Unintended Consequences | Blog | Glen Alex | Clinical Social Work Therapist LCSW | Author | Glen Alex Show Host | Las Vegas, Nevada

Unintended Consequences

I didn’t mean for that to happen. It wasn’t my intention for…

Have you or anyone you know ever utter these words? Probably. Most of us don’t actually weigh the possible outcomes when we make decisions. We only see what we want, which comes at a cost. But alas, what price?

Every choice yields positive, negative, or neutral consequences. Every choice. Oh, and a yes to one thing is a no to another. It’s just a matter of being clear about the potential results and accepting your responsibility in bringing them about. Because if you only focus on what you want or have to have, then you leave the door wide open for yourself and others to be harmed. And I wonder if you took the time to weigh the probabilities, would you make that decision anyway?

This is so true for the current global health crisis. Yes, the pandemic required an immediate and effective response from leaders. Hence the world shutdown with shelter in place (SIP), business closures, and social distancing. Many believe that these measures have reduced exposure, slowing down the rate of new infections and the number of deaths.

After about two months of the shutdown and the declining numbers, many people are still afraid of catching a virus that most will recover from, about 98% of active cases are mild and don’t require hospitalization according to worldometers.info/coronavirus. And many rightfully question the continued social closures, never mind how “essential” businesses are selected. Some governments don’t even have a concrete plan for reopening.

My question is, what about the unintended consequences of the ongoing shutdown?

Domestic Violence

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a big problem. IPV includes physical violence, sexual assault, mental and emotional abuse, and stalking. And according to the CDC, current or former male partners kill nearly half of all women murdered. For the domestic violence survivors, mental health, heart, digestive, muscular, and nervous system disorders can affect them for years.

With SIP, there is no escape. Victims cannot leave home to seek shelter, despite what Nevada’s Governor says, and are more vulnerable. Isolation is a major enabler of domestic violence. Mandatory reporters—medical providers, teachers, therapists are removed with SIP because they cannot see the bruises or get a report from those abused or provide resources for help. Increasing stress, unemployment, and sudden shifts in daily routines are also contributing factors.

Something else to consider. Harvard University Medical School trauma expert, Judith Lewis Herman, found that domestic abusers use similar methods to kidnappers to control hostages and repressive regimes use to break the will of political prisoners to control their partners and children. Andrew Campbell reported that new cases in the United States involve the abusers not allowing their partners wash their hands, using the threat of contracting COVID as another means of control.

Brazil reported a 40-50% increase in reports. France reported a spike of 30%. In the UK, domestic murders of women and children have doubled. In the United States, Houston police received 300 more domestic violence calls, 517 more in Charlotte, and nearly 200 more in Phoenix. Other U.S. cities that reported increased domestic violence calls include Boston, Milwaukee, Seattle, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Utah County, Fresno County, Montgomery County, East Baton Rouge Parish, Buffalo, Sparks, Portland, Nassau County, Cherokee County, and Charleston, South Carolina.

Child Abuse

Child abuse is unfortunately tied to Intimate Partner Violence. About 30-60% of children who live in IPV homes are abused and/or neglected themselves, according to preventchildabuse.org. DoSomething.org reported that 68% of the abuse is perpetrated by family members and more than 70% of the children who die as a result of abuse and neglect are younger than 3 years of age.

Not only do these children experience violence first-hand, they may also witness one parent, usually mom, be victimized. The long term effects of the IPV environment involves psychological, cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral issues. And many of those abused as children are linked with future criminal activity.

Authorities are concerned that the usual modes of reports to the police and child protective services are disrupted. Because schools and social outlets are shutdown, children are not seen by teachers, medical providers, other mandatory reporters, or even extended family. The apprehensive expectation is that when society reopens the number of new reports will be exponentially higher than the norm.

Suicide

There was a loneliness problem in the United States before the pandemic. In the age of massive technological connection via social media, more and more people experience disconnection and are lonely. That issue has worsened because of the forced social isolation from the national shutdown.

