Archives for May, 2011
Today I stared at my blank word processor page for several minutes. No words, no particular bent, no juicy news event on my mind. Just thinking about the many topics I could write about. Suddenly, some judgmental statements came to mind. What if I can't think of anything great to say? What if I've lost interest in writing? What if I say something that doesn't mean very much...and it stinks, too? What if I still can't think of anything to write? I quickly settled back into the blank page. By this time, it was a calm comfort. I had a sheet of cookies in the oven and had checked the time just before bringing up my blank page. Six minutes. No big deal - I'll just sit here for a while longer until something comes. After all the staring and thinking, the timer went off. Seemed like hardly a minute had passed, at most. Had I really just sat there for six minutes without really doing anything? Yes, but I also did something - something I hadn't expected. I redirected my worrisome thoughts back to a more peaceful place. At first, the blank sheet had seemed intimidating. By the time the buzzer went off, I was startled and didn't want to leave it. I had redefined what was right in front of me.
Every now and then, I'm reminded just how connective mental health problems can be. By that, I mean how much one person's depression can touch everyone else in their family. Depression is truly a family affair. Major Depression Major depression can occur when you least expect it and with someone who hasn't had a history of depression before. It could be triggered by a weather disaster, a medical diagnosis, moving far away, a sudden death in the family - really anything that requires a lot of adjustment. If the person feels like they have little control over their circumstances, they may be even more vulnerable to a bout with depression.
Today I’m participating in the APA (American Psychological Association) Blog Party! I’m going to take my turn by telling my postpartum depression story and share some thoughts on the general topic of mental health. Depression Tough To Spot Even For a Professional First, I am a licensed mental health counselor with a masters degree. Second, I have experienced postpartum depression first-hand for a handful of years. Both have enhanced my ability to help people through my writing work and my direct clinical work. Would I relive my depression all over again? Absolutely not, if I could help it. But mental illness isn’t always what we think it is, even when you are a trained professional. I had been working at my first counseling job about two years before I had my first child. I had no history of depression, but I knew how to identify it in others. During my postpartum period I found myself facing a sense of emptiness and struggle that I had never known.
'Tis the season for graduations and last days of school. It's a time of mixed emotions - anticipation (happy and sad), separation, accomplishment, relief, fear, stress, and more. Where are you on the scale? Parents And School Transitions School is all about kids, but I'm telling you - parents go through school transitions, too. Kids moving to the next building, moving to a new school district over the summer, first days of Kindergarten, graduations, repeated grades - it's all a family deal. Don't forget to acknowledge your own feelings as the kids in your life go through this process. It's a sign of parents aging, kids becoming more independent, the ending of some things, the beginning of others.
When a special day like an anniversary or birthday rolls around, a little fantasy comes along with it. Maybe your love will do something unexpected and romantic. Perhaps your family will have supper and a nice relaxing evening together all planned out. The same kind of thinking can apply to a day like Mother's Day. A small part of my mind wanted to wander into Fantasyland. Everyone doing their best to stay peaceful with each other, not having to lift a finger in the kitchen all day, being taken out on a fun outing while being showered with complements from my family. That sounds like an awesome day, doesn't it?
Parenting has become an industry. So many books, videos, experts, (ahem) bloggers, and talk shows tell parents what they should and shouldn't while raising their kids. I've had the pleasure of reading a great variety of interconnected articles this morning that I thought you should see. The spectrum these articles (and their comments) cover is just fascinating. It's interesting to see the choices people make - methods that seem "extreme," changing their approach in midstream, and what their parenting approach could say about how they view parental success. Your reflection on these different topics can give you some good insight on what you are doing and why you do it. Even if you can tell that you don't agree with something you see here, keep reading to widen your perspective. In many cases, we can still glean something of value in a philosophy that we may not embrace.
If you or a family member has been affected by a severe weather disaster, you may feel helpless (even hopeless). However, there are some important things you can do to care for your family's mental health needs. - Find ways you can help out. It's easier to stay out of your own misery when you are helping other people. You'll feel more hopeful that your own situation can turn around when you make a difference for someone else. - Talk to other people about what's going on. Listen to their stories, too. Just purging the thoughts from your mind can give you some relief. - Your kids may react differently than you do. They may feel more stressed, or they may be more resilient. It often matters how you handle it, but some kids may simply be more sensitive to trauma and upset like this.