A Caregiver’s Life: Like Water from a Stone

A few weeks ago I ran into a friend at the barn where I keep Annie, my mare. We hadn’t seen each other in a while so we caught up. I told her about my slow, but good, recovery from  illness and she told me about caring for her ninety-three year old mother who lives in a nursing home. I said I hoped she, my friend, was taking care of herself as well and she responded that all her friends tell her that but she doesn’t see how that’s possible in some situations.

Even when my friend is dead tired, she works outside the home, still visits her mother, plays cards or bingo with her, makes sure she has what she needs, drives her to appointments. My friend says, the interesting thing is, she IS dead tired after work but when she sits with her mom she doesn’t feel tired. Afterwards, she’s tired again, but there, in that moment, she’s fine. NOT caring for her mother would be more stressful. In visiting her she does what she feels she needs to do for them both and from some unknown place, the energy appears.


Snow in March?! 10 Ways to Fight Springtime SAD!

In the Deep North where I live, Spring can be a bitch. There’s really no other word for it. A friend of mine said she heard this on a local radio station: “What is December without the Holidays? It’s March!”

Yes, it’s known that Seasonal Affect Disorder strikes in the late fall/early winter but I believe there’s an SAD II. It occurs with the vernal equinox and the return of Daylight Savings Time when you live above the Mason-Dixon line or anywhere where it’s snowing (for crying out loud) after March 21! I have no proof of this, just strong anecdotal evidence and my own experience which is hard to deny.

Are you…

  • Close to tears when your kids, the organization you volunteer for  or the people you work for ask you to do one more little thing for them?
  • Biting your husband’s head off because he innocently asked what’s for dinner?
  • Waking up stiff and in pain because the cold, wet weather invades your bones?
  • Worrying constantly?
  • Hating on all your friends who are on Caribbean cruises right now?
  • Having trouble remembering to smile?
  • Looking around and see only piles of laundry, where the paint’s chipped and the dust bunnies lurk?
  • Feeling a lot like the Snow White dwarves, Grumpy, Sleepy and Dopey?

Then the sun comes out and the temperature rises above freezing to a searing 40 degrees F/4C!!! Suddenly it’s like that scene from The Wizard of Oz when the wildly saturated technicolor is let loose! Oh the relief! The joy! The ridiculous desire to break into song or dance to anything with a Latin beat!

But it’s just a tease because your iPhone weather app shows five incoming days of little clouds with flakes coming out of them. And once more the blanket of dread descends. I, for one, cannot take this anymore! Neither am I in a position to jump in a plane and head to the Virgin Islands. So what’s a SAD person to do?


A Divorced Parent’s Job Description

Editor’s note: Before I ever met her I was a fan of Dr. Delisle, our guest blogger today. A while ago she sent out a newsletter that included a list of points children wanted their divorced parents to know. It rang so true I kept it on my desk for months and shared it with many of the divorced parents I worked with. When I had the opportunity to meet Dr Delisle I thanked her for the list and asked if she would allow me to republish it here. She graciously agreed. Here is Dr Delisle’s article in it’s entirety. 

Most children prefer to have their parents together, but when parents end their relationship through divorce or separation children must learn how to adjust to growing up between two homes. Parents who make the well-being of their children their first priority pay attention to their children’s needs. One of the children who helped to create this list of do’s and don’ts thought it should be titled “A Parent’s Job Description Following Divorce (If they love their kids).”

• They want both of their parents to be happy. This means that parents must move on and let go of hostility.

• They want their parents to get along with one another.

• They want parents to really listen to them and consider their point of view and preferences.

• They do not want to be exposed to their parents’ arguments, disputes or legal actions.

• They don’t want to be pressured to take sides.

• They don’t want to carry messages between parents or act as spies or peacemakers.

• They want to have the best possible relationship with both parents without interference.

• When spending time with one parent, they want to be able to talk to the other parent by phone, e-mail, text or skype.

• They want their parents to assume the best about one another and act in good faith.

• They want individual time with a parent without a new mate.

• They want to be treated as children and not have to take care of a parent emotionally.

• They do not want either parent to say negative things about one another.

• They want parents to be happy for them when they spend time with the other parent and not feel they are hurting the “away” parent.

• They do not want to be “grilled” about their time with the other parent.

• They want each parent to spend time with them and encourage and praise them.

• They want their parents to be able to attend the same events without tension.

• They want to be able to love both their parents freely.

Dr. Delisle is a seasoned mental health professional who has been in private practice since 1991 in WNY and San Diego. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a busy practice where she specializes in co-parenting counseling, couples and individual therapy. She will be offering a psycho-educational program “Cooperative Parenting” beginning in March 2013. She has graduated thousands of parents from her San Diego course and is eager for parents in our area to learn better ways to cooperate and communicate for the sake of their children during and after divorce.

You may contact Dr Delisle at  716-866-8228.

10 Ways to Find a Good Therapist

2558420993_6a732b1b72 When we want to improve our bodies we pretty much know where to find
help. This time of year the gyms are full and the meeting rooms at
Weight Watchers are packed. But what do we do when we want to improve
our inner selves, our relationships, to find help with depression or

I want to assist you to find the right therapist because making the decision to find help is hard enough. Why should you have to get even more stressed out hunting for the right therapist? I can only imagine it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack. So here are a few tips:

1) Forget the yellow pages. A yellow pages listing is expensive so a lot of good people aren’t there. I’m not. Plus there is no regulation of who can list.

2) Ask a professional you already work with and trust. Your accountant, lawyer, dentist, physician – any professional you have a relationship with who honors your confidentiality is a good resource. These people all run businesses as well as provide services, as do many psychotherapists in private practice. They are well connected in the community and refer to each other all the time.

By the way, when asking anyone for a referral to a mental health therapist you do not have to go into the details of why you’re looking for a someone unless you want to. It’s enough just to say, “I’m having some problems and I’d like to consult a therapist about it. Do you recommend anyone?”

3) Ask friends or family members if they can recommend someone.

4) Use a known therapist as a resource. If you have a friend or a friend’s friend who’s a therapist, ask them. Therapists refer to one another all the time. They will understand that you don’t want to see them (for whatever reason, you don’t have to say) but you want a recommendation from them. In other words, even if it doesn’t feel right going to your sister’s therapist, if your sister really likes her therapist he or she could probably give you a couple of names of good, qualified therapists in the community.

5) Use resources at work. Many places of employment have what’s called an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). These services might be in-house or out-sourced but the purpose of EAPs is to provide emotional support and counseling for employees in complete privacy and as part of the employee’s benefit package. EAPs are often part of the Human Resource department so ask there if your company has an EAP and how to access it. Usually you would see a counselor at the EAP for a set number of sessions (no charge to you) and if you want to continue they will refer to a therapist in the community who will take your insurance.

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