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  1. Earlier
  2. Uncertainty is the reigning emotion during critical times. The response to our feelings may depend on our physical, emotional, and mental health circumstances. The turmoil in the world can surely make for a perfect emotional daily storm. Our protective mind may advise us to curl up in bed and stay there. However, will avoidance provide us with moments of joy despite the turbulence and uncertainty around us? We are constantly being triggered by external signals. We may be aware of how our body and mind respond, but sometimes we may not consciously recognize it. When awareness is absent, we can quickly become entangled with unpleasant and unhelpful thoughts. Uncertainty can take over and panic may follow. It has been said that “if you are not willing to have it, you will.” The more you resist uncertainty, the more pain and suffering occurs. Just the prospect of embracing uncertainty is distressing. However, you know the alternative. Looking for certainty in life is like trying to find gold at the end of the rainbow. Will you then consider the following steps that can help when you feel overwhelmed by uncertainty?* 1. Acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. When your mind begins to provide you with unhelpful advice, acknowledge what you are noticing in the moment of discomfort. For example, “I am noticing thoughts related to uncertainty; I am noticing the feeling of anxiety. I am noticing the bodily sensation of nausea and rapid heart rate.” Thoughts, feelings and sensations are natural internal events. They come and they go, but when you start evaluating, try to fix, or fight them, you become stuck with them. Notice if acknowledging them is more effective. Acknowledge your internal events as needed throughout the day. 2. Breathe In and out slowly. As you exhale, picture the air flowing into the area of your body where you feel the sensation related to uncertainty. Do not misunderstand this step. You are not trying to breathe the sensation away. Your task is to notice your breathing and let the air go into and around the sensation to get you ready for the next step. 3. Create Space for Uncertainty As you continue to breathe in and around uncertainty, imagine creating room for it in your body. Take a stance of curiosity. For example, think of the sensation as if it were a tangible thing. What shape, color, and texture does uncertainty have right now? Where does it begin and end in your body? Does it have a sound or vibration? Make space for uncertainty, and notice it with interest. 4. Decide to Allow Uncertainty Uncertainty is unpleasant. You don’t have to like it. You only need to decide to allow it and keep expanding the space for it while it is visiting you in this very moment. Observe it, and let it take its natural course without pushing it away. Sometimes your emotions and sensations related to uncertainty will change. If they change, notice and acknowledge as described above. When you feel like you have created enough room for the initial sensation, go ahead and repeat the steps with the new emotion and/or sensation that has emerged. 5. Engage in What Matters Most When you feel compelled to resist and/or obsess, will that help you become the person you want to be? When the urge is irresistible and you do something to find relief, will it take you closer to who and what matters most in your life? You can devote your precious energy and time to connecting with your loved ones and engaging life — doing what really matters. Uncertainty is part of the human condition, and you can choose what kind of relationship you’ll have with it. Following the steps above is a way to start changing your mindset. You can develop curiosity as doubts present themselves. Remember that when storms are upon you, they are opportunities for personal growth and learning. You are not alone. We are all in this together. You can embrace uncertainty, and as you build resilience, take advantage of your strengths and gifts to bring value to those around you. You can do this! “When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” – Margaret Drabble Reference: *Russ Harris, The Happiness Trap: How To Stop Struggling and Start Living, Boston, MA: Trumpeter Books, 2008. View the full article
  3. One of the most confusing feelings is when you feel both calm and anxious at the same time. It can seem like a constant battle in your mind. One-minute life feels normal, the next it seems frightening. Or you find yourself going along with your day and suddenly realize you’re supposed to feel worried, and so you start worrying because you’re not worried enough. It’s a frustrating and confusing way to exist. Unfortunately, when there are events that affect the world around us on a large scale, and over which we have no control, this feeling isn’t uncommon. Many of us are existing in a heightened state of anxiety right now. It’s no wonder — coronavirus, earthquakes, riots, and, yes, even UFOs have dominated the news and, in many cases, have turned our lives upside down. Even those of us who feel like we’re coping and getting through things fairly well are dealing with a certain level of discomfort that can be hard to put your finger on. The impact that today’s circumstances are having on people vary a great deal. Some of these impacts are quite clear and yet some are so subtle that you may claim they don’t exist. Except they do and the effects and repercussions of living in the current conditions can take a large toll, whether you recognize it at that moment or not. So how can we cope and maintain a calm, hopeful, and purposeful approach to life, when it seems like the world around us has gone mad? Acknowledge the Circumstances Before you can really begin to cope you need to acknowledge that circumstances are stressful and not what we would consider normal. We often overlook doing this because our brains are wired to try and create order out of chaos. So, we immediately try to assimilate and, often unknowingly, try to make things feel normal even when they’re clearly not. This is both good and bad. On the good side, our natural inclination to look for a way to create normalcy and a functional framework for each day helps make our lives work and can create calm. Finding structure allows us to progress from day-to-day, attempting to be productive and positive. Most of us need this in order to thrive — this is especially true for children. But sweeping the frightening, uncomfortable, or painful state of things to the side has a downside. When our lives become unsettled and disrupted it causes stress and anxiety. This is a normal response, and not just a psychological one either but also a physiological one as well. Turning a blind eye will only amplify the anxiety response and it can manifest in unexpected and unpredictable ways. Some people may find they become easily agitated and even develop anger issues. Others may go into a depressive state, or find that they feel sick, shaky for no defined reason, unable to concentrate, or just constantly uncomfortable. This is one place where the “I feel fine and not fine at the same time” feeling can develop and this duality in feelings can make it harder to address. So, acknowledging the circumstances is crucial. It’s perfectly acceptable to admit that things aren’t normal, that you don’t like it, and that a radical left-turn in your life and routine makes you unhappy. Once you give conscious recognition to these feelings, you’re ready to figure out the best way to cope. Coping with a Crazy World Finding a way to cope and make the best out of a bad situation will look a bit different for each of us. But there are some general principles that, when employed, can make things easier. Share your sorrow and fear. When large scale events occur, whether it’s a pandemic or a natural disaster, there are enormous groups of people affected. As sad as this is, it’s also unifying. These types of circumstances don’t discriminate and there is a tremendous commonality in feeling and response. It can be tempting to withdraw and focus on taking care of yourself and immediate family, but that can also be very isolating and lonely. So you should also reach out to people around you. You now have a shared experience and something immediately in common. In the case of the our current state of physical distancing and social restrictions this may be a more virtual effort than ever before. But if there were ever a time for social media to do good it’s now. Reject feeling helpless. This can be tough for many of us. When events are out of our control it’s easy to feel like you are at the mercy of everything around you. You’re not. Yes, you may have new limitations and be suffering in certain ways, but don’t let yourself fall prey to the feeling of helplessness that can creep over you. One thing that can help is to make a list of the things you can do and take charge of doing them. Indulge in healthy. Comfort food and comfortable clothes seem, well, comforting when things are scary or sad. But beware — too much of that and you’ll just feel worse. It’s a much better idea to indulge in the healthy activities and foods that perhaps you haven’t had time for before this. Swear. Not in front of your kids, not at your boss, not at strangers, etc. But studies show that using expletives at the appropriate time can reduce tension and anxiety and actually make you feel better. So, if you hate the state of things, try locking yourself in the bathroom and letting the f-bombs fly. You probably feel a lot f#$%ing better. Whatever your strategy is, managing your feelings and response during stressful times can be a challenge. But give yourself permission to dislike it, feel sad and scared, and then make an effort to move forward. View the full article
  4. Phobiasupportforum

    COVID-19 and Responsibility OCD

    A few months ago, our world turned upside down. Suddenly we faced “a new normal” — we started fearing everyday germs that we’ve never worried about before. Suddenly we were all washing our hands all day long, we were fearful of touching subway poles, and we were avoiding touching the bottoms of our shoes when coming in from outside. And perhaps most distressing of all, we were left with the constant lingering thoughts of “have I done enough to protect myself and my loved ones?” For a segment of society, though, was this really the new normal? For people like me who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, suddenly it felt like the whole world was experiencing what I had already known as my normal. Of course, I wasn’t used to staying indoors and working from home, but in terms of the compulsive handwashing, the lingering fears of contamination, and the constant worry of whether I had been careful enough were already part of my everyday life. This novel coronavirus brought a reality that most had never experienced. For some of us, though, there was an aspect of normalcy that others experienced as novel. As I discussed with my therapist, it felt like the world was finally experiencing a day-in-the-life of an OCD sufferer. As I think about the hardest parts of this for me, though, I believe that it is the notion that so much depends on each individual’s willingness to stop the spread of the virus. We were told on a daily basis that our individual actions could be the difference between spreading or containing this deadly virus. We listened to doctors and politicians tell us that wearing masks, washing our hands, and not going outside when sick could be the difference between life and death — not just for me, but for you. I’ve been spending time thinking about the responsibility aspect of COVID-19. And I’ve realized that for most, this message of being responsible for one another’s safety is highly effective. I understand the importance of educating the public on what it means to be a good neighbor and what it means to make decisions that are selfless, even when inconvenient. Indeed, the very notion of wearing a mask is to protect others, not to protect yourself. And I think for 99% of the population, this message is not only effective, but crucial. For the percentage of the population with OCD, though, this message is desperately difficult to absorb. One of the lesser known sides of OCD is the fear of accidentally being the cause of harm to others. What we often see as germaphobia for people with OCD is actually the fear that being careless with germs is scary not because it’s harmful to me, but because it will be harmful to my loved ones. When we see people with OCD checking that they haven’t left the stove on, they aren’t checking just because they worry about their own safety but because they fear that their carelessness will cause a building to burn and injure their family members, apartment neighbors, or others. The idea of being responsible for someone else’s safety is painfully difficult to manage because the mind can run frantic with doubt of whether one has been careful enough and whether they have done everything perfectly in order to protect those whom they love. And so, herein lies the painfully difficult part of COVID-19 for people with OCD. Our usual feelings of hyper-responsibility are now heightened with warnings from public leaders that, indeed, our actions can be the difference between life and death. That, indeed, my decision to wash my hands for at least 20 seconds can be the difference between whether COVID-19 does or doesn’t spread. People with OCD, though, often have a difficult time ever feeling comfortable that they have done enough. So, while you absorb the message from leaders and wear a mask for others, we wear our mask and still worry that maybe the mask isn’t secure enough to keep others safe. While you wash your hands once before serving food to your kids, we wash our hands more often and longer because we can’t shake the feeling that we aren’t being careful enough. For you, you feel proud of yourself for taking care of your fellow Americans. For us, we feel scared that our care isn’t careful enough. And for you, when COVID-19 is over, you’ll return to your old normal, while we’ll remain in the zone of this new normal that most are excited to hopefully never experience again. View the full article
  5. I feel very grateful to have found a portal I can use to experience a compelling sense of inner peace. I want to share it with you in the hopes that you can join me in my serenity, regardless of what is going on around you in the outside world. I simply visualize that my psyche is a mountain. At the top is the thinking part of my brain, in the middle are my feelings, and at the bottom is my subconscious and all the other parts of my mind that lurk around outside of my active awareness. Running underneath and through this mountain is an inviting stream of peace. A peace I can jump into at any moment to carry me away to a beautiful place I can’t describe in mere words. However, when I am there, I am drenched in stillness and presence. This stream meanders from my mountain as I transcend my mind and venture into an alluring and distant domain. I am sometimes in a canoe as I float by sandy banks and pine trees and gaze at clouds as they pass through the sky. Other times I am flowing in warm, white light which leaves me feeling like I just pulled a quilt over my head as I lay in bed on a cold winter’s night. I savor going to my stream when I meditate because I know I have ample time to venture beyond the limitations of my mind and reach deeper and deeper levels of bliss, far from the challenges of the quickly disappearing outside world. I also go to my stream whenever I have unwanted thoughts or crave a moment of silence amidst the noise in my head or the outside world. I used to have to remind myself to jump into my stream, but now go there instinctively whenever the need arises. Finally, my stream has helped me overcome intense fear and anxiety during highly traumatic moments in my life. A few years ago, I found myself lying helplessly on a gurney in a very crowded hospital emergency room after an EKG revealed that I might have had a heart attack. I worked myself into a lather of despair as I pondered my mortality and thought about all the beloved family and friends that I would leave behind if I died. Suddenly, I was jolted out of my distress by the beckoning of my stream and quickly dove in. I closed my eyes, let go of any semblance of control over my life and began drifting away from the chaos around me and into a state of inner comfort and safety. Although I certainly did not feel happy and was still aware of my predicament, I did experience a desperately needed sanctuary from my suffering. Fortunately, it turned out I was fine and I returned to enjoying all life has to offer. However, I will always value the fact that I was able to find some peace of mind despite my perilous situation. When I am in my stream, I feel very close to myself. I also feel deeply connected to all of humanity and relish the awareness that my fellow human beings have been finding their own portals into peace since we began walking around on two feet. Whether through meditation, yoga, prayer, strolling in the woods or simply gazing at a beautiful sunset, we all long for peace of mind. We spend our entire lives inside ourselves and it is a lot more pleasant if we have inner harmony rather than emotional turmoil. I love to read the writings of the great women and men who have spoken eloquently about how we can achieve wellbeing and abundance. My favorite is the poet Rumi who wrote: Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. One of the most fruitful epiphanies I have experienced is that I can be immersed in my stream and still live the life I want in the outside world. In fact, I am more productive and effective because I am mindfully focused on the task at hand and can hear the guidance and wisdom of my “inner voice.” As a therapist and life coach, I routinely encourage my clients to identify a real or imagined place that brings them a sense of quietude. The beach is the most popular destination, although I have heard about many appealing spots, including one client who visualized that he was a frog sitting on a log in a pond on a hot summer’s day. I then use guided meditations to lead my clients to their tranquil scene, far from their problems and worries. I love the look of contentment on their faces along with their frequent tears as they arrive and bask in their inner calm. It is often difficult for my clients who have been traumatized to give themselves the gift of inner peace because they erroneously believe they need their fear and anxiety to shield themselves from danger. I assure them that these emotions do not protect them and that they will be able to take even better care of themselves if they are peaceful. For instance, I recently asked a client who was visualizing that she was sitting on the bank of a beautiful lake if she would still be able to move to safety if the woods around her caught on fire. She smiled, responded “of course,” and settled back into her deep relaxation. Once my clients have developed the ability to access their peacefulness, they have renewed energy and focus to change what they can in themselves and their lives. The emotional pain that brought them to therapy fades away and they experience greater happiness and fulfillment. Now it’s your turn. Close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths and visualize that you are jumping into the stream of inner peace we will share. There is plenty of room and you richly deserve the serenity and abundance which await you! View the full article
  6. As a chronic worrier, ongoing anxiety warrior, and general wary-of-what’s-going-to-happen-next kind of person, I know how healing it can be to practice the art of living in the present. As simple as that goal seems, though, it sometimes proves a lot harder than it sounds. I’ve read numerous articles and books on the subject, including Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, which offers specific practices on how to connect to the outer world and, even more importantly, to the stillness of our inner being to help anchor ourselves in the present moment. As Tolle points out, people can cope with whatever arises in the here and now (even if it’s an emergency, one can spring into action), yet it’s practically impossible to deal with something that is only a mind projection into the future — or the wish-I-could-change-things way of thinking of the past. Living in the present, then, can help decrease the anxiety of future what-ifs and alleviate the depression of past regrets. And while I highly recommend Tolle’s teachings and often reread (and keep underlining) his book’s messages, I still struggle. Looking around, I know others are as well. Even the people I know who practice living in the here and now and meditate on a daily basis suffer from the bows and arrows of both life circumstances and inner emotional pain. So… how can we deal the reality of hardship while striving to thrive in the now? I believe, first of all, it’s important to know that both our physical and emotional worlds are things we need to acknowledge and tend to. In other words, if you’re dealing with incredible back pain, it may help to get it diagnosed by a health care practitioner and then heed whatever treatment plan that will heal or alleviate your physical distress. Likewise, if you’re in deep emotional pain, you may want to seek the expertise of a professional — or even a trusted friend — to help you understand where it stems from and what actions you can take to deal with it. Also, know that if you’re living with ongoing mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and OCD, it’s important to acknowledge your triggers and know that it may be extra challenging to practice staying in the here and now (which doesn’t mean it won’t help you in the long run — even if you may encounter setbacks). Then, too, most of us have to deal — at one time or another, at least — with devastating life circumstances such as natural disasters, death of a loved one, loss of job and/or home, etc. During these times, we can feel as if we’re treading on the sea of survival. We not only have to deal with the stark reality of today — but also have to plan for the future in a much bigger way than before. Practicing the present joy of the sun on our faces and connecting to the stillness of our inner voice can be that much more difficult — but even more powerful — during these trying times. As Tolle points out in his book Practicing the Power of Now, even if you learn to accept the reality of your current situation (whether it stems from devastation or simple stagnation), it doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to it. You can still see what needs to be done, take action, and do one thing at a time to make a positive change toward a more positive direction. The practice of living in the now, then, doesn’t mean that we deflect real life circumstances, emotions, mental health conditions and our physical bodies as mere distractions. We still take appropriate action; we still plan for the future. Taking action and planning in the present moment, though, is quite different from the rumination cycle of reliving past mistakes and fretting over future events. When we plant our feet in the reality of the here and now, we are more likely to stay clear headed, make positive, solution-based decisions — and hopefully be able to hold onto a deeper peace of mind — even while in turmoil. I, myself, am working on it, at least! View the full article
  7. What could possibly go wrong? Well, pretty much everything — says your brain. In today’s Psych Central Podcast, Gabe talks with Kevin Stacey, an effectiveness expert, author and former brain imaging specialist. Kevin explains how and why your brain often acts as your worst enemy, giving you a constant flow of fake news. What can we do about it? Can we make our brain a more positive ally? Tune in for a great discussion on reigning in your inner critic. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Kevin Stacey- Reduce Daily Worry’ Podcast Episode Kevin Stacey, MBA, is an effectiveness expert, author, and former brain imaging specialist who removes barriers to performance, boosts resiliency, and accelerates results- no matter what. He combines his military background, management training, experience as a healthcare clinician, and successful manager at the nation’s largest managed care company to be a catalyst for workplace improvement. After starting his medical career at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Kevin now brings the principals of neuroscience into the modern business world to effect change from the inside-out. Kevin has a proven record of helping organizations enhance their effectiveness and bottom line. From IBM, The New York Times, Ford Motor Company, JP Morgan Chase, Pharmacia, Bayer, Goody Hair Care, United Technologies, Boeing, and Sara Lee, he has worked with the world’s best and brightest and studied the effects of self-created problems in organizations and individuals along with the most effective antidotes to combat it. His services help these and other clients achieve increased performance, sales, higher employee retention, greater job satisfaction, and improved service quality. He is CEO and founder of TrainRight, Inc., with a highly-skilled team of facilitators offering programs globally. About The Psych Central Podcast Host Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author. To learn more about Gabe, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Kevin Stacey- Reduce Daily Worry‘ Episode Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Announcer: You’re listening to the Psych Central Podcast, where guest experts in the field of psychology and mental health share thought-provoking information using plain, everyday language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard. Gabe Howard: Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Podcast. Calling into the show today, we have Kevin Stacey, MBA. He’s an effectiveness expert, author and former brain imaging specialist who removes barriers to performance, boosts resiliency and accelerates results, no matter what. He’s the author of MindRight: Navigate the Noise – How to deal with your internal fake news. Kevin, welcome to the show. Kevin Stacey, MBA: Thank you, Gabe, so much for having me. Gabe Howard: Kevin, I’m really glad you’re on the show, because I think a lot of us get bogged down in our own negative self talk. Can you give us some sort of an explanation or a definition of negative self talk? Kevin Stacey, MBA: Sure, Gabe, you know, it’s so frustrating for people and I’ve seen some stuff lately, they think the US, we’re considered the most unhappiest kind of wealthy nation in the world. I think they’re much happier out there in Finland or some of those European countries. But, you know, with the negative self talk it is just this background kind of chatter that goes on, it’s almost like death by a thousand paper cuts, it needles with it. And so many people just aren’t even aware that they’re doing it. It’s just that’s how they grew up. They’re just so used to this background, automatic negative thoughts. The brain is very negative, unfortunately. Our brains have a negativity bias and the brain just really wants to speculate on what’s going wrong. What could go wrong? What might be wrong with this picture? How I might be in danger. And it’s just inner criticism, self-criticism, inner critic, kind of out of control, this is what I mean by internal fake news. It’s kind of news that appears real. But it’s really just fake because it’s our brain trying to protect us from physical danger. And it’s really just silly and outdated job. Gabe Howard: One of the things that I think of when I hear negative self talk is a conversation that I have with my wife about once a week. Kevin Stacey, MBA: Right. Gabe Howard: I say to her, oh, my God, you’re so positive. You’re basically Pollyanna. And she says to me, well, you’re so negative. And I say, I’m not negative. I’m a realist. Kevin Stacey, MBA: So I guess that’s what they mean by opposites attract. Gabe Howard: I think it is, but in my mind, I’m not being negative, I’m being realistic. The negative things I find aren’t fake. They are real. I’m worried about paying bills or worried about work. But of course, my wife is pointing this out because I imagine it’s unbearable to live with somebody who is just constantly walking around saying, hey, the plumbing could leak. Do we have insurance? Kevin Stacey, MBA: Yeah, I mean, it can be tough. People can bring you down, but good to be prepared. It’s good to have financial plans. It’s good to have backup plans. But I just think at some point people have to just ask themselves, how would I like things to go? How would they like things to be? A lot of us are just such experts in our problems or perceived problems or speculating over problems that we’re just experts not in solving them but just describing them to other people. Gabe Howard: That’s a really good point that you brought up there, that we’re experts in describing them, but we’re not experts in fixing them. Kevin Stacey, MBA: Well, just the analysis paralysis, the rumination is what psychologists call it, just the getting stuck in the problem and kind of looping around and looping around. And some people, I think they want to act like victims, like you could ask the, well, what do you think you could do about that? And some people just really aren’t ready to think about or talk about solutions. They just want to be stuck in the problem. For some people that works for them. The victim mentality, some people that works for them to get people to feel bad for them. Some people get attention this way or, you know, most people do what works for them on some level. But it really just affects the immune system and affects the health and it attracts a lot of negative things. And if you’ve heard, Gabe, much above the law of attraction. But I just don’t want to think negatively. I just don’t want to attract negative things in my life. You know, again, I don’t want to irresponsibly be unprepared for something, preparation with hand grenades in war. If you’re in that situation, you think of all the negative scenarios that could happen. But life is too short to go through life that way and be attracting and thinking of all these things. Gabe Howard: You’re also sort of describing time and place, right? There is a time to be critical and focus on what could go wrong. And then there’s just the Saturday with your family. Kevin Stacey, MBA: Yeah. Gabe Howard: So, OK. You’re one of these negative thinkers, you’re Gabe Howard. I am a chronic pessimist and I’m a chronic negative thinker. And I don’t want to be this way. What do I do? Kevin Stacey, MBA: Well, first step is just to notice it and recognize it. You know, that’s 80% of it, if you can recognize it and notice it. Great. So just saying, hey, my name’s Gabe Howard. I’m a little too much of a nervous Nellie. I’m a little too much negative and just recognize that, first of all. And then secondly, just be able to say to yourself, how is this harming me? How is this hurting? How is this attracting negative things into my life? And thirdly, don’t reinforce things that you don’t want to be true. So don’t keep saying, hey, I’m Gabe and I’m a worrier. Just say I’m getting better or I’m becoming more positive or I’m letting go or. That’s the old me or I’m changing from that. And I’m always growing and changing. So I’m becoming more positive and I’m thinking more about what I’d like to have happen. You know, Gabe, this whole question, how would you like things to go? What would you like to have happen? Very few people can answer that. Most people would just go on and on again with how they don’t want things to go, or how I don’t want things to happen. Gabe Howard: It’s really interesting you said that because as you were giving me the question, I thought, huh? How would I like things to go? Kevin Stacey, MBA: Yeah. Gabe Howard: And I tend to come up with well, I’d like to be happy. Well, you know, that’s a nebulous concept. I’d like to make more money. Well, how much more? If I make an extra dollar am I happy? Kevin Stacey, MBA: Right. Gabe Howard: One of the things in the title of your book is how to get your mind right and navigate the noise. So how do people get their mind right and navigate the noise? Kevin Stacey, MBA: Well, part of it, Gabe, is sometimes you’ve just got to ignore it. Just look at it as noise to look at it as background static and background noise, because we don’t ignore things that we feel are more important and, you know, ignore the noise is an easy phrase to say. And lots of people say it, even though a lot of sports teams and where I’m from, the Patriots in New England, they would, they have a sign in their locker rooms, just ignore the noise. So some of us need to navigate it by just doing a better job ignoring it. Some of us need to look at our brains more with more skepticism and understand that we have a negativity bias. The brain’s job is to print the newspaper every day. It has to print something. It has to come up with something. But again, it’s mostly speculating on the negativity. It’s much more biased toward fulfilling an outdated need to protect us from physical danger. So, A, ignore it and B, look at it with more skepticism and say this is not the God gospel truth. This is not totally accurate. This is just an old job of my brain trying to protect me. Kevin Stacey, MBA: And then thirdly, what I think we need to be doing is going on the offensive. I think it would be fascinating if everybody was just given a 3-D pie chart with their emotional state, say, OK, these were your average emotional states. In other words, 65% of the time you were in the emotional state of fear or stress or frustration. And then what percentage, was it 40 or 20 where you were exhilarated? Were you happy? Were you upbeat? What is your percentage? Because you know, Gabe, when you talk about making more money. We think we want these things. But what we really want is the experiences that we think these things are going to give us. So, you know, if Gabe Howard told me, he said, yeah, you know, I want to win the lottery, that’s great. But why would you want to win the lottery? I wouldn’t have to worry about money anymore. So then I say, OK, well, can you just give yourself the experience of not worrying about money? Can you just give yourself the experience of feeling a sense of abundance and gratitude for that? And that’s what we need to do more. Gabe Howard: You know, my uncle has a saying that the amount of money that you need to make is $100 more than you’re currently making because you’re always a Kevin Stacey, MBA: Yes. Gabe Howard: Hundred dollars away from something. And obviously, that’s just this never fulfilling prophecy. And I think about that. And I think, well, yeah, I do that. I currently am making more money at this stage in my life than I ever have before, but I’m no more happier at 43 than I was at 25. And I think Kevin Stacey, MBA: Right. Gabe Howard: About that a lot because it’s kind of a bummer, because I remember 25 year old Gabe. He just wanted to be married and own a house. But, 43 year old Gabe wants to be married and own a house and go on vacations more or, you know, whatever. And I know that you said that our brains resting state is negativity. Why do you think that is? Is it really just to protect us? I mean, because it seems like positivity would protect us more because we’d be happy. Kevin Stacey, MBA: Yeah, you know what it is, Gabe? The brain hasn’t caught up. Our brains are in desperate need of an app update. There was an upgrade from the App Store. It’s just our brains haven’t caught up with the reality of our environment. The likelihood of us meeting a sudden and violent death on a daily basis is pretty low. Gabe Howard: We’ll be right back. After we hear from our sponsors. Sponsor Message: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counseling. Our counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counseling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Gabe Howard: We’re back discussing why our brains are so negative with author Kevin Stacey. Kevin Stacey, MBA: What people don’t realize is that human beings have been walking upright on this planet for four million years. And the latest version of mankind, Homo sapiens sapiens really were getting a foothold 50,000 years ago. So we forget how violent earth was when we we had this debut with our brains. So our brains are really just doing an outdated, obsolete job. So it’s speculating on what could go wrong. Because 50,000 years ago, Gabe, what could go wrong was life or death. Nowadays, what could go wrong is when I may miss out on some revenue or I might have 300 e-mails to answer. My wife could be mad at me or do some repairs on the car. But the brain’s still doing the same job. It’s coming up and speculating on what’s wrong or what could go wrong. The only difference nowadays is the answer to the question is no longer life or death. It’s just about everyday life stuff. But it’s still we’re getting that same fight or flight response, we’re getting the same cortisol rushing into the bloodstream. And it just has so many negative effects on us as a human being as a whole. Gabe Howard: I love your app update analogy, that may be my favorite analogy on the Psych Central podcast ever. But then I think and this may be my favorite question, and I’m excited to have you answer it. How do we update our apps? How do we update our brain? I mean, what can we do? Is this… Does Google have the answer? Is it in Kevin Stacey, MBA: No, Gabe Howard: The App Store? Kevin Stacey, MBA: It’s not in the App Store, you know what you have to do? You have to spend some time each day going on the offense. You have to spend some time each day giving yourself a positive experience. Now, this is not positive thinking. This is a positive experience. This