Depression Hints & Tips

Depression can be crippling, but me being the optimist that I am, believe that people can acquire the knowledge and skills to manage depression successfully. The article attached, provides baseline information about depression, as well as quotes that may assist you or a loved one in managing today.
Challenges do not have to be resolved in one day, as a matter of fact our challenges probably will not be resolved today. The question that we should focus on is:

What are you doing right now to live the life you want?

https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2017/04/04/20-quotes-on-courage-to-help-you-with-your-depression/

In your personal life…seek peace, not crisis!

In my work, I often sit down with people who are dealing with crises, toxic relationships, job/family stress, etc. We all (myself included) go through trials and tribulations, but what are you doing when you are not in the valley? Are you allowing yourself to let peace and light impact you the way you let negative energy impact you?

A byproduct of anxious thoughts is constantly prepping for the next crisis, stressor, toxic relationship, etc. STOP IT! Do not allow yourself to fall into a pattern of negative thinking about when the next event is going to happen that puts your life on hold or causes negative energy to invade your life.  This habit (yes, I called it a habit) is some folks default setting, seeking out negative people/environments consciously or unconsciously instead of seeking peace and light. Some of us have “chaos colleagues” that support us in perpetuating the cycle of crisis and/or negativity.  Take the time to consider these two questions:

Are you seeking to create more positive energy in your life, when you have the opportunity?

Are you perpetuating negative energy by focusing on the next crisis in your life?

Take time to appreciate that you have survived challenges in your life whether you created those challenges yourself or the environment you were interacting with, created those challenges. Appreciate your resilience in finding strategies to persevere through challenges, and celebrate your successful navigation through a difficult time.

A few tips for seeking peace and strength after successfully managing adversity:

  • Work inside out, what could you do differently? Blaming others is a barrier to change
  • Be present! Did you go through a crisis? Yes, and in this moment you are okay!
  • Reflect on your diligence in working through  the negative event. Allow yourself to recognize that you have leveled up as a result of this situation. As a result you are now stronger and more equipped to successfully manage your life.
  • If you have a history of moving from crisis to crisis, reflect on the pattern of events that lead to your involvement in negative situations. What can you do differently the next time? Are there chaotic colleagues in your life that tend to be involved in these chaotic situations?
  • Seek out positive people and positive environments to be a part of

Thanks for reading,

RJ

Grinding it out

As I take on more clients who struggle with severe clinical depression, there is something that has become incredibly transparent to me. The majority of individuals have already been to a host of different therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc.  and have been told to utilize the basic coping skills that people should try, in order to manage their depression. These may include, but are not limited to the following: exercise, meditation, or participation in an activity that you enjoy. There are numerous other anecdotal tips we as therapist, have been taught to encourage clients to attempt. Below is a link to a website with several other options as to how to manage not only depression, but also anxiety and stress.

http://www.adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress

My guess is that the majority of people who struggle with depression have attempted these interventions, or find it hard to find the motivation to get out and operationalize these coping skills. For those of you that may be reading this and have had the experience of some ignorant therapist (yes, I’ve been that therapist) giving the advice of  “Just go exercise” or “Just find something to do to stop eating so much”. I have news for you all, IT AIN’T THAT EASY FOLKS! I once had a client provide very meaningful insight into this approach that therapist and members of individuals’ respective support systems possibly have provided in the past. To paraphrase, this individual reported the following:

I want to feel better, and I’ve tried a variety of healthy and unhealthy coping skills to attempt to feel better. I know myself better than anyone, why do people have the audacity to feel like they have a better idea on how to make me feel better than I do?

I encourage therapist and friends to take a step back in your sessions and/or with family members and “Ask what might be helpful?”, rather than offering your opinion on how someone should operate their life.

Now to the tough part, assisting clients in identifying ways to grind through their rough patch or operationalize the steps to starting the change process; it is difficult, but achievable. Remember it’s a process, things will not fix themselves quickly. I encourage conversations with individuals who struggle with depression about recognizing where they are in understanding that discomfort will be apart of this process. For example, if you are serious about making changes, there will need to be a decision made about doing something different in your daily routine. Are you ready to commit to that right now? If not what are the barriers to starting the change process?

