How to Be Optimistic in a Pessimistic World

With the world as uncertain as it is at times, it’s easy to discover that you’re feeling more and more pessimistic about your life. And even if you’re generally an optimistic person, it’s easy to let your friends who are less hopeful drag you down. By changing your environment, your attitude, and your body, you can stay optimistic in a pessimistic world.

Method 1

Changing Your Attitude Download Article

  1. Image titled Elevate Your Self Esteem Step 13
    1
    See the good. Working to see the good in situations can help you feel more optimistic simply because you aren’t focused on the bad. Studies suggest that looking for the good in situations can decrease rates of cancer and mortality and can contribute to better cardiovascular health. When you find yourself focusing on the negative in a situation, try to think of what the opposite reaction would be and focus on that instead.

    • Say, for example, you get into a car accident that totals your car. Don’t focus on the fact that your car is totaled, focus on the fact that you have insurance and can get a replacement![1]
    • Try to contextualize challenges as a chance to learn, rather than seeing them as a setback. You can always learn something good, even from bad situations.[2]
  2. 2
    Spend less time on social media. Spending less time on social media makes it easier not to compare yourself to other people. Feeling jealous of other people can definitely put a damper on your ability to feel optimistic about your own life. On the other hand, limiting the time that you do feel that way can heIp you feel optimistic about your own situation.[3]

    • Studied have shown that spending too much time on sites like Facebook can actually make you feel depressed because you are comparing your daily life to the filtered, curated posts and images of your friends.[4]
  3. 3
    Be grateful. Write down the things you’re grateful for every day.[5] This forces you to think about the good things in your life. It makes it harder to focus on the bad – even if there’s a lot of it – and makes it easier to feel optimistic about the future.[6]

    • There are a lot of big things that are easy to be grateful for – maybe you got promoted at work, or your boss complimented you on your latest project. Being grateful for the little things is harder, but can help increase your optimism, too. So, for example, you might be grateful that it was a sunny day, or that you drank a great cup of coffee that morning.
    • Try repeating “thank you” silently to yourself in the morning right when you wake up to put you in a grateful mindset for the rest of the day.[7]
  4. 4
    Change the way you respond to negative situations.[8] When something bad happens to you, do you tend to blame yourself for it, or do you see how other factors could have contributed? Optimists tend to see bad things that happen to them as the result of other factors – when they lose a tennis match they think it’s because their opponent is great at tennis, not (as a pessimist would) because they’re a terrible tennis player.

    • Next time you find yourself framing a situation in a negative way, try to rework it in your head. Instead of thinking “No one wants to pair up with me in class because they think I’m stupid,” try thinking, “my classmates must not know how much I have to contribute to this project!”
    • This type of thinking refers to your locus of control. Those who have an internal locus believe that they influence events and their outcomes, while those who have an external locus believe things happen to them due to external forces. Those with an internal locus of control tend to feel more optimistic in their daily life.[9]
  5. 5
    Keep trying. Pessimists tend to give up on something very quickly if they don’t succeed right away. Optimists tend to work harder – and longer – at things, even if it’s not immediately clear that they’ll succeed. Another way to think of this is to “fake it til you make it.” Assuming that you will be successful at something one day – and continuing to work toward it – can make you feel a lot more optimistic about the eventual outcome.[10]
  6. 6
    Don’t catastrophize. Pessimists often catastrophize – in other words, they think of the absolute worst-case scenario for whatever situation they’re in, and they fixate on it like it’s the only resolution. Doing this over and over again can make the worst-case scenario seem like the logical outcome of any situation.[11]

    • Let’s say you get an after-hours email from your boss, saying that she wants to talk to you the following morning. You can catastrophize the situation by imagining the worst reason she might want to talk to you: you’re getting fired. Which will lead to you losing your home, which will lead to you having to live with your parents. You can avoid doing this, though! When you find yourself catastrophizing, take your fantasies of total ruin all the way to their ridiculous conclusion, and then ask yourself if it’s actually likely to happen that way. It’s unlikely they will.
  7. 7
    Stay present. It’s easy to live in the past and the future, particularly if you find it hard to be optimistic at times. If things have gone poorly for us in the past, we think our future will look the same way. By staying present and focusing on the task at hand, you can focus on one particular set of circumstances, feel more in control, and stay optimistic.[12]

    • Try asking yourself, “Is there a problem right now?” Take a look and see if a problem exists at that very moment. If there is no problem impacting you that second, try to focus on that instead of on potential future problems.
  8. 8
    Share your feelings.[13] It’s easy to feel pessimistic if you think you’re the only one who has gone through what you’re going through. Sharing your failures and successes with someone you trust – whether a family member, a friend, or a member of a support group – can make you feel less alone and therefore more hopeful.[14] [15]

    • You can start a conversation like this by saying something like, “I’ve really been feeling down lately because I can’t seem to get caught up on my finances. Every time I think I’ll pull ahead, another bill pops up! Has that ever happened to you? How did you deal with?”
    • Sharing good news can also make you feel more optimistic. You can try saying something like, “I got that promotion I’ve been hoping for! I’d love to celebrate with you!”
    • In both cases, asking for having someone to share either reinforces that you’re not alone or multiplies your happiness.
Method 2

Changing Your Environment Download Article

  1. 1
    Let some light in. If you find you’re feeling particularly pessimistic, check your surroundings. Are you sitting in semi-darkness, staring at your computer? Just turning on a light or opening the curtains can change your mood drastically!
  2. 2
    Go outside. Getting outside and getting some sunlight (even if it is not direct) for even 15 minutes a day can greatly improve our moods. Go for a short walk, sit on the porch, or water your grass. Getting that little bump in your mood can really make it easier to feel optimistic.[16]
  3. 3
    Make new friends. Do the friends you normally hang out with seem to always be complaining? Are they always pointing out the negative in every situation? This can make it hard to feel optimistic about anything! Either make new friends with people who are generally positive and upbeat, or spend more time with your already optimistic friends.
Method 3

Changing Your Body Download Article

  1. 1
    Get a physical. Schedule a physical or a wellness checkup with your doctor. Sometimes internal factors, like not getting enough vitamin D, can impact our moods. This is particularly common with people who don’t see a lot of sunlight. Let your doctor know you’ve been feeling down and you’re not sure why. They will check for common problems that may be keeping you pessimistic.[17]
  2. 2
    Work out. Pessimists tend to overthink things. If you find yourself falling into this behavior, do something that will take all of your attention, like working out, going for a walk, or even playing a game. If you’re fully engaged in what you’re doing, you won’t have time to worry![18]
  3. 3
    Eat balanced meals. Eating a balanced meal is the easiest way to take care of your body, and having a body that feels healthy and strong is an easy way to feel optimistic![19]

    • A balanced diet should include protein, fat, carbs, vitamins, minerals, and lots of water!
    • When considering portions for a healthy diet, focus on having about half of your plate filled with fruits or veggies and the other half split between lean protein and whole grains.
    • Easy substitutions can make it easier to eat a healthy diet. Try nonfat or 1% milk instead of 2%. If you eat a really heavy meal at breakfast or lunch, consider eating lighter fare for the rest of the day.[20]
  4. 4
    Smile more. Studies show that smiling actually releases serotonin, the hormone generally responsible for happiness. Finding little reasons to smile, even in the middle of a bad day, can make you feel happier and therefore more optimistic.[21]

    • Smiling also makes you seem more welcoming to others. Meeting new people who are drawn to that sort of energy can have a good effect on you, since they’re likely to be optimistic people, too.
Method 4

Dealing with a Pessimistic World Download Article

  1. 1
    Volunteer. As scary as the world can seem, it’s easy to feel like things will never change and there’s nothing you can do about it. But you can! Volunteer your time at an organization that supports the things you believe in. Feeling like you’re actually helping make the world a better place is a good way to feel less pessimistic about the world.

    • Websites like VolunteerMatch.org, Idealist.org, and HandsOn Network are all good places to start when you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity.[22]
  2. 2
    Unplug for a day. The 24-hour news cycle can make it seem like bad things are happening all the time, and it can make the world seem like a pretty pessimistic place. If you’re feeling down and overly pessimistic, try unplugging for the day: no internet, no social media, no phone. This can help you recharge and focus on the good things in your life.[23]

    • Going to the park (if it’s nice outside) or a library (if it’s not) and spending some time reading a book is a good way to unplug without getting bored. Getting lost in someone else’s world for a while can help you feel less pessimistic.
    • Playing a game with your friends – football, a board game, cards – is a good way to entertain yourself without relying on electronics.
  3. 3
    Practice self care.[24] Practicing self care basically means making sure you take good care of yourself and plan some “me” time. When the world feels particularly pessimistic, it’s so easy to focus on the bad and forget to take of yourself. Self care is always important, but it’s critical to make some time for it when you’re stressed or feeling burnt out. Schedule some time for yourself on those days, and engage in your favorite self-care activities.

    • A lot of the steps above are examples of self care: working out, eating a balanced diet, going outside.
    • Making a playlist of your favorite upbeat music and listening to it when you’re feeling pessimistic is another great example of practicing self-care.[25]

Expert Q&A

  • Question
    What are ways I can be more optimistic?

    Leah Morris

    Life Coach
    Expert Answer
    Know that it’s okay for bad things to happen and to have some negative feelings from it. It helps to reevaluate these situations to find the positive aspects of them.
Ask a Question
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References

About This Article

Paul Chernyak, LPC
Co-authored by:
Licensed Professional Counselor
This article was co-authored by Paul Chernyak, LPC. Paul Chernyak is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Chicago. He graduated from the American School of Professional Psychology in 2011. This article has been viewed 19,742 times.
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Updated: August 9, 2021
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The Epidemic of Covert Male Depression | Psychology Today Canada

Source: The Epidemic of Covert Male Depression | Psychology Today Canada

Show me a mad guy, and I’ll show you a sad guy…

For the most part, men have two speeds — neutral and pissed. Experience demonstrates that the state of rage that plagues the majority of the male population is driven less by genuine anger and more by what might be characterize as covert depression manifesting as anger.

Covert depression doesn’t look like the depression with which we are generally familiar, especially to the people around a man who is in the throes of this particular emotional upheaval. Instead, what the people around us tend to witness is subtle irritation, road rage, explosive arguments, passive-aggression, slovenliness, self-sabotage supported by a failure to follow through and/or a faint sense of insecurity that leads to all kinds of shortcomings in performance — at work, at home, within society at large or even in the bedroom.

“Why anger”, you ask? I like to call anger the First Feeling because it goes straight to the root of the aggression that drives our instinct for survival. Because men are not great at filtering and expressing emotions or feelings, we typically express, or more properly act out, our experience of emotion as anger. The whole male dynamic of emotional experience-feeling, reaction and anger-occurs at a very primal and instinctual level. Men are, in some ways, hardwired for rage – it keeps us sharp. Problem …there are no more saber-toothed tigers with which to contend; the mechanism is obsolete.

