Happiness Answers

What happen with me? and what I have to do to not feel this situation again?

Hello Maggie,   Thank you for reaching out on The Betterhelp Platform with your question:  What happen with me?and what I have to do to not feel this situation again? From what you shared about your situation it sounds like you are having some symptoms of depression. I will share some information and tips on what you can try to by yourself.  I would still  encourage you to reach out for professional support from a mental health therapist for guidance with some effective interventions to create some positive outcomes for you if you can.   Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to take the steps that will help you to feel better. Sometimes, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like exercising or spending time with friends, can seem exhausting or impossible to put into action.   It’s the Catch-22 of depression recovery: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There is a big difference, however, between something that’s difficult and something that’s impossible. While recovering from depression isn’t quick or easy, you do have more control than you realize—even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and build from there. You may not have much energy, but by drawing on all your reserves, you should have enough to take a walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one, for example. Taking the first step is always the hardest. But going for a walk or getting up and dancing to your favorite music, for example, is something you can do right now. And it can substantially boost your mood and energy for several hours—long enough to put a second recovery step into action, such as preparing a mood-boosting meal or arranging to meet an old friend. By taking the following small but positive steps day by day, you’ll soon lift the heavy fog of depression and find yourself feeling happier, healthier, and more hopeful again.   Steps you can make to manage your mood   Reach out and stay connected Getting support plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate so that connecting to even close family members and friends can be tough.   You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed at your situation, or guilty for neglecting certain relationships. But this is just the depression talking. Staying connected to other people and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. Your loved ones care about you and want to help. And if you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, it’s never too late to build new friendships and improve your support network.   How to reach out for depression support Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to fix you; they just need to be a good listener—someone who’ll listen attentively and compassionately without being distracted or judging you. Make face-time a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they don’t replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away. Try to keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it. Often when you’re depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will make you feel less depressed. Find ways to support others. It’s nice to receive support, but research shows you get an even bigger mood boost from providing support yourself. So find ways—both big and small—to help others: volunteer be a listening ear for a friend, do something nice for somebody. Care for a pet. While nothing can replace the human connection, pets can bring companionship and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also get you outside of yourself and give you a sense of being needed—both powerful antidotes to depression. Join a support group for depression. Being with others dealing with depression can go a long way in reducing your sense of isolation. You can also encourage each other, give and receive advice on how to cope, and share your experiences. 10 tips for staying connected Talk to one person about your feelings. Help someone else by volunteering. Have lunch or coffee with a friend. Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly. Accompany someone to the movies, a concert, or a small get-together. Call or email an old friend. Go for a walk with a workout buddy. Schedule a weekly dinner date. Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club. Confide in a clergy member, teacher, or sports coach.   Do things that make you feel good To overcome depression, you must do things that relax and energize you. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, learning how to better manage stress, setting limits on what you’re able to do, and scheduling fun activities into your day. Do things you enjoy (or used to) While you can’t force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, you can push yourself to do things, even when you don’t feel like it. You might be surprised at how much better you feel once you’re out in the world. Even if your depression doesn’t lift immediately, you’ll gradually feel more upbeat and energetic as you make time for fun activities. Pick up a former hobby or a sport you used to like. Express yourself creatively through music, art, or writing. Go out with friends. Take a day trip to a museum, the mountains, or the ballpark. Support your health Aim for eight hours of sleep. Depression typically involves sleep problems; whether you’re sleeping too little or too much, your mood suffers. Get on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits. Keep stress in check. Not only does stress prolong and worsen depression, but it can also trigger it. Figure out all the things in your life that stress you out, such as work overload, money problems, or unsupportive relationships, and find ways to relieve the pressure and regain control.  Practice relaxation techniques. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation. Develop a “wellness toolbox” to deal with depression Come up with a list of things that you can do for a quick mood boost. The more “tools” for coping with depression you have, the better. Try and implement a few of these ideas each day, even if you’re feeling good. Spend some time in nature. List what you like about yourself. Read a good book. Watch a funny movie or TV show. Take a long, hot bath. Take care of a few small tasks. Play with a pet. Talk to friends or family face-to-face. Listen to music. Do something spontaneous   Get moving When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task, let alone working out! But exercise is a powerful depression fighter —and one of the most important tools in your recovery arsenal. Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms. It also helps prevent relapse once you’re well. To get the most benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. This doesn’t have to be all at once—and it’s okay to start small. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours. Exercise is something you can do right now to boost your mood Your fatigue will improve if you stick with it. Starting to exercise can be difficult when you’re depressed and feeling exhausted. But research shows that your energy levels will improve if you keep with it. Exercise will help you to feel energized and less fatigued, not more. Find exercises that are continuous and rhythmic. The most benefits for depression come from rhythymic exercise—such as walking, weight training, swimming, martial arts, or dancing—where you move both your arms and legs. Add a mindfulness element, especially if your depression is rooted in unresolved trauma or fed by obsessive, negative thoughts. Focus on how your body feels as you move—such as the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, or the feeling of the wind on your skin, or the rhythm of your breathing. Pair up with an exercise partner. Not only does working out with others enable you to spend time socializing, it can also help to keep you motivated. Try joining a running club, taking a water aerobics or dance class, seeking out tennis partners, or enrolling in a soccer or volleyball league. Take a dog for a walk. If you dont own a dog, you can volunteer to walk homeless dogs for an animal shelter or rescue group. You’ll not only be helping yourself but also be helping to socialize and exercise the dogs, making them more adoptable.   Eat a healthy, depression-fighting diet What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your brain and mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones (such as certain meats). Don’t skip meals. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours. Minimize sugar and refined carbs. You may crave sugary snacks, baked goods, or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these “feel-good” foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy. Aim to cut out as much of these foods as possible. Boost your B vitamins. Deficiencies in B vitamins such as folic acid and B-12 can trigger depression. To get more, take a B-complex vitamin supplement or eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs. Boost your mood with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in stabilizing mood. The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, tuna, and some cold-water fish oil supplements.   Get a daily dose of sunlight Sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood. Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun for at least 15 minutes a day. Remove sunglasses (but never stare directly at the sun) and use sunscreen as needed. ·        Take a walk on your lunch break, have your coffee outside, enjoy an al fresco meal, or spend time gardening. ·        Double up on the benefits of sunlight by exercising outside. Try hiking, walking in a local park, or playing golf or tennis with a friend. ·        Increase the amount of natural light in your home and workplace by opening blinds and drapes and sitting near windows. ·        If you live somewhere with little winter sunshine, try using a light therapy box. Dealing with the winter blues For some people, the reduced daylight hours of winter lead to a form of depression known as  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD can make you feel like a completely different person to who you are in the summer: hopeless, sad, tense, or stressed, with no interest in friends or activities you normally love. No matter how hopeless you feel, though, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your mood stable throughout the year.   Challenge negative thinking Do you feel like you’re powerless or weak? That bad things happen and there’s not much you can do about it? That your situation is hopeless? Depression puts a negative spin on everything, including the way you see yourself and your expectations for the future. When these types of thoughts overwhelm you, it’s important to remember that this is a symptom of your depression and these irrational, pessimistic attitudes—known as cognitive distortions—aren’t realistic. When you really examine them, they don’t hold up. But even so, they can be tough to give up. You can’t break out of this pessimistic mind frame by telling yourself to “just think positive.” Often, it’s part of a lifelong pattern of thinking that’s become so automatic you’re not even completely aware of it. Rather, the trick is to identify the type of negative thoughts that are fueling your depression and replace them with a more balanced way of thinking. Negative, unrealistic ways of thinking that fuel depression All-or-nothing thinking. Looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground (“If everything is not perfect, I’m a total failure.”) Overgeneralization. Generalizing from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever (“I had a bad date, I’ll never find anyone.”) The mental filter – Ignoring positive events and focusing on the negative. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right. (“I got the last question on the test wrong. I’m an idiot.”) Diminishing the positive. Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count (“She said she had a good time on our date, but I think she was just being nice.”) Jumping to conclusions. Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader (“He must think I’m pathetic”) or a fortune teller (“I’ll be stuck in this dead-end job forever.”) Emotional reasoning. Believing that the way you feel reflects reality (“I feel like such a loser. Everyone must be laughing at me!”) ‘Shoulds’ and ‘should-nots.’ Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn’t do and beating yourself up if you don’t live up to your rules. (“I should never have interviewed for that job. I’m an idiot for thinking I could get it.”) Labeling. Classifying yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings (“I’m a failure; an idiot; a loser.”)     Put your thoughts on the witness stand Once you identify the destructive thoughts patterns that contribute to your depression, you can start to challenge them with questions such as: ·        “What’s the evidence that this thought is true? Not true?” ·        “What would I tell a friend who had this thought?” ·        “Is there another way of looking at the situation or an alternate explanation?” ·        “How might I look at this situation if I didn’t have depression?” As you cross-examine your negative thoughts, you may be surprised at how quickly they crumble. In the process, you’ll develop a more balanced perspective and help to relieve your depression.   When to get professional help for depression If you’ve taken self-help steps and made positive lifestyle changes and still find your depression getting worse, seek professional help. Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression can be treated and you can feel better! Don’t forget about these self-help tips, though. Even if you’re receiving professional help, these tips can be part of your treatment plan, speeding your recovery and preventing depression from returning.   I wish you much luck with your next step so that you can live a more satisfied life!   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to I bring myself out of this cocoon am feeling a lot of discontent, anger and helplessness?

Dear Sierra_Alpha,   Thank you very much for your message.   I understand that we are going through some fluctuations with our emotions and often it can feel like we are going backwards. However the reality is that the night is always darkest before the dawn. The reason you are feeling discouraged is because you are trying to move forward in this healing process, therefore when you do experience any kind of anxiety or depression you begin to doubt yourself in this process.   Meanwhile, as a human being we will always have times when we feel anxious or depressed. That is normal and natural. Just like there are days that it rains, there are also days that the sun shines. This isn't a problem to be fixed.    We will only feel more depressed if we constantly compare ourselves with our old selves in the past that seemed to be happier, while we forget that back then we did not have this much on our plate to worry and we did not experience what we have experienced recently that gave us hurts and pain. Therefore it isn't fair to our current self if we always think about how to go back in time, that isn't possible anyways.   To further recover from feelings of depression and anxiety, we must constantly be thinking about how to develop a healthy, positive interaction with ourselves.   Happy relationships all depend on how happy we are with ourselves. So how happy are we?   If you feel like you're on a constant quest for inner bliss, you might be asking yourself: If there was one secret on how to be happy in your relationship or marriage, workplace, home life and family wouldn't you have learned it by now?   Are you constantly searching, asking people who seem happy, reading articles and watching videos on how to be happy? If so, you're certainly not alone. Online search engines get millions of people asking this question, and the internet is full of promises that this strategy or that formula will deliver you to a place of lasting happiness. Yet, many miss the main point: they never even touch on the fact that the real key to happiness with others is happiness with yourself.   If you haven't noticed or been here yourself (most of us have), an insecure person's need for constant approval is exhausting. Those who are happy and love themselves don't hang around with that kind of negative energy. Since we can't change other people, lead by example and others will follow in your footsteps, becoming good role models themselves. Here are 5 lessons that I learned (still learning) to find peace within ourselves and enjoy true happiness that does not depend on others.   1. Forgive Yourself   Forgive yourself for anything and everything you think you caused that was bad in your or someone else's life. You can't go back for a do-over, so learn the lesson and move forward, promising to better handle any similar situation that may arise. Now you're freed up to relax more and have greater peace of mind without beating yourself up over guilt and resentment.   2. Understand That You Are Complete   And understand that, "You complete me," was just a cheesy line in a Tom Cruise movie. (I loved that line at first too... for a few seconds, until I realized how inaccurate it was. Keep reading to learn why!) The reason most of us don't feel complete, and latched onto that line like it was the end-all be-all relationship concept is because we're waiting for someone else to be or do something that makes us feel whole.   First of all, as mentioned, we are already complete. But even if we weren't, no one else would be able to complete us anyway - it's impossible. When we put our happiness in someone else's hands we set them up for failure. Why would we do that to someone we care about? Because we don't realize we are the only ones who control our happiness.   Does this mean if you're unhappy it's your fault? Yes. Does this also put you in a position of power in your life? Absolutely. You want your relationships to be the joining of two complete individuals to create a third, larger entity so that you're a part of something, not just half of something. The whole "my other half" thing just breeds insecurity, which leads to the most painful relationship challenges like jealousy, abuse and infidelity. Why on earth would you want your happiness to be determined by someone or something outside of yourself?   3. Get To Know Yourself   When do you feel you're at your best when you're alone? Are you reading your favorite book overlooking a beautiful view? Enjoying your favorite tea, watching a movie? Shopping outside at the farmers market? Listening to your favorite music? How does your body feel? Healthy? Need some work? No one will be happier than you when your body looks good and functions well. This is a good confidence builder and when you have more confidence, you look better and healthier, and carry yourself in a completely different way that attracts confident people to you.   Here's a personal example: I had a spider vein on my lower leg and didn't feel comfortable in shorts for years. I finally had it removed and couldn't believe how much better I felt. My posture and confidence in shorts was much improved. Some things are easily fixable and for the others we may need to adjust our perspective a bit.   What are your favorite parts of yourself - your appearance, your character traits, your values or your personality? Do you get a kick out of your great sense of humor? I get a kick out of mine. I laugh to myself quite often! Are you really excited that you value honesty, which has attracted honest, genuine people to you? Are your eyes or hands or knees your favorite part of your body? Get to know your favorite parts and love them all.   4. Take A Good Look At Yourself   Take a look and notice how amazing you are. Keep your self-talk positive. There are things supermodels hate about themselves, so don't go thinking you're the only one who has dislikes. You can be happy with yourself even if there are things you'd like to change. I've always been shorter than most other people and would have given anything to be "normal" height. It took me 27 years of hating my height when many other people always wanted to be taller and would have traded me in an instant. Look how many years I experienced self-induced suffering. (This describes all suffering by the way. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.)   What are you good at, best at and want to improve at? What are your talents and what skills have you developed? What would you like to do in your life that you haven't done yet? What is the best thing you've ever done? Are you noticing that you might ask some of these questions on a date to get to know someone and determine if you like them or not? We get to know people by asking questions although we rarely ask them of ourselves. And when someone else asks, we sometimes answer differently than when we're asking ourselves.   5. Ask Yourself Questions   To find out more about yourself, ask yourself the questions you would ask on a date. The quality of your relationships is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Ask good questions and lots of them (more than you would ask on a date; it's OK to be a chatterbox with yourself) to build that strong, healthy relationship with yourself.   Take time away from other people and be happily alone. At first, it might feel weird choosing to be alone but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." I went from being scared to sit alone in Starbucks for fear some stranger would think I didn't have any friends to loving going places alone. I have attracted wonderful friends by learning how to like myself and since like attracts like (energy), they happily do things on their own too. Yes, we do enjoy each other's company as well; we don't just talk about all the things we did by ourselves (although that would be funny).   Welcome to your inner power. You are qualified, capable and worthy of being happy with yourself regardless of anyone else on the planet so lead by example and show others how it's done. You will see that you can have much more fulfilling relationships without putting the responsibility of your happiness on someone else.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

