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Present Hope Counseling

Katherine Arnold, MAMFC, LPC, LMFT


Blog Posts 2019

What to do if you think someone is suicidal?

September 22th , 2019  uploaded by Katherine Arnold

   September is National Suicide Prevention Month.

If you think someone you care about is in emotional crisis and is considering suicide, ASK!  If they say yes, you can help by being with them, talking with them, and helping them to connect to someone who is trained to talk them through.   

Find out more. Click the link below. 

Myths about Suicide are barriers to Helping:  Take the quiz

September 16th , 2019 by Katherine Arnold

   September is National Suicide Prevention Month.

Take the Test: TRUE or FALSE

1. Suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition?

2. Once an individual is suicidal, he or she will always remain suicidal.

3. Most suicides happen suddenly without warning.

4. People who die by suicide are selfish and take the easy way out.

5. Talking about suicide will lead to and encourage suicide.                 

Find out more. Click the link below.

Know the Warning Signs

September 10th , 2019 by Katherine Arnold

                                     September is National Suicide Prevention Month.

All lives are valuable and important.  We must never forget the significance of caring.  We encourage you to learn about warning signs and risk factors.  Check out this link for more information.

Sound the Alarm

September 9th, 2019 by Katherine Arnold

                                     September is National Suicide Prevention Month.

      Over the next month, Present Hope Counseling plans to provide you with statistics, facts, terminology, and aids to help prevent suicide in our community. Our first blog will expose the reality of suicide by reporting on the statistics. 

       Did you know that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States? Suicide ranks as the 2nd leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15 and 34. What does that mean? Every 11 minutes a person dies by suicide in the United States. If you head out for a half hour lunch break, by the time you return, two individuals have died by suicide in the United States. If you head to the theater to watch a movie, by the time the movie is over, six people would have died; one of those deaths is a young adult, not yet 35 years old.   For every one of these deaths, 147 people are exposed. In other words, 40-50% of our population has been exposed to suicide in their lifetime.

      Alarming as these statistics are, they do not include suicide attempts. Every 27 seconds, a person attempts to die by suicide in the United States. Consider these facts.  Then consider, prevention!  These deaths can be prevented.

Suicide can be prevented! 
Help us to help others by learning more.

We are Here For You

August 14th, 2019 by Katherine Arnold

     August, 2019 marks the three-year anniversary of Louisiana’s “Great Flood.” The floodwaters have receded long ago. Slowly, our community and homes have been rebuilt and much has been restored. The Great Flood of 2016 is said to be in the past, a mere memory. But, is it?

     The Great Flood of 2016 is far from over. While the physical floodwaters certainly have receded, silently the invisible floodwaters of fear, insecurity, and uncertainty have risen. The impact of this event is not a mere memory but remains very active in our thoughts, emotions, actions, and reactions.  We are hyper-vigilant to respond to any and all perceived threats; a severe rain forecast, a tropical storm warning, a rising river, or an unexpected downpour. We may find ourselves sandbagging, overanxious, feeling powerless, or paralyzed by panic.   Our perspective and our reality are no longer the same but forever changed. We are survivors of trauma. However, we do not have to stay stuck in the unchangeable past. The invisible floodwaters can recede. We can move forward and refocus on the here and now.

     Together, we want to join you in your journey to overcome the invisible flood.  We want to help you rebuild and restore your internal safety and security.  

    We are here for you.   

Show Up

August 14th, 2019 by Nicole Barnum


The First Step in Finding Healing

August 9th, 2019 by Kelli Blue Hill

       With much gratitude I can say that I did not flood personally. It was with great terror that I watched the footage of flooding. My mind thrashed about with worries. How are my friends and family? Is there anybody helping them? Can I help them? Would I have a job to return to? And if I did, who could keep my children while I worked? Will things ever return to normal? While these thoughts swarmed my mind, I was keenly aware of how small my concerns were compared to worries of others. In an instant, their lives had been irrevocably changed. Their physical safety and emotional security had vanished. And though generosity and kindness abounded, the magnitude of this event created scarcity of resources and helping hands.