For men, the key to deflecting this circumstance is recognizing and acknowledging our emotions. We do this by dissecting rage. Here’s an example: when you get cut off on the highway, you become angry. The reason that you become angry is because someone, in your mind (read: feelings), has compromised your safety, or crossed your boundaries. On the other hand, when your boss chews you out you become angry because you may feel his accusations are unfounded, or you feel disrespected or unappreciated, or you’re anxious about losing your job.

In both situations detailed above you experience anger, but the motivation for that anger is different in each situation. Learning to look at the experience of anger and recognize the underlying feelings and emotions, then expressing those emotions and feelings in a productive manner, diffuses the anger.

As this diffusion begins to happen, the covert depression that ultimately drives our general sense of anger and annoyance starts to take shape as a lack of fulfillment, or disappointment over broken dreams, or anxiety about being able to provide for our family, or performance at work or being a good husband or partner.

It’s not really necessary to understand the why or the how of our human condition or our social circumstances. It’s more important, once we’ve recognized what that circumstance is, to ask the question, “What next?”. I was in an airport a few months ago and saw an advertisement for what I believe was an investment firm. It was a picture of Tiger Woods standing in the rough and tall grass up to his knees. Hand drawn into the picture was a vertical arrow with a break in the line; the small piece at the bottom had a label that said, “10% what you did” — at the top, the label said, “90% what you do”.

In the case of covert depression, emotional success does not rely on the why and how, but more upon what we do next. Tiger Woods lifting the ball out of the rough and onto the green is a metaphor for men lifting ourselves out of our covert depression by both finding and feeling our feelings.

Deconstructing our state of rage leads us to a place where we can drill down into that underlying covert depression that is driven by the subtle sense of “less than” that is visited upon us. This leads to a deconstruction of the depression, and that provides a context for working through the issues that are driving the depression in the first place.

© 2008 Michael J. Formica, All Rights Reserved

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What Is a Schema in Psychology? Definition and Examples

I like this intro to Schemas/Lifetraps:

Rory

*****

https://www.thoughtco.com/schema-definition-4691768
Human Head with Computer Folders

A schema is a cognitive structure that serves as a framework for one’s knowledge about people, places, objects, and events. Schemas help people organize their knowledge of the world and understand new information. While these mental shortcuts are useful in helping us make sense of the large amount of information we encounter on a daily basis, they can also narrow our thinking and result in stereotypes.

Key Takeaways: Schema

  • A schema is a mental representation that enables us to organize our knowledge into categories.
  • Our schemas help us simplify our interactions with the world. They are mental shortcuts that can both help us and hurt us.
  • We use our schemas to learn and think more quickly. However, some of our schemas may also be stereotypes that cause us to misinterpret or incorrectly recall information.
  • There are many types of schemas, including object, person, social, event, role, and self schemas.
  • Schemas are modified as we gain more information. This process can occur through assimilation or accommodation.

Schema: Definition and Origins

The term schema was first introduced in 1923 by developmental psychologist Jean Piaget. Piaget proposed a stage theory of cognitive development that utilized schemas as one of its key components. Piaget defined schemas as basic units of knowledge that related to all aspects of the world. He suggested that different schemas are mentally applied in appropriate situations to help people both comprehend and interpret information. To Piaget, cognitive development hinges on an individual acquiring more schemas and increasing the nuance and complexity of existing schemas.

The concept of schema was later described by psychologist Frederic Bartlett in 1932. Bartlett conducted experiments that tested how schemas factored into people’s memory of events. He said that people organize concepts into mental constructs he dubbed schemas. He suggested that schemas help people process and remember information. So when an individual is confronted with information that fits their existing schema, they will interpret it based on that cognitive framework. However, information that doesn’t fit into an existing schema will be forgotten.

Examples of Schemas

For example, when a child is young, they may develop a schema for a dog. They know a dog walks on four legs, is hairy, and has a tail. When the child goes to the zoo for the first time and sees a tiger, they may initially think the tiger is a dog as well. From the child’s perspective, the tiger fits their schema for a dog.

The child’s parents may explain that this is a tiger, a wild animal. It is not a dog because it doesn’t bark, it doesn’t live in people’s houses, and it hunts for its food. After learning the differences between a tiger and a dog, the child will modify their existing dog schema and create a new tiger schema.

As the child grows older and learns more about animals, they will develop more animal schemas. At the same time, their existing schemas for animals like dogs, birds, and cats will be modified to accommodate any new information they learn about animals. This is a process that continues into adulthood for all kinds of knowledge.

Types of Schemas

There are many kinds of schemas that assist us in understanding the world around us, the people we interact with, and even ourselves. Types of schemas include:

    • Object schemas, which help us understand and interpret inanimate objects, including what different objects are and how they work. For example, we have a schema for what a door is and how to use it. Our door schema may also include subcategories like sliding doors, screen doors, and revolving doors.
    • Person schemas, which are created to help us understand specific people. For instance, one’s schema for their significant other will include the way the individual looks, the way they act, what they like and don’t like, and their personality traits.
    • Social schemas, which help us understand how to behave in different social situations. For example, if an individual plans to see a movie, their movie schema provides them with a general understanding of the type of social situation to expect when they go to the movie theater.
    • Event schemas, also called scripts, which encompass the sequence of actions and behaviors one expects during a given event. For example, when an individual goes to see a movie, they anticipate going to the theater, buying their ticket, selecting a seat, silencing their mobile phone, watching the movie, and then exiting the theater.
  • Self-schemas, which help us understand ourselves. They focus on what we know about who we are now, who we were in the past, and who we could be in the future.
  • Role schemas, which encompass our expectations of how a person in a specific social role will behave. For example, we expect a waiter to be warm and welcoming. While not all waiters will act that way, our schema sets our expectations of each waiter we interact with.

Modification of Schema

As our example of the child changing their dog schema after encountering a tiger illustrates, schemas can be modified. Piaget suggested that we grow intellectually by adjusting our schemas when new information comes from the world around us. Schemas can be adjusted through:

  • Assimilation, the process of applying the schemas we already possess to understand something new.
  • Accommodation, the process of changing an existing schema or creating a new one because new information doesn’t fit the schemas one already has.

Impact on Learning and Memory

Schemas help us interact with the world efficiently. They help us categorize incoming information so we can learn and think more quickly. As a result, if we encounter new information that fits an existing schema, we can efficiently understand and interpret it with minimal cognitive effort.

However, schemas can also impact what we pay attention to and how we interpret new information. New information that fits an existing schema is more likely to attract an individual’s attention. In fact, people will occasionally change or distort new information so it will more comfortably fit into their existing schemas.

In addition, our schemas impact what we remember. Scholars William F. Brewer and James C. Treyens demonstrated this in a 1981 study. They individually brought 30 participants into a room and told them that the space was the office of the principal investigator. They waited in the office and after 35 seconds were taken to a different room. There, they were instructed to list everything they remembered about the room they had just been waiting in. Participants’ recall of the room was much better for objects that fit into their schema of an office, but they were less successful at remembering objects that didn’t fit their schema. For example, most participants remembered that the office had a desk and a chair, but only eight recalled the skull or bulletin board in the room. In addition, nine participants claimed that they saw books in the office when in reality there weren’t any there.

How Our Schemas Get Us Into Trouble

The study by Brewer and Trevens demonstrates that we notice and remember things that fit into our schemas but overlook and forget things that don’t. In addition, when we recall a memory that activates a certain schema, we may adjust that memory to better fit that schema.

So while schemas can help us efficiently learn and understand new information, at times they may also derail that process. For instance, schemas can lead to prejudice. Some of our schemas will be stereotypes, generalized ideas about whole groups of people. Whenever we encounter an individual from a certain group that we have a stereotype about, we will expect their behavior to fit into our schema. This can cause us to misinterpret the actions and intentions of others.

For example, we may believe anyone who is elderly is mentally compromised. If we meet an older individual who is sharp and perceptive and engage in an intellectually stimulating conversation with them, that would challenge our stereotype. However, instead of changing our schema, we might simply believe the individual was having a good day. Or we might recall the one time during our conversation that the individual seemed to have trouble remembering a fact and forget about the rest of the discussion when they were able to recall information perfectly. Our dependence on our schemas to simplify our interactions with the world may cause us to maintain incorrect and damaging stereotypes.

Resources: Addiction


Alcoholics Anonymous 

https://www.aa.org

Ottawa Area Meeting List

https://ottawaaa.org/meetings/

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcohol addiction.
Ottawa area (613) 267-6000

Al-Anon Family Groups

https://al-anon.org/al-anon-meetings/find-an-al-anon-meeting/

Al-Anon Ottawa
https://www.al-anon-ottawa.ca

​Al-Anon offers strength and hope for friends and families of problem drinkers.
(613) 860-3431
(819) 669-0543

Badge of Life Canada

https://badgeoflifecanada.org

Badge of Life Canada enables individuals to have a safe place to go for direct support through making positive connections with volunteer peers, trauma and PTSD survivors/or front line professionals.

​Bellwood Health Services

https://www.edgewoodhealthnetwork.com/locations/inpatient-centres/

Bellwood Health Services is a Canadian addiction treatment centre located in Toronto.  Bellwood offers treatment for individuals and families experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs, sex, gambling and eating disorders.
Toronto, ON

Tel: 1-866-349-3869

​Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation 

https://caccf.ca

The Canadian Addiction Counsellors Federation was formed in 1985 and strives to offer the most effective and credible certifications to all specific counsellors in Canada.
1-866-624-1911

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health 

https://www.camh.ca

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as the world’s leading research centre in the area of addiction and mental health.
1-800-463-6273

Ottawa Area Crisis Line 

https://www.dcottawa.on.ca/24-7-crisis-line/

The Crisis Line is available anywhere in the City of Ottawa, Renfrew County, Storemont, Dundas & Glengary Counties, Akwesasne & Prescott and Russell Counties.  If you are outside the area, similar services may be available in the community were you live.
Within Ottawa call: 

Distress (613) 238-3311  

Crisis (613) 722-6914 

Outside Ottawa 1-866-996-0991

Gamblers Anonymous Canada

https://www.gamblingtherapy.org/en/canada-gamblers-anonymous

Gamblers Anonymous Eastern Ontario and Ottawa

http://www.gamblersanonymousottawa.org

​Gamblers Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from a gambling problem.
Ottawa Help Line (613) 567-3271

Homewood Health Centre  

https://homewoodhealth.com/health-centre

Homewood Health Centre is Canada’s medical leader in addiction and mental health treatment, providing highly specialized psychiatric and addiction services.
Guelph, ON
(519) 824-1010

Narcotics Anonymous World Services

Narcotics Anonymous Ottawa Area 

http://ottawana.org

Ottawa Meetings

http://ottawana.org/meet.html

Narcotics Anonymous is a nonprofit international community-based organization for recovering addicts.
​1-888-811-3887

Newgate 180  

https://newgate180.com

Newgate 180 has been Ontario’s premier non-profit drug and alcohol rehab treatment centre for more than 40 years.  Located in Merrickville, Negate 180 is situated approximately 75 Kms south of Ottawa.

