Archive for the ‘Relationship’ Category

A client I will call “Joy” came to see me and related that she had been excited about a new job but quickly found herself with increased responsibilities and a need to do training of other employees. The first time she met with the employees she was horrified when her heart started pounding, her mouth was dry, her hands shook and she had difficulty presenting the material. Joy related she had wanted to run from the room, felt “frightened” and like a “failure” and couldn’t understand her reaction to the situation – this had never happened to her before! Joy didn’t tell anyone what had happened and began to avoid situations where she might have to speak to groups of people which impacted her ability to do her job.

Joy thought avoiding the situation would be the “solution”.

Unfortunately Joy began to experience these “attacks” at different times and in different places. Once she was sitting in her living room watching a favourite television show when her heart began to beat erratically, she became short of breath and nauseated. After this experience Joy became concerned with her health and wondered if she was having a heart problems. A trip to her doctor confirmed she was physically healthy and counselling was suggested to deal with her “symptoms of anxiety”.

Through counselling Joy gained understanding of how her body was reacting to stress, learned breathing techniques, an awareness of how she “bottled things up” and her tendency to “want to be all things to all people”. Joy became more comfortable talking about herself, began to gain awareness of her thinking patterns that were making her vulnerable to anxiety and made a goal of a daily walk and a weekend restorative yoga class.

At the conclusion of her counselling sessions Joy related that although mild symptoms occur from time to time she now has better self-awareness and is able locate “pitfalls” to diminish her anxiety and functions in most settings “really well”.

do you find your heart is pounding even when you are sitting still or lying in bed?

do you feel nauseated even when you first wake up?

do you have feelings of fear and panic and don’t know why?

are you avoiding people, places or situations?

are you unable to make even simple decisions?

do you lack follow through?

do you or others think you level of worry is excessive?

Most of all do you have poor relationships with others due to being uncomfortable around people or places?

these are all signs of ANXIETY and can be treated through counselling.

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(The following is from the publication Gentle Care: Changing the Experience of Alzheimer’s Disease in a Positive Way, Moyra Jones, 1999)

Guilt is…

The Clash sing “Should I stay or should I go?”  and for many of us we can relate to the back and forth that can occur in our thinking when we are faced with a decision to be made.

Why is it so hard to make decisions sometimes?

When we are overwhelmed we may be looking at decision-making from a fear based perspective “what will I lose” rather than from the possibilities that can occur through change.

Often decisions we reach will be of a black and white nature – stay or go – and has elements of fear which may keep thinking we are “safe” from the unknown while keeping us stuck in a current situation.

Within the song by the Clash the lyrics suggest that the “other” should decide if the relationship should continue, another way we often avoid making our own decisions – let others do it for us.

Separating interests from actual issues involved in the decisions is important and can be challenging; what are we holding on to?  what are our fears about the decision to be made?  Are we unable to make a decision because we think “others” will condemn us?  How will our decisions affect the self and others?  Is our thinking realistic?

It is helpful to talk to a friend, supportive person or therapist to help unravel our decision-making and look at situations we are facing from a broader perspective.

Self care in the way of breathing, relaxation technique, mindfulness,  talking to supportive others and walking in nature can be helpful to quiet our thinking and help us open our mind to possibilities.

Get help if you are unable to make the simplest of decisions – a clear symptom of stress and possible depression and one that should not be ignored.

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As the baby boomers get older and their parents get even older the generation that had it all is now looking after it all!  Often still parenting they are now faced with caregiving aging parents; making financial, medical, household and a myriad of other decisions while dealing with a rollercoaster of emotions concerning their changing relationship and managing a glimpse or two of their own mortality – an exhausting bittersweet time of life.

I recently was quoted in a MORE magazine article (October 2012) on the topic of how the spouse/partner/ or others can be helpful to a caregiver and there are one or two key pieces that I’d like to share from my own perspective and experiences.

Caregiver stress can affect a person physically and emotionally.  Stress/overload will often show up in a persons thinking and behaviour (they may be not wanting to do things they used to enjoy, be irritable, be worrying excessively, have poor sleep and/or eating habits etc.).  A partner, friend or professional support person can often observe symptoms of overload before the caregiver is able to recognize what is happening.

Some tips;

Be supportive in chores/tasks and perhaps encourage outside support/resources to fill the gaps

Help with decision making, have the “clearer head” when needed

Encourage healthy coping strategies; taking time for self, exercise, diet, self care, enjoyable activities, laughter

Support outlet for emotions; let the caregiver have a cry, encourage joining a support group or seeking professional help if needed

Give frequent hugs, gestures of caring, “you are doing a great job”

Realize this is putting stress on you and your relationship as well

For more information or to book a counselling session contact me, Barb Larkin at 604-785-4359, or email barblarkin@shaw.ca

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Dealing with mental health issues – whether for yourself or a loved one the following websites could be helpful-

www.cmha.ca The Canadian Mental Health Association has Family & Caregiver Support information

www.cmha.bc.ca A link just for B.C.

www.camh.ca  Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – up to date information on addiction and mental health

www.beingthereguide.com A comprehensive guide to “being there” with someone with mental health issues

www.bcss.org The B.C. Schizohrenia Society is a great family resource/support regardless of diagnosis

www.anxietybc.ca Good information for individual coping with anxiety

www.alzheimer.ca Great information about aging/dementia for the caregiver and others

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