Article by Steve Johnson
Edit and Post Design by Christy Zigweid
Photo by skeeze via Pixabay made using @WordSwagApp
We all know the importance of physical exercise. It has the power to heal the body, clear the mind, and keep our waistlines in check. While regular exercise should be a top priority for everyone, it’s especially important for people with disabilities to stick to a moderate exercise regimen. Here are a few tips to help you ensure getting plenty of exercise stays a part of your daily routine.
Create a Plan and Set Your Goals
Think about what kind of exercise would work for you, what kind of results you want, and your overall goals for your physical health. Consider whether you want to work out at home or whether group exercise will be more motivating for you. Write it all down and use it to help create your exercise plan.
There are plenty of resources online for people with disabilities looking to create an active lifestyle. There’s also adapted versions of popular exercise activities that may be more suitable for people with limited physical ability, like chair yoga, aquatic exercise, and adaptive Alpine skiing.
Remember, your exercise plan doesn’t need to be intense or complicated–as long as you commit to doing it regularly you’ll see benefits.
Consider Alternative Therapies
Many alternative therapies will help you heal while also getting exercise. For example, aquatic therapy has been shown to improve muscle strength, flexibility, and balance while helping to decrease pain. Another option is to get a therapy dog. Therapy dogs can help reduce symptoms of depression and PTSD while encouraging physical exercise through dog walks and play.
Work with Professionals
If you’d like some help creating or implementing your exercise plan, consider getting advice and encouragement from a health care professional like a doctor or physical therapist. There are also personal trainers who specialize in fitness for people disabilities.
All 3 types of professionals should be able to help you figure out what you’re capable of and what activities you’ll enjoy. Keep in mind that–depending on your disability–you might need to seek clearance from your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.
Photo by Andrew Malone via Flickr
Listen to Your Body
Whether you work with others or go it alone, always remember to listen to your body. Tune in to any physical sensations you have during exercise and know when to take a break.
Remember–you should feel like you are putting your body to work, but you shouldn’t be feeling pain. If you find yourself in pain during exercise, stop immediately and consult with your doctor before continuing. If you’re experiencing chronic pain, it may be more rest that you need rather than more intense activity. Work with your physician to find the right balance.
Sticking to an exercise routine can have its ups and downs, but once you start, the physical and mental health benefits you see will make it well worth it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve Johnson has always been dedicated to promoting health and wellness in all aspects of life. Studying in the medical field has shown him how important it is for reputable health-related facts, figures, tips, and other guidance to be readily available to the public. He created PublicHealthLibrary.org with a fellow student to act as a resource for people’s overall health inquiries and as an accurate and extensive source of health information. When he isn’t hard at work in his studies, Steve enjoys playing tennis and listening to his vintage record collection.
Addiction is categorized as a mental illness, even if it’s not always seen that way. Those addicted to drugs or alcohol are twice as likely to have an additional mental illness. Unfortunately, these two illnesses can send a person down the path to self-destruction.
A good friend of mine committed suicide after years of struggling with alcoholism. It wasn’t until he found himself in a substance abuse program that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It makes one wonder if things may have turned out differently had he been diagnosed earlier.
Since my friend’s death, I’ve been taking a closer look at the connections between addiction and other mental illnesses. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (aka PTSD) is an illness which often walks hand-in-hand with addiction. PTSD is most commonly suffered by veterans and victims of abuse. The disorder causes a number of disruptive symptoms including flashbacks, insomnia, and depression. With the modern stigma against mental illness, some sufferers of PTSD go untreated. Without proper treatment, PTSD symptoms grow worse, leading those with the disorder to self-medicate. Self-medication is most often done with alcohol but also can be done with a variety of drugs. Below, we highlight a few of the dangers of self-medication and the reasons those suffering from addiction should get help.
Self-Medication Leads to Addiction
When a person self-medicates with drugs or alcohol to feel better, he becomes increasingly more likely to continue the behavior in order to feel normal.
