The Scary Trifecta of Mental Health -- Anxiety, Depresson and Bipolar

            I’m a counselor, right?  So I figure it would be good to write something about anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder, a trifecta of mental health experiences you’ve probably heard about. 

 

Cease and desist complaining!

Cease and desist complaining!

                                                                   

 Random Facts About Anxiety

The constant and continually changing worries of people with anxiety disorder are mostly about everyday matters; they can’t shake the feeling that something bad will happen and they will not be prepared. (missing an appointment, losing a job, having an accident)  Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S. 

            Included in anxiety conditions are various phobias like social phobia, agoraphobia and OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder.  And if you’ve ever had a panic attack, you know those symptoms of heart racing, numbness and  tingling in your extremities, short, gasping breaths can send you to the emergency room, thinking you’re having a heart attack!  That’s how scary anxiety can be. 

            As shown on the thermal images of the picture above, the brain’s chemistry is directly affected in anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. 

 

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Depression

Is more than just sadness.   People with depression may experience a lack of interest and pleasure in daily activities, significant weight loss or gain, insomnia or excessive sleeping, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

            A recent study revealed that in general, 300 million people worldwide experience depression.  That’s 300l,000,000 – a lot!  About 50% have both anxiety and depression.

            As in anxiety, the brain’s chemistry is impacted by an overload of adrenaline creating cortisol, the stress hormone.  High levels of cortisol can wear down the brain’s ability to function properly, so you definitely want to stop that production as quickly as possible! 

            Fortunately, depression is treatable. A combination of therapy and antidepressant medication can help ensure recovery. (American Psychological Association). 

 

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 Bipolar Disorder

A serious mental illness in which common emotions become intensely and often unpredictably magnified. Individuals with bipolar disorder can quickly swing from extremes of happiness, energy and clarity to sadness, fatigue and confusion. These shifts can be so devastating that individuals may choose suicide.

All people with bipolar disorder have manic episodes — abnormally elevated or irritable moods that last at least a week and impair functioning. But not all become depressed (WebMD)

            Although bipolar disorder is a disruptive, long-term condition, you can keep your moods in check by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder can be controlled with medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).

 What Can Be Done About These Three?

            If things are bad enough, you may need an antidepressant and/or anti-anxiety medication.  With bipolar disorder, you generally need to see a psychiatrist to see if you will benefit from a mood stabilizer as well. 

Some other helpful things you can do on your own:

·         Science agrees that food can be a powerful tool for people dealing with depression and anxiety.  The good and bad news:  Sugar throughout the day with ice cream and candy needs to be cut way down.  And, of course, as we have all heard (but might not heed) the messages of no grains, no dairy, more healthy fats, medium amounts of protein and most importantly, lots of vegetables.

·         Exercise is so beneficial that some people have overcome their symptoms by regular working out, running, or walking.  If you start feeling anxious, doing a few jumping jacks, or a quick walk around the office or home helps give that extra adrenaline a place to exit! 

·         Set healthy boundaries – I once had a client with an extreme case of anxiety and depression who began to speak up for herself, told her family and friends no most of the time so she could choose to say yes when she wanted. (See Yes! I Said No!)

·         Care enough to confront.  Many people avoid confrontation like the plague; as a result, they often stuff anger and resentment so deep it turns into depression.  I have a list of 10 guidelines to help you confront positively that you can receive by contacting me at barb@barbrarussell.com 

·         Practice gratitude.   I believe this is so crucial, it could have gone to the top of the list.  Most people automatically look for what’s wrong (a survival mechanism, after all), but that continual sweep of your environment or hearing what’s wrong repeatedly in the media (including social media), will definitely stress you out!  I recommend writing down 3 new things you are grateful for each day. 

 

I trust this information has been helpful; if I can provide additional information or answer any questions, I am happy to do so. 

Here’s to living well – Barbra Russell   

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How to Have a Healthy Relationship

I was honored to be a resource for this article by Meg Scanlon. Check it out for some specific and practical tips:

https://lovetv.co/how-our-brains-are-designed-to-look-for-whats-wrong/

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How Our Brains Are Designed To Look For What’s Wrong

How Our Brains Are Designed To Look For What’s Wrong

20 Sep

How to turn it around in a relationship

We all want to live our best lives and have the healthiest relationships possible. But we may not know how to get there and what to do. I spoke with Barbra Russell, MA a counselor, speaker and author of Yes! I Said No! about how we can create and maintain a relationship of optimal wellness.

Creating Boundaries

We know that boundaries are important. We understand that we should have them and we know when it feels like someone has crossed them. But how do we set and maintain good boundaries? The biggest fear most people have with boundaries is coming across as rude, harsh or mean, especially when it is someone we care deeply about. We may also worry that we may hurt someone’s feelings or that they may not want to continue to have a relationship with them if we have a serious discussion about boundaries. We want to compromise, but we also need for our own needs to be met. 

