Falan Johnson provides therapy for children, adolescents, and young adults ages 7 - 25. She believes it is her job to meet clients where they’re at and provide services specific to their needs. Falan is honored to be a positive change agent in the lives of people who come into her office. She believes in a holistic approach, not only considering the person as an individual but as part of a greater working system. Falan earned her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Dakota. She is certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
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 Falan Johnson. Falan is an outpatient behavioral health therapist on the Fargo campus and provides outpatient therapy for children, adolescents, and young adults. Falan, it's great to have you on Mind Your Mind. Our topic is "Why do I feel sad?" However, before we get to the topic, let's talk about why you do what you do. Why is this work important to you?
All right. Thanks, Tim for having me on. Why do I do what I do? I think, you know, if I'm gonna try to sum it up quick, I think it's connection, probably. Yeah, just getting to connect with other humans on a personal level and, you know, be able to relate with what they're going through, and then being able to provide any kind of skills or clarity in any way and just kind of being along with them on their journey, really.
Journey rider, I like that. That's awesome. So now the topic is why do I feel sad? And I really think this is a broad topic, but we're gonna try to help you as you listen, maybe get closer to if you're sad or maybe depressed or what those feelings are. So how do I know when the sadness I'm feeling has gone from a normal human emotion to something of a clinical concern?
Yeah, I think that's the goal. Like you said, it is, it's really vague. Yeah. Why do I feel sad? So it's a layered answer. I don't think it's one black and white answer, so I just wanna throw that out there. So if this resonates, great. If not, there are certainly other avenues to explore. I think for me, what I wanna highlight today is, you know, it is a normal human emotion; quote, unquote, normal. It's something typical. It's something we all feel at some point. And I think sometimes we like to think of it as like a negative or like a bad emotion. It's not typically one we're like running into and excited to feel, but it is part of the human existence, and it is there for a reason and it is there to help us process emotions and see things. And so I think it's important to be okay with feeling some sadness, but then that creates the line of like, what is normal sadness then? And then where is this something that's more clinically significant that I should be concerned about?
Yeah, I'm thinking there are just a lot of different factors that make us feel sad. And as you're listening right now, you can probably think of a dozen things that make you feel sad. But it's that point of feeling sad, the emotion that we have and how long does that last and how long is that normal and how soon does that change to something else that we're going to need some help with?
Right. And I think that's different for everybody. But what I think would be helpful for everybody to consider is that there are a variety of different factors that play into our emotions. So there's biology, there are our thoughts and our experiences that we've had in our life thus far, and then there's environmental and social factors. So I think that's probably the place to start is looking at those three things, right? So, maybe you notice the feeling of sadness and that's where we have to start. And so looking at what's going on in your life. Well, let's say maybe, heaven forbid, your dog just died, right? Maybe you just lost a loved one. Maybe you're going through a transitional period. You know, I work with a lot of young adults. I think that first year of college, you know, it's this very hyped up time for people, but I think there is a lot of sadness that young adults actually feel during that time that is really normal because you're kind of closing this chapter of your childhood becoming an adult, right? And as much as there is to look forward to, there can still be this sadness with closing a chapter. So I think anytime you're maybe going through a transition, it might be a normal time to feel some sadness. If you're grieving, and this might not even necessarily be a physical loss. I think that's what a lot of us think of, but sometimes it might be more of an abstract loss, maybe it's the loss of an identity. So when I think of older adults, maybe moving through retirement, there can be a lot of sadness with moving on and not finding purpose in the same ways you did, there can be sadness associated with that.
Well, change. Just think of the last couple of years and all the change that's happened since early 2020 to today.
Change is just a huge piece of that. And I guess, you know, going through these things, so what should I do to help ease my feelings of sadness? What are those things that can help us get from sad to back to happy versus sad, back to little more in depth? And I know we don't have a ton of time to talk about this, but what are some of those ideas that you have that can help us maybe navigate what sadness to happy sadness to, you know, needing help?
Well, you know, this is probably not gonna be a popular answer, but I do think, you know, if we are going through something where we feel, you know, this is probably an okay time to feel sad; this makes sense. I really encourage you to not try to stuff that emotion, not try to get away from it. Of course we want to get back to a place where we feel content or happy or joy. But we don't wanna rush there too fast, because we're feeling the sadness for a reason. There's something that we need to process here. So finding ways to allow ourself to feel that in a tolerable way, maybe this is, doing some things on your own. Maybe this is spending some time meditating or going out and exercising.
Maybe this is listening to some music that you really connect with. Maybe if you're creative, it's doing some artwork or writing. But ultimately, allowing yourself to feel that. And then ideally after you've had that, you know, if it's a quote unquote normal or typical feeling of sadness, you should be able to move through that. It should start to lift. You should start to feel yourself, maybe kind of moving back to at least moments of your baseline. Now, if this is a really close loss, you're gonna go in and out of those phases. You know, if this is somebody who lost a spouse, it's gonna come and go and that's normal. I think where the big concern for it being more of a clinical process is if this really isn't getting any better, despite attempts. You know, maybe you are trying to find ways to feel this emotion or move through it and it's just not moving. You're stuck. If there's not really something going on in your life where this feeling feels like it makes sense. Maybe it's kind of like, you know, I just got this promotion; my kid just got on the honor roll; we had this great family vacation and I just still feel sad. That's maybe an indicator that you are dealing with some biological factors maybe. And that's when we might be looking at clinical depression. And when we are looking at that, know that everything can be right, you know, quote unquote, on the outside, and you can still feel sad. And that's because there are imbalances with your serotonin levels, your dopamine levels, and that's all a biological factor. So that could be your cue to ask for help. Maybe go consult with a mental health professional, maybe even starting with your primary care provider sometimes.
Sometimes there might be a need to try medications, but I think maybe talking it out and trying to get through, you know, is this more of a biological depression that I do need to seek more intense treatment for versus, okay, you know, maybe I just didn't realize how much I was going through. There is a lot of change going on and I didn't realize it. And now that I did some processing, I'm feeling a lot better about it. So I think everybody's gonna need something different, but don't be afraid to ask questions and start by maybe just checking it out with a mental health professional.
Right. And I was gonna say that I think more and more today, we are feeling, you know, not the happy thoughts about seeking help, maybe five or 10 years ago. We've really come to a better place, in my opinion, today, where we are willing to seek help. There's not a negative to it, but a positive. And the fact that you seek help from a professional, you may get answers in a couple of visits. It may be a longer session, a longer time, but know that there's help for you. You don't have to be in the haze all the time, if you will. There are happy days ahead.
Right. The last piece I wanna make sure I add is that, you know, you've been bringing up what the world's been going through. And I mean, these last couple years have been, it's no secret, it's been a lot. We've had a pandemic we're dealing with economic things, right. And now, we've got a war that's going on. Right. And so some of us are more sensitive to what's going on, and feel for people around us. And so that can definitely be an underlying factor playing into sadness as well. But again, I really would encourage you to talk to somebody about it, to just rule that out. Then you know, is this kind of connected to what's going on in the world? And if so, maybe, that mental health professional or counselor has some really great tips for how to manage that a little bit better. And then, you know. You know, then you try and then you're like, okay, well, that's all I needed to do. Great.
Those were some great final thoughts. Thank you for adding that. That was really, really good. Thank you. Falan Johnson, our guest on Mind Your Mind. It is always a pleasure to have you join us. Before we wrap up, though, I have one last question for you. And as what do you do personally, to mind your mind?
Yeah, so it's any kind of way I can get mindfulness in, that's not so traditional. So for me, that's a run outside. Sometimes I take my earbuds out and I just take in the nature, the sounds, get grounded, and in everything that's going on around me. And just kind of reconnect with myself, and check in.
All right. Thank you so much. Appreciate you.
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.;
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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.;
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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.;
Are you concerned about your child's mental health but aren't sure what to do? Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, Therapist Jesse Lamm, as they discuss ways you can support your child through a difficult time.;
Are the stresses of college (constant worry, fitting in, lack of sleep, etc.) affecting your ability to function? Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, April Morris, LCSW, as they discuss ways to manage or eliminate the stressors that are impacting your well-being.;
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Unsure of whether your therapy is working for you? In this episode of “Mind Your Mind,” our host Tim Unsinn talks with Dakota Family Services therapist Lucas Mitzel about how to make your therapy sessions more productive. Making progress in therapy can often come down to simply having an open mind and a plan for discussion. Although each session can evoke a wide range of emotions, you should always leave feeling that some sort of movement has happened.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn and Dakota Family Services therapist Christy Wilkie talk about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and its effectiveness in battling unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. Utilizing cognitive restructuring, CBT helps change inaccurate and damaging self-perceptions and perceptions of others, leading to healthier day-to-day thought patterns. Christy also touches on multiple CBT exercises to try at home, as well as some of her own tactics for promoting helpful thoughts.;
Are your worries and fears about the future getting in the way of daily life? If so, you may be one of the many people who suffer from anxiety. In this special Community Chat episode of Mind Your Mind, Christy Wilkie and Lucas Mitzel talk about the many types of anxiety and what they can look like in both children and adults. They also touch on ways to combat anxiety attacks, including using grounding techniques, mindfulness, muscle relaxation, and more.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn and psychiatrist Dr. Wayne Martinson discuss autism and signs of it in children, touching on the different levels of the autism spectrum and where people fall. Learn about how autism often affects children's social skills, communication, and behavior, as well as its connections to other disorders and how to handle it.;
Many people find themselves dealing with high levels of stress and anxiety in their daily lives. However, there are plenty of simple strategies to help regulate these emotions. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn talks with therapist Sandy Richter about various coping exercises to help you regulate and calm yourself, including breathing and movement exercises for both children and adults.;
Medication can affect people in many different ways. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn and psychiatric nurse practitioner Amanda Daggett talk about genetic testing and its use in discerning how different individuals might react to various medications. Tim and Amanda also touch on some of the facts and myths surrounding genetic testing, including what testing can and can’t indicate and where the science is currently at.;
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems people face. However, there are many ways to manage and understand it. On this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn and therapist Lucas Mitzel discuss what causes anxiety and how it can affect people’s day-to-day lives, as well as the difference between anxiety and fear and how to combat chronic anxiety with grounding techniques.;
In this special Community Chat episode of Mind Your Mind, Psychologist Megan Spencer and Psychiatrist Wayne Martinsen discuss how loneliness and social isolation are increasing in our country, as well as what that means for individuals’ health in the long term. They also give advice on how to get yourself or your loved ones more connected with others, including how to connect both in-person and online.;
Does it seem like your child is “stuck” in therapy, or engaging in dangerous behaviors like self-harm and suicidality? In this special Community Chat episode of Mind Your Mind, Psychologist Hannah Baczynski and therapist April Morris discuss Dialectical Behavior Therapy and its effectiveness in treating patients who have found traditional therapy unsuccessful. Learn about the 4 core skills of DBT and what makes DBT unique from other forms of therapeutic treatment.;
When our children are struggling with their mental health, it can be hard knowing how to help them. However, in addition to therapy, medication can be a viable and effective option for improving your child’s mental health. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, our host Tim Unsinn talks with psychiatric mental health nurse Amanda Daggett about how to know if your child needs medication, what the process is for a prescription, and how to tell if their medication is right for them.;
Did you know that depression occurs in about 15% of children? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, our host Tim Unsinn talks with Psychiatrist Dr. Wayne Martinsen about depression in kids and adolescents, including signs of depression to look out for and how to know when to reach out to a care provider. They also touch on how to know whether your child’s sadness is caused by depression or other external factors and what you can do to try and prevent depression in your child.;
It can be difficult knowing how to recognize and treat depression in children and adolescents. In this special community chat episode of Mind Your Mind, Psychologist Megan Spencer and Therapist April Morris discuss signs of depression to look out for, including both behavioral and physical signs that your child may be depressed. They also touch on the influence of environment, physical illnesses or diagnoses, and genetics on children’s mental health.;
Humans are hardwired for social connection, but it can be difficult knowing where to fit in as unique individuals. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn and therapist Christy Wilkie talk about the importance of using your strengths, interests, and relationships to figure out where you belong. They also touch on signs that you might not be staying true to yourself, as well as how to handle feelings of being left out.;
While often perceived as only relating to those who’ve experienced warfare, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can affect anyone. In this special Community Chat episode of Mind Your Mind, Psychologist Dr. Hannah Baczynski and therapist Lucas Mitzel explain what trauma is, how it affects each person differently, and when to seek treatment for trauma-related symptoms. They also discuss different treatment options for PTSD, touching on the pros and cons of each.;
Though autism is one of the most commonly discussed mental health diagnoses in the community, it is often one of the most misunderstood. In this special Community Chat episode of Mind Your Mind, therapists Lucas Mitzel and Falan Johnson discuss what autism is, how it appears in children and adolescents, and how it may look different between individuals. They also touch on how autism can show up differently in boys than in girls and offer intervention tips for parents and caregivers.;
Autism is sometimes perceived as a disorder that only affects children and adolescents, but it is actually a lifelong diagnosis. In this special Community Chat episode of Mind Your Mind, psychologists Dr. Hannah Baczynski and Dr. Megan Spencer explore the symptoms and nuances of autism in adults, touching on the history of autism spectrum disorder, the research surrounding it, how autism commonly presents in adults, and more.;
Though spirituality is often associated with religion, it can mean much more than simply attending religious services or praying. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn and psychiatrist Dr. Wayne Martinsen define spirituality and discuss its relevance in daily life, touching on ways people experience, express, and cultivate spirituality. They also talk about the link between spirituality, religion and meaning in life.;