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6 Ways to Cope with Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 @ 01:07 PM
Author: Chato Stewart

What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Everyone worries from time to time about all kinds of things. Worry itself is quite normal. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a condition of too much worrying. If anxious thoughts seem to be increasing, it may signal a problem. Worry has to do with fears. Sometimes worrying can occur even when there is no clear cause. Fears can be confusing and may not make sense to the person who has them.”~ ₍₁₎


Who Is At Risk?

Generalized anxiety disorders affect about 3.1% American adults age 18 years and older (about 18%) in a given year, causing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty.The average age of onset is 31 years old.

GAD affects about 6.8 million American adults, including twice as many women as men. The disorder develops gradually and can begin at any point in the life cycle, although the years of highest risk are between childhood and middle age.” ~₍₂₎


6 Ways to Cope with Generalized Anxiety Disorder 

  1. Don’t let anxiety over tomorrow weigh you down today.
  2. Try to focus on the good things that you’ve done/happened to you – NOT the Negative.
  3. Don’t dwell on past mistakes…LEARN from them – then MOVE ON – (Allow for true forgiveness for yourself and let go of shame.)
  4. When anxieties weigh you down, talk to someone that can cheer you up.
  •    Mild Anxiety / moderate anxiety is extremely common, but goes way beyond just basic anxious feelings that everyone normally feels.  It is a clinical condition and is a  moderate even mild type of GAD.  Nevertheless, it causes extreme emotional stress. Yet talking with a  friend or family member might be just what you need to help take the edge of the anxiety.
  •    Severe Anxiety may require a more clinical talk therapy such as: “Psychotherapy. A type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavior therapy is especially useful for treating GAD. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help him or her feel less anxious and worried.” ₍₂₎
  1. Avoid giving into negative Thoughts.
  2. Meditate on your pass successes. Understanding that anxiety is only a “by-product” of a “condition” has been helpful to some in dealing with its affects.

Anxiety has many faces and many triggers and each person has their own set of fears to overcome. However, the above 6 coping tools may help you deal with anxious periods making them a little more manageable.

I love being the Consumer Ambassador  here at Charlotte Behavior Heath Care, but I also blog for other networks like the International Bipolar Foundation, BP Hope Magazine,  and  Psych Central (the Internet’s largest and oldest independent mental health social network. Since 1995, this award-winning website has been run by mental health professionals offering reliable, trusted information and over 200 support groups to consumers).

At Psych Central, there are a bunch of free NON-clinical screening quizzes. You can use the “Anxiety Screening Quiz.”  This quiz can help determine if you might need to see a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment of an anxiety or panic disorder.   It’s not a real  screening, only a professional can do that, but if you are –I HATE TO SAY THIS –  Worried/Anxious about having Generalized Anxiety Disorder this could help you have the strength and courage to make an appointment with the capable CBHC Staff.

Anxiety Screening Quiz


Consumer ambassador
Chato Stewart



₍₁₎ What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Achieve Solutions® is a ValueOptions® website.:

₍₂₎ Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):

₍₃₎ Anxiety Screening Quiz:


Fred Lang Foundation Eleventh Annual Summer Ball

Monday, July 21, 2014 @ 03:07 PM
Author: Chato Stewart

Fred Lang Fundation and Charlotte Behavioral Health Care Port Charlotte

Punta Gorda, FL- Join us for the 11th Annual Summer Ball, presented by Fred Lang Foundation to benefit Charlotte Behavioral Health Care. The Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center will be transformed into Venezia, Italia for an elegant Summer Night in Venice on Saturday, July 26th. Take a stroll along the Grand Canal. Relax in a graceful gondola. Enjoy dinner and dancing, live entertainment by The BoogieMen and an incredible silent auction all while benefitting Charlotte Behavioral Health Care.

Summer Ball 2013 CBSC FunSummer Ball Fun Photos

The Summer Ball is an annual signature fundraiser that benefits children, adolescents, and families of Charlotte County who are in urgent need of crisis counseling, mental health counseling and/or substance abuse addiction treatment at CBHC. This event helps fund additional children and family programs and services at CBHC, including group therapy for children and parents and an Art & Soul Summer Camp.

