Laser Hair Removal or Electrolysis…which one is right for you?

I have so many clients who come to me saying, “Well I’m not fair skinned with dark hair, so I guess laser just won’t work for me.” Wrong! While the lasers of yesteryear may have been designed to only treat fair skin, the ones of today have come a long, long way. We can successfully (and safely) treat all skin types from 1 (the whitest white) to 6 (the darkest). The only prerequisite to doing laser is that your hair color be brown or black. The laser is attracted to the melanin in the hair, which is contained in brown and black hair. That does not mean if you do not have dark hair, you are stuck sporting that unwanted hair you so desperately want to get rid of. This is where electrolysis comes into the picture. Although it is a longer process because it is a different method of hair removal, electrolysis is extremely effective in destroying it. What about the people who have both light and dark hair? They’re the ones who utilize both methods. We usually start with laser because it destroys 45-60 hairs each time it’s fired, so it’s a very quick process. We then either do laser and electrolysis in tandem, or we finish laser and then begin electrolysis.

Laser destroys the course hairs first and since the finer and thinner hairs are harder to eliminate, electrolysis is sometimes needed to finish clearing an area. They’re both very effective methods of hair removal and work very well together to eliminate unwanted hair.

I can’t tell you how many times people have come to me and said “Oh laser doesn’t work for me. I’ve already tried it and had little/no results.” I always tell them that not all lasers are created equal. I have worked with plenty of lasers that I was not satisfied myself with the results. I can honestly say that our laser has given me the best results out of all the lasers I have used. This is one of the reasons I often offer a spot test during consultations. I love being able to show people that they can get the results they desire. As someone who used to have to shave just about every day, I cannot tell you how nice it is to not have to waste time each morning dealing with that. When I recently had a house guest, she said “do you have a razor I can borrow?” and I actually had to search for one. That’s not a bad problem to have!

I would love to discuss your options with you and how I can help you on your journey to becoming hair free. Call me for a consultation and we can discuss which method is right for you to get you on your way to being hair free!

One of the Main Questions I Get Asked During Consultations

One of the main questions I get asked during consultations is, “Is hair removal permanent?” That’s not a cut and dry answer and there are many factors involved. Women have 3 times in our lives in which we grow hair; puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Remember when our moms told us, “Don’t shave because you’ll make the hair grow”? Well, that’s a fallacy because hair was going to grow regardless of whether we shaved or not. Shaving does not affect what happens at the root of the hair. It just makes it more blunt; therefore, feel more stubbly.

Our hormones were out of whack because so many changes were happening in our bodies, and hair growth was just one of the most obvious ones. With pregnancy, many women grow hair on their face and abdomen that they didn’t previously have. And the dreaded word of menopause not only brings on hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, but also hair on the face that was never a problem. The last thing any woman wants on her face is hair.

Before beginning hair removal treatments, I always advise my clients to speak to their physicians to make sure their hormones are in check. We can begin treatments at any time, but if your hormones are out of whack, then it’s like shoveling the sidewalk in the middle of a snowstorm. In other words, the root cause of the hair growth needs to be addressed in order to get the best possible result. I’ve done treatments on clients with PCOS and thyroid imbalances and although they’ve gotten good results, optimal results cannot be achieved if what’s causing the unwanted growth is not taken care of first. With transgender women who begin HRT, the success rates of their treatments increase tenfold. The testosterone that is causing the unwanted hair is blocked, and therefore they are able to achieve the desired results of being hair free.

Once hormonal imbalances are corrected, then either electrolysis or laser, or both, have the best possible chance of achieving the optimal results. About 2 years ago, I had a client who came to me with PCOS and had grown a beard as a result. Once she got her hormones in check, she began her laser treatments. After about 6 months, she had very little hair left. What was left was light colored, fine and thin so we used electrolysis to complete the clearing of the area. Now, she is hair free and feels better than ever. She was not only balanced on the inside, but her appearance now reflects that as well. There’s nothing better than seeing people looking and feeling their best!

