Stress Answers

How do i heal from losing everything and under tremendous stress while grieving and very ill?

    My condolences on your loss. Not only did you lose your father and aunt, but your relationship with your brothers also dissipated when they decided to sue you. You experienced all of this while having physical limitations. You rightfully reached out to a therapy who can help support you, but you also feel betrayed. Now you are left alone picking up the pieces. I am so sorry you are going through this. I encourage you to find support and betterhelp has several mental health health professionals that can help you. You have the option of switching counselors if you do not feel comfortable. Our goal is to make sure that you feel seen and heard. We do not want you to go through this alone. You can use the code "sharethecode" for 1 free month of therapy to help you get started because you mentioned that you are going through financial stressors. We also offer financial aid after meeting qualifications. You are going through grief. Lots of different types. Wait, what? There is more than one? Yes, and I list and explain them below.   Grief is a mixture of several emotions that an individual has when coping with a loss. Believe it or not, even animals experience it too. People can feel grief when they lose a loved one, but they can also feel it with other losses. Losing a home in a fire, losing a job during the COVID-19 pandemic, losing money after paying off a significant debt, and losing friendships can all create a grief response. It is difficult to express grief. There are cultures, family traditions, and social rules that contribute to this problem. But luckily, mental health has increased too. It is a safe place to share and express grief with a non-judgmental unbiased professional.  Think about the last time you felt grief. Was it over a person who died? Or was it about an event that happened in your life? Grief can happen when we least expect it. And it happens more often than you might realize.  Different Types of Grief  Grief involves a variety of emotions and a lot of change. There are many similar feelings and experiences that some people share, like the five stages of grief. To add distinction, there are several types of grief, each based on different circumstances and timing. Normal grief: This is the typical reaction a person has when coping with loss. The emotions are often felt strongly at first, then gradually become easier to manage. Eventually, the person goes back to everyday life. Normal grief occurs not only with the death of a person but also in the loss of a relationship, friendship, job, financial security, and health. Anticipatory grief: This type of grief is felt before the actual loss happens. Anticipatory grief hits hard when there’s nothing that can be done to avoid the loss. The person feels anxiety and concern for the dying person, imagines their death, and looks ahead of the actual death. It does not reduce or replace the grief felt after the loss occurs. This grief is more common when a person has a serious illness like cancer or Alzheimer's disease.  Complicated grief: When a person's grief is intense and ongoing for many weeks, they may have an abnormal reaction called complicated grief. They may feel numb, bitter, and feel a persistent longing for their loved one or their broken situation. With this kind of grief, typical daily activities become difficult. People with complicated grief often notice improvement with therapy. Sudden loss: When a person experiences an unexpected loss, their first reaction is shock. Like anyone feeling grief, they must adjust to life after their loss. However, they may also struggle with their new and unexpected reality. Depending on the kind of loss, they may have some trauma to work through. Disenfranchised grief: Grief is not always a socially acceptable emotion. A person feels disenfranchised grief when their loss is not accepted by society. Examples can include suicide, the death of a pet, a lost job, or the death of a person with disabilities. Most people who grieve over these losses may feel like their grief is less valuable, or maybe even shameful. They have trouble reaching out and getting support. These individuals often mourn over their losses alone or in private. Secondary loss: Secondary loss occurs after the primary loss, such as death, divorce, or traumatic event. After the death of a loved one, a break-up, or a divorce, a person may lose touch with common friends or family members. After losing a spouse to death or divorce, a person loses a companion and a sexual partner. Losing a child means a change in both sibling and parent-child relationships. These losses are significant but often go unnoticed. Anniversary grief: Grief can come and go in waves. This is especially common when anniversaries related to the loss come around. For example, the first anniversary of a person's death can bring on a minor wave of grief. Special calendar moments like the last Christmas or last birthday can also trigger a grief reaction. These may also happen for several anniversaries. How to Cope with Grief Rest and relax Your body can get worn out from grief. Feelings of anxiety, stress, and constant crying can leave you feeling tired. Make sure you get as much rest as you can. Take frequent naps when needed and go to bed earlier than you normally would. If you have trouble sleeping, make an effort to relax and calm your mind several times during the day. This can help you fall asleep faster at night. Try gently stretching your head toward your shoulders, first focus on one side and then the other. This will stretch your neck muscles and release tension. Connect with others and ask for support Turn to your friends and family when you need them. Call them when you need comfort. Their support and presence will help you not feel so alone, especially if they are also grieving. Talk about the loss to get things off your chest. Saying things out loud and expressing how you really feel can help you release pent-up emotion. This may also be a good time to tell stories and bring up good memories. Take a break from drugs, alcohol, and self-medicating When the strongest feelings of grief come up, you might desperately wish to make it go away by drowning your sorrows with drugs or alcohol. It is important to resist the temptation. You may forget the pain for a few hours, but it will come right back. Using drugs or alcohol can make your grieving process take longer. You are only covering up your emotions instead of facing and dealing with them.  Plan a few fun things to look forward to It's ok to spend time and have fun with others while you grieve. You don't have to talk about your feelings every time you're with other people. Doing fun things is a great distraction. Scheduling lunch with a friend or a trip to a park will give you something to put on your schedule and separate from your grief. Your grief may make you feel hopeless sometimes. Planning something fun can keep you looking forward. Take care of your spirituality Take this time to grow spiritually. If you believe in a higher power, you might find prayer comforting. Speak to a religious leader to help you deal with your grief. Connect with nature and the universe. Nature can also help with healing. Get out of the house for some fresh air or take a walk outside. Read books on spiritual growth or on grief. Explore something other than yourself. Talk to a grief counselor Grief is not a disorder, and it's not the same as depression. Some people who are grieving may need the support of a counselor, but it is important not to be afraid to do so if it becomes unmanageable. When searching for a counselor, choose someone who focuses on grief and bereavement.  These counselors have specialized training with various types of grief. If your grief makes daily life difficult and it doesn’t seem to get better, call a counselor in your area. They can help you cope and provide support. Join a support group, in person or online Support groups are ideal for helping people through grief. Everyone shares their experiences, helping each other feel less lonely.  Unfortunately, some people are not comfortable talking about their feelings with their family and friends. They may feel misunderstood or judged. In this case, an online support group may create a safe place to share and listen. How Do You Know If You’re Ready for Grief Counseling? Counseling isn’t a magic wand that takes your pain away. It takes commitment and effort, and that may be difficult to consider when you’re deep in grief. Here’s how to know when you may need counseling and how to tell if you’re ready. Signs you may need grief counseling Grief is not a mental disorder, but it can be a difficult and painful process. Here are some important signs that you may need the support and guidance found in grief counseling. Emotions are intense and you’re having trouble managing them You may notice that you can’t stop crying, you feel angry every day, or you often feel panicked for no reason. Feeling stuck in one emotional mode for a while may mean you’re having trouble coping. Can’t get into your normal routine You lack interest in things you normally enjoy and can’t engage in your usual routine. You may feel like everything is too much work or not interesting anymore. Time may seem to pass without you realizing it. Disrupted sleep patterns Grief is exhausting and stimulating at once. A prolonged pattern of unusual sleep keeps your emotions off-kilter. Insomnia may develop, or you may find yourself oversleeping each night or taking more naps. Thoughts of hurting yourself When you become immersed in so much emotional pain, you may feel like hurting yourself or ending your life to stop the pain. Your negative thoughts may tell you that you’re a burden and that everyone would be better off without you. Change in appetite and eating patterns You may notice a loss of appetite or interest in food. Or you may start emotional binge eating to cope with your feelings. You or others may also notice unintended weight loss or weight gain. Feeling emotionally numb for a long time You may feel like you’re stuck in an emotional fog, disconnected from reality or your relationships. You may struggle to keep track of the passage of time. Using harmful behaviors to cope with pain You may start drowning your emotions in with alcohol, prescription medications, or other drugs. You may push aside your grief with workaholic behavior or start enormous cleaning and home projects.  Signs you’re ready to try counseling You or your loved ones may realize you need more help to get through your grief. Here are some signs that you’re ready to step forward into grief counseling. You’re ready to talk to someone about your situation If you’ve isolated yourself or have been closed off, you may be ready to finally connect with someone. You may feel like it’s time to get some things off your chest and share your story. Counseling may seem like a way to lighten some of your emotional burden. What you’ve tried hasn’t worked and you feel stuck You want to step back into your regular life and you’ve tried everything you know how to do. But you still feel like you’re in a fog of pain, exhaustion, and mental confusion. Counseling can give you the guidance and fresh ideas you need to cope with your grief. You need to get back to your job but aren’t sure how You need your job and it’s been hard to get back into the swing of it again. You may have taken leave, or you may be back but struggling to be productive. If quitting your job isn’t an option, counseling may be necessary to get you back on your feet again. You want to reconnect with the world again Isolation can limit how much reality you need to deal with at a time. And while you’re hurting, these limits can keep everything manageable. But when you want to reconnect with the world again, it may be tough to do on your own. Counseling can help you face your emotions and reconnect with the world around you. You’re concerned about your self-destructive coping methods You may know that your nightly glass of wine or extra pain pill hurts you. But if you feel like you’ve become stuck in harmful habits, you may not know how to change them. Others may also notice these behaviors and encourage you to try grief counseling.  Your desire for relief is strong You may know that you’ve been struggling with your pain for a while. And it may be easier to keep doing the same things that keep you stuck. But at some point, you may be more ready for relief than making the easy choice. Your willingness to do what it takes to feel better makes a difference. Getting Through Grief  Everyone will go through grief at some point in their life. Grief is not special, but grieving can be a difficult process. Overcoming grief can happen with healthy coping methods like spending time with others and getting plenty of rest. If you're struggling with grief that does not get better with time, seek help from a grief counselor in your area. Remember that despite your loss, you are not alone. Also, grief has no specific timetable. It is often most intense in the first few weeks or months following the loss. But over a longer time, feelings can become less intense and easier to manage.  Reminders of the loss can trigger brief episodes of grief. This is also normal. You don't just grieve for a little while and then get over it. A major loss in your life will have an impact for years to come. For some people, living with a loss gets easier. The pain doesn’t completely go away, but it can soften over time. Difference between grief and mourning  Grief and mourning are two different words, often used in the same way. But these two terms are not the same. Grief is a person’s own reaction to loss. And it is important to reiterate that there is no single best way to grieve, as some people believe that grief has to feel a certain way to be right. However, grief is not only about feeling sad or lonely. Sometimes people get angry at everyone around them, including the person they lost. Other times they feel anxious and uncertain. Apathy, rage, panic, hopelessness, and even happiness can all be part of a normal grief process.  The outward expression of these feelings is mourning. When a grieving person cries or appears sad, they are mourning. Mourning can be as simple as wearing black clothes or telling stories about a loved one. Mourning can also include social, ethnic, and cultural rituals. These practices include religious ceremonies like funerals and graveside services. Everyone's grief experience is unique. You may have trouble expressing or dealing with your emotions sometimes. This is a normal part of grieving. Nobody has one best way of coping with it.
Answered on 10/25/2021

What do we do?