The Royal Ottawa Hospital Mental Health Care Centre 

https://www.theroyal.ca/media-releases/rapid-access-alcohol-withdrawal

(Rapid Access to Alcohol Withdrawal)
The Clinic provides fast medically supported withdrawal for people who have been referred by The Ottawa Hospital Emergency Department. family counselling addiction counselling

I Got COVID-19 4 Months Ago. I Still Live With Symptoms

After 100+ days of dealing with COVID-19 symptoms, it occurred to me that this just might be my new norm.

Source: I Got COVID-19 4 Months Ago. I Still Live With Symptoms

Rachel Baum

July 16, 2020
By Rachel Baum, as told to Jennifer Clopton

I might never get better.

I don’t know the exact day I had this realization. It came at some point after I crossed the 100-day mark of still dealing with COVID-19 symptoms.

I contracted the virus around March 10th, and the symptoms still hang on. A debilitating headache. A stabbing pain between my shoulders that feels like I’m getting jabbed by a hot poker, and never goes away. I have tightness in my chest and coughing that still requires an inhaler to clear. The brain fog, clumsiness, and confusion are so bad that I’m astonished by how much I’ve intellectually regressed. Overwhelming fatigue and nausea come and go, and my voice often sounds like a whisper because I can’t get a strong enough breath to speak louder.

After 100+ days of dealing with these symptoms that come – off and on like waves, lasting and leaving with no pattern – it finally dawned on me that maybe this is my life now. At this point I’m really not sure this is ever going to go away. It just might be my new normal.

This is a far cry from my old normal. I have fibromyalgia, but pre-COVID-19, I was very active. I’m a retired dog trainer, so I’ve always been on the go. I live near a lake and was kayaking sometimes twice a day, going for a 3-mile walk every day, and I took up tap dancing, practicing 45 minutes to an hour a day.

During my illness and now whenever I relapse, all I can do is look at the lake out the window. I haven’t even attempted tap dancing. I know I don’t have the energy for that. Still, I do have days where I feel pretty good. I can go for a walk, cook meals, and do laundry. But then the relapse comes. It always comes. Sometimes it lasts for 1 day or 2, but sometimes as many as 10. When this happens, I’m knocked down, back in bed, needing to sleep, feeling anxious, reaching for my inhaler to help me breathe.

This is better than it was when I first got sick with COVID-19. For that first month, I was sick with all the symptoms you hear about – nausea, chills, headache, loss of taste and smell. For a few days, I couldn’t walk because my whole left side – my leg and arm – were stiff and in terrible pain. I had debilitating fatigue, and at my worst, I couldn’t eat or take deep breaths. Once, I had to call 9-1-1 for oxygen. In time, I did see some improvement, but for me it’s been far from a full recovery.

It hasn’t been a linear journey, either. I have some good days that make me hopeful that I’ve finally kicked this, but then I backslide. There’s no medical explanation for this that we’ve been able to find. Chest x-rays show my lungs are fine. Follow-up COVID tests have been negative, and my oxygen saturation levels continue to register as normal. Doctors are frankly mystified about what’s happening and what to do about it. The only thing it seems I can do is take Tylenol when the headache comes, keep my maintenance and rescue inhalers within reach, and try to mentally adjust to this new reality.

I get very discouraged sometimes thinking – what did I do wrong, why me? But then I think I should just be grateful that I’m still alive. It helps to know I’m not alone (even though that is heartbreaking, too). When I joined a COVID-19 Long Haulers group on Facebook, I was amazed to read post after post that sounded like me. There are currently more than 7,000 people from around the world in this group, and they too are still struggling with a seemingly never-ending list of debilitating symptoms that come and go in waves. Some people are hospitalized during their relapses and have had far more extreme symptoms than me, so I guess I’m lucky, although it doesn’t always feel that way.

For now, I’m trying to focus on what I can control. I signed up to be part of two clinical trials where I log my symptoms every day so researchers can learn from people like me who haven’t gotten better. I try to help others in my Facebook group when they’re struggling with the symptoms they’re still dealing with. For my own mental health, at this point I’ve just decided I have to give up the idea that I’m ever going to fully recover. I’ve got to stop treating it as if I’m going to be back to where I was before because I really don’t know if that will ever happen.

A lot of people get better and that’s wonderful for them. But for some reason, there are thousands of us out there that the virus has grabbed onto and it’s not letting go.

If anyone else out there is dealing with this, I’d say – find yourself a support group because you’ll need it, and it helps – a lot. You need people who understand what you are going through and you may not find that in your family or social circle.

At this point, after experiencing symptoms for nearly 4 months, I’m trying to find the positive life lessons in this for me. I’ve always been a person who likes to go, go, go, and this is forcing me to learn to slow down, take things down a notch, and relax a bit more. I’m learning to really appreciate the good days when they come and pace myself on those days and then rest when the difficult times come.

Kayaking every day may not be in the cards for me anymore, but I can still enjoy the beauty of the lake. The other day I did fish a little bit, and that made me feel better. I’m finding new sources of Zen in quieter activities that bring me joy. I also think I’ll keep telling my story because sadly, I do believe there will continue to be many others like me. And realistically, I’m just not sure that everybody fully recovers from this virus.

Rachel Baum lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, and is currently participating in 2 studies tracking long-term symptoms in patients who had COVID-19. She says she finds great support from a Long Haul COVID-19 Fighters support group on Facebook and is happy that a book she authored in her first career as a librarian – Funeral and Memorial Readings, Poems and Tributes (McFarland, 1999) – is now helping many people who sadly have to bury loved ones from this virus.

 

10 Signs of Walking Depression

 

This is Part 1 in a series on depression in creatives.

Part 2: 10 Ways to Walk Away from Depression
Part 3: When Medication Isn’t Enough: Rethinking Depression with Eric Maisel

Note: I wrote this article to raise awareness of low-grade depression, which many people don’t recognize in themselves. I am an author and creativity coach, so I wrote it particularly for writers and artists, but these signs could apply to anyone ~ I believe we are all creative in one way or another.

There are many causes of depression; in my work I focus on people’s needs to create art and to make meaning, and on how to deal with the depression that arises when those needs go unmet for whatever reason.


Let’s play a little word association.

When I say someone is DEPRESSED, what comes to mind?

You might think of someone who:

  • Looks or acts sad most of the time
  • Cries often
  • Can’t feel any emotions (positive or negative)
  • Can’t get out of bed or leave the house
  • Can’t work
  • Can’t take care of themselves or others
  • Thinks or talks about suicide

That’s what severe depression can look like, and it’s a terrible and potentially deadly illness. Most people would notice those signs, realize something was wrong, and hopefully get some help.

But depression has many different faces and manifestations.

I was one of the walking depressed. Some of my clients are too.

We have many of the symptoms of clinical depression, but we are still functioning.

On the surface, people might not know anything is wrong. We keep working, keep going to school, keep looking after our families.

But we’re doing it all while profoundly unhappy. Depression is negatively impacting our lives and relationships and impairing our abilities.

Our depression may not be completely disabling, but it’s real.

10 Signs of Walking Depression

“I once read that succumbing to depression doesn’t mean you are weak, but that you have been trying to be strong for too long, which is maybe a form of denial. So much of life happens somewhere in between being okay and complete breakdown—that’s where many of us live, and doing so requires strength.” ~ novelist Matthew Quick

Walking depression can be hard to recognize because it doesn’t fit the more common picture of severe depression. But it can be just as dangerous to our well-being when left unacknowledged.

This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive or to diagnose anyone. But these are some of the signs I’ve observed in myself and those I’ve coached:

Nothing is fun. You root around for something to look forward to and come up empty.

You can’t find flow. Working on your creative projects feels like a grind, but you keep plodding away. There is research that shows that neuroticism (the tendency toward negative moods) is associated with lower rates of flow.

Your energy is low. Maybe you’re not getting enough rest because you’re too anxious to sleep, or you’re trying to cram too many tasks into a day, or you’re punishing yourself by staying up. Whatever the reason, you are effin’ tired.

You feel worse in the morning and better at night. I remember explaining this to a friend, who found it mystifying. In the morning I felt the crushing weight of all the things I had to do that day. In the evening I was temporarily free from expectations and could enjoy a moment’s respite.

You have simmering resentment toward others. Sure, you’re still doing what everybody asks of you, but you stew in anger the whole time. You are jealous of and bitter toward people who look happier than you feel.

Your self-talk gets caustic. You say nasty things in an effort to shock yourself into action. You use shame as a motivator.

You feel distanced from people around you. It’s hard to have genuine, intimate conversations because you have to keep up this front that you are alright.

You deprive yourself of creative work time (the artist as sadomasochist). This helps you exert some control and stirs up feelings of suffering that are perversely pleasurable. Also, taking on new projects that prevent you from writing or making art lets you prove to yourself that you’re still strong and capable.

Jen Lee has coined the term Dutiful Creatives to describe those who are inclined to take care of their responsibilities before anything else.

“If life were a meal, you’d consider your creativity as the dessert, and always strive to eat your vegetables first. Pacing and knowing how to say No are your strengths, but your creativity is more essential to your well-being than you realize.” from Jen Lee’s Quiz: What Kind of Creative Are You

You notice a significant mood change when you have caffeine or alcohol. A cup of coffee might make you feel a lot more revved-up and optimistic. A glass of wine might make you feel really mellow and even ~ gasp! ~ happy. (That’s how I finally realized that I was depressed.)

You feel like you’re wasting your life. Some people have a high sensitivity to the inherent meaning in what we do. Creativity coach Eric Maisel calls this our “existential intelligence.” If our daily activities don’t carry enough significance ~ if they don’t feel like a worthwhile use of our talents and passions ~ then soon we are asking ourselves, “What’s the point? Why should I keep going?”

(Eric Maisel has published a book called Rethinking Depression, which I talk to him about in this post, When Medication Isn’t Enough.)

Why is it hard to admit that you have walking depression?

You may recognize many of these signs in your life but still be slow to admit that you are depressed. Why is that?

Because it feels presumptuous to put yourself in that category when you’re still getting by. You feel like it would be insulting to those who are much worse off than you. You may feel like you have no real reason to be depressed.

Because your pride and your identity take a hit. You have to admit vulnerability and allow that you are not the all-conquering superhero you thought you were.

Because you realize that you and your life need to change, which feels like more work piled on your plate.

Because you are admitting your own responsibility for your unhappiness and that can trigger self-judgment.

