Archives For Blog

“It will be the happiest time in your life.”

“You will feel nothing but unconditional love.”

“Don’t worry, being a mother will just come naturally.”

These are very common phrases that moms-to-be often hear as they near the birth of their baby. Although these comments are meant as encouragement, they inadvertently create a set of expectations about what motherhood and those first few months postpartum should look like and feel like. For some postpartum women, these phrases may ring true. For many others, these phrases feel unfamiliar and seem more like some standard to which their own experience falls vastly short. These new mothers gaze at their baby through unwelcome tears, wondering what went wrong.
The postpartum period comes with challenges that threaten to overwhelm even the most prepared, supported and experienced mothers.

There are emotional challenges as women often struggle through a broad range of feelings, such as confusion, uncertainty, joy, fulfillment, pain, longing, guilt and sadness. There are physical challenges, such as learning to care for an infant while managing sleep deprivation and healing from childbirth. Relationally, there are role adjustments and identity changes. And there are spiritual challenges, as mothers wrestle with managing fear and faith.

Add to this a major depressive episode, and life can begin to feel very unbearable, indeed. What is the struggle like for a woman with PPD? She feels anxious, irritable and sad almost all day, everyday. She is plagued with guilt. Guilt that says to her, “You aren’t a good enough mother.” She is so tired it hurts, yet she is unable to sleep when given the opportunity. Her thoughts are scattered, random, and she can’t focus. Except on the scary thoughts. She can’t get those unwelcome, intrusive thoughts out of her head. She isn’t able to manage her day-to-day responsibilities anymore. More guilt. She feels hopeless and helpless, and has even thought that her baby and family might be better off without her.

If this sounds like you, know that you are not crazy. You are not abnormal. You are not alone in feeling this way. And if you are feeling this way, it is important to reach out for help. It’s ok to reach out for help. There are people-trained counselors- who know what this is and know how help you feel better. There is a path to healing, and we want to walk alongside you as you begin to reclaim your life, your motherhood, and yourself.

Rebecca is a Licensed Professional Counselor/Intern (LPCI) at the Christian Counseling Center. Her areas of interest include women’s issues, emotional regulation, and mothers dealing with perinatal and postpartum depression. She is married with one daughter and a perfect day for her would include the beach, coffee, baking, a nice outdoor jog, and watching movies.

Fear

August 16, 2016

Earlier this week, my one year-old daughter was playing with a toy on the bed. I watched her pick up the toy, throw it off the bed onto the floor, and then in an attempt to retrieve the toy, dive headlong after it over the side of the bed. Totally unafraid of the fall or impact that awaited her! Thankfully, I quickly caught her before she tumbled head-over-heels onto the floor. As I thought about the accident we had just avoided, it occurred to me that she is not yet old enough to understand fear (in this case, fear of falling that would have deterred her from jumping off the side of the bed).

Some fears can be appropriate and useful. But what about the fears that feel crippling, burdensome, confusing, or excessive? Some fears may be situational, such as giving a presentation or flying on an airplane. Others may be relational, such as doing something embarrassing in front of others. Some fears are easy to pinpoint while others can be hard to distinguish, and can feel like a vague, overwhelming anxiety about things in general. What kinds of things are you afraid of? What are we supposed to do about it?

Thankfully, though fear may be present, it does not have to consume. Below are some suggestions you may find helpful when faced with fear:

1. Increase your familiarity with the feared object/situation. We tend to fear things that are unfamiliar to us. Typically, the more familiar something becomes, the more comfortable with it we become. So work to familiarize yourself with what you feel fearful about. Let’s assume I’m afraid to let my child ride the school bus. To increase my familiarity, I can ride the bus with her one morning, talk with other parents to see what their experiences have been, introduce myself to the bus driver, talk to school staff, and research ways to teach my daughter safety skills.

2. Examine your expectations. What are you anticipating will happen? Spend some time writing these expectations down or talking them through with someone you trust. Then think about this: based on the information you gathered in Point 1, how realistic are these expectations? Oftentimes, we come to see that the facts do not support our fear.

