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Expert Series: Managing Stress & Anxiety: Q&A with Dr. Barry Jacobs and Dr. Julie Mayer, Live!

Living through these unprecedented times is strange, stressful, anxiety-inducing, scary and sad. 

 

Clinical psychologists Barry Jacobs and Julie Mayer will answer your questions on how to cope with the major life change, anxiety and sadness we are all facing these days. 

 

What questions would you like them to answer? What advice do you need to better manage your stress and anxiety? 

 

We will answer your questions on the AARP Rewards Connect page later this month and during live Q&A sessions on May 20, 3 to 5 p.m., and May 27, 3 to 5 p.m

AARPTeri
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Stress from being a caregiver for someone with mental disturbances

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AARP Expert

Hi V. Wang @vwang3414 

 

     It is hard enough to manage a mental disturbance. But when the whole country is stressed out because of the pandemic, coping with mental symptoms becomes much harder. I suggest the following:

 

     --Keep up with whatever emotional wellness regimen you have already been using. That could be meditation, yoga and taking walks or seeing your therapist and taking your medications. You need that regimen and routine more now than ever.

 

     --Seek the support of others. We all need someone to have our back--especially through hard times when we aren't feeling well.

 

     --Don't be hard on yourself. It is normal and expectable that your mental disturbance would be worse under the current conditions. That's not your fault. You just have to take responsibility for taking steps to get yourself back on track.

 

     I'm sure this isn't easy. I wish you much luck. Things will get better. You will get better, too. Take care, Barry

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To VWang3414, @vwang3414 

Being a caregiver is full of challenges. Caregiving someone with mental health problems can be especially challenging. Try to appreciate the hard work you are doing and feel going about the efforts you are making. That said, you sound like you could use support and relief. Caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint. Hearing about how others are coping with caregiving can be helpful. Check out AARP's caregiver support resources. Reach out to your religious leaders if you participate. Friends and family can help too. Asking for help is a first step. Try to find ways to take some time for yourself to do some self-care. Hopefully, your burden will feel a little less strenuous.

Julie

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I've just gone thru a painful divorce after 25 years of marriage, I had to move in with my son in another state because I could no longer afford to live on my own, I ended up with a very part-time job that, along with my social security check, isn't enough to keep me alive....I was furloughed because it was restaurant/retail and surviving on unemployment.  I am a high risk for this virus and have kept myself pretty isolated since mid-March when I was laid off.  Now, they are wanting me to return to work and I'm scared to death.  I don't want to lose my unemployment but how do I go back and keep myself safe?  I believe they are letting us wear masks (I don't even have one and no way to sew one for myself).  Are they obligated to provide me with the safety materials I need to keep from getting sick?  To say I am depressed, worried and scared are understatements.  So much has happened to me in the last 6 months that it's all I can do to get out of bed in the morning.  I so much want life to return to "normal" (whatever that is) and move on with what's left of my life.  I don't know how to be happy anymore and I haven't for a really long time. 😔😔

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Hi OhioSpeedMonkey @ohiospeedmonkey 

 

     You are certainly having a tough time of it. Your life had already reached a turning-point before the virus came along. It will take time for you to step-by-step create a new life for yourself. That will take 1-2 years, more than likely. That is the average time for people to adjust after a divorce even without a pandemic.

 

     To begin to create a new life for yourself, several things have to happen:

 

     --If you haven't already done so, then seek treatment for depression. Your primary care provider can help you with this. Being depressed makes it much less likely that you will recover from divorce or cope well with the pandemic. If you can't change these situations, then you have to change your reaction to them. Depression treatment can help a lot.

 

     --Returning to work may be a good idea for bringing in some money and getting you out of the house but can only be done so safely if your employer gives you a mask, gloves and anything else you need to be and feel safe. Have that conversation with you employer.

 

     --Try not to isolate yourself. I know we are all supposed to physically isolate ourselves during this time, but staying in touch with others by phone or videoconferencing can make a great deal of difference. People who are depressed often don't want to see others. Please do it anyway. Pulling away from others will only increase your depression. Reconnecting with them might begin to lighten your mood.

 

     All this is easier said than done. It may feel like there's no hope but there is. The pandemic will end. The majority of people recover from divorce. Hang in there.--Barry

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To @ohiospeedmonkey  

 

You have been through a lot of big changes in a short time. I'm sorry that your divorce was painful. I'm sure it will be a while before you fully adjust to your new life. Be patient with yourself. Recovering from divorce can take a long time. I've spoken to many people who are struggling with how to go back to work comfortably. I'm glad to hear that you can wear masks at your place of employment. Some employers provide them. If you have none, you can wear a bandana or scarf until you can get some masks. You sound like you might be experiencing some depression as you adjust to the changes in your life and your return to work. You might speak to your PCP to get evaluated for depression. Having a schedule by returning to work may also help you to get out of bed more easily. I hope it does. Maybe interacting with people will also help lift your spirits. I wish you all the best. 