Not only does self-medication lead the person to feel he needs the substance to go about his life, but it also creates a physical dependence on the substance. Addiction is the last thing a person struggling with mental illness needs.
Substance Abuse Increases the Risk of Suicide
Those who abuse a substance are six times more likely to attempt suicide.
This alarming statistic does not include the added risk for suicide experienced by PTSD sufferers. It also fails to incorporate the risk of accidental suicide via overdose. As the individual increases his tolerance to his substance of choice, he will begin to take more and more, and continue to slide down the slippery slope to unintentional overdose.
Self-Medication Damages Relationships
Any person who has struggled with addiction can attest to the strain the addiction placed on his relationships.
A person with PTSD may unintentionally prioritize his substance abuse above his loved ones.
The combination of social anxiety that often comes with PTSD, lack of proper treatment, and substance abuse is bound to batter one’s family ties. It is critical for people with PTSD, even those who already are self-medicating, to seek help immediately. Recovery is the only way to repair any damage to relationships.
Substance Abuse Makes Symptoms Worse
When left untreated, PTSD symptoms grow worse with time.
When the effects of drug and alcohol wear off, the original symptoms of PTSD are aggravated, leading a person to abuse substances even further. While self-medication may seem to help in the short term, it is wreaking havoc in the long term. The only real way to combat symptoms of PTSD is to seek help from a trained professional.
Treatment for PTSD does not have to be embarrassing or uncomfortable. There are many forms of therapy available to help you recover and cope in the way you want. PTSD service dogs also are available to make daily life more bearable. Whatever form of therapy you choose, it is critical that you find and undergo professional treatment. Self-medication may seem to work in the moment but in actuality, you are damaging your chances of living a normal life in the long run. Get help, seek support, and avoid addictive substances.
About the Author
Adam Cook has a strong understanding of the devastation that can be caused by addiction. He recently lost a close friend to an addiction-related suicide. In an effort to better educate himself and to help others, he created AddictionHub.org, a site that provides addiction and mental health resources. When he isn’t working or adding to his website, he’s prepping for his first triathlon.
After being drugged and raped by serial rapist Jeffrey Marsalis (known as the Match.com rapist), JoAnn has fought through PTSD and emotional distress. She comes on the podcast to share her journey and thoughts on mental resilience.
FULL BIOGRAPHY (From her website)
I am a date rape survivor who has successfully completed counseling/treatment for PTSD and seen my attacker through two trials resulting in convictions for sexual assault and rape and him being sentenced to Life in prison. He is described as one of the worst date rapists in this country.
Since 2009 I have spoken about my story to victim advocacy training groups, on college campuses and Take Back the Night events in hopes that it can help others heal.
I have been interviewed and appeared in a one-hour ABC News special and an Investigation Discovery Channel documentary episode of "Very Bad Men". Each focusing on my attacker and my experiences from the date rape through the counseling, trials and what's on the other side of it.
I am a member of the RAINN Speakers Bureau and the UC Irvine Speakers Bureau which includes Orange County, CA and a Women's Media Center SheSource expert.
My goal is to continue to speak out on social media and publicly wherever I am needed. This is a direct reaction to all the help and support that was provided to me. I also want to be a voice for others that, for whatever reason, can't speak out.
Aye so, another blog, a few paragraphs of wisdom, an insight into my personal experience of post traumatic stress disorder and the symptoms associated with it, the depression, the anxiety, the feelings of failure, the need to stay safe, the loneliness, the turmoil that would flow through my mind. To be honest I can’t really remember half the symptoms and to me that’s a result, another reminder of how far I have came and the victories I have achieved since my first blog in May 2013.
If you’re that interested in the symptoms and my battles you will find all my previous blogs via firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @weaselblogs. If you are suffering from PTSD or other mental health conditions they might be worth a read, they’ll let you see that your demons can be beaten, controlled, I’m not really sure what the best term to use is but I’m pretty content with where I am mentally now.
