How Not To Be Depressed, Part 2a

2. Intentionally live a healthy life.

If you want to not get depressed, then live a physically healthy life. Go to bed early, eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise. Your emotions travel the biochemical and nerve routes of your body. A healthy body is a precursor for a healthy mind. There actually was a time and a place on this planet where the body and soul were accepted as a single entity. Contemplate that concept, why don’t you? Now, in the United States, the psyche has been divided into mind, emotion and spirit with separate specialists for each one.

It doesn’t work. The mind and the body are parts of a single whole and what happens to the body affects the mind. Nobody knows where the body stops and the mind begins but some people are trying to sort it out. Consider the fellow who traveled, studied, and created a yoga center. Then, at age 32, he went to medical school because he wanted to learn more about the mind/body connection. Dr. Gerry Edwards now practices a particularly understanding form of family medicine. Would God that all physicians were so diversely trained.

Two things that are known about the mind/body relationship are that the immune system and points in the nervous system correlate to depression. Lower back pain goes hand-in-hand with depression. I first saw this during the many hospitalizations I experienced at St. Joseph’s Hospital. St. Joe’s was a general hospital where people would go to be treated for their back problems and then find themselves transferred to inpatient psychiatry for treatment of their depression and nobody realized that the two were connected, but there were too many bad-backs-with-depression for it to have been a coincidence.

Then a friend called me for counseling: her son, who had frequent episodes of depression, was now suicidal for the first time in his life. After much woman-talk about the fellow’s feelings, his mother just happened to mention that her son was a construction worker and three days prior had injured his lower back in a work accident.

You can’t learn anything new until stop you stop doing old things and leave vacancies for new things to enter. Last year I utterly renounced physical medicine and opened the door for new treatments to enter. One of the things I found was craniosacral massage.

According to Wikipedia, “Craniosacral therapy (CST), or cranial-sacral therapy, is a form of bodywork or alternative therapy focused primarily on the concept of ‘primary respiration’ and regulating the flow of cerebrospinal fluid by using therapeutic touch to manipulate the synarthrodial joints of the cranium. To do this, a practitioner will apply light touches to a patient’s skull, face, spine and pelvis. Craniosacral therapy was developed by John Upledger, D.O. in the 1970s, and is loosely based on osteopathy in the cranial field (OCF), which was developed in the 1930s by William Garner Sutherland.

“According to the American Cancer Society, although CST may relieve the symptoms of stress or tension, ‘available scientific evidence does not support claims that craniosacral therapy helps in treating cancer or any other disease’. CST has been characterized as pseudoscience and its practice has been called quackery.”

Unless, of course, you’ve actually experienced craniosacral therapy, as I have. I was physically wrecked and knew it, so I got a physician’s referral for physical therapy and—lo and behold—what he offered was not a series of bending, stretching and lifting exercises: what he offered was craniosacral therapy (CST). (A brief aside here: off and on for about three decades I have used the services of a physical therapist who does the bend-stretch-lift stuff. When I went in search of him this year, his group told me that he’d left and they didn’t know where he currently was practicing, hence I met this new fellow who does CST. One wonders about God’s direction in one’s life.)

So physical therapist Chris Scanlon entered my life and, as he gently began to massage me back into some semblance of goodness, he explained that depression is associated with three points in the body: a spot in the middle of the skull, the OA joint (which is where the spine enters the skull), and the sacrum (which is at the base of the spine). According to the learned Chris, tightness and strictures in any of these three places is consistent with depression. If you can, through the subtleness of CST massage, release the restrictions in these areas then you will also be relieving the depression. Hey, works for me, babe.

According to Chris, the complications in the OA joint in my neck were among the worst he’d ever seen. He said that the problems to tendons, ligaments and muscles can be caused by distress at birth, whiplash in a car accident, and many other things. There’s no telling when or where the damage came from but it’s certainly there. Likewise, it is “there” in the lower back—the sacrum—after a construction accident.

A sensitive and thoughtful practitioner of craniosacral therapy can lightly lay hands on these places and subtly apply pressure until the cramped-up joints start to release and let natural healing take place. There are no negative side effects. Positive side effects may include thoughtful, hour-long conversations with a nice man who is kind and full of interesting ideas.

So if you don’t want to be depressed, take good care of your spine—top and bottom—and if you have some kind of accident then go see a craniosacral therapist. And read the rest of the Wikipedia entry: The American Cancer Society should confine itself to talking about cancer, not “any other disease.” It doesn’t know dick about depression.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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2 Responses to How Not To Be Depressed, Part 2a

  1. Pingback: Osteopathy | Find Me A Cure

    • annecwoodlen says:

      Several years ago I got fed up with medical doctors and so I sought out an osteopath, thinking he’d have a different approach and we might work well together. What I learned was that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather all had been M.D.s but he couldn’t get admitted to a medical school so he’d gone to osteopathic school. I dropped him after three appointments. Just because you are an osteopath doesn’t mean you are a good osteopath.

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