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As Man Thinketh, So Shall It Be

This is the post excerpt.

How do you envision your life? How far could you fly should no obstacle be in your way? What if your obstacles are not obstacles? What if …. Your obstacle is the way you think of your obstacles. Identifying your thinking blocks is a critical factor in obtaining the life you envision for yourself. Not all thoughts are accurate and true and can be unhelpful and unhealthy; preventing you from from living a life of fulfillment. Your inner voice is so habitual and unconscious, you may not even know what you are thinking, therefore, know how to correct them.Thoughts, feelings and behaviors can be changed in one part of the interlooping cycle. We can change the way we think, or change what we do and any change will change the entire cycle.

TIPS

  • Identify your thinking style COGNITIVE_0 (1)
  • Combat negative thinking patterns
  • Use affirmations
  • Visualize
  • Plan
  • Do IT!

Think ABout Your Thinking,

Megan B. Andry, MA, LPC

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My Invisible Scar

She sits my 4 year old self down and she says, “There are other kids here that I need to spend time with and you need to play with the other kids”. “ You shouldn’t follow me around like that”.

This person,

my safe person,

the only person I feel  safe with at this place,

this daycare,

this daycare that my parents dropped me off to every morning.

But what would I do now? Who would keep me safe now? When she was here I felt safe. I felt happy. I felt love. When she was here, he did not do those things to me.

Those things that I did not understand. Things no one else did to me. Those things that made me feel shy. Those things that made me feel sad. Those things that made me feel icky.

 

 

Well, Ok. If you insist. I won’t bother you anymore.

All I have to rely on is me.

I don’t need anybody anyway.

#MeToo #SAAM

Sexual assault which includes physical, verbal and emotional acts of sexual injury creates an invisible scar that one cannot see. The survivor has to live with this invisible scar on a daily basis on both a conscious and subconscious level. It impacts the mental, emotional, social aspects of their wellbeing creating permanent bruises and healed over scabs that can so easily be re-injured by a look, a phrase, a smell, a memory, or an act all so subtle from the unsuspecting offender but so deeply impactful to the survivor. All in the experience of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (for more information read previous article regarding Hurricane Katrina’s PTSD for detailed symptoms).

That injury which occurs at age 4 becomes an irremovable and irreplaceable schema and narrative that cannot be reframed in a healthy manner at 14, 24, 34, 44, 54 or 64. It becomes an invisible scar that surpasses all developmental stages across a survivor’s lifespan. It can be dealt with, felt, explored, and accepted but it can never be removed without the marking of an invisible scar to not be seen but only felt.

When dealing with sexual assault, Self-care becomes a Primary rule of Survival of the Fittest. Self-care is commonly used but seldom understood at its truest intent.  Self-care can be best explained as doing what is good for you and to you, not causing any harm to yourself. Self-care means learning, and actively working on and utilizing strong boundaries that the violator taught you, you didn’t have, deserve to have or were allowed to have.  Self-care means surrounding yourself with safe people in safe environments that will not further irritate your invisible scar. Self-care means doing and thinking what is in alignment with your truest self, your core, your soul. Self-care means speaking from your truth. Self-care means honoring the process that this is a journey, your journey. A journey that will not look like anyone else’s because it belongs to only you and you have never done this before.

 

With Honor and Patience of My Invisible Scar and Yours,

Megan, LPC

Wonderwoman. Superwoman. Tiredwoman.

As women, we have many roles to fill. Wife, Mother, Single Mother, Employee, Daughter, Sister, Friend. All of these roles fighting for priority with a sense of urgency. As Mother’s are designed as emotional creatures, we are driven beyond our potentials and capabilities in the name of Love. We accomplish more in one day than most do in a week, because we are pouring out consistently and daily in multiple roles. We are spread so thin that we feel we have no choice but to sacrifice ourselves, because we no longer consider ourselves a priority.

