This Life Coach Has The Best Perspective On Dressing Room Anxiety

Because shopping shouldn’t involve body shaming.
Instagram @plankingforpizza

Jess Pack had a pretty discouraging experience in a dressing room this week. The 26-year-old Florida life coach—who goes by @plankingforpizza on Instagram—wrote in a post that while she was trying on clothes, the “terrible dressing room lighting” made her feel “lumpy and squishier than normal.” Cue what she calls the “itty bitty shitty committee” chiming in—AKA negative body talk. Pack caught herself hating on her body, and knew she had to make it stop. Her solution: Put on an outfit that she knew she could “rock the hell out of” and pose for the camera. She shared the photo on Instagram, along with an uplifting message to all women who’ve ever left a store with low self-esteem.

“I might not be where I want to be, but I refuse to let a bad shopping experience lower my self esteem and worth because I know I’ve worked hard and continually fight every day to be better than those demons,” Pack wrote. “I refuse to let a size or terrible fit of pants make me think I haven’t been trying hard enough or that I’m still where I started. You are so much more than what you look like or what pant size you are.”

Pack paired her inspiring message with the hashtag #cellulitesaturday, joining in on the viral trend of women proudly showing their cellulite on Instagram. She wants women to know any so-called “imperfections,” like cellulite, don’t have power over them.

“Never let something like cellulite or muffin top or a bad shopping experience make you feel less of yourself,” she wrote. “Those things do not define you unless you let them. Be better than those demons.”

Pack’s experience is, unfortunately, relatable for so many women. Commenters have thanked Pack for her inspiring words—”I needed to read this,” wrote one commenter—and others have shared how they squashed negative body talk, too. “Girl, I know exactly how you feel. The dressing room used to be my worst enemy, and I’m proud to say I’m in a good place with myself mentally and physically, even though I’m not quite where I want to be yet!” one inspiring commenter wrote. Over 12,000 people have liked Pack’s post to date.

Hopefully, Pack’s photo can help more and more women leave dressing rooms with their body confidence intact, feeling more beautiful than ever. As Pack perfectly puts it: “You are intelligent and loving and strong and so much more. You’re beautifully YOU.” Life hack: Write this empowering quote on a Post-it and keep it in your wallet for the next time you’re shopping.

Read Jess Pack’s inspiring Instagram post below.

Watch: Ashley Graham Says “Thick Thighs Save Lives”

8 Most Common Food Allergies

Food allergies result when your immune system mistakes a food you’ve eaten for an invader. Instead of digesting the food and using it as nourishment, your body launches an attack, which can lead to symptoms that range from mildly unpleasant to potentially fatal. In their most severe form, food allergies can cause life-threatening anaphylaxis.

When we talk about food allergies, it’s important to distinguish them from food intolerances or sensitivities. A true food allergy is a hypersensitivity of the immune system to a food component, usually a protein. With a food sensitivity, on the other hand, the immune system is not usually involved. For example, lactose intolerance is a food sensitivity. People with the condition lack the enzyme necessary to break down milk sugar (lactose), so when they eat dairy products, lactose intolerant people may experience gas, bloating and diarrhea. Although they may be uncomfortable and embarrassed, these symptoms are not life-threatening, as some true food allergies can be.

Here’s are the most common food allergies.

1. Peanut Allergy

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One of the most common food allergies, peanut allergy is also one of the most potentially dangerous. Peanuts are among the foods most likely to cause anaphylaxis and peanut allergies are on the rise. According to the Food Allergy Research and Education study, peanut allergies more than tripled in the U.S. between 1997 and 2008.

Unlike most other food allergies, which kids typically outgrow, peanut allergies are a lifelong condition—only about 20 percent of people with allergies to peanuts ever get rid of them. These allergies tend to run in families, with younger siblings of kids with peanut allergies at an increased risk of developing them, as well.

Peanuts are a member of the legume family; other members include peas, lentils and soy. Legumes differ from their cousins, the tree nuts (walnuts, cashews and almonds), in that they grow in the ground. Although people with peanut allergies are no more likely to be allergic to other legumes, they are more likely to be allergic to tree nuts. Recent research shows that between 24 and 40 percent of people with peanut allergies also have tree nut allergies.

Symptoms of a peanut allergy may include hives; eczema; stomach cramps; diarrhea; vomiting; runny nose; sneezing; itchy, watery eyes; and asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing. In its most severe form, peanut allergy can cause—within minutes—the sudden allergic reaction anaphylaxis.

Another reason peanut allergies are such a concern is that just a tiny amount of a nut can trigger a big reaction in sensitive people. If someone with a peanut allergy touches a surface where a peanut or some peanut butter sat and then touches his or her eyes, for example, it can be enough to set off a serious allergic reaction.

Because trace amounts of peanuts can spark a severe response and because peanuts can lurk in many unsuspecting foods, people with a peanut allergy—or any true food allergy—simply can’t be too careful. If you have a severe food allergy, you should carry an EpiPen at all times and make sure you and those around you know how to administer it and are prepared to use it at any time.

As a peanut allergy sufferer, you must also be vigilant about reading food labels. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires all foods containing peanuts that are sold in the U.S. to list the word “peanut” clearly on the label. However, keep in mind that the use of the phrase “may contain peanuts” is voluntary, so you still need to know what you’re eating.

It’s also important to be aware of foods and ingredients that may contain peanuts. These include the following:

  • Artificial nuts
  • Baked goods
  • Candy
  • Chili
  • Egg rolls
  • Glazes and marinades
  • Mandelonas (peanuts soaked in almond flavoring)
  • Marzipan
  • Nougat
  • Pancakes
  • Pet food
  • Specialty pizzas

2. Tree Nut Allergy

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Tree nuts are, as their name suggests, nuts that grow on trees. They include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts and cashews.

