Tag Archives: Depression

How to Deal with Bullying

Unfortunately, many of us have been or will be bullied at some point in your lives. This can take a serious toll on your mental health and self-esteem.

Bullying happens when a person abuses their position of power or authority, physical strength or position in life to hurt someone else, whether that is emotionally or physically. This is done due to a need to boost their ego for personal satisfaction or even to impress someone else. The truth is that a bully has personal issues that they refuse to deal with head on, so they use relieve their frustration by taking it out on others.

So what can you do to stop or avoid being bullied?

It all depends on your situation.

In most cases, the best thing to do is nothing. This shows the bully that you are not affected by their actions. Bullies thrive off of making you uncomfortable and putting you down. So showing that you are not affected by their antics actually makes them lose their interest because they also lose a sense of accomplishment. Most bullies are acting out to get attention, so if they are not getting a rise out of you, they are likely to move on and leave you alone. It is also important to have someone that you love and trust to talk to for support while all of this is going on.

In other cases, it may be necessary to have a parent, counselor, or teacher get involved. You will know that this is the right thing to do if the bullying has gone beyond the limits of your ability to cope with it on your own.

People often think that if you remove what makes you different and if you conform to the norms of society, that you will reduce the chances of being bullied. But we must realize that those things that make us different and unique are also what makes us special and can take us far in life. So go forward boldly and unapologetically because the world needs you just as you are, regardless of anyone else’s opinion.

When A Family Member Has A Mental Illness

selfcareThere’s lots of information out there about different mental illnesses and how to find help or treatment for them.  But what is often missing is advice for you on how to cope when it’s your child or another family member who has the mental illness.  Perhaps you’ve connected this person with great resources and treatment is progressing as expected, but that doesn’t always mean there isn’t a ripple effect created that impacts you and your family.  Here are three tips for helping yourself, while you’re helping your family member.

Accept your feelings.  You might feel shame, anger, guilt, embarrassment, disappointment.  All of these feelings are normal.   It’s hard to let go of the dreams we have for our children or our families, and sometimes a mental illness gets in the way of those dreams coming true.  Maybe it will help to know that everyone in your position runs through a gamut of emotions; you’re not alone (even if it feels that way).  Sometimes life is challenging in ways we don’t expect, and in those cases, we just do the best we can.  Under these circumstances, advocating for your ill family member and taking care of the business of running your family can seem like an enormous responsibility at times, but remind yourself that anyone in your shoes would feel the same and that you’re doing the best you can.

Develop coping strategies.  There are going to be lots of things you can’t control, so get control where you can.  Whether it’s regular exercise to offset stress, or a monthly night out, or a few minutes with a book before bed, do what you can to impose a little bit of order and structure to your days.  Remember that you can’t give away what you don’t have; it’s important to fill your tank up, too, in order to be able to give your best to your family.  You deserve to have moments of relaxation, and joy, and peace, so create those moments in whatever way you can.

You may also need some coping strategies for dealing with your loved one’s behaviour, either at home or out in public.  Plan ahead for these situations as best you can, and remind yourself that it isn’t personal.  Don’t let public pressure or the judgment of others keep you from doing what you know is best for your family.  Have a plan in place for the unexpected, so you’re not derailed by a crisis.

And finally, stay connected.  Maintain a relationship with your partner; don’t let that become a casualty of the illness.  You’ll feel better if you believe that you have a partner in all that you’re going through, so keep that relationship strong.  Seek out support from others who can relate to your challenges or who are reliably there for you, whether that’s an association or support group, a therapist, or a friend or family member.  It’s hard not to worry about being judged for what your family member is doing or experiencing – sometimes people are not very compassionate about the struggles of others and worry only how it might impact them.  Don’t let this get you down or lead you to shut down about your struggles.  It’s not your responsibility to educate every thoughtless person you meet, but at the same time, staying quiet and not sharing your story keeps the whole topic out of conversation and continues the cycle of misunderstanding and suspicion.

Mental illness can have far-reaching effects on a family, but don’t let it define you.  Know that you’re doing the best you can in exceptional circumstances, have a plan in place and strategies to cope, and don’t let yourself become isolated.

By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

smaller for online-1

The Journey of Personal Transformation

moving-on-from-a-cheating-partnerPersonal transformation is probably the single most challenging and rewarding activity we as humans can ever take on. If you’ve ever found yourself riding the high of freedom from a lifelong concern, only to wake up the next day in the midst of an emotional crisis, then you will have some idea of what I’m talking about.

