By: Tamara Ince
We all know that Valentine’s Day is a great day for people who feel celebrated by their loved ones through acts of kindness. There are many people in love who are sharing their quality time together, celebrating their love and surprising each other.
However, let’s not forget that Valentine’s Day is not the same for everyone. There are also quite a few partners who will suffer in silence on this day. This is why today- we are highlighting the painful side of Valentine’s Day.
Recognizing The Signs Of Abuse (Physically, Financially And/or Psychologically)
Abuse can happen in many ways when it comes to toxic relationships. However, the problems are often overlooked, excused or denied by people in relationship - especially when the abuse is psychological, or financial rather than physical.
In most of the cases, abuse escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. And while physical injury may be the most obvious sign that you can get, the emotional and psychological abuse is even deeper and can destroy your self-worth or lead to anxiety and depression. This can make you feel helpless, alone and without a plan to move on.
Basically, there are many signs of an abusive relationship. However, the most telling one is fear of your partner. So, if you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around him (or her), your relationship is probably unhealthy and abusive.
Other signs may include avoiding certain topics with the fear of angering your partner, feeling that you cannot do anything right for him/her, wondering if you are crazy as he/she may have claimed, or feeling emotionally numb and helpless.
Moreover, if your partner humiliates you, yells at you, criticizes you and puts you down, treats you badly that you are embarrassed of anyone to see, withholds financial support with unreasonable conditions, or even blames you his/her behaviors, it’s time to ask yourself some questions….
A Few Important Questions To Ask Yourself
The first steps towards distancing yourself can be less abrasive and very minute. It is about your readiness with your- safety in mind. You can simply take the time to reflect on how you landed in the situation in the first place. In order to move forward, you have to peel the layers back and discover what is the core of why you stay - beyond your fear.
Some of the questions you may want to ask yourself include:
●Is there a shared benefit to the relationship (financial or companionship)?
●Am I willing to take a step back in life and secure a safer outcome for myself and my future?
●Am I financially, emotionally or socially dependent?
●Have I processed my own childhood as a barrier to my self-esteem?
●Have I established a safe and support network of people to cope with the changes in the future?
●What would it cost me to stay (in the relationship) - and what it would cost to exit?
A Final Word
If you are in an abusive relationship, you should do your best to exit the negative energy, contempt and criticism. However, knowing that exiting can be a risk to your safety and take time, start with building out your safety network- whether its joining a support group, creating a financial fund, taking on new skill sets, or identifying where and how you can better thrive.
At Ince Counseling, we have had the privilege of partnering with many like you (pre and post their exit). Time after time, we have realized that it is necessary to exit when YOU are ready. Exiting my not occur this year - but whenever you are ready to make huge changes to your life, financial circumstances and external environment – team up with therapist who can assit you with debriefing the traumatic experience.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, remember that there are many resources available to help:
By: Tamara Ince
A baseball player gets a walk once, then twice, and then a third time. He sits on the bench and gives up. He thinks that there is no way that he will ever be able to hit a home run. The young player doesn’t realize that the pitcher respected him and was intentionally giving him walks. Instead, this player feels he no longer has any control over his situation. A few blocks away, a young girl fails her third math test. She gives up and begins to think, “I’ll always get a bad grade no matter what I do.” Due to repeated failures, these people doubt their own abilities and doubt that they can do anything to overcome their challenges. Consequently, they decrease their efforts, which leads to more failures. This vicious cycle can occur anytime someone’s life is filled with repeated failures and disappointments.
Psychologists call this state of mind “learned helplessness”. It can occur when you repeatedly try to accomplish something in an uncontrollable situation and fail. After these failures, your brain may “learn” that success is beyond your control and all your efforts are futile. Thus you “learn helplessness”. Once conditioned to be helpless, a person gives up and, when exposed to events in the future that he or she can control, he or she still feels helpless.
This is one of the reasons why the poor get poorer. As shown in research, many times the poor develop beliefs that, regardless of how hard they work or how much they earn, they will never escape their financial straitjacket. By believing that, regardless of what they do today, they can never positively impact their future, they are destined to fall short of their potential. Those who struggle with learned helplessness blame themselves for everything, face low self esteem, and fight depression.