Hello, Thanks for reaching out with your enquiry on what to do, and how to manage your concerns about your mother-in-law.  I can see that this is causing you a lot of stress in your home!   I hear from a lot of my clients with the same concerns - particularly since the vaccine debate is current and can indeed get heated and continuous.    I can see that you have a supportive husband who is aligned with you and very much on board - that is a huge plus! I will share some information even though you do seem to have a good 'living and breathing understanding' of what is going on for you just so you know you are not alone!  I will then share some practical tips which have been useful for so many of my clients.  So, I will just include all the details I know of what you and your husband can do to continue to use your team approach!   Having a narcissistic mother-in-law: what can you do and expect and how does it affect your relationship? A relationship can be quite a challenge when you have a narcissistic mother-in-law because of your in-laws’ involvement and the way you and your partner respond to them. The relationship between the narcissist and their children can be very intense or almost non-existent at all. The information I am sharing with you just focuses mainly on the situation where you are still in touch with your narcissistic mother-in-law. If you have a narcissistic mother-in-law, you’ll notice that: ·        it’s difficult for your partner to set healthy boundaries (regarding your in-laws), ·        for your in-laws to respect your boundaries, ·        that they will probably not like you, ·        that they criticize you and your partner a lot (or refrain from making compliments), and ·        that they are trying to sabotage/harm the marriage. You may also notice that they like to play the victim and that it’s difficult to feel at ease around them. Despite the fact that you probably have your own issues with them, it’s important for your relationship that you support your partner.  I am sharing some advice for each stage your partner goes through (unawareness, realization, acceptance, adjustment, and change).   Stage 1: Unawareness Having a narcissistic mother-in-law most likely means that the child has been exposed to emotional abuse, such as manipulation, blackmailing, splitting, gas-lighting, and guilt tripping. A narcissistic parent uses these techniques to get what they want: control, power, and satisfaction (they enjoy it when they can humiliate someone). For a child growing up in such conditions, it’s likely that they are unaware of the emotional abuse taking place and that they see their narcissistic parent as the person who is always right. They simply have no-one else to compare to and it’s normal to assume that parents are always right. Some children of narcissists even believe that their narcissistic parent is wonderful. Comparison with other families around them When these children grow older and become adolescents or even adults, they may notice that other parents are usually kindhearted and friendly. They may also notice that something is odd about the way things go at home, but that’s as far as most children of narcissists go. In this stage, they are not ready to admit to themselves that their parents are not such good parents after all. And this is a huge mental obstacle, because it basically means that all they believed in is a lie: their parents do not love them unconditionally, it’s not normal to be blackmailed, guilt tripped, and manipulated. In this stage it’s often the case that the child of the narcissist defends or trivializes their behavior. This stage could be very frustrating, because you can see what’s happening. You can look at their interactions and relationship with a healthy distance, and you can see how badly it affects your partner. At the same time your partner isn’t ready to see this, which creates a lot of tension and probably some fights as well.   Relationship between you and your in-laws It is likely that your mother-in-law surreptitiously tries to drive the two of you apart. Subtle comments where you feel insulted or unwanted/not accepted, are common examples of such behavior. By actively opposing your mother-in-law (or by complaining about their behavior a lot) she gets exactly what she wants: being in control of the situation. A narcissist who is in control of the situation is very dangerous. By complaining a lot or by opposing your in-law, your partner feels forced to choose between the two of you. 9 out of 10 times your narcissistic mother-in-law will act like a victim, which increases the chance that your partner will side with your in-law.Be aware of the fact that every significant person in your partner’s life means that their narcissistic parent experiences less control over their child (and also that they get less desired attention from them). And this is something that is unacceptable! So you are an enemy. Another often used strategy narcissist use (especially when they are jealous of their own child) is to win over the friends and partners of their own children. They do this by being very charming and friendly to you, while publicly or confidentially down talking your partner (their child). At first, you won’t be aware of this strategy, while your partner is suffering by the way they are being treated. It’s even likely that you will start doubting your partner’s complaining, ‘because your in-law is such a kindhearted woman’. If this is the case, then it’s very likely you are not aware of the fact that you are dealing with a narcissistic-mother-in-law.   Here are a few signs to take into consideration: ·        They are overly involved in your partners life. ·        They call/message too often. ·        They come over unannounced, sometimes several times a week. ·        They need to be the center of attention, even when it is not appropriate. ·        They make nasty comments about me only when my partner is not around. ·        They do not respect our boundaries at all. ·        They guilt-trip my partner into doing things for them. ·        A great day with them is usually followed by a break-down on their side (moodiness, anger, or sadness). ·        They would respond in a disappointing way when we announced something big (marriage, pregnancy, buying a house, moving abroad). ·      I have a feeling that they are trying to isolate me from my partner with their         manipulative   behavior. ·        They change or twist facts in their favor. ·        Their sarcastic jokes often make me feel unwelcome, unloved, unwanted or disliked. ·        They become upset or angry when one of us disagrees with them.   What to do when you have a narcissistic mother-in-law? If your partner is not ready to admit to themselves that their parent may have narcissistic personality disorder, then it’s important to take your time and approach this issue with care. Don’t try to confront your partner with it, because it will most likely end up in a huge fight where your partner keeps defending the narcissistic parent. Instead, focus on the details: every time the narcissistic parent behaves in a narcissistic way, mention it to your partner in a subtle way. Make it look like an observation without judgment.  At the same time it’s important to be supportive of your partner. Whenever your partner complains, try to be understanding. Whenever your partner has an issue with the narcissist, emphasize that your partner is not to blame. Occasionally, you can draw a parallel between a narcissist and the parent, but try to refrain from labeling your in-law as a narcissist. So: ‘It’s difficult for me to talk to your mom because he always takes over the conversation and talks about himself. This narcissistic behavior can be frustrating, especially now that I want to share wonderful news with him’. You can mention the fact that certain behavior is narcissistic, but not that your partner’s mom is a narcissist. In short: if you suspect that you have a narcissistic mother-in-law, don’t force it upon your partner. Allow them to figure it out themselves. At the same time, make sure to keep your distance. Do not take everything your in-law says for granted: take compliments with a grain of salt, and don’t take insults personally (it’s not about you, but about the person their child is dating, which could be anyone basically). Stage 2: Realization This is the stage where your partner realizes that their parent is narcissistic. This usually comes as a shock and can have a huge impact on your partner: suddenly all your partner believed in was a lie or only partly true. Their trust in others gets a blow just like their self-esteem. For some children of narcissists, it’s such a shock that they have trouble identifying who they really are.At the same time, the puzzle pieces start falling into place: certain situations start making sense now (‘why is mama always super friendly to others, but not to me?’, ‘why do I always have the feeling mom is jealous of me?’). This can be very upsetting to your partner because they may realize that their parent never loved them the way they perceived it. For you it may start to become clear as well (in case your narcissistic mother-in-law is jealous of your partner (their child, even your dog) that your in-law is playing games. Feelings of confusion, anger and shame are common. Talk about your feelings and the situations that took place with your partner when they are ready for it. How does our life change when your partner has a narcissistic parent and just starts realizing this? Stage 2 may be the most confusing stage. Even though you and your partner get a lot of answers, your partner will have even more questions and doubts. Whereas you may want to act and start setting healthy boundaries, your partner may become irritable, numb, angry, sad, and confused, sometimes at the same time. Right now, your partner can’t move on just yet.  This can easily lead to a small crisis if the two of you are not communication well enough.   I hope you are able to introduce some of these ideas and tips into your management plan so that you can lessen the stress in your daily life for your family.   If you need professional support perhaps you might want to consider seeking a mental health therapist to help guide you through this process.    I wish you much luck with this! Kind Regards, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 10/25/2021

Why am I having a hard time with sticking to my routine and staying motivated?

Hey Kat, In answering this question, I have much more follow-up questions/thoughts that I would suggest that you run through. First, be sure that you get a medical work-up to eliminate any medical reasons as to why you may be feeling unmotivated and/or feeling a lack of focus. Hormonal imbalances, not having appropriate levels of minerals and vitamin intake, or even the extreme of malignant cells can effect us on the mental level. Regular medical work ups, or even proper medication management can be efficient ways to rule out medical reasons for mental health disturbances.  Also, I would wonder about what does this routine look like that you are trying to accomplish. Is it reasonable? Or is it a routine that would take Super Woman herself to tackle and STILL feel defeated? Now and days, the media can definitely make woman/mothers feel inferior when it comes to managing all of our roles and not being able to do so in its full capacity. You can say that this thought is more about managing our expectations of ourselves and becoming comfortable with the discomfort in asking for help. What do your natural supports look like? Do you have family and friends that are willing and able to support you. I know we all like to believe the bootstrap lingo, but it really takes a village. Ask yourself, what does my village look like? Is it the church family, the after-school care workers, day care, neighbor up the street, partner's family, social media family, and this is just a few options to consider. Your village doesn't have to be just the people you consider to be your family or friends. It can be the co-workers that support you in getting your tasks accomplished. The neighbor up the street who looks after your pet. The church member that gives you that special hug that says you are loved and wanted. My other thoughts would go around whether this is a symptom of depression, anxiety or ADHD. At times, unchecked diagnosis, meaning we are not taking care of ourselves on the day to day, can exacerbate to impacting our daily living. Like completing routine tasks, and being present for our children. Meeting with a mental health clinician can help you identify whether indeed you have a diagnosis that needs a little bit of support in managing.  I hope that my response provides some light to identifying how to overcome this moment in your journey of life. 
(LMFT, TF-CBT)
Answered on 10/25/2021

What are tools to help with codependency and anxiety based on social situations

Hey Jay. Thanks for reaching out. I am happy you reached out to learn healthy techniques you could use now to prepare for your sister moving out. Before I go into identifying the techniques used to reduce your perceived codependency, it is so important we address core reasons why you may have become codependent on your sister. There a many reasons you may have become codependent and fearful of living alone which include: having difficulty adjusting to change, difficulty trusting yourself when you are alone, fear of being alone, difficulty feeling out of control, difficulty coping with loss, fear of making decisions on your own, childhood neglect and abandonment, low self-esteem, and/or the need to feel secure with others. I am certain there are many more core reasons for your perceived codependency, I simply wanted to highlight some of them. Codependency is something that can change in time which is why I am glad you are reaching out before your sister leaves. Another question I would encourage you to answer is what changed between the time your sister moved in with you til now that causes you to fear living alone. What level of comfort did your sister bring to the home? was there a traumatic incident that took place? Assess deeper why you feel the way you do. One intricate tool that will be most helpful for you as you prepare for your sister leaving is to seek therapy. Therapy will allow you to identify your internal feelings and talk about them aloud in a manner that will help you process them better. Another helpful tool would be to possibly stay in a hotel one night (pending your comfort level and financial status) and identify how it makes you feel. Something else that may be helpful would be to purchase a book on codependency and read it to identify patterns of codependency. I am a firm believer that when you identify the core of your perceived codependency, you will become proactive in reducing the symptoms. Also, don't be afraid to talk about your feelings to others. Codependency is common with family and it happens very often. You are able to overcome this. Don't be afraid to explore your thoughts/feelings. 
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 10/25/2021

How do I get over my bulimia without putting on weight?

