T Talks // SAD [Seasonal Affective Disorder]

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year.  Most people with SAD have symptoms starting in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.

Source:  Mayo Clinic

I’ve meant to put up this post for quite some time but never seemed to get around to it….but I’ve always been of the mindset that my trials are meant to be a testimony.  So hopefully sharing my experience will help others of you that may also be battling with this as well.

Ever since my first year of medical school I’ve battle with the “winter blues”.  I first noticed it during the beginning of my second semester when things seemed to be particularly overwhelming with Neurophysiology (the horror!) and I was just in the DEEPEST funk ever in life.  Everything around me just seemed so bleek and cloudy and….I went through probably the deepest depression I’ve ever been in.  I couldn’t eat…I couldn’t sleep…I felt like I was going to die and possibly fail out of med school (which for me was pretty much synonymous with dying).  But then the semester ended, spring and summer came around and life was grand once again.  If only the story would have ended there….

Pretty much every single fall and winter since then has been tough.  Even as recently as last year, I would consider my second deepest period of being down and out.  And to be honest, it often correlates not just with the changes in season but also life changes and circumstances that seem to beat me up a bit as well.  But the lingering cold and darkness definitely do nothing to help things.

Believe it or not, SAD is a pretty common issue affecting mainly individual 18 to 30 years of age, with 3 out of 4 SAD sufferers being women.  It is thought to be caused by the decrease in sunlight in winter months which can affect your circadian rhythm or biological internal clock, and two chemicals in your brain: serotonin (levels play a role in your mood) and melatonin (plays a role in your sleeping pattern and mood).

Common symptoms include:
*Depression
*Anxiety
*Mood changes
*Sleep problems
*Fatigue & low energy
*Changes in appetite (overeating or undereating) & weight
*Irritability
*Loss of sexual interest or desire for physical contact
*Thoughts of suicide
*Losing interest in things once enjoyed

That last symptom is one of the reasons you guys often see a lull in my blog posts during the winter months, especially in the last two years.

But there are ways to combat SAD…other than just schlepping through until the sun comes out again.  Here are a few pro tips:

1. Light Therapy – This can be intense clinical light therapy or as simple as making your environment sunnier and brighter.
2. Talk Therapy – Psychotherapy can help identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors, help you learn healthy ways to cope, and give you tools to help manage stress
3.  Make lifestyle changes – Exercise regularly, take time to meditate and pray, eat well, and make a conscious effort to look great so you can feel just as wonderful.

I’m definitely making a conscious effort to be more proactive in fighting my battle against SAD, and I’ll be sharing how I’ll do that hopefully in an upcoming blog post.

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder and ways to conquer it, check out the links below:

Mayo Clinic

Mental Health America

Love and God Bless,

– T

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T Talks // Tummy Time: Strength Through the Struggle

Tummy timeSource

I’ve been putting off writing this blog post for quite some time….simply because, as much as I love to share the lessons I’ve learned and my testimonies with others, it often leads to unnecessary judgement and harsh criticism from those on the outside looking in.  But certain incidents and discussions as of late have made me realize that I need to share this.  Plus I’m a blogger, and I guess that’s the risk I took when I signed up for this, huh?  Besides, there’s no way I am going to let the murmurings of a few, limit the potential of possibly encouraging even one person.  So here we go….

I’ve mentioned in a previous post how much I enjoy object lessons and yesterday I had one occur in my very own life.   While working with one of my attending physicians and discussing rehabilitation needs for pediatric patients, we got into a discussion about the muscle weakness that some infants and children develop.  She then mentioned that sometimes the cause can be due to either something being organically wrong versus the child never having been given the opportunity to strengthen those muscles.

Oftentimes parents want to do so much to make their infant or child happy or to prevent distress that they eliminate necessary struggle that can strengthen them.  Here are some examples:  Stopping potty training because the patient yells and screams too much when presented with the option.  Giving up on self-feeding exercises because the child temporarily refuses to eat.  Eliminating tummy time, which helps strengthen muscles of the upper extremities, head, and neck, because the patient simply doesn’t like it or struggles too much in this position.  And as a result of this presumed “kindness” by some parents, these children end up with a lack of the needed resilience and skills needed to thrive in day-to-day life.

Well here’s my question:  Why do we shy away from the struggles that have the potential to strengthen and equip us for the journey ahead?  Too many times we are just like these infants.  We don’t understand the purpose of God giving us “tummy time” when we’re more than content with being on our backs because that means it’s time to sleep and relax.  Tummy time means we have to work to stabilize ourselves.   Why do that when we can do what babies are supposed to do:  eat, sleep, and poop?

But like the parents of these infants, God sees the importance of “tummy time” to successful development now and in the future.  It is only during this time that we can learn how to cope.  Learn how to stretch and use muscles that wouldn’t be mobilized otherwise.  Learn how to hold our heads high and stabilize our shoulders.  Learn how to stretch our arms.  It’s during this time that we are given the opportunity to become stronger.

Are you going through some kind of “tummy time” struggle right now?  Spiritually, professionally, academically, financially, personally, or even within a relationship? TRUST me when I say I FEEEEL YOU!  Not even a few months ago I was going through my own tummy time with AWL of the above and I was the whiniest baby you ever did see.  Mercy!  I complained and questioned God as to the purpose of  these trials.  Was it REALLY necessary for me to go through heartache, doubt, and pain all during the already most dreadful time of the year (winter) while being away from my family and loved ones?  I didn’t understand it.  But God said to me, “T, you need to find the strength through your struggle.”  It was only after stopping and listening to that message that I ended the pity party and allowed myself to be fortified by the process.  Now I can truly say that I have learned and am even more equipped to handle even tougher challenges that life may have waiting for me in the future.

I trust my Father’s process.

I now understand the value of my tummy time.  Let the struggle of your tummy time strengthen you.

Love and God Bless,

– T

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T Talks // My Passion for Youth…

Just as a heads up…this is gonna be kind of a long post.  But if you’re okay with that, enjoy!

Source

Anyone that knows me (or has ever even come into brief contact with me) knows that I LOVE children!  Which would make sense since I’m in Pediatrics (duh…lol).  But specifically, I absolutely love working with teenagers.  And even though people think that I’m crazy for doing so, once I complete my 3 years of Pediatric residency training (which…side note:  Am I SERIOUSLY about to begin my 3rd and final year?!? Gaaaahhhh!!! lol), I plan to complete a 3 year Adolescent Medicine fellowship training program (by God’s grace) and dedicate my career to promoting and improving the wellbeing of adolescents.

This past Sabbath, I attended my local church specifically at the request of one of the young people there.  He was getting baptized that day and invited me to be there and of course I couldn’t miss it for the world!  The baptismal ceremony was absolutely beautiful!  As he said his baptismal vows, emotions overtook him and he started to weep (yes…weep).  And I had to look away because, I was NOT about to go out like that! I had to keep my THUG intact!  Not even….there is no thug within me…at all…

But when he got into the baptismal pool, and his mom and younger sister began singing Laura Story’s “Blessings”, and he started to cry once again, I COMPLETELY lost it!  Forget the full beat face and thank God for waterproof mascara!  The tears just started falling and the nose started running…it was a beautiful mess lol.

I remember when I first met him, it was shortly after I’d moved to the Allentown area for residency. He had displayed his talents during a Youth Day program at church by painting a beautiful depiction of Jesus wearing His crown of thorns live on stage during a musical performance.  He did an absolutely amazing job, and I told him so after the service.  Over the past 2 years or so since I’ve been in the area, I’ve gotten to learn more about him, and his story is absolutely amazing and very inspirational.  He has such a genuine heart and loves his mom and sister so so much!  So being able to be a part of this special moment in his life was SUCH a blessing and overwhelmed my spirit completely.

For quite a long time (for almost 5 or 6 years), I have felt this urgent call and compassionate desire to minister to youth.  When I was back in the DMV, I was able to do that through my home church:  being a leader in the Adventist Youth Society, helping to direct the youth choir there as well (S/O to MVP!), and just being there for my own sisters and brother when they needed me.  When I moved to PA, I felt a little lost as to where I could serve the youth in my local community and for quite some time I felt very sad because I couldn’t find anywhere that I fit.  But how many of you know that God doesn’t need you to be a part of a formal ministry in order for you to be used by Him in just the way that He needs to use you? Come on somebody! (sorry if I sound preachy….I’m writing this fresh on the heels of listening to a powerful sermon that blessed my everlasting life! But I digress…).  I began to realize that very thing!  God was using me to minister to the needs of the young people around me:  at church, work, randomly.  And I hadn’t even really noticed it.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about working with the adolescent population, it’s that social interaction and acceptance is a MAJOR priority.  This is a huge part of the reason that social media is such a big deal….and why youth often get involved in things that can be detrimental to their wellbeing.  They just want to feel accepted…appreciated….LOVED.  And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we’d all like as well?  So I really just started to open up my ears, heart, and home to these young people.  Listening to them when no one else really would.  Empathizing with their struggles when no one else seemed like they were able (or willing) to relate.  Allowing them to spend time with me in the comfort of my home to just eat, sing, play games when they just wanted to escape from life for a moment and have some fun.

I did what I could, where I was, with what I had.  And God took that and made it enough.  And in the midst of me ministering to them, I was blessed as well. Boy have I been BLESSED!

So moving forward, I definitely hope and pray that this passion never fades.  I genuinely feel called to minister to and serve this specific population, and I pray that God continues to guide my path, opens the appropriate doors (ESPECIALLY as I venture into the fellowship application process in the next 2-3 months. Pray church!), and gives me the strength to fulfill this mission WELL.

And for those of you out there that are pursuing your passion as well, and may even have a similar passion for youth, don’t give up!  Submit it all to God; He will guide and strengthen you.  Like He says in Jeremiah 29:11:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Love and God Bless,

– T

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T Talks // Thirst + Mutual Thirst

In recent months/the past year this term thirst has become increasingly popular in everyday vernacular.  Just in case you’ve been living under a rock (or just away from social media) and have no idea what this term means, let’s head over to the Urban Dictionary for an official definition, shall we?

thirst
/THərst/
noun
A form of lust of or want of members of the opposite sex. This term can refer to both males and females.
Example:  Though Stanley claimed to have “zero-thirst”, everyone knew of his thirsts for certain lead facilitators. Though it is true that he has not yet exhibited true acts of “thirst”, the potential thirst building up inside him was yet to be converted into kinetic thirst.

Got it? Okay.  Now that the foundation has been laid, let me just say a few things…lol.

Yes, there are many times when the thirst becomes increasingly annoying, from both sexes.  No I’m not speaking personally (necessarily…), but just in general lol.  Most (sane) human beings actually don’t respond well to being told what you want to do to them if you got them alone and how you’d do those things…ESPECIALLY not within the first 5 minutes of ever meeting them.  Or maybe that’s just me.  Okay that example is a little extreme, but y’all know what I mean! lol

But probably the most disheartening thing about the constant use of the term thirst is that many women inappropriately use it to describe truly genuine acts of chivalry/kindness/gentlemanliness from their male counterparts.  And to this I must say, “Girl, what?!?”  When did it become “thirsty” for a guy to display respect for a woman, hold the door open for her (or open the door for her), smile, or say “Good Morning”?  Now granted, there are some males that may use this angle or as a means to an end.  But real talk, not every kind gesture from a guy means that he wants to smash or hollah, or even wants you at all.  Unfortunately, I’ve heard on way too many occasions how these remarks of “Stop being so thirsty!” during these situations have made some men rethink being chivalrous.

But now that I’ve said that, consider this…

In one of my past relationships, a mutual friend of ours mentioned that when it came to my then boyfriend and my initial attraction to one another, we were BOTH thirsty!  And then and there, this concept of mutual thirst developed in my mind.  I’m not claiming to have come up with it because to be honest, I don’t really think I did.  But unlike the former term, this one has a much better denotation.  As defined by me:

mu·tu·al thirst
/myo͞oCHo͞oəl THərst/
noun
The common desire or want of two individuals for one another.

That, to me, is a beautiful thing! lol  When two individuals genuinely like each other, there’s joy in knowing that even if you’re being thirsty, it’s being reciprocated!

Now the key is knowing whether or not the thirst is actually mutual.  Because if it’s not, you might as well just cut your losses, save yourself the embarrassment, and wait for/find someone that will reciprocate your thirst.  And it’s really not that hard to determine whether mutual thirst is there or not.  All you may have to do is straight up ask the person whose thirst is in question whether or not they’re really into you.  If you’re lucky, and you’re dealing with someone honest and genuine, you’ll get a straightforward answer right then and there.  If you’re not so fortunate to get that information as bluntly/directly, just pay attention to patterns.  Being observant and paying attention can save you such a world of unnecessary heartache.  That, common sense and not making assumptions. Gold I tell you, GOLD!

What are your thoughts on thirst and mutual thirst?  

Feel free to share your comments on the topic below (and even some experiences if you’re brave enough!).  I really enjoy your comments, and  I’d love to hear what you all have to say.

Til next time…

Love and God Bless,

– T

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