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When the bottom drops out

when-the-bottom-drops-outImagine that there are four people about to get on a ride at the State Fair. It’s the Graviton, the ride where you stand up against the wall with a thin chain hooked loosely in front of you and the ride starts spinning and spinning, faster and faster and then it tilts and the bottom drops out. The only thing that’s holding you in is the centrifugal force of the ride.

One of the people has been on this ride before and knows how it works and loves how it works. That person remains calm. They get off the ride and they’re fine. We’ll call that person A.

The other person hasn’t been on the ride before but assumes that the people running the park know what they’re doing. That person feels nervous. They get off the ride and they’re fine if a little shaky. We’ll call that person B.

The third person doesn’t trust the park owners and thinks that when the bottom drops away that the ride has broken. They’re afraid for their life. They get off the ride sobbing and are greeted by warm, loving friends who embrace them and comfort them. That person is C.

The fourth person doesn’t trust the park owners either and believes the ride has broken, too. Think think they are about to die. When they get off the ride, there is no one there to greet them and they feel miserably alone and abandoned. That person is D.

All four people were on the same ride. All four people had fundamentally different experiences.

Here is the definition of trauma: If you are fearful for your life or the lives of those around you.

It doesn’t matter if the ride was safe if a person does not perceive it as safe. (As an aside? I was told by my mom all of my growing up that those State Fair rides aren’t safe. There is no way I’d get on the Graviton and if I accidentally did? I’d be person C.)

A is going to be fine because they liked the ride, they liked how it worked and how it felt. B is going to be ok, as well, because B has faith that the people in charge know what they’re doing. C will likely be all right, too, because C is immediately surrounded by people who validate their experience and offer comfort and support. But D? D is not going to be OK because what mitigates trauma (and even if this does not look traumatic to everyone there and wasn’t experienced as trauma by everyone there, for D it was) is connection and D has no one to connect with.

This is my message to you. We do not get to decide when people get to be afraid or what their experiences ought to be. There are people in our community who are afraid right now; maybe you are afraid right now. It doesn’t matter if person A or B doesn’t get it; you have a right to your feelings. And what you need — what we need — is to find each other. Mr. Rogers says to look for the helpers and now is the time to do that and now is also the time to be the helpers.

If you are person C or D, please reach out. Find your safe people and start planning some specific ways you can spend time together. There are lots of ways to create good, solid connections and sometimes that’s coffee together, sometimes that’s phone calls, sometimes that’s joining together and organizing, and sometimes it’s joining together to help someone else. We need each other to mitigate our fear when the bottom drops out.

If you are person A or B, please understand that your experience is not everyone’s experience. You may not be afraid, you may even be having fun but we are a community and we must recognize that many people in our community are suffering.

To that end, I am partnering with Columbus Birth & Parenting to host a supportive gathering this Sunday in our offices from 10am to 2pm. We have no idea how many people will be here and we don’t have an agenda; just some ideas to give people space to feel validated and supported. Because the event has gotten larger than we anticipated and because some people who can’t attend would like to feel included, we will be using #hopeandaction on social media to find each other. We encourage you to Tweet, Facebook or Instagram using that hashtag on Sunday in order to connect with like-minded people near you to create and strengthen community ties. If you are currently a client, please know that you are invited, too. I will not acknowledge our connection and will respect your confidentiality but I will welcome your participation. If the fact that I’m hosting this event feels uncomfortable to you, please let me know and we can talk about it. I respect that my clients have diverse experiences, backgrounds and beliefs and want you to know that I support you, period.

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Upcoming Community Events

I wanted to share some events that are coming up around the community.

From the Coalition of Adoptive Families:

Rejection and Grief: Feelings Unspoken

It is common for adoptees to experience feelings of rejection and grief but sometimes the connection is not made to resulting depression, anxiety, and lack of self esteem.   Learn how adoption related loss can affect your child.

Guest Speaker:  Theresa Tammy Gaser, MSSA, LISW-S, CTS – Trinity Family Counseling, Westerville

Tammy is certified as a Trauma and Loss Clinical Specialist by The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children (TLC).  Throughout her career she has provided training seminars on child abuse and neglect, developed treatment plans, and provided consultation services for survivors of various types of trauma and grief/loss, including events such as sexual/physical abuse and environmental/community trauma.  Tammy enjoys equipping patients with effective behavioral strategies to deal with various behavior management concerns (volatile and threatening aggressive behavior) and anxiety/stress management. She also provides individual therapy for children, teens, and adults with delays in executive functioning, emotional expression, and/or development, and for those with Attachment Disorders and Oppositional Defiant Disorders.