is actually closing your eyes and smiling and thinking about and visualizing and playing a video. It’s actually playing video of something that would excite you, how you’d want things to be, how you’d want things to go. So for you, it might be a video of an awesome vacation that you’re going on with your family and with your wife. And everybody’s calm, everybody’s happy, everybody’s grateful. And you’re not worried about the money. You have an abundance of money and it’s just no problem and no worries of the world. And you smile through this and you feel it and you see it. You see yourself on the beach. You see that calm, clear blue water. You feel those winds, you hear the waves, you get into that experience. So that’s how we rewire. We start to get our neurons going in the direction of creating some neural structure in the direction of how we’d like things to go by having good experiences. Kevin Stacey, MBA: Because I tell you, Gabe, we’re so good at just feeling bad about what our thoughts are, thinking about things that make us feel bad or feel stressed or feel worried. We’re not good at all about thinking about what makes us excited and happy. It’s just giving yourself that experience. And then you attract that and now you’re rewiring. Now you’re giving yourself the app update because you’re reinforcing to your brain, this is a good experience. I’m having a good experience right here, right now. This is an awesome experience. And you’re turning the tide. Slowly rewiring. It’s kind of like compound interest. You have to keep doing it and doing it. So I’m not going to tell your audience this is easy. It’s not easy, but it happens slowly over time. But you just got to do it. I do it when I get up in the morning. I just sit up on the bed, close my eyes, sort of pull up behind my back, smile, and then that gets my neurotransmitters heading in the right direction there. And just think about what would excite me, what would go well, what would make me happy, how would I like this date to go. Very few people do this. Gabe Howard: Very few, I imagine, I think about the negative things, I think about my worry points and then I move on. People who are sort of in the know with mental health, like my listeners are, they know that depression and suicide rates, are at not Kevin Stacey, MBA: Mm-hmm. Gabe Howard: All time highs, but pretty close. Why do you think that depression and suicide rates are at such highs right now? Kevin Stacey, MBA: Just we’re so impatient in our society and we want to rethink the way we want it. And you know, what most people would be well served to do is just go to a third world country for a couple weeks or a month to volunteer at a medical treatment facility out in Syria. And then you’d get that perspective shift. Like some of us, we just need a sudden wake up call. We just need like an ice cold glass of water being thrown in our face and just we have no idea what we have. So I think we just keep looking at what we don’t have. What we don’t have. What’s wrong. What’s wrong. So we’ve got to change this around. We’ve got to savor the positive experiences when they happen and stay with it. The psychology of savoring, I think it’s just fascinating because it creates more neural structure. Maybe volunteer at a children’s cancer ward, Gabe. Help people that are less fortunate than you. And remind yourself how many things you have. Find the gratitude in your life. Ask yourself what you’re grateful about, what you’re excited about. But wouldn’t it be fascinating if a percentage of Americans could just go to a Third World country for a few weeks and then come back and then tell us what problems you think you have? Gabe Howard: I believe that every single American should have to work in retail for two weeks. I really, Kevin Stacey, MBA: Yeah, Gabe Howard: Really do, because Kevin Stacey, MBA: Yeah, that would be awesome. Gabe Howard: Yeah. You ever notice that servers are the best tippers? And you notice that people who work in customer service are the nicest to customer service reps. People who have done their tours of duty at fast food places are a lot less likely to start screaming at the minimum wage employee behind the counter because they’ve Kevin Stacey, MBA: Yeah. Gabe Howard: They’ve dealt with it. They’ve done it. They have that basic understanding. Sincerely, go volunteer at your local McDonald’s for a week and your perspective of life will change dramatically. I really believe that. Kevin Stacey, MBA: I know. It would it be fascinating, Gabe, if they said everybody has to do it for two weeks a year. You’re going to go to McDonald’s, you’re gonna wear that uniform. You’re going to stand at that drive through counter. Wouldn’t that be great for people’s perspectives? Gabe Howard: It would be wonderful if that could happen, and I sincerely believe that it would change people’s perspectives. I don’t know if it would be the equivalent of an app update. I don’t know if it would make people happier. But I know that I hear people angry at customer service workers and their belief is that the customer service worker doesn’t care. I believe that’s where the rage comes in. Right, because their mind goes to the most negative place. The customer service worker is maliciously not getting my order correct or making my food wrong or ensuring that I have a bad experience. And because, of course, they’re doing it on purpose. Kevin Stacey, MBA: Yeah, they assume, you know. I think this whole mindset that people are out to get us and the paranoia. What does that look mean? Why did they say that? Or even you know, the other thing that kills me now, Gabe, is your text hasn’t been replied to or your e-mail message hasn’t been replied to. And then people start making all kinds of assumptions. And speculation means that or it doesn’t mean that the amount of narcissism and self centredness in this country nowadays is just off the charts. No wonder why we’re so unhappy. Gabe Howard: I think you make really, really good points, I I think that we want things now and when we don’t get it now, we assume that somebody is attacking us and then our brains prepare for that attack. That’s I mean, in a nutshell, that’s what you’re saying, right? Kevin Stacey, MBA: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know if any many of your listeners have been to Europe, but I guess in England they call it a queue. They’re just so used to standing in queues. It just doesn’t bother them. They just don’t make all these mental assumptions and conclusions. And then all these, have all these conspiracy theories. The anger isn’t there. I mean, maybe because they were bombed during World War II. Every night they had to go into the subway tunnel. I mean, you know, in America we’ve never experienced that. We’re just so impatient. We lose electricity. We lose Wi-Fi service. Oh, my God. OMG. Emojis, emojis. We’re one of the most miserable societies on record, Gabe. Gabe Howard: And yet we have the most money on record. Kevin Stacey, MBA: Yeah, we have the most money on record, but we’re not mentally tough enough. Nobody’s creating their own videos nowadays where everybody is just watching YouTube. And back before there was television, they used to call radio the theater of the mind because you had to listen to what was being described. And you create these mental pictures, kind of like book reading, you create a mental picture. But nobody is creating mental pictures in their mind of something that they would like, that would excite them, that would make them happy. They’re just creating missile pictures of disasters and problems. And why is this one mad at me or why didn’t this one respond to me? And when is this place gonna get its act together? When is this person going to get their life together? It’s just an epidemic. We’ve got to get more control of this noise. We’ve got to know when to shut it up. We need to know when to ignore it. We need to know when to create our own noise and go on the offense. Gabe Howard: It really sounds like the old timey phrase take time to stop and smell the roses really applies here. Kevin Stacey, MBA: Yeah, not only smell the roses, but feel what the roses make you feel like. Feel that emotion. It’s not positive thinking, it’s positive experiences again, but and the roses are what’s in front of you now. And that’s good. That’s savoring. But what people also need to work on is creating the reality, creating their future, answering the question, how would they like this day or this weekend or the rest of this month to go create a video of that? Put yourself in the video, in the picture, see it, feel it in the brain, also has a novelty bias. So each time you play the video have different levels of detail where you really want to get into it and see it, because this really does it. Now this is the opposite of worrying, right. Worrying is thinking about future events and the way you don’t want it to go, and then feeling the corresponding feelings of tension and anxiety and the nervousness. So this is the opposite of that. Some people would say worrying is the most common form of mental illness. Gabe Howard: I love what you said there, because worrying is just ruminating about something negative over and over and over again, and it impacts your mental health. Whereas, as you put it, if we change the video and if instead of ruminating about a problem, we ruminate about something positive, something that makes me happy. We share those experiences not only with ourselves, but with others. That’s going to impact how we feel as well. But in a positive way. Kevin Stacey, MBA: Yeah, absolutely, because you’re feeling the feeling that the worrying is causing you to feel, which is those negative emotions and it’s about a future event. So, worrying really has two aspects. It’s about a future event, and it’s making you feel anxious, or it’s making it feel negative emotions. But if you were to be so practiced, so proficient at this. But I ask people just for ten minutes. Just close your eyes and smile and think about the future events and the ways that would excite you. And what would that look like? And how would you feel? And try to feel those emotions. Now you’re getting the neurons flowing in the network that maybe have not had a lot of neurons flowing in. Getting that traffic down those roads and those networks from the brain where you want that traffic to go. Gabe Howard: Kevin, I can’t thank you enough. I agree with you. Again, you gave me my favorite analogy ever on the show. I really appreciate that. Where can folks find you and your book? Kevin Stacey, MBA: Sure. You can find me on KevinStacey.com. One of the challenges of my life is you put my name in Google, Kevin Stacey. It comes up as Kevin Spacey and is he guilty or is he innocent? They just assume I’m a misspelling. But it’s just K E V I N S T A C E Y. That’s KevinStacey.com. And then you can get a link to my information on my books and my book on Amazon. MindRight: Navigate the Noise – How to deal with your internal fake news for success, resiliency, mental toughness and peace of mind. And those links should be on there. Gabe Howard: Wonderful, Kevin. Thank you so much. And to my listeners, please rate and subscribe to this podcast. Share us on social media. Use your words, in the description, tell people why you’re sharing the show. And remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, simply by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. We will see everybody next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to The Psych Central Podcast. Want your audience to be wowed at your next event? Feature an appearance and LIVE RECORDING of the Psych Central Podcast right from your stage! For more details, or to book an event, please email us at show@psychcentral.com. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/Show or on your favorite podcast player. Psych Central is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, Psych Central offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at PsychCentral.com. To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at gabehoward.com. Thank you for listening and please share with your friends, family, and followers. View the full article
  8. Admin

    Agoraphobia Relapse Fears

    I am familiar with agoraphobia, not just as a mental health crisis responder but because my own mental illness has manifested into periods of debilitating anxiety. What I now refer to as the breakdown of 2007, was a period of my life where I was struggling with many issues and my mental health suffered greatly as a result. I found it difficult to leave my house and the comfort zone of my home. Staying home as much as possible was the only way I could maintain some sense of sanity, when I was feeling anything but sane. I lived in this state of chronic agoraphobia for many days. This turned into many months and eventually it passed the one-year mark. I left my house only when I absolutely had to, and it felt exhausting both mentally and physically. The process of trying to convince myself that I could leave my house, be okay after I leave my house, and get through the task of whatever I needed to do outside of my house was draining. Reflecting back, I feel a deep sadness for that time in my life that I felt tortured by my own brain. Eventually, I got out of that dark place that I felt cemented in for so long through counseling, self-care, my 12-step recovery program and sometimes sheer determination not to live the rest of my life that way. I had to engage in exposure therapy and be an active participant in the world that I was finding so scary to be part of. It was not an easy mission and there were times I felt suicidal, but I knew that I had to fight for my life. The agoraphobia subsided and eventually life returned to a somewhat normal rhythm. When I say normal rhythm, I mean that although generalized anxiety has never truly left me, I am able to live and thrive with anxiety now with success and ease, in comparison to that time of my life. With that being said, there have been moments that I have felt the whisper of agoraphobia try to inch its way back in my life like it was some evil gremlin. I wondered if I would have what it takes to keep it at bay. Surgeries that have kept me isolated at home for weeks and sometimes months, have tested my resiliency to return to my regular schedule of daily living. Daily living that included working outside my home, volunteering and socializing. Somehow, the thought of going back to the breakdown of 2007 has been enough to keep me vigilant with my mental health so I would not slide back into that bottomless pit of despair to that depth again. As our COVID-19 pandemic unfolded and social distancing was required, I found it easier than others to stay home, self isolate and not go out. I have jokingly shared the memes going around about us anxious folk who have been perfecting social distancing for years. While I reveled in the idea of staying in my comfort zone of home, I became increasingly aware that this situation has the potential to relapse my agoraphobia. When I have to go out, which is sometimes weeks in between, I can feel the anxiety setting in. With this realization, I have had to do a few things to stay connected and an active participant in society to ensure that I can keep my agoraphobia under control. Some of these things include: Getting out of the house once a day, even if it to just go for a drive around my subdivision or to check to mail. Going for regular walks in my neighborhood . Sitting outside every day, a few times a day sometimes. Making sure I am maintaining social relationships by Zoom or video chat. Keeping up my self care routine of online 12-step meetings, meditation and reading These few small routine tasks make a difference in my life to help me maintain some regularity, during such irregular and unique times. The fears of agoraphobia relapse have inspired me to create an accountability post each day in the “Parenting with Anxiety” Facebook group I facilitate. With the shared fears from others of anxiety taking over during this “great pause” (as I have been calling it), we are developing tasks for ourselves to commit to each day to persevere and maintain good mental wellness. Turning familiar and relatable fears into self-help solutions is proving to be a good way for individuals with anxiety to navigate through relapse concerns. Unless you have lived through agoraphobia and have managed to find ways of coping and combatting, it is difficult to explain the worry of it returning one day or escalating. Mental illness is an illness, and just like many other diseases of the body, relapse prevention and self-care are an important part of recovery long-term. View the full article
  9. Phobiasupportforum

    Podcast: Joking About Suicide: Is It Ever Okay?

    Is it ever OK to joke about mental illness or suicide? In today’s Not Crazy podcast, Gabe and Lisa welcome Frank King, a comedian who’s turned his struggles with major depression and suicidal thinking into comedic material. What do you think? Is joking about suicide too heavy? Or is humor a good coping mechanism? Join us for an in-depth discussion on gallows humor. (Transcript Available Below) Subscribe to Our Show! And Please Remember to Rate & Review Us! Guest Information for ‘Frank King — Joking and Suicide’ Podcast Episode Frank King, Suicide Prevention speaker and Trainer was a writer for The Tonight Show for 20 years. Depression and suicide run in his family. He’s thought about killing himself more times than he can count. He’s fought a lifetime battle with Major Depressive Disorder and Chronic Suicidality, turning that long dark journey of the soul into five TEDx Talks and sharing his lifesaving insights on Mental Health Awareness with associations, corporations, and colleges. A Motivational Public Speaker who uses his life lessons to start the conversation giving people permission to give voice to their feelings and experiences surrounding depression and suicide. And doing it by coming out, as it were, and standing in his truth, and doing it with humor. He believes that where there is humor there is hope, where there is laughter there is life, nobody dies laughing. The right person, at the right time, with the right information, can save a life. About The Not Crazy Podcast Hosts Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Lisa is the producer of the Psych Central podcast, Not Crazy. She is the recipient of The National Alliance on Mental Illness’s “Above and Beyond” award, has worked extensively with the Ohio Peer Supporter Certification program, and is a workplace suicide prevention trainer. Lisa has battled depression her entire life and has worked alongside Gabe in mental health advocacy for over a decade. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband; enjoys international travel; and orders 12 pairs of shoes online, picks the best one, and sends the other 11 back. Computer Generated Transcript for “Frank King- Joking and Suicide” Episode Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Lisa: You’re listening to Not Crazy, a psych central podcast hosted by my ex-husband, who has bipolar disorder. Together, we created the mental health podcast for people who hate mental health podcasts. Gabe: Hey, everybody, and welcome to the Not Crazy Podcast. My name is Gabe Howard and with me, as always, is Lisa. Lisa, do you have a new beginning this week? Lisa: Oh, you totally ruined my thing. I was gonna do hi, I’m Lisa, but like in a cute voice. Gabe: You think using like a different inflection, but the exact same words is a new introduction for you? Lisa: Yes, I’m going to do different inflections. Gabe: That’s terrible. Lisa: I’ve been thinking about it for a full seven days. Gabe: It’s terrible. You know, I am very happy that you’re here and I’m very happy that the show is about comedy. We are going to talk about is comedy and being funny surrounding mental health issues OK? Well, we kind of think it is. But Lisa, today we have a guest. Lisa: Yes. Our guest, Frank King, lives with major depression and suffers from suicidal ideation, and he describes himself as a warrior in his lifelong battle with mental illness. And before we get started, we are going to talk about suicide. And Frank is a comedian. So it’s going to come up pretty quick. So be prepared for that. Gabe: And there’s your trigger warning, folks, and after we’re done talking to Frank. Lisa and I will be back to tell you our thoughts, you know, behind his back. Lisa: And recorded, so not really behind his back. He could still listen to it. Gabe: I’m glad you told me that, because Lisa: You forgot? Gabe: Yeah, yeah, that just yeah. Lisa: Yeah. Gabe: I often forget that people are listening Lisa: Really? Gabe: No. No, never. Gabe: And we’re just going to attack him a whole bunch. We’re gonna be like, that’s offensive. That’s awful. That’s terrible. People feel this way. And would you joke about murder? The answer, of course, is that people do joke about murder. People joke about all kinds of things. But I feel like we should let Frank defend himself. Frank, welcome to the show. Frank: Thanks, Gabe. Thanks for the warm welcome. Lisa: Oh, thank you for being here. Gabe: Are you glad you said yes? Frank: Huh, do you want me to be honest or kind? Lisa: Too soon to say. Frank: No, I’m delighted to be here. Glad we could find a time to do this, although I haven’t got another booking till May 2021, so I got plenty of time. Gabe: COVID has slowed us all down. Frank, you’re a mental health comedian. That’s literally how you describe yourself. Frank King, the mental health comedian. Why? Can you tell us about that? Frank: Yeah, I told my first joke in fourth grade and the kids laughed and I told my mom I’m gonna be a comedian. She said, because education is a big deal in our family. Well, son, you are gonna go to college and get a degree. Now, after college, you can be, I don’t know a goat herder if you choose. But you, my son, are going to be a goat herder with a degree. So I went to school in Chapel Hill. I got two degrees. One in political science, one in industrial relations. Lisa: Oh, I didn’t know that was the thing. Frank: I didn’t either. Gabe: Can you get a job in that or did you have to fall back on comedy? Frank: No. UNC Chapel Hill has a fabulous placements center. I interviewed literally 77 times. No second interviews, no job offers. So they’re looking at me thinking this guy’s a clown. And they were correct. So most people give up a good job to do comedy. But I was functionally unemployable. So my girlfriend, high school girlfriend and college, her father worked for an insurance company and he wrangled me a job as a marketing rep of an insurance company in Raleigh. And then we moved to San Diego. I should have never married my first wife. I knew going down the aisle it was not going to work. I just didn’t have the testicular fortitude to back out. We had nothing in common, essentially. And you know what they say, opposites attract. She was pregnant. I wasn’t. So, we got married and, in La Jolla, California, which is a suburb of San Diego, although La Jolla would tell you that San Diego is actually a suburb of La Jolla, the Comedy Store had a branch there, the world famous Comedy Store on Sunset. Gabe: Yeah. Very cool. Frank: And so I Lisa: Yeah, I watched it when I was a kid. Frank: And so I did what I tell comedians or want to be comedians to do. Go and sit through open mic night twice. See how bad everybody is, 75% of them. And that will give you the courage. I went down, sat through two nights of it and sure enough, 75, 80 percent were horrible. And I’m thinking I’m that funny just walking around. And so the third night I went, I got up. I did my five minutes. It was all about moving from North Carolina to California because back then that was quite a bit of culture shock. The joke I remember is I’d never seen guacamole. I’ve never actually seen an avocado growing up in North Carolina. So I pick up a chip and I’m headed for the bowl and I stop. I’m hovering over the bowl, staring at the guacamole. You know what guacamole looks like. The hostess comes running over. Frank, I’ll bet you don’t know what that is. You’re not from California. That is what we call guacamole. And it’s good. And I said, yes, I bet it was good the first time somebody ate it. And in my head that night, it’s only happened a couple of times in my life. I had the thought unbidden. I’m home on stage Lisa: Aww. Frank: There. And then my second thought was I would do this for a living. I have no idea how because I had no idea how difficult it is to make a living doing standup comedy. Had I known, I probably would not have tried. Gabe: Frank, I love that story and that, of course, answers the second part, how you became a comedian, but why mental health? Why a mental health comedian? Frank: Well, we’ll get there. Gabe: Get there faster, Frank. Lisa: Don’t, don’t. Gabe: That’s what I’m telling you. Frank: I see, okay. Lisa: Don’t, Gabe. It’s just like with you, if you try to make him go faster, he’ll go slower. Just think Zen. Frank: Yeah, Lisa: Be chill. Frank: Yeah. Lisa: See all these years, that’s why I let you talk, because otherwise it takes longer. Gabe: That’s so sweet. Frank: I did amateur night for about a year, and then I won a contest in San Diego. Said to my girlfriend, now my wife of 32 years. Lisa: Oh. Frank: Look, I’m going on the road to do standup comedy. I had 10 weeks booked, which I thought was forever. You want to come along? And she said inexplicably, yes. So we put everything into storage that we couldn’t fit into my tiny little Dodge Colt. Gabe: Wow. Frank: No air conditioning. And we hit the road for 2,629 nights in a row. Nonstop, beer bar, pool hall, honky tonk, comedy club. And she just came along for the ride. We had no home, no domicile. No, we were, you know. Gabe: Now, generally speaking, when people are homeless, I think maybe they’re not so good at what they’re doing. But? Lisa: It’s apparently a different type of industry. Frank: And it was a great time of our lives. I mean, back then they put you up in a comedy condo, three bedrooms. So I worked with and spent time, weeks at a time in condos with Dennis Miller and Jeff Foxworthy and Ron White, Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O’Donnell and Dana Carvey and Adam Sandler. Back when they were just comics. So we rode that wave for about seven years. And then I got a job in radio in Raleigh, North Carolina, my old hometown, and I took a number one morning show. I drove it to number six in 18 months. A friend of mine said you didn’t just drive it into the ground. You drove it into Middle Earth. So I did. Lisa: Well, but in absolute value, that’s a, that’s a big up. Gabe: I mean, six is a bigger number than one, congratulations. Lisa: There you go. Yeah. Frank: So then my boss at the time, we’re still friends, said to me, well, you go back on the road doing stand up. Well, standup was going away. More clubs are closing than opening. So I’ve always been very clean. Which cost me in the one nighter beer bar situations. But join the National Speaker Association, got to the rubber chicken circuit and rode that and made good money just doing HR friendly corporate clean comedy until 2007 and a half basically. And then the market, you know, the speaking market dropped out 80% practically overnight. And my wife and I lost everything we worked for for twenty five years in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. And that’s when I found out what the barrel of my gun tastes like. Spoiler alert. I didn’t pull the trigger. I tell that story and a friend of mine came up afterwards, who never heard me say that before. And he goes, Hey, man, how come you didn’t pull the trigger? I go, Hey, man, could you try to sound a little less disappointed? So. And if you want to know why I didn’t pull the trigger, it’s in my first TED talk. Gabe: I mean, sincerely, we. This is the crux of the show, right? That’s like really heavy. Like when you said it, I was like, oh, my God, what can I do to save, Frank? You already told me that it was. Lisa: Yeah, I was also thinking whoa whoa, did not see that coming. All right. Gabe: Right. But you said it funny. I mean, there’s no other way to put it. That was a joke about something really, really serious. And I imagine that there’s a shock value there. There’s a like that was unexpected. Frank: Yeah, and it is there on purpose. Gabe: Do you get shit for that? I mean, I can already read the letters. I was trying to listen to your podcast. We were all having a good time. And then Frank made a joke about suicide that I wasn’t expecting. How dare you? And on one hand, I want to agree with them, like, oh, like that would be unexpected. But on the other hand, I appreciate humor. I embrace humor. It is healthy. How do you answer the people that tell you this? Lisa: Well, first, I want to hear how he decided to talk about this, because this friend comes up to him and he tells the story. Is that because that friend thought it was hilarious and you were like, oh, this is definitely where the money is? I’m gonna go this direction. I mean, how did that happen? Frank: Well, I had a mental health act at that point when he actually said that. So I just, as many comics do, Lisa: Ok. Frank: Added to that because everybody laughed. The actual original line was bankruptcy, lost everything. And I had an itch on the roof of my mouth I could only scratch with the front side on my nickel plated .38, which people found a little graphic. So I, Gabe: Yeah. Lisa: Well. Frank: I came up with the what the barrel of my gun tastes like. It’s faster. And what I do is I do it on purpose for two reasons. One, anybody in the audience who has a mental illness who hears me say, I can tell you what the barrel of my gun tastes like, you can see them lean forward because all of a sudden, they realize that I get it. And it shocks the neuro typical people, which is what I’m after, into paying better attention, because that’s why I’m there, is to let the mentally ill people know that they’re not alone and help the neurotypical people decode how someone can be so depressed that they would take their own life. And so, but then again, you notice I talk about taste of the barrel of my gun and then I go, spoiler alert, didn’t pull the trigger. So you get the shock and then you get the joke, although it only gets a nervous laugh, that line, you know. Huh. And then the big payoff is friend of mine came up. Why didn’t you pull the trigger? Could you. Yeah. So it is constructed that way on purpose. The shock value. And then the first small laugh. Should we be laughing at the fact you put a gun in his mouth? And then the big laugh with the guy who came up afterwards and said, you know, and I said try to sound a little less disappointed. Frank: So but yeah, it’s, um, except for the fact that I was given some grief about the original line, about the itch on the roof of my mouth. Nobody’s ever complained about the. I don’t know whether they I’ve shocked him into apoplexy. They can’t. I’d like to say something, but I can’t. And there’s a comedy principle there in that if you give them something very serious like the gun in the mouth and you follow it with something amusing, then they’re much more ready and able to handle the next piece of serious information that you give them, regardless of what it is. So there’s a rhythm to and then the reason, you know, everything is where it is in that bit and in the in my speech. What happened was I would do standup comedy and I’d always wanted to make a living and a difference because when I went to work in insurance, I saw all the old school motivational guys, Zig Ziglar and like that. I thought, man, I could do that if I just had something to teach somebody. Well, when I came so close, and it runs in my family. My grandmother died by suicide. Frank: My mother found her. My great aunt died by suicide. My mother and I found her. I was four years old, I screamed for days. I thought, I think I can maybe talk about it. And then I bought a book by a woman named Judy Carter called The Message of You: Turning Your Life into a Money Making Speaking Career. And I went into it thinking, I’ve got nothing. And Judy walks you through finding your heart story and what you should be talking about. And about halfway through, I thought I do have something to talk about. So I use Judy’s book to design my first TED talk. I used a book called Talk Like TED to refine it. And then I delivered it and I came out to the world at 52 as somebody who’s depressed and suicidal. My wife didn’t know my family, my friends, no one knew. Now to Gabe’s point, the only thing I’ve ever gotten grief for about that TEDx talk was that I didn’t know that the preferred language around suicide was die by suicide, completed a suicide, in that I said committed suicide. And it actually cost me a gig. They saw that, and I said, well, look at the next three. Gabe: Yeah. Frank: But they didn’t want to hire me because I used the term committed suicide. Gabe: We talk about this a lot. Everywhere I go. I used to be the host of a podcast called A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast and all of our mail. OK. I should back off that a little. Not all of our mail but, but probably 75% of our mail, was your language is offensive. It should be called a person living with bipolar, a person living with schizophrenia and a portable digital file that you can listen to at your leisure. And I thought that’s just so cumbersome. But what really struck me about this language debate is, for the record, I agree that we should say completed suicide or attempted suicide. I don’t like the term commit because it makes it sound. I agree with that change. But so what? You probably agree with the thought behind it as well. And you just didn’t know at the time. We’re not educating people if we start, you know, firing people every time they make a mistake. I mean, just heaven forbid. Frank: Well, here’s the deal. I said there is no bigger commitment than blowing your brains out. Two, there’s an old joke about breakfast, bacon and eggs. The chicken is involved. The pig was committed. Still didn’t get the gig. But I felt better. Gabe: I understand. Look, I’m not saying that there’s not an iota of truth in the way we talk to each other and the way that we speak to one another and the words that we choose to use. It’s one of the reasons that you’re probably a comedian because, you know, that language can be manipulated in a way that makes people pay closer attention. Frank: Oh, yeah. Gabe: Or a way that makes people laugh or that, you know, ruffles people’s feathers. We’re all aware of this. But I still have to point out time and time again, if we put as much effort into getting people with serious mental illness help as we do in deciding how to discuss people with serious mental illness, I think the world would be a better place. I had to take a lot of shit about that, Frank. Frank: Yeah. My radio co-host, had an expression, is that the hill you want to die on? And no, that’s not the hill I want to die. That’s not where I want to spend my effort. I’ll use proper language. But I’m not you know, right before I came on with you guys, I was on a dental podcast because dentists have a high rate and several have died recently, high profile. And the gentleman I was talking to said committed suicide. And I just let it go. I wasn’t going to school him. I mean, if I saw him later, I’d say, hey, man, just a note, you know, just for your own edification and to avoid trouble in the future. And I have done that with other people. You know, people say something. I said, look, you know, when you figure somebody has mental illness, you need to avoid this or that. It is not always language so much as it is. You know, I choose joy. Gabe: Yeah. Frank: Ok, well, one of the guys who’s involved in our book is very much a positive motivational speaker sort of fellow. And he thinks, he said something about the state of mind, that positive state of mind and choosing positive thoughts is the antidote to depression. And I said, you have to be very careful about that because there are those of us who are organically predisposed. And I am the most positive person who’s suicidal you’ll probably ever meet. I have a great attitude. You know, I have chronic suicidal ideation so I could blow my brains out tomorrow. But, you know, it’s not a matter of attitude. Lisa: Positive thinking only takes you so far. Frank: Yeah, it’s like saying to a parent of a child who has a problem depression and thoughts of suicide to hire a coach. A life coach. It’s like, no. And the pushback I get the most on, Gabe, is somebody will confront me. How can you joke about mental illness and suicide? Gabe: Yeah. Frank: An overarching question, an in the macro question. How can you joke about depression and thoughts of suicide? I say, so here’s the deal. In comedy, maybe you know this, you can joke about any group to which you belong. Lisa: Right. Gabe: Exactly. Yes. Yes. I always hate it when people tell me how to talk about myself Frank: Yeah. Gabe: Or when people tell me how to react to my own trauma or my own experiences, like you can’t talk about your life that way. What I Frank: What? Gabe: I just. Listen, having mental illness. I live with bipolar disorder. And it is rough and it is tough. And society is constantly on top of me telling me what to do, how to behave, how to act. You know, this treatment is good. This treatment is bad. Anti psychiatry, pro psychiatry, med model. Just everywhere, just like everybody has an opinion about my life. And then people start having opinions of how I’m supposed to think and discuss my life. It’s bad enough you all have opinions on everything else I do. But now you’re trying to control how I think about my own experiences and explain them to others. Now, now I want to fight. Lisa: Well, they think they’re helping. Gabe: I know they think they’re helping, but they’re not. Frank: The name your previous podcast was