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  1. Yesterday
  2. Many high-achievers share a dirty little secret: deep down they feel like complete frauds. They worry that they’ll be exposed as untalented fakers and say their accomplishments have been due to luck. This psychological phenomenon, known as Impostor Syndrome, reflects is the core belief that you are an inadequate, incompetent, and a failure — despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and successful. Impostor Syndrome makes people feel like an intellectual fraud, rendering them unable to internalize — let alone celebrate — their achievements. Studies have shown this lack of self-belief is correlated with anxiety, low confidence, and self-sabotage. From a psychological standpoint, Impostor Syndrome may be influenced by certain factors early in life, particularly the development of certain beliefs and attitude towards success and one’s self-worth. Let’s take a look at exactly what thoughts run through the minds of people with Impostor Syndrome. Do any of these apply to you? 1. “I’m a fake and I’m going to be found out.” People with Impostor Syndrome believe they don’t deserve success. They may believe about themselves, “I can give the impression that I’m more competent than I really am” or “I’m afraid my colleagues will discover how little I really know.” They fear being unmasked and having their perceived phoniness revealed. Feeling as if they just narrowly escaped professional catastrophe time and time again creates a constant feeling of stress and anxiety that can color all of their work and relationships in a damaging way. 2. “I lucked out.” Those who believe themselves to be impostors often attribute their accomplishments to luck. They may think, “I was in the right place at the right time” or “That was a fluke.” These thoughts signal a fear that they won’t be able to repeat the success in the future, and speaks to a deep-seated belief that their achievement has nothing to do with their actual ability. 3. “If I can do it, anyone can.” People with Impostor Syndrome think they’re nothing special. Whatever they’ve achieved, others can too. They’ll think to themselves, “Oh, that was nothing. I’m sure my teammate could have done the same thing” or “I don’t offer anything special to the company that no one else could.” The irony is that studies have shown that people who feel the effects of Impostor Syndrome most acutely have multiple advanced degrees and demonstrated track records. 4. “I had a lot of help.” “Impostors” aren’t able to internalize their wins and find themselves deeply uncomfortable with praise. As such, they often credit others for helping them. They may think back to when they had a hand in editing a presentation or coordinating a launch. They may think, “This was really a team project. It wasn’t all me” or “Since I didn’t do this completely by myself, it doesn’t really count as a success.” They grasp on to any evidence that will confirm their unworthiness. 5. “I had connections.” Networking is the best way to land new opportunities, no matter what your industry or goal. But “impostors” believe that whenever they’ve gotten an assist through a professional connection, that discounts their achievement. They’ll think, “This was entirely thanks to my investor’s hook-up” or “Since I wouldn’t have gotten my foot in the door without my uncle’s connection, it doesn’t really count.” 6. “They’re just being nice.” Many “impostors” can’t accept praise at face value. They assume that the flatterer is just being nice. They might believe, “They have to say that. It would be impolite not to” or “The only reason he’s congratulating me is because he’s a nice guy — not because I deserve it.” 7. “Failure is not an option.” There can be a huge amount of internal pressure on “impostors” to avoid failure so they won’t be exposed as a fake. Paradoxically, the more success “impostors” experience, the more pressure they feel because of the increased responsibility and visibility. They think, “I have to give 300% to live up to this” or “I’ve got to work even harder than everyone else to prevent them from discovering who I really am.” This becomes an escalating cycle in which they feel more frantic about proving themselves. 8. “I’m pretty sure” or “I kind of think” “Impostors” use a lot of minimizing language because they don’t feel fully confident. They might say out loud or think to themselves, “I’m not sure if this might work” or “I’m just checking in,” instead of nixing such belittling words as “might”, “just,” and “kind of.” 9. “I made it up as I went” People with Impostor Syndrome often discredit their achievements by thinking or saying things like, “I totally BS-ed my way through that” because they feel their expertise isn’t justified. Even if they accomplish something huge, they’ll write it off as not a big deal. What To Do If You Struggle With Impostor Syndrome Some of these thoughts may play on a loop in your head and contribute to the self-doubt that fuels Impostor Syndrome. They may be unconscious or you may be aware of the. You may identify with some of the above thoughts and feelings, but not others. A great first step in overcoming Impostor Syndrome is to acknowledge the thoughts to yourself and even to other people. You can also take this free course on managing self-doubt and developing unstoppable confidence. Remember to also share your experiences with trusted friends, family, and colleagues. You’ll be surprised how many can relate. View the full article
  3. How wobbly are your legs during an agoraphobic attack? Ive been doing exposure therapy 14 years for severe agoraphobia- yes- 14 years. My legs during attacks are so wobbly and out of control that Ive been made fun of and told I look like I have MS. I literally cannot always control where I go because it is so severe. Doc says its not MS and is probably all agoraphobia since it only happens in trigger areas.
