Author Archives: mirrorgirl

About mirrorgirl

I am a psychologist working as a trauma therapist in Norway. I am blogging about my life and psychology-related topics. I am also working on a book about my life and work, that will be published this year. Thank you all for visiting my blog.

Budget-Friendly Ways for Families to Keep Feeling Their Best Throughout the Pandemic

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Written by Cheryl Conklin

Whether you’re self-isolating or have to leave every day for work, the pandemic has probably taken a toll on your family’s mental and physical health. Adapting to all the changes that come with the pandemic isn’t easy, but luckily, there are many ways to incorporate healthy habits into your lives so you can feel your absolute best. Below, learn what your family can do to stay positive and healthy as you navigate the new normal.

Image via Pexels

Take Care of You 

As a parent, your own health often is a low priority, but it’s hard to take care of everyone else if you’re not in a good place yourself. That’s why this one is first on the list. It’s hard not to feel guilty taking care of yourself first, but it’s crucial for helping your whole family thrive during the pandemic.

Practicing self-care can do wonders for your mental and physical health in any situation, but it’s even more powerful during times with so much uncertainty. Think about what activities or habits make you feel centered, and make time for them each day. You might also want to pamper yourself with a few new products to enhance your self-care routine. Self-care products can be expensive, but they don’t have to be if you look in the right places

Check in With Your Family 

Things are always changing as the pandemic evolves, so it’s important to regularly touch base with your family’s feelings. Providing a welcoming environment for conversation will encourage your children to ask questions and express their emotions. Because uncertain times like these can trigger anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns, it’s more crucial than ever to watch out for signs that your kids or partner need help coping. 

Talking things out can be therapeutic and help you grow closer. However, pandemic-induced anxiety and depression should be taken seriously. Seeking out mental health help for your family might be the best course of action if any of you are struggling to cope on your own. 

Believe it or not, self-care also extends to your surroundings. According to Redfin, a cluttered home can actually create feelings of anxiety and stress, as well as trap “bad energy” that can cause problems for everyone in your family. So, take steps to eliminate clutter and keep your home tidy so everyone’s stress levels will stay as low as possible.

Get Moving 

Physical activity certainly isn’t a cure-all for anxiety and depression, but it’s one of the best ways to improve your family’s mental well-being, not to mention your physical health. A lack of free time is often the biggest stumbling block in the way of regular exercise. If anything positive can be taken from the pandemic, it’s that your family probably has more time to start new routines together. 

You don’t have to go far from home to get fit. In fact, many of the best fitness opportunities can be found at home or in your neighborhood. Try going for a family walk around the block every night or putting on music that will make you want to dance as you do chores together. Not only are these great ways to get your heart rate up, they’re also completely free ways to have fun. 

Cook Together 

Just like fitness, food doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant to be healthy and delicious. And even though much of the world is now in a reopening phase, your family might still feel more comfortable preparing meals at home. Luckily, this is also the best move for your budget. 

Chances are, you already have the ingredients you need to make fun and tasty foods at home. For example, recipes like spinach tortellini soup, skillet rice, or legume quesadillas are healthy and easy to make. By getting your kids to pitch in, you can help instill healthy habits and a lifelong love of cooking. 

The pandemic can be especially hard on parents who are trying to juggle work, school, and family life all at once. Taking care of yourself, checking in with your family’s feelings, and striving for healthy diet and fitness goals are just a few of the things you can do to make it through the pandemic together.

Preventing mental health Stigma

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Preventing mental health Stigma

Mental health and psychological problems are still stigmatized, even if 50 % of us will qualify for some disorder once in our lifetime. The stigma can be explained many ways. Sometimes, people don`t know enough about psychology, but even people who`ve read a lot, can have prejudices. I have prejudices and problems with understanding, too, but I try to be aware of it. 

Have you heard stories about people with psychological issues who weren`t believed or felt ridiculed if they tried to explain what they felt? Unfortunately, I have, and it scares me more than anything. I might even have acted differently towards somebody, because we show dislike or contempt in many ways (and you don`t always notice it yourself). When busy, I must confess that I have a tendency to not meet the eyes of a beggar, and I have stepped back when I`m approached by for example an alcoholic. When I do, I remember to watch myself from above, and take a deep breath. Usually, it helps, and I have learnt so much that way. To illustrate what I mean by prejudice, I`ve included some pretty explanatory pictures. 

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Summertime feeling

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Summertime feeling

In two weeks we will be in Croatia. I can’t wait, but unfortunately have to. Not only that, these two weeks will be very busy, since I have much work to do. Due to a change in the group of patients I will work with, I have to say goodbye to many of my trauma patients (but not all, luckily), and that means overtime.

But, it will be worth it. I can process the loss of not seeing many of my wonderful patients while lying on a beach in split, and look forward to all the wonderful people I will see in my office come August.

Metaphors in psychotherapy

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Metaphors in psychotherapy

Good Friday to everyone! Are you ready for the weekend? IMAG0458

I have had a good day at work, with interesting meetings and memorable conversations. I have also had some time to read a bit, and came across two interesting metaphors. In addition, a doctor I work together with, also pulled a metaphor up his sleeve, and when I came down to my office, I had to write them all down. Then I got the idea? Wouldn`t it be great with a book full of metaphors (it probably exists already, but an update is always welcome) ? And then I started to wonder:

Do you have metaphors fitting for life in general and for psychotherapy?

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Life is like a camera

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The cloak of invisibilty

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The cloak of invisibilty

cloak

When she was little, her grandfather told her about the cloak of invisibility. A little girl wanted to get inside a palace, but as she was poor and never could get inside, she could only dream. One day a fairy appeared, holding a blood-red cloak, sparkling in the sunlight. She carefully draped it around the girls shoulders, and left. Three days later, when she by coincidence looked into a mirror in a hotel where she went in to wash her face, she startled when she could`t see herself in the mirror. In shock her cloak fell off her with a heavy thud, and she magically reappeared. Picking it up and taking it on again, she vanished once more.

The following days, she experimented with her cloak, and not only could she not see herself in the mirror when she put it on, no one else could either. With a thumping heart, she went to the palace. The cloak firmly around her slim body, walking with shaky legs, she stepped inside her palace of her dreams. Not only did her eyes rest upon beauty she never knew existed, but she also saw the prince himself. He was so handsome, that her cloak almost fell off her again, but she managed to avoid the disaster by clutching it tight. Three days later, she ventured into the palace again, and saw the prince sitting in the library, reading a book with tears streaming on his beautiful face. Without thought, she ran over to him, always eager to help. When she ran, her cloak made her trip and she fell, exposing the body she always tried to hide. The prince looked up from his book in shock from the loud thud, and the sudden appearance of a girl right in front of him. Their eyes met, and if there is such a thing as faith, this was it.

Three years later, they were happily married and had a girl, a little princess. The girl with the cloak, was never invisible again.

Her grandfather looked at his grandchild and smiled. She sat there, in rapt attention, dreams floating in her eyes. She looked at in him in awe and asked with a tender voice:

«Can I have a cloak like that?» He chuckled, stroking her hair and thinking he would give her anything, if he only could. On her 4th birthday a present was under a bed together with a little fairy doll on top of it. Eagerly she ripped off the paper, exposing a beautiful red cloak with glittering beads all over it. Before her parents, who always disapproved of her no matter what she did, could come in and realize that her grandfather had indulged in her once again, she hid it in the closet where she herself hid when her father roared in anger.

Later, she tried it on. She hid her bruises, misery and pain, and felt safe underneath the soft satin cloak. When she heard footsteps outside her room, she did not shiver like usual. She only put the cloak tighter around her, hiding in her closet, murmuring that everything would be okay. Like magic, her father left her alone, though he probably knew she sat there, and could have dragged her out to the bed like he sometimes did.

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She had always felt invisible, even without a cloak, but this time it felt good. When she recalled how much fear and horror she endured in her life, as an adult, she knew that she finally could change her future. Her cloak was always with her, no matter how dirty and ragged it became. Bit by bit, she felt safe enough to show small pieces of her invisible self to people who loved her. She managed to hide when someone untrustworthy came into her life, and slowly the bruises that had marked her body for so many years, faded. Sometimes, in the darkness before the dawn, she still put the cloak on, and little by little she managed to show herself to the world. She was like a broken mirror, but slowly the pieces came together again, and finally, one day, she was able to look at herself fully. Her husband, a kind man, helped her and found many of the broken pieces. Handling them with care, he fixed the mirror together with her, until they both could look into each others eyes without ever having to turn their gaze away from what they both hid inside.

At their third anniversary, he hid a present under her bed, with a little fairy on top. Her eyes filled with tears, as she saw the soft present underneath it. With shaking hands, she unwrapped it. A new cloak, even softer than the first one, appeared. Her tears flowed freely now, and when her husband came in with a birthday breakfast on a silver tray, he came over and held her hand. Carefully, he draped the soft silk around her shoulders. To her amazement, he wore a black cloak himself, shining in the sunlight from the new day. Together, they walked over to the mirror.

Her tears stopped flowing, and in that moment, life was good.

She never had to hide again.

This post was reblogged from my blog: Mirrorgirlblog

Breaking news: Live from a mental institution

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Breaking news: Live from a mental institution

sickAn anchor woman holds her microphone steady as she reports live from ‘We have the power’ , an old mental institution where the walls should have been painted decades ago. Her voice intermingle with twenty other reporters looking seriously into the camera, pointing occasionally to the building behind them. The anchor woman turns her voice dramatically down when she arrives at the conclusion.

“Sources tell us that in this mental institution, often just keep patients long enough to give them medication before they send them back. They sometimes don’t arrive at the right diagnose, and it is rumored that they don’t take enough time with traumatized victims or that they even consciously decide not to talk about what they have experienced. Only 30% report that they felt better or had hope for the future after being released, and surveys show that staggering 20 % of the patients will be readmitted after not receiving the help they wanted”

Her face is now full of rage. Her mother killed herself after being hospitalized in a mental health clinic. When she had read through her mother’s journal she saw how many pills she was on, barbiturates strong enough to knock out a mammoth. When she tried to find therapy notes where her mother could process her traumatic past, she only found short conversations where the doctors wanted to know if she slept well, eat what she should or if she felt a bit better after taking another pill. She shouldn’t even be reporting, but she manages to do her job, t is important for her to get it all out there.

Another reporter talks with the direction, who promises that they will do everything to make this right. They will look into their routines and see what they can do to make sure this will never happen again.

The news report goes viral. Oprah dedicate her next show to the cause, and Internet users on Twitter have started protest demonstrations, venturing into the street with their fists pumping in the air as they chant: ‘Stop this, stop this, stop this’. They bring posters where with personal accounts: ‘My mother only got three days in the institution, when her depression intensified they said they have done everything they could so she was not prioritized. Take mental health seriously!” Some write messages to the government. ‘We want that our tax payers money go to mental health care for the 450 billions who needs better treatment” or “Why only research on drugs?”.  The protesters don’t make to much of a fuss. They don’t shout out obscenities, but they gather in every city, staying put and showing their support. They have started a peaceul war.

Why don’t we see this in the real world? Where is the public outcry over the state of unsatisfactory mental health care? When someone breaks a leg, we demand full treatment until the injury is fully treated. We never take off the bandage after three weeks instead of six, telling our patient that they can come back if the leg breaks again as it will because it simply was not healed. We protest when the plumber does a bad job, demanding to sue them if they don’t come back and fix it. When politicians have done something wrong, news papers write about it for days, as they do when an actress have broken down and been sent to rehab. But where are the headlines after it thousands of citizens have been ignored by the health care system? Where are the depth interviews with families who’ve seen their loved ones break down after unsuccessful treatment?

In my future news scenario, the media would focus on mental health daily. They would write nuanced articles on every subject relating to how we suffer and what our options are when we do. There would be demonstrations to so that we get what we need.

We would all be small Ghandies, damanding justice. We wouldn’t close our eyes, we would engage and try to change things. The media would not ignore us.

In my future utopia, the mental institution ‘We have the power’ would change their ways. They would give the power back to their patients, not giving up before they had tailor made the treatment that was right for them. They would listen to them and find their resources.

They would use money on educating their employees, giving their patient the very best care. We do it with cancer patients, we even do it at Starbucks to make sure that the customers are a hundred percent satisfied with their coffees. I dream about a world where surveys about how satisfied their patient are with their treatment. Why shouldn’t we give mental health all of our attention? When almost a fourth of us have psychological issues, stigma should be lifted by never ignoring our troubled minds.

We should not be afraid to speak up.

More:

Demonstations

Mental health research in India

 Stigma | Mental Health Commission of Canada

Readmission Rates for Mental Health Patients – NBRHC

Strategies for reducing stigma toward persons with mental illness 

The sound of roars

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First, the lyrics:

[Verse 1]
I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

[Pre-Chorus]
You held me down, but I got up
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake your ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

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Roar by Katy Perry

[Chorus]
I got the eye of the tiger, the fighter, dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me ROAR
Louder, louder than a lion
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me ROAR

Now I’m floating like a butterfly
Stinging like a bee I earned my stripes
I went from zero, to my own hero

You held me down, but I got up
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake your ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

[Chorus]

Source:http://www.directlyrics.com
Posted October 6, 2013

And then the song:

What did you think? I`d love feedback on what YOU discovered, as I might learn something from my readers as well.

More information:

The Daily Post

I have written some posts on dissociation, and even if people might feel this song has nothing to do with it, it still highlights one fact about dissociation: Dissociation means […]

First podcast on kindness to a stranger

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I am still learning new things about the internet and its possibilities.. I`m talking english, so forgive me if the grammar could be better, and the nervousness, but I think the point is made, and that you`ll get an idea of what the podcast is about. I`ve finally sat down to look at podcasts, and have hopefully learnt enough to upload and publish my first one

Follow this link for the podcast

If you`d like to be interviewed about kindness, contact me at forfreepsychology@gmail.com with a request. After a while, I will try to pay the people I interview, but for now, the rewards will be psychological in nature. If you like the idea, remember you can donate to the cause (the money will never be used by me personally).

Depression and learning disabilities: Will you ever read anything like it?

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Andrew Solomon

“Stories are the foundation of identity. We forge meaning and build identity.”

Andrew Solomon

I am moving my eyes back and forth as I chase the words of enlightenment in Solomon`s book. Sometimes I glance up, look out the window and stare at moving cars or people. I let my feelings, awakened from a line beautifully crafted, circulate inside. I let the meaning of it touch me, and let the aftershock of new insights and hope explode. I want to inspire. I want to live.

The power of books, and the people writing them, can never be unappreciated. Instead of learning every lesson ourselves, we can let other words touch us by reading and listening to other`s experiences. The last week, I have either let my eyes rest on «The Noonday demon» or listened to “Far From the Tree “. Andrew`s two books feed you with experiences and knowledge from the first to the last page. The first digs deep into Andrew`s personal depressive demons, the other explores learning disabilities and challenging diagnoses like autism, schizophrenia and down`s syndrome.portable

Both books have a plethora of examples fitting the themes like a glove. They both blow life into theory, by letting us feel the people`s pain so we can also feel it. As psychological theories shows, you learn more when emotional. Another thing I like, is that my eyes never bumped into walls of bad writing, you simply float from page to page, only irritated by lack of time to devour everything at the same time (I have wished many times that I`d taken more time to learn to read faster, like I tried for a while).  

In addition to relevant stories from people with different types of problems, he writes about the newest research and even test many of the methods himself. He is not afraid of testing even alternative approaches that hasn`t been researched much. This is done in a balanced way since he manages natural skepticism blended with openness for new experiences at the same time (he liked EMDR).

I`m not sure how much time he`s used on the books, but I do know he`s been travelling all around the world (Bali, Africa, Europe and of course many states in USA) and investigated both medical and theoretical theories by reading and talking with professionals with diverse thoughts. He even tried to talk with America politicians (who sadly had their hand tied). It is clear he has taken the time necessary to write the book, even if he had to stop writing when Mr. depression knocked on the door.

Product Details

Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Solomon, Andrew (Feb 7, 2013)

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Another positive feature of the book, is the compassion towards people with a variety of conditions most of us would automatically turn our backs too. He is honest while describing his thoughts and experiences, and doesn`t try to walk on the water with the work he`s done. He has a down to earth attitude, also when it comes to the description of own shortcomings. He writes he can feel self-absorbed at times, and tries to look own motives in the eye if they walk next to him. Acceptance is mixed with curiosity, and the end-product is two of the best books I`ve read this year. He talks about the magnificent courage of the interviewees, but seldom points to his own. If he mentions it, he talks about how he should have written more.

I must not forget to mention how much knowledge he has managed to fit in between the stories of people who fight every day. He is capable of doing this in a very readable way. The emotions awakened after stories, make it easier to remember the facts.

He presents a cocktail of different treatment options, and is not judgmental if others chooses something different than himself. Once in the book he states that people can use the strategy they want, as long as it helps. This shows more than anything, that he writes (among other reasons) to help others who suffer.

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity  Sounds like a really interesting read, heard him interviewed on the CBC.

What touches me the most is his own insight about why he writes; Because it gives hope. He chose the stories of people who impressed him, which doesn`t mean that you won`t see the dark sides of depression or learning disabilities, because you will. It just means that he again uses his ability to balance different views with grace and style. In my opinion, if others find it too positive, this is one of the books qualities. We learn better if we realize that we can do something about it. That`s why they have anti-smoking advice on the cigarette packages. You can`t jump into the water if you don`t know how to swim. I could have written much more, but I`d rather just recommend it, and hope that people with interest in psychology and especially in depression or learning disabilities, will run to the next shop (or amazon internet store) and start their own trip to wonderland. 

ReMoved

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ReMoved

In Uncategorized on March 9, 2014 at 9:06 am

I woke up this morning to this lovely short film in my inbox. A sweet friend, who has devoted her professional life to therapeutic foster care issues, sent it along with the words, “Shelley: for those days you wonder ‘why’.”

I’m unsure of how the makers of this film so completely understand the path of a foster child, but I suspect at least one of them has shared the path of this little girl. This film is especially poignant for me, because my children came to me one at a time, which will resonate once you’ve seen the film. Please view and share. My heart is full of tears and love for these artists.