Barbra Russell gives us 3 steps to follow when setting a boundary. 

“Step 1: Say what you don’t like (without attacking the others character) Step 2: Say what you want (specifically) Step 3: Set a consequence.”

This sounds pretty simple, but let’s look at exactly how to put it into practice. Barbra explains two examples. Here is an example of a woman who might set a boundary, “Step 1: We’ve been so busy, we don’t take time to show affection and that’s important to me. 

Step 2:So I’d like for you to kiss me every morning before work and we talk to each other for at least half an hour after the kids are asleep. Step 3: I’ll remind you for a few times until we make this a habit.” 

Here is an example of a boundary a man might set, according to Barbra, “Step 1: I need time to myself when I first come home from work so I can clear my mind.

Step 2: I’d like 30 minutes of quiet time before I help with dinner or with the kids. Step 3.I’ll go into my ‘man cave’ every day for 30 minutes.” 

It can feel scary or needy to ask for more affection or for time away from your significant other and kids. We may worry we will hurt their feelings or make them feel judged or criticized. But if we don’t communicate our needs, we can feel stressed or resentful and that can be toxic to a healthy relationship. 

When expressing what you don’t like, try to make it a request that your partner can easily fulfill. Try to keep emotions such as anger, frustration, etc out of the equation. Make sure what you want is something reasonable and specific. The consequence should not skew negative. It may take some time to put the new actions into place, since it can take some time to change and break a habit. So be patient and kind to your partner as this transition is happening. Also ask for your partner to be patient with you. 

Communication Between The Sexes

Communicating with anyone can be hard, and there are some fundamental differences in how men and women think and communicate. Understanding these differences can help us feel more seen and heard. Barbra explains it very clearly, “She ‘connects’ more memories, words and thoughts faster, and tends to talk ‘in  circles,’ bringing up one thing, then another before arriving at the final thought or solution. His brain works more efficiently, thinking in a ‘straight line,’ solving a problem by quickly giving advice or a solution.” 

Communicate directly what you want from your partner. Barbra gives the examples, “She says, ‘I just need you to listen, while I talk this through.’ He instructs, ‘Write down what you need me to do, because I’m likely to forget.”

Again, ask for what you want and communicate what you think can be helpful to your relationship. Make sure it is a request and an actionable step, such as writing something down or listening as someone processes their thoughts. Keep any judgements out if, you don’t want to judge your partner for thinking and processing things differently that you do. Use positive reinforcement to encourage each other. 

One main reward is your relationship will probably start to feel easier and you will both feel more supported. Compliment each other frequently and let them know how much you appreciate them doing what you asked for and explain how it makes you feel so much better. 

This is a process, so patience is key. Understanding these communication differences can help same sex couples and can also help you communicate in friendships as well. If you identify as gender fluid or non-binary then you may find yourself falling somewhere along this spectrum. 

How Our Brains Look For What’s Wrong

Sometimes couples that have been together for a while start to focus more on the negative aspects of their relationship and less on the positive ones. They may lose sight of what brought them together initially. 

This can become even more challenging as couples build a life together, raise children together, focus on extended family and career obligations. Barbra states, “Our brains are designed to look for what’s wrong – a survival mechanism to keep us alive – but in a relationship, the ratio often becomes 90:10, with the 90% of what’s right, what you like about the other person is taken for granted and we focus on the 10% — what you don’t like, what’s irritating, etc.” This can start a negative pattern or downward spiral. Barbra explains, “What you focus on gets bigger.  Therefore, the more you focus on what’s wrong, the bigger problem that becomes.” We have all experienced this in other aspects of our lives as well, where we focus on the negative and the problem spirals. We can begin to feel discouraged or even hopeless that our situation can change.

Barbra offers some helpful solutions, “Compliment more than you complain.” If you find yourself complaining alot, take a step back and try to turn the situation around. Try to compliment your partner on what they are doing well and make them feel appreciated for all of their positive qualities. 

Her second tip is, “Do the things you used to do that made them fall in love.” Maybe you used to go on dates to your favorite restaurant in the beginning but now you don’t anymore because you’d have to get a sitter. Or maybe you used to cook together, but with work schedules you don’t have the time. Try to make an effort to do these things together to make you feel more connected and to just have more fun together. 

Lastly, Barbra states,”Provide safety by listening before you talk.” Let your partner get their full ideas out there before responding. Try not to interrupt. It can be easy to get defensive or feel misunderstood. Even if you don’t agree with their comment, try to really see their point of view and why they may feel this way. You want to get to a resolution and both be understood, not be right or wrong or assign blame. 

