Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Real. Raw. Uncomfortably human.

Category: The Pandemic

Parenting through a pademic

A mother’s need for control in a pandemic

It struck me recently that my daughter is handling the uncertainty of the pandemic much better than I am. She accepts not knowing exactly when the world might return to normal.

When we won’t need masks and hugging will be safe again. She makes peace with the unknowns while I feel simmering anxiety over a pandemic with no clear end in sight. “Mom you just have to deal with it,” she tells me over and over. “You can’t control when things will change.” 

I envy Taylor’s ability to let go of the invisible strings of control while I grasp for them. I suspect this flows from my childhood when I craved stability during constant family turmoil.

My mother abandoned us when I was five, two years later I had a new stepmom and two stepbrothers who my other three brothers, emotionally scarred, viciously battled.

I recall family therapy, lots of screaming and in the end, another divorce. While I always knew my stepmom and father loved me, I also had the sense that any minute my foundation might crumble. Chaos felt inevitable and entirely out of my hands. Read More

The pandemic and depression

2020: The perfect storm for depression.

Depression

Since the pandemic started so many people told me they can’t quite put their finger on how they’ve been feeling.

Anxious, yes. This is a terrifying surreal time. But also a little down. I recently suggested to one of my friends that she might have low-level depression.

It’s this simmering underlying feeling where you’re not exactly miserable but you don’t feel like yourself.

In the early months of lockdown, while some people were baking bread, biking, walking or painting bathrooms to fill the hours, my friend couldn’t motivate herself to do much.

And it’s not that she’s been socially isolated during COVID. She has her family. Nor is she at risk for serious COVID complications or in financial distress. In fact my friend is a million times luckier than most people right now.

She’s not one to wallow in self-pity. She’s grateful for her life and counts her blessings, especially now. And yet she feels blah, unmotivated, a little down and has zero energy.

I think that’s how a lot of people feel right now. There’s also thousands of people struggling with severe depression. The kind of debilitating, soul-crushing despair.

These people are overwhelmed every moment of the day trying to pay their bills and keep their kids from going stir crazy. Then once school started after parents spent weeks wondering whether to send their kids face to face, online or some combination, half the time their kids couldn’t logon to their classes because of some technical problem.

And for some kids who generally don’t do well with virtual learning, homework assignments might now demand more help than either you or your child’s teacher can give right now. Everything feels out of control and in chaos.

People are terrified their aging parents might catch COVID. They’re terrified they might catch COVID, or their husband or their sister on the front line. Widows and senior citizens are falling deeper into social isolation and loneliness.

Eviction seems inevitable for some and for the first time — or maybe again, thoughts of suicide creep in for thousands of people trying to cope.

A recent study from JAMA finds that depression has more than tripled during the pandemic.

Everyone is grieving the loss of someone or something precious right now. I think that’s the inexplicable feeling my friend was feeling. Loss. The loss of normalcy replaced by dread.

Our collective mental health is in serious crisis.

2020 has been the perfect storm for depression. A nightmare of many stressors converging all at one time to beat people down to an emotional and psychological pulp.

– Social isolation
– Grieving a death
– Loneliness
– Fear of COVID based on age and/or underlying health conditions
– Financial distress
– Pre and post-election stress
– Estrangement of a loved one due to the election
– Fears about healthcare
– Seasonal affective disorder

Some people are experiencing all of these right now. Every. Single. One.

So if every morning you find yourself just trying to hang on or you don’t feel like yourself, please consider talking to a mental health counselor.

Of course we can’t compare losing a loved one to “just” feeling a little down, but everyone deserves empathy right now. No matter how seemingly insignificant your pain it’s still pain.

Don’t beat yourself up because others are “suffering so much more than I am right now I have no right to complain.”

Complaining all the time about COVID inconveniences while others suffer isn’t cool. But talking about how you feel emotionally and psychologically because you’re have a tough time is a whole other story. In one way or another, everyone is having a tough time.

Maybe you’re not comfortable seeing a mental health professional in person right now. If that’s the case please consider a telehealth service.

Telehealth mental health resources:

LiveHealthOnline – Psychiatric care
Inpathy – Psychiatric care, medication management, and therapy
Talkspace – Individual therapy, couples therapy, therapy for teens
Betterhelp – Individual, couples, and teen counseling
Regain – Individual and couples counseling focused on relationships
Online-Therapy.com
 – Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT (read more about e-therapy here)
Pride Counseling – Counseling for the LGBTQ community

See: Covid Depression: Prolonged Lockdowns, Political Unrest, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and Holiday Depression Create a Perfect Storm

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4 supplements to strengthen immunity during COVID-19

Of course you already know ten times over that your first lines of defense against COVID-19 are:

  • Social distancing
  • Washing your hands
  • Wearing a mask (yes, science shows they help)
  • Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol

But there’s something else that’s critical.

A strong immune system.

Not enough people talk about this. Certainly not our major health institutions including the CDC, WHO, the NIH, and rarely doctors.

A strong immune system begins with eating a healthy diet, minimizing toxins, getting adequate sleep and exercise, reducing stress (Ha! These days?) and taking science-backed supplements — when appropriate.

I often hear friends and family say they’re taking vitamin C, D Airborne and zinc. All good but it many cases, not enough.

I take COVID-19 very seriously. I also leave the house a lot.

I know this sounds flip and contradictory.

Believe me I’m not arrogant enough to think I’m superwoman. I know I can get sick. I’ve had enough colds, flu and health issues in my life to know I’m anything but invincible. Growing up I got strep pretty regularly.

And since COVID-19 I’ve felt something coming on at least three or four times. I didn’t have a cough or fever but I was run down with a slight scratchy throat and stuffy nose. Just on the cusp of something maybe turning ugly. I slammed down my supplements for a few days and it went away, 100%.

Of course I follow all the CDC precautions when I leave the house but I’ve been out countless times (after lockdown ended in Florida May 1st).  I’m not high risk. I’m 54 and in good health as are my husband and daughter.

But as you know with COVID-19 that’s no guarantee.

Still, in the last five months I’ve been to restaurants, hotels, the gym, bike trails, my hairdresser, nail salons, my eye doctor and primary care physician, numerous stores, malls, several small gatherings with friends, and more recently, a virtually empty movie theater for a much appreciated big screen and popcorn experience with my daughter.

I’ve been tested twice for COVID-19 before I visited my stepmom and had one antibody test. All negative.

So, I have to think either my test results were wrong (certainly possible), I’ve been incredibly lucky or my immune-strengthening supplements have something to do with why I haven’t gotten sick.

I have no way of proving my theory except to say that since I started taking a specialized silver called Argentyn 23 I don’t get sick (or seriously sick).

(Want to cut to the chase? Head to the end of this post)

Argentyn 23 to strengthen your immune system

Argentyn 23 is a unique form of silver. A refined, improved colloidal silver.

Wait, please don’t leave because you read the word “silver” and said oh helllll no, quackery alert.

I felt exactly the same way.

I refused to try any form of silver. Because while I’m heavily into alternative medicine, I didn’t trust gulping back a liquid version of my favorite sterling silver earrings (obviously an exaggeration, no comparison).

But Argentyn 23 is safe, non-toxic and *effective for bacterial and viral infections. It’s a bio-active hydrosol form of silver. In a nutshell this means super small (nano) particles with positively charged ions. This unique molecular makeup makes all the difference.

See: Types of silver and why it matters
See: How Argentyn 23 compares to other silver

I need to say upfront that the FDA just issued a warning to companies claiming their silver products prevent or cure COVID-19.  Dietary supplement companies are prohibited by the FDA from making statements that their products prevent or cure disease.

The company that makes Argentyn 23, Natural Immunogenics, follows FDA guidelines to the T. They don’t claim to “cure or treat” because they’re not allowed to make those claims.

This isn’t a snake-oil company. There’s peer-reviewed science behind Argentyn’s form of silver (see “Research” below).

Silver has long been shown to have antibacterial properties. And in more recent years scientists discovered that silver also has antiviral properties.

It has been reported that silver nanoparticles interact with virus, bacteria, and the immune system…the size, shape and composition of silver nanoparticles can have a significant effect on their efficacy.

Silver Nanoparticles Interactions with the Immune System: Implications for Health and Disease.

The one thing my doctor recommended to prevent colds and flu

A few years ago I asked my integrative MD if she had to pick one supplement to help prevent colds and flu what would it be? I get overwhelmed with all the options and contradictory findings. She said Argentyn 23.

I’d never heard of it and was pretty skeptical. I’d read about some people turning blue (argyria) from talking silver so I wanted nothing to do with it.

But it works and it’s safe. My husband and daughter also started taking Argentyn 23 and these are the last two people on the planet I’d put at risk.

I know my words means nothing without science and safety assurances to back up my claims.

See: Why Argentyn 23 is safe, pure and *effective

The 4 supplements I take religiously when I’m getting sick

I take these the second I feel a scratchy throat. I mean I’ll crawl out of bed half asleep and make myself. Sometimes I still get a cold, but rarely. And if I do get sick my symptoms are less severe and I get over it faster.

The trick is to take these immediately and repeatedly (according to directions) until you feel better (generally 5-10 days depending on severity).

  1. Argentyn 23
  2. Black elderberry syrup  
  3. Vitamin D
  4. Vitamin C

See: 3 Quick Ways to Reduce Anxiety During COVID

Research

Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials

Vitamin D effective for reducing flu and colds: study

Can vitamin C prevent or treat COVID-19? Peer-reviewed studies: antiviral effects of silver

Silver Nanoparticles Interactions with the Immune System: Implications for Health and Disease.

Application of Silver Nanoparticles in Viral Inhibition: A New Hope for Antivirals

Silver Nanoparticles as Potential Antiviral Agents. 

Statement of Argentyn 23 safety by former Science Assistant to the Associate Bureau Director, Division of Toxicology, US FDA.

Antiviral effects of nano colloidal silver, water catholyte, oxidal with methylene blue. possible effects of influence over coronavirus SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2

 Nanoparticle-based antimicrobial paper as spread-breaker for corona virus

Inhibitory effect of silver nanomaterials on transmissible virus-induced host cell infections

Efficiency of silver nanoparticle against virus coronaviruses

Application of nanomaterials in treatment, anti-infection and detection of coronaviruses

Could silver nano-particles control the 2019-nCoV virus?; An urgent glance to the past

Glutathione-Capped Ag2S Nanoclusters Inhibit Coronavirus Proliferation through Blockage of Viral RNA Synthesis and Budding

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Mask shaming

Masks work. Shaming doesn’t.

Surprise, surprise, wearing a mask has turned political.

It was only a matter of time when masks became a symbol of either forced conformity or deference to science.

My sense is that most people favor wearing masks. Pro maskers are posting charts and personal pleas to please cover-up.

While a vocal minority are upset that their personal freedoms are under attack. They’re also worried that if the government makes masks mandatory, the assault on freedom won’t stop there (e.g. forced vaccines).

But masks work. They’re not foolproof but they help.

This review of 172 studies across 16 countries and 6 countries is pretty convincing.

These data also suggest that wearing face masks protects people (both health-care workers and the general public) against infection by these coronaviruses.

Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID -19: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Believe me, I don’t want to wear one.

Does anyone? They’re hot, mildly suffocating and they hide my summer pink lipstick.

They also hide when I smile at a random stranger or the hardworking sales clerk across the aisle. The latter just happened to me yesterday.

I smiled at this clerk then thought, well that’s stupid. So I said “hi” instead. We’re an expressionless society right now except for the glimmer of empathy in our eyes as we pass a fellow masker.

But I wear a mask anyway. And not because I’m scared.

I haven’t been scared of contracting COVID or getting seriously ill since day one. No I don’t think I’m blessed with extraordinary Godly protection or have superpowers.

I’m healthy and under 65.

And my husband and daughter are healthy and under 65. Also we’re fanatics about boosting our immune system. Especially now. So if any one of us caught COVID while I’m reasonably sure it wouldn’t be a picnic, it probably wouldn’t be serious.

So wearing a mask isn’t about me or my immediate family.

It’s about others.

