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Psychiatric Hospital Stay 2001 Part One

My Journal

 

What a day! Checked in at 1:00 processed at 3:00. Next step is the questions, why so many questions. Telling your traumatic experiences to a stone faced woman waiting for her shift to end. Now a strip search and off to search my bag.

No CD player or wire bound journal someone may hurt themselves. Losing it, I’m screaming fuck you over and over till my lungs hurt.

No room was available, I stayed on the criminal ward. It was late when taken over to building, nothing looked different. The next morning was a surprise, one shower for entire group with no shower curtain, bathroom stalls with no locks. Talk about privacy.

Under suicide watch the first week, someone had to bring my meals. The same meal the entire week. I’m not allowed to close my door, it’s a prison not a Mental Hospital to help people move forward or past an episode.

I checked in for ECT, not meetings, making friends or being fucked with. The stories of ECT treatments going bad….everyone had something to add. One woman had 40 treatments, she was lying or very sick.

Planning to stay three weeks I brought 10 books to pass the time. I stay in my room three days waiting for an EKG. This is how extra money is made, it was a week before my first ECT treatment. A week waisted.

Melinda

to be continued……..

 

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Friday Quote

“Every day you’re alive and someone loves you is a miracle”

-Rita Mae Brown

 

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Triple Shot Thursday Celebrate Men of Motown

I love hearing the tunes of my youth, dancing around to Love Train. Get on your feet and let loose. I love to spin for you. Request line open 24/7. Have a great day.  Melinda

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How Would Jesus View Prosperity Gospel Preachers?

Jesse Duplantis recently asked his followers for money to purchase a new $54 million private jet, explaining that God wanted him to have it. He later backtracked on those comments, saying that he just wants his followers to “believe” for the jet, not necessarily pay for it. However, given that he’s still accepting money from followers (and since free jets don’t tend to appear out of thin air), we’re not so sure “believe” isn’t a codeword for “donate.”

Jesse Duplantis Ministries already owns three private jets. This would be the fourth. Why does he need another one? To better spread the gospel, of course. Oh, and in his words, regular commercial planes are known for carrying “demons.” Yikes.

But Duplantis is far from the only prosperity gospel preacher. He’s not even the first to wish for an airplane from his followers!

Traveling in Luxury

Back in 2015, the televangelist Creflo Dollar requested $60 million from his followers to buy a fancy jet. And Kenneth Copeland, another televangelist, just recently acquired his own plane – a Gulfstream V – paid for by donations from his flock. When pressed on the issue, these superstar pastors justify their lavish mode of travel by insisting they need private jets to effectively spread the word of God.

According to Copeland, the famous televangelist Oral Roberts suffered greatly on commercial flights: his spirit was “agitated” by other people on the plane who requested prayers. Apparently, such minor requests are too much for mega-pastors to handle. Better to get away from the needy masses – that’s what Jesus did, right?

Jesus Leading by Example

Er, not exactly. Consider what the Bible says about how Jesus treated people. In the book of Mark, right before Jesus feeds 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, it says:

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”

By examining another comparison, one gets the idea that Jesus would not approve of preachers traveling on private luxury jets. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday, he chose not to ride on a horse or a camel – symbols of wealth and status – but instead rode a lowly donkey, the animal of the masses.

Christian Compassion

There are many other instances in which Jesus talks about helping those who are less fortunate – the Parable of the Good Samaritan being perhaps the most well-known. In the discourse with a ruler recorded in Luke 18, Jesus tells him to “sell everything you have and give to the poor” to have eternal life.

Jesus did acknowledge that money was needed to support the Lord’s work, and also seemed to believe that it was right to pay taxes. In one parable, a man is praised for investing his resources to gain money. But in other scripture, believers are told to depend on God to meet essential family needs. We shouldn’t hoard our resources but invest in the lives of others.

Jesus may not ride a donkey today, but it’s debatable whether he would expect first-class travel accommodations to carry out his mission. The picture painted of Jesus in the Bible does not give the impression that he would expect to be lifted up and put ahead of others.

Prosperity for Whom?

So where does that leave so-called “prosperity gospel” preachers like Jesse Duplantis and Ken Copeland? Are they truly doing the Lord’s work by crowdfunding private jets and living in luxury? Or are they just putting on a “holy act” to squeeze money out of naïve followers?

If the prophecy of the Second Coming is fulfilled, one wonders what might happen to these prosperity preachers. When it’s their turn to be judged by God, will they ascend to heaven? Or will they be left behind with the other “heathens”?

At least they could still travel in style.
Read more at https://www.themonastery.org/blog/2018/06/how-would-jesus-view-prosperity-gospel-preachers/#7OJw8De7e9GbxBIh.99

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Through the child welfare kaleidoscope: A Therapist view

By Sheri Pickover and Heather Brown June 27, 2017

The amazing feature about kaleidoscopes is the endless, ever-changing scenes and complex patterns they reveal to anyone who takes the time to look. The gentlest of rotations invites a new and oftentimes completely different perspective on the same set of colorful shapes.

Working with children, adults and families involved in the child welfare system is not so different. A vast array of interplaying events, reactions, concerns and characteristics make up a mosaic of factors that drive a counselor’s assessments and interventions. Any counselor who has worked with one or 100 cases involved in foster care understands how complex and overwhelming it can be to help this population. However, in using the metaphor of looking through a kaleidoscope, we are reminded of how one gentle turn of our focus can change our perspective of the case at hand in a way that will continuously drive more attuned, meaningful interventions. Knowing that the myriad shapes exist before, during and after our treatment with these clients, we can more easily remain open both to seeing and making sense of our clients, the child welfare system and its players, as well as our own experiences of these cases.

Given that each turn of the kaleidoscope brings a new feature into view, we have some idea of the shapes that are there: neglect or abuse, histories of mental illness and substance abuse, court involvement, grief and loss, trauma and attachment. One element might stand out from the others at different times during treatment, but all are present in the kaleidoscope, and we should always acknowledge them throughout the course of treatment even when they don’t dominate our view.

In this article, which is based on our book Therapeutic Interventions for Families and Children in the Child Welfare System, we will provide an overview of six perspectives, or “turns of the kaleidoscope,” to take with these cases. These perspectives focus on specific considerations and guided structure to drive effective intervention and counter burnout when working with this population.

First turn of the kaleidoscope: Client worldview

When a client is involved in the child welfare system, instead of beginning treatment with assessment, start with a curiosity about the client’s worldview (whether that client is a child or an adult) and a desire to understand that worldview better. This process builds empathy for the client and reminds counselors to evaluate possible motivations for the presenting behavior concerns. What is it like to be a child in foster care? What is it like to have your child removed from your care? What it is like to care for a child you don’t know in your home?

Many factors influence the worldviews of children in foster care:

  • Exposure to traumatic events such as being removed from their homes and the abuse or neglect that prompted removal
  • Shame and guilt related to blaming themselves for the removal
  • Their attachment style with their family members
  • Grief from multiple losses (home, school, friends, neighborhood)
  • A sense of constant chaos and a fear of what will happen next that is beyond their control

Children in foster care wonder if they will ever be safe, and if a child has experienced frequent foster home place disruptions, this fear only intensifies.

