Positive Parenting: Mental Health Red Flags

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How often have you or someone you know been shocked to discover that a child in your midst is suffering from a significant mental health disorder? The National Institute of Mental Health explains that in 2017, 9.4% of US 12 to 17 year olds, an estimated 2.3 million, had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment. And, according to childtrends.org, “While research on the pandemic’s effects on mental health is still in the early stages, current evidence shows a surge in anxiety and depression among children and adolescents since the pandemic began.”

“When we have less positives going on in our life and more negatives, it increases our stress, MARESA (Marquette-Alger Regional Education Service Agency) school social worker Ann Lacombe explains. At the age a lot of the students I see are at, interactions with peers or sports or people overall is their main positive. When something that’s really fun is taken away from you, it can be rough. I’ve seen a change in the mood of students. They’re dealing with different stressors than they’ve ever had to deal with before. Organized sports are a good environment for making new friends. Being without that made this a really difficult year for students to organically make new friends. Lunch and recess had to be less social than in past years for everyone’s safety. A lot of the fun times students looked forward to looked very different for them.

When a child is suffering from a mental health disorder, the sooner we can step in and support them, the better. LaCombe says red flags to be on the alert for include:

  • Avoiding or missing activities the child used to engage in–sports, time with friends, school in general
  • Changes in sleep patterns—way too much or not at all
  • Changes in eating habits—sudden weight loss or gain
  • Sudden changes in mood—observing body language and facial expressions
  • Hurting themselves or talking about hurting themselves or talking about death
  • Withdrawing from social interactions in general
  • Sudden changes in friendships
  • Substance use
  • Change in performance overall—sudden failing grades, withdrawal from effort in anything


“Trust your gut. I think parents know their kids best. If you get a sense something’s not right, a great first step is approaching the child and saying, ‘Hey, I’m worried about you, and I care about you. How can I support you right now?’ You can open that door to communicating with you and trusting you, even if you don’t get much response right away,” says LaCombe. “Focus on not being judgmental, and no matter what they tell you, not being overly reactive. Let your child know ‘I’m not here to judge you or get you in trouble. I just want to help. I hope you can be honest with me about what’s going on.’ Then look into what additional support may help your child.”

“You can check whether your child’s school guidance counselor has noticed any changes in your child’s behavior, and see what options they may have at school or in the community. If he or she doesn’t want to go to school because of a conflict with a peer, connect with the school on this. Otherwise, meeting with your primary care doctor can be a great place to start so you can get their thoughts and recommendations on where to go. They’ll be able to look at a list of providers that your insurance covers, and also check if something medical is contributing to what your child’s experiencing. Often the first things students with anxiety notice are physical signs—‘My heart is pounding, and I just feel shaky and dizzy.’ This way the doctor can make sure there’s nothing else causing those symptoms outside of a mental health challenge,” adds LaCombe.

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Parents can also contact their school’s social worker. LaCombe says, “If we don’t immediately have an idea of a resource in the community, we’ll get back to them with a resource or article, and look at how else we can support them if we don’t have an answer right away. When parents reach out right away and are interested in making some changes at home, we can see improvements so quickly. It’s so helpful for them to reach out, even if it’s just asking questions and for resources. We’re happy to do that.”

Another resource is North Care Network, which can do a screening to see if you qualify for community mental health services, and if not, point you to other options available.

LaCombe reminds, “There’s nothing wrong with asking someone if there’s something going on, or saying that we’re worried. We’re often worried about offending, or hurting, or annoying the person. Even if it’s something small we’re noticing, even if they say no, it’s worth bringing up. Make sure you’re opening that door. Let your child know, ‘I’m worried about you; I care about you.’ They may not be ready to talk about it yet. Let them know ‘I am here and am ready to talk about this whenever you’re ready. You’re never going to be in trouble for talking with me about this.’ Opening the door is the most important thing in those initial conversations.”

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression

Excerpted from the Fall 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Working with Medicine Wheels: North (Part 3 of 4), by Jude Catallo & Scott Emerson

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Know this. When the ego weeps for what it has lost, the soul rejoices in freedom for what it has found.

