Shock therapy

ECT aka Shock treatment – Barbaric or Helpful?

Scrolling through Facebook last night I came across a blog post by Dr. Caroline Leaf, specializing in Neuropsychology, who in her blog wrote about ECT treatments for mental illnesses. Now, Dr. Leaf’s blog post was not too long to get the full story, but in essence I felt there is rather strong disagreement with the general use of Electro-Convulsive Therapy.

Please know, that I do love and appreciate the work on the neuroplasticity of the human brain of Dr. Caroline Leaf and all of her wisdom.

As an advocate for a broader mental health awareness, and also someone, who experienced ECT several times on my own brain (the latest one in Jan 2017), here is my viewpoint on this controversial subject:

My experience with Electro Shocks

Despite the fact, that the ‘ECT treatment’ I received was always administered without my, or my family’s consent while I was unwell, now I would say it had its place. Upon reflection on it, if it was not for the ECT’s (given to me during several different hospital admissions and only after all other efforts using medication failed) there was a high chance that I may have not recovered so quickly from what was very debilitating and hard to manage condition.

The shock treatment has had for a very long time, a very bad reputation. To me that is mainly due to its portraying in the media for its past administration without the use of anesthetics and relaxants. That could be the very scary bit, that nobody would like to experience. However, nowadays it is given with full body anesthetic and relaxants injected into the bloodstream of the ‘poor’ patient. One goes to sleep long before the electrodes touch the head and wakes up afterwards without any pain. Just like after other successful operation.

So the barbaric associations that this ‘treatment’ has in the society is a little bit unfair. This is also due to the “One fly over the Cuckoo’s nest” movie, that had its place in showing the bad aspects of mental institutions back in the day. Nowadays, there are still surely not a place one likes to be held in, however, it all comes down to having good doctors and nurses, who make the big difference in any hospital environment.

Side Effects of ECT

While ‘my’ first ECT had a significant effect on memory loss and some other cognitive functioning, which affected my work abilities and my confidence, I am now able to express gratitude and accept this as one of the more effective methods of the mental health industry. Overall I had several instances when it was the last resort used by the treatment team and it was actually the one thing that really worked.

So unless you had ECT on yourself, please do not spread more fear and misunderstanding about it. There is greater need for more clarity and awareness though. Thank you for reading my thoughts on this. And if you or someone you know experienced ECT personally, I would love to read your thoughts in the comment box below.

Joy and clarity

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Writers Block An Obstacle Or Opportunity?

Since the time I was a child I loved to write things down. Whether it was a list of things to do, or thoughts that seem of value to me; poems or a song, I jotted it down on paper.

Oftentimes I had been even writing down things after I went to bed at night. Into my notebook positioned conveniently on the bed-rest. Peculiar as it may sound, it was in total darkness, as I knew the light from my room could potentially alert my parents.

I found some of my writing organized and practical, and some scattered and creative. I realized back then already, that if I wanted to recall some of my thoughts and ideas, which came to me especially at the evening hours, I needed to collect them on paper.

The one skill that proved to become one of my immensely valuable and cherished skills was touch typing, which I learned back in college. And once I learned to transfer thoughts onto a computer screen with a speed of light (almost), my writing took on a different dimension.

While writing can be seen as a rather lonely and personal experience, it’s also way more than that. When we transfer thought process onto some medium, we enable it to become widely available and to spread to other people.

There is often a mysterious touch in many of writings. The mystery is that until I, as the writer, start touching the keys on a keyboard, it’s not very obvious what will come out of it.

You could call writing an art, if you like. As before the piece is written, it sits somewhere in the collective space, awaiting creative discovery.

What about the writer’s block?

There could be variety of reasons why a writer experiences a writer’s block. Just a simple change in life circumstances can lead to a block in the flow of writing. My block came after some unforeseen events considering my mental health, and continued for quite a while, not getting addressed.

The fact that I was feeling truly uninspired to write anything down was really a change for me. The thought process behind this block was something on the lines of ‘not knowing enough to share’; ‘not being as great as I seemed’ and just feeling down generally.

