When pregnancy after a loss doesn't feel like a rainbow

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You've experienced a perinatal loss and now you are pregnant again. The response of some people may be "I am so excited" or "I feel so lucky to be pregnant after a loss" but what if that isn't your response?  What if your response sounds more like "I am terrified or nervous" or "what if it happens again?". 

A rainbow baby is defined as a baby that is born after a miscarriage or stillbirth. In life a rainbow appears after a storm. The storm is perinatal loss and the rainbow is your beautiful baby that has emerged from the darkness (Urban Dictonary). While being able to get pregnant after a loss can be a relief and joy, it can also bring about a mixture of emotions.

Here are some common emotions that you may experience during a rainbow pregnancy:

Anxiety- Many couples experience intense anxiety during a pregnancy with a rainbow baby. After a loss your sense of security is gone. You may worry constantly about the health of your pregnancy. Women can have difficult times attaching to their pregnancies depending on physical symptoms for reassurance or worrying at the absence of them. You may feel like you will jinx the pregnancy if you start to plan for a baby; telling family and friends you are pregnant, buying items to bring the baby home, picking out names or even just getting excited about the pregnancy. Simple check-ups at the doctors office can turn into anxiety and nightmares. Even every day tasks can seem daunting as you worry about how it will effect the well being of your pregnancy.

Depression- You may feel intense feelings of sadness about your loss. You may have guilt about feeling happy or sad. Some couples wait until they have processed their loss before they start trying again, while others may start trying right away. Whether or not you waited to start trying again, getting pregnant again can bring such a sense of relief but it can also bring up feelings of sadness that you may have thought were gone. 

Grief- While you might have felt that you processed your grief from your loss, a pregnancy after a loss may bring up some of your grief again. It can feel like this pregnancy is supposed to replace your loss. You may struggle with honoring the child you lost while also honoring the child you are pregnant with. It may be an internal struggle to sit with your feelings of grief while also being happy for the new life inside of you.

If you are feeling mixed emotions about being pregnant again, you are not alone. How you feel about your pregnancy may change each day if not each hour. Anxiety, Depression and Grief are common emotions but so are Happiness, Relief and Hope. 

If you experiencing intense emotions during your rainbow pregnancy you are not alone. For counseling services please contact Kull Counseling, LLC at 608.239.4807 or email julie@kullcounselingmadison.com. For information on support groups please contact Bereaved Parents of Madison,

How to support someone suffering from anxiety

Anxiety is our body's natural response to a perceived threat. We all experience anxiety now and again when dealing with the stressors of life. However, many people experience such severe anxiety that it interferes with daily life and makes it extremely difficult to perform at work, maintain relationships; or start/finish tasks.   

The following highlights some common signs of anxiety and some questions to ask yourself to determine if your friend, family or loved one may be exhibiting those signs.

Common signs and questions to ask yourself to determine if a loved one has anxiety

1. Worry - Do they worry a lot? Do they worry about things they have little control over? Are they uncomfortable in situations that they cannot control?

2. Irritability - Do they feel keyed up, sometimes on edge?

3. Stress - Do they have a hard time feeling calm or an inability to relax?

4. Rumination - Do they have a hard time letting go of things- ruminating on something that was said or done a while after the incident occurred.

5. Negative thinking - Does this person have a lot of negative self talk or view of the world?

If these symptoms sound familiar, your loved one might be suffering from anxiety. The good news is you can help! Below are several Important tips to being a helpful and supportive ally, including several things to avoid when trying to support someone with anxiety:

1. Be a support person. Let this person talk to you about their feelings and emotions. Try not to judge what they are saying. 

2. Learn about about anxiety. The more you know the more you can be supportive. If you find anxiety frustrating, imagine how this person might feel. Think about a time when you felt anxious and how that felt. Imagine feeling that way every day or for prolonged periods of time.

3. Encourage the positives. Suggest positive coping skills such as: regular exercise, meditation, mindfulness, balanced nutrition, avoidance of caffeine and alcohol. Reinforce rational thinking and  help them try to avoid thoughts that are irrational.

Are you worried you may say the wrong thing? To help guide your conversation below are some hurtful phrases along with some more encouraging ones.

Hurtful-

"You should try to relax." "Don't worry about it." "Please try to calm down."

Helpful-

"How can I help?" "I am here to talk if you need someone." "I noticed that you did x even though you were really worried about it, I am proud of you."

Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out because you won’t say the ‘right” thing. By talking to someone who is struggling with anxiety, you are already taking an important first step in making them feel heard, supported, and understood.

If someone you love is suffering from anxiety and needs help please contact Kull Counseling, LLC at 608.239.4807 or julie@kullcounselingmadison.com.