The use of the Medicine Wheel and its four compass points in the spiritual and healing practice of the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere of Earth stretches back a least 5,000 years, likely much longer. Each direction is associated with one of the four energetic bodies that make up the human energy field: the particle or physical world (the body), the realm of emotions and thoughts (the mind), the realm of myth (the soul), and the world of Spirit (energy). For many thousands of years, the shamans of the Americas have used each direction of the Medicine Wheel as an interdependent doorway to unique perceptual levels, or “ways of being,” in order to recover an individual’s true essence, personal power, energy, and inner wisdom for healing. Each direction of your Medicine Wheel mandala offers a unique perspective on any aspect of your life that you feel you are ready to change in order to affect personal healing—South, things with which you strongly identify, West, things from which you are mentally differentiating yourself, North, things you newly integrate into your life, and East, transcendence and full incorporation into your luminous energy field.

Movement around the directions and perspectives of your Medicine Wheels over time also possesses great power for spiritual growth. Eventually, as you spiral around and around the four directions in a series of private ceremonies, you will discover your true authentic self within the eye or center of the Medicine Wheel. Here the gifts, teachings, and power of the four archetypes converge in harmony and balance with a fifth unifying, fundamental property of the universe. This is an expansive, infinite, frequency resonance that is alive and felt through the heart, a consciousness, somewhat like unconditional love, that links everything everywhere and simultaneously stokes your own life force.

To have the most power, Medicine Wheels should be done by you privately,

electronic gadget-free,in a special natural setting, and accepting the Earth’s wild card role in the process. It is most important that your ceremony be within a sacred space.

You can create sacred space as a healing bubble around your chosen Medicine Wheel site by “calling” to the four direction master archetypes (S-Serpent, W–Jaguar, N–Hummingbird, E–Eagle, as well as down-Mother Earth, and up-Father Sky). With humility and gratitude, ask for their power and assistance in your personal healing work. Use a compass if you’re not certain of directions. The creative and intimate process of constructing your Medicine Wheel in a natural setting, using natural items that come to you at your chosen site, quiets the mind and creates a highly meditative state. In sacred space there is no time, and you can trust your instincts and synchronicity.

The realm of the soul is associated with the North direction.

Among many indigenous people of the Americas, Hummingbird is recognized as the archetype of the North. In North America, the Lakota Sioux word for the North is Waziyata, and is associated with night, winter, and old age. White is the Lakota color for the North. The language of the North is art and myth.

When we connect with the energy of Hummingbird, we experience the pure sweet essence of our soul, the place where the divine resides within us and where we also gain the awareness that we are eternal beings. The perceptual state here is that things are what they truly are. Hummingbirds possess a beautiful resilience and great endurance for long migrations between North and South America each year, yet can hover and change directions quickly. This archetype feeds on the flowers and the sweetness of life, and ignores that which is not supportive of life. Hummingbird represents the courage, determination and guidance required to embark, endure, and succeed in the voyage of our divine essence through sacred space and time. This archetype teaches us how to be in right relationship with the sweetness of ourselves, the natural world, evolution, and community as we co-create with the Great Spirit on this grand journey.

The four teachings of the North provide a portal to the way of the seer “who enters the stillness of the soul and dreams the world into being.”

They are: Beginner’s Mind, Living Consequently, Transparency, and Integrity. Become more childlike. Refuse to allow the baggage of your stories and preconceived notions to weigh you down and cloud your assessment of fresh ideas and opportunities that present themselves to you. Recognize the impact of each thought, intention, and action, and be sure they are in a supportive and healing relationship with all of life. Refuse to hide parts of yourself from others. Be who you are and say who you are. Be true to your word, and recognize its power to create reality.

For so many of us, the momentum of our life is on cruise control, leading us to a fate as opposed to our higher purpose, or our destiny. In order to change this momentum, we must get rid of some of the mass of our life (physical stuff, roles) that no longer serve us, as well as decouple ourselves from the time sickness of our culture. The tools we have to make big positive changes in our lives, to slow or halt our momentum toward fate, are de-cluttering our physical space and letting go of roles that drain our energy, and a regular meditation practice that facilitates an escape from the time sickness.

