Articles for the Month of April 2014

Dealing with Grief: Healthy Ways and Harmful Ways

By Cathy Neville, LPC, on April 18, 2014

griefloss-182Choosing to Recover Well After Loss

When Loss punches you hard, it knocks you back.

The thud of reality feels like cold concrete against your back.

Head reeling and gut wrenching, you feel the pain.


If you let it, Loss will take you down.


Confronting Loss


What is it that knocked you down?

Foreclosure? Death? Job loss? Divorce?


Grief is normal. It is a natural companion to loss.

Some of us embrace it and some of us resist.

Whether the process helps or harms is really up to us.


When loss hits hard, do you grieve in a way that gets you back on your feet?

Or do you make harmful choices that keep you down, suffering, dazed, and confused?


How Will You Grieve?


  1.        Will You Accept Loss or Ignore It?


  • Healthy grief accepts the painful reality.


It’s better to take the hit, absorb the impact, and feel the pain. It’s okay to cry or yell. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or guilty. It perfectly normal to feel however you feel. Take the time to care for yourself and honor your emotions.


  • Harmful grief avoids or postpones the pain.


Attempts to “suck it up”, ignore the hurt, or bury distress in some other feeling accomplish little.  Unhealthy grief can show up physically. Has your weight changed? Are you experiencing insomnia? Refusing to take care of yourself just means the pain will demand more attention later.


  1.        Will You Acknowledge your feelings or Curb them?


  • Healthy grief processes, shares, and reflects.


Positive and negative feelings are part of the deal. Be patient with yourself; allow grief to run its course. Support is key to rebounding after loss. Participating in some form of ceremony may help you see the meaning or value in the loss.


  • Harmful grief attempts to place rigid limits on the process.


It tries to keep grief confined to a specific time period, place, or group of people. It rejects the idea that loss might affect many areas of your life. Are you pushing people away? Do you tell yourself it’s “not right” to feel hurt, numb, or angry? This response can lead to solitary, hostile, or even violent episodes.


  1.        Will You Adjust to Change or Resist It?


  • Healthy grief adjusts to the “new normal”.


Allow yourself to ease into changes brought on by loss. As you re-engage “normal” life, there will be unexpected triggers or reminders of your loss that come up from time to time. Plan for tough moments. Write in a journal, visit your counselor, or keep a good friend on speed-dial.


  • Harmful grief can be keep you unproductive and exhausted.


Time does not heal the pain of loss. You cannot wait out grief. Are you fruitlessly holding on to the past? Do you feel stuck, listless, drained by grief? Resisting change can lead to anxiety, depression, and irrational fears.


  1.        Will You Heal or Self-destruct?


  • Healthy grief heals.


With time and support, grief teaches resilience. Grief is meant to move you from the life you expected to one you never saw coming. It is a restorative and unique process. Grieving well moves you through pain, restores balance, and allows you to rebound psychologically.


  • Harmful grief, unchecked, can engage a long cycle of chronic suffering.


Self-medication and self-destruction are frequent byproducts. Do you feel depressed or unable to keep yourself from ruminating on your loss? Do you use substances, food, or sex to numb your feelings? Are you harming yourself or others? Don’t drown in the feelings. Seek help.



Loss is tough.

Grief can make you stronger.

You have a choice.

Chose to heal.



Anxiety: 7 Common Symptoms

By Cathy Neville, LPC,  on January 28, 2015


Anxiety: 7 Common Symptoms

Worry is normal. But if you find yourself worrying constantly and feel that your worry is interrupting your day-to-day life, you may suffer from excessive anxiety. Even if you believe that your worries are consistently and negatively impacting your quality of life, don’t lose hope. You can seek help and relief from the cycles of apprehension and dread.

First, Ask Yourself These Questions About Anxiety

1. Do you usually believe that the worst will happen, and that you won’t be able to cope when it does?
Sufferers of anxiety generally believe that the worst-case scenario is inevitable. For example, that, regardless of performance, they will certainly lose their jobs. They also firmly believe that when this happens, they won’t be able to handle it or move on. For example, they will lose their jobs and then never find another job again. The negativity escalates.

2. Do you experience sudden feelings of fear, dread, and hopelessness?
Sufferers of anxiety may find themselves caught in overwhelming emotions, even when nothing has happened to provoke them. They may believe that there is no way out. Anxiety is closely linked with depression.

3. Do you pay close attention to physical symptoms in anticipation of illness or injury?
Anxious people often obsessively monitor their bodies in order to catch any change that might indicate grave illness. They mentally exaggerate symptoms and believe in the worst possible outcome for the perceived sickness. They may even avoid activities that might induce injury or illness, such as social events or outdoor exercise.

4. Do you constantly seek reassurance?
If you frequently need friends, peers, and especially loved ones to tell you explicitly that you are valued, talented, attractive, and worthwhile, even when you have no evidence that you are not, you may suffer from anxiety.

