Have 10 minutes to join us for a break? As we come to the end of this tax season and the beginning of Spring, we want to take a moment to be with you in a short mindfulness meditation on abundance.
If you are a private practice clinician wondering how you can grow your practice, give back, or engage with other mental health clinicians in your work, Khesed Wellness loves partnering with professionals like you. This week, we discuss the benefits of partnering with Khesed as a private practice clinician.
We currently have two openings for LPCC’s and are always seeking new site partnerships with clinicians in private practice. If you are interested in one of these openings or in donating office space, we invite you to contact us today! We look forward to hearing from you!
In this episode of the Shrinkcast, join me for a discussion about the reasons behind the creation of Khesed Wellness, including the need to challenge the status quo of the mental health system with kindness.
Phil and I meet for coffee every Monday morning. Phil is Khesed’s Program Manager and this is our weekly check-in. It’s official business but we look for any excuse to talk the theory of all things.
Like last week, he told me about Monkeysphere Theory. Have you ever heard of Monkeysphere Theory?
Resource discussed in podcast, The Tools: https://www.amazon.com/Tools-Courage-Creativity-Willpower-Inspire/dp/0812983041/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1550347848&sr=8-1&keywords=the+tools+stutz
Thanks to a courageous friend who named they don't know how to talk about mental health, while enjoying soup together, this podcast was born. Here's a couple tips about how you can talk proactively about mental health.
Insurance works for a few but not most. The greatest barrier to mental health care is cost, or belief that insurance won't cover the cost of care. In today's episode, we discuss why insurance can't (not won't) solve the mental health crisis.
“Día de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) is approaching and for some people this may be a difficult time of the year due to the lack of a proper resolution regarding the departure of their love ones from this world. It can be challenging and painful for some to remember that their family members are not here anymore. Some individuals may still have the need to grieve and mourn their love ones especially if they did not have the opportunity to attend their funerals. Anxiety and depression may be experienced by some. On the other hand, other people may see this celebration as an opportunity to come to a peace about their losses.
Growing up in Mexico City, “Día de los Muertos” was an exciting holiday (on November 1st deceased children are remembered, and the following day is adults turn) because we used to carve pumpkins, placed a candle inside of them, and went into the neighborhood to ask for money, “un veinte a la calavera”(a coin for the skull) is what we used to say (the equivalent to trick or treat). Besides that and the special treats including “pan de muerto” (special bread), and “calaveritas de dulce y chocolate” (small skulls made of candy and chocolate) was all children cared for. Children were not fully aware of their parent’s or relatives’ emotional pain and distress.
Many Mexican people express their love, respect, and honor to their deceased family by preparing their favorite food and drinks, and by putting them on tables along with flowers, candles, and pictures; this is a way to keep them alive in their minds. Some of them go to the cemetery and on the tombs, they put deceased’s favorite food, alcoholic drinks, flowers, candles, and even some bring a mariachi band to sing their dead’s favorite songs. They talk to them as if they were right there listening. For some, this celebration may signify a way to be in peace with their deceased specially if they did not have the opportunity to do so when they were alive. In some cases, people may be afraid of the unknown or the death itself, and may also believe that through following this rituals and celebration, they can save their love ones from eternal punishment.
Día de los Muertos also offers individuals the opportunity to openly process their losses without feeling criticized or rejected; expressing unresolved emotions are encouraged and understood, thus a sense of relief may be experienced. By remembering their love ones people may feel a sense of connection, however, going through a process of grieving and mourning with the help of professional therapists is encouraged for those who have experienced not only traumatic losses, but those who feel distressed and depressed for the departure of their love ones.
Khesed Wellness profoundly understands people’s emotional struggles, and offers affordable professional counseling services for those who are dealing not only with grief and loss, but trauma, anxiety, depression, addictions, and more. Our therapists are more than happy to help you with kindness, love, and respect. Please visit our website at khesedwellness.com for more information and locations near you. Spanish speaking services are also now available.
