Is it time for help?

Only you can determine if now is the time to get professional help (for yourself or a child.) Your doctor, a family member, or a trusted friend might say so. They could be right and it can be helpful to get “outside” feedback from those you trust. Still, we are so accustomed to “doing it ourselves” or feel we “should” be able to handle this or figure it out that this strong belief can muddy a relatively simple decision.

Definitely get help if you or someone in your care is experiencing or expressing suicidal or homicidal thoughts no matter how “serious” you think they are or are not. Definitely get help if you or someone in your care is hurting her/him-self in any manner, no matter how “mild” it seems. Definitely get help if you recognize that you or someone in your care is hurting other people verbally, emotionally, or physically.

That said, sometimes it’s not that clear. After all, there are multiple things to READ and try on the internet or in books that are self-help and promise a cure. And you haven’t yet tried everything! Plus, you’re resourceful, smart, and have gotten this far.

So when is it time?

Any one (or more) of the following over a span of two weeks or more mean it’s worth finding a real, live professional to lend a hand:

  • your situation keeps you awake at night or
  • wakes you up in the middle of the night or
  • is on your mind first thing in the morning
  • your work feels significantly more stressful than normal or
  • you’ve received feedback that your personal life is interfering at work
  • a friend or colleague has tried to end a conversation when you need to talk
  • you don’t take pleasure in things you used to enjoy
  • your children become depressed or anxious
  • your children develop stomach aches or act out at school
  • you’ve been researching solutions on the internet
  • you purchased a self-help book or people are “gifting” them to you
  • people are giving you (solicited and unsolicited) advice about how to manage
  • anything you’re experiencing is uncomfortable enough to make it significant to you
  • you have a question about your specific situation (or a bunch of them)

Life happens to all of us. Loss happens to all of us. Unfortunately, you don’t get a gold star for handling it better than someone else or for NOT asking for help. You also won’t get a gold star for including therapy or coaching as your go-to resource.

You’ll get more than a gold star and you’ll get it sooner.

The rewards of good “therapy” are intrinsic: reversal of symptoms, access to a warm, knowledgeable, and specifically helpful human, validation of your process, skills to manage in the best ways known to man, an ongoing resource for any future disruption.

It can be risky. Growth can be painful. Change is hard. Trust is hard for some of us. Meeting someone new and sharing wounds is hard for nearly everyone. Pain is pain. Grief surely sucks no matter its shape or source.

The way through is not always simple or easy, yet it’s worth trying to find the right trained person.

Your resources of time, energy, and (probably) money are limited, so you want to know you will connect with someone you 1. like  2. trust and 3. know is skilled to help in your situation.

I wish I could wave a magic wand and help you skip to the perfect connection. (If you didn’t already see this, I’ve provided some quick guidance here with links to a couple other articles.)

I know I’m not the right person for everyone -though I wish I could be- so it’s also not a matter of me just saying, “come here; I can help.” But if you hear me saying that to you, well, then do come here and let’s connect!

Most importantly, if any of the above list fits your situation, then it IS time to find a professional someone to help.

Before you date again

What are the first things you want to know before jumping back into the pool of “plenty of fish?”

How to stay away from the slimy, stinky ones? Maybe you’re just wishing you could skip all the painful parts.

If you’re angry at all the advice about “wait a year” and “go find yourself first,” I’m here to tell you that is soooo normal! You should be angry! Who is this person telling you what you need to do? (here’s an example of a checklist for becoming self-actualized before dating again)

You are in pain!

It’s just overwhelming thinking about all the obstacles you must first overcome before you are going to get to the relationship you really want again! If it can ever work, that is!

Besides, when pain is your reality, a year feels like FOR-ehhhhh-VERRRRRR. (Sandlot, anyone?)

I bet you get equally annoyed when people answer your earnest question “when IS the right time to re-enter the dating world?” with “only you can answer that question.” That’s no help!

I might scandalize hoards of people, but truly, let’s cut to the chase about a few concerns:

Either you are wondering when it will EVER be an “appropriate” time to HAVE SEX again, (based on your values and this strangely shifting dating scene) or you may just want to stay away from any potential mates altogether.

Maybe you feel both ways in between secretly, literally, crying in your coffee. Maybe it’s easy enough finding willing sex partners but that has nothing to do with finding the committed relationship you actually want.

Everyone knows that late at night, in the cold dark of your single-occupied bed is THE TIME, no matter what, when you come painfully face-to-face with the reality of your new single-hood.

Have I said that sucks? It does!

Rather than assure you by saying “you will figure this out; you’ll know when the time is right” or give you a list of MUST-DO-FIRSTS, here are a couple of things that RIGHT NOW can be a small comfort.

  1. Keep in mind your pain is real. It’s normal. It IS painful. Oh man, it hurts! Sometimes it hurts to breathe!
  2. Put your pain in perspective. Humans get to experience pain. It is part of what makes us human. That said… (don’t get mad at me for this one-it comes from a really smart, sweet, older woman who had learned a thing or two by the time I heard her share it…)
  3. Tell yourself the truth about your pain: It’s not going to kill you; it’s only your own pain. Make it a sweet, soothing “mantra”, if you like. “It’s not going to kill me; it’s only my own pain.” (Bonus nugget of truth that helps lots of people: when you learn to experience your own pain instead of taking on everyone else’s or trying to AVOID IT,- through busy-ness or  denial- there’s actually LESS of it.) “It’s just my own pain.” Try that one on for size.
  4.  On the practical side, make your bed a sanctuary of COMFORT. Get new sheets and bedding, new pillows that DON’T smell like or remind you of your ex-lover. Make it YOUR space. And then sleep in the middle, thrash about with abandon and SPREAD OUT, man! if you need to cry there, go ahead. (This works for women  AND MEN!)
  5. Be grateful. Seriously. Count whatever you can. No matter what your spiritual approach and even if you don’t really engage one, noticing the good not only multiplies it (you notice MORE!) but it increases your daily satisfaction.

It’s not rocket science. Simple things can make a big difference. Of course, you know I’m going to tell you to find a skilled, trustworthy counselor or coach. Of course!

Depression is a wily snake

Maybe you know you’re depressed.

Could be your doctor gave you the PHQ9 and expressed concern at your result. Could be people in your life have noticed a change and wondered aloud.

It’s also just as possible you “feel uneasy” are “not yourself” or are “just blah” and it may never have occurred to you this feeling has a diagnosis, much less a treatment!

All around the globe, common depression symptoms include low moods, sadness, crying, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping, but that’s just for starters. Other symptoms (like decreased concentration, illogical thinking, or physical symptoms) and the very nature of depression can make it one wily snake to pin down!

(Another tricky thing about symptoms is they can be shared by bipolar, major depressive episode, or chronic depression as well as other maladies and it can take a trained professional time make an accurate, specific diagnosis…but enough talk about symptoms!)

What sufferers want is to feel better. Duh!

Nearly all practitioners, whether medical personnel, psychologists, counselors, or social workers, agree there are physical factors involved in mood disorders which- in the VAST majority of cases- will respond well to medication even if some trial and change is needed.

Let me be clear: a good practitioner won’t force meds on you even when they heartily believe in them. A good practitioner will take the time to explore your reasoning or any worry you might have. You’ll make a decision together and she’ll continue to respect your position and concerns each step of the way. (For 50 signs of a good therapist, read here.)

The good news is there is MUCH you and a therapist can explore as additional ways to feel better, cope better, and hopefully GET better. Therapy is no guarantee your depression will be cured or that life will no longer hurt. Good, productive therapy aims to point you toward solution and support you as you walk through the challenges. Just having that support can mean a significant improvement in your life!

Yes, you could tough it out some more. You could just try the meds your doctor prescribed. Or you can do more to feel better sooner. And no matter what your current state of mind is telling you, the TRUTH is, you deserve a good life.

This Buzzfeed article makes some good points about the downward-spiral and vicious-cycle-perceptions that keep people trapped in depression. Gently intervening in these “thinking distortions” takes the safety and skill of a trustworthy therapist.

Of course I’m going to promote therapy as a solution. I’m definitely biased toward therapy! I’ve seen it make a positive difference again and again and again and again and again…

You get what I’m saying.

If you have energy to do just one thing this week, let it be reaching our to connect with a good therapist. If you’ve landed here and finished reading, it means you’re already well on your way.

midlife love couple

Midlife Dating, Mating, and Relating

What makes Midlife Love so challenging?

You’d think midlife love would be a piece of cake. After all, we don’t have the same naivete we possessed as young 20-somethings just starting out. Now that we’re a little older, we’re supposed to be wiser. Yet, honestly, for many of us, we’re not sure we actually know what we’re doing.

We might feel wounded by life and the reality of circumstances. And we’re afraid the landscape has changed in ways we don’t understand. Maybe we think we’ve never been good at this stuff. Maybe there’s a long, awful track record of heartache and pain. Maybe it has ALMOST become easier to give up than to actually try for what we want.

