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  1. Last week
  2. To Dino We hope you have a wonderful day, We hope you have loads of cards and prezzies. All Our Love Dawn & Paul. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  3. According the famous mythologist Joseph Campbell, the hero’s greatest weakness, problem, or challenge is what will ultimately become that hero’s greatest strength. Campbell notes that stories across cultures and time (even many modern movies and novels adhere to this concept of the “hero’s journey”) follow this theme. Likened to a roadmap for self-improvement, the hero’s journey includes distinct stages in which the protagonist battles with the awareness of what her problem is, gains increased realization along her path, at a certain point faces a reluctance toward change, overcomes this reluctance through her own self determination and with the help of mentors and allies, commits to change, experiences both improvements and setbacks from her attempts to change, and finally learns to master her problem — and in the end becomes a stronger person for it. And like any great story, the hero’s journey can be applied to our own battles. Personally, my lifelong struggle has been anxiety — it’s been my greatest weakness, yes, but it has also helped me find my greatest strength as well. On my first stage along this journey, I experienced a limited awareness that anxiety was, indeed, a mental condition to which there were answers. In fact, I wasn’t even aware how prevalent anxiety was. In my mind, I was alone and separate from others I deemed “normal.” I was also scared to admit to others that I was dealing with both chronic and acute anxiety, for fear that they’d label me as weak. Eventually, my awareness increased. I bought a self-help program and, through that, I realized that I had a very real condition I could eventually heal from — and beyond that — I also learned that I was not alone. Reading about other’s struggles with this oftentimes debilitating condition helped me to break out of my own emotional bubble and gave me a hope that I hadn’t experienced before. Yet, like so many others on a path to self-discovery, I also hit a period of reluctance. No matter how many positive self-affirmations I kept repeating to myself, no matter how many times I read how I shouldn’t blame myself, the fears and self-recrimination still flared up, especially when I became triggered, overtired, or simply received some discouraging news. I figured that my special kind of irrational fears were so entrenched into my brain, I would never be able to fully shake them. Luckily, I persevered through this reluctance by diving into my creative process as I wrote my debut novel “The Grace of Crows.” Writing became a cathartic exercise in which I could turn off the “what-if” part of my brain. How wonderful it was to learn how to channel those negative fears into a productive act of work. Also, as I wrote about a protagonist overcoming anxiety, I, too, was slowly but surely believing that I could as well. I further committed to change — and challenged myself like I never had before — by joining Toastmasters, a nonprofit group that helps people hone their public speaking skills. Even though my anxiety had decreased, I still harbored a deep fear of speaking in front of groups — or even the thought of being a guest for possible radio, TV, or podcast interviews. I realized that, if I wanted to promote my book about a woman overcoming anxiety, I’d better learn how walk the walk myself. And, indeed, with time I was able to happily say yes to interviews because of my ongoing commitment to Toastmasters. Of course, I continued to experience both improvements and setbacks along the way — and, in truth, still do. Yes, life would have been (and still would be!) a lot easier without having to deal with anxiety. But… I am also grateful for what it has given me. If I hadn’t had to deal with this debilitating condition, I would never have written my first novel, would never have gone to Toastmasters, and would never have connected with so many wonderfully brave anxiety-warriors. I am not only stronger because of this journey — but my life is also far richer for it. So, in looking at your own challenges, dear readers, please acknowledge your own hero’s journey: How have you learned to acknowledge, learn from, and master your biggest problems? And… how have you grown even stronger for it? View the full article
  4. Anxiety doesn’t seem to have any positive characteristics. When most of us feel anxiety, we just want it to go away as fast as possible. Today’s guest has a different idea. In her new book, Reverend Connie L. Habash says that we need to feel our anxiety more in order to understand what it is really about, and what it is trying to tell us. Join us as Reverend Connie outlines her seven step process for learning from and dealing with anxiety. Does anxiety have anything to teach you? Is it desirable or even possible to survive an anxiety attack by focusing more intently on the feeling? Will that really lead to a greater sense of calm? Listen now! SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Feeling Anxiety’ Podcast Episode Rev. Connie L. Habash, MA, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, yoga & meditation teacher, interfaith minister, and author of Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, and Courageous Life. Over the last 25 years, she has helped hundreds of students and clients overcome stress, anxiety, depression, and spiritually awaken. Rev. Connie is also committed to nurturing authentic, heart-centered, inspiring spiritual community. She leads online programs worldwide, as well as retreats, workshops, and yoga teacher trainings throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Discover more at her website: https://www.AwakeningSelf.com/ or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AwakeningSelf 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 Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Feeling Anxiety’ 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 Reverend Connie L. Habash. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a yoga and meditation teacher, an interfaith minister and author of Awakening from Anxiety A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident and Courageous Life. Connie, welcome to the show. Rev. Connie Habash: Thanks, Gabe. I’m delighted to be here. Gabe Howard: Well, we are certainly glad to have you. And the first question I want to ask you is, you know, we get a lot of licensed therapists and doctors and marriage and family therapist, but we don’t get a lot of people who define as, you know, an interfaith minister who have worked as a reverend. Rev. Connie Habash: I’ve always been spiritually oriented, I’m very holistic body, mind, heart, spirit. I feel that every client needs all parts of themselves addressed. And that’s been true in my path as well, in my path of healing and growth. And so at a certain point in time, I felt called to pursue and bring in more of that awareness of many different spiritual traditions and paths. Gabe Howard: I think that that’s fantastic. I love the title of your book, Awakening from Anxiety, because it sort of gives the notion that you have anxiety, but that you can you can wake up from it, you can become better and you can move past it. Was that your intent? Rev. Connie Habash: Yeah. It’s actually got a double meaning. One is what you’re talking about, that we can awake from this experience of anxiety that we’re having and that it isn’t really who we are, but the other meaning, and that is that anxiety can be a way to awaken us to a deeper level of awareness, to greater personal and spiritual growth, to becoming more of our true authentic self. So it has two meanings. Gabe Howard: It seems like we’re hearing more and more about anxiety, is anxiety on the rise? Is it something that that actually is growing or are just people are talking about it more? Rev. Connie Habash: That’s my experience. Absolutely. There’s so much more… there’s many layers to why that’s happening, I think, in our culture right now. One is that I think pressure and demands are much higher than they were a number of years ago. I live in Silicon Valley, for example. It’s like the pressure cooker of the country. People are working much longer hours. A lot more expected out of people in their jobs. Commute times have increased significantly in the last several years. So we have that layer and we have recent events that have happened like the shootings that have happened in Ohio and California in several places now around the nation. And then there’s also what is being called now, eco-anxiety. There’s a lot of concern about what’s happening on the planet and our environment and the sample, the fires down in the rainforest in the Amazon. And then there’s also concerns about the political environment here and what’s happening in our government. And that’s all just what’s happening out there, not what’s happening in our own lives, with our relationships and our children and our families and our own physical body and our wellness. So I see anxiety is definitely increasing in recent years. Gabe Howard: One of the things that you talk about is that highly sensitive people and spiritually oriented people seem to be more prone to anxiety. Can you explain how you reach that conclusion? Rev. Connie Habash: Well, first of all, I’ll explain a little bit about highly sensitive persons for people who don’t know what they are. Although I imagine any therapist listening to this probably have a number of them in their practice, but highly sensitive people are naturally empathic so they can pick up on other people’s emotions and even easily feel them put themselves into their shoes, so to speak. They are also tend to be very sensitive to sensory stimuli. So too much bright lights or too loud of a sound can be very upsetting and disturbing for someone who’s highly sensitive. So those are just some of the examples of what a highly sensitive person or an HSP might be like. And spiritually-oriented people often tend to be HSP’s. And both of them are naturally empathic and compassionate. And people who are into spiritual and personal growth care. We care about what’s going on the world. We care about other people. We care about other beings on the planet. And so anytime that there is perceived suffering around us, we will probably feel that more intensely, more deeply. And that will cause more anxiety in people who are highly sensitive and spiritually or indeed people who are the bulk of my practice. Gabe Howard: One of the things that I was sort of surprised to see when I was doing research for this show was that you want your clients to feel their anxiety more. Now, as somebody who lives with an anxiety disorder. When I read it, I was like, oh, no, this is this is this is not OK. Can you explain? Because you do go on to explain. And I found it absolutely fascinating. Rev. Connie Habash: Yeah, absolutely. So oftentimes when people say, for example, I might ask them, what are you feeling right now? And they might say, I feel anxiety. And I ask them, what is that like for you and your body? And they say, Well, it feels like I have no escape. And I’m stuck. And things will never get better. And so when you listen to that, you can recognize that those are actually thoughts that they’re describing. They’re not describing the actual emotion itself. So emotions are visceral. They are experienced through the physical body. And I think many of us are familiar with the physical sensations that might be associated with anxiety. For example, a lot of people get increased heart rate or shortness of breath or they might get tension in certain areas of the body that might clench their jaw or wrinkle, their forehead, etc. Those are the actual experience of the emotion. But a lot of people end up thinking their anxiety instead of feeling their anxiety. And when we do that, the thoughts tend to continue to perpetuate the experience of anxiety. And I’ve found that the way to help resolve the emotion when it comes through is to experience it in the body and stay with it in the body until it shifts on its own, it’s very much like an ocean wave. It has a period of increasing and rising and getting more intense and then it eventually shifts and dissolves. And so I guide my clients through that practice as well. Gabe Howard: Obviously, you feel that this is beneficial. Has it been beneficial, what do your clients report back when doing this? Because again, it does seem a little counter intuitive. That’s how it struck me. Rev. Connie Habash: It’s definitely counter intuitive. And of course, it’s not as simple as I’m describing in a few sentences, it takes practice like anything but what I noticed with clients when I guide them through that process. And it requires some certain foundations which I lay out in the book of being able to be present. Being able to be embodied because a lot of people don’t know what embodiment really is and are not very embodied in their physical self. And self-compassion, so that you’re observing and being present with yourself without judgment and being loving and kind towards yourself. So when those are laid down, then we move into learning how to feel the anxiety through the body rather than getting caught up in the train of thought that keeps perpetuating it and exacerbating it. And what I find clients experience is, yes, more calm, more peace, but also more clarity. They tend to move through that and then realize, oh, that’s really what my anxiety is about. It’s really trying to bring my attention to this particular issue in my life and encouraging me to create some change there. And that’s the next step. Listening to the anxiety and understanding what its message is. So people experience more calm, more inner peace, more resilience in being able to tolerate uncomfortable emotions and more clarity. Gabe Howard: Another thing you talk about is that self-compassion and self-pity aren’t the same things. And I don’t know that I ever thought they were the same thing, but I was fascinated with your explanation of the differences. Rev. Connie Habash: Yes. So and this is something that I learned from Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith, who is a well-known leader in the new thought movement. But he talks about that a lot of times people don’t understand what compassion is and what it isn’t. And some people mistake compassion for sympathy, which is, in his words, I feel sorry for you. You know, some people think, oh, if I practice self-compassion, then I’m just going to be feeling sorry for myself. And it’s not that, it’s not about a pity party where you’re sitting there feeling bad for feeling bad. It’s more that you’re willing and able to be present with yourself with openness and understanding, being willing to sit with a feeling rather than push it away or avoid it or judge it, just like you would want a good friend to do with you, to compassionately be with you when you’re suffering and listen and try to understand and offer support. We can develop those same skills toward ourselves, and self-compassion has now become more well known in the therapy community in the last 20 years. Gabe Howard: Can you give us a couple examples of how somebody can practice self-compassion? Rev. Connie Habash: So it’s very helpful to have the foundations of being present. So presence is like a practice of mindfulness where we learn to come into this moment just as it is with our awareness and our attention and an open heart and a quiet mind. Quiet mind is probably the hardest part, I think, of practicing presence. But we just learn to turn the cell down a bit on those thoughts that keep ruminating over the anxiety and shift our attention to then embodiment. When am I experiencing and feeling here in this moment. And then imagining that you’re wrapping yourself, like, in a warm blanket of kindness and holding yourself there in that present moment? It’s developing more of the witness part of ourselves that can see the emotion and see the thoughts, but isn’t the thoughts themselves, but a witness with kindness and love. I’m here for you. I see that I’m suffering in this moment and I can be present with myself while I’m suffering and be kind toward myself and be more gentle toward myself. So it’s a way of self-talk. It’s a way of self soothing. You can actually literally take a blanket and wrap it around you. I have a stuffed animal in my office. Her name is Kay, the koala of Compassion. Gabe Howard: I love it. Rev. Connie Habash: She has these eyes that are just so gentle when you look at them. And so sometimes I’ll have clients hold her and look in her eyes and receive that gentle, non-judgmental gaze, or I’ll have them hug her and imagine that they’re holding themselves while they’re feeling that pain. So there’s a number of different ways that you can work with self-compassion. Gabe Howard: This is kind of a real, real big question. Kind of. I do want to say that it’s the crux of your book that I really did learn a lot from it because you have seven keys to calming anxiety. Can you give us sort of the Reader’s Digest version of those seven keys? Rev. Connie Habash: You’ve been getting some of them. So the first and the foundational practice is presence, which again, I define as bringing your awareness and your attention into the present moment as it is with an open heart and a quiet mind. So obviously non-judgmental. It’s a form of mindfulness and that’s the foundation on which everything else is laid. And from there, we learn how to be embodied, how to be present and aware in this moment inside of our body, because a lot of times we’re actually up in our head or off daydreaming or spacing out or thinking about other things or worrying about the future or ruminating over the paths, which perpetuates our anxiety instead coming into the body. The third one is self-compassion. And we just talked about that. And that all leads up to the fourth, which is feeling the anxiety. What I talked about earlier, that those three allow us to be able to sit with that wave as it arises within us and feel it build, but observe it from that witness perspective, from that self-compassion it holding as it arises. And if we’re willing to stay with it long enough of it helps to have a therapist guide you. But I think people can might also be able to develop this on their own by reading the book. Rev. Connie Habash: It will start to shift on its own. And then the fifth step beyond that, the fifth key, once you’ve learned those first four steps and you get pretty good at them is then listening to the anxiety. So what is anxiety’s message here for me? What is it trying to bring my attention to and then being able to move into the sixth step, which is empowering action. So a lot of times we are reacting rather than responding, as I think a lot of us know, to what triggers us and when we’re able to feel the anxiety, move through it and then listen to its message, then it can tell us, OK, what’s an empowering action to take? So let’s say that you had a fear of public speaking, which you like, that a lot of people have that, right? A reaction might be to avoid it altogether. I’m never going to speak in public. Another reaction might be and this is sort of related to dialectical behavior therapy that they talk about opposite action might be OK or yourself out there and give a public speech. But I would like to use a little more discernment around that. Rev. Connie Habash: I call it empowering action. That comes as a response. A more empowering action might be OK. How about practice the speech in front of a friend? Or how about go to a Toastmasters class or get a coach to help you with public speaking? That’s going to give you probably a more positive experience than just throwing yourself up there and talking in front of a group. I’m prepared and never having done it before. So we discern what is the most empowering action to take. And then the seventh step, which is a little bit advanced. And that’s why I want people to go through those first six steps and really work with them or practice them is surrender. It’s a yogic principle coming from my background in yoga philosophy where we cultivate our trust in something bigger than us. Whether you call that God or I call it the divine or the universe or nature or your higher self. We develop our trust in something bigger than us to carry us through and to show us the way. That’s surrender to something more empowering rather than our tendency to kind of fall apart and surrender to the anxiety. Gabe Howard: We’ll be right back after these messages. Announcer: Want real, no-boundaries talk about mental health issues from those who live it? Listen to the Not Crazy podcast co-hosted by a lady with depression and a guy with bipolar. Visit Psych Central.com/NotCrazy or subscribe to Not Crazy 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. Gabe Howard: We’re back speaking with Reverend Connie L. Habash about anxiety. Speaking of yoga, you have a yoga principal that you talked a little bit about. I hope I do not butcher the principal’s name, but it’s santosha. Rev. Connie Habash: It’s called santosha, and it is one of the foundational principles of yoga philosophy. I teach yoga philosophy and a couple of yoga teacher trainings here in the Bay Area. It’s my favorite practice. It’s actually made the most difference in my life and it translates as contentment. So contentment is different than happiness because happiness is always based on external circumstances. Did I did I get my ice cream? Did the situation happen the way I wanted it to? And that’s all great when it does. But we know that life doesn’t always happen the way we wanted to. We don’t always get what we want. So santosha is an internal practice of recognizing that I’m usually okay. Pretty much no matter what. I mean, of course, there’s always, sometimes there might be an urgent crisis or emergency in which doesn’t feel too OK. But most of the time, if we really reality check what’s happening right now, as I’m sitting here in my chair in my office and I’m talking to you on the phone, I’m pretty okay. And developing that recognition that there is some part of me going back to that witness self, there’s some part of me inside that can watch the situation and recognize, OK, some part of me is all right here. Rev. Connie Habash: It’s also a concept of enough-ness, that in this moment I am enough to be able to respond to whatever life brings me in this moment. This moment is enough. It’s enough as it is. I don’t need more or want to get rid of something here in order to feel okay. I can find that okay is inside of me and that helps us build resilience, helps us build resilience in whatever emotions arise for us, whether it’s anxiety or depression or anger, that we can be resilient through whatever arises within us and whatever arises in our life. Santosha also helps us change our perspective on what’s happening to us that we don’t have to see everything as anxiety provoking or everything is wonderful or awful and split it into that black or white kind of thinking. We can be like, OK, I’m OK. And this is OK. Gabe Howard: I love that and I love a lot of your principles and the things that you’ve taught us, especially over this episode, but it makes me kind of wonder what are some of the mistakes that people who meditate or practice yoga or even follow a spiritual path make that increases their anxiety? Can you can you help us prevent those? Rev. Connie Habash: Yes. And that’s, so the number one mistake, which probably won’t come as a surprise to many people is perfectionism, that we have a tendency when we follow the path of personal growth or spiritual growth, to well, we want to improve ourselves, right? We want to get better. But underneath that is that sly little idea that there is somewhere perfect to get to. And that can be a really violent thing actually to do ourselves is to constantly feel like we have to be better and we’re not good enough as we are in particular to people on the spiritual path who are trying to become deeper meditators or more unconditionally loving or practicing yoga or prayer. I call it the Saint’s Syndrome, where we sort of believe we see maybe some ideal person. Maybe it’s Buddha for some people or Jesus for someone else or Mahatma Gandhi that we see as a saint. We think I need to become like that. Then we set these extremely high expectations for ourselves. Or we may not think we it we’re going to be able to become exactly like the Buddha, but we need to become a lot more like them. Rev. Connie Habash: And so we imagine that maybe we need to be peaceful all the time and talk in this really calm, soothing voice and wear white robes and glide along the street rather than, you know, being our normal regular selves. And so I try to shift people away from expecting perfection or trying to aim for some sort of idea of perfection and instead toward wholeness that we are human beings. We have all of these parts of ourselves and we have times where we feel anxiety and we have times where we get angry and to embrace and welcome those in with kindness and with love and with self compassion, and that they are experiences we have as human beings. But they don’t define us. And we also don’t need to define ourselves on whether we’re perfect or imperfect, because those are human definitions. They’re not definitions that, as far as I know, God wrote down somewhere. They’re what we created in our mind of what we think is perfect. And I think it’s more fulfilling and we can become more of our true highest authentic selves when we embrace ourselves and wholeness and don’t judge ourselves. Gabe Howard: I really loved that, Connie. Thank you so much, and I understand that you have a personal connection to anxiety. How did you overcome your own anxiety? Rev. Connie Habash: I think that it’s important that anyone that’s teaching anything have personal experience in that. And so part of this journey, which I write about in the book, I not only give case studies of my clients, but I also talk about my own experience with anxiety and worry and overwhelm and stress, which I think are all related to anxiety, especially nowadays. So I grew up as a shy, introverted child, and I didn’t realize even in my teen years that I had this low level of anxiety, of worry. And I was a perfectionist. I call myself a recovering perfectionist because I still notice it coming up in myself often, but I would get really down on myself if I didn’t achieve what I thought I was supposed to or behave in a way that other people liked. If I made a mistake and said something that upset somebody, I’d really beat myself up. This is all fairly low level until I had my daughter, who is now 15 and the birth of my daughter somehow triggered this much deeper experience of fear and worry and anxiety in my life. I think because, you know, now I’m a mom and now I’m responsible for this little life I’m holding in my arms. And that’s huge, right? You realize when you become a parent what a big responsibility that is. Rev. Connie Habash: And how much you love that being that you’re holding. And so it translated into fear of flying. I became terrified of going on planes, especially of turbulence, and went through my own process of going to a there’s a fear of flying clinic right here at San Francisco International Airport where I worked through my own anxiety about that. But through that journey and my journey before that and working on my perfectionism and my worries and fears about what people thought of me cultivated this whole practice and seven T’s that have really worked well and changed my life. And have also helped my clients’ lives. So I’ve been there and I continue. And there are times when anxiety rises for me, as I say in the book. Don’t expect that now anxiety is just going to disappear and never come back again. I think that actually is more anxiety provoking because then if it does come up, you think, oh, I’ve done something wrong and I’m not doing a good enough. My approach is you’re a human being. Sometimes it’s going to arise. And now you’re more empowered. Now you know that you are much bigger than your anxiety and you know how to be with it and work with it and transform it into something that’s empowering. Gabe Howard: That’s incredible. Where can folks find you on the Web? And where can they get your book? Rev. Connie Habash: Well, my Web site is awakeningself.com. That’s S as in Sam, E, L, F as in Frank. Awakening self. Or you can just do ConnieHabash.com that works as well. My book, Awakening from Anxiety is available anywhere that you want to get it. You can order it from a bookstore if it’s not in stock and it’s on Indie Books and Barnes & Noble and of course, on Amazon. And I also have an online program I’m starting in the new year based on the book. So people from around the world can work with me. Gabe Howard: That’s wonderful, and can they find that online program at www.awakeningself.com? Rev. Connie Habash: Yes, it will be. It’s actually going to be on there soon. But right now, I have a free anxiety assessment that people can take and when they take that, they’ll receive one or two calming practices that they can work with based on the book. And then I offer them a free online class with me. Gabe Howard: That is very, very cool. Thank you so much for agreeing to be on the show. We really appreciated having you. Rev. Connie Habash: Thanks, Gabe, it’s been a pleasure. Gabe Howard: And remember, everyone, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counselling 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! Email us at show@psychcentral.com for details. 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 widely. View the full article
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  6. Phobiasupportforum

    Ruminations and Worrying Ruining Your Day?

    Do you ever find yourself dwelling on something inconsequential that happened a long time ago? Are you still thinking about how badly you embarrassed yourself in front of Sally Sue in the second grade? Today’s guest has a method to help you stop! Sometimes reviewing past failures or setbacks can be healthy, a way to avoid making the mistake again. But when processing turns into ruminating, it is time to make a change. If you find yourself continually revisiting negative thoughts that just won’t go away, listen in as Dr. Tara Sanderson gives us some tips on how to stop ruminating once and for all! SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Ruminations and Worrying’ Podcast Episode Tara Sanderson is a licensed psychologist, author and clinical supervisor in Oregon. For over 20 years Tara has been helping people learn the skills to live their best lives. Using tools from cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, mindfulness and dialectical behavior therapy, she specializes in working with clients who struggle with perfectionism, overachieving, anxiety and depression. 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 Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Ruminations and Worrying’ 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 Dr. Tara Sanderson. For over 20 years, Tara has been helping people learn the skills to live their best lives, specifically specializing in working with people who struggle with perfectionism, overachieving anxiety and depression. She’s also the author of Too Much, Not Enough. Dr. Sanderson, welcome to the show. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here today. Gabe Howard: We’re really excited that you’re here, too, because anxiety is kind of a big topic. It’s something that really is discussed among people who really don’t spend a lot of time discussing mental health. I’ve kind of noticed, especially in the last 15 years, that people are willing to say that they’re anxious more than they would be willing to say that they’re having a mental health crisis or even depression. It’s sort of becoming a little bit mainstream. Is that what you’re seeing? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Absolutely. And I think that anxiety is something that is so relatable to everyone. We’ve all felt that nervous feeling in our belly and now can start extrapolating out to noticing when I have that nervous feeling and I’m not going onstage or I have that nervous feeling when I’m not going into a weird situation. It becomes much more noticeable. And I think everybody is starting to get that close comparison to what other people are feeling. Gabe Howard: What I specifically like speaking purely as a mental health advocate is that we used to call this like nerves or butterflies, and now we’re starting to use words like, I’m anxious. I have anxiety. Do you think that’s a good move to actually call it by its actual name rather than sort of speak about it in like whispers and code? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Absolutely. I think that one of the benefits of that is it normalizes it for everyone. That we can have this global word that we all know kind of what it means. I think there is a little bit of a con in the way that like some people say they have anxiety or experiencing it in one way and other people then compare themselves to it. And there’s this weird you-don’t-have-anxiety-like-I-have-anxiety kind of thing. But I think that globally, everybody sharing that they’re really struggling is a good thing. Gabe Howard: Whenever people compare their symptoms with one another and do that, I have it worse than you have it, etc. I always call that the suffering Olympics. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Oh. Gabe Howard: It’s like, what difference does it make, what level we’re experiencing it? We really should be focusing on the idea that we’re both experiencing it. I lead a lot of support groups and I say, really, how does how does figuring out which one of you are worse off help the greater good? How does it help you get better? And that usually refocuses it when it comes to anxiety. You did touch on a point that there’s a big difference between being nervous about maybe taking the bar exam and actually suffering from anxiety. Can you sort of tell us the difference between just general nervousness and actual anxiety? Dr. Tara Sanderson: The way I like to break it down is the actual anxiety, when you look at the DSM diagnosis, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual — that is how we kind of define each of the different disorders — is that anxiety, generalized anxiety, is a pervasive issue. It’s not, it doesn’t just affect you in one area. It affects you all over the place. There are these thought processes and ways that they think about things that are different from folks who are just struggling with getting ready to take the bar exam or going on stage and doing a presentation. One of the areas that really impacts people I think the most is the idea of rumination. And that’s the area that we think about things in a negative way over and over and over again to kind of beat ourselves up over it. Gabe Howard: And that’s one of the focuses of this show when I was doing the research. It was a little bit funny because I was like, well, yeah, I know about ruminating on things. I know exactly what that is. And then I realized that, wait, that’s like as far as I got, I know what it means or feels like to ruminate on something. But but that’s really it. I could not define the word rumination. What are ruminations? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Ruminations are those deep, dark, negative-oriented thoughts that just won’t go away. When I think about things that just won’t go away, I think that they are also reinforced by ourselves. So it’s that idea that I think I’ve seen a meme about it where somebody is lying in bed and they’re getting ready to go to sleep and they’re like, oh, my day was wonderful. And then all of a sudden their eyes pop open and they say, yeah, but do you remember what you said to Sally Sue in second grade? Wasn’t that terrible? And then they stay awake all night thinking about what they said to Sally Sue in second grade. Those deep, dark things that we reinforce within ourselves, probably unknowingly and probably unwillingly. But they just stay there and they keep like going over and over again in your head. Gabe Howard: I really love the example of Sally Sue from the second grade, and I think that a lot of people who have anxiety issues ruminate on conversations that they had earlier in the day and we just replay them over and over again, well, if I would have said this, would this have happened or if I would have said this, would this… It’s almost like we’re rehashing the same conversation or argument or disagreement or problem over and over again. And I’m guessing this probably has no benefit to us. In the example of Sally Sue, it kept you up all night. It didn’t actually resolve anything. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Correct. And I think that’s the big difference between rumination and processing, because therapists do talk to their clients about we need to process through this stuff and processing is all about a goal of getting to acceptance and understanding and potentially moving towards growth. And rumination is all about just kind of beating yourself up over and over and over again and again, not probably on purpose. But that’s just how it rolls. And it’s so important to, like, differentiate when you’re thinking about how to get through a problem. Ruminations keeps you stuck in it like a tar pit and processing gets you moving forward. Once you’ve accepted it and get kind of comfortable with it. Gabe Howard: Would it be fair to say that maybe one of the differences is the goal? Like, I know that when I ruminate on something, the goal is to retroactively win. I’m trying to make it better and make myself feel better about what happened. But when I’m processing something, my goal is to make it better. And it always includes steps for the future. Like, tomorrow I’m going to sit down and apologize or I’m going to ask this follow-up question or, you know, maybe I did come off a little heavy-handed. It’s much more practical and goal oriented and future-based, whereas ruminations seems, for me at least, to be past-based. I’m going to fix it retroactively. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Yes, absolutely, rumination is all about the retroactive, it’s all about the past and it’s all about almost reliving it in a way, whether it’s reliving it to win or whether it’s reliving it to just do something different, whether it’s reliving it to feel better about yourself, that never actually works. I mean, because we can’t go back and make any changes in the past. I can’t do anything about Sally Sue. Gabe Howard: Who is generally affected by ruminations? Is it just people with diagnosable anxiety disorders or does it expand out? Dr. Tara Sanderson: I think it expands out, I think everybody has experienced those moments where they go, dang it, I wish I had said this differently or, you know, or if I could go back and do this differently, I would. And I think that rumination, the true part of it that really impacts people, is when it goes deep into that dark thoughts of it: I’m stupid because I didn’t say this or I can’t believe that I’m such an idiot because I did this this way thinking, gosh, I wish I had done this differently. It is some good past talk that you can grow from if you want to, or it can lead into rumination. I think anxiety folks feel this. I think depressive folks feel this. I think that people who struggle with OCD feel this in the deeper, darker ways where it just becomes, I’m bad because… I’m terrible because… I shouldn’t go out in public because. Gabe Howard: And I think anybody who has ruminated on anything is probably asking the question now. OK, this is perfect. I understand what you’re saying. I’m agreeing with you. I do this. Now, how do I deal with it? How do I stop it? How do I get over it? Dr. Tara Sanderson: That is such a great question, and I think one that I see all the time in my therapy clients is they want the answer to this question and they want it to be awesome and easy and let’s just do it. And I always have to tell them that I may be disclosing that Santa Claus is not real. They need to prepare themselves. It’s not going to be easy. You’re changing a thought process that has probably been in your head for a long time. And during that process of changing, you have to do things differently, you have to notice things. So the first step is stopping, stopping what you’re doing. The second you notice that you are ruminating again. You have to stop and you have to observe what’s going on. You have to look outside and inside. I use a method called SOBER. So the first two parts of the acronym are S and O for Stop and Observe. And I think that those two are the very first key elements to making a change in rumination. When you find yourself ruminating, stopping what you’re doing and observing what’s going on outside, what’s prompting this? What’s going on inside, that’s prompting this, what am I feeling? Where did I go? I noticed that a lot of times when I ruminate, I’ll be driving somewhere and I’m on autopilot in the drive like I’m driving home from work or whatever and I’m on autopilot. So my brain just starts going into a direction where sometimes I’m not an active participant in where it goes. And when I notice like, wow, I’m on autopilot. So I let my brain go in this direction instead of being purposeful about what I want to think about and where I want to grow and what I want to do. That’s when I can start noticing like, oh, when I get on autopilot. This happens. So I need to not go on autopilot unless I am prepared to work on some of these other things. Gabe Howard: When you said that, you know, stop and observe, the first thing that immediately came to mind was that famous Bob Newhart Mad TV sketch where Bob Newhart plays a therapist and a person comes in and tells their problem that they’re having. And Bob Newhart as the therapist says, stop it. That’s all you have to do. Your therapy is over. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Absolutely. That’ll be five dollars, please. And I don’t give change. Gabe Howard: Yeah. Exactly. So. Right. And I don’t give change. And on one hand, as somebody who’s been through a lot of therapy, I remember seeing that and thinking, oh, my God, that I should just stop it and I’ll be fine. And for like a split nanosecond I was like, this is excellent. I no longer need to go to therapy because I’m just going to stop it. But that’s as funny as that was, and as much as I absolutely adore Bob Newhart’s comedy, that’s not practical. Right? So I imagine that there’s probably a step like how do you stop and observe, especially when maybe you’re not even aware that you’re ruminating? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Absolutely, and I think that’s the key to this whole process, is now that, you know, the definition of ruminating, which is to continue to beat yourself up over things, to think about all these dark negative things pretty much involuntarily, that when you notice that you do that, which is the whole first key, is that you have to notice it. You have to notice when it’s happening. Then you go to step one, which is stop. And the part of that is to really just be clear with yourself that you’re not saying, gosh, you’re so terrible, stop doing that. The thought is more, hey, I’m noticing that I’m doing this. And now let’s move on to observing. Why? Where’s this coming from? It’s asking a new question. It’s being curious rather than it being beat myself up over it again, because now I’m doing this thing that I shouldn’t be doing. Gabe Howard: And then that moves us on to B in the acronym SOBER. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Correct. So B is all about Breathing. I’m a big fan of breathing five times and the breathing five times gives you an opportunity to take space from what you’ve seen yourself do, which is that ruminating. You’ve observed why it’s happening and giving yourself some space to get ready to move on to the next step. The breathing just gives you a moment to really connect with yourself. I’m a big fan of some active breathing, so you can just take five big, deep breaths. I tend to when I take five big, big, deep breaths, tend to hyperventilate a little bit because I just want to move on to the next thing. So doing active breathing, like tracing the lines on my hands as a part of the process of breathing. So breathing in as I cross one line and breathing out when I cross the other helps me to slow it down a little bit and really gives me the space to sink in to, hey, I’m going to do some work with myself in this moment and I need to make sure that I’m being attentive and purposeful in that. Gabe Howard: So we have Stop, Observe, and then Breathing and then now we’re to E! Dr. Tara Sanderson: E is Examine the options. I’d like for people to come up with five options to dealing with whatever is going on at that moment. So in this case we’re talking about ruminations. So they’ve got five options. Two extreme options and three regular ones. So an extreme option with rumination would be I’m going to sit here and reminisce about absolutely everything I’ve ever done in my entire life that has been terrible. And I’m going to purposely do that and I’m just going to sit here until I’m done with it. And at the age of 40, I have a lot of things I could have ruminate over. Right? So that’s the extreme number one. Extreme number two is I’m going to push down on this gas pedal and drive as fast as I can to see if I can distract myself from this rumination. Which both are options. Neither are great options. They wouldn’t necessarily be the best solution to your problem, but you could do that, right? I don’t like the extremes because sometimes especially being anxious, sometimes you need those extremes to give you the limits and then you can find that middle area, the gray area that makes it a little bit easier. Dr. Tara Sanderson: I may not be willing to ruminate on all of my things from the last 40 years, but maybe I’m gonna give myself a couple of minutes to ruminate and see how it feels. That’s a much more gentle in the middle option. Maybe I think about I’m going to call a friend and talk it through with them and just make sure that I wasn’t crazy when I said such and such. You know, in that conversation, that’s four options. Yeah. Maybe a fifth option is that I’m going to turn on the radio and listen to it pretty loud and see if I can just kind of kick myself out of the funk for a minute. Any of those options are fine. And coming up with two extremes and three middle ground gives you some room to kind of figure out what’s going to help me really in this moment? Is processing it through with a friend going to help? Is purposely ruminating more gonna help? What’s really going to do the best for me at this point? Gabe Howard: And then this all leads us to the last letter in the SOBER acronym, which is R. Dr. Tara Sanderson: The almighty R, which is Response. Choose one. And the truth is, it doesn’t matter which one you choose. You can absolutely push the fuddled out and do that part of it. And I always like to remind people there are consequences to all actions. So you also may get a ticket and that may be an unintended consequence of you trying to deal with your rumination. But that’s a possibility. You totally could do that. Any of the options are fine, because if they don’t work, if they don’t do what you were wanting them to, you can always go back and pick some more options and try again. There is nothing permanent about decisions that we make in the area of trying to navigate through some of these ruminations or any other choices. And I think it’s really important that we give ourselves some grace in that. To say like, hey, I’m going to choose this one and see how it works out. If it doesn’t work, I’m going to go back to the drawing board and pick something else. Gabe Howard: We will be back after these messages. Announcer: Want real, no-boundaries talk about mental health issues from those who live it? Listen to the Not Crazy podcast co-hosted by a lady with depression and a guy with bipolar. Visit Psych Central.com/NotCrazy or subscribe to Not Crazy 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. Gabe Howard: And we are back speaking with Dr. Tara Sanderson. When we look at SOBER as a tool, as a tool that we can use, what barriers might come up to folks trying to use this tool effectively? Dr. Tara Sanderson: It’s super important that they do that, people do that all five letters. You can skip the breathing. But I just noticed that when I skip the breathing, I don’t really get clarity on those five options. I have a lot of people who just skip the observe part of it and they go from stopped to options. That doesn’t really work as well either, because you haven’t figured out the core of what’s going on. So remembering the acronym is kind of step one and then doing all the steps is the other barrier. Gabe Howard: And how do people overcome that? Dr. Tara Sanderson: While I have them write it down. I’m a big fan of doing it themselves. So when I’m in session with folks, I don’t have a worksheet or a handout for this method. I make them take out a piece of paper or use the journal that they bring along to therapy and say, we’re gonna or I’m going to walk you through writing this down for yourself and then we’re gonna practice it a bunch. And that really does help because it’s in their own handwriting. They’re not taking home a piece of paper and throwing it on the counter. Like they did it themselves. They’ve kind of taken that tactile response to getting something new in their head. And then we practice it a lot. I recommend that people practice this on every decision you make throughout a full day. Everything from, am I going to put my seatbelt on in the car? To am I having cornflakes or oatmeal for breakfast? To do I go pick up the kids from school today? Like that’s a decision you actually get to make. I will also say please pick up your children from school, but you get choices in that. And I think that the more we recognize that every single thing is a choice from do I brush my teeth today, to taking a shower, to wearing a seat belt, to driving the speed limit. And when we notice and make those intentionally, the more we are able to then make other decisions intentionally. Like, am I going to sit here and perseverate on something that happened in second grade? No, I am not. That is not how I intentionally want to use my time today. So I’m going to choose to do something different. Gabe Howard: It’s interesting that you pointed out that so many of the decisions that we feel are requirements, we have to, are actually choices that we make. Now, as you pointed out, we absolutely want to care for our kids in the best manner possible, but we could choose not to. And in fact, we are aware that some people do choose not to. Does looking at every choice as an intentional choice give us more power and help with things like anxiety and ruminations? Or is it all a big distraction? It seems really weird to say to most people, hey, you don’t have to pick up your kids from school if you don’t want to. Dr. Tara Sanderson: I think that it isn’t necessarily all about power, but it is all about being focused on intention. And when I think about not picking up my kids from school, well, I don’t actually have kiddos. But when I think Gabe Howard: Me neither. Dr. Tara Sanderson: About it and picking up the kids from school. I think about the option isn’t I just leave them there necessarily because you come up with five options. One could be I leave them at school forever and I’m never picking them up. That’s an extreme option. Totally a choice, but probably not our best. Right? Another one is, you know, I call my neighbor and see if my neighbor will pick them up or ask someone from the school to drop them off or call the school and tell them to take the bus, because I don’t want to leave what I’m doing to go get them. Those aren’t abusive or neglectful or terrible choices. They’re just choices. And I think giving ourselves the freedom to say things can just be choices. And I have options, decreases the anxiety and decreases the pressure that we are supposed to be doing something else. Like I’m supposed to be a perfect parent or a perfect wife, or I’m supposed to be doing enough, and that if I don’t do enough, I’m not meaningful or valuable or worthy. And giving yourself the freedom to say, no, it’s all just choices, and I have options, gives us some just peace. Gabe Howard: I absolutely love that. Dr. Sanderson, I’d kinda like to flip the script for a moment. You know, we’ve been talking about how other people can use this SOBER tool to make their lives better. But how do you personally use this tool to improve your outcomes in your life? Dr. Tara Sanderson: So in the book, I talk a little bit about my love of food. I definitely have a tender relationship with anything sweet or bready or salty. Really, it’s kind of like all food. So SOBER has helped me so much in really identifying my connection with why is this food what I crave right now? So there are some foods that make you feel warm and fuzzy. There are some foods that you eat when you’re excited. There’s food you eat when you’re bored and using SOBER has given me an opportunity to really assess in those moments and not go overboard when I’m not doing that purposely. A big bowl of popcorn I feel like I’m pretty justified in going overboard on when I’m watching movies with friends or doing a big like gathering. But eating an entire bag of mini chocolate chips is probably not ever really in my best benefit. And yet I totally would do it if I’m not being intentional in that moment. Having a handful every now and then or adding some into your mouth while you’re baking chocolate chip cookies, it’s like those are all kind of normal-ish things. But when I get on autopilot and I start having a lot of emotional feelings, especially around rumination of choices that I’ve made, sometimes that handful becomes twelve handfuls if I’m not being intentional. So giving myself permission to just say like, hey, I’m noticing that I’m feeling really tempted right now about a decision I made or about a conversation I had. Dr. Tara Sanderson: And what I want is to just dive into the mini chocolate chips in my freezer. Is that really what’s best for me? Let’s take a few deep breaths with that. Let’s do some options. Do I get out the bag and just go at it? Do I get out a little handful of them and put it back away and walk away? Do I completely avoid it by going for a walk and see if I can get through this feeling without having to eat it? You know, I try and think of a bunch of options and then I pick one. And sometimes it is absolutely I am willing to navigate this from the perspective of I’m just going to eat as many chocolate chips as I want and I will stand there and eat them. And during that process, my job is to keep checking in with myself. Is this still what I want to do? Are there other options that would make me feel better? Where am I at? Because I know that I can always U-turn after five handfuls. I can U-turn and say I’m done. I don’t need to eat the whole bag. After one handful. I can U-turn after no handfuls. I can. It’s a really nice tool that I use. Just to try and keep myself in check about what I’m eating and how that’s impacting me, not just physically, but emotionally. Gabe Howard: Thank you so much for sharing that. And of course, now I desperately want chocolate chip cookies. So thank you for that. Dr. Tara Sanderson: You’re welcome. Gabe Howard: Dr. Sanderson, thank you so much for talking to us about ruminations. It’s really incredible and it’s really helpful. Now, your book is called Too Much, Not Enough. Can you tell us where we can find it? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Sure. So my book is called Too much, Not enough: A guide to decreasing anxiety and creating balance through intentional choices. It is on Amazon as hardback, paperback, and as an e-book. And coming soon it will be an audio book. It’s being recorded right now. I’m so excited. Gabe Howard: That is very cool, and Dr. Sanderson, do you have your own website where people can go and check you out and interact with you? Dr. Tara Sanderson: I do. So my website is just DrTaraSanderson.com. So it is DrTaraSanderson.com. And there’s a link to my book, and there is a link to my practice and you can find out all about me. Gabe Howard: That is very cool. Well, thank you so much again for being on the show. We really appreciated having you. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Thank you again. It’s been wonderful. Gabe Howard: And thank you, everybody, for listening. And we’re excited to announce that The Psych Central Podcast travels well. Do you want to make your next event or conference really excited? Meet me in person and have people interviewed by a professional moderator? And then the whole show will go live, extending the reach of your conference. Give us an e-mail at show@PsychCentral.com for pricing and information. And do you want to interact with the show? You can head over to PsychCentral.com/FB and then review us wherever you find us. Share us on social media. E-mail us to your friends. Remember, we don’t have a million dollar ad budget, so you are our best hope for getting information about mental health, psychology, and mental illness in to the hands of those who will benefit from it. And then finally, remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, simply by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. We’ll 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! Email us at show@psychcentral.com for details. 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 widely. View the full article
  7. Phobiasupportforum

    Ruminations and Worrying Ruining Your Day?