I don’t even know why I am attempting to write this blog, previously they’ve been used to get thoughts out of my head that is haunting or controlling me, stuff that I needed to say but couldn’t or found too hard to. I’ve also used them to give some practical advice to others that are going through similar but haven’t been fortunate enough to receive the professional help that I have. I also like to use them to give others hope, hope that one day things will get easier for them. Hope that they too can win their battles and find this contention mentally. I’m not going to do that with this one as I think it’s just going to get repetitive.
I think I want to use this blog to highlight the importance of being open and honest about your problems and the benefits that come with this honesty. I know it’s hard to open up, it would feel like a defeat, a sign of weakness, a failure, it honestly isn’t. It’s been the single best decision I have ever made, it’s led me to being the most confident and content mentally that I have ever been.
It took me to get to the lowest I could get to before I could admit I had a problem, I was forced into opening up and admitting my problems, sharing my fears, telling the people I love why I was acting the way I was and how my mind was out of control. Who wants to tell someone that they believe they are going crazy and that the world and everything in it scares you.
Maybe if I didn’t get that low I would never have opened up, I’d maybe never have sought the professional help that I did, I’d maybe be spending the rest of my life battling my thoughts and believing I was weaker and inferior to everyone else because I had all these irrational thoughts, I had all those social anxieties and all those fears that were stopping me from living.
I’m not saying I am the man I want to be now that I’ve dealt with my demons but what I am is content mentally and I have belief and confidence in life, myself and the world around me. My mind now works as logically as it has ever done and my thinking is calm and under control. I’m maybe lucky that PTSD can be a temporary condition; maybe mine wasn’t as severe as it can be, maybe I just got a right good psychologist, who knows but I’m in a great place mentally and I never ever thought I would get here this quickly or get here at all.
I’ve learned along the way that most people have anxieties, fears, worries, it’s perfectly normal, it becomes a problem when it takes control of you and stops you acting the way you truly want to act and when it stops you doing the stuff you love and enjoy.
When I started my psychology sessions, I decided to be as honest as I could with my psychologist, this was my chance to get everything out of my head and find out why I was acting and thinking the way I was, I wanted answers, I wanted to be normal again, I wanted to be able to compare myself to my peers and feel on equal par again. We talked through my fears and my way of thinking, Laura my psychologist explained why I was thinking what I was and acting the way I was. In that first session she diagnosed what I had, explained all the symptoms and told me how I was going to beat it.
I came out of that first session and I knew I had to be as honest with everyone in my life, friends, family, and my girlfriend at the time, my work colleagues. I didn’t know how to go about this but I needed to. I needed them to know what was going in my illogical mind. The only thing I could come up with was one of these ramblings and soon I had my first blog.
Within minutes of sharing my first blog, I received incredible messages of support and some amazing words of wisdom, people who I believed to be far stronger and greater than me would tell me about what they feared or told me they felt similar. They told me how brave I was to be as open and honest, I didn’t feel brave I just felt this feeling of pressure lifting off of me, my mind slowing down a bit, a sense of pleasure that I had took this action and it was so positive.
This is where I believe being open and honest has been a massive help to me. People couldn’t wait to offer support, an ear to let off steam into, words of wisdom or simply to tell me that I was loved and a far better person than I believed myself to be. Since that first blog I continue to be open and honest and I shall for the rest of my life. I’ve realised It’s just me that can make me feel inferior, only me, can deal with my thinking and keep it under control.
I believe if I am going to stay on this path, where I am positive and living the way I want to live I need to continue being as open and honest. The lies I told to stay safe when I was ill will probably frustrate me for a while yet, that’s why now I am so honest. When am having a bad day, which has been very rare, I’ll talk about it, I try to share the wisdom and knowledge I have gained from my experiences to help others.
