Posts filed under ‘Other’


Jos juttuun olisi vielä saanut linkin tänne tai Monkeyfoodiin… 😉

Meri Pekkanen, 32: vatsaoireet helpottivat kivikauden ruokavaliolla.

June 26, 2011 at 17:31 Leave a comment

Prevent European ban on herbs

Edit: seems that I’m a bit late with this and it might not be as bad as it sounds. Still, I’m not taking any risks. You are free to do your own choices. And IF someone has any additional information re: the directive/its state, please share!

Directive from the European Union is going to prohibit the use of numerous medicinal remedies made from plants including herbs that are part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. The directive  (Traditional Medicinal Herbal Products Directive) will come into force on the 30th of April, 2011. If you wish to be able to use natural herbs as a part of treatment in the future, act now.

It’s possible that the site is a scam but I won’t be taking any risks of making that kind of directive possible. Please be careful and consider how you’re going to allow your email address being used while signing the petition.

Forbidden healing – Natural Plant Remedies the EU and Big Pharmas won’t let you have

The site has a roughly 10 minute video about the directive and the aim of this petition.


April 20, 2011 at 20:45 Leave a comment

EMDR (trauma therapy): My Experience, Part Two

EMDR (trauma therapy): My Experience, Part One

As I explained in my previous post, I got these weird symptoms after being in a bike accident. The symptoms turned out to be something called post-traumatic stress reaction. I felt better already after realizing what was going on and the symptoms were relieved. Still after one and a half year I wasn’t totally rid of them; I still felt like being overly alert. I was still anxious in a way that I hadn’t been before and I still sometimes had the most surreal feeling.

I decided, that as a therapist, I must be willing to try therapy at least once in my life. Best case scenario, it would help, worst case, I would still be better able to put myself into my client’s shoes.

I searched down a trauma therapist with the qualification to do EMDR (Eye Movement De-sensitizing and Reprocessing) and we settled an appointment.

1. Appointment

When I went to see my therapist (don’t I just sound so American!) the session lasted 45 minutes. Within that time the therapist fully interviewed me on what happened in the accident and how my life was now. Already after this first visit I felt incredibly good and happy leaving the place. It’s a totally different gig talking about issues to a stranger, better yet, to a professional, than to friends and family, which naturally are equally important. Just different.

2. Appointment

The second time we also had 45 minutes session. This time we got into more detail about the accident and my feelings and symptoms related to it. She made an assessment about my stress level and concluded, that I still did have post-traumatic stress. Hearing that was relieving. I also realized several things about myself and my life which was valuable.

3. Appointment

The third time was settled double the length (1,5 h) to perform the actual EMDR therapy as I had requested. First I had to come up with a “safe place”: an image of a place, where I could “go” if the situation got hard to deal with. My safe place would naturally be a rock island, me laying there in the sun, waves going back and forth, seagulls screaming.

Before starting the therapist came to sit in front of me. She told me that whenever I might feel too anxious or wanted to stop, I could say so. The work began with me focusing on the one image of the accident that first comes to my mind thinking of it and sort of symbolized the event. She moved her hand in front of me and I had to follow the hand with my gaze. After awhile she asked whether any feelings were arising or did I feel anything in my body. I tried to describe the feelings and/or bodily sensations as accurately as possible.

She then advised me to concentrate on the feeling/bodily sensation that had risen and continued making the hand movements. This went on and on as my feelings developed from guilt to fear to relief. In the beginning I felt mostly like crying and described a lump in my throat. Then my neck felt stiff as it would when getting ready to crash with the bike. Finally the top most feeling was happiness and I started smiling and laughing. I no longer felt the lump or need to cry but I felt light and happy. The picture of the crash we started with was now a distant and cartoon like, not realistic. I got rid of my guilt. Also, I was free to learn my lesson; I have to be careful in the traffic.

After the EMDR work we had a short chat about the process and agreed on one final meeting in May to just check upon things.

Because I’ve only got this one experience and it was my first time in therapy I really couldn’t say whether it would’ve helped just to talk about the accident. Still I feel, that using EMDR helped focusing on the exact event and the exact reactions the accident provoked and hence helped me to get past the feeling that I should’ve done something myself to prevent it from happening. The change in my mind was a lot quicker than I had expected and I was amazed how well it “worked”. Seriously: the memory and the thoughts in my mind were different.

