COVID-19 Update

We remain open for all of current clients and welcome incoming clients that would like to schedule an intake appointment. Our appointments are virtual at this time, per the CDC recommendations. We will resume in-office appointments once we are able to, and you are welcome to transition into an in-office visit at that time. If you have insurance questions regarding telehealth, please give us a call, email, or text and we would be happy to look into your benefits; most major insurers are covering telehealth services as the pandemic continues.

Some of our incoming clients are interested in working through anxiety, sadness, and concerns about the personal and global impact of the pandemic. Others are seeking support in dealing with needs that were pre-exisiting. We are here to help support anyone seeking services, regardless of insurance status and needs. We truly believe we are all in this together and want to support the local and national efforts to work as a community. Please reach out if we can be of help and/or connect you to additional resources. We strive to respond to all inquiries as quickly as possible.

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melissa: both/and

Up, down, right, left. Things have gotten confusing lately. On the one hand, we’ve got amazing medical advances headed our way. On the other hand, we’ve got some challenges to accessing them and some baffling ‘variant’ conversations to top off our COVID musings lately. Forget what day or week it is (also often confusing and disorienting). What life is it?

It’s strange, confusing, and disorienting to be holding so many emotions and thoughts at the same time. If we felt like we had COVID fatigue before…this is both next level COVID fatigue…and then we mixed in hope, gratitude and excitement. The concept of ‘both/and’ has never been more real. This life is both deeply unsettling and very hopeful.

‘Both/and’ is a therapeutic concept that demonstrates a human’s ability to holding two opposing thoughts and feelings at the same time, also known as ‘dialectics.’ This concept was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the 1990s. Of all the concepts one learns as a therapist, ‘both/and’ has been one of the concepts that struck me as one of the most relatable, factual, as well as a way to balance out oppositional feelings and emotions to reduce some internal distress.

This pandemic is both extremely taxing in a variety of ways, and also has illustrated the importance of connection and not taking for granted basic freedoms that we have been afforded over time. I’m both saddened to not hug family members, and grateful that I can call them via FaceTime for virtual hugs. I’m both exhausted from constantly taking in a lot of news and media, and also thankful I live in a time when I can easily access this information. I both miss my old pre-COVID life, and also am grateful that I don’t spend very much time in my car these days (driving is not, in fact, my favorite). I’m both not enjoying being indoors so much during a Chicago winter, and also laughing that I met my family outdoors in the middle of January to have milkshakes. The ‘both/and’ list is endless, more so than ever before in life.

If COVID has taught us anything (and I suspect it has taught us a lot), it’s that we live in complicated times with complex emotions, and that we can hold of all of these feelings and thoughts at once. Things are rarely all one way. We are doing about the best we can, and that’s enough. We are both suffering and feeling hopeful. ‘Both/and’ brings some sense of peace, I think, simply because it allows us to feel all the feelings, freely, knowing that in our shared experience we are all feeling both sadness and anticipation.

“Be full of sorrow, that you may become hill of joy; weep, that you may break into laughter.” -Rumi

Here and here are some additional readings if you’d like to read more about the concept of ‘both/and.’

Copyright © 2021 Melissa A. Frey, LCSW. All rights reserved.

mindful moment

Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall
Escape.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.

-Rumi

melissa: time

Somehow, we are two weeks into this year…but it feels as though it’s been a full year within a year. I find myself saying Happy New Year, but thinking, “Wasn’t that months ago?” Alas, it was not. While 2020 was the year of the unknowns (among many other things), I think 2021 may be the year of waiting. If you find yourself unaware of the day, time, and month some days, you’re in good company. And certainly if you find yourself vacillating between hope and despair, you’re in good company as well.

I find myself often thinking of the phrase by Art Buchwald, “Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.” This is, indeed, the time we have. It seems we are all trying to “make the best of the worst.” Practicing “boring self care” seems more important than ever. So, we go outside, even if it’s cold. We remember to breathe, because slowing down our breathing helps us remain calm. We take showers, put on our clean ‘daytime pajamas,’ and practice boring and delightful self care.

Take care of you, reader. And if you want to listen to an interesting concept of how Twitter can loosely predict how the general public is doing, you can have a listen here. I certainly laughed out loud quite a bit, and found myself comforted in knowing, “yep, we are all here together in this strange space and time.”

