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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Fifty Shades of HSP

Too sensitive?

Are you feeling just a wee bit of empathy for that sad, lonely little pin? If so, chances are you’re HSP… and/or a marketer’s dream!!! Come on folks: it’s a PIN!  But if you’re like me: I had an immediate physical ‘sensory’ reaction.

[……. spawning an emotional backstory involving other pin-people that are greatly affecting Pokey’s life… and not for the better: he definitely needs a mentor!!]

And I’ll call my shrink: HE??!
Well, I can’t help it – and neither can you if this pic triggers your emotions in any way.

So many of you resonated with the posts on HSPs (highly sensitive person) and how it is biologically driven moreso than conditioning. Without a mainstream understanding of this, many of you – us – have felt “different”: flawed, lacking; confused by our heightened sensories; painfully suppressing emotions; labelled introverted, shy, weak, wimpy or the incredibly condescending: OH, YOU’RE JUST TOO SENSITIVE!!! You just might be über sensitive, but that’s your calling-card: part of your identity to develop and use to your greatest life.

What’s really interesting, both from blog comments and conversations I have in general, is the number of folks that need their self-image and life to fit into a perfectly defined BOX with the duly assigned bow. Case in point, this comment in an email “Kelly2.0” wrote me:

“I thought I was right-brain, based on the criteria,  
but I’m definitely a list-maker and a planner– so I guess I’m not.”

And my client, let’s call him “Jack”, a very social, life-of-the-party type of guy, was puzzled – almost offended, when I suggested he may want to read a bit about ‘introvert’ tendencies, snickering disdainfully…

Me. Introvert. I don’t think so”.

Rather, Jack was convinced he had depression: because he regularly locked himself in his room for dark, quiet solace- often for days. Both of these folks had clearly misinformed ideas, and were looking at “definitions” far too linearly.

I'm with stupidI want to make it perfectly clear: all of these human “labels” such as introvert, extrovert, HSP, left-brain, right-brain ARE ALL JUST GUIDANCE – clues if you will, to help us understand ourselves a little better; to know that most of our tendencies are normal, and that there are other folks out there (like: MILLIONS!) with idiosyncrasies just as “crazy” as yours and mine! Naming characteristics and behaviours and “grouping” them simply makes it easier to communicate; and greatly benefits professionals to make some relative sense as they’re doing their jobs.  Just like rules: these “categorizations” too, are meant to be broken.

HUMAN BEINGS are on a gray-scale pretty much in every single thing about us: you might have more of something, less of something else; fit clearly into one group description, or fall flatly in the middle of two. I might be a “woman”, but I do not have the same DNA as any other woman on the planet Unique blends(if my parents can be trusted!). You haven’t the foggiest if I was born with a uterus; and my nether parts may biologically include a penis: am I still a woman? My assertiveness is chronically attributed to being a ‘fiery redhead’: there must be something pretty potent in Feria #74 – I’m a brunette! I have categorically green eyes, but their custom tones reflect colours from hazel to blue, depending on my shirt. (Sigh, my bio-family has called me blue-eyed my whole life!). I’m right-handed: but waterski and snowboard “goofy”*. I have 7,499,488,203 freckles. It’s summer: that could change.  My chromosomes put me in the general category of “female”, but as any other “female”: my own customized version. “Sensory” and sensitivity falls equally in the ingredients list of “being human”: how it functions and manifests for each of us will be on a gray-scale too.

As with everything in life, the golden ticket (as stated in the last HSP blog) is simply: AWARENESS. The more you know yourself, identify and respect your different shades, the better you can choose and navigate your path. Knowing you’ll never exceed 5’1″ will most likely save time when considering an NBA career (…and heartache… and your knees).  Knowing you feel pain and empathy for a pin, will most likely save time when considering a nursing** career (…and anxiety… and pharmaceuticals).  Having an understanding of what might be biological, what might be learned, and how to manage and monopolize on both gives tremendous personal power.