  • Tree nut allergies are similar to peanut allergies in that they tend to cause severe reactions and usually last a lifetime. Even fewer kids with tree nut allergies than with peanut allergies ever outgrow them. Tree nut allergies also tend to run in families, with younger siblings of children with tree nut allergies at an increased risk of developing them, too.

People with tree nut allergies are frequently allergic to more than one kind of tree nut, so they’re advised to avoid all nuts and to check all ingredients. The FALCPA now requires food companies to list specific tree nuts on all labels of foods sold in the U.S. Even so, those with allergies to tree nuts should be aware that these nuts can pop up in the most unusual places, such as barbecue sauces, flavored coffees and alcoholic beverages. (Note that alcoholic beverages are not required by the FALCPA to list potential allergens on their labels).

If you have a severe tree nut allergy, you should also look out for the following substances:

  • Gianduja (chocolate with hazelnut paste as an ingredient)
  • Litchi
  • Marzipan
  • Pesto

3. Milk Allergy

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Cow’s milk is the most common allergy in infants and young kids. About 2.5 percent of children younger than age three are allergic to milk. Those with an allergy to cow’s milk can also react to the milk of other animals, such as goats and sheep.

Milk allergy symptoms are variable and can range from mild to severe. Some individuals react after ingesting only a tiny bit of milk, while others can drink a moderate amount and react only slightly. Mild reactions tend to take the form of hives and severe reactions can include anaphylaxis.

The good news is that most kids with milk allergies outgrow them. There are also a number of healthy dairy-free baby formulas available, so mothers of milk-allergic kids who choose not to breastfeed have other options.

Luckily, the FALCPA now requires that all milk-containing products sold in the U.S. actually list the word “milk” on the label. Even so, it’s helpful for parents of kids who are allergic to milk—and for the kids themselves—to be as educated as possible on hidden cow’s milk sources. It’s also important to realize that milk can show up in the most unexpected places, such as in deli meat (when meat slicers are used to cut both meat and cheese), meats that use casein as a binder and medications that contain milk protein.

Here are some milk-containing ingredients to look out for:

  • Casein
  • Caseinates
  • Curd
  • Diacetyl
  • Ghee
  • Lactalbumin
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lactose
  • Lactulose
  • Recaldent
  • Rennet casein
  • Tagatose
  • Whey

4. Egg Allergy

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Egg allergies are also common in kids, second only to milk. Luckily, most children outgrow their egg allergy by age five. Those who are sensitive react to the proteins in the white of the egg. People with chicken egg allergies should also avoid eggs from ducks, geese, turkeys and other birds, because they may contain some of the same allergenic proteins. Symptoms of an egg allergy range from mild skin reactions to severe anaphylaxis.

Children who are most allergic to eggs can react after just smelling egg fumes or getting a tiny bit of egg white on their skin. Because eggs have the potential to cause anaphylaxis, those who are at risk should carry an EpiPen to use in the event of accidental exposure.

The FALCPA requires all egg or egg product-containing packaged foods meant for distribution in the U.S. to say “contains eggs” on their labels. But eggs can still show up in unexpected places, such as in surimi, the foam toppings of coffee drinks and on pretzels. (They’re in the egg wash used before the pretzels are dipped in salt). Therefore, you can’t be too educated about eggs’ many whereabouts. Some of the less obvious names for egg-containing ingredients include albumin (or albumen), meringue and ovalbumin.

5. Soy Allergy

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Soy is another common food allergen, especially in infants and children. About 0.4 percent of children have a soy allergy. Some kids outgrow it by age three and the majority outgrow it by age 10.

Soybeans are legumes (plants that have seeds in pods; other legumes include peas, lentils and peanuts). Having a soy allergy does not make someone more likely to have an allergy to another legume, such as peanuts, however. And in most cases, soy allergies tend to be much milder than peanut allergies.

Symptoms of a soy allergy may include hives, itching, eczema, canker sores, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or dizziness. More severe anaphylactic reactions to soy can also occur, but these are rare. Those who are at risk for an anaphylactic reaction from soy should carry an EpiPen. (You can learn if you’re at risk through specialized testing).

The FALCPA requires all packaged foods that contain soy and that are sold in the U.S. to say “soy” on the label. However, it’s still helpful to recognize foods and ingredients that may contain soy. These include the following:

  • Edamame
  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Shoyu
  • Soya
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

Beyond the obvious soy milk and soy products like tofu, soy can also be found in unexpected foods, including canned meats and fish, cereal, crackers, energy bars,and infant formula.

6. Fish and Shellfish Allergy

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Like peanut allergies, fish and shellfish allergies often stick with people for their entire lives. In fact, seafood allergy is one of the top food allergies among adults. It also sends more people age six and older to the emergency room than any other food allergy because like nut allergies, an allergy to fish and shellfish can bring on a severe anaphylactic reaction.

When it comes to seafood, those with fins are the most allergenic, with salmon, tuna and halibut being the worst offenders. People who are allergic to one type of fish are frequently also allergic to another. However, fish and shellfish come from different families, so having an allergy to shellfish doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll also be allergic to finned fish or vice versa.

In terms of shellfish, crustaceans within the shellfish family are most likely to cause allergic reactions. These include shrimp, lobsters and crabs. Unfortunately, these are also some of the most popular shellfish for people to eat.

