A Toolkit of Tips to Help Alleviate Depression...

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Depression is one of the most common mental health problems today. Studies show that 16.2 million adults in the United States have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. Health professionals estimate that 15% of all adults living in the United States will experience depression at some point in their lives (here for more statistics on depression). While medications are effective in assisting you to feel better, there are other options useful in helping to ease depression.

1. Talk therapy has been found to be one of the most effective treatments for depression. Talking with a counselor allows you to let out buried emotions, worries, and negative thoughts and discuss situations that seem to worsen your depression. All of this is done in a safe, non judgmental environment with a counselor who can help you to learn tools to better manage your depression.

2. Eating well is important in managing your depression. Eating a healthy, balanced diet affects well being and your thought patterns. It is important to eat regularly and not skip meals. Eat balanced meals with quality food and save sugary treats for special occasions.

3. Get consistent and uninterrupted sleep. If you lounge around in the bed during the day or take naps this could worsen the depression. Try to wake up at the same time each morning and go to sleep at the same time each evening. No heavy meals right before laying down and try to stop screen time an hour prior to bedtime so the brain can begin to unwind.

4. Practice self care. Be kind to yourself. Discover what things calm you and improve your mood. It might be a bubble bath, essential oils, scented candles, or spending time outside. Find activities that help you to unwind. You might enjoy listening to music, gentle walking, or reading. Schedule downtime for yourself daily. It's amazing how much a difference a few minutes of self care each day can make in managing your depression.

5. Practice self-acceptance. Beware of how others may try to define you. No one is perfect. You have strengths, but also areas to grow in. Your personality, character, background and all that makes up you, is unique to you. When you make a mistake, guard yourself from talking negatively to yourself. Learn how to treat yourself as a best friend.

6. Reach out and connect with others. Depression can sometimes make you feel alone. Cultivate a positive support circle of family members and friends. Enjoy getting together with those people in your life. Think about connecting on another level by participating in volunteer work. Churches, non profit agencies, and schools are often looking for volunteers of all kinds. Giving to others and interacting with others helps you to stretch out of self and brings a sense of newness into your life.

If you struggle with depression and want to learn more about the best practices to manage your condition, call Arise Counseling Services today at 251-216-9653 for a free 15 minute consultation call or contact me via the website here.  Meeting with a counselor is a step ahead in filling your toolbox with the practical knowledge of how to help alleviate your depression.

Mental Health and Tripods?...

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If I asked you what does mental health mean to you...what would you say?

I actually did ask some random people to define mental health and the result was not only confusion on their part, but quite a few defined it as what it is not...not what it is.

We hear the words mental health, mental well being, mental health matters a lot ...but what the heck does it mean?

I think a good way to explain is to think of a tripod. A tripod has three legs and it not only supports a camera but it maintains its stability so still pictures or long exposure pictures can be taken without sacrificing the quality of focus. 

"Mental health is all about how we feel, think and act."

Mental health can be thought of as a three legged support ...emotional, cognitive, and behavioral...that keeps us stable and in focus. In other words mental health is all about how we feel, how we think, and how we act.

The World Health Organization defines mental health as "a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."

Mental health is an important component of well-being that is applicable to us all...at every stage of life from infancy through adulthood. How do we maintain good mental health? The answers are as unique as each person asked; suggestions sound very much like how some might describe self-care. Self care of our feelings, our thoughts and our behaviors.

"What are good mental health practices?"

So what are some good mental health practices? Being aware of our needs and feelings...talking with friends...sharing feelings...connecting with others...staying hopeful in our thoughts...relaxing...finding a balance between work and play...helping others...getting restful sleep...developing healthy coping skills...contributing to one's community...just to name a few.

As a mental health counselor, I believe it's time to shelf our negative definitions of all that mental health is not and begin openly discussing its positive characteristics. How we can help to incorporate better mental health practices at home, in our workplaces, and in our play across the many aspects of our lives and with all ages of people? It all begins with a bit of education that helps to set our focus straight.

"Yes, mental health matters!"

Is how you are currently feeling, thinking and acting troublesome to you? Talk therapy is an effective means to fine tune your mental health. Call Arise Counseling Services today at 251-216-9653 or go here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call to learn how to stabilize and get your life more in focus because yes...mental health matters! 


Resiliency...the I've Fallen But I CAN Get Up Attitude...


I like to start my morning with a brisk walk. It helps to set my focus for the day ahead. This week while walking I happened upon a partially hidden hole in the middle of the road. I had not noticed it yesterday...maybe it wasn't there. I stopped to examine it further and saw that the hole was very deep as if the middle of the road in that area was sinking. Pressing the sides carefully with my shoe, I saw that the asphalt was soft and could easily become bigger with very little pressure. I thought of the soon to be morning traffic and the possibility of cars getting their tires stuck in the hole or a child crossing the street to a friend's house easily tripping and falling because of the hole. I sought out a helpful neighbor to mark the hole and called City Works.

...the process is layer upon layer until once again the area is strengthened and safe.

I thought of the potholes we all can experience in life. They may seem small at first and yet how quickly, in no time at all, they can grow bigger, wider, and deeper putting into jeopardy the whole foundation of one's reality. It may be a serious medical diagnosis, a death, a deep betrayal, or the end of a significant relationship. These potholes, often appearing unexpectedly, cannot be ignored. And it takes more than one person to patch the hole. Support is needed. Those friends and family members that make up our support system are key, but often professionals are called to help fortify... to assist with building back up...and to examine the source of the problem. Just as with sinkholes, this process is layer by layer until once again the area is strengthened and safe.

...resiliency...the I CAN get up attitude when life's potholes unexpectedly block our path.

Resiliency...it truly is the I have fallen but I CAN get up attitude And yes, this starts with thoughts of "I will not be stuck in this pothole forever." Attitude is key...our thoughts are powerful. Can you visualize life without the pothole? Can you see the pothole as an opportunity to grow...to change? Can you admit the reality of the pothole, while at the same time in hope know that it doesn't have to always be that way? Are you able to say yes, this has truly tripped me up and yes, I may have fallen, but I can brush myself off and move forward? It's those tough questions first asked then answered that give us the oomph to get up again. Through it all we grow in resiliency...the I CAN get up attitude when life's potholes unexpectedly block our path.

Do you feel you have fallen and cannot get up? Call me today at 251-216-9653 or use this contact form to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call today.

Broken Bits of Life as Teachers of Wisdom...


Recently at an eclectic tourist/gift shop at the beach...you know, one with all the bright tropical colors, funky beach hats and T-shirts galore...I found jewelry from a local artist made from tiny pieces of sea glass. I loved the way the artist combined delicate engraved silver charms with bits of colored glass. I excitedly bought a necklace and put it on.

I soon ran into a family member who asked about the necklace. I shared, "It's sea glass...isn't there something special about it?" To which came the reply, "Sea glass? Why would you wear trash as jewelry?" I paused and tried to put into words what I thought, "Oh no, this isn't trash. It's sea glass. There's something mysterious about it...a little like a buried treasure." "Nope, just trash," was the response.

"One person's trash of years gone by becomes another's treasure..."

There truly are many different ways to look at things...varied perspectives. In a sense my family member was correct. Sea glass begins as bits of broken glass from old soda or beer bottles, windows, windshields, anything glass...so yes, someone's trash. But for 30, or 40 or maybe even 100 years it is tossed and turned in both rough and calm waters as its sharp edges are smoothed and rounded. No longer sharp to the touch, it becomes slick and sometimes frosted looking. What a secret, silent story each piece tells! Yet, one person's trash of years gone by becomes another's treasure as enthusiasts all over the globe search for bits of sea glass for collections, to sell, for jewelry or to be used in various genres of art.

"...broken bits of our lives can transform into teachers of wisdom..."

How do you look at brokenness and the sharp edges of your life? Do you throw it away by projecting it outward or stuffing it inward? Little by little over time those broken bits of our lives can transform into teachers of wisdom...the luster of a new perspective or a new understanding. What once was seen as trash becomes a treasure of self knowledge and self compassion. When one accepts the broken bits as teacher, sharp edges become smooth and this wisdom gifts us with treasure. Yes, where one sees trash...another sees treasure.

Are you struggling with broken bits and sharp edges in your life? Do you long to find the treasure amidst the trash? Call Arise Counseling Services today at 251-216-9653 for a free 15 minute consultation call or contact me via the website here. Let your treasure hunt begin!

What your Counselor wants You to Know...


Dear Client,

There are some things I'd like to share with you...please pull up a chair...

  • It's not easy to reach out for help. It takes courage to make that first appointment...to walk into the office for the first time. I admire your bravery.
  • Meeting your counselor for the first time might make you feel nervous or anxious...that's normal. Growth is uncomfortable...But I will do my best to make you feel right at home.
  • It is an honor to me that you have reached out for assistance and chosen me to share the broken bits of your heart. I do not take that lightly.

"Your story is a one of a kind..."

  • Your story is a one of a kind...unique to you. I am not a counselor who puts clients in a box or approaches therapy in a cookie cutter manner. There is no one size fits all. I consider your uniqueness to be a strength.
  • As a counselor I am ethically bound to confidentiality of all you share with me. This would only be broken if I felt that you were at a risk to yourself or to others. Then I have a duty to warn. My office has heard many secrets..it is a safe place to share.
  • I hope that you will be upfront and honest with me to the best of your ability. The more open and transparent you are with me, the better I am able to serve you. I realize a trusting rapport between us takes time...it is something to strive for.
  • Your first meeting with me will be an intake session. This is not counseling per se...it is when I get to know you, the issues that brought you to counseling, your background, your goals, your story. I will ask a lot of questions. You might feel a bit drained afterwards so I always recommend taking it easy for homework.

"I am not a counselor who will tell you what to do...I feel you have the answer within"

  • The next session will be a counseling session that lasts for 55 minutes. We will begin to work on your goals. I will still ask a number of questions...that's my style... but this time they will lead you to a deeper reflection. Your see I am not a counselor who will tell you what to do...I feel you have the answer within. I'm just really good at asking questions and drawing answers out. But it is a process and it takes time.
  • Together we will assess how often you will come for a session.  In between sessions I may offer an assessment, a book, an article or some kind of work to do. It's not busy work and it's your decision to do it or not. This is your therapy and together we will tailor it to you from the beginning to our very last session together.
  • I am a positive psychology practitioner. What does that mean? I look at matters in a different perspective from many counselors. I recognize the problem...the issues...yet I take a strengths based approach. Helping you to better understand your character strengths so that you can grow in resiliency...which is that "I've fallen but I am going to get up" way of living. This is what I feel will most help you live life outside of our sessions.
  • Sometimes therapy can be tough...emotional...sometimes it can be frustrating...sometimes (well I hope often) insightful. There is a rhythm to healing and sometimes you may need to slow down...and it's ok to share that. In fact I am proud when you speak up...it shows me that you are taking ownership of your therapy and that is a gold star in my book.

"Talk therapy is a wise choice...it makes a difference to both mind and brain."

  • Talk therapy has been found to be very effective. In fact there is a growing number of research studies that indicate not only does talk therapy lead to significant and enduring effects on mental health, but these changes can actually be measured in the brain. So talk therapy is a wise choice...it makes a difference to both mind and brain.
  • I could go on...but in closing I want you to know that your brokenness is beautiful...yes I mean it...beautiful. It's the cracks of brokenness where the light can shine in and through...and it is light that chases away the darkness.

I would be honored to accompany you on your journey. Call today for a free consultation call at 251-216-9653 or go to my contact page to schedule a call.

Entering the Conversation about Suicide...

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Often I sneak off to the beach...it's there I write and recharge. On the way there is a two lane back road country highway and a man who sits in a golf cart watching intently each car that passes. He has been there as long as I can remember and I have seen him age over the years. And still he sits at the end of his driveway, faithful to his post. I wonder what he’s thinking? What motivates him to show up day by day?

“Thanks for seeing me.”

Today I slowed down as I neared him. I cant say I did it purposely or because of the slow pace of the ice truck in front of me. But as I slowed, I waved to him - I had never done that before. And with the sweetest gusto he enthusiastically waved back as if his whole body was excitedly saying, “I see you. Thanks for seeing me.”

And then it hit me...he gets it. He understands every person’s deep need to be seen. In his own unique way he is giving that which he may long for himself - to be seen as he sees. And then I thought of the devastating news we were hit with this week. 

“...connected, albeit from afar, and our hearts felt the loss.”

Two celebrity suicides. Most of us would admit we never knew them personally, but we may have carried a bag with Kate’s name on it or vicariously lived through some of Anthony’s adventures watching him on television. We were connected, albeit from afar, and our hearts felt the loss.

Suicide is now considered the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and each year an approximate 44,965 Americans die by suicide. The rate of suicide is highest in middle age. In my state of Alabama, one person dies by suicide every 11 hours ( American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). Suicide and suicidal attempts are escalating.

“Suicide is a disease of disconnection”

Although we are connected by large numbers of Facebook friends and Instagram likes by people we may not even know...we are starved for connection. We are in a crisis of feeling invisible in the midst of the crowd. We long to be seen. Can “seeing” each other and “allowing ourselves to be seen” wipe out the epidemic of suicide? It can start. Through stopping to listen, exchanging pleasantries, sharing a smile, a wave, a hug, taking the time for heart to heart conversation with our loved ones...all practices of seeing and being seen. For suicide is a disease of disconnection - and when one person falls into a despair driven death - we all mourn for we are on this journey together. 

“Let us start a revolution of connection”

It is time for all of us...young and old alike...to counteract the disconnect with act of true connection in our own unique way...by seeing  and allowing ourselves to be seen... before any more beautiful people fall. Will you help me? Let us start a revolution of connection. 

I think one day I may just stop and spend time with Mr. Golfcart man...to thank him for seeing and allowing himself to be seen and gifting that to me so I could in turn gift it to you, my readers. 

If you are in crisis please call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. 

If you are feeling disconnected and in need of someone to help you make sense of how you are feeling schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation here or call 251-216-9653 today.