The CWCSF Blog

National Depression Screening Day

Today, October 10, 2019 is National Depression Screening Day. Clinical depression is a common medical illness affecting more than 19 million American adults each year. Depression is a condition in which a person can feel discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or disinterested in life in general. Major depression affects the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, and functions in their daily life. It is however, a treatable illness. Like screenings for other illnesses, depression screenings should be a routine part of one’s healthcare.

Why Screen for Depression?

· Depression is a serious medical illness.

· Clinical Depression can lead to suicide.

· Depression is not a normal part of life.

· Clinical Depression affects men and women of all ages, races and socioeconomic groups.

· Depression can occur with and complicate other medical conditions.

· Clinical Depression can be treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

· Screenings are the first step in getting help.

Who Should Get Screened?

People suffering from Depression often experience some of these key symptoms:

· Sad, Anxious or Numb Feelings

· Sleep Issues (sleeping too much or too little)

· Appetite Issues (loss of appetite or increased appetite)

· Irritability

· Restlessness

· Lack of Interest

· Lack of Focus

· Lack of Energy

· Thoughts of Death or Suicidal Thoughts

Online Depression Screenings:

Depression Screening from Mental Health America: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screen/patient-health

Depression Screening from Anxiety and Depression Association of America: http://www.adaa.org/iving-with-anxiety/ask-and-learn/screenings/screening-depression

Screenings are not a professional diagnosis. Screenings merely point out if depressive symptoms are apparent. One should see a doctor or a qualified mental health professional if experiencing depressive symptoms for more than two weeks or if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with one’s daily life.

Resources:

http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/ask-and-learn/resources

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Combating Senioritis: Keeping your Child Motivated

Combating Senioritis: Keeping your Child Motivated

By: Staci Lee Schnell, M.S.,C.S.,LMFT

Senioritis is the condition that tends to affect the motivation of many high school seniors. Once college applications are complete and plans for their futures are being made, students may begin to slack off.  Parents may find themselves battling with their children to stay on track. If your teen is displaying signs of senioritis, such as plummeting grades, laziness, a dismissive attitude, or missing days of school, it may be time to step in. So what’s a parent to do? Here are some tips for combating senioritis.

Clear Expectations

Be clear that you expect the same drive and motivation this year as in previous years. Communicate your expectations of their grades and responsibilities.

Be Aware

From projects and finals to AP exams, a student’s senior year is full of many challenges and responsibilities. Keep track of these large requirements and bring them up in conversation over time.

Communication

Open communication between parents and children is essential.  Talk about their schedules, requirements, hopes and fears.  Let them know you are there for them. A good supportive conversation beats a lecture any day. Do a lot of listening. 

Problem Solve

Instead of threatening or using fear tactics, think about how you can help them problem solve.  Help them to think about how they can have an interesting, successful and useful senior year that will carry them forward in their lives.

Balance

It is so important to help your child to manage a proper balance between enjoying all that senior year has to offer with the importance of a strong academic finish to high school.

Be Supportive

With your encouragement and support your child’s senior year will help launch them on the path to a successful future. Senior year is your child’s opportunity to strengthen their skills and broaden their experiences, and to prepare for the challenges of life ahead.

Parents shouldn’t ignore any slide in grades or skipping of classes. Start out by explaining the serious consequences that could occur, and encourage them to follow-through with the same dedication they have always had. 

It is also important to recognize that you have been a part of this long journey too and so you may be experiencing signs of burnout yourself. Hang in there and realize how close your child is to graduating.

Participating in Family Therapy can also help develop the dialog needed between parents and their teens in overcoming senioritis. 

Living with Panic Disorder: A Therapist’s Perspective

Living with Panic Disorder: A Therapist’s Perspective

By: Julie Galiñanes, LCSW

Living with Panic Disorder: A Therapist’s Perspective

Picture this, you are driving on the highway and your hands begin to sweat, your heart begins to race. Your feet become numb and you can’t feel the brakes. You feel like you are losing control and do not feel yourself. You think you are having a heart attack. Although you may be experiencing many of the physical symptoms of a heart attack, in actuality, what you are experiencing is a panic attack. Panic attacks are intense and plain dreadful; and they can strike when you least expect it. Their exact cause is unknown, but we do know that they are typically hereditary. So, if say your mother, father, aunt, uncle or grandparents have suffered from them, chances are you will too. Oftentimes panic attacks can also be triggered by a painful event or major life event or stressor in your life, such as marriage, the birth of a baby, divorce, or death. Panic attacks are very possibly the body’s attempt to process the powerful feelings of loss, grief, or challenging event you have experienced. 

The first time I experienced a panic attack I was 26 years old. I was heading north on the expressway. It was dusk and I was heading home following a church service that was held for my step-sister (22) who had died tragically in a motorcycle accident just a few weeks before. The attack came out of the blue and took me by complete surprise. It also terrified me. I thought I had completely lost my mind. It felt surreal and I couldn’t stop it.  After seeking therapy and learning ways to manage and prevent future panic attacks, and getting on a medication regime that worked for me, the panic episodes eventually subsided. Just when I thought I had been completely cured, they struck again. It was approximately 6 years later when I experienced my second panic episode, this time it was triggered by the birth of my second daughter who was born sick and nearly died. Those nine weeks she spent in the hospital were grueling, uncertain, and very traumatic. At that time I opted not to use medication as I was breastfeeding, but did seek the help of my trusted therapist to assist me through this painful experience. Slowly the panic attacks again began to subside. However, they decided to rear their ugly head again after my separation from my husband about three years later – yet another stressful life event.

Since my first panic attack occurred while driving, it seems that this is when my panic episodes now usually occur. However, for some people they may occur while sleeping, at the Movie Theater, or workplace, for example. While some people only experience one attack in their lifetime, most will experience them periodically throughout their lives. At this moment, there are approximately 2.4 million Americans living with Panic Disorder. The good news is that therapy helps! Some days may be better than others, but learning the tools you need to learn to manage your panic attacks are extremely helpful in managing panic episodes. Your therapist can assist you with visualization and anxiety-reducing techniques, as well as with managing your overall stress levels. Remember, when having panic attacks you feel “out of control”, but having a “sense” of control over your life can definitely assist in reducing the panic episodes. CBT, or changing the way you think to feel and act in relation to a particular situation – in this case your fear-based thoughts –  has also proven very effective in reducing anxiety levels and panic attacks.

Tips to keep in mind while experiencing a panic attack:

Breathe

Oftentimes when we are in a state of panic, we take shallow breaths, especially when in a state of panic. Our body goes into the flight-or-fight mode and perceives normal places as threats. Deep breathing helps to activate the relaxation system in your brain which in turn helps to calm you down

Use Positive Self-Talk

Talk yourself through the panic attack. Positive self-talk or statements, such as “I’ve done this before” or “this is just a panic attack” helps one get through the episode.

Reach Out

If these things aren’t working, reach out to a trusted friend or family member that can help talk you through the panic attack. If you are driving, pull over or get off the highway and stop at a safe location. If you are unable to drive at all following the attack, call someone to pick you up

Tips to Reduce Symptoms of Panic Attacks:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce daily caffeine intake
  • Maintain a healthy and balanced diet
  • Maintain a good sleep routine
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or visualization on a regular basis
  • Do not avoid your triggers

 

Panic attacks are a serious matter and can undoubtedly change one’s life. There have been times where I have wondered if things would ever get better, when I have thought I would never get on a highway again, when I dreaded going on a long drive out of town. While having these feelings are normal, do not let panic attacks defeat you. Keep in mind that there is always help available and things WILL get better, even if it means taking things one day at a time. Above all, confront your fears. If you avoid your triggers, this may lead to agoraphobia, meaning you may never want to leave your house for fear of having a panic attack.  Although I still struggle almost daily with my fear of driving, I remind myself that if I had given in to my fear  when I experienced my first panic attack 15 years ago, I would probably not be driving today.

The Road to Change Tour

The Road to Change Tour

By: Lexa Bender

lexabender@cwcsf
Lexa Bender on Road to Change Tour

This summer was one for the books—the history books. I was lucky enough to be granted the opportunity to join the resilient activists of March for Our Lives on their summer trip, which was driven by the intention of turning tragedy into change. I packed my bags for an eight-week experience, not fully knowing what to expect, but ready to be a support for whatever was to come. Despite the heinous act that happened at their school, the students never stopped pushing forward, keeping me constantly amazed.

 

During the Road to Change tour, I was able to share an unforgettable journey with students and alumni of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Through this experience, I witnessed both pain and growth. The pain of the shooting will remain in the lives of the students, alumni, families, teachers, friends—the list goes on. That is not to overshadow the resilience that is also present, however. Strength and perseverance seem to be slowly replacing the rough edges of grief and anger. Even joy was found in the most painful of circumstances.

 

Along the tour, I met people both directly and indirectly affected by the shooting on February 14, 2018. The sense of community and support that the students were greeted with wherever they went was beautiful to witness. As a counselor, I am aware of the powerful effects of a strong support system, and I was able to watch theirs grow by the day.

 

After I returned home, I took some time to think about all that I gained from my experience this summer. The overarching theme that I took away from the tour is that there is hope in any circumstance. There is hope in this moment, hope for the future, and hope in one another. People of all backgrounds and histories hold the quality of resilience, which can never be taken away. As humans, we have all experienced trauma, whether big or small—yet, we all have the ability to make meaning in our lives. Although the students’ lives may not look like how they had pictured it, they are discovering a new direction that feels right for them.

 

I will forever be grateful for this summer—the people I got to know, the places I went, and the personal growth I experienced. I will take what I have gained and use it to be the best counselor I can be for my clients. Together we can turn tragedy into change.

 

Five Qualities Needed in Rebuilding Trust after Infidelity

Five Qualities Needed in Rebuilding Trust after Infidelity

By: Staci Lee Schnell, M.S., C.S., LMFT

Rebuilding Trust after Infidelity @ CWCSF

Rebuilding the trust lost in a marriage after one’s spouse has been unfaithful is hard work and can be very challenging. Trust can be rebuilt and the relationship can be even stronger, if you take time and have patience. A highly trained Marriage Therapist can facilitate the work needed after such a significant breach of trust.

Trust is an important part of a healthy relationship.  Without trust in oneself and one’s partner, you can never be truly certain that your relationship is true and authentic. Trust allows you to be able to have the deepest level of confidence in your spouse and their feelings for you.

Trust in the marital relationship is about feeling safe, secure and committed with another person. Relationships need to be built on implicit trust for them to be successful.  When infidelity occurs, trust is greatly eroded.  It takes significant time and effort to reestablish the sense of safety and security needed for the marriage to thrive and be a solid partnership again. 

In order to regain trust, one must show their understanding of their partner’s feelings and the unfaithful spouse must prove true regret. Showing willingness to change is a start in earning back a spouse’s trust. Proving one is serious, honest, reliable, and safe to love again is the goal.  Rebuilding the trust in a marriage means rebuilding the credibility with one’s spouse. Some ways to begin to rebuild trust include being humble, kind, affectionate, appreciative, loyal, and loving.

The following five qualities are essential in rebuilding trust after infidelity. 

 

Sincerity

Being sincere in the apology is important, as well as in the acceptance of the apology.  Sincerity is said to be a mix of seriousness and honesty. Being open and transparent in your communication with your spouse helps rebuild the lost trust. If communication is sincere, trust will occur.  Showing sincerity shows one is being serious, kind, and truthful.

Consistence

Consistence shows a harmonious agreement within a relationship. Being consistent can imply a positive sense of dependability. If one shows consistency, they are showing their partner that they are dependable and trustworthy again.  Building trust doesn’t happen quickly. It takes consistency for someone to believe it is safe to trust again.

Integrity

Integrity is regarded as honesty and truthfulness.  Having integrity shows one’s partner that they are doing the right thing in a reliable way and adhering to the moral and ethical principles to which they are committed.  Don’t keep secrets or sugar coat things from one another. Have open and honest conversations with integrity in order to rebuild trust.

Reliability

Reliability shows the quality of being dependable and trustworthy. Partners must know that they can count on and rely on one another. Demonstrating a pattern of dependable behavior over time increases and rebuilds trust.

Commitment

An act of commitment to rebuilding trust binds a couple intellectually and emotionally. Commitment shows the dedication each has in the act of repairing the relationship.  The couple needs to be committed to the improvement of their marriage and be patient in the process.

Together, a couple should set specific goals utilizing the essential five qualities discussed above for getting their marriage back on the trust track. Talking openly about these goals and checking-in regularly to make sure the relationship is back on the correct path is fundamental. Communicate regularly, to establish you are on the same page about the expectations of your marriage.  This will help renew the commitment needed to rebuild the trust broken from infidelity. 

Find a Marriage and Family Therapist that specializes in affair recovery to assist you on the path to healin

Sentirse perdido en la vida. Una oportunidad de aprendizaje

Sentirse perdido en la vida. Una oportunidad de aprendizaje

Viviana Vethencourt, MS

 

Estoy convencida de que una de nuestras misiones en la vida es aprender lo que necesitamos para convertirnos en la mejor versión de nosotros mismos. Es por esto que a veces nos encontramos que no tenemos las herramientas necesarias para manejar ciertas situaciones. Cuando no sabemos qué hacer con las circunstancias y las emociones asociadas a ellas, estamos frente a una oportunidad de aprendizaje.

 

Varias veces me he encontrado a mi misma en situaciones en las que me he sentido perdida, sin saber qué hacer o por dónde empezar. Estas son generalmente situaciones de cambio que  demandan que tomemos decisiones que definen nuestra vida, aun cuando ni siquiera entendemos lo que está pasando.

 

Para algunas personas es la pérdida de un ser querido, para otros, la pérdida del trabajo, un accidente en auto, ser víctima de un asalto, un rompimiento, un divorcio, migrar a otro país, o cualquier otra situación que podamos percibir como traumática.

 

Una situación como esas trae el pensar constante y enfocarnos solo en eso. Comenzamos a sentirnos ansiosos, preguntándonos cómo vamos a salir de eso, y quizás, al mismo tiempo, nos sentimos tristes, culpables (o ambos) por lo que pasó. Cuestionamos nuestras decisiones, Por que hice esto? O Por que no hice esto?pensamos en lo que hubiéramos  podido hacer, y luego, nos culpamos y le damos poder a la situación o a otras personas de impactar nuestra autoconfianza y nuestra autoestima.

 

En este punto, comenzamos a tomar decisiones por las razones equivocadas, pensando en lo que otros puedan decir, en lo que deberíamos hacer, o en lo que otros han hecho en la misma situación. Hacemos cosas como, aplicar a trabajos para lo que no estamos calificados o que no nos gustan solo porque “debería estar trabajando”, después de quedarnos sin empleo o mudarnos a otro país. O estudiamos una carrera que no nos gusta solo porque lo que realmente nos gusta no lo aprobarían nuestros padres, esposo, amigos, etc. Incluso nos comparamos a otros, generalizando y sacando la situación de contexto..

 

En realidad, todo esto es más fácil decirlo que hacerlo. Generalmente, estas situaciones vienen cargadas de emociones negativas, como miedo al futuro, a fallar o al éxito, tristeza por el pasado, o por las pérdidas, algunas veces arrepentimiento, culpa y ansiedad. A este punto, probablemente se estarán preguntando, cómo se supone que yo maneje mis emociones y a la vez trate de entender lo que debo aprender de la situación? Como se hace eso?

 

A continuación les dejo algunas estrategias que pueden ayudarles a manejar un momento difícil en la vida y salir de él de una manera más productiva y menos dolorosa.

  1. Conocete a ti mismo. Tu no eres tu situación. Para y reflexiona sobre quien eres tu separado de la situación. Que te gusta? Que no te gusta? Que quieres? Que no quieres? Que puedes aceptar y que no?
  2. Respetate a ti mismo. Si te conoces y conoces tus límites, actúa de acuerdo a esto. Siempre piensa, como lo que vas a hacer afecta tu vida?, te acerca a donde quieres llegar o a la persona que quieres ser?
  3. Sé compasivo contigo mismo. Entiende cuál es tu contribución en la situación de manera objetiva y luego, sin castigarte a ti mismo, escoge perdonarte y piensa qué harías diferente la próxima vez . Evita convertirte en tu peor juez, aprende de tus errores e intenta otra vez de una manera diferente.
  4. Chequea la realidad. Si sientes que no eres suficiente, que has fallado, o sientes mucho miedo de “no poder”, preguntate, cual es la evidencia de esto? Quien lo dice? Si encuentras que no hay evidencia o que el único que lo dice eres tú mismo, podrás empezar a ver la situación desde otro punto de vista.
  5. Mantente en el presente. El dolor y la depresión generalmente vienen de mirar al pasado, y la ansiedad viene de enfocarnos en el futuro y no saber qué va a pasar. Cuando nos enfocamos en el pasado, revivimos la situación dolorosa una y otra vez y nos castigamos por eso y cuando nos enfocamos en el futuro, nos preocupamos por algo que ni siquiera sabemos si pasará y sentimos todas las emociones asociadas a ese posible resultado. Cuando nos enfocamos en el pasado o en el futuro nos estamos perdiendo lo que pasa en el presente, no estamos viviendo nuestras vidas.
  6. Se agradecido. Nosotros no estamos programados para sentir dos emociones contrarias a la vez. No podemos sentir tristeza y felicidad, o ansiedad y calma. Cuando agradecemos, nos enfocamos en los aspectos positivos de nuestra vida, haciendo imposible que las emociones negativas aparezcan. Practica el agradecimiento cuantas veces al dia puedas, especialmente cuando comiences a sentir emociones negativas.
  7. Piensa antes de actuar. Cuando estamos en un estado emocional intenso es más difícil pensar objetivamente, por lo que tomamos decisiones impulsivas, sobre todo para parar el sufrimiento y encontrar una solución rápida a nuestros problemas. Hay un dicho que dice: “no renuncies en un mal dia”, en otras palabras, no tomes decisiones en tiempos cargados emocionalmente.
  8. Haz lo que tengas que hacer. Si quieres ver resultados, necesitas trabajar. Aclara tus metas y comprométete con lo que tienes que hacer cada dia para lograrlas. Enfócate en lo que necesitas hacer en el momento presente, sabiendo que mañana, la próxima semana o el proximo mes, tambien haras o que tienes que hacer, hasta que logres tus metas. La mejor manera de moverte hacia adelante es tomando cada paso.

 

Me gustaría dejarte con una historia sobre un pájaro aprendiendo a volar. Un dia, ya era tiempo de abrir sus alas y comenzar a volar, pero el pequeño pájaro tenía mucho miedo, por lo que le preguntó a su madre: Que pasa si me caigo? Y la madre le contestó: y qué pasa si vuelas? Ahora, yo te pregunto: QUE PASA SI VUELAS?

                                                                                   

 

 

                                                                                   

 

Giving Birth to Your Best Friend Mothers and Teenage Daughters

Giving Birth to Your Best Friend

Mothers and Teenage Daughters

Written by Joele Amster, M.S.

My mother always told me, “When you have a daughter you are giving birth to your best friend.” As I grew older and had a daughter of my own, that statement began to really ring true for me. You may be reading this and thinking… Why don’t I feel like that? or Why do I and my teenage daughter constantly argue?  

Do not misunderstand me, raising a teenage daughter is a lot of work. Through the years, we have had many battles and many wars. Some I have won, and some I have definitely lost:  arguments over friends, boyfriends, clothing that shows too much skin, curfews and school work. I remember walking away from arguments and feeling like she hates me and I am a failure as mother. But those will probably be the times that she remembers the most. Those are the turning points in her life that I helped her to grow, develop, and learn to cope with different situations in her life.

It is important to be a parent, not a friend, and to give boundaries to our daughters as we help to mold them into independent, self-assured women. It is then, when they are old enough and have become their own person, that your daughter can become your best friend.

As a mom raising a teenage daughter, I am compelled to want to fix her problems. When she is broken hearted, my heart aches; when she is mad at her friends, I feel mad too. These are the times I share my experiences with her and reassure her that all will be alright in time.

At seventeen years old, I remember thinking that my mom had no clue what I was going through and that she could not possibly “get” it. As a woman and a daughter, I know that it couldn’t be further from the truth. Moms absolutely get it. We have lived it, even though our daughters just cannot see us as teenagers.

Navigating through the teenage years is when keeping the lines of communication is most important. I have learned that listening without putting my worry and fear into the mix gives my daughter the assurance that she needs in order to trust me. There are things I don’t care to know, as well as things that I have to make sure she knows, such as safe sex, being careful about experimenting with drugs, understanding that saying NO to a boy is O.K., and if she feels threatened there is always someone to reach out to. The following are some tips that can help you.

Here are some tips when talking with your teenage daughter:

  • Start Early

I have always talked to my daughter about things that are happening in her life at the time. If you start honest conversations early in the relationship, you’ll build trust.

  • Be Honest

Depending on your daughters age, share insights and experiences that are age-appropriate. As girls enter their teenage years, be smart about what you share. Remember there is a line between being a mom and being a friend. You can share your honest experiences without all the gritty details.

 

  • Set Limits

Your teenage age daughter might not appreciate a strict curfew or doing chores around the house, but remember, you’re the parent and its o.k. to be “uncool.” Your daughter will eventually appreciate knowing you care enough to set rules and boundaries.

  • Talk, Talk, Talk

I sometimes hear myself talking about a situation my daughter is going through long after she has tuned me out. Take the hint. It’s alright for your teenager to work things through on her own or with her friends. Don’t take it personally.

  • Finding a Common Ground

As moms we are prone to fix family problems and devise solutions. Avoid being the fixer to all of your daughter’s problems. Allow her to talk it through while you listen. Be supportive and let her know you are right there beside her if she needs you.

 

Giving birth to your best friend is not easy. The ride is filled with frustration, heartache and fierce love. I like to think of it as a rollercoaster ride. There are highs and lows. But when the ride is over you are so happy that you went on. I look at her when she doesn’t know and my heart bursts with love I created this young women who has everything to look forward to in her upcoming years. I am sure that I gave birth to my best friend.

Besides being a mother of a teenaged daughter, I have been a teacher for over 25 years.  I am passionate about working with children and their families to help them pave the ways to open communication and healthy relationships which led me to further my education in Family Therapy.  I am currently a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern in private practice at the Counseling and Wellness Center of South Florida.

For a consultation please email joele@cwcsf.com or call (954) 281-2553

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Scars Tell the Story

Our Scars Tell the Story

By: Michael Bouciquot, M.S.

 

The Japanese have a form of art known as Kintsugi. This entails a piece of broken pottery being repaired with either gold or silver. The gold or silver is placed in the cracks of the broken pottery and in some cases whole pieces are replaced with one of the two. This technique embraces the imperfection or flaw in an object. Such as how we should embrace our own imperfections, flaws, or scars. Because those scars tell our stories.

 

As with the gold enhancing the pottery our scars enhance us. Our scars show our perseverance, fortitude, and courage. It allows people to know that we have been broken but put back together and are stronger because of it, we’ve had our breakthrough. Yes, it’s the cliche “what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.” It actually does make us stronger, because we learn from it. We learn that we have strength we never knew existed, with this newfound strength we are allowed to grow.

 

A while back, I saw a video on Facebook and it had a man with a prosthetic leg doing tire lifts and a young boy next to him with a prosthetic leg as well lifting a smaller tire. The video spoke volumes to me and to all the others who watched it as it went viral. Not only did this man embrace his own flaw as you would say, he empowered a child to do the same. And they were both stronger because of it; physically and emotionally. I could see the gold in both of them shining brightly.

 

Lately, on the internet whether its Facebook, instagram, or twitter people have been more open about sharing their “scars” whether it is a prosthetic limb, a burn, or some accident and the story behind it. I believe this process helps them overcome the trauma but also helps others with their own trauma and story. It allows others who have similar experiences know they are not alone.

 

Being a therapist, I naturally began to think about the people who carry around scars that are not visible to the world. These people can be survivors of abuse, rape, or mental illness. Just by looking at them you would not necessarily know what they have experienced. They have taken that crack in their soul and have filled it with gold so to speak. Everyday they wake up and LIVE and it is a victory. It’s a victory because it is not easy to do. It takes a great deal of strength and perseverance to continue to move on with life. For people dealing with trauma or mental illness, it’s a one day at a time mentality, some cases it is hour by hour. But everyday you live you win. Personally, I thought it was great when Cleveland Cavalier forward Kevin Love wrote in the Players’ Tribune his struggles with panic attacks and Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan disclosed his battles with depression. And let’s not forget all the women who came forward behind the #metoo movement. It allows others to relate and know that they are not alone. Especially, the children who look up to them.

 

In life what are some of the other cracks that may need to be filled? Some might be thoughts of failure. People may feel like a failure from a loss of job, divorce, or an estranged relationship. These feelings are natural, I would even say experiencing the 5 stages of grief are okay and necessary. However, when all is said and done and you are able to survive and learn from the situation then you have become a fine piece of art.

If you are struggling with trauma here are some tips to help:

 

  • Accept your feelings-After experiencing a traumatic event, you may experience an array of emotions. These emotions can include guilt, shock, and anger. This are normal emotions to experience. Do not deny yourself these feelings, they are necessary in the healing process. Do not rush yourself to feel better, give yourself respect and love and allow yourself to heal. You will be happy of it.

 

  • Seek therapy-Do not be afraid to seek professional help, it does not make you weak. There are times when we need others to help us, especially those trained in helping people recover from trauma.

 

  • Connect with others-After experiencing trauma you may want to be alone and isolate yourself, this may actually makes things worse. It’s important to connect with family and friends, these relationships can help you heal.

 

  • Self-Disclose-Self-disclosure may not only help you but it might help someone in a similar situation. I feel there is always a time and a place to self-disclose. You may want to share your experience when you notice someone is going through something and they can benefit emotionally and mentally from your disclosure.

 

  • Challenge yourself-The scars we have tell our story. They also remind us of what we have been through, with that we may carry fear, sadness, or helplessness. Our newfound strength comes from challenging these fears, not allowing ourselves to be sad and helpless. You survived, now show everyone including yourself.

 

 So whatever it is that you may have experienced in your life or you may experience in the future. Trust me it won’t completely break you. Fill your cracks with gold of strength, humility, and courage. Show your uniqueness off to the world, because the strength you show in yourself may be the strength someone else needs.

How to Protect Your Relationship from Online Infidelity  

How to Protect Your Relationship from Online Infidelity  

By: Caela Cohen, M.S.Ed.

Online Infidelity @CWCSF

In the previous blog, some of the reasons why online infidelity is so common were outlined: unlimited opportunities for connection, the appeal of online communication, and the ease of anonymity. Now that the “why” is recognized, the question that must be asked is what can you do to prevent your relationship from falling victim to online infidelity? The truth is that it depends.

 

As touched upon in the first blog on online infidelity, there is no clear definition or boundaries when it comes to online behaviors. How will you and your partner be able to prevent these behaviors if you don’t even know what is acceptable? Although it may sound vague, when it comes down to it, what really matters is you and your partner. Each of you will have differing opinions and feelings when it comes to internet and social media practices, and they are all valid.

 

Below are four steps you and your partner can take to help define what online infidelity means to your relationship and how to prevent your relationship from being affected by it.  

 

 

SET RULES AND BOUNDARIES

It is up to you and your partner to determine what boundaries should be in place for using the internet as a social mechanism, just as you would set boundaries around your behaviors with others in-person. What is acceptable and unacceptable social media and internet usage? You may initially have disagreements about acceptable usage and rules you want in place. Discuss where each boundary is coming from and if it is in line with your values as a couple. Knowing how each boundary relates to a shared value may help you understand and accept why that boundary should be in place. Be open with your partner about your emotions if this boundary were to be crossed. Also allow discussion about access to phones and internet accounts to help keep each of you accountable.

 

DISCUSS INTENTION AND MOTIVATION BEHIND ONLINE BEHAVIORS

Have a conversation with your partner about the purpose of the internet in your lives and how you both use social media, websites, forums, and text messaging. After understanding the role the online world plays for each of you, have a discussion about why each of you behaves as you do on the internet. What was the intention behind sending that message or liking that picture? What is the motivation behind not letting your partner read your texts? Without being accusatory, this may be a good time to bring up some of the online behaviors your partner engages in that make you uncomfortable. You may find that you or your partner’s intentions may be in seeking something that is not being received from the relationship; in this case, you now know what areas in your relationship need to be strengthened. On the other hand, your worries may be eased by each of your answers, and your relationship reinforced.

 

DON’T COMPARE PARTNER

It’s important not to compare your partner to other people you see on the internet, or your relationship to other couples you see on the internet. Remember that what people show on the internet is usually the best versions of themselves and does not display the hardships they experience as individuals or as a couple. It is also essential not to compare the content of the conversations you and your partner have had, as well as the rules and boundaries you set, with those of other couples you observe. You might feel jealousy or regret after hearing that your friend’s relationship has looser rules around online infidelity. Each relationship is unique, and keep in mind that what might be best for one couple may not be best for another.

 

DETERMINE TRUST LEVEL

After having a discussion about setting rules and boundaries, motivation and intention, and reminding yourself not to compare your partner or relationship to anyone else’s, check the level of confidence you have in both yourself and in our partner in following the rules and boundaries. If, after those initial three steps, you still feel like you cannot trust your partner, or even yourself, there may be a bigger concern present in your relationship for which you may need to seek further help.

 

The internet is always evolving, and will continue to grow and surprise us with the different ways in which we can connect with others in our community and around the world. What needs to stay constant are the values and expectations you and your partner share regarding the internet. It may take time to work through the steps listed above, but with time and honest conversation with your partner, the frustration and confusion you feel about online infidelity will become clearer, and will hopefully lead you to a more assured relationship with your partner. 

 

 

 

Men Don’t Win-Part 1

Men Don’t Win

Part 1: I’m a Father not a Babysitter

By: Michael Bouciquot, MS

Little coughs came out of my son’s mouth as his head rested on my shoulder and his arms wrapped loosely around my neck. He and I sat in the waiting room of the doctor’s office hoping to hear his name called soon. His lethargic body didn’t want to move at all, as I was trying to get comfortable sitting in the same spot. Then walks in a woman with her daughter who sits down across from us. She says hello as she takes her seat, I respond “Good morning.” Maybe about five minutes pass and she says, “You two are so cute, Daddy babysitting, taking his sick son to the doctor’s office. Mommy must be sick too.” I responded, “No, she’s at work, it was easier to change my schedule.” Even though her intentions might have meant well, her comment was very much backhanded. I could have given a backhanded response but didn’t have the correct arsenal in my repertoire. I could have responded like a jerk, but didn’twant to be viewed as the aggressive black man. I could have given a million rude responses but my Father didn’t raise me that way. The nurse comes out and calls my son’s name and we proceed with the doctor’s visit.

  Fast forward a couple weeks later, I am out grocery shopping, both of my sons are sitting in the shopping cart. As I am putting my items onto the counter to be rang up. My younger son who is sitting up in the cart catches the eye of the woman behind us. So, she begins to play with him and after sometime she makes a comment. “Your boys are so adorable, You win father of the year for babysitting” In my head, I’m thinking EXCUSE ME? WTF? WHO BABYSITS THEIR OWN CHILDREN? My niece gets paid pretty well when she babysits. I’m not earning any extra money doing this. So, I politely respond “Nah, these are my kids, just being a dad ya know.” I proceeded to pay and went on with my day.

Both instances had me thinking, why did she say that? Are there actually women out there who hire babysitters to take their children to the doctor in place of the fathers? Sure, if you say a nanny, I understand but the nanny is employed to take care of the child in lieu of either parent. What about families who cannot afford a nanny? Who is responsible then?  If mom isn’t there to feed the boys, who is going to do it? At the time, my sons were 3 and 4. It’s not like they can just get up, hop in the car and go fend for themselves.

I notice, in society we have a stigma about men being fathers to their kids, especially black men. Men who are absent in their child’s life get much more attention than men who are present. Why is that? Why does society focus on dead beat fathers who aren’t doing what they need to do and ignore the great Dad’s in this world. Trust me, I believe that men need to take care of their children and if they refuse, the courts should get involved. It’s a shame single mother households are on the rise. According, to the Census Bureau’s American Families and Living Arrangements, “The second most family arrangement is children living with a single mother, at 23 percent.” However, I also do know these statistics do not mean there isn’t a father in the picture who is handling his business. I do not want to be misunderstood, I CANNOT respect a man who does not take care of his children in all facets of life, socially, emotionally, physically, and financially.

My issue is the labeling of father’s as babysitters when they are taking care of their children.  Sorry, they aren’t babysitters they are DAD’s. My issue is the look I get from people when I tell them my Dad had his grandkids this weekend as if 1) Wow, your dad is in your life? As if because I’m black he shouldn’t be and 2) He actually wants to spend time with his grandkids? Hey, it might be all in my head and it’s my fault my defenses rise. Or we might actually just stop for a second and think about society and the narrative of not only black men as fathers but ALL men and how we sell great fathers short.

It isn’t about constantly providing verbal praise or petting a father’s ego because he is essentially doing what he needs to do, his 24 hour 7 day a week job. It’s about not disrespecting them because they are there. We would never think to call a mother a babysitter, use the term mommy daycare, or call her the nanny of her own children.  So why use the backhanded compliments to describe Dads?

This is Part 1 of a 3 part series of “Men Don’t Win” Part 2 will explore Men and divorce while Part 3 will examine Men and emotions. You can follow me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/MichaelBouciquotmft/ and Instagram @feelpositivelygood. Leave a comment and share your thoughts on the topic.