Each year mental health is gaining more attention as an essential key to our community’s quality of life. Charlotte Behavioral Health Care is here to make sure that no one has to face a mental health or substance abuse problems alone. Together we can ensure that everyone living in Charlotte County has the opportunity to receive the support and hope needed to maintain overall mental health and wellness.

Fred Lang Fundation Port Charlotte 2013 group checkThis year’s Summer Ball will be held July 26th at 6:00 pm at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center in Punta Gorda. Tickets are $100 each and the event is black tie formal. Last year’s Summer Ball raised almost $30,000, which went directly to provide urgent health care services for our community.


A special thanks to the following for sponsoring this year’s 11th Annual Summer Ball: Margo Lang, Mr. & Mrs. Nicholas Lang, SunTrust, Ambitrans, Smugglers Foundation, Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, Attorneys at Law, Palm Auto Mall, Valic, Wotitzky, Wotitzky, Ross & McKinley Attorneys at Law,The Mosiac Company, Bayfront Health, Dee’s & Dee’s, CPA, Sylvia Orr, Fawcett Memorial Hospital, Alliance Business Printing, Law office of Kevin C Shirley and Law office of Jesus M. Hevia, Riverview Cardiac, Louis Lavoie at Merrill Lynch, Christina Narr, Robert and Carolyn Hansman, Panther Hollow Dental Lodge, Riverview Cardiac, Lydia Gattanell, Monarch Printing, Sun-Herald Newspapers and Port Charlotte Florist.

If you would like to become a sponsor or buy tickets to the 11th Annual Summer Ball planned for July 26, 2014 at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center in Punta Gorda, please contact Jessica Boles, Director of Public Relations at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care at 941-347-6407, or visit


The Drop In Center at CBHC Will Give Hope for the Charlotte County:

In recent years, The Haven Drop-In Center provided services for the Charlotte County (Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda) community since 1992. It ran as peer to peer and clubhouse model type facility that accommodated to the wellness and recovery of the mentally challenged residents living in our Charlotte County community. Everyone visiting “The Haven” had an opportunity to socialize, mingle, and make friends while associating with those who share similar experiences. Not only was it about the socialization, but members got to participate and get involved in results-based group programs. The Haven was there to support you when you needed it. The system of support was not just helping you, you soon found out you could be part of the help of each other’s recovery for a healthy and lasting life experience.

The Haven:

Over the years, there have been many hands in the success of the “The Haven” and yes, along with any success there will be times of failures. I came to The Haven in 2007, I was fresh in the area and in need of support. I walked in filled out a basic paperwork for membership. The director at that time read that I ran and facilitated support groups in Sarasota for the depression, bipolar support alliance organization as a chapter leader. He asked if I would mind facilitating that bipolar group that day. Of course, I could not say no! So that was how I started my association with the Haven. I developed a very simple bipolar support group format that anyone could follow and lead their group for about a year. My blogging was starting to take off so, I had to part ways. I kept in contact with the Haven from the outside. Once in a while dropping in, although every time I would drop-in there would be new changes. Some for the better, some not so good.

The Haven Drop-In Center  provided

services for the Charlotte County for over 22 Years!

But at last count, talking to the director a few months back, The Haven Drop-in Center was averaging 40+ people a day and had some days nearing 60 in our community receiving hands-on services and help. I think that’s incredible! I applaud them for their efforts and all their services to the community over the years.

