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JMcCasslinTherapist's Corner...
Hope for the Future
(This is a 2-part story and will continue in the 10/21/14 newsletter)

As I sit, preparing to write this, I admit: I'm a little nervous about it. It's always a risk to open up...and this isn't my usual funny story with a moral twist. A few things I've can learn from others' experiences and always remember that each experience is different for every person. Please keep that in mind while you read my story of hope.

October is the month dedicated to the loss of a pregnancy or infant. I didn't know anything about it until a Facebook page I follow began promoting it in 2013 and putting up stories from people who experienced it. I brought it to therapy, to the clients (men and women) I knew who'd experienced this type of loss. I shared in their tears, their memories, their lost dreams...and their hopes.

At the beginning of October 2013, my husband and I rejoiced in a "surprise" baby (the first two were planned). I went in for our first ultrasound. For some reason, I was very worried that this pregnancy was a tubal pregnancy and I asked the lab tech to make sure it wasn't. Something just didn't feel quite right (later, my doctor told me many women have a sense of fear or that something isn't right before they miscarry). I was tired, too. I wrote it off as working too much, stress and having two young children to chase around. However, I literally couldn't make it through the day without 4-5 "catnaps," going to bed at 7 pm...and I was STILL struggling to stay awake throughout the day.

On October 15th at 7 pm, I lit a candle for my baby sister who was never born (the 15th is National Remembrance Day). I spoke with my mother about it. She told me the name she'd given the baby and how difficult it was to talk to my father about the miscarriage (she didn't tell him the baby's name until almost 20 years later).

On October 29th, I got up and did my normal morning workout. Afterwards, I noticed spotting. I immediately informed my husband and called my doctor...and I had a baby name pop into my head that I couldn't get out (I didn't mention this to anyone because it was "crazy"). On the 30th, I had another ultrasound. My husband asked if it "relieved" any of my stress since they didn't give us bad news and I replied "They didn't let me hear the heartbeat." I expected the worse then, but still, I grasped at the hope that things would get better.

On October 31st, I was in pain. And my heart was breaking because I knew I was losing my baby. I may have been "only" 10 weeks along, and I may have had the gut instinct that something wasn't right from the beginning, but it didn't matter. It was my child - part of my hopes and dreams for the future - and I was losing that. I miscarried in the bathroom at my home. I called my doctor and my in-law's (who didn't even know I was pregnant). They came to care for my two kids and I went to the doctor's office. That's where I broke down. The nurse who was assisting the doctor apologized to me for being unprofessional and crying with me, but I reassured her that I was far from offended. For me, it was better knowing that others cared about me and my baby, that we weren't just another "statistic."

Then I returned home and cried. I tried (again) to contact my husband, but he was unavailable. I allowed myself to sit and feel the loss, to think the negative "If I'd only.." or "If I hadn't..." thoughts and then challenged those thoughts. It was similar to everything I'd been doing with clients for the past month. I reached out to friends and family, especially my mom.

After several hours, I went on with my day's schedule. It's one of my coping skills...staying busy. I even took the kids trick-or-treating that night. My husband, meanwhile, stayed home and struggled with the news. Later, he admitted he cried for the loss of our child, but it was the guilt of not being there for me while I was experiencing the physical parts of the loss that ate away at him. And he wanted to name the baby. He told me he thought "Jordan" would be a good name, since it could be girl or boy's name. I finally told him the name that came to me two days prior, when I first started having problems: Jordan Lee. Coincidence? Not likely. To be continued...

~ Jessica McCaslin, Therapist

JReisingerGuest Column...
Hope In Your Day       

Each morning you awake is a new opportunity to invite a new day into Life's Journey. As you grumble to the blasting "beeeeep - beeeeep - beeeeep - beeeeep" of the alarm clock until your fingers reach out and slap it down to silence and you flop your body over to a much needed stretch, you begin to realize that a new day has arrived. Your first thoughts are the beginning of your day's choices, even though most of you have no conscious awareness that you are making choices at this moment in your day. Or, that many of the choices you made yesterday are now affecting the start of your new day.

You have the power within you to create your day and make it what you desire. Sure, sure.... you might be thinking "that is NOT true!" Especially when you have a toddler who has crawled into bed with you and is now crying because the alarm also woke them up or, a child who is school age and yelling at you for help with dressing or breakfast or, a spouse that is demanding your attention in the kitchen or, a workplace of your own that has a long list of tasks for you to attend to once you arrive. In these cases, it feels like you have no control over your day and worse yet, the day feels overwhelming and stressful before it even gets started.

However, you DO have control over your own day!! It takes slowing down, taking a deep breath and beginning the process of identifying what is working well in your life and doing more of that. When you make the choice to focus on what's going well in your life, you are much more capable of making time and ultimately making choices that allow those things that are working well into more of your daily life. Sounds easier said than done, right? Wrong. It can be easy if you allow yourself to follow these steps starting today:

     1. Grab a small notebook and jot down (yes, write it down) over the next two to three days the events (big or small) that take place during your day that you enjoy or that feel "stress-free". Make sure to identify two to four categories of your day (such as work, kids, spouse, my time).

     2.  Next to each "enjoyable" event, write down what decisions you made that allowed you have that "enjoyable" moment?

     3.  Next to that, write down how you felt about making those decisions (these will be happy feelings, such as proud, glad, relieved, calm, energetic, etc.)

     4.  Going forward, repeat and follow through on your decision making style for those decisions that led to "enjoyable" moments in your life.

It's most important to identify positive outcomes to your decisions and then repeat in as many instances as possible so that you build natural, positive Pro-actions and Re-actions to daily living situations. 

When you make a conscious effort to focus on what is working well in your daily life, you are also sub-consciously building more time in your day with thinking about how to achieve positive outcomes to your decisions. You are carving out time in your day to take more control of your day and ultimately create your best life.

~ Joni Reisinger, Guest Columnist

HainATips from Our EAP...
Boosting Employee Morale...With No Budget

High morale reduces turnover, improves performance, creates loyalty, and generally makes for a more pleasant work environment. Nothing makes a manager’s job easier than supervising a group of people who enjoy coming to work. What many managers don’t realize is that the best ways to boost morale are free.

Multiple surveys show that wages and benefits rank relatively low on the list of things that influence employee morale. So what does influence it? You. An employee’s relationship with his supervisor is a prime determinant of job satisfaction. Here are some cost-free ways to start building morale today:
1. Encourage open communication and allow for respectful disagreement. Make your expectations clear. Share information, future plans, and company direction.
2. Solicit advice and input on changes, procedures, or plans that affect your employees. Pull opinions from timid employees by asking direct questions like, “Brad, what are your concerns?” and “Cheryl, do you have anything to add?” Admit that you sometimes make mistakes and don’t always have the right answers.
3. Give frequent feedback. Report the wins as well as the losses. Tell your employees what they’re doing right as often as you tell them what they’re doing wrong. Use an outstanding performance as an example of how to do things the right way.
4. Praise your employees publicly for their successes. Praise them to others when they’re not around to hear it. There’s no greater compliment than hearing from a third party that someone has been saying good things about you.
5. Concentrate on helping employees learn and grow from their mistakes rather than on assigning blame. Create a culture of continuing education. Admit that you also have room to grow.
6. Manage disruptive employees. One person can poison an entire culture if left unchecked. Start by addressing the disruptive employee’s concerns. If you can’t come to a mutually satisfactory solution, termination may be necessary.

Check out our next newsletter for six additional morale boosters!

~ Anna Hain, EAP Coordinator

The month of October has many awareness issues pertaining to mental health.
October 5-11: Mental Health Awareness Week (wear green for awareness)
October 6: Day of Unity (wear purple for domestic violence awareness)
October 7: National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding 
October 10: National Bipolar Awareness Day, National Depression Screening Day & Worldwide Mental Health Day
October 9-15: OCD Awareness Week
October 15: Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day (light a candle at 7 pm in memory)
Month: ADHD Awarenes, Domestic Violence Awareness, Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance 


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