Jump to content
  • Sky
  • Blueberry
  • Slate
  • Blackcurrant
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberry
  • Orange
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Emerald
  • Chocolate
  • Charcoal

All Activity

This stream auto-updates     

  1. Yesterday
  2. Thank you so much dawn and paul X!
  3. ToJames & Jamsie Happy Birthday We hope you have a wonderful day, We hope you have loads of cards and prezzies. All Our Love Dawn & Paul. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  4. Last week
  5. Phobiasupportforum

    Holiday Fever: Causes and Cures

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being told when I’m supposed to feel happy, generous, and loving toward absolutely everyone. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a Bah Humbug Scrooge sort of person. I just want to be me, meaning to be happy and generous when I’m feeling that way in my heart, not when prescribed to be, well, saintly. Enter the holiday season: Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Kwanza, Christmas, and probably others that may be beneath my radar. Whatever we celebrate or don’t, we’re bombarded with messages that promote goodwill toward all. Actually, I like Thanksgiving because it reminds me to be grateful for all the bounty in my life — my husband and son, my dear friends, other family members, my patients, my work and those who support it, including my writing friends, publishers, and readers of my book, Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love. The Problem with Holidays But I also have a problem with Thanksgiving and other holidays. My challenge of getting through them calmly is small compared to many whose families have gotten more complex than mine. Competing and conflicting loyalties often exist, as divorces, remarriages, blended families, and joint custodies of children have become so common. Thanksgiving in the abstract is lovely, yet it’s about the loneliest time of the year for me. It was my favorite holiday while I was growing up. My mother cooked an amazing meal with turkey, stuffing, candied sweet potatoes topped with melted, browned marshmallows, and much more. Friends and family members enjoyed feasting together. My sister and I would eat too much and then each of us would collapse on a nearby couch and nap for a while, satiated with food, family and friendship. So what’s the problem now? As a New Yorker transplanted to San Francisco, I find that Thanksgiving isn’t what it used to be. For a while, it was still good. At first, I went home to New York for Thanksgiving. The occasion felt warm, but the weather was cold so I switched to visiting in the summer. Sadness Can Happen Around Holidays My dear friend, Mimi, used to host wonderful Thanksgiving dinners in her San Francisco home. All single, we felt like an extended family, at least for that day. Sadly and too young, Mimi passed away some time ago. By then, my parents and my husband’s were longer alive. Thanksgiving isn’t my favorite holiday now. It’s when I remember what used to be, when it was a time I felt so connected, nurtured, loving, and loved unconditionally. My husband and I have hosted some Thanksgiving dinners. For a while, until a few years ago, our guests included a married couple who lived nearby who and were good friends of ours. I cooked turkey, stuffing, and sweet potatoes like my mother’s. The wife’s elderly parents came, too. Her father said one time, “This is the best Thanksgiving I ever had.” The couple moved to Arizona. The parents passed away. Finding Ways to Cope I tend to feel sad as this holiday approaches. I try to make the best of it. My husband and I go out to dinner, just the two of us; or we eat a light meal at home with some form of turkey; turkey breast or turkey burgers or turkey pot pie. No reason to cook a whole turkey. We’ve spent a few Thanksgivings at a ski area a few hours away. We ate turkey sandwiches. Holiday fever, sadness or angst of some kind, creeps up on many of us. So what’s the cure? Gritting our teeth and willing ourselves to make the best of it? Recognizing and Honoring Feelings That’s something, but we can do better — by allowing ourselves to feel whatever comes up for us. If it’s sadness, we can frown, complain, or shed a tear or too. Instead of ignoring the feelings and hoping they’ll go away, recognize and honor them, because if we don’t, they’ll fester. Our feelings are meaningful. They’ll pass if we acknowledge them, and doing so can release other feelings, the kind that free us up to be more optimistic, creative, or resourceful. We may recall earlier holidays spent with loved ones and regret that these times are past. It’s important to grieve major losses. It also helps to remember that we’ve been blessed to have had these people and joyful times in our lives, and that we can relive them, at least in our memories. Memories can bring a smile. One of mine wasn’t funny at the time, but looking back much later… Early in my marriage we had my in-laws over for Thanksgiving dinner. I’d knocked myself out, cooked a turkey with stuffing and all the trimmings, and pumpkin pie. My mother-in-law said, “My daughter’s turkey is better.” When I look back on this, I can’t help grinning. It’s fodder for mother-in-law jokes that comedians tell. The Cure for Holiday Fever Even if we don’t start the season with the warm fuzzy Hallmark card feelings, there’s a cure for holiday fever: Allow yourself to feel your true feelings. They’re valid. And they will pass. Stay with them until more comforting feelings surface — such as feelings of gratitude for what we do have, e.g., a spouse, children, friends, family members, other loved ones, work we enjoy, enough money for necessities, and so on. A spirit of generosity and goodwill might just emerge that results in volunteering at a “soup kitchen” to serve a Thanksgiving or other holiday meal for the needy. Holiday fever. The best way over it is through it. If you see signs in yourself of this malady, prepare the cure. Allow yourself to remember things past and to treasure them. But know you have a future too, one in which you can fill with plans to create your own kind of happiness during the season. View the full article
  6. To Dino Happy Birthday We hope you have a wonderful day, We hope you have loads of cards and prezzies. All Our Love Dawn & Paul. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  7. Phobiasupportforum

    Psychology Around the Net: November 10, 2018

    Ready to catch up on the latest in this week’s mental health news? Great! This week’s Psychology Around the Net gets you up to speed on new guidelines for managing physical health with a severe mental illness, suggestions on using podcasts to help you sleep, how you can rewire your brain for creativity (but also why pushing creativity isn’t cool), and more. The Best Podcasts for Falling Asleep: It’s not unusual for many of us to be the proud owners of brains that like to spiral into late-night anxiety when it’s time to go to sleep. Could a good (but not too good!) podcast help? Check out why the answer might be “yes,” some suggestions for podcasts to try, and tips to consider before you hit the hay with your chosen podcast. WHO Guidelines Address Need for Physical Health Management in Severe Mental Illness: The World Health Organization (WHO) has released evidence-based guidelines to help mental health professionals and adult patients with severe mental health disorders manage the patients’ physical health conditions with recommendations regarding healthy lifestyle behaviors, psychosocial support, and taking into consideration the possible interactions between medications prescribed for mental and physical health conditions. Panthers’ Hiring of a Mental Health Clinician Is a ‘Game-Changer’: While most National Football League (NFL) teams make available licensed mental health professionals for their players and staff members on a contract basis, the Carolina Panthers have hired Tish Guerin, the first active in-house psychological clinician with an office at the Bank of America Stadium. Want to Get Happier? Get Out of Your Own Way: Many people don’t realize they’re the ones standing in the way of their own happiness. Here’s how they’re (and possibly you’re) doing that, and what you can do to move out of the way. 9 Ways to Rewire Your Brain for Creativity: Research shows that engaging in creative practices can help reduce stress and improve problem-solving skills; however, some folks believe creativity is something you’re born with and, if you’re not, well, you’re out of luck. That’s just not true. It’s possible to foster creativity, and here are nine ways to do that. (Before you start flexing those new creative muscles, though, you might want to check out the downfalls of practicing creativity simply for the sake of it. Hmm.) Mental Health Ed Informs Students of Difference Between Stress and Depression: “‘It’s like knowing the difference between a cut finger and cut off finger, [psychiatry professor Stan Kutcher] said in an interview. ‘Kids feel upset and say they’re depressed. Kids have a test, and they say they’re anxious. We have copied the language of pathology to describe normal human behavior, and we now see kids using words of mental health disorders.'” View the full article
  8. Earlier
  9. Phobiasupportforum

