Alvin Bonds

@alvin-bonds-ii | contributor
Alvin Bonds, II is a private practice counselor in Tennessee who works with children, families, and adults with various presenting issues.  Alvin has obtained the following licenses:  National Certified Counselor, Approved Clinical Supervisor, Registered Play Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor with Mental Health Service Provider and Licensed Marital and Family Therapist.  Alvin has 13 plus years of experience working with individuals in a group home, inpatient psychiatric, alcohol and drug residential, mobile crisis and outpatient therapy.  Alvin is also currently working on a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision.
Alvin Bonds

6 Things to Remember After a Young Person Dies by Suicide

1. There is no single reason someone dies by suicide. There are many factors that may cause suicide. An individual may have been struggling with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, mood changes and more. I think factors such as bullying or harassment should also be taken into consideration. 2. Give yourself permission to heal and feel. The loss of life is impactful no matter the circumstances, so give yourself permission to take time off from work or school and allow yourself time to heal from the loss. 3. The way a child grieves is similar to an adult, but it is not always identical. Keep an open line of communication between you and a child or teen who may be affected by the loss of life. Emotions such as sadness, anger, hopelessness and guilt are some of the feelings individuals may experience after the loss of a life. 4. Don’t underestimate the effects of the loss of life. It is not necessary for a child or teen to have had a personal relationship with the individual who died by suicide — the loss of life can be far-reaching and have a ripple effect on both children and adults. 5. Don’t be afraid to talk and don’t be afraid to listen. Friends and classmates of the child or teen who died by suicide might experience a range of emotions and may have several thoughts and questions running through their heads and will most likely need someone to process these thoughts with. It’s OK to listen and it’s OK to not know what to say. 6. Utilize supports that are available. Mental health professionals are available to assist individuals in grief processing. Thereare many support groups available and materials online to help individuals who are grieving, as well as providing support to individuals who may be currently having thoughts of suicide or self-harm. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 , the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Getty image via Feverpitched

Alvin Bonds

How to Show Someone With OCD That You Love Them

You may not know this about me, but I struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).  I want to be loved. I need to be loved. I know sometimes it is hard to love me, but I need to be loved. Here’s what I want those who love me to know: 1. Understand routine is important to me. In my head, I have already planned and mapped out how many minutes of sleep I can get based on what time I go to sleep (not to bed). I have also figured out what time, by the second, I need to leave my house in order to get to school/work and how fast I need to drive to beat traffic. I complete my hygiene and put on my clothes in a specific order. Otherwise, I’ll walk out of the house headed to work in house shoes or leave the door unlocked or the garage open. Sometimes, just giving me a few minutes to complete my routine means the world to me and makes me feel loved. 2. Understand my brain processes millions of thoughts a minute. About 20 percent of these thoughts actually make it out of my mouth. The other thoughts are running too fast or I get anxious to say them. This happens because I don’t think you want to listen to them or that I’m not making sense, which is why I may talk fast and in run-on sentences! Sometimes, just repeating back to me what I said is helpful. This let’s me know someone is listening and that I am making sense, even if the actual words I am saying make no sense. Realizing someone is right there, present with me in that moment, makes me feel loved. 3. Understand that change sometimes gives me panic attacks. You probably don’t realize this because I plan for change way in advance so I can anticipate every possible outcome and plan accordingly. It is not that I do not want or like change. It just sometimes completely throws my routine, one I had mastered and perfected, off. Now, I have to create another one. Please, explain to me why the change is happening. Please, give me an opportunity to ask questions about the change. Please, do not take it any of this personal. My concern with change is more that I will make a mistake or let someone down. I need an opportunity to “reprogram” and create a new routine. Having someone listen and empathize with me through this process makes me feel loved. 4. Understand I am always absorbing information and knowledge. This is not to be a know it all, but I have to be prepared for everything and have an answer for something if I am asked a question. If I seem boastful because I know something, then it is usually not because I want to look better than someone. It is more of a personal success of a challenge I created for myself. Please, allow me an opportunity to share my perspective and insight with you. It does not matter to me if you apply what I am offering or even agree with it. Having someone acknowledge the work I have accomplished in acquiring all of this knowledge makes me feel loved. 5. Understand sometimes it is hard to be me. A person’s individual struggle with OCD is similar to others, but they are not all alike. It is sometimes exhilarating and thrilling to be able to get the questions right during trivia, a board game or to be considered a walking dictionary or encyclopedia. It is also frustrating when it takes me extra time to complete a task than it does other people. Another frustration are places like yard sales, where things are not lined up or in symmetrical order is hard for me to take. You don’t realize how hard it is not to go somewhere and fix a painting that is hanging crooked on a wall. For me, not fixing the crooked painting is progress! Expressions of love, giving me a hug, leaving me a note, sending me a text message or just sitting down with me are ways that help me not obsess so much and it is an eternal reminder I am loved. Of course, this is only a small percentage of the ways to love someone with OCD, but you have a starting point. Image via Thinkstock. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Alvin Bonds