Birthparents’ worldviews begin with the helplessness and hopelessness that humans feel at losing their children. Grief and loss are compounded by judgment from family, friends, court personnel, therapists and case managers. The reason for removal, such as ongoing substance abuse, their own history of trauma or attachment issues, possible mental illness, poverty or a lack of educational opportunities, is further complicated when their family enters the child welfare system. Often viewed as resistant or unwilling to accept responsibility for their actions, these birthparents often feel alone and angry and use their energy to defend themselves against the onslaught of judgment.

Ironically, foster parents’ worldviews may also begin with helplessness. Although they receive training and support, sometimes it is not enough to counteract the effects of caring for a child in their home who is angry, traumatized, grieving and filled with anxiety. In fact, the experience of foster parents can be similar to that of the child’s birthparents in that they are quickly judged and required to abdicate control in their home to the child welfare rules and a series of child welfare workers. Foster parents are also asked to love a child and then let that child go, so they struggle with attachment, grief and loss issues on a constant basis.

Second turn: Counselor worldview

As counselors, what we see in others is often influenced by our own family histories, personal values and clinical experiences. These issues rise up early in the child welfare system, where counselors are often novice professionals just starting out, and they are given clients with chronic treatment issues who have often seen myriad other professionals.

Meanwhile, the pressure from the systems and individuals involved is often overwhelming. Counselors often feel responsible to “fix the kid” or “fix the family,” and this pressure can lead to countertransference, ethical violations and burnout. These children and families often exist in chaos, and counselors can easily be pulled into that chaos by a system that expects miracles but provides minimal support. The child welfare kaleidoscope can become a series of fast-approaching shapes, constantly spinning with what appears to be little direction, or it can become stuck, making it difficult to move or view another shape.

Counselors must always be on guard against the creeping sense of helplessness and the compassion fatigue that can occur when working with this population. Counselors must also combat the countertransference that can force the kaleidoscope to become stuck on one shape or color. Seeking qualified supervision with professionals who are experienced with this population can make a world of difference. Making self-care practices a necessity rather than a commodity will help protect counselors against compassion fatigue.

When working with this population, counselors can be pulled toward feeling pity or overwhelming sympathy for these clients. On the other side of the coin, they can find themselves judging or feeling angry with these clients, either for how the adults behave toward their children or how the children seem ungrateful toward the adults. These are all ineffective responses, both for the counselors and for their clients.

Using the metaphor of a bridge, remember that to stand in empathy is to stand on the rickety, scary bridge over raging waters to allow ourselves to feel what our clients feel. Either side of the bridge — pity or judgment — feels “safer,” but they both lead to ineffective therapy and further harm to the client. Closely evaluating your own personal values before beginning this work and knowing the child welfare laws in your state will provide necessary support to curate an empathic, realistic perspective on your cases.

Working with children in foster care also can be a minefield of ethical issues. Confidentiality can be complicated depending on the referral source and the child’s legal status. For example, the birthparent of a temporary ward of the court still possesses legal rights and must be consulted over treatment issues. At the same time, the child is placed in foster care, and foster parents need to be made aware of important issues that might impact the child in their home. The court might subpoena therapy files, and caseworkers also require treatment updates and recommendations. Each of these possible breaches is relevant to informed consent with this population.

The issue of mandated reporting can also become a prominent part of treatment. Children may disclose abuse in the birth home, foster home or both. Managing the ongoing relationships with birthparents and foster parents when required to report suspected abuse or neglect requires counselors to be honest, forthright and empathetic at all times.

Finally, facing clients with complicated trauma, grief and attachment histories can become demoralizing for counselors because they rarely see the type of progress that allows for professional satisfaction. The potential for experiencing vicarious or secondary trauma responses is also high. Counselors working with this population should engage emotional support from peers, supervisors and even their own counseling. These actions can help heal emotional wounds, keep the work in perspective and prevent the type of burnout that ends up hurting rather than helping clients and counselors alike.

Third turn: Assessment

Assessments with clients involved in child welfare must be understood as living documents of sorts. After all, anything captured at one particular time can be expected to shift because of the unstable nature of so much that influences the client’s life in profound ways. Counselors should obtain ongoing strategic updates on the child’s behavior, emotional status and the status of the relationship with the birthparent, then adjust goals accordingly. For example, try to find out when a placement transition or court-ordered change in permanency status takes place, when the client experiences an additional loss or traumatic exposure, or when the client newly acknowledges a past traumatic exposure.

Counter to the tendency of many counselors to see the concerns of each case first, this population greatly benefits from intentionally identifying their strengths during the assessment process. Children and adults who are involved in the child welfare system often possess amazing resilience, creative coping skills, abundant humor, deep love and extraordinary courage.

Beyond just accounting for strengths, effective assessment looks around the kaleidoscope, gaining information on all aspects of clients’ lives, not just the current presenting problem. Clients in the child welfare system often get viewed through one shape in the kaleidoscope — their behavior. As a result, trauma, grief and attachment concerns often get lost in the desire to stop the current behavior and the pressure felt to “fix the child” or “fix the parent.”

Assessment of the child begins by listening and watching: listening to a child’s stories, listening to the reports of both the foster parents and the birthparents, and watching how the child plays and interacts with you, other siblings and adults. Attachment style will be evident by whether the child seems angry or withdrawn from adults, or whether the child clings and appears fearful. The child’s response to trauma will be evident through sleeping patterns, the way the child eats and the level of fearfulness the child exhibits at home and at school. Educational information and potential medical concerns also may be highly relevant to interventions.

In addition, the amount and type of losses the child has endured and the child’s grieving process matter greatly. Taking session time to normalize the child’s reaction to removal from the home and any subsequent placements can have a significant impact on the child’s adjustment efforts. Finally, after examining and prioritizing behavior problems and building an understanding of what is driving them, work with the families to create a realistic and achievable plan that focuses on one or two concerns at a time. Using this approach, the counselor can keep the many parts of the client’s kaleidoscope in mind while knowing that trying to work on everything at once would be ineffective.

One common challenge in working with this population is the tendency to turn therapy into nonstop crisis intervention sessions, responding to the complaints of foster parents or case managers rather than holding steady to the set treatment plan. Although crisis management is necessary at times, learn to determine what is truly a crisis (e.g., suicidal ideations, homicidal ideations, an immediate risk of removal) and what qualifies as an ongoing complaint (e.g., trouble in school, acting out in the foster home). Holding focus on just two or three shapes at a time prevents therapy from turning into a nonstop process of confronting the child.

Fourth turn: Treatment

Beginning treatment for any primary concerns with this population must focus on giving the child and family space to feel safe and comfortable. For example, get on the child’s eye level, allow the child to move freely throughout the room, and be clear and open about what therapy is and is not. Because treatment is often specific to the needs of the child, be sure to research and seek training in specific interventions related to trauma, attachment, grief and loss, or behavior issues. The following brief case studies illustrate an intervention for each treatment issue listed above.

Trauma: A 15-year-old girl came into care for the second time in her life because of allegations of sexual abuse by multiple family members. She barely was eating or sleeping and kept her body and hair covered with multiple layers of clothing at all times. The counselor took time to connect with her in simple ways that she could handle — drawing, listening to a song she liked, smelling a favorite hand lotion, updating her on the status of her many siblings and naming how much had changed since she had come into care and how normal it would be to feel overwhelmed. Creating this routine of predictable, soothing interactions built a sense of psychological safety in the therapy space. From there, the counselor helped her learn how to lower her arousal enough to open up about her inner world. This allowed her to begin the long and life-changing intensive trauma treatment process that had previously been inaccessible to her.

