yoga

The Quest: How to find the right therapist for you

quest to find right therapist

The Quest: How to Find the Right Therapist For You

The quest to find the right therapist is a lot like dating. You have every right to weed out who’s not right for you so that you can be open to the possibility of finding the right person for the job. And just like dating, it can be equally as exhausting. I mean, there are apps for both – designed to make the process for each easier. But like anything worth doing, it takes time.

As I sit down to write this, I know fully well that not only do I want to find someone new to work with, but I need to:  1) if at the very least (one end of the therapeutic spectrum), to have an unbiased party to listen without judgment and 2) at the most (the other end of the spectrum), to grow and let go of traumas and issues holding me back from complete personal expression.

I wouldn’t be an active and engaged participant in my mental health and wellbeing had I not gotten sober on July 14, 2007. Not knowing it at the time, that day I entered the world of recovery and personal growth. Over a decade later I’m still actively invested in my mental wellness. As you probably know, recovery is anything but linear; like life, there are peaks (celebrations, love, friendships, etc.) and valleys (deaths, debt, depression).  Close to a year ago, I experienced a gut-wrenching trauma that I’ve been working through with the support of close friends, family, and my online community – but I’m still on the quest to find the right holistic mental health professional with whom I can unpack it all. So please believe me when I tell you that therapy can always help, no matter where you are in life.

Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength.

To demonstrate what I’ve learned, here's a quick Q&A between me on day 1 (Q) and me today (A).

Q: I’m scared. I don’t even know where to start. I mean, I don’t plan on getting sober forever. I just need to get my sh*t together and figure out why I have so many panic attacks.

A: I hear you. Just be gentle with yourself. This won’t get “fixed” overnight. It’s going to be a process. If you have health insurance, start there – see what’s covered within network. You can find a therapist, a licensed counselor, or a psychologist – those can be the folks you’d talk to about what’s going on with you. I’d look into finding a psychiatrist too, in case you need medication (although try not to be so dependent on the meds that you can’t consider living your life without them). Not sure where to start? Mental Health America’s screening tools can point you in the right direction.

Q: But I have panic attacks all the time. If I’m given something to help with my underlying anxiety, shouldn’t I take that?

A: Definitely consider it, and also consider holistic methods like amino acid therapy (www.vryeveryday.com is a great start) to help change your brain chemistry. Neutraceutical companies (e.g. Amare Global) have tapped into the power of the gut-brain-axis. Taking prebiotics, probiotics, and overhauling your nutrition are holistic ways to target mental health concerns. If you need a medication, then take that medication. Remember, your brain is just as much a part of you as your liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, etc. Just think creatively about your treatment.

Q: What about all my internal scars from years of bullying? That’s why I started drinking, so I could feel cool, less anxious, and forget about my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). God, I feel like such a cliché.

A: Stop beating yourself up. Seriously. I promise you that the right therapist will show you different ways to recover through that pain – he or she may use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Exposure Response Therapy (ERT). And I highly suggest starting yoga, getting outside, meeting other like-minded folks, and writing.

Q: But what if I’d rather use an app or website first before going to sit in someone’s office? Is that OK?

A: Yep, as long as you still consider meeting one on one with someone at some point. Start with Talkspace, Workit Health, Good Therapy, Psychology Today, Better Help, etc. If you want to try meditating, try Insight Timer and Headspace apps. Do you laugh at the thought of a guided meditation? Then laugh along with H*nest Meditation. There are loads of blogs and podcasts out there too. Just take it one day at a time.

Q: Will I ever not have anxiety?

A: I can’t answer that definitively. I can tell you, though, that you WILL absolutely know how to manage and deal with life. Always reconnect with yourself, your breath, and your community.

Q: Will awful things happen in recovery?

A: Yes. And you will get through them. I promise you. You’ll have your family, your friends, your online recovery tribe (in about 8 years, you’ll be the founder of The Sobriety Collective). You’ll get your heart broken, experience a heavy trauma, be in a crazy amount of debt. You’ll also mend your heart through time, personal work, therapy, and loving again. You’ll rise above the trauma and write about it one day. You’ll work on a debt management/settlement plan and prove to yourself that you can live debt-free. You will do all these things because you’ve made a commitment to yourself and your recovery.

