Dr. Bubnik-Harrison with Kennedy Krieger Talks About Helping Families Through Stressful Times

During times of stress we can all use a little guidance. Dr. Bubnik-Harrison with Kennedy Krieger talks openly with me about how families can work through times of stress with compassion and understanding for each other. Whether that be dealing with current events like Covid-19 or any stressful situation such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a pet, a big move, etc. There are professionals at Kennedy Krieger available to help guide you through long term scenarios or those random curve balls life likes to throw at us. Advice and insight for children and juveniles from ages 5-20. (Telehealth services available)

Insight for how to address and work through trauma, how to address behavior issues that may arise from stress or anxiety, and how parents and caregivers can make sure they are meeting their own needs while caring for others.

Below is some helpful information from SAMHSA about talking with children during infectious disease outbreaks. For more publications on this topic and other valuable insight, please visit their website.

Telehealth Services During COVID 19

During the COVID-19 crisis many health insurance companies are offering coverage for telehealth services. Here is a list of local mental health providers offering telehealth.

There is so much happening in the world around us. Our daily routines have been all but shattered, and in their place sometimes it seems all that is left is chaotic uncertainty. Many parents are worried about the lasting effects of unstructured days, lack of schooling, lost time with friends, and excess screen time are going to have on their children. While these cares and concerns are valid, the short answer is, it will all be ok. Breathe, and repeat after me, it will all be ok. This is a temporary curve ball, a temporary detour to our daily lives. It is definitely a time of uncertainty and heavy doses of anxiety, but this is not forever.Whether we are talking about widespread illness like COVID 19 or any other potentially difficult circumstances we may face at any point during our lives, any time of change, uncertainty, struggle, fear or sadness can have a big impact on our quality of life. During difficult times it is important to remember that our internal dialogue is just as important as the messages we are receiving from the world around us. Take time to be mindful and present. Acknowledge that you don’t have to have it all figured out. Tell yourself, I am enough, I am safe, I am loved, I am not alone, and we will get through this together. As far as schedules, parents should not stress themselves out trying to recreate the perfect school environment at home. Every moment of your child’s day does not need to be filled with magic and creativity or planned out perfectly by the hour. However, having a general layout or plan for the day can help keep everyone feeling a little more centered and focused. Don’t feel guilty about a little extra screen time during these difficult periods, many parents have found themselves being full time caregiver, housekeeper, teacher, and working from home. This is a lot of hats to wear and you don’t need to meet any expectation of perfection. Give yourself grace, you are doing the best you can. Allow your children to use the available technology to stay connected with friends and loved ones.

Even with a calm approach to uncertainty in the home, sometimes it’s helpful to get insight and advice from a professional. If you or a family member could use someone to talk to throughout this time of uncertainty there are many mental health providers offering telehealth services to aid those in need while keeping in accordance with social distancing. Listed below are several local providers offering telehealth services. Many are in network with all major insurance carriers including Medicare.

Greater Baltimore Counseling Center (counseling and med management)

Annapolis Child and Family Therapy CenterSafe Harbour Christian CounselingHealthwaves Counseling LLC

Amanda Fincher (specializes in teen and pre teen girls)

Spectrum Behavioral Health

Together Couples Counseling

PDG Therapeutics

Chesapeake Bay Psychological Services

Kennedy Krieger Institute behavioral psychology department 443-923-7508

Baltimore Annapolis Center for Integrative Healing

Mirror Mental Health

Bridgewater Psychology

Anchored Hope Therapy

Innovative Therapeutic Services

Park Wellness Group

Baltimore Washington Counseling Center

Argo Counseling

Solace Family Counseling

Align Counseling & Wellness

Anne Arundel Counseling

Sara Pula

Shawna Bohn Lindberg 410-913-6211

Marie Burgess Marie@thompsonchildtherapy.com

Sue Knight LCSW-C 410-349-6371

Eileen Martini Eamartini@aol.com

Don’t Stop Celebrating

In difficult times of widespread uncertainty it can be hard to find a reason to celebrate. I assure you, if you look hard enough ways and reasons to celebrate are bountiful. Now more than ever, we need to remain positive. We need to remember that life can still be beautiful. We need to seek the joy in every moment. The joys might be hidden, but look harder, I promise they are there.

