Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day: For Those Who Celebrate and Those Who Mourn


Mother's Day is a holiday that is marked world-wide. Countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, China and Japan, just to name a few, give moms a special day shout-out on the yearly calendar.

Historically, Mother's Day has been a day where children and other family members honor mothers or individuals who are nurturing and caretaking in maternal ways. For some, it's a day of celebration, of expressing one's love and appreciation for a mothering figure. The day is met with happiness and a full heart.

However, for others, Mother's Day is not so easy. It can bring forth sadness, loss and yearning if one's mother has died.

Or if a mother has lost a child, it can become an excruciating day filled with grief.

Or if you were never able to have children of your own.

Perhaps, Mother's Day becomes a day of anger and resentment if a person hasn't had a good relationship with a mother.

There are many more examples....too many to list in this post. 

In my work, landmark days, anniversary dates or holidays of any kind can be especially difficult for anyone who has experienced loss, death or the recognition of toxicity in a relationship.

Of all the days in the calendar year, Mother's Day and Father's Day can evoke the most profound emotional responses.

To those of you who struggle with this day, know that you're not alone.

Give yourself permission to feel and think whatever may come from within.

It's important for your to mother yourself.


Monday, May 01, 2017

May is Mental Health Awareness Month



May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Though about 1 in 5 adults and children experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, mental illness continues to be stigmatized and misunderstood.

Learn more about mental illness, stigma and ways to educate others in my TEDx talk.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Universal Background Checks for Guns Lowers Suicide Rate


According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the suicide rate in the United States is now at a 30-year high. Another way to look at this is that every 40 seconds, someone dies by suicide. 

Nearly two-thirds of the 32,000 gun deaths in the United States are suicides, according to

the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control. Firearm suicides outnumber firearm homicides nearly two to one. Indeed, far more Americans die by turning a gun on themselves than at the hands of others.

In the United States, firearms, particularly handguns, are the most common means of suicide. About 85 percent of suicide attempts with a gun are fatal, whereas only 2 percent of overdoses, the most widely used method in suicide attempts, end in death. 


Despite strong empirical evidence that gun control reduces suicides, access to firearms in the United States is generally subject to few restrictions. However, a current April 2017 study published in the American Journal of Public Health is helping to kick nay-sayers for gun control to the curb - and save millions of lives. This long term study showed that handgun legislation yielded changes in statewide suicide rates. Specifically, data showed states with universal background checks had a decrease of 0.29 suicides per 100,000 people from 2013 to 2014 - nearly a 1/3 reduction in deaths by suicide using a firearm. 


Research shows the longer it takes a suicidal person to obtain a weapon, the more likely that individual will decide against dying by suicide. According to Dr. E Michael Lewiecki author of a paper on suicide and public policy, “If you have an impulse for suicide and you have easy access to a gun, you’re very likely to be successful at committing suicide. But if access to that means is not there, then the impulse may pass.”

Currently, only 18 states in the union require this simple and life-saving universal background check.  Learn more at the Law Center to Reduce Gun Violence. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tips to Build Resiliency


Resiliency is the ability to spring back from and successfully adapt to adversity.

Resilient people are often flexible in their thinking, endure difficulty with a realistic outlook and use the experience in self- empowering ways.

Experts are not all in ageement about how much of resilience is genetic. So the thought is that resilience can be learned.

Below are tips from the APA Help Center 


1. Make Connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.

2. Avoid Seeing Crises as Insurmountable Problems. You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.

3. Accept That Change Is a Part of Living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.

4. Move Toward Your Goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"

5. Take Decisive Actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.

6. Look for Opportunities for Self-Discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, a greater sense of personal strength even while feeling vulnerable, an increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and a heightened appreciation for life.

7. Nurture a Positive View of Yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.

8. Keep Things in Perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.

9. Maintain a Hopeful Outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.

10. Take Care of Yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

March 1st is International Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Awareness Day



Non-Suicidal Self-injury (NSSI) – is any deliberate, non suicidal behavior that inflicts physical harm on one's body to relieve emotional distress.

People who engage in
 NSSI usually do not involve a conscious intent to die by suicide, though many believe that people who harm themselves are suicidal. There are also numerous myths that surround NSSI, which create a stigma for those struggling with kind of coping behavior. 

Individuals who use NSSI are often trying to:

* Distract emotional pain
* End feelings of numbness
* Calm overwhelming feelings
* Maintaining control
* Self-punish
* Express thoughts that cannot be put into words
* Express feelings for which there are no words

Who engages in Non-Suicidal Self-Injury?

There is no simple portrait of a person who intentionally self-injures. This behavior is not limited by gender, race, education, age, sexual orientation, socio-economics, or religion. However, there are some commonly seen factors:

* NSSI  more commonly occurs in adolescent females.

Alexithymia is often a characteristic of those who struggle with NSSI.

* Many self-injurers have a history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

* Many self-injurers have co-existing problems like depression, substance abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder or eating disorders.

* Self-injures tend to have been raised in families that discouraged expression of anger, and tend to lack skills to express their emotions.


What are the types of self-injury?

* Cutting
* Burning
* Picking at skin
* Interfereing with wound healing
* Hair-pulling
* Hitting
* Scratching
* Pinching
* Biting
* Embedding

Treatment 

NSSI is often misunderstood, and those seek medical or mental health treatment frequently report being treated badly by emergency room doctors and nurses, counselors, police officers and even mental health professionals.

Finding professionals who specialize in working with Non-Suicidal Self-Injury is IMPERATIVE. With proper treatment, new ways of coping will be learned and slowly the cycle of hurting will end.


Resources

If you need help and are not sure where to turn?
Call the S.A.F.E. Alternatives information line at (800) 366-8288 for referrals and support for non-suicidal self-injury. 

In the middle of a crisis?
If you’re feeling suicidal and need help right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. at (800) 273-8255