941-462-4807 meg@megyounglcsw.com

anxiety Those of us who work with others who are in crisis (first responders, doctors, nurses, therapists, 911 dispatchers), and those who struggle with life issues (therapists, nurses, doctors, corrections officers, probation and parole officers), are among the strongest in society. To be able to deal with people’s pain day after day and come back for more time and time again is both rewarding (when things go well), and frustrating, defeating and stressful. Others cannot hold a candle to the amount of stress that you go through every day in your work. This cumulative stress will take a toll if you are not careful. I wonder if you thought about that going into your line of work. Most of us go in with such a big heart and desire to help that we do not think about the cumulative effects our job will have on us. Or maybe you went in knowing it is possible, but thinking it won’t happen to you. Or maybe you knew it could happen, and even took precautions (going to the gym after work, taking time off, etc), but still found yourself with difficulty focusing, feeling that life isn’t real, and feeling an anxious fidgetiness.
The reality is none of us is immune to the effects of our job. Even when we take care of ourselves, we are still at risk of depression, burnout, PTSD, high blood pressure, GI problems and more. The cumulative stress that we have day after day not only affects our mental well-being, but also our physical well-being.
The downsides to this cumulative stress include mental wearing causing apathy, depression, irritability, and more. The truth is, PTSD is not only caused by a one-time serious situation, but can also be caused by cumulative smaller “traumas” such as seeing and hearing the suffering of others daily.
Furthermore, the cumulative stress includes physical wearing such as high blood pressure, weight changes, irritable bowel syndrome, other GI problems, and heart problems due to the high blood pressure, weight changes, etc.
Additionally, the cumulative stress affects our relationships. Whether it is because we are more irritable, more withdrawn or more passive, eventually what is happening inside cannot stay inside and those around us feel the stress also. A favorite saying of mine is “You cannot throw a pebble in the pond and not get ripple effects.” When we change, so do those around us. Just like the water when a pebble is thrown in.
Frequently the cumulative stress is sneaky. It creeps up on us and we don’t even notice it until it is out of control, or until someone points it out to us. Even then, often we have a tendency to “blow it off.” At the time, you might have blamed it on being tired, or “work is stressful.” But how often did you actually look deeper than work is stressful or being tired? Most of us don’t. Unfortunately, by blowing it off, all it does is make the monster bigger.
Eventually you wind up in a place of such frustration and depression that you can no longer deny it. Maybe that time came when you noticed behavior changes in your family. Maybe it came when your significant other said they are ready to divorce if you don’t get help. Maybe it came when you blew up more than you ever had before. Maybe it came when you had a suicidal thought. Whatever the case, you landed here in this dark pit.
The thing is, this dark pit is a common place for our critical care givers to land. The reality is there are more suicides among first responders and medical professionals than there needs to be. It is unfortunately a very common problem that is very, very preventable. It’s ok to admit you are very stressed. It’s ok to admit that you are overwhelmed or overworked. It’s ok to admit you’re scared. It’s ok to admit you don’t feel like yourself. You are not alone, and often when you speak out, you will find the truth in that statement.
Yes, right now you are feeling pretty frustrated and even hopeless that anything will bring you back to your old self. However, when you put into practice just three quick and easy tips, you can get your life back to where you once had it and feel the same passion for work you did when you first started in your profession. When you make just a few adjustments to your daily routine, it is entirely possible to regain your control and passion in and for life.
Keep reading for 3 tips so you can start seeing results today.
If so, you are not alone. So many people in the helping professions still think they need to be strong and not “cave” to the pressures and experiences of their jobs. The biggest problem with this mentality is you start spiraling down deeper into the pit and it becomes harder and harder to get out. Hoplessness and helplessness set in and try to convince you that it is not worth even trying. Or maybe you did try and it didn’t do what you needed at the time, so you gave up, feeding the hopeless/helpless feelings.
At the very least you find yourself feeling alone and completely stressed out. You don’t know where to turn or who to talk to. Everyone keeps telling you how strong you are. How can you admit that you don’t feel strong anymore? It’s a lonely place to wind up. And a dangerous one.
Living this way is incredibly painful. Even if you don’t see any changes in loved ones at this time, you are hurting. Frequently others notice our pain before we admit that they do. They hurt to see us hurting. When we realize that our loved ones are hurting because we are hurting, it only deepens the guilt and hopelessness.
You can stay in the spiral feeling hopeless and falling further and further down, but you are here because you want to feel better. You want to get out of this. And you do have the potential to get your life back to where you want it to be. You can take charge of your emotions and regain the control of your brain and everything that has started to spiral with you.
When we chose to take charge of our emotions and regain control of our brain, there is a possibility for life to completely turn around for you. There is a light at the end of the tunnel which is not a train, by the way! That light is not as far away as it seems. It is within your reach.
You have the opportunity, right now, to start taking charge of your life. To bring your mind back under your control. To feel stable and healthy again. To feel happy with your life, family, and career. It is within your reach.
So today you feel out of control, depressed, anxious, angry, and unsure, but there is also a small piece of hope. If you didn’t have that small amount of hope, you would not be here reading this blog, looking for a way out of the pit.
The key to achieving happiness in your life, relationships and career is to take it slow. Take it one day at a time. There are no quick fixes. Nothing happens immediately. Drastic changes are hard to deal with anyway. As much as you want to be “your old self” right this moment, if that happened, it would not just be a pebble thrown into the pond, but a boulder. It would be much harder to control and maintain.
Despite not being able to be your old self right now, and having to slow down and take it one day at a time, the changes you will make after reading these tips are not as hard as you think. I only have three tips because too much at once is overwhelming. These three tips are relatively easy to put into play during your day without too much disruption or thought process about it.
Take a look at these 3 tips to see how you can start to feel the control you have been longing for
I’m having difficulty focusing!
One of the reasons you’re feeling so out of control is because it is hard to focus. When it is hard to focus, you feel like you’re all over the place. You forget things, you misplace things, you miss details. When this happens, it feels so frustrating and so stressful. Many people start chastising themselves over it as well, which just makes the situation more stressful.
Instead of chastising yourself, write to-do lists. When you remember something else, don’t go off and do it, but instead write it on your to-do list. Writing to-do lists helps you feel more organized which will help you focus on what you are doing. When things are written down, you won’t forget to do them, which frees up the brain to think about what you are currently focusing on instead of trying to focus on everything at once.
In session with my clients, this is a primary task of getting people back on track. Once we are done with setting goals and identifying needs, we get into task-oriented solutions as the majority of us want to feel better immediately.
When you take the pressure off by writing to-do lists and free your mind to think about more necessary things, we are able to do the deeper work that therapy can help with to get you feeling happy and in control again.
I’m fidgety, but can’t get things done!
It makes complete sense that you are so fidgety but can’t get things done. Your brain is on overdrive trying to do too much at once while in survival mode. It is near impossible to feel calm when your brain is in overdrive like this.
When you write your to-do lists, try to break down any bigger tasks that you have into smaller ones. Similarly to the issue of not being able to focus, when you are unable to get things done, but are so fidgety, it is because you don’t feel organized. Breaking tasks into more manageable tasks makes it easier for your brain to focus on the one thing that you are doing, again, freeing up the space in your brain and calming your survival brain down.
Together with my clients, we identify the biggest tasks in front of them and help break them down into manageable tasks that do not take much time to complete nor much thought process to understand. The easier it is to understand, the easier it is to do. The easier it is to do, the more likely you are to do it. The more likely you are to do it, the more you will do it and thus feel more in control.
When you start breaking tasks on your to-do list down, you will start to notice how much less noise is going on in your head. You will also notice the fidgetiness decreasing. Once this happens, a feeling of control starts to set in again.
I feel like I’m in a dream; life isn’t real!
I just mentioned that when you’re all over the place, your brain goes into survival mode. One of the aspects of survival mode is making the world not feel real. This is because if you are in such a dangerous place, the brain tries to protect you. The numbing is a way of the brain protecting you. The problem is, you are not in a dangerous place, but the brain is doing this protection feature anyway.
You want to get your brain to realize you are currently safe. One way to do this is do something very real: Sing very loudly, scream, or get the heart pumping by doing an intense workout or run. It acts almost as if you are “shocking” your system into reality.
When you schedule a session with Meg Young, LCSW, we create a plan tailored specifically to you that will get you doing all of these three tips regularly, thus helping you start to feel more real and in control so we can dig even deeper and make the changes permanent.
Adding these three tips to your life will make it possible for you to start changing your life. You will start feeling in control, real, happy, and focused again. You will be ready to face the challenge of digging deeper to make it a permanent change. You will feel stronger both inside and out.
Achieving a feeling of control and happiness is a journey which can be frustrating and time consuming, but also so rewarding. It’s like any goal that you have for yourself which was challenging. Maybe you wanted to get through boot camp which was incredibly challenging. Maybe you wanted to get through school, but struggled with your own depression or anxiety making it difficult for you. Maybe there were other challenges in your life that you did not give up on. Remember the feeling when you finally achieved that goal? How powerful and inspiring was that?
Meg Young can help you feel that same feeling of accomplishment with this goal you have for yourself. Sometimes we need a bit of extra support to help us meet our goals. It is not a weakness or a failure to ask for help. On the contrary, it is a sign of strength. We all need help from time to time. Therapists, doctors, and nurses should always seek consultation. First responders, and court professionals should always have backup.
All of our critical care givers are strong people. You deserve to enjoy yourself, your life, and your career. I look forward to helping you achieve this goal for yourself. Call me today 941-462-4807 to schedule the initial appointment that will start the deeper digging of making this change permanent for you!