Category: Mental Health

A Trauma Focused Approach for Care Takers

Traumatic events are one of those things that can feel more like a tsunami in your life, followed by less intense tidal waves. For those who experience trauma, particularly young people, even though the event is over, the impact never goes away in the form of unwanted memories, nightmares, constant triggers like sounds, difficulty trusting, and so forth, causing those waves to come back without warning and control.  Survivors of trauma struggle to cope with their internal process and external circumstances the best way they can. Survivors often express mixed feeling about dealing with trauma, even if they’re fully aware its impact on their lives. They may avoid revisiting their pasts or other potential therapy out of fear of experiencing distress again. Education plays an important role in understanding the experience and by developing your coping tools and learning to regulate the experience from within you can regain control again.

As supporters of young people who have experienced trauma its important to acknowledge their feelings and experiences even if you disagree. Remember, trauma is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation and how they deal with it often originate from a need to survive.  To better connect with those in that constant state of chaos let’s start shifting our approach from, “What is wrong with you?” to, “What has happened to you?” or What has worked for you?” or by taking a closer look at what you can do differently to bring about a sense of calm again.

For a free handout on the signs of trauma and coping with a traumatic event see here.

A History of Compassion Today

Is a mBlack Historyonth ever enough to celebrate the contributions of African Americans to our American experience? As we pause to reflect on those who have forged a way forward in liberty, justice and compassion, let us also examine how we can be informed and inspired today. Black history month signals an invitation to remember, act with purpose and re-engage with compassion.

Compassion is an emotion that comes from a place of concern for others. It’s a sense of shared suffering and with a deep desire to go out of our way to alleviate or reduce that suffering in others. As we interact with diverse communities, we have to be aware of the realities that these communities face. Many Black people feel that there are not tresilenceated fairly in our country, particularly by law enforcement, in hiring practices, immigration policies, higher education and mental health systems. Compassion is coming from a place that the injustice of one impacts all people. We can do our part to change larger injustices but cultivating compassion in our families, our workplace, our schools, our institutions, and simply within ourselves.

Compassion can help you feel happier as you work to do things that promote happiness in others. Contribute is a distress tolerance skill we often teach in therapy because doing for others when you are depressed has a favorable impact on you and the person you did something for. Compassion has been found in scientific studies to increase DHEA hormone which counteracts the aging process, by counteracting the stress inducing hormone cortisol. Overall, those who have a positive connection to others are healthier and found to be more resilient to illness. That makes compassion beneficial to your physical and mental wellbeing.

The key to developing compassion in your life is to make it a daily practice.

3 Compassion Practices

  1. Create a morning routine. Start your day bringing awareness to you. Notice your body in bed, take a few deep breaths, slip into your prayers or maybe a morning affirmation like this one: I am loving and compassionate to myself and others or today, I abandon old habits and take up new, more positive ones or “today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can,” the Dali Lama.
  2. Read carefully. Expand your library and invest in books that nurture your social conscience. Books that will facilitate conversations about relationships, the human struggle and empathy. Books like Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; Crossing the Wire; Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria; The Emperor Has No Clothes; and Wonder. It’ll give you a chance to consider things from a new perspective.
  3. Seek opportunities for awesomeness. What can you actually do to ease suffering? Volunteer at a local nursing home, put on a free workshop at a local library using your gifts or trade, pay for someone’s meal, donate to a charity, send flowers to a friend, bring your assistant coffee, pass along a book you’ve read, research other ways to lend a hand, invite someone to lunch and practice these tiny acts regularly, even daily.

 

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

Labels Lie

Labels lie. It’s one of my favorite posters in my office that I took off the walls of my graduate school over 10 years ago (after the promotion was over off course). I love it because it’s a reminder that while labels give us a general description of what’s happening, it doesn’t always tell us the whole story, yet we like to judge by a tag.

If you suffer from mental illness it doesn’t mean you are #crazy, broken or less than, those are lies. The truth is there is a wide spectrum of emotional distress ranging from appropriate sadness caused by a traumatic event to psychosis. Mental health is parallel to physical health, and just like your body can break down, so can your mind. It might sound like “this is hard”, “I don’t feel well”, “I can’t”, “I’m tired”, “It’s my fault”, “I can’t focus” or “leave me alone”. It can look like over sleeping, thoughts of dying, excessive thoughts, extreme happiness, heart conditions, GI distress, painful memories and more. 1 in 5 Americans have had some sort of mental health experience.  African American’s in particular are struggling with mental health issues (like high rates of depression for women), yet are less likely than other groups to even acknowledge that mental health is a serious problem.  We are human and have to deal with this thing called life and we aren’t always equipped for it. Without good mental health we are mentally broke. 

Think about it- if I had asthma and couldn’t breathe, would you say something was wrong with me if I couldn’t get air into my lungs? It doesn’t matter if you tell me to try harder or look at me funny, if my lungs will not cooperate, it is beyond my control and I will not be able to breathe. At a certain point I have to get help.  I would need to know strategies to breath to maximize oxygen to my lungs and I may have to puff on that pump so that I can live. Stop believing your mental health is any different and get help for what you CAN learn to change. Educate yourself, choose to speak your truth, don’t live in shame, be compassionate to yourself and others, and remember your words have the power to build barriers or open doors.

It’s OK to get help. Numbers to add to your phone:

  • Call NYC Well Today for 24/7 mental health support right in NY: Suicide prevention and crisis counseling, mobile crisis, short-term counseling, and assistance accessing other mental health services. 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355), Press 2 or text
  • Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R: For therapy, advice and referrals to local programs for adults and children: 347-868-7813

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R

#therapyisdope #skillstonavigatelife

 

Labels lie

A Trauma Focused Approach for Care Takers

Traumatic events are one of those things that can feel more like a tsunami in your life, followed by less intense tidal waves. …

Is Positive Thinking Still Relevant?

Absolutely! Through our life we receive messages from everyone, family, work, the media and somewhere we decide what they …