  4. Last week
  5. How to manage unhealthy eating habits when loneliness strikes. When you’re feeling depressed, it really can feel so much worse when you’re sitting there all alone, without anyone else to talk to, and especially at night. (Have you ever noticed that your depression feels worse after the sun goes down?) How do I know this? I’ve been there before! I’ve also had the personal experience of how the feel-bad state of depression easily leads to emotional eating, food addiction, and binge eating. Signs Your Depression Is Getting More Serious (and It’s Time to Reach Out) Why does depression and unhealthy eating flow together so seamlessly? Because the out-of-control eating is an attempt to feel better emotionally. The problem with this line of action is the emotional relief from eating only lasts for a few minutes, while the hopelessness of the depression lasts long term unless consistent action steps are implemented to transform the emotional state, which can be done. My weight loss coaching clients have done it and so have I. What’s interesting about the flow of depression, being alone, and overeating is that most think they are depressed because they are overweight and alone. I believe “overweight and alone” is the result of the depression. The feel-bad emotional state of depression comes first, which fuels the behaviors, which creates the results of isolation, overweight, and being alone, which bring us back to the question… why does depression feel so much worse when you’re alone? Why depression feels so much worse when you’re alone. It’s very simple: when you’re hanging out with friends, on a date, or in a relationship, it’s easier to get distracted from your depressive thoughts. That’s it! Check this out, it’s very important: when you break out of your isolation, even if it’s just going for a walk around the block, it’s easy to get distracted momentarily from your depressive patterns of thought. The big secret I’m sharing with you here is that the depressing feelings all begin with a thought. It’s your habits of thinking that must change in order to find relief from the depression. This is what the majority of folks who are taking antidepressants are missing: unless you have a daily practice to transform your feel-bad patterns of thinking, then taking antidepressants rarely does anything to transform the state of depression (unless one has a serious chemical imbalance, which only a doctor can verify). What my coaching clients have taught me. Based on my experience, here’s what I’ve learned: I’ve had way too many permanent weight loss coaching clients who were on antidepressants before working with me. Not only were they taking anti-depressants, but they were also out-of-control with binge eating, emotional eating, food addiction, and negative self-talk while living in a consistent state of self-doubt, hopelessness, fear, and depression. While working with me, these same clients ended up getting off of their anti-depressants (with their doctor’s approval) because they did the steps to heal the real problem, steps which start with transforming your patterns of thought. Prior to working with me, nothing was changing in their emotional state (or their overweight) by taking anti-depressants because it’s the mindset, the thoughts, the beliefs, and the habits of thought that must transform in order to fully break free of the depression, and the overweight. These things do not transform with a pill, unfortunately. Habits of thought can only be transformed by you taking consistent action to change them. Is this making sense? What I’m saying is that the solution to your depressing feelings is not to find a guy to get into a relationship with so that you’re not alone and can be distracted from your depressive thoughts. That would only serve as a short-term fix. The real solution, the solution that works long term is to take daily action to change your habit of thinking, release your limiting beliefs, and get a new mindset. That is the solution to end depression (again, unless one has a serious chemical imbalance, as noted above). A great place to start: A great place to start is by becoming aware of exactly what you are thinking that has you feeling so bad. Here’s a super clear example: For many of my coaching clients, prior to working with me they had a habit of thinking a stream of thoughts like, “I’m a failure, I’ll never lose weight, I can’t stop eating, I can’t stop binge eating, no one wants me, I’m a mess and I don’t belong”. Shit man! This habit of thought would make anyone feel depressed!! But can you see that this is what creates the depression? What’s worse is that these streams of habitual thinking run on autopilot for the majority of folks because they are not consciously aware of what they are thinking. They’ve been doing it so long that it’s simply easier to take the route of the “stinkin’ thinkin'”. In fact, the brain makes it easy for you to keep taking that route! Why? Just because you’ve done it so long it’s the easiest road for your brain to take. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, not at all. It just means that you’re stuck in a rut of habitual thinking… which leads to a habitual state of emotion… which leads to a habitual state of behaviors… which creates the body and the life you are living and will continue to live unless you take action to shake it up and do things very differently. Raise your awareness. With that being said, let’s get back to the exercise in awareness to start with now: decide to start now, to raise your awareness consistently in your day-to-day life of the specific thoughts you are thinking that are making you feel so bad. Use pen and paper to write them down. The simple act of discovering your feel-bad thoughts and then writing them down pen on paper will result in bring your depressing thinking out of the swirling mist of your mind and help you see it more clearly when it’s written on paper. You cannot change what you are not aware of. Become a detective of your own mind. Choose to become a detective of your own mind and I bet you’ll discover that if you’re feeling hopeless and depressed, then you’re thinking hopeless and depressing thoughts. Any thought can be changed but first, you must become aware of what you are thinking. Beyond this starter step, the quickest and easiest way to feel better long term, release your habits of negative thoughts, stop overeating, and get fit forever is to work with a high-level coach who already has the proven step-by-step system in place that heals the root of the problem and sets you free. 7 Ways Depressed People Love Differently Just imagine how you would feel a year from now if you were really feeling good about yourself the majority of the time. And while it’s unrealistic to expect to get to a place where you always feel great, what if a year from now you were able to feel negative emotion without using food to feel better? What if you could feel negative emotions without staying there long term? How cool would that be! To Sum Up Remember that depression is driven by a thought. Once you have a series of negative thoughts formed into a habit of negative thought and that habit of thought is running on autopilot, it’s extremely easy to stay depressed and yes, it does feel worse when you’re alone. But even if you were to get into a relationship so that you’d be distracted from your negative habits of thought, that relationship wouldn’t fix your depression. The “fix” to your depression will be found within you and it starts with your thoughts. The mind leads the body; if the mind is running a depressing line of thinking in the background of your day-to-day life then it’s easy to stay depressed. Change your thinking to change your emotional state to change your behaviors, transform your life, your relationships, and your body. This can be done. I’ve done it myself and so have my coaching clients. But start now — this is your life and there’s no time to waste. Don’t you agree? This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: Why Feeling Depressed And Alone Leads Us To Emotional Eating. View the full article
  6. patterns

    Hi, I've just signed up and my ocd has flared up. I've had OCD since I can remember and am now a mum of 2 (one is only a month old) so I'm feeling pretty stressed [😬] Ive always had intrusive thoughts and recently have been reading about magical thinking. I don't believe in magic but being blessed with OCD ( [😏] ) I cling to every small possibility and always need 100% evidence. Anyway, when my first child was born, she became the focus of my OCD and for some reason when I was watching a film and the credits came on, I saw someone's second name which was 'coffin' and I thought how strange...if the next name I see is related to my daughter then I'm in trouble...and it was her name!! Then I thought I'll choose another name and it was angel! I literally couldn't believe it and it sent me into horrendous anxiety. This was about 3 years ago and I've learnt to deal with it. I don't believe I've 'cursed' her but still can't believe the coincidence. I swore I wouldn't play this game but of course I did/do and yesterday I was playing mind games and noticed my new babies name on a tv shows credits...it wasn't actually her name but a longer version of her name. I thought for gods sake!! And then thought to myself, if the next person who is mentioned is her name then something bad will happen...and the next show I watched a women called her dog and it was my daughters name...it was a male dog with a different spelling so of course I clung to that and calmed myself down thinking it's a different name but it sounds exactly the same! One minute I think it's totally stupid, total coincidence and I can calm down but the next minute I'm totally panicking and having 2 young kids, I'm really struggling! I know if you look for something enough times, you'll find it, but it is such a coincidence. If anyone has any similar stories or advice, that would be really helpful! Thanks
  7. How do you enter conversations with people you don’t know? I grew up with gregarious parents and have enthusiastically emulated them. Although my mother referred to herself as shy, I never observed her that way. She seemed to be able to engage with people in various scenarios. My father was raised in South Philly (home of the iconic pugilist character Rocky) where talking to people on the stoop or street corner was commonplace. He learned how to communicate with those from all walks of life from his own blue collar, working class sensibilities. No matter where our family went, it seems my father always knew someone, and it took forever to say goodbye as we attempted to take our leave. I would also marvel as he would strike up conversations with people he had never met. As a therapist, I work with clients who, in some cases, experience social anxiety, which is defined by the Social Anxiety Institute as “the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, and, as a result, leads to avoidance,” and don’t have the comfort level that would allow them to do that. The jury is still out about whether it is nature or nurture. What some tell me is that they don’t know how to initiate or join in. I think of it like jump rope and knowing when and how to jump in without tripping over the rope held on either end as it spins over your head and on to the ground. Call