Category: Mental Health

Righteous Anger

Righteous Anger

Is Anger ever the right response? Is it possible that the “right” expression of anger, used in the “right” circumstances serves a purpose? Is it possible for anger to be expressed consciously? Jesus was certainly enlightened and conscious, and he became angry. Flipping over tables in the temple, rebuking Peter, and calling the Pharisees hypocrites are a few examples. Are we enlightened and conscious enough to use righteous anger in a productive manner?

Anger Begets Anger

A husband becomes angry with his wife after she is caught lying about her impulsive and out-of- control shopping and spending which is threatening their financial future. The husband has been patient, understanding and supportive up until now. After the husband reviews the facts about the spending, and the financial implications to their family, he begins to outline the consequences of her behavior. In a raised voice he states her actions have changed their relationship. He can no longer trust her, particularly with money. He then sets boundaries and outlines the steps he will take to separate their credit and finances. The wife in-turn becomes angry and defiant and accuses the husband of being controlling, stingy and harsh.

Anger : The Slippery Slope of Emotions

Anger can be a slippery slope because Anger often begets Anger. That does not mean it is wrong, it just means that you should be prepared to accept these consequences. The expression of Righteous Anger can result in a person finally hearing and recognizing the consequences of their actions. However, shame, resentment, defense are common reactions. So, if you must use anger to be heard, be prepared for the emotions that anger may illicit. Jesus probably did not make new friends at the temple after turning over the tables. Also be sure of the motivation for your anger. If you are angry because your ego has been threatened or challenged, then pull back. Acting with anger is probably not the right response. Instead, take a deep breath and a step back. If your anger is about you, it is not righteous. If you act in anger because something bigger than you is under attack, exploited, cheated etc. perhaps using anger productively might be the emotional response that gets through, that is heard, and helps a person to realize the consequences of their actions.

Please follow and like us:

Alternative Treatments for Mental Illness

Alternative Treatments for Mental Illness

Many people have become increasingly apprehensive of traditional healing methods which often rely on prescription medicine as the “go-to” treatment plan. The side effects and risk associated with prescriptions, and the desire for more treatment options has resulted in many patients actively seeking and using a variety of “alternative” modalities. For mental illness, several alternative healing modalities exists such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Reiki, hypnotherapy, Energy Psychology, Meditation, and Visualization. While generally considered “alternative” many of these modalities are the desired treatment for those who suffer with a mental illness.

Placebo, Prescription or Hypnosis

As a clinician, I have always been interested in alternative remedies. That is not to say that I am anti-prescriptions. I am for what works. I am for a reasonable balance between results and risk. If that means placebos, prescriptions, or hypnosis, if a person’s suffering is reduced or diminished then give the modality the benefit of consideration. I have seen many clients who genuinely seem to improve through the right blend of psychotropic medication and counseling.  However, I have also seen alternative treatments used with astounding results.

An Arm and a Leg

Sadly, many alternative methods are disregarded. Although often clinically effective, alternative treatments are often portrayed as “quackery”.  It is important, if not imperative that physicians, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies acknowledge and respect the healing capacities of alternative healing modalities. In fact, we can no longer afford to dismiss clinically sound healing modalities be it traditional or alternative. Estimated cost for mental health care is reaching the proverbial arm and leg threshold. From a purely financial perspective, politicians and tax payers need to stand up and take notice. According to a recent New York Times report, there are approximately 11.5 million Americans who receive mental-health services with an estimated value of $150 billion annually.  I suggest that alternative treatments are no longer just experimental hobbies for the tie-dye wearing hippie living in a commune. I am suggesting that viable, and clinically sound alternative therapies are for the millions of people struggling to find effective treatment.

Please follow and like us:

Jesus and Buddha on Awakening

Awakening

Zen Master Hyon Gak Sunim discusses the spiritual teachings of awakening as presented by Jesus and the Buddha.

Jesus and Buddha both made references to awakening according to Hyon Gak Sunim.  Born in New Jersey, educated at  Yale and raised in a devout Catholic family, Hyon Gak Sunim provides an opportunity with which to understand Buddha teachings through a lens of American culture. Perhaps because of his background Hyon Gak often draws attention to the similarities found in the spiritual teachings of Jesus and Buddha.

