Category Archives: compassion

The Yazidi story is complicated; a link

The Yazidi population that escaped capture by ISIS terrorists have not been allowed to return to their original homeland by the Kurdistan / Iraqi government. They are trying to work with the local government to try to restore some independence and to be allowed to return from refugee camps and rebuild in their former territory which is no longer under control of ISIS (and hasn’t been for a while).

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Yazidi women also hope for the US to stop supporting terrorists

There are usually always two sides to a story, two view points to consider. A large protest occurred the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States. The protest was known as the Women’s March against Trump and his history of verbally disrespecting women and other minorities. On the other side of the world a minority group has different hopes regarding the new President of the US – they hope he will stop supporting the alleged moderate rebels as most locals that are interviewed are not aware of any moderate rebels, only ISIS terrorists and groups affiliated with them.

Reporting on events in the Middle East are limited in mainstream sources and it is not always clear what to believe on alternative websites but the events occurring to Yazidi people at the hands of ISIS have been covered by more traditional news sources as well as the alternative site: Yazidi Girls Sold as Sex Slaves while Women March against Trump – This is a misleading and inflammatory title, as the Yazidi girls are likely to already have been sold as sex slaves by ISIS terrorists and other rebel groups and to be in captivity during the time the Women’s March was occurring. But the girls and women are being horribly mistreated and some do express hope that US support of the rebel groups will end. https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9824/yazidi-sex-slave-women-march#.WIz9B3Pxvo8.twitter

The Yazidi population is a Kurdish speaking minority group in the Middle East who do not follow a Muslim or Christian religion. ISIS rebel groups took over the Sinjar area of northern Iraq in 2014 [link] where many of the Yazidi lived and the men and older women were killed, younger boys were sent to be trained as terrorists, and girls and women were considered captives of war and were sold or given away as sex slaves. The captive Yazidi girls and women would be encouraged or coerced into converting to the Muslim religion so that they could then be married to the ISIS terrorists who had bought them. Any who refused to give up their own faith continue to be at risk of more severe mistreatment. Many try to commit suicide or to escape.

More about the Yazidi history and their pre-Islamic faith:

An Yazidi woman in Iraq named her newborn son Trump shortly after Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States.

For baby Trump, in hope of peace in the Middle East and rescue of the Yazidi women and children.

For baby Trump, in hope of peace in the Middle East and rescue of the Yazidi women and families.

The baby’s father: ““We have been going through a never-ending genocide over the last two years at the hands of ISIS, and Obama failed to take out ISIS or help liberate the thousands of Yazidi women and children that are still enslaved by ISIS,” said the father of Dilbreen and Trump, translated by Kejjan. “I hope President Trump will at last take out ISIS so we can return home and rebuild our lives.”  

ISIS is reportedly holding 3,200 Yazidi women and girls as sex slaves. Over 5,000 have been killed and 400,000 displaced by the terror group. These numbers reflect only the towns liberated by Yazidi and Kurdish fighters backed by US- and British-led coalition air strikes.” Adlay Kejjan is a Yazidi woman living in the U.S. who has been working with a few nonprofit organizations to raise awareness of the plight of the Yazidi people still held by ISIS terrorists.  https://www.algemeiner.com/2016/11/13/why-a-yazidi-woman-in-iraq-named-her-newborn-son-trump/

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Childhood emotional trauma can cause brain changes

Changes in the temporal lobe may cause temporal lobe epilepsy which can include a variety of symptoms that are less obvious than a seizure. Feelings of disorientation from temporal lobe epilepsy can include “mind-body dissociation—the feeling that one is watching one’s own actions as a detached observer.”

These studies suggest that child abuse may alter development of the left hippocampus permanently and, in so doing, cause deficits in verbal memory and dissociative symptoms that persist into adulthood. ”

The left hemisphere is specialized for perceiving and expressing language…

The research suggests that children who experience trauma may have lasting damage occur in their left temporal lobe which is a part of the brain that contains the smaller hippocampus. Temporal lobe epilepsy is uncommon but is more of a risk for children who suffered trauma of some sort. It doesn’t cause seizures that are as obvious as those that occur in other types of epilepsy. Diagnosis can be difficult also because the patient would need to be having an EEG performed while having a temporal lobe seizure.

Symptoms may include: “Because these areas constitute a sizable, varied part of the brain, TLE has a veritable catalog of possible symptoms, including sensory changes such as headache, tingling, numbness, dizziness, or vertigo; motor symptoms such as staring or twitching; or autonomic symptoms such as flushing, shortness of breath, nausea, or the stomach sensation of being in an elevator. TLE can cause hallucinations or illusions in any sense modality. Common visual illusions are of patterns, geometric shapes, flashing lights, or “Alice-in-Wonderlandlike” distortions of the sizes or shapes of objects. Other common hallucinations are of a ringing or buzzing sound or repetitive voice, a metallic or foul taste, an unpleasant odor, or the sensation of something crawling on or under the skin. Feelings of déjà vu (the unfamiliar feels familiar) or jamais vu (the familiar feels unfamiliar) are common, as is the sense of being watched or of mind-body dissociation—the feeling that one is watching one’s own actions as a detached observer. Emotional manifestations of temporal lobe seizures usually occur suddenly, without apparent cause, and cease as abruptly as they began; they include sadness, embarrassment, anger, explosive laughter (usually without feeling happy), serenity, and, quite often, fear.4

*I find this information interesting because I have had some of these symptoms in the past and my migraine headache pain was always greatest in the same spot on the left side of my head.

Ways to help protect the infant’s brain /may/ include rocking the baby (probably-gently) from side to side (based on animal research) as it seems to be calming for the brain’s cerebellar vermis which is a section that may help control electrical activity and prevent seizures. Infant rats who were handled by humans for just five minutes or those whose mother (rat) spontaneously licked and groomed them all showed lasting changes in their development,  behavior, and response to stress later in life.

ADHD like symptoms are common for people who had a childhood history of trauma and a smaller size of the cerebellar vermis is common in ADHD: “Interestingly, one of the most reliable neuroanatomical findings in ADHD is reduced size of the cerebellar vermis.”

Successful treatments are not that common which makes prevention of child abuse and neglect important for protecting children’s longterm quality of life. EMDR treatment is discussed in the article. I did find the cognitive therapy technique helpful for my own trauma history. The difficulty with traditional ‘talk therapy’ for issues that developed during early childhood is that verbal reasoning might not have been present when the trauma occurred. EMDR is a type of relaxation technique that can help the patient access deeper emotionally charged memories that aren’t based in words.

I wrote about the EMDR therapy technique in this post:  Talking about trauma with kids; PTSD, neural mapping, EMDR and reframing

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

“Spending my spoons with you;” aka: Autoimmune disease is exhausting

The Spoon Theory is a way a person with the autoimmune disease lupus explained to one of her friends just what it can be like to live with an autoimmune disease — exhausting.

Each day a person with autoimmune disease wakes up and has to go about the day like everyone else but just showering takes energy. Holding arms overhead to wash long hair is exhausting. Leaning down to shave legs is exhausting. Drying off, blow drying the long hair with arms overhead, carefully applying makeup . . . it is all exhausting.

Listen and learn about thinking twice before wasting a spoonful of energy, as the author shares her theory at a conference, The Spoon Theory written by and spoken by Christine Miserandino:

Be thankful for your spoonfuls of energy and your loved one’s; health is a blessing that is not doled out equally, but if you are careful, sometimes it can be maintained and improved.

“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.”
Dalai Lama XIV

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

People may need people and a sense of purpose for health and happiness

People and other species are social creatures whose survival may have been dependent on being part of a group rather than being isolated. Loneliness has been associated with increased inflammation and a reduced resistance to infection by viral diseases. Genetic changes have been found to occur in isolated individuals that lead to the increased inflammatory response in comparison to individuals who have more social support. Our instincts have developed to trust that being part of a group increases our chance of survival. Having a role that fulfills a valued purpose for the group is associated with an increased sense of happiness.

Fitting into groups well can take social skills that need to be nurtured from birth. Infants learn body language at an early age by interacting with a parent who responds to the baby’s cues. If the baby smiles the mother smiles back and the baby learns to smile more readily. If the baby has a mother that doesn’t notice body language though, then the infant may stop smiling as often. Infants and children depend on their caregivers for everything and try to please with their smiles, eye contact, or baby coos. If the infant isn’t receiving eye contact in return however they may stop trying or are scolded they may learn to look away and to avoid eye contact.

Children ideally need emotional support in order to develop trust in themselves and in others. Parents who have limited skills in understanding and accepting their own emotions may not be able to teach their children what they don’t understand themselves. Children who have some role model in their lives who understands emotional skills may cope better than children who don’t.

The topic is discussed in more detail in the book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents, by Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD, (New Harbinger Pub., Inc., 2015, Oaklnad, CA) [1] (This book is not a twelve step book and is not affiliated with the Adult Children of Alcoholic or Dysfunctional Parents twelve step group.) An excerpt from page 108:

“Why is emotional connection so crucial?

According to neuroscientist Stephen Porges (2011), mammals have evolved a unique coping instinct in which they are calmed by proximity or engagement with others. Instead of just having the involuntary stress reactions of fight, flight, or freeze, like reptiles do, mammals can calm their heart rate and reduce the physical costs of stress by seeking reassuring contact with others of their kind. Certain vagus nerve pathways in mammals have evolved to allow stress hormones and heart rate to be reduced by confronting in such forms as physical closeness, touch, soothing sounds, and even eye contact. These calming effects conserve valuable energy and also create pleasurable social bonds that promote strong groups.

For all mammals, including humans, something magical happens when this desire to seek comfort switches on. The danger might not go away, but individuals can stay relatively calm as long as they feel tied into their herd, pack, or circle of loved ones. Most mammals have stressful lives, but thanks to their instinct for engaging with others, calming comfort and restored energy are just a friendly contact away. This gives mammals a tremendous advantage over other animals when it comes to dealing with stress in an energy-efficient way, since they don’t have to go into fight, flight, or freeze every time they sense a threat.” [1]

So a sense of connection to others can help reduce the negative inflammatory effects of the stress response. Some stress can be healthy to help get us moving to meet whatever challenge has occurred. Stress may become more overwhelming however if the person is isolated or never learned social skills or trust enough to ask for help or seek out help. Children in situations with emotionally immature caregivers may learn that people around them can’t be trusted or that trying doesn’t lead to success so why bother trying — they can learn  a sense of helplessness and hopelessness rather than finding strength from others.

The book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents, by Lindsay C. Gibson [1] describes  four different types of emotionally immature caregivers, how growing up with them might affect children and how the children might overcome the lessons they learned later in life as adults who only just discovered that emotions aren’t dangerous things to never be discussed or worse that one might be punished for exhibiting. Some emotionally immature people may feel threatened by strong emotions and may react negatively to children who are simply being children. The child in that situation learns to not trust themselves and may not learn that emotions are normal rather than upsetting or frightening.

Severe childhood trauma can lead to changes in the brain that cause ongoing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A new strategy for treating PTSD has been developed which involves electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve called Vagal nerve stimulation (VNS).  Which the excerpt from the book [1]  suggests is the nerve pathway that naturally is stimulated when social contact is sought during a stressful situation.

Stress and trauma have been too readily available lately. More police officers were shot today in the U.S. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Three are injured, one critically, and three officers were killed Sunday morning. The gunman was a former marine who drove there from his home in Missouri. The gunman was killed at the scene. Further information about his possible motives are not known at this time. Whether there were any accomplices is not known but it is believed he was a lone gunman and there has been no further shooting in the area.

My condolences and best wishes to the families, friends, and coworkers of the slain officers, may they rest in peace, and to the community of Baton Rouge

Emotionally immature parents may raise emotionally immature children who grow up to raise their own emotionally immature children. Help break the trauma cycle by reading the book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents, by Lindsay C. Gibson [1]. Whether you are a parent or a teen or an adult learning more about emotional maturity and immaturity can help understand your own emotions and others. Whatever we grow up with will seem normal to us and as adults we tend to seek out similar relationships to those we were familiar with as children — but sometimes what seems normal to some people isn’t normal for everyone else and there is no need to continue living in abusive situations just because it seemed like a normal part of life as a child.

Lack of emotional skills may increase the risk of acting inappropriately when under severe stress. People need the support of people to help reduce negative effects of stress and increase a sense of connection and purpose. People need to learn emotional skills from people who have emotional skills  — or sometimes from a book. [1]

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people; truck tragedy in France

It was another sad day to wake up to news of a deadly incident having occurred in France.  A truck was driven through a crowd of people who were gathered to watch fireworks in Nice,, France. The crowds were gathered in celebration of their nation’s revolution that had started on Bastille Day in 1789. The day is also known as National Day. Eighty four people have been reported to have been killed by the assault. The truck driver was killed but he managed to drive approximately 1.2 miles through the crowd before he was shot. He was believed to be a French citizen of Tunisian descent, more is not known about any direct connection to terrorist groups however it is assumed to have been the motive but ISIS has not released any statement claiming responsibility and the driver may have had personal motives or psychiatric issues that are not known at this time. Whether there were any other accomplices is also not known at this time.  https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2016/jul/14/nice-bastille-day-france-attack-promenade-des-anglais-vehicle

7/16/16, update: The Islamic State /ISIS/ISIL has claimed that the truck driver was acting in response to their call for individuals to fight nations that are fighting the Islamic State. http://freebeacon.com/national-security/amaq-news-agency-islamic-state-claims-responsibility-nice-attack/ And another update: a few people who knew the driver were arrested or held for further investigation into the events leading up to the tragedy. The  driver had a history of mental health issues and medication use in the past and an episode of road rage type violence. Family was surprised about the Islamic State claim however as the truck driver had not been radical or very religious in the past. http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/france-bastille-day-truck-attack-1.3682221

The driver also had explosives in the vehicle and guns and had fired into the crowd of people before he was killed. Thankfully he was stopped before the explosives were detonated. Terrorism doesn’t require assault rifles. Assault with a car or truck loaded with explosives has been recommended by the Daesh terrorists in training materials they have produced recently and in the past. And assault by vehicles loaded with explosives has occurred in several Middle East nations. It is a difficult risk to protect against. Electrical disruption devices could be used to stop a vehicle by stopping the electrical signals to the engine. Otherwise people are being warned to use caution in public places and at crowded events and to possibly consider skipping crowded events for increased safety.   http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/france-truck-attack/truck-reportedly-plows-crowd-bastille-day-france-n609621

Hamas and Al Qaeda and ISIS have all used and recommended driving cars into crowds. France may have been made a target  in part because of the nation’s making it illegal for Muslim women in France to be able to wear the traditional dress and veils in public according to Maajid Nawaz a former fundamentalist that is now working with a counter terrorism group. The traditional dress and veils of the Muslim religion is considered to bring Muslim women closer to Allah.  Maajid Nawaz also introduced the term “self starter” as more accurate than “lone wolf.” With the use of social media for recruiting and sharing training materials terrorism is spreading to individuals that may be acting alone but in support of the Jihadist groups.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sr1-se7uTZE

The “War on Terror” has led to increased instability and terrorism around the world. Sharing democracy with other nations is a noble goal but it hasn’t been very successful and our own democracy has become an oligarchy so we aren’t even really a good role model for what a democratic form of government looks like anymore. Drone bombs and radioactive waste and increased birth defects and destroyed infrastructure aren’t noble goals and seem terrifying to me. We need to stop playing both sides and just get an international group of boots on the ground to wipe out the Daesh terrorists and help refugees return to their former homelands.

Improving equality and access to food and jobs, clean air and water, would likely help reduce the stress and malnutrition that may be contributing to people becoming capable of mass violence against others.

My condolences and best wishes to the survivors and the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.