    Do you ever find yourself dwelling on something inconsequential that happened a long time ago? Are you still thinking about how badly you embarrassed yourself in front of Sally Sue in the second grade? Today’s guest has a method to help you stop! Sometimes reviewing past failures or setbacks can be healthy, a way to avoid making the mistake again. But when processing turns into ruminating, it is time to make a change. If you find yourself continually revisiting negative thoughts that just won’t go away, listen in as Dr. Tara Sanderson gives us some tips on how to stop ruminating once and for all! SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Ruminations and Worrying’ Podcast Episode Tara Sanderson is a licensed psychologist, author and clinical supervisor in Oregon. For over 20 years Tara has been helping people learn the skills to live their best lives. Using tools from cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, mindfulness and dialectical behavior therapy, she specializes in working with clients who struggle with perfectionism, overachieving, anxiety and depression. 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 Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Ruminations and Worrying’ 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 Dr. Tara Sanderson. For over 20 years, Tara has been helping people learn the skills to live their best lives, specifically specializing in working with people who struggle with perfectionism, overachieving anxiety and depression. She’s also the author of Too Much, Not Enough. Dr. Sanderson, welcome to the show. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here today. Gabe Howard: We’re really excited that you’re here, too, because anxiety is kind of a big topic. It’s something that really is discussed among people who really don’t spend a lot of time discussing mental health. I’ve kind of noticed, especially in the last 15 years, that people are willing to say that they’re anxious more than they would be willing to say that they’re having a mental health crisis or even depression. It’s sort of becoming a little bit mainstream. Is that what you’re seeing? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Absolutely. And I think that anxiety is something that is so relatable to everyone. We’ve all felt that nervous feeling in our belly and now can start extrapolating out to noticing when I have that nervous feeling and I’m not going onstage or I have that nervous feeling when I’m not going into a weird situation. It becomes much more noticeable. And I think everybody is starting to get that close comparison to what other people are feeling. Gabe Howard: What I specifically like speaking purely as a mental health advocate is that we used to call this like nerves or butterflies, and now we’re starting to use words like, I’m anxious. I have anxiety. Do you think that’s a good move to actually call it by its actual name rather than sort of speak about it in like whispers and code? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Absolutely. I think that one of the benefits of that is it normalizes it for everyone. That we can have this global word that we all know kind of what it means. I think there is a little bit of a con in the way that like some people say they have anxiety or experiencing it in one way and other people then compare themselves to it. And there’s this weird you-don’t-have-anxiety-like-I-have-anxiety kind of thing. But I think that globally, everybody sharing that they’re really struggling is a good thing. Gabe Howard: Whenever people compare their symptoms with one another and do that, I have it worse than you have it, etc. I always call that the suffering Olympics. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Oh. Gabe Howard: It’s like, what difference does it make, what level we’re experiencing it? We really should be focusing on the idea that we’re both experiencing it. I lead a lot of support groups and I say, really, how does how does figuring out which one of you are worse off help the greater good? How does it help you get better? And that usually refocuses it when it comes to anxiety. You did touch on a point that there’s a big difference between being nervous about maybe taking the bar exam and actually suffering from anxiety. Can you sort of tell us the difference between just general nervousness and actual anxiety? Dr. Tara Sanderson: The way I like to break it down is the actual anxiety, when you look at the DSM diagnosis, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual — that is how we kind of define each of the different disorders — is that anxiety, generalized anxiety, is a pervasive issue. It’s not, it doesn’t just affect you in one area. It affects you all over the place. There are these thought processes and ways that they think about things that are different from folks who are just struggling with getting ready to take the bar exam or going on stage and doing a presentation. One of the areas that really impacts people I think the most is the idea of rumination. And that’s the area that we think about things in a negative way over and over and over again to kind of beat ourselves up over it. Gabe Howard: And that’s one of the focuses of this show when I was doing the research. It was a little bit funny because I was like, well, yeah, I know about ruminating on things. I know exactly what that is. And then I realized that, wait, that’s like as far as I got, I know what it means or feels like to ruminate on something. But but that’s really it. I could not define the word rumination. What are ruminations? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Ruminations are those deep, dark, negative-oriented thoughts that just won’t go away. When I think about things that just won’t go away, I think that they are also reinforced by ourselves. So it’s that idea that I think I’ve seen a meme about it where somebody is lying in bed and they’re getting ready to go to sleep and they’re like, oh, my day was wonderful. And then all of a sudden their eyes pop open and they say, yeah, but do you remember what you said to Sally Sue in second grade? Wasn’t that terrible? And then they stay awake all night thinking about what they said to Sally Sue in second grade. Those deep, dark things that we reinforce within ourselves, probably unknowingly and probably unwillingly. But they just stay there and they keep like going over and over again in your head. Gabe Howard: I really love the example of Sally Sue from the second grade, and I think that a lot of people who have anxiety issues ruminate on conversations that they had earlier in the day and we just replay them over and over again, well, if I would have said this, would this have happened or if I would have said this, would this… It’s almost like we’re rehashing the same conversation or argument or disagreement or problem over and over again. And I’m guessing this probably has no benefit to us. In the example of Sally Sue, it kept you up all night. It didn’t actually resolve anything. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Correct. And I think that’s the big difference between rumination and processing, because therapists do talk to their clients about we need to process through this stuff and processing is all about a goal of getting to acceptance and understanding and potentially moving towards growth. And rumination is all about just kind of beating yourself up over and over and over again and again, not probably on purpose. But that’s just how it rolls. And it’s so important to, like, differentiate when you’re thinking about how to get through a problem. Ruminations keeps you stuck in it like a tar pit and processing gets you moving forward. Once you’ve accepted it and get kind of comfortable with it. Gabe Howard: Would it be fair to say that maybe one of the differences is the goal? Like, I know that when I ruminate on something, the goal is to retroactively win. I’m trying to make it better and make myself feel better about what happened. But when I’m processing something, my goal is to make it better. And it always includes steps for the future. Like, tomorrow I’m going to sit down and apologize or I’m going to ask this follow-up question or, you know, maybe I did come off a little heavy-handed. It’s much more practical and goal oriented and future-based, whereas ruminations seems, for me at least, to be past-based. I’m going to fix it retroactively. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Yes, absolutely, rumination is all about the retroactive, it’s all about the past and it’s all about almost reliving it in a way, whether it’s reliving it to win or whether it’s reliving it to just do something different, whether it’s reliving it to feel better about yourself, that never actually works. I mean, because we can’t go back and make any changes in the past. I can’t do anything about Sally Sue. Gabe Howard: Who is generally affected by ruminations? Is it just people with diagnosable anxiety disorders or does it expand out? Dr. Tara Sanderson: I think it expands out, I think everybody has experienced those moments where they go, dang it, I wish I had said this differently or, you know, or if I could go back and do this differently, I would. And I think that rumination, the true part of it that really impacts people, is when it goes deep into that dark thoughts of it: I’m stupid because I didn’t say this or I can’t believe that I’m such an idiot because I did this this way thinking, gosh, I wish I had done this differently. It is some good past talk that you can grow from if you want to, or it can lead into rumination. I think anxiety folks feel this. I think depressive folks feel this. I think that people who struggle with OCD feel this in the deeper, darker ways where it just becomes, I’m bad because… I’m terrible because… I shouldn’t go out in public because. Gabe Howard: And I think anybody who has ruminated on anything is probably asking the question now. OK, this is perfect. I understand what you’re saying. I’m agreeing with you. I do this. Now, how do I deal with it? How do I stop it? How do I get over it? Dr. Tara Sanderson: That is such a great question, and I think one that I see all the time in my therapy clients is they want the answer to this question and they want it to be awesome and easy and let’s just do it. And I always have to tell them that I may be disclosing that Santa Claus is not real. They need to prepare themselves. It’s not going to be easy. You’re changing a thought process that has probably been in your head for a long time. And during that process of changing, you have to do things differently, you have to notice things. So the first step is stopping, stopping what you’re doing. The second you notice that you are ruminating again. You have to stop and you have to observe what’s going on. You have to look outside and inside. I use a method called SOBER. So the first two parts of the acronym are S and O for Stop and Observe. And I think that those two are the very first key elements to making a change in rumination. When you find yourself ruminating, stopping what you’re doing and observing what’s going on outside, what’s prompting this? What’s going on inside, that’s prompting this, what am I feeling? Where did I go? I noticed that a lot of times when I ruminate, I’ll be driving somewhere and I’m on autopilot in the drive like I’m driving home from work or whatever and I’m on autopilot. So my brain just starts going into a direction where sometimes I’m not an active participant in where it goes. And when I notice like, wow, I’m on autopilot. So I let my brain go in this direction instead of being purposeful about what I want to think about and where I want to grow and what I want to do. That’s when I can start noticing like, oh, when I get on autopilot. This happens. So I need to not go on autopilot unless I am prepared to work on some of these other things. Gabe Howard: When you said that, you know, stop and observe, the first thing that immediately came to mind was that famous Bob Newhart Mad TV sketch where Bob Newhart plays a therapist and a person comes in and tells their problem that they’re having. And Bob Newhart as the therapist says, stop it. That’s all you have to do. Your therapy is over. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Absolutely. That’ll be five dollars, please. And I don’t give change. Gabe Howard: Yeah. Exactly. So. Right. And I don’t give change. And on one hand, as somebody who’s been through a lot of therapy, I remember seeing that and thinking, oh, my God, that I should just stop it and I’ll be fine. And for like a split nanosecond I was like, this is excellent. I no longer need to go to therapy because I’m just going to stop it. But that’s as funny as that was, and as much as I absolutely adore Bob Newhart’s comedy, that’s not practical. Right? So I imagine that there’s probably a step like how do you stop and observe, especially when maybe you’re not even aware that you’re ruminating? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Absolutely, and I think that’s the key to this whole process, is now that, you know, the definition of ruminating, which is to continue to beat yourself up over things, to think about all these dark negative things pretty much involuntarily, that when you notice that you do that, which is the whole first key, is that you have to notice it. You have to notice when it’s happening. Then you go to step one, which is stop. And the part of that is to really just be clear with yourself that you’re not saying, gosh, you’re so terrible, stop doing that. The thought is more, hey, I’m noticing that I’m doing this. And now let’s move on to observing. Why? Where’s this coming from? It’s asking a new question. It’s being curious rather than it being beat myself up over it again, because now I’m doing this thing that I shouldn’t be doing. Gabe Howard: And then that moves us on to B in the acronym SOBER. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Correct. So B is all about Breathing. I’m a big fan of breathing five times and the breathing five times gives you an opportunity to take space from what you’ve seen yourself do, which is that ruminating. You’ve observed why it’s happening and giving yourself some space to get ready to move on to the next step. The breathing just gives you a moment to really connect with yourself. I’m a big fan of some active breathing, so you can just take five big, deep breaths. I tend to when I take five big, big, deep breaths, tend to hyperventilate a little bit because I just want to move on to the next thing. So doing active breathing, like tracing the lines on my hands as a part of the process of breathing. So breathing in as I cross one line and breathing out when I cross the other helps me to slow it down a little bit and really gives me the space to sink in to, hey, I’m going to do some work with myself in this moment and I need to make sure that I’m being attentive and purposeful in that. Gabe Howard: So we have Stop, Observe, and then Breathing and then now we’re to E! Dr. Tara Sanderson: E is Examine the options. I’d like for people to come up with five options to dealing with whatever is going on at that moment. So in this case we’re talking about ruminations. So they’ve got five options. Two extreme options and three regular ones. So an extreme option with rumination would be I’m going to sit here and reminisce about absolutely everything I’ve ever done in my entire life that has been terrible. And I’m going to purposely do that and I’m just going to sit here until I’m done with it. And at the age of 40, I have a lot of things I could have ruminate over. Right? So that’s the extreme number one. Extreme number two is I’m going to push down on this gas pedal and drive as fast as I can to see if I can distract myself from this rumination. Which both are options. Neither are great options. They wouldn’t necessarily be the best solution to your problem, but you could do that, right? I don’t like the extremes because sometimes especially being anxious, sometimes you need those extremes to give you the limits and then you can find that middle area, the gray area that makes it a little bit easier. Dr. Tara Sanderson: I may not be willing to ruminate on all of my things from the last 40 years, but maybe I’m gonna give myself a couple of minutes to ruminate and see how it feels. That’s a much more gentle in the middle option. Maybe I think about I’m going to call a friend and talk it through with them and just make sure that I wasn’t crazy when I said such and such. You know, in that conversation, that’s four options. Yeah. Maybe a fifth option is that I’m going to turn on the radio and listen to it pretty loud and see if I can just kind of kick myself out of the funk for a minute. Any of those options are fine. And coming up with two extremes and three middle ground gives you some room to kind of figure out what’s going to help me really in this moment? Is processing it through with a friend going to help? Is purposely ruminating more gonna help? What’s really going to do the best for me at this point? Gabe Howard: And then this all leads us to the last letter in the SOBER acronym, which is R. Dr. Tara Sanderson: The almighty R, which is Response. Choose one. And the truth is, it doesn’t matter which one you choose. You can absolutely push the fuddled out and do that part of it. And I always like to remind people there are consequences to all actions. So you also may get a ticket and that may be an unintended consequence of you trying to deal with your rumination. But that’s a possibility. You totally could do that. Any of the options are fine, because if they don’t work, if they don’t do what you were wanting them to, you can always go back and pick some more options and try again. There is nothing permanent about decisions that we make in the area of trying to navigate through some of these ruminations or any other choices. And I think it’s really important that we give ourselves some grace in that. To say like, hey, I’m going to choose this one and see how it works out. If it doesn’t work, I’m going to go back to the drawing board and pick something else. Gabe Howard: We will be back after these messages. Announcer: Want real, no-boundaries talk about mental health issues from those who live it? Listen to the Not Crazy podcast co-hosted by a lady with depression and a guy with bipolar. Visit Psych Central.com/NotCrazy or subscribe to Not Crazy 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. Gabe Howard: And we are back speaking with Dr. Tara Sanderson. When we look at SOBER as a tool, as a tool that we can use, what barriers might come up to folks trying to use this tool effectively? Dr. Tara Sanderson: It’s super important that they do that, people do that all five letters. You can skip the breathing. But I just noticed that when I skip the breathing, I don’t really get clarity on those five options. I have a lot of people who just skip the observe part of it and they go from stopped to options. That doesn’t really work as well either, because you haven’t figured out the core of what’s going on. So remembering the acronym is kind of step one and then doing all the steps is the other barrier. Gabe Howard: And how do people overcome that? Dr. Tara Sanderson: While I have them write it down. I’m a big fan of doing it themselves. So when I’m in session with folks, I don’t have a worksheet or a handout for this method. I make them take out a piece of paper or use the journal that they bring along to therapy and say, we’re gonna or I’m going to walk you through writing this down for yourself and then we’re gonna practice it a bunch. And that really does help because it’s in their own handwriting. They’re not taking home a piece of paper and throwing it on the counter. Like they did it themselves. They’ve kind of taken that tactile response to getting something new in their head. And then we practice it a lot. I recommend that people practice this on every decision you make throughout a full day. Everything from, am I going to put my seatbelt on in the car? To am I having cornflakes or oatmeal for breakfast? To do I go pick up the kids from school today? Like that’s a decision you actually get to make. I will also say please pick up your children from school, but you get choices in that. And I think that the more we recognize that every single thing is a choice from do I brush my teeth today, to taking a shower, to wearing a seat belt, to driving the speed limit. And when we notice and make those intentionally, the more we are able to then make other decisions intentionally. Like, am I going to sit here and perseverate on something that happened in second grade? No, I am not. That is not how I intentionally want to use my time today. So I’m going to choose to do something different. Gabe Howard: It’s interesting that you pointed out that so many of the decisions that we feel are requirements, we have to, are actually choices that we make. Now, as you pointed out, we absolutely want to care for our kids in the best manner possible, but we could choose not to. And in fact, we are aware that some people do choose not to. Does looking at every choice as an intentional choice give us more power and help with things like anxiety and ruminations? Or is it all a big distraction? It seems really weird to say to most people, hey, you don’t have to pick up your kids from school if you don’t want to. Dr. Tara Sanderson: I think that it isn’t necessarily all about power, but it is all about being focused on intention. And when I think about not picking up my kids from school, well, I don’t actually have kiddos. But when I think Gabe Howard: Me neither. Dr. Tara Sanderson: About it and picking up the kids from school. I think about the option isn’t I just leave them there necessarily because you come up with five options. One could be I leave them at school forever and I’m never picking them up. That’s an extreme option. Totally a choice, but probably not our best. Right? Another one is, you know, I call my neighbor and see if my neighbor will pick them up or ask someone from the school to drop them off or call the school and tell them to take the bus, because I don’t want to leave what I’m doing to go get them. Those aren’t abusive or neglectful or terrible choices. They’re just choices. And I think giving ourselves the freedom to say things can just be choices. And I have options, decreases the anxiety and decreases the pressure that we are supposed to be doing something else. Like I’m supposed to be a perfect parent or a perfect wife, or I’m supposed to be doing enough, and that if I don’t do enough, I’m not meaningful or valuable or worthy. And giving yourself the freedom to say, no, it’s all just choices, and I have options, gives us some just peace. Gabe Howard: I absolutely love that. Dr. Sanderson, I’d kinda like to flip the script for a moment. You know, we’ve been talking about how other people can use this SOBER tool to make their lives better. But how do you personally use this tool to improve your outcomes in your life? Dr. Tara Sanderson: So in the book, I talk a little bit about my love of food. I definitely have a tender relationship with anything sweet or bready or salty. Really, it’s kind of like all food. So SOBER has helped me so much in really identifying my connection with why is this food what I crave right now? So there are some foods that make you feel warm and fuzzy. There are some foods that you eat when you’re excited. There’s food you eat when you’re bored and using SOBER has given me an opportunity to really assess in those moments and not go overboard when I’m not doing that purposely. A big bowl of popcorn I feel like I’m pretty justified in going overboard on when I’m watching movies with friends or doing a big like gathering. But eating an entire bag of mini chocolate chips is probably not ever really in my best benefit. And yet I totally would do it if I’m not being intentional in that moment. Having a handful every now and then or adding some into your mouth while you’re baking chocolate chip cookies, it’s like those are all kind of normal-ish things. But when I get on autopilot and I start having a lot of emotional feelings, especially around rumination of choices that I’ve made, sometimes that handful becomes twelve handfuls if I’m not being intentional. So giving myself permission to just say like, hey, I’m noticing that I’m feeling really tempted right now about a decision I made or about a conversation I had. Dr. Tara Sanderson: And what I want is to just dive into the mini chocolate chips in my freezer. Is that really what’s best for me? Let’s take a few deep breaths with that. Let’s do some options. Do I get out the bag and just go at it? Do I get out a little handful of them and put it back away and walk away? Do I completely avoid it by going for a walk and see if I can get through this feeling without having to eat it? You know, I try and think of a bunch of options and then I pick one. And sometimes it is absolutely I am willing to navigate this from the perspective of I’m just going to eat as many chocolate chips as I want and I will stand there and eat them. And during that process, my job is to keep checking in with myself. Is this still what I want to do? Are there other options that would make me feel better? Where am I at? Because I know that I can always U-turn after five handfuls. I can U-turn and say I’m done. I don’t need to eat the whole bag. After one handful. I can U-turn after no handfuls. I can. It’s a really nice tool that I use. Just to try and keep myself in check about what I’m eating and how that’s impacting me, not just physically, but emotionally. Gabe Howard: Thank you so much for sharing that. And of course, now I desperately want chocolate chip cookies. So thank you for that. Dr. Tara Sanderson: You’re welcome. Gabe Howard: Dr. Sanderson, thank you so much for talking to us about ruminations. It’s really incredible and it’s really helpful. Now, your book is called Too Much, Not Enough. Can you tell us where we can find it? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Sure. So my book is called Too much, Not enough: A guide to decreasing anxiety and creating balance through intentional choices. It is on Amazon as hardback, paperback, and as an e-book. And coming soon it will be an audio book. It’s being recorded right now. I’m so excited. Gabe Howard: That is very cool, and Dr. Sanderson, do you have your own website where people can go and check you out and interact with you? Dr. Tara Sanderson: I do. So my website is just DrTaraSanderson.com. So it is DrTaraSanderson.com. And there’s a link to my book, and there is a link to my practice and you can find out all about me. Gabe Howard: That is very cool. Well, thank you so much again for being on the show. We really appreciated having you. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Thank you again. It’s been wonderful. Gabe Howard: And thank you, everybody, for listening. And we’re excited to announce that The Psych Central Podcast travels well. Do you want to make your next event or conference really excited? Meet me in person and have people interviewed by a professional moderator? And then the whole show will go live, extending the reach of your conference. Give us an e-mail at show@PsychCentral.com for pricing and information. And do you want to interact with the show? You can head over to PsychCentral.com/FB and then review us wherever you find us. Share us on social media. E-mail us to your friends. Remember, we don’t have a million dollar ad budget, so you are our best hope for getting information about mental health, psychology, and mental illness in to the hands of those who will benefit from it. And then finally, remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, simply by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. We’ll 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! Email us at show@psychcentral.com for details. 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 widely. View the full article
  8. Do you ever find yourself dwelling on something inconsequential that happened a long time ago? Are you still thinking about how badly you embarrassed yourself in front of Sally Sue in the second grade? Today’s guest has a method to help you stop! Sometimes reviewing past failures or setbacks can be healthy, a way to avoid making the mistake again. But when processing turns into ruminating, it is time to make a change. If you find yourself continually revisiting negative thoughts that just won’t go away, listen in as Dr. Tara Sanderson gives us some tips on how to stop ruminating once and for all! SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Ruminations and Worrying’ Podcast Episode Tara Sanderson is a licensed psychologist, author and clinical supervisor in Oregon. For over 20 years Tara has been helping people learn the skills to live their best lives. Using tools from cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, mindfulness and dialectical behavior therapy, she specializes in working with clients who struggle with perfectionism, overachieving, anxiety and depression. 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 Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Ruminations and Worrying’ 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 Dr. Tara Sanderson. For over 20 years, Tara has been helping people learn the skills to live their best lives, specifically specializing in working with people who struggle with perfectionism, overachieving anxiety and depression. She’s also the author of Too Much, Not Enough. Dr. Sanderson, welcome to the show. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here today. Gabe Howard: We’re really excited that you’re here, too, because anxiety is kind of a big topic. It’s something that really is discussed among people who really don’t spend a lot of time discussing mental health. I’ve kind of noticed, especially in the last 15 years, that people are willing to say that they’re anxious more than they would be willing to say that they’re having a mental health crisis or even depression. It’s sort of becoming a little bit mainstream. Is that what you’re seeing? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Absolutely. And I think that anxiety is something that is so relatable to everyone. We’ve all felt that nervous feeling in our belly and now can start extrapolating out to noticing when I have that nervous feeling and I’m not going onstage or I have that nervous feeling when I’m not going into a weird situation. It becomes much more noticeable. And I think everybody is starting to get that close comparison to what other people are feeling. Gabe Howard: What I specifically like speaking purely as a mental health advocate is that we used to call this like nerves or butterflies, and now we’re starting to use words like, I’m anxious. I have anxiety. Do you think that’s a good move to actually call it by its actual name rather than sort of speak about it in like whispers and code? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Absolutely. I think that one of the benefits of that is it normalizes it for everyone. That we can have this global word that we all know kind of what it means. I think there is a little bit of a con in the way that like some people say they have anxiety or experiencing it in one way and other people then compare themselves to it. And there’s this weird you-don’t-have-anxiety-like-I-have-anxiety kind of thing. But I think that globally, everybody sharing that they’re really struggling is a good thing. Gabe Howard: Whenever people compare their symptoms with one another and do that, I have it worse than you have it, etc. I always call that the suffering Olympics. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Oh. Gabe Howard: It’s like, what difference does it make, what level we’re experiencing it? We really should be focusing on the idea that we’re both experiencing it. I lead a lot of support groups and I say, really, how does how does figuring out which one of you are worse off help the greater good? How does it help you get better? And that usually refocuses it when it comes to anxiety. You did touch on a point that there’s a big difference between being nervous about maybe taking the bar exam and actually suffering from anxiety. Can you sort of tell us the difference between just general nervousness and actual anxiety? Dr. Tara Sanderson: The way I like to break it down is the actual anxiety, when you look at the DSM diagnosis, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual — that is how we kind of define each of the different disorders — is that anxiety, generalized anxiety, is a pervasive issue. It’s not, it doesn’t just affect you in one area. It affects you all over the place. There are these thought processes and ways that they think about things that are different from folks who are just struggling with getting ready to take the bar exam or going on stage and doing a presentation. One of the areas that really impacts people I think the most is the idea of rumination. And that’s the area that we think about things in a negative way over and over and over again to kind of beat ourselves up over it. Gabe Howard: And that’s one of the focuses of this show when I was doing the research. It was a little bit funny because I was like, well, yeah, I know about ruminating on things. I know exactly what that is. And then I realized that, wait, that’s like as far as I got, I know what it means or feels like to ruminate on something. But but that’s really it. I could not define the word rumination. What are ruminations? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Ruminations are those deep, dark, negative-oriented thoughts that just won’t go away. When I think about things that just won’t go away, I think that they are also reinforced by ourselves. So it’s that idea that I think I’ve seen a meme about it where somebody is lying in bed and they’re getting ready to go to sleep and they’re like, oh, my day was wonderful. And then all of a sudden their eyes pop open and they say, yeah, but do you remember what you said to Sally Sue in second grade? Wasn’t that terrible? And then they stay awake all night thinking about what they said to Sally Sue in second grade. Those deep, dark things that we reinforce within ourselves, probably unknowingly and probably unwillingly. But they just stay there and they keep like going over and over again in your head. Gabe Howard: I really love the example of Sally Sue from the second grade, and I think that a lot of people who have anxiety issues ruminate on conversations that they had earlier in the day and we just replay them over and over again, well, if I would have said this, would this have happened or if I would have said this, would this… It’s almost like we’re rehashing the same conversation or argument or disagreement or problem over and over again. And I’m guessing this probably has no benefit to us. In the example of Sally Sue, it kept you up all night. It didn’t actually resolve anything. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Correct. And I think that’s the big difference between rumination and processing, because therapists do talk to their clients about we need to process through this stuff and processing is all about a goal of getting to acceptance and understanding and potentially moving towards growth. And rumination is all about just kind of beating yourself up over and over and over again and again, not probably on purpose. But that’s just how it rolls. And it’s so important to, like, differentiate when you’re thinking about how to get through a problem. Ruminations keeps you stuck in it like a tar pit and processing gets you moving forward. Once you’ve accepted it and get kind of comfortable with it. Gabe Howard: Would it be fair to say that maybe one of the differences is the goal? Like, I know that when I ruminate on something, the goal is to retroactively win. I’m trying to make it better and make myself feel better about what happened. But when I’m processing something, my goal is to make it better. And it always includes steps for the future. Like, tomorrow I’m going to sit down and apologize or I’m going to ask this follow-up question or, you know, maybe I did come off a little heavy-handed. It’s much more practical and goal oriented and future-based, whereas ruminations seems, for me at least, to be past-based. I’m going to fix it retroactively. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Yes, absolutely, rumination is all about the retroactive, it’s all about the past and it’s all about almost reliving it in a way, whether it’s reliving it to win or whether it’s reliving it to just do something different, whether it’s reliving it to feel better about yourself, that never actually works. I mean, because we can’t go back and make any changes in the past. I can’t do anything about Sally Sue. Gabe Howard: Who is generally affected by ruminations? Is it just people with diagnosable anxiety disorders or does it expand out? Dr. Tara Sanderson: I think it expands out, I think everybody has experienced those moments where they go, dang it, I wish I had said this differently or, you know, or if I could go back and do this differently, I would. And I think that rumination, the true part of it that really impacts people, is when it goes deep into that dark thoughts of it: I’m stupid because I didn’t say this or I can’t believe that I’m such an idiot because I did this this way thinking, gosh, I wish I had done this differently. It is some good past talk that you can grow from if you want to, or it can lead into rumination. I think anxiety folks feel this. I think depressive folks feel this. I think that people who struggle with OCD feel this in the deeper, darker ways where it just becomes, I’m bad because… I’m terrible because… I shouldn’t go out in public because. Gabe Howard: And I think anybody who has ruminated on anything is probably asking the question now. OK, this is perfect. I understand what you’re saying. I’m agreeing with you. I do this. Now, how do I deal with it? How do I stop it? How do I get over it? Dr. Tara Sanderson: That is such a great question, and I think one that I see all the time in my therapy clients is they want the answer to this question and they want it to be awesome and easy and let’s just do it. And I always have to tell them that I may be disclosing that Santa Claus is not real. They need to prepare themselves. It’s not going to be easy. You’re changing a thought process that has probably been in your head for a long time. And during that process of changing, you have to do things differently, you have to notice things. So the first step is stopping, stopping what you’re doing. The second you notice that you are ruminating again. You have to stop and you have to observe what’s going on. You have to look outside and inside. I use a method called SOBER. So the first two parts of the acronym are S and O for Stop and Observe. And I think that those two are the very first key elements to making a change in rumination. When you find yourself ruminating, stopping what you’re doing and observing what’s going on outside, what’s prompting this? What’s going on inside, that’s prompting this, what am I feeling? Where did I go? I noticed that a lot of times when I ruminate, I’ll be driving somewhere and I’m on autopilot in the drive like I’m driving home from work or whatever and I’m on autopilot. So my brain just starts going into a direction where sometimes I’m not an active participant in where it goes. And when I notice like, wow, I’m on autopilot. So I let my brain go in this direction instead of being purposeful about what I want to think about and where I want to grow and what I want to do. That’s when I can start noticing like, oh, when I get on autopilot. This happens. So I need to not go on autopilot unless I am prepared to work on some of these other things. Gabe Howard: When you said that, you know, stop and observe, the first thing that immediately came to mind was that famous Bob Newhart Mad TV sketch where Bob Newhart plays a therapist and a person comes in and tells their problem that they’re having. And Bob Newhart as the therapist says, stop it. That’s all you have to do. Your therapy is over. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Absolutely. That’ll be five dollars, please. And I don’t give change. Gabe Howard: Yeah. Exactly. So. Right. And I don’t give change. And on one hand, as somebody who’s been through a lot of therapy, I remember seeing that and thinking, oh, my God, that I should just stop it and I’ll be fine. And for like a split nanosecond I was like, this is excellent. I no longer need to go to therapy because I’m just going to stop it. But that’s as funny as that was, and as much as I absolutely adore Bob Newhart’s comedy, that’s not practical. Right? So I imagine that there’s probably a step like how do you stop and observe, especially when maybe you’re not even aware that you’re ruminating? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Absolutely, and I think that’s the key to this whole process, is now that, you know, the definition of ruminating, which is to continue to beat yourself up over things, to think about all these dark negative things pretty much involuntarily, that when you notice that you do that, which is the whole first key, is that you have to notice it. You have to notice when it’s happening. Then you go to step one, which is stop. And the part of that is to really just be clear with yourself that you’re not saying, gosh, you’re so terrible, stop doing that. The thought is more, hey, I’m noticing that I’m doing this. And now let’s move on to observing. Why? Where’s this coming from? It’s asking a new question. It’s being curious rather than it being beat myself up over it again, because now I’m doing this thing that I shouldn’t be doing. Gabe Howard: And then that moves us on to B in the acronym SOBER. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Correct. So B is all about Breathing. I’m a big fan of breathing five times and the breathing five times gives you an opportunity to take space from what you’ve seen yourself do, which is that ruminating. You’ve observed why it’s happening and giving yourself some space to get ready to move on to the next step. The breathing just gives you a moment to really connect with yourself. I’m a big fan of some active breathing, so you can just take five big, deep breaths. I tend to when I take five big, big, deep breaths, tend to hyperventilate a little bit because I just want to move on to the next thing. So doing active breathing, like tracing the lines on my hands as a part of the process of breathing. So breathing in as I cross one line and breathing out when I cross the other helps me to slow it down a little bit and really gives me the space to sink in to, hey, I’m going to do some work with myself in this moment and I need to make sure that I’m being attentive and purposeful in that. Gabe Howard: So we have Stop, Observe, and then Breathing and then now we’re to E! Dr. Tara Sanderson: E is Examine the options. I’d like for people to come up with five options to dealing with whatever is going on at that moment. So in this case we’re talking about ruminations. So they’ve got five options. Two extreme options and three regular ones. So an extreme option with rumination would be I’m going to sit here and reminisce about absolutely everything I’ve ever done in my entire life that has been terrible. And I’m going to purposely do that and I’m just going to sit here until I’m done with it. And at the age of 40, I have a lot of things I could have ruminate over. Right? So that’s the extreme number one. Extreme number two is I’m going to push down on this gas pedal and drive as fast as I can to see if I can distract myself from this rumination. Which both are options. Neither are great options. They wouldn’t necessarily be the best solution to your problem, but you could do that, right? I don’t like the extremes because sometimes especially being anxious, sometimes you need those extremes to give you the limits and then you can find that middle area, the gray area that makes it a little bit easier. Dr. Tara Sanderson: I may not be willing to ruminate on all of my things from the last 40 years, but maybe I’m gonna give myself a couple of minutes to ruminate and see how it feels. That’s a much more gentle in the middle option. Maybe I think about I’m going to call a friend and talk it through with them and just make sure that I wasn’t crazy when I said such and such. You know, in that conversation, that’s four options. Yeah. Maybe a fifth option is that I’m going to turn on the radio and listen to it pretty loud and see if I can just kind of kick myself out of the funk for a minute. Any of those options are fine. And coming up with two extremes and three middle ground gives you some room to kind of figure out what’s going to help me really in this moment? Is processing it through with a friend going to help? Is purposely ruminating more gonna help? What’s really going to do the best for me at this point? Gabe Howard: And then this all leads us to the last letter in the SOBER acronym, which is R. Dr. Tara Sanderson: The almighty R, which is Response. Choose one. And the truth is, it doesn’t matter which one you choose. You can absolutely push the fuddled out and do that part of it. And I always like to remind people there are consequences to all actions. So you also may get a ticket and that may be an unintended consequence of you trying to deal with your rumination. But that’s a possibility. You totally could do that. Any of the options are fine, because if they don’t work, if they don’t do what you were wanting them to, you can always go back and pick some more options and try again. There is nothing permanent about decisions that we make in the area of trying to navigate through some of these ruminations or any other choices. And I think it’s really important that we give ourselves some grace in that. To say like, hey, I’m going to choose this one and see how it works out. If it doesn’t work, I’m going to go back to the drawing board and pick something else. Gabe Howard: We will be back after these messages. Announcer: Want real, no-boundaries talk about mental health issues from those who live it? Listen to the Not Crazy podcast co-hosted by a lady with depression and a guy with bipolar. Visit Psych Central.com/NotCrazy or subscribe to Not Crazy 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. Gabe Howard: And we are back speaking with Dr. Tara Sanderson. When we look at SOBER as a tool, as a tool that we can use, what barriers might come up to folks trying to use this tool effectively? Dr. Tara Sanderson: It’s super important that they do that, people do that all five letters. You can skip the breathing. But I just noticed that when I skip the breathing, I don’t really get clarity on those five options. I have a lot of people who just skip the observe part of it and they go from stopped to options. That doesn’t really work as well either, because you haven’t figured out the core of what’s going on. So remembering the acronym is kind of step one and then doing all the steps is the other barrier. Gabe Howard: And how do people overcome that? Dr. Tara Sanderson: While I have them write it down. I’m a big fan of doing it themselves. So when I’m in session with folks, I don’t have a worksheet or a handout for this method. I make them take out a piece of paper or use the journal that they bring along to therapy and say, we’re gonna or I’m going to walk you through writing this down for yourself and then we’re gonna practice it a bunch. And that really does help because it’s in their own handwriting. They’re not taking home a piece of paper and throwing it on the counter. Like they did it themselves. They’ve kind of taken that tactile response to getting something new in their head. And then we practice it a lot. I recommend that people practice this on every decision you make throughout a full day. Everything from, am I going to put my seatbelt on in the car? To am I having cornflakes or oatmeal for breakfast? To do I go pick up the kids from school today? Like that’s a decision you actually get to make. I will also say please pick up your children from school, but you get choices in that. And I think that the more we recognize that every single thing is a choice from do I brush my teeth today, to taking a shower, to wearing a seat belt, to driving the speed limit. And when we notice and make those intentionally, the more we are able to then make other decisions intentionally. Like, am I going to sit here and perseverate on something that happened in second grade? No, I am not. That is not how I intentionally want to use my time today. So I’m going to choose to do something different. Gabe Howard: It’s interesting that you pointed out that so many of the decisions that we feel are requirements, we have to, are actually choices that we make. Now, as you pointed out, we absolutely want to care for our kids in the best manner possible, but we could choose not to. And in fact, we are aware that some people do choose not to. Does looking at every choice as an intentional choice give us more power and help with things like anxiety and ruminations? Or is it all a big distraction? It seems really weird to say to most people, hey, you don’t have to pick up your kids from school if you don’t want to. Dr. Tara Sanderson: I think that it isn’t necessarily all about power, but it is all about being focused on intention. And when I think about not picking up my kids from school, well, I don’t actually have kiddos. But when I think Gabe Howard: Me neither. Dr. Tara Sanderson: About it and picking up the kids from school. I think about the option isn’t I just leave them there necessarily because you come up with five options. One could be I leave them at school forever and I’m never picking them up. That’s an extreme option. Totally a choice, but probably not our best. Right? Another one is, you know, I call my neighbor and see if my neighbor will pick them up or ask someone from the school to drop them off or call the school and tell them to take the bus, because I don’t want to leave what I’m doing to go get them. Those aren’t abusive or neglectful or terrible choices. They’re just choices. And I think giving ourselves the freedom to say things can just be choices. And I have options, decreases the anxiety and decreases the pressure that we are supposed to be doing something else. Like I’m supposed to be a perfect parent or a perfect wife, or I’m supposed to be doing enough, and that if I don’t do enough, I’m not meaningful or valuable or worthy. And giving yourself the freedom to say, no, it’s all just choices, and I have options, gives us some just peace. Gabe Howard: I absolutely love that. Dr. Sanderson, I’d kinda like to flip the script for a moment. You know, we’ve been talking about how other people can use this SOBER tool to make their lives better. But how do you personally use this tool to improve your outcomes in your life? Dr. Tara Sanderson: So in the book, I talk a little bit about my love of food. I definitely have a tender relationship with anything sweet or bready or salty. Really, it’s kind of like all food. So SOBER has helped me so much in really identifying my connection with why is this food what I crave right now? So there are some foods that make you feel warm and fuzzy. There are some foods that you eat when you’re excited. There’s food you eat when you’re bored and using SOBER has given me an opportunity to really assess in those moments and not go overboard when I’m not doing that purposely. A big bowl of popcorn I feel like I’m pretty justified in going overboard on when I’m watching movies with friends or doing a big like gathering. But eating an entire bag of mini chocolate chips is probably not ever really in my best benefit. And yet I totally would do it if I’m not being intentional in that moment. Having a handful every now and then or adding some into your mouth while you’re baking chocolate chip cookies, it’s like those are all kind of normal-ish things. But when I get on autopilot and I start having a lot of emotional feelings, especially around rumination of choices that I’ve made, sometimes that handful becomes twelve handfuls if I’m not being intentional. So giving myself permission to just say like, hey, I’m noticing that I’m feeling really tempted right now about a decision I made or about a conversation I had. Dr. Tara Sanderson: And what I want is to just dive into the mini chocolate chips in my freezer. Is that really what’s best for me? Let’s take a few deep breaths with that. Let’s do some options. Do I get out the bag and just go at it? Do I get out a little handful of them and put it back away and walk away? Do I completely avoid it by going for a walk and see if I can get through this feeling without having to eat it? You know, I try and think of a bunch of options and then I pick one. And sometimes it is absolutely I am willing to navigate this from the perspective of I’m just going to eat as many chocolate chips as I want and I will stand there and eat them. And during that process, my job is to keep checking in with myself. Is this still what I want to do? Are there other options that would make me feel better? Where am I at? Because I know that I can always U-turn after five handfuls. I can U-turn and say I’m done. I don’t need to eat the whole bag. After one handful. I can U-turn after no handfuls. I can. It’s a really nice tool that I use. Just to try and keep myself in check about what I’m eating and how that’s impacting me, not just physically, but emotionally. Gabe Howard: Thank you so much for sharing that. And of course, now I desperately want chocolate chip cookies. So thank you for that. Dr. Tara Sanderson: You’re welcome. Gabe Howard: Dr. Sanderson, thank you so much for talking to us about ruminations. It’s really incredible and it’s really helpful. Now, your book is called Too Much, Not Enough. Can you tell us where we can find it? Dr. Tara Sanderson: Sure. So my book is called Too much, Not enough: A guide to decreasing anxiety and creating balance through intentional choices. It is on Amazon as hardback, paperback, and as an e-book. And coming soon it will be an audio book. It’s being recorded right now. I’m so excited. Gabe Howard: That is very cool, and Dr. Sanderson, do you have your own website where people can go and check you out and interact with you? Dr. Tara Sanderson: I do. So my website is just DrTaraSanderson.com. So it is DrTaraSanderson.com. And there’s a link to my book, and there is a link to my practice and you can find out all about me. Gabe Howard: That is very cool. Well, thank you so much again for being on the show. We really appreciated having you. Dr. Tara Sanderson: Thank you again. It’s been wonderful. Gabe Howard: And thank you, everybody, for listening. And we’re excited to announce that The Psych Central Podcast travels well. Do you want to make your next event or conference really excited? Meet me in person and have people interviewed by a professional moderator? And then the whole show will go live, extending the reach of your conference. Give us an e-mail at show@PsychCentral.com for pricing and information. And do you want to interact with the show? You can head over to PsychCentral.com/FB and then review us wherever you find us. Share us on social media. E-mail us to your friends. Remember, we don’t have a million dollar ad budget, so you are our best hope for getting information about mental health, psychology, and mental illness in to the hands of those who will benefit from it. And then finally, remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, simply by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. We’ll 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! Email us at show@psychcentral.com for details. 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 widely. View the full article
  9. It’s almost Halloween. Corn stalks, jack o’ lanterns, and witches hats adorn shop windows and every corridor of the local grocery. Pumpkins spill out of carts at local farm stands, often with a few carved with toothy grins. Front porches and lawns sport scarecrows, spider webs, and a skeleton or two. Some communities hold rag-tag parades where costumed kids take to the street or local mall for Halloween fun. Classrooms may no longer have parties with cupcakes and candy as they did in the parents’ generation, but many still do recognize the season in some way. It’s exciting. It’s fun! And yet. There are children for whom Halloween is fraught with anxiety. Anxious or emotionally sensitive children and children on the autism spectrum can get stressed and distressed by the season. Such children don’t like the unfamiliar. Things that go bump in the night are terrifying, not exciting. They may be afraid of the skeleton hanging from the neighbor’s porch. Grinning pumpkins might give them nightmares. Masks can be terrifying. Treats may be regarded with suspicion. And costumes? For some children, dressing up is way out of their comfort zone. If you are a parent of such a child, this isn’t new information. Nor is it new information that your child needs help to manage whatever is novel. But it is only human to minimize or forget at times, especially if we love Halloween ourselves; especially if the sensitive child has siblings who are excited and delighted with the whole scary thing. Here are some friendly reminders of ways to make Halloween manageable for kids who wish they could skip right over October: Talk with your child. Be empathetic about their fears. They are certainly not alone if they find it scary to think about spirits of the dead coming for a visit. Many cultures celebrate a holiday that is much like American Halloween. They honor or appease the dead with special activities and foods. Older children might enjoy learning about Dia de Los Muertos (All Souls Day) in Mexico, Latin America and Spain; Guy Fawkes Day in England; The Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong; or All Saints’ Day in Italy, as only a few examples. There are many good children’s books to help you. Decorate together. You can detox frightening Halloween decorations by creating them together. Take the child’s lead when carving a pumpkin. Don’t be surprised if they want to make a friendly one. Make pictures together for the front door. One 5-year-old boy I know made a big picture of a beaver. I asked him why. “It’s the scariest thing I can think of,” he said. When I asked how to make it less scary, he said he could make it smile. So he did. Practice: Practice may not make perfect, but it does make things familiar. Role-play the usual doorway ritual with your child: Knock on your own door together and say “Trick or Treat.” Pretend you are getting a treat. Say, “thank you.” Then switch roles and have them practice handing out a piece of candy and admiring a costume. Costumes: If your child is uncomfortable with unfamiliar clothes or costumes, modify a favorite shirt or jacket. One of my daughters couldn’t stand clothes she considered too scratchy. Tags in a shirt could cause a meltdown. For her first time trick or treating at age 3, we pinned a tail made of a stuffed sock on the back of her favorite jacket and glued paper ears to a headband. Voila! She was a cat. She loved it. Go along: Give the anxious child an honorable way to accept adult supervision by stating safety concerns. In many places, it is only a sad truth that it is no longer wise for kids to be out alone at night. The solution in many communities is for parents and kids to travel in groups of three or four families. Parents stay out on the sidewalk chatting while the kids go to doors. If a child gets upset, that family just peels off to go home. Consider alternatives: If you know your child will be overwhelmed by going out at night, attend a community sponsored party or event instead. If your child gets upset, you can easily leave. If darkness isn’t the issue but unfamiliar people are, go only to the homes of people your child knows. Little kids don’t need to cover the whole neighborhood. They may be ready to go home after only a few stops. Manners: It’s likely your child will get treats they don’t like. Explain that it’s polite to accept them and say “thank you” anyway. One of my kids was terribly confused by this when he was 5. “But saying thank you when I don’t want something isn’t honest,” he protested. So we had to have a talk about the difference between lying and saying a little white lie to make someone else feel good. Social skills don’t always make perfect sense. It’s almost impossible to shield sensitive children from Halloween; especially when so many adults embrace the holiday. (179 million Americans take part in Halloween parties and are projected to spend $9 billion on costumes, candy, and decorations.) As a culture, Americans see trick or treating as the birthright of every child. But one of the truisms of parenting is that what everyone else seems to be doing may not be what our own child needs or even wants. With some mindfulness, we can make Halloween a positive holiday for even our most sensitive child. View the full article
  10. The first time I learned about internal interference was when I took a Public Speaking class in college. That was not the first time I experienced internal interference, of course. I’d had the running, internal dialogue most of my life. But now, I had a name for it. And I learned it’s actually quite common, especially for situations like public speaking class because of the almost universal fear and panic many people feel when faced with this task. Interference is any kind of barrier of distraction in the process of communication. This can be external or internal. External interference would be anything in the external environment, a loud radio, an airplane going overhead, or that awful high-pitched feedback you sometimes get when a microphone is too close to the speaker. This type of noise can be really distracting. It can make it really difficult to maintain your focus during a one-on-one conversation, much less a speech in front of a crowd. Interference can also be internal and much of the time this distracting buzz within your own mind is fueled by nervousness or fear surrounding what it is you are trying to communicate. Internal interference is not always rooted in stress or fear and it can happen in other contexts outside of public speaking. If you’re having a casual conversation with a friend and they ask you a question, but you realize you can’t answer it because you’ve been distracted by your own internal dialogue, for instance. Or, if you are trying to listen to music, but your mind keeps coming back to some worry you had that day, consuming your thoughts and attention. For someone that struggles with anxiety, internal interference can take the form of self-doubt, concerns about how you are being perceived, or desperate worry about when this uncomfortable situation will end. This type of interference can be extremely challenging to overcome, particularly if the situation has already moved you into a heightened state of anxiety. Some people may be more susceptible to internal interference than others. It is common knowledge that personalities that are more introverted tend to experience a rich interior life. While personalities that are more extroverted experience their highest level of engagement externally, within the presence and interactions of others. It’s true that qualities like introversion and extroversion exist on a spectrum, so maybe you are not entirely one or other. But for someone who leans toward the introverted range, they may naturally spend more time with their internal thoughts than someone who is extroverted and thus could be more easily distracted by them. But just knowing that such a thing as internal interference exists and that almost everyone suffers from it at some point, in some context, is helpful for learning to manage your own ability to focus despite distractions. The key is to practice maintaining your focus. If your interference is stress or anxiety related, before you can practice focus, you must learn ways to ground yourself and calm yourself from the stress that has triggered your internal interference. Taking a deep breath, counting to ten, or repeating a personal mantra are all ways to help stop the cycle of adrenaline and bring your body and mind to a place calm enough where you can start to manage your focus. I have found it helpful to manage my focus if I can bring my attention back to something outside of myself. If I am making a presentation, I try to focus on the information I want to convey. If I am contributing to a group discussion, I try to focus on being helpful. This helps to remove the focus from myself — my own thoughts and fears — and onto the task at hand. It brings me into the present moment, as opposed to future projections or concerns of how this will all be evaluated, by others or myself. As with any skill, maintaining focus takes practice. Through practice, though uncomfortable as it may be, you grow in confidence in your ability to face challenges of this type. Meditation is a great technique for developing iron-clad focus. If you struggle with internal interference, try practicing extending your focus everyday, just a little bit, in any context you start to feel distracted from the task at hand. View the full article
  11. Most of us are pretty familiar with how anxiety feels in our body. When you have anxious thoughts, your body responds with a tightening in the stomach, nausea, gas, heartburn, and indigestion. The connection between your brain and your gastrointestinal tract goes the other way as well. If your digestive system is disrupted, it can send signals to your brain that may cause you to become anxious. This bidirectional connection is called the gut-brain axis. We are still learning a lot about the digestive system’s effect on the body and the mind, but what is coming to light through scientific research is that your gut is truly a center of immunity, mental agility, and vitality. Taking the time to foster a healthy gut is a great way to improve digestive issues, emotional and mental ailments, and overall health. How to Support a Healthy Gut Your digestive tract is full of trillions of microorganisms. These live organisms create an environment, not unlike a climate system on planet earth, in your intestines. This internal ecosystem is referred to as the gut microbiome, and plays a crucial role in how the body functions. The health of this system guides the immune system, delivers important nutrients and contributes to healthy brain function. There are a lot of reasons your gut microbiome can become imbalanced. Diet, lifestyle, genetics, and environment can all contribute to gut health. A stressful period of time or a shift in diet for a few days can throw the fragile balance of this ecosystem off track. The good news is that balancing your gut microbiome may be as simple as changing your diet and lifestyle. From a dietary perspective, there are many foods that support a healthy gut microbiome that include: A wide variety of fruits (in moderation) and vegetables (in abundance) Whole grains Fibrous foods Fermented foods I almost always recommend probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are concentrations of beneficial microorganisms and prebiotics are a type of fiber that feeds probiotics. You can find both in either whole foods or in supplement form. Some food-based probiotics include: Kimchi Kefir Sauerkraut Miso Some food-based prebiotics include: Apples Flaxseed Dandelion greens Garlic Onions Jerusalem artichokes If you are taking probiotics or prebiotics in supplement form, be sure to consider the quality of the product that you are purchasing—does the manufacturer have integrity? Do they use organic ingredients? The efficacy and sourcing of the products are also important considerations. If you are feeling anxious, you may also want to eat grounding foods. Foods like root vegetables and hearty soups can help to ease your anxious energy and allow you to feel more centered. Yellow foods may also help alleviate anxiety. The third chakra, located in the solar plexus, guides empowerment and the gut. This chakra is ruled by the color yellow. Eating foods such as lemon, squash, mangoes, and bananas can help balance your energies in this chakra. How to Avoid an Unhealthy Gut The foods that wreak havoc in the gut tend to be common in the standard American diet, so it’s not so surprising that so many people suffer from the symptoms of gut imbalance. Foods that lead to a sick digestive system include: Fried foods Packaged foods Alcohol Refined sugars The consumption of too much of these foods can disturb the delicate ecosystem of the digestive system, causing your body to take a turn toward disease. It is possible that this imbalance will show up as chronic discomfort, chronic disease, or mental illnesses—including anxiety. It’s best to abstain from or moderate intake of these foods. Making mindful changes to your diet can undoubtedly support your gut health and effectively reduce symptoms like anxiety. It is also important to also look at any sort of wellness challenge from a holistic perspective. Sleep, exercise, hydration, and stress levels also play crucial roles in gut health for anxiety. A few approachable lifestyle changes that can help improve your gut health and reduce anxiety symptoms are: Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Exercise, walk, or do some sort of movement every day. Drink at least 100 ounces of water per day. Practice meditation, gratitude and relaxation techniques. Once you begin to make some of these small changes, start to notice how you feel. What are the sensation in your digestive system? Has your energy increased? What foods specifically work to ground your energy and which ones have the opposite effect? As you become more in tune with your body, you will become more empowered to take charge of your overall energy and well-being. This post courtesy of Spirituality & Health. View the full article
  12. Phobiasupportforum

    Podcast: Using Music to Spark Your Inner Hero

    Are you a badass? Do you want to be? We all know that music has the ability to affect mood, and today’s guest takes that to the next level by helping you craft a personalized playlist to evoke specific feelings and emotions. Kelly Orchard’s unique program could help you find your inner badass. Using music and a variety of psychotherapy tools, Kelly helps individuals and groups become more confident, more productive and most importantly, more badass. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Badass’ Podcast Episode Kelly Orchard is a professional speaker, author and trainer and Licensed Psychotherapist. In addition to more than 30 years in the business of broadcasting, she has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership. Kelly specializes in working with businesses and individuals in times of trouble, turmoil and transition,  by creating a positive and profitable workplace. Kelly’s strategic coaching and leadership tools are a reliable, repeatable process that has been proven in the workplace. Kelly is a powerful story-teller – a craft she honed with her three decades in radio as part of family-owned operation, FCC Compliance consulting, and visiting hundreds of broadcast facilities. She is the author of 5 books, including her Prescriptive Memoir, Heart Lessons and her series of self-help books, Kelly Orchard’s Apple A Day, for daily nourishment for wisdom, success and personal growth. 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 Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Music Hero’ 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: Welcome to the Psych Central Podcast, where each episode features guest experts discussing psychology and mental health in everyday plain 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 Kelly Orchard, who uses her psychology education and her experience in radio to help people create their own badass soundtrack. In her own words, she uses a CBT, solutions focused, positive psychology, and neuroscience approach to helping people live better lives. Kelly, welcome to the show. Kelly Orchard: Thank you so much, Gabe. I am thrilled to be here today. Gabe Howard: I am thrilled to have you because I think that you might be the first licensed psychologist that I’ve ever worked with, that named what she does “badass.” Just the word badass is right there and I love that. Can you tell me why you decided to do that? Kelly Orchard: Well, you know, my background is in radio. You know, you do a lot of stunts. You do a lot of things to create a buzz and get your name out there. And so, you know, becoming a psychotherapist, I do some stuff with my branding and whatnot, which we can talk about later. But I’ve always been called a badass. People have referred to me as, “Man, Kelly, you’re really badass.” I knew that it meant something significant. And so I decided, well, I want to work with badasses. So that’s how it first evolved, it was that I want to work with people who identify with that whole concept of themselves. Gabe Howard: One of the primary reasons that I wanted to have you on the show is because I wrote a book called Mental Illness Is an Asshole and I got a lot of pushback. You know, they’re like, oh, that that’s that, you know, this is this is serious. Why are you talking about that? Why are you saying ass? They were always kind of whispering. And my reasoning for that was because I felt very strongly that when people lay awake at night, they’re not worried about themselves in psychological terms. They’re not thinking medically. They’re thinking in the words that all of us use. Did that have an effect on you? I mean, because people do want to be badasses. They don’t necessarily know that they want to be emotionally well off. Kelly Orchard: That’s a good point. A really good point. But you’re right. Yes. A little bit of blowback when I first started toying with using the word. But the more I just kind of put it out there, anybody who had an adverse response to the word badass usually typically either, you know, the older generation and they’re used to you know, everything is polite and nicely worded. And you don’t use that kind of word. We can use my mom as an example. She’s very opposed to this. But she’s also in her 80s. Mostly, the response has been fantastic. I get where you’re coming from. It’s like Mental Illness is an Asshole. You’re absolutely right. So why not identify it that way? It is serious, but we can also kind of identify it enough in a way that we understand it. Gabe Howard: Does this open up avenues of conversation for you? Are people much more willing to discuss their issues or concerns or problems when they know that they’re on the road to becoming a badass vs. considering themselves in like a patient modality? Kelly Orchard: Well, you know, I work with two separate populations with that. In my psychotherapy practice, I do promote the badass acronym with my clients and they love it because they’re already in a program admitting that they have depression or anxiety. That’s primarily what I treat, along with comorbid issues like a long term chronic illness or stuff like that, maybe grief and loss. But in the general population, I would call that, like in the business community, yes, they love defining themselves as badass and being on the road to becoming licensed to be badass. When I say I certify badasses, they’re like, well, how can I get certified? I want that. It opens up the conversation on what it takes. Gabe Howard: Which is where we want to be. We want people talking about this more. Now, you said that badass was an acronym. Kelly Orchard: Yes. Gabe Howard: What does badass stand for? Kelly Orchard: I’ve taken a blend of some of these psychotherapeutic tools, you know, cognitive behavioral therapy, that’s the CBT, and some neuroscience, solution focused that I use and I put them into a program. So BADASS is an acronym. So the B stands for “Be bold, be brave, be confident, be yourself.” But if you don’t know yourself, how can you be yourself? So I teach different methods on how to really get in touch with who you are. Personality tests and temperament tests, and what are your strengths getting into your core values. Things like that. Gabe Howard: And that’s just the B. Kelly Orchard: That’s just the B, yes. Gabe Howard: That’s just the B. Kelly Orchard: That’s just the B. Gabe Howard: The B, and then we then we move on to the first A. Kelly Orchard: Right. Gabe Howard: Because there are a lot of A’s in here. Kelly Orchard: Well, there’s a couple of A’s. The first A stands for “Attitude is everything.” Because I’m sure, Gabe, you and I both know that a positive attitude will get you a whole lot further than a negative attitude. Gabe Howard: Agreed. Kelly Orchard: Part of what I teach is to flip that format on the negativity and increase positivity because your attitude determines your success. So there’s some tools that I use in how to create that positive attitude. Then the D in BADASS stands for “Decide.” Because, you know, that’s a big critical factor. You have to decide that you want to be well and you have to make that decision to do it. And so then we go through, you know, being determined and dedicated to the process and disciplined. Gabe Howard: And then we get to the next A, right? We get to A number two. Kelly Orchard: Yes, A number two that stands for “Awareness” or self-awareness. I teach a lot about emotional intelligence. Being aware of your surroundings, being aware of your feelings and your emotions at the moment, and then of course, acknowledging your weaknesses and your strengths. I also do a lot with “Amplify,” because I love to use music in my programs and then the first S is “Stay the course.” This is where a lot of us get hung up. If what we want doesn’t happen quickly enough, we give up. So this teaches you to stay the course and persevere and keep going. And I teach different ways how you can do that. And then, of course, the last S just means “Successfully BADASS.” So that’s the BADASS acronym. And so I have have a program that I just take them through the process so they get their license to be badass. You know, when you got your driver’s license, it felt pretty badass. Right? Gabe Howard: Yeah, I did. It felt awesome. Kelly Orchard: It did. It felt so awesome. So anybody can relate to that when you get your driver’s license. But the truth of the matter is that you’d already studied. You already knew the rules of the road and took the tests in order to pass to get your permit. Then you already got behind the wheel and practiced driving so that then you had some competence behind the wheel. So when you went to go take your license exam, you already knew all this information. But the license gave you credibility. It gave you confidence. So I take that whole concept into the badass program. You’re probably already badass because you’ve been through the storms of life. You’ve failed, you’ve lost something like a home, a job or a relationship. You stumble, you’ve had a health crisis, whatever it is. You’ve overcome it. You’ve gotten through it. And you’re badass because you’re not quitting. All you need is your license to give you the confidence and credibility to keep going. Gabe Howard: So let’s be practical for a moment. So let’s say that I contact you and I say, you know, I’m anxious or I’m depressed. There’s something in my life that I don’t like. And I’m intrigued by becoming a licensed badass. What is my step one? Kelly Orchard: The badass program starts out with I teach a workshop to get you certified, so that’s a badass certification class and think of it like CPR for your mental health, an instant attitude adjustment and then an injection of positivity to get you started. And that’s where I introduce and initially teach you how to create your badass soundtrack, which I already have used this several times and it’s proven to be really a great tool for an instant reduction of anxiety symptoms or improving the mood or confidence. So that’s where I usually start. Gabe Howard: What’s interesting to me is you don’t actually get a license to be a badass. I mean, the state doesn’t send you a laminated card that you can show police officers when you’re driving your Ferrari. But when you say you create a soundtrack that helps with symptom reduction, that’s not an analogy. Kelly Orchard: No. Gabe Howard: You’re actually utilizing music on on devices that we all have in our pockets right now to find songs that speak to the person that help them feel better. I think that everybody understands that music is helpful, but nobody’s actually utilizing music to be helpful. Kelly Orchard: Well, that’s why I think that my program is starting to really catch fire as people are starting to discover it. I’m actually even working with a licensed music therapist on this as well. Getting back to the whole, you don’t really get a license. The state doesn’t, no, but I do. When you do finish that certification class, I do give you a little I.D. card that fits in your wallet that says you’re a certified badass. It’s kind of cool. Gabe Howard: Nice, Kelly Orchard: Stick it by your driver’s license. So that’s fun. A nice daily affirmation. Every time you open up your wallet, you’re reminded. Oh, yeah, that’s right. I’m a certified badass. It’s awesome. Gabe Howard: Sweet. Kelly Orchard: And then when they go through my full program and they get to the end of it, I do send them like a diploma. It looks like an actual college degree diploma that says licensed to be badass with your name on it. So that’s part of the fun part, yes. Is it recognized by the state? No. I think you can put on your resume for sure though, you know. Gabe Howard: That’s awesome. Kelly Orchard: Yeah. Yeah. But the badass soundtrack. You know, I can say I discovered it doing some of my own psychotherapy work on myself, a little self-care and how I discovered this is, I got a new car and the car came with satellite radio. Now I’m a terrestrial radio girl. I’m a second generation broadcaster, so I would never pay for satellite radio. But while you have it, why not use it? So while I’m driving around in the car, I would scan through all these satellite radio programming that I could get and the stations. And I discovered the 70s on seven channels. Some of these songs you never hear any more because this format. Radio formats are all split up or you may not have access to them in your own streaming device or not even seek to go back to that particular genre, which for me was years of my childhood. So it’s starting to stir up memories as I’m hearing these songs, reminding me of an event that was going on or a timeframe in my life. And that’s what sort of prompted me and introduced me to hey, there’s something to this because I was going through a period of grief and working on some very personal struggles. But the music was making me feel better. And so I went back into some of my studies. And I loved studying neuroscience. And, you know, in 2009, there was a study by the National Institute of Health. Kelly Orchard: They did a study on people practicing gratitude, writing in a gratitude journal. They did the study and found that the people who practice gratitude, their hypothalamus, was really fired up. And that’s the organ in our brain that regulates our hormones and our stress levels. And they said that these people had lowered stress levels due to the fact that they were practicing gratitude. Well, it’s the same hormone as you do when you have happy memories and nostalgia. So I thought, well, why not put together a badass soundtrack with songs that you personally can attach to a happy memory, that when you allow yourself, getting back to one of the A’s in BADASS, when you allow it to work for you, it can be an instant change of your mindset, like changing the radio station or, you know, flipping the format. And I started testing it out on some of my clients because I knew it worked for me. Tested that on some of my clients, works great for them, created a class. Now I’m teaching people how to do this by utilizing neuroscience, cognitive behavioral therapy, going back and doing some nostalgia and reminiscing, which is part of where the narrative comes in. And then the solutions focus. Now, what are we gonna do with it if this works? Let’s do more of it. So it does prove to be an instant attitude adjustment. You’re right. Gabe Howard: We’ll be right back after this message. 