Fortunately, research has identified methods for overcoming this state of mind. First, one must focus on the possibility of change. Integrative therapy or counseling can help people open their minds to the possibility that their current situation can improve. In therapy one can identify the attributions that cause their learned helplessness. The three main attributions are:
Next, one must expand his or her horizons and think beyond all self-imposed restraints. Recent studies have shown that by thinking big, people can increase their motivation to take initial steps and progress towards goals, even in the face of challenges and disappointments. Lastly, one can set small, easily achievable goals where success is certain. One of the best ways to overcome the feeling that you cannot affect your future is to experience successes.
When you are ready to throw in the towel, realize that this feeling might be due to learned helplessness. Perhaps, it is time to take steps to overcome this vicious condition.
By: Tamara Ince
Seasons Greetings! Its that time of year when we reflect on all that we have accomplished and/or what must be tweaked to move closer to our desired goals. Its' a time of fellowship with old friends and grand celebrations with family. But for some, it also means returning to our home and revisiting a past that we wish to be forgotten. Whether it was past abuse, an earlier life inflicted with poverty, sibling rivalry, the scene of a traumatic event, or criticism from family- its trauma revisited. Here are a few tips on how to move though the season while maintaining your sanity.
What should you contemplate:
Consider and reconcider the duration of time you plan to engage others. Consider how long you believe you can maintain your capacity to deal with the associated stress related to hosting those who have caused you harm in the past. Ask- Is the connection worth your discomfort? Have you forgiven the individual(s) in question. If yes, then you can better embrace the situation with knowledge that it is your choice to endure, and maintain the relationship.
Consider whether there are paths to mitigate the impact of the stress, or stressors? If it is your relatives who are the perpetrators of the discomfort, ask whether it is possible to make other arrangements- such as a shorter stay, breaking up your stay by engaging other activities while on holiday, or simply reserving a hotel which would provide you the ability to control how much time others have access to your person.
By: Tamara Ince
John had no experience with mental health illnesses when he sent his daughter Kara to college. Yet, despite having no family history of mental illnesses, just three weeks later his daughter had a mental breakdown. Every classic sign of a mental health condition was present. Kara was a star athlete and a naturally social person, but in the last three weeks had holed up in her room, ditched class and practices, stopped hanging out with friends, and no longer answered phone calls from her dad. Soon, Kara began hearing voices and thinking someone was trying to kill her. What happened to Kara was not uncommon. Twenty-five percent of students have a diagnosable illness. Approximately 50% of students become so anxious that their school work suffers. Furthermore, approximately 80% of students are overwhelmed by responsibilities. Yet, about 40% never seek help, even though mental health issues can be life threatening.
While we do not think of college as a catalyst for mental illnesses, it can be. In college, students experience new academic competition, changing peer support groups, less parental guidance, less support, diminishing connections to life back home, inability to be present for family illnesses and events, increased autonomy, and other external pressures. This can exacerbate existing known and unknown mental and trauma based conditions. It can also cause new mental health conditions. In America, approximately 75% of mental illnesses are first diagnosed in students during their college years. Unfortunately, colleges lack the resources to provide all the services students need. They try to help, but may only have funding for limited support, short therapy sessions, and minimal to no psychiatrist consultation. Additionally, the support may cease during school breaks. Furthermore, when students go abroad for studies, they may have less support and find that their therapeutic and pharmaceutical treatments are not available or legal overseas.
According to a survey by the American College Health Association only 15% of college student who commit suicide received counseling. That is why it is important for you to stay involved in your child’s life as they transition to college. Ensure that you know what is going on in their lives and mind, provide non-judgmental support, and continue to ask questions. This will help your college student better handle stress. Additionally, make sure that, if they have been diagnosed with a condition, they are encouraged to seek out accommodations for tests, extensions for time-based activities, and other accommodations or resources available to minimize stress and impact due to cognitive ailments. Furthermore, encourage your student to join groups on campus. Studies have shown that joining groups in college minimizes the impact of stress and provides positive support to members. Moreover, help your child plan to ensure they continue to have the support and help they need when traveling and during school holidays.
There are many amazing resources for college students and their parents, that they may not realize are available at low or no cost. Together we can make school easier and safer for our students by providing them with the mental health support they need.
Barrera, Manuel, Irwin N. Sandler, and Thomas B. Ramsay. "Preliminary development of a scale of social support: Studies on college students." American Journal of Community Psychology 9.4 (1981): 435-447.
Hefner, Jennifer, and Daniel Eisenberg. "Social support and mental health among college students." American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 79.4 (2009): 491.
Hunt, Justin, and Daniel Eisenberg. "Mental health problems and help-seeking behavior among college students." Journal of Adolescent Health 46.1 (2010): 3-10.
