There is the old song (1995) call “I will Never Be” and the word of the song start off with “I will never be the same again, I can never return I’ve closed the door.” Some of the people I went to college with may remember this song. This was one that was played pretty regularly during chapel and even in meetings. This song has been playing through my mind recently. It made me think back to when I first heard this song and the transformation in my life that had already happened.
However, before the song was heard, another moment transformed my life in ways that are still felt some 23 years later. I remember the day so clearly. It was a humid and hot day in New Orleans and I was on my first missions trip. We were standing outside, we were all hot and sweaty and we had started to pray. Standing there, we started to pray for the city and the prayer the came from my heart was “break my heart for what breaks Yours.” Little did I know that this prayer would change the way I saw the world forever.
Here I am, some 20plus years later and the song again comes to mind. I begin to think about why this song is once again coming to mind. I don’t know what God is doing right now, but things are definitely stirring. There are so many things in my mind that i can’t even put it into words yet. What I do know is that God is in control even when I don’t understand it. The past few weeks, it seems as though something is brewing in me, the sermons my past has been preaching have been on point. All I know now is I need to trust that God is in control.
Do Not Neglect The Gift That Is In You…
This year the verse that stuck out to me as the verse that would be my focus of the year was 1 Timothy 4:14 “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.” This verse has been bouncing around my mind for several months now and it seems as though there should be a clear direction by this point in the year. However, there has been no clear direction as to what I am supposed to do.
The question that arises is what gift am I neglecting? Where am I not walking in all that I am called to do? From the outside it would seem like I am doing all the things, I serve in my church, I work in the field that I went to school for. However, there is this growing discontent, a feeling as though there is something else or something more that I should be different. I feel a little like Elsa in the Into the Unknown song.
Or are you someone out there Who’s a little bit like me? Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be?
Into The Unknown
I currently serve in my church in tech. Those who know me, know that tech is my favorite hiding place in church. Serving in tech is easy for me, its a place where I go when I don’t know what to do, or need a season of rest. Its a place where I feel safe and grounded. Somedays I feel my heart stirring, something in me starts to bubble and then life gets busy and those things find themselves back on the back burner where they were before. I started writing this blog post a month ago, and then life got in the way and here it is 30 days later and I am trying to finish it.
I feel as though there are gifts I am neglecting but I can’t seem to put my finger on what gifts they may be and what I am supposed to do with the knowledge. So for today I am just putting it out there, that this is something I am continuing to pray about and think about.
Couples: How to Regulate Yourself During Difficult Conversations
Sharing your life with someone means having open and honest conversations, even when those conversations are a bit difficult. But that’s easier said than done.
During hard conversations, it’s common for many people to become triggered by something their partner has said. Calm one moment, but the next they’re thrown into “fight or flight” mode, their brain sensing danger. Before they know it, the most primitive part of their brain is activated in an effort to help them survive. And this is when things can get ugly. Because it’s fairly impossible to speak calmly and rationally when your entire body is in survival mode.
Luckily there are things we can do during difficult conversations to regulate our emotional responses and keep ourselves calm and level-headed.
Pause and Breathe
As soon as you start to feel triggered, pause and take a few slow, deep breaths. While deep breathing may seem like a cliche, it is actually a very powerful tool that helps us get out of “fight or flight” mode and into a more relaxed state. When we breathe slowly and deeply, it sends a signal to our brain that we are out of danger.
Use Your Senses
Another effective way to regulate your emotions in the moment is to focus your attention on a physical sensation. You could take a sip of water and really feel the sensation of drinking, or you could run your fingers along the seam of the sofa cushion.
It is so common in a conversation to listen to form a response. But when we do this it is far easier to misunderstand what the other person is really saying. Be sure to listen to understand, not to form a response.
Difficult conversations are inevitable when you are in any kind of relationship. But if you use these tips to regulate yourself, you can remain calm and communicate effectively with your partner.
Single on Valentine’s Day? Treat Yourself to Self Care
Ah, Valentine’s Day – a holiday to celebrate love with the one you love. Well, that sounds great and all if you’re in a relationship – but what about if you’re single? What should you do, spend the entire day moping around eating copious amounts of mini Twix? That’s an option, but a better option is to spend the day practicing copious amounts of self-care.
Here are some ideas to show yourself how much you love you:
Start your day right by making sure you rehydrate after a long slumber. Remember, real hydration is as much about replenishing electrolytes as it is getting in water. So be sure to add a little sea salt into your water or sip on some delicious coconut water. Proper hydration is not just about physical health but it also helps keep our mood elevated.
Take a Personal Day
This Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday, so most of us are going to have to go to work. If you can manage taking a personal day, consider doing it. Self-care is about stopping, relaxing, and reconnecting with ourselves.
Take Yourself Out on a Date
Why not go out for a nice meal with yourself. Is there a cute cafe or diner in your town that you love or have been wanting to try? Then why not treat yourself? Just be sure not to pig out on unhealthy food as it may cause you to feel tired, bloated and bad about yourself later on.
