Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: How Common is it?

Research shows that 7% of American adults suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives. That’s a respectable number. Compare it to other medical/mental health issues:

1% have Celiac disease

3% have Hepatitis C

2.6% have Bipolar Disorder

30% have High Blood Pressure

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as:

A pathological anxiety that usually occurs after an individual experiences or witnesses severe trauma that constitutes a threat to the physical integrity or life of the individual or of another person.

PTSD is diagnosed if a person exhibits specific behaviors, such as flash-backs of the terrifying event, nightmares, intrusive or disturbing thoughts, avoiding places that bring back bad memories, numb feelings, edginess, restlessness.  It’s normal to experience these after any life-threatening or traumatic event, but with PTSD the feelings and behaviors persist after a reasonable time.

PTSD is mostly seen in war veterans, child abuse victims, and those who have survived trauma such as rape, torture, kidnapping, car accidents, plane crashes, bombings, and natural disasters.

Within roughly 4 years, 44% of people will recover from their trauma without specific treatment.

This natural recovery is likely seen in those who have a healthy self-esteem and a resilient nature; meaning an ability to adapt to adverse events and bounce back from stress. Resilient people are able to cope with what happened to them and find purpose in life.

In my medical practice setting (psychiatry), I see patients with PTSD regularly, some are doing well on medications and therapy, others not so well, with some turning to illicit drugs, while others plunge deep into depression. Sadly, there are some who can’t escape the torture of flashbacks and incessant anxiety and die by suicide.

Here’s something to think about – because we don’t know who has PTSD or who may be thinking about suicide, let’s be generous with our considerations and treat everyone with kindness. Recently I read about a suicidal man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge to his death. He left behind a note,

Would a small smile from a stranger really have made a difference for this man? I’d like to think yes.

Since we don’t know what people are going through and chances are you will brush shoulders with someone suffering deeply with PTSD, be a part of the solution and not the problem. Check in on your emotional barometer. If you feel testy, or fiery, press the pause button. Take a moment to chill and breath. Whatever is causing your turbulent mood will pass soon enough. Give yourself a time out before you go and give grief to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

Also, don’t argue unnecessarily. Be a peaceful driver. Hold a door. Never post derogatory comments on someone’s social media page. Don’t seek revenge. Say hi. Be patient. Pray for your enemies, and forgive those who trespass against you. Give the benefit of the doubt. Get to know people.

Life is difficult enough, but imagine trying to get through day after day with PTSD. If you or a loved one is living with it, I hope you have found help. If you need help see your health care provider or check out PTSD Alliance Also, In the U.S.: Call the NAMI helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI to find support.

Do you have PTSD? You are not alone! There is definitely hope for you and healing to be found. For all of us: let’s be kind always, and smile at strangers. You may be that one shining light to someone in desperate need. Look around you and remember, 7%.

The Happiest People Do These 4 Things Every Day

No one sets out to have a bad day. Can you imagine rubbing the sleep out of your eyes, stretching your stiff muscles while thinking,

Sure, you may not be in your best mood when you first get up, but you do want your day to go well, and be happy, yes? So how is it that you start out in a pretty good mood and poof: one text, one attitude, or an unexpected disruption steals your mojo and 180’s your disposition?

It happens to me all the time.

  I don’t like the tone of that email. Did she just raise her bushy eyebrows at me? What did he mean by we’ll see? She didn’t answer my text, she’s mad at me!  Why do I always have to clean the microwave? OMG – he didn’t say good morning back – what a jerk.

How can you and I stay happy? How do we avoid getting our cheerfulness and upbeat spirit eclipsed?

By not reacting.

You can’t change what people say and do any more than you can’t do anything about the awful weather. What you can change is how you react. A huge part of your happiness comes down to your interpretation of what’s before you, and your reaction to it.

React

Unless it’s a run for your life fight or flight kind of thing, don’t knee-jerk react. Pause. Take a couple of invigorating breaths and think before you speak, type, text, or act.

The happiest people do these four things every day:

  • Pause. For a short five to ten seconds and just breathe.
  • Remember: Think or say quietly to yourself, It’s my choice. I don’t have to react. I choose to have a good day and be happy.
  • Reflect: Look at the big picture. Does it matter? What are you trying to prove? Do you need another battle? How you behave now, or the decisions you make in an unthinking moment can cause serious damage to your reputation, relationships, and career.
  • Respond: Only after pausing, remembering, and reflecting can we respond appropriately to the situation before us.

Put things in perspective and don’t read too deeply into things. Not everyone has a hidden agenda or is passive aggressive. Let it go. Use your calm voice, offer encouragement, give kindness, be patient, imagine what it is like to be in “that” person’s shoes. Be mindful.

