Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Brigadoon in the Bedroom

posted by Linda Mintle

“Jeannie’s packin’ up, Jeannie;s leaving town…” I sang those lyrics in the musical Brigadoon my junior year of high school. Funny, I remembered the song today as I was helping my daughter pack up to leave for college. The mood was lighthearted like it was when I folded clothes on that musical stage. At the same time, it was a weird feeling watching my daughter empty out her closet and drawers. In Brigadoon, Jean was leaving to get married. My daughter is only going to college! And while I now have a guest room to offer visitors during the school year, loss is not an easy thing for me. I’ll probably cry all next week when we drop her off on campus and say goodbye.

The good news is that she won’t vanish for 100 years into some mystical mist. It’s only 10 weeks until Fall break.

But unlike Brigadoon, she won’t be untouched by the evils of this world! And the mom in me has to let go and trust all that her father and I have poured into her. She can handle it, I keep reassuring myself.

Anticipation is mixed with sadness. “Jennie’s packin up, Jeannie’s leaving town…” And like Mr. Lundie proclaims at the end of Brigadoon, “I told ye when ye love someone deeply enough, anythin’ is possible.” Thankfully, the story ends well!

 

Could You Be A Tanorexic?

posted by Linda Mintle

Since I received a great response to my blog on tanning and teens, I wanted to add a little to that topic.

Ever heard of “tanorexic?” I treat anorexics but this was a new one for me. A “tanorexic” is a person who ignores the health risks (skin cancers such as malignant melanoma) and may need intervention to stop because of  habitual tanning. According to psychiatry professor, Dr. Bryon Adinoff at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, tanning can be as addictive as drugs and alcohol.

So, I went to a tanning salon, sat in the lobby and watched people come and go for about 15 minutes. I know that was a little weird but I wanted to see who goes to tanning places. Maybe I could spot a “tanorexic.”

Most of the customers I saw were teenage girls, but there was a steady stream of older women who came in for their regular appointments. The older women had really wrinkled skin so I didn’t understand why they would want to add more damage to their already damaged skin? I had to ask. One lady said it made her feel good, another liked the look of the tan because she didn’t have to wear nylons, another says she’s addicted. I think I found a few tanorexics!

In his study,  Dr. Adinoff discovered that the ultraviolet radiation that we constantly try to block when we put on sunscreens, not only damages skin, but also turns on a reward switch in the brain like a cigarette does for a smoker and alcohol does for the alcoholic.

Dr. Adinoff divided tanners into two groups.  One group tanned but the ultraviolet radiation was blocked. After the tanning session, this group was asked if they wanted to keep tanning. They indicated YES. They had the desire to continue. The other group was exposed to the ultravolet radiation. The reward centers in their brains lit up like addicts. When asked if they wanted to continue to tan, they said NO because they had their fix. Like the smoker who takes a hit of nicotine to satisfy the craving, the ultraviolet radiation exposed group had had enough for the moment.

The thinking here is that indoor tanning can stimulate reward centers in the brain, making it difficult for people to stop. The UV light may be the rewarding property that prompts tanners to keep going even when it is unhealthy and they are at risk.

So despite all the warnings about the harmful rays one is exposed to in tanning beds, people (around 30 million a year) continue to indoor tan. How many of those are addicted? We don’t know but don’t be surprised if you see a Tanning Anonymous group next to the anorexics!

Not My View on The View Today

posted by Linda Mintle

During my usual channel surfing while on the elliptical at the Y, I happened across a segment on The View today. Whoopi Goldberg was talking about a passenger who was kicked off a flight for cursing. Apparently a Brooklyn man was complaining to a fellow passenger about the 45 minute delay the Delta airline carrier flight was experiencing. What he said, “What the F….is going on?” resulted in his dismissal from the flight. According to the ousted passenger, he  used the F word twice while speaking to other passengers.

Airlines do have the right to remove passengers “when the passenger’s conduct is disorderly, abusive or violent” or if he or she “appears to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs” or “attempts to interfere with any member of the flight crew in pursuit of his or her duties.” The man reported that he was hung over but not drunk and felt he was treated unfairly. Maybe he was and deserved a warning first, but that wasn’t what bothered me.

What bothered me was the attitude of most of the women on The Vew. Most times, I feel like they live in another reality.

Whoopi was outraged! According to her, everyone would throw the F word around if delayed. This was the only possible response and a justifiable one at that!

When she made this point, I yelled at the TV–”Not everyone throws the F bomb when frustrated. I’m frustrated with you right now and not cursing!” I have been frustrated, angry and annoyed with airline delays, but do not resort to cursing to make my point. The assumption that all people curse, and that cursing is an appropriate way to respond, drew a few applause. Elizabeth looked dumbfounded.

What has happened to civil discourse? Why do people have to curse to make a point? And why do a few television celebrities assume that ALL people act just like they do?

I’m not perfect and not above acting rude at times, but I am not entitled to treat other people poorly because I do not like something. I try to apologize when I offend and don’t feel good about it. And I do not ascribe to the notion that being potty-mouthed is the norm of public discourse. So Whoopi, (who by the way, has a profanity clause in her contract) if you want to throw the F word around in public, that is your right. But be ready for a few consequences now and then because not everyone, including the airlines, believes that people have the right to be rude.

Getting the “High” Out of Higher Education

posted by Linda Mintle

There is a huge pile of college gear sitting on my living room floor. In two weeks, my daughter begins her freshman year. College is definitely on my mind which is why my eye caught an article in the Wall Street Journal this morning. The article is entitled Campus Life 101: Staying Sober and addresses the growing problem of substance abuse on college campuses. The focus of the article was on the efforts of a few major universities establishing substance abuse recovery programs.

According to the article, students ages 18-24 are the fastest growing demographic of Americans seeking treatment for substance abuse. The highest use of alcohol (five or more drinks on five or more occasions within a month) are Americans ages 20-22 at college campuses. During the first decade of the millennium, students seeking substance abuse help more than doubled  compared with older Americans (SAMHSA). One consequence of increased substance abuse on campuses is increasing drop out rates due to addiction.

Bottom line, college is a difficult place to stay sober. The idea of a developing a recovery community on campuses is a positive move, but my concern is that colleges are addressing symptoms not causes. To tackle the problem, one has to look at the causes of increased substance abuse and fix those.

Here are 10 underlying issues that come to mind:

1) President Emeritus, Donald Harward, of Bates College in Maine believes that substance abuse is a symptom of students not being engaged in academic or civil life on campus.

2) Surveys indicate that students use substances to relax, deal with stress or escape problems.

3) The college environment promotes drinking behaviors (NIAAA).

4) Many college students believe that their peers drink more than they actually do. The belief that “everyone is doing it” and drinking is acceptable leads to increased use (NIAAA).

5) Movies about college glorify drinking and partying as if these are a right of passage (National Lampoon’s Animal House, Old School, etc).

6) Media, in general, glorifies drinking and escaping through substances.

7) Substance abuse can be prompted by poor coping skills when it comes to handling academic pressure.

8) Students who have difficulty adjusting to transitions, leaving home and balancing social and academic life are at risk for substance abuse.

9) College administrators have given up trying to control their communities and take a “hands off” approach.

10) Students who have untreated mental health issues like depression and anxiety can medicate through substances.

While I applaud the few universities trying to address treatment of substance abuse problems on their campuses, the real need is to address the underlying causes. In order to take the “high” out of higher education, we have to address the social, emotional and spiritual problems that lead a person to escape and avoid through substance abuse.

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