As a disclaimer I must mention that the therapist said that EMDR works pretty well in these kind of situations when the traumatizing event is “limited”. If it turns out that the person has a lot of baggage besides the one traumatizing experience EMDR might not be the right form of therapy.

If you have an experience regarding EMDR or other therapy, please share it in the comments section.

April 6, 2011 at 18:41 Leave a comment

EMDR (trauma therapy): My Experience, Part One

It was years ago when I first read about this wicked sounding new method EMDR (Eye movement de-sensitizing and re-processing) from David  Servan Schreiber’s book Healing without Freud and Prozac. Back then I just thought that the idea of re-processing traumatic memories via eye movement was super interesting and somehow made sense. And so the story goes that one gets a chance to try the intriguing method on herself. NOTE: I’m not telling this to dwell on self-pity. I’m telling this to make other people recognize if they are going trough something similar and to encourage people to get help.

It all started back in the summer of 2009. After work I hopped on my bike around 3:40 pm started cycling towards home.  Almost the whole route is via bicycle road so it’s not too stressful.

I saw a pick up truck waiting to pass the bicycle road to drive to Kivinokka. Other cyclists were driving past the stopped vehicle. I had just accelerated my speed and was about to pass the pick up. But no: the driver somehow missed me and drove just in front of me causing me to inevitably crash into his car. I remember thinking I’M GONNA CRASH and starting to reach for the hand break. Too late, of course.

I hit the pick up hard and crashed against my bike and the car. I flew in the air and everything seemed to happen in slow motion. Finally I landed. On my feet. It was miraculous! I had no idea about my air acrobatics and I just stood there wondering am I really still alive? I still have all my limbs? Is this real? Am I not brain-damaged or paralyzed (the benefits of being an occupational therapist include knowing EVERY POSSIBLE thing that can go wrong)?

My bike was under the front tire, totally crushed. A cyclist following me on the road had stopped and tried asking me whether I was okay. He said to witness the happening if needed. I tried to think clearly and asked for the driver’s contact information. He gave me his business card. His name was Dick.

The cyclist gave his name and phone number. I started walking towards the closest metro station in Kulosaari with the twister bike, my left leg and arm bruised from collapsing into my bike and the car. I felt unreal. I thought to call to my mom but my family was in Greece. I called to my boyfriend and burst out crying, trying to tell what happened. I manage to walk the kilometer to the metro station and get into a train. I kept bursting into uncontrollable tears.

I remember thinking: my bike is broken, I gotta get it fixed. So I took it to the bike repair in Sörnäinen. While leaving my ruined bike there and still bursting into tears, no one asked me whether I was okay or what happened. They just promised to fix the bike though it would cost a lot o money.

I walked home, still bruised and trying not to cry. I took the dog out and after awhile left to meet a colleague for dinner. I told her everything and she was flabbergasted. It was her that started suggesting that maybe I should see a doctor. So we made a plan that I’m going to a pharmacy to see whether they would have anything to my wounds. I walked into a pharmacy and the lady there was in horror about my condition. She told me “you’ve just been going around the whole day in shock!”. It was her that first realized the accident happened on a way from work so it was work related.

So next morning after cycling to work with my spare bike I went to see a doctor. Painkillers and some liniment for bruises. The doctor suggested that I would report the driver to the police. I tried and visited the police station. As I found out later, the policeman hadn’t done a report. After a year Dick paid the costs for my bike repair and iPod plugs from his company’s account.

Meanwhile I was still a bit shocked but thought I managed with a little damage. It wasn’t until three or so weeks after the event I started to feel weird. I experienced for example the following:

  • feeling unreal: am I really here? Do I really exist?
  • thought I just barely missed dying several times a day while cycling
  • afraid of all the parked cars to drive in front of me
  • sudden physical alert reactions: heart beating fast, feeling panicked
  • felt hopeless for the first time in my life; I even thought I could as well die
  • bursts into crying over nothing or the world’s hungry, hurt or dying people
  • easily irritated and unhappy

I was getting very anxious about my situation. I couldn’t figure out what was happening to me and I most certainly didn’t put all these things together but “treated” them as separate symptoms. I was very, very sad for feeling depressed and I thought I’m never gonna be  myself again.

I remember particularly well my boyfriend’s friend’s birthday at a Russian restaurant (Cheers, Pekka!): during the dinner I felt couple of times SO BAD that I thought I just have to leave immediately. The feeling came without no apparent reason. I had to fight hard not to cry. And everybody around me was witty and happy and the food was excellent… Still I felt I could barely exist.

Finally it dawned on my mom. Could it be a post-traumatic stress reaction? Suddenly everything started to add up. I felt relieved. After the realization the symptoms got a bit better and I would say in a year they got significantly less disturbing. They didn’t totally disappear though, so in the beginning of this year I decided to do something about it. I searched for an EMDR trauma therapist. More on that in the Part Two. To be continued…

March 26, 2011 at 16:24 1 comment

What’s up with Valkee

So. In November I wrote about using Valkee, the Finnish earlight innovation to help manage through the dark season of the year. I had then used Valkee for two weeks and the results were convincing, tho, naturally, subjective. But as I’m the subject and I find it works, I’m happy.

Previous Valkee article: Valkee – light up your brain

People have been asking whether I still use Valkee and whether I still find it recommendable. Well, here’s a little brief about the current situation.

How long have you been using Valkee?

I’ve used it since the end of October, over three months now. First I did it for 12 minutes per day, now I’ve been doing it for 8 minutes per day

Has there been any changes after the initial (positive) impact it had on your energy levels and mood?

Well not much. After the first week of using it I had some troubles waking up too early but that solved quickly as I started to sleep until my usual 5:50 AM. I haven’t experienced the absolute total exhaustion I’ve had in the past after the darkest months. I’ve been sleeping mostly okay despite some work related  stress (just busy) but had some stress provoked wake ups and nightmares. Still, I haven’t been sleepy during the days.

Have you experimented dropping Valkee for a awhile and if, were there any noticeable effects?

I have. I went almost two weeks without Valkee. The period didn’t have a major impact on my energy or mood, but it did have some. I started to get more tired and I was more easily irritated. After going back on using Valkee I felt my mood brighten up and really, I haven’t been tired in the sense I was before in the time of the polar night (as they seem to call kaamos). Of course I’m still tired after a rough day at work and hobbies but that’s different kind of fatigue.

Would you still recommend Valkee?

I would. It’s important to notice that the research is just preliminary and we’re going to have to wait for some more serious data but I feel that for me Valkee has been beneficial. It’s more effective than the normal bright light and I feel I don’t need to use the normal one anymore.

Are you going to continue using Valkee?

Yeps, I’m not giving up before the sun comes up when I wake. Now the sun rises in Helsinki 8:24 AM. There are still two and a half hours to go. Hurry up, sun, my beloved friend!

If you have any questions related to Valkee, please post them in comments. I’m happy to share my (very subjective and unscientific) opinions on the matter.

February 6, 2011 at 11:44 6 comments

Start by smiling

Loving-Kindness is my Religion.” – Dalai Lama.

Sit in silence and smile.” – Ketut Liyer‘s guide to meditation (Ketut is a Balinese witch doctor appearing in the book Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert which is based in reality)

Smile to yourselves.” My pilates teacher yesterday in the end of the lesson at Yoga school Shanti.

An Italian teacher had wondered why Finns get so unhappy when a bus is a little late. When the bus is a half an hour late in Italy, everybody just waits relaxed and when the bus finally arrives, they applaud.

Might be worth trying to see the funny side of life? It does not make bad things worse.

And telling “the truth” or being critical is no excuse for being rude. Why not try being kind to yourself and everybody around you – the whole next year? You can start by smiling.

Have the kindest year 2011!


December 29, 2010 at 11:17 Leave a comment

Tetris – a poor girl’s EMDR?

A recently done study at the Oxford University revealed that playing tetris after a traumatic event may reduce the amount of flashbacks after the event. Flashbacks are a common part of a post-traumatic stress disorder which might follow witnessing or participating in an traumatic event.The idea is based on the fact that occupying in an visually orientated activity prevents or reduces the forming of visual images of the trauma itself.

I got myself some first hand experience regarding this in July 2009 when a car hit me and my bike. I ended up summersaulting in the air but landed on my feet just badly bruised so I was “okay”. Or so I thought.

Little did I know that taking the bike to repair and going to the doctor wasn’t the end of it. Some weeks after the event I started to feel really weird. I had these sudden fear attacks and my heart was beating like mad. When I was riding my bike I thought I was constantly just millimetres away from dying in an crash. I felt surreal and outsider and hopeless. Never before in my life I had given up hope for the world to change for the better. Now I did. I also started to burst into cry every now and then. I even considered the final solution of ending it all tho I’d never, ever would’ve done that before. Overall I felt so bad, irritated and anxious and depressed that I couldn’t but wonder had I totally changed as a person.

Finally it was my mom who realized that it might be a post-traumatic stress disorder I was having. That realization was the key to me getting better, bit by bit. I have to say, it took almost a year before I could say I was alright. And still I sometimes wonder whether it left me some permanent marks.

It’s probably too late for me playing Tetris but I’m trying it anyway. While I play, we shall see how the applications utilizing this knowledge develop for the best of all traumatized people. And yes, the headline is just my personal association to the EMDR (Eye movement de-sensitization and reprocessing) therapy.

December 4, 2010 at 17:24 Leave a comment

Valkee – light up your brain

Let there be light!

Valkee, a bright light headset, is a Finnish innovation aiming to fight the yearly exhaustion and depression due to the dark season. The preliminary research has been more than promising: nine out of ten people experienced total relief of symptoms. The clinical research has been done in the University of Oulu, Finland, and the results, as mentioned, have been phenomenal. Valkee has been studied since 2008 and is now available in Finland.

The device itself is like a mini radio with earplugs. The daily treatment takes only from 8 to 12 minutes and is painless and easy. The bright light goes straight to brain (the skull is the thinnest in the ear canal) and therefore is more effective than, say, bright light treatment done by the traditional bright lights. And by my own experience, it really is. I’m a devoted owner of both the table bright light and the “dawning light” which wakes me up in the morning by a gradually enhancing light. I love them both but neither of them has had this big of an impact in my energy and mood. I’ve also noticed my attention span is longer than in awhile (way beyond the average gold fish which is what – 3 seconds?).

I was lucky to get to test this wondrous device. After two weeks of using Valkee daily for 12 minutes I’ve been transformed. I actually just recently (3 weeks ago) donated blood and my hemoglobin was quite low. Donating blood lowers it even further and I’ve always had some difficulties dealing with low hemoglobin. I’ve been sleepy and very, very tired. After starting the use of Valkee the fatigue has stepped aside and I’m back to my normal happy, excited and energetic self. Feels SO good, it’s a huge relief. And while I can’t be sure whether it’s just Valkee or other things (such as lifestyle factors and supplements) I have to say, the hemoglobin issue never resolves this quickly.

The daily treatment time has to be examined experimentally by every individual. I’ve for example had some difficulties sleeping long enough. I go to bed at 9 or 10pm and normally wake up at 5:45. After using Valkee I’ve started to wake up already at 4:45 so now I’m working on taking the treatment a bit later in the day, at 9am. But even if the light wakes me up at such an early hour I wouldn’t ditch it. I adore this feeling of energy and focus. Of course, to see if there’s really anything to it I’m gonna have to live without it for awhile to see, how that impacts my mood and energy.

...and the lightness came.

I’ll continue reporting on my experience with Valkee. Based on my humble experience I’d already suggest to get your own, if you have issues with the dark side. It’s quite pricey (189 euros in the Pharmacy of the University) but I’m sure the price’ll come down once it gets more common. Also, it’s a cheap price for sanity and improved quality of life. Still, the toughest part is yet to come: the fall’s easy for me compared to the beginning of spring. My personal low sets in January and lasts until the end of March, approximately. Let’s see if the year 2011 is finally different and I don’t have to move from  Finland after all.

Hopefully there are many researches yet to reveal the truth about Valkee. While waiting, I’m going to be enjoying this internal sunshine.

Find out more about Valkee in Finnish.

Find out more about Valkee in English.

November 6, 2010 at 16:34 28 comments

Qi Gong ie. Meri learns to meditate

I participated a Qi Gong (Chi Kung) course last weekend, six hours all together, on Saturday and Sunday. Boy did I not know what I had committed to! But if I did, I would have skipped it so let’s just say, all developing happens outside the comfort zone. I thought it was something similar to yoga but NO. More like meditation while moving. Or meditation while standing still. Eyes closed. Horror.

