Category Archives: Life Lessons

Get Back In The Driver’s Seat


Is your life out of balance? From time to time, our lives can feel out of control. You spend too much time focussed on work, and your family life suffers. Or you spend too much money on your social life, and your finances suffer. Maybe you’re running yourself ragged and your health is taking a back seat. If this sounds like you, then I hope the following tips help!

Regain balance in your life with these strategies:

  1. Identify the different parts of your life. If you were going to divide your life into columns, what would the column headings be? For most of us, they would include family, work, health, finances, and social life. You might have additional categories such as music, spirituality, and volunteering.
  2. Start with your health. Is your health negatively impacted by your lifestyle? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating properly? How much exercise are you getting each day? Have you been to the doctor lately? How is your bodyweight? What can you do to improve your health?
  3. Evaluate your family life. Does your family only get attention when you have time left over from your other obligations? Are you spending enough time with your partner and children? What do each of them need right now? How can you provide it to them? How can you enrich your relationship with your family?
  4. Is your social life getting too much attention or not enough? Have you lost track of your friends? Is your family upset that you’re spending too much time socializing? Or maybe your overactive social life is causing challenges in other areas of your life. Consider what changes would help balance out your social life.
  5. Take a look at your values and priorities. What is most important to you? You can’t have it all unless your wants are quite limited. Make a list of your values and priorities. Alter your life to emphasize those things.
  6. Where are you wasting time? Perhaps you can bring your life back into balance by freeing up more time for what’s most important to you. First, identify how you’re wasting time and eliminate or minimize those activities.
  7. Learn to say “no”. There’s not enough time in the day to say “yes” to everything that crosses your path. This goes back to your priorities. One of the most effective ways to regain balance in your life is to eliminate the unnecessary. What can you live without? What will you be glad to get off your plate?
  8. Be grateful for what you have. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can be easy to see the dark side of things. Remind yourself of how much you have in your life already. With a positive outlook, you’ll have a better chance of making progress. Begin each day with a grateful heart, try gratitude meditation, works wonders.
  9. Make a plan. Once you have a few ideas, make a plan on how you intend to put them into practice. Avoid the mistake of believing that identifying the cure is a cure in itself. It’s necessary to take action.

Everything gets out of balance once in awhile, including your life. The key is recognizing the challenge you face and setting priorities. Eliminate those things that don’t add value to your life so you have more time for the things that do. Take control of your life and create a life that truly fulfills you.

Here is a simple, free. Defining-Your-Life-Purpose-Goals-Worksheet-IV to kick things off. 

To Your Success,

Juan

How To Avoid Losing Yourself In a Relationship


Does the rest of your life suffer when you fall in love? Do you have a tendency to lose yourself in a relationship? I certainly have! Looking back, it’s rather terrifying, how easily and completely depended on another for “life support”?

It’s natural to be swept away when you first start dating someone new. The trouble starts when you no longer recognize who you are. It can happen in healthy relationships, especially if you have unrealistic expectations about romance. In less healthy relationships, it’s not too difficult if your partner tries to pressure or manipulate you into becoming dependent on them. Research Narcissist Personality Disorder. It’s a real thing. 

Learn how to balance love with the rest of your life. Try these tips for having a more fulfilling relationship with yourself and your partner. You can tell that you’re sacrificing too much if you know where to look.

Spotting the Warning Signs

  1. Maintain other connections. Neglecting your family and friends is one of the most common and obvious signs. Make time for them in your schedule. When you’re with them, be sure to talk about more than your new love interest.
  2. Do your job. Are you too distracted to meet deadlines and participate in meetings? Keep your mind on work when you’re at the office. Save personal calls and texts for lunchtime if necessary.
  3. Watch your spending. Maybe you’re celebrating a little too much with shopping sprees, overeating, or other indulgences. The sooner you slow down, the easier it will be to fix the damage.
  4. Enjoy your hobbies. It’s great if your partner introduces you to new interests but beware of giving up the things you love just to please them. For example, you can take a class while they go to a hockey game.
  5. Voice your opinions. Speak up for yourself. Let your partner know you like jazz more than hip hop. It’s natural to disagree sometimes.