something of a bipolar? It was a? Gabe: A bipolar schizophrenic and a podcast. Frank: Yes, I thought it was so three guys walking into a bar. Gabe: Yeah, we stole it from three guys in a pizza place Frank: Yeah. Exactly. Lisa: Well, the name of this one is Not Crazy, so if the question at the beginning of the episode is, is it OK to joke about mental illness? I think we’ve already answered it with the title. Frank: Yes. Gabe: Yeah, we get pushback on the title. People suck. Lisa: I know. Frank: So do I. I get. I just got off the podcast with the dentists, and I said, look, before I leave, let me give you my phone number, my cell phone number, and I give it to him twice, and I say put it in the show notes. And here’s the deal. The reason I do that, I do it every keynote that I do. I give my cell phone number. Lisa: Really? Frank: Yep. Lisa: Ok. Frank: I say, look, if you’re suicidal, call the suicide prevention lifeline or text HELP to 741741. If you’re just having a really bad day, call a crazy person like me. Because we’re not going to judge. We’re just going to listen. Gabe: Yeah. Frank: As a friend of mine says, co-sign on your B.S. and I’ve gotten pushback on you shouldn’t use word crazy. So, here’s the thing. I’m taking it back. Gabe: Yes. Frank: As gay people took back the term queer and made it not a pejorative. I’m taking crazy back because I own it. I’ve paid for it. It’s my word if I want to use it. And so, yeah, that gets my dander up. It’s, you know. Gabe: Here, here’s the thing about comedy that I love so much. And I agree with you and Lisa and I talk about this all the time, for some reason, we’re so hung up on words that we’re not at all hung up on context. Frank: No. Gabe: Do you know how many horrible things have happened to me with the right words being used? Mr. Howard, I’m sorry. I’m going to have to fire you from your job because you’re a person living with mental illness Lisa: But we’ve talked about why that is. Gabe: Why? Lisa: Because it’s easier. Do you know how much trouble and effort it would be to end homelessness or provide an adequate mental health safety net or suicide prevention programs? Those are hard and they’re expensive. Telling people to start talking in a different way is much, much easier and free. Gabe: And you can do it on Facebook. Lisa: Yeah, that helps, too. You don’t have to leave your house. Frank: And I get together once a month, sometimes more, on a Monday with my crazy comedy klatch, anywhere from two to six of us who are all crazy. All have a mental illness of one stripe or another. And we get together for an hour. We take off our game face and we are just ourselves and say things that would. One morning somebody comes and goes, you know, a guy jumped off a six story building downtown. I go, six stories? Not a chance in hell. You could survive six stories. Just leave you a quadriplegic. I’m going at least 10. Lisa: Good thinking. Frank: And there’s somebody at the table behind me is like, did you just? I go, it’s a math problem. You know, you just have to reach terminal velocity. Give me a break. But that’s how you know. Somebody said something about suicide. And I said, look, if you going to die by suicide, don’t jump off a bridge and land on some poor civilian’s car and ruin their lives forever. Get a bomb vest, find some jackass and wrap your arms around him and then pull the trigger. Do, you know, make the world a better place. Lisa: That’s actually super good advice. Frank: Yeah. Gabe: That is terrible advice and Not Crazy, does not does not condone murder in any way. Lisa: I just can’t believe. I have spent a lot of time thinking about suicide. I have never thought of that. Gabe: Listen, what we’re talking about is called gallows humor, it’s dark humor. Now, I am a big fan of it. In my darkest moments, the things that, honest to God, saved my life were the people that looked at me and told me jokes like we just talked about here. But not everybody likes them and not everybody understands them. Frank: No. Gabe: I mean, it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about mental illness, mental health or. You know, my family. OK, here’s what this reminds me of. My dad got in a horrible accident. I mean, he had to be life flighted like it was really serious. We got a call. We had to get in the car. We had to drive 12 hours because we live in Ohio. He lives in Tennessee. And we go there. And my dad is 70 years old and he’s listen, he’s beat to shit. And the nurse needed him to sign a consent form. And, of course, you know, my dad, he’s on painkillers. He’s scared. He’s in the hospital. Did I mention he was, you know, like, really physically messed up from the accident? And he’s giving the nurse trouble. He’s like, I don’t want to. I don’t want to. I don’t want to. And I said, you know, Dad, you need to sign that. And he goes, I don’t want to. Gabe: And I looked my dad in the eyes and I said, if you don’t sign that, I’m going to beat you up. And there was this awkward moment of silence for like a second. And my dad just starts laughing. He just starts cracking up. He’s laughing so hard that he’s like, don’t. Don’t make me laugh. It hurts. It hurts. And he grabs the clipboard and he signs it. Now, I’ve told that story, I don’t know, a thousand times and about 50% of the time people gasp like, oh, my God, this sounds like a really serious emergency. Your dad had to be life flighted. Why would you say that to him? What kind of a horrible, awful son are you? Look, I know my dad. This is how we talk to each other. It lightens the mood. My dad thought it was funny. And listen, we didn’t have a lot to laugh at, so we had to laugh at the only thing that was in the room, which was the fact that my dad got in an accident that almost killed him and had to be life flighted and his son had to drive 12 hours to see him. I think it’s the same way with mental illness. I think that’s what we need to laugh at. I think if we’re not laughing, we’re crying. Lisa: Humor is a way to deal with dark topics that are uncomfortable, it’s a way to make you feel better about things that are sucky. Gabe: But not everybody believes that. How do you counterbalance that? Because in any room, especially your rooms, Frank, they’re big rooms, there’s five hundred a thousand people in those rooms. And better than average odds are, there’s a couple of hundred people that think that you’re a jackass that’s making fun of mentally ill people and you’re doing a great disservice. Frank: Yeah, well, you know, that’s the difference between being a speaker and a comedian. As a comedian, I’m very careful. You’ve got to know your audience. Lisa: Well, that’s really the key. Knowing your audience. Frank: Yeah. Lisa: It eliminates this entire discussion. Gabe: Yeah, but you’re hired at corporate events. The audience doesn’t choose themselves. This makes it a little more difficult. Right, Frank? I mean, if you’re. Lisa: Well, no, because he doesn’t actually need to please the audience, he just needs to please the people who hired him. Gabe: Now, come on, that that’s. Lisa: Those two things will probably usually go together, but not always. Gabe: We’re not playing lawyer ball here, Lisa. Lisa: I’m just saying. Frank: Yeah, the I’ve got a friend is a funeral director, mortician, so is his dad, and they have the darkest sense of humor. I go into a motivational speech for the Selected Independent Funeral Homes. They call me up and they said. Lisa: This is a good joke. I can tell. It’s going to be a good, good setup. Gabe: Well, this isn’t a joke, it’s a story, right? Frank: True story. Gabe: It’s a true story. Lisa: It’s going to be funny in the end, though, I can tell. Gabe: Everything Frank says is funny. Frank: A month ahead of time they call me. What do you call your motivational speech for morticians? And I was kidding. I said I call it Thinking Inside the Box. And they liked it so much. I had to have my first slide is, you know, Thinking Inside the Box. The son and father are hysterical. And then his dad is on a ship. I’m doing 10 days on a 115 day world cruise. And I don’t know if you guys know this, but the longer the cruise, the older the passengers. Gabe: Really? Lisa: Well, that makes sense. They have the time. Gabe: I guess. Yeah, they don’t have jobs. Yeah, that makes sense. Frank: Yeah. One hundred fifteen days, we’re talking old people and their parents. Every night, same thing for dessert: oxygen. Yeah. Did a show in an 800 seat theater, it was packed. I call my wife, honey, there was so much white hair in that theater, it looked like a Q-tip convention. So in my act I have this story about how every industry has a favorite joke. And I tell one about the grain industry. There’s one about my favorite actually is ophthalmologists and optometrists. Their favorite joke is this is my impression of an ophthalmologist or an optometrist making love. How’s that? How about now? Better or worse? One or two? Yeah. And I said, guys like if you’ve never worn glasses, ask somebody because that’s funny. Lisa: Well, yeah, I was going to say only people who wear glasses are gonna get that. Frank: Well, then there’s a mortician joke and the mortician joke is what’s the most difficult thing about being a mortician? And it’s trying to look sad at a $35,000 funeral. So I tell the joke Lisa: That’s not a joke, though. That’s real. Frank: It’s true, but I tell the joke and I say Gabe: Well, but it is funny. Frank: It is funny, and the audience laughs. And I say is anybody here in the audience, a mortician, retired or active duty? And a guy on the balcony raise his hand. I go, what’s a mortician doing on a 115 day world cruise? He stands up, waves his arm across a crowd and goes inventory. And it kills. Gabe: Oh. Frank: And I’ve been, and it’s been killing ever since. And it may be, Gabe, because he delivers the punch line. Lisa: It’s entirely because he delivers it. Frank: Yeah, exactly. Lisa: Otherwise, it’s not funny. Otherwise, it’s just mean. Frank: Yes, comedy, there’s an art and a science. Comedians should always be shooting up, not down. Lisa: Exactly. Yes. Frank: So if I was neurotypical, I couldn’t make any of the jokes I make about depression and suicide because I’d be shooting down. Gabe: Right. You’d be making fun of people below you on that. Yeah. Lisa: Yeah, making fun of a oppressed group is not funny. It’s just piling on to the problems that are already there. Frank: It’s like, women should always win in a joke. And that’s why men shouldn’t make fun of, or minorities. It’s difficult being a white comedian. Six foot tall, brown haired white guy because I. Lisa: Yeah, yeah, you poor dear. Gabe: We’re sorry, Frank. At least God gave you a mental illness so you had something to talk about. Frank: Yeah, I’m well aware of being born a white male, heterosexual Protestant in the US gives you a huge advantage. But frankly, if you have born that way in a relatively stable family and you haven’t succeeded at something, you’re doing it wrong. Lisa: Yeah. Gabe: Yeah. Frank: Yeah, so, if you are gay or black or Mexican, you can joke about all those. Comedy is tragedy plus time or difficulty plus time. So, you know, because minorities have more difficulty. If you’re a minority, you can joke about all minorities. If you’re a white guy, not so much. So there are comedy rules and regulations that bleed over into my speaking. I try to teach my speaking coaching students this. There should not be a word in there that doesn’t serve a purpose, including moving the narrative forward. I mean, you got to be very careful how you word things, because in radio, they say it’s not what you said. It’s not what they heard. It’s what they thought they heard. And nowadays it’s all filtered, more so, I think, than in the past because of the division. You know, the right and the left and the P.C. and the preferred pronouns. And I was on campus, Gabe, at University of Montana, Billings, two nice young men drive me around to radio stations. And one of them said, you know, Frank, comics have a tough time on campus nowadays because people get offended. Do you worry about people getting offended? I said, well, if I was a comedian, I’d be worried. However, I’m here on campus to save lives. So my philosophy is. And then there’s an F and an ’em. F ’em. Lisa: Hmm. Frank: I don’t care whose toes I step on if it means I’m saving people. Gabe: Exactly. It’s always to your point about everybody being offended. If people are offended, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. And again, I want to be very, very clear. There are offensive statements Frank: Oh, yeah. Gabe: That go too far. But if people are sitting around discussing what you said and they’re passionate about what you said and they disagree passionately with what you said, they’re applying their critical thinking skills to what you said and determining if they like it or dislike it, agree with it, don’t agree with it. And I think that there’s power in that. If after I leave a whole bunch of people get together and discuss everything that I said, I think that a lot more people will be helped than if everybody’s like, well, he didn’t do anything. I mean, literally just it sucks to not be remembered. Don’t get me wrong. I want to be remembered for good things, Frank. Frank: Yeah. Gabe: But I want to be remembered. Lisa: Well, but it’s interesting what you said there, that there are some things that go too far. But isn’t that your base premise, that depending on your audience, there’s not? That there is, in fact, nothing that goes too far? Frank: Well, there’s too soon. Lisa: Ok, too soon. Frank: Yeah. Lisa: All right. Not exactly the same. Frank: But yeah, I think Gabe’s right. I think if you leave them talking and I have no problem with someone, who comes up afterwards and says to me, look, I have a problem with blank. And so we talk about it. Well, here’s my philosophy. Here’s why I said that. Here’s why I chose those words. Now tell me why you find that? What do you find offensive about that? Because I know I can learn things too. I mean it’s. Lisa: Has that happened? Can you think of any? I mean, one of these discussions has perhaps led to you changing up a joke with or rethinking something or gaining new info? Frank: Back in the day during the AIDS crisis, back in the Reagan years, a lot of comics, male, heterosexual, made jokes about AIDS because it was the gay plague. Back then, anyway. When it became affecting heterosexuals, it wasn’t quite as funny, but I told a joke in the punchline involved AIDS and a friend of mine took me aside. He goes, Look, I know you don’t have a mean bone in your body, but I don’t think you understand how devastating this epidemic is among groups and communities. And so, I think if you knew or if I can impress upon you how wrong that joke is, that you wouldn’t do it. And I dropped it immediately from my act once he explained why it was so wrong. So it has happened. It doesn’t happen a lot. And I’m very careful about, you know, getting there. Lisa: Clearly, you’ve thought it through or you would be using the joke in the first place. Frank: Yes. Yeah. So I am open to criticism and changing things. Like with committed suicide, I said, OK, that’s the preferred language. Or live with bipolar. That’s a preferred language that’s less offensive to some people, you know. What does it cost me to change it? Lisa: That’s an interesting point. Yeah, that’s a good point, what does it cost you? Frank: Yeah, Lisa: You to change it? Frank: But I’m with Gabe, I don’t think that should be our focus. Lisa: Right. Right. Frank: And, Lisa. I’m with you on this. That’s easy to do. Solving a homeless problem or much more difficult. Gabe: Right. That’s where I am. Lisa: Do you feel that some of the criticism you got is, you know, when I see people who are using incorrect terms, et cetera, that you feel like, OK, they don’t know any better, this is your chance to educate. This is your chance to inform. Do you feel that the thinking was, hey, if you’re going to broach the topic, you should already be at that level? Like, is that part of the criticism that people feel like you, of all people, should know better? Frank: Yeah, I would say so, Lisa: Would you not get that same amount of criticism if you yourself did not have a mental illness? Frank: Yeah, exactly. And I have, as Gabe does I’m sure, that deep understanding of the. I don’t know, Gabe, if you do this, but I spend a lot of time by myself in self reflection inside my own head and. Gabe: Of course I do. Constantly. Lisa: That’s mental illness. Frank: Yeah, Gabe: That’s pretty much the only place I live. Lisa: Yeah. Frank: Well, I’m driving one day and I thought to myself, I’m not going to use the term battle depression anymore because battle implies I can win. I cannot win. I can tie. Uneasy truce like North and South Korea. I can lose. Kill myself, but I cannot win. And I’ve had arguments with people, no you can be cured. No. No. For me, there is no cure. Lisa: Right. Only treatment. Frank: I live with it. I take sort of an aikido approach. Aikido is a martial art where you blend with your person coming at you rather than go up against their energy, you blend with the energy, take their balance. Because depression is a great power and energy. And so rather than bump up against it, I try to blend with it and move forward with it. You use that energy to continue to move forward. It’s difficult, but that mindset of rather than, you know, battling it. Lisa: We’ll be right back after these messages. Announcer: Interested in learning about psychology and mental health from experts in the field? Give a listen to the Psych Central Podcast, hosted by Gabe Howard. Visit PsychCentral.com/Show or subscribe to The Psych Central Podcast on your favorite podcast player. Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counseling. Our counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counseling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Lisa: And we’re back talking about whether or not it is OK to joke about mental illness with comedian, Frank King. Frank, I have been wondering, after watching some of your acts, where does your comedy come from? Frank: I believe my comedy timing, imagination is simply the flip side of my major depressive disorder and chronic suicidal ideation. I taught a class called Stand Up for Mental Health. You have to have a diagnosis to get in, a diagnosis to teach it. I got to tell you, they were the best students I ever had. Okay, here’s a dark one. These are jokes. This is the way it came out of her head. Most comics got a whole page, and they have to like redact two thirds of it. She goes I went to see my psychiatrist. I go, Camille, what did the psychiatrist say? Well, he asked me if I was depressed? I said yes. He asked if I had any thoughts of suicide? Yes. He said, do you have a plan? I said, I have five plans. Five plans? She goes, Yeah. You want to hear them all or just the ones that involve you? It’s dark, but there’s not a word in that that doesn’t move the narrative forward. Here’s one. Tosh. She said, My boyfriend said he wanted to break up with me. I said, well, why did he want to do that, Tosh? She goes, because he wants to see other people. I said, What did you say? I said, I’m bipolar. Give me a minute. Just that’s the way it came out of her head. And here’s a deal, I can teach you to write standup comedy. Frank: I could teach you perform standup comedy. What I cannot teach you to do is process. So if somebody said, Frank, one pill one time, never be depressed again, never another suicidal thought. The only side effect is you’re not going to process as a comedian. Then keep the pill, I’ll live with the downside to hang onto the upside. That is where my comedy comes from. And heckler lines, people go, how did you think up? I’m on the bus. I was in Cambodia. We were on busses to go to the airport to catch a plane to come home. And the woman in front of me, an older woman on a cruise. Go figure. I was doing a podcast from my phone in the seat behind her and she goes, hang up the phone. I go, it’s not a phone call, it’s a podcast, I’m working. Hang up, eh. So I went back another row, kept my voice down. Well, it didn’t please her at all. It didn’t mollify her. So we’re getting ready to get off the bus. We all stand up. I’m several steps behind as she turns. She goes “drop dead.” And where this came from, I can’t tell you. I said, given your age, I’m guessing you’re going first. People say, well, how do you think that up? I didn’t think that up. The first time she heard it was first time I heard. I have no idea. But that’s my, that’s. You don’t have to be mentally ill to write comedy or perform comedy. But it don’t hurt. Gabe: I always hear these jokes where people say, did you have a good childhood or are you funny? You know, I’ve read a lot of books that say, you know, some of the best comedy comes from traumatic experience. Frank: Yeah, yeah. Lisa: Absolutely. Gabe: And I. Mental illness is a traumatic experience. And I’m not speaking for all the listeners and I’m obviously not speaking for Lisa and Frank, but for me, the humor is all I have some days. If I can’t laugh at it, I’m going to cry. And that’s why these inappropriate and I’m making the, you know, I wish it was a video podcast Frank: Air quotes. Gabe: So people could see how often I can make air quotes. If it wasn’t for the humor that I can find in this, it would be nothing but darkness. And that’s the way I see it. Frank: One last example, I had a heart attack, I was in the woods half mile up a logging trail with the dogs, I had T-mobile, so I didn’t have cell service. And that never fails to get a laugh and. Lisa: I used to have T-Mobile, yeah. Frank: Oh, God. Gabe: Yeah, it sucked. Frank: Yes. Sucks out loud. Anyway, I got back to the car. Back to the house, yelled at my wife. I’m having a heart attack, dial 911. I heard she came out, got me in an ambulance. I’m at the hospital. Here’s the nice thing about a heart attack. No waiting. Nobody gives a shippa about HIPPA. I’m in the back. And the tragedy plus time equals comedy. But the longer you do comedy, the shorter the time. I’m doing comedy in real time. Lisa: I could see that. Frank: That nurse says to me, I’m in great deal of pain. I’m having a heart attack. She goes, Frank, no paperwork. But I just got one question for you. And I said, I’m married, Honey, but I love the way you think. And she’s trying not to laugh. It’s like, Gabe, if I didn’t have my comedy, what would I have? She goes, No, no, no, no. Your full name is Frank Marshall King, the third. But what do you like to be called? And I said, through the pain, Big Daddy. And to this day, when I go back to Oregon Heart & Vascular and somebody sees me from that morning, hey, Big Daddy, how’s it hanging? So, yeah, Gabe, if I didn’t have the humor. I mean, if I didn’t have that way of dealing with the pain, whether it’s a heart attack or mental illness or whatever it happens to be, it’s you know, it’s just the way we cope. Gabe: You know, Frank, obviously I live with bipolar disorder, but I’ve also had physical issues. I was rushed in an ambulance to the emergency room. I had a surgery that kind of didn’t turn out so well. And here I am in the emergency room and Lisa is trying desperately to find me. Lisa: Well, the woman said to me, are you sure he’s here? I know he’s here. I followed the ambulance. He is here. And then she said something and I said, he is a six foot three redhead. He can’t be that hard to find. Frank: Yeah. Gabe: And the nurse said, you’re looking for Gabe? Lisa: He’s only been here like fifteen inutes. Frank: Well, he makes an impression. Lisa: That actually happened. Gabe: I do. I make an impression. Lisa: He’s not making that that story up. That actually happened. Gabe: Now, here I am. The rest of that is true. And Lisa is now yelling at me because I’m so popular. Frank: No, my ex-wife would tell you, look, Frank, he had a lot. He had a lot of faults, but I never went to a party with him where we didn’t have a good time. Lisa: I can see that. Gabe: Now, the reason I’m telling that story is because everybody loves that story. I tell that story all the time. People are like, oh, Gabe, it’s so good that you can keep your humor. It was scary. And that helped Lisa. And, oh, that’s so beautiful talking about it in that way. But whenever I do that for mental illness, people are like, that’s inappropriate stop. And I’m like, no, wait a minute. Frank: What? Gabe: Why? What’s the. This is one of those, you know, Lisa: Because it’s not as scary. Gabe: Stigmatizing things. You know, making fun of me, almost dying from a surgery, going wrong and almost bleeding to death at home. People are like, yeah, he’s tough, but joking about mental illness, about bipolar disorder. And people are like I don’t know that you’re taking it seriously. And it’s a very scary illness. And I think you might be hurting other people that suffer from this. And I only point that out because we want mental illness and physical illness to be treated exactly the same. And I guarantee there’s nobody that heard your story about, you know, the big daddy story Frank: Yeah. Gabe: About the heart attack. That wasn’t like hell, yeah, he was. You’re a tough guy. But then I hear some of the stuff about suicidality, depression, and like, I don’t know, maybe I don’t like this. And let’s consider just, you know, you don’t have to agree with me immediately. Let’s consider the whys of that. Why do we feel that way? And I think that will allow us to move forward. Look, humor is funny. We need it. We like it. If it’s not for you, don’t listen to it. Frank’s not for everybody. Frank: It’s a way of breaking down barriers and having a meeting of the minds. Because a laugh is something where your minds have to meet. You have to be in the same place at the same time. You know, seeing the same thing. I tell my comedy students, paint the picture, it’s gotta be very vivid. So they can be there with you. Right there with you. Gabe: Well, that is awesome. You are awesome. Frank: Well, thank you very much. Lisa: Yeah, we really enjoyed it. Where can people find you? Frank: TheMentalHealthComedian.com is my Web site. My phone number’s there and sometime in the next, I’m guessing this week, there will be an audio book version of a book that Gabe and I are in. Gabe: Yeah, I actually I think I’m in volume two and you’re in volume one. I didn’t make the cut, but Guts, Grit & The Grind, you can find it on Amazon. It’s a collection of stories from men about their mental health issues, mental illnesses and just the whole concept, we’ve got to give a shout out to Dr. Sally, was that men just don’t talk about their mental health enough and there’s getting to be more men. But I like to joke that I got into this business because it was predominantly women. Frank: Yes. And Sarah Gaer, whose idea it was and who teaches QPR to first responders, mostly men. She went to the bookstore to find a book on men’s mental health, couldn’t find one. Went on Amazon, couldn’t find one. So she Gabe: Here we go. Frank: She put it together. Yes. And if you go to my website, sometime in the next week or so, they’ll be a, put your email in, and you get a free copy of the audio book that I voiced. Gabe: Nice. Nice. If you want to hear Frank’s voice even more, you know what to do. That would be awesome, Frank. It’s always fun. Lisa: Oh, thank you again so much. Frank: Oh, my pleasure. Bye-bye guys, you all be good. Lisa: All right, thank you, bye-bye. Gabe: Uh-huh, bye-bye. Lisa, what do you think? You didn’t say a whole lot. I mean, it is probably hard with Gabe and Frank on the line. Lisa: Well, I thought he raised some interesting points. I thought his comedy was pretty funny, that was good. If I were at a conference, I’d want to go see that. Gabe: Well, you know that that’s interesting because when you started off talking, I thought you were gonna say this sucks. I don’t think we should joke about mental illness. But then you ended with if we were at a conference, I’d want to go see it. It sounds like you’re conflicted, like you’re not sure. Lisa: No. Gabe: Whether this is okay or not. Lisa: Well, I would say that the broader question of is comedy about bad things okay or not has a lot of gray in it. I think that humor and laughter is a recognizable way to deal with dark things. I use it myself. Almost everyone I know uses it. I think this is a universal part of the human condition. We all use humor to get through dark times or to address dark subjects. So, if this is something that you’re uncomfortable with, once he is laughing at his own mental illness, that indicates to the audience that it’s okay to laugh. He’s comfortable with it. So we’re comfortable with it. Gabe: Lisa, you and I have been friends for forever, and I know that you like gallows humor. I know that you like dark humor. Lisa: I do, I really do. Gabe: We both like it. But I noticed that when Frank was telling some of the darker jokes and I mean, he just popped out of nowhere. You looked uncomfortable. I felt uncomfortable. Lisa: I don’t know that I’m so much uncomfortable, as just surprised and you’re not sure how to react. You know, like, what do I do? What do I say? What comes next? And, today, whoa, he just went straight for it. There’s no lead up, no buildup. I think maybe that’s what it was. It was just it’s so shocking to be right in front of your face so fast. Gabe: But let’s say that I did that. Let’s say you and I were we’re sitting in my living room, it’s 3:00 in the morning and I just I pop that joke. Would you know what to say then? Lisa: Well, it’s different. Gabe: Would you have laughed? Lisa: Yeah, but it’s different when you’re with someone you literally know. I’ve met this man for the first time just now. Gabe: But why? I think that’s an interesting concept, because kind of what you’re describing is that gallows humor is okay among close friends, privately, but publicly, Lisa: Well. Gabe: Maybe it’s not OK? I’m just curious as to why? Lisa: Well. Gabe: Listen, I did the same thing. I laughed uncomfortably. Everybody just heard it. Lisa: I didn’t think about that as whether or not it was one of those things where it’s more for close friends and family or. But that’s not really a practical way to go about things just because most of my friends and family just aren’t that funny. So if I want to hear said humor, I’m gonna have to turn to some sort of mass media. Gabe: But you’re alone. Lisa: Oh, okay. Gabe: You’re doing that mass media alone. Lisa: Well, what if I were in the audience? Gabe: There’s no production. There’s no producers. There’s no Psych Central hovering. There’s no, there’s no recording. Lisa: Right. Gabe: However, you reacted, is being recorded right now. Lisa: Right. Gabe: On recordings that you don’t control. Did that impact the way that you responded? Lisa: Absolutely. Gabe: Why? Lisa: And I think it’s probably, I’m assuming it impacts the way that his audience responds as well. Because you’re looking for society to tell you that this is OK or this is not OK. You’re trying to take your cue from other people as to, because you don’t know how to react. It’s so unusual and it’s so surprising that you’re just not sure what to do. Gabe: Isn’t this what gets us in trouble, though? Listen to what you just said. You’re looking around to take your cues from society to decide how you should react. Now, let’s put that in an analogy for people living with mental illness, maybe the guy that you meet with bipolar disorder, you don’t have a problem with it until all of your friends and family say, whoa hoo hoo hoo hoo. You should Lisa: Oh. Gabe: Not date him. He’s mentally ill. So you look around to society to decide how to react. And suddenly the guy with bipolar disorder can’t have friends or get a job or have a shot because everybody is sharing in the same nucleus of misinformation. You had an opportunity to laugh at a joke that I know you find funny. I had an opportunity to laugh at a joke that I know that I found funny. And we opted to skip it because we weren’t sure how our listeners would react. Lisa: Well, Gabe: Wow. We’re breaking down walls. Lisa: Well, OK, but that’s not exactly a fair comparison, because we do have a vested interest in how our listeners react. It’s not like we were at a comedy club with a bunch of people and who cares what they think of us. We care very much about what the people listening are thinking. So I don’t think that’s exactly a fair analogy. So let’s use that analogy, though, where. Yeah, that’s a good point. If it was just about a bunch of strangers or about the larger society and not people who, you know, control the purse strings, we would in fact be saying, yeah. You’re right. That is part of the culture of discrimination. I had not thought of it that way. Good point. Gabe: Obviously, we’ve talked about a lot. I like this type of humor because if it wasn’t for this type of humor, I don’t know that how I would have gotten through. And I do embrace humor is healthy. I do think that sometimes joking about it breaks down barriers. It’s like the analogy that I told about my dad. There are people who are horrified to hear this story. I’m sure that some of them are listening right now. But it’s my dad. And we talk to each other that way. He would say the same thing to me if I was in that situation. And we’d laugh together and we’d cry together and we’d be a family together. And maybe you shouldn’t walk up to a stranger and threaten to beat them up. I kind of agree with that. But. Lisa: Well, of course, you agree with that. Everything is in context. Gabe: And there. There is my big point, I think that sometimes people miss the context of some of Frank’s jokes or some of the jokes that I tell as a speaker. Where people say, you know, that’s not something that you should joke about. But the context is education. The context is bringing it out of the shadows and making it something that we can point at, laugh at, discuss and will not be afraid of. If we’re paying attention to the context, I think a guy Lisa: Well, but. Gabe: Like Frank is perfectly fine. If we pay attention to the words, m aybe Frank has gone too far. I am on the all discussion is good discussion bandwagon. Lisa: Ok, but that same thing could be said about any controversial comedian or any controversial comedy subject. It’s all about the context. We would never have any of this criticism of someone’s material ever if they knew for sure the people in the audience would be okay with it. You know, it’s all about deciding if this particular group of people is comfortable with this humor or not. And I can see I know what it is you’re going to say. You’re going to say that if they’re not comfortable with it, we need to make them comfortable with it. And one of the ways we do that is exposure. Gabe: I think that is a good point, but I wasn’t going to say that at all. What I was going to say is that people have a right to discuss their lives and their trauma and their mental illness in any way they want. And while you may not agree with Frank or even find Frank funny or like Frank or I don’t know why I’m shitting all over Frank, all of a sudden. We love him. We had him on our show. But I think the solution here is to understand that Frank is describing his journey in the way that he is comfortable with. And if you don’t like it, don’t listen. What I worry about is when people say, listen, you have a mental illness, but you can only talk about your mental illness this way. You can only describe your experience in this manner. You can only describe your trauma using these words. I think that really creates a system where people can’t define their own recovery and their own existence. And people can’t be who they want. Yeah, I’m well aware of controversial comedians that that say all kinds of horrific things, but they’re saying them about other people. They’re not saying them about their selves. Lisa: Well, yeah. That’s why. Gabe: One of the things that I love about Frank is that Frank discusses his own life. And yeah, some people don’t like the way that he does it. But I gotta tell you, I’ve been in his audience. The majority of the people love it. It just seems like the people who don’t like it are really loud. Lisa: Well, you would prefer they just weren’t there at all. Everyone has kind of the inalienable right to define their own narrative, to discuss their own thing the way they want to, to put it into the words they choose. And I want to just go with that. I want to just be done there and just stop. Full stop. Done. But then I start thinking well, but, how far does that go? I get that you have mental illness and therefore you kind of have the permission slip to talk about this. But there is a non-zero point where I would say, OK, stop it. Gabe: Well, but I think that what you’re discussing is that you don’t want Frank to tell you what to do with your life. And that’s the great thing about Frank King. His comedy is very personal. He only talks about his experiences, his life. I’ve never seen Frank say I am a person living with depression. And here’s what every single person with depression needs to do. I don’t know what the joke at the end of that would be, but yeah, yeah, I’d show right up and I’d be like, dude, you’re not the elected spokesperson for people with depression. Lisa: But that’s why people would critique it, because there’s a finite number of spokespeople. There are so few voices out there representing us that when one of them says the following thing, that is extra damaging. It’s not like there’s a thousand of these people out there. There’s only a handful. So I think many people feel like you need to tightly control that narrative. If they feel that narrative is incorrect or damaging and other people see that. And he has that cover of, hey, he’s mentally ill. You can’t criticize the way he talks about it, because, after all, it’s his own experience. But they feel that that is damaging to the overall movement. So I don’t know where to go with that. Gabe: Well, but people can critique it and say that isn’t their experience, but it is, in fact, Frank’s. Lisa: OK. Gabe: I can tell you that being a mental health speaker, I’m not a mental health comedian. I’m a mental health speaker and I don’t even have the mental health speaker dot com. So I don’t know. Lisa: Well, that was a clear oversight. Gabe: Yeah, I don’t know where that leaves me. But I can tell you, being a mental health speaker, I love it when people tell me I’m wrong. I love it when I get emails where people tell me that I missed the mark. I love it when people are discussing the things that I say. Being a podcaster or I feel the same way. Respectful emails where people are like, Gabe, I listened to your whole podcast. I listened to your point of view and you are completely wrong. Mental Health Month is in fact, incredible. You shouldn’t have insulted in any way. It is only goodness. I listened to everything that you say. I completely disagree with you. You, sir, are wrong. That is my favorite email ever. They listened to what I said. They considered everything that I said and they are now putting out in the world that Gabe Howard is wrong. There is nothing wrong with that. We should be very, very clear. I just want to take a moment. Frank is not doing any of these things. We’re just using him as a Lisa: Well, yeah, because he’s the one who’s here right now. Gabe: Yeah, he was just dumb enough to come on the show. I bet he’s rethinking that now that he’s listening to it. Lisa: Yeah, we’re gonna have trouble getting guests after this. Gabe: But seriously, these discussions are powerful. Right, Lisa, I understand what you’re saying. Lisa: Yes. Gabe: You don’t want to be on the Gabe train because then it’s all one way or all another. Lisa: Because where’s the line? Gabe: I’m telling you, there isn’t a line. It would be nice if we lived in a world where this is the stuff that was appropriate. And this is the stuff that was inappropriate. That world does not exist. I feel very strongly that the best we can do is allow for respectful dialog and respectful disagreement. I think that mental health advocacy would move forward at an extraordinarily rapid rate if all the people who disagreed could get on board, find the stuff we have in common and push that forward. Because, listen, we’re never going to agree. The way that a middle aged white guy experiences bipolar disorder is j ust different than a 70 year old woman who’s been living with bipolar disorder, which is different than 20 year olds who are being diagnosed, which is different from people below the poverty line, above the poverty line. Lisa: Yeah, we get it. It’s all different. Everyone’s different, yes. Gabe: I just I haven’t even scratched the surface of differences yet. I know that you think that I’m just going on and on and on and on and on. But you know as well as I do that I haven’t even covered one percent of all of the differences with people bipolar disorder. Lisa: Well, obviously not. Because all of the people with bipolar disorder represent all of the available differences in the population. Gabe: Exactly. This applies to more than just mental health. Lisa: Yeah, It’s a broadly applicable discussion. Gabe: And I really wanted to remind my listeners that, you know, so often people living with mental illness feel that the bar is different for us. And it is. Lisa: Yeah, it is. Gabe: The bar is different for us. But, you know, sometimes the bar is exactly the same. It’s exactly the same as everybody else. People are trying to decide the best way to discuss all kinds of controversial topics, scary topics, misunderstood topics. And they’re all running into the same problems that people who are advocating on behalf of people living with mental illness are running into. It is one of the things that bind us. It’s difficult to know how to get the word out there, because as sure as I’m sitting here, you’re going to step on somebody’s toes. Lisa: Yeah. Here, here. Gabe. Gabe: Lisa, did you have fun? Lisa: Yes. A real treat to have Frank with us today. Gabe: It was really, really awesome. Now, Lisa, you have seven days to come up with a new way to start the show. If you say hi, I am Lisa, I. Lisa: It’s hard. I need help here, people, help me, help me. Give me some advice. Gabe: Really? You want people to e-mail show@PsychCentral.com to tell an experienced podcaster how to start her own show? Lisa: Yes, I feel that people should definitely e-mail show@PsychCentral.com to let us know what it is I should be saying. Gabe: You heard the lady; I’m not going to argue with her. Listen up, everybody. Here’s what I need you to do. If you love the show, please give us as many stars as humanly possible. Use your words and write about how much you loved us. Words really, really help. And share us on social media. Use your words there too. Really this whole thing comes down to using positive words to share us and subscribe and to make us famous. Like, wouldn’t it be cool if we were as famous as Frank King, Lisa: Oh. Gabe: at mental health comedian dot com? Lisa: I believe that’s TheMentalHealthComedian.com, Gabe. He’s just not a mental health comedian. He is the mental health comedian. Gabe: Once again, thank you, Frank. Thanks, everybody, for listening. And we will see you next Tuesday. Lisa: Bye. See you then. Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Not Crazy Podcast from Psych Central. For free mental health resources and online support groups, visit PsychCentral.com. Not Crazy’s official website is PsychCentral.com/NotCrazy. To work with Gabe, go to gabehoward.com. Want to see Gabe and me in person? Not Crazy travels well. Have us record an episode live at your next event. E-mail show@psychcentral.com for details. View the full article