50+ Shades of You

READ ON: Kelly2.0 and “Jack’s” – AND MY
misunderstandings about “sensitivities”

 

Speaking of monopolizing on sensitivity…
Check out Ariana Page Russell and her “Skin Art”:
Use your sensitivities!!“My skin is very sensitive and I blush easily. I have dermatographia, a condition in which one’s immune system releases excessive amounts of histamine, causing capillaries to dilate and welts to appear (lasting about thirty minutes) when the hypersensitive skin’s surface is lightly scratched. This allows me to painlessly draw on my skin with just enough time to photograph the results. Even though I can direct this ephemeral response by drawing on it, the reaction is involuntary, much like the uncontrollable nature of a blush.”
Sensitivity at its most literal… but uniquely Ariana’s to use!

KISS of Life

Survival instincts.
Seriously, how did we get so off track?
Even the birds and the bees know to KISS: keep it simple, stupid!

Origins Movie

I’m loving a webinar called Origins: Deep Dive, a follow-up interview series to the newly premiered movie Origins which essentially asks the central question, in the producer Pedram Shojai’s own words:

“What kind of stupid animal forgets how to survive
in the very environment it evolved in?”

The movie and interviews have just been offered free to the public until Nov. 27/14. The movie and interview links are below. I will have the interviews in mp3 available here in the next few days.
[HERE THEY ARE! MP3s]

Pedram ShojaiShojai, who has a Master’s in Oriental Medicine and is founder of Well.org (and quite fond of telling us to “wake up!”) promotes the movie with this trailer tag:

“Who’s Hijacking Your Health?

We humans were once pretty bad-ass organisms.
Then something significant changed.

Today we don’t move enough, we don’t know how to take care of ourselves, and we’ve become disconnected from what makes us thrive as the super-animals we once were.

We’re getting sicker, weaker and more infertile. We’re spending billions on health care to stay healthy, and it’s not working.

Find out why. And what you can do.

 Cont’d… and MOVIE/INTERVIEW links. Click page 2

Depression Cafe

Embrace change.Life, please…
with a side order of dysthymia…

This week’s post outlined a typical path for learning about what happens when you have a diagnosis of depression.  As way of subsidy, here is a menu of TYPES of depression diagnoses; ranging from sneakily disruptive to life-threatening, diagnosing and dealing is your quickest and best route to living your best life.
Following is an edited snippet that proved to be quite thorough and user-friendly (based on the DSM IV, the “bible” of mental health diagnostics) from one of the hundreds of good sites available to explore this issue.

This post and links are for general information only; your mental health practitioner has the latest “official” diagnostic info relative to your interests. 

3 Common Types of Depression
and 3 Less Common

Here is a quick list of the 6 different types of depression:

  1. Major depressive disorder
  2. Manic depression (bipolar disorder)
  3. Dysthymic depression
  4. Endogenous depression
  5. Situational depression
  6. Psychotic depression

The three less common different types of depression (4-6) only differ slightly from the general category of major depressive disorder:

Endogenous depression is referred to on many sites, thus it’s inclusion here, but has actually become a defunct category, formerly interpreted as stemming from purely inherent biological causes (in DNA). Current research in neuropsychology can now link biochemistry with the influence of “thought”, connecting it more closely with situational depression. Biochemical changes are inherent in all depression diagnoses: some need management long-term including drug therapy; some short-term where talk therapy may suffice and perhaps adding limited drug therapy.
Situational depression, often called adjustment disorder, is a short-term condition that occurs when a person is unable to cope with, or adjust to, a particular source of stress, such as a major life change, loss, or event.
Psychotic depression is an extreme form of depression in which the low mood states are often accompanied by delusions or even complete hallucinations. Delusions can include the sufferer feeling guilty for something which they are not really responsible for.
Continue Reading→ 3 Most Common Depressions (page 2)

Diagnosis: Depression. Huh?

I don't understand.Following up on Harley’s personal story in last week’s post “Depression: The Immaculate Conception“, some of you have inquired about diagnosing depression. There are many approaches to this discussion, but if you suspect a mood disorder in yourself or a loved one, the best step is to seek the opinion of a professional: HUMAN BEING!! Specifically, your family physician or a mental health authority are the most common routes to start. Research all you want, but the earlier a diagnosis, the less stress in wondering about it and the quicker you can find an action plan. Please beware, not all GP’s have more than the limited med school education in mental health treatments, and while they certainly have adequate experience to get you started, they may not be the best resource for your entire journey. You can only trust your guts on what practitioner works for you, but rule of thumb: if at any point you are looking to abandon your actions to move forward, you should most likely check out a new professional partner… and keep looking until you find someone who feels like they are on your team!