    OCD: When Obsessions Come True

    As many people are aware, those with obsessive-compulsive disorder experience disturbing obsessions of all sorts, and they perform compulsions (mental and/or physical) to try to keep these obsessions from happening. While these compulsions might temporarily relieve the anxiety of those with OCD, in the long run they only serve to strengthen the disorder, and a vicious cycle ensues. It is important to note that people with OCD typically realize that performing their compulsions makes no sense, but they feel compelled to engage in them anyway. Just in case. To be certain. Aha. Certainty. This is the foundation of OCD — what it is based on. Those with obsessive-compulsive disease have this need for certainty and total control over their lives. The ironic thing is this elusive quest for control leads to just the opposite — loss of control over one’s life. Let’s look at an example involving hand-washing, which is a common compulsion for those with OCD. In this case, “Kathy” is obsessed about getting deathly sick and spreading illness to her children. She is paying for her groceries at the supermarket and watches as the cashier rubs her runny nose with her hand and then hands Kathy her change, touching Kathy’s hand in the process. This event triggers Kathy’s obsession and her anxiety is sky high. She goes home and washes her hands thoroughly. For most of us, this would be the end of the story. But for Kathy, who has OCD, it is not enough. She doubts she has washed off all the germs, and feels compelled to keep washing her hands for longer periods of time. They become raw and might even bleed, but the vicious cycle of OCD has begun. Kathy’s actions were meant to give her control over her life (stop the spreading of germs) while in reality she has lost control (can’t leave the house because of fear and constant urge to wash her hands). The good news is that OCD is treatable, and the evidence-based therapy for OCD as recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA) is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) known as exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. In a nutshell, those with OCD are required to face their fears. In Kathy’s case, she would gradually be exposed to germs in various ways and then refrain from engaging in any compulsions (for example, no handwashing). While this therapy can be anxiety-provoking, the payoff is huge, as the person with OCD learns to live with the uncertainty of life. The bad news is that, while the premise of ERP therapy is simple, it can often get quite complicated and some therapists who are not properly trained in ERP therapy make the mistake of reassuring their patients that “nothing bad will happen.” Aside from being impossible to guarantee, this statement is counter-productive as one of the main goals of ERP therapy is to learn to live with uncertainty. Is it likely Kathy will spread deadly germs to her children? Probably not. Is it possible? Well, maybe. The future is uncertain. Indeed, there are cases where the person with OCD’s worst fears come true. That’s life. It is filled with uncertainty, and there is no way to change that fact. Good things happen and bad things happen and we can never be sure, from one day to the next, what awaits us. Whether we suffer from OCD or not, there are bound to be challenges and surprises for all of us, and we need to be able to cope with them. The goal of ERP therapy is not to prove everything will be fine if you don’t engage in compulsions, but rather to learn that you can stand up to fear and anxiety and not have it control you. And when the bad things do inevitably happen? Those with OCD who have successfully undergone treatment usually cope with these times as well as those who do not have OCD. View the full article
  10. Phobiasupportforum

    The Best and Worst Treatment Options for OCD

    Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an often misunderstood and misdiagnosed disorder. Indeed, estimates indicate that it can take from 14-17 years from the onset of symptoms to get an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment for OCD. Even when a proper diagnosis is made, choosing the appropriate treatment program can be confusing and overwhelming. It is not unusual for those seeking help to be steered in the wrong direction by professionals who are not familiar with the best options for treating OCD. I speak from personal experience as my son Dan suffered with severe OCD. As an advocate for OCD awareness and proper treatment I hear from many people who have OCD or who are trying to help a loved one suffering from the disorder. One of the most disheartening scenarios that seems to come to my attention more and more is the involuntary (or even voluntary) hospitalization of people (children and adults) with severe OCD. To be clear, I am talking about inpatient psychiatric hospitals for the treatment of serious brain disorders. These hospitals are a good fit for people who pose a danger to themselves or others. In general, these hospitals are not helpful to those with OCD, and in fact often lead to an exacerbation of the disorder. How do those struggling with severe OCD end up in psychiatric hospitals? Each situation is unique of course, but in many cases, those with OCD are refusing treatment of any sort and are not able to perform activities of daily living such as dressing, feeding, and bathing themselves. They often cannot leave their home, and their lives might be overtaken with compulsions (think showering for seven hours at a time). It truly is heartbreaking to witness a loved one in this condition and when professionals recommend inpatient psychiatric care, it can seem to make sense, on the surface at least. Why are these hospitals not a good fit for those in the throes of severe OCD? For one thing, taking people with severe untreated OCD out of their perceived “safe zone” so abruptly is likely to be traumatizing. Also, there is a specific evidence-based therapy for OCD called exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, and this is not offered at inpatient psychiatric hospitals. Talk therapy is more likely to be employed, and this often hurts more than it helps. So if psychiatric hospitals are not a good fit for those dealing with severe OCD, what treatment options are appropriate? Well, for one, any treatment program for OCD should be staffed with professionals trained to treat OCD using ERP therapy. Beyond that, individual factors should be considered when choosing the best fit from the list below: Residential Treatment Centers for OCD – These are specifically for those with OCD and are intense programs. Patients typically have to be willing to tackle ERP therapy to be admitted. At times patients will be allowed off campus to work on their therapy. Length of stay can vary from one week to up to several months. PHP (Partial Hospitalization Programs) – These are similar to residential programs except patients do not live there. Individual therapy and group classes typically take three to eight hours a day, four to five days a week. Sometimes patients (and family members) will live in nearby hotels (or Ronald McDonald houses). Length of stay typically varies from one week to two months. IOP (Intensive Outpatient Programs) – The format can vary, but some OCD therapists offer intense therapy (for example, three hours a day, five days a week) for a specific length of time. Patients either travel daily to therapy or stay in accommodations nearby. OCD Therapy Sessions – These are individual therapy sessions typically once or twice weekly with an OCD specialist. Sessions usually last an hour. This is just a general overview of treatment options for OCD. They are all voluntary and patients can choose to leave at any time, though children must have the consent of their parents. For those with severe OCD who refuse any treatment, I’d recommend that loved ones meet with an OCD specialist who will help them understand the best ways to move forward by not accommodating their loved ones. It is not an easy journey, but OCD, no matter how severe, is treatable. Sometimes finding the right help is half the battle. View the full article
  11. A friend of mine recently brought up a concern he had and was worried that he was overreacting. His son, who is friends with my youngest daughter, was beginning to struggle in school. It wasn’t that the educational material was beyond him. The problem was that his son refused to turn in the work he had already completed. In the beginning, my friend was just confused. The teacher sent a note home explaining that his son was doing the work but not handing it into her. When she had asked why, his son had become agitated and said it wasn’t done, even though she could clearly see he had completed it. This back-and-forth continued to happen for several more days until the teacher insisted he needed to turn in his work. At that point, the boy had become almost inconsolably upset and had to be removed from the class. When the teacher and other staff tried to figure out what was wrong, he kept insisting none of his work was done yet, and he had to “fix it.” Worrying Signs of Mental Illness My friend was worried, but he wondered if it was just a phase. However, he has since gone with his son to his pediatrician, who recommended a child psychologist that specializes in childhood Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). You see, this isn’t the only symptom that my friend’s son was experiencing. He would become overwhelmed if people tried to move anything out of place in his unusually spotless room. He also became highly anxious at the idea of others touching his possessions. When asked a simple question, like if he wanted a snack, my friend’s son would sometimes get too upset to answer and wind up with a stomach ache. These kinds of behaviors in children are often written off as “quirks” or “oddities.” Really, they may be a sign of developing OCD, which in turn can be a symptom of a larger problem. Misrepresentations of OCD in Media We have all seen the tropes. In the long-running comedy show Monk, the titular character suffers from a form of OCD that forces him to obsess over cleanliness and counting. In an episode of Scrubs, Michael J Fox plays a doctor who can’t stop scrubbing his hands raw. The truth is that OCD can exhibit a number of symptoms that don’t follow by the classical clichés we are used to seeing on the screen. Some lesser-known signs your child might be suffering from this condition include: Signs of intense anxiety that seem triggered by specific environments or conditions, like certain classes, or social situations. Red, raw or dry patches of skin, including the hands, due to excessive washing or use of antibacterial products like hand sanitizer. A rigidness about possessions, including them being handled by or moved by others. A constant need for reassurance that they are following directions properly, doing well on assignments/tasks or signs of aggravation when they don’t get enough reassurance. Needing excessive clarification or directions for simple tasks. Sensory issues, such as being bothered by the feeling of a tag on their clothing. These, along with more traditional and well-known signs, could indicate that your child is suffering from OCD. OCD & Comorbid Conditions If you notice some of these signs in your child, their problems might not stop with their compulsive behaviors. Certain conditions can be overlapping or even trigger the OCD in the first place. Certain forms of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder are all commonly seen in combination with OCD. Depression and other mental illness may also be an issue. Those who have, for example, Bipolar Disorder exhibiting early may see an increase in signs of OCD during manic phases. Those with depression could become obsessed with a single aspect of their lives that help them maintain a semblance of control. Because of the complexity of the issue, getting professional help is crucial. My friend worried that he was overreacting to his son’s behavior. In his case, he was right to be concerned. Even if your child is only going through a phase or something normal for their age, there is nothing wrong with making sure. It is better to be safe than sorry and early intervention is going to give your child a leg up on what are very manageable and treatable conditions. Resources National Institute of Mental Health, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml Pelini, Sanya, Psych Central, Understanding the Link Between Anxiety and Problem Behavior In Young Kids and How You Can Help, https://psychcentral.com/blog/understanding-the-link-between-anxiety-and-problem-behavior-in-young-kids-and-how-you-can-help/ Heller, Kalman, PhD, Psych Central, Sensitive Children Who Develop Significant Anxiety, https://psychcentral.com/lib/sensitive-children-who-develop-significant-anxiety/ Liahona Academy, Standing Up For Teen Anxiety, https://www.liahonaacademy.com/standing-up-for-teen-anxiety-infographic.html Wortmann, Fletcher, Psychology Today, Why “Monk” Stunk, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/triggered/201305/why-monk-stunk View the full article
  12. A friend of mine recently brought up a concern he had and was worried that he was overreacting. His son, who is friends with my youngest daughter, was beginning to struggle in school. It wasn’t that the educational material was beyond him. The problem was that his son refused to turn in the work he had already completed. In the beginning, my friend was just confused. The teacher sent a note home explaining that his son was doing the work but not handing it into her. When she had asked why, his son had become agitated and said it wasn’t done, even though she could clearly see he had completed it. This back-and-forth continued to happen for several more days until the teacher insisted he needed to turn in his work. At that point, the boy had become almost inconsolably upset and had to be removed from the class. When the teacher and other staff tried to figure out what was wrong, he kept insisting none of his work was done yet, and he had to “fix it.” Worrying Signs of Mental Illness My friend was worried, but he wondered if it was just a phase. However, he has since gone with his son to his pediatrician, who recommended a child psychologist that specializes in childhood Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). You see, this isn’t the only symptom that my friend’s son was experiencing. He would become overwhelmed if people tried to move anything out of place in his unusually spotless room. He also became highly anxious at the idea of others touching his possessions. When asked a simple question, like if he wanted a snack, my friend’s son would sometimes get too upset to answer and wind up with a stomach ache. These kinds of behaviors in children are often written off as “quirks” or “oddities.” Really, they may be a sign of developing OCD, which in turn can be a symptom of a larger problem. Misrepresentations of OCD in Media We have all seen the tropes. In the long-running comedy show Monk, the titular character suffers from a form of OCD that forces him to obsess over cleanliness and counting. In an episode of Scrubs, Michael J Fox plays a doctor who can’t stop scrubbing his hands raw. The truth is that OCD can exhibit a number of symptoms that don’t follow by the classical clichés we are used to seeing on the screen. Some lesser-known signs your child might be suffering from this condition include: Signs of intense anxiety that seem triggered by specific environments or conditions, like certain classes, or social situations. Red, raw or dry patches of skin, including the hands, due to excessive washing or use of antibacterial products like hand sanitizer. A rigidness about possessions, including them being handled by or moved by others. A constant need for reassurance that they are following directions properly, doing well on assignments/tasks or signs of aggravation when they don’t get enough reassurance. Needing excessive clarification or directions for simple tasks. Sensory issues, such as being bothered by the feeling of a tag on their clothing. These, along with more traditional and well-known signs, could indicate that your child is suffering from OCD. OCD & Comorbid Conditions If you notice some of these signs in your child, their problems might not stop with their compulsive behaviors. Certain conditions can be overlapping or even trigger the OCD in the first place. Certain forms of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder are all commonly seen in combination with OCD. Depression and other mental illness may also be an issue. Those who have, for example, Bipolar Disorder exhibiting early may see an increase in signs of OCD during manic phases. Those with depression could become obsessed with a single aspect of their lives that help them maintain a semblance of control. Because of the complexity of the issue, getting professional help is crucial. My friend worried that he was overreacting to his son’s behavior. In his case, he was right to be concerned. Even if your child is only going through a phase or something normal for their age, there is nothing wrong with making sure. It is better to be safe than sorry and early intervention is going to give your child a leg up on what are very manageable and treatable conditions. Resources National Institute of Mental Health, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml Pelini, Sanya, Psych Central, Understanding the Link Between Anxiety and Problem Behavior In Young Kids and How You Can Help, https://psychcentral.com/blog/understanding-the-link-between-anxiety-and-problem-behavior-in-young-kids-and-how-you-can-help/ Heller, Kalman, PhD, Psych Central, Sensitive Children Who Develop Significant Anxiety, https://psychcentral.com/lib/sensitive-children-who-develop-significant-anxiety/ Liahona Academy, Standing Up For Teen Anxiety, https://www.liahonaacademy.com/standing-up-for-teen-anxiety-infographic.html Wortmann, Fletcher, Psychology Today, Why “Monk” Stunk, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/triggered/201305/why-monk-stunk View the full article
  13. Keep Calm and Remain Positive I just couldn’t go there. Yesterday, I was teaching a writing class at a nearby college. Over the weekend, a man had gone into a synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed eleven people. It was another mass shooting. And I couldn’t talk about it in class. Usually, when a shooting occurred, I’d mention it and sometimes, we’d discuss it, but yesterday, it seemed too overwhelming to talk about. I consciously decided to ignore the current events of the hour and be positive. Why? My number one reason was because I felt sorry for my students. Most of them born around 2000, all they’d ever seen was tragedy and murder. Born in 1963, I’d had the opportunity to grow up without daily shootings. Another reason I kept quiet about the tragedy was because I myself felt very fragile. Just coming out of a depression, I didn’t want to bring up something so negative. A third reason was because I felt I had an obligation to maintain a feeling of hope in the classroom. Oh, there was also a bit of denial in my decision to not talk about the shooting. But more importantly, I didn’t want to give the killer “airtime” during my class. It’s hard being the seasoned adult with a group of 18-year-olds. I’m always trying to do what’s best for them. That Monday, they looked at me with bewildered faces, kind of begging me not to bring up the carnage. The university was supposed to challenge students, but they were facing challenges in the real world that might have crushed me when I was their age. The classroom challenges were practically nothing to them. So I kept quiet and smiled. I talked about music lyrics and their music projects. One girl was examining music lyrics that discussed divorce. She had found songs from different family members’ points of view; there was one from the estranged wife, one from the bewildered husband and one from the grieving child. She really did have a compelling project going. Another girl was looking at music that made her happy, brought her up when she was blue. She played two of these songs, and they did do that—made us happy. A third student, a boy, was looking at music about growing up. His two songs pinpointed the emotions of growing into an adult. So the class was going swimmingly. We were ignoring the monsters outside the walls of the classroom. And I didn’t feel bad about it. We had to maintain our sense of composure and sanity somehow. “How does anyone ever completely emerge from depression in 2018?” That was the question that was on my mind. But I was thankful that at least it was not physically painful to shower anymore. I was feeling better, and I was going to stay upbeat no matter what. Nothing was going to bring me down. Not Pittsburgh, not divorce, not the fact that I lived with bipolar illness in a time and place that was drenched in tragedy. It was good to feel happy again. My joy overflowed. The students were engaged and smiling and learning. And the ironic thing was I was being considered for Composition Teacher of the Year. One of my students had nominated me for this prize. Was I doing the right thing? I had lesson plans and syllabi, but I was feeling my way along. I was in a pitch black room, trying to make sense of it all. And if I felt this way, how did my students feel? The upshot of Monday was that I got through the classes and actually managed to accomplish something. I taught them what analysis and interpretation were. I even gave them good examples of how to analyze their music lyrics. And I interpreted the uninterpretable. Would I be Composition Teacher of the Year? I couldn’t care less. Teaching through a raging depression and emerging out the other end deserved a prize regardless. View the full article
  14. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is defined as “an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent and disturbing thoughts (called obsessions) and/or repetitive, ritualized behaviors that the person feels driven to perform (called compulsions). It may manifest in the form of hand washing until skin is red and raw, checking doors multiple times even if the key just turned in the lock, or making certain the stove is turned off even if one has done it a moment ago. It isn’t a memory issue, since the person is aware of having just engaged in the behaviors. Many years ago, I had the experience of interviewing a world-renowned yoga teacher who had symptoms of OCD. Seane Corn had shared that in childhood she would count in even numbers, have to walk in certain ways, be tapped on the shoulder a particular number of times. Growing up in a secular Jewish family, she had no concept of a protective God, so she took on that role herself, believing that her rituals kept her loved ones safe. When she began practicing yoga as a young adult that she found the postures exacting enough to satisfy those needs to feel a sense of balance in her life, since it had felt so out of control. Since then, she has taught all around the world, working with those living with HIV and AIDS, as well as with child survivors of sex-trafficking. A teen whose family immigrated from a predominantly Catholic country presented with symptoms of OCD and anxiety, following a visit to churches and cemeteries on a trip back home with his parents. They took the form of feeling like he was walking through portals while simply entering doorways in his home. They were also connected to the death of a loved one and guilt that he had not been there for him as much as he would have wanted to be. His family didn’t instill those feelings; he took it on himself, as he freely admitted. A man who was also raised in the Catholic tradition had obsessive thoughts that bordered on self-torment as his perseveration was about punishment for nebulous ill-advised deeds that he couldn’t easily identify. He felt as his every move was being scrutinized and he would glance upward as if checking on God checking on him. He attended Mass and went to confession regularly. He prayed the rosary, and still he felt unforgivable. Both people could acknowledge that they were kind and compassionate with others, had not committed crimes and yet were left with the message they were sinners. Each of them knew that their feelings were illogical and irrational. By definition, their form of OCD could fit under the category of Scrupulosity, described in this way, “Those suffering with Scrupulosity hold strict standards of religious, moral, and ethical perfection.” Joseph Ciarrocci, who is the author of The Doubting Disease says that the origin of the word, comes from the Latin word scrupulum, which is defined as a small sharp stone. For some if may feel as if they are being stabbed by the stone or at walking on it barefoot. What they have in common is the erroneous belief that they need to be shining examples of virtue in order to be acceptable to God and the people in their lives. They freely admit that their families and friends would view them in a positive light and that God would give them a thumbs up. As is so for OCD and one of its co-morbid conditions, anxiety, it involves a “what if?” and “if only” mindset. Each one questioned his future which was uncertain. They were reminded that no one’s life is cast in stone and that change is a natural part of the journey. Each one had a pivotal event or series of occurrences that triggered the symptoms. The first person’s experience was the death of his grandparent, coupled with visiting sacred sites. The second person’s experience was a painful injury sustained in childhood, from which he has recovered physically, but clearly not so, emotionally. As an interfaith minister, as well as social worker, I inform clients that I have no right to tell them what to believe spiritually. Instead, I engage in exploration with them, inquiring about the relationship with the God of their understanding. The work involves Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Gestalt exercises as they dialogue with deity, their OCD symptoms and the prevailing anxiety that may have triggered the behaviors. It involves relaxation and stress management techniques, using self-chosen mantras and affirmations, as well as hand mudras that are affirming as opposed to becoming a source of stress. It also includes reality testing as they prove that what they most fear is not likely to occur. I remind them that they are works in progress and that perfection doesn’t exist on this human plane. They come to accept that any skill they now have was once unfamiliar and uncomfortable and that by practicing, they improved. The same is so for any desired behavioral change. An example is folding hands together and asking which thumb naturally falls on top. Once they have provided the answer, I ask them to reverse the position and once they have done so, I ask how it feels. The initial feedback is that it “feels weird” and brings about a sense of uneasiness. Given enough time, they admit that they could get used to it. The same is so for OCD symptoms. When they are viewed as never-ending, they are more fearsome than if the person can imagine living without them. If they are able to tolerate the stress of not practicing the behaviors, they are closer to overcoming them. I remind them that by resisting the symptoms, they are more likely to continue. There is, however, a balance between repressing them and letting them run amok. Befriending God within them has helped these people to begin to accept their own inherent worthiness and enhances their desire to alleviate their own suffering. View the full article
  15. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is defined as “an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent and disturbing thoughts (called obsessions) and/or repetitive, ritualized behaviors that the person feels driven to perform (called compulsions). It may manifest in the form of hand washing until skin is red and raw, checking doors multiple times even if the key just turned in the lock, or making certain the stove is turned off even if one has done it a moment ago. It isn’t a memory issue, since the person is aware of having just engaged in the behaviors. Many years ago, I had the experience of interviewing a world-renowned yoga teacher who had symptoms of OCD. Seane Corn had shared that in childhood she would count in even numbers, have to walk in certain ways, be tapped on the shoulder a particular number of times. Growing up in a secular Jewish family, she had no concept of a protective God, so she took on that role herself, believing that her rituals kept her loved ones safe. When she began practicing yoga as a young adult that she found the postures exacting enough to satisfy those needs to feel a sense of balance in her life, since it had felt so out of control. Since then, she has taught all around the world, working with those living with HIV and AIDS, as well as with child survivors of sex-trafficking. A teen whose family immigrated from a predominantly Catholic country presented with symptoms of OCD and anxiety, following a visit to churches and cemeteries on a trip back home with his parents. They took the form of feeling like he was walking through portals while simply entering doorways in his home. They were also connected to the death of a loved one and guilt that he had not been there for him as much as he would have wanted to be. His family didn’t instill those feelings; he took it on himself, as he freely admitted. A man who was also raised in the Catholic tradition had obsessive thoughts that bordered on self-torment as his perseveration was about punishment for nebulous ill-advised deeds that he couldn’t easily identify. He felt as his every move was being scrutinized and he would glance upward as if checking on God checking on him. He attended Mass and went to confession regularly. He prayed the rosary, and still he felt unforgivable. Both people could acknowledge that they were kind and compassionate with others, had not committed crimes and yet were left with the message they were sinners. Each of them knew that their feelings were illogical and irrational. By definition, their form of OCD could fit under the category of Scrupulosity, described in this way, “Those suffering with Scrupulosity hold strict standards of religious, moral, and ethical perfection.” Joseph Ciarrocci, who is the author of The Doubting Disease says that the origin of the word, comes from the Latin word scrupulum, which is defined as a small sharp stone. For some if may feel as if they are being stabbed by the stone or at walking on it barefoot. What they have in common is the erroneous belief that they need to be shining examples of virtue in order to be acceptable to God and the people in their lives. They freely admit that their families and friends would view them in a positive light and that God would give them a thumbs up. As is so for OCD and one of its co-morbid conditions, anxiety, it involves a “what if?” and “if only” mindset. Each one questioned his future which was uncertain. They were reminded that no one’s life is cast in stone and that change is a natural part of the journey. Each one had a pivotal event or series of occurrences that triggered the symptoms. The first person’s experience was the death of his grandparent, coupled with visiting sacred sites. The second person’s experience was a painful injury sustained in childhood, from which he has recovered physically, but clearly not so, emotionally. As an interfaith minister, as well as social worker, I inform clients that I have no right to tell them what to believe spiritually. Instead, I engage in exploration with them, inquiring about the relationship with the God of their understanding. The work involves Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Gestalt exercises as they dialogue with deity, their OCD symptoms and the prevailing anxiety that may have triggered the behaviors. It involves relaxation and stress management techniques, using self-chosen mantras and affirmations, as well as hand mudras that are affirming as opposed to becoming a source of stress. It also includes reality testing as they prove that what they most fear is not likely to occur. I remind them that they are works in progress and that perfection doesn’t exist on this human plane. They come to accept that any skill they now have was once unfamiliar and uncomfortable and that by practicing, they improved. The same is so for any desired behavioral change. An example is folding hands together and asking which thumb naturally falls on top. Once they have provided the answer, I ask them to reverse the position and once they have done so, I ask how it feels. The initial feedback is that it “feels weird” and brings about a sense of uneasiness. Given enough time, they admit that they could get used to it. The same is so for OCD symptoms. When they are viewed as never-ending, they are more fearsome than if the person can imagine living without them. If they are able to tolerate the stress of not practicing the behaviors, they are closer to overcoming them. I remind them that by resisting the symptoms, they are more likely to continue. There is, however, a balance between repressing them and letting them run amok. Befriending God within them has helped these people to begin to accept their own inherent worthiness and enhances their desire to alleviate their own suffering. View the full article
  16. In my book, Says Who? How One Simple Question Can Change the Way You Think Forever, I’ve created a method for transforming negative and fear-based thoughts that cause emotional turmoil, such as anxiety or depression. For many years as a young actress, I experienced severe anxiety. It wasn’t until I went into Jungian analysis that I came face to face with a deep-seated, fear-based thought that I’d buried deep in my subconscious. By unburying it, I was able to realize how it was the direct cause of my emotional unrest and suffering. As I wrote in Says Who?, “Our negative thoughts have something important to tell us.” If we pay attention to what they’re saying without reacting to them, we can understand what I call the “side effects” or “symptoms” of a thought that’s troubling to us, but that we haven’t wanted to face. Suicidal thoughts are usually brought on by major depression. A person considering ending his or her life is in agonizing, intolerable pain. The person simply can’t imagine how to stop it, so considers choosing death over life. This torment and loss of hope is so acute, it’s all the person can focus on. It seems that there’s no viable future ahead. What that means is that his or her mind is completely devoid of any thoughts other than the ones asserting that life isn’t worth living and it’s time to end it. When we have thoughts that cause us pain and suffering, we must know how to work with them and change them so they won’t pull us into a downward spiral of anxiety or depression. The Says Who? Method questions and challenges negative and fear-based thoughts. When we challenge them, we’re preparing ourselves to know what to do when the horrible thoughts occur. If we don’t question the thoughts that want to sabotage us, we more readily accept them, and this is when thoughts of suicide can take hold. The Says Who? Method emphasizes how we are the creator and master of our internal dialogue, which creates our reality. The choice of life over death is a reality every person deserves, but if we don’t know how to transcend the thoughts that tell us death is the better option, we stand a greater chance of giving into a very dark, grim reality. Most people don’t have the proper skills to face their pain. Instead of choosing to understand their suffering and work through the thoughts causing it, they’re more inclined to want to stop their agony at all costs. Whether it’s through self-medicating to numb the pain, or literally giving into it through suicide, their goal is to end the pain, not learn how to work through it. A person who hasn’t worked with their pain, or questioned the thoughts causing it, is more likely to let the despair become all-encompassing. But it’s our thoughts that create what we feel, and if we aren’t clear what those thoughts are and where they’ve originated, we’ll allow them to dominate us, and we will be at their mercy. What we know about pain is that it comes in waves. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only constant is change.” A person who is contemplating suicide is so stuck in their pain that they’re unable to entertain the possibility of a better future, which requires thoughts of hopefulness and optimism. Sadly, they haven’t given themselves the opportunity to think differently, which must happen to drive out suicidal thoughts. Using the question “Says Who?” — in essence asking, “Who is saying this thought in my mind?” — someone who’s ready to work with their suicidal thought would answer, “I am,” and go on to admit, “I’m telling myself I want to die.” Being cognizant of their suicidal thought and admitting to themselves they’re having it, helps them to become brave enough to face it and to change it. This is the most important step a person can take to choosing a different “reality” of life over death. It’s important that we own our thoughts — all of them, and not just the pretty ones. Suicidal thoughts are anything but pretty, but they’re thoughts that can be changed to ones that are hopeful rather than filled with despair. Changing a thought from “this pain will last forever” to “pain comes and goes,” or from “there’s nothing I can do about this pain” to “I can help my pain by understanding it better,” can actually change the chemicals in our brains. Thoughts of distress and anguish produce neurochemicals that create more distress and anguish, whereas positive thoughts of hopefulness create an increase in neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which create feelings of wellbeing. When one reaches a state of wellbeing, suicide is the furthest thought from his or her mind. Let’s keep it that way. View the full article
  17. Phobiasupportforum