3. Focus on what’s within your control. Some things are within our control, and other things are outside our control. While this seems like a simple, obvious statement, it can be extremely liberating to truly grasp this concept. Separate the things that you have some degree of control over from the things you have zero control over. Focus your thoughts and energy on what you have some degree of influence over. I can’t control the behavior of other children on the school bus, but I can teach my child safety skills.

4. Surrender and entrust what’s outside of your control. So, you’re working to influence the things that are within your control, but what do you do with the things that you have no control over? Do I just try to forget about them and hope for the best? Thankfully, no! Instead, I choose to surrender them to God. I can consciously entrust the things that are outside of my control to God because (a) His understanding is greater than mine, (b) He is trustworthy, and (c) He is capable (; ; ; ; ) Thus, even though there are things I cannot directly influence, I can still exercise personal responsibility and choice by deciding to surrender it and entrust it to God. How empowering!

This can be hard work; easier said than done. If your fear is starting to feel out of control, I can assure you that you’re not alone. Talking it through with someone you trust, whether a friend or a counselor, can be an immensely helpful first step to feeling free, unburdened, empowered, and at peace.

Rebecca is a Licensed Professional Counselor/Intern (LPCI) at the Christian Counseling Center. Her areas of interest include women’s issues, emotional regulation, and mothers dealing with perinatal and postpartum depression. She is married with one daughter and a perfect day for her would include the beach, coffee, baking, a nice outdoor jog, and watching movies.

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. (ESV)

10 fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:13

13 For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.” (ESV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. (ESV)

19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (ESV)

Conflict

July 25, 2013

A few years back I spent time training with an improv comedy group. I wanted to learn the art of improvisation after having some experience doing sketch comedy. I quickly realized that while improv is essentially making up what you are performing on the fly, there are rules that govern making an entertaining scene. Here is the basic structure:

1. As quickly as you can set the scene and define the relationship.

2. Once the relationship has been defined and the scene progresses, establishing some sort of conflict is vital.

3. Once conflict is established, the scene is shaken up to make it more compelling and take it to the next level. This is referred to as “the tilt”.

4. Finally, finding a place to naturally end the scene with a clever pun or tag line to close out the action.

In essence what I have described above is in a lot of ways the framework of good story telling. However, I find it interesting that while we are so drawn to good story telling in our books, TV and film, we often times struggle to live out our own personal story. I see it frequently in how we deal with conflict. Either we avoid it like the plague or we get into patterns of emotional reactivity that cause a lack of healthy resolution and often more damage.

I believe that if we can learn to do conflict well, that it can lead to richer and more mature relationships that are consistent with the rich and abundant life God desires for us here on earth. Many authors have sought to address this topic and while not an exhaustive list, here are three suggestions that I believe will allow us to tell better stories with our lives.

1. Approach relationships with an attitude of humility

And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

We are all people in need of grace. Checking our motives and attitudes can go a long way when dealing with conflict.

2. There is power in having a sense you’re being heard

Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

When someone is not heard, a conversation becomes a debate and potentially adversarial. God wants us to hear each other’s hearts and seek what is in the best interests of the relationship and not our own selfish desires.

3. It’s completely acceptable to take a break.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

When you find yourself in a heated conversation that is in a sense hitting a wall or standstill, do not be afraid to take a break. I had a professor call it a “Critical Pause”. Walking away from the conflict for an agreed set of time with the purpose of praying and thinking about not only how to communicate more successfully, but to more importantly process how you can seek to hear the other person more effectively.

What story will your life tell?

Will Troutman

Will Troutman

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern View More Posts »
More about Will »

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (ESV)

13 If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame. (ESV)

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; (ESV)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (ESV)

In the first blog, we discussed a preliminary inner thought process of someone with an eating disorder. We will discover what an eating disorder actually is and define different disorders. Eating disorders include extreme thoughts, behaviors and emotions about eating, weight, food, and body type, shape, and build. Eating disorders are characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating patterns. They can be life-threatening and are very serious emotionally and physically.

