Guest Post: 5 Ways to Make Time for Self Care while Raising a Child with a Mental Health Diagnosis

Sarah Leitschuh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist located in the Twin Cities in MN. She has experience working with children, adolescents, adults, and family. She has provided individual, family, and group therapy for individuals who have experience depression, anxiety, abuse, struggles with relationships and difficulty managing anger. She is also has experience working with individuals who have been involved with the child protection and juvenile justice systems. Lastly, she tailors her therapy approach to the needs of each individual client or family.

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Many parents struggle to find time for self care practices because they tend to prioritize the needs of others (especially their children) over their own needs.  If you are parenting a child who has a mental health diagnosis, finding time to take care of yourself can be an extra challenge because you may be taking your child to frequent appointments and struggling with how to support your child in day to day interactions. 

It is essential for parents to make sure that we are paying attention to our own well being, so we don’t get burnt out.   A parent who is overwhelmed and not taking good care of themselves is not in the position to be the best support to their child.     Below you will find 5 self care tips to hep you prioritize your own self care, even when time, resources and energy are limited.

1.   Adjust your expectations about what self care may look like given the needs of your family. Self care is any purposeful action we take in order to ensure our well being (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health).    It may not be realistic to take an hour out of your week to get a professional massage, but are there daily routines that you could implement which would help improve your well being?   For example, could you listen to calming music in the car or go for a walk while your child is in a therapy appointment?

2.   Start by focusing on the basics.   Get as much sleep as you can.  Eat well.  Stay hydrated.

3.  Find a way to be active.   If you are unable to get time away to focus on exercise or some other form of activity, consider how you can include your children in your routine.    Engaging in exercise or activity with your child can benefit both you and your child. Being active can help with a child’s symptoms of depression, anxiety and irritability. 

4.  Build your support system.  At times, being a parent can be overwhelming and isolating.  I encourage you to focus on building strong connections with other parents that you feel comfortable sharing openly and honestly with.   It is so valuable to be able to give and receive feedback from other parents while also receiving validation that you are a good parent and that your struggles are real. This support may come from family, friends or formal support groups.  Your child’s school, pediatrician, or therapist are all good resources for finding a parent support group that may be of benefit to you.

5.   Maintain your own interests.  We all have interests that energize us and make us feel content, but we may have put some of them on the back burner because of limited time or resources.   I encourage you to think about the activities that bring you the most joy and get creative about how to incorporate these activities into your daily or weekly routine.

Finding time for self care as a parent can be a challenge.  I get it.  Yet, I also know that you need to take care of yourself, so that you can be there in the way that you want to be to support your family.   I hope the above tips can hep you set a foundation of prioritizing your needs as well as your child’s.   Once you have laid the foundation I have described above, you may be inspired to find realistic ways to expand yourself care practices in other areas, too.  Please feel free to reach out if I can support you in doing so. You can email Sarah at sarah@sarahleitschuhcounseling.com

Why I Wake Up at 4:30am and Ways You Can Wake Up Earlier

Every morning, including weekends, I wake up at 4:30am. Yes, I did say 4:30am. And I said weekends. People say I’m crazy, including my mom, who is an a different sleep cycle. But, I do. And I get around 7 and a half to 8 hours a sleep every night. There’s an occasional late night out when I sleep in or when I forget to set my alarm. But every day you will find me making coffee from the Nepresso machine in my kitchen a little after 4:30.

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I wasn’t always like this. I guess you can say I was a early morning person, but if you said I would be getting up at 4:30am every day six months ago, I would laugh. I guess it really started with my first real job that had me waking up at 5am every work day to go out of the door by 6 to get to the office by 6:30. That lasted for 3 months and I didn’t mind it at all. I actually liked it.

This lead me to waking up at 5 or so even after I was gone from that company. I really enjoy waking up before the sun comes up. I have a few hours before anybody else wakes up except for my dad who gets up early for work as well.

I find that I am so productive in the early mornings. With my handy dandy Bullet Journal, I schedule my tasks for the day usually right in the morning after I get up. This gets me motivated for the day and all of the things and projects I have to work on.

What do I do at 4:30am?? I drink my coffee, which is the most essential part of my morning. I don’t know what I would do without it. Then, I put on my light box which radiates sunlight unto me and increases Vitamin D. It increases my energy that I need for the day. This lasts for 20 minutes and I have to sit in one place so this is the time I write in my Bullet Journal and check my email.

