Hatred and Brain Health

Hatred

Hatred (Photo credit: dton23)

Have you ever noticed that hating the person who hurt you is never enough?  The damage does not respond.  The edges do not come back together.  Hating them harder, hating them more effectively, with your voice, with your body, committing your talents toward their detriment, recruiting forces, community – this is not enough.  Finally, you grow plans from dragon teeth.  You wish them death and an after-life of repeating hateful deaths.  It is still not enough.  You are left with you.

When the extreme, when the hate that is to say, is not enough something is wrong.  But it’s not what you think.  The thing that is wrong is not that.

We could say you are a sinner.  We could say pray more.  We could say exercise, destress, do yoga, karate, eat less sugar and drink grass juice.  We could and perhaps we do.  But this time, please put that aside.  It is not disqualified.  It’s just not the bit we are going to talk about.  Don’t be mad at me.

The hate is in the brain.  The brain picked this to perseverate on and return to like the tongue over a canker.  Lick.  Ouch.  We don’t ask for these emotions.  We don’t ask for these behaviors.  They come, symptomatically telling us a story about our condition.  Hear the story?

It goes something like this.  We are persons who know enough to know that this is a feeling stronger than deserved. This is a response not entirely rational.  This is a behavior that we would choose not to do otherwise and nor would a friend of ours support.  Our mother would tell us, “No.”  We experience a whole body response that surprises some level of our awareness and that part stands by uncertainly with her fingers picking at her lip.

The story tells about the other times when we endured worse and responded without as much personalizing.  We remember that someone else we knew acted like this and we didn’t think much of it.  We thought they were “off.”  We realize that what we are experiencing might not have as much to do with the crime as we thought.  It might just be that we are not feeling and behaving well.  It might be our brain.

That darn double-crossing organ!  How is anyone supposed to trust themselves?  It’s tough but we have each other and we have our story and we have grass juice.  We have God.  We have medication.  We have ECT (electroconvulsive therapy.)  We have acupuncture, our support groups and DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy.)

Considering where emotions and behaviors come from is the bit that gives us a chance to find and be found by help.  Hate is a very strong emotion from the brain and it isn’t so friendly to Me.  If we can’t put it aside, consider the brain.

Self-Care Tip:  When emotions and behaviors come that you don’t want, and won’t go away even when you say, “Please,” consider your brain health.

Question:  What has helped you disentangle the effect from a cause that wasn’t really the cause?  

How do you allow for the biology of brain health when it comes to feelings so personal?  

How is considering the brain a friendly thing to Me?  Please tell us your story.

More on ECT – TV Episode happened upon

Hello Friends.  I don’t know if you’re interested or not, but we’ve opened discussion on ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) in the past and because it remains open, I wanted you to know that I just ran across this TV episode online that is done surprisingly well.  Check it out and let us know what your thoughts are.  Keep on.

AfterShocks (…Smile) From our ECT Series

Reference cat

I am hoping to get a running stream of references for those interested in finding out more about ECT.  To start, some are:

  1. As relayed in our last blog post, check out Mayo Clinic
  2. Kitty Dukakis: Shock Therapy Saved My Life – ABC News on abcnews.go.com
  3. Kitty Dukakis And ECT – CBS News Video
  4. Kitty Dukakis And ECT video – CNET TV
  5. Katherine Kitty Dukakis on ECT | Psych Central
  6. Kitty Dukakis & Shock Therapy | World of Psychology
  7. Shock: The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy – Amazon …
  8. Kitty Dukakis Backs ECT for Depression : NPR
  9. Scientific Articles on Neurogenisis From ECT as described on PubMed
  10. Mortality Rate From ECT
  11. University of Maryland describes their understanding of ECT as a treatment option for Bipolar Mood Disorder and Depression
  12. Currently under research at Duke University, “Not-So-Deep Brain Stimulation:  Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
  13. I also really love the 1st hand words from    Here is one of her excellent statements – “No one really knows how ECT works. For the longest time everyone just said it “rebooted” the brain. Hardly scientific. What we now know is that ECT creates neurogenesis, in other words, neuron growth. And this is needed because long term depression kills brain cells and shrinks the brain. (Antidepressants also induce neurogenesis, FYI.) So ECT is able to make connections in the brain that weren’t previously there, and it makes them very, very quickly compared to any other method.”  She has done her research.
  14. Also, enjoy reading The Bipolar Badger who is going to be writing more on his experience with ECT this week (he’s promised).  The Badger says, “there is very little positive or objective is more like it out there on the interwebs. While I do not expect every post out there to be positive as not everyone has a great experience with ECT. It as important to mention positive outcomes as well.”
If you know of more, please tell us!
Be a friend to yourself.  🙂

 

 

 

 

The Non-Dramatic Ending To Our ECT Series

Bert the Turtle

Image via Wikipedia

Not much traffic over here since drifting into electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) territory.  That’s alright.  Everything in its own time.  We got some feedback from some who didn’t find ECT helpful, some who would never be interested in ECT but not much from anyone who has found ECT helpful – and I know you are out there.  Healthy and quiet about it.  I know because I know from my patients and from the studies and statistics available.  You are there.  And you are not alone.