The oxymoron is that when we put ourselves last and continue to Wonderwoman/ Superwoman through the day, we deplete the very resources that are needed to Wonderwoman/ Superwoman. We begin pouring from an empty cup, being stretched thin and something, somewhere or someone suffers and we transform into Tiredwoman. As much strength as love provides us with, we can not be everything to everybody, everywhere at all times.

We fight with guilt and regret when we do something for ourselves and/ or by ourselves creating a discomfort that perpetuates the cycle of self sacrificing. However, it is of vital importance to fill our buckets to replenish ourselves, the way we fill our loved ones buckets. We have to quell the feelings of guilt and regret utilizing the inner dialogue that it is in both our best interests and our families best interest to sustain ourselves so that we can continue to fulfill our roles effeciently and effectively. We need avenues of rest and recovery, stress management, hobbies, play, enjoyment and pleasure, loving and supportive relationships, balanced life and healthy boundaries.

Sounds great in theory but where do you fit it in? How do you find the time, the place, the funds? This balancing act is not for the faint of heart and requires consistent practice, focus and rearrangement. But it is possible.

Here are some tips to simultaneously balance your roles in life in the midst of a busy schedule with due diligence to your individual personhood.

1) Use drive time to listen to calming music or affirmation cd’s.

2) Listen to binaural music ( youtube) during your work day.

3) Use natural sunlight as much as possible if your office or workplace has windows.

4) Stare into nature,  choose and observe the details of an object for 3-5 minutes nonstop.

5) Utilize aromatherapy with a diffuser in your home space and office space.

6) Pick 3 favorite affirmations. Post on your desk, computer and in your car.

7) Walk during breaks for 10 minutes to exert physical stress and release endorphins.

8) Create a dream team of 2-3 safe trustworthy reciprocal relationships for support. Release stressful relationships.

9) Investigate virtual counseling and schedule with a therapist while at work during your lunch hour once a week.

10) Use bath time as spa time. Create your own spa setting with bath salts, herbs, essential oils and calming light display that changes colors while listening to calming music.

11) Create habit of snuggle time with your children while reading to them to bond. Oxytocin is produced and released while bonding, cuddling, hugging or touching someone you love.

12) Create habit of snuggle time with significant other for same reasons mentioned in 11.

13) Watch movies or tv shows that illicit euphoric, hopeful feelings.

14) Hydrate with water, eat as much raw foods as possible, eliminate unhealthy and harmful habits.

15) Identify things you enjoyed about the day on your way to sleep.

16) Pick one fun enjoyable thing and do it a minimum of once a month.

17) Utilize apps such as Pacifica as a journal to express your thoughts and identify feelings while waiting in lines.

Implement these tips one by one. As one become a habit, introduce another. Repeat.

Fill and Replenish your bucket,

Megan, LPC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New-Normal

20626333_1666182570059085_1871934018651626358_oAt this time of chaos, stress, and trauma, most of you have resorted to your habitual, fallback defense mechanisms of survival. For some it’s fight, for some it’s flight, and for some it’s freeze. This is commonly referred to as  fight or flight response. Fight or flight response is triggered by a stressful or traumatizing event. When we go into fight or flight, your body is designed to release chemicals  to create inertia, to make you get up and move. If we do not have the proper tools and mechanisms to resolve the stressor, we go into stress overload which further exacerbates the negative impact on our over all well being and our daily functioning.

Houston, Harvey has just introduced you to a MAJOR traumatizing event. And the chaos of the aftermath further compounds the trauma and stress. It is quite normal to experience the signs identified as Post Traumatic Sress Disorder ( See Post Traumatic (Stress) Katrina Disorder).

Of course, you’re stressed dealing with loss of possessions, the news that your insurance policy will not cover the damages, schools, buildings and roads being closed. Work being temporarily closed impacting your earnings, two hour traffic jams, lack of overall safety and sesecurity. You feel as though you have fallen into the hole of Alice in Wonderland were all is strange and new. This is the perfect impetus to catapult you into Depression, Anxiety and a range of uncomfortable overwhelming feelings and illnesses.

