Stress Management

Just about everyone has been stressed out at some point in their life.  Stress can have both positive and negative side effects on your body.  Some of the common responses to stress are listed below. Think about how stress affects you.

Aches and Pains*

  • Headache
  • Backache
  • Neck ache
  • Stomach ache
  • Tight muscles
  • Clenched jaw

Energy Level and Sleep*

  • Feeling tired without a good reason
  • Trouble sleeping

Feelings

  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Helplessness
  • Out of control
  • Tense

Other Emotional Signs

  • Easily irritated
  • Impatient
  • Forgetful

*Some physical signs of stress may be caused by a medical condition or by medicines you take. If you aren’t sure what’s causing your physical symptoms, ask your doctor if stress might be the cause.

How Do You Respond?

When you are under stress, do any of these behaviors apply to you?

  • I eat to calm down.
  • I speak and eat very fast.
  • I drink alcohol or smoke to calm down.
  • I rush around but do not get much done.
  • I work too much.
  • I delay doing the things I need to do.
  • I sleep too little, too much or both.
  • I slow down.
  • I try to do too many things at once.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about stress.

What’s the link between chronic stress and heart disease?  Stress sets off a chain of events. First, you have a stressful situation that’s usually upsetting but not harmful. The body reacts to it by releasing a hormone, adrenaline, that temporarily causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. These physical reactions prepare you to deal with the situation by confronting it or by running away from it — the “fight or flight” response. When stress is constant (chronic), your body remains in high gear off and on for days or weeks at a time. The link between chronic or extreme stress and heart disease is not clear.

Does chronic stress cause high blood pressure?  Chronic stress has not been shown to directly cause high blood pressure, but it can lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices that are associated with high blood pressure. While the exact causes of high blood pressure are unknown, contributing factors include being overweight, eating too much sodium (salt), lack of physical activity and drinking too much alcohol. Chronic stress can take a physical toll on you. It can weaken your immune system and cause uncomfortable physical symptoms like headache and stomach problems.

Can medicines help me lower my stress level?  Medicines are helpful for many things, but usually not for stress. Some people take tranquilizers to calm them down immediately, but it’s far better in the long term to learn to manage your stress through relaxation or stress management techniques. Be careful not to confuse stress with anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety, speak with your doctor a treatment or management plan including whether you need medication.

How do I know if I need a stress management class?  Stress management classes can help you learn to handle your stress, especially if you have a “Type A” personality (constantly rushing, angry, hostile or competitive) or if your stress is nonstop. Stress management classes can be found at community colleges, rehab programs, in hospitals or by calling a therapist in your community. Classes normally last for 10 to 12 weeks and offer many techniques to help you.

Here are some tips that can help with the stress:

  1. Meditate.  This can also help anxiety and depression.
  2. Breathe deeply.  Close your eyes, sit up straight and focus on nothing but breathing deeply.
  3. Reach out.  In your time of need your close friends and family may be able to help you.
  4. Exercise.
  5. Laugh.
  6. Listen to music.
  7. Be grateful.
  8. Accept that you can’t control everything.
  9. Stay Positive.
  10. Do something fun.

If you or someone you know is dealing with stress and these tips do not help please seek professional help.  You can email me at darlacarmoneyllpc@gmail.com for an appointment.

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Surviving the Holidays

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!!!

We all know that the upcoming holiday season can mean shopping, parties, and lots of stress, frustration, temper outbursts, but it can be so much more if you are already dealing with a mental illness such as anxiety, depression, bipolar, PTSD, Autism, or more.

If you have a mental  illness you are already close to the brink, and the additional stress of the holidays can actually cause you to go over and crash and burn.  But there

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 are things you can do to prepare for the upcoming holidays.  I am going to give you some tips, but remember if you feel overly stressed please seek professional treatment.  Most patients cancel their counseling appointments because of other priorities, but I am asking you to make your mental health a priority in 2017.

 

  1. Self-Care:  If you are at a party and starting to feel off a little, excuse yourself and take a walk, do some deep breathing, go outside (with your coat).  
  2. Don’t forget to laugh and enjoy your family and friends.
  3. Keep to your routines: sleeping, regular meals, medication, appointments (counseling and medical), and find a support group for the additional support during this busy time of year.  Don’t forget your medications and don’t ignore the warning signs.
  4. Know that whatever you are feeling is right for you, but try not to let other people hurt you by their words.
  5. Talk to your family and friends about setting specific timings for family traditions: baking cookies, decorating the house, opening presents, etc.
  6. Make sure you set realistic goals and be flexible.  You may have emergencies come up and you need to roll with the punches.  Make lists of what needs to be done by specific dates and work on them each day until you are done with the list.
  7. Know your limits.  Make sure you don’t plan going to doctors and shopping and wrapping all in one day.  
  8. Don’t overschedule yourself or your family.
  9. Skip holiday toasts.
  10. Ask for help with holiday errands.  Do you have older children that can drive and shop?  Ask them to go to the store and get the things on your list.  Delegate cleaning chores, remember you don’t have to do everything yourself.

