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Let Others Help You Untie / Lose the Addiction

Does it feel like every day there is a bulletin on the latest celebrity who has admitted himself or herself into rehab? The unfortunate passing of Phillip Seymour Hoffman was due to a heroin addiction. The death of Glee celebrity, Cory Monteith, was also from a drug overdose.

Some may perceive these celebrities as having amazing lives; they make a lot of money; they own multiple cars and homes. It appears that they have all the opportunities to have amazing lives and relationships.

If celebrities, people who seem to have so much, struggle to overcome addiction, how can the common-folk do it? On the radio, one doctor commented that there is no cure to an addiction. That’s all that was on the broadcast. There were no other comments to possibly instill a grain of hope in the listener’s mind.

So what about the so-called “addicts” who are not celebrities?  What about the people who mortgage homes to pay for rehabilitation programs. What about those who have such a hard time believing they are worth the effort?  What about those courageous people who, admittedly with help, have overcome addictive patterns of behaviour,  persevere,  improve their relationships and have been able to co-create happier lives? These are the stories and truths we need to hear more about.

Technically, many might agree with the doctor’s negative, “to-the-point” comment… “There is no cure to addiction”. It is absolutely possible,  however, to have suffered from an addiction, overcome it with hard and consistent effort and to develop a happier life. YES!

If, as the doctor says “there is no cure”… then maybe it is not an illness. Perhaps it may, at least in some instances, be better viewed as an inappropriate coping strategy or poor stress response. In still other situations, it may be seen as learned behaviour that can be unlearned?  With an accurate assessment, it is possible to determine the factors contributing, the level of risk as well as the strengths and resources available to effectively overcome addiction. This is the kind of news we should hear about. The opportunities and success stories are not heard enough.

If you’d like to tell your success story… please submit it to our email (jeff@jeffpacker.com) with your clearly stated permission to post it anonymously on this blog.

Thanks

Perhaps This Is Normal

In life we are faced with many challenges and obstacles to overcome. At these difficult times and during trying situations, it is imperative to have people to assist us, to provide support and guidance and to encourage our efforts to improve. In our families, at least ideally, we hope that we can come together and support each other through the tough times. This is not always the case, however, as our family members may also be struggling and, thus, are less able or unable to help. Of course, the stress we carry can be brought into the family and our loved ones can certainly add stress to our lives.

Family members may become more negative;

  • “We can’t cope as a family.”
  • “No one respects anyone else.”
  • “If I don’t raise my voice no one will listen.”
  • “We are a failure.”
  • “My parents could not possibly understand what I’m going through.”
  • “I have no power as a parent.”

Stress is a normal part of living and of any family experience. Life is hard on this planet and families constantly face a multitude of difficulties or stressors. How we handle stressful moments is the key to healthier and happier outcomes and relationships. When a family is in crisis, it is very difficult to get to a positive resolution without getting professional help.

Reading materials, joining community or on-line training courses and using counselling can provide the guidance and support families require. Registered, professional family therapists (“coaches”) can help identify areas for change together with the family and incorporate a wide variety of strategies to help families achieve their goals.

“Family counselling can be done in a lighthearted way, with an accepting and encouraging style that helps all family members feel accepted and valued.”

Additionally, drawing upon family members’ current strengths and resources, the counsellor can fairly quickly help the family improve teamwork, re-negotiate roles, expectations and boundaries, making it easier to resolve issues and function well.  Knowledge bases used include cognitive-behavioural, developmental, attachment, family structure, narrative, and family systems theory. Bringing these tools into the family arena allows for better clarity, communication and compassion through a more understanding and accepting view.

New strategies are introduced, in these “coaching” sessions, to overcome some of the negativity or “Stinkin Thinkin” that has developed and recover from past hurt. Through the therapeutic process, families can grow closer and develop more satisfying relations with each other. They redefine goals, assess and clarify shared values and beliefs and develop new ways to love, support and care for each other.

For more information on family “coaching”, call us today!

 

Claire’s Story;

“I wake up, it’s 4am. The thought enters my mind, ‘Oh, it’s today. What am I going to have to face?’ Then I start ticking off all the things I have to face and with each one, I ask myself how I will cope with that. What if I can’t? What if I get anxious? What do I need to do in order to get myself through it? My mind fills with these possibilities and the anxiety starts to rise. I get this sinking nauseous feeling in my stomach and then the feeling of being broken and damaged washes over me again. I feel so vulnerable. I don’t undertstand why I am in this situation again. It feels like I am back at square one. If I can’t control myself, I am failing. All the things I have learned seem to be lost to me now. I feel so powerless,” (Grant, Townend, Mills, & Cockx, 2008, p. 162).