There are different eating disorders: Anorexia Nervosa (AN), Bulimia Nervosa (BN), Binge-eating Disorder (BED), and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).

Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by restriction in eating, self-starvation, excessive weight loss, an extreme fear of becoming overweight, loss of menstruation, and an unhealthy concern with weight and body image.

Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by binging on foods and purging. Binge-eating is eating an excessive amount of food in a short period of time. Binging produces an “out of control” experience for the person with bulimia. After binging, the person purges, which can include self-induced vomiting, the use of laxatives, diuretics, diet pills, exercising excessively, fasting, and other forms. Like anorexia, there is an unhealthy concern with weight and body image.

Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by binging on foods, but there is no purging process to the cycle. The person will excessively overeat, but not purge after every binging episode. Yet, the person may fast or be known for always being on a diet.

Eating Disorder NOS is a diagnosis for those that have an eating disorder, but do not meet the entire diagnostic criteria for AN or BN. For example, someone with all of the criteria of AN, yet still has menstruation or someone who purges without binging.

Eating disorders are difficult to live with and also difficult to work through. But, there is freedom from these disorders. Psychotherapy and a tailored team approach (medical, dietitian, etc.) is the most helpful form of treatment for eating disorders. If you feel overwhelmed or stuck in an eating disorder, seek treatment to find that freedom from what is controlling you.

Find out more information on particular eating disorders here: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

Kristi Clements

Kristi Clements

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern View More Posts »
More about Kristi »

In my last blog “Gardening and Marriage”, I discussed how blossom end rot is a term that is not only used for gardening but can also be applied to many marriages. The main thrust in that blog was centered on the mistakes I unknowingly made as I planted my tomato plants, which, in the end, led to a slow death for many of the first fruits for most of those plants. Unfortunately, there are many marriages that are similar to this illustration. The good news is that there is hope for most, if not, all marriages that are struggling.

As a counselor I feel that putting priorities in place is the biggest thing that allows marriages to thrive. One of the main reasons a marriage fails is because people forget to make their spouses their number one priority. Similar to my illustration, one of my top priorities should have been putting lime in the ground which I forgot. This led to missing a vital step in the planting stage. Since there was no lime for the plants, it led to the decay of many of my first tomatoes. Likewise, if our priority is to just be married and not give it our all, this causes us to miss out on the vital things our marriages need.

God states in , “When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken.” This verse declares that we are to make every effort to ensure our spouses are our number one priority. I can’t help but wonder how different marriages would be if we took this verse of scripture to heart. Maybe for you it is cutting back on your workload to spend more time with your spouse. Maybe it is reevaluating how much time you spend with friends so you can spend more time with your spouse, or maybe it is time for you to put more of God’s word in your marriage. Whatever the case may be for you and your spouse, take some time out of your busy day today and sit down with each other and ask yourselves, “Do we have our priorities straight in our marriage?”

For more information on some of the skills sets just mentioned please go to Focus on the Family or look me up on my twitter account at @WoodReid.

Reid Wood

Reid Wood

Licensed Professional Counselor View More Posts »
More about Reid »

“When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken. (ESV)

Gardening & Marriage

April 1, 2013

Today on my way to work I started thinking about what I was going to plant in my garden this spring. One of my favorite things to plant is tomato plants. Last year I planted 42 tomato plants and was so excited about the fruit that it was going to produce. As the season progressed the tomato plants appeared so full of life and had so many green tomatoes on them. However, one day towards the end of spring I went out to my garden to find that many of the green tomatoes were developing black spots at the bottom of the fruit. Those once nice green tomatoes had developed what is call blossom end rot. As a result I lost nearly all of my first tomatoes. I was puzzled as to why this had happened but then I remembered that I had missed an important step in cultivating the soil. I had forgotten to add lime to the soil as I was preparing it for the planting season. Missing this one simple step led to a beautiful plant on the outside and a starving plant on the inside.