What should I do?

Dear Naire,   Thank you very much for your message.   I understand that we are going through some fluctuations with our emotions and often it can feel like we are going backwards. However the reality is that the night is always darkest before the dawn. The reason you are feeling discouraged is because you are trying to move forward in this healing process, therefore when you do experience any kind of anxiety or depression you begin to doubt yourself in this process.   Meanwhile, as a human being we will always have times when we feel anxious or depressed. That is normal and natural. Just like there are days that it rains, there are also days that the sun shines. This isn't a problem to be fixed.    We will only feel more depressed if we constantly compare ourselves with our old selves in the past that seemed to be happier, while we forget that back then we did not have this much on our plate to worry and we did not experience what we have experienced recently that gave us hurts and pain. Therefore it isn't fair to our current self if we always think about how to go back in time, that isn't possible anyways.   To further recover from feelings of depression and anxiety, we must constantly be thinking about how to develop a healthy, positive interaction with ourselves.   Happy relationships all depend on how happy we are with ourselves. So how happy are we?   If you feel like you're on a constant quest for inner bliss, you might be asking yourself: If there was one secret on how to be happy in your relationship or marriage, workplace, home life and family wouldn't you have learned it by now?   Are you constantly searching, asking people who seem happy, reading articles and watching videos on how to be happy? If so, you're certainly not alone. Online search engines get millions of people asking this question, and the internet is full of promises that this strategy or that formula will deliver you to a place of lasting happiness. Yet, many miss the main point: they never even touch on the fact that the real key to happiness with others is happiness with yourself.   If you haven't noticed or been here yourself (most of us have), an insecure person's need for constant approval is exhausting. Those who are happy and love themselves don't hang around with that kind of negative energy. Since we can't change other people, lead by example and others will follow in your footsteps, becoming good role models themselves. Here are 5 lessons that I learned (still learning) to find peace within ourselves and enjoy true happiness that does not depend on others.   1. Forgive Yourself   Forgive yourself for anything and everything you think you caused that was bad in your or someone else's life. You can't go back for a do-over, so learn the lesson and move forward, promising to better handle any similar situation that may arise. Now you're freed up to relax more and have greater peace of mind without beating yourself up over guilt and resentment.   2. Understand That You Are Complete   And understand that, "You complete me," was just a cheesy line in a Tom Cruise movie. (I loved that line at first too... for a few seconds, until I realized how inaccurate it was. Keep reading to learn why!) The reason most of us don't feel complete, and latched onto that line like it was the end-all be-all relationship concept is because we're waiting for someone else to be or do something that makes us feel whole.   First of all, as mentioned, we are already complete. But even if we weren't, no one else would be able to complete us anyway - it's impossible. When we put our happiness in someone else's hands we set them up for failure. Why would we do that to someone we care about? Because we don't realize we are the only ones who control our happiness.   Does this mean if you're unhappy it's your fault? Yes. Does this also put you in a position of power in your life? Absolutely. You want your relationships to be the joining of two complete individuals to create a third, larger entity so that you're a part of something, not just half of something. The whole "my other half" thing just breeds insecurity, which leads to the most painful relationship challenges like jealousy, abuse and infidelity. Why on earth would you want your happiness to be determined by someone or something outside of yourself?   3. Get To Know Yourself   When do you feel you're at your best when you're alone? Are you reading your favorite book overlooking a beautiful view? Enjoying your favorite tea, watching a movie? Shopping outside at the farmers market? Listening to your favorite music? How does your body feel? Healthy? Need some work? No one will be happier than you when your body looks good and functions well. This is a good confidence builder and when you have more confidence, you look better and healthier, and carry yourself in a completely different way that attracts confident people to you.   Here's a personal example: I had a spider vein on my lower leg and didn't feel comfortable in shorts for years. I finally had it removed and couldn't believe how much better I felt. My posture and confidence in shorts was much improved. Some things are easily fixable and for the others we may need to adjust our perspective a bit.   What are your favorite parts of yourself - your appearance, your character traits, your values or your personality? Do you get a kick out of your great sense of humor? I get a kick out of mine. I laugh to myself quite often! Are you really excited that you value honesty, which has attracted honest, genuine people to you? Are your eyes or hands or knees your favorite part of your body? Get to know your favorite parts and love them all.   4. Take A Good Look At Yourself   Take a look and notice how amazing you are. Keep your self-talk positive. There are things supermodels hate about themselves, so don't go thinking you're the only one who has dislikes. You can be happy with yourself even if there are things you'd like to change. I've always been shorter than most other people and would have given anything to be "normal" height. It took me 27 years of hating my height when many other people always wanted to be taller and would have traded me in an instant. Look how many years I experienced self-induced suffering. (This describes all suffering by the way. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.)   What are you good at, best at and want to improve at? What are your talents and what skills have you developed? What would you like to do in your life that you haven't done yet? What is the best thing you've ever done? Are you noticing that you might ask some of these questions on a date to get to know someone and determine if you like them or not? We get to know people by asking questions although we rarely ask them of ourselves. And when someone else asks, we sometimes answer differently than when we're asking ourselves.   5. Ask Yourself Questions   To find out more about yourself, ask yourself the questions you would ask on a date. The quality of your relationships is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Ask good questions and lots of them (more than you would ask on a date; it's OK to be a chatterbox with yourself) to build that strong, healthy relationship with yourself.   Take time away from other people and be happily alone. At first, it might feel weird choosing to be alone but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." I went from being scared to sit alone in Starbucks for fear some stranger would think I didn't have any friends to loving going places alone. I have attracted wonderful friends by learning how to like myself and since like attracts like (energy), they happily do things on their own too. Yes, we do enjoy each other's company as well; we don't just talk about all the things we did by ourselves (although that would be funny).   Welcome to your inner power. You are qualified, capable and worthy of being happy with yourself regardless of anyone else on the planet so lead by example and show others how it's done. You will see that you can have much more fulfilling relationships without putting the responsibility of your happiness on someone else.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

What do I do when I feel like everyone would be happier if I wasn’t around?

It sounds like you are having a really rough time and it is possible to work through that. What are you doing for self care? What do you enjoy (or maybe what did you use to enjoy that you might try again)? The time you sit in your room can be spent focused on you, if you can find an activity or hobby that will  improve your mood. Are you willing to try to make a list of activities that you used to do, that gave you pleasure? Another idea is that you think about (even seach the internet)  activities you have never tried, that sound interesting and are willing to try. Pick one every day (it does not have to be long) and attempt to do it during that time when you're "feeling stuck" in your room. Let me know how it goes. Are you willing to seek out support groups to try to meet people and connect? Humans need connection. Maybe consider volunteering. You feel like a burden, so maybe getting out and helping others would help you feel like you have more purpose. Do you set boundaries and use assertive communication about your needs? Do you need to learn assertive communication skills? Have you sought professional support? Have you talked with a therapist about depression, family, and motivation? What would it take to get you to make a commitment to take action to improve your life? Have you asked for help and are you willing to take suggestions? What do you do for work and how does it make you feel? Take some time to write about what you would like your life to really look like. It is time to set some goals. The key is to start with small ones and work with a professional to move forward. Maybe if the weather is okay, go for a 20 minute walk. Consider taking a bubble bath. Dance to music you love. Sing at the top of your lungs. You deserve to feel happiness and you can get there. It is one step at a time; one day at a time. There are conversations to be had with your son and maybe you need some professional support to help you through that. If you feel like a burden to your daughter, what can you do that can help her (and that you might enjoy)? How do you feel about cooking? Just give it some thought. There is alot to work through here and there is support out there if you ask for it. I hope you do.
(LCSW, LSCSW, LCAC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to find my true self and how to really feel good about being real?

Dear Yuliia,   Thank you for your message.   We all care, in one form or another, what others think of us and our choices in life. The funny thing is that it’s usually not a stranger in the street offering their opinion, but more often than not, a family member or a close friend. Someone’s opinion of you can have a huge impact on your life, if you let it. But there’s a huge difference between caring and worrying about what other people think of you.   If you care, it’s more likely to mean that you respect their opinion and view point, and that you’ll consider and review it, but still choose to go your own way. However, if you worry all the time, this takes it a whole lot further and can soon affect your decision making. You may become a people pleaser who listens to every opinion but your own, which, in the long term, can chip away at your self-belief.   It’s human nature to want to be liked and respected, but how much you care about what others think is up to you. With this in mind, I would like to share some reminders about what to remember when you care too much about what others think of you. (I'm sharing that with myself as well)   People don’t think about you as much as you think they do.   Most of the people around you think in terms of themselves and what affects them and their lives. You and your choices rarely come anywhere near their radar, and if they do, it’s not as often as you might think. Think about it for a moment: how often do you think about a decision your friend has just made? Okay, maybe for the first few minutes, but I very much doubt you sit there consciously thinking and fretting about it for days on end.   It’s none of our business.   What people think about us is their business and not ours. Even if you find out what their opinion is of you, it cannot change who you are or how you live your life. The only way it change your life is if you let it control you and make other people’s thoughts your priority. You really cannot control what other people think, so give up now and concentrate only on what you think about you.   The one and only unique you.   This is a great one to remember. When you worry about what other people think of you, you start to let it take away your individuality, and you think you should conform in some way. Instead, look at it differently and remember that you are the only version of you: you are unique, special and perfect in your own way. Treasure your uniqueness, get all your hair cut off if you want to, wear some outrageous clothes, and get that piercing you’ve always wanted to get. Be who you are. Respect that and you will be much happier.   Why does it matter to you anyway?   How does it really affect you and your life if someone disapproves of something you’ve done or said?  Are you going to change every time someone says they don’t like something? I think not. Try to imagine whether a comment about how you look or what you say will really matter to you in a week or so. If you try to look at things in this way, you’ll save a lot of worrying for nothing.   How do we exactly know what others think anyways?   If we have ‘special powers’ and are well-versed in using a crystal ball, we’ll know what people are thinking. But the so far I have not met anyone who has that power yet besides those in the movies, so my question is: how do you know what others are thinking? You see, the problem here is our thinking, and what we are assuming they are thinking. Interesting, don’t you think? Will we ever fully know what others think? If not why are we trying so hard?    So unless we can read minds, give up caring about how others think of us might be wise.   Accept how other people think of you is their problem, not yours.   How many times have you looked at someone from a distance, judged them by their appearance, and then subsequently met them and changed your whole opinion? Many times, I am sure. You see, you never really get the full picture about someone, not really. So if someone forms an opinion about you without all the information and based on superficial things, then that’s their problem, not yours. Let them worry about it while you get on with your life knowing the full story.   Choose to be mindful of yourself and present at all times.   This is about working out how you want to feel on a day-to-day basis. Do you want to be consumed with constant thoughts about other people and what they think of you? Stop worrying about a past comment or worrying about something someone ‘might’ do or say in the future. Be ever present in the here and now and remember that you have full responsibility for your own thoughts. It all boils down to how you want to live your life. Do you want to be miserable and a people pleaser, or a happy, good person who understands that some people have opinions, but it’s your choice whether to let it affect you or not. That is life!   Surround yourself with people who accept you.   Being able to count on good friends is important for your health and mind, so perhaps it’s time to avoid spending time with people or family who don’t accept your way of life or the choices you make.  There will always be some people who don’t agree with you, so you can either choose to ignore them or move on without them. Remember to surround yourself with the positive, uplifting and inspiring people who accept you, warts and all.   Everyone cares what others think about them.   You are not alone in this thinking. Everyone else has the same cares, worries and thoughts.  It’s human nature to do this. So next time someone criticizes you, try to imagine it from their point of view. Perhaps you are bringing something out in them that they wish they could do, so their first reaction is to put you down. Be mindful of this and you’ll rest a whole lot easier when you sleep at night.   Be true to who you are.   Being who you are means being honest and speaking out even if it scares you to death. Today nearly everyone is on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Posting our status updates, our pictures and sharing our most intimate stories seems to be the norm, so if you are going to do it, do it with honesty and integrity. Speak your mind and do not worry what other people think. As long as you aren’t setting out to intentionally hurt anyone, do it with pride.  Above all, don’t fake it. Be who you are and those who care about you will accept you, while those who don’t won’t.  So stop apologizing, stop just existing, and start living!   Hope this will light up your path in being more of yourself and spending less energy chasing after an answer that we will never ever find: what others think of us.   After all, please remember that as you are thinking what others think about you, everyone whom you come into contact also are guessing and caring what you think about them. We are all in this boat together.   Looking forward to talking with you more, enjoy learning and practicing each day :) Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Should I leave my job

  Hello, Thank you for reaching out on The Betterhelp Platform with you question? Should I leave my job? I will share some information on depression and anxiety and include some tips on how you can manage your symptoms. Consider making an appointment with your medical provider to assess the level of your depression and anxiety.  Medications are not for everyone but for some people they can be an effective solution.  I would also advice that you reach out for some support from a professional mental health therapist to get some guidance with some effective interventions to help reduce the negative symptoms of what you are going through.   You and your therapist can perhaps explore what is causing your depression and anxiety at work before you make any bit decisions about quitting your job. There are many mental health interventions available to people who are experiencing depressive symptoms, the most well-known and evidenced based is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  Cognitive behavioral therapy is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve mental health. The therapist focuses on challenging and changing cognitive distortions and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems.  This intervention is now also used to treat other matters too with equal success. Depression affects one’s cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and physical functions. One of the most insidious aspects of depression is that it tricks you into thinking that nothing will help, or that the relief will be temporary, and it will keep you in a cycle of maladaptive thinking, feeling, and doing (or non-doing). However, there are steps one can take to cope with depression.    Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to take the steps that will help you to feel better. Sometimes, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like exercising or spending time with friends, can seem exhausting or impossible to put into action. It’s the Catch-22 of depression recovery: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There is a big difference, however, between something that’s difficult and something that’s impossible. While recovering from depression isn’t quick or easy, you do have more control than you realize—even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and build from there. You may not have much energy, but by drawing on all your reserves, you should have enough to take a walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one, for example. Taking the first step is always the hardest. But going for a walk or getting up and dancing to your favorite music, for example, is something you can do right now. And it can substantially boost your mood and energy for several hours—long enough to put a second recovery step into action, such as preparing a mood-boosting meal or arranging to meet an old friend. By taking the following small but positive steps day by day, you’ll soon lift the heavy fog of depression and find yourself feeling happier, healthier, and more hopeful again. Take care of your physical health ·    Get active! It is important to get 30 minutes of physical activity daily.    This can be anything from yoga, walking, jogging, walking stairs, a stroll around the block, gardening. If this is too daunting, start with 10-15 minutes a day and add 5 minutes to each day.     ·    Nourish your body--make sure you eat well-balanced meals.     ·    Sleep…getting adequate sleep is important for our physical well being, mental acuity, and concentration. Take a closer look at your thoughts ·    Write down recurring thoughts…negative thoughts about oneself, one’s future, and the world are common; these thoughts are often distortions that feel real and often perpetuate unhelpful behaviors. By writing down these thoughts, one can begin to see the distortions a bit more clearly.     ·    Challenge the distortions- is it accurate?  Or does it just feel real? Are you taking into account the evidence? Does it help to think this way?     ·    Limit rumination- rumination and depression go hand in hand; rumination is a type of thinking where you rehash a moment over and over again; you can learn to limit rumination by being more aware of it and redirecting yourself towards doing something more helpful. For example, when you are aware that you are ruminating, take notice of you are doing and what is around you. And ask yourself “what is one thing that I can do right now that is good for me?”   Identify unhelpful behaviors and replace them with healthy, helpful behaviors ·    Build a sense of mastery-this involves setting realistic, achievable goals daily; rather than tackling big ticket items, break them down into smaller, more manageable units. This sense of mastery will also help to chip away at the unhelpful distortions. ·    Reduce avoidance/procrastination—this will also promote a sense of accomplishment and self-efficacy ·    Avoid making big decisions or contemplating major life decisions during this time.... so quitting a job would not seem to be your best choice right now. ·    Engage in healthy joyful activities—this can involve something as small as brewing a nice cup of tea, listening to a favorite song, sending an email/text to a friend, dancing in your own space ·    Stay connected to friends and family- it might help to let them know what you are experiencing and how they can help.    Practice self-compassion--being harsh or overly critical is not helpful, give yourself some grace and kindness.    Review micro-successes daily—when feeling depressed, it is easy to overlook successes and accomplishments. Hence, being intentional in reviewing these moments can help offset the feelings of failure and hopelessness. If you are experiencing severe depressive symptoms, it may be time to seek out professional help. Signs of severe depression include:  ·    Symptoms that are intense, paralyzing, and/or unrelenting (last months) ·    Inability to care for yourself (basic needs) or attend to daily responsibilities or relationships ·    Symptoms that are accompanied by substance abuse, self-harm, and/or thoughts of suicide   . If you’ve taken self-help steps and made positive lifestyle changes and still find your depression getting worse, seek professional help. Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression and anxiety can be treated and you can feel better! Don’t forget about these self-help tips, though. Even if you’re receiving professional help, these tips can be part of your treatment plan, speeding your recovery and preventing depression from returning.   I wish you good luck with your next step!   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to stop feeling so empty?

Hello Ann,   Thanks for reaching out with your question I will share some information about what you might be going through and why.   It sounds like me that you are trying to come to terms with your trauma from 2 years ago and it has resulted in some of your emotional capacity to be overloaded.   Feeling this way is not uncommon. You might call it “feeling empty,” while someone else might call it something different.   What matters the most is that it’s real, valid. Although overwhelming, it can be managed.   Uncovering what’s lying underneath this emptiness feeling might not be a straightforward process, but it’s possible and a recommended first step toward resolution.   The feeling of emptiness might last a few days and then resolve on its own.   Other times, it might linger for two weeks or longer. When this is the case, seeking the support of a mental health professional can help.   Why do I feel empty?    Feeling empty can sometimes manifest as a sense of loneliness, confusion about your life and goals, or lack of motivation to pursue anything in life.   Everyone might feel this void in their heart from time to time.   The experience could have many causes, including shifting hormonal levels, losing a job, or the required physical distancing that comes with a pandemic.   Any life stage or situation that may require you to reflect on yourself and your life might also lead to a temporary feeling of emptiness.   Although not in every case, feeling empty could also signify some mental health conditions, such as depression, disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.  A mental health professional can diagnose your condition accurately.   But what happens when you feel empty all the time?   Losing touch with yourself   It’s not unusual for someone to lose touch with themselves once in a while. A lack of insight into yourself may lead to that lingering emptiness feeling.   Some people call this “living without a purpose.” It means that you might not have clarity on the type of person you are or the one you want to become.   Not having specific goals or dreams to achieve can also lead you to feel empty.   Losing touch with yourself can come from many circumstances. For example, a consuming relationship or a demanding job.   Unresolved past experiences   Sometimes, feeling melancholy might have to do with a long grieving process that you haven’t explored yet.   For example, an unresolved painful experience in your childhood or a sense of abandonment from a family member.   When we don’t openly talk or explore emotions that have been with us for a long time, they might manifest in other ways.   Even if it feels overwhelming and painful, thinking and talking about significant past events that caused you grief may help you process them. Depending on how strong you feel about these events, going through the process with a mental health professional is highly advisable.   Not taking care of yourself   For some people, taking care of others might come first.  This could lead them to put their own needs aside for a long time. This, in turn, may lead to feeling empty.   You might feel that making others happy makes you happy, too. Even if this is the case, it’s important to consider that supporting others is not exclusive of supporting yourself.   Everyone needs support and care, including you. Often, when your needs are fulfilled, you become better equipped to help and support others, too.   Abandoning yourself, not listening to your own hopes and desires, could make you feel empty.     Not taking care of your needs can lead to anxiety, guilt, and shame, Slight said. These symptoms might be what you call.   How much time you spend on social media might also affect how you feel and could fuel the feelings of emptiness.   In many instances, accounts you follow on social media might portray a lifestyle that’s not realistic or a perfect life or appearance. This could lead you to compare yourself and inevitably underscore your life.   Not having significant relationships   Maintaining close and good relationships is the most important aspect of the human experience.   This means that it’s not about how many relationships you have but rather the quality of these relationships.   Emotional intimacy, support, active listening, and company are all important. When these are missing in your life, it could lead to feelings of emptiness and loneliness.    How to stop feeling empty   It’s natural to feel concerned if you’ve noticed a change in yourself. Recognizing this feeling and addressing it is the first step toward feeling better.   If you’re feeling empty, seeing a mental health professional can help.   A therapist could help you work through your feelings, uncover the cause of the numbness, and address it in a way that works best for you.   Finding ways to stop feeling empty may depend on what’s causing it.   For example, if you feel numb after trauma, you might need to process this particular event. If you’ve felt empty for a long time, psychotherapy can help you unveil some of the reasons that led you here.     Gently acknowledge the emptiness   If you’re experiencing emptiness that’s more like a gaping hole, acknowledge it, and be gentle with yourself.    Remember that you’re doing the best you can at any given moment. Feeling guilty is not uncommon, but it might stop you from seeking help.   Begin by recognizing your own feelings and needs. Even if challenging, try to avoid dismissing yourself and what you feel.   If you acknowledge that your feelings are linked to a loss you experienced, consider allowing yourself time and space to grieve openly. Grief looks and feels different to everyone, and there are no right or wrong ways to do it.   Once you’ve acknowledged your losses, you might go through five stages of grief.    Maybe the loss involves someone leaving your life physically or emotionally.   Eder suggested speaking to yourself with compassion when exploring these feelings and past experiences. For instance, you might say: “It’s been hard to feel so lonely,” or “You’re right; you did need more love.”   Save time for yourself every day   It’s natural to sometimes turn to certain events or activities to not think about how you feel. For example, you might feel inclined to go out with friends or spend the night playing video games.   We often fight the urge and instead save time to be with yourself and look within. This may include exploring your own desires, fears, hopes, and dreams.   Because different activities work for different people, you might find that meditation, writing, or exercise helps you refocus yourself.   It may feel uncomfortable at first, but the more you practice devoting time and energy to yourself and caring for yourself, the less present those empty feelings will be.   Explore your current feelings   Setting a timer for 5 minutes and noticing what you’re feeling right now.   It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering.   You might want to write “bored” or “distracted” or “curious.” If you’re having a hard time naming your feelings, feelings list.   It also can help to pick one part of your body, such as your hand or head.  Then “scan for various categories of sensation like temperature, tension or movement.   Practicing these exercises every day can help you open yourself to deeper and longer self-explorations.     Explore your feelings of emptiness   Journaling might also help work on your feelings of emptiness.  She suggested exploring the following questions as a starting point: Have I been judging myself or comparing myself to others? Do I tell myself positive things? Or do I tend to notice failures or call myself names? Are my feelings being considered in my relationships, or am I minimizing what I am feeling? Am I actively tending to my physical and health needs? Have I turned toward behaviors or addictions to avoid my feelings? Am I focusing solely on the needs of another person or people? What am I trying to prove or win? Am I blaming myself or feeling guilty about things that are out of my control? Am I showing myself compassion like I would with a close friend or family member? Am I asserting myself in my decisions and respecting my personal opinions?   Connect with others   After sitting with your feelings and exploring them, you might find it helpful to connect with others. Reaching out to friends or family can help you feel better, especially if you’re able to confide in them about your feelings. One idea is to regularly connect with loved ones through social engagements, hobbies, and mutual interests.   Practice self-care   Depression and grief might sometimes cause you to neglect daily self-care. This is not something to feel ashamed of, but engaging in acts of self-care might help you feel better.   This could include basic things, such as eating nutritious meals, getting enough sleep, and exercising. Hunger and tiredness can sometimes exacerbate negative feelings.   Consider finding positive outlets for your emotions, like journaling, a new hobby, or creative pursuit.   Mindfulness and yoga are also often recommended for depression and anxiety.   Consider a 10-minute yoga workout on YouTube or a quick meditation exercise using a  mindfulness gap.    You might also want to limit the time you spend on social media. This could progressively help you feel better.   If you can’t or don’t, then try reminding yourself that what you see on the screen might not be an attainable goal for anyone. You could see it as watching a science-fiction movie that’s fun to watch but not based on reality.   Commend yourself   You’re doing the best you can with the resources at hand.   Even as children, some people find ways to protect themselves from hurt. One of these ways might be repressing feelings. In that case, give yourself credit for coming up with a solution that worked when you were small and powerless.   Commend yourself for all the ways you’ve come up with to cope with events in your life.   Consider allowing those feelings to come out. You have some catching up to do. And you don’t need to rush to override your old way of survival.   Setting better boundaries starts here   Learn more about defining boundaries in your relationships, practicing consistency, and living with intention with our limited series.   When to seek help    Sometimes, feeling empty might lead to more distressing thoughts.   If this is your case, Consider therapy can help. It can help empower you to make your own decisions about how to implement positive changes.   If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, unable to function in your daily life, or considering hurting yourself or others, a mental health professional can help.   I wish you much luck with your next step.   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I deal with negative thoughts and self-hate?

Thank you for your question. I am not sure it is a simple answer. I think there is something to coping strategies, but those offer temporary relief. Without knowing where your self-hate stems from, I cannot give you specific feedback to understand what your core beliefs are that are rooted in earlier childhood beliefs. With self-hate, there is often a sense of inadequacy. I think it is important to build up to optimistic thinking. If you are feeling hopeless, rather than thinking about feeling hopeful, which may be too far ahead for you to think about at this time, imagine feeling a little less hopeless. Consider what that would look like. I think there has to be some understanding and acceptance that happiness can be created from our perception. If you are often so focused upon your weaknesses and flaws, try to consider how those things are not true of you and for you all the time. Start making those general statements about yourself more conditional as a beginning point. For example, if you consider disliking yourself. Rather than just note you dislike yourself, begin by recognizing when that might not be true. Instead you may say something like, "I dislike myself when I make a mistake." Getting away from absolute language will enable you to begin seeing the light and how these negative statements may not be as true as your mind tells you they are. Also, consider the language you are using in another way. You might think about how you can change your initial statement from, "I hate myself" to "I dislike myself." This may be the gradual next step rather than jumping to "I like myself." I think if you start making the negative a little less true, you will be on your way to more positive thinking in a way your mind can understand. I think hopelessness worsens when we set unrealistic goals and do not see a plan or vision as to how to work ourselves out of a depressive episode. You might also consider past experiences that have contributed to greater well-being.  If you can implement strategies that have potentially worked in the past, you may be at a starting point for having greater satisfaction. I might also suggest you work on developing self-compassion. You might consider reducing self-judgment through empathic understanding of your experiences. You might even consider making a list daily of all of the things you have done well, which is called a credit list. We need to build upon positive experiences. You may not recognize any moments throughout the day that are not bound by depression, but see at the end of the day if you can remember one reason you laughed or felt an emotion, if even for a brief period, other than sadness. Try to create experiences throughout the day where you can experience laughter. Create a daily gratitude list as well, as often when depressed, we focus upon what is lacking. Focusing upon what we have to be grateful for, can change our outlook. Try to find what is right in a day verses what is wrong in a day. All of these strategies might not initially make sense as to how you can implement them, as they are being discussed in a general way. The main thing is to begin taking an active approach in feeling better through the use of perspective-shifting discussed in this post. I would highly recommend you continue to engage with a therapist who can assist you further with your specific concerns and challenges. Implementing these strategies is not easy, but it is the starting point to creating the life you want, so try to make it worth it to take that risk. 
Answered on 01/20/2022

I'm generally unhappy with my life and am not sure how to proceed.

Hi!  Thank you for your question and most importantly, reaching out.  It sounds like you have recognized you're not in a good space mentally and emotionally and you want to do something about it.  Sometimes the hardest part is taking the first step, which is exactly what you're doing.  It can be easy for us to fall into the habit of comparing ourselves to others or even comparing overselves to this ideal image of what we thought SHOULD make us happy.  How this plays out is the messages you received when you were growing up around the type of work you do, the people you date, the activities you choose, etc. become engrained in us, which we then try to emmulate, sometimes falsely convincing ourselves that this is what we want.  Have you ever sat down and thought about what's important to you and what your individual core values are?  Not what your parents, significant other, friends, family, social media, etc. in your life value, just what YOU value.  By doing this exercise, it makes you think about what the non-negotiables are in your life and can help you make decisions that could have a positive effect.  To further this point, have you ever thought about what makes you geniuely happy?  If possible, think back to a moment where you felt this way - what were the circumstances surrounding it?   In reading your question further, I see you shared you haven't felt fulfilled in a couple of years.  Can you think about what changed?  Was there a particular life event that happened, or maybe even a series of life events?  Similar to the question about happiness I asked above, what did it look like when you felt fulfilled?  Or better yet, what do you think feeling fulfilled looks like to you?  You also mentioned that while you're in a relationship, you're potentially in love with a previous significant other.  Could that be linked to the last time you felt that fulfillment?   When we feel this way about life - no passion to do anything, like life is pointless, it can be a very lonely and scary feeling.  Have you spoken to anyone about these thoughts and feelings?  Or in the very least, spoken to your significant other to let them know you're struggling right now?  Just being able to identify one support can be so helpful in not feeling like you are in this alone.  I hope that this response has provided you with some food for thought as you begin your therapeutic journey and evaluating everything currently going on in your life.  Once you start working with a therapist, they will continue to help you unpack all of these thoughts and feelings to get you to a better headspace.  This type of "soul-searching" could be beneficial in helping you gain a better understanding of who you are and what your needs are as a person.  Good luck on this journey and remember that there is NEVER just 1 right answer for everyone; it is whatever the right answer is for you. 
(LMHC, LPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

CAN I PAY WITH MOBILE MONEY

Dear Jo,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Can you help me and can you read what i wrote about my situation?

Dear Wanda,   Thank you very much for your message.   I understand that we are going through some fluctuations with our emotions and often it can feel like we are going backwards. However the reality is that the night is always darkest before the dawn. The reason you are feeling discouraged is because you are trying to move forward in this healing process, therefore when you do experience any kind of anxiety or depression you begin to doubt yourself in this process.   Meanwhile, as a human being we will always have times when we feel anxious or depressed. That is normal and natural. Just like there are days that it rains, there are also days that the sun shines. This isn't a problem to be fixed.    We will only feel more depressed if we constantly compare ourselves with our old selves in the past that seemed to be happier, while we forget that back then we did not have this much on our plate to worry and we did not experience what we have experienced recently that gave us hurts and pain. Therefore it isn't fair to our current self if we always think about how to go back in time, that isn't possible anyways.   To further recover from feelings of depression and anxiety, we must constantly be thinking about how to develop a healthy, positive interaction with ourselves.   Happy relationships all depend on how happy we are with ourselves. So how happy are we?   If you feel like you're on a constant quest for inner bliss, you might be asking yourself: If there was one secret on how to be happy in your relationship or marriage, workplace, home life and family wouldn't you have learned it by now?   Are you constantly searching, asking people who seem happy, reading articles and watching videos on how to be happy? If so, you're certainly not alone. Online search engines get millions of people asking this question, and the internet is full of promises that this strategy or that formula will deliver you to a place of lasting happiness. Yet, many miss the main point: they never even touch on the fact that the real key to happiness with others is happiness with yourself.   If you haven't noticed or been here yourself (most of us have), an insecure person's need for constant approval is exhausting. Those who are happy and love themselves don't hang around with that kind of negative energy. Since we can't change other people, lead by example and others will follow in your footsteps, becoming good role models themselves. Here are 5 lessons that I learned (still learning) to find peace within ourselves and enjoy true happiness that does not depend on others.   1. Forgive Yourself   Forgive yourself for anything and everything you think you caused that was bad in your or someone else's life. You can't go back for a do-over, so learn the lesson and move forward, promising to better handle any similar situation that may arise. Now you're freed up to relax more and have greater peace of mind without beating yourself up over guilt and resentment.   2. Understand That You Are Complete   And understand that, "You complete me," was just a cheesy line in a Tom Cruise movie. (I loved that line at first too... for a few seconds, until I realized how inaccurate it was. Keep reading to learn why!) The reason most of us don't feel complete, and latched onto that line like it was the end-all be-all relationship concept is because we're waiting for someone else to be or do something that makes us feel whole.   First of all, as mentioned, we are already complete. But even if we weren't, no one else would be able to complete us anyway - it's impossible. When we put our happiness in someone else's hands we set them up for failure. Why would we do that to someone we care about? Because we don't realize we are the only ones who control our happiness.   Does this mean if you're unhappy it's your fault? Yes. Does this also put you in a position of power in your life? Absolutely. You want your relationships to be the joining of two complete individuals to create a third, larger entity so that you're a part of something, not just half of something. The whole "my other half" thing just breeds insecurity, which leads to the most painful relationship challenges like jealousy, abuse and infidelity. Why on earth would you want your happiness to be determined by someone or something outside of yourself?   3. Get To Know Yourself   When do you feel you're at your best when you're alone? Are you reading your favorite book overlooking a beautiful view? Enjoying your favorite tea, watching a movie? Shopping outside at the farmers market? Listening to your favorite music? How does your body feel? Healthy? Need some work? No one will be happier than you when your body looks good and functions well. This is a good confidence builder and when you have more confidence, you look better and healthier, and carry yourself in a completely different way that attracts confident people to you.   Here's a personal example: I had a spider vein on my lower leg and didn't feel comfortable in shorts for years. I finally had it removed and couldn't believe how much better I felt. My posture and confidence in shorts was much improved. Some things are easily fixable and for the others we may need to adjust our perspective a bit.   What are your favorite parts of yourself - your appearance, your character traits, your values or your personality? Do you get a kick out of your great sense of humor? I get a kick out of mine. I laugh to myself quite often! Are you really excited that you value honesty, which has attracted honest, genuine people to you? Are your eyes or hands or knees your favorite part of your body? Get to know your favorite parts and love them all.   4. Take A Good Look At Yourself   Take a look and notice how amazing you are. Keep your self-talk positive. There are things supermodels hate about themselves, so don't go thinking you're the only one who has dislikes. You can be happy with yourself even if there are things you'd like to change. I've always been shorter than most other people and would have given anything to be "normal" height. It took me 27 years of hating my height when many other people always wanted to be taller and would have traded me in an instant. Look how many years I experienced self-induced suffering. (This describes all suffering by the way. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.)   What are you good at, best at and want to improve at? What are your talents and what skills have you developed? What would you like to do in your life that you haven't done yet? What is the best thing you've ever done? Are you noticing that you might ask some of these questions on a date to get to know someone and determine if you like them or not? We get to know people by asking questions although we rarely ask them of ourselves. And when someone else asks, we sometimes answer differently than when we're asking ourselves.   5. Ask Yourself Questions   To find out more about yourself, ask yourself the questions you would ask on a date. The quality of your relationships is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Ask good questions and lots of them (more than you would ask on a date; it's OK to be a chatterbox with yourself) to build that strong, healthy relationship with yourself.   Take time away from other people and be happily alone. At first, it might feel weird choosing to be alone but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." I went from being scared to sit alone in Starbucks for fear some stranger would think I didn't have any friends to loving going places alone. I have attracted wonderful friends by learning how to like myself and since like attracts like (energy), they happily do things on their own too. Yes, we do enjoy each other's company as well; we don't just talk about all the things we did by ourselves (although that would be funny).   Welcome to your inner power. You are qualified, capable and worthy of being happy with yourself regardless of anyone else on the planet so lead by example and show others how it's done. You will see that you can have much more fulfilling relationships without putting the responsibility of your happiness on someone else.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I get back to my bubbly self