       An event like this will not soon be forgotten. Trauma changes us. It hides in the fibers of our muscles, rewires our brains, and settles into our DNA. We find ourselves in a pattern of rapid-fire reactions to threats- either real or perceived. Our bodies and mind tell us that we absolutely CANNOT let something like this happen again. We will not be taken off guard! We will remain hypervigilant, ready to fight, flee or freeze at the slightest indication that the threat is returning. It could be a sight, a sound, a smell. A feeling. A roll of thunder. A weather alert on our phone. Whatever, it is, we’ll be ready for it! The slightest trigger will activate the most primitive part of our brain and familiar sensations of stress overwhelm us again! We can’t blame our brain for this reaction. In fact, our brains are primed for survival! Yet, over time, this stress response no longer serves us. The state of hypervigilance is meant to be a temporary reaction, not a sustained pattern. Simply put, trauma robs us of our ability to thoughtfully respond and instead, we react.

      After experiencing trauma, our minds might experience waves of thoughts- ruminations of the past and worries for the future. Our minds might struggle to grapple with questions of “Why me?” Or even play our story on repeat. Our minds might jump to the future, analyzing strategies for avoiding a replay of the pain. Or, sometimes, our minds might tune out altogether. We might live in a fog, become lost in daydreams or lose ourselves in a story while binging Netflix. If these thinking patterns sound familiar, congratulations! You are part of the human race, and, more importantly, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

      As a therapist, there are a number of skills that I teach to clients to help redirect and ease their minds. Today, I would like to share with you what is, perhaps, the most powerful tool we have. But first, a disclaimer. I attended grad school for four years. During this time, I completed a 2-year internship which required weekly supervision both individually and as a group. After graduation, I completed an additional 3000 hours of post-masters supervised experience in order to achieve licensure and have since exceeded the minimum continuing education requirements per my board’s regulations. All that to say, I have spent a lot of money, taken a lot of classes, and worked under some really smart people in learning how to best help others. Yet, imagine my surprise when I realized that one of the most effective tools for managing stress, anxiety and trauma required no education at all. In fact, I had been practicing it since the minute I entered into this world-breathing.

       Before you start rolling your eyes, let me explain. I used to HATE when people would ask me to take a deep breath. It sounded so cliché and condescending. I usually thought, “I’m feeling tremendously terrible and YOU ARE TELLING ME TO BREATHE?” This thought was usually followed by a desire to punch them and then a considerable use of constraint. But the more I learn about breathing, the more I see that it’s not such bad advice. In fact, I have learned that it is an incredible, God-given tool that we can use anywhere, free of charge. 

        Think about it. Breathing is the only function that we can use both consciously and unconsciously. It can operate from both the primitive parts of our brain as well as our prefrontal cortex (basically the CEO of our brain). Which means, when we need it, we can pull this tool out of our unconscious toolbelt and move it to conscious. When we do so, we soothe the part of our brain responsible for a stress response. This action, in and of itself gives us a pause….a moment…where we can choose how we respond to a situation rather than react. Additionally, a nice, slow exhale activates our parasympathetic nervous system, prompting our heartrate to slow its pace. When we pause and breath, instead of activating our fight response, we give ourselves a fighting chance! In essence, we gain our control back in an uncontrollable situation.

       I can’t promise you that it won’t flood again. As much as I would like to, I cannot guarantee your safety at any given point. Yet when we make conscious breathing a habit in our lives, we can more easily and readily tap into our bodies’ natural and relaxed state. So, if you will, let’s give it a go. Take a nice deep inhale and a long slow exhale. Breathe into this moment. Allow yourself to feel whatever may come, breath into it and let the healing come.


