Blog

What’s been on our mind…

Transgender, Post Mormon and Surviving the Holidays.

 

If you’re not bingeing the Hallmark movies, skipping right past the turkey with cheer but contemplating how you’re going to even make it to the appetizer platters let alone to the pumpkin pies and dreidel YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

 

Holidays can put an exclamation mark on dysfunction and dread.

 

If you’re worried that you’re identity and your authentic self won’t be respected you’re not alone.

 

This is definitely REAL for many of the client’s I see with all of the LGBTQIA+ and Post Mormon identities.

 

A lot of people worry that their basic NAME and Gender pronouns won’t be respected.

 

They worry they’ll be talked badly about even to their children because some of their beliefs have changed.

 

A thousand things could go wrong.

 

But here’s some things you can do to protect yourself:

 

  • Set Boundaries. I know, I know, we therapists love those. BUT it’s true. You don’t have to respond to a name you don’t identify with. You don’t HAVE to stay for 5 hours because that’s when dessert is served. You don’t have to allow someone to lecture you for 5 hours about why what you’re dong is wrong. You just also can’t stab them with the dessert server- cool- we got that. Boundaries go both ways.

 

  • Choose what feels best. Have you been invited to both your family Thanksgiving AND your friend’s or church’s or the Queersgiving at the local community center and you’re torn? Do what FEELS best. No guilt, no shame.

 

  • Take time to take care. Like take care of yourself. Yes, holidays can ( be about family and loved ones but if you’re so stressed from running around all day long. Make sure you have time to actually enjoy a minute or two.

 

  • Reach Out. If you’re feeling sad and lonely reach out. Maybe this time of year is a reminder of the distance between you and your family and that can be hard. Reach out to friends and family, join another holiday meal, go to the community events, reach out to the support hotlines, call your therapist (ahem) for that check in.

 

  • It can be just another day. The holiday hype does not have to affect you if you don’t want it to. Choose to go hiking when everyone is stuffed full of turkey on the couch- heck a trail to yourself and your fur buddy sounds great anyway.

 

  • Bottom line: Holidays can be hard just as much as they can be good. We know this, let’s prepare for this and make a plan.

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Sunday September 2, 2018

First of all, lets talk about they WHY of the LGBTQIA+ mental health concerns. Am I suggesting the research is saying this community is weak with no resiliency? OF COURSE NOT!

What the research is saying is that the community faces SO. MANY. CHALLENGES. First of all, to say stigma and prejudice barely scratches the surface of what folx face when they daily hide their sexual orientation and gender fearing ridicule and rejection. The community also faces the stress of having their basic human rights denied as well as the ever-constant risk of violence and abuse. Any person under this constant stress would UNDERSTANDABLY have the same poor mental health outcomes.

Also, our society in general doesn’t do a great job in talking about mental health concerns and diagnoses. Add that on top of people who are already used to hiding their true feelings combines with a society who casually agrees to not talk about our mental health and hide those selves away and we now have stigma stacked on stigma. Even worse yet, many people in the LGBTQIA+ community report having negative experiences with providers, even mental health providers who claim to specialize in working with this community. Now that just spells disaster, right?

SO what do we do about it?

Talking about the issues is one of the most important steps. Talking about what are happening and the injustices helps gives voice to the conversation but also helps those suffering. Some people fear that if they’re loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts talking about it will make it worse but that’s just not the case. You will not give them suicidal thoughts but probably much needed relief! *A note here: please talk with your friends and loved ones but in cases like suicide and substance use professional help IS recommended. * Talking helps to reduce shame and loneliness and increase happiness and a sense of community. Now those are some reasons to get chatty.

So we talk! Next, utilize the ever-important coping skills. Are these going to solve all of the problems? No, but they are going to keep us all afloat while we’re dealing with all the stress and the hard stuff. So if your jam is snuggling your adorable dogs on the couch or getting in a quick meditation session to get some relief (okay, those are my jams) – whatever works for you, do something, anything to take care of yourself.

Utilizing community is an important part. There are some good community supports out there. Doing a quick google search can bring up some in person and online support groups. Having friends and support are resiliency factors to many of the mental health factors.