Hello, and thank you for your question. I would love to have more information about where you moved from, if you see those friends regularly, why you moved, and how just some general background information. Since I am lacking those details, this answer might be a bit vague, but I hope it will still be helpful for you, and anyone else who may stumble upon it.    Life changes usually cause us to go through a rollercoaster of emotions. Moving to a new place can definitely be one of them. Changes usually cause us to have a dip in our mood or an increase in anxiety. It happens so often that we even have a diagnosis for it when it presents as severe--adjustment disorder.    In order to recover from change, and bounce back to your usual bubbly self it is important to actively practice self care, gratitude, and prosocial behaviors.    You mentioned, you were in a nursing program currently, which is causing added stress. In order to balance out that stress you need to make time for yourself. I strongly recommend spending 30 minutes a day doing something you love, just for the sake of doing it. I will add, that this self care activity should not be anything an infant can do (watching TV, sleeping, eating, ext.). This daily self care activity should be stimulating but bring a sense of calmness to you. Some common suggestions for self care techniques are: exercising, going on a walk or hike, art, journaling, or pampering yourself (doing you nails, long bubble bath, ext.). Exercise in particular has been shown to boost an individuals mood and alleviate stress because it releases a host of happy hormones into the brain. I would suggest finding 30 minutes EVERYDAY for yourself will bring you one step closer to your 'bubbly self'.    Next we have gratitude. Increasing gratitude has been linked to a whole host of benefits including: boosting your immune system, improving mental health, improving relationships, and increased optimism towards life. Gratitude occurs when you are able to recognize and reflect on the positive things in your life and how they affect you. Gratitude can range from the appreciation of a cup of coffee in the morning to thanking all of the people who have helped you graduate. There are various different exercise you can do to practice gratitude and become a more gracious individual. My personal favorite one is gratitude journaling. Gratitude journaling is a short exercise you can do at the same time every day. The idea is that every day you write dow 3-5 things that you are grateful for. There are plenty of different work sheets you can use for this and various phone applications that can be utilized as well. The concept behind gratitude journaling is that by writing down something positive that happened daily, it will shift you into being more optimistic (and bubbly).   Lastly, engaging in prosocial activities. I added this one because you mentioned you moved and that you are struggling to be your usually bubbly self with your friends. If there is physical distance between you and your friends it may be more difficult or you to connect with them and you may be experiencing some FOMO (fear of missing out) when you talk to them. If this is the case, I would strongly recommend embracing Montreal and exploring new social events and be open to the idea of making new friends. That's not to say you will lose the friends you have, but instead to encourage you to make new ones and embrace the new adventure. You can then tell your friends back home all about it!    
Answered on 01/20/2022

Thoughts?

Hello Jax, Thank you for reaching out on The Betterhelp Platform with your query about what sounds to me like symptoms of depression. I will share some information and tips on what you can try to by yourself.  I would encourage you to reach out for professional support from a mental health therapist for guidance with some effective interventions to create some positive outcomes for you.        Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to take the steps that will help you to feel better. Sometimes, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like exercising or spending time with friends, can seem exhausting or impossible to put into action.   It’s the Catch-22 of depression recovery: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There is a big difference, however, between something that’s difficult and something that’s impossible. While recovering from depression isn’t quick or easy, you do have more control than you realize—even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and build from there. You may not have much energy, but by drawing on all your reserves, you should have enough to take a walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one, for example. Taking the first step is always the hardest. But going for a walk or getting up and dancing to your favorite music, for example, is something you can do right now. And it can substantially boost your mood and energy for several hours—long enough to put a second recovery step into action, such as preparing a mood-boosting meal or arranging to meet an old friend. By taking the following small but positive steps day by day, you’ll soon lift the heavy fog of depression and find yourself feeling happier, healthier, and more hopeful again.   Reach out and stay connected Getting support plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate so that connecting to even close family members and friends can be tough.   You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed at your situation, or guilty for neglecting certain relationships. But this is just the depression talking. Staying connected to other people and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. Your loved ones care about you and want to help. And if you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, it’s never too late to build new friendships and improve your support network.   How to reach out for depression support Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to fix you; they just need to be a good listener—someone who’ll listen attentively and compassionately without being distracted or judging you. Make face-time a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they don’t replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away. Try to keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it. Often when you’re depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will make you feel less depressed. Find ways to support others. It’s nice to receive support, but research shows you get an even bigger mood boost from providing support yourself. So find ways—both big and small—to help others: volunteer be a listening ear for a friend, do something nice for somebody. Care for a pet. While nothing can replace the human connection, pets can bring companionship and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also get you outside of yourself and give you a sense of being needed—both powerful antidotes to depression. Join a support group for depression. Being with others dealing with depression can go a long way in reducing your sense of isolation. You can also encourage each other, give and receive advice on how to cope, and share your experiences. 10 tips for staying connected Talk to one person about your feelings. Help someone else by volunteering. Have lunch or coffee with a friend. Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly. Accompany someone to the movies, a concert, or a small get-together. Call or email an old friend. Go for a walk with a workout buddy. Schedule a weekly dinner date. Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club. Confide in a clergy member, teacher, or sports coach.   Do things that make you feel good To overcome depression, you must do things that relax and energize you. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, learning how to better manage stress, setting limits on what you’re able to do, and scheduling fun activities into your day. Do things you enjoy (or used to) While you can’t force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, you can push yourself to do things, even when you don’t feel like it. You might be surprised at how much better you feel once you’re out in the world. Even if your depression doesn’t lift immediately, you’ll gradually feel more upbeat and energetic as you make time for fun activities. Pick up a former hobby or a sport you used to like. Express yourself creatively through music, art, or writing. Go out with friends. Take a day trip to a museum, the mountains, or the ballpark. Support your health Aim for eight hours of sleep. Depression typically involves sleep problems; whether you’re sleeping too little or too much, your mood suffers. Get on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits. Keep stress in check. Not only does stress prolong and worsen depression, but it can also trigger it. Figure out all the things in your life that stress you out, such as work overload, money problems, or unsupportive relationships, and find ways to relieve the pressure and regain control.  Practice relaxation techniques. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation. Develop a “wellness toolbox” to deal with depression Come up with a list of things that you can do for a quick mood boost. The more “tools” for coping with depression you have, the better. Try and implement a few of these ideas each day, even if you’re feeling good. Spend some time in nature. List what you like about yourself. Read a good book. Watch a funny movie or TV show. Take a long, hot bath. Take care of a few small tasks. Play with a pet. Talk to friends or family face-to-face. Listen to music. Do something spontaneous   Get moving When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task, let alone working out! But exercise is a powerful depression fighter —and one of the most important tools in your recovery arsenal. Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms. It also helps prevent relapse once you’re well. To get the most benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. This doesn’t have to be all at once—and it’s okay to start small. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours. Exercise is something you can do right now to boost your mood Your fatigue will improve if you stick with it. Starting to exercise can be difficult when you’re depressed and feeling exhausted. But research shows that your energy levels will improve if you keep with it. Exercise will help you to feel energized and less fatigued, not more. Find exercises that are continuous and rhythmic. The most benefits for depression come from rhythymic exercise—such as walking, weight training, swimming, martial arts, or dancing—where you move both your arms and legs. Add a mindfulness element, especially if your depression is rooted in unresolved trauma or fed by obsessive, negative thoughts. Focus on how your body feels as you move—such as the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, or the feeling of the wind on your skin, or the rhythm of your breathing. Pair up with an exercise partner. Not only does working out with others enable you to spend time socializing, it can also help to keep you motivated. Try joining a running club, taking a water aerobics or dance class, seeking out tennis partners, or enrolling in a soccer or volleyball league. Take a dog for a walk. If you dont own a dog, you can volunteer to walk homeless dogs for an animal shelter or rescue group. You’ll not only be helping yourself but also be helping to socialize and exercise the dogs, making them more adoptable.   Eat a healthy, depression-fighting diet What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your brain and mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones (such as certain meats). Don’t skip meals. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours. Minimize sugar and refined carbs. You may crave sugary snacks, baked goods, or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these “feel-good” foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy. Aim to cut out as much of these foods as possible. Boost your B vitamins. Deficiencies in B vitamins such as folic acid and B-12 can trigger depression. To get more, take a B-complex vitamin supplement or eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs. Boost your mood with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in stabilizing mood. The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, tuna, and some cold-water fish oil supplements.   Get a daily dose of sunlight Sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood. Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun for at least 15 minutes a day. Remove sunglasses (but never stare directly at the sun) and use sunscreen as needed. ·        Take a walk on your lunch break, have your coffee outside, enjoy an al fresco meal, or spend time gardening. ·        Double up on the benefits of sunlight by exercising outside. Try hiking, walking in a local park, or playing golf or tennis with a friend. ·        Increase the amount of natural light in your home and workplace by opening blinds and drapes and sitting near windows. ·        If you live somewhere with little winter sunshine, try using a light therapy box. Dealing with the winter blues For some people, the reduced daylight hours of winter lead to a form of depression known as  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD can make you feel like a completely different person to who you are in the summer: hopeless, sad, tense, or stressed, with no interest in friends or activities you normally love. No matter how hopeless you feel, though, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your mood stable throughout the year.   Challenge negative thinking Do you feel like you’re powerless or weak? That bad things happen and there’s not much you can do about it? That your situation is hopeless? Depression puts a negative spin on everything, including the way you see yourself and your expectations for the future. When these types of thoughts overwhelm you, it’s important to remember that this is a symptom of your depression and these irrational, pessimistic attitudes—known as cognitive distortions—aren’t realistic. When you really examine them, they don’t hold up. But even so, they can be tough to give up. You can’t break out of this pessimistic mind frame by telling yourself to “just think positive.” Often, it’s part of a lifelong pattern of thinking that’s become so automatic you’re not even completely aware of it. Rather, the trick is to identify the type of negative thoughts that are fueling your depression and replace them with a more balanced way of thinking. Negative, unrealistic ways of thinking that fuel depression All-or-nothing thinking. Looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground (“If everything is not perfect, I’m a total failure.”) Overgeneralization. Generalizing from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever (“I had a bad date, I’ll never find anyone.”) The mental filter – Ignoring positive events and focusing on the negative. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right. (“I got the last question on the test wrong. I’m an idiot.”) Diminishing the positive. Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count (“She said she had a good time on our date, but I think she was just being nice.”) Jumping to conclusions. Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader (“He must think I’m pathetic”) or a fortune teller (“I’ll be stuck in this dead-end job forever.”) Emotional reasoning. Believing that the way you feel reflects reality (“I feel like such a loser. Everyone must be laughing at me!”) ‘Shoulds’ and ‘should-nots.’ Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn’t do and beating yourself up if you don’t live up to your rules. (“I should never have interviewed for that job. I’m an idiot for thinking I could get it.”) Labeling. Classifying yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings (“I’m a failure; an idiot; a loser.”)     Put your thoughts on the witness stand Once you identify the destructive thoughts patterns that contribute to your depression, you can start to challenge them with questions such as: ·        “What’s the evidence that this thought is true? Not true?” ·        “What would I tell a friend who had this thought?” ·        “Is there another way of looking at the situation or an alternate explanation?” ·        “How might I look at this situation if I didn’t have depression?” As you cross-examine your negative thoughts, you may be surprised at how quickly they crumble. In the process, you’ll develop a more balanced perspective and help to relieve your depression.   When to get professional help for depression If you’ve taken self-help steps and made positive lifestyle changes and still find your depression getting worse, seek professional help. Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression can be treated and you can feel better! Don’t forget about these self-help tips, though. Even if you’re receiving professional help, these tips can be part of your treatment plan, speeding your recovery and preventing depression from returning.   I wish you much luck with your next step so that you can live a more satisfied life!   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Dipersonlazation

