Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Counting and skipping

One of the things that I get frustrated with when dealing with other helpers is there lack of understanding when it comes to females who are diagnosed with a eating disorder. This particular addiction in this writer's opinion is all about control. Client's with anorexia suffer from this perceived notion that counting foods and skipping meals are healthy for them, and in the long run will help them address their unmet needs. This is completely false. When a client, male or female, is skipping a meal and then counting their snacks, or eating half of their portion, drinking half of their portion, they slowly think they are in control. What are they really controlling? They are only controlling a negative behavior, that will soon cycle into a eating disorder that will not help them solve any of their unmet needs. When self begins to count and skip meals the negative energy begins. Self begins to fool self, or trick self, into thinking that the shape they see in the mirror, is what will make them happy, and content. That body image will bring them their needs instantly. Well, that simply is not true. Self needs to learn how to feel good about what they eat, and how they can accept their own body, on their own terms. Purging meals is not the answer to get self validation. Self needs to learn how to eat things that bring positive energy. Keeping track of how many things we eat, and obsessing over how many of what self can eat will not work. Many clients with anorexia and who are bulimic are picky eaters, that is a fact. But, it does not need to be a reason to continue the path you may be on. It all starts with how you view your self. Don't make things bigger in your head. Learn to understand that your body and mind can work together in learning to like and love self again. Exercise is healthy, but we need to give the body food in order to keep exercising. Clients need to let the impulsive behavior go, and focus on the things they can control. Counting and skipping meals is not something we want to control. Your own body can be a beautiful thing, but you need to learn how to accept it, on your terms. When your body can eat healthy, positive energy comes from it. Give yourself credit when you are able to recognize that you are beginning to count and skip meals. Then, resist that urge, and find something positive in your life, you control that thought, and understand that eating a full meal, will only help you retain positive energy. Your body can be what you want if you are willing to learn to like who is in it! Self has the power to control healthy thoughts, and let the negative thoughts go before they turn into a impulsive behavior that does not help you with your unmet needs. One thought at a time, don't count your food, don't skip meals, learn to validate yourself with positive energy while eating all meals and feeling good about it. The reward is that is something you can control, and feel the positive energy! Don't beat yourself up from your last purge, recognize that behavior is not helping you, only draining your energy and how you view self. Focus on your next thought, when it is time to enjoy your meal, slow down, and think positive. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Over the years I have found the hardest thing to do sometimes is to teach others how to understand each other instead of judging each other first. This premise became evident in our small group intervention yesterday. All parties agreed to share this story in order to help others who may be facing the same challenges in their life today. I have been working with this family on and off over the last four years. The mother, has been in many groups of mine in treatment. She recently found her significant other, and is working through her recovery while raising a adopted child who is very precious. Her significant other was married before to a male, and just recently realized her own sexuality. Both women are now starting a life together, working through each other's past challenges and trying to raise their child in a healthy, open, loving way. The first challenge started with self, and for each person in this interpersonal relationship to understand that they need to be clean, in recovery to be the best parent and partner for each other. Both women have been sexually abused, one has been servery raped five years ago, by her husband. Fast forward to the present day, both women are in therapy, and attend support groups, while working on their self each day learning to balance their thoughts, utilizing their higher power for more support, and finding fun in their life again. The family decided to enrol their beautiful son, who is in pre-school now into a private school, hoping their kid can be transitioned into a supportive school system that accepts all kinds of people, regardless of the sexuality of the parents. Both parents of this child are highly educated and hold productive jobs in society. One is a social worker, the other a lawyer. I got the emergency call over this last weekend saying that the school administration was concerned about the families, "well being" and they were not a school that promoted drug use, especially with what they labeled as "troubled parents". As I got the collateral information over the phone, and in our small group intervention I began to understand the school's reaction. They did not understand that people who go through recovery, and people who finally find their own sexuality that makes them happy with them self was a appropriate balance for their families, teachers, and administration of the school. My job was to educate the school, and let them know, respectfully, how to understand each other, and understand that self is able to grow when self is faced with adversity, challenges, but more important, when self can face it's past, and move forward in life. I talked to the vice principal of the school for 45 minuets yesterday via phone. It was amazing to hear the disconnect in our community on what erroneous assumptions are made from being gay, and working through recovery. I then was able to speak, and slowly construct a time line for this vice principal, and begin to educate this person on how to understand instead of judge regardless of one's own lack of ignorance. Both parents have been clean of addiction for two plus years, and both parents are staying in their health. There are two things that I would like you to understand about this story as I delivered my message to the principal. One, building healthy  interpersonal relationships for kids at school has nothing to do with their parents sexuality, or their challenges. Two, schools become stronger as a whole, when their staff, and kids, and parents, are able to educate themselves on how important it is to understand each other, and not judge, regardless of one's own opinion. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wheel of Life