Polyamory 101

If you would have told me when I was in graduate school that I was going to wind up working with polyamorous relationships as a specialty, I would have laughed in disbelief. I didn’t know much about polyamory back then, or even until the last year or two. They don’t exactly teach you in graduate school how to work with polyamory. I learned how to work with these clients in two ways: the first was trial by fire. They showed up on my couch and needed help. I don’t turn anyone away simply because their relationship structure differs from the societally programmed structure to which I was taught to apply my graduate school knowledge. For the most part, the same rules, tools, and theories apply. When they don’t, that’s when the second way of learning comes in: I let my clients teach me. They gave me books to read, websites to peruse, articles to research, etc. They were more than willing to answer my questions. They appreciated having a therapist who was not judgmental about their lifestyle, willing to admit that she didn’t know much about it, but eager to learn and ask questions in order to better help them.

Polyamory is defined as the “non-possessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously” (Franklin Veaux).  For those of us who have only ever really been exposed to monogamy, this can sound foreign, complicated and exotic. And it is certainly not for the faint of heart. Polyamory is based in the idea of compersion, which is defined as “the feeling of taking joy in the joy that others you love share among themselves, especially taking joy in the knowledge that your beloveds are expressing their love for one another” (Franklin Veaux). As a couples’ counselor, I see it like this: in order to achieve true compersion, you have to be capable of a level of emotional maturity that many human beings have never achieved. I wouldn’t call that a fault; I would call it a preference. Franklin Veaux, co-author of “More than Two” and a well-known polyamory expert says that “Polyamory doesn’t mean an inability to commit. We are often taught to view commitment through the lens of sexual exclusivity, but a more nuanced view of commitment to building lasting relationships that meet the needs of the people involved. If those needs don’t include monogamy, then commitment doesn’t have to be tied to exclusivity.” In order to do this, one has to let go of possessiveness, ownership, and for the most part jealousy. There can be no double standards, honesty is key, and transparency is a must. Some experts would say rules and boundaries are absolutely necessary, others would say not at all. I say each relationship is different, and you have to decide what’s right for you and your partner, often through trial and error. Seeking counseling to help you navigate that path is never a bad idea; I’ve helped several couples who decided to give polyamory a try and needed help figuring out what that looked like for them, and it’s never the same for any two couples. There is no shame in exploring something new, as long as it is mutually consensual and it enhances your relationship.

How to Grieve Correctly

Trauma and loss collided for many in the community as this episode of mass violence unleashing a wave of public emotions ranging from common emotions like anger and sadness; to feelings of numbness, which are often associated with shock and trauma. In the weeks that have followed the Pulse massacre, we have been continually reminded of the fragility of life and as a community, have entered into a collective process of grief.

Collective grief or mass grief is distinct because it stems from a shared circumstance, yet, the experience is completely unique and individualized for each person. As we learned of the 49 innocent lives taken from our community, the process of public mourning began. It quickly began taking the form of 24-hour TV coverage, blood donation lines that wrapped around blocks, the candlelight vigils, the public memorial services, the placement of rainbow flags throughout the community, monetary donations and hashtags spread through social media; all which fostered social connection among people who vitally needed it and helped move the community towards healing.

During collective grief process we experience the emotional and physical symptoms of grief without necessarily having shared a close personal relationship with the deceased. Regardless of our level of connection to the deceased, we are commanded by our hearts and the physical manifestations of grief to remain present and experience the pain associated with the loss in our community.  This process is further complicated because our natural human instinct to empathize and reach for connection also makes us hyperaware of our own mortality and the mortality of our loved ones. This hyperawareness, coupled with the violence surrounding the events of the pulse massacre and the news of other recent acts of violence has evoked a secondary traumatic response for many.

In the weeks since Pulse, I have heard many people expressing their struggle with the idea that that they are not in the right place in their grief process, questioning; what grief is, how they should go about grieving and frequently asking themselves, “Am I grieving correctly?” Then one day, I was reading through my social media feeds and came across a quote from Patton Oswalt, which I believe perfectly described the confusion, longing and loss experienced early in the grief process:

“102 days at the mercy of grief and loss feels like 102 years and you have shit to show for it. You will not be physically healthier. You will not feel ‘wiser.’ You will not have ‘closure.’ You will not have ‘perspective’ or ‘resilience’ or ‘a new sense of self.’ You WILL have solid knowledge of fear, exhaustion and a new appreciation for the randomness and horror of the universe.”

I think it is important for us to accept that grief is a very individualized and personal experience, which happens gradually and should not be hurried. In the wake of Pulse, we must have grace and accept that in order to heal we must be present in our emotions and be patient and kind with ourselves and each other.

Hiv Support

I would like to say that I became involved in HIV care services and advocacy because I was a concerned community member, but that is not the whole truth. The real story is that like most uninformed people, I was terrified of HIV. I was paranoid about contracting the virus (from situations I now know was impossible to contract it from) and would go for HIV testing more than was necessary. When I began volunteering for the GLBT Community Center on Mills Avenue, I learned about their volunteer based HIV counselor program. I was in school for mental health counseling and decided then and there I was going to get educated and overcome this fear. That decision changed my personal and professional life and I am so grateful I took that step from ignorance to knowledge.

I know that there are many others, both HIV positive and HIV negative individuals who are carrying around a great deal of misconceptions about HIV. Our schools fail us by not educating youth about the reality of HIV. It has become a passion of mine to help shed light on the dark corners of this issue. I’d like to talk about two initiatives I am most excited about.

In the summer of 2015, I was the Director of Clinical Services for the GLBT Center and running the HIV/STI/Hep C testing programs. I was alarmed by the number of young gay men (under 30) being diagnosed with HIV at The Center each and every month. There was no break. Every few days we were telling a person in his teens and early twenties that he was HIV positive. Many of these young men were scared. They weren’t out to parents, they didn’t have jobs or health insurance. They worried that no one could love them and they would be alone for the rest of their lives. It was heartbreaking and something needed to be done. I sat down with the mental health counselors at The Center and shared with them my idea of a 6-week support and educational group for young gay/bi men under the age of 30 recently diagnosed with HIV. They were on board and at that moment A.W.A.R.E was born. The acronym, created by Nicole Elinoff, means Achieving Wellness and Reaching Excellence. It perfectly exemplifies what A.W.A.R.E is and has grown to become. Impulse Group Orlando took A.W.A.R.E. under its wing and has been providing much needed support, such as advertising, free transportation to members who need a ride, and an amazing dinner for the participants at the end of each group. Now based out of Two Spirit Health Services, A.W.A.R.E will begin its 5th group on September 12th. This program has changed people’s lives by giving them the hope and knowledge they so desperately need to move forward after a HIV diagnosis. The group is free and a lot of fun. If you or someone you know would like to enroll in the September group, please email me (Lindsay) at aware@impulsegrp.org.

A.W.A.R.E. was definitely a “ah-ha” moment and I had another one like it when I was presenting about HIV to a group of mental health counseling students at Stetson University. At the end of the presentation they asked me where they could go to find all of the information I had presented in one place. I couldn’t answer that question because such a place didn’t exist. There wasn’t a clearing house of information about HIV for mental health clinicians that was specific to our local area. As a result of this problem, I decided to create a website called Red Ribbon Counseling (http://lindsaykincaide.wixsite.com/redribboncounseling) for my Capstone project that is a part of my master’s degree. The site features HIV facts, treatment guidelines, information about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and community referrals specifically directed towards mental health clinicians in East Central Florida. If every mental health professional assessed for HIV knowledge with their clients and shared information with them we would have a much better handle on the HIV epidemic. I hope this site empowers clinicians to become HIV advocates in their practices and daily lives.

What I have learned over the last couple of years is that you just never know when an experience is going to transform your life. For me, one of my greatest fears became one of my greatest passions. What about your fears? Take a look. You might be surprised what you find…….

 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness. The word used to make me cringe! As a counselor in training, everywhere I went and every book I opened wanted to tell me that I needed to be more mindful. But what the heck did that mean? Hot yoga? No thanks! Hours of meditation? I’d be lucky if I could get through 5 minutes. It felt like a bunch of academic types who didn’t know what it was like working two jobs, going to school, or living pay check to pay check. This doesn’t apply to my life, I thought. And it won’t to most of my clients. So I actively ignored it.