Finish the Day with Some Spa Time
Wind down the day with a luxurious and lengthy bubble bath. Light some candles and sip a glass of wine while you soak in the tub and think about how much you love yourself and how grateful you are for your awesome life.
Who needs a significant other when you’ve got you, babe!
Bipolar disorder is a condition that affects an individual’s mood. While manageable, the condition not only affects how a person thinks and feels, but also how they behave and act in romantic relationships. For instance, individuals with bipolar disorder experience severe high and low moods, which are typically called manic and depressive episodes. While in these emotional states, their behavior can scare and confuse their partner.
The good news is, with the right treatment plan, many individuals with bipolar disorder can have healthy and satisfying relationships.
Manic vs Depressive Episodes
In order to understand how bipolar disorder can affect relationships, we need to look at how the two main episodes affect a person’s personality and behavior.
When someone is in a manic state, they are often very irritable. This may cause them to disagree with their partner, and sometimes cause them to look for fights that aren’t really there.
Manic episodes also cause sufferers to partake in risky behaviors, such as binge drinking or gambling sprees. These risky behaviors can cause a lot of tension in the relationship.
Depressive episodes tend to cause the person to become very depressed and less communicative. They may be very weepy and feel hopeless. During these episodes the individual may pull away from their partner. They may also seem so lost and sad their partner feels overwhelmed and unable to help them.
Tips for Healthy Relationships
There is no relationship on the planet that doesn’t require a lot of work and effort. A relationship with a bipolar individual is no different. The good news is, there are numerous ways to build a loving and strong relationship in this situation:
Learn about the condition – The more you know about bipolar disorder, the more you can understand what your partner is experiencing.
Know their triggers – Triggers can disrupt your loved one’s mood, sending them into either a manic or depressive episode. Asking about potential triggers will help you support your loved one.
Creating a support plan – A comprehensive plan will help you support your partner. Your plan can include things like useful contacts, activities to avoid, necessary adjustments to daily routine, etc.
If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, or if you are on the verge or diving into a relationship with someone who has, know that the condition does not mean you will be saddled with problems. But a healthy relationship will depend on effectively managing symptoms.
If you’d like to work with a licensed mental health therapist who specializes in working with individuals with bipolar disorder, please give my office a call (619) 738-3947. I’d be happy to discuss treatment plans and how I may be able to help you experience a profound and loving connection with others.
The holidays are just around the corner, and many of us are struggling to come up with gift ideas our friends and family will love. With so many people dealing with stress and anxiety these days over the recession, layoffs and threat of nuclear war, the best gift you can give this season is the gift of mental health.
With this in mind, here are some very thoughtful, practical and creative gifts ideas for loved ones who may be struggling with stress or anxiety:
1. Weighted Blankets
Weighted blankets have been shown to decrease a person’s anxiety. The weight of the blanket applies gentle pressure to the body, eliciting the same response as a hug or cuddle. These blankets are also great for helping people with sleep issues.
2. Art Supplies
Some people, adults and children alike, have a hard time expressing how they feel through language. But expression through art helps people get their feelings out.
Why not head to your local craft store and get your loved one something to help them tap into their creative side. It could be a paint set, adult coloring book, or modeling clay. Creating art has a meditative and calming effect as well.
Some people need to write things down in order to process them. You can find really nice journals for under $20 for that person in your life who is introspective and needs to get those thoughts, feelings and ideas onto paper.
4. Meditation & Mindfulness Subscription
Practicing mindfulness and meditation has been shown to provide mental, physical and emotional benefits. But it can be hard to get started with the practice. Help your loved one find Zen and calm with a subscription to a meditation and mindfulness app.
5. Mind Over Mind
There are many wonderful mental health books out there. One I recommend is called Mind Over Mood, which uses proven Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) exercises to shift an individual’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
And if you or your loved one would like to explore CBT with a licensed therapist, please reach out to me. Sometimes talking to someone can really make all the difference.
Aging is not for the faint of heart. While some people approach their senior years eagerly, relishing the thought of retirement and spoiling grandchildren, others may have a hard time accepting the passage of time. It can be challenging for many to deal with medical conditions and limited mobility, find enjoyable, meaningful activities, and reconcile with the grief of losing loved ones and their own mortality.
Therapy Can be a Great Help
Therapy can be a powerful transformative tool for people of all ages. For older adults, therapy can help them manage their emotions so they can find new meaning and purpose in their Golden years.
Speaking with a therapist can also assist people in working through their grief as friends and family pass on. And it can also be a tremendous help to speak to someone about the fear of their own mortality.
But this is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the numerous benefits of therapy. For instance, I have some older clients who are still dealing with self-esteem issues. We’d like to think the older we get the more we accept and love ourselves. Some of my clients have been able to finally break free of that critical voice inside themselves to live a fuller and more satisfying life.
Some of my clients use our sessions to build their confidence. Whether it’s putting themself “back out there” to find a new romance or being able to speak up to their well-intentioned family members who think they know what’s best, we work together to build the confidence they have perhaps lacked for many, many years.
Could You Use Someone to Talk To?
I like to think of myself as a friend who happens to know a lot about psychology, human emotions, and how we can more easily reach our goals. If there is something in your life that is causing you grief or fear, perhaps I can help with that.
If you’d like to explore treatment options, please feel free to reach out to me. I am a Medicare provider.
Depression is a complex mental health issue that varies widely between individuals. This is why it can be difficult for some people to recognize what may be a situational discomfort that may pass on its own, and what may be more serious and require professional help.
The Difference Between Mild and Serious Mental Health Issues
In order to measure the seriousness of a mental health issue, most mental health professionals look at what impact it has on the person’s everyday life. They also take into account the events that led to the issue.
Mild mental health issues are typically less persistent as well as less disruptive to an individual’s everyday life. Serious mental health issues, on the other hand, are often so severe that they negatively impact that person’s relationships and performance at school and work.
As an example, feeling pressure at work about an upcoming deadline will make just about anyone feel stressed and anxious. But if your anxiety becomes so great that you begin calling in sick to work to avoid the project and responsibilities, that would be seen as a disruption in your everyday life. Severe anxiety can lead to panic attacks and that is definitely a reason to seek support.
Something else to keep in mind is the context around the mental health issue. It is perfectly normal to grieve after losing a loved one or to feel anger and resentment after discovering your partner’s infidelity. While it can definitely be helpful to speak with someone during these times, you may not necessarily be experiencing a severe mental health crisis that would warrant help.
It is important to mention that the events of one’s life need not be “serious” in order for you to reach out for help. Whatever it is that you are going through and whatever feelings you are experiencing, they are valid.
Warning Signs of a Serious Mental Health Crisis
The following are some red flags of a mental health crisis that warrant asking for help:
Feeling sad or “down” for long periods of time (particularly without an inciting incident)
Noticeable mood swings from very high, like euphoria, to very low, like deep sadness or depression
Feeling empty or apathetic about life
Engaging in self-harming behaviors, like cutting
Withdrawing from friends and family
Changes in appetite, sleep or sex drive
Thoughts of suicide
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time to reach out and ask for help. While the days seem dark right now, they can and will get brighter. I’d love to help you get there, so please get in touch with me so we can set up a time to speak. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (619) 738-3947
Eating disorders are often associated with teenagers and adolescents. But many adults struggle with this same issue.
What are Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders are mental health issues that involve unhealthy or obsessive eating habits. Some of the most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder.
Anyone can develop an eating disorder at any point in their life, though a disproportionate number of those diagnosed are young females. Researchers have found there are often biological factors involved in developing an eating disorder, as well as social and interpersonal pressures. Many men and women develop eating disorders as a response to culturally mediated body image concerns.
Eating Disorders and Physical Health
If not treated, eating disorders can and do often lead to poor physical health. Here are just some of the physical symptoms that commonly occur in people with eating disorders:
Drastic changes in weight (either increase or decrease)
Dizzy spells and fainting
Stained or discolored teeth (from purging)
GI upsets like stomach aches and cramping
It’s important to mention that while these symptoms are common, not everyone will present with them. Eating disorders and their physical and emotional effects will look different for each individual.
Eating disorders can be very stressful for the person and their loved ones. In some cases, they can even be life-threatening.
There are a few different treatment options for those suffering from an eating disorder:
Speaking with a Trained Therapist
A therapist trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help a patient uncover the emotional reasons beneath the affliction and help them to adapt their behavior.
Medications may be needed to help treat any anxiety and depression that often coexists with an eating disorder.
Work with a Nutritionist
It is often advised that people with eating disorders work with a nutritionist to relearn proper eating habits and the importance of getting the right amount of nutrients each day.
If you or someone you love is living with an eating disorder, it is important that you get some help. With the right treatment plan, life can become healthy once again.
Emotional abuse is not as easy to spot as physical abuse, but oftentimes its effects can be just as traumatic. Emotional abuse can involve a wide range of tactics, including gaslighting, shaming and manipulation. All of these are intended to leave the victim feeling confused, powerless and hopeless.
Typically people suffer from long-term or short-term emotional abuse, and depending on the length of time, there can be varying mental health effects.
Long-term emotional abuse happens over many years. Examples are a child growing up in a home with an alcoholic parent or a sibling with anger issues. Someone may find themselves in a marriage with a narcissistic partner.
Short-term emotional abuse can result from a nasty exchange with a stranger or micro-interactions with colleagues or neighbors.
The following are some short-term and long-term effects of emotional abuse:
Isolation or a sense of deep loneliness
Anxiety connected with social interactions
Feelings of powerlessness
Neuroticism, or the tendency toward a depressed mood or negative emotions like anger
Physical health issues like muscle tension and shortness of breath
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or CPTSD (chronic post-traumatic stress disorder)
You Can Heal from Emotional Abuse
With time, patience and plenty of self-compassion, it is very possible to heal from the trauma of emotional abuse. Working with a mental health professional who has been trained specifically to help people who have been the victim of emotional abuse is a great starting point.
If you’d like to explore treatment options, please reach out to me.