“Black Men In America.com will be more aggressive in our efforts to educate the black community about the risks associated with a variety of cancers and other diseases that disproportionately affect our community. To this end we will use a wide range of resources throughout the health and medical industries.”
Gary A. Johnson, Founder and Publisher
According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2015 Facts and Figures report, African-Americans are two times more likely to develop late-onset Alzheimer’s disease than whites and less likely to have a diagnosis of their condition, resulting in less time for treatment and planning. The Alzheimer’s Association is committed to raising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, the nation’s 6th-leading cause of death, in diverse populations.
Alzheimer’s Association 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
- Confusion with time or place.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
- Decreased or poor judgment.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities.
- Changes in mood and personality.
About the Alzheimer’s Association®
The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. It is the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research. The Association’s mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Its vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org.
A Seniors Guide To Eating Health by Brenda Snow
By Brenda Snow
Healthy eating and understanding nutritional requirements are important at any age, but it can be especially important for seniors. Seniors have unique nutritional needs, but also specific dietary considerations that need to be accounted for when it comes to the foods they’re eating. As people age, their metabolism slows down, which means that for most older people they need fewer calories than they did when they were younger. It’s not just changes in metabolism that are important to understand when it comes the healthy eating for seniors, however.
As we age, our bodies change and considerations to keep in mind with senior nutritional needs can include the gastrointestinal system and dental conditions. There are also certain lifestyle elements for seniors that may play a role in their diet and nutrition.
If seniors aren’t eating a healthy, balanced diet, it can wreak havoc on their immune system, making them more susceptible to common illnesses like the flu, as well as more serious conditions. It can also lead to weight gain or weight loss, and seniors who aren’t eating a healthy diet may have reduced cognitive function and lower energy levels. It’s not uncommon for older people to experience malnutrition, in varying degrees, often because of eating too little, deficiencies in certain nutrients, or an imbalance in the diet. Even a mild level of malnutrition can lead to fatigue, lethargy, and a lack of interest in other areas of health and wellness.
For seniors who make healthy eating an essential part of their life, they’re more likely to enjoy a stronger immune system, better overall health, and a stronger quality of life.
To help seniors, their families and their caregivers ensure they’re making the right nutritional choices, I put together this guide. My goal with this guide is to help seniors live a fulfilling life, starting with a foundation of good nutrition. From the limitations that can cause seniors to have poor nutrition, to easy tips to incorporate healthy foods into your lifestyle or the lifestyle of your loved one, this guide has a lot of information that I hope will be valuable to you.
Publisher’s Note: When Mr. Free Spirit told me that he was conducting research for an article that he was writing detailing the high suicide rate for retired men, I immediately thought about the number of retired NFL football players who have committed suicide and the celebrity deaths “Soul Train” icon Don Cornelius, actor Robin Williams and former CNN correspondent Anthony Bourdain. I think that mental health awareness and education is a very important topic and something that we want to highlight here on this website.
The National Institute of Mental Health finds that men are less likely to seek support as they struggle with depression. Depression can take away anyone’s moments of peace and restfulness, but men may be statistically more likely to experience disruptions to their sleep cycles. Sleep deprivation comes with a host of other difficulties: irritability, loss of motivation, physical fatigue, compensating by oversleeping, etc. Most dishearteningly, men are more likely to be successful in taking their own lives. I want to thank Mr. Free Spirit for writing this article and I encourage everyone to be patient, caring and kind when you encounter those who struggle with some aspects of life in hopes that we can prevent them from committing suicide. For more help and information call 1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-SUICIDE.
Gary Johnson – Founder & Publisher, Black Men In America.com
Why Is The Suicide Rate So High For Men In Their Golden Years?
By Mr. Free Spirit
Since my retirement I decided to rewire and not retire. Retirement means different things to different people. Is money an important factor? YES, however other things are equally important. Nothing to do will either kill you or place you in a state of depression. Mental illness can be accelerated based on having “nothing to do.”
Did you know the suicide rate in elderly men is high?
For most people, psychological well-being increases later in life, following a well-known U-shaped curve: people report less satisfaction in midlife and more at either end of the age spectrum. Paradoxically, though, suicide rates also rise sharply. Older white men are particularly at risk.
Among Americans of all ages, 12.4 per 100,000 take their own lives each year, according to 2010 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But among those over 65, the official number is 14.9, and suicide may be under-reported. Because of the stigma, “coroners will go to great lengths to call it something else,” said Patrick Arbore, founder and director of the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention in San Francisco. “If it’s an overdose, they can call it an accident.”
Though suicides among older people have declined in recent decades, most likely because of improved screening and treatment for depression, they remain disturbingly high among men. Suicides by women decline after age 60, but the rate among men keeps climbing. Elderly white men have the highest rate: 29 per 100,000 overalls, and more than 47 per 100,000 among those over age 85.
- Males accounted for 81.5% of suicides completed by elderly African Americans (ages 65+). This percentage is mirrored by the suicides completed by elderly Caucasian men.
Why are suicide rates so high among seniors? We know that while older people make fewer suicide attempts than the young, they are far more likely to die from them, in part because they rely primarily on guns. “Younger people have more physical resilience and use less lethal means,” said Dr. Yeates Conwell, a psychiatrist at the University of Rochester Medical Center who has studied late-life suicide.
Moreover, depression is behind many suicide attempts, and “a lot of older people have problems asking for help.”