5 things no one tells you about a miscarriage

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A miscarriage is defined as the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks. It is estimated that 1 in 5 women will have a miscarriage. While many women have a miscarriage, it still remains a taboo subject, and can be very isolating for a woman to go through. 

5 things no one tells you about a miscarriage:

1.  It is a major loss - Going through a miscarriage is a major loss; whether you were 4 weeks pregnant or 20 weeks pregnant. Every woman has a different reaction and experience with miscarriage, and needs time to process and grieve what they have gone through.

2. The physical process can last weeks, if not months - Some women will miscarry at home while others will require medical interventions. Miscarriages can last weeks before they are completed. Because hormones are in the body some woman can continue to experience pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and weight gain. Once a miscarriage has completed it can take months for a woman's body to acknowledge they are no longer pregnant.

3. The mental process can last longer - Miscarriages are tough to deal with and can make you feel alone. People will try their best to support you and help you through your miscarriage, but may not understand what you are experiencing. In addition many people do not feel comfortable discussing having a miscarriage, which can make it feel isolating when you are experiencing one.

4. Your partner's grief will be different than yours -  It can be difficult to understand how your spouse or significant other feels.  Everyone experiences grief differently. While your grief can be different it is still possible to support each other. Open communication is key in understanding your partners grief.

5. It's okay to want to try again - Medical providers have different recommendations on when you can start trying again. Some for medical reasons and others for emotional/mental readiness. No one can tell you when you will feel ready to try again. It is something that each person will have to assess for herself. 

Each person's experience with miscarriage is completely unique and there is no "right way" to process grief. Not every person that experiences a miscarriage will need extra support, but if you feel like you need support through a miscarriage please contact Kull Counseling, LLC at 608.239.4807 or julie@kullcounselingmadison.com. 

Facebook-helpful or hurtful

Facebook comes up at least once a day in my counseling sessions. Social support and distraction can be two positive coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety. Facebook helps us to reconnect and stay in touch with family or friends. It also provides an "in the moment" distraction to take our minds away from uncomfortable feelings. While this all sounds pretty good there are other effects of using Facebook, and other social media platform.

When someone posts a picture on Facebook they are taking just a small snapshot of their life. Sometimes looking at others' pictures of their perfectly orchestrated photos can leave you with feelings of insecurity, inferiority, sadness or jealousy. Sometimes going onto social media can lead you to a downward spiral of spending hours a day torturing yourself with other people's "happy" lives.

The moral of the story is that social media can be a great tool if you use it right. Connect with others, keep in touch. If you find yourself feeling down or stressed from using social media it might be time to log off.

If you are interested in hearing more about healthy ways to deal with anxiety/or stress please contact Julie C Kull, LCSW at Kull Counseling, LLC. 608.239.4807.

 

Anxiety toolbox

I recently had the pleasure of presenting an anxiety toolbox to the Counseling Staff at Edgewood College. I co-presented with Meagan Geurts of Megan Geurts Counseling. As the Fall semester is about half way over the students are well into mid terms and some even looking ahead to finals in another month. This is also the time of year that anxiety starts to peak with students.

Meagan and I were able to discuss some techniques that we use in our sessions to help our clients. One of my favorite tools that i discussed is 4 square breathing. It is a great exercise that can be used in the moment with anxiety.

4 square breathing looks like this: breath in to the count of 4, hold to the count of 4, exhale to the count of 4 and hold to the count of 4. Repeat until you feel your heart rate begin to come down and your breathing slows down.

When I teach relaxation techniques in my session I remind my clients that it takes practice to learn a new skill. I encourage clients to practice 2-3 times a day for 1-2 weeks.

What techniques do you use to decrease anxiety?

For more techniques to help you cope with anxiety please contact Julie C Kull, LCSW at Kull Counseling. 608.239.4807

How to choose a therapist in Madison, WI

The idea of starting therapy can be a daunting one. Therapy is a very personal process and after a client's readiness for change, your therapeutic relationship can be one of the most important factors on whether or not psychotherapy/counseling is successful for you. Choosing a therapist is not like choosing a primary care doctor. It is someone that you will plan on seeing weekly for months and possibly years. So what should you look for when choosing a therapist? Here are some important things to look for when choosing the therapist that is right for you.

1. Initial Interaction-  From the initial phone call how does this person make you feel?  Do they return your message when they say they will? How do they act on the phone? In person? Is this someone that you can see yourself opening up to? Is this someone you want to spend time with? When you are in their office are they giving you their full attention? Are they engaged?

2. Experience-Has the therapist worked with the issue that you are seeking help for? Have they been successful at helping clients? How can they help you?

3. Cost/Investment- Have you thought about how you will pay for your sessions? Do you need/want  to use insurance? Do you know what  your mental health benefits are?Do you know what your deductible is? If you are not using insurance have you thought about what therapy might cost?  Are you prepared to make an investment in your self?