If you or someone you know is dealing with a mental illness or grief around this time of year be supportive and check in with them about if they need anything.  Seek professional help if more interventions are needed.  For further information please email me at darlacarmoneyllpc@gmail.com.

Diabetes Awareness Month

Since the last time I posted this, my T1D (Type 1 Diabetic) has turned 19 (almost 20) and she recently got married in July.  She still struggles with her diabetes, and as she is about to start thinking about starting a family I am concerned for not only her health but the baby’s health.  To think it has been 2 years since I originally posted this in response to an ad dealing with a soft drink.

Since November is Diabetes Awareness Month, so I am going to re-post about my life as the mother of a type I diabetic and help provide education so people can learn the difference between type I and type II.

I am a mother of a Type I Diabetic and the daughter of a Type II Diabetic and for the past seven years I have seen my daughter go from diagnosis to multiple hospital admissions for Diabetic Ketoacidosis, which includes high sugars and ketones to the point her body is acidosis. There are two types of diabetes: Type I is usually juvenile and insulin dependent and Type II is usually adult and non-insulin dependent but could lead to being on insulin.

Type I is where the pancreas quits working and because of this they need insulin injections in order to survive. The body does not PRODUCE insulin, which is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy.

Type II is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal, most common form of diabetes and your body does not USE insulin properly.

Symptoms – Urinating often; feeling thirsty; feeling hungry; extreme fatigue; blurry vision; cuts and bruises not healing or slow to heal; weight loss (type 1); tingling, pain, and numbness in hands and feet (type 2).

My daughter did not get diabetes because I let her eat sugar, or drink pop or because of immunizations. Her pancreas quit working and it can be genetic. Since her diagnosis we have found out that, she has numerous aunts and uncles and cousins that are diabetic.

I have a beautiful type 1 diabetic that fights daily for her life, anything can cause her blood glucose to go dangerously high or even low and when it is low we have to give her COKE or PEPSI (to save her life) and when it is high we have to give her extra insulin. She was 10 when she was diagnosed and it was the roughest day of our lives so far, but during the past 7 (almost 10) years there have been numerous hospital stays, doctor appointments, glucose checks (4-8/day), injections (@ least 4/day), tears, laughter and hugs, there are days that she wants to just quit diabetes and days and nights that I wish I could take it from her, but we can’t…she FIGHTS DAILY…

She wasn’t overweight at diagnosis, didn’t drink a lot of pop or eat a lot of sugar, but her pancreas quit working as well, diabetes is an autoimmune disease and because of that she has to supplement insulin injections to live. The only reason I am posting is because education is a way to help ignorance and I want to educate people on my lovely daughter. I also have a wonderful type 2 diabetic mom, that was diagnosed about 10-15 years ago, a lot of her diagnosis is age, health, weight, eating and exercise habits.

Yes there is new research daily, but that is not always accurate for every diabetic whether it is type 1 or type 2…personally I would like to see type NONE…the only cure for my daughter is a pancreas transplant and that is not really a cure it is another option just like insulin…you may agree or disagree don’t really care, I am a mad momma and daughter and trying to explain my reality and a lot of parents reality…we get up in the morning wondering if our t1d will wake up, check their levels, give their insulin, check ketones (if bg is high), we do this at every meal or snack including physical activity…then we check again before they go to bed and some even check in the middle of the night or have our t1d sleep with us so we can check them ourselves while we try to sleep some…a lot of us have other children that can feel neglected or left out because we focus on this illness…

We go to work wondering about our children and hoping that they are okay at school, and even have fights or arguments with the schools when our kids are being mistreated or struggling to keep their levels adjusted and what happens if the child goes into DKA while at school, was told it was the parents responsibility to transport, not this momma made the ambulance take her because they were more equipped to handle her symptoms.

Our diabetics need care, compassion, understanding and assistance at times, not ridicule, blame, or jokes in bad taste aimed at them. I know that there have been some diabetics pass away due to the disease and we as parents try our hardest everyday to keep our children alive and well. Sometimes diabetics can get depressed, angry, and want to blame someone else and not do what they need to in order to live, we as parents, family, friends have to be there for them and help them find professional help if needed.