Following is the classic information on diagnosing depression from a local mental health association: CMHA British Columbia division:

Dealing with a Depression Diagnosis

Whaaa...depressed?No one wants to feel unwell. Talking to your doctor or other health professional about problems with your mood is an important first step. But if you’re diagnosed with depression (or major depressive disorder, the medical term for clinical depression), you may end up with more questions than answers.

Being diagnosed with anything can be hard, but a mental health diagnosis can be particularly hard to deal with. You might wonder why this has happened to you and how a diagnosis will affect your life. But no matter what, it’s important to remember that you are not your diagnosis—you are a person that happens to be dealing with depression.

The medical system may not be the only way to deal with depression. You don’t have to adopt a strictly medical point of view—some people find it helpful, but others don’t. But you will likely have to work with people in the medical systems, such as doctors and mental health professionals, to access treatme
nts and other forms of support. This system is based on the process of looking at your signs, symptoms and test results to find answers. The first step is generally to clarify the diagnosis—what may appear to be a mental disorder may instead be an unexpected medical condition. The diagnosis is how health professionals organize the problem you experience. It’s the start of a process to get you feeling better.
Continue Reading: Why Me?…What the Heck IS It??? (page 2)

Who’s The Boss? Mind, Body or…

Lissa Rankin, M.D. has quickly become one of my favorite people to listen to in the area of integrative medicine, particularly as it relates to the state of our minds and thinking. She has a relatable attitude and light-hearted delivery of “new medicine” info that appeases both the impassioned and “evidence-based”  sides of my learning.

A physician, author, speaker, artist, and founder of the online health and wellness community, OwningPink.com, Lissa was discouraged by our broken health-care system; and fueled by a passion to determine what really makes people healthy and what really predisposes them to illness, her research led her to discover that patients have self-healing powers beyond our wildest imaginings, and science proves it. She took this new perspective and dug into the medical literature to study how doctors might better care for patients.  She is a leader encouraging the health-care industry to embrace and facilitate, rather than resist, collaboration reconnecting health care and spirituality, and empowering patients to tap into the mind’s power to heal the body.

For you skeptics and newbies to the idea of integrative medicine, Lissa  shares her scientific findings in her book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself.

Mind…Body…
Friends or Foe?

mind

by Lissa Rankin, MD

What if… I told you that caring for your body is the least important part of your health . . . that for you to be truly vital, other factors are more important?

What if… the key to health isn’t just eating a nutritious diet, exercising daily, maintaining a healthy weight, getting eight hours of sleep, taking your vitamins, balancing your hormones, or seeing your doctor for regular checkups?

Certainly, these are all important, even critical, factors to optimizing your health. But what if something else is even more important?

What if you have the power to heal your body
just by changing how your mind thinks and feels?

I know it sounds radical, especially coming from a doctor. Trust me, I was just as skeptical when I first discovered the scientific research suggesting that this might be true. Surely, I thought, the health of the human body isn’t as simple as thinking ourselves well or worrying ourselves sick.

Or is it?

A few years ago, after 12 years of conventional medical education and 8 years of clinical practice, I had been thoroughly indoctrinated into the dogmatic principles of evidence-based medicine, which I worshipped like the Bible. I refused to trust anything I couldn’t prove with a randomized, controlled clinical trial. Plus, having been raised by my father, a very conventional physician who made fun of anything “New Age,” I was as hard-nosed, closed-minded, and cynical as they come.

doc old

The medicine I had been trained to practice didn’t support the idea that you can think yourself well or make yourself sick with the power of your thoughts and emotions. Sure, my medical-school professors diagnosed some illnesses that lacked biochemical explanations as “all in the patient’s head,” but those patients were promptly and quietly referred to psychiatrists, while eyes were rolled and heads were shook.

It’s no wonder the notion that the mind might have the power to heal the body would be threatening to many mainstream doctors. After all, we spend a decade learning the tools that supposedly give us mastery over other people’s bodies. We want to believe that the time, money, and energy we’ve put into becoming doctors isn’t wasted. We’re professionally and emotionally invested in the idea that if something breaks down physically, you must seek our expertise. As doctors, we like to believe we know your body better than you do. The whole medical establishment is based on such a notion.