Because you might uncover grief or anger at those around you for not seeing and taking better care of you.

What to do, what to do?

I’ve posted another entry about how creatives heal from walking depression, and here are the highlights:

  • Rest.
  • Make use of medication and other physical treatments.
  • Do therapy.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Make connections.
  • Reduce your responsibilities.
  • Spend time creating.
  • Change your thoughts.
  • Develop a meaning practice.
  • Change your life.

These steps are simple to say, not easy to do, so make sure you get as much support as you can.

Important: If you are in dire straits, please contact your doctor or visit the International Suicide Prevention Wiki to find a hotline near you.

How to do the Faster EFT Tap — The Basic Recipe

Sep 27, 2017 · 5 min read

The Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe is easy, quick, efficient, effective and a fun healing tool.

It is used to change the references held in the subconscious that result in problems in all areas of life.

It is this procedure that is used for every round of tapping.

This Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe method can be used to solve any issue — financial, personal, professional, emotional, psychological, physiological, health related.

This Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe has provided relief to thousands of people around the world with impressive results.

We encourage you to try and test this out for yourself.

But first, you will need to know the basics of Faster EFT Tapping, so let’s start!

With just SIX easy steps to learn, it is the Fastest EFT tapping technique out there.

The Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe has only FIVE steps, that takes only 30 seconds to do.

Anyone of any age can learn this simple technique and use it whenever they want, wherever they are with lasting results.

It may seem a little strange at first, but after a couple of round of using the Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe, you’ll feel more comfortable.

Just like with anything new you learn, it takes practice and persistence.

This will be a tool that can be used throughout your life, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower.

It’ll always be on hand for you to use, no matter the circumstances.

Why Faster EFT Works

In order for a problem to exist, there must be proof (the memory or record of an experience) and feelings.

Feelings are what make a problem a problem.

It is how you feel about something that determines whether it’s a problem or not.

If you feel good, that means you like something.

Conversely, if you feel bad, it means you don’t like something.

It’s that simple.

It is the feelings that make the problem real.

For example, Tom feels angry when he hears loud music in a parked car.

Another person, Tina, may enjoy the music.

She hears the same loud music, but she feels good.

In each of those cases, the subconscious is referencing a record that connects loud music in parked cars with either a negative meaning or a positive meaning; and then the brain signals the organs to produce the matching chemicals for those emotions.

How Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe works

FasterEFT is an energy based system as well, founded on Neurology and Biology.

Emotions affect both our physical and mental wellbeing.

So it follows that once your turbulent emotions are healed and cleaned up, you’ll have overall wellbeing.

The foundation belief in Faster EFT is that there is no disruption of energy, unlike traditional EFT.

In fact everything in your life and body is functioning as it should.

According to the way the brain has developed in order to survive in the environment, depending on your life’s experiences.

In Faster EFT, the tapping is used to disrupt the signal between the brain and the major organs of the body that trigger the fight or flight response while changing neural pathways in the neocortex of the brain.

The Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe doesn’t just deal with energy disruptions, which only fixes the outer issue of the problem.

It deals with the root cause of the problems, eliminating them completely.

Faster EFT recognizes that experiences are recorded in the subconscious for future reference.

This is how we learn to walk, drive, take a shower, eat, wash the dishes, type etc. without needing to consciously concentrate on every movement and decision.

Regular EFT specifically believes that negative emotions have nothing to do with memories, and are caused only by a disruption in the body’s energy system.

The Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe interrupts that signal between the brain and the organs by focusing on the meridian points connected to those organs.

This rewrites the reference or memory associated with that trigger.

For example, if Tom feels angered by the loud music and wanted to change that automatic response, he could use the Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe to disrupt the production of the chemicals that cause the feeling of anger when he hears the loud music.

And change the meaning of the loud music in his subconscious from “rude” or “disruptive” (or whatever they learned it means) to fun and enjoyment.

This will then result in an automatic feeling of enjoyment and fun when Tom hears that loud music in the future.

The Faster EFT Tapping Points

The following illustration is pretty straightforward and we’ll give a brief explanation with it as well.

For now, just identify each of these Faster EFT Tapping points on your body and follow along!

Step #1: Aim

Notice how you know you have the problem.

You don’t need to know what the emotions or feelings are, just notice how you know they’re there.

What do you feel?

Where in your body do you feel it?

What do you see or hear?

How do you know it’s a problem?

Step #2: Tap

Use two fingers to tap the following points, while focusing on the feeling of your fingers on your skin:

  • between your eyebrows
  • beside your eye
  • under your eye
  • just below your collarbone

While you are tapping, say “Let it go”. You can also add “It’s safe to let it go”.

Note: It doesn’t matter which side you tap — you can do either side, or both if you like.

Step #3: Peace

Grab your wrist, take a deep breath, blow it out, and say “peace” — and go to a peaceful memory for a moment.

Step #4: Check

Go back to your problem and take notice of how it’s changed.

Do you feel different?

Is the intensity of the feeling different?

Does the memory look or sound different?

Just notice.

Step #5: Repeat

Repeat steps two to four until the feeling or memory has “flipped” — in other words, the negative memory has been replaced by a positive memory.

Read: Why do We “ Reimprint or Flip” Memories in Faster EFT?

Watch the Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe

The Key to Success in using Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe:

Persistence is essential.

Don’t stop until it’s changed — even if it doesn’t feel like it’s going to change — it will, as long as you keep going until it does.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

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Robert Smith

Written by

Creator of FasterEFT and CEO of Skills to Change Institute

Gaslighting Risk: Why Adults with ADHD Are Particularly Vulnerable to Manipulation

The Gaslighting Risk: Why Adults with ADHD Are Particularly Vulnerable to Manipulation

 

What Is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological or emotional abuse — a series of manipulative techniques designed to gain control of another person. By blatantly and repeatedly lying or challenging reality, the gaslighters keep their victims off-kilter and make them question themselves. Many times, a person’s diagnosis of ADHD is used against him or her by the gaslighter. I have been a therapist for 20 years, and lately I have seen more and more clients with ADHD reporting being gaslighted in their relationships and at their jobs.

One of the best defenses against gaslighting is to educate yourself about this kind of emotional abuse. Adults with ADHD may be more vulnerable to gaslighting due to issues with self-esteem, difficulty with past relationships, and feelings of guilt and shame. Know that there is hope, and you can rebuild your life after living with gaslighting for months or even years.

Gaslighting Behaviors

Gaslighters sometimes hide their partners’ belongings and blame their partners for being “irresponsible,” “lazy,” or “so ADHD” when they can’t find the items. A gaslighter may also tell their partner that they don’t need to take medication for ADHD because “I know what you need better than some doctor does.”

Gaslighting behaviors include:

  • Telling you that you didn’t see or hear something
  • Cheating often, but obsessively accusing you of cheating
  • Saying that other people think you are crazy
  • Pitting you against people (this is known as “triangulating”)
  • Idealizing you, then devaluing you, and finally discarding the relationship

[Take This Self-Test: Emotional Hyperarousal in Adults]

Why and How Gaslighters Target People with ADHD

Gaslighters sense vulnerabilities in a person. They specifically target people who are grieving a loss or who feel inadequate or isolated. If you have ADHD, you probably grew up with the feeling that you were “less than.” You may have had difficulties maintaining friendships or relationships. You may have been dismissed by others who said you were “difficult.”

When you meet a gaslighter for the first time, he or she will do something called “love bombing.” They will tell you everything you have wanted to hear from someone, especially after a lifetime of rejection. The purpose of the behavior is to hook you. Once you are committed to the relationship, the gaslighter begins abusive behavior.

Early on, the gaslighter asks you about your fears and inadequacies. It feels good to have someone listening to you and caring about what you have to say. However, the gaslighter is gathering data to be used as ammunition against you later. You may eventually hear, “No wonder your sister doesn’t talk to you anymore. She knows you’re crazy, too.”

[Download This: 6 Ways ADHD Sabotages Relationships]

If you leave the relationship, the gaslighter will “hoover” — drawing you back. They will send messages through friends and family that they miss you. They will promise you the world, but will never apologize. They don’t think they did anything wrong. The threat of losing their ability to manipulate you motivates a gaslighter to get you back in their clutches. But once you return, everything promised to you disappears, and your relationship becomes more abusive than before.

How to Escape Gaslighting In a Relationship

For most people, leaving a gaslighting relationship means “no contact — at all.” Block phone numbers and email addresses. Tell friends and family that you will not listen to any messages sent through them. You should also meet with a licensed mental health professional; having ADHD makes you vulnerable to anxiety and mood disorders. Set up and follow through with an ADHD treatment plan, and re-establish connections with the healthy people in your life. If you have children with a gaslighter, meet with an attorney to establish a detailed parenting plan.

Gaslighting at the Workplace

Sometimes bosses and coworkers take advantage of the fact that someone has ADHD. They will accuse you of being forgetful or not caring about your work.

Ask your boss or coworker to send you an email with instructions or details of an assignment. If you complete the assignment and are told later that you didn’t do what was asked, refer to that email, instead of blaming yourself. Also, get to know the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s definition of workplace harassment, found at eeoc.gov/laws/types/harassment.cfm.

[Subscribe to the ADDitude Newsletter for Women with ADHD]


Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D., the author of Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People, is a licensed and board-certified mental health counselor, and a Florida Supreme Court-certified family and civil mediator based in Tampa. She is a best-selling author, the host of the Talking Brains podcast, and is a contributor to Psychology Today, Forbes, and HuffPost. You can reach Stephanie at stephaniesarkis.com.

Updated on January 29, 2020

Chronic insomnia best treated with psychotherapy 1st – Health – CBC News

People with chronic insomnia should try cognitive behavioral therapy before medications, suggests a prominent group of U.S. doctors.

Source: Chronic insomnia best treated with psychotherapy 1st – Health – CBC News

Chronic insomnia is defined as at least three restless nights per week for at least three months.

Chronic insomnia is defined as at least three restless nights per week for at least three months. (Alyssa L. Miller, Flickr cc)

While the American College of Physicians (ACP) can’t say cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) outperforms medications for chronic insomnia, the group does say psychotherapy is less risky than drugs.

“Sometimes we forget that sleep medications have the potential for serious side-effects in some patients, while cognitive behavioural therapy is very low [risk] to patients,” said Dr. Wayne J. Riley, ACP president.

“The evidence is clear that CBT and sleep hygiene can be long lasting, life long, durable and delivered at a lower cost,” said Riley, who is also affiliated with Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

About 6 to 10 per cent of people in the U.S. have insomnia. Through loss of productivity, the condition is estimated to have cost the country about $63 billion US in 2009, according to the ACP committee that wrote the new guideline, which is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Chronic insomnia is defined as at least three restless nights per week for at least three months.

“We wanted to take a deep dive into the literature for what makes a big difference with insomnia,” Riley told Reuters Health.