Dear Kay kay,   Thank you for your message and helping me understand more on how you have been struggling with self-image especially in relation with weight.   To stop the course of eating disorder we must look at restoring our self-image.   However, restoring self-image is one of the biggest challenges of recovery from an eating disorder.    When your self-worth depends on a number on the bathroom scale or the size of your jeans, it's easy to become a victim of destructive eating habits. In order to replace those habits with healthy behaviors that truly nourish your body and spirit, you must learn to value yourself for who you are, not what you look like or how much you weigh.    Encouraging clients to build up their self-esteem is easier said than done. If you're like most people who live with anorexia or bulimia nervosa, you've invested so much of yourself in losing weight or following the "perfect" diet that you've neglected other areas of your life.   Therefore I don’t recommend addressing this issue with “trying harder” to build our self-esteem / confidence. That is simply because you have tried hard enough and you deserve a different approach that would bring more kindness and gentleness.   Although it might seem impossible in the beginning, you can learn to accept your body without being obsessed with your weight. The more your practice self-compassion and acceptance, the more likely you are to escape the psychological traps of your eating disorder.   Simply speaking, the moment we can accept our body, which is the moment we are healed from eating disorder.   A distorted body image is one of the hallmarks of most eating disorders. In fact, a disturbed body image and a preoccupation with weight are two of the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa. Bulimia nervosa is also characterized by a preoccupation with weight and a tendency to judge oneself by weight or body size. Like you said, many people with eating disorders don't have a realistic sense of what their bodies actually look like.    When a teenage girl with anorexia looks at herself in the mirror, she may see an overweight body, when in fact she is already dangerously underweight. If she does realize that she's excessively thin, she may not be aware that she looks skeletal and unhealthy. In her eyes, that hard-won weight loss is the ideal that she's been striving for.    Like you said and have experienced, people with eating disorders often punish or reward themselves for "bad" or "good" eating behavior. In this way, they reinforce the importance of diet and weight control to their self-esteem. After bingeing on ice cream, cookies and potato chips, a bulimic college student may feel sick with guilt, remorse and self-loathing. At that point, her fragile self-esteem is shattered. Self-induced vomiting, fasting, using laxatives or compulsive exercise may make her feel good about herself again - at least until the next binge/purge cycle begins.   In rehab, one of the major goals of therapy is to help you recover from these destructive thought patterns. Therapeutic strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can teach you how to stop negative thought patterns in their tracks and replace them with positive, self-affirming statements, such as:   "I deserve to feel good about myself no matter how much I weigh." "I can be healthy and still enjoy treats now and then." "My body doesn't have to look like a model's body; I am beautiful the way I am." "My identity is much more than what I look like."   It takes time and practice to get over the harmful habits caused by eating disorders. Therefore these strategies must be practiced under the umbrella of self-compassion and a desire to accept who we are rather than changing how we look like.   Your body image, or your sense of what you look like, isn't just a reflection of what you see in the mirror. It's partly based on the opinions and value judgments of others: your loved ones, your peers, the media and the culture in general. The celebrities we admire for their beauty and thinness often become the ultimate representation of what we want to look like. When we don't measure up to an airbrushed photo of a model or movie star, our body image may suffer. For teenage girls and young women, who are especially sensitive to their looks and the way they appear to others, a poor body image may quickly lead to an eating disorder, especially if the girl is overweight.   Therefore you have brought up an important factor that sometimes perhaps the best thing we can do for ourselves in the beginning of this process is to create some boundaries and distance from these toxic images / messages from our outside world.   According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the American media and the advertising industry play a big role in the way we perceive our bodies: In the United States, the average person sees or hears 5,000 messages from advertisers every day.   Approximately one-fourth of these advertisements include a value judgment about physical attractiveness.   Magazines directed at women and girls have over 10 times more articles and ads about weight loss than magazines for men and boys.   In women's magazine articles about fitness, "being more attractive" and "losing weight" are listed most frequently as the reasons for starting an exercise program.   Developing self-compassion means learning how to create a more realistic perception of your body, accepting how we look even if it conflicts with the idealized images you see in magazines or on TV.   In your day-to-day life, there are a lot of things you can do to build self-compassion. Becoming aware of the way you "talk" to yourself mentally is one of the most important tasks. As you go through your day, especially when you're eating a meal or thinking about having a snack, be aware of self-defeating thoughts that connect your self-esteem with your weight or appearance:   "I can't have bread with lunch today. I'll get fat. I'll be worthless if I gain one more pound in this program."   "I can't work out in those pants. They make my hips look huge. Everyone's going to notice how much weight I've gained."   "I only ran three miles today instead of my usual five. What's wrong with me? I'm going to skip lunch to make up for it."   "Everyone's going to stare at me in group counseling. I'll be the fattest girl in the room. I hate myself for being so big."   In order to counteract negative thoughts that keep you trapped in a cycle of destructive eating behaviors, you'll have to adopt positive habits, such as:   Setting realistic goals and rewarding yourself for meeting them   Refusing to compare your body to media images or celebrities   Taking up hobbies that have nothing to do with body size or appearance   Practicing self-acceptance through self-affirming statements   Forming friendships with supportive people who value you for who you are   Learning how to prepare and eat balanced, nourishing meals   Planning a diet that does not exclude any food   Managing your exercise program to keep your physical activity at a healthy level   Keeping a journal is a good way to track your progress as you're working on your self-esteem. It's also an effective way to work through the emotions you'll experience as you recover from an eating disorder. Don't hesitate to turn to your friends, therapists or family if you feel the urge to go back to your destructive habits. A strong support system can help you stay on track with your goals when you feel discouraged or afraid.   Meanwhile, relapse rates are high among people with eating disorders, especially if they still have a low self-esteem or a disturbed body image after they finish rehab. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that women who went through rehab for anorexia or bulimia had a greater chance of relapse if they were still struggling with a distorted body image. Accepting your body's assets and limitations is a crucial part of recovering from an eating disorder. Instead of striving for a perfect, unattainable ideal, work with your treatment team to create an achievable plan for what you want to be.   Therefore the goal here is NOT about changing how we look, again it’s all about accepting how we look and who we are :)   Like addiction and other chronic conditions, eating disorders don't go away overnight.   You may experience the impulse to diet excessively, binge or purge for months or years after you've graduated from rehab. Many rehab graduates find that these impulses are the most intense during times of stress, such as a divorce, a job loss or a death in the family. Even positive events, like having a child or starting a new career, can trigger a relapse if you're still living with self-doubts. Gaining a few pounds during pregnancy or after an injury may give you that panicky feeling that you need to lose weight - fast.    Therefore it is crucial that we look at all these information with the framework of self-compassion. Remember, the reason why we want to change is because we want to be kinder to ourselves, not because we hate ourselves. These may look similar but are fundamentally different. One leads to healing, the other leads to more destruction. :)   Be gentle, be kind, fight less, float more :)   We can do this together.   Please let me know if I’m being helpful so far. Looking forward to hear your thoughts, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/25/2021

How to deal with being bullied, mentally and verbally abused in school by my teacher?

Hello there, I give you so much credit for reaching out and trying to process your trauma. That is no small feat! I agree with you that this does sound like gaslighting and does sound like it was significant trauma. I am so sorry you were put through all of this. From what you are telling me, I think EMDR could be extremely beneficial for you. I am going to share some information below, on EMDR, that is taken from EMDR.com. You can also go to this website to find an EMDR specialist near you. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes. More than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR therapy.  Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.  Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions. In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions. There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR therapy would be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and all the myriad problems that bring them in for therapy. Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy.  Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years. EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment.  Eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used during one part of the session.  After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, he asks the client to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use his eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision.  As this happens, for reasons believed by a Harvard researcher to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, internal associations arise and the clients begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level.  For instance, a rape victim shifts from feeling horror and self-disgust to holding the firm belief that, “I survived it and I am strong.”  Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes.  The net effect is that clients conclude EMDR therapy feeling empowered by the very experiences that once debased them.  Their wounds have not just closed, they have transformed. As a natural outcome of the EMDR therapeutic process, the clients’ thoughts, feelings and behavior are all robust indicators of emotional health and resolution—all without speaking in detail or doing homework used in other therapies.   TREATMENT DESCRIPTION EMDR therapy combines different elements to maximize treatment effects.  A full description of the theory, sequence of treatment, and research on protocols and active mechanisms can be found in F. Shapiro (2001) Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing:  Basic principles, protocols and procedures (2nd edition) New York: Guilford Press. EMDR therapy involves attention to three time periods:  the past, present, and future.  Focus is given to past disturbing memories and related events.  Also, it is given to current situations that cause distress, and to developing the skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions.  With EMDR therapy, these items are addressed using an eight-phase treatment approach. Phase 1:  The first phase is a history-taking session(s).  The therapist assesses the client’s readiness and develops a treatment plan.  Client and therapist identify possible targets for EMDR processing.  These include distressing memories and current situations that cause emotional distress.  Other targets may include related incidents in the past.  Emphasis is placed on the development of specific skills and behaviors that will be needed by the client in future situations. Initial EMDR processing may be directed to childhood events rather than to adult onset stressors or the identified critical incident if the client had a problematic childhood.  Clients generally gain insight on their situations, the emotional distress resolves and they start to change their behaviors.  The length of treatment depends upon the number of traumas and the age of PTSD onset.  Generally, those with single event adult onset trauma can be successfully treated in under 5 hours.  Multiple trauma victims may require a longer treatment time. Phase 2:  During the second phase of treatment, the therapist ensures that the client has several different ways of handling emotional distress.  The therapist may teach the client a variety of imagery and stress reduction techniques the client can use during and between sessions. A goal of EMDR therapy is to produce rapid and effective change while the client maintains equilibrium during and between sessions. Phases 3-6:  In phases three to six, a target is identified and processed using EMDR therapy procedures.  These involve the client identifying three things:1.  The vivid visual image related to the memory2.  A negative belief about self3.  Related emotions and body sensations. In addition, the client identifies a positive belief.  The therapist helps the client rate the positive belief as well as the intensity of the negative emotions.  After this, the client is instructed to focus on the image, negative thought, and body sensations while simultaneously engaging in EMDR processing using sets of bilateral stimulation.  These sets may include eye movements, taps, or tones.  The type and length of these sets is different for each client.  At this point, the EMDR client is instructed to just notice whatever spontaneously happens. After each set of stimulation, the clinician instructs the client to let his/her mind go blank and to notice whatever thought, feeling, image, memory, or sensation comes to mind.  Depending upon the client’s report, the clinician will choose the next focus of attention.  These repeated sets with directed focused attention occur numerous times throughout the session.  If the client becomes distressed or has difficulty in progressing, the therapist follows established procedures to help the client get back on track. When the client reports no distress related to the targeted memory, (s)he is asked to think of the preferred positive belief that was identified at the beginning of the session.  At this time, the client may adjust the positive belief if necessary, and then focus on it during the next set of distressing events. Phase 7:  In phase seven, closure, the therapist asks the client to keep a log during the week.  The log should document any related material that may arise.  It serves to remind the client of the self-calming activities that were mastered in phase two. Phase 8:  The next session begins with phase eight.  Phase eight consists of examining the progress made thus far.  The EMDR treatment processes all related historical events, current incidents that elicit distress, and future events that will require different responses
(LPC, NCC, CEDS-S)
Answered on 10/25/2021

