Therapeutic Bends

14 Nov 2019 General

I’ve had the privilege of providing Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) over 600 times for clients at Revitalist in the last year.  Over 70 percent of people suffering from treatment resistant depression responded positively to the low dose, slow infusions.  The results are even higher with a counselor.  However, at Revitalist, we noticed that more was necessary for our clients’ continued success post treatment.

We discovered what Dr. Raquel Bennett, a psychologist and founder of the KRIYA Institute, and Ketamine infusion psychiatrist Dr. Steven Levine had been noticing and researching, as well.  Clients often struggled assimilating into their new depression free life.

Often isolated from family and friends while suffering from depression, they may find their social support system diminished.  Furthermore, with clarity and improved insight to their condition, they  may discover what they had been missing in life with struggling with the effects of depression.  Upon these realizations, they sort through a list of regrets and how much time and money spent with doctors, medications, and therapists.

This phenomenon was coined by Jessica Katzman as “Therapeutic Bends” or “the effects that can occur when we ascend rapidly from great depths.”  For more, read her article here:

https://psychedelicstoday.com/2018/09/08/rapid-depression-remission-therapeutic-bends-ketamine-assisted-psychotherapy/

All of this makes sense.  Joel Robertson in Peak Performance Living, writes that it requires 3-6 weeks of consistent action using mental health tools and techniques before behavioral results are noticeable. Ketamine boosts the process and provides insight and energy to begin these tasks.

However, even with the benefits of KAP, the brain may seek to return to the old baseline for about 3-6 months, should a client discontinue compliance to new learned behavior.  So when the Therapeutic Bends and discontinued behavior happen, the brain attempts to gravitate back to the original unbalanced baseline.  The client’s brain longs for the familiar friend, depression.

At Revitalist, we knew something must be done to support our clients.  Thus Community Care was developed to provide groups to help with social interaction, learn new coping skills, and practice living into their new self with the support of therapists and peers.

Social support, identity formation, coping skills, accountability to compliance, and psycho-education provide what a client needs to avoid the Therapeutic Bends phenomenon,.  A mixture of Ketamine, Psychotherapy,  and Community Care is how we found a way forward for folks recovering from treatment resistant depression.

Vulnerability is Strength

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.

-Brene Brown

In today’s culture, vulnerability is viewed as weakness.  In counseling, vulnerability provides a springboard for growth and self-awareness.

Brene Brown has a remarkable TedTalk on the topic.  It is twenty minutes well spent:  https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en

It actually takes incredible strength and assurance in self-worth to offer love with arms wide open, waiting for love to either be returned or rejected.  In rejection, strength is found in knowing who you are, what you offer to the world, and not needing others to return your offering to find value in yourself.  When love is returned…well…it feels pretty good.  However, without risking rejection, you may never find relationship.  Vulnerability carves the pathway forward.

Likewise, vulnerability removes violence and vengeance from the relationship.  Resentment and feelings of vengeance often come with rejection for those who turn their pain outward.  Vulnerability is having the confidence in yourself enough to know you are good with or without the other person’s acceptance.  Knowing you are good enough, just as you are, reveals power that doesn’t need to be expressed through vengeance or violence.

Ultimately, vulnerability leads to peace within, which is a sign of true strength.  It is hard and full of risk, but it is worth the risk.

Unconditional Self-Acceptance

31 Oct 2019 General

Have patience with all things but first with yourself.  Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being.  You’re a perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist.  And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.  Unconditional self-acceptance is the core of a peaceful mind.”

St. Francis de Sales

THE SEARCH FOR PERSONAL VALUE

People often search for their personal value in what they accomplish, their relationships, and the wealth and possessions they accumulate.  Inevitably, life happens and we don’t accomplish what we want, relationships are strained, and we don’t possess what we’d hoped.  Typically, we respond by blaming ourself or others.  We are left wondering what we did wrong or why someone would do that to us.  Either reaction leaves us dealing with emotion; anger, sadness, fear, disgust, and the like.

Often our emotions overwhelm our logic, reason, and thought, leading to emotional distress.  Simply put, logic and emotion can’t exist in the same brain space.  So we are forced to regulate those emotions in order to think logically, which is complicated work.

It’s the work of therapy.

