Peace of Mind: Four Ways to Battle Depression

We are pleased to welcome guest poster Jennifer McGregor to the HopeXchange blog! She is a medical student who has seen the impact that mental health has on our overall well-being. She believes we should all embrace our emotional health in the same we do our physical health.

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Peace of Mind: Four Ways to Battle Depression

Counseling is one of the best ways to battle depression and suicidal thoughts. The expertise of a trained psychologist can guide a person from the hopelessness of depression and help them to reclaim their life. Though talk therapy represents the standard concept of therapy, it can be expensive and may not work for some.

Talk therapy is usually a component in many treatments, but using a different format as the main focus can be very beneficial for some people. Keep in mind that “therapy” may sound intimidating, but in reality it is simply the word used to describe any process that can provide insight and promote healing. The following routes do not necessarily require the guidance of a mental health professional (though it may be helpful), and anyone struggling with anxiety or depression may find these methods to be beneficial:

Exercise Therapy

Exercise is a critical component to recovering from many mental illnesses. Physical activity keeps our bodies healthy while providing mood-boosting endorphins to our brains. Exercise therapy is a treatment method that prescribes different forms of exercise to keep mood elevated and battle depression. The self-esteem boost that comes with regular exercise can also be hugely beneficial in combating suicidal thoughts.

Dog Therapy

Dogs have been shown to be excellent mental and physical health caretakers. Their need for food, water, exercise, and love ensure that their owners have a reason to get up every morning, a reason to get out of the house, and someone to offer unconditional love and comfort for when they are feeling down. Dogs are also highly attuned to their owners’ emotions and will usually be the first to provide comfort on a bad day.

Some therapy groups will bring in dogs to comfort the patients while simultaneously making it easier to reveal personal information.

Phone Therapy

Many people lead lives far too busy to attend therapy sessions, or they may even be embarrassed to tell loved ones where they are going each week. A good alternative might be phone therapy. These sessions are conducted over the phone with a trained counselor, providing essentially the same service as if you were to attend a physical session. Using phone therapy is a good option for people who may have difficulty getting to an office for treatment.

There are also options such as video chat sessions and text chat sessions. Text chat can be great for those who struggle with verbal communication while video chat is ideal for someone who wants a face- to-face experience but is unable to make the trip.

Meditation as a Therapy Supplement

Meditation alone cannot be used as a complete treatment plan, but numerous studies have shown that meditation is a very effective supplement. Its effects may even match medication therapy. The act of meditating works to silence the mind and embrace feelings of peace. It only makes sense that this would be very effective against something like depression or addiction. It is best to utilize this technique alongside talk or group therapy.

Finding therapy for your depression and suicidal thoughts is the first step to recovery. When people suffering from depression do not receive treatment, things can only get worse. Whether you decide to stick with traditional talk therapy or test an alternative route such as meditation or phone therapy, what’s important is the fact that you are seeking help. Once you have taken that first leap, it will only be a matter of time before you start feeling good again.

Jennifer is passionate about expanding access to trustworthy health and medical resources and helping others stay up-to-date on the latest developments in general wellness.

Image via Pixabay by 947051

Technical Difficulties: Our Recent Challenge

technicalWe’d like to apologize for the recent gap in our posts! We have been dealing with some nagging technical difficulties within our blog. Please note that there are still links on the homepage and menu buttons that will only open if you right-click and choose to open in a new tab. We are working to restore the left-click functionality.

Thank you for your patience as we get back to 100%!

The Real Boogey Man: Hiding Your Grief and Pain

The past few months have been trying ones for me. On top of the “normal” stresses of life with a family and career came devastating news at home and at work. Three of my co-workers’ wives were struck were serious illnesses within weeks of one another. At the same time, my beloved Mom was diagnosed with a traumatic illness of her own. But it didn’t stop there, my dear friend and neighbor was then taken to the hospital by the rescue squad, finding out that she needed major surgery.

