April Morris, LCSW, provides outpatient therapy for adolescents and adults age 16 and over. She uses a multi-faceted trauma-informed therapy approach including a variety of therapy techniques. She enjoys working with clients from all walks of life, and is honored to join them on their mental health journey and help them build skills to adapt to life challenges.
Host Tim Unsinn:
Welcome to Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services, an outpatient behavioral health clinic located in Minot, Bismarck, and Fargo, North Dakota. In this podcast, I will talk with our experts about understanding and nurturing our mental health and wellness. I'm your host, Tim Unsinn. Join me each episode as we explore the intricacies of our minds, decrease the stigma of mental illness, learn practical tips for managing our mental health and wellbeing, and recognize when it's time to ask for help. Join me now to mind your mind. Welcome to this episode of Mind Your Mind. Our guest is April Morris. April is an outpatient therapist in Fargo and provides therapy for those over 16, primarily adults. April, it is great to have you on Mind Your Mind.
Thank you for having me.
Host Tim Unsinn:
Our topic is how to support someone diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers. However, before we get to the topic, there's a question I ask all guests on Mind your Mind. Why do you do what you do?
I think it's always hard to answer this question because there's a lot of reasons why I do what I do, but I do love to teach. I like to teach new skills and help people figure out how to overcome obstacles. And I'm always learning. I'm learning things from other people and it's really humbling and rewarding to be part of somebody else's story or their journey.
Host Tim Unsinn:
All right. Today's topic one that's near and dear to many people, I'm sure, because I don't know anyone that is not touched in some way by cancer. So talking about how to support someone diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers, what do we say and not say to a person with cancer?
Sure. And I think this is a good topic because I think we all have good intentions, right. But we just don't always know what to say. I think first you make sure that you take a step back before you talk to your friend and make sure that you're really processing your thoughts and feelings about it. Um, maybe look up a little information because then when you do talk to this person, um, you know, you want to make sure the focus is on them and not answering your questions or making you feel right, more comfortable. So some of the things to say would just be, you know, I'm thinking about you, I care about you. I'm sorry this has happened to you. I think what's hard, you know, I don't want to say it's something not to say, but I think it's hard, a lot of people just say, "let me know if I can do anything for you." And it's just really open-ended. So I think anytime we can just be really intentional with our words, just letting them know that we care, letting them know that we're available if they want to talk, and trying to help them keep some normalcy, right, in their life. If they have a lot of chaos going on, but you guys have always had coffee every Sunday, still offer to have coffee every Sunday. And that's going to be really important to them. Things maybe not to say, specifically, I think the biggest ones that I've heard from people that I've worked with is being overly positive. "I'm sure it'll be okay." "I'm sure you'll be fine." When they're waiting for maybe test results or finalizing their treatment plans, you know, you can still be positive and supportive, but just maybe not so far to the other side, right. You know, "I'm hoping for the best." "I'll be thinking of you." And this goes back to the things to say, not comparing their experience to somebody else's. My great-grandma had this type of cancer and this is what happened. Good or bad. Right? Good or bad stories. They just, it's not helpful to have a comparable experience. Cause unfortunately, nobody's cancer experience is the same. So I think those are the two biggest ones. I have also heard just comments about if they look different, commenting on, if they look different, just like when someone says, "Oh, you look tired," right? We know that maybe we don't look very well. Having somebody point it out isn't going to make us feel any more comfortable, in general. Or trying to compare feelings, "I know how you feel." Even something as simple as "You're so brave," or "You're so strong." That can actually have an adverse effect in that people then feel like they can't ask for help or they can't tell people that they're struggling, that they really have to put on this show. And so again, really just less is more and being just available and being there is super important. And actually actions speak a lot louder than words.
Host Tim Unsinn:
Yeah. I get the action piece because that's something we can, I think you mentioned routine; stick to the routine until you're told you can't stick to the routine. Treat them normally, treat them like you would every day because they are the same person, just going through a tough situation, but you need to be there for them and actions. It's a note, it's a treat; it's something, but yeah, actions, great, great point. Our guest on Mind Your Mind is April Morris and we are talking about how to support someone diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers. So what are some common misconceptions when a person has finished their treatment?
So this is something that I often would see people in ongoing sessions about or in support groups, is they're still trying to adjust to, you know, what oncology calls a new normal. They're trying to just adjust to what is this like, because they may still have some physical side effects from their treatment. Um, they're always gonna have kind of some lingering fears and anxiety right, of recurrence. So for them, their life has ever-changed. It doesn't just go back to the way that it was. So for people sometimes might say, well, your treatment's done now, right? You're doing okay, right? For them, it's not ever going to be the way that it was. And I think it's just important to acknowledge that. Or if it's something that you're like, why are they still worried about this? Why are we still talking about this? You know, their treatment was five years ago and every year she celebrates her clear scan. She's probably going to do that for the rest of her life because this was life-changing for them. And I think it's easy to lose that perspective, the farther we get away from that person's treatment completion. So just remember that their journey doesn't end, just a part of it did.
Host Tim Unsinn:
Yeah. I can see that because, it may not be on your mind, but they're the one going through the cancer, even with the treatments being successful, it's always on the back of their mind. It's always something they're thinking about. Now some ways that we can show our care and support for that person.
Yeah. So when we were talking about actions, speak louder than words, this is, it can be a fine balance between trying to make sure you're not too pushy, but giving specific tasks, like, can I bring over a casserole? Can I make your family a lasagna? Instead of just saying, again, do you need anything? Can we be a little more specific or intentional with our offers? So it might be, you know, offer to run an errand, clean up the house, drive them to a doctor's appointment, go with to a doctor's appointment, take notes if another family member can't be there. It's definitely overwhelming to keep track of it all. And I think any of those things. Obviously care packages. Um, if you feel inclined to do more of a gift, um, things that are practical, like gift cards for gas, if they have to travel to their treatment, grocery cards, take out food, right? Things that are going to be really helpful if there's going to be a financial burden to their experience to consider.
Host Tim Unsinn:
Those are some amazing tips to help us, those of us that have friends or family going through the cancer battle. And again, it has touched and reached everybody. It's not just, I mean, I don't know anybody that's not been touched in some way by cancer. April, thank you. Those were some great tips on helping us show our love and care for those around us while being normal and staying in the routine and not treating them any differently. So that's very helpful information. Thank you. As we wrap up, I do have that one last question for you and you know the question, well, what do you do to personally mind your mind?
I try to make sure that my self-care includes a little bit of alone time at night. Um, but also during the day, spending time with my family and we love going to the lakes, having a lake place and just being really active outdoors.
Host Tim Unsinn:
Thank you. April, April Morris, our guest on Mind Your Mind. April's an outpatient therapist in Fargo, providing therapy for those over 16, primarily adults. Thank you for joining us for Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services. You can't have health without behavioral health. Remember to mind your mind. For more information links, to additional resources, contact information, and much more go to dakotafamilyservices.org.
People tend to perceive risk as being inherently negative. But for teenagers, risk-taking is a healthy, normal, and important part of growing up. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to Vanessa Lien, Nurse Practitioner, about creating a safe environment for your teenager to take risks—and knowing when to step in when they start taking risks that could result in serious and long-term negative consequences.;
Fifteen-25% of American students have experienced bullying. And cyberbullying is on the rise. Children who experience bullying suffer from long-lasting effects including depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, low academic achievement, and more. Children engaging in bullying behavior are impacted as well. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dakota Family Services therapist, April Morris, LMSW, talks about the impact of bullying and what parents can do to help.;
2020 was the year for living with chaos. Everything—at home, at work, and at school—is out of sync and changing from day to day. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dakota Family Services psychologist, Dr. Megan Spencer, shares simple tips for building routine and structure into your life. She also provides an excellent, yet simple, way to ground yourself when you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious.;
Children experience grief over many things—the loss of a loved one, moving away from their friends, the death of a pet. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Lucas Mitzel, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about the stages of grief, and how to walk your child through the grieving process. He will also talk about ways to determine if your child needs to see a professional who can help them untangle the many emotions of grief.;
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Christy Wilkie about suicide warning signs and things you can do to make a difference. Christy, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, wants to normalize conversations about suicide so people don't feel like they are suffering alone. She says, "There is never a reason to not ask the question, 'Hey, are you OK?' Asking the question can save a life.";
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Dr. Wayne Martinsen. Dr. Martinsen, Medical Director and Psychiatric at Dakota Family Services, defines wellness as more than just the absence of disease, but as a state of well-being. In this episode he will share current wellness research, questions to ask to determine your own well-being, and steps you can take to achieve and maintain wellness.;
Sleep is just as important for mental health as it is physical health. During sleep, our brains process our memories, emotions, and other information. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," April Morris tells us why sleep is so important for overall well-being and encourages us to prioritize sleep. April, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, provides practical tips for improving sleep hygiene so you can live your best life.;
Stress does not discriminate, and it comes in many shapes and forms. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dr. Megan Spencer talks about ways to identify and listen to the stress in our bodies. Learn relaxation techniques for managing stress over time, self-care routines that decrease negative stress, and things you can do to bring calm into your life.;
Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our well-being. Exercise increases our mental alertness, energy, and positive mood. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Christy Wilkie, therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about how movement, even for five minutes, can promote changes in the brain that lead to neural growth, reduced inflammation, and feelings of calm and well-being. Listen now to learn more about how moving your body can improve your mental health.;
Diagnosing children with a mental health-related condition can be controversial. Many worry this gives children a label that is set in stone and will follow them around their entire lives. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Wayne Martinsen talks about the role of diagnosis in getting children the help they need. Martinsen encourages us to think about mental health diagnoses the same as we do any health diagnosis. If you go the doctor and they diagnose you with strep throat, that doesn’t mean you’ll have strep throat forever, or that you are a strep throat victim. It just means that you have a collection of symptoms that point to strep throat, and the doctor will use that diagnose to provide the appropriate treatment.;
ADHD is diagnosed and treated at a much higher rate than in the past, especially in the United States. Why? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist/Medical Director at Dakota Family Services, explains how the changing world has made it harder for people with shorter attention spans to be successful. In the past, if school was hard for you, you could get a job, work your way up, and live a middle-class lifestyle. Not so in today’s world. Learn more about this fascinating take on ADHD.;
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Christy Wilkie about the Feelings Wheel*. Christy, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, says humans experience 34,000 different feelings! She demonstrates how to use the Feelings Wheel to help you identify your emotions so you can control the behaviors associated with them. *Adapted by classtools.net from the Emotional Wheel. The Emotional Wheel was developed by American psychologist, Dr. Robert Plutchik.;
In today's episode of "Mind Your Mind," Vanessa Lien, Nurse Practitioner, talks about the many changes occurring in the teen brain. The teenage brain is highly susceptible to stress, but it is also very resilient. Learn coping strategies you can teach your teen to protect their brains and help them cope with stress and emotional struggles.;
Going back to school after summer vacation can be a stressful time for both kids and parents. The transition from the unstructured summer to a more regimented routine can lead to stress and anxiety. Worries about fitting in, bullying, homework, getting to school on time, and dealing with peer pressure are all additional stressors that may weigh on children when it's time to go back to school. In this episode of “Mind Your Mind,” Tim Unsinn speaks with Therapist Falan Johnson. Falan helps us understand why back to school anxiety is common, provides strategies for managing the added stress, and shares resources parents can use to prepare their children for the new school year.;
The grief of losing a friend or loved one to suicide is complicated and can be especially difficult. In addition to the grief, sadness, and loneliness of any loss, people might experience guilt, confusion, rejection, anger, and shame. The stigma of suicide complicates it even more, often preventing survivors talking about their loss or getting the help they need. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Tim Unsinn visits with Dakota Family Services' therapist, Christy Wilkie. Christy helps listeners understand the complicated nature of suicide grief and how to move through it with compassion and self-acceptance.;
You will be shocked at the seemingly safe places predators can connect with your children online. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Lucas Mitzel, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about the things you need to know to keep your children safe. Learn the many websites and platforms used to target children, how to monitor their internet usage, and how to talk to your children about the dangers.;
Pregnancy and the birth of a child can be a joyous and exciting time, but some women struggle with their mental health as they transition to motherhood. Depression, anxiety, and other pregnancy-related mental health conditions may surface during or after pregnancy. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Tim Unsinn speaks with Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Megan Spencer. Dr. Spencer helps us understand the common symptoms and causes of postpartum depression, as well as what to do if you think you may be experiencing it.;
Did you know that in addition to calming and focusing our minds, meditation can improve our physical health? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn visits with Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist, Dakota Family Services, about the surprising health benefits of meditation. A regular meditation practice can increase longevity, reduce the risk of dementia, reduce inflammation, and play a significant role in the treatment of high blood pressure and immune disorders. Learn about the many forms of meditation and how you can start your own meditation practice today.;
Anxiety and depression are invisible illnesses—meaning they don't have outward symptoms visible to others. Because they are invisible, they are often hard for people to explain. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Host Tim Unsinn visits with April Morris, LCSW, Therapist, Dakota Family Services. April references the spoon theory of chronic illness created by Christine Miserandino, an award-winning writer, blogger, speaker, and lupus patient advocate. Listen now to learn more about spoons as a metaphor for energy and how you can use them to understand and explain anxiety and depression.;
While we hear a lot about autism in the news, many of us still have misconceptions about its causes and symptoms. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, therapist Falan Johnson dispels some of these misconceptions and explains the three levels of autism. Johnson then focuses on the least understood level—high functioning autism. Learn how to identify symptoms of high functioning autism in your child, the importance of early intervention, and ways you can support them.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, therapist April Morris talks about boundaries. April will define boundaries, explain their importance, and help you set boundaries that match your values and strengthen your relationships. Learn how healthy boundaries can improve your mental and physical health, and how you can say “no” respectfully.;
Going through infertility tests and treatments can be an extremely difficult and lonely time for couples. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Lucas Mitzel talks about his own experience. He also shares tips for couples struggling with infertility, and for friends and family members who want to be supportive but don’t know what to say or do.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to Therapist Falan Johnson about panic attacks. What do they feel like? What causes them? How can you prevent or manage them? Listen now to learn more and discover techniques that might work for you or your loved one.;