Attachment: The counselor used a metal Slinky as a transitional object with a 7-year-old boy who refused to enter the counseling room. The counselor brought out the Slinky, and the boy played with it as he ran around the waiting room, not responding to verbal prompts or directions. When he stopped, he and the counselor would go and walk the Slinky up and down the stairs. After three sessions, the counselor stated that to play with the Slinky, the boy had to enter the counseling room. He was able to enter for a short time in the first week and stayed for the entire session from that point forward.

Grief and loss: An 11-year-old girl had witnessed her mother die of breast cancer in her home. The child had limited verbal skills and would draw pictures of herself jumping rope with her mother in the sky. Using her art, the counselor encouraged her to draw herself as she currently felt. She drew herself crying with her mother in the sky. As treatment progressed, she could draw herself smiling as she jumped rope, and this action was identified as showing her mother that she was coping. The counselor arranged to have the pictures sent to her mother in a balloon so that her mother could see she was starting to cope.

Behavior modification: A 10-year-old boy acted out constantly and did not respond to normal punishment. The counselor created a “caught being good” plan. The child received a star for every positive behavior and a check for every unwanted behavior. To earn his reinforcing reward — an allowance — he had to be good only one more time than he was bad. The counselor encouraged the foster parent to set the child up to win the reward, so he gained stars for stopping in the middle of acting out or for flushing the toilet. He received lots of verbal praise for the stars and no verbal response for the checks.

Fifth turn: Engaging adults

Perhaps the greatest challenge for counselors working with children in foster care is finding a way to also work with the myriad adults involved in the system. These adults include birthparents and any involved relatives, foster parents, caseworkers, casework supervisors, attorneys, educators and medical professionals, to name a few.

It’s easy to become stuck in silo thinking, focusing only on the therapeutic process in your sessions and becoming frustrated when others do not support or engage in the treatment. During this turn of the kaleidoscope, counselors can remember to picture the colors and shapes of all the other involved adults, including these adults’ own histories of trauma and their own feelings of helplessness and frustration. This will help counselors keep empathy at the forefront of all interactions, thereby avoiding blame and patterns of disempowering, ineffective interactions.

Reframe engagement as something the counselor is responsible for rather than it being the responsibility of the other adults in the child’s life. In other words, counselors need to take on the mindset that it’s our job to work with them, not their job to work with us. That way, if they don’t engage or respond to our efforts, it becomes our responsibility to try different engagement interventions. Trying different approaches might engage an adult who otherwise would not work with the counselor.

For example, focus on asking birthparents and foster parents for help with treatment. Identify the birthparent as the expert on her or his child. Even if you do not use the advice or data the parent gives you, the act of asking is often enough to engage the parent.

Another engagement technique involves remembering to praise something about the child and attribute the behavior to the parent. For example, “Your child has such good manners. It’s clear you spent time teaching him.”

Finally, remember to validate foster parents and birthparents whenever possible: “I wonder if you feel judged and belittled by having all these other adults tell you how to raise your child” or “People expect you to just deal with serious problems and don’t listen to your expertise.”

If collaboration with other professionals proves difficult, remember to empathize with their frustration over the many cases they have and the stress of their workload. Attempt to find compromises, such as shifting your schedule or using encrypted email to keep information flowing. Collaboration helps children in foster care in many ways. For example, it keeps these children from having to repeat stories over and over again. It also guards against having their needs fall through the cracks because everyone assumes that someone else is getting a task accomplished. Collaboration also sends a message to these children that they matter and that the adults in charge of their lives are making decisions together.

Final turn: Self-care

We already touched on this topic under the “counselor’s worldview,” but it bears repeating. Self-care cannot be viewed as a luxury when working with this population. It is a necessary set of supports and adaptive coping skills. Self-care is subjective, not prescriptive, so it should involve whatever works for the counselor.

At bare minimum, counselors should seek peer and professional supervision with others who have experience working within child welfare so that counselors can both vent and get validated. Remember that by nature, these cases are heavy with deep psychological wounding that will bring out countertransference one way or another. Building awareness and tending to your own reactions rather than trying to fight or minimize them will only make you a better counselor and person.

Professional development support, training and consultation around specific troubling cases or treatment concerns, such as sexual abuse reenactment, severe posttraumatic stress disorder or deep attachment insecurities, can make a significant difference in supporting feelings of competency and utilizing best practices for the challenges these cases will present. Give yourself permission to notice any signs of depression, anxiety, grief and secondary or vicarious trauma in yourself, and then seek professional support.

It’s also important and helpful to remember that working with clients with complicated trauma and attachment histories can become disheartening because the counselor rarely sees the type of progress that allows for professional satisfaction. Find ways to keep the work in perspective and balance work-life demands. Take time to seek joy and pleasure in life to prevent the type of burnout that ends up hurting rather than helping clients.

Sheri Pickover, a licensed professional counselor, is an associate professor and director of the counseling clinic in the University of Detroit Mercy’s counseling program. She has been a counselor educator for 13 years and worked in the child welfare system for 20 years as a therapist, case manager, foster home licenser and clinical supervisor. She currently teaches courses in trauma, human development, assessment and practicum. Contact her at pickovsa@udmercy.edu or childwelfaretherapy.net.

Heather Brown is a licensed professional counselor and art therapist in private practice in Detroit. She has more than 15 years of experience working with youth (both in and adopted out of the child welfare system), parents and professionals as a program developer, therapist, trainer and supervisor. Contact her at BrownCounselingLLC@gmail.com or BrownCounseling.com.

Letters to the editor: ct@counseling.org

Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.

The River in My Soul is a freeform poem that explores love lost and a hope for reunion in the next life.

via The River In My Soul — Return of Dragons

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Friday Quote

I’ve learned that if you want to have loving feelings, do loving things.

Anne Lamont

 

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About Me

I am a Survivor

After years of therapy and my grandparents love, I was pulled from the abyss. I have a clear heart, no anger or self loathing. Not forgiving….forgetting, allowing me to move forward. Over the years, people brought sunshine into my life. I can’t thank them enough. You were like Angels dropping in when I needed a push or pat on back.

My mother and stepfather physically and emotionally abused me until 12 years old. My stepfather beat my mother almost daily starting with hitting her head side to side down the hallway, the hallway ended at my room. Everyone in the house lived in hell, I got an extra dose

As a small girl, I dreamed my father would save me. The dream was over when he started sexually abusing me as a child. It was innocent at first or so it seemed. At 12 years old I moved to my father’s. It’s impossible to wrap your head around sexual abuse at any age.

In 1992 my father committed suicide. Estranged since my teens, we talked several times before his death. He called delusional and paranoid. Saying someone was tapping his phone. He told me about suicide, I told no one. My Granny was devastated, her only child was dead. We had a closed casket service. It’s hard to reconcile death when you can’t see them.

I battle with Treatment Resistant Bipolar Disorder. Diagnosed at 19 years old, I struggled for years without medication or over medicated. Thru the years I ‘ve taken over 40 or prescriptions cocktails. Some medications worked for a while, then I had to try another mix. Bipolar Disorder is a Mental Illness without a cure. I manage my illness everyday and each day is different. Through advances in medicine, future generations may not struggle with  Mental Illness. We can pay it forward by participating in questionnaires, clinical trials and talking about our illness. Educating others is the road to Breaking The Stigma.

