Treatment is available.....Recovery is Possible

Treatment is available.....Recovery is Possible

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Welcome to my blog!  This blog is about mental health issues, relationship issues, and other topics related to my practice.  Thank you for taking the time to read my posts! 

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School Anxiety

Posted on August 1, 2018 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

School Anxiety

With a new school year comes excitement, anticipation, and a sense of a fresh start. It’s the beginning of new classes, new teachers, new friendships, and sometimes even a new school campus. All of this newness can be something fun and exciting to look forward to.

For some kids, however, the beginning of school can bring on anxiety and nervousness. Not knowing what their new classes will be like, who will be in them, and who their teachers are can bring about stress and anxiety. Anxious feelings are normal and expected during times of transition or change, especially for first-timers, such as those starting kindergarten, middle school, high school, and even college. The transition can also be stressful and disruptive for the entire family.

Some common worries include:

Who will be my new teacher?

Will I have friends in my classes?

Who will I sit with at lunch?

Will I fit it?

Will I look stupid?

What if I miss the bus?


Although it is normal for your child to have worries, it is crucial to make your child attend school. Avoidance of school will only increase and reinforce your child’s fear, making it more and more difficult to attend. Besides getting behind in the schoolwork (which can create anxiety itself), children who stay home because of anxiety miss opportunities to practice social skills, developing and fostering close friendships, and being acknowledged and praised for their talents.


Below are some general strategies parents can use to deal with back-to-school worries:

Look after the basics – hunger and tiredness

Nobody copes well when they’re hungry or tired. Provide your child with adequate meals and snacks on a regular schedule. Determine an appropriate bedtime for your child based on their age and enforce it. These routines can actually help decrease your child’s anxiety.

Encourage your child to talk about their fears

Ask your child what they are worried about specifically. Set up a regular time to talk with your child when you are able to provide your undivided attention. Listen to them without judging or minimizing their concerns. Reassure them, but also help them develop a plan to cope with what they are afraid of.

Focus on the positive

Encourage your child to re-direct their attention from their worries and towards things that are positive. Ask your child what they are excited about on the first day of school.. most kids can come up with something, even if it’s going home at the end of the day. Chances are, they realize their will be fun times, but they may be overshadowed by the repetitive worries.

Pay attention to your own behavior

It can be anxiety-provoking for parents to turn their child over to their teachers. Children pick up on their parents anxiety, so the more confident you appear, the more confident your child will become. Be supportive, yet firm. When saying goodbye, say it cheerfully and only once. Don’t make good-bye a long, drawn out process. Quick and easy with confidence is always best. Lastly, be sure not to reward your child’s protests by letting them stay home. Instead, say, “I can see why going back to school makes you feel nervous and scared, but you still have to go. Tell me what you’re worried about… we can talk about it”.

Chances are, a little role-playing or problem-solving is all that it will take to make them feel better.

Binge Eating Disorder

Posted on March 28, 2018 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Binge Eating Disorder is a real disorder.  It is the most common eating disorder in the United States and can be severe or life threatening.. but it is also treatable.

Binge Eating Disorder is defined as repeated episodes of eating large amounts of food, usually in a short period of time, to the point of discomfort.  There is a feeling of loss of control during the binge oftentimes resulting in feelings of shame, distress, and guilt afterwards.  The binge episode occurs without the regular use of unhealthy measures such as purging or laxative use. 

A binge episode is associated with eating more rapidly than normal, eating till uncomfortably full, eating large amounts of food when not hungry, eating alone due to embarrassment, disgust with self, and feeling depressed or guilty afterwards. The duration is at least once a week for 3 months.  Clinical obesity, weight stigma, and weight cycling are often associated with binge eating disorder. 

Binge eating disorder is a serious problem for a lot of people and should be taken seriously. These are the 10 most common signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder:

1.Lack of control over food consumption.

2.Eating quickly.

3.It is not bulimia - the self-induced purging part does not exist.

4.Overflow of emotions - such as guilt, sadness,disgust, similar to addiction, self-loathing, depression.

5.Binge-eating alone - alienation from loved ones, friends, and family due to the shame and embarrassment over their lack of control.

6.Normal eating to outsiders.

7.Hiding food - in order to keep the binging a secret.

8.No set meal time - binging in private may not coincide with set meal times.

9.Obesity - those who suffer from binge eating disorder never seem full and are not satisfied, despite the amounts of food they may binge on. This may cause obesity which can bring on a slew of health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other medical problems.

10.Mental Health - Binge eating disorder has a strong mental health component linked to stress, anxiety, and depression. Sufferers may have issues with control, struggle with loneliness, poor self esteem, and body image issues.  The deeper they fall into these problems, the more the binge eating progresses, turning into an unhealthy cycle that affects them both physically and mentally. 

Eating is important to all of us. However, like anything there is a fine line of balance required to be beneficial.  Anything in extreme, be it too little or too much, is walking into dangerous territory.  When an eating disorder becomes the result, it is time to speak to a professional.

Pathways to Peace can help with the suffering related to binge eating disorder... For more information, contact Maria Nemec, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Eating Disorders Therapist, and Owner of Pathways to Peace, located in Lake Mary, Florida. 

Understanding Emotional Abuse

Posted on January 30, 2018 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (1)

ARE YOU WORRIED THAT YOU MAY BE EXPERIENCING EMOTIONAL ABUSE??

Emotional abuse is a horrific experience. By definition, it is "any act which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, or self worth of another human being". It is also known as psychological abuse, verbal abuse, or verbal aggression.People who experience emotional abuse oten experience low self-esteem, personality changes, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations. I have worked with women over the years who have been emotionally abused in their marriages and relationships. I have also seen many women gather up the strength and courage that it often takes to get out of these relationships. Sadly, I have seen many women who stay far too long and suffer lifelong consequences.I founded Pathways to Peace because I have a heavy heart for these women and I understand and can relate to their need for peace. It is my mission to help identify emotional abuse and to help women get the support they need to walk away, to become whole again, and to heal from the scars inflicted by this kind of toruture. Emotional abuse takes away a woman's sense of self, identity,and purpose. It is a dark place to be...especally when someone claims they love you. It is sheer torture to live under the same roof as someone who is emotionally abusing you.I have listed here some common signs of emotional abuse:

Yelling or cussing at you

Name calling

Mocking

Ignoring

Humiliating

Threats of abandonment

Intentionally frightening you

Threats to take away food or care

Lying 

Repeated false allegations of cheating, without merit

Isolating you from friends and family

Withholding money or informaiton

Repeatedly speaking about death, either yours or the abuser's

Excessive criticism

Disrespectful behavior

Treating you like a servant or a child

Just like physical abuse, emotional abuse tends to manifest itself as a repeated cycle including the abuse itself, guilt about the consequences, excuse-making, resuming normal behaviors as if the abuse never happened,shifting the blame to the victim, becomng extra apologetic, and then repeating the abuse all over again.If you have questions or comments abou this topic, feel free leave your comments below. I welcome people to share their stories or personal insights. If you wish to be contacted, please feel free to complete the "contact us" page on this website.

Eating Disorders Warning Signs

Posted on January 16, 2018 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental disorders which is why early detection and intervention is key to helping people recover and live normal lives.  Here are a few warning signs that someone you care about may have an eating disorder:

1.) They tell you they're struggling with food.  It is assumed that someone who has an eating disorder must be really thin and / or female. This couldn't be further from the truth.  Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes, gender, race, and ethnicities. If someone opens up with you that they are struggling with eating, take it seriously and encourage them to seek help.

2.) They seem to have a rigid eating or exercise program. Eating healthy is one thing, but a pattern of rigidity around only eating "safe" foods (i.e., low calorie or low fat) or meticuously monitoring their caloric intake could be a red flag. They may also deny  being hungry in spite of food consumption or become emotionally distressed if forced to stray from their eating plan.  Sometimes there are also abnormal rituals involving food which would also be a red flag. 

3.) You've noticed they are socially isolating or avoiding social situations, especially ones that involve food.  They may avoid people in order to work out or time their appearance at a social gathering to avoid food exposure.  They may attempt to hide their eating by eating in secret. You may find food wrappers or notice them wearing extra layers of clothes to cover up any weight loss.

4.) You notice that someone appears to be "obsessed" with their weight and size. Conversations seem to center around dieting, losing X number of pounds, or how "bad" they were and now have to make up for it. Distress about body shape or size may also be an indication that someone could be suffering with an eating disorder. 

5.) You notice that someone makes frequent trips to the bathroom after eating.  This could be a sign that someone is struggling with an eating disorder, possibly bulimia.  Bulimia is an eating disorder that typically involves eating an extremely large amount of food in a short period of time, followed by an atempt to get rid of the calories either by vomiting, exercsing, or laxative use.  Some people will also eat what's considered a normal amount of food, but will attempt to get rid of it afterwards.  Regardless of the amount of food consumed, a pattern of regular bathroom visits following eating could indicate that a person is suffering with an eating disorder.

Sometimes it takes a family member or close friend to recognize an eating disorder and put it into words that something is wrong for someone to acknowledge there's a problem.  Support from family and friends is crucial throughout the reovery process. Show love and concern by demonstrating compassion and acceptance, while at the same time encouraging them to seek help from trained professionals.  It often takes a team of specialists to work with these disorders successfully.

If somone you care about seems to be struggling with an eating disorder or body image issue, speak up! It could save the person from years of struggling. Early detection and intervention can greatly improve the chances of a full recovery. 

Listed below are links to various organizations who support the education, prevention, and treatment of eating disorders.  Pathways to Peace is also committed to helping individuals and families through this journey... 

