Holding on: My Journey with Antidepressants.

For some people, yoga and other forms of self care are helpful when struggling with depression. For others, herbs, acupuncture, or homeopathy may help. Others benefit the most from antidepressants. At the catalyst center, we work with people to get them into the type of treatment that works best for them. That referral, along with high quality therapy, has proven to be very helpful when treating depression and anxiety.

Check out this account of author Jennifer Pastiloff’s experience treating her depression:



We Are Reading: 50 ways to Support a Woman During Labor

We love this list of ways to encourage and support a laboring woman from Four Mamas Birth Collective, www.fourmamasbirth.com. Great for partners!

1. Greet the contraction with a big sigh.…relax as you let your breath out.

2. Every breath out brings calmness…

3. That’s the way….just like that……

4. Feel baby’s head pressing down…..let the baby come.

5. Stay soft and flexible where you feel the baby….

6. Now it’s coming down……start to rest now.

7. Great! Don’t change a thing.   You’re doing so well.

8. Join right in with your breathing….keep it going in and out….

9. Nice and easy….. use only the energy you need….

10. Drop your shoulders….. loosen your hands…..

11. Stay with your breath… each one opens the cervix more…

12. This one is almost over…..fading away….. go limp like a rag doll….

13. You really have the hang of this. You’re amazing.   I knew you could do it.

14. Here comes another….that’s it, relaxing sighs as you rise up to the top of it…

15. Just give way for the baby… baby wants to come….

16. Keep it going just like that…..easy in , easy out…….keep that rhythm

17. See it happening….the baby is coming down on the inside….. breathe it open

18.You’re a natural…….working so well….a strong woman.

19. Let it go away…..start to rest…….cleansing breath…..Nice going!

20. Meet it with your breathing…. that’s it….getting stronger now…..stay with it…

21. Let it stretch….that’s the baby’s head you feel…….coming through.

22. We’re really getting there….you’re doing beautifully…..you’re inspiring!

23. It’s coming down….slow and easy breaths now…..kiss that one good-bye…..

24. First class work!

25. You’re so healthy and strong!

26. Deep breath right from the start……yes, in and out….match it to the peak…

27. Yes, really going right with it……the circle is widening…..

28. Just a little longer…here, look in my eyes….breathe with me. …just like that

29. Going away now…… go limp and relaxed……you just rest now.

30. I’m here with you, you are alright…….we’ll do this together…..one at time.

31. From the beginning….breathe with me…….yes….yes….

32. Nice and steady…..baby’s sliding through….. heading toward your arms…

33. Stay centered…..no resistance……going with it…..being fluid like water.

34. Good open sounds……going deep inside…. to where the baby is.

35. Easing up now……let it go completely……rest for you and the baby.

36. You’re incredible!   Finding that inner strength. I knew you could do this.

37. Remember, the hardest time is the shortest. Let’s take them one at a time.

38. Deep breath….really surrender……you are safe……

39. You’re the best…working hard…..really stretching…

40. Good pain, baby pain….doing just what it should…

41. OK, it’s coming down the hill…..in the valley now…..time to rest again

42. You’re fully dilated, you can push when you’re ready!

43. I’m so excited for you! You’ll be meeting your baby soon!     What a woman!

44. Few deep breaths now….push at the top of your breath…..pressing down…..

45. That’s it…..way into your bottom….feel baby moving down and out

46. Listen to your body….follow it’s rhythm….push when it tells you to…

47. It’s going away….rest and relax now…save that energy…..

48. Here it comes….feel your woman power pushing your baby down……down

49. Let the baby come out easy now….bottom opens out….blossoming petal by petal……breathe easy…..little nudges….. here it comes!

50. What a miracle! Congratulations, you’re a Mom!

If you are looking a guide to childbirth for dads and labor companions we recommend The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.