The ACP commissioned two reviews of insomnia treatments. One focused on medications, and the second focused on psychological and behavioural treatments.

Medication and ‘sleep driving’

Overall, the first review found that some medications may improve sleep over a short period of time, but those come with the potential for changes in thinking and behaviour. Additionally, there is a risk for infrequent but serious harms.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says medications for insomnia should only be used for short periods. The agency warns those drugs may impair people during the daytime, lead to “sleep driving,” behavioural changes and worsening depression.

The review of psychological and behavioural treatments found that CBT for insomnia improved overall sleep with a low risk of harms, the researchers report.

Evidence collected separately for the two reviews found that “side-effects can be quite severe with the use of insomnia medications in contrast to CBT, where there are minimal side-effects,” said Riley.

CBT for insomnia is typically delivered in four to six one-hour weekly sessions. People are taught behavioural techniques such as sleep restriction and stimulus control, and they are also taught sleep hygiene.

When chronic insomnia isn’t helped by CBT alone, the ACP advises patients and doctors to consider a short course of medication. That discussion should touch on the potential benefits, harms and costs of medication, the ACP says.

Doctors should encourage patients with insomnia to engage in CBT, according two researchers whose editorial was published with the reviews and the guideline.

‘Prescription not the best solution in the long term’

But, they admit, CBT for insomnia might not be covered by insurance and is likely not available at doctors’ offices, write Dr. Roger Kathol, of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and J. Todd Arnedt, of the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.

“Unless access to and unencumbered payment for value-based behavioural interventions, such as CBT (for insomnia), in medical settings become a reality, patients with chronic insomnia will continue to receive suboptimal treatment and experience suboptimal outcomes,” they write.

Alternatives to in-person CBT for insomnia include group therapy session, telephone counseling, online lessons and self-help books, Riley said.

The ACP recommendations are similar to that of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), said Dr. Alcibiades Rodriguez, who is medical director of NYU Langone Medical Center’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center in New York City.

The AASM’s 2008 practice guidelines for treating chronic insomnia endorse psychotherapy as a first-line treatment and suggests it be used when medications are prescribed.

“The recommendations made by the ACP will appeal to a broader group of physicians to make them aware of this,” said Rodriguez, who was not involved with the new recommendations. “Then the doctors know just giving patients who come to their office with sleep problems a prescription is not the best solution in the long term.”

Residential school survivor uses poetry, psychotherapy to heal – Saskatoon – CBC News

A poet and residential school survivor is releasing her latest collections of poems, and she says they have been instrumental in healing from the scars of residential schools.

Source: Residential school survivor uses poetry, psychotherapy to heal – Saskatoon – CBC News

Louise Bernice Halfe was was born in Two Hills, Alta., and completed programs at the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan. She attended the Blue Quills Residential School, near St. Paul, Alta., for six years.

While the recently finished Truth and Reconciliation Commission was intended to help survivors heal, Bernice Halfe said the process opened old wounds. This collection of poetry, Burning in this Midnight Dream, helped heal those wounds.

Traditional ceremonies, psychology needed to help others

“It’s been extremely challenging and frightening as well,” she said of the process of walking backward, and retracing her past through the poetry. “What scared me was the feeling of being exposed and vlunerable.”

She said she needed to press ahead as a process of “accepting responsibility of my own actions and behaviours,” but the poetry is “also for the people who don’t have the vocabulary to articulate the shame and the pain and the anger that goes within their own stories.”

Bernice Halfe has training in drug and alcohol counseling, and in social work. She also emphasized the importance of psychotherapy and talking as tools for healing.

‘How do you recover as quickly as the people in the Canadian public want us to recover? I don’t know; I hope it’s possible. It’s very very hard.’– Louise Bernice Halfe

When asked how she wants to contribute to conversations on the legacy around residential schools, she described a photograph that showed her parents’ wedding and all of her relatives connected to her parents.

“There’s been a generational impact on whole communities. How do you recover as quickly as the people in the Canadian public want us to recover? I don’t know. I hope it’s possible. It’s very, very hard,” she said.

Bernice Halfe said she wants to see more aboriginal therapists and psychologists. “Not the kind that just prescribe pills,” she said.

Part of that responsibility is shared by the government, which she said has been insufficient in providing deep healing for aboriginal communities to recover from the legacy of residential schools.

“I would like to see more people trained in psychotherapy, along with their [traditional] ceremonial practices,” she said. “We needing funding for education in our communities. We also need mental health services closer to the communities.

“I’m talking about talk therapy. I’m talking about psychologists,” she emphasized.

Louise Bernice Halfe launches her latest collection of poems on Thursday at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon at 7 p.m. CST.

Why Isn’t Psychotherapy Covered By Health Care? | Chris Curry

In terms of health care, we have it pretty good. If you are unfortunately diagnosed with cancer, most, if not all of your treatment will be paid for. If you break your leg, you can go to the ER and get a cast and leave without a bill. If you require surgery, the government will pay for that too. But what if your issue isn’t physical? What if what’s holding you back in life is a mental concern? Well, then you’re kind of out of luck.

Source: Why Isn’t Psychotherapy Covered By Health Care? | Chris Curry

 

There are indeed mental health services that are covered by provincial programs such as OHIP here in Ontario. We are all allowed free access to psychiatrists, which sounds great on the surface. But the real story is that most psychiatrists are incredibly overworked and many have waiting lists over a year long. For anyone who has ever experienced a mental health crisis, you know that waiting a year just isn’t an option.

And if you are mentally well enough to wait for that year (or more) there is only so much a psychiatrist can do for you with their limited time and vast client lists. Sure, they can prescribe and monitor your medication. But they typically don’t have time to sit down with you week after week and get to the real reasons why you are facing either depression, anxiety, addiction or any other mental health issue.

Psychotherapists specialize in that kind of ‘getting to the root of the problem’ type of therapy. And each year, countless lives are changed by the hundreds of excellent psychotherapists we have in this country. But for every life that is changed by psychotherapy, their lives are also changed by way of having to spend their hard-earned money and by prioritizing their mental health, sometimes at the expense of other important bills.

Whenever I am discussing treatment with a new client, their first question is inevitably ‘is this covered by the government?’

My answer has to unfortunately be ‘no, it’s not. But someday, I sure hope it will be.’

There are of course some private benefit packages that do cover psychotherapy but most of us are not lucky enough to have such in depth personal coverage from our employers. And that leaves many paying out of pocket for what can be a fairly costly expenditure.

If therapy was free for everyone in Canada, we would see an incredible reduction in the amount of sick days due to depression and anxiety. Productivity would go through the roof and our emergency rooms would be able to focus more of physical injuries instead of having to attend to mental health crises as well.

We are a progressive country and we lead in many areas. Unfortunately we are falling flat when it comes to mental health treatment. We’ve decided that only the rich and prosperous can have access to therapy.

And that just doesn’t sound very progressive to me.

“Clara’s Big Ride”: Watch Online Full Episodes

Watch Online on CTV | Watch Full Episodes.

About “Clara’s Big Ride”

Part catalyst for change and part epic road movie, CLARA’S BIG RIDE is an inspiring new film that tackles the profound conversation about mental health and the stigma that surrounds it.

Latest Videos


  • Clara’s Big Ride

    S0:E | 2015-01-28

    Chronicles an unprecedented 11,000 km bicycle journey across Canada by Olympic medallist and Bell Let’s Talk spokesperson Clara Hughes.


  • Let’s Talk: A Marilyn Denis Special

    S0:E | 2015-01-15

    Joined by Dr. Marla Shapiro & Clara Hughes, Marilyn Denis uncovers the stories of 5 remarkable Canadians who struggle with mental illness.


  • Words Of Hope

    S0:E | 2015-01-15

    Nolan is a student at the University of Waterloo who wrote a column about his struggles with his own mental illness.


  • Coping With Anxiety

    S0:E | 2015-01-15

    Richie from Montreal discusses overcoming anxiety and gets to meet and interview Clara Hughes for his university’s radio show.

VIEW MORE ►

Informational Interviews

Informational Interviews.

Informational Interviews

What is an Informational Interview and How it Can Help Your Career

By 

 

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Skillfully used, an informational interview is one of the most valuable sources of occupational information. While it may cover some of the same ground as printed material or information on a company website, it presents opportunities for an intimate and flexible inside view of a job field unmatched by other sources. The informational interview communicates the first hand experiences and impressions of someone in the occupation, and is directed by your questions.

Stressless Interviewing

An informational interview is less stressful for both you and the employer than a typical job interview. You are the one in control. Questions can be asked that may not be strategic during a first interview (i.e., questions regarding salary, benefits, vacation). You can discuss what is done on a day-to-day basis and relate it to your own interests and feelings. Beyond the advantages of gaining valuable career information, the informational interview provides the opportunity to build self-confidence and to improve your ability to handle a job interview.

How to Conduct an Informational Interview

You should regard each interview as a business appointment and conduct yourself in a professional manner. If you have made clear, in advance, the explicit purpose of your interview you will, in all probability, find your contact an interested and helpful person. Remember the appointment time and appear promptly for your interview. You should neither be too casually dressed nor overdressed. Regular business attire is appropriate. Be sure you know the name of the person you are meeting, the correct pronunciation of his/her name, and the title of his/her position.

Informational Interview Questions to Ask

Because there are so many questions you can ask in the informational interview, individuals sometimes take notes during the meeting. A limited amount of note-taking is justified provided that your contact is agreeable and that you don’t interrupt communication between the two of you.

Sketch out a brief outline of the topics covered and the information gained as soon as possible after the interview. This will require only a few minutes, and will insure that you remember the important points discussed. Later, working from your outline, you can construct a more detailed report of the interview.

Follow Up With a Thank You Note

Write a thank you note to the people you have interviewed. Report back to them if you have followed up on any suggestions. By building strong rapport with career contacts you enhance the likelihood that they will offer assistance with your job search when you are ready for the next step in the job search process.

After I Was Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder, I Decided to Move Forward

After I Was Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder, I Decided to Move Forward

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When I was 17 years old, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, something that came as no surprise, as my life prior to my diagnosis was fraught with behavioral challenges. At 21 years old, after years of battling uncontrollable moods, fits of rage, a myriad of body image issues, addiction and frustration with finding adequate medication I found myself in my first psychotic episode. This was no way to live, I knew I was capable of so much more as an articulate young woman with big dreams. At 5 o’clock in the morning on July 7, 2011, after driving through the night with a head full of racing thoughts in a mind that possessed zero ability to cope, I found myself collapsed on the porch of my father’s home manic, enraged and inconsolable. I was surrendering, I could no longer fight the battle my life prior to that summer had felt so unrelenting and inhibiting. After a brief rest early that morning, the first few hours of sleep I had experienced in days, is when made my decision to thrive. For years prior to that hazy morning, I had been urged by loved ones to receive intensive clinical psychological treatment in a formal setting, but I believe part of me was always resisting in denial and arrogance. It was at the end of my rope where I found my desire to change the trajectory of my life. On July 11, 2011, I made the first imprints in the path toward my new way of being in the world. I spent 90 days in intensive psychological care and healing treatment where I acquired invaluable “tools” that allowed me to move forward in the world, the woman I was on my father’s porch that July morning became a shadow of my former self and an unwelcome stranger in my future.