If you are allergic to fish or shellfish and are at risk for anaphylaxis, you will want to avoid these foods at all costs. On a positive note, fish and shellfish hardly ever hide behind strange ingredient names or in surprising foods. And if a packaged food contains shellfish, the label must list it.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that deep fryers in restaurants are often used to fry multiple kinds of foods, so your plate of innocent French fries may have been dipped in the same oil as someone else’s fried seafood sampler Hibachi restaurants are another danger zone for people with seafood allergies, because chefs use the same open grill to cook everyone’s meals. If you have a shellfish allergy, your safest bet is to avoid seafood restaurants altogether and especially any foods that have been deep-fried.

In addition, because fish and shellfish allergies can cause anaphylaxis, carrying an EpiPen is a good idea for those who have these allergies.

7. Wheat Allergy

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Wheat allergies most commonly show up in kids, who usually outgrow them by age three. And just as a milk allergy should not be confused with lactose intolerance, a wheat allergy should not be confused with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, which is a sensitivity to the sticky protein (called gluten) that’s found in wheat. Wheat allergies in their true form are reactions to the proteins in wheat and are mediated by the immune system; IgE antibodies are secreted within minutes to hours after a person eats a wheat-containing food. Symptoms of a wheat allergy can range from mild hives, rash, digestion problems, itching and swelling to severe, life-threatening anaphylactic reactions that involve wheezing, trouble breathing and loss of consciousness.

In someone with celiac disease or with wheat gluten intolerance, there is an abnormal immune system reaction to gluten (but not a hypersensitivity, which occurs with allergy). Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to malnutrition and serious damage to the intestines, so it’s important for people who suffer from it to avoid wheat.

Whether you have a wheat allergy or an intolerance, avoiding this ingredient can be challenging because wheat is America’s most commonly used grain. It’s also used as a filler in many foods that you wouldn’t suspect, such as salad dressing, soy sauce, lunch meat and ice cream. Good alternatives to wheat flour itself include corn, oats, quinoa, rice, barley and amaranth. To best avoid wheat, you should also become educated on all of its imposters. These foods and ingredients contain wheat:

  • Bulgur
  • Couscous
  • Cracker meal
  • Durum
  • Einkorn
  • Emmer
  • Farina
  • Kamut
  • Matzoh
  • Seitan
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Triticale

8. Corn Allergy

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The most profitable crop in the country, corn is used in almost everything these days, including as a filler in processed meats and as a sweetener in candies, cereals and jams. It’s not yet considered a common food allergen in the U.S., but based on the patients I’ve seen in my practice, I think corn is on its way to this list. In one study, two percent of people self-reported an allergy to corn.

One reason I think corn allergies are under recognized is because they can be so difficult to diagnose. When you use a standard skin or blood test, there can be cross-reactions between corn and other common allergens, such as grass pollens, grains and seeds; therefore, a corn allergy can be difficult to tease out.

When they do show up, corn allergies may cause symptoms such as hives, rash, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, headaches, sneezing and asthma. Some people also experience severe anaphylactic reactions to corn and corn products, including the cornstarch used on surgical gloves. If you are severely allergic to corn, you should avoid both raw and cooked corn and carry an EpiPen in case of a reaction.

20 Amazing Dog and Puppy Facts

Bringing a dog or puppy into your family is a huge decision, and here are some things about man’s best four-legged friend that are sure to be of interest to children (and some adults):

1. An adult dog has 42 teeth.

2. A dog’s sense of smell is more than 1 million times stronger than that of a person.

3. More than 1 in 3 families in the United States owns a dog.

4. Spaying or neutering your dog can help prevent certain types of cancer.

5. If never spayed or neutered, a pair of dogs can produce 66,000 puppies in 6 years.

6. A dog’s sense of hearing is more than 10 times more accurate than that of a person.

7. The average dog can run about 19 miles per hour at full speed.

8. Dogs are mentioned 14 times in the Bible.

9. A dog’s nose print is one of a kind, very similar to a person’s fingerprint.

10. The average body temperature for a dog is 101.2.

11. With an average lifespan of just over 11 years, the typical dog costs $13,500.

12. The only sweat glands a dog has are between its toes.

13. Dogs are omnivorous; they need to eat more than just meat.

14. Dogs have twice as many ear muscles as people.

15. Dogs will be submissive to anyone they feel is higher up in the pack.

16. People have been keeping dogs for pets for 12,000 years.

17. A female dog carries her puppies for about 60 days before they are born.

18. It is a myth dogs are color blind; they actually see color, just not as vividly as a person.

19. Obesity is the number-one health problem in dogs.

20. Seventy percent of people sign their pets name on greeting/holiday cards.

12-year-old Girl Dies Hours After She is Injected with HPV Vaccine

The family of a 12-year-old girl from Wisconsin who died hours after receiving an HPV vaccine is grieving the loss of their daughter. Meredith Prohaska, described as being an extremely active and healthy girl, passed away on July 30th. [1]

According to a news report, Meredith’s mother took her to the doctor for a sore throat. At the doctor appointment, she received the HPV vaccine. Later in the afternoon, the mother found her daughter unresponsive on the floor, and she was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The parents suspect the vaccine as the primary cause of their daughter’s death. However, Meredith’s autopsy report rules her cause of death as inconclusive. [2]

Medical dogma is immune to “new insights,” especially when it comes from a parent on this topic, specifically. Many families also share Meredith’s story; the pain and emotional suffering is all too familiar. [3]

But despite her death, every excuse will be given to point away from the vaccine – this is called medical indoctrination – and there is a very good reason for doing so. The banal message from medical investigators, likely being to the grieving parents: “We don’t know what killed your daughter, but we know it was not the vaccine … vaccines are proven to be safe and effective. We’re terribly sorry for your loss.”

This is almost the exact message Dr. Geoffrey Swain offered, like a good little parrot, in the news interview immediately following the conversation with the grieving parents. He has an important role calming parents’ fears about vaccines, and his motives to manipulate public opinion were not so obvious, but if you knew he received money from the CDC or an organization that promotes vaccines, you may have a different opinion of him. More on that later in the article.

While it is reported the medical tests for the young girl will take months to get back for an answer, you can take this predictable script from the medical investigators to the bank.

Here’s why…

The System is Protected

Did you know, as an example, global sales for Gardasil, just one of the HPV vaccines manufactured by Merck Pharmaceuticals, were $1.8 billion in 2013? [4]

Did you also know since 2006, over 35,270 adverse events caused by HPV vaccines have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)? [5] This certainly isn’t news to government agencies and it shouldn’t be to you, either.

The same companies that manufacture vaccines also create drugs that are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States – they have a bad track record of leaving a path of death and destruction. [6,7]

I say all of this because the hard-to-swallow-truth is this: profits from selling vaccines are protected by law. Profits from selling vaccines must be protected at all costs. And yes – vaccine manufacturers profit in the hundreds of millions every year, peddling their vaccines to doctors and government agencies.

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-660) created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Under this program, vaccine manufacturers (and doctors) are given complete immunity from any legal liability if your child is harmed by their product. [8]

This law gives parents, like Meredith’s, few options to seek compensation legally. However, this law does not prohibit you from asking your doctor questions about vaccines or to exempt your child from being injected.

Coincidentally, questioning vaccines is the biggest enemy to pharmaceutical profits and the system. And here’s the kicker: For this system to work; you must be convinced to get your child vaccinated.

Adverse Reactions to Vaccines are Usually Downplayed

In society, it is taboo to question your doctor about vaccines, who, more often than not, act like a “Shot Salesman” or a puppet for the pharmaceutical industry, like Dr. Geoffrey Swain, instead of a medical professional.

During the news report of Meredith Prohaska’s death, Dr. Geoffrey Swain, a professor and medical doctor at the Milwaukee Health Department, states, “Vaccines in general and the HPV vaccine in particular, very, very safe. It’s a very safe vaccine and very effective,” and that, “serious side effects are nearly one in a million …” [2]

Why would Geoffrey downplay the role of vaccines in Meredith Prohaska’s death in a news interview?

Could it be because he received an award from the Centers for Disease Control for over $900,000 to investigate immunization rates? Or possibly because he received over $159,999 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a vaccine promoting non profit organization, investigating how school-based clinics could increase immunization rates? [9]

Maybe his roles for the Immunization Task Force for Milwaukee Public Schools, Wisconsin Council on Immunization Practices, and National Immunization Advisory Workgroup, National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) have some influence on why he promotes vaccines? [9]

Are you sure there isn’t a hidden agenda?

Whatever his motivations are, Meredith Prohaska’s death is a public relations disaster waiting to happen and her autopsy report must remain inconclusive. Admitting a vaccine is at fault for her death would “scare” other parents into not getting their child vaccinated, and that’s certainly not good for business.

One of the most powerful and effective actions you can take on becoming an informed parent, is to start investigating vaccines right now.

Summary

The sudden loss of Meredith Prohaska’s young life ending shortly after being vaccinated is a most tragic story.

Sadly, I predict her parents will not get many answers as to the root cause of her death. I understand many of you reading this story can empathize with her parents because you have also met this medically imposed “wall of silence.”

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Nothing could damage the reputation of a company brand more than their vaccine maiming or killing children – this subject is strictly forbidden from being discussed.

Marijuana Touted by Some as a Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

While the evidence is mixed, marijuana supporters say cannabis can ease symptoms for people with multiple sclerosis.
marijuana for multiple sclerosis

Will medical marijuana prove to be a miracle treatment for people with multiple sclerosis (MS)?

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society says there are uncertainties about how effective marijuana is in relieving MS symptoms. But the organization supports the right of patients to work with healthcare providers to access medical marijuana where legal.

Supporters of medicinal marijuana are more forceful in their advocacy.

On the website herb.com, supporters say medicinal marijuana has been “widely successful” in treating MS symptoms. They list seven ways they say cannabis eases MS symptoms.

 

Long history of treatment

Cannabis has been used since ancient times for a variety of conditions.

In 2011, a cannabis extract was first approved in Germany for the treatment of spasticity in people with MS.

Since then, only two synthetic drugs containing THC have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are Marinol and Cesamet, used for treating nausea in people undergoing chemotherapy and people with HIV.

The only naturally occurring THC-based drug — the oral spray Sativex — used for the treatment of spasticity in people with MS, is approved in several countries including France, Canada, and Sweden. However, it is currently not available in the United States.

Although the FDA has not approved any product containing botanical marijuana, FDA officials say they understand there is considerable interest in the use of the substance to treat a number of medical conditions, including MS.

And while studies continue to recognize the benefits, many people are not waiting for FDA approval. Self-medicating with marijuana is common, with the most frequently reported conditions being pain, anxiety, depression, headache and migraine, nausea, and muscle spasticity.

 

How it works

Cannabis works with the endocannabinoid (EC) system in the human body via the CB1 and CB2 receptors by mimicking natural chemicals created in the body.

This action encourages growth and activity within the EC system.

The EC system is found throughout the brains and bodies of all mammals. It influences memory, energy, balance, metabolism, response to stress, and more. Basically everything that can be affected in a person with MS.

While receptor C1 is found primarily in the brain and C2 in the immune system, both receptors have been found on immune cells suggesting a strong relationship between THC and immunosuppression.

By mimicking chemicals in the body, cannabis has been found to promote neurogenesis and even stimulate growth in the myelin sheath, both necessary steps in stopping the progression of MS.

