Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Own Happiness Project

I am currently immersed in Gretchen Rubin’s memoir, The Happiness Project, an account of the year she spent figuring out how to be happier. Putting theory into practice, I have recently begun my own ‘pursuit of happiness,’ incorporating Rubin’s thoughtful insights into my daily life, and slowly creating my own happiness project. One of the fundamental themes I have absorbed from this stimulating reading is that happiness is a choice. Accordingly, one of Rubin’s ‘happiness commandments’ is: Act the way I want to feel. Although we think that we act because of the way we feel, in fact, we often feel because of the way we act. I found comfort and take great stock in the following, realizing that I do, in fact, have control in my own happiness. Rubin suggests what she refers to as ‘fake it till you feel it.’ Essentially, feelings follow actions. If you’re feeling low, you deliberately act cheery, and you will likely find yourself actually feeling happier. Even harder, if you’re feeling angry with someone, do something thoughtful for him/her and your feelings toward him/her will likely soften, referred to in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) as ‘opposite to emotion action.’ This strategy is uncannily effective! Thanks to this great read, I have been reminding myself on a daily basis that striving for happiness is a choice within my control, and one that I not only value but am committed to. Overall, I have highly enjoyed Rubin’s memoir thus far, as I have found it subtly impacting my own daily life! Good luck to others as they embark in their own happiness projects!

Jaclyn Jarvis, MA

Jaclyn Jarvis is a third year doctoral student at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She is an intern therapist at The Awakening Center. She specializes in eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and health psychology. Jaclyn co-leads the Dialetical Behavior Therapy (DBT) group on Monday evenings from 6:30-8:00 p.m. and leads the ‘Filling Your Toolbox’ therapy group on Wednesday evenings from 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Role of the RD in Eating Disorder Treatment

The Registered Dietitian (RD) is often part of a multidisciplinary eating disorder treatment team, including doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists. Clients sometimes have the misconception that the only thing an RD will provide during treatment is a meal plan. However, the role of an RD in the treatment of eating disorders involves addressing much more. This role also includes discussing eating behaviors and beliefs in the context of the eating disorder. This is why working with an RD in addition to a therapist or doctor is so important.

Are you thinking about seeing an RD for disordered eating or eating disorder behaviors? Here are a few topics you can expect an RD to address throughout the counseling process:

Adequacy: Is the amount of energy taken in during the day adequate to support daily activities - from taking a shower to visiting the gym?

Balance: Does intake include every food group in a sufficient amount?

Variety: Does intake cover every food in way that vitamin and mineral needs are being met?

Autonomy: Is intake based on personal preferences or the expectations of others?

Confidence: Is intake based on internal cues or a fixed schedule? Is there ever regret surrounding food choices made? Are daily activities chosen based on what type of food will be available?

Legalization: Are there foods that are believed to be "bad" or "good"? What would it take to decriminalize foods so they are no longer in these categories, but instead seen as "supportive to my recovery" or "fueling/energizing for my body"?

Affect: Are beliefs about food and nutrition affecting physical and mental health or medication needs?

Rules: What misconceptions, harmful rules, or harmful beliefs exist about food and eating?

Sensory: How well does the client experience the sensory side of eating - the tastes, smells, and sounds?

Support: What activities can be provided to assist with the recovery process, such as cooking classes, therapeutic meal classes, or grocery shopping trips?

As you can see, the RD does much more than serve as the "food police". The RD's role in treating eating disorders and disordered eating cannot by filled by any other discipline, as the RD is truly the expert. If you or someone you know is struggling, encourage them to have the courage to find help.

Katie (Murtha) Davis MS, RD, CSSD, LDN
Owner, RDKate Sports Nutrition Consulting
Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Depression Lies to You - Part 3

How Depression Lies to You – Part 3

I absolutely love my job! For 26 years as a counselor, I have been blessed with the honor of working with thousands of people who I found incredibly delightful – friendly, warm, sensitive, funny, smart, creative! I look forward to spending time with these amazing women and men.

But that is not how they see themselves. Oh no! They have been deceived by another of Depression’s lies: “There is something wrong with me; I’m just not lovable.”

Listen to Kendra in a therapy session after a friend’s wedding:

“I’m so depressed. I had a good time at the wedding, but as the evening wore on, I felt more and more alone. I just know I’ll never get what my friend has; I’ll never be loved like she is. There’s something wrong with me deep inside; I’m just not loveable. I’ve felt it all my life. Even as a child I felt I was a big disappointment to my parents.”

(If you read my other two blogs in this series – the links are below – I’m sure you can spot the first lie – give yourself a quarter for every absolute that is not absolutely true! You can also hear the second lie, “You’ll never feel any better.”)

There’s actually two parts to this lie. The first part is “Everything that anyone has ever taught me about who I am is correct.” The second part is “You have to be perfect to be loved/loveable.” I will cover the second part in my next blog in this series.