There’s a lot of talk on whether or not to check your email in the early morning. I say to do it. For me, I am really productive sending out emails that I need to or responding to emails. It also is nice to know that when my recipient opens their inbox for the day, mine is going to one of the top e-mails.

During the summer months, I usually go walking on my favorite loop around my house around 6am, when the sun comes out. I live a block from a golf course and the loop around it is a little over 2 miles, so when it’s nice out (not in Minnesota winters) I’ll take a daily walk. This energizes my body to accomplish a lot for the day ahead.

Are you a person that wants to wake up earlier but doesn’t know how to or just stuck on how to begin? Great! Don’t stop reading because I am going to give you some pointers as well as a FREE worksheet!! Click here for the worksheet!

For starters, I recommend getting 7-8 hours a sleep a night every night. Try to wake up and go to bed within a hour of each other every night.

For anyone wanting to wake up earlier, I recommend waking up about 5 or 10 minutes earlier every few days. Have a quick deadline? Wake up 5-10 minutes earlier each night.

Let’s say you are waking up at 7am right now and wanting to wake up at 6:30am. Here’s a sample of what I mean of waking up earlier.

Wednesday, January 11th: 7am

Thursday, January 12th-Friday, January 13th: 6:50am

Saturday, January 14th- Sunday, January 15th: 6:40am

Monday, January 16th: 6:30am

With this one approach, you can accomplish your goal in less than a week! But, this is just one of the many ways to cut back your wake up time.

Waking up early starts the evening before. You don’t want to go to bed at the same time if you’re waking up early. It doesn’t work that way.

Ways to Wake Up Early:

  • Go to sleep with a scent, like lavender, by your bed. Scents like lavender relaxes your body and helps you go to bed quicker. For myself, I have a lavender scented heat pad that I sleep with every night. I just don’t heat it up every night.
  • Have a light box for the morning. Click here to find many options on Amazon.
  • Don’t drink caffeine in late afternoon/evening. Caffeine will increase your energy and will prevent you from going to bed when you are supposed to.
  • Exercise in the early morning.
  • Try Magnesium to calm your brain and body.

Try these things and I will love to hear other suggestions as well!

Click here for the FREE sleep tracking worksheet to get yourself waking up earlier!!

Best of luck!!! I want to hear from you about progress, results, or any questions you may have!

How Relationships Can Improve Your Mental Health

Why do you seek relationships with other people? Do you want someone to go to hockey games with, do your nails together, or just watch your favorite show together? These are all very great reasons to seek contact with other humans. However, did you know having meaningful relationships throughout your lifetime could actually benefit your mental health!

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Relationships can help…

  • Sleep
  • Diet
  • Heart health
  • Decrease risk for mental disorders such as depression
  • Increase longevity of life
  • Other cognitive functions

Lack of healthy, meaningful relationships is associated with…

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Disrupted sleep and fatigue
  • Increased likelihood of smoking
  • Increased likelihood of chemical dependency
  • Increases your likelihood of an early death by 50%
  • Other cognitive problems

Why is this so?

A lot of these mental health issues that develop due to a lack of meaningful relationships can be linked to how we deal with stress.

  • Stress is a major contributor for most mental disorders.
  • Excessive stress inhibits our brains ability to secrete the proper hormones that tell our brain to “calm down” and help us think clearly and critically.

Why do relationships help?

The benefit of relationships on our ability to manage stress is that it can be dissolved and distributed through communication.

  • When we communicate our stresses with other people, we are able to get outside of our own minds and discover new ways of coping with the stressors of our everyday lives.
  • When we have a communicate and have an experience with another person whom we really care about, we release dopamine (feel good hormones) which helps reduce the amount of cortisol (stress hormones) that were “clogging” our brain and help us reduce the stress and clear our minds.
  • Those who do not have people to share their stresses with are unable to discover new coping strategies and unclog their brain of the stress hormones.

Quality > Quanity

Now this is not time for you to panic if you do not have over 30 friends and an active social life. These meaningful relationships are regarded for their quality rather than quantity. Regardless if you have 1 or 25 people that you have a deep, meaningful relationship with, the benefits can still be the same.

We have the ability to stay in contact and maintain relationships like never before.

Ways you can maintain your relationships…

  • Send out a friendly and encouraging text everyday
  • Email a long distance friend and keep up to date on their life
  • Call your parents if you haven’t seen them for a few days
  • Find old friends on social media and reconnect
  • Set up a monthly get together with a friend
  • Share deeper information than you typically would with a friend and ask their advice

I encourage all of you in this new year to reach out more than ever to not only improve just your own, but also your loved one’s mental health by maintaining and increasing the depth and meaningfulness of your relationships.