How do I deal with a fear of commitment to responsibilities I’ll struggle with but need to improve?

Hello Del, I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling in this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles, so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even through you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you during this time of struggle you are having, although it seems like you are struggling with many different factors of your life I am going to start out by sending you some skills to help when you are feeling burn out with work.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through our struggles and be able to ask for support from others. If you consistently experience high levels of stress without taking steps to manage or reduce it, exhaustion eventually takes over — leaving you emotionally and physically burned out.You may begin to feel less motivated since it seems like nothing you do matters.Since burnout happens gradually, you might not notice symptoms immediately. But once it takes hold, it can affect your ability to function across all aspects of life.Recognize the signsKey signs of burnout include:forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating diminished pride in your work losing sight of yourself and your goals difficulty maintaining relationships and being present with loved ones frustration and irritability with co-workers unexplained muscle tension, pain, fatigue, and insomniaEstimates suggest anywhere between 4 and 7 percent of the working public may experience burnout, though workers in certain fields, such as healthcare, tend to experience burnout at much higher rates.Burnout can have a far-reaching impact, often:negatively affecting work performance keeping you from enjoying hobbies and time with family, or relaxing outside of work increasing risk for health concerns, including cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, depression, and suicideTaking action to address burnout is essential, since it generally only gets worse. The next 10 steps can help you get started on the road to recovery.Find the source It’s tough to make changes when you don’t know exactly what needs to change, but exploring contributing factors or sources of stress in your life can help.Burnout often relates to job and professional triggers, like the stress of an increasingly demanding job. But you could also experience burnout when:having a rigorous academic schedule dealing with relationship problems, especially ones that seem to circle with no resolution caring for a loved one with a serious or chronic health conditionTrying to do too much on your own also creates an ideal environment for burnout to fester.Eventually you bend so much you break, and that’s when burnout happens.Say you’re a single parent with a full-time job, trying to take online classes, and keep up with friends and loved ones at the same time.The stress that accompanies each single factor might be manageable on its own, but the combination can easily overwhelm you if you don’t take steps to get support.Identify immediate changes you can makeYou might recognize a few ways to lighten your load right away.Three different time-consuming projects keeping you working long hours, week after week?Those with a lot of ambition to succeed in their careers are tempted to do it all, But this can backfire when you end up with no energy for anything.Instead, try accepting that doing it all isn’t realistic, and ask your supervisor to reassign one project or add someone else to your team.Overwhelmed with work and personal commitments but still can’t bring yourself to turn down requests from loved ones?Those with people-pleasing tendencies often take on too much to avoid letting anyone down.If you’re already running out of hours in the day for the things you absolutely need to do, adding more tasks will only add more frustration and stress.Evaluate your existing commitments and consider canceling or rescheduling a few. The immediate relief this brings may surprise you.Talk to people you trustIf you feel unsure of how to begin sorting through the causes of burnout and looking for ways to ease your stress, that’s normal.Burnout can become so overwhelming that determining how to address it still seems exhausting. It’s also hard to identify potential solutions when you feel completely spent.Involving a trusted loved one can help you feel supported and less alone. Friends, family members, and partners can help you brainstorm possible solutions.They’re close enough to your life to have some understanding of what works for you but still have enough distance to consider the situation with some clarity.Examine your optionsUnfortunately, addressing burnout isn’t always straightforward. But this doesn’t have to mean it will hold you down forever.You may not see an easy road to recovery, but a little exploration may unearth some kind of path.Maybe your boss keeps piling work on, despite your requests for help from co-workers or time to finish current projects first.It might be time to start searching for a new job that respects your capabilities.If you feel burned out because of relationship difficulties, a counselor can offer support as you take a closer look at your relationship and whether it’s serving your best interests.Take back controlBurnout can make you feel powerless. You might feel as if your life is rushing past and you can’t keep up.If outside factors contributed to burnout, you might blame these circumstances and have a hard time seeing what you can do to change the situation.You may not have had control over what happened to bring you to this point, but you do have the power to take back control and begin to recharge.To start, try these tips:Prioritize. Some things just have to get done, but others can wait until you have more time and energy. Decide which tasks are less important and set them aside. Delegate. You can’t do everything yourself, so if more tasks than you can handle need immediate attention, pass them off to someone you trust. Leave work at work. Part of burnout recovery is learning to prioritize work-life balance. After leaving work, focus on relaxing and recharging for the next day. Be firm about your needs. Talk to others involved and let them know what’s happening. Explain that you need some support in order to take care of your health and manage your workload productively.Set boundariesSetting limits on the time you give to others can help you manage stress while recovering from burnout.Accepting too many commitments can cause overwhelm.Before you agree to help someone or accept an invitation, she recommends the following:Push the pause button. Take a moment to walk through everything that will be required of you if you agree. Ask yourself if you really have the time and energy. Consider whether doing it offers value to you.Part of boundary setting also involves learning to say no.You’re not lazy, selfish, or mean for declining a request for your precious time, Being selective about accepting commitments is key to taking care of your mental health, honoring the truly important commitments, and proactively preventing burnout.Practice self-compassionReaching a point of burnout can bring up feelings of failure and a loss of purpose or life direction. You might feel as if you can’t do anything properly or you’ll never achieve your goals.When you reach a point of burnout, you’ve probably pushed yourself past the point of what most people would realistically consider themselves capable of for some time.Grant yourself the same love and support. Remind yourself you don’t have to be perfect, and that it’s OK to need a break.So maybe you can’t complete three proposals at once. Who can, really? And so what if you didn’t ace that last exam? You still got a decent score.In the end, all you can do is your best with the strengths you have. But you’ll find it easier to use those strengths when you aren’t running on empty.Pay attention to your needsTaking charge of your physical and emotional health is key to burnout recovery.In an ideal world, reaching the point of burnout would mean you immediately take time off, clear your schedule, and dedicate your days to rest and relaxation.But most people simply can’t do that.If you have bills to pay and children to take care of, quitting may seem impossible until you have other prospects.If you’re caring for a sick family member who has no other relatives, you may not have anyone else to turn to for support.Practicing good self-care can make recharging easier while you try other strategies to reset.Try these tips:Make enough time for restful sleep. Spend time with loved ones, but don’t overdo it — alone time is important, too. Try to get some physical activity in each day. Eat nutritious meals and stay hydrated. Try meditation, yoga, or other mindfulness practices for improved relaxation.Remember what makes you happySevere burnout can drain you and make it hard to remember what you used to enjoy.You may have lost your passion for a career you once loved and feel angry and resentful when you get to work each day.Perhaps you no longer care about your favorite hobbies, or you’ve stopped responding to texts from friends because you lack the energy for conversation.You might even feel perpetually irritated and snap at your partner or family without meaning to.To counter these feelings, create a list of the things that bring you joy. It might include things like:long walks with your best friend taking your child to the park reading a book in the bathtubMake time for these activities every week, and keep this habit up even after you feel more like yourself.1. Take a VacationTalk to your manager as soon as possible and take a break. Not a five-minute break, and not a couple of days at home. You need a complete and total cut-off from work. Basically, you need a vacation.Explain why you need time off without whining or getting emotional. Be rational when you lay out all the reasons you deserve a break, and why you will be an even better employee when you return.Ideally, you should be gone for at least two weeks with zero office contact. Don’t make yourself available for calls. Don’t check your emails. If at all possible, go somewhere that is the complete opposite of work and do whatever makes you genuinely happy. If that’s laying on a beach drinking cocktails, climbing mountains, or white water rafting, do it.If you don’t have any vacation days left, ask for an unpaid break. Find a way to make it work financially even if it means a staycation. Don't underestimate the harmful effects of burnout.2. Find a ReleaseBurnout can build, leading to a pressure cooker of stress. If you don’t open that release valve from time to time, you are going to explode. Perhaps not literally, but you’ll crack emotionally, have outbursts, or maybe do something that could hurt your career.Generally, physical activity is ideal for stress release. For some people, it’s CrossFit or martial arts. For others, it’s paintball battles, soccer, racquetball, or bowling. Many people enjoy video games, while others prefer a shooting range or a dozen laps of the pool. The way you release your aggression and frustration is not important, as long as it’s not harmful to yourself or others. What matters is that you find a way to let off steam.3. Take a Break From Alcohol and CaffeineA lot of people deal with the stresses and strains of a hectic work life by turning to the bottle or dosing up on coffee, energy drinks, cigarettes, or even food. While these can sometimes be soothing in moderation, you can quickly become dependent upon them, especially if you’re using them to cope with significant or growing stress at work. Dependency leads to addiction, which isn't good.Although something as simple as coffee seems harmless, it can rob you of much-needed sleep and put undue strain on your heart. There's no secret to the dangers of alcohol and tobacco, and poor eating can lead to weight gain and associated health problems. So, while you may think you need them more than ever, find something else to calm and soothe your nerves. Take a walk, engage in a hobby, or simply sit quietly.4. Ask for Different ResponsibilitiesBurnout in advertising agencies can not only happen from overwork, but also from working on the same few clients for months at a time. As the old saying goes, "a change is as good as a rest," so talk to your manager about taking on different responsibilities. Will your boss assign you a different account? Can you work with clients who require you to leave the office more for meetings, photoshoots, and events? Perhaps you can swap accounts with someone else who is feeling worn out.If you are good at your job, the agency will not want to lose you and will want to help you feel better at work. It can cost up to 400 percent more than your annual salary to replace you, especially if you’re a talented creative. The agency would much rather put your skills to good use on a different account than to see you walk.5. Have a Heart-to-Heart With Someone CloseAnother way to relieve a little pressure is to share your problems, thoughts, and concerns with someone who genuinely cares about your well-being. It could be a spouse, your best friend, a neighbor, or a trusted co-worker, although be careful about sharing too much with someone at work who is known to spread gossip or might use the information against you.The person you talk to doesn't have to be in the same industry or understand exactly what it is you do. They simply need to be a shoulder to cry on, which is often all you need to release some of that bottled-up frustration and despair.If you cannot find anyone to talk to, another option is to write a letter to the person, or people, who are adding to your burnout, such as your boss, a co-worker, or a client. Put down everything you want to say, but DO NOT send it to them. This is merely an exercise to get your frustrations off your chest.6. Find Ways to Make Work More Fun or InterestingIn advertising and design, exciting projects can alleviate some of the problems that come with an exhaustive schedule. Yes, you’re busy, but you’re having so much fun it’s not an issue. When you’re burning the candle at both ends on projects that do nothing to inspire you, that’s when burnout can really take hold. When this happens, find ways to make the jobs you’re working on more fun.One creative approach used by copywriters and art directors is to challenge each other to get specific words or phrases into the ads, like trying to get “hot air balloon” or “goat rodeo” into dry copy about insurance. Make it a game regardless of the outcome. It may get rejected. It may pass without anyone noticing. It may even sell more product.7. Work Away From Your DeskA change of scenery can do you a world of good, even if you’re still working 12-hour shifts seven days a week. Most ad agencies will let you work remotely from time to time, especially if you’re looking for inspiration. Find a local coffee shop, museum, or park.Avoid working from home. When you are experiencing burnout, you need to make every effort to separate work life from home life. The last thing you should be doing is bringing work home with you. That association compounds the problem, and before you know it, you associate home with the same feelings you have at work. Draw the line, and do not cross it.8. Take Advantage of the FMLA LawsKnown as the Family and Medical Leave Act, FMLA is a federal law that guarantees certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year without the threat of job loss. It’s often used for a major life event, such as the birth of a child or significant illness. But severe burnout and mental stress can qualify as a reason to use FMLA protection.See a doctor or psychologist, explain what is happening, and get written proof that you are unable to perform your duties to a satisfactory level due to your stress, burnout, and anxiety. Yes, the leave is unpaid, so you will have to weigh that against the amount of time off you take. In many cases, four weeks is more than enough to recharge and get back to your old self.9. Get Plenty of Sleep, Exercise, and Eat WellIt goes without saying that when we get stressed, we look for ways to soothe and comfort. For many of us, that involves eating comfort foods, drinking alcohol, and collapsing on the sofa to binge-watch TV. However, those activities rarely cure burnout and, in fact, can make you feel worse. Don’t reach for the chips and the remote. Instead, create a plan to exercise more and eat healthier foods. Get a good eight hours of sleep every night. A few weeks, or months, of this and you will feel ready to take on the world.10. Quit Your JobAs a last resort, if the stress is too much, you may have to quit. For some people, it’s a choice between quitting and finding a more reasonable way to earn a living, or persevering to the point of a breakdown. In that case, it’s really no choice at all. You cannot afford to become so mentally and physically ill that you end up incapacitated. So, find a way to quit.Ideally, you’ll want to have another source of income lined up before you leave your job, and have enough of a gap between quitting the old job and starting the new one to refresh. But if it’s either quit or risk your sanity, then quit. You will find other ways to earn a living, be it freelancing, or finding a new career path altogether. In fact, some people quit to start a completely different line of work, and become happy and stress-free.Burnout is serious and it's effects on your mental, emotional, and physical health shouldn't be underestimated. Do whatever you can to relax and recharge, and find a way to maintain a good work/life balance. I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in your struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.
Answered on 10/25/2021

