Archive for the 'Depression' Category

My Four Month Struggle

I have been a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in Florida for awhile now, however I relocated to Pennsylvania and my licensure has been a difficult process. I had reciprocity in Pennsylvania, with my license, and sent all of my documents but it seemed that I frequently needed to have other things completed for the full process.  I’m not putting the blame on me, on Florida, or on Pennsylvania, but it was an undertaking that I wasn’t expecting to take so long.  I think as a therapist, we don’t discuss our feelings openly but I am a person with real emotions and feelings.  This was a difficult emotional struggle as I felt like things were out of my hands, out of my control, and a constant frustration.  I’m happy to say, my frustrations have come to an end, I finally received my license and it’s a relief that I can move forward and open my own practice.  I am officially a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Pennsylvania.


True Life | My Struggle with an Eating Disorder

When people think of eating disorders, they typically think of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.  However, many people struggle with compulsive overeating and/or binge eating.  Mandy is a beautiful woman who is sharing her story and struggles of how she got help and thrived.  I met her on Instagram and feel like we have become friends, even though we never met in person.  Mandy identifies in her story when she needed help and appropriate coping skills, and knows what works for her and what does not.  She is inspiring for all.

Hey Everyone,

My name is Mandy and what you read below is my story and journey to a healthier me.  It started my freshmen year of high school; I was cheerleader and played soccer. I loved it, but after some dramatic events I was no longer allowed to be a cheerleader and I gave up my love for soccer, out of fear that they would not let be on the team. I ate my feelings and by the end of the year gained 15-20 pounds and went from a size 6 to a size 12. Hence, in high school life I was overweight, and was nicknamed “butterface,” as in everything is ugly but-her-face. I was never asked to a dance, or prom, and had to retreat to asking friends from church. On some occasions I had a boyfriend who would take me to their school’s dance or come with me to mine and was lucky enough to have two high-school sweethearts that saw past my image. However, the drama of high school life naturally occurred and we broke up.

Going into college I felt pretty despite all the drama of high school life, but again noticed that it was all my roommates that were getting asked to date parties with fraternity guys, and not being in a sorority at the time I didn’t have the luxury of asking friends to date parties of my own. Into the middle of my freshmen year I met a college love, who again was able to look past my image and see me for who I was. I got comfortable with him and over the three years we were together I gained twenty pounds. Although he was a sweetheart we split our ways and I went off to graduate school.

While pursing my masters I was in a long-distance relationship (I was in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and he was in Washington, DC) and stressed I ate my way through the pain of being over a thousand miles apart, a whole twenty pounds worth. Needless to say the distance got to us, and we broke up.

During the summer of my Masters degree I met an amazing man who would change my life for forever, my fiancé. Again I got comfortable, and ate my way through another fifteen pounds and while I would love to tell you all of the details of my fairy tale romance this posting is how I got healthy and so I will leave the rest to just that!

So what lead to my ultimate decision to start a lifestyle change? It was a Monday morning in October and it was the day I tried on wedding dresses for the first time. It was suppose to be one of the best days ever, you know, the Kodak moment that a majority of girls grow up dreaming about. I had asked my two role models, my mom and my grandma, to come with me to be part of the experience. We made an appointment, I met with the bridal consultant, and she began by taking my measurements. She informed me that I was a size 22 and that they only carried a “few” gowns in my size. Not wanting to break down in front of my family, I put on the dresses they had in my size and walked out saddened, as they were the farthest things away from what I had dreamed! I put my clothes back on, we walked out of the store and laughed about the dresses I tried on, while inside I dreaded every going back to a bridal store.

Later that night was the Monday Night football game, and as always they present the statistics of the starting lineup. My mouth dropped as I realized I weighed more than a professional linebacker, but again I hid behind my true feelings. During the halftime show I wanted to work on a paper and when I went to sit on the couch my computer cable broke from my weight. I couldn’t take it anymore and I dropped to my knees crying at how I got so unhealthy.

My fiancé being the Prince he is, wiped away my tears and told me I was beautiful. When I told him I didn’t have money for surgery, or diet pills he said I didn’t need those. So we talked it through and decided that I would sign up for Weight Watchers. I can honestly say that I had no idea that a year from that day I would have lost 63 pounds, 14 dress sizes, 10 jean sizes, 3 shirt sizes, have to get my ring taken in 2.5 sizes, and even lose 1.5 shoe sizes. While the physical successes are amazing what I was not prepared for was the emotional journey that would also take place.

While Weight Watchers and exercise helped manage my weight I had to realize that I put personal love for others, heartbreak, pain and food into the same basket, thus when I was in love and comfortable or in pain due to a heartbreak or high school drama I ate…A LOT! This was by far my biggest challenge.

