the healing journey counseling fl

healing, anxiety, loss, grief, depression, ptsd, self-care, suicide prevention, post partum depression


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Self-care challenge: The Process of Forgiveness and Mindfulness

Today I enjoyed listening to a fellow colleague who talked about forgiveness and mindfulness. Forgiveness is something that takes some time and practice. But we need to allow ourselves the opportunity to choose to forgive others so that we can release the burden of hurt. I worked with several clients who came to therapy seeking help for the anger that they felt. We choose to either do two things forgive them or hold on to the hurt. The following are are some exercises to try so that you can process forgiveness into your everyday life.

  1. The Power of Breath and Visualization- This basically consists of conscious breathing that allows us to be present with our body. It helps to move the hurt, anger, frustration away from our body or shuts it down. First, close your eyes then envision a ball of white cloud or golden light at the base of your spine. Begin counting  very slowly to 108 as you visualize the ball traveling up your spine. Hold the light or ball at each area of your back for 5-6 counts then slowly imagine the ball or light moving all the way to your head and extend it in front of you. Visualize the person that hurt you whom you wish to forgive surrounded by the light or ball. Breathe deeply and silently repeat the name of the person then say, ” I choose to let go of what happened. May you be surrounded and filled with this light.” Keep breathing through whatever emotions may surface or arise as a result. Hold the vision, repeat the statement, breathe through it until you feel a sense of calm and then gently open your eyes.
  1. Bilateral Stimulation: Swing those arms!- Bilateral Stimulation is a tool that change the brain chemistry. Walk briskly, swinging your arms (right, left, right, left) while feeling and thinking about the hurt. This creates a new pathway in our brain that allows access to more positive emotions, memories and beliefs. This practice also helps to lessen the impact of negative emotions. Notice how much calmer you feel while continuing to walk briskly and swing the arms. Be sure to breathe deeply and rhythmically as you are walking, feeling, and noticing.
  2. Sit in Silence and Stillness- Dedicate 15 minutes every day to sit with your spine straight, eyes closed and focus on the natural flow of your breath. Observe the silence and stillness which helps you to be present with what is without actively doing, changing, or fixing. As thoughts and emotion occur return your mind to focus on your breath and the sensation of your sitting. This helps the mind to be okay with what is rather than being hooked by memories and emotions.

The following is an excerpt for the above activity by Lynn Louise Wonders.

 


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You are not alone

She is sitting at the side of her bed in her pj’s  and its past 2’o clock in the afternoon. Where did the time go? Her hair is not comb and she has no makeup. On her face she looks sad and deep in thought. Suddenly, she begins to cry again which is a usual occurrence throughout the day. She recently gave birth to her daughter and something is drastically wrong with her. She doesn’t understand why she feels this way and begins to question herself. Why do I feel alone, sad and miserable? The baby cries and she simply don’t have the energy to fed the baby once again. Some may see this as a signs of postpartum depression which isn’t the same for all mothers. The following is a list of signs to look for in postpartum depression:

  1. Anger-  Becoming angry at everyone that includes your baby, your spouse or even your older children. You have been throwing things or yelling at everyone. You can’t get a handle of this anger that is built up inside. You are mad all the time and you have no control over it.
  2. Brain Fog-  You tend to forget  things from time to time. It’s all a misery to you.  You try your best to remember the right words, but nothing comes to mind. Then you try to multitask, but you cant do this. You find yourself in the middle of the intersection and realize that you flew pass the stop sign.
  3. Scary thoughts- Your thoughts are interrupted by “what if”, which begins to take over. What if something terrible happened? These thoughts are known as intrusive thoughts that interrupts your daily life which are a sign of postpartum anxiety and OCD.
  4. Numbness- Here I go again, I cant feel anything but just emptiness. You are going through the motions but yet you are not feeling it inside. You feel disconnected from everyone.  You couldn’t care less about things and you don’t want to mention this to your doctor.
  5. Insomnia-  Ahh…the little one is fast asleep and they say take a nap but nothing happens. You lay there at night wondering when will I get some sleep. You should be exhausted after one week of taking care of the little one, but still you lay awake at night wondering when will I fall asleep.
  6. Physical symptoms-  My stomach doesn’t feel good again and my head hurts really bad. I begin to panic once again and I feel like I am having a heart attack. You feel aches and pain all over your body and you know that you don’t have a cold or flu.

I was inspired to write this blog on behalf of a fellow colleague Dr. Christina Hibbert who is a psychologist, mother and author of “This is How We Grow.”  Dr Hibbert shared that she was a expert evaluator on a postpartum case for over five years.  The woman is a 23 years old mother who has been sentenced to 40 years without parole for child abuse. How or Why? is this happening?  According to Dr. Hibbert the woman is suffering from postpartum mental illness which included  postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (due to a horrible experience with childbirth),  postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depression and later postpartum psychosis.  The baby at the time was adopted after recovering from injuries and the 23 year old woman parental rights was severed.  The woman also had an emergency hysterectomy during childbirth so she was childless.  During her trial she was not evaluated for mental illness, but this incident was considered a child abuse case and she was the abuser.  The prosecutor of the case sentence her to four back to back 10 years sentencing which total 40 years imprisonment.

Presently in 2014, she served 13 years in the state prison system and through several help by attorneys, advocates and experts that worked pro bono, she received “clemency”  of her current 10 year sentence.  Recently, she had an hearing and after a total of six hours and after drilling Dr. Hibbert and other expert witness her clemency was denied.

Postpartum psychosis is a very real issue “that affects 1-2 of every 1,000 births in which  the mother becomes detached from rational thinking” (Hibbert, 2014). The symptoms of postpartum psychosis includes the following:

  • Delusion or strange beliefs
  • Hallucination
  • Feeling very irritated
  • Hyperactivity
  • Decreased need for or  inability to sleep
  • Paranoia and suspiciousness
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Difficulty communicating at times

It is important to know that there is help out there and the sooner someone gets the help the better life will become for you.  If you know of anyone that may be suffering from this illness, please encourage them to speak to a professional.

 

References:

Hibbert, C. (2014). Postpartum psychosis + Mental Health Stigma = 40 years in prison: Its time to speak up! Retrieved from http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/blog/

Postpartum Psychosis. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.postpartum.net/Get-the-Facts/Postpartum-Psychosis.aspx