Big Brain-Little Brain: The Mental Health Connection

Did you know about the mental health connection between your big brain and little brain? Each of us has a big brain, contained in our skulls, and a little brain contained in the guts. (I’ll bet you thought I was going to say something else.) The reason the gut is called the second brain is because of the enteric nervous system (ENS). The enteric nervous system is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract. Your ENS brain cannot add two and two or compose a poem. But the ENS can and does communicate with the big brain. It communicates through the nervous systems, through hormones, and through the immune system. More than 100 trillion organisms, collectively called the microbiome, exist in our bodies. (source.) The right microbes keep our gut healthy, turn off stress hormones, and help turn the food we eat into energy. The presence, strength, and number of these organisms signals our gut which in turn signals our brain. Too few of certain microbes may result in depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric diseases. A few studies show interesting connections. Patients with digestive issues (chronic constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, etc.) treated with psychologically based […]

Feelings-They Are All in Your Head and How to Make it Better

It’s winter in the northern hemisphere. Winter-the cold, dark, rainy, snowy, hibernation season. A season often associated with sadness and loneliness and isolation. UGH. Feelings—they are all in your head and how to make it better—are the focus of my Wednesday blogs this month. Because yeah, I have noticed a change in my moods and my partner’s moods. And because I have noticed some of you suffering from the same downswing in your moods. (This is where I have to put a disclaimer in. I have a tiny bit of training in psychology but I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist. If your feelings are so intense they interfere with your day-to-day life. If you have difficulty keeping a job, eating, sleeping, personal hygiene—you need to learn to help yourself from a professional. Nothing in this blog or on the internet will help you as much. Can’t afford professional help? Ask your county mental health department for suggestions about where you might find professional help at a price you can afford.) When I started researching, I came upon the intriguing phrase, social isolation. Loneliness is a rising mental health concern. A quick google search yielded more than one hundred individual […]

help prevent sexual assault

Help Me Help Prevent Sexual Assault

It’s my birthday! It is appropriate that today I share information about the two organizations that are most important to me. One is a national organization that works on a large scale. The other is a local organization that gave me a stage upon which I could speak my truth at a time when that truth was raw and difficult. These organizations provide much-needed services to survivors of sexual assault. Will you help me help prevent sexual assault? Every 98 seconds, another person experiences sexual assault. Survivors of sexual assault are of all genders, races, religious affiliations, nationalities, and ages. Sexual violence includes child sexual abuse, rape, intimate partner sexual violence, and other crimes. Every 8 minutes a child is sexually assaulted in the U.S. 93 percent know their abuser. RAINN These statistics are from RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). It is the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the U.S. According to their website rainn.org. They have helped more than 2.7 million people since 1994. Think about that. They have helped more than 112,000 people per year for 24 years! RAINN operates a phone line and an online chat 24/7 for anyone who needs help because of sexual […]