Archive for the 'Health' Category

Postpartum Depression

After pregnancy, some women start to feel like they’re just not ‘right’. Hormonal changes, healing, and taking care of a newborn while still running a household can all attribute to this feeling. In cases, the extra tiredness and sad emotions will begin to fade. In other the symptoms can deepen and become Postpartum Depression.

The word ‘depression’ brings to mind lethargy, avoidance of others, and someone who is constantly sad. This may be true, but depression can also include anger, hallucinations, and intrusive thoughts. Women with post partum depression often do not seek treatment due to feelings of shame and inadequacy. When a woman does not seek help she may eventually lose control and harm herself and potentially others.

Luckily for those of us who have suffered from postpartum depression there are resources readily available on the internet and through understanding health care practitioners. By recognizing symptoms you or your loved one may be experiencing, you can use these resources to find an ending to the suffering brought on by this serious mental disease.

If you are suffering from PPD, you may not even know it. You might feel sad, tired, or angry, but not know why. While it is possible to beat PPD on your own, it’s not recommended. If you do not choose to use medication, there are alternatives like support groups and therapy.

My own story with PPD began in 2002. I had given birth to my second daughter and just didn’t feel ‘right’. I was sad, tired, and felt at a loss each and every day. I began to believe people were talking about me behind my back. It got so bad that I would avoid looking at people in public and if there were more than two cars in a restaurant parking lot, I would make my husband go elsewhere or through a drive through.

I found some information on postpartum depression and decided to take the first step by admitting I had a problem. I talked with my husband, then to my nurse-midwife. We all decided a plan of low level antidepressants would have the best effect on me. Sadly, it turned out that the drug I was taking did nothing for me, except to cause an apathetic outlook. I eventually gave up the medication in favor of support.

In 2004, my third daughter was born and I began to have symptoms of PPD again. This time though, the severity was much worse. Bordering on Postpartum Psychosis, I came very close to being committed several times, and to be honest, I should have been. While I did not have wishes to harm others, each and everyday suicide was a very prominent thought. I refused to admit to having a problem, luckily my husband had been with me through the entire episode of the last PPD issue and knew that this time, there was something seriously wrong.

I began a regimen of the anti depressant Zoloft, with nearly immediate effects. I also found an online support forum on the Ezboard network devoted to PPD. All people affected by PPD was welcome there. Husbands, the victim herself, and other friends and family members. I was able to keep a journal in hopes of finding a pattern in my actions and symptoms. Eventually, I did. Now I use my journal as a way to update other members and let them know there is hope at the end of the dark tunnel that is Postpartum Depression.

Today I am a (fairly) happy mother of four with a budding freelance writing career. I write for online and print media, and I do not worry so much about having a ‘trigger’ set me back into my old depression. There is an end to the PPD, you just have to hold on to your life tightly. Here is a link for those who need more information on PPD. Postpartum Depression Forums

Posted in Pregnancy, Concerns and Expectations, Mental Health | 5 Comments »

Caregivers of the Elderly

During my time as a Certified Nursing Assistant, I spent most of my time caring for nursing home residents who suffered from Alzheimer’s and other dementias. I have seen so many tired and depressed residents, along with families who seem so lost. Dementias can wreak havoc on a family, especially those who do not have the resources or support that they need. In the midst of the doctor’s appointments, the flurry of care decisions, and arguments, the victim and their families lose touch with one another’s needs.

Caregivers tend to forget about themselves. Depression is a danger while caring for a loved one affected by this disease. Feelings of helplessness, loss, anger, and being inadequate runs rampant in the caregiver community. If you are the caregiver or relative of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, you don’t have to feel this way. There are a multitude of resources available to you online and through your community.

The internet is a vast reservoir of information concerning health topics. Websites, forums, and newsgroups can help you find your way through this time of coping. In most areas there are community based support groups that advertise though Yahoo Groups or Craigslist. Your local newspaper is also an excellent source of support group information. A newspaper will often have times and phone numbers listed to help you in contacting the groups.

