Friday, May 4, 2012

NAMI Camino - BDNF Meets 5K

Exercise and learning new things -- two of the most powerful tools in the Recovery Toolbox.  They came together in my NAMI Camino, April 28, 2012.

NAMI Walk/NAMI Camino gave you the set up.  NAMI Johnson County held its annual walk/fund-raiser last week, when I was in Costa Rica.  It would be my fourth and last time participating.  But I would be in Costa Rica!  Inspired by the San Diego Walk in 2010, when a battalion in Iraq ran while San Diego walked, I decided to do Johnson County's Walk long distance -- though I would not be running in full battle armor and in the heat of the day.  My extra effort was confined to carrying a laptop to record the event.

With the following results:


So what follows is a series of installments, stopping at each kilometer marker.  This series shows you what you can do with Photo Booth, Youtube, not much skill, and a willingness to experiment.  Everything is reversed, left and right, which won't confuse you unless you are trying to read t-shirts or street signs.


I began, like Thomas Alva Edison began with the lightbulb, by making mistakes.  Be sure you have the captions turned on for the next segment.  They explain what went wrong, and promise that it won't again!



What's happening here?  The stress (not overwhelming stress -- nobody is yelling at me -- rather, the just-right stress of trying to do a good job and having fun) is stimulating my hippocampus to produce Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which helps my neurons build dendrites, which enables new connections inside my brain.  This is called learning.  It is also called healing.

Learning new options, forging new neurological pathways is why therapy works better than medication for preventing relapse, by the way.  Not that you have to choose between them.  Use every tool in that toolbox that works for you!



Helen tells me I reverted to a little girl voice during the 3K segment.  She was continuously miming to me speak louder.  Maybe I'll write about the volcanic rocks another time.  It's a story about loss.  I gave up my hiking goal the same time I was giving up career goals.  A tender place, this end of the beach.  Maybe that's why I don't walk to this end very often anymore.



The barriers that prevent cars from entering the beach are all covered with works of art -- another tool in the recovery toolbox, by the way.



My Costa Rica home.



Every once in a while, I hear that Prozac Monologues has made a difference to somebody with a mental illness, or somebody who loves him/her.  That means the world to me.  It keeps me writing, when it isn't easy to keep writing.  It keeps me going, when it isn't easy to keep going.  NAMI has made a difference to me, has taught and supported me, has kept me going.  That is why I do these walks.  They are how, through you, I can give back to them.

So.  There is still time to support our Camino!  Our fund-raising pages will be active until mid August.

Go to http://www.nami.org/namiwalks12/JCI/willa
or http://www.nami.org/namiwalks12/JCI/Helen
to make a safe, secure, tax-deductible contribution to NAMI's mission of advocacy, education and support.

Muchas Gracias.  Y que Dios bendiga tu camino, tambien.
May God bless your way, as well.

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