Tag Archives: counseling

Year in Review 

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Year in Review 

What a year, 2016. Where do I even begin?

It started off in Oakland, which is always great because I love spending time with my brother. I was channeling creative energy into helping him give his place a refresh. It turned out really nice- I love to decorate. 

I also started graduate school at SMU. I am shocked it’s been a year. Pursuing a career path that I know is ultimately going to be way bigger than me is daunting. I’m up for the challenge, but I have to mention that it has been a huge challenge. 

Personal growth has been a huge part of the last five and a half years of my life and counseling has only pushed me further in the direction of self knowledge and awareness. 

That kind of information, if I’m able to apply it to my life, is invaluable. It can also be painful though, if I’m being honest. I didn’t want to recognize that I was struggling for the first eight months of this year. Why would I? I literally have everything going for me this year that I didn’t have last year. I have my own place, I’m headed toward a fulfilling career and I finally feel like I’m moving forward.

If everything was on the up and up, then why didn’t I feel like getting out of bed? Having spent the most recent four months of this year reflecting on why I was feeling that way, I can definitively say that depression is a persistent, sneaky bastard.

It was scary. I thought all kinds of other things were wrong with me. I had no energy or motivation and I perceived almost everything as overwhelming and sometimes even impossible. I spent a lot of time sleeping or in the dark with my eyes closed. I made it to school and work, and that was about it. Eventually I knew it was time to go back to therapy.

Luckily, I found the best therapist I could imagine. She helped me learn to recognize the early signs of depression, develop internal coping skills for depressive thoughts, set realistic expectations for myself, develop more self compassion, pull away from situations that contribute to feelings of hopelessness, and look at the big picture when I need motivation.  I made a lot of changes. We wrapped up last week and I’m going into 2017 feeling much more prepared for life in general. 

my nickname is krabby, and it’s seemed especially fitting this year.

Ha, well, this is what happens when I don’t write. I sit down to write one thing and end up on a completely different tangent. However, it wouldn’t be authentic to write about the fun parts of this year without mentioning my depression because I was carrying it with me for well over half of it. 

That being said, I traveled quite a bit this year, gave my own apartment a refresh and even threw a Christmas party. So stay tuned for the rest of my year in review. Thanks for reading.. to be continued.. 

On Children and Grief

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On Children and Grief

Hi there!

As usual, it’s been a minute since I have posted.  I could tell you any number of excuses why, but, I’ll spare you and just thank you for reading today.

Many things have happened in the last seven months.  A quick recap: I got my tonsils out, I went on a trip to New Mexico, I’ve even been to visit my brother in the Bay thrice since then.  I’m still in grad school working toward my master’s degree in counseling with an emphasis on grief, expressive art therapy and play therapy.  I still love it.

That’s why I’m writing today, actually.  If you’ve read my blog, spoken to me, or seen me in the last three and a half years, you probably know that I’m a nanny.  It is also very likely you know that princess buttercup and mr. butterbean’s mom died (October 24, 2014).  Having been through the death of my own mother, combined with experiencing life with the kiddos I nanny leading up to, during and after the death of their mom is what motivated me to seek a career in counseling.

Why though?  Well. Losing a parent sucks.  Regardless of the circumstances, it is profoundly distressing on so many different levels- some of which take years to understand- and I’m speaking of this happening during adulthood.  As a child, it’s profoundly distressing on many different levels, for many years and at each new stage of development and for each major life event after the loss.

Kids are resilient, however, that’s a lot of emotions to process over and over for the rest of a lifetime.  Especially if the adult(s) in the family are dealing with their own grief, role changes, financial stress and/or all the other stressors that come along with the death of a loved one.  The kids could easily be overlooked, or due to misinformation, not even acknowledged as a grieving person.

Everyone who  is capable of loving is capable of grieving and everyone-especially the youngest of humans- deserves to have their feelings about the death acknowledged.  It’s hard for kids to articulate what they are feeling, they simply don’t have the language. As a result, sometimes their actions are not easily recognized as being grief related.

Children who experience the death of someone they love need to have a safe space or trusted person to explore those overwhelming and confusing feelings.  This Thursday, November 17th is National Children’s Grief Awareness Day.
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Please join me in acknowledging and furthering a cause that I feel so strongly about that I have dedicated the majority of my current life to be that trusted person not only for the littles that I nanny, but for other children in need, including the kiddos at the organization for which I volunteer- Journey of Hope.

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Newbie training/Orientation in August

You can support the cause and let thousands of grieving children know that you’re on their side by simply wearing blue on Thursday.

If you have a child or work with children, you can print a butterfly for them to decorate and tell them they can hold it up when or if they don’t have the words to say that they’re hurting.  By responding with extra love, attention and empathy, we empower their little souls by helping them recognize that we care and  will do whatever it takes to guide them safely through one of the toughest parts of the human experience.  We can help them learn that in pain, there is strength.

Thank you for reading and I hope you help me will spread awareness of this important day.

Donate to Journey of Hope here

Donate to the National Alliance for Grieving Children here

Read more about what grief looks like in children here and  here

Hope Returns

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I think we can all agree that there’s something to be said about people in our lives that can see us.  Of course I don’t mean they see us in the physical sense. I mean they see past surface level and have a genuine understanding of who we are on the inside.  They “get” us, regardless of if we want to be gotten.

Not unlike a lot of people, my first defense against pain is laughter.  Might as well laugh about it  so I don’t cry, right?  Damn right.

So needless to say, my  walls of defense were at their peak one year ago. The problem I encountered with having such high walls is that it caused a lot of cognitive dissonance.  Continuing to joke about or completely ignore what hurt me on the outside was eating me alive inside.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I can deal with guilt, I can deal with anger, I can deal with sadness, I can even deal with regret, but the one feeling that I cannot deal with is hopelessness.

When I started to feel hopeless on top of guilty, on top of sad, on top of angry, on top of whatever else was going on inside me I decided that I needed someone to help me work all of this out.  I needed someone to talk to who wasn’t emotionally invested in me, wasn’t familiar with my family and most importantly, someone who wasn’t judgy.  I needed a therapist.

When I first started, of course I didn’t know what to expect and that scared the hell out of me.  My therapist seemed nice enough.  She asked me why I was there and  I told her that it was mostly for grief counseling but also to work on some other issues.  I think I met with her when I was back and forth between cities about six times.

I had my reservations about her, she was a grad student.  I couldn’t really hold that against her though,  my only option was students because that’s all I could afford.  The first red flag came when  said she would follow up with me once, then never did.  Then, once I got a hold of her again the same thing happened.  As someone who was struggling with abandonment issues anyway,  I couldn’t open up to someone I didn’t trust.  I decided to switch to a different student. And I am so glad that I did.

So at the beginning of the post I discussed certain people who are able to “see” us.  My new therapist saw me.  She called me out for laughing about my pain and encouraged me to deal with what was really bothering me.  I didn’t even realize I was upset about some of the stuff I was upset about.

She challenged me to move forward.  She challenged me to  challenge myself, realize my self worth, and expect nothing less than what I deserve.  This was not easy, years and years hurt can’t be fixed overnight.  Week after week, she challenged me and helped me realize that I could be better, I was better, I deserve better.

For nine months, brick by metaphorical brick,  I worked to tear down the walls I had been building for eight years.  So by the time I walked into my last session, one week ago, I felt light.  I was no longer weighed down by my past, but looking toward the future.  I had hope.  I knew I  was ready, and so did she.  She put it so kindly:

“When you first walked in here, I saw a strong woman on the outside who was completely broken on the inside.  Since then, I’ve watched you fight to put yourself back together.  And that, to me is inspiration.  That, to me, is true strength.”

With that, I  am done writing about the past.  It’s been a long story, it’s been a sad story, it’s been a story that shaped who I am becoming as a person.  I was happy to share it with anyone who it may have helped.  Thanks for reading, til next time!