All the hard work of all the volunteers over the last 22 years needs to have an award ceremony for all their incredible sacrifice and service to members of our community! They are the unsung heroes, but alas, like all good stories that come, this one unfortunately, is a bit sour. You see, at the end of June 2014, the Haven drop-in center lost its funding and had to close its doors. No money -no play. I am not privy to the type of funding that was lost, why it was lost, and how it happened. I’m not tied up in the red tape nor am I on any side other than my peers who are caught up in not having a place to go…

Don’t let the hard work go waste

With all the hard work of the last 22 years dangling over the edge of infinity, ready to be lost, what should be done? If we wait too long, all could be lost, then any organization coming in, or trying to start up will be starting from scratch. No, that’s not what CBHC wanted to see happen. It is my firm belief that Charlotte Behavioral Health Care had only our peers in mind as they have taken over what would’ve been lost. They are saving the Drop-In Center

On Wednesday, July 9th, 2014, CBHC’s Drop In Center opened its doors from 11 o’clock to three(3:00 PM).
Located in the in building B on 1700 Education Avenue…for the time being until property can be secured.

Over-sighted by Gina Wynn, BA Dir. of Residence and Healthy Start & Adult Case Manager Service assisted by David Stone, LMHC, they plan to reorganize the Haven
I asked David how the first day went while visiting. He told me they had almost 30 participants and a well-planned out day. I saw some familiar faces, shook some hands and just chatted a little bit with some old friends when I “dropped-in.” Everyone seemed happy to have someplace to go. The fact that CBHC could put together this interim Drop In location (They NEED a new location – if you can share one let them know.) in such a short period of time is quite an amazing feat all on its own!  Here is what they did today: (see image).haven

I look forward to helping out in any way possible.

Consumer ambassador
Chato Stewart


1441 Medivance - Symptom Severity dragon scale  -Terry Terance Gorski On Charting by Chato Stewart

Functioning OR NON-Functioning

Treatment Plan vs Function

Yes…labels…we don’t like them, such as are you “Functioning” OR “NON-Functioning?” The “function” term is one some insurance companies use/require that providers use to identify and classify mental health and/or addiction presenting symptoms normally at the time you’re receiving treatment.

Why? Having a level of severity scale is one of many tools used to help place/write/design a treatment plan. I’m sure the insurance companies, Medicaid or Medicare just don’t pay any invoices that say “mental health services provided $500.00”- “please pay now.”

Maybe, it’s the provider’s standard operating procedure (SOP) to check your function. From my experience at CBHC and going over our “treatment plans,” the closest thing we have to a “Functioning” OR “NON-Functioning” falls under the “Snap Shot & Need” of our “Treatment Plan Authorization”. If you’re getting one-on-one treatment, medication management, or other treatment it is my understanding you should have a treatment plan that you authorize. And in this section of the snapshot, your therapist gets to identify yours “Strengths and Abilities.”


  • Transportation
  • Supportive friends
  • Educational vocational skills
  • Religion or spirituality
  • Positive character traits
  • Athletic abilities
  • Attend to activities of daily living
  • Learning from experiences
  • Recognize the side effects of medications
  • Stable housing
  • Community support
  • Financial stability
  • A sense of humor
  • Leisure activities hobby is social outlet
  • Artistic talents
  • Able to read and write
  • Save money
  • Supportive family
  • Employment the ability to work
  • A sense of hope
  • A positive outlook
  • Take care of themselves
  • Ask for help
  • Follow instructions and directions

Mental Health and Addiction

Back to the Mental Health Humor Cartoon, the title “Gorski on Charting” is due to that fact that the world renowned author Terence T. Gorski is an internationally recognized expert on substance abuse and mental health. I’ll let you Google him to get the low-down on his work. But I’m sure his books on “Straight Talk About Addiction” could help a few people with mental health and addiction issues here in Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda (Charlotte County).

4 Categories of impairments in functioning: 

Normal, Mild, Moderate, or Severe.

  1. * Normal Functioning ~ A-Okay – Nothing Wrong With Me!   Score between 7 and 10.
  2. * Mild Impairment in Functioning ~ Okay-ish – Nothing Wrong With Me – You’re the Problem, You have always been the problem!!! Get out my Face, you’re a nuisance and YOU ARE getting me… Score between 5 and 7.
  3. * Moderate Impairment in Functioning~ Okay? Okay? You call this OK!!! – What’s wrong with ME??? I’ll Tell you what’s wrong with me – NO BETTER YET – I’m PAYING YOU – You tell me what’s wrong with me!!! Oh YA – I am HAVING A problem – I’m about to show you how dysfunctional I am – in spite of all your wonderful therapeutic efforts to help me.  Score between 3 and 5.
  4. ***~ Okay I had fun with the above 3, but this one is serious…so, no kidding or joking:

* Severe Impairment in Functioning is rated when the problems or symptoms consistently cause serious dysfunction.  Score between 1 and 3. This also applies when there is suicidal or homicidal risk and/or the general inability to function and care for self.