Trying It Out

Personally I used to be more hesitant to bring up these conversations for fear of hurting the other person’s feelings or worrying how they would react. I also felt like I didn’t know how to communicate what I wanted to say in the most productive way.  But then I would feel as though the issues would remain and that was stressful in it’s own way. Learning how to communicate in a positive and healthy way has made me feel like my relationships are stronger. 

Try using these skills in your relationships and see if you feel more confident and positive about your relationship and yourself. Being a great communicator can help you not only in your romantic relationships, but friendships, family and work relationships. Setting boundaries and having a positive mindset can make you feel like the best version of yourself. 

About The Author

Meg Scanlon - Meg Scanlon is a writer, actor, improvisor and creator of the comedy website ALittleBitFunny.com. Her work can be seen on Funny or Die, Bark Post, Taste of Home, The List, Home Life Media and Bridgehead Media. She loves flamingos, palm trees, pizza, binge watching Netflix and her really awesome dog Jack. Twitter: @meganrscanlon | Website: www.alittlebitfunny.com | Instagram: megscanlon


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Yes! I Said No! - How to Set Healthy Boundaries and Increase Your Self Esteem - has won two awards!!

I’m excited today - my book #YesISaidNo - my first book ever — has won another award in the Reader’s Favorites relationships category. Here’s how you can get your copy: http://amzn.to/2fT2xgE

I didn’t always wish to be an author, and I didn’t publish my first book until a couple of years ago — I won’t tell you at what age, but I’m not a spring chicken as the old saying goes. (And my using that old phrase should give you a clue :)

I say that to remind you — you’re never too old; it’s never too late; and if you decide to go after something, don’t give up until you accomplish it. And somethings — especially those important to you — you do for the pleasure of doing it. I’m now posting an inspirational piece on social media every day — facebook, twitter and instagram, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of positive feedback saying those posts have been helpful and made a difference in someone’s life. Well, I had just decided I’ve gone through some stuff, I’ve learned a lot and why not share some of that? It’s been a challenge and something I relish accomplishing every morning. It’s a blessing to me and to others. So - also as another saying goes — Just Do It!

Dream Big; Think Small

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Think Small                          

Let me give you two words which are the key to success -- THINK SMALL! I can just hear many of you now as you exclaim – Wait a minute! I thought we were supposed to think big and have bigger-than-life dreams and a gigantic vision! If you’ve read any of the ever-popular “how to succeed” books or heard many motivational speakers, that is, in fact, the message you will most often hear – Think Big!

Now, I must admit I believe there are really four words which lead to success – Dream Big; Think Small. You must indeed have a dream which requires you to stretch, grow and get out of your comfort zone.

I once heard a wonderful statement: “The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream…dreams are the seedlings of realities.” So yes, you must first spend some time visualizing, desiring and prayerfully asking for your dream to come true!

However, many people can get overwhelmed at the magnitude of a big dream.Let’s say you want to start your own business. That’s awesome! And it’s also a Big Dream. You can quickly become stuck in all the thoughts, doubts and questions which come rushing to your mind. “Do I have enough money?” “Will people actually buy what I’m selling?” “How will I plan and market?”

Often, the interns I supervise want to open a counseling practice after graduating with their Master’s Degree in Counseling. As soon as they’ve stated their goal, it seems they encounter such seemingly huge questions and obstacles very quickly.   From there, procrastinating quickly becomes very appealing! And before you know it, that dream has taken a back seat to daily living and finding a job just to make money.

So, I advise them to do what I’m encouraging you to look at here; think small - start with an action to be taken today or this week.

A good way to remember the steps involved in thinking small is to look at the acronym SPAM. Yes, looking at that can of potted meat can help you get started. Here’s what the letters stand for:

S = Small and Specific

P = Practical

A = Achievable

M = Measurable

A counseling intern can use this in the following way:

S = Small & Specific:   This week, I will talk to a therapist who’s already established a counseling practice.

P = Practical questions to answer include the well-known journalism questions: who, what, where, when, how?

Who? Identify the counselor

What? Set up an appointment to interview that person.

Where? Will you take them to lunch? Or you could meet for coffee or come to the established counselor’s office.

When? Determine the best time to meet, as well as the amount of time he or she has available.

How? Write down questions you wish to have answered – come prepared!

A = Achievable = Knowing yourself as you do, is this goal achievable? If you have something else going on this week, it’s not – and you will need to come up with an alternative.

M = Measurable = At this time, you’ve moved beyond the “thinking” stage, and your action steps need to be measurable. You might want to enlist the help of someone to keep you accountable.

