Blue Water Counseling Newsletter--June 2022

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New Staff


Senior Depression

Connection A Publication of Blue Water Counseling of Fort Gratiot, Michigan

COVID Fatigue How to Address Grief, Lost Time During Pandemic Since the COVID 19 pandemic hit two years ago, medical experts have accomplished a lot in terms of knowing and understanding this virus, how it works and how to best protect ourselves from becoming deathly ill. That is all good news, but many are still grieving the life they had prior to the pandemic, or are grieving life events that might never be replaced: high school proms not held, weddings/receptions scaled down or postponed, and milestone birthday and anniversary parties missed. And then there are those who lost loved ones to the virus. They face lifelong grief. All of this can weigh on a person’s mind and amounts to what is often called “COVID fatigue.” “We all lost something during the pandemic,” said Shelly Papinaw, PhD, LPC, NCC, CAADC, LMFT. “It’s grief we’re feeling. ‘My normal life is gone.’” Papinaw said it is important to acknowledge one’s feelings and work through the sadness. “We have to acknowledge how we’re feeling,” she said. “A lot of times, we push it down. Community is important. You need to find someone to talk to.” Shelly Papinaw, Since day one of the pandemic, both news PhD, LPC, NCC, outlets and social media have been filled with an CAADC, LMFT overwhelming number of stories and posts – both true and false – about the virus. Papinaw said she often tells clients that it is important to give themselves a break from the 24/7 cycle of difficult real news and not-so-real misinformation. “Negativity breeds negativity,” she said, noting that taking a mental break can help someone feel relief. And what about those people in everyone’s lives who continue to share or argue about issues regarding the pandemic? “We just have to let them be where they are with all of that,” she said, particularly when it comes to people who do not agree on subjects such as whether or not to get vaccinated or wear masks in public, or other COVID hot topics. “People get in a rage and that is not helpful,” Papinaw said. Instead, she encourages clients to “Look at what are the things we have in common? We do have common goals with other people.” As for those celebrations that were missed or postponed? “You can have another celebration later, a kind of a do-over thing,” she said. “Feel it, acknowledge it, and move through it. You can ask, ‘What did I gain by going through it?’”

The one thing people should not do is allow themselves to be stuck in a cycle of grief. “We don’t want to be in a perpetual crisis mode,” she said. That said, she noted that historically, humans do very well during times of crisis. “People do really well in a pivotal moment of crisis and we help each other out,” she said. “People might say, ‘this is the worst time ever,’ but is it? People have always gone through crisis and they get through it. “If they just can’t get out of their own head space, and they are feeling isolated, suicidal, depressed and anxious, then it is time to get some help.” Papinaw works with clients to help them learn various techniques that can help them feel less anxious and less stressed. She will sometimes introduce breathing exercises or gentle moving meditation called Qi Gong. “Ratio breathing can be helpful,” she said. “We breathe in for four seconds and hold it, then we breathe out four seconds and hold it. If you’re counting and breathing, you can’t really think about anything else,” she said. She refers patients to Qi Gong videos on YouTube. “Qi Gong moves that energy through your body,” she said. “Even if you have physical limitations, you can do it sitting down.” The bottom line, Papinaw said, is learning how to best manage your COVID fatigue, or any stressful life event, in a way that works for you. “Everybody has a different process,” she said. “Appreciate the moment and if you need it, seek help. Sometimes what you need is someone who listens and says, ‘You too?’”