Date/Time:   May 20, 2015, 7:00 p.m.8:30 p.m.

Location: 1550 Old Henderson Rd., Suite N 162,  Columbus, OH 43220. Entrance, and parking, are on the North side rear, of the building.

More information and online registration: Rejection and Grief: Feelings Unspoken

From IMPACT Safety:

Own Your Own Voice Verbal Defense Workshop

IMPACT Safety teaches a unique form of self-defense and personal safety. You will learn IMPACT Safety’s strategies for dealing with difficult situations—whether a stranger who means you harm, a friend, coworker, or acquaintance. You will have the opportunity to learn and practice powerful verbal skills for many everyday situations. The goal of every IMPACT Safety program is to increase our choices so we may live in the world more freely.

Class Size Is Limited • Registration Required

Two Sessions Available

Morning Session
Date: Saturday, June 13, 2015
Time: 9:00 am—12:00 noon
Location: LifeCare Alliance Event Center
670 Harmon Avenue
Columbus, OH 43223
Cost: $75.00
Click here to register for the AM SESSION.

Afternoon Session
Date: Saturday, June 13, 2015
Time: 2:00 pm—5:00 pm
Location: LifeCare Alliance Event Center
670 Harmon Avenue
Columbus, OH 43223
Cost: $75.00
Click here to register for the PM SESSION.

From Cornerstone of Recovery

Camp Memory is a day camp which will be held Tuesday, June 23rd-Thursday, June 25th from 8:30am- 12:00pm at Cornerstone of Hope in Columbus, Ohio for children who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Drop off and breakfast will start at 8:00am and camp will be from 9:00am and go until 12:00pm. We will have a “littles” group for children ages 6-9 and a “middles” group for children 10-13. It is designed to help children share their grief experiences in fun and creative ways. Children are divided into groups by age for most activities.

Learn more by going here.

 

Anxious Kids (and Anxious Parents)

anxious childThis Saturday I’m hosting the free talk on Kids & Anxiety. It looks like there’s going to be a full house (fortunately I have enough chairs now and we’ll just squeeze in if everyone shows). Because of the interest, I’m hoping to schedule another time to offer it early in the new year. I’m also doing out reach to professionals in other areas who are interested in sharing their wisdom with us so to keep up to date on future free events, please subscribe to my newsletter. (You can do this by scrolling down and filling out either the bright yellow box that will magically appear or by filling out the form in the black area at the bottom of the page.)

Because of the interest in the workshop and requests I’ve had from people calling my practice, I’m going to offer a group to help anxious kids in a few weeks. This is an 8-week program using research-informed practice to give kids tools that will help them understand and deal with anxiety. The workshop is called Coping Kids and you can learn more about it here.

I wanted to offer the group for several reasons:

  1. Research shows that group psychotherapy can be as effective as individual psychotherapy (and is also less expensive);
  2. It’s been my experience that many of my anxious kid clients feel isolated by their worry. Meeting other children who are learning to manage their anxiety can be a huge, huge relief;
  3. Creating community is incredibly healing; this goes for kids as well as adults;
  4. Finally, many of us learn best helping each other learn. Groups give us the chance to do that.

I do require a (free) 20-minute meeting beforehand just to make sure that the group is a good fit for that child. If it’s not, I’ll be happy to share other resources or give some direction if the parents are interested. Also I want potential members of the group to have a chance to meet me, see the space and ask questions.

I am going to keep the group small with a maximum of six kids so that everyone has the chance to participate.

Curious to learn more? Let me know.

Of ice buckets and Ferguson

shutterstock_145318993If you are on Facebook or on Twitter or don’t live under a rock then likely you have been either witness to or part of the ongoing cultural conversation around the ALS ice bucket challenge and the shooting of an unarmed Black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri and the resulting outcry in his community and beyond.

I was thinking about this juxtaposition today, in particular about the controversy of the juxtaposition. I’m not talking about either thing itself — people drenching themselves in ice water or a young man’s death at the hands of police — but about these two things happening at the same time and how people are managing the presence of two wildly different cultural events happening at the same time.

I’m not the only one talking about this. Orlando Jones is. And Digiday.com is. But I’m thinking more about our response to each other and what it has to say about what we need.

