Offering You a Smile

A smile is a gift. It is a welcoming recognition of another person’s spirit and serves to connect with others in a meaningful way. On, April 12, 2019, a team of psychologists from the University of Tennessee found that smiling can make people feel happier. They combined data from 138 studies testing more than 11,000 participants and found that facial expressions have an impact on our feelings. This rings true for me. I certainly feel happier and more synergistically inclined when anyone, be it a stranger, or a friend, flashes me an honest smile.

Smiles are impossible to find these days, in the streets or in the stores, and while we may feel a temporary jump of joy at buying such things as; soap in the shape of a big toe, or a pair of it’s okay to fart socks, or a Maserati sports car, eventually the glee of owning something new fades away leaving only emptiness in your heart. Truthfully, the only substance in our lives is created by maintaining and forming new connections with other human beings. Joy is better times two. We are without a doubt happier, healthier and stronger with regular human interaction.

Harvard Health Publishing, printed an article; The Health Benefits of Strong Relationships, declaring that, ‘Good connections and social support can improve health and increase longevity.‘ And it went on to state: ‘For many of us, the holidays mean family gatherings, getting together with friends, and participating in special religious, community, and workplace activities. Such occasions are an opportunity to check in with each other, exchange ideas, and perhaps lend some social support to each other.

Social connections like these not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have social support from family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.

Conversely, a relative lack of social ties is associated with depression and later-life cognitive decline, as well as with increased mortality. One study, which examined data from more than 309,000 people, found that lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50% — an effect on mortality risk roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physical inactivity.’

We all know at our very core just how important human touch is for our health and welfare. It is the weakest among us who need people around them the most. The miraculous healing benefits of a loving touch has been seen time and time again in hospitals and care centres, and was clearly demonstrated in the CNN story on YouTube called, The hug that helped change medicine. Doesn’t everyone deserve a hug from someone who loves them? It is time to reevaluate the data on asymptomatic spread. There is more and more information coming out which proves people without symptoms pose no threat. We must use our good sense instead of our fears. There is always a tipping point when good intentions fail. Have we gone over?

“Sometimes I feel so— I don’t know—lonely. The kind of helpless feeling when everything you’re used to has been ripped away. Like there’s no more gravity, and I’m left to drift in outer space with no idea where I’m going.”

-Haruki Murakami

Dealing With Depression

September 2009 to March 2010-18

The heaviness is daunting; your body weighs more than it should, even if you’re the size of a twig. The effort to accomplish anything in your day is like wading through chest deep water to get it done. You pretend to be fine but your emotions range from sad to numb. Hope is far from your heart, you think it is a magical feeling at the end of someone else’s rainbow. You wonder why you can’t rise up out of this dark funk. There must be something seriously wrong with you. Some fatal flaw, and if anyone sees it— they will walk away, and you will be even more alone than you already feel.

I’ve been there, on the edge of actually living, in the deep depths of personal anguish. It’s not something easily shared. It can be hidden from everyone who loves you. It’s both frightening and amazing that even as you toy with the idea of ending it all— no one knows.

Addiction and mental illness runs strongly through my bloodlines on both sides. So I am a well-bred pony for running the distance with alcoholism, depression, and bi-polar. I experienced depression on and off in my life. Thankfully I am well now and throughout my years of struggle with this very private affliction I discovered essential practices that hastened my healing dramatically.

Step one is to seek professional help. If you are reluctant to do so because you fear the stigma or other reasons, then try the steps I have listed below, they can be effective for mild depression. However, if you commit to the following steps and they do not help please, please, seek professional guidance.

