Category Archives: Be Brave

Ambiguous Loss and Covid 19

Hello Friends.

Life has changed so much since I last posted and there are daily changes.

About two weeks ago, I noticed that I feel sad and overwhelmed when I wake up and then I thought “things are still the same, it’s not a bad dream”. This feeling is similar to the time that my son died and many years ago when my dad died.

I remember waking up (during both these events/timelines) and being hit with a wave of sadness and feeling overwhelmed and discouraged (similar to how I feel now) and not knowing when the feeling would end or if it would end.

I think many people have feelings like this now with Covid 19. It’s terribly difficult wading through an emotionally painful, difficult experience and not knowing when or if it will end. I recently discovered this is called “Ambiguous Loss”, coined by Pauline Boss, Ph.D., and Emeritus Professor and Clinical Supervisor of Marriage and Family Therapy, at University of Minnesota.

I was part of a webinar training based on her book about a week ago and I wanted to share some newfound insights. Ambiguous loss is described as “An unclear loss that defies closure…often times it does not have validation or clarification or resolution”. Boss’ research includes information from POW experiencing crisis from Vietnam, 911 families, military deployment, and families of loved ones with dementia. Most every person right now has experienced some type of ambiguous loss-losing connections with loved ones who are physically absent but emotionally present whether they are sick or well, people experiencing job loss or co worker relationship loss, and healthcare providers going into a situation where they can be at high risk.

There are physical symptoms of ambiguous loss including depression, anxiety, family discord, confusion, grieving, hope, hopelessness, shock but it’s important to remember all these symptoms are NORMAL. She identified the ways all of us can shift from experiencing despair to hope and I will list them below with an example of what I am doing.

  1. Finding Meaning- I realize that my family relationships are very important to me (how are we pulling together?) and connecting in some way helps me distract from the world.
  2. Tempering (Adjusting) Mastery-learn to hold two opposing ideas at the same time-I have a lot of anxiety listening to the news about Covid 19 AND I feel peace when I don’t listen to the news and connect with others or reach out to help someone else (be cautious to blame oneself or others).
  3. Reconstructing Identity-try to recognize how my roles have changed before, during, and after Covid 19 (separate myself from Covid 19 and don’t stay in a role that doesn’t work-working from home and doing therapy by video-“no shoulds”)
  4. Normalizing Ambivalence-and I love this one because my webinar had a quote “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -Tolkien   Try to acknowledge yours and others feelings, try not to judge yourself or others, and listen to each other. It’s actually kinda cool to think I’m sort of like Frodo and this is an adventure (I choose the word adventure instead of tragedy) I have never experienced.  Here’s another example:I want to see my family and friends, but I don’t want to get sick or get them sick.
  5. Revising Attachment-try to acknowledge how difficult it is separating social ties through social distancing and try to do new ways to strengthen or create other attachments, maybe through Facetime or Zoom or Marco Polo.
  6. Discovering Hope-I also love this one because Hope is increased through strengthening our connection spirituality. Whether you have a Higher Power or believe in God, discovering hope is huge and can comfort us. I know I feel comfort and peace when I connect with God by reading my scriptures, or praying, or listening to a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints General Conference talk. I have found life is so much less stressful when I connect with God.

 

I hope this information is helpful for all of you to manage this stressful time in our world which is new for all of us.

My hopes and prayers go with all of you my friends.

 

 

Isolating Together

Hello friends!

I haven’t posted for some time as I’ve been dealing with some pretty terrible neck pain along with our continually changing world.

The last couple of months I’ve had two sets (six shots each) of “diagnostic” shots in my neck to determine if “therapeutic shots”-shots of electricity to burn my nerves in the bulging discs of my neck will decrease my pain.

The last two weeks I’ve had these therapeutic shots and isolated at home on my bed because of the pain but I know not everyone is comfortable or ok in isolation.

I have many mental health clients that struggle mightily with depression; and isolation makes this worse. One thing that helps somewhat: everyone is going through this right now. If you struggle with depression or suicide thoughts, you are not alone-many people in our country or world right now are struggling with isolation and we can support each other.

Here are some ideas to stay connected during this time:

Join an online book club, watch live Facebook comedy shows, FaceTime your friends or family, get outside and go for a walk or a bike ride (isolation does not mean don’t go outside), read a good book-libraries have online resources too, visit a museum online, take an online course, learn how to speak a new language-there are many apps to discover, take a virtual national park tour, learn how to cook, learn how to sew, finish those crafts that you never had time, write your life story ( I wrote mine at 18 years old-there’s more to update!) scrapbook your photo memories, do some family history research online, call a relative you haven’t spoke to for a long time, and there are lots more ideas of things to stay busy and emotionally healthy.

