Dr. Stacy Raymond, Psy.D.
Disturbing Memories (Trauma)
Are you plagued with disappointing memories (a.k.a. trauma)? Do you tend to "bury" or "blow off" difficult events because you think talking about them would be too painful or a waste of time?
"Trauma" applies to almost everyone. Most of us can recall uncomfortable times when someone was mean to us, treated us inappropriately, or a time when we failed at something and felt embarrassed or humiliated. These events leave us with unpleasant memories, but usually don't traumatize us. At the other end of the spectrum are obvious traumas that negatively affect anyone: being beaten as a child, being raped, receiving a terminal diagnosis, witnessing a gruesome injury, or engaging in military combat. And there are other upsetting life events such as being bitten by a dog, involved in a car accident, losing a parent at a young age . . . interestingly, some people endure these traumas with relative ease. Others, however, continue to be reminded of, and even haunted by, the event. Why is this? It depends on several factors: your degree of sensitivity (temperament), how young you were when it happened, whether you were alone, how many times it happened to you, and whether or not the event was life-threatening.
If you continue to get upset over events that happened last week or even decades ago, I want you to know there is nothing wrong with you. You may be a sensitive, empathic person who retains and recalls personally exciting or, in this case, upsetting events more than your thick-skinned, less sensitive peers. Certainly the world would be a better place if it were inhabited by more responsive, understanding, compassionate people. Unfortunately, there are some wounds that time can't heal. Waiting it out usually just allows for things like your mood, sleep, thoughts, relationships, and general health to continue to unravel.
"So what should I do?" you might ask. I would suggest, since the bag of pain you're likely carrying around with you may be a bit fuller and heavier than most people's, unload it, and free up some energy to invest in joyful activities.
"OK, so how do I do that?" Give me a call. I offer a free phone consultation to help anyone interested in this process decide if now is the right time to address those painful memories, and also if I'm the right person to work with. My phone number: (203) 493-0344. Or you can send me an e-mail: DrStacyRaymond@gmail.com
Stress and Anxiety
Are you overwhelmed and exhausted? Depleted? Never seem to arrive at feeling rested or content? Worried about how your stress level may compromise your health?
You may be like many people who have the never-ending To Do list. Most people have difficulty juggling the demands of modern life: work, family, finances, maintaining a home, texts, e-mails, etc. It is crucial to establish a balance in your life of work and play, or else your body and mind never have a chance to recover. Our body was not meant to endure the constant barrage of stimuli, which incessantly calls our attention and causes the release of stress hormones. These chemicals, cortisol and adrenaline, tell our hearts to beat harder, our lungs to breathe faster, and our muscles to tighten up. The cortisol/adrenaline cocktail, combined with high-fat foods and lack of exercise (who has time to exercise with all there is to do?), is the exact recipe for lining your arteries with plaque, otherwise known as atherosclerosis. This puts you at risk for high blood pressure, a stroke or even a heart attack.
This is how lifestyle contributes to disease. What to do? First, don't wait until you become sick to make changes to your lifestyle. Second, don't wait until your next vacation, the weekend or even the end of the day to insert some relaxation into your day. You may be saying, "But I'm so busy during the day, I don't have time to relax!" It's easier than you think and takes less time than you may realize. Start by taking one minute - ONE MINUTE - to focus on your breathing - NOTHING ELSE - just your breathing. See if you can slow your breathing down to 3 seconds in, 3 seconds out for one minute. Congratulations. You just gave your body a break. It may not seem like much but that simple gift of honoring your body for one minute just helped your heart rate and breathing slow down. As a result, your body temporarily stopped pumping cortisol and adrenaline into your bloodstream. Maybe you could do it 3 times a day for one minute, say 9am, Noon, and 3pm. Or if you do a lot of driving, maybe do focused breathing whenever you're at a red light.
BUT . . . (There's always a caveat isn't there?) Yes, like everything else, practice makes perfect. Focused breathing for one minute 3 times a day isn't guaranteed stress-reduction. It has to be part of a commitment to yourself - your mind and body. This commitment should include visiting your doctor for a regular checkup, eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising your body regularly, and balancing your work/rest pattern every day. Eventually, you might be able to slow your breathing down to 4 seconds in, 4 seconds out, for a minute. Rather than only 3 times a day, maybe do focused breathing for one minute every hour, on the hour. Better yet, perhaps sometime in the evening, I recommend right before you lay down to go to sleep, give yourself 15 minutes of focused breathing. Believe it or not that's called meditation. Especially if you are in a quiet, dimly lit room without any distractions. It doesn't have to take an hour to be good for you - just 15 minutes a day. You don't have to sit in lotus position, burn incense, wear birkenstocks, eat tofu and bean sprouts, or travel to the far East, to meditate.
Please call me for a free phone consultation if you want to discuss your stress level further.
Do you feel down most of the time? Are you withdrawing from your friends? Feeling like you'll never get out of this slump?
You are not alone. Research shows that everyone experiences depression at some time in their lives. It might be after a family member, friend or pet dies. Or a relationship ends. Perhaps you cost your team the win while playing your sport, failed an exam, or made a costly mistake at work. Sometimes being in a difficult relationship or a job that's no longer satisfying can wear on your mood. Other people negatively judge themselves and struggle with self-esteem. They are constantly critical of themselves: too fat, not attractive enough, not as healthy as they'd like, made the wrong choices or serious mistakes, or feel like they've fallen short of their potential in education, sports, work, relationships or earnings.
The longer a person struggles with depression, the more likely they will experience physical illness. Likewise, a person with a serious physical illness is prone to depression. The good news is psychotherapy can help. In some cases, medication and therapy prove to be the right combination. Although I am not a psychiatrist and cannot prescribe medication, I can determine if a referral is in your best interest. Alternatively, I also respect those people who are not interested in medication, and I can discuss with you alternative approaches to alleviating depression.
Don't wait to hit rock bottom before addressing your emotional pain. Lack of motivation, unfortunately, is a symptom of depression. So is hopelessness, feeling like things will never get better, so why try? I have helped many clients out of their rut, but I can't help you unless you either give me a call or send me an e-mail.