Peer Ambassador
Chato Stewart


4 Categories of Impairments In functioning Bold by Terry Goski – Commentary and definitions by Chato Stewart

Port Charlotte Habor ParkSummer Time and the living is easy -unless diagnosed?!

Not too sure about that, huh? Easy living sometimes involves work and/or accepting a difficult diagnosis such as: Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Schizophrenia and/or Substance Abuse.

Sometimes easy living is learning to work at what is good for ourselves and others.

I read a wise, old saying that said:

Whenever You Can, Do Good Things For People Who Need Help.

Don’t we all need help? Especially, those of us who are recovering from addiction or mental health concerns?

All of us are in pain in one form or another. I’ve found that when I can help someone, who may be in greater need than myself, I feel so much better.

When I focus on someone’s situation or trial, somehow my concerns melt in the background…at least, temporarily.

Younger ones and older ones in our communities are in need. Perhaps, we know of a neighbor or family friend that could use some help. Each of us has a gift to give and share with this world to help make not only summer better, but life a little easier for someone.

What are our plans for the Summer?

  • Can we volunteer at our local library?
  • Can we read to a young, struggling reader?
  • Can we volunteer at a local pet shelter?
  • Can we donate food or make food for an elderly neighbor?
  • Can we provide transportation to an appointment or to the park?
  • Can we run errands for someone?

Follow the Golden Rule – Compassion

If we make others happy, it will make us HAPPY! Determine what good we can do. Following the Golden Rule: should be something we all want to live by when it comes to compassion for others. Yet, how can me make it work for our mental health or substance abuse recovery and bring joy to our heart?

  • Determine What Good We Can Accomplish
  • Create a Compassion Plan.
  • Follow Through Whenever We Can.

Here is something you can add to your wellness tool box, I like to call it the Compassion Plan. Follow through whenever you can. Be sure to reflect on the positive results of your endeavors to help anyone in need.

(copy, paste and print) -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  – -  -  – -

Compassion Plan Project: ______________________________________________


What did you learn from your helping/volunteering experience?



Did you make any new friends?



Who did you encourage by being kind?



How were you personally encouraged to continue down your own road of recovery

and wellness?



FREE Work Sheet Download PDF Compassion Plan Project  -  -  –   -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  – -

Whenever I’ve been able to help others, whether a family member, neighbor, community member or stranger, I’ve positively grown by the process of giving…not taking, but giving of myself and my time…{not only money, yes that helps enormously and is needed a lot of times by non-profits – still, I really get a deep feeling of joy when I can help someone in person or do some hands on volunteer work.}

Compassion in action means: Every helping hand, large and small, makes a positive difference!

Remember, not only will we help someone enjoy their Summer, most likely, we will have a good time in the process.

Have a Balanced and Happy Summer!

Peer Ambassador
Chato Stewart

Will I Ever Eliminate Depression From My Life?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 @ 02:06 PM
Author: Chato Stewart

Before I write my personal thoughts on the question “Will I ever eliminate depression from my life” let me just say that my views and opinions as expressed in this article DO NOT necessarily state or reflect those of CBHC.  And or the medical community that are in fact based on my own experience and first hand knowledge.

I am not a true believer in the cure.  I cringe when I see people selling products that “cure depression” or people who claim if you do their “program,” you will be cured from depression.  It’s not that I think they are selling snake oil or have spiked the Kool-aid. It’s just I know depression…it is a beast!  It can lay dormant then come up like a tsunami and wash away years of progress in a matter of days.  No over the counter pill, supplement or book is going to help you when it hits you like a Mack truck! I’m not going to sugar coat it, it will be a battle for many of us for all our lives with periods of balance and light and other times where we just have to march through the muck and mire…but, we PUSH ON!  Courageously, it can be done!  There are many of us that are living proof.

