1. Knowledge is power. To tame anxiety the more you know about how your brain works the better. So here’s a little neuro-psychology lesson.
What you need to know is that the older part of our brains, the inner bit in the middle, is called the limbic system. Within that is the amygdala. For our purposes it’s enough to know that scientists believe that everything we need to keep ourselves, and our species, alive originates here. That means drives like the drive to eat, appetite, to have sex, procreate, and fear, to keep us vigilant of danger.
Our frontal lobes are in the newest part of the brain, the neo-cortex. Our ability to judge, to filter out right from wrong, to determine appropriate from inappropriate behavior, real vs. unreal, reasonable vs. unreasonable resides here. It’s the part that keeps us civilized and steady, among other things.
Behavioral scientists theorize that when we are threatened we respond on a primitive, non-thinking level first, because survival is more important than being right or wrong. The amygdala sends the signal that ‘there’s a nasty threat out there!’ to the adrenal glands. Adrenalin is released into the blood, kicking off the autonomic nervous system response, revving up the entire body to either run away, flight, or duke it out, fight, with whatever is about to kill us.
Anxiety occurs when this system goes into overdrive because there is no where for the body to run and nothing for it to fight. The threat is abstract. What’s firing off the system are scary ideas, not a saber-toothed tiger. All that adrenalin and no quick way to metabolize it causes anxiety.
Medical and non-medical treatments for anxiety are all about keeping the amygdala from running amuck and the frontal lobes engaged.
2. Know the Bad News: The bad news is if you have been dealing with anxiety for a long time and you have a family history of people who have anxiety [or depression], chances are you will be dealing with anxiety in some way for the rest of your life.
3. Know the Good News: Anxiety is very treatable. Once you have good treatment that empowers you and you learn skills to manage the anxiety, (and keep your frontal lobes engaged) it can never hurt you so much, ever again. Really!
4. Immediate relief may be as easy as learning to breathe deeply, getting enough good quality sleep, cutting out alcohol and caffeine for a while, and starting an exercise regime. Many patients have reported that just making these healthy changes reduced their anxiety significantly.Read More...
My senior year of college my Dad suggested I go to a therapist. He thought it might help me find some direction. During a hard college career that was interrupted by chronic illness, I changed majors three times, and still wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. So I thought what the heck, I’d give therapy a go.
After a few sessions, Dr. Greenbaum said I was depressed. Well blow me down! I wasn’t sad or crying all the time. How did he figure I was depressed?
He explained that you don’t have to feel sad to be depressed. Sometimes being depressed meant the stark, cold absence of happiness, feeling ‘flat’ or ’empty’. There is a condition called dysthymia that is a sneaky form of depression. Not as imminently dangerous as major depression, dysthymia lasts longer, two years or more, is as serious and sometimes even more debilitating than major depression.
Eight potential signs (lasting longer than two weeks) of any kind of depression are:
- Feeling helpless, hopeless, stuck, “What’s the point?”
- Loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable
- Appetite or weight changes
- Sleep changes. Insomnia or sleeping all the time
- Agitation or feeling slowed down
- Loss of energy, fatigue, easily exhausted
- Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Concentration problems, indecisiveness, lack of focus
Dr. Greenbaum taught me that being diagnosed with a chronic illness hit me harder than I wanted to admit, even to myself. He helped me get my head out of the sand and start living again. You might consider finding a good therapist for yourself.
There was a moment during the interview when one of the King children was talking about a book, and Stephen turned toward his wife and took her hand. He grasped it, tightly, and they both closed their eyes and leaned in toward each other, as if in prayer. Later, when asked about that moment, Stephen could not remember what inspired that moment — maybe nothing at all. “Sometimes I just take her hand,” he said. “We’ve always been close, Tab and me. I love her.”
via The New York Times Magazine Stephen King’s Family Business
My friend Amy Jo Lauber has the most gentle way of inspiring a person.
My summer morning ritual includes taking a walk around the neighborhood. I love moving through the cool early morning air, greeting other early birds out with their dogs or just stretching their legs. After reading her post, Sharing Our Gifts, Passing the Baton and the Link to Abundance, Amy Jo’s ritual sounded so sweet I decided to try it this morning. After my usual walk I took the time to sit down on my patio with my coffee. And was rewarded.
I was sitting very still, breathing, waiting for the Universe to whisper her wisdom to me when a hummingbird flew up. He stared at me for a milli-second and then flew over to my hummingbird feeder, hovered there, sipped up nectar and flew off from where it came.
Doesn’t sound like much but let me explain. I’ve been waiting all summer for the hummingbirds to find my feeder. I’ve researched how to attract them, tried different formula’s of nectar, different feeders and locations for the feeder. The hummingbirds alluded me.
So this little guy appearing like that out of the stillness of the morning made my heart leap with joy! That is reward enough. Perhaps there’s another message from the Universe in this gift. Something about patience, the wisdom of sitting still in a busy, busy world, if you build it they will come… I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that.
For now I thank Amy Jo for sharing her abundance!