Storm Prep 101: Communicating Your Anxiety

August 5th, 2019 by Heather Olivier

               August 2016 is a date that will forever haunt the residents of Louisiana. The disastrous flooding we experienced was nothing short of a meteorological mystery. As we slept safely in our beds, none of us knew that the rivers were quickly cresting and that the water would soon be rushing into our homes. I had been married for two short months and it was my husband’s first weekend off work since we returned from our honeymoon. What a great weekend off—not! As the panic ensued, we frantically tried to gather as many belongings as we could fit into our bags. I only thought to grab a pair of shoes because they were literally floating past me. We treaded through disgusting, brown water up to our chests as people floated by on boats. I recall a friend of mine yelling from his boat, “We rescued your grandmother and she’s safe.” What?! The thought of my grandmother being rescued by a boat was nightmarish. I was trying to wrap my mind around what was even happening. It was pure chaos.

        Since that dreadful day, I—like many of us, I would presume—have been on edge every time it begins raining hard. There have definitely been sandbags guarding my front door on more than one occasion. Over-prepared much? Probably. But, the interesting thing about our over-preparedness was that with each non-destructive rainfall after the 2016 Flood, we became more and more desensitized to the potential threat of another flood. Our hypersensitivity to heavy rainfall was being chipped away at each time our lives weren’t turned upside down. Over time, the 2016 Flood became known as some freak accident, one of which would not occur again in our lifetimes.

        Enter stage left: Hurricane Barry. Dun, dun, dun. What an uneventful weekend that was. Meteorologists across southern Louisiana and Mississippi were advising residents of those areas to take full precautions in preparing for extreme flooding. The hypervigilance that had slowly been dissipating was suddenly back with a vengeance. Bread, canned foods, water, and other items were cleaned out at every grocery store. The lines to fill up gas tanks were a mile long. Sandbags were showing up on front stoops as if Amazon had just had a blowout sale on them. I wasn’t freaking out. Nope; not me. I had what I call “the crazy eyes.” When you look at someone, ask if they’re okay, and they blurt out, “No, really! I’m fine!” But then you see their eyes and think, “Yikes… she is totally not fine…” and then you back away slowly. That was me—I was crazy eyes. Everyone else was freaking out, so why not follow suit? Bring me to the bandwagon so I can jump on.

        While I was busy freaking out about what needed to be done in preparation for the storm, my husband was cool, calm, and collected. He was saying things like, “I think it’s going to be fine. I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as they’re predicting.” He was right, obviously, but there was no way I could have known that at the time. I did not share his sense of calm, and frankly, it was working my nerves. I was overly-vocalizing my anxiety because I felt like he wasn’t anxious at all. If I didn’t exude a sense of urgency and panic, did the threat of losing everything even exist? I wanted to shake him and scream, “THERE IS A HURRICANE! YOU ARE TOO CALM!”

What I didn’t realize was that my husband and I were falling into a cycle that most people find themselves in no matter what type of relationship it is. He was trying to stay calm because he thought I was too anxious and needed to be grounded. I, on the other hand, was spouting off my feelings of anxiety because I felt he wasn’t taking the situation seriously. The calmer he was, the more anxious I became, and vice versa. As it turns out, we weren’t the only ones to fall prey to this vicious cycle. I saw couples posting about their “I’m too anxious; you’re too calm” exchanges as well. So why were so many people finding themselves in this cycle? It’s because we were simply reacting and not stopping to consider what we were reacting to. I wasn’t overly anxious because of the storm, necessarily. My anxiety was heightened because I felt alone in my feelings of concern, which made me feel discounted. My husband wasn’t as calm as he let on either. He was putting his anxiety on the backburner to neutralize my sense of panic. We were adding fuel to the cycle’s fire because we were only reacting. Once we actually talked about it and both explained that we were attempting to overcompensate for the other’s lack of anxiety and calmness, the situation neutralized itself. Instead of reacting to one another, we were able to react to the potential threat as a team.

        The moral of the story is that anxiety—and our reactions to it—can act as a brick wall between ourselves and others. When we feel alone in our anxiety, we often feel the need to spread it to others. The problem is, they are probably already reacting to it whether they realize it or not. Now, let me be clear. A certain level of anxiety keeps us safe and grounded. It urges us to study for tests, to prepare for potential threats, to stay away from people who could harm us. Our jobs are to notice the anxiety, assess the source of the anxiety, and react in ways that could lower the anxiety. One of the quickest ways to relieve some of our anxiety is to communicate it. By doing so, we label the source of the anxiety and we avoid others reacting in a way that could increase it, such as overcompensating for our lack of calmness. So my fellow Louisiana residents, in the aftermath of Hurricane Barry, with the anniversary of the 2016 Flood quickly approaching, and for the rest of hurricane season, I urge you to be aware of how anxiety is impacting your relationships. Don’t be Crazy Eyes Magee who is freaking out on behalf of the whole neighborhood. Notice your anxiety, don’t let it overpower you, label it, and communicate it.

The Sandbags Worked 

July 21, 2019 by Melissa Carson

       In 2016 we waited too late. We watched as the water crept into the parking lot of our apartment complex and began to rise between the cars. By the time we realized we should make a plan to leave, our cars were too deep. We had the foresight to put up a few chairs on beds and move the photos to the higher shelves but beyond that we could not imagine the water getting into our home. We evacuated in 2016 when the power went out and about an hour before the water started creeping into our place. My father in law came in his truck and we waded in knee high water carrying our children and a duffel bag to meet him. As we exited our complex water was coming into his truck and filled the floorboards. Thinking back the words I associate with that memory is “trapped” and “powerless”. Our home flooded in 2016 and we were displaced for 8 ½ long, stressful months. Besides our overall sense of wellbeing, we ended up losing both our vehicles, most of our furniture, and so many of our possessions.

         Fast forward three years to tropical storm Barry. This storm gave us the advantage of advanced warning. The media could not stop talking about what a rain event it could be. We waited and watched, trying not to be overly anxious about it. When the forecasts started predicting rivers rising “just shy” of 2016 levels we started to make a plan. This time around we were going to prepare. We were not going to lose our vehicles. We were going to play it smart. The power of preparation helped me focus my frenetic energy into a task, any task that gave me a sense of control over this situation, unlike in 2016. My husband, children and I worked to put up furniture. I pulled out pots and pans, towels and everything in the bottom cabinets throughout the house. I moved clothing and plastic bins down to my in-laws along with three bags of groceries. I didn’t want to lose anything this go around! Even after all that I felt like I should have done more. I knew there were local sandbag distribution sites in our area so I took my children with me to get sandbags. The energy at the site was hurried, nervous, and yet generous. People were donating time and muscle to help fill and tie bags for others who were comparing this situation to “last time”. We loaded the heavy bags in our vehicles and headed home. My kids were curious how the sandbags would help. I explained it was one more measure to stop water from getting into our home. We put the sandbags in place, loaded up a few more items along with our dog and locked our home up tight, leaving for higher ground. Then we waited. We waited for the heavy rains to come and for the rivers to rise, praying it wouldn’t happen but knowing we had prepared in case it did. Barry didn’t do what the forecasters thought he would. Somehow that dry air caused the storm to produce two days of drizzly rain over Denham Springs. Throughout the weekend we watched the forecast continue to evolve. By Sunday, river estimates were below flood stage and we felt like we were safe to return home and begin the process of undoing all our preparation. I made a quick trip to our place and when I returned both my children asked me if our home had flooded again. I told them it didn’t, all was well and we were safe to return. My son’s response was “the sandbags worked!”. The sandbags worked. They worked to help us feel like we had power and could take action in the face of an uncontrollable event. They helped us channel our nervousness into preparations. They offered a little peace of mind to me and prevented flooding according to my son.

          In times of danger and even potential disaster we yearn to take action. How can we ward off what we cannot control? For us it was putting up furniture and putting out sandbags. For others it may have been to think through the worst-case scenario and then make a plan. Our physical preparations can give us the mental peace we yearn for. Our children hear and see these plans too. I encourage you to be open with them in times like these. Let them be a part of the plans to prepare because it can give them a sense of focused action and control too. My children felt they made a difference in the situation because they helped in the way they could. And now that we know the sandbags worked, next time we will again put out the sandbags.