Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Learn to accept your own challenges- turn it into a positive!

Challenges, challenges and challenges. Some of us, self included, would beat ourselves up pretty good when we could not accept our challenges. It was easier to have a drink, get high, go gambling, purge or have unhealthy sexual behavior. We may use the excuse, that if we have a challenge confronting us, that would be ample reason to go self-medicate! But, if you really be honest, really honest, after you self-medicated, did the challenge really go away? 100% no, it did not, not even close. Sure, you may have given yourself a few hours of destroying your body, and mind- but the challenge is still there, and it grows bigger. Remember, it starts out with a thought, you are the only one in your head who can make it bigger, and bigger. Once it gets to big, impulsive, destructive behavior usually commences. This is why we need to work through our challenges, and turn them into a positive. You need to learn how to accept your challenges and turn the negative into a positive. This challenge is something that you can do if you are able to be honest about how you feel when things are not working out the way you wanted or expected. You may be angry at yourself, or others, when certain things do not go the way you expected. This is ok people, it is called challenges. Self has the ability to work through tough challenges when you are in your health. Stay in the moment. You can't change your past, but you can accept it on your terms. Turn the challenge into a positive by not self-medicating, making the thought bigger, allowing negative energy to obsess on something that you already know is a challenge in your life. Be proud that you can identify your own challenges, and begin to work through them. To many people want to battle with their negatives, and forget that there is a positive in knowing where you need support. Put your energy into things you can control and get balance out of. The first thing I tell all patients that are referred to us or a brand new client- this is your challenge right now- where you are at this second. Then we begin to work through the challenge and learn to turn it into a positive. Let your mind utilize it's strengths, turn off the negative switch. One thought at a time. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Facebook attention, for whom?

This last weekend, I got this message to call this person. The voice on the message appeared very young. As I dialed the number, I was thinking about what I would say if this voice was indeed that young. I make it a rule to get the parents permission, when I think the voice is younger then 18, for liability issues and protection. To my surprise, a older voice answered. I identified myself to the caller, and she immediately, responds that the message left with me, must of been her daughter. Respectfully, I asked if she would like me to talk to her, and how old was her daughter? She blurts out in a laughing way, she is 24, in college studying to become a nurse. Then all of sudden, I here the voice, and I am talking to her. Mom was just leaving for work, she apparently is a nurse to. The young lady introduced her self, (ok to share) and we began to talk. She has no addiction, no emotional mentoring needed, as I am surmising the information she is giving me. She explains her father and mother got a divorce a couple years ago- and she is concerned with her mother's clothing behavior on facebook. I took a breath, and asked her to explain what she meant. It turns out Mom is posting pictures of herself on facebook, that appear to her daughter as inappropriate, immature, and attention gathering. I could understand this concern, as a person who uses facebook, I too see this in some of my peers, specifically older moms who seem to advertise their life on facebook, but more importantly, they take many pictures of themselves and post. I thought it was important to explain what I do as a mental health professional before I go any further, and ask if there was any addiction behavior connected to this message. If there was not, I wanted to give this person to another helper who may be of more service in their field. She stopped talking, and replies that she is experimenting with her mom's depression medication. I asked her if she has a diagnosis of depression, she said no, absolutely not! She continues on to say that she is not anxious, or meets the criteria for any mood disorder. I then carefully, and cautiously, asked if her experimenting with her mother's scripts was providing her any relief with her anger towards her mothers facebook posting of pictures? I could tell right there after a long pause, that was the issue. Her mother was creating unwanted attention to her friends and herself with the pictures. This 24 year old college person, was self-medicating because her mom in her eyes was posting pictures, in her clothing, and getting many responses with her facebook friends, and mom's facebook friends. She replies that she takes the pills to forget about what she is embarrassed about, but it's not helping. We then talked about her college, and what kind of mental health services they offer to students. As we talked further, we made a plan for her to make a appointment with student services, and talk to a psychologist that works at the university. She appeared to feel better. Something still did not fit, I could not wrap my head over this conversation. I was missing something, this would not be the first time or last time that I felt something was more to the story. The conversation was coming to a halt, and I thought the plan seemed positive. Im searching my brain, what was I missing? I then thanked her for the phone call, and let her know she can reach out via email, or voice if she ever needed to. As I was hanging up the phone, telling her to not make things bigger, and being honest with self, balance her feelings and thoughts, use her higher power (which was her mom) and have some fun on her upcoming night out with nursing peers. She said, Tod, I am the one posting inappropriate pictures of myself on facebook, and I do not like the attention I am getting. My mother is worried that I am upset with my sexuality, I may be bi? I said let it out- all of it, keep going. Twenty minuets later I got the truth, her truth. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Friday, June 14, 2013