5. Do you rely on alcohol or other substances to numb your worries? Do you rely on work to hide them?
Sufferers of anxiety often resort to harmful self-medication to avoid feelings of dread or self-consciousness, especially in social situations, many of which include alcohol. They may try to use drinking and drugs to ease social pressures, though these substances may actually increase anxiety rather than suppress it.

Similarly, they may throw themselves into work to fight feelings of worthlessness and to hide anxiety from co-workers and friends. However, they might also avoid potential or perceived failure by refusing new tasks or challenges.

6. Have you had a panic attack?
Symptoms of a panic attack include shortness of breath, numbness in the extremities, elevated heart rate, dizziness, an overwhelming feeling of dread, and a concentrated anticipation of death. Often the sufferer feels depressed or listless for days following the attack. Panic attacks can happen at any time, but are most commonly produced by an especially stressful situation, like a reprimand at work, a fight with a spouse, or even the discovery of a symptom of illness, such as a strange mole.

Attacks may cause further worry and reclusive behavior in sufferers, who fear they will have an attack in public and humiliate themselves. They may also develop a fear of the places or situations in which an attack occurred. For example, if you have a panic attack in a car, you may begin to avoid driving or long car rides.

While panic attacks happen to many people, they are powerful physical symptom of excessive, debilitating anxiety.

7. Do you worry about your worry?
One of the most serious and cyclical symptoms of anxiety is, plainly, worry about worry. You may fear that everyone can see your worry and judges you negatively because of it. You may even believe that your concerns make you foolish and worthless. It can feel as though anxiety is destroying your life.

You Are Not Alone

When you suffer from anxiety, it is easy to think that you suffer alone, and that there is no way out. Surely no one else loses themselves in a cycle of worry and self-doubt, surely everyone else is strong. But even this belief in your isolation is itself a symptom of anxiety. Every year, anxiety disorders affect about 40 million Americans over the age of eighteen. You are not alone. And there is hope.   I am a counselor in San Antonio, Texas who specializes in anxiety.  As an anxiety counselor, I can provide you with the tools to get control of your life!  Get started NOW!

After the Divorce – Coping With The Changes

divorcenew-300x200By Cathy Neville, LPC

Change comes fast and frequent after divorce, but you can survive it.
You can come out stronger with a solid future and valuable lessons learned.
Your Pain is Real
Your relationship is over. The life you expected to have is gone, and it hurts. The life that lies ahead doesn’t make sense — yet.
Grief after a divorce is normal and appropriate. Developing a new, secure outlook will come through healthy, productive grieving and emotional awareness.

· Feel your feelings! Hiding from them will only prolong your suffering. Stuffing your pain will only thwart your efforts to “get over it” or “move on”.

· Avoid “numbing out” with drugs, alcohol, sex, or food. Unhealthy choices do not assist healthy recovery. The grief will only persist, compounded by self-destruction.

· Don’t cheat yourself out of the growth that comes with the grieving process. Do more than mask the pain, regret, and sadness accompanying divorce; express your feelings and actually recover.

· Allow acceptance and adjustment to take place so that you can let go and begin again.

You Need Your People!
You need a compassionate circle of listeners. You need a like-minded group who gets your pain, or a trustworthy counselor who can encourage you to take the next steps. You need support.
Support is crucial. To get through this, seek positive, constructive help.

· Unfortunately, the break-up of your relationship may have left some holes in your support network. Seek out new friendships and community connections sooner rather than later.

· Engage people, share your situation, and openly receive the help of those who offer their support without criticism or judgment.

· When you are supported, you can better support your children and engage your former spouse respectfully and productively when the need arises.

Your Life is Your Own
You are more than someone’s ex. You are more than a single parent. You are more than divorced. You are on the edge of something fresh and new. It can be frightening. And it can be good.
Self-care is necessary and stabilizing. Use the fear and uncertainty you may feel as motivation. Take time to look closely at your life, goals, and hopes for the future.

· Examine your life’s routines. It may be helpful to maintain your personal care regimen, household schedules, exercise programs, or religious practices. They may provide structure and normalcy amid the changes you must make. Keep what works for you and throw out the rest.

· Meet your needs practically and emotionally. Set goals for your career. Investigate ways to improve your health. Set aside time regularly to touch base with your kids. Make major decisions only as you feel emotionally well and ready to do so.

· Expand your horizons with new hobbies, activities, or social situations. You now have the opportunity to pursue gardening, golf, travel, or rock-climbing if you want to. You are no longer limited by your former relationship. Diving into something new can be energizing. Get out there. Spend less time dwelling on the past.

You Can Learn From This
You can emerge stronger and better. You don’t have to suffer. If sadness slips into depression or refuses to subside, it may be time to call a counselor or therapist.
Be honest with yourself, if you need more help, it’s okay.
A therapist can help you search through your feelings, explore any obstacles, and help you learn from your past to prepare for future relationships.
If you are well supported, you can eventually get above the empty feelings.
You can climb atop the current pile of highs and lows.
From there, you will see the bigger picture and take off through clearer air.