Jesus and Buddha

The definition of Buddha is a person who has become enlightened or awake. Becoming awake is one of the central themes of Buddhism. If you accept this definition then Jesus and Buddha were both enlightened spiritual teachers. Hyon Gak Sunim references Jesus discussing enlightenment with his disciples. In the book of Mark, Jesus speaks of “having eyes yet not seeing” and “having ears and not hearing” and is speaking of a non-awakened state.

Right Response

If we wake up what do we wake up to? I believe we wake up to TRUTH. We see things (ourselves, situations, others) as they truly are. If we see things as they truly are we foster understanding. Following understanding we are able to respond with the right response, not a response formed from delusions and ignorance. Given the complexity and problems of our world, the right response is needed and needed now. Environmental stewardship, conscious consumption, care of the elderly, caring for the ill and weak, responding to crime all need a right response, or at least a “right-er” response. The right response is needed not only for global and social concerns but also individual concerns. If we open our eyes to see, and use are ears to  hear, how would we care for our own suffering?  With more compassion, gentleness, letting go perhaps. May we all be following a path which fosters individual and global awakening.

Please follow and like us:

Virtue and Vice

Virtue

A practice that is common to all major religions is to act with virtue. In many situations it is easy to recognize the path which develops our virtue. If you are not charged for a product or service that you have received, and do not reveal the omission you are stealing. If you lie to manipulate a situation or person, you have not acted with virtue. Sometimes the path to virtue is quite clear, and most of us could probably agree on what would or would not be a virtuous response.

Moral Dilemmas

Some situations are more complicated and present moral dilemmas. An example may include manipulating a powerful person who you know steals from the poor. Would telling a lie to stop a financial predator be more or less virtuous than attempting to protect the financially vulnerable? I don’t know. I suppose I would have to know the extent of the good or bad consequences which may arise from each of these options. I would have to try and remove any part of ego which may be impacting my decision such as strong emotions, impulses, or memories. In these situations, perhaps if you respond in a manner which brings your closer to your values, you are acting with virtue.

Virtue Is Good For Mental Health

Not only is virtue and integrity a common denominator to most spiritual paths, it is also necessary for our mental health. It is not possible to kill, lie, steal, hurt or harm others and be happy. Buddhist teachings say that “Living a virtuous life makes the heart peaceful”. Non virtuous behaviors and thoughts grow the unhealthy conditions of guilt, shame, anxiety, and hate. Living a life that propagates inner-hell and turmoil has a price. It robs us from living as a human. Protecting our virtue allows us to feel proud, at ease, effective, and joyful. Not only is having reverence for all human life the right thing to do, it provides a payback. Your virtue and happiness.

Please follow and like us:

Pursuit of Happiness

Foster a pattern of thinking that takes in the sacred, astonishing and miraculous.

Happiness

In my last blog I discussed depression, and the magnitude of this modern day epidemic.  It seems only natural to follow up with thoughts on happiness. I wish the diagnosis of happiness would reach epidemic proportions. What can we do to foster joy and happiness? Despite the complicated world we live in, I do believe that happiness is a state of being that can be fostered. We can help our happiness to grow.

What is Your Persuasion?

Some of the happiest people I know are of the “glass half-full” persuasion. They are consciously aware of the good. They do not focus on the weeds in the garden. Their focus is on the flower. Maybe “glass half-full” comes naturally. If not, fostering positive-ness can increase a sense of happiness and well-being. Instead of focusing on the negative, spend some time with the positive. It may difficult. Perhaps a lifetime of “glass half-empty” thinking has been in the making for quite awhile.

Take in the Positive

Our patterns of thinking and our habits become stronger with each reinforcement. But, you can foster a perspective that begins to notice the positive. Instead of what is wrong, what is right? Name it. List it. Be with gratitude and appreciation. Notice the things in your world that are sacred, astonishing and miraculous. Spend some time with the positive. Spend even more time with it. Foster the pattern of thinking that takes in the positive, and foster your own happiness.

Please follow and like us:

Depression – A Modern Day Epidemic

Depression by the numbers

During the 1950s if you wanted to track the number of people who were disabled from a mental health disorder  you counted the population that resided in state mental hospitals. Today you  count the number of social security disability checks that are received due to a mental illness. Robert Whitaker tracks the shocking rise of mental illness in his fascinating book Anatomy Of An Epidemic.   According to Whitaker, in 1955 there were just over 38,000 people hospitalized in state mental hospitals due to depression. Today, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability for people ages fifteen to forty-five in the United States.  According to NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) depression affects 15 million adults. Of those diagnosed, 58% or nine million people, are “severely impaired”, and considered disabled by depression.

