Does Counseling Help with Addiction?

Addiction is not an easy thing to beat. Actually, it can be the most difficult thing you ever have to do. Addiction does not play by the rules like you have to do. Your addiction will lie to you and make you believe that what you are doing is good for you even as it is ruining your life. It does not even matter what it is you are addicted to because no matter what it is, it will be incredibly hard to beat, but it is possible. You can do it. Many people who also thought they could never do it have done it before. You can do it too! Those who have never been addicted to anything think it is easy. Some people may say, “why don’t you just stop?” or “I would never do that” but they have no idea what it is really like unless they have been there.

Does Counseling Help With Addiction

Addiction or Abuse?

Drug addiction and abuse are two of the most common mental health problems in Americans. In fact, there are over 20 million adults in the United States who suffer with one of these addictions. Everyone has heard of drug addiction and abuse, but are they the same thing? According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the difference is the number of diagnostic criteria the person has. For example, you are addicted if you have at least three of the seven signs of drug addiction. However, the DSM uses the term dependence rather than addiction. These criteria include:

  • Consuming more of the substance
  • Continuing to use the substance even if it causes issues with school, business, personal life
  • Giving up other interests such as social life, job, and daily activities
  • Spending too much time looking for or trying to get the substance
  • Tolerance (needing more and more to get the same effect)
  • Trying to quit using without being able to
  • Withdrawal (varies depending on the drug)
    • Feeling aggravated
    • Anxiety and stress
    • Depression
    • Hallucinations
    • Nausea and vomiting

Substance Abuse

What exactly is substance abuse then? If the person has at least one, but less than three, of the above criteria, that would be considered substance abuse. With abuse, it is more of an occasional type of drug or alcohol use. For instance, those who abuse alcohol may only drink once or twice a month, but when it happens, they do not know when to stop. With addiction, the problem is continuous and the person is always looking for their next drink (or drug).

Hands on wooden heart

What Addiction Really Means

There have been many experts who believe that addicts have addictive behaviors, so when they try to quit, they will most often just trade one addiction for another. For instance, an alcoholic may quit drinking alcohol but start taking another drug or a smoker may trade nicotine for food. In truth, those with addictive personalities typically will have more than one addiction. For example, some who are addicted to gambling are also addicted to alcohol and those addicted to cigarettes will often drink alcohol as well. This issue is not only applicable to illegal or dangerous substances either. People have become addicted to anything from shopping to video games or even food. Anything that a person does repeatedly and becomes a compulsion can become an addiction. In the same way, addictive behaviors are repeating an activity because it makes the addict feel good. It certainly does not have to be a bad thing, like drugs. In fact, some addictions are good. How do you know the difference? A bad addiction takes away from your life and a good addiction adds to your life.

Some Tips That May Help

Once you realize you have an addiction, it is time to talk to a professional and find out if your addiction is good or bad. Then, if necessary, you can find out how to fix the problem. A therapist or counselor can help you decide what you need to work on. You can also use some of these tips to help you figure out the issue:

  • Accept That There Is No Cure: That’s right, there is no magic pill that can cure your addiction. There is no magic addiction fairy who can wave a magic wand and stop those cravings and urges you may be feeling. Addiction is a disease you will have to deal with your entire life. You cannot just say, “I used to be an addict” because you still are and will always be an addict. You are a recovering addict because you still have that little voice inside you telling you that it is okay to drink that beer or use that drug. Addiction is like a dormant cancer cell inside your body that will stay dormant until you feed it.
  • Get it Out of the House: No matter what it is you are addicted to, get it out of your house. Of course, if it is food that you are addicted to, you cannot get rid of all the food. However, you can get rid of those foods that are most tempting for you such as chocolate, pizza, ravioli, and donuts.
  • Have a Support System: It could be your family, friends, co-workers, or even the members of your AA or NA meetings. You need to have someone to call if you are feeling stressed or if you feel like you want to drink/smoke/gamble/etc. Without a support system, it is harder to stay on track. You can do it, but you will be much more successful if you have someone to back you up when you need it.
  • Talk to Your Doctor: Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor what you are doing and ask for some help. Antidepressants such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) and fluoxetine (Prozac) are two that help curb the cravings and take the edge off the anxiety.
  • Write Down the Pros and Cons: Take a few minutes to write down the pros and cons of beating your addiction. For example, you may put your family and your health in the pros column and job loss and relationship troubles in the cons column.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to let your psychologist know about it because he or she will surely have some tips for you. Your doctor can help you as well, but, the best thing to do is speak to a mental health professional right away. They will help you begin to understand your addiction. The more you understand, the easier it will be to fight and win.

Pensive woman

Could You Be Addicted?