What helped me personally to get out of this self-absorbed situation was one video that I watched not too long ago. The message that stuck with me from this video was about the consistency skill of real writers. Writing no matter what. Even if one doesn’t feel like there is actually something to write about, write anyway.

I took on this little challenge with myself and decided to get back into writing more regularly than in the last few years. And while my current writing may not yet be (at least in my eyes) so content rich, I am feeling good about the simple change in the process.

The soft touch of the keys I type on, the jerked flow of ideas, each sentence that comes into life, the proverbial electronic smell of freshly printed words on paper….all that gives me some form of satisfaction.

So if I was to give any prospective or stuck writer a hand with their flow, it would be this:

Sit down every day at your computer, respectively with a real paper and pen. Open the notepad and close your eyes for a brief moment. Relax your thought process and hands. Take a deep breath. Ask for a title to come to you. Once it does, open your eyes. Write down the title. And as you do that, some words may pop through….continue writing them….persevere…correct as you go along…adjust your writing…continue…

Write a few paragraphs every day and make it a consistent habit. Flow will come with more practice.

Enjoy this creative art form and share your ideas with the world. There is always space for one more article, in the world of internet. 🙂

How Can I Have It All And Still Be Unhappy?

I have heard it many times before, if only in my mind. What do YOU have to complain about? You have all one can ask for, and more, yet you are still feeling down at times.

How is that possible?

Yes, in my past, I had made some rather defining life choices, which led me to live in a country with almost constant sunshine all year round. That alone should keep a smile on my face constantly, if nothing else.

And then as I compare my life situation with people who live in parts of the world where there is no running water, where there is no sanitation or where there is not enough fresh food, I have to feel more blessed again.

So where is this underlying un-satisfaction coming from?

The unhappiness comes from deep down inside, where I know that there is more to me than what I’m currently exhibiting. For so long I have been fed the phrase ‘unlimited potential’ that I later started to believe it. And then the unfulfilled feelings came in.

When I developed the so called ‘mental illness’ in the later years and by being repeatedly told how serious it was, it started to affect me and eventually I started to believe it.

I started to look for and see evidence of my disabilities in my every day life. It seemed that I am not as capable as other people around me. I would see others and think to myself: I wish I was that confident. I wish I was such a good communicator. I wish it was so easy to make friends for me. I wish I had more to say. I wish I had such a good memory. I wish I could I wish I could… just be myself and be accepted.

Then I realized something important. The problem is not so much with wanting to be better than I perceive of myself. The main issue lied in the fact, that I have been craving other people’s acceptance, whereas not accepting myself fully the way I am!

As they say: ‘You can’t give of what you do not have first.

So on that note, here goes a fresh affirmation, to uplift my (and your if you like) self and to find the strength to be who I am, no matter what:

“I am who I am and that is good enough. I am good the way I am. There is more to me than I currently experience, and that is ok. I don’t need to be anyone different to be myself. I am full of light and I am loved. Events are unfolding according to universal principles, which I am part of. I know all is well and I am looked after on all levels. In every moment I get what I need for my Well-being and joy. All comes at the right time. I allow experiences to fill me up. My destiny is fluid and changeable. There is nowhere to go, nothing to achieve. Life flows.”

Who Defines Your Future?

Some moments in time we will feel up on the clouds and some other moments, perhaps right after the first moments, we might feel like the clouds don’t have the proverbial silver lining.

What defines each situation that we encounter on a daily basis? From my experience and knowledge acquired, I can say that each and every situation is not defined by the obvious components itself. It’s not what happens to us, yet it’s our reaction to it.

Yes, what happens is one part of the story. That’s the beginning. And then, what we do about it and how we respond is the main precursor in each scenario.

Now, what defines our response reaches deeper under our skin. Our response in each situation is governed by our personal beliefs, our values and our thoughts about the meaning of each situation.

Let’s presume that we both have been presented with a very similar course of events. Let’s say that we are both faced with some serious illness.

Now, you might be brought up in a different belief system regarding health and treatment of illness, than I. And while we both might believe in the healing power of human body to some extend, one of us might rely on its ability to heal utterly and without assistance, while the other person would choose a medical intervention. Our values, which are the factors that drive our decision-making, could also be different.