Depression can involve different symptoms in older patients, and “men are good at masking it, because we’ve been conditioned to believe it’s not O.K. to express emotional pain.”
Beyond mental illness, researchers have identified a cluster of other risk factors in late-life suicide, including physical illness and pain, the inability to function in daily life, fear of becoming a burden and social disconnection. “Things that remove older people from their social groups — bereavement, retirement, isolation — leave them vulnerable,” Dr. Conwell said.
Knowing that some readers here have announced that they want to end their lives if (or before) they are suffering, seeing that as an exercise of personal autonomy rather than mental illness, I asked both experts if they thought suicide could ever be a rational act. If life loses pleasure and meaning, with or without a terminal disease, can suicide be a legitimate response?
Both said, cautiously, that in certain situations, after a great deal of discussion and consideration, it could be — but that’s rarely what occurs.
“The proportion of older people who take their lives without a diagnosable mental illness is very, very small,” Dr. Conwell said. Because elderly suicide is generally a result of multiple factors — physical illness and depression and a recent loss, say — “if you change one of those parameters, it may tip the balance in favor of finding solutions that help you want to live.”
At the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention, staff and volunteers handle 3,000 calls a month to the “friendship line” (a name deemed more acceptable to seniors than “suicide hotline”). They also place 3,500 outgoing calls to people considered isolated or otherwise at risk.
“We believe connections are what bind us to life, just having the opportunity to talk might shift their view of the end, temporarily. It might not have to happen today.”
Such opportunities to talk, in ways tailored to older adults, should be more widely available than they are. (One resource is the Veterans Affairs Department’s Veterans Crisis Line.) Instead, the task of trying to recognize elderly depression and encourage treatment falls largely to primary care physicians and, of course, to family members, who should always take suicidal talk seriously. When a depressed and hopeless relative commits suicide, the family must cope not only with grief but often with guilt and unanswered questions.
Now that you have read the above, you understand being rewired not retired. During your years before retirement you had a talent for some sort that you enjoyed. No matter what it was you enjoyed it. Well, now that you are thinking about retiring or you have retired. Try doing want you always wanted to do. Maybe it’s fishing, so buy some new rods and develop your skills and fish. Maybe you are good with your hands, be the local handyman. No matter what it is, don’t sit and watch grass grow or paint dry, do something!!!
Mr. Free Spirit out!!!
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.
Help, Hope, and Recovery for Addiction and Mental Illness
The Importance of Early Detection of Prostate Cancer by Sally Writes
The Importance of Early Detection of Prostate Cancer by Sally Writes
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, African American men are the group (out of all the men in the world) who are hardest hit by prostate cancer. Statistically, we are 1.6 times more likely to develop this disease, and over twice as likely to die from it. Because we are in a high risk group, screening for prostate cancer should start earlier, to facilitate early treatment if required. When it comes to prevention, a healthy diet and exercise can make a positive difference.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men discuss screening with their doctors at age 50 (if they are at an average risk and are expected to live at least 10 years more); at age 45 (if they are at a high risk of developing this cancer – this includes African American men and those with a first degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer when this relative was younger than 65) and at age 40 (for men with at a higher risk because they have more than one first degree relative who had prostate cancer before the age of 65).
What Does Screening for Prostate Cancer Involve?
Normally, testing is carried out via the PSA blood test (to check levels of prostate-specific antigen) and, possibly, the digital rectal exam. If results are normal, your doctor will normally recommend that you return every year or two, depending on your PSA levels.
An Important Proviso
It is important to speak to your doctor about the pros and cons of screening; the latter can sometimes give ‘false positives’, and studies are still being carried out on the effect of screening on lowering death rates from prostate cancer.
Can Prostate Cancer be Prevented?
Although there is no sure-fire way to stave off prostate cancer, a healthy diet and physical activity can help, because research has shown that men who are overweight have a slightly lower overall risk of prostate cancer, but a higher risk of prostate cancers that are likely to be fatal. Other research has shown that a poor diet is associated with various types of cancer, and that specific foods are cancer preventive (including fruits and vegetables; bread, rice, potatoes and pasta; lean protein sources, beans and nuts; and dairy products).
Recently, researchers found that the consumption of specific foods (tomatoes, cauliflower and broccoli, soy, beans, legumes) and fish, are linked to a lower rate of prostate cancer in particular. Apple pees, red grapes and turmeric have also been found to have a preventive ability.
The Importance of Exercise
Exercise doesn’t just boost our mental health; it also helps us maintain a healthy weight, which is important when it comes to cancer prevention as a whole. Aim for between 30 minutes and 45 minutes of physical activity a day and if you have a job that involves sitting down for various hours, get up every hour and walk about, do some stretching, or run up and down a flight of steps, to boost your cardiovascular health as well.
It is vital for African American men to know that they face a higher prostate cancer risk, so they should discuss screening with their doctor. Much can be done on a lifestyle level as well, to reduce the risk of this disease, including making important dietary changes and staying physically active.
Reduce Blood Pressure Naturally by Dr. Brenda T. Bradley
Approximately, 75 million Americans have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this equates to 1 in every 3 adults. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a risk factor for serious health related problems. Unfortunately, many people are unaware they may have it because it usually comes with limited symptoms. Sadly, uncontrolled high blood pressure can contribute to other causes of death in the U.S., including heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.
Given this information, blood pressure should be checked or assessed on a regular basis. Two measurements are used to check blood pressure: (1) systolic blood pressure (SBP), pressure in the arteries with every heartbeat; and (2) diastolic blood pressure (DBP), pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.
|Stage 1 Hypertension||140-159||or 90-99|
|Stage 2 Hypertension||>160||or >100|
Taking medication to reduce blood pressure levels may seem like the easy way out, but it’s not the healthiest, nor is it your only option. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure several years ago and after adopting a plant-based diets, I was taken off the medication and I no longer suffer with high blood pressure and that was six years ago.
An analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that consumption of vegetarian diets was associated with significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to omnivorous diets. Plant-based diets are low in sodium and characterized by high intakes of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in fiber and potassium. These factors, combined with maintaining healthy weight and regular exercise, may explain lowering effects of blood pressure.
Try following a plant-based diet for at least a month to find out how well the following foods will work for you. Then have your doctor check your blood pressure:
- Whole grains – brown rice, millet, quinoa, groats, buckwheat
- Beans/Legumes – dried (if canned, avoid added sodium) black-eyed peas, kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils, chickpea, tempeh and tofu
- Vegetable – fresh or frozen varieties, broccoli, collard greens, kale, spinach, carrots, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, beets
- Fruits – fresh or frozen varieties, such as bananas, organs, apples, pear, grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, guava, strawberries.
Overweight and obesity increase the chance of developing high blood pressure. Following a plant-based diet can assist individuals in losing weight. Avoiding animal products, and fried and high-fat foods while increasing intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes can promote a healthy weight and improve blood pressure. Also, physical activity can help lower blood pressure. Try a brisk walk for 30 minutes to an hour at least 3 times per week. Because exercise may put added strain on your heart, always consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
I welcome questions and comments.
Here’s to good health,
- Nwankwo T, Yoon SS, Burt V. Gu Q. Hypertension among adults in the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Center for Health Statistics. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db133.pdf. Accessed September 6, 2017.
- Kung HC, Xu J. Hypertension-related mortality in the United States, 2000-2013. NCHS data brief, no 193. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Center for Health Statistics. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db193.pdf. Assessed September 6, 2017
Brenda T. Bradley, PhD
Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
Brenda T. Bradley, PhD is an engaging and compassionate certified health coach. Through her work and passion for healthy eating and living, she decided to answer the call to become a certified health coach. Determined to break free from the Standard American Diet (SAD) which is known to do more harm than good, she set out on her journey to research food, diseases, and fitness. Her drive and determination led her to become more involved in health and fitness.
After struggling with her own health goals and learning about the body and what it needs to perform optimally, she made the switch to a plant-based diet. This diet she credits for helping her not only to lose weight, but has improved her overall quality of life. Last year she developed a new program, The 21-Day Vegan Challenge, and has recommended that clients and those struggling with weight or health issues give it a try. The 21-Day Challenge is a vegan-only food challenge that stresses the healing power of food and how its proper use can restore the body to a natural healthy state. Dr. Bradley’s goal is to inspire others to lead the charge for healthy eating and exercise.
Phone: (757) 784-0832
Everything You Need To Know About Salt, Your Health, and Your Diet
By Sally Writes
Do you think you know how much salt your body needs? Salt is an element of good nutrition that seems to be talked about an awful lot. We see “low sodium” soups and “salt-free” nuts on the shelf. Piling those items into your grocery cart might make you feel that you have your salt intake under control. But did you know that milk has salt in it? How about beer? Surprising, right? Let’s get clear on just how much salt we need, what to do to keep track, and how to cut back if needed.
How Much Salt Do I Need?
The American Heart Association teaches that the most adults should ideally take is 1,500 mg of salt per day. This is equivalent to ⅔ of a teaspoon of table salt, but don’t let that fool you. Just because you aren’t sprinkling salt onto every meal, doesn’t mean that you are under the limit.
Most foods that we eat, especially prepared foods, have salt already added in. For example, one serving size of your a typical jarred tomato sauce delivers almost 500 mg of salt. That would be a third of your salt intake, just in your sauce! Add some meat, salad dressing, and a beverage to your meal, and you will find that you can quickly rack up 1,500 mg of salt intake in one meal.
The maximum amount of salt that the American Heart Association recommends is 2,300 mg. However, 70% of Americans are at risk for diseases that are linked to sodium intake, so experts say that it is better to aim for lower numbers and be safe.
However, salt is essential for our body’s functioning, so you can’t cut it out completely. For instance, it is very helpful as a home remedy to cure sore throats – by mixing with garlic and gargling, this is a great natural solution! Also, endurance athletes who lose salt through sweat will need to think about replacing their losses.
How To Track Salt Intake And Cut Back At The Same Time
You don’t need to become obsessive about adding up your salt intake all day, every day, to be healthy with regards to sodium. Instead, think about adding in more home cooking to your diet.
Consuming overly processed foods, and eating on the go can make it nearly impossible to keep track of salt intake. Often these kinds of foods are high in sodium, just to help them stay preserved. Feel in control as you see every ingredient that you put into your meals, and you’ll move to a whole new level of your health and wellness.
Instead of thinking that you are doing the right thing by purchasing “low sodium” options at the grocery store, start to learn the facts. The accurate numbers about how much sodium your body needs are surprising. Get in control of your intake by cooking meals from scratch.