Although you need a professional to answer that question, there are a few things you can ask yourself if you think you may have a problem:

  • Are you missing days or showing up late at work due to using the substance?
  • Are you using the substance while doing things you used to do sober such as hanging out with friends or watching television?
  • Do you find yourself thinking about the substance during the day?
  • Do you go out of your way to find or use the substance?
  • Has using the substance caused any problems with friends or family?
  • Has using the substance caused you to make mistakes at work or school?
  • Have you had any legal problems due to your substance use?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you definitely should talk to a counselor or your physician. No matter what, you need to get treatment before it becomes a bigger problem than you can handle. Sites like BetterHelp can help you find the right person and you do not even have to leave the house. Don’t wait until it causes you serious trouble. You can talk to someone today and start to feel better.


Marie MiguelAbout The Author

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.


 

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13 Safe Ways To Deal With Paranoia

Can a person be their own enemy? Even though we should feel safe in our own company, for a paranoid person, they may never feel at ease with themselves. We all experience insecurities a paranoid person experiences constant feeling that never goes away. Though there are different kinds of paranoia, most people perceive the world as a dangerous place to be. There is no known cause of paranoia and individuals experience it differently.

Anxiety and paranoia may be related, but they are not the same condition. Paranoia is an extreme case of anxiety. A paranoid person sees danger surrounding them and may have delusions that are not easy to break. With paranoia, you are likely to perceive conspiracy around your relations with others and attack others for the feelings. You may become offended easily and find it hard to cope with criticism. How can you deal with this condition? 

13 Safe Ways To Deal With Paranoia

Find a jury

Your friends can help you determine the degree of your delusions. Talking about your feelings to them can help you know if you are clinically paranoid. Since most people develop such symptoms depending on various situations, your friends can tell you if you need help or it is a normal condition that is temporary. Don’t conclude before getting a second opinion from those who know you.

Evaluate yourself

Other people may not know the cause of your paranoia, but only you can find out through examining yourself. Studies reveal that this condition can be brought about by past painful life experiences that you may not have gotten over. Write down your feelings as you assess the intensity of what you feel.  

Practice dialetic thinking

Being in public can make you judge things inaccurately if you are paranoid. With the help of a friend, they can help you practice dialetic thinking by asking them their views on something before reacting negatively towards others. This will help you think again about your perception so that you don’t jump into conclusions.

Woman watching railway

Develop a sense of self

Instead of attacking others based on your thoughts, start developing a sense of self to help you control your reactions. Don’t always assume that people are planning to harm you or are talking about you. Most of the times, all these thoughts are false but just a delusion in the head.

See the good in situations

In most cases, a paranoid person may not realize that they are mentally ill. They tend to believe that their thoughts are a reality without finding facts in situations. Instead of focusing on your negative thoughts, try to see the good in situations before confronting others. 

Get support

You may be experiencing delusions due to substance abuse. Heaver drinkers sometimes get hallucinations. Statistics state that about 80% of cocaine users face paranoia. TN drug and alcohol treatment will help you fight drug addictions and get rid of symptoms of hallucinations.

People also assume that prescription drugs are safe to use. Taking high dosages of these pills can also make you paranoid. Stimulants such as caffeine are not healthy when taken in large quantities since they affect your sleeping patterns and can cause paranoia. Change your lifestyle and get assistance from a professional who can help you with such addictions.

Friends support

Find an exit tactic

In a situation where you are in public and feel you can’t control your feelings, find a strategy to leave. You can excuse yourself or ask a friend to take you home. This will prevent the symptoms from getting out of hand and causing a scene in the midst of strangers.

Plan on how to handle triggers

It may not be possible to skip classes or work because of paranoia. You can, however, identify the common triggers so that you can know how to deal with them as you go on with your life. For instance, to feel at peace, if a particular area makes you feel in danger, start by avoiding it.

Distract your mind from paranoid thoughts

Not dwelling on things that make you feel paranoid can help you feel better. Hang out with friends and avoid being alone so that you can stop perceiving threats around you. Go out for walks or entertain yourself with music or a movie. 

Avoid self-judgment

Sometimes, you may be too hard on yourself due to uncontrollable emotions. Instead of judging yourself, examine your thoughts to find out why you react the way you do in different situations. Self-judgment can cause depression and low self-esteem.

Watch out for symptoms of paranoid personality disorder

Check if your symptoms range from suspicion, bearing grudges, withdrawal from others, rage as well as hostility. Understanding your symptoms can help you determine the severity of your condition. This is because mental states differ and some people confuse anxiety with paranoia.

Take prescribed medication

A doctor can prescribe long-term medicines that can help you reduce the symptoms of paranoia. Ensure that you take the medication as prescribed as you go for medical check-ups regularly.  A doctor can recommend a change in dosage according to your symptoms.

Talking with friend coffee

Attend therapy

With the help of a therapist, you can determine if you are experiencing mild or severe paranoia. Therapy can help you comprehend your feelings as a journey to recovery. The wide range of treatment gives you the liberty to switch therapists if you feel you are not getting help from one. Your therapy session should make you feel comfortable so that you can open up to them. Being paranoid can make you develop trust issues, but a therapist is a confidential professional that you will not share your problems with others.

