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PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR:

Anxiety & Depresssion

Life Transitions & Stress

Self-esteem & Relationships

Trauma-based Issues

African American Mother with Daughter
Family Having Fun

February 2016 Updates


The World Health Organization says that your "health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being (emphasis mine) and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

As a health psychologist, I provide monthly updates of resources for individuals and families that support well-being.  
Cheers, Marilyn Wilts     Click on Read More below.

Note:  I am not responsible for the content, claims or representations of the listed sites and post these links for informational purposes only.


QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"Life is choice.  All day, everyday.  Who we talk to, where we sit, what we say, how we say it.  And our lives become defined by our choices.  It's as simple and as complex as that.  And as powerful.  So when I'm observing that's what I'm watching for.  The choices people make."
--Louise Penny in Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel


Order free NIMH Information on Mental Health!

Order Mental Health Information

The following is excerpted from the NIMH website:

With the New Year, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has new and updated information on various mental disorders available to order for FREE!  You can learn more about depression, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, and many other conditions  with brochures, booklets, and e-books. 

Your can order online at NIMH Publications

One popular brochure is on Depression in Women, and d
escribes different forms of depression, including major depression, postpartum depression, and persistent depressive disorder.   This brochure describes signs, symptoms, and treatment, as well as causes, risks, and how to help a loved one with depression.

Another popular brochure is on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and explains what post-traumatic stress disorder is, the symptoms, how it's detected, and when it starts. This brochure explains what causes PTSD and lists treatment choices, resources for help, and who to call when in crisis.


Caregiver Support Line
Seeking a guide to self-care?
I find this handout, provided by the Veterans Administration for caregivers of veterans, useful in guiding my own self care and hope you may, too.


New resources include:

  • Stepping into Stillness: Maintaining Your Center of Gravity When Caring for a Veteran Loved One I find this handout, provided by the Veterans Administration for caregivers of veterans, useful in guiding my own self care and hope you may find it useful, too.
  • Charles Sieber, in The New York Times, January 31, 2016, wrote an extensive article on “What Does a Parrot Know About PTSD? An unexpected bond between damaged birds and traumatized veterans could reveal surprising insights into animal intelligence.”
Separating parrots from their social environment causes similar symptoms of PTSD as in humans, and a relationship between two species (parrot and human) suffering in the same ways can help both. . (Marilyn Wilts)

 

Stepping into Stillness: Maintaining Your Center of Gravity When Caring for a Veteran Loved One

When exploring the many challenges of caring for a loved one, we must consider all aspects of individual functioning whether it is physical, mental or emotional, and its impact on you, the Caregiver.

 How has the care of your Veteran impacted these areas of functioning for you?

Physical – such as change in sleep patterns, lack of attention to medical care, muscle strains, poor exercise, or change in eating habits

Mental – such as forgetfulness, confusion, or disorganization

Emotional – such as feelings of being depressed, lonely, anxious, or angry

 Attention to yourself and to the present moment can be lost when you are scrambling to meet the needs of another, or struggling to meet the demands of your daily life. Why is it so important to pay attention to yourself? If you don’t, it’s like driving a car with your eyes closed. How far might you go before getting in a crash? Attention to yourself and the present moment not only keeps you from crashing, it can help keep you calmly at the center of your own life.

 What are the physical, mental, or emotional needs to which you would like to pay greater attention?

Physical – such as making a doctor’s appointment for yourself or take a walk

Mental – such as make lists and organize tasks

Emotional – such as sharing your feelings with another

Practice paying attention to you. Science and medical research have recognized the powerful benefits of meditation to health and wellbeing. Meditation is a practice, and is no more complex than sitting still and bringing attention and awareness to the present moment, with an attitude of non-judgment or compassion. One very simple way to practice meditation is to simply focus on the rise and fall of your breathing. Explore for yourself a meditation practice, or simply sit still and see what happens for you!