Many times during my groups through out the month, I will commence with drawing the customary circle, which is called the, "Wheel of Life".  I break it down into quadrants, labeling each section with life's components in which we all need to balance! Many of you are familiar with this exercise. For the one's that are not it is important to be honest with self's level of satisfaction. The wheel of life is something that we all can use to address where are energy is going, and what we value our current level of strength. The key is to understand that life is about putting positive energy into the things that give us balance, and in return we stay in the moment.  In this exercise, I use the following topics as are dividers: Health, Family and Friends, Career, Physical Environment, Money, Fun and Recreation, Significant Other, and Spirituality/Personal Growth. We go around the room and define each heading. Then I ask each person on a scale of 1-10, (for those who know me and get the opportunity to work with me, that 1-10 scale is evident in a array of things we do here at addiction services) to place their level of satisfaction on each of the topics. Remember after the circle is drawn, it is divided into 8 sections, like a pie! After each person ranks their levels of satisfaction, we then go around the room and have that person explain their wheel of life. Yesterday, during group, we had 14 people, complete this exercise. The last person, did something that I have never seen in all the years that I have been facilitating groups. This person, put all their numbers, (8 of them- 8 topics) into one piece of the pie! Any ideas of what that heading was? She put her numbers into the section called, Fun and Recreation. The class automatically said, "Tod, she can't do that, she is not following directions in the wheel of life". All of sudden, she walked up to the chalk board, and drew lines from all of the categories to the Fun and Recreation piece. She looked at the group and replied that her wheel of life is all about fun, and that when she stopped using drugs, her health, family and friends, career, physical environment, money, significant other, and spirituality with personal growth became fun again! We all clapped our hands, she has been clean for two years now, she is 38. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A feel good application

Yesterday I had the pleasure of helping one of our client's find housing. As some of you know this task can be filled with stress and anxiety if we do not let our negative thoughts go. One of the key components in recovery is finding suitable housing for the client. The place they call home can be a positive affirmation that resonates daily. Finding housing can be very challenging at times. There are absurd application fee's, back ground check fee's, double deposits, you all know the fee stuff! It can be very expensive and time consuming. Self really needs to stay in their health, and not make things bigger. The story continues as we found a potential housing community for this client, which appears to be a safe, relaxing, and affordable nest with beautiful views. We take the tour, the client appears to really being enjoying the opportunity to find her digs, and her own independence. We were fortunate to have a wonderful leasing representative who made the tour fun and enjoyable. Sitting down in her office we then get the numbers, ouch, there were added fee's that as the client looked at me, and I looked at her, we shared the same disbelief look! Our vivacious leasing representative, appeared to have this plan, or actually a game where we could lower the fee's. The unique game involved a bean bag, (three of them) and a wooden box 15 feet away in the galley office, where this special promotion suggested that the "lucky" contestant would and could for each bean bag thrown perfectly in the small hole, 15 feet away, could get their fee's waved with each bean bag going in the hole! My poor client, is looking at me, really Tod, how am I going to do this. Then it hit me! My addiction specialist powers were being called upon from up above, trying to remember desperately where I gleaned this skill in my clinical training, or intern, or shadowing, nope, that skill was never gleaned in my academic training. So I reached deep, down in my positive energy tool box. I respectfully walked over to the hole and dropped the bean bag first in it, to make sure it was not rigged. Come on now, I was a carny game player too in county fairs back in the day! It was all good. I looked at my client, she did not have the extra $ to be putting down on all these fees! First throw, boom baby, right in the hole. The leasing agent jumped up, and shouted no $40.00 application fee. The second throw boom baby, right in the center, pure swish. The leasing agent now kind of frowned, and said no $100.00 administration fee! The final throw, a "Dan Marino" throw I might add, boom, right in the middle. Our leasing agent, then goes wow, unbelievable, that has never been done! All fee's waved for your client. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.