The weight of all of these tragic events has been pressing on me. A few times I found myself sneaking to the ladies room at work, afraid I may cry some very public tears. While I found the distraction of work to be a blessing, it sometimes wasn’t enough to keep the worry and pain from creeping in. I realized I was going to have to deal with everything that was happening, because trying to hold it all in definitely wasn’t working.

The grief of loss is exactly the same. Sometimes we try to fool ourselves into thinking that we are okay and we quickly move on so we won’t have to feel the pain. Only to find that it is simply hiding, ready to attack later on. Like the “boogey man” who haunts our dreams, grief patiently waits for the right time to strike, and then takes us by surprise.

The more I realized that I wasn’t dealing with my feelings, the more I started to feel them. As difficult as this was, it actually made me feel a little better. At least I wasn’t looking for ways to stuff down my feelings, leaving me in a better place to deal with my swirling emotions. When I started feeling vulnerable, I reached out for help. For me, my help comes from my faith. The more I started to rely on my faith, the better I began to feel.

I still have a lot of difficult times ahead. While some of my friends and family are getting better, others have life-changing decisions to make. I don’t know what the future will hold, but at least I’ve stopped the boogey man from chasing me. I’ve realized that I cannot make it through this on my own and I’ve asked for help. Don’t be scared by your grief and pain any longer- reach out for the help you need.

 

A Time to Remember: Honoring Your Baby

 

yellow_tulipsPregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is a great time to remember and memorialize your baby. Here are some tips we share each year at this time, adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.

There are countless ways to remember and honor your baby. No matter how much time has passed since your miscarriage, it is never too late to memorialize your child.

You can find comfort and healing by incorporating your baby’s memory into your life. Here are some suggestions:

Create a memory box. Include any mementos you may have from your baby. A positive pregnancy test, a toy, stuffed animal or outfit you bought for the baby (if you do not have one, then buy one). Anything you may have that reminds you of your pregnancy or your baby can be included, even if you just have a few things.

Make a donation in your baby’s name. Publicly acknowledge your child by making a charitable donation, or give something to a needy child that is the same age your child would have been now. Also consider submitting an article or poem about your baby to a newspaper or magazine.

Make something for the baby such as a quilt, a painting, a cross stitch, an outfit, a piece of pottery or furniture.

Buy a piece of jewelry that symbolizes your baby. Your baby’s birthstone, or an engraved necklace with your baby’s name can be good choices.

Plant a tree or garden in memory of your baby. You may even choose a houseplant or indoor tree. Decorate the tree at special times of the year to remember your baby.

Add your baby to the family tree. If you named your baby, add him or her permanently to the family by including the baby in your family tree.

Donate baby items that you may have bought or received to a worthy charity. You may also do this in your baby’s name.

Have a celebration each year on your baby’s birthday or due date.

Include your baby in the hospital’s Remembrance Book. Most hospitals have a remembrance book, and even if your baby did not die in a hospital, you can contact the Chaplin at your local hospital.

Add your baby to the HOPE Canvas. Create a “virtual” square in honor of your baby and add it to the HOPE Canvas. Share it with your friends and family to remember your baby. Find out more information on The HOPE Canvas page.

Light a candle for the baby every evening until you feel you do not need to anymore. After that, burn it once a month, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, or on special anniversaries.

Remembering your baby is a very personal thing. There is no right or wrong way to honor your child. Taking the time to memorialize your baby will bring you closure and comfort as your move through your grief, and work toward recovery.

Did You Know? October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

October is Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month

October is Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month

In 1988 President Ronald Reagan declared October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Unfortunately, the President had a very personal experience with infant loss during his first marriage, when his newborn baby died just 7 hours after birth.

Many states have declared October 15th as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, but remembrance and events are seen throughout this important month.

What do this mean to you? Awareness Month is a simple way to open the door to conversations about your feelings and your baby. You may want to talk to your family, friends, your community or maybe your spouse or significant other about your child who died.

