Dan Buettner: How To Live to Be 100+ | TED Talk

A Facebook friend brought above video to my attention this afternoon and I treated myself to it over a very late brunch and cuppa Joe. Not too long into it, tears started to roll.

On a gut level I sensed that this kind of lifestyle, the social context in which those people live, the abundant love becoming apparent in Dan Buettner’s presentation of people living in a Blue Zone and why and how their particular lifestyles makes for longevity, health and abundant happiness made me realize that all the healing I’ve been craving and looking for my entire life were right there in front of me! All those vital needs that are hard wired into each and everyone of us, many of which remain unfulfilled to this day in me or were only partially or temporarily met, I’d get to make up for all of those, if I lived in such a place and in such a tribe. Every time I’d go about trying to pinpoint where the pain came from that I’m still dealing with in episodes of depression, substance or food abuse and self-harming behaviours, I arrived at the same conclusion: I need to find a (new) family and make up for years of verbal, emotional, mild physical abuse growing up if I want to stand a chance of becoming whole, more complete. Only then do I get to allocate my energy and gifts on the things I care about and eventually get to evolve my strengths and talents. And with every image flicking across his big screen depicting incredibly vital, strong, happy centenarians, I saw corroboration of this conclusion looking me straight in the face.

Parenthesis

In the fall last year I had finally decided to commit myself after about 10 years of looking for the right institution in hopes that treatment for post-traumatic stress had evolved in those almost three decades since last time I had been committed at age 20-something.

bad groenenbach
Privatklinik Bad Grönenbach

That was true to some extent, but still not on par with my therapeutic needs. So after trying really hard to make this work I eventually decided after long and hard contemplation and quite some and deep conversations with other patients and doctors that I’d need to cut my stay short by one-and-a-half weeks, as the parameters in place were just too brutal on my system, physically speaking. So I released myself on day 18, firmly convinced I had made the right decision and still standing by it. (nonetheless, some hard feelings overwhelmed me on the 1.5 hour drive back – I was almost grateful for that experience as it also meant some release of pent up emotional stress blended in with some natural grief of needing to part ways with some new friends that I’d made there. I’m still talking to one of them; end-of-parenthesis)

Why post this here on this blog in the first place? Well, for one, because after the combined number and nature of my experiences with the health care system here, in particular where it pertains to my diagnosis and the still poorly understood manifestation of symptoms on the somatic level and originating from the fear-response as well as pleasure-response centers in the brain, which don’t respond to reason in acute situations (somatic flashbacks), I’m forced to conclude that I won’t find any further help with my condition here. Hence, I have decided to call off the search in regards to that. Second and as a result from that, I need to understand that I’m more or less on my own in further managing the symptoms and also in identifying what other potential steps to take. To be clear: As far as my experiences here in this country, I can’t be helped. only treated (and the latter felt and feels like a very elaborate way of making money from my medical/therapeutic needs). I am aware that MAPS.org are in the process of running phase 3 trials on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy particularly taylored to the needs of patients suffering from chronic and otherwise treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder. I tried to get in since phase 2 and after learning of their endeavours in 2014. No luck there. I am also aware that their phases 2 results and accumulated set of data lend credible indication to a level of treatment success that could be coined as a cure. (in a personal conversation with one of the researchers in charge with phase 2, I heard that doctors/researchers are reluctant to use that term as noone can say for sure to what extent the long periods of illness have brought about irreversible changes in personality that would not have occurred otherwise. It made immediate sense to me as I’d developed an intuitive feeling about those dissociated, compartmentalized parts of my persona that had remained poorly evolved given the circumstances I grew up in. They are sometimes referred to as “inner children”. I’m not all comfortable with that coining either as it sounds like a variety of multiple personalities disorder to my ears….) So there will be new and very effective treatment available some time after 2021 – in the US. And here?


I’ve also heard of compassionate use of those treatment modalities that some doctors are even permitted to perform legally. Not available here. As I have arrived at the bottom pit of the welfare system in my country of residence (Germany), I might never have the funds nor the opportunity to get to travel somewhere, where compassionate use is being offered.

Crowdfunding such a “medical trip” then? Again, the make and nature of the welfare system here would sabotage that very undertaking and possibly register donated funds as income, thus claiming for it to be theirs. (for this, there might be a small chance of a workaround. But I’d find myself without a home upon my return as they’d stop benefits altogether and I’d lose the roof over my head. Not an option, I can’t go and live with home folks again).

So, as you can see from above ruminations, I’ve pondered, researched and followed up on quite a number of potential options, but now find myself empty-handed when it comes to scouting remaining opportunities.

Now what? Yeah, perfect question, actually. I think, I’ve exhausted all options I was able to find. Which might be a reason above video had such a strong effect on me: It could all be so very simple! Some benign soul made a brief and candid statement a few years ago when we briefly touched upon my condition: “I think that the best cure for difficult experiences is to have them followed up by good ones.” Simple, too, right? Again, it immediately resonated with me (and on a side-note: I think that Occam’s Razor is a powerful concept). It rang true. It made sense. It sounded like she was right. And I think it’s not hard to see how incredibly sane, potent, filled to the brim with lust for life these individuals lucky to live in a Blue Zone are, aren’t they? I’m looking at beautiful humans, inside and out, regardless of what age they are, what (social) status, they don’t need smartphones or gadgets, not truckloads of branded clothes or fashion gear of some kind, no big car, house, none of the whole nine yards of western “amenities”, if you will. Walking instead of running, talking and hugging instead of drinking themselves to oblivion, a faith-based community, not necessarily of the religious ilk, but faith in some basic human values and traits, the nature of which…. we all seem to forget in our supposedly highly evolved Western societies.

I’d trade any of those Western conveniences with the lives depicted above in a heartbeat, wouldn’t even have to give them half a thought, much less a second one. If I somehow knew I’d get to go there somehow and some day, I think I’d be able to muster the resolve in making it happen.

In any case… I hope you enjoyed the video as much as I did, minus the tears (although I’ve come to embrace and welcome those).

Happy Sunday, hopefully.

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