If your loved one is already in a long term care facility, try to strike up friendships with the Nursing Assistants who are providing the personal care. Most people think that nurses are responsible for the day to day care of residents, but that just is not true. Yes, nurses oversee the work of CNAs and give medicines, but nursing assistants provide the basic care for all patients. From bathing to feeding, these are the ones who do it all. Forming a relationship with the nursing assistants will also help ensure that your family member gets the proper care they are entitled to. It will also give you a great insight into the condition of your loved one.

Make sure to talk to the CNAs and nurses each time you visit. Being friendly and not agitated in your manner helps keep down miscommunications. These workers can give you so many tips on how to help your loved one be more comfortable and also help alleviate your grief, if only a small fraction. The staff who cares for your relative becomes attached and cares very much for their patients. It’s hard on a CNAor nurse when their patients pass, so they will try to help you learn to walk down your road ahead with grace and understanding.

Posted in Mental Health, Stress Management | 5 Comments »

Motivational Monday: Albert Einstein

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”- Albert Einstein

Something that bothers me to the extreme is how attached some people get to items. I can understand sentimental value. A few things in my home have been with me for years, mementos of certain people or times. But, hoarding and attaching signifigance to the smallest thing results in a cluttered home and mind. The constant worry of if something is ’safe’ from your children, partner, or guests is stressful. Packing it carefully away reduces it’s real value.

And what is the real value of a sentimental item?

The memories. Yes, the set of dishes your grandmother used on holidays or other special occasions may mean the world to you. But what satisfaction comes from having it packed away? The memories came from the use of them…and how can memories continue to be forged if you wrap them in newspaper?

Handling and using the things that come from ones you loved is the best way to honor them. Of course, some things might be too fragile for everyday use. If finances permit, check into preservation/restoration services. A quilt can be hung on a wall, plates placed in a hutch, and small things like Granpa’s pipe and pocketwatch could make a lovely shadowbox.

Build your memories, don’t pack them away.

Posted in Daily Living, Mental Health, Stress Management | No Comments »

Motivational Monday: Helen Keller

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”

Helen Keller was born into a life of darkness and silence, yet she overcame these limitations to live a life that lit the darkness for others. The smallest effort is great if it is fufilled to the best of your efforts and talent.

Are you a single mother? A single father? Maybe you are just someone who spends each day going through the motions of living. When was the last time you took a moment to note the good things you do each day? Perhaps you read a book to a child, held the door for someone at the market, or even just made that first cup of coffee for your partner.

Each of these selfless tasks are noble. Every person has something of the great and noble in them and it doesn’t take aspiring to moving mountains to show the world. Just opening your heart to the tiny kindness that each of us perform each day is enough.

Posted in Lifestyles, Daily Living, Mental Health, Stress Management | 1 Comment »

Friday’s Foods: Veggie Burgers!

Hey all you vegans out there and those of you who want to try out a great veggie burger with some south of the border taste…Vegetarian Times published this recipe for Hot Tamale Burgers in July and I thought I would share it with you. Even if you’re not a vegan or vegetarian you’ll love the recipes put out by Vegetarian Times. Pick up an issue if you haven’t!

1 Cup short grain brown rice
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
1 small red bell pepper (chopped)
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels (1 med ear)
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced, plus 2 teaspoons sauce.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup instant masa harina or yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3/4 teaspoon lime zest

1- Bring the rice and 3 cups of water to boil in a medium sauce pan. Reduce heat to low, over and simmer 40 min or until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.

2- meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, corn, chipotle, adobo sauce, garlic, and cumin with the salt. Sauté 2 minutes, then reduce to low heat. Cover and cook 15 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Whisk 1/2 cup water with the masa harina in a bowl. Add to the skillet mixture, cover, and cook on low 10 minutes more. (mix will feel like thick cornmeal mush)

3-Remove from heat and stir in hot rice, cilantro, lime juice and zest. Cool for 20 minutes. Wet hands and shape the mix into 8 large patties. You can make smaller ones, too. Pop’em in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4- Prepare the charcoal or gas grill for medium heat. Brush the burgers with olive oil, along with the rack. Grill 7 minutes per side or until crusty on the outside. (Less time for smaller burgers)

Yummy, yummy! Top these guys with some smoky cheddar or Monterey jack, be sure to put the cheese on a few minutes before removing from the grill. Toast your buns for extra flavor.