It’s about getting this superbly contagious virus under control for the sake of those at risk and our potentially overwhelmed healthcare system.

That’s it. That’s the reason to wear a mask.

Even if you don’t believe the science. The mere act of wearing one tells your fellow man, I got you.

But no way am I going to shame you on social media or give you the stink eye if your face isn’t covered. As one of my good friends sums it up, “you do you.”

I mean I strolled an (almost empty) mall the other day without a mask. But you won’t catch me in the essential or crowded stores bare-faced.

So instead of citizen shaming I’d like to see our local, state and national officials regularly encourage citizens and businesses to cover up.

Flood the public with service announcements until more people change their behavior (Temporarily. I mean, I’ll never be on board with becoming a mask-wearing society. Nor will I give up hugging and handshakes).

Shaming friends, family, neighbors or strangers on social media and in-person won’t work. If anything people will double down and 100% refuse. It’s what we humans do.

We vehemently defend our convictions. Especially in a time of political divide so heated that I’m not sure we’ll ever return to a time when partisanship was mostly civil.

So please wear a mask. Thank you.

More: The role of community-wide wearing of face mask for control of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic due to SARS-CoV-2

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Past research suggests melatonin may help coronavirus treatments

Homemade Liposomal Melatonin for Sleep and Brain Detoxification by ...
Melatonin is naturally produced in the brain at night

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the brain’s pineal gland in response to nightfall. As we age our levels drop. Melatonin supplements are often used as sleep aids.

Side note: I’ve never had success taking melatonin by itself for my adrenal-related sleep issues. Melatonin isn’t really a sleep aid or sedative. It helps the body regulate a disrupted circadian rhythm (involved in sleep). This is why it’s useful for jet leg. But two months ago I decided to test adding 6mg (rather than my usual 3mg) to my sleep supplement regime. The higher dose worked like a charm.

A couple weeks ago I was researching evidence-based natural treatments for viruses and I found this March 2020 analysis:

COVID-19: Melatonin as a potential adjuvant treatment

Previous research has documented the positive effects of melatonin in alleviating acute respiratory stress induced by virus, bacteria, radiation, etc. [1,2,3].

Herein, we review the evidence indicating that melatonin will have supportive adjuvant (assisting in) utility in treating COVID-19 induced pneumonia, acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

COVID-19: Melatonin as a potential adjuvant treatment

That got my attention.

Also my holistic MD regularly recommends that her older patients take melatonin at night, not only to regulate sleep disruption but for its important health benefits.

Because in addition to regulating a disrupted sleep cycle (e.g. jet lag), melatonin has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, immune assisting and indirect anti-viral properties. All of which may be useful for respiratory illnesses and viral infections such as COVID-19.

See: “Studies Show Melatonin May Help Fight the Coronavirus.

Benefits of melatonin

Melatonin reduces inflammation, which can contribute to the respiratory failure and other systemic effects of the illness.

Melatonin supports the body’s cells, by promoting the growth of cells under normal circumstances. Discretionary actions of melatonin allow it to benefit normal cells and tissues while supporting the body’s defenses against pathological cells and tissues.

In addition, research found evidence that melatonin appears to stop apoptosis — a process in which cells infected with a virus actually kill themselves in an attempt to stop the spread of a disease. Although this apoptosis response can be helpful in some diseases, it can cause even more misery in some illnesses such as coronavirus.

Melatonin is known to stimulate the immune system. Although it does not directly attack viruses, it helps our body’s own defenses to act more efficiently. This can lead to fewer symptoms and ultimately a better chance of surviving this feared disease.

It’s too soon to say whether melatonin might be a useful addition to COVID-19 treatments. But based on earlier research that found melatonin was beneficial for respiratory illnesses that have similar responses as COVID-19 (excessive inflammation, depressed immune system and a cytokine storm) it looks promising.

References:

  1. Wu, H. Ji, Y. Wang, C. Gu, W. Gu, L. Hu, L. ZhuMelatonin alleviates radiation-induced lung injury via regulation of miR-30e/NLRP3 axis Oxidative Med. Cell. Longev., 2019 (2019), p. 4087298. 
  • H.-K. Yip, Y.-C. Chang, C.G. Wallace, L.-T. Chang, T.-H. Tsai, Y.-L. Chen, H.-W. Chang, S. Leu, Y.-Y. Zhen, C.-Y. Tsai, K.-H. Yeh, C.-K. Sun, C.-H. Yen. Melatonin treatment improves adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cell therapy for acute lung ischemia-reperfusion injury J. Pineal Res., 54 (2013), pp. 207-221.
  • S.-H. Huang, X.-J. Cao, W. Liu, X.-Y. Shi, W. WeiInhibitory effect of melatonin on lung oxidative stress induced by respiratory syncytial virus infection in mice J. Pineal Res., 48 (2010), pp. 109-116. 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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3 quick ways to reduce anxiety during the coronavirus

This pandemic is messing with our minds. Fear and uncertainty. The constant doomsday data. The sense of loss. Our daily routine out of whack. Every day blends into the next.

Faces covered in masks makes the world feel like we’re facing the end-of-times. Although our rational mind knows that this too shall pass, nothing feels rational right now.

This morning I saw a woman in her 60’s walking her dog across the street from my house. She had a mask on and was at least 20 feet away.

As she walked by she kept her head down. I was just about to say hello but I could tell by how fast and focused she walked that she didn’t want to interact. It was almost as if she thought that if she caught my eye this might encourage me to ignore social distancing and mosey on over for a chat.

But this hasn’t been most of my experience. If anything neighbors and strangers are even friendlier (from a distance). Yet it struck me that this woman was probably so genuinely terrified that I might get too close that she panicked and averted her eyes.

It’s all very unsettling. Basic politeness replaced by fear.

So until this nightmare is over what little things can we do to feel better?

First, limit how much time you spend listening to the news. And make sure what news you do follow is accurate. Steer clear of obsessing over rumors.

And — make it a habit to do these as often as possible:

Get grounded

Heh? All this means is to walk barefoot outside in the grass (or sand or dirt) for a few minutes a day.

I know this probably sounds very woo-hoo. But besides the pure joy of being outdoors there’s science behind the health benefits of walking barefoot, otherwise known as “grounding” or “earthing.”

Here’s why: When you walk barefoot on porous surfaces (dirt, sand) you connect to the Earth’s vast supply of electrons. This in turn creates physical changes in the body. Grounding has been shown to improve sleep, pain and stress.

Emerging scientific research has revealed a surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health: direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth. Modern lifestyle separates humans from such contact. The research suggests that this disconnect may be a major contributor to physiological dysfunction and unwellness.

Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S. T., Oschman, J. L., Sokal, K., & Sokal, P. (2012). Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth’s surface electrons. Journal of environmental and public health.

So take a few minutes every day to shuffle barefoot through your grass. Don’t worry if you look ridiculous. Your neighbors just might want to join you (from their own yard).

(For more on the benefits of grounding/earthing.)

Get a little sunshine

You know how you feel blissed when you lay in the sun? Well it’s not just the soothing radiant warmth. Sunshine actually boosts mood. I’m not suggesting you bask for hours. But if possible, get a few rays on your arms and legs every day.

It turns out low levels of the brain chemical serotonin (involved in mood, focus and sleep) have been associated with low sun exposure. The right balance of sun exposure (5 to 15 minutes) has been found to boost mood.

The light-induced effects of serotonin are triggered by sunlight that goes in through the eye. Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin. So, you’re more likely to experience this type of depression in the winter time, when the days are shorter.

Nall, Rachel, RN, BSN, CCRN. “What are the benefits of sunlight?” May 25, 2018. www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight

Laugh (often)

If I don’t laugh I’ll cry. And laughter is the best medicine.

Cliches aside now’s not the time to binge on shows about murder, zombie takeovers, virus invasions or the end of times. Unless of course these apocalyptic shows help you escape from coronavirus anxiety.

From Mayo Clinic’s “Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke.” The benefits of laughter:

Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.

Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.

Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.

Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.

Funniest shows on Netflix right now

Larry David, master curmudgeon, tells everyone to stay home

Image credit: Antonino Visalli

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