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. Gabe Howard: And we’re back speaking with Kelly Orchard about how to become a licensed badass. Kelly, I just have to know what is on your badass soundtrack. Kelly Orchard: I’ll tell you one story that is really funny to me. And thank you for asking. So I was sharing the concept with a colleague of mine. In fact, he was my mentor as I was working toward getting licensed. So I respect him highly. He is also a professional musician, a guitar player. So we have that musical connection as well. So we’re sharing this with him, and he asked me the same thing. So what’s on your soundtrack? And I tell him, Joy to the World from the Three Dog Night, which is a song from the 70s. Gabe Howard: Yeah. Kelly Orchard: He looks at me because he’s a serious guitarist. He goes, Why? That’s not a badass song. I’m like, well, it maybe doesn’t make you feel badass. But it has, it means something to me. You know, we said when we had our radio station, we were an oldies station for a while. It was a family run radio station. And my brothers and I were also on the air. And so one of my brothers was doing the morning show and, you know, with a radio formatting, not everybody you hear on the air actually is in the studio, or works at the studio. You have, you know, you have different segments. Somebody will call in. So, for example, we subscribe to a traffic segment. So this gentleman would call in to do the traffic. And there was always some sort of a bumper of music. You know, in between the segments. So the traffic director’s name was David Jeremiah. And so my brother would play the song to the opening of Three Dog Night. He says, All right, everybody, we’ve got the traffic director. David, my good friend David, and it goes right into the lyrics, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine.” And so for me, that reminds me of a really fun time when my family owned a radio station. Remember I told you when I first discovered the badass soundtrack, I was going through some of my own grief work. The brother that we were singing the song Joy to the World with, he passed away a few years ago. I was working through the process of grieving my brother. So when this song came up and it triggered that memory, of course it made me happy. And it reminded me of my brother and it had to make it on to my badass soundtrack. Gabe Howard: Of course, I’m sorry to hear about your brother, but what’s interesting is, you know, to me, when you first started talking about a badass soundtrack, I was thinking of like all the, you know, the strong bass line and the upbeat music. And it sounds like the way that you pick these songs are things that elicit strong memories and strong happy memories. Not necessarily, you know, the boom, boom, boom, boom, you know, the things that get you excited to go to a sporting event. Kelly Orchard: Right. Gabe Howard: Is that true? Kelly Orchard: Well, you know, basically what you’re doing is you’re stirring up different types of emotions which are sparking off different neurotransmitters in your brain, that dopamine in the serotonin levels. So depends on what it is that you need. If you need confidence, I’ve got a song for myself that builds that builds my confidence. It’s a reminder of a time I stood up for myself or I won. So, yes, I do encourage you to utilize those lyrics and those words that pump you up. But it’s much a different playlist. It’s going to help you with your workout or going to a sporting event is going to be completely different than one that’s going to help you reduce the symptoms of anxiety or improve your mindset or give you the confidence you need to walk into a meeting or have the conversation that you need to have with somebody different. So it’s just a matter of how you strategize it. And I do teach. I go through the steps on how to get to that point. It’s a fun. It’s a fun exercise. So when I tell clients it’s like to do your homework, it’s like who would will not want to do the homework for this — sampling music? Gabe Howard: So you assign this to your clients, to your patients, you say what I want you to do is go home and make a badass soundtrack. What instructions do you give them? Kelly Orchard: It really depends on, you know, who is there in my psychotherapy practice. One song at a time because I only see them. I don’t see them again for a week. When I teach my workshop. I have a whole section dedicated just for that. And I teach them basically how to stir up some memories. You can’t put the cart before the horse. You know, it’s like I can’t expect them to have these memories before they hear the music. It’s the music that usually triggers the memory. Right. That makes them feel good. So like, for example, that this is one of my first go-to ones is getting back to driving. Getting back to when you had your driver’s license. What was the first car that you were driving around? So then they’ll talk about the car that they drove around. Then the next step, the next question is what music might you have been listening to when you were that age and driving around in your car? Well, the next thing you know, they’re talking about the music of that era of when they were probably 16, 17, 18 years old, which is when your memories are really starting to take hold and you want to remember them. The ones that make you feel bad ass, such as graduating from high school, your first road trip, your first prom, falling in love, getting an A on a test. Getting your driver’s license. Things like that. So then I take them through that process of the first car, and then we start sampling the music of that era. And then once we start sampling a little bit of music here and there, then I’d say find one song that represents that particular incident. Like they’ll still tell a story. But I remember when my friends took a road trip up the coast in. What song were you guys been listening to on that road trip? And they find this song. Then they have that. Then they add it to their bed. That soundtrack helps them feel independent, autonomous, grown up. Gabe Howard: How often should they listen to this soundtrack? And the reason that I ask specifically is because it just seems like if it’s going to work and make you feel better, just never turn it off. Just let it play 24/7. But but but obviously that’s that’s not going to work. So it it seems like there’s probably criteria for when it will work and when it won’t. And also kind of as a follow up question to that, we don’t want to not handle our issues because we’re too busy listening to music. And I know that’s not your intent. Kelly Orchard: Yeah, that’s not the intent, and I appreciate you saying that. So first of all, how often should you listen to it? As often as you would need to have that positive mindset. You know, it’s like, well, we talk about you practice positive thoughts, gratitude. They’ll help you get through the day. But it’s not a matter of being Pollyanna. This is actually changing the brain chemistry. So when you think about it as often as you do it, it’s kind of like working out, you know, exercising your muscles while your brain’s a muscle, too. So the more you do it, the more it’s going to benefit you. But the benefit is it’s not like listening to music all the time to make you feel better. It’s actually the positivity that changing your brain chemistry is giving you an opportunity to see things in a different perspective and get fresh ideas to the solution to the problems that you have. So like for me, example, is if I’m having a stressful situation, I know that thinking about it and worrying about it isn’t gonna do anything. But if I listen to a song that’s going to shift my mindset, I’ll probably come up with a better answer to solve that problem. Either that or it’s going to resolve itself because, well, the song just told me that I got through this problem. I can get through this one, too. So that’s kind of what the soundtrack will do for you. I also cut it down and we break it down into different segments of your life. So at any given time, there should be at least 40 to 50 songs on your soundtrack. So there’s 20 different songs that you can play. So plan is not to get desensitized to certain songs. So having a decent soundtrack but listening as often as you’d like the same as when you go out for a walk as often as you want, write in your journal as many times as you need to practice gratitude all day long. You know, it’s like you can always flip back and forth. Gabe Howard: And just to clarify, the music is supposed to spur action. The music isn’t the action. It’s supposed to get you pumped up to be active, to face the challenge and to be a badass, because after all, nobody can be a badass if they’re sitting at home listening to music. Right. Kelly Orchard: Well, they really depends because, you know, part of that part of the badass is that in order for us to have fresh ideas, it’s like not to be busy all the time. So sometimes you just need to relax and even allow yourself to get bored because that’s when the fresh ideas come up in. The brainstorms really start to happen in your brain’s like free to do those things. But you’re right, it is to spur action. You know, I had a client who acknowledged that her life as a child was complete chaos. And, you know, the perspective was that she’d had a horrible upbringing and couldn’t really reconcile with that and couldn’t talk to her mother anymore because the mother had died. So we started working on about our soundtrack and got to some of the music that she listened to in her childhood. And when she rediscovered a song from the Go-Go’s, it took her back to a time period where she and her little friend would play, dance and dress up in the bedroom, even though everything was crazy going on outside that room. The two of them had that feeling of safety and bonding in a bedroom. And it helped her to reframe some of her childhood experiences just because of one song. So that’s how it can be helpful. It’s just a new method that I’ve been developing. Gabe Howard: It sounds very, very cool. And again, I don’t think that anybody is surprised by the idea that music can take you on an emotional journey. Kelly Orchard: Oh, no. Gabe Howard: And your connection of using music for that emotional journey and then harnessing that to move forward in your life. I really think it’s just common sense. Right. So it’s amazing that it took so long to come up with it. But I’m glad that you did. And I think that our listeners are gonna be better off for it. Speaking of which, where can our listeners find you? Kelly Orchard: Well, I have a Web site which is Licensed2BBadass.com, and it’s the number two, not the word to, Licensed2BBadass.com, and find me there. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. I’m everywhere on social media. I also have a podcast, Kelly Orchard’s Apple a Day listed on Apple, i-Tunes Stitcher and Spotify. Also a YouTube channel. Oh, my gosh. Almost forgot that. Gabe Howard: What’s the YouTube channel? Kelly Orchard: The YouTube channel is my name. Kelly Orchard. I have a little fun series that I do. I also drive a 2006 Mustang, so I’ve been doing little videos inside the car with people called Mustang Monday, Badass Tips from the Street so you can catch the videos on my YouTube channel. Gabe Howard: Nice. Kelly Orchard: Yeah, they’re just a little short, brief ones, business, mental health, personal development, me a conversation with somebody else in my car. Carpool. Karaoke for mental health. Gabe Howard: Carpool karaoke for mental health. Well, I love it. Well, thank you so much, Kelly, for hanging out with us. I really appreciate it. Kelly Orchard: Gabe it was truly an honor. Gabe Howard: Thank you and everybody else, do you want to interact with the show on Facebook, suggest topics, comment on the show or be the first to get updates? You can join our Facebook group. A quick link is psych central dot com slash f B show. And as I ask every week, I’m basically pleading at this point. I would consider it a personal favor if you told a friend, referred us on social media, emailed somebody or hey, just left us a review. Give us as many stars as possible and use your words to tell people why they should listen. And remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, simply by visiting our sponsor. Better help dot com slash psych central. We will see everybody next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Psych Central Podcast. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/show or on your favorite podcast player. To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at GabeHoward.com. PsychCentral.com is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, PsychCentral.com offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at PsychCentral.com. If you have feedback about the show, please email show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening and please share widely. View the full article
  13. Are you a badass? Do you want to be? We all know that music has the ability to affect mood, and today’s guest takes that to the next level by helping you craft a personalized playlist to evoke specific feelings and emotions. Kelly Orchard’s unique program could help you find your inner badass. Using music and a variety of psychotherapy tools, Kelly helps individuals and groups become more confident, more productive and most importantly, more badass. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Badass’ Podcast Episode Kelly Orchard is a professional speaker, author and trainer and Licensed Psychotherapist. In addition to more than 30 years in the business of broadcasting, she has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership. Kelly specializes in working with businesses and individuals in times of trouble, turmoil and transition,  by creating a positive and profitable workplace. Kelly’s strategic coaching and leadership tools are a reliable, repeatable process that has been proven in the workplace. Kelly is a powerful story-teller – a craft she honed with her three decades in radio as part of family-owned operation, FCC Compliance consulting, and visiting hundreds of broadcast facilities. She is the author of 5 books, including her Prescriptive Memoir, Heart Lessons and her series of self-help books, Kelly Orchard’s Apple A Day, for daily nourishment for wisdom, success and personal growth. 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 Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Music Hero’ 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: Welcome to the Psych Central Podcast, where each episode features guest experts discussing psychology and mental health in everyday plain 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 Kelly Orchard, who uses her psychology education and her experience in radio to help people create their own badass soundtrack. In her own words, she uses a CBT, solutions focused, positive psychology, and neuroscience approach to helping people live better lives. Kelly, welcome to the show. Kelly Orchard: Thank you so much, Gabe. I am thrilled to be here today. Gabe Howard: I am thrilled to have you because I think that you might be the first licensed psychologist that I’ve ever worked with, that named what she does “badass.” Just the word badass is right there and I love that. Can you tell me why you decided to do that? Kelly Orchard: Well, you know, my background is in radio. You know, you do a lot of stunts. You do a lot of things to create a buzz and get your name out there. And so, you know, becoming a psychotherapist, I do some stuff with my branding and whatnot, which we can talk about later. But I’ve always been called a badass. People have referred to me as, “Man, Kelly, you’re really badass.” I knew that it meant something significant. And so I decided, well, I want to work with badasses. So that’s how it first evolved, it was that I want to work with people who identify with that whole concept of themselves. Gabe Howard: One of the primary reasons that I wanted to have you on the show is because I wrote a book called Mental Illness Is an Asshole and I got a lot of pushback. You know, they’re like, oh, that that’s that, you know, this is this is serious. Why are you talking about that? Why are you saying ass? They were always kind of whispering. And my reasoning for that was because I felt very strongly that when people lay awake at night, they’re not worried about themselves in psychological terms. They’re not thinking medically. They’re thinking in the words that all of us use. Did that have an effect on you? I mean, because people do want to be badasses. They don’t necessarily know that they want to be emotionally well off. Kelly Orchard: That’s a good point. A really good point. But you’re right. Yes. A little bit of blowback when I first started toying with using the word. But the more I just kind of put it out there, anybody who had an adverse response to the word badass usually typically either, you know, the older generation and they’re used to you know, everything is polite and nicely worded. And you don’t use that kind of word. We can use my mom as an example. She’s very opposed to this. But she’s also in her 80s. Mostly, the response has been fantastic. I get where you’re coming from. It’s like Mental Illness is an Asshole. You’re absolutely right. So why not identify it that way? It is serious, but we can also kind of identify it enough in a way that we understand it. Gabe Howard: Does this open up avenues of conversation for you? Are people much more willing to discuss their issues or concerns or problems when they know that they’re on the road to becoming a badass vs. considering themselves in like a patient modality? Kelly Orchard: Well, you know, I work with two separate populations with that. In my psychotherapy practice, I do promote the badass acronym with my clients and they love it because they’re already in a program admitting that they have depression or anxiety. That’s primarily what I treat, along with comorbid issues like a long term chronic illness or stuff like that, maybe grief and loss. But in the general population, I would call that, like in the business community, yes, they love defining themselves as badass and being on the road to becoming licensed to be badass. When I say I certify badasses, they’re like, well, how can I get certified? I want that. It opens up the conversation on what it takes. Gabe Howard: Which is where we want to be. We want people talking about this more. Now, you said that badass was an acronym. Kelly Orchard: Yes. Gabe Howard: What does badass stand for? Kelly Orchard: I’ve taken a blend of some of these psychotherapeutic tools, you know, cognitive behavioral therapy, that’s the CBT, and some neuroscience, solution focused that I use and I put them into a program. So BADASS is an acronym. So the B stands for “Be bold, be brave, be confident, be yourself.” But if you don’t know yourself, how can you be yourself? So I teach different methods on how to really get in touch with who you are. Personality tests and temperament tests, and what are your strengths getting into your core values. Things like that. Gabe Howard: And that’s just the B. Kelly Orchard: That’s just the B, yes. Gabe Howard: That’s just the B. Kelly Orchard: That’s just the B. Gabe Howard: The B, and then we then we move on to the first A. Kelly Orchard: Right. Gabe Howard: Because there are a lot of A’s in here. Kelly Orchard: Well, there’s a couple of A’s. The first A stands for “Attitude is everything.” Because I’m sure, Gabe, you and I both know that a positive attitude will get you a whole lot further than a negative attitude. Gabe Howard: Agreed. Kelly Orchard: Part of what I teach is to flip that format on the negativity and increase positivity because your attitude determines your success. So there’s some tools that I use in how to create that positive attitude. Then the D in BADASS stands for “Decide.” Because, you know, that’s a big critical factor. You have to decide that you want to be well and you have to make that decision to do it. And so then we go through, you know, being determined and dedicated to the process and disciplined. Gabe Howard: And then we get to the next A, right? We get to A number two. Kelly Orchard: Yes, A number two that stands for “Awareness” or self-awareness. I teach a lot about emotional intelligence. Being aware of your surroundings, being aware of your feelings and your emotions at the moment, and then of course, acknowledging your weaknesses and your strengths. I also do a lot with “Amplify,” because I love to use music in my programs and then the first S is “Stay the course.” This is where a lot of us get hung up. If what we want doesn’t happen quickly enough, we give up. So this teaches you to stay the course and persevere and keep going. And I teach different ways how you can do that. And then, of course, the last S just means “Successfully BADASS.” So that’s the BADASS acronym. And so I have have a program that I just take them through the process so they get their license to be badass. You know, when you got your driver’s license, it felt pretty badass. Right? Gabe Howard: Yeah, I did. It felt awesome. Kelly Orchard: It did. It felt so awesome. So anybody can relate to that when you get your driver’s license. But the truth of the matter is that you’d already studied. You already knew the rules of the road and took the tests in order to pass to get your permit. Then you already got behind the wheel and practiced driving so that then you had some competence behind the wheel. So when you went to go take your license exam, you already knew all this information. But the license gave you credibility. It gave you confidence. So I take that whole concept into the badass program. You’re probably already badass because you’ve been through the storms of life. You’ve failed, you’ve lost something like a home, a job or a relationship. You stumble, you’ve had a health crisis, whatever it is. You’ve overcome it. You’ve gotten through it. And you’re badass because you’re not quitting. All you need is your license to give you the confidence and credibility to keep going. Gabe Howard: So let’s be practical for a moment. So let’s say that I contact you and I say, you know, I’m anxious or I’m depressed. There’s something in my life that I don’t like. And I’m intrigued by becoming a licensed badass. What is my step one? Kelly Orchard: The badass program starts out with I teach a workshop to get you certified, so that’s a badass certification class and think of it like CPR for your mental health, an instant attitude adjustment and then an injection of positivity to get you started. And that’s where I introduce and initially teach you how to create your badass soundtrack, which I already have used this several times and it’s proven to be really a great tool for an instant reduction of anxiety symptoms or improving the mood or confidence. So that’s where I usually start. Gabe Howard: What’s interesting to me is you don’t actually get a license to be a badass. I mean, the state doesn’t send you a laminated card that you can show police officers when you’re driving your Ferrari. But when you say you create a soundtrack that helps with symptom reduction, that’s not an analogy. Kelly Orchard: No. Gabe Howard: You’re actually utilizing music on on devices that we all have in our pockets right now to find songs that speak to the person that help them feel better. I think that everybody understands that music is helpful, but nobody’s actually utilizing music to be helpful. Kelly Orchard: Well, that’s why I think that my program is starting to really catch fire as people are starting to discover it. I’m actually even working with a licensed music therapist on this as well. Getting back to the whole, you don’t really get a license. The state doesn’t, no, but I do. When you do finish that certification class, I do give you a little I.D. card that fits in your wallet that says you’re a certified badass. It’s kind of cool. Gabe Howard: Nice, Kelly Orchard: Stick it by your driver’s license. So that’s fun. A nice daily affirmation. Every time you open up your wallet, you’re reminded. Oh, yeah, that’s right. I’m a certified badass. It’s awesome. Gabe Howard: Sweet. Kelly Orchard: And then when they go through my full program and they get to the end of it, I do send them like a diploma. It looks like an actual college degree diploma that says licensed to be badass with your name on it. So that’s part of the fun part, yes. Is it recognized by the state? No. I think you can put on your resume for sure though, you know. Gabe Howard: That’s awesome. Kelly Orchard: Yeah. Yeah. But the badass soundtrack. You know, I can say I discovered it doing some of my own psychotherapy work on myself, a little self-care and how I discovered this is, I got a new car and the car came with satellite radio. Now I’m a terrestrial radio girl. I’m a second generation broadcaster, so I would never pay for satellite radio. But while you have it, why not use it? So while I’m driving around in the car, I would scan through all these satellite radio programming that I could get and the stations. And I discovered the 70s on seven channels. Some of these songs you never hear any more because this format. Radio formats are all split up or you may not have access to them in your own streaming device or not even seek to go back to that particular genre, which for me was years of my childhood. So it’s starting to stir up memories as I’m hearing these songs, reminding me of an event that was going on or a timeframe in my life. And that’s what sort of prompted me and introduced me to hey, there’s something to this because I was going through a period of grief and working on some very personal struggles. But the music was making me feel better. And so I went back into some of my studies. And I loved studying neuroscience. And, you know, in 2009, there was a study by the National Institute of Health. Kelly Orchard: They did a study on people practicing gratitude, writing in a gratitude journal. They did the study and found that the people who practice gratitude, their hypothalamus, was really fired up. And that’s the organ in our brain that regulates our hormones and our stress levels. And they said that these people had lowered stress levels due to the fact that they were practicing gratitude. Well, it’s the same hormone as you do when you have happy memories and nostalgia. So I thought, well, why not put together a badass soundtrack with songs that you personally can attach to a happy memory, that when you allow yourself, getting back to one of the A’s in BADASS, when you allow it to work for you, it can be an instant change of your mindset, like changing the radio station or, you know, flipping the format. And I started testing it out on some of my clients because I knew it worked for me. Tested that on some of my clients, works great for them, created a class. Now I’m teaching people how to do this by utilizing neuroscience, cognitive behavioral therapy, going back and doing some nostalgia and reminiscing, which is part of where the narrative comes in. And then the solutions focus. Now, what are we gonna do with it if this works? Let’s do more of it. So it does prove to be an instant attitude adjustment. You’re right. Gabe Howard: We’ll be right back after this message. 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. Gabe Howard: And we’re back speaking with Kelly Orchard about how to become a licensed badass. Kelly, I just have to know what is on your badass soundtrack. Kelly Orchard: I’ll tell you one story that is really funny to me. And thank you for asking. So I was sharing the concept with a colleague of mine. In fact, he was my mentor as I was working toward getting licensed. So I respect him highly. He is also a professional musician, a guitar player. So we have that musical connection as well. So we’re sharing this with him, and he asked me the same thing. So what’s on your soundtrack? And I tell him, Joy to the World from the Three Dog Night, which is a song from the 70s. Gabe Howard: Yeah. Kelly Orchard: He looks at me because he’s a serious guitarist. He goes, Why? That’s not a badass song. I’m like, well, it maybe doesn’t make you feel badass. But it has, it means something to me. You know, we said when we had our radio station, we were an oldies station for a while. It was a family run radio station. And my brothers and I were also on the air. And so one of my brothers was doing the morning show and, you know, with a radio formatting, not everybody you hear on the air actually is in the studio, or works at the studio. You have, you know, you have different segments. Somebody will call in. So, for example, we subscribe to a traffic segment. So this gentleman would call in to do the traffic. And there was always some sort of a bumper of music. You know, in between the segments. So the traffic director’s name was David Jeremiah. And so my brother would play the song to the opening of Three Dog Night. He says, All right, everybody, we’ve got the traffic director. David, my good friend David, and it goes right into the lyrics, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine.” And so for me, that reminds me of a really fun time when my family owned a radio station. Remember I told you when I first discovered the badass soundtrack, I was going through some of my own grief work. The brother that we were singing the song Joy to the World with, he passed away a few years ago. I was working through the process of grieving my brother. So when this song came up and it triggered that memory, of course it made me happy. And it reminded me of my brother and it had to make it on to my badass soundtrack. Gabe Howard: Of course, I’m sorry to hear about your brother, but what’s interesting is, you know, to me, when you first started talking about a badass soundtrack, I was thinking of like all the, you know, the strong bass line and the upbeat music. And it sounds like the way that you pick these songs are things that elicit strong memories and strong happy memories. Not necessarily, you know, the boom, boom, boom, boom, you know, the things that get you excited to go to a sporting event. Kelly Orchard: Right. Gabe Howard: Is that true? Kelly Orchard: Well, you know, basically what you’re doing is you’re stirring up different types of emotions which are sparking off different neurotransmitters in your brain, that dopamine in the serotonin levels. So depends on what it is that you need. If you need confidence, I’ve got a song for myself that builds that builds my confidence. It’s a reminder of a time I stood up for myself or I won. So, yes, I do encourage you to utilize those lyrics and those words that pump you up. But it’s much a different playlist. It’s going to help you with your workout or going to a sporting event is going to be completely different than one that’s going to help you reduce the symptoms of anxiety or improve your mindset or give you the confidence you need to walk into a meeting or have the conversation that you need to have with somebody different. So it’s just a matter of how you strategize it. And I do teach. I go through the steps on how to get to that point. It’s a fun. It’s a fun exercise. So when I tell clients it’s like to do your homework, it’s like who would will not want to do the homework for this — sampling music? Gabe Howard: So you assign this to your clients, to your patients, you say what I want you to do is go home and make a badass soundtrack. What instructions do you give them? Kelly Orchard: It really depends on, you know, who is there in my psychotherapy practice. One song at a time because I only see them. I don’t see them again for a week. When I teach my workshop. I have a whole section dedicated just for that. And I teach them basically how to stir up some memories. You can’t put the cart before the horse. You know, it’s like I can’t expect them to have these memories before they hear the music. It’s the music that usually triggers the memory. Right. That makes them feel good. So like, for example, that this is one of my first go-to ones is getting back to driving. Getting back to when you had your driver’s license. What was the first car that you were driving around? So then they’ll talk about the car that they drove around. Then the next step, the next question is what music might you have been listening to when you were that age and driving around in your car? Well, the next thing you know, they’re talking about the music of that era of when they were probably 16, 17, 18 years old, which is when your memories are really starting to take hold and you want to remember them. The ones that make you feel bad ass, such as graduating from high school, your first road trip, your first prom, falling in love, getting an A on a test. Getting your driver’s license. Things like that. So then I take them through that process of the first car, and then we start sampling the music of that era. And then once we start sampling a little bit of music here and there, then I’d say find one song that represents that particular incident. Like they’ll still tell a story. But I remember when my friends took a road trip up the coast in. What song were you guys been listening to on that road trip? And they find this song. Then they have that. Then they add it to their bed. That soundtrack helps them feel independent, autonomous, grown up. Gabe Howard: How often should they listen to this soundtrack? And the reason that I ask specifically is because it just seems like if it’s going to work and make you feel better, just never turn it off. Just let it play 24/7. But but but obviously that’s that’s not going to work. So it it seems like there’s probably criteria for when it will work and when it won’t. And also kind of as a follow up question to that, we don’t want to not handle our issues because we’re too busy listening to music. And I know that’s not your intent. Kelly Orchard: Yeah, that’s not the intent, and I appreciate you saying that. So first of all, how often should you listen to it? As often as you would need to have that positive mindset. You know, it’s like, well, we talk about you practice positive thoughts, gratitude. They’ll help you get through the day. But it’s not a matter of being Pollyanna. This is actually changing the brain chemistry. So when you think about it as often as you do it, it’s kind of like working out, you know, exercising your muscles while your brain’s a muscle, too. So the more you do it, the more it’s going to benefit you. But the benefit is it’s not like listening to music all the time to make you feel better. It’s actually the positivity that changing your brain chemistry is giving you an opportunity to see things in a different perspective and get fresh ideas to the solution to the problems that you have. So like for me, example, is if I’m having a stressful situation, I know that thinking about it and worrying about it isn’t gonna do anything. But if I listen to a song that’s going to shift my mindset, I’ll probably come up with a better answer to solve that problem. Either that or it’s going to resolve itself because, well, the song just told me that I got through this problem. I can get through this one, too. So that’s kind of what the soundtrack will do for you. I also cut it down and we break it down into different segments of your life. So at any given time, there should be at least 40 to 50 songs on your soundtrack. So there’s 20 different songs that you can play. So plan is not to get desensitized to certain songs. So having a decent soundtrack but listening as often as you’d like the same as when you go out for a walk as often as you want, write in your journal as many times as you need to practice gratitude all day long. You know, it’s like you can always flip back and forth. Gabe Howard: And just to clarify, the music is supposed to spur action. The music isn’t the action. It’s supposed to get you pumped up to be active, to face the challenge and to be a badass, because after all, nobody can be a badass if they’re sitting at home listening to music. Right. Kelly Orchard: Well, they really depends because, you know, part of that part of the badass is that in order for us to have fresh ideas, it’s like not to be busy all the time. So sometimes you just need to relax and even allow yourself to get bored because that’s when the fresh ideas come up in. The brainstorms really start to happen in your brain’s like free to do those things. But you’re right, it is to spur action. You know, I had a client who acknowledged that her life as a child was complete chaos. And, you know, the perspective was that she’d had a horrible upbringing and couldn’t really reconcile with that and couldn’t talk to her mother anymore because the mother had died. So we started working on about our soundtrack and got to some of the music that she listened to in her childhood. And when she rediscovered a song from the Go-Go’s, it took her back to a time period where she and her little friend would play, dance and dress up in the bedroom, even though everything was crazy going on outside that room. The two of them had that feeling of safety and bonding in a bedroom. And it helped her to reframe some of her childhood experiences just because of one song. So that’s how it can be helpful. It’s just a new method that I’ve been developing. Gabe Howard: It sounds very, very cool. And again, I don’t think that anybody is surprised by the idea that music can take you on an emotional journey. Kelly Orchard: Oh, no. Gabe Howard: And your connection of using music for that emotional journey and then harnessing that to move forward in your life. I really think it’s just common sense. Right. So it’s amazing that it took so long to come up with it. But I’m glad that you did. And I think that our listeners are gonna be better off for it. Speaking of which, where can our listeners find you? Kelly Orchard: Well, I have a Web site which is Licensed2BBadass.com, and it’s the number two, not the word to, Licensed2BBadass.com, and find me there. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. I’m everywhere on social media. I also have a podcast, Kelly Orchard’s Apple a Day listed on Apple, i-Tunes Stitcher and Spotify. Also a YouTube channel. Oh, my gosh. Almost forgot that. Gabe Howard: What’s the YouTube channel? Kelly Orchard: The YouTube channel is my name. Kelly Orchard. I have a little fun series that I do. I also drive a 2006 Mustang, so I’ve been doing little videos inside the car with people called Mustang Monday, Badass Tips from the Street so you can catch the videos on my YouTube channel. Gabe Howard: Nice. Kelly Orchard: Yeah, they’re just a little short, brief ones, business, mental health, personal development, me a conversation with somebody else in my car. Carpool. Karaoke for mental health. Gabe Howard: Carpool karaoke for mental health. Well, I love it. Well, thank you so much, Kelly, for hanging out with us. I really appreciate it. Kelly Orchard: Gabe it was truly an honor. Gabe Howard: Thank you and everybody else, do you want to interact with the show on Facebook, suggest topics, comment on the show or be the first to get updates? You can join our Facebook group. A quick link is psych central dot com slash f B show. And as I ask every week, I’m basically pleading at this point. I would consider it a personal favor if you told a friend, referred us on social media, emailed somebody or hey, just left us a review. Give us as many stars as possible and use your words to tell people why they should listen. And remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, simply by visiting our sponsor. Better help dot com slash psych central. We will see everybody next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Psych Central Podcast. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/show or on your favorite podcast player. To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at GabeHoward.com. PsychCentral.com is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, PsychCentral.com offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at PsychCentral.com. If you have feedback about the show, please email show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening and please share widely. View the full article
  14. When I was in college studying psychology, one of my professors had a handy little saying he liked to share that guided his counseling practice: “skills before pills.” What did this mean? In essence, as a psychologist, when he was working with clients, helping them manage various types of mood concerns, he always advocated for his clients to learn coping skills before pursuing taking psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants. The reason he advocated for this is because, by learning coping skills, you can use these to self-manage the stressors and symptoms impacting your mental health. Coping skills are tools you keep in your imaginary tool belt, and you can whip out whenever you need them. Those coping skills provide you the confidence to manage your own mental health symptoms whenever they pop up. Psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, for instance, are also very valuable for treating mental health disorders. But many people wonder if and when they should consider being evaluated for a possible medication. Here, we will outline how you may know it’s the right time to consider adding medication to your treatment plan for your mental health issues. As always, though, you need to work with your treating provider to create the best treatment plan specific to your needs. When speaking of moderate to severe depression and anxiety, the very best evidence-based treatment is a combination of psychotherapy (i.e., talk therapy) and psychiatric medication. When used in combination, these two treatment options help alleviate symptoms and provide relief to people who are suffering from anxiety and depression. But what if you’re unsure if seeking medications is the right choice for you? If you are experiencing your first ever bout of anxiety or depression and have never had treatment for it before, it can be best to start with psychotherapy. In therapy, you can explore what may be triggering your depression and begin to learn how to better cope with the symptoms and stressors leading to your mood concerns. On the flip side, if you are finding one of the following rings true for you, it can also be helpful to seek an evaluation for psychiatric medications: 1) “My anxiety/depression is impacting me so significantly that I can barely function in my day to day life. I struggle to even get out of bed or make it to work. I can’t care for my kids.” If you find that your symptoms are so severe that you just can’t make it through what you need to do in a day, psychiatric medications can help alleviate your symptoms. By using medications in this instance, you can get to the point where you can better engage in psychotherapy and practice skills to manage your day to day stressors. 2) “I’m struggling to actually be able to implement coping skills. I just can’t seem to work up the energy or motivation to practice the skills I’m learning.” If you’re feeling so impaired by your mental health symptoms that you can’t work up the strength and energy to use the skills you’ve learned, medication can help. Medication can help provide reduction in the severity of your symptoms so you can feel better able to use those skills you’ve learned. 3) “I’m having suicidal thoughts and am scared that nothing will get better. I’m not sure I can stay safe.” Your safety and well-being are the top priority. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, it can be extremely helpful to be evaluated for psychiatric medications. By doing so in combination with psychotherapy, you can work on reducing the depression that is impacting those suicidal thoughts. 4) “I’ve been in psychotherapy for quite some time and my depression/anxiety just isn’t improving.” If you find that, despite consistently going to psychotherapy, your symptoms haven’t gotten better, it can be a good time to consider an evaluation for psychiatric medications. What many find is, by starting medication, they can feel some increased relief of their symptoms and, as a result, find that their therapy also becomes more productive and helpful. 5) “I have had psychotic symptoms (for instance, seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there) or manic symptoms (for instance, reduced need for sleep, increased impulsive/risk taking behaviors, fast/pressured speech).” If you have found, or a loved one has expressed to you concerns about possible psychotic or manic symptoms, it is important to be evaluated for psychiatric medication. These symptoms very often require a medication intervention to combat the symptoms. The fact is, if you are having psychosis or mania, it is extremely difficult to engage properly or benefit from psychotherapy until the symptoms are better under control. What if you’re still unsure whether psychiatric medications are right for you? It is extremely helpful to broach this topic with your provider. If you are currently in psychotherapy, talk to your therapist about your questions and concerns. As part of counseling, your therapist’s job is to outline all of the various treatment options for you, including whether a medication evaluation could be beneficial. Your therapist may also be able to provide you a referral to a psychiatrist or family medicine provider who could provide such an evaluation. With that said, though, medications alone may not be enough. This brings us back to the start of this article, where we advocated for “skills before pills.” What has been proven to be the most beneficial treatment for anxiety and depression is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. So, if you have started psychiatric medications, it is best to continue on with therapy at the same time. Medications can help alleviate your symptoms, and therapy can help fill your toolbox with skills to keep those symptoms at bay in the long-term. Remember, there is hope. Your anxiety or depression can be treated. You can find relief. View the full article
