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).
Featuring Falan Johnson, Therapist, Dakota Family Services
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.
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