How to stop stuttering as an adult?

Dear Trinigirl. Stress, fatigue, and pressure are triggers for stuttering. Trying to manage such situations, you could be able to reduce stuttering. Here are some techniques that could be useful to manage the factors behind causing stuttering. I would highly recommend talking to a professional who could help you with managing the daily stressors in your life. Anxiety is a helpful emotion that protects us from danger and motivates us with ambition. Anxiety becomes a danger when it becomes frequent and when it lingers to take time in our daily life. Anxiety becomes a danger when it starts hindering us from completing our daily routines, or when it interferes with our daily routines. Stuttering is a speech disorder characterized by repeating sounds, syllables, or words, or more prolong sounds. It also could manifest in interruption of the normal flow of speech. If stuttering persists throughout adulthood, stress and anxiety bring it alive. Managing stress and anxiety helps to manage to stutter. Here are some techniques to manage to stutter: 1)     Speaking slowly can reduce stress and the symptoms of stuttering. Try to practice reading at a slow pace, and aloud.   2)     Adding a brief pause between phrases and sentences to help slow down speech. Practice talking and recording your speech to become comfortable with the pauses in between the phrases. 3)     Avoid triggers words that make you feel uncomfortable. People who stutter may wish to avoid specific words that tend to cause them to stutter. In this case, it might be helpful to make a list of these words and find alternatives to use. 4)     Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness could reduce anxiety. 5)     Working on emotional acceptance through trusting yourself. 6)     Speech therapy: speech therapy can help in the above-listed interventions as a speech therapist could help to identify the trigger words, the slow in speech, the stuttering and help to treat such. 7)     Psychotherapy: to help to identify the stressors to be able to develop an awareness of the risk factors to resort to the learned techniques that help reduce stress and anxiety. 8)     Surround yourself with protective factors: people you trust, friends, support groups. Dr. Aboulhosn, LMHC, LMFT, CCSS  
(PHD, LMFT, LMHC)
Answered on 10/25/2021

I need help. How can I manage stress, anxiety, and constantly feeling down…?

Hello Thank you for reaching out for help. I am sorry to hear that you are struggling with anxiety due to your work.   First, you are aware of your stress and mood issues and that is the first step towards mental health wellness.   Is there something or someone specifically causing your stress?   Is it feasible to change something at work to help alleviate the stress?    I am just checking in case there is something that can help alleviate the stress and anxiety at your workplace.  If not, do not despair.  There are several things you can do to help your stress and mood issues. Are you engaging in basic self-care?   Good sleep hygiene, exercise, and "me time" are essential to combat stress and help with mood issues.  Try to go to sleep at the same time every night and refrain from using your phone before bed or while in bed.   Screen time is not healthy for sleep.  Make sure your bedroom is cool and dark to ensure good sleep.  Please cut off caffeine a few hours before bedtime.    If you have racing thoughts prior to going to bed or if they wake you up in the middle of the night, I suggest that you write down your thoughts before you go to bed.  This exercise is simple and it helps purge the anxiety-provoking thoughts from your mind.   After you write down your thoughts, do not read them again and throw away the paper.   If you worry about what you have to do the next day, write down a "to-do" list before you go to bed. This can help organize your thoughts before you start the next day.   Are you spending enough time on yourself?  Do you have time to engage in hobbies or spend time with your loved ones?  This can help with mood and stress issues.   Some people struggle with self-care because they feel selfish.  It is not selfish to take care of your mental health needs.  You need downtime and time to regroup your thoughts.   Please look at your schedule and see where you can schedule time for self-care.   Exercising is another technique that you use to boost your mood. Exercise is proven to boost mood and lower anxiety.  If possible, try to find some time to walk on a break at work.  This will help alleviate stress at the moment and boost your mood.     Starting your day with a positive motto is another way to help with stress and anxiety.   Tell yourself that you are only going to worry about the things you can control.   Often, we get caught up in anxiety and we worry about things that we have no control over.   This is not beneficial and it just feeds the anxiety cycle and causes our mood to plummet.  If these techniques do not help alleviate your stress and boost your mood, please reach out for additional help.      
(MS, LPC)
Answered on 10/25/2021

How do I learn to accept my feelings of guilt?