How are you going to improve your relationship this year?

New Year Goals (Get a Goal Sheet!)

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Happy New Year! We made it to 2017. The beginning of the new year is an opportunity to start new and accomplish your goals.

Creating SMART goals can be very beneficial to success and increasing your mental health. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

  • Specific: Specific goals have a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:
    • Who:Who is involved?
    • What: What do I want to accomplish?
    • Where: Identify a location.
    • When: Establish a time frame.
    • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
    • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
  • Measurable: To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as:
    • How much? How many?
    • How will I know when it is accomplished?
  • Attainable: You need to plan your steps and establish a time frame that allows you to accomplish those steps.
  • Realistic: A goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. You are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.
  • Timely: A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.

I would list all of your goals related to mental health for the whole year. Next, divide them up to when you would like to achieve them. After you’ve done this, go through each goal and write down action steps or sub goals. Decide by which date you want to achieve each goal.

If you’re stuck on figuring out your goals for the new year, here are some categories that fit in with mental health:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Social Goals
  • Not Avoiding Things
  • Sleep
  • Relationship Goals
  • Therapy Goals

Email me at d2lresources@gmail.com to get a 2017 goal sheet! What are some of your New Year goals?

Interview with Emily DeLeon, LMFT

KP: How does a person know when it’s time to receive therapy?

ED: When the person has recognized that they have suffered long enough and are ready to start making some changes to improve their quality of life.

KP: What is your role as a therapist?

ED: I see my role as a therapist as the person who provides support while the client identifies and works towards personal goals. I provide education, insight, and feedback as appropriate to help support client’s work towards personal goals.

KP: What would you say to a person who is recently diagnosed with their first mental illness?

ED: I would encourage that person to get connected with a therapist that they feel is a good fit for them. There are many different therapists with many different personalities and approaches. It is really important that a person feels comfortable with their therapist, otherwise this could be a huge barrier to therapy being effective. Also, don’t be afraid to tell a therapist if it is not a good fit. Your therapist will want to know this and can either work to address the issue or be happy to find you another therapist who’s style might be better for you.

KP: How do you work with a person who struggles with anger management?

 ED:When working with clients who struggle with anger management, we are often working to identify what emotion drives the anger. Often, anger is driven from fear, sadness, anxiety, shame, etc. Identifying the underlying cause of the anger if often the first step to learning how to manage it. I often teach clients how to advocate for themselves by speaking up for what they want in a healthy and assertive manner. One thing I have learn through working with people is that often times people struggle with anger because they do not feel heard or feel like they have a say over decisions in their life.

KP:College is stressful. What are some ways to manage the stress?

 ED: College is stressful! Schedule breaks for downtime to allow yourself to unwind mentally. For some people this may be watching a movie/show on Netflix or Hulu, meeting a friend for coffee, get a work out in, go for a walk, call someone who means a lot to you, etc. The list can go on and on. Jot down a few ideas on a post-it note and put it up in your room to remind yourself to take some time for YOU!

KP: If a college student is away from home and is developing their first signs of a mental illness, what would you recommend they do?

ED: Most colleges have mental health support on campus. I would stop by or e-mail to get more information. It never hurts to check-in with someone about how you are feeling. Use the resources and support available to you because it can make or break your college years. Also, check-in with a family member who knows you well about how you are feeling. They might be able to provide some good feedback as well.

KP: What are some examples of behavioral challenges in children?

ED: Not listening, unable or refusing to complete age-appropriate daily tasks, homework refusal,  sibling conflict that falls out of the realm of typical, argumentative, etc.

KP: If a parent sees their child beginning to show behavioral challenges, what would you recommend to them?

ED: Talk with your child in a warm and caring manner about the behavioral challenges. Often, children try to communicate through their behavior. Try to figure out what your child might be trying to tell you or what they need. Sometimes older children can articulate this to you. Contacting a therapist or play therapist who specializes in working with children could be a next great step to addressing the challenge. A therapist can teach you parenting strategies to help reinforce good behavior and uncover what may be contributing to the behavioral challenges your child is dealing with.  

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Emily De Leon is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working with children, ages 5 and up, adolescents, adults, and couples. Her approach is strength-based, solution focused and client-centered. She has experience working with anxiety, depression, anger management, conflict resolution, stress management, ADHD, Autism Spectrum, intellectual disabilities, parenting struggles, and behavioral challenges.

If you are a mental health professional and would like to do a Q and A with me, feel free to email me at d2lresources@gmail.com.

My Radio Debut

Growing up, I never thought I would tell you that I would be on the radio. One year ago, I never thought I would be on the radio at the age of 22. Even 2 months ago, I wouldn’t believe you that I would be on the radio this soon. Not just on the radio, but live!

Earlier this month,  I was a guest on Moments of Clarity, a mental health talk show, located in Florida. The host is a mental health professional, Tiffany Werhner. During the show, I talk about my experiences with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as well as my business.

This show helped raise awareness about mental health and mental illness, specifically OCD, as well as showing support to others who suffer especially in silence. I hope I gave them the voice to seek out the right help that they need in their lives.

You can listen to the show here. You can look at Tiffany’s website here.

I hope I can get more opportunities like this in the future as my business grows. I want to be a voice to the individuals who suffer in silence.

Guest Post: An Inside Perspective on OCD

Silence is a person who is living in recovery from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):
Dealing with OCD is like being hypnotized into believing things that you believe to be so real, yet as you get more into the saneness of reality, you realize that what you had thought was completely wrong. All of these years, you had gone around, believing that what you were you doing, was the best thing to do, the right thing to do.
 It is like getting trapped round and round in a circle, and you don’t know where you are going, or where you are leading yourself, because it’s an endless merry go ride of your own insanity, without you realizing that you are insane, until the end of the ride.
 The worst thing is, is that you never know what is the right/ wrong thing to do. Whether something is just an obsession, or whether it is actually real. So you feel compelled to ask the same question or to repeat the ritual over and over again because the fear is so strong. You have to be perfect, or otherwise, something terrible will happen, and everything will come to doom.
Here is just a list of some of the OCD’s that I have had in my life, and what effect my anxiety/OCD had on me.
1. Constant apologizing. It turned into a very severe compulsion, to the point where I apologized to even random strangers. I was utterly convinced that if I made an “offensive look” to somebody, or did anything that was remotely offensive to my mind, that I had to apologize to them. Otherwise, God was going to punish me in the afterlife. People thought I was very mentally ill, resulting me in isolation, fear, and concern
2. Constant repeating of religious rituals. I thought that if I never did a religious ritual perfectly, then I would go get punished in the afterlife. These rituals resulted in hours
3. Perfection in grades. If I didn’t get a good grade, then I won’t get into a good college, and if I didn’t get into a good college, then I wouldn’t get a good job, and if I didn’t get a good job, I won’t be happy… This is the mindset that I had for my studies, which put enormous pressure into everything I did. This resulted in me having anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Advice:
Your life is worth living, not based on what meaning society finds into your life, what your loved ones feel about you,  or whether anybody loves you or not. It’s about living your life, till your full potential of joy and meaning. If you can’t find that, then it’s about having contentment with whatever meaning you can find out of what you do for a living. Your value as a person doesn’t depend on what your personality is like, how many people care about you/love you, or how much you have accomplished in life.
 Because there is not such thing as placing value on a person. You have to find your own value.
Also,having OCD and anxiety, you naturally are inclined to be afraid of failure. But, the thing is that living your life like that, you are just living in a safe box, full of depression and anxiety of what can be wrong. Instead, go out in the world, with your goals and dreams, and be fearless of the obstacles that may come in your way.
Because not taking risks in life, also means that you are preventing yourself to experience new things in life,and to accomplish amazing things
Check out my blog, at ocdtalk.com, where I hope to learn and gain new experiences in how to live and deal with life with OCD, and hopefully, people can gain the same aspect from me:) Email me your guest post at tryingandfighting.100@gmail.com, or your best techniques in dealing with OCD.

 

Guest Post: What’s It Like to Have Bipolar Disorder

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Do you remember the song “Sound of Silence”? The one we used to sing with Dad? Remember how we always thought it was about being quiet and not making any noise no matter what we were feeling?

That’s why I’m here, to break the silence. We have a mental illness called bipolar disorder. Because of it, you’re going to be facing some interesting events in your life. Some will be painful and some will break your heart on a level that is unimaginable right now. But I also want to tell you about some things to give you hope. And the best part is there will be hands to guide you along the way, so you will not be alone.