Integrating thought and emotion becomes critical in our mental health and emotional wellness.  Finding congruence in your life, along with regulating emotion, leads to unconditional self-acceptance, which leads to peace.

BOTTOM LINE

Your accomplishments don’t define your value. 

Failure is more common than success.  Likewise, success requires a significant amount of happenstance, such as knowing the right people or being born into the right family or being in the right place at the right time or not getting caught.  Hard work increases your odds, but it is only part of the equation.

Like I was told by a mentor before I went to college, “There will always be someone better than you at anything you do.”  Simply put, comparing our accomplishments to others’ suppresses our perceived value of self and is destructive to our well being.

Your relationships don’t define your worth.

Put two people in a room long enough and you will eventually disagree on something.  Relationships can be fraught with disagreement, but in our differences we learn more about the world, others, and ourselves.  Exploring other perspectives cultivates new thought, ideas, and understanding, leading to wellness.

Our brains are social.  Relationships are critical.  How we respect and engage others promotes peace as well.  However, we are human.  Our brains are wired to protect and defend us, which leads to selfishness and emotional disorder.  Realistically, we will inevitably offend and hurt others and they will offend and hurt us.  Learning to maneuver them is a critical aspect of wellness, but our success in them doesn’t define our worth.

Your wealth and possessions don’t define your significance.

We are often taught the American dream is to accumulate wealth and possessions, which ultimately insinuate power.  However, that is not the American dream.  The dream is for equal opportunity for everyone to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

Life, liberty, and happiness promote unconditional self-acceptance.  So pursue that which is not material.  Along the way, remember…

 

You are valuable, worthy, and significant simply because you exist.

 

 

I’m a Joker?

24 Oct 2019 General

I’ve had people ask my thoughts on Todd Phillips’ movie, Joker.  So I thought I’d share them here.

HOW DID I GET HERE?

People often agonize in my office over how and why they have come to the place they find themselves.  What happened?  How did I get here?  My answer?

You didn’t wake up this morning and decide to have this issue.

It takes a lifetime of events, rejections, trauma, and your brain translating information that informs you on how to behave and respond to the world and people around you.  Throw genetics into the mix and it complicates it even more for some.

I find many introverted, thinker/reflector, and feeling/sensitive people come for therapy more than other personality types.

I believe it so because the introverted have a more difficult time relating to others in society’s set up; large school rooms, sports teams, crowded places, and the like.  Thinker/reflectors are often told, “You are overthinking it,” or “You can’t question….”  People who feel deeply, both women AND MEN mind you, have a hard time feeling heard or understood.  Men are told they can’t and shouldn’t feel.

All of this moves these people toward feeling as though they don’t “fit in.”

ARTHUR FLECK

How does this fit in to the Joker, Arthur Fleck?

Depending on all of these factors and many more, any one of us can be driven to madness.  Any of us can become the Joker under the right (or wrong) circumstances.  Feel free to disagree with me, but I have seen people from all walks of life and none of us are exempt…none of us.

A lot of our mental health is determined by the people in our lives…or…not in our lives.  Yes, genetics play a role in it as I have described.  However, people can guide us away from or toward our disorders.

As I watched Joker, I watched a human being devolve over time because one event after the next dehumanized him or created more traumas.  The system not only failed him, it pushed him into his madness.  It failed his mother, too.  I found myself wondering what might have happened if someone positive intervened or if there was one less trauma.

Arthur Fleck didn’t wake up one day and decide to become The Joker.

THE STIGMA

The stigma is real.  The stigma can push one to mental disorder.  There is a stigma that people like The Joker are just crazy.  They are born that way.  They are evil.

As a result, people won’t get help because they are afraid of losing jobs or how it will negatively affect their reputation or relationships.  Often times, support systems call loved ones suffering from mental illness, “crazy,” or tell them to “just buck up and get over it.”  It’s not that easy for some people.

Let me repeat.  None of us are exempt from mental disorder…None of us.  The possibility of suffering from anxiety, depression, grief, guilt, shame, damaged self-esteem, broken relationships, and any personality disorder exists for any of us; even the strongest among us.

In fact, I suspect each one of us might just say we suffer from one of the above issues.  We just haven’t been pushed to express it through violence.  So what exactly would it take to push us toward violence…against someone else…or ourself?

JOKER

That’s what the movie moved my thoughts toward.  No one asks to be born into a situation like Arthur.  No one asks to be born into poverty, or violence, or abuse of any kind.  It just happens.

And some people born into difficult situations have a better support system and better resources to overcome it.  It just happens.

So what am I doing to help those who didn’t wake up and decide to be dealing with mental health issues?  What can I do to erase the stigma?  Those questions matter.

Just ask Arthur’s mother.  Just ask Arthur.

You Gotta Have Faith

17 Oct 2019 General

Are you humming the song after reading that title? Let me help by posting the video.

…caution…the video is a bit risque for some. Proceed with caution. For those who were already humming the song, enjoy your youth again.

George Micheal gets it. Maybe we should think about it in terms of our mental/brain health. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY FAITH? We often think of religion when we consider faith.  However, in terms of wellness and neuroscience, faith is defined by being optimistic and having a positive outlook on life.  Faith is the ability to attach meaning to events and moments in life.  It is surrounded by resiliency, the ability to move forward and make sense of challenges.

RESEARCH PROVES IT The positive impact of faith upon our holistic health is validated by research from Duke and Harvard Medical schools.  Over 100 medical schools in the USA offer courses on the health benefits of spirituality and faith.  Faith develops a healthy brain!  Here are just a few practical benefits:

  • Highly optimistic people have a greater activation of the same part of their anterior cingulate that is stimulated by meditation and prayer.
  • Optimistic individuals have increased longevity when compared to pessimistic folks!
  • Faith in the future is related to hope and optimism and these strengthen the brain and human spirit.
  • Victor Frankl observed that survival in a Nazi concentration camp was tied to meaning and whether one had something to live for outside the camp.
  • Dependence on God or Holy Other enables people to endure and cope with the most grievous human experiences.
  • Mediation on hope and optimism that comes from faith calms and cools the anxious and triggered brain.

So get out there and be full of faith and optimism that something better is around the corner. It just might happen if you’re looking for it.

 

Oceans

Today, my family and I remember the passing of my father two years ago.  It’s been a long road of grief, as we watched for years as his body slowly deteriorated from spinal stenosis and eventually glioblastoma. 

Anniversaries and seasons are tough, particularly baseball season.  The consummate Houston Astros fan, he passed weeks before they won their first World Series.  Those moments are a mixture of celebration and sadness.  So goes grief.

In Hidden Grace: Growing Through Loss and Grief, William Blevins compares grief to being thrown in an ocean.  He says it like this:

Grief behaves more like an ocean wave that engulfs one’s entire being than a sequence of distinct stages.  Over time, grief, like the waves, continuously ebbs and flows.  It comes and goes and there doesn’t seem to be a definite or predictable pattern or schedule.  Like the ocean waves, sometimes grief is calm, and sometimes it is crushing.  In addition, grief appears at unpredictable times and in un expected situations.  Sometimes it washes up painful and agonizing memories and feelings.  At other times it brings up joyful and grateful recollections and emotions.  These experiences can be interspersed with periods when life seems to go on as usual with no serious impact from the loss that’s been experienced.

Allow me to take the metaphor a little further. 

We often view grief as our swim to shore.  If we can just reach the shore, the torment will stop.  We swim.  We know we must and maybe, just maybe we can breathe and the pain with stop.

We begin our journey of grief from loss, transition, or pain in the depths of the ocean.  The waves pull us back and forth tumultuously.  We come up for air and yet another wave pulls us under, drowning us with sorrow.  All the while, we gasp for air, salt burning our eyes, mouth, and throat.  Yet we swim.  We know we must.

Closer to shore, the waves drag us under and they seem to hit us even harder.  Under the waves, we tumble against the sand, scraping our body against the seafloor, shells, and coral, leaving our flesh wounded and torn.  Yet we swim.  We know we must.

Eventually, we are able to stand, our head and arms above water, yet the waves still hurt and knock us off our feet.  Yet we swim.  We know we must.

Closer to shore, the waves only hit us in the back of our thighs, then our calves, and then our ankles.  We step onto the shore, feeling exhausted, yet able to take deep, uninterrupted breaths.  We think we have made it to the place where the pain will cease, but even in the safety of our room, lying on our bed, we feel the effects of the waves on our body.  So goes grief.

