Month: August 2014

Seven Signs of Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding Disorder has recently become a recognized disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.  While no one but a trained practitioner can diagnose Hoarding Disorder, here are some red flags that you or someone you love is well on the way to this diagnosis.

1. Inability to throw things away

One of the first signs of a hoarding disorder is an inability to throw things away.  You may suffer from extreme anxiety at the prospect of throwing away or getting rid of your possessions.  This can be true even with things that are considered by most to be garbage – old newspapers, take out containers, old food, and broken electronics.  When these kinds of items start to pile up, and you have a physical and emotional response to the idea of throwing them away, it is time to get some help.

2. Your possessions have gone beyond clutter

Most people have a certain amount of clutter in and around their homes.  We have junk drawers and storage closets.  We have cubby holes and garages where things go that we do not immediately have a use for.  Many have storage units away from their homes to keep odds and ends that do not have a specific place.  But there is a line between having regular clutter and moving toward hoarding.

3. Your possessions have taken over your home

Eventually, your possessions will start taking away from your living space.  It is typical for hoarders for have created paths for themselves to be able to move a little within the piles.  Often, there will be one path that leads to every useable space in the home.  For example, the path may start at the front door lead to the sofa, from the sofa to the refrigerator, from the refrigerator to the bed, and from the bed to the toilet.  The path must be traversed in this sequence in order for the walker to get to any one of these areas.  It is also fairly common for whole sections of the home to eventually become blocked off so that there is no way to get near them without either clearing things away or climbing over things.

4. You are embarrassed about the state of your home

Many people are concerned about presenting a clean home and a healthy appearance if they have guests.  If you are exhibiting hoarding tendencies, you are likely to be embarrassed about your home to the point where you rarely let people in.  Unlike collectors who are proud of their collections and show anyone who comes near that things that they have collected, hoarders hide what they keep or try to hide everything until it becomes too big of a problem to hide anymore.  You shy away from having people come in.  You may step outside to talk with anyone who comes to your door rather than have him or her step inside.  Depending upon the length of your disorder, it may have been years since anyone but you was in your home.

5. You do not like your possessions to be touched

Since you have mostly stopped letting people in your home, this may not be an issue.  However, it might be one of the reasons why you have not let anyone come in for quite some time.  It is possible that someone at one point has offered to help you get a handle on your possessions.  This made you feel completely uncomfortable because the idea of someone else touching your things was too much for you to handle.  Even if you find your possessions unmanageable and it would be great for someone to come and help you, you are too anxious about someone touching your things.

6. You are unable to use many of your appliances or conveniences anymore

If you have a physical or emotional reaction to throwing anything away, you have likely not been able to clean out your refrigerator which means that it is full of mold.  It may not even be working because you are extremely uncomfortable with anyone touching your things.  The same could be true for your sink, your toilet, your oven, and any of the other fixtures or appliances in your home.

7. Your possessions are impeding your daily function

Because your appliances and your plumbing are not functional or not accessible, you may be unable to keep up on your personal hygiene.  You may not be able to cook anything so you are relying entirely on deliverable take out.  Your home may smell bad because of the garbage around, but you cannot bring yourself to clean or throw anything away.  You cannot clean your clothes and may not be able to get to clean ones you may have.

All of these things and more are an indication that you have a hoarding problem and that it is time to seek help.

The Grieving Process

When we lose someone or something that we love and care for, it is going to be very painful. Grief is a natural response to this kind of loss.  Grief can be very intense. Depending upon the importance in our lives of what we’ve lost, the grieving process can last anywhere between a few days and a lifetime.

You can feel grief for all different kinds of losses including:

  • The death of a loved one
  • Miscarriage
  • The death of a pet
  • Losing a job
  • Losing financial stability
  • Retirement
  • The loss of a friendship
  • The loss of safety after a disaster or a trauma
  • Giving up on a lifelong dream

There are two very important things to remember when it comes to grief:

  1. Everyone grieves differently.
  2. There is no timetable for grieving.

Of course, the more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be.  For a smaller loss, you may still experience grief, but it will not last as long and it will not feel quite as deep.  For a great loss, it may feel like the sadness and the pain are all-consuming, and you will never be without them.  However, everyone grieves in their own personal way, and there is no way to know how long the grieving process will last.

Five Stages of Grieving

There are generally accepted to be five stages of grieving.  Not everyone will go through all five stages.  And not everyone will experience each stage in order.  Because everyone is different, all grief is different and presents in different ways.  There is really no such thing as typical grief.  The five stages of grieving are:

1. Denial

People experiencing denial as a part of grief often tell themselves that the situation cannot be happening to them and come up with all kinds of rationale about how that can be true.

2. Anger

During this stage, people who are grieving are looking for someone to blame and asking why this is happening to them.  They may start to take their anger out on the people around them such as other family members or friends.

3. Bargaining

In bargaining, the grieving person will try to make deals with God or any higher power of his or her choice including the universe.  He or she will say that if the thing from which he or she is grieving does not happen or is undone, he or she will do something, give up something, or be something in exchange.

4. Depression

In the depression stage, people will assert that they are too sad to do anything but be sad.  This is the point at which many people are pushed to seek grief counseling.  When a grieving person enters the depression stage, he or she may get stuck and be there for a while depending upon the severity of the loss.

5. Acceptance

Eventually, most people will get to a point where they have accepted their loss and are able to move on with their lives.

Symptoms and Signs Of Grieving

While everyone experiences grief differently, there are some common symptoms. Many of these symptoms are not unique to only grieving, but in conjunction with each other will most certainly signify that grief is being experienced in a person.

Anxiety and Fear – Facing the death or illness of someone very close to you can bring up thoughts about your own mortality and how you will face life without the person in question.  These thoughts can bring up feelings of helplessness, worry for yourself and for your other loved ones, and insecurity.  You may go so far as to have panic attacks.

Guilt – Specifically with death, there is not going back and changing things from the past.  You may feel guilty about things that were or were not said or done.  You may feel guilty about some of the feelings you are having surrounding the loss such as feeling relief when someone passes on after a long illness.

Shock – Right after a loss or a trauma, it may be difficult to process what has happened.  You might have trouble believe what has really happened.  You might find yourself denying the truth or having trouble believing that it is all true and not just some kind of dream.  Shock really involves not being able to process the information that is being presented to you.

Getting Through the Grieving Process

All of these elements and more combine to paint a picture of grief.  No one’s grief is ever going to look the same as someone else’s.  When you find yourself grieving, you are probably going to need someone to talk with about what you are feeling.  Any kind of grief is worth sharing with a grief counselor.  Grief left untreated can get complicated and lead to emotional damage that will affect not only the person experiencing the grief but also the people who care about him or her.  A counselor trained in dealing with grief can help you navigate through the stages and eventually lead you toward acceptance.


Five Reasons You Could Benefit from Life Coaching

Life coaches have become more popular in recent years.  A life coach can provide a special value to a person’s life by providing non-judgmental support.  Life coaching is different from psychotherapy, but it can be used in conjunction.  Life coaching is about helping a person thrive in the present and create the life that they want to have. Life coaches counsel their clients in matters of career, relationships, and personal life.  Life coaches draw from the techniques found in psychology, sociology, adult development, marketing, and many other types of sciences that deal with the brain and personality development to help their clients.  There can be many reasons that you need a life coach.  Here are some of them.

You are Feeling a Little Lost

Maybe things are not going so well for you at the moment.  You may not know what you want to do with your life.  You may feel like you are just going through the motions.  Your routine may not be as fulfilling as it once was.  A life coach will be able to help you sort out what you really want and what you truly value.  Once you have figured out those things, you will likely be able to find your way a little easier.  You can decide what you want to do after that.

You are Having Trouble with Decision Making

If you are waffling about decisions that you think should be easy to make, you might need a life coach.  These decisions are not toast or English muffin kinds of decisions but rather to leave this relationship or stay kinds of decisions.  Everyone has a different method of decision making.  Some people make snap decisions and are confident in them.  Some people take a long time to mull things over.  Some people have to get opinions while other only need to make a pro and con list.  Whatever your style, a life coach can help you sort out the most important parts of the decision you are trying to make and show you the way to the right answer that will work for you.

You Want Help to Become a Better Person

Personal growth is one of the best things you will find about having a life coach.  One of the major pluses to having a life coach is that he or she is meant to be able to reflect you so that you can see your whole self from an objective point of view.  Taking this step back from yourself allows you to identify the parts that you want to keep and that parts that you want to work on.  When growth is happening in one area of your life, chances are it is going to happen in other areas as well.  Working on pieces of your whole life will give you the balance you are likely desiring.