Love and attachment, the forming of bonds, romance, sex, relationship… often a mix of fulfillment and pain. It doesn’t matter how old we get, romantic love is still a huge factor in life satisfaction.

It’s not too late!

Even though you don’t need the census bureau to tell you there are scads of single women and men (of all preferences btw) still longing for love, let’s start with some facts:

In Cincinnati alone there are 120 thousand men and 120 thousand women.  About 61 thousand of each have never married. About 13 thousand men and 16.5 thousand women are divorced. Sad stat?  About 33 thousand of each gender are currently married and separated. Chances of staying married 20 years or longer is still about 50/50 for both genders.

What does this mean?

Midlife love is statistically still possible

It means if you’re single at age 35 and beyond, the available pool is back to what it was in our early to mid-20’s! No wonder there’s a boom in baby boomer dating, mating, and relating! And there’s a plethora of advice about how to go about it.  That’s the good news.

What’s the flip side?

It means people could use some help finding, keeping, and relating to a mate! I have a theory that healthy relationships last. That’s why coaching in this area is a five phase process including: Preparation, Attraction, Connection, Evaluation, and Relationship.

If you are ready to actually be in a relationship with someone who can be a partner in life, I am here to help! Or if you want help in any of the areas listed above, even in a long-term marriage or relationship, it’s what I do!

Look for FREE wisdom in the blog because I’m not stingy. I’ll share some good stuff that will cost you only the time to read.

Of course, you can READ about things and TRY STUFF til you’re worn out. And for some of you that will be sufficient for you to get where you want to go!

But if you find yourself stuck, or just in a hurry to get where you want to be – no matter what you suspect might be getting in your way – we can do some very good work on-on-one. And no matter what your situation, if you want a good mate, there is someone for you. I can help you get there. Read more about the process of individual coaching here.

Ready to start? CALL to make an appointment or schedule your FREE 15 minute in-person consultation. 513-530-5888

demographics taken from American FactFinder, US Census, available at: http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk

green grass symbol of choosing the right counselor, psychotherapist, or life coach

Finding your right counselor or life coach

The right counselor or life coach.

You’ll invest time, energy, and probably some money finding the right therapist or coach. Timing-when you’re right in the middle of a crisis or need to feel better fast-can make it even more stressful. Don’t worry. Your natural process of selection is at work no matter what. Follow these three tips and it will be even smoother:

1. Trust yourself. Listen to your gut.

If you get an uneasy sense or bad feeling, trust it. That’s your gut instinct talking to you.

I’m saying this first because you may or may not have a developed sense of your own instincts. You may have a habit of ignoring them.

And if you are good at listening to them, now is the time to pay attention. I promise you this: the gut knows; it will not steer you wrong. (Need help identifying this or paying attention? We can work on that!)

2. Engage yourself. Do a little thinking.

You already know a ton about how you’re made and what you need.

If you take time to write down what you know, your chances of finding it increase tremendously. (It almost feels like magic, but research supports writing it down works!)

Stuck? Ask yourself two questions:

In past relationships with doctors, dentists, teachers, athletic coaches, yoga instructors (whoever has been in a position to help with your health and achievement) what has pissed you off? Seriously, think of your pet peeve in those situations. Is it someone bossy? harsh? arrogant? hyper?

Now think about the best relationships in that context if you’ve had them. What was good?

Was it a gentle dentist? Did your doctor really listen? Did a teacher do a good job explaining why?

Use the good and bad information to help define what you’re looking for.

For example:

  •  I need a good listener, who can communicate understanding, who doesn’t do all the talking.
  • I don’t want someone to stare at me blankly while I try to figure things out on my own.
  • I need someone with an easy sense of humor.
  • I need someone I know cares who will challenge me when I need it.

By all means, once you have prepared by doing this work, share your list of needs with a potential therapist. He or she should be able to tell you if and how they can be that for you. It also gives them a chance to let you know they can’t.

3. Honor yourself. Your feelings matter.

It’s normal to be nervous about entering this kind of relationship. It’s normal if you’re scared. It’s normal to feel incredibly vulnerable and uncertain.

Of course you feel that way! You are preparing to spill your guts about the hardest parts of your life with someone you don’t even know yet.

Because you matter, keep in mind these three things:

  • know your feelings are real and normal
  • put some thought into defining  exactly what you need (in writing is best)
  • trust your gut and go with it.

Be encouraged; you will make a good, helpful connection. Your healing and growth depends on it! A little preparation, a little action and you will definitely find your person. Let me know if you think we are a good fit. You’re the expert on you and I’d be honored to join you. Give me a call.