A Raleigh Therapist's Blog

Thoughts on counseling, healing, and creating the life you want

Thoughts on Beck and the Apocalypse

Ths is an interesting time in my life. I am between practices so to speak, seeing a few clients from my Florida practice over Skype and waiting for the fine state of NC to pick over my credentials with its fine tooth comb. In order to get my NC license I have filled out a parade of forms that require I beset my closet colleagues with requests to also fill out a parade of forms on my behalf. I have had my licensure test scores resent, I have tracked down my old supervisor (in Georgia by the way–hi Steve) to fill out still more forms, and I have sent money. I suppose I thought that NC would take FL’s word for it that I was sufficiently educated and experienced to be a licensed clinician here, too. That, apparently, is not the case.

So while I’m waiting for my NC license to be delivered from the powers that be (and the powers that be are a board of people who don’t even meet again until mid-November!!!) I have been listening to music and thinking about death. No, I’m serious. I have seriously been compulsively playing  Beck songs, cleaning this goliath of a house, and wondering if the end is nigh.

When my clients come in with anxiety issues, I more than sort of get that because I have always been a little high-strung myself. But, despite that, I am a cup-half-full kind of gal. And, I have mostly figured that God likes me where I am for the moment and isn’t sending a divine lightening bolt anytime soon. I mean, why would he/she/it allow me to have two beautiful children, complete more college than anyone should endure, and move back to the home of my youth only to casually, and suddenly smite me? That was what I was thinking when I went to the ER a few months ago with pain in my gut that hurt more than labor did. As I sat there shaking and vomiting (classy, I know, but I want you to get the full picture) in the exam room, I assumed I had some kind of roided-out flu bug. But, the doctor comes back and tells me that I have a “mass” in my gallbladder and he thinks it’s probably cancer because of its unusual size. Yeah, he really said that. I remember blinking my eyes open and shut, open and shut like a cartoon character caught on the cusp of a big fall. I was hanging out there above the landscape below, gasping for air like terrified fish. Then, he sent me back for an abdominal scan where I attempted to lay very still in that horrible, loud tube. It was a week before I could get in to see a surgeon who examined my scans and told me that the ER doctor was an alarmist jerk and I only had gallstones that had fused together to form one mass.. I collapsed in his arms sobbing gooey, snotty tears into his crisp white coat. Yeah, he thought that was gross too, but I appreciated the take-one-for-the-medical-team pat on the back he gave me anyway.

So, to make a long story short, my surgeon snatched out my gallbladder, gave me some fun meds, and that was the end of the whole thing. Well, at least it was the end of it physically. Emotionally, and spiritually, that experience of believing I had a rare and deadly form of cancer has lingered on with me still. Never before have I better understood clients who whisper that they have a black cloud hanging over their heads…or feel similarly suspended–paralyzed as though something terrible is about to happen. I must admit, I have wondered (ok, ruminated about) what other silent secrets my body is harboring. My primary care doctor is a lovely man who not only went to Princeton, but also tells me to call him John instead of doctor something or other, and sympathetically hands you a tissue when you freak out about said hidden health boogie men in your routine yearly exam. And, he’s right– the best I can do is take good care of my health and stress levels and keep on keepin’ on.

So, you might be wondering why you’re reading a random personal blog amid the sea of professional advice usually found on this blog. I’m not really sure why, actually. Perhaps it’s because my usual blog posts are born out of an experience I’ve had in session that week with a client, and in the absence of regular practice-related experiences you get this instead. Or, perhaps, it’s because I am suddenly thinking over the clients and friends who have faced real, awful health issues and I am suddenly humbled with empathy. Either way, I hope that all of you out there are taking good, good care of yourselves.

You Partner in Healing,

Dr. Holly

www.lotustherapycenter.com

holly@lotustherapycenter.com

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Study This: College Students and Good Mental Health

When I first went to undergrad, I had the world’s greatest roommate. Her name was Valerie, and she had more than a few quirks. The strangest of which was her deep belief that my appearance and social comportment would reflect on her as well. Now, Valerie and I hadn’t chosen one another. We were simply assigned by the good people down at student housing. But nonetheless, she did her best to make sure that I passed muster on campus. This included ironing my clothes and teaching me how to dance. If you have ever seen me attempt to dance (attempt being the operative word), you’ll know that Valerie had her work cut out for her.

