Saturday, November 29, 2008


Despite the continuing gloomy news about our economy and the rest of the world, I try every day to be thankful for what I have. I don't have a job, but I do have a computer and high speed Internet so I can continue to look for work. My health is relatively good and I haven't completely lost my mind. Even though I have bitched many a day about the closet - which is my apartment that I live in, I live in the heart of Manhattan and my rent goes by my income. I'm 20 blocks from Central Park, so I take advantage and get in my exercise and enjoy the beauty of the park. Or other times, I walk around the corner to our local neighborhood park, enjoy the serenity and watch the many people and dogs walking by. According to "The Secret" by Rhonda Bryne, Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your energy and bringing more of what you want into your life. Be grateful for what you already have, and you will attract more good things.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Essences of Flowers

Years ago, back in the early 80’s, an actor walked into the office where I was working. At that time I was a Sub-Agent – an assistant to an Entertainment Agent. I must have looked depressed because he said as much. He opened his bag and pulled out a glass vial with a stopper and told me to stick out my tongue. I did as asked, don’t ask me why. He put of couple of drops of liquid on my tongue and informed me that I would feel better very soon. And, surprisingly I did. I asked him what he gave me and he answered, "Bach Flower Essences."I had heard of Bach, being into herbs and all, but had never tried them. Many years later, I re-discovered Bach Remedies while researching natural solutions for depression. I’m sorry that I didn’t take heed from that gentleman many years ago. I certainly could have used these natural medicines that are used to balance negative mental stress and emotions a long time ago. English physician and homeopath, Edward Bach, developed the essences in the 1930’s, to remedy emotional and spiritual conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and stress. Bach believed that illness was a result of the contradictions between the purposes of the soul and the personality’s point of view – which can lead to negative moods and blocking of energy - which can cause disharmony in the mind, and eventually physical ailments. He developed 38 remedies with each directed at a specific emotional state. You can combine the essences and the way to do it is shown on their websites. Rescue Remedy is one of the most popular of the essences, because of its combinations of flowers and its fast action on stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and emergency situations. Some of the remedies for Depression are:
Gentian – when we feel like giving up
Gorse – when we feel like things will not improve
Sweet Chestnut – for deep despair
Mustard – when one is unhappy, feeling gloomy, and depressed for no reason
Willow - for self-pity and resentment


Thursday, September 18, 2008


Dysthymia is like having a low grade fever. You feel irritable, lack energy, inability to concentrate, or make decisions, can be pessimistic, negative, and have a poor self-image. It can be chronic to the point that one feels it's a part of their personality. Dysthymia I have had for years. Occasionally, Major Depression will rear its ugly head too, depending on what's going on in my life; loss of a job or extreme stress can make it show up. I used to think that my depression - Major Depression and Dysthymia was mainly due to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, but I have realized that environmental factors such as the physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse played a major factor. Living with one parent with mercurial and destructive moods and another who was silent and withdrawn, are some of the factors that brought about my Dysthymia. I walked around on eggshells, always fearful of saying or doing the wrong thing. Not surprisingly, it wasn't a loving home, either. Treatment for dysthymia is the same as for other kinds of depression - therapy/medication, having a good support system of friends, exercise, eating well, yoga, meditation, and Prayer.

Symptons of Dysthymia:
an overwhelming yet chronic state of depression, exhibited by a depressed mood for most of the days, for more days than not, for at least 2 years
Poor appetite or overeating
Insomnia or hypersomnia
Low energy or fatigue
Low self-esteem
Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions
Feelings of hopelessness


Saturday, April 19, 2008


I received this in my email today. I thought I would share this with you:

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to.

3. Buy a DVR and tape your late night shows and get more sleep.

4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to __________ today.'

5. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.

6. Play more games and read more books than you did in 2007.

7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.

8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of six.

9. Dream more while you are awake.

10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.

11. Drink green tea and plenty of water.. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.

12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

13. Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.

14. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

15. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

16. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.

17. Smile and laugh more. It will keep the energy vampires away.

18. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

20. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

21. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

22. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.

23. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'

26. Forgive everyone for everything.

27. What other people think of you is none of your business.

28. GOD heals almost everything.

29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

30. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

31. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

32. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

33. The best is yet to come.

34. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

35. Do the right thing!

36. Call your family often. (Or email them to death!!!) Hey I'm thinking of Ya! =)

37. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________.

38. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

39. Enjoy the ride. Remember this is not Disney World and you certainly don't want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.

40. May your troubles be less. May your blessings be more. May nothing but happiness come through your door.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Anti - Depressant Cocktail

When I bought the book, "When Your Body Gets The Blues" I was skeptical, but there were formulas for getting enough sunlight, exercise, and taking vitamins that made sense to me. I know when I took the B vitamins in the past - they lessened my stress levels, but also improved my mood.

I decided to try the LEVITY formula along with the other suggestions in the book. Soon, I found that I didn't eat as much late at night, I slept better, and I had more energy, and my depression lessened. Research has shown that taking vitamins in higher dosages may offer many health benefits.

The main component of the program are the essential B Vitamins, Folic Acid, Vitamin D, and Selenium. This formula was expressly designed with women in mind. Researchers found that women performed better on the tests than men, when given the LEVITY formula.

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamin – involves the production of acetytcholine ( a chemical that your brain stores and retrieves information) and protects your nerve fibers. It also helps your body metabolize carbs and proteins, which are essential sources of energy.

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, assists your body in the production of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine – all chemicals that contribute to a sense of well-being and clearer thinking.

Vitamin B6 is also beneficial for the production of serotonin – the feel good hormone and DHA – a type of omega -3 fatty acid. Researchers have found that B6 improves the mood, promotes sleep, and improves thinking.

Many women are likely to be deficient in Folic Acid , including those who are age 55 and older, who have HIV/AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, alcohol dependency, and rheumatoid arthritis. Many Black and Latin women are especially at risk, due to poor diets. According to, Folic Acid deficiency has been found among people with depression and has been linked to poor response to antidepressant treatment. Folate supplements have been used for enhancing treatment response to antidepressants. Folic Acid also assists in improving mood by helping your body produce SAM –E – a natural antidepressant.

Vitamin D stimulates the production of serotonin and release, which is needed, since so few of us get enough sunlight. Exposure to sunlight gives us the essential Vitamin D for well being.

Selenium can improve your mood with in two and a half weeks. It also enhances the dopamine activity in ones brain – which in turn increases sense of pleasure. Studies have shown that selenium may also reduce the risk of cancer.
If you combine the LEVITY formula with daily walks along with exposure to the sun, you should experience a greater sense of well being and a lessening of your depression.

The Benefits of the Right Nutrients
Increased serotonin and dopamine production
Increased feelings of clearheadedness and composure
Higher energy levels
Fewer symptoms of PMS ( in some women)
Enhanced effectiveness of prescription antidepressants
Relief from the symptoms of winter depression
Reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease

If you have three or more or the following symptoms you may have the Body Blues:

  • Eating too much and gaining weight
  • Low energy
  • Irritability or tension
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Mild anxiety
  • Mild depression
  • Heightened sensitivity to rejection or criticism

LEVITY Program - Light, Exercise, and Vitamin Intevention Therapy

1. Light- Getting more very bright light during the day, but less at night.

2. Exercise -Going for a brisk outdoor walk, 20 minutes a day, five days a week.

3. Vitamins & Minerals - Taking the LEVITY Formula.

When Your Body Gets The Blues by Marie-Annette Brown, Ph.D., R.N., and Jo Robinson
Call 1-800-610-0542

This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, care or prevent any disease.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Be A Sun Goddess

The other day I took the A train out to Far Rockaway Beach. I hadn’t been out there in years, but weeks of dark, gray, cold and wet NYC weather had me feeling down. I was craving the sun and ocean - a combination that always relaxes and lifts my spirit.

There were few people out on the boardwalk and the beach when I got there. The slate gray sea pounded the taupe colored sand with waves that shimmered silver. The sun danced against an incredible robin’s nest blue sky - baby powder blue with a tinge of turquoise. I did some cleansing breaths to take in the negative ions that I knew would refresh me.

Negative ions are electronically charged particles that remove airborne contaminates from the air we breathe. It is these ions which have a rejuvenating effect when you are near a waterfall, in the mountains or the beach. I was doubly blessed that day because I was getting a dose of much needed sunlight and the effects of the ocean.

Today we live like the cave people we often joke about. We seem to always be indoors, whether it’s in our offices or at home, sitting in front of a computer or television. Sunlight is a premium in this city. Those of us who live in Manhattan get even less sunlight due to the highrises that function as our offices and homes, but also cut off our sun exposure.

