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5 Facts Every Resilient Person Knows

By | Community Blog, Uncategorized

Resilience, or our capacity to withstand painful and disruptive life experiences (and even catastrophes), is taking on more importance than ever in the uncertain world we live in today. Surviving dysfunction, disappointment, and devastation in love and work has always been a part of our lives. But these days, the day-to-day news cycle seems to create a never-ending barrage of anxiety and sadness. The foundational belief that we live in a relatively safe, sane, and predictable world has been shaken to the core.

Let me be clear about one thing: Resilience doesn’t mean you don’t feel devastated or that you’re not affected deeply; it means you can handle the losses and pain life delivers, recover, and thrive again. For decades, researchers have wondered about resilience. After thousands of studies and years of research, we have found five essential facts about the quality of resilience.

1. Resilience can be learned.

We know that there are several components to recovery after a painful event: Remembering who you are even as life falls apart, having a strong support system, and being able to imagine life getting better even if it isn’t so great right now. Resilient people believe we are a part of something larger than ourselves, whether we call that humanity, nature, or give it a religious name. Resilient people know how to bend but not break, how to ask for help, and how to remember that who they truly are is not what happens to them. Rather than numbing themselves to their pain, they find positive ways to manage their distressing emotions and feelings: meditation, exercise, proper self-care, pets, family and friends, and pursuit of their passions.

2. Having a larger community base and support system builds resilience.

Years ago, there was a lot written on the phenomenon of “super kids,” or children who had every imaginable problem at home but who still found a way to thrive. The single quality they all shared was having at least one person in their lives who believed in them. It could be an aunt, a coach, or a woman who lived down the hall, but that person reminded them that they were more than the poor cards they were dealt. Research continues to support the theory that people with better relationships have higher emotional intelligence, think more creatively, and are more likely to ask for help. Being a part of a community also means we have other people to pay attention to, nurture, and remind us that we are not the only ones who are suffering and rebuilding.

3. The more we feel all of our feelings, the more resilient we are.

The focus on “being positive” has gotten a lot of press recently, but we are hardwired to remember painful experiences and negative events. We need those memories for protection. We also need ALL of our emotions. Repressed grief, anger, and fear lead to both psychological and physical problems.

People who are resilient know how to grieve their losses, express their anger and fear, and rebound from those feelings by going through them rather than denying them. Through doing this, they can truly embrace ways to find the gifts of compassion, wisdom, and inner strength that painful events have to offer.

4. Resilient people don’t deny their human responses to loss and pain.

We know many stories of heroes and heroines who have gone through unimaginable losses and come out with tales of wisdom learned and a deepening of soulfulness. It is easy to think they went through their experiences almost smiling. This is not true, of course, and it’s normal to feel like giving up, to doubt one’s ability to recover, and to wonder if you will ever have a night free of sorrow and sleeplessness. Passages of birth and death of any kind are full of excruciating moments, exhaustion, and momentary losses of faith in our own recovery. Resilient people can accept this as a part of the whole, and they know when to reach for the phone, grab an inspirational book, or go to the gym. They do this even when it doesn’t seem like it will help.

5. Yes, you can grow your resilience.

Since we have identified many of the qualities that cultivate and contribute to resilience, we can all find ways to grow, learn, and practice those qualities. Stress and challenges will not go away, but our capacity to mitigate their impact can grow. We can each learn to feel sadness and loss but not let them define who we are, rebuild our lives after painful events, and live happier and healthier lives.

We never find total closure; the scars become a part of who we are. As author Daniel Gottlieb said, “that’s what happens in our hearts. The holes do not disappear, but scar tissue grows and becomes part of who we are. As our hearts grow larger, and we learn that scar tissue is not so ugly after all, we accommodate what we had thought would be unendurable. And we realize that the wisdom we have gained would not have been possible without the losses we have known, even those that seemed impossible to bear.”

 

By Linda Carroll, M.S. via https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-resilience-accord-to-a-psychotherapist

 

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing a mental health crisis, please visit https://www.centermh.org/services/crisis/.

If you would like more information about the services the Center provides, please visit https://www.centermh.org/services/.

If you would like to complete a self screening, please visit https://www.centermh.org/services/self-screening/.

Anxiety

Changing Colors

By | Blog Post, Community Blog, Uncategorized

As supple greens turn to mesmerizing golds, the changing of colors and seasons can also bring a change in people’s moods and emotions. Some look forward to autumn and welcome the cool weather with a smile and a cozy sweater. But for others, their pumpkin spiced beverages are topped with a sense of anxiety.