Most people are happy to function within this paradigm. The alternative—that you have more power to heal your own body than you’ve ever imagined—lobs the responsibility for health back into your court, and many people feel like that’s just too much responsibility. It’s much easier to hand over your power and hope someone smarter, wiser, and more experienced can “fix” you.

So true!

But what if…
we’ve got it all wrong?

What if…
by denying the fact that the body is naturally wired to heal itself and the mind operates this self-healing system, we’re actually sabotaging ourselves?

As physicians, things inevitably happen on our watch that science simply can’t explain. Even the most closed-minded doctors witness patients who get well when, by every scientific rationale, they shouldn’t. When we witness such things, we can’t help questioning everything we hold dear in modern medicine. We start to wonder if there is something more mystical at play.

Doctors don’t usually discuss this possibility in front of patients, but they do whisper about it in the doctors’ lounges of hospitals and inside conference rooms at Ivy League universities. If you’re curious and you pay attention—like I do—you hear stories, stories that blow your mind.

You hear people whispering about the woman whose cancer shrank away to nothingness during radiation. Only afterward did the doctors discover that the radiation machine was busted. She hadn’t actually received one lick of radiation, but she believed she had. So did her doctors.

miracle energy

They talk about the man who had a heart attack who refused heart surgery only to have his “incurably” blocked coronary arteries open up after changing his diet, beginning an exercise program, doing yoga, meditating daily, and attending group therapy sessions.

As I heard these stories, I couldn’t ignore the gnawing voice within me. Surely, these people couldn’t all be liars. But if they weren’t lying, the only explanation was something beyond what I had learned in conventional medicine.

It got me thinking. We know spontaneous, unexplainable remissions sometimes happen. Every doctor has witnessed them. We just shrug our shoulders and go on about our business, usually accompanied by a dull, unnerving sense of dissatisfaction because we can’t explain the remission with logic.

healing mind

But in the back of my mind, I’ve always pondered whether it’s possible we have any control over this process.

If the “impossible” happens to one person, is there anything we can learn from what that person did?

Are there similarities among the patients who get “lucky”?

Are there ways to optimize the chances of spontaneous remission, especially when effective treatment doesn’t exist in the standard medical toolbox?

And what, if anything, can doctors do to facilitate this process?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Recent books by Lissa Rankin, M.D., OwningPink.com.

 Heal yourself.  LissaRankinBooks

Why Worry Is a Choice

-By Deepak Chopra

conflict10

The demands you put on yourself can create more pressure than you know how to handle. Deepak Chopra has a series of articles and strategies to help you break the cycle of anxiety by changing the way you respond to stress, this included:

Anxiety is like a shortcut. When faced with uncertainty, the normal response is to stop, consider what might happen, and make a decision based on the best prediction you can make.

But the anxious person doesn’t go through this process; they jump right towards feeling afraid.

No one enjoys uncertainty. There is always a tinge of anxiousness when you don’t know what the future holds. But going straight into fear is the worst way to handle the situation because fear is almost never a good advisor. It blocks clear decision-making, and exaggerates the risks and dangers that might lie ahead.

If you are an anxious person, you need to stop making the leap into fear. But how do you do that? It requires a new way of approaching uncertainty.

Life is always uncertain, and until you can embrace this fact, you will imagine risks, dangers, and threats that never materialize.

Yet, suffering in your imagination is just as painful—perhaps more painful—since dealing with a crisis is always easier than waiting for one in a state of dread.

The Anxious Self

There are many sides to me.

Many spiritual traditions speak of separation as the real cause of human misery. Depending on your school of belief, separation can mean being apart from God, your soul, or the higher self/consciousness. But the terminology isn’t important; even the word “spiritual” isn’t crucial. What is crucial is that people are divided inside. One part of the self opposes another part. With guilt, the good fights against the bad. With anxiety, the strong part of the self is at war with the weak part.

When a situation arises that can be handled well, the strong part feels confident, competent, in charge and in control. When uncertainty crops up, the weak part feels afraid, helpless, and hopeless. Anxious people never settle this inner conflict. They are so divided that when they feel afraid, the weak part is “the real me.” When they are not afraid, the strong part is “the real me.” In fact, neither is the real self. The real self is beyond conflict; it is whole and at peace. So the long-term approach to anxiety is to rise above the inner war to find a self that is more whole.