Yes, in Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with diet, exercise, and medication. Type 2 usually is related to weight and health, but not always. Type 1 cannot be controlled by diet and exercise. The children and adults with type 1 have little to no function in their pancreas, which is the organ that produces the insulin your body needs to properly use the nutrients from your food. Exercise, diet, and insulin injections and/or insulin pumps keep our children (adults) alive and healthy.

I know from personal experience as many parents to see their children in the ICU with numerous IVs in their arms and oxygen on and not being able to give them food or drink when they are hungry because that would make them sicker. I know how it is to have to hold a child as they are getting the IV in their arms and when they first learn of their diagnosis. I know how it is to fight with a teenager when they decide they do not want to do their insulin or eat correctly because they want to just have fun like their friends. I know how it is to wake up to find my child passed out in the middle of the floor, because her sugar level was 33 and you had to run and get the emergency insulin and call 911 to just wake her up and have her cry for you because she does not see you. I know how it feels to look at your child and your mother’s instincts tell you that she is either too low because she is falling asleep or she is too high because of her attitude. A lot of the parents with diabetic children know these things and I believe that we deserve respect and not false truths. I am not doing this to give Cross-fit more free press, but to provide education to those that want to confuse the two…UNTIL THERE IS A CURE AND A TYPE NONE, I WILL CONTINUE TO STAND BESIDE MY BEAUTIFUL TYPE 1 DIABETIC DAUGHTER AND DEFEND HER NO MATTER WHAT…

If you are depressed, angry, and have health issues, please seek professional help. I am always available for new clients. Until next time — BE WELL…

For more information please email me at darlacarmoneyllpc@gmail.com.

How to Create a Trigger Record

I thought this was a wonderful article and could see how beneficial it would be to my clients.

TRAUMA RESEARCH and TREATMENT

The folllowing content was found at afterdeployment.org.

Trigger Records can help you recognize what situations are triggering you.  Recognizing what is triggering you:

Helps you regain a sense of control.

Helps you realize when you truly are not in danger.

Helps you prepare when you know you’re going to face a trigger.

For example, let’s say you are at a friend’s barbecue when a small child starts to cry. Your heart starts racing and you begin feeling afraid and irritable. You make up some excuse and go home.  Back home, you feel safer and less afraid, but isolated, alone, and sad that you left the party.  Using the Trigger Record guides you to understand that the smell of barbecue and the crying child were triggers—they reminded you of a traumatic experience you had in the war zone. You are now aware of the link between your war zone experiences and…

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Grief: Coping Strategies

This post is about how to deal with grief.  I will list what I do personally and what I had my grief support do during my internship.  I personally do the journaling because it is an outlet that I can take with me and I don’t have to share my thoughts or feelings with anyone.  I also draw or read while listening to my favorite music.  When I am really thinking about those that I have lost, I will look at pictures of them and remember the fun times that we had.  Yes I will cry, but tears can be healing.