Senior Depression Many Seniors Still Struggle with Isolation Following Pandemic While the global COVID 19 pandemic has been difficult for people of all ages, it has been particularly isolating for seniors. In the early days of the pandemic in 2020 and into 2021, older people were known to be particularly more vulnerable to extreme illness and death from COVID. As a result, many seniors stayed home, alone, or remained isolated in senior living communities that did not allow visitors for the obvious reasons. Blue Water Counseling therapist Marilyn Walker, MA, LPC, CAADC, a professional counselor, lives with her 91-year-old mother and witnessed first-hand the effects of the pandemic on the older generation. In her practice, she said her older patients talked about “more of a bluesy type feeling and more like a melancholy feeling. They felt more isolation. They had concerns about being by themselves and how life stalled due to the pandemic. “In this age group, people think there’s more years behind them than ahead of them, and the pandemic robbed them of two years,” she said. Walker’s mother, however, provided her with inspiration that she could share with her clients, almost as a roadmap for seniors to successfully survive quarantine and other related aspects of the pandemic. “My mom is very plugged-in and connected,” Walker said. “Being connected with folks is huge. Connect with them and make sure they have ways of connecting with you. “For my mom, having that positive attitude has been the key for her, and being grateful. It’s important to make sure you are living in the moment.” When working with seniors, many of whom Marilyn Walker, , MA, are retired, Walker encourages them to create LPC, CAADC structure in their day, even if they are spending much of their time alone. “Have a routine; have a schedule to follow so the day feels more purposeful,” she said. “Have a to-do list. Keep a daily schedule. Plug into those types of activities you like to do and bring them to life.” Walker said that the daily schedule should include connecting with other people. “Pick up the phone and call people,” she said. “Engage in your hobbies. Find something you really enjoy. Retirement is a great time to restart a hobby or start a new hobby. Find ways to keep in the mind stimulated.” For Walker and her mother, cooking has kept them connected with one another. “She got me into trying new recipes,” she said. When they cook together, that gives them time to connect. Exercise is another important component that helps maintain both good physical and mental health, particularly as people age. “Get out and exercise,” Walker said. “Go outside when the weather permits or walk in your home. I read about a woman who lost 30 pounds by walking inside her home. Exercise stimulates the

mind and that will help with any kind of bluesy feelings.” Seniors should also make sure they are making healthy food choices and getting enough sleep. “And limit television,” she said. “Don’t spend your whole day watching the news where everything is negative.” Most of all, Walker said, remember that it is okay and a normal part of life to feel down sometimes. “Own your feelings,” she said. “If you feel bluesy, it’s okay to feel your feelings. Everyone has been affected by the pandemic. It’s okay to not be okay. You’re not the only one.” Walker said watching her 91-year-old mother work through the challenges of the pandemic was an inspiration to her whenever she struggled. “Watching my mom be a trooper like this was inspirational,” she said. “If she can navigate through this with a positive attitude, I can. For her to be dealing with all of that, it’s just amazing. It gives me hope.” That said, there sometimes comes a point where the bluesy feelings won’t lift. That is when people should not hesitate to reach out for help. “Be mindful if it might be slipping past bluesy; pay attention to yourself,” she said. “If depression is setting in and you just don’t care anymore, it might be necessary to get medical attention. Watch the seniors in your life for a lack of interest, a lack of appetite. That could be depression. “If their symptoms are almost every day, and it’s been ongoing for two weeks, then you should seek help.” Walker said anyone who has seniors in their life should definitely make a habit of checking in on them. “Stay in touch,” she said. “Reach out to your loved ones. If they live far away, ask who is checking in on them? Are there any community programs that can check in on them? Just make sure you have regular contact with those folks.”