Dear Bobo,   Thank you very much for your message.   I understand that we are going through some fluctuations with our emotions and often it can feel like we are going backwards. However the reality is that the night is always darkest before the dawn. The reason you are feeling discouraged is because you are trying to move forward in this healing process, therefore when you do experience any kind of anxiety or depression you begin to doubt yourself in this process.   Meanwhile, as a human being we will always have times when we feel anxious or depressed. That is normal and natural. Just like there are days that it rains, there are also days that the sun shines. This isn't a problem to be fixed.    We will only feel more depressed if we constantly compare ourselves with our old selves in the past that seemed to be happier, while we forget that back then we did not have this much on our plate to worry and we did not experience what we have experienced recently that gave us hurts and pain. Therefore it isn't fair to our current self if we always think about how to go back in time, that isn't possible anyways.   To further recover from feelings of depression and anxiety, we must constantly be thinking about how to develop a healthy, positive interaction with ourselves.   Happy relationships all depend on how happy we are with ourselves. So how happy are we?   If you feel like you're on a constant quest for inner bliss, you might be asking yourself: If there was one secret on how to be happy in your relationship or marriage, workplace, home life and family wouldn't you have learned it by now?   Are you constantly searching, asking people who seem happy, reading articles and watching videos on how to be happy? If so, you're certainly not alone. Online search engines get millions of people asking this question, and the internet is full of promises that this strategy or that formula will deliver you to a place of lasting happiness. Yet, many miss the main point: they never even touch on the fact that the real key to happiness with others is happiness with yourself.   If you haven't noticed or been here yourself (most of us have), an insecure person's need for constant approval is exhausting. Those who are happy and love themselves don't hang around with that kind of negative energy. Since we can't change other people, lead by example and others will follow in your footsteps, becoming good role models themselves. Here are 5 lessons that I learned (still learning) to find peace within ourselves and enjoy true happiness that does not depend on others.   1. Forgive Yourself   Forgive yourself for anything and everything you think you caused that was bad in your or someone else's life. You can't go back for a do-over, so learn the lesson and move forward, promising to better handle any similar situation that may arise. Now you're freed up to relax more and have greater peace of mind without beating yourself up over guilt and resentment.   2. Understand That You Are Complete   And understand that, "You complete me," was just a cheesy line in a Tom Cruise movie. (I loved that line at first too... for a few seconds, until I realized how inaccurate it was. Keep reading to learn why!) The reason most of us don't feel complete, and latched onto that line like it was the end-all be-all relationship concept is because we're waiting for someone else to be or do something that makes us feel whole.   First of all, as mentioned, we are already complete. But even if we weren't, no one else would be able to complete us anyway - it's impossible. When we put our happiness in someone else's hands we set them up for failure. Why would we do that to someone we care about? Because we don't realize we are the only ones who control our happiness.   Does this mean if you're unhappy it's your fault? Yes. Does this also put you in a position of power in your life? Absolutely. You want your relationships to be the joining of two complete individuals to create a third, larger entity so that you're a part of something, not just half of something. The whole "my other half" thing just breeds insecurity, which leads to the most painful relationship challenges like jealousy, abuse and infidelity. Why on earth would you want your happiness to be determined by someone or something outside of yourself?   3. Get To Know Yourself   When do you feel you're at your best when you're alone? Are you reading your favorite book overlooking a beautiful view? Enjoying your favorite tea, watching a movie? Shopping outside at the farmers market? Listening to your favorite music? How does your body feel? Healthy? Need some work? No one will be happier than you when your body looks good and functions well. This is a good confidence builder and when you have more confidence, you look better and healthier, and carry yourself in a completely different way that attracts confident people to you.   Here's a personal example: I had a spider vein on my lower leg and didn't feel comfortable in shorts for years. I finally had it removed and couldn't believe how much better I felt. My posture and confidence in shorts was much improved. Some things are easily fixable and for the others we may need to adjust our perspective a bit.   What are your favorite parts of yourself - your appearance, your character traits, your values or your personality? Do you get a kick out of your great sense of humor? I get a kick out of mine. I laugh to myself quite often! Are you really excited that you value honesty, which has attracted honest, genuine people to you? Are your eyes or hands or knees your favorite part of your body? Get to know your favorite parts and love them all.   4. Take A Good Look At Yourself   Take a look and notice how amazing you are. Keep your self-talk positive. There are things supermodels hate about themselves, so don't go thinking you're the only one who has dislikes. You can be happy with yourself even if there are things you'd like to change. I've always been shorter than most other people and would have given anything to be "normal" height. It took me 27 years of hating my height when many other people always wanted to be taller and would have traded me in an instant. Look how many years I experienced self-induced suffering. (This describes all suffering by the way. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.)   What are you good at, best at and want to improve at? What are your talents and what skills have you developed? What would you like to do in your life that you haven't done yet? What is the best thing you've ever done? Are you noticing that you might ask some of these questions on a date to get to know someone and determine if you like them or not? We get to know people by asking questions although we rarely ask them of ourselves. And when someone else asks, we sometimes answer differently than when we're asking ourselves.   5. Ask Yourself Questions   To find out more about yourself, ask yourself the questions you would ask on a date. The quality of your relationships is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Ask good questions and lots of them (more than you would ask on a date; it's OK to be a chatterbox with yourself) to build that strong, healthy relationship with yourself.   Take time away from other people and be happily alone. At first, it might feel weird choosing to be alone but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." I went from being scared to sit alone in Starbucks for fear some stranger would think I didn't have any friends to loving going places alone. I have attracted wonderful friends by learning how to like myself and since like attracts like (energy), they happily do things on their own too. Yes, we do enjoy each other's company as well; we don't just talk about all the things we did by ourselves (although that would be funny).   Welcome to your inner power. You are qualified, capable and worthy of being happy with yourself regardless of anyone else on the planet so lead by example and show others how it's done. You will see that you can have much more fulfilling relationships without putting the responsibility of your happiness on someone else.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Is there an underlying issue that could be causing me to lose interest in literally everything?

Is there an underlying issue that could be causing me to lose interest in literally everything? I read where you shared that you never feel secure in anything that you currently do at this time. You also shared that you never feel complete happiness.  You shared whether it is a job, a relationship, friendship, a project or anything. You also shared that you always feel physically alone where you described an emptiness that you can feel in your chest. You questioned is there an underlying issue that could be causing you to lose interest in literally everything? Based on your question, I would highly recommend that you seek help from a licensed professional counselor and or licensed mental health professional to discuss what specifically is causing you to lose interest in literally everything at this time. A licensed professional counselor and or licensed mental health professional therapist can help you discuss and process what triggers you to experience feeling unhappy and losing interest in literally everything at the moment. Emotional distress is a huge factor in possibly adding to some of your current thoughts of feeling unhappy and losing interest in literally everything that can easily manifest into depression. It is quite beneficial to have a licensed professional counselor and or licensed mental health therapist to discuss your specific thoughts and feelings in a safe and conducive environment of your choice. Taking the time to find the proper licensed professional counselor and or licensed mental health therapist is very important, so you can feel comfortable in working to making the necessary changes to improve your mental well being as a means of decreasing your emotional distress at this time that may have manifested into depression. Depression can be treated with the use medication and therapy combined. Behavior interventions, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have all been beneficial in treating individuals who have struggled with feeling unhappy and losing interest in literally everything. A licensed professional counselor and or a licensed mental health therapist can provide you counseling in a safe and confidential setting without feeling judged or ridiculed. A licensed professional counselor and or a licensed mental health therapist can also introduce you to deep breathing techniques, stress relaxation techniques, calming techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, grounding techniques, positive interpersonal social skills and imagery as a means of decreasing your thoughts of feeling unhappy and losing interest in literally everything at this time. In an effort to decrease your thoughts of feeling unhappy and losing interest in literally everything, you can also try to commit to changing the way you think. It will take a lot of practice, dedication and determination to alleviate increased thoughts of feeling unhappy and losing interest in literally everything. However, trying to do this will help you feel better and it can lead to your feeling much better and becoming more productive. You can recognize when it is happening and when you find it happening you can choose to think about something more productive. You can also look for solutions by committing to learning from your mistakes and solving your problems so you can productively move forward, set aside time to think when you notice you are not feeling productive outside of that scheduled time, remind yourself that you will think about it later, distract yourself with a self-care activity and you can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the key to living in the "here and now." When you become mindful, you will be completely present in the moment. It can be like a form of meditation that takes a lot of practice, but over time and with consistency, it can be very beneficial in decreasing your thoughts of not being productive in an effort to help you experience an overall healthier mental well-being at this time. Overall, I highly recommend that you seek help from a licensed professional counselor and or a licensed mental health therapist to properly assess your thoughts of feeling unhappy and losing interest in literally everything in regards to your current emotional distress at this time. Emotional and mental distress can look different for everyone because mental health is not a one size fits all. Therefore, it is very important to get personalized treatment for your specific and current mental and emotional needs in regards to decreasing your thoughts of feeling unhappy and losing interest in literally everything in that is currently causing you emotional distress at this time. I highly recommend that you contact the Betterhelp team to discuss what specific payment options and payment plans are available for you to access counseling services because you are wanting to know how to get help for yourself at this time. Betterhelp does offer financial aid and various other options for individuals who are seeking counseling for their personal and or emotional well-being through the use of affordable therapy sessions. The Betterhelp Platform is designed to be able to assist you better if you contact them directly. Contacting Betterhelp directly is the best way for them to verify your identity and securely help you with your specific account information and needs. When it comes to questions, issues or concerns in regards to the cost of using the Betterhelp platform please contact the Betterhelp team. You can reach out to the Betterhelp team for issues including but not limited to the following: billing issues, account questions and or concerns, and or subscription questions and or concerns. The Betterhelp members are there to help answer your questions, concerns and or issues, so if you have a question in regards to what the cost would be to begin using the Bettehelp platform you can contact the Beterhelp team members directly to gain accurate information in regards to what payment options are available for you if you decide to join the Betterhelp platform in regards to possibly talking to a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist. Please feel free to reach out to the Member Success Team directly by emailing contact@betterhelp.com to discuss what payment options are available for you to use the Betterhelp platform for you counseling needs and or therapy needs at this time. Best regards to you!
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I overcome my trauma from an abusive relationship?