Final thoughts

Even though it is normal to feel insecure, constant fear of the unknown is a sign of paranoia. Identifying the mental condition in its early stages can help you prevent it from worsening. Our mechanisms above will help you find your peace again as you address the issues making you feel paranoid. Do not face the problem on your own but raise it with others as you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

 

 

 

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How Secondary Gain Fuels Alcoholism

While you may not know it by this name, secondary gain exists in alcoholism, whether we like it or not. Secondary gain plays a huge role in addiction, and, can be a significant contributor to denial and likelihood of relapse once sober.

Simply put, secondary gain equates to: what specifically alcohol is achieving for you, personally, as a “side-benefit”. If they go unchecked, these side-benefits can later morph into the main reasons we’re using alcohol at all.

But, there are ways to understand these underlying factors in our addictions, and undo the damage done. Let’s take a look.

While denial exists to protect our access to the coping mechanism called alcohol; secondary gain is more like – “what benefits am I getting from alcohol, that I may not have thought of?”….and what issues do those point me to?

How Secondary Gain Fuels Alcoholism

Consider the key questions:

  • How has alcohol served me?
  • How has alcohol not served me?

What has alcohol helped me do? What feelings does it help me achieve, that I’m unable to achieve  in other ways? What situations does it help me cope with, and what feelings am I running from, in those scenarios?

I could be drinking because…

  • When I have a drink, I feel “more worthy” or “good enough” again.
  • When I have a drink, I feel more important or respected
  • Or, when I have a drink, I feel more lovable, accepted…. or like “what I say matters”.

At one point in our lives, having a drink was ONE way to cope, but for the alcoholic in us, it quickly became the ONLY means to cope, because of these secondary benefits it gave us.

So we’ve learned over time, a survival strategy belief, for instance:

  • “the way to feel good enough again, is to drink”
  • “the way to feel worthy again, even in the face of outside stressors, is to have a drink”
  • “the way to feel like I matter again, is alcohol”
  • “the way to feel competent again, is to drink”

It’s clear therefore, that we’re using alcohol as a means to quell the underlying self-esteem beliefs, like “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not worthy”, “I’m not important”, or “I’m not acceptable”.

Do you recognise these underlying themes in yourself? In your behaviours when stressed?

Now, if we address these underlying core beliefs, therapeutically, (instead of with alcohol) is it clear  to you that there would be much less need to even turn to a coping mechanism at all?

These are the core elements of self – the highly individual, person-centered elements, that we must understand about ourselves, beyond the group support mechanisms such as A/A, N/A, mutual aid support, etc. Often these are discovered and explored in private rehab settings, such as the folks over at alcohol rehab Scotland.

These elements of secondary gain are the underlying drivers behind the addiction – that sit underneath the addiction. It is the fear of these underlying issues surfacing, untempered, that then drives the patterns of denial, and keeps us in the cycle of addiction, without ever truly understanding *why* we feel the way they do.

Bar Counter

So…How to break the cycle of alcoholism using this understanding?

  • Using the questions above, take the time to consider what secondary advantages alcohol could be giving (or have given you previously) in your life
  • To help this along, try to identify common patterns in your trigger situations, “I always turn to alcohol in _____ situation;” “I always feel like a drink when ____ happens”. What might you be trying to avoid, or gain, in these situations?
  • What feelings does alcohol bring to the fore in these situations, that weren’t there before? What does alcohol help you feel in these situations?
  • When you *do* have a drink, what does it make you/get you/get for you?
  • Now consider the mirror opposite – e.g. when you’re tempted to drink, and you don’t drink, what feelings surface at that point, that weren’t there before?
  • Now using your answers from the above, fill in the blanks: “What makes me ________ is drinking alcohol”; and “The way to feel _________ is to drink alcohol”
  • Usually, the blanks in the above are your core issues and core beliefs which need attention, to change the pattern of the addiction in your life.
  • Finally….stop blaming yourself for the small relapses – but instead – use them to help you truly know yourself, and your addiction, better. Examine what led to the binge or relapse, what you were trying to cope with at the time – and understand that these moments point you to the underlying issues – and as such – are a huge help in overcoming alcoholism in the longer term.

Often times the issues revealed from this exercise are deep core issues, self-esteem blocks, or specific traumas from the past, that need professional mental health assistance.

Just as in our step work, they require us to face our issues directly, accept responsibility for them, and accept that we have a human tendency to choose a negative behaviour over a positive one, whilst in the darker clutches of addiction.

But moving through these issues, getting the third-party help and fellowship we need, and making consistent progress, no matter how little, will ultimately result in us simply no longer needing the coping mechanism we once did….because the underlying truth has been faced.

Now, let’s be realistic, there’s much more to maintaining abstinence and long term recovery than just these issues….but, when we add this self discovery to the bigger picture of mutual aid support, sponsorship, and other mental health care tailored to individual needs – then recovery can feel much more realistic, and one degree more achievable. And that can make all the difference.