From that first week of action, that intern can set up the next goal to be achieved, step by step. The journey of a thousand steps just started, and the dream of becoming a practicing therapist is beginning to unfold!

No matter what you want to achieve, remember this:

Dream Big; Think Small and SPAM goals are a good way to get started!

HOW DO YOU HANDLE "ONE OF THOSE DAYS?"

How Do You handle “One of those days?”

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A three hour traffic jam

A mechanical problem on the plane

An obnoxious drunk

            What do these three have in common?  A common thought -- “oh no, it’s going to be one of those days!”

That’s the day I experienced and the thought I had a couple of days ago.  And the thought was becoming a fast-rushing train hurtling toward my peace of mind.  My day would be derailed if I didn’t gain control of that out-of-control thought. 

I’ll tell you what I did to get back on track, but first let me fill you in on the ingredients of that mess.

             It was one of those days…… Actually, it seemed like a few days.

The first problem – A three-hour traffic jam.  Jerry and I had been on a combination business/pleasure mini-vacation and were headed back to Phoenix when we saw cars lined up ahead of us.  There were no nearby exits; we were stuck.  We sat there, parking-lot style, for three hours. 

The next day we prepared to go home, ready to leave our problems behind.  But no.  We boarded the plane, taxied out to the runway when the pilot announced these dreaded words:  “Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a mechanical problem which requires us to return to the terminal for the mechanics to fix it.”

 We were stuck in the airplane for an additional hour which seemed like three.  It was already late at night, almost midnight, and I thought I’d try to rest a while.  But no.  An obnoxiously and obviously drunk lady behind us very loudly kept proclaiming we were all going to die! Even after we finally took off, she kept loudly cursing and laughing until I wanted to turn around and slap her! (In Christian love, of course)

I can assure you, I got no rest and exhausted, fell into bed after 1 AM 

The next morning at work it was tempting to wonder, “OK, what’s going to go wrong now?“

Well, I decided to change the direction of those thoughts because I know the enemy would love nothing more than for me to live in negativity, worry and defeat.  I think he’d love for all of us to live that way!

But I decided to stop that train and take charge of me.  I took a few minutes to read what God says about renewing our minds.  I took a few minutes to pray.  I took a few minutes to do my “shake and bake exercises and stretches” to change my thoughts, my energy, and my body. 

In just those few minutes. I began to feel calm and was able to focus on all the things I was grateful for in spite of those aggravating incidents.  We did not die.  We got home safely.  I changed my thoughts to joy and anticipation for the next adventure.  Because it is true that while we cannot always prevent what happens to us., we can change how we respond to it.  And sometimes, as in this case, we have to see how quickly we can rebound. 

Life isn’t about how fast you can run or how high you can climb….

It’s all about how well you can bounce! 

How do you handle life’s obstacles and irritants?  How fast and well can you bounce?  You probably have a different “formula” you follow to renew your mind, but contact me by commenting below if you would like more details about the steps I took. 


 

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Three Things To Stop To Be An Effective Woman

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3 Things To Start

Three Things To Stop:

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has gone; the new has come. 

  1.    Stop letting other people dictate how You feel about You.

Can happen – consciously – you’re very aware/hurt, etc. by what someone says about you – like my high school Home Economics teacher who said, “Barbra is an example of the way NOT to do this.” 

        Or unconsciously –which is actually more powerful – When my mother revealed her history of sexual abuse, she also helped me realize why my father held off being affectionate with me. He had promised his new bride, “you will never have to worry about that when we have children.” I recognized that unconsciously, I became “performance minded”  and a “people pleaser.” 

        Results of either/both:  always looking for others to help you feel good or OK about YOU.  You’re not self confident. 

 What is confidence, then? Confidence is not – “They will like me,” aka Sally Field, but rather…

 Confidence is:  “I’ll be fine if they don’t.”

Psychological term – External vs. internal validation

Everybody has their own insecurities about something.

        Look in the mirror – what do you notice?  Usually what’s “wrong” – what you don’t like about yourself.  And then you think everyone ELSE is looking at you.  Ann Landers said it this way many years ago: :

            At age 20, we worry about what other people think of us.

At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us.

At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.

You know what I’ve discovered?  Even if people look at you, within 1-3 seconds, people go back to what they were doing.  Why?

Everyone’s busy with their own problems. 

In my book, “Yes! I Said No! - How To Set Healthy Boundaries and Increase Your Self Esteem,” I talk about developing thick, armor-plated skin and share my own example of this:in Chapter 10- (story of 2 people talking in hallway)

I discovered this truth: 

“Our worries aren’t supported by reality.”

People don’t judge you non-stop.  And even if they did, why do we assume they’d think negatively about us?  It might be good!