What self-judgment really sounds like

When the self is divided and in conflict, there is always a hidden aspect of judgment against the self. Anxious people judge against themselves so much that they usually seek a stronger person to handle the uncertainties and difficulties that seem so overwhelming. It can certainly mask the problem for a while to marry a strong spouse or rely on a powerful parent. But finding a substitute isn’t the same as finding yourself. Anxious people are blocked from finding themselves because they quickly run into self-judgment, and this makes them even more insecure. Self-judgment is the voice inside that says:

STOP. You are good enough.

“You can’t handle it. Remember the last time you fell apart?
This time will be the same.”

“You’re too weak. Inside you’re still a helpless child. Other people stand on their own, but not you.”

“You aren’t smart enough. Other people can find the right solution, but not you. You just stand there looking blank.”

“You aren’t good enough. All these fearful things are a punishment. You deserve what you get.”

As you can see, to live with a divided self is misery and anxious people dread themselves more than their imaginary dangers. The main thing they dread is anxiety, of course, but anxiety is more than a bad sensation. It is rooted in the weak self that quickly jumps to conclusions. The first part of healing is to realize what is going on. The second part is to identify with the real you; then the war inside will be irrelevant.

Your real self is always present, but it’s masked by the trappings of everyday existence. Whether you recognize it or not, everyone lives in a state of separation, which means the divided self is the one you identify with. People with anxiety have a tougher time than others, but even the healthiest and most secure person is divided. If you weren’t, you would be in contact with God, the soul, or the higher self twenty-four hours a day. I mention this only to emphasize that moving out of the divided state doesn’t happen overnight. Any anxious person needs to learn how to deal with fear and panic on a day-to-day basis while at the same time never losing sight of the long-range goal: finding the real self.

How to Move Towards Healing

Escapism is healthy - sometimes

You can’t find something if you are looking in the wrong place. This holds especially true for the real self, because we all look for solutions from our divided self, and then we trust its answers. For anxious people, fear is actually a kind of solution. It provides a shortcut. It keeps the person vigilant. It gives the feeling of being concerned, engaged, and busy. And since fear is unwelcome, it drives people into all kinds of escapist activities. Every distraction from alcohol and drugs to television and movies is constantly available. It’s no surprise that millions of people would rather accommodate their lives to being afraid rather than seeking authentic healing.

Yet real healing does exist. Because anxious people are insecure, they need to pursue a path to healing that reinforces itself.

Outside help is valuable, of course, but anxious people tend to use stronger people as crutches; that’s where impartial mentors and counsellors can be extremely useful.

The trick here, though,  is to accept that self-healing is the only way. Once you can accept this truth, which is quite painful to anyone in a state of insecurity and fear, the next part is to keep reinforcing the process. Every day needs to be seen objectively as a step in the right direction.

The daily checklist to end anxiety

One method is to keep a simple daily log to track the positive things you did to abate your anxiety. For the sake of being realistic, it’s also good to record the negative things, but avoid the urge to become discouraging or self-pitying. Rather than keeping a full-fledged journal, which most people can’t find the time to sustain after a few weeks or months, make your log a simple check list, ticking off what went right and what went wrong. You can insert comments if you like at the bottom of the page.

Affirmations WORK!

POSITIVES

I stood up for myself, I spoke my mind.

I felt strong.

I had a moment of being real with someone.

I dealt with a panicky moment.

I started to feel anxious but it didn’t progress.

I felt optimistic about myself.

I had hope for the future.

I felt some peace and calm.

I survived a difficult situation.

I appreciated myself; I congratulated myself.

I felt worthy; my esteem was high.

I didn’t fall into my usual reaction.

I had a bright idea.

The world seemed like a safe place to be.

I felt accepted.

I didn’t cling to anyone or use them as a crutch.

I faced a difficult choice.

There is hope.

NEGATIVES

I didn’t stand up for myself; I wanted to speak my mind but didn’t.

I felt weakness.

I didn’t get real with anyone.

I suffered through one or more panic attacks.

I had a lot of low-level anxiety that didn’t go away.

I felt pessimistic about myself.

The future looked hopeless.

I felt no peace and calm.

I caved in to a difficult situation.

I criticized myself and fell into self-judgment.

I felt unworthy; my esteem was low.

I related to people who made me feel bad about myself.

I gave in to someone else’s negative views.

I didn’t feel safe.

I felt rejected.

