Our Love Affair with Alcohol and Other Drugs

Have you ever paused to consider just how deeply your lifestyle and those around you have been affected by alcohol and other drugs?  In this infographic provided by the Australian Drug Foundation, we are shown the facts about our nation’s love affair with alcohol and other drugs. No matter what your age or socio economic factors, it is evident that these substances have negatively impacted our lives and will continue to do so unless we better educate ourselves and our families in these areas. This fascinating infographic shows us that we can no longer put our head in the sand- we must take responsibility for our own use of alcohol and other substances as the effects are more wide reaching than we ever imagined.

Our Love Affair with Alcohol and Other Drugs

Do you struggle with alcohol and/or other drugs and are concerned about their long-term effects on your life and those around you? If so, contact Watersedgecounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or press book now to book in our online diary.

Transitions: 5 Steps to Help You Leave Home

Moving_forwards_by_captivatedimagesIn this article, Journalist and Guest Blogger Jessica Morris reflects on, and gives valuable advice about the process of leaving home, both from the perspective of the young person and their parent.

Leaving home is a natural step in the process of growing up. Aside from the obvious act of physically leaving your parent’s house, there is a progression prior to this. Getting your driver’s license and then a car stretches the bond a teen has with their parent; they are given a sense of independence. Likewise, when a teen gets a job and their own income, this also alters the parent/child relationship dramatically. And after the child leaves school, there is an innate sense that they are free to do as they choose. After a while, the young adult feels as though they are a boarder in their parent’s house. They may still rely on their parents in times of trouble, but they are now able to facilitate their own life. Therefore, the act of moving away from home routinely follows these steps.

A young adult will be excited to live their own life, but may be unprepared for the realities of true adulthood. As someone who “left the nest” relatively late, 23 years old to be exact, I have had to adjust to becoming totally independent as I moved across the globe. Aside from the normal pressures of moving away from home, I have also had to adjust to a new community, a new residence and a new job. While I am still adjusting to life in Florida, there are five things I have found fundamental during my transition from home. I believe many of these also reflect the changes and challenges other young adults go through. So for all the parents who are concerned for your ‘babies' welfare, take note of these points and young adults, read these and allow yourself to relax. Transition is always difficult, but these five steps might make it a little easier.

1. Stay in contact with home

This may sound simple, but the balancing act of investing in the lives of your friends and family while also developing your new life is a challenge you will constantly juggle. Make time to contact those you are close too. It will be difficult, but fight to keep the relationships that matter. You will inevitably lose contact with some people, this is normal. Don’t allow yourself to become bitter about this; it is a natural part of life.
Parents don't force your relationship; let your child initiate contact. Give them the space they need to start their own life. Begin to develop an adult relationship rather than one purely reliant on your care of them.

2. Develop new relationships
Moving away from your community can be lonely, so make a point to reach out to new people. Housemates, colleagues, sports teams or church groups are excellent ways to meet likeminded people. Step out and purposely develop relationships. This is a new chapter in your life, embrace it.

3. Take time for you
Each person’s experience when moving away will be different. Some will have all the basic skills down pat, but will struggle emotionally. Others may be unable to cook or do their washing, but still be quite content away from home. Give yourself the time to feel these emotions, try to stretch yourself and develop new skills.
Parents, the fact your child may still rely on you for meals, washing and even finances is to be expected, but have boundaries.  Remember as much as this move is about your child's independence, it is also about yours. Teach your child the skills they need, and schedule times to catch up over dinner.

4. Be realistic
The prospect of leaving home can be romantic and full of adventure, but try to stay level headed. Do you have the finances to live away from your parents? Do you need roommates? Consider what you will eat and if you will cook, and don’t assume moving in with your friends means there will be no conflict. Be prepared for the challenges that will come, stretch and ready yourself for them as best you can.
Parents, there will be times your child needs your support whether this be emotionally, physically or financially. Let them know you are available and to what capacity you can give them this, but don’t coddle them. Allow them to make mistakes, let them create their own budget (or lack of). Allow them to ask for help.  At times it may feel like you are watching a car wreck, but this is all a part of the experience your child wants and needs.

 5. Be kind to yourself
You can plan the move from home down to precise details, but you cannot guarantee how things will pan out. There will be nights you feel more emotional, allow yourself to cry. There will be days your body freaks out, you will dramatically add or lose weight and may find yourself displaying symptoms of stress or anxiety. This is okay. You are establishing a new life for yourself; it is going to take some time to adjust. Ride this as best you can and learn new habits to keep yourself healthy.
Parents don’t stress or panic, your child will be fine. Remember you went through this process too.