        How to STOP?  As I say in my book, 2 rules will help:

1.     If you can’t let the worry go within 24 hours, do something about it.

2.   Choose to assume people don’t think of you all the time and if even if they did, their thoughts would be nothing but positive. 

If you STOP the worry and replace it with a POSITIVE ASSUMPTION, (don’t leave a vacuum) – new neural pathways in your brain develop, taking you down a different track.

The Second STOP


(2)      Stop Looking For What’s Wrong

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Imagine you’re living in caveman days.  The men are out hunting and the women are left to tend the fire, watch after the kids and also keep an eye out for any hungry animals lurking around, just waiting for a chance to grab a chunk of meat roasting or maybe even to drag away a small child.  You have to be watching for danger all the time!  And women, with their brains wired to do several things at once, rise to the occasion! 

Fast forward to today, add 24-hour news programs focusing on the ills of society, and social media posts which quickly spread the word about others’ success by which we negatively compare ourselves and it’s no wonder we look for what’s wrong!  We assume if we can fix what’s wrong, we’ll be happy. 

        Wrong!  We can’t fix anyone (that includes our husbands and kids) and we wind up feeling disappointed and discouraged.  Marriage studies have revealed an interesting 90:10 ratio in marriages.  90% of the time we like our partner, 90% of the time we appreciate our lives, but what about that 10%?  That’s the hubby who doesn’t get the “honey-do” list done when you think he should, who never learns there’s a “right” way (your way, of course) to load the dishwasher, or other very important “stuff.” 

        I believe that same ratio exists in our world in general, because we’ve been taught to think this way. From the time we’re students who are told that yes, that B is ok but couldn’t you have done a little more and gotten an A?  If we get feedback, even if most of it’s good, what do we gravitate toward?  The one negative comment. 

        Are we doomed to keep looking for what’s wrong?  What’s not enough?  What’s not yet done?  We even complain to God that things are not happening as soon as we think they should! 

        I have to remember something I posted the other day:  “Most things worth having usually take longer than we thought they would, and are more difficult than we think we can endure.” 

        Vow today that you will follow Paul’s advice:  “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:7)
 

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 3.   Stop being afraid – to face the past, to have a dream, to ask for what you want. 

 

 

When life hits you - POW! with a surprise

You’re going merrily along when POW! life hits you, buckles your knees, stops you in your tracks.

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What’s next? Here’s some important things to remember:

Nothing Is So Consistent as Change

During a time of transition, people normally experience stress because our brains and entire beings seek homeostasis, a survival mechanism.  We want things to stay the same.

                 We can help others – and us – by doing three things:

1.  Normalize This Time – People are not crazy; it’s normal to feel a whole range of emotions during this time.  From depression, anger, sadness, & disappointment to confusion and triggers which remind us of previous trauma and loss; it’s all normal

2.  Grieving The Loss – We all go through the stages of grief because in transition, we always lose something.  As in the death of a loved one, the stages apply here as well:  Shock and denial, anger and depression come and go as we grieve.  Just when we think we’ve successfully navigated one stage, we find ourselves back in the same feelings.  Again, that’s normal.  Grieving is crazy-making!  We eventually  move to acceptance with sadness for the loss

3.  Process The Feelings – It’s important that people don’t stuff all that grief and emotions but rather have opportunity to process, or talk about, the change in a healthy manner.  We can help by using the following skills:

  • Create Safety – Provide confidentiality; knowing what they share with you won’t go any further.

  • Things NOT to say:

  • Just trust God

  • You need to just look on the bright side

  • I conquered it this way

  • You need to read and pray more

    Or any other “advice-giving” statements.  Unsolicited advice is like chopped liver – not appreciated. 

When life surprises you, and not in a good way, remember that first,  you’re not alone-it happens to us all. 2nd, take time to breathe, think and grieve. 3rd, list all options, look at pros and cons, then step into something new. Who knows what lies ahead? I’ve found that when you follow these steps, refrain from becoming bitter and instead wonder what could lie ahead, truly you’ll find that the next step will be even better.



Comparison and Competition

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Comparison and Competition causes us to lose the joy of being and doing what God has designed us to be and do.

These are probably the biggest obstacles I — and I dare say — others — fight on a regular basis. And then when you add impatience into the mix, oh brother!

So I love this sign I keep in my office to remind me that I do have a DREAM, and God put it there. My job is to believe and to do the next thing I see and find to do. What about you?

Anyone else have these or other dream-killers?