Being in a relationship it is fun to go out on dates to restaurants and splurge and get appetizers, entrees, and dessert and sometimes it still is fun, but now I do so in moderation. Being in relationship it is also fun to bake, eat ice cream bed, or order pizza and power watch shows on Netflix. Breaking these habits was and still is my biggest challenge. If I had a bad day at school (got a bad grade, received bad feedback, got rejected from a journal or conference) I would change my attitude by comforting myself with eating something delicious, such as candy, a pint of ice cream, and/or a batch of cookies.

Learning to break these habits when they felt so natural was, and has been an incredible challenge. However, it is something I had to cope with as I realized that these things aren’t going to go away. I will always want to go on fancy dates with my future husband, and I will always have bad days at school/work. I needed to learn techniques on how to handle these so I self-taught myself a few tricks. I learned that if I was going to enjoy a night out, that it meant I was going to be splitting a meal with my prince, therefore eating the right size portions, and if I had a bad day there were other methods to decrease my stress/improve my attitude which included working out, watching a show on Netflix, playing the guitar or reading a book for pleasure.

While I still get tempted to order dessert or my own entrée I realize that the small choices add up to mountains of success (scale and non-scale victories), and that working out, watching a show, playing the guitar or reading a book provided several more benefits than a pint of ice-cream ever could! Thus, my suggestion for breaking bad habits is replacing them with better habits. If you are a stress eater, find something that relaxes you, for instance taking a bubble bath, playing a video game, playing dress up with your children, writing poetry, and/or making picture collages. One thing I recently thought of that I plan on doing myself is creating a relax jar, where you write a bunch of activities that relax you, and when you are stressed you go to the jar and randomly select an activity to relax you. Sometimes when you are stressed, you are even too stressed to think of something to do that relaxes you, however, if you have a relax jar with activities already thought out, all you have to do is go and pull one out, and you are off to doing something that is more relaxing!

Another challenge I have had to overcome in this journey to a healthier me is realizing I am no longer fat. For so long (15 years to be exact) I have thought of myself as ugly, fat, overweight, chunky, thick, big-boned, and a “butterface.” Sometimes I look at pictures of me now and have to do a double take to realize that the girl in the picture is actually ME. I went from a dress size 22 to a size 6/8 and in some stores/brands even a size 4. That is a dramatic difference and one that every morning I have to come to terms with. I have to take the time and realize that I am beautiful, healthy, active, unique, and that while I may have been unhealthy all those years, I never was fat or ugly. Those were terms I associated with myself due to low self-esteem. So yes, I have days when I get on the scale, try on clothes, or look in the mirror and look fat, but I slowly notice that the number on the scale doesn’t matter, that my clothes look good on me, and that I am by no means “fat.”  I have to tell my “fat brain” to stop talking and let my “healthy brain” take over!

As I began gaining confidence in myself, I wanted to share my success with others. I began posting before and current pictures (I say current as we are constantly a work in progress) on Facebook and I received mixed feedback. I would get lots of “likes” as well as positive comments, but I also received unwelcomed feedback about me posting pictures in my sports bras. So I decided to go another avenue and try Instagram. I already had an account but I rarely used it as I was not quite sure how to. After following a couple of inspirational individuals, and getting the hang of it, I realized that I wanted to inspire other women and men so I decided to use my account as a way to share my journey to a healthier me.

I remember waking up to a comment one morning from my friend Katie that said “Transformation Tuesday” while I was familiar with the hashtag (#) and phrase I never thought of myself as someone who had transformed, it was the biggest compliment I have ever received at the time and tears fell from my eyes. While I have heard praises and compliments from friends and family regarding my weight loss, at the time no one had ever told me that I have completely transformed myself, and looked like a new person. Since then I have received numerous compliments from friends, family members, peers, colleagues and total strangers that it is hard to pinpoint which one was the biggest, or most powerful. However, the one Katie said that morning, is one that will always stick out to me as a moment of my own transformation into the realization that I am a new, healthier, me!

To those of you reading this who share similarities, or have stories that are completely different than my own but still have struggles related to stress and heartbreak that has lead to problems associated to poor eating habits, please know that all we can do is take it one day at a time. Some days and weeks will be great and powerful, while others will be hard and brutal, but remember it is not a bad life, it is only a bad moment, you will get past this, move on, and you too will be a success!

With my greatest love and sentiments,


You can follow Mandy on Instagram.

Bears Support Mental Health

For those who know me, know I am a big fan of Chicago.  I have to say, after this play, I am an even bigger fan.  Brandon Marshall, of the Chicago Bear’s, supported Mental Health Awareness Week by playing in green cleats.  Despite the NFL’s possibilities of fines, Marshall stated he will match the fines and make a donation to cancer research.  He is supporting both Mental Health Awareness and Breast Cancer Awareness.  What a quality guy!

For more information. 

Bears Support Mental Health

Mental Health Awareness Week 2013

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week; Mental health advocates across the country join with others in their communities to sponsor activities, large or small, for public education about mental illness.  I think this is so great to support others and spread the work that people may be suffering and it’s okay and there is nothing wrong with it.  It normalizes it for them so the individual may feel more comfortable to seek the help they may need whether from a family member, a friend, and/or a professional.

I recently heard of a friend from high school who was suffering and did not get the help she needed.  My heart goes out to her family and friends who she touched. People who are suffering don’t realize how much they impoact others and I think it is so important to acknowledge that everyone means something to someone.

“Knowledge is power.” Francis Bacon



Taking Care of Oneself

It is always important to take care of oneself.  Many times we spend money on our physical beauty: hair, nails, clothing, etc… However, it is sometimes a bandaid for what is going on for the emotional self.

How are you taking care of your emotional self?  How are you eating?  Are you working out?  Are you expressing yourself or holding things in?  Are you going to the doctor regularly?  All of these are ways to take care of yourself.  Many times people get busy in their life and they become neglectful; neglectful to themselves.

Regular doctor checkups aren’t a priority, excuses are made about going to the gym and/or finding a way to exercise, fast food becomes more convenient, weight is put on, emotional barriers are layering.  I have heard and seen this cycle many times.

When do you get ahold of your life to say:

  • I want to be happier
  • I want to be healthier
  • I want to feel better

When is the question?  Are you going to start today or put it off for tomorrow?

Make your life and your happiness your priority.  Spend the extra money to go to the gym, spend the extra money to make better food choices, spend the extra money to go to the doctor, spend the extra money to get the help you need to get your life in the line you want and need it to be, to be happier.  In the end, the extra money will increase your quality of life and will make it more enjoyable.

Neurofeedback & Sleep Problems

I received an email from someone:
“My husband suffers from sleep apnea.  Can you help?”

Yes, neurofeedback can help with sleep apnea.  Sleep is central to the natural repair and restoration process that maintains each part of our mind and body. Neurofeedback helps the Central Nervous System (CNS) to release old and unhelpful patterns. This allows sleep to renormalize. When sleep renormalizes, your memory will work better, energy increases, and overall functioning improves. You will have better attention, focus, and concentration.

What can Neurofeedback do for sleep?

Neurofeedback returns irregular sleep patterns to normal, improving both sleep quality and quantity. Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis provides many benefits.

Problems with Sleep:

Sleep can become disrupted and unproductive in many ways. The occasional interrupted sleep, does not have lasting effects. Problems occur when the disruptions are repeated or chronic.

Repeated difficulties  with sleep will compromise your physical health, immune system, and brain functioning. Using caffeine, sugar, and other chemicals to help you stay awake night after night will make the situation worse.

People are often awake against their will. Such problems include insomnia, chronic pain, restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement, myoclonic twitches, acute injury, bereavement, stress, and certain psychological disorders, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Panic, apnea, and other breathing-related disorders will also interfere with sleep.

Functions of Sleep:

Learning, declarative/factual memory, and emotional processing happen during REM sleep (which happens at the end of each sleep cycle).
Maintain cognitive vigilance – the ability to notice and gather new information.
Maintain the ability to learn – to integrate new information into the old.
Immune system restoration and surveillance. This happens during the earlier parts of each sleep cycle.
Body growth and maintenance. Your metabolic (energy system) and your somatic (physical body parts) are repaired and developed during the nonREM parts of your sleep cycles.
Sleep is primarily a physiologic process that restores both somatic (overall body) and neuronal (nerves, brain) integrity. You are essentially getting a “tune-up” when you get your required number of sleep cycles.
As sleepiness rises, awareness of poor performance declines. There is a decrease in prefrontal cortex activity, which is where our executive functions occur.

These include:
Working memory
Inhibiting responses to distracting stimuli
Connections with hippocampus to help create longer term memory
Interactions with other parts of the brain to produce cognition (thinking)
Mood regulation
Help understand social situations
Strategic planning
Seeing the big picture while noticing the details
Being aware of one’s situation

If you have any further questions about the benefits of neurofeedback, please contact me at 954-217-2444 x17.

Singles Support Group in Coral Springs: Week 1

Tonight was the first night, of a 6 week program, of the Singles’s Support Group in Coral Springs.  The group meets on Monday nights at 7pm and is for women to talk about their struggles, anxieties, and overcome their barriers relating to dating.  By having a group, it helps people relate to each other and normalize their daily struggles.

Each week will have a different topic and theme.  Tonight’s group was about looking at routines and evaluating how it impacts one’s love life.  A lot of times people get stuck in a routine and they don’t understand where it started.  By being able to identify were the difficulties are and how to change them is most important.

If you would like to attend next week’s group, please contact me at 954.217.2444×17 or email.


Therapy- dating postcard2