You and I are going to have a good, happy day. Fist bump! Let’s do it again tomorrow? Cheers!

happiness

Why I Stopped Sending Christmas Cards

Back in the good old days when I was growing up, Christmas cards were a big deal. My mother started signing and addressing stacks of them just after Thanksgiving. She must have sent two hundred! I’d offer my help by licking the stamps, placing the special Christmas series ever so carefully in the upper right corners of the green and red envelopes.

Each card we received was immediately taped to the long wall in our kitchen, serving as both a festive decoration and a reminder of how fond others were of us. My sisters and I would take our time browsing each neat row, oohing over the sparkly ones that dripped silver glitter onto our fingers.

When I grew up and had my own family, I carried on this tradition for a long time, until I began to notice a trend a few years back.  My door frames and fireplace mantle, which were always overflowing with photo cards and Christmas letters, were noticeably thinning with each consecutive year. I pared my card list from a hundred to fifty. Then thirty. Then sixteen. Twelve. Seven. Then none.

Though the Christmas cards and annual update letters are no longer a part of our family tradition, it is still for millions of families around the world. I’m actually ok with giving up the card exchange, here’s a few reasons why.

Less holiday stress: My husband and I would spend several hours a night over a week’s time individualizing and addressing the cards. When we graduated to the photo cards it become a little easier, but we spent more money. Inevitably there was the card that came Christmas Eve day. I didn’t send them one! I kicked myself for crossing that friend of my list. I felt like a jerk. Now that I don’t send any I feel much less stressed.

We have a smaller circle of extended family and friends: Christmas cards were a way to say hi to friends and relatives who we didn’t see on a regular basis. And, when our boys and our friends’ children were small it was fun to see how much they changed in a year’s time. Now that most of my aunts and uncles have passed away and our boys are venturing into adulthood, it’s time for new traditions. Also, even though we said we would, it has been hard to stay in touch with friends who have moved.

It’s a digital world: Why send handwritten snail mail cards when I can stay in touch with everyone digitally?  I can post pics online and text you all with instant delivery! It costs nothing but a small time investment, and it’s good for the environment. Or I could use a free online card service such as 123 GreetingsBlue Mountain, or Canva.

Is the traditional physical Christmas card approaching extinction? Hallmark says no way, but in my home it’s now history. It’s ok if you cross me off your paper card list. But please add me to your digital one. However you and I choose, it is a good thing to find a way to stay in touch.snoopy








Life Thoughts

Many of us zip through life at breakneck speed, starting too many days behind schedule and ending them with not enough hours to get it all done. Some of us forget to eat, don’t know how to stay healthy, or don’t pay attention to our sicknesses. Maybe that’s you. Often it’s me. I’ve been asked and yeah, have thought to myself,

What is the point?  Where did I go wrong?  How can I do this?  What is the reason for it all? Why am I so unhappy? Why am I here? Where is God? This world is a mess.

Why are we here? Is there…?

Yes! There is meaning. You are alive. You are here. You belong. You have a chance to do something. Even when everything around you is falling apart.

Take a deep breath and consider this. We live, we die. It all goes by too fast.

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Love God. Love your neighbor. Do good. Be present. Do your best work. Stop complaining. Don’t gossip. Don’t judge. Say I love you to whom it is due. Bloom where you’re planted. Give. Take care of what you have. Be non-toxic. Be considerate. Laugh more. Be a peacemaker. Plant hope. Reap joy. Shine. Be kind. Forgive. Don’t look back. Take good care of yourself. Live. 

We rush through our lives so eager to grow up, get a career, make and spend lots of money, climb to the next rung on the ladder. We are forever looking back or fantasizing the future that we neglect the present. The here and now. This day, this hour, this moment.

I’m not saying don’t ever look at the past – reflection is necessary for growth and learning. And only a fool wouldn’t make plans for the future. The point is to find balance, and in the process don’t forget to live. And that’s the meaning. The point of life, is simply to live. Wherever you are. Whoever you are. Whether things are good or bad, if you’re rich, or you have nothing. We live, we die. Too fast. No one is promised tomorrow.

Life is a gift. Life is life. So in honor of those who are no longer here with us, out of a spirit of love and a desire to believe despite our unbelief, let’s live together, you and me. Let’s do the best with what we have and where we are, so when our time is over here we can leave knowing we have no regrets.

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again. C.S. Lewis








To Be Successful You Must Do These 4 Things!

Merriam-Webster defines success as, “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame“. I think Webster completely misses the mark. Success is viewed differently depending on your culture, upbringing, social situation, work environment, and worldview.

It is not a one-size-fits-all standardized, measurable thing. No one would argue that the self-made millionaires, Edison/Einstein types, Hollywood stars, Olympic athletes, or Pulitzer Prize winners aren’t successful.