Being Proactive

You may have noticed that even when you start a new relationship, you soon fall into the same patterns you established with your last partner. If you want things to turn out differently, you’ll need to address your personal issues. Albert Einstein said: “Doing the same things over and over, and expecting the same results is insanity”

Keep these tips in mind:

  1. Boost your self-esteem. Make yourself a priority. Remember that you are worthy of love and respect just as you are. Treat yourself with compassion and repeat positive affirmations.
  2. Create boundaries. In a healthy relationship, partners encourage each other to set their own ground rules. Explain what you need and what you find unacceptable.
  3. Set goals. You’re less likely to lose yourself if you’re excited about other aspects of your life. Develop passion projects that motivate you to learn and grow. As a bonus, you’ll probably make yourself more interesting.
  4. Practice self-care. Treating yourself well makes you stronger and more resilient. It also reminds you of your worth. Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Sleep well and deal with stress constructively.
  5. Spend time alone. Do you enjoy your own company? It’s important to have a healthy relationship with yourself in order to bond with others. Solitude gives you an opportunity to increase your self-awareness and center yourself.
  6. Take a break. If you’re dissatisfied with your love life, you might benefit from giving up dating for a while. Use the time to examine your dating criteria and form new habits.
  7. Consider counseling. Working with a therapist might help too. That’s especially true if you’re trying to recover from an abusive relationship or think that childhood issues are affecting your adult behavior.

Hold onto your identity when you’re in a relationship. Losing yourself is too high a price to pay for wanting to be a couple. You and your partner deserve to feel secure and loved for who you are. 

Wishing You Well,

Juan

 

Get Clear on Why You Care So Much


One way to learn to stop caring so much about irrelevant issues and thoughts of others is to dig in deep and study yourself in a new way to get to the bottom of the reasons you care so much. Three ways help you get clear on why you care so much that you can use.

Journaling 

You can use your computer, buy a specialized journal, or you can simply use a notebook you have created to journal. It’s up to you what type of system you use and whether it’s modern or analog. The important part is that you try to use your journal to express your thoughts, emotions, and stream of consciousness about a problem you’re trying to solve or a feeling you’re trying to explore without judgment or censoring.  Write in your journal every day when you’re trying to understand why you care so much. You may end up discovering your life purpose or a new reason for getting up each day, one you had not realized before. 

Meditation 

Before you use your journal, it can help to clear your mind using meditation. Meditation practice is all about not thinking and not judging your thoughts or feelings even as they still happen during the meditation.  Each time you meditate, you can have a purpose of self-discovery, or goal to clear your mind and relax.  To practice this type of meditation, you’ll want to find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lay down. Concentrate on your goals for the meditation, close your eyes, and start focusing on your breathing.  Think about the situation you’re trying to understand for a moment, then clear your mind. If any intrusive thoughts come in, brush them aside by refocusing on your breathing. You mustn’t allow any outside information or sensation to distract you during this time.  Many You Tube videos offer instructions and help.

Therapy 

Today, we are fortunate to be able to access psychological therapy from the comfort of our homes using your computer or smartphone. Numerous companies offer this service and varying price points. In addition, many insurance companies include several sessions as part of your benefits.  If you seek therapy, make sure you find someone experienced working with you on overcoming people-pleasing and putting yourself last in life. Remember, your wants and needs matter too. Most therapists can guide you through the self-discovery process, to finally know what you want, regardless of what others think

Any or all three of these methods, help you become crystal clear regarding your motivations to seek approval from others and even help you stop doing it. Remember, what you want from life is important too, and following someone else’s dreams will never get you what you want and, more importantly, content in your life. 

Wishing You Well,
Juan

Approval Addiction


Today’s post might be uncomfortable for some. Anytime we are forced to closely look at more closely, the natural human reaction is to withdraw. No one likes being under a microscope. Receiving validation from other people feels good, so good that some people develop an addiction to receiving outside approval, instead of being motivated intrinsically. If you can’t motivate yourself without someone else’s approval, you may suffer from an approval addiction. The end result is anxiety, stress, depression, and yes addiction.  

