December 21, 2005
Holiday Thrivers, Boost Your Immune System!
Used to be, the main ingredient for starting my day was coffee. I still drink a cup in the morning, but now I am much more focused on healthy eats. Instead of grabbing a quick donut with my java, I now sit down with a bowl of something like hot cereal or yogurt and granola with fruit added. Another important ingredient I've found is protein. This helps me avoid the carb and/or sugar crash that used to lead me to reach for that second cup of coffee...and the third, and so on. An easy way I've found to add some protein is to throw some pecans or walnuts on top of my cereal.
Vitamin and mineral supplements have also become important to my morning. Of course, I can't replace the personal recommendation you'll get when you consult with your doctor. But, for me personally, I feel my immunity is enhanced by taking vitamins. During the cold and flu season, I take vitamin C regularly. I start taking zinc when I feel a cold coming on.
In addition, I've done some research on antioxidants and other immune boosters. This became necessary for me when I was doing a lot of trauma processing and "body memory" work with my therapist. At that time, I got great relief from troubling PTSD symptoms, but noticed I was getting sick all the time with colds and the flu. I've always liked vitamin E. It really seems to save my dry skin during the winter months. Now, I always remember to take it for its antioxidant properties as well. Read about them at The National Institute of Health: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamine.asp. I've also added vitamin A and selenium which you can read about here: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamina.asp and here: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/selenium.asp.
I've saved the best for last. My favorite supplement is Omega-3 fatty acids. A lot of research is going into these fish oils lately. The EPA fatty acids have started to be linked with a reduction in depression. Yes, you heard me! The research is showing that this fish oil is helping relieve depression! Now, again, I am no doctor. I would never try to tell a survivor to go off her anti-depressant medication. You'll need to discuss this with your doctor. But, for me, Omega-3 supplements are working wonders. I've been off antidepressants for about two years now--only supplementing with Omega-3--and I have had no major depression relapses. I even got through the death of my dog with healthy grieving instead of depression.
My personal favorite product is called "ProEPA" and is made by Nordic Naturals: www.nordicnaturals.com. I like their product because it is less fishy tasting, with lemon added. Some of the other products I tried gave me terrible "fishy" acid indigestion. I also like Nordic Naturals because they appear to be environmentally responsible--only taking fish from areas that are not overfished. I like that. I take two of their gel capsules in the morning with my breakfast and lots of water. I try to avoid taking my supplements during the time I am drinking my morning cup of coffee.
I wish you peace, health and happiness this holiday season. I know how stressful the holidays can be, even for non-survivors. Please take care of yourself and try not to get too caught up in holiday expectations and family obligations. If you are to thrive, you must think of your own needs and remember to apply a little self-care--give yourself a little gift of love!
Copyright 2005 by Marj McCabe. All Rights Reserved.
December 06, 2005
Grieving and Thriving
You see, last week I had to put my beloved old dog down. It was a difficult and emotional decision for me. I had a wonderful chocolate lab named Trusty. He was a loyal companion for over 14 years. He lived a long and happy life. I felt more than a twinge of guilt at the end because Trusty could still work up a smile on his muzzle and wag his tail. For weeks, I kept wondering if I was making the right decision.
Trusty tried to make the choice easier for me. During the last weeks of his life, he decided he wasn't interested in food. A dog who had always been a vigorous eater decided to leave the food bowl full. He wouldn't eat unless I fed him by hand.
As the late autumn nights grew colder, Trusty also decided not to come in to the warmth of the house or his insulated doghouse. The last few times my dog was indoors, he had to be dragged in from outside. Now that it has turned quite snowy, blowing and cold, I'm glad we both made the decision to end his earthly life.
But, it was hard on me. I cried until my eyes were swollen and my head ached. I still look out the window and expect to see my cherished brown beast in the yard. It's hard to believe that I stroked his velvety-soft ears for the last time as he was given a lethal injection.
Yet, this has been a telling experience as well. It's almost been like a test of my resolve to thrive in spite of everything. Instead of avoiding, I am involved. I was with Trusty at home as he passed. I held him and stroked his fur until I could tell he was no longer with me. Instead of turning things inward, getting depressed, feeling bad about myself or dissociating, I have been present with my grief. I think Trusty would want me to be this way--continuing on and truly living, instead of zoning out and not really being here.
Trusty Dog was a great help during some of the most frightening and lonely times of my recovery. He offered his big, beastly self for protection and his warm, soft fur for petting. I could always sense Trusty's unconditional love in his amber eyes, wagging tail and warm, soft licks. I will be strong now, as he was strong for me then. I will go on...and so will Trusty. He will always live on in my heart and my memory. He'll be my beloved dog and friend forever.
Copyright 2005 by Marj McCabe. All Rights Reserved.