We Are Reading: How To Keep Jealousy And Envy From Ruining Your Life

Amanda L Chan from the Huffington Post wrote a great article about the impact jealousy and envy can have in our lives. She shares that although we are all likely to experience jealousy and envy in different setting in our lives, we can find ways to keep them from affecting our day to day lives. Another interesting point she made is to recognize the difference between jealously and envy.

While most people use the words “jealousy” and “envy” interchangeably, they’re actually two distinct emotions. Jealousy is solicited anytime there is a threat to something that is of value to an individual (in other words, it’s that icky feeling you get when you are afraid something will be taken away from you). Envy, on the other hand, is the emotion solicited when somebody has something that you want for yourself.

The author also made some important ties between jealousy and self-esteem. Additionally she discusses how envy is related to competitiveness.

Since jealousy and self-esteem seem to be so related, focusing on your positive attributes can help to boost the latter, Valdesolo says. It all has to do with a term in psychology: the “working self-concept.” This is the idea that there are many ways to define yourself — for instance, you can be a father, a professor and a soccer player, all at once — but you’re not always going to be working all of these aspects of yourself at one time.

Competitiveness seems to be highly related to envy, though it’s still not known which causes the other. “It can be that competitive people are more successful because of their envy, which drives them to succeed, or it can be that because they’re envious, they are considered to be competitive,” Cohen-Charash says.

What we found most meaningful in the article was how the discussion turns to focus on how jealousy and envy can impact our relationship. The article includes some thoughts on how to find healthy ways to address the envy and jealousy in our own lives.

Check out the full article at:




What’s Hard About Covering Up To Breastfeed?

Anytime a breastfeeding story comes up in the news, especially one in which a breastfeeding mom is asked to leave an area to feed her baby, I break my own rule about not reading online comments out of sheer, morbid curiosity. In real life, I’m surrounded by people who are very supportive of breastfeeding, so it interests me to read comments and questions about the appropriateness of breastfeeding in public.

Of course, there are always some unnecessarily mean people, but some sentiments that come up frequently are legitimately well-meaning. As a mom who nursed three kids in all kinds of situations, I thought I’d address a few of these:

“I totally support breastfeeding, but what’s so hard about covering up to breastfeed in public?”

That’s great that you support breastfeeding. I actually would love to get to the stage when we stop calling it breastfeeding, and just call it feeding. That’s all it is. You’re not feeding a breast, you’re feeding a baby. It’s babyfeeding. Should women have to cover their babies to feed them in public? That sounds a little silly, doesn’t it?

But to answer your question, there are several reasons why moms might not cover up in public:

1. It actually is hard to cover up and feed a baby at the same time. Especially when you’re a new mom, and you’re trying to wrangle a squishy baby into a comfortable position where they can latch on correctly. Even with my third baby, keeping a cover over my shoulder while latching on wasn’t easy. And really, the only time one would “need” to cover up due to possible nipple exposure (if that’s the reason you think moms should cover up) is during the latch-on. And balancing a blanket on your shoulder while trying to see what you’re doing to get the baby latched is a big pain in the butt. Truly.

2. Some babies hate being covered. Most of the time, my babies would try to pull the cover off. I wouldn’t want to eat with a blanket over my head, would you? Especially when it’s hot. Ugh, it makes me claustrophobic just thinking about it.

3. One of the benefits of breastfeeding is the eye contact between mom and baby. The location of the breast is designed to put the baby within the vision range of mom’s face. Yes, you can have the same eye contact when you’re bottle feeding, which begs the question – would you cover up your baby’s face while cradling and bottle feeding, rather than looking at your baby and smiling at him/her at regular intervals? That would be silly.

4. When I was nursing, I actually felt like using a cover drew more attention to what I was doing. Uncovered, most of the time, it just looked like I had a baby cradled in my arms, sleeping. No breast could be seen once baby was latched. Nothing screams, “Hey, I’m breastfeeding over here!” like a draping a blanket over your shoulder while awkwardly trying to get your baby into a comfortable breastfeeding position.

5. Covering up implies that there’s something inappropriate about feeding a baby. There’s not. It’s feeding a baby. That’s it.