  15. When I was in college studying psychology, one of my professors had a handy little saying he liked to share that guided his counseling practice: “skills before pills.” What did this mean? In essence, as a psychologist, when he was working with clients, helping them manage various types of mood concerns, he always advocated for his clients to learn coping skills before pursuing taking psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants. The reason he advocated for this is because, by learning coping skills, you can use these to self-manage the stressors and symptoms impacting your mental health. Coping skills are tools you keep in your imaginary tool belt, and you can whip out whenever you need them. Those coping skills provide you the confidence to manage your own mental health symptoms whenever they pop up. Psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, for instance, are also very valuable for treating mental health disorders. But many people wonder if and when they should consider being evaluated for a possible medication. Here, we will outline how you may know it’s the right time to consider adding medication to your treatment plan for your mental health issues. As always, though, you need to work with your treating provider to create the best treatment plan specific to your needs. When speaking of moderate to severe depression and anxiety, the very best evidence-based treatment is a combination of psychotherapy (i.e., talk therapy) and psychiatric medication. When used in combination, these two treatment options help alleviate symptoms and provide relief to people who are suffering from anxiety and depression. But what if you’re unsure if seeking medications is the right choice for you? If you are experiencing your first ever bout of anxiety or depression and have never had treatment for it before, it can be best to start with psychotherapy. In therapy, you can explore what may be triggering your depression and begin to learn how to better cope with the symptoms and stressors leading to your mood concerns. On the flip side, if you are finding one of the following rings true for you, it can also be helpful to seek an evaluation for psychiatric medications: 1) “My anxiety/depression is impacting me so significantly that I can barely function in my day to day life. I struggle to even get out of bed or make it to work. I can’t care for my kids.” If you find that your symptoms are so severe that you just can’t make it through what you need to do in a day, psychiatric medications can help alleviate your symptoms. By using medications in this instance, you can get to the point where you can better engage in psychotherapy and practice skills to manage your day to day stressors. 2) “I’m struggling to actually be able to implement coping skills. I just can’t seem to work up the energy or motivation to practice the skills I’m learning.” If you’re feeling so impaired by your mental health symptoms that you can’t work up the strength and energy to use the skills you’ve learned, medication can help. Medication can help provide reduction in the severity of your symptoms so you can feel better able to use those skills you’ve learned. 3) “I’m having suicidal thoughts and am scared that nothing will get better. I’m not sure I can stay safe.” Your safety and well-being are the top priority. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, it can be extremely helpful to be evaluated for psychiatric medications. By doing so in combination with psychotherapy, you can work on reducing the depression that is impacting those suicidal thoughts. 4) “I’ve been in psychotherapy for quite some time and my depression/anxiety just isn’t improving.” If you find that, despite consistently going to psychotherapy, your symptoms haven’t gotten better, it can be a good time to consider an evaluation for psychiatric medications. What many find is, by starting medication, they can feel some increased relief of their symptoms and, as a result, find that their therapy also becomes more productive and helpful. 5) “I have had psychotic symptoms (for instance, seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there) or manic symptoms (for instance, reduced need for sleep, increased impulsive/risk taking behaviors, fast/pressured speech).” If you have found, or a loved one has expressed to you concerns about possible psychotic or manic symptoms, it is important to be evaluated for psychiatric medication. These symptoms very often require a medication intervention to combat the symptoms. The fact is, if you are having psychosis or mania, it is extremely difficult to engage properly or benefit from psychotherapy until the symptoms are better under control. What if you’re still unsure whether psychiatric medications are right for you? It is extremely helpful to broach this topic with your provider. If you are currently in psychotherapy, talk to your therapist about your questions and concerns. As part of counseling, your therapist’s job is to outline all of the various treatment options for you, including whether a medication evaluation could be beneficial. Your therapist may also be able to provide you a referral to a psychiatrist or family medicine provider who could provide such an evaluation. With that said, though, medications alone may not be enough. This brings us back to the start of this article, where we advocated for “skills before pills.” What has been proven to be the most beneficial treatment for anxiety and depression is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. So, if you have started psychiatric medications, it is best to continue on with therapy at the same time. Medications can help alleviate your symptoms, and therapy can help fill your toolbox with skills to keep those symptoms at bay in the long-term. Remember, there is hope. Your anxiety or depression can be treated. You can find relief. View the full article
  16. Maddie thought she liked and loved her fiancé but lately began to question whether she really did. Every time they were together she would start obsessing, “His ears are too big. Our kids are going to have big ears. They’ll resent me. Do I want to obsess about his ears the rest of my life? Maybe I should call the wedding off? But then he is a great guy! What if we end up divorcing because of that? That would be horrible!” When her fiancé would ask, “What’s the matter?” she would dismiss the question as “Nothing.” “Sorry, what were you saying?” Her incessant thoughts brought uncertainty and anxiety. She would also review all the “good” things about him to feel reassured. She would ask her family members for reassurance as well. Everyone would tell her he was indeed a great guy. Anything she did to alleviate her anxiety were the compulsions that kept Maddie stuck in the OCD cycle (trigger -> initial thought -> obsessions -> unpleasant feelings and bodily sensations -> compulsions -> relief -> back to trigger). Her compulsions only brought temporary reprieve. If you struggle with relationship OCD, don’t despair. ACT’s (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) defusion skills can be the first step towards creating flexibility in your thinking. Cognitive defusion is one of ACT’s six processes. When you practice these skills, you are able to recognize that the thoughts coming out of your mind are simply words. When you become fused or stuck with their meaning, you take them literally and anxiety rises. The urge to find respite will then lead you to compulsions. Everyone can get stuck with the content of their thoughts. However, if you are challenged by OCD, your thoughts are stickier and the more you try to control them, the more you end up reinforcing the cycle. The good news is that you can use defusion skills to become an observer of your thoughts. This in turn will help you decrease the obsessions and compulsions because you won’t be fueling them with more thoughts! Notice the Obsessions and Get Unstuck (Defused) Remember, your mind means well, but you know more that it does. If you act on its advice, will it get you closer to who and what matters most in your life? How will you feel if you believe those thoughts? If you take those thoughts seriously, what will your behavior look like? Where will they lead you? When you get stuck in the OCD cycle, notice what your mind is saying. Become an observer of your thoughts and defuse (create a distance) from them. Acknowledge each thought with a defusion phrase as shown below. When you believe the thought or “buy into it,” consider whether believing and acting on it will be in the service of your interests. You can develop a sense of expectancy and curiosity as each thought shows up. Here are a few examples of how to respond to the unhelpful thoughts that get you fused and stuck. Be flexible as you notice the thoughts coming back. Thought: “I don’t like his physical traits!” Noticing: “I’m having the thought that I don’t like his physical traits!” Thought: “If I marry him, I’ll be unhappy!” Am I buying into the thought?: “I guess I’m buying the thought that I would be unhappy if I marry him.” Thought: “His ears are too big.” The Story “There is the Big Ears Story again! I’m not surprised.” Thought: “Just call off the engagement!” Mental appreciation: “Thank you, Mind. You are doing a great job worrying me right now.” When you struggle with relationship OCD, the thoughts provided by your mind may appear to be helpful. If you heed them, most likely you’ll want to do something to decrease your anxiety. You’ve been doing that, and you know that strategy has not been effective. Instead acknowledge what your mind is saying silently, and gently shift back to the present moment. See if you can treat your mind as a separate entity. This will help you recognize how it tries to give you advice. Remember, you are the only one that can choose to believe the thoughts and act on them if they draw you closer to who and what matters most in your life. Don’t forget that OCD will likely shift targets. When Maddie was not obsessing about her fiancé’s physical traits, she would be obsessing about his personality traits. She eventually learned to separate herself from the literal meaning of her thoughts and so can you! Relationship OCD does not have to overwhelm you and affect your relationship. You can learn to be flexible with your thoughts as you practice defusion skills and other principles found in ACT. If you wish to learn more about ACT, see the resources below. Don’t wait for OCD. Start living today because YOU not your OCD thoughts are in charge of your life! Resources Harris, R. (2008). The Happiness Trap: How To Stop Struggling and Start Living. Boston, MA: Trumpeter Books. Hayes, S. C. (2005). Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger. View the full article
  17. “If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.” – Sidney Banks I spent most of my life scared of my feelings. Having feelings and expressing them made me mentally ill—or so I was led to believe by a large number of mental health professionals. When I felt sad, they labeled me as depressed. When I showed any signs of anxiety, they gave me another list of mental health disorders I needed medication for. And if I was angry? Oh well, that was the absolute worst. That clearly proved how insane and utterly out of control I was! I didn’t understand how they couldn’t see what was really going on for me. I couldn’t understand how everyone saw me as the problem when what was happening to me was the actual problem. But that’s a story for another time. I was brought up to be a good girl, which meant that any angry expressions were forbidden, shamed, and punished. I wasn’t allowed to express disappointment because that made me ungrateful. I couldn’t ask for what I wanted because that made me greedy. I wasn’t allowed to disagree with anyone because that made me difficult. I couldn’t express frustration because that meant I was out of control and needed to be left alone to think about my shameful behavior. I didn’t ask for help because good girls don’t inconvenience other people. I couldn’t be happy either because that made me attention-seeking and annoying. I felt all the feelings, but I was taught that they were wrong, forbidden, and shameful, so it didn’t feel safe to feel them. And so I tried to suppress them. I inhibited them, pushed them away, avoided them, shamed them, and feared them. Every time I felt something, I saw it as more evidence for how bad I was. Later on, I saw it as evidence for how broken and mentally insane I was. It drove me crazy. But it was thinking that having feelings made me insane that actually drove me insane. I believed that what I was experiencing was wrong. I saw my feelings as problems, so I tried to hide them and not feel them. So much so that I don’t even recall feeling very happy or excited about anything. All I remember is feeling tired, lethargic, and bored. I wasn’t even fifteen years old at that time… I continued like this for a very long time. My life felt lifeless and bleak. I don’t recall having any fun, adventures, or exciting experiences. Everything just seemed so hard. Life was something to endure, not enjoy. Enjoyment seemed to be reserved for a lucky few, and I most certainly wasn’t one of them. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I learned that my feelings weren’t problems, and that they didn’t make me insane. My feelings only made me one thing—human. Feelings Lesson 1: Feelings aren’t evidence that we are broken or insane. They are evidence that we are human. I know now that I had always been perfectly healthy, but others taught me to believe that being a little human with feelings was somehow wrong and shameful. My feelings were a problem for others. They were inconvenient to them. And as a result of them not dealing with their own feelings—their own irritation, intolerance, and impatience—they tried to control and eliminate mine. But what happens when we try to control or eliminate our feelings is that we deprive ourselves from experiencing the richness of life. We numb them all because we cannot selectively numb. We feel it all or nothing at all. So if I am unwilling to feel my anger, I will eradicate other feelings with it—apart from maybe one or two that will be expressed more strongly than they would if we only let ourselves feel whatever it is that we actually need to feel. Feelings Lesson 2: We are meant to feel all our feelings and can’t selectively numb them. In my professional work, I have noticed that sad people usually suppress their anger and angry people usually suppress their sadness. It’s a simplistic generalization, but it is largely true. The problem is that the displaced feeling will be way more powerful and destructive than it would be if we didn’t try to control or avoid it. We avoid a feeling when it is shame-bound, when every time it arises we feel shame for feeling it. If we feel something excessively and intensely, it’s a sign that we have shame-bound another feeling, which means that this feeling was not tolerated in our childhood, and every time it arises, our anxiety level rises. We then try to push it down to stop ourselves from feeling it, but then the energy of that feeling gets displaced and added to a feeling we believe to be more acceptable to feel and express. The ‘more acceptable’ feeling then takes on a bigger form, and we end up having panic attacks instead of expressing our frustrations about someone. Or we get depressed instead of setting boundaries with people who treat us in disrespectful ways. Or we explode in a rage because we don’t allow ourselves to admit to feeling hurt, alone, and unsupported. There are thousands of examples like the above. Sadly, we always believe that our misdirected expression like rage or depression is the problem we need to fix, and so we focus on the result of the problem and not on its actual cause, which means that we cannot solve it. If we want to work through our issues, we need to identify which of our feelings are shame-bound and then reconnect with them in healthy and compassionate ways. This is a process. We are going against a lifetime of conditioning, so we need to be gentle with ourselves while persevering and getting honest with ourselves. But it is possible. We can remove the shame-binding from all of our feelings by reminding ourselves that our feelings aren’t problems, and that feeling our feelings is what makes our human experience special. Feelings Lesson 3: Shame-bound feelings express themselves in different and destructive ways, meaning we simply can’t not feel. When we inhibit what we are meant to express to protect others from our feelings, because we perceive that they’re a problem for them, we reinforce the message that our feelings are problems and that we are wrong to feel them. Believing this will negatively impact our mental health and enjoyment of other people and life in general, because feelings exist for our benefit. Our feelings exist to guide us through life. They show us what we want and what we don’t want so we can create more of the former and move away from the latter. When someone shames our feelings and encourages us to disconnect from them, they encourage us to disconnect from our emotional guidance system, which serves to help us create a great life for ourselves in which we can grow and thrive. This inevitably leads to creating an inauthentic, unfulfilling life, and stunted development. Our feelings also show us when we believe something harmful that isn’t true: a lie of the mind. If I believe that my anger is a sign that I am an inherently flawed human being, I feel distressed because this isn’t true. My guidance system is trying to tell me that I’m on the wrong track. Because just like the physical pain we experience when touching something painfully hot, emotional pain tells us to move away and let go of a harmful thought. And so, our emotions highlight our state of mind. They encourage us to let go, drop, and move away from anything that doesn’t serve us or promote our personal growth. Feelings Lesson 4: Our feelings tell us when we engage in harmful thinking. Once we understand the purpose of our feelings, we begin to see the beauty in them. We are made to have feelings—all the feelings! We are meant to feel our feelings. Our feelings aren’t problems. They are just here to give us the full human experience. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! We have the potential to experience it all. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! But we cannot make the most of this opportunity if we go in blind. Being cut off from our feelings is just that. It’s like trying to sail the oceans without a compass, hoping to find paradise to live in. It’s navigating life without any sense of what we want or what is good and healthy for us. As a consequence, we make many wrong choices and keep believing all the wrong things. Our attention then goes into fixing our mistakes instead of creating a life that is most suited to who we really are. Because simply don’t know what’s good for us and what isn’t because we don’t know what we are feeling. We are emotionally disconnected. We have feelings that try to move us toward what’s good for us, but because we don’t like how some of them feel, we disregard them all. We try to create a successful life without any sense of what successful actually looks like for us. Let me outline this with an example: What was my anger during my childhood trying to tell me? It definitely wasn’t that I was a bad and ungrateful child who was inherently flawed and devoid of any tender human qualities. My anger didn’t mean that I was disrespectful or manipulative and deserved to be hit, shouted at, shamed, and punished. My anger was trying to get me to act, to stand up for myself, to protect myself. Only was too little. Then. Not now. But I lived by those shame-bound rules for most of my life. I hated my anger. I avoided conflict. I didn’t stand up for myself when it mattered and then got myself into situations that were abusive, full of conflict, draining, and traumatic—but also unnecessary. If I had been attuned to my anger, if I had responded to it immediately, nothing would have ever needed to escalate. I would have stood up for myself and moved away from whoever and whatever wasn’t healthy for me and didn’t contribute positively toward my growth. I would have made very different choices and I would have lived a very different life. Being cut off from my feelings and disconnected from my internal guidance system deprived me of the experience of life I wish I’d had. I was doing it the hard way. I was trying to succeed going in blind. It doesn’t work. I know you know that too. Feelings Lesson 5: Our feelings ask us to act in ways that are good for us. So why am I going on about feeling our feelings? Because it’s the solution to many of our problems. Instead of putting all our energy into avoiding, controlling, and eliminating our feelings, we have to become attuned to them. We have to reconnect with them so we can make better and healthier choices for ourselves. We need them. We are meant to have them. And the more we let ourselves feel them, the more easily we learn to respond to them in healthy and life-enhancing ways. Because our feelings aren’t problems. They are not inconvenient. They are trying to move us into the direction of health and well-being on a physical, emotional, and mental level. And in that way, they help us create a life we can actually enjoy. But only if we allow ourselves to feel them. This post courtesy of Tiny Buddha. View the full article
  18. Phobiasupportforum

    When OCD and Self-Compassion Meet in the Middle

    OCD is a disorder that affects millions of people and causes a lot of mental, physical and spiritual distress. Because OCD can be debilitating it is important to note that the problem is not the disorder itself, rather, it is the anxiety that comes from the symptoms of the disorder. So when you are compulsively demanding your mind to stop obsessing, this just fuels your OCD symptoms and increases your relationship with the distress A big part of learning to live with OCD is to incorporate self-compassion. Instead of avoiding your anxiety, self-compassion invites you to look at it with understanding and gentle curiosity. This approach allows you to see your pain exactly how it is without self-judgment or self-criticism. Kristin Neff, PhD, who studied the concept of self-compassion for five years, defines self-compassion as, “Recognition of our own suffering… The nurturing quality of self-compassion allows us to flourish, to appreciate the beauty and richness of life, even in hard times.” In her research, Dr. Neff discovered three components of self-compassion necessary to facilitate personal healing: Mindfulness, common humanity and self-kindness. As human beings, we all suffer in some way. It does not mean that we are inadequate or unable to handle life. It simply means in this moment we acknowledge that things are difficult. Difficult does not mean inadequate. It just means difficult. Looking at pain caused by OCD with self-compassion is not instinctual. It takes a conscious effort to notice when your mind is being mean or unkind to you. This can be challenging as our first reaction to any type of discomfort is to ignore it, push it away or pretend we are not feeling it. Dr. Neff states, “We can’t be moved by our own pain if we don’t even acknowledge that it exists in the first place.” This type of behavior is anything but self-compassionate. Writing a simple self-compassion statement introduces a new inner dialogue that is softer, gentler and kinder. A self-compassion statement incorporates all three of the components of self-compassion mentioned above. It can be as simple as, “I recognize I am having a feeling of anxiety right now (Mindfulness). This is a normal feeling for people who struggle with OCD like I do (common humanity). I don’t like this feeling; however, I am willing to be kind to myself as I notice it (self-kindness).” How could this change the way you feel about your experience in a moment of discomfort? This sure sounds better than, “Man, I hate that I can’t handle my OCD… I can’t handle anything.” Do you hear the difference? Do you feel the difference? Giving yourself permission to acknowledge the pain you are feeling softens that old negative inner-dialogue with your OCD without trying to fix it or get rid of it. While co-facilitating an OCD group I invited each participant to write their own self-compassion statement incorporating the three components of self-compassion. It was interesting to hear the various ways in which participants expressed self-compassion for their pain. With permission, below is an example of a self-compassion statement from one of the participants: “I breathe in gratitude for my life and my abilities. I breathe out love for myself and all men and women. In between my breaths, I notice the OCD thoughts and all the burden-feelings they bring. In between my breaths, I grant myself permission to grieve, to cry, and to feel the great fear. In between my breaths, I grant myself freedom, once more, to experience joy and creativity. I breathe in gratitude for my numerous blessings. I breathe out love for myself and all men and women. I breathe in gratitude. I breathe out love. I breathe the wind of the Holy Spirit.” As participants listened intently to the above self-compassion statement, there was a tender feeling in the room. In that moment, they were joined in their pain through feelings of self-compassion. As sufferers themselves, they understand the courage it takes to live with OCD and each had witnessed what it sounds like when OCD and self-compassion meet in the middle. Self-compassion can change the way you interact with painful experiences caused by OCD. It truly is the key ingredient to one’s personal healing. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed by OCD, I invite you to write your own self-compassion statement using all three components: Mindfulness, common humanity and self-kindness. As you recite it daily you will notice how your experience with pain, anxiety and discomfort changes. And you will be able to approach OCD with self-compassion. View the full article
  19. Phobiasupportforum

    Podcast: Joker Movie and Mental Illness

    Did the movie Joker portray mental illness correctly and does it matter? We passionately go over the movie Joker from the lense of people living with mental illness and discuss whether or not there are implications of making a movie like this. Does it help us or hurt us? What if it does both? Listen in to hear Gabe’s freakishly good recollection of scenes from the movie as Jackie struggles to separate entertainment from reality. Spoiler Alert: You don’t need to see Joker to appreciate this conversation but we do go over the plot and reveal some important scenes from the movie. (Transcript Available Below) SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW 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. Jackie Zimmerman has been in the patient advocacy game for over a decade and has established herself as an authority on chronic illness, patient-centric healthcare, and patient community building. She lives with multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, and depression. You can find her online at JackieZimmerman.co, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Joker Movie and Mental Illness’ 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 Not Crazy. Here are your hosts, Gabe and Jackie. Jackie: Welcome to Not Crazy. I’m here with my co-host, Gabe Howard, who is on a personal mission to eradicate pumpkin spice, anything from the world. He also lives with bipolar. Gabe: And I’m, of course, here with Jackie Zimmerman, who is on a personal mission to drink and eat all of the pumpkin spice latte flavored, god awful garbage she can find. And I think that that contributes to her depression. Jackie: I think not. But OK, agree to disagree. Whatever. Gabe: I mean, denying it is the kind of thing that a millennial would do when being called out about pumpkin spice. Anything you will defend pumpkin spice and UGG boots until you die. Jackie: Oh, I don’t even own UGG boots. Thank you very much. Gabe: They have ugh in the title. How did they become popular? Jackie: It’s fair. Ugggh. Gabe: We saw Joker. Jackie: We did. We saw it separately, but we did see it. I saw it on Saturday and immediately sent you a text that said, “have you seen this”? Because we need to talk about it. Gabe: And I wrote you back and said, “I’m going to see it on Sunday. Why?” And then you didn’t answer any text for 24 hours. And I was like, OK, this is gonna be good because… So first off, you know, spoilers, content, warning, we’re going to talk about Joker. It is a rated R film. There is violence in the movie. And of course, there are spoilers. So it’s gonna get real. Jackie: We will refrain, however, from talking about the Batman aspect of the movie and just stick to the mental health issues within the movie. Gabe: I mean, that is fair, we’re not a pop culture show, we’re a mental health show. Jackie: Oh, but if we were, I’d be so good at it. Gabe: I just have so much to say about the movie as a huge Batman fan. But let’s start on the mental illness aspect. They really dove hard into Joker being severely mentally ill. We weren’t, what, 15 minutes into the movie when he was sitting in a social workers office being prescribed seven medications, talking about the medications, talking about voices in his head and talking about being severely mentally ill. It wasn’t subtle. It was right there. Jackie: Gabe, for those of us who are not uber nerds about this stuff, does the Joker origin story include any of this mental health? Or is this just purely for this purpose of this movie they added in the mental health aspect? Like because Joker isn’t historically a mentally ill person. Right? Gabe: We don’t know. Jackie: Ok. Gabe: The Joker has no origin story. I think that you would be hard pressed to find a reasonable person that wouldn’t describe the Joker as a maniac or maniacal. And of course, every time Batman catches him in the comics, he goes to Arkham Asylum, which is a mental hospital. So you’d be hard pressed to say that the Joker doesn’t have strong origins living with mental illness when he goes to a hospital for the criminally insane. Jackie: Ok. That is helpful. Gabe: Also, he kills people and laughs about it for sport. That’s kind of crazy. Jackie: Is it, though? So you just said that and a lot of people left that movie thinking, hey, guess what? Mentally ill people perform acts of violence and laugh about it because they’re crazy. Is that true? Gabe: It is true. It’s just not common. It’s like asking the question, do wives kill their husbands? What’s the honest answer to that question? Jackie: I mean, some do. Gabe: Exactly. Exactly. It is possible it has happened, but it’s extraordinarily rare. Right? The majority of wives are not killing their husbands. Jackie: So you’re saying that the majority of mentally ill people never rise to this level of violence? Gabe: Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying, and in fact, the majority of mentally ill people will never do anything violent, especially, you know, murderous Joker level violence. The fact remains that some people with mental illness will be violent. Jackie: Some people with mental illness will be tall. Some people with mental illness will have red hair. Oh, I’m talking about you here. But yes, I mean, any group of people, any… Gabe: Yes, violence is well-represented across everything, literally everything. We have religious figures that are violent. We have teachers who are violent. We have a podcast co-hosts who are violent. And on and on and on. There is no predictor of violence except, of course, for past violence. Jackie: The takeaway, though, is that, like you said, it’s not an all or nothing thing. It’s yes. Some people with mental illness may be violent, but not all of them. And I feel like we have to do a shout out to Michelle here with her “Mentally Ill and I Don’t Kill” shirts, because that’s what I kept thinking in this movie. I couldn’t separate the movie from reality. This feels very timely, but not in a great way that helps the cause of mental illness advocates where it basically just confirmed what society is saying right now. Oh, yeah, all those crazies, they’re gonna go kill people. Gabe: But remember, we have to respect the movie, right? You can’t pick and choose what part of the pop culture bullshit is factual and what Jackie: Right. Gabe: Parts of the pop culture bullshit is fake. What happened in the first half of the movie before Joker went, pardon the pun, insane. Jackie: My big takeaway was he lost his access to treatment, therapy, medication, and had a lot of life changing transitions, like he lost his job. Basically, his life crumbled as he knew it. Gabe: Right. Massive budget cuts, massive budget cuts. In the beginning, we saw him with a social worker, with a job, with medication, with societal aids and supports. And before anything went even remotely wrong, the government came in and cut everything. Lost his social worker, lost his medication. He lost his job. He lost social supports. Everything started immediately crumbling for this man. And I’d like to point out, and this is this is very, very important. Through absolutely no fault of his own. It showed him showing up for every appointment on time. It showed him doing the homework that the social worker prescribed. It showed him filling the prescriptions, taking the medication, going to work. Being honest at work. He did everything right. And society shit on him. Jackie: That’s so true, and I didn’t even put those pieces together, at least not the complete way that you just did. Right? I saw him going to therapy. I saw him talking about getting his meds. And he had this journal that she asked him for. So you’re right. He was doing everything right. And it all ended by no fault of his own. You’re right. I don’t know. I guess when you look at it that way, are you saying that if all these things get removed from people with mental illness, they’re all going to turn out the same way Joker did? If we all lose access to our therapy and medication? Gabe: Of course not. Obviously, no. Just like I am not saying that every single soldier will develop post-traumatic stress disorder from being in a war, but some do, and we can’t ignore this possibility. The reality is, is that the majority of people in Joker’s situation, they won’t become violent. They’ll become homeless. They will die in the elements. They won’t be able to get help. They’ll be arrested. They’ll end up in prison. Every bad thing that can happen will befall them and nobody else. Which is why nobody cares about them, because we just walk past homeless people or people in prison and we decide it’s their fault. But again, we can only use the movie. Remember that the movie is our backdrop. This isn’t America. This is the America in the movie. Jackie: But can you really separate them? If we look at just the movie, I kept talking to Adam afterwards. I was, you know, talking very aggressively with my hands after we left because I had so many feelings where if you look at the movie, just the movie, the movie is a good movie, right? I mean, Joaquin Phoenix is stellar. The cast is great. Even the plot line is good. But I can’t look at this movie and not look at it as a commentary for what’s happening now. So I’m really struggling with this. I know that we should say this is just a movie. I know this is a movie. I know that it’s just for entertainment purposes. But I’m still really having a hard time separating it from what’s happening in the world right now. Like I said, a little bit of the too soon. Is this the right time for this movie? Is the right time for this story? Because it feels like all it’s going to do is just escalate the issues that we’re currently seeing. And we’re already seeing some of that in the media of people talking about the implications of this. But nobody’s actually talking about what this means for people who are mentally ill and how the rest of the world perceives them. Gabe: Speaking as somebody who lives with bipolar disorder, who has had psychosis, who has been in a psychiatric hospital. There are parts of this that hits close to home for me. Right? I know that the reason that I am doing so well is because my access to care never got cut off. I also know that I’m doing so well because my family doesn’t suffer from serious mental illness. Remember in the movie, his mother was also seriously mentally ill and he was her primary caregiver because she was elderly and they lived in poverty and he was actively hallucinating and nobody seemed to notice or care that this was going on. His escalation was not immediate. His escalation was slow. And I think that some people might listen to this and think, man, Gabe, you really sound like you’re saying that this is reasonable. I’m not. I’m not saying that it’s reasonable. I’m saying that it’s not unexpected. It’s not so far outside of the norm that we shouldn’t be afraid that this wouldn’t happen just because something is incredibly uncommon, like, oh, I don’t know, murder. Murder is incredibly uncommon. Yet everybody lives in constant fear that it will happen. Well, a person with mental illness not getting resources and ending up violent is incredibly uncommon, but it’s not unexpected. It is one of the potential outcomes of denying basic human dignity, resources and care to people living with mental illness. So if we are looking at it as social commentary, why is that not the social commentary? That this city just abandoned its most vulnerable members? Jackie: Well, the best part about that is Michigan is literally doing that right now. They are removing funds from therapists and they’re not allowing certain people to give diagnosis and medications anymore. This is happening. This is relevant right now. And I wonder in this movie, do you think that a turning point was when his coworker gave him that gun? Right? If we have this whole story and he doesn’t have that gun, does he go the route of what we’re saying, where basically he’ll probably end up homeless at some point because he’s already lost his job. His mother, who we said also has mental illness, is not contributing financially to the household. So at some point, without that gun, which becomes the catalyst for literally the entire movie, does he just become another statistic of people who are mentally ill, who then become homeless? Gabe: We’ll be right back after this message from our sponsor. 