Wearing a pink and blue Pregnancy Loss Awareness Ribbon during October, or anytime, is a great way to increase awareness and honor your baby. You can buy a Pregnancy Loss Awareness Pin by visiting StockPins.com. The pins are well-made, inexpensive and arrive in a few business days.

Pregnancy Loss Awareness Ribbons can be handmade with pink and blue ribbon or purchased. The pins should be worn on the left-hand side just above your heart- where your baby already lives.

We post this information each year to share this very important event.

When You are Surrounded by Clouds: Look Up

We recently had more than 3 weeks of constant rain in my area. Every day was a dreary repeat of the day before- gray, rainy and cloudy. The dull and heavy weather that surrounded me on the outside was starting to make me feel gray on the inside. We recently had more than 3 weeks of constant rain in my area. Every day was a dreary repeat of the day before- gray, rainy and cloudy. The dull and heavy weather that surrounded me on the outside was starting to make me feel gray on the inside.

I was excited for a break from the rain- a business trip to Florida, the “Sunshine State.” Only to find that the forecast there was…3 full days of rain.

As we sat on the tarmac, waiting for take off, drizzle pelted the airplane dropping down from the perpetually gray skies. I half-heartedly watched the water slide across my window as the plane accelerated and lifted off the runway. Until we broke above the rain clouds and something wonderful happened – the sun appeared. Bright, bold, gleaming in every direction across billowing white clouds. We were suddenly surrounded by the clear blue skies and brilliant light of the heavens.

Just moments before we had been wrapped in gloom and now we were smiling at the warm glow of the distant skies. I instantly felt more optimistic and peaceful as I took in the light I had so been missing. It was sad when we reached our destination and began to descend- back into the rainy gray. It was pouring down as we taxied to the gate.

But now I knew that above all of the gloom and doom was infinite beauty. Just beyond what I could see, was the exactly what I had been waiting and hoping for. It was a great reminder for life. When you are surrounded by the clouds, look up to the heavens and know that just beyond us, the sun always shines.

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Trial by Fire: 9 Tips for Grieving Couples

coupleFather’s Day can stir a mix of emotions after a miscarriage. Fathers and Mothers can be affected by the event – which can be a painful reminder of loss.

You will often hear that grief and loss bring couples together, but it can actually do just the opposite. It is possible to emerge on the other side of grief with a closer marriage, but it does take work.

 

Here are some tips adapted from the book “Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Infant Death” that can help your marriage survive the stress of loss:

 

1. Give each other the freedom to grieve in an individual way. Resist the temptation to feel that your way is the only way to handle loss. Do not be fooled if it seems that your spouse has not been affected by the loss.
2. Remember the good times. Think about activities you enjoy as a couple and make time to do them- even if you do not feel up to it yet.
3. Expect tough times. Be tolerant with your mate and understand that you are both going to fail each other during this turbulent time.
4. Do not lash out at one another. In a weakened state of grief, this will only push you apart. Find constructive ways to release the stress and anger of grief.
5. Prepare for change. Loss and grief change people and it will change the face of your marriage. Decide together that this trial will bring you closer and commit to your relationship.
6. Reach out. Resist the urge to spend time away from your mate or reach out to others who better understand your grief.
7. Avoid placing blame. Tossing accusations at your spouse will only place a wedge in your relationship. Understand that feelings of guilt, anger, and confusion are normal during this time.
8. Love each other. Be sure to offer the hugs, cuddling, and love that each partner needs to feel secure and supported. Be sure to resume your physical relationship as soon as possible.
9. Seek information and support.
Educate yourselves on grief and try to understand one another. If you are having difficulties resolving your grief as a couple and you feel your marriage is in trouble, get help immediately! Do not wait until it is too late to seek help.

 

There are no easy answers for couples dealing with pregnancy loss. It is crucial that you make the decision to put your marriage first and then do it!