Dear Rain,   Thank you for your message and courageously sharing the traumas that you have been through, and what they meant to you and affecting your life at the moment.   This is indeed a painful process that can cause some emotions rising on your end, that is also because for a very long time we have been simply coping with these wounds through our defense mechanisms, rather than actually looking at them and process them.    As you have said, perhaps we have learned to deal and cope with these abuses and traumas by making explanations for them, validating them and even accepting them as a part of our lives. While we have learned to move on without processing these traumas, we could still the effects they bring especially in the form of anxiety and even panic when we are being reminded or triggered by events and people who have inflicted these wounds on us.   To truly move on and not let these traumas affect us, we need to learn to bring closures to these wounds and bind them up. I am glad that you are aware of the need to bring closures, I'll explain more here when it comes to closure.   A lack of closure frequently prevents people from moving forward with their lives and achieving all that they could. It makes it more difficult to reach goals, find self-happiness or make meaningful relationships. For this reason, it is important to find a sense of closure with any situation that you feel is holding you back.   Closure is any interaction, information, or practice that allows a person to feel that a traumatic, upsetting, or confusing life event has been resolved. The term has its origins in Gestalt psychology, but it is more commonly used to refer to the final resolution to a conflict or problem.   Closure means finality; a letting go of what once was. Finding closure implies a complete acceptance of what has happened and an honoring of the transition away from what's finished to something new. In other words, closure describes the ability to go beyond imposed limitations in order to find different possibilities.   People seek answers and explanations: They want to know why. However, finding answers does not necessarily end pain. Sometimes a person who seeks closure finds that an explanation makes no difference, or that it actually worsens their pain. Others find that closure may simply be a starting point for moving past a painful event. Though the trauma is not resolved, the person is better able to work through it. Seeking a definitive way to finalize grief and move on belies the importance of the grieving process. Simply putting an end to one's painful memories may be more harmful than helpful.   In some cases, though, closure is a profoundly transformative experience that does allow the person to move past the traumatic event. For example, a victim of abuse may need to confront the abuser and see them imprisoned before he or she can begin to feel safe again. In acknowledgment of this, the criminal justice system is increasingly recognizing the need for closure by instituting programs allowing victims and their families to meet with offenders in a controlled setting.   Unfortunately, there are times when closure is simply unattainable. This may be true in situations where someone moved locations or passed away before being able to resolve a problem. In some cases, the other involved person is simply unwilling to engage. In times like these, it can be easy to become bogged down by the lack of closure. It can be easy to cover up the underlying problem with meaningless coping mechanisms like substance abuse. With time and effort, there are many ways to move past unattainable closure to live happily once more.   The most important part of moving on from a lack of closure is taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally. This is also why we have began our therapy process with the focus on self-compassion. Self-compassion is the core of why we want to bring closures and bind up these wounds, because they make us feel better and they are the best decisions we can make for ourselves.   When we bring closures to our traumas, we need to keep in mind that we are doing this not because we have to, but we want to. When we practice forgiving those who have wounded us and let them go, we are not agreeing / accepting / acknowledging what they have done and not hold them accountable, we are simply letting go of the bitterness, resentment and hatred that we have hide with us all these years.   As for our physical health, engaging in adequate active exercises could be helpful. Improving your physical health through diet and exercise can help to improve self-esteem and emotional well-being, both of which are essential to moving on from unattainable closure.   Meditation, hobbies and social interaction are all great ways to nurture your mental health and find the inner happiness that makes a lack of closure bearable.   While self-care is essential to moving on from a lack of closure, it is often not enough to resolve the problem altogether. One great exercise to help you move forward is to write a letter to the individual that you have not received closure with. In this letter, you can describe all of your feelings about the situation and how you wish things had ended. Once the letter is complete, you can bury it, burn it, or simply throw it in the trash. Writing an unsent letter can help you get those feelings out that are hiding painfully inside and find a sense of self-resolution.   Forgiveness is another essential component to finding a sense of closure at times that closure cannot otherwise be achieved. Forgiving a person that caused you pain can sometimes seem like an impossible task. However, it is possible with daily efforts. We can go into details later regarding forgiveness, one step at a time.   To move past unattainable closure, you may also need to forgive yourself for anything you feel you did wrong in the situation. If you blame yourself for a broken relationship, death of a love one, or anything else, it will be impossible to move on and find inner happiness.   I'll pause here to learn from your thoughts, looking forward to talking with you more. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I believe in me that I can, how can I stand up, shout it out? be someone unique as I feel in

Hello,   Thank you very much for your message.   I understand that we are going through some fluctuations with our emotions and often it can feel like we are going backwards. However the reality is that the night is always darkest before the dawn. The reason you are feeling discouraged is because you are trying to move forward in this healing process, therefore when you do experience any kind of anxiety or depression you begin to doubt yourself in this process.   Meanwhile, as a human being we will always have times when we feel anxious or depressed. That is normal and natural. Just like there are days that it rains, there are also days that the sun shines. This isn't a problem to be fixed.    We will only feel more depressed if we constantly compare ourselves with our old selves in the past that seemed to be happier, while we forget that back then we did not have this much on our plate to worry and we did not experience what we have experienced recently that gave us hurts and pain. Therefore it isn't fair to our current self if we always think about how to go back in time, that isn't possible anyways.   To further recover from feelings of depression and anxiety, we must constantly be thinking about how to develop a healthy, positive interaction with ourselves.   Happy relationships all depend on how happy we are with ourselves. So how happy are we?   If you feel like you're on a constant quest for inner bliss, you might be asking yourself: If there was one secret on how to be happy in your relationship or marriage, workplace, home life and family wouldn't you have learned it by now?   Are you constantly searching, asking people who seem happy, reading articles and watching videos on how to be happy? If so, you're certainly not alone. Online search engines get millions of people asking this question, and the internet is full of promises that this strategy or that formula will deliver you to a place of lasting happiness. Yet, many miss the main point: they never even touch on the fact that the real key to happiness with others is happiness with yourself.   If you haven't noticed or been here yourself (most of us have), an insecure person's need for constant approval is exhausting. Those who are happy and love themselves don't hang around with that kind of negative energy. Since we can't change other people, lead by example and others will follow in your footsteps, becoming good role models themselves. Here are 5 lessons that I learned (still learning) to find peace within ourselves and enjoy true happiness that does not depend on others.   1. Forgive Yourself   Forgive yourself for anything and everything you think you caused that was bad in your or someone else's life. You can't go back for a do-over, so learn the lesson and move forward, promising to better handle any similar situation that may arise. Now you're freed up to relax more and have greater peace of mind without beating yourself up over guilt and resentment.   2. Understand That You Are Complete   And understand that, "You complete me," was just a cheesy line in a Tom Cruise movie. (I loved that line at first too... for a few seconds, until I realized how inaccurate it was. Keep reading to learn why!) The reason most of us don't feel complete, and latched onto that line like it was the end-all be-all relationship concept is because we're waiting for someone else to be or do something that makes us feel whole.   First of all, as mentioned, we are already complete. But even if we weren't, no one else would be able to complete us anyway - it's impossible. When we put our happiness in someone else's hands we set them up for failure. Why would we do that to someone we care about? Because we don't realize we are the only ones who control our happiness.   Does this mean if you're unhappy it's your fault? Yes. Does this also put you in a position of power in your life? Absolutely. You want your relationships to be the joining of two complete individuals to create a third, larger entity so that you're a part of something, not just half of something. The whole "my other half" thing just breeds insecurity, which leads to the most painful relationship challenges like jealousy, abuse and infidelity. Why on earth would you want your happiness to be determined by someone or something outside of yourself?   3. Get To Know Yourself   When do you feel you're at your best when you're alone? Are you reading your favorite book overlooking a beautiful view? Enjoying your favorite tea, watching a movie? Shopping outside at the farmers market? Listening to your favorite music? How does your body feel? Healthy? Need some work? No one will be happier than you when your body looks good and functions well. This is a good confidence builder and when you have more confidence, you look better and healthier, and carry yourself in a completely different way that attracts confident people to you.   Here's a personal example: I had a spider vein on my lower leg and didn't feel comfortable in shorts for years. I finally had it removed and couldn't believe how much better I felt. My posture and confidence in shorts was much improved. Some things are easily fixable and for the others we may need to adjust our perspective a bit.   What are your favorite parts of yourself - your appearance, your character traits, your values or your personality? Do you get a kick out of your great sense of humor? I get a kick out of mine. I laugh to myself quite often! Are you really excited that you value honesty, which has attracted honest, genuine people to you? Are your eyes or hands or knees your favorite part of your body? Get to know your favorite parts and love them all.   4. Take A Good Look At Yourself   Take a look and notice how amazing you are. Keep your self-talk positive. There are things supermodels hate about themselves, so don't go thinking you're the only one who has dislikes. You can be happy with yourself even if there are things you'd like to change. I've always been shorter than most other people and would have given anything to be "normal" height. It took me 27 years of hating my height when many other people always wanted to be taller and would have traded me in an instant. Look how many years I experienced self-induced suffering. (This describes all suffering by the way. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.)   What are you good at, best at and want to improve at? What are your talents and what skills have you developed? What would you like to do in your life that you haven't done yet? What is the best thing you've ever done? Are you noticing that you might ask some of these questions on a date to get to know someone and determine if you like them or not? We get to know people by asking questions although we rarely ask them of ourselves. And when someone else asks, we sometimes answer differently than when we're asking ourselves.   5. Ask Yourself Questions   To find out more about yourself, ask yourself the questions you would ask on a date. The quality of your relationships is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Ask good questions and lots of them (more than you would ask on a date; it's OK to be a chatterbox with yourself) to build that strong, healthy relationship with yourself.   Take time away from other people and be happily alone. At first, it might feel weird choosing to be alone but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." I went from being scared to sit alone in Starbucks for fear some stranger would think I didn't have any friends to loving going places alone. I have attracted wonderful friends by learning how to like myself and since like attracts like (energy), they happily do things on their own too. Yes, we do enjoy each other's company as well; we don't just talk about all the things we did by ourselves (although that would be funny).   Welcome to your inner power. You are qualified, capable and worthy of being happy with yourself regardless of anyone else on the planet so lead by example and show others how it's done. You will see that you can have much more fulfilling relationships without putting the responsibility of your happiness on someone else.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

feeling depressed, I don't wanna talk to friend and trying to boost my college application..

