What is making you sick?

I keep hearing a similar story too often.  Someone goes to repeated appointments, has multiple tests, sees different doctors until finally someone talks with them about their mental and emotional health. Culturally, we forget or discount that our mental and emotional health impacts our physical health.  If you feel sick to your stomach then the problem is in your stomach, right? It’s worth reiterating about what mental health problems feel like physically.

Depression

  • constantly tiredstomach pain
  • no energy
  • trouble sleeping
  • trouble staying asleep
  • physical pain or soreness
  • lack of sexual desire, decrease in sexual performance
  • weight changes, changes in eating habits
  • trouble focusing, poor concentration

Anxiety

  • nausea/stomach pain (upset stomach in children)
  • indigestion
  • IBS symptoms
  • sore muscles, back or neck pain
  • weight changes, changes in eating habits
  • headaches
  • jaw pain, grinding teeth

Panic Attacks

  • heart palpitations, feel like you are having a heart attack
  • feel like you are going to die
  • light-headed/dizzy, fainting
  • can’t catch your breath
  • sweating
  • nausea

It’s important to note that you are not making up your physical symptoms or just not being ‘tough enough’.  For example, most people genuinely thought they were having a heart attack or are dying when they have their first panic attack. Physically, your heart is racing, you can’t catch your breath, and you are about to pass out.  You aren’t making that up and simply calming down isn’t an option.  Mental health issues are medical problems because it effects the whole body.

Certainty these symptoms can have purely physical origins.  If the root is emotional or mental though, medications will only treat the symptoms and will not change the underlying condition.  Therapy is needed to ultimately resolve these symptoms.  Hopefully, we will all get better at recognizing and treating the actual problem.

-Jennifer

Secrets: You’ve Got a Secret

Do you have a secret? 

You go through your days and no one suspects it. You have this under control. Its been a long time, you know how to handle your secret. As long as you keep it quiet, it doesn’t hurt anyone else. <—- This is what your secret tells you. 

Lets look at some lies that secrets tell. 

1. If they don’t know, it won’t hurt them. 
A secret would have us to believe that someone finding out is the only way for the secret to hurt them. People are hurt by what they don’t know because a secret changes you in a way that others don’t understand. They don’t understand why you are irritable, why you are so stubborn about some things, or why you can’t be around someone. Even worse, when people don’t understand a problem they usually attribute that they are the cause. Maybe you know it is about your secret but they think it is about them. 

2. Telling would be too catastrophic. Things would never be the same again. Telling would just create problems. 
You likely envision your secret coming out and life changing forever and nothing good happening from that point on. The truth is that if you tell your secret, everything may likely change for a time. Things may fall apart in the short term but will stabilize in the long term. Things might not ever be the same but it doesn’t mean that it will forever to bad. For secrets like affairs, addiction or abuse, the fall out can be big but the recovery will happen. The immediate aftermath will be rough but the only way to have a better long term is to go through this step.  


3. Keeping it doesn’t really affect me. I have it under control.
This is the biggest lie about secrets. You believe that you are okay or at least you can manage it. The truth is you are not okay. Most people do not understand how much energy keeping a secret takes, how much it changes your mood and behavior, and how much it keeps good parts of you locked away. I hear it over and over again “I didn’t realize how much if affected me until after I told.” Secrets can produce irritability, depression, anxiety, somatic symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, and tiredness. When a secret is locked inside of you it takes up room and there is less room for joy, peace, fun, and connection. And it is always taking up more room than you think. 

Now some truths about secrets

1. It will be easier to deal with a secret if you tell it instead of it being discovered. 
The biggest problem with a secret is the breach of trust. You can start the recovery off on the right foot by telling so that those who are involved can know that at this point you decided and wanted to be honest. The worst situation is for a secret to be uncovered, you deny it and then are proven to be a liar twice over. It makes so much more to overcome. 

2. There can be more healing and good than you can imagine. 
Because a secret is taking more from you and your relationships that you realize, being free from it will open up a lot of room for positive growth and change. I know that everything within you believes the opposite but I see the good side of telling all the time. 