 

Lisa Church is author of “Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Infant Death” and founder of HopeXchange, a company dedicated to helping women and their families facing miscarriage.

It’s a MAD World: Simple Steps for Handling Anger

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With the recent passing of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, parents who have suffered the loss of a child can find themselves feeling very angry. Grief can often cause intense feelings of anger, which can be a very difficult emotion to handle. Here are some steps you can take if you are feeling angry:

  • Write a letter to the person you feel angry with: yourself, your baby, your spouse, a family member, or even God .
  • Talk to a close friend or professional about the anger you are feeling.
  • Find a healthy outlet for your anger such as punching a pillow, intense exercise, yelling or screaming aloud (not at another person) or even running around the block as fast as you can.
  • Help another person. Use your restless energy to clean someone’s house, mow a lawn or fix a meal for someone in need. Focusing on others is a great way to take your mind off your pain.
  • Cry. Many women (and even men) release their anger  through tears.
  • Confront the source of your anger. If you are angry with a spouse or family member have an honest discussion during a time when you are NOT feeling angry. If needed, ask a close friend or professional to help.
  • If you are angry with God or your baby, face an empty chair and have a ‘confrontation,’ expressing your anger.
Adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun ©

Unlock the Silence: Tips for Helping Men with Grief

man_sunYou may not see outward signs that a man is grieving, but don’t be fooled. Remember that men normally grieve in private- not in public. A man who is grieving will often find himself in a tough spot- he will be shamed if he expresses deep emotions in public and he will be shamed if he does not.

 

  • Be aware that men often experience anger differently then women during grief. While women may tend to point anger inward, men often direct their anger outward. This can manifest as anger toward you or even God. Remember that expressed anger is a normal and healthy response, however hostile behavior is not.
  • Listen. Remember that some men want to talk, but they feel there is no one to listen. A man may also be uncomfortable putting his feelings into words. Encourage him by listening during those times when he does talk about it.
  • Ask what you can do. It is very important to ask what you can do to be of service to a man during his grief, and then do your best to meet his needs.
  • Keep an open mind. Remember that grief is an individual experience. Assuming that a man is not feeling pain if he grieves differently than you will only cause strife and misunderstanding.
Dealing with pregnancy loss is difficult for anyone. Understanding a man and him giving the space and support he needs will be critical.

 

The above information was adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death. We share this article each year near Father’s Day.

 

Join Us at the March of Dimes Walk & See the HOPE Canvas!

Williamsburg, VA March for Babies is Coming on March 14!

Williamsburg, VA March for Babies is Coming on Saturday, March 14, 2016!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join us at the upcoming March of Dimes March for Babies and be a part of the HOPE Canvas! The March of Dimes works tirelessly to improve the health of babies and fund research to prevent the premature birth of babies. They also provide support to families who are grieving the loss of their premature babies.

We are partnering with the March of Dimes Williamsburg event to display the HOPE Canvas and give you the opportunity to honor your baby by adding a square of your own. We will also have copies of the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Infant Death available for purchase and the author will be personally signing them.

Want to know more about the HOPE Canvas?

The HOPE Canvas

The HOPE Canvas

 

The HOPE Canvas is a way to remember and honor a baby who has died from miscarriage or stillbirth. The original canvas includes 9 squares made by families in memory of their babies.

The HOPE Canvas is now virtual, to make room for the thousands of babies that die each year before their time.

 

Want to Add a Square?

Make your baby a part of the canvas!

  • Meet us at March of Dimes March for Babies at the Bereavement Tent between 9:00am-12:00pm.
  • Create a square (the original squares are 12 inches by 12 inches) and decorate any way you wish. Supplies will be provided.
  • We will take a photo of your square and post it on instagram so you can add your “virtual” square to the Canvas in honor of your baby!
  • Be sure to follow #Hope_Canvas on instagram so you can share your square with friends and family.

Can’t make the event on March 14th? Create your own square to add to the canvas! Find the instructions here.

Hope to see you at the event!