Finally, get some good mental health help. Don’t settle for someone who claims to be proficient in working with the LGBTQIA community yet is not up to date or is subtly making hetero and cis normative comments. YOU DESERVE BETTER. Therapy with a competent, knowledgeable provider and help reduce all the mental health concerns and improve resiliency so you can thrive.

Monday June 6, 2018

See a recent article I wrote, “Helping Trans People Address a Sense of Foreshortened Future ” that was published by GoodTherapy.org just in time for Pride month.

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/helping-trans-people-address-sense-of-foreshortened-future-0607185

Person with backpack and dark hair stands downtown looking up at skyscrapers

 

 

 

 

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Sunday February 25, 2018

Episode 4: Jesse Jukke

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Wednesday January 10, 2018

5 Ways to promote personal growth.

We may think of traveling the world, seeing different cultures, learning new languages and all sorts of fancy ways of developing into enlightened people. It doesn’t have to be that difficult. Here are some simple ways you can start promoting personal growth and increasing your happiness from the comfort of your own home and, for free, today.

  1. Think of three good things and write them down. This could be three good things that happen to you each day or three things that you’re grateful for each day but this helps to expand your personal sense of gratitude.
  2. Read. This connects you with other people, places, ideas, and insights. Think of all that you could learn and think about. Reading stimulates your brain and deepens the connections made within it.
  3. Develop a hobby. You’ll probably stretch as a person as you learn new things about your hobby and deepen your passion for it. This will also probably make you a more interesting person.
  4. Get in nature. Something about nature rejuvenates the brain and is actually one of the better ways to combat depression. Being in nature is a great way to settle your system, get in touch with yourself, and allow yourself to learn from the natural world.
  5. Write. Blog, journal, write in a diary, write a book that may or may not ever be published, poems or do a stream of consciousness. Writing is a great outlet to get thoughts and emotions out. You can learn a lot by reflecting on what you’ve written.

Sunday January 7, 2018

New Year, New Episode! I am so excited to share this one!

FTM Traveler

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Sunday December 3, 2017

Are you in the LGBTQIA+ community and willing to share your story? Email us!

Episode 2: Stealth Mode

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Sunday November 26, 2017

The first podcast episode is up and I could not be more excited! Oliver shares his incredibly personal and amazing story in this episode. Check it out here:

Episode 1: Oliver

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Thursday November 23, 2017

Click the link below to listen in.

Thriving Life Podcast Is Coming

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Tuesday November 7, 2017

 

 

 An SVU Binge Pronoun Catastrophe

Ever get caught in a marathon of Law and Order SVU? I admit, I fell victim this weekend. When I started into my third straight hour of television, my eyelids grew heavy and I started to doze off. When the episode “Silence” (season 3, year 2002), started playing, I was immediately jarred out of my sleepy state. The agents repeatedly referred to a transgender sex worker, who had been brutally murdered, as a “tranny”. Horrifyingly, but not surprisingly for the early 2000s, they continued to use incorrect pronouns throughout the rest of the episode. It brought me back to reality and got me thinking.

How far have we come (or not come) since then? How many people understand the use of appropriate pronouns? How many have even tried to use gender neutral pronouns? Words and a concerted effort really do mean a lot. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to be continually misgendered, disrespected, and left feeling unseen and unheard? Now imagine the people misgendering you or using a birth name after communicating a preferred name, are your closest friends and family. To feel as though the people closest to you (mothers, fathers, siblings, significant others, etc.) are not validating your gender identification or expression (in any form), can be cataclysmic to a person’s self-esteem and self-worth.

In some ways it feels like we’ve come a long way since 2002. In other ways, it feels like we’ve barely taken one toe nudge in the right direction because the death tolls of transgender individuals are still tragically high (and growing) each year.

So what can we do? We show up. We have the hard conversations. We respectfully correct people if they’ve used the incorrect pronouns. We educate people on the importance of language and the use of pronouns. We, as allies, tell the people around the dinner table that it’s not funny, it’s not harmless, it’s serious, and it’s real. We must also pass the mic, and give transgender, non-binary, or any other person who identifies as queer no matter the subset of the community, the opportunity to speak for themselves and have their voice heard. We move the conversation forward and we demand progress.