Little did I know, however, that the real principles behind mindfulness were sinking in without my awareness as a result of my training at Stetson University. I was tolerating stress better. I was more in-tuned with my body. I was happier and healthier. So what was I doing differently?

Firstly, I was exercising. I had made a commitment in the spring of 2014 to begin a consistent exercise routine. I hadn’t had much success with gyms so I decided to try something different. I joined a boot camp where I could go for 30 minutes group sessions. I felt that 30 minutes was something I could fit into my hectic schedule and that my peers and coach would challenge me to maximize my work out. I was right. Not only was I able to stay committed to weekly exercise but for the first time I actually enjoyed working out. I didn’t lose a bunch of weight but after the very first workout I noticed something interesting – I was less stressed and my mind felt more clear. The more I continued to work out the less stressed I felt. Now, when I’m having a tough week, I know that I have that time to sweat off the stress. No, it doesn’t have to be hot yoga. Take a walk around the block. Stroll around the mall. Exercise triggers neurotransmitters, such as endorphins and serotonin, which are associated with feelings of happiness and well being. It’s not just your heart and lungs that are impacted by exercise, it’s your mind as well.

I learned to breathe. Yes, I’ve been breathing for 31 years, but now I am aware of how breathing with intention can lower physical arousal in my body. Air is a life source and when we focus on our breathing amazing things happen – our heart beat slows, tension begins to subside, and we feel calmer. It’s simple and you can literally do it anywhere: the office, your car, a doctor’s waiting room, in bed, on the couch. Sit comfortably with your feet on the ground. Place your hands on your lap or beside you. Close your eyes. Breathe in for 5 counts, hold the breathe for 5 counts, and slowly exhale for 5 counts. Some will say to breathe in, hold, and exhale for longer than 5 counts, but personally I’ve never had much success with that. Do what works for you. Make it a practice to breath intentionally when you are stressed, anxious, or feeling emotionally aroused. Once you get in the habit it will feel like having a therapist in your pocket.

I started cooking dinner and eating with my partner (without the TV on!) A few months ago, my partner and I began cooking a healthy meal three times a week and would sit down at the table to eat together. The TV is off and the phones are put away. This one-on-one time has enhanced our relationship and lowered our collective stress as a couple. We now have the opportunity to talk out our daily stresses and when we do the conversation soon gravitates to our hopes for the future. There are a few ways you can do this without the process of cooking become another stressor. If it works for your budget, meal delivery programs, such as Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, deliver everything you need right to your door. On the weekend, you can plan out a couple of meals and go grocery shopping so the items are in your fridge and ready to go. This works wonders for families as well. You’ll find yourself feeling more connected and less prone to arguments.

I cut out the black and white thinking. I was not either completely perfect or a total failure. Life was no longer absolutely wonderful or completely horrible. Living in the gray space freed me from the prison of absolutist thinking. In the gray space there is nothing but endless possibility. I could mess up and still be an amazing student and employee. I could be frustrated with my community and also in awe of how far we have come. Struggle became an opportunity for growth and disappointments transformed into new dreams. Black and white thinking is toxic and it makes us miserable. Increasing mindfulness enables us to see these unhelpful thinking styles, maybe for the first time. We can then decide if we are going to do something about them. The first step, of course, is awareness.
So much to my surprise, I can now say that I am on the mindfulness bandwagon. It all changed for me when I began to identify and adjust the black and white thinking. There is no right or wrong way to “do mindfulness.” If you are not a tea-drinking yoga guy or gal, that’s ok. Mindfulness isn’t about gym memberships or incense or expensive stuff. It’s about connecting to our own minds and bodies. It’s about realizing that what we are looking for to make our lives happier, healthier, and more peaceful has been inside of us all along.

Your Relationship With Your Depression

I often ask people what their relationship is with their depression and they usually look at me like my head is on fire. I explain that, when my depression was at its worst, I looked at it like a comfortable old slipper. If I got into an argument with my boyfriend at the time, I would throw my hands in the air, retire to my bedroom, dim all the lights, put The Cure’s “Disintegration” on repeat, and lay in bed, possibly for a whole weekend which “freed” me from having to deal with his nonsense. If I had a project due for school, forget about it. I now had a valid excuse to not have to go out to parties and be social. I looked at my depression like a long, lost friend coming into town for the night. You know shenanigans will ensue. It will be fun while it lasts, but there will be hell to pay later with the consequences.

At some point, though, I realized that I wanted to have a good relationship. I wanted to have friends and enjoy my time with them. I wanted to do well in school and get my degree. My depression was actually robbing me of all those things I claimed to want. That’s when I learned that I had to change my relationship status with my depression from “It’s Complicated” to “Divorced.

Whether you realize it or not, you have an actual relationship with your depression. Is it part of your identity? Are you comfortable with it? In love with it? If so, that’s a huge part of the problem.

I used to look at it as an ugly head that popped out of my shoulder saying things like “You’ll never be good enough,” “You can’t do that,” etc. The ugly head is still there but now it more comes out of the ground and I stifle somewhat effortlessly with my foot. Depression usually doesn’t go away or get “cured.” Mine hasn’t. But instead of EMBRACING it, I MANAGE it.

You have to be very careful with how you identify with your diagnoses. I talk to a lot of people who feel like it’s just their burden to carry and it’s never going away. If that’s your perspective, then that will be your reality.

Getting to a point where you are managing it is possible, but not easy. It requires work. A lot of people don’t want to do that work and get stuck in their diagnosis. They feel like it will never get better. Two things are required from the beginning to get through it: Hope and Belief.  You have to allow yourself to hope to get better and then believe that you can.

My journey started with changing my “relationship status,” working diligently on positive thinking and changing my mindset. I used to be a very pessimistic person and considered the glass “half empty.” I would have told you that I was just being realistic, but now I am optimistic. Your “reality” is what you choose to FOCUS on.

Hope this helps!

Things to Talk About Before Marriage

Marriage is such an exciting time in a couples’ life. There are so many decisions and plans to be made that often couples completely bypass some of the more important conversations that should be had before they decide to dedicate their lives to one another. I’m not talking about where they will live or with whose family they will spend the holidays. I’m talking about the stuff that has a serious impact on the rest of a couples’ life together.

For starters, do you both want children? If yes, great. If no, great. As long as you’re agreed. If you’re undecided, that’s fine too, as long as you’re both open to the other person’s influence. If, however, one of you is firmly opposed to having children, and the other has dreamed of having children their whole life, this is a core issue that must be resolved prior to engaging in a lifelong commitment. If you stay together, one of you will wind up giving up something that matters to them. It is entirely possible that either way, the person who relented will grow accustomed to the situation and be perfectly fine, even happy. It’s equally likely that they will instead become resentful, and harbor that resentment until it grows into contempt. If you make the decision to give up something that is important to you, or to take on something you never wanted, make sure you thoroughly understand your motives and that you are not engaging in quid pro quo (agreeing to do something for them in return for them doing something for you- this is also unhealthy.) How you will raise children is a big topic too, but that in itself is a whole blog.

Finances are another major topic. I worked in finance for five years before transitioning to therapy full-time, and I saw plenty of couples both in that job and this one who struggled with the language of money. Some people are great with money, some aren’t. Most couples are comprised of one of each type of person. Money is a tough subject, but it is something that must be discussed in any successful relationship. One of the keys to successful relationships is delegation. When combined with another one of the keys, communication, delegation of responsibilities within a couple based upon the individual strengths of each partner contributes to the success of that couple. Talk about money openly and admit when one of you is more responsible with it than the other. Do this before you’re married, not after. Establish good habits and patterns early and they will serve you well.

I think one of the reasons that society balks at people who get married so soon after meeting is that it is hard to believe that people who literally just met could have possibly had all of the important conversations that need to be had prior to legally binding themselves to one another. Maybe they have a point. On the other hand, I’ve seen couples who were together for years before they got married who still didn’t have those conversations, and couples who were together for mere weeks before they got married who did. I think it’s more about quality than quantity. You can spend years with someone and barely say a word that means anything at all, or days with someone and say thousands of words that mean the world. Moral of the story: make what you do say count.

 

 

 

What Your Communication Says About You

I’ve often heard the comment, “You train people how to treat you.” I never understood it until the last few years. If you find that people quit talking to you for reasons they never explained, don’t respond to your texts, or that you get frustrated with others easily, there might be a very good reason for that.

YOU might be doing something wrong.

There are a few things that have popped up in therapy lately that have stuck with me: people who complain a lot, those who take on others’ emotions, and people who talk negatively about others often. No one ever seems to realize that they’re doing it, until it’s too late.

You might not notice that you complain a lot, but think about it. What’s your world view? Is the glass half full or half empty? If, for example, your boss notices that you complain about your relationship, your friendships, family, landlord, vet, local grocery store, or whatever, s/he can be pretty sure that you complain about your work. Naturally, this produces a lack of trust and effects your work environment in a negative way.

In addition, there’s a difference between venting and complaining. Sometimes someone just needs to get something out of their system and that’s fine as long as it’s someone with whom they’re close. However, if the person is “venting” under the guise of looking for a solution but then gives you more reasons as to why your suggestions won’t work, that’s complaining. The other person becomes wary and tired of this and no longer wants to hear it. Often, people don’t pick up on that cue and end up losing a friend or potential partner.

People who take on others’ emotions are truly in trouble. Pretty much all day, every day, the average person is surrounded by what they perceive to be “stupid,” “frustrating,” “lacking awareness” etc. You are always going to be around people like this and the best thing you can do is be careful not to absorb it, engage in it, or become party to it. You never know what another person’s story is. They might be functioning the best they can. They might have completely different life experiences than you do. You can’t place the expectations and standards you have for yourself on others.

As for those who never have a nice thing to say about anyone, my mom had an old rule of thumb that I think makes a lot of sense:  “Don’t ever write or say anything about another person that you wouldn’t mind that person reading or saying.” Everyone has “that friend” that talks badly about everyone he or she knows. You can assume that person speaks badly of you. Again, that creates a lack of trust. My mom always had 2 other sayings that I try to live by: “Do unto others as you would have done to you” and “Think before you speak.” All in all, I have to say my mom was right.

Hope this helps!

What Your Communication Says About You

I’ve often heard the comment, “You train people how to treat you.” I never understood it until the last few years. If you find that people quit talking to you for reasons they never explained, don’t respond to your texts, or that you get frustrated with others easily, there might be a very good reason for that.

YOU might be doing something wrong.

There are a few things that have popped up in therapy lately that have stuck with me: people who complain a lot, those who take on others’ emotions, and people who talk negatively about others often. No one ever seems to realize that they’re doing it, until it’s too late.

You might not notice that you complain a lot, but think about it. What’s your world view? Is the glass half full or half empty? If, for example, your boss notices that you complain about your relationship, your friendships, family, landlord, vet, local grocery store, or whatever, s/he can be pretty sure that you complain about your work. Naturally, this produces a lack of trust and effects your work environment in a negative way.

In addition, there’s a difference between venting and complaining. Sometimes someone just needs to get something out of their system and that’s fine as long as it’s someone with whom they’re close. However, if the person is “venting” under the guise of looking for a solution but then gives you more reasons as to why your suggestions won’t work, that’s complaining. The other person becomes wary and tired of this and no longer wants to hear it. Often, people don’t pick up on that cue and end up losing a friend or potential partner.

People who take on others’ emotions are truly in trouble. Pretty much all day, every day, the average person is surrounded by what they perceive to be “stupid,” “frustrating,” “lacking awareness” etc. You are always going to be around people like this and the best thing you can do is be careful not to absorb it, engage in it, or become party to it. You never know what another person’s story is. They might be functioning the best they can. They might have completely different life experiences than you do. You can’t place the expectations and standards you have for yourself on others.

As for those who never have a nice thing to say about anyone, my mom had an old rule of thumb that I think makes a lot of sense:  “Don’t ever write or say anything about another person that you wouldn’t mind that person reading or saying.” Everyone has “that friend” that talks badly about everyone he or she knows. You can assume that person speaks badly of you. Again, that creates a lack of trust. My mom always had 2 other sayings that I try to live by: “Do unto others as you would have done to you” and “Think before you speak.” All in all, I have to say my mom was right.

Hope this helps!