I have read (I’m sure you have read) racist arguments, tearful essays, hopeful blog posts. I’ve watched (and I’m sure you have watched) moving challenges, funny challenges (and of course failed challenges) and challenges starring celebrities calling other celebrities out. I’ve also watched (and I’m sure you have watched) videos of mothers testifying to the loss of their Black sons, video of people rioting, and video of people marching peacefully only to be met with violence.

I have read these things and watched these things because people have shared them on their Facebook feed.

For the most part the divide is person to person; the person who posts a challenge doesn’t post much about Ferguson and vice-versa. Sure there’s cross over but not a whole lot. (You might be seeing something different; I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.)

This is what I’ve come away with.

Life is hard, deeply deeply hard and painful and we all cope with it in the best way we can.

  • Some of us really need to see the funny ice bucket videos and laugh knowing that it’s bringing attention to a good cause.
  • Some of us really need to see people willing to engage in hard topics on fluffy social media sites, to witness their friends speaking out and risking censure.
  • Some of us go to Facebook to escape.
  • Some of us go to Facebook to be inspired.
  • Some of us go to Facebook because we’re bored during an office meeting or during a toddler’s nap and we’re just killing time.
  • Some of us do best with lots of information and discussion.
  • Some of us do best when we can ignore bad news in the places where we play.
  • Some of us do our donating anonymously and would never make a show of our donations.
  • Some of us want to feel like part of a movement, to feel something exciting happening.
  • Some of us do our political work off-line where we won’t risk relationships.
  • Some of us speak loudly, passionately and use a status update as a rallying cry.
  • And yes, some of us do things on social media to make ourselves look good without any real interest in changing the world. (Sometimes the world gets changed anyway, even if some of the people who are part of the movement are just phoning it in.)

I think mostly about how much we (each of us, individually) need each other (each of us, individually) and this is why it is so inspiring and so painful when our social media is not reflecting what we want to see in the world.

I get compassion fatigue. Sometimes when I’m having a hard week or I’m working with a client (or two or three) who’s having a hard week I just want to take Buzzfeed quizzes (by the way, I’m Fanny Price!) and read LaineyGossip.com. Other times I really need to see the passion in people whose values resonate with mine, to see their hard work and anger. I have definitely been the person posting controversial articles on Facebook and I’ve definitely been the person temporarily hiding a friend posting controversial articles on Facebook.

I personally think that the ice bucket challenge has gone viral in part because of Ferguson and because of Gaza and because of Robin Williams. I think that when we collectively get sad we desperately want to get happy and so in hard times our Facebook fills up with pictures of cute kittens and calls to action that are easy and that are part of being hopeful.

But I also get why the juxtaposition is so jarring and makes some of us angry and/or disheartened.

I see a clear divide on my own Facebook feed with very little crossover right now. I don’t pretend to know why that is individually (I have friends who are generally right in front of anti-racist rallying who have stayed mum on Ferguson; I have friends who generally decry public displays of social charity who are tossing ice water over their heads) but I think it’s because these are hard times and we are all doing the very best we can.

 

Free Car Seats and Car Seat Checks at Neighborhood Health Fair

car seat checksOn Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at the Westside Health Center, 2300 West Broad, Columbus, OH from 11am to 3pm the Westside Health Center in partnership with the City of Columbus, the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan, and Columbus Public Health will be giving car seats to low income residents and offering car seat checks to anyone who needs them.

Health Fair events include:

  • Free Car Seats & Installation
  • Free Health Screenings
  • Health & Wellness Giveaways
  • Games with OSU Mobile Tour &
  • Expedition Fit Kids
  • Health and Wellness Resources
  • Music and Prizes
  • Healthy Nutritious Snacks

You must be registered and attend one of the class times listed to receive your car seat: 11:30am -12:30pm or 1:30pm-2:30pm Call the Westside Neighborhood Health Center for more information (614) 645-2300.

The celebration continues all that week with the following events:

August 11– Monday- Columbus Neighborhood Health, Center Tour

August 12– Tuesday- Westside Health Center, Free Car Seat Installation and Health Fair

August 13– Wednesday- East Central Health Center, National Homeless Awareness Day

August 14– Thursday-Northeast Health Center, Patient Appreciation Day

August 15– Friday- All Health Center sites, National Health Center week

August 16– Saturday- John Maloney Health & Wellness Center: Healthy BBQ Community Celebration 12p-4p

 

 

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