Anyway, the point of the matter is that attending college is a big deal. Even if you attend school in your hometown and stay right in your parents’ home, you’re still in for some big life changes. That’s OK–this is a really interesting time in your social, intellecutal, and spiritual development. How can you be prepared when it’s time to grab your books and hit the door?

1) Expect the unexpected: Things will inevitably be different then you thought they would both at home and away at school. Classes may be more challenging than high school, and you might need to be prepared to take advantage of those lab tutors. Or, mom and dad could turn your room into their billiard parlor. Whatever the case, it’s OK to feel overwhelmed by all the shiny newness. Just make sure you utilize your support network and blow off steam in constructive ways like exercise, art, or music.

2) Stick to a schedule: Despite common wisdom these days, staying up for three nights straight on a mixture of Red Bull and Twinkies does not mean that you are becoming more flexible in your time utilization. Rather, it is a recipe for social and academic disaster. You owe it to yourself to take calculus on a fresh brain that has been riding around in a body that is well-rested, fed, and exercised.

3) Get Yourself Connected: Everyone knows college is more fun if you have someone with whom to complain about last night’s chemistry lab. If there isn’t anyone in your classes or dorm who strikes your fancy, get out there and join a club or apply for a job on campus. Isolation leads to anxiety and unhappiness.

Got any other tips that have worked for you? I would love to hear them. Remember I offer HALF OFF TO COLLEGE STUDENTS. Happy new school year!

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

If you would like a FREE 30-MINUTE CONSULTATION to see if I might be a fit for your goals and concerns, please contact me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com or 407-913-4988

www.lotustherapycenter.com

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Follow Me on Twitter!

twitter logoThose of you who know me in any regard will remember that I have been fervently against capitulating to twitter juggernaut. Oh sure, everybody and their mamas are letting the world have a blow-by-blow of each and every waking moment. But I haven’t been sure that I want to participate in something like this simply because of the fact that I think producing a “tweet” sounds undignified. For some reason, it strikes me as a noise I would have been forbidden to make at the dinner table growing up.

But, after much pressure from friends and clients alike I am finally making the leap. If you would like to follow me, my twitter ID is HollyCoxLMFT. I’ll do my best to create some original content that will lead legions of followers to know more about good mental health, life balance, and healthy relationships. That, or you’ll know what I had for breakfast.

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

If you would like a FREE 30-minute consultation to discuss how I can be helpful to you, please call me at (407) 913-4988 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com

www.lotustherapycenter.com

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Happy New Year!

I’ve been in the holiday mood lately. Nothing puts one in the spirit like a nice trip back home to NC where it’s frosty and cold, and where one can get decent country ham biscuits. Maybe ham biscuits don’t spell seasonal cheer to you, but Bojangles (go look it up if you’re uninitiated) sure does put a jingle in my step.

 

Now that I’ve returned from all that pork goodness, I need to get back on track with my goals for spiritual, mental, and physical health and wellness. I’m really excited to finish a writing project I’m working on, and to tackle some of those late-night-pregnancy-cheeseburger pounds I’m carting around with me. Guess I’ll be having carrots while I’m burning the midnight oil, but after so many months of gastronomic debauchery, I’m actually looking forward to it!

 

If you too have put down the biscuits and are heading fresh into the New Year, here are a few tips to get you on the right track:

 

1)      Be just a face in the crowd—One of the most overlooked and terrible factors in both clinical depression and the more garden variety blues, is a sense of social isolation. I spend a lot of my time in the therapy room attempting to get my wonderful clients to take their show on the road and form meaningful connections. One of my favorite websites is www.meetup.com. On this site, you can find local groups for whatever you’re into. Really, I’m not kidding. There are groups for everything from people who like to play Scrabble to pug dog enthusiasts. Most of the meetups happen in public places. So, if you get there and think the rest of the folks look like total dorks, you can pretend you were just there for coffee and slink away unnoticed. But meetup.com isn’t the only place to look for new chums. You can try local religious organizations, your gym, or even volunteering.

2)      Tell it to me straight Doc—I am always advising clients to get a routine physical. This is especially important for women, because our physical well being and mental health are so closely linked. Depression and anxiety may be due to life circumstances or an organic mental illness. But, sometimes they can be linked to your method of birth control, thyroid problems, abrupt weaning of your infant, postpartum mood changes, or menopause. Don’t suffer in silence—let your health care professionals help you chart a course to feeling better.