How many of us can identify with “Claire’s” “self”-defeating thoughts? We wake up, consider our responsibilities for the day, and then seem to give up on ourselves before we begin to accomplish anything. And even when we do accomplish our tasks, we may give luck the credit.

Like Claire, doubting thoughts may not be a daily reoccurrence. Some days may seem better than others. However on the not-so-good days, we feel that we are not progressing; one step forward and ten steps back!

“As the anxiety and feeling of being broken washes over me, the familiar image enters my mind. There I am, standing at the sink at 4 o’clock, feeling desperate, helpless, and anxious. I can’t go back to that place, I tell myself. It feels so dark and powerless,” (Grant, et al., 2008, p. 162).

The fear of once having experienced our lowest selves and not wanting to go through this again can have us feeling stuck. It is important to consider what we did to cope and overcome difficult times in the past. Ever wonder that thoughts may not really be ours? This includes the negatives that, along with all the positive thoughts, may just be a combination of thoughts collected over the years, beating up on us much like a virus beats up on a body or computer?

Some of us are able, at times, to talk ourselves out of it, stay focused and move forward. Some seek out their support system, calling upon a family member or friend. Our loved ones are often aware of our situation and, thus, can offer encouragement and even help to get through some of these troubling moments.

Some of us may choose to seek out professional counselling, getting coaching to get rid of “stinkin’ thinkin'” and develop a plan to get out of difficult times. It is important to note that seeking out supportive counselling is a strength, and does not indicate a failing or weakness. Some of us may benefit from monthly or bi-monthly coaching sessions to ensure we stay on track with our goals and receive the level of life coaching to help us improve our lives more efficiently and effectively.

Don’t give it up, “live it up” – call us today!

CBT-  Breakthrough to Reduce Anxiety

Anne’s presenting problem was preoccupation and fear that she had breast cancer. Five days a week, she would spend up to 80 per cent of her day thinking about the possibility that she might have cancer or that she had the symptoms of cancer in her breasts. On the other two days, she would have fleeting ideas that she might have cancer, but was able to dismiss them and continue with her normal activities. She sought reassurance from her husband at least ten times a day and visited her general practitioner, again for reassurance at least once a fortnight. She was unable to look at herself in the mirror as these evoked images of herself with cancer (Grant, Townend, Mills, & Cockx, 2008, p. 182).

Although Anne’s assessment and evaluations do not detect cancer-related symptoms (Grant, et al., 2008), the worry of possibly one day being diagnosed is all she seems to need to live with fear. The anticipation of a diagnosis of a life-threatening health concern can be overwhelming and consume much of our daily thoughts, feelings and routines.

Like Anne, we can have reoccurring thoughts that foster feelings of anxiety, anger, worry, fear, doubt, sadness, and depression. Experiencing these feelings each day may also create excessive and harmful behaviours. In Anne’s case, she avoided all forms of appropriate self-examinations for months at a time, however every three to four months, she would become so overwhelmed with her thoughts of having cancer that she would spend several hours examining her breasts (Grant, et al.). As a result, she would experience tenderness which she interpreted as a sign of cancer.

The cycle of stinkin’ thinkin’, where our overwhelming thoughts create excessive feelings that lead to harmful behaviours can be exhausting. It may have us feeling hopeless, living a life we do not want or enjoy and disrupting relationships with others.

Professional help can help you find the solutions to break this cycle so it will not continue to be debilitating. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy provides tools like cognitive or thought shifting, behavioural strategies and a safe professional place to identify the factors contributing to concerning behaviours. It has been proven to be helpful for re-balancing emotions.

If you are finding thinking cycles and the emotional upheaval unmanageable, call us today!

Food Issues May Increase Over Holidays

Presents are great, laughter with family and friends is nice, but some of us believe that the real enjoyment of the holidays is the abundance of food. Special meals and traditional dishes are prepared this time of year. Some of us are very mindful of healthy eating now, so that we may fully indulge in the sometimes not-so-healthy meals we will have over the holidays.

As our aunts, mothers, and grandmothers gather in the kitchen, (men in some families too) and create what can only be described as magical aromas, it is sometimes difficult to keep in mind that members of our family require dietary support. Not only can some of us have severe food allergies (e.g. gluten, nuts, dairy), but some of us also require a lot more TLC (tender, loving care) during the holidays. Disordered eating issues can also be worse during the holidays and family get togethers.

“As she reached puberty, her thin frame began to fill out, raising concerns about the effects of her weight gain on her performance as a gymnast. She began to restrict her intake of food, but found that after several days of semi-starvation she would lose control and go on an eating binge. This pattern of dieting and binging lasted for several months, during which her fear of becoming fat seemed to increase. At age 13, she hit on the ‘solution’ of self-induced vomiting. She quickly fell into a pattern of episodes of alternating binging and vomiting three or four times per week,” (Davidson, Neale, Blankstein, & Flett, 2002).

Coping with disordered eating can be quite difficult over the holiday season.  Those suffering may feel like family members will be paying particular attention to them because they are the ones with “the problem.”  Uneasiness with meal times and menu planning is quite often present, making certain topics and particular foods become “off the table”. It may just be helpful to reduce tension by developing a “peace treaty” for the holidays, withdrawing stress raising topics and foods from the holiday menu because they are known triggers to unhealthy eating behaviours.

Over the Christmas holidays, we wish your family all the best as you cope with thoughts and situations that can easily hinder a fun-filled and relaxing holiday experience.

Should you want assistance with family relationship improvements and to recover from disordered eating patterns,  schedule your appointment for 2014 today!

Heads are leaning on heads. Bodies are squished together in small seats. Eyes are closed and heads are nodding forward. When eyes are open, we see angry faces and hear people in pissed off moods… and it’s only 7am. What is the rest of our day going to look like?

There’s no doubt about it, we live in a world of hustle. Some of us work 8-12 hour days and still have to “work” on daily family tasks when we get home. When our heads hit the pillow and we finally attain a moment of silence, we begin to process all that needs to be done for the day to come). We ask ourselves; “Where did this day go?”

So I have to ask: “Is the hustle and bustle of our lives really worth it?” We are begging for a vacation because we need that escape. We are looking for new jobs and opportunities to make our lives better (or easier). We are asking ourselves; “Does life have to be this hard?”

Stressful events and life’s hiccups are inevitable; however, how we perceive and cope with these experiences make a world of difference. Balance is an essential component to consider when we make decisions in our lives. Of course, once we make these decisions (e.g. to work here or there, to commute or not, etc.), it is important to “own them”, take responsibility for the results of our decisions and be accountable for our actions.

To attain a balanced lifestyle, we must shift our thoughts from stress and worry, to positivity and action. Staying positive is difficult to do on our own; however, building a strong connection to our higher power and with friends and family can provide us with the support we need. Action may sound tiring; however, staying active prevents doubt, builds confidence, distracts us from stressful thoughts and releases endorphins or what we like to call the “happy hormones”.

Solution-focused counselling can help us train our mind into being more positive and action focused. This form of brief-therapy is future focused, goal-directed, and centers on solutions rather than problems. To attain your goals without having to feel burdened or stressed each morning, call us today!

 

What I wouldn’t give to feel normal again!

Sometimes we lay in bed and as we awake to our alarm clock, before moving an inch, we think we are going to feel normal again, pain-free. We roll over and as we attempt to get up, BAM! We are reminded by the strike of pain sent to an area of our body like a lightening bolt strikes trees.

It is difficult to explain people’s experiences with chronic pain. Some are “lone”parents, some have to manage going to work, some become addicted to pain killers, and some have broken relationships due to the difficulty coping with their chronic pain. Each person suffering from chronic pain will have different experiences; however, some of the thoughts associated with chronic pain are still similar:

 

  • “Why me?”
  • “I can’t take it anymore!”
  • “I wish this never happened!”
  • “I will never feel normal again!”
  • “No one understands what I’m going through!”
  • “I feel alone. Just me and this pain.”
  • “How am I going to manage?”

 

These thoughts lead to feelings of worthlessness, exhaustion, stress, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. Without a consistent support system and appropriate coping strategies, the behaviours associated with dealing with chronic pain can be quite alarming: addiction (to prescribed medication or substance abuse/misuse), separation and divorce, suicidal ideations, unproductive behaviours (such as refusing to wake up or work), and anti-social behaviours such as shutting out family and friends.

It is very unfortunate that people endure chronic pain hardship for any length of time. However, there are resources available to help those suffering. Families and friends struggling due to another’s chronic pain experiences can also get help.

Call us today to find out how we can help you and your family cope more effectively with chronic pain.