Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Getting Un-stuck

by Dr. Tony Calabrese and Patricia Calabrese, PMH-NP

How do we get stuck, and what can we do to get un-stuck? Getting stuck, at first glance, is not nearly as bad as it sounds, and can have some benefits. Being stuck emotionally, means not making any decisions, staying clear of wrong moves, putting in zero effort, and avoiding negative results. Being stuck also means stagnation, a solid routine, and a life without excitement. Being stuck is a place where resentments grow because important decisions are made for us, and attempts at asserting ourselves are challenged.

Of course, there are times of high stress and busy chaotic schedules when people yearn for a dull moment. However, this is different than being stuck. Being stuck usually means living in a stagnant, sometimes unhealthy state. It provides us with certainty, but also leaves us feeling trapped. An adult child living with his parents, working a dead-end job, or using credit cards to pay for everything are situations tied to an economic downturn, but nonetheless are indications of being stuck.

Getting un-stuck requires we assess the reasons we are stuck. Maybe it’s fear, fatigue, indecision, or a lack of knowledge and skills. Next, we have to develop a thoughtful plan of action to clear any barriers. Finally, we have to execute the plan. Most of us are stuck for an instant, before spreading our wings. For instance leaving home, no matter the economic conditions, is something most of us must do at some point in our lives. Even if done right, this change involves angst and most big decisions do. But momentary angst is replaced by feelings of accomplishment which creates self-esteem; which is how we achieve it, since Walmart doesn’t sell self-esteem in a jar.

Dr. Tony Calabrese is the Director of Psychology and Outpatient Services at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services. He also serves as the Chief Psychologist for the pre-doctoral Psychology internship training program. Patricia Calabrese is a licensed Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and she currently treats children and adolescents at Pine Grove Outpatient Services. She has a professional interest in ADHD and parenting education.

Visit or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Everything in Moderation, Including Moderation

By: Venkat Baskararajan, MD
Psychiatrist, Outpatient Services

The saying, “Everything in moderation, including moderation” in a way refers to human need for indulgence and excess from time to time. All of us can remember eating a little more during Thanksgiving, having a couple of extra drinks or partying a little late, or just waiting up for Santa past our bedtime. All of these little things make the holiday season more memorable.

When the excess and indulgence lasts more than a few days in a row, this can stress out our body. Our body and mind are not independent of each other, so any stress on the body reflects on how we feel or think. So, it’s important to watch out for stressors and have some balance.

Some common stressors during the holidays & how to deal with them:

1- Eating too much or too little

"Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness."

Thanksgiving wouldn’t feel complete if you didn’t stuff yourself, but on most other days it’s important to eat right. Just don’t keep treating yourself to the candy bowl or cookie jar that’s laid out for guests every time you cross the living room.

For a lot of people it’s important to look their best during the holidays and wanting to shed a few pounds before the family photograph gets taken. Starving yourself or skipping meals for days or weeks together can add up to a lot of stress. This sometimes may even backfire and lead to emotional eating. Healthy foods and eating at proper times can give you the body that you need.

Eating unhealthily for days at a time has been shown to make people lethargic, down or irritable. So make sure to eat healthy.

2- Sleeping too little or too much

It is very easy to get thrown off your schedule during the holiday season. You may end up sleeping too little as you may be doing some extra cooking and cleaning.. Or you may end up sleeping more because you don’t have to go to work.

On an average we need 7-8 hours of sleep, but it varies from person to person. Variation in sleep for more than a few days is a huge stress and can lead to mood swings, irritability, anxiety or depression. Not to mention worsening of blood pressure or blood sugar if you hypertension or diabetes.

So try to get a good night’s rest at least 5 nights a week.

3- Having unrealistic expectations

One the biggest causes of mental stress and anxiety is the need for everything to be perfect during the Holidays. Wanting to find the perfect gifts or trying to have the home decorated perfectly can cause a lot of worry but to some extent are in your control. Wanting the flights to be on time, wanting the traffic not to be horrible, wanting friends and family to be on time for the party and expecting everyone to behave perfectly are things beyond ones control.

Remember that holidays are a time for compassion and giving. If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. So don't beat yourself up for not having everything perfect or get angry if things did not go as planned.

Taking some deep breaths for one minute a few times a day can do wonders in alleviating your anxiety. Meditation can also help relieve stress and anxiety.

So have some fun this holiday season but try to also have some balance in taking care of your mind, body and spirit so you can enjoy the holidays to their fullest.

Dr. Baskararajan graduated from Adichunchanagiri Institute of Medical Sciences in India in January of 1999. He completed his residency at University of Mississippi Medical School in Jackson, MS. While at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Dr. Baskararajan represented the Psychiatry Residency Training Program at the resident symposium hosted by Emory University in 2008 and served as an active member of the residency administrative committee. Dr. Baskararajan joined the Pine Grove staff in 2009. He currently sees adult patients in an outpatient setting for assessment and medication management.

Visit or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Truth About Ourselves

By: Philip Hemphill, Ph.D.
Program Director: Professional Enhancement Program

Are we really interested in knowing the truth about ourselves? With all of the innovative social platforms that people can use to present themselves today, a new global self-esteem issue has also risen. People can choose the way they are portrayed to others on the internet on sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and the list goes on. Instead of offering an opportunity to socialize and share, this behavior has been received with intense judgments of all sorts- both internally and externally.

Some social media users have been found to alter photographs of themselves, lie about weight or careers, and even invent relationships with made up accounts in order to self-promote and satisfy their need for acceptance. Some users follow hundreds of strangers’ accounts in order to increase their social circle, and thus receive more feedback. There is a plethora of accounts that are not people, but are made specifically for real users to “follow” so they in turn can increase their own follower count by association. The vast influx of followers increase activity on one’s page and further satisfy their need for attention and appreciation.

Recently, the conjunction of social media and self-esteem has taken a more serious turn as individuals with real mental health problems have taken to social media to aid these desires. Some “tags” have been removed from sites like Instagram because masses of adolescents were using the site to find and share “thinspo”, or “thinspiration”. When adolescents are so impressionable and have such a wide variety of opportunities they can choose with the click of a button, it is no surprise that things can get out of hand should a behavioral abnormality evolve.

An odd development occurred on the website Reddit, an entertainment, social networking, and news website that allows users to upload their own content. The content can become a worldwide phenomenon due to the close knit community of users. Nonetheless, there is a place for any and every type of information, stored on its own topic specific page called a Subreddit page. One Subreddit page caused backlash because it was titled “AmIUgly?” Anyone can anonymously post their photo and more anonymous users can vote accordingly. There are over 45,000 subscribers.

Why would someone ever want to ask Reddit to judge how attractive they are? We all saw this scene from ‘Social Network.’

This page obviously sparked a strong response from the mental health community and the rest of the internet, as individuals with eating disorders were the highest population posting and being judged by thousands instantly. The reason for the attraction to this frenzy which obtains followers is to receive the most feedback possible from others which can confirm a grossly distorted belief system.

If you were to ask your coworkers how attractive you are do you think you would get the most honest answer? There is a level of safety in no one knowing who you are while judging you, and there is an assurance that people will answer you truthfully because you don’t know who they are. Thus explains the irony of social media and true social interaction. People misrepresent their real selves- for whatever personal reason- on social media profiles, and then in order to receive some real feedback, everyone else dishing it to them must be anonymous.

The Internet and the world of instant socializing are here to stay, what really needs to be done is the setting of standards in our own community. When it’s realized that the invincible feeling that anonymity brings can be harmful to others, we can stop feeding the egos of those who have self-esteem or even worse issues. When we stop being superficial in our use of social media ourselves, we can start using it for what it was created for- enhancing actual and fulfilling interaction.

Dr. Hemphill is the Director of the Professional Enhancement Program at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services. The Professional Enhancement Program (PEP) is a comprehensive continuum of integrated behavioral health treatment services for professionals offered through Pine Grove, one of the nation’s leading treatment facilities. PEP is designed to help professionals with addictions and addictive illnesses, disruptive behavior, boundary violations, personality disorders, interpersonal difficulties, and vocational issues.

Visit or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Halloween Poem

By: Allison Sutton, Program Coordinator for Pine Grove's Evaluation Center

It's Halloween and the moon is bright, See what can't be seen on any other night.

Now is the time for goblins and bats, Halloween spirits and lots of black cats. Skeletons, ghosts, and grueling ghouls, with grinning goblins fighting duels.

Zombies are rising from their tombs, and witches are flying on magic brooms. With all the weird-happenings and witches brew, These are the things Pine Grove wishes for you:

May you remember the life you regained, When you accepted the things you could not change. May the tricks that you play or have to do, Be a trick to help gain a sponsor or two. And may the only spirit you chance to see, Be the spirit of strength, hope, and recovery.

We remind you with this little rhyme That life gets better "one day at a time." No matter your recovery routine. Pine Grove wishes you a safe and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Life is like Basketball

By Issac Boose, M.Ed, LPC-S, LMFT, ICAADC

I like basketball and I enjoy watching skilled players who play the game well. For me, there are versatile players who can adjust and make appropriate changes in the middle of a play. I especially like watching players, who can anticipate a pass and cut it off, or the player who can rack up points for their team when they are truly needed. Additionally, I admire the players who are able to make accurate free throws throughout the game. I must admit the free throws are not truly exciting for me until the last few minutes of a close game because that is when they count the most. From my perspective, watching a competitive basketball game is much like watching the good things in life unfold before my very eyes.

How awesome would your life be if when you find yourself in a sticky situation you were able to assess how the situation could turn out in a split second and make suitable adjustments as quickly as a basketball player in the middle of play? Imagine the self-confidence in knowing that when you are faced with a problem, you are able to automatically review all of your past experiences and choose the best solution for solving that particular problem. It would be like the basketball player who has so much experience playing the game; they instinctively know what to do next. In life, we sometimes find ourselves repeating the same unhelpful patterns as if we have not gained insight from the past.

What I suggest is for people to pay close attention to how they successfully solved problems in the past and to continue to apply those same principles to future situations. Before you know it, you have a wealth of useful information to draw from. Also, practice your free throws and solve the small problems when they arise. Solving the small problems is just like racking up extra points, in case your life gets complicated later on.

Issac L. Boose is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist as well as a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. He presently works as the director of Pine Grove Next Step and has been a part of the Next Step team since December 2004. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland European Division and a Masters Degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Mississippi. He is an active member of the Mississippi Association of Addiction Professional. His experience in the counseling profession includes working with school-aged children as a school based counselor, counseling senior citizens in a hospital setting, community mental health counseling and residential alcohol and drug counseling. While working within these settings he has provided couples, family, group and individual therapy.

Visit or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.