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7 Ways Dogs ‘the Mood Boosters’ Can Help You Fight Depression

Dogs have a life-changing impact on you and your family. Dogs not only have an ‘immune-boosting’ impact on your newly-born babies but also they have an impressive ‘mood-boosting’ power to cheer you up in the toughest situation. Whether it’s your mental health or physical health, your dog unconsciously endeavors to keep that in check and get you back on track. Your pooch can help you with your anxiety, stress and depression. Studies have shown that therapy dogs have helped children with autism and people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Did you know that there are two types of mental health issues we are mostly likely prone to due to our family history? We are either prone to anxiety or depression. My family has depression-prone history which makes it easier for me to get upset and depressed on little stuff. I always seek natural ways to cure medical issues rather than depending entirely on medicines for life. My friend, Martin, suggested me to bring home a dog, Leo. Leo had a huge impact on my life and helped me stay engaged with the cute furball during free time at home.

7 Ways Dogs Can Help Your Fight Depression

How Dogs Help us?

Among all the pets, dogs are most attuned to human emotions and behaviors. They have the ability to understand our commands, interpret the tone of our voice, gestures and body language. The man’s best friend looks into the eyes of his owner to understand the emotional state of the person. A person in similar room may not notice the change in your emotions and expressions, but a dog will always be the first one to notice. He is no less than a mind-reader who can understand what you must be thinking and feeling after the dog has acted in a certain way.

Ways in Which Mood-Busters Help Us:

Most of the pet-owners know what joy and happiness a pet brings in their life, but they are not really aware of the mental and physical health benefits they are reaping due to the pet. Various studies have been conducted on dogs and their owner’s mental and physical health which have shown that dogs are literally ‘man’s best friend’. American Heart Association conducted studies to prove the fact that dog ownership, in specific, lowers the risk of heart problems and ensures longevity.

Labrador sniffing hand

Below are the seven reasons why you should bring home these ‘mood-boosting’ Fidos to fight depression:

  1. Improved Mood:

Increase in physical activity with a companion pet doubles the production of serotonin, one of the ‘happiness hormones’. It is a neurotransmitter that assists in the transmission of nerve impulses within the brain. Research has shown that reduced level of serotonin causes depression. Therefore, a pet dog is a necessary addition to your family to enjoy happiness and overall well-being.

  1. Unconditional Love and Acceptance:

We all can be selfish one way or the other, but dogs are different. They teach us to be selfless, be open and share more laughter with the world. People suffering from depression need someone patient enough to listen to them and still continue to love them unconditionally. Your Fido will never leave your side and they will make your life simpler and easier to live. Why? Dogs don’t really complicate anything in spite of your drastic mood swings. Teri Wright, PhD from WebMD, says that the stability of human-animal bond benefits the people suffering from anxiety or depression.

  1. Reduce Blood Pressure:

Petting a dog itself is one of the most relaxing act one can do while sitting on a couch. The contact with pet during hugs, licks, and kisses increases the release of happy hormones in the blood stream. The level of endorphins increases and the stress hormones ‘cortisol’ drops down to a great extent. Study conducted at Harvard Medical School has proved that petting a dog reduces heart rate and, therefore, blood pressure.

Dogs make daily physical activity an essential part of our routine no matter how gloomy we may be feeling. We have to follow active routines to keep the pooch happy and well-behaved. Studies have shown an increased physical activity reduces blood pressure. In consequence, improved heart and mental health are enjoyed by dog owners.

  1. Disciplined Routine:

Dogs only follow routines. They can easily get upset or anxious if the schedule is not followed. It is due to anxiety that many behavioral problems such as destructive chewing, excessive barking, etc develop in pooches. You will have to serve food on time to keep the Fido relaxed. Have you tried following raw diet trends for the pooch? Serve natural and raw if you prefer natural treatments for yourself.

Following routines for the pooch will help you set a daily schedule for yourself. Did you know that timetables have great ability to drive us through the day? The patterns will keep you engaged and disciplined.

Cute puppy

  1. Build Responsibility:

Dogs are a huge responsibility as they have a mind equal to that of a toddler. They provide meaning to our life. You will be encouraged to wake up early in the morning for the sake of your pet. Providing comfort and happiness to the pooch will give you a sense of achievement and satisfaction. It will keep you away from destructive feelings due to depression. Your dog will become the true meaning of your life again.

The continual engagement with the dog will not let your thoughts stray away on the negative side. Moreover, caring for the dog will help you take care of yourself.

  1. Good Company:

Leo’s company is what I adore about him the most! Dogs are your faithful companions who will never leave your side. No matter how much angry you have been the moment before, he will forget it immediately if you fulfill his basic needs and wishes.

Depression forces you to avoid people as you desire a silent companionship. Dogs can quietly listen to you for hours without being critical, judgmental or opinionated.

  1. Improved Social Skills:

Bringing dogs home is equal to opening yourself up to many people around. Dogs wouldn’t enjoy staying at home all day long. Ultimately, you will be advised to take them out for a walk or to dog parks daily to exhaust their extra energies. Moreover, you may have to visit the vet, dog behaviorist, pet sitter and so on for your dog’s sake. It will bring you thousands of opportunities to meet new people and socialize more often.