Let’s dive into the signs you are addicted.

You’re Obsessed with Getting People to Express Interest in You
You like being on social media, dating sites, or any situation where you can attract attention. It might even be hard for you to settle down with a partner, because you enjoy the dating world more than being  partnered-up 

You Need Constant Reassurance 
When you are in a relationship, you find yourself asking whether they’re “mad” or “upset” with you. This may happen with lovers and friends, and even family members. If you often ask for reassurance about how someone feels about you, this may be due to a validation or approval addiction. 

You Like to Talk About Your Awesomeness
Sometimes people who aren’t confident will talk about impressive things they’ve done, to appear more worthy than they think they are, hoping others will agree and validate their thoughts about their awesomeness, even though they don’t generally believe it themselves. 

You’re Money Focused
If you tend to think more about money than the value you provide the world, you may have a problem with approval-seeking that is bordering on an addiction. Of course, money is a necessity, but it’s not the only thing important about you or anyone else. 

You Enjoy Name Dropping 
If you find yourself dropping names of well known people you’ve worked with or met, this is a sign of insecurity. You never need to make yourself look better by your company because you are special just as you are without anyone else. 

You Make Friends with Folks Based on Their Wealth or Reputation
 
When you look at your closest friend group, are they really your friends, or did you pick them based on what you think they can offer you? Friends should be chosen based on shared values, more than shared finances. 

Your Beliefs Change Depending on The Company You’re Keeping 
If you’re not keeping the same ideas and opinions across all friend and professional groups, you are part of, and you may be trying to please people too much. It’s okay to have your own fact-based ideas, thoughts, and opinions, and it’s okay for everyone else too. Hint: It’s also okay not to have any views or opinions about a topic you’re not educated enough about. 

You Prefer Being in Control of Each Social Situation 
When it comes to networking and making friends or building relationships, if you need to be the one in control of the event before you feel comfortable, you may have an issue with approval addiction. Letting other people oversee social situations and relationship building may seem scary because your self-esteem is low. Letting people lead is a clear sign that you are confident about your thoughts and ideas. 

You Easily Feed into Your Own Victimhood
 
If something starts going wrong, do you have a hard time seeing answers within yourself? Do you place blame on others? Do you feel good and safe being a victim instead of admitting where you have control and where you can make the change? 

Rejection Makes You Feel Out of Control 
If you’ve ever been rejected professionally or personally, you know it hurts. However, if you have an approval addiction, it might make you totally flip out if someone rejects you because you are doing everything (in your mind) to give them what they want, but they don’t want it anyway. If you take this personally, consider that you’re not even really being yourself and this rejection is not personal at all. 

Phew! There are some uncomfortable questions being asked in this post.  If you often find that you’re doing anything that you don’t want to do, only to gain acceptance of a person or group, you may be a people pleaser and even have an approval addiction. To overcome this, you need to figure out who you are, your personal values and design a path to reach your goals based on your own values. 

Next up, we will examine three ways to help you get clear on why you care too much!

Wishing You Well,
Juan

 

Strategies For Putting Yourself First


Below are some healthy ways to help you develop the habit, without burning bridges or negatively affecting your energy, enthusiasm, and motivation. These tips will help you achieve your goals, protect your mental and physical wellbeing, and overcome even your biggest challenges. Bear in mind, if you do have to burn some bridges, don’t dally, just get on with life, and know you are doing what is best for your future self.

Choose Your Purpose: Having a clear purpose is essential. It is the simplest, most basic thing every person needs to live a fulfilling and satisfying life. Without a purpose, you will end up living your life haphazardly. Your purpose also makes it easier for you to say ‘No’ to people and things that do not align with your highest good. Living it helps you identify what you need to do and when. Consciously reaffirming your purpose regularly multiplies your efforts of taking action.

Live by a Vision: Putting yourself first also requires that you develop a clear vision of the life you want to lead. A vision keeps you focused on the journey, and will allow you to effectively prioritize your tasks and projects as the important things will align with your purpose and vision of your ultimate life. To get clear about your vision, start by reflecting on these three questions: Who do I want to be? What do I want to do? How do you want to feel? If you are unsure about your vision, ruminating on these questions will assist you in getting clear. 