  10. The cicada, an insect with large clear wings, hibernates underground for 17 years. It takes almost two decades for this insect to slowly crawl out of the earth, to live, to breathe, to mate. As the United States slowly lifts quarantine and lockdowns, we find ourselves burrowing out of our own cocoons in which we have hunkered down to once again emerge to the light of day. We identify with the cicada in that this quarantine has surely felt like a full 17 years! And — coincidentally — it is this very year of 2020 that the broods of cicadas are emerging in droves. We emerge gradually, with trepidation, masks still looped over our ears to observe and investigate what this new terrain and new normal will look like. We learn that each region must achieve seven different metrics to become eligible for this “new normal” life. And we now refer to life as B.C. (Before Corona) and A.D. (After Disease). Of course there are the obvious anticipated joys — seeing our family and friends, watching our children hopefully going back to school or camp, putting vacation plans back on the books again, and gleefully dining out and going to movies. Yet, this sheltering at home has also made us ponder whether there have been unexpected silver linings in this quarantine — things we have learned about ourselves and our lives that we don’t want to lose. And so, we face F.A.R.O.L. — fears about reentering our lives — both personally and professionally. Gloria: “Commuting from my home on Long Island to my Manhattan office to see patients has always been part of the fabric of my life as a psychotherapist. I really never questioned it but just dutifully caught the 8:18AM every morning. Quarantining at home has made me aware of how much I actually hate that commute. I just don’t want to do it anymore. I’ve decided to give up my Manhattan office but haven’t told my patients yet. I feel guilty that I’m betraying a commitment to be there for them, and it’s made me question my attachment issues! But shedding my commute now feels more important than honoring my commitment to show up in person.” Janet: “Since I’ve been married, my husband has spent a great deal of time traveling for business in Europe. It has been a source of ongoing tension between us with my always begging him to cut down his traveling. It feels like I’ve had to raise our children pretty much all alone, and I have a great deal of resentment towards him. Now that he has been home during this COVID crisis, unable to travel, I’m not happy having him around all the time either! Although I’m getting what I said I wanted, it’s not doing the trick. I’m confused and questioning myself as to how much closeness and intimacy I really want. When we return to living our lives and Dave goes back to his business trips, I imagine my complaints about missing him will start up again, but now I’m confused about what I really want and need!” Corinne: “I finally unbraided my corn-rows during lockdown for the first time in years. My hair is now an exuberant mess of curls and twists. Every day it looks different in its newfound freedom. But in a FaceTime session with my Mom, she told me I looked like a wild disheveled woman, and I better not go back to work looking like this hot mess. At this time, when so many people are suffering with so many losses and deaths, all I’m thinking about is how I dread having to return to the real world and spend so much time and money once again to make my hair ‘obey’ in the white world.” Stacey: “I wouldn’t say I’m an alcoholic, but my lifestyle certainly involves finishing classes most nights at law school and heading to the bar with my friends for a couple of drinks. I would say that I’m basically a shy person, and I enjoy the ‘liquid courage’ of booze. Being home alone during this time has really reduced my drinking, and I feel better. But getting back to my real life after quarantine is going to lead me back to my drinking routine. I haven’t figured out how to handle that, but I have some concerns. The solitude with no pressure to socialize has been kind of a relief for me.” Gail: “My mother died in a nursing home from the coronavirus in April. I’ve been feeling like I’m living in a protective time warp — at home, with my husband, and our two young adult kids. They are caring for me and we are nestling together. I’m afraid when we are no longer having to quarantine and everybody goes back to work or school, I’m going to feel abandoned and the impact of my mother’s death will come tumbling down on top of me. I’m dreading that moment. I wish we could just stay on pause until I feel I’m ready for everyone to get going again.” Marjorie: “My biggest fear about reentry is that everyone will see that I’m the poster child for having gained that dreaded COVID-15 pounds. I’m ashamed that my anxiety caused my binge eating to kick into high gear during this time. While other people were flattening the curve, I was fattening my curves! I wish the lockdown would continue for another few months, so I could start working on getting my eating back on track.” Other fears of returning to our lives include issues of safety: How long should we continue to be wary and observant of social distancing? Should we just continue working remotely until a vaccine is available before going back to work? Will there be another wave of the virus after this one dies down? Financial issues also abound — will I still have my job and my same salary? And psychotherapists worry whether their patients will tire of remote sessions and decide to leave therapy, whether insurance will continue to pay for remote sessions, and whether, upon returning to our offices, we are liable if a patient sues us claiming they caught the virus from us. There is FOMO (fear of missing out) and now I’ve coined the term FAROL (fears about reentering our lives). Farol in Spanish means a lantern that illuminates. We therapists work with our clients to instill hope that this pandemic will pass, to strengthen their coping skills and self-care, and to find ways to make personal meaning during this time of lockdown and beyond. As we emerge from the threat and pain of this pandemic, we co-create with our patients an illuminating lantern to shine the way toward post traumatic growth and resilience. We ask how they envision what that growth would look like for them. My stepson Sean tells me, “When this is over, I want to import into my life the things I’ve discovered during lockdown that are making me happy — like family dinners and reading to the kids before bed. “Yes!” I add. “And then let’s export the things that haven’t been working — like rushing around all the time.” Sean and I laughingly agree that we will be entering the import-export business when all this is over. Albert Camus reminds us, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” And Bette Midler evokes hope as sings The Rose, “Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows/ Lies the seed, that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose.” I think also of the words of T.S. Eliot which seem so comforting at this time, “Teach me to care. Teach me not to care. Teach me to be still.” As we psychotherapists face reentering our lives, there will also be the loss of the wild, weird, and wonderful connections that have happened with patients on virtual reality. I am on a Zoom session with Sandra. She invites me into her Red Tent — an enclosed space she has created for herself in her bedroom by draping sheets over a make-shift scaffolding. I feel like I’m climbing into a children’s fort. Pink light suffuses Sandra’s face as the red sheets reflect the light from her window. She explains how she needed a private space away from her husband and daughter where she could draw, think, and write “bad poetry.” As she shows me her drawings, I see a shadow crossing my line of vision. I am now doing sessions from my country house and see that a deer has wandered into my garden and has begun to eat my peonies. I explain to Sandra why I must excuse myself for a minute. I shriek loudly at the deer to get out of my garden, and finally it slowly ambles away back into the forest. I yell after it, “Thank you!” and come back to the session. Sandra is laughing whole heartedly, “I’ve never heard you scream before,” Sandra says. “You’re so loud! But also hearing you thank the deer for leaving absolutely made my day!” We agree this special silver lining never would have happened during a normal Brooklyn session. View the full article
  11. Anxiety and depression are significantly heightened during times of great stress such as the COVID-19 pandemic. View the full article
  12.  At the thought of losing a job or missing a mortgage payment, Gabe is an anxious discombobulated mess, while Lisa is cool as a cucumber. In today’s Not Crazy podcast, Gabe and Lisa ponder: Why do people have such vastly different ways of reacting to the world? They also discuss — with the special flare that only a divorced couple has — the good old days when Gabe would have full-blown panic attacks and Lisa had to get them through it. How did they handle these scary moments? Is it ever OK to feel anger toward the panicky person? And what if the panicky person accidentally causes harm — should they have to apologize? Tune in as Gabe and Lisa share their personal panic experiences. (Transcript Available Below) Subscribe to Our Show! And Please Remember to Review Us! About The Not Crazy podcast Hosts Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Lisa is the producer of the Psych Central podcast, Not Crazy. She is the recipient of The National Alliance on Mental Illness’s “Above and Beyond” award, has worked extensively with the Ohio Peer Supporter Certification program, and is a workplace suicide prevention trainer. Lisa has battled depression her entire life and has worked alongside Gabe in mental health advocacy for over a decade. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband; enjoys international travel; and orders 12 pairs of shoes online, picks the best one, and sends the other 11 back. Computer Generated Transcript for “Panic Attack” Episode Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Lisa: You’re listening to Not Crazy, a psych central podcast hosted by my ex-husband, who has bipolar disorder. Together, we created the mental health podcast for people who hate mental health podcasts. Gabe: Hey, everyone, you’re listening to the Not Crazy podcast. I’m your host, Gabe Howard, and I’m here with my co-host, Lisa. Lisa: Hi, I’m Lisa. Gabe: Once again, you say this every single week. I just told everybody you were Lisa. You can’t say hi, I’m Lisa. Lisa: Ok, look, I give up. I don’t know. I need you all to help me out. Can someone in the audience send me something better to say? OK, email me at show@PsychCentral.com. And tell me what I should be saying. Gabe: Why don’t I just hire them if they know what to say? Lisa: Oh, harsh, man, harsh. Gabe: Why am I going to hire you? I just. I’m going to get a new co-host. Lisa: Yeah, right. Gabe: You’ll be applying at show@PsychCentral.com. Lisa: Send your resume. Gabe: Since you already know what to say. I don’t need Lisa. Lisa: I just don’t have that part. I’ve got the rest. Sort of. Gabe: Lisa, I just I bring this up because, I know I’m not your boss, but if my boss, my partner discussed firing me, I’d have an immediate panic or anxiety attack. That the anxiety would be so high it would just like I don’t even know. And yet you’re just sitting there like, who cares? Lisa: Well, I mean, it’s not that big of a deal, you know? Gabe: All right. Lisa: I mean, it won’t kill you. Gabe: What? That’s not the only factor that we should consider. Lisa: But it should be. Gabe: The world is not. But, it’s not because. But you are very Zen. And of course, the difference is, I have panic and anxiety disorder. And you do not. What is it like for you? What’s it like for you to be told that you’re going to be fired and just not care? Because I don’t know what that’s like. I have Lisa: Well. Gabe: I am already e-mailing every boss and customer I’ve ever had, asking them not to fire me. And it didn’t happen. Lisa: Right. Gabe: It didn’t even happen. Lisa: Well, I guess you’ve told me in the past. I just didn’t care enough about things. I think I just don’t care about things. Gabe: You’re not worried that I’m going to fire you. And you also think that, well, if I get fired, I’ll find something else to do. You’re not having a panic attack or anxiety about it. This is your personality. You’re a very calm and chill person. You just chill, you’re uber chill. Lisa: When have you ever thought that? When have you ever thought that I was chill? You don’t think that. Gabe: In regards to this specific thing, Lisa: In terms of losing a job? Yes. Gabe: You are chill. Lisa: Yes, yes, absolutely. Yeah, because it doesn’t matter. Gabe: Whenever customers threaten you, whenever bosses threaten you, whenever there’s a rumor that you might be downsized, you’re just very laid back. Lisa: Yeah, I don’t care about that. Gabe: I start crying immediately. Lisa: Yeah. Yeah. You care about that a lot. Yeah. Gabe: I do, and I think well, what did I do wrong? How did I? It’s very time consuming to constantly worry that I’m screwing up. And the panic attacks are. Well, they’re horrific. Lisa: Mm-hmm. Gabe: They’re obviously horrific. I mean, I, my heart starts to race. My vision gets blurry. I sweat through everything. It’s. I do a lot to avoid panic attacks by avoiding situations. Lisa: Yes. Gabe: You don’t have to do any of that. You can, you would make a good lawyer in a way that I would not. I’m a much better arguer. But you’re unflappable. Lisa: Oh, that’s so nice of you to say. To be fair, there are some situations I avoid because I don’t like them. Gabe: But we’re talking about panic and anxiety. Everybody avoids situations they don’t like, Lisa. Lisa: I’ve actually wondered about this because it’s not so much that I don’t have panic or anxiety as it is that I don’t care about most things. And the example I always give, you’ll remember years ago when we were married, there was one month when we were having trouble paying our mortgage. And you were really freaked out. And I said, yeah, this isn’t that important. I said, we don’t need to worry about this. I don’t know why you’re so upset. This isn’t the end of the world. It isn’t going to kill us. And you said, oh, so what? So as long as we still have our health, we just don’t have to worry about anything? And I understood that you were trying to make some sort of sarcastic point, but yeah. Yeah. Gabe: I wasn’t making a sarcastic point at all. Lisa: Yes, exactly. As long as you have your health, you do not have to worry about anything. Gabe: But most people don’t go from perfectly healthy to unhealthy. There are steps. And one of the steps that puts you in harm’s way is not having a safe place to live. Lisa: I know you told me all that at the time. Gabe: I put a lot of value on being able to pay my bills because I don’t want to be evicted. I don’t want to be homeless. Lisa: I didn’t want any of those things either. I just said we weren’t going to die from it. We could make it to the other side. It wasn’t the end of the world as long as we were still alive. It didn’t matter. Gabe: You know, Lisa, this reminds me of there’s a very old you know, it’s or what’s a, what’s a word for, like, wisdom? Lisa: Adage? Gabe: No, not adage. Lisa: Proverb? Gabe: Yep, proverb. Lisa: Proverb, okay. Gabe: There’s this old proverb that says that the reason a bird can sleep while resting on a branch is not because he has faith in the branch. It’s because he has faith in his wings. And I like that you brought up that story because it really it shows Lisa: That’s sweet. Gabe: I have no faith in my wings. You have complete faith in your wings. And the way that I Lisa: Yes. Gabe: Manage my anxiety is to have complete faith in the branch. So what I was trying to explain to you is, look, our branch is in danger. And you were like, hey, if the branch breaks, we’ll just fly to another branch. Chill. Lisa: Right. Gabe: Right. Lisa: This is a great proverb. Gabe: The question that I’m getting at is, why are you this way? Look, I’m not trying to be a jerk by saying this, but I feel that I have way more survival skills than you. Like on a. Lisa: You do not. Gabe: But I do. Come on. Admit it. Lisa: Really? Gabe: On a factual basis. Honestly, if you were trapped in another country and you needed somebody to get you out, who would you call? Lisa: You. Gabe: Right. Lisa: But that doesn’t show that you have more survival skills than me. If you were trapped in another country, who would you call? Gabe: I would call you, but Lisa: Ok. Gabe: I wouldn’t get trapped in another country because I have skills that would make sure that I never got trapped in. How about this? Lisa: If you needed something repaired in your house, who would you call? Gabe: Ok, fine, I understand what you’re saying. Good point. I asked it wrong. Who is more likely to piss off the locals and get stranded in another country and then not be able to get out and need to call somebody? Lisa: I feel like that’s a trick question because you never go anywhere. Gabe: It’s not a trick question. Who is more likely to get stuck in a situation that they need the other one to get them out of? Lisa: All right. Gabe: You piss off everybody. Lisa: Well. Gabe: You are constantly calling me and saying, I don’t know what to do. Bail me out. What have I ever. Lisa: Well, I want social advice. Gabe: That’s what I’m talking about. Socially, you are incredibly awkward, but strangely, you have no anxiety about it whatsoever. How? What is that like? What is that like to have so much unearned faith in your ability to manage? Whereas I have earned skills. You know that I am very good at public relations, marketing, with people, networking, social skills. You know how good I am at it. There is a reason that I am a public speaker, writer and a successful podcast host. And yet I am positive and I have so much anxiety that I’m going to fail at any moment. You, on the other hand, made my parents angry over a misunderstanding. Fifteen years ago. Lisa: Oh, really? Really? That’s where you’re gonna go with this? Really? You want to talk about what you did to my parents? Really? Gabe: Yes, I bought them a very expensive trip. Lisa: Ok. Not that one, the other one. Gabe: Cheated on their daughter? Lisa: Oh, anyway. All right. What are you saying? Gabe: I’m not sure where you’re going with this, but. Lisa: I yeah. Anyway. Gabe: I am better socially, yet I am anxious about it. Lisa: You are better socially. Gabe: You acknowledge that you are worse socially, yet you are not anxious about it. That’s the whole takeaway. I don’t know why you’re fighting me on this. You do not have anxiety. Lisa: Some of that is protective, if you’re bad at something, you can’t be anxious about it or you’ll die. I can’t possibly be anxious about my behavior socially because then I won’t be able to function at all. Gabe: Well. But listen to what you said. You just said that it’s protective. The reason that you don’t have anxiety is to protect yourself. Well, the reason that I don’t have cancer is to protect myself. You can’t control what health problems you get. You’re literally Lisa: Well, that’s fair. Gabe: Saying that you are keeping anxiety at bay. Well, just do that with everything. I am keeping COVID-19 at bay. Otherwise, I will have COVID-19. I mean, just you can’t not. You can’t choose which mental health issues to have. Lisa: That’s true. Gabe: What is it, mind over matter, Lisa? Ooh, are you doing yoga? Are you doing yoga? Wait, you went for a walk in the woods, because that’s what an antidepressant is. What are you doing here? Lisa: Just cheer up. Gabe: Yeah, you’re literally saying I don’t have anxiety because it’s a protective thing. Wow. Why didn’t I think of that? You just cured me. Lisa: What I am saying is that you are much better socially than I am. Like I call you a lot because you always know what to write in the e-mail to apologize and stuff. But in terms. You’re super good at that. Gabe: I am. Lisa: But when it comes to. Gabe: I am super good at apologizing for Lisa. Lisa: You are. You are. He writes the best e-mails for this purpose. I put them in my own words. Anyway. Gabe: I just, I’m thinking of all the people listening to this that have got an apology e-mail from you. They’re going to be like, damn it. She didn’t mean it. Lisa: I meant it. I just didn’t say it right. That’s why Gabe said it. Gabe: Wow. Lisa: You do that all the time. You’re great at that. Gabe: Wow. Lisa: Anywho. The point is, when it comes to life skills, you don’t know how to do anything. You’re terrible at cleaning. You can’t repair anything. Remember the whole thing about how I have a drill? You don’t have a drill. Anytime something breaks in your house, you call me to fix it. Gabe: Yeah, that means I know how to fix it. I call you. Lisa: Really? Do you remember that time that you literally needed to hang something up and you called me to do it? Gabe: Do you remember that time? Lisa: It was the saddest thing anyone had ever seen. Gabe: That you needed to turn on your computer? And you called me to do it? Lisa: Well, yeah, you’re good at computer things. Gabe: So that’s my point, though. Lisa: You’re my computer person. There’s no reason for me to learn these skills when you already have them. Gabe: Yeah. There’s no reason for me. Lisa: Division of labor. Gabe: To learn how to hang a picture when this is a skill that you already have. We trade this. Lisa: Oh, that’s not bad logic, actually. Gabe: The point that I’m making here is I know we’ve gotten Lisa: You have one? Gabe: A little far afield. I do have one. It’s that you acknowledge that you are good at things. I don’t acknowledge that I’m good at things, even the things that I know that I’m good at, I have anxiety about. Lisa: That’s true. Gabe: And even when I do acknowledge that I’m good at something. It’s the logic part of my brain that’s like, Gabe, you know you’re good at this. But at the same time, I don’t sleep on that branch because it’s gonna break. And it’s, I’m in immediate danger all of the time. And you don’t feel that way. Lisa: Sometimes, to be fair, it works to tell you that, like, if you’re nervous about something and I say, look, you’re really good at this, you’re going to do a great job, sometimes it works. Not always, but sometimes. Gabe: The logical part of my brain and one of my coping mechanisms is to apply that logic. Gabe, will this kill you? Gabe, is it true? Gabe, how do people feel about it? And I ask, you know, my friends and family a lot. Are you mad at me? Say, Lisa, are you mad at me? And you’re like, no. And I say to my wife, you know, wife, are you mad at me? And she’ll say, Yes. And I’ll say, OK, why? And she’ll say, Because of this. And I’m like, Oh, my anxiety said that you were mad at me for this other thing. So that’s good to know. And talking it out does help me. This is a coping skill that I have learned and honed over, frankly, over the last decade. But panic attacks. They come up so fast that logic doesn’t work. The other day we were watching a television show and in the television show, in the final scene, a whole bunch of high school kids got in what can only be described as a karate battle. Lisa: Guess which show? Gabe: I do like the show. It’s a really, really good show. But all of these teenagers, and they are teenagers, all of these teenagers are beating on each other. Now they’re using karate skills. And it’s this dojo versus that dojo. But they’re in high school and the other high school kids are cheering them on. Nobody is making any effort to break this up, including the teachers. And I had an immediate panic attack because I was one of the kids that got beat up in high school while the other students and the teachers did nothing. And I kept trying to say, that’s just a TV show. I kept trying to use logic. But as the fight wore on and on and on, I could not get over the fact that minors, children, were hurting one another and nobody seemed to care. And this all culminated in one of the kids falling off of a balcony or something and landing on the steps. And at the end of the season, I mean, I don’t know what it’s actually going to be because on TV you can fall two stories onto steps and just have a bruise. But in real life, that kid’s paralyzed for the rest of his life because the students and teachers did not care enough to stop this brutal beating that was happening in their school. Lisa: Yes. And I really thought you would like it. And in retrospect, I should have known. Gabe: I did like it. Lisa: That has happened to you before when stuff like that’s been on TV. And I didn’t even think about it. I’m sorry about that. I can tell even now, as you’re telling the story, you’re still upset about it. It’s still bothering you. You can hear it in your voice. Yeah. In retrospect, I should have known that that was gonna get you. Gabe: Listen, this is this is part of living in the world. You don’t owe me an apology. The show doesn’t owe me an apology. The world doesn’t have to adapt to Gabe. Gabe has to adapt to the world. I suppose you can argue that this is really the benefits of a content warning and trigger warnings and reading the description of shows, because maybe I would have been more prepared for it. But this Lisa: That’s true. Gabe: Is it. This is where panic attacks are so horrible. Now, you can also argue, let’s be a little bit fair, I could’ve just turned it off. Lisa: You could have seen it coming. Gabe: I could’ve said, you know, this is bullshit. I didn’t see it coming. I just thought it would be quick and it would move the story along. This was an epic battle. This was an epic fight scene that lasted. Lisa: The choreography was amazing. Gabe: It was. It really, really was incredible. I just couldn’t get past it. Lisa: I know. Gabe: I couldn’t get past the memories of my own life. And that’s where that particular panic attack came from. And it was really, really bad. Lisa was nice. She brought me all kinds of water and she gave me a hug and she told me that I would be okay. And these are the panic attacks that, like you said, you can see coming. But I’ve had the same panic attacks with no, just and I still don’t know where they came from. But, Lisa, still, you’ve had trauma in your life. You’ve had bad Lisa: Yeah. Gabe: Things happen in your life. You’ve had things that you don’t want to revisit. And when you see depictions of them in popular media, you don’t have a panic attack. Why is that? Why do I Lisa: No. Gabe: When remembering or seeing depictions of my past trauma, just, my heart races. I sweat. I just, I get dizzy. I could not move. I could not move. How come when you see depictions in popular culture or in the media of traumatic events that have happened to you, you don’t seem to care? You just watch it and you’re like, yeah, something like that happened to me. I’m cool. Lisa: That is an excellent point, and I’ve never really thought about it. I think a couple of things. One, I think it just happens a lot less often to me. It’s not that I don’t react. It’s that there aren’t as many things that set me off. Gabe: Well, but do you ever have a panic attack or are you ever watching something and Lisa: No, Gabe: Have a panic attack? Lisa: Not exactly. It’s not completely true that it doesn’t bother me. There are some things what starts happening on TV and I go, okay, that’s it, I’m done. I just can’t watch it anymore. But it’s not panic. You are right about that. It’s not panic. It’s more just incredible anger or upset-ness. And I think, why am I doing this to myself? Why am I making myself this angry? So I just leave the room. But one, it doesn’t happen very often. And two, it’s not panic. You’re right. It’s more anger. And I’m not having an anger attack for some reason. I don’t know. I don’t know. I guess this is what mental illness is. It kind of happens kind of randomly and you can’t control what you have. Gabe: Do you ever have like? Obviously, we’ve talked about the panic attack that I had because of that show and there’s a reason. But I also have panic attacks that I, they’re not connected to anything. Do you ever have, like, anger or rage attacks that aren’t connected to anything? Lisa: No, Gabe: Or are they always connected to something? Lisa: They’re always connected to something. Always. I’m never just sitting around and suddenly like, oh, my God, I’m so angry. No, that never happens. Gabe: Panic attacks are really insidious for me because more often than not, they come out of nowhere. I use this particular example because, one, it’s recent in my memory and two, it had the added bonus of you being there. Lisa: Well, that hasn’t happened lately. You don’t have near as much as you did when we were together. You know, I used to see you do this a lot more. It had been so long since I’d seen you have a full scale panic attack, I had almost forgotten how horrible it is and how terrible you look. I felt kind of bad about that. Gabe: I know how I feel about having a panic attack. What’s it like for you? You’re just minding your own business and suddenly your friend turns into a giant ball of mumbling word salad water. Lisa: It’s difficult to watch. You look horrible and like I said, I’d forgotten how bad you look. You get that real waxy, cast to your skin and you start to look real gray. And we’ve been many places where this has happened and people have wanted to call 911 or something for you. And I assume as you get older, they’re thinking that you’re having a heart attack. And yeah, yeah, I can see why they think that. You look terrible. You look like something really horrible is happening and you can’t hide it. Gabe: What do you do about it? I don’t remember what you do because I’m focused on me, like you said, if I look horrible, imagine how I feel. So I have no idea what you do during this time. I knew you brought me water. I’d like to think maybe you did more than that. You brought me water and gave me a hug during the worst panic attack you’ve ever had. That’s not true. Or is it? Lisa: This was not the worst panic attack you’ve ever had, but it was a bad one. Gabe: Ok, but you’re avoiding the question of what did you do? Is the answer you just kept watching the show and ignored me. Lisa: Not once I figured out what was happening. It’s, there’s not a lot that you can do. And trust me, if there was, I would have figured it out by now. You become very. I don’t know, I guess inward? Like you draw into yourself. And I always feel like there’s more that you could be doing or more that we could be doing together. And it’s impossible to make you do anything. Like, I always feel like, oh, my God, let’s just leave the situation. You know, we’re at a sporting event. We’re out. Let’s just go home. Why are we standing here? And you will not do it. It’s almost impossible to get you to move. You just stay in the exact same spot, no matter how difficult or poor of a decision that spot is. And you can’t get you to do anything. And obviously, things like calm down, it’s OK. It’ll be alright, that doesn’t work. Gabe: Well, hang on a sec. OK. So. Yes. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever tell anybody to calm down, ever. It’s the literal equivalent of dumping gas on a fire to make the fire go down. But putting that aside, you don’t seem to have a great list of what to do because. Well, frankly, there’s Lisa: There’s not a lot to do. Gabe: Yeah. There’s just not a great list to do. Lisa: Yeah. Gabe: What are some things not to do? What is some advice that you have for people like, hey, if your friend or loved one is having a panic attack, don’t do the following things because that’s stupid? Lisa: Don’t yell. Don’t. They don’t like that. Gabe: Geez, I don’t know why our marriage failed. Don’t yell at the sick guy. It’s sad that you needed to say that. But OK, Lisa: Ok. Gabe: Don’t yell at your sick loved one. Got it. Lisa: Ok, but look at it from my perspective. And I know that this sounds terrible or this sounds selfish, but look at it from my perspective. OK, I want to go to the play or go to the hockey game or go to the party or do whatever it is that I want to do that we have agreed to do. That we have been planning to do. And now you have a panic attack. And that means I can’t do the fun thing that I’ve been looking forward to. And I understand that you can’t control it, but you feel like, I feel like you have more control over this than you would if you had cancer or if you suddenly became nauseous or something like that. Right? So I feel like, oh, my God. Control this better. Push through it. We’ve been looking forward to this. We paid money for this. And you’re messing with my fun here. OK, so it’s hard to get over that. It’s hard to accept. It’s hard to accept. I’m upset for myself as well. And then. Gabe: I’ve never really thought about it from your point of view, and you’re right. If you and I are out at an event and I have a panic attack that ruins it for you, it ruins the events Lisa: Yes. Gabe: And. But you. This is. How come I don’t. Lisa: Even if it’s my event, like what if we went to something for me? You know, I’ve been looking forward to this play that you didn’t really want to go to, but I got the tickets and I’ve had them for six months. Or, of course, we’re visiting my family. We’re at a family wedding or a family gathering. And now you’re a wreck. Or my personal favorite, we’re visiting your family. And so that just puts this incredible burden on me. Because this is something you’re supposed to be doing. And let’s say there’s some responsibility that you have when the panic attack comes on, like you’re supposed be taking care of a kid and you just check out. And now it’s my problem. It seems so incredibly unfair and it’s a lot of extra work for me. Gabe: It’s always interesting to hear the other side. Right. There nothing that I can say to that. I feel terrible. And that’s how come. That’s Lisa: I know. Gabe: How come you said you, Gabe, you won’t leave for nothing. You won’t move for nothing. Yeah. I don’t want to move because if we leave the event, then you won’t get to see it anymore. So I am trying to get through it. I think this is a core misunderstanding and why Lisa: Well. Gabe: I don’t want to move. There’s also I can’t. I can’t move. Lisa: Ok. That’s not bad logic. I hadn’t considered that might be one of your reasons. But, don’t do that. You’re not helping. You know, that is not helping. It is better to get out. Gabe: It may be. Lisa: But again, you won’t. Remember that time you had a panic attack in the bathroom at a Wendy’s? OK. And I could not get you out of there for nothing. And that was not ideal. You just can’t stay in the bathroom at a Wendy’s having a panic attack for a half an hour. Yeah. Gabe: This is where it really sucks to have mental illness, because listen to what you said, it is not ideal for you to stay in a bathroom for a half hour. You can’t do it and you can hear it in your voice. You’re annoyed that I tried to camp out Lisa: I know. Gabe: In a Wendy’s. Remember that time that you refused to leave an international flight, airplane bathroom in violation of TSA law because they were trying to land because you were so airsick. You still, to this day, even though you are violating federal law by trying to stay in that bathroom, you still feel like you were right because you were sick. Lisa: Ok. I could not stop vomiting. Gabe: I could not stop the panic attack. Lisa: That’s all I’m saying. I don’t know what that woman wanted. What did she want me to do? I could not stop vomiting. Gabe: I could not stop the panic attack. Lisa: I know, I know. Gabe: Look, obviously I know it’s got to be horrible to be sick and just want to be not in an airplane. And you felt safe in the bathroom. Just like I felt safe in the bathroom. Now, I was not violating federal law and nobody was trying to land a plane. But you still felt like I should have moved faster and gotten out of the bathroom. Now, you though, you look at it completely different because I don’t know, maybe you had a physical illness? Lisa: I know. Gabe: Like that. Like, is that maybe? Lisa: Yeah, I know, Gabe: You’re pushing? Hmmm? Lisa: Again, I understand, and I do know that intellectually, but in the moment. And it’s hard to get this out of your mind. You feel like you should be able to control it more. You feel like if you tried harder, you, Gabe, tried harder, you would be able to get more control over the situation and fix it or at least make it better. And I know. I know that’s not completely reasonable. This obviously is one reason why we’re divorced. But I just can’t get over that feeling. I can’t get over that thought, especially in the midst of it that, oh, come on, pull it together or at least pull it together more. Maybe you can’t get over it completely, but you could certainly stand up and walk out. Gabe: Remember at the start of the show when I said, which one of us is more likely to be trapped in a foreign country by creating an international incident? Lisa: Uh-huh. Gabe: And you have just said that you violated federal law in another country and refused to leave a bathroom while also chastising me for not leaving a Wendy’s bathroom, I might add. Now, can Lisa: Yeah. Gabe: Can maybe people understand that of the two of us, you are more likely to be arrested on foreign soil? Lisa: If I could have stopped vomiting, I would have left the bathroom. It’s not like I wanted to stay there. Gabe: If I could have stopped my heart from racing, stopped from sweating. Been able to stand up on my own feet, which were wobbly, end of the vertigo, and been able to focus, see and think straight, I would have left the Wendy’s bathroom, though. The reality is, is listen, we’re both right and we’re both wrong. That is why there’s no good solution here. We’re both sick. I would like to point out that society in general is probably going to agree with you more. Well, what could the woman do, she was vomiting? Lisa: I know. Gabe: And not agree with me. And this is, this is why the world is just, well, frankly, tough for people with mental illness. And I know. I know that I wrecked plans for you because I know that if you were vomiting and we had to leave a hockey game or a Rolling Stones concert or something that I spent a lot of money on and was looking forward to, I would be mad or upset or at the very least annoyed. And you only ever got sick once. I got sick all the time. Really, the question is, and this is serious question, why did you keep buying tickets to events? Because I was having these panic attacks in crowds at your events 80% of the time. Why did we keep going? It’s like you were setting me up to fail. Lisa: Was it that much? Gabe: It was it was at least 50% of the time. Lisa: What are you supposed to do? Give up your life? Stop going out? Gabe: Maybe. Lisa: Like that was one of the things people said at the time that people who have panic attacks, at a certain point, you stop doing things not because you’re afraid of the thing. You’re not afraid to go to the Blue Jackets game. You’re afraid that you’ll have a panic attack at the Blue Jackets game. So you start avoiding activities because of the fear of the panic attacks. You’re not afraid of the thing anymore. Gabe: Blue Jackets is a hockey team for those that don’t knows. There’s like 18,000 people there and tickets are hundreds of dollars. It’s ridiculous. And yeah, I stopped going to a lot of things because I was afraid of. Lisa: Right. But you weren’t afraid of the thing, you were afraid of the panic attacks. So it becomes the panic attack that is limiting your life. And whare you supposed to do with that? Should you lean into the curve and just start curtailing your life because you’re afraid you’ll have panic attacks? How long is that going to last? Pretty soon, you’re gonna be housebound. I don’t know if that is a good strategy or even something you should want to try, to stay home to avoid panic attacks. Because where’s that going to end? Gabe: You obviously don’t think that’s a good idea, and I benefited from it because you kept buying tickets. We kept going to plays, we kept going to concerts. We got on airplanes and flew to other cities and went on vacations because you just decided, I’m not letting Gabe’s mental illness and potential panic attacks get in the way. And I had panic attacks on almost every single one. In fact, there’s a funny story. I was invited to a conference for people with mental illness, and I was having so many panic attacks, we’re pretty much stuck in the room. And Lisa called. Well, well, Lisa, you called your friend. And what did she say? That the whole reason you’re there is because he has panic disorder? Lisa: I called and said, I can’t believe this guy is doing this. He’s mucking up our trip, blah, blah, blah. She goes, you know, the reason you’re on that trip is because he’s mentally ill. So you’re going to be mad at him for being mentally ill on the trip? And I was like, huh? Well, that’s good logic, I guess. But I almost feel sick to my stomach even thinking about that trip, because when you had a panic attack on the airplane and it was so horrifying and I was so afraid for you. And, you know, this was 15 years ago. And so only a few weeks earlier, a man with bipolar disorder had been shot and killed by air marshals because he had a panic attack on a plane and people freaked out. And I almost cried listening to the story because it was exactly like every time it had happened to you where the person was with him, his wife was saying things like, it’s okay, we’re gonna be home soon. It’s all right. You’re all right. And I still all these years later, I still feel sick just thinking about it. It’s horrible to watch. And I was so afraid for you. And I was just so afraid that something like that would happen. Gabe: This was only a couple of years after September 11, and much like the other gentleman, you know, I’m a big guy. I’m a loud guy. And I’m acting extraordinarily irrationally. And the entire country is on high alert for people who are acting irrationally on airplanes. It reminds me, several years ago I was coming back from a conference and a woman had a panic attack on a plane and she tried to get into the cockpit. She thought that the cockpit door was the bathroom door and she was pounding on it and screaming and pulling on it. And she was very, very fortunate. One, she probably weighed 90 pounds soaking wet. And they came to the back and said, hey, we need to move this woman to the back. Can you sit in the front? And I overheard them say this to the person who is directly behind me. And I said, I work in mental health and I would be happy to sit with her. I’m sorry this happened. It sounds like a mental health issue. And the stewardess said, I don’t know what it is. This has never happened before. But if you will keep tabs on her, this would probably go a lot smoother. And I said, OK. And she sat by the window, me in the middle seat. And two hours later we landed. And of course, she was you know, they had to have an air marshal escort her off of the plane. I don’t know what happened after that, but I do think about this a lot. You know that this woman did try to get into the cockpit of an airplane in flight. What would have happened if she was a large black man? What would have happened if she was a large white guy? What would have happened if she was a man? Apparently? Lisa: What would have happened if she was you? Gabe: I don’t know. Lisa: You’re a big guy. And so when you start acting erratically, it freaks people out. People get nervous. They get upset. And frankly, they get scared. And I worry about that. Not so much now, but I worried about that for you. Quite a lot on that particular flight. It was horrible. Gabe: I also wonder about that woman. What would happen if I wasn’t on the flight and I don’t mean me because I think I’m. Lisa: Yeah. You helped. Gabe: I’m fantastic. It’s because I have specialized training. I’m a certified peer supporter. I have skills in leading a support group, working with people with mental health issues. I myself have a mental illness. I know de-escalation, etc. So I offered to help. And I just chittered at her and we talked. And whenever she would ask questions or try to get up, I would put her focus on something else. And she sat there for the entire trip and did not move. Well, what if she would have sat all alone and the person next to her would have been annoyed by her? Afraid of her? And that would have, you know, ramped up her annoyance? Because you can feel that, you’re so packed in. These are the things that cause more anxiety and more panic. And what if she would’ve started kicking or lashing out? I mean, again, she’s very tiny. And I don’t know that she could have hurt anybody. But I do know that she can be arrested for assault. I don’t know if she got arrested for trying to get into the cockpit. I honestly don’t know. And they would not tell me. And that is probably reasonable. The woman has rights. I don’t know, I hope that she got the help that she needed and she was OK. But these are the things that weigh heavy on my mind. And, Lisa, I just you knew that whole story and you still saw the greater good of getting me on that plane. I don’t know if you just really Lisa: Well. Gabe: Wanted to go to San Francisco, but if you would not have done that, I would not travel the country giving speeches all by myself right now. Lisa: You are much better. Gabe: I’m not much better. I’m perfect. Lisa: I cannot emphasize enough the difference between then and now. You used to be completely incapacitated by your panic attacks. I mean, you did have periods where you essentially could not leave the house. And you have made, I don’t want to say recovery, because that’s not quite the right word. But you are much, much better than you ever were back then to the point where when you had a panic attack last week, it took me a while to figure out what it was. It had been so long since I’d seen one. There’s just a huge difference in your stability now. Gabe: We’ll be right back after these messages. Announcer: Interested in learning about psychology and mental health from experts in the field? Give a listen to the Psych Central Podcast, hosted by Gabe Howard. Visit PsychCentral.com/Show or subscribe to The Psych Central Podcast on your favorite podcast player. Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counseling. Our counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counseling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Lisa: And we’re back talking about panic attacks. Gabe: I am extraordinarily thankful that you kept buying tickets. I’m extraordinarily thankful that you supported me in a partnership. You didn’t yell at me and tell me to calm down. You didn’t treat me poorly. You did get annoyed because you’re human. But you really probably handled it as best that anybody could. And we talked about it a lot. And I learned more and more coping skills by going to therapy, by adjusting my medication and by trying again. And you gave me the courage to try again. Like you said, people stop going places because they’re afraid of the panic attack, not because they’re afraid of the event or the venue or even the people there. You helped me go again and again and again. And I don’t know if it’s exposure therapy. I don’t know if I’m using that correctly. But without you, I would not have tried again. And now I can enjoy flights and travel and concerts and plays, and I can really just enjoy life to the fullest. It’s interesting that you brought up recovery because on one hand, I immediately wanted to interject. I’m in recovery. What are you talking about? But then I just had a panic attack. It’s not 100 percent. You can’t call yourself in recovery if you have zero symptoms of mental illness because that’s an improbable, likely impossible goal. Do you consider me to be in recovery with panic? And I’m asking your opinion. Lisa: Well, okay, that’s going to be yet another topic that we add, the whole definition of recovery. That’s a whole debate in mental health circles. I would say that definitely you still have panic disorder. You still have panic attacks. But it’s almost, not all the way, but almost, inconsequential at this point. It has very little impact on your life these days. How many panic attacks do you have? I mean, again, I don’t live with you. Less than once a month? Gabe: Probably, yeah. Lisa: Once every couple of months? Gabe: I probably have 12 a year. I have slightly more around the holidays. Lisa: Are they not as bad as they used to be, like are the individual panic attacks themselves lesser? Gabe: No. When I was having one a day, you know, again, we talk about spectrums a lot. When I was having one a day, they were pretty mild. They were panic attacks and they were problematic, but they were smaller. And now I pretty much only have four alarm panic attacks. Now, having ten to twelve four alarm panic attacks a year seems like a lot. But I really did used to have one every day or two or three a day or. I haven’t ran out of a job in years. Remember that time I quit the job from the parking lot? Lisa: Yes. Gabe: Because of the panic attack? Lisa: Yes, I do. Gabe: And almost wrecked the car on the way home because I should not have been driving? But I didn’t know. Lisa: That’s another thing you always did that annoyed me. You’d be like, oh, no, I’m fine to drive. No, you’re not. You’re too sick to stay at the hockey game, but you’re fine to drive? That’s just stupid. But, hey, I’m over that now. That was 15 years ago. Not still mad. Anyway, Gabe: But you should have been mad. You’re not wrong. Lisa: I was mad. Gabe: That anger led to a good place because I should not have been driving and you stopped me from driving. To this day, I will not drive when I have a panic attack. Lisa: I go back and forth between being angry at you and feeling like that’s unreasonable because on the one hand, it kind of seems like it’s unreasonable to be angry at you for having a panic attack. But on the other hand, it kind of feels like it’s not unreasonable. So, yeah. Gabe: This is not clean. Listen, I was angry at you for forcing a stewardess. An air marshal? I don’t know who it was that was pounding Lisa: It was a stewardess. Gabe: On the door, saying loudly So everybody in the plane could hear. Ma’am, we will not land if you don’t get out and you will delay this flight by an hour. But I wasn’t even on the plane. All right. Just hearing the story later made me angry that you would jeopardize a flight with three hundred people on it. You can hear me getting mad now. How could you inconvenience all those poor people that had been on a plane for 11 hours? Because, oh, I’m throwing up and I don’t want to do it in front of people. Oh, my God. Lisa: That wasn’t why. Gabe: Just. Just. That’s it. So. Yeah. Lisa: I didn’t want to throw up on the stewardess or on the guy I was sitting next to who was a stranger. Sorry about that, by the way. Poor thing. Gabe: So you were going to leave a plane in the air? Lisa: Well, I didn’t understand that until she started yelling at me. Gabe: The point that I’m making is you can hear me as you are explaining this to me, just thinking, wow, you are incredibly unreasonable. But I go back and forth. Lisa: And selfish and inconsiderate. Gabe: And selfish and inconsiderate. But logically, that’s. You didn’t know what was happening. You didn’t know that you were jeopardizing the flight from landing. I understand why you feel this way. I do. It took me a long time to understand it. But just because I am upset that you did this or you’re upset that I did this, just because your feelings are reasonable doesn’t mean they’re right. Lisa: Like I said, I go back and forth with it. I still am angry with you and I can understand some of the arguments intellectually that it’s not reasonable to be mad at you. But, yeah, I’m still mad. I still feel it. And, yeah, I understand what you’re saying about your feelings aren’t right. But how do you not listen to your feelings, you know? I mean, how do you ignore your own feelings? Gabe: Your gut and your feelings are not the end all be all of the world. Because my gut has told me a lot of things that have turned out to be very incorrect. Lisa: It feels like they are. Yeah. Gabe: My gut has told me to hit and I lost all $25. I follow the logic of blackjack, you know, hit on this. Don’t hit on this. Play the odds and I win a lot. So clearly the feeling of whether or not to hit is not how I should be gambling. And you know what builds casinos? People that use their gut to gamble. You know who else builds casinos? People who use a logic and a system to gamble. Everybody who gambles helps build casinos. But Lisa: These are good examples. Gabe: The best way to play blackjack is to put the odds in your favor. And the odds being in your favor is just intellect and logic. There’s no feelings involved. But you know as well as I do, everybody sitting at that table, their gut starts to tell them. Lisa: Yeah. Gabe: Their gut tells them to hit. And you know what happens when they listen to their gut? Sometimes they win. Lisa: Yeah, that throws off the whole system. Gabe: And that’s why they believe their gut. Don’t believe your gut, your gut is wrong. We need to follow logic more than we do. I know that it’s hard. I want you to know that logically, I know that you weren’t trying to do anything wrong. And I know that logically, you know that I wasn’t trying to do anything wrong. And this is what makes this so complicated, right? It doesn’t matter how we logically feel. Emotions get the better of us all the time. All the time. You know, logically, I know that I am going to outlive my parents, but I don’t feel that’s right. I just don’t. I’m not prepared for it. I don’t want it to happen. I want all of us to live forever. But logically, I know it’s going to happen. But my gut tells me that it’s not gonna. We’re gonna be together forever. And most of us listen to our gut. And that’s why things like death hit us so hard. Because even though we all know what’s going to happen, none of us prepare for it because we don’t care. We go with our feelings that things are fine now and they’re going to be fine forever. And that’s a problem for another day. I think it’s a lot like that. Lisa, I need to say again, I’m not trying to belabor the point, but I might be an anxiety ridden panic attack, having housebound agoraphobic if you didn’t keep helping me get out. My advice to listeners is, you know, find a buddy. Find a buddy that’s willing to tolerate it and go out as much as you can. All the places that gave you panic attacks. Go there again. And if you have a panic attack again, go there again. If there is any secret to my success, it’s that Lisa stuck around and kept helping me. Lisa: You realize this is the first and only time you’ve ever said this. Gabe: Well, yeah, I’m doing it publicly, so I sound really good. As soon as we’re done recording, I’m going to say that, hey, I only did that to sound good on the air. Lisa: One of the things that would make me so angry back then was that you never apologized. When we had to leave or stop doing or whatever, you never said you were sorry. And if I would say something like, screw you, buddy. You would say, you can’t blame me. It’s not fair of you to be mad at me for being sick. Gabe: Yeah, isn’t this? Lisa: And maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t. But you never apologized. That really pissed me off. Gabe: I now understand this. When I put myself in other people’s shoes, the world looks a lot different. But I was so busy protecting myself and caring for myself, and I could not understand why you were mad at me for being sick. You know, my grandfather passed away from cancer and he was sick for a couple of years and nobody was mean to him. And he had all kinds of problems, as you can imagine two years in hospice is a very, very long time. Lisa: Well, but he probably did. Gabe: I don’t know that he ever. Nobody expected him to apologize for being sick. Lisa: I know, but I bet he said thank you. Gabe: I don’t know if he did or not, but nobody expected him to. The man was dying of cancer. Lisa: So you’re telling me that if you’re dying of cancer and someone comes in and takes care of you, you weren’t gonna say, hey, thank you? Gabe: I have no idea. Lisa: Thank you for doing this for me. Thank you for showing me this care, this consideration, this love. Thank you. Gabe: I have no idea. Because the overwhelming thought of lying in bed dying might overcome my sense of I should be thankful. I don’t know. I have never had to hold that on my chest. I have never had to consider my own mortality in this way. And maybe considering that I am going to die and leave my family will make me forget please and thank you. Because maybe it’s just not so important anymore. I don’t know. I hope not. Some people get terminally ill and they’re still making jokes. They’re still making YouTube videos. I consider those people to be just amazing and incredibly inspirational. And some people get terminally ill and they just they cry every day. And I’m not going to say that one person’s right and one person’s wrong, because once again, you don’t have panic attacks when you see things that are traumatizing to you. You get angry. I don’t get angry. I have panic attacks. Do you want to sit here and debate which one of us is right and which one of us is wrong? Because I think that would be just one, a waste of time and two, kind of a jerk move. We can’t control our feelings. Lisa: I am trying to say that for all of you out there who are having panic attacks, I know that you feel that you don’t need to apologize or maybe you feel like you have, hey, I’m sick. Leave me alone. Hey, I’ve earned the right to be a little self-centered here. But it would be nice and it will make your life easier. Try to apologize. Try to look at it from the other person’s point of view. Try to respect that they’re going through a lot, too. And it wouldn’t hurt to say you’re sorry or to try to be extra nice about it. That’s all I’m saying. Gabe: Lisa, I. I love giving you shit. Lisa: That’s a life tip there. Gabe: But as you know, I agree with 100 percent of what you just said. Lisa: Oh, it’s like that thing you always say that it may not be our fault, but it is our responsibility. Gabe: I was literally just getting ready to say that. Lisa: You’re welcome. Gabe: I love the part where you’re like, hey, Gabe, it’s the thing you were always going to say. I’m sitting right here. At least we have learned from each other. You know, you’re right, Lisa, because I, you know, I got lucky even though I never apologized. I never tried to make amends, et cetera. You did stick around. And I appreciate that. But, you know, a lot of my other friends did not. It took a long time to get back in good graces with, you know, some of my family members that, you know, I was that family member that everybody’s like. He’s coming? All right. Well, we’ll only stay for a half an hour. I put the people around me through a lot. And what fixed those relationships is me apologizing. And you’re right, Lisa. I do say all the time, just because it is not your fault doesn’t mean it’s not your responsibility. But I also say and I think this is really the crux of it, I’ve never once apologized for being mentally ill. I’ve never once apologized for having a panic attack or being depressed or having to go to the hospital. I have apologized for ruining the play. I have apologized for ruining the concert or ruining the evening, or I have paid back people who have spent money and then had to drive me home because the thing got canceled. I have thanked people for taking care of me when I was sick. Gabe: I don’t expect people to run around and say, hi, my name is Gabe. I apologize for having bipolar disorder. But I do expect people to say hi, my name is Gabe. I’m really sorry that I got sick and ruined your evening. I know that you were looking forward to seeing Hamilton and you spent a lot of money on that. Please let me reimburse you for the ticket. And I’m just so incredibly sorry I ruined the evening by getting sick. That’s a very reasonable thing to say. I did ruin the evening. Listen, I got a million of these analogies. If you accidentally bang into somebody’s car, you have to fix their bumper. If you have a seizure and bang into somebody’s car, still have to fix the bumper. I think we get hung up on that a lot. That really is my the more you know moment. You want to keep the people in your life around? Appreciate them and try to see things from their perspective. And I hope this lets the people in our lives stick around more. And I hope everybody with panic disorder and anxiety can find a buddy. I hope everybody with depression can find a buddy. You know, I hope everybody can find a buddy. You know, Lisa, like we did. I mean, not like exactly like we did. Like, I don’t I don’t want them to be, like, codependent and really screwed up. Lisa: Aww. Gabe: But I hope everybody finds a BFF. But don’t start podcasts. That’s, we don’t need the competition. That’s our thing. Lisa: That’s true, but this isn’t about panic attacks. This is just more of a golden rule type thing. Be polite. If someone has done something nice for you, say thank you. If you’ve messed with somebody else, even if you didn’t mean to apologize. It goes a long way. Gabe: Are you trying to turn our show into, like a touchy feely, huggy huggy, hippie dippy kind of sunshiny thing? I mean, that’s a. Lisa: Yeah, well, that’s something I’m known for is my sunshine. Gabe: It’s the golden rule. Lisa: People tell me that all the time. Gabe: Do unto others. Lisa: So much sunshine. Gabe: As you would have them do unto you. I feel bad at how often we joke about some of the podcasts that are out there that really are just teaching basic, you know, follow your bliss, be your best self. It’s not bad advice, but no, we’re just we’re snarkier, apparently. Lisa: It’s not my thing. Gabe: It’s not my thing? Lisa: I don’t know. I’ve just never been into that. Apparently, it’s really working for some people and it’s certainly working for the people who make the podcasts. But I yeah, I don’t get it. Gabe: Hey, this is why we are the mental health podcast for people who hate mental Lisa: Mental health podcasts. Gabe: Health podcasts. Lisa: Good one. Gabe: Listen up, everybody. Here’s what we need you to do. If you loved the show, please subscribe. Wherever you downloaded it, rate, rank and review. We would love that. Use your words. You can e-mail us at show@PsychCentral.com with any topic ideas that you have. And finally share us all over social media. And once again, words matter. Tell people why they should listen. We will see everybody next week. Lisa: We’ll see you then. Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Not Crazy Podcast from Psych Central. For free mental health resources and online support groups, visit PsychCentral.com. Not Crazy’s official website is PsychCentral.com/NotCrazy. To work with Gabe, go to gabehoward.com. Want to see Gabe and me in person? Not Crazy travels well. Have us record an episode live at your next event. E-mail show@psychcentral.com for details. View the full article
  13. Phobiasupportforum

    Staying Home Doesn’t Have to Mean Being Alone

    While things appear to be slowly opening up again in many parts of the world, many people continue to feel hesitant to leave their homes, fearful of exposure to COVID-19. The resulting sense of isolation, depression, and anxiety are keeping mental health hotlines busy. Without sounding too rosy, is there the possibility of extracting something positive from the turn inward that circumstances are now offering? A telephone survey of 818 Hong Kong residents of age 18-60 during the SARS epidemic in 2003 offers glimmers of hope. Researchers have reported in the Journal of Infection (August, 2006) that over 60% of respondents cared more about their family member’s feelings. About 30-40% found their friends and family members more supportive. About 2/3 of those interviewed paid more attention to their mental health. And around 35-40% of participants in the survey reported taking more time for resting, relaxing, and exercising. Sometimes it takes an unexpected and unwelcome jolt to remind us of what’s important in life. These findings suggest to me that one positive response to the stress and fear created by a pandemic is to avail ourselves of the rich resource of human connections, while also taking time to cultivate self-care habits. Perhaps our lives have been so busy that we haven’t allowed ourselves to pause long enough to attend to our own — and each other’s — inner world. Now that we’re being forced (or invited) to slow down, it’s an opportunity to gently embrace what’s happening inside us, as well as to open our heart to listen to how others are experiencing the pandemic and how it’s affecting them. With the unemployment rate being so high and facing a host of uncertainties, now is a good time to avail ourselves of the support of family and/or friends. But it takes a courageous willingness to be a little vulnerable to share our feelings. If you’re feeling pretty isolated and vulnerable right now, know that you’re not alone. As the Hong Kong survey suggests, we have an opportunity to pay more attention to our mental and emotional well-being. We can take time to gently embrace our feelings and listen deeply to others’ feelings and concerns. This is a time when many of us are feeling rather powerless and isolated. But we do have the power make choices that help us feel less isolated. We can call, email, or video chat with a friend — or even send a nice card or letter (imagine that!) Like you, they might appreciate your checking in with them to see how they’re doing. You might also reflect upon people who have had a meaningful impact on your life. Caught in the time-consuming rat race, it’s easy to lose touch with friends with whom we once felt a strong and supportive connection. You might consider going through your old phone book or searching social media to see if you can locate an old friend or two. I found myself “shocking” a few old friends and had some lovely and uplifting conversations recently. Perhaps we’ll stay in touch more now, but even if we don’t, there’s something rewarding for both of us to let them know I still think about them and value them. We have the power to not just endure what is happening and whatever we’re feeling about it, but also to express our feelings and concerns to people who care about us. That won’t change the situation we find ourselves in, but don’t underestimate how communicating openly can change our inner landscape. And feeling less isolated and more connected, we might just find an inner strength that helps us consider creative ways that we might move forward in our lives. I’ve also found myself doing more reading, while moderating how much news I absorb. It’s natural to succumb to our unbridled amygdala, which is programmed to scan for danger in order to help us survive. If we can maintain some mindfulness around what will help us feel less overwhelmed and isolated, we might find our way toward a deeper connection with ourselves and the people we care about. If we can find a spacious perspective and bring some wisdom to how we spend our time, we might find a better balance. View the full article