In my experience in working with individuals who struggle with depression, there seems to be a correlation between depression and the thought distortion all or nothing thinking. Please try to manage this thought distortion, as it is costly to the change process. Remember, in making a change to your daily routine, you do not have to move from severe depression to training for a marathon in a week, or even a month. Getting out of bed and walking around the block is a change in your daily routine, if you have been locked away in your home struggling to find motivation to complete tasks for several days or even weeks. To move from being paralyzed by depression to getting out of the house to go for a short walk, should be celebrated as an accomplishment.

Grinding it out is about operationalizing healthy coping skills that can cause discomfort and maybe to some extent, hurt a bit physically, cognitively or emotionally. Whether you are someone who is trying to manage a stressful day or if you are someone who is struggling with severe mental health disorders, grinding it out is what may get you to a place where you can gain skills to manage your difficulties in an effective way.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

RJ

 

 

Improving Emotional Regulation

It has been a long time since I posted a blog. I am still here, just been focused on other projects. I wanted to suggest this video, by Leo Gura. His website is Actualized.org and he has many other videos. I have found some videos to be useful, I would suggest at least checking them out. I have several clients that I have been working with that are struggling with emotional dysregulation.

Emotional dysregulation (ED) is a term used in the mental health community to refer to an emotional response that is poorly modulated, and does not fall within the conventionally accepted range of emotive response. ED may be referred to as labile mood (marked fluctuation of mood) or mood swings.

I have showed segments of this video in session, as a resource to provide psycho-education to clients who are struggling to make the connection between their thoughts and negative emotions they experience.

I also spend time in my Batterer’s Intervention Program providing education about managing emotions to reduce impulsive, self-destructive behaviors.  This video, titled “How To Master & Control Your Emotions”, does a good job of explaining the process of applying Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) concepts into his explanation of how to start a process of managing thoughts and emotions effectively.

I will warn you that he uses a small amount of foul language, but it is not to the point (in my opinion) where it is pervasive or takes away from the value of what he is teaching.

Thanks for reading.

RJ

Meditation Made Simple

watch?v=4NHuXUXBZDo

I was introduced to meditation approximately 8 years ago and believe in its power (maybe usefulness is a better word, I do not want to make meditation seem like some mystical art). Now, I’m not going to tell you that I have made a practice of it, but when I use mediation prior to bed, I have wake up feeling more rested. This video is an interview with Russell Simmons, talking with Google employees about his experience with meditation.

I have paid attention to Russell Simmon’s commitment to spreading the message of the benefit of mediation for some time now. He presents as genuine and knowledgeable about the practice of meditation. If you have the time, check this video out. Even taking the time to try to quiet your thoughts and still your mind for five minutes would be an excellent start. I am particularly interested in the reduction of the over-activity of our thoughts, it triggers problems in our lives by creating unsubstantiated thoughts/beliefs which may lead to behaviors that become problematic in our lives.

Thanks for reading

RJ

Recognizing Resilience

Over the past two weeks in my Batterer’s Intervention Program we have been discussing personal goal setting and measurable steps to take in order to complete personal goals. It struck me during the conversation that many of the men struggled with poor self-confidence (I’m sure some of you are like duh??? They’re are batterers, of course there are some self-confidence issues). Many of the men in my group are on parole and have spent more than their fair share of time incarcerated. As we discussed their personal goals, I asked them to share why they had not been successful completing goals in the past, that they set for themselves. I prefaced this question by telling them they had to take accountability for their actions as they reflected on past missteps. A look of bewilderment came across many of their faces. Many of them had never taken the time (or avoided the thoughts) to explore why they had not been successful on past endeavors. Furthermore, they struggled to verbalize their missteps without blaming someone or something for their past failures. Blame for not achieving their personal goals were placed on prison, women and parole officers to name a few. I concluded our discussion by explaining to them, that making steps to complete parole (or probation) and attending class consistently, showed resilience. I went on to explain to them that the resilience they showed in completing parole or probation could be carried over to other domains of their lives. Recognizing past resilience provides us with a template for accomplishing goals and/or overcoming adversity in the past. Building upon these skills can assist us all in completing personal goals we set for ourselves. Take the time to celebrate small successes in your life, it builds confidence, generally makes you feel better about yourself and provides a platform for personal growth. Peace, RJ