News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Articles written by Audry Van Houweling

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  • The multitudes we all contain

    Audry Van Houweling PMHNP|Updated Jun 11, 2024

    One of my first patients was a pastor. He was esteemed and well-respected — a pillar in the community. I was a newbie in the small town where his roots ran deep. He was a man of conviction and compassion. He spoke with authority. And he was also sometimes hopeless — and desperate. At 26 years old, I sat at my desk sporting my newly printed diploma. I was trying my best to hide my imposter syndrome. Still shaky in my confidence, I kept questioning how could a man who has gui... Full story

  • An ode to Mother Nature

    Audry Van Houweling PMHNP|Updated May 7, 2024

    I am sitting at my office peering at the Three Sisters peeking through the trees surrounded by soft blankets of blushed pink and wisps of orange cream sunsetting on their peaks. I have a lot of charting to do, but tonight feels ripe for a little procrastination. I would rather stare at the mountains. I find myself pondering at how our natural world, with its beauty, renewal, and resilience continually provides an endurable response to the ugliness and suffering our world... Full story

  • Make better decisions

    Audry Van Houweling PMHNP|Updated Mar 12, 2024

    Buying a piece of custom furniture seems like one of those adult rites of passage. In the latter half of my 30s, I have decided to pursue my first custom piece — a couch. Throughout my nomadic adult years, I have been accustomed to second-hand finds complimenting my frugality and boxed IKEA-ish pieces sure to draw out a few expletives as one navigates assembly and too often, reassembly. I feel ready for the custom, “no-assembly needed,” white glove experience. After a prolo... Full story

  • How to make that resolution stick in 2024

    Audry Van Houweling PMHNP|Updated Jan 30, 2024

    How's that New Year's resolution coming along? As I write this, we are just over a week into 2024, which means according to researchers, it has been long enough for 23 percent of us to have not maintained our 2024 aspirations. Still going strong? Kudos to you, but if February rolls around and that resolution has taken a back seat, you are still in good company alongside an estimated 43 percent of folks who shared your month-long resolve. If that resolution happens to stick,...

  • Finding rest amid uncertainty

    Audry Van Houweling PMHNP|Updated Nov 21, 2023

    When you sit with patients long enough, you start picking up on patterns. Individual wellness is often connected to the collective, and with our digitalized world becoming smaller, that collective is more interconnected than ever. Feelings and sentiments are more palpable and like a contagion, can spread. While we may not ourselves have experienced a particular trauma or loss, we have immediate access to those who have, creating a breeding ground for secondary anxiety, fear, s... Full story

  • Radical responsibility

    Audry Van Houweling PMHNP|Updated Sep 26, 2023

    It feels good to have a scapegoat sometimes. The perception that we ourselves are free from blame, and that our challenges are the fault of circumstance or others, is an alluring reprieve from our own culpability. In our attempts to bypass blame, we also put our scapegoats on a pedestal, holding the power to hijack our sense of agency and joy. We live in a shame- and blame-based culture, too frequently practicing outdated beliefs that shaming and punishment are prerequisites... Full story

  • Lady, get lost - a case for solo adventuring

    Audry Van Houweling PMHNP|Updated Jul 4, 2023

    As I write this, I am sitting solo at my camp deep in the heart of the Steens Wilderness. One eye on my journal, and the other on my campfire grappling to sustain itself after a day of unexpected pre-solstice snow and wrathful rounds of high winds and hail. Generally clear this time of year, this time the skies are angry. The sun is finally making its debut out from the west, lighting up the sharp cliffsides of the Little Blitzen River. I can hear the booms of the nighthawks... Full story

  • Your Story Matters – Money on the mind

    Audry Van Houweling PMHNP|Updated Apr 11, 2023

    In my day job, I spend a lot of time talking to patients about relationships. To partners, to children, to coworkers, to themselves, but more frequently, the conversation has shifted to a personal relationship with something too often ignored in the health care office: money. And as it turns out, money has a way of impacting just about every other relationship. In the wake of inflation, warnings of a looming recession, climbing interest rates, and increasing cost of living, mo... Full story