What you and I believe about medical intervention in response to the illness could be so vastly different, that the outcome of the situation we both have been facing might also be totally unrelated.

The reason why I’m stating this example is to show that our destiny is not etched in stone. There is a saying that ‘We are the masters of our destiny’. I would agree with this statement to a larger extend.

What happens to us is one thing. Maybe there is not much we can do about getting ill from time to time. Let’s assume that it’s so. However, what we do about it, when we are presented with the problem, is our choice.

Now, let me say, that I consider each side of the decision valid. Whether one person chooses medical treatment and the other person chooses natural treatment of illness, there is no judgement. Whether we would see their choice as right or wrong is only a matter of opinion. They however, have a right to make a choice based on their own values and beliefs.

Who says what experience in life is more valid? Who is the judge of that?

We are all here now and we will all die at some point in time. That’s the only certainty. So what we are choosing in life, as it progresses, is shaping our experience of now and the future.

And what would our individual life be worth, if it was not for our diverse experiences?

Self Image By Design

Let the sound of your breath guide you into the Abby’s of your internal environment. Let the mind ponder, let it jump, let it slow down, just for a brief breath, let it be still. Just for a moment. And then let it move again. Slow and fast, and slow and fast. And still again for another split moment when we experience the depth of eternity.

We are often here, breathing, yet not being present. Rarely we are being in the body, when so often the inclination of too many is to escape the prevalent discomfort through the faculty of the mind. Whether it’s the discomfort of physical feelings or uncomfortable emotions, we tend to fly away with the trickster that we have been given, our mind.

Having not yet mastered the faculty of imagination to a greater extend, we steep our mental pictures in repetitive worries, rather than enabling the creativity of new ideas.

Am I talking about you personally? If it feels that way, we have something in common.

We both have been given a gift. It’s more than a simple present. It’s not been wrapped, yet its hard to see it for what it is. Its value is greater than it’s size, yet it is rarely appreciated for what it’s worth.

At the beginning, we both received a breath of life, a body to carry us around and a mind to help us navigate the maze of life.
Now, that already makes for a gift of a lifetime! Mind you, our destiny is not preset by these gifts. The breath of life, the body to go with it and the mind to keep us occupied.

Well, what then shapes our destiny, you might ask? Though these surely are components in the universal equation, the most important particle is this. An intention. Yes, our intention.

The intention that precedes the getting up from bed every morning.  The intention to go with life or go against the flow of it. The intention to continue when the going gets tough.

And one core intention, which we make unconsciously, yet which is the most profound and most influential decision that we do make about anything. That is, the intent of ‘Who we are in each given day‘. Whether that is consistent or often changing, whether that is something we like being or who we don’t like to be.

Whether we put others on a pedestal and feel inadequate in comparison, or when we put on a pedestal our own self-image of who we NEED to be, to be good enough, we do us a disservice. The persona that is on the pedestal, is the problem that we have.

Can you relate? I certainly can. My persona on the pedestal is larger than life and so it’s seemingly impossible for me to match up to it. The problem is, that while I look up at the person that I have created as an ideal of myself, the better version of myself; the gap between who I see myself as and who stares at me from the screen is so large, that it feels absolutely impossible for me to merge the gap. Ever.

That my friend, is a huge self-d’-image issue. Are you still with me? Do you have a creeping suspicion, that what you want to become and where you are now are impossible to bridge? Welcome to my personal experience. 🙂

Now, a swap of hats….this is exactly the situation for a good Life Coach.

My personal Life Coach would be here to tell me, that it’s simple a matter of clarifying my end goal and then designing a plan to get there, step by step.

That sounds simple enough, and that is because it CAN BE just that simple. Time to re-adjust my life journey…join me if you are in the same boat.

Looking for suggestions?

  • Make a moment of silence or with soothing relaxing music.
  • Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath.
  • Stay focused on your breath. In and out, in and out….
  • After about 5 -10 minutes of breathing exercise, ask yourself a question:
    “Who do I want to be and what makes this person great?”

Take a pen and paper, if you like, and write down all that comes to you after you asked that question.

Reassess your current self-image and the answered image. Make a plan of actions to reach your ideal self. Get someone to hold you accountable.

Live your life.