is why I frequently recommend that you listen to a recording or CD, allowing the recorded suggestions to flow over and through you, talking to your subconscious and insuring that your subconscious receives the positive suggestions that you seek to release the negative, start the forgiveness process and change your life forever.
Remember, anytime is the right time for a New Beginning.
Linda Simmon, C.Ht.
No poem this month, but poetry will be back in June.
If your mind drifts during the day, lighten up.
Bright lights increase both alertness and perception. You may actually work better and think sharper. Here's how it works. You know bright lights can keep you awake at night. But turn 'em on during the day and you've got an instant brain boost. Although one study suggested that blue light provides the biggest boost, any kind of light will do. The light has a direct impact on areas of the brain that are involved in alertness. Still not enlightened? Here's more: Research shows that bright-light therapy can also perk you up if you experience excessive daytime sleepiness. It works by getting your brain's internal clock and sleep/wake cycle in sync, so that sleep and wakefulness occur at the appropriate times.
Wouldn't it be nice to be impervious to stress? A buff bod helps.
Your blood pressure returns to normal more quickly after a stressful event if your muscles are toned. Think of it this way: Muscles are like a defense shield for your arteries. And there are more ways to control high blood pressure.
Giggle, snort, and laugh till it hurts. You — and everyone around you — will be healthier.
In a recent study, sounds of laughter or cheering triggered strong brain activity in listeners, particularly the brain areas that control the muscles of the face — which means listeners were primed to smile or laugh, too. The response was automatic — and contagious.
Wanted: Safe, cheap pain relief that doesn't come from a bottle, syringe, or patch.
Reach for your headphones. Listening to relaxing music for 20 minutes a day may mean feeling less "Ouch!" from osteoarthritis. Slow music works best — something with less than 80 beats per minute.
- Get this: If you think the years ahead will be better than the years behind, they will be.
But if you expect your health to decline with age, you may actually encourage that to happen. How? By taking a why-bother attitude, especially about staying fit. Instead, buck the odds and stay active, no matter how old you are, 39, 59, or even 99— an age you should aim to reach. And this goes for your emotions and mood as well. Think you’re going to be depressed and odds are you will be.
Imagine this: You're on a beach, with a cold drink in one hand and the latest best-selling novel in the other.
The salty beach breeze kisses your face while the ocean tickles your toes. You hear gulls talking, waves crashing, and the steel-drum band jamming. Feel like paradise? Great. That quick mental picture just improved your brain function. Keep your brain flexible by setting aside time each day to daydream about whatever you like.
When you hear the word "plastic," you might think of Tupperware, Barbie dolls, and smooth-skinned celebrities.
But plastic isn't a bad word, neurologically speaking. Brain plasticity is how scientists describe your brain's ability to reorganize neural pathways as a result of new experiences. In plainer terms, a plastic brain will learn -- and retain and use -- information better. So what's the price of plastic? About the cost of a pair of walking shoes. People who are fit have more plastic brains.
Corporate culture has it wrong: When you snooze, you win!
A daytime doze is a stress buster and heart protector. Just 30 minutes midday, three times a week, is all you need. Middle-aged working men who did just that cut their risk of a fatal heart attack and other heart problems by a whopping 37 percent.
Ever sit down at the computer with a family-size bag of chips, only to find it nearly empty by the time you log off?
There's a scientific reason for it. Normally, if you eat the same food for a period of time, your palate gets "tired." You feel full sooner and don't want as much. This is known as sensory-specific satiety. But get distracted -- by reading the latest celebrity gossip, catching up on e-mail, or playing computer games — and this appetite-control mechanism gets turned off.
Even if journaling doesn't make your love life or your career the epitome of perfection, there are other very real health benefits.
It can lower stress, lift depression, boost immunity, and cut down on trips to the doctor. Just remember, if you are journaling at night just before going to bed, focus on only the positive things, thoughts, ideas, dreams, etc. that you’ve had during the day.
- Great sex — if it is within a mutually monogamous relationship — may be one of the ultimate mood boosters.
In fact, semen contains powerful — and potentially addictive — mood-altering chemicals, including testosterone, estrogen, prolactin, luteinizing hormone, and prostaglandins. So although sex won't cure depression, it may boost mood if some of these chemicals are absorbed through the walls of the vagina.
If you have found this newsletter to be helpful to you and you know someone who you feel could benefit from these thoughts and messages please pass it on.Linda Simmon, C.Ht.
Don’t forget, every Thursday at Noon, Pacific Time, you can listen to Linda and her guests at www.contacttalkradio.com
or if you’d prefer you can also listen via your cell phone by dialing (646) 213-0005.
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