Subjective criteria

The increased  number of people (including children) diagnosed with depression in the past few decades, makes me think that depression has reached epidemic proportions. Some people believe that depression is diagnosed more frequently today because health care professionals have become better at recognizing the symptoms. I agree that health care professionals continue to make improvements in diagnosing mental health problems. However, the clinical threshold for diagnosing depression, as well as other mental health conditions, is arguably subjective at best.  For example, why is the clinical threshold for depression defined by two weeks? What if you are sad for five weeks, or only ten days?  Is the person who is sad, officially mentally ill on day 14 ? More importantly, what if “sadness” follows a job loss, home foreclosure, or the loss of a pet? Is the sad person who just lost their job, and feeling depressed, experiencing a normal reaction following a difficult time in their lives? Have you been sad for two weeks following a hardship? I have. Are we all depressed? I think it is important that we view ourselves and one another from a strengths perspective and not an illness perspective. The implications of mis-diagnosing or over diagnosing starts us down a path with serious health implications including wrong treatment for the times in our lives that we are perhaps most vulnerable.

The intention of this blog is to share general personal ideas or comments that relate to everyday personal and interpersonal challenges. It is not intended as a substitute for mental-health counseling, including individual, couples, family, or group counseling. Readers should not rely on any part of the content of this blog as a substitute for professional counseling. If the reader needs professional counseling advice they should seek the services of a licensed professional, and only rely upon the advice of a licensed professional with whom the reader has a professional relationship. Further, any comments or postings made by others do not constitute my opinion, and such opinions may vary from my own.

Please follow and like us:

Emotional Health

A Mindful State of Mind

Emotional health can be greatly improved when we practice mindfulness skills. Earlier I discussed the art of staying in the present moment  to sustain mindfulness. Understanding the nature of impermanence also invites a mindful state of mind.  After all, all things are impermanent. The feeling you have right now will soon be changing. Sadness may give way to joy, which may give way to contentment, which may give way to sadness. The thought you are having right now will soon be replaced by another thought. Your body is also changing in this very moment. All of our material possessions are impermanent by nature.

Emotional Regulation

When we keep the idea of impermanence in our consciousness our emotional health becomes better regulated. We cease to feel disappointment when the things we want, crave and desire come to an end. We also realize that our suffering will eventually evolve, in some way. (Hopefully the evolution will result in growth, but this is dependent on how we cope, our resources,  our personality, impulses  etc.)

Cling Much?

A reflection on impermanence gives rise to an understanding of how clinging can be detrimental to our emotional health. An attempt, assumption, or hope that something will remain the same is a delusion. Likewise an assumption or hope that something will remain the same is a delusion. These delusions gives rise to emotions such as sadness, disappointment, resentment and anger.

The Merge

When we are present and aware of this particular moment we also realize that this moment is unique and special just as it is.  And when presence and the true nature of impermanence are merged together in our consciousness, moment to moment, our emotional health, I believe, will become infused with a greater sense of peace, understanding and contentment.

with blessings – diane

The intention of this blog is to share general personal ideas or comments that relate to everyday personal and interpersonal challenges. It is not intended as a substitute for mental-health counseling, including individual, couples, family, or group counseling. Readers should not rely on any part of the content of this blog as a substitute for professional counseling. If the reader needs professional counseling advice they should seek the services of a licensed professional, and only rely upon the advice of a licensed professional with whom the reader has a professional relationship. Further, any comments or postings made by others do not constitute my opinion, and such opinions may vary from my own.

 

Please follow and like us:

Emotional Health

Mindfully in Control

Emotional health can be impacted by many factors. Some of these factors may be outside of our control. However, much of our emotional health is very much in our control. When we are feeling depressed, anxious, or angry our emotional health is suffering, and we feel out of control. We then react to our environment with irrational behaviors, thoughts and impulses. As I expressed in a previous blog post, attending to our emotional health need not be predicated on extravagant or expensive expenditures of money or time. Joy, playfulness, spontaneity and peace can be found in simple pleasures such as observing a beautiful sunset, taking a peaceful walk, playing with your pet, listening to music, or laughing with your partner.