We are living history as it unfolds.

 

Copyright © 2021 Melissa A. Frey, LCSW. All rights reserved.

 

all of us: with gratitude

As we close out a very strange, difficult, and long year, our office is reflecting on our year of telehealth. We want to thank all of our clients, many of whom we haven’t yet met in person, for sharing in the year with us.

One day in March, we temporarily closed our physical office doors, and opened up our computers to connect with our clients. While we can’t wait to open those physical office doors again, we have loved the opportunity to continue to work virtually and meet so many of you. What a delight it is to see your pets, children, spouses, homes, porches, patios, balconies, and/or the interior of your car. We’ve hung out in our home offices while you’ve taken walks, gone for drives, and gotten your much needed coffee. We’ve had debates over which coffee is best when you “literally can’t” and aren’t sure how much coffee it will take to get going on a given day (I’m still team Starbucks, by the way).

We’ve shared a lot of laughs over the year, in spite of all of the challenges, grief and sorrow. The growing number of La Croix cans and coffee mugs on our desks is usually a source of a good laugh, as well as what you’ve deemed as your work wear for those of you who work from home (team joggers). 

And of course, between the light hearted moments of connection, we’ve hung out in some really tough emotional places together. Many of our clients often ask how we are faring, these days. We are happy to report that while everyone has tough days, even us, working as therapists during a global crisis is a true source of purpose, meaning, and honor. Work, for all of us, is a wonderful anchor, and we don’t take it lightly nor for granted that we have been able to continue to do our work in a very real way, despite the technology changes. We are filled to the brim with gratitude for each and every one of our clients who has been on the journey with us.

Cheers to 2021: may it be filled with laughs, hope, and light, in the midst of the dark. Even though we don’t know exactly what the year will bring, consider us fully ready to embrace it and keep journeying on down the road with all of you.

With gratitude,

all of us at the (virtual) office

 

 

Copyright © 2020 Melissa A. Frey, LCSW.  All rights reserved.

melissa: art in the time of covid

Like many people, I surround myself with a lot of forms of art lately. Music, literature, poetry, art work, and other forms of art enable us to connect to significant collective experiences, such as a pandemic, despite our literal distance. There are some great articles discussing why art means so much to us right now; you will find links to some of those articles below, as well as how to get connected to art virtually.

You’ll find the Mindful Moment posts of 2020 have gotten a bit longer, as poems seem to often reflect our current experience a bit more accurately than quotes, lately. And of course, you can find me, listening to Folklore on repeat these days…

Virtual art museum tour lists:

Travel and Leisure link of virtual museum tours

TimeOut link of virtual museum tours

How we connect through art during difficult times:

Why We Needs Art in Times of Crisis

Even During COVID, Art Brings Us Closer Together

Art in the Time of Crisis

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” -Thomas Merton

 

 

Copyright © 2020 Melissa A. Frey, LCSW. All rights reserved.

mindful moment

Joy and Sorrow

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was often times filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Khalil Gibran

melissa: exhaustion and hope

Well, here we are again. Another day in paradise, as I like to say, as many of you know from our sessions.

As we face another suggestion of “sheltering in place,” life is again changing for some of us. For others, life is barely changing at all. No matter where you fall in the trajectory of change- whether your life is changing a lot or very little- the common theme this week is exhaustion.

I see you. I know you are exhausted, and weary. You are tired of picking out meals, take out, or what to get from the fridge. Things seem as mundane as ever as you take your garbage and recycling bins to the curb, marking the passing of another week. You’re wondering how many times you’ve run the dishwasher lately (why is it always full?). You wake up, still tired, even though you slept. Never not tired, as my friend and I often laugh about when checking in with one another via text and phone.

There’s some hope on this horizon, though, readers. As news starts to trickle in about vaccinations, we are beginning to see a light. No one knows how far down the tunnel it is, but I see that hopeful light, and I bet you do too. The mixture of exhaustion and hope is new. We start to pour ourselves a glass of optimism, and sip it slowly, savoring the promise of a new dawn and new day.

You’ve got this. We’ve got this. As always, stay strong. I’m sheltering with you, just as you are with me. We’ve weathered nine months already; let yourself be both exhausted and hopeful. At the very least, that’s shiny and new.

 

 

Copyright © 2020 Melissa A. Frey, LCSW. All rights reserved.