Differing Points of View Hot Topic Issues Cause Arguments, Hurt Feelings As the season of bridal showers, weddings, graduation parties and family reunions comes upon us, many people are just now beginning to fully emerge from the full grips of the pandemic. While it is exciting that we feel we can once again safely gather with family and friends, some of those celebrations will be marred when differences of opinions – often political -- clash. So, how do we best deal with people in our lives whose views of the world extend beyond what were once basic differences in political philosophy, such as conservative versus liberal, into subscription to conspiracy theories regarding various nationally known politicians and entertainers, among other outlying beliefs. How can we gather cordially and remain closely connected with family and friends whose view of reality is vastly different than that of our own? “When you have hot topic issues, what basically happens is everyone thinks they are right,” said Sara McHugh, clinical social worker at Blue Water Counseling. “And that can tear apart relationships. People have been fed information that they believe, and when we disagree with them, they are taking it as a personal attack.” So how do you avoid that kind of confrontation? “When you talk to someone who has a different viewpoint, the goal is not to take it personally,” she said. “You have to remember that it is the idea that you are upset with, not the person. I ask clients, ‘What are you really mad about?’” McHugh said semantics – choosing the words you use and how you use them – are key to communicating with someone whose opinion is radically different than your own. “Try and dial down as much as you can,” she said. “If you want to communicate, the more calmly you can do that, the better. Use the words ‘I feel’ a lot, or let them know you hear what they are saying by paraphrasing what they say: ‘What I hear you saying is…’” Sara McHugh, Clinical Sometimes these differences in belief systems have Social Worker put people in a position where they might decide that not attending an important family event is what is best for them. Oftentimes, difference in COVID vaccine status can cause friction between family members when some people want everyone vaccinated, and other do not feel comfortable getting vaccinated. McHugh said everyone needs to put their own health concerns first, but that doesn’t need to cause an argument. “You can say, ‘I understand your concerns and I respect your decision, and as much as I’d like to attend, I need to respectfully decline.’” Sometimes, those in opposition will then hear: “If you won’t attend, you don’t care about me.” “That’s when you can say, ‘It concerns me because…I’m immunocompromised or I have kids who are too young to get

“When you have hot topic issues, what basically happens is everyone thinks they are right. People have been fed information that they believe and when we disagree with them, they are taking it as a personal attack.”

vaccinated.’ You can gracefully but firmly define your line,” said McHugh. If the tables are turned and you are hosting a gathering and expect everyone to be vaccinated or you request mask wearing and invitees resist or try to argue that point, again, the words you choose can help diffuse the situation, said McHugh. “You can say, ‘You are welcome, but these are the things we nened to help us feel safer right now,’” she said. “People get emotional and they feel attacked and victimized. It’s really difficult and I’ve talked to people on both sides of the issue in therapy. There’s been inconsistent messaging, which is unfortunate.” The bottom line, said McHugh, is to be compassionate with your loved ones, and keep in mind that everyone has experienced times of anxiety and stress over the past couple of years. Listen to what everyone needs to help them get through the pandemic and be gracious with one another. “People feel very disenfranchised, and that nobody is looking out for them,” she said. “We’ve all been stressed in so many different ways. “

Financial Picture

New Staff Welcomed

Blue Water Counseling is a non-profit organization established to provide therapeutic services of the highest standard to children and adults seeking to change and improve the quality of their lives. What follows is the 2019 financial report:

Blue Water Counseling has a number of highly qualified therapists who are now accepting new patients. Call today to make your appointment with any of the following, or visit our website at to learn more about our complete staff.

Blue Water Counseling Financial Picture

New Therapists Accepting New Patients

Blue Water Counseling Balance Sheet 2019 Assets

Current Assets ..................................................... $114,580 Land Building & Equipment ............................. $156,328 Total Assets .......................................................... $270,908

Liabilities & Net Assets Current Liabilities ............................................... $153,665 Long-Term Liabilities ........................................... $21,841 Total Liabilities .................................................... $175,506

Yara Awit, MA, TLLP, Clinical Psychologist

Hilary M. Richards, MSW, LMSW, Clinical Social Worker

Sara M. Tavora, MSW, LMSW, Clinical Social Worker

Marilyn A. Walker, MA, LPC, CAADC, Professional Counselor

Net Assets Unrestricted ........................................................... $95,402 Total Liabilities & Net Assets .......................... $270,908

Revenue Program Service Fees ....................................... $2,185,403 Miscellaneous ........................................................ $13,433 Total Revenue .................................................. $2,198,836

Blue Water Counseling’s mission is to provide the highest standard of service for children and adults seeking to change and improve the quality of their lives.

Opinions expressed are those of Blue Water Counseling staff and independent researchers. Readers who would like to address specific problems should contact Blue Water Counseling to schedule an appointment.

Connection is published periodically by: Blue Water Counseling 1501 Krafft Road Fort Gratiot MI 48059 Phone: 810.985.5125

Editor Michael J. Duffy, Jr., Ed.D., L.L.P. Executive Director, Blue Water Counseling Writer & Designer Patti Samar