"The paradox of trauma is that it has both the power to destroy and the power to transform and resurrect." - Peter A. Levine
Hello and Happy September...
Hello folks. I hope your summer is going well. July brought a blazing heatwave in So Cal, but hopefully temps are starting to level out to more tolerable levels now...In any case, thanks for following along with me on my blog. Here's the latest:
* I continue to see clients in my practice in San Dimas (and also in telemental health) for trauma-informed services ranging from recovery from toxic relationships to maternal mental health. I also see men! Men are often overlooked and are in need of support as well! I enjoy helping people move through challenging circumstances, and I consider it a true honor to bear witness to this transformation in my clients.
*I am Basic Trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), which involved a tremendous amount of training last year. AND, I am currently working on the next level, certification...I love using EMDR with my clients when appropriate, and I continue to see the benefit of this incredible modality that is based in brain science. Consultation and learning is ongoing, and I enjoy being a life-long student as a clinician. EMDR is an art and science -- there is a lot of evidence-based protocol, blended with clinical intuition...it's really cool! If you want to learn more about it or might be considering this trauma-informed modality for you or someone you love, feel free to contact me through my website here.
*I continue to write weekly blogs for Psych Central under my own blog The Savvy Shrink. As well, I am podcasting for MHNR Network under the same title, The Savvy Shrink.
*Other projects that are in process: more written work available to clinicians and clients alike coming up...and soon, some online courses which I am currently in the works of formulating. Stay tuned!!
Happy Summer, and thanks for following my work here!!! Namaste, Andrea
My new office address will be: 448 E Foothill Blvd., Suite 205 San Dimas, CA 91773 ...Effective 5/7/18....
I look forward to assisting you with your counseling needs at my new location very shortly!
Boy, it's been a while since I have blogged on my own blog -- I've been keeping busy writing for Psych Central, doing my podcast, and also, of course, seeing clients! It's been busy. In any case, I am going to share a link to my most recent article for Psych Central on Psychological Spring Cleaning...enjoy! Here it is. Happy Spring!
**Author's note: If you are not inclined to read about breasts, fibrocystic breasts, and those of this author, then you are forewarned to read no further. Selective self-disclosure was chosen by the author to help those in similar situations.**
This blog entry is dedicated to women everywhere, women who are battling breast cancer, both those who have won and lost the battle, and most especially for my colleague, Anise Ojeda Smith, who is battling fiercely as a metastatic breast cancer suvivor, or metavivor.
I wasn't expecting to start breast cancer screening in my 30s, but due to fibrocystic breasts, it was recommended by my physician to start mammography earlier than the generally recommended age 40. Fibrocystic breasts are normal. They are just really dense breasts with lots of tissue in them (ducts, lymph nodes, and lobes). And when a woman goes through pregnancy, childbirth, breast-feeding and then perimenopause, the breasts go through changes. 60% of women have fibrocystic breasts, and with that comes tissue changes as hormones, aging, and reproductive life events impact the density of the breast tissue (webmd.com, 2018). Women with fibrocystic breasts are not at greater risk of breast cancer, but they do have a higher rate of false positive mammograms and call-back mammograms.
Medical guidelines these days encourage women to begin mammography at age 40 ( komen.org, 2018). For those with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors, mammography can begin earlier. For women with fibrocystic (or dense) breasts, often times it is recommended to begin screenings before age 40 (mayoclinic.org, 2018).
So when I had my routine mammogram, I was not expecting to get a call-back on my voicemail. The strained voice on the message stated, "The doctor would like to get some additional pictures with a diagnostic mammogram. Please call our office right away to schedule that appointment..." My first thought was this is the third call-back mammogram I have had in the last two decades, and both times before, there was no malignancy. I am sure this is just a precaution, and because they are being thorough, if there is anything there, they will catch it before it gets any more problematic and then blast it into oblivion. I was pleased I could do some cognitive restructuring voodoo on myself, like I help my clients. Then distraction and a walk with the dog.
Then, my mind went into "what if "scenarios. And suddenly, I went from 0 to 10, sky-rocketing in anxiety. What if I was one of those small percentages of women whose cancer is not detected in a mammogram and it's more like inflammatory breast cancer that's already metastasized? What if I leave my children motherless before they are able to launch to independence? What if my husband is widowed unexpectedly and left to raise our sons alone? Suddenly, my brain catastrophized, and I was not doing well containing my anxiety.
Fast forward a week and a half later (and what seemed like a light-years time), I went in for my diagnostic mammogram, and by divine intervention, many warm wishes and prayers, I had a benign reading. There was just a folded tissue on the original mammogram that looked like "asymmetrical density" on one side. The diagnostic mammogram found nothing abnormal. The word "benign" was music to my ears.
So why do I write about something so personal? Because half of the people on this planet have breasts. It's not "just" a personal story about breasts. It's about self-care, managing anxiety, and supporting women who live with the unknowns of health outcomes on a daily basis.
I realize I am fortunate for many reasons. I am fortunate to have health care, and good health care where screenings are taken seriously even if a false positive happens. I know the doctors work very hard for preventative medicine in all possible scenarios. I also do not have a family history of aggressive breast cancer. I have a very strong support network of compassionate family and friends. And I do have internal resources to manage anxiety, even when it's through the roof. Above all, I am fortunate to be cancer free. I know not all are so lucky. And I know and love some of them.
Without a shadow of a doubt, this adverse experience was speaking with me to look at things differently, if only to remind me of what's important. Here's what I got:
1) Don't sweat the small stuff. How many times have I told this to clients and now to myself? Too many to count. And it's true. If you have your health, you have everything.
2) Continue to build and lean into your social support network, near and far. These individuals get it, will listen, pray for you, send you well wishes when you need it, and help you through life's ups and downs. When we have strong social supports, we are less likely to get long term depression or anxiety, and we are more likely to live longer.
3) Place your self-care as number one. Always. Good nutrition, good sleep, exercise (preferable in nature). Say no to things that don't serve you well and yes to experiences and people who are health-enhancing.
4) Be grateful for what is going well in your life. There is always something to be grateful for, and often we don't realize how very lucky we really are until the threat of losing what's importance smacks us in the face.
5) Connect with your spirituality. It could be prayer, meditation, a Higher Power, nature, whatever connects you with a divine source and meaning for being on the planet. Allow those who share your spirituality to embrace you in comfort.
6) Take care of your ta-tas. Get them screened as often as your doctor recommends (most are yearly after age 40).
7) For medical professionals: Consider a diagnostic mammogram yearly for women with fibrocystic breasts so that false positive mammograms don't send women into anxiety unnecessarily.
8) Manage anxiety. Life will always present unknowns. When faced with an exam result that is ambiguous, anxiety inevitably skyrockets. Practice cognitive restructuring, mindfulness meditation, distraction, deep breathing, massage, aromatherapy, positive social supports, yoga, and exercise in nature.
By sharing my experience, I hope this blog is helpful to others in similar situations. You are absolutely not alone. Healing wishes to all. Namaste.
Retrieved from the web, February 9, 2018:
I send you Happy New Year greetings as we enter the year 2018! It's a great time to construct a vision board! Do you know what a vision board is? Check out my article on Psych Central for instructions. It's a new year, full of possibilities. In my next post, I will share with you some self-care strategies to incorporate into this new chapter you are creating in your life. In the meantime, consider creating a vision board to help guide you in the direction of manifesting your goals and dreams for the coming year! Best wishes to you.... Andrea :)
Hello readers. I have been pretty swamped writing for Psych Central and working with clients, thus my delayed posting. I wanted to share some articles that are relevant for this time of year:
Don't Be A Grinch: Managing Holiday Stress (Psych Central)
Beware of the Hook: Narcissists Tend to Hoover Around the Holidays (The Minds Journal)
Also, I've been busy podcasting on a range of topics that are related to healing in the aftermath of trauma...Trauma is a very broad category...I work with clients who are healing from toxic relationships as well as those who have experienced traumatic losses. Listen in at my podcast site The Savvy Shrink to hear some episodes. More are coming up in the new year!
Have a good week, and watch for more posts soon!
Happy Halloween....I wanted to point your attention to my most recent blog, as I discuss cognitive dissonance, trauma bonds and healing, while sharing excerpts from my ebook, Soul Vampires: Reclaiming Your LIfeBlood After Narcissistic Abuse....here's the podcast: enjoy!
Andrea Schneider, MSW, LCSW