 Set Personal Goals and Plan: wise way to ensure your vision becomes a reality. Goals make the realization of your vision much more achievable, will keep you motivated and focused on what you want out of life. After taking the time to set your goals, set aside regular time to plan how you will achieve them.

 Learn New Skills: As you draw up your goals and develop your vision, you may find you need to learn new skills to make your ideal life a reality. Take some time to identify those areas that you may be lacking. Then take proactive steps to bridge the gap between your present level and your desired level.

Set Personal Boundaries: skill you need to master when learning how to put yourself first, because you will need it a lot on every step of your journey. That is especially true if you tend to be a people-pleaser. Others are used to you backing down and giving them what you want, so you’ll need to stay strong. Look them in the eye and kindly say, “No, thank you.” Even when they try to convince you to think otherwise, practice sticking to your decision by not get pressured into consenting. Setting personal boundaries is a vital skill because it enables you to defend your time and your rights which is an essential component of putting yourself first.

Get Active: Putting yourself first isn’t only about goal setting and getting ahead. It’s also about taking the time for self-care. After all, if you don’t take care of your health, you’ll be unable to live your purpose or fulfill your life’s vision. Put yourself and your health first by starting a program of regular exercise as soon as possible if you aren’t already doing so. Engaging in a brisk daily walk is all that’s needed to improve and maintain your health.

Eat Healthy: A healthy diet is equally as important as your body’s need to exercise. Eating a nutritious diet is a huge part of taking care of your health and putting yourself first. If your diet needs a major overhaul, take it one step at a time and work your way up to your ideal diet. Remember, putting yourself first is about being kind to yourself.

Get enough rest: Getting sufficient sleep is another essential component of putting yourself first. It is also necessary for boosting your performance and replenishing your energy. By getting enough sleep, you will be better equipped to face the hurdles of the new day with greater confidence, energy, and enthusiasm. Never allow anyone or anything come between you and the need to get enough sleep.

Schedule Relaxation: Sometimes you may be lacking the energy you need to live your ultimate life. Rather than trying to push through such times, it is better to maximize your relaxation and recovery. You can engage in activities that will help reduce fatigue and replenish your energy, such as meditation, yoga, massage, or a quick nap. If you find you run low on energy and motivation on a regular basis, start scheduling relaxation or downtime into your day. A consistent relaxation routine will keep you on more of an even-keel, so you don’t burn out.

Journal : Apparently, you have 60,000 or more thoughts per day. When you feel you have a lot to do and you are overwhelmed with too many ideas, journaling will help clear your head, can lead to better self-awareness, which is the foundation of putting yourself first. You can journal any way you wish—with paper and pen or by using an app. You might choose to journal every day or only when you feel overwhelmed or unsettled. Whatever works for you is perfect.

Practice Gratitude: Take some time each day to reflect on the positives in your life. It’s easy to focus on the things we’d like to change and neglect to be appreciative for all we have. It is very important to have a realistic perspective on your life and identify the positives for the sake of your health and wellbeing. As you find the time to write down and reflect on all the things you are grateful for each day, you will reduce your stress levels and naturally find more and more to be grateful for in your life.

Putting yourself first is something you must make a conscious effort to do. You must fill your cup first, or you will end up with nothing left to give.  Be prepared for pushback, as this new way of living might not sit well with those in your circle, who take, take, and take. Stand your ground, in a few months, you won’t recognize the person staring back at you in the mirror!

To Your Success,
Juan

 

Things You Should Know About Seeking Treatment For PTSD


There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to PTSD, and it most likely will not be resolved in a short amount of time. Furthermore, if there are comorbidities involved, it will take longer for the therapist to determine what diagnosis and treatment are appropriate. The type of treatment you or your loved one receives is up to your therapist, but below are some common forms of treatment.

Cognitive Processing Therapy
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a specific type of therapy used to help people change the way they view trauma. It has been effective in helping reduce symptoms of PTSD, and many mental health specialists recommend this course of action. It’s thought to be one of the most effective treatments available. Trauma changes the way a person feels about themselves and the world, often causing them to develop an overly negative and hopeless view of things. This type of therapy can help them begin to reprocess the way they think about things. 

Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Since avoidance is a symptom of PTSD, therapists will sometimes use a treatment called Prolonged Exposure therapy (PE). This treatment helps people confront the things they’re avoiding in increments. This type of therapy will induce more anxiety and stress than CPT typically does, so therapists will try to equip their patients with anxiety-reducing coping skills.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EDMR is a different kind of treatment than talking through traumatic events. Instead, the patient is asked to think about the traumatic event while the therapist directs their eye movement. It’s thought that the eye movement while remembering a traumatic event can help drain the emotion and negative feelings attached to it. This type of therapy is still relatively new and is considered a non-traditional form of therapy. 

Medication For PTSD
For some, medication may be helpful in addition to therapy. According to the National Center for PTSD, antidepressants are sometimes effective for treating symptoms of PTSD. These types of medications include SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). Your doctor or therapist can help you determine if medication might be right for you.

Treatment for PTSD may not be a cure, as with most mental health disorders total recovery can be difficult or unobtainable. However, many people who receive therapy see a significant and life changing improvement of symptoms. For some, therapy may even lead to a near absolution of symptoms. 

If you’re suffering from PTSD or you know someone who is, know that there are people who can help:

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
  • For veterans, the National Center for PTSD is also available by calling 1-800-273-8255 or you can reach online here: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

Hotlines are a good short-term solution, that should be followed up with therapy work from a trained professional. Build up a support network of people ready and willing to help when symptoms of PTSD become overwhelming.  Be patient with yourself (or your loved one) because PTSD is a real disorder that requires time and care to improve.

Remember, setbacks don’t erase all progress. For best results, learn all you can about PTSD, seek professional help, and keep your focus on healing. 

To Your Success,
Juan

 

Here Is What Experts Say About The Symptoms Of PTSD (pt1)


Now that you have more insight into its origins, time to examine the four main symptoms, some of which goes beyond what you already know. PTSD may not look the same in every person, and not all people will experience the same severity of symptoms. However, all people with PTSD will exhibit four main symptoms.

  • Re-Experiencing, or Intrusion
  • Avoidance
  • Hyperarousal or “on edge”
  • Negative Cognitions and Mood Symptoms (Feeling worse about yourself or the world)

Most will experience one or two of these symptoms, but people with PTSD will suffer from all of them to some degreeSymptoms usually appear within 6 months of the trauma, though at times they might begin manifesting at a later time. According to the DSM-5, in order to be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms must last longer than 1 month.  Symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with daily life, and must not be related to other factors such as medication, substance abuse, or illness. That isn’t to say that people experiencing PTSD may not also struggle with things like substance abuse, but that it isn’t the initial source of it. 

Re-Experiencing, or Intrusion
One of the tale-tell signs of PTSD. The person is involuntarily reliving the traumatic event that triggered their PTSD. This intrusion of thought may manifest in a variety of ways including:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Recurring memories
  • Distressing thoughts
  • Becoming stressed in physical ways like sweating or heart palpitations 

Re-experiencing can be triggered by anything that reminds someone of the event such as words, locations, objects, people, or similar situations.  Of the intrusion symptoms, flashbacks are often the most troubling. A person who has a flashback feels like they’re actually re-experiencing the traumatic event in real time.  Dr. Matthew Tull, a professor of Psychology writes: “researchers have found that most often, a flashback centers on the “Warning! Watch out!” moment when, at the time the trauma occurred, the person first felt the threat of danger. This helps to explain why people having flashbacks may take sudden and strong defensive actions, sometimes causing harm to themselves or others—they’re feeling seriously threatened right now”

Avoidance
A person who experiences a traumatic event may find themselves wanting to avoid things that remind them of the event. They may also become afraid of doing something or going somewhere similar to the original traumatic event. For instance, someone who has been in a serious car accident may avoid driving or may be afraid to drive in certain circumstances such as heavy traffic or snowy roads. Someone who has been sexually abused may avoid intimacy in the future.

