Resiliency – Perseverance 

Going into the New Year, I find myself again reflecting on all the ups and downs over this past year. Every year it amazes me to watch not only myself but others go through so much in a year and to keep pushing on. Through all the ups and the downs, I am always amazed at the strength I and others all have to keep moving forward time and time again, even after experiencing a year of hardships.

I love the concept of resilience and it has been something I have always taken a fascination too. Resilience is the process of adapting in the face of adversity. I know throughout my life, it has given me a lot of strength and hope. I have been through some really difficult times in my life and struggles and knowing that I have gotten through tough times in the past, with help of course, always gives me some hope that I will be able to get through tough times in the future, whatever life throws my way.

I learn a lot about human resilience not just from myself and my own experiences in life but a lot from others and the world around me. I think it can be really easy to focus on all the negatives in our world and around us, as so much negativity is focused on throughout media, but I like to seek out the positives, light out of the darkness, silver lining etc..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For me, seeing and hearing stories of resilience is a way to get a small glimpse into the vast array of positives in the world. This has a way of lightening up my heart, my thought life and even my soul or spirit. Hearing peoples stories of resilience and their strength always makes me reflect on just how strong we can be in the face of adversity, even within those dark moments when life itself often hangs in the balance. There is also a hint of humility and of my own mortality when hearing about the really terrible things that people around the world experience, manage and overcome.

I encourage others, like I do myself, to seek out and share stories of resiliency… including our own. It is easy and even natural to focus on negatives (for survival), to sink into negativity during tough times, dwelling on the times we failed at something, the times we could have done more and those times we could have done or said less. It is naturally and socially more challenging to see and recognize the amazing capacity, strengths and courage we all have in these moments and the resilience and perseverance adversity has built into our character.

Many of the most difficult and painful moments in my life have taught me my most cherished lessons for living – such as lessons about human relationships, honesty, compassion, trust, grieving and loss, kindness, forgiveness and love.

Moving soon into this New Year, I hope to continue to strive daily to see the strength and courage within myself, through both the difficult and the good times no matter what comes my way. I know that it is not always easy to see these positive, colourful and beautiful things clearly, in oneself and in others. I also know that it is quite often a struggle in life, yet, through every struggle I know there is a story of resilience to be told when we are open to accepting help and willing to persevere.

 

Submitted By: Mallory (masters in counselling student)
photos by J. Packer

 

 
  
Photo credit: MGDboston from morguefile.com

Prescription For Improved Mental Health:

  1. Help Others – 2 to 5 times a week or as often as you can, preferably do this anonymously
  2. Activity – 10 to 30 minutes of healthy activity each day to create positive energy and release those “happy hormones”… endorphins that trigger happy feelings
  3. Cook – 2 to 3 times a week or as often as you would like, especially for others as you can feel better by helping others be healthier too
  4. Clean – do up to 4 chores per week, i.e. dishes, vacuuming, purge items and give items away. This gives energy and helps keep a cleaner, healthier place to live
  5. Vocation – while still at school or working, keep searching for your dream full time job, upgrade your education, learn more to reach your goals
  6. Social – get together or connect with friends/family a couple of times per week. Constructing healthy relationships requires consistent work over time
  7. Self-Care – do a few things each week (if not daily) that you enjoy. Also engage in positive self-talk… coaching yourself as if encouraging a 5 or 6 year old you.

Over the coming month, apply these gradually, yet more and more consistently in your life. Track the results. You will likely be very surprised at how a few little adjustments in your routine, small shifts in behaviour, can have such a positive and profound impact on your mental health and quality of life.

Happy New Year !

Doubts Are Normal… You’re Not Alone

“What is some stranger going to tell me about my life that I don’t already know?”

 

“Do I really have to lie on a couch and tell this guy about my dreams?”

 

“My partner already judges me, why go to someone else for further persecution….and pay for it!”

 

“I can’t share my inner demons with anyone; a therapist will think I’m crazy.”

These statements are just a few that inhibit individuals, couples, and families from seeking help for difficult situations. It is normal to worry and be hesitant to come in and talk to a therapist about your deepest thoughts, concerns, and conflict in your relationships. That is why it is important to interview and research counsellors as well. Finding someone you are comfortable with and someone who is well trained to help you with your specific needs are two criteria that should be high on your priority list.

How effective is therapy?