You will not have to fight depression alone rather you may find like-minded people who are fighting the challenge of depression as well. Wouldn’t it be amazing to do it together?


James ShoreAbout The Author

James is a part-time dog-trainer and dog behavior consultant with years of experience in dog training and the man behind LabradorTrainingHQ.com. He is interested in finding out fun ways to handle dog behaviors, specifically, Labradors to help dog-owners enjoy their companions at all times.


 

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Getting Through My Miscarriage (Mostly) Sober

This year started off so well for me. I even wrote a blog on Wealthy Affiliate titled 2018 Is Going To Be Amazing because business was coming in and I was feeling so positive. 2018 was going to be the year it all came together for me. I could feel it!

Just two weeks later I found myself in hospital finding out that I was pregnant (huge shock here since I was sterilized), I was losing my baby and my life was in danger. I had an ectopic pregnancy, which is where the fetus embeds outside the womb. There is no chance the baby will be able to make it because it was in my tube and my tube had ruptured. I had internal bleeding and if they didn’t operate I would die.

Honestly I drove to hospital convinced that my appendix had burst and praying for anything else. Funny how you pray for something and then realize that the first option would have been so much easier.

Getting Through My Miscarriage (Mostly) Sober

If you have been following my blog or read my ebook then you will know that my addiction has taken me to some dark and ugly places. The thing is that this experience I went through less than 2 months ago was so intensely painful, it beats anything that I have ever been through hands down. I’ve been beaten, I’ve been abused and I’ve been raped. And I’m still standing… but this miscarriage brought me to my knees.

I didn’t want another baby, that is why I had my tubes cut when my son was born in 2013. But that doesn’t change how I felt when I found out I was pregnant. It was a shock, but it was my baby. Then I was losing it. Having that come at me out of the blue knocked me so flat I can’t even describe the feeling.

One of the big things for me being an addict is that I struggle to cope with intense feelings. My coping mechanism for so many years was drugs and alcohol that it can be very hard for me to sit with uncomfortable feelings and just feel them.

After my opI remember clearly lying on the operating table feeling the anesthetics stinging in my arm, about to knock me out. Tears rolling out of my eyes, wondering how on earth I got to this place. I was just feeling the shock and it felt like seconds later when I woke up vomiting and crying. It was done, my baby was gone.

A few hours after the operation a doctor came in to see me and he said he sees on my chart I am an addict and that I have been prescribed an anti-inflammatory and paracetamol, but he just wants me to know that if I do need it he has prescribed morphine. I was nauseas, emotional and in pain. I told him thank you, I will let him know.

I closed my eyes and I thought about the absolutely divine oblivion that morphine would bring me. All this pain would magically go away, I could block the events of the last few hours out.

It dawned on me suddenly that not once did I think about the physical pain while considering taking morphine, I didn’t care about the physical pain. I wanted my mind to be blotto. I wanted respite from the emotional and spiritual pain I was in.


When the doctor came back to check on me I asked him to please scratch out the morphine on my chart. I must not have it. It hurt just saying that to him. I was going to do this the hard way, the recovery way. Have I said yet how much I resent paracetamol? I’m not sure but really I do. When everyone else is getting all the good stuff I get paracetamol after an operation. That stuff doesn’t even work for a headache… but I will take them anyway and just hope that they do something.

A week after my operation I went to my GP for a checkup and he said I had a slight infection so I was put on antibiotics. He asked me how the pain was and I told him awful so he gave me some more meds. I barely looked at the meds, I was struggling to cope and I have had the same GP for nearly 7 years.

That was on a Monday afternoon. On the Wednesday afternoon at about 4pm I started feeling edgy, anxious and short tempered. I checked my watch to see if it was time for my meds… still a few hours till meds time. Then I started grinding my teeth…. and connected the dots. My husband was home early and I asked him to please check the medication. He came back to me and said it doesn’t look like there is anything addictive. But I knew. I could feel it. The hunger. I asked him to check everything in it online for me please.

I was too jittery and uncomfortable to do it myself. I was in the bedroom and I kept the door closed.

He came back and told me it has Tramadol in it. Geez I even published a blog post on my website about Tramadol. Forehead slap.

I couldn’t believe it had taken me 3 days to realize I was high. I felt so darn stupid. Then again I had been feeling dissociated a lot since the operation, so maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

I phoned my mother to let her know, just to be on the safe side. Who knows what might happen even though I have  years clean time behind me. It was a little scary. I looked up the withdrawal symptoms of Tramadol and it looked quite rotten but I had not been taking more than was prescribed and it was only 3 days of use.

I take Seroquel in small doses to help me with my insomnia and when I am struggling with my bipolar disorder or under a lot of stress I chat to my doctor and increase my Seroquel dosage for a while.