This is much like what happens to marriages over time. In the zeal of being married we sometimes forget the key parts that give our marriages the nourishment they need. Most of the married couples I have seen in counseling come in looking like the above illustration. It is a slow process that leads to a point of producing what I will call “bloom end rot” in the life of a marriage. There is good news though! There are steps that each and every couple can take to end the “bloom end rot” in their marriages such as reevaluating priorities, learning how to communicate better, learning how to put fun and intimacy back in a marriage, etc. My hope is to have a deeper discussion in my next few blogs regarding how to add these vital steps back into a marriage.

For more information on some of the skills sets just mentioned please go to Focus on the Family or look me up on my twitter account at @WoodReid.

Reid Wood

Reid Wood

Licensed Professional Counselor View More Posts »
More about Reid »

The Unspoken Issue (Part 1)

December 11, 2012

Have you ever sat with a friend, talking over dinner but your focus is not on the conversation? Your mind is not just wandering, but is rather fixated on one thing on the table. Maybe you stare at the bread basket in the middle, as you think about not eating more than one roll. Maybe you stare at the glass filled with water, as you try to imagine yourself feeling full just from your calorie-free beverage. Do you push your food around on the plate, giving the appearance that you are eating? Maybe your mind is on creating a plan to purge after this meal without your friend noticing or asking any questions.
Do you ever wonder if your relationship with food is overwhelming and spiraling out of control?
It is estimated that 7 million people in the United States have eating disorders. Nearly half of all Americans know someone with an eating disorder. 10-15% of those 7 million are males. Eating disorders cause disturbances to daily eating habits, ranging from eating little to no food to overeating substantial amounts of food regularly. Eating disorders involve both men and women, of all cultures, ages, and body types. Many call eating disorders the “unspoken issue” because those that struggle with disordered eating stay quiet about their problem. It becomes easy to binge and purge alone without anyone ever knowing. Others learn to be experts at skipping meals without friends and family realizing what is happening.
If you read this with any conviction, sadness, or frustration in your heart, take the time to ask yourself why it bothered you so much. Beg God in prayer by asking, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts.” (). Become mindful of your eating patterns and seek help, finding freedom from the unspoken issue that may control you.

More information and statistics can be found at http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/anorexia/statistics.htm.

Kristi Clements

Kristi Clements

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern View More Posts »
More about Kristi »

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts! (ESV)

Through the Stained Glass

December 4, 2012

First Presbyterian Church is a beautiful, historic church with excellent teaching and I am blessed to be able to worship there. One Sunday, I was sitting in Church and glanced over at the stained glass windows. I have always thought the windows were very pretty but what I saw that morning was absolutely spectacular. The sun was shining through one of the windows and it looked alive with color. I could hardly keep my eyes off of it. I would keep stealing glances at it so I could remember some of my thoughts about it after I left since I didn’t want to spend my time thinking about it then.

In reflecting back to that experience, I remembered looking at the other windows and how plain and ordinary they looked in comparison. I thought, this is a picture of how our lives are without the light of Jesus in them – we are plain and ordinary. I thought back to a time when I saw that kind of light in a woman I worked with. She was new in the office and just seemed to have an inner beauty and peace – different from anyone else I knew. As we became friends, we discussed spiritual things from time to time. She invited me on a women’s retreat with her church and I was looking forward to going. In the meantime, I had a doctor’s appointment. At the doctor’s office was a nurse that also seemed different. I again observed an inward beauty and peace. I noted it but didn’t think anything else about it…until I got on the bus to go to the women’s retreat. There in one of the seats was the nurse! I thought to myself, what do they have that I don’t? My friend and I had talked about our beliefs and I believed the same things that she did – I had grown up in the church and attended Sunday School regularly until I went to college. But these women had something I wanted. As we talked, I realized I knew about God and scripture, but they actually knew Him as a friend. The next morning high on a mountain I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my heart so I could know Him personally. I no longer wanted to go my own way – I wanted to go His way. I felt different afterward. I felt like that stained glass window looked – on fire and beautiful inside.