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. Jackie: We’re back talking about mental illness and how the movie Joker has portrayed it. Gabe: I am a Star Trek fan. Jackie: I am not. Gabe: Well, I am. And there is a scene. And, you know, honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, I don’t remember if it’s Captain Kirk or Captain Picard, but one of them has this ability to go back in time and change something that they regret. And they do. And of course, invariably that’s the one thing that led them to greatness and made them the great captain that they ended up becoming. I like stories like this because I think that it does illustrate that there are small moments that make us who we are. I don’t know if this guy would have found violence in some other way, but I do know that again, in the context of the movie, he got an unregistered, illegal firearm. It was given to him by somebody that encouraged him to use it in a not safe manner without any training. And then he was allowed to walk around with this thing unchecked, and nobody seemed to notice it until such time that he was attacked through no fault of his own, used it as self-defense. And that made him feel powerful. Gabe: It made him feel powerful. And speaking purely as somebody who has felt powerless and lost and scared, I am going to do anything to take that power back. So I got to wonder, if Gabe Howard all the way back when he was his sickest would have been handed a gun, could this have happened to me? I really, really want to say that absolutely not. Unequivocally, no. But I lived in a very suburban world. I had people looking out for me. And listen, nobody handed me something dangerous. And I don’t want this to turn into some gun control debate. We are not criticizing guns in any way. I feel the need to say that because I want people to focus on the point of people who are desperate and seriously mentally ill and hallucinating should not have firearms. Jackie: No, and the idea of this character we’re talking about Joker here, is it was part of the perfect storm. Right? The loss of funding, the less medication, the loss of his job, plus the addition of being given this weapon created the perfect storm, which resulted in an incredibly violent person doing terrible things in his city. Gabe: Another question that we have to ask and again, I know it’s Joker and you know, it’s fascinating that we have created potential social commentary out of what is a comic book movie. This is not a documentary. This isn’t even real life. The movie takes place in a world where eventually a man dresses up like a bat and chases people. So we have to keep this in mind. This isn’t reality, but there is some data to mine here. And I can’t help but wonder if some of the people with mental illness who have become violent had similar experiences. The poverty, the lack of resources. The social worker said the very last time that she saw her patients, “Nobody cares about you. Nobody cares about me either. Society doesn’t care about people like us.” And that was a big moment for me because I sat there in the audience as Gabe Howard, a person living with mental illness and thought, yes, that is accurate. That is 100 percent true. Society does not care about people like me. Jackie: Are you taking notes when you were watching this because your recollection of what happened in this movie is so good? That was really like poignant when it happened because I remember her saying that and thinking, oh, shit, like, that’s that’s real. That’s real in this movie. That’s real in real life. But I just want to.. Props to your memory. Gabe: But I remember things that really give me an emotional response. Jackie: Like comic book movies? Gabe: Like comic book movies. Yeah. Listen, I am a 12 year old boy at heart and comic book movies are absolute escapism for me. And let’s touch on that for just like a really tiny nanosecond. I go to these movies because I need a break. I need a break from my brain. I need a break from the harshness of life. I need a break from work. And I need a break from the same thing that everybody else needs a break from, just Jackie: But did this movie do that for you? Gabe: Not even remotely. Jackie: I wouldn’t think so. Gabe: All I could think of was, wow. Yeah. Yeah. Look, I don’t want to give away anything in the movie. There’s obvious exaggerations in this movie. There are obvious things that that Joker was able to do that you could just not pull off in real life. You know, there was a couple of parts where I was like, please, they’d catch this guy in a nanosecond. What do you mean the police can’t catch him? Obviously, that can’t happen. Jackie: I agree with you. After the first act of violence, after that train scene, he would have totally been caught after that. Gabe: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. That the movie realistically should have ended there and not have been able to progress. But it did progress. And again, we have to use the movie. Apparently, Gotham police are unable to… Jackie: They’re the worst. Gabe: They really are the worst. Gabe: They even, they suspected him almost immediately. But he was still able to go on this this impressive crime spree all the way through the end of the movie without anybody stopping him or following him or doing anything about it. And he used the same gun the entire time. Like, just, man, he hung on to that thing. Jackie: We’re talking about the same police force that relies on a masked crusader when they’re in, you know, they put a light in the sky and they go, hey, help us because we suck at our job. So I don’t think we can really talk about the efficacy of the Gotham Police Department in terms of how good they are at their jobs. Gabe: Yet I think it’s important just to consider that this is a nuanced conversation, not the Joker movie violence, mental illness. What makes people go bad? And one of the reasons that I’m so against the message that people with mental illness are never violent is because if you bury your head in the sand and pretend that people with mental illness are never violent, you’re never going to be able to prevent it. You’re never going to be able to give people the care and the resources and the time that they need to make sure that this doesn’t happen. And when somebody with a mental illness has a violent outcome, there are so many so many lives ruined. The person who is mentally ill, their life is ruined. Their victim, obviously, obviously, the victim’s family, the family of the person with mental illness. Society that has to watch this. We can’t just turn a blind eye and pretend that it never happens just because it is incredibly rare. In the case of the movie Joker, clearly, obviously mentally ill and it.. he didn’t have the resources and they cut his resources and no, nobody cared. Nobody cared. Jackie: Fuck. This is so sad. Just the movie itself, if you look at the character of Joker, right, you remove who he is at the end, right. And you look at the buildup to his whole life of how he’s been, who he is, who he’s become. You get a little bit of this history, but not a lot of it. But he was adopted. He grew up in the system. His mother, who we know is mentally ill, she had an abusive boyfriend. You look at his whole life story and then you top it off as an adult, all these things, these terrible things happen to him as an adult. It is a devastating life that he has lived. And if you make him a real person, which I know we’re not doing, but if we look at the outcome, like we said, of real people in the real world, the people who become homeless when they’ve had some of these similar things happen to them, it is devastating. It’s so sad how we treat these people, how we don’t care about them, how we cut their funding and then just go. Sucks to be you. Whatever. I’m having a hard time articulating how devastating it is. Thinking about this because it is a movie. But what happened to him? His life is not a thing that’s never happened. People have had the same upbringing as he has. Gabe: And I think that we all get hung up on the idea that it was so incredibly preventable. Jackie: Yeah. Gabe: I know we don’t need to keep saying that it’s a movie, but in the movie, the Joker’s crimes led to massive loss of life, literal riots in the street. I mean, just pandemonium over an entire city. And in the big end, the scene when all of the city was just literally on fire at this point, all I could think of is, wow, that looks a lot more expensive than probably what the social services budget was. Wow. That was a, that was a, that was a good decision there. Yeah. Yeah. Mass savings. Jackie: All I could think when I saw that scene was we are not above this right now. Again, can’t separate it from real life because that’s who I am as a person, even though I’ve tried. I’m watching this person who’s committed these atrocious crimes being celebrated by lots of other people who get to even wear masks to hide who they are to the rest of the world to also commit atrocious crimes. And they’re all having the time of their lives and I’m just watching this going, again, a little too close to home. I don’t know. Seems like it could happen tomorrow. Basically. Gabe: Obviously, I don’t want to fundraise or advocate on the idea that if you don’t give people with mental illness, resources and money, we will burn the country down. That just sounds so awful and I don’t want that to be our message. But I have to tell you the message of please stop abusing the vulnerable and the mentally ill and the sick because this is atrocious and we are supposed to be better than this isn’t working. That message is not working. I don’t want to use this other message. I don’t like this other message. I don’t want people to be fearful of me. I want to be able to get a job. And I don’t want people to wonder when I’m going to snap and come in and shoot the place up or blow it up or set it on fire or, you know, paint my face with makeup. I don’t know. But it’s just so sad. The richest country on the planet, we’re supposed to be a Christian nation. We’re supposed to love our neighbors and care for one another. But in the meantime, we’re literally cutting services to sick, desperate, impoverished, vulnerable people every single day. More and more people are being stored, they’re being stored in prisons and state hospitals and jails and in and out of drop-in centers. And nobody cares. Nobody cares. This movie probably does show the worst-case scenario. But we’re on the path. Jackie: Do you think that movies like this are hurting the cause? Or do you think that the cause is already fucked so the movie doesn’t change anything? Gabe: Realistically, it’s absolutely hurting the cause. It’s making people with mental illness look violent and problematic and horrific. I like this movie, though, because it does actually show that there was no safety net. It showed that he was med compliant until they stopped giving him his meds. I like that I’ve seen all over social media for the last couple of weeks the note that Joker wrote in his notebook, which I’m paraphrasing now, which it said the problem with being mentally ill is everybody expects you to behave as if you aren’t. And that really spoke to me, spoke to me a lot. I’m sorry, it came from a psycho villain, but it’s true. The problem with being mentally ill is people expect you to behave as if you aren’t. And that’s impossible, especially without resources. But yeah, I think that people are simple. And I think that the simple message that people are going to carry is see, we told you people with mental illness were violent. This proves it. Even though it’s a frickin’ Batman movie. Come on. Jackie: Well, this is why I think we can’t separate the movie from the world we live in right now. Yes, it’s entertainment. Sure. Anything goes in movies. But with the current climate around mental illness, around gun violence, around mentally ill people being violent, I just don’t think that we can separate them. Gabe: Society probably can’t. We do get a lot of our mental health, knowledge and information and education from pop culture, which is stupid, and I really wish everybody would stop it. But to your point, Jackie, that is where people are learning it. So I guess we need filmmakers to make more accurate portrayals of mental illness. And I’m having a hard time, a really hard time defending the fact that the Joker isn’t accurate. I think it’s pretty accurate. Jackie: I know because what happened to him at the end was not accurate, but the lead up his whole life. You know that all the things we’ve reiterated 500 times already. It is accurate. So did the filmmakers do a good job? Yes. Did they turn it into a movie for entertainment purposes? Yes. So what’s good and what’s bad? Did it do just as much good as it did bad? Gabe: That’s really hard to say, and I don’t know, it’s gotten people talking about it. I have seen a lot of memes on Facebook, a lot of conversations on social media. People have asked me about it. So in this way that I think it’s good. But, you know, for every person that asks an intelligent question, that wants an intelligent answer, there’s 100 people in a mob that are just like, see, we told you so. There was a fictional movie in my theater and we’ve now decided it’s real. And these are the things that, you know, help spread misogyny and racism and rape culture and toxic masculinity and make people not understand one another. There’s so much hatred and those flames are fanned, unfortunately, with fictional portrayals. Jackie: It goes back to whatever we remember becomes the truth. So everybody remembers that. So that becomes what happened in real life. And I think that a lot of these fictional portrayals of people, whether they’re real people or they’re representing a class of people or a type of person, we remember these tropes. Like they’re stereotypes, and whether they’re there for a reason or not, whatever. We remember that people are going to remember Joker as a mentally ill character. And if they don’t know anybody in their life to help them erase that version of the truth or they don’t do any research or they don’t pay attention. That’s what they’re going to remember. Gabe: I hope they remember that the Joker was a mentally ill person who was cut off from society, denied resources and abused by all the people around him before he snapped because that, that would be progress. Jackie: Gabe, I feel like that’s a great place to wrap this up. Thank you, everyone, for listening to Not Crazy. I want to remind you that we do funny stuff at the end of the episode. So listen, all the way through to the end while you’re doing that, maybe like us on social media, interact with us, share this with your friends, send us some emails at show@PsychCentral.com. See you next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to Not Crazy 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. To work with Jackie, go to JackieZimmerman.co. Not Crazy travels well. Have Gabe and Jackie record an episode live at your next event. E-mail show@psychcentral.com for details. View the full article
  20. By the time you read this blog, two or three people will have taken their lives. In fact, every 40 seconds someone completes suicide; Close to 800,000 die by suicide every year. According to the World Health Organization, there are more deaths from suicide than from war and homicide together. Suicide is the second leading cause of death between people ages 15 to 29. These statistics don’t surprise me since I’ve lost two family members and several friends to suicide, and about one third of the people I know have lost a loved one to suicide. I am familiar with the desperation and rationale that leads someone to this decision, as I have experienced weeks, months, even years teetering on the edge of life, not sure whether or not to stick around. That’s why today I’m joining health advocates on World Mental Health Day 2019 to raise awareness of the prevalence of suicide around the world and to do my small part in trying to prevent it. Following is a letter I wrote a year ago when I was battling strong suicidal thoughts. My hope is that it will encourage someone in cyberspace to keep breathing and to delay the decision to end your life, if only by an hour … and then another hour. Having recently passed through the valley of darkness, I can say with confidence that all things do pass, and I thank God that I didn’t let desperation and hopelessness determine that decision for me. I kept on going five minutes at a time — and did the next thing in front of me — even if that was simply existing, curled up in a ball in my bed. I stayed alive and I am glad I did. Letter to a Suicidal Person Dear Suicidal Person, I write this in the midst of suicidal thoughts myself. I’ve been battling them off and on over the last six months. In the recent past, I haven’t publicized my struggle because I didn’t want those around me to think I was unstable, incompetent, or freakish. I feared the judgement of others who have never experienced these kinds of thoughts. However, I have already lost two family members to suicide. I don’t want to lose anymore. And I want to stay alive myself. By describing them out loud they lose their power over me. Maybe my words will help you feel less alone or ashamed. Tell Someone I know you feel the only way out of your pain is to stop your pulse. That, unfortunately, is a fantasy. Swallowing the pills or firing the handgun will only result in more pain. It is my theory that you will have to work out the gunk you’re running from in some alien world without a body. And then, of course, there’s the pain that you would leave your loved ones, especially your children. The only real solution, I have found, is to tell someone. Preferably your physician or therapist. Maybe your partner or a friend who won’t judge you. Consider calling a suicide hotline or checking yourself into the hospital. Trained volunteers, such as those at The Samaritans, provide an invaluable service to severely depressed people who call or email them in desperation. Talking about suicidal thoughts saves lives. I know this. Because people realize that other good, grateful, Zen-like people experience them, too. The thoughts that try to convince you to leave this world simply come with severe depression. They are mere symptoms, like hiccups, of a brain condition or fragile chemistry that feels at times too painful to endure. Just as chills, nausea, and fatigue are symptoms of the flu, the chronic ruminations demanding a fast exit from here are symptoms of acute depression and anxiety. They mean you are sick rather than “bad.” They are not an indictment of your character. Do the Thing in Front of You I realize your suicidal thoughts may have been with you a long time and you can’t live in the hospital psych ward indefinitely. Keep on talking. Keep on being real. Try your best to learn how to become your own trained professional and tease apart your thoughts until you arrive at the truth that will keep you safe from harming yourself. Sometimes it’s best to stop thinking and simply do the thing that is in front of you — whether that means doing the dishes or calling a friend — and delay the decision to end your life by five minutes at a time, then 10 minutes, then 15 minutes. If the only thing you can do is keel over and cry, then do that, and know that you are doing the most important thing in the world in this very moment: staying alive. Reduce Your Pain Don’t trust the vision you have right now. It is a distorted picture formed in desperation and from an imbalance of pain. Martha Ainsworth of metanoia.org explained that suicidal thoughts are an imbalance of pain versus coping resources. The answer rests in finding a way to reduce your pain and increasing your coping resources. “People often turn to suicide because they are seeking relief from pain,” she explains. “Remember that relief is a feeling. And you have to be alive to feel it. You will not feel the relief you so desperately seek if you are dead.” Making that distinction has saved my life on countless occasions. I realized that I didn’t want to die. I simply wanted a reprieve from my pain. I trusted that the relief would eventually come because all of our feelings and thoughts — and especially our most excruciating pain — are impermanent. And relief did come. All kinds of feelings — positive and negative — can’t last forever because nothing does. So taking your life is a permanent action for a temporary problem. You are in the valley of darkness and will soon see the light. Your vision will be restored and you will experience hope again. You can trust me on this because I’ve been where you are many times and have always come out the other side stronger and restored. Stay Alive The most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life is to resist taking my life in the midst of severe, intense, chronic suicidal thoughts. I try to remind myself every now and then that no matter what I do from here on out, I am already a success because I am alive. I somehow managed to resist the incredibly convincing messages of my brain — the forceful urges of my psyche — to make an exit out of this world. I once compared not taking your life in the midst of intense suicidal thoughts to not sneezing when you have an urge. People who have battled intense compulsions can relate to this. Everything inside of you thinks that disappearing from this world is the only way that the pain will subside, but that is a lie. Your only job today is to stay alive. Keep breathing, one moment at a time. You will eventually see that the painful thoughts, as convincing as they are, are a season and won’t last forever. You’re not alone. I want you to know that you’re in the company of very competent and likable people. This isn’t about you being pathetic or not holding it together. Certain brain circuits are just over-activated from stress or grief or some other reason and your neurons are firing off nasty text messages to the wrong communication centers. Your illness is flaring up much like a case of psoriatic arthritis under stress. Be gentle with yourself. This is not your fault. Please tell someone. Know it will pass. And keep breathing. Sincerely, Therese View the full article
  21. Are you always in control and always perfectly put together? Are you professionally successful, a great friend, and always showing a happy face to the world? But what about on the inside? Is there something in the background or in the past that you don’t talk about? Do you feel disconnected, like no one knows the “real” you? Deep down do you just know something is wrong? Well, you might have “perfectly hidden depression.” Today Gabe speaks with Dr. Margaret Rutherford who has done extensive work on the relationship between perfectionism and depression. Dr. Rutherford tells us how childhood trauma can lead to the development of coping mechanisms that don’t serve us as adults and how those behaviors might be masking depression. Then she shares how to challenge those beliefs and show ourselves the same compassion we would give to anyone else. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Hidden Depression’ Podcast Episode Dr. Margaret Rutherford, a clinical psychologist, has practiced for twenty-six years in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Earning the 2009 Arkansas Private Practitioner of the Year award for her volunteer work at a local free health clinic, she began blogging and podcasting in 2012 to destigmatize mental illness and educate the public about therapy and treatment. With a compassionate and common-sense style, her work can be found at https://DrMargaretRutherford.com, as well as HuffPost, Psych Central, Psychology Today, The Mighty, the Gottman Blog and others. She hosts a weekly podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. And her new book, Perfectly Hidden Depression: How to Break Free from the Perfectionism that Masks Your Depression, will be published by New Harbinger in November 2019. 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 Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Hidden Depression’ 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: Welcome to the Psych Central Podcast, where each episode features guest experts discussing psychology and mental health in everyday plain language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard. Gabe Howard: Welcome, everyone, to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Podcast. Calling in to the show today we have Dr. Margaret Rutherford, a clinical psychologist who has practiced for 26 years in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She’s the author of a new book, Perfectly Hidden Depression: How to Break Free from the Perfectionism that Masks Your Depression. Margaret, welcome to the show. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Thank you very much. I’m more than delighted to be here. This is a subject I’ve been passionate about for over 5 years, so any time I get to talk about it, I’m delighted. Gabe Howard: Well, that’s wonderful. Now you have been a therapist, as we established, for well over twenty five years. How did you come up with the term perfectly hidden depression and why do you decide to write a book about it? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Well, I actually was sitting down to write a blog post one day. I had been blogging for, I don’t know, a couple of years by that. And I thought about several people that I had seen and I just sort of thought well, they are perfectly hidden. They don’t talk about their depression, they’re not open about their depression. But if I say, gosh, could you be aware that there’s something in the background that you’ll tell me a bad story or a painful story and there’s a smile on your face, but you’re not crying about it. So there was this problem between someone talking about something traumatic and yet not having any kind of painful emotion that was connected with it. Gabe Howard: I know that a lot of times people think that depression is supposed to look a certain way. Whenever we see pictures of depression, it’s always somebody with their hands on their head or they are crying or dark storm clouds. But that’s not really the reality. There’s a lot of people who suffer from depression that upon visual inspection look perfectly fine. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Yes. And you know, in the literature that’s often called high-functioning depression or smiling depression. These are people who really know that they are depressed, that they have even the classic symptoms of depression, like it’s hard to get out of bed or they’re not as enjoying as many activities that they had in the past or something like that, or they even know when they get home from the office, here comes this negative energy or with this tendency to want to withdraw. Perfectly hidden depressed people can look like that. They can be aware on one level that they are depressed. The difference is there’s also a huge group of them that really don’t actually know they’re depressed. They have been hiding for so long. They have been pushing away trauma or painful emotions. Maybe they weren’t even allowed to talk about pain when they were children. There are all kinds of situations that can foster a perfectly hidden depression. And so this process is so automatic that they’re not really sure anymore. They know maybe their gut is telling them something’s wrong with this little tiny voice inside of them says, you know, this isn’t right. You should be happier. You should be actually more fulfilled. But they try not to listen that voice, because, of course, their major focus is on looking like they have the perfect looking life. Gabe Howard: I know that when I was depressed, I thought that it was some sort of moral failing and, you know, my parents would say things to me like, well, what do you have to be upset about? Why? Why aren’t you happy? You have more than others. You know, I grew up in the era where we heard about, you know, starving children in other countries all the time when we didn’t want to eat dinner. So there was just always this comparison. And that made me, as a young adult, believe, well, yeah, since I don’t have a reason to be depressed, I must not be depressed. Is that what you’re trying to highlight and discuss with, you know, your work, your research, and in your book? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: That’s certainly one of the traits. There are 10 commonly shared traits of perfectly hidden depression, Gabe. And one of them is an emphasis on counting your blessings to the point where you don’t even see that some blessings have vulnerabilities or problems attached to them. For example, I have a successful practice in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I’m very proud of that. I’ve worked hard for that. I’m very honored by that. But sometimes I get tired and we all have… Maybe you’re a great beauty or you’re wealthy and you wonder, are people attracted to me because I’m beautiful or because I’m wealthy? Let’s say someone has four children and they love having a big family. But then when it comes down to carting children to four different things or or having four different sets of homework or just buying clothes for four kids. There are some hardships that come along with blessings. And when you are trying to, well, what you said you were told as a child you don’t have anything to complain about. Then you were told, don’t talk about vulnerability, don’t talk about pain. It’s unseemly. You’re not being grateful. And I think that that sets up this dynamic where you shame yourself for not being grateful enough. Perfectly hidden depressed people, and even perfectionists in general, that perfectionism is often fueled by shame. Where you do you have to do your very best, because if you don’t, there are all kinds of shameful consequences for that. And you are completely self-critical and not counting their blessings is one of those criticisms. Gabe Howard: Has research demonstrated a relationship between perfectionism and depression? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Yes, perfectionism actually started being written about, I don’t want to go into too much history, but back in the 1930s. It began getting some attention as a psychological problem. And there are some researchers now that are actually finding some correlation and a strong correlation between perfectionism and suicide. When I think about some of my own patients thinking, OK, what are the threads that might define or identify these people? What are the things that they spend a lot of time thinking about or doing? And I came up with 10 of them. Some I’ve already mentioned like being highly perfectionistic with a lot of shame, having an excessive sense of responsibility. These are people who have their hands up in the air all the time. They stay in their head. They tend to be very rational people. They detach from pain by being analytical. They worry a lot and they need a lot of control over themselves and their environment. They can easily focus on tasks because what they do is how they feel valuable. This is the kind of person that if they go to a party and they’re not given a role to do, they’re very uncomfortable. They really don’t know. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: So they’ll start picking up plates. They’ll assign themselves some role because that’s where they’re most comfortable. Again, I’ve said this already. They don’t allow people into their own inner world, but they really sincerely focus on the well-being of others. They mean it’s not made up. It’s not fake. They discount personal hurt or sorrow. And they have hardly any self-compassion. They believe strongly in counting your blessings. We all often talk about that. They actually may enjoy success professionally, in fact, but they don’t know how to be emotionally intimate in their relationships. So their relationships are often very troubled. And the last one is something a little different. A lot of times these folks will show up in your office or just in life with a panic disorder or an eating disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder or an addiction. And when you think about that, the thread of all those disorders is the fact that they’re all about control. So they may have some accompanying diagnostically accurate mental health issues. And those are important to address. But the important fact about them for me, with perfectly hidden depression is the fact that those diagnoses reflect a problem with control. Gabe Howard: Is there a way that a person can recognize this in themselves, if I’m somebody listening and I’m listening to what you said, or are there some cues or questions that I can ask myself so that I know if I’m falling under this? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: That’s a great question, Gabe. You know, one of the people said to me, in fact, many people said to me, “When I saw the term perfectly hidden depression, I knew you had figured something out about me. Yes, I’m perfect looking. But yes, I have known something was wrong for a long time. And I am lonely and I’m despairing. No one knows me. And I have these thoughts of hurting myself that I don’t share with anybody.” I mean, I think you could recognize yourself in those 10 commonly shared traits. Probably the only one I hope that got confusing a little bit was the one talking about the other diagnoses that could accompany it. But I think even if you’re one of that huge group that I talked about a few minutes ago, that really this has become so automatic or unconscious that they don’t quite realize what they’re doing. They would never tell you that they were, depressed, however. What the people I interviewed told me is what they are very clear about is that they’re getting lonelier and lonelier. It’s getting harder and harder to maintain that mask. You’re feeling more and more pressured at work or at church or wherever you put your energies. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Because once you accomplish something, you have this sense of now that’s my “I have to top that.” And then the next one is I have to top that and I have to top that. The pressure is incredible. We know on a gut level and they know on a gut level if it’s them or you know what, if it’s you that something is amiss. And when you go back to your childhood and you think, how could I have learned this? You figure out, well, I was screamed at because I was told I would be no good. And so I decided to look perfect all the time or I took care of everybody in my family because my dad was an alcoholic and I never got to talk about anything bad for me. So, you know, guess what? I’m living my life as an adult that way. Or you were the star of your family where your mother or your dad or both said, “Gosh, you’re so talented. We don’t have to worry about you. You are great. You’re so successful.” And so you took it on like, oh, this is the way I get attention. I have to be this in order to be loved. Gabe Howard: And these are examples of all the things that causes somebody to want to look perfect or appear perfect or be perfect? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Yes, exactly. There are several different causes. There are many roads to Rome, do you say? There are many ways to or paths that lead you to creating this: sexual abuse, neglect, just bad parenting and especially growing up in families where if you were crying or sad or angry or just wanted to voice your own opinion, that was not allowed. You adopted this drive, this strategy, for lack of a better word. I think it’s a good word, in fact, this strategy, to I just can’t let anybody in to my own vulnerabilities. It’s not allowed. I’m shamed for it. So then you shame yourself for it. Many of us have a childhood strategy that we came up with given the family we were born into. And that strategy helped us survive that family. Maybe you were smothered and you learned, you know, I’ve got to sometimes be more independent because I will get smothered if I don’t. We all have different ways we handled our parents’ vulnerabilities. What happens as an adult is often that strategy is no longer working. But we’re still using it. And so a perfectionist may have learned in their childhoods that they needed to create a perfect looking life in order to handle whatever was going on in the family. But then you come into adult life and looking perfect is something you’re still doing, but it’s gradually going to erode and sabotage your own joy and fulfillment in life. Gabe Howard: We’ll be right back after this message from our sponsor. 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. Gabe Howard: And we’re back with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. So what can somebody do if they identify with perfectly hidden depression? Is there an end? Can they get better? What’s the solution? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: You know, I thought this book was… I was going to describe something. And I sent my book proposal in to all the publishing houses and that’s what it was. New Harbinger got back to me and said, no, no, no, no, no. If you want to describe it, fine, you need to do that. But you also need a treatment strategy. Gabe Howard: Wow. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: And so. Oh, goodness. And so what I did was I came up with a model that I use with almost every patient. They don’t have to be perfectionists. It’s a general model of what I do with therapy. And the model is you have to be conscious. Consciousness is the first stage. You have to be committed. So consciousness, commitment and with perfectionists, there are a lot of hurdles to commitment. A lot of them. Then you have to confront beliefs that you learned in childhood. This is really sort of cognitive behavioral work where you go back and you look at what you learn. You should, ought, must, have to, always do. And you begin to question those beliefs. Some of them are great, but which ones are causing a problem? And you look back on all that with an objective eye as much as you can, and then begin to think what beliefs do I want to live through? What beliefs do I want to live by now? The fourth stage is connection. And this is one of the toughest for perfectionists because we’re going to go back and do a trauma timeline about their childhoods. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: What that means is you go back at year 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 11, whatever years you think are important. And you talk about the positive things that happened, but you also let yourself write down the painful things that happened. And as you do that, you want to go back with self-compassion. What would you do with anybody else? Now, of course, all of that is about really rediscovering or discovering a new way of being for you. The last part is the part that’s about change. Changing your behavior. If I’ve learned one thing as a therapist, I’ve learned you get a lot of insights. Insight is wonderful; insight is great; insight helps you see things. It helps put the puzzle pieces together. But where you get your hope is in behavior change. What’s it like to act on these new beliefs? What’s it like to confront something that you’re sabotaging yourself with? What’s it like to feel emotions that you have suppressed for so long? It’s probably pretty frightening, actually. And so you want to start putting those things into your own life and into your behavior. And that’s where you’re going to get your hope. Gabe Howard: I’m fascinated by this idea that something that individuals did not know was a problem is able to change their life in such a dramatic fashion. What kind of feedback are you getting from people who have utilized these methods? How are their lives improving by embracing this? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: That’s a great question. I will tell you, and I promise you, I’m not being dramatic, just this year I’ve had two people have said to me, I wouldn’t be alive right now if I had not done this work. They actually were so miserable that they had those thoughts and they were so afraid they were going to act on them that that’s why they came into my practice. So I don’t think that’s true of everybody. But what I have heard is that, for example, one woman came, a young woman came into my office and she said there’s something about that term, “perfectly hidden depression” that I’m drawn to, and I’m not sure why. Well, come to find out. There was a lot of trauma in her lifetime that she had never talked about with anybody, didn’t even see it as trauma. When I used the term trauma, she started laughing. Oh, that’s not traumatic. And her father had hit her so violently when she was a young child that she’d had surgeries on her face. Gabe Howard: Wow. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: She didn’t consider that traumatic. So you’re trying to wake people up to the idea that what they have considered well, that was just my life or again, they have discounted it of what their reaction would be to someone else telling them that had happened in their lives, they would be horrified. And so you’re inviting people to get in touch with feelings. Another example, and this is gonna be about sexual abuse. So please listen carefully if you have any history of that. But a woman came in who had had a college sexual relationship, a boyfriend, that she had been with him for years, and he had been sexually abusive to her. When she first brought it up, she said, “You know, maybe this is important, maybe it’s not. But, you know, I should probably tell you about this relationship in college.” Yeah. I mean, it was very important in the way she was living her present life. So often these people just want you to confirm was this trauma, was this more difficult than I thought? Gabe Howard: It’s obviously interesting to think about what we see as trauma and other people versus what we think about as traumatizing for ourselves. The examples that you used. I’m like, oh yeah, that that’s absolutely traumatic. But maybe you don’t recognize that in yourself. Is this what you’re noticing? Could there be perfectly hidden trauma? I mean, does all of this sort of go hand in hand? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Huh, that’s an interesting kind of thought, isn’t it? Yes. I mean, I think we are in a culture often that tells us to buck up. Don’t call it a problem. You know, you’re whining. Quit it. It’s selfish to think about that. In fact, it’s one of the funny, not funny but ironic examples. Years ago, you know, I had 7 or 8 patients a day typically, and sometimes I run real tight between sessions and one person had gone and the other person who came in, I don’t know, a minute after her sat exactly where she had sat on the sofa so she could feel the warmth of the body, warmth from the sofa that was still holding that warmth from the other person. And she looked at me and she said, you know, all of a sudden I get this feeling that I bet that person’s problems are a lot more important than mine. I feel silly being here. And I looked at her and I said, so you felt warmth on the sofa and somehow you jumped to the idea and the belief that you’re not important. Why you’re here isn’t important. So help me understand that. Amazing to me how many people have things in their life that they have very courageously gotten through. And I admire their courage. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: I admire their resilience. It’s when resilience is on steroids that I have the problem. Don’t sweat the small stuff. OK, fine. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but sweat the big stuff and call it big. Berne Brown, of course, has written incredibly and presented incredibly about shame and vulnerability. One of her tenets is that you could only get to courage through vulnerability. She said a man stood up in the audience because people kind of going in, well, you know, maybe. But courage is courage. Courage is a lack of fear. And the soldier stood up, he had had three stints in Iraq. He’d been shot at. I mean, he’d seen people die and he looked at her and said, you are so right. I was afraid over there. And I had to recognize that fear and that vulnerability before I could get to my courage. Rudy Giuliani said it after 9/11. And I’m not going to say it as eloquently as he did. But he said something like, I thought I knew the definition of courage before 9/11, and that was the absence of fear. I found out that I’m wrong. Courage is feeling your fear and going forward. Recognizing vulnerability, admitting vulnerability, revealing vulnerability. And that way you can work your way toward true courage. Gabe Howard: Dr. Rutherford, I completely agree and I’ve learned a lot and of course, getting to the end of our show, obviously we can find the book on Amazon. What is your Web site? I know that you write for PsychCentral.com. So obviously you can check out Dr. Margaret Rutherford there. Where can folks find you if they want to learn more? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Sure. My Web site has the creative name of DrMargaretRutherford.com. Gabe Howard: I love it. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: And I’ve been blogging there for seven years. I do have a tag. You know, if you click on the tag, it will take you to all my posts on perfectly hidden depression. I also have a podcast that I’ve been doing for three years now. It’s called Self Work with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. And that’s on i-Tunes, on Stitcher, SoundCloud. It’s now on Spotify and I Heart Radio. So I really love the podcast. I can go more in depth with topics on the podcast than I can through blog posts. You know, I can spend 20-25 minutes talking about something where, you know, a blog post maybe has maybe a thousand words. I’ve got a Facebook page, I’m on Instagram, Pinterest, it’s all under Dr. Margaret Rutherford or Pinterest is Doctor Slash Margaret, I think. I would love to have your listeners join me. And the book does come out November 1. I’m thrilled that New Harbinger is publishing it. It is a much better book because they were involved because I’ve never written anything. I never thought I would write anything. And they have made it really, I think, a very readable book. I include lots of stories of these people I interviewed as well as my own patients, of course, anonymously. So I hope you’ll join me there. Gabe Howard: Thank you so much, Dr. Rutherford. My final question before we hop on out of here is did you have personal reasons for writing this book? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Yes, I did. I wouldn’t call myself perfectly hidden and depressed. But certainly, my mother was. She ended taking anxiety medications in her thirties that developed into a prescription drug addiction and actually sabotaged a great deal of her life in the last decade or two of her life. But my mother was extremely perfectionistic. I can remember the dining room table being set for a party and we couldn’t go in there for a week. I remember that party would occur and my mother would ask me, was the food any good? Because she would always look for people who needed her help or her conversation because they might be uncomfortable. She got up at 4:00 in the morning so no one would see her without her makeup and her high heels and hose. I mean, that’s maybe being Southern and being a 1950s housewife, but a lot of it was her perfectionism. So I saw how miserable it made her. And I also adopted a great deal of her perfectionistic standards until I became a therapist. And I began working my own way through those and realizing that those were actually my mother’s vulnerabilities speaking to me and I no longer wanted to live my life like that. So people have said to me, your mother would be so proud of you for talking about yourself on the Internet. And I said, no. My mother would think it was terrible. So I don’t want people to live in that same prison that my mother lived in. And I hope that it will be helpful to those who want to get out. Gabe Howard: Well, thank you so very much for everything that you do for our community. Thank you for everything that you do for PsychCentral.com. And thank you for being on today’s show. We really, really appreciated having you. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: The thanks is mine, and the gratitude is mine, Gabe. Thank you very much for asking me and everyone have a wonderful day. And if you are hiding, please, if you can, get the e-book if you don’t want to buy it for real. There’s also an e-book and an audio book is coming. Gabe Howard: Very cool. And remember, everybody, if you want to interact with the show on Facebook, all you have to do is go over to PsychCentral.com/FBshow. And don’t forget to review our show on whatever podcast player you found us on. Do me a favor, tell a friend to share us on social media. 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 everybody next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Psych Central Podcast. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/show or on your favorite podcast player. To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at GabeHoward.com. PsychCentral.com is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, PsychCentral.com offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at PsychCentral.com. If you have feedback about the show, please email show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening and please share widely. View the full article