“I breastfed all my babies, but I never did it in public. Why don’t women just pump if they’re going out?”

That’s great that you breastfed all your babies. That’s also great if you were able to pump and that your baby took a bottle. Not all moms can pump successfully. Not all babies will take a bottle. After working at it for a while, I could pump, but my babies never took a bottle. That wasn’t for lack of trying – they just wouldn’t. I’m sure if their lives depended on it, and if I wasn’t around for a long time, they would eventually take one, but having a baby is hard enough. I wasn’t about to go through that much unnecessary effort so that I could bottle feed in public.

I’ve known some women who couldn’t get anything from pumping. Some women can’t relax enough with a machine hooked up to their body to get a letdown. Totally understandable.

But the real answer to this question is, they shouldn’t have to. Think about what you’re suggesting: that a mother skip a feeding to pump, or pump regularly enough to have the extra milk to pump outside of a feeding, then find a way to keep the milk cold in transport, then find a way to warm up the milk once she is where she’s going, then feed the baby with the bottled milk, then deal with the leakage or discomfort of the full breasts she has from feeding with the bottle instead of the breast for that feeding, and then wash and sterilize the bottle afterward–all instead of just taking her baby with her and feeding the ready-to-go milk she has on hand in her own body?

Doesn’t that seem a little ridiculous?

Most women who successfully pump have a system and a routine for it, and usually it’s because they’re away from their babies for a certain amount of time on a regular basis. More power to them. I’ve known lot of working, pumping moms, and I think they’re amazing.

But the idea of pumping just to go out in public with your baby, when your breasts are right there with you, is goofy to me. How long have breast pumps been around? How long have humans been feeding babies? When did we get to the mindset that feeding babies in public is better done with machinery and accessories than with mom?

“I don’t mind if moms breastfeed in public, as long as they do it modestly. Especially if there are kids or teens around.”

That’s great that you don’t mind if moms breastfeed in public. But let’s discuss the modesty idea. I hope you have the same feelings about modesty when you see a woman in a bathing suit, or a low-cut top, because 99% of the time, that’s all you can see of a woman’s breast when she breastfeeds.

Granted, there might be a couple of seconds of nipple showing. If you really don’t want to see that, pay close attention to moms with babies. Here are the cues that a mom is getting ready to breastfeed:

1. She starts to lift her shirt or adjust her bra. There you go. As soon as you see that starting to happen, look away. If you’re really concerned about your children seeing a woman breastfeeding, take that cue to show them something in the other direction.

But really, if kids are going to have any exposure to breasts (and they already have, if you have ever taken them to the grocery store and waited at the checkout stand where they keep the magazines), isn’t that the kind of exposure they should have? Don’t you want your children to see what breasts are primarily for? They’re getting plenty of messages on billboards, television, and other media that breasts are sexual. Seeing them used in a decidedly and awesomely unsexual way can only be good, in my opinion.

“Can’t you just go to the bathroom to breastfeed?”

1. Bathrooms are gross. Would you want to eat in there?

2. Many bathrooms don’t have a chair to sit in.  This leaves Mom with the option of sitting on the floor (yuck) or on the toilet (double yuck).

3. If a mom wants privacy to nurse because she feels more comfortable that way, that’s great. I’m a big fan of having lounge areas for nursing moms. But it should be for her comfort, not for yours. When I was nursing, I occasionally removed myself to nurse because it was too loud or I wanted a little space, but the times I removed myself because of my worries about other people, I felt exiled. When a mom feels that she needs to hide to breastfeed, the message is that there’s something shameful or wrong with what she’s doing. And that’s not right.

Along with the presumably well-meaning comments, I’ve also seen a few more, ahem, “strongly-worded” sentiments I’d like to address:

“Breastfeeding is totally natural, but so is going to the bathroom / having sex, and people don’t do that in public.”