I’ve always been seriously limited what it comes to being quiet and trying emptying the head from the usual mind buzz. As it appears, my low blood pressure, standing still with eyes closed and breathing super calmly equals feeling faint and losing vision. Not a nice combo but definitely one that makes one grow out of the usual level of performance. Have to admit, I’ve never gotten so close to a complete emptiness and silence of mind, at least when I’ve been trying. Sometimes it just happens doing something, like the flow phenomenon, but that’s a different story.

The Qi Gong teacher, Jarko Savonen, is an occupational therapist like myself. He’s been teaching and practicing Qi Gong even before his OT training and has carried on, tho now he also lectures as an OT. Since I’ve been combining some other areas of expertise (such as nutrition) in my own OT profession I find it interesting to meet other OTs who have expanded the limits. Like many great inventions in the world have shown, it’s beneficial when people start to reach over from their own professional expertise into stuff that passionately interests them. They come up with extraordinary ideas.

Anyway, this Qi Gong thing wasn’t really something that I’d start doing on daily basis, but it most certainly showed and proved me my ability to meditate. Reaching the state just requires a whole lotta more than I’m ready to invest so far… And be it Qi Gong, mindfulness or yoga, I really need to take action in moving towards a less stressful lifestyle. Well, luckily I already manage to sleep 8-9 hours per night, that’s a start!

March 27, 2010 at 15:48 2 comments

Rehabilitation Seminar, Day I (notes to self)

Today was the first day of the two day National Rehabilitation Seminar here in Helsinki. The event is hosted by The Rehabilitation Foundation. The theme for this year’s seminar is rehabilitation partnership and participation. Here are some notes and thoughts that caught my attention today.

  • the early retirement (mostly due to illnesses and/or disabilities) costs 24 000 000 000 euros per year
  • from these a growing number is under 34 years old raising their share from 4,8 billion to 6,6 billion within the last six years
  • early retirement caused by clinical depression has risen from 4,4 billion to 6,6 billion


The outcome of a work community = The Will x The Ability x The Conditions. If either one of these is zero, the outcome is zero. Will includes attitude and motivation, ability includes competence, experience and tendencies, conditions includes leadership, leading, team-work, culture, structure, systems and the functional processes.

Productivity, innovation and the quality of work-life create outcome. The economical, human, social and ecological sustainability must be considered.

Money is a secondary motivation for working: meaningful activity, work mates and reputation and respect mean more. The lack of motivation to work isn’t the problem with unemployed people. According to Marie Jahoda The psychosocial or latent function of employment include:

  • time structure
  • social context
  • participation in collective purposes
  • regular activity
  • provided status and identity

Juho Saari talked about perceived welfare and the politics of social possibilities. This approach would in a research look for the reasons why some group of people is succeeding instead of looking at the problems they’re facing to gather knowledge how to able other people from the same group to participate in the society.

He also talked about happiness and how the institutionalized structures define happiness (according to surveys Finns are among the happiest people in the world). Perceived welfare is relative: you might be perfectly happy until you see someone else is doing better. The single most significant factor contributing happiness is the perceived sense of inequality. Also the research (World Value Survey 1981-2000) shows that people who participate in volunteer work are the happiest! (I do.) Other factors are balanced time management (not too much activity, not too little), positive expectations for future and trust.

To increase happiness we should:

  • increase (perceived) equality
  • enable more volunteer work and to support associations
  • organize better daycare and free time for family carers (omaishoitajat)
  • cherish the trust in the government
  • create positive expectations for future, to keep up hope

Is increasing happiness as a goal for politics conflicting with the financial goals?

Liisa Björklund from Diakonissalaitos presented the capability approach (by Nussbaum and Sen) in her philosophical and passionate introduction to human conditions for functioning. She stated that the paradigm is shifting from Rawls’ “veil of ignorance” to a more dynamic view on participation. She had some excellent quotes such as this:

Human rights are the moral state in which the person is able to act in a community and to take care of her duties. (Jaana Hallamaa) Human rights are being fullfilled when in use, not given. Already Aristoteles has said that a person wants to participate in the life of her community within her own abilities and skills.

Erkki Kemppainen from THL (The National Institute for Health and Welfare) defined rehabilitation as enabling and encouraging participation in unrestrained environment. Janne Jalava stated that the survival or well-being of a person in rehabilitation should not be evaluated based on discrimination rhetoric.

March 18, 2010 at 21:47 Leave a comment

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