Continue Regular Therapy Online

There’s a lot to be stressed about – Virus, friends, family, economy, jobs, empty shelves at the grocery store. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, you are not alone.

While everyone is unique in their reactions to isolation, you may be likely to have feelings of loneliness, sadness, fear, anxiety and stress. These emotions are perfectly normal given the current circumstances.

A recent study published by The Lancet reported negative psychological effects of quarantine including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion and anger. These effects can be felt both during and after the period of quarantine.

During this isolation period you may be feeling cut off from the rest of the world, unable to continue your usual routine and with no control over what is happening. It is important to create a new normal (for now) routine, to maintain connections with your loved ones and to keep the mind and body healthy and active.

It is important to practice self-compassion, to keep up to date with the facts and necessary information on the virus, without allowing our anxiety to get the better of us.

Taking steps to protect your mental health

If you find that you are struggling with your emotions during this period of isolation, it is important to seek professional help. Many therapists are shifting to online therapy and all Pineapple Support therapists, counsellors and coaches provide teletherapy either via video platform or over the telephone.

If you are currently seeing a therapist and have concerns regarding switching from in person to online therapy, you may discover that online therapy works better for you and your needs. But, if you discover that you still prefer in-person appointments, there is no need to worry. This situation is not permanent and once the social distancing efforts have subsided, you can return to regular, face-to-face meetings.

If you feel you could benefit from speaking with therapist and qualify for Pineapple Support subsidized therapy, please reach out and we will connect you with one of our industry friendly therapists, counsellors or coaches.

 

Resources

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/does-online-therapy-actually-work_n_58af1ffde4b060480e05bd79?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAA-DFVkQ3Y-cDk80cBm1W3jy-Kchis-a0Ocm0358ur5sF6l6RiWhEjWlMbXnPyKCc3SZ1ueKQ6-Il9HV__1a9Gv7OLCqyy2cacPqlPadhmQnQCFHkbMP1NRVwF9HTau9b-Lb3GLGTOFSfVMU8U6FXi1gb6uXWmgvC3qzz4s-gkvc

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fmanaging-stress-anxiety.html

https://www.verywellmind.com/transition-to-online-therapy-during-coronavirus-4799808

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-pacific-heart/202003/coronavirus-anxiety-should-i-see-my-therapist-face-face

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673620304608

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15324539

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30460-8/fulltext#seccestitle150

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/20/coronavirus-wake-up-millennials-prioritize-your-mental-health-right-now-says-psychotherapist.html

Maintain A Connection With the People You Love

In the current crisis, when we are being asked to self-isolate and practice social distancing, it is more important than ever to maintain a connection with the people you love.

As humans we are naturally pack animals, this makes communication and positive social connections essential for our mental health and help us cope in times of stress. Communication during isolation can be as simple as phoning a friend to share your emotional experience, using videoconferencing technology to check in with a family member, or spending quality time with the people you live with.

 

Loneliness and the feeling of being disconnected to humanity is natural during these times and some may feel powerless to these emotions. Reach out to your friends and family to check that they are okay. A simple text message or phone call to let a person know that you are thinking of them can bring needed assurance and positive energy.

Many of us are living with a partner, house mates, family members, it is important to have communication and relationships with those outside of the house as tensions are sure to rise.

Luckily for us, we live in a time of technology and the options we have are vast. Google hang-out, Skype, Face-Time, WhatsApp, Houseparty, Zoom, to name a few – these platforms are free to use and a great, fun way to virtually connect when in-person contact isn’t possible.

Whenever possible, try to use video calling for social communication. Facial expressions and body language form a large part of human interaction and alert us to a person’s mood, giving a much deeper and effective connection than voice call. In these times of isolation, non-verbal communication has even greater importance as they can provide a feeling of “presence”.

We would love to hear your ideas on how to stave off loneliness during isolation. Here are some of our ideas:

1) Have a virtual date night with a friend or another couple.
2) Start a new activity together, such as reading a book or watching a series. Check in with each other and call or text to discuss.
3) Arrange a virtual party with games or a dress theme.
4) Learn something new together, like a language, cooking or art.

However you decide to communicate with your loved ones during isolation, please remember; You are not alone. We are all in this together.