I was clingy.

I procrastinated and put off a difficult choice.

I wanted someone to rescue me.

I kept wishing that things would get better on their own.

The key to breaking the cycle of anxiety

If you decide to include the negative roster, be sure to note if the items you have checked Take time for yourself.off are improving. Negatives can be useful if they show you what you are moving away from, but they’re not useful if you use them to fuel your self-judgment, since self-judgment is the root of the problem.

It’s key to have more positive events than negative ones. Happiness is built up by having good days, not by reaching for an unattainable ideal in the future. The same is true for being non-anxious. You must find it today, as best you can. By paying attention to your anxiety one day at a time, the hidden healing processes in your mind and your body can begin to work, because you are giving them a real opening here and now.

In the end, however, the best healer is the real self.

It is found by walking your own path: call it the path to self-awareness, God, or higher consciousness – whatever appellation works for you.

The methods for discovery have been outlined in all the world’s wisdom traditions. First and foremost, you need to make a real connection with the level of peace, silence, and security that lies beneath the turbulence of daily stress and strain. The most reliable method is meditation. If that seems unworkable, then sit for fifteen minutes twice a day in a quiet place, close your eyes and breathe. Place your attention on your heart and simply be. If you notice that your thoughts have distracted you, breathe again and once more place your attention on your heart.

This technique will accustom you to being with yourself. Anxious people misjudge being alone. They identify it with fear, loneliness, and insecurity. That’s perfectly understandable given their history of fear. But being alone is your ground state, the basis of your existence. It’s not your enemy. It’s not a danger zone. So take some time to undo the mistaken judgment that alone and lonely are the same. They aren’t. The doorway to a lifetime of safety, security, and self-worth lies at the level of the real self, and you were born to open it.

adapted from:
Oprah.com   |   December 31, 2010

Counselling: Who Gets It? For What? Who Doesn’t? Why Not?

Here’s one perspective:

Trends and barriers to getting folks
the counselling they need.

adapted from Psychology Today, April 2013
Susan  Heitler, Ph.D. with Linda McKinzie

Reach Out. Just Do It.For what do folks seek help?

The pie chart above shows what kinds of emotional problems led over 1500 folks last year (2012) to seek help from Denver’s Maria Droste Counseling Center’s 30 or more counsellors.

Maria Droste’s analysis indicated that anxiety and depression together accounted for the primary troubles of almost 40% of people who sought help.  What triggered their anxious, stressed and depressed feelings?  The something going wrong in their lives, MDCC’s staff believes, has often included long-term or chronic unemployment.

When people face a life problem, which usually is about the work or the love aspects of their lives, they typically first feel anxious.  Looking ahead they feel uncertain about what if anything they can do about the problem.

After a period of anxiety, which they may refer to as stress, people become at increasing risk for feeling angry, blaming others for their dilemma, for depression with hopelessness about finding solutions, or for self-injurious habits like drinking and smoking, and for relationship problems.

Note that the two biggest reasons people seek help are depression and relationship troubles.  That should be a heads up that internalizing our thoughts and feelings is a societally widespread problem, desperately requiring more life-skills training earlier in life, and a perspective shift regarding the freedom to be ourselves and speak our truths without fear of judgement.

It’s probably a bad sign that there’s twice as many folks seeking help for depression as for anxiety.   Depression suggests that folks are giving up on finding a fix.  This disproportion could indicate that people wait out their difficulties while they are anxious rather than seeking help in response to this initial distressed feeling.

“Depression is the leading source of disability in Canada at a rate slightly higher than the world average.”
~ Bill Wilkerson, Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health

For many folks, it’s only when they have fallen into a dark hole of hopelessness that they finally feel so bad that they reach out  for professional mental health services.  Better late than never, and yet that’s sad because often it’s easier for folks to find solutions to their problems when they are still feeling anxious than after they’ve given up.

Intake workers at Maria Droste noted another unexpected factor when they looked at these statistics for the past year’s intake records.  They noticed an increase in calls about relationship issues.

Claudia Gray, Maria Droste Intake Manager, said, “This year in particular, we had a lot of people requesting couples and family therapy for a variety of reasons.”