Comiendo con los Muertos
El Día de los Muertos se acerca y para algunas personas ésto puede ser un tiempo difícil debido a la falta de un proceso apropiado de resolución con respecto a la partida de sus seres queridos de éste mundo. Para algunas personas puede ser desafiente y doloroso el saber que sus seres queridos ya no estan aquí. Algunos individuos pueden tener todavia la necesidad de pasar por el procesos de duelo especialmente si no tuvieron la oportunidad de asistir al funeral de sus familiares. Algunos pudieran estar experimentando ansiedad y depresión. Por otro lado, otras personas pudieran ver esta celebración como una oportunidad para ponerse en paz con la pérdida de sus familiares.
Habiendo crecido en la Ciudad de México, el Día de los Muertos era una festividad con mucha emoción (el 1o. de Noviembre los niños que han muerto son recordados y el siguiente día es el turno de los adultos) porque le dabamos figura a nuestra calabaza, le colocabamos una vela adentro y nos ibamos a las casa de los vecinos a pedirles un veinte a la calavera. A los niños lo único que nos importaba era ir a pedir dinero con nuestra calavera y la comida, incluyendo el pan de muerto y las calaveritas de dulce y chocolate. Los niños no estan completamente conscientes de la agonía y dolor emocional de sus papás o familiares por la pérdida de sus seres queridos.
Muchos mexicanos expresan su amor, respeto, y honor hacia sus familiares muertos al preparar su comida y bebidas favoritas, y colocando flores y fotos; esta es una manera de mantenerlos vivos en su mente. Algunas personas van al cementerio y colocan sobre la tumba de sus seres queridos su comida favorita, bebidas alcholicas, flores, e inlcuso algunos llevan un mariachi para que canten las canciones que le gustaban al difunto. Le hablan a sus muertos como si estuvieran ahí escuchando. Para algunos, esta celebración puede significar una manera de estar en paz con el difunto especialmente si no tuvieron la oportunidad de hacerlo en vida. En algunos casos, la gente puede tener temor a los desconocido o a la muerte misma, y creen que al hacer estos rituales y celebraciones pueden salvar a sus seres queridos del castigo eterno.
El Día de los Muertos es una oportunidad para algunas personas de procesar abiertamente sus pérdidas sin sentirse criticados o rechazados; también son animados a expresar las emociones no resueltas de tal manera que puedan experimentar alivio. Al recordar a sus seres queridos, las personas pudieran sentir una sensación de conección con ellos, sin embargo, para aquellos que han experimentado una pérdida traumatica, o para aquellos que se sienten atormentados o depresivos por la partida de sus seres queridos es muy recomedable que pasen por un proceso de duelo con la ayuda de terapistas profesionales.
Khesed Wellness entiende profundamente las luchas emocionales que las personas experiementan, y ofrece servicios profesionales de consejería accesible para aquellos que no solo estan sufriendo con el luto y la pérdida, sino también con trauma, ansiedad, depression, adicciones, y otras cosas más. Nuestros terapistas estan más que felices en ayudarte con amabilidad, amor, y respeto. Para más información y localidades por favor visita nuestra página de internet en khesedwellnes.com
About the Author:
Francisca Alvarez RP, Apprentice is earning her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Denver Seminary. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Economy from Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico, City. She is Prepare/Enrich certified in working with couples to heal and strengthen their relationship. Francisca is passionate in helping people to become healthy in a holistic way and is willing to incorporate faith into sessions if clients bring this subject up. She is open in serving the Hispanic community including teenagers, young adults, adults, and couples. Francisca was born and raised in Mexico State and moved to Colorado two decades ago. She spends some of her free time traveling with her husband and their teenage daughter, and also enjoys watching movies, and eating Mexican and Italian food with family and friends.
When it comes to the topic of body image and eating disorder recovery, much conversation occurs around the concept of body positivity. In recent years, a movement has erupted from beneath the rigid body image expectations perpetuated by our culture to declare that “health” should no longer be automatically synonymized with “thin,” and we have begun to see a greater celebration of the various ways that bodies take size and shape. Instead of enslaving our bodies to harsh diets and punishing workout routines, an alternative approach has been offered to tell us that we can indeed celebrate the feats our bodies are capable of and honor them with nourishing foods and movement that we enjoy.
Many of the leaders in this movement are women who have been brave enough to push back against the unreasonable body image standards to which they have long been held hostage, and often in my work in the field of eating disorder treatment, I have suggested that the rest of us must join the work our sisters have started and begin to cultivate body positivity movements for men, racial minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community, as well.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge, however, that for those of us who have spent significant amounts of time at war with our bodies, the idea of such personal body positivity can seem nearly impossible. The notion may be good in theory, but after years of wrestling with body disgust and hatred, the concept of celebrating and loving our physical selves can feel like nothing more than a pipe dream. To you, my friend, I simply say: I get it. Body positivity does not always feel good and positive, and I know well that the way we feel about our physical selves does not always consist of celebration, warmth, or acceptance. If anything, the expectation that body positivity must be defined by these experiences can lead us into deeper guilt and shame about the actual, darker emotions we sometimes feel when we look in the mirror. The truth is, for some of us, practicing body positivity will at times be the most difficult, and least positive-feeling, thing we ever do.
I recently went through a difficult season in my life, and honestly, I did not feel very positive about my body during any of it. It was a season of hardship, filled with struggle, scarcity, hurt, and grief, and in an attempt to alleviate some of the pain, I turned back to a few of my most reliable and damaging numbing techniques. My body, in turn, adjusted with them.
I am well-practiced at criticizing my body for not being good enough and for changing in ways that I deem to be undesirable and unacceptable, and during this season, it took a lot of my energy to refrain from berating my body and myself for being human and imperfect every time I got dressed in the morning. It took additional energy to then refrain from engaging in even more damaging practices to compensate for its changes. The only body positivity I could muster during that time was an acknowledgement of the ways my body had agreed to hold my pain when the rest of me could not and choose not to actively criticize it or punish it for the way it had done so.
In reality, body positivity doesn’t always, or sometimes ever, look like a celebration for all of the wonderful things our bodies allow us to do. Some days, body positivity instead looks like whispering to our physical selves through gritted teeth and tear-stained cheeks that despite the pain, the fear, or the disgust, we will choose not to do anything we know will cause them harm. Some days, it looks like nothing more than putting in the fight to ride out the wave of body distress without engaging in destructive, quick-fix ways out of the emotion, even if we know those ways will temporarily dull the pain. Some days, body positivity is desperately seeking out a glimmer of gratitude, no matter how small, that our bodies have endured our mistreatment, made space for our pain, and have kept us alive. And on those days, my friend, that is enough.
Body positivity, in its truest form, is not always pretty, and it is certainly not always connected to any actual positive feeling. For some of us, loving our physical selves may feel futile or impossible, and yet, if there is even one small act of physical kindness that can get us through the difficult days, if there is even one time we can show our bodies appreciation instead of harm, the hope that inspires body positivity remains.
My dear friend, if you are afraid that celebrating your physical self is out of reach, I feel you. However, if you are also tired of waging a constant war against your body, I am with you. Let us begin the hard work of making peace with our flesh and bones together, and in doing so, discover that in the moments when we feel like celebrating our bodies least, even the smallest acts of physical kindness are cause for celebration, too.
About the Author:
Zach Verwey, MA, LPC, NCC holds a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from a CACREP accredited program and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Colorado. In his clinical practice, Zach has worked extensively with LGBTQ+ concerns, eating disorders, holistic sexual health, values and identity, and grief and loss, and he is Prepare/Enrich certified in working with couples. He is especially passionate about addressing the ways in which body image difficulties impact the LGBTQ+ community and regularly works with clients and provides education through writing and public speaking on this topic. Zach believes deeply in the power of interpersonal and intrapersonal relationship work in the therapeutic process, and offers a holistic and integrative approach that honors the mind, body, and spirit. In his spare time, Zach enjoys reading the memoirs of comedians who also happen to be women, experimenting with new bread recipes, and exploring Denver’s latest hot spots with a friend or two.
Disclaimer from Khesed Wellness:
The following blog post contains a real depiction of one woman's suicide attempt and recovery. This essay may cause some people to feel uncomfortable or triggered. We encourage you to remain mindful of your feelings and reactions and practice self care if you choose to continue reading. The narrative is filled with wisdom that the writer gained from her real life experiences as she recovered from her suicide attempt and sought help. As a team, we at Khesed are dedicated to breaking down the walls of stigma and are grateful to this writer for joining us in this important work by sharing her story. Whether you battle with thoughts of suicide or your experience of mental health is quite different from the experience reflected in this story, we encourage you to take heart in knowing that there is support available for those that are suffering. We are here to talk and listen, whatever your story might be. Contact Us.
From Hell to Happiness. One girl's Guide to Surviving Suicide.
By Elizabeth Heckmann
The struggle to treat mental illness can be a lifelong battle and it requires a fully committed team of friends, family, and doctors. When a childhood friend, who works for Khesed Wellness, approached me about writing a blog post for Suicide Prevention month, I was honored. I have become familiar with Khesed and their purpose and practices and have found their mission to be truly altruistic. Khesed, which means reciprocated kindness, provides mental health support in an easily accessible and affordable way.
Mental health can be swept under the rug as taboo; as a symbol of weakness; as fake. Or played off as a joke. It is this kind of behavior that emboldens the depression and anxiety. This only stokes the flames of the voices inside your head. But with gentle care, truth, empathy, and kindness, you can begin chiseling through the walls of mental illness until finally, the light of day begins seeping through the cracks, driving out the madness. Khesed Wellness provides patients with the guidance to strive for peace of mind and the chisel to work your way there.
I was broken. I was unstable, teetering on the fault line as it widened with my anxiety, devastation, and total loss of control. I had been tricked by what I thought was a new true love; a physical love, emotional love, intellectual love, pure love. Broken by an old love who couldn’t put down the hooch, I decided to drive to Wyoming to follow this new passionate love. But I was spurned mid heartbeat. I thought he loved me enough to choose me instead of the other girl. I chose him; he turned his back on me, shredding my heart as he disappeared from my life. And then I was triggered. My finger had been waiting restlessly on the trigger for months just waiting for an excuse and this boy was it. The fall into the suicidal cavern of my mind was quick; no effort to cling to the here and now. I switched, flipped, fell, broke, and disappeared in a matter of minutes.
Through the tsunami of tears streaking my face and my shrieks of despair, I managed to pull over to the side of the road. Logic was silenced and that evil presence eternally weighing on my back took over every bit of my being. Right before I began frantically prying lids off of my three psychiatric med bottles as well as a bottle of Aleve and pouring the pills down my throat, I opened the glove compartment and grabbed a brown paper napkin and a pen. “I’m f---ing over it!” I scrawled on the napkin I left on the seat.
Then, I opened the door and popped the trunk. Consciousness was quickly dissolving but I managed to stumble to the trunk and open a quart of motor oil. I gulped the thick, black, foul oil down and then chased it with huge swallows of bright blue antifreeze. As I was disappearing into the poisons, I made one last ditch effort at eternally ending the humiliation and forsakenness that had been triggered from deep down, by attempting to slit my left wrist with the saw in my Swiss Army Knife. Slicing deeper and deeper into my flesh and muscle, my blood dripped onto my jeans.
My head loosely rolled down so that my chin rested against my chest, my mouth falling open, vomit trailing down the corners of my mouth. Someone had opened the door and reached into my car, wrapping their arms around my torso and legs. As the arms started to pull me out of the driver’s seat, my feet limply followed.
Through the growing haze of death, I saw small blades of green grass mixed in with gravel on the pavement of the side of the interstate. I noticed the tips of my cowgirl boots were covered in vomit. The arms lifted me with power. They were attached to a police officer. My head rolled back on my limp neck as the sheriff carried my dead weight as if I were a fresh corpse.
