If Only

There are no more useless words in the English language than the words “If Only.” They consume all the energy we could spend on making our lives better today. “If Only, “I could have”, or “I should have” never change “What is.” Focusing on the future too heavily is also deadly, because it is an invitation to excessive worry. Excessive worry contaminates the present moment more than almost any other activity, primarily because it precludes any possibility of developing our faith in the sense of trusting God more and acknowledging He is in control, and thankfully, not us.

Disaster Distress Helpline Offers Immediate Crisis Counseling

Disaster Distress Helpline Offers Immediate Crisis Counseling

Call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.

samsaThe recent shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, continues to bring out strong emotions across the Nation. The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, can provide immediate counseling to anyone who needs help in dealing with the many issues and problems that might arise from this tragedy.

Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Helpline immediately connects callers to trained and caring professionals from the closest crisis counseling center in the nationwide network of centers. Helpline staff will provide confidential counseling, referrals, and other needed support services.

The Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week national hotline dedicated to providing disaster crisis counseling. The toll-free Helpline is confidential and multilingual, and available for those who are experiencing psychological distress as a result of natural or man-made disasters, incidents of mass violence, or any other tragedy affecting America’s communities.

Our texting service also is available to Spanish speakers. Text “Hablanos” to 66746 for 24/7 emotional support.

TTY for Deaf/Hearing Impaired: 1-800-846-8517

The Helpline also can be accessed online at http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/”>http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/.

Recovering From Holidays Spent With Family

Recovering From Holidays Spent With Family

“Every one has a family of origin and almost no one knows how to cope with them.  You love them; they drive you crazy.  You wish holidaysholidays and phone calls didn’t always end up like your own private reality show where you never get to turn the channel.”

–Andra Medea, author of Going Home Without Going Crazy

Surrounded by our family of origin we, too often, leave our adult lives dazed and confused out on the sidewalk.  We find ourselves in painful old roles, with all the emotional baggage that goes with them.  Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of going home…seeing your old neighborhood and friends; enjoying your mothers cooking and your childhood bed…you enter the front door with a smile on your face, and you’re unprepared for the immediate criticism you get from your parents, or the mockery of your siblings.  As you experience the same reaction that you always do (withdraw? Get angry? Want to cry?) you remember why this pilgrimage has become an annual event no more.

As we begin to address the ways we have been affected by our families and begin to change the ways we relate to others as well as ourselves, we will find ourselves moving from a position of adhering to rigid role(s) to building from the strengths of each of them.  Our family roles have become the framework for our behaviors in all aspects of life.  Our roles affect choices about careers, partners, friends, family and children, co-workers, and the way we feel about ourselves.  Especially the way we feel about ourselves.  These roles have framed our sense of identity.  In recovery we ask, “Who am I, if I am not the role I have played all my life?”

Spending the holidays with family pushes our buttons and re-opens old wounds.  In a dysfunctional family we learn ways of thinking that lead to confusion, disorganization, and inner conflict.  We learn to believe in ideas that have no basis in reality.  Recovery teaches us how to achieve The Five Freedoms In A Healthy Family…

1.)        The freedom to see what I want to see.  (To perceive what is here and now rather than what was in the past, what may be in the future or what should be due to rigid roles.)

2.)        The freedom to feel what I feel.  (Rather than what I should feel.)

3.)        The freedom to know what I know.  (Rather than what I should know.)

4.)        The freedom to be who I am.  (Rather than whom I should be according to family roles.)

5.)        The freedom to want and choose what I want.  (rather than what I should want.) – To pursue my own self-actualization rather than playing a rigid role or always playing it safe.

It is important during the holidays that we surround ourselves equally with people who know and accept us for who we are and not the roles we are used to playing.  This will

make the risk of being different with our family, stepping out of old roles, less traumatic.

Depression Has Many Symptoms

Depression Has Many Symptoms

depression-van-goghThe deaths of a loved one, loss of a job or the ending of a relationship are difficult experiences for anyone to endure.  It is normal for feelings of sadness or grief to develop in response to such stressful situations.

Those experiencing trying times often describe themselves as being ‘depressed’.  But sadness and depression are not the same.  While feelings of sadness will lessen over time, the disorder of depression can continue for months, even years.

Depression is a medical disorder (just like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease) that day after day affects your thoughts, feelings, physical health and behaviors.  Depression has a variety of symptoms, but the most common is a deep feeling of sadness. People with depression may feel tired, listless, hopeless and generally overwhelmed by life.  Simple pleasures are no longer enjoyed, and their world can appear dark and uncontrollable.  Emotional numbness and social isolation are common responses of depressed people.

Depression can strike at any time, but most often appears for the first time during the prime of life, from ages 24-44.  One in four women and one in ten men will confront depression at some point in their lives.

Depression is diagnosed if a person experiences loss of interest in things once enjoyed, or feeling sad, blue or down in the dumps, and five or more of the following symptoms for  at least two consecutive weeks:

  • Feeling slowed down or restless and unable to sit still.
  • Feeling worthless or guilty.
  • Increase or decrease in appetite or weight.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Problems concentrating, thinking, remembering  or making decisions.
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
  • Loss of energy or feeling tired all the time.


With depression, there are often other physical or psychological symptoms, including: *Headaches.  *Other aches and pains.  *Digestive problems.  *Sexual problems.  *Feeling pessimistic or hopeless.  *Being anxious or worried. Fortunately, depression is very treatable.  The majority of people who receive treatment, experience significant improvement, and almost all individuals derive benefit from medical care. Unfortunately, individuals may not recognize their symptoms as signs of an illness, or they may fear reactions of co-workers, friends and family.  As a result, millions of people with depression do not seek treatment and unnecessarily experience problems and needless suffering.

The costs of depression can be severe.  The estimated financial costs of depression in missed days at work, medical expenses, and premature death is $43 billion annually.  If you think you or someone you know is experiencing depression, consult Professional Counseling Associates for information on available resources and treatment options.  An evaluation by a licensed therapist could be your first step in getting help.  Remember, depression is one of the most treatable of all mental illnesses and with proper treatment; individuals can regain a healthy outlook on life.


Sally rolls over in bed, glancing at her alarm clock. “7:45!!” she exclaims while rocket- propelling herself out of bed. Sally has already been late to work twice this month. “I can’t be late again,” she tells herself. Her chest tightens, heart begins to race and her stomach becomes hot and churns; with no time for a shower, Sally races out the door.

Sally has triggered her body’s primordial ‘fight or flight’ response. This response was, at one time, a basic human survival mechanism alerting us to danger and the need to either stay and fight or run for one’s life. Although we have evolved from such a brutal existence – this response is still triggered during high stress situations.

Stress is any change requiring us to adapt. Stress is unavoidable and necessary. Stress is tension…the “I can’t take it” of uneasy emotions. It is a strain, a pressure of life events. Stress can be positive. It can be a source of high energy and increased awareness. Some stress actually improves performance, but too much impedes performance.

What could Sally have done, in the moment, to manage the stress she was experiencing?

When we are stressed, we tend to breathe from our chest in short, shallow breaths. To manage this response, take a break, get quiet somewhere and breathe deeply and slowly from your diaphragm. Get clear about what you can and cannot control. Choose responses (actions, words, etc.) for what you can control. Develop tolerance for what you cannot control.

OK, you are stressed right now…What do you DO?

  • Listen to music
  • Rock in a rocking chair
  • Play with your pet
  • Weed a garden
  • Scream into a pillow
  • Take a bath
  • Watch a movie
  • Paint
  • Pray/meditate
  • Go for a walk
  • Call some-one