Special thanks to Stacey for giving me the inspiration for this post!

Posted in Cooking, Healthy Eating, Nutrition for Adults | 4 Comments »

Motivational Monday: The Glad Game

Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses. -Confucius

I’m trying really hard with this one today. It seems that people are more inclined to remember injuries and to be honest, I’m one of them. Learning to let go of personal injuries to the emotions is a hard lesson, but not impossible. Lately I’ve been playing the ‘glad game’. Remember PollyAnna? If you’ve never read that book, take a chance and read it.

The ‘glad game’ is taking the time to think of ways to be glad over everything that happens to you. The harder it is, the better it is for your soul. For example…you didn’t get the promotion you wanted or a job you wanted didn’t come through. Well, perhaps you can be glad that you don’t have to spend the extra time on the job and you can spend it with your loved ones instead. Maybe you need eyeglasses, but you can be glad you are not blind, and so on.

The Glad Game is hard, but easier than living with constant regret.

Posted in Conflict and Anger, Character Development, Mental Environment, Stress Management | No Comments »

Friday’s Foods: Healthy Substitutions


Do you need to change your diet to include more healthy foods? There are still pleanty of foods you can enjoy, especially if you use substitutions. Sometimes it may be hard to figure out what you can use in place of another ingredient. To help you with this change, I offer a list of healthy substitutions for commonly called for ingredients.

1 Baking Chocolate Square- 3 tablespoons carob powder from the health food store and 2 tablespoons of water.

Butter or Margerine- Vegetable oil, sesame oil, or tahini butter in the same amount called for of butter or margerine.

1 cup of Buttermilk or Sour cream- 1 cup of low fat yogurt, 1 cup of milk plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Cornstarch- Arrowroot, agar agar

Cottage Cheese- An equl amount of tofu

Ground Beef- Use the same quantity or weight in ground nuts, soy beans, tofu crumbled, or textured vegetable protein.

1 egg- 1 tablespoon arrowroot or 1 tablespoon cornstarch. This works well in baking.

Milk- Soy milk or nut milks. Almond milk is especially nutritious and tasty.

Peanut butter- Use other nut butters such as hazelnut, walnut, almond, or cashew butters.

To replace salt you can use salt substitute or make your own mix of dried herbs. There are many different recipes for dried herb mixes that you can place in your own shaker and use to season your food. If you have spices and herbs that you favor above others, try experimenting until you have your own secret mix to season all of your favorite recipes.

Posted in Cooking, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition for Adults | 4 Comments »

Motivational Monday

“Be who you are and say what you mean because those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.” - Dr. Seuss

A Daisy Doesn't Pretend To Be A Rose

I love this quote. No matter who you are, you should live by this rule and teach your children to do so as well. Low self esteem not only comes from bullying, but from the fear of allowing others to see who you truly are. Be honest, be direct, and never hide the real you.

The kids are making a new start right now, why shouldn’t mom and dad? Don’t let resolutions and goals to make changes come only at the beginning of the year. Little changes add up over time, especially those that can help boost confidence.

Why not choose a new quote to jot down on a small piece of paper once a week and try to live by it the best you can? When you’re feeling low or just need to have a little reminder, pull it out of your pocket and read it. Read the quote out loud if you want. Use it in conversation.

And don’t stop with quotes from famous or historic people, come up with your own. Who knows, you may end up with a quaint little coffee table book of inspirational sayings you have written!

From now on, let’s start the week off with a quote. Feel free to email me suggestions!

Posted in Character Development, Daily Living, Faith, Mental Environment, Stress Management | No Comments »

Sneak Some Vitamins Into Your Kids (and you!)

A Vitamin Packed Smoothie.