You don’t know what bipolar disorder is, but you’re already starting to feel it. You know that squeezing you’ve been feeling in your chest from time to time? How sometimes you feel so sick to your stomach that you’re afraid to eat? What about when you feel so exhausted after a full night of sleep, but felt that you were barely able to move? Then there are those moments when you want to just break down into tears. There is no reason for it, but you just cry. It is a cry that comes from emotional pain deep inside of you.

But with bipolar disorder, you get a 2-for-1 special. If the depression isn’t hard enough to go through, think about how your thoughts are just continuously racing. You know how you feel when your thoughts are racing, and sometimes they snap a range of ideas into your head that may be hard for others to understand. It’s here, in these teenage years, when you will begin to break through the silence.

You’ll start seeing psychologists, some good, and some not so good. As life drags you down the currents, you’ll see a therapist. He or she will talk to you for hours about your life. Sometimes, it won’t feel like it is helping, but eventually you will find the right one. The first time you’ll know you have bipolar disorder is after you’ve been admitted into an in-patient psychiatric ward. While you are there, you’ll meet a wonderful psychiatrist. You’ll talk a lot about why you are there and what you have been through. He will become your outpatient psychiatrist as well. Between him and a new therapist you’ll meet shortly after, you will finally receive your diagnoses. Fortunately, with their help, you will be introduced to a Day Rehabilitation Program for individuals with mental illnesses. It will be awkward and scary at first.

In time, you will learn the skills you need to cope with the symptoms of your illness, improve your self-esteem, and control your impulses. You will learn how to be more social and all in all, it will help you become a stronger person.

But, try to hold on to this. Even though you still have a hard road ahead of you, know that you are going to get through it. When you find out you have bipolar disorder, it won’t be the end of the world. If anything, it will eventually lead to avenues in your life that you have yet to dream of. It will help define who you want to be. You’ll grow strong in heart and develop faith in yourself. You will also learn to advocate for yourself and others.

Finally, you will learn to love yourself, because you are pretty awesome. A love for teaching will develop within you as well as a desire to help others similar to yourself. All of this will happen because you have bipolar disorder. Yes, it’s going to be a hard, painful walk. But, you’ll be okay. I’ll see you when you get here, kid.

About the Author:
Jae Taylor is no stranger to the challenges of mental illness as she herself is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder among others. She currently attends a day rehabilitation program for individuals with mental illnesses. Although still a consumer, she facilitates a writing group twice week, showing peers how to use writing as a coping skill as well as using it to encourage recovery in a creative and positive way. She’s a peer mentor within the facility, and in January 2016, she became Certified Peer Support and Wellness Specialist. These days, Jae’s focus is on finding humor to promote a healthy recovery. She is also undertaking a new project…advocating for mental health/illness awareness in children/adolescents, as she has three boys, two under 15, with various mental illness and developmental challenges themselves. Jae is a regular contributor to the International Bipolar Foundation’s Blog and is on Twitter at .

Mental Illness Awareness Week

1 in 4 individuals have a mental illness sometime during their lives. 75% get it by the age of 25. By 2020, the number of mental illnesses in individuals will surpass the number of physical illnesses. Mental illness affects everyone involved including family, friends, coworkers, bosses, roommates,  and spouses to name some.

The first full week of October is Mental Illness Awareness Week. We need to be aware of those who are suffering in silence. There are a lot of individuals who are suffering in silence due to stigma. Here a few ways to reduce the stigma:

  • Read books and articles. Go to a nearby library or on the internet to find some books and articles on mental illness.
  • Listen. If you know of a person with a mental illness, listen to them, hang out with them, talk with them, and take care of them.
  • Be careful of your language. Don’t use words like “schizophrenic”. Instead use the words, “He or she has schizophrenia”.
  • Educate yourself. Research online about the different mental illnesses and how it affects a person’s life.

During my first five months of dealing with major depression was spent in silence. I was scared. I was scared to tell family and friends. But, I did.

I don’t want anyone to suffer in silence. We need to be aware and speak up about mental illness. We need to break the silence. I’m introducing the hashtag: #silentnomore. I invite you to use it also. Why am I silent no more? I want everyone to feel that they are not alone in this invisible fight. What about you? Comment below and I look forward to reading your responses.

During this week of Mental Illness Awareness Week, be active and stand up to the person who is around you who is suffering in silence.

Guest Post: Too Spiritual For A Diagnosis?