Our ancestor’s bodies rose and set in sync with the sun, yet, we set our alarm clocks to get up and we go about our days in dimly lit offices and homes. The average sunny day has about 70,000 lux of light. Most homes and offices only have on average 200-400 lux of light. We seldom take the time to get the much needed sunlight that we need. Sunlight makes our hearts beat faster, increases our metabolic rate and alertness, helps us sleep at night, and improves our mood. It also infuses us with Vitamin D.

Because of our so-called modern life style, we also have low levels of Vitamin D. Sunlight gives us Vitamin D, which in turn stimulates the production of serotonin – the feel good hormone. Women of color are more likely to be deficient in Vitamin D, because the darker skinned we are the more slowly we create Vitamin D.

The amount of Vitamin D a light-skinned person produces in 20 minutes takes a dark skin person two hours for the same amount. Getting more sunlight can also be an appetite suppressant. Women who walk every day eat less carbs, according to several studies.

Perhaps we can get more sunlight in practical ways:Go for walks five or more times a week
Walk near a body of water (when possible) on darker days
Use a transparent umbrella on days it rains and snows
Rearrange work furniture to be closer to a window
Take a Vitamin D supplement (200 to 600 mg a day, depending on your age)
Open blinds and curtains in the daytime
Remove overhanging valances on your windows at home
Paint walls a brighter color
Bring lighting fixtures, brighter bulbs, or a light box to work
Switch to subcompact fluorescent bulbs
Wear lightly tinted or clear sunglasses for UV protection
Place large mirrors around your home to reflect more light

Benefits of more sunlight: Improvement in mood
Increased circulation to the brain
Boost your energy
Curb carbohydrate cravings
Control of appetite in general
Deepens your sleep

Source:When Your Body Get The BluesMarie-Annette Brown, Ph.D., R.N. and Jo Robinson

Friday, March 7, 2008

Yoga and Depression

This post is about Yoga and how it can benefit those suffering from depression. I am not against a person seeking the traditional therapies such as psychotherapy and medication, but there are natural alternative therapies that can compliment talk therapy and medications. I did therapy and medication when my depression was severe, and it saved my life.

Now, that my depression has lessened, I feel it can be managed with prayer, yoga, meditation, and holistic medicines. Yoga and meditation can also be combined with traditional therapies until you have your depression under control. Also, possibly through yoga and meditation one can cut back on the medications.

Everyone feels "blue" from time to time, but when depression deepens or persists for a long time, it can suppress your energy for living and make you more vulnerable to disease by dampening the immune system. Depression is sometimes a warning that may help you to protect your mental and physical health. It can be viewed as a signpost, signaling "It’s time for a change.”

Yoga, or "Yog" as it is traditionally called, means "Union with the Divine." It is a science of Self which dates back more than 5,000 years, orginating in India. There is no Eastern spiritual or religious practice that has not been directly or indirectly influenced by this path. The first thing a depressed person stops doing is moving. Regular exercise becomes intolerable.

But Yoga exercise, starting with as few as three poses a day in just a few minutes’ time, coupled with correct breath patterns, can become so pleasant to you that soon you will want to do more and more. The heavy, unmoving feeling of depression will be gone. Yoga exercises put pressure on glands and organs, helping them to produce the soothing, healing chemical balance that is needed to feel well and be well.

Yoga exercises improve circulation, sending invigorating oxygen to your brain and all your muscles. The stretching and strengthening movements flush toxins from the body as well.

Often depression sneaks in slowly, as breathing patterns change from too much sitting at a desk, stress, age, or illness. The deep, invigorating breath techniques of Yoga bring large amounts of fresh oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body. Like a spring wind, it blows through the system bringing new light and strength to the unused parts of the body and mind where depression hides.

Complete relaxation and meditation practice show you how to access the strength and power of your inner self for a support system that keeps you going through all the ups and downs of your life. Meditation and yoga poses can help you attack the root cause of depression - the feeling that you can't handle the demands of your life. It tones the nervous system, stimulates circulation, promotes concentration, and energizes your mind and body.

Practice a daily yoga routine that includes 30 minutes of meditation and at least 20 minutes of poses. Yoga stretching exercises help improve blood circulation making it easier to break through the lethargy that often accompanies depression.