This writer is a firm believer in venting- writer included- that is why I have a blog! One of the coolest things about my job is being able to form positive relationships with Mn school social workers all over the state. I get to speak to high school students, particularly seniors. I provide addiction education and education on safe sex! Important, right? This one particular school district, where I provide these addiction education talks asked me to come back and talk again to their seniors next fall. My good friend is a social worker at this high school. I asked her if I could talk to the middle school first, then do the seniors in the fall at the high school. She thought it was a awesome idea, and took the request to the administration. The administration informed me that they thought that was a terrible idea, and they do not have teenage pregnancy issues at the middle school. I almost fell off my chair when I got the email! Really, are you serious? I have not only worked with 15 year old girls in this school district but have received feedback from church pastors if I am aware of the teenage pregnancy problems in the school district! Vent, breathe, and slow the thoughts down. That is how we do not make things bigger in our head. I preach this daily. Can I let this go, am I able to move onto the next thought. Yes, I can, but I need to voice or vent my opinion to the administration in a respectful manner. I do enjoy speaking to the seniors in this high school, and have received positive feedback from the parents and kids. But, am I enabling the issue by not trying to speak to the middle school? Yes, I am. Let the negative thoughts out, Tod, don't make it bigger. Ok, I will exercise, and come back to this after my work out. Work out completed, I feel better, thoughts are not racing as before. I need to vent, journal, and talk about this. I will blog! I'm sending a respectful email to the administration, and outlining the challenges. I feel better, in the moment. Venting is human, know matter what you do for a living, it is important to vent and get your feelings out. Venting makes us stronger. Thanks for listening. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Failure is success (it's how you look at it)

The other day I was able to step into a "old" group that I use to facilitate, and listen to the topic at hand. The topic was success, and how people in this group were sharing their success stories with each other. Many people at this group did not say anything, or offer any feedback as each person was given the chance to speak. The group leader asked if I would like to offer any thoughts. The first thing out of my mouth was failure. That got people's attention real quick. Each face with a pair of eyes was watching me now. I walked up to the marker board. (I have never learned how to speak my thoughts with out a marker board!) I wrote failure in big black letters. Then I drew a arrow from the word failure to (as I wrote the word) success. Hands went up quick, there must of been six hands shoot up. I called the first hand. The person replies that failure can not be a success, and soon the head nodding was alive again, and I could here whispers between the group. I looked at this person and responded, each time self fails self has the ability to succeed. For example, if you have a relapse, you have the choice to have another one or not to have another relapse. If you choose not to have a relapse, and work your program that is a success for that moment right there. You may have failed, but you are teaching your self how to work through it, and and keep trying- that my friends is a success. If you choose to dwell on your relapse, make it bigger, you will let failure control your thoughts. Every time you fail, you have the power to make it a success if you believe in your self and your program. Five seconds went by. The voices were getting louder, I could hear the failure stories, but each story slowly began to turn positive. We started the group again. This time each person was to give a recollection of a failure, and how they worked through it. It was amazing to hear how group members could recount failed experiences- (it was obvious that some were not letting go of the past) you could feel their negative energy. As the hour grew longer, it appeared that many in the group were learning how to look at failure in a different way- not beating them self up- but trying to move forward to have the potential to succeed. I closed with this for our group. We all make mistakes, we all have failures in our life, we need to be accountable for this. Being accountable is part of success, owning up to our failure with honesty is a positive behavior. The trick is to learn from our failures, let the negative energy out and focus on the positive energy! It's how you look at your failures and move forward- that is a success. Something to be proud of. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Keep your clothes on

A couple of years ago I was working with a client, who was a stripper. She was struggling with her addiction and decided to strip to support her addiction. I skyped with her for 6 months. She was using three times a day, and was in tough shape. When I discharged her, she had been clean for 45 days. Her goal was to enrol in community college, and begin her academic career. When she emailed me this weekend, she asked me to share her story with other girls, or women who may be in the same business. The story continues as she lead a life of meth, drinking, and unhealthy sex at times. After three months of skyping, we began to learn the layers of sexual abuse that she suffered as teenager. She was unable to seek counseling, and decided that she would drop out of high school and become a stripper. Her best friends sister was a stripper, and she had her own car, and appeared to make alot of money. This was to become her goal. This particular girl was very fit, and she could dance. She was a athlete in 9th grade, and was sexually abused in 10th and 11th grade. I remember how positive she felt when she disclosed her story, and all the pain she had built up over the last few years. It was at her fifth month of skyping that I found her to be changing the way she felt about her past. We began to uncover her talents and strengths as a person. I asked her if she could still dance, but keep her clothes on. I will never forget her expression, as she looked at me like I was from mars! On her sixth month of skyping with me, she passed her GED then got enrolled in the local community class. She was excited about school, and being meth free! I just heard from her this weekend. She will graduate from her associates degree in physical education. She is working as a dance instructor, and using the funds to pay for her school. She is meth free, going on three years. She just got accepted into her college, and is pursuing a bachelor's degree in physical education. This last weekend she taught her dance class with 15 girls, and all 15 enrolled in the next session! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.