Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The mind is a terrible thing.....

Remember that commercial from the 80's with the egg?
"this is your brain..... (throws egg in frying pan).....this is your brain on drugs."
That was a good one, during the golden age of Nancy Reagan telling us to "Just say no".

There was another one I think for the United Negro College Fund
and the end slogan was always "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."
(which is still their slogan and a damn good one!)

"the mind is a terrible thing" has always been my slogan :)

I am continually baffled by the arc of mental illness.
It's amazing that we literally survive our own minds in this day and age.
I am a firm believer in mental illness and it's effects on folks and their families.
I love to discuss and learn in detail the cause and effect of mental illness,
specifically "Crazy"........is that a medical term? I don't know.
I love to watch movies about "crazy people", read books written by "crazy people".....
these are my people!

I just read about a Czech scientist who has a very deeply rooted theory that the protozoa
that is in cat feces is laying dormant in peoples brains and changing the way they think and feel.
Cat people are being manipulated by this protozoa.

I am a very big fan of the podcast "Stuff You Should Know"
they have a website as well -  http://www.howstuffworks.com/
Really cool show that talks on a million different subjects where the guys do all of the research
and teach you about the subject firsthand, in a very fun, entertaining way.

So, recently I listened to their podcast "How panic attacks work"
I was VERY interested to say the least.
Strangely enough, scientists have linked a gene to causing this horrific experience.
If you have too many of this "fear" based gene, you could be a more fearful person
and in turn be more likely to have panic attacks, or panic disorder.
OR.....anyone can have a panic attack, even only once in a lifetime.
If you have a traumatic experience take place when you are a child, your brain could "wire in"
that experience and save it for years later......so 30 years later, when the time is right and everything lines up in your brain, a certain set of circumstances could trigger this release and you might have a one time only panic attack.   Thats just freaking crazy shit right there!
Now, get this - a panic attack is basically your fear factor kicking in, without any real fear or danger actually taking place, but your nervous system is being told by your brain that you are in imminent danger. The worst part is that your primary nervous system, that would usually kick in and calm you down and focus all your strength on "flight", running away, knows that there is nothing wrong, so it does NOTHING! So you just get this huge boost of adrenaline and freak out going and it doesn't stop or slow down or get focused, you just FREAK OUT.

WOW, I love learning how crazy works.
That is so unbelievably nuts. People deal with this everyday if they have Panic Disorder.
It's what causes phobias to elevators, buildings, airplanes....etc.
If you have a panic attack somewhere, you NEVER want to go there again.
Obviously they have medicine to help calm your ass down - like anti-depressants.
But the best form of relieving this craziness, is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

"The cognitive model states that individuals with panic disorder often have distortions in their thinking, of which they may be unaware, and these may give rise to a cycle of fear."

So, therapists spend time with the patient explaining to them that they are actually "crazy".
(they might be a little more politically correct than yours truly)
Then they begin to work with them by letting them know that possibly their minds have been
thinking on their own and making decisions for them that are not actually based in fact.
Eventually, the outcome is to get the people to accept that something is wrong with their minds
and accept that they have panic attacks.  If you are fearful of an elevator, they get you to first imagine being on an elevator and eventually to actually get on one and see that everything is ok.
This takes a long time. If the person with this disorder can come to the state of acceptance,
they can eventually manage these attacks and sometimes they go away completely.
The best scenario is for the person to have a panic attack and be able to say to themselves
"It's ok, I'm just having a panic attack, this will pass."
Basically, getting a grip on their mind and teaching themselves to recognize their disorder.

If you realize you are crazy, you're now not as crazy as you once were.

Of course, I always relate all of this crazy to my own crazy.
Because, before I worked any steps or got into a recovery program......
I was just doing what my brain told me to do and basically thought I had no choice in the matter.
In fact, I would do things I said I would never do again, against my own will.
I would wake up and wonder why the hell did I do that???
I couldn't figure it out at all.
People told me I was a horrible person, I was selfish and self-centered and didn't care about
anyone else, just about myself. They were absolutely correct, but I didn't understand to the lengths
this selfishness extended.
The last time I got high, I was clean for 30 days.
I told myself I was going to do this new drug that a friend had and that I would only go for a few hours and then I would come home. I had to be at work the next day.
I made it perfectly clear what my intentions were and how I would handle myself.
I stayed high for 6 days and never came home, except to steal some money to buy more.
When this spree had ended and I woke up a day or so later......I KNEW something was wrong with me.  How did this happen? I did not intend for this to be the outcome and then I realized
that EVERY time I drink or do drugs, this is the same result.
This is how all the bad shit has taken place - I cannot control myself once I put in.
And then it really hit me, my mind knew this was true and continued to tell me do it anyway.
My mind would convince me it would be different this time.
It used elaborate hoaxes and stories to get my attention. I believed it every time.
I realized I was CRAZY.
I desperately needed a "Psychic Change".

Just like the Panic Disorder sufferers, or the crazy Cat people,
I needed a change of mind and heart.
What I found is that Spirituality could forever cure my mind into "right thinking".
Because no one in their "right" mind would do what I had been doing.
I slowly learned to change my thinking from selfishness and self centeredness to thinking of
others first and being considerate.  I learned to say "No" to the drugs and the alcohol because I realized it was bad for me.  That in turn helped to make better decisions in all walks of my life.
My mind still thinks some really crazy stuff, but I realize that it is crazy thinking, and move one.
I don't just do what my mind tells me to do today.
I considerate my options, I consider the outcome of my actions, and if need be - I pray about
making the right choices. When I put God first before everything I say or do, I always make the right choice.  I accept my mental illness today, it has in turn forced me into a spiritual life.
This acceptance has been a life changing decision, and I so grateful for the chance to
think clearly.