Lisa Little, M.Sc., Chartered Psychologist

Lisa Little is a Chartered Psychologist and former graduate of the University of Calgary. She is currently working in private practice and seeing individuals, couples and families. She has been practicing for 20 years as a Psychologist in Calgary.

She is currently training with Doug and Naomi Moseley, internationally known therapists and authors and founders of an Emotional Body Focused modality of therapy. She is a former board member of OBAD.

"I have a sister back east who is currently experiencing a severe manic episode..."

Q: 
Hello I have a sister back east who is currently experiencing a severe manic episode. This has been going on since the summer. As far as we know she has not taken meds since then. She was recently hospitalized against her will but was released after one week. She is still manic. My parents are elderly and have been emotionally abused by my sister by spreading lies about them via email. I am unaware of how to deal with the situation. Can you offer any help or advice to me. Thank you
A: 
Hello, It is always an emotionally difficult situation when one of our family members with a mental health issue becomes non-compliant with their medication. If you perceive her to be of imminent danger to others or to herself, then you are likely aware that you can obtain a mental health warrant through the courts and have her involuntarily committed. As you have recently experienced, however, is just how difficult it can be to keep her in hospital. It is also difficult to feel into just how powerless you feel in a circumstance like this. This does not mean that you give up on your sister, on the contrary. You need to continue to make yourself available to her so that when she is ready to receive your help, you are there to provide it to her. You need to continue to express your concern to her and to let her know that she is better off when she is taking her medication. We know that all manic episodes eventually run their course and you can be there to provide your help and to mobilize professional help when she is more receptive to it. Are you receiving counselling assistance for yourself to help you to deal with the stress and worry of her manic episode? Often caretakers mistakenly believe that the family member with the mental health issue is the only one that would benefit from professional support. We, as family members’ caretaking others can develop what is now known as Compassion Fatigue. This occurs, when you, the caretaker start to develop symptoms of depression, isolation, apathy and anger as a reaction to providing care to others while forgetting to take care of yourself. So I highly recommend that you get some help for yourself through a Bi-Polar support group for family members and/or seek out a counselor who has an expertise in this area. There are also many reading resources for families of a loved one who is Bi-Polar. Regarding your sisters’ distressing e-mails to your parents, can you talk to them and re-assure them that her e-mails are a manifestation of her illness. The best of luck to you and I am happy that you are reaching out to help your sister.

"I'm 21 years old, and having been dealing with mental health issues since I can remember..."

Q: 
Hello, My name is Erik. I'm 21 years old, and having been dealing with mental health issues since I can remember. In Elementary school I was diagnosed with ADHD. I took adderall one time, and my mother told me that I said "It made me feel like I was in slow motion". As I got older I started to get more nervous. I was self conscience, paranoid, and my brain moved really fast. My thought pattern and mood were never stable. I would rehearse things in my head, songs would never end, and thoughts would repeat themselves over and over again until I was distracted by something else. I couldnt concentrate on anything. I dropped out of highschool, I was very lazy, and could never follow through with anything. Today it is even worse. I have a ton of energy that I dont do anything with. I spend most of my day just thinking. It has drove me crazy. I asked my doctor for adderall to see if ADHD was the problem. So far I'm not sure if it is helping or making things worse. I just want to stop being paranoid, stop looking around, stop being severly self conscience, and just live my life in peace. Can you help me?
A: 
Dear Erik, It seems to me that you would benefit from seeing a psychiatrist and getting an updated diagnosis so that you could get the treatment that would benefit your most. I would also recommend that you work with a counselor or therapist who offers a cognitive-behavioral approach to begin to manage your thought patterns. Cognitive-behaviorists’ believe that the patterns of our thoughts are directly related to our mood, and, that if you alter your thought patterns then your mood changes accordingly. You could learn to manage your tremendous energy by directing some of that energy into physical exercise so that your body begins to tire and perhaps your thoughts might subside some when you are engaged in a physically strenuous activity. I have also found that meditation is a valuable practice that helps to quieten the mind and helps you to get more into your body rather that hold all of your energy in your head. There are a variety of meditation practices that are offered through meditation/yoga centers or you can buy an audio CD to guide you through a meditation. I have also found that when you have too much time on your hands that ultimately you worry and ruminate and so I would encourage you to seek some kind of employment. Perhaps you could seek out a job that is more physically demanding rather than one that emphasizes your mental capacities since you are struggling with your ability to focus and concentrate. I would also encourage you to pick one area of your life to learn to follow through on so that you begin to develop some trust in your ability to complete something. This could be anything. Perhaps, once you receive a renewed diagnosis and get on the appropriate medication, you could finish your high school diploma. I have found that these pieces of unfinished business tend to gnaw away at us overtime. Or perhaps you need to start with something small like doing your laundry on a regular basis or following through with returning phone calls to someone. Do not underestimate the value of learning to complete even those mundane tasks that we are confronted with everyday. Following through and completing something builds trust and trust builds confidence in one’s own ability and this confidence allows you to take on more difficult tasks overtime. I wish you all the best Erick and hope that some of these suggestions are beneficial. All the best, Lisa Little

"My name is Salman; 21 year old I have been suffering from depression..."

Q: 
My name is Salman; 21 year old I have been suffering from depression from last four years. My treatment of medication is continuing from last two years. I want to ask how can I restart my education, which is discontinuing since last two years. I have great problem especially with my concentration and memory. I have only passed my first ten classes. Please suggest comprehensive solution.
A: 
Hi Salman, I used to work at a community college as a counselor and I met with many students who had been diagnosed with depression. There are several things that you can do, including taking fewer courses when you initially return to post-secondary. You are still considered a full time student when you take three courses. Most post-secondary programs have a Learning Skills Department that is staffed by learning specialists. They offer support through small group appointments or one on one appointments. They offer a variety of workshops including such topics as note-taking, strategies to enhance learning skills in class, techniques to improve memory and concentration and preparing and taking tests. They also train students to become peer tutors. These are students that have achieved at least a B+ in the course that they tutor in. Post-secondary counseling departments also offer individual and group counseling and workshops to students that are suffering from depression. So there is a lot of academic support available at all post-secondary institutions to people that are experiencing a range of mental health issues. Having depression does not need to keep you from pursuing your desire to complete your degree. You might want to browse the website of the particular institution that you are considering attending and/or talk to someone from each of these departments to check out their various services. All the best to you Salman, Lisa Little

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