 

Why use it

Pain is the most common cause for the use of medical marijuana in the general population, while the most common use for those with MS is for spasticity and tremors.

Pain throughout the body may be targeted with ingesting or vaporizing cannabis, while a specific spasm might be treated with a topical ointment or transdermal patch.

Cannabis has shown continued success in helping people with MS control bladder issues such as incontinence and leakage with only a few side effects, suggesting it is a safe and effective treatment for other symptoms in people with MS.

Losing sleep is not just an annoyance. It can cause fatigue and depression and affect mental stability and cognitive function. Cannabinoids have been found to help with sleep issues and prevent worsening symptoms.

Inflammation is considered the root of many illnesses and known to cause MS symptoms and relapses. Due to the interaction with receptors C1 and C2, cannabinoids are considered potent anti-inflammatories, a critical element in reducing MS activity.

There are several ways to take cannabis including ingestion, smoking, vaporizing, and topical use. Any kind of smoking can cause injury to the large airways and promote chronic bronchitis, and is not considered a safe way to take cannabis. Edibles, while considered safer, are sometimes difficult to measure with regard to the THC quantity.

Using a vaporizer has shown to be a safe and efficient way to take medicinal cannabis. And topical ointments and dermal patches provide an easy way to target specific areas on the body.

While some medical facilities and professionals are still opposed to medical marijuana, a growing number of doctors and clinics across the country are calling for more extensive and representative clinical trials as a result of a significant number of successful studies.

15 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT BIPOLAR DISORDER

When thinking of bipolar disorder, some of the unfortunate associations that spring to mind include Kathy Bates in Misery and Carrie Mathison from Homeland. IRL, Bipolar disorder isn’t anything like as scary or dramatic. Here are 15 things you may not have known about the condition.

1. There is no single or specific cause for bipolar disorder

From psychological stress to childhood abuse and social circumstances, the causes of bipolar disorder are vast. Biologically speaking, bipolar disorder is caused when our teeny tiny chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) fail to do their job and send the happy stuff (serotonin and dopamine) to the brain (you had ONE job, neurotransmitters).

The disorder may lie dormant until activated, usually by an outside trigger (major life event, change in circumstances, increased stress, altered health habits, alcohol or drug abuse, hormonal problems, etc) but can also flare up on its own.

 2. Bipolar disorder can can be genetic… but also not

Sure, if there’s a family history of bipolar disorder, then there’s an increased chance of having it, but studies conducted on identical twins have shown that if one twin is bipolar, the disorder does not always develop in the other twin, even though they have the exact same genes. Both men and women can be diagnosed as bipolar and diagnoses usually take place just before or in their early twenties.

 3. Bipolar disorder is NOT multiple personality (dissociative identity) disorder

These two disorders are usually linked because of the split personality element. However, people who are bipolar have highs and lows (but still know they are the same person) whereas people with multiple personality disorder (MPD) can think they are more than one person, with distinctly different personalities, traits and memories.

MPD is extremely rare whereas bipolar disorder affects approximately one in every 100 people.

 4. Bipolar symptoms: the highs and the lows

The main symptoms of bipolar disorder are the highs and lows; the highs being mania and the lows being a depressive state. Let’s break it down.

 The ups/highs (manic state)

Bipolar disorder is sometimes misdiagnosed as schizophrenia because of the following symptoms which connect the two:

• Feeling extremely happy or high, bubbly and outgoing for a long period of time

• Feeling irritable

• Fast talking and jumping from subject to subject

• Getting easily distracted

• Taking on new projects, increasing activities out of the blue

• Extreme restlessness

• Not being tired and sleeping very little

• An unrealistic belief of being able to take on the world

• Being impulsive

• Engaging in high-risk pleasurable activities (high spending, drug/alcohol abuse and sexual promiscuity)

 The downs/lows (depressive state)

When in a bipolar ‘low’, the symptoms are very similar to clinical depression, which is why bipolar disorder is sometimes misdiagnosed as as such.

• Lack of or too much sleep

• Feeling sad and/or hopeless

• Loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities (ie sex)

• No energy

• No desire to even get out of bed

• Change in appetite/weight

• Feeling worthless or guilty for no reason

• Lack of concentration

• Indecisiveness

• Suicidal thoughts/thoughts of death

5. You can have bipolar ups and downs at the same time

Having mania and depression at the same time is possible with bipolar disorder and this is called a ‘mixed state’. So, while feeling ‘high’, sleepless, agitated, energetic, and having lack of concentration, you could also feel sad, have no motivation and/or have suicidal thoughts.

 6. You can be bipolar and NOT actually have mood swings

You could, in fact, feel absolutely great. This could be something called ‘hypomania’, which is a really toned-down version of bipolar mania. If you’re having a hypomanic episode, you might feel really good and highly productive and that you are functioning really well.

If this is out of the norm for someone with bipolar, a doctor should be consulted because without proper treatment, it could develop into severe mania or depression.

7. Substances can trigger a bipolar manic depressive episode

These include:

• Drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines

• Over-the-counter drugs in large doses

• Medicine for thyroid issues and corticosteroids

• Excessive amounts of caffeine (although normal amounts are fine)

8. People with bipolar disorder and more likely to have substance abuse issues

The reasons for this are as yet scientifically unclear, but it is thought that sufferers of bipolar disorder are more likely to want to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

 

 

9. Bipolar sufferers are also at higher risk for other diseases

Thyroid issues, headaches and migraines, diabetes, heart disease and obesity are a few of the other illnesses which could result from treatment for bipolar disorder, as well as causing some of the same symptoms as the highs and lows (mania or depression).