Coping Strategies

  • Join a support group
  • Journaling
    • A way of expressing your feelings about certain subjects
    • How can you use a journal
      • Writing poetry
      • As a diary
      • Drawing
      • As a letter to the person you lost or for closure depending on the loss.
    • Tips for journaling
      • Keep it simple
      • Keep it private
      • Do it frequently
      • Banish the grammar police
      • Write what you know
      • Find the best time and place
      • Write for quantity, not quality
      • Try writing by hand
      • Keep the stakes low
      • Enjoy yourself
    • Some reasons to keep a journal
      • It brings me clarity.
      • I can weigh the pros and cons without hearing anyone else give their two-cent opinion.
      • It helps me focus.
      • For accountability.
      • It’s a safe place for all my innermost desires.
      • I can yell in my journal and no one will hear me raise my voice.
      • It increases my self-awareness.
      • It reduces stress.
      • It quiets my monkey mind.
      • I can track my own progress.
      • It becomes great source material for articles, programs, Eclasses, etc.
      • It’s a convenient storage location for thoughts, quotes and inspirational messages.
      • For to-do lists.
      • For done lists (I LOVE my done lists!)
      • For achievements.
      • A place to work through my struggles.
      • A place to freely complain and then release.
      • A safe place to face my fears and deal with them head-on.
      • Questions for the universe when I don’t have any answers.
      • It’s my own self-learning guide.
      • It gives me a peace of mind.
      • It’s a dream catcher.
      • It’s a vision illuminator.
      • For answers from the universe when I’m quiet enough to hear my “inner knower”.
      • It’s an idea incubator.
      • It is a judgment-free zone.
  • Other ways of coping
    • Acknowledge the loss.
      • Time alone does not heal.  It is what people do over time that matters.  To facilitate healing, people need to be able to acknowledge their loss, express their feelings, and feel a sense of connection with the person who has died as well as to those in their support group who are still living.
    • Express and share feelings.
      • The period following a loss is very sad and vulnerable time for people who are grieving.  Yet many people coping with grief have expressed that even though it can be painful at times, they also find it comforting to have opportunities to express and share their feelings in a safe and nurturing environment.  This connection provides a source of comfort and strength, thereby creating a foundation for healing to begin.
    • Encourage sharing and offering to listen.
      • We sometimes feel that tears or other expressions of feelings are signs of weakness or a reflection that we are not handling things well.  However, these expressions are a normal and healthy response to loss.  Friends and family can help by being supportive listeners and by encouraging survivors, when they feel ready, to share these heartfelt emotions.
    • Allow for differences in the needs of grieving people.
      • There is no designated timeline for how long the grieving process should last.  There are no “shoulds” with grieving.  It is important that people process and work through their grief in a way that feels comfortable to them.
    • Share memories of loved ones to help in healing.
      • Healing comes not from forgetting, but from remembering those who have died and the special time that were shared.  One way to do this is by creating a special ritual of remembrance, such as candle lighting, to honor and remember loved ones.  Lighting the candle during times of personal reflection or at gatherings with family and friends can help to create a sense of peace and keep the memories of loved ones alive in our hearts.
    • Using spirituality and religion
    • Remembering cultural considerations
  • Make a MEMORY BOX?
    • A memory box (or keepsake box) can mean different things to different people, but essentially it is a place to store your special keepsakes.
    • Most of us are in the habit of keeping memories. They might be photos, special letters we’ve received or mementos of places we’ve visited. As parents we are always collecting keepsakes of our children, whether it’s baby clothes, favourite toys, artwork and so on. No matter what we keep they are all something special to treasure and help us remember moments in time. And as your children grow into adults these treasured items can bring many warm recollections of their childhood past, and something to share with their own children.
    • Memory boxes don’t have to be hard work. For some it is as simple as choosing a box and adding keepsakes regularly. Others may choose to keep separate memory boxes based on themes, like newborn baby, school, birthdays and Christmas.
    • Keeping memory boxes can also help you organize your keepsakes so they don’t get lost in the clutter, making it easier to find items when you wish to share them in the future.
    • Keeping memories is easy. Simply choose a memory box and start filling it today so you can keep your memories safe.

For more information please email me at darlacarmoneyllpc@gmail.com.

Types and Myths about Grief

In my last blog, I posted about grief, mourning, and bereavement and briefly mentioned the stages of grief.  This blog is about the types of grief and the common myths and misconceptions concerning grief.

Types of Grief

There are several types of grief and they do include the following:

  • Normal Grief refers to the “normal” or typical reactions to loss in individuals at different stages of development.  Normal grief includes the following: Sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, loneliness, fatigue, helplessness, numbness, shock, and even relief (in cases such as the prolonged illness of a loved one or the end of a conflicted relationship) are all feelings that are normal and expectable following a significant loss. Tightness in the chest or throat, lack of energy, and stomach distress are physical (or somatic) sensations that are common in response to loss. Confusion, inability to concentrate or remember details, and auditory or visual experiences that mimic hallucinations – such as seeing an image of the deceased person or hearing their voice – are not uncommon in the weeks or months following loss.Sleep disturbance, loss of appetite, and restlessness are also very common reactions.
  • Cathexis refers to the process of attaching emotionally and is crucial to healthy development since it is through attachments with others that the infant learns to trust and basic needs (food, protection, and love) will be met.
  • Decathexis refers to the process of letting go of an attachment as an adaptive response to loss of a significant “object” (person).
  • Complicated grief or complicated mourning is the difficulty coping with the loss and have prolonged distress long after the loss has occurred.
    • Occurs even when environmental or social support has been strong.
    • It is important to be attuned to this reaction, because counseling may help the grieving individual or family to work through the painful feelings of loss.
    • Four tasks of the mourning process
      • Acceptance of the loss.
      • Experiencing the pain of grief.
      • Adjusting to the new environment without the deceased.
      • Relocating and memorializing the loved one.
    • Delayed grief occurs when a loss is insufficiently mourned, because the loss is not acknowledged or the grief is not supported by others.
    • Masked grief occurs when grief is absent immediately after a loss but appears later in the form of a medical or psychiatric problem.
    • Exaggerated grief occurs when a normal grief reaction, such as depressed mood or anxiousness, goes beyond the normal grief to a clinical level of depression or anxiety.
    • Chronic grief is when the mourner is struck, sometimes for many years, in the grief process.
    • Disenfranchised losses are losses accompanied by stigma resulting in loss of support or acknowledgement for grieving survivors.
    • Anticipatory grief refers to the reactions of people who are dying.
      • Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (1997) made major contributions to our understanding of the reactions of dying patients.  She proposed five stages that they go through.
        • Denial
        • Bargaining
        • Anger
        • Sadness
        • Acceptance

