Caregivers

The Mindful Pause

I am really feeling the benefit of peppering my day with mini-meditations right now and the first one I want to share with you is this: the mindful pause.

It's particularly useful for mothers. As a mother, your daily experience is of the craziness of multiple simultaneous demands on your attention, frequent interruptions, on-the-spot decision making, settling squabbles, switching tasks frequently and knowing what you do shapes the lives of your children.

Taking regular “mini-breaks” or moments to pause is necessary to regroup, recharge and restore the relaxation response in your body. It’s like a system reboot.
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Caregivers

Mindful Parenting in a Cyclone

Birds that survive cyclones fly right into the heart of it. The energy of it lifts them above the turmoil.

My teacher at meditation class recently was talking about our human tendency to get caught up in a cyclone of thought, of suffering and of wanting things to be something other than the way they are. Our minds want something to chew on and it is so seductive, so culturally reinforced, that we get sucked into the cyclone and lose our peace and equanimity.

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Caregivers

Responding to Humanitarian Crises

According to World Vision, more than 12 million are affected by the crisis in Syria. That is far more than those affected by Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, and the Indian Ocean tsunami combined.

Recent events remind us of a dark time in Europe when other refugees were denied haven and abandoned to fate. Once again, large numbers of people are targets of violence and trauma. After years of suffering, they have left their homes and everything they love and care for because life has become intolerable. They have endured a hellish journey to find safety. And then they have been greeted by faces and hearts of stone.

Thankfully, it seems that voices of compassion are prevailing and refugees are being allowed to proceed to refuge, as international law guarantees civilians fleeing war.

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Caregivers

Is Your Therapist Helping You Enough?

Is your weekly appointment just a time to vent? What do you do when your therapy seems to be going nowhere?

Chances are you came to therapy because you wanted something you felt you couldn’t achieve on your own. You were unhappy or discouraged; maybe you felt hopeless about your career or relationship. You sought change. So you searched for a therapist, paid your hard-earned money, and started examining your life.
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Brain and Behavior

Surviving Abuse: Rejecting the Scarcity Lie

Survivors of abuse often live a life plagued with scarcity. We were taught at a young age that we weren’t enough, there wasn’t enough and life would not provide enough for us in the future. When we suffer financial abuse or trafficking, things are often worse. We can believe we have a finite worth, we are a commodity, and we have already expended that worth. All these beliefs leave very little hope for an abundant future.

My relationship with money has been a struggle for my entire life. I always made enough to survive when I worked in the corporate world. As I have started working for myself, I have come face-to-face with my monetary dysfunction. The lack of stability, the self-doubt and the intense commitment required make it scary on the good days.

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Caregivers

10 Signs You Need a New Therapist

If you are in counseling now or consider seeking a therapist in the future, it is important to choose a counselor who is the right fit for you. I am always saddened to hear of an individual or couple giving up on counseling after one bad experience. Therapists are each unique in their specific approaches and you deserve one who is qualified to meet your needs.

Here are a few signs that you may need a new therapist.
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Bipolar

Destigmatizing Dependence in Therapy

When I wrote my first article years ago about the power of psychotherapy, I was stunned by the reaction. Seventy-five percent was positive, but a very vocal minority attacked me viciously for either not having cured the patient or promoting a pathological dependence. They reasoned that had the patient received proper therapy she would not have needed anyone to solve her problems.

I was treating a woman for bipolar disorder with mood-stabilizing medication and monthly to bi-monthly psychotherapy. Her cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist referred her because she couldn’t get out of bed. She didn’t want to need medication.
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Caregivers

Why You Should Always Get a Second Opinion

When you are diagnosed with an illness, especially when you have a mental health condition, you should always get a second opinion. Or a third. Or a fourth. Get as many as you can. The more you get, the more expert evidence you can collect as to what the real issue is.

As a patient, it's important to be as informed as possible about your own condition. It’s your body and you have to live with it. You decide how to react to your situation. Educating yourself about diseases and treatments and understanding your symptoms will help you to make decisions on what to do because, ultimately, it’s up to you.

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Brain and Behavior

How to Avoid Being Hurt at Church

I consider myself to be highly spiritual. Just like many other people throughout the world, I go to church, read the Bible, and try very hard to demonstrate love wherever I go. Over the years, my spirituality has allowed me to develop a great respect for church leaders and the work that they do. Yet, I quickly realized that church leaders are human and sometimes they make mistakes. So, what happens when the people who you respect so much let you down?

Not all church leaders are manipulative or bad. In fact, I believe that most are amazing men and women who have a strong desire to help others. However, every individual, regardless of role, has imperfections. Sometimes these can result in miscommunication, hurt feelings, anger, and even a flareup of mental health symptoms among the most emotionally vulnerable people.

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Caregivers

How to Survive When Your Child Has a Mental Illness

There are times when surviving is all a parent feels like they are doing. From broken bones to broken hearts, we survive one crisis after another. Parenting can be difficult enough if your child is healthy, but if they have a mental illness it can be life-altering.

My son was 11 years old when he told me that life was not worth living. That statement started our family on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs for over 10 years. My son’s illness brought pain and heartache into our lives, but it also brought an awareness of gratitude. How I responded to his needs defined our relationship for the future.

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Caregivers

When Talking About Mental Illness, Words Matter

I was helping out at an event recently for a program called "I Still Matter." We were raising money to provide art programs around the city for those who cannot afford therapy.

Part of the promotional campaign was for an art installation called "Inside Out." Each piece depicted the artist’s inner feelings. Along with the artwork was a photograph of the artist and the artist’s story, showing that how you feel on the inside is not always how you look on the outside.

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Caregivers

Why Every Pediatrician Should Screen for Postpartum Depression

I feel like I should be on a first-name basis with my kids’ pediatrician. It feels disrespectful to call her by her first name, but with three kids, there are quite a few visits -- annual checkups, sick visits, my daughter’s repeated ear infections and my baby’s acid reflux. I see the pediatrician a lot, far more frequently than I see any of my own doctors.

Recently, prior to my daughter’s 3-year-old checkup, her pediatrician had forwarded an extensive developmental and behavioral assessment form for me to fill out. Following a string of questions about my child, such as “does your child run around in settings when he should sit still?” and “does your child have a hard time staying asleep and falling asleep?” came a series of questions directed to me.

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