I was corresponding with my trusted mentor on this subject, Richard Weiner M.D., from Duke University, who has treated patients with ECT for 40+ years.  He referred us here at FriendtoYourself.com to the clean presentation by Mayo Clinic.  If you are interested in further introduction into ECT, check it out.  They have a lovely video, outline and inquiry resources.

On a slightly shifted topic, I’d like to introduce you to my friend, B.D.Erline.  This guy’s really rocking the friendship thing to yourself these days.  He’s writing and spending himself on his new, “Act-Like-You-Wanna-Live” series.  It’s brilliant.  Say hello if you’d like.

That’s all for tonight my friends.  I thank you for coming along even when topics interest you less than other days.  Keep on.

Celebrating Your Courage Will Connect You With Your “Me” and With Community

Veterans Day

A seriously cool veteran was cruising Old Town today on his Harley with about fifty American flags affixed in mysterious ways to his bike and person.  I cannot figure how, but those flags were not going anywhere he was not.

I had forgotten today is Veterans Day, even though my kids were all home, off from school, properly running amok.  This man, in his leather skins and industrial number of stars and stripes, reminded me.  As we approached each other from opposite sides of the street, I saw him nod to another biker passing him by.  His nod was enough to say, “Hello.  You are not alone.  I am not alone.  We connect by this brotherhood.”  I watched him in my rearview mirror and immediately dialed my dad, of course.   “Happy Verterans Day.”

Sometimes we do not wear our history as confidently as this cool vet.  How messy that would be, right?  Imagine a world where people used their hard-earned losses as a tool to empathize with themselves and others.  Where people’s pain was used as a force to connect with their Me and with others.  How tiring to receive nods, to accept judgments and applause, as it may be.  Right?  Company can be a burden.

This is my guess as to why not many of us speak up about what electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has done for us.  We hear about the miracles of medication therapies from first person reports, heck, even second, third or tenth hand.  We do not hear much about the miracles of ECT.  Instead, we hear the sound of quiet or else hopeless barbarism.

I was talking with a patient, Carla, about ECT as an option for treatment, and we laughed that we are anesthetized for a colonoscopy for much longer amounts of time than we would if we had ECT.  They seemed like such funny things to juxtapose.  The convulsion lasts around thirty seconds and you are done.  There are no broken bones.  No tongues bitten through.  There are no chickens sacrificed on anyone’s chest.  Carla had never heard about the physician-patient who had undergone thirty-six ECT treatments as a patient, whose morbid melancholia resolved and who later returned to practicing medicine in full capacity.  Why would the physician tell people about his history?  What kind of nods do you think he would get?  What patients would be willing to go to him for medical care?  Carla had not heard about the gamers, computer programmers, the nurses or anyone from the functioning productive public who had the courage to fight for themselves by choosing ECT.

My patients with whom I discuss ECT have concerns.  You have concerns.  Much of the world is concerned.  There are reasons.  ECT has improved farther than Jack Nicholson’s report on One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, though many of us were alive when his movie was first viewed.  The distance we have come in refining the practice of ECT is out of proportion to the distance in time from when ECT was not much more than sticking your finger in a socket and getting voltage in a continuous sine wave for therapy.  Is it shameful being connected to that history?  Is it too soon to say, “These are the ancestors I claim?” You know what to do with shame.

There are few medical specialties that gather as many opinions as psychiatry.  Yes.  Well there are even fewer medical treatments that are found in the company of so much frothing opinions than ECT.  No wonder we are quiet.  No wonder we are concerned.

So, although we veterans of ECT perhaps have not spoken up in our community, although we may not tear up at ceremonies for what our courageous self-care has done for our country or understand how we fit in, although we may not hang flags or tattoo it into our skin, we are courageous important citizens in company.  We are heroes.  Maybe not as cool in leather, but we are where we are because of those who have come before us and for what we have carried on.  We have suffered and died and lived and we are connected.  We have community and we are not alone.

Happy Veterans Day.

Self-Care Tip – Celebrate your courage.

