The Empathic Blog

Diving Deeper Into Topics that Motivate and Inspire

Posted by Lindsay Melka on November 21, 2016

Am I Addicted?

It can be a scary thought to think that you may be addicted to alcohol or drugs. Most people begin to notice signs of losing control but feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about it. Other people avoid taking a closer look at their consumption and thus end up kind of “pretending” that it’s not really there. I’ve worked in addiction treatment for several years and know that admitting you have a problem is one of the hardest things for people to do. Why is this? Well, admitting you are addicted means that you might have to stop. That can be terrifying. No more parties? No more wine at nice restaurants? No more pills to get me through the day? Scary!

 

Or not.

 

There is a benefit of getting help before your problems with drugs or alcohol turn into a full-blown Am I Addicted? Lindsay Melka, Denver COirreversible disease. There are people who can get a hold of their substance use before it gets worse. There are many who can not. Both options are good.

 

Pretty much everyone I know who has had to quit, you know, get totally sober, is happy they did. Chances are your life wasn’t so great if your drinking or using was out of control. It probably became less and less enjoyable and you ended up spending more time trying to control it then actually enjoying it.

 

It’s normal and expected to think that life without your drug of choice will be lonely, boring and maybe unmanageable. I’m here to tell you that that is rarely the case. It’s interesting. All of a sudden people get sober and they realize there are a ton of other people who are as well. When we’re actively using/drinking, we think everyone else is too. Like attracts like, right?

 

If you’re not quite ready to give total abstinence a shot, why not try to cut back, or abstain temporarily? If you find this too difficult, maybe it’s time to get some help with learning how to manage it, or quit for good. Nine times out of ten, if you’re truly struggling with a problem, stopping on your own may prove to be very difficult. Maybe you can quit for a week or a month, but then what?

 

End Your Struggle with Addiction

 

Are you having a hard time giving up drugs or alcohol? Are there times when you feel you can control it and other times where you can’t? Maybe you’ve started on the path to recovery already. Or you’ve tried to stop using drugs or alcohol before, but haven’t been successful. Perhaps you’re already part of a 12 step program and are looking for something more. No matter where you are, or how far you have left to go, therapy can begin to help you end your struggle with addiction.

 

It takes a lot of courage to seek help for a substance abuse problem. I am happy to see that there appears to be less and less of a stigma attached to addiction and there are definitely more people reaching out and talking about it. It’s encouraging to see! Best part is, treatment can work and people recover from addiction everyday. Like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully. You may hear the common analogy that addiction is like diabetes, you will always have it, but it can be taken care of and controlled. It is entirely possible (and likely) that you will live a normal everyday life. Actually, most folks in recovery end up living better lives than they could have ever imagined as a direct result of sobriety. More on this in later blogs..

 

What Does Your Road to Recovery Look Like?

 

How does this work? Well the road to recovery is never the same for two people and therapy will look a little different for everyone. You may discover that you have unresolved pain that led you to substance use. You may discover that there wasn’t really anything leading up to this, that using “socially” turned into something more. Maybe you inherited the disease? Whatever the case, therapy can help you get you back on track and take a closer look at what you can do to get better.


Lindsay Melka LPC Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver

Lindsay Melka, LPC

Empathic Counseling and Therapy


If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact me here.

Posted by Lindsay Melka on November 11, 2016

5 Great Ways Counseling Can Help

Counseling as an Aid to Reach Your Full Potential

You don’t need a diagnosable mental health condition to seek out extra help. Maybe you’re experiencing some roadblocks, some barrier that’s getting in the way of you achieving your goals and reaching your full potential.

How exactly does counseling help?

 

Asking for Help

  • Asking for help can get you started on a different path. It can help you navigate your way through some indecision, or even find deeper meaning in your life.

Clarity and Goal Setting

  • Counseling can help you clarify what is truly important to you by becoming more aware of your core values and using this information to guide, inspire and motivate you to improve your life for the better. What do you want your life to be about? Setting goals can be a very important part of your journey to your better self.

Are you looking to:5 Great ways Counseling Can Help, Lindsay Melka, Denver , CO

Achieve more?

Improve your self confidence?

Feel happier?

Feel less stressed?

Find a new career?

Have more satisfying relationships?

Rediscover or discover what you’re passionate about?

Increase your motivation to change?

Increase your life satisfaction?

Suffer less from depression and anxiety?

Space and Focus

  • Counseling provides the opportunity to create a space where you can take a few moments and think deeply about your life. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to be different, better, more satisfying? Are there areas of lack? Do you feel as if something is missing?

Share your Troubles and Concerns

  • Counseling gives you the opportunity to get real and get honest about what’s happening in your life. It feels sooooo good to get “stuff” off your chest. The relief you feel sharing your troubles can be immensely healing. As the saying goes, a problem aired is a problem shared. Talking about things with another person takes the power out of it. It’s like taking super heavy objects out of your emotional backpack. Make sense??

Focus

  • You can start to get on with your life and focus on what matters. Think about how much time and energy is spent mulling over your troubles. It’s exhausting and it need not be!

Counseling can help you break through emotional barriers and get back on track. A better version of your life is waiting.


Lindsay Melka LPC Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver

Lindsay Melka, LPC

Empathic Counseling and Therapy


If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact me here.

Posted by Lindsay Melka on October 29, 2016

Signs That You May Have an Anxiety Disorder

Your Struggle With Anxiety Has Cost You

Maybe it has cost you time, energy, deep and painful regret, financial burden, lost moments, lost celebrations, restricted freedom, missed opportunities and damaged or strained relationships with those whom you love and trust.  Below is a list of common things people do and feel when they struggle with anxiety and fear. Look it over. Do any of these apply to you? If so, you may have an anxiety disorder and could find relief in participating in counseling.

  • Avoiding situations or activities that bring on anxious thoughts, feelings and memories (e.g. going to a party, speaking at a meeting, going outside, being in a crowd, experiencing a new situation, driving, working)
  • Signs of a Anxiety Disorder, Lindsay Melka, Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver COFeeling constantly overwhelmed
  • Fear of losing control
  • Distracting yourself from anxiety, fear and worrisome thoughts
  • Being in a state of uneasiness, apprehension; as about future uncertainties
  • A heightened fear of what people think of you
  • Self-doubt and low self-esteem
  • Fear resulting from anticipation about realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation
  • Fear of dying
  • Feeling like you’re going crazy
  • Inability to rest; sleep problems
  • Heart palpitations
  • Stomach aches and or nausea
  • Neck tension or headaches

Although the above list includes common symptoms, this is by no means an exhaustive list. A more thorough and formal explanation of what an anxiety disorder looks like can be found in the DSM-V (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). For example, some of the diagnostic criteria includes:

The presence of excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. Worry occurs more often than not for at least 6 months and is clearly excessive.

Excessive worry means worrying even when there is nothing wrong, or in a manner that is disproportionate to actual risk. This typically involves spending a high percentage of waking hours worrying about something. The worry may be accompanied by reassurance-seeking from others.

In adults, the worry can be about job responsibilities or performance, one’s own health or the health of family members, financial matters, and other everyday, typical life circumstances. Of note, in children, the worry is more likely to be about their abilities or the quality of their performance (for example, in school).

The worry is experienced as very challenging to control.

Worry in both adults and children may shift from one topic to another.

The anxiety and worry is associated with at least 3 of the following physical or cognitive symptoms (In children, only 1 symptom is necessary for a diagnosis of GAD.):

  1. Edginess or restlessness.
  2. Tiring easily; more fatigued than usual.
  3. Impaired concentration or feeling as though the mind goes blank.
  4. Irritability (which may or may not be observable to others).
  5. Increased muscle aches or soreness.
  6. Difficulty sleeping (due to trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, restlessness at night, or unsatisfying sleep).

Many individuals with GAD also experience symptoms such as sweating, nausea or diarrhea.

The anxiety, worry, or associated symptoms make it hard to carry out day-to-day activities and responsibilities. They may cause problems in relationships, at work, or in other important areas.

These symptoms are unrelated to any other medical conditions and cannot be explained by the effect of substances including a prescription medication, alcohol or recreational drugs.

These symptoms are not better explained by a different mental disorder. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013)

Effective therapy and counseling can significantly reduce or eliminate symptoms associated with anxiety in a relatively short time, allowing you the ability to resume regular activities and regain a sense of control. Although some may not be able to identify the cause of their anxiety, after attending a few therapy sessions, many people are able to find the source of their struggle and work through this in more depth with their therapist. Psychotherapy aims to identify and address the source of the anxiety rather than treating the symptom alone.  The self reflective process of therapy helps people understand, unhinge and transform anxiety.

Counseling may also include some homework. There are a number of exercises that will provide you with new perspectives- leading to new experiences. Doing work outside of sessions will help you make contact with what works and what doesn’t. Some work may entail helping you feel worries, anxieties and fears-but will show you how you can experience all of them without acting on them. Understanding this logically is helpful, but only experiencing it yourself will make a difference in your life. Therapy can help you and work for you – but only if you work with it!

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.


Lindsay Melka LPC Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver

Lindsay Melka, LPC

Empathic Counseling and Therapy


If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact mehere.

Posted by Lindsay Melka on October 20, 2016

Is it Depression?

Many people wonder if they’re really depressed. Often times they think their mood is attributed to “just life stuff”. You know, work-stress, marital difficulties, a few too many beers.  It can be difficult to recognize when it’s more than that. People may be scared of the diagnosis, the meaning behind the word depression, the implications. Depression is actually quite common, and with the right help, very treatable. There are different levels of depression. One may think they have to be incapacitated, suicidal or totally hopeless to really be depressed. This is not the case. There are several indicators of depression and whether you experience three or ten symptoms, it really doesn’t matter.  Long story short, if you feel sad, you can get help and you can get better.

Symptoms of Depression

So…Are you depressed? The symptoms of depression may surprise you…or not.  Symptoms of depression tend to look like this:

 

Feelings of hopelessness

Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or shame

Irritability

No longer enjoying what you used to

No longer interested in social engagement

Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, making decisions

Persistent aches or pains, headaches or stomach aches

Loss of appetite or overeating

Loss of sex drive

Insomnia or sleeping too much

Persistent sad or angry feelings

Thoughts of suicide

 

Recognizing the symptoms of depression is often the biggest step you can take towards recovery. Is it Depression, Lindsay Melka LPC, Denver COSomething doesn’t feel right and you know it, but you aren’t quite sure what to do about it.  Dealing with depression can be difficult and participating in counseling can help. You don’t have to be a total mess to seek out a therapist! Therapy can help you identify what’s happening in the present moment, preventing you from feeling worse down the road. Maybe it is just some family discord, your tyrant of a boss or some serious boredom. Whatever the concern, talking to a professional certainly can’t hurt.

 

What happens in therapy?

 

In a nutshell, counseling can help you identify destructive thoughts that get you down and help you understand where those thoughts come from-thus teaching you how to cope.

Therapy for depression often involves examining how the interaction among thoughts, feelings and behavior impacts your well being, then helps change the interaction to produce greater life satisfaction. On a much bigger and philosophical scale-you can begin to develop a new relationship with pain and suffering and reach beyond your pain, finding a larger sense of purpose.  The therapeutic process can help you learn how to create self -compassion and mindfulness skills to help get you through the tough stuff. On a less clinical note, it can feel really good to just talk to someone. Someone who is not your friend or family member. You may be surprised what comes out-in a good way. It can feel like a ton of bricks off your chest. It can also feel really painful. That happens too. Great thing is, once is out there, out in the open, in can be processed, healed. “A problem aired is a problem shared”. Old saying for the importance of sharing yourself and your problems. Side note- it’s helpful to remember some of the catchy sayings because they tend to hold some truth. Really.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, sadness or overall discontent, it may be in your best interest to talk to someone about it. I cannot stress how normal these feelings are. You are not alone. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel better, regardless of what’s going on.

Lindsay Melka LPC Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver

Lindsay Melka, LPC

Empathic Counseling and Therapy


If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact me here.

 

 

Posted by Lindsay Melka on October 13, 2016

Men Thrive in Therapy

Asking for Help

Men seek help less. It’s true. But- this is changing. The stigma is diminishing and men are coming to Men thrive in Therapy, Lindsay Melka Denver COcounseling more than ever before. Why is this? Do they see the benefit? Are they hearing about it from other men? Is their spouse asking them to come?

It’s not like its inherent or biologically determined that men seek help less. It’s learned. Men learn that they should be able to do it on their own. They learn to be tough, stoic and strong. So what does it mean if they ask for help? Are they not tough, stoic or strong? No. That’s not what that means. Asking for help is a sign of strength.

Seeking guidance from a therapist is a courageous step for a man to take. It’s admitting that they are struggling with something that feels beyond their control. Admitting this is the first step in what could potentially be, very powerful change.

How does therapy help?

When men share shameful, embarrassing, or unpleasant thoughts with a nonjudgmental, empathic therapist, they can feel relieved, normal and sane. They may realize, for the first time, that what they are thinking and feeling is actually very normal for many men. This alone can empower men to share emotions that may have bottled up for months, even years. When men start to release the weight of negative thoughts and feelings, they can begin to see what’s been happening inside for all this time. They are better able to see patterns, self-talk and resentments that are no longer serving them.

How do men thrive?

Through therapeutic work, men can learn to look inward, self-reflect and gain new awareness of their thoughts and feelings. When you can take a step back, observe yourself and get objective perspectives, you can facilitate change in your life.

When men learn that gaining emotional control directly contributes to regaining control in their personal and professional lives, change happens. Learning to regulate one’s emotions can contribute to success in all areas of a man’s life.

Case Example:

A man comes in to therapy with an anger problem. His problem with anger is causing marital distress, irritability, depression and conflict at work. He is drinking more and the drinking almost always contributes to anger outbursts. He lists the many reasons why he is so angry and shares that “if that person” or “that situation” were to change or be different, he would be “okay”. Throughout the course of therapy he begins to learn that he has little to no control over people, places and things. He learns that anger is a secondary emotion and that there is something happening deep below the surface. He discovers that he feels inadequate, scared and hopeless. His career is unfulfilling and he feels he is letting his family down. He’s struggled with depression for many years and has drank to avoid the feelings that come along with this. Soon, over the course of counseling, he discovers that he can actually manage his emotions. He can learn healthy coping skills and begin to notice triggers and thought patterns that contributed to his struggle with anger. He develops new insight around his behaviors and makes conscious decisions to change them.  He sees small improvement, reinforcing the new behaviors and begins to live a more fulfilling, valued life. This is just one example how transformative therapeutic work can be.

How do you know if it’s time for some counseling?

Listen to your gut. Does something feel off? Maybe you’re tired of dealing with unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Maybe someone suggested it. There is no harm in checking it out and seeing if counseling could be beneficial for you. Life does not have to be completely out of whack for one to get some guidance, feedback and support. Who knows, you might actually enjoy it!

Lindsay Melka LPC Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lindsay Melka, LPC

Empathic Counseling and Therapy


If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact me here.