Q: Will I be able to help someone some day?

A: Oh honey, you already have.

Guest Blogger: Jen Yockey of SOULFUeL

Ladies and gents, I think I've found my Sober Sister Soul Mate.  Seriously, reading Jen's piece was like standing in front of a mirror, a gentle and kind and beautiful mirror.  She has such a beautiful outlook on life and I got so much from her story.  Watch out for this one!  She's going places--who are we kidding?  She's already THERE.  If you can't get enough of her, don't you worry--she'll be featured as a RePro in the near future.

xoxo,
Laura


The Audacity of Recovery

au·dac·i·ty
ôˈdasədē/
noun
1.  the willingness to take bold risks.

Addiction. Recovery. Sobriety. Drugs. Alcohol. Shopping. Sex. Technology. Gambling.  A lot of buzz words these days and like some of our favorite quotes and sayings, I think they have been used so much that we have become de-sensitized to them.  We have stopped listening, hearing and feeling what these words truly mean.

Getting sober doesn’t mean quitting things.  It doesn’t mean the fun in your life ends and that you need to move to a monastery in Israel in order to find peace and enlightenment and recovery.  It also doesn’t mean that you *wanting* to get sober means that you are currently sleeping under a bridge, haven’t had a shower in weeks and everything you own resides in a shopping cart. 

Life is not black and white.  There is a lot of grey.  Labeling people and afflictions is our need to make things black and white.  Labeling people and afflictions can make it really difficult for people to truly recover or to get help in the first place.  Who wants to be labeled an alcoholic?  An addict? A gambler? A cheater?  Not me.  We are not a behavior, *I* am not a behavior.

What would it look like if recovering from an overuse of a substance was like recovering from strep throat?  You go to the doctor, you let them know your symptoms, they prescribe a treatment and you are on the mend.  No one says that you can *only* have medicine for 7 days or 28 days.  No one says you have to label yourself as a “strepthroater”.  No one says that you have to hide out at home and not tell anyone about your strep throat. No one says that you will never recover and that you should be afraid.  People aren’t ashamed to walk in to the doctor with strep throat.  *I* am not strep throat, I *have* strep throat.  I can recover from strep throat.  This is how sobriety and recovery is for me.  It is my story.  I abused a substance.  I don’t do that anymore.  I don’t want to do that anymore.  I have found the root cause of my wanting to do that.  I have recovered.  I have and continue to heal.

I have nothing against 12 step programs.   In fact, I credit those programs for my recovery foundation and I participated in these programs for the first 5 years of my sobriety. I got to a point, however, that I was able to start thinking for myself again.  I was able to trust my decisions.  I listened to that little voice inside of me instead of drowning it out with booze, drugs, men, over training, shopping, etcetera.  Little by little, I stopped being afraid; afraid that my “disease” was doing pushups in the backyard *waiting* for me, afraid of my past, afraid of relapse. 

I started loving my life.  I started investigating my core values.  I investigated my opinions on things; opinions and thoughts and “truths” that I had held on to for years that were no longer serving me.  I investigated words like co-dependency, boundaries and trauma.  I found ways to connect to myself rather than finding ways to distract myself.  I investigated and found peace with emotions and feelings.  I investigated Anger, Joy, Happiness, Sadness, Grief, Guilt, Shame, Apathy, Boredom, Confusion, Panic, Terror.  I investigated my past.  I investigated my “triggers”.  I investigated people.  I found some that I really connected with and I found some that I really needed to stay away from.

I found my inner athlete, again.  I found peace in yoga, meditation, and running.  I found that paying attention to my breath brought calm and less stress.  I found music and laughter and food and philosophy and hope.  I found others that were doing similar investigations; finding their way and sharing their knowledge.

There is hope and inspiration.  There is recovering and recovered.  There is sobriety born out of a love for life rather than a fear of what was.  There is an acceptance and a love and a knowledge of who each of us are.  There is self-awareness rather than denial.  There is a realization of truth rather than fantasy.  There is ownership of mis-steps and honoring *that* truth.  There are emotions.  There is joy.  There is sadness and grief.  There are tears. There is laughter.  There is the ability and willingness to be teachable and live with our eyes and hearts wide open.