Other symptoms of avoidance include: 

  • Avoidance of talking about or having conversations that remind a person of the traumatic event
  • Attempt to avoid close relationships with people that may lead to detachment or estrangement
  • Lack of interest in social events or activities
  • Self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, or risky behavior

Have you learned anything new about PTSD by the symptoms indicated above? Sound off below. Part two is next!

To Your Success,
Juan

All You Need To Know About The History of PTSD


Photo : Yay Images

Dear Readers,

Welcome to April! This month, we will focus on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There is quite a bit to learn, so let’s start at the beginning. Two years ago all our lives were considerably upended. I live in NYC, and still have  very vivid memories waking up to reports, of another 800-900 souls who lost battle with COVID-19 the day before. The virus raged through the city. With more than 9 million of us packed into in small spaces, it was a recipe for the disaster it was.

The NYC Health Commission has been relentless. Every day, there is a television ad imploring residents to be mindful of our mental health. Free counseling and advice is avaialble to those who are struggling. It’s not a stretch to say many are suffering from pandemic related PTSD.  Many people associate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with combat soldiers. But many were never in the military. Any traumatic event can result in PTSD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a trauma or stressor related disorder, is debilitating, and affects roughly 7-8% of the population, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Sufferers experience  symptoms brought on by a traumatic event or series of events. Though PTSD is most commonly associated with people who served in the military, anyone who goes through a traumatic experience is at risk for developing it. 

The American Psychiatric Association defines PTSD this way; a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.

Populations commonly exposed to traumatic events have a higher average of PTSD than the average citizen. Soldiers who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) returned with a 10-20% rate of PTSD. Of those who served in the Vietnam War, around 15% were diagnosed with PTSD.  

                                                             HISTORY OF PTSD
Although PTSD has been around for centuries, it wasn’t added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until 1980. The term became much more familiar to the common American after the Vietnam War. In other times in American history, PTSD was referred to as other things. Physicians noted changes in people, usually soldiers, that couldn’t be wholly explained by wounds or injuries.

A FEW NAMES USED TO DESCRIBE PTSD BEFORE 1980

  • Nostalgia. Coined by Swiss physician Dr. Johannes Hofer in the late 1600s to describe soldiers experiencing deep despair, homesickness, sleeplessness and anxiety. 
  • Soldier’s/irritable heart. Used by Dr. Jacob Mendez Da Costa, to describe physical issues soldiers in the Civil War, not related to combat wounds; constricted breathing, heart palpitations, and other cardiovascular ailments
  • Railway spine or railway brain. PTSD terms not related to soldiers. During the 1800s, railroad travel became very common. It also saw a stark rise in railroad related accidents. People who survived these accidents sometimes suffered from anxiety and sleeplessness, referred to as railway brain.
  • Shell shock. Term used after World War I. A particularly brutal war, with many soldiers coming home experiencing things like anxiety, nightmares, impaired sight and vision, tremors, and fatigue. They were directly exposed to exploding shells on the battlefield, giving the name “shell shock” it’s origin.
  • Gross stress reaction. Used in the DSM-I in 1952 to diagnose psychological issues connected to traumatic events. It was believed symptoms would only last a short period of time. If they persisted longer than 6 months, it was no longer thought to be related to a specific traumatic event.
  • Adjustment reaction to adult life. In 1968, PTSD-related terms were removed and replaced with the words “adjustment reaction to adult life.” Many experts believe this change failed to truly encompass the disorder and related complications and was a step in the wrong direction.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder. Officially added to the DSM-III in 1980. Writers of the DSM-III used symptoms from people who had survived traumatic events such as war veterans, Holocaust survivors, and sexual victims to help develop the diagnosis description.

PRE 1980’S DEFINITIONS

The 1980s term PTSD was a major shift in the way people began to view reaction to trauma. During World War I, many perceived soldiers with PTSD symptoms as being weak or feeble. It was thought that the things they were feeling were due to a poor constitution. 

The change during the 1980s put PTSD in an entirely new light. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “From an historical perspective, the significant change ushered in by the PTSD concept was the stipulation that the etiological agent was outside the individual (i.e., a traumatic event) rather than an inherent individual weakness (i.e., a traumatic neurosis)” In other words, anyone can be susceptible to a physical and mental reaction to a highly traumatic life event. 