Step two is by far the most important self-help step; this is like making sure you put on a seatbelt before you go on a roller coaster ride. Practice appreciation; find the time to feel reverence for life each and everyday. I understand the walls you have built up inside yourself might not allow the feeling of appreciation to get through at first, so practice on small things. Maybe a dazzling butterfly that landed in your garden? Or the sunlight shining down through the grey clouds? Maybe observe the perfection of the tiny fingernails on a baby’s hand? Or become mesmerized by the soft curved eyelashes on a sleeping toddlers face? The point here, is to try and find love and appreciation for something that opens your heart. If you begin to feel the positive flow of love and appreciation extend it to yourself. Then expand it to include other people, moments, and things. It can be a two-minute practice a few times a day. Or a longer practice once a day. The trick is to get your mind moving out of the negative thought patterns that inundate you when you are depressed. I came across a video on you tube quite a few years ago and if you are having troubles opening your heart to appreciation it may bring aid. You might need a Kleenex box beside you when you watch it, A good day with Brother David Steindl-Rast. (click on A good day and Shazam you’re at the video)

Step three is to withdraw from the news, and any sort of TV shows encouraging judgement of others. When we are depressed all we hear is our own negative judgement on ourselves and on our lives. Hearing judgement of others and seeing it on TV just reinforces our dark side if you will.

Step four is to engage in some type of exercise. Again, I realize this isn’t an easy task because the last thing you feel like doing when you are walking through water chest deep everyday is to exercise. Trust me and do it anyway, maybe go swimming; you’re in the water anyway. It will help. I promise. You don’t need to spend hours at the gym. Start slowly— ten minutes a day, five minutes? Whatever? Just do something and then increase the time you do it every few days.

Step five is to buy a herbal cleanse, of course check with your health care provider to ensure it is compatible with anything else you might be taking. They might pooh pooh the whole idea but poop, pooping can be very good for you. Think about it this way, our intestines are like long lines of curved pipes, over our life they accumulate sludge and chemicals from the food we eat. Just like the pipes in the house, depending on what you put in them, the sludge will build up to the point of affecting the septic system. It’s the same with your body. A cleanse will loosen up the sludge and clear it out. The chemicals in the sludge could be contributing to the way you feel. I have one word of caution for you if you begin a cleanse— toilet. Stay close to a toilet during the first few days.

Step six is to watch your diet. I know– now you’re thinking this blog sucks, not only does she want me to exercise, quit watching TV and destroy my bathroom with a ridiculous amounts of pooping, now she wants me to diet! What a bitch! Yes, I can accept that. I actually want you to call me every rotten stinking name you have stored away in your hostile little heart. Get it all out. You can even call me the C word, and I hate that word more than Donald Trump himself. I just want you to feel better. I want you to find that spark inside your heart and tend to it until you have a roaring blaze of life inside you. So back to diet, it’s pretty basic, eat vegetables, fruit, protein, whole grains, healthy oils and fats like avocado oil, olive oil, grape seed oil and butter, limit your sugars, use NON-GMO when possible, and go ahead and cheat occasionally. However, when you cheat be prepared for the addictive nature of sugar, once you have the chocolate bar your going to want more, same with salty snacks. Being forewarned is forearmed against food craving attacks.

Step seven is to limit your contact with people who push you into the spiralling dark hole of hopelessness. If you are in a close relationship with them they will notice your absence. That means you might have to take a couple puffs of a big gagger and give it to them straight. If you can do it without the puffs, all the better, but it doesn’t mean you get to be nasty and accusatory. Just be firm, this is your life. Tell them like it is, you are working on getting well and you need some distance. Anyone who truly cares for you will support your decision.

Step eight is to keep a journal and write whatever you want in it, and then burn the pages when you are done. It is an emotionally purifying exercise where you can vent and then release the emotions by turning them to ash.

Step nine is to meditate, or practice Reiki, or Qui Gong, these practices allow for a positive frame of mind. They all aid in letting go of damaging beliefs. Research each and see which one appeals to you. I practice Reiki myself because I can easily access love and acceptance for myself within the practice. Meditation and Qui Gong are excellent as well, and there are many free practices to be found on YouTube.

Step ten is to unplug from technology period. No social media, no checking status or messages. Who’s more important to your survival? Other people or you? Go for a walk without your phone, listen to music, have an epsom salt bath, whatever, just please, find out how good it feels to unplug. It’ll be difficult at first but I know you can do this. People had no technology for hundreds of years and they were much happier for it. An hour a day away from electronics will not kill you. That’s my mama talking.

So go ahead and kick depressions butt, it doesn’t have to rule your world. You can change your outcome. You can find joy again. The only thing you have control of in this entire world is you. So get hopeful, and practice the steps which make you strong. You’ve got this lovely person.