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Counselor Morgan Randall's blog, bookstore and more. A place to explore the paradigm shift to systems thinking that views body and mind as one

Slow suicide

When I started drinking in the late sixties, a few drinks a day was considered okay. A liver cancer diagnosis changed my mind. Now it’s clear, anymore than a few a month and you will damage your mental and physical health. A few a day and you’ll die young and miserable.—MR

More women are drinking themselves sick

When Karla Adkins looked in the rearview mirror of her car one morning nearly 10 years ago, she noticed the whites of her eyes had turned yellow.

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April 4th, 2024 | Permalink

More bad cannabis news

That heartache you’re feeling? It may be the marijuana you’re using.—MR

Cannabis Singled Out for Cardiovascular Risk

Cannabis use was independently linked to adverse cardiovascular outcomes in the general population even after accounting for tobacco cigarette and e-cigarette use, a large national study found. Using data from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), there was an increase in most incident cardiovascular disease events among adults using cannabis daily compared with non-users:

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March 3rd, 2024 | Permalink

Trick or treat?

It’s a fact! Acupuncture works well to treat the symptoms of PTSD. With PTSD, the body is terrified out of its wits, so if you calm the body, you calm the mind. And its not addictive like drugs that cause more problems than they fix.—MR

Acupuncture Tops Sham for Easing PTSD in Combat Veterans

by Shannon Firth, MedPage Today,

Acupuncture outperformed “sham” needling in clinical and biological measures of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans, a …randomized trial showed.

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February 23rd, 2024 | Permalink

Really big feelings

Noticing that the anger you feel is caused by something inside of you is the first step to taking a step back and regaining composure.—MR

Big Feelings: An Interview with Mishele Maron

By Andrew Snee, The Sun, February 12, 2024

Andrew Snee: In “Anger Management” you write about working with angry men when you were a cook and a chef aboard ships. What was that like?

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February 18th, 2024 | Permalink

Reality heals

Online mental health counseling is an oxymoron. Don’t risk it. A breakdown in mental health occurs for a multiplicity of reasons, but for most minds, perhaps all, the underlying reason is a disordered relationship in the patient’s history characterized by a lack of real caring presence. That heartfelt absence, that wound, can only be healed by creating a healthy therapeutic relationship with a real person. Sorry, corporate money mongers, that only happens in real time in a real place face to face. Shame on you for being so unethical as to pretend otherwise.—MR

“They thought they were doing good but it made people worse”: why mental health apps are under scrutiny

by David Cox, The Guardian US, February 4, 2024

“What if I told you one of the strongest choices you could make was the choice to ask for help?” says a young, twentysomething woman in a red sweater, before recommending that viewers seek out counselling. This advert, promoted on Instagram and other social media platforms, is just one of many campaigns created by the California-based company BetterHelp, which offers to connect users with online therapists.

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February 4th, 2024 | Permalink

Attention, attention, attention!

Life is ALL about attention. What we pay attention to IS the life we have. Do we pay attention to our work? Do we pay attention to our health? Do we pay attention to nature? Our family? Our friends? As poet Mary Oliver asks, what are you doing with the one sweet life you have?—MR

You have one life. Do you really want to spend it looking at your phone?

by Catherine Price, The Guardian US, January 2, 2024

It was 3.30 in the morning when I realized I needed to break up with my phone. I was holding my baby in my arms as I scrolled through eBay, feeling a bit delusional with fatigue, when I had a brief out-of-body experience in which I saw the scene as if I were an outsider. There was my baby, gazing up at me. And there was me, looking down at my phone.

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January 3rd, 2024 | Permalink

Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!

For decades, estrogen derived from horse urine has been touted to protect post menopausal women against developing dementia. Well, guess what? The opposite has been proven to be true in the longterm study cited below. Besides the increased chance of developing breast cancer, here’s another good reason to just say “no.” This commonly-used pharmaceutical HAS been shown to protect against thinning vaginal walls and dryness, but so does large-dose Vitamin E.—MR

Dementia in Women Using Estrogen-Only Therapy

By Nelsan Pourhadi, Lina Morch, et al, JAMA Newsletter, December 18, 2023

Conjugated equine estrogen was associated with increased dementia risk in a randomized clinical trial of women who had undergone hysterectomy, aged 65 years and older in 1996 to 1999. These findings are less relevant in contemporary clinical settings, where hormone therapy for vasomotor symptoms is initiated near menopause and short term.