  • The paradox of tolerance

    Audry Van Houweling PMHNP|Updated Apr 5, 2023

    In the world of mental health, we contend with the abstract intersections of nature versus nurture and what behaviors we have agency over versus those we may not. The role of accountability can be hard to define. How do we define who should “know better,” versus who should be excused? When the layers of trauma and struggle are excavated, and the context of a person’s defenses brought to the surface, bad behavior can be interpreted as remnants of survival. Where, then, does... Full story

  • Modern masculinity and mental health

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Oct 18, 2022

    Note: The list of men I respect and admire is long. This commentary is from a place of care rather than critique. I am an observer and welcome other perspectives, and I think more dialogue is needed. On August 28, my hometown of Bend was added to the long list of mass shootings as 20-year-old Ethan Miller fired over 100 rounds with a legally purchased AR-15 rifle through a local grocery store, killing two and wounding multiple others before taking his own life. Since 1966, of the 196 mass shootings that have taken place, all... Full story

  • Your Story Matters - Faulty foundations and future directions

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Aug 9, 2022

    What I enjoy most about my job are the stories. Tales of resilience, trudging through struggle, and persistence that is awe-inspiring. Tales of celebration and transformation, allowing lightness to be just as present as the heaviness. To have the privilege to bear witness to the rawness of life — the vulnerability that may have never been spoken outside the walls of my office, is an opportunity I try not to take for granted. While diplomas hang on my office wall constituting some level of due diligence for my job, my... Full story

  • The consequences of unbridled entitlement

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Mar 22, 2022

    It was September 1939. My maternal grandmother was 15 when the wails of air raid sirens broadcasted throughout her home city of Warsaw, Poland. The Nazi invasion had begun. Targeted as “intellectuals” by the Nazis, my great grandparents were killed in short order. My grandmother, spared for her youth, was shipped to a forced labor camp, where she later escaped, joined the underground resistance, was apprehended again and imprisoned in Germany, where she remained until the end of the war. Intergenerational trauma has been sci... Full story

  • A New Year’s wish for 2022

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Jan 4, 2022

    Feelings of powerlessness are insidious. While sometimes an opportunity for productive action, most often they plunge us into a state of primitive adrenaline: fight, flight, or freeze. These feelings may echo times of powerlessness from times past. They have a knack for triggering the shadows of our inner child, our greatest fears, and fortifying our defenses primed from traumas gone by. When faced with trauma, it is not simply the event itself per se that is damaging, but the surrounding feelings of powerlessness themselves... Full story

  • Prioritizing resilience over stability

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Dec 15, 2021

    Life is hard. There is no way around this fact. If you are lucky enough to have resources and privilege to bypass certain stressors and outcomes, some of life’s curveballs may be dodged, but ultimately, we will all experience our own versions of grief, heartache, trauma, and pain. The circumstances of our world the past two years have forced many of us to become far more intimate with our emotional fragility, as the triggers and vulnerability to emotional distress have been vast. More isolated, with fewer coping resources, m... Full story

  • Mental health and the housing crisis

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Feb 9, 2021

    It’s true, Dorothy — there’s no place like home. In 2014 my husband and I started the search for our first home in the idyllic and pastoral town of Silverton. Like many millennials, we had embraced nomadism, hopping from one college town to the next, finishing our degrees, working when we could, and doing our best to scrape up enough savings to make homeownership a reality. When we arrived in Silverton in the summer of 2014, we were pampered by a weekend-long real-estate tour, complete with luncheons and leisurely tou... Full story

  • The new health metric — capacity for compassion

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Jan 19, 2021

    As I sit down to write this, nearly 375,00 Americans have left us from COVID-19. Many of these deaths were in isolation, away from loved ones, and the chance for processing and goodbyes interrupted by restrictions, adding to the isolation of those grieving. Thousands (if not millions) more who have been impacted by the virus continue to contend with long-term and sometimes debilitating symptoms that make the motions of life seem daunting. While inexplicable, painful, and unfortunate physical and emotional calamities have... Full story

  • Hope — despite it all

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Dec 23, 2020

    It’s been a tough year. Tough for individuals, tough for families, tough for communities, and tough for the greater world. Layers of “tough,” so to speak. As 2020 comes to a close, I think most of us have been up close and personal with the “tough.” Many of us have taken inventory of the hardships, which weigh heavier for some more than others. What may be more elusive, yet some days the only force that keeps us going, is hope. Hope is personal. It is subjective. My concept of hope and how I go about seeking it is likely to... Full story