We may not be able to eliminate depression 100% but it can be treated and contained. We can have mastery over depression!  There will be times of relapse, that is fine, we will just get up -dust ourselves off and PUSH ON!

This is what happened to me a few months ago. In therapy today, I got to reflect on this point. Five years ago, I hit a deep depression that hospitalized me… I turned to cutting and branding (burning) for dealing with my the emotional stresses. Back in 2008, I did not have the coping tools I have today from my self-advocacy and continuing education on my diagnosis.

I told my CBHC therapist that in 2008 I was coming off a nine month long deep depression, I was just barely functioning - I was also 100% off meds for 2 years.  It was a very toxic time but I did not have to tools to eliminate depression from my life.  This time around it was 14 days of what I would call a non-functioning period of mostly being lost in a “deep depression.”  What made this time different is that I was able to use productive coping tools that helped chip away at the depression…allowing me to function and move through it.

Tools To USE To Chip Away at Depression

  • * Accept – acknowledge – validate it: If we are in denial, we could get lost in the darkness of depression. When I was able to acknowledge I was depressed, I was able to work my wellness toolbox.
  • * Move: walk – exercise – studies show it can help reduce the symptoms up to 50%.
  • * Sunshine: get outside – the sun helps and just being outdoors/nature can lift the mood.
  • * Talk to a friend: call a friend – human contact helps me – but this is a slippery slope, since when I’m depressed the last thing I want to do is see “people.”
  • * Make an appointment to see your doctor – If you take meds, you may need an adjustment, or talking in therapy can be helpful just to ground you.
  • * Tap into what you love – if you love and DO it.
  • * Art therapy – draw how you feel.
  • *  Write a poem or song and express your feelings.
  • *  PUSH On
Peer Ambassador
Chato Stewart

Maintaining Mental Well-Being: Learning & Unlearning

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 09:05 AM
Author: Chato Stewart

Maintaining our mental well-being can be challenging for most of us.

What happened to our well-being in hard times?

We may not spend enough time or concern regarding our mental well-being. We get busy and just trying to survive or make financial ends meet, takes a lot our energy and time.

Okay, so we try to eat right and exercise regularly. How often do we consider or examine our emotional, mental well-being? All of us are multidimensional human beings. To achieve higher levels of wellness, we must consider the multidimensional aspects of our lives and habits. (Really deeply meditate about what we are doing and where we are headed aka what path are we on? A positive path of wellness?)

The key is learning healthy habits

The key is learning healthy habits and unlearning unhealthy habits. Learning to prioritize the most important things we value and putting less important things/activities in their proper place is necessary. When we live purposefully, this helps elevate our time/life from trivial/mundane pursuits like: too much time as a couch potato…to getting outside in nature and may be walking for a good cause while soaking up some Vitamin D from sunlight. Moderation is a critical component to well-being. Too much time spent in anything could cost us 1 aspect or more of our mental health.

Good health is highly valued by most of us! Sadly, we may not spend enough time or concern regarding our mental well-being. We get busy and just trying to survive or make financial ends meet, takes a lot our energy and time.

Simply put: how we manage or organize our time is how we live. We could be causing ourselves unnecessary stress and mental distress by poorly managing our time. If we spend too much time in unhealthy activities, these could be damaging to our mental, emotional, physical and well-being.

What healthy habit do you need to learn? What unhealthy habit do you need to unlearn?

Positive role-model mentors can help us much in learning to maintain our mental well-being.

Whom will encourage you in maintaining your mental well-being?

Are you seeking this person out for encouragement and counsel?

We can do it! We can unlearn unhealthy habits. We can prioritize Learning Healthy Habits!

What is Highly Valued among Addicts and Mentally Ill?

Thursday, May 22, 2014 @ 03:05 PM
Author: Chato Stewart

Good health is highly valued by most of us! When battling addiction and/or mental illness, good health scale is measured not by losing weight and being fit or aesthetically pleasing. Now it’s a war, a battle, it’s messy, and there are no easy answers and no easy solutions.

