boundaries

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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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

 

The tree trunk speaks!

J ust Say No! 

Just Say No! 

When it's even carved into tree trunks, you have to pay attention! Say no to the wrong things - the time grabbers, the people who leave you feeling sad and bad, or keep you dependent on them.

You'll then have the energy, passion and self confidence to say yes to risk, growth and things you love

Yes! I said No!

noHow to Say NO!  Without Blowing Up, Wimping Out or Running Away

 No! – A simple, two-letter word. Should be easy to say, right? No! In my experience, this small declaration of independence is often the result of a hard-fought war within the mind. Victory can be won, but the battles are tough!

Dr. John Townsend, author of the book Boundaries, says that “No” is the Christian curse word – that’s a pretty strong statement but with so many believers who “can’t say no,” I can see why he would say such a thing! Let me give you an example:

A young man recently confessed he had been asked to be a youth leader, Sunday school teacher, greeter, deacon and part of the leadership team at his church. He had a wife and two small children and oh by the way, he also worked a full-time job!   While he enjoyed each aspect of his involvement at church, it soon became obvious his priorities were messed up!

He wanted to say no, he needed to say no, but he said yes anyway. As a result, he had begun to feel used and resentful; on his way to burn-out.

He, like many of us, needed to learn how to say no without blowing up, wimping out or running away.    What do I mean by these terms?

blow upBlowing up! – We “take it” and “take it” and “take it,” until we can’t “take it” any more! Like the young man above, we take on too much! From a place of resentment we explode in anger, and usually the relationship is blown up as well!

Wimping Out – We don’t want to agree, but we also can’t quite get up the courage to say no. So we excuse ourselves by muttering things like: “If I don’t agree, they’ll be mad,”

“They’re in a bad place right now.” “They need me.”

“They won’t like me.” We can find plenty of reasons to “wimp out!”

Running Away - When you try to avoid the other person, change the subject or come up with a bunch of excuses. These are often the people who burn out and stop doing ANYTHING, going from one extreme to the other.

                                                 The question then becomes:

 How do we say no without blowing up, wimping out or running away?

 Pass the “P’s” Please

 A couple of “P’s” can help: -- Planning and Practice. Let’s talk about Planning first:

Planning – If you haven’t been very good at saying “No,” you will need to be prepared; get some tools for your toolbox. Here are three: Tool #1 – Keep It Short and Sweet

Don’t explain, but keep your “no” short and simple. Too often, people feel obliged to expound on why they need to say no. However, the longer the story, the more others can find reasons why that doesn’t work (for them!)  “Oh, don’t worry,” they’ll say, “it won’t take that long,” “it’s just for this time,” etc. etc. etc.

I recently called to cancel our TV subscription. You know what’s that like, right? They have specially trained people to talk you out of cancelling and often, you wind up signing up again!

I was prepared this time, however, with something I call

Tool #2 – The Broken Record Technique 

Me: “I want to cancel our TV subscription.”broken record

TV Employee: “Oh, what brought you to this decision?” (ready to counter any objections I might offer)

Me:Broken Record” – repeated same thing: “I just need to cancel our TV subscription.”

After a couple of other efforts to get more information from me, the employee said, “well, it’s your decision. We’re sorry to lose you as a customer.”

Yes! I was able to say No!

Tool #3 – Learn a New Phrase – “Let Me Get Back To You”

             Suppose you’re asked to add something to your already full schedule and you know you don’t have time. However, you’re filled with anxiety when you even contemplate “disappointing” them.   It’s important not to use this as a “wimp out;” which can drive you to say, “Sure, I’d be happy be help! Instead, you pull out Tool #3 and say, “Let me check my schedule and get back to you.”

Within 24 hours, call and say, “I’m sorry; I checked my calendar and I can’t do that. I wish you all the best!” If necessary, use Tool #2 – Broken Record – and simply repeat what you’ve already said. Then, pump your fist and say, “Yes! I was able to say No!”

Ok, you’ve Planned and you’re Prepared; the next step is to Practice. We can have very satisfying conversations in our heads that don’t translate to our tongues very well. When you practice, familiarity brings comfort and confidence.

Practice using each of the tools listed above:

  • In front of a mirror
  • With someone else
  • Writing down exactly what you want to say

Then – enjoy the freedom which comes from Learning To Say No Without Blowing Up, Wimping Out or Running Away!

 

 

If It Doesn't Work, Do Something Different!

If It Doesn’t Work, Do Something Different!

 “Remember the Alamo!” That rallying cry is what came to my mind when I instructed my client toRemember the Bagels!” It may sound a bit silly, but those words are to remind her of an important principle:

 bagels1

 

 “If something works, do it more! If it doesn’t work, do something different.”

 What, you may ask, does that have to do with remembering bagels? Well, I’ll tell you.

“Susan” stated she had been trying to please her husband for many years, but it seemed nothing she ever did was right or good enough. A recent example, she said, was the daily bagel run. Her husband was very busy, with an important job in the community so her assignment was the "bagel run.” She would go pick up the special bagels he liked and have them ready for him to eat before he rushed off to work.

However, there was always something wrong with the bagels. They were sliced when he didn’t want them sliced, they weren’t the right kind and she didn’t get his order right, etc. etc. He always complained, and she began to feel resentful, used and abused! Then SHE was the one who began to complain -- to others, of course! She didn’t like that role and now sought my help.

She tried many things that didn't work:

She told him how she felt – unappreciated, criticized and unloved

  • She tried to keep doing it better
  • She tried pouting
  • She tried the silent treatment
  • She tried getting angry and slamming doors
  • She asked him to stop complaining every day about the bagels.

Nothing worked – he never changed.

This scenario reminded me of Dr. Phil’s famous quote “How’s that working out for you?” In other words,  If it doesn’t work, do something different!

 Well, what she had been doing didn’t work – it was time to do something different!

The next day that’s exactly what she did – something different!!  She very kindly said, “Since I can’t ever get your bagel order right, you’ll need to take care of that yourself.” Well, that changed things a bit – he said, “that’s ok, I’m sure you’ll get it right next time.”

(Have you ever noticed boundary-breakers will try any means necessary to keep things going their way!!?)

But she didn’t budge from her new-found resolution and let him get his own bagels.

A week later I received a call: “It worked!” she almost yelled. “It worked! He actually started going after his own bagels!”  

After celebrating with her, we came up with something she can do or say to keep doing what worked – andRemember the bagels” became her own rallying cry.

 Remember the bagels” - I’m taking charge of my life!!bagels2

 Remember the bagels” - I don’t have to yell or pout. 

Along the way, she had learned some important principles:

  •  You can’t change someone else
  • Stop complaining about what’s wrong and DO something
  • If it works, do it more. If it doesn’t work, do something else!

So ask yourself, “What’s not working for me? Instead of hoping those 15 pounds will just magically come off your hips or that your friends or co-workers will start treating you with a little respect, what can you do that’s different? When you discover what works, do it more