Thursday, 1 October 2020

To The Singles With Love: Be Humble (Part Four): Panel Discussion

'Got it Together

“Be able to decline a date so gracefully that the person isn’t embarrassed that he or she asked.” ― Marilyn vos Savant.

Keeping the House:

Great to be back on another visit. I made it back earlier than usual - two (2) weeks instead of three (3). I think I am just going to settle for this as the new target. The kind of quality I expect of myself on these visits requires time to happen. Our last visit bordered on the need for either self and or professional mental health management. Well, I am not a professional mental health dispenser. I know quite a bit, though, but not certified, nor schooled in this wise.

To get the best value, we require input from someone certified and more knowledgeable than myself. So, I went out to town to get us the best. I had several options out there, but I had to only come back with the one ordained for this assignment, with the same mind and heart for you all as I do. I could get no one better than my dear sister, Dr. Yemisi Adebowale.

Panel Discussion: Introduction

Dr. Yemisi Adebowale is a Consultant Psychiatrist with the Health Service Commission of Lagos State. She presently consults at the Gbagada General Hospital, Lagos. Coincidentally, she graduated from the University of Benin, just like I did. She is the wife of an Apostle. So, just like myself, she is a child of God. Please do join me in welcoming Dr. Yemisi to our platform.

Dr. Yemisi: Thank you, Mr. Akinbodunse, for inviting me to this online community. I’m excited about being here.

Akin: You are welcome. 

Akin: On our last visit, we started a discussion on Neuroticism (Emotional Instability, Craziness/ Insanity Quotient). Depending on where a person falls on this spectrum, one might require self-management and or professional assistance. 

Dr. Yemisi: Permit me to start by saying, the terms “craziness” and “insanity quotient” may not be appropriate synonyms to describe neuroticism. It will not be right, for example, to describe someone as anxious as crazy. Yes, they may have distressing emotional reactions, but they are not out of touch with reality. 

Dr. Yemisi: We will not attribute stigmatizing words or shame to persons who find themselves on this spectrum. I will prefer we just stick with neuroticism. 

Akin: I appreciate that, my sister. Thanks for correcting me. I agree with you. We will stick with neuroticism (Emotional Instability). 

Akin: From a coaching perspective, we sometimes intentionally use some words to awakening the sensibility of those easily given to denial. As it were, we consciously want to anger them to change. I am going to submit all that to respect the clinical handle. 

Akin: Please do share some general and maybe specific things we can all do to ensure we are mentally well and stable.

General Mental Wellness and Stability Techniques:

Dr. Yemisi: We see that neuroticism is a personality trait that makes it difficult for a person to manage urges, deal with stress, and react appropriately to real or perceived threats. 

Dr. Yemisi: As such, persons high on this trait may complain and experience other negative emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, contempt, jealousy, and guilt. Because of this, their relationships, work, and life suffer. In the long run, they may become mentally unwell.

Akin: That makes such more liable to neurotic events or neurosis. Right? 

Dr. Yemisi: Exactly. Imagine a person who sees difficulties where none or a person can’t correctly manage issues when they arise. Always moody, never happy, feeling guilty. That’s a tough one.

Dr. Yemisi: Persistent stress will bring about changes in certain chemicals in the brain, potentially causing clinical illness. 

Dr. Yemisi: Studies have shown that some personality characteristics share common genes with psychiatric illnesses. For example, an overlap exists between the genetic factors related to neuroticism and generalized anxiety disorders and depression. In other words, they have genes in common. That explains why they are more liable to experiencing neurotic disorders.

Akin: On our last visit, I did share a free Test for the five (5) higher-order personality traits. Here is a link to the test for those who missed it.

Akin: As I highlighted in that visit, any result you get is good. It is your flawsomeness (imperfection-ness, humanness). Own it. You are you. Note your strengths and weaknesses, and use them. Your strengths tell you where and what you can build excellence in and on, respectively. The more you own these, what you will observe is moving the dials toward the positive attributes over time.

Akin: Obviously, we each need also to build boundaries to protect us from our weaknesses. And some of these are what our beloved sister is highlighting for those with High Neuroticism scores.

Dr. Yemisi: That’s right. We need to first understand our person, know who we are, and our strengths and weaknesses. We need to be mindful; I will talk about that later. Only then will we set helpful boundaries, know when to review our boundaries, or totally take them out.

Dr. Yemisi: High neuroticism is predictive for developing mental health problems like anxiety disorders, depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, and substance abuse disorders. It is good we are familiar with some common symptoms that may indicate a mental health problem.

Dr. Yemisi: Some of it includes: Feeling sad more often than before, having problems concentrating, difficulty remembering things, difficulty in decision making, excessive worries or fears, an improper sleeping pattern which may be too little or too much. Others are paranoia, excessive use of alcohol and drugs, changes in eating habits, anger issues, suicidal thinking, hearing voices others can’t hear, agitated behavior, a decline in personal hygiene, and social withdrawal. 

Dr. Yemisi: This list is far from exhaustive, but this gives us an idea of red flags and when to be wary. 

Dr. Yemisi: Diagnosis of mental health disorders is only made when specific criteria are met. First, a clinically recognizable set of symptoms that persist must be present. 

Dr. Yemisi: Secondly, these symptoms are associated in most cases with distress. In cases where the individual isn’t distressed, their loved ones usually are. And, lastly, symptoms interfere with personal functions. They may not be able to play their roles as a father, wife, banker, husband, neighbor, choir director, and so on as well as before.

Dr. Yemisi: These three criteria are needed to make a diagnosis. 

Dr. Yemisi: So, don’t get worried if you are experiencing one or two of the symptoms listed above. Instead, consult the assessment of a professional.

Akin: Wow! Very well enumerated. Thanks, Dr. Yemisi. These will make a lot of difference for a lot of our audience.

Akin: While preparing for this session, I came across a free Depression Test people can take from time to time on their own to know where they fall on the depression scale. Do you have anything to say about this?

Dr. Yemisi: Well, this can help people understand how they feel at a particular point in time. But remember, we said that symptoms must persist, so we should be interested in signs that have lasted over time before considering a diagnosis. I am despondent today, say because I lost some money does not make me clinically depressed. 

Dr. Yemisi: There are standard tests like the Becks Depression Inventory that can help. The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression is another test that determines the severity of symptoms. That’s because depression can be mild, moderate, or severe. Talk to your specialist if you need to take a test.

Adaptive Stress Coping Strategies:

Akin: I filled the free Test for the five (5) higher-order personality traits, and came out within the 40-50 bracket on my Neuroticism score. I guess that interprets that it is relatively easy for some external event to push me across the 50 point mark. What do you have to say to that?

Dr. Yemisi: Absolutely! Stressful life events may precipitate an illness for persons with high scores. 

Dr. Yemisi: The stress experienced may even be after or during a positive life occurrence. For example, someone is planning a wedding, getting pregnant, having a baby, or getting a promotion at work that demands the meeting of new targets. 

Dr. Yemisi: Stress can also be damaging when they involve a threat to life or loss of a loved one or a cherished possession.

Akin: Wow! Thanks for that.

Akin: People like me need to know what pushes our buttons and beware of such. I have had three major neurotic incidents in my life that led to times of depression. Each seems to relate to periods of change in my life. These were also periods I had become psychologically tired due to the stress. Well, I did not know then all I know today. Can you speak to this?

Dr. Yemisi: Learning to manage stress is vital here. When you react to a stressful situation maturely and healthily, you are  adaptively coping. Adaptive coping use your knowledge and internal strength to adjust to a negative situation and avoid overreaction or adverse reactions. 

Dr. Yemisi: For example, instead of screaming and shouting because someone cut you off in rush hour traffic, you turn the radio on and listen to music, you know will make you smile. 

Dr. Yemisi: Taking time out from a stressful situation by visiting a good friend or taking a long cold bath are positive or adaptive coping ways. These actions will help to reduce the negative emotions associated with stress. 

Dr. Yemisi: While it is healthy sometimes to avoid the source of stress, other times, you may need to confront it and demand a change. 

Dr. Yemisi: For example, you could choose to discuss matters of recurring conflict with your spouse instead of sweeping it under the carpet. You may then find out things are not as bad as you thought or get to appraise your challenges positively. 

Dr. Yemisi: You could also seek help from supportive people, such as a counselor or friend, to solve problems. 

Dr. Yemisi: Participating in negative behaviors such as getting drunk, using psychoactive substances, harming yourself, or getting into a fit of rage, are maladaptive ways of coping. 

Dr. Yemisi: Just because something works does not mean it is the right way of handling a situation.

Dr. Yemisi: In the long term, they lead to more significant difficulties. 

Dr. Yemisi: Coping mechanisms need to be positive for you to lead a mentally healthy lifestyle.

Akin: Please do share some general and maybe specific things we can all do to ensure we are mentally well and stable. 

Other Strategies for Mental Health:

Dr. Yemisi: I have already talked about using adaptive strategies to cope with stress and the importance of avoiding maladaptive methods. Other things we can do is to ensure we are mentally healthy are:

Dr. Yemisi: 1. Take care of yourself: 

Dr. Yemisi: Get enough sleep: 

Dr. Yemisi: Sleep improves concentration, productivity and enhances immunity. Enough sleep will mean about eight hours of daily sleep. Know when to prioritize sleep over socializing. 

Dr. Yemisi: Eat Healthily: 

Dr. Yemisi: Breakfast is necessary\\\\\\so you don’t have a “brain fag”. 

Dr. Yemisi: Excessive amounts of caffeine can cause headaches, dizziness, and poor sleep, so avoid it. 

Dr. Yemisi: High-fat dairy, fried foods, and refined sugary foods cause weight gain if consumed excessively. Weight gain can increase the risk of chronic medical disorders, increasing the risk of a mental health problem. 

Dr. Yemisi: Eat more whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and healthy fats (omega 3). These food types will boost the immune system and maintains low-stress levels. 

Dr. Yemisi: Exercise regularly 

Dr. Yemisi: Thirty minutes of simple exercises like brisk walking three times weekly release, good pleasure hormones like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. These hormones improve your sleep, appetite, self-esteem, and positive self-image. They also promote relaxation and reduces the risk of anxiety and depression.

Dr. Yemisi: 2. Build your support network. 

Dr. Yemisi: Surround yourself with positive influences and people who make you feel good about yourself. Maintain a network of old and new social, professional, and spiritual connections. 

Dr. Yemisi: Develop new activities and interests.  Find new hobbies, volunteer activities, or work that gives you a sense of meaning and purpose. When you’re doing things you find fulfilling, you’ll feel better about yourself, and feelings of despair are less likely.

Dr. Yemisi: 3. Be mindful. 

Dr. Yemisi: Mindfulness is the quality of being aware of one's thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. Mindfulness doesn’t eliminate stress, but we can handle them better because we are aware of our unpleasant thoughts. 

Dr. Yemisi: You can then redirect your negative thoughts, or stop them altogether, to create a more peaceful ending to the situation. 

Dr. Yemisi: Meditation in the scriptures or prayer can give you the time you need to self-reflect and refocus on what is essential. Daily meditation is best used before crises arise. It teaches you self-control, making it easy to avoid reacting poorly to a negative situation. 

Dr. Yemisi: You can also practice the art of distraction. The idea behind distraction is that you can stop having negative thoughts if you find a way to get distracted. If you are at work and having thoughts of not being good enough, find a distraction. Call to check up on a friend or go for a walk. Do whatever you can to slowly retrain your brain to think positive thoughts.

Dr. Yemisi: 4. Cognitive restructuring 

Dr. Yemisi: Cognitive restructuring is a process of recognizing, challenging, and changing negative thought patterns. Faulty patterns of thinking can impact our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. 

Dr. Yemisi: The manner we interpret, explain, or judge the situations we encounter, can make things seem better or worse, stressful or non-stressful. 

Dr. Yemisi: For example, you hear a noise at night. You could assume your next-door neighbor is fixing a piece of faulty equipment that needs urgent repair or entertain thoughts of robbers creeping around looking for an entry point. 

Dr. Yemisi: Your thought (which is your interpretation of the experience) will determine your behavior. It will determine whether you will turn over in bed and continue to sleep or be restless and agitated. That will subsequently affect your emotions. Same experience, different outcomes, all because of the difference in interpreting situations. Cognitive restructuring can be achieved with the help of a therapist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Dr. Yemisi: 5. Promptly treat Medical and Surgical conditions 

Dr. Yemisi: On a final note, promptly seek medical help if there are any medical or surgical challenges. A person could be depressed if, for example, complications of Diabetics Mellitus causes the loss of a limb or the loss of his/her sight. If you have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, stick to the management plan outlined by your specialist. Remember that there is no health without mental health.

Akin: Wow! What a word? Thanks to my sister for blessing us, and looking forward to having you back soon.

Dr. Yemisi: Thank you very much for having me, and I pray to God to bless this great work you are doing.

Akin: Amen and Amen. 



Interlude:

Well, we are at another stopping point. Feel free to send in whatsoever question you have. Never forget, this is a communication channel. We'll pick up from here next time around. 

Thanks for your time. Hope this helps you. Let me know—a special welcome to all our new faces on the "Single and Blessed" community page. Thanks for being God's stamp of approval on what we are doing. Thanks for entrusting us with your time. I trust you'll not regret it in any way. Take a snapshot of your life today. Transformation is going to hit you as you've never seen before. Welcome home.

You know I love you. Keep occupying. Keep reigning. You have been activated to breakthrough. You have the mandate.

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