As Sir Paul once said “Let it be”

Emotional health can be greatly enhanced by learning mindfulness skills. One important component of mindfulness skills includes learning to be in the present moment. Observing the wonder of a beautiful sunset is lost on us when we are constantly in our heads criticizing, analyzing and comparing.  A critique such as: “The sunset would be better with more pink, and less orange” is not allowing yourself to enjoy the sunset as it is. “The sunset is beautiful but not as pretty as the one last week” is comparing. How often does evaluative comparisons hinder our wellbeing? To enjoy the sunset, let it be, and allow yourself to be.  If we allow ourselves to just observe what is, without attaching a thought, analysis or critique of what is before us, our emotions, quite effortlessly are calmed and we feel more at peace.

Emotional Health In This moment

When we are engaged mindfully, we make space for emotional control and emotional health. The presence of mindfulness exist in a space by itself. Mindfulness cannot exist in the same space with re-living the past. Mindfulness cannot exist in the same space as worrying about the future. Being in the present moment is one of the core skills of mindfulness practice that lends itself to wellness and emotional health.

with blessings – diane

The intention of this blog is to share general personal ideas or comments that relate to everyday personal and interpersonal challenges. It is not intended as a substitute for mental-health counseling, including individual, couples, family, or group counseling. Readers should not rely on any part of the content of this blog as a substitute for professional counseling. If the reader needs professional counseling advice they should seek the services of a licensed professional, and only rely upon the advice of a licensed professional with whom the reader has a professional relationship. Further, any comments or postings made by others do not constitute my opinion, and such opinions may vary from my own.

 

Please follow and like us:

Mental Health Wellness

Welcome to my blog

My name is Diane Chrestman, and I am a mental-health counselor, with a private practice in Suwanee GA. I serve individuals and families who are suffering due to emotional and cognitive difficulties, trauma and complicated relationships. My intentions are for the comments, observations and ideas that are shared in this blog to move us all in the direction of peace, joy, and awareness.

Let’s take a look at the statistics

According to the Food and Drug Administration the number of people disabled by a mental health illness has doubled since 1987. In 2007, it is estimated that 1 in every 76 Americans suffers from a mental-health illness. Do we have a mental-health epidemic in our country, community, families? I think that we do.

Mental-health professionals have many different opinions as to the cause of this startling rise in mental health illnesses, and I will likely discuss some of the various hypothesis in future blogs.

Whatever the causes may be, I believe that an equally important facet of the discussion is identifying and promoting prevention measures which help us achieve and maintain mental health wellness. I believe several options are available to us all and that including mental-health wellness activities should become part of our daily health routine.

Promoting good mental health means preventative measures

Prevention measures can be simple and inexpensive. One of the most important steps we can take is to make a commitment to our mental-health. We make jokes about needing a “mental health day” but it seems by the time we make this comment we are at the end of our rope.

Good mental health requires time, be patient

I am convinced that if you want to feel emotionally balanced, centered, grounded, and happy, you must routinely attend to your mental health. Being, remaining, or becoming mentally healthy can take time and commitment, just as eating healthy may require a little more time and planning. Committing to your mental health also takes the right amount of effort. One 10 minute attempt at meditation, will probably not realize any long-lasting improvements in concentration abilities.

Another reason to love exercise…

Exercise is another (free) mental health wellness activity which has been linked to relieving depression and insomnia. Meditation is a particularly powerful tool that has been shown to be beneficial in relieving a host of mental health issues such as emotional regulation, reducing anxiety and panic symptoms, and improving concentration. Making time to be with the people we love is also good for our mental health.

Or get creative

Expressing yourself in a creative manner is immensely therapeutic. Try picking up a sketch pad, paintbrush or even arranging flowers, sticks or whatever you can find outside. Try something!! Make a conscious effort and commitment to do something today, the rest of the week, the rest of the month.

But in the end, the first step is commitment

Take care for your mental health. To deepen the experience, make your intentions conscious. Say to yourself that you are making a commitment to (fill in the blank – exercise, meditate, be creative etc) because you are important and committed to your mental health. Let’s do it!! (I feel inspired just writing about it).

With blessings – diane

Please follow and like us:

Coping With Christmas

Contrasting Christmas dinner at your house with the Christmas dinner portrayed in the Hallmark movies can be depressing and …

Mindful Reactions to Hate Speech

The current political climate continues to create a culture of division that has our collective feeling tone hovering in …

drawing of brain with caption energy psychology

Energy Psychology – Fast & Effective Treatment

When I began studying modalities of energy psychology I was skeptical. The techniques and interventions were strange. But …