Four Christmas Killers

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Four Christmas killers:

 

1.  Rushing

2. Living in anxiety

3. Doing too much

4. Forgetting our greatest gift is who we are, not what we do

Four antidotes:

 

1.  Make a list of what needs to be done, then say “there is plenty of time.“

2. Make time to breathe deeply three times a day

3. Learn to say no – I know a good book for that!

4. Every day be grateful for the abilities you have

Cancer Saved My Life

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Cancer Saved My Life

With a sense of wonder and awe, our son said, “I just realized that cancer saved my life.”

“That’s a strange statement, “I thought, but upon reflection, I had to admit it was true.  We had been reminiscing during the Thanksgiving season about the major physical challenges Dane has endured.

It all began when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  As you can imagine, our family immediately experienced the fear, doubt and questions about why God let this happen.  Why did this healthy young man who had served God all his life be struck with cancer?  In spite of our prayers, the cancer didn’t miraculously disappear.   Unable, of course, to answer those unanswerable questions, Dane followed the doctor’s recommendation to have immediate surgery to remove the malignant organ.

Then, as if that bombshell wasn’t enough to deal with, the anesthesiologist found a problem with his heart. And that problem required open-heart surgery.

 Open heart surgery? Really, God? What’s up with this? Hasn’t he gone through enough?

Probably others facing such life-threatening news or continuing problems can fully understand the wide range of emotions we all rode like a wild carnival ride roller coaster. 

Once again, we prayed for a miracle.  We hoped for a miracle.  We believed for a miracle.  But nothing seemed to change.      

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  Dane still had to undergo two major surgeries and all the rehabilitation required afterward.   

We didn’t fully realize that a miracle had happened until years later.

 I believe that can happen to anyone. When you are going through struggles, especially ones that stick around, it’s hard to see that anything good is happening.  How many people despair after years of seemingly unanswered prayers?

  •        Are you still struggling with a health issue?

  •         Do you have a dream that God has not yet granted?

  •         Do you have other prayers that have not been answered?

You, like Dane, may not realize that God is working a miracle on your behalf. And this Thanksgiving that’s what Dane realized.  First, it was a miracle his thyroid cancer was even discovered. The doctor said usually this condition is not discovered until it’s too late.  Secondly, because he had to have surgery, the problem with his heart valve was discovered. Either one of those conditions was a silent killer, waiting to pounce suddenly, without warning.

            But a miracle did happen and, as Dane declared, “ cancer saved my life.”

            Don’t get discouraged when you think God has forgotten you; it may be years later that you look back and realize a miracle happened. It might even show up as cancer.

 Barbra Russell, MA, LPC                                                    

                                   

Lessons from Bees

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At the beginning of the year, Pastor Toure’ Roberts shared his vision for 2018 –

Thinking Big:

  • We are a big church

  • Focused on the big picture

  • Building big people

  • Making a big impact

Pastor Toure’, of course, was specifically referring to the Potter’s House, but we’re all here to make a difference in the kingdom of God, and there have been and will be many opportunities to do just that. 

I will always remember the woman who said, “I attended class on Tuesday, and I read your daily reflection. Last Sunday I wanted to end it all but I went to church instead.”   A life saved!  Now that’s a big impact!  And no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you influence those around you. 

That’s why we do what we do - and how we impact people’s lives in a big way. And maybe we’ll hear about some of those impactful things we do; others we may never hear about but we serve, and we plant, and we sow. In the end, we’ll be building those big people and making a big impact in our families, our city and our world.

  • Something I read the other day says it well, and I call it “learning from bees.” Every creature in a beehive, every single honey bee, has a purpose — a role it follows its entire life. Guard bees protect the hives, nurse bees take care of the babies, and architect bees build the hive’s hexagon structure, making it mathematically perfect in every way. There are even undertaker bees who remove the dead from the hive and fly 100 yards to dispose of the bodies.

  • Certainly, humans have purpose in their lives. But why are bees so single-minded and committed to that purpose? It isn’t just for the good of the queen. It’s for the good of each other, for their whole community. That’s us — we’re here for the good of each other, for the whole community.

You’re here to make a difference!

3 Things To Stop; 3 Things To Start To Be A Highly Effective Woman

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3 Things To Stop; 3 Things To Start To Be A Highly Effective Woman

Outline:     

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has gone; the new has come.

3 Things To Stop

 1.    Stop letting others dictate how YOU feel about YOU

2.   Stop looking for what’s wrong – even though we’re wired that way

3.   Stop being afraid – to face the past, to have a dream, to ask for what you want. 

 

3 Things to Start

1.    Start training others (yes, training – not teaching) how to treat you

2.   Start celebrating when you make a change – it affects the brain

3.   Start focusing on the 90% - The power of positive thinking

 

www.BarbraRussell.com

Boundaries, Depression and Building Confidence

Boundaries, Depression, Building Confidence  

www.BarbraRussell.com

720-263-6257

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Do you want to know more about setting boundaries, dealing with depression or building confidence?  I’ll be speaking on these topics in June and July and I’d love to connect with you.    