Lynn Barrette helps us relate spirituality with mental illness. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Spiritual Counselor (LUT). Lynn is also director of the Interfaith Counseling Center and a Certified Center for Enlightenment Teacher. She is an independent Love and Logic Parenting facilitator, a Brainspotting – trained therapist, spiritual counselor, and teaches classes and workshops on mindfulness, the evolution of the soul, Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions, and Spiritual Psychology. Lynn lives in Illinois and check out her website.

“A mental health diagnosis isn’t spiritual. I’m not going to take medication; and besides, what does a diagnosis have to do with spirituality? Shouldn’t I just pray and meditate more?”

As a licensed clinical therapist and spiritual counselor for over a decade, I have been asked these questions frequently, and understandably so. There is still a lot of stigma on mental health issues, not only because of ignorance or the fear of being judged as “crazy”; but also among the more spiritually-minded folks who don’t want to identify with labels. Some people feel that having a mental health diagnosis will somehow become a block to wholeness.

Ironically, every once in a while, I will hear “I am a [such-and-such number] on the Enneagram”, or “I am a [four letters] on the Myers-Briggs scale” as a reason why they are unable to change themselves or how they manage their lives.  But just as these personality-type labels can serve as a self-awareness tool–-not a lifetime sentence-–a diagnosis can bring light to areas where we need to push a little harder, or accept and have self-compassion a little more, in order to support our daily functionning and our spiritual growth.

Spirituality does not mean the absence of issues—including diagnoses—but the working with and through them. Instead of seeing a diagnosis by your doctor or therapist as a lifetime sentence, try using it as a tool for understanding those limitations you are here to overcome.

Any diagnosis can show us our strengths and limitations. Our job is to use those measurements to understand ourselves, and move forward where we have been limited, using the strengths that we have accumulated!

For example, if you have anxiety, what tools can you use to support your own peace of mind? How can you use meditation (mindfulness or otherwise) or yoga to help you ground yourself and strengthen your mind-body communication? What tools are you using to help you take charge of the faulty, racing thoughts when they are keeping you up at night? Everyone needs these skills; anxiety makes us have to work a little harder to strengthen them than someone without a diagnosis that includes some form of anxiety.

If depression is a problem, how can you stretch beyond your comfort zone? What tools in your toolbox do you have to support yourself on the more difficult days? Self-compassion is always, always, always first. If that’s hard for you, then that’s what to start practicing. Keep a list or a vision board of what makes you feel good, your strengths, and what you are grateful for. Ask someone you trust if you need help coming up with what your strengths are. But even then, you have to grow your own self-acceptance of your diagnosis and how it makes you feel some days, or every day. No one will convince you but you; and you have to work a little harder at it than someone who isn’t diagnosed with depression.

Attention deficit issues? What a great opportunity to learn focus and presence! Make a two-column list of what your strengths are and what your limitations are. How can you apply your strengths more widely, and build compensation strategies for your difficult areas?

And we could go on with every diagnosis. Whatever diagnosis you may have, look at your strengths as well as the areas where you need inner and outer support more than the next person. Part of self-compassion is to refrain as much as possible from comparing yourself to the next person who may not be dealing with what you are. I guarantee you that they are dealing with something that might seem very easy to you. We are all working on something!

As spiritual beings, we all have our challenges to work through. Some people are systemically discriminated against, some people grow up in abusive households, some are financially unstable, some have difficulties maintaining relationships, some have a combination of challenges. Our spiritual growth is supplemented through compassion for and moving with the challenges we have in our lives, diagnosis or otherwise.

Is it easy? Nope. But who ever told us it was easy? No spiritual tradition that I have ever heard of! Your solution will be as unique to you as the challenges that you are dealing with. Get support. You don’t have to do anything alone!

And by all means, if medication will support you best, go for it! It is sad to me when a client won’t allow themselves to benefit from medication, and continues to struggle with a brain make-up that is overwhelming them in spite of their best efforts! Years ago, I had to get off my judgments and fears regarding Western medicine. It was the Universe telling me, “Let go of your hang-ups, lady! You have to learn to trust Me in whatever way I direct you!” Self-acceptance also means being open to the support that is available to us!

Be open to your soul’s messages. This will benefit your spiritual development the most. Turn within in whatever way you pray and meditate for strength, support, and intuitive answers. Take the outer signs within you, and ask your inner guidance, “How can this benefit my soul growth?”

Don’t be too spiritual for a diagnosis. Be too spiritual to stay stuck.