Almost three years later not a day goes by where I don’t draw on the lessons learned through my decision to thrive. I am currently finishing my Bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology and work as a peer counselor to youth experiencing their first onset of mental illness in Los Angeles, California. Everything I do comes from a place of gratitude for my demons and experiences that catalyzed my decision to forge the path I am on today. For I would be nothing without them just as I would be nothing without the boundless compassion, patience and support of the loved ones in my life who have championed all of my efforts.

I used to think the notion that people could change was a farce … until I did it myself. I am changing everyday, creating a more authentic self with every opportunity to do so, and within the beautiful chaos of it all — I am thriving.

Arianna has invited her Facebook followers to share their wake-up calls — the moments they knew they had to make changes in their lives in order to truly thrive and not just succeed — as part of a series produced in conjunction with the release of her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving. You can read all the posts in the series here.

Challenge 1: Deep Listening — Empathy in Action

Challenge 1: Deep Listening — Empathy in Action.

 This is a great resource to learn some communication skills.
Creative Commons copyright.
 
Enjoy,
Rory

Connect More Deeply by Listening More Attentively and Responsively


A chapter in The Seven Challenges Workbook
A Guide to Cooperative Communication Skills for Success at Home and at Work
by Dennis Rivers, MA — 2012 Edition

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SUMMARY (repeated from Introduction) Listen first and acknowledge what you hear, even if you don’t agree with it, before expressing your experience or point of view . In order to get more of your conversation partner’s attention in tense situations, pay attention first: listen and give a brief restatement of what you have heard (especially feelings) before you express your own needs or position. The kind of listening recommended here separates acknowledging from approving or agreeing . Acknowledging another person’s thoughts and feelings does not have to mean that youapprove of or agree with that person’s actions or way of experiencing, or that you will do whatever someone asks.

Challenge One -- Listening More Carefully and ResponsivelyBy listening and then repeating back in your own words the essence and feeling of what you have just heard, from the speaker’s point of view, you allow the speaker to feel the satisfaction of being understood, (a major human need). Listening responsively is always worthwhile as a way of letting people know that you care about them. Our conversation partners do not automatically know how well we have understood them, and they may not be very good at asking for confirmation. When a conversation is tense or difficult it is even more important to listen first and acknowledge what you hear . Otherwise, your chances of being heard by the other person may be very poor.

Listening to others helps others to listen. In learning to better coordinate our life activities with the life activities of others, we would do well to resist two very popular (but terrible) models of communication: arguing a case in court and debating.  In courts and debates, each side tries to make its own points and listens to the other side only to tear down the other side’s points. Since the debaters and attorneys rarely have to reach agreement or get anything done together, it doesn’t seem to matter how much ill will their conversational style generates. But most of us are in a very different situation . We probably spend most of our lives trying to arrange agreement and cooperative action, so we need to be concerned about engaging people, not defeating them. In business (and in family life, too) the person we defeat today will probably be the person whose cooperation we need tomorrow!

As Marshall Rosenberg reported in his book, Nonviolent Communication ,  “studies in labor-management negotiations demonstrate that the time required to reach conflict resolution is cut in half when each negotiator agrees, before responding, to repeat what the previous speaker had said.”  (my emphasis)

When people are upset about something and want to talk about it their capacity to listen is greatly diminished. Trying to get your point across to a person who is trying to express a strong feeling will usually cause the other person to try even harder to get that emotion recognized. On the other hand, once people feel that their messages and feelings have been heard, they start to relax and they have more attention available for listening. For example, in a hospital a nurse might say, after listening to a patient: “I hear that you are very uncomfortable right now, Susan, and you would really like to get out of that bed and move around. But your doctor says your bones won’t heal unless you stay put for another week.”  The patient in this example is much more likely to listen to the nurse than if the nurse simply said: “I’m really sorry, Susan, but you have to stay in bed. Your doctor says your bones won’t heal unless you stay put for another week.”   What is missing in this second version is any acknowledgment of the patient’s present experience.

The power of simple acknowledging. The practice of responsive listening described here separates acknowledging the thoughts and feelings that a person expresses from approving, agreeing, advising, or persuading. Acknowledging another person’s thoughts and feelings…

…still leaves you the option of agreeing or disagreeing with that person’s point of view, actions or way of experiencing.

…still leaves you with the option of saying yes or no to a request.

…still leaves you with the option of saying more about the matter being discussed.

One recurring problem in conflict situations is that many people don’tseparate acknowledging from agreeing. They are joined together in people’s minds, somewhat like a two-boxes-of-soap “package deal” in a supermarket. The effect of this is, let us say, that John feels that any acknowledgment of Fred’s experience implies agreement and approval, therefore John will not acknowledge any of Fred’s experience. Fred tries harder to be heard and John tries harder not to hear. Of course, this is a recipe for stalemate (if not disaster).

People want both: to be understood and acknowledged on the one hand, and to be approved and agreed with, on the other. With practice, you can learn to respond first with a simple acknowledgment. As you do this, you may find that, figuratively speaking, you can give your conversation partners half of what they want, even if you can’t give them all of what they want. In many conflict situations that will be a giant step forward. Your conversation partners will also be more likely to acknowledge your position and experience, even if they don’t sympathize with you. This mutual acknowledgment can create an emotional atmosphere in which it is easier to work toward agreement or more gracefully accommodate disagreements. Here are three examples of acknowledgments that do not imply agreement:

  • Counselor to a drug abuse client:
    “I hear that you are feeling terrible right now and that you really want some drugs. And I want you to know that I’m still concerned this stuff you’re taking is going to kill you.”
  • Mother to seven-year-old: 
    “I know that you want some more cake and ice cream, Jimmy, because it tastes so good, but you’ve already had three pieces and I’m really worried that you’ll get an upset tummy. That’s why I don’t want you to have any more.”
  • Union representative to company owner’s representative: 
    “I understand from your presentation that you see XYZ Company as short of cash, threatened by foreign competition, and not in a position to agree to any wage increases. Now I would like us to explore contract arrangements that would allow my union members to get a wage increase and XYZ Company to advance its organizational goals.”   

In each case a person’s listening to and acknowledgment of his or her conversation partner’s experience or position increases the chance that the conversation partner will be willing to listen in turn. The examples given above are all a bit long and include a declaration of the listener’s position or decision. In many conversations you may simply want to reassure your conversation partner with a word or two that you have heard and understood whatever they are experiencing. For example, saying, “You sound really happy [or sad] about that,” etc.

As you listen to the important people in your life, give very brief summaries of the experiences they are talking about and name the want or feeling that appears to be at the heart of the experience. For example:

“So you were really happy about that…”

“So you drove all the way over there and they didn’t have the part they promised you on the phone. What a let-down…

“Sounds like you wanted a big change in that situation…”

“Wow. Your dog got run over. You must be feeling really terrible…”

The point here is to empathize, not to advise. If you added to that last statement, “That total SLOB!!! You should sue that person who ran over your dog. People need to pay for their mistakes, etc.”, you would be taking over the conversation and also leading the person away from her or his feelings and toward your own.

Other suggestions about listening more responsively:

As a general rule, do not just repeat another person’s exact words.Summarize their experience in your own words . But in cases where people actually scream or shout something, sometimes you may want to repeat a few of their exact words in a quiet tone of voice to let them know that you have heard it just as they said it.

If the emotion is unclear, make a tentative guess, as in “So it sounds like maybe you were a little unhappy about all that…”   The speaker will usually correct your guess if it needs correcting.

Listening is an art and there are very few fixed rules. Pay attention to whether the person speaking accepts your summary by saying things such as “yeah!”, “you got it,” “that’s right,” and similar responses.

If you can identify with what the other person is experiencing, then in your tone of voice (as you summarize what another person is going through), express a little of the feeling that your conversation partner is expressing. (Emotionally flat summaries feel strange and distant.)

Such compassionate listening is a powerful resource for navigating through life, and it also makes significant demands on us as listeners. We may need to learn how to hold our own ground while we restate someone else’s position. That takes practice. We also have to be able to listen to people’s criticisms or complaints without becoming disoriented or totally losing our sense of self worth. That requires cultivating a deeper sense of self worth, which is no small project. In spite of these difficulties, the results of compassion-ate, responsive listening have been so rewarding in my life that I have found it to be worth all the effort required.

Real life examples. Here are two brief, true stories about listening. The first is about listening going well and the second is about the heavy price people sometimes pay for not listening in an empathic way.


John Gottman describes his discovery that listening really works: “I remember the day I first discovered how Emotion Coaching [the author’s approach to empathic listening] might work with my own daughter, Moriah. She was two at the time and we were on a cross-country flight home after visiting with relatives. Bored, tired, and cranky, Moriah asked me for Zebra, her favorite stuffed animal and comfort object. Unfortunately, we had absentmindedly packed the well-worn critter in a suitcase that was checked at the baggage counter.

“I’m sorry, honey, but we can’t get Zebra right now. He’s in the big suitcase in another part of the airplane,” I explained.”I want Zebra,” she whined pitifully.

“I know, sweetheart. But Zebra isn’t here. He’s in the baggage compartment under-neath the plane and Daddy can’t get him until we get off the plane. I’m sorry.”

“I want Zebra! I want Zebra!” she moaned again. Then she started to cry, twisting in her safety seat and reaching futilely toward a bag on the floor where she’d seen me go for snacks.

“I know you want Zebra,” I said, feeling my blood pressure rise. “But he’s not in that bag. He’s not here and I can’t do anything about it. Look, why don’t we read about Ernie,” I said, fumbling for one of her favorite picture books.

“Not Ernie!” she wailed, angry now. “I want Zebra. I want him NOW!”

By now, I was getting “do something” looks from the passengers, from the airline attendants, from my wife, seated across the aisle. I looked at Moriah’s face, red with anger, and imagined how frustrated she must feel. After all, wasn’t I the guy who could whip up a peanut butter sandwich on demand? Make huge purple dinosaurs appear with the flip of a TV switch? Why was I withholding her favorite toy from her? Didn’t I understand how much she wanted it?

I felt bad. Then it dawned on me: I couldn’t get Zebra, but I could offer her the next best thing — a father’s comfort. “You wish you had Zebra now,” I said to her. “Yeah,” she said sadly.

“And you’re angry because we can’t get him for you.”

“Yeah.”

“You wish you could have Zebra right now,” I repeated, as she stared at me, looking rather curious, almost surprised. “Yeah,” she muttered. “I want him now.”