                                                 PTSD IN THE DSM-5 (IN 2013)
In 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual was updated. PTSD was changed from being categorized as an anxiety disorder, to a “trauma or stressor-related disorder.” One of the reasons for this change is that PTSD is not only exhibited as anxiety. 

Psychiatrist Dr. Tracey Marks explains: “with the Diagnostic and statistical manual that came out in 2013, it was moved to the category of trauma and stress-related disorders. The significance of this is that PTSD is more than anxiety. People have very complex emotions afterward that include guilt, shame, and anger and those are just examples…but lots of things more than just anxiety”.

Did any of this surprise you? Now that the history has been summarised, The next will look at the symptoms, in a two-part post. There is a lot to unpack, and I think it’s best to deliver some of the information in bite sized pieces. See you soon!

To Your Success,
Juan

 

Warning Signs of Suicide


Suicide

I was married to a man who threatened to commit suicide if he didn’t get his way.  More than once. In our very short marriage, the emotional rollercoaster took everything out of me. You cant imagine what this does to a person’s psyche. I didn’t know it at the time, but came to realize, he was a Narcissist. His behaviors were extreme. This blog has some amazing resources, if you suspect you are in a relationship with a Narc.

Suicide is incredibly serious. Since Miss USA Cheslie Kryst’s death, I have watched several interviews with people in her circle. No one saw it coming. Almost all expressed dismay, at the thought of possibly missing the signs. Depression and Suicide are closely linked. In my line of work, we are required to ask about suicidal and homicidal ideation and intention, during every substantive encounter. 

Sadly, Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the US. Stats show nearly 50,000 suicides, and more than a million attempts. It appears that 70% of suicides are committed by white males, but more women attempt suicide than men. In general, the younger someone is, the less likely they are to commit suicide. Even so, there seems to be an onslaught of young people now taking their own lives. While some suicides are out of the blue, very often there are warning signs. Unfortunately, these warning signs often go unnoticed or worst, ignored.

Be aware of these common suicide warning signs, and you may save a life:

  1. Feeling hopeless. If someone is miserable and doesn’t believe there’s any hope of a better existence, suicide can be a logical conclusion for them. One possible cure for hopelessness is to prove that the ability to alter the future exists. For example, set one small goal; five pushups or to lose two pounds. Accomplishing a small goal is a way to prove that the future is alterable.
  2. Lack of interest in activities that were once pleasurable. This is one of the primary signs of depression. For instance, if you, or someone you know, has always loved to watch baseball, it would be unusual to suddenly lose interest in that activity.
  3. Talking about suicide. Many people that are considering suicide mention it at some point. If you know someone that seems interested in the topic of suicide, that’s potentially a serious warning sign. They might ask you how you’d commit suicide, mention it in the news, or even ask your opinion of people that have done it.
  4. Intentional isolation. People who drastically reduce their social interactions are often also contemplating suicide. When people are miserable, they tend to isolate themselves from everyone else in the world. If your normally sociable friend rarely makes an appearance, there could be an issue.
  5. Giving away possessions. People considering suicide can still be concerned about who receives their possessions when the smoke clears. They often start giving away their tools, furniture, pets, and anything else of value.
  6. Depression. Depression is a primary warning sign of suicide. Remember depression is treatable. There’s no reason to suffer passively, when there are so many treatment options available.
  7. Strong feelings of guilt or shame. People who commit suicide are frequently overwhelmed with feelings of guilt or shame. The best way to deal with these two emotions is therapy. Fortunately, there are many free resources available for this issue as well. An online search will turn up several good possibilities. 
  8. Saying goodbye to friends and family. Committing suicide is like taking a very long trip that you never come back from. Most of us wouldn’t leave on a long trip without saying goodbye. If it feels like someone is giving you a farewell for no apparent reason, that could be a warning sign of an impending suicide.
  9. Stating that others would be better off without them. Many people consider suicide, but decide against it because of the harm they realize it could cause to others. When someone believes that others would actually benefit from their death, that’s a serious warning sign that they intend to harm themselves.