I am adding a few ideas I have found online:

Taken by Surprise

Hello Friends! I hope you’ve had a great weekend!

A week ago when on vacation I had some odd-wig and then shaved head moments. Let me share them with you:

Our travel agent (Sharon) accompanied 9 of us on this trip that included her husband, daughter, and new SIL.

When we arrived at Ft Lauderdale airport, it’s 4am and a little chilly- I had flown the red eye wig less and make up less so as soon as we de planed, I spent a quick 15 minutes putting on makeup.

The whole group saw me during the flight-rosacea does not like me to wear makeup for 12+ hours so I was being gentle on my skin. But as soon as we arrived, I wanted to see Miami with makeup AND hair.

Outside the airport I rifled through my luggage to grab my wig, Sharon thought I was getting a coat- and appeared startled as I popped my wig on in front of her.

Several times on our trip I was either wearing my shaved head or my wig so it was pretty obvious.

At the end of the trip Sharon mentioned to me “it’s ok if you don’t wear your hair, you look great without it”- but I told her I liked my wig and sometimes I like my own head. I think maybe other people feel they need to give me permission to be myself. Another of our group members said my shaved head was “spunky, I really like it” although no one seemed curious enough to ask me why I wore a wig. Maybe they thought that too personal? Maybe people felt uncomfortable inquiring about my hair?

I don’t mind questions. I don’t however, wear a wig or my shaved head to make anyone else comfortable. I do it to make myself happy in my own situation.

I will continue to wear wigs or shave my head just for me to feel comfortable with me and my hair loss ❤️

Wig Travels

Hello Friends! I went on vacation last week and my wig joined me! I thought you would like to hear of “her” vacation and cruise!

Flying into Miami, Marion (by Jon Renau-my wig) spent the flight in a cozy place in her lady’s luggage, wrapped and tucked in a special box. Her lady traveled a red eye with no makeup and hair; but at 4am in the baggage claim-lady put on her makeup with the treasures in carry on baggage. Waiting for a bus outside the Ft Lauderdale airport Lady is chilled with some wind and Marion popped on her head with several human beings watching. Marion pretends to be a hat sometimes, she keeps Lady’s head warm.

Marion got her picture taken in front of Hard Rock Stadium hours before Super Bowl. Other wigs are impressed. She toured the amazing mansion of Vizcaya in Miami and looks fresh and bouncy as if she had not flown a red eye.

Marion got her picture taken previous to boarding a huge cruise ship as she did not look like Lady’s other hair.

Marion’s lovely locks waved in the breeze as the ship left the pier and did a big U turn in the harbor to maneuver in the right direction.

Marion toured the big ship and waved in the breeze as Lady sunned on deck with a bathing suit and hat (that fits lady’s head even with a wig!)

Marion spend the next morning relaxing in the room as Lady got a facial but she joined the ship for a great burger lunch and then after more exploring, dinner and a fun comedy show that night.

The next day in Jamaica, Marion stayed on the ship as Lady was horseback riding and didn’t want to lose her to island living but back on the ship, she rejoins Lady for dinner and another entertaining musical show.

The next day in Grand Cayman, Marion stays back because Lady is riding a wave runner and swimming with stingrays and for sure would stay in this lovely haven. But back on the ship, Marion and makeup join Lady for dinner and a comedy show.

Here’s another day at another island Cozumel; Marion relaxes in the room as Lady will be snorkeling and exploring a Cenote. Marion doesn’t mind staying back because she is happy with her new owner 🙂 and the Cenote has bats that poop so Marion is a little afraid of bat dung staining her locks.

The last day on the ship, Marion spends a lot of time with Lady because the skies are cloudy and somewhat rainy/windy and is not the time to stay on deck. Marion gets to see two movies along with eating a yummy lunch and early dinner. She watches karoke which sometimes is good/bad depending on the singer LOL- but Marion never looks bad.

Today as Marion gets off ship with Lady, she anticipates a fun outing to Everglades National Park -Marion finally gets to tag along!-Lady quickly tucks her in a pink backpack for safety during an airboat tour but she is back in place afterwards. She finally went on an exciting excursion!