I wanted to share with you today a positive morning thought: though my celebrations may be smaller, their significance is no less meaningful. Today is Saint Patrick’s day and while we may have some disappointed children that they are not doing fun activities at school…. (and maybe even disappointed adults at the lack of festivities) let us still find ways to celebrate at home. My children had sprinkles in their milk this morning, my attempt at ‘magic milk’ when I realized we were out of green food coloring. We participated in a neighborhood wide activity of coloring shamrocks and taping them to our front doors so whoever goes on a walk this afternoon can see how many they spot. It’s the little things that spark excitement. It’s the little things that remind us that while we may be socially distant, we are still very much connected. Morning FaceTime chats with friends, virtual wine dates, afternoon crafts… these are all moments to find joy in and reasons to celebrate.

Many people are celebrating birthdays, anniversary’s, births, and other exciting events. Life does move forward even though it feels as though everything has come to a screeching halt. Don’t stop living, don’t stop loving, don’t stop celebrating. Use this time to celebrate in your home with those who mean the most to you. Have FaceTime parties, play games, seek meaningful ways to let your loved ones know you care. Yes our celebrations may be smaller but we still have much to celebrate. ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

Stay Home And Stay Safe, The Most Vulnerable Among Us Are Relying On Sound Choices

I found this article to be quite insightful and informative with regards to explaining why play dates are not advised.

Pediatrician Urges Parents To Cancel Play Dates

Before reading this article I also want to state that I am fully aware that there are some parents who are still utilizing their childcare services because as of right now they have no alternatives. The other article I have linked to is the statewide expanded efforts to provide safe and effective childcare for those who have to face this impossible decision. As one mother put it “I am between a financial rock and a crisis hard place.” As governor Hogan stated, for many parents childcare during this time of crisis is still an essential service. As things continue to progress we will have to see if childcare facilities remain open but while they are please exercise extreme caution.

Governor Hogan Enacts Emergency Order to Expand Access to Child Care During COVID-19 State of Emergency

We are in this together and we will love and support each other through this difficult time without judgement. Kindness, compassion, and sound decision making are the only way we will all make it through this especially those most at risk. If you are utilizing childcare please do your best to practice effective hygiene and safety measures and ensure your childcare facility is doing the same. Beyond childcare please have your children refrain from other social interactions. We are all in this together sweet sisters and with love and hope and sound choices we will all come out on the other side and protect the most vulnerable while doing so.

How Humor is Used to Combat Stress

I wanted to talk for a moment about humor. Humor has long been an integral part of modern humanity. Humor is a social salve of sorts and often a universal language. Much like tears, a smile, or a wave, laughter spans languages and cultures.

Now a sense of humor itself varies greatly person to person. Our individual sense of humor is just as unique and versatile as our personalities. Just as we all have different tastes in food or music, different style preferences, or different hobbies we find enjoyment in, we all have different things we find funny and ultimately different senses of humor… some are more vulgar or crass than others, others are dry, others go for shock value, but laughter itself is universal. Now humor should never be at the expense of another person, bullying or belittling another individual, or saying derogatory statements are pretty easy to take offense to and for good reason. Racism is not funny, sexism is not funny, hate speech is not funny etc. Humor has its boundaries.

That being said, humor has a long history of being used to combat fears and navigate social issues. Humor itself is a rather effective coping mechanism for stress.

Throughout history difficult times, stressful events, and oppressive social situations have been the subject of jokes and humorous interpretations.

There are entire television shows dedicated to taking a humorous view of current events, not because the events themselves are funny or not to be taken seriously but because humor can be a unification effort and a much needed reprieve from hard to swallow news or stressful scenarios.

Memes are a prime example of contemporary humor. These memes typically make light of situations or social scenarios that are are difficult to contend with. Humor takes the power of fear and stress away and replaces it with something easier to contend with.

Not everyone will be able to find humor in every situation. What one person is able to see humor in, another might take great offense to. It is important however to realize that neither of these positions are wrong or right as they are two different approaches and two different emotional responses to the same stress, fear, or social concern.

We all have different coping mechanisms and what works for one individual may or may not work for another. The same goes for humor. I personally am able to find humor in most situations, but I am also a person who uses sarcasm as a form of coping as well.

Humor is a very personal thing but can be a very effective tool in managing and processing stressful or frightening situations. Find something to laugh about today, a meme, a joke book (omg my kids love these), a sitcom, a Netflix special, funny animal videos… whatever it is, give yourself a laugh! My kids play this game in the car where they make funny faces at each other to see who will laugh first, it’s ridiculous to watch but their laughter is pure.

I have posted links below to several articles that explain the psychology behind humor and why it is an integral part of human nature. Feel free to share your go to for humorous reprieve.

https://www.verywellmind.com/maintain-a-sense-of-humor-3144888

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

https://psychcentral.com/lib/humor-as-weapon-shield-and-psychological-salve/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/arts-and-health/200806/humor-the-human-gift-coping-and-survival

https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/awfully-funny

Covid 19 Resources

When facing times of uncertainty let us remain certain of one thing… we do not face these times alone. We can find comfort and solace in knowing that we are here to love and support each other through times of fear and uncertainty. #StrongerTogether

Need someone to talk to?

MMH Joy Squad (Utilizes Facebook Messenger)

Crisis Text Line 741741

Domestic violence and volatile family situations

www.JCADA.org

YWCA

Maryland Public Schools Food Services and Anne Arundel County Services

https://www.caringcupboardllc.com/

Anne Arundel County: http://aacpsschools.org/pressr/?p=5653

Howard County: https://news.hcpss.org/news-posts/2020/03/hcpss-to-provide-free-meals-during-school-closures-meal-service-march-17-27-2020/

Prince George’s County: https://www.pgcps.org/Inside-PGCPS/2019-2020/Student-Meals-Available-During-School-Closures/

Carroll County: https://www.carrollk12.org/about/news/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=2770

Harford County: https://www.hcpsmenus.com/

Charles County: https://www.ccboe.com/pr/free-breakfast-lunch-available-for-children-during-closure/

Montgomery County: (announcement today at some time) www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org

Kent County: http://www.kent.k12.md.us/ (top of page)

Caroline County: https://www.carolineschools.org/ccps-blog/ccps-to-provide-meals-throughout-the-school-closure/

Wicomico County: https://www.wcboe.org/home (slideshow at top of page)

Garrett County: https://www.garrettcountyschools.org/news/2020/03/gcps-to-provide-meals-for-students

Dorchester County: info to come http://www.dcps.k12.md.us/news/news-archives/item/407-coronavirus-update

Frederick County: https://www.fcps.org/update

Additional Resources

MD Department of Health (MDH)

Information on COVID-19 background, prevention, guidance for travel, preparedness measures, www.health.maryland.gov/coronavirus

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

Up to date information on background, severity, risk assessment, etc. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

Guidelines for People at Risk for Serious Illness

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html

Registered Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus COVID-2:

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-03/documents/sars-cov-2-list_03-03-2020.pdfr

***Please refer to our full resource list for more information on food pantries and emergency needs. ***

AAMC Mental Health Hospital

The J. Kent McNew Family Medical Center will be a pivotal point in providing expanded access to mental health care for Maryland residents. Mental health and the care that is needed to address it is severely lacking nationwide. It is often misunderstood and underfunded. AAMC is striving to do their part in changing the narrative of how their patients’ needs are addressed. Just this past month Anne Arundel County declared suicide a public health crisis and urged the health department to take appropriate action to address these critical issues. From the AAHS website “According to the county’s Community Health Needs Assessment, mental health is one of the highest health care priorities.”