  June 20 Uplift Her  - This live video conference sponsored by Kirk Samuels, author of “For Your Eyes Only” will be offered live at 6 a.m. and recorded for subscribers to hear later as well.  I will be talking about building confidence and how you care for others without carrying them.  Kirk offers these live video conferences twice monthly and you can subscribe for only $17 a month with no contract required.  Check out uplifther36.com and uplifthim36.com for more details.

  June 23 – I will be speaking at the “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Empowerment and Self-Defense Workshop” held at the Denver Red Shield Community Center.  This unique workshop will cover self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence.  I’ll be talking about speaking up for yourself and how to be successful by investing in your body, your mind and your spirit.   Contact Vanessa Frazier at 720-460-5012.  Cost  - Only $5

  •  July 13-14 Woman Evolve Conference – Sarah Jakes Roberts is hosting this amazing two-day conference, to equip women through spiritual and practical development, in an environment of sisterhood and community, with the tools necessary to evolve into the highest version of themselves.

v I am honored to be sharing the stage with Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child.  She will be talking about her own personal struggle with depression and I will address what happens in our brains when we’re depressed, what to look for in the way of symptoms and what clinical, physical, spiritual and emotional steps to take to maintain a positive outlook on life.  Cost for entire conference - $99-$179.  Womanevolve.com

 

Silent Lessons

Silent Lessons

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             There are 7.6 billion people on the planet and yet each one of us is unique and special.  How do we come to realize that? 
Because God sent us moms. 

 Moms show us love and tell us we’re special.  But, just as importantly, they teach us silent lessons. 

            Here are some of the silent lessons I learned because my mom lived them:      

1.    It’s never too late, and you’re never too old.  Late in life my mother returned to a small community school in Broken Bow Oklahoma to get her GED. My sister and I were adults and she and dad were retired when she was awarded that diploma.  she silently taught me.  “It’s never too late, and you’re never too old,”

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2.    You can go through hell and not be bitter or broken. My mother endured years of abuse from her father. She also went through The Great Depression and her family survived by selling bootleg liquor from a still in the backwoods. Those two experiences alone would be enough to make someone resentful and mean.  But the only effect I saw was that mom kept plastic containers to re-use and recycle before recycling was the thing to do.

Instead of bitterness or brokenness, I saw grace and thankfulness birthed out of poverty and rejection.  She silently taught me: “You can go through hell and not be bitter or broken.”

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 3.  You can give 100% to God, your husband, your children and yourself and still have love to give. My mother was a strong Christian, pastor’s wife, mother of two children and  took care of herself by dealing with the effects of abuse at age 68.

In the middle of showing me how to balance different roles without sacrificing one for the other, she taught me, “the more you love, the more love grows.”

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What did your mother silently teach you and how did that impact your life?

Here’s how those silent lessons made a difference in my life:

1.     I went back to school late in life. I continue to learn and can say with my mom, “it’s never too late and you’re never too old.“

2.     When the doctor kept saying “We’ll be lucky if all she loses is her leg; it’s cancer,” I knew not to give up.  And even after 10 surgeries and going through my own personal hell of surgery, recovery, and riding in a wheelchair, my mother’s silent lesson taught me: “Never become bitter or let life break you.”

3.     I’ve been a Christian most of my life, I have a long lasting marriage and  my son is a man to be proud of (which I’m taking partial credit for J)  Thank you, mom because I too have learned , “the more you love, the more love grows.”

Out of 7.6 billion people, I am unique and special.  Out of 7.6 billion people, you are unique and special.  And we have our moms to thank for teaching us silent lessons.

                                                                   

Mission To Mars

A Mission To Mars

[By Barbra Russell, MA, LPC, Director, PHD Counseling Ministry]

I remember when I saw the movie, “Hidden Figures,” about three African-American mathematicians who played an integral part in NASA’s space-race success.  It was amazing to learn about these phenomenally intelligent women making a difference at a time when women as a whole, much less, African American women, were not recognized for brilliance, much less for helping out in the space race!

            No, during the decades of the 1950’s and 1960’s, it was often said that “women’s brains aren’t made for mathematics and science.”   And I never heard the story of those “Hidden Figures” until the movie came out in this decade.  How many other women (and men) have remained unknown, unseen and unheard, yet have made a significant contribution, a difference, to society and to our lives?           

