Disney Series of Self-Help- Little Mermaid. Don’t give your voice away, yo!

In the second instalment of DSSH we turn to the age-old classic, The Little Mermaid. Holy shit I went to the cinema to watch this and now I watch my little ladies dress up as Ariel and ‘swim’ across the tiles in our house. It’s a tad creepy, but cute at the same time. Nothing like a mermaid, crab and a fish to teach you life lessons, huh?

little mermaids
Mermaidception. Is this not utterly creepy? Love these girls, but…. creepy.

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Thursday Tidbit- Shit happens… well how shit starts to happen

So back to Thursday tidbit- the tiny technical part of the week (like what I did there? I’m on an alliteration roll on Instagram at the moment and I think I’m freaking addicted now!). How the hell does anxiety, depression, anger etc come about? Seems like it’s this magical thing that pops out of nowhere and BAM! You’re feeling like shit. This Thursday, let’s have a look at how these things develop. Understanding the background to it all is really important, so then we can work on the components to feeling better. We gotta start here so we can then get the hang of changing our thinking (and changing kids’ thinking…. and partner’s thinking… we can take over the world! Muahahahahaha).

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Imaginary Friends: Is this real life? Is it just fantasy?

Oh Garfield. You so funny. I have a secret penchant for all things Garfield. Watch out….

Oh man. To have the imagination of a kid again. Apparently I used to have quite a wild imagination growing up, I have a ‘publishing folder’ packed with stories I would write incessantly as a kid. All with bizarre ideas and names and endings. Hilarious. Now I’m just a dull and boring git. See what you too can turn into, kids?!

My girls are now at an age where imaginative play is really coming out of the woodwork. I.can’t.get.enough. It is the BEST! They’re conjuring up crazy games and stories, well Miss Disney Princess (DP) is doing the directing and Miss Small Potato (SP) is just going along for the ride, but it’s all just awesome stuff. The names Miss DP comes up with are hilarious. A tiger named Belson. A horse named Moustache. No idea where she’s coming up with it all, but I’ll run with it.

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The Disney Series of Self-Help- Beauty and the Best. AKA Jerks. Not Cool

You know how all the ‘research’ and ‘experts’ say that watching TV and stuff is bad? Well I say what a load of crap. TV can be great, and you know, if you can’t afford therapy, then look no further than your friendly Disney movie. That’s a treatment program right there. Neatly packaged in 90 minutes with bright coloured characters and catchy tunes. My work here is done.

The original Freud. Minus the creepy sexualised stuff

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The Monday Fuzzies

garfield mondays
I’m feeling ya, Garfield. On a side note, is he not the coolest cat ever?

Mondays. Ugggh, Mondays. I know some people are chipper about the start of the week, bursting with enthusiasm and energy. I am not one of those people. Sorry. I start to get my grump on Sunday night, annoyed I’ve spent half my day preparing for the working week. Cooking, cleaning, sorting out clothes so that people think I have some sort of a wardrobe (as opposed to recycling 2 key pieces which is all I really own at this point). I spend my Sunday night checking emails; it’s like watching a car crash- awful, you don’t want to look, but you’re almost compelled to. And then I stew on the requests, demands and questions of eleventy billion people all wanting a piece of moi. It.just.sucks

So, being Mental Health Week and all, and being that I probably should put my money where my mouth is, I’m going to try and approach Mondays a little more differently. I’m going with The Fuzzies. Ever played the game Warm Fuzzies as a kid? That. If you’re reading this and thinking “The Fuzzies? Is she fuzzy in the head?”, you’ve probably got a good point there. But The Fuzzies are all about pointing out what’s going on around you that’s pretty good. And telling people nice things. And doing nice things. Instead of just looking at what’s not so great. So, instead of maybe acknowledging in your mind (or thinking “so they bloody should!”) when your husband actually put his dishes in the dishwasher instead of just chucking them in the sink (not that I’m referring to anyone in particular…….*cough cough*), actually making a point of going up to him and saying “oh that’s awesome you’ve stacked the dishwasher. Thanks heaps”. Wanna know what’s going to happen? He’s going to feel all chuffed that you’ve noticed what he did, he’s going to bask in the glory of a compliment and then he’s going to want to do even more nice things. It’s like collecting Mickey Mouse badges. We all operate off praise- we like to know if we’re doing something nice or good, and if we find we are, then we’re going to keep going. Works a treat and it’s not manipulative at all……

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Thursday Tidbit- Send that fear of flying packing!

We’re leaving on an airplane….. don’t know if our mental sanity will be intact again….

Me…. This.is.me.all.over

So we’ve spent the last week packing, planning, organising, stressing (me, not the rest of the family!) in preparation for our little sojourn down south. Holidays are the best! That feeling of anticipation and excitement upon waking up and heading to the airport, forgetting what day of the week it is, taking things at your own pace. The best! What’s not the best is the stress and panic in the lead up to ensure that everything is checked, booked, paid for, children are accounted for. Oh yeah, and if we’re flying, then the preparation my husband has to undertake in order to get on a plane. The poor guy has quite the fear of flying. I’m sure he married me for the free therapy. Me? I love flying. I’m one of those freaks that enjoys turbulence. I’ve never thought about it until I met him. Our first flight together I noticed he had stayed on the same page of his magazine for about half an hour. “Are you ok?” I asked him, curiously. Then I spied his white knuckles gripped to the armrests and I surmised that perhaps he wasn’t as keen on flying as I was. But you know, it hasn’t stopped him! We’ve been along the East Coast of Australia, to Vanuatu, all across Europe and the UK, and even up a giant mountain in Switzerland (Mt. Titlis to be exact. He he he…. I still giggle when I say it. It’s trying to be a Mountain of great esteem, but really. It’s titless. Ha ha.  #growup ). It’s taken a lot of work on his part, but he has learned to cope with his fear of flying pretty darn well.
He’s certainly not alone in his fears. Aerophobia (fear of flying for those playing at home) is really common, and it can be severe and persistent. I’ve had clients who have stopped flying for 20 odd years- it’s a game changer. What can be done? Well here’s a couple of things my husband has done (possibly guided by some chick…)

What? Not funny? Oh.

Slow down! Slow your breathing down, slow your body down. When we take short, shallow breaths, as we do when we’re a bit panicked, it sends a message to the brain that shit is about to hit the fan, and our minds then act accordingly. Doesn’t help one bit! Relax the muscles in your body, relax your breathing. Just one step at a time
Look at your thoughts– what are they saying? What’s your trigger? Is it being so high up? Is it the feeling of helplessness and lack of control (which is what my husband says is his thing)? Is it being in a confined space? Get to the bottom of it so your fears can be reassessed
Look for the facts. Where is your evidence for such thoughts? Just because something pops up in your head, doesn’t mean it’s 100% true. Flying is actually safer than driving, did you know? Cray! Pilots are rigorously trained, and have regular tests and simulation exercises they have to do.
Take a fear of flying course. Qantas are known to hold some, but there are also some good ones online. See here and here and if you’re in Brisbane and have cash to splash then here There’s even an app here
It’s all about desensitisation. I love the word desensitisation. It just sounds fancy and proper. Technically we call it ‘systematic desensitisation’, where you start of small, get yourself desensitised to one aspect, or a small part of the fear, and then work your way up the chain. Once you’re used to the idea, and you’ve allowed the fear to peak and then drop again (think of the rise and fall of a wave), you start to see that you can cope. With a few clients I’ve had in the past, what I do is get them to visualise every step in getting ready to board a plane. I’ll play some airplane noises, and get them to really put themselves into the situation. Sure, it doesn’t feel too nice initially, but it’s about re-writing the script, rather than saying “oh my gosh I can’t do this! This is scary! What if the plane crashes?”, we look at “I can give this my best shot. This is safe, normal and it will be over very soon” (unless you’re taking an overseas trip, then you’re screwed. Kidding! I kid! :P). While the feelings of ick rise up, slow that breathing down, relax those muscles and kick in with the balanced thoughts that you’ve devised, based on the facts you’ve found. Soon enough that panic subsides and you’re feeling more at ease.
Talk about it. Talk about it a lot. Get used to the idea, get support from others.
• Take something comforting with you- a book, some great music, fave lollies, a familiar scent. Anything that will put you at ease and take your mind off the panic- even if only temporarily.
Travel with a ‘support buddy’. Someone who can recognise your ‘early panic warning signs’ and coach you to kick in with your stress-reduction techniques. My poor husband instead gets me…. “Oh you’re fine. It’s not even a big deal. It’s not like we’re dealing with spiders or anything!” I promise you I am a nice psych!  And if you can’t travel with a support buddy, let the airline hosties know that you’re a little freaked and they will be your buddy!
Celebrate! Even an attempt to calm yourself is worth of a celebration. Doesn’t have to be perfect- it’s not about eliminating the fear entirely, it’s about having it more manageable so you feel comfortable and are able to get on with it.

So wish us luck as we endure multiple flights over the next week! Well, really, I just want you to wish me luck as I keep my shit together trying to keep the organisation flowing and avoid having a glass of wine at 8:15am while my girls bicker on the plane trips.
What kind of traveller are you? Are you a fellow turbulence lover? Does flying freak you out? What do you do to cope with flying? Share your tips!

Thursday Tidbit- Rolling in the Deep

Aaaaand we’re back! Another Thursday tidbit. Last week we looked at everything anxiety, this week let’s turn the focus to anxiety’s close cousin, depression. Something that I think many, if not all, of us have seen- either directly experiencing it ourselves, or watching others go through it. Just like anxiety, depression is ok, it’s normal and it’s common. And you are not alone at all!

Pretty apt description, yes?

What is depression?

It’s important to know what depression is, and how it turns into an actual disorder. We can all feel low, and have cruddy moods from time to time, but depression is more ingrained. A clinical episode of depression lasts at least 2 weeks, and has many different features; from crying, irritability, to apathy, hoplessness to flat mood, negative thinking, to sleeplessness/oversleeping, loss of appetite/over-eating. It is the pits! Depression can come at key points in our lives, stick around for a bit and cause havoc, and then bugger off. Or sometimes it can stay for a very long time; years even. In its extreme, depression can cause psychosis (hearing and seeing things that aren’t there), or suicidality, and that can be very scary for all involved.  Clinical depression is all encompassing. It affects our minds, our emotions, and even our bodies.  Like anxiety, it becomes a problem when it’s over and above what would be expected for that person at that point in their lives. And when it starts to eat away at a person’s overall wellbeing .

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Flipping the Switch- Getting Rid of the Ick


obscene gestures
Ain’t that the truth….

Today was a hard day at work. It comes with the territory I guess. I think for the most part I can switch off to everything I hear, and everything I see, but there are some days that are harder than others. Today was one of those days. We psychs tend to take more on board than maybe we should. It’s absolutely nothing compared to the pain of those in front of us, and then at times we can feel guilty for feeling that heavy feeling, when all we’re doing is listening and talking. You can literally feel the hurt and the pain some days, and it can become all-encompassing. I think all the training in the world can’t teach you to switch off 100%. We all identify when we’re training our ‘red flag’ zones- the areas that just hit us too hard. I haven’t found my red flag yet, but I’m sure it’s out there.

My beautiful honours supervisor once talked about having a point that you specify to flick the switch on the ick, and her advice has stuck with me for all these years. She used to tell the story of when she was counselling, and she’d had a particularly heavy day, she gave herself a designated spot where she would have to switch off. For her, it was the big roundabout a few km’s at the end of the main drag to our uni. That was her point. If she had driven to the roundabout and couldn’t flip the switch, she had to go around the roundabout, drive up the road and turn back around to try and hit the roundabout again. There were times she would have to go around that roundabout 10 times, but she left it all there, and drove home to enjoy her evening.

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Tidbit Thursday

OK, so I thought what better day to flag as a bit of an ideas day than a Thursday. Mainly because I am a nerd and love me some alliteration. And I originally thought of ‘Therapy Thursday’ but that’s kinda creepy and makes me feel like we should all be laying on couches talking about our Mothers and Oedipal complexes (sorry Freud, I still love you!). So each Thursday I’ll chat about a topic around wellbeing- from mood and mental health issues, to relationships, to kids, to therapies that could be helpful- the whole shebang. And then the rest of the time I’ll regale you with my tales of dysfunction. Sounds good? Let’s begin!

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