I speak a lot about mental health because it is something that fascinates me. It is also something that has hit very close to home over the past few years, knowing friends, family and myself included who have all been subject or struggled with some form of mental health disease or challenge.
If I had to pin point one area that always seems to either be the cause or effect of a mental health issues it would have to be memory. I remember when my brain was recuperating from my concussion, memory, trying to remember the little things like words… and even why I walked into the other room were effected. Then of course this made me depressed and frustrated. You can also argue that memory has a positive side and when in good health can be used as one of the most successful ways to overcome mental health issues, eating disorders, anxiety.… The practice of remembering that last time this happened everything was okay. Or remembering that you want to chose healthy. Remembering what your most confided in therapist, friend or family member would say even if she is not there. Memory loss or frustration can also be one of the biggest stems of mental health issues like depression. Take for example Alzheimer's Disease which in fact does not qualify as a mental illness, but it can cause symptoms related to mental health, such as depression, anxiety, agitation, and hallucinations.
I believe that fitness and physical health play such a big role in how our mental health thrives. What we eat and how we eat ultimately build our cells that either welcome or inhibit the growth of disease and infection. There is a ton of research that shows us foods that can help prevent and reverse some of these signs of disease. While overcoming my own brain trauma and recovery, I had the ability to research a lot about brain health and what to eat to recover and prevent illness.
I had a concussion. Which caused confusion and memory loss. Leading to short term depression and anxiety due to the blur that was passing through my mind constantly. The fog you survive in. I am still overcoming some of these symptoms that now arise mostly from lack of spacial awareness and grounding… ultimately motion sickness.
Alzheimers disease is one very near to my heart. Also relative to memory loss. Also causing Depression. Frustration. Agitation. Hallucination.
My grandmother passed away from Alzheimers over a year ago. She suffered with the disease for what seems like a life time, but probably more like 10 years, progressing slowly since early development. Most of my adult life. For the beginning she was always forgetting the little things, repeating herself, mistaking one person for another until the ultimate climax where her body eventually forgets how to live. The frustration of the forgetfulness and the diseases impact brought her mental health issues like agitation and depression, especially in the later years.
When my grandma passed away I was the only person here in Montreal. I remember that day so well. You build a strong family and a strong network for the reason that when tragic things happen you will not be alone. You don't have to face your mind alone. You will have your parents, siblings, cousins, friends, significant other and so on by your side. For some reason the timing fell on a day when EVERYONE and I really mean all of them, were away. I felt really alone. I felt selfish that I felt alone. And that I didn't know what to do. But then a realized that beyond me, this was how every person suffering with the disease felt. How my grandmother had felt for years struggling mentally and physically alone. Every single victim of the disease feels lost as they slowly forget their support team, their education, their moments that have made up their lives. My mom never left her, even when she forgot who people were, even when she forgot how to speak. My mom knew that the love of being by someones side meant more than the mental ability to understand someone being there. She knew that the little expressions of love went beyond that and possibly into another life, into better karma and better energy.
My mom is an incredible woman. She got into the art gallery world because it helped her find a way to share and preserve memories through the visual arts. I did the same with photography at a very young age. I remember the day I got my first camera and I was so obsessed with taking pictures and sharing them with everyone to so they would remember the trip/event/night.
As my mom’s love for art and her struggle in coping with my grandmother’s growing illness grew, my mom Marina Cutler of Avenue Art Mtl made it her mission and “karma” project to work towards funding art based programs helping those suffering with Alzheimer's cope. Visual art has a beautiful way of stimulating memory as you work through what each visual conception means to you. From colour to figure. I remember how we would always colour with my grandma when we would visit her in her later years. She loved to just watch towards the end even when her colouring ability was no longer there.
Alzheimers has affected 5.5 million Americans this year. It is the 6th leading cause of death, killing more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. It may be something that is affecting the older generation, but now with chemicals, poor eating and more negative mental health habits we are seeing younger and younger people diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's. There is never a time too early to start feeding our brains with healthy brain foods. Foods that prevent the disease and promote brain health.
Foods that help prevent Alzheimers
1. Curry or Turmeric
2. Foods with Omega 3 Fatty Acid; such as avocado, and walnuts.
3. Foods with Vitamin C and E; such as broccoli, strawberries, olive oil and almonds.
4. Foods with Flavonoids like apples, blueberries, cranberries, grapefruit, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, kale, garlic, onion, spinach.
5. Foods hight in folate containing b6 and b12.
6. Wine (YUP! WINE!)…. a study showed that drinking up to 3 glasses of wine per day reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by a whopping 75 percent.
What you can do?
Eat healthy foods that feed your brain. Pay attention to your mental health and care for it.
Most recently my mom has been working to make this coming Brush Off Painting Competition in collaboration with PBS an outstanding success. The Brush Off competition is an art competition for emerging artists. Finalist receive monetary awards to further their career. Finalists work will be exposed for an evening along with live music, food, drinks.
The event is Thursday, September 14th, 2017 at WESTMOUNT SQUARE from 6:00 to 9:00 PM and tickets are 75$ going towards funding the art programs for those suffering with Alzheimer's.
Buy tickets or donate below. It would really mean the world to me!