  14. In today’s Psych Central Podcast, Gabe talks with Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit movement dedicated to helping people who are struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and suicide. Jamie shares how the idea for the non-profit was born in 2006 after he spent 5 days with his new friend Renee who’d recently been turned down for rehab. After writing about the experience and posting it on Myspace, people began to respond with their own stories, and the seeds for the non-profit were planted. Tune in to find out how To Write Love on Her Arms helps people struggling with mental illness and addiction and how you can get involved. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Jamie Tworkowski- To Write Love on Her Arms’ Podcast Episode Jamie Tworkowski is the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA began in 2006 as Jamie’s attempt to help a friend and tell a story. Since then, the TWLOHA team has responded to more than 210,000 messages from over 100 countries, in addition to investing more than $2.5 million directly into treatment and recovery. Jamie’s TWLOHA blogs are a source of hope and encouragement for thousands, and he speaks frequently at universities, concerts and conferences. Jamie lives in Melbourne Beach, Florida. He loves surfing, music, basketball and being an uncle. About The Psych Central Podcast Host Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author. To learn more about Gabe, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Jamie Tworkowski- To Write Love on Her Arms‘ Episode Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Announcer: You’re listening to the Psych Central Podcast, where guest experts in the field of psychology and mental health share thought-provoking information using plain, everyday language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard. Gabe Howard: Welcome, everyone, to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Podcast. Calling into the show today, we have Jamie Tworkowski. Jamie is the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with addiction, depression, self injury and suicide. To Write Love on Her Arms began in 2006 as Jamie’s attempt to help a friend and to tell a story. Jamie, welcome to the show. Jamie Tworkowski: Thanks for having me. Gabe Howard: Well, it’s really excited to have you here, I’ve been aware of To Write Love on Her Arms for a long time, so it’s exciting to talk to you. I don’t want to sound like too much of a fanboy, but you’ve done excellent work out in the community and you’ve really resonated with me personally as someone who lives with bipolar disorder. So first off, thank you for all you do, and it’s an honor to meet you. Jamie Tworkowski: Oh, man, you’re so welcome. I love that our story and our work somehow ended up on your radar. That’s really cool. Gabe Howard: Oh, very cool. So for those who don’t know, can you tell people what To Write Love on Her Arms is? Jamie Tworkowski: Yeah. So you read the mission statement. But I tend to go back to the very beginning. Our nonprofit didn’t start as a nonprofit. It just started as an attempt to help a girl who quickly became my friend. Her name is Renee, and I met her back in 2006 when she was dealing with drug addiction, depression, a history of self injury, suicide attempts, and was denied entry into a local treatment center. And I ended up writing a story about the time we spent together getting to know her. And that story was called To Write Love on Her Arms and shared that online on social media. And I was met with a really surprising response and just learned that her story represented so many people in so many places. Initially started selling T-shirts as a way to help pay for her treatment in central Florida and then in a few weeks realized that this thing had a lot of momentum. And we were looking at the chance to do more than tell one story and do more than help one person. And we were able to over time create a 501(c)(3) and become a nonprofit and build a team and basically continue to invest in professional help in the forms of treatment and counseling. But more than anything, just to communicate a message of hope and encouragement, connect people to resources and try to break down the stigma that surrounds mental health and just let people know it’s okay to be open and it’s okay to be honest. Gabe Howard: It sounds like Renee was the impetus for all of this, and I believe you said that you didn’t know her very well. What made you put yourself out there in really such a bold and meaningful way for someone that, if I understand correctly, you hardly knew? Jamie Tworkowski: Yeah. I didn’t know her. So really, the story documents the five days after I met her. And people love to sort of paint me or imagine me as the hero. But I would actually say most of the credit goes to my friend David McKenna, who I was living with in Orlando. I was renting a room from him. And David has actually since passed away, but at the time was in recovery and became very much like a big brother to Renee. And after she was denied entry into this treatment center, she lived in our living room for the following five days. And so I was just staying up late and being curious and getting to know her. And we were trying to keep her safe and keep her smiling and essentially pass the time to when she would be admitted into this local treatment center. So a lot of it was just being moved by getting to know someone. And like you said, it was very much a new friendship. Gabe Howard: I’m still hung up on, you said that she was denied access to a treatment center even though she needed treatment. I’m just having trouble wrapping my brain around how somebody who is in need of medical care would be denied medical care. Can you talk about that for a moment? Jamie Tworkowski: Yeah, sort of the absurdity of that is highlighted. Someone just points out like you can’t get into rehab basically because you need rehab. So this particular treatment center, which actually does not exist today. They did not offer an element of detox. And I assume that was insurance-related, space-related. But their particular policy was that she was deemed too high risk in relation to the other patients who were already there. And that was because of the drugs in her system and also because of a self-inflicted wound. And that actually relates to the title of the story that I wrote and what has become the name of our organization. So the night that I met her, she ended up taking a razor blade to her forearm and wrote the word “f**k up.” And I share that not to be shocking or surprising, but simply because it’s real. It’s true. It’s what really happened. And I think it’s ultimately not about profanity, but instead about identity. And I think it really represents how stuck she felt, how sad she felt, how much regret she lived with. How much of a failure she felt like. And maybe, you know, that word might be jarring for a lot of people, but my guess is some version of that word has crossed our mind. Jamie Tworkowski: And maybe we can relate to how did I end up here? How did my life turn out this way? Oh, my gosh. What have I done? How will I get out of this? And so I think that’s what was happening in that moment. But basically, she was denied entry because of the self-inflicted wound and the drugs that were still in her system. So all of that is the answer to why she was denied entry. And it feels important to point out that hopefully would not often be the case. And it certainly wouldn’t always be the case because this place, which, like I said, eventually went out of business, that this was not the standard entrance process for someone struggling. There are enough hurdles and barriers that keep people from getting help. Whether it’s shame, whether it’s stigma, whether it’s finances. And so the last thing we want to do is highlight another one that makes these places feel intimidating. So I think we love to highlight whether it’s in a moment like this or when I go speak somewhere, just that this would not often be the case. Gabe Howard: Jamie, thank you so much for saying that, because you’re right, there’s an awful lot of fear in reaching out for help and feeling like you would be rejected. I can only imagine how that would feel. What was it about this friendship that impacted you so much? This wasn’t a romantic relationship. You guys are just friends. This was a friendship that led to something incredible. What was it about this collection of people at this moment in time that that made this create all of this? Jamie Tworkowski: Yeah, I think you’re right to say it wasn’t just her and I. But it was a small group of people and it was a group of friends trying to care for someone who was really struggling, was really hurting. You know, specifically, we were looking at this five day window where we needed to get her through that so that she could step into treatment and get the help that she really needed and deserved. And actually, a movie was made about primarily the five days kind of our origin story as an organization. And then I think I had never had conversations like this and I had never had an encounter like this. And so I think I was really moved by someone who was not only struggling, not only someone who had experienced a lot of pain, but someone who was also really gifted and really unique and had a lot of life in her. And so I felt like her life was very much a picture of contrast. And I was struck by that and moved by that. And then just wondered if other people might be moved by her story being told. And she loved the idea that maybe someone else could end up getting help. And it all just kind of went from there. Gabe Howard: Well, I think that that’s absolutely incredible, so let’s fast forward to 2020, today. We know what happened back in 2006 to start To Write Love on Her Arms. Where is the organization today? In 2020? Jamie Tworkowski: So we’ve been able to grow, you know, in all of those years since we’ve been able to build a team. We’re still based in central Florida. I believe we have 17 full time staff members. And then we always have five or six full time interns who literally come from all over the world to live together, to work together, to work alongside our team. You know, we got our start on Myspace. So we joke that the Myspace has indeed slowed down. But social media has kind of been our heartbeat ever since it’s been sort of home base for us. And we’ve been able to make all the transitions over time, you know, to Facebook and Tumblr, Instagram. We love using social media and the Internet to meet people where they are to communicate, hope to connect people to resources. And then we love the face to face opportunities as well. Whether it’s music festivals, college campuses, we were at a high school yesterday, I think in 2020, we’ve just seen so many surprising doors into different communities open, seen doors open into Hollywood and into professional sports and into the world of gaming. And ultimately, we know that these are issues that affect people. And so we just want to try to bring hope and help to all sorts of people. But it’s been really incredible just to see folks be generous and to be welcoming and inviting us into all these different spaces. We love to do what we did initially for Renee, which is help pay for her treatment, help remove that financial barrier. So that’s a part of what we do. We have a find help tool on our website where people can come and enter their zip code and find a list of local mental health resources, including free and reduced cost services in their community. So there’s a whole bunch of things. We post blogs, we use design. We definitely value creativity. And I think more than anything are trying to move people from a place of hopelessness to hope and maybe not knowing a lot to becoming educated. And so we’re thankful that almost 14 years in, we’re going really strong. Gabe Howard: Let’s go back to your origin story. I have so many questions about Renee. And one of them is how is she doing now? Jamie Tworkowski: First off, she’s alive and she’s doing well. She had a baby boy about a year ago. There’s been a lot of highlights. There’s been a lot that she’s been able to pursue from music to writing a book to speaking events, ways that we’ve been able to work together on things. We sell her jewelry. She hand makes these rings that we sell and consistently sell out of in our, you know, in our online store. And then with that, I think she’d be the first to admit that it’s been really hard. It hasn’t been a fairy tale. There’s been relapses. There’s been hard seasons, hard years. But I think it’s fair to say that she’s doing well. And I think as it is for anyone who pursues sobriety and mental health, it’s one day at a time. It’s going to meetings. It’s going to counseling. It’s not trying to do the whole thing alone. Gabe Howard: I imagine that that would be a lot. And thank you so much to her for allowing you to share. Now I’m looking at your mission statement, and one of the things that I notice in it that is different is self injury. You know, addiction, depression, suicide, that’s all commonplace. A lot of mental health charities highlight that. Can you talk about why you’re so open about self injury? Jamie Tworkowski: It really was not or is not a strategic thing. It literally just showed up in the life of my friend that all of this started with. And I think because we shared her story in a way that was honest, we continued to hear from people for whom that is personal, you know, and we continue to hear from people who struggle. And especially in 2006, not a lot of people were talking about it, especially in a healthy way or in a way of bringing hope and solutions to it. I think people responded and were surprised and maybe it felt inviting. And so we love to even expand beyond our mission statement and could add anxiety. You could add eating disorders. We think ultimately this is about pain and what do we do with our pain? How do we respond to pain? So we hear from all sorts of people, young and old, who deal with different things. And I think we try not to fixate too much on do you deal with this or do you deal with this? But to even zoom out and just say, hey, we it’s hard to be a person. A lot of the time we deal with grief. We deal with sadness. We deal with mental illness. It looks differently for a lot of people. But how can we quickly move to community and also to professional help? Gabe Howard: We’ll be right back after these messages. Sponsor Message: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counseling. Our counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counseling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Gabe Howard: We’re back discussing the nonprofit To Write Love on Her Arms with founder Jamie Tworkowski. Whenever I talk to people who have started movements and non-profits, they always have a very personal experience that usually is the impetus of all of this. Now, we’ve heard your story with Rene and how it impacted you, but you have a story personally. You’ve been very open about your own struggles with your own mental health issues. Where do you fit into all of this as a person living with a mental health issue or a mental illness? Jamie Tworkowski: Yeah. And as you said, I’m open with the fact that I am someone who deals with depression. I’ve gone to counseling for years. I’ve been on an antidepressant for years. And I think the silver lining for me is just hopefully it allows me to relate to people. And it puts me in the boat with everyone else, you know. And so I can certainly relate to pain, to struggle with different feeling stuck or off at times. Yeah. And then I think I love that, you know, I literally went to counseling yesterday. And so to be able to speak not hypothetically about the counseling experience, but to be able to talk about how much I’ve benefited in my own life, you know, hopefully that makes it that much more real or authentic when I talk about encouraging people to take that step and, you know, even to be able to talk about meds as someone who has benefited and found stability. So, you know, I don’t wish depression on anyone, but I think I have been able to find the silver lining in my own experience. Gabe Howard: One of the things that you say is that you realize that the biggest obstacle to mental health challenges and mental illness was the stigma associated with talking about it. How did you realize that? What’s the story surrounding that? A lot of people don’t realize how difficult it is to even say to friends and family that they’re suffering from mental illness, let alone publicly. Jamie Tworkowski: Yeah, I think we began and I say we honestly had the time, it was just me responding to these messages. I began to see right away that the people were saying, hey, this is something I’ve never talked about. This is a question I’ve never asked. This is something I’ve kept hidden or kept secret. People talked about the shame associated with some of these topics. And I think it happened very quickly where we learned that so many people struggle and yet so many people feel alone and feel like this stuff has to live in secrecy or silence. And certainly we’ve learned over the years that two out of three people who struggle with depression don’t get help for it. And then I would add that I do think it’s getting better in terms of stigma. Certainly challenges remain. But I do think more people are writing about it, talking about it, thinking about it, being open to the conversation almost 14 years later versus when we began back in 2006. Gabe Howard: One of the things that you want is for society to have a meaningful conversation surrounding mental health and mental illness. What do you think the most important thing that society can do to further those conversations? Jamie Tworkowski: I think maybe it starts with learning about mental health. With realizing that it shouldn’t be treated any differently than physical health. With realizing that stigma and shame and silence that so much of that is built on lies and bad ideas and ignorance. And I think just writing, there’s such a need not only for education and wisdom, but for compassion, just for the reality that we don’t know what people are walking through, not only strangers, but at times we don’t know what our closest people are dealing with or how they’re feeling. So I think just a combination of those things, just inviting people to become educated and then to really wrestle with what does it look like to see people and to care about people? Many of whom might be dealing with something you don’t currently understand. Gabe Howard: We’ve talked about 2006. We’ve talked about 2020. Let’s talk about 2025. Let’s talk about 2030. Where do you see your organization heading to the future? Jamie Tworkowski: We want to continue doing what we’re doing. And obviously there’s a strategic element, but I think there’s also a big part of this where we’ve sort of always treated it like a creative project, especially early on. Just not operated from the place of a five year plan or a 10 year plan. And I think so many of our best moments, best campaigns, relationships, partnerships have been organic, have been things that we didn’t put on a whiteboard or put into a plan. So I think it’s wanting to continue to bring this conversation to as many people as we can. Different communities, different settings. There are new partnership opportunities that we’re working through. And so we continue to sort of smile at the doors that open. And I think we want to continue to be creative. I think we’ll always value writing. We’ll always value language, obviously. We started with a written story. We’ll continue to value design, whether that’s on our site, on social media, t shirts and merchandise that we create. We love to move people through the combination of words and design. And then, I think, hope to just continue to give people more and more ways to get involved, whether that’s in person, whether that’s online all over the world. More and more chances for people to be vulnerable in not only telling our story, but maybe more importantly, in sharing parts of their story and trying to invest in changing and bringing positive change to the stories that they’re connected to. So, yes, I think it’s a whole mix of things. Gabe Howard: To our listeners who have want to connect with To Write Love on Her Arms, how would they tell their story or how would they get involved or how would they meet with you? Like we want to do something meaningful with your organization. What could they do? Jamie Tworkowski: It’s a whole range of things. I mean, there’s individual opportunity. We see people get creative with fundraisers and creating events, sometimes benefit events or concerts. But we try to create campaigns and moments throughout the year where people can get involved. We do an annual 5K and we actually see more people do it, what we call virtually. We see more people participate in their local community than actually in person at the race in Florida. We do an annual event that’s a night of music and poetry and speakers and resources, and we see more people watch online than come to the event in Orlando. So I would just invite people to our site to follow us on social media, where we cover a lot of ground, whether it’s speaking events or different events that we get to be a part of. So we love to interact with people face to face, but we respond to the messages and the emails that we get and we’re constantly fielding partnership ideas. And so we would just encourage people to check out the site, follow us on social media. And yeah, I just know that even though our community’s small and spread thin at times, we’re open to ideas. But I think the healthy irony of what we do is we’re not trying to be everyone’s pen pal. We’re not trying to be everyone’s best friend. We have a really small team. So we’re not pointing to ourselves as the final solution. We want to connect people back into resources in their community. We hope we can give people tools to have these conversations in the places that they live. But it doesn’t have to be all about building a relationship with certainly me or even other folks on our team. Gabe Howard: Jamie, thank you so much for starting the organization. Thank you so much for seeing a need and filling it. Thank you for everything that your organization has done in the last 14 years. And, of course, please keep it up for the future. For people who are interested in To Write Love on Her Arms, what’s your Web site? What is the best entry point for them? Jamie Tworkowski: Well, first off, thank you for those kind words. It’s an honor and a privilege to do this work. I know our whole team feels that way and I feel like I get to bring my heart to work. And I know not everyone feels that way about their job. And so I try to remain grateful. And we are certainly going to continue to have this conversation and to invite people into it. And then to answer your question. We would love to invite people to our website. It is just our acronym, which is TWLOHA.com. It’s the same on social media. So @TWLOHA, on Instagram, on Twitter, Facebook. And there’s a whole bunch of ways to get involved. And we actually have a section of our Web site dedicated to that. And I joke that it could be as small as buying a t shirt and as big as joining our team in Florida and a whole bunch of ways in between. Gabe Howard: Jamie, thank you so much for being here and please give a Psych Central welcome and a hug and a thank you to I know you said 17 employees, interns and of course, volunteers all over the country. I know that it’s all of them that makes your organization fantastic. And we, of course, appreciate them. Big props and a big hug as well. Jamie Tworkowski: I’ll do that, absolutely. Thanks for that. Gabe Howard: Oh, you’re very welcome. Listen up, everybody. After you are done checking out To Write Love on Her Arms, please, wherever you downloaded this podcast, subscribe. Give us a rating. Share us on social media. And when you share on social media, if you could, do me a solid. Use your words and tell people why they should listen. Don’t be afraid to tag them. Don’t be afraid to email them. We all have friends. When you’re at lunch or dinner or drinks or coffee with your friends, you should be talking about the Psych Central Podcast. I would consider it a personal favor. And remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, simply by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. We’ll see everyone next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to The Psych Central Podcast. Want your audience to be wowed at your next event? Feature an appearance and LIVE RECORDING of the Psych Central Podcast right from your stage! For more details, or to book an event, please email us at show@psychcentral.com. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/Show or on your favorite podcast player. Psych Central is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, Psych Central offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at PsychCentral.com. To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at gabehoward.com. Thank you for listening and please share with your friends, family, and followers. View the full article
  15. Long after most people have returned to work, even with social distancing, wearing masks, taking extreme care to wash hands rigorously and often, avoiding crowds, and limiting time in small confined spaces, there’s still the home environment to contend with. According to some experts, it’s more likely people can contract COVID-19 at home than outdoors and in some places long suspect, such as grocery stores. Without minimizing the importance of home cleanliness, excessive home cleaning for COVID-19 can trigger anxiety. These steps can help. Make cleaning a ritual, yet don’t spend hours doing it. Rituals and daily regimens are often helpful for those prone to anxiety or who find comfort using them to cope with stress. As long as the ritual doesn’t veer into the obsessive category, cleaning on a daily basis, or when it’s necessary, such as wiping down surfaces in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and other frequently used areas of the home, the action can tamp down anxious thoughts. Instead, the act of cleaning can serve as reassurance that you’re doing the right thing to help your family stay safe and healthy, that it’s effective, and it’s something you can control. This is perhaps especially important during a time when there’s still so much uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. We don’t know, for example, when there’ll be a safe and effective vaccine or when therapeutics and medicines to treat the condition will be widely available. So, being able to exert personal control over when, where, and how you clean the home is a positive reinforcement for your mental health. Wash clothing worn in high-traffic establishments outside the home upon return. Since the COVID-19 virus is highly contagious, and people exposed to someone who’s positive for it, even if they’re asymptomatic, and cough or sneeze, it’s possible to return home with the germ still active on clothing. The remedy for this is to remove the clothing and wash it immediately at home. Use the hottest water setting appropriate for the garments, and add color-safe bleach if it’s not damaging to the material to do so. This will effectively kill the germs and prevent them from lingering on the clothing and infecting others in the household through secondary transmission of the virus. Isolate any family members testing positive for COVID-19, even if they’re asymptomatic. The worrying aspect of having a family member who may be positive for COVID-19, yet doesn’t show symptoms, is undeniable. If testing is available and shows positivity for the virus, it’s important for that individual to self-isolate in an area of the house away from the rest of the family. A study from Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases found that the odds that a primary case transmitted COVID-19 in a closed environment was 18.7 times greater than an open-air environment.” Others in the family should also self-quarantine in the home for a period of 14 days as a precaution. If the positive (or symptomatic) family member shows improvement and has no fever, cough, or other serious symptoms for two weeks, the self-isolation and self-quarantine can likely be lifted. Check with your medical provider and follow the professional’s recommendations. As for the rest of the family during the quarantine period, continue thorough hand washing and other COVID-19 precautions even while remaining in place. In fact, it’s more important than ever to do so. This will help ratchet down the tendency for COVID-19 to trigger an anxiety attack or keep you up at night with a stream of anxious thoughts. A survey conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group found that 55 percent of Americans said the coronavirus pandemic has already affected their mental health, either a great deal or somewhat, whereas only 19 percent responded that it hasn’t affected their mental health at all. Interestingly, among women and those under age 50 say their mental health has already been affected, 62 and 60 percent, respectively. Use common household ingredients to clean and sanitize the home. Instead of being triggered with anxiety over the lack of cleaning and sanitizing products at home and if it’s not possible to get to the store to buy the usual cleaning and sanitizing products, or if the store is out of them entirely and you don’t want to go to multiple stores looking for them, use a handy substitute. Soap and water works well for this purpose. In fact, numerous experts on how to clean and sanitize surfaces (and hands, for that matter) recommend using soap and water and scrubbing vigorously. Ammonia and bleach or other disinfectants you may have in the home are good to use on countertops and floors, although they should never be combined. It’s also best to use them after first wiping down with hot soap and water. Then, let the disinfectant remain on the surface for 20 seconds before wiping off. Minimize news consumption about COVID-19 to lessen likelihood of triggering anxiety. While it can be hard to escape the constant news barrage about all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health experts strongly recommend limiting news consumption about the virus to lessen the likelihood the reports will trigger anxiety. This may be difficult when everyone is staying in place at home and watching TV and consuming social media or perusing the Internet for entertainment and distraction. Indeed, a survey conducted in Nepal during quarantine lockdown for COVID-19 found that prevalence rates of depression, anxiety and depression-anxiety were 34.0 percent, 31.0 percent, and 23.2 percent, respectively. Among those who lived alone, females, health professionals, and people spending more time accessing COVID-19 information were significantly more likely to have comorbid depression, anxiety, and depression-anxiety than the general population. So, while you’re busy cleaning and sanitizing the home as a precaution against COVID-19 transmission, keep entertainment light and steer clear of non-stop news reports and coverage of the pandemic. Your anxiety levels will benefit from such a prudent decision. View the full article
  16. I’ve been up in the middle of the night a lot lately. It’s given me the opportunity to work with my own anxiety and reflect on some of the things that can be most helpful at a time like this, with so many people struggling in personal and collective ways during this pandemic. I’ve been reflecting on the research about what we know about managing stress and coping with adversity. I’ve observed my own, and others’ ways of coping and what seems to be most helpful. Here are five coping strategies I would put on the top of my list. 1. Stay Connected — in real time and in your mind. Social connection and social support are foundational to our well-being. When we connect with others there is often a natural calming of the nervous system that we experience. Both feeling cared for, and caring about others, can help to release chemicals into our body which are soothing and calming. Thankfully our technology can be of help in keeping us connected during this pandemic. Ask yourself — who might you connect with today? When you are not able to connect with someone in the moment, know that even just calling up memories of caring moments in your mind, can be a helpful strategy for cultivating positive emotions and calming in the body. Try this: When I wake up feeling anxious in the middle of the night, I have found it helpful to imagine myself surrounded by the people in my life who love and care about me, and whom I love and care about. Call to mind a person you care about. Picture their face, their voice, a loving word or gesture they might offer you. Imagine being in their presence, as if you could feel their care and support right now. Let those feelings of care sink in and soothe any parts of you that might feel anxious. 2. Come back to your senses. Our five senses help to anchor us in the here and now. When we are anxious, we are often residing in the uncertain future. When we can bring ourselves back to the present moment and engage our senses directly, this can often help to calm the mind and body. For example, doing walking meditation and focusing on the sensations of the feet as they hit the ground can be — well, grounding. Pausing and listening to sounds around us can direct our minds to being here in this moment. Activities that engage the senses, for example, exercising, drawing or painting, cooking, listening to music, knitting, gardening, doing a puzzle, to name a few, can be helpful for many people during times of heightened anxiety. Even if the present moment is difficult, we can work with what is here. It is when our minds reside in the uncertain future, trying to solve problems that can’t be solved, that we experience even greater unease. Try this: Make a list of what engage your senses and brings you into the present moment. Think about things that might take more time (such as an aromatic bath) as well as things that you could do on the fly (putting your hand on your heart and taking three breaths). Use this list often when you find yourself feeling anxious. 3. Identify what is within your sphere of influence and put your energy there. Anxiety naturally mobilizes the body’s fight or flight response and increases activation of our sympathetic nervous system. This, in combination with the tendency of our mind to ruminate on things we can’t control, can leave us in a state of overwhelm or helplessness. We feel over-aroused and we have nervous energy. It can be helpful to identify where and how we can channel that energy into something active that we have some personal agency over, and that we care about. Be clear and intentional about what you can do today that you can influence, that feels nourishing or helpful for you. Try this: Identify things within your sphere of influence including: daily ways you can take care of yourself (from making your bed to going for a walk to preparing a healthy meal or listening to an inspirational podcast); how you might make a small but positive difference in someone’s life today; what you can tend to — your family, a garden, a project; what specific actions steps can you take today that might be positive for your health, your family, your house, your community or your future? 4. Shift from threat to challenge wherever possible. No question, the current circumstances we are facing are posing very real threats for so many people. But, when anxiety strikes, check in and ask yourself if there is an imminent danger right here in this very moment. For many people, the sense of threat and danger lies in the “what if” brain, not the “what is here right now” brain. Name the challenges that are actually here right now, and then make a list of resources that you have to meet these challenges. These resources could be both inner ones (e.g., courage, patience, ability to think outside the box to find creative solutions, commitment to what you care about, perseverance, self-compassion) and outer resources — the circles of supports you have within your family and friends, your community, the healthcare system, and other outside organizations and structures (e.g., workplace, religious communities, supportive agencies, mental health professionals). Try this: Think about a time in the past when you faced adversity and ask yourself what most helped you get through that? What insights did you gain about your ability to handle challenges, what strengths did you draw upon at that time, that might help you now as you face new challenges? 5. Connect to your deepest values. Identify what values are most important to you during this time. Who do you most want to be in the face of fear and uncertainty? How can you show up today in a way that might reflect those values? You don’t have to get rid of fear or anxiety, but as you turn up the volume on what you care most about, what is most important to you, this can help dial down the intensity on the anxiety. For instance, I have found that when I spend time on meaningful endeavors (such as writing this blog), my anxiety doesn’t tend to take front and center stage. Try this: In a recent interview psychologist Dr. Robert Brooks shared a question he often asks people to reflect on: what words would you hope people would use to describe you by (during this pandemic or otherwise), and what might you intentionally do or say today to help make that so? View the full article