But in reality the super famous, geniuses, and wicked wealthy people represent such a small number. If we look at fame as an indication of success, Wired Science reports,

somewhere between about 1 in 10,000 and 5 in 10,000 (or 1 in 2,000) people in the world are successful.

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The truth is successful people can be found in every crevice of the planet. From the tiny fishing village of Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland, to the congested metropolis of Tokyo, Japan, you’ll find success.

Isn’t success simply accomplishing that which you set out to do? Whether it be a goal to climb the world’s ten tallest mountains or to climb out of poverty – you determine what you want to achieve. Anyone. Including you and I, can be successful.

There is no secret to success. Instead there’s a mindset, and opportunities. 

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To be successful in any area of your life, you must consistently do these 4 things

  1. Have a vision and establish clear goals and objectives
  2. Equip yourself with what you need to accomplish your vision
  3. Cultivate emotional intelligence
  4. Stay the course

#1 Have a vision and establish clear goals and objectives

Know what you want. Rather than wander aimlessly through life letting the “chips fall” where they may, decide what/where you want to be. And write it down.  Napoleon Hill, the author of The Magic Ladder to Success (Free PDF),  puts it in perspective:

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#2 Equip yourself with what you need to accomplish your vision 

Once you have your goals and a plan, you need the tools and the people to help. If you want to lose weight you’ll need to learn how to change the way you eat, and you need to move. Do you need to get a food scale, a gym membership, or a new pair of sneakers?

If you want to start your own business, you need education, training, and business mentors.

Make friends with the right people, surround yourself with good influences, and keep moving yourself forward.

#3 Cultivate emotional intelligence

Successful people learn to temper their emotions. They are empathetic, understanding, set the tone for their team, and know how to bring the best out in others. They keep their head in the game, and don’t sweat the small stuff. If you want to accomplish your goals you can’t be pouty, reactive, or vindictive.  I recommend either reading up on emotional intelligence or try taking a free class. A little emotional intelligence goes a long way.

#4 Stay the course

Success will find you busy working. Build on your strengths, be persistent, optimistic, and learn from your failures. There will be obstacles, set backs, mistakes as well as triumphs. The point is to never lose your grit.

Anyone who has set a goal and accomplished it is a success. Success does not happen overnight. It won’t drop from the sky, and it will never come if you turn around and admit defeat. It is a challenge, and that’s exactly what makes life zesty!

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These two!

Have you met someone and immediately thought, I like this person! You get talking and find you have so much in common; you like the same foods, the same music, and have similar world views. You are like two peas in a pod. Twins with a tiny umbilical cord, a matching set, two minds thinking as one. You even finish each other’s sentences.

What a glorious thing it is to find someone who ‘gets’ us, relates to us, and makes us feel at ease. We can pour out our heart and soul to and we know there is nothing we can’t say that will turn our “pea” away. That deep, mysterious connection with another human being is a magnificent gift.

It is irreplaceable.

Do you have someone in your life like that? If you do, don’t take that person for granted. The world is a better place and life is so much richer because of that one extraordinary individual.  Maybe you don’t, not yet. Or perhaps you do and just haven’t realized it.

Who would have thought this wombat and piglet would become best friends?

Credit: Photo by Rob Leeson/Newspix / Rex Features (1808299a) http://www.rexfeatures.com/stacklink/IFJIDKRTD

We can find kindred spirits in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and also in the unlikeliest places such as grocery stores or social media.  If you’ve found yours, that is so awesome! If you haven’t yet, don’t give up. Keep your eyes open.

 You never know who might be the right pea for your pod. 

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Where I Confess I am a Thief

I am a thief. Well, not in the traditional sense – I don’t go around breaking into houses, and I haven’t stolen candy from the grocery store since I was 5 years old.  But, I am doing the things Austin Kleon suggests I should be doing to unlock my creativity and produce some good stuff – I’m stealing like an artist.

In Steal Like an Artist, Austin’s definition of stealing is not unethical, illegal,or plagiarism. It’s about finding ideas out there that are good and stealing them, or “embracing the influence”. It’s the way art is done.

david bowie quote

art is theft

 

 

 

 

copy.

According to Austin, what to copy is tricky. He says,

Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes. The reason to copy your heroes and their style is so that you might somehow get a glimpse into their minds.

He continues,

That’s what you really want – to internalize their way of looking at the world. If you just mimic the surface of somebody’s work without understanding where they are coming from, your work will never be anything more than a knockoff.

I love this book because I suck at art, yet I am still an artist.  Aren’t we all artists?  The writer, blogger, dancer, chef, painter, mother, student, gardner, speaker, teacher, preacher, singer, photographer. This book is for all of us.

Whatever you love to do, do it! Appreciate the creative work of the masters or the rest who have mad talent and can serve as your muse. It takes commitment, drive, and persistence of practice to find your own unique artistic voice. Just don’t give up. Instead let’s get busy stealing, and in turn we will find our voice in the process.








