8 Ways to Help a Person Who is Sad

It's not easy seeing a friend or family member suffer with moments of sadness. It can even be difficult seeing a stranger cry in public. Sometimes the discomfort comes from not knowing what to do. Do you hug them? Give them a taco? Do you tell them to forget about it? What do you do when someone is sad? 

Here are 8 Ways to Help a Person Who is Sad:

1. Reflect Their feelings

You may not know exactly how they feel, but lots of people feel safer to share sadness and speak when they feel understood. "I may not know exactly what you're going through, but it sounds like x, y, and z, is really tough for you right now." NOTE: "I know how you feel" can be perceived as insulting. Sometimes we will never know how deeply in pain someone is, and it's a very sensitive topic to assume. 

2. Say You're Here For Them

Some people need to be alone when they're sad. It's comforting to know someone is around, even if you need space at the moment. It's nice to know you're not alone, especially when you're sad. "I see you need space right now, but I am here for you if you need to talk."

3. Sit With Them

Sometimes sleeping in can help while processing feelings of sadness. a blanket fort might be the remedy for some of us when we're sad! 

Sometimes sleeping in can help while processing feelings of sadness. a blanket fort might be the remedy for some of us when we're sad! 

This may work with some people, it may not work with others. (Check in with people who need space first). Sometimes a person who is sad doesn't really know what to say when they're sad. They just FEEL SAD. Instead of interrogating or trying to fix things, a gesture of connection can be to sit with them in the space. This also takes trial and error. Some people need a personal bubble around them when experiencing intense emotions. 

4. Guide Them to a Safe Space

When we're sad, we're emotionally hijacked at times. This means, it may be difficult to process logically. When this happens, it's a wonderful gesture to help guide a person who is sad to a safe space. If you're in a public space, perhaps getting coffee or tea can help. Offering a blanket or coat might also help. This, of course, depends on the person who is sad's openness to receiving help. If this person is a loved one at home or in the car, it can be a loving gesture to make a blanket fort for them to be safe to cry or process. 

5. Remind Them They are Worthy of Love

Sometimes, people who are sad have experiences where people leave or run away because they can't "deal with" them when they are sad. This statement takes honesty and can increase connection. Lots of people who battle depression or sadness feel they are unworthy of love. A way to help is to remind them their worth is separate from this moment of sadness, that they are still loved, even when sad.

6. Remind Them This Shall Pass

this-too-shall-pass

Does this mean the event is insignificant, or that the moment will not reoccur? No. Lots of sadness can come from unprocessed griefs, or uncontrollable physical ailments. These events are impactful, and painful. People have a right to be sad, and fully experience the emotional experience. Reminders that this sadness will lift, can help encourage people to sit with sadness. Denying or resisting sadness can prolong the negative emotional experience. 

7. Seek to Understand

Lots of people who are considered "emotional" have been implicitly told that their emotions aren't logical or important. It may be difficult at first, but a simple question of, "Do you want to tell me about it?," can open doors to releasing so much unaddressed pain. Some people may feel ashamed or judged for being sad for the reasons they have. Asking questions is different from demanding reasons for being sad. Minimal questions (too many questions can feel like an interrogation) can help establish connection and safety to share more in the future.

8. Be Patient With Them

Learning how to share vulnerability takes time, and lots of practice. It's like learning how to acknowledge a hidden part of yourself to someone who really wants to understand. It can be wonderful, yet scary at the same time! Being patient with one's responses (instead of reacting) can help strengthen relationships and increase positive communication. 

Hopefully, some of these tips can work out with you and someone you know who experiences sadness. Establishing a routine, or learning what your "patterns" are with sadness or intense emotions can help identify which will work, and which won't. It might be beneficial to speak with a therapist to see how they can help in the beginning if emotions are very very intense and difficult to work through. 

If you are looking for a therapist, your local psychology graduate program has counseling centers that offer low-cost or even free sessions based on income. In Orange County, you can call 211 for mental health resources, or visit Orange County Shrinks on Facebook to get a few referrals. 

 

Online Relationships are Real

I had a wonderful conversation with a young man about the realness of online relationships. He recently ended a LDR (long distance relationship) with a young lady he'd never met. We touched upon many things related to internet culture and relationships, one of which, was the validity of online dating. 