Depression repeats a lot of nasty messages that you have picked up over the years. If as a child you repeatedly heard “There’s nothing to be afraid of. Don’t be such a scaredy-cat. You’re just being a cry-baby.” then you will incorporate these messages into what I call your ‘Core Belief System.’

Your Core Beliefs are internalized messages from your family, friends, teachers, coaches, culture, and society, which over time eventually become your definition of who you think you are, “I’m a cry baby. I’m a scaredy-cat.”

You might wonder why this is a lie – it seems like the truth, but it isn’t. Labeling someone ‘a cry-baby’ or ‘a scaredy-cat’ is just an opinion – it is not a fact. If you don’t believe me feel the effect of this message instead, “I know you are scared, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. Take a deep breath and see if that helps you stop crying.”

The trouble is you can teach a child to believe anything. I tell my clients that’s how racists are made – babies are not born hating someone based on their appearance. If you repeatedly tell a child “All Slobbovians are dirty people” then the child will come to believe it – whether it is the truth or not.

So if you repeatedly heard as a child “No one loves a fat girl” you will believe it – whether it is true or not. I hope you can find the absolutes in that sentence, “No one! Not one! In the whole world there is not one person who would love a fat girl?!” (Give yourself another quarter.)

Your Core Beliefs may be so deep that you don’t actually “hear” them – you just feel them. And because you’ve felt them for so long, you are not actually aware of them – you just believe them to be true. But just because you’ve believed them for a long long time, does not make them true. They are still just lies that Depression tells you!

Think about all the Core Beliefs that you believe about yourself. Have you ever really studied them? Where did they come from – or more accurately, who did they come from?

Many of my clients were told they were drama queens, too loud, too flamboyant – the exact qualities that I find so delightful! I often ask them, “Who says you’re too flamboyant? What is it about that person that would make them not like flamboyance?”

So now that you’ve uncovered your Core Beliefs what do you do about them? Well just recognizing that you believe certain things about yourself is the first step. The second step is recognizing when you are repeating the belief to yourself. The next step is to question the validity of the belief – is it someone’s long ago opinion or is it a fact – a true fact, and not just another Lie from that lying liar Depression.

Get in touch with your inner Rebel and ask, “Who says?! Who says I am too loud?” Tell yourself, “”Even if I am loud, are people who are loud loveable? Yes!”

I’ll go into the other half of this Lie in my next blog article.



Here’s the links to the first two articles in this series:

Amy Grabowski, MA, LCPC is the director of The Awakening Center which she founded in 1994.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Cleaning

I tackled my closets this weekend and began the process of a serious spring cleaning mission. I have been thinking about all the areas of the house that so quickly get disorganized, stuffed and just messy. So this was the weekend to get down to business. I began in the guest room by beginning to go through my spring clothes and packing away the winter clothes. Very quickly I realized how big this job was going to be and that this wasn’t really going to be a relaxing Saturday. I was amazed at how much stuff I was hanging onto that I hadn’t even used or frankly knew was there. So I know the rules about if you haven’t used it in a year get rid of it! But what was keeping me from letting go? Is there really the chance that all my clothes will be dirty someday and I just may need another t-shirt? Is there really the chance that clothes from ten years ago will be in style? How many towels does one home need? So regretfully I began the toss pile and once I got started it felt good! How nice to be able to close a closet without shoving in falling shoes. How nice to hope a guest doesn’t happen to look in that drawer. So on a very simple level I am loving the result of my hard work. Clean closets, more space, less clutter. The thing that’s funny is that I truly am a clean person. Everything to the eye looks shiny, picked up and clean. Just don’t open my closet or drawers! It got me thinking about the many areas of our lives that we allow to get stuffed, cluttered and just plain messy. What keeps us hanging onto what we don’t need? What gets in the way of living with more simplicity? What does it mean to not give enough attention to the hall closets and pantry shelves of our lives? Obviously the spring cleaning got me thinking a bit deeper than making room in my tiny Chicago closets. It made me think about how many times we get stuck in life in not giving certain areas of life and ourselves the attention we deserve and require. How often we are nagged by certain areas of our lives that are filled with chaos or clutter yet we shove the door shut and pretend the mess isn’t there. What a relief to take stock, sort through the disaster, make decisions and have nothing hiding or needing to be covered. It was such a joy to look at my closet this morning and have no mess in sight! I made a resolution to keep it this way and continue sorting. I still have more areas to conquer and maintain but that clean closet gives me motivation. So I hope this notion of spring cleaning inspires you to also roll up your sleeves and perhaps tackle whatever needs to be tidied up a bit. Likewise it may be a good reminder to check in with ourselves and think about what emotional clutter may be getting in the way of us living with more simplicity, freedom and peace of mind. What a nice treat to come back home to a place that invites us in and has nothing to hide.

Jennifer Schurman,

Jennifer Schurman MA, LCPC sees clients for individual therapy at The Awakening Center. She is a marriage and family therapist who also sees couples and families. She runs the Women's Eating Disorder Therapy Group on Monday evenings. For more information call, (773) 929-6262 x20.