A well balanced diet is the best way to get kids full of the proper vitamins for their growth. Fish, fresh fruit and veggies, plus whole grains will help your children stay healthy. All of those foods have the right balance of nutrition when combined with other healthy choices.

But what if your child, or you, hate some or most of those foods? In that case, it is very easy to become deficient in nutrients the body needs to stay strong enough to prevent sickness and even bone breakage. Luckily there are many foods you and your kids can eat that will sneak in the vitamins and nutrients the body needs. Foods that are stuffed with the ever important calcium, vitamin A, and essential omega fatty acids.

Many people love to snack on salty or sweet crunchy foods. Pumpkin seeds can help fulfill this desire and be flavored so many different ways. With a toss of olive oil and seasoned to taste, it’s so easy to make a crunchy snack! The combinations are infinite. I use a full pumpkin’s worth of seeds that have been picked clean from the gourd, washed, then laid flat to dry. You can speed this process by using a paper towel. Then toss the seeds on a large bowl with about a tablespoon of olive oil if you have it, vegetable oil if you don’t. Once covered well with the oil, sprinkle in some good sea salt, then choose your seasoning. My kids like them sweet so I try to add a little sugar for a ‘kettle cooked’ taste. Some adults love the Cajun flavors, so just sprinkle on about a teaspoon of Cajun seasoning to start.

These are only my ratios. You can use as much or as little as you’d like to satisfy your own taste. Experiment with other spices and herbs to make your own unique pumpkin seeds recipe.

I have been known to hide veggies into dishes you wouldn’t normally find them. A few days ago I made a stir fry with very thinly sliced steak, a whole head of cabbage, a bag of spinach, onions, carrots, and a huge sweet red pepper. Oh, and mushrooms. I used an electric wok and cooked the very thinly cut steak first. After that, I just dumped in the other ingredients, turned the wok to low and let it go until everything was soft. A small dash of sugar and a few shots of soy sauce made this dish taste slightly Asian, but not too strongly. Because of the way the veggies were sliced the kids assumed they were noodles. Go figure!

If you have a juicer, you’re ahead of the game. You can add a little vegetable juice into fruit juice, or to put into a soup stock instead of chicken broth. Try it in breads instead of water for a vitamin boost to your grains. Simmer rice in a water and veggie juice mix to help replace the vitamins that were lost when white rice was milled.

If you’re creative, you can find so many ways to sneak healthy foods into your children or yourself. Maybe even into a reluctant spouse. For more ideas and information on healthy eating, check out this article Healthy Eating: Best Sources Of Fiber.

Posted in Health, Nutrition, Cooking, Healthy Eating | 1 Comment »

Kitchen Health: Cinnamon

This Toast Can Lower Your Cholesterol!

I love cinnamon and have ever since I was small. The scent is so warm, inviting, and has even been found to boost memory, along with cognitive function! I guess that’s why remember Grandma’s cookies so well. Ok, maybe not, but they were so tasty.

I add cinnamon into different dishes you probably wouldn’t normally think of dumping it into. The spice has a wonderful way of bringing out the flavor of other ingredients, especially pork. Try a dash in spaghetti sauce or meatloaf.

Cinnamon has so many benefits to the body. A recent study found cinnamon in a ½ teaspoon dose daily can lower LDL cholesterol. It can also help regulate blood sugar in diabetics. Another great benefit is the ability cinnamon has in stopping yeast infections that are resistant to medication. Here is a short list of some other great things about cinnamon:

1. It’s full of manganese, iron, calcium, and fiber.
2. It’s an anti-clotting agent for blood.
3. Mixing cinnamon with one tablespoon of honey and taken every morning can give relief in sufferers of arthritis.
4. At Copenhagen University, a study has shown cinnamon reduced the growth of leukemia and lymphoma.

Wow. So many more reasons to love one of our most popular kitchen spices!

Posted in Uncategorized, Health, Arthritis, Chronic Illness, Cold and Flu Remedies, Diabetes, Healthy Eating, Herbs and Natural Remedies | 3 Comments »

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