Is it a real relationship if we never "meet" or never touch each other? 
second life character screen shot, online relationships

second life character screen shot, online relationships

With half my life with the internet, and meeting many of my friends through AIM, World of Warcraft, and Facebook groups, I would say that yes, online relationships are very real. Mike Langlois, the Gamer Therapist, wrote about how dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is released while playing games. If you meet someone online and develop romantic feelings for them while playing online together, those same chemicals are released. 

It makes sense, though. Have you ever seen a gamer rage quit or have nerd rage? If you can get angry at someone while playing games with them, or interacting online, why would it be difficult to believe you can fall in love with someone using the same medium?

Studies have shown that oxytocin, the love drug, is usually released during physical contact. This is why connection is so important. Hugs and gentle touches can release oxytocin and make us feel contentment, and bonded with others. Online interactions in social media and playing games with strong narratives have also been found to release oxytocin as well!

Lots of people meet through online dating sites to weed out mismatches, and initially chat with someone before meeting in person. This can help make dating more efficient, as well as allow those with social anxiety a slower pace to warm up to others. 

With dating sites, and massive online games for people to meet, play together, and potentially fall in love, what makes strictly online dating so different? 

  • It can feel stigmatizing not to find a physically present partner. Family and friends can make fun of you, or simply not understand how intense and real these emotions are. There can also be pressure to be with someone else.
  • It can be confusing what defines intimacy. Each relationship is unique with differing levels and need for physical contact. When you find someone who gets you, and makes you feel safe to be vulnerable, sometimes the lack in physical contact is worth the risk. 
  • Online sex, sexting, or phone sex. More people are participating in online sexual acts. Sometimes it can be a barrier or uncomfortable for people to accept that is can be a main intimacy people share in a romantic relationship. Some choose not to have any type of sex, and still have a strong connection together online.
  • Being vulnerable through words. This culture is very visual. It can be difficult to see something that isn't obvious. When many people think of romantic relationships, they think of holding hands, hugging, kissing, and a physical person. Text can be the most honest way of connection for many people. Some of us stumble when we speak, some of us freeze, and compose amazing responses when the moment is over. Having time to pause and think allows more of us to express ourselves more genuinely. 
  • Having a screen in between you and another person can reduce inhibitions to be more authentic. This can go the other way, of course (trolls), and in terms of romantic relationships online, having a screen as a conduit can help couples communicate more honestly about conflict and concerns. 
  • Catfishing. It's very common for people to lure lonely people into relationships. There is a genuine concern for those who date someone with an avatar, like in online games. You may or may not be dating who you think you are. Part of this interaction involves risk, and being vulnerable. (I will write more on this in a later post)

Despite all these differences, online connections can be rewarding and fulfilling. 

  • Emotional support can manifest in different ways. Having someone online offer a virtual hug, compliment, or words of wisdom can mean so much to someone. This is partly why there are so many online groups and forums.
  • Clarity in communication. Lots of us born with the internet are sponges for information. It's very normal to refer to google or an article we recently read while conversing with others. Having access to websites and being able to share them immediately, can help some of us explain our thoughts or feelings more clearly.
  • Mutual interests. If you met your significant other, or friend in an online group or online game, it is very likely that you both have endless conversations on the original topics that drew you together. With the MBTI and gaming groups I've belonged to, there is this history of a culture and inside jokes we can always refer to to strengthen our connection. 
  • Constant connection. Having your smart phone or being online can feel like this person is always with you. It can be very isolating not having a friend or loved one around, but some of us can feel warm and loved knowing they are a text away. 
  • Special bond. Sometimes the distance can make the relationship even stronger. Perhaps in your immediate community, there aren't potential matches. It can be romantic and idealist to find someone hundreds or thousands of miles away, and somehow the internet made it possible for you to be together. This can many times, encourage you to accept the distance while building on mutual dreams to meet in the future. 
  • Love is worth the (calculated) risk. Sometimes you can't help who you fall in love with. Sometimes it just happens, and sometimes it's magical. Other times, it's a painful series of events that you wish never occurred. It's these joys where we are able to acknowledge how necessary pain is to appreciate the nuances life can offer. Online relationships can give us the entire emotional spectrum. 

 

LOOK AT THIS: Artist Illustrates Her Long Distance Relationship Struggles & Joys | BoredPanda

 

 

On Being Quiet at Work or School

Thoughts Inspired by Introversion...

quiet-power-introverts

This weekend, I perused through Quiet Power by Susan Cain, and its content reminded me of a few things I've learned about being quiet, or being perceived as quiet by others: 

Being Quiet is Not a Weakness

The greater culture has many biases on extroversion and introversion. Many strengths (as well as traits associated with attention-seeking and vanity) are associated with extroversion, while being quiet or contemplative can be seen as unconfident, lazy, or arrogant. In terms of work performance, Introverts, or those who are more quiet, can be seen as:

  • Underperforming: I worked at an agency where most people don't know what you're doing unless you tell them. This can be partly cultural, and gender conditioning, among a myriad of socializing agents. Introverts tend to process details and outcomes internally, so there isn't always a big show for others to see when they're working. The world can't see all your work because it's done behind the scenes. A potential problem with being an introvert at work or school is: You can be the best at your job, and no one will know because they never saw you, or heard from you. This can also lead coworkers to rate you as less friendly, which can affect future promotions or reviews. 
  • How to remedy the stigma: "The squeaky wheel gets the oil." I did not understand the importance of sharing my accomplished tasks of the day with supervisors or colleagues until a former principal and former supervisor told me to. This inability to naturally speak on my work also comes from culture and gender roles, which I didn't know shaped some discomfort with speaking about myself. I thought a good deed and good work speaks for itself. Other people were getting accolades and promotions, when I was as good. The only difference was, I was not talking about it. Note: Sharing about your work is not bragging; it is sharing a joy in your accomplishments, and learning how to navigate an extrovert-biased world. Also, you don't have to go overboard and feel inauthentic about sharing about your day. Checking in with one sentence or two, "I completed x, y, and z today," can make a big difference in how others perceive you or your work ethic. 
  • Teachers, Parents, & Peers: Ask introverts for feedback in smaller groups, or check-in to see how they're doing. Asking them questions and giving a moment of time to form a response can help reduce anxiety or feeling rushed to answer quickly. 

Introversion is Not Depression or Being Shy

  • It's about energy. Although introverts can have depression, and can be shy, these terms are not interchangeable. Introversion is more about having a brain and nervous system that responds differently to stimulation. Introverts recharge and process more clearly in small group settings or in solitude, and extroverts tend to thrive in more stimulating environments (yes, extroverts need to recharge in solitude as well). Connection and dialogue matter to introverts, but the intensity and duration may or may not differ depending on the environment and topics being explored. 
  • Processing Times & Speaking. Sometimes small talk is difficult for an introvert to participate in. It can be very draining, especially when topics with extroverts may change quickly. By the time the introvert has compiled a suitable response to the first topic or question, the extroverts have explored twenty other things, and the introvert can't keep up. This inability to keep up can sometimes make introverts appear depressed or shy for not participating in conversations when they were trying to keep up in the first place, and couldn't. 
  • Check-in with your brain and body. Extroverts may not fully understand, but sharing how you are energized differently can start the process. Extrovert buddies still get energized by having people around; there does not need to be constant conversation to feel connected. Sitting in silence can be a compromise to explore, and if you need to be completely alone. At work, it may be important to learn a typical routine for getting overstimulated, so you can schedule appropriate breaks. 

Sharing Ideas as an Introvert

  • Many times the loudest person in the room gets praised for having good ideas. They can be seen as daring, confident, and competent, while their quieter peers may be seen as the opposite. In group settings, it can sometimes feel like a free-for-all to blurt things out until a decision is made. Internal processors don't perform as well in this type of stimulation. Thoughts tend to formulate better in calmer spaces, with time to generate a complete thought. Extroverts think "out loud" so the ramblings, and mistakes are available for the world to see. This tendency to think out loud and make mistakes can be interpreted as being fearless, when it's simply a natural way of cognition for extroverts. 
  • Pre-game for meetings or conversations. Jotting down ideas before meetings can help make sharing ideas easier. Meetings dominated by extroverts may make it difficult to pause and ask for an introvert's feedback. A sticky note, reviewing the night before, or checking in with team leaders can also promote the sharing of ideas in a way that is more comfortable for introverts.
  • Bosses, Coworkers, and Team Leaders: Please ask quieter teammates what their ideas are. It can really help promote group cohesion, and give quieter teammates a chance to offer feedback. It might take a minute to form statements, but asking quieter teammates if they want to contribute can model an acceptance of difference within the entire team. 

 

What are some of your thoughts or observations on introversion? Share this post with others to help promote a better understanding of introverts <3 

Additional Reading:

 

 

Felicia Day's Book Tour

Felicia Day's Book Tour, Los Angeles, 2016

Felicia Day's Book Tour, Los Angeles, 2016

I was invited by another geek therapist, The Mindful Misfit MFT, to attend this book tour. She messaged me on FaceBook and asked, 

"Do you know Felicia Day?"

In my head I was thinking, "Uh, yes?!" (I've followed her since her YouTube days with The Guild, and it empowered me to be more of my geek and gamer self at the time. It was so relateable, and sad and funny to see a script based on the lives of online gamers.)

So it turns out, Felicia Day wrote a memoir. And in this memoir is very personal things about growing up with home schooling, acting, and being a professional creative female. She also talks candidly about her depression and gaming addiction when things got overwhelming for her. 

Even though she lived with her brother and home schooled with him, it seemed like they never connected until they gamed together. I resonate with this statement because my brother also introduced me to World of Warcraft. We didn't have much to say to each other in person, but gaming and having goals to accomplish as a team really connected us. 

Bringing people together is one wonderful aspect of gaming. 

Wil Wheaton interviewing Felicia Day

Wil Wheaton interviewing Felicia Day

Some tidbits that I wanted to share from the talk she had with Wil Wheaton are the following:

Collaborate & Seek Others: 

Both Wil and Felicia talked about how isolating it can be as an artist with depression and/or anxiety. Sometimes it feels like a burden to share so much emotion with others. Wil disclosed how he felt so bad that Felicia was going through this pain and didn't have anyone to share it with. He was right there and didn't even know. And that's how depression can be for many of us. 

Self-worth and Pressure on Achievement: 

Perfectionism is a curse for many creatives, and it limits the enjoyment of creation. Both paired their self-worth and ability to be liked by others with approval and tangible outcome. Wil and Felicia are both working on this self love and acceptance, and shared that it is enough just being you. You are enough without the accolades and accomplishments. 

How to Balance Work/Life as an Artist:

The practical advice came as learning what your baseline is. This is in terms of one's depression and anxiety. Each of us has a baseline that we stray from in times of stress or high emotion. Taking time to acknowledge what we look like without any stress can help us work towards maintaining the ups and downs closer to this baseline. 

o Coping Skills: Figure out what works for you, and what doesn't work for you.

o Self-Monitor: Sometimes we're so busy, we don't take notice of how we're feeling and our body's internal state. Start noticing what's going on when we feel certain ways can help bring us back to that baseline.

"Find a place to perform for the love & joy of performing." -Wil Wheaton

Boonie Sripom &amp; Felicia Day! &lt;3

Boonie Sripom & Felicia Day! <3

A part that struck a chord with me is the overall society view of art. It's seen as something as a hobby, something that couldn't really be compensated well until one becomes a celebrity. Being in the middle of unknown and well-known has its financial and emotional consequences. Both Wil and Felicia touched on this topic of money, and said,

"Make art...creative outlet for the sake of creativity." -Wil Wheaton

"You do it because you want to get your voice out there."-Felicia Day

(on whether her YouTube series would be successful now, and advice to others thinking of making work on YouTube)

Felicia advocated for seeking a therapist as an artist or geek. Her writing of this memoir helped sort through many of her life's moments, gave herself permission to fail, and acknowledge that she has accomplished so much. She encourages more of us to write that memoir to see how healing telling our story can be.

Thank you so much, Felicia! 

Anxiety Gaming connects online gamers to therapists

Anxiety Gaming connects online gamers to therapists

Felicia gave me one resource, Anxiety Gaming, and it is a nonprofit that connects gamers with therapists. The nonprofit can help pay for services. I hope to work with them soon. 

If these tips from Wil & Felicia are difficult to implement or maintain, give me a call! I'm in the OC area and love to help fellow artists, geeks, and gamers level up. (949)381-1894

Take care,

Boonie

Purchase the Book here:

 You're Never Weird On the Internet (almost): a Memoir, Felicia Day, 2015

Additional Links:

The Guild YouTube webseries

Felicia Day's Official Website

Wil Wheaton's Official Website

Connect Online Gamers With Therapists | Anxiety Gaming

Geek Links | Organized Messes

Links on Creativity | Organized Messes

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) & PTSD

EMDR-PTSD-therapist-OrangeCounty

Editor Information: Jennifer Yi is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has been trained by the EMDR Institute and is currently in the process of certification for EMDR.  She is in full time private practice in Irvine, CA and focuses on individuals with anxiety disorders, depressive disorders and PTSD.

Sources of this content are from Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by Francine Shapiro, PhD, and EMDRIA.org. Content has been edited for organization and length.

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing- I know it’s a mouthful so don’t worry if you forget what it stands for or if you’re not even sure what it means.  It is a psychotherapy that was developed by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro and has been recommended as an effective treatment for trauma in the Practice Guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association, the Departments of Veterans Affairs and DefenseSAMHSA, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the World Health Organization.

Origination

It all began in 1987, when Dr. Shapiro made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts, under certain conditions.  Dr. Shapiro studied this effect scientifically and, in 1989, she reported success using EMDR to treat victims of trauma in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.  Since then, EMDR has developed and evolved through the contributions of therapists and researchers all over the world. Today, EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.

What Causes Psychopathology?

Dr. Shapiro’s theory is that disturbing memories are the cause of psychopathology.  When a traumatic or distressing experience occurs, it may overwhelm normal coping mechanisms.  The body may go into fight, flight, or freeze.  In the case of the last scenario, the right and left lobes of the brain may also “freeze” and stop communicating with each other.  Therefore the memory and associated stimuli are inadequately processed, stored dysfunctionally in an isolated form.  Inadequately processed disturbing memories may be the root of Depressive disorders, Anxiety disorders, Specific Phobias and PTSD.

What is PTSD?

Those who develop PTSD do so after being exposed to a traumatic event.  Due to the incorrectly stored memories, their symptoms tend to fit into 3 main categories: (1) Re-experiencing the traumatic event. This may occur through nightmares, flashbacks, reliving the event, or having a great deal of distress when in a situation like the trauma (2) Avoidance. This may occur through avoiding having particular thoughts or feelings. The person with PTSD may avoid activities or having conversations related to the trauma. He or she may feel withdrawn, disinterested, or numb to emotions. (3) Arousal. This may come in the form of feeling “on edge”, having difficulty concentrating, or sleep problems.

How EMDR Works

The goal of EMDR is to reduce the long-lasting effects of distressing memories by developing more adaptive coping mechanisms. The therapy uses an eight-phase approach that includes having the patient recall distressing images while receiving one of several types of bilateral sensory input, such as side to side eye movements.  The bilateral stimulation helps link the right and left lobes of the brain facilitating the digestion of improperly stored memories into a calmed form and integrated into the rest of the memory network.  This results in the reduction/elimination of unwanted symptoms and helps the client move forward and have improved functioning in the present and future.    

EMDR is not a form of hypnosis, the client is fully awake and aware during the session.

Several clinical trials have found EMDR to be superior to other types of treatments for posttraumatic stress. These studies have shown that EMDR worked better than other treatments such as such as biofeedback relaxation, active listening, and other forms of individual therapies. One study found an 100% elimination of PTSD in single trauma victims after participating in an average of 6 EMDR sessions. Another study found that two EMDR sessions brought posttraumatic stress scores within normal range. The one study to use a full course of EMDR treatment for combat veterans reported a 77% elimination of PTSD in 12 sessions.  

EMDR vs Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is frequently used as a PTSD treatment. In exposure therapy, the client relates his/her traumatic experience in detail for an hour in the treatment session. He or she then typically listens to an audiotape of the session as homework for an hour every day. Exposure therapy also requires homework in which the client engages in an avoided activity related to the trauma (e.g., going into Manhattan). Clients are recommended to spend an additional hour or so per day on such activities. The daily homework hours (e.g., 25-100 hours) are necessary, as PTSD improvements are related to homework completion.  Not only is the homework lengthy, many clients are unable to complete the homework due to the high level of distress it causes.  In comparison, EMDR does not require detailed descriptions of the trauma. EMDR also does not require fixed concentration on the event. It only requires in-session time for treatment. Homework in EMDR usually consists of the client writing down any problems he or she has between sessions and using a relaxation technique if needed. There have been four studies comparing EMDR and exposure therapy alone. All have reported approximately equal results on most measures. Rates of getting better ranged from 50-80% in both treatment groups, despite the differences in assigned homework. One study that made homework the same for both EMDR and Exposure treatments showed better success in EMDR participants (70%) than Exposure participants (17%).

EMDR was originally developed to treat adults with PTSD; however, it is also used to treat other conditions such as depression, phantom limb pain, chronic pain, and various anxiety disorders.  Children have been successfully treated as well.

If you or anyone else think EMDR may be right for you, you can search for an EMDR therapist here: http://www.emdria.org/search/custom.asp?id=2337

Jennifer Yi, MS, LMFT&nbsp;

Jennifer Yi, MS, LMFT