Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Dealing With Grief and Loss During the Holiday Season

The holiday season has begun for 2013. It is to be a time of joy, happiness, spending time with family and celebration. But for many that have experienced a loss of a loved one or dear friend this past year, it is very difficult to find the joy, happiness and celebration in the season. Most of us have experienced the emptiness, sadness and overwhelming grief that hangs over our heads and in our hearts as we go through the holiday season. It seems the whole world is celebrating and happy but we feel very much alone.  As difficult as it is….the holidays come and go and you can make it through.

I lost my older brother to a suicide on the day of December 24, 2002. It was a devastating to my whole family. You see, he has never dealt with depression or any other mental health issues that would have predicted this act. As we later found out, he was dealing with a very personal issue involving his girlfriend at that time. Later when facts started to emerge, we know that she was greatly involved in his decision. Christmas Eve is the most important event within my family. Growing up in a large family we always attended the candlelight service at our church.What followed was coming back to our house full of relatives and friends. It was the one time of the year that everyone was together! This happening on this date made the reality of the situation even more painful. When each of my family members received the news (we were all at our own homes preparing for the evening to be spent at my parent’s house), we arrived at my parent’s home as soon as possible. Still in shock but remembering what the holiday was about, my father stated that the Christmas celebration must go on. We had presents to exchange and there were many younger children within the family that deserved as much. That Christmas was very difficult and somber. Every year on December 24th we continue to have our family celebration but each member continue to deal with the events of that day in their own way. The pain is not as intense and we are healing, some faster than others.

A past professor of mine shared this quote the other day on Facebook. I feel it speaks some of the feelings that the grief journey is about:

Grief never ends But it changes.It is a passage, NOT a place to stay. Grief is neither a sign of weakness nor lack of faith….IT’S THE PRICE OF LOVE!

When you become a child of God through Jesus Christ our Savior you have a savior that is always by your side! Jesus is the reason for the season! When our loved ones are saved remember they are spending Christmas with Jesus this year! They no longer have any pain or suffering. The holidays are not the same with them not being present (in body) but they are always with you. Here are some guidelines to remember.

  • Each individual’s grief journey is unique
  • There is no “right” or “wrong” way to experience your grief
  • Be patient with yourself, sometimes you have a bad day, that is part of the healing process
  • Take care of yourself. Stay on a balanced diet, get plenty of sleep, don’t over use alcohol and if on other medications please read the medications label about alcohol use.
  • Grief has NO time table! Some losses are more complicated on the grief journey and take a much longer piece of time to feel as if you are healing.
  • Honor the deceased this time of year by placing a special ornament that reminds you of the person on your tree or a special decoration just for them. Personally, I have a peace dove ornament hanging from my window in my kitchen. The dove has special meaning surrounding my brother’s death.
  • Last and Not least……Grief feels as if your heart has been ripped open…it heals from within and the future holidays will not always be this painful.
 God knows what you are going through and will be with you every step of the way! God has an additional angel watching over you.
God Bless
Until Next Time,
Lory Naugle, MS, LPC, NCC, DCC

 

ADULT ADHD/ADD

      A few months ago, I wrote a blog, Does My Child Have ADHD?,  helping to answer parent’s questions and listing the guidelines to better help parents make the most informed decisions regarding their child. Since the posting of that blog in April of 2010, I have become aware of the fact that if diagnosed with childhood ADHD/ADD, chances are, you’ve carried at least some of the symptoms into adulthood. But for those that were never diagnosed with ADHD/ADD as a child, that doesn’t mean you can’t be affected by it as an adult. For some people, adult ADHD causes significant problems that improve with treatment. For some adults, you may have been able to compensate for the symptoms of ADHD/ADD when you were young, only to run into problems as your responsibilities increase. The more things you are putting on your plate-getting a college education, working, raising a family, running a household-the greater the demand on your abilities to organize, focus and remain calm. It can be stressful for anyone but if you have ADHD/ADD, it can feel downright impossible and everyday tasks can be a real challenge. 

