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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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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Free, Free, and Costs You a Little

My mama tells me I didn’t go to a really expensive graduate school to give free services. And, while she’s right, (my husband and son would probably like to continue to live under a roof) I do sometimes give away my therapy and life coaching services. I do this in the form of gift certificate donations to community events that I support. If you are in business for yourself, I really encourage you to do the same. It’s a fantastic way to be charitable that doesn’t require Oprah-type money in your bank account ready to be mailed. Whatever you’re doing, I promise that someone would love to win that for free. I’m especially talking to you house painters, dog walkers, and massage therapists. I need a legion of all three these days! If you need some suggestions about what kind of organizations could use your help, please feel free to contact me and I’ll tell you a few of my favorites. Alternatively, if you would like me to donate a gift certificate to your event, please do let me know that as well.

But, gift certificate raffles are not the only way you can get a good deal here at Lotus Therapy Center. Below are a few ways you can get free or lower-cost services at this practice.

1) “Wine for Whiskers”:The next worthy cause you can support for a chance to win 2 free sessions with me is the SPCA “Wine for Whiskers” event on July 24th, at the Orlando Marriott Downtown. You can check out the details here: http://www.ohs-spca.org/. Our local SPCA works overtime to help some of Orange County’s finest furry citizens find new homes. Please turn out and show that Central Florida has the biggest collective heart anywhere in the state.

2) Free Pet Loss Support Group: I am in the process of organizing a FREE group for individuals who have suffered the loss of a pet. If you know anyone who may be interested in this, please contact me for further details.

3) Reduced Rates for College Students: I particularly enjoy working with college students of any age. So, I cut my rate in half with proof of current enrollment in any of our fine institutions of higher learning. If you believe that you could use some help with depression, anxiety, or any number of concerns, please don’t hesitate to give me a ring or send me an email.

Your Partner in Healing,    Holly

If you would like to schedule an appointment or a phone consultation please call 407.913.4988 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com

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Loss of a pet

My first real experience with death and dying was, like most folks, the passing of a member of my own family.  I can remember vividly sitting with my mother and sister as he slipped away. We had lost not a human companion, but a spiritual soul mate in a fur coat—our cat Ramses.

Ramses was the darndest cat. Not only did he have a strange penchant for kissing you on the face and sneaking goodies, but he also snubbed a litter box and taught himself to use the toilet. I’m not kidding—many was the morning he beat me to the bathroom throne. When he got old and sick, we kept him comfortable for as long as we could. But, one terrible day our vet told us that she believed he was starting to suffer despite our best efforts and should be euthanized. Sick with grief, we managed to talk her into coming to our house to give him the shot.  As a family, we carefully selected soft music to play and took turns telling him how indispensible he was as court jester, comforter, and friend. He passed away in our arms.

As I can attest, grieving the loss of a pet can be a deep and sometimes confusing experience. The intensity of the pain can be breathtaking, and even embarrassing. Lots of people feel silly telling their friends and family that the death of their animal friend has been one of the most challenging experiences of their lives.  This is especially true when well-meaning confidants remind those grieving that it was “only an animal” or that “you can always get a new pet.” Transitioning to a new life without your buddy is a time for extra self-care and attention to your own needs and rhythms. It can be helpful to talk to a therapist, telephone counselor, clergy member, or some other trusted support system.

Here are a few tips for coping with the loss of your pet:

Create Your Own Rituals
When people die, there are wakes, funerals and other ways to formally memorialize the life of the person who has passed. My experience working with those who have lost pets indicates that those who find a way to formally celebrate the life of their beloved animal companion do much better as they cope with the grief. These celebrations do not have to be elaborate. They don’t even have to include anyone but you. Past clients have created art, read favorite poems out loud, and even written letters to the deceased pet.

Find a Support System
It is possible that nobody you know has ever been impacted by the loss of a pet the way that you have been. Local animal shelters and volunteer organizations often host  grief support groups that provide a forum for these expressions of loss. If you’re not comfortable accessing those (or don’t have the time) there are also internet support groups and websites full of articles about this topic. Most therapists have experience working with clients who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Ask any clinician you are considering to talk with  you about his or her beliefs and experience around the issue of grieving a pet.

Honor the lives of animals everywhere by getting involved
Serving as an emergency foster home for displaced pets has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. You can serve as a great comfort to animals with a variety of problems. Contact your local animal shelter, breed rescue club, or contact the nice folks standing outside of the major pet stores most weekends. You can make a huge impact (and honor the contributions of your beloved) by donating your time, money, talents, or home.

Devote Time to Self-Care
I somehow manage to incorporate this theme into every newsletter that I write. (Really, go check.) But it is never more important than in difficult times when our spiritual, emotional, and physical energy reserves can be very low. Take the time to eat well, meditate and pray, and exercise. This might be a good time to include journaling , art, dance, or some other mindful activity that can help you process what you are feeling.

Go Slowly
Give yourself permission to investigate the stages of grief and evaluate where you are in this process. You may have hills and valleys; some days will be better than others. This does not mean that you are not coping effectively with the loss. It means that you are allowing yourself to fully feel and process the impact of this change in your life. Many people describe feeling as though it’s one step forward and two steps back for some time. This is normal; please take good care of yourself as you heal at your own pace.

I offer free group therapy sessions for individuals who have suffered the loss of a pet. If you are interested in this service, please let me know.
Your Partner in Healing,   Holly
If you would like to schedule an appointment or a free 15-minute phone conversation, please email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com or phone 407.913.4988.
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