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Infertility and Grief

Infertility and Grief
A little while back I wrote a blog about the stigma of infertility and my own personal journey. I have decided to re-engage this topic by discussing the grief associated with infertility as the focus. I read an article in Counseling Today (CT) magazine by Tristan D. McBain, that shared information on this unique grieving process. Because infertility can look very different in various individual experiences, it is important to remember that these are some general things to consider or think about but may not be applicable to every case.
In some cases of infertility, both partners may have issues leading to inability to conceive and in some cases, only one of the partners has the issue. This can play itself out in many ways. In addition, some individuals will go through costly and exhausting medical procedures aimed at increasing the likelihood of conception. Others may begin the process of adoption. There may be others who have been able to conceive in the past but…

Saying Yes to Self-Care

Saying “No” Means Saying “Yes” to Self-Care
Recently I attended an annual convention that had a theme of self-care. When I had first heard the theme following last year’s convention, I remember thinking, “how can we do an entire convention on self-care?” I wondered how we would be able to have 30-40 sessions all on self-care that didn’t completely overlap each other. Over the course of the last year, I worked to put together my presentation for the convention. I realized that there are so many facets of self-care, especially in our field, that I hadn’t initially thought of. One of the biggest things I walked away from the convention and my own research with is that saying “no” is necessary for self-care.
So often, we feel an obligation to say “yes” to the requests of others. We may feel compelled to always be ready to lend a helping hand, even when it means that our own needs fall to the wayside. This is particularly true of those in helping professions, parents, and educators, but can …

Momma (or Pappa) is Going to Work!

Re-Entering the Workforce After Kids
Sometimes individuals may leave the workforce to raise families. The amount of time that we may leave the workforce varies from person to person. I personally had some time “off” while having babies and raising them. In my case, it wasn’t necessarily my choice to take the time off that I did, it was due more to life circumstances (relocation, school, etc.). This may be the case for others as well. Whatever the reason, coming back to the workforce can be overwhelming and scary. This tends to increase with time away. It is important to start early.
As soon as you decide or need to return to the workforce, begin preparing. You must decide if you want to do the same type of work you did before. In my case, I returned to my previous employer after my first child was born and I chose to return to school for an advanced degree after my second child was born. Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn can be helpful to get your name out there and be seen by p…

Momma's Too Tired for Sex

Yes, I said it. Probably more times than I would like to admit. I am currently the mother of a 6 (“6 and a half” as she likes to say) and a 5-year-old. Kids are a handful, especially when it comes to young ones who still need some assistance and aren’t as much help around the house as they will be when they are older. In addition to being a working mother, I was a doctoral student for the last 4 years. If you quickly did the math in your head – that means I started as a full-time doc student with a 1 and almost 3-year-old. Am I crazy? Some would say “yes”. I said “no!” I am simply demonstrating to my children the importance of education, never giving up on your dreams, and hard work pays off. Right? With all of that said, I am also no spring chicken. I am about to turn 39 (The 10th anniversary of my 29th birthday, if you ask my closest friends). This was not an easy trek for my spouse either. Not only did he carry the burden of financially supporting the family and shared household d…

Will Masturbation Hurt your Relationship?

(Originally published here: https://www.counseling.org/news/aca-blogs/aca-member-blogs/aca-member-blogs/2019/07/25/will-masturbation-hurt-your-relationship?fbclid=IwAR1KGOnm7r51e4eM6a9DVnPBzt8JyH4vr0Zuy1LgPI9zY3DRyNwjZylvtcU)

Double clicking the mouse, spanking the monkey, wanking, petting the kitty, choking the chicken, flicking the bean… whatever you may call it, there seems to be a level of embarrassment surrounding the topic of masturbation and discussing personal engagement in solo sexual activity. When clients are asked about their engagement in masturbation, there is often a response of discomfort or refusal to discuss the topic, even with clients who had previously been open and forthcoming with their sexual histories and behaviors. This level of discomfort and evasion to discuss masturbatory activity may be present in their romantic relationships as well. According to one study, 38 percent of women and 61 percent of men said they'd masturbated during the past year (Das, …

Things I Wish My Therapist Would Say to Me...

Recently I listened to the following podcast (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/things-i-wish-my-therapist-would-say-to-me-but-never-does/id1454057950?i=1000436780353) in which the host, Jeff, discusses an article he read called "Things I Wish my Therapist Would Say to Me but She Never Does" by Linda Acus (https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/things-i-wish-my-therapist-would-say-to-me-but-she-never-does). While I agree with Jeff on many of these, I thought it might be interesting to respond to each of these based on my counseling style. So, here goes...

"So here is what your problem is"
As Jeff states on the podcast, there are many ways in which therapists do say this to clients, it is just worded very different. My job is to bring attention to the areas you may not see that are leading to difficulties, however, directly saying it in this way may lead to defensiveness or denial. It is better to work with the client to get to their own place of understanding.