Julie

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Social Butterfly

#StaySafe


#VegasStrong
Phil Harris, actor and showman, to John Fogerty of CCR: “If I’d known I’d live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”
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@WebWiseWoman,
I totally agree with your stay safe sentiment!
Julie

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I'm live in NEW YORK CITY (STATEN IS LAND) thru all this covid19 iiv lost 3friends to it and haven't been able to see my grandchildren since the start.FaceTime is good but doesn't replace the hugs.I worry is my life ever going to get back to normal .seems to me the new attitude is the old people are going to have to deal with this.I try to stay positive thru yoga and exercise reading and not watching to much need but it is overwhelming.

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AARP Expert

 

@tommyk628 

I’m so sorry for your losses. You’ve had so many in such a short time. It isn’t easy to grieve in the best circumstances, but it is especially challenging now. What we most want and need is the support and love of others. But for many of us, that must be at a distance, which just adds to the grief.

Although you can’t get real hugs, it is crucial that you share your memories and feelings about the friends you have lost. If there are video-based funerals or memorial services, join in and share with the group. Despite their not being in person, these events can be powerful and meaningful.

Develop your own personal grief rituals for those you’ve lost. Sit with a photo and remember good times together. Light a candle and think of your friends. Take a mindful walk in which you purposefully reflect on those you’ve lost. Talk to mutual friends who share your grief.

Do your best to stay in the moment and appreciate what you do have. We cannot predict the future, but we can find peace in the present.

Best wishes,

Julie

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Thanks for your post Dr. Barry & Dr. Julie will be answering your posts soon - stay tuned!

AARPTeri
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AARP Expert

Hi Everyone,

I'm Dr. Julie Mayer, a psychologist who specializes in relationship issues. I've been working with a lot of people who are having a hard time with Covid related issues in their lives. I'll do my best to answer your questions today.

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I am 50 years strong with a mother that has recently been dealing with issues concerning her total knee replacement (Dec 2019). There were a number of medical issues that resulted in her remaining in the hospital for a week following the surgery. Afterwards, Mom (80 plus) experienced a number of challenges following the surgery that required her to go into a rehabilitation center for two weeks. The hardest job I’ve experienced was to be an advocate for the care of my mother. The elderly population is viewed differently and when your an African American it is twice as difficult to receive quality care without making others give an account. And now with COVID-19 it has presented a strain on the recovery and healing process on so many levels. I’ve placed some of my responsibilities on hold to address the needs of my mother’s care ADL. Prior to the surgery she was living alone and now I’ve moved into her home. I am so proud of the gains she has demonstrated but I find myself wanting to have a home that would encompassed both our homes. A mother-in law home/loft would be the perfect solution; That would be apart of the main home. If anyone living in St. Louis knows of such living quarters please feel free to share. Signed a daughter that is sandwiched between two families. Welcome feedback and suggestions for my own self care beyond walking, talking, prayer, journaling and reading. 

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AARP Expert

Hi @m658531j 

 

   Your mother is lucky to have you in her corner. You have a real sense of purpose and mission in caring for her and others. And that's just my point. Beyond talking, walking, reading, journaling, etc., you need to keep that mission in the forefront of your mind because it will propel you forward. No matter what obstacles you meet, you will overcome them because you have that kind of determination.Never underestimate the power of purpose and grit. Keep fighting the good fight.--Barry

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@m658531j 

I can't help you find a more convenient housing arrangement, but I can address your caregiving situation. First, I think you should acknowledge that you have done a good job advocating for and caring for your mother during an especially challenging time. You've altered your life to be there for your mother, which isn't easy at all and I think you should feel proud of yourself for the efforts and sacrifices you've made. You're already doing some great self-care: walking, talking, prayer, journaling and reading. If you aren't already doing the following, you might try turning to your church community for support (if you have one), and finding time to socialize with friends and family (at a distance or over a video platform) so you don't feel too isolated. With regard to your living arrangements, you and your mother might talk about how to set up her home so that you have a little more of your own space. 

All the best,

Julie

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I live in Dallas, TX, I have been taking care of a good friend who has some mental health issues. He has panic attacks, worst I've seen. Having them myself, tho controlled, I can relate. He is bipolor and borderline personality disorder. He is going to a "Metrocare" Dr. but meds is all she can do. The clinic has him scheduled for a therapist but it has been several months, so I was wondering if you know the name of a good holistic therapist in my area. I have been searching but with him not working or on any government program, it is hard. I look forward to your Q & A.
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@deju0725 

 

As I don’t live in your area, my suggestion is that your friend look at the Psychology Today website for therapists in your area who may be available to be of help. Some offer sliding-scale fees. Many are now doing remote psychotherapy over video platforms or by telephone. There may also be on-line support groups that he can join that address his particular struggles. With social media growing daily, it’s worthwhile to look around to see if there are Facebook groups, community-based support groups, groups offered by religious institutions in your area  - even if they are all using on-line platforms to meet for now.

It’s often true that clinics can have waiting lists. He might contact Metrocare again to see if a therapist has an unexpected opening and to reassert his need to meet with someone. At least the medications are a good start. I hope your friend finds some support. Best of luck to you both.

Julie

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I live in little old Freeport, Tx. I listen to Dr. Phil a lot. His Son has an online web site called, "Dr. On Demand."
He just said on yesterday's program to just go online and type in "Dr. On Demand" in the URL at the top of your screen. Hey, it's worth a try. And if they cannot help, I bet they know who can help you. He made a
believer out of me. Good luck.
Laura E. Taff
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