Hello Ibrahim,   Thank you for reaching out on The Betterhlep Platform with your query: I am feeling depressed, I don't wanna talk to friend and trying to boost my college application.   Being unable to shift from a depressive state can be so hard to do.  I am glad you have reached out for some help with this! I will share some information and some practical tips for you to try on your own to create some momentum for change and boost your mood.  If you have been feeling depressed most of the time you may need to seek some professional help.  I will cover that later.   Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to take the steps that will help you to feel better. Sometimes, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like completing paperwork tasks (eg applications) or like exercising, spending time with friends, can seem exhausting or impossible to put into action. It’s the Catch-22 of depression recovery: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There is a big difference, however, between something that’s difficult and something that’s impossible.   While recovering from depression isn’t quick or easy, you do have more control than you realize—even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and build from there. You may not have much energy, but by drawing on all your reserves, you should have enough to take a walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one, for example.   Taking the first step is always the hardest. But going for a walk or getting up and dancing to your favorite music, for example, is something you can do right now. And it can substantially boost your mood and energy for several hours—long enough to put a second recovery step into action, such as preparing a mood-boosting meal or arranging to meet an old friend. By taking the following small but positive steps day by day, you’ll soon lift the heavy fog of depression and find yourself feeling happier, healthier, and more hopeful again.   Coping with depression tip 1: Reach out and stay connected   Getting support plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate so that connecting to even close family members and friends can be tough.  You can talk about the other things in your life with them and perhaps not focus on things you are struggling with at the moment.   You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed at your situation, or guilty for neglecting certain relationships. But this is just the depression talking. Staying connected to other people and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. Your loved ones care about you and want to help. And if you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, it’s never too late to  build new relationships and improve your support network.   How to reach out for depression support   Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to fix you; they just need to be a good listener—someone who’ll listen attentively and compassionately without being distracted or judging you.   Make face-time a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they don’t replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away.   Try to keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it. Often when you’re depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will make you feel less depressed.   Find ways to support others. It’s nice to receive support, but research shows you get an even bigger mood boost from providing support yourself. So find ways—both big and small—to help others: volunteer be a listening ear for a friend, do something nice for somebody.   Care for a pet. While nothing can replace the human connection, pets can bring joy and companionship into your life and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also get you outside of yourself and give you a sense of being needed—both powerful antidotes to depression.   Join a support group for depression. Being with others dealing with depression can go a long way in reducing your sense of isolation. You can also encourage each other, give and receive advice on how to cope, and share your experiences.   tips for staying connected Talk to one person about your feelings. Help someone else by volunteering. Have lunch or coffee with a friend. Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly. Accompany someone to the movies, a concert, or a small get-together. Call or email an old friend. Go for a walk with a workout buddy. Schedule a weekly dinner date. Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club. Confide in a clergy member, teacher, or sports coach.     Tip 2: Do things that make you feel good In order to overcome depression, you have to do things that relax and energize you. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, learning how to better manage stress, setting limits on what you’re able to do, and scheduling fun activities into your day.   Do things you enjoy (or used to) While you can’t force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, you can push yourself to do things, even when you don’t feel like it. You might be surprised at how much better you feel once you’re out in the world. Even if your depression doesn’t lift immediately, you’ll gradually feel more upbeat and energetic as you make time for fun activities. Pick up a former hobby or a sport you used to like. Express yourself creatively through music, art, or writing. Go out with friends. Take a day trip to a museum, the mountains, or the ballpark.   Support your health   Aim for eight hours of sleep. Depression typically involves sleep problems; whether you’re sleeping too little or too much, your mood suffers. Get on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits.    Keep stress in check. Not only does stress prolong and worsen depression, but it can also trigger it. Figure out all the things in your life that stress you out, such as work overload, money problems, or unsupportive relationships, and find ways to relieve the pressure and gain control.    Practice relaxation techniques. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.   Develop a “wellness toolbox” to deal with depression Come up with a list of things that you can do for a quick mood boost. The more “tools” for coping with depression you have, the better. Try and implement a few of these ideas each day, even if you’re feeling good. Spend some time in nature. List what you like about yourself. Read a good book. Watch a funny movie or TV show. Take a long, hot bath. Take care of a few small tasks. Play with a pet. Talk to friends or family face-to-face. Listen to music. Do something spontaneous.     Tip 3: Get moving   When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task, let alone working out! But exercise is a powerful depression fighter—and one of the most important tools in your recovery arsenal. Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms. It also helps prevent relapse once you’re well.   To get the most benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. This doesn’t have to be all at once—and it’s okay to start small. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours.   Exercise is something you can do right now to boost your mood   Your fatigue will improve if you stick with it. Starting to exercise can be difficult when you’re depressed and feeling exhausted. But research shows that your energy levels will improve if you keep with it. Exercise will help you to feel energized and less fatigued, not more.   Find exercises that are continuous and rhythmic. The most benefits for depression come from rhythmic exercise—such as walking, weight training, swimming, martial arts, or dancing—where you move both your arms and legs.   Add a mindfulness element, especially if your depression is rooted in unresolved trauma, or fed by obsessive, negative thoughts. Focus on how your body feels as you move—such as the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, or the feeling of the wind on your skin, or the rhythm of your breathing.   Pair up with an exercise partner. Not only does working out with others enable you to spend time socializing, it can also help to keep you motivated. Try joining a running club, taking a water aerobics or dance class, seeking out tennis partners, or enrolling in a soccer or volleyball league.   Take a dog for a walk. If you do not have a dog - volunteer to walk homeless dogs for an animal shelter or rescue group. You’ll not only be helping yourself but also be helping to socialize and exercise the dogs, making them more adoptable.     Tip 4: Eat a healthy, depression-fighting diet   What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your brain and mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones (such as certain meats).   Don’t skip meals. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours. Minimize sugar and refined carbs. You may crave sugary snacks, baked goods, or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these “feel-good” foods quickly lead to a crash in energy and mood.  Aim to cut out as much of these foods as possible.   Boost your B vitamins. Deficiencies in B vitamins such as folic acid and B-12 can trigger depression. To get more, take a B-complex vitamin supplement or eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs.   Boost your mood with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids play an essential role in stabilizing mood. The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, tuna, and some cold-water fish oil supplements.   Tip 5: Get a daily dose of sunlight   Sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood. Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun for at least 15 minutes a day. Remove sunglasses (but never stare directly at the sun) and use sunscreen as needed. Take a walk on your lunch break, have your coffee outside, enjoy an al fresco meal, or spend time gardening. Double up on the benefits of sunlight by exercising outside. Try hiking, walking in a local park, or playing golf or tennis with a friend. Increase the amount of natural light in your home and workplace by opening blinds and drapes and sitting near windows. If you live somewhere with little winter sunshine, try using a light therapy box.   Dealing with the winter blues For some people, the reduced daylight hours of winter lead to a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  SAD can make you feel like a completely different person to who you are in the summer: hopeless, sad, tense, or stressed, with no interest in friends or activities you normally love. No matter how hopeless you feel, though, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your mood stable throughout the year.     Tip 6: Challenge negative thinking   Do you feel like you’re powerless or weak? That bad things happen and there’s not much you can do about it? That your situation is hopeless? Depression puts a negative spin on everything, including the way you see yourself and your expectations for the future.     When these types of thoughts overwhelm you, it’s important to remember that this is a symptom of your depression and these irrational, pessimistic attitudes—known as cognitive distortions—aren’t realistic. When you really examine them they don’t hold up. But even so, they can be tough to give up.    You can’t break out of this pessimistic mind frame by telling yourself to “just think positive.” Often, it’s part of a lifelong pattern of thinking that’s become so automatic you’re not even completely aware of it. Rather, the trick is to identify the type of negative thoughts that are fueling your depression, and replace them with a more balanced way of thinking. Negative, unrealistic ways of thinking that fuel depression All-or-nothing thinking. Looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground (“If everything is not perfect, I’m a total failure.”) Overgeneralization. Generalizing from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever (“I had a bad date, I’ll never find anyone.”) The mental filter – Ignoring positive events and focusing on the negative. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right. (“I got the last question on the test wrong. I’m an idiot.”) Diminishing the positive. Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count (“She said she had a good time on our date, but I think she was just being nice.”) Jumping to conclusions. Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader (“He must think I’m pathetic”) or a fortune teller (“I’ll be stuck in this dead-end job forever.”) Emotional reasoning. Believing that the way you feel reflects reality (“I feel like such a loser. Everyone must be laughing at me!”) ‘Shoulds’ and ‘should-nots.’ Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn’t do, and beating yourself up if you don’t live up to your rules. (“I should never have interviewed for that job. I’m an idiot for thinking I could get it.”) Labeling. Classifying yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings (“I’m a failure; an idiot; a loser.”)   Put your thoughts on the witness stand!   Once you identify the destructive thoughts patterns that contribute to your depression, you can start to challenge them with questions such as: “What’s the evidence that this thought is true? Not true?” “What would I tell a friend who had this thought?” “Is there another way of looking at the situation or an alternate explanation?” “How might I look at this situation if I didn’t have depression?”   As you cross-examine your negative thoughts, you may be surprised at how quickly they crumble. In the process, you’ll develop a more balanced perspective and help to relieve your depression.     When to get professional help for depression   If you’ve taken self-help steps and made positive lifestyle changes and still find your depression getting worse, seek professional help. Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but  depression can be treated and you can feel better and maybe get you motivated to do more in your life!  Applying some of these self-help tasks may just give you the nudge you need to complete your college application and push you to make the first step needed to get you unstuck so you can attend to the tests you need to take this month.   Don’t forget about these self-help tips, though. Even if you’re receiving professional help, these tips can be part of your treatment plan, speeding your recovery and preventing depression from returning.   I wish you much luck with your next step!     In Kindness, Gaynor
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I stop fixating on my own thoughts and feelings?

Dear Bella Claire,   Thank you very much for your message.   I understand that we are going through some fluctuations with our emotions and often it can feel like we are going backwards. However the reality is that the night is always darkest before the dawn. The reason you are feeling discouraged is because you are trying to move forward in this healing process, therefore when you do experience any kind of anxiety or depression you begin to doubt yourself in this process.   Meanwhile, as a human being we will always have times when we feel anxious or depressed. That is normal and natural. Just like there are days that it rains, there are also days that the sun shines. This isn't a problem to be fixed.    We will only feel more depressed if we constantly compare ourselves with our old selves in the past that seemed to be happier, while we forget that back then we did not have this much on our plate to worry and we did not experience what we have experienced recently that gave us hurts and pain. Therefore it isn't fair to our current self if we always think about how to go back in time, that isn't possible anyways.   To further recover from feelings of depression and anxiety, we must constantly be thinking about how to develop a healthy, positive interaction with ourselves.   Happy relationships all depend on how happy we are with ourselves. So how happy are we?   If you feel like you're on a constant quest for inner bliss, you might be asking yourself: If there was one secret on how to be happy in your relationship or marriage, workplace, home life and family wouldn't you have learned it by now?   Are you constantly searching, asking people who seem happy, reading articles and watching videos on how to be happy? If so, you're certainly not alone. Online search engines get millions of people asking this question, and the internet is full of promises that this strategy or that formula will deliver you to a place of lasting happiness. Yet, many miss the main point: they never even touch on the fact that the real key to happiness with others is happiness with yourself.   If you haven't noticed or been here yourself (most of us have), an insecure person's need for constant approval is exhausting. Those who are happy and love themselves don't hang around with that kind of negative energy. Since we can't change other people, lead by example and others will follow in your footsteps, becoming good role models themselves. Here are 5 lessons that I learned (still learning) to find peace within ourselves and enjoy true happiness that does not depend on others.   1. Forgive Yourself   Forgive yourself for anything and everything you think you caused that was bad in your or someone else's life. You can't go back for a do-over, so learn the lesson and move forward, promising to better handle any similar situation that may arise. Now you're freed up to relax more and have greater peace of mind without beating yourself up over guilt and resentment.   2. Understand That You Are Complete   And understand that, "You complete me," was just a cheesy line in a Tom Cruise movie. (I loved that line at first too... for a few seconds, until I realized how inaccurate it was. Keep reading to learn why!) The reason most of us don't feel complete, and latched onto that line like it was the end-all be-all relationship concept is because we're waiting for someone else to be or do something that makes us feel whole.   First of all, as mentioned, we are already complete. But even if we weren't, no one else would be able to complete us anyway - it's impossible. When we put our happiness in someone else's hands we set them up for failure. Why would we do that to someone we care about? Because we don't realize we are the only ones who control our happiness.   Does this mean if you're unhappy it's your fault? Yes. Does this also put you in a position of power in your life? Absolutely. You want your relationships to be the joining of two complete individuals to create a third, larger entity so that you're a part of something, not just half of something. The whole "my other half" thing just breeds insecurity, which leads to the most painful relationship challenges like jealousy, abuse and infidelity. Why on earth would you want your happiness to be determined by someone or something outside of yourself?   3. Get To Know Yourself   When do you feel you're at your best when you're alone? Are you reading your favorite book overlooking a beautiful view? Enjoying your favorite tea, watching a movie? Shopping outside at the farmers market? Listening to your favorite music? How does your body feel? Healthy? Need some work? No one will be happier than you when your body looks good and functions well. This is a good confidence builder and when you have more confidence, you look better and healthier, and carry yourself in a completely different way that attracts confident people to you.   Here's a personal example: I had a spider vein on my lower leg and didn't feel comfortable in shorts for years. I finally had it removed and couldn't believe how much better I felt. My posture and confidence in shorts was much improved. Some things are easily fixable and for the others we may need to adjust our perspective a bit.   What are your favorite parts of yourself - your appearance, your character traits, your values or your personality? Do you get a kick out of your great sense of humor? I get a kick out of mine. I laugh to myself quite often! Are you really excited that you value honesty, which has attracted honest, genuine people to you? Are your eyes or hands or knees your favorite part of your body? Get to know your favorite parts and love them all.   4. Take A Good Look At Yourself   Take a look and notice how amazing you are. Keep your self-talk positive. There are things supermodels hate about themselves, so don't go thinking you're the only one who has dislikes. You can be happy with yourself even if there are things you'd like to change. I've always been shorter than most other people and would have given anything to be "normal" height. It took me 27 years of hating my height when many other people always wanted to be taller and would have traded me in an instant. Look how many years I experienced self-induced suffering. (This describes all suffering by the way. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.)   What are you good at, best at and want to improve at? What are your talents and what skills have you developed? What would you like to do in your life that you haven't done yet? What is the best thing you've ever done? Are you noticing that you might ask some of these questions on a date to get to know someone and determine if you like them or not? We get to know people by asking questions although we rarely ask them of ourselves. And when someone else asks, we sometimes answer differently than when we're asking ourselves.   5. Ask Yourself Questions   To find out more about yourself, ask yourself the questions you would ask on a date. The quality of your relationships is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Ask good questions and lots of them (more than you would ask on a date; it's OK to be a chatterbox with yourself) to build that strong, healthy relationship with yourself.   Take time away from other people and be happily alone. At first, it might feel weird choosing to be alone but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." I went from being scared to sit alone in Starbucks for fear some stranger would think I didn't have any friends to loving going places alone. I have attracted wonderful friends by learning how to like myself and since like attracts like (energy), they happily do things on their own too. Yes, we do enjoy each other's company as well; we don't just talk about all the things we did by ourselves (although that would be funny).   Welcome to your inner power. You are qualified, capable and worthy of being happy with yourself regardless of anyone else on the planet so lead by example and show others how it's done. You will see that you can have much more fulfilling relationships without putting the responsibility of your happiness on someone else.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Can I have PTSD after 2.5 years of an accident?

Dear Ash,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022