Going to the bathroom is gross, stinky, and unsanitary to do in public, which is why we don’t do it. Feeding a baby is none of those things. Sex is an incredibly private, intimate act. Feeding a baby can be intimate in that it’s a bonding experience between baby and mom, but it’s more of a holding hands kind of intimacy–not something that needs to be confined to the privacy of a bedroom or home. The comparisons are apples and oranges.

“If you want to breastfeed, that’s fine, but I don’t want to / shouldn’t have to see it.”

Then don’t look. And I don’t mean that in a snarky way. You really don’t have to watch a mom breastfeed. (See cues in third question above.) Just look the other way and move on.

“Women who breastfeed in public are just trying to get attention / make a statement.”

Actually, 99% of women who feed their babies in public are just trying to feed their babies. Having been around hundreds of women who breastfeed, including dozens at a recent La Leche League conference, I can attest to the fact that most women are very matter-of-fact about feeding their babies.

I’ve known one mom who exposed much more breast for much longer than any other moms I’ve known, but she was raised in Africa, so that explains it. I’ve known of one other mom (don’t know her personally) who sounds like she has some exhibition issues and takes the opportunity to show more breast than necessary any old time she can. That’s by far an exception, and not the norm. Most breastfeeding mothers don’t “let it all hang out.” They do what they need to do to feed their babies, no more, no less.

“This isn’t a village in Africa. It’s culturally inappropriate to bare your breasts in public here.”

I’m curious about what this says about villages in Africa, or other places where breasts are common sights. Why is it culturally inappropriate here? I don’t necessarily think it should be, I just want to walk through the reasoning for our cultural views of breasts. Is it because our society views breasts as primarily sexual in nature? Are African breasts not sexual in nature as well? Would you shield your eyes from a National Geographic magazine showing bare-breasted women in Africa? Would you hide that from your children? If so, why? Are African women inappropriate? Is there some kind of fear that if we start accepting breastfeeding in public without freaking out about covering up, women will eventually start walking around bare-breasted all the time? Lots of questions pop up from this statement that are worth examining.

I personally think it should be culturally appropriate for women to bare a breast for a brief second in order to latch a baby on, no matter where in the world they are. There’s nothing sexual or inappropriate in that act. I think it should be way more culturally appropriate than, say, going to Hooters. Our priorities are a tad bit skewed when it comes to what’s culturally appropriate regarding breasts. If we want to get all righteous about the appropriateness of breast exposure, let’s direct our energies at movies, music videos, billboards, magazines, and other popular media. Leave moms who are trying to feed their babies out of it.

And if you really don’t want to see a woman feed her baby in public, don’t look. Don’t make her feel ashamed, don’t exile her to the bathroom, don’t make erroneous assumptions about her motives, don’t compare feeding her baby to defecating, don’t make hypocritical cultural statements, don’t make it harder to do than it already is. Just don’t look. It really is that simple.


We Recommend: Yoga and Psychotherapy Group for Survivors of Trauma

Essential Dialogues LLC

Reclaim Your Body…Transcend Your Trauma

Yoga and Group Therapy Intervention for Survivors of Trauma

Benefiting the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA)


What: Trauma-sensitive yoga group combined with group therapy

When: New round starts August 2014 for 12 weeks (2-hour sessions)

For Whom: Women-identified survivors of trauma

Where: Denver

Cost: $60 per session (2 hours)

We know from research that the effects of traumas live in our bodies. If you are a survivor of trauma feelings of being overwhelmed are not lost on you. You might feel like you are on a rollercoaster that you just cannot get off of no matter how hard you try. It does not have to be this way. This group will show you how!

Don’t take our word for it! Here is what past clients have said: “I feel taller, stronger, braver!,” “I am more forgiving of myself.” “I intentionally hurt myself less.” “Having 2 hours where it was safe to be myself without punishment was a gift I will always cherish.”

No prior knowledge or experience with yoga is required to attend. This group will be a “closed group.” This means that no new participants will join after the group begins. All participants will start and end the group together. This format is conducive to building trust within the group – a quality that is crucial for healing to occur.

Want to join? Need more information?

Click here, Call 720-295-8067, or email drmerchant@essentialdialogues.com 

Limited space available. Call today!

All participants will attend a brief pre-group meeting with Dr. Merchant to learn more about the group and determine if the group will be a good fit for you.

**If you identify as a man and are interested in this group please call or email. A men’s group is a possibility.**


Article Recommendation: Why Should I write my birth story?”

Article Recommendation: Why Should I write my birth story?”

Check out this great article about the importance of writing our birth stories. 

Interested in sharing your story? The Catalyst Center is now offering a monthly Birth Circle group! Call us at 720-675-7123 to learn more.

Book Review: “Hold Me Tight” by Susan Johnson (review by Kendra Doukas, MS, LMFT)

Kendra Doukas, MS, LMFTToday, one of our therapists, Kendra Doukas, MS, LMFT, is sharing her review of the book “Hold Me Tight” by Susan Johnson

I just finished re-reading what I consider to be some of the best information about couples and relationships out there, Dr. Susan Johnson’s “Hold Me Tight: Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” (2008). Dr. Johnson is the founder of Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy and her book explores the attachment principles behind human connection, specifically within intimate partnerships. For many people, this book serves as a complete reframe of conflict within couples. We often try and tackle relationship conflict with tools and skill building. While these things are important, they often miss the mark.

In the book, Dr. Johnson beautifully illustrates how the basis of all human interaction is rooted in emotional connection and attachment. The way we feel safe or not in our partnerships mirrors the way we felt safe our not as infants with our caregivers. If we have a secure attachment with these fundamental people then research finds that we both give and seek love more readily. As it is put in the book, securely attached couples “roll with the hurts better.” These couples are also found to have healthier balance of separateness and togetherness, and tend to even like themselves better.

When we fight with our partner, we are essentially protesting the fact that we feel emotionally disconnected from him or her. Tools and skill-building in this case just won’t cut it. They may help temporarily, but they are kind of like taking pain relievers for chronic headaches that are caused by needing to wear eyeglasses. Learning more skills won’t hurt, but it also certainly won’t solve the problem.

Dr. Johnson describes couple interaction as a dance, “The more I –fill in the blank–, the more you—fill in the blank–, which causes me to continue to—fill in the blank” and the cycle continues over and over again. This is why it feels to couples like they have the same argument over and over again. One week it might be about the dishes and another about parenting responsibilities, but it is the same exhausting fight and the same hurt feelings. They only way to solve the couple conflict is for both people to understand the dance in which they are trapped in its entirety and what their individual steps in the dance look like. Then the couple can unite against the dance they are caught in (which is the problem) and move past it.

Although this is quite a paradigm shift for most of us, I believe it is a hopeful one. If we can master our understanding of the cycles we are caught in, then we can change them. And even more exciting is the fact that once they are altered, the purpose of the fight is diminished. The hopelessness so many couples feel can be transformed into feeling safe and secure so that when issues arise, they are much less of a blow.

~ Kendra Doukas, MS, LMFT

Kendra is a therapist at The Catalyst Center. Her specialties include:

Interested in learning more about Kendra or booking a free consultation with her? Kendra Doukas, M.S. LMFT can be reached by calling the Catalyst Center main office at 720-675-7123 or by emailing us directly at CatalystCenterLLC@gmail.com


Article Recommendation: Gay Mormons: Wendy and Tom Montgomery Lead Push To Change LDS Church Stance on Homosexuality

En joy this uplifting article from The Huffington Post about how the Mormon parents of a gay teenager responded to his coming out.

Gay Mormons: Wendy And Tom Montgomery Lead Push To Change LDS Church Stance On Homosexuality



Article Recommendation: Home Depot Targeted Gay Employees For Firing After Financial Crisis, Lawsuit Claims

Article Recommendation: Home Depot Targeted Gay Employees For Firing After Financial Crisis, Lawsuit Claims

Home Depot Targeted Gay Employees For Firing After Financial Crisis, Lawsuit Claims

interesting article from The Huffington Post