A Letter to the Teacher of My Child With Anxiety

I know you have a lot of stress, dealing with a classroom full of students who can be extremely difficult to manage and motivate at times. I know the expectations and demands on teachers continue to grow each year, whether from federal, state, cultural, socioeconomic or others. I also know the recognition you deserve and financial compensation you receive is grossly inadequate for the work you do every day with each of your students. I also know you may not receive consistent support from parents or guardians of the students with whom you work. Please know not all parents are this way. Some parents want to support you as a person who will have a large amount of influence in their child’s life. With this being said, I am asking for your help in working with a student in your class who faces challenges with anxiety. I know you have every single other student in your classroom to manage, but I would like to offer you a little perspective on  a child dealing with anxiety . 1. As their teacher, you may not recognize a child is experiencing anxiety. Anxiety is when a child experiences nervousness or worry about a particular thing to the point where it interferes with the child’s ability to function, including eating, drinking, sitting or completing work. One child experiencing increased anxiety at school may start crying when he is called on to answer a question. Another child experiencing increased anxiety at school may act out or cause disruptions in class. In both instances, the child is experiencing a fight, flight or freeze response in order to cope with what is happening. Sometimes, these behaviors may seem like rebellion, defiance or just downright stubbornness. Sometimes that may be the case, but there are instances when it is not. 2. The child may not know he or she is experiencing extreme anxiety. Unless a child is seeing a mental health professional and has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the child may not recognize what she is experiencing is an increase in anxiety to a point where it interferes with her work. Even if a child is seeing a counselor for their anxiety, she may not recognize she has been triggered when her response to your question is to stare at you and not say anything (which would be a freeze response). She is not always being disrespectful, but is simultaneously trying to slow down her heart rate, trying to quiet the thoughts in head, trying to avoid crying so her peers won’t laugh at her and a whole list of other racing thoughts in the moment. 3. You have the ability to help my child through increased anxiety or even an anxiety or panic attack. Please know not all behavior is defiance. Sometimes my child’s anxiety becomes overwhelmingly debilitating for him. Having an open body language when communicating with him may help. Having your hands open, rather than folding your arms when talking to him, can help. Consider the tone of your voice when speaking to him and his reaction to you. Pay attention to his body language in class. Do you see him squirming in his seat when you’re teaching? Does he fidget when having to stand up in front of the class or give an answer? These don’t always mean my child is experiencing anxiety, but they are some examples of indications my child has experienced an anxiety trigger. Using slow hand movements, taking deep breaths or even slowing down your speech may invite my child to mirror your body language and communication, which would also help him through the anxiety he is experiencing in the moment. 4. Please take a moment and speak with my child individually and let him or her know you support him. My child sometimes feels like you’re saying he’s stupid because he doesn’t understand the work. I know you may not be saying this to my child, but please understand this is a feeling he is experiencing. One thing you can do to help my child during these times is to validate his feelings by simply letting him know you recognize something happened in class and you want to see how you can help. He may not initially be forthcoming to you about his anxiety because of embarrassment. Please let him know you are there to support him and that he can feel free to speak to you if he needs to. I know your job is not to coddle or necessarily nurture feelings, but I do believe a few intentional steps by you may yield large success from my child in your class. 5. Would you consider develop adopting a culture of safety for your classroom? I’m not speaking about safety in terms of fire drills or locking the doors, but rather safety regarding feelings or the mental health needs of my child and any other child. This could be something as simple as you or the school social worker/counselor discussing anxiety with the students and offering ways to manage anxiety. Educating the class about anxiety and how normal it is may actually help in decreasing anxiety for my child or another child who may experience situational anxiety. Some other ideas you might want to include: essential oils, deep breathing, mindfulness techniques and soft music. I’m not asking you to raise my child or provide mental health treatment to him. I’m asking you to join with me, as we help my child work through any barriers that may arise and affect his ability to learn and be successful in your class. Thank you for the work you do for my child and all children you teach. Image via Thinkstock.

Alvin Bonds

Shopping With Anxiety Is Like Playing Pac-Man

Shopping with anxiety is like playing a game of Pac-Man. You’re trying to catch all of the dots before the ghosts get you! Get Ready! You prepare yourself for the shopping trip way before it’s time to actually go, even if it’s just to Walmart or Target. You’ve already ordered what can be ordered online, so you don’t have to go to the store at all but have come to the realization there are a few things you need to get so you get mentally prepared. You have to decide if what you are wearing is appropriate to wear in the store but not too flashy as to draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Once you have your list of things you want to get (which will be very few to avoid unnecessary time in the store), you do a mental check in your head to see if there’s anything you may be forgetting. You look at the time to make sure it’s not a “peak” shopping period, so the possibility of running into someone you know is minimal. OK, so you have your clothes, money, shopping list (paper or phone because either can be used as a barrier or excuse not to talk to someone). Now we can drive to the store, listening to whatever theme song of the day to pump you up or calm you down to get in and out of the store at record time. Starting the Game So, you have arrived at the store and are now racing to get all of the dots before the “ghosts” see you. Your feet might as well be roller skates because you’re walking so fast. Even if you see someone in the parking lot, they’ll see how fast you’re walking so they should know you don’t have time for chitchat. You quickly grab a shopping cart, even if you won’t need it because it can be used as a barrier later. You walk into the store and scan from right to left to make sure you don’t see anyone you know, and if you do, you’ll go in the opposite direction. And if you make eye contact, you’ll look at your list or look around as if you’re in another world and keeping walking away from them. Whew! They didn’t see you! You slow down to catch your breath because your heart is beating a mile a minute, but you can’t stop walking because someone might accidentally bump into you and then you may have to talk to them! So, you pick back up the pace to continue on, ever watching for anybody that may pop up, racing through the store to pick up everything on your list as if your life depended on it. You Spot a Ghost You see someone you know. Ahhhhhh! Inside your head you are screaming and your palms are starting to sweat and you are quickly running possibilities through your mind on what the best course of action is because they cannot see you. The person is far off from you so you have time to run. You duck into another aisle and pretend to look at something and watch from the corner of your eye to make sure they have passed. Whew! You see them pass and you go another way to continue shopping just in case they forget something and may turn around and see you. Almost Finished You’ve done all of your shopping and are headed to check out. You avoid those “death traps” if at all possible — you know, the registers that have people there. You quickly scan the self check-out line to make sure there aren’t too many people over there and that there is no one you know. When the coast is clear, you dash in and ring everything up as quickly as you can without looking up because someone may see you and you’ll have to talk. If you don’t have cash to pay, you’ll have to use your card, so you make sure your total amount due comes under $50 — anything over will require a signature and that’s more time in the store. If by chance you go over, you’ll quickly scribble something on the signature line so you can get out. You’ve already bagged up the items and have them loaded in the cart by the time the receipt comes out. You grab it out of the machine as quickly as you can and walk quickly, almost running as if someone was chasing you, out of the store to your vehicle, which you purposely parked as closely to the door as possible for a quick getaway. Whew! Mission accomplished! Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Alvin Bonds

Depression Songs: 'What Makes You Beautiful' by One Direction Helps Me

Music is known to have strong healing and therapeutic properties. From playing music to a baby in their mother’s womb to listening to music while cleaning the house, music has the ability to completely change a person’s mood. I could easily listen to dubstep on the way to work, Maroon 5 or Beyoncé at work, Fall Out Boy on the way home and Ed Sheeran or the soundtrack to “Les Misèrables” as I fall asleep. Some people, such as myself, struggle with depression, self-esteem and body image issues. I was having a day when I was in the depths of my depression and my self-esteem was low. I was driving in my car, listening to the radio and “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction came on. As I continued to listen, I soon discovered I started feeling much better. I realized it was the song! So, I pulled it up on YouTube and started playing it over and over, listening to the actual lyrics, rather than blasting the chorus loudly in my music studio, a.k.a. my car! Here are the lyrics to the song that stood out to me You’re insecure, Don’t know what for… I am overweight. I have always been self-conscious about my weight, having been made fun of most of my life and never feeling good enough. It was weight for me that made me insecure. It may be something different for someone else: speaking abilities, education, knowledge, being a man, woman or simply just being different. You’re turning heads when you walk through the door. Don’t need makeup, to cover up. Being the way that you are is enough. I never noticed I was turning heads when I walked through the door. As someone who also deals with anxiety, I was too busy trying to get through the door as fast as I could so no one would notice me. During grade school, I would walk into a room and my peers would start to laugh at me. I got used to expecting this in all situations and tried to avoid this proverbial walk of shame. Truly, I had nothing to be ashamed of, but that was always hard for me to see. Everyone else in the room can see it. Everyone else but you. Has someone ever given you a compliment that was hard for you to receive? You might still not believe them because you doubt yourself. I was always getting compliments from people for different things about myself. It was the glares and bullying that made it hard for me to accept the compliments and realize I am beautiful (awesome, legendary or whatever adjective that indicates your “boss” status). I don’t have to allow the negativity of some people to affect how I see myself because mine is the most important opinion that matters. Baby, you light up my world like nobody else. The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed. But when you smile at the ground it ain’t hard to tell. You don’t know, Oh, oh, You don’t know you’re beautiful. I would usually look at the ground and avoid eye contact with people. This way, I would not have to put up with the disappointment and disgust in their eyes. Although, I came to realize much of that fear was irrational; furthermore, who cares what they think? This is easier said than done, right? I stopped at a stoplight, looked in the mirror and started singing the chorus to myself. It wasn’t long before the tears started streaming down my face, as if someone had just given me the largest hug in the world. I began feeling better about myself. Minutes before, I was feeling like a piece of crap and like I had no one. Once I started singing the song, it occurred to me there may be times when there is no one else there. It is in those times I have to encourage myself, look in the mirror and remind myself I am beautiful! If only you saw what I can see, you’d understand why I want you so desperately. Right now I’m looking at you and I can’t believe. You don’t know, Oh, oh, You don’t know you’re beautiful. I listened to this part and I started remembering all of the amazing things and accomplishments I’ve made. I remembered how awesome I am!  Even though my thoughts were negative and pessimistic about myself and I started feeling depressed, I stopped for a moment. I started singing this part as loudly as I could, pointed at the mirror and reminded myself that I’m beautiful. Image via OneDirectionVEVO.