About Jessica Morris

 Jessica Morris is a 22 year-old free-lance journalist living near Melbourne, Australia. Passionate about pop culture and how this intersects with mental health, faith and social justice; she seeks represent this generation within the media. You can view her work at www.jessicamorris.net.
If you would like to know more about how to navigate your present transition experience or need support as you experience your own transition contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.


7 Ways To Help a Young Person Who is Self Harming

 One of my greatest challenges of being a parent was ‘letting go' of my children. Right from the moment they began to cautiously make their first steps I  experienced  anxiety at a new level. The environment suddenly became a minefield of potential dangers to my vulnerable children. Do I need supporting evidence? There was that day when my 18 month old daughter pulled the television and the supporting cabinet beneath it, over, landing on top of her little body (thankfully there were no broken bones) and the day that her 2 year old sister almost drowned herself when, in a moment of unbridled excitement  she headed straight into the water with no knowledge of how swiftly the ground dropped beneath her feet (she still survives). Need I go on? From the moment my children learnt to walk, I felt like my heart had grown arms and legs and was happily engaged in exploring the world outside my body. Of course, you know that this is the way it should be but it doesn't prevent you from going on the emotional roller-coaster ride that having children takes you on. Your instinct and priority as a parent, is to protect your children from all potential harm. What do you do then, when you realize that your young person is harming themselves? How do you feel? Angry? Helpless? Anxious? Your own children may be adults with their own lives now however you may know other young people who are going through this.

Unfortunately, self-harm is not uncommon, especially among our young people, and the more you know about what is helpful and what is not helpful, the better your support will be. So let's have a talk about the issue of self-harm and strategies to deal with it.


What is Self Harm?

Self-harming behaviors are acts of doing intentional harm to your body and include cutting, burning, biting, and scratching. There are conflicting views on what is and isn't self harm. For instance, are eating disorders acts of self-harm,  or would you consider body piercing self-harm? My personal view is that any behavior that has a negative impact on the body and is intentionally acted upon is a form of self-harm. 
Self-harming behavior has the power to confront you in ways that few other things might. You may be feeling angry, helpless, anxious, overwhelmed, sad or all of the above. In my own experience, I was terrified of losing my young person and, feeling helpless to ‘fix' it, I swiftly became depressed which actually had the effect of amplifying my young persons self-harming behavior further. 

How can you help your young person? 

1. Try not to overreact. Self harm behavior is often initiated by stress, anxiety and /or conflict in a person's life and by overreacting you can increase these unwelcome feelings and unwittingly exacerbate the need your child feels to harm themselves. Remember that self-harming behavior does not imply that they are suicidal.
2. Understand that self harm is not “attention-seeking” behavior but a genuine cry for help and needs to be taken seriously. ‘Just ignore it and it will go away' will not work in this circumstance.
3. Attend to your own emotions, so that you can be present to your young person  without judgement, blame, anger or anxiety. Take the time to see a Counsellor so that you can talk about your own feelings and ‘contain' what you feel when you are with your young person.
4. Be attentive and available to your young person. Understand that they may not feel ready to talk to you when you want them to talk. Try to be sensitive to them and understand that they are experiencing enormous emotional pain. They do not have the coping ability to deal with your own anxiety or frustration. 
5. Encourage them to get help from a helpline, or a qualified doctor or counsellor. These helping professionals have the skills to help your young person. Often a young person needs to talk to someone other than family and friends.   This is not a reflection on your inability to understand them or their rejection of you, but a need for your young person to be able to explore their own experience without feeling embarrassed or ashamed and in a confidential and objective context.
6. Self harm is not something that your young person can ‘just stop' doing. Self harm behavior is triggered by a variety of stressors including stressful situations, depression, self-hatred, and unresolved past issues. It can take a person a long time to overcome the need to self harm.
7. If your young person does hurt themselves seriously, contain your own emotional response – in particular anger, blame or frustration. Respond with first-aid and if necessary get medical help immediately.
It is not always obvious that a young person is self-harming and it is a difficult and confronting conversation to have. In a following  article I  talk about some of the signs that may indicate a young person is self-harming.
If you would like to know more about how to help a young person who is vulnerable to self harm  or need support yourself contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.