Healing From Trauma and Substance Use: A Tandem Ride

Picture in your mind a five year old girl falling off her bike, crashing to the ground, and catching herself on the pavement with what are now bleeding hands and skinned knees. If her mother comes quickly to her side, provides reassurance with a caring and concerned tone, and cleans and bandages her injury, she is more easily able to calm down, trust that she is okay, and know that when she needs help her mother will be there.

However, if her mother was nowhere to be seen when this happened and then blamed and criticized her for being clumsy, now the greater feeling of pain comes not from her scrapes and bruises, but from feeling alone and uncared for. This is also often the case with trauma; the pain of the initial injury is compounded by feeling alone, and not understood. Connie Lawrence, certified psychodrama practitioner, trainer, and founder of the Cleveland Psychodrama Institute has stated, “When we suffer a trauma, we really have two wounds. The first is the trauma itself-the second is the feeling that no one understands. For many of us the second is much more painful.” Continue Reading

Grilling Season Safety

As Ohioans, we all know that once the temperature climbs above the low 50’s we’re dusting off our grills in eager (almost desperate) anticipation of summer. What’s better than a cloudless summer day, lounging around with family and friends, while the smell of mesquite wafts in the breeze? Unfortunately, this favored activity also comes with risks.

The U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System showed that “in 2009-2013, grills, hibachis or barbecues were involved in an average of 8,900 home fires per year.” In 2014 alone, 8,700 people made emergency room visits for thermal burns due to grills. On average, gas grills are more dangerous than charcoal or pellet models; however, all grills can be operated relatively safely if you follow proper precautions.

Here are a few tips to keep your family safe this season, so the only thing on fire will be your sweet skills as a grill master!

Continue Reading

Awareness Makes A World of Difference

What would we do without differences? Where would we be without the unique spectrum of minds all looking at this world in neurologically distinct ways? Would we know about the theory of relativity if Einstein had not obsessively repeated sentences until he was 7 years old? Would we have Symphony No.40 in G minor or Don Giovanni, if Mozart wasn’t compelled to constantly move his hands and feet? Difference is what makes life interesting and creative; something we should keep in mind during National Autism Awareness Month.

Autism isn’t just one thing: it’s a range of individually specific ways of connecting with others and processing information. For some, a diagnosis of Autism can simply mean having a few more social challenges. For others, it can mean being completely non-verbal and showing intense discomfort in social settings.

It’s likely that you have interacted with a person with Autism without even knowing.  Have you ever been out in public and witnessed someone having a “meltdown”?  Have you ever seen a kid suddenly become overwhelmed by what seems like nothing at all?  Have you ever found yourself on a plane seated next to a screaming child?  Most likely you have had at least one of these experiences.  Now, not all of these scenarios means the individual has Autism, but we often jump to blame or criticism when we witness such behavior.  Think back to what you thought the last time you saw a child having a meltdown. Were you annoyed with the child or with the parent for not removing the child? Did you feel bad for the child or the parent? Did you turn and walk away because you felt uncomfortable?

As the CPST Coordinator at Catalyst, I’m keenly aware of the challenges these individuals and their families’ face. I asked a couple of parents, whose children were diagnosed with Autism, what they wish people knew about their lives, and what they wish people would do when interacting with their child.

Continue Reading

41st Annual All-Star Classic

Catalyst Life Services’ partnership with the Mansfield News Journal for the 41st year of the All-Star Classic Basketball game did not disappoint!

The South narrowly beat the North 143-140 in overtime; the third time the game has ever ran into overtime in its long history.

In retrospect, perhaps, it was South Coach, Taylor Iceman’s, fortuitous win of the draft coin toss that gave him the  leading edge. He snagged Mansfield Senoir’s Quan Hillory and Ashland’s Garrett Denbow both of whom put up a jaw-dropping number of points– Hillory 43 and Denbow with 36. Hillory walked away as the evening’s MVP and between them they broke the record of most points by two players on the same team.

It was a fast paced, back-and-forth night; with only 13:32 left in the game, the South trailed the North 81-59. The deciding moment came when Klejhan Randleman made a 3-pointer to eek out a 141-140 South lead. After Hillory sank a few more free throws, the deal was sealed and Iceman’s team walked away with the win.

Win or lose, there was no denying that both teams were stacked with talent. These were the best of the best from all around North Central Ohio and it showed! It was a wonderful display of sportsmanship and philanthropy on the part of the players.

