Enjoying the Holidays without going into Debt

Enjoying the Holidays without going into Debt

Many people assume that in order to enjoy the Holidays that you must go into debt. However, it is not necessary to go into debt if you want to enjoy the Holidays. How much money you spend does not equal how much you care about someone. In my opinion, the Holidays are about spending time with people in your life that you care about and are important to your life. It is a time to acknowledge these people and to thank them for being in your life.

Therefore, one thing you can do is to take advantage of the Holiday activities happening in your cities. Most of these activities are free and offer a great opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends. Most cities websites post the Holiday activities planed for that city. You can also check your local patch.com for Holiday activities occurring in your area.

Another place to check is your church if you belong to one. Many churches offer free Holiday activities to their members and to those who do not belong to their church. For example, during Hanukkah in Broadway Plaza in downtown Walnut Creek, each night they have singing, games for the children and food. This is all free and can be a very festive and fun time even if you are not Jewish.

Another thing to do is not place so much emphasis on gifts. Maybe set a limit on what people can spend or draw names out of a hat and you only buy for one person. You can also make gifts or give someone a card telling them what they mean to you and how they add to your life. This does not cost a great deal of money.

Finally, another thing you can do is to volunteer at the food bank or St. Anthony’s kitchen. This cost nothing and you can give back to your community. This is what the Holidays are about and can be a very positive experience for you and your family. It can be a very special way to spend the Holidays.

These are just a few suggestions for how you can celebrate the Holidays without going into debt. These are also some ways of celebrating the Holidays in a more meaningful manner than spending a great deal of money and creating a great of stress for yourself and your family.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work or his private practice visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com.

Coping with Mental Illness during the Holidays

Coping with Mental Illness during the Holidays

For many people the Holidays can be a stressful time. For some people there is the stress of not having enough money. For others, they lost a loved one this year and this is the first Holiday without their loved one. For others, there are family issues that make this a difficult time of the year. Finally, for people with mental health issues, the Holidays can be a very difficult time.

For people with mental health issues the Holidays can be difficult for many reasons. They may be dealing with family issues, financial issues or not feeling happy. Not feeling happy can be difficult because everyone is supposed to be happy during the Holidays. At least this is what we are told by society. Also some people with mental health issues may find the Holidays difficult because their condition is not stabilized yet or the Holidays can be a trigger for their mental health issues. I see this with the patients I work with who are Bipolar or patients who are dealing with eating disorders. Just to name a couple of mental health issues that are triggered by the Holidays.

People who are suffering with mental health issues that are triggered by the Holidays need support and understanding. You cannot just tell them to pull it together or to take a pill. It is not that easy for them. If it was, they would automatically take those steps on their own to solve the situation.

There are some things that people with mental health issues can do that may help them. Dr. Pooky Knightsman, who deals with her own mental health issues, describes some of these options in her video. I have included a link to it so you can watch it. If you have a loved one who has mental health issues, please watch this video and may be you and suggest some of these ideas to your loved one. If they work that would be fantastic for the person coping with mental health issues. If they do not work, please understand the person is not having issues on purpose. If you love them you need to be patient and understanding and help them through this difficult time. Here is the link to Dr. Knightsman YouTube video https://youtu.be/ch5JLIYyPtU.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with 20 years experience treating children and teenagers many of them are Bipolar. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work or his private practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com.

Lessons from Sandy Hook Elementary School

Lessons from Sandy Hook Elementary School

Today it has been five years since the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school where many children and adults where senselessly killed. Since that day more than 500,000 people in the United States by senseless gun violence.

Recently, I read an article by Cody Fenwick regarding children and gun violence. His article was very alarming. Also since is the five year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, Fenwick’s article connects guns to senseless shootings and teenagers who committed suicide with guns. The article by, Fenwick, confirmed what I am hearing from teenagers and children in psychotherapy. Additionally, the other school shootings such as the one in Nashville, to name one, confirmed the need for gun control. A point the statistics in Fenwick’s article support.

Many of us feel because we live in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek or Lafayette that our children and teenagers do not have to worry about gangs or gun violence. Unfortunately, this is not the truth. According to a new research study in the Journal of Pediatrics, guns continue to be the third-leading cause of death for Americans younger than 18 years old, killing around 1,300 children and teenagers a year in the United States. In addition, almost 6,000 children and teenagers are injured per year. Many teenagers are permanently disabled from these injuries.

The study examined data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Consumer Product Safety Commission between 2002 and 2014. The study found that boys, especially older boys such as teenagers and minorities, were much more likely to be the victims of gun violence. The study did not say anything about where the boys lived. The facts are children who are male and teenagers, are at a higher risk for becoming a victim of gun violence. Therefore, teenagers in our area are at risk of becoming a victim of gun violence.

The study does indicate there has been a decrease in accidental deaths such as boys cleaning a gun. However, the rate as a method for suicide has increased. I have mentioned before that suicide is the third leading cause of death for 10 year old boys. This study confirms that statistic and indicates the preferred method of suicide for boys and teenagers are guns. According to Katherine Fowler, one of the lead researchers at the CDC, “Firearm injuries are an important public health problem, contributing substantially to premature death and disability of children.” Understanding their nature [guns] and impact is a first step toward prevention.”

When we look at these numbers, can anyone argue against taking steps to protect our children? Can you imagine a 10 year old boy using a gun to kill himself? Can you imagine a 10 year old boy feeling that his life is so bad at the age of ten that death seems like a better option than living?

The study indicates that in recent years guns were responsible for a large number of adolescent, males who were murdered. The study documented that deaths in the category of murder for boys under the age of 18 years old decreased to 53 percent. This is a decrease yet the rate is still 53%. The other causes of gun-related deaths include:

• 38 percent — suicides

• 6 percent — unintentional deaths

• 3 percent — law enforcement/undetermined cause

The study found 82% of deaths by guns were boys. This means 82% of gun deaths were boys who were children or teenagers. Putting it another way, this means these boys were not even 18 years old yet at the time of their deaths. The study also found that white and American Indian children have the highest rate of suicide using a gun.

We also like to think that the United States in one of the most advanced nations in the world. However, the statistics show that the United States has the highest rate in the world for children under 14 years old committing suicide. Again, the United States has the highest rate of children under 14 years old using a gun to commit suicide. That number scares me and is appalling to me. However, as an adolescent and child psychotherapist, I do not doubt it. I have heard 6 year old boys seriously discussing suicide.

Furthermore, I hear teenagers routinely talking about needing to carry a knife or gun with them for protection. They tell me you never know when you will be jumped and you need to be able to protect yourself. In fact, a few years ago a teenager was shot on his front door step in Danville over a marijuana deal. When I mention to teens the risks they are taking, they tell me there is no guarantee they will live until 30 years old. They would rather die protecting themselves than doing nothing.

As a society, we need to look at these numbers and ask ourselves some questions. What are we going to do in order to improve gun safety? Most importantly, why are children as young as 6 years old thinking about suicide? Also what are we going to do so that children who are suicidal have access to mental health care? This is our problem because it does happen in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek and Lafayette.

Dr. Rubino has 20 years experience as a psychotherapist working with children and teenagers. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at www.RubinoCounseling.com.

The Holidays are not Happy for Everyone

The Holidays are not Happy for Everyone

The holidays are here again. As I have stated before, many people assume it is a happy time for everyone. We have signs of the Holidays and being happy everywhere. The decorations are everywhere, in stores and in homes. The music seems to be on every station. The parties are happening. The secrets and the giggles. Gets you feeling good just thinking about it, no? I read an article by a psychotherapist, Bea Armstrong, who indicates, like I have, that the Holidays are not a happy time for everyone and why. I have included her thoughts below.

No. Not for everyone.

The holiday season can be joyful AND painful. Holidays can hurt.

And they often hurt because of past experiences. Holidays can remind us of the year that some trauma occurred. And then we can never celebrate the current holiday without awakening memories of Decembers when Mom or Dad or a spouse died. Or a friend passed — way too soon. Or a child had a horrible accident.

Sometimes, we remember alone. Other times those memories are shared with a sibling or a partner or a friend. And that can make them easier. But the sting is still there.

Childhood can also be the source of hurtful holiday memories. Not every child experiences a Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade Christmas or Hanukkah. And if our childhoods were replete with scary adults who were abusive verbally or emotionally, or who abandoned us, we might decide that “I don’t do holidays.” And I’ll just “get through” and “be happy when it’s over.”

Sometimes the adults in our childhood weren’t scary….just clueless. They bought us presents that could have gone to anyone, despite how obvious we were about our preferences. Or the color came in a hated pink; or a size that we stopped wearing a year or more ago. When that happens, we don’t feel seen accurately by those who are supposed to care about us. We believe that we don’t matter enough to those people to get it right. To get us right.

This particular holiday might be difficult because our lives are in chaos now. Maybe a divorce is about to happen. Or we’ve lost a job. And we can be struggling to make the holidays joyous for others, for the kids. But we sure don’t feel it. The carols bring on tears of pain more than gratitude as we watch dreams unravel.

Or we’re seniors and find ourselves more and more often alone at the holidays, and unsure what to do about that.

If you are hurting this year, realize that you aren’t alone in that experience. Jealousy doesn’t help, and it’s rarely accurate. Even people who seem to have the best holiday season in tow can be covering up some deep wounds. Naming those wounds and normalizing that helps us feel more connected – to ourselves and to others.

If, on the other hand, you hear someone asking what’s going on for you, then share some of what you are going through. You don’t have to do an exhaustive history, but don’t slough it off either by saying something like, “It’s not that bad. I’m OK.” You’re not. And that is your truth.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience and specializes in treating children and teenagers. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website www.RubinoCounseling.com or on http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

Saving the CHIP Program

Saving the CHIP Program

Many people may not be aware but there is a program called CHIP which provides life saving medical care for children whose parents make to much to qualify for Medi-Cal. Many middle class or lower middle class families make to much to qualify for Medi-Cal. However, they do not make enough to pay for health insurance or what their insurance does not cover. The CHIP program helps parents pay for their child’s life saving surgery or medication.

It is in danger of being cut due to Trump’s proposed income tax program. Due to cutting the tax rates on corporation and lowering the tax bracket for people who make more than a million dollars a year, there are not enough funds to cover this program.

For this to happen in the United States is insane. We are supposed to be the super power in the world and the United States is supposed to be the advocate for human rights. We go to counties which violate human rights and threaten to impose sanctions. However, in our on country we are violating the rights of children to life saving medical care. This is the first time that this program is in danger of being cut.

Jimmy Kimmel discusses this issue on his show. His son was born with a life threatening heart condition and has needed several surgeries. He can afford it, but he has seen many families who cannot afford their child’s health care. Please watch this video of Jimmy Kimmel with his son so you can really understand this issue. Here is how Jimmy Kimmel explained this very serious situation https://youtu.be/yqulWPljawo.

If you have a child or care about children call your Congressperson and Senator and urge them not to pass income tax reform without the CHIP program.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who has 20 years experience treating children and teenagers. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or his private practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com.