out your inner nerd I have also used a tool with my teen clients who often walk down the hallways at school, head down, as they avoid eye contact, wishing themselves invisible. I ask them to imagine cartoon character-like thought bubbles above the heads of their classmates as they make their own way to classes. In each one is a self- deprecating message, like “OMG, I can’t believe I’m such a dork.” “How could I have blown that test?” “She’s never going to go out with me, since she’s out of my league.” “Why did I wear this dress today? I look so fat.” By the time we get through this exercise, they are usually laughing as they realize that everyone harbors an inner nerd who thinks others are way cooler than they are. I add to it that when I was their age (more than four decades ago), I never felt like one of the cool kids. It wasn’t until I attended my 35th high school reunion that some of those I looked up to and wanted to be like, informed me that they thought I was one of the cool kids and wanted to be like me, including one who said he had a crush on me. I asked, “Couldn’t you have told me that back then? It would have prevented a lot of adolescent angst.” What keeps people from throwing caution to the wind and jumping in? Fear of not having anything meaningful to say. Stumbling over their words or stuttering. I tell my clients the story of actor James Earl Jones whose stuttering was almost debilitating until a teacher helped him to recover by having him read poetry aloud. Jones was featured on the website for The Stuttering Foundation. Fear of forgetting what they want to communicate. Poor self-image and a belief that they are not worthy of another’s time or attention. Reinforcement by caregivers and other adults of their worst perception of themselves. Not wanting to be rude by joining a conversation without invitation. Feeling under-educated about current events. Somatic symptoms such as dry mouth, heart palpitations, perspiration, facial flushing, and dizziness. Recently, when I walked into a local gathering place to hear a friend perform, I asked to sit at the end of a table where a few others had already made themselves comfortable, beverages in front of them. A woman smiled and motioned me to be there. I enjoyed the music and then overheard part of their conversation about having been married by a monk in Thailand and (with only a slight hesitation), I invited myself in and inquired about the experience. As an interfaith minister, I am fascinated about how couples meet as well as their unique wedding ceremonies. They welcomed me in and a conversation ensued about the state of the world, relationships, The Dalai Lama — who I interviewed in 2008 — spirituality, life in our town, and serendipity/synchronicity. None of that would have happened, had I not been willing to ask to sit with them or initiate conversation. I am also an adept listener who is truly interested in hearing other people’s stories. I had inquired of others on social media: “What allows you to converse with strangers?” “I am good at interviewing people, so I like to ask them questions but not private stuff. Many people like to talk about themselves and like knowing someone is interested. I am not good at walking up to people and introducing myself. I do like to listen though.” “I am very good at walking up to people and introducing myself, but insecurities immediately set in — about people being silently turned off by what I’m saying, about talking too long, about dragging out unwelcome topics — which sends me into a communication death spiral of anxiety & self-consciousness.” “I can go into a ladies’ room and come out with three new friends.” “I’ll talk to anyone. My husband says he’s learning to do the same thing. It can be the weather, kids, or anything. Went to the post office for my house and a woman came in. We ended up taking about kids, grandkids, her thyroid issues, my thyroid issues, her recent bone scan.” “When I moved from CT to PA, I knew almost no one and had no ready-made social circle. I am naturally introverted and have some social anxiety, so I would bring yarn with me most places. I crochet and often people would stop to talk to me, comment on what I am making, and then sometimes start a longer conversation. I still bring yarn with me a lot of the time. Most of what I make are gifts for people, usually new babies. If no one talks to me, I am still enjoying something I love and making something beautiful for someone.” Remember that everyone you now know, and love was once a stranger and your relationship with began with a conversation. View the full article
  8. I am not proud of it. A few weeks ago and for the first time in many decades, I unpredictably dipped into a depression that, to put it mildly, kicked my ass. Haha, I’m joking. Actually I’m not. For the most part, throughout my life, my mental health issues have stemmed from severe anxiety and agoraphobia, with moderate depression rearing its ugly head only every now and then. But not this time. This one was more than ugly, it was hideous. Blue days, black nights — the whole shebang. According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is a “mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest … You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities and sometimes you may feel like life isn’t worth living …More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness and you can’t simply ‘snap out of it’ … Some people may feel generally miserable or unhappy with and without really knowing why.” When I was younger, I was intolerant of my unusually sad thoughts. And as the definition describes above, I often felt unhappy but I had no clue why. I believed that depