Women, Hormones and Mood

Did you know that women experience twice as much depression as men? Would that be because we’re more sensitive? I think not. The explanation which best fits is that we are more affected by hormonal shifts which influence our brain chemistry, particularly around times when our lives change dramatically-like pregnancy and post-birth.

In fact, 1 in 8 women will experience a clinical episode of depression, anxiety, etc. during pregnancy, postpartum and menopause, which is greater than the occurrence of most health conditions. So, what will it take for emotional health to become an integral part of women’s health? Why aren’t women being routinely screened for mood and anxiety conditions? How can health conditions which have such a profound impact on developing families continue to be ignored?

I was having this conversation Friday with a local journalist and told him that women must lead the charge like we’ve done with breast cancer. We must come forward and share our stories to support each other in getting the help we need and deserve. We must be prepared to educate our health providers and make it clear that we expect to be cared for-body, mind, heart and soul. We must challenge our own biases about anxiety and depression, and accept them as “health conditions” just like heart disease or diabetes.

Ghandi said, “Become the change you want to see in the world.”

To learn more about hormones and mood, read Women’s Moods about pregnancy and postpartum, The Wisdom of Menopause, and visit www.womenshealth.gov.

Blessings

As I sit here listening to absolutely beautiful music play from www.aholyexperience.com, my thoughts turn to Stacey, my dear co-conspirator at livingselfcare, and how she’s doing. I’ve had a rough few weeks myself with becoming acutely ill after a great vacation, but when I read about her taking her mom in, I thought this post needs to be about her and the generosity of spirit she and many of you have.

Knowing that this decision would raise many discomforts for her, she chose it anyway, as women often do. I am always awestruck by such unselfishness and yet many of us dismiss what we’ve done as obligatory or no big deal. But, it’s so much more than that. It’s about being connected to life at a very deep level and knowing that relationships are the greatest wealth of all. What is more important than loving and being loved? This is what makes life worthwhile.

Please extend your blessings to Stacey and all who are in need of comfort and support as they undertake the challenges life presents. When you awake and when you lie down, offer a prayer of healing for them and you. I will, too.

(Stacey-This one’s for you).

Where the Magic Happens

They say that “Magic happens when you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone” and that’s where I’ve spent the last six months, creating the Midwest Mind Body Health Center which opens today. When I first decided to enter this unknown territory, I reached out to another mind-body-spirit counseling professional, Maria Carella, who embraced the idea with the same enthusiasm I had. Next, I spoke with another amazing woman, Janet K, who I’ve known for 20+ years who agreed to be our office manager. In the past few weeks, I’ve discovered that no task is too daunting and she takes care of whatever I need-no worries. Pure magic.

After Janet, I ran into Shirley Stoll, our meditation instructor, at a Chopra Center meditation and yoga retreat. Next, I was introduced to Jen McCurdy, one of our counseling providers, through a chance conversation with my good friend and colleague, Executive Director of Mother to Mother, Linda Meyer. A couple weeks later, Jen, Maria and I were at a Mother to Mother fundraiser together (which we didn’t plan), and Maria told me Jen was the woman she wanted me to speak with about becoming part of our team. After that, my massage therapist Sage Kuhlmann who’s also a yoga instructor, joined. Then I contacted another psychologist, Megan Keyes, who I’d known for years through her family and thought would be too busy, but she was interested too.

And the magic didn’t stop there. My husband Steve supported me unconditionally from encouragement that things would work out despite setbacks to moving the contents of my entire office. There were also countless friends and family who kept me going with hopefulness when I’d misplaced mine. While I felt stretched and challenged, I didn’t feel  alone.

Goethe said, “What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

Once again, I learned how much can be gained by stepping outside your comfort zone. Now, I’m encouraging you to do the same. That’s where you discover magic. I promise.

(Thanks to Shannon Hutson for inspiring this post)

Introducing the Midwest Mind Body Health Center

After many weeks of uncertainty about my new office, I can finally announce that on Oct. 1, the Midwest Mind Body Health Center will be open for business. In addition to the counseling services I’ve always provided, we’ll be offering weekly classes and multi-session workshops in mind-body practices including mindfulness, meditation and yoga. Research has shown that these practices can help reduce stress, depression and anxiety and improve health and well-being.

