Archive for the ‘Believe in Change’ Category

Believe in Recovery

September is Recovery Month.

It’s a chance for our community to celebrate recovery as well as talk about substance use, break down stigma, and focus on what our
community can do to support recovery.

The impacts of addiction are felt by many in Northwestern Ontario, all ages, genders, cultures and lifestyles. When we consider the pain of seeing a loved one suffering with addiction, the impact of substance use touches us all. You are not alone. Thunder Bay Counselling’s clients are proud of the positive changes they make to better their lives for themselves and their families.

Since the start of the pandemic, Addiction and Mental Health Ontario has found that 42% of Ontario’s adults have increased their substance use or gambling. COVID-19 continues to impact the mental wellness of our community members, and as a result many people are increasing their use of alcohol and other substances. Throughout the pandemic, deaths due to the Opiates Crisis continue to increase. Now, more than ever, we need to take steps to care for ourselves and each other, to create a safer community for everyone, and to include people struggling with substance use in the change we all want to see.

Disproportionally, recovery can be more difficult to achieve and sustain for people who don’t have access to adequate food, housing, income security, health care, and for those who experience trauma and mental health issues. “These systemic problems look different in Northwestern Ontario and need a local and regional response. Every path to recovery is unique,” says Nancy Chamberlain, Executive Director, Thunder Bay Counselling.

Services in the Thunder Bay area are connected and work together to find what works for you. Whether it is the first step on your recovery journey, or if you have been walking the path for years, believe in change. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, reach out.

Recovery is possible, and that is something to celebrate.

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Are you depressed or having a tough week?

“I’m so depressed…” is a statement you may hear often, and some people use this description lightly when they’re having a rough day or they’re not happy about a situation.

For example, “I’m so depressed that my favourite Netflix show is over.” You may have even heard children use the words, “It’s depressing,” when simple things in life don’t go their own way.

Our modern culture has seemingly replaced feelings of “disappointment” or “sadness” with a self-diagnosis of “depression” and so, we have to ask ourselves if we’re losing sight of the real issue of depression, and most importantly, the people who are genuinely suffering from depression, often without being taken seriously.

While feelings of disappointment or sadness are real and can genuinely feel overwhelming at times, its important to differentiate between everyday emotions and an issue that requires support. Knowing and respecting the difference could help end the stigma, and potentially save lives.

Depression can affect a person’s emotional, physical and mental well-being. It’s not uncommon for people to suffer with depression. In fact, it’s one of the most common mental illnesses in Canada, with an estimated 1 in 4 Canadians experiencing a degree of depression serious enough to need treatment at some time in their life. Most importantly, depression can affect anyone, at any stage of life, and can be chronic or situational.

In decades past, depression often went undiagnosed or it was simply brushed under the carpet for fear of public shame or stigma. It was difficult for people to recognize the difference between feelings of temporary sadness and an actual mental illness. Sufferers were encouraged to “snap out of it” or “to quit feeling sorry for themselves,” – both due to a lack of public education and awareness. Fast forward to 2020 and the word depression has become such a part of our common daily language that we might presume any fear of stigma would have disappeared for sufferers. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

If you talk to someone suffering from depression, they will tell you that they felt uncomfortable to ask for help – even today. And the most common reason is that healthy people talk about being “depressed” so lightly and frequently that it has made the real sufferers feel invalid to ask for help.

So how can you tell if you’re suffering from depression or having a rough week?

Depression is more than feeling down or sad on occasion. When it comes to depression, the sadness is consistent, long-lasting and impacts your daily life. Some sufferers struggle to get out of bed; may go extended time without social interaction; may start to believe negative things about themselves, and in certain cases, can turn to self-harm or suicide.

During this year’s COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people have come forward reporting symptoms of depression than ever before, and these feelings are very real. Increased stress, employment insecurity, working from home and social isolation have all certainly contributed to additional cases of situational depression in Thunder Bay and around the world. And for those who were already experiencing chronic depression before the pandemic, their health has deteriorated further.