If you would like to speak to a Pineapple Support volunteer please visit PineappleSupport.org

 

With love from Leya Tanit

resources

https://www.psychology.org.au/getmedia/d7cb8abd-3192-4b8f-a245-ace9b8ef44d5/20APS-IS-COVID-19-Isolation-P1.pdf

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/conscious-communication/202003/maintaining-relationships-while-practicing-social-distancing

https://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/2020/03/25/phil-sharp-tips-to-succeed-in-isolation/

https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

Get Creative

Pineapple Support is an organization that is based upon communication and human connection. The world is now in a situation where this connection is not always possible, many of us have been left with a lot of spare time on our hands and are unsure of what to do with it.

Getting creative, whether it be art, writing, sewing, baking or any other craft, is a great way to keep the mind active and possibly learn a new skill. You may even find a talent you never knew you had.

Crafting and getting creative have a number of benefits for our mental health, including stress reduction; a way to regulate strong emotions such as anger; self-efficacy improvement; and a reduction in your chances of developing mild cognitive impairment, among other things.

Focussing on a craft can also take the mind off the current news and headlines, which is something we all need to do to care for our mental health and well-being.

 

Below is a list of websites offering tutorials and ideas for getting creative during isolation.

 

We would love for you to share with us your creations or ideas for others to get creative via Twitter @pineappleYSW

 

With love, Leya Tanit

 

 

Resources

https://www.realhomes.com/news/7-craft-ideas-to-try-while-in-social-isolation

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/crafts-bored-in-quarantine_ca_5e78fa23c5b6f5b7c548f2f9?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAALkd2efUtx7PXAu4i-ocsXOELSD0Yep7QDOVcvZxG3UVAm5189zZ3XS3FCRMOQH_uI4RrAcbuN5fapWFXvbQxIzbV-F6rhihJH4IsXJyqwu2q5juA-7RTl9md48u748qtERNmHJBWJFAHOAHAghp7xFS_RLH9fkBAC0B-Y0q97MS

https://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/articles/up-skill-in-isolation-online-craft-classes-you-can-do-from-home/

https://www.marchnetwork.org/creative-isolation

Life & Sex-Work Has Led Me To Sobriety by AnnaTame

Ever since I hit the end of my elementary school years I started smoking cigarettes. Very shortly after that, it carried onto marijuana, (which I don’t believe is a bad drug or addiction) and then I was introduced to heavy drugs along the way such as MDMA, LSD, Mushrooms, Cocaine, etc. At the time I was in my early high school days when this happened so I was very unaware of a lot of things about drugs in general compared to now. Although, even at the time I was doing these drugs I didn’t care too much about it because it became an escape for me and a way to have fun with my friends.

Fast-forwarded to years after high school, something very traumatic happened to my health. At the time right before this happened I was still smoking daily A LOT, drinking alcohol and doing quite a bit of psychedelics almost every weekend. I was in college for a short business-related program so the partying was normal, but I was like that even before. Being high all the time became normal to me.

I won’t go into depth about what happened to me, but let’s just say it seriously opened my eyes to how important health is, how unpredictable life is and that taking care of yourself is needed a lot more than we think. It wasn’t even just the drugs though, it was everything. My mental health and the way I was dealing with personal issues for years were not helping me.

I’m not here to tell people how to live their lives, we are free to do what we want and indulge in what we want as well. I’m just here to share my story to hope it’ll be somewhat relatable at least or eye-opening. I can only speak from my own experiences so I know that overdoing it could have dire consequences.

This experience forced me to quit bad habits that were unhealthy for me. I stopped smoking, drinking and doing other drugs altogether. Then once I was feeling a bit better I tried to go back to my same ways and my body was rejecting it. So I made a choice to just stop doing everything. That has lasted years. I haven’t smoked at all or did any of the drugs I listed above since.

However, the drinking was still something I could do in moderation, and started back up again afterward. This lasted up until last year around May. I’d use any excuse to do it. But whenever I used it when I was going through something bad, it never made anything better in the long-term. A bit before this I started seeing a practitioner, going to therapy to better understand my thoughts and kept bettering my diet. So naturally, I just decided it was time to either stop or cut down.