  22. When life throws us challenges, it can be beneficial to have ways to comfort ourselves amidst intense feelings of fear, worry, sadness, or other strong emotions. We all have moments like this, whether it might be waiting for a loved one’s phone call when we are worried about their well-being, awaiting medical test results, feeling fear about some upcoming situation, experiencing loss or grief, feeling anxious about a test we have to take, or waiting for someone we care about to come out of surgery. Large or small, these moments can feel interminable and can be difficult to get through. How do we help ourselves through such moments? Sitting meditation, with eyes closed, can sometimes be a helpful practice when we encounter difficult emotions, but when emotions are very heightened this can be hard for people to engage in — and may even be contraindicated at times. The following is a short meditation practice that can be done with eyes open, sitting or moving about as you choose. This meditation uses the acronym S.A.F.E., and its purpose is to help cultivate feelings of safety and stability, even amidst some of life’s challenging moments. S — Send yourself compassion and care. While self-compassion might seem like a foreign concept for many people, the power of self-compassion has been well documented. One way you might begin to send yourself compassion is by acknowledging that what you are experiencing is difficult, and by reminding yourself that you are not alone. Sometimes, during times of distress, we can feel deeply alone with our fear, sadness, grief or other intense emotions. It can be immensely helpful to acknowledge that: (1) other people in your community or in the world (even if you don’t know them) are probably struggling in similar ways and (2) you can be there for yourself. When we can acknowledge our own suffering as part of a larger, shared humanity, as Kristen Neff suggests, and when we can reach out to the parts of us that are feeling scared or hurt or sad, this can help to make our pain more bearable. You might try putting one hand on your heart and the other hand on your abdomen (which psychiatrist Dan Siegel describes in his book Brainstorm) to send soothing messages to the nervous system. Feel the gentle pressure of your hands as you say some simple phrases that acknowledge whatever you are experiencing. For example, “this is difficult, I am not alone in experiencing this, I’ll get through this.” A — Accept, Allow and Anchor Accept and allow that whatever you are feeling is O.K. While emotions may at times be highly uncomfortable, we often can add fuel to the fire by feeling bad about what we are feeling. It is common for people to say to themselves “I shouldn’t be feeling this, this is stupid. I shouldn’t let this bother me. I need to be strong” or other variations on this theme. Know that you don’t have to fight to push away your feelings or feel something different than you do. At the same time, these feeling don’t have to completely swallow you up or sweep you away. This is where the anchor comes in. Picture an anchor of a ship, holding that ship safe and secure in the harbor even as the storms pass by. At the surface of the water there might be great turbulence, but deep underneath the water, where the anchor is, there is stillness. As you think about this image you might focus on just one thing for a few moments that gives you a sense of being anchored, such as the constant rhythm of your breath coming in and going out, or the feeling of your feet making contact with the solid earth beneath you, or a person in your life who is a steady support for you. F — Face this moment with all of the resources you have. Take a moment to think about all of the inner and outer resources that you have to help you get through this current challenge. Call to mind qualities within yourself that have helped you to get through other challenges in your life, qualities such as courage, resilience, perseverance, the ability to find gratitude, or patience. Also call to mind resources outside of yourself that are available as supports to you, including people in your life who you might reach out to, organizations, groups, or professionals who are available to help you. If you are able, write down all of the inner and outer resources that you thought of. Imagine this circle of caring that surrounds you. You are not alone. E — Engage in something here and now. Find an activity that allows you to bring your full attention into the present moment. If there is something you can do about the problem at hand, you might choose to fully focus on that task. For example, if you just got news that your parent has dementia, you might focus on finding as many resources as possible on the internet that might offer you knowledge about next steps and/or supportive organizations in your area. More often than not however, we may be dealing with intense emotions and accompanying ruminating thoughts about a situation for which there are no immediate actions we can take. In these cases, it can be helpful to intentionally engage our attention on something other than our ruminating thoughts. This might include anything from more enjoyable activities such as knitting, gardening, doing a crossword puzzle, going for a walk in nature or playing with a child, to more neutral ones such as folding the laundry with full attention on just that one thing, or washing the dishes. The idea is to try and steady the mind on just that one activity, and when the mind starts to ruminate in unhelpful ways, to bring it back to whatever you are doing, again and again. Bring as many of your five senses into this experience as possible. The mind will wander repeatedly, but the task at hand becomes a kind of anchor we come back to over and over, to guide us back into the present. Many of my patients describe engaging in such activities as “distracting themselves”, but I like to reframe this for them. The ruminating thoughts are the distraction that the mind creates; engaging oneself fully in an activity at hand brings oneself back into the present moment. Practicing each of these four steps in sequence can be a kind of informal meditation practice that can help bring greater ease to some of life’s more challenging moments. View the full article
  23. The only reason your physician asks about your symptoms is because he cannot accurately treat your pain and discomfort, if he doesn’t know where that pain and discomfort is coming from. And even then, being aware of all the symptoms does not mean that he will always get the treatment right the first time, or the second, or ever! Even when patients know how to accurately describe their symptoms, cases of misdiagnosis and worsening symptoms after treatment abound. We now know that knowing the symptoms is not always synonymous with knowing the cause. I like to think of children’s anxiety along the same lines. Identifying what drives your child’s anxiety can be easy — changing schools, going to an activity where he’s scared of the facilitator, a fear of swimming pools, feeling like he won’t be able to make friends; these are all normal anxiety-provoking situations for a child, and they are generally easier to “fight” when you know what monster you have to fight against. But there are times when a child shows all the symptoms of anxiety, but you can’t quite place a finger on the source. Dealing with this type of anxiety can place you on quite slippery terrain. Our daughter’s anxiety began as would any other child’s. She was shifting from preschool to elementary school and was scared of what, we thought, was the unexpected. She was going to have a male teacher; until then, she had only had female ones. She was going to start reading. We would no longer be able to accompany her to her class. Things were about to get more “serious.” We have made it a habit to speak to our kids about it being normal to have difficult emotions, about being able to deal with even the scariest of them. We thought this knowledge would help her sail through the shift, but dealing with her anxiety took longer than we would have ever imagined. The thing is, the shift sparked the anxiety, but we only saw the surface, the tip of the iceberg. Her anxiety was on and off, and she was unable to pinpoint where it came from. She talked about being scared, but the things that sparked her fears changed at dizzying speed. We were up against an invisible monster. What we knew for sure was that she was going through an anxious episode and we had to do something to ensure her anxiety didn’t ruin her first year in elementary school. These are the three things that worked for us: 1. We found out what worked. Kids will not always react in a given manner. The last time our daughter had a bout of anxiety, worry dolls had worked wonders. This time around, they wouldn’t do. The thing is, young kids do not necessarily connect “the same feeling” with the same “coping mechanism.” There’s good news and bad news for parents who have to deal with natural worriers. The good news is that there are thousands of coping mechanisms to help your child manage anxiety. The bad news is that not all those mechanisms will work for your child, meaning that you have to adopt a “test and see” approach. The appropriate coping mechanism has to feel right to help your kid learn to manage his anxiety by himself. 2. We chose not to focus on fear and anxiety. Seeing your child struggling with fear and anxiety can be hard. A common reaction is to try and protect her, but here’s the thing: focusing on your child’s anxiety-related temperament and behavior makes it worse, not better. The more we spoke to our child about anxiety, the bigger her fears grew. These two things worked for us: We completely stopped talking about anxiety and fear and started focusing on positive behavior that would help her deal with that anxiety. We stopped reinforcing her behavior by hanging around at drop off. We started telling her we had to leave, and that we knew she’d have a great day, and started leaving confidently without turning around after saying goodbye. 3. We taught her that it is possible to feel fear and still be brave. Try as we might, we cannot get rid of “big” emotions. Difficult as they make be, emotions play an important role in our lives. Being emotionally intelligent is not about experiencing less difficult emotions; it is about reacting appropriately to the emotion-provoking situations we encounter every day. Instead of telling our daughter to act as though she was not scared, we taught her to say, “I was scared today, but I still managed to…” or “I felt a bit anxious, but I managed to…” We taught her that even in the midst of big emotions, she could still find balance. This strategy worked especially well because it made her aware of possible options for behavior change. Every time she exhibited the expected behavior, she received a special card (“I felt anxious today, but I still went and played with my friends”). The cards made it easier to understand that it is possible to feel anxious or to be scared and still carry on with “normal activities.” If your child, like our daughter, is a natural worrier, he will need more help than other kids to deal with major changes. The good news is that there are a wide range of strategies that can equip you with the tools you need to help him better manage his anxiety episodes. Remember that if his anxiety seems to increase, his behavior appears extreme, or you feel unable to help, a professional can provide you with strategies adopted to your situation. View the full article
  24. Phobiasupportforum

    Podcast: Explaining Depression To Happy People

    Are you so happy that you can’t understand depression? Not us! While Gabe and Jackie can’t relate to that level of positivity, there are lots of people in the world who simply can’t fathom what depression feels like. Despite their best efforts, naturally happy people can have a hard time understanding depression and in Episode 2, we discuss how to explain depression to happy people, including both of our spouses who are, to be honest, annoyingly peppy. We give tips on how to approach the topic and share our own personal experiences of having this hard-to-understand conversation. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW 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. Jackie Zimmerman has been in the patient advocacy game for over a decade and has established herself as an authority on chronic illness, patient-centric healthcare, and patient community building. You can find her online at JackieZimmerman.co, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Explaining Depression To Happy People’ 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: Welcome to Not Crazy. Here are your hosts, Gabe and Jackie. Gabe: Welcome to Not Crazy. I would like to introduce Jackie Zimmerman. She may have depression, but she also rides a bike 30 miles one way and then inexplicably has to walk back. Jackie: And I’d like to introduce you to my co-host, Gabe Howard, who lives with bipolar and also gave a speech in Tennessee this week. Gabe: Today, we’re going to talk about how to describe depression to people who are happy. Jackie: And also people who don’t believe us. Gabe: And I don’t believe us. Like, they just they simply do not believe that depression is a real medical illness because they liken it to sadness. Jackie: Right. And you can just get over sadness. You can just be happy, just do that. If you’re depressed, just do that. Just be happy. Gabe: There’s a few things in life that you should just be able to do. You should just be able to lose weight. You should just be able to make more money and you should just be able to cheer up. Now, we’re a mental health show, so you’re gonna have to find your own solution to the other two problems. But it’s the just cheer up because wouldn’t it be great if medical illnesses work that way, that you’d just be well. You have asthma. Just breathe. Jackie: Wouldn’t it be great if literally any illness worked that way? I mean, I would say across the board the amount of people who just say, “well, just don’t do that and just be better” is astounding. People think you can just be better. Just be better. Gabe: I’ve lived with bipolar for a long time, it was the first illness that I was ever diagnosed with. I have. I have a ton, a ton of mental health problems. And I was young, so I hadn’t developed any physical health problems yet. So when all of this like stigma and people not believing me and people calling me a liar and people giving me this God awful advice started to happen. I believe that this was just the stigma of mental illness, that the reason people were being so dismissive, giving me advice and being so helpful. And I’m making air quotes, was because people just didn’t respect people with mental illness. And then I started meeting great advocates like you. And you described how people did the same thing about your physical illness, where they would just walk up with no medical degree whatsoever and tell you exactly how to treat your fill in “very serious physical problem” here. Jackie: Well, because everybody knows someone who knows someone who’s had the thing, who fixed it with this other non FDA compliant thing that will work for everybody. So you should just do that thing. Gabe: I’ve been around for so long that I now remember different versions of this is the thing that’s going to cure us all. When I first started, aroma therapy is going to fix us all. And then that morphed into essential oils. Essential oils are going to fix us all. And now it’s cannabis oil. Cannabis oil is going to fix us all. And I’m now just kind of sitting here like just a little giddy, seeing if I can predict in like three or four years. Jackie: Have you been in-taking the cannabis oil?! Gabe: I mean it. Listen. And here’s what’s sad, right? Cannabis oil could have some benefits. This is going to shock people. Aroma therapy has benefits as well. Jackie: No…Yes, of course it does. Gabe: But, yeah. But the benefits aren’t it cures fill in the blank. Jackie: No. Gabe: Listen, your room not smelling like shit makes you feel better. I’m sorry. That’s just I don’t mean it so crassly, but yeah, if you’re sitting alone in a stinky room all alone, you’re probably going to feel bad. Jackie: Yes, I would agree. Yes. I mean, well, I mean, I think it’s worth stating we’re kind of talking right now about people who are naysayers or non-believers we’ll say of maybe they don’t believe you actually have depression or don’t believe depression is a real thing. But when we started talking about this show topic idea of explaining depression to happy people, we weren’t talking about necessarily the naysayers. We were talking about people who just have no idea that depression exists in the world. Gabe and I are married. I was going to say Gabe and I are married. We’re not married to each other. Gabe and I are married to happy… Gabe: Well, you know, you jumped on that quick. You’re like, we’re not married to each other. I don’t. I don’t want anybody to accidentally get it. Are you going to say something like that “There’s nothing wrong with that?” I mean, can’t you at least give me a Seinfeld reference in there? Jackie: No, I was going to say Gabe and I are married to happy people. Gabe: We are. Jackie: We have found some strangely similar qualities in our spouses. They’re both just pleasantly positive people, almost to like a barf degree where they’re just too like, so happy that I can’t relate on a level. I’ve never been, even before, depression struck me pretty rough. I have never been this happy in my life, and that’s just like the base level of where my husband lives. He’s just thrilled all the time to be alive. Gabe: This is what disgusts me, of course, about my wife as well. I have this joke where I say that my wife is so optimistic that if our house was engulfed in flames, if it caught fire and was burning to the ground, my wife would be so happy that we get to have s’mores. This is the level of sunshine and optimism that lives within her. I don’t understand that at all. Just thinking about my house catching on fire has pissed me off for the rest of the day. Jackie: I actually had a house fire and I can I can tell you for certain it’s the worst. So Kendall could be thrilled with the idea of s’mores at a house fire. Having lived through a house fire, I wasn’t in the house, but my house burned down. Gabe: I think that there is good in an opposites attracting about certain things. You know, obviously if you have opposite values that can cause some problems. But in my marriage and speaking only for me, I am very pessimistic and obviously I have depression and anxiety. And so that means that that I worry a lot and then I often see things is very bleak. My wife is on the other side of that spectrum. She’s very optimistic. She tends to see things as very positive and sees the good and beauty in people. The reality is, is both of us are wrong. She needs to understand that sometimes people are out to get you. That’s how you safeguard yourself. It’s why we buy insurance. It’s why we lock our doors at night. It’s why we write contracts and sign them, etc. I’m not I’m not trying to throw my wife under the bus and say, oh, no, you need to hate everybody and constantly be on guard. Jackie: But… Gabe: But. Jackie: There’s some practicality to paranoia at times, like sometimes it’s a built in safety mechanism a little bit in life to, you know, not get eaten by tigers and things. Gabe: Right. Right, because tigers are in Michigan? You have tigers roaming your streets? Jackie: I mean, I was talking about like prehistoric times, but you know what I mean, like the paranoia is an instinct. You know, whether or not it’s right anymore, it has derailed into fear and depression and all these terrifying things, but it has served a purpose. Gabe: I love that your paranoia and depression, you can trace back to prehistoric times. Like that’s how ingrained it is. Jackie: It’s deep rooted, it is in there. Gabe: I think that part of the problem when it comes to people giving advice on depression is that they’re not mean spirited. I don’t think these people are being mean. I don’t think they’re malicious, angry assholes that are attacking us. Their life experience has taught them that when they feel sad, going for a walk, doing yoga, hanging out with friends, going to a movie, taking a deep breath or even using aromatherapy or essential oil lotion works for them because they don’t have a medical condition. They don’t understand that sadness and depression are not even remotely the same thing. Jackie: No, and I think that they are uneducated and ignorant. Gabe: They dumb. Just say they dumb. Jackie: I mean, they are. I was going to say it like ignorant to a fault. Put it in a nice way. Meaning like they’re trying to help. They are trying to help. It’s not helpful. And it’s actually kind of the opposite where it can be a little bit harmful to not get people with depression, treatment and help. But I understand what they’re trying to say. You’re right. This worked for me so it can work for you. But there is a difference. Depression is not sadness. They’re not the same thing. You can be sad for a period of time. And it’s not going to turn into depression. It’s not going to… Gabe: They certainly could. Jackie: It could. Most of the time, though, like when you’re sad, it’s an isolated symptom of something that’s happening in your life. It doesn’t always mean that is depression. Gabe: And this is what we really need to get people to understand. I have depression. Bipolar disorder is depression and mania and everything in between, which means that Gabe has major depression. Gabe has been depressed. But listen, I’m going to blow everybody’s mind. I can also just be sad. So if I am… Jackie: No. Gabe: Sad, your advice of go for a walk, watch a movie, reconnect with your wife, take a break is good advice if I am sad. Jackie: Right. Well. Gabe: Questionable advice if I’m depressed. In fact, it’s awful. It’s awful. Jackie: Don’t get me wrong. Even on my worst days when I am super depressed, if I go outside, breathe the fresh air, maybe feel some sunshine on my face. It does help my mood. Does it actually help my depression? No. There are benefits to it, but it does not fix depression. A walk outside breeze in your hair, sun on your face doesn’t fix depression. Gabe: Isn’t that kind of the thing that just makes this illness mean when you are suffering from depression and you can’t get out of bed? It is beneficial. You see benefit when somebody you love helps you get up, get dressed and walked you around the block, you see benefit. But in their mind, they’ve given it too much credit. They’re like, oh, hey, she’s fixed now. I got her out of bed. It’s sort of a little bit like seeing somebody’s house on fire and you’re like, Oh, I got them out of the house. So I’m done now. And you don’t bother to do anything else. Jackie: I brought a bucket of water. I helped. Gabe: Well right. Jackie: You know. Gabe: The example that I always use is if you need ten thousand dollars and somebody gives you a hundred dollars, you are better off. You are a hundred dollars closer to your goal. But listen, if you need ten thousand dollars. Yeah. You don’t really feel like you’ve been helped all that much. I like that analogy because obviously you would always be kind to somebody who gave you $100 toward your ten thousand dollar goal, but you would also roll your eyes at them if they walked around telling everybody that they solved all of your financial problems. Jackie: I was talking to Adam about this topic and I said to him, what do you know about depression? You are happy. What do you know? And he said that it makes everything harder. And he went into more detail and he said, you know, it’s harder to get out of bed. It’s harder to go to work. It’s harder to cook dinner. Everything is just harder. So if you go back to the idea of somebody like helping you take a walk, right? Yeah. It is so much harder to leave the fucking house and you’re depressed. Like, I don’t want to leave the house ever even when I’m not depressed. I don’t. I like my bubble. I don’t I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to be in the world really that much. So when I’m depressed or it’s cold or it’s raining. I am not leaving the house even when I know it’ll be good for me. So when Adam said today, it makes everything harder. I said, that’s right. But I don’t think you understand the part that is, for me, the most important part is that my depression talks to me. Right. It tells me things. And it most of often it tells me that I’m a piece of shit and I’m not worthy of things and nobody likes me and everything is awful. Gabe: And just to clarify, when you say your depression talks to you like that’s an analogy, you don’t mean that you have psychosis or you’re hallucinating, or that you have delusions. Jackie: No. No. Gabe: Etc.. But but yeah, that’s an I think that’s an excellent analogy, because when I am depressed, I am convinced that I am garbage and that is reinforced by my feelings, my heavy limbs, my inability to do anything. And sometimes my depression gets help from the people around me that say things to me like, well, if you would just get up and clean your house… Jackie: Yes. Gabe: And go to work, you’d feel so much better. Oh, great. Now I’m depressed and it’s my fault. Jackie: Fake it till you make it. Like, no, that it takes energy to fake it. And I don’t have energy when I’m depressed, so I don’t want to do that. Gabe: We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsor. 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. Jackie: And we’re back talking about how to explain depression to annoyingly happy people. Gabe: One of the things that I try to explain to people is that depression has physical symptoms. Jackie: Yes. Gabe: You know? Depression is a mental illness. It is a mental health issue. But just because it’s a mental health issue, just because it’s a mental illness doesn’t mean that it’s devoid of physical symptoms. Feeling tired, your limbs being heavy, having trouble breathing, feeling dizzy, not having the energy to stand up, feeling like you’re going to collapse or fail or not being able to stay awake. And then there’s the physical symptoms that are sort of adjacent. Right. Like what? I’m really, really depressed. I’m not making healthy foods. Jackie: No. Gabe: I’m eating garbage, food. Or I’m not eating at all. I’m not taking a shower. And depending on how bad the depression is, I’ve got myself convinced that ending my life is reasonable. Which means I’m literally, literally fighting for my life. And to think that that has no physical sensations is nonsense. Jackie: Yeah. Gabe: But we go all the way back to. We’re gonna pick on little old Adam for a moment. How could he possibly know that? How could he? Jackie: When your outlook is rainbows, most of the time you can’t fathom that idea. When I explain depression to him, or even when I explain depression to a lot of people in my life, I do use that analogy, and I say “my depression” because I can speak for a lot of people, but I know mine the best and mine, it is like having a little voice and I say this for my depression and anxiety because my brain, me, Jackie, I know it’s bullshit. I know that it’s not real and I know that it’s wrong. And I know all of these things are not really threats or they’re not really terrible. But I have that little part of me that will be like my brain goes, you should call somebody right now, like get somebody to come over and hang out with you. And my depression goes, “Nah, they’re probably tired of hearing about it, hearing you complain and they don’t really like you anymore. So they’re not going to pick up.” It’s this little tiny part of you that talks to you and your brain knows it’s bullshit. My conscious brain knows it’s bullshit, but it’s still there and it still matters. And I still can’t turn it off. And when I explain that again to Adam today, he said, “so it’s always says negative stuff?” And I said, yeah. It always says negative stuff. It never says anything good. It always tells me I’m worthless. I’m stupid. Like I’m never going to achieve what I want to achieve, that I should just stay in bed. But if I do, everybody will hate me because I’m not contributing. And then I hate myself. It’s just this downward spiral, because at no point does my depression go, “Just kidding. You’re all right. Everything’s fine.” Gabe: And then we have to juxtapose that against the idea of suicidality, we have so many problems with understanding suicide in this country, we tend to blame people who die by suicide. We tend to blame people who have attempted suicide. We tend to put a moral value on suicidal thoughts or thinking. Religious organizations have gotten involved and they’ve fractured the debate even more. Then there’s families like, well, my son, daughter, mother, child, husband would never do that to me because they know that they’re loved and they think they’re saying reasonable things. And all of this all of this comes back down to they just don’t think it’s going to happen to them because they don’t understand how serious it is. And more importantly, I don’t think many people realize how common suicide is. Suicide is more common than murder. But we’re all worried about murder, but we’re not worried about suicide. And this is something that we need to worry about. Jackie: I think that you’re right, Gabe, because when most people think about suicide, they think it’s because people actually want to die. They don’t really understand suicide. Gabe: Right. And they don’t want to die. They want the pain to stop. And in most cases, they didn’t end up there in a nanosecond. It got worse and worse and worse and it left untreated. The example that I love to use is pinkeye. Every parent in America, upon hearing the phrase pinkeye, immediately groans. They think I’m going to have to tell all my kids’ friends, the whole family’s going to get it. They’re just annoyed by it. The outcome of untreated pinkeye is blindness. That thing, that annoying medical condition that your child has will make them go blind. But nobody is afraid of it because it can be solved with a $4 bottle of whatever the hell is in the $4 bottle. So even though our children and ourselves are catching this really contagious illness that leads to blindness, we all just push it aside because we’re not worried about it. Jackie: Well, and here’s the really fun part about that whole analogy is while it’s not a one to one analogy, a lot of these things could be assisted, I won’t say cured, with a bottle of pills that may or may not cost more than $4, but assist with depression and anxiety. Gabe: Absolutely. Treatment is available, but there are many barriers to treatment and there are people ready, willing and able to seek mental health treatment that cannot get it. Either they don’t have health insurance. They’re not being supported by their friends and family member who are actively discouraging them from getting it. They live in rural America, where the nearest psychiatrist is 100 miles away and they don’t have access to a car and there is no public transportation. And on and on and on and on. Jackie: I do think that we should probably do an episode devoted specifically to that, because that is just as much of a problem as people not identifying that this is a real thing in the first place. Gabe: Exactly. And let’s focus right in on somebody who’s willing to get help. But the people around them are actively preventing them from doing so. I really just want to say to people that are doing that. Oh, man, you got to live with the outcome of this. I mean, don’t get me wrong. As somebody who has suffered with bipolar disorder, depression, been suicidal and all of this stuff, and that is a hard life. It is a really hard life. But I talk to my family and my mom and dad have told me numerous times that they just feel so bad and they never actively prevented me from getting help, just F.Y.I. But they feel bad because they didn’t realize I was sick. So I can only imagine how badly they would be if they were standing in between me and medical care. So if you’re one of these people that is preventing somebody through your words or lack of support from getting the care that they need, you might want to really take a deep breath and decide if this is the hill that you want to die on. Jackie: Well, and especially if you’re that person, the person you’re saying these things to already feels like they are more alone than they’ve ever been in their entire life. So if they’re even telling you about what’s going on, it’s the smallest little attempt to outreach and you’re basically just pushing them right back by themselves. They already feel like nobody understands. Nobody’s going to help. And you’re basically confirming that to them. So like Gabe said, rethink that. Maybe look at it from another direction. Maybe it wouldn’t be something that helps you, but it’s something that they need to consider for themselves. Gabe: The bottom line is when somebody is in the throes of depression, when they’re suffering from depression, when they think they’re worthless, if they’re contemplating suicide, if they are in so much mental, emotional and physical pain that they cannot see straight, it’s not going to be hard to convince them to do what you want. And if the thing that you want them to do is not seek help, it’s not going to be hard to convince them to do that. And I would love to tell you that through your love and your words, you could convince them to be better. But the world doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t. And we know this. So maybe the best thing that you can do is step aside and say, “I support how you feel.” We do this with religion and politics in healthy families. We say, look, we’re going to agree to disagree. I’m not going to stand in your way. Jackie: So if you’re somebody who’s living with depression right now, Gabe, and you have somebody in your life who is a happy person, and maybe they’re not trying to talk you out of getting treatment or talk you out of doing anything for yourself, they’re just let’s say you’re married to Kendall… Gabe: Oh, my God. Am I married to Kendall? Yay Jackie: Let’s just say you’re somebody with depression who knows someone like Kendall, what are your best tips for explaining depression to somebody who is willing to listen but just can’t understand? Gabe: I believe in brutal honesty. I believe that everybody’s depression, while having similarities, is a little bit different. And everybody has their own analogies. And here’s the nice thing about our families. They get our analogies better than anybody. Jackie: So true. Gabe: They just do. Families have shorthands. We have that. You know, my depression is like Christmas 1985 when, you know, grandpa set the Christmas tree on fire and be be brutal. Be honest. Use real words. We talk about this on this show all the time. You know, don’t say I’m having a mental health crisis. Say I feel like I’m going crazy. Don’t say, oh, I feel sad at night. Say that you feel depressed. You feel like you’re in a deep, dark hole that you can’t escape. Use the words that are meaningful to you. And don’t flinch. And to the loved ones hearing this. Don’t flinch back. And if you do flinch, flinch for real. If it makes you want to cry, cry and hug them. You used Kendall. These are the things that helped. Kendall does not understand what it’s like to live with depression. She doesn’t. And she’s never going to. And the thing that helped me the most in my marriage is she just flat out told me that she said, I am never going to understand what it’s like to be depressed. And man, what what a sigh of relief. Now, I suppose I should put an asterix there and say that’s not how medical conditions work. She might know… Jackie: Right. Gabe: But I hope that she never has to suffer depression. Jackie: Well, if, and if she does, given who she is as a person, she very well may approach it differently or it will feel differently. I think who you are before depression greatly affects how your life goes with depression. Gabe: And to your point, how you deal with your depression is greatly dependent by how the people around you act. Jackie: Yes. Gabe: If Kendall was constantly telling me to cheer up and get better, I would not cheer up and get better. And I’d resent her. I would resent her. I resent her now for being happy. Jackie: You probably wouldn’t be married to her. Gabe: Oh, I know. I run through wives like some people run through shoes. Jackie: That’s a whole other thing, Gabe. Gabe: So you don’t have to understand it to be helpful and you don’t have to have the answers to be helpful. And this is really what we see in mental health all the time, which is the people around us. They want to fix it. They want to have the answers. They want to be the hero. They want to have that piece of advice that saves our life. Jackie: Mm-hmm. Gabe: This is nonsense. Jackie: Yes. Gabe: You can’t do it unless, of course, you’re a top psychiatrist. Jackie: Well, and to top it off, the rule is if you’re a doctor, you can’t treat your family member even when… Gabe: Oh, yeah. It’s illegal. We should point that out too. Jackie: Even when you have the medical knowledge to do it. So if you’re a family member of somebody who’s suffering with depression and you don’t have the medical knowledge to fix it, why on earth would you think that you have anything that can really change the course of their depression, that’s not telling them to go seek somebody who can actually change the course of their depression? Gabe: There may not be an answer to how to explain to people who have never suffered from depression, what exactly depression feels like, and hey, maybe that’s a good thing when it comes to people knowing each other at all. We only know what we tell each other and what we share and what we’ve experienced together. Jackie, I think you’re fantastic. But at the end of the day, I’m only going to know you as well as 1) You let me and 2) as the time that I am willing to put into it. Depression and our emotions and our feelings is very much the same way. I will learn from you because I will keep an open mind to learning from you. Now, there may be disagreements along the way. There may be arguments and there absolutely, unequivocally will be hurt feelings. And you’ve got to push past all of that and learn because listen. Depression thrives on this. The one thing that I feel that every single person with depression has in common is we feel isolated, misunderstood and lonely. So talk to us, hug us, help us. And if you’re going to try to fix us, maybe really think not. Jackie: If you’re somebody trying to help someone else with depression, sometimes it’s just your presence. For me, when I’m really depressed, I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about anything. I don’t even want to, like, actually speak out loud. I just want to be like I want to wallow. That’s what I want to do. My depression makes me want to wallow. But if I can wallow with somebody else in the room, I’m already doing better than I was before. And I might not talk to you. And we may not talk about it. We might not speak at all. We might not do anything other than sit in silence. But that’s better than me sitting by myself. Gabe: And can we all agree, just as maybe a community of people who have suffered from depression in the past or who may be suffering right now, that the happy people are annoying? Jackie: Oh, my God, they’re so annoying, so annoying. Gabe: They’re so annoying. But we probably shouldn’t give them advice on how not to be annoying because then we would be just like them. Jackie: And to be fair, you and I, we married them. Like we chose to love them forever and ever, despite how happy they are. Gabe: Listen. I get my next divorce for free, so I don’t know about this forever and ever thing of which you speak, but you know, she’s good enough for now. Jackie: I don’t have a punchcard like you do. Gabe: Oh, I get so many free, I can loan you some. Hey, Jackie, you know, one of the hallmarks of this show that we’re gonna tell everybody in the first couple of episodes and then they’re gonna have to figure out for themselves is that we always put an outtake at the end of the episode. Did you know that? Did you know that our editor did that? Jackie: I heard it at the end of one of the old episodes. I don’t know, I had a moment where I thought maybe I like hit play on something that was wrong. And then I realized it was a funny thing. So it was supposed to be there. Gabe: Yeah, yeah. It was like you falling off your stool, landing face first and breaking your nose. It was hilarious. We laugh at physical illness here on Not Crazy. But stay tuned until after the credits. And listen to what it is. And it will be week after week after week. And don’t think you’re going to cheat and go look at the transcript. We cut it out of there on purpose. Jackie: Thanks, everyone, for listening today to Not Crazy. And if you’re somebody living with depression and maybe you have one of these like super annoying, happy people in your life, send them this episode. Send them to Not Crazy, send them to Psych Central. Help them understand what your life is like. And until then, subscribe to our podcast, like us on social media, send us an e-mail. Send us hate mail if you want to. But maybe don’t. I don’t know. Have a great week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to Not Crazy 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. To work with Jackie, go to JackieZimmerman.co. Not Crazy travels well. Have Gabe and Jackie record an episode live at your next event. E-mail show@psychcentral.com for details. View the full article