The good news is that no matter whether you are suffering from depression or you are simply feeling down in the dumps, no one has to face their challenges alone.

It’s ok to reach out for support – whether you turn to family, friends or professional counselling. The answer may be a listening ear from a friend to cheer you up, or support from a professional.

Being open and honest about how you feel should never make you feel ashamed or uncomfortable – no matter the reason. The key is to understand what being “depressed” actually means for those around us who are genuinely coming to terms with or struggling with a mental illness. So, let’s talk about our feelings, seek support from others and break down barriers, but let’s not overuse the word depression as a simple, everyday word just because we’ve run out of chocolate.

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Working from Home: Changing How and Where We Work.

As many of us work from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, work-life balance seems to be essential in maintaining our physical and mental well-being. If you are like me, and have forgot what day it is, or easily lose track of time, you aren’t alone. This is a big change, and challenge. This is the first time that a lot of us are working from home, and it all happened very suddenly. It hasn’t been easy.

I’ve been trying to set boundaries between my work and personal life and find that maintaining a regular routine really helps. When this first started, I would generally roll out of bed in my pj’s to the sound of my alarm clock, and not change all day. But that routine got old and left me feeling pretty lousy and sluggish. One of the big challenges when it comes to working remotely is keeping work and our home lives separate. Those lines can become very blurry, and if you’re never fully disconnected from work, everything suffers.

Writing out a schedule that you’re committed to Monday to Friday, definitely makes this experience more enjoyable.  Things listed on my daily agenda, include waking up at least an hour before I have to clock-in, taking a shower, changing into some day-time clothes (I don’t think my boss really appreciated my new look on zoom meetings), eating breakfast away from my computer and even ensuring a definite end to my work day (setting a period of time where you’re not allowed to work or check your work email is key for recharging).  This helped not only in disconnecting work from my home life, but also with my productivity and limiting the amount of distractions at home. I wasn’t as tempted to venture to the fridge for a snack every half hour and felt like I had actually accomplished something.

Speaking of which, the at-home distractions were also a major hurdle for me. A knock at the door from the neighbour, those dirty dishes in the sink, that show you didn’t finish on tv last night, family and pets that don’t realize that you are actually trying to work even though you are still at home the interruptions have been endless and all very tempting. Things that worked for me: I created an office space that was isolated from our living area with doors closed, do not disturb signs, and headphones. To brighten up my work area, I also try to add fresh flowers from the garden, and open up the window for fresh air and sunlight as much as possible.

During the pandemic, it has been easier for people to lose a sense of control, so focusing on areas in my life in which I do have control, has also been important to me to stay focused and positive. This inspired me to really check-in on what I was eating, what time I have been going to bed, the amount of exercise I was getting, if I was connecting with my friends and family virtually (and how often), and how much I was even going outside. I quickly realized there were areas of improvement in all categories to help me work toward a healthier well-being.

Other quick tips I found useful as I work from home:

  • Don’t forget to move. I felt like a 40 year only living in a 100 year old body after the first month. I now schedule in daily walks during my lunch break.
  • Water. I try to have a full water bottle beside me at all times. This also helps with the regular snacking.
  • Have some patience. Not only with others, but yourself.
  • Limit the time you spend on zoom. Take breaks between meetings.
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Believe in Change. A Blog by Thunder Bay Counselling.

As we turn online to connect with one another and adapt to staying at home, Thunder Bay Counselling is pleased to launch our new Believe in Change Blog.

Believe in Change shares real experiences, tips and information on a variety of personal and family wellness issues.

We can all learn from each other and start ending social stigmas though more open conversations. Believe in Change is about community. It reflects the journeys of people from all walks of life and encourages us to think about the positive changes we can make in our lives.

Believe in Yourself... Believe in Others... Believe in Change.

If you have a topic or question you want us to learn more about, get in touch.

*This blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice or therapy.

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