Facing Death Every Day

Today's guest blogger is Pastor and Author Charles Spurgeon

I say this, Christian brothers, I have joy in what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for you. That is why I face death every day. -Paul the Apostle

We die daily, said the apostle. This was the life of the early Christians; they went everywhere with their lives in their hands. We are not in this day called to pass through the same fearful persecutions: if we were, the Lord would give us grace to bear the test; but the tests of Christian life, at the present moment, though outwardly not so terrible, are yet more likely to overcome us than even those of the fiery age.

We have to bear the sneer of the world–that is little; its blandishments, its soft words, its oily speeches, its fawning, its hypocrisy, are far worse.

Our danger is lest we grow rich and become proud, lest we give ourselves up to the fashions of this present evil world, and lose our faith. Or if wealth be not the trial, worldly care is quite as mischievous. The devil little cares which it is, so long as he destroys our love to Christ, and our confidence in him.

The Christian church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft and silken days than in those rougher times. We must be awake now, for we traverse the enchanted ground, and are most likely to fall asleep to our own undoing, unless our faith in Jesus be a reality, and our love to Jesus a vehement flame.

Many in these days of easy profession are likely to prove tares, and not wheat; hypocrites with fair masks on their faces, but not the true-born children of the living God.

Christian, do not think that these are times in which you can dispense with watchfulness or with holy ardour, you need these things more than ever, and may God the Eternal Spirit display his omnipotence in you, that you may be able to say, in all these softer things, as well as in the rougher,

we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.








Do you want the truth no matter what?

Does this dress make me look fat? How did you like my presentation? Did you enjoy your meal? Are you mad at me?

We all ask questions like these, but do we really want the truth no matter what?

When I was a teen I remember asking my dad if he liked my haircut – it was 1978 and I got the trending cut at that time, “The Dorothy Hamill” wedge. 

It look darling on her, but not so much on me. My dad validated what I already knew when he responded with, “Do you like it? If you like it that’s all that matters”.  No, I didn’t like it, and I was hoping he could convince me that I did. Instead he delivered the truth in the gentlest way he knew how.

Are you familiar with the old testament story of King David and Bathsheba?  David was the boy who slew the giant with a slingshot, and years later was appointed King of Judah. He was rich, beloved, and well, had everything a man could want, but I guess that wasn’t enough. One day he spied Bathsheba bathing across a distant rooftop. He immediately desired her and had her brought to his palace. He slept with her and she got pregnant. He later had her faithful husband Uriah murdered and then Bathsheba became his queen.

David’s advisor Nathan saw the evil in David’s actions and soon made him see it as well by telling David a parable about a rich man who stole from a poor one. David was livid that the rich man could be so heartless! Then Nathan dropped the bomb: you are the rich man.

David knew what he had done was reprehensible. He could have cast Nathan out from his court – but he didn’t.  He needed accountability and although it was painful, he wanted truth.

Sometimes we can be too involved or blind from our own denial that we don’t see things as they really are. Do you want the truth, even if it stings? My fingers are paused on home row. It’s a tough question.  I want to say yes because I know it’s the wise choice.  I can’t grow without truth. Yet it’s in my nature to avoid pain.

I think the best you and I can ask for is to have people in our life who are honest, but not brutal, who speak the truth in love

The more I think about it, truth trumps pain.  I may not like it, but I don’t want sugar coated lies.  Does this dress make me look fat? Obviously or I wouldn’t be asking. However…don’t be too quick to say yes lest I drop three sizes in self-esteem. Tell me it doesn’t accentuate my best features, or it’s a nice dress but I look stunning in the black one.

At the end of the day, I want truth. Not half-truths, not sugar-coated-beat-around-the-bush blah blahs. The truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God!  How about you? Truth, as in a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like? As in that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality?

I may not always like the truth, but it’s only the truth that will set me free.

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair. C.S. Lewis








Could Your Headache Be From Something Life-Threatening?

Headaches are a common complaint. The cause is usually minor, such as tension in the muscles, lack of sleep, allergies, or hunger.

Many people experience incapacitating migraine headaches, yet even those aren’t considered life threatening.

So when is a headache more than just a headache, but a sign of something more serious like a stroke?

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Any headache that is different than what you are used to, occurs in the very young or old, is accompanied by a stiff, painful neck, is preceded by a bump to the head, wakes you up from sleep, or comes on like a thunder clap, needs immediate medical attention.

when in doubt

Consider meningitis, an inflammation of the brain that causes sudden onset of headache, fever, and a stiff neck. Would you recognize it if you had it?

Any new headache is potentially worrisome. Add on other symptoms and there is no question there is a need for prompt, further investigation.  If your headache seems in anyway unusual for you, or is accompanied by any change in neurological function, an emergency consultation is necessary. If need be, call 911.