ADHD in Creative People
A frequent client of Creativity Counseling presents with symptoms and/or a diagnosis of ADHD. Symptoms of ADHD are presentations that mimic traits of creative personalities- you don't need to be afraid of them! You can reclaim it! Every person is different, and personalities are expressed within individual lives differently, but for purposes of explanation, we can divide into two main categories: Adults and Children with ADHD signs and symptoms.
Creative Children with ADHD Signs and Symptoms
We could really further subdivide this group into girl presenting symptoms and boy presenting symptoms (I say girl and boy presenting to gender the the symptom type more than the kiddo, because really the symptom type can belong to anyone- and I reservedly keep the labels so that when you hear them externally you will recognize the categories and be able to communicate with the commonly used terms).
Traditional "girl" presenting ADHD symptoms look like "zoning out," distractibility, trouble concentrating, changing focus from one task to another, organizing logistics, and frustration when plans change, I call this type the "dreamer" type, because this type is highly intuitive, creative and invested in their own creative world, and is often highly intelligent in visual arts, reading and writing.
Traditional "boy" presenting ADHD symptoms look like difficulty concentrating also, but especially when not interested in the task at hand, while hyper focus can occur with tasks they are interested in, as well as hyper motor functioning, both in sound (sound effects and/or chattiness) wiggliness, problems sitting still. I call this type the "builder" type because this type is often highly intelligent in STEM subjects like math, science and engineering.
Let's get this out of the way: just because a child shows characteristics of ADHD does NOT mean they have DIAGNOSABLE ADHD. Many if not most children who are highly creative will demonstrate characteristics of builder and/or dreamer type ADHD. Certainly it is important to recognize when diagnosis of a clinical disorder is necessary, and I will provide supportive care to that end, but what I will also do, is back you down when you are feeling overwhelmed, and help you see when a creative child can be supported as such and you can feel empowered with the skillset your kiddo was born with!
Why do creative kiddos have ADHD signs and symptoms? Let's talk about executive functioning. Executive functioning is the part of your brain that is essentially in charge of multitasking. It is the RAM of your brain. In kiddos, like everything, that is under development. We know that creative people, kiddos are no exception, feel things strongly. Have strong emotions. Emotions happen where? In our executive functioning centers (at least at first!) Imagine strong and powerful emotions that kiddos are still learning to regulate, flooding those still developing executive functioning centers, taking up all of the available RAM. What might that look like? Difficulty engaging in a task if they don't like it? Difficulty changing gears if they are fully invested in a task? Difficult emotional regulation? "Zoning out" when they are dreaming or fantasizing? Yep. All of these. They are not broken. They are highly creative. And- just like ADHD is genetic- so is Creativity- so a parent is highly creative if a kiddo is. That means, parents, get your own creative mind understood and healthy, and you can help your kiddo, too!
Creative Adults with ADHD Signs and Symptoms
So you have muddled through your life with overwhelm. You have struggled through making schedules and to-do lists. Organization is not your forte. Emotional regulation is difficult. You have wondered about ADHD, but felt embarrassed. Maybe you have been diagnosed or a medical person has suggested testing to you. Maybe you have been diagnosed as a child and hoped things would be better by now- that you would outgrow some of this stuff. Did you know that being highly Creative can look like ADHD, and this difficulties can actually be your creative strengths in disguise?!
Many symptoms of ADHD and your Creative Personality are the same. Which one do you have? Maybe both. Maybe you have been misdiagnosed and it has been your Creative Personality that has needed supporting all along! It all has to do with that ever-important executive functioning center.
Your executive functioning is the RAM of your brain. It is where "what is happening now" is getting processed- and the size and ability is limited (read: only so much can happen at once). Let's add to this what we know about Creative Personalities: You Live Large. Large feelings, need for meaning, drive for authenticity, investment in activities. When one of these tasks is "online" it takes up most of your RAM. If we apply this concept to what we know of ADHD, suddenly we are seeing a clearer picture! Imagine yourself doing the last thing you really enjoyed, then how difficult it was to feel interrupted? Or, conversely, how hard was it to focus on something that you really did not want to do? While both of these could be signs of ADHD, they are also hallmarks of a Creative Personality with big feelings- strong investment filling executive functioning making it hard to disengage, or, strong aversion filling executive functioning making it hard to engage. Having a Creative Personality is a wonderful gift- but you need to know the controls and how to drive- otherwise you can be left feeling confused and overwhelmed instead of empowered and in a state of natural flow.
When you are wondering about symptoms of ADHD, or have struggled with issues in executive functioning, by understanding your Creative brain, and learning how to support your Creative Personality, you will be able to live your life in a state of flow and ease by working with your natural born tools, rather than fighting against them! If you are ready to end the struggle and start living with your natural born strengths, Creativity Counseling is for you!
Hello, Artist ❤️
Have you been feeling a lack of energy in your creative practice? Have you been feeling isolated and lonely from friends and other artists? Have you lost sight of your creative purpose or experienced a loss in your creative meaning-making?
The past few years have impacted artists in diverse ways- but these are some of the themes I have been hearing in the Creatively rooms, and I have been working on creating something I can do to help.
I would like to invite you to the beta test of my new initiative at Creatively: the Virtual Retreat! Artist Retreats are designed to give artists dedicated time and space to their creative work. I am adding to this dedicated virtual space to connect with each other, with my professional tips and guidance to help you creatively get back on track.
During the Artist Residency, you can expect:
1) To create studio space for yourselves that feels productive and allows you to work with a sense of ease
2) To begin to work within the structure of your daily life and commit to a daily practice for your artwork
3) To experience a sense of purpose and regular guidance, structure, and tools of residency
4) To experience motivation of regular work in dedicated time of daily practice and space applied to the commitment to present in a show at the end of the residency
5) You will participate in an online community of other artists in residency for support, motivation, and guidance
6) You will participate in an art show at the end of the residency to present your work to each other and the community
7) You will learn the importance of dedicated time, space, routine, commitment, and community to personal goals and progress as an artist
8) You will have the opportunity to add additional support with coaching add-ons throughout residency
I would love to have you join us for this amazing opportunity. I plan to launch the artists in residency program from September 27- October 24. The sign-up deadline is September 19! If you are interested in participating in the residency, email me for your members-only login info to get started. That's it! There is nothing else that you need to join.
I am so excited to share this opportunity with each of you. It is going to be an amazing time!
Artists! This month I am pleased to bring you an interview with a working artist- Racquel Keller. Racquel and I sat down for a lovely outdoor lunch as we discussed her creative career, and how she discovered herself as a creative artist:
Cindy: Thank you for joining me this month in the Artist Spotlight, Racquel! Please tell us what you currently do creatively?
Racquel: Mixed media and assemblage. Mixed media predominately enjoying assembling and disassembling pre-Rafaelites- a secret society of young male artists founded in London in the early 1800s- I am transforming male gaze stereotypes from the late 1800s to a modern female gaze. It is an overall exploration of my artistic voice and style.
Cindy: Wow! I hadn’t heard of pre-Rafaelites before. This is really cool (looks at some of Racquel’s current pieces- don’t worry! I will share where you can see her work at the end!) Racquel your work is amazing and exciting. What else can you share with us about yourself? Any quirks or tidbits that will help us understand who your are?
Racquel: I live in a farmette in the DMV. My studio is in a little red barn- I purchased the house for the barn! I like to hike- there are beautiful walking trails I enjoy with my dog close to my home- I am very inspired by nature. A benefit for me of the pandemic was being home more- I fell back in love with my studio and the natural landscape. Oh- and something unusual that is very “me”? I once jumped out of plane because I was afraid of riding rollercoasters. Really! I was afraid of heights so I thought I would just skip to the solution and face my fear head on- what better way than sky diving?!
Cindy: (laughs) Wow, Racquel! That does sound like you! What causes more growth than moving through fears?! Epic. I love the visual of your studio in a little red barn. What an inspiring space! When did you first realize that you had a creative mind and saw that world in a special way?
Racquel: I have been drawing since I was very young- I became conscious that I didn’t quite think like everyone else around age 11 or 12. I remember at that age during a move finding beauty in a broken faucet- I was always an acclimator and finding beauty all around - I didn’t know this wasn’t the usual way to see the world.
Cindy: This is such a typical creative brain way to see the world. I like the way you said “acclimator”- I also say “intuitive” often- so in touch with your senses and feelings. That’s lovely. What was one of the first creative projects you can remember doing?
Racquel: It was in Kindergarten. Putting my hand in plaster for a handprint project- I remember thinking “this is amazing!” I remember other art projects around that age like painting a heart shaped rock for my Dad for Father’s day- this is when I discovered paint mixing- and that if you mix all the paints together you get gray (laughs) I used all the colors and ended with the natural color of my rock!
Cindy: One of the most amazing things about children! They aren’t afraid to explore and play. It is something we would do well to go back to as creative adults! Tell us something about how you grew up that shaped you in a creative way?
Racquel: Moving around a lot. Creativity and art were my one constant. They kept me even-keeled. They helped me lift myself out of day-to-day and forget about everything for just a little while.
Cindy: You were so resilient! Even as a kid, somewhere you knew that being creative was authentic- and by doing that you were coming home to yourself. I love it. These are the things, looking back to our childhood stories, that tell us we have the imperative to create! Creative people are highly intelligent- and that can present itself diversely in the educational system. Tell us about your experience in school?
Racquel: I learned very early on that everything has a system and if you can learn the system you can make it serve you . Answering- "what does this teacher want?”- can serve you well in school. I was also outspoken when a question wasn’t relevant or thought-out. I remember I used a college textbook in high school and realized teachers don’t know everything! Pretty early on I had no problem correcting teachers when they were wrong.
Cindy: There is that creative brain showing up again! Adaptation and intuition- learning the system and implementing it when it serves- not being afraid to reject it when it doesn’t- THAT is the groundwork for innovation. I would love to see more knowledge and nurturing of creative kiddos doing this in the school system. Good for you! What did you want to do professionally? Is that what you ended up doing? What paths have your creative opportunities taken?
Racquel: I always wanted to be an artist but I did work in a law firm for 15 years. I realized at a certain point that this was not what I was supposed to be doing and started working with a life coach to transition into working as a full time professional artist. The most important thing I learned was to ask for help. Money was a fear but not as much of an obstacle. You can always go back to a skillset. I have been continually reinventing myself. If you remember you can do that it releases a lot of fear. It is important to remember you are your own most valuable resource.
Cindy: Facts and wisdom, Racquel! So true. I love this. That inner knowledge and follow through is gorgeous. I get a lot of clients showing up because they are at the precipice of this. This is a hard move! I love that you are an artist who took it, survived, and is telling the tale! Amazing. What have been some of your biggest creative fears?
Racquel: (laughs) That I will die with a garage full of art! It keeps me moving forward!
Cindy: Yes! That is such a motivating fear! It is so forward! And I love that. What was your biggest creative failure?
Racquel: I don’t see things as failures so much as redirections. I have a file that says not “rejected,” but “not yet” for applications that didn’t go through. It has been a small but powerful shift for me to go from “why in the world would they pick me?” to “why in the world wouldn’t they pick me!?” When I am rejected from residencies and stuff, my heart of hearts says “I’m coming for you!”- my success is coming for you!
Cindy: I love this so much. Failures are just redirections- fate, life, or whatever showing you the path that serves! I am relabeling my files, stat. Internal validation is so crucial. Tell us about your first creative success and/or proudest moments.
Racquel: I think it is my show at Montgomery College! It was a beautiful experience. It was a realization of a direction that was very satisfying artistically. I made good artistic connections, and it was wonderful to be able to share my interpretation of the theme. I was surprised by my elegance- it gave me a different perspective on my own work and myself. It showed me what I was capable of.
Cindy: Shows are so great for that! The push, the connections, to step back and see yourself in a new way. I saw that show, Racquel, and it WAS all of those things! A great achievement. What are your creative plans for the next year?
Racquel: I have a residency coming up in France at the end of this year, and another in the Bahamas in July in 2022. Overall I want to focus on making my own work, and streamlining the process. I will be spending August in residence in my own studio to help solidify plans for next year. I need to take a break from teaching and giving in art to make plans for myself- making and getting more of my art out into the world.
Cindy: (wistful sigh) Residencies! Congratulations on these, Racquel! I can’t wait to hear more about them during and after! That is good wisdom to balance art outward (teaching) and inward (your own work). Now that you have accomplished so much, what is something you wish you knew, or looking back would tell a younger version of yourself?
Racquel: Whatever job you take is going to have difficulties, so you may as well do what you want to do. Put yourself in a place with other creatives. Leaving the law firm and working at the Phillips collection to be with like-minded people was one of the best decisions I made in my art career. Above all, stay focused and consistent. It will pay off!
Cindy: Wise words. It seems like younger you did hear and heed those, somehow! What does it mean to you, to be creative?
Racquel: It’s just life! Accepting yourself and who you are! It might be a little quirky or a little weird- but gosh would I want to be otherwise?! I guess overall I would say- it is settling into yourself.
Cindy: (hands in the air) Yes! Yes. 100% agree. Nature gives you a gift with things on board for your creativity. Know it. Accept it. Live it. Settle into yourself. Love this. If we want to follow your work, how can we see what you are up to and stay connected?
Racquel: The best way is on Instagram @racquelkellerart. I have a group for other artists- so if you are interested you can join this creative community on Facebook @purefirecreatives. I also interview the artists in the community and have a podcast on Spotify and Apple podcasts called Pure Fire Creatives.
Cindy: Racquel thank you so much for your time today. You are an inspiration to us and such a strength and support and talent in the arts community. We will be following your art career on social media- and everyone- buy her stuff! She is so talented!!
Want to be interviewed on the #creativelyblog? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org
(c) 2021 Creatively, LLC
Hello, Creative Mind! I recently reconnected on social media that I have been busy this past year fulfilling my dreams- I had an internal shift (sparked in part by the pandemic- did you?) Why wait? My dreams will happen only if I face the profound vulnerabilities that come along with their pursuit. I promised that I would tell you how it all happened- so- let’s start!
Let’s explore- through the lens of your life, your goals and your future. I have been studying the past few months with Creative Minds from all over the world in creativity classes with the Creativity Association and Eric Maisel- and the inspiration and wisdom is abundant and contagious! In classes this week we talked about the biological imperative of independence in creative people. Creative people are blessed with the need to make meaning of the world around them and find their own way, along with the energy and passions that it takes to accomplish this (read: it is not easy!) I talk often at Creatively about your personality having big feelings. Big passions. These are Nature’s way of giving you the tools you need to succeed at making meaning. It is important that you use them, however, because left idle they can become problematic.
Over the years I have had Creative Clients come to me with problems like chronic anxiety, depression, mood swings and other problems. I am not disputing that these things can be clinical. However, what I more frequently found was that these were creative personality assets misdirected or underused. When understood, channeled, supported and utilized by the bearer, chronic anxiety is a Creative Personality’s powerful drive to create. Mood swings are passion to work and understand the world around us. These are the tools nature gives us to work, understand, pursue, and grow. They are our passion and creative drive. When we don’t use them, doubt ourselves, let fear and mistrust of ourselves and others get in our way, we become frustrated, thwarted and unwell.
In many ways for myself and others, the pandemic acted as an existential reset for Creative People. It forced us to stop doing things that were distracting, less healthy or investments of our time and energy that didn’t serve us as well. It forced us to look at our lives and what mattered and reevaluate what was important to us, and how we interacted with our world, and what we wanted to say about it with our work.
Here are some realizations and changes that I made last year: I realized the way I was extending myself outwards energetically was unhealthy. I was sending out too much energy and leaving myself with too little to resulting in emotional and physical backlash. I made some important pivots in the way that I treated myself and ran my business to show up for myself and my clients in a more holistic and healthy way. I also decided it was time to face fears of scarcity and about my lifestyle and that it no longer served, and our family relocated and moved into the home of our dreams. And-I decided to fulfill a childhood dream to learn to ride horses.
There is so much more I could say about all of this but what I want to leave with you is Creatives are meaning makers. You have the internal strengths built in to do this work. Because of this not only is it important that you do the work, but it is also important that you simultaneously actualize what is meaningful to you in your own life. This will mean deep honesty within yourself, facing fears and working hard. Above all this will mean intense trust in those inner resources. The work is intense and difficult. The rewards are epic and without compare. You are a dreamer, Creative, but also made of the stuff you need to live those dreams.
Do you believe you can have the life of your dreams? I would love to help get you there.
(c) 2021 Creatively, LLC
Summer 2019 re-post- inspired by what has been in the rooms this week- please enjoy!:
Hello, Creatives! The Summer has truly swept me away in the best possible way- the warm air, butterflies and lightening bugs, soft breezes, sounds of cicadas and frogs, and bright sun green through the filter of leafy trees have taken every moment I can spare- but it does feel good to take a moment to sit and write to you again. I am both excited about today’s topic and inspired by the sensory experiences of Summer- today we will discuss sensory sensitivity in Creative People (say that five times fast!)
Like many of the gifts that our creative personalities give us, this, too, is a gift with two faces. We have explored in blog posts past (or if you have been on the Creatively couches, in the workshops, or in the groups) ad nauseam about the Creative Person’s expanded emotional capacity. The new information: with expanded emotional capacity comes an expanded sensory capacity. These two things together are what allow you to tap into and translate your experiences into your art form. Usually your senses are especially sensitive in the same lane as your preferred artistic expression: dancers are kinetically and tactile-ly more sensitive, musicians auditorily more sensitive, photographers, graphic designers, illustrators, painters are visually more sensitive, chefs and culinary artists may be more sensitive to tastes and smells and so on. While specifically more sensitive in a specific area, you are in fact more sensitive in all 5 senses overall as a creative person, generally speaking. This is logical because this is where our emotional experiences also occur- in the body. We experience and sense the world around us very strongly therefore our real-time input channels are powerful.
This means a couple of things for you, Creative. It means that you need to feed these channels in order to stay well. It means you need to be refueling your sensory channels often because your fuel tanks for these are necessarily bigger because your input levels are stronger, so your responsibility to keep those tanks full requires more regular work and attention (read: regular mindfulness practices and regular creative practices!!) It also means that when you are sensorily deprived, you will not feel well and you will notice. You will feel depressed, disconnected, low energy, like you aren’t experiencing life, poor self esteem, blocked from your creativity, and generally not like yourself (read: regular mindfulness practices and regular creative practices!!) The final thing it might mean is irritability. Let me explain:
Do you ever notice it is really difficult for you to get pulled away from a task, project, experience or moment? This can be pathologized as something else, and maybe in your life it was. Imagine a person without what we are calling a creative personality, someone with normal levels of creativity (after all, all people are creative) looking at a beach scene. Imagine them connected to their experience by 2 hooks. The hooks represent how much attention is invested by absorbing the scene. Someone calls out to them for their attention, and it is fairly easy for them to disconnect from their experience. The same situation repeats for a creative person, except imagine this person is connected to their experience by 12 hooks. This is much more difficult for them to disconnect from. It requires more effort and strain and can generate irritability which might even be misdirected at the person calling to them.
Let’s imagine this same situation again, except now instead of hooks the creative person is holding a bucket, which is already full of water. The person without a creative personality is in the same situation with a bucket half full of water. The bucket of water represents how saturated the person is sensorily in their experience of the scene. Now imagine a lifeguard drives by on a loud ATV right in front of the scene. This adds 4 cups of water to each bucket. Non-creative personality’s bucket can withstand the volume. Creative person’s bucket overflows, again creating irritability. When you are more sensorily connected to your experiences as a creative person, added sensory information can more easily overwhelm and irritate you than a less creative person.
So I said we would bring this back to mindfulness. After all, isn’t that what we are saying by default, that a creative person should also have an increased capacity for mindfulness tools? To be present? Ultimately, mindfulness is the perfect natural tool to harness this gift of increased sensory sensitivity to our experiences, whether they are outside of us in the world, or inside of us in our feelings and reactions to the world. Mindfulness helps us with the element of choice when processing and receiving this information.
Intrigued in learning more and jumpstarting your own creativity and mindfulness program? I am here to help you learn how.
(c) 2019 Creatively, LLC
Distress Tolerance and Emotional Avoidance
This week’s post is again inspired by clinical themes I have been seeing this month.
At this point I have published enough yummy articles on my blog that they gorgeously cross reference and complement each other- in this way this topic is related to many others- so when it speaks to you and emotionally connects with you, I encourage you to pull the thread and browse some of the other topics and past blog articles.
Today we are going to talk about the psychological concept of distress tolerance. In simple terms, this is our ability to stand still in a certain intensity of stress. I don’t mean change it, avoid it, or do anything with it- simply tolerate it. This underused but powerful skill allows our emotions to communicate their vital messages and naturally dissipate- freeing us to stand empowered in our lives to make better choices for our own happiness. It takes the power from variability and the unexpected and allows us large scale emotional peace and freedom.
(I will give you the caveat that if you are in crisis, severe stress or worse, then tolerance is not your course of action. If you are unsure how this topic applies to your levels of stress, give me a call and let’s talk).
In several past articles, I have referenced the biological function of emotions to communicate chemical signals and messages between the brain and body. In an ideal biological and natural sense, whenever we have an emotion we would fully express it and allow our brain and body to absorb its lesson (interested in the topic of the biological functioning of various emotions? Browse those past blog posts!) What happens instead is we feel emotions with an intensity we don’t like and avoid or bottle up, we absorb sociological lessons about which emotions we are allowed to express or not (different for males and females traditionally), we lose touch with what are emotions are, what they are telling us or how to feel or express them. This diversion has the unintended consequence of weakening our distress tolerance.
What I am saying to you is our sociological adaptation to avoid emotions has weakened our ability to handle stress. This is unfortunately not to our advantage. Think about exercise as a parallel here. What we are doing is avoiding exercise because we don’t like it, which has the unintended consequence of making it harder for us to take the stairs when the elevator is out. Just like we build our muscles by slowly increasing our physical activity, we can regain our ability to tolerate stress by acknowledging and feeling emotions when they happen in smaller ways, and doing nothing else with them.
Ultimately what our emotions “want” from us is to be felt without resistance. This allows them to fulfill their function. Emotions, as the communication signals they are, naturally crest and fall. If we don’t feed them, fight them etc, they communicate their signal in whatever intensity, then fall away. If we simply acknowledge and feel them they naturally dissipate.
To begin repairing and strengthening your distress tolerance try a version of this exercise: pick precipitating events of small emotional weights and allow the accompanying feelings to crest and fall while you simply experience them and survive.
As your distress tolerance builds in strength you begin to experience stronger and stronger stressors without becoming overwhelmed or destabilized. You are free to make choices about action or inaction and how you can better shape the variables in your life. The end consequence we are going for here is (as always) empowerment to create a life that is happy and fulfilling.
How strong is your distress tolerance? What are your personal patterns of emotional avoidance? Want to regain control and build towards more peace and happiness in your life? I can help!
(C) 2021 Creatively, LLC
Hello, Creatives! Finally, some warm weather with the promise of Spring in Maryland. I hope you are getting outside and feeling inspired (remember the “Getting Inspired with Mindfulness” post? Worth a re-read). This month, I want to help you capitalize on the powerful impact nature and weather has on us and our creative process and how to use that important “change energy.”
Remember, Creative, you are sensitive, and you are sensory. You have strong emotional reactions to many things, and are very impacted by information coming in to your sensory system (sights, sounds, textures, smells, tastes). This is especially powerful because during a time of change our senses are more heightened to absorption (think jumping in a cold pool on a hot day- those first few seconds are potent!) All totaled, you have a powerful stream of energy to tap into during this “change energy.” And- the best, most mindful way to capitalize on this energy, is to get into it!
I want you to physically put yourself into this energy stream and take what nature is offering you- like the plants stretching and unrolling their leaves into the warm sunlight after a long winter- absorb the energy and refill your stores. Biologically it is needed, emotionally it is healthy and creatively it is regenerative. This is so powerful!
Here are some ideas that might help you in your efforts:
And finally, of course, Creativity Therapy can help! You are worth it. The life you will live when you do the work is worth it. Natural periods of potent energy like this are an ideal time to start working changes in your life, and I’m here to help!
(C) 2021 Creatively, LLC
Hello Wonderful Creative Clients!
Creatively enjoyed a "soft" reopening over the Summer, but we will be returning to a virtual-services-only schedule effective today, August 22, 2020, until January, 2021, for the health and safety of our community due to the ongoing and unpredictable nature of COVID-19 at this time. This is subject to change and any further changes will be shared on social media, my website and via the Creatively newsletter. You can sign up for the Creatively newsletter on the homepage. Details about how to use telehealth, and the fine print details about this service, are available on the client portal for existing clients, and/or by clicking the button below. I know these are tough times, and if you are not connected to therapy, and are thinking about it, I am here to help- please reach out through the contact page. There are also lots of great *free* resources through this blog- take advantage!! They are here for you!
Yours in wellness and creativity,
Hello Wonderful Creatively Clients!
This week it has been 3 months since we have closed our doors at Creatively, due to an unprecedented, global health crisis. It has been a scary, uncertain time full of survival, challenge and unknown. We all have individual stories in a complex web of universal experience of this terrible pandemic, all doing the best we know how.
I am excited, worried, protective of mine, yours and all of us, but mostly hopeful, to announce, that in this third-month-a-versary, as throughout Howard County, Maryland and beyond, things begin to reopen, I will slowly and carefully do the same. Just like my closing involved several announcements and steps, I will surely do so in reopening, and this announcement will be number one of more to come. For now- this post outlines my plan:
Out of an abundance of caution, and the ability to provide services over the internet, I will be maintaining the vast majority of appointments as telehealth services for now. That means, for those of you that are comfortable and able to continue receiving your services from me over the telehealth, I ask you to continue to do so. For those of you whose occupations and/or whose loved ones’ occupations put you in a category of higher risk of exposure to COVID-19, I also ask you to continue with telehealth appointments at this time.
I will be opening a limited number of in-person appointments starting June 20. They will be prioritized based upon need. Factors considered will be things like insurance that temporarily approved coverage of telehealth services terming that coverage as businesses reopen, or clinical necessity as deemed by both of us. If these things are impacting you, you are the reason I am opening in person sessions. Please do not hesitate to ask me for my next in-person appointment.
If you are seeking to resume in-person sessions, there are some things we need to talk about. All in-person sessions during a pandemic assume a certain level of risk. As such, I will be asking you to review and sign an informed consent about this risk. All in person appointment attendees will be asked to wear a mask, wash/disinfect their hands before entering the appointment, answer a brief health questionnaire, maintain social distance at all times, and wait for their scheduled appointment in their cars rather than the waiting room. You can review all this information, as well as other requirements and the health questionnaire by clicking the button below.
If you are ready for your in person visit, I will be so happy to see you. If you are ready to continue your virtual visits, I will be so happy to see you. I am optimistic about a healthy future and proud of you for surviving this uncertain time together.
Yours in health and creativity,
It was probably a year or more ago I authored a post on coping skills, titled, “Stop Coping,” (that post can be found here) urging you to look for areas you were settling in or becoming avoidant with overused coping skills. I suggested you discard what wasn’t functional anymore in your life, in order to push yourself forward. Today, in a very different world than the stage set for that advice, we are going to reexamine coping skills, look at their function, and help you help yourself to know when they are needed (and give yourself the permission to use them!)
Coping skills are to create emotional, psychological and even physical boundaries around something in order to survive it. In other words, a coping does not fix anything, it just allows us to survive that thing. By definition, coping skills are best applied to things that we cannot fix, or at least, not right now, or definitely not all at once. They are a tool to allow us to continue on until we can mindfully accept what we cannot change, and change what we can.
The key principle, erring on the side of giving you cliche advice, is knowing the difference between these two. What can you change? If you can change it, don’t forever cope with it (see article from 1 year or so ago). If you can’t change it, do what you can to cope with it- ultimately with the goal of not emotionally resisting your experience to it (because in the resistance lies the suffering).
In a globally gridlocked situation, such as a pandemic, we are falling into category 2 in many ways. Give yourself permission please, to cope. Release yourself from high expectations, perfectionism, overly goal oriented behavior, knowing you can return to that and that your ability and skills to achieve will be there waiting for you when you need them. Allow yourself to maintain what is important (read: self care, structure, routine, support system) and do what is otherwise healthy to cope.
Unsure what coping skills mean for you? I recommend to all my clients to have a written list of these prepared for themselves at all times. They can be wide and varied from distraction techniques, to self soothing, to personal development, to (of course) creative practices and more- this is something that time in counseling can be used to build- personalized for your use.
(C) 2020 Creatively, LLC
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.