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Monday October 23, 2017

Equality.

How does your city rank on equality? That’s what the Human Rights Campaign utilizing the Municipal Equality index examined by looking at laws and policies affecting the LGBTQ+ community. Would you be surprised to hear that Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson got top scores while Gilbert, Avondale, and Peoria earned the lowest scores in Arizona. It’s true. Phoenix Tempe and Tucson all scored 100 out of 100! Way to go! However, Gilbert scored a low 19 out of 100, Avondale only 15 out of 100, and Glendale slightly better with 55 out of 100. These scores reflect the truth that there is much room for improvement and necessary growth. Check out your place of residence along with other cities thorughought the US here: http://www.hrc.org/resources/mei-2017-see-your-citys-score .

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Tuesday September 26, 2017

Why you don’t want to use insurance to cover therapy if you value privacy.

Privacy.

While all therapists are mandated to be HIPPA compliant, there is a possibility of losing a significant amount of your confidentiality with the utilization of insurance. Not only will a therapist send the insurance company a bill, but that bill is required to have an official diagnosis on it. So, your insurance company sees your diagnosis, no big deal, right? Well, we’ll rethink that in a minute. The bill sent to your insurance company by your therapist contains not only the amount due for the diagnosis you’ve been given, but also information about the type of treatment you are receiving, the frequency fo the treatment, and your progress to assess how quickly they can reduce payment for services. Sounds fun, right? Typically, insurance claims are not just seen by one person but handled by multiple people as they go through the processing system. How do you feel about not just your therapist and one insurance representative seeing all your private information but up to 14 random people at the insurance company viewing some of your most private and confidential materials? Finally, the insurance company can audit your records. Wait just a minute, they don’t just see the bill with the diagnosis, rendered services, and progress? That’s right, they can potentially gain full access to your information including progress notes which contain personal information regarding each therapy session.

Pre-existing condition.

Wait, that’s a mental health thing too? Absolutely. Once your bill is filed with your health insurance it goes into your permanent medical record. This can have significant impact on both your future insurance coverage and rates.

Jobs.

Many jobs require health checks. If your insurance has a mental health treatment or diagnosis claim listed this may disqualify you from a job with the military, a federal government, an aviation position, and others.

So, what’s different about seeing someone using private pay instead of insurance? There is no middle man. All your information stays within my HIPPA compliant database. You get the security of knowing your sensitive and private information is only seen by the person you shared it with. You take out the risk to your health insurance, jobs, and privacy.

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 Thursday September 21, 2017

The Hurricane and the Texans that Changed Me

I sat, probably like many of you, watching coverage of Hurricane Harvey and the tragic aftermath. Images of flood waters, displaced people seeking refuge, scared and abandoned animals were broadcasted 24 hours a day. I felt helpless. The hurricane had come with a destructive fury and demolished homes and lives in Texas. Sitting in Arizona, I wasn’t sure what I could do to help until I received an email from the calling for all Mental Health Workers to help with the Harvey Disaster Relief Operation. I felt drawn to go and applied immediately.

Feeling unprepared, I packed up my flashlight, head lamp, blanket, pillow, towel, clothes and flew to a state I’d never been to. I was anxious, but I knew I made the right decision. My experience in Texas was challenging. Originally, I assumed that the biggest barriers would be related to the flood waters, power outages, and wreckage. Upon arrival, I soon realized that the natural disaster wasn’t our only foe. I experienced difficulties that were related to both mother nature and human nature. There were politics. Politics raged not only within my volunteer organization, but in the various agencies who were also there to help. These politics created a lot of conflict and frustration. There were personal differences between workers. There were fights and disagreements between the volunteers and the survivors. There was deep human pain, suffering, fear and anger. Humans crave stability and often want a sense of control. The harsh reality of being housed in an ice cold underground parking garage, lit only with florescent lights and manned by military personnel doesn’t typically lend itself to the feelings of stability and autonomy.