Amy Weintraub, author of the bestseller, “Yoga for Depression” also suffered from depression for years. “Yogis have always believed that depression is that separation from our source. Yoga, including postures, breathing exercises and meditation is the science of positive mental health. Practice Yoga regularly and it will strip away the obstacles that separate you from your source. You will begin to recognize your wholeness. Practice Yoga every day and it will change your life. It changed my life and the lives of many of my students.”

Ms. Weintraub, makes it clear she doesn't recommend yoga as a substitute for conventional medical treatment for depression." Yoga is not instead of psychotherapy or medication," she said. "It's in addition."

ABC of

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Prayer for Depression

Dear God,
I feel such pain, anxiety and depression.
I know this is not Your will for me, and yet my mind is held in chains by fear and paranoia.
I surrender my life, right now to You.
Take the entire mess, all of it, now too complicated to explain to anyone but known by You in each detail.
Do what I cannot do.
Lift me up.
Give me a new chance.
Show me a new light.
Make me a new person.
Dear God,
This depression frightens me.
Dear God,
Please bring me peace.
Marianne Williamson from "Illuminata"

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I inadvertently went off anti-depressants a couple of years ago. I was in between health insurances – waiting for the new one to kick in– when I started tapering my meds to make them last. Soon I realized that I wasn't having the usual effects I experience when I don’t take the meds as prescribed – the electric zaps one can feel in their head. Even though I had an appointment to see my shrink and get a new prescription, I didn't keep it. I decided that I was going off of the Zoloft and Wellbutrin I was on.

I had been off and on meds since the late 1980’s. First Prozac - which was popular in the late 80’s – then Celexa, Effexor, Zoloft and Wellbutrin - each at different times. Finding the right medication is akin to finding the right therapist. It takes time, patience, and tenacity. It was the beginning of a new year and a new job for me - so it seemed appropriate.
I also decided to clean out the toxins from the meds by drinking Aloe Vera juice; which I believe, also assisted in helping me lose weight. I started eating healthier; stopped drinking soda, ate more veggies and fruits, cut my juices with mineral water, and cut way back on sugar and starches.
I put on my Walkman and walked for an hour every night. The bloat and weight from the years of medication and overeating started to melt away. My cholesterol numbers dropped down to normal and so did my blood pressure. I started looking like the old Carmen again.
But, I also started feeling emotions that had been buried deep underneath the medications that kept me aloft, stable, and emotionless. I experienced joy and sadness. I could cry over any little thing; which was welcome since the meds seemed to dry up my emotions and tears.
But, about six months into my newness, I started feeling anxious. I woke up with my stomach in knots and nausea. Doom and gloom plagued my thoughts of the present and future. What the hell was this? It was anxiety! The depression had dissipated, but now I was dealing with anxiety, I had forgotten that I was also taking medication for. But, I was determined to do it naturally.
I have always been a proponent of using herbal remedies, having read the Bible of herbology “Back to Eden” some forty years ago. Twenty years ago, I wasn't so sure that herbal remedies would have helped me, when I started on Prozac. There are tinctures, teas, tablets, and capsules filled with singular or combinations of herbs to help depression and anxiety. Certain vitamins can lesson stress and anxiety.
Exercise, yoga, meditation also can alleviate the stressors that contribute to depression, and can boost that much needed serotonin –the feel good hormone that contributes to emotional well being. Two years later, I’m still Prozac free. And I’m doing it naturally. I will discuss what I’m doing in the next few blogs.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Bare Facts