I haven’t had a drink in about 10 months now. If I make it a few more months it’ll be a full year. I have never in my entire life since I was addicted to anything substance wise been sober for that long, ever. Will I drink again? Perhaps. Maybe. I don’t know. But I do know my boundaries now from with myself and what isn’t healthy so if I do decide to I’m hoping it’ll be under control or in moderation. Being honest is important because we’re all human here. All I know is that I have cut down on A LOT over the years on a lot of unhealthy things and that’s something to be proud of.

As “corny” as it may sound, all of those things have highly improved my life, and not only that but entering the adult industry has vastly helped me grow as a person and into my sobriety. I may have stopped using years ago, but when I was coming more into myself sexually, it has made me a better person. I started to tap into doing things I’m good at: connecting with others, making a space that’s non-judgemental to be in for both parties and to just be free. Sex work has given me that and I’m very grateful because of it. Whenever I think of wanting to use again, I think of how far I’ve come and how much better I’m off without it.

Without going through these changes, I wouldn’t have changed my lifestyle and found a job I’m passionate about. I love being a sex worker and being one and remaining under control with my unhealthy addictions is saving my life. I’m here to tell you first-hand that although my traumas led me to tough experience(s), it brought me right here. To becoming a healthier person through sobriety and finding sex work unexpectedly as a healthy way to make a living while expressing myself for who I am.

So to anyone who got this far here, this is only a small glimpse of my life experiences and if you knew every detail you’d know how resilient I am. However, I’m just another person who has gone through trauma and addiction but is still here living my life. More importantly, living it better than I could have ever thought was possible.

Written by AnnaTame
Follow AnnaTame on Twitter @annatame69

My Story by Kena Love, with advice from therapist Nicki Line

I’m one of the many people who follow your tweets on twitter and I just had to write ya a quick email in regards to addiction and sex work for myself. See unfortunately they both go hand in hand. I can’t do dates without being high. And now I get paid to had sex just to support my habit. It wasn’t always that way. At first it was a high in itself to be wanted so badly by men who wanted to pay big $ to fuck me. But when my friends realized what I was doing I began to hate myself a Lil bit more every day. First came opiates but when I take them I can’t get turned on/wet/ or cum at all. That’s when I was introduced to meth. First time I did it I was hooked. I fucked for hours . My orgasms were amazing and all I could think about was getting that next on hit and dick.

Hello Kena,

I agree with you that the sex industry does have a high rate of individuals who struggle with addiction in one form or another. Let me start my response by defining addiction as I understand it. Addiction is an obsessive compulsive out of control behavior done in spite of negative consequences for self or others. Under this definition any behavior can be an addiction whether it is sex, shopping, food, or substances. While reading your email the stages of addiction and the cycle it can keep a person in comes to mind: initial use, abuse, increased use, dependency, and relapse. You describe “at first is a high … to be wanted so badly by men” which started the process of looking for an outside person or thing to regulate an internal issue. It felt good and distracted from other feelings in the initial stage. Then you started to have an internal conflict of your work and self-worth, to numb those feelings you started taking opiates and the opiates numb feeling as well as your body. Continuing to search for an external cure you tried meth which gives you a feeling of euphoria and increases sexual desire which switched your reward center in your brain into overdrive. This is where you need to increase your use to get the high or reward you felt the first time; which will never happen because you have already experienced it once. Now you are used to the combination of work and meth and you are dependent on them to function “normally.” I imagine it is hard to working without the meth and when or if you try you crave the substance which leads someone to relapse. You are correct in that it is a cycle and it is a cycle anyone can break if they learn and use new tools in recovery. Recovery is not easy and requires a person to develop new coping skills to use instead of the obsessive compulsive behavior. I will go into more detail about all of the topics I have touched on above in the Pineapple support group on Sundays. I hope you keep fighting for yourself.

Sincerely,
Nicki Line LMHC CST

Acknowledging my Addiction – by Rogan Damiana

Addiction has affected me in some way my entire life. Starting with family members who had problems with addiction to my own issues with substance control in my adult life. I didn’t used to think I had a problem. Drinking was a massive part of my social interaction. Alcohol allowed me to be “fun”. At least that is what I told myself. I didn’t drink during the day; I wasn’t missing work or life events. I just partied hard when I did socialize until the partying turned into an every evening event.

I would immediately start drinking most nights when I got home from work and continue until I could no longer stay awake. Binge drinking was something I had heard of but was not associating with myself.

