warning signs

Suicide Warning Signs: What should you be looking for?

With suicide rates at an all-time high, we must know and understand the signs and symptoms to look out for. Suicide is preventable and is never the answer to your problems. If for any reason you think you may be suicidal or just don’t feel like yourself, please consider seeking help from a licensed mental health professional. So many people want to see you continue in this life and so many resources are available to help you get through these hard times.

If you are someone who is concerned a child, relative, or friend may be at risk for suicide there are some signs to look out for:

  • Focusing on death — a person at risk of committing suicide likely doesn’t want to die, they just want a way to end their pain. It is a concern if a person focuses on death and dying, researches different ways to die, and/or seems encompassed by the idea.
  • Making plans — someone who is thinking about ending their life may start to make plans. They might make a will, talk about after-life wishes with family, giveaway important things, or start saying goodbye to loved ones.
  • Becomes withdrawn — not returning phone calls or showing up for social events can be a big sign that something is not right.
  • Shows despair — they might seem sad, distraught, severely depressed, or talk about how they are a burden to others.
  • A swing in mood or sleep — a person who is normally anxious, depressed, moody or aggressive may suddenly become calm once they have decided to commit suicide. They may also stop sleeping as much as they used to or sleep more.
  • Substance abuse — as with any mental health condition the use of substances like alcohol or drugs can contribute to feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts.
  • Acts recklessly — participating in dangerous and risky behaviors like having unprotected sex or driving drunk can be a sign that a person doesn’t appreciate their life and doesn’t care if it ends.
  • Victims — victims of trauma or abuse of any kind can be more at risk than other populations. These people have a lot of pain they are dealing with and struggle with wanting that pain to go away.

If you or anyone you know is displaying any of the above signs or symptoms, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK [8255].

teen suicide

Teen Suicide Rates At All-Time High, Here’s How We Can Help…

Suicide rates among teens and young adults are at an all-time high, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts can’t pinpoint exactly why the number of teens and young adults taking their own lives is continuing to increase, but many blame things such as the use of digital platforms, economic distress, and social isolation.

There is no question this problem is one that needs our attention and care. There are steps we can take as parents, community members, and school administrators to help those who are struggling, to make suicide a more difficult option, and to show this population that suicide is not the answer.

Where do we start?

1.) Restrict Access — Having a gun in the home to protect against an intruder may seem like a good idea but it is also giving your child access to a deadly tool. My advice is to keep guns locked up and in places where even your teen doesn’t know they exist. Same with drugs, keep them out of sight. Lock them up. Reduce access. It is a lot harder to commit the act of suicide if you don’t have the tools readily available.

2.) Talk to Your Teen — If you are worried about your teen or your teen’s friends potentially struggling with emotions, then talk to them. In fact, talk to them regardless. Let them know they have a place to turn. Ask your teen if they are suicidal. Open up the communication gates. Let them know that is not the answer and get them help from a licensed mental health professional. This subject feels taboo to many but it is clear we need to talk about it. Let your child know it is ok to not be ok.

3.) Implement Suicide Prevention Programs in Schools — Training teachers and school administrators to recognize the signs of depression, suicide precursors, and other mental health issues in teens and young adults can have a lasting impact. Teens spend much of their days in an educational environment, our school professionals can play a part in watching for the signs and getting help.

4.) Training for Parents and Other Adults in the Community — Our teens need to feel like they have a safe place to turn, even if it is not a parent, to talk about their mental health. They need a caring adult who is willing to talk about suicide and can act as a support network.

The bottom line is our teens and young adults need to know they are cared for, they matter, and they have places they can go and people they can talk to whenever they need. 

For additional information on these tips, visit https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/7/11/18759712/teen-suicide-depression-anxiety-how-to-help-resources .

Peter Pan

Do You Have Peter Pan Syndrome?

Do you remember Peter Pan? You know the boy who doesn’t grow up. I mean, who doesn’t want to stay a child forever? Life was easy as a child, less responsibility, more fun and way fewer worries to consume our days with.

But, as an adult there comes a time when you have to grow up. At some point, you need to take on adult responsibilities and shift your priorities. Unfortunately, we are not surrounded in the magic that can keep us children forever. Growing up and shifting priorities is not a smooth transition for everyone. Some adults truly struggle with this change, which is why the term “Peter Pan Syndrome” was coined by psychologists.

What are some of the characteristics of Peter Pan Syndrome?

1.) Unwillingness to work hard when you aren’t motivated. We all know how hard it can be to get things done when you don’t feel like doing something, but unfortunately being an adult sometimes means doing things you don’t want to do.

2.) Dabbling in many different things. Rather than focusing your time on honing one skill, a person who has Peter Pan Syndrome might spend their time trying a bunch of different things because they can’t pinpoint the one skill they want to master.

3.) Aversion to networking. Meeting successful people in your career field of choice can be hard, yet necessary to find a job and/or move up in a position. You have to put yourself out there, talk and learn from others.

4.) Focusing on the long shot. We are all told to dream big, but at some point, you might need to shift gears from trying to make it big as a musician or a film star and instead focus on a more realistic area of interest. Maybe instead of trying to be a multi-billionaire rockstar, you become a music teacher. Or instead of focusing all your energy into being a successful actor, teach a theatre class.

5.) Abusing alcohol and drugs. These types of behaviors while often linked to addiction or other mental health conditions, can make finding and keeping a successful job difficult. It can make adulting that much harder to do.

6.) Blaming your failure on an external source. Often those having difficulty growing up don’t want to accept that they aren’t successful in their careers because they aren’t motivated to try, and instead want to blame it on something their parents, spouse, or former employer did/said. The truth of the matter is some people have come from war, hunger, poverty, abuse, etc. and have come out successful. It is all about finding that motivation to go after the life you want.

If you identify with one or more of these characteristics it might be helpful to talk to a licensed mental health professional, life coach, or career counselor who can help to guide you on the path for success. The first thing you have to do is realize that to be successful in a career you will need to grow up, as hard as that is, and if you are struggling with that reality there are tools to help you. Anyone can succeed in life and career, it will just take some willingness to make changes.

abandonment article

Feeling abandoned can be painful

When we think of painful life experiences many times we jump right to trauma, but abandonment can be just as raw and painful as physical or emotional trauma.

Abandonment, such as a parent or grandparent who suddenly leaves a child, can stay with a person through their whole life. It can be easily triggered by other situations, such as a significant other who doesn’t call one day or forgets to say goodbye before they leave for work. When it is triggered it often floods the person with fear, panic, and intense shame — why am I not worthy of someone sticking around? What is wrong with me?

Raw Pain

That pain can be just as raw as it was on the first day of abandonment. That intense fear of being abandoned again can develop into harmful coping strategies that actually increase the risk of being rejected. This could include being clingy to a significant other, getting upset at missed phone calls or missed connection, severe jealousy, or complete isolation from others, to name a few. It can be a never-ending spiral of events.

Deserves Attention

If you or someone you love has experienced some type of abandonment it is important that he/she/they recognize that experience deserves some attention. It can seem easiest and safest to push that experience deep within and to not share it with anyone, but it will only compound and lead to more abandonment down the road. Seeking help from a licensed mental health professional can help to confront those feelings and develop healthy coping strategies, leading to healthy relationships.

stress low

One thing you can do to keep stress low

Stress is part of our everyday lives. It comes and goes based on the days’ events resulting in the release of the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies.  

Cortisol is our brain’s natural response to both minor moments of stress—also called good stress or eustress, which can be beneficial for our productivity, such as starting a new job or finishing a project and doing it well; and major stress —known as distress — such as finding out you are late on bills, getting in a vehicle fender bender, or suffering a traumatic event. 

Fight-or-Flight

This hormone is released by our bodies’ adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism. As it states in the definition, this hormone puts your body in a state of mobilization. It is preparing you to get active and ready for action, so you can fight off whatever is stressing you. You know, just like in the caveman days when there was a predator going after a food source. 

But, these days we aren’t as active. We are getting hit left and right with more and more stressors compounding in our bodies and our cortisol levels are off the charts. All this cortisol not only leads to health problems like weight gain, high blood pressure, lower immune function, loss of learning and memory, increases in depression, anxiety, and more, but it also makes it hard for our body to find and accept alternatives to situations. It clouds our reality. 

Keeping Stress Low

So what is one thing you can do to keep stress levels low? 

Take that feeling of flight seriously. Get active. Get out there. And reduce your cortisol levels.

Regular physical activity can help to lower cortisol levels and allow your brain some clarity. Regular activity can increase your self-confidence and resilience to life’s everyday ups and downs. Coupled with interaction with friends and meditation and mindfulness practices you can lighten the load in your brain and feel lighter, less stressed, and more at peace with your life. 

controlling partner

Signs you may have a controlling partner

Toxic relationships can sneak up on anyone. You might enter a relationship thinking your partner is one way and later find out he/she/they have a different side of them you had yet to really see. They could be controlling. 

Having a controlling partner is dangerous and unhealthy. Sometimes, especially when love is involved, it can be hard to see the signs. 

Here are some signs of a controlling partner that you should watch out for:

1.) They want to isolate you from your friends or family — they make you feel guilty for going out with friends or constantly complain about you speaking or interacting with family. 

2.) They are chronically criticizing you— they are always making you feel bad about yourself by picking at every little thing you do, how you act, things you wear, etc. 

3.) Making threats — threats don’t have to be violence-related, those are clear red flags that you should get away. Threats can also include revoking privileges, taking financial access away or getting in the way of time with children, etc.

4.) Making love, affection, caring conditional — it is definitely not healthy for a partner to be saying things like, “we can cuddle tonight if you do the dishes.” Or, “make partner at work and I will really love you.”

5.) Keeping score— if your partner is constantly keeping track of the things you have done wrong, that is not a healthy sign.

6.) Does not trust you — your partner is spying on you, reading messages on your phone, following you when you go places, or asking for constant updates on your whereabouts

7.) Not respecting your needs — your partner isn’t allowing you to have alone time, get your hair done, get exercise, whatever it is you need

8.) Jealously — he/she/they is easily made jealous over little things, such as that conversation you had with a coworker, a phone call with a friend, a chance meeting with a neighbor, etc.

These are just some of the signs that you should look out for if you are concerned your partner may be controlling. It may also be helpful to speak to a licensed mental health professional to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. If you ever feel like you are in an unsafe situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for help. 

after baby

How To Keep Your Marriage Healthy After Baby

Adjusting to parenthood is hard work and it can put a lot of strain on a marriage. We all have ideas of what it will be like to have a child, to add an infant to our lives, but nobody truly knows what they are in for until they experience being new parents themselves. Not to mention every baby is different and every relationship has its strong and weak points. 

In the first few months after having a child, it is important to let go of any expectations. Right now is about survival. It is about keeping your child (and yourself) healthy and adjusting to your new life as parents. Give each other some grace. You are both going through a lot of changes right now, and you are likely dealing with them in different ways. 

Time To Connect

Allow yourself, and your spouse, time for yourself to connect with your new title as a parent and to rest. Breaks are important for both of you. Take turns. 

It is also important that you make time to be together, just the two of you. That is difficult after having a child because that child relies on you for everything but it is also important that you recognize it is important to keep your marriage healthy. And, alone time is key to keeping your relationship strong. Leave baby with a grandparent or a trusted friend, even if only for an hour, and take a walk with your spouse or grab a coffee or a meal. Whatever your heart desires. 

So often I hear new moms making the excuse that they just can’t leave their baby. Not even for an hour but the truth is even a short time alone with your spouse can do wonders for rekindling the spark. 

Talk It Out

Communicate with your family, your friends. Lean on others. This adjustment is going to be hard for everyone in your household. You will have to figure out a new normal. Talk to each other. Figure out what struggles others are having and brainstorm what might work best.

Share the load. You likely have heard the phrase before “it takes a village.” There is a reason that is so popular. It is true. We all have babies and think we can do it all alone. And yes, I am sure you could do it all alone but would you be happy and healthy? Let others step in and help you out. Let your mother clean your house or hold your baby while you take a much-needed shower. Let your husband do the grocery shopping so you can take a nap. Let a friend fold your laundry if he/she/they desire.

The more you and your spouse can work together during this time of adjustment, the stronger you will be in the end. It can be so easy to get angry and frustrated with each other during this time of change. Understandably so, you are both exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed. Allow each of you to make mistakes, to learn, grow, and to adjust as a team. 

It Is All About Perspective

Parenting is one of the hardest things a person can do in a lifetime, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. All will come with time. For now, snuggle that baby (or babies) and do your best to keep things in perspective. 

If you find you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or adjusting, in general, it can help to seek the help of a licensed mental health professional. They can help to provide you with healthy coping mechanisms and support during this transition.

apologize image

Do you over apologize? It may be anxiety

You catch yourself looking down at your phone while out to lunch with friends, “oops I am sorry,” you say, “I just needed to respond to this quick message.” Ok, you don’t need to apologize. You haven’t done anything wrong. 

You leave a friend’s party and start thinking about all the things that you might have done wrong. You feel like you came off too strong. Did you help clean up enough? Did you say the right thing to your neighbor when introducing them? Was the punch fruity enough? You immediately text your friend a heartfelt apology. But why? You didn’t do anything that needs apologizing.

This is over apologizing, apologizing for things that don’t warrant an apology. You are a human. You aren’t supposed to be perfect. You are supposed to be you. You never need to apologize for being you.

Anxiety and Overthinking

But, you have anxiety. That anxiety causes you to overthink everything, to worry about things that didn’t even really happen or that you fear other people are thinking. 

This is the anxiety that keeps you up at night worrying about things that may or may not ever happen. It is the anxiety that keeps you second-guessing every move you make, every outfit you try on, every conversation you have, every task you complete, the list goes on and on. This is the everyday reality of anxiety, and, while exhausting and overwhelming, it needs no apology. 

For anxiety sufferers, constantly feeling like you need to apologize is part of life. But, it doesn’t have to be all of you. If you recognize that you are over apologizing and that it could in part be due to your anxiety, then you can begin to recognize the situations where you don’t need to apologize. You can cut yourself some slack. 

Seeking out help from a licensed mental health professional can help you to cope with these situations in healthy ways and to fully accept, embrace, and be proud of who you are.

Teaching kids independence through chores

Getting children to help around the house can be a great benefit for parents, while also teaching children accountability, responsibility, and independence. Kids who are expected and required to complete chores around the home gain an appreciation for all the work that goes into taking care of the family.

Chores also help to increase self-confidence in children. They gain a sense of accomplishment at getting things done and doing things well. Chores teach self-sufficiency, which is, after all, our primary goal as parents. 

But, even though the benefits are mounting it can be hard as a parent to loosen the reigns and allow our children to take over household tasks. After all, it is much easier most of the time to do the cleaning ourselves. Children have an intrinsic desire to be independent and as a parent it is important we nurture and sustain that. And, once they get the hang of a task they can be super helpful. It just takes some patience and calm instruction. 

Start small. Have your children help with age-appropriate tasks that are safe and easy for them to get done. For example, you can have them put plates in the dishwasher, help to clear the table after meals, water plants, throw dirty clothes into the hamper, pick up toys, get the mail, collect garbage around the home, strip sheets off beds, feed animals, help with meals, etc. As they get older you can add things like cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, and even mowing the lawn.

Make a list and come to an agreement with your child to help avoid nagging. Sticker charts can be helpful and incentives like allowance or activities can also be motivating but they are not necessary. Don’t feel like you have to reward your child with anything more than a “good job” for the chores they have done.  After all, that is not real life. You don’t get $1 every time you do a load of laundry, so they don’t need to either.

Meal Prep

Ways to Get Your Kids Involved in Meal Prep

Mealtime can be hectic, but there is no reason you have to do it all yourself. Getting your kids involved in meal preparation can have a lot of benefits for both you and your children. 

When children feel invested in the meal they tend to be more willing to eat it. They get excited that they were able to help. They feel accomplished and more confident. Children also tend to be more willing to try new things, expand their pallets, and eat healthier when they are involved in the preparation process. Not to mention it is a good bonding moment for parents and children and helps to create healthy habits.

Everyone Can Be Involved

It is also important to note that this task is appropriate for both male and female parents and their male and female children. Everyone can be involved in the cooking and meal prep process. It is important we show our children that time in the kitchen is for the whole family, not just females. 

What are some ways to get the kids into the kitchen without adding to the chaos?

1.) Ask their opinion on what they want to eat for a couple of meals during the week — Get the cookbooks out and let your kids look through them and decide on one or two meals they want to eat during the week. Encourage them to switch it up so they aren’t picking the same meals every week. 

2.)Take them grocery shopping — After your kids pick out the meals they want for the week, take them to the store to get the stuff you will need. Let them help pick out the produce and get the boxes off the shelves.

3.)Allow them to use their hands — When prepping the meal give your kids a couple of tasks, it could be washing fruits or vegetables, putting salad greens on a plate, pouring ingredients into a bowl, measuring, stirring, etc. 

4.)Have them set the table— Not only can your kids help with the meal prep, but they can also help set the table. Allow them to get the drinks out, put the silverware on the table, and arrange things the way they choose. 

5.)Get them cleaning — They can also help to clear the table, load dishes in the dishwasher, and wipe down countertops or eating spaces. 

And, lastly, you can have them choose the music for dinner one or two days a week. It doesn’t take much to make your children feel like they were part of the creating of the all-important family dinner, and the benefits can be huge.