These anxious thoughts and feelings can arise from shorter days and longer lists of what needs to be accomplished. Or, a sense of loneliness may begin to build due to less time scheduled to see friends. Perhaps there is a realization of the ceasing time to go on summer adventures. Others may have an unwavering discomfort and distaste for change altogether. No matter what an individual’s reason may be, anxiety can begin to take its toll this time of year. It can be easy to miss the true bliss and beauty of the season.

To keep thoughts focused and controlled, try taking a moment to identify what and why something is triggering anxiety. In anxious ridden moments, acknowledge those feelings. However, be careful not to let the anxiety take control. Get to the root and face it head on. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself a break and realize these thoughts and feelings are valid. Being anxious can be the body’s way of signaling that something may not be quite right. It is important to pay attention. Once the reasons become a little clearer behind why anxiety rears its head, it may allow for better preparedness the next time an attack begins.

If anxiety attacks become debilitating, perhaps reaching out to a professional or another trusted individual may help ease some of the suffering. Sometimes, it takes a little more than internal reflection to find a way to cope and overcome. It may be helpful and beneficial to speak about the anxiety. Saying the words out loud, even if it is difficult to identify the reason, could lead to some relief. This method may help in dealing with those anxious moments. With the help of another, there could be guidance and coping mechanisms which were not obvious alone.

The Take Away

The most important thing to remember is that support is available. Take a deep, steady breath. Be forgiving. Show patience to yourself and others during this beautiful, autumn season. Acknowledge thoughts and feelings to see if finding the root of anxious moments is possible – this may lead to an unforeseen solution. Reach out to a trusted individual if feelings of anxiety become overwhelming and incapacitating. Anxiety doesn’t have to be something someone must suffer alone. Even if anxiety is not personally familiar, there are sufferers all around. So it is important remember that a kind smile every season can make a difference.

Follow this link for additional help or for more information about services that are available www.centermh.org/services/

If you are interested in a self-screening regarding mental wellness, please follow this link www.centermh.org/services/self-screening/

If you, or someone you know, is suffering from a mental health crisis, please call 970.252.6220 or visit this link www.centermh.org/services/crisis/

Here’s to a happy and healthy autumn,

Ashley

Suicidal Thoughts

20 Things Suicidal People Wish They Could Tell You

By | Blog Post, Community Blog, Uncategorized

Suicidal Thoughts

Having suicidal thoughts can be a scary and lonely experience, especially if you’re afraid of being honest with others about how you’re really feeling. But it’s important to talk about and get support for suicidal thoughts — even passive ones. Because although it’s scary, it shouldn’t be shameful, and it’s certainly not something we should hide.

To get a conversation started, we asked our mental health community to share with us one thing they wish others knew about their suicidal thoughts. For those of you who may be feeling this way, know you are not alone.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Just because I’m feeling suicidal doesn’t mean I’m planning to take my life. I just need help.” — Morgan S.

2. “Understand selfishness isn’t what drives those thoughts.” — Marjorie R.

3. “The difference between passive and active suicidal ideation… I don’t want to end my life, I just have moments where the exhaustion is too much.” — Erin N.

4. “The biggest misconception about suicidal thoughts is that people do it for attention.” — Melanie B.

5. “It’s not something I can just snap out of.” — Valerie R.

6. “I am not the boy who cried wolf. These thoughts and feelings are real each and every time.” — Stevie S.

7. “It hurts to feel this way, I don’t enjoy it.” — Olivia R.

8. “The thoughts exploit every weakness, every argument, even every triumph to make it something it shouldn’t be. The intrusive thoughts torment you until all you can think about is silencing them and that thought is quickly consumed by suicidal ideation.” — Abby W.

9. “It’s so much more common than people realize. Suicide doesn’t have a face. It can be anyone.” –Kellyn R

10. “What I truly want is to be saved — to not feel like suicide is the only option I have.” — Abi T.

11. “If we could use a switch to turn [off] the unwanted suicidal thoughts, we would.” — Natalie M.

12. “My thoughts aren’t caused by others. It’s not their fault.” — Wesley C.

13. “Suicidal thoughts aren’t [confined] to a specific time of when they start and end. [For me,] they are a constant feeling that never leaves.” — Emma J.

14. “ It’s not something I can control. The thoughts come from nowhere and are nearly impossible to will away.” — Christina L.

15. “ Just because I smile and laugh doesn’t mean my suicidal thoughts are me being silly… My smiling is for your benefit so you can’t see how much it’s hurting me to simply exist on a daily basis.” — Monica E.

16. “It’s not about dying, it’s about escaping the noise in my head at the time.” — Meghan B.

17. “I wish people knew that when I seem distracted or in my own world, I’m fighting an internal battle. Some days it takes every fiber of my being to keep going and a kind word can make all the difference.” — Sean H.

18. “Working through these thoughts and feelings is hard, be patient with me.” — Becky B.

19. “I’m torn between wanting to end the pain and not wanting to hurt my loved ones.” — Wade D.

20. “I wish others knew that sometimes these thoughts are just as scary and frustrating to me as they are to you.” — Jessica L.

By Juliette Virzi via https://themighty.com/2017/03/suicidal-thoughts-what-i-wish-i-could-tell-you/ 

To My Newly-Diagnosed Friend

By | Blog Post, Community Blog, Uncategorized

You’re allowed to be scared. Finding out you have a disease that has no cure is scary. Finding out that you will be living with this for the rest of your life is scary. Finding out that you may get worse is scary. Having to explain to your family and friends that you’re never going to just get better is scary, but you can do it. Because you’ve survived this long. You’ve survived all the months and months of appointments and tests searching for answers and maybe it’s not the answer you were hoping for, but it’s an answer.

Yes, this is going to change your life. You may not be able to do all the things you had planned. You’ll probably end up spending a lot more time at the hospital and in doctor’s offices than you do out with friends. But it can also make your life fuller. Every time you are able to go out and spend time with friends you will appreciate it more. You gain this deep appreciation for very little things in life, like being able to go for a walk with your love or cuddling up with a child or a pet. Somehow I think being sick seems to make you love deeper. You may appreciate the little things you used to take for granted, like being able to cook a meal or read a book or take a nap or simply spend an hour laughing with a friend.

Yes, you may lose some friends. Some people just do not understand or become too overwhelmed with all your medical stuff, but that’s OK. Because the friends who stay, the friends who keep texting you even when you don’t answer for days, the friends who want to know all about your life and don’t mind listening to you vent, the people who don’t care that you can’t come hang out with them because that’s what text messages and FaceTime are for, the friends who when you tell them what illnesses you have Google it and find out as much as they can about it because they care about you and want to know, the friends who refuse to let you push them out — they are the ones who matter. They are the ones who will still be there when the dust settles.

I’ve honestly been amazed at the support I’ve gotten from people in my life. My friendships have become so much more important and special. I’ve truly learned that I have been blessed with so many amazing people in my life. Getting diagnosed with rare diseases isn’t really the easiest way to find out who your true friends are, but it’s certainly effective.

Having a rare disease gives you a chance to make new friends, too. There’s this whole world out there of people just like you who are living life with rare diseases. Literally a whole world at your fingertips thanks to social media. In the last two years since being diagnosed I have made some of the best friends I’ve had in my life. I’ve made friends from all over the world. People who understand me and what I’m going through on a daily basis. People who aren’t ashamed to talk about all the embarrassing parts of being sick. People who will make you feel normal. People who will make you laugh at the fact that you fell asleep on the bathroom floor for a few hours. People who also have painsomnia so they are always up for late night chats. I’ve learned so much about other cultures and other countries during those late night chats. I’ve also learned how badly I need to go visit New Zealand.

You might see the people in your life so much differently and appreciate the little things they do for you so much more. You may realize there are so many wonderful people in this world who want to help you, people who want nothing in return but a smile and gratitude. It can be hard at first to accept the help if you’re so used to being independent and doing things for yourself, but let them help. The people that know you and love you are feeling just as helpless as you are right now. They want to help you but they have no idea how. They hate seeing you suffer and wish they could take it away. So let them help. Let them come over and clean for you or come make dinner for your family. Let them take your kids for awhile so you can take a much needed nap. Because these people love you and they may need to feel like they can make a difference in how you feel. Plus, that’s one less thing you need to spend your limited energy on, so you can have a little more time you can spend snuggling with your kids or a chance to go on a date with your love.