We can’t just snap out of it…spend more time on it, concentrate harder or read a bunch of “positive quotes” that end with things that say “hang in there” or “never give up.” Knowing the battle lines are multidimensional and cover all aspects of our lives. Our wellness is valued and measured daily. Good health could be as little as waking up in the morning and getting out of bed.

Sadly, many will measure their health on twisted idolized thinking of this world’s view of fitness. If we have extra weight, we are labeled lazy. If we are unkempt and our clothing messy, we may be labeled vagrants.  We may be looked down upon as weak, unhealthy.  Yet all the while: our strength outshines everyone as we are battling our addictions, our mental illnesses~ fighting a war to save our own life! Good health is highly valued. It is just perceived and received differently. And when someone battling addiction or mental disease achieves remission that’s when I consider it “good health.”

What are my three most important tools in my personal recovery?

  1. Planning: having some type of preparation or plan in case of a crisis: preset and established should be number one.
  2. Wellness Tools: different techniques work for different individuals. Some people find exercise extremely beneficial to help them deal with the depression symptoms. While others, like myself, sometimes turn to chocolate-chip-fudge-brownie ice cream.
  3. Support Network: having a support network of close family friends and relatives that you can rely on when things really get tight and tough is essential. But don’t wear them out. Don’t always rely on the same people over and again. Share the misery and you’ll keep a strong network by not wearing them out. It’s easy to repair a bridge. It’s been damaged, but when you burn your bridges: you become an island isolated…alone.

Family & Friends Embracing Mental Health Month

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 @ 09:05 AM
Author: Chato Stewart

May is Mental Health Month! Giving opportunity for everyone to have a little bit of a share in removing stigma and discrimination from the mental health community. How? By simply speaking up and sharing your story. Your life experience as a survivor of serious, debilitating, life-threatening conditions ranging from substance abuse and addiction to many different forms of mental illness.

May is a month long advocacy endeavor nationwide. You don’t have to speak to thousands or hundreds of people, you don’t have to stand on a podium or soapbox. You don’t have to shout out loud in the streets about your diagnosis. Being involved can be simply: self-awareness as you educate yourself…a little more fun maybe: a different technique or tool that will help support us in the our crisis. It isn’t about how much we do this month. It is important that we “consider”doing something; whether big or little…How is your month going thus far?

What will you and/or your family do together this May (and beyond) to contribute positively to your mental health and to that of your peers?

Some of us suffer emotionally and mentally due to loss. All of us could say: we have lost someone or something at one time or another in life. Loss can be devastating and rob of us of joy. However, cultivating gratitude and contentment for what we do still have or whom may still be an important part of our lives, helps us stay balanced and not consumed by our personal grief.

Taking the time each day, week or month to positively reflect and write down a list of who/what we are grateful for and what is going “good” right in this moment of time is beneficial to our mental, emotional, physical, spiritual well-being.

Here’s my simple list of 5:

1. Life is a precious gift

2. Each morning is a opportunity for a do over

3. Having enough food, water, air

4. Smiles of family, friends and neighbors

5. Sunshine and rain

What are your top 5?

How are you embracing Mental Health Month with family & friends?

Ways to help our young ones feel a healthy measure of self-confidence. How can we help kids build self-esteem? Parents play such a powerful role in modeling a child’s self-view whether positive or negative.

If you could list 10 ways to help a young one feel better about themselves, what would you think of?

1. Show love in all words.

2. Focus on the positives and strengths.

3. Freely commend.

4. Don’t expect perfection or unreasonable demands.

5. Don’t expect from a young one what only an adult can do.

6. Recognize that immaturity behaves differently than maturity.

7. Help your child achieve reachable goals within their grasp.

8. Encourage and guide patiently.

9. Foster more happiness in giving than in receiving.

10. Mom and Dad modeling and mentoring their kids in the ways of compassion: by treating each other with dignity and respect…oh, and love too.