This destructive path of using binge drinking to cope with my complete unhappiness with my life finally culminated in a very nearly successful suicide attempt in April 2018. I had decided I was done trying and overdosed on my anxiety meds plus a gross amount of alcohol. I will never forget the jarring feeling I had waking up in the ICU, then reading my discharge papers detailing my overdose. It was in that moment I knew I had to change my destructive behavior.

The sense of comfort alcohol provided was false. It was wrecking my body physically and causing more stress mentally than it was relieving. I had allowed alcohol to bring out the worst of myself, hurting the people around me who loved me. The amount of money I wasted on numbing myself is staggering. I can think of so many more meaningful ways I could have used that money. Getting unstuck from negative thought patterns like that has helped me to move forward.

Staying sober from alcohol has not been easy but forgiving myself for the mistakes I made helps with the process. We can not change the past. I can’t take back the hateful words I used or actions I took out of anger with myself. The effects of my actions will always be.

For me recovery is changing the way I live. Through therapy and my small circle of support, I work consistently to change my thinking. The biggest challenge I have faced in this process is liking myself. Redirecting my perspective to acknowledge the positive aspects of my life and accomplishments helps combat the negative self-talk. When I start to get overwhelmed, I remind myself that I am doing everything possible to fix my life and that change takes time. There is already a noticeable difference in how I handle adverse situations that come up. Instead of immediately intoxicating myself to avoid dealing with the negative, I think through what actions I can take to make things better.

My social life has changed considerably since stopping my alcohol use and I have learned to be ok with that. Watching people I used to spend a lot of time with drift away has been hard. I hold no bad feelings towards this, relationships shift and change all the time. While being around others who are drinking is not a trigger for me, I have found I do not enjoy those environments anymore. I don’t hold that in common with those people that were in my life previously.

I also found that I had to strengthen my confidence in letting people know I do not drink. While to me it isn’t an issue that I don’t drink, I have received a variety of reactions when telling others. When I started this journey I would feel uncomfortable turning down a drink when offered because of the follow up questions that frequently followed. The well meaning “oh, one drink won’t hurt”, “but you’re so fun when you drink”, and my least favorite to deal with the misguided pity responses. In my ideal world just saying no would be enough. When pressed I generally reply with “Alcohol and I do not agree anymore” and leave it at that. I still go out; I still like to see live music and art shows. Now I do it without masking my anxiety with alcohol. I take a minute to go outside if the crowd is overwhelming. Also, allowing myself to be ok with

leaving an outing earlier than others helps so much. I enjoy myself and when I’m out of social energy it is time to go home. Putting my health and well being first felt weird in the beginning, but soon became a habit I don’t even notice anymore.

Addiction looks and feels different for all of us. It is a very personal issue to deal with. I hope sharing my story and how I handle this continuing journey will bring some hope. It is possible to survive after addiction and while it isn’t always easy, keep going. There will still be days that suck and challenge you. Every small change you make to create a better life for yourself will pay off. The proof I have to offer is myself. I am still here, still breathing, still trying, and succeeding. I hope this gives you the energy to try too.

If you would like to contribute to addiction month, please submit your article or video to contact@pineapplesupport.org

Submissions can remain anonymous.

5 Things to Remember in Early Sobriety

Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

So here you are in early recovery. You’ve decided to get sober, and you’re feeling okay most days. You know that the tough times are coming, and early sobriety isn’t easy. Here are the five things to remember in early recovery to help you stay sober.

1. Fill your downtime
Especially in early recovery, it can be hard to have downtime. Your substance use consumed your time, and now that your sober, what will you do with the extra time on your hands?

Avoid idle downtime by filling your schedule with things to do. Whether it’s visiting friends, going to a 12-step meeting, or working on your to-do list, don’t sit around aimlessly. Your addiction is wanting you to give it an excuse to use, which can be avoided by staying busy.

2. Get back in touch with your hobbies
Many times in active addiction, it’s easy to lose touch with the things you use to enjoy doing. Now that your sober, you have more time to enjoy hobbies or things that interest you.

If you are struggling to remember what these are, think back to what you enjoyed doing growing up. Did you play video games, draw, or play the guitar? Have you wanted to try something new like painting, yoga, or getting a pet? Try making a list of things that interest you and pick a new one each week. Hobbies will help you find enjoyment in the little things that you use to not have time for.