 10. There are five variations of bipolar disorder:

Starting from the mildest to the most severe, the five types of bipolar disorder are:

(i) Cyclothymia/cyclothymic disorder

Cyclothymia is mild form of bipolar disorder with ongoing, long-term symptoms (minimum 2 years) which aren’t severe enough to be classed as bipolar disorder.

(ii) Bipolar I disorder

Manic or mixed episodes that last a minimum of seven days usually requiring immediate hospital care.

(iii) Bipolar II disorder

Depressive and hypomanic episodes with no manic or mixed episodes.

(iv) Bipolar disorder (not otherwise specified)

Some bipolar symptoms exist but not enough to be classed as bipolar I or II.

(v) Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder

Rapid-cycling is when someone has four or more episodes of major depression, hypomania, mania, or mixed states within a year. Rapid-cycling can come and go and is more common in women than men.

 11. The most effective test to diagnose bipolar disorder is seeing a psychiatrist

Although many tests can be carried out including brain scans, blood tests and physical examinations, none are as effective in correctly diagnosing bipolar disorder as having a thorough interview session with a psychiatrist.

The shrink will take the patient’s family and personal history and will find out everything they need to know to be able to diagnose the patient and create the best treatment plan.

 12. Although bipolar disorder can not be cured, it can be treated

Patients are advised to keep a life chart to help their doctor and psychiatrist provide the best possible treatment. There’s a wide array of bipolar disorder treatments available, from scary sounding ones like electroconvulsive therapy, atypical antipsychotics, and light therapy to the more common mood stabilisers, anti-depressants, sleep supplements, cognitive behavioural therapy, and psycho-education (just getting yourself fully in the know). There are also some new, up and coming bipolar disorder treatments that are gaining popularity.

 

 

13. Bipolar disorder can get worse if left undiagnosed/untreated

Although patients will often opt for self-help, it is advised that bipolar disorder should not go untreated as episodes could become more frequent or severe over time. The sooner it is diagnosed and treated, the sooner someone with the condition can go about living a normal, healthy and productive life.

 14. Here are 20 celebrities with bipolar disorder

1. Catherine Zeta-Jones

2. Demi Lovato

3. Jean-Clause Van Damme

4. Linda Hamilton

5. Sinéad O’Connor

6. Azealia Banks

7. ussell Brand

8. Chris Brown

9. Jim Carrey

10. DMX

11. Tom Fletcher

12. Stephen Fry

13. Macy Gray

14. Kerry Katona

15. Gail Porter

16. Axl Rose

17. Rene Russo

18. Nina Simone

19.P ete Wentz

20. Britney Spears

15. There’s a plethora of information available on bipolar disorder

And here are a few to get you started:

National Institute of Mental Health

Psych Central

The NHS

For something a bit lighter, check out this blog by bipolar sufferer Beth Evans. It’ll make you laugh and cry. At the same time.

My Anxiety Plan for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The following strategies are designed for you the parent to use with your child as s/he begins to tackle post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These strategies are best used for children with mild-moderate signs of this type of anxiety. For children with more severe symptoms or who have been diagnosed with PTSD, we recommend treatment with a mental health professional, although M.A.P. strategies can be used at home to support your child’s therapy work.

 

Step 1. Helping your child become an expert on anxiety 

This is a very important first step, as it helps children and teens understand what is happening to them when they experience anxiety. Teaching your child that the worries and physical feelings h/she is experiencing have a name –anxiety- and that millions of other people also have anxiety, can be a great relief. Help your child become an expert on anxiety by providing him or her with facts and important information.

To learn how to explain this to your child, see Anxiety 101: What You and Your Child Need to Know About Anxietyand Talking to Your Child about Anxiety and the ABCs of Anxiety: Understanding How Anxiety Works and Fight-Flight-Freeze.

 

Step 2: Teaching your child or teen about PTSD

  • Reading or explaining some of the information outlined on the PTSD main page can help your child to feel more in control of what is happening. Knowledge is power.
  • Not all children and teens that experience a trauma will develop PTSD. If your child feels supported by the family afterward, he or she is less likely to have PTSD symptoms later on, even after a major trauma. So, as a first step, you can help your child by providing lots of love, understanding and support.
  • As a parent, having your child experience a trauma can also be very difficult for you. For example, you might blame yourself and believe that you did not protect your child enough. Your first instinct might even be to leave your child alone for a bit and give him or her time and space alone to deal with what happened. However, children can misinterpret this to mean that you somehow blame them for what happened. Instead, encourage your child to talk to you about what happened and any feelings h/she might have about the event. This can be an important part of your child’s recovery. For younger children who might have difficulty or be unable to talk about the trauma, encourage them to draw a picture or write story about what happened. Knowing you are there to listen will help them to feel supported even if they are not ready to talk about all the details right away. Hearing you say, “I love you and this was not your fault,” can make all the difference in their recovery.
  • PTSD can include very scary symptoms (such as nightmares, flashbacks or vivid memories of the trauma), so your child may be worried that h/she is going “crazy”. Take the time to explain that all these scary feelings are part of PTSD. Your child also needs to know that h/she is normal and that this happens to other kids and teens that experience trauma. The problem is not that your child is crazy. Rather, your child has anxiety as a result of experiencing the trauma. There are skills that h/she can learn to deal with this anxiety.

 

Step 3: Creating your child’s M.A.P.

The best way to help your child deal with anxiety, fear and related symptoms of PTSD is to give him or her tools that can be used to cope more effectively with his/her experiences. These tools are intended to increase your child’s ability to tolerate anxiety, rather than to eliminate anxiety.  Anxiety exists everywhere, and therefore it is an illusion to believe we can eliminate the source and experience of anxiety. It is far more effective to provide your child with the tools to tolerate and cope, rather than to control and escape.  For PTSD, you might want to use any or all of the following anxiety tools to create your child or teen’s M.A.P. ( My Anxiety Plan). These tools are listed in a recommended order, although proceeding in this order will depend on the needs and interests of your child or teen.

  • Talking to Your Child or Teen about Anxiety
  • When Anxiety Becomes a Problem: What’s Normal and What’s Not
  • Avoidance
  • Naming the Bully
  • Fight-Flight-Freeze
  • Derealization
  • Coping with Back to School Anxiety
  • Coping with Nightmares
  • Returning to Routines and Pleasant Events
  • Learning to Relax: Calm Breathing
  • Learning to Relax: Muscle Relaxation
  • Balanced Thinking
  • Cognitive Coping Cards
  • Exposure Therapy for PTSD
  • Rewarding Bravery
  • Tolerating Uncertainty

 

 

Final point: Although increased knowledge and the many tools available on this website can be very effective in helping you to manage your child’s anxiety, sometimes it is not enough. Sometimes children and teens have very severe anxiety, and despite all your best efforts, your child might still be struggling daily with anxiety symptoms. If this is the case, seek some professional help through a consult with your family doctor, psychiatrist, or a child psychologist/mental health worker.

French customs find record 51kg of crystal meth in breakfast cereal bound for Malaysia

PARIS: French customs on Friday (Sept 2) announced the seizure of a record 51kg of methamphetamine hidden in a shipment of breakfast cereal.

“The merchandise is estimated to be worth €3.8mil (RM17.4mil) on the illegal retail market,” according to a customs statement.

Customs officers at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport checking cartons containing bags of cereal en route from Cameroon to Malaysia on Tuesday night found them to be “unusually heavy”, the statement said.

They found the crystalline drug, a strong stimulant, in 40 of 70 bags.

Long popular in poorer Asian countries, especially among those who work long hours, methamphetamine now seems to be finding new markets in richer states such as South Korea and Singapore as well as Malaysia.  – AFP

Kick the Dog, Pet the Dog—Off-Loading Anxiety

There’s two things we can do with suffering: we can kick the dog; or we can pet the dog. That’s really as complicated as it gets. We can kick the dog; or we can pet the dog. Or the cat. Or the parakeet. Or our partners or kids or co-workers or fellow citizens.

Because, as Franciscan priest Richard Rohr points out, suffering will be either transmitted or transformed. We transmit suffering in negative ways: depression, anxiety, anger, sleep loss, appetite loss, inability to focus, and on.

We transform suffering only when we stop and think about it. It’s not natural to transform suffering. We naturally see our suffering as a big concrete block wall. Nothing to be fixed there.

But it can be done.

You can’t find your keys. You’re running late. You are suffering. You can kick the dog.

Or you can pet the dog.

You can yell at the next person you see. Or you can smile and speak a kind word. It’s up to you.

Let me see how your religion or philosophy transmits or transforms suffering.

From shamanism to Cynicism to New Age, religions and philosophies are ways that we human beings have developed to deal with pain and suffering.

To tell the truth, philosophies and religions can’t do much about pain. Aspirin helps; anesthesia; morphine; some sorts of pills; exercise. But—outside of a small placebo effect—philosophy or religion don’t fix pain.

Suffering, however, is a mental formation, and something religious and philosophical practice can affect. Suffering is an emotional reaction. The Buddha realized that suffering is the heart of the human problem, and so he set out to face it head-on.

Suffering is caused, the Buddha said, by the nature of human life itself—nothing is permanent; everything changes. We want stability and sameness. But life cannot provide that. And so it is that we suffer.

We can end our suffering, the Buddha taught, by seeing the nature of reality and adapting our minds to that reality.

The Greeks too differentiated between lupe, sorrow, and ponos, physical pain. Epicureanism is based on the idea that we should first and foremost avoid pain and pursue pleasure; care in this pursuit helps with suffering.

Stoicism, like Buddhism, teaches methods for bearing and overcoming mental suffering. Hence Epictetus would say, “We are affected not by things (events) but by the view we take of things.

Father Richard Rohr has worked to bring these psychological insights into Christianity.

Perhaps these methods of dealing with the human condition sound pessimistic, but even a cursory look at the evidence around us shows that change is what we get, and change often brings suffering.

Change is inevitable. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. And here’s the thing about suffering: it’s just like an electrical current—it’s going to go somewhere. It’s going to ground itself.

One of the complications of being a Humanist is that we don’t have any scripture. We don’t have any way to off-load our personal hurt onto scriptures or gods—there’s no scripture saying it’s OK to kick the dog or use patriarchy. There’s none of the “eye for an eye” business. Nope. We have to face up to our actions. We have to face the facts—are we transmitting suffering rather than transforming it.

We have no excuse for kicking the dog. Or taking it out on our fellow citizens of the world.

Sure, sometimes even a Buddha is going to kick the dog. That’s human nature, that transmission thing—to off-load our suffering onto others. But we don’t get to excuseourselves. The dog doesn’t get un-kicked because we’re sorry. Repentance doesn’t include the removal of the pain the dog felt when it got kicked. We’ve got to keep ourselves ever-ready to transform.

13 Things To Remember When You Love A Person Who Has Depression

1. Depression is not a choice.
Depression is one of the most helpless and frustrating experiences a person can have. It’s sometimes feeling sad, sometimes feeling empty, and sometimes feeling absolutely nothing at all. There are times when depression can leave someone feeling paralyzed in their own mind and body, unable to do the things they used to love to do or the things they know they should be doing. Depression is not just a bad day or a bad mood and it’s not something someone can just “get over.” Remember no one chooses to be depressed.