  • Research on the effectiveness of counselling show lasting results compared to no-treatment and placebo control conditions (Journal of Counseling & Development, Jul-Aug, 1996).
  • Counselling is effective both in short and long term periods for a wide range of psychological distress (Mulhauser, 2010).
  • For depression, compared to patients in drug therapy, an imaging study by neuroscientists in Canada found that individuals in a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy program displayed different (and improved) patterns of brain changes (Medical News Today, 2004).

What is Therapy?

  • Google defines therapy as “A treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder”.
  • GoodTherapy.org indicates that “Therapy allows people to establish goals and determine the steps required to achieve them”.
  • The American Psychological Association reports therapy to be “A treatment for psychological problems in which therapists and clients work together to understand problems and come up with the plans for fixing them”.
  • The Health Psychology Center promotes therapy as “A method to increase awareness which helps people understand their thoughts and feelings in relation to a problem”.

It seems okay for us to suggest that therapy provides a means to an end of some concern, difficulty, or problem which people are facing. Whether you are seeking individual, couple, group or family therapy, counselling can enhance relationships and provide guidance and support for those going through troubled times. In addition, counselling can also assist in helping people be more proactive in their lives. With a trained therapist, people are able to create strategies of coping, develop problem-solving and conflict resolution skills, and enhance communication for situations that may arise in the future.

Call us today so … We Can Help!

Bernice’s OCD began shortly after the death of her father. Since then, it had waxed and waned and currently, was as severe as it had ever been.

Bernice was obsessed with a fear of contamination, a fear she vaguely linked to her father’s death from pneumonia. Although she reported that she was afraid of nearly everything, because germs could be anywhere, she was particularly upset by touching wood and other ‘scratchy objects’. She was unable to state why these particular objects were sources of possible contamination.

Bernice tried to reduce her discomfort by engaging in compulsive rituals that took up almost all her waking hours. She spent three to four hours in the morning in the bathroom, washing and rewashing herself. Between baths, she scraped away the outside layer of her bar of soap so that it would be totally free of germs. Mealtimes also lasted for hours, as Bernice performed her rituals–eating three bites of food at a time, chewing each mouthful 300 times. These steps were meant magically to decontaminate her food. Even Bernice’s husband was sometimes involved in these mealtimes ceremonies, shaking a teakettle and frozen vegetables over her head to remove the germs. Bernice’s rituals and fear of contamination had reduced her life to doing almost nothing else. She would not leave the house, do housework, or even talk on the telephone,” (Davidson, Neale, Blankstein, Flett, 2002).

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which the mind is flooded with persistent and what seems to be uncontrollable thoughts. An individual is compelled to repeat certain tasks which causes great distress and interference with everyday functioning.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be treated effectively if the treatment plan is performed in a consistent, logical and supportive manner. A person in treatment will come to realize that the fear, anxiety and all other difficult symptoms associated with an obsessive-compulsive routine can decrease and pass over time. As well, the feelings associated with OCD do not cause personal harm. This can be very difficult for a person with OCD to grasp without treatment. This person may hold on to these compulsive behaviours because it is the only way he/she has been able to cope with their obsessive thoughts, impulses and feelings. This coping mechanism, however, only provides temporary reduction of unpleasant feelings and can worsen and increase if continued. Like the story of Bernice, we come to realize how her OCD is interfering with her life as well as her husband’s.

Here are a couple key points to know about treating OCD – 
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: CBT helps people recognize the connection between thoughts, feelings and associated impulses or behaviours. Narrative theory helps people reexamine their story (i.e., a significant event in the person’s life, like Bernice’s father passing, can inform about the when and how these thoughts and behaviours initially developed) as it is related to the troubling behaviour and identify cognitive shifts helpful in changing both the narrative and, thus, the emotions and behaviours.

Behavioural contracting and changes may also be used in therapy. An agreement that compulsive behaviours will be reduced and eventually not be performed is an effective step toward reducing these behaviours. Exposure therapy and systematic desensitization approaches set in place the gradual exposure to the fear and anxiety provoking stimulus, in a safe and progressive manner, that sets the person up for success in reducing the emotional impact and related behaviours.

The combination of approaches right for each person may vary . It is important for people to connect with, negotiate changes with and work closely with a professional, registered therapist. There is no suggested or ideal length of treatment as it depends on the individual’s unique needs and goals. With consistent effort in treatment, people struggling with OCD can see progress and be able to celebrate successes.

Call us today to get more information on treating OCD, and learn how to support family members with this OCD as well.