3. Get active
Your body wants to move, and being active in your sobriety is a great coping skill. Your brain used to be stimulated by substances that released feel-good chemicals, and now that they are not triggered, you’ll need to access them through exercise.

Sure, you can’t 100% simulate the high you received from your substance of choice, but being active can access the same area of the brain. Have you ever heard of a runner’s high? It’s the feeling you get after running that makes you feel like you are on top of the world. Find some form of exercise or physical activity that you enjoy.

4. Find your triggers and how to cope
Everyone has different things that trigger them to one to use. Whether it’s people, places, or things, you need to know which ones to watch out for in your recovery. Make a list of things that make you want to use your substance of choice. No matter how small or large they are, add them to the list.

After you have listed your triggers, then identify a coping skill you will use with each of them. For example, going into a particular place where you used may be a trigger for you. One coping skill is to avoid the location for a while, or you will have someone who supports your recovery with you when you go there. Knowing your triggers and how to cope with each of them will help you stay sober.

5. Surround yourself with support
The more supportive people you have around you, the better chance you’ll have in early recovery. Whether it’s friends, family, a sponsor, or other sober people, remember that you are not alone.

You will feel like you’re the only one, so avoid being alone and isolative. Force yourself to get outside and around others. Challenge yourself to reach out to one person each day, even if it’s only a few minutes. Doing this will keep you in the habit of staying connected.

Recovery from your substance of choice is hard, but you’ve done harder things in your life. Your sobriety will be challenged daily, so you’ll have to recommit each day you wake up. As time goes by, it will get easier, but you’ll need to stay focused on doing what’s right for you and not those around you.

Taking it one day at a time can be too difficult, so break it down to one hour or one minute at a time. Your future is worth it, and you can’t have it while you are in active addiction.

How do I know if I’m an addict?

The word “addiction” is a strange one. It’s thrown around everyday speech like it’s a normal everyday occurrence. We’ll hear people say, “Oh, I’m addicted to Netflix” ….. “I’m so addicted to chocolate / buying shoes”….and so on and so on. But we shouldn’t really be saying that, because addiction in its most serious forms is a silent killer, and a mental, physical, emotional and spiritual illness, affecting every part of our being – and our loved one’s too.

So how do we know if we’re an addict? Surely everyone is addicted to something, and if everyone is doing it, then it can’t be that bad, right? Hopefully this article will give some insight as to how to recognise some of the lesser known signs of addiction.

Primarily, addiction is about consequences – the results of our behaviour. The World Health Organisation recognises addiction is “continuous use despite negative consequences”.

We can trick ourselves into thinking, “well, I didn’t hurt anyone, so what’s the big deal? No negative consequences for me”. But challenge yourself to consider your emotional consequences – shame, guilt, self sabotage, anxiety, depression. Do these things keep happening after you act out on your addiction? Then it’s a consequence. What about the consequences on your family and loved one’s? What would they say about your addiction?

Are you keeping it secret? That’s a consequence. When we really take a fearless, moral inventory of our behaviour, it requires us to take a long hard look at ourselves and can reveal uncomfortable truths.

Amongst recovery circles, there’s a saying, “secrets keep you sick”. Often that’s the pull of addiction – it becomes a secret. Thrilling at first, then as it progresses (and it will because that’s the very nature of addiction) the secret becomes bigger and bigger, until it becomes too big to share.

Denial and comparison are two other things to look out for with our addictive behaviours. These two keep our addiction secret. We’ll often hear people say, “well, I can’t be an addict, because I only do it on the weekends”. But addiction is not about quantity, it’s about the effect that it has on your life and the lives of those around you. There is always a cause and effect to all of our behaviour – even if we don’t know the people who are involved in our acting out.

When we start to look out for our own individual signs of addiction, we’ll often find that the slippery slope to addiction starts with us reacting to the same triggers, whether that’s a person, place or thing. But one thing which is common to all addicts is the sense of wanting “MORE” and not hearing that self-regulation button of stopping. And that’s the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results.

Hopefully this article gives more of an insight rather than a directive as to where you’re at with your own journey of addiction. Remember – if in doubt, speak it out. There is always someone who has been on a similar journey. Promise. X

 

Written by Camilla Simpson