Editor’s Note: I am proud to introduce you to Kate Maleski, the latest psychotherapist to join the Explore What’s Next team. Kate, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, describes her ideal client like this: “She’s an adolescent between 11 and 16 years old who is convinced she is not smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough or heard enough. She is someone who most people would see and say ‘Wow! She has it all!’ when in reality she feels empty and alone inside.” Kate works equally well with adults and couples in need of support and guidance. Hear more about Kate in her own words…
Do you ever feel alone or that you are the only one to feel this way? There is no reason for you to suffer. Everyone experiences troubles in their life and I want to help you! My passion is in understanding where you are today and guiding you to where you want to be next.
My name is Kate Keating Maleski and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Recently I moved back to my hometown in Buffalo where I am excited to continue my career in helping individuals, couples and families. Before that, I worked in Cleveland, where I completed my B.A. at John Carroll University and my Masters Degree in Social Work from Case Western Reserve University.
For the last eight years I have worked with survivors of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, people recovering from neglect and domestic violence, individuals experiencing grief or betrayal, anyone who has experienced events that have lead them to feel hopeless.
You may be angry, sad, confused, indifferent, or just “numb.” You may even believe that you will never feel safe and happy again.
But you can and you will. Whatever you bring to me we can work together to find the right solution for you.
I have extensive training, and have supervised clinicians, using a strength based approach and cognitive behavioral therapy. With these therapeutic skills I counsel individuals to cope with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, grief, cutting, abuse and trauma to help them feel whole again. I also provide therapy to couples and families that have trouble communicating where there is a lack of trust. In addition, it has been my pleasure to lead groups for adolescents who have been bullied and/or suffer from low self-esteem, who have those feelings of “I just don’t belong.”
If you are looking for a safe, empathic, non-judgmental place to heal and to explore what’s next I invite you to call me today.
You may call me at 716.880.5689 or email at email@example.com and we’ll schedule your initial consultation!
Editor’s Note: Explore What’s Next continues to grow! As Director I couldn’t be more pleased and proud. In the next few days you will meet the wonderful therapists who make up the Explore What’s Next team. First please meet Nicole. Her recent posts about happiness and mindfulness are quite popular. I can’t wait to hear more from her.
“Life is always moving. Sometimes we fall behind the pace and it can be stressful to catch back up. It’s been my experience that, if you have the right tools, you can get back on track and stay there. But that’s not always easy. Anxiety and depression can be barriers to a happy, healthy life.” ~Nicole Newcomb
As a Mental Health Counselor, LMHC-P, CASAC-T, I specialize in cognitive behavioral and mindfulness therapy. I love working with families, adolescents and young adults who are having trouble navigating life transitions. Individuals may be recovering from the pains in life such as past trauma, family strife and could use some support becoming an independent adult. With a background in substance use counseling I have experience helping people with the recovery process. These days this is not an easy path and can lead to understandable anxieties.
Everyone is recovering from something and could benefit from the support of therapy. As a mental health counselor, I see the prevalence of anxiety and depression and it appears to be ever growing. It can be overwhelming with the increasing pressures of obtaining a college degree, the fast pace of life, the economy and balancing being your own person and figuring out who you want to be for the rest of you life.
With knowledge in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Therapy, I can help you to better cope with life stressors, regain your life balance and move ahead with confidence! If you or someone you know could use some guidance and support when it comes to figuring out what’s next for you,
Give me a call at 716.440.5627, find me on Facebook, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your initial consultation!
Few things harm a relationship more than an affair. Whether the affair is emotional, a ‘one night stand,’ long term or a cyber-affair, the betrayal delivers a life altering blow. Will the injury to the relationship prove fatal?
In my experience as a relationship counselor there are some essential steps a couple must take for there to be any hope the relationship can survive an affair. If done wisely, there is hope the relationship will come through the ordeal stronger than before.
1) End the affair immediately. Kindly, completely, utterly. This has to come first if you are serious about reconciliation. ‘Friendship’ is not an option.
2) Re-commit to the relationship. If either of you aren’t sure about staying together then, for God’s sake, say so! Confusion is OK just don’t let that be an excuse to avoid talking about the reality.
3) Full disclosure. If your partner wants to know the details you owe them the details. Help them understand the reality because believe me, as bad as it is, it isn’t as bad as what your partner is imagining. Sometimes they really don’t want to know. Fine, let them tell you that directly. Don’t assume it.
4) Stop running and face the pain. Avoiding pain is often what led to the affair in the first place. Facing it is terrifying but necessary. Just shut up and listen; take courage and talk.
5) Walk on hot coals. Express your remorse and sincerely say that you will do whatever it takes to re-focus on the relationship. Then do it.
6) Take responsibility. Resist assigning blame. The affair is a symptom of something very wrong in the relationship. Both parties need to dig deep to discover and accept their share of responsibility. If the real issues aren’t addressed nothing has changed.
7) Forgiveness. Everyone involved needs forgiveness in order to heal. Both parties are injured, both parties are grieving, both parties need forgiveness.
A good relationship counselor can help you negotiate these steps, and more, steps that may be unique to your particular situation. This is just the beginning. To fully heal you need…
8) Time. Once injured, trust is like those tiny flowers that manage to live in the harsh environment of the tundra. Protect it, cherish it and with time something that once appeared so vulnerable will turn into something beautiful and incredibly strong with deep, sturdy roots.
Photo courtesy of Robert in Toronto
Come to an inspiring, informative talk about what it’s like to live with chronic illness and what we can do to thrive despite it!
When? This Thursday, July 18th, starting at 7:00 PM and ending promptly at 8:30 PM (because we all need our beauty sleep).
Everyone is welcome! Bring your sense of humor and your wisdom. If you can give me a call to RSVP (716.308.6683) that would be great but if you can’t, well, please come anyway.
We will meet at the Explore What’s Next Offices at 1416 Sweet Home Road, Suite 3 Amherst, NY 14228. Get directions by clicking here! Look for the Explore What’s Next sign right out side the door.
Expect an open discussion where I believe I will learn as much from you as you will from me! To give you a sample of what I look forward to sharing with you, please check out the articles under the EWN blog category Chronic Illness by clicking here.
I look forward to meeting you all!
1416 Sweet Home Road, Suite 3 Amherst, NY 14228
This talk is for you, a friend, a caregiver, anyone touched with illness that won’t go away.
This won’t be a lecture. Instead, I hope to lead a lively, inspiring conversation about how we all can manage to live well emotionally despite the ups and downs of chronic illness.
I will share my story, resources and the Seven Rules that I’ve learned along the way that help me get through.
There will be no charge for this event!
RSVP: Let me know that you plan to be there either by calling me at 716.308.6683 or emailing me at email@example.com by July 16th. I want to be sure I have enough chairs for everybody.
*We are wheelchair accessible!
So I had a relapse of my kidney problem again which means I have to go back on the prednisone which (surprise!) I hate. This knocked me for a loop because I felt fine. I’d gone off the prednisone completely for a month after being on it for over a year. But that’s not what this post is about. It’s actually about how couples solve problems together. My husband and I have been dealing with this medical nonsense for over 25 years. I’m happy to say we’ve actually gotten pretty good at this. I’m hoping you can take advantage of what we’ve learned.
1. When one of us has a problem we need to have the courage to admit we have a problem.
This is not always the case, but when the issue is serious we bat close to 1000. When we keep our problems to ourselves it’s often because ‘there isn’t time to talk’ (Which is A LIE. There’s always time. You just have to behave like you’re boarding the subway when you’re late to work and force yourself on that train!) or we’re just too busy (Same lie.) That’s when we get into trouble. So this step takes thoughtfulness, moxie and guts.
It means saying out loud to our partner: “I need your help.” or “I’m having a problem with this….” or “I just need you to hear this…”
It helps to add how it makes us feel: “…and it makes me feel so damn mad, confused, frustrated, numb.” Take your pick.
Next the partner on the receiving end, having gotten the heads up that ‘there’s a problem’ can exercise their listening skills. (OK. So this step is actually a two-parter.) Being open without agenda or defensiveness is key: “Wow, that just happened? That sucks. Of course you feel mad, confused and frustrated.” And leave it there.
With a period.
This is a HUGE important step to couple problem solving. And regardless of the ridiculously sexist notion that it’s only females who need this ACTIVE LISTENING step, we ALL NEED IT. Men, yes, you need it too. Maybe even you’re even active listening deprived.
We all need to be heard first. Be shown compassion first. Be validated first.
2. Once the initial problem and feeling is acknowledged we place the problem in a space where both of us can walk around it, observe it, study it together.
Too often a couple will place a problem smack between them so that they have little choice but to go at it like battering rams, making the problem fixable only if someone gives in or breaks down in some way. Naturally that makes us defensive.
Do not do this:
“If you would just have the guts to tell your mother to stop dropping by without calling first maybe we’d have some peace around here!”
“It’s not about my mother. You are rude and selfish. She’s just a lonely old lady!”
What a mess. Instead I wish these couples would put the problem out there, in front of them, out from between them. By putting the problem ‘out there’ so that they can both look at it together they quadruple their chances of bonding over finding a workable solution.
The problem isn’t in each other. The problem is that third thing that needs us both to solve, diminish, pulverize it.
“I’m having a really hard time with these unexpected visits from your mother. I feel frustrated. It’s hard to plan our day or have private time for our little family and I miss that. Do you ever feel that way?”
(Resisting the urge to get defensive. With a big sigh…) “Yes but it’s really hard to admit because she’s my mother and she’s lonely.”
“Can we recognize that we have a problem? If we do maybe we can come up with a plan that works better for everybody.”
My husband helped me process my anger and frustration, I helped him process some if his own, and then we could both be partners when it came to deciding on the best treatment plan going forward. Despite feeling pretty rotten at first in the end we felt pretty good.
Now just for the hell of it here is a video that is pretty funny (taken with a dollop of salt and a big dose of humor) mostly because it’s an extreme caricature of Mars/Venus – male/female – type communication.