I got hold of my GP on whatsapp and let him know he gave me addictive medication and asked if I could double up my Seroquel for the night to get myself to sleep and he said that is fine, along with an apology.

Fortunately I fell asleep quite quickly and aside from feeling a little but ditsy for a couple of days I coped fine, thankfully.

Beautiful white and pink flowers

A number of people have told me that I should take this further with my GP but really this is as much my responsibility in my eyes. Every time I get prescribed medication I have always reminded my GP and when I ask the pharmacist for over the counter medication I always tell him too. When I get home with any new medication I always do a final check before taking anything.

This time I did none of those things, I was prescribed medication and I came home and took it. It is a lesson for me to never left my guard up. My recovery is my responsibility.

The funny thing is that when the physical pain starting easing up it was awful. When I was in physical pain it took my attention away from  my emotional pain. When the physical pain was gone then I started having to face what I was feeling emotionally. It reminded me of when I used to cut myself to get away from what I was feeling.

It’s been 7+ weeks since my miscarriage and things are a lot easier now. For the first few weeks it was such a roller-coaster of pain and tears. I did write about my miscarriage on my parenting blog 10 days after it happened, but I couldn’t quite get the courage or strength to share about it here too until now.


Here are some of the things that helped me to get through this awful experience sober (or mostly anyway):

  • Talking about my feelings with my husband, mom, sisters and close girlfriends.
  • Writing – both on my blog and in my journal.
  • Being kind to myself – avoiding negative self talk and being loving towards myself.
  • Resting and allowing myself to be sad. Letting myself cry when I felt overwhelmed.
  • Having a session with my counselor when I got out of hospital.
  • Remembering that this is a process and my healing won’t be in a straight line.
  • Allowing myself to grieve for my lost baby.

There are still so many moments of sadness and lots of tears. I can hardly think about what happened without shedding some tears.

Life is going to throw curve balls and even in long term recovery there will be tough moments. Being clean doesn’t mean that things are always going to be easy, in fact some of the hard moments are really intense, but I don’t need drugs or alcohol to blot them out. I can face them and I can get through it in one piece.

What hard things have you had to face in recovery?

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Top 5 Tech Products for Managing Mental Health

When it comes to managing your mental health, you usually don’t think of technology as the number one solution. Therapy and medication are much more common. But the truth is, there is some great technology out there that can help you manage your mental health in accordance with the medication and treatment plan that your provider has given you. Let’s take a look at five technologies

Apps Mental Health

Reveal

Reveal is targeted towards a very specific segment of people with mental health problems – those with autism. It monitors the mood and behavior of an autistic person, giving the caregiver a great deal more information about what is going on in their head. Reveal can help to prevent meltdowns which can sometimes happen with autism, as well as help parents and other caregivers to be able to respond when a child or autistic person want something but cannot communicate exactly what that is.




ELF Emmit

ELF Emmit is an all-around system for improving your mind and body. This tool helps you with learning how to focus better, sleep deeper, meditate and even improve your ability to learn. It might seem a little strange at first, but the technology works with the digital metronome that is very stylish. You wear this metronome around your head and it is able to affect your brain waves to adjust your mind and body to what sort of mood you want to be in. Although it is not necessarily considered a medical device, it does use an accepted scientific principle called PEMT, which stands for pulsed electromagnetic therapy – an FDA approved treatment technique

Feel/Spire

Both Feel and Spire are devices that help you determine what your mood currently is in change it if necessary. Some people wear their emotions openly, but others are more difficult to understand which makes social interaction difficult as well. It is also difficult sometimes to get into your own headspace and be able to make adjustments. But applications like Feel and Spire track your emotions throughout the day and give you personalized coaching that will make it easier to recognize your emotions and deal with them in a healthy way. These applications can detect sadness, happiness, anger, stress and much more. They use bio-signals in order to measure these things.

Mobile showing apps

Fisher-Wallace Stimulator

Another tool that is changing the mental health landscape is called the Fisher Wallace stimulator. This is an FDA approved device that helps to treat depression, anxiety and even more mental health issues. Experts are even hoping that illnesses such as bipolar disorder might benefit from devices like these. The Fisher-Wallace stimulator is not available to the public without the recommendation and supervision of your provider, but neural stimulation therapy is going to be one of the technologies that help to eradicate mental health problems in the coming future.




Pacifica

Finally, there is a mobile app called Pacifica that is an extremely valuable resource when it comes to mental health treatment. Apps like Pacifica can help people learn how to manage their anxiety better; get out of depressive episodes when they have them and in general, live healthier happier lives. Pacifica uses cognitive behavioral therapy as well as techniques for relaxation and cycle breaking in order to treat a variety of mental health symptoms.

One final tech product that has been very useful in managing mental health is the medical alert bracelet. The technology on medical alert bracelets has advanced so much now that they are being used for more than just emergencies. You should find the best one and make sure that you have it on you.