Consider the Barrier Stigma Plays in Your Ability to Take Care of Yourself

Esther... The Girl Who Became Queen DVD Cover

I am just going to come right out and say it.  I have been trying to be clever, a Queen Esther toward her King and Hamon, on behalf of the people she loved.  (Yes.  I am Queen Esther in this story.  You can play her in another one.  Maybe tomorrow.)  I have been talking about treatment options for brain health and it is just not going where I was trying to take us – ECT.

ECT, my friends.  Electroconvulsive Therapy.  Many people see this as an extreme option for the dire, filtered out treatment failures.  That is an ugly description but I believe pretty close to what we have culturally got.  Many of you have told us how you escaped receiving electrically induced convulsions.  You hid from the boogie man and lived to tell us.  (There are chemically induced convulsions but we have more control of the convulsions through electricity, so that is the standard of care.)  Others have testified that it destroyed them with a catalog of specific and nonspecific complaints.

Interestingly we have not heard from you who have received ECT.

Come out, come out wherever you are.

Stigma perhaps hides you, and we can understand why.  Stigma toward ECT is like stigma toward anything – pretty off topic and hurtful.  Although it is improved by education and empathy, it is not fun challenging it “alone.”

Tonight I am not going to talk about the pros and cons of ECT, but to say that you are not alone.  You who are in treatment or have been in treatment or are considering ECT – would you tell us what you know, personal or impersonal?  There are many of us who would benefit from your education and empathy.

(What would that do to stigma?  What would that do for us?)

It would be wonderful to hear questions any of you have, as well, and anything related to ECT that you would like to share.  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip – Consider the barrier stigma plays in your willingness to receive treatment and to connect with others.

Choose Self-Care At Your Most Elemental Level

Buchenwald-100625-14486-Schwerte-hell

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #167 – Choose self-care at your most elemental level.

Carl, who writes blog-site, StillFugue, said after yesterday’s post on self-care being for everyone,

Sometimes depression blocks this type of self-care regardless of how good our cognitive strategies are.

Carl reminded me of Dr. Lang.  He was a physician, a father, a man of high character who never had depression in his life.  Then after a series of life stressors depression expressed itself and he, who once was the warm-fuzzy in the hospital, the man who never lost his optimism, the man who turned anyone’s bad mood around – this man came to me under a black cloud, heavy with melancholy, and raining tears.  He cried all the time.  This giant of a man cried and cried on his wife’s shoulder, and she was bewildered by him.  She told me he had done this for a month now, although the depression started about four years ago.  He kept wanting her to read to him the book of Job and cried more barely hearing the words.  He had already been through a series of well-chosen medications, but still he sank deeper.  No form of treatment kept up with the leak in his ship.  What was self-care for Dr. Lang?

Did Dr. Lang have good coping skills?  Well he wasn’t coping well now even though he knew the strategies.  He didn’t understand why he couldn’t use the coping skills.  Did he have intelligence?  Yes.  Did he have resources?  Yes.  However, none of that is what this was about.  Asking Dr. Lang to cope with his feelings is the same as asking someone blind to see.  Physically, biologically he could not.  His brain could not.  Much of his ability to choose behaviors and emotions were drowned by illness.

So again, the implied question comes to us, – “Is self-care for everyone?”

Mr. Rick C. threw this life-saver out in response to our question,

During times when chaos ensues, either internally or externally, self-care seems to become the basis on which all other positive actions are built.

Sarah McGaugh also referred to self-care as “action,”

A call to action may also be a higher calling than one’s own self….

What action did Dr. Lang do?  He cried on his wife’s shoulder and read the Bible, i.e., he leaned on the support he had built up before the hard times came.  After failing medications, he sought another opinion and other treatments.  Sure, he couldn’t get out of bed otherwise even to bathe himself, but he had made it to my office.  What did Dr. Lang do?  He got electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and in two months, along with his medication (only one antidepressant was needed at this point), Dr. Lang was no longer crying.  In four months, he was laughing again.  In six months, he stopped ECT altogether and maintained his emotional health with his monotherapy medication.  It’s been seven years since Dr. Lang went through all that and he has not relapsed yet.

I pick out so many points that I consider self-care choices Dr. Lang made.  They changed over time for him according to his needs and abilities, but he didn’t want to die.  Even at his worst, when he could barely remember why life was so important, that wisp of hope was enough to live for.  It was a higher calling to him, higher than his own dark wants.

That was Dr. Lang’s choice.  He chose self-care at his most elemental level.  It was his response to the call of hope.

Questions:  But what about you?  What do you think?  Is self-care for everyone?  Please tell me your story.