Many people observed Marion’s on and off adventures and wonder what it all means but Lady loves Marion and they get along so well that they don’t care what others think.

 

TIPPs for Distressful Thoughts

Hello friends!

The holidays can be a difficult time for many people and sometimes those suffering can experience thoughts of suicide or self harm.

Here are some ideas to help if you’ve had these thoughts: I’ve coached many clients to manage these distressful thoughts by using DBT skills and it works very well!

When first experiencing suicide or self harm thoughts can be very painful and distressing, use the TIPP skill (temperature, intense exercise, paced breathing, or paired muscle relaxation)

Temperature-hold an ice cube or dunk your face into an ice/cold water bowl for at least 5 seconds.

Intense exercise-run on a treadmill or outside for 3 minutes at a full sprint.

Paced breathing-deep breathing -slowly count to 4 as you breathe in, hold your breathe for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds and hold for 4 seconds-repeat for a couple of minutes.

Paired muscle relaxation-starting from your toes- tenae every muscle group for 5 seconds and then release- moving you to your head and face.

After having done all of TIPP, people are usually quite tired and in a different frame of mind but just in case…get involved in an activity with a friend, do something kind for someone else, connect with someone who loves you… and always important: make sure you get enough sleep, nutrition, exercise, and medications if any are recommended for you along with meeting with a professional.

I hope these tips (haha TIPP) help anyone who struggles in this area. Know you are important ❤️

Taking Care of You

Hello friends!

I’ve been absent for a bit, I apologize for my delay. I’ve been contemplating where to go with my blog for a couple of reasons.

First, I’ve realized that many people that are influencers often give away or resell their clothes after one photo shoot…(that doesn’t really appeal to me. I love my clothes and usually keep a quality piece for many years so that seems wasteful in my opinion although I know I cannot judge others…this is just what works for me).

Second, someone I knew from kindergarten through high school committed suicide about two weeks ago, no one knew he was suffering, and I’ve been thinking how to help others that struggle or suffer alone.

I thought for a time I might focus on offering advice for others how to deal with life when you have difficulties that seem too hard to bear. I am a therapist IRL working at a mental health/substance abuse treatment center for young adults, and I feel terribly sad knowing that people suffer without anyone knowing or without resources.

Here are some tips I’ve learned while studying DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy-created for people with Borderline Personality Disorder but very helpful with people struggling with suicide and self harm thoughts.

(A past client of mine created a little flip chart for therapists to reference when feeling like we are burned out and one page I particularly enjoy is:)

LOVE YOURSELF LIKE A NEW PUPPY: Prioritize good sleep habits, Nutrition, Exercise, Connection with people you enjoy (add:honest discussion about what is going on with you), Focus on practices that promote calmness and well being, Meditation, Journaling, Talk therapy, quiet time alone doing an activity you enjoy. (These ideas are gleaned from DBT)

Many people struggle with depression, anxiety, or suicide and self harm thoughts but that doesn’t have to mean your life is not worth living. Talk to someone and let them know what you are going through and get some help. Speaking up can be scary but after that, the darkness fades if you share it with someone. The burden is lighter if you share.

It’s A Wigs Life

Hi friends!

Happy Wednesday

Over the weekend I had some fun at the wig store-Creative Wigs in Orem Utah.

I’ve been a little lonely ever since I got rid of my black hair, it is such a fun color; so on a whim I went to the wig store Saturday!

There were several women at the store who seemed to be supporting one older lady in a wheelchair. She seemed hesitant to get a wig although the one I saw on her looked so cute!

I started helping myself to the wigs displayed and tried some on at the stand next to the big group.

I found the one I liked ($125 too, what a deal! Along with being synthetic and heat resistant!)and an associate trimmed the lace around the face for me.

I went to pay for my gorgeous, curly, long, dark, lush prize and met this cute, older lady at the cashier. I told her she would love having a wig and it looked so cute on her! Don’t we all need a vote of confidence from a stranger??

YES

It’s A Woman Thing

So last night, I had to unwind before going to bed. Work this week was not a pleasant experience. (For some reason I feel like work should be fun! It shouldn’t be work, I don’t know where I’ve got this odd idea)

My Oprah magazine came in the mail and I thought I would read a bit to focus on something else!

I found an article on Menopause and thought I would see if there’s anything in it to help explain WTH my life feels the way it does 😂😆 I was genuinely curious.

So, to give a little background. Thursday in heading in the door to work and finding out there isn’t an office – I felt this crazy surge of rage (and freak I’m not an angry person) and an image popped into my head of myself “throwing my metal water bottle at the speed of light smashing through the big glass window” in our main front office-WTH is wrong with me??

Anyway, back to my magazine and article on menopause. Did you know, unreasonable anger is a symptom of menopause?? When I read that, I thought you gotta be kidding me!! All this time I wondered if I was going crazy or if I was a bad person or somehow I’ve been crazy all along. Trust me, these are odd thoughts for me as a therapist but this totally makes sense to me.

There have been soooo many times at the checkout or in traffic or at work that I just feel outrageously angry and I never knew this is normal for a woman going through menopause.

First off, it might just be lucky that we don’t have many menopausal women going postal out in public cause I’ve managed to control my flash of anger but how is everyone else doing it?

Holy cow, wouldn’t it be nice if someone let us know this is what to expect when we will never be expecting?? Hopefully one day my hormones will settle down and I’ll be my normal self again.

Wig Adventures??

Hello Friends!

How’s everyone doing this fine Thursday??

I thought I would share something that I can now laugh at in regards to my new wig!

Remember a few weeks ago I went bridge jumping and synchronized swimming? Well the same time I traveled with my daughter and her two children in my husband’s SUV, a Ford Explorer with apparently not enough room for the four of us. Granted we each brought a lot of stuff for six days which is necessary when traveling with children.

But we also brought three camp chairs and two inflatable river rafts. We anticipated playing in the lake and the river. We did float down the river and it was so fun (we got the rafts from Costco $20, a great deal). But we packed up our suitcases and all every day because we moved from one hotel room to another (alas we did not plan ahead) so packing up every day was a HUGE pain.

This is where my wig comes into play. There were a few days I did not wear my wig because we were doing water sports, so I brought a couple nice towels from home and I wrapped my wig carefully in the towels and put it all in my suitcase. On the afternoon we were bridge jumping, my grandchildren were playing in the lake and it started to rain. You might notice this on my video in my bridge jumping post. The wind started to blow and it got quite a bit colder than previously. My daughter told me she was getting towels out of the car.

I thought she meant her towels, I did not know she meant my towels which nestled my wig…my $500 wig. So she arrived back with towels and we headed to the Explorer with the kiddies wrapped up warm.

My daughter walked up to me and explained she found my wig laying next to the road by the bridge as she brought her children up the hillside!

Holy mother of pearl! My wig was laying on the ground?? In the dirt?? Next to the road?? How can this be?? I said a few choice words before we figured out she had opened my suitcase and grabbed my towels without noticing the carefully wrapped wig….oh my heavens.

Well when I calmed down (!!!!!) I told her I was sorry for getting mad at her and I brushed out my wig, so thankful that she had noticed it lying on the side of the road (I didn’t see it there?) and picked up and big wad of hair without really knowing why it was there. I’m so thankful my sweet daughter picked up my new wig!

I’m sure my wig will have many adventures over the next several months.

I wore part of my black Halo on a rollercoaster July 4th and it never even came off! I was upside down for quite awhile, so there’s another adventure right??

You never know what life will throw at you!

 

Bucket List

Hello friends!

Summer is flying by and I’ve been super busy!

I did something brave last week, I jumped off a bridge into a lake (Palisades Reservoir) It was part of our summer family reunion activities ❤️ we also floated down Salt River but no video (lots more fun)

I didn’t know it was on my bucket list; I’ve never jumped off a bridge before. I’ve never jumped off a cliff before.

I don’t know why, now that I’m older, I’m doing all these things? Maybe age causes brain damage??

Apparently there is a correct way to jump off a bridge into water. Who knew?? Not me 🤨 and oddly enough I did not ask questions.

It was a high bridge (high to me) in a little cove of the reservoir I often played in while growing up. I learned to water ski there when I was young. I personally still like water skiing better 😊

Apparently one should point the toes, drop in the water straight, with your arms high above your head coming to a point or dive like Greg Louganis (but I can’t do that!) LOL

So I just jumped off when I gathered the courage. My left arm was out to my side with my elbow bent. My right arm tried to plug my nose but missed as the force of the water whipped my hand up and I scratched my own forehead. The water was pretty deep and took awhile to rise to the surface and I had a feeling I would drown (panicked).

But I have it on video that I was brave so I never have to do it again. Thankfully my left arm isn’t hurting so bad anymore 😂😂

I hope you enjoy my video- bridge jumping