According to Psychology Information Online:
Depressive disorders come in different forms. There are several different diagnoses for depression, mostly determined by the intensity of the symptoms, the duration of the symptoms, and the specific cause of the symptoms, if that is known.
Major Depression - This is the most serious type of depression, in terms of number of symptoms and severity of symptoms, but there are significant individual differences in the symptoms and severity. You do not need to feel suicidal to have a major depression, and you do not need to have a history of hospitalizations either, although both of these factors are present in some people with major depression. There is no official diagnosis of "moderate depression."
Dysthymic Disorder - This refers to a low to moderate level of depression that persists for at least two years, and often longer. While the symptoms are not as severe as a major depression, they are more enduring and resistant to treatment. Some people with dysthymia develop a major depression at some time during the course of their depression.
Unspecified Depression - This category is used to help researchers who are studying other specific types of depression, and do not want their data confounded with marginal diagnoses. It includes people with a serious depression, but not quite severe enough to have a diagnosis of a major depression. It also includes people with chronic, moderate depression, which has not been present long enough for a diagnosis of a Dysthymic disorder. (You get the idea!)
Adjustment Disorder, with Depression - This category describes depression that occurs in response to a major life stressor or crisis.
Bipolar Depression - This type includes both high and low mood swings, as well as a variety of other significant symptoms not present in other depressions.
Psychological treatment of depression (psychotherapy) assists the depressed individual in several ways.
First, supportive counseling helps ease the pain of depression, and addresses the feelings of hopelessness that accompany depression.
Second, cognitive therapy changes the pessimistic ideas, unrealistic expectations, and overly critical self-evaluations that create depression and sustain it. Cognitive therapy helps the depressed person recognize which life problems are critical, and which are minor. It also helps him/her to develop positive life goals, and a more positive self-assessment.
Third, problem solving therapy changes the areas of the person's life that are creating significant stress, and contributing to the depression. This may require behavioral therapy to develop better coping skills, or interpersonal therapy, to assist in solving relationship problems.
Unfortunately, many poorly trained counselors never move beyond providing supportive counseling. This alone will not eliminate the depression. As a result, the depression, and the therapy, continues indefinitely, with little improvement. Supportive counseling "feels" helpful, and as part of the overall treatment plan does help.
But, unless the depressed person makes critical life changes, the depression will continue. These changes are both internal and external. Internal changes are usually needed in problem assessment, self-evaluation, the evaluation of others, and the expectations the depressed person has for himself/herself, others and about life. External changes may be needed in problem solving skills, stress management, communication skills, life management skills, and the skills needed to develop and sustain relationships.
The length of treatment will vary, according to the severity of the depression, and the number and kind of life problems that need to be addressed. Most people will begin to experience some relief with 6 to 10 sessions, and approximately 70-80% of those treated notice significant improvement within 20-30 sessions.
Mild depression may be treated in less sessions, and more significant depression may require extended treatment. Treatment sessions are usually scheduled once per week, although they may be scheduled more frequently initially, or if the person is experiencing significant life crises.
Except in the more severe depressions, and bipolar depression, medication is usually an option, rather than a necessity. Antidepressant medication does not cure depression, it only helps you to feel better by controlling certain symptoms. If you are depressed because of life problems, such as relationship conflicts, divorce, loss of a loved one, job pressures, financial crises, serious medical problems in yourself or a family member, legal problems, or problems with your children, taking a pill will not make those problems go away.
However, some symptoms of depression, such as sleep and appetite disturbances, significant concentration problems, and chronic fatigue, interfere with your ability to make the life changes necessary to eliminate the depression. In more serious depression, suicidal thoughts and urges, and preoccupation with death, may require medication in addition to psychotherapy.
Antidepressant medication can help relieve those symptoms, and allow you to make needed life changes. The decision to take medication, in addition to participating in psychological treatment, should be discussed with your treating psychologist and your primary care physician.
Your thoughts and feelings regarding medication, after considering information about both the benefits and risks involved, are an important part of a collaborative treatment approach between psychologist and client. If medication is part of your treatment, either your primary care physician or a psychiatrist will supervise the medical part of your treatment, while you continue psychotherapy with a psychologist.
If you have a chronic medical condition or a serious illness, and you are taking medication for that condition, then the medical specialist treating that problem should be involved in your treatment. The medical specialist may supervise all of your medications, or coordinate the medical treatment with the physician providing the antidepressant medications.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I have to force myself to write this blog. It's hard to write about it, even though I have suffered from depression for years. I know the stigma and shame of being female, black, and blue. I admit I’m afraid of being judged, vilified, or laughed at. We as black people often look askance at each other if one brings up the subject. But, most often we don’t talk about it. Like many of the issues we don’t talk about in our community; homosexuality, AIDS, incest or sexual abuse – we choose to ignore it or vilify the victim instead.
I didn’t talk to my mother about my depression. I didn’t talk to her about a lot of things that a mother and daughter should talk about. We didn’t have that kind of relationship. I didn’t talk about it with either of my grandmother’s – both of whom I was closer to than my own mother. From my mother’s mother – I learned how cook – mouth watering greens - picking fresh dandelions from the yard to add to the pot; fried fish seasoned like they do down in New Orleans, and succulent, tender baked chicken, and cornbread. I also learned a lot about men from her. “Don’t let a man know too soon that you’re interested in him. Let him tell you first,” she would tell me, while we worked in her small hot kitchen that smelled of hot cross buns, sweet potato, strawberry rhubarb, and lemon meringue pies and pound cakes. But, I never discussed with her the overwhelming sadness and depression that had begin to plague me in my teen years.
Nor did I discuss my sadness with my father’s mother who was a Pentecostal minister. I grew up saying morning and evening prayers with her on our knees side by side. I knew she would start quoting scriptures and tell me to pray about it instead. But, I needed someone to talk to me about the feelings I was having. I wasn’t ready to take it to the Lord yet.
And I never talked about it with my Aunt Nadine to whom I was also close. Even when we sat and watched tv together. Or the times I would come in from work and go straight to bed and she would check on me to see if I was alright -I never said anything. I guess because no one in my family ever talked about being depressed or blue, not to me anyway. I felt like I was the only one who had this monkey on my back. If there was someone with depression – I never heard about it. I was considered the black sheep of the family, so maybe that’s why I didn’t talk about it.