I write all of this knowing that it may not be popular.  It may not “fit” with your recovery or sobriety narrative. However, it is my story.  My truth.  And when I first got sober, I needed to hear a lot of stories and truths.  Stories of experience, strength and hope. I needed to hear it from CEO’s and actors, teachers and lawyers, and construction workers.  I needed to hear it from those who lived high on the hill and at the homeless shelter.  One of the many nuggets that I took away from my 12 step meetings was to “take what I needed and leave the rest”.  My wish is that one person is able to see that there are many paths to recovery, that you can recover on your own terms.  This, however, does not mean that you do it by yourself. I know, for sure, that is not possible.   You will need help.  You will need guidance.  You will need people and connection in order to get your feet underneath you.  But you will learn to walk again.  You will learn to run again.  You will be able to trust yourself and others again.  You are not broken.  You have been on a path that may not be serving you anymore.  There are other paths.  Look around.  You have a choice to change the path you are on.  There are others waiting there for you.

The Audacity of Recovery.  The moxie to even *think* that you can recover.  The boldness for you to be you and find your own path & for me to be me and find mine; for all of us to find peace and hope and joy and to bear witness.  I can’t wait to hear *your* story of boldness and audaciousness and moxie.  Tell it, write it, speak it.  We all need to hear it.

 
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JEN YOCKEY is the founder of SOULFUeL Sundays and a graduate of Meadow DeVor’s Yoga Church Teacher Training.  In her words:  today, I am a Mom, a Wife, a Dog Mom, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a confidante.  I am a Yoga Teacher, a Master Life Coach, a Woman that is on a mission to be the best version of herself AND to help others do the same.  I KNOW that this is possible regardless of your past, regardless of what is happening at this moment.  You have more SUPER POWERS than you know.

Addiction: The Food and Alcohol Connection (K.A.M.'s story)

With all the amazing recovery blogs/websites out there (The Real Edition, The Recovery Revolution, Sober Courage, The Rooms Project, Veronica Valli, After Party Magazine, etc.), I'm always honored when someone finds The Sobriety Collective and resonates with my message.  And on top of all that, wants to share with our little community here!  So without further ado, I bring you the beautiful and soulfully self-aware Katherine Arati Maas of Within the Flow.


Ever since I was a child I remember never being satisfied - I constantly wanted something more to help me feel safe and secure. That safety came in the form of food. Being raised in the 1980s in America, I was addicted to junk food and watching TV. I would sit close to the television; watch it for hours alone by myself. Nothing was off limits and I loved the adult talk shows. I loved eating and the way it made me feel (just like alcohol would soon do).

I don’t remember when I started to turn to food to make up for the lack of safety I felt in my young life. I was afraid of death while lying in my bed at night. I was simply afraid of everything. I started binge eating at a very early age, although I didn’t recognize it at the time. I ate anything that tasted or looked good. I remember eating peanut butter from the jar with my hands in frenzy, wiping my pants, as I was too much in a hurry to use a napkin. I ate crazy flavored salad dressings and spray cheeses- basically squeezing them in to my mouth when no one was looking. I ate sour cream out of the tub on taco night after everyone was finished. I used to lock myself in the bathroom and chug Pepto Bismol. Loved that stuff. I ate vegetable shortening because the container had a picture of a cherry pie on it. I would eat candies and crackers I would see on the carpet at church- nothing was off limits.

Much like my dinking behavior as an adult, I was secretive and possessive about my eating. Frenzied eating to fulfill something within came as second nature to me and made me feel safe, protected, and nurtured. Eating quenched a deep hungering need within myself, a need I didn’t know how to deal with or understand. Taking care of this need was shameful and private and felt as if I had a dangerous animal living under my bed that kept growing in size no matter how I tried to pacify it.

Eating “the way I wanted to” became a very secretive behavior, which later naturally turned into drinking “the way I wanted to”.

Consuming food or alcohol made me feel full, secure, and satisfied. As a child I saw the fast food we often ate as entertainment and fun. I loved the high food gave me and I couldn’t get enough. I simply always wanted more.

I remember sipping from my Dad’s beer when he let me try it once, but like a lot of kids, I thought it was gross. Alcohol never played a role in my life through high school when other kids were experimenting. I drank a few times when I was 17 or 18, but started on a regular basis when I was about 21.

It really has never occurred to me until now that the very first time I ever drank, I blacked out. I never saw that as an indicator of a problem because isn’t it normal that young people experiment with alcohol and get a little crazy? Apparently not! Guess I missed that memo…

Around the time after high school I started to restrict myself with food.  I restricted and binged, never understanding how to feed myself properly. I would resist the temptation to eat very much, restricting myself and then would inevitably binge on junk food. I taught myself early on that food was something either to abuse and cover up feelings with or to deny yourself completely. If I could control myself not to eat, I felt strong and powerful. I used foods to make me feel good because I guess that was the only way I knew how.

Food took on a role more than nutrition- it was medicine. Much like alcohol, I felt the need to do my binging in private and felt uncomfortable eating and drinking in public because I felt I had to “hold back”.  After getting my fix I would feel numb and physically stuffed. I can honestly say that while this was happening, I had no idea that what I was doing would be considered an eating disorder because in my mind an eating disorder was about purging into a toilet and storing the vomit in jars in your closet like in Lifetime movies or being sickly skinny. I was neither of the two.

As an adult, I just never knew when to stop or at least I couldn’t stop.

At the end of a ten year addiction, alcohol had taken over my entire life- it was all I cared about, but funny enough I never thought I had a problem. No one ever gave me an intervention, I never went to jail or lost a job. Even though I have had a lot of scary and embarrassing moments, I never really reached a climatic “rock bottom”. Things just stopped being funny and started feeling scary. I remember one morning after a pub crawl, trying to tell my friend that my hangover wasn’t that bad and everyone got crazy the night before she said, “everyone was drunk last night but you were by far the drunkest.” Why was it always that way?

Not all women who have issues with food, abuse alcohol, but it seems that whenever alcohol is an issue, food is often as well. Why? Is it a way for us to feel we are in control?  To conform to a body image our culture pushes on us although we all despise it? I turned to food as a kid because I was nervous and scared for reasons, which are unknown to me. Somewhere down the line, I decided that the feelings I had were too much to handle and I had to gain control somehow, so I restricted my love for eating without even realizing I was doing it. I went into autopilot and the addictions slowly took over.

I am now sober and have come a long way in reshaping my relationship with food, however the restrict and binge behavior affected other areas of life, like fitness, money and work. These days I often have to make it a point to eat a proper lunch because otherwise I will forget. The thing is though, the more that I try to be a militant tyrant in my own life in any way, the more out of control I will get. The more I try to push the contents of the volcano down, the more powerful and destructive the eruption will be.

I was reading the super insightful and wonderfully written blog, Unpickled, the other day. In one particular post, Jean was asked what she does to relax or deal with a difficult day when she can’t have the alcohol. She said something along the lines of “I no longer live my life in such a way where I need to indulge in destructive habits to calm myself down or check out.” This resonates with me deeply. I have always turned to food and alcohol to numb me out, however as I have learnt to live my life in a more gentle, self compassionate way, I feel less and less the need to imbibe in destructive ways of coping.

I have realized that sometimes my self-compassion has been conditional. For example, if I had worked out and ate well, I would feel good about myself and allow myself things. However if I had “fucked up” and been lazy, had not exercised or ate a lot then I had a failure mentality. The only hope I had for myself was to wait for the next day to make up for the mess I had made.

Recently I read a blog post by Isabel Foxen Duke, which really woke me up. She said something like, even if you eat 10 boxes of donuts a day for the rest of your life, it doesn’t mean anything about your worth as a person. Many people have lived meaningful, fascinating lives regardless of how they ate. I thought about it, my diet choices and the diet choices of others do not measure our self worth. Sure, we should take care of ourselves and eat well, but our worth comes from something much greater.

Our worth doesn’t come from the amount of stuff we have, the money we have, the food we eat or the way our bodies look. being deserving of love is not conditional. It comes from deep within because at our core we are love.

Happy Holidays everyone,

Make sure you take extra special care of YOU this season.


Katherine Arati Maas is just a regular girl with something to say and trying to live authentically one day at a time. She writes about sober living and meditation on her blog at www.withintheflow.com.