I am alive with the help of God, Husband, Grandparents, Therapist and Psychiatrist. I’m blessed with a husband who won’t give up no matter how hard it gets.

My background and Mental Illness is NOT a complete picture of who I am. Photography, Art and Music are my passions. I love vintage cars, riding motorcycles and the great outdoors. As a teenager I set a  goal to see the world. My Bucket List continues to grow.

I’m an animal lover. I’m sickened by animals being abused and killed testing dog food or facial cream. I’m concerned about extinction, global poverty and the planet. Above all Education, children are our future.

Thank you for pulling up a chair to read about me. I hope to see you again soon.

Xx  Melinda

I enjoy hearing from you, comments are always welcome!

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Triple Shot Thursday *More Favs*

 

I hope you enjoy a few more of my 80″s favorites. Have a great day. I would love to hear your comments!  M

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Youth Suicide-Related Hospitaliztions Has Nearly Doubled

By Bethany Bray May 31, 2018

Recent research has revealed an alarming development: The number of youth admitted to the hospital for a suicide attempt or suicidal ideation nearly doubled between 2008 and 2015.

The findings, published in the May 2018 issue of the journal Pediatrics, analyzed seven years of billing data for emergency room and inpatient visits at children’s hospitals in the United States.

In 2008, the number of hospital visits for suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts in children and adolescents younger than 18 was 0.66 percent of total hospital visits. In 2015, that percentage nearly doubled to 1.82 percent.

The co-authors of the journal article note that “significant increases” were seen across all age groups, but the highest rise was seen in adolescents, specifically the 15 to 17 and 12 to 14 years-old groupings. The data also pointed to a seasonal curve, with the fewest suicide-related visits in the summer and the most in the spring and fall.

“These findings are deeply troubling and also not surprising,” says Catherine Tucker, president of the Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling, a division of the American Counseling Association.

Tucker points to several factors that were in play during the time of the Pediatrics study (2008 to 2015), including an economic collapse that contributed to stress in families — even forcing some in younger generations to change career or college plans.

Also, “during this same time period, many states drastically cut funding to schools and youth-serving programs,” adds Tucker, a licensed mental health counselor and research director at The Theraplay Institute in Evanston, Illinois. “It is highly likely that the positive resources that were keeping some youth from hitting bottom were removed, making it harder for adults to intervene in a timely manner.”

Changing these statistics will take effort on the part of parents, schools, medical and mental health practitioners alike, says Tucker. Universal screening for anxiety, depression and trauma should be done in schools and doctor’s offices to identify youth who are struggling.

“In order to reverse this trend, schools need to bolster school counseling programs and free school counselors from spending the majority of their time on administrative tasks like testing and scheduling. School counselors see a majority of American children and are in a prime position to do preventive education and identify kids who are struggling before they become so distraught that hospitalization is required,” Tucker says.

“Additionally, parents and caregivers should be encouraged to monitor children’s and teens screen time and limit it to be sure that youth are getting adequate sleep, exercise and in-person interaction,” she continues. “Social media should be carefully monitored in younger children. Parents can reduce late-night use of phones by turning off WiFi after bedtime or not allowing phones or other screens in bedrooms. Counselors in agencies and private practice settings can help by encouraging parents to be alert to behavioral changes, monitoring screen time and helping kids manage their symptoms.”

 

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Why do men have so many eating disorders?

MEN”S HEALTH

Chris Marvin had a secret morning ritual that he practiced in college. Sunlight creeping through drawn shades, he’d roll out of bed around 7 a.m. with a pounding head. After making sure his door was locked, he’d rummage through drawers and the depths of his mini fridge. Then, on a white marble desk that would have been pristine if not for the Thrasher and Mayhem stickers, he’d line up everything he needed to get through the day.

First, he’d pop a caffeine pill to feel alive; then he’d chase it with a couple of painkillers — a preemptive strike against the grind of training two hours a day, seven days a week. (“There is no rest muscle,” he’d tell himself.) A hit from his bong would help calm his racing heart. Instead of water, he’d pour a glass of whiskey to wash down his pre-workout supplements. Then he’d inject himself in either his glutes or deltoids with black market anabolic steroids. After putting his supplies back in their hiding places, he’d ride his bike a half mile from the off-campus house he shared with frat brothers to Sonoma State University in Northern California, where he studied exercise science.

“A kinesiology major doing all that shit? I was a walking oxymoron,” says Marvin, now 32. Nothing could keep him out of the gym, not even injuries that would eventually require surgery. “I’d have my training partner hold my shoulder in its socket so I could do heavy preacher curls. In my mind, I was indestructible.”

By the time he was 25 and working odd jobs back home in San Diego, Marvin weighed 210 pounds, and his back rippled like the Hulk’s. When he eventually cycled off the steroids and ramped up his use of synthetic marijuana, ecstasy, sleeping pills, and Valium — on top of the booze and painkillers — he dropped down to 141 and fell into a deep depression. After one wild bender, he spent more than a week locked down in a psych ward.

“I had done so many drugs that I didn’t sleep for eight days coming down off them,” he says. “From there, I went to a cognitive behavioral therapy program, and that’s where they pointed out that I had muscle dysmorphia. I’d never heard of it before. I was like, ‘What the fuck is that?'”

If you look closely, you might see a bit of yourself in Marvin. From a young age, men are taught to be bigger, stronger, and faster, and to fight through pain. Anger? Self-loathing? Anxiety? Who needs a therapist when you have the gym? And who among us hasn’t tried to fix our inward insecurities by addressing our outward appearance?

ROBERT MAXWELL/MEN’S HEALTH

 

Unlike Marvin, you probably don’t have a mental disorder, much less a substance abuse problem that you developed to cope with it. Muscle dysmorphia, or MD, is a little-known psychological condition first described in scientific literature in the late 1990s. Because formal diagnostic criteria define MD as a subset of a broader group, body dysmorphic disorder, it’s impossible to know how many people are affected.

But the current diagnostic parameters, such as they are, can apply to millions of people who just aren’t satisfied with their physique. Those who suffer from so-called “bigorexia” obsess over their appearance, perceiving themselves to be insufficiently muscular even though they are indeed muscular, if not ripped. “People would give me compliments,” Marvin says, “but in my head I was like, ‘This part sucks.’ I was super insecure even though I looked better than most people. I would almost give myself dry heaves thinking about my body.”

“From a young age, men are taught to be bigger, stronger, and faster, and to fight through pain.”

The difference between someone with muscle dysmorphia and a regular fit guy is one of degree. Early research in the American Journal of Psychiatry reveals that a typical bodybuilder spends about 40 minutes a day thinking about improving his physique. Those with muscle dysmorphia spend about 325 minutes and check themselves out in a mirror an average of 9.2 times a day. The condition usually takes root in late adolescence or early adulthood, and most guys who exhibit hallmarks of MD have been bullied or shamed about their strength or appearance.

Marvin’s case was textbook. In high school, he was 5’11” and weighed around 150. Uncoordinated and nonathletic, he warmed the bench for the basketball team and became the butt of jokes in the weight room. “They laughed at me for being the weakest guy there,” he says. “I was a lot smaller than everybody. I was picked on a lot.”

Research shows that boys as young as 6 express a desire to be muscular, and that men are more likely to pursue such a physique if they were either teased or received encouragement to do so from parents or peers. And beyond their inner circle, men face constant pressure to look a certain way.

We see it in movies: Mark Wahlberg isn’t the world’s highest-paid actor because of his Boston accent. We see it on TV: Fat guys like Kevin James always play the fool. We see it in advertising: Quick, what’s an underwear model look like? We see it in magazines: Even at Men’s Health, we sell it on our covers. We see it in dating apps: How are you framing your Tinder profile? We see it in social media: The Rock has 100 million Instagram followers. We see it in video games: Research shows that men have lower self-esteem about their bodies after using very muscular avatars. We see it in toys: In the late 1990s, G.I. Joe Extreme action figures were pumped up to have the real-life equivalent of a 55-inch chest and 27-inch biceps.

“When we see images of muscular bodies, which we are bombarded with, we become less satisfied with our own,” says Stuart Murray, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at UC San Francisco. “The established norm is unrealistic in a lot of ways. A lot of the idealized images we see are Photoshopped and by definition impossible to replicate. And models often do extreme dieting for a photo shoot.”

A few months before Marvin started at Sonoma State in 2008, he had a vision not so much of who he wanted to be but of what he wanted to become. “I had these fantasies like all guys have. I wanted to be big, buff, ride a motorcycle, get chicks, be athletic,” he says. “I was none of those things.” So he started working out, but didn’t know what to do in the gym or how long getting buff was supposed to take. A few months in, he bought steroids from an acquaintance and learned how to inject them from a classmate’s mom, a nurse who gave him syringes that she took from her hospital.

“I was 21 and a half. My testosterone was as high as it was ever going to be. I decided it wasn’t good enough,” he says. “I wanted that quick fix. And, of course, I put on 30 pounds and was like, ‘Holy shit, this is awesome.’ The feelings of power and confidence were pretty incredible. The drugs allowed me to be what I wasn’t. I felt smarter, I felt more confident, I felt sexier. I felt at ease.”

But the steroids didn’t address the underlying pathology of muscle dysmorphia, which led Marvin to focus obsessively on his perceived flaws. “I wouldn’t take my damn shirt off because I was so embarrassed about my chest,” he says. “Instead of being like, ‘Dude, check it out, my arms are growing, my legs are growing, my back is growing,’ I would zero in on my chest and be like, ‘Oh my god, I’m pathetic.’ I only focused on my inadequacies.”

“I contemplated driving my car off the road every day for about two years.”

Marvin checked off almost every box for symptoms and associated behaviors of muscle dysmorphia. Mood swings? “If you cut me off in traffic, I’d get angry because I assumed you did it on purpose.” Depression and anxiety? He lived in a state of “general discomfort just below panic,” especially around muscular guys. OCD tendencies? “I’d do a flex routine in the mirror every day and focus on my weaknesses.” Impaired social functioning? “I was incapable of being around people without at least being stoned on marijuana. I needed that buffer to feel okay about myself.” Some of his symptoms were associated complications of MD: Substance abuse? “At the inpatient program, they told me I was the most advanced drug user they’d ever met.” Suicidal thoughts? After a bad breakup, he says, “I contemplated driving my car off the road every day for about two years.”

When he stopped taking steroids in 2013, he faced a new problem: His body no longer produced testosterone naturally, a condition known as anabolic steroid-induced hypogonadism, or ASIH. He now uses a prescribed androgen cream every morning, rotating between sites on his forearms and upper torso. (His girlfriend can’t touch the active site for hours to protect her hormonal balance. Even a hug could do harm.) Because of the damage to ligaments and tendons from his insane workout regimen and steroid use, he wakes up to aches and pains in just about every joint.

“I fucked my body up for the rest of my life,” he laments. “Part of my therapy was realizing that my outsides do not define my insides. I would assign my morality based on how my body looked, how my workouts went, and what I ate that day.”

Eating disorders are another hallmark of muscle dysmorphia. Bulking up requires a high-calorie diet, but even with anabolic steroids, it’s extremely difficult for an experienced, genetically maxed-out lifter to do a “clean” bulk — a term for building muscle without also adding fat. The quest to get bigger while staying shredded leads to bizarre diet choices, with grossly inadequate levels of vitamins and minerals.

“Guys can look amazingly healthy, like Greek statues, and yet they’re very compromised medically,” says Murray, who is also codirector of the National Association for Males with Eating Disorders. “You can end up with a dangerously low heart rate and electrolyte imbalances.”

Clinicians identify three main types of disordered eating. Anorexia is calorie restriction; bulimia is purging calories by regurgitating food, using laxatives or diuretics, or exercising to cancel out intake (or a combo of these); and binge eating is losing control, eating when not hungry, or consuming excessive amounts at one time.

Though eating disorders and muscle dysmorphia are listed separately in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, current research views them as a constellation of related behaviors. Both are the direct result of over-evaluating an idealized body type, which fuels either a drive for leanness, a drive for muscle mass, or both. These body image disturbances can give rise to disordered eating behaviors — an issue rarely talked about in the lives of men.

“There’s a double stigma in males,” says psychiatrist Brad Smith, M.D., medical director of eating disorder services at Rogers Behavioral Health, a treatment facility with branches nationwide. “There’s the stigma of having a psychological or psychiatric issue. It’s hard to get men to seek treatment even for depression. On top of that, this is typically characterized as a women’s illness.”

 

“Society has trained us that we are strong, masculine figures who don’t really think about that kind of thing,” says Dan Stein, 35, a strong, masculine figure who nearly died from that kind of thing.

Two weeks before he left home for the University of Minnesota in 2001, Stein weighed 215 pounds, thanks to years of McDonald’s runs, sugary sodas, and junk food. “My parents called me husky,” he says. “Dad bod, that’s probably the most accurate description of where I was at.” Determined to get in shape, he began running 6 miles a day, five days a week, and occasionally lifted weights in the school’s gym. By the time he returned home for winter break, he was down to 185 and, he says, “everyone told me how great I looked. It was an ego boost.” By the end of his second semester he weighed 165. “I did the freshman minus-50. But I was skinny-fat. I didn’t have muscles or much definition.”

“Society has trained us that we are strong, masculine figures who don’t really think about that kind of thing.

A turning point came early in his sophomore year. Shirtless, Stein was throwing a football around with some friends on a grassy field near his apartment. Members of the school’s football team, also shirtless, happened to pass through. “Some very attractive girls went over and started talking to them,” Stein says. “In my head I was like, ‘I’ve been working out like crazy. What can I possibly do to look like these guys and get that attention?'”

 Stein thought the problem must be his diet. He wasn’t getting shredded, he figured, because he was eating too much. In truth, he was eating too little to gain muscle. Misguided about how the body works, Stein’s diet became so restrictive that breakfast was a handful of Special K Protein or Honey Bunches of Oats. For lunch, he’d eat a small can of tuna and half a cantaloupe. Dinner was a bag of microwave popcorn or a protein bar. All the while, he was running up to 50 miles a week and lifting weights three times a day for 90 minutes a session. He’d often wake up at 2 a.m., do 45 minutes on the stair climbing machine in his building, and then go back to sleep. He was consuming some 1,000 calories a day and burning around 4,000, and says he “started getting weaker in the gym.”

 

Stein skipped so many classes to hit the gym that he failed out of school. He moved back in with his parents in Wisconsin and began waiting tables at a local steakhouse. Each night, he brought home the same dinner — pasta with marinara — and locked himself in his room so no one could see him swallow the marinara sauce and spit the noodles into the trash. He allowed himself just one real meal a year, Thanksgiving dinner, but only after running a solo half marathon in the morning. His exercise was so compulsive that he once ran in minus-10-degree weather. He was so obsessed with his body shape that he’d spend up to 15 minutes agonizing over which bottle of diet soda to drink: one that had five calories, or another that had 10.

“I was one of those ignorant people who thought the only way you burn calories is by working out,” he recalls. “I didn’t know that eating food is burning calories. That breathing, every function of our body, burns calories.”

At his lightest, the 5’10” Stein weighed just 132 pounds. He had sunken eyes, emaciated cheeks, and cold fingers and toes. The summer before his senior year of college (he eventually got his grades up at a technical school and finished at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), he visited his older brother in Georgia. Though it was 90 degrees out, Stein wore a t-shirt, sweatshirt, and two pairs of sweatpants. His fingernails were blue, his lips purple. On the way to lunch, he asked his brother’s fiancee to turn the heat up in the car. “She looked at me like I was insane,” stein says. “My hands were ice cold. I started to think I had something physically wrong with me. Did I have cancer?”

A doctor back in Wisconsin told him he had 20 signs of starvation. “That’s when I had the realization I was anorexic,” he says. “My family always knew I had an issue, but they skirted around it, and I just pushed it aside. My body was in decay, and it really hit home that if I didn’t change something soon, this could kill me.”

5 Things You Can Do in 5 Minutes or Less to Make 2018 Your Healthiest Year Yet

“We need to educate people on what to look for and how to speak to our children,” says psychotherapist Andrew Walen, L.C.S.W.-C, founder of the Body image Therapy Center in Maryland and president of the National Association for Males with Eating Disorders. “It’s not about beauty. It’s about what makes you special — your humanity, your empathy, your kindness. These are the messages we need to give our young men, rather than ‘Are you the best? Are you the strongest? Are you the fittest?’ We’ve got to tell them that their body is their home. It’s not their billboard.”

Multiple eating disorders can overlap in people, and men with muscle dysmorphia often cycle through behavioral symptoms of all three; even a cheat meal can be considered binge eating if it causes mental distress. Early warning signs that your body might be compromised include dehydration, a slower heart rate, low blood pressure, and reduced body temperature. Compounding the problem: Doctors don’t always know what to look for in men.

Case in point: Walen recalls being approached by the parents of a 14-year-old boy who had lost more than 20 percent of his body weight in three months. He had become fixated on running, biking, and lifting weights, and he’d also become emotionally disconnected. “This is a classic case of a young adolescent male with an eating disorder,” Walen told the parents. “Let’s get labs to make sure he’s not medically compromised.” But the teen’s primary-care doctor didn’t believe it. He patted his patient on the belly and said, “He looks fine. I wish I had abs like that.” When the blood work came back, it showed failing kidneys and compromised liver enzymes.

Walen, 45, might understand male eating disorders better than anyone. He was a patient before becoming a therapist. In 1997, an MRI revealed that compulsive running had reduced his left hip socket to bone-on-bone. Afraid he’d need a hip-replacement surgery before age 30, he began lifting weights. If he couldn’t be as thin as he wanted to be, he figured he’d make himself as muscular as possible. He lifted so obsessively that he tore his rotator cuffs and labra in both shoulders. “That is absolutely a male experience of eating disorders, muscle dysmorphia, and body-image disturbance,” he says.

Hoping to find support, Walen attended a conference on eating disorders, but he felt out of place when he realized the other men in the room were fathers of young girls with eating issues. The only book that connected with him, Making Weight, focused on anorexia — wrestlers, boxers, MMA fighters, distance runners, and gymnasts are especially at risk — and didn’t address the spectrum of his experiences, particularly binge eating and compulsive lifting. So, in 2014, he wrote and self-published Man Up to Eating Disorders, to “normalize the experience and create a tribe of recovery.”

It’s vital work. By the time a man admits he has a problem and gets past his reluctance to seek help, the damage is often perilously advanced. One study found that between 1999 and 2009, the number of men requiring hospitalization for an eating disorder increased 53 percent, more than double the increase in women. “There’s a mistaken belief that this is rare and that men who suffer from these are atypical, emasculated, or weird,” Murray says. “We have to shift that gym culture.”

 Dan Stein calls it a “fascinating miracle” that he didn’t die or suffer long-term complications from his battle with anorexia, which lasted nearly five years. His recovery included a few sessions with a therapist but was largely a self-guided education. “I learned as much as I could about the human body,” he says. “How it survives, how it works, fitness, nutrition, health — literally everything I could get my hands on.”

Stein now lives just outside Los Angeles and works for a social media company a few blocks from Muscle Beach. Five days a week, for no more than 75 minutes, he pumps iron at the original Gold’s Gym. “I’m surrounded by some of the most fit, attractive human beings on the planet,” he says. “There are moments where you think, ‘Good god, I wish I looked like that guy.’ But I push those thoughts out and they don’t derail me.”
He limits his cardio to 30 minutes a week, he says, “because I don’t want to lose weight anymore, and I associate cardio with losing weight.”

He maintains his 180 pounds and 9 percent body fat by eating six meals day, including lean protein (chicken, egg whites, fish), complex carbs (sweet potatoes, quinoa, whole wheat pasta), fruit (blueberries, apples), vegetables (asparagus, broccoli), and healthy fats (coco nut oil, almond butter, olive oil). He even has an occasional slice of cheesecake.

“I thought I was genetically dealt a bad hand,” he says of his old mindset. “When I started to understand that my body doesn’t act different from 99 percent of the public, I realized it wasn’t physical; it was mental. I know now that I bring so much more to the table than just how I look.”

Chris Marvin has experienced a similar transformation. The man who once popped 68 Percocets in less than 72 hours now attends 12-step fellowships at least three times a week. “My brain got me in the mess I was in, so I shouldn’t be trying to figure this stuff out alone,” he says. “I air stuff out.”

Marvin has been clean and sober since completing an intensive, three-month behavioral modification program five years ago. His new morning routine includes drinking a cup of coffee and saying a prayer that he wrote after finishing the program. It includes this line: “Relieve me of my fear and insecurity, and replace it with self-love and acceptance.”

Marvin named his personal-training business One Rep at a Time — a nod to overcoming addiction one day at time and to building genuine muscle over months and years. Some of his clients are also in recovery, and Marvin shares his struggles with them openly. “I feel like I’ve finally found my calling,” he says.

To put himself in the right mindset in the gym, Marvin listens to epic, intense battle music that “makes me feel like I’m saving the world.” He doesn’t swear at himself anymore, and he’ll frequently reset his body and mental focus with deep-breathing exercises. “I used to think that everybody who was a workout junkie would give themselves high blood pressure from being so angry,” he says. “My old workouts were a way to punish myself. I do this now as a way to improve myself.”

But Marvin knows what lurks in the background, waiting for a chance to consume his life once again. Every time he posts a shirtless photo on Instagram — a tried-and-true marketing strategy for personal trainers, but a risky one for someone recovering from muscle dysmorphia — he worries about triggering old insecurities or introducing new ones to his clients and followers. “My recovery is fluid,” he says. “It will always be a balancing act.”

 Do you have an eating disorder?

 

Consider these statements from a 50-question eating disorder assessment designed specifically for men. Choose one of six responses — never, rarely, sometimes, often, usually, or always — as it applies to the following statements. Answering “always” to these and other statements suggests you may have a problem.

With additional reporting by Joshua St. Clair and Micaela Young. A version of this article was published in the May 2018 issue of Men’s Health Magazine.

If you suspect that you struggle with an eating disorder, please seek professional help immediately or call the National Eating Disorders Association support line at 1 (800) 931-2237.

 

Definition of a “REAL MAN” is changing for the better

Happy Pride Month from Joyful Heart

Last week, Joyful Heart released our latest research report, “Defining Manhood for the Next Generation: Exploring Young Men’s Perceptions of Gender Roles and Violence.”

Funded by the Verizon Foundation and conducted by GfK Custom Research, the research examines young men and boys’ perceptions of norms around masculinity, gender equality, and sexual violence and the male role models who influence those views. The report is now available on our website; I hope you will read it and share it.

The good news is young men surveyed in the study unanimously agree that “real men” treat women with respect. However, many young men agree with outdated and dangerous societal norms—and far too many of them refuse to push back against these norms. Changing these views about gender, gender roles, sex, and sexual assault present our biggest challenge to catalyzing a cultural shift.

Men and boys play a critical role in the movement to end sexual and domestic violence. While deep cultural change cannot happen overnight, it cannot happen at all until young men stand against outdated, sexist beliefs about gender and violence. Over the next few months, Joyful Heart will use these findings to create educational materials promoting aspirational, authentic, and intersectional views of healthy masculinity.

Best regards,

Sarah Haacke Byrd
Managing Director
Joyful Heart Foundation
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Why kids and teens may face more anxiety far more these days

 

affair apple girl iphone

Photo by JÉSHOOTS on Pexels.com

May 10

When it comes to treating anxiety in children and teens, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are the bane of therapists’ work.

“With (social media), it’s all about the self-image — who’s ‘liking’ them, who’s watching them, who clicked on their picture,” said Marco Grados, associate professor of psychiatry and clinical director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “Everything can turn into something negative … [K]ids are exposed to that day after day, and it’s not good for them.”

Anxiety, not depression, is the leading mental health issue among American youths, and clinicians and research both suggest it is rising. The latest study was published in April in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Based on data collected from the National Survey of Children’s Health for ages 6 to 17, researchers found a 20 percent increase in diagnoses of anxiety between 2007 and 2012. (The rate of depression over that same time period ticked up 0.2 percent.)

Philip Kendall, director of the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Temple University and a practicing psychologist, was not surprised by the results and applauded the study for its “big picture” approach.

The data on anxiety among 18- and 19-year-olds is even starker. Since 1985, the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA has been asking incoming college freshmen if they “felt overwhelmed” by all they had to do. The first year, 18 percent replied yes. By 2000, that climbed to 28 percent. By 2016, to nearly 41 percent.

The same pattern is clear when comparing modern-day teens to those of their grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ era. One of the oldest surveys in assessing personality traits and psychopathology is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which dates to the Great Depression and remains in use today. When Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, looked at the MMPI responses from more than 77,500 high school and college students over the decades, she found that five times as many students in 2007 “surpassed thresholds” in more than one mental health category than they did in 1938. Anxiety and depression were six times more common.

Those responding yes were asked to describe the level of both anxiety and depression in their children: 10.7 percent said their child’s depression was severe, and 15.2 percent who listed their child’s anxiety at that level.

Among the study’s other findings: Anxiety and depression were more commonly found among white and non-Hispanic children, and children with anxiety or depression were more likely than their peers to be obese. The researchers acknowledge that the survey method — parents reporting what they were told by their child’s doctor — likely skewed the results.

 Grados often identifies anxiety in the children and adolescents he sees as part of his clinical practice in Baltimore. “I have a wide range [of patients], take all insurances, do inpatients, day hospital, outpatients, and see anxiety across all strata,” he said.

The causes of that anxiety also include classroom pressures, according to Grados. “Now we’re measuring everything,” he said. “School is putting so much pressure on them with the competitiveness … I’ve seen eighth graders admitted as inpatients, saying they have to choose a career!”

Yet even one of the latest study’s authors acknowledges that it can be difficult to tease out the truth about the rise in anxiety.

“If you look at past studies,” said John T. Walkup, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, “you don’t know if the conditions themselves are increasing or clinicians are making the diagnosis more frequently due to advocacy or public health efforts.”

Nearly a third of all adolescents ages 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime, according to the National Institutes of Health, with the incidence among girls (38.0 percent) far outpacing that among boys (26.1 percent).

Identifying anxiety in kids and getting them help is paramount, according to clinicians. “Anxiety can be an early stage of other conditions,” Grados said. “Bipolar, schizophrenia later in life can initially manifest as anxiety.”

For all these reasons, Kendall said, increased awareness is welcome.

“If you look at the history of child mental health problems,” he said, “we knew about delinquency at the beginning of the 20th century, autism was diagnosed in the 1940s, teenage depression in the mid-’80s. Anxiety is really coming late to the game.”

Read more:

A warning for people with severe anxiety: Avoid the Internet

The Woebot will see you now’ — the rise of chatbot therapy

What drives children and teens to suicide?

 

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Cita de viernes

athletics blue ground lanes

Photo by Mateusz Dach on Pexels.com

“La disposición a aparecer nos cambia. Nos hace un poco valientes cada vez”.

Brene Brown

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Feel like your workplace is depressing?

Friday Quote

athletics blue ground lanes

Photo by Mateusz Dach on Pexels.com

“The willingness to show up changes us, it makes us a little braver each time”

Brene Brown

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My Menu Disappeared! Waldo Where Are You?

I noticed the other day my menu options disappeared. Has this happened to you? I’m working to correct the problem and nothing is working!

Help if you have a fix or I’ll be forced to contact WP. My favorite chats of the day.

M

June is LGBTQ Pride Month

rainbow

Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

June is LGBTQ Pride Month, when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning people and their allies celebrate diversity, progress, and pride. This month, Joyful Heart reaffirms our support for survivors of all sexual orientations and gender identities or expressions.

Sexual and domestic violence can happen in all different relationships and to anyone. Respecting survivors’ diverse identities and experiences is essential. Many survivors face obstacles when it comes to disclosing their experiences or seeking help. However, these hurdles can be amplified for LGBTQ survivors who fear being “outed” to their friends and families, or who fear being discriminated against in the legal, medical, or criminal justice systems.

Throughout the month, we will share resources, including our blog post: 5 Facts About Sexual and Domestic Violence in LGBTQ Communities.

It takes courage for a survivor of sexual or domestic violence to share their story with anyone. Never underestimate your power to affect the course of a survivor’s healing journey.

With hope,

Sarah Haacke Byrd
Managing Director
Joyful Heart Foundation
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Your child is sick or hurt, where do you go?

A few weeks ago I fell and gashed my head, needing six staples. We talked about going to a Doc-in-a-Box but decided to go the hospital. We didn’t choose a Doc-in-a-Box since some charge outrageous fees. My General Practitioner didn’t have anyone available so the choices were narrowed down.

We didn’t have time to find out if the Doc-in-Box charged reasonable fees or Urgent Care fees. What is the difference between the two is worth finding out. Here are a few options.

Tele-doctor   Can handle colds, flu, baby needs and other non urgent care from your computer. Our Insurance company is pushing this option, it’s very affordable.

General Practitioner  I prefer my GP, fees like a visit.

Doc-in-the-Box  Doctors? Skilled Nurses? Handles a broken bones, sprained ankle, cold, flu and baby needs.

Urgent Care. Doctors? Skilled nurses? Fees? This is a gray area to me.

Choosing the hospital over other options put a dent in our pocket-book. I was there three hours, IV and all the fan fare which came to $12,000. Insurance will negotiate the amount to a number we can live with, thank goodness.

Know your options to be prepared.

 

 

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Triple Shot Thursday *Women in Rock*

Hope you enjoy the request this week. Want to hear your tune, the request line is open 24/7. Have a great weekend.  M

Nacional Online de Asalto Sexual

La Línea de Ayuda Nacional Online de Asalto Sexual

Gratis. Confidencial. Segura.

Chat AhoraLa Sala De AyudaLlame al 800.656.4673

La Sala de Ayuda

Converse con otros sobrevivientes del asalto sexual en un espacio seguro y confidencial entre las 7 p.m a 9 p.m. tiempo del este, todos los Miércoles y Sábado.

Línea de Ayuda Online

RAINN ofrece apoyo gratuito las 24 horas al día, 7 días por semana para los sobrevivientes de la violencia sexual y sus seres queridos.

  • ¿Cómo es el consentimiento? – Cuando usted está comenzando una relación sexual, el consentimiento se trata de la comunicación. Y se la debe tener cada vez.
  • ¿Qué es un kit para casos de violación? – La evidencia de ADN en un crimen como del asalto sexual, se puede recolectar en el lugar de los hechos, pero además se puede recolectar de su cuerpo, su ropa y otros artículos personales.
  • Planificación de la seguridad – La planificación de la seguridad se trata de pensar en las formas que puede permanecer segura(o) lo cual también puede disminuir el riesgo de perjuicios en el futuro.
  • Consejos para los sobrevivientes sobre los medios – Los medios de comunicación pueden ser una gran herramienta para aumentar la concientización pública sobre la violencia sexual, pero también pueden presentar retos para algunos sobrevivientes.

Gracias  Melinda

New Resources for LGBT Community

New resourses for LGBT community provided by RAINN.org

  • National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs: A coalition of programs that document and advocate for victims of anti-LGBT and anti-HIV/AIDS violence/harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, police misconduct and other forms of victimization. Site has a list of local anti-violence programs and publications. Hotline: 212.714.1141
  • The Trevor Project: Help and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth. Hotline: 866.488.7386
  • GLBT National Hotline: Call center that refers to over 15,000 resources across the country that support LGBTQ individuals. Hotline: 888.THE.GLNH (843.4564) pen pals, weekly LQB and T chatrooms for youth
  • Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling:Directory of LGBT-friendly mental health specialists across the United States. Specialists listed are verified members of AGLBTIC, a division of the American Counseling Association.
  • FORGE (For Ourselves: Reworking Gender Expression): Home to the Transgender Sexual Violence Project. Provides services and publishes research for transgender persons experiencing violence and their loved ones.
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Brad’s Story of Sexual Abuse and Survival

Provided by RAINN

Brad’s Story

“Once I finally had the courage to speak, I was surprised by the compassionate reactions and the support and love I got. I realized the healing could begin and I wished I had done it a long time ago.” 

Brad Simpson was groomed and sexually abused by a private sports trainer from age nine to his mid-teens. The older male sports trainer used emotional manipulation tactics to gain Brad’s trust and continue the abuse.

Brad remembers his trainer saying, “‘Touching sexual parts is what all champion athletes do. It’s how you get in touch with your core energy—that core animal instinct that makes you a great athlete.’” Brad recalls, “I was doing well in my sports; I was a real high achiever. It was my secret weapon.”

When Brad was eighteen, he went to a swim meet leading to the Olympic selection trials. He felt he needed his secret weapon again, so he went back to the sports trainer and the abuse continued. “It was already bad enough, but once I’d done that, I could never tell anyone about it because it was so embarrassing. I realized it was wrong; I was asking for it. I had that guilt and shoved it away forever.”

Brad didn’t tell anyone about the abuse for the next 35 years and instead focused on achieving goals in his career, sports, and social life. “It was scary; I was afraid of judgement most of all. I had feelings of guilt, and I struggled with self esteem and trying to hide my story.”

Four years ago, Brad spoke about the abuse to his wife for the first time in an attempt to explain some of his behavior. He didn’t want to use it as an excuse, but felt it was important to explain the trauma he had worked to hide through drug and alcohol use for so many years. “I made it so tough for her, and somehow she stuck around.”

After disclosing to his wife, Brad told his children and sought counseling. He feels his real healing began during his time at an addiction treatment facility where he found other survivors of child sexual abuse. “I started getting to know my inner child and learning to love that part of myself again. The little guy that felt it was his fault, the little guy that kept the secret.” He found the community aspect of his treatment to be valuable because others provided support and understanding in moments when he felt most isolated.

Brad’s parents didn’t know about the abuse until shortly before he entered the treatment facility. He resisted telling them because he didn’t want them to feel responsible for what happened. “I never blamed them for it; I never wanted to. It wasn’t their fault. They didn’t know because I hid it so well.” However, after going through a breakdown and nearly taking his life, he decided to tell them. His parents have been wonderfully supportive, but Brad still worries that they struggle with feelings of guilt. “I hate that I had to tell them because it was nobody’s fault.”

As is the case for many male survivors of sexual abuse, Brad has faced a specific set of challenges during his healing process. “I think for me and possibly other men, it’s a huge pride thing—feeling like you have to be the man and face your problems and get over it.” Being able to share with other male survivors has been important in helping him feel less alone in his healing process.

Brad has experienced PTSD, depression, and suicidal thoughts as a result of the abuse. When he was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, he tried to avoid taking medication for it because he feared being judged for living with mental illness. “I had this fear of being crazy. Am I always going to be like this? Am I better off not being here?” He eventually started taking medication, and has also found it useful to learn about the brain chemistry behind depression and bipolar disorder. “Knowing about it has made it more tolerable and easier to understand my behavior and my feelings.”

Last year, a close friend of Brad’s from the treatment facility took his own life. “He had five kids, a beautiful family. People didn’t understand why he would do it, but I understand.” Brad mourns the loss of his friend, but does not judge him for his choice. “When you’re in that darkness it doesn’t seem like there’s a way out. It feels like it’s always been that way, it’s a truth that you have to hide, and eventually it doesn’t feel like you can anymore. But somehow we make it. We make it with the support of others. I just wish I could have helped my friend more.”

Brad also finds advocacy to be an important part of his healing. He and a friend he met through counseling who is also a member of RAINN’s Speakers Bureau have started two foundations. Show Up for Children and Courageous Survivors both provide support for survivors of child sexual abuse and spread prevention education.

Important parts of Brad’s healing have included meditation, yoga, and exercise as well as journaling and writing poetry. He has found it essential to be deliberate in his self-care routine and to embrace his creative side through his poetry and other writing that he shares on Twitter and Instagram. He recently completed an autobiographical book of prose, poetry, and journal entries touching on themes of healing, spirituality, and learning to love oneself.

He is grateful that his family has been there for him throughout this journey and for how wonderfully supportive and compassionate they have been. “I have made things very scary and difficult for them at times.”

“I’m focused on staying well so I can enjoy life with my children. At the moment I’m just thankful to be here; it always felt so hard just to stay. Hopefully one day it doesn’t have to feel like a struggle.”

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