Dealing with Unplesant Emotions with Alcohol, Drugs and Addiction


This photo on the right describes a position I take on any addiction problem. Alcohol, drugs, overeating, pain killers, smoking, sex, and vaping are problems unto themselves however, all reflect an attempt to escape both reality and unwanted emotions. If you don't want to feel some unpleasant emotion, try an addiction, it works fast and is quite effective. What to do? Well, therapy will help. Quit the addicting behavior and look deeper to explore what you are truly trying to escape. Notice and realize the solution and impact is temporary. The "drug" may distract or ameliorate the mood or emotions at that moment, but they will be repressed, stored and become ever more prevalent.
  • Develop a plan or strategy on what to do instead. 
  • Understand that the emotions will not go away, but become more intense and remain unresolved.
  • Identify triggers and stressors that induce or contribute to the addiction.
  • Find the courage to confront the feelings and address them.
  • Develop a support network to redirect your emotions. 
  • Liberate yourself from the addiction and emotional prison.
  • Get support and help to uncover and deal with your emotions.
  • Remember, alcohol is a depressant influencing sleep, energy, mood and more.
  • Prepare yourself for a flood of emotions that you have repressed. 
It may be time to find, create, reconstruct a reality that works for you. Of course, you have to stop, treat or eliminate the addictive process, then proceed with the deeper exploration and remedies. Out with the old, in with the new. Replacing habits is the pathway to change. 

Compassion Fatigue--What is it? What to Do?


On Friday, January 11th, 2019, I participated on an esteemed panel of professionals from the Texas Bar Association in collaboration with TLPA (Texas Lawyers' Assistance Program) and TYLA (Texas Young Lawyers Association) on the topic of "Compassion Fatigue" among lawyers. Chris Ritter, Director, Texas Lawyers' Assistance Program,
Erica Griggs  from TLAP presented programs and services available for lawyers in Texas from the Texas Bar Association.  Stan Perry, attorney with ReedSmith LLP was the moderator. Jenny Lee Smith was the program organizer for this CLE program. My role was to elaborate on the impact of compassion fatigue mentally, physically and behaviorally. This is a delicate and crucial topic impacts many lawyers in very destructive ways with severe consequences over time including, problems with depression, anxiety, irritability, sleeplessness, cumulative stress. It is not uncommon for lawyers with compassion fatigue to attempt to ameliorate these symptoms with alcohol or drugs, causing even greater dysfunction. Self-care gets neglected and overtime, problems with work, marriage, children escalate can become catastrophic in their lives. These problems  don't have to be the case. TLAP CAN HELP. Life balance, wellness, time for social interaction, exercise all contribute to a greater sense of well-being. Review this problems, symptoms and treatment options in the handouts that were provided to the attendees. There will be a podcast available to listen to the  entire program soon. 




Sharks........Good advice for all of us!!!

The show the Sharks has a cast  of talented, rich, successful entrepreneurs, who know how to succeed in business and make LOTS of money. The show invites people make a pitch to get funded by one or all of the Sharks to expand their business. The 16 "opportunities" are the graphic is to help you better understand the elements to consider for your own business, company, programs or practice. If you are a manager, get with your team to go over these different qualities and see how you measure up. Take an inventory to determine where you stand on the principles the Sharks use to help them decide to invest or not into  a proposition or pitch. Can you answer these questions adequately? Where do you need to focus to meet your goals? Take time to do an inventory and beef up the items you find weak or lacking. Makes sense to me.

Online Therapy: The Future is Here.........Now

The field of psychotherapy is evolving in some pretty dramatic ways. Access to care, social media, apps to track mood, blood pressure, nutrition, days of sobriety, and a vast number of other psychological and medical changes in delivery of services are expanding daily. Trends and data show new levels of comfort and trust utilizing video conferencing for anxiety, depressions, addiction and drug problems is not only viable, it has been found to be quite efficacious. Confidential and secure TeleMental Health platforms are making access to psychotherapy easier while garnering greater access to mental, emotional, and medical concerns.
The landscape is changing for how to access and receive mental health programs, services and treatment. TeleMental Health is a very positive and effective new delivery system and gaining tremendous traction in the world. These new videoconferencing systems are secure, encrypted, and HIPAA compliant (medical records privacy rules). These programs work on your phone, iPad or tablet and computer. All you need is a good internet connection. This wave is already happening. As it turns out, most people these days are quite comfortable with online communication. Maybe too much so, but TeleMental Health Counseling is here to stay. It is safe, secure and confidential. Thus far, I have worked in over 23 counties with various video platforms. There are consents, needed, just as in any psychotherapy practice, training and etiquette to be followed. Video conferencing and video therapy makes getting help easier, more accessible with a wide network of providers. In the VSee photo below, famous Olympic Gold Medal swimming champion Michael Phelps, has done a commercial about how he was helped with his depression and saved his life via video counseling. 

































































































































Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue is defined as the cumulative physical/emotional/psychological effects of continual exposure to traumatic or distressing stories/events when working in a helping capacity where demands outweigh resources. The two largest contributing factors are:
1) high volume work load,
2) exposure to client distress and trauma.
How do you avoid burnout? Well, the easy answer to say is keep your life in balance, but not so easy to do. Work and family demands, children, financial stressors all contribute. However, exposure to conflict, listening to clients that are angry, depressed who make demands and expect you to fix all of their problems can wear you out creating a series of other consequences. What happens to sleep, longer work hours, less time with friends, plan, fun or nutrition? Some waring signs of compassion fatigue: 
  • excessive workloads the encroach on personal time,
  • Feeling exhausted all the time; nightmares,
  • becoming pessimistic, irritable and losing faith in humanity,
  • becoming generally unhappy and unproductive and no longer feeling on top of your game.
This is when other more serious problems can emerge like excessive drinking to cope or even more destructive coping mechanisms. Eventually, health breaks down, marriages fail, and addiction can take over. 
To determine if you have compassion fatigue, this link will take you to a brief self-scored test. Compassion Fatigue Self-Assessment
Research based suggestions (increase self-awareness, debrief, self-inventory, be more intentional about balance and self-protection)
Buffers (humor, exercise, adequate sleep, friendships, hobbies, vacations, healthy team environment, supervision and support)
Re-establish boundaries (work, family)
Conclusion. . . . Get Help, Refresh, Renew, and Feel Rewarded

For a more extensive self-evaluation, click on the link below. 


Many Faces of Anxiety


As you can see by this photo, anxiety has many faces and ways it can present itself. Everyone reacts differently to anxiety. Essentially, anxiety is fear, connected to your Amygdala, an organ in your brain designed to protect you from danger. Once the Amygdala is alerted to danger, very powerful stress hormones are released such as cortisol and adrenaline. Your entire system is setting up for battle to protect you, however, what happens when the fear is imaginary? What are the long term effects of activating your Limbic System repeatedly? I will tell you, physical and mental breakdowns occur. Anxiety eventually invades your life and takes over. Problems with sleep, energy, concentration, social engagement, become problematic. Your world begins to shrink down from "anticipatory anxiety." Now you begin to worry about everything and go into an avoidance mode, which only increases anxiety, more stress hormones are released and additional  physical and emotional problems. 
Your entire life gets hijacked by anxiety unless you learn to control it, confront it and learn skills to relax and calm yourself down physically and mentally. Methods that are scientifically proven to help manage anxiety include; meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, yoga, biofeedback, hypnosis, CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Thought Stopping, mental rehearsal, desensitization (via gradual exposure), use of imagery are all effective tools and ways to manage anxiety. 


























































































































































































































































































































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