&quo…

Fighting the Stigma of Infertility

(Originally published here: https://www.counseling.org/news/aca-blogs/aca-member-blogs/aca-member-blogs/2019/07/12/fighting-the-stigma-of-infertility)

The CDC defines infertility as “not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex.” About 12% of those individuals trying to get pregnant have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. Despite this being a relatively common issue, historically, people have viewed infertility with shame and blame (mostly toward the individual with the uterus). In addition, not being able to have a baby “naturally” can lead to feelings of inadequacy and failure, as well as self-stigmatization. I am that 12%. Being given a diagnosis of infertility led to feelings of being “less than” those who were perceived as having an easy time getting pregnant. It led to feeling that I wasn’t a “real” woman. I felt shame and embarrassment, especially when others asked when my spouse and I were going to have chil…

Becky? Who? Me? (Blog from Therapy Den)

Blog by Catherine Wilson, LPC on TherapyDen
I am a therapist, and a white woman. I’ve always considered and thought of myself as against racism, and absolutely not a racist. I was secure in that, and therapists are supposed to have a handle on things like this, you know. We are supposed to be non-judgmental, we are supposed to be self-aware, and we are supposed to be accepting of all. 
However, about a year ago, after noticing an interesting Facebook post, I experienced a harsh dose of reality. 
The post was about a person’s recent encounter with a “Becky.” If you are white, you might say, “What’s a Becky?” I said the same thing, so I went to my usual source for definitions of what I suspected was slang – my kids. 
According to my daughter, a Becky is, “a white woman who has no idea she is a racist.” As we explored this topic, a commenter on the Facebook post dropped in a link to an article titled The 5 Types of ‘Becky’ by Michael Harriot.
With a fair amount of contempt, because of co…

Swearing and the F*@!g Brain

"You sound so uneducated when you swear"
"Watch your language"
"Do you have to say that word?"

Have you ever stubbed your toe on the leg of your bed? Or a box on the floor? It hurts, it hurts bad. Once I stubbed the same baby toe on my bed 3 times in 2 days. It turned purple and black for some time after. There were numerous swear words that came flying out of my mouth that I could not even recall moments later. It felt so automatic and instinctual. The words just flew out as soon as my brain registered the pain.

First, I want to clarify that there is a difference between swearing and cursing. Cursing is when you intentionally say an expletive within your sentiment. This includes "I am so fucking tired", "You are such a bitch", and "Your ass is dead." In these cases, you are intentionally cursing an individual, thing, event, etc. Swearing is when an expletive comes out of your mouth in response to a physical or emotional pain. As…

Daylight Savings

From https://centerforneuropotential.com/adjusting-to-day-light-savings-time/  Daylight saving time occurred this weekend and for many, it leaves us feeling groggy and extra tired. For those who struggle with insomnia or work rotating schedules, this one-hour shift in time can cause even more difficulty in getting restful and restorative sleep. You may feel a bit jet-lagged as a result.
According to holistic therapist Deb Del Vecchio-Scully, LPC there are several things we can do to make the adjustment more easily:
First, plan and give yourself a chance to adjust. Beginning tonight, stick to a healthy sleep routine and try to get to bed a bit earlier than usual. Next, set your alarm for your usual awakening time and try to get outdoors for natural light for 5-10 minutes upon awakening. This will help to reset your natural clock. For those in cold weather climates, this may not be possible. Try to get outdoors at some point during the day to absorb natural light. Try essential oils su…

C is for Cookie

I am sitting at my desk, neck deep in grading, writing for my dissertation, and weeding through my overflowing email box. What is on my desk next to me? Sometimes it is a bag of tortilla chips or box if Cheez-its. Other times it might be a package of cookies, candy, or other sweets. Am I hungry? Absolutely not! Am I even enjoying what I am eating? Absolutely not! 
Are you familiar with this scenario? Perhaps you are dealing with another type of stressor or feeling lonely, depressed, anxious.... We, as people, can be really good at eating our emotions. This can lead to many issues, including poor health and not actually addressing our emotional experiences.
Some advice from US News & World Report (https://health.usnews.com/health-care/articles/2018-02-22/putting-the-brakes-on-emotional-eating):
"First, it helps to think about the future rather than just that moment. Refocus on the long-term health benefits of good nutrition, and remind yourself how much more important they are…

Help! I Can't Sleep

The past two weeks have been a (not literal) nightmare for me as far as sleep is concerned. Trouble falling asleep, waking throughout the night, tossing and turning, night sweats..... As a person who typically passes out fairly quick and stays asleep for the night (except the occasions where a child comes in with some middle of the night crisis), this has been quite difficult for me. I know myself well enough to know that I am not well rested I can be quite cranky and my anxiety starts to sky-rocket. Knowing this, I make it a point to prioritize sleep and make it as restful and restorative as possible. I can make some guesses as to why the past few weeks have been so difficult and work toward resolution so that I can, once again, sleep more peacefully. I found some really great tips on proper sleep hygiene ("5 Sleep-Promoting CBT Techniques for Insomnia" (Issue 399)). These are some helpful ideas on how to prepare for a healthy night sleep.

Get outside in natural light. A …