3. There is help along the way. 
If you are struggling with a secret, I think starting with a counselor is a great place to begin. A counselor will not be hurt or upset by your secret. Telling a counselor can help you see the benefits of coming clean and can help you figure out the next steps. (Disclaimer:telling a counselor doesn’t mean that you won’t need to tell someone else in time.) 

Think about it. 
Next post: You’ve Learned a Secret. 
-Jennifer 




A Calm Mind

An anxious mind is a powerful force. It was spin and swirl thoughts, worries, and fears around at a mighty pace and handicap your ability to focus, make decisions and be at peace The most common initial strategies for dealing with anxiety I use are: 1. accept that you are anxious. 2. manage your thoughts. 


Accept that you are anxious.
This might initially sound counter-intuitive. People often try not to be anxious or to ignore that they are worried. This results in the equivalent of ignoring a bear in your living room.  If you are anxious, then you ARE anxious. It is wasted energy to try not to be anxious when you already are. 

Manage your thoughts. 
Anxious thoughts are like a wayward pilot on auto-pilot. You don’t intend to be worrying or be thinking about things but you just find yourself doing it. We must take the plane off of auto-pilot and learn to steer manually. You can steer straight into the thoughts and worries or you can steer clear of these issues. 

To dive straight in, spend some time purposely thinking about your worries and concerns. I strongly recommend you do this by writing out your thoughts. First, identify one worry and write everything associated with that worry. While doing this, you will identify another worry. Write it in the margin and write about it after finishing the first worry. Do this process until you have written through what is on your mind. Don’t try to be logical or fix your worries as you write. Just write down your thoughts. 

When you are finished you might find that the process of writing it down, alleviated your concern. If you still feel anxious, reread it. Are your fears realistic? Proportional to the situation? Is situation changeable? What’s the repeated theme of your anxiety? Is there a core fear? 
Option two in managing your thoughts is purposeful distraction. When you catch your mind on anxious auto-pilot, tell yourself to stop those thoughts. For example: I am not going to think about that now, I have already thought about all of it. I am not going to think about it now, I will think through it all tonight. I have already thought about all of it, I just have to focus on ______. Switch over to different thoughts (i.e. favorite memories, plans for this weekend, what task you need to do next) or a new activity that requires more focus. The anxious thoughts will probably creep back in. Every time you find it there again, you have to tell yourself to stop and switch over again.

Keeping a calm mind is difficult and requires focused effort. You have to work with your anxiousness regularly to keep it in check. The goal isn’t not to worry but to worry in control and in proportion. 

-Jennifer

Promises from the Bible about Worry

Christians often struggle with the dual reality that the Bible calls on us not to worry yet they still have problems controlling their worry. I think the Bible talks about worry and fears because God knew that this would be a difficult issue. There are many ways to approach dealing with anxiety and one way I think can be helpful for believers to turn to scripture. To make it more helpful, you should expand beyond the verses that just tell us not to worry. I listed some verses (most are NASB translation) below and have a handout. If you would like a copy, email me at jennifer@familysolutionsok.com

You likely know the scriptures about not worrying.

“Don’t let your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me.” John 14:1

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27


And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Luke 12:22


And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Luke 12:35-26


Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:27


So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day 
has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

But it also helps to remember that God loves you and has promised to care for you.
Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all! 2 Thessalonian 3:16

“I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b


You drew near when I called on You; You said, “Do not fear!” Lamentations 3:57


…but the Father knows that you need these things. Luke 12: 30b


For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:25-26


God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Psalm 46:1-2


He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. Psalms 62:6


And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28


But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

The Bible tells us that God will protect and help us in our times of worry and fear.
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12: 9


But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3


Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10


If I should say, “My foot has slipped.” Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up. When my anxious inner thoughts becoming overwhelming, your comfort encourages me. Psalms 94:18 -19

You are promised that you will endure.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33


Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James1:13

The Bible tells us how to cope with your worry. 
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:4


When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. Psalms 56:3


Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7


Hope these can help,
-Jennifer