I could go on for hours, but instead check out the new website at www.mindbodystl.com.  And remember, “Self-care is like chocolate; you can never have enough.”

Namaste.

This Too Shall Pass

Reading Stacey’s post last week, reminded me that life is full of joy and sorrow, loss and gain. These shifts occur in a day, week, months or years. How do we keep going? Here’s what I decided to do.

Monday I discovered my colleagues leaving the practice I started and will be maintaining, sent marketing info out which prompted a nurse from one of the groups I work closely with to call and ask if Women’s Healthcare Partnership (my practice) was breaking up. I was worried and distressed. But, I had a cancellation the next hour so I phoned the group’s office manager to tell her Women’s Healthcare Partnership was not breaking up and arranged for them to visit my new location. I felt relieved. The same day, I got home to discover these colleagues had sent an e-mail with both their pictures on it after one of them told me she didn’t know anything about it. I felt angry and upset. However, Wednesday I signed my new lease and can finally move ahead with my plans to open the Midwest Mind Body Health Center on Oct. 1. Yeah!

How did I cope? I reminded myself of the story of King Solomon’s ring. As the story goes, King Solomon heard of a magical ring that had the power to make happy people sad, and sad people happy so he sent his minister out to find it. He was about to abandon the search when he came across a wise jeweler who said he’d heard of such a ring and would make him one. Taking a plain gold band he engraved four words in it. When the ring was delivered, King Solomon recognized the simple wisdom it contained, for engraved in the band were the words, “This too shall pass.”

Life is constantly changing. This is the hard and promising truth. Light becomes dark and dark turns to light in a single day.  Next time you face adversity, stress or just unpleasant feelings,  remember “This too shall pass.”

Redefining Happiness

The other night I dreamt I went to camp again. The dream was a hodgepodge of camp activities which I will refrain from describing, but, suffice it to say, I was genuinely happy. For a moment, when I woke up, I thought I was really in my cabin at camp, but as my eyes adjusted to the dark and my mind cleared, I realized I wasn’t anywhere close to camp. Instead I was alone in my apartment, and all too quickly I remembered that instead of having a day of kayaking and sun-bathing ahead, all I had to look forward to was doing practice questions to prepare for my upcoming exam. That’s when I started to cry.

After the tears subsided, I grabbed my computer to search for quotes online, something I like to do when I’m feeling blue, and stumbled across a quote by Leonardo da Vinci that said, “Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward; for there you have been, there you long to return.”

And, while I didn’t literally long to fly, I did long for the happy, carefree life I once had. For the time when I was able to spend four hours a day at dance practice. Or six hours making dinner and dessert for my friends. Or a morning doing absolutely nothing.

As I lay in bed, reminiscing about my pre-medical school life, I slowly began to acknowledge my current life really isn’t so terrible—it’s just different. So, I decided it’s time for me to redefine happiness. Instead of happiness being doing whatever I want whenever I want, I need to start looking for happiness in what I already have. I have a great group of friends and a loving family. I’m healthy. I’m physically and mentally capable of doing anything I set my mind to. And I’m well on my way to a highly rewarding career as a doctor.

Just as I am trying to do, I encourage you to consider if perhaps it’s time for you to redefine what happiness is and to look for all the wonderful things you already possess instead of longing for what once was and will not be again.

Today’s guest author is Jessica Sanford, med student extraordinaire and Diane’s wonderful daughter.

What can you do to redefine happiness in your life? Let us know.

Don’t Labor-Enjoy the Day!

Today is the perfect day to celebrate all the hard work you do by taking time off. Whether we are caring for our children, partners, parents, friends, or pets, most women labor all the time, both in and outside of home. So just today, climb back in bed, have a cup of coffee, watch the TV show you want, go to the mall, have your nails done, read a good book, or do whatever suits you. You can go back to work tomorrow. For now, enjoy!

For more ideas about what you can do to make self-care part of your life, visit “Taking Care of You: Body, Mind and Spirit” at http://extension.missouri.edu/takingcare. I just got trained in this program and can’t recommend it enough.

Have a great day.