Be Kind

This morning as I was driving to the grocery store, a guy zoomed past me in his car and flipped me off.

At the Starbucks drive thru, the barista wasn’t as nice to me as she should have been. And then she messed up my order.

Last week at work, a lady was extremely rude to me on the phone.

My friend blew me off for the third time this month.

Guess what. The guy who drove past me, he was driving to the hospital hoping to make it in time to see his mom before she passed away.

The girl at Starbucks had just broken up with her abusive boyfriend and was going through a difficult time.

The lady on the phone, she just found out she and her three kids were being evicted from their home and didn’t have anywhere to go.

My friend – he was dealing with some pretty dark depression and was contemplating suicide.

Our own personal life is only one of millions of other story lines being written on a daily basis. We need to remember to be kind – to family, to friends, and most importantly, to strangers. Seth would say to never judge anyone. You don’t know what they’re going through or what they have gone through. We, as humans, understand how hard life can be at times. And that, before anything else, is why we need to extend grace to other people. Give ‘em a break. Cut them some slack. However you want to phrase it, be kind. It doesn’t have to be some big, grand gesture. A simple smile or kind word can be sufficient. No matter what the circumstance is, remember everyone is going through something.

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Crisis Plan

Everyone at one time or another has done a fire drill or tornado drill. We do these drills to know that if an emergency happens we are ready and know what to do. This is almost exactly what we need to do for ourselves for any potential future crisis that may arise. So what do we need first? A plan. And once that is completed, you can practice it just like a fire drill.

Ever get really upset and not know what to do when you are feeling triggered or on edge?

Start with something basic.

List 6 things you can do when you are feeling upset and triggered.

-Maybe it is something as simple as watching your favorite TV show, maybe it is going for a walk, how about an art and craft? Or a favorite video game?

Got an idea of things you can do?

Okay, Write it down.

—What if you go through your 6 things you can do, and you’re still feeling upset?

Then you move on to your list of people you can contact. (try and have at least 3 but have as many as you would like)

Make a list of friends, family members, teachers, counselor, principal, co-workers, supervisors, someone from a religious community or support group.. etc.

Someone that will be able to listen to you and help calm you down, someone that will come over for a little bit, go out to lunch with you, or depending on how you are feeling, someone who can spend the night by you till you feel safe.

Can you think of those people?

Write them down.

—–What if you exhausted all of your things to do, and talking is just not helping and you’re beginning to feel unsafe?

You can have a plan set in place with someone who would be willing to drive you to the hospital to talk with a professional and see what some next steps are to getting you safe.

Have a list of emergency numbers you can call when you are feelings suicidal.

Write them down.

Have all of this plan somewhere you can get easy access to it.

Reach Out, Get Help.

If you are feeling unsafe and suicidal, please reach out to a professional or someone who can get you connected with a professional.

You can also call the suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255

Here are some other numbers that can give you support any time you call: http://namiillinois.org/crisis-info/

If you never have an escape route, then you may not know what to do when the emergency arises. Don’t wait until it’s too late, have an escape route in place for if that time happens.

No one plans a fire drill expecting to have to escape from a real fire. It’s preventative to make sure if a fire ever starts, that you will have the plan to be safe and not be anxious as to what to do.

Make a Crisis Plan. You may never use it, but the moment you need it, it could be a life saver.

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Just do exercise

I knew I wanted to write about exercise this week. Huh! Be it me, the person who has rarely exercised since my last kickboxing class on June 25th, 2014. I don’t know if I’ve even admitted this to anyone, but I feel guilty for taking the time for me. I was exercising and feeling good knowing I was getting in the best shape of my life and then BOOM, I lost Seth. Can I say WTH? I wanted to be a healthy mom, wife, and eventually a healthy grandma. I had plans to be the best, most involved grandma ever – I was going to run circles around those other grandma’s. I was ready, not ready anytime soon, but I was ready to be the mom Seth needed to watch the kids, help with potty training, and take them on adventures. Well, as it turns out I won’t be a grandma and my exercise plan seems selfish and unnecessary.

 

But this week I’m going to tell you why YOU should grab your sneakers or longboard or tennis racket or Frisbee and go out there and live. Fight the little person in your brain that is telling you to play the video game and not move from the couch or watch YouTube videos for hours that tell you how to apply your make up. Not that any of those things are bad, but see the good in getting up and getting active. Come on, go sweat. Go feel the blood running through your veins and the gunk leaving your pores. It’s living. It’s making your body the best it can be and showing the world you are a bad ass. You. That person put on this world to be cherished and encouraged and celebrated for the individual you are. Go out there and do what your brain and body need to be the best you can be.
 