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Life Is Short, Stop Worrying About Needless Things

It’s often easy to get caught up in current events, unsurprisingly so. After all, we are living in the now, and as adults or even older teenagers, we start getting a bit more interested about what’s happening in the big wide world rather than just our house and our friend’s house down the street. Despite the wise words of Sir Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is power”, with knowledge nowadays usually comes great depression. The moment you look at the news you are simply bombarded with dozens of articles about recent tragedies, “Family of 5 found dead”, “House prices rising”, “Series of terrorist attacks” and god knows what other terrible headlines one might find in the average newspaper you find on the bus.




If those things are constantly being absorbed by your psyche on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that we find ourselves worrying about everything all the time, with stress is eating away at our physical and mental health. Let’s look at why you should stop worrying, and have a slightly more optimistic mindset in life, rather than worrying about every single little thing.


Image source: Pexels

Before you start worrying, think if it’s relevant to you

It might sound somewhat selfish to say, but no matter how much you find yourself being sad about the terrorist attack that happened halfway across the globe and no matter how of a humane gesture it might be, ultimately, you have no control over it. Or well, likely no control, unless you go and sign up for a rescue team or charity of some sorts, it’s probably out of your reach. Now think to yourself, if you know this, what can you do with this information? You can “know” it, for sure, and you can worry about it if you so desire, but can you actually act on it? Probably not, so before you go and read into the recent tragedy on the front page, think to yourself, “what benefit is there for this to be at the forefront of my thoughts for the next few weeks?”.


Image source: Pexels

What’s going to happen, will happen

Life likes to throw punches at us when we least expect it, that’s the nature of the beast. Once again, we can sit around and worry about how bad things might be, or you can try to live in the now and have a slightly more optimistic outlook on things. Worried about your credit rating? Worried about not being able to get a decent mortgage? Now you can even get a loan with a terrible rating through peer loans, as there is no credit check.




Worried about the state of the housing market and rising prices? The world is vast and you can always move somewhere where the housing prices are a bit more reasonable. Spending too much time thinking about your child’s success in school? Do your best to help them, but ultimately it’s up to them to make the right decisions. Going through an existential crisis? Try and think about things that fuel you and roll with the punches as life goes along rather than overthinking the bigger picture. These might all be minute things, but they add up, so if you find yourself worrying about all of them at all times, your health can seriously suffer as a result. Try being more optimistic, and distance yourself sometimes to be able to objectively look at the situation at hand.

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Helping Your Mental Health Survive The Holidays

When you’re already suffering from mental health issues, every day can be a fight. Add in the pressure of the festive season, and you could soon find yourself struggling to make it through the holidays. Whether you’re coping with addiction or you suffer from stress and anxiety, the holidays can be one of the toughest times of the year.

Image: Pexels

The good news is that there is help out there to get you through this tricky time. Use the following advice as a starting point for helping your mental health survive the holidays.

Keep up your regular routine

It can be tough to stay in control during the holidays, but having a set routine can help. Make sure you go to bed at the same time, eat healthily and try to exercise as well. Even when you’ve got time off work, try to keep things as normal as possible and avoid the temptation to stay in bed and hide under the covers. Keeping your schedule full will help take your mind off the season so that you can just focus on you and your mental health.




Out of sight, out of mind

The holidays can be a tough time for a recovering addict. With social invitations landing in your inbox regularly, the temptation to relapse can be especially great at this time of year. The saying goes ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ which is something you can use to help you stay on track during the party season. If you know that a social occasion is going to revolve around drinking, you might want to stay away this time. Instead, plan other activities with friends and colleagues that don’t involve drinking, like movie nights and dinners that will help you enjoy the holiday season in a healthier way. Try not to turn your attention to eating instead – there are ways you avoid the temptation of holiday treats at Christmas to help keep your health and waistline on track.

Don’t be alone

When you’re feeling down around the holidays, or indeed any other time of year, it can be tempting to just cut yourself off from everyone. Even if you are spending the holidays alone – find ways to be around people. Volunteer at shelters or hospitals or speak to others about spending the holidays with them – there are places you can go where you’ll benefit from some company rather than cutting yourself off completely.

If you do find the holidays difficult, you should speak to someone about the things that you’re feeling. Get advice from friends or family or talk to professional counselling services like BlueskyPsychology – it’s much easier to deal with a problem if you talk to someone. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and reach out to someone over the holidays, the person on the other end will want to help.

Keeping busy and active during the holidays can help you to embrace it, and perhaps even enjoy yourself. Stay on track with your goals and meditate daily for the best way to keep your focus and not fall behind. Think about how you can make the best of the holidays; they’ll be over before you know it!

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Understanding Anxiety Disorders in Canada

The term “anxiety” is becoming more commonly used, but is often misunderstood. Individuals will use the term when referring to feelings of nervousness, stress, or anxiousness, but anxiety is much more than that.

Anxiety is an intense worry about future events that can even result in physical symptoms. There are various anxiety disorders, each characterized by different causes and resulting symptoms.

Even though you may not neatly fit into one of these ‘boxes’, Some types of anxiety disorders include: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Disorder.

Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Causes

GAD is believed to have a few risk factors that increase one’s chances of having the disorder. These risk factors are: genetics (it runs in the family), being female (substantially more common amongst women) and having a timid or negative personality.

 Symptoms

General symptoms include:

  • Obsession over small concerns
  • Inability to relax
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty handling uncertainty

Physical symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension and tension headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Treatments

The first type of treatment available is psychotherapy (psychological counseling). Aside from this, the other treatment options are various medications, typically anti-depressants.

Lifestyle changes can also make a difference. Try eating healthier, exercising, making sleep a priority, and quitting smoking and drinking.




Social Anxiety Disorder

Causes

Some factors that may play a role in causing social anxiety are: inherited traits (if it runs in the family), one’s brain structure (the portion responsible for fear may be overactive), and one’s environment (it may arise after an embarrassing or unpleasant social situation).

Symptoms

Emotional symptoms include:

  • Fear of being judged
  • Fear of interacting with strangers
  • Fear of physical symptoms that may be noticeable or embarrassing
  • Expecting the worst possible outcomes during a social situation
  • Avoiding common social situations all together (work, school, gatherings, outings)

Physical Symptoms include:

  • Blushing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Treatments

Similarly to GAD, psychotherapy is a popular treatment option. Medication-wise, Paxil and Zoloft are the most common prescriptions.

The same lifestyle changes listed for GAD can also aid in reducing the symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder.

Social anxiety disorder

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Causes

Separation Anxiety Disorder is most common amongst children. The causes can include: a new child-care situation (day-care, preschool, etc.), a new sibling, a new home, or family stress/tension.

Symptoms

Your child may display these symptoms:

  • Recurrent excessive distress about being away from home or from their parents.
  • Constant worry that something bad will happen
  • Refusing to be away from home
  • Repeated nightmares about separation
  • Excessive worry about losing a parent (IE: to illness)

Treatments

Some practices you can implement in your home to reduce the symptoms of separation anxiety in your child include:

  • Practicing saying good-byes
  • Refraining from prolonging good-byes
  • Timing good-byes appropriately (IE: not when your child is hungry, tired, or upset already).
  • Give your child something to look forward to while you’re gone.

Summing up

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Separation Anxiety Disorder each embody unique causes, triggers, emotions, and symptoms.

Regardless whether it’s one time occurrence or a lifelong disorder, 1 in 4 Canadians will have an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. With those statistics, it is important that society has an understanding of what anxiety disorders are, what they encompass, and how to deal with them.

This can refer to handling your own anxiety, or providing support for someone in your life who is suffering from anxiety in one form or another.

References

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Clear Your Mind: Why You Should Meditate Every Day

“The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts, it’s to stop letting them control you”

Most of you will have heard of meditation. When people say ‘meditation’ they probably think about men in a monastery somewhere in China. But mediating isn’t only for the religious, and it certainly isn’t about sitting in the same spot for hours on end. It actually has many benefits and is something which many successful people do each morning to prepare for the day ahead.

Why you should meditate every day

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Meditation Relieves Stress

Stress is one of those things that we all experience in our daily lives. It could be from work, personal things or even addiction. Stress can cause us to become anxious, ill and even depressed. Of course, the usual methods of dealing with anxiety and depression involve going to the doctors and receiving medication or enrolling in Christian depression counselling. However, meditating for just five minutes each morning can be massively beneficial to your mental health as it allows you to focus on your body, the flow of blood in your veins and your breathing. You can lock the world out for a few moments and connect to yourself.

Self-Awareness

Meditation involves you sitting in a quiet area, closing your eyes and usually listening to a tape of some kind. The tape will usually consist of the narrator telling you to relax your muscles, calm your breathing and listen to your body functioning. Spending the time each day to sit and meditate helps you connect to your body and gives you a sense of self-awareness. It is relaxing and energising all at once.




It Encourages You To Be Healthy

Meditation can also have an unexpected benefit; it can make you want to eat more healthy and practice a healthier lifestyle. The reason for this is your self-awareness allows you to connect to your body in a more integral way, which in turn makes you want to look after your body even more. Eating healthy, unprocessed foods and practicing gentle exercise such as yoga can really make you feel alive and invigorated.

It Makes You Happy

Spending that essential ‘me time’ each day can make you feel happier in the long run. Reducing your stress levels and taking care of your body can result in you feeling happy, relaxed and full of energy.

The Practice Benefits Cardiovascular and Immune Health

It’s not just your mental health that will benefit from practicing meditation each day. It’s also your body. Meditation actually releases certain chemicals into your bloodstream which open up your blood vessels and allow your blood pressure to drop. It can be a huge help to those who suffer from high blood pressure due to stress or medication, and could even negate the use of blood pressure medication. It is certainly a great way to keep your body flowing and oxygen reaching your essential organs. Relaxation can also make your immune system stronger, meaning that the next time a bug goes round the office, you might be able to avoid it.

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