The goal of the J. Kent McNew medical center is to provide quality, comprehensive and integrated care in one location for those needing mental health help. Services provided at the new facility will include:

-Inpatient mental health care

-A psychiatric partial hospitalization program

-Intensive outpatient programs

-Residential and outpatient substance use services

-Referral and care coordination to community-based treatment and support services

The new facility is described as a “56,000-square-foot, four-story building designed with both safety and aesthetics in mind for the care of patients and families. The goal being a space that delivered a sense of light, calm and peace.” It truly delivers just that. The colors, the natural light, the art, the décor, and the overall feel of the entire facility is one of tranquility and healing.

The facility has 16 beds. These beds are all in private rooms with en-suite bathrooms providing comfort, and privacy in a safe and well monitored environment. Rooms overlook the courtyard and are flooded with natural light. Even the hallways are bright and open. Soothing artwork and calming colors are found throughout the facility offering a feel of safety, comfort, and reprieve. There are several areas where families can visit with patients as well as several group rooms and a common area. The nurse’s station is currently open to the common area in the hope that it will feel more welcoming and less closed off to those under the care of facility staff.

The courtyard can be utilized by patients with doctor’s approval and staff supervision. It will also be utilized for certain group sessions enabling care to be provided in the fresh air and natural environment. Patients will be in group sessions the majority of the day with social workers, psychiatrists, and therapists. While the inpatient beds are currently only available for adult patients, the intensive day program is approved for adolescents ages 13-17.

To be admitted to the facility patients can be transferred through any Maryland emergency department or through a referring doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist. The facility can currently support 16 adult individuals for in patient care, and 12 adolescents and 22 adults for the day program.

J Kent McNew Family Medical Center is located at 175 Harry S. Truman Pkwy, Annapolis, MD 21401

When Panic Consumes You

We live in an era of information. We have a near constant barrage of information overload. This overwhelming digital era can bring fear and mass panic just as much as it can bring enlightened education. Knowledge is power, but it is a power that has to be harnessed and used effectively. Just as some panic and fear is caused by the unknown, or a lack of information and understanding, there is also fear and panic that can be caused as a result of having too much access to information or becoming obsessive over the information obtained.

Fear is a primitive emotion and essential to the success of evolution and the survival of our species.  A healthy sense of fear serves to keep us safe from harm and guide us away from risky circumstances or poor decisions. Fear can also become our downfall. Rather than protecting us, it can ultimately be our demise. Rather than encouraging us to live a life well protected, unchecked fear, or fear in excess can encourage us to live a life of isolation, and a life covered in a blanket of inescapable fear, panic, worry, and anxiety.

How do we protect ourselves from panic when faced with fear? How do we navigate situations, circumstances, and events that invoke fear and inspire panic? We find a balance. We rectify our emotions with our logical understanding.

When you feel the familiar sense of fear and panic starting to take hold, when your mind seems to spin endlessly trying to find solutions to anxiety inducing problems that seem to be without answer or remedy, first take pause. Take a moment to first acknowledge what you are feeling. Without guilt, without shame, without hesitation, without judgement, without frustration, acknowledge what you are feeling. Think of your brain as a small child experiencing a moment a fear. The small child runs to their trusted adult and relays their fears looking for comfort. Now imagine that small child seeking comfort is pushed aside, dismissed, ignored, or told that their fears are stupid and unfounded. Will that small child feel better? Will their fears be resolved? Treat yourself with the same loving care you would that small child. “I am scared and that’s ok” “I’m worried about ….” “I feel panicked and I don’t even know why.” “I am anxious and I am having trouble calming down and unpacking my thoughts.” Identify your feelings, put them into words, give them an identity, and speak them into existence so you can then begin to address them effectively.