Did you know that exercise can do for you what some drugs are used to do to help your mental health? Exercise increases serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain. There are prescription drugs that do the same thing – reduce stress, enhance mood, improve memory, and help you experience healthier relationships. Many people aren’t seeking help for their mental health. Why aren’t they exercising if it will help?  Believe me, I know. I know how depression pulls you down and doesn’t let you get up and experience life. I know the guilt of losing a vibrant soul and being reminder every day that you are not worthy. I know the depression that makes you want to stay under the covers.

 

But, let me tell you again why you should exercise:

 

  • You’ll look good and feel good inside and out. Your mental and physical body will thank you.
  • No one else will have to tell you you’re sexy because your brain will tell you, “I am sexy”. That is confidence my friend.
  • You can have quality time with family and friends – grab your brother, your sister, your friends. Have fun and laugh together.
  • Know it will help you – think positive, be positive. You putting one foot in front of the other will be a rewarding experience.
  • Realize you are worth more than the reasons you can come up with to not exercise.

 

20 minutes 3 times a week doing something you loved doing at the age of 10 can help you help yourself. Your mom used to push you outside to, “go play”. Well, GO PLAY. Go enjoy the weather, your friends, the beautiful body you were given…learn a new sport or just go for a walk.

 

I wish I could grab you on any given day and say, “come with me”. I would take you to the park and we would walk or ride bikes and enjoy the sunshine on our faces or maybe you would teach me how to skateboard or maybe we would just do the monkey bars remembering how it is to be kids. Either way, we would be outside getting fresh air with our increased heart rate saying, “I’m alive”.

 

Now, how Sethtastic is that?!?

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Bipolar Disorders

The term “bipolar” is a term that is thrown around some times when describing a moody person. But bipolar disorder is so much more than just being moody.

Bipolar is generally described as a specific type of mood disorder where individuals have severe mood swings that cycle from major depressive episodes to manic episodes.

A manic episode can be characterized with having racing thoughts, being unable to sleep, talking a lot, extreme irritability, periods of euphoria, and behaving in ways that show poor judgement.

Mood shifts can be a normal part of life caused by reactions to positive or negative events or experiences. They even can result from medical problems such as physical illness, diabetes, injuries, or hormone fluctuations.

Mood swings can be a combination of all those factors. These fluctuations can be considered normal unless they persist for a long time, are combined with other mental symptoms, interfere with the ability to function, or cause a great deal of distress.

Most people do not even know they have a bipolar disorder and can go misdiagnosed for years. Sometimes bipolar disorder gets confused with major depression and/or anxiety.

There are different types of bipolar disorders which the general population isn’t aware of. The following fall within the spectrum:

-Bipolar I Disorder is one of the most severe mental illnesses and may require hospitalization. This disorder affects about 1% of Americans. It is a lifelong illness once it begins and can develop in late adolescence or early adulthood.

People who have Bipolar I can experience severe depression lasting for months at a time followed by periods of manic episodes that can also last for several weeks or months.

-Bipolar II Disorder is a not as intense and involves milder episodes of hypomania that alternate with periods of severe depression.

-Cyclothymic Disorder is characterized by periods of hypomania that alternates with depression and are not as extensive or long-lasting as the previous two types.

Some individuals have rapid cycles between mania and depression within a week or even within a single day. Women appear to experience rapid cycling more than men do.

However, the only way a person can get diagnosed is if they go to a doctor for an assessment. The assessment will ask questions regarding the persons reasoning, memory, ability to express themselves, and their ability to maintain relationships.

If you are currently experiencing any symptoms that may cause you to believe you may have a bipolar disorder, please do not wait to see if it will go away on its own as it may inevitably get worse.

Before going to a doctor to determine whether or not you have a disorder, take notice of your current moods, your sleep schedule, your recent behavior, your speech, your energy and motivation levels, and your thinking patterns.

Treatment is available for those with bipolar disorders and may include the following:
-Medication such as mood stabilizers, anti-depression medicine, or anxiety medications.

-Psychotherapy/Counseling which includes talk therapy that uses cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT teaches people to change their thought patterns to replace negative thinking with a more constructive thought process.

-Lifestyle Changes that keeps a regular schedule, promotes healthy eating and exercise, incorporates relaxation techniques, gets plenty of rest and sleep, minimizes stressful situations, and avoids drugs and alcohol.

There is hope for those with bipolar disorders. By following a combination of the above-mentioned treatments, a person with a bipolar disorder can keep their symptoms under control and live productive and effective lives.

Written by: Dalma Vazquez-Wackt, MA, CRC, LPC

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