Climbing out of addiction and depression: Margo Talbot at TEDxCanmore

Great talk and pics and one hell of a recovery!

‘Current research suggests that addiction and depression are symptoms of emotional distress, not causes of it, forging the link between childhood trauma and mental illness. Margo Talbot’s journey supports these studies.

Diagnosed Bi Polar at age twenty-two, Margo spent the next fifteen years in suicidal depression before discovering the healing power of presence as the antidote to emotional trauma. Being present to our thoughts and emotions, not running the other way or masking them. Where best to practice the art of presence than the frozen world of ice climbing…

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‘How to Beat Panic Attacks: 3 Simple Mindfulness Techniques’ by Krista Lester

PauseFound this interesting blog on the Tiny Buddha website.

‘“By living deeply in the present moment we can understand the past better and we can prepare for a better future.” Thich Nhat Hanh

When I was in high school, a hit-and-run car accident changed my world. My boyfriend at the time lost his nineteen-year-old brother to the accident. I had never met his brother, but it didn’t matter; a dark veil had been cast over my life.

In the days, weeks, months, and years following the accident, I sank into a deeper and deeper depression. I started to have panic attacks and I cut myself daily, trying to feel anything other than terror and despair. I sought treatment, met with therapists, tried dozens of medications, and routinely turned back to alcohol when nothing worked.

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‘Living in an Age of Melancholy: When Society Becomes Depressed’ by Douglas Bloch

“Depression is not just a private, psychological matter. It is, in fact, a social problem … The fact that depression seems to be “in the air” right now can be both the cause and result of a level of a societal malaise that so many feel.” Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

dblochIn a recent Ted Talk, Depression is a Disease of Civilization, Professor Stephen Ilardi advances the thesis that depression is a disease of our modern lifestyle. As an example, Ilardi compares our modern culture to the Kaluli people – an indigenous tribe that lives in the highlands of New Guinea. |

When an anthopologist interviewed over 2,000 Kaluli, he found that only one person exhibited the symptoms of clinical depression, despite the fact the Kaluli are plagued by high rates of infant mortality, parasitic infection, and violent death. Yet, despite their harsh lives, the Kaluli do not experience depression as we know it.

Ilardi believes this is due to the fact that the human genome of the Kaluli (as well as all humans) is well adapated to the agrarian, hunter gatherer lifestyle which shaped 99% of people who came before us.

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‘Emotional Unmanageability’ by Veronica Valli

A nice short blog from Veronica Valli to reflect upon at the start of the week.

ID-10084481-300x198‘Unmangagbility and alcoholism are talked about a lot in recovery circles. When unmanageability was explained to me, it was described an outside occurrence; unpaid bills, DUI’s, divorce, car crashes, damaged furniture, broken bones etc.

That wasn’t something I related to, my life was a little chaotic but by no means unmanageable. My inner life was another story, that was then I realized in relation to alcoholism it is emotional unmanageability that causes the real problems.

To some degree, the alcoholic may be able to create some sense of order in their outside world. They may be able to work and pay their mortgage, for instance. This is how some alcoholics can convince themselves they don’t have a problem; because they have a job and a car they believe things can’t be that bad.

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Myth of the chemical imbalance

Here is the second ‘Unrecognised Fact’ from the Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry.

Psychiatric drugs have often been prescribed to patients on the basis that they cure a ‘chemical imbalance’. However, no chemical imbalances have been proven to exist in relation to any mental health disorder. There is also no method available to test for the presence or absence of these chemical imbalances.

‘Overcoming the stigma of depression’ by Douglas Bloch

dblochAn excellent article on stigma and on how people with depression can feel shame. Stigma and shame are roadblocks to depression.

“The last great stigma of the twentieth century is the stigma of mental illness.” Tipper Gore

One of the roadblocks to recovery for those who suffer from depression is our culture’s tendency to stigmatize depression and other mental health disorders.

After my first hospitalization, I remember the dilemma I faced in trying to explain my three-day absence to my employer. If I told the truth – that I was being treated for anxiety and depression – I stood a good chance of losing my job. Instead, I reported that I had been treated for insomnia at a sleep clinic.

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‘Neutralising Suffering: How the Medicalisation of Distress Obliterates Meaning and Creates Profit’ by Joanna Moncrieff

jmoncrieffThere is so much great content on Mad in America. Here’s a piece from British psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff, one I wholeheartedly endorse. In fact, this blog is essential reading. I first posted this blog on Recovery Stories in 2014. The original article on Mad in America has all the references.

‘People have used psychoactive substances to dull and deaden pain, misery and suffering since time immemorial, but only recently, in the last few decades, have people been persuaded that what they are doing in this situation is rightly thought of as taking a remedy for an underlying disease. The spread of the use of prescription drugs has gone hand in hand with the increasing medicalization of everyday life, and a corresponding loss of the previous relationship that people had with psychoactive substances.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel Mary Barton was originally to be named after Mary’s father John Barton, a working class factory hand addicted to opium. The novel depicts the unimaginable poverty and exploitation of industrial Manchester that made opium-induced oblivion an appealing escape.

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Recommended Film: ‘Hancock and Joan’

Mike of Mike’s Tunes and Michael’s Story has highly recommended this film about the British comic genius Tony Hancock, who suffered from serious alcohol problems. The film was shown on BBC4 in the UK and is available in six parts on YouTube. This is what the BBC had to say:

‘Starring Ken Stott (Rebus, Messiah) as troubled comic genius Tony Hancock and Maxine Peake (Cinderella, Shameless) as Joan, Hancock and Joan charts the final year of his life.

Only months after her marriage to Dad’s Army favourite John Le Mesurier, Joan Le Mesurier fell in love with his best friend, the godfather of British sitcom, Tony Hancock. Tony was fresh out of rehab and desperate to resurrect his career with the offer of a new series in Australia.

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‘These Digital Meditation Tools Can Be Your Gateway To A Calmer, More Effective Life’ by Carolyn Gregoire

rsz_n-meditation-large570Here’s an interesting blog from the Huffington Post, which also provides summaries on 12 online meditation tools. Here is part of Carolyn’s excellent blog. Check out the rest of her original blog.

‘Meditation, an ancient practice of calming the mind, would seem to be incompatible with modern technology, with its emphasis on speed and connectivity.

But as more and more Americans have embraced meditation as an antidote to hyper-connected lives, the world of technology has joined the movement. The result is a growing field of meditation tools – from apps and podcasts to timers and online classes – and a growing acknowledgment that, paradoxically, technology can help us to turn inward, still our minds, and shut out the many distractions around us.

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‘My Story of Recovery: Prayer, Community, and Healing’ by Douglas Bloch

dbloch‘In his book, Prayer is Good Medicine, physician and researcher Larry Dossey maintains that praying for one’s self or others can make a scientifically measurable difference in recovering from illness or trauma. It is one thing to understand such a healing intellectually; it is another to know it from experience.

Such an experience came to me in the fall of 1996 when a painful divorce, a bad case of writer’s block, and an adverse reaction to an antidepressant medication plummeted me into a major depressive episode. For the next ten months, I was assailed by out-of-control anxiety attacks which alternated with dark, suicidal depressions. Each day felt like an eternity as I struggled to stay alive in the face of overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and despair.

My depression was called “treatment resistant” (a condition that applies to 10 – 20% of those who suffer from a depressive disorder) and for good reason. Medication, the mainstay of conventional treatment, simply did not work. Drugs, such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, made me agitated; others such as Lithium made me even more depressed; and the rest did nothing at all.

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Chiara de Blasio Tells Her Story

Chiara is daughter of New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. In this professionally prepared clip, she talks about her depression and anxiety and her illicit drug use and treatment. Chiara also emphasises that recovery can’t be done alone.

YouTube clip intro reads:

‘For many, the holiday season is a time for joy. But it’s also a time when many of those battling depression and substance abuse find their struggle most difficult. In the hopes of helping others, Chiara de Blasio wants to share her personal story.

If you think you have a problem, don’t wait. Ask for help. Talk to a friend, family member, or health professional today.’

Kevin and Kerry: ‘A Family Story’ (Part 1)

Mother and son describe Kevin’s heroin addiction and how it impacted on the family as a whole. (7,488 words)

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