Cicadas in the Morning

Life in the South wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t hear cicadas in the morning.

These bugs are kind enough to let you know that “it’s warm out today” and, as all is Southerners know, that’s what it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. They’re tiny little Captain Obvious(es) letting us know that our air-conditioning units are well worth their weight in gold.

The thing about these bugs is that they only make their noise in the summer months. Another thing is that they she’s their exoskeletons and kids like to play with them. That part creeps some people out and I remember not wanting to touch the husks as a kid.

I remember David Letterman doing a bit where the audience member was picked to look at a picture to say if it was a cicada or if it was John Cecada. Needless to say, it was a close up of something hairy. I don’t suspect anyone here has ever looked at a cicada close enough to care it had hair. In fact, if a Southerner is close enough to look at one they’re going to kill it.

You must kill a cicada quickly. If you do not, it makes a horrible noise as it flops about trying to escape. Or attack. All I know is they become irradic and loud when you are killing them, so make the death swift.

In short… You know you’re in the South and it’s hot when you hear the cicadas making their mating calls.

It’s Time to Exercise More

Summer Heat

I live in Alabama and today’s high is 86 degrees Fahrenheit , but let’s add in the two wonderful factors of the Heat Index and Humidity. The current humidity is 62%, so that means that my sweat will not be evaporating and cooling me. My sweat will be leaving my skin slick and sticky. The Heat Index is adding about 4 degrees to the temperature. The clouds that accompany the humidity are trapping “Ozone” gasses in the valley between Red Mountain, Shades Mountain, Ruffner Mountain, and Double Oak Mountain giving a nice air quality alert. The clouds have also been kind enough to amp up the UV Index.

“Oh the HUMIDITY!”

Well, let’s take that nice, warm and fuzzy feeling that comes for the heat of the south and add in the factors of physiology. I have a heart condition that requires me to take a beta blocker and my cardiologist believes that I have peripheral artery disease (PAD), so I’m on Crestor. What do these two medications do? Well, according to some doctor that talked to the American Heart Association, it will make me more prone to having heat stroke or heat related issues. Yay… not.

So… the heat is draining me and making it hard for me to function outside, but I want to function outside. What can I do to make myself more functional? Hmm… Exercise?

Exercise?

I enjoy many outdoor activities and plan on using some of those activities to help me to get into a better shape to face the heat. As it stands, I need to loose about 20 lbs (if not more).

I have a theory that if I exercise outside, that perhaps my body will adapt to the heat and it will not bother me as much. The heat has been affecting my horseback riding performance and stamina. It’s, also, been affecting my heart condition. Now… I will say that I have not consulted my physician, but he knows I like to do outdoor activities.

My torture of choice will be cycling. This will include mountain biking, road biking and whatever is in between. I am hoping to do some swimming and kayaking as well, but the cycling will allow me to work on stamina.

Step one, will be to get the bike(s) ready to roll. Two, have recently had tune-ups and two have not. I believe one should be good to go without anything major, but the other one needs some TLC.

Accountability

Oh boy. I can get going on something and my ADHD takes me off in another direction. I have enlisted a buddy to do road cycling with. I hope that we will be able to hold each other accountable and get some riding done. We both want to get into shape and feel better. Plus, it gives someone to ride with so I am not alone on the mean streets.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Just kidding…

This is not the required capstone class that makes you write out goals and think them over, so I am just going to make the goals the way I want and I’ve already explained them. So on that note….

Good night everybody…

The Elephant in the Room

Image result for elephant in the room

The American Elephant

Most Americans live a “bubbled” existence.  They go on with their day-to-day lives completely ignorant of the things around them, or not caring.  Some of these people are the ones who complain about stop signs, or perhaps even the word “BUMP” being painted on the road to notify drivers there’s a speed bump.  Some are naive and lived a closed, sheltered existence.

Whether people chose to ignore things or choose not to believe in them, makes no difference.   In the safety of this bubble, people are creating problems where problems do not exist.  They are ignoring what the true problem.

What is the American Elephant?

The American Elephant is the “elephant in the room” that no-one wants to talk about.  It is the social pariah and the antithesis of vogue.  But it’s real, it’s here and it’s not going anywhere.

It’s mental illness.

Did you know that May is the National Mental Health Awareness month?  Or at least that was the idea in 1949 (Wikipedia National Mental Health Awareness).   I did a little internet search to find out what health awareness May was for and the government is calling it “Melanoma/Skin Cancer Awareness” month (healthfinder.gov).  I found another site that mentioned some other illnesses.

