Category: Understanding Pain

How A Counselor Learned To Prioritize Her Health

In my seven years of practicing psychology and counseling, I could no longer count how many times I encouraged my clients to learn how to say no to people.

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For instance, one of my clients sought psychological help because her relatives had been draining her savings and her sanity with their constant demands. Say, her sister would have babies every year and expect her to pay for the bills. Then, her brother would drive under the influence and ask her to pay for any property he’d damage. My client was okay with it initially until she needed help, and no one lent a hand to her. That made her feel miserable and insignificant, considering nobody was willing to offer support when she needed it the most.

In another case, my client had a husband who would not stop having extramarital affairs, and she was livid about it. However, whenever her spouse would reason that he was doing that because my client could not give him offspring, she would feel small and let him walk all over her. Her self-respect went so low that her husband even tried to bring his new girl into their home while she was there.

My clients could have prevented such circumstances if my clients said no initially. “No, I will not give you more money.” “No, I will not take care of your medical bills whenever you drink and drive or have more kids.” “And, no, you cannot hook up with other women and think that I should accept it because I cannot bear a child.”

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While helping my clients was always a fulfilling job, I would be a fool if I would not admit that their issues sometimes got to me. That’s especially true if it was a new client, and the person was drowning in emotional troubles, and they would unload them to me for one or two hours straight. I could not talk to anyone about them every day, so I would be a mess if I did not have time to relax on the weekend.

That One Time I Didn’t Heed My Advice

There was a time when my best friend, a counselor, had to go on maternity leave. She already asked another mental health professional to take over her clients while recuperating and bonding with her newborn, but that person bailed out on her at the last minute. Not knowing what to do, she asked if I could help her.

In reality, I wanted to say no. Heck, I should have said no. My schedule was already full, and I knew that I was close to my limit. But how could I disappoint my best friend? She took over for me when I had an appendectomy a couple of years ago, so it was time to pay her back.

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Although it seemed impossible to work for more than eight hours every day in my profession, I had a game plan. I thought of alternating my clients with hers so that I could make time for both. I also extended my working hours to lessen the number of people I would have to ask to reschedule for another day. My best friend already offered to pay my secretaries for their overtime, so we were all set. “What could go wrong? It’s only two months,” I even said.

For 60 days straight since that moment, I had been working nonstop. Not once did I get to call for a timeout, primarily since the pandemic occurred around the same time, and more people sought mental help. If I was not meeting a client while keeping a physical distance from them, I was on the phone, Skype-ing, or chatting with other clients.

Then, one afternoon, I just stood up to usher my client out of the door when I felt faint and passed out.

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Prioritizing My Health

I woke up to the concerned faces of my secretaries and an older man who was clearly a doctor. I was already on my daybed as well. When I asked what happened, they recounted how they saw me drop on the floor. Luckily, my clinic was already at the hospital, so they got a doctor to attend to me quickly.

Some tests were conducted on me, and I eventually found out that I had anemia. Mixing iron deficiency, stress, and exhaustion, it was more surprising that I didn’t pass out sooner.

Kidding aside, the diagnosis pushed me to reassert my priorities. My best friend was still not back, and I could not wait for her availability, so I got two new counselors to sub for us. Then, I went to my parents’ farm in Omaha and relaxed there for two whole months.

Once I returned to the civilization and got my anemia checked again, all my test results returned normal. I happily resumed my work, but I would never try to take on more than I could handle ever.

A Counselor’s Physical Healing Journey

Like any other profession, it was expensive to get all the requirements to enter a specific career. In my case, since I wanted to be a psychologist and counselor, a four-year bachelor’s degree would not cut it. I had to get master’s and doctoral degrees and all the training that came in between them.

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The thing was, I did not come from money, so I had to get student loans to continue my studies. By the time I finished my doctoral, I was already swimming in at least 100,000-dollar debt. Thus, when I finally got my license to practice psychology and counseling, my primary goal was to establish my clinic to pay off my student loans and provide for my family.

Becoming A Workaholic

In hopes of earning enough money to settle my debt before I even turned 30, I decided to open my clinic seven days a week. Most psychologists and counselors I knew were only available five or six days a week, but I went above and beyond that. While others were happy to stick to an eight-hour schedule, I got licensed to perform online counseling to work still even when I was not in the clinic. This meant that I was on the job for 10 to 14 hours every single day.

I mentioned this work plan to my friends before I even started, and they all laughed, thinking I was trying to be hilarious. They said that no sane person would be able to do that or want to do that. After all, our old professors stressed the importance of REM sleep to increase our effectiveness as psychologists or counselors.

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What my friends forgot to factor into the equation was that I was a woman on a mission. My goal was to make as much money as possible. I would lose a lot of sleep and rest, yes, but it would be worth it in the end when I was already debt-free. Hence, I did my best to stick to my path.

When I Needed A Lifestyle Change

The good news was that I remained effective in my profession despite my lack of good sleep. I got to help many people make sense of their issues; there was never once a person who complained about my skills or knowledge. More importantly, I was earning more money than I ever imagined.

My work plan never failed me, but I had to make a lifestyle change and practically stop working towards my goals at a quick pace because I started feeling like there’s something wrong with my body.

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For one, my menstruation was already three months late. I did not have time for sex and was definitely not pregnant, so that’s bothersome. My feet also started aching even if I wore the same shoes for years. If I stayed in the car for more than 30 minutes, they would swell up immediately. Worse, I could feel my weight increasing because all I could wear were my dresses – none of my pants would fit anymore.

When I consulted a doctor and discussed my symptoms with her, she asked me to do the thyroid tests. The thought of having a thyroid issue never crossed my mind, but then I remembered that my dad’s sister got diagnosed with it two years ago. And before her, my grandmother had it, too. Thus, it might be possible that I had the same condition.

While waiting for the results, I had enough time to accept that I might have a thyroid problem. Because of that, when it was confirmed, I already made peace with the fact that I would have to cut back my work hours and stick to an eight-hour schedule. I also had to take at least a day off, relax, and do nothing so that stress won’t make my health problems worse.

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Was It Easy?

Heck, no. Many people looked forward to a day of relaxation and recreation, but I never felt like I had the luxury to do that. After all, even when I was a student, I would use my free time to do part-time jobs or study for my exams. I did not think that there would be a day when I would have nothing to do since there were so many goals I wanted to achieve. Yet, there I was – forced by a medical condition to stop and rest.

Although I was not used to taking care of myself, my days off helped me realize that there was more to life than working. Ever since my Sundays became free, I got to hang out with friends and family, host BBQ parties, and even go on dates. I continued to do these things even when I got my thyroid issues under control.

It was the first time in a long time that I felt like a real person and not a robot – and it felt incredible.

The Link Between Pain And Depression

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What many do not know is that depression and feeling physical pain has a connection. “About 50 percent of people who have chronic pain also have depression,” according to Robert D. Kerns, Ph.D. The two conditions are closely related to one another since depression can cause pain, and pain can also cause depression. The problem happens when due to depression, the pain a person is feeling worsens. It is also a significant possibility that because of too much pain, a person can get depressed. The cycle is cruel, and many think that there is no relief from it.

 

Unexplainable Physical Pains

Have you ever wondered why you have back pain, your head is hurting, and your body is just not right? It can be more than the physical aspect, as mental health professionals agree, depression can create these discomforts. It’s not just any ordinary body pain. Having these pains are signs and symptoms that a person is suffering from depression. If you don’t believe it, ask some medical experts at BetterHelp.

 

How Depression “Happens”

A person will get stressed out because of his problems. He will then display a lousy mood, probably sleep fewer hours at night or sleep all day long to escape his reality, and will have no interest in activities that he previously loves doing.

 

Aside from that, a depressed person’s self-esteem will dwindle especially if the problem is financial or legal. He will then try to massage his head because it hurts. The person will also experience back pain from the stress.

 

Hurting Body, Depressed, And Physically Sick

 

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People who are sick can also get depressed because of their illness. There is a significant percentage of people with diabetes who are also suffering from depression. One of the effects is body pain.

 

Also, those who have heart disease issues will feel their body hurt starting from the head, to the chest area, and their back. It can also boost their depressed mood.

 

The Complications

When a person is depressed, experiencing body pains, and physically sick, the combination of physical and mental health conditions can be truly overwhelming. It will also be complicated to treat due to the magnitude of ailments. But it can be done, through willpower, determination, and positive thinking. Check out some other helpful tips here in this Instagram.

“Experts used to think that the amount of pain a person felt was equal to the amount of damage in their body. Today, however, we know that our thoughts and emotions can influence the perception of pain, making it much worse or less intense,” according to Beverly Thorn, Ph.D.

Treatment For Depression (With Body Pains)

Anti-depressants – It’s a good thing that some anti-depressants are useful in treating body pains and depression. Ask your doctor as to which brand is best for your conditions to correct the chemical imbalance within your system.

“Some studies suggest that a collaborative and integrative approach is best. This study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a course of antidepressants followed by a pain self-management program improved both depression and pain,” says Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Talk Therapy – Some counselors recommend a Talk Therapy program for people with depression who also happen to feel extreme body pains. It is a type of psychotherapy or psychological counseling which can eliminate body pains caused by the depression. As for the mental health issue, it will also be curbed in time.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT is also a solution for people with depression who also happens to be experiencing body pains. Anxiety and Depression Association of America strongly recommends this therapy program.

 

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Stress-Relieving and Relaxation Techniques – How can one relieve stress and relax when he is depressed and experiencing body aches? Well, one can perform yoga, choose to meditate, do light exercise, try walking, journal writing, and more. All of these are effective strategies that can get rid of stress. However, note that each person has a coping mechanism that promotes relaxation. The suggestions mentioned above are useful and beneficial for most.

 

Alternative Treatment – Others subject to pain management programs to relieve symptoms of depression such as body pains and headaches.

Categories: Understanding Pain

2015 Houston Physical Therapy Convention: How To Avoid Injuries

Staying away from injuries is the primary focus of the 2015 Houston Physical Therapy Convention. There was a study during the same year, after all, wherein the researchers found out that having your problematic body part rehabilitated early could lower your medical costs during the first year by 72 percent. Thus, if you could avoid inflicting pain on yourself physically, there won’t be a necessity for you even to get a consultation.

Here are the tips to prevent needing physical therapy now.

  1. Fix Your Posture

The first thing you can do wherever you are is to sit or stand properly. You cannot slump at any time – that will add unnecessary weight to your spine. It will then cause strain on your back, which may force you later to see a therapist. Moreover, bad posture can give you headaches and balance issues in the future.

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  1. Lift Things With Care

Whether you are picking up a heavy box off the floor or lifting a barbell over your head, you should realize that there are proper ways to do it. Say, for the former, it is better to squat first instead of bending forward. When it comes to the latter, you need to distribute the object’s weight all over the body so that your shoulders, arms, and back won’t hurt.

  1. Strengthen Your Hips

It also matters to take note of the fact that injuries on lower body parts are typically due to weak hips. What it entails is that the muscles in the area cannot handle physical activities such as running or walking. Hence, you need to consider doing exercises that are meant for the hips to avoid requiring rehab later.

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  1. Stretch Daily

Last but not least, you shouldn’t forget to do some stretching, regardless if you have plans on working out or not. When you come from a deep slumber, you see, your muscles and joints stayed idle for hours. You might strain them if you head to work and perform tasks there without conditioning your body first.

Take care of your physical well-being today. Good luck!

 

Categories: Understanding Pain

How Can Your Marriage Stay Intact When Dealing With Lupus?

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The array of worries that a lupus patient thinks of depends on what age you received the diagnosis. If you’re still a teen, you might assume that chronic illness will make it harder for you to go well with your peers. Once you reach young adulthood, your thoughts may transition to whether you’ll be able to find a job or not. And when you hit the marrying age, it’s possible for you to worry about not meeting a man who will stay by your side in sickness and in health. 

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Categories: Understanding Pain

Why A Relationship Ends When One Has A Chronic Illness

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Have you ever heard of endless love? 

We do not mean the song that Lionel Richie and Diana Ross sang together way back in 1981. It’s the never-ending kind of affection that you can give to a person irrespective of their race, gender, or financial status. If you think about it, it’s almost like casting a binding magic spell on the people involved since you can’t seem to let go of each other no matter how many obstacles you come across. 

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Categories: Understanding Pain

When You Are Emotionally In Pain, Can It Become Physical Too?

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The human mind does not only regulate emotions. It also processes pain, whether it’s a pain from a broken arm or gout. Pain and emotion share space in the brain and the appropriate emotions can positively affect physical pain.

Ashley Boynes-Shuck, a blogger and health promoter from Pittsburgh, suffered from idiopathic arthritis and severe constant pain as early as ten years of age. According to her, having a positive, optimistic, and hopeful outlook in life as well as concentrating on helping other people is a marvelous way of coping with the pain.

Pain And Emotion Share The Same Space Inside The Human Mind

Inflammation in certain parts of the body, such as in rheumatoid arthritis can continue to create pain signals in the brain even though there is no physical injury. Pain from getting hurt physically or from a surgical procedure can still be felt even after the recovery of the body. The short-lived aching due to an injury is replaced by continuing, chronic pain that persists freely.

“Brain” published a study done in 2013 on a group of people for more than 12 months whose minor pain elevated to persistent and chronic physical illnesses. Dr. David Hanscom, an orthopedic spine surgeon at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle, said that the pain felt by the patients increased from minor to extreme and the acute pain center was linked with their emotional center.

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Pain Can Be Adversely Affected By Negative Emotions

The emotions you feel can affect you physically because emotions, negative or positive, share the same real estate as the sensory centers of the brain. Boynes-Shuck related that when she was down emotionally about her illnesses, she was not in the mood to socialize. She didn’t even want to go out at all. Exercise and social interaction can alleviate pain, but people with chronic pain usually don’t do it. And according to Darnall, negative emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, or depression can increase the pain being processed by your brain.

The pain felt by those suffering from it can also lead to adverse reactions. Managing pain daily can result in feelings of frustration, disgust, and stress. There are more or less 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, and they tend to develop depression or an anxiety issue. And take note, depressed patients are at three times at risk of suffering from chronic pain.

Lisa Harris, from Waynesville, Ohio, has had psoriatic arthritis since her mid-thirties. She states that she ’doesn’t want to leave her house to socialize with friends or to visit relatives because of the pain she experiences.

Pain Can Be Positively Affected By Positive Emotions

Darnall states that knowing that emotions affect how pain is experienced is helpful, but only if you obtain the appropriate skills to influence your experience.

There are various ways of dealing with chronic pain. You can have yourself assessed by a pain specialist, doctor, or a pain psychologist. Or you could try biofeedback, acupuncture or yoga. And any form of exercise is the right way of alleviating pain. According to Darnall, which method works differs with different individuals depending on the age and their condition. The best strategy is to face the situation in many different angles and to consult medical professionals.

Many medical professionals have themselves experienced chronic pain. Dr. Hanscom suffered from chronic back discomfort for almost 15 years. He decided to look for options other than surgery. In his book, “Back in Control,” his strategy for dealing with chronic pain includes ways on how to sleep soundly, managing his stress and taking medication for the aching, coupled with meditative-type methods to shift his brain from the pain pathways to no-pain conduits. However, Hanscom skirts the issue of emotions and chronic pain, stating feeling is but a very shallow connection to it.

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You Can Be Free From Pain

The close relationship between pain and emotions should not be a source of personal blame for people suffering from chronic pain. Darnall states that explaining the relationship between depression and feelings is about empowering people and not about blaming them. Harris shifted to a new pain management medicine for her psoriatic arthritis, and her symptoms improved, but she reports that having a transformed rapport with her family. She can now enjoy things like playing with her kids and coaching her youngest child in cheerleading, which has helped relieve her aches and pain.

Hanscom has mentioned that his patients were freed from pain using his strategies. However, there are many individuals with chronic pain who will still feel some level of pain. Despite this, their emotional state can even help them deal with their chronic pain. Boynes-Shuck states that some days are terrible for her, but daily, her attitude determines what kind of day ’she’s going to have.

Categories: Understanding Pain