SUPYO: Paddle Board Yoga

I am an avid yoga fan and so when my regular yoga studio offered a sunset yoga class on Lake Michigan I jumped at the chance. Despite its popularity lately I had yet to do a paddle board yoga session, in fact I had never been on a paddle board before.

A few days ago I made my way down to one of the city beaches in Chicago so I could attempt to practice yoga while floating on the water. I was pretty nervous that I would:

  1. Not be able to do anything
  2. Fall off my board, causing a huge scene
  3. Have a panic attack and have to return to shore mid class

Basically, I was terrified of making a complete fool of myself….

Things started off well; the usual introduction for newbies, followed by getting all set up with all the proper gear we would need while out on the water. Once on the board I realized that it was going to take a lot of core strength to keep me from returning soaking wet. Working through some initial wobbling I was able to stand up and paddle successfully. The yoga part of the class was a little frustrating because I wasn’t able to do the poses as well as I can in regular class, but I suppose there in lies the challenge. After running through a variety of poses we got to my favorite part of the class, stretching.

I have to say despite the life-jacket being out on the water while practicing yoga, especially savasana is a truly great experience. Floating on the peaceful water, staring up at the blue sky, and temporarily forgetting the world.

Our teacher said something to our class that has stuck with me because it is such a great outlook on life.

“Just like floating on the water, in life there are going to be things that we have no control over and so we have to just relax and go with the flow. If you tense up and try to fight the flow of the water you will fall off your board and in life if you continue to fights the things you can’t control it will beat you down.”

I will for sure be trying SUPYO again.

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Daily Annoyances….

Not sure why, but lately it seems like my bullshit allotment is a little lower these days. Normally I think I am pretty easy to get along with, am laid back, and tend to just go with the flow. I definitely have my OCD and anxiety moments, but in general I would classify myself as pretty low maintenance.That being said a few of my neighbors recently are about to drive me bat shit crazy. Are people seriously that oblivious to others around them? It amazing me how inconsiderate people can be at times.

Case and point:

Annoying neighbor number one. Let’s just call him stoned because I am pretty sure that he always is. Personally weed isn’t for me, I have enough freak outs from my anxiety that I don’t need to go make myself all paranoid. However, if you want to smoke go right ahead, but please don’t hot box my apartment. It’s not particularly fun waking up and heading off to work with a contact high. This guy smokes so much that I can smell it all the way in my place on the third floor (he’s on the first). If i can smell it that well he must be freaking wasted.

Annoying neighbor number two. These are the ones that I refer to as the noisy neighbors. The live in the building directly next to mine and they have two small dogs that love to bark. Normally I would ignore this yelping, except for the fact that said neighbors tend to think its perfectly acceptable to leave the dogs outside for long periods of time waking me up throughout the night. I’m talking 1 am, 3 am, 4 am, all ungodly hours. It’s infuriating and completely ridiculous.

I suppose things could be worse, but I don’t understand why it is so hard for people to use their brains. Especially when I am trying to get some much needed sleep!! Hope everyone had a great weekend and has a good week.

RIP Robin

With the death of Robin Williams I thought I would share a press release I wrote today about his battle with addiction and depression and how important it is for those who are struggling with mental health issues to get the help they need in order to prevent tragedies such as this one.

Robin Williams’s Apparent Suicide and its Relation to Depression & Addiction

Our hearts go out to one of the great comedians of the era

Aug. 12 – Yesterday, Robin Williams passed away of an apparent suicide. As we remember the many amazing ways in which he enriched media and culture with his comedy and acting, we should also take a look at what drove Robin’s actions to his untimely death.

Robin identified as an alcoholic early in life, all the way back to his days in his hometown. As he gained celebrity status, he also came to battle with cocaine addiction. His drug and alcohol abuse ran rampant until the death of John Belushi – also from drug addiction – in 1982, after which Robin said he remained sober for 20 years. In 2006, Robin entered rehab for drinking, and sought treatment again as recently as June of this year. Questions that come to mind to all of us:

Why did this happen, especially to someone who seems to have had everything? Alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as mood issues such as depression have genetic, physical, and environmental triggers. There is no one single cause. A core precept of alcohol recovery is that alcoholism is a disease; you are always in recovery, never cured.