I see a lot of clients and often many of them have such a distorted view of who God is. Oh, how I want them to truly know Jesus and feel that inner peace. Too many times I don’t let His light shine through me so they will want that relationship too. May we all strive to be like that stained glass window – alive with color and inner beauty so others will be drawn to Jesus – the one true path to peace.

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you
()

 

Bobbie Lackey

Bobbie Lackey

Licensed Professional Counselor View More Posts »
More about Bobbie »

60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. (ESV)

Back to Mayberry

November 21, 2012


I was a child of the 80’s. I grew up on a steady intake of 80’s pop culture ranging from Transformers to The Cosby Show. Recently however, I have been enjoying a revisiting of my wife’s formative years, which were very different than my pogo ball and Mr. T infused experience.
Sarah’s childhood was what I would call a throwback experience. Instead of Full House and Perfect Strangers, her parents raised her on a steady diet of Mash, The Andy Griffith Show, Leave it to Beaver and Gomer Pyle. Needless to say, these shows were not even a part of my vocabulary during those years, but for my wife, they were highly quoted and followed religiously.
My introduction to her past has been through DVR recordings of The Andy Griffith Show. At first, I was a little skeptical but was intrigued by the popularity of the show and the classic characters that have been woven into our culture’s DNA. After watching several episodes I have to admit while it holds no nostalgic appeal, there is a certain simplicity and comfort that comes from watching Andy and Barney and the hijinks that ensue.
I was struck by a plot theme in some of the early episodes that I think relates to a potent reality of the human experience. The episodes would center on Andy and his effort to teach his son Opie a life lesson such as honesty, and then later in the show Opie would innocently call Andy out on the same lesson in a conflict that Andy was dealing with. Andy would then try to explain to Opie that it was different because he was an adult and slowly but surely Andy realized that it wasn’t any different and that the principle was the same. For Andy, he believed that what was true for Opie the child wasn’t relevant to Andy the adult. This was a belief that was outside of Andy’s awareness until Opie called Andy on it and brought it to the forefront of Andy’s thinking.
These scenes reminded me of a question that we must ask ourselves. What beliefs do we have about who we are and how we interact with the world around us? What truths hold authority in our lives and where did they come from? Did they come from our parents, a teacher, something a mean kid said on the playground in 4th grade…and are they really true?
A beautiful part of our job and the counseling experience, is to help our clients understand and identify what beliefs they have about themselves and their world and how these beliefs might be causing them to live dysfunctional and unhealthy lives. Part of our calling is to help clients replace lies with truth and shift to a biblical understanding of who they are and how living out of that experience can change their lives.

Will Troutman

Will Troutman

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern View More Posts »
More about Will »

Sight Without Vision

November 12, 2012

Helen Keller was asked once “What would be worse than being born blind?” to which she replied “Having sight without a vision.” I find this to be one of the most profound statements I have ever heard because this little girl was born deaf, blind, and mentally challenged. Yet in spite of it all she was able to come to a place in her life and say there is more to life then what meets the eye. This makes me wonder how many of us have become deaf to the words of hope and encouragement God speaks to us each day; blind to the overall vision and purpose God has for our lives; and find it mentally challenging as to whom to turn to with the problems we face in life. To this end I offer these words, God will never stop speaking His words of hope and encouragement to us. He will forever continue trying to show us his vision and purpose for our lives, and He will forever be waiting for us to turn to Him with our problems. God even states this Himself in : For He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” May we each turn to God and allow His words of hope and encouragement spur us on to see His vision and purpose for each of our lives.

Reid Wood

Reid Wood

Licensed Professional Counselor View More Posts »
More about Reid »

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?” (ESV)