Never lose faith. This one can be hard on the days when you are so sick and see no end in sight but I think it’s extremely important. When you are living in a body that’s constantly battling against you it’s so important you don’t allow yourself to get stuck in your own head. It’s not easy. It’s probably going to be really, really hard and you aren’t expected to stay positive every single day, but I think trying to find a small blessing in each day is so important. Before you go to sleep just think of one thing that was great about that day. Maybe it was just that you had some really good food or something your child said or did. Just find it.

Always look for the light because it’s always there, sometimes it’s just a little harder to find. To quote one of my favorite book series and favorite characters ever: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, If one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore

You might have some crappy doctors, but don’t keep them. If you feel like the doctor you are seeing isn’t helping you, find a new one. If you feel like your doctor isn’t listening, find a new one. The relationship you have with your doctors is going to be so important in your life now. So don’t waste your time on ones who aren’t concerned about your well being. Make sure you have an open-minded doctor. You need to have a long relationship with this person and the best ones are the ones who are willing to look outside the box. The ones who aren’t afraid of you because you have a condition but instead are interested in you and want to make your life as good as possible.

Do your own research. Don’t just trust your doctors to know what’s best for you. Join online support groups for people with your illness and learn as much as you can. Research the medicines they suggest. You may find information about treatments for your illness that your doctors haven’t heard of yet.

Most of all, just remember this is an unexpected detour and you’re allowed to mourn the life you planned. That’s normal. That’s healthy. But eventually you will have to get up, dust yourself off and start to live again. Your life will never be the same but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be amazing. On the days it becomes too overwhelming and you aren’t sure what to do, reach out to those who love you. Or find a therapist. Many spoonies see a therapist to help them deal with the loss of the life they planned and the stress of life as a chronically ill person.

But please, never forget that I’m here. I understand. I’ve been exactly where you are now and even if I can’t physically be with you, I’m always just a text message, phone call or a video chat away. If you need someone to vent to, cry to or simply to yell about how unfair life feels.. I’m here. I love you and I’m not going anywhere because when I was in your shoes, you never left me.

Mindfulness Practices in 5 Minutes or Less

By | Blog Post, Community Blog, Uncategorized

If I were to ask what you thought about while eating your breakfast this morning, would you be at a loss for words?

If you’re like most busy people, the answer would be yes. So much of our day is dictated by duties — household chores, work, child-rearing, commuting, studying, and social obligations, that we busily rush from one task to the next without being aware of our mental state.

Mindfulness is the opposite of being “mind full,” and it’s a practice that can greatly reduce stress and promote calm.

Now if you’re thinking, Great — one more thing I need to add to the to-do list!, consider this: Mindfulness can be practiced in as little as five minutes per day. Better still, slowing down and paying attention can actually improve your mental clarity and productivity.

Here are 7 simple mindfulness activities that can help you focus on the present, and leave the past and the future alone.

1. Mindful Hand Awareness Exercise. Grasp your hands tightly for five seconds, then release and notice how your hands feel. Keep your attention focused on the feeling for as long as you can. This is a wonderful exercise for getting out of your head and into your physical awareness.

2. Music Appreciation. Yes, singing along to your favorite song counts as a mindfulness exercise! Pay attention to how this piece makes you feel. What emotions do you experience? What memories come up, and how do those memories make you feel? Savor these emotions and see if they carry over throughout the day.

3. Close Your Eyes. Spend 5 minutes in silence while you appreciate your surroundings. Keeping your eyes closed helps to block out stimulation and sharpens your non-visual awareness.

4. One Minute Breathing. Talk about an anxiety buster. This exercise can be done anywhere at any time, standing up or sitting down. Start by breathing in and out slowly. After a few seconds practice the 4-4-4: Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. Let the breath flow in and out effortlessly. Repeat four times.

5. Game of Fours. Notice four things in your day that generally go unnoticed. For example, fire up your senses and appreciate the sound of children giggling while riding their bikes, the fresh scent of soap in your shower, your coworker’s hearty laugh, or the brightest flowers in your garden.

6. Turn Down the Volume. Society can be so loud and imposing. Between the endless ring tones and chimes of mobile devices, to the music in the coffee shop, we rarely spend time in quiet. Set aside 5-30 minutes each day and turn off the television, the radio, and your phone, while giving your mind the gift of quiet. After all, the most interesting moments in life are the ones you can’t capture in 140 characters or less.

7. Smile at Five Random People. Intentionally making eye contact and smiling at someone you don’t know can unintentionally make their day. Despite what the internet may reveal, civility and kindness never go out of fashion.

by Linda Esposito LCSW via www.psychologytoday.com