Healing work with the Medicine Wheel honoring the North and the Hummingbird archetype begins with the creation of a mandala in the sand, snow, grass, or forest floor. Find a stone to become your essence stone. Hold this stone with eyes closed and begin the 4/7/8 breath—4-count inhale, 7-count hold, 8-count exhale. Do this for at least 7 cycles as you let go of your mind and thoughts. Now continue the breathing pattern with the silent mantra on the inhale “I Am.” Hold at the top of the inhale and let yourself slip between the moments into timelessness. What do you see or feel here? Then exhale with the silent mantra “Only the Breath.” Repeat this until you begin to see and feel your authentic self and perhaps even a different higher destiny for this self, or your soul. Now blow any of these images or feelings into your essence stone and place it into the North quadrant of your Medicine Wheel. If you saw or felt nothing, blow that into your stone and place it.

Reflect on your last Medicine Wheel honoring the West.

How successful have you been at letting go of either the mental or emotional attachment of roles that remained in the West quadrant of your mandala? Are you ready to work on the distortion they may be causing to your authentic self? If so, find a stick representing the role, powerfully blow your new intention into it, and place it into the North quadrant. How ’bout those roles you placed into the North quadrant that you determined were distorting and masking your soul’s true essence that you threw into the fire last time? Are you ready to permanently free your soul from this distortion, remove this energetic imprint from your luminous energy field, and change your fate? If so, find a stick representing this role and powerfully blow your new intention into it. Place it into the East quadrant of your mandala. If no movement is possible, leave the role sticks where they were last time.

What about the teachings from the South or the West that you may be working on at the level of mental acceptance? Are you ready to begin experimenting with these in your daily life? If so, move these objects you have retained from last time into the North quadrant. Are you ready for any teachings you moved into the North last time to transcend from the level of just feeling and experiencing the way they are working into a new you that actually becomes these teachings? If so, move these teaching objects into the East part of your Medicine Wheel. Lastly, are there any of the teachings of the North that you are ready to work on and accept at the mental level? If so, find a new object representing each new teaching and place it into the West quadrant. If not, leave these for future work. Go, and return the next day.

Pick up and hold your essence stone and repeat the breath work exercise. Again, blow any images or feelings into the stone. Place it into the center of your Medicine Wheel. Gaze at your Medicine Wheel and appreciate its timeless pattern of sticks and objects without thinking about them. Appreciate how it is a reflection of your current self and how it may feel different from your authentic self. With gratitude, turn your gaze out and appreciate the natural setting you are “finding yourself” within. Savor in timelessness the experience of moving from thinking into feeling into being. Leave, and return the next day.

Destroy your Medicine Wheel and close sacred space. Take your essence stone as a sacred object to retain as a gateway to your authentic self. Collect your role sticks for the fire ceremony, and teaching objects as previously described, for your next Medicine Wheel ceremony honoring the East direction.

Jude Catallo and Scott Emerson, MD of timelesshealing.org are both graduates of The Four Winds Society: Shamanic Energy Medicine Intensive Apprenticeship 2017 – ongoing;   members of the Oklaweva Native American Church 2016 – ongoing; & Andean Cosmic Vision Apprenticeship, Don Theo Paredes 2003 – ongoing.

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

Spotlight On… Alicia Smith, Owner of Acupuncture of Marquette 

Tell us what happens at Acupuncture of Marquette.
Basically, we do a health intake with all different kinds of questions and develop a complementary health treatment plan using acupuncture. Sterile, non-reusable needles are used on the meridians, which are pathways through the body affecting the nervous system.

 

How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture looks at the whole body as an ecosystem and helps balance it. In Eastern theory, acupuncture points are being chosen to balance the body’s chi or life force energy. It’s also fascia-related – the interconnected tissues of the body send electrical impulses throughout. One area can impact another. Western medicine describes acupuncture as increasing blood circulation, and decreasing inflammation and tight muscles. And acupuncture may remove blockages, for example blood stasis, phlegm accumulation, stomach accumulation.