According to the myths and stigma that surround depression create needless pain and confusion, and can keep people from getting proper treatment. The following statements reflect some common misconceptions about African Americans and depression:
“Why are you depressed?
If our people could make it through slavery, we can make it through anything.”
“When a black woman suffers from a mental disorder, the opinion is that she is weak. And weakness in black women is intolerable.”
“You should take your troubles to Jesus, not some stranger/psychiatrist.”
Shauna Curphey, a WeNews correspondent wrote in an article about depression and black women - In California, African American women have the shortest life expectancy among women of all racial and ethnic groups in the state. They also have the highest mortality rate for heart disease and stroke and the highest prevalence of high blood pressure and obesity. Recent research indicates that mental health plays a role in these health disparities in California--and across the nation. But while many black women know and discuss the threats to their physical health, when it comes to mental health, there's silence and inaction.
Latonya Slack, executive director of the California Black Women's Health Project, an Inglewood, Calif., community-health organization, says "There's a fear of putting our business in the street . . . of somehow revealing too much.”
Lorraine Cole, president of the Black Women's Health Imperative, the Washington, D.C.-based parent organization of the California Black Women's Health Project, agrees. "There's a deep-seated feeling that seeking professional help is a sign of weakness," she said.
Slack and Cole, both African American women, have lead efforts to address the physical, mental and spiritual health needs of black women. Both have commissioned studies that revealed many black women are struggling with mental health issues but are not seeking professional help. They and others see improving black women's access to mental health treatment as a crucial element to addressing the serious, but often manageable, illnesses plaguing their physical health.
One study found that the proportion of African Americans who feared mental-health treatment was more than twice that of whites, according to the surgeon general's report. Part of the fear stems from wariness of the medical establishment that arises from past abuses, said Slack, such as the Tuskegee experiment. (In 1932, the federal government sponsored a study to examine the impact of untreated syphilis involving black men. The experiment went on until 1972 without the test subjects' knowledge and most of the subjects died without receiving treatment.)
As a result of the distrust engendered by the now-infamous experiment and the stigma associated with seeking help, many black women rely on spiritual leaders and community members to handle personal problems. There's also an added pressure from the ethic of the strong black woman, a cultural value that promotes toughness and self-sacrifice. "There are so many women who are not diagnosed or are under-diagnosed who are just existing on a thread," Slack concluded. " . . . They think 'My mother suffered. My grandmother suffered. It's just the lot of black women in America. It doesn't have to be that way."

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Prayer for 2008

From Marianne Williamson's "Illuminata

Dear God,

May I be pregnant with the expression of a new being:
someone more magnificent than I have ever been.
More powerful than I have ever been;
Healthier than I have ever been;
More alive than I have ever been;
More at cause than I have ever been;
More tender than I have ever been;
More compassionate and merciful than I have ever been; More tolerant, less judgmental than I have ever been;
More at one with myself and all others;
More close to You, dear Lord, than I have ever been.



Resolutions for the New Year 2008
1. Probably the number one resolution in the country - Lose weight. For me - lose some more weight. I have lost some, but not enough.
2. Practice my yoga and meditation on a more consistent basis - like everyday.
3. Write everyday! I'm not just talking about my blog. I'm talking about the memoir I need to finish or the novel I started or the lyrics I want to write. I just need to get into the habit of writing something everyday.
4. Spend more time with nature. Whether it's taking long weekend walks through Central Park or getting away for a weekend retreat at a yoga center in the country.
5. Save money.
6. Volunteer my time somewhere.
7. Just be good to myself.

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