“You’re tired now, and smelling Zebra and cuddling with him would feel real good. I wish we had Zebra here so you could hold him. Even better, I wish we could get out of these seats and find a big, soft bed full of all your animals and pillows where we could just lie down.” “Yeah,” she agreed.

“We can’t get Zebra because he’s in another part of the airplane,” I said. “That makes you feel frustrated.” “Yeah,” she said with a sigh.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, watching the tension leave her face. She rested her head against the back of her safety seat. She continued to complain softly a few more times, but she was growing calmer. Within a few minutes, she was asleep.

Although Moriah was just two years old, she clearly knew what she wanted — her Zebra. Once she began to realize that getting it wasn’t possible, she wasn’t interested in my excuses, my arguments, or my diversions. My validation, however, was another matter. Finding out that I understood how she felt seemed to make her feel better. For me, it was a memorable testament to the power of empathy.”


Sam Keen describes a friend’s lament about the consequences of not listening deeply: “Long ago and far away, I expected love to be light and easy and without failure.

“Before we moved in together, we negotiated a prenuptial agreement. Neither of us had been married before, and we were both involved in our separate careers. So our agreement not to have children suited us both. Until… on the night she announced that her period was late and she was probably pregnant, we both treated the matter as an embarrassing accident with which we would have to deal. Why us? Why now? Without much discussion, we assumed we would do the rational thing — get an abortion. As the time approached, she began to play with hypothetical alternatives, to ask in a plaintive voice with half misty eyes: `Maybe we should keep the baby. Maybe we could get a live-in helper, and it wouldn’t interrupt our lives too much. Maybe I could even quit my job and be a full-time mother for a few years.`  ”

“Maybe . . .“ To each maybe I answered: “Be realistic. Neither of us is willing to make the sacrifices to raise a child.“ She allowed herself to be convinced, silenced the voice of her irrational hopes and dreams, and terminated the pregnancy.

“It has been many years now since our `decision,` and we are still together and busy with our careers and our relationship. Still no children, even though we have recently been trying to get pregnant. I can’t help noticing that she suffers from spells of regret and guilt, and a certain mood of sadness settles over her. At times I know she longs for her missing child and imagines what he or she would be doing now. I reassure her that we did the right thing. But when I see her lingering guilt and pain and her worry that she missed her one chance to become a mother, I feel that I failed an important test of love. Because my mind had been closed to anything that would interrupt my plans for the future, I had listened to her without deep empathy or compassion. I’m no longer sure we made the right decision. I am sure that in refusing to enter into her agony, to share the pain of her ambivalence, I betrayed her.”

“I have asked for and, I think, received forgiveness, but there remains a scar that was caused by my insensitivity and self-absorption.”

Workbook editor’s note: I have not included this real life excerpt to make a point for or against abortion. The lesson I draw from this story is thatwhatever decision this couple made, they would have been able to live with that decision better if the husband had listened in a way that acknowledged all his wife’s feelings rather than listening only to argue her out of her feelings. What lesson do you draw from this story? ]


First exercise for Challenge 1: Active Listening. Find a practice partner. Take turns telling events from your lives. As you listen to your practice partner, sum up your practice partner’s overall experience and feelings in brief responses during the telling:

Your notes on this exercise:











Second exercise for Challenge 1: Learning from the past with the tools of the present. Think of one or more conversations in your life that went badly. Imagine how the conversations might have gone better with more responsive listening. Write down your alternative version of the conversation.











Suggestions for reading on the topic of listening.

The Power of Listening – An Ancient Practice for Our Future: Leon Berg

Free Article:   Tell Me More an essay by Brenda Ueland, explores the transformative power of listening to friends and familiy members:

“I want to write about the great and powerful thing that listening is. And how we forget it. And how we don’t listen to our children, or those we love. And least of all — which is so important too — to those we do not love. But we should. Because listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. Think how the friends that really listen to us are the ones we move toward, and we want to sit in their radius as though it did us good, like ultraviolet rays.”

Free Article:   Positive Deviant  is a magazine article about the transformative power of deep listening, as it occurred in a program to reduce child malnutrition in Vietnam.  It is one of the clearest examples I have ever read of what is now called “appreciative inquiry,” which advocates that helpers pay disciplined and systematic attention to the strengths, capacities and past successes of those people they wish to help.

Free Collection of Articles:   Compassionate Listening: An Exploratory Sourcebook About Conflict Transformation.

[from the editor] Forms of compassionate listening have been practiced among Quakers and Buddhists for centuries, and among psychotherapists for decades. The late Gene Knudsen Hoffman (1919 – 2010) was both a Quaker peace activist and a pastoral counselor, and in my view she achieved two great things over the course of her life. First, she took the practice of compassionate listening out of the quiet environs of the Quaker meeting house, out from behind the closed doors of therapy session, and on to the stage of the world’s greatest conflicts. Her many trips to Russia and the Middle East have made her a legend in the peacemaking community. Second, she popularized compassionate listening in a generous way that invites and encourages other people to take up this practice, develop it and apply it in new areas. This small book is an expression of that generosity. Available for free around the world as an e-book, it includes both her lesson plans for Compassionate Listening Workshops and reports from Leah Green and Cynthia Monroe, two of her co-pioneers and creative colleagues.


Books: The following books can be found around the world, new and used, via the links below provided by the Global Find-A-Book service of Human Development Books, the publsher of this Seven Challenges Workbook. Click on the book titles below to bring up a Global Find-A-Book page for each title.

Are You Really Listening?: Keys to Successful Communication 
By Paul J. Donoghue, PhD, and Mary E. Siegel, PhD.

Listening is an essential skill worth every effort to learn and to master. Listening takes us out of our tendency toward self-absorption and self-protection. It opens us to the world around us and to the persons who matter most to us. When we listen, we learn, we grow, and we are nourished.

Why do we often feel cut off when speaking to the people closest to us? What is it that keeps so many of us from really listening? Practicing psychotherapists, Donoghue and Siegel answer these questions and more in this thoughtful, witty, and helpful look at the reasons why people don’t listen. Filled with vivid examples that clearly demonstrate easy-to-learn listening techniques, Are You Really Listening? is a guide to the secrets and joys of listening and being listened to. [From the publisher, Sorin Books] List price new, appx. $16.  ISBN: 1893732886.

The Zen of Listening:
Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction 

By Rebecca Z. Shafir.

What do family members, coworkers, and friends want most but seldom get? Your undivided attention. Poor listening can be a cause of divorce, depression, customer dissatisfaction, low grades, and other ills. This Zen-based, practical guide will help you build relationships, sharpen concentration, create loyal clients, strengthen negotiating skills, hear what others miss, and get them to hear.[From the publisher, Quest Books] List price new, appx. $16.  ISBN: 0835608263.

The Wisdom of Listening 
Edited by Mark Brady.

In this thoughtful anthology, eighteen contemporary spiritual teachers explore the transformative effects, and the difficulties, of skillful listening and suggest ways in which becoming a ‘listening warrior’ — someone who listens mindfully with focused attention — can improve relationships.  Free of religious dogma and self-help clichés, the essays are inspiring, intelligent and accessible. [from the back cover]  List price new, appx $17. ISBN: 0861713559.


Permission to make copies granted by author. May be included in course readers.

Ottawa withdrawal management centre

OWMC – CGSO – Ottawa withdrawal management centre – Centre de gestion du sevrage d’Ottawa.

Many services and a great starting point for addiction services in Ottawa.

Admission

We do our best to ensure that our potential clients receive timely access to our services.Using a brief pre-admission screening questionnaire, a staff member will verify the recent drug use of a prospective client and whether or not withdrawal in our non-medical centre is best suited for the individual. Occasionally we will refer a potential client to a medical facility or hospital if there are significant issues which might affect the safety of clients and staff.

After completing the screening questionnaire over the phone or in person, if our services are thought to meet the needs of the client and there is a bed available, a staff member and the client will agree on a time for the admission to take place. At admission, the client will be asked a few more detailed questions face-to-face, and then be asked to rest in the observation area for further monitoring.
For further information or to refer, please call 613-241-1525.

 

Free Online Yoga Videos – DoYogaWithMe.com

Free Online Yoga Videos – Classes and Poses | DoYogaWithMe.com.

 
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Tracey’s energy comes alive as she teaches this fun, challenging ocean-side flow with two of her students. During cla…

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If you want more flexibility around your pelvis, you couldn’t find a better class. In 60 minutes you will improve the…

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It takes focus, patience and strength to move the body into the most gentle backbend. In Backbending From The Base, F…

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Whether your hamstrings are stiff or loose, this class will target them like no other. Perfect for athletes, runners,…

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Power Yoga for Balance
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In Ron’s first class, he shows you why so many students love his style. He’s a dancer, performer and massage practiti…

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Bend and Stretch
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As she did in her popular Twist and Stretch class, Melissa guides you gently through a series of lovely, effective po…

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Kundalini Yoga for Beginners
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Dawn’s lovely energy is perfect for this beginner kundalini yoga class. She introduces basic concepts that will help…

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Deep Release for the Hips, Hamstrings and Lower Back
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This class is slow, gentle and offers a deep opening for the muscles around the hips, lower back and legs. Its pace a…

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Drishti Flow
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Shivani leads this fun, all-levels class using the concept of Drishti – mental focus or eye gazing. How and where we…

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Prenatal Yoga Flow
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This prenatal yoga flow is slow and gentle. Lori offers lots of time to connect with your baby, calm your mind and re…

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Jenn’s soft, gentle voice and the rolling waves of the ocean will rock you into a state of deep calm. The gorgeous se…

 

DEPRESSION: An amazing cartoon strip!

deep … artistic … funny.

Rory

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.ca/

 

I remember being endlessly entertained by the adventures of my toys. Some days they died repeated, violent deaths, other days they traveled to space or discussed my swim lessons and how I absolutely should be allowed in the deep end of the pool, especially since I was such a talented doggy-paddler.

I didn’t understand why it was fun for me, it just was.

But as I grew older, it became harder and harder to access that expansive imaginary space that made my toys fun. I remember looking at them and feeling sort of frustrated and confused that things weren’t the same.

I played out all the same story lines that had been fun before, but the meaning had disappeared. Horse’s Big Space Adventure transformed into holding a plastic horse in the air, hoping it would somehow be enjoyable for me. Prehistoric Crazy-Bus Death Ride was just smashing a toy bus full of dinosaurs into the wall while feeling sort of bored and unfulfilled.  I could no longer connect to my toys in a way that allowed me to participate in the experience.

Depression feels almost exactly like that, except about everything.

At first, though, the invulnerability that accompanied the detachment was exhilarating. At least as exhilarating as something can be without involving real emotions.

The beginning of my depression had been nothing but feelings, so the emotional deadening that followed was a welcome relief.  I had always wanted to not give a fuck about anything. I viewed feelings as a weakness — annoying obstacles on my quest for total power over myself. And I finally didn’t have to feel them anymore.

But my experiences slowly flattened and blended together until it became obvious that there’s a huge difference between not giving a fuck and not being able to give a fuck. Cognitively, you might know that different things are happening to you, but they don’t feel very different.

Which leads to horrible, soul-decaying boredom.

I tried to get out more, but most fun activities just left me existentially confused or frustrated with my inability to enjoy them.

Months oozed by, and I gradually came to accept that maybe enjoyment was not a thing I got to feel anymore. I didn’t want anyone to know, though. I was still sort of uncomfortable about how bored and detached I felt around other people, and I was still holding out hope that the whole thing would spontaneously work itself out. As long as I could manage to not alienate anyone, everything might be okay!

However, I could no longer rely on genuine emotion to generate facial expressions, and when you have to spend every social interaction consciously manipulating your face into shapes that are only approximately the right ones, alienating people is inevitable.

Everyone noticed.

It’s weird for people who still have feelings to be around depressed people. They try to help you have feelings again so things can go back to normal, and it’s frustrating for them when that doesn’t happen. From their perspective, it seems like there has got to be some untapped source of happiness within you that you’ve simply lost track of, and if you could just see how beautiful things are…

At first, I’d try to explain that it’s not really negativity or sadness anymore, it’s more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can’t feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you’re horribly bored and lonely, but since you’ve lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you’re stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is.

But people want to help. So they try harder to make you feel hopeful and positive about the situation. You explain it again, hoping they’ll try a less hope-centric approach, but re-explaining your total inability to experience joy inevitably sounds kind of negative; like maybe you WANT to be depressed. The positivity starts coming out in a spray — a giant, desperate happiness sprinkler pointed directly at your face. And it keeps going like that until you’re having this weird argument where you’re trying to convince the person that you are far too hopeless for hope just so they’ll give up on their optimism crusade and let you go back to feeling bored and lonely by yourself.

And that’s the most frustrating thing about depression. It isn’t always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn’t even something — it’s nothing. And you can’t combat nothing. You can’t fill it up. You can’t cover it. It’s just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.

It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.

The problem might not even have a solution. But you aren’t necessarily looking for solutions. You’re maybe just looking for someone to say “sorry about how dead your fish are” or “wow, those are super dead. I still like you, though.”

I started spending more time alone.

Perhaps it was because I lacked the emotional depth necessary to panic, or maybe my predicament didn’t feel dramatic enough to make me suspicious, but I somehow managed to convince myself that everything was still under my control right up until I noticed myself wishing that nothing loved me so I wouldn’t feel obligated to keep existing.

It’s a strange moment when you realize that you don’t want to be alive anymore. If I had feelings, I’m sure I would have felt surprised. I have spent the vast majority of my life actively attempting to survive. Ever since my most distant single-celled ancestor squiggled into existence, there has been an unbroken chain of things that wanted to stick around.

Yet there I was, casually wishing that I could stop existing in the same way you’d want to leave an empty room or mute an unbearably repetitive noise.

That wasn’t the worst part, though. The worst part was deciding to keep going.

When I say that deciding to not kill myself was the worst part, I should clarify that I don’t mean it in a retrospective sense. From where I am now, it seems like a solid enough decision. But at the time, it felt like I had been dragging myself through the most miserable, endless wasteland, and — far in the distance — I had seen the promising glimmer of a slightly less miserable wasteland. And for just a moment, I thought maybe I’d be able to stop and rest. But as soon as I arrived at the border of the less miserable wasteland, I found out that I’d have to turn around and walk back the other way.

Soon afterward, I discovered that there’s no tactful or comfortable way to inform other people that you might be suicidal. And there’s definitely no way to ask for help casually.

I didn’t want it to be a big deal. However, it’s an alarming subject. Trying to be nonchalant about it just makes it weird for everyone.

I was also extremely ill-prepared for the position of comforting people. The things that seemed reassuring at the time weren’t necessarily comforting for others.

I had so very few feelings, and everyone else had so many, and it felt like they were having all of them in front of me at once. I didn’t really know what to do, so I agreed to see a doctor so that everyone would stop having all of their feelings at me.

The next few weeks were a haze of talking to relentlessly hopeful people about my feelings that didn’t exist so I could be prescribed medication that might help me have them again.

And every direction was bullshit for a really long time, especially up. The absurdity of working so hard to continue doing something you don’t like can be overwhelming. And the longer it takes to feel different, the more it starts to seem like everything might actually be hopeless bullshit.

My feelings did start to return eventually. But not all of them came back, and they didn’t arrive symmetrically.

I had not been able to care for a very long time, and when I finally started being able to care about things again, I HATED them. But hatred is technically a feeling, and my brain latched onto it like a child learning a new word.

Hating everything made all the positivity and hope feel even more unpalatable. The syrupy, over-simplified optimism started to feel almost offensive.

Thankfully, I rediscovered crying just before I got sick of hating things.  I call this emotion “crying” and not “sadness” because that’s all it really was. Just crying for the sake of crying. My brain had partially learned how to be sad again, but it took the feeling out for a joy ride before it had learned how to use the brakes or steer.

At some point during this phase, I was crying on the kitchen floor for no reason. As was common practice during bouts of floor-crying, I was staring straight ahead at nothing in particular and feeling sort of weird about myself. Then, through the film of tears and nothingness, I spotted a tiny, shriveled piece of corn under the refrigerator.

I don’t claim to know why this happened, but when I saw the piece of corn, something snapped. And then that thing twisted through a few permutations of logic that I don’t understand, and produced the most confusing bout of uncontrollable, debilitating laughter that I have ever experienced.

I had absolutely no idea what was going on.

My brain had apparently been storing every unfelt scrap of happiness from the last nineteen months, and it had impulsively decided to unleash all of it at once in what would appear to be an act of vengeance.

That piece of corn is the funniest thing I have ever seen, and I cannot explain to anyone why it’s funny. don’t even know why. If someone ever asks me “what was the exact moment where things started to feel slightly less shitty?” instead of telling a nice, heartwarming story about the support of the people who loved and believed in me, I’m going to have to tell them about the piece of corn. And then I’m going to have to try to explain that no, really, it was funny. Because, see, the way the corn was sitting on the floor… it was so alone… and it was just sitting there! And no matter how I explain it, I’ll get the same, confused look. So maybe I’ll try to show them the piece of corn – to see if they get it. They won’t. Things will get even weirder.

Anyway, I wanted to end this on a hopeful, positive note, but, seeing as how my sense of hope and positivity is still shrouded in a thick layer of feeling like hope and positivity are bullshit, I’ll just say this: Nobody can guarantee that it’s going to be okay, but — and I don’t know if this will be comforting to anyone else — the possibility exists that there’s a piece of corn on a floor somewhere that will make you just as confused about why you are laughing as you have ever been about why you are depressed. And even if everything still seems like hopeless bullshit, maybe it’s just pointless bullshit or weird bullshit or possibly not even bullshit.

I don’t know.
But when you’re concerned that the miserable, boring wasteland in front of you might stretch all the way into forever, not knowing feels strangely hope-like.
POSTED BY ALLIE AT 8:55 AM 5000 COMMENTS  LINKS TO THIS POST
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Returning to work after mental health issues – Mental health – Live Well

Returning to work after mental health issues – Mental health – Live Well.

 

Returning to work after mental health issues

If you’ve had time away from work, or have been long term unemployed due to mental or emotional health problems, you’re not alone. Almost 50% of long-term absences from work are due to mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

People who have had a mental health problem and been out of work often worry about going back. Common concerns include facing discrimination or bullying, and going back too soon and feeling unwell again.

According to a recent report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists on mental health and work, “…many people with mental health problems fear that, no matter how good a recovery they have made, their symptoms will be made worse by going back to work.”

However, although work can cause stress to some people in some situations, recent research shows that for most people:

  • Work is beneficial to health and wellbeing.
  • Not being in work is detrimental to health and wellbeing.
  • Re-employment after a period of being out of work leads to an improvement in health and wellbeing.

The benefits of being in work can include:

  • a greater sense of identity and purpose
  • an opportunity to build new friendships
  • an improved financial situation and security
  • a feeling that you’re playing an active part in society

Going back to work after a period of ill health is usually a positive experience. This applies to people who have had severe mental health problems, such as bipolar disorder, as well as people coping with more common issues such as anxiety.

Returning to your job after taking sick leave

You don’t have to be 100% better or well to do your job, or at least some of it, and the benefits of returning to work generally outweigh the downsides.

If you already have a job that is still open for you, talk to your GP about going back to work. They can give you advice as part of your fit note. The fit note includes space for your GP to give you general advice about the impact of your illness, and to suggest ways in which your employer could support your return to work.

You may then like to arrange a meeting with your employer and/or your occupational health advisor. You can discuss anything that concerns you about returning to work, including your GP’s recommendations, and ask for some adjustments to make the transition back into work easier. Under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and the Equality Act (2010), your employer has a legal duty to make “reasonable adjustments” to your work. Depending on your particular circumstances, you might like to ask about:

  • Flexible hours, for instance you might like to return part-time, or start later in the day if you’re sleepy from medication in the mornings.
  • Support from a colleague, in the short or long term.
  • A place you can go to for a break when needed.

Access to Work

The Government provides support to help people with mental health problems continue to work, or find a new job.

You can find out more about the Access to Work scheme on the GOV.UK website. An Access to Work grant helps pay for practical support so that you can continue to do your job.

Looking for a new job

If you’re unemployed and want to get back into work, staff at your local Job Centre, your GP or your mental health worker can all give you advice about getting back into work.

If you have ongoing mental health issues, you can speak to the Disability Employment Advisor at your local Job Centre. They can tell you about the opportunities that are available to help people with mental health problems get back to work.

There are a number of different issues to consider and research when you’re thinking about getting back to work, including:

  • where you would like to work
  • what kind of work you’d like to do
  • what type of support you may need
  • your current financial situation, including any benefits you’re receiving related to your health

Full-time paid employment is not the only option available to you. There are a number of possibilities that may suit you, such as part-time work, or volunteering.

Volunteering

Volunteering is a popular way of getting back into working life. Helping other people in need is great for your self-esteem and can help take your mind off your own concerns. Plus, volunteer work can improve your chances of getting a paid job when you’re ready, and until then you can continue to claim your benefits. Find out more about how to volunteer.

Your rights and the law

Some people worry that when they apply for a job, they’ll be discriminated against if they admit that they have, or have had, mental or emotional health problems.

However, new provisions in the Equality Act 2010 make it illegal for employers to ask health or health-related questions before making a conditional offer of employment. Furthermore, it is illegal under the Equalities Act to discriminate against any kind of disability, including mental health issues.

Further information

You can also find information on GOV.UK about: