Anchor Your Day ~ a mental health blog by Counselwise ~

Depression Fact #2

Depression is sometimes experienced as anxiety. Because depression and anxiety share the same biological basis, people often can experience symptoms and not be entirely sure of the direct cause. Feeling nervous and irritable for example, can lead one to thinking they may have anxiety, but those are common in depression as well. Lack of concentration and difficulty sleeping can also indicate depression; very often if what we associate to depression (sleeping all the time and low mood) are not directly present, we may in fact be blue but are experiencing it as anxiety. Either way, figuring out this mixed bag of symptoms begins with the same question: “Is this affecting my day-to-day function?” And if it is, an accurate diagnosis is important.

A good self-help website for depression and anxiety:

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“I Yam What I Yam”

My father used to love the expression “I yam what I yam,” quoting from the infamous Popeye. He would often say it in jest, and looking back, I suppose I inferred that it was sort of a “what you see is what you get” type of saying.

Our past; our childhood and lifetime experiences shape us; it will bring to us a very individualized way of processing the world that is unique to us. I suppose we can look at this saying in two ways. When we apply it to ourselves, we have a greater ability to say “Well, while it is true that I am what I am, there are times when perhaps I am doing something that is no longer in my best interest or can be hurtful to others.”  If we become aware of these behaviours and move to change them, we can shift from the expression of “I am what I am,” to more of “I am what I choose to become” and we are not so bound to our past.

We can also apply this saying to others in that they really “are what they are.”  And because of this, we at times will need to remind ourselves of two things: that people show you who they are early on and that we cannot change another person, only ourselves.  A valuable lesson to learn at any age 🙂


The Presence of Hope

I am an avid reader and always have a book on the go. A good friend recently recommended a book to me entitled “The Home for Unwanted Girls” by Joanna Goodman. A novel set in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, there were many reminders for me of having grown up in Vankleek Hill, Ontario where the blend of French and English existed as part of our childhood.

Every book has the potential to affect you in some way; this quote especially touched me: “Elodie closes her eyes. Maybe I’ve died, she thinks. The feelings inside her are too good, unfamiliar. There’s sadness, too, of course. This she accepts as the most natural, inevitable aspect of her life. Sadness lives in her cells, alongside her sense of injustice and outrage toward Sister Ignatia and God. These things cannot be transcended. They are as much a part of her being as her limbs and her organs and Nancy. But tonight, there’s something else: hope.”

For anyone who has ever experienced trauma and lives with its aftereffects; it is to know that it becomes cellular; a part of you. But as it exists as a part of you, so then does resilience, so then does courage, so then does hope.

“The Home for Unwanted Girls” by Joanna Goodman is a worthy read.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash



When a Break Up Happens: Resource

Going through a break up at any stage in life is difficult. We have to be able to try and stay distracted from the desire to completely shut off from the world, while not staying so busy that we completely avoid the feelings we need to process. We have to try and balance the advice of “the less contact, the better” that we instinctively know we should adopt, while at the same time needing our ex for support during a time we feel most vulnerable.

A relationship ending throws us into the stages of grief, and the feelings that come from that loss can feel very invasive and at times overwhelming. I recently heard about an app called “Mend;” it features daily audio training, practical tips and community support. Although many people rely on their support network during challenging times, it is also validating to be connected to others who are also going through something similar, at the same time. Sometimes, it is through the normalizing process of discovering “Okay, someone else is going through this right now too” that leads you to feeling connected and understood.

To check out the app:

There is also a blog with articles and interviews:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Trym Nilsen on Unsplash

Feeling Grateful

Today marks a month that I have been writing and sharing my blog. Although for a better part of a year I had wanted to begin the blog, certain self-inflicted roadblocks were in my way: 1. I tend to be introverted and when I was in a doubtful space, I would ask myself “who would want to read anything I wrote anyway” (we all have self-doubt sometimes!) and 2. the technical side of anything tends to overwhelm me (just ask my kids when I bug them about the most minor questions concerning my phone!)

As it always helps for me to feel informed, I ordered “Blogging for Dummies” by Amy Lupold Bair and Susannah Gardner and after reading that, felt better, but still overwhelmed with the learning curve of software programs, cyber-security, RSS feeds and so forth. And so I hired a web designer to get me going; she helped re-vamp my website, set me up

Read moreFeeling Grateful

“Before You Put the Cuffs On….”

I want you to ask yourself, “Did I actually do anything wrong?” This is often the counsel I give to clients who are struggling with guilt. The definition of guilt as written in my Webster’s Dictionary: “the fact of having committed a legal offense // the fact of having transgressed the moral law // a feeling of culpability.” In my “Dictionary of Emotions by Patrick Michael Ryan,” he lists guilt as: “remorse caused by feeling responsible for some offense.  In either example, there is the element of having made some form of a transgression that elicited the feeling of guilt as a direct consequence of the mistake. Seems pretty straight forward, right? And yet many of us struggle deeply with this emotion.

Guilt is actually one of our healthy emotions because it allows us to repair. But we also learn a lot about guilt growing up; from our caregivers, our communities such as school or church, our

Read more“Before You Put the Cuffs On….”

The Science Behind a Hug

It’s really all about touch. We are inevitably a relationship species and because of that we seek out connection with others. As a way to bond with others, we use touch. The science behind that comes from a hormone called Oxytocin; often referred to as the “hormone of love,” it triggers nurturing and loving feelings and helps to promote trust. In a study conducted by Dr. Kathleen Light, she discovered that “warm touch” between couples (which included a 20 second hug) increased Oxytocin in both males and females. In a separate study, she was able to connect warm contact to a positive effect on blood pressure and heart rate. An important aside worth mentioning is that she states that the quality of the relationship made a big difference to the lasting effects of the hug. Even more reason to keep our relationships healthy and our hugs in good supply. 😊

To read the study:

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Anxiety Fact #2

Anxiety is adaptive. Because we are pre-programmed to worry, anxiety conforms; it is a system in our body that helps us to deal with real danger. When we see a car come into our lane up ahead, or a bear steps into our path while hiking, anxiety keeps us safe. It alerts our fear response to kick into action, which in turn, helps to try and flee the danger. Seeing anxiety in this way can help us to appreciate the difference between true danger (real threat) and perceived danger (our fear triggers).

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.” – Mark Twain

Information for this post and a great website:

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Emotional Agility

In a recent Ted talk that I was listening to entitled “Susan David: The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage,” she talks about the concept of emotional agility. She says, “How we deal with our inner world affects everything; how we love, how we live, how we parent and how we lead. The conventional view of how we see emotion, as good or bad, positive or negative is rigid, and rigidity in the face of complexity is toxic.  We need greater levels of emotional agility for true resilience and thriving.” Susan continues with her own personal story of living as a child in South Africa during the midst of apartheid and how her father’s death greatly affected her. She goes on to say, “Emotional agility is the ability to be with your emotions, with curiosity, compassion, and especially the courage to take valued-connected steps.”

We remain open to our emotions simply by observing them; to not place judgement on them, trying to decide if they are good or bad. Rather it is to simply acknowledge that “I am feeling sad,”  “I am feeling disappointed,” or “I am feeling content.”  This is essentially the concept of emotional ability; the openness to our feelings no matter what they might be.

To listen to the full 16 minute Ted Talk:

Photo credit: http://Photo by David Hofmann on Unsplash

A Great Resource

A website recently came to my attention. It is called Big White Wall and it is an online peer support and self-management tool for youth 16+ and adults experiencing mild to moderate depression and anxiety. What I really liked about it was that it is available around the clock, it is anonymous, and is staffed by “Wall Guides” who make sure the community is safe and supportive. They have a section where you can post questions and get feedback, a creative section where you can post pics and see other people’s contributions as well, a section called “Useful Stuff” which has many articles to choose from, and a section where you can sign up for courses (usually 3 to 4 weeks) on a variety of topics. All completely free to those living in Ontario!

These are some of the stats:

  • 70% of users saw improvement in at least one aspect of their well-being
  • 46% of users reported sharing an issue for the first time
  • 51% of users reported less mental health-related time off work using Big White Wall.

Here’s the link:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash