News for November 2012

Modern Culture and Mental Illness

Trigger Warning: Since this entry talks about families, family relationships and touches on holidays, I have decided to add a trigger warning to this entry. I know that for many people one or more of these topics can be triggering.

Note: I know that not everyone has had a positive family experience; however, for this article I portray family as a positive influence in our lives.

The other day I had a brief conversation with someone about the fact that their family does not get together for the holidays the way they did when they were younger. The family gatherings started becoming more infrequent after the family’s matriarch, the grandmother, passed away. Adding to the difficulty, several of the matriarch’s children also passed away within a few years of her death. This of course led to even more infrequent holiday gatherings; especially, since most of grandchildren were of an age that they had their own families and committed relationships, with a few of them even moving to other states.

This conversation, while brief, reminded me of something that I read awhile back. In one of my books on mental health, treatments and BPD, I ran across a discussion by the other on how the change in our culture has impacted mental health.

Unfortunately, I cannot find the book and the exact quote. The author proposed that as we have moved away from the tight knit family units, who for the most part all lived in the same general geographic area for generation to a more of a ‘scattering to the winds’ culture that this has had a negative impact on our mental health, both at the individual level and at larger cultural levels.

In the past, when families stayed in the same region and maintained closer relationships, it helped provide a stronger sense of identity and a strong support network for everyone. At the same time, communities were closer and often provided support for those who needed help. Since families remained in the same area, often time parents would teach their children their trade, further helping provide an identity for the next generation.

However, as we have moved from a family and community centric culture to a more materialistic culture, our families at times have scattered to the winds, at times moving hundreds or even thousands of miles away from one another in the name of advancement and progress. While, there are obvious upsides to this, there are also negative effects as well.

Moving far from our family denies us a strong support network and takes away a component of our identity. Moving far away removes the consistency that being around our extended family provides, that continuation of family values, culture and loving support.

Unfortunately, I do not know if any research exists that shows this correlation exists or if it is merely someone’s personal opinion and theory. I know it is one theory that I do believe has a good amount of validity to it.

Author’s Note: Writing this entry has been emotional for me. Several times as I wrote this entry I have had to distract myself to take care of myself. It has brought up both positive and negative emotions for me.

 

 

Edited: November 24th, 2012

Slow Down Your Haste is Making Waste

Slow down you’re moving way too fast
(Your feet don’t ever touch the ground)
Slow down You know you’ll never last
(You’re seeking that which can’t be found)
Slow down your haste is making waste
(Your feet don’t ever touch the ground)
Slow down and join the human race
(You’re seeking that which can’t be found)

-from Slow Down by Ozzy Osbourne

It is not often that people look to Ozzy Osbourne for advice with life; however, even the least likely of sources can provide insight into life and good advice at times.

If you look at the lyrics above, Ozzy offers up some good advice, slow down. Too often in life we find ourselves running around like the proverbial chicken with its head chopped off. This is unhealthy and unproductive. Rushing around leads to a lot of extra waste in our life, wasted effort, wasted time and wasted stress.

The more we rush around, the more stress we add to our day. When we rush around, we put ourselves in a constant state of flux, trying to figure out what we need to do next, where we need to be next, etc. Each of these things stress more and more. Rushing around also leads us to make more mistakes and not just more mistakes, but bigger mistakes.

Rushing around also leads us to burn ourselves out; it causes us to wear ourselves down physically and leaves us exhausted. We can only keep up a hectic pace for so long before we run out of steam. The more physically exhausted we are, the more emotionally sensitive we are and more difficult it is to regulate our emotions.

These days, when I feel myself starting to rush or get impatient, I make a conscious decision to slow down. For example, if I am walking to the metro and get behind someone that is moving slowly, and I feel myself getting impatient and wanting to rush, I slow my pace down, at times even coming to a dead stop for a few seconds and taking a deep breath before continuing.

Slowing down has helped me deal with stress quite a bit. It has also reduced the number of mistakes I make and the severity of the ones I do make. Both of these things have reduced my stress even further.

So like Ozzy says, “Slow down and join the human race.”

Edited: November 16th, 2012

Brief Update

This is just a fast update to let everyone know that I am alive and well. The last few weeks have just been a bit extra busy and stressful at times. This time last week, my wife and I were getting ready for Hurricane Sandy here in Virginia. Her original course appeared to put us in the middle of  her path; however, we did get very lucky. We did not suffer any damage, not even the loss of power for a few moments.

While we were getting ready, putting aside some water, getting flash lights ready, etc, I did wind up having a bit of increased anxiety. It was not so much that I was worried about us, I knew that my wife, my cat and I would be able to get out safely. I knew that I had the ability to control our evacuation and safety if it came to that; however, most of my family and friends live in New Jersey and in the path of the storm. It was this knowledge and being hours away and helpless to do anything for them that really stressed me out.

Beyond Sandy, work has just been extra busy it seems, but in a way that I actually enjoy. I have also been immersed in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin which has taken up a lot of my time. I have also been having issues with my mobile device from T-Mobile which has limited my availability and time to write.

I intend to have a new blog entry of meaning and value available later this week.

Edited: November 5th, 2012

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