    Psychology Around the Net: October 27, 2018

    This picture has nothing to do with this week’s Psychology Around the Net. I just love fall! What does have to do with this week’s post is “priming” and how it can help women stop shying away from competition, a first-of-its-kind survey that lets mental health consumers tell scientists what they want them to study, overdose prevention kits popping up on college campuses, and more. Closing the Gender Gap in Competitiveness With a Psychological Trick: Often, women tend to shy away from competition more than men do, and this could be a reason many women are still at a disadvantage when it comes to career-related matters (e.g. pay, promotions, etc.). Studies suggest that “priming” — a psychological technique that places people in certain situations and can change their decision-making behavior — could lead to situations in which men and women are more similar in their competitive behavior. Make Wellness a Way of Life With These 8 Daily Habits: These everyday activities — which can soon turn into habits — are sure to help both your physical and mental wellness. This Marketer Reveals 10 Psychology Truths That Brands Use to Influence Your Buying Decisions: Jake McKenzie, CEO of Intermark Group, the largest psychology-driven marketing firm in the country, explains the most popular (and effective) ways marketers use your own psychological habits to get you to buy their stuff (and if you’re thinking “These kinds of tricks don’t work on me,” well, welcome to #3). Turning the Tables: People With Mental Illness Share What They Want Scientists to Study: Using a first-of-its kind survey, the Milken Institute and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance are asking patients what aspects of their health — specifically depression and/or bipolar disorder — they want more research on. Since August 2018, nearly 6,000 people have responded to the survey and it’s still available if you want to answer, too. One Insanely Popular Reason So Many of Us Are Unhappy: I’m not going to give it away, obvs, but I can tell you I remember being a lot more consistently happy when I had a strong handle on this. Making Overdose Medication Readily Available On College Campuses: Overall, many colleges and universities haven’t felt the full brunt of the opioid epidemic raging through the United States; however, that doesn’t mean they aren’t without any problems and that school administrators want to keep their students as safe as possible. These safety precautions range from awareness and prevention programs to showing students how to save someone from an overdose using Narcan (Naloxone). Going even further, Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts has installed approximately 60 “Opioid Overdose Kits,” each of which contains two doses of Narcan nosespray. View the full article
  18. Admin

    OCD and Physical Pain

    I don’t think it comes as a surprise to many people that physical pain and mental pain often seem to be connected. I often hear from people with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder who also suffer from debilitating physical pain. And it’s not unusual, once their OCD is treated, for their physical symptoms to subside or even disappear completely. Sometimes the pain those with OCD experience is directly related to compulsions they perform. For example, some people with OCD are compelled to perform extensive rituals while showering, perhaps twisting and turning in particular ways for a specific amount of time. This might lead to chronic back or neck pain. Repetition is common with compulsions and can lead to physical pain such as arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. I have heard of those who deal with trichotillomania experiencing relentless pain in their arms, wrists, hands and fingers. Also, turning doorknobs and tightening water faucets are other common compulsions in OCD that can lead to injury and physical pain. In other cases, pain appears unrelated to the disorder. Headaches, intestinal issues, and fibromyalgia are just a few examples. Are they connected to obsessive-compulsive disorder? I don’t know, but I do know that having both physical pain and OCD can get quite complicated. For example, if someone has a severe headache for a good amount of time, he or she would (hopefully) go to their doctor. The doctor might order a test, such as an MRI, which hopefully would come back normal. The person’s headache subsides, and life returns to normal. That’s if you don’t have OCD. If you do have OCD, you might feel reassured immediately after the results of the MRI, but then the obsessive thinking might kick in: How can I be sure the test didn’t miss something? I tripped the other day and have been more forgetful than usual. I must have a brain tumor. Maybe the doctors got my test results mixed up with someone else’s? As you can imagine, this list is endless. Compulsions to temporarily quell this anxiety might include going back to the doctor, asking a loved one for reassurance, or being hyperaware of every “symptom” you feel. All of these rituals only serve to make the OCD stronger. Nothing is simple when it comes to OCD. In an interesting study, researchers found that participants with obsessive-compulsive disorder were actually unusually tolerant of physical pain, regardless of the nature or severity of their symptoms. The scientists believe these findings suggest that individuals who struggle with emotional pain are able to endure physical pain to a much greater extent than others. In a nutshell, it appears the physical pain distracts from the emotional pain. This finding can perhaps give us somewhat of an understanding of the role of self-injury in OCD. Perhaps those with OCD are willing to endure physical pain as a distraction from their emotional distress. Experiencing physical pain might also be seen as an expression of negative self-worth, or as a means to gain control over some aspect of suffering. It’s interesting that two comments made by study participants were noted by the researchers. One comment was that the pain “felt good” and the other was, “In all the craziness of my OCD, pain is a constant. It’s one thing that you can count on.” So, the participants with OCD felt that this physical pain was something they could control in their otherwise chaotic world. Pain and obsessive-compulsive disorder appear to be connected in different ways. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, however, when OCD is properly treated, many symptoms of pain often diminish, or disappear completely. Another great reason to get proper treatment and fight OCD. View the full article
  19. Phobiasupportforum