You Know That You Need to do New Things in Order to Achieve Your Goals

Making the choice to step outside your comfort zone and try some new things can be easy.  Actually doing it is a whole other issue.  A life coach can help you take the baby steps you need to take to stretch your boundaries without breaking them.  A life coach will advise you about taking calculated risks and what steps you need to take to be able to achieve your goals.  Your life coach will help you make your way through the unfamiliar ground and move you up the ladder to where you eventually want to be.

You are Ready for a Change

Wanting to do completely new things in order to achieve your goals is different from just needing a change.  You may have just left a long term relationship.  You may have left a job or been forced to leave a job you have had for a long time.  You may have lost a loved one.  All of these things can make you feel like you are ready to change things up in your life by finding a new city, some new friends, a new job, or a new apartment.  All of these things can be helped by a life coach.  You and your life coach can brainstorm and explore and make a plan for what you are going to do with your life and how you are going to change to make yourself feel secure again.

Life coaches are not some kind of fairies that can fix everything for you – they are a great resource that can help you carve out a path for yourself.  They can help you find your way and make you into the most productive and happy person that you can be – and that’s pretty amazing.

Five Ways to Build a Strong Relationship With Your Teen

Raising an adolescent is tough.  Some say that with the current technology challenges and the current media models, raising an adolescent now is tougher than it has ever been.  When it comes to dealing with some of the big issues like drug and alcohol use, it is really easy to get stuck in the trap of mistrust and negativity on both sides.  Mistrust can quickly become a habit rather than a fleeting occurrence, and it will quickly erode your relationship with your teen.  There are a number of ways that you can improve your parenting and improve your relationship with your adolescent so that you can start talking about the big issues as he or she continues to grow.

1. Communicate

When you ask questions about what your adolescent is involved in, he or she may think that you are prying because that would be the typical adolescent response.  But if you make it clear that you are asking because you care about the things that he or she is involved in and you are actually interested in what he or she has to say, your point will eventually get across.  They to get involved with some of his or her activities.  Be available for things like fundraising, chaperoning, or simply attending events hosted by your adolescent’s group.  Be supportive of art classes or music lessons or performance art pieces.  And talk about these things a lot.

2. Listen and Respond without Judgment

There are very few things that will make a teenager stop talking faster than judgment and advice when it was not requested.  It is okay for your teen to make mistakes.  Adolescences is the best time for learning and making mistakes.  Making judgments about the mistakes that have already been made is not going to be useful.  When your teen asks you for help, give your honest advice about what can be done now, not what could have been done before.  Listen to him or her talk about discuss what could be done next time if nothing can be done this time. Listening is key to a healthy relationship with your teen.

3. Reflect the Behavior You Expect

It is really easy to give back the kind of behavior that your teen gives to you.  Teenagers often respond to their parents with short responses and curt answers.  You should be polite even when you are dealing with bad behavior.  You should be respectful of your teen’s feeling. He or she may be dealing with some issues that you do not know about.  Or he or she may just be annoyed with you because you are a parent and he or she is a child.  Whatever the cause, there is no reason for you to engage in adolescent behavior.  If there is a behavior problem, treat him or her like a troublesome employee.  Lay out your expectations.  Be very clear about what you expect to see.  Give your child a timeline for the consequences for continuing the behavior.

4. Discipline 

Your teen needs to know that you mean business.  If he or she is exhibiting a behavior that you have already talked about, follow through with your expressed discipline plan.  Your teen will get the hint that you are not joking.  You are right to correct behavior that you think it in appropriate, but always remember to criticize the behavior and not the teen.  Do not tell him or her that he or she is stupid.  Instead say that the behavior he or she exhibited was not smart.  Mention that in the future you expect better because your teen is better.  If you say something that you do not mean in the middle of an argument, apologize for it and correct your mistake.

5. Make Spending Time Together a Routine

When your child was little, he or she was around you all the time.  But now that he or she is older, often more time is spent separately than together.  So you are going to have to make some time specifically for spending together.  Plan a fun weekly outing or a dinner together.  Make cooking something that you can do together.  Even a regular 20 minute car trip for just the two of you can be enough.

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