3)       Rev the engine—You deserve a partnership that is firing on all cylinders. Schedule a session of couples therapy that is designed to reinvigorate your union rather than get mired down in problems. Let your therapist know that you would like to examine what works and get some tips on how to make it even better. I am amazed that couples wait until their relationship is sounding its death knell before coming in to see me. If you will do preventative maintenance on your car, why not on your love life?

 

 

Happy New Year friends! Let’s make it one filled with satisfaction, contentment, and an improved sense of self-worth.

 

Your Partner in Healing,

 

Holly

 

ham-biscuit

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Postpartum Depression

Parenthood teaches you many things. For instance, this morning my son taught me that one can reach a certain level of exhaustion at which she will wear a shirt covered in baby vomit to her hair appointment. Then, he taught me that when babies with wet hands grab a hand full of said expensively coifed hair, it does indeed lose its curl. As the saying goes, “Yay, memories!” All joking aside, the post partum period is hard ladies– and not just on your freshly-done blowout.

 

Pregnancy and the first year postpartum are without question two of the most vulnerable times of a woman’s life. We are different physically, emotionally, and spiritually in ways that are difficult to explain to our family and friends. In fact, it is one of the few times in our lives (except perhaps puberty) when our worlds are rocked to their very foundations by such far-reaching changes. This is compounded by the fact that we are responsible for a new life at a time when we may still be experiencing pain and discomfort associated with the pregnancy or delivery. Experts report that symptoms of anxiety or depression occur in 10-20 percent of new mothers. Unfortunately, these symptoms may go largely untreated because of shame or self-blaming. Though women with a personal or family history of depression or abuse are most at risk, postpartum depression is a physical response to the cascade of biochemical and hormonal changes that take place in every pregnant woman’s body. Lack of support and other social and emotional factors can complicate the picture further. Even women who have no history of anxiety or depression can develop sadness and anxiety that is more than just the baby blues. These feelings are treatable with therapy and/or medication, and you can get help. You can speak to your OBGYN, psychiatrist, or therapist about how to get started. Here are a few tips in the meantime.

 

1)      Examine your Mothering Myths: There is an idea out there (or perhaps just an ideal) that all new mothers immediately greet their infant bundles of joy with fresh-faced glee and joy. Mothers who are ambivalent or scared about their new responsibilities often feel inadequate, different, or ashamed. Women can be pressured to express disinterest in things they used to value like work, social activities, or alone time. In truth, many women report that they did not bond instantaneously with their infants, but rather built a loving relationship as they got to know one another. And, there is no more perfect recipe for a good mom than one is engaged with her world in a variety of ways.

2)      Make time for Yourself: The superwoman our culture holds up spends all day working or caring for her children and never needs time to recharge. One of the fastest routes to feeling very overwhelmed is constant immersion with no reprieve. Even if your “me” time is walking the dog, ask for other adults in your life to help you carve out time to nurture your health, individuality and personal growth.

3)      Make room for Daddy: If he or she is available, let the baby’s other parent take an active role in the child’s life. You’re not the only parent who can change a diaper, quiet a fretting baby, or wipe a stuffy nose. In fact, do your relationship the favor of creating the expectation for balanced childrearing responsibilities from the start.

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I'm Baaaaack!

baby-rattleThose folks who read this blog with any regularity noticed that I dropped off the map sometime in July. No, I didn’t decide to race sled dogs in Alaska instead. Though, that does sound fun and I’m adding it to my life wish list. Nope, I had a wonderful baby boy, and have been away from my practice enjoying him immensely.

Now, however, I am slowly starting to accept clients into my practice again in the evenings and on Saturdays. Those folks who contacted me while I was out on leave are more than welcome to try me again now that I am back in the office.

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A Terrible Loss

It was with a heavy heart that I read last night about the murder of UCF graduate student Nicole Ganguzza. It is always horrible when someone so young and full of promise is taken from us. It seems more unfair still when that person is just embarking on her own life as a married woman and a vibrant, caring professional. From all accounts Nicole was already using her education in Marriage and Family Therapy to better the lives of everyone she touched. My prayers are with her family and husband as they attempt to pick up the pieces of this horrible tragedy, and with the brave Law Enforcement officers who are working to bring her killer to justice. 

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