  17.  When was the last time you simply enjoyed being in nature? Whether it’s a camping trip to the mountains, a walk in the park or just watching the squirrels from your backyard, being in nature is profoundly healing. In today’s Psych Central Podcast, our guest Richard Louv, a journalist, author and co-founder of the nonprofit Children & Nature Network, discusses the science behind nature’s healing powers. What counts as “nature?” Are pets included? What are some modern barriers to accessing nature, and how can we overcome them? Join us for the answers to these questions and more. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Richard Louv- Nature’ Podcast Episode Richard Louv is a journalist and author of ten books. Louv is co-founder and chair emeritus of the nonprofit Children & Nature Network, which supports a new nature movement through partnerships with such organizations as the National League of Cities. In 2008, he was awarded the Audubon Medal, presented by the National Audubon Society. Prior recipients have included Rachel Carson, E. O. Wilson, Sir David Attenborough and President Jimmy Carter. About The Psych Central Podcast Host Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author. To learn more about Gabe, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Richard Louv- Nature’ Episode Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Announcer: You’re listening to the Psych Central Podcast, where guest experts in the field of psychology and mental health share thought-provoking information using plain, everyday language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard. Gabe Howard: Welcome to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Podcast. Calling into the show today, we have author Richard Louv. Richard is the co-founder and chair emeritus of the nonprofit Children & Nature Network, which supports a new nature movement through partnerships with such organizations as the National League of Cities. Back in 2008, he was awarded the Audubon Medal, presented by the National Audubon Society. Richard, welcome to the show. Richard Louv: Thank you. Gabe Howard: Richard, it’s great to have you. A lot has been talked about the connection between mental health and nature, mental health and animals, and I kind of want to start off in this place. I’m a big fan of social media. Love it or hate it, it’s probably here to stay. And one of the things that I often see on social media is this meme that says the best antidepressant is a walk in nature. And I know that you don’t feel that nature replaces medical science, but you do feel that a walk in nature has real, real support and real help for people who are suffering from depression. Can you talk about that for a moment? Richard Louv: And that’s new, when I wrote Last Child in the Woods, it was published in 2005, this was ignored. The impact of the natural world on human well-being, on health, on cognitive functioning, all of that, it would have been basically ignored. And I could find maybe 60 studies. Many of them were about the growing disconnect between children and therefore adults, too, and nature and some of it. Some of those studies dealt with the benefits and some of those studies dealt with mental health and physical health. That is a drop in the bucket compared to how much money is spent researching just about everything else. And it struck me that something so large as the impact of the natural world experience on human health and well-being had been ignored. How could that be? And as I looked into it, I was working with some neuroscientists then. They were studying brain architecture development in young children. And they were looking at all kinds of things and how that affected brain architecture development. Everything from parent child attachment to bad day care to dangerous neighborhoods and all of that. And those things they were finding literally shapes the brain in early childhood. And I asked them once. Have you ever thought about how the natural world helped shape the brain in young children? Experiences? Actual contact with the natural world? And they looked at me with a blank face and they said, what’s nature? Richard Louv: And I understand that science has a difficult time defining nature. But, you know, I said to the neuroscientists, this isn’t rocket science. And it isn’t brain surgery. You come up with a hypothesis and test it. One hundred and twenty trees per acre or whatever. They still had trouble with it. So I decided that was one of the reasons why this was so understudied. Is the blind spot in science about nature. The rest of nature of which we are apart. The second reason was, where does the research money come from? What pill can you manufacture? What thing can you commercialize out of that? Now there are some things, I mean parks and outdoor hiking organizations, things like that. There are some. But for the most part, people don’t think about it. Certainly funders don’t think about this as something they can get something out of by funding. That’s changing. Today, if you go to the Children & Nature Network, which you mentioned in your introduction, we have a research library there that we’ve built. And it is for anybody in the world. It Is free. And there are now probably, it’s just tipped over 1000 studies that we have abstracts for and links to the original studies when they’re available. So it’s gone from about 60 to over a thousand in about 14 years after not existing before. Gabe Howard: I think that it’s interesting that one of the things you said, and this really plays to the pessimist in me is we don’t want to tell people to go for walks because there’s no funding for it and you can’t make money prescribing it. You know, we can’t prescribe one walk a day or, you know, hug your dog every day. That that’s not something that you can fill at the pharmacy. And this is kind of counterbalanced against the, you know, medication is important. Look at the advances that we’ve made with cancer by coming up with, you know, better treatments, etc. But I would even argue that taking somebody who is suffering from cancer and completely isolating them, you know, taking away their friends, their support systems, their animals, and even a window would put them in more of a bad way than they already are. And I think that’s what you’re saying. And you’ve talked about in your work how animal assisted therapy is becoming one of the biggest health care trends. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. But you also talk about the controversy surrounding it and then you back it up with science. Can you talk about animal assisted therapy for a moment? Because I just find it absolutely fascinating that people wouldn’t respond to this favorably. But I also understand that this is our culture. Everything is good and everything is bad, seemingly at the same time. Richard Louv: I think it’s more nuanced than that. I think that most people understand that their dog helps them. You know, most people get it at a visceral level. And in terms of organized animal assisted therapy, whether it’s dogs or equine therapy with horses or going outside and connecting with wild animals, no matter what that is. People viscerally understand that. It’s the science is coming now and the science is really interesting. Some of it is controversial, but nobody that has watched a kid with disabilities in an equine therapy or horse therapy, horse assisted therapy setting cannot be not moved. It’s very moving to watch this. One person who works in this field told me that a mother was bringing her child, who is autistic, to the animal assisted therapy sessions, which involved horses. And he would ride horses with a helmet and somebody would lead the horse. And he was, I think, about nine years old and he had not talked ever. And one day when they didn’t go when they were supposed to to the horse therapy, her son walked into the living room and said the word horse, first time she had heard him say a word. So there are moving stories like that. I talk about a woman, another woman who is on the autism spectrum, and she tells quite a moving story about not only how her service dog, whose name is Kobo, helped her, but how she has learned to help Kobo using some of the same techniques that Kobo uses to help her. So often what is occurring is a kind of mutualism is a you know, it’s not one way. I don’t want it to be seen as just what we get out of our relationship with other animals. I promote something in the book called The Reciprocity Principle, which basically holds that for every bit of healing that they give us, that animals, whether they’re domestic or wild animals, give us, we need to give back to them the same. We need to protect them as they protect us. Gabe Howard: And do you feel that reciprocity is what gives people that boost in mental health? Because you’re not just getting, you know, whether it’s love, companionship from the animal, but you are now responsible for the animals. That gives you a sense of purpose. What the science behind that? Or the, well, what are your thoughts on that? Richard Louv: Well, I think that’s a really interesting way to put it. I think you’re right. I think, again, it’s not one way. We know a lot. There’s quite a bit of science about animal assisted therapy when it involves domesticated animals where dogs and horses and even goats and other animals. There’s not much known, there’s very little research about what we gain and what we could give regarding wild animals. And I’m sitting here and looking out the window and there’s a deer path goes through my yard. And I can tell you my endorsement spike every time I see deer go by. And as I walk in this neighborhood, we just moved here about a year ago. The deer are responding to me differently. They don’t run away as they stand and watch. And during those moments, it is absolutely impossible to feel alone in the world. One of the issues I deal with in Our Wild Calling is the epidemic of human loneliness. Medical folks, as you know, have been talking about this for about two or three years. They’ve been saying that loneliness, human isolation is about to overtake obesity as a cause of early death, not just because of suicide and that affects that, but because of all the diseases that are associated with loneliness. Richard Louv: I make the case that, yes, Facebook is part of the problem. Anti-social media is part of problem, that urban design is part of the problem and all of that. But I think that that epidemic of human loneliness is rooted in an even deeper loneliness, which is species loneliness. We are desperate to not feel alone in the world. One of the studies that I find most interesting is of urban parks. And they find that, the study found that, the urban parks that have the best benefit for human psychological health happened to be the urban parks with the highest biodiversity, the highest number of wild animals and plants. Again, I don’t think that’s an accident. We are desperate not to feel alone in the world. And the irony is we are not alone in the world. There is a conversation going on all around us. I call that the intimacy that exists all around us. All we have to do is pay attention. Gabe Howard: I’m 43 years old, and when I was younger, there were parks and recreation centers all over the place. I could walk to one. And as somebody who suffers from bipolar disorder, I was a very depressed child. I was untreated and my family didn’t know. But I did have these parks. Now, I was an overweight child. And I don’t want to convince anybody that I went on a lot of nature walks. But I did go on some and I was aware that they were there and I did have a place to go. And, you know, this is my childhood in the 80s and now here we are and in 2020. And I don’t have a single recreation center within walking distance from my house. And I live in a neighborhood with children, which means the children in my neighborhood don’t have this. This is a trend that, of course, was created to save money. And because we decided that people didn’t want them. And also, I suppose because we wanted people to pay to join gyms or clubs or golf courses, I guess how do we pull this back? Because, again, even though I didn’t use the parks and recreation centers as much as I could of, I did use them a little bit. And now children don’t have this benefit. Many children don’t have this benefit. What say you to that? Richard Louv: Well, I talk about cities. I talk about the idea that cities can become engines of biodiversity. They don’t have to be the enemy of nature. And in fact, more and more wild animals are moving into cities, whether we like it or not. And so there’s an opportunity there. This has a lot to do with urban design, with biophilic design. And there’s a lot going on that is of notice is of, is good. There are more and more cities that are creating wildlife corridors through the city so that animals can pass through. And we can have the connection with them. There are more and more urban gardens. There are more and more native plant gardens. People are turning in their backyards into native plants, which of course is what nurtures the food chain because of insects. And then they can bring back bird migration routes. They can bring back bees. They can bring butterfly migration routes. So there’s a lot going on out there people really aren’t aware of. Now, you’re right, the trend has been against. I mean, even in schools, the trend has been toward either dropping or reducing recess in elementary school or some elementary schools are now being built with no playgrounds, let alone a natural playground. On the other hand, there’s a real trend among many schools to create natural play spaces. Gabe Howard: We’re going to step away and we’ll be right back after these messages from our sponsors. Sponsor Message: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counseling. Our counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counseling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Gabe Howard: We’re back discussing the interplay between nature and mental health with author Richard Louv. Richard Louv: You mentioned bipolar. I want to tell you, I’ll try to keep it short, a story about that. My father, my family and I tell this story in The Nature Principle. Our best times when I was growing up were in nature. They were spent fishing or in the backyard, in the garden or in the woods behind our house where I walked with my father and followed rabbit tracks and all that. That garden was particularly important. I remember following him as he would rototiller the back yard and then I would run around and I would pick up bones and other things and rocks out of the ground. He was happy there and over time we moved to a more affluent neighborhood. He got a better job. We didn’t need to garden anymore, supposedly. And he seldom went outdoors. He was a devoted fisherman. His dream was to retire early and move to Lake of the Ozarks or one of the lakes in the Ozarks. They finally did that, to Table Rock Lake in southern Missouri and got a little house and he finally got his dream. But by then, it was too late. He seldom left the kitchen table. He was probably bipolar and he was an alcoholic on top of that. Richard Louv: Which produces some of the symptoms of schizophrenia. It was not a pleasant time, from the time I was about eleven on in terms of my dad, I tell that story in The Nature Principle to confess that I have a bias. I have a bias that nature experience is connected to health, to mental health, to physical health. Because of that early experience now, I don’t cherry pick the studies that I cite and almost all of them point the same direction. But I do admit that I have a bias. He did not have a happy ending. And I wonder sometimes what would have happened. And I asked this question, what would have happened if not only psychiatry in the late 50s, early 60s, had included children in the family, included the rest of the family? They did not. And what would have happened if nature therapy had been popularized by then? Could that have helped him? I asked some eco psychologists that question. They say, of course, they can’t tell. They don’t know. But what they, what one said is that we know for certain it would have made life better for you and your mother and your brother. Gabe Howard: I really like that story and I like what you say there, because there are moments where people are happy and sometimes we don’t give those moments enough do. We don’t pay enough attention to those moments, whether it’s working in the guard and going for a walk, reading a book, making dinner, whether we find happiness in in a mundane task or not. And I know that Richard Louv: Right. Gabe Howard: Especially in America, we really look down on manual labor. As you said, he got a better job. So he didn’t need to have a garden. He didn’t need to work in a garden, even though it was something that made him happy. Do you think that there’s just a bias against gardening or working in nature where people feel that they’re too successful to do it, as you suggested in your story? Is this going on in in droves around America where people just don’t want to do it? Because after all, that’s beneath them or whatever words you want to use, because the average family does not have a garden anymore. Richard Louv: Well, I don’t think that there’s a bias specifically toward gardening. There’s not a bias specifically toward hiking or anything else that people do outdoors. What has happened is these barriers to that experience have risen. And one of them is affluence. One of them, my father, got a better job. It demanded longer hours. It imbalanced his life and ours. So I don’t think it’s really a bias against that. You’re right about manual labor, but not about those experiences that connect us to the natural world. In fact, there’s quite a resurgence in gardening. And as I mentioned, in native plants in our yards and focusing on that more, that’s part of the good news. There is a lot of good news out there, even though the trends may not look like they’re going in the right way. There’s good news in terms of urban design, biophilic design. There’s good news in terms of an awareness now that nature has something to do with our health, our mental health and our physical health, those experiences. I can tell you that did not exist very much in 2005, not among the general population. Richard Louv: There was a study done a few years ago called The Nature of Americans that reproduced research that was done about 20 years ago, and they compared how people felt about different aspects of nature. What they found was that families that people, particularly parents. That their awareness that nature experience is connected to health had skyrocketed since 2005. What has not happened is the barriers have not gone down. They’re still there. Now, there are people working very hard to reduce those barriers, particularly for kids, but for all of us. And they’re working on that all over the world. I think China and Brazil that have launched programs to connect kids to nature and therefore their whole families. You mentioned the National League of Cities. We’re working with that organization, which represents 18,000 mayors and other municipal officials to try to help cities become better places to connect families to nature. Schools. There are now nature preschools have taken off is a phenomenon. They’re sometimes called forest schools. There’s an increase of about 500 percent of those just in the last few years. So there’s a lot of good stuff happening. Gabe Howard: Richard, thank you so much for being on the show. Do you have any last words for people who want to get out in nature more? But as you mentioned, the barriers are just too much. How can they overcome them? Richard Louv: Well, one is to be careful how you define nature. It doesn’t have to be Yosemite. It can be in an urban neighborhood. You know, there was a program a few years ago that the Sierra Club had. What they do is go into urban neighborhoods. They put backpacks on kids and go for a five mile walk in their neighborhood and they would look for nature. They’d always find it. Sometimes in the cracks between the sidewalks, sometimes in the alleyways. If you change your perspective of what nature is, you’ll find it. The second thing is conservation is no longer enough. Now we have to have to create nature to maintain or bring back the kind of biodiversity we need. In the act of creating urban gardens, in the act of planting trees in cities, children and their parents reconnect to nature and they feel really a lot better about themselves, about where they live. All of that. But finally, I would say, you know, in addition to seeking out information on how to do that, because it doesn’t come naturally to the new generation of parents, or at least many of them, because many, most of them did not have much experience when they were kids in nature as I did. So, it doesn’t necessarily come that naturally. And they don’t even know where to start sometimes when they want that. Richard Louv: But it’s possible, particularly if you band together with other families. People are starting Family Nature clubs. Family Nature Club in San Diego now has about, I believe about 3,000 families as members of it. And that’s a pool of families you can dip into and find out if somebody wants to go take a hike, multiple families next Saturday. That deals with the fear of strangers. That deals with the sense that we don’t know how to do this, but other parents do. So there’s all kinds of ways to do it. But it has to be a conscious act. We put sports on the calendar. We should put nature there, too. And finally, and this is the primary lesson, I think, of Our Wild Calling, is to recognize that there is intimacy all around us. There is connection all around us. But to find that, to hear that conversation, you have to pay attention. And that’s why, you know, as we’re talking, a row of wild turkeys just walked by my house. And I pay attention to that. I think about what they’re doing. I think about what they’re feeling. Empathy is the greatest way, I think, to take us out of ourselves. Gabe Howard: Richard, I love that. Thank you so much for being here. Where can folks find you on the Internet? Richard Louv: Well, I have a Web site, RichardLouv.com. And that’s L O U V is the last name, but also the Children & Nature Network, which is ChildrenAndNature.org. And of course, Amazon, you can find me there, obviously. Gabe Howard: Thank you, Richard, for being here and thank you to our listeners for tuning in. Wherever you downloaded this podcast, please rate, rank and subscribe. We would really appreciate that. Share us on social media and use your words in the description and tell folks why you like the show and why you listen. Finally, remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, simply by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. We will see everybody next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to The Psych Central Podcast. Want your audience to be wowed at your next event? Feature an appearance and LIVE RECORDING of the Psych Central Podcast right from your stage! For more details, or to book an event, please email us at show@psychcentral.com. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/Show or on your favorite podcast player. Psych Central is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, Psych Central offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at PsychCentral.com. To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at gabehoward.com. Thank you for listening and please share with your friends, family, and followers. View the full article
  18. In my many musings, I have found a natural progression that helps us out of our darkest places. I call it Moving Through, Moving To, and, in this case, it means moving toward a little Hope. When nothing else seems to work amidst the immobilizing fear and grip of extreme anxiety or depression, this progression has helped me move gently, first out, then up. I only hope it might help you to do the same. In this gentle process, I first outline the step, then demonstrate an example in italics. Please feel free to cater it to what feels right for you. Step One: I am In my depressive worst, at the bottom of the barrel, there are times when I can’t even move. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to say anything, and I can’t explain it. I could call someone, but no. I could get out, and eat something sweet. But no. Yet if I can, I try to muster the strength to at least say how I feel, at least to myself. Because it’s not like I want to be there. So, I try to get it onto the page. I try to at least say the words of the worst, of where I’m at, what I am, and how I feel, simply. I call this the “I am” stage: I am miserable. I am awful. I am broken. I am battered. I am lost. I am afraid. I am. Just let it out. Step Two: You are Then, there are times that I find that I can only handle myself at a distance. Sometimes, it makes it easier… treating it as if it’s someone else’s life, and I’m looking at it from an outsider’s perspective. Because that is what I feel like. Like an outsider to my own life. It’s not pretty as I then go into my “you ares.” But I let it rip: You are awful. You are ugly. You are stupid. You are broken. You are afraid. You are forgotten. You’re a failure. You’re a mess. You are nothing. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not in that moment, because it really is true for me then. The bigger point is to get it out of my system. Now it’s your turn. Step Three: You will Here is where the shift takes place. I most often cannot skip from step one to here. I have to go through the outside looking in, the “you ares,” before the “you wills.” It’s like I have to accuse myself of what feels wrong before resolving. But here is where the hope lies. You will. You will get better. You will be okay. You will get through this. You may not know when, or how, or why. But you will. You will. You will wake up tomorrow. You will see the sun again. You will do great things. Talk to yourself. Write it down. Step Four: I will Eventually, at some point, when you do feel a bit better (and you will), then you move into “I will.” It might not happen right away, or it might. Or maybe step three is enough for now. But when you think you are ready, gently move into the “I’s.” I will be better. I will get better. I will do better. And I will get through this. I will feel better. I will feel good again. I will make it through. And when you can, keep going with it. I will be better. I will do great things. I will be amazing. I will make waves. I will catch dreams. I will fly. I will be awesome. Step Five: I am This is the most powerful. There may be days that you wake up and head straight to this one. We call these affirmations, of course, and it’s nothing new. But sometimes it’s just too hard to live into them at the moment. I am all about speaking things into reality, even before you think you are ready (because when you start the flow, that’s when things happen). But there are times when you are just too deep into your loss and get lost in the “impossibility,” thus affirmations feel false and dig you even deeper into that hole because you feel like a failure. This whole process is to take you out of that place and move you into this one — the affirmation zone — so that, when you do get here, you believe in it. You believe in the possibility that you actually ARE what you say you are and will come out true and strong. So with that being said, let’s go there. I am a masterful getter-outer of holes. I am strong. I am weak, but that’s okay. I am beautifully vulnerable. I am good. I succeed. I fail, but I get up. I am beautiful. I am amazing. I am getting through this. I am making waves. I am catching dreams. I am making millions. I am living the life of my dreams. I am succeeding in all that I do. I am making it through and being the best, most beautiful self that I can be. Because I AM me. Step Six: You are (a positive variation to use either after Step Five or between earlier steps) Every now and again, it is of benefit to reaffirm your affirmations with this variation. In contrast to Step Two, this version of “you are” now tells yourself how great you are whether you believe it yet or not. You can use this step as a positive affirmation between Steps Three and Four, between Steps Four and Five, or after Step Five. Whatever feels most natural to you, go with it. In contrast to Step Two’s “you ares,” this Step is about seeing and acknowledging the amazing you that you either want to become or who you already are. You are amazing. You are strong. You are through. You are limitless. You are unstoppable. View the full article
  19. I am a runner. Even with a regular running routine and being in pretty good shape, there are many times during my runs where I start to feel like I am not going to make it. I start to panic a little bit, and I can feel the flood of negative thoughts threatening to overtake me. I know then that I have reached some kind of threshold for this exercise. But I don’t just quit. I look for ways to alleviate the stress I am feeling and look for a new way to move forward. I have found that this little questionnaire always reveals a way forward not only in running, but when I feel like I am losing it in life, too. Next time you are feeling like you’ve reached a threshold, you’re panicking or feeling overwhelmed, or you simply feel like you’re about to lose it completely, try going through this list of questions and making adjustments as necessary. It may just be the thing that helps you get through to the other side. 1. Are you looking up? In other words, where is your focus? One of the hardest things I had to learn about running was to look up. My tendency was to look down, where my feet were landing, to make sure I didn’t make a misstep. Sound familiar? How often do we scrutinize our steps in life so closely, that we don’t even realize we have taken our eyes off the goal ahead of us, and now we are stuck in the rocky terrain we are in? Looking up and looking ahead literally pulls you forward toward your goal. It also creates a more open posture, which leads us to the next checkpoint. 2. Are your shoulders open? Posture is everything. In running, better posture literally opens your body up to receive more oxygen and carry your muscles efficiently through the strenuous movements. In life, posture does the same thing. It opens you up, it ensures you’re getting adequate oxygen, and it expands our hearts to new possibilities. There is a high level of correspondence between our emotions and our body language. It is really difficult to send your body joyful signals if you are always curled into a ball. Yet, proper posture is uncomfortable for most of us, we naturally revert to a more comfortable slump. So we have to be constantly reminded to make the conscious effort to stretch and open ourselves up. 3. Are you expelling what isn’t needed? In any aerobic exercise, expelling hydrogen and carbon dioxide are just as important as your oxygen intake. Build up of these elements causes improper function and pain. Likewise, the tensions we hold in our bodies can slow us down and obstruct our view. In everyday life, these might be regrets, grief, or shame that you have been holding onto. It might be toxic influences in your life, people or media that is simply counterproductive to your goals. It might even be something that hasn’t happened yet, little forecasts of anxiety that cause you to feel unnecessary dread or stress. Whatever it is, take a big, deep breath and let it go. 4. Are you using all your muscles? Or in the case of everyday life, are you using all your resources? Running form is a whole science that when done correctly, coordinates all the muscles of the body for maximum achievement. Sometimes, I forget to lengthen my stride or tighten my core, but when I check in with this question, I am afforded a major boost in speed or strength, because I have called on a new resource for my body to use while running. It is so easy for use to forget what resources we have at hand. We are creatures of habit and become accustomed to using the same solutions over and over in problem solving. But often, there is a new, creative solution right in front of us, if we can take a step back, look at what we have, and give ourselves a true picture of all the resources available to us. 5. Do you need to slow down? Lastly, you may be doing all of these things and more, but still struggling. Sometimes, all you can do to alleviate the stress is slow your pace. Or in some cases, maybe this is a signal you have overcommitted and as a result, you are buckling under the pressure. If so, slowing down might look like scaling back. What things can you reprioritize so that you don’t feel so stretched thin? Slowing down or scaling back doesn’t mean you have to stop completely, it doesn’t mean you quit. But reprioritizing or taking some time to recover is always an option and when done strategically, it can be just the change in gears you needed to find a new way to move forward. View the full article
  20. Someone gave it a name: Quarantine Fatigue. It’s not a diagnosis, but it surely does label what many people are feeling now that we’re 7 – 8 weeks in with stay at home guidelines/orders. People are by nature social creatures. We desire connection. We thrive on relationships. We need to be with other humans to be human. There are even studies that show that people would rather experience physical pain than loneliness. Quarantine Fatigue speaks to our difficulty maintaining the limits on up front and personal, 3-dimensional contact with our fellow human beings. The result for many people is irritability, restlessness, general crankiness, and even physical exhaustion. It mimics depression in many ways and could be misunderstood as the onset of a mental health disorder, rather than a normal response to an abnormal situation. Some people are responding to their anxieties with anger and defiance. They want the stay at home orders lifted! They swarm beaches and parks. They refuse to wear a mask. They claim that their protests are about the restraints on individual freedom, putting a political cover on a decidedly non-political issue. The issue, really, is not about rights. The issue is the extent to which we believe we are our “brother’s (and sister’s, neighbor’s, family’s, and friends’) keeper.” According to Alfred Adler, early 20th psychologist who was both a colleague and an irritant to Freud, the measure of mental health is Gemeinschaftsgefühl. Roughly translated, it means “social interest” or feeling of community with others. By his measure, those who refuse to wear masks, who insist on congregating, who refuse to take steps to keep others safe, are at risk for mental illness. Those who are most concerned about others and who actively work to make their community healthy and happy are the most mentally healthy. The COVID-19 epidemic is challenging our Gemeinschaftsgefühl. Staying focused on the greater good instead of just relieving our own discomfort is hard, really hard. Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo speaks eloquently of this regularly in his daily updates. Being home is not about you as an individual. It’s about protecting everyone else. That means being inconvenienced. It means changing our daily routines. It means wearing masks and keeping our distance. It means finding other ways to stay connected with our community besides being in each other’s physical company. Quarantine fatigue is real. But the solution isn’t defiance of social distancing. Participating in angry demonstrations demanding the right to infect others may give those who do it the high of an adrenaline boost, but it ultimately is self-destructive. Contributing to the spread of the disease and the deaths of others will only result in regret and survival guilt or hollow self-justification. Self-esteem based on negativity and fear leads to depression and more anxiety. In contrast, doing things that help keep everyone safe broadens and builds positive self-esteem. How to Manage Quarantine Fatigue There is no cure as yet for COVID-19. But there is a “cure” for Quarantine Fatigue. What Alfred Adler called Gemeinschaftsgefühl is a personal commitment to Social Responsibility. Being socially responsible means staying informed and connected in ways that contribute to the greater good. Affirm or shift your thinking from “Me” to “We.” Survival as a people, as a community, and as a country requires giving up the idea that freedom is doing what we want when we want. Survival calls for Gemeinschaftsgefühl: For us to be our best selves, looking after the other guy as well as ourselves. Those who thrive, not just survive; those who live longer and feel more fulfilled, do exactly that. Resist the pull of conspiracy theories: Those who make mockumentaries and manipulate our fears and restlessness by posting conspiracy theories on social media thrive on creating a “us vs. them” mentality. They pray on our financial fears and anxieties about the future. Often, they are invested in pursuing a political or social agenda, regardless of how many people will die because of it. Recognize them for what they are and refuse to fall for their manipulations. Stay informed: Listen to the real experts who have been quietly working on infectious disease control for years. Science and facts help us make the decisions needed to ensure that fewer people will suffer and die. Stay home: If your circumstances allow you to stay home, get comfortable with being uncomfortable (maybe very uncomfortable) until the numbers are more promising. There are other articles here at Psych Central and on other sites that offer ideas for being socially connected while maintaining physical distance. Practice safety: Wearing a mask or gloves may be uncomfortable. Keeping your distance when talking to others may be awkward. Washing your hands 20 times a day may be inconvenient. But all these measures are for everyone’s good. If you can’t do them for yourself, do them for the people you love. If everyone obeys these simple strategies, the disease has less opportunity to spread. Don’t isolate. Communicate: Time on your hands means you aren’t using enough of your time to be in community with others. Make at least one call to a friend or loved one a day. Send letters and emails. Participate in online social groups like book clubs or interest groups. You will benefit and so will the people you talk to. Help those who are financially suffering the most: Donate what you can to service organizations like food banks and survival centers. Send people whose services you used to use regularly a thank you check. Tip food delivery people generously. If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot. Volunteer: Multiple studies show that people who do good for others are happier and live longer. Use your creativity and imagination to find ways to be of use during this difficult time. Get busy. Make masks for others. Join a call circle for elderly and disabled people who need to know someone cares. Volunteer to tutor or read to kids you know so their parents can get a break. Join online committees to further the agenda of organizations that are trying to preserve and expand the social safety net. The crisis created by COVID-19 brings out the best and the worst in people. The antidote to despair and the way to stay mentally healthy and enhance self-esteem is to tap into the best in ourselves. Alfred Adler was right. Ultimately, it is by each of us acting for the good of the many in whatever ways we can that will get us through. View the full article
  21. Phobiasupportforum

    Managing Quarantine Fatigue 

    Someone gave it a name: Quarantine Fatigue. It’s not a diagnosis, but it surely does label what many people are feeling now that we’re 7 – 8 weeks in with stay at home guidelines/orders. People are by nature social creatures. We desire connection. We thrive on relationships. We need to be with other humans to be human. There are even studies that show that people would rather experience physical pain than loneliness. Quarantine Fatigue speaks to our difficulty maintaining the limits on up front and personal, 3-dimensional contact with our fellow human beings. The result for many people is irritability, restlessness, general crankiness, and even physical exhaustion. It mimics depression in many ways and could be misunderstood as the onset of a mental health disorder, rather than a normal response to an abnormal situation. Some people are responding to their anxieties with anger and defiance. They want the stay at home orders lifted! They swarm beaches and parks. They refuse to wear a mask. They claim that their protests are about the restraints on individual freedom, putting a political cover on a decidedly non-political issue. The issue, really, is not about rights. The issue is the extent to which we believe we are our “brother’s (and sister’s, neighbor’s, family’s, and friends’) keeper.” According to Alfred Adler, early 20th psychologist who was both a colleague and an irritant to Freud, the measure of mental health is Gemeinschaftsgefühl. Roughly translated, it means “social interest” or feeling of community with others. By his measure, those who refuse to wear masks, who insist on congregating, who refuse to take steps to keep others safe, are at risk for mental illness. Those who are most concerned about others and who actively work to make their community healthy and happy are the most mentally healthy. The COVID-19 epidemic is challenging our Gemeinschaftsgefühl. Staying focused on the greater good instead of just relieving our own discomfort is hard, really hard. Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo speaks eloquently of this regularly in his daily updates. Being home is not about you as an individual. It’s about protecting everyone else. That means being inconvenienced. It means changing our daily routines. It means wearing masks and keeping our distance. It means finding other ways to stay connected with our community besides being in each other’s physical company. Quarantine fatigue is real. But the solution isn’t defiance of social distancing. Participating in angry demonstrations demanding the right to infect others may give those who do it the high of an adrenaline boost, but it ultimately is self-destructive. Contributing to the spread of the disease and the deaths of others will only result in regret and survival guilt or hollow self-justification. Self-esteem based on negativity and fear leads to depression and more anxiety. In contrast, doing things that help keep everyone safe broadens and builds positive self-esteem. How to Manage Quarantine Fatigue There is no cure as yet for COVID-19. But there is a “cure” for Quarantine Fatigue. What Alfred Adler called Gemeinschaftsgefühl is a personal commitment to Social Responsibility. Being socially responsible means staying informed and connected in ways that contribute to the greater good. Affirm or shift your thinking from “Me” to “We.” Survival as a people, as a community, and as a country requires giving up the idea that freedom is doing what we want when we want. Survival calls for Gemeinschaftsgefühl: For us to be our best selves, looking after the other guy as well as ourselves. Those who thrive, not just survive; those who live longer and feel more fulfilled, do exactly that. Resist the pull of conspiracy theories: Those who make mockumentaries and manipulate our fears and restlessness by posting conspiracy theories on social media thrive on creating a “us vs. them” mentality. They pray on our financial fears and anxieties about the future. Often, they are invested in pursuing a political or social agenda, regardless of how many people will die because of it. Recognize them for what they are and refuse to fall for their manipulations. Stay informed: Listen to the real experts who have been quietly working on infectious disease control for years. Science and facts help us make the decisions needed to ensure that fewer people will suffer and die. Stay home: If your circumstances allow you to stay home, get comfortable with being uncomfortable (maybe very uncomfortable) until the numbers are more promising. There are other articles here at Psych Central and on other sites that offer ideas for being socially connected while maintaining physical distance. Practice safety: Wearing a mask or gloves may be uncomfortable. Keeping your distance when talking to others may be awkward. Washing your hands 20 times a day may be inconvenient. But all these measures are for everyone’s good. If you can’t do them for yourself, do them for the people you love. If everyone obeys these simple strategies, the disease has less opportunity to spread. Don’t isolate. Communicate: Time on your hands means you aren’t using enough of your time to be in community with others. Make at least one call to a friend or loved one a day. Send letters and emails. Participate in online social groups like book clubs or interest groups. You will benefit and so will the people you talk to. Help those who are financially suffering the most: Donate what you can to service organizations like food banks and survival centers. Send people whose services you used to use regularly a thank you check. Tip food delivery people generously. If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot. Volunteer: Multiple studies show that people who do good for others are happier and live longer. Use your creativity and imagination to find ways to be of use during this difficult time. Get busy. Make masks for others. Join a call circle for elderly and disabled people who need to know someone cares. Volunteer to tutor or read to kids you know so their parents can get a break. Join online committees to further the agenda of organizations that are trying to preserve and expand the social safety net. The crisis created by COVID-19 brings out the best and the worst in people. The antidote to despair and the way to stay mentally healthy and enhance self-esteem is to tap into the best in ourselves. Alfred Adler was right. Ultimately, it is by each of us acting for the good of the many in whatever ways we can that will get us through. View the full article
  22. What does physical pain have to do with depression, and vice versa? On today’s Psych Central Podcast, our guest, Dr. Jack Stern, a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in spinal surgery, explains the psychology of pain and how the two are inextricably linked. Dr. Stern describes how pain can lead to depression and how depression can intensify physical pain. We also find out why opioids don’t work for chronic pain, and how past pain affects current pain. Join us for an in-depth discussion on physical pain and mental health. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Dr. Jack Stern- Chronic Pain’ Podcast Episode Jack Stern, M.D., Ph.D., is the author of Ending Back Pain: 5 Powerful Steps to Diagnose, Understand, and Treat Your Ailing Back. He is a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in spinal surgery, and cofounder of Spine Options, one of America’s first facilities committed to nonsurgical care of back and neck pain. Dr. Stern is on the clinical faculty at Weill Cornell Medical College and has published numerous peer- and non peer– reviewed medical articles. He lives and practices in White Plains, New York. For more information, please visit https://drjackstern.com/ About The Psych Central Podcast Host Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author. To learn more about Gabe, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Dr. Jack Stern- Chronic Pain’ Episode Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Announcer: You’re listening to the Psych Central Podcast, where guest experts in the field of psychology and mental health share thought-provoking information using plain, everyday language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard. Gabe Howard: Welcome to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Podcast. Calling into the show today, we have Jack Stern, MD, PhD, who is the author of Ending Back Pain: Five Powerful Steps to Diagnose, Understand and Treat Your Ailing Back. He is a board certified neurosurgeon specializing in spinal surgery and co-founder of Spine Options, one of America’s first facilities committing to non-surgical care of back and neck pain. Dr. Stern, welcome to the show. Dr. Jack Stern: Thank you. Gabe Howard: Well, I’m really glad to have you, and I’m really excited. But before we get started, our longtime listeners are thinking, wait, you know, back pain, an expert in spinal surgery, spine options, neck. What does this have to do with mental health? Dr. Stern, what does this have to do with mental health? Dr. Jack Stern: Probably a very appropriate question. All of us have been in pain at some point or another, stub your toe, hurt your back. Break a leg. And you know that it’s not just the pain that bothers you, but a variety of other emotions play a role, upset, sadness, depression. It runs the gamut. I get depressed when I have a cold and I can’t work. I just get so upset with myself that I got things to do and I can’t do them. And that’s just from having a cold. Could you imagine if I had something really the matter with me? Thank God. How I would feel. And that’s what I experience in my patients who come to me with rather significant issues related to their spine. And because without dealing with the emotional aspect, the psychological aspects of pain, you really cannot treat pain. Gabe Howard: Dr. Stern, it sounds like you really think that mental health and physical health shouldn’t be separate. I’ve often said I don’t understand. Whose bright idea it was to decide that these were two separate things, since it’s all one person. Is that how you feel? Am I. Am I putting words in your mouth or have I nailed it? Dr. Jack Stern: I think that’s absolutely right. Actually, I think that the concept of separating the two. I think that concept is really going away. I think most physicians and I mean probably even your internist. At least my internist, who is not a youngster, always asks me, well, Jack, how are things going? And he doesn’t mean, am I still on the treadmill and do I have intestinal problems? He’s asking me, how are things going? Emotionally. Are you feeling well emotionally? Are you sleeping well? How is your relationship with your children and with your job? And what kind of feelings does that bring up for you? So I think anyone who separates the physical and the emotional I think has missed the boat. And it’s clear, as someone who’s taught in medical schools for 30 years that we no longer make that distinction. Thank goodness. So I think that’s an old concept. And I feel that the two are intimately connected and can’t be separated, at least not easily. Gabe Howard: That is wonderful news. Let’s move on to your book and your area of expertise. And my first question is, what is the anatomy of pain? Can you talk about that a little bit? I was trying to read about it and learn about it. And I have to admit, it was it was well over my head. But it was also fascinating because all of us have been in pain at some point. Like you said, whether it’s stubbing AHTO or, of course, something as serious as a spinal injury. Dr. Jack Stern: So there are actually without and I don’t want to get too technical. There are actually two ways that the periphery. That means your body tells your brain that you’re having pain. And there are actually two separate pathways. If you think of the spinal cord as a big cable that connects to the central relay station, which is your brain, they’re actually separate cables for two types of pain. And once I describe it, you’ll probably recognize it. The first type of pain is what we call acute pain. That’s the pain where someone breaks their leg or stubs their toe. Where you go, oh, oh, wow. You really feel acute pain. But there’s also a separate pathway, a separate group of fibers that go up to a relay station. Your brain that are actually there in terms of evolution are actually there before the sharp pain. And those fibers, that pathway sends messages of what we call deep, gnawing pain. It’s like, oh, I got something in my belly. Just feels, you know, it’s, it’s just uncomfortable. It’s or my back just, it’s not killing me. It’s not like I can’t walk, but it hurts all the time. It’s that deep gnawing pain. So those two pathways exist in the body that has a lot of importance, both psychologically and physically, because the two pathways have a different what we call neurotransmitters, and those are the chemicals that send the messages to the brain. Dr. Jack Stern: So, for example, if someone has that deep gnawing pain and you give them an opiate, they probably will not respond because those pathways don’t recognize opiates, whereas the pathways that transmit messages of acute pain do have what we call opiate receptors and they are effective. So if you break a leg and the doctor gives you one of the narcotic analgesics, it will be effective. But usually not if you have chronic low back pain. And fortunately, part of the and I’ll just digress here a minute. Part of the opiate epidemic is because opiates have been giving for conditions that deal with chronic pain, not the acute pain that responds. So the anatomical pathways are complex. But the important point here is that there are two separate pathways, one for acute pain and one for chronic pain. And certainly the greatest psychological issues arise when patients are in chronic pain. Someone who comes into my office and says I’ve had back pain for six weeks, eight weeks a year, and it doesn’t get any better. And those are the folks that really suffer psychologically. Gabe Howard: It sounds like what you’re describing should work the same for everybody, but we all know that it doesn’t work the same for everybody. And part of that is, is our psychological response. I think of me and my brother when my brother gets hurt, he’s like supercharges. He’s like, yeah. Feel the burn. When I get hurt, I’m in a corner, almost traumatized. And I’m not really exaggerating. I just have a very low pain tolerance. What is the psychological response to pain on the human body and why does it differ from person to person? Dr. Jack Stern: I think that to answer that, we could break it up into two parts. One, there are real reasons, intrinsic or innate to your anatomy, where you have more receptors that sense pain and send more pain messages to your brain, and therefore your brother will feel the pain less and you will feel the pain more because you have more receptors. And we see that all the time. You hurt your toe, stub your finger and the other person stubs theirs and they’ll feel it because you have more receptors than they do. But from a psychological point of view, there’s clearly an indication that I’m wondering whether you had an experience once where you were in pain and it could have been when you were very young. And that memory is embedded in your brain. And that memory of that pain, even when we were very young, now raises its awareness and subconsciously your body says, oh, I had that sense of pain so long ago. I don’t want to endure that pain again. I don’t want to experience that pain again. So subconsciously, reliving that experience is something that I think that we all do. And how that experience, previous experience impacted what we’re doing now reflects on how we’re going to relate to the pain psychologically. Does that answer your question? Gabe Howard: It does. It makes perfect sense. As much as it makes perfect sense from my standpoint, and that kind of leads me to my next question. From your standpoint, you need actual data. So you need to measure pain. But the only thing that I’ve ever seen that measures pain is that, you know, smiley face all the way to a sad face chart that nurses have handed me. And that seems rather ridiculous because as you pointed out, pain is different for everybody. Pain is very personal and there’s a psychological point to pain. I guess my actual question then is, can pain actually be measured? Dr. Jack Stern: It can be measured, but it’s much too difficult to measure it on a regular basis. So what we do in the hospital is use this device of the smiley face to the frowning face to give us some indication of where the patient’s pain is. But as I think you were alluding to, it doesn’t give us an indication of what the psychological parameters are that are involved in that patient’s pain. I’ll give you an example. A woman can have a very difficult delivery and it could be painful. And this has been shown. This is not me guessing. And then they, maybe a few hours later, and because she had this very healthy baby, they almost always have a smiley face. And the idea that they were in pain during the labor seems to be suppressed. So what I’m saying is that there’s a real complexity to how you experience pain. And some of it has to do with your previous experience with pain. Gabe Howard: It’s interesting that you say that some of it has to do with your previous experience of pain, because it sounds to me like if you have something really traumatic, let’s go with the broken leg. So I break my leg. Now I’m all 100 percent fine. It’s now a couple of years later and something lesser happens. Dr. Jack Stern: Yeah. Gabe Howard: You bang into a table and of course, that hurts. You know, banging your shin into a table is a painful thing. Are you saying that because of the pain that I experienced with the broken leg, that that’s going to psychologically influence the pain I experience in the lesser banging my shin? Dr. Jack Stern: Invariably. Invariably, because there’s gonna be a fear factor, there’s gonna be an avoidance factor. There’s gonna be a memory of the previous pain. There’s gonna be a wish that this second injury isn’t severe. All those things come into play. I’d also point out that where you are psychologically, when you have either the first or especially the second injury in this case will affect your reaction to the pain. It’s clear that individuals who are depressed will experience the pain or relate that the pain is more severe than someone who is not depressed. And that goes across pretty much across the board. And you’ve seen you’ve probably met someone who’s depressed and the slightest thing bothers them. And they say, oh, that hurts. Oh, that. Oh, my. Oh, there’s this hurts, oh, that hurts. It’s because depression really magnifies. And that’s a great example of how the psychological affects the physical. For example, there was a really good study that showed that a significant number of men and women who have chronic pain, that is pain that lasts longer than it normally should for the same type of accident. A significant percentage of those individuals at some point in their lives were abused physically or emotionally abused. And the pain then evokes that previous abuse. We also know that pain frequently provides the individual with secondary gain. Sweetheart, my back hurts, so could you take out the garbage? Whereas, you know, you probably take out the garbage, but the individual is using it for secondary gain, for not doing what what’s been asked of them. And I see that all the time when it comes to intimacy, where couples one member does you know, I really can’t participate in any intimate activity because my back hurts. So it has tremendous, tremendous psychological overlay in any type of pain we talk about, particularly if the pain lasts for any length of time. Gabe Howard: Stick around. We’ll be right back after these messages from our sponsors. Sponsor Message: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counseling. Our counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counseling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Gabe Howard: We’re back discussing the psychological effects of pain with Dr. Jack Stern. One of the things that this is kind of reminding me of is I suffer from anxiety disorder and I’ve had panic attacks and panic attacks are they’re awful. And anyone who’s suffered from one can agree with it. But one of the things that I noticed is my fear of having another panic attack was very limiting to me. There were places that I wouldn’t go, things that I wouldn’t do. And I had to work all that in therapy. It sounds like pain sort of follows the same kind of thing. Right. I’m so afraid of it hurting or being hurt that I’m skipping out on things. In your example, you said, you know, intimate activity with your partner because you’re afraid that it might hurt your back. Is that analogous? Dr. Jack Stern: I think so, I think. Absolutely. I mean, you’re not having a panic attack, but you’re concerned that you may have a panic attack. So there’s an aversion reaction that may or may not be real and it may not be real at all because you may be able to do that whatever it is, without getting a panic attack. So I may be a patient who has low back pain, and I don’t want to maybe intelligently don’t want to live that, even though I probably could, because I may injure myself and recreate my back pain. But as I said, there’s some folks who use that psychologically. They probably could lift it but don’t want to because they just want to be nice that day. So once again, the variability is significant. Gabe Howard: Staying with a panic attack analogy, the way that I got over it is by going to therapy. I spoke with my therapist. I shared my fears about having a panic attack. We worked on coping skills. We talked about why I was afraid of it. Is that the same treatment for folks who concerned about re-injury or pain, who are avoiding pleasurable activities in life because they’re afraid of re-injury or experiencing pain? Dr. Jack Stern: I think that is a near perfect analogy. Yes. And, of course, I’m not I’m not a therapist. So for me, when I see a patient who has that fear of pain, fear of surgery, first of all, I won’t operate on someone like that. And number two, I will almost always ask the individual to get therapy and refer them to a therapist who specializes. And we have several such in this community who specialize in pain issues. And they will use a variety of techniques to help the individual deal with the pain. And as in your case, it sounds like a find out what the original pain episode was or panic episode was so they can deal with that initial episode and then try to prevent it from stymieing their activities again. So, yes, I think your analogy is a very good one. Gabe Howard: Dr. Stern, I really appreciate you connecting mental health and physical health, and I’m very glad to hear that things are changing in the way that medicine is practiced. Because I’m only 43 years old. In the grand scheme, I’m not that old. But I remember in the 80s being afraid of surgery and just being told, you know, buck up, it’s not going to be so bad. Don’t you trust the doctors? It’s going to be okay. And then after the surgery, even though, you know, it was scary, it was just scary. People were like, well, the worst is over. I would always hear that phrase, well, the worst is over. This is the worst it’s going to be. You’ll be fine. It wasn’t until I had a mental health problem and I started treating both that I realized that there’s just so much interplay between our emotions about, in this case, pain and the actual pain and treating. Both is our fastest way to wellness. So, kudos, Dr. Jack Stern: Yeah, Gabe Howard: I love Dr. Jack Stern: Yeah. Gabe Howard: What you’re talking about here. Dr. Jack Stern: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know how you can separate it out, and once again, I relate to my own experiences about the whole world seems dark to me if one of my kids isn’t doing well. And everything, every negative aspect of my life suddenly seems to be amplified. And that’s both physical and mental. There’s also a phenomenon that I think is overlooked many times, and that is individuals who have pain, particularly chronic pain. Let me say two things. One, they for whatever reason, whether it’s actually physical or emotional, can function at the level that they could function before the onset of the pain. And I believe that many such individuals and I think this is also part of regular aging, we mourn for lost body parts. So we’re still alive, but we realize that we are not who we were because part of us and I don’t mean to be too dramatic here, but part of us has died. We can’t do that anymore. And we mourn the fact that we can’t do that. And I think that has significant psychological overlay, depression, maybe anger, et cetera. And I see that all the time in individuals. And I see it in myself in terms of I just came from the gym and I realized every time I go to the gym that I can’t do things that I did 10 and 20 years ago. And it really upsets me. And I’m a little depressed about it. And I see these young folks and I wish I were could do that again. But so that’s one. And that’s the loss of body parts. Dr. Jack Stern: Number two, the big elephant in the room with patients or individuals who have chronic pain is the psychological effect it has on everyone else in their lives, how it affects their spouses, how it affects their children. Oh, Daddy, can’t you play with me? No, my back hurts. You know, my daddy never plays ball with me because his back always hurts. Everybody else’s daddy was always out there playing with them. So imagine the impact that that has on the child, not even on the individual who had the back pain. So this can be in a familial sense and a family could have tremendous psychological impact, senses of rejection, senses of less worthiness, a sense of anger that my dad was never there for me when he when everybody else’s dad was there. So these are the things we don’t talk about. These are the things that get swept under the rug until someone decides, you know, I’m going to have to deal with my pain. And what the impact of my pain had psychologically on those around me and frequently how the others, spouses, children, fellow employees, but mostly family members eventually go into therapy and say, why am I so upset with my father? I understand why he was never there for me. He was always complaining of back pain or it’s the same as if my dad wasn’t there because he was always working. But this is a cloud that hangs over families when there’s an individual who has back pain. It’s what I call the psychological unspoken of psychological cloud of back pain. Gabe Howard: And Dr. Stern, you have a whole chapter in your book dedicated to the psychology of pain and especially for our listeners. That’s very important to understand. And the book is called Ending Back Pain: Five Powerful Steps to Diagnose, Understand, and Treat Your Ailing Back. Where can they find it and where can they find you? Dr. Jack Stern: So the book is obviously on Amazon and most Barnes & Noble, most bookstores. But if you’re like me, you buy everything on Amazon. That’s why he became the world’s richest person. Gabe Howard: Very true. Dr. Jack Stern: My wife says, there’s another box for you from Jeff Bezos waiting at the door. So. And you can find me. Actually, my Web site is called very simply, DrJackStern.com. And I actually have a place on that Web site where people can actually consult with me if they’re having back pain. And we take their histories. We even have them send us their MRI or CAT scans. And I then communicate with them to see if I can share with them my years of experience. So that’s also a possibility. DrJackStern.com. Gabe Howard: Wonderful. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. I can’t thank you enough. Dr. Jack Stern: Thank you, it was really interesting speaking to you. Gabe Howard: Wonderful. And listen up, listeners, here’s what I need you to do. Wherever you download this podcast, please rate us however you feel is appropriate. But take the extra step. I would consider it a personal favor if you would use your words and tell people what you like about the podcast. Obviously, subscribe to our show, share us on social media. Email a friend. Hey, it’s a good excuse to talk to your mom. And remember, we have a private Facebook group at PsychCentral.com/FBShow. And as always, support our sponsor. You can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, simply by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. And we will see everybody next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to The Psych Central Podcast. Want your audience to be wowed at your next event? Feature an appearance and LIVE RECORDING of the Psych Central Podcast right from your stage! For more details, or to book an event, please email us at show@psychcentral.com. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/Show or on your favorite podcast player. Psych Central is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, Psych Central offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at PsychCentral.com. To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at gabehoward.com. Thank you for listening and please share with your friends, family, and followers. View the full article
  23. With the novel coronavirus outbreak of 2020 raging across the world with little end in sight, people’s mental health is starting to become seriously impacted. There’s no easy way to say this — people are struggling right now. Stay-at-home orders, while invaluable and helping from a public health perspective, are taking their toll on people’s emotional state. And if you were already vulnerable due to a mental illness diagnosis or concern you were grappling with, the outbreak of COVID-19 has only made things worse. The problem is that most public health experts are spending time talking about the physical components of the coronavirus — the symptoms, testing, how contagious it is, possible treatments, and vaccines. Very few doctors and policy makers are talking about the equally important toll the virus is taking on people’s mental health. For many people, this toll has overwhelmed their ability to cope and get through the day intact. Crisis Helpline & Chat Services Overwhelmed You don’t have to look far to see how overwhelming it’s become. And it’s only going to get worse. According to ABC News, “Last month the ‘Disaster Distress Helpline’ at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) saw an 891% increase in call volume compared with March 2019, according to a spokesman for the agency, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.” Another valuable service, the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741 to start a chat with a trained volunteer), has seen an eye-opening 40% increase in texter volume due to the mental health effects of COVID-19 and states’ stay-at-home orders. They also report that the types of issues have shifted: they’re seeing a 48% increase in sexual abuse conversations and a 74% increase in domestic violence conversations. It appears that people’s patience is on edge and wearing thin. People are lonely and tired of sitting at home. And instead of taking healthy steps to help cope with their feelings, they’re turning to unhealthy coping methods — arguing, abuse, and violence. Increasing Resources in Times of COVID-19 Luckily, organizations and the government aren’t standing by idly waiting for this crisis to turn into something even worse. According to ABC News: Trump signed the $2 trillion emergency relief package known as the “CARES Act,” which set aside $425 million for SAMHSA “to address mental health and substance use disorders as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.” Another $100 million is marked to supplement the agency’s federal grant programs, according to Health and Human Services. The bill also included $250 million for “Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics” to increase access to mental health care services, and another $50 million for suicide prevention efforts, according to HHS. All of this money will help, but I’m afraid it still won’t be enough to avert the impending crisis. People are losing their jobs or have been laid off indefinitely. People are losing their homes and apartments, because they can’t pay the rent. People are losing their loved ones and can’t say goodbye, due to the quarantine restrictions of people with COVID-19. And people are losing their relationships over all of this stress piling on, day after day, with no end in sight. On a brighter note, the Crisis Text Line is also stepping up, committing to cover 32% of the world with its service by the end of 2022 — 2 1/2 years ahead of schedule. They offer an amazing service, and one that you should check out if you feel in crisis or immediate need of someone to talk to right now. Now’s a good time to reach out. If you’re in need, get help. Don’t assume your feelings will just “go away” on their own, or lessen over time. The opposite may be true, given how much we still need to know about the virus. If you know someone in your life that has become withdrawn or doesn’t seem to connect with you much any more, reach out to them. Check in on them to make sure they’re doing okay, by text, video, or even the phone. Your caring may make all the difference in the world to people who are struggling the most right now. Need help right now? Call the Disaster Distress Line at 800-985-5990 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by typing HOME to 741741 on your smartphone. Learn more: Calls to US helpline jump 891%, as White House is warned of mental health crisis View the full article
  24. Hello, I am new to the forum, I have found it when looking for help about my phobias... I hope being with people that share my feelings will help. Lovely to meet you all Benny
  25. Phobiasupportforum

    Understanding Maternal Depression

    The role of motherhood is complex and profound. Psychology and development experts agree — the role of the mother is critical to child development, for better or worse. This role is also packed full of societal expectations and emotional milestones for an individual to navigate. From the moment the pregnancy test confirms impending birth, an individual begins to conjure expectations they have of their own for this experience as well as what significant others, family members, friends, and society will hold for this new mother. While becoming a mother can be one of the most joyful and fulfilling passages of a woman’s life, it can also sometimes be rife with challenge and negative emotions, too. Maternal depression is a condition that is possible throughout all stages of becoming a mother, from pregnancy to postpartum. The symptoms of maternal depression at any stage are very similar to those of depression in any other adult. However, maternal depression comes with the added complexity of being deeply intertwined with another fetal or infant life that is totally dependent on the mental, emotional, and physical health of the mother. Additionally, maternal depression may be circumstantial and caused by the unique hormones and/or experience that are inherent to child bearing. Many women face an unfortunate stigma that lumps together the symptoms of maternal depression with general discontent or discomfort that pregnancy or childbirth causes, but it is important to distinguish that while some of the symptoms may overlap superficially, maternal depression is a diagnosable and serious condition that should not be dismissed or ignored. There are some identifiable risk factors that increase the possibility of a new mother developing maternal depression, such as: Pre-existing disposition to depression or anxiety Lack of familial support or adequate prenatal and postnatal care Substance abuse Poor family or partner relationship Stressful life circumstances Maternal age less than twenty-four years old Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy Low socioeconomic status Maternal depression, particularly if left untreated, has a significant impact on not only the mother, but the child’s or children’s development, and other close relationships such as the mother’s family members or partner. It can add stress to an already stressful situation and it can cause a breakdown in communication at a time when communicating effectively between partners and caregivers is of utmost importance. According to the New York State Department of Health, “A thorough review of this research by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine finds that maternal depression endangers young children’s cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioral development, as well as their learning, and physical and mental health over the long term.” Therefore we can easily see the importance of supporting mothers who may struggle with this condition at every point through their maternal journey and beyond, if necessary. Post-partum depression is usually experienced within the first two to three months after giving birth, though onset of symptoms may begin immediately following delivery. This condition is different from what we commonly call the “Baby Blues,” which is a form of short term maternal depression identified by mood swings, excessive fatigue, sadness, and overwhelm during the first two weeks following delivery. Post-partum depression is more serious form of maternal depression, persisting long after the initial two weeks following birth. The most severe of these symptoms include extreme paranoia, anxiety manifested as bizarre thoughts and fears, including obsessive thought of harm to the baby, as well as thoughts of death or suicide. Post-partum psychosis is a severe mental disorder. It may begin immediately following birth or develop slowly, over time, as post-partum depression is left untreated. Individuals with a history of bipolar disorder, other mood disorders, or with a family history of post-partum depression are significantly at a higher risk for developing this disorder. The greatest risks associated with this disorder are delusions and thoughts of harm focused toward the infant child. Post-partum psychosis may develop anytime within the first year of giving birth. It may be difficult for loved ones to understand such a joyful time of welcoming a new baby simultaneously presenting challenges with these types of symptoms experienced by the mother, but if this is the case, it must not be ignored. Mothers experiencing these thoughts or feelings should seek immediate support from family members as well as professional help when necessary. It is likely a new mother who is experiencing any of these symptoms may also feel guilt or shame associated with her symptoms. This is where family members and partners can help the most by being vigilant, checking in with the new mother often, and offering support when needed. Through proper support systems and sometimes additional treatment such as medication or therapy, mothers are able to reclaim their maternal experience and bonding with their children, avoiding long term damage and setbacks for the whole family. Even mothers without a strong partner or family support can seek professional help by speaking with their OBGYN or primary care doctor as well as looking for support groups in their communities for new mothers through their local hospitals. View the full article
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