     In adults, attention deficit discorder often looks quite different than it does in children- and its symptoms are unique for each person. Adult ADHD/ADD symptoms can include:

  • Trouble focusing or concentrating
  • Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started
  • Restlessness
  • Impulsivity
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Poor organizational skills (home, office, desk, or car is extremely messy and cluttered)
  • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in work or other activities
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Short, often explosive, temper
  • Trouble coping with stress
  • Frequently forgetting appointments, commitments, and deadlines
  • Constantly losing or misplacing things (keys, wallet, phone, documents, bills)
  • Underestimating the time it will take you to complete tasks
  • Unstable relationships 
  • Craving for excitement
  • Racing thoughts
  • Doing a million things at once

     If you can identify with most of the symptoms listed above, chances are you’ve suffered over the years for the undiagnosed problem. People may have labeled you “lazy”,”stupid”,”messy”or “trouble maker” among many others. You may have begun to think of yourself in these negative terms as well. The wide-reaching effects of ADHD/ADD can lead to many negative feelings such as frustration,embarrassment,disappointment, and loss of confidence. You may feel like you’ll never be able to get you life under control. That’s why a diagnosis can be an enormous source of relief and hope. As stated in my article blog in April 2010, ADHD/ADD is not an intelligent defect but is a performance deficit. You want to get your life organized and your work done but have great difficulty in maintaining the standard. 

     If you recognize yourself in this article there are several things that you can do to help manage your symptoms. First off you may want to take one of the several self administered test for ADHD/ADD. One site that I feel has some excellent tests is psychcentral.com. You should also seek out the advise of a Professional Health Care provider such as your Primary Care Physician or a Professional Counselor. A qualified person can administer some standardized test to help confirm the results. Treatment for ADHD/ADD typically involve medication, counseling or both. A combination of therapy and medication is often the most effective treatment. A trained professional can help you: control impulsive behaviors, manage your time and money, get and stay organized, boost productivity at home and school/work, manage stress and anger, and help you to learn to communicate more clearly.  If you want to try to manage your symptoms on your own without medication, there is a lot you can do to help yourself and get your symptoms under control. These include the following:

  • Exercise and eat right- Exercise vigorously and regularly, it helps work off excess energy and aggression in a positive way and soothes and calms the body. Eat a wide variety of healthy foods and limit sugary foods in order to even out mood swings. 
  • Make a list of tasks- This list should include things to be accomplished each day. Make sure you’re not trying to do too much.
  • Use sticky notes-to write notes and reminders to yourself. Put them on the fridge, on the bathroom mirror, in the car or in other places where you will benefit from having a reminder or information. 
  • Break down tasks- into smaller, more manageable steps.
  • Meditate- Helping to calm your mind and lower your stress level. Regular meditation help you to calm your mind and regain your focus. 
  • Practice better time management- Set deadlines for everything, even for small tasks. Use timers and alarms to stay on track. Take breaks at regular intervals. Prioritize time-sensitive tasks and write down every assignment, message, or important thought. 
  • Work on your relationships- Schedule activities with friends and keep your engagements. Listen when others are speaking and try not to speak too quickly yourself. 
  • Vitamin or herbal supplements-  Certain vitamins and minerals are necessary for good health and some people have claimed that taking certain herbal supplements such as hypericum, ginseng, or ginkgo have helped with their symptoms. 

     Knowledge is power. Once you are able to manage your ADHD/ADD you should feel much more in control of your life.

      Until Next Time,

      Lory

Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC, is in private practice in Shippensburg, PA. She provides counseling to children through adults for many mental health disorders including ADHD/ADD. She offers counseling in her office and by distance means such as secure email and chat, phone counseling, and by computer assisted Skype.

Suicide Among College Students

     Suicide has once again been getting a lot of media attention after the suicide of the Rutgers University college student. It must be especially hard for his friends and family at this difficult time to hear the incident replayed over and over again. My heart goes out to them.

     I feel addressing this issue again is important. If all the media attention in regards to this subject can spare another person’s life then there is meaning behind it. I previously have writtten about suicide and the elderly and I feel that I now need to address the subject of suicide among college students. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among college students than all medical illnesses combined. As a semester continues along, students are under a lot of pressure.

     Gregg Easterbrook presents some interesting statistics in his latest blog.  He states that in 2007, there were about 42 million Americans aged 15-24. The self-inflicted death rate for this group was about one in 10,300. That is  roughly 4,000 suicides that year by those of teens to college age. As you can see this is an issue that needs to continue to be addressed.

     It is essential to understand that each student’s reactions and feelings are very important and to try to provide each of them the support that is needed. If you are a teenager or college student and have any friends that are having difficulties, please guide that person to someone who can help them, such as a school counselor, a counselor on campus in the counseling department, a mental health therapist in your area, or a trusted adult. It is important to understand that suicide can be impulsive and difficult to predict, however, there are things that can be done to prevent tragedies from occurring. It is important to have a dialogue and allow those having difficulty express their feelings openly. It is helpful to reach out to others. Listed below are some signs and symptoms of suicide. If you recognize these signs and symptoms in others or in yourself, please seek help immediately.

Signs:

  • Morbid or depressing themes in written assignments
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Stating that life is not worth living
  • Abrupt changes in behavior, mood, or appearance
  • Sudden distancing from other students, friends, or adults
  • Excessive absences in school or in classes
  • Loss of initiative
  • Has a plan or the means to hurt themselves

Symptoms:

  • Low Energy
  • Drug or Alcohol problems
  • Flat affect or absence of feeling expression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Severe depression
  • Crying spells
  • Hopelessness or helplessness
  • Increase in life stressors (e.g., loss of a loved one or job, moving)
  • Sense of immobilization
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of guilt or remorse
  • Isolation or withdrawal from others
  • Giving away possessions or making amends in relationships
  • Overt talk of death or suicide
  • Pursuit of dangerous activities

If someone does talk about feeling suicidal or seems to be thinking about it, take him or her seriously. Do whatever it takes to get them the help they need- You may be saving a life!

Until Next Time,

Lory

Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC  offers Professional Counseling in her office and online. She specializes in anxiety disorders, depression, ADHD, grief and loss, drug and alcohol treatment, and PTSD.

Marriage: The Stages and How to Cope

    My husband and I have an anniversary coming up soon. It will be our 27th! My parent’s celebrated their 61st anniversary this year, wow. In our local newspaper they list anniversaries under the celebrations category including those couples who have celebrated 25th, 50th, 60th and more. It is a time of celebration to mark those milestones in ones relationship with their partner. Many couples married this year for the 1st time. It is a very exciting event for the couple. All the planning and expectations of sharing their lives together. Although all marital unions are not created equal-they all go through some predictable stages. According to, Rita DeMaria, PhD, a marriage and family therapist and author of The 7 Stages of Marriage, the timing may differ, and the way a couple manages the phase they’re in varies widely but understanding the stages gives you the tools you need to move through with your loving union intact. Below are the list of the stages and some of the challenges that go with that stage:

  • HONEYMOON STAGE:   The first year or two is a passion-filled period that all about the two of you and your intense focus on the excitement and romance of the relationship. Differences seem relatively unimportant as the focus is on discovering each other and sharing life together. Usually you cannot get enough of each other sexually. At this stage, we love the way our partner makes us feel as much as we love him or her. 
  •  Challenges At This Stage: Learning to live as a couple and share decision making together. Many times this is the first time that decisions affect  someone other than yourself. Should you invest in a home, car, or travel? What are the expectations concerning your careers or educations? How will you handle financial matters? What about extended family (parents and in-laws)? Many couples feel that their love for each other will automatically determine the answers to these questions and many are “caught” off guard when discussions turn into arguments in hearing the other’s viewpoint. 

 

  • REALITY STAGE:  In this stage couples are learning more about themselves and each other in situations they haven’t faced together before. You may learn things that you might not have known about your spouse’s strengths, weaknesses and personal habits. Power struggles can arise as the two of you work towards both shared and separate goals. Working together as a team should be the focus of this stage. In this stage couples may discuss having children. Many couples feel that the “Spark” has left their marriage and interpret this to mean that one of the partners has fallen “out of love”. They may decide that bringing children into the marriage at this time, may help reignite that spark. In actuality, euphoria is replaced by more solid emotions like trust, respect, empathy and admiration. The highs aren’t as high and the lows aren’t as low; the relationship becomes more stable, predictable and dependable.    
  •   Challenges At This Stage:  There may be feelings of disappointment, aloneness along with a “let down” as reality sets in. This is marriage’s                 vulnerable stage. It’s a time when a woman can go from feeling cherished to being taken for granted and when a man can go from feeling admired to     be belittled. Reality and a wide range of roles and responsibilities start to impose upon the lust and love. This is the stage that you need to establish open communication. Set time aside each day, either in the mornings or evenings, where you just check in with each other and talk about your day. If regular open communication is not established during this stage, years later you may wake up lying next to a stranger in bed wondering how you grew so far apart. It is also in this stage that marriage counseling can have the most benefit for the couple instead of trying to ignore the problems and differences until they reach a point that some of the damage is irreversible.

 

  •  FAMILY CENTRAL:  This stage is often referred to as “the meat of marriage”. Most of the years spent in this stage consist of raising their families, buying a home, building and/or changing careers and trying to hold together a crazy, busy, modern life. This period of time is also another danger zone, due to the shifting of demands and responsibilities. The stress level is usually the highest in this stage. It’s very difficult to keep sufficient focus on the marriage relationship with the attention that kids demand and other stressors in the relationship, but it is important to do so. This is also the time period that many couples become disappointed and disillusioned to the “Ground Hog Day” type of routine. Partners may begin having an affair, or worse yet, asking for a divorce due to the lack of focus on the marriage. 
  •  Challenges at This Stage: Not losing sight of your partnership in the swirl of demands on your time and energy. Now is the time to pay close                 attention to your marriage. Give yourselves time to communicate without distractions. Plan a regular date night when just the two of you share regular   time together. Plan a getaway weekend to reconnect without all the stresses of the outside world. Open, honest and sensitive communication is the         key to surviving this stage of the marriage. If the same issues continue to arise and one or both of you are feeling frustrated, couples counseling can be   very helpful in this stage to help you get unstuck.

 

  • STILL IN LOVE;  This is the stage when you now have adult children and there is more time to focus on the two of you. During this stage there is a reconnecting with getting to know each other all over again. There are still disagreements but rather than hold onto the anger, partners choose to forgive and trust. We easily learn to live the lesson of mature and lasting love.
  •  Challenges at This Stage: Focusing on the two of you and having time to spend together may be a struggle for some couples. Focusing their energies  on the children, careers, and other life stressors for so many years may be a huge adjustment for many couples. Without consistent, open                            communication throughout the marriage, your partner may feel like a stranger. It is during this time that couples need to focus their time on doing          things together, such as a new activity or travel, as well as spending time apart, pursuing individual goals and dreams. You can rescue a marriage            that’s been ignored for a long time, but it will take work, so seek out professional counseling. 

 

  • “TILL DEATH DO YOU PART.”:  This stage is also referred to as the completion stage. You have enjoyed the lust, lived the love and come through the chaos of family life- without splitting up in the face of troubles. You still enjoy being together and are committed to each other for the rest of your lives. 
  •  Challenges at This Stage:  Many couples in this stage are totally committed to each other. Health issues may be a primary concern at this stage.           You may have dreamed of the freedom to travel and do what you want, but one or the other partner is unable to do so because of health concerns.               There may be added financial stress due to living on a fixed income and the current recession. Changes in lifestyle such as living arraignments may         be a source of stress and adjustments. 

At any time during you marriage you may experience unexpected life stressors that can interrupt the forward motion of your life together, such as fertility issues, a death in the family, a major illness or the loss of a job that leads to serious financial strains. Seeking support  during those times is very important. You may seek advice from friends, family members, religious counselors or professional therapist.

Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC is a professional counselor in private practice in Shippensburg, PA. She sees client’s in her office but is also able to provide counseling by distance means such as email, chat, and Skype.

Naugle Counseling: Tips to Lower Back to School Stress

You can feel it all around you. The tv commercials play into it and the flyers received in the mail by large chain stores announce it in bold letters. Yes, its back to school time across the country!

With it brings a feeling of saddness that the summer months are now just memories. Whether you have school aged children, college age children, work in a school or college, or are a student yourself there is a change in the air. For many the start of the school year increases stress and anxiety levels within the household. 

The school year presents an opportunity for a fresh start, getting together with old and new friends, new accomplishments and exciting activities. Its an opportunity for a new beginning, a change in perspective. It can also be a measurement for growth.

Where I live in Pennsylvania, we have a definite change in the seasons. Each season brings with it new vibrations. In the fall the days become shorter and the air becomes “crisp”, the leaves change colors, and fall mums are in full bloom. Routines are changed and adjusted. There are new opportunities to watch fall sports. I live in a college town so the start of the University’s football season is always exciting as well as the high school sports season.

Here are some tips to help you and your child ease into the new school year:

  • Start now to readjust bedtimes. Children need to get their sleep. The easiest way to adjust bedtime schedules is to have the children go to bed a 1/2 hour earlier each evening until the desired bedtime is reached. Studies have shown that all children need at least 8 hours or more of sleep to perform at their best.
  • Decide on clothing the night before. This time saver helps reduce morning stress.
  • Establish a set time each day to do homework. This should be a quiet time in the household without the distractions of a tv, ipod, or cell phone. I always preferred this time to be 6:30 to 7:30 for my own children.
  • Make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast. Children who eat a healthy breakfast control their weight better and perform better at school. Breakfast does not have to be labor intensive, healthy wholegrain cereals are good options as well as “instant breakfast” drinks for older children. My daughter often had macroni and cheese for breakfast along with milk or apple juice. It was something that she enjoyed eating and was healthy compared to some sugary breakfast cereals.
  • Prepare packed lunches the night before. There is enough going on in the mornings without having to pack lunches for everyone too.
  • Don’t over-schedule your children with extracurricular, or after school activities. This stresses you out as much as them driving them from place to place and they start to feel overwhelmed trying to fit everything into their day. One rule of thumb is to allow each child one activity each season. This should allow for free time to help the child unwind and destress.
  • Try to eat at least 3 dinners a week together as a family. This allows each child a chance to talk about their day and feel a part of the family. Research has shown that bonding over the dinner table is an excellent opportunity for open discussions.
  • Remember live well, love much, and laugh often. Your kids are only young once.

Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC is in private practice and provides counseling to children through adults in her office in Shippensburg, PA or by Distance Means such as Skype, secure email, and by phone. Please contact her if you or your child are experiencing difficulties in life.

Change and the Three Rs

” The only thing constant is change”, I have heard this statement my whole life. When I was younger change was exciting and new. Graduating from high school, going to college, making new friends, graduating from college, getting my first full time job, getting married, buying a house, having children, and the list goes on and on. Yes, all those changes were scary but somehow the excitement overshadowed the anxiety.

As I have become older, this statement still holds true, but now it seems that I would be more comfortable and less anxious with things not changing for a while. But major work and life changes are common: Laid off from your job, retirement, relocations, divorce, children graduating from high school, increased responsibilities, loss of loved ones, and other numerous events. 

Whether these changes are welcome or unwelcome, all can be extremely stressful unless we learn how to adjust to them. Taking the time to recover, refocus and regenerate following life changes can help us survive and even thrive.

RECOVER - After a life change you need to regain your sense of balance and routine. You situation may be, at least for now, stressful, challenging, or unfamiliar. You may have symptoms such as headaches, backaches, or depression. To begin your recovery, it will help to step back from your new situation. Plan mini breaks like going to the movies, taking a drive to local attractions, planning a weekend away, or just taking time for yourself. These “distractions” can help you get distance and perspective. Exercise and sharing your feelings with others are excellent stress reducers which can help you get back on track.

REFOCUS – If you are able to look at “the big picture”, you will gain greater peace of mind about the change. If you have been recently laid off from your job now may be the time to accomplish some of those things around the house, take some leisure time going fishing and spending extra time with your kids and family. You may also take the time to learn new skills, reconnect with friends, or spend more time networking with others. Take the time to think about what has happened, why, and what it might mean. You will realize that your feelings are mixed. With time, those feelings will change. Talking to trusted friends, family members, clergy, or a professional counselor may speed the process.

REGENERATE – All change is stressful for your body and your body needs time to heal. Get extra rest, avoid alcohol and cigarettes, and eat properly. Try to increase your circle of support, connect with new people or reinforce old friendships. Social media including Facebook is an excellent way to do this.

No one can escape change. Accepting the fact that change has taken place is important. When you take steps to recover, refocus and regenerate, you will find acceptance easier. These steps will help you successfully make the change part of your life. 

Until Next Time,

Lory

Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC is a Professional Counselor in private practice in Shippensburg, PA. She provides counseling to children through adults for various mental health issues. Lory also provides counseling by distance means such as skype, secure email, telephone, and secure chat rooms.

Parenting your Teen – Tips to Help you Cope Through this Trying Time

Parenting a teenager is one of the most difficult challenges a parent will face. A Yiddish proverb states, Small children disturb your sleep, big children your life. All parents face this time in their children’s life and wonder what has happened to the child they used to know. Volumes of books have been written about the subject. In looking back over my own experience of raising teenagers I feel lucky that I survived. I’m very proud of my young adults and who they are becoming.  My daughter and I clashed a lot. I was her target of blame for almost anything at times. I had to learn to pick my battles carefully and then be firm and follow through with the consequences. I was not her friend I was her mother. Below are some tips to follow as you navigate parenting a teen.

  • Set Limits and Follow Through on the Consequences – Your teenager still needs your guidance and even though they will never admit it at the time, they need you to say no. By setting and enforcing rules, parents give teens predictabiltiy and structure, as well as a way to combat peer pressure. Without your caring oversight, teens are left feeling isolated and alone. One of the most common reaction from teens in regards to this, I need limits. I’m going to yell at you and react to them, but when you don’t give me any, it makes me feel like I’m in charge. I may say that’s what I want, but it really scares me.
  • Always Listen – You may know what it’s like to be a teenager, but your child know what it’s like to be a teenager today. Teens today are dealing with a whole new set of stressors. Your teen may not want to talk about things when you want to talk but letting your teen know that you are available when they want to talk is important. Many  times we would have conversations in our household with our teens at the oddest times. No they weren’t always convient but looking back they were very powerful. Try to find a common interest with them in regards to a movie, sport, or other activity and talk about it without being critical. I love having conversations with my daughter about the Twilight saga. It’s interesting to find out which character they identify with and why. The teens response to this is, Sometimes I actually do want to talk to you. I just don’t know how. Find creative ways to make me talk to you. It’ll take the pressure off. 
  • Keep your Anger focused on Their Actions Not on Them as a Person- Teenagers can become very angry people. They continue to fight for their independence and less control by their parents. Teens can and do get overloaded with stress. They have poor coping skills, and getting angry is the only way they know how to avoid feeling sad, hurt, or afraid. Some of the most common teen responses to this include: I don’t always know why I’m angry, irritable, sad, or worried. Sometimes I may need you to help me figure it out. But sometimes, I may want to figure it out alone. And I’m not as in control as I am trying to look. Sometimes my hormones make me feel crazy. I haven’t learned how to regulate myself yet. One phrase I used quite often with my teens was that I really loved them, I just didn’t like their behavior at the moment. 
  • Give Your Teen Honest Compliments- Yes, I totally understand how hard this can be at times. But as parents it is easy to see all the things that they are doing wrong and not give notice to the things they are doing right. This is extremely important at this age. Teens do care what their parents think! You may give compliments as to how they handled a difficult situation, or in regards to their grades in school, or particular friends they are choosing to hang around with. I remember giving my daughter compliments on how she did her hair and makeup and trying something new (going out for a sports team). Because I was a professional counselor, she often asked advice on how to handle some of her friend’s problems, and I would be amazed as to how she thought she should handle them. Teenagers especially love to hear their parents give positive feedback about them to others. People would often ask me about raising a teenage daughter and I would say, ” I love the person she is becoming”.  Teens want their parents to be proud of them and accept them for who they are. This means resisting the urge to compare your child to others. Teens already spend their days assessing how they measure up and feeling badly about themselves – they are relying on you to be their biggest supporter. 
  • Try to Find a Compromise that Both Parties Can Accept - Teens consistently push their boundaries. When incorporating open communication as best you can, let your teen know that you are willing to trust them more but along with that trust comes more responsibility on their part. Compromises are and will always be a part of any type of relationship. Talk openly so both parties can accept what was agreed upon. 

If you continue to have conflicts with your teen, it is especially helpful to seek counseling with a professional. Not only does this give  your teen a chance to express themselves but also to talk to someone other than a parent or friend. Most professional counselors will also work with the parent on communication and parenting skills along with support for all parties involved.

“I am every emotion times ten, I conform yet I’m rebellious, always obeying but somehow still an outlaw, always talking but never heard, I am a teenager”. Author Unknown

Until Next Time,

Lory

If you like this article, please let me know and share it with family and friends. Thanks and have a great holiday weekend.

Infertility and Stress

Coping with infertility can be isolating, emotionally painful and financially straining. Research has shown that women dealing with infertility have stress and depression levels equal to women going through treatment for cancer. 1 in 7 couples experience some difficulty getting pregnant. If you have been trying to get pregnant for 6 to 12 months you should talk with your gynecologist. This would be a good starting point where beginning testing could be completed. 

I understand the roller coaster of dealing with infertility because “I have been there and done that”. I first talked with my gynecologist about my experience after trying for 6 months. She was sympathetic but not much concerned. She referred me to a Licensed Psychologist stating that it could be my emotional state of mind that was hindering me. I then researched Infertility Specialist in my area. The closest one was 50 miles away so I began my journey.  The whirlwind of emotions that infertility brings can feel overwhelming. Knowing that your feelings are normal can help. Some of the more common feelings that I dealt with included a sense of loss for the child or children I imagined having one day. I went through several early miscarriages. I recall feeling angry and jealous that parenthood seemed to come easily to others. Sadness and shock  hoping to have a positive pregnancy test and then getting my period several days late. And lack of control over my body. My personal infertility was due to anovulation (I didn’t ovulate on a regular basis).  I began treatments with clomid for the next 8 months which was not successful. I then began treatment with injectable FSH and HCG (another hormone to stimulate ovulation) in mid cycle. 

Infertility put stress on my marriage in several ways: There was tension around sex. I was given intramusclar injections for 9 days at the start of my cycle. When my folicles were developed and mature (though blood tests and ultrasounds every 2 to 3 days), I was given an injection of HCG. It was then necessary to have sexual relations with my husband within the next 24 to 36 hours. Yes, it became a mission and a “chore”. My husband also experienced performance anxiety with having to “perform” in this time frame. I considered our children love children due to that fact that they were conceived by pure love of having to do this ritual. Another stress was the financial stress. Treatment costs quickly add up. The couple has to be willing to talk about this stress and decide how much they are willing to spend on the particular treatments. Deciding which treatments or options to try, when to stop seeking treatment, or when to take a break can put tremendous strain on a couple and their relationship. Good Communication is essential when dealing with infertility issues.

With the myriad of feelings surrounding infertility, good coping skills are also essential. Below are several tips to help manage and lower the stress level of infertility:

