Category Archives: Emotions

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.

 

 

Perfection Lies

Hello friends!

Happy Sunday -our weekend is almost over 😳

I thought today, since it’s still January that I would focus on a subject I think often on. Perfection-what a lie.

We have been told throughout our lives that it’s possible to be perfect, each January many people talk about their New Years resolutions and how this year will be different and they will really do it right.

I actually don’t believe in being perfect. I don’t even hold much to New Years resolutions.

The idea of perfection is such a lie-none of us are perfect and we all make mistakes -often in one day! Thinking we have to be perfect can overwhelm us and lead to feeling shame about our imperfections or compare ourselves to others we “think” are perfect.

Life isn’t about being perfect. It’s enjoying the moment we are in and often remembering when we make mistakes to try and learn from what happened.

Failure is a good way to learn and gets a bad rep. I think failure is more important than perfection. Failure helps us learn what works, what we are good at, and what we need more practice in life. We all fail in life, we make mistakes, and hopefully we learn.

I’ve learned to be more gentle with myself and remember I don’t need to be perfect. I try to be kind to myself and others and I think the rest works out.

None of us are perfect. Let us NOT strive to be perfect.

You Are Enough-Be Vulnerable

Hello Friends!

It’s getting close to the New Year and I want to leave you with a few thoughts consistent with my last post.

In treatment with my clients lately I’ve been focusing on helping people increase their awareness of shame and how to combat it. Shame keeps us stuck, it keeps us from reaching out, it tells us we are not enough, we are not important. Shame is paralyzing and keeps us isolated.

Many people deal with depression and suicide thoughts and feel ashamed because they think that there is something wrong with them, they think this is something they deserve, they are suffering in silence and it is not necessary. According to the National Institute for Mental Health shares statistics that 17.3 million adults had at least one major depressive episode (2017-data courtesy of SAMHSA). Depression is no respecter of persons; these numbers indicate anyone is vulnerable to develop depression whether it is situational or genetic factors.

Situational depression can affect people through illness, marital change, employment change, or death of a loved one; even a move away from loved ones could affect developing depression. In addition trauma can affect a development of depression too.

There isn’t a reason to be ashamed for having depression or suicide thoughts. These things affect many people.

I suggest listening to Brene Brown on YouTube; she has a couple of really excellent TEDtalks about shame and vulnerability. These are also very popular, getting millions of views. She emphasizes the way to overcome or silence shame is to be vulnerable. As a therapist I see this meaning: talk to someone about your struggles. Find social support somewhere that you can speak openly about your struggles and discover that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

PLEASE REACH OUT IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING- it works.

 

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 ❤️

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.

Failure: A Therapist View

Hello friends and happy Tuesday! I hope you all had a great holiday weekend!

I’ve been thinking about life challenges and want to share some of my therapist views …for free ❤️

I think life is hard at different times for all of us and we might often feel like a failure if things in our lives don’t go as we think they “should” or as we “expected”.

At times like these we feel a failure. BUT it’s super important to remember that feeling like a failure-is a feeling and it’s not a fact. Shoulds, expectations, and comparisons are not helpful in our lives, are actually detrimental, and cause us to second guess ourselves and our value as human beings.

One of my favorite TED talks is “How to Practice Emotional First Aid” by Guy Winch. It’s amazing and I’ve shared it with many clients. Look it up-live it.

When we feel like a failure, we normally stop what we’re doing. We give up; then that emotion wins! It’s just an emotion.

As long as we keep pushing toward future goals, we never fail.

If you feel like a failure, just remember I am rooting for you. We are all doing the best we can. You are not a failure.

Guy Winch-Ted Talk Emotional First Aid

Dodging the Punches

Hey friends!

I thought I would share some of my difficulties lately and how I’m dodging the punches.

Someone very close to me is involved in the dissolution of her marriage due to a emotionally abusive spouse. Her spouse also knows my ex husband (I divorced him about 17 years ago).

I have found out that her husband and my ex shit talk about me throughout some family events (involving my adult children and grandchildren- those are most events I continue to be around my ex husband). I also found out that my ex inquired (to the person close to me) wondering if she was being unduly influenced to leave her husband by someone he did not name (I’m guessing it is me) and I have been super angry and negative being re exposed to abuse and emotional manipulation by my ex husband.

I have a difficult time managing this again, the negativity and emotions this stirs up is overwhelming for me.

I have a stressful job and do not need the additional negativity that this information affects me.

How do I manage? I have been focusing on things I can control to help myself. Can I control other people? No. Can I control outside events? No. Does other people’s shit have anything to do with me? No. If someone else is a douche, does that have to affect me? No.

Can I control what I focus on? Yes. About a week ago, I was listening to a podcast of Rachel Hollis interviewing Brendon Burchard. I was so impressed I subscribed (it’s FREE!)to Brendon’s podcast “The Brendon Show” and also bought his workbook “the high performance planner” and his book “High Performance Habits”. In 2018 Brendon reads his whole book as part of his podcast (so you can listen to his book for free!) and it’s so inspiring. It reminds me to live according to my own values. I especially like the planner and the ways I daily remind myself to set an intention, remind myself the person I want to be, a way to demonstrate excellence to myself, ways to coach myself through the day and ways to determine if I have been successful in my day (along with three goals to keep my focus every day).

This has been a huge support in dealing with this new situation and previous triggers from my abusive past marriage.

If any of you out there are struggling, I strongly suggest looking this up and listening. Everything will be ok, you can do it, you are strong enough, you are smart enough, you matter, you are important.