            Just think, you might be sitting next to someone at church who has such a story to tell.   Someone like Jessica from The Potter’s House Church of Denver:     

Jessica took part in PHD’s Life Groups lay counseling classes, completed leadership training and the emotionally healthy relationship groups where I had the chance to get acquainted with her.   She is also an ordained elder and obviously has a heart for God and for ministry and not only at church; Jessica is recognized as a leader in the community.  She recently participated in something special through her work and sent me the following note:

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            “I just spent the week working with women engineers on the Mars 2020 mission at NASA in Pasadena.

            It was amazing; leadership development for people who are already extremely cool.  God is amazing.  I shared some of my story with them, which included my core, core value of being a child of God, which drives my essential purpose and personality.

            Some of them came up to me after, thankful that I did, because talking about God is usually taboo.  Once I opened the door, they felt safe to set aside the norm and share their same beliefs with each other.  (secretly, of course, don’t tell the astronauts, ha ha!)  I love this gig!”  (signed) Jessica

             In 2020, I’ll think of those women engineers and how The Potter’s House of Denver is now connected to them because of Jessica and the impact she made on a mission to Mars.

            Has there been someone who’s made an impact on your life?  I’d love to hear from you and learn their story as well.  Contact me at:  barb@barbrarussell.com

 

 

             

Healthy Boundaries Class

Yes, I Said No!
Setting Healthy Boundaries

Why We Need: Yes, I said No! Setting Healthy Boundaries:

In this class, participants will discover the answer to such questions as:

●       Have you experienced burnout or find it difficult to have time for both work and family?

●       Do you find it difficult to speak up for yourself?

●       Do you ever feel you have too much to do and not enough time to do it?

●       Is your life controlling you, instead of your being in charge of your own life?

All these concerns, and more, can be solved with proper boundaries to protect work/life balance and the challenges of an overloaded schedule or demands from family and friends. 

     “Setting Healthy Boundaries” is an eight-week class starting March 1 offered at the Potter’s House Church of Denver, 9495 E. Florida Avenue.  There is no charge for this class which will be held on Thursday evenings from 6:30-8:00 p.m. 

      Presented by Barbra Russell, Licensed Professional Counselor and author of the book, Yes! I Said No! – How To Set Healthy Boundaries and Increase Your Self Esteem, these classes will help you regain your passion, excitement and life balance. 

      Class participants will learn how to:

 ·        Say no without blowing up, wimping out or running away

·        Learn how to care for people without carrying them

·        Balance work and life in a healthy manner

     To more information, contact the counseling department at The Potter’s House at 303-369-8514

 

It's Ok For Things To Go Fantastic!

IT’S OK FOR THINGS TO GO FANTASTIC!

            You know it’s not good news when the doctor says he needs to talk to you, and you might want to have your family with you.  Michelle Rackley, our niece, called to give a tearful report of what had just transpired in her hospital room.   

Special moment with niece Zion

Special moment with niece Zion

“You need to say your good-byes to your family and friends.  We’ve done all we can do.”

            “How long do I have, doctor?”

            “No more than two months.  I’m very sorry.”

            It was Easter, and this season which represents resurrection and new beginnings, instead looked like death and despair. 

            Unfortunately, it was all too understandable.  Michelle had struggled with medical issues for many years.  She had survived over 60 surgeries, lethal infections like the deadly MRSA virus, her body was crisscrossed with scar tissue like a patchwork quilt, and now there were blood clots scattered throughout her upper torso, inhibiting normal blood flow to her heart and preventing any corrective surgery.

It seemed even her strong will and unrelenting faith could go no further. 

Fortunately, when people like Michelle have gone as far as they can go, there are others who pick up the baton and continue running the race.  Prayer warriors, some who knew only her name and her critical condition, began to intercede in prayer on her behalf.  And, miraculous things began to happen.  Her body started healing.

I am pleased to tell you that nine months later, we celebrated Christmas with “Miracle Michelle,” enjoying the gourmet meals she prepared.  She’s an unashamed foodie and accomplished cook with a bucket list of places not yet seen and food not yet tried.

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We watched as she put her foot in the Pacific Ocean for the first time and gleefully accompanied her to yummy foodie stops in California.  What a celebration! 

First time at the ocean - getting ready to jump in

From Easter’s message, “Prepare to die” to a New Year’s promise of “It’s ok for things to go fantastic,” Michelle has a new theme for her life. 

If you find yourself in a hopeless situation, hear what she has to say about her experience, “I believe every prayer was an investment into me being whole!  I want people to know that God is still healing today.” 

In other words, IT’S OK FOR THINGS TO GO FANTASTIC! 

The one most powerful thing you can do for someone

Whether it's in a counseling setting, in your marriage, or if you're visiting with a friend, here's the one most powerful thing you can do for that person.  Check out this short video to find out:

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