  25.  Chrisa Hickey’s journey into mental health advocacy started when her son, Tim, was diagnosed with very early onset schizophrenia after being admitted to a psychiatric hospital for the first time at the age of 11. He had been showing symptoms for years and had received a half dozen different diagnoses. His family was desperately looking for answers. Tim’s illness took a toll on the entire family, which was only exacerbated by the lack of information and resources available to them. In America, fewer than 100 children per year are diagnosed with very early onset schizophrenia. Chrisa had to find information and resources for herself and didn’t want anyone else to have to start from scratch. And so the Parents Like Us Club was born. Join Gabe and Chrisa as they talk about the struggles of dealing with a mentally ill loved one, especially a child. And find out what has helped Tim, now 25, achieve the happiness and stability he has today. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Parents Mental Illness’ Podcast Episode In 2009, Chrisa Hickey began writing a blog about raising her son Timothy, diagnosed at age 11 with childhood onset schizophrenia. Marian, one of her readers (who later became a friend) commented that parents raising children with severe mental illnesses were sort of a strange little club, and that there were other “parents like us” that should be part of the club. In 2015, the club was formed. Chrisa began collecting stories of other Parents Like Us and posting them to her blog, www.themindstorm.net. But this didn’t seem like enough. In 2019 Parents Like Us Club Inc. became a 501(c)3 charity with the mission of bringing together parents raising children diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and other life-threatening mental illnesses and serving three roles for this community: Give voice to families raising children with severe mental illnesses by sharing their stories with other parents, the public, and the medical community Provide resources and information for parents so that no parent has to try and figure out the complex maze of educating, treating, and caring for a mentally ill child on their own Give parents the extra support they need by funding in-person advocacy services to attend school meetings, doctors appointments, meetings with social services, and judicial processes with parents, to help them navigate the complex issues that surround raising our kids 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 Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Parents Mental Illness’ 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: Welcome to the Psych Central Podcast, where each episode features guest experts discussing psychology and mental health in everyday plain language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard. Gabe Howard: Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Podcast. And today, I will be speaking with Chrisa Hickey, who is the mom of a young man with schizophrenia and an incredible mental health advocate. I’m proud to say that I’ve worked with Chrisa in real life and she is doing incredible work. Chrisa, welcome to the show. Chrisa Hickey: Thank you, Gabe. How are you doing? Gabe Howard: I am doing very well. You know, we’re both mental health advocates, so that’s just generic. We can get that right out of the way and nobody knows what that means. But as longtime listeners know, I live with bipolar disorder. So I always do my speaking from the lived experience, what it’s like to live with mental illness. And why I’m so drawn to you and why I like talking to you and learning from you is your lived experience, and the majority of your advocacy is from the, you know, I hate to say caregiver, but from the family member, from the mom who is advocating for her son. Can you can you kind of give us that story? Chrisa Hickey: Sure, a lot like your story, I’m sure no one gets it, wakes up one morning, goes, I want to be a mental health advocate. For us, it started when my son, Tim, who will be 25 in a week or so now, was four years old. We knew that there was something going on with him. We just weren’t quite sure what it was. And we started going through with doctors and neurologists and neuropsychologists and therapists and everything else. Long story short, after several different diagnoses and all kinds of issues, he ended up on his first psychiatric inpatient stay at the age of 11 when he attempted suicide. And doctors there said, well, what no one wants to tell you is that your son has schizophrenia. And I said, no, he doesn’t. Because kids don’t have it. And I didn’t believe it. And then six months later, he tried to kill himself again. And I went, OK. Obviously, you have a problem here. So at that point, the advocacy was personal. It became “what do I need to do to make sure that my child is getting the best care possible?” And I can try and give him a life and adult life. Because at this point, you know, you worry about whether or not your kid is even going to make it to adulthood. So that kind of morphed into all kinds of things you do when you have a child, especially with a serious mental illness. It really does become a family disease. Everyone’s affected. Parents are affected. Siblings are very affected. Everyone’s affected. So when I started doing my advocacy work on that, I found other parents who were struggling with the same kind of things we were trying to figure out. I started sharing information and started my blog and getting people to help share their stories. And we basically built this. I ended up building this community of parents who were all trying to help each other because not even our clinicians really could help us very well because it’s pretty rare. I mean, there’s about 100 children in the US every year, diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia. So we’re a small fraternity. Gabe Howard: That is very small. Even if we go with every single child who’s diagnosed with mental illness, that number is very small. It’s bigger than the hundred, but it’s still very small. And of course, we’ve all heard it said a thousand times in the mental health community, mental illness is not a casserole disease. When people hear about stuff like this, they avoid it. And here’s the question that I want to ask specifically, because I hear this all the time, and I do not have children and I am not a mom. But did people in your community blame your son’s illness on you? Because you always hear that society blames moms for mental illness. Chrisa Hickey: Yeah. Well, for us, it’s a little bit different because Timothy is also adopted. So a lot of what we got was, and no joke, people would say, well, this is obviously because he’s a product, you know, of his birth parents. Why don’t you just return him? Gabe Howard: Wait, what? Chrisa Hickey: Yes. He’s not a toaster. It’s not like, you know, gee, this toaster is not toasting right anymore. I’m going to take it back to the manufacturer. People would literally say to us, because he was adopted, obviously, it’s not our fault. It’s something weirdly genetic with his birth parents or his background and whatever. Maybe we should just go and, you know, not get a kid that was so complicated. Gabe Howard: Wow. Chrisa Hickey: Which just stunned me. Yeah, it totally stunned me. But I’ll tell you what really did happen with neighbors and people at school and stuff. What they wanted was their kids to stay away from him because they were worried that he was he was dangerous or erratic. And that’s the thing. Whenever you hear about schizophrenia, your mind always goes to — insert horror movie here. So, you know, you get little kids were like, oh, my God, he’s got this terrible disease or a split personality thing. Half the world still thinks that’s what it is. You know, we need to keep our kid away from him. Gabe Howard: And it’s hard for children anyway because anything that makes a child different — bullying is a real thing and cliques form and — but now your son is in a position where he could definitely use support and use friends and use understanding. But of course, he’s not getting it because kids are being children. But then there’s another layer. Parents are influencing their children’s behavior. And I just I struggle with that idea so much that a parent would tell their children, don’t play with another child because they’re sick. That’s just so scary. Chrisa Hickey: That’s the problem, though. They don’t see him as sick, what they see it as, and this is why a lot of parents get blamed, they see it as a personality defect, right? Or a behavioral defect. It’s like the kid is not spoiled. He’s got an illness. But, you know, and I don’t know if you know this, but when NAMI was originally founded, it was founded by a group of parents — moms in particular — who were tired of being blamed for their children’s schizophrenia. Gabe Howard: Yep. “NAMI Mommies.” Chrisa Hickey: Yep. So that’s how it got started, and it would be great to say that there had been progress since they started this in the early 70s, but there has been very minimal progress. And it’s not just the public. The worst thing we fight against as well is a lot of clinicians don’t understand it, especially in children, because there is such a behavioral component. You know, it’s so hard to diagnose a child because when my child throws a temper tantrum, is it because he’s trying not to listen to the voices in his head or is it because he’s frustrated or is it because he’s a kid? Gabe Howard: How did you as a mom, decide? When the tantrum occurred, how did you personally make that determination? Chrisa Hickey: It was difficult to tell. And because it was difficult to tell, we started treating them all the same. The one thing with him it was easy to figure out was if he would escalate quickly, it probably was because of his illness. If he was just mad because we weren’t having Spaghetti O’s for dinner, that was something easily diffused and he wouldn’t escalate. It would be easy to talk him down. So I would start talking to him slowly, trying to understand what was going on in his head. And if it kept on escalating, then I knew that we had a real problem we had to deal with. But initially you don’t. Especially with the kids, you have to start treating them all the same, and that’s the hard part. Especially, imagine it happens in the grocery store. How do you explain this to people while you’re sitting there saying, OK, let’s sit down and calm and talk about what’s going on? And everyone’s looking at you like you’re crazy. Gabe Howard: Right. So to take a step back. You said that you could tell something was wrong as early as four, but that he wasn’t diagnosed until he was nine. Is that correct? Chrisa Hickey: Well, his first diagnosis was at the age of four. And at that point, they didn’t know whether it was an autism spectrum disorder or an emotional disorder. So he basically had this diagnosis called PDD-NOS, which is pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. And from there he transitioned through several. So then it went to OK, it’s definitely not autism. This is emotional. So now it’s emotional disorder not otherwise specified. And then maybe it’s bipolar disorder or maybe it’s bipolar disorder I, or maybe it’s II, or maybe it’s bipolar with psychosis, blah, blah, kind of kept going, you know. When they finally said it was a schizophrenia, it was a doctor who had been consulting with the therapist. And the therapist had been reticent to tell us that she was positive it was schizophrenia. And he just basically blurted it out. Gabe Howard: Wow. What were the specifics? What were you witnessing? What was your son doing? Chrisa Hickey: He had a couple different things that were pretty routine, so he had some, which now we know are delusions, of course. Now there’s a clinical term, we call them delusions. But he had some weird idiosyncrasies, like he couldn’t put water on his face because something horrible was going to happen to his face, I don’t know, was going to melt him or whatever. But you could never put water on his face. He would have conversations with nobody. And I’m talking long, complex conversations with people. Like when I’m driving and he’s sitting behind me and the hair on the back of my neck stands up because he’s having a huge hairy conversation when no one is there. He had very little outward emotion. He wasn’t very happy. He was never very sad. He was just kind of flat. Right? So now we know clinically they call that “flat affect.” And when he had anxiety about all of this going on, he had some incredible rage. My husband and I were actually trained when he was eight years old in how to do a therapeutic hold because he was so strong. Well, here’s an example: at the age of eight, he took one of those kid desks with a chair attached to it and the lid lifts up, picked it up over his head and threw it at a teacher. Gabe Howard: Oh, wow. Chrisa Hickey: So he was pretty strong. So we actually were trained by clinicians on how to do a therapeutic hold, because if we didn’t, he could literally hurt himself or one of us. The rage was the hardest part to deal with. Gabe Howard: So now you’re faced with all of this. You got the doctors, you do all the right things. You’re advocating for your son. We could probably talk for hours upon hours how difficult it is to find the right care, the right treatment, the right clinicians. But moving all of that aside, let’s talk about medication. Did you choose to medicate your child? Because it’s debated a lot. Chrisa Hickey: It is. So initially we didn’t want to medicate our child because the last thing you want to do is — and it’s the prevailing thought out there, right — I don’t want to put this poison into my kid. But it got to the point where after several hospitalizations. I mean, he had 16 hospitalizations between ages of 11 and 14. So you get through the first three or four hospitalizations, you finally realize that you can’t do this just with behavioral intervention alone. You know, we didn’t want to put the poison in Tim. So we started very slowly and we wanted to start with — does he need a mood stabilizer? Does he need an antipsychotic? And we start working with the doctors to try and create whatever the cocktail is. That’s right. But every time you put these pills into your kid, a little part of you dies inside because you’re thinking — and I hear this a lot from other parents — the number one thing they say is when they have to give their kid meds or put their kid in the hospital, is that they failed as a parent. It’s self stigma. Chrisa Hickey: And that’s the hardest part. And it’s a cliche. And we all say it’s like if your kid had diabetes, you wouldn’t feel that giving him insulin. But it’s really true. My kid has a brain disorder, not a brat, not a behavioral issue. He has an illness in his brain. And if I can give him medication that helps that illness in his brain, let him live the life that is most fulfilling as possible, then that’s what we decided we had to do. I think the hardest part for parents with kids, though, is unlike adults, kids change a lot. They grow. And as he would grow and get older, we would feel OK, we’ve put him on meds and he’s doing stable. And then six months later he’d have a growth spurt and everything’s out the window. So we’d start the whole process over again. And so every time he would go onto meds, it would change or something, we would all brace ourselves because we didn’t know what was coming. Most parents don’t want to medicate their kids. Kids are getting stigmatized for taking the meds they really need. Gabe Howard: Again, I’ve never been a parent, but I can talk about my personal experience when they were like, hey, you have to take meds in order to be human. I’m like, you know, I’m 25 years old. I’m a grown ass man. I don’t need this. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. You know, I was very much in the I’m not sick. My mom is good. So therefore, I can’t be mentally ill. Plus, I have a personality and a job. So, sickness is for other people and other families and other problems. The medication was, you know, pardon the pun, a tough pill to swallow. And that was in me. And I’m making the decision for me. Chrisa Hickey: Can I ask you a question about that, though? Is that because you saw the medication as because of your personal failing? Because I think it’s so ingrained in our society that mental illness is because we’re weak or we’re spoiled or not parented well, or we’ve got a personality defect that even to ourselves, when you are telling me I have to take a pill so I can act and feel normal, we feel like failures. Gabe Howard: Yes. And it’s a little deeper than that. One, it was a reminder that this is the suckiest part about being on medication. You know, picture it: twenty five year old Gabe. I’m still that age where I think that I’m invincible. And of course, I have bipolar disorder. So I go through mania which tells me that I am, in fact, not only invincible, but God, because that’s what mania is like. And every morning and every night, I have to take a handful of reminders that I’m weak. That is 100 percent true. That is a demarcation twice a day that I am different from my peers. Now I’ll add on to that that my peers, you know, they’re good people. I have no negative stories of my friends being mean to me on purpose. They would all make little jokes. All there is Gabe with his granny pill minder. Oh, Gabe’s got to go to the pharmacy with all the grannies. They thought they were being friendly and ribbing me about it. It hurt and it hurt in a way that I couldn’t explain. I couldn’t put my finger on it. We’ll be back after this message from our sponsor. 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. Gabe Howard: We’re back with Chrisa Hickey, founder of the nonprofit ParentsLikeUs.Club. Chrisa Hickey: I have said to people before, and people look at me like I’m wack when I say this, but I do feel like we’re really lucky that Tim was diagnosed so young because when Tim was eleven, he didn’t get a choice whether he took his meds or not. He didn’t get a choice if he went to his doctor or not. He didn’t get a choice if he went to therapy or not. He did it because he was 11 and I’m the parent. So by the time he was 18 or 19, it was such a routine for him, he didn’t think about it. Gabe Howard: And this is an incredible point to bring up because you’re absolutely right. I was 25 years old when I was diagnosed and I had a choice. Chrisa Hickey: You have a parent who also has a mental illness or you have a parent who doesn’t understand it and is still trapped in that kind of stigma and blame cycle. The number one reason kids who die by suicide. I mean, children who die by suicide die because they weren’t in treatment. And the reason they weren’t in treatment is because their families didn’t want to believe there was something wrong with them. Gabe Howard: And why do you think that is? Chrisa Hickey: So I just think that when parents think a kid is depressed, I don’t think they understand. Suicide kills more kids than anything in the world except car accidents. I mean, it kills more kids than cancer and every birth defects combined. Suicide, depression. There’s “little d” depression like, you know, oh, my friends never call me, I’m so depressed. And then there’s “big D” Depression, which is clinical. And with all the stresses that kids are under now about, you know, achieving and getting into good schools and scholarships and student loans cost so much. And what am I going to do? That when a kid shows something that actually looks like clinical depression, they don’t want to believe it because if they believe it then that whole belief about what your child’s life was going to be, it’s shattered. You know, it’s something a lot of us parents have to go through if we have a kid with a mental illness. You actually go through a mourning period when you actually accept the fact that your child has a mental illness. That what I expected my kid to grow up to be and have for his own life is gone. When Tim was little, he was a gorgeous child. He loved to sing with the radio and everything. He talked about wanting to be a pilot. All kinds of stuff, you know. And when they told us he had schizophrenia and it really digested, it’s just you could almost hear the glass shatter and you go through an actual mourning period where you’re mourning someone who’s still alive. And you end up doing it more than once as you go through this whole cycle. And I think a lot of it is because these parents don’t want to have to think about what happens if. Gabe Howard: Because it’s scary and they don’t have anybody to talk to. Which is what you learned early on. You couldn’t just reach out to the other moms and dads and say, hey, I’m toilet training and it’s a nightmare. These are the things that parents do. These are the things that people do. We reach out to like minded people to share stories and get advice. But you didn’t have anybody to reach out to. And that was why you started blogging and that’s why you built a community. And that’s why you launched ParentsLikeUs.club, which I didn’t even know .club was a domain address. Chrisa Hickey: It is. Isn’t that cool? Yeah. Well, you know, when I started the blog and other parents were sharing their stories and I started sharing them on my blog as well. One of the moms there said, this is like a club. All these parents like us. We’re like this big club. And I’m like, Bing. There we go. This is what we are, we are this sad little club. So we kind of formalized the name. And I had a section of my website just for the Parents Like US Club, where people can share their own stories anonymously or not anonymously. It is totally up to them. And then over the years, a friend wanted to start a support group on Facebook. So I helped her with that. We have a support group, a closed support group on Facebook that has now over almost ten thousand parents in it with all different kinds of brain disorders, not just mental illness, but kids with autism and other things as well. We wanted to formalize it, help people even more. You know, navigating medical staff and the job stuff when you’re an adult is one thing. Now you’ve got a kid. You’ve got to navigate school and you’ve got to navigate doctors and you’ve got to navigate a lot of times the criminal justice system. How do you navigate these things and how can we help parents that don’t know where to start? So we formed the 501(c)f(3) charity, Parents Like Us Club and we’re doing three things. We’re giving a platform for parents to be able to share stories. However they want to share. Video, they can give us blog post, they can do an audio. Be anonymous, not be anonymous, whatever. Chrisa Hickey: Because we know and you know, as we share our stories, it’s important for the public, other parents, and especially for us clinicians to hear these stories and understand what families are living through. The second one is to give find resources for parents, because the reason I started my blog was I had to do research from scratch and I didn’t want anyone else to have to do research from scratch when you’re dealing with that. So how can we get all the resources out there? So they’re available and they’re indexed and you can find them when you Google it, you can find us and we can get different clinicians and people to actually go into a directory and tell us they actually specialize in helping kids. And the third thing is we’re going to be giving micro grants to families that need them to have professional advocacy work with them locally when they go to an IEP meeting at school or they’re going to see a new psychiatrist for the first time, or they have to go down and sit down with a lawyer and talk about the juvenile justice system because, A, it helps to have a neutral third party that is really an expert to take that emotion out of it and really understand what your rights are and your child’s rights are, and B, what’s the best course of action for your kid and what you want to get out of them. So those are the three things we’re trying to accomplish, but we’re [unintelligible] this year, so we’re just getting off the ground. Gabe Howard: I think it’s absolutely incredible. You know, when I was diagnosed, again, I was 25 years old and my parents and my grandparents reached out to meet other families, other family members who had, you know, family members who had mental illness, who had, in my case, bipolar disorder. And again, I wasn’t a child. You’re actually right. It’s you know, my parents were scared. My grandparents were scared. My family was scared. And they reached out to get that help. And I’m so thankful that they were able to find it. They’re in a big city. And there was support groups for this. The thing I like about your organization is it’s on the Internet. Like my parents aren’t shy. My grandparents weren’t shy. They started calling emergency rooms and therapists that, like where’s a group? We’re willing to get in our car and drive. But I talked to so many people that are like, oh, we’re not going to go to that support group meeting. We’re not going to walk in there. Somebody might see us. Or they’re in a small town. I don’t want to say that is your support group anonymous or is your club anonymous? But there is a certain layer of anonymity to it because it’s online. Or can you sort of talk about that a little bit? Chrisa Hickey: There is and you know, obviously there’s always the option to be anonymous when you’re online. I think what a lot of parents do is, you know, you think about and again, it all kind of comes back to that stigma we’re all ingrained with. The worst part, I think for kids, too, is a lot of clinicians fall into the stigma category. So it’s like the reason Tim’s therapist was timid diagnosing him as schizophrenic is because they didn’t want to put it on the chart. You know, it’s on their permanent record kind of thing, whereas I’m like, you know, like I care. But a lot of parents are worried about that. They’re like, you know, I don’t want to hurt my kids’ chances to get to college. Maybe you work at a job one day, so I don’t want to put their name on the Internet and associate it with a mental illness. That’s fine. You don’t have to. But the nice thing about it being online is we talk about kids with serious mental illness and we talk about serious. We classify that as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and severe clinical depression. So those are the diseases for kids that become fatal, frankly, as far as mental illness goes. If you take a look at the pool of people in the United States, just because that’s where I know best, if you’re talking about schizophrenia, 100 kids a year get diagnosed. Chrisa Hickey: Small pool. Bipolar disorder, I or II or other type for kids, becoming less common because now there’s other DSM 5 things for it. But you get about two to three thousand kids a year get diagnosed with that. Severe depression, much more at 10 to 15 thousand kids a year, kids with severe depression. And that’s every year. So you’re talking, I don’t know, 20,000 people that need to find each other in the three hundred and fifty million people in America. I don’t have a choice but to go to the Internet. I mean, if I was back in the days, you know, when the NAMI moms were all starting to get together. I would’ve been screwed. My son, we lived in Chicago, not a small town. When my son was diagnosed and his psychiatrist, who was the head of child psychiatry for one of the largest mental health groups in Chicago, said Tim was the most severe case he’d ever seen. And he was 65 years old. And all I could think of was first my thought was, oh, great, my kid is, like you said, some sort of record for being whacked. But then the other thing I thought was how few and far between is it that my kid is the only one this guy in the second largest city in the country has ever seen? Gabe Howard: And how lucky are you? You know, that’s the thing that goes through my mind. How lucky are you that you live in Chicago? Could you imagine if you lived in rural Ohio or or just anyplace rural? Chrisa Hickey: Where we live now. Yeah. Now we live in rural Wisconsin. Yeah. Gabe Howard: Yeah. Is there and I don’t mean this in any insult to anybody that lives in rural America, but there’s not gigantic hospitals in rural areas. There’s just not enough people. Chrisa Hickey: No. So now I live in very northeastern Wisconsin, very, I mean, my town is 300 people. So if we had lived here when he was 11 and he was, we had to figure out what’s going on with him at that age. I would have had to go to Madison, Wisconsin, which is four and a half hours away, to even get come close to finding a clinician. And then when I got to Madison, the average wait in Madison right now for a first appointment with a child psychiatrist is 17 weeks. Gabe Howard: 17 weeks, and we’re hearing that all of the time. This isn’t new news to anybody who’s done even the most basic mental health advocacy, that the wait times to see professionals are there so long. They’re insane. They’re insane. Chrisa Hickey: They’re terrible. You know, a child psychiatrist is even rarer than a psychiatrist. So because it takes more schooling, right? If I go to school and go to medical school and become a doctor and then I go to my specialty and I become a psychiatrist to become a child psychiatrist, I’ve invested in even more time. And it’s not like they’re gonna make any more money being a child psychiatrist. So there’s really no incentive for them to do that. So there’s the shortage. Gabe Howard: I am so glad that you were in a place where you could advocate for Tim. How is he doing now? You know, we’ve heard a lot about his childhood. I know that he’s almost 25 years old now. What is Tim’s adult life now? Chrisa Hickey: It’s good. So we did move to rural Wisconsin. We moved back to the town my husband grew up in, actually, and the number one reason we moved here is because this is a much better environment for Tim than in Chicago. There’s too much stimulus in Chicago. There’s too many ways to get trouble in Chicago. And he’s very anonymous in Chicago. Here in this town, Tim is able to live in his own apartment because he only lives a mile away so we can help him when he needs help. He has a small part time job with a family friend who has resort cottages. So he’s got some sheltered work where if he’s having a bad day and he can’t show up, it’s no big deal. He can come to work everyday. And if he misses a day, no problem. He has friends here. We live right on Lake Michigan. He goes swimming in the lake in the summertime. And he has his own dog now and he has his bike and he rides all over town and everybody knows Tim. He really is a happy person. And he’s very, very stable. And a lot of the reason he’s stable is because he has an environment that supports him, because we’re in a small town where my husband grew up, we’re not anonymous here. It’s like having 200 extra hands to help watch him. Couple weeks ago, you probably know he messed up his meds a little bit, ended up in an emergency room. The paramedics all showed up when he had a problem with it because he lives across the street from the fire department. And, they know, know him personally. When he got to the emergency room, he knows the nurse there because she’s a neighbor. And, you know, when he was having an off day, I’ll get a phone call from one of his neighbors. You know, have you seen or talked to Tim today? He seems a little off. So we’ve created this environment for him where he’s very insulated. And I know that not only now at twenty five, but when he’s 55 and I’m no longer around, he’s still going to be safe and happy here. Gabe Howard: Chrisa, this has been absolutely wonderful. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for starting the nonprofit. And I don’t know if Tim has ever thanked you. But as somebody who lives with mental illness, you know, moms like you, parents like you, family members like you, they make such a big difference. It made a big difference in my recovery. And I know it made a big difference in Tim’s as well. So thank you so much for everything that you do. Chrisa Hickey: Thank you. And thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. Gabe Howard: Hey, it was my pleasure and thank you, everyone, for tuning in. Remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, just by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. We will see everybody next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Psych Central Podcast. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/show or on your favorite podcast player. To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at GabeHoward.com. PsychCentral.com is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, PsychCentral.com offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at PsychCentral.com. If you have feedback about the show, please email show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening and please share widely. View the full article
  26. It may seem ironic that meditation — a technique that helps manage stress — can itself inspire anxiety. However, qualms about taking up meditation are common, and they illustrate perfectly that our automatic stress response can fire in situations which are wholly inappropriate. Misgivings inspired by meditation also show how easily stress can develop, in even the least ostensibly stressful of contexts. Far from being useless, these kinds of worries can be transformative teachers. Engaging with them can offer you insight into how anxiety forms, before it attacks. Exploring your meditation-related concerns will equip you with new abilities to deconstruct stress-inducing thoughts in other areas of your life, before they reach critical mass. Recognizing when worries don’t warrant “fight or flight” mode Anxiety is inescapable; hard-wired into human physiology. It is, primarily, a survival tool called our “fight or flight” response because it primes us for avoiding threats in the wild. However, the bodily changes it engenders are often (in our relatively safe modern world) misplaced and unpleasant. Your heart rate increases, firing extra blood to the muscles, as your system scales up for self-defense. Almost always disproportionate, and unhelpful to navigating the situation at hand, this state can be downright counterproductive. If you’re in a traffic jam, for example, stress will function to fog your inner windscreen, compromising the faculties you actually need — clear thinking and road safety sense. The frequent superfluousness of our physical stress response is especially apparent if you look at anxieties about meditating. An enlarged sense of perspective is regularly celebrated by people who take up meditation. Noting the gulf between life-or-death and your worries — about meditation, and in other areas of life — will come naturally the more you practice. Stick with your mantra, but everything else is better when you go off-script. The basis of Beeja meditation (the form of meditation I teach) is your mantra, which you repeat internally to achieve a meditative state. When silently thinking it during your practice, it is natural for other thoughts — ones which make you angry or upset — to crop up. You might find that additional insecurities pile in, especially about whether meditating is “working.” Surely the goal is banishing worries? Although your inability to banish other thoughts feels like falling at the first hurdle, it’s actually a win — for your conscious awareness. It’s never advantageous to suppress vexation; it will incubate and intensify. Instead, you should become aware of your self-imposed limitations about what you’re allowed to think. Attempting to stop yourself thinking particular things is one of the greatest roadblocks to meditating. Once you transcend it, you will be empowered to meet whatever arises without hostility. You can approach all thoughts, even painful ones, with new detachment. You will unearth the space to question and discard ideas that no longer serve you. The most valuable present is the present moment. When you meditate, it is easy to fall into the fallacy that you are laying the foundations of a better future you. This can result in conceptualizing your practice as a means of clocking up brownie points for your future self. Each repetition of your mantra or few minutes of breath regulation can become a building block to put down hurriedly, so that you can pick up the next one. This creates the uncomfortable sensation of stockpiling your meditation practice time, with your eyes on the prize on the horizon. The only thing you can be certain of, if you fixate on blossoming in the future, is that you’ll never experience fulfillment in the present. Draw your senses towards how your meditation practice feels right now. You will access a calmness much more in keeping with your ideal self than you could possibly have reached by rushing towards an imagined goal. Make time for your mantra, and your mantra will make time for you. Spending twenty minutes, twice a day meditating can feel like an impossible ask; an amount of time that it is initially difficult to imagine setting aside. However, we devote time effortlessly to activities that become second-nature — on average, people spend a sobering three hours and 15 minutes on their smartphones per day. The sooner you establish a habit, the less you will feel like you have to dig deep to find the time for meditation. Furthermore, it will itself become a time-saver; for example, increasing your productivity and reducing stress-created activities like compulsive phone-checking. Whenever you find yourself thinking about your to-do list or feeling like getting on with it would be a better use of your time, keep meditating. View the full article
  27. Just popping by to say hello all Hope everyone's doing well
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