It was the sheriff of Converse County, Sheriff Clint Becker, who found me and pulled me out of the car as I was dying. Sheriff Becker only found me because I had answered my best friend, Nicole’s phone call and after her hearing me losing the fight for life as my speech became increasingly slurred, she got in her car and charged northward to Wyoming. In between calling me every 5 minutes, Nicole called 911 until an operator was able to dispatch a cop to look for me. They tracked my cell phone and found me.
I was then handed off to EMS and rushed to Wyoming Medical Center where I was stabilized in the ER and then admitted to the PCU. If it hadn’t been for Nicole’s perseverance and persistence in finding me and Clint’s quick response, I would have died on that wretched stretch of road.
When I finally regained consciousness, I found myself in a hospital bed with IVs placed in both of my forearms and a peripherally inserted central catheter in my neck used for dialysis. I was put on dialysis for one week. My urine was streaked with a rainbow residue leftover from the oil, which made me laugh. Despite my tormented state only days before, I was alive and happy.
After I was medically cleared, I was then admitted to Centennial Peaks psych hospital for one week. I enraged a fellow patient because after she did her laundry in the same washer that I had just used to wash the motor oil infused vomit out of my favorite Colorado State University hoodie, her clothes were tainted by the lingering film of motor oil.
While at CP, I participated in Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on four sets of behavior skills: emotional regulation, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance. The DBT helped me to withstand the emotional trauma long enough until I went home and continued therapy with my psychologist and psychiatrist.
A key component to surviving the hell of mental illness is having a guide. As I have grown with my diagnosis, I have come to find a sense of self in the archetype of the Greek goddess Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld. Taken captive by Hades, the god of the Underworld, as his unwilling bride, she fought her new life. Upon Persephone’s rescue by her mother Demeter, the goddess of the earth, Hades offered Persephone a pomegranate and before she left with her mother, Persephone ate six seeds, which sentenced her to spend six weeks out of every year in the Underworld, serving as the queen. Every year, Demeter mourns the loss of her daughter and mythology tells us that this is where winter comes from. Eventually, Persephone learns to love her role as Queen of the Underworld and becomes a guide for those lost in the darkness.
I see myself as a modern-day Persephone. I have been to the darkest corners of hell; I have spent time in the blackness, enough time to know exactly how to help those also suffering from a mental illness, also trapped in the depths of the Underworld. Everyone fighting their way through the Underworld for their sanity, for the strength to last just one more day, for the ability to find their beauty and worth needs a guide; that’s where people such as the trained, compassionate, and empathetic team of practitioners at Khesed prove to be vital in helping the mentally ill to manage their illness and live the best life they can. This in turn greatly benefits the community.
September is National Suicide Prevention month, but for some, fighting suicide is a battle they will face for years. That’s why suicide prevention deserves more serious and respectful attention by the masses. As someone who has faced what could be the moment of no return and who has clawed my way back from that place, I can say it would never have been possible without professional therapy and it brings me such relief to know that Khesed Wellness serves as a safe place for healing and exploration.
Having worked with many patients struggling with their own mental illness, throughout my seven years a Certified Nurse Aid, I have seen people at their lowest, but with the surge of kindness and attention they received from friends, family, beef burritos from Taco Bell supplied by doting mothers, and a team of healthcare givers, patients found reasons to smile. It was like the peace and beauty of a frosted forest after a wicked blizzard. The storm is unfathomably unforgiving, but as light and love manifest, the storm weans.
The more we understand mental illness, the more effectively we can fight it. Reciprocated kindness can be taught and even applied to the self. Being kind to oneself is the first step in the battle for mental health. It can be a long, arduous fight, but with this enveloping kindness there is light, love, trust, strength, camaraderie, and healing. A lyric from the Third Eye Blind song Jumper always sparks inspiration for me: “I wish you would step back from that ledge, my friend/you could cut ties with all the lies that you’ve been living in…” Let go of the lies people tell you, let go of the lies you tell yourself and fight for yourself. Use your resources, use Khesed, use your heart. You’re worth the fight. Believe me.
Tyler, my youngest nephew, and me.