 

Myths and Misconceptions of Grief

  • The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
  • It’s important to be “be strong” in the face of loss.
  • If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.
  • Grief should last about a year.
  • Moving on with your life means you’re forgetting the one you lost.
  • Friends can help by not bringing up the subject.
  • Time heals all wounds
    • Time alone does not heal.  It is what people do over time that matters.  To facilitate healing, people need to be able to acknowledge their loss, express their feelings, and feel a sense of connection with others who care.
  • People find it too painful to talk about their loss.
    • Many people coping with grief have expressed that even though it can be painful at times, they also fine it comforting and healing to have opportunities to express and share their feelings in a safe and nurturing environment.  This connection provides a source of comfort and strength, thereby creating a foundation for healing to begin.
  • Crying indicates that someone is not coping well.
    • We sometimes feel that tears or other expressions of strong emotions are signs of weakness or a reflection that we are not handling things well.  However, these expressions are a normal and healthy response to loss.  Friends and interested others can help by being supportive listeners and by encouraging survivors when they feel ready to share these heartfelt emotions.
  • The grieving process should last about one year.
    • There is no designated timeline for how long the grieving process should last.  There are no absolutes with grieving.  It is important that people process and work through their grief in a way that feels comfortable to them.
  • Quickly putting grieving behind will speed the process of healing.
    • Blocking out or repressing feelings can actually serve as a barrier to healing.  Rushing the grieving process is not effective either.  Others can help by supporting the need to grieve and actively listening to the thoughts and feelings of those who are grieving and sharing memories.

For more information please email me at darlacarmoneyllpc@gmail.com.

Grief:  Introduction to What it is and How to cope with it…

Have you ever lost someone or something?  How did you feel at the time?  Did you get angry, cry, scream, feel guilty for being alive, shame, or just shut down?  Most people think that we can only grieve if someone dies, but this is wrong.  We can grieve if we lose a relationship (divorce or friendship), lose a job, a house or possessions, and an animal.  

During my counseling program I took classes on Grief and Death & Dying so that I could help my clients.  And I even created a Grief Support Group during my internship and that is what I am using for this blog.  Sometimes we confuse grief, mourning, bereavement and I wanted to give you the definitions of these three words so that they can be used in the proper context.  I will cover what grief is, the characteristics of grief, causes, types, and coping strategies.

What is Grief? Mourning? Bereavement?

Grief is the emotional, psychological, and physical reactions to loss, the mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp, sorrow, painful regret or cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.  Mourning is the process of grieving that an individual goes through in adapting to a loss.  Bereavement is described as the state of having experienced a loss through the death of a significant person.

Characteristics of Grief

Some of the characteristics of grief are as follows: somatic (bodily) distress, preoccupation with the image of the deceased, guilt, hostile reactions, loss of patterns of conduct (inability to function as before the loss), and developing traits of the deceased in their own behavior.  Basically, grief include a person’s feelings, physical sensations, cognition, and behaviors.

Every person will deal with grief in their own unique way because of the following: How the bereaved perceives the loss, the age of the bereaved, the age of the person who died, the degree to which the bereaved was prepared for the death, the bereaved’s inner strength and outer resources, and the nature of the relationship with the person who died.

Stages of Grief

These are not in order nor must you just hit it once and you are done with the stage, you can be in each stage multiple times.  Shock and disbelief, developing awareness, restitution, resolving the loss, idealization, and the outcome.

Causes of Grief

There are multiple causes of grief including the following: death; symbolic losses which include: Loss and grief are experienced in reaction to divorce, foster care placement, children leaving home for independent living, unemployment, and changes in health status. Often symbolic losses go unacknowledged by others and therefore the grieving individual does not receive the same kind or amount of support that those grieving a death may receive. Other symbolic losses: Loss of the type of future one imagined for a child if the child is born with, or acquires, a disabling condition; Loss of one’s biological family after adoption; Loss of the family life when divorce occurs; A pet dying; A child starting school for the first time; Going into a nursing home or assisted care facility.

If you or someone you know is dealing with grief seek professional help.  You can email me at darlacarmoneyllpc@gmail.com for more information.