    OCD and Physical Pain

    I don’t think it comes as a surprise to many people that physical pain and mental pain often seem to be connected. I often hear from people with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder who also suffer from debilitating physical pain. And it’s not unusual, once their OCD is treated, for their physical symptoms to subside or even disappear completely. Sometimes the pain those with OCD experience is directly related to compulsions they perform. For example, some people with OCD are compelled to perform extensive rituals while showering, perhaps twisting and turning in particular ways for a specific amount of time. This might lead to chronic back or neck pain. Repetition is common with compulsions and can lead to physical pain such as arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. I have heard of those who deal with trichotillomania experiencing relentless pain in their arms, wrists, hands and fingers. Also, turning doorknobs and tightening water faucets are other common compulsions in OCD that can lead to injury and physical pain. In other cases, pain appears unrelated to the disorder. Headaches, intestinal issues, and fibromyalgia are just a few examples. Are they connected to obsessive-compulsive disorder? I don’t know, but I do know that having both physical pain and OCD can get quite complicated. For example, if someone has a severe headache for a good amount of time, he or she would (hopefully) go to their doctor. The doctor might order a test, such as an MRI, which hopefully would come back normal. The person’s headache subsides, and life returns to normal. That’s if you don’t have OCD. If you do have OCD, you might feel reassured immediately after the results of the MRI, but then the obsessive thinking might kick in: How can I be sure the test didn’t miss something? I tripped the other day and have been more forgetful than usual. I must have a brain tumor. Maybe the doctors got my test results mixed up with someone else’s? As you can imagine, this list is endless. Compulsions to temporarily quell this anxiety might include going back to the doctor, asking a loved one for reassurance, or being hyperaware of every “symptom” you feel. All of these rituals only serve to make the OCD stronger. Nothing is simple when it comes to OCD. In an interesting study, researchers found that participants with obsessive-compulsive disorder were actually unusually tolerant of physical pain, regardless of the nature or severity of their symptoms. The scientists believe these findings suggest that individuals who struggle with emotional pain are able to endure physical pain to a much greater extent than others. In a nutshell, it appears the physical pain distracts from the emotional pain. This finding can perhaps give us somewhat of an understanding of the role of self-injury in OCD. Perhaps those with OCD are willing to endure physical pain as a distraction from their emotional distress. Experiencing physical pain might also be seen as an expression of negative self-worth, or as a means to gain control over some aspect of suffering. It’s interesting that two comments made by study participants were noted by the researchers. One comment was that the pain “felt good” and the other was, “In all the craziness of my OCD, pain is a constant. It’s one thing that you can count on.” So, the participants with OCD felt that this physical pain was something they could control in their otherwise chaotic world. Pain and obsessive-compulsive disorder appear to be connected in different ways. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, however, when OCD is properly treated, many symptoms of pain often diminish, or disappear completely. Another great reason to get proper treatment and fight OCD. View the full article
  20. Anxiety feels like showing up to the start of a marathon with zero preparation. You haven’t trained a day in your life, and you have no idea what you’re doing. Common sense tells you this is a long race, you need to pace to survive. But without warning, and out of your control, a powerful force won’t let you. It takes over and you sprint the first few miles, burn out, then fall to the side of the road confused and frustrated. Is everyone else experiencing this? How are they able to control their speed and finish this race? Anxiety serves us well in situations where we need our fight or flight reflexes engaged. And some anxiety is normal, helpful even. However, anxiety that requires constant attention can have negative emotional and physical effects. As researchers at the Bio Behavioral Institute state, “anxiety is a single word that represents a broad range of emotional intensity. At the low end of the intensity range, anxiety is normal and adaptive. At the high end of the intensity range, anxiety can become pathological and maladaptive. While everyone experiences anxiety, not everyone experiences the emotion of anxiety with the same intensity, frequency, or duration as someone who has an anxiety disorder.” I have a long history of family members suffering from anxiety, and until I reached college I didn’t recognize my own struggles with it. I was not well-educated in mental health and spent years sucking it up, thinking my issues were part of a personality flaw. When I met my in-laws, I had new introspection and an encouraging platform to start researching and taking control of my own care plan. I spent time studying and speaking with others, and eventually ended up in counseling, which I now use as a critical resource for many areas of self-improvement. When the nerves of anxiety are firing, I am aware. I work to slow them down and spread them out, calm the fear instinct and rationalize my way down. But as many who suffer from anxiety can attest, my brain lacks the ability to cooperate. While the onset is unpredictable and can happen anytime during the day, my struggles mainly present in the evening. When the day is over, and the list is accomplished, my mind has nowhere left to run, so it creates its own new track. Studies have shown things like deep breathing, meditation, exercise, healthy eating, therapy, and when necessary medication can all be helpful strategies for managing anxiety. I personally implement them all, and at times struggle regardless. For some, anxiety is a chronic condition that needs constant monitoring. Attention to management tactics and what works best for our own personal spice of anxiety is critical. This past year I have found two new strategies that have helped my sense of restless mind-racing: books and podcasts. Before this year I was not much of a reader, I simply didn’t want to invest the time. What I discovered they offer me is an escape from my tornado brain. Books have provided a way to feel productive but shut off the part of my thoughts that feel necessary to constantly be on the run. Being able to disengage while reading means I don’t have to fight my thoughts, even if just for a small amount of time each day! Podcasts have had a similar effect. They provide free access to endless information and encouragement — and education in a variety of subjects. I never was a bookworm and didn’t particularly excel in school, but I have always enjoyed learning new things. Podcasts have proved to be a productive way to shut my brain up. Something about being productive with my mind helps it wear down enough to disengage. Some days I wonder what it’s like to live with a mind that is easier to control. Where it’s not necessary to constantly be on guard with management strategies ready in place. I realize I may not be able to cure anxiety and the effects that follow it. But there won’t be a day I stop working to find ways to improve its functions, and advocate for others to educate and reach for help themselves! References: Jacofsky, M. D., Santos, M. T., Khemlani-Patel, S., Neziroglu, F. (2018). Normal And Abnormal Anxiety: What’s The Difference? Retrieved from https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/normal-and-abnormal-anxiety-what-s-the-difference/ View the full article
  21. OCD Awareness Week 2018 has come and gone and there were many successful, informative events to help all those whose lives have been touched by obsessive-compulsive disorder. There was also attention paid to OCD through the national media, though I’m not sure if the two shows I watched/listened to were broadcast because of OCD Awareness Week. While I think the productions both did a good job debunking the myths of OCD and illustrating what the disorder is all about (as much as you can without actually having OCD), I believe they were sorely lacking in one extremely important area — treatment. The first show was a podcast sponsored by American Public Media. Six people with OCD recorded their thoughts and feelings throughout the course of a day, giving the listener an idea of how OCD operates. I think it was a great idea. But I kept waiting for the host of the program — or anyone — to inform us that, if you have OCD, you do not have to be controlled by it — it is treatable. While I realize that treatment was not the focus of the podcast, I also believe that not saying anything about recovery leads people to believe “that’s the way it is,” and there is no treatment for the disorder. I wasn’t asking for a lot. One sentence saying, “OCD is very treatable,” would have satisfied me. But there was nothing. NOTHING! I think one of the six people with OCD might have used the word “Prozac” once in passing but that was it. The second event was a segment of 60 Minutes with author John Green (The Fault in Our Stars & Turtles All the Way Down). John has obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is the subject of his novel Turtles All the Way Down. What an inspiration he is to everyone (young people in particular) with OCD! When asked what he does to help himself, I believe his only answer was “exercise.” I don’t know what type of therapy, if any, Mr. Green has tried, but again, I was still hoping that at some point during the broadcast the interviewer would throw in at least one sentence: “OCD is treatable.” But sadly, again, nothing. I believe these firsthand accounts of living with OCD are invaluable. I really do. But when you (or a loved one) are suffering from this potentially devastating disorder, the only question you’re likely asking is “How can I get better?” I believe we are doing a poor job of answering this question. Ten years ago my son Dan suffered from severe OCD. As my book synopsis says, “he went from seven therapists to ten medications to a nine-week stay at a world-renowned residential program.” I believe exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy saved Dan’s life, but finding this treatment was difficult. I became an advocate for OCD awareness and proper treatment precisely for this reason — to let others know that ERP therapy is the evidence-based, first-line psychological treatment for OCD as recommended by the American Psychological Association, and to spread the word that OCD, no matter how severe, is treatable. Ten years later, for reasons that I just can’t fathom, this therapy still seems to be a well-guarded secret. View the full article
  22. As the number of Americans who regularly use cannabis has climbed, so too has the number of those experiencing cannabis withdrawal symptoms. View the full article
  23.  Fan favorite Two Truths and a Lie is back again! Listen to our hosts play the ever-popular game with the caveat that all the stories must center around depression and depression symptoms. Michelle kicks us off telling stories of her college days and skipping class; Gabe follows up with his high school days of being too depressed to go to class. In round two, Michelle discusses her religious experiences, while Gabe recounts the potentially true story of calling his insurance company to make sure his life insurance will pay out on his death. Finally, Michelle brings death, taxes, and guns into the mix, while Gabe tells the daring story of driving 100 miles per hour while manic. Stories aside, the biggest question is to determine which stories are true and which are entirely fictional. Is life stranger than fiction? You be the judge on this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Listen Now! SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW “I believed my family would be so relieved when I was dead.” – Gabe Howard Highlights From ‘Depression Truths and Lies’ Episode [1:25] Round One Stories: “Didn’t go to class due to depression” & “Too depressed to go to class 2.” [5:30] Round Two Stories: “Preacher saved Michelle’s life” & “Called insurance company to ensure payoff after suicide.” [12:00] Round Three Stories: “Overdosed/Death/Taxes/Guns” & “Car crash temptation.” [19:00] Can Gabe and Michelle figure out which stories are true and which one is the lie? Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com. MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC. View the full article
