the healing journey counseling fl

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


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Your Body on Anxiety

Our Daily Lives

Our lives matter and each day it becomes difficult to grasp our daily struggle. Our silence may be taken for-granted, but know that you are not alone.  Anxiety takes a toll on our body which seriously affects our health.  Let’s take some time to recognize what happens to our body when we are anxious.

When you first encounter anxiety:

  1. Throat- This becomes dry and the throat muscles tightens.
  2. Liver- There is a spike in your blood sugar levels that can be reabsorbed in the body.
  3. Skin reactions-  Our blood flow increases which causes some people to become more paler while others may be flush.
  4. Active Spleen- Your spleen discharges more red and white blood cells.
  5. Tense Muscles- Muscle immediately seize as a reflex action.

Long-term Anxiety

When you are dealing with anxiety for awhile it can affect the following:

  1. Heart- cardiovascular issues.
  2. Lungs- Weaker respiratory functions
  3. Brain- overworked nervous system and problems falling asleep.
  4. Immune system- Weakened immune system.
  5. Stomach and Digestive tract-  Digestion issues and changes in the metabolism.

Managing Anxiety

  1. Take some time for yourself- listen to music, journal, go for a walk, yoga, exercise, color, paint or learn an relaxation technique(My favorite go to is Meditation)
  2. Eat well-balanced meals- Do not skip  meals
  3. Limit alcohol and caffeine- Alcohol and caffeine can affect anxiety and triggers panic attacks. (Drink lots of water)
  4. Exercise daily- Exercising makes you feel good and overall it helps to release stress.
  5. Slowly count to 10
  6. Accept that you cant control everything.
  7. Volunteer and give back to your community.
  8. Get enough sleep- at least 8 hours per night.
  9. Be gentle with yourself
  10. Maintain a good attitude regardless of the situation.
  11. Learn what triggers your anxiety- work, family, school etc.
  12. Talk to someone

Links for mobile apps for anxiety: https://adaa.org/finding-help/mobile-apps

 

 

References:

American Psychological Association, The New York Times Health Guide. University of Maryland Medical Center, National Institute of Health, Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved on 9/21/17 from https://adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress

 

 

 

 

 

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Healing the Inner Child

When you look back at your childhood, we may notice that we got hurt very easily. It may be hearing mom shouting all the time or our father giving us the stern look. As children, we find that it is not easy to express yourself, but we try and try. At times, we find that adults don’t listen, too busy and interrupt us every time. Its time for us to listen to our children and respond directly to them. It may also be time for us to listen to our own inner child, that have been neglected for sometime. We must come back and comfort, love and care for the child within us.

Listening to your Inner Child

We must go back and take care of the child in our past that has been wounded. Embrace him or her and be gentle with ourselves. It takes a lot of courage to face the hurt inside of us and it okay to give yourselves permission to heal that child right now. The tears may come and that is fine as well. Let it flow and embrace that child. There are so many people who are suffering because they have buried those emotions for decades. But, if we continue to practice being more aware of that wounded child, comfort him or her so that we can see more peace and mover forward.

Talking to you Inner Child

Yes, this may sound unrealistic; however, your inner child influence you in a mighty way. The inner child has become an adult who has come from a very difficult life. Thich Nhat Hanh suggested that “if we have the tendency to go back to the past and live the painful memories of the past, we have to be aware that we and our inner child are going back to the past to live that experience again, that fear, and that desire'” (Hanh, p.71). This will become a regular habit which hinder us to move forward.

Reference

Hanh, Thich N. (2010). Reconciliation~ healing the inner child. Parallax Press. Berkeley, California 94707.


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June is Post- Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month

Each year we recognize PTSD in the month of June and as we enter a new month, I would like to focus on understanding PTSD.

The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs provides a definition of PTSD  that occurs “when a person experience a traumatic event such as combat, assault or disaster which most people have some stress reactions after trauma that lingers for some time” (U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, 2015).  There are several types of trauma that includes war, terrorism,violence and abuse and disasters.

Effects of PTSD and the Family

It can be very difficult to live with someone who has been diagnosed with PTSD and often your daily life is disrupted  by nightmares, avoiding crowds, and  difficulty driving. The children at times have a lot of trouble in schools and PTSD affects the relationship with their spouse, family members and friends. There is also a list of common reactions of family members of a person with PTSD that includes sympathy, negative feelings, avoidance, depression, anger and guilt, variety of health problems.

At times family members neglect themselves and spend a lot of time taking care of their loved ones with PTSD which is a set up for failure.  It is important to seek help and surround yourself with others who understand what you are going through.

What can providers do to support family members?