Groups of qualities (yin/yang) are considered in deciding where we need to balance you. Yin is water, fluid, slow-moving, fleshy, cooling; yang is fast-moving, hot, dry, loud. It’s a way to compartmentalize what is not in balance in the body. Someone with a very red face, maybe constipation, is considered to have yang excess and yin deficiency. Post-menopausal symptoms also indicate yin deficiency.

Certain acupuncture points have certain qualities.

Acupuncture can have a local quality – you may have tennis elbow and we are providing acupuncture there, but this also affects digestion because it’s on the large intestine meridian. Acupuncture points work on the body both distally and locally. For example, we can work with headache issues by moving energy away from the head and bringing it to the hand. This helps a lot with stress.

There are all different types of acupuncture needles – some longer, some shorter, different diameters. I tend to be gentler, using them without having to go so deep into people. I think a good acupuncturist meets the person’s energy where it’s at, addressing the person’s disposition and issue.

There are also different theories on how acupuncture treatment should be created. Some use abdominal diagnosis, palpating the stomach. Others use their sense of smell, seeing the skin color, taking the pulse, looking at the palm, feeling temperature differences, and/or running their hands up and down meridians to see where blockages are.

What do your clients most commonly come in for?
Often pain—back, neck, arm. Also infertility issues, anxiety, depression, PTSD syndrome. We can work on back pain and anxiety at the same time.

Acupuncture is a viable treatment option. It’s non-invasive, with no side effects beyond possibly feeling tired. In today’s world of medicine, much more invasive procedures are often used. Now more medical professionals are recommending acupuncture before prescribing surgery.

What do your clients like about it?
They feel very relaxed afterward. They feel comfortable in my clinic because the building is a house. It’s personal. They feel safe talking about what’s going on, being in a traditional setting rather than one where a medical record is created that follows you through life and could potentially be used against you. If you’re diagnosing using Chinese medicine, the insurance companies typically don’t understand it.

What kinds of benefits does it offer?
All ages can benefit from acupuncture. It doesn’t interact with medications. That’s why I really like this natural form of medicine. It’s very safe when done by a qualified professional, not a weekend class attendee. Acupuncture creates an environment in your body to help it heal.

If you don’t feel right, or are in a slump, potentially even just one treatment could help you. It can help with transitioning with the seasons, grief, over-consumption of anything that’s throwing you off in some way so you haven’t felt right since. It can help you safely move off of pain medication.

Some will take the input and heal faster. Some acupuncture points will go double-duty and work on additional things such as infertility or depression. There’s also a set of points that help the system as a whole. Doing acupuncture, you’re opening all the meridians. They’re interconnected, so your body’s going to do what it needs to do.

What are your qualifications and experience?
I went to Bastyr University in Seattle and did my internships, Bachelors, and Masters degrees. I took the pre-med program at NMU, and am on the verge of completing my PhD through the California institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. I’ve been in practice since 2013.

What made you decide to become an acupuncturist?
I was dissatisfied with the Western medicine approach… Once I made the switch to Bastyr, I found acupuncture seemed to make sense. I wanted to work with my hands and practice a form of healing that did no harm… I found through my research that acupuncture has been around for a very long time and has a whole culture behind it. This was humbling, to embark on learning a system of medicine that had helped people heal for centuries.

What do you enjoy most about your practice?
I enjoy seeing all different types of people and treating all different types of conditions. I see a lot of first-time acupuncture patients. Here it’s newer, whereas it was very common in Seattle. I really like my patients, and living in the natural environment of the U.P., offering personalized care in a comfortable, cool, little clinic.

Why should someone come to Acupuncture of Marquette?
For pain and stress relief, balance, like when you feel you need a tune-up, wellness care, so life can be even better. When you fall off your wheel and need some support. When you want to find non-invasive, non-pharmacological help.

What else should people know about acupuncture?
It doesn’t hurt, and it’s not scary. It’s really relaxing. It’s a different type of medicine from a different paradigm and culture—not a pill in a bottle, not an injection with fluids in it. The dangers of trying it with a board-certified acupuncturist are very minimal.

Acupuncture has been around for a very long time. America is a melting pot, and this type of medicine is a gift we should embrace. It may seem to you that it’s different, that it’s strange, that maybe it doesn’t work, but have you actually tried it?

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.