  Hello Dia,   Thank you for reaching out on this platform to as - How to learn to accept your feelings of guilt.  I commend you for taking the first step towards your journey in healing.   I will share some details about guilt and how you might benefit from reaching out for some professional support in the form of mental health therapy as well as sharing some tips on what you can do on your own to manage some of your feelings and thoughts which may be causing you some stress.   Most people experience guilt after making a mistake or doing something they regret.   The effects of guilt are often uncomfortable. They might include sadness, sorrow, or physical discomfort. It’s not uncommon for people to be angry or frustrated with themselves. But these effects can guide people toward change.   People who have strong feelings of guilt may find themselves stuck on these feelings. Chronic or excessive guilt can be hard to overcome. If feelings of guilt have a negative effect on your life, and you are struggling to work through them alone, a compassionate counselor can offer help and support.  A therapist can help examine and sort through guilty feelings, uncover any guilt that is out of proportion to the mistake, and help the person address the guilt in a productive way. It’s also possible, in therapy, to explore ways to fix a mistake or wrong and work on preventing it in the future.   You may also want to consider couples therapy as an option at some point to address some precursors if there are any issues in your relationship.   IS GUILT A GOOD THING? Guilt is an emotion, so rather than thinking of it as something good or something bad, it may be more helpful to consider its effects. Because guilt relates to a person’s moral code, guilt can act as a sort of check that helps someone recognize the effects of choices they’ve made. If the choice had a negative impact, they might feel regret and decide to do better in the future.   Consider a person who runs a red light. If nothing happens, they most likely feel relieved. “No one was there, and I didn’t get a ticket,” a person might think. But then they might think about other possibilities. “What if I hit another car? What if someone was crossing the street and I couldn’t stop in time?” They may begin to feel bad when considering other things that could have happened and tell themselves they’ll be more careful in the future.   In this way, guilt is linked to empathy and a feeling of responsibility for how actions affect others. It is also believed that people who were more prone to guilt were more likely to be trustworthy. When a person’s actions affected others, they were more likely to act in ways that were sensitive to the effects of their choices.   Guilt isn’t always helpful, though. When guilt results from a person’s belief that they should do more or be better at something, rather than a mistake they made, it can cause distress.   For example, a busy parent may feel guilty when they pick up pizza for dinner, leave housework undone, or speak sharply to their child when stressed. They may believe a “good” parent should be able to take care of the cooking and cleaning and never snap at their children. Even if they know it isn’t possible for them to take care of everything around the house all the time, they still might feel guilt, since their reality conflicts with their ideal of a good parent. When this kind of guilt isn’t addressed, it can have a negative impact on life.   Guilt is known to relate to mental health concerns.  Shame is also known to be linked to social anxiety.  Though guilt was not correlated with this issue, it’s important to note that excessive or chronic guilt can contribute to feelings of shame. Guilt can also cause people to struggle with romantic or professional relationships and day-to-day life. When not addressed, feelings of guilt can build and lead a person to feel worthless, discouraged, or hopeless.   COPING WITH GUILT   Sometimes guilt can become so strong it makes it difficult for a person to get through each day. They may struggle to connect with their loved ones, maintain a relationship, or stay focused at work or school. Over time, they may also have feelings of anxiety and depression, or struggle to recognize their own self-worth. People try to cope with guilt by rationalizing their actions or telling themselves the behavior didn’t really matter. This can help ease guilty feelings temporarily. But if guilt isn’t addressed, it’s unlikely to go away for good.   Talking over what happened with a trusted friend or loved one can help reduce guilt. Owning up to a mistake and apologizing may be enough to ease guilty feelings, in some cases.   But when feelings of guilt affect daily life or relationships.  It is important to reach out for help. A therapist can’t fix your mistakes or change you. They can help you work through emotions and explore ways to create change. Therapists can also help normalize guilt. If you feel worthless or believe you are a bad person, a therapist or counselor can help you come to terms with the fact that every person makes mistakes from time to time.   THERAPY FOR GUILT   Therapy can often help people work through guilt. But the most helpful type of therapy will most likely depend on the cause of the guilt. In all cases, a therapist is likely to begin by working with the person seeking help to understand what contributes to their guilt.   Chronic guilt linked to an overly strict upbringing or other family-related factors might improve after these underlying factors are uncovered and addressed in treatment.   Treatment for post-traumatic stress may help people who experience survivor’s guilt after trauma. (You mention some details of boundary violation in your discussion).    Guilt linked to a mistake or choice may improve after the choice is addressed or the behavior is changed. For example, a person who was unfaithful in a relationship may (with a willing partner) decide to attend couples counseling and recommit to the relationship.   Feelings of guilt and shame linked to mental health issues such as anxiety may improve when the condition is treated.   People with guilt linked to abuse, assault, or other traumatic violence may struggle to accept that what happened wasn’t their fault. Trauma therapy may help a person to reframe the event, understand they did nothing wrong, and begin to heal from the trauma.   People with mental health issues may feel guilty over their actions or behavior, though they may not be able to fully help them. A person with depression can’t help feeling depressed but might feel guilty about the effects their depression has on their relationships with family and friends. Counseling can help treat both the mental health concern and help the person develop greater compassion toward themselves.   Counseling for guilt and shame typically involves the concepts of acceptance and forgiveness. It’s natural to make mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes can hurt others. Whenever possible, attempting to fix the mistake or otherwise making amends may be a good first step. Doing so can reduce feelings of guilt.   Forgiving yourself requires honesty and self-acceptance. Clearing away the veil of guilt allows us to be more connected to what it is that we are experiencing, our thoughts, and our actions in light of that experience and, thus, to be more present with our experience, our emotions, and ourselves.    I hope you are able to reach out for some professional help and guidance with your situation.  A therapist will be able to support you with your stressors around your guilt.  During this process, you perhaps can explore together how to navigate potential couples therapy as part of your recovery journey.   I wish you the best of luck with your next step in reaching a calm state of mind for yourself!   In Kindness, Gaynor       
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 10/25/2021

Am I suffering with depression or just going through a normal sad phase in my life?

Hello and thank you for your question. Have you tried to journal your feelings? I would try to identify positive traits about yourself whether something you like to do, your good at, you get compliments on, etc. Identify things that motivate you such as goals you have, loved ones in your life, etc. I also think it would be beneficial to receive regular counseling weekly with a counselor so that you can work on all of your identified needs and go at a pace that works for you.
Answered on 10/25/2021

Are there techniques that I can use for calming at work through a stressful work environment?

Firstly, I really want to say that this is such an incredibly difficult position to be in. To be working in a place that is going through so much discord and conflict must be exhausting and to have that conflict be based in a place of faith and addressing parts of your own identity, I can not imagine how overwhelming it must feel day today. The added components of both the pastor being dishonest and continuing to conflict rather than working to resolve now that the vote is completed feels like an unnecessary additional strain and part of the reason that you are staff are also now bearing the brunt of the hurt feelings that are coming out on both sides of the disagreement. I am very sorry you are going through this.  Thinking about your question about ways to stay calm at work, I do have some suggestions that I will put down here. I am also wondering if it is worth considering where you would have to draw the line where you would decide you cannot remain in the job, in terms of what is happening at the church and how it is impacting your mental health. I want to put this question out there for you to consider because often it is more possible for us to maintain emotional regulation if we know that what is happening is not that "worst-case scenario" that would cause us to leave, or if we know "I will leave if it reaches this point" which helps us feel like we have choices and it gives us a better sense of control over our own lives, which directly counteracts anxiety.    So I will leave the question with you and encourage you to think it through, and in the meantime, here are some thoughts about how you may be able to feel calmer in this really stressful workspace.  The first and sometimes simplest option is to do a particular breathing exercise and to do it every day, multiple times a day, even when you are not at work. There are two reasons for this. First, it helps you to have a much lower "baseline", meaning that it takes longer for the anxiety and distress to rise. That buys you time to get calm when something happens at work. The second reason is that the more you do it, the more likely you will start to do the breathing automatically when the anxiety starts to rise. And that is something that is incredibly helpful - when your brain and body just kick on and try to help reduce the anxiety as it starts.  The breathing exercise is this: breath in slowly through your nose to a count of 4 and slowly out through your mouth to a count of 8. Do this for 2-3 minutes each time (that is the optimal time frame. Less time can still have some impact but not as much, more time does not improve people's responses). A lot of people set a timer on their phones that will tell them when to do the exercise and will ring after that 2-minute mark. So there is very little thinking on your part. This exercise works because it turns on our parasympathetic nervous system (the calm one) which turns off the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight one!) This breathing exercise literally tells your body that it can calm down and separate from the stress around you.  Another option is to find a way to move physically anytime you find yourself becoming distressed or anxious. I do not know how flexible your workplace is, but if you are able to take a few minutes to stretch, to walk around the block, to go up and down a flight of stairs for 3-4 minutes, or to even do something like 20 jumping jacks or push-ups, that physical movement disrupts the anxiety and distress you might be experiencing and instead focuses you on the physical movement. We know that one of the most effective ways to manage anxiety is by disrupting its process. Anxiety (as you know) can very quickly spiral and loop and get stuck so that we feel like we can not get anywhere - it takes over our thought patterns and our emotions follow it. If we can cause a disruption in the path anxiety is taking, we can lessen how much it impacts us. Sometimes this is something we do when we communicate with someone who is agitated or upset. If we let them talk without interruption, they might say the same things over and over again. But if we interrupt with a question or an offer of a cup of tea or something, sometimes it is enough to get them moving on to a new track or thinking about the situation a little differently. That physical movement is one way we can do that with our own brains. And the added benefit is that most of our anxiety gets held in our bodies, so when we move around intentionally, we are able to shake out some of the stress and anxiety we are feeling. So that movement addresses both brain and body emotions and thoughts.  Finally, a third option would be to take a moment to think thoughts that bring calm. Those can be different for everyone, but examples that are often used are "I am safe", "their feelings are not my feelings" and "I am grateful for this moment". This is something that is particularly helpful if you do it at the same time as you are moving, because the movement (especially something like walking) actually helps the neural pathways in your brain believe those thoughts more successfully, and to integrate the thought into how you feel, both in the present moment and over time. My suggestion would be to find a saying or phrase that fits you, as that has the most impact.  I hope these are helpful options, and I hope that you are able to take care as best you can. There is a lot on your plate.   
Answered on 10/25/2021

How can i overcome challenge of sleeping

Hi David. Welcome to Better Help!  Mental and emotional challenges can indeed cause sleep challenges too!  That feeling of being scared about your future is a particular type of worry called "anticipatory anxiety" which is just a fancy way of saying "worry about something that is coming up in the future" or the future itself.  That kind of worry can make sleep difficult, and then the lack of sleep can magnify the worry, so it's a "feedback loop" of sorts or a case of each problem making the other one worse!  I'm going to give you some sleep tips, but I want to start by saying that you need more help right now than these sleep tips can give you.  You don't say what kind of 'mental disorder' you are dealing with at present, but no matter what kind it is, it sounds like you need some counseling.   You can get that here on Better Help!   If you cannot afford to join the platform, most communities have resources that offer free or very low-cost counseling to those in need.  Ask your doctor for a referral or reach out to governmental agencies in your state/country for information.   Really optimizing your sleep is the main KEY to feeling better emotionally and getting your life in order.  Great sleep also helps immensely with physical health issues, chronic pain, weight management, and disease prevention.   But great sleep isn't just about how many hours of sleep you get per night, it's also about how DEEPLY you sleep… That "deep wave sleep" keeps us healthy and happy!  To get the deepest sleep possible, make sure to get some indirect sunlight to the retinas of your EYES every morning, or use a Nature Bright light for that purpose. That'll help your body release a hormone to help you sleep better and deeper each night. Also, be sure to avoid BLUE LIGHT after the sun goes down.  Blue light is emitted from TV screens, phone screens, and computers/laptops.  It’s even emitted from most types of indoor lighting. Blue light tricks your brain into thinking the sun is still out!  And that RUINS the quality of sleep you're getting each night. That's a big reason so many people don't feel calm, content, and energized, even though they may be getting 8 or more hours of solid sleep at night.  Blue light is hard to avoid.  Using the "night-time" light setting on your electronic devices doesn't solve the problem, because it doesn’t block the blue light adequately.  What solves the problem is staying off ALL electronics after dark, and switching all household lighting to incandescent bulbs, or use candlelight (safely!).  If that doesn't sound like a fun night, there's another option.  You can wear 'blue-blocker' amber glasses after dark. I recommend Spectra brand amber glasses because they block a high percentage of blue light and are reasonably priced.  Plus they are easier to see through than some other types of blue-blocker glasses.  They are available on Amazon.  Remember... if you don't get enough deep sleep, it will be much harder to feel happy and be productive in your daily life.    Sleep is one of the very best coping tools!  Good sleep, much like a healthy diet, can be a big part of achieving mental wellness.  Establish a calming bedtime routine and make every effort to get to bed by 10:30 pm at the latest. Ideally, you will wake before your alarm clock goes off. If your alarm clock is waking you from a sound sleep, that is a sign that you need to get to bed earlier.If you need or want to take a nap during the day, keep it before noon, that way it will not wreak havoc with the quality of your nighttime sleep.  Avoid night-time shift work if at all possible!  Make sure to get daily exercise.  Avoid caffeine after the noon hour.If you are following all of this sleep advice, yet still experiencing trouble drifting off to sleep, or are waking during the night, or having nightmares, or feeling fatigued during the day, do let your doctor and counselor know, so you can get some customized guidance.  Hope this helps, David.  Sleep well!    Maya 
(MS, LMFT)
Answered on 10/25/2021