Be on the lookout for these warning signs. Given the prevalence of suicide attempts in this country, you may know someone that will attempt suicide. You’ve likely known others that have considered it, whether you realize it or not.

Suicide is a significant cause of death. If you know the warning signs, you might be able to stop yourself, or someone you know, from ending their life needlessly. Ask, listen, and encourage them to seek help. The number for Suicide and Crisis Hotline is 1800 273 8255. 

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one, use this Depression and Loss worksheet, to help you work through your feelings

To Your Success,
Juan

What Is Depression?


March babies, how are you?!

Wishing you a year filled with happiness, contentment, and more joy than you could ever hope for.

Let’s continue the mental health series, this month the focus is on  Depression.

Shortly after Mss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst’s death, her mom April Simpkins, released a statement which reads in part “While it may be hard to believe, it’s true. Cheslie led both a public and a private life. In her private life, she was dealing with high-functioning depression which she hid from everyone — including me, her closest confidant — until very shortly before her death.” Are you, or someone you know suffering from high functioning Depression? Given all that’s happening in the world, now is not the time to sweep things under the rug. Cheslie’s suicide is a wake up call. Should be.

If you ask a group of people who suffer from clinical depression to define the illness, you’ll get a variety of answers. Depression is a very personal experience, faced by millions. Different people manifest different symptoms. One thing remains clear: depression is a difficult illness, that can destroy your life if left unresolved.

Many people with depression, describe it as a sense of despair, that engulfs everything they do and feel. If you think being depressed is akin to feeling sad, because your favorite team just lost the championship game, you really have no idea, what suffering from this debilitating mental illness truly is. Depression is much deeper, more invasive than sadness or frustration.

Depression takes everything away from you; saps your energy, focus, concentration, and especially your joy. You don’t care about anything; nothing matters, and even people you love can become unimportant. If you’ve felt  depressed for a long time, you become accustomed to the feeling, and any other emotion becomes unfamiliar, and frightening. 

Physical Concerns of Depression
Depression doesn’t only take its toll on your emotions, and mental state; it can cause serious physical problems. You can lose your appetite or eat incessantly. It zaps your energy and motivation. When you’re depressed, you tend to become inactive. This alone can lead to a number of problems, but when added to other physical side effects, it’s easy to see why depression should always be given the care and concern it deserves

In addition, depression can lead to:

  1. 1. Lack of sleep. Insomnia strips the body of the necessary sleep, needed to function properly.
  2. 2. Poor nutrition. When depressed, many people fail to take in proper nutrients. It takes too much effort to plan and prepare a meal. 
  3. 3. Aches and pains. If anyone tells you that your mental state has no effect on your physical state, they are wrong. When you’re depressed, the chemicals in the brain that signal pain, and happiness, are affected in the same way. Physical aches and pains increase, sad feelings kick in, repeating the cycle.
  4. 4. Hygiene issues. Someone suffering from depression doesn’t have the energy or the motivation to be concerned with self-care.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

  •  Constant and severe sadness about everything
  •  Hopelessness
  •  Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  •  Irritability
  •  Trouble concentrating
  •  Loss of interest in things that once interested them
  •  Feeling worthless, useless and strangely guilty for no reason at all
  •  Serious change in weight, one way or the other
  •  Lack of energy and fatigue

Depression is a serious condition and should be treated as such.
As depression progresses, it feeds on itself like a rolling snowball. The longer someone is depressed, the worse it gets, until they see no way out.  It is not uncommon to resign yourself  to being miserable all the time. Depression can be caused by a certain event, change of seasons, loss of someone close, or even a chemical imbalance in the brain. Treatment usually involves counseling or medication that helps alter brain chemistry. 

If you know someone who is depressed, one of the most important things you can do, is to be his or her friend. Talk to them and help them through this period. Help them seek medical care to treat their illness. If you think you may be depressed, talk to a health care provider. Depression doesn’t have to ruin your life! With support, you can move past it, and go on to live a joyful life. 

Download this  FREE copy of a Depression Checklist. Take it with you when you visit your medical provider, especially if the feelings have laster more than two weeks

You Your Success
Juan