There is no doubt that substance abuse and addiction is difficult during every season of the year. Once the rush of the holiday season, balancing work and holiday time off, and a long few days of travel to see friends and family is over; all that is left is getting back to ‘normal’. January is a month full of change and resolutions, so making time to cope with personal hardships (like addiction and substance abuse) is put at the bottom of your to-do list. As February approaches, the usual hustle of preparing for a magical and romantic Valentine’s Day for you and a significant other, spouse, or partner takes priority. This reveals the real question: is there ever time to get help for myself?
Realizing that you are important enough to get help is the first step on your journey to navigate out of the dark path of addiction and substance abuse to a healthier life. The problems associated with addiction and substance abuse seem to start out slowly and pick up speed in what seems like no time at all. Using and abusing substances affects your life, the life of your friends, family members, children, co-workers, and everyone else you interact with on a daily basis. What began as a coping method for stress or an activity during your downtime quickly becomes a lifestyle and the center point of many more problems. To take charge of the cycle of use and abuse of drugs and alcohol is often the hardest part of the recovery and healing process; and takes courage and support. The process of recovery requires resources to get the help that you need in order to control the substances that have a strong grip on your personal life. Mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment are the vital next steps in the process of your recovery. Overall, wanting to live your life as the healthiest and most well person you can be is reason enough to seek help for addictions for the holiday of celebrating love. Loving yourself enough to get help is a magical and romantic thing that can give you back a healthy fresh start to your relationship with yourse
Teens with disruptive or aggressive behaviors are increasingly diagnosed with bipolar disorder and prescribed psychotropic medications. These young people, according to recent Minneapolis Star Tribune article, are frequently misdiagnosed. Medication seems like an easy answer to a complex set of behavior problems. But the easy solution is not always the best. The root cause of the behaviors needs to be understood and addressed. Aggressive outbursts could be driven by trauma, stress, or other environmental factors.
If trauma is the root of the problem for some children, psychiatrists say, they would be better served by therapy and identifying what’s wrong in their lives, rather than with powerful medications.
“Most of the time there is something that has happened in a child’s life, something that got them stuck developmentally,” said Sue Sexton, a St. Paul psychologist who treats kids with stress-related disorders. If Troubled Kids Aren’t Bipolar, What is Troubling Them?
“I need to change” is probably one of the most common issues that bring a person into counseling and frequently the person has a specific idea of what needs to change. However, how change will occur and what needs to be different in order to bring about change can be very challenging for many people. There are numerous reasons why we resist change–fear, anxiety and uncertainty, just to name a few. The counseling process can help one sort through their resistance and discover that in every situation– no matter how unfortunate, painful, hurtful or scary, there is a meaningful lesson that can be learned from the experience. Think what wonderful lessons are waiting to be discovered if you allow yourself to stop resisting and appreciate what your problems and experiences can teach you.
The term breakdown is tossed around pretty cavalierly these days. Individuals might talk about having a mental breakdown over any number of modern inconveniences: traffic, the line at the grocery store, the morning commute, a tyrannical boss. These situations can certainly be stressors, but they don’t rise to the level of what mental health professionals would consider a breakdown.
A breakdown is much more significant. Someone in the midst of a breakdown will find it impossible to function. A breakdown may manifest itself as depression, anxiety, racing thoughts, or feelings of unrelenting dread. Sometimes it’s a wicked combination of all of those. The root cause of a breakdown is usually something deep down, a problem that a person is unable to understand or even recognize on their own.
Individuals experiencing a breakdown have a choice. A few choices, actually:
- Rest and recover. Hope the eventually things will go back to however they were before the breakdown.
- Drug the problem out of existence.
- Adapt behaviors to avoid the problem.
- Take up an investigation into the problem. (Here’s where a therapist is handy.) Discover what your breakdown has to teach you about yourself. Transcend your problem and grow.
Obviously, we think the last option is the best.
With the holiday season and winter months fast approaching, feelings and symptoms of depression will often surface or increase. Feeling “down in the dumps” or “blah”, sad, discouraged, hopeless, irritable, cranky, or easily frustrated are typical symptoms of depression. Also feeling withdrawn, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities, changes in appetite, sleep, energy, difficulty concentrating, and making decisions are commonly reported. A sense of feeling worthless or excessive guilt may be experienced. Some of these feelings may actually interfere with our relationships, school, job, social activities, and even day to day functioning. If you experience a few or most of these symptoms it is wise to pay attention to what your body is telling you and to take care of yourself.
Often people minimize or don’t understand depression and the possible effects of going untreated. Working with a mental health professional can help you understand depression and learn multiple ways to manage its symptoms. Regardless of the season, feeling better means living better!
“I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth. In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality. People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on the earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness
Are you noticing your body slowing down as the holidays approach? Are you unsure of how to cope with these feelings and symptoms? Make sure there is not a physical or medical explanation for your depression. If your body isn’t feeling “right”, talk to your doctor. Treat your body the way it deserves and needs to be treated by eating healthy, getting enough rest, and regularly exercising. Taking a few moments to focus on your breathing is an easy and effective way to help your mind and body to relax, and can be done anywhere. Pull yourself into the present and take in the gifts that are around you now. Notice the sunshine, a beautiful bird, a cloud, or another gift of nature. Listen to the music or sounds that you “connect” with. A walk or change of scenery can bring newness into your surroundings. If possible, do something nice for another person, even if it is only to smile or greet them. Sometimes the simple, small steps we take make can make a big difference.