Do you think that you are suffering from the side effects of antidepressants?
Before my “benzo days” ( you will know what that means shortly if you don’t already) I was convinced the only way to stay on the fast track treadmill to success was to stay focused, stay numb, to stress and just push forward. You see I lived under duress; it’s the mental training, the pre-conditioning of a “successful” commodity trader, so I was told. At the tender age of 23 I was put into an environment that exuded stress. In fact, after you are in that sweat box, you actually can’t survive without it, it’s who you become. Red Lights going off, phones constantly wringing, and 30 alpha male guys shouting from 8 am to 5 pm. My mental state looking back was almost always in a state of heightened mental anxiety. But when you are young, full of life and vigor your senses tend to just mask over the anxious feelings you are burying. You don’t allow yourself to get caught up in that little twitch you get from overwork, that brief but impactful first brain fog moment or that first time your once exuberant step onto the floor out of bed is no longer effortless. Our body repair mechanisms truly are amazing, and just like a change of season from the cold of February to the light, now hawkish but somehow bearable new air of April, we tend to forget just what we’ve blown through and masked over.
Stress is a funny thing. In the gym we are told to stress our heart so we can decrease the time frame from induced stress to timed relaxation. We are trying to make sure we are consistently using the most underused muscle in our body, but I don’t think anyone would argue the most important muscle of our body. We use stress through weight training, aerobic, anaerobic and cardio workouts to make sure we are taxing our heart. But why then are we not taught or sensationalized in the same way with our mind? Is our mind not as important as the vessel that pumps blood every second to our noodle? The health industry with respect to new gym openings, next greatest whey protein powder, weight loss gimmicks and body makeover is a multi-billion dollar industry. I have a question. When is the last time you witnessed a commercial advertising to exercise your brain and mental chemistry? Is there a roadmap to alleviate mental stress in a cohesive manner congruent your body own internal chemistry at the center of the map? Yah, I can already hear the “I’m so right”-ers, “But what about Lumosity?” OK, there is one but do you really believe Birds Eye Watching or Word Bubbles is the secret to lasting mental health?
I will never forget the first trip on the little push cart made for human body. I was well beyond my stressful trading days and just shy of age 40. I thought I had it all figured out then. You know, a good job, good pay, and the classic 9 to 5-er. Except that I was dealing with the IRS and their Field Agents coming to my home to look at my financial statements and collect money. I also had a great deal of debt racked up from the mistakes of my youth.
It was October 7, 2006, my birthday of all days. And like most Fridays, a special one indeed as I took the day off to celebrate a classic “me” day. I had a great morning workout (like always), was sitting in a classic Ma and Pa cafe just mouth watering for my eggs and sausage to arrive while reading the morning paper. All of the sudden, my hands began to sweat, my vision was blurred, my heart started to pound like it was going to burst out of my chest and I thought for sure I was going to pass out right in that booth in that restaurant. I never did black out but I can tell you there was a moment that I have no recollection to this day from when my mind went blank and my vitals went limp until those big, burly meat wagon guys are strapping me, poking needles and hooking me up to oxygen. In those disoriented moments of your life, whether you know it or not, your life as you know it has changed. You simply cannot go through physical manifestations like that for the first time and be status quo again. There is a simple truth that I live by and it’s certainly true in the health and healing education. Good health is kind of like insurance. We really don’t think about it much until we need it. I spent four hours in the hospital. A battery of tests were done, mostly to pad the pockets of the health machine (much more to come on that subject), and I can tell you there wasn’t one second that I was sitting on those cold and white stiff sheets on that bed, that I wasn’t asking, why me? Is this the beginning of a life of heart problems? I am getting older, so what do I do now? Is it just a natural progression of life?
The phrase we live by “if we don’t know, Google it,” is our standard of operating procedure, no doubt. It’s our lazy mechanism for a quick answer to complicated questions. It’s the best and worst tool for our minds. Of course, after my release from the hospital and knowing I had just had that “ah ha” moment, I must begin to go down a new path. I began to research everything I could on key words and topics to help heal my newly labeled “anxiety attack” brought on by suppressed depression. They can really scare an uneducated person, right? Uneducated is acceptable and can be reversed. Ignorance and oblivion is no way to go through life. I was absolutely determined to find that answer to help me and to fix the problem. I was not going back to the hospital again from an episode like that.