We really never stop grieving.  Ideally, the pain eventually moves to a place of transformation.  The wounds heal, but perhaps the scars remain as a reminder of what was.  We learn to appreciate people, places, jobs, experiences, and the like.  We take what we’ve learned from them and make ourselves better people.  We move toward integrating that pain into our lives, making us move closer toward a better self, moving toward self-actualization. 

We move forward.  We swim.  We know we must.

Keep Talking…I Yawn When I’m Interested

Ever had that awkward moment when you yawn while listening to someone? Try being a therapist. It can make for really awkward moments.

Have you ever yawned and watched others yawn back?

In high school, a friend and I used to walk in front of our geometry class and yawn loudly, while the other counted how many people yawned in response. The person with the most yawns won. Good times.

It does this because the brain is social, so it mimics the yawning of others. There are many reasons we yawn and they all benefit the brain and your emotional wellness!

Newberg and Waldman (www.psychologytoday.com/experts/andrew-newberg-md-and-mark-waldman ) describe yawning as “one of the best-kept secrets in neuroscience” for both relaxation and heightened cognitive awareness.  It helps you stay focused, more introspective, and self-aware.

Still not convinced?

  • Studies have shown that students who practiced deliberate yawning for four minutes before taking tests raised their grade point averages!  C’s moved up to B’s, and B’s to A’s.
  • These studies also indicate that yawning significantly reduces the anxiety experienced by those who suffer from anxiety disorders.
  • Yawning regulates the temperature of the brain via a cooling process.
  • Yawning stimulates alertness, increases memory recall, lowers stress, relaxes the body, and increases empathy and social awareness.
  • Yawning regulates the temperature of the brain via a cooling process.
  • Yawning stimulates alertness, increases memory recall, lowers stress, relaxes the body, and increases empathy and social awareness.
  • Many positive effects come from neurotransmitters involved with yawning, such as acetylcholine, glutamate, GABA, and serotonin.
  • Conscious yawning can stimulate natural yawning.

So go out there and yawn! Maybe you and a friend can start a contest. If you do, be sure to pretend you’re throwing away a piece of trash at the front of the room and use exaggerated stretching motions. Works every time.

PS- I’ve yawn ten times while typing this blog. I bet you have, too. If not, go look at a bunch of pictures of people yawning. I dare you.

Signs Its Time you Need Therapy

 

As a therapist, I’m often asked, “How do I know I (or someone I love) need(s) therapy?” 

Here are the signs I usually give folk to consider.  Understand, this is not a comprehensive list, THERE ARE MANY MORE REASONS, but these are for people wondering if they should consider therapy and the answer isn’t obvious to them. 

 

MOOD CHANGES

Do you seem short-tempered more than usual?  Or you can’t seem to feel happy even when you know you should?  If your mood seems a little out of whack, therapy may be necessary for insight and to empower you to be able to more effectively regulate your emotions.

ANNIVERSARIES OF EVENTS YOU GRIEVE

We grieve many things throughout life; the loss of a loved one, a transition in life, losing a job, a child moving up a grade.  At each anniversary, you are reminded of the loss or transition.  These anniversaries often bring up grief and memories that need to be processed with a therapist.

 

CHANGE OF SEASONS/HOLIDAYS

The change of seasons can change your affect.  Longer periods of darkness each day, no color on trees, birds flying south, and other seasonal changes can change your mood.  Holidays can be reminders of hard memories or losses.  When seasons or holidays approach, go talk with a therapist to help you move through them more effectively.

YOUR TRIGGERS SEEM TO HOLD MORE POWER OVER YOU

Although some triggers can be positive, the negative ones can require therapy for insight and tools to help regulate them.  Triggers occur when our senses are woken and remind our brain of trauma or create negative thoughts.  Pay attention to how you are responding to them.  You may need to address them with a therapist.

ANXIOUS AND INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS

Anxiety can be a source of many physical problems and can produce intrusive thoughts that keep you from functioning well.  Therapy can provide many mindfulness techniques that help you calm your anxiety and provide your brain with the much needed chemicals to find balance.

SUMMARY

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact a local therapist.  Understand that good therapy involves a therapist that empowers you to learn to regulate your thoughts and emotions and one who empowers you to make informed decisions

A therapist’s job is not to give you advice.  She or he should help you verbally process your experiences and provide you insight, perspective, as well as tools and techniques to help you work toward integration and self-actualization.

If you are asking the question above, you probably need therapy.  Stop reading and make an appointment, now.

Lastly, treat therapy like a checkup with your doctor.  At minimum, go two times a year.  Talking is cathartic and opens up your subconscious to avoid new triggers from forming.  It pulls you from the fog and gives you a new lens from which to view your issues.

If you need help finding the right one, let me know.  If I can’t help you, I know many phenomenal therapists that can! Try me!

where-the-hell-is-matt-2008

Smile, Laugh, Flail

In 2008, a video surfaced on YouTube entitled Where the Hell Is Matt? Almost 52 million views later, it still brings me boundless joy to watch.  If you want to know more about it, here is the website. https://www.wheretheheckismatt.com/

The song resides on my playlist and I return to the video often when I need some joy in my life.  Trust me.  Watching it will bring a smile to your face and it will lift your spirit. Go on. Try not to smile and feel good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY

How can 52 million people be wrong?

What is it about this video?  Beyond the obvious, it includes several elements required to develop a healthy brain:

MUSIC

Music is one of the best tools to help develop a healthy and balanced brain because it involves both logic and creative sides of your brain as you match words, rhythm, and notes.

 

DANCING OR MOVEMENT

Exercise or movement of any kind sends endorphins to your brain that calm and cool it, helping you find balance.  Most people in the video flail about laughing, full of joy because the movement can be utterly freeing and induces those chemicals our brains need.

 

SMILES AND LAUGHTER

Another fine way to get dopamine to your brain for balance is by smiling and laughing.  Go back and watch the video again.  I bet you can’t find ONE person not smiling or laughing.  Ok.  The soldier in the Demilitarized Zone…but that’s it.

And how can Buddy the Elf be wrong?

 

SOCIAL

We are created for social interaction.  The brain is social.  If I smile at you, you feel good. If I frown, you wonder what went wrong. Additionally, when you have an open-minded, nonjudgmental, nondualistic dialogue with people, you increase your emotional intelligence. These positive interactions release the pleasure chemical, oxytocin, helping you find balance and happiness.

 

So what do you get when you combine music, laughter, smiling, dancing, movement, social interaction, and just plain flailing about? All the chemicals your brain needs to feel calm, cool, and balanced.

As Matt’s videos demonstrate, the world is too big and beautiful to get lost in darkness.  Laugh, smile, dance, sing, travel, flail, and be social!  And don’t be surprised if you find me dancing and flailing about ridiculously the next time you see me.

baby holding moms hand

Post Partum and Mental Health

by Flo Paquet

Warning, a highly tragic news story is about to be mentioned. 

On May 7th a woman from our neck of the woods – Seymour, TN, was found, wrists scratched, and with her two infants unresponsive in the bath tub. I hear this story on the coattails of many others first hand, this year, from my own small community of clients, who have journeyed with post partum psychosis, OCD, depression, and so much trauma. 


I am happy that the local news has asked me twice now to cover these issues – I see that post partum mental health is finally starting to get the acceptance and attention it needs. People are opening their minds and hearts to an issue covered in shame and secrecy. 


However, as we get more of this attention and information – information that comes too little too late and it is often incredibly tragic – there is still so few answers to the questions: What do we do? Where do we go?


For the parents who are suffering, I often hear they feel alone, crazy, and like terrible people. How can they possibly not be happy after having a baby? How could they possibly desperately need space? How could they have fleeting thoughts of abandoning, running away, or hurting their baby? How can they be anything but the glowing new parent? 


What I know is that they aren’t alone, crazy, terrible or even unusual. If they felt like it was OK, maybe they could reach out and get the support that could prevent the tragic cycles and accidents that often follow unattended mental well-being.

In light of this, and hoping to answer those questions of what to do and where to go, all of us here at Revitalist are lit up, passionate, about having a new offering for post-partum parents:


 A 6 week empowerment group to support new parents’ ability to feel healthy, strong, and confident through the biggest possible transformation in life. 

It will be a place for new moms to learn they are not alone, not crazy, not stuck, not horrible. It will be a place to learn tools to tend to their well-being with ease. It will be a place to feel held, supported, and connected to people who get it. 


If you, or a loved one, might be interested, email growwithflo@gmail.com

More about Flo:

https://revitalistclinic.com/team-members/florence-flo-paquet-lmsw

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