  • I’m tired, you’re tired, we’re all tired: Let’s talk burnout

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Nov 17, 2020

    Aren’t we all feeling so invigorated lately? Life has been so dang swell, right? It is just so easy these days to rise and shine with a smile, ready to seize the day! Don’t forget the glass is half-full so please turn that frown upside down. OK. Insert sarcasm here. Enough of the toxic positivity. In all honesty, 2020 can kiss my... glass that has not always seemed half full. Yes, there have been meaningful moments and hints of silver linings, but let’s be honest, this has been no cakewalk. Let’s talk burnout. Here is a li... Full story

  • Navigating the muddy waters of grief

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Oct 13, 2020

    Loss is part of life. No one escapes it. Grief will come for us all at one time or another. Nobody gets to claim the trophy on having suffered the “most grief.” There is no such competition. Ultimately, the worst grief is your own — the loss you are personally experiencing. Grief is quite simply, the death of something or someone. Whether that is from the death of a loved one, a job, routine, a relationship, gatherings, friends, financial security, or safety, the origin(s) of your grief may remain relevant, per... Full story

  • Challenging confirmation bias

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Sep 16, 2020

    After my years working in mental health, I have come to recognize that people tend to find what they are looking for. It is the conscious and subconscious quest to validate our worldviews, justify our positions, and hold on to our territory that can be both transforming and very limiting. Multiple people can have the same experience and have vastly different interpretations and reactions. Most of us want to believe our interpretation is valid and therefore, tend to side with information that reinforces our mindset regardless... Full story

  • COVID stole my dopamine, now what?

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Jul 22, 2020

    Excitement. Pleasure. Novelty. Anticipation. Reward. The “zest,” the “looking forward to,” and the “passion.” The common denominator? Dopamine. It is the brain chemical we chase in our society and what we have a hard time living without. We must thank dopamine for the gusto it gives us, the inspiration, the drive, and innovation, but in our popular culture so reinforced by a mindset of scarcity where whatever “is” is simply not enough, dopamine has hypnotized so many of us into restlessness, discontentment, and distraction... Full story

  • Our health depends on justice and equality

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Jun 9, 2020

    Working in functional medicine, a form of medicine that examines root causes and dedicated to a holistic vision of wellness, it is not enough to talk about nutrition, exercise, meditation, and gut health. I would be negligent as a practitioner to dismiss the broader forces inequity, discrimination, and socioeconomic status have upon the wellness of individuals and communities. Mainstream medicine continues to be driven by insurance and pharmaceutical companies forging a narrow path by which “healthcare” must take place. Thi... Full story

  • Your Story Matters: Holding on to empathy in a time of self-preservation

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Mar 31, 2020

    As I write this I am sitting in a cabin alongside the Metolius River in Camp Sherman. The only sound is the trickling of water just beyond the back porch. I am writing on a note pad because there is no phone or internet and my laptop is dead. There is a fire, food in the antiquated fridge, and a claw-foot tub where I plan on spending a good portion of my evening reading a book about survival in Alaska. I am theoretically supposed to depart tomorrow, but my introvert self is pondering how I might negotiate a longer stay. Part... Full story

  • Sex, spirit and shame

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Mar 18, 2020

    Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about spirituality. Let’s talk about shame. The interplay between the three are powerful, complex, and deserve honest discussion. When we talk about the need to feel known, the freedom to be vulnerable, the drive to connect with and understand, to give and to receive, are we talking about sexuality or are we talking about spirituality? When we lie naked with another, versus baring our soul to a greater power, is the implied vulnerability and trust really so different? Could it be that sexua... Full story

  • Owning my wellness to love you more — a Valentine’s Day promise

    Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP|Updated Feb 12, 2020

    One could name a lot of reasons to be stressed these days. Putting aside personal concerns, simply turning on the news can raise anybody’s blood pressure. Much of our social economy thrives on fear-based messaging that adds to unease and uncertainty. Finances, family stress, job woes, academic pressure, stable housing, and social isolation are among many anxieties we might be facing. Feelings of overwhelm, worry, and pessimism can be hard to dodge. Even worse can be feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness. When such negati... Full story

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