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December 20th, 2023 | Permalink

Patient responsibility

While this article was written by a pediatrician, the points he makes are true for visiting any kind of healthcare provider, including a mental health counselor. Can’t tell you how many times patients say they don’t know the name of their meds when I ask. (Note: I ALWAYS ask.) It’s important because the side effects may be the very problem that drove them to set up an appointment with me in the first place. (Note: there are ALWAYS side effects.) Switching meds or getting off them completely may be the solution. But we won’t know if we can’t look up their side effects.—MR

12 Mistakes You Make at the Doctor’s Office

By Stanley Sack, MD, AARP Webletter, December 8, 2023

What is it like being a patient? That’s something I thought I would never need to ask myself. After all, to become a primary care pediatrician, I went through 11 years of schooling, plus a lifetime of continuing education — both the formal, required type and the learning that comes by doing, the stuff they don’t tell you in school.

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December 16th, 2023 | Permalink

Silence is not golden

Human beings are social animals. The silent treatment is used by us and other hominids to ostracize members of the troop. Bottomline is: it’s hurtful and abusive.—MR

The silent treatment: One woman was ostracised by her husband for 40 years

By Anita Chaudhuri, The Guardian US, December 12, 2023

Laura, a 43-year-old architect, had always had a tricky relationship with her younger sister, Carla. However, things hit a low point when Carla was setting up a new business and asked Laura to invest in it. “She asked me for £10,000, I’m sure because she knew my husband had recently inherited a large sum of money. For various reasons, including the fact that I knew the online boutique she was launching was doomed to fail, I said no. Her reaction was explosive. She called me every name under the sun. She told me I was unsupportive and smug.”

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December 13th, 2023 | Permalink

Perfectly normal

This lovely four-minute video takes the weird out of the physical passage from life to death. A must-watch for anyone who is not immortal.—MR

Demystifying death – a palliative care specialist’s practical guide to life’s end

by Emily Downe, Aeon newsletter,  November 24, 2023

Even people who are comfortable discussing death – including the inevitable prospect of their own – might understand little about how it actually tends to unfold unless they’ve experienced it firsthand alongside a loved one. In this brief animation, author Kathryn Mannix, who worked as a palliative care physician for 20 years, offers viewers a sensitive, honest and practical guide to how death tends to progress under normal, or perhaps ideal, circumstances. Pairing her narration with gentle, flowing animations, the UK filmmaker Emily Downe’s short makes a powerful case that there’s deep value in discussing and understanding death well before it touches us.

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November 25th, 2023 | Permalink

Howdy!

If you care about your mental and physical health, get out and about IF YOU CAN. Join a book group. Go to the grocery store. Volunteer at a food bank. If you can’t, keep making phone calls until someone shows up. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m lonely.” We are social animals so we MUST socialize face to face to survive. Having a counselor to visit once a week is one way to feel deeply seen. It’s what we do…—MR

WHO declares loneliness a “global public health concern”

by Sara Johnson, The US Guardian, November 16, 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared loneliness to be a pressing global health threat, with the US surgeon general saying that its mortality effects are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

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November 16th, 2023 | Permalink

Intermittent fasting benefits

Intermittent fasting is not just about weight loss, it’s also about mental health. People who fast intermittently have more energy and less dementia and depression. Learning to eat during a six to eight hour window once a day teaches the brain that its person can regulate what it thinks, feels and does which is a very good thing.—MR

Intermittent Fasting: What is it, and how does it work?

by editor at Johns Hopkins Medicine website

Intermittent fasting is an eating plan that switches between fasting and eating on a regular schedule. Research shows that intermittent fasting is a way to manage your weight and prevent — or even reverse — some forms of disease. But how do you do it? And is it safe?

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October 21st, 2023 | Permalink

Common sense

As a woman who has been domestically abused myself, it’s just seems like common sense to prohibit gun ownership by convicted domestic abusers.—MR

Opposing Gun Ownership by Domestic Abusers Is My Lane

by Chloe Nazra Lee, MD, MPH, MedPage Today, 

“It makes me want to run far away from him,” said Jane, shrinking into herself as though she had no right to take up space. This was her heartbreaking answer to my question: “When you think about how your husband treats you, what goes through your mind?” For a week, Jane had been obliquely dropping pieces of a very disturbing puzzle that indicated a controlling husband who felt entitled to abuse her.

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October 15th, 2023 | Permalink

Bet you can’t eat just one

Addiction to a substance like sugar always takes a toll on mental and family health as well as physical health. One in seven adults are addicted to junk food living on fast foods or snacking between meals with little consideration to its consequences. If someone you know is doing this, let them know you care and ask them to get help.–MR

Addiction to ultra-processed food affects 14% of adults, global study shows

By Andrew Gregory, The Guardian US, October 10, 2023

One in seven adults and one in eight children may be hooked on ultra-processed foods (UPFs), experts have said, prompting calls for some products to be labelled as addictive.

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October 10th, 2023 | Permalink

Drink less, sleep better

Having a drink does not help you sleep. It helps you pass out and keeps you from dreaming so you don’t process emotions of the day each night. You wake up around 3AM when its sugar hits your bloodstream when the liver backwashes. The less you drink, the more mentally, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, physically and financially healthier you will be. Period. If it’s still something you wish to do to yourself and your peeps, that’s your business. But don’t kid yourself.—MR

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that causes brain activity to slow down. Alcohol has sedative effects that can induce feelings of relaxation and sleepiness, but the consumption of alcohol — especially in excess — has been linked to poor sleep quality and duration. People with alcohol use disorders commonly experience insomnia symptoms. Studies have shown that alcohol use can exacerbate the symptoms of sleep apnea.

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September 25th, 2023 | Permalink

Life, death and dignity

Written by an 88-year-old, the below article draws no conclusions about an individual’s right to die, but muses about the dilemma world society  finds itself in when medically lengthening the life span. With a clear mind and intelligent compassion, he asks does one want to undergo a procedure only to shortly die of something more painful and debilitating? Can society actually afford to warehouse the barely alive?—MR

Efforts to expand the lifespan ignore what it’s like to get old

By Dr. Robert Gables, Psyche newsletter, August 23, 2023

As modern medicine extends the human lifespan, quality of life is not keeping up, raising thorny ethical dilemmas. Everyone dies sometime. But when and how? Those questions become more salient as birthdays roll by. It has been said that wherever old people gather there is an ‘organ recital’ of malfunctioning body organs and parts. I, too, have a recital.

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August 26th, 2023 | Permalink

Don’t be fooled

Kratom and cannabis interact with your brain chemicals to stimulate your reward center to overproduce an endogenous opioid to relieve pain. Using either for pain is really no different than as using exogenous opioids such as heroine or synthetics like morphine and fentanyl. An opioid is an opioid whether from a lab, a poppy or your own brain. That’s why cannabis is so habit forming. It creates inner opioid addiction.—MR

WA family awarded millions over death blamed on supplement kratom

by Matthew Esnavra, The Daily News, August 8, 2023

A Cowlitz County jury has awarded $2.5 million to a Castle Rock family in a wrongful death lawsuit after a man with back pain died from ingesting a popular marketed herbal supplement and pain reliever called kratom.

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August 9th, 2023 | Permalink

The lonely become lonelier unless they don’t

After my husband died last year, I felt very lonely. We had recently moved from where we lived for 25 years and his family, after initially expressing their condolences, disappeared. I have no children and for the previous five years had spent my extra time focusing on his healthcare. Fortunately when I woke up alone, I knew the important, if not critical, reasons for social interaction due to being a mental health counselor. Filling a social void is not easy, it’s work, but it’s work that paid off for me when I got up and got out and about. I had to overcome my shyness and spoke to strangers. I pasted a friendly smile my face and instigated conversations. Slowly, but surely, other lonely people responded, and lo and behold, I now have a few new friends and am more comfortable having a casual chat with cashiers, others at the farmer’s market or at an art opening. I befriended myself and helped me make friends with others. You can too!—MR

How Loneliness Reshapes the Brain

The Neumayer III polar station sits near the edge of Antarctica’s unforgiving Ekström Ice Shelf. During the winter, when temperatures can plunge below minus 50 degrees Celsius and the winds can climb to more than 100 kilometers per hour, no one can come or go from the station. Its isolation is essential to the meteorological, atmospheric and geophysical science experiments conducted there by the mere handful of scientists who staff the station during the winter months and endure its frigid loneliness.

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August 5th, 2023 | Permalink

Ask yourself why

The only safe drug is no drug at all. Once people clear their bodyminds of legal or illegal neuro-chemical influences do they really have a chance for at least a modicum of health and happiness. But it takes work. The easy way out leads to increased suffering and too often death. Take responsibility for your own consciousness. Get help, not high.—MR

Family of US woman who died from ingesting kratom wins $11m damages

by Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian US, July 30, 2023

The family of a Florida woman who died in 2021 after ingesting kratom has been awarded more than $11m from a distributor of the south-east Asian herbal extract that has an opioid-like effect on the brain.

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July 30th, 2023 | Permalink

Growing peace of mind

Back in the early nineties after surviving a psychotic break due to unmanaged cannabis withdrawal and was learning to live without its emotion-numbing effects, a dear friend loaned me his abandoned garden. It was a sunny circle of 12 raised beds of soil enhanced with composted sheep manure and chicken-poop tea overlooking the Salish Sea. March through October, with fingers deep in the living soil, I tilled, planted, weeded and harvested herbs, carrots, peas, beans, squashes, cabbage, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, tomatoes, peppers and my Self.—MR

When mental health therapy starts in the garden

By Hannah Furfaro, Seattle Times, July 23, 2023

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July 23rd, 2023 | Permalink

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