Once someone we love has died, our new normal is something completely different from anything we have known before. We are different than we were before. Our lives are different than they were before. "Normal" seems like something far, far away. Unfortunately, this is the new normal.
When he was three months old, my firstborn child was diagnosed with a choroid plexus carcinoma, a rare, aggressive brain tumor that grows on the structure inside the brain that makes cerebral spinal fluid. Two weeks after the initial resection of the tumor, and two more subsequent surgeries to drain fluid from his brain, he endured his first chemotherapy treatment. Three days following the administration of the chemo, a CT scan revealed that his brain was completely destroyed. The scan showed no healthy tissue. Doctors called it “total neurological devastation.” If somehow, after 70 weeks of chemotherapy, more surgery and radiation treatment, he were to defy all odds and survive the tumor, the neurological devastation would ensure that my son would have very little, if any, independent functioning. The likelihood of survival was minimal. Read More...
Meditation is helpful for reduction of stress and anxiety and can help us to become more aware of the messages we send ourselves. This practice will help you learn to become more aware of how many thoughts come into your mind at any given moment, and to become more adept at noticing them when they come at points throughout your day, when you aren’t engaged in practicing meditation. Over time, this practice can help you become better at not getting involved, or hooked into, every thoughts that might come at any given moment. Read More...
Austim Spectrum Disorders and How Therapy Can Help
I have long considered it a grave disservice to the population of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, that the message they are often is sent is that they should try to be less like themselves and more like the neurotypical population. Often, kids, teens and adults on the spectrum spend a lot of time trying to be “normal”, fighting sensory overload and overwhelm, fending off personal quirks, and trying so hard to “fit in”, socially and otherwise. Sometimes, it may never cross their minds to do try to do such a thing and, either way, frequently, they are recipients of mistreatment and misunderstanding. They are often bullied or teased. They are often stressed and distressed. All too frequently, and for many different reasons, people on the spectrum experience high levels of stress, as well as symptoms of other mental health difficulties including depression, mood disorders, anxiety, obsessive thinking. Research also shows that there is a high occurrence of depression, mood, and anxiety disorders in families of those with autism spectrum disorders.
Psychotherapy, particularly where art and other expressive modes of treatment are used, can help offer a safe space for kids, teens and adults on the spectrum to be able to express themselves more readily, to be able to learn more effective coping skills to manage stress, as well as the symptoms of other mental health issues.
We breathe all the time, right? So, what's the big deal?
Most of us are not breathing properly throughout our days for optimum health and well-being. We have poor posture, we sit at our desks for long periods of time, staring at screens, generally moving very little. Grieving makes us feel like we want to be slumped down, curled up and protecting our hearts. Our lungs are unable to expand fully and breathing is even more restricted than normal.
When asked to take a deep breath, most people suck in their stomachs and fill up their chests. This is actually the opposite of deep breathing. This posture restricts our lungs' ability to take in oxygen and to release carbon dioxide. The result is an excess of CO2 in our bodies. Not inhaling enough oxygen and failing to exhale enough CO2, can create fatigue, mental fog and decreased tissue function. For a grieving person, this can intensify many of the normal grief reactions that we go through as part of the grief experience. Breathing deeply and fully can be a helpful tool to decrease stress, increase clarity of thought and help to counteract fatigue. Read More...
A helpful exercise I have shared with a lot of people to stop anxiety and bring you into the present moment, is this simple, but effective practice of bringing your awareness away from anxious, fearful, worrisome thoughts and coming into the present moment where you can see, feel, hear and that you are safe. You’re invited to move through each one of your senses, noticing and paying attention to what you are experiencing right now, this moment. The following steps will walk you through this practice of bringing your awareness into the present moment through using your bodily senses. By the end of the series, you should notice that the anxious, fearful or worrisome thoughts your were experiencing are lessened.
We can choose to be mindful in any of our everyday activities. Being fully present moment to moment, with others, in our actions, our experiences, our thoughts and feelings can help us to be more fully participatory in our own lives. Often we eat mindlessly, at our desks, in front of the TV, of computer, paying no attention to what we are putting in our mouths, much less the taste, smell or texture. Mindful eating can help us to become more aware of how we eat, what we eat, how our bodies respond to our food. It can also help us to be more grateful for the food we have and the abundance of resources in our lives.
Bereavement is the state of being deprived of, or having lost, something precious to us. Grief is an internal reaction, or feeling, in response to that loss. Mourning is the outward expression of the feeling of grief. To mourn is to openly acknowledge and work through our feelings of grief. Actively mourning during the holiday season can be a way of helping us to cope with our grief. Particularly for the newly bereaved, openly acknowledging your grief and pain during the coming holiday season can help you make it through, and perhaps even help you find some comfort and joy. Some ways of doing this include finding ways to honor the memory of your loved one while being honest with yourself, your family, and friends about what you need during the holiday season. Spend some time thinking about your family’s traditions and practices during the holiday season and imagine what those will be like this year without your loved one. This exercise will be painful, but it will help you to decide what you may need to make it through, and what things may need to change, for the fast approaching holiday season.
During the days, weeks or months after someone very close to you dies, there will likely be special events that will certainly be very different without your loved one. Most families observe cultural and religious traditions on occasions such as holidays, weddings, graduations, anniversaries, reunions. Holidays and special events are reminders that life goes on around you. You may feel emotionally torn as you think of the ways holidays and celebrations have been traditionally observed in your family, and in your life with your loved one and how you are going to celebrate them now, without your loved one. You may feel anxious, sad, and empty and long to have your loved one a part of the special times that usually involve the whole family. You may wish you could celebrate the way you did before your loved one died. You may wish you could just skip right over these days on thecalendar. You may feel several things at once.
Please feel free to enjoy any of these guided meditations. The mindful meditation track is the same teaching as the article above Noticing Your Thoughts. More meditations and guided relaxation will be added soon.