I ask you that if you are toiling open up and you will see the love and wisdom people can give you. The ability to stay connected and talk to your friends and family is part of the solution in terms of things getting easier and better for you. I’ve managed to help a few other people who have issues with my honesty and that’s what it’s all about, giving that wee bit back and breaking down the stigma. You soon realise that you aren’t alone, depression and anxiety are more common than you imagine, it’s just some people hide it better than others or have the skills to keep it under control.
Anyway, I’m not really sure I’ve achieved what I wanted to with this blog and I don’t feel it’s as strong as my others but maybe that’s a sign of where I am and how positive I am feeling. It’s hard for me to recall the feelings, the fears, the symptoms, it all just seems like a journey that I was meant to take in order for me to help others and learn so much about myself, love and life.
It has been two years since I got discharged from my psychology sessions, in that time I’ve completed my first year at university studying psychology and I’ve regained my life and had so much fun with friends and family. Life can change in moments, my attack and breakdown demonstrates that but it can also change for the better. That moment I tweeted my first blog was a massive help to me, the moment I walked into that room for my first session my life started improving again. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you try opening up? I guarantee you it probably won’t be as bad as you think. The human race can be an understanding and caring lot when they need to be. I rely on them when I do have my moments of anxious thoughts, they don’t happen that often but when they do, I’m not long in discussing my irrational and illogical thoughts.
Anyway keep on keeping on
Love and peace
Kevin I sufferes from PTSD and got a bit lost for a while. He's now trying to spread the word regarding mental health and breaking the stigma. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @weaselblogs
Positive, inspiration, happy, content, care free, cheery, these are just some of the terms that have been used by people to describe me recently, to be fair, I’ve probably used them myself. I’m just beginning to accept the inspirational one as I find this a bit overwhelming and it doesn’t sit right with me to describe myself as such but I’ve slowly began to realise that inspiring people is maybe not a bad thing.
I’m not out to change the world, I’m not wanting to be part of a revolution, I don’t even know if inspire is the right term. I simply want more people to pull through the battles that I pulled through and to find this sense of contention, empowerment and positive way of thinking that seems to be flowing through my mind and way of thinking.
This time last year I was in a mess both physically and mentally, my mind was full of so much self doubt, illogical thinking, soul destroying anxieties, fears that made me believe I couldn’t function and live in this world and in a society that appeared to be filled with so much evil, pain and suffering. There was a darkness that engulfed me. Negativity in my outlook and the words I spoke, I was low, defeated, overwhelmed by so much pressure pushing down on me. I don’t know if I ever seriously considered taking my own life, I often thought about how I wouldn’t be suffering anymore and fighting the daily battles I was fighting, I certainly could understand why someone would take their own life. I was desperate for my mind to slow down, for my thoughts to be logical again. To shift the depression that seemed to take the shine out of my life and make me so negative, irritable and argumentative.
I wanted to be me again, in fact I didn’t, I just wanted to be normal, I wanted to be like the cool, self assured folk that I would compare myself to, you know, the ones without worry, the ones who seem to have it all, life seemed so easy for them. Mine? Mine was a disaster, out of control and it was always going to be that way, especially as I was going nuts, turning mental, couldn’t sleep without having a those soul destroying nightmares, I’d randomly have wee flashbacks to when I was attacked, I’d avoid my mates and my girlfriend at the time, they’re better off without me anyway was how I’d justify it to myself.
Now I don’t want to be like those normal people, the cool and self assured people, know why? I don’t believe they exist. Since I opened up about my problems and my battles with PTSD so many people have confided in me about their worries and fears, the feelings that haunts them, the fears they have or how they can relate to aspects of my blogs and you know what? Most of them are the self assured and confident folk that I wanted to be like.
I think what happens is we all worry, we all have fears, we all have anxieties that get in our mind and chew away at us from time to time but some of us just have the skills to cope or know how to hide it or handle it better. I say we all worry or have fears but really that’s inaccurate as I don’t anymore and that’s thanks to my breakdown, the help of some amazing family and friends, a top class psychologist and random strangers who get in touch with words of encouragement or simply to tell me their stories on the back of these blogs.
My positivity and contention comes from the work I done with my psychologist Laura, the CBT she carried out and the way she made me address my fears and control my thinking and my thought process is where things turned around for me. You can see the methods see used in my previous blogs. It’s all about challenging your thoughts, looking realistically at the chances of your worst fears happening and how much of an impact will they have on your life in 5 years time. I’m stress free now as well and that’s been a massive help, the stress thoughts are gone and that allows your mind to work more logically. You think irrationally when you’re stressed, I placed so much emphasis on staying safe and that in turn caused me to avoid doing the stuff I loved with the people I love, that disconnection soon causes a sense of loneliness that plays a part in destroying your self esteem and adding to the depression. Staying connected is a massive part of beating depression and anxiety. Along with giving a bit back, getting active, being open and honest about your struggles and avoiding alcohol, anyway this is all old ground covered in previous blogs.
When I first wrote these blogs it was about, about apologising, getting my thoughts and fears out of my mind and out there so family and friends knew what I had been through and what I was going through daily, now they’re about giving that wee bit of hope to someone out there who is sitting feeling the same way I was this time last year. You know what? Maybe I do want to inspire, I want to get into that persons mind and hit a chord with them, I want them to read all my other blogs, see how desperate and low I was, see how I’d gave up hope and thought I was destroyed, life was going to be a constant battle and be on top of me forever. Well you know what? It isn’t.
I don’t say this arrogantly or in a sense of screw you look at how well I am doing. I say it with a sense of, if I can turn my struggles around and become a so called inspiration then what’s stopping you? Will it be like it is the now forever? Can you give it a go?
I was so weak this time last year, I had a sense of inferiority and you could feel the anxiety off of me. My actions were strange where as now I’m empowered, confident, passionate about spreading the word about the benefits of being open and honest about your mental health. Mental health illnesses are as real and as harmful as physical illness. It’s not been easy to get to where I am. Facing those fears was horrible, pounding the streets at night in the dark, hanging about outside pubs, standing in busy bars all the things I avoided for the fear of being attacked again. You know what causes these fears? The stress voices in your mind. Before I was attacked none of these fears bothered me, the trauma of what happened to me caused my thinking to change, I had to regain control of this and I did. It wasn’t for a minute easy but it can be done. Maybe I’m just lucky, maybe I just had a right good support network who understood and pulled me through, who knows but I hope that if you’re sitting there toiling you might see that it’s worth a shot, can it really be any worse than what you’re going through just now?
Positive thinking is an incredible and powerful tool, since I’ve addressed my fears and anxieties I’ve gained a place a university to study Psychology I’m hoping to qualify as a clinical psychologist and try to use the experiences I have to get others back on track. I do some voluntary work with Victim Support and that’s been a help to me as well. That sense of giving a bit back and also seeing others going through what I went through makes me feel less alone, less illogical. I’m not a victim any more I’m part of an exclusive club where I’ve went through some horrible trauma and times but came out at the other end stronger and prepared to break the stigma that surrounds mental health.
Basically all I want is for someone to read this and think, right let’s give this a go. Get that help you need, I’m no expert and I’ll probably not have the answers you need or are looking for but I can tell you what worked for me. Anyway I think I’ve said what I wanted to say. You aren’t alone and you certainly aren’t the only one who is having those thoughts and it can be beaten or at least controlled.
I want to thank every single person who has helped me over the last year, be it a text, a tweet, a deep chat, words of wisdom, everyone has been incredible and I’ll never forget that or let you all down again. I’ve got faith and belief that this has all happened for a reason and I’ll use this to do some good, I’ll inspire as many people as I can, I’ll use what was once a negative to achieve so many positive outcomes.
Keep on keeping on
Peace and Love
Kevin I sufferes from PTSD and got a bit lost for a while. He's now trying to spread the word regarding mental health and breaking the stigma. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @weaselblogs
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