Now, I am not going to bore you with everything about my “pre-benzo” life, but what I will tell you is that there is nothing, and I mean absolutely NOTHING that can scare a person more than thinking you are going to die, especially when the physical manifestations are making your mind say the words to yourself, “I am going to die!”
If you haven’t guessed by now, a benzo is a prescribed mental depression drug in the class of benzodiazepine. Now, just so you know that I am not making this up, I am going to copy and paste right out of Wikipedia.
A psychoactive drug, psychopharmaceutical, or psychotropic is a chemical substance that crosses the blood–brain barrier and acts primarily upon the central nervous system where it affects brain function, resulting in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior.
Now, on the surface, if you are post hospital, fresh off your first anxiety attack and finding this on Google, this must seem like you’ve found your quick fix right? Don’t we live our life to this standard? Quick fixes will certainly bring us back to a normal life right? After all, if my family doctor or mental health psychiatrist has prescribed them for my label of depression and or bipolar, it must be a good thing?
I was put on Effexor and Klonopin back in 2006, two very much marketed and sensationalized BENZO’s at the time. You know the compelling video (with targeted mood music) showing the guy staring off into space, sweating and his hand on his head with this life perplexed look. The next frame is that classic little round pill bottle and the ease of focus, concentration and euphoria you will feel when you are at Disney Land with your family. All from taking this little Benzo feel good mini pill.
Soon thereafter, and I mean soon, all the side effects creep up on you like that ever increasing monthly credit card bill you see when you have the mindset of “It’s only one more charge.” Yes, there is no denying, I felt the euphoria at first. I could finally sit in an airport and not feel like I was going to jump out of my skin. I could finally eat at the dinner table with my 10 year old son and 5 year old daughter and actually listen to them without feeling like my head was going to pop off my shoulders. I knew when I was traveling away from the mundane of my routine and would not doubt get “those feelings” I had my little mini helpers with me to ease the jolt. The occasional anxious feeling was now being replaced by night sweats, uncontrollable convulsions that felt like a freight train in my melon and thoughts unthinkable of suicide when the demons would come. And, Oh My God, did they come!
Remember when I said the world in some respects has gone mad? Well, they have. And there is an old saying in business that is perfectly applicable to the health industry. “If you can’t measure, you can’t manage.”
Just stop for a minute and take inventory of what is actually around us on a day to day basis. What do we see, hear, touch, taste and feel. Our senses are our most viable predictor of our behavior.
Our focal points in socioeconomic terms tend to be what I term, gadget focused and not passion focused. Ever bought a bigger TV, you know that high Def Plasma Big screen? I know you know what an “App” is and it’s no longer the Happy Hour Appetizer at Apple bees. Ever bought a bra for the bumper of your car or subscribed to Hulu.com? OK, you get the point.
Even in terms of what we label the next best technology, it’s more about what we do to enhance our gadgets or simply make them bigger or more powerful.
Everyone gets stressed, it’s part of life, our bodies get taxed and our minds go astray. But my biggest question to every red blooded, loving, caring but vastly benumbed human being who has ever taken, thought about taking, or is looking to take a mental health drug, “Why on God’s green earth could we ever think we can fix a problem in the body with a chemically engineered and synthetic drug made in a laboratory?”
Now, I am not here to stand on my judgmental or hypocritical soap box. I was on these drugs. I have felt every imaginable pain and mental gyration one can have from these brain altering and dangerous little mental foggers. What I am simply saying is that I and my colleagues of industry professionals have taken the reigns when it comes to education for the masses that is based upon science and truth about your body and the functions within it. This madness has got to stop. Remember, when I said you can’t make excuses for previous un-education, but there truly is not an excuse for not opening your mind when it comes to your number one jewel, your health!
Take the first step and click here to read more….
By Scott A. Lifer, Co-Founder
Copyright, 2013. All Rights Reserved.