So, there’s a small group trying to celebrate Mental National Mental Health Awareness, but it’s not catching on…

The Facts

Let’s look at Depression.

  • In 2016, an estimated 10.3 million U.S. adults aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment. This number represented 4.3% of all U.S. adults.
  • An estimated 44% received combined care by a health professional and medication treatment.
  • Treatment with medication alone was least common (6%).
  • Approximately 37% of adults with major depressive episode did not receive treatment.
National Institute of Mental Health

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So in the U.S. there are millions of people who suffer from depression and over half are not getting the proper treatment.

Let’s add Anxiety into the mix…

Did You Know?

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
  • People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America

So, the amount of people that are not being treated for depression is the same amount as the people who are getting treated for an anxiety disorder.  To me, that says that the U.S. as a whole is more aware of Depression than Anxiety.  Anxiety is a whole can of worms itself.

Here is a taste:

Facts

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.
Women are twice as likely to be affected as men. GAD often co-occurs with major depression.

Panic Disorder (PD)
PD affects 6 million adults, or 2.7% of the U.S. population.
Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.

Social Anxiety Disorder
SAD affects 15 million adults, or 6.8% of the U.S. population.
SAD is equally common among men and women andtypically begins around age 13. According to a 2007 ADAA survey, 36% of people with social anxiety disorder report experiencing symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help.

Specific Phobias
Specific phobias affect 19 million adults, or 8.7% of the U.S. population.
Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.
Symptoms typically begin in childhood; the average age-of-onset is 7 years old.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are closely related to anxiety disorders, which some may experience at the same time, along with depression.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD affects 2.2 million adults, or 1.0% of the U.S. population.
OCD is equally common among men and women.
The average age of onset is 19, with 25 percent of cases occurring by age 14. One-third of affected adults first experienced symptoms in childhood.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD affects 7.7 million adults, or 3.5% of the U.S. population.
Women are more likely to be affected than men.
Rape is the most likely trigger of PTSD: 65% of men and 45.9% of women who are raped will develop the disorder.
Childhood sexual abuse is a strong predictor of lifetime likelihood for developing PTSD.

Major Depressive Disorder
The leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44.3.
MDD affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7%of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.5 years old.
More prevalent in women than in men.

Persistent depressive disorder, or PDD, (formerly called dysthymia) is a form of depression that usually continues for at least two years.
Affects approximately 1.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. (about 3.3 million American adults). Only 61.7% of adults with MDD are receiving treatment. The average age of onset is 31 years old.

(Source: National Institute of Mental Health)

Related Illnesses 
Many people with an anxiety disorder also have a co-occurring disorder or physical illness, which can make their symptoms worse and recovery more difficult. It’s essential to be treated for both disorders.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are closely related to anxiety disorders, which some may experience at the same time, along with depression.

Read on to learn more about the co-occurrence of anxiety and these disorders:

Anxiety Facts

These are the two illnesses I will touch on and make my case in point about.

What is my point?

Well, I thought you’d never ask.

People are and have been quick to blame guns on deaths in the media.  The Armalite (AR-15) rifle taking the brunt of the blame, because it’s a reliable and responsibly priced gun.  Mainly it gets blamed, because people think that AR stands for automatic rifle.  No, it’s the name of the manufacturer.

But let’s be honest. Let’s look at the forever infamous Columbine incident.  Yes, he used a gun, but WHY did he do it?

Let’s look at it like a Murder Mystery.  A murder must have the following: opportunity, means and motive.  But there’s, also, a trigger that makes that person take that step.

The  TV show Criminal Minds dives into the mind of a killer and the detectives use psychology to profile the killers.

Back to Columbine, what happened to that kid to make him snap?  He was bullied, but there may have been a lot of other things going on at the time.  It’s very likely he was one of those millions that had a problem, but was not getting treatment. Dealing with a bully isn’t easy and there are adolescents that have opted to end their lives rather than deal with a bully.  This kid snapped, took his means, opportunity and motive to school with him.

My question is this, why hasn’t anyone talked about Mental Illness?

Robin Williams, Chris Cornell, and Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.  Why? That’s one question to ask. How? That’s another good one.