How do I come out of my mental fog

What you described as "mental fog" sounds like a symptom typically associated with burnout. Contrary to what your unhelpful self-talk may be telling you, you are but only one human being trying to balance so many demands simultaneously. While we may possibly get away with trying to balance so many spinning plates for some time, this mode of operation is not sustainable or healthy in the long term. Sometimes we try to convince ourselves that it is our responsibility or obligation to handle all of life's burdens on our own, but as the old adage goes "no man is an island." If we continue on this reckless path of disregard of our own limitations, our health will inevitably suffer and we will not be of much use to anyone.  Mental fog can manifest itself as inattentiveness, an inability to concentrate, confusion, distress, dissociation, or some combination of all of the above. While burnout can certainly be linked with mental fog and fatigue, I recommend you begin your investigation into the origins of these somatic complaints by scheduling a medical evaluation. So many variables could be triggering your physical complaints which a medical provider would be much more qualified to assess for than a therapist. Once medical causes are ruled out, then it would be entirely appropriate and advisable to assess for the underlying psychological issues with your therapist. It sounds like you are being pulled in so many directions by so many different people. It is clear to me that you care a lot about others, but perhaps to such an extent that you may be jeopardizing your own health. Although you took a break from your academic career, it sounds like returning home to care for your mother diagnosed with a visual impairment coupled with your relationship problem could be triggering your body to respond to the chronic stress with "mental fog" and fatigue. If we do not confront our emotions, our body will often elicit responses or "warning signs" to prompt us to make a change, whether that be we take a break, rest, or simply say "no."  If we continue to push ourselves without heeding the warning signs, our bodies often "force" us to stop and that can come in the form of illness or injury. I would advise you to take good care of yourself first and foremost before taking on any more care for others. 
(LCSW)
Answered on 10/25/2021

How do I cope with stressful situations in a way that’s less impactful on those around me?

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with stress and being so consumed by the problems in your life. It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific anxieties you have about sharing with others.     Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with this kind of stress.                 As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone whose life has worth and that has been able to get through challenges in your past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  These thoughts must be accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical-themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which affirms her feelings and not others.  Hopefully, you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take the weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/25/2021

Do you have a degree in therapy or do you have life experiences that helps you with your patients

Dear John, Thank you for reaching out and asking for the most important details. It is important that you know about the credentials of a therapist before you begin therapy as it becomes easier to go through the process if you are able to trust your therapist with their knowledge and experience. The first step in the therapeutic process is to develop a trustworthy relationship with your therapist and knowing their background and how they can help you is essential in forming this relationship.  I would like to introduce myself to you. My name is Dr. Saima Sandhu and I am a mental health professional with many years of experience. I started my career in physical sciences (genetics). After I received a master's degree in genetics I wasn't feeling fulfilled with my education. I thought that perhaps a change of career is the decision I should make and pursued a second master's degree in computer science. After graduation, I was again at a point where I felt that I wasn't satisfied. During this time I met a therapist and she helped me with a problem I was facing then. Working with her made me realize her contribution to my life and how she has impacted my life. This gave me a reason to study psychology and I started my third master's degree in psychology and went on to do my Ph.D.  Working as a therapist made me realize how much satisfaction this has given me as I am able to connect with people in the midst of their crisis and am able to bring comfort to their hearts. The difference I make in people's lives was what I was looking for all along as I am a person who likes to give in order to feel happy. Experiencing therapy firsthand in a tough time in my life also made me realize that trusting my therapist was the best decision I made as a small step (going for therapy) brought so much awareness about myself and what I can do in life.  When you say that you "feel like a plane spinning out of control" I know how you feel and understand how hard it is to keep yourself up and floating. You have taken the right step by contacting a mental health professional and seeking help. Finding the right match with a therapist is essential and forming that trusting relationship is important. Once you have established that you will see with time how you will start your journey of personal growth. You will become aware of your emotions and will feel in control of them.  I wish you the best in this journey.  Best, Dr. Saima 
(PHD, MS, MA)
Answered on 10/25/2021

Does anyone have experience of ambiguous grief

Dear Sushi,   Thank you very much for your message and for allowing me to understand the pain and the sufferings you and your mother have been going through since the loss. A loss is an irreplaceable and only time and compassion can bring comfort and peace during this process of healing.   When it comes to grieving, we all have our own ways of grief and processing. Each of us is uniquely different and that means we all connect with this process differently. Some cries, some write, some hide and some stay silent.     You are absolutely wise in seeking understanding over how you feel and so courageous in keep trying despite so many negative experiences in the past. I am so grateful for your trust and I do also see this as my privilege to be walking alongside you during this journey. I do believe with all of my heart that your wishes and prayers will come true and all these sufferings will stop.   In fact, they will. We are walking through a hard time, but if you notice, time is still moving and the clock is still ticking, no matter what we are doing or what we are not doing.   Therefore, let's keep loving ourselves, learn more about how to be kind and gentle with ourselves, practice accepting and appreciating who we are, and we'll walk together in this journey until you see what I've seen. :)   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 the "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   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.   At times where we are not practicing these tools, it's okay. Time is still passing and is carrying us to the comfort that we will find someday. Let's not judge or blame ourselves for not trying harder. We are all trying, and there is always a right time for everything. Just because we are not "trying hard" doesn't mean we don't want to try, perhaps it's just that the timing is not right yet. Let's be gentle, patient, and compassionate towards ourselves, especially when we feel like we are not trying hard enough.   I'm always and will always be here for you as long as you need me to.   There are times where we feel like we are not making much progress and I can relate to that personally. These are the times filled with frustrations, desperation, confusion, and probably hopelessness. As much as it is hard to see/feel or believe, we are indeed making progress. Time is moving (it always moves in case we don't notice).   Let's take this process slowly, gently, and allow ourselves to be healed. Meanwhile, allow ourselves to place them in a special place reserved in our hearts. That place could be different for you and the people around you, the key is that there is a special place reserved for them, and it is a place of great joy, wonderful memories, and the desire to live our lives in a way that they would have lived theirs.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/25/2021

What are the best ways to deal with constant anxiety and it’s physical symptoms?

There are several ways to work on the issues of anxiety and depression. The first thing I suggest is to have a complete examination by your primary care doctor to determine if there are any physical alignments that could be a contributing factor to your physical behaviors. Sometimes physical illness can show up as behavioral issues. Once this is completed and there is no evidence of illness or infection. You and your doctor can decide together if there is a need for psych medications. This medication may help you manage the behavioral issues while you are working with your therapist to gain more understanding of how your thoughts are contributing to your behavior. Thoughts are very powerful and serve us both in positive and negative ways. Things from your past may be getting in the way of your present and old thoughts and coping mechanisms maybe not be so useful in the present moment. With Cognitive Behavioral therapy you can examine your thoughts by writing them down and working with a therapist to better understand these thoughts and their purpose.  Negative thinking can be very toxic and cause us to act and feel in ways that are unproductive and harmful to ourselves and others.  If we look at a simple thought like "I cannot help any of my friends" What does this thought do to us.  1. It causes us to feel useless 2. It decreases our self-esteem 3. It questions are skills and talents and instills self-doubt 4. It questions your purpose  One thought that may seem harmless can be very impactful. The above thought offers no solutions and causes more problems which increase depression and anger at self. If we want to help others we must have thoughts such as: How can I help with my resources, what do my friends need, what will be most useful, can I get others to help, where do we start, how do I help them without hurting myself, is praying for them enough, can a small gesture be impactful, can ordering something online help, etc. Once these thoughts are present it makes room for solutions to be formulated, I hope this has been helpful.
(Masters, in, Social, Work, LCSW)
Answered on 10/25/2021

My question about my mind my mind from last month i notice overthinking and i cant sleep properly

Hello, Thanks for reaching out to ask about how you can stop your mind from overthinking and how if it affecting your sleep and ability to focus. I will share some information on what might be happening with you and some tips on how you can reduce yours overactive mind.  I will also address some specific things you can do when your mind is active at night. How to Stop Overthinking. All of us can overthink at times, and some of us (myself included) are more prone to it than others. Overthinking can take many forms: endlessly deliberating when deciding (and then questioning the decision), attempting to read minds, trying to predict the future, reading into the smallest of details—the list goes on. But all types of overthinking have one thing in common—there’s very little benefit from the time and effort spent thinking. In fact, there are major downsides to spending too much time with our thoughts, as you may know from personal experience. Some common costs of overthinking: Missing out on opportunities - It’s smart to do your research, but if you think for too long about a decision, you’re likely to see opportunities pass you by. For example, a friend of mine delayed buying a house for years as he did endless research, analyzing neighborhoods and market trends and looking for the perfect investment. He finally bought—at the peak of the housing bubble. If he’d bought sooner, he would have paid much less and would have a lot of equity in his home. Are there opportunities waiting for you that you don’t want to miss by overthinking your decision? Perhaps it’s a good time to make your move.  Feeling like you’re spinning your wheels - You probably recognize that you’ve been down the same mental road many times, and yet you continue, like you’re stuck in a loop. It’s frustrating and draining. Overthinking can be a hard habit to break because it feels like doing something. But on some level, you know it’s just wasting your time and effort. Friction with those around you - Just as overthinking can exhaust you, it can exhaust those around you. Your confidantes might get tired of hearing you cover the same ground again and again, and your loved ones might get annoyed when you won’t decide. Your relationships can suffer as a result.  Anxiety - Overthinking is the mental equivalent of pacing the floor, driven by the belief that you should be able to solve a problem by exerting enough mental energy. Not being able to make you feel anxious and agitated and fills you with self-doubt. Antidotes to Overthinking Thankfully there are plenty of ways to address overthinking. Many of these recommendations focus on action, which pulls you out of your head. Look for opportunities to make mistakes - If you’re prone to overthinking because you don’t want to make the wrong decision, be open to the possibility that you very well might. You’re human, and you operate with imperfect knowledge and a lack of clairvoyance. Maybe that thing you buy from Amazon will break. Perhaps the email you send will accidentally offend the recipient. Reframe mistakes as opportunities to learn, rather than as something terrible to be avoided at all costs. Connect with your body - A great way to get out of your head is to get into your body. When you find yourself stuck in thinking mode, get moving—do some exercise, stand up, do a few knees bends—anything to break up the chain of thought. Pay attention to the sensations in your body as you move. You can also follow a guided meditation that directs you step by step using one of the many meditation apps available for download, for example, Headspace or Calm. Identify when you’re overthinking - Sometimes it can be useful just to say it: That’s overthinking. Train your mind to release unnecessary thinking by calling it what it is. Then direct your attention to something tangible, such as the food you’re eating, the work you’re doing, or the person you’re talking to.  Practice the 80/20 rule - The first twenty percent of our time and effort often produce eighty percent of the benefit from a given outcome; the remaining eighty percent of our effort only yields an additional twenty percent of the benefit.  For example, the first hour of research on a new coffeemaker provides the majority of what you need to know to make a sensible purchase; the next four hours are likely to add little value to your decision. Improve your efficiency by moving on after you’ve given a topic or a dilemma a reasonable amount of thought, before wading into continued thinking that brings little return. Own your decisions - Overthinking decisions often comes from the fear that you’ll do something “wrong,” like buying something you regret or booking a bad weekend to travel. Keep in mind that all you can do is make the best possible decision with the information you have. Stand up tall and keep your head up, no matter what the result is. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted, you might have made an excellent decision at the time. Own it. Watch out for the hindsight bias—also known as “Monday morning quarterbacking”—in which you judge your past decision based on the information you didn’t have at the time. For example, don’t assume you “should have known” a month before that it would rain the whole weekend you were at the beach; meteorologists are less than perfect at predicting the weather even more than a day or two in advance. Be accountable - Allow those close to you to help with your tendency to overthink. You might ask your partner, for example, to point out when you’re overthinking something. They’ll probably be happy to assist you in getting out of your head! Just remember to thank them for bringing it to your attention and resist the urge to get mad at them for doing what you asked them to do. Embrace uncertainty - Overthinking comes from a drive to know something that is probably unknowable—things like what the “best” product is or what someone really thinks of you. Research shows that the more we try to gain certainty about the unknowable, the less confident—and the more anxious—we feel. Instead of trying to gain elusive reassurance, learn to welcome uncertainty. It’s what makes life an adventure. That’s not to say that it’s a comfortable place to live, but it probably beats being stuck in a loop of fruitless mental effort. Practice mindful awareness - Contrary to what the word might sound like, “mindfulness” isn’t about spending more time thinking. Instead, it’s about deliberately focusing on what is real, and opening to whatever your reality is. Rather than trying to solve problems by overthinking, you can develop a different relationship with your thoughts—becoming less identified with them and not taking them so seriously. A mindful response to overthinking might include recognizing it as such, opening to the relevant uncertainty, and then directing your attention toward what you can experience with your five senses. It’s coming home to your present. I will now share some more tips on how to manage overthinking at nighttime so that you can perhaps sleep more easily. How to Quiet the Mental Chatter at night: Our brains love to kick themselves into overdrive at the most inopportune of moments. For you, it may be when you crawl into your toasty bed, exhausted from a long and hard day. But, try as you might, you simply can’t shut your brain off. All manner of thoughts are darting around it, and you simply can’t shake them. The result is sleeping far later than you wanted to, and this means you wake up feeling tired and groggy. Thankfully, learning how to stop overthinking at night isn’t that difficult. I am going to share with you a few tried and tested techniques that will help you to shut your brain off at night. Put these into action, and you will be sleeping well before you know it. Why do we overthink at night? Before we talk about how we can tackle all that overthinking, I think it is worth taking a little bit of time to talk about why it is happening in the first place. I think this will help you to realize that overthinking is normal. It is something that everybody will deal with at some point or another. The brain is an information processing machine. Each day, a load of information is being thrown at you. Information that your brain needs to process at some point. The problem is that our lifestyles are busier than ever before. There is very little downtime, which means that your brain never really gets a rest from that constant barrage of information. The only time it can ‘take a break’ is when you are lying in a bed of an evening. So, when you are overthinking, you will find that your brain is (mostly) processing information. Storing it. Making decisions etc. Honestly, you will find that having a little bit of quiet time to yourself each day will do wonders when it comes to overthinking. Give yourself a rest every few hours, and the amount that you overthink of an evening will shoot all the way down. This leads us neatly onto our first method for how to stop overthinking at night. ·       Give yourself time to relax  About an hour before you head to bed, give yourself time to ‘decompress’. Don’t watch television, it is going to stimulate your brain further. You can probably read a book but make sure that the subject matter isn’t too heavy. The last thing you want is to be thinking about that awesome plotline when you are trying to drift into the land of dreams. Perhaps the best way to decompress try some meditation practices. If you have never meditated before, don’t worry, it is pretty easy. All you need is a quiet room and a comfortable chair to sit on. You may want to light a candle or two for some atmosphere. Then just follow these steps: 1.     Close your eyes and relax them. Take a few deep breaths to get started. 2.     If you have never meditated before, it can be difficult to breathe deeply. You will start warming up to it, though. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on making your breaths as deep as you can. You will get the hang of it after a while. 3.     The key to meditation is to focus on your breathing. Focus on nothing else. Just focus on the air going in and then coming back out. This will eliminate any thoughts lingering in your mind. That really is it. If you meditate for just five minutes, you will feel so much more relaxed. However, the feeling is so fantastic, that I reckon you will be doing it for at least 10-20 minutes, even at the start. If you are struggling to relax, you may want to listen to some music designed specifically for meditation. It will help to get you in the mood. ·       Talk about your feelings If you have a lot of anxiety or burning thoughts on your mind, then talk about them to a friend or loved one. Talk about your day and any issues that you had with it. Make them feel as if they can talk to you if you want. In most cases, an open and honest discussion like this is more than enough to ensure that you get a good night of rest. If you don’t have anybody to talk to about your feelings to, then you may want to buy a notebook and jot a few of your inner thoughts down into it. ·       Distract your brain evenings will be minimal, but they will still happen. Sometimes, the best you can hope for is to distract your brain with something a bit more positive. When I get anxiety-laden thoughts of an evening, there is one method that works well for me. This is making up a story. When you feel those negative thoughts start to creep into your brain, come up with a story, When I was a kid, I used to love making up stories about my ‘dreams’. For example, I wanted to be a professional football player, so I would imagine myself doing that. Although, you may want to do something different. Just think about something ‘fun’. If you can’t do that, then some people find that making lists up in their minds about what needs to be accomplished the next day is a good distraction. Although, you may find that doing this will cause you to overthink more, so proceed with caution! If you don’t want to make a ‘to-do list, then try and make a random ‘fun’ list up. For example, make a list of your favorite movies or songs. Just something to focus your mind elsewhere. You could also use the ‘tried and tested’ method of counting sheep. You will be asleep before you know it. ·       Be more physically active The final technique will require you to have a few hours free throughout your day, particularly in the run-up to sleeping. If you exercise and tire yourself out, your body simply will not have the energy to ‘overthink’. You are going to be drifting into that slumber before you know it. This is a technique that is probably best used in combination with one of the others on this page. While it is a tremendous method for how to stop overthinking at night, there are some thoughts that will be so powerful and so overwhelming that being dead tired is not enough. Your brain will still somehow manage to muster up the energy to think about your problems.   If you follow these techniques, you will lower the amount of overthinking you do, if not eliminating it completely. You will be surprised at how many daily issues a spot of meditation in the evening can help you to deal with. However, do remember that if you have a ton of anxious thoughts at night that you can’t shake no matter what you try, you may want to talk to your doctor or a mental health therapist. They will be able to provide you with further advice and support you might need.   I wish you luck! Kind Regards, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 10/25/2021

Is there a Nevada licensed African American, Christian female on the roster? If not. I understan

First off, I want to commend you for reaching out and asking for support. I know that it is not always easy to find support and dealing with chronic pain can be very overwhelming and often discouraging. I have had several close family and friends in my life that have dealt with chronic pain and as a loved one, it was very painful to watch and not feel like I could do anything to help. With that being my inspiration, I decided to take a position at Loma Linda Hospital serving patients with chronic illnesses. I moved from Las Vegas to California to study and work with this population and understand more about the research between chronic illnesses, mental health, and its impact on one's health-related quality of life. I discovered that there is a major correlation between stress levels and the pain we experience. Every single experience we have is experienced at a cellular level. So having unprocessed emotions can actually make our pain worse. If we don't express how we feel, our bodies will do the talking for us. It is a vicious cycle because pain can definitely impact how one feels, but also holding on to emotions will exasperate the pain in our bodies. The way I work with addressing pain with my patients is by doing a lot of mind-body connection work. Often times when people experience chronic pain, it's very common for patients to disconnect from their bodies as they feel that their bodies have betrayed them. However, using the body as a tool is a great way to be able to decipher whether you are holding onto emotional pain or it is physical pain from your health condition. I often incorporate art with my clients, because it helps tap into the subconscious rather than the conscious. Stress is a huge amplifier of pain and worsens health conditions. People dealing with chronic health issues or pain often struggle with not being able to control how their bodies feel and the way it may impact the relationships in their lives. Helping process through that alone can decrease the pain significantly. I also help my clients find a healthy support system so that the patient doesn't feel that they are only getting support from the same few people. This can help the patient not feel so alone in this experience. I hope this helps!
Answered on 10/25/2021