2. Saying things like “it’ll get better,” “you just need to get out of the house,” or “you’ll be fine” is meaningless.

It’s easy to tell someone these things because you think you’re giving them a solution or a simple way to make them feel better and to ease their pain, but these kinds of phrases always come across as empty, insulting, and essentially meaningless.

Saying these phrases to them only create more tension within, making them feel as though they’re inadequate, and like you’re not acknowledging what they’re going through by trying to put a band aid on a much larger issue. They understand you’re just trying to help but these words only make them feel worse. A silent hug can do so much more than using cliched sayings.
What you can say instead:

I’m here for you. I believe in you. I believe you are stronger than this and I believe you’ll get through this. What can I do to help you? What do you think would make you feel better?

Avoid offering advice but instead just let them know you’re there for them and ask them questions to help guide them in discovering what could make them feel better.

3. Sometimes they have to push you away before they can bring you closer.

People who suffer from depression often get frustrated with feeling like they’re a burden on other people. This causes them to isolate themselves and push away people they need the most, mentally exhausting themselves from worrying about if they’re weighing their loved ones down with their sadness. If they become distant, just remember to let them know you’re still there, but don’t try to force them to hang out or talk about what’s going on if they don’t want to.

4. You’re allowed to get frustrated.

Just because someone deals with depression doesn’t mean you have to cater to all of their needs or walk around eggshells when you’re around them. Depressed people need to feel loved and supported but if it begins to create a negative impact on your life you’re allowed to acknowledge this and figure out how to show them love and kindness without self-sacrificing.

5. It’s important to discuss and create boundaries.

In those moments of frustration it’s important to take a step back and look at how you can help the depressed person while also maintaining your own sense of happiness and fulfillment. Be patient. Talk to them about your concerns and explain the boundaries you need to create within your relationship. Find out something that works for both of you.

6. They can become easily overwhelmed.

Constant exhaustion is a common side effect of depression. Just getting through the day can be an overwhelming and exhausting experience. They may seem and look totally fine one moment and in the next moment feel tired and have no energy at all, even if they’re getting plenty of sleep every night. This can result in them canceling plans suddenly, leaving events early, or saying no to things altogether. Just remember it’s not about anything you did. It’s just one of the prevalent side effects of living with the disease.

7. It’s not about you.

When you have a loved one dealing with depression it can be difficult to understand what they’re going through and to consider how their sadness is a reflection of your relationship with them. If they need space or become distant don’t blame yourself and wonder how you could do things differently to heal them. Understand their depression is not about you.

8. Avoid creating ultimatums, making demands, or using a “tough-love” approach.

Telling someone you’re going to break up with them or not talk to them anymore if they don’t get better is not going to magically cure them of their illness. They won’t suddenly become the person you want them to be just because you’re tired of dealing with their problems. It’s a personal decision to walk away from someone if their issues become too much for you and your relationship with them, but thinking the ‘tough-love’ approach will make them better is unrealistic and manipulative.

9. They don’t always want to do this alone.

Many often assume people dealing with depression want to just be left alone. While there are may be times when they want their space, this doesn’t mean they want to face their fears completely alone. Offer to take them on a drive somewhere. Ask if they want to get coffee or a meal. One on one time where you can bring them out of their routine and where you two can connect can often mean everything for them. Reach out to them unexpectedly. Remind them they don’t have to do this alone.

10. Try not to compare your experiences with theirs.

When someone is going through a rough time we often want to share with them our own stories to let them know you’ve gone through something similar and can relate with their struggle. When you say something like, “oh yeah, this one time I was depressed too…” it only makes them feel like you’re minimizing their pain. Express empathy but don’t suppress their feelings. The greatest resource you can share with your friend is your ability to listen. That’s all they really need.

11. It’s okay to ask your friend where they are in their feelings.

How are they really feeling and how are they coping with their depression? Suicidal thoughts are a common occurrence for depressed people and it’s okay to directly ask them ways they’re practicing self-care and to come up with a safety plan for times when their depression becomes too overwhelming.

12. Schedule time to spend together.

Offer to spend time with them once or twice a week to exercise, grocery shop, or hang out together. Ask if you can cook dinner with them and plan a friend date. One of the hardest parts of depression is feeling too exhausted to cook healthy meals, so you can really help them out by cooking food they can store in their fridge or freezer for a later time.

13. Just because someone is depressed doesn’t mean that they’re weak.

In his book Against Happiness: In Praise Of Melancholia, author Eric G. Wilson explores the depths of sadness and how experiencing mental anguish can actually make us more empathetic, creative people. Although he explains the difference between depression and melancholia, he rejects the idea of inflated happiness our culture and society is obsessed with, and instead explains why we reap benefits from the darker moments in life. Wilson writes:

“I for one am afraid that our American culture’s overemphasis on happiness at the expense of sadness might be dangerous, a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life. I further am wary in the face of this possibility: to desire only happiness in a world undoubtedly tragic is to become inauthentic, to settle for unrealistic abstractions that ignore concrete situations. I am finally fearful over our society’s efforts to expunge melancholia from the system. Without the agitations of the soul, would all of our magnificently yearning towers topple? Would our heart-torn symphonies cease?”
In a similar manner psychiatrist and philosopher, Dr. Neel Burton, discusses in his Tedx talk about how some of the most influential and important people in history have experienced depression. He explains the way our culture looks at and treats depression and how traditional societies differ in their approach, seeing human distress as an indicator of the need to address important life problems, not a mental illness.

It’s important to remember depression is not something that should be considered shameful and experiencing it doesn’t make someone weak or inadequate.