 

People wind up on the path of personal transformation for different reasons. Some can no longer stand to live with the pain of childhood trauma. Others live for many years with an inkling there is more to life than what meets the eye. Just like everyone, those “on the path” of transformation are motivated by the desire to live happier, more empowered and meaningful lives. However, those who walk the path of personal transformation have consciously chosen to acknowledge the inner obstacles to happiness. They have chosen to turn their relationships with themselves upside down until they’ve come to peace with every last part – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

During the process of personal transformation, step-by-step we trade the old, outworn cocoon of the personality we inherited from our parents, siblings, babysitters, teachers, authority figures etc. for our unique and irresistible authentic selves. As the process unfolds we experience a continual stream of new possibilities for meeting the challenges and opportunities of life, which are accompanied by a rush of excitement and renewed sense of purpose. We begin to catch glimpses of peace, joy, and bliss more alluring and gratifying than any we’ve ever experienced, and as time goes on we experience these states more and more.

Sounds amazing, right? It is, except for all the personality traits that make up our old cocoons. Make no mistake. We have invested a lot of energy and time – several decades in some cases – in pumping up these parts of ourselves in order to get by in life. We have become so reliant on these parts or our personality that whenever they want something we bend over backwards to give it to them. And since our relationship to these parts is more intimate than any other, they know how to hit us where it hurts the most every time.

The good news is, we are free to choose change in every moment, no matter how slowly it seems to occur sometimes. And by surrounding ourselves with an environment that supports us on the path of transformation, the old parts of us can gradually come to see that they no longer have to work so hard to ensure our security. In the meantime, it helps to remind yourself of the wise adage “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself”. And give yourself permission to sit back and enjoy the ride.

By: Kelly Pritchard

IMG_0022 (2)

5 Common Myths About Emotions

FeelingsThere are some colloquial ideas out there about emotions and mental health that we tend to carry with us. I pick up on them all the time in therapy with clients.  Try to recognize if you believe any of these…

1. Sadness and depression are the same thing:

Nope! Sadness and depression are different. We tend to use “depressed” these days as a word for “feeling really down because something bad happened.” However, there is an important difference between difficult life circumstances that result in sadness, and depression. Clinical criteria for depression includes various changes in behaviour and functioning, and consistent depressed mood all day, everyday, for an extended period of time. Sadness about aspects of life is healthy, normal, tends to come and go, and is often alleviated by crying or talking about it. This can be an important distinction for people who have been depressed before, as after a clinical depression, any sense of sadness can feel like a warning sign for depression.

2. If I let myself feel something, I’ll feel that way forever:

Nope! Your emotions will not last last forever. Emotions are varied and they also have a time limit. Even though it might feel like you’ll experience sadness, worry, uncertainty, despair (or any other unpleasant emotion that exists) I promise it will abate, or at least lessen in intensity over time. Identifying your feeling, talking about it with others, engaging in self-care and other coping activities can help to speed up this process.

3. I must. Be. Positive. All. The. Time.

Nope! You do not have to think positive and project positivity all the time. There seems to be a trend in distinguishing “negative” and “positive” people and emotions. Let’s clarify something: being “negative” is not the same as sharing and being vulnerable about harder (notice I didn’t say negative!) emotions. I hear a lot about “being negative and “negative people” in the self-help and social media world and I think those get equated (incorrectly) with people simply expressing feelings that are not considered “positive”.  Contrary to popular opinion, sharing vulnerabilities and finding validation and support about the tougher side of life brings people together – not apart. And it’s not negative!

4. I have ultimate control over my mind and emotions and should be able to fix things myself:

Nope! I think the way we blame people for mental illness has a lot to do with the perceived sense of control we have over our brains. But brains, just like bodies, need help to get better. When our bodies are injured or unwell, we consult a team of healthcare specialists to help bring us back to health. Similarly, in our efforts to improve our mental health, we shouldn’t expect our brains to be able to go at it alone.

5. Anger is a bad emotion and I shouldn’t ever feel it.

Nope! You are allowed to feel and express your anger. The problem with anger is when we express it in ways and behaviours that harm others (I.e. physically, or in emotionally/psychologically abusive ways), not the emotion itself. Naming when you’re angry, and taking time to allow yourself to feel angry and have it pass is healthy. Anger even has a productive side and can be a useful emotion to facilitate change, establish boundaries, and learn about yourself.

This is undoubtedly only a partial list of the myths surrounding mental health and emotions that are out there. Keep an ear out and tune in to your own beliefs to uncover more!

 By: Beth Moore

Beth Moore Counselling & Psychotherapy

Panic Attacks 101: How To Cope

sun-set-maldivesPanic attacks are tremendously exhausting and frightening experiences. Some people experience these rarely, while others may experience frequent and persistent panic attacks. Whatever your situation, here are some keys to working through panic both during an attack and before another one occurs.

 

1. Know what’s happening in your body when you panic. Get familiar with your physiological markers and symptoms for panic and know what happens for you. For example, some people might hyperventilate and feel tightness in their chest while others might feel nauseous and experience tunnel vision.

2. Remind yourself that your symptoms are not dangerous (read my other blog post here for more information). Once you know what it feels like in your body when you panic, you can remind yourself that you are having a panic attack and the symptoms you are experiencing are uncomfortable, but not threatening.

3. Identify your triggers for panic. Here is where a therapist can really help you to slow down the process and figure out what started the path to panic. When they happen again, you can take a step back and notice it.

4. Take steps to refocus your attention. If you’re feeling like you’re about to panic, or you’re in the midst of a panic attack, engage in activities that are soothing and that refocus your attention away from your body. Some examples: sing your favourite song, have a cold glass of water, start naming things you see and hear around you.

5. Use self-talk to help cope and calm down. A coping phrase might be: “This is just my body feeling anxious”, or  “I can get through this”. A therapist can help you make coping phrases specific to your panic and in your own words. Repeating your coping phrase is going to help intercept some of the cognitive triggers that lead to panic like “my heart is beating so fast I think I’m going to have a heart attack”. Once your coping phrase has helped to stop the other cognitive triggers, the anxiety cycle will begin to slow down.

You will notice that relaxation (such as deep breathing) is not included in this list. The reason behind this is that panic often stems from too much focus on your body and feared thoughts related to the sensations in your body. In other words, panic can occur when we panic about panicking. For example, if you try to do deep breathing during a panic attack, chances are this is what will happen in your head: “Okay I’m going to breathe slow and steady … My breathing isn’t slowing, I can’t get control of my breathing, what if I hyperventilate?” Notice how the thoughts became more anxious, which will perpetuate panic. In light of this, the best antidote to panic is learning not to fear it through greater understanding and self-talk. If you struggle with panic, try these strategies out and find a therapist who can help you further.

By: Beth Moore

Beth Moore Counselling & Psychotherapy

Emotional Sunburns

purple-beach-sun-setWhat is an emotional sunburn?

Think about your last trip to sunny Miami!

There, you are soaking in the sun, partying and having the time of your life.

Then, you arrive back to cold Toronto with a painful and blistering sunburn only to have to cover up in layers, long pants, turtlenecks, extra sweaters, boots and long down filled coats.

Your friend greets you at the airport and in his excitement to greet you after your trip, he gives you a big bear hug. Ouch!!!

Not realizing that you have a sunburn on every part of your body, you scream and push him away.

What did he do? How does he feel? How do you feel?

He had no intention of hurting you and did not realize what was covered up underneath your bulky winter clothing. Yet his hug still caused you to scream and pushed him away.

Most people are walking around weighed down with their emotional sunburns. These are individual areas of sensitivity. They are our bruises from our past. They come from past negative experiences; experiences with our family, friends, and lovers.

Many people do a great job of covering their bruises up. Often, no one can see them on the outside and no one knows about them except for you. Sometimes you may not even realize how the past is affecting you in the present.

Your partner doesn’t know about all your emotional sunburns and how they are affecting you today. Next time you have a strong emotional reaction of anger, sadness, anxiety or any powerful feeling to a situation that doesn’t seem to warrant it, take some time to question your reaction and determine if your response is triggered by the present situation or perhaps if it is triggered by a past experience or relationship. Stop and think of the reasons pushing your reactions and identify your emotional sunburns.

If your current relationship is healthy, strong and safe, start sharing your experiences with your partner and work together to help to see how your past is affecting your current relationship. Your partner can become more sensitive to your reactions and you will begin to realize that what happened in the past in not reoccurring again in the present and slowly you will be able to let it go.

Keep in mind emotional sunburns are more painful than your bad burn at the beach last summer!

If you are experiencing an emotional sunburn, especially one that isn’t healing, you may want to invest in working with a therapist to help identify and work though these past hurts. This might enable you to live with renewed emotional equilibrium, without being pulled back into the past.

By: Ilana Brown

IB

Overcoming Insomnia And Night Time Worrying

full-moon-purple-sky-223404Most of us go through times in life when sleep eludes us. Often times we sleep less during times of stress and many of us have chronic sleep difficulties that
may be due to past trauma, anxiety, depression or other concerns. Regardless of what the cause of your insomnia is, I often hear people report the same things:

 

  •  I just can’t turn my mind off
  • I keep thinking and thinking about job/family/friends/the past
  • At night time I just worry about everything
  • I start feeling anxious once I lie down to sleep

Although researchers are still trying to figure out exactly why we need sleep, it is
clear that deep sleep is one of our basic needs. If our sleep needs aren’t met, it
affects all aspects of our life and health. Here are a few tips to quiet your mind
and help you get a good night’s rest:

1. Try not to use technology in bed

I know this one won’t be popular since many people use phones/iPads/television
to distract themselves, avoid worry, and induce sleep. Unfortunately, our brains
begin to associate bed with activities other than sleep unless we’re only using it
for sleep and sex! Research has also shown that technology that emits blue light
(like your phone and iPad) tend to suppress melatonin and increase alertness.

2. Get out of bed if you aren’t able to sleep

This is also one that people tend not to like! However, if you’ve tried for about
half an hour to go to sleep to no avail, get out of bed. When you get out of bed
don’t do anything stimulating (i.e. no TV!). Instead, read a boring book under low
light, drink warm milk or sleepy non-caffeinated tea, or anything else relaxing that
will encourage sleep rather than wakefulness.

3. Make yourself a bedtime routine

Many parents do this for children to make bedtime predictable, and train their
children to wind down and get ready for sleep. Just because you’re an adult
doesn’t mean you don’t need this! Try each night to have a “wind down” routine
that works for you. For example: drink your sleepy time tea, check your phone
for the last time and set your your alarm, brush your teeth and wash your face,
listen to some of your favourite mellow music, and get into bed.

4. Use a mindfulness or calming technique

My favourite exercise to introduce to people with sleep difficulties is “5-4-3-2-1”.
Once you’re in bed and trying to sleep, this is a good exercise to interrupt your
thoughts or worries. Start by naming in your head:

5 things you hear (dog barking, wind in the trees, house creaking)

5 things that you see (my closet, the window in my room, my chair)

5 things that you feel (the blanket on my leg, my heart beating)

Once you’ve finished naming five things (you can repeat items as many times as
you need), start all over again and name four things. Continue until you’re down
to naming one of each item. Once you’ve finished the exercise, start right back
at the beginning if you aren’t sleepy. Take your time with this exercise. Say the
items slowly and calmly in your head, and pause between each item. Let your
eyelids get heavy while you’re looking around your room for items to name.

5. Listen to a relaxation tape

This can be a part of your bedtime routine to help lull you to sleep, or use it once
you’ve tried to sleep for half an hour. If a guided relaxation tape isn’t for you,
YouTube has a variety of calming nature sounds, or Tibetan bells that you might
prefer. YouTube for relaxation tapes is the one form of technology you’re
allowed!

Therapy is a great place to figure out a sleep routine that works for you. In
therapy, we can craft personalized relaxation tapes, learn more relaxation
techniques, and explore underlying causes of insomnia.

By: Beth Moore

Beth Moore Counselling & Psychotherapy

 

Using Stress As Fuel

1508603_562271617241727_784370639884440769_nOver the last 15 years, I have suffered from anxiety, depression and restlessness. 150 mg of Effexor
was part of my daily regime and for 12 of those 15 years I didn’t question the medication. I’d seen five therapists and accepted that I would always be “this” way.

So why change? In all honesty, I went away for a week to an all inclusive and knew I’d be drinking. It says on the bottle do not mix with alcohol, so I decided to listen (for the first time). I didn’t take my meds for the entire week and thought the anxiety was offset by the sun and booze. Acuna-Ma-ta-ta right? When I returned, I forgot to re-start taking the Effexor. I couldn’t even tell you how long I had gone without it before having a little anxiety “episode”. Only then did I realize my symptoms had not changed and I was med free! I had been pumping my body full of synthetics altering my hormones for this long and now what? My anxiety was still there and I chalked it up to a pity party of there’s something wrong with me.

Over the last 3 years I’ve been on this journey of discovery, and will be for the rest of my life. So far I’ve learned association is everything! What we associate certain emotions to, shapes how we react. We are typically taught that when we are “stressed”, feelings of anxiety and/or depression increase. We typically associate anxiety with negative, destructive thoughts. Sound familiar? Let me ask you this: How do you know you are stressed or anxious when you are? What are the emotions you experience? How does stress manifest itself with you? Some of us get chest pain, the shakes, excess sweat, the desire to isolate ourselves and the list goes on. These are emotions that we can all experience at any time and there is nothing wrong with them or us! How we handle those emotions is what truly defines who we are.

I think we have all heard of the body’s response known as “Flight or Fight”. When we are in a stressful situation our adrenal glands kick in, signaling the body to prepare itself. Usually, the go-to reaction is flight and we succumb to the notion of anxiety/stress being bad. But what if when we start to feel the chest compression and clammy hands we change our association to oh this my body telling me to prepare itself, to gear up and use this as fuel to push on? It’s our choice how to perceive that reaction. What happens when you’re on a roller coaster or meeting a crush for the second time? Similar emotions? I bet your perception of that experience is different though. How you associate the time of the emotions to the action changes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always in the fight mode. Sometimes I simply sit in front of my essential
oil diffuser and breathe deep. My bed can also be very persuasive. BUT, every time I choose to
use the anxiety and stress as fuel, I am one step ahead. I choose to think I’m fortunate to experience
anxiety. It prevents me from being a procrastinator. It enables my drive and fuels my desire to constantly be better!

I hope the next time you start to feel your throat close, you lose your breath or your hands start to shake you remind yourself these feelings are good! My body is preparing itself to fight and I will use this as fuel!

In Health,

Jenna Brooks

50 per

Coming Out to Family & Friends

Getting Over BreakupWow!

Congratulations on making this decision!  But isn’t it terrifying too?! Every experience of deciding to tell your social circle you are gay, lesbian or bisexual is different. It is also unpredictable. You may assume it will be okay because you have an open-minded parent, BUT there is a difference between being open to anyone else being LGBT and your own child. This can be a challenge for any parent.

I do not say this to scare you, but to prepare you. You will need to have either a trusted person in your life to talk to during this process or a professional to support you. This is especially the case if you come from a faith community or culture in which being LGBT is simply not accepted. It is important to keep in mind that this time is not just about you. Please recognize that you may be changing the perceptions and worldview of the people in your life. This will take time. Please be compassionate but ALWAYS expect and insist on being treated with personal respect.

If you have a family that is willing to work it through with you, you will need to create a safe place for the people in your life to say and ask what they need to in order to take this new information into their spirit.

Examples:

  • Your mother may wonder what she did wrong.
  • Your sibling may feel there is an important part of you they have never known and need to grieve this.
  • Your grandmother may worry about you and you being judged by others.

Yes, there are some stereotypes inherent here and it will be easy for you get angry. However, these are also real feelings and concerns for your friends and family members. If a safe place is created to explore this together, this can be a time to strengthen yourself and your family.

However, if the reality of your family is that it is not accepted, please remember that you deserve love and respect. There is support out there. I wish you love and light!

By: Lisa Shouldice

Lisa Shouldice

 

10 Relationship Issues That Can Benefit From Professional Counselling

toronto-couples-relationship-counselling.jpgHave you been having relationship problems with your partner, family, friends or someone important in your life lately? In life, complications between the people we love arise and there are ways to solve those complications through many different ways. There are healthy and appropriate ways to solve those complications and two of the options are through counselling or psychotherapy.

Sometimes we ask ourselves, “Am I the only one having problems with the people around me?” Everyone has different circumstances throughout life, and its common for most people to go through rough patches as well as periods of joy throughout their life. It is important for us to recognize that no healthy relationship can avoid conflicts! Issues are created while having interaction with people but that shouldn’t stop us from having relationships with others.

There are many different reasons to why we may not be getting along with the people around us. Have you gone through any of the following lately?

1. Trust Issues
2. Difficulty Communicating
3. Personality Differences
4. Money Problems
5. Life Transitions (Minor or Major)
6. Overcoming Grief and Loss
7. Dating/Lack of Intimacy/Ending of a Relationship
8. Parenting/Controlling or Needy Partners
9. Coping with Each Other’s Extended Family/Blended Family
10. Household Responsibilities/Toxic or Judgemental Household Climate

Sometimes, all we need is to chat things over with a friend or family member, or even have some time to think on our own about the issue. Other times, therapy is a great option to explore why we’re having relationship issues and work out skills and coping strategies so we don’t end up in the situation again.

In Counselling and Therapy, we learn to:
1. Recognize the problem, treat it and become stable (emotionally and mentally)
2. Develop skills to work out obstacles in a lively and appropriate way
3. Learn to listen, process, and understand others
4. Establish skills to say what you want in a assertive way without being disoriented by emotions such as anger or resentment
5. Develop full capability to realize how the other person feels and what they want

At KMA Therapy we offer different types of services for Relationship Issues, such as:

– Counselling for Relationships
– Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
– Relationship Therapy
– Relationship Management Counselling

If you’re interested in any of these services, please contact us and we’ll be thrilled to help. Have a great day!

By: Kimberly Moffit

Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Mental Health Professional

Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Mental Health Professional