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org//

http://www.iaedp.com/

http://www.anad.org/

https://bedaonline.com/

http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org/

http://namedinc.org/

https://www.edreferral.com/



Helping kids make it through challenging times

Posted on December 13, 2017 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (0)

One of the joys of my psychoherapy practice is working with teens and families.  Becoming a parent myself has by far been the most rewarding and joyous experience of my life. Becoming a mother actually changed me not only as a person but as a therapist. My ablity to empathasize has increased tremendously as well as my level of insight and understanding.  Becoming a mother transforms you into a new person. 

As parents, seeing our children struggle with anything in life is agonizing.  When we experience the beauty and joy of becoming a parent, this is not something we imagine.  Yet today, teens are faced with so many challenges academically, socially, and athletically. Sometimes it's too much for an adolescent to handle by themseles and the assistance of a professiounal counselor is needed. 

Making that frst call to a therapist about your child is often difficult, sometimes painful, having to face the fact that your child is struggling with something that you as a parent can't fix for them.  Whether it be an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, or some other mental health issue, no parent is happy that their childs needs counseling. To those parents I can say I truly understand.  Let's face it, when our children hurt, we hurt.  We have an inborn desire to fix their problems.  Mental health issues, however, sometimes can't just simply be fixed.  Sometimes as parents the best thing we can do is seek help outside of our families...someone who doesn't know the family personally and can be objective. 

Generally speaking, therapy sessions are confidential.  Some adolescent therapists focus solely on the teen, leaving the parents in the dark.  This is not how I work with kids.  I am ALWAYS  thinking about the family even when I am only working with an individual child. Parents can play a big part in their child's recovery process.  With an eating disorder, this can be in the form of hands on support at mealtimes and shortly thereafter.  With depressed kids, this can be in the form of listening and helping to keep the child safe. With anxiety issues, this can be in the form of making environmental changes to help reduce the stress.  In addition, parents know their chld better than anyone. I welcome feedback from parents about how the child is doing both at home and in school.  This information is crucial in helping me to do my job.

Regardless of the problem that brings an adolescent into therapy, I believe in working as a team.  The team includes parents, sometimes siblings or extended family members, school counselors, physicians, or coaches. Together, we can provide a pathway towards healing. Together we can make a difference in a chld's life.  There is no greater gift for a parent than to watch their child succeed  or overcome a challenge.  We can do this together...

Sports and Weight Issues

Posted on December 3, 2017 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

My son recently ended his first season of football.  I was attending the end of the season party when I overheard a parent speaking about how her son "fasted" each week in order to make weight.  As an eating disorders therapist, the idea of weekly weigh-ins before games didn't sit well with me. However, I do understand the reasoning behind the weigh ins.  Naturally, you would not want your 95 pound 12 year old getting hit by a 150 pound kid, even if he is the same age.  It's about player safety and I get that. 

With that being said, however, there is tendency for the kids to worry, or should I say, become concerned, about the weigh ins due to the fact that if a kid goes over the weight limit, he will be bumped up to the next weight class.  What this actually means, though, is that the kid will have to leave the team he has gotten used to, his friends, his coaches, his position, and even his shirt number which has become a part of his identify.  The kid now has to deal with loss... Loss of his buddies, lossof his coaches, loss of his position, and loss of a part of his identify.  Thus, the weigh in can become a source of stress. 

Football is not the only sport where weight can be an issue.  Wrestling, dancing, gymnastics,  just to name a few, are sports where there are either weigh-ins or some type of focus on one's weight.  Unfortunately, the unspoken message that kids hear is  "don't gain too much weight, or there will be consequences".  

I have been thinking about the issue of sports and weight since my son's season began several months ago.  I've wondered, and quite frankly, worried somewhat about the effects of this "weighing in" issue on not only my son's, but other kids' mental and emotional health. As an eating disorders therapist for over 20 years now, I have seen many adolescent girls who were once talented, healthy, athletes become entangled in the throws of anorexia, simply because someone gave them the message that they were not good enough at their natural body weight.  

So how do we as parents help our kids who aspire to play these sports?  Can we prevent them from developing eating disorders or some other body-related insecurity? I believe we can.  

We can help our kids understand first of all the reaoning behind the weigh ins, for example, safety on the field.  That of course is first and foremost.  Secondly, we can help them not obsess about the weigh in by not making it a big issue ourselves. We can educate them about healthy eating as well as nutritional requirements for athletes.  We can also educate them about the fact that everyone's body is diferent and that's ok.  We can be good role models ourselves by eating healthy and not focusing on our own weight. And lastly, we teach them coping skills... coping skills to deal with loss and disappointment because life is full of them and somewhere along the way, our children will experience loss and disappointment. Sooner or later, they will be forced to deal with that very issue. As parents, we are capable of teaching our kids positive coping mechanisms and give  them a level of confidence and understanding that will help them grow into healthy adults.  That's what parenting is about and with that, perhaps we can avoid any unnecessary negative focus on weight. 


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