Each year, a few kids who receive services from Catalyst are selected as the recipients of gifts from the represented schools. Each one beamed as  the players personally presented them with a gift; their goodie bags swelling with generosity.

This much-loved event always drives the point home that when we support a good cause: everybody wins!

 

 

Greater than the sum of its parts: The evolution of a telethon and community organization

What does it take to pull off an all day Telethon full of live entertainment, rows of vendors, prizes,boisterous hosts and public guests? How do you encourage scores of people to donate their energy, talent, food and sponsorship to the tune of two million dollars over the course of 28 years? First, you have a remarkable community full of passionate individuals willing to put others’ needs ahead of their own. Then, you build a non-profit agency capable of affecting thousands of people’s lives through an array of mental health and well-being programs too broad to even list.

In short, you’re an organization like Catalyst.

In the beginning, the Telethon was known as “The Rehab Telethon.” First started by WMFD in 1992, its proceeds funded the operation of The Rehab Center which specialized in the rehabilitation of people with physical disabilities. Catalyst itself, is the 2010 merger of two previously well-known entities that served the community for over 65 years: The Center for Individual and Family Services and the aforementioned Rehab Center. It’s comprised of four major departments: Audiology and Deaf Services, Vocational Services, Mental Health and Crisis Services, and Addiction Services.

The Rehab Center is now the hub for Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Crisis Services, Audiology and the Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the Vocational wing—which includes Progress Industries and Precise Services. Just up the street, is “The Center,” an expansive building housing Adult Mental Health and Crisis Services, The District V Forensic Diagnostic Center, residential programming, a stabilization unit, and outpatient drug and alcohol resources. It’s a complex of buildings wrapping their way along Sterkel Ave. that also includes New Beginnings Residential Treatment Center and will soon include the only Drug Withdrawal Management facility in all of Richland County.

But, what, exactly, is Catalyst?

Continue Reading

Deaf and addicted: How one woman reclaimed her life with Catalyst Life Services

She’s seated across from me in the ambient light of the Director of Deaf Service’s office. Her interpreter is by my side so she can have a clear view of her hands, and so I don’t mistakenly direct my attention and questions to the interpreter instead of the woman herself.

She’s been a client of Catalyst Life Services for over two decades. In May, she will be sober for one year. I ask her what first brought her to Catalyst and she begins rapidly moving her hands to tell her story.

“I think I was 25.  I was addicted to drugs and had attempted suicide.” There’s a pause before she continues, “It was from my childhood. I had a really bad experience. I was sexually molested and that was why I was depressed. So, when I added drugs and alcohol…” She makes a gesture like a bomb going off.

25 was a difficult age for this woman, who wished to remain anonymous. She unexpectedly ended up pregnant, left her family, and married the father of her child–a marriage that eventually ended, leaving her to raise her children on her own. It was only when she came to the Richland County Health Department for assistance during her pregnancy that she learned she could use the services of an interpreter. The interpreters she found came from the nearby Rehab Center–now part of Catalyst Life Services; it was through contact with them that she was able to find the help she needed when her life took a turn for the worse. Through Catalyst, she’s taken part in addiction therapy groups, private counseling sessions, visited the Audiologist, and utilized the many services offered at the Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. When I asked her how Catalyst helps her she indicates a never-ending list. There’s the mental wellness part, of course, but then there is the more day to day assistance. Director of Deaf Services Tanya Haga explains that for many deaf clients, English is not their first language, so paperwork that they get from the doctor’s office or letters they receive from schools concerning their children are difficult to read. The uninitiated, myself included, may be forgiven for not understanding that American Sign Language isn’t based off of American English. “The grammar is completely different,” says Haga. Continue Reading

The Rise of Social Engineering

Social Engineering, in the context of Information Security, is the use of deception to manipulate individual for fraudulent purposes. With the rise of social media over the past several years, scammers and hackers are using psychological manipulation to receive personal or valuable information from vulnerable victims. Projections show that at least 2 billion people will use some form of social media in 2019 alone. Social engineering attacks can come in many forms and anyone could be a target, whether it be myself, an IT genius;), or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Here are a few examples of Social Engineering and how you can stay alert and ward off attacks now and in the future.

Continue Reading

Let’s Make This Holiday Season Inclusive

The holiday season is a wonderful time of family gatherings, parties, and programs. However, this time can be frustrating and even lonely for individuals with a hearing loss. Here are a few tips to help make the loveliest time of year inclusive for all.

 

  • Get someone’s attention before trying to talk to them
  • Make sure to be clear about the topic of the conversation before talking about the topic
  • Maintain eye contact throughout the conversation
  • Make sure to face the individual the entire conversation, don’t turn your face away when talking
  • Be sure to not cover your mouth with your hands, coffee mug, etc.
  • Avoid over exaggerating your mouth when you speak – this will make it more challenging to understand what you are saying
  • Speak naturally – there is no need to yell because that just changes your mouth movements and therefore makes it harder to understand
  • If the individual doesn’t understand what you said: don’t become frustrated or angry, don’t just brush it off by saying something like “never mind”, and don’t isolate the individual from future conversations. Instead, rephrase what you said to allow for another chance for understanding.
  • Be sure to converse away from background noise
  • Be sure to converse in an area with good lighting so your face can be seen

 

Tanya Haga is the Director of Deaf Services and has worked at Catalyst Life Services since 2014 in this role. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts in American Sign Language Interpreting, a Master’s of Education and Master’s in Business Administration. She is also nationally certified by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. Tanya’s responsibilities include management and oversight of interpreting, captioning, case management for clients with a hearing loss, sign language classes, summer youth program, and contract and grant projects.

“Have yourself a Merry little Christmas, let your heart be light….”

A beloved holiday classic, this song can conjure up all kinds of positive memories of Christmases past.  Indeed, the holiday season is often full of warm memories, family gatherings, work parties, and general positive cheer.

However, the holidays are not festive and cheery for all.  For some, they represent painful memories or reminders of loved ones no longer here.  For still others, the holidays represent added stress of more to do, more money to spend when there is no “extra” money, and more activities added to an already stressful schedule.

So how can one maintain good mental health during this “most wonderful time of the year”?  Here are some tips for managing stress and dealing with depressive/anxiety symptoms during this time:

  1. Remember the word “No.” Only you know when it is too much for you.  Taking care of yourself means setting limits and sticking to them.  When you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to step back and take a break.
  2. Be patient and gentle with yourself. Memories can be painful, and simple things can trigger memories when you least expect it.  A song, a smell, a phrase, or a sound can all be significant reminders.  When this happens, be gentle with yourself, embrace the significance of the moment, and allow yourself to feel whatever emotions it brings.
  3. Maintain a routine. One of the things the holidays can bring is chaos and craziness.  Maintaining as much of the normal routine as possible can help minimize the impact of the disruptions.  Routine stabilizes mind, body, and spirit as it grounds a person in what is known in the midst of the unknown.
  4. Limit alcohol use. When stressed, it is tempting to use alcohol as a coping mechanism.  However, alcohol use can lead to alcohol abuse and subsequent poor decision-making.  In addition, alcohol is a depressant and often leads to increased feelings of depression and sadness after significant use.  Limiting use to one or two drinks helps a person to maintain control and avoid complications normally associated with heavy use.
  5. Seek comfort from those who support you. There are those within our daily lives who provide emotional support and assistance.  Reach out to those you know you can count on, and let them know when you feel overwhelmed.  Asking for help allows others to know specifically what they can do to support you.
  6. Develop a budget. Knowing how much you have to spend for gifts for family, friends, and coworkers allows you to manage expenses.  This can also keep you from getting overwhelmed with surprise bills come January. If money is tight, get creative; make your own gifts or agree to spend time together instead of buying gifts. You make your own rules.
  7. Find time for rest and relaxation. Even in the midst of hustle and bustle, it is important to take time to catch your breath.  When feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take a break by doing things you enjoy, such as watching a movie, exercising, hanging out with friends, or reading.  Taking some downtime helps you recharge and rejuvenate yourself before the next set of activities.

If you find yourself having serious difficulties during or continuing to struggle beyond the holidays, there is help available.  Catalyst Life Services has a wide array of services available to address mental health, drug & alcohol, vocational, and many other issues.

Call Helpline at 419-522-HELP (419-522-4357) for information.  Contact us; we can help!

Erin Schaefer, IMFT-S, LPCC-S is the Director of Operations at Catalyst Life Services.  She received a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pacific Lutheran University in 1997 and a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling in 2002 from the University of Akron.  Erin has worked in community mental health for over 20 years.  She was also director of Ashland Parenting Plus, a small nonprofit agency focused on teen pregnancy prevention, juvenile diversion, and parent education.  She served on the board and as president of the Ohio Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and also on the board of directors of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy from 2011-2013.  She has been a member of AAMFT since 1997 and is a Clinical Fellow