  24. “This time, we are holding onto the tension of not knowing, not willing to press the panic button. We are unlearning thousands of years of conditioning.” – Sukhvinder Sircar This morning I awoke feeling uncertain about the direction my life was taking. Was it what I wanted in all areas? Was I right to be living where I wanted to, in London, away from family? Was I doing the “right thing” restructuring my business, and was I doing the “right thing” going away for two months next year? I’ve had a few days like this recently, and while I’d like to blame it on my external circumstances, I know differently. I’m simply feeling stuck in thought. I learned this in what I perceive as “the hard way.” Three years ago, I experienced trauma that left me feeling empty and abandoned. I got married. You wouldn’t think that this was a traumatic experience, but in the space of one month (and for no apparent reason whatsoever), my family told me that I was “no longer part of their family” and that I “deserved” to be abandoned by my dad when I was four, and my new mother-in-law to be told me that she had “never liked me but that she would try.” Also, I lost my best friend of ten years. It’s safe to say that my wedding day was a blur and I felt broken. Instead of experiencing wedded bliss, I ended up questioning my relationship and traveling alone to try to “find myself.” Really, I was trying to escape my pain and run from the uncertainty I was feeling about life. Fast forward three years, and I now know something different. When we are feeling uncertain or doubtful, trying to predict the future or trying to work out the past—whenever we are not in the moment—it is because we are actually caught up in our thinking. Sure, we can blame many of our external circumstances for these feelings and choices—there are plenty of things that have occurred this week that I could say have “made me” feel uncertain. But since I’ve discovered the truth of who I really am, I now know that my uncertainty is, in fact, coming from me. Ultimately, our thinking influences how we experience the external world, which means we have a choice in how our circumstances impact us. That being said, it is human nature, and completely normal, to get caught up in our feelings about external events at times. The point is that we don’t need to be scared of our human experience or try to think our way out of it; we just need to accept our feelings until they pass. It’s an Inside-Out Reality As I journeyed through life after what felt like a breakdown, I came across a profound understanding about the nature of our human experience, which totally transformed the way I saw and danced with life. I now call this my “Transformational Truth principles.” These principles explain how our entire reality is thought-created, which means that everything we see in the world and everything we feel comes from our thinking So, using my current experience as an example: I’ve been feeling uncertain about where I should live, whether I should travel for such a long time, and how I’m going to restructure my business and maintain my finances. I know that I am feeling anxious about these things solely because of my thoughts. If I weren’t worried about uncertainty (if I didn’t have an “uncertainty bothers me” lens), then it wouldn’t upset me at all. If I focused on the potential of my business growth, the excitement of the travel journey, and the beautiful feeling of living where I want to be living in London, I’d be feeling that thinking instead. So, external events that are happening can’t impact us, unless what we believe about them bothers us. It’s the same with anything. If someone criticizes us, it can’t impact us unless we believe it ourselves. Say someone criticized my creative talents, for example; I would probably laugh because I see myself as creative. If, like with my wedding, they criticized my worthiness, my ability to be loved, or left me, I might sob into my pillow for days, because at times, like many of us, I doubt my self-worth and question if I’m lovable. Just because people thought I was unlovable, that doesn’t mean I am. The only reason it impacted me was because I believed it myself. In this way the external only ever points us to what we think about ourselves, and not to the truth. Our Thoughts Are Not the Truth We get so caught up in believing our own stories that we often forget to step back and see that what we think is just thought. Thoughts aren’t always facts. What’s more, you might notice how our thinking fluctuates. We can think differently about the same thing in each different moment. That’s because our thoughts are transient, and fresh new thinking is available to us in each moment. When you understand this, you might well wonder, “Well, what is the truth then?” The truth is underneath our thinking. Within all of us there is a wisdom—a clarity—that is innately accessible to us, if we just allow the space to listen to it. We do this by simply seeing our thoughts as “just thought” floating around in our head. Noticing this allows our thoughts to drop away—without us doing anything. Allowing Space and Flowing Usually, instead, we are likely to have a whole host of thoughts around how to react when we feel anxious about uncertainty. For me personally, I would usually want to force and control things in order to “fix” my lack of certainty over my relationship or whatever my uncertainty might be in the moment—living where I was living, traveling, or restructuring my business. You might make lists of action plans, or work out worst-case scenarios, or analyze why it happened. This has always been a temptation of mine, and I spent months on this after my wedding, trying to work out if I should be with my husband or not, whether life would forever be difficult if I had children, why my in-laws didn’t like me, and why my dad left. But, again, in the same way I now understand that it is not the external that creates my feelings about uncertainty, I also understand that there is no need to force certainty, or even look for the “why.” Sometimes there isn’t one. Certainty Is an Illusion It’s an illusion that there is any certainty in the first place. Life is always evolving and, as such, there is no safety net beyond the one we imagine. We do this all the time, but the only certainty in life is that there isn’t any! Anything we predict is just our mind trying to “fix something,” which is futile. It can seem scary to think that we have no certainty, that we can’t fix things, but when we understand that there is actually nothing to fix—because nothing is broken—we can settle back into the flow of life. I’m not saying it always feels easy, but I have experienced how my feelings about my wedding traumas settled down when I began to understand this. We Are Universally Guided and Already Whole We only see that there is something to “fix” because this is, again, our construction of reality. We are unlearning thousands of years of conditioning of how we view the world: ideas that certainty exists, and that we need to fix ourselves if things don’t look how we think they should. Sydney Banks, the original inspirer of my Transformational Truth principles, said: “If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.” Because, actually, there is nothing to fear. I believe we are always exactly where we need to be—because we are part of this amazingly miraculous universe, which is guided by some sort of powerful intelligence that no one really understands. In this way, we are already whole, always connected, and always safe. There is nothing to fix, because we are not broken. Ultimately, the “answer” we are looking for is pointless. There is no “answer,” and we don’t need one. All we need to do is see how life really works and allow ourselves to accept where we are in each moment, knowing that it is a transient, thought-created experience of life. We just need to flow, move with what happens, and sit in our feelings, knowing that they are thought-based, they can’t harm us, and they will soon pass. In her poem “She Is a Frontier Woman,” Sukhvinder Sircar explains this well in saying that all we really need to do is hold on to the tension of not knowing and not press the panic button. Allow the Creative Force of Life Flow And so, this morning, as I woke feeling uncertain, I got out my yoga mat and journal. I stretched, I moved my body, I sat in the feelings I had, knowing that they would pass, even though they felt horrible. I knew that they were not part of me, but simply my thinking, trying to convince me of something I believed that was fundamentally not the truth. I let go. I flowed. I accepted what I didn’t know. I didn’t press the panic button. Instead, I wrote this. In the space where I could have (and would have previously) worried and attempted to solve things, the creative force of life—which is actually underneath all of our thoughts—simply flowed through me. In a much more beautiful way than it could have done had I indulged my imagined beliefs about the external. When we sit back, creation gifts us with exactly what we need in each moment. We simply need to understand how this works and allow it. This post is courtesy of Tiny Buddha. View the full article
  25. ​​Social anxiety is finally becoming a more understood disorder. In the past, it was treated with less than stellar seriousness in both the professional and non-professional world. Often mistaken for shyness or even antisocial qualities, we now see that this is a very real phobia that can have a painful impact on the sufferer’s life. Teenagers and Social Pressure Teenagers are one group that is especially prone to social anxiety. The myriad of social stigmas associated with adolescence and growing to adulthood are hard enough. But then you add in the need to perform well in school, the competitiveness of modern academics and college applications, the dynamics of their peer groups, changing bodies, still forming minds, problems at home and a host of other factors. Is it any wonder depression and anxiety are such a serious problem for teenagers? Genetics may be a contributing element at play, as well. A study by the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Bonn found that a serotonin transporter called SLC6A4 could have a significant impact on the chances a person will suffer from social anxiety. If you have social anxiety, there is a chance your kid could end up with it as well. Then there is technology. The world moves a mile a minute, and every second of every day seems to be recorded for posterity. Every young person is under a constant microscope. We all remember the days when we did stupid, reckless things in our youth. But we were fortunate enough not to have it go viral to be forever documented online. Pressure to stay connected and on social media at all times, added to the threat of negative response, cyberbullying and perception of reality caused by social media may be ramping up that anxiety that teens feel. Teaching Teens to Cope with Social Anxiety Social anxiety causes stress. When that stress is mild, it can be a positive force, pushing someone to perform better, act with more care and operate outside of their comfort zone. But when social phobia is present, that stress will reach higher levels, eventually becoming toxic. So, how do we help teach our teens to cope with that toxic stress level? By attacking it from two angles: for the phobia and for the stress itself. Expose Them More, Not Less – Your teen’s natural inclination is going to be to withdraw. But you should be encouraging them to interact more with their peers. That could be done in a safe place, or during an activity they enjoy. It is just important that they don’t shy away from social situations. Teach Them Breathing Techniques – When they are interacting, they might find themselves panicking at first. Remember that social anxiety is a real condition and it often has a physical impact. Teach your child to breathe through the belly, taking deep breaths through the nose so their stomach rounds, holding it for three seconds, then releasing it slowly. Let Them Take a Break – If they are overwhelmed, and mindful breathing is having no effect, let them step away. Sometimes they will need a break to collect themselves and quiet their anxiety. You also might try setting a time goal for social situations, such as one hour at an event, then letting them go home. Listen and Assure – Your teen might not feel like you understand them and their feelings. Encourage them to open up about how they feel. Be supportive and build trust. Really hear what they have to say. Seek Professional Help – Sometimes coping strategies just aren’t enough. If your child seems to be getting worse or they are seeing serious negative consequences, seek professional help. Therapy and medication may be necessary to overcome their social anxiety. By doing these things, you can give your children the tools to manage their social anxiety and go into adulthood strong and confident. Citations Medina, Joanna, PhD, ‘Social Anxiety Disorder Symptoms’, PsychCentral, https://psychcentral.com/disorders/anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder-symptoms/ Forstner, Andreas J. et. al. ‘Further evidence for genetic variation at the serotonin transporter gene SLC6A4contributing toward anxiety,’ Psychiatric Genetics, https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00041444-201706000-00003 Rowe, Jasmina, ‘How Kids Experience Stress’, KidsMatter, https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/health-and-community/enewsletter/how-kids-experience-stress Wood, Janice, ‘Pressure For Social Media 24/7 Linked to Teen Anxiety and Depression’, PsychCentral, https://psychcentral.com/news/2015/09/12/pressure-to-be-on-social-media-247-linked-to-teen-anxiety-and-depression/92145.html Liahona Academy, ‘Standing Up For Teen Anxiety’, https://www.liahonaacademy.com/standing-up-for-teen-anxiety-infographic.html View the full article
  1. Load more activity

Announcements

×