Yet, through the trauma, close encounters with drowning, losing homes, losing loved ones, fear, anger, and devastation; there was beauty. Children ran, played, and laughed in the cold cement square. People sang beautiful songs of hope as curfew set in and the lights turned off. Families came together to cuddle on cold green cots under thin blankets. Strangers displaced from their homes and towns became friends with other strangers displaced from their own homes and towns. Babies were rocked, fed, and loved by parents and strangers. People from around the nation flocked to Texas to help those in need. Volunteers and residents shared meals together. Staff shared snacks and laughs with other staff. National and Texas Guard members left their lives at home and came to provide service with respect and kindness.It wasn’t perfect.

There were hard times. Trauma, sadness, loss, grief, fear, anxiety, anger, substance use, theft, and illness were rampant. Still, I walked away with my heart full knowing that humans came together to help other humans. I experienced and witnessed human resiliency after a tragedy first hand. I met some of the most kind, wise, and wonderful people that I’ll admire, respect, and remember for the rest of my life. The immediate emergency response to Hurricane Harvey has calmed but the recovery will continue for years. I’m encouraged and have renewed hope from seeing the outpouring of love and generosity. I’m walking away with a deeper sense of gratitude, respect, love, and compassion. My hope is that I, and we, can continue to exemplify the best parts of our humanity we have rebuilt from Harvey and Irma, and continue to thrive as we continue to connect in our humanness.

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Friday September 1st, 2017

How to make the most of your weekend

Many of us look forward to those precious weekend hours and treasure this Labor Day weekend that gives us the extra day of freedom. But, many of us also get the Sunday blues or feel like there’s not enough time still. Here’s some tips to get the most out of your weekend.

-Make Plans. Give yourself something to look forward to and enjoy.

– Do chores during the week. It can be hard to do the housework during the week but imagine how great it would feel to have a weekend free from those chores!

-Disconnect. Spend some time off of technology, away from phones, computers, and TV. Practice being present where you are and enjoying the weekend feels.

-Have down time. Give yourself a little space to actually relax. You may even need to plan and schedule in some free time to make sure you get it.

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Labor  Day Weekend!

 

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Wednesday August 30th, 2017

4 ways to reduce your stress

     

Have you been feeling stressed, overwhelmed, worn out, maybe even a little cranky or hangry as a result? Maybe you’re stressed about natural disasters. It could be politcs has been on your mind lately. Perhaps it’s work, money, or relational stress. We all experience that unpleasant feeling of stress for one reason or another. But what, in this chaotic world, can you do about it? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a few tips to help reduce your stress.

  1. Breathe. Wait, that’s it? Yes! Take a deep breath in while counting to four. Hold it for four counts. Let the breath out while counting to four. Repeat as needed and desired. This simple action helps turn on your parasympathetic nervous system which tells your body to calm down and relax!
  2. Check out what your body is doing. Feeling tight in your shoulders? Clenching your teeth? Run a quick mental scan of your body from head to toe noticing the areas that are constricted or tense. Practice clenching/squeezing these areas and releasing them. This can help release some of the tension your body has been holding on to.
  3. Meditate. this can be a scary word for some but it doesn’t have to be a formal practice. Sit in a quiet place and contemplate a picture that inspires you. Lay down with a warm wash cloth covering your eyes and try to focus on breathing in. Repeat to yourself “I feel peace”. Whatever method works best for you, meditation helps build pathways in your brain that make you more resilient to stress!
  4. Move a little. I’m not saying go trudge through an hour on a treadmill but, if that’s your thing, go for it! Otherwise, try turning on your favorite song and have a 3 minute dance break. Not in the mood for that? Try some light stretching or a few quick yoga poses. Any movement that gets your body grooving and your blood flowing is helpful.

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Monday August 28th, 2017

Hurricane Harvey has hit Houston hard. Many people feel sad and helpless in the face of disasters like the one Houston has been experiencing and the rest of the country has been watching on the news. People often feel overwhelmed and feel their heart strings being tugged on but don’t know what to do about their own feelings of helplessness or the suffering of others. Here’s a few ideas:

-Practice self care

-Connect with loved ones

-Access higher powers if you believe in them

-Act with compassion for others if you’re able including donations of time, money, blood, diapers, pet food, and more

See this article for a fruther list of ways to help: http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/ways-can-help-people-hurricane-harvey/

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Friday August 25th, 2017

Making it to Friday, something to smile about!