Family members often neglect themselves and are confused about what to do when they find out that their loved one has PTSD.  As a clinician, we must educate the family members and let them learn more about trauma and its effects. It will take some time to learn about PTSD which can be overwhelming, but if you are not aware of what PTSD is and its effects then you will be lost. It also takes a lot of patience to help someone who is affected by PTSD and in time they will heal.  There also various classes that are offered to help the family which includes stress and anger management, addiction, couples communication or parenting (Carlson,E & Ruzek, J,2014).

Help to spread the awareness of PTSD by printing this PDF flyer: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/about/ptsd-awareness/RaisePTSD_Awareness.pdf

Follow this link for a About Face PTSD videos on Youtube: 

Follow this link provided by the Defense Centers for Excellence – PTSD Fact Sheet. http://www.dcoe.mil/Libraries/Documents/DCoE_PTSDFactSheet_20140410.pdf

References

Carlson,E.B (PhD), & Ruzek, J.(PhD). (2014) PTSD and The Family. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treatment/family/ptsd-and-the-family.asp

Defense Centers of Excellence. (2015) PTSD Treatment Options.  Retrieved from http://www.dcoe.mil/PsychologicalHealth/PTSD_Treatment_Options.aspx

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.(2015). Promotional Materials and Tips to Raise Awareness. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/about/ptsd-awareness/promo_materials_awareness.asp


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Review of Tokens of Affection:Reclaiming your Marriage after Postpartum Depression

Tokens of Affection Amazing contribution by Karen Kleiman and Amy Wenzel who wrote “Tokens of Affection: Reclaiming Your Marriage after Postpartum Depression”. As a clinician, I am particularly impressed with the emphasis on giving one partner permission to use the tokens of affection to work on their marriage, even if one partner is not ready. We mostly see women in therapy who benefit from the skills mentioned in this book, but it will enlighten their perspective on their marriage. It is so important to note that the author addressed the fact that working on your marriage is not easy, but there is hope and with the right support and commitment your marriage will be much better. The tokens mentioned in the book included Esteem, Compromise, Selflessness, Sanctuary, Expression, Tolerance and Loyalty which provides guidance for couples to work on forgiveness, resentment and frustrations. As couples, we must be gentle with ourselves and each other. Each person’s perspective will mislead us into a turmoil of frustrations. We all have a choice to be mindful of our thoughts and behaviors. We must protect ourselves and our significant others. The ripple effect of life and the unknown circumstances that creeps up on our lives are never-ending. However, we must adapt to the changes that comes our way. I would definitely recommend this book for couples who are simply recovering from the aftermath of postpartum depression and need to reconnect their relationship. Annmarie Wilson L.P.C-IT https://thehealingjourneycounselingfl.com/


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5 Lessons as a Military Spouse

I was inspired to write about my own lessons learned while being a military spouse. The following 5 lessons can be helpful for others to be aware of what really goes on in a military life.

  1.  Be careful of what you say about a military spouse and never underestimate them.

(a) We may never have a stable career, but over the years I have volunteered, assistant teacher and counseled others. My main job is a stay-at-home mom with 3 children 2 boys ages 20, 16 and 13-year-old daughter who has downsyndrome. During the first couple of years of marriage, we have been separated three occasions which is a rare for those familiar with the military.

After we relocated overseas, I actively participated in spouse clubs et. My family always come first and I did everything by myself. If you saw me in action, you will be amazed so don’t judge someone for what you see on the outside, you will run the risk of never learning about their inner character and strength.

  1. Things are still the same

(a) Deployments haven’t changed for a very long time and it’s still a short notice, long and frequent. The time spent away from your loved one is very painful and lonely. I realized that I had to take on 2 roles of a mother and father and we missed our wedding anniversary which was not spent by myself, but with family. Being a mom is a very important job, but when you are raising your military children through a war this is challenging. Overseas assignments reminded me of the absence of family such as your parents who missed the growth and celebration of their grandchildren.

  1. Acceptance you didn’t marry a banker.

(a) Let’s be clear, when we said “I Do” that also took into account the to roll with the punches regardless of what career move my husband had. I would support him and at time he would work long hours or several weeks at a time which meant that he would miss school activities, sports etc. But he deserved a pass and its unfair to blame him due to the frequent moves every 3 years or so. We are almost near our retirement so until then, i will just let it flow.

  1. Expect the unexpected

(a) Oh yes, we do have a number of unexpected events, but there are sacrifices that come with the life of a military spouse. One thing that I have done when we relocate from one place to another is to plug into the community and reach out for some encouragement as I face these challenges. I also plug into a group of other military spouse who are family and we support each other. With that said, there may be some drama, but when women are together what else do you expect. Just make the best of it and move on.

  1. Make the best of life

(a) Life is what you make of it and with that it helps to keep your attitude in check. Life is an adventure, never a dull moment, but it is worth it. The life of a military is challenging, but we travel to various places around the world and we meet people who enrich our lives. Take full advantage of your life because no one is promised tomorrow. So surprise a military spouse the next time that you see her/him.


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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