Once you acknowledge your feelings, accept them as being valid even if they don’t quite make logical sense. “I accept that I am feeling this way.” “I honor my emotions.” “These emotions have something to teach me.” “My mind is trying to send me a message and I am ready and open to receiving it.” Even if a small child’s fears are unfounded we would first accept that they are fearful of something. “I know you are afraid of the dark and that’s ok.” Then, after accepting their fear as valid, we move on to an appropriate solution.

First distinguish fact from fiction. Is the thing I am panicked or anxious about factual? No? Tell yourself that what you are fearing does not exist. Tell yourself that you are safe. Tell yourself that there is no reason to fear things that have not happened, things that do not exist, and things that no longer have an effect on you. If what you are fearing is factual, greet panic with calculated action. Panic is a distraction from action. Panic serves to keep us in an endless loop of anxiety induced inaction. It serves to keep us running in circles but making no real progress. Define the problem or root cause and then begin to find ways of addressing it. Step 1, step 2, step 3… and so forth. What small measures can you take to either solve the issue, or at the very least decrease its effect on you? Not all problems will have solutions that fully resolve what is causing us fear, harm, or panic. But regardless of the severity of the issue at hand there is always some small measure we can take to reduce its impact. We are in control, maybe not always to the degree we would like, but we are in control.

When we are facing a fear inducing situation take a moment to decipher an appropriate response from an exaggerated one. Are the actions you are taking excessive serving to only to amplify your fears, or are your actions appropriate serving to take ownership and control?

In our moments of fear, worry, anxiety, and panic, take a moment to reassess. Take a moment to reframe. Take a moment to recenter. Take deep calming breaths. Calm the central nervous system. Slow the breath. Slow the heart rate. Repeat to yourself a soothing phrase. “I am safe.” “I am in control.” “I am knowledgeable.” “I am not alone.” Relax in a darkened room removing unnecessary stimuli. Take a walk. Call a friend. Distract with something soothing such as music, or a book. Know when to log off, or disconnect. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the information you are consuming, know when it is time to step back and take a break.

Fear is a part of life but it is meant to be used by you for your benefit, it is not meant to be the user in control.

International Women’s Day

My sisters …. you are so loved, so strong, and so worthy.

Happy women’s day to all of my unstoppable sisters.

How many times have you been called a ‘good girl’? How many times have you been told to ‘be good’? If you are anything like me, you have been hearing words like these almost your entire life. Societally speaking, females should strive to be good, be kind, be pretty, and be pleasant. But as Laurel Thatcher Ulrich once stated “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Now before we start talking about the incredible power and strength each of us empowered women harness within the very fibers of our being, let’s clarify that we don’t have to ‘go rogue’ to be taken seriously. We don’t have to abandon femininity and trample on our inherent gentleness. These things can go hand in hand. Goodness does not exclude strength, and a fierce sense of power does not negate a kind heart or a gentle soul. Respect and power go hand in hand. ‘Good girls’ can also be fierce warriors for themselves and those they love. As females, we have a gentle kind of power. Our gentleness is part of our strength and only half of our power. We have the power to soothe souls with our actions and heal hearts with our words. We are compassionate creatures with a unique ability to bring about change and understanding through dignity and grace. But our gentle nature is balanced by our fierce desire for righteousness, respect, and equality. We have a gift of great power. We have the power to create. The power to influence. And the power to defend. We will not stand idly by while a sister is wronged. We stand up for others in their time of need because we know when our time of weakness comes, we too will be supported by a sisterhood ready for battle. We demand respect but we strive to do so first with gentleness and grace rather than force and coercion. If however our gentleness and grace are disregarded, we harness that internal fire and we unleash the true potential of the fierce warrior housed within our hearts.

Be kind, be strong, be loved, be well, be you.