The Hon. Dr. Shakiera Marilyn Hockaday-Bey
To learn more visit the Herbal Infusion website. We will have more from Dr. Hockaday-Bey over the next several weeks. Here are some of the services provided by Dr. Hockaday-Bey and Herbal Infusion.
Dr. Hockaday-Bey and Gary Johnson at the Herbal Infusion Health and Wellness Store in Ft. Washington, MD
- Improved mental clarity.
- Relief from vertigo.
- In some cases, restoration of smell and taste.
- Increased nail and hair growth. Regulation of ear pressure.
- Better lymphatic circulation.* Proper balancing of ear fluids.
- Catarrh, resulting from nasopharynx problems. Balancing of fluids that provoke headaches. Hygienic treatment of ear.
- Activates proper ear fluid circulation. Can eliminate ringing in ears. (Tinnitus) *Bouncing on a trampoline can also move the Lymph fluid….try it!
To learn more visit the Herbal Infusion website. We will have more from Dr. Hockaday-Bey over the next several weeks.
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
By Gary A. Johnson (Posted 6-12-17)
By Gary A. Johnson (Posted 6-12-17)
I’ve been using apple cider vinegar with the “mother” for over several years and I love it. I am overweight and take medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Over the years I started an exercise regimen comprised mostly of walking and cycling all year round and I take apple cider vinegar every morning. My doctor cut all of my medication doses in half and is working with me get off of all the medications within a year.
One of the best sources on the Internet with information on apple cider vinegar is Helen Sanders, the main editor at Health Ambition.com. If you want to learn more about the enormous health benefits of apple cider vinegar click on the picture below.
Here’s to your good health. Gary Johnson, Publisher – Black Men In America.com
Why Substance Abuse Among Seniors Can Be Devastating (Posted 03-09-17)
Presently, substance abuse among seniors can fall into two large groups. Firstly, the “hardy survivor”, or people who have been abusing substances for many year. Second, the “late onset”, or people who became substance abusers later in life. Regrettably, it most commonly occurs due to misuse of drugs prescribed for chronic health problems.
First and foremost, the reasons why the elderly turn to substance abuse varies. For example, They call one of the most common reasons, “the empty nest“ syndrome. The “empty nest“ refers to the void children leave once they are grown up and have moved out of their parents’ home. As a result, their absence causes a mix of new emotions. Moreover, they try to cope by implementing drugs into their daily life.
In addition, another important issue that surfaces is the issue of age. The fact that none of us is getting any younger scares them. You are no longer in your thirties, the forties, and are coming to realize fifty is a different season. Consequently, it requires a new game plan and a new set of rules. Coping with, and eventually accepting the new reality is a tough pill to swallow. One’s body is changing, and illness and pain become more common between the ages of 55 and 65.
Other reasons why elderly people choose addiction:
- Loss of a partner
- Friends are growing apart
- Loss of financial security
- Life in a nursing home
In any case, the most common vehicle of substance abuse among seniors are alcohol and prescribed medications. In fact, people over the age of 65 use almost 30% of all prescribed drugs in the US. For example, the most common prescription drugs they abuse are sedatives, hypnotics, dietary supplements, and benzodiazepines. Seniors who use those drugs and mix them with alcohol are more likely to visit the hospital due to substance interaction. Another important issue is that they tend to share their medications with friends.
In the same way, alcohol are also a commonly abused substance amongst the elderly. It’s important to note that alcohol can interact with many prescribed drugs and cause serious adverse effects. Furthermore, seniors are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. Therefore, they show lower tolerance to this substance. Also, older men are more likely to develop alcohol addiction than women.
Paradoxically, substance abuse of illicit drugs such as heroin among seniors is very rare. It is usually limited to people who have had addiction issues in their youth.
No doubt, along with common dangers of substance abuse, seniors are more vulnerable to the side effects of drugs. Of course, as one ages, the body cannot absorb and metabolize certain drugs so well. Consequently, as these changes occur, it becomes more difficult for one’s body to process medications. Additionally, drug interaction can make it worse and cause serious health issues. Furthermore, alcohol or drug-related injuries are more common amongst seniors. However, more often than not they refuse to ask for help due to shame or pride.
Some of the most common substance abuse signs amongst seniors are:
- Loss of appetite
- Sleeping pattern problems
- Disheveled appearance
- Weight loss
- Memory issues
- Increase of appetite
- Injuries and bruises
- Lack of hygiene
- Distancing from friends and family
- Chronic pain
- Lack of motivation for everyday activities
The first challenge in rehab is to recognize the problem, and not mistake it as dementia or depression.
Usually, the best treatment solutions along with inpatient or outpatient rehab facilities are support groups and counseling. That way, the patient can get peer support and professional help. It is important that when you talk with a senior patient, you should be comforting. Additionally, you should use easy to understand language.
In conclusion, in some cases, substance abuse in the elderly is overlooked and neglected due to their age. Regrettably, ageism is a serious issue that should be remedied. Ultimately, people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicity deserve equal treatment.
Are you looking for good addiction treatment centers for the elderly? Follow this link to learn more about what they have to offer.
For more information visit Addiction Resource.com.
Resources for Alzheimer’s Disease
NAKED AND NOT ASHAMED: LIVING WITH DEPRESSION
By Dr. Salim Bilal-Edwards
I was diagnosed with major depression three years ago. We all experience depression at some point in our lives, for most it is situational due to specific events such as the loss of a job, death of a loved one, or other disappointments. However, for persons with major depression it lingers and is often recurrent. Persons with major depression or what is commonly called clinical depression may have good days and not so good days. A person with clinical/major depression may go a period of time having days, weeks, or even months of good days, but then out of nowhere they fall into a funk without explanation. Often we try to mask our pain and hide in the crowd laughing and joking, and then go home to a dark house which is empty of life. Those of us with major depression are sensitive to others who we see hurting or going through a rough or difficult time. I found myself trying to help people I loved, but was not helping myself and inside my brain and emotions I was going through pure hell. A revelation came to me one day as I was suffering and trying to help a loved one. The revelation was the voice of the flight attendant giving instructions prior to take off. I was reminded of one of the major instructions which is “if the cabin loses pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the area above your seat, put the mask on yourself first before helping the persons around you”. Those may not be the exact words, but you get the picture. I was going through my personal hell called depression trying to help others but neglecting my mental health.
THE EVILNESS OF DEPRESSION
Depression not only affects the person who is suffering, but often impacts those around them. The impact of depression on marriages and families can be devastating. As for me, not seeking help in a timely manner came at a great cost. I languished in mental and emotional agony. I am in private practice as a clinician and relationship/life coach. I would go to work and be on top of my game helping others through their rough patches, but at the end of the day I would go home and suffer in silence. I would attend church Sunday after Sunday being inspired by the Word of God, but that was short-lived as I would fall back into a funk within a day or two. I found myself easily agitated and angry at any and every one. There seemed to be two different people who were diabolically opposed to one another. I was this spiritual God-fearing man who was full of life, sought peace, and had a servant’s heart; then when depression would come upon me I was this angry agitated person who did not want to be bothered with anyone and would stay in the house alone for days at a time. However, my job demanded that I pour into the lives of clients who were coming into my office to seek help with their pain. I had to push myself to provide the best counseling and coaching possible because my oath stated that first and foremost to do no harm. I am a man of integrity, so I put on my game face, went into my office and gave the best counseling and coaching possible. I am quite good at what I do and my clients and other therapist often refer clients to me. I became good at masking my pain, but it was just that a mask.
ON AN ISLAND FEELING ALL ALONE
The hardest part of my depression was wanting help and support from my friends and family and them not being able to provide that support. You see, I had always been the strong one. I had always been the persons who everyone could depend on. So, when I was struggling with depression they didn’t know how to help. They continued to rely on me to help with their issues even though I was suffering with depression they still relied on me for help because that is what I always did “help”. I take full responsibility for allowing family and friends to pull on me because I continued the masquerade as if I was alright when I wasn’t alright. My depression was getting the best of me and I began to cancel sessions with my clients because there were days in which it was difficult to get out of bed. There were days that I was so drained that my entire body ached. After hitting a low point and having more bad days than good days, I reconciled that I needed to seek counseling again. Let’s be clear that every doctor needs a personal doctor, every lawyer needs a personal lawyer, every minister needs to be ministered to, and every clinician and life coach needs a personal clinician and life coach. As the ole saying goes “a person who have himself for a doctor has a fool for a doctor”. I was being a fool for quite some time helping people, but not getting the help I needed.
FIGHTING THE STIGMA
As a clinician, I know full well the stigma in the African American Community attached to counseling which prevents persons from seeking help. While I was not caught up in the stigma, I was acting like Superman and thought I could handle anything. The stigma attached to counseling coupled with the Superman mentality keeps most African American men from seeking counseling. As African American men, some the misconceptions of manhood are major barriers to seeking help. Growing up I can remember hearing that men are not supposed to cry and crying is a form of weakness, men are not supposed to show emotions, men should always be strong and be tough. As a young boy growing up in the inner-city of Washington, D.C. showing any signs of weakness or frailty would subject you to being picked on, bullied, and having your manhood challenged. I believe as young boys grow into adults they carry those misconceptions of manhood which become barriers to seeking counseling.
Major Depression effects more people than we realize and far too many people are unwilling to seek help. Getting help for your depression can prevent you from self-medicating. Yes, self-medicating. Too many people who are suffering with depression, instead of seeking help, turn to substance use, gambling, sex, and other deviant behaviors to mask their pain. For me, I turned to prayer and my spirituality to deal with my depression. I prayed. I attended church and bible study. I studied my Word. I prayed for others and yet God seemed silent. What compounded my depression was that I thought I was doing everything I was supposed to do by having integrity, by being faithful and obedient, by treating others nice even those who were not being nice to me, but I continued to live in this hell called depression. Yes, God is a Healer. Yes, God is a Deliverer. Yes, God is a Counselor. Yes, God is a Provider. However, God created doctors and therapist to be Angels here on earth to help us through our difficult times of depression. I was self-medicating in religion and neglected my mental health by not seeking help.