Did no one see the kind of place Robin was in? He did go into treatment multiple times. This highlights the importance not only of communicating regularly and deeply with our loved ones, but being able to identify signs and symptoms that indicate the need for care. Related to this, it is critical to have a full continuum of care: from 24 / 7 help in inpatient or residential treatment environments for crises and acute situations and aftercare programs that offer ongoing support and maintain recovery.

How did the addiction and depression issues interrelate? There is concept in mental health treatment of “co-occurring disorders”. A person can have depression or anxiety issues from a young age, or develop them later in life as a result of a traumatic event. Some men and women then turn to drug abuse as a coping mechanism. That is why modern treatment focuses on addressing all elements of a person’s mental health, to get at the root of the original issues. Treating only the addiction without the mental health component leads to higher rates of relapse. Robin himself, in a 2009 interview, said he had previously failed to confront the core issues at the root of his addictions, contributing to his own return to rehab.

All mental health and addiction treatment programs offer free, confidential screenings that you should take advantage of if you feel even the slightest need, and will help you find the most appropriate care for yourself or your loved one. Inpatient programs also offer immediate services for those battling with suicidal ideations.

Our hearts go out to Robin’s family. This is a reminder to all of us to remember to communicate with our loved ones regularly, and seek professional care and support when it may be needed.

On a Serious Note: Blood Test for Suicide Risk?

Since it has been a little while since I have done a mental health post, I thought I would bring up a topic that has been receiving some media attention lately. Blood test that will be able to determine an individuals risk for suicide. Yep, you heard me right a Blood Test!

So here’s the deal:

There was a recent study done, which compared brain tissue samples from people who have died by suicide to those who have died from other causes. This test has identified a genetic mutation in the SKA2 gene, found to be common among those who died by suicide. Additionally, a chemical change, called an epigenetic change, was found on the same gene that was more common among people who committed suicide than those who died of other causes. Further research confirmed that these genetic changes correctly identified 80 percent to 96 percent of people who experienced suicidal thoughts or made suicide attempts. If these findings are confirmed, then it could lead to a test specifically designed to look for suicide risk.

The idea here is that with the possible development of this blood test it may be used to screen people in psychiatric emergency rooms or determine how closely an individual need to be monitored for suicide risk.

However, while this new approach sounds promising, it has me wondering if the test is going to add more value in being able to medically identify the risk of suicide versus using traditional mental health evaluations. I could be totally off here, but I have a few concerns.

Is this test really a good idea when dealing with an issue as serious as suicide? What if this test in unable to accurately predict everyone who is having thoughts of suicide? Will it prevent individuals from seeking therapeutic methods that are needed to address the underlying cause for suicidal thoughts and behaviors? Could it cause unnecessary worry and anxiety?

One concern I thought of is that, instead of seeking appropriate mental health interventions, individuals will go for the quickest fix and opt for medication. While medication is effective at reducing symptoms of mental health disorders that can lead to the development of suicidal ideation and behaviors, it does not fix the problem in the long run. Without taking the time to get at the underlying cause for why an individual has begun having suicidal thoughts, or has made suicide attempts, then an individual is not going to fully recover. This can lead to the return of suicidal thoughts further down the road.

Another concern that came to mind is whether or not the test can accurately predict the chance that an individual is going to be at an increased risk for suicide. To my knowledge this current study does not take into consideration if those individuals who died by suicide were born with this genetic mutation or if it developed as the result of something that happened in their life, such as exposure to trauma or substance use. This is an important factor because it would determine if this test only needs to be given once or if it needs to be periodically administered throughout a person’s life.

Finally, having the option to take this test can cause high amounts of stress in individuals who would otherwise have no reason to believe that the risk even exists. Additionally, testing positive for an increased risk of suicide does not mean that a suicide attempt is inevitable.

Like I said before I could be wrong, but it’s something to think about. Anyone else have any concerns or even positive things to say about this potential blood test?