The thing is, if someone wants to kill themselves or someone else they will find away.  If you watch enough Midsomer Murders (which is a UK based Murder Mystery Series), you find that most of Barnaby’s murders do not involve guns.  If you watch Luther (another UK based show), you will see that guns aren’t killing people.  The point being that the United Kingdom banned guns and their police do not carry guns like American policy (I believe that’s changed), but even in a society without guns there is still death and murder (I do realize I am referencing fictional shows).

You can take away a man’s gun, but you cannot stop him from murder if it is on his mind.  In the oldest story of homicide, Cain killed his brother with a jawbone.  Which fulfilled the means to his opportunity and motive.

Why did they do it?  That’s the important question.  That needs to be the focus.

Statistics don’t lie.  There are millions who are suffering from mental illnesses and do not get treatment.  A person’s mind can only go so far before it snaps or breaks down.  When that happens, there’s no telling what the outcome may be.

Let’s put it out there. Let’s shove that elephant up on the stage and say, “Mental Illness needs awareness.”  This is something that cannot and should not be ignored.

Raise awareness.  Get educated.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Please visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website.  This site educational and is ready to help anyone in need.  They, also, offer a blog on HealthUnlocked where you can find more help and information about mental illness.

 

“With God all things are possible”

The Daily Struggle

Some days are better than others and some days I just want to find a nice rock to crawl under and vanish.  Being able to get through the good and the bad is not something that has to be done alone.

When people go through the “rehabilitation” process, may it be getting over drugs or an injury, the counselors talk about how it is important to have a support system.  I remember doing an exercise where I was tasked to draw a tree.  After I drew the tree, I was told that the tree represented me and that the roots (pictured or not) were my support system and the branches were all of the things drawing away from who I am.  A tree cannot stand without it’s roots and you alone cannot stand without a support system.

A support system is your family, your friends, your confidantes, your therapist, your pets, and God.  A building a relationship with God can help you grow stronger and face things that you may or may not have been able to face alone in the past.  The definition of being a Christian is allowing God into your heart and seeking God out.  God calls all of us to seek Him out and it’s important to heed that call.

There are going to be forks in the road, there are going to be life changes, and there are going to be struggles.  I am the first to admit it is not easy to open up about feelings or personal struggles, but the easiest person to open yourself up to is God.  Why?  Because God knows what is in your heart, whether or not you do.

When you hit that wall and you think you cannot get past it, pick up your Bible and seek God.  He knows what’s going even if you are not sure yourself.   Ask Him for guidance and, this one is very hard for me, for help.

Remember in that moment of darkness you are never alone.

Here’s a Valkyrie Poster my friend gave me when I was feeling down:

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High Anxiety, Depression Low

Manic Depression isn’t called that anymore, but Jimi Hendrix made it sound so good on his song….

“Manic Depression’s touching my soul,
I know what I want,
but I just don’t know how to go about getting it.

Feeling, sweet feeling
drops from my finger, fingers
Manic Depression’s captured my soul.

Woman so willing the sweet cause in vain,
you make love,
you break love,
it’s-a all the same when it’s…
when it’s over.

Music sweet music,
I wish I could caress, caress, caress.
Manic Depression’s a frustrating mess.
Well, I think I’ll go turn myself off an’ go on down.

Really ain’t no use me hanging around.
Oh, I gotta see you.”

I was thought to have bipolar disorder, which is what they now call Manic Depression, when I first went to a doctor about my depression.

I was 25 when I realized that there was no way I could handle the tempest alone. I call it a tempest because there are calm moments and there are moments of utter rage. Moments that sink ships and moments of beautiful sunrises. Like a tempest, things can change so quickly.

I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, not bipolar disorder.

This does not change the fact that I am up and I’m down. That I’m left and I’m right. I still have this tempest that torments me.

It’s so hard to share the bad moments with someone. You only want them to see the good in you. But honestly, the bad moments are you too. If you don’t share your bad moments, then you are only making yourself suffer more.

I’m one to talk, because I don’t like to share my bad moments and that’s something I’m going to work on. Let’s not be ashamed of who we are and own up to it and share it.

School Stress

I just went through the commencement ceremony to graduate by his past Saturday.

My teacher messed with my grades to submit my final grade and he put one down as a 0. My grade dropped and I now no longer qualify for my diploma.

I emailed him and now I await his response. The 0 he gave me was for a group project that I did that won an open Expo with people not in his class.

My group mates have 100s and I have a 0.

I do not like waiting. My anxiety is screaming!!!

I keep watching my email for his response. Gah!!!!!