DON’T PUSH ME CAUSE I’M CLOSE TO THE EDGE:
Many people are pushed deeper into depression by the ones who supposed to love them most. The things that family and friends can say to a person dealing with depression can push a person close to and sadly over the edge. The things that are said such as “just get over it” can be debilitating to a person with depression. If the person dealing with depression could “just get over it” he or she would get over it in a blink of an eye, but it is just not that simple. Some people may have an episode of depression, that only last a few days and then back to some normalcy, whatever normal is, and some episodes of depression can last for weeks or months at a time. Telling the person dealing with depression to “just get over it” does more harm than good. Some of the labels given to persons dealing with depression can also be debilitating. Labeling a person or critiquing their behavior as lazy, attention seeking or simply manipulative is extremely harmful. Imagine Hearing your loved ones saying things like, “you are lazy”, “you just want attention” or “you are a manipulator” , it will hurt the depressed person at their core. Many persons suffering from a depressive episode, are Not Lazy, more likely they are drained. Depression can cause insomnia and the person can go days without getting any more than a few hours of sleep. A person having a depressed episode is not being manipulative and yes they may be seeking attention. They are crying out for help.
KNOWING THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Beloved, depression is a serious issue within our communities. There are too many people who are suffering in silence or crying out for help that is going unnoticed. I am reminded of the late great actor Robin Williams who from an outward view had everything going for him. He had money, a great network of family and friends, an established career, yet he was living a personal hell and didn’t seek help, much to his demise. We need to know the warning signs and symptoms of depression for the mental health of ourselves and those we love. According to the National Institute of Mental Health symptoms of depression may include the following:
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
• Fatigue and decreased energy
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
• Insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
• Irritability, restlessness
• Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
• Loss of interest in sexual intercourse (to include sexual dysfunction)
• Overeating or appetite loss
• Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
• Persistent sad, anxious, or empty feelings
• Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
BECOMING ONE WITH YOUR DEPRESSION CAN TURN YOUR LIFE UPSIDE DOWN
In hindsight, I realize that I was suffering from depression long before I was clinically diagnosed. I was able to do my every day functions and excelled at work receiving promotions and bonuses; however, I did not pay attention to my irritability, loss of energy, inability to sleep, and loss of sex drive. I meandered through life oblivious to what was going on inside my body and mind because the way I was living became my new normal. In other words, I adapted to my depression and depression became my norm. Getting help for my depression is one of the best things that I could have ever done for myself. I still have good days and not so good days, however, today I have far more good days than bad days. I first had to acknowledge that my life was spinning out of control and accept that I suffer with depression.
I made a conscious decision to seek help and I had to be willing to do whatever it takes to maintain my mental health. I have learned to put the oxygen mask on myself first, I was suffocating and dying with depression, while trying to help and fix everyone around me. Becoming more in tune with my feelings and emotions, allows me to notice when I am about to get into what I call a funk. I refocus, meaning, giving myself positive self-talk such as Salim don’t go there or purposely getting out of the house and engage in an activity or the company of family and friends who are uplifting. I am also mindful to schedule an appointment with my therapist immediately. I am comfortable with’ – ‘admitting’…. I may be in counseling for the rest of my life, if only for periodic check-ins or as I call them tune-ups.
Since I decided to seek counseling I can sing like Dr. Marvin Sapp “I am stronger, I’m wiser, I feel better, so much better”. I never could have made it, without a strong faith in Christ and the help from a therapist.
If you or a loved one is suffering with depression especially if it has been going on for a long period of time or experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in the previous paragraph I suggest you make an appointment with your doctor or therapist to seek help or if you or your loved one has expressed suicidal thoughts or suicidal intentions do not hesitate to call the Suicide Hotline at (1-800-784-2433) or for TTY (1-800-799-4889).
Dr. Bilal-Edwards is an expert in youth development and social issues in an urban environment for men and boys of color. He has spoken in churches, at conferences, and retreats across the country as well as have conducted parent trainings and trainings to educators, social workers, youth workers, community organizations, and law enforcement officials. Dr. Bilal-Edwards specializes in counseling persons with co-occurring disorders and he is a highly respected relationship and life coach.
Confused about health care reform? You’re not alone. Click on the links below to get the facts about health insurance reform.
Affordable Care Act: Obamacare & Health Reform Facts: http://healthreform.kaiserpermanente.org/
Understanding the Impact of Obamacare on Medicare: http://blog.ehealthmedicare.com/media-center/infographics/?pid=11
What does Marketplace health insurance cover?
Affordable Care Act: State-by-State Impact: http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts/bystate/statebystate.html
The Lifestyle Revolutionaries Guide to Addiction Intervention: http://www.lakeviewhealth.com/InterventionGuide.pdf
Are We More Accepting Of Obesity In The Black Community?
By Gary A. Johnson
Americans are getting fatter and fatter by the year. There’s no other way to put it. Health and weight statistics for black Americans is even worse.
According to the publication Health, United States, 2013, 38% of black men in America are considered to be obese compared to 50.8 percent of African-American women. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, overweight or obese is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 pounds or more.
A 2013 study from the American Psychological Association reported that about 60 percent of black women are obese compared to 32 percent white women and 41 percent Latino women.
Carrying around those extra pounds increases the likelihood of developing Type II Diabetes and High Blood Pressure – two diseases that disproportionately affect the black community.
Being overweight also increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, arthritis and certain cancers. In fact, obesity could become more dangerous for your health than smoking cigarettes.
Yet, in the black community, many folks believe or have convinced themselves that being “big boned” is more acceptable. We need to STOP that thinking right now.
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you have read about my struggle to lose weight. If you’ve ever visited my Instagram page, most of the pictures are of food that I cooked and then ate. I’m a damn good cook. I suffer for my food.
I am putting myself out there. I am obese and my condition developed as a result of making a serious of poor choices over the past 20 years. I went from weighing 195 lbs to my current weight of 310 lbs.
At one point I was carrying 324 lbs on this 6′ 4″ frame. Fortunately for me, my body has been good to me. I never smoked, used alcohol or drugs and I don’t drink sodas. My weakness is food. I am an emotional eater and I love to cook and eat.
Here I am “walking the trail” on top of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge at National Harbor on the DC side.
Lately, I’ve been able to reverse some of these negative health effects. Two years ago I gave up sugary fruit juice drinks. I drink mostly water, green smoothies or a combination of Braggs Organic Vinegar and water. If I drink tea, I don’t use sugar. I will start my day with low-sodium vegetable juice in place of Orange juice. These simple choices have made a difference in my health. My last blood pressure reading was 116/78. Not bad for a 300+ pound guy. I started exercising (cycling, walking and weights) consistently and stopped eating at fast food restaurants. I also started buying healthier and organic foods. This costs more but I think it’s worth it.
Make no mistake. I have a long way to go and need support. I have lost over 30 lbs 4 times over the last 15 years. The difference this time is that I am doing it sensibly (slow and steady). No fad or crash diets. Is it easy? No! Is it worth the pain and effort? Yes!
“Many African-American women view being obese as part of their culture,” says Thaddeus Bell, M.D., a family practitioner in South Carolina, in an online interview for icyou.com. It is understood within the African-American community that curvy, overweight women are considered more appealing to black men than normal- or under-weight women. There is almost a reverse distortion of body image – with thicker women fighting weight-loss and slender women wanting to gain weight in order to be accepted.
This may account for the staggering statistic that 4 out of 5 African-American women are overweight or obese. It is even more alarming that some of these women are making a choice to live at an unhealthy weight. African-American women of all ages report less exercise than their white counterparts. “Many of them feel that it’s not feminine or they’re afraid to sweat because it will ruin their hairstyle,” adds Dr. Bell.
Other hindrances include not having child care, not having enough time to be physically active, and not feeling safe being active in their neighborhoods.
African-American men aren’t off the hook either. African-American men also exercise less than white women, and have the highest prevalence of obesity among all male ethnic groups.
However, African-American men are more active than their female counterparts, which may be the reason that only 28.8 percent are obese, compared to 50.8 percent of African-American women.
There is an interesting video called “Dealing with Obesity in the Black Community” on YouTube by Walter Lee Hampton II. This is a no non-sense video about exercise, eating and living a healthier life. I would also recommend reading “Obesity and the Black American: Causes, Culture, Consequences, and Costs.”
Don’t Lose The War Of The Mouth
Dr. Fredrick D. Clark is not your average dentist. Dr. Clark is an “Oral Physician” and dental child care advocate who is on a mission. According to Dr. Clark, dental care cannot be relegated to the “out of sight, out of mind” category if one wishes to retain their teeth.
One of the primary reasons many of us do not get dental care is a lack of perceived need. Unfortunately the need may be present in spite of the absence of pain or apparent symptoms. Don’t loose the daily battles out of fear or apprehension, neglect or thinking that you know everything about your own teeth; you don’t. Only your dentist knows for sure. Don’t loose the war of the mouth.
Dr. Clark sat down with me for an impromptu exclusive video interview about preventive dental care. Please watch the video below and forward it to all of your friends and family.
For more information on Dr. Clark click here to visit his YouTube channel. Dr. Clark testified before Congress in 2007: http://reform.democrats.house.gov/documents/20070516164114.pdf. His first article on our blog is called “The War of the Mouth.”
By Fredrick D. Clark, D.D.S.
The battle is engaged. The combatants are tiny, but the war will be waged for decades. Unfortunately, it is a war, which will have many casualties. This is the war of the mouth. The enemy is PLAQUE, a colony or groups of numerous bacteria that live in the oral cavity. They are the culprits behind the many problems we experience with our mouths over the years. The battle begins with the eruption of the first tooth.
Plaque begins to attack the teeth and gums in our infancy and continues throughout childhood, teen years, adulthood and old age. We cannot see the enemy (plaque) until an appreciable amount builds up on the teeth and even then, it appears benign.
It does not hurt, in fact may even be unnoticeable, but it can lead to horrific consequences if left unchecked. Bad breath (halitosis), tooth decay (cavities), gingivitis (gum swelling, bleeding), periodontal disease (destruction of gum and bone) which causes tooth loss; all of these conditions are caused by the presence of plaque.
The teeth are just one part of a larger system, which includes the teeth and its supporting structures, the gums, the jawbones and the periodontal ligaments, (which hold the teeth to the bone). Collectively; this system is called the PERIODONTIUM.
Thus, all of the above mentioned conditions are diseases of the periodontium. The war I speak of is relentless and many of us lose the daily battles because it goes on painlessly. By the time one complains of a toothache, the damage is sometimes too extensive to save the tooth. Most people are familiar with cavities because they start at an early age in most children. There are a few things we can do to prevent cavities such as adequate brushing, daily flossing and most importantly, professional dental cleanings and checkups. This is a two-fold approach of (1), home care and (2), help from your Dental Professional in early detection and treatment.
I like to relate cavities to a concept most can understand; a cavity is like a cancer growing in which if left untreated will get larger and eventually destroy the tooth. Not only can it get larger but can cause immense pain, jaw swelling, abscesses, pus formation; and, the longer you wait the worse it gets. The results of many years of neglect is what causes people to require expensive dental care such as root canals, caps or crowns, extractions and dentures. Before it is too late, schedule an appointment with your dental professional; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Learn how to win the battle of the mouth. You can keep your teeth for a lifetime; the key to keeping your teeth is early detection and treatment long before the problem becomes painful.
Dental care cannot be relegated to the out of sight, out of mind category if one wishes to retain their teeth. One of the primary reasons many of us do not get dental care is a lack of perceived need. Unfortunately the need may be present in spite of the absence of pain or apparent symptoms. Don’t lose the daily battles out of fear or apprehension, neglect or thinking that you know everything about your own teeth; you don’t. Only your Dentist knows for sure. Don’t lose the war of the mouth.
5 Things Young African-American Women Can Do To Cope with Breast Cancer
Learning that you have breast cancer can be one of the most shocking and life altering moments of your entire life. The initial diagnosis can bring on feelings of not only worry, but life’s fragility. The idea of time being precious no longer seems like something that you just say in passing when talking to friends. Your time really does become precious and your sense of purpose kicks into over drive. Breast cancer is affecting more young African-American women each year and the ages continue to get younger and younger. But the diagnosis, the treatment, and the recovery do not have to be a grim experience. Yes, it’s extremely hard and will probably be the hardest thing you will ever have to go through in your life. Questions may arise such as: how did this happen to me? Why me? And what am I going to do now? I had all of these same questions after all, I was only 31 years old, African-American, and in good health. These are all common concerns among women who have been diagnosed with this disease, but more important than the initial shock and the treatment and even surgery is the mental state of the woman after she learns that she has the disease. For every woman who has just learned that she has breast cancer and for every woman who knows another who has been diagnosed there are five rules that we must all follow in order to ensure that our lives and the lives of our loved ones will be fulfilled while we take this journey.
1) Focus on getting better. Spend very little time thinking about the disease itself, rather, spend time thinking about your life after you get better. I had a nurse to admit to me that people get sicker when they spend too much time in the hospital worrying about their illness.
2) Avoid morbid, pessimistic people. Even people who you love and who love you can become a drain on your spirit when they spend too much time treating you like your diagnosis is an automatic death sentence. Many people recover from cancer and go on to lead happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.
3) Change your diet. Don’t accept any of the soda, sweets, and other junk foods offered to you at your cancer treatment center or anywhere else. A low/no dairy, low/no sugar, no alcohol, and junk free diet helps your body to fight against the tumor while you are going through conventional treatments. Drink plenty of water, eat extra servings of fresh vegetables, and add extra fiber to your diet to cleanse your body.
4) Keep doing what you. The initial diagnosis will be a serious blow and the chemotherapy treatments and surgery will knock you off your feet for a while, but keep your eyes on the prize. Staying focused on your family life (esp. your children) helps you to maintain a positive and healthy mental state. A positive and healthy mental state also helps your body to fight against the cancer and to recuperate from the toxicity of chemotherapy. The entire time that I have been going through treatments, I have been a single mother, a sociology student, a freelance writer and author, and a small business owner. I never missed a beat (except the days when I was ill from the chemo) because I chose to continue living and thriving.
5) Pray, meditate, chant, or whatever it is that you do. Your mind needs to be cleansed when going through a battle with breast cancer. Your spirit should always be nurtured so that you may receive divine guidance. Spend little time sobbing in prayer and more time focused on what you want your outcome to be. Love yourself, visualize your body healing, and trust that things will work out as they should.
As a breast cancer patient and self-proclaimed ‘survivor’ of the disease, I know all too well what a woman goes through after she gets that call from the doctor’s office. Some women choose to immediately join support groups and notify their family members. There are other women who decide that the best way to deal with the disease and the forthcoming recovery, is to cope in solitude and in silence. I was one of those women. As a breast cancer patient enduring the most toxic of chemotherapy treatments in conjunction with a few naturopathic treatments, I have learned that my immediate state of mind and well-being contribute greatly to the way that my body has responded to the treatments and how well I am doing physically while on the road to recovery. Throughout this transition I came up with five ways to cope with the disease so that may have the best outcome while on the road to recovery.
About The Author
Zekita Tucker is freelance writer and the author of ‘Your Story Book One.’ Her articles have been published by many national and international publications and she has been featured by ABC World News and the Roland S. Martin radio show. To learn more please visit www.zeniampublications.com.
Here are some helpful links to learn more about breast cancer and breast cancer prevention.
We recommend that you check out the website Healthyblackmen.org which is an online health and lifestyle resource for black men. Their mission is to increase health awareness and overall health literacy to help inform health decisions for black men everywhere.
12 Things Your Dentist Wants You to Know
On your way to a bright and healthy smile
1. “Dentists are experts in far more than teeth.”
2. “There’s a right way to use your toothpaste.”
3. “Don’t floss out of guilt before your appointment.”
4. “Certain medications can increase the risk of tooth decay.”
5. “Looks aren’t everything.”
6. “Don’t let pain—or lack of it—be your guide.”
7. “Good dental habits can help your heart.”
8. “You shouldn’t always brush right after a meal.”
9. “You don’t need us to whiten your teeth.”
10. “Parents: your oral health can have a big impact on your baby.”
11. “Babies need to see the dentist, too.”
12. “Don’t let embarrassment keep you from calling us.”