Communicate to Support Self Care. Communication is a skill that presents us all with a host of challenges and when your loved one is ill, it demands even more attention and care. If you are paying attention to how you feel, what you think or need, you may then be able to more clearly communicate your needs to others. Take a deep breath and consider:

 What feelings are you aware of that you need to express?

 Who might you express your feelings to or how might you express them?

 What thoughts have you recognized need to be shared?

 What request for help would you risk making?

Find Acceptance. Maybe it is recognition of the loss of control of physical, mental, or emotional functioning of your loved one that is so difficult to experience. Maybe it is uncertainty, the loss of roles, of dreams, of future plans, or the loss of control. Fighting the reality of these losses will merely bring with it more suffering for both of you. The way out of this fight is through the practice of coming to acceptance. This is different than giving up. It is giving into what is, and remaining present to what life is in this moment.  

 When are you aware that your fight for control is causing you suffering?

 What helps you to come to acceptance?

Live the life that is given. Being present and enjoying the gifts of life is possible when you have come to acceptance with what is the current reality. Identify the activities, interests, connections and supports, not that you have lost, but that you have now.

 What activities and interests spark your desire for living?

 Who do you spend time with that energizes and supports you?

Read more Caregiver Education Handouts at www.Caregiver.va.gov


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                
Charles Sieber, in The New York Times, January 31, 2016, wrote an extensive article on “What Does a Parrot Know About PTSD?  An unexpected bond between damaged birds and traumatized veterans could reveal surprising insights into animal intelligence.”   Note:  The photo above is of Cashew, a caigue.  Credit Jack Davison for The New Yor

Separating parrots from their social environment causes similar symptoms of PTSD as in humans, and a relationship between two species (parrot and human) suffering in the same ways can help both.  (Marilyn) 

Here are some excerpts.
[begin excerpts]
Abandoned pet parrots are twice-traumatized beings: denied first their natural will to flock and then the company of the humans who owned them. In the wild, parrots ply the air, mostly, in the same way whales do the sea: together and intricately. Longtime pairs fly wing to wing within extended, close-knit social groupings in which individual members, scientists have recently discovered, each have unique identifiable calls, like human names. Parrots learn to speak them soon after birth, during a transitional period of vocalizing equivalent to human baby babbling known as ''subsong,'' in order to better communicate with members of their own flocks and with other flocks.

[snip] A parrot separated from its flock will flock fully and fiercely to the attentions and affections of its new human keeper. And when that individual, for whatever reason, fails to uphold his or her end of such an inherently exclusive relationship, the effects are devastating.

When I asked Simmons to describe what happens to him when he is with a parrot, he instantly went into one of his signature high-speed soliloquies. ''Here we go,'' he said. ''Write it down. There are things I have seen that will never leave me. There's this huge sack of guilt and shame and pain that I carry with me, and I got it when I was 18 years old in Bahrain. Now, when I'm with a parrot, it's not a total time-change thing, but I do have to act like a 12-year-old boy again. And here's why. Because parrots are not domesticated animals. They haven't been bred for hundreds of years to be at my feet.'' Simmons paused for a sip of Coke, the third one of the night. ''So in order to have a relationship with a parrot, that parrot has to select me. In order for that to happen, that parrot has to be comfortable. I have to come in open and quiet and calm. Much like that 12-year-old boy that met the mean dog next door and never had a problem. Much like that 12-year-old boy that went hiking and saw a mountain lion. I'm acting like the 12-year-old boy again around the parrots, and what that does is help me confront my trauma rather than carry it around. Because now I'm with a psychiatrist, and I'm talking about how this bird didn't feel so good today and wasn't very comfortable and was kind of hiding in the back of the cage, and the psychiatrist goes, 'Hmm, you're starting to talk about emotions.' I'm talking about how the bird was feeling, but I'm also transferring my own emotions. So being with the parrots allows me to take that third-person look at my own trauma, which you can never do when you're whacked out on Vicodin and Budweiser and living under a cement highway bridge.'' [end excerpts]

Courtesy of Ken Pope, a psychologist who posts articles he feels are of interest, the full article is on line at KenPopePTSDVeteransParrots