“We’ve seen several suicides that we can directly attribute to the isolation from not being able to get out and move about and do the things that they normally do. They get depressed,”

–Bobby Parks Evans, Jr., Greenville, SC County Coroner.

Vikram Thakura and Anu Jain wrote, “The looming economic crisis may create panic, mass unemployment, poverty and homelessness will possibly surge the suicide risk or drive an increase in the attempt to suicide rates in such patients. US already claimed a vast increase in unemployment (4.6 million) during coronavirus emergency and speculated that lockdown will cause more deaths than COVID-19 itself amid the recession. This uncertainty of time for isolation, not only demoralize but also make people feel worthless, hopeless about present and future.”

Increased domestic violence, child abuse, and suicide are just a few of the unintended consequences of the shutdown. Lack of access to health care also comes to mind. Leaders must take them all into consideration. Reopening society will require a conscientious balancing act, weighted by keeping those most vulnerable safe from this viral scourge while allowing the healthiest to live and help those in need.

Glen Alex, LCSW, Author of Living In Total Health, Health Skills Coach, Speaker

Need assistance coping with boundaries, stress, relationships, or recovering from a setback?

Book your complimentary Discovery Call now: www.glenalex.as.me/schedule.php

The Day The Hour | Blog | Glen Alex | Clinical Social Work Therapist LCSW | Author | Glen Alex Show Host | Las Vegas, Nevada

The Day. The Hour.

We don’t know the day nor the hour of transition. The exact moment of death is beyond human awareness. Until the moment arrives. Up to that point, however, it is imperative we plan ahead to unburden family. You may be thinking that only the elderly or infirm should do so.

You would be wrong. Young and healthy people die too. I know a few individuals younger than 60 who died from cardiac arrest, aneurysm, suicide, accidents, and unnatural causes. A sad case in point is the tragic helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year old daughter Gianna, and 7 other people in January. Thus, advanced directives are crucial for all adults.

Providing loved ones with clear direction about health care choices, end of life issues, and the division of assets is the healthy thing to do. No, it does not signal giving up. Instead, an advanced directive will definitely minimize the anguish of making decisions that directly impact another person’s lifeline and vitality. You may be thinking this is a morbid subject.

You would be wrong again. Advanced directives are not about dying. They are about living. About the carrying out of your life wishes when you can no longer speak for yourself. Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney are tools that provide for living the last moments of life well, on your terms.

Is there a higher form of health than that? I’m not sure there is. Facing mortality and being clear about how you want your life to end indicate strength, mental health, emotional health, and spiritual health, and are admirable. Not only does establishing an advanced directive indicate realism about the finite time we have on earth, it’s also about loving those charged with making critical decisions so much that you choose to lessen their fears, sadness, and hesitations when it’s time to do the best thing for you.

Prepare now to transition your way before the day, the hour arrives.

Printable Advanced Directives by state:
https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/financial-legal/free-printable-advance-directives/

We All Can Get Along | Blog | Glen Alex | Clinical Social Work Therapist LCSW | Author | Glen Alex Show Host | Las Vegas, Nevada

We All Can Get Along

I am compelled to share this. If you are politically biased or have issues with death, then please don’t read any further.

In this climate of division and open prejudice, I am happy to share a loving experience amongst diverse peoples.

My sister Vern, the matriarch of my immediate family since my mother’s transition in 2010, raved about the Converse, TX Police Department. You see, Vern flew to Converse on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 to care for our brother Ray because he had been really ill. When she arrived that night, he didn’t answer the door bell nor his home or cell phone.

Through a series of family calls and Ray’s non-response, I decided a Wellness Check was in order. However, I paused at that decision because of the rash of recently reported police shootings of black people, especially in their own homes. This is a crazy consideration in “the land of the free”. Yet I, a clinical social worker with a profound understanding of human nature, a champion of the Human Spirit, and humanitarian was afraid about the trend in police-black person interaction. This should not be. And anyone who does not experience this pause is privileged.

Still, I made the call because Ray’s condition and Vern being stranded in an unfamiliar environment at night were far more important than dogma. The intake person was compassionate and patient with me as I fought through tears to explain the situation. She said police would be dispatched immediately and would call me with an update.

I was struck by the questions the intake person did not ask. She did not ask for my brother’s name or description nor my sister’s name or description. She only asked for the address and the circumstances. So the police were dispatched to check on, not a race or stereotype, rather a person in possible distress.

An eternity passed. It seemed like hours since I spoke with anyone. Finally, Vern called me. My brother’s neighbors were kind enough to take her in. One allowed Vern to use their phone to call her son and me. Later, another neighbor allowed my sister to charge her phone in their home while the police completed their work.

The police gained entry into Ray’s home and found him. Because of policy, they didn’t allow Vern inside. However, the police drove her to the nearest hotel, offered to carry her bags to her room, and were compassionate with me during the follow up call from an officer. More than that, they returned to Ray’s home afterward to secure the door they had to bust to gain entry.

Who does that? And why don’t we hear more about the police officers who actually protect and serve? Yes, there are bad seeds in police departments, as there are in all industries. And please believe that I’ve had my negative experiences with police. My stance is that police training needs to involve more than profiling and shooting. Training needs to include the meaning of service and the dismissal of psychologically unfit candidates.

How about we as a nation forego isms and focus on and honor what binds us? Yes Rodney, we all can get along. Just be human.

Perspective | Blog | Glen Alex | Clinical Social Work Therapist LCSW | Author | Glen Alex Show Host | Las Vegas, Nevada

Perspective

We narrow-minded and egocentric humans believe that only the old and infirm die.

Wrong we are.

As sad as the loss of a parent or elderly person is, the truth is that anyone can die at any time. Yes, the old and infirm do die…my mother, father, sister-in-law, cousin, and 2 brothers just in the last 10 years.

Yet the young also leave sooner than we think they should, sooner than we are ready for them to. I am reminded of this because of the sudden death of Kobe and his daughter Gianna. He was 41, she 13. Both healthy.

Life is precious.

There is no room for ego-based drama. No time for foolishness. No space for abuse or disrespect. Stop squandering the gift of breath with B.S.

Do take advantage of opportunities to become the best version of yourself, to share your innate gifts, to express authentic love.

The old and infirm are not the only ones who die. Live your life to the fullest before it’s your time.

Spreading Light | Blog | Glen Alex | Clinical Social Work Therapist LCSW | Author | Glen Alex Show Host | Las Vegas, Nevada

Spreading Light

We are facing some pretty stressful times. Locally, socially, and globally events filled with hate and isms occur far too much. So this is a call to the Keepers of the Light, the wellthy ones, to spread love and joy and healing on individual levels so collectively we can overwhelm the darkness. The daily tasks of keeping the light include…

1. Smiling

2. Making eye contact

3. Acts of kindness

¨ Holding a door open (within social distancing guidelines)
¨ Saying Thank you
¨ Saying Please
¨ Saying You’re welcome
¨ Being honest

4. Behaving with integrity

5. Seeking to understand the opposition

6. Seeing the person rather than skin color, culture, or religion

7. Managing self for the greater good

We have the power. We have the love. We have the light. We have the responsibility.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We may not have the power to create the world we want immediately, but we can all start working on the long term today.”

—Mark Zuckerberg, Cofounder and CEO of Facebook

Fear Not So Much | Blog | Glen Alex | Clinical Social Work Therapist LCSW | Author | Glen Alex Show Host | Las Vegas, Nevada

Fear Not [So Much]

Fear is a gift. Yes, it is a present for you, albeit unwrapped and bowless. Such accessories are unnecessary, however, when the gift is life-saving. Fear saves lives. Rational fear, that is.

Emotional Intelligence 101: emotions are messengers. There is important “data that resides below consciousness…carried by way of emotions, the messenger that delivers the information about a situation.The emotion wants our attention and points to an issue that needs to be acknowledged and/or addressed.” Living In Total Health

Fear is the human alarm system. We are made with this internal alert when harm or danger are imminent. Without it, our ancestors would not have survived dinosaurs or natural disasters. When we are at risk, fear flares. It should. It is normal. Such risks include threats of bodily harm and death. The experience of fearing the unknown is also normal. Rational.

However, being afraid of non-threats to life and limb is irrational. Skin color, gender identification, and economic status are just a few of the unreasonable fears we voluntarily evoke. The phrase ‘making a mountain out of molehill’ comes to mind. We conjure up this powerful emotion needlessly, desensitizing ourselves to its actual purpose.

The function of fear is to alert us when an imminent attack is near. Fear ushers physiological resources to essential body functions which heighten senses and energize us to act. In the face of fear, we must decide how to respond to the threat.

Your choices in the face of danger are fight, flee, or freeze. Do you stand your ground in effort to protect yourself, family, property? Is it safer to run away? Or does overwhelm paralyze and stop you in your tracks. Interestingly, the body responds the same way to rational and irrational fear. The consequences, however, are divergent.

I hope you can see the difference between the two. Rational fear is an innate response designed to protect you from harm, to generate decisions and actions that protect you from being hurt; the outcome is appropriate. On the other hand, irrational fear is a figment of your imagination. There is no imminent threat to body, limb, property, family. This figment is all about a very distant negative possibility, i.e. your past or what if? Irrational fear results in undue harm to self or others, possibly criminal and immoral behavior.

Politicians profit from irrational fear. Manipulators profit from irrational fear. Scammers profit from irrational fear. Society suffers from irrational fear. Humanity loses.

Instead of reacting to any fear with a knee-jerk reaction, choices and actions solely designed to remove the fear and not address the underlying problem, stop. Assess the situation with the critical mind you were blessed with. Is it real? Is it a threat in this moment in time? Can I die? Will loved ones be harmed? Then ask yourself what you can control. We always have control of our choices.

If your assessment of the situation is negative regarding threats to life and limb, breathe and focus on what you can control. Sometimes the available options are not optimal. Still, you have control over what you choose. The basic issue with irrational fear is feeling out of control. Yet you do have control over which available option you choose.

Imposing your irrational fears on others by choosing to spew hate and stereotypes is inappropriate and wrong. No one is responsible for how you respond to anything. You are. So again, assess the situation. If the fear messages imminent danger, then respond with the fight, flight, or freezing options—allow your intuition to guide you.

If your fear is irrational, then please breathe and focus on the present moment to recognize that you are not in imminent danger of harm or death. And fear not so much.

03-08-2020-matters-of-health

Matters of Health

My favorite part of flying is take off. Shooting into the atmosphere at an angle hundreds of miles per hour is somehow both anxiety-provoking and awe-inspiring. Mere mortals have created a way to journey across the sky in a metal bird, presenting a live paradox. A paradox is a condition that involves two contradictory outcomes that intuitively cannot exist at the same time. Yet both are simultaneously true. An amazing opportunity for ​growth.

In this realm of duality, most humans stick to one pole—black or white, big or little, on or off. And some are unwilling to experience the gray, the in-between, even though that is where the meat of life really is.

Polarization involves do’s and don’ts that can provide much needed direction for living. ​The consequences seem clear, tangible and to have a degree of support for anyone in need of that kind of guidance. Then there is the gray. That space where clarity is contextual and sometimes perceptual. What to do or don’t do is not absolute and both have equitable consequences. One choice does not clearly outweigh the other. Damned if you do. Damned if ​you don’t.

Navigating self between a rock and a hard place requires skill, presence, and living in paradox. For, in that ​unforgiving space is forgiveness. The power and strength of Love is ever present in the seemingly stark gap between what is and what is not. Those most effective a high octane jobs live in paradox. Soldiers, first responders, and trauma doctors and nurses are trained to endure high levels of stress while maintaining emotional equilibrium, enabling them to process information and make decisions at a much higher level than feelings and ego gratification. They successfully maneuver through the paradox of stress and presence to achieve outcomes for the greater good.

Perhaps that’s why I enjoy take off so much. It requires me to exist in the emotional commotion of fear and find peace within it, to traverse the paradox and open to profundity of the Human experience.

Glen Alex, LCSW, Author, Speaker, Coach, The Glen Alex Show