“Mental health disorders represent the greatest business and public health challenge of the 21st century. We must understand that. And in a hurry.”
~ Bob Lord, Chairman of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants

One of those reasons Gray speculates, has been the country’s economic downturn. “If couples are already struggling with insufficient communication skills for talking over their difficulties cooperatively and productively, and then you add the stress and struggle of economic and financial worries, weaknesses in communication become more pronounced.  Couples seek out counseling to help them find better ways to communicate with each other.”

Sue Kamler, Director of Maria Droste’s intake services, added that the calls coming in last year also seemed to be more complex. “For example, when someone called in saying they were experiencing depression and anxiety, during the assessment process we often discovered a history of childhood abuse or domestic violence. The depression and anxiety needed treatment, and at the same time it was important also to address their earlier issues of loss or abuse.”

Employees experiencing high work/life conflict have absenteeism rates three times those of employees with low work/life conflict.
~ Duxbury, Higgings: “Work-Life Balance in the New Millennium: Where Are We? Where Do We Need to Go?”, 2001

A recent study by compensation consultant Watson Wyatt Worldwide found the estimated direct cost of absenteeism to business is 7.1 per cent of the payroll, up from 5.6 per cent in 1997. Again, stress-related disorders accounted for the lion’s share. In 2000, the only year studied, there was an additional 10 per cent indirect cost for overtime, replacement personnel and loss of productivity.
~ The Globe and Mail, July 15, 2002

 Why don’t more folks reach out
for the help they need?

“Mental health is talked about more now than ever before.  With the high profile media coverage and analysis of incidents such as the Sandy Hook shootings, public forums such as Dr. Phil and Oprah, and corporate involvement to bring mental health issues to a more commonly recognized part of life (such as Bell Let’s Talk Day), it is now the subject of discussions at national through to community through to dinner table levels.

Yet only a small proportion of the people who would benefit from counselling actually seek it out.  Why??

Ms. McKinzie offers the following explanations for why many people delay seeking support:

“One major reason that many people, especially men, do not seek support and therefore needlessly suffer for long periods of time from emotional pain, anxiety, excessive anger, old resentments and depression, is their perceived stigma associated with receiving mental health care. They regard getting help as embarrassing, something others do but not themselves.  Better to grin and bear it than to admit that they need help.

“Another concern is expense.  Only one of the costs of meeting with a counsellor is paying for the sessions, which health insurance or extended benefits may or may not help to cover.  In addition, missing time at work for weekly daytime therapy sessions can be costly in terms of not getting work done, docked pay, and supervisor disapproval.  Evening and weekend sessions may require payment for babysitters.

“Finally, there is a documented shortage of affordable mental health care in most communities. If everyone who genuinely needs mental health help were to seek it, there would be far too few resources to meet the challenge. And, there needs to be more options for talk therapy readily acknowledged to meet both a person’s comfort level and financial level, such as community programs, clergy, and mentors.

“Mental health is fundamental to physical health as well as to experiencing life’s most positive blessings such as happiness, gratitude and supportive loving relationships.”

This was one of the key messages in the first-ever Surgeon General’s report on the topic of mental health and mental illness released way back in 1999. Now, 15 years later, we still have far to go in terms of getting mental/emotional/spiritual health support to all who need it.

What can give us hope?

Fortunately, there are more options being recognized for folks who are feeling that they just have to grin and bear it:  don’t know where to turn, think they can’t afford help, or fear the stigma of being labelled with an “inferior mind” or weak.  One of the most exciting new trends in our internet age has been the offering of SKYPE, phone and web-based mental health services in any form, from anywhere in the world.

The bottom line

Services are available far more broadly and less expensively than many might think.  If you are feeling down and out, mad or stressed, do consider giving mental health services a try!

When is talk-therapy useful?  Any time you:

Need someone on your side — someone who is knowledgeable

Are stuck and need help resolving a particular problem

Need coaching support to meet a specific goal, such as career, relationship or social

Have concerns about your relationship and want expert help to improve it, or to make decisions about the direction the relationship should take

Have a need for strict confidentiality in regard to your concern

Need a fresh look at your life and where it’s going

Are feeling depressed or stressed by specific events

Are sad, lonely, or anxious and don’t see a way out

Susan Heitler, Ph.D., is the author of many books, including From Conflict to Resolution and The Power of Two. She is a graduate of Harvard University and New York University.
Co-author Linda McKinzie, is executive director of Denver’s  Maria Droste Counseling Center.

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