It is of the utmost importance, that you utilize healthy coping skills or find a therapist to teach you new coping mechanisms besides fight, flight or freeze and countless other unhealthy coping skills.  The next few months or years, you and your city will be rebuilding and transforming into a New-Normal.

In the midst of dealing with Post Traumatic Stress, here are 10 tips that will help you cope as you adjust to the process of rebuilding and transforming into your New Normal.

1) Ask lots of questions. Share what you learn. Consult with someone who has been through an equally catastrophic natural disaster and seek guidance, even mentorship. Information is key. Resources are available.

2) Research and stay abreast of local news. Set up alerts, emails, apps etc that will provide you with information easily and accessibly.

3) Know that the items damaged or loss are just that, items. Yes, you spent a lifetime acquiring them. But purposely make a list of priorities and read and reread them as often as necessary. I assure you “things” will not be in your top 3.

4) Be gentle and compassionate with yourself. You have not done this before. You have embarked on uncharted territories. You do not have a compass and you may wax and wane with the tide until you get accustomed to rebuilding your new normal.

5) Make sure your contractors are reputable, insured and registered with the state as to prevent fraud and poor workmanship. Ask for references and CALL them.

6) Maintain as much routine as you possibly can, if you have children. Be extra generous with your touch, hugs and comfort. Touch by someone you love releases endorphins and oxytocin which calms our bodies.

7) Allow yourself to feel and sit with all the uncomfortable feelings. You will experience the grieving process of your old life. The only way out is through.

8) Express your feelings to a friend, therapist, support group, or journal.

9) Exert the stress chemicals coursing through your body in some form of physical activity. Even cry. Crying is designed to release stress chemicals.

And finally the most important one:

10) Adjust your mindset. You will be filled with negative and anxious what ifs, shoulda, coulda, woulda’s. Bring focus to the here and now to rebuilding and transforming a new life. Optimism, silver linings and reframing are crucial to giving you momentum. It is not what happens to us but our perspective of what happens to us. As thoughts excite feelings which excite actions. If you want productive actions to rebuild your life, think positively intentionally. (See As Man Thinketh, So Shall it Be)

No. Houston will never be the same.

No. You will never be the same.

 

Houston and You will be a New Houston and a New You with a New Normal.

Katrina Survivor and Hou-Dat,

Megan, LPC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“THE” Anniversary

 

Dear Houston,

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10208139289315007&id=1684052151

 

Image of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans August, 2005 vs Image of Hurricane Harvey Houston, Tx August, 2017

From a Hou’Dat,

Megan, LPC

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

 

To Thy Own Self Be True

To often when we hear self care, we immediately think about getting our hair and nails done or exercising and eating healthier, having regular check ups or quitting a harmful habit. While,these are intricate components of self care, these only scrape the bare surface of what self care is and refers to the physical component of your well-being only.

When I refer to self care, I’m asking you, “Do you take care of your mind, body, and soul throughout your physical, emotional, and mental components of your well-being in your individual and systemic world; your world in which you interact with, within the many roles in which you perform?”

That’s a loaded question with alot of bang for its buck!

Here are some questions to help guide you in deeper introspection of your daily self care habits and maintenance.

1) Do I feed, groom, exercise, receive and give touch, and rest my physical body on a consistent basis?

2) Do I challenge myself and take steps to achieve my personal goals and grow into my skills?

3) Do I interact, offer support, and rely on 1, 2 or 3 adults I can trust?

4) Do I feel heard in my primary relationships? Am I speaking up in a respectful way that people can hear me?

5) Do I set time aside to express myself in a creative way that feels good and playful to me?

6) Do I practice gentleness and grace with myself? Do I accept responsibility for my imperfections?

7) Do I feel that I am contributing to my family and my world in a positive, purposeful, meaningful way?

8) Do I hold myself and others accountable in ways that promote growth for all?

The first step to any change is assessment to increase self awareness. Now that you have asked the questions. Here are 10 self care tips to get started on your re-arrangement journey of your Self care plan to enjoy a more fulfulling life and health and emotional and mental state.

1) Choose safe people.

2) Say No if it is not in your best interest and causes more harm than good in your life and/ or theirs.

3) Do one thing that you love everyday.

4) Play more often.

5) Find opportunities to give or volunteer.

6) Express your thoughts and feelings in a calm, respectful and resolved manner.

7) Know that others’ actions are a reflection of them, DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONAL.

8) Know that your best is different everyday.

9) Learn something new that always interested you.

10) Know that you are Love, You are Loved, and you are Loving.

 

A dose a day, Keeps Mental Health at bay.

 

Take one and call me in the morning,

Megan, LPC

Mbatheartofdialogue.com

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

 

Post Traumatic (Stress) Katrina Disorder

The members of New Orleans have been traumatized by the event and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We live daily with this trauma without any relief and sense of safety and security. Daily we refer to life as “Before Katrina” and “After Katrina”, signifying a significant bookmark in our lives. Living with this trauma impacts our overall sense of wellbeing and quality of life.

Research indicates that in the African American minority community, we do not seek treatment due to lack of financial resources, lack of knowledge of resources, lack of trust towards the medical practitioner, the stigma attached to seeking counseling and the lack of knowledge of the overall benefits that counseling has on our overall well-being, including mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.

Let’s clarify what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is according to the Diagnostic Statistic Manual- V, commonly referred to as DSM-V by practitioners. PTSD occurs when we have been exposed to a single traumatizing event or a series of traumatizing events. Those adverse traumatizing events consists of abuse, neglect, domestic violence, death of a loved one, witnessing or being involved in an accident or killing, war/violence, and of course NATURAL DISASTER. When it has occurred within 1- 4 weeks ago, it is considered Acute. When it occurred over 4 weeks ago, it is considered Chronic. When a series of adverse events that are considered traumatizing occur throughout the course of your life, it is considered Complex. Symptoms of PTSD are as followed:

1)Re-experiencing symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts

Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. The symptoms can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing symptoms.

2) Avoidance symptoms include:

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience
  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event

Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.

3)Arousal and reactivity symptoms include:

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Having angry outbursts

Arousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic events. These symptoms can make the person feel stressed and angry. They may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

4) Cognition and mood symptoms include:

  • Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
  • Distorted feelings like guilt or blame
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

New Orleans’ August 5th flood has retriggered the effects of the traumatizing event and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina catapulting us into Complex PTSD. However, the flood occurred less than 4 weeks ago indicating that the critical time to seek intervention is now, in order to return to a sense of security, safety and overall feeling of well being.

If lack of knowledge of resources or lack of finances are your obstacles,  all is not lost! There are resources in the New Orleans community that provides therapeutic treatment to Medicaid, Medicare and no-insurance clients such as Excelth, Inc. (Contact me for other resources) SAMSA has a Disaster Distress hotline that can be reached by phone  or text.  https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms triggered by August 5th flood, it is time to seek outside help. IT IS OK, NOT TO BE OK!

  • Common warning signs of emotional distress include:
    • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
    • Pulling away from people and things
    • Having low or no energy
    • Having unexplained aches and pains, such as constant stomachaches or headaches
    • Feeling helpless or hopeless
    • Excessive smoking, drinking, or using drugs, including prescription medications
    • Worrying a lot of the time; feeling guilty but not sure why
    • Thinking of hurting or killing yourself or someone else
    • Having difficulty readjusting to home or work life

 

As a Community, we have to take care of ourselves in the ways that we clean our homes, wash our cars, sweep our porches! We have a civil duty to teach our children by example to take care of their mental well being to promote a legacy of well-being.

Going to the Doctor, is a necessity.

Going to the Dentist, is a necessity.

Going to a Counselor, is a necessity!

Take Care of You,

You Only Get One You,

Megan B. Andry, M.A., LPC

Flood Aug 5th