  • Acknowledge your feelings: Whether through friends, professional counseling, groups, or online forums, finding somewhere to talk with people who understand can help you feel less alone and know what you are going through is important. Allow yourself time to feel the sadness, anger, and frustration. It actually takes more mental energy to hold your feelings back than to express them.
  • Practice relaxation: Learning how to relax and calm yourself can help when feelings get intense and during treatments. Relaxation techniques, yoga, and meditation are all possible ways to cope. These also are very useful techniques to use throughout your life in other situations- going to labor!
  • Learn as much as you can: The more you know about infertility, including alternatives in treatment options, adoption or living child-free, the more in control you feel.
  • Open communication with your partner: Talk about your feelings together. Keep in mind that men and women cope with stress in different ways. Men tend to hold things inside and women are more likely to express their sadness. Neither way is wrong, just different.
  • Don’t allow infertility to be the only focus in your life: Make sure you fill your life and your relationship with other things. If it seems like infertility is all you talk about together, set a specified time each day for the topic, and use the rest of the day to talk about other things. 
  • Try to keep sex fun: As mentioned above, sex can quickly become like a chore, than a fun way to express love for each other. Try to keep things loving and exciting. Light candles, play music, watch movies, whatever makes you both feel good.
  • Consider professional help: Many couples find that professional individual or couples counseling can help them cope with the emotional stress of infertility. If you find yourself feeling constantly sad or anxious, not sleeping well or oversleeping, feeling completely isolated, or having thoughts of death and dying, then it is especially important that you talk to your doctor about your feelings and seek out some type of professional help. 

As stated earlier, I went through infertility treatment for both of my children. My close friend also went through treatments and has 2 daughters. There is hope and modern medicine is amazing. Faith and trust in God will also help when dealing with infertility. 

Until Next Time,

Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships for Young Adults

Relationships are a central factor in all of our lives. They give life meaning and purpose. To be loved by another person is an essential need and want. Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines relationship in the following ways:

1. The quality or state of being related; connection

2. Connection by blood, marriage, etc; kinship

3. A particular instance of being related

4. A continued attachment or association between person, firms, etc.; specifically one between lovers.

For the purpose of this post, I am going to focus on the last definition. A continued attachment or association between person, firms, etc. Yes, relationships are an essential part of our lives. During your teen years and early 20′s you will have relationships with a lot of people. They will include friendships as well as dating relationships. A healthy relationship features mutual respect, trust, honesty, equality, good communication, and they make us feel good about ourselves. In a healthy relationship each partner helps the other to become “the best they can be”. They don’t try to change, fix or control the other. There is mutual respect on all fronts and a balance of oneness (closeness) and separation from each other. Above all else personal growth, change and exploration is encouraged. A healthy relationship involves give and take at all times. Many teens and young adults may find themselves in healthy relationships and continue to make plans for their future together. That is awesome. I have been married for 26 years to my husband. It has been quite a journey.

So what are some of the factors to distinguish between a healthy and unhealthy relationship? A real easy measurement is that in an unhealthy relationship you feel the exact opposite of how you feel in a healthy relationship. There is not mutual trust, respect, or open communication. There is not “room to grow” or the person wants to try to change you into something you are not. If you are experiencing any type of abuse or violence such as verbal, physical, emotional or sexual that is an unhealthy relationship! This can involve both people being violent or abusive towards each other or can involve only one person doing this to the other. Many times a relationship is not abusive in the beginning but over time abusive behavior might show. Usually the abuser will have an excuse and swear that it will never happen again. The abuse usually continues to happen despite promises and can intensify in both the abuse itself and it’s frequency. 

Common warning signs of an Abusive or Unhealthy Relationship (RED FLAGS) include:

* becomes jealous or possessive of you- gets angry when you talk or hang out with other friends or people of the opposite sex

* bosses you around, makes all the decisions, tells you what to do.

* tells you what to wear, who to talk to , where you can go

*is violent to other people, gets in fights a lot, loses his/her temper a lot.

*pressures you to have sex or to do something sexual that you don’t want to do.

*blames you for his or her problems, tells you that it is your fault that he or she hurt you.

*insults you or tries to embarrass you in front of other people

*has physically hurt you

*make you feel scared of their reactions to things.

*calls or texts all the time and wants to always know where you are going and who you are with.

If you have experienced any of these signs in your dating relationship please heed this advice. YOU NEED TO END THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS PERSON! Talk to a trusted adult such as: a parent, teacher, doctor, nurse, close friends,pastor, or professional counselor about the reality of the relationship. Have a strong support system in place. If the first person you talk to does not take your situation seriously, keep trying until you find someone who will listen to you. 

Unhealthy relationship are toxic. They will continue to get worse over time. Even though the person promises to change, statistics show that most don’t. Please read again the characteristics of a healthy relationship. You deserve the best. 

Until Next Time,

Lory

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