By: Tamara Ince
According to Psychology Today, approximately one billion people around the world do not consume enough vitamin D. Since every single tissue in our body has vitamin D receptors, the impacts of vitamin D deficiencies are profound. Vitamin D from any source activates genes that regulate our immune system, release chemicals that improve our brain function, aid in the release of neurotransmitters that empower us to better handle daily anxieties, help us reduce or prevent the effect of depression of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and more. Over a hundred separate research journals have found that vitamin D can help improve mental function and either treat or prevent mental health issues. It doesn’t matter if the vitamin D comes from food, is made by the body through exposure to the sun, or comes from supplements, the beneficial effects are the same.
The multitude of research studies from around the world hailing the benefits of vitamin D have inspired many to take vitamin D supplements or increase their sun exposure. However, for some, their normal daily diet and sun exposure provides all the vitamin D that they need. If you aren’t low in vitamin D, supplements may be a waste of your valuable income. That is why seeking medical advice from your medical team prior to starting a supplement can save time and money. Furthermore, it is vital to consult with a medical professional prior to taking vitamin D supplements or increasing exposure to the sun because these actions can pose significant risks to many. For example, there are many medical diagnoses, such as celiac disease, where increasing the vitamin D in your body can cause worsening of symptoms. In addition, many medications may be rendered less effective when a person has a high level of vitamin D in their body. Other medications, such as anticonvulsants and glucocorticoids, can make one more susceptible to UV radiation. Thus, people taking these medications should limit their sun exposure, in order to minimize risk of cancer and other sun related ailments. How much sun a person can safely tolerates depends on their medical diagnoses, current medications, current treatment plans, their skin tone, and even whether or not they live north of the 37th parallel. It is extremely complex to fully understand your maximum tolerable sun exposure levels. However, by consulting with your medical professional, you can develop a plan to ensure that you are getting enough vitamin D, without negatively impacting your health.
When it comes to vitamin D and the sun, more is not necessarily better. Before modifying your current treatment plan, increasing sun exposure, or even considering taking vitamin D supplements, it is important that you consult with a medical professional. Otherwise, you may be doing more harm to yourself than good.
"Cerebrum." Vitamin D and the Brain: More Good News. Dana, 07 Apr. 2009. Web. 24 May 2017.
"Supplement for myelin regeneration." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 07 Dec. 2015. Web. 24 May 2017.
Greenblatt, James M. "Psychological Consequences of Vitamin D Deficiency." Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 14 Nov. 2011. Web. 24 May 2017.
Mann, Denise. "Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Depression." WebMD. WebMD, 27 June 2012. Web. 24 May 2017.
Penckofer, Sue, Joanne Kouba, Mary Byrn, and Carol Estwing Ferrans. "Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine?" Issues in mental health nursing. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 June 2010. Web. 24 May 2017.
By: Tamara Ince
You spend a bit of your hard earned money for a once in a lifetime experience and the joy you feel is indescribable. Money can buy security, experiences, and freedom, which can lead to increased happiness. Yet, there is the dark side of money. Some compulsively overspend and spend money they don’t have. Some who do this wear their ability to shop as a badge of honor. However, it can actually be a destructive habit and perhaps even a psychological disease or symptom of a disease. Research has found that over-spending in general or to cope with stress can be a symptom of psychological disorders, such as anxiety, addictive disorder, bi-polar disorder, depression, and others.
Money is one of the top ten reasons for divorce, according to experts. It is rarely lack of money that causes issues. Instead, it is a lack of agreement on how to handle money. Studies have shown that overspending is more likely to sink a relationship than sexual infidelity. This is why we need to explore our relationship with money. When we find ourselves overspending, we need to think about:
Therefore, if a friend, a spouse, or you tend to use credit cards frivolously, spend money you can’t afford to, or spend money unnecessarily consider talk therapy. Behavior science suggests that money-related issues are hardwired in our brains and negative experiences associated with money can have major impacts on our lives. This is why talk therapy can be a necessity. It can help address core issues, teach concrete and practical strategies for handling money, train people in boundary setting, and address underlying psychological concerns.
Changing your life can be challenging. This is why it is vital that you consider a 12 step program, such as Debtors Anonymous. These programs will provide you with support to achieve your goals and hold you accountable for your actions through sponsorship and meetings. They can help you make permanent changes to improve your life and break the cycle of spending and hurting those you love. Let’s work together and stop overspending from creating havoc in our lives.