4. Therapy style- This may be their style of therapy ( e.g., theories they draw upon) but I think that even more important than this, is approach. Are they direct? Are they collaborative? Are the sessions going to be therapist led or client led? What theory or style of approach will work for you and make you most comfortable. Can they provide you with what you need? You may want a therapist that is gentle and client led sessions..but is that what you need?

5. Availability-Is this someone with a full practice and a line outside the door? Will this person be able or willing to respond to you if you are in crisis or have a need to contact your therapist outside the session. Does that matter to you?

Each therapist is very different as is each client and in Madison, WI you have plenty to choose from.  I encourage you to contact a few therapists before making a choice on who you want to see on a regular basis. Over and over I have heard clients say that yes they have been to therapy before usually years ago but that their therapist wasn't a match. Please take the time to find someone that is a good fit for you.

For more information on finding the right therapist or for therapy resources in Madison, WI please contact Kull Counseling, LLC.

 

 

How to survive high school and maybe even enjoy it

For some of us, high school is the best years of our lives. However, for most of us, this does not hold true. High school is a difficult time for most, myself included. It has taken me a good 10-15 years to really appreciate my high school experience and what I learned both in and outside of the classroom.

High school can be a difficult time in your life. High school means bigger schools, more kids, different schedules, and a lot of uncertainty. It is a time of heightened anxiety because it brings about a lot of change and self-discovery, and at the same time adolescents are experiencing a lot of changes physically and emotionally. 

Even if you have the best bag of coping skills, most adolescents have feelings of anxiety, and even some social anxiety, trying to navigate the world of making new friends and finding out who ‘you’ are.

Here are 5 tips for surviving high school (and perhaps, maybe even liking it a bit more):

1. Get Involved - Get involved whether it is playing a sport, acting in a play, playing in the band, or joining a club find something that makes you happy and takes away from the stress of school that you can be a part of outside of the classroom. You will make friends with people you never thought you would connect with.

2. You Are Not Alone - It is important to remember that you are not alone. Many of your peers are in the same boat, going through similar changes and having the same feelings. Some of your peers may appear to love school and have carefree lives, but just remember that everyone has stressors in their life and no one has a perfect life. You do not have to be in the same social group to relate to others.

3. Move your body - You are at school 8 hours a day, if not more, sitting and learning in class. Bodies are meant to be in motion. Find a type of exercise that you like and do it most days a week. Exercise reduces anxiety and improves mood. It also helps you to focus later on that homework that still needs to get done.

4. Teachers Care About You - Your teachers really do care and are there for you with your best interests in mind. Find that teacher that you really connect with and let them support you. Teaching is not glamorous or lucrative. Your teachers are there because they care about you and your education.

5. It's Not Forever - Remember that high school does not last forever; however, you may form relationships and learn things that do. Whether you like it or hate it, it is only 4 years of your life and then you move on. There is a great big world out there waiting for you and you can be whatever you want. You can do this!

For more information on surviving high school and decreasing anxiety please contact Kull Counseling, LLC at 608.239.4807.

 

 

National Eating Disorders Association Eating disorders awareness week

The National Eating Disorders Association eating disorders awareness week is February 21-27. The theme this year is 3 minutes can save a life. Neda is focusing on early intervention and encouraging everyone to take this 3 minute assessment.

http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/NEDA

Eating disorders are the 3rd leading chronic illness among adolescent females. Eating disorders also have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. The focus on early intervention is an important one. The longer a person has an eating disorder, the harder it is to treat and the less likely that a person will go into full remission. As a clinician it is our hope to see clients before they meet the criteria for a full blown eating disorder. Screening early can save lives! I hope you will take 3 minutes out of your day to do this assessment and to pass it on. Please help raise awareness for an important cause!

To learn more about eating disorder treatment please contact Kull Counseling, LLC.

 

5 tips for handling a panic attack

A panic attack is an intense period of uncontrollable anxiety that can last up to ten minutes. Symptoms include increased heart rate, shortness of breath, sweats, chest pain, and can mimic those of a heart attack. Panic attacks can be very intense and scary.

Here are 5 things you can do when experiencing a panic attack:

1. Remove yourself from the situation if possible. If you are driving pull over. If you are in a crowd step to the side.

2. Take a deep breath. Whether this is your 4 square breathing or your yoga breath it does not matter. Find one that works for you and stick with it until the feeling subsides.

3. Remind yourself that you have been here before. You have gotten through these feelings before and you will get through them again.

4. Relax. Find the places in your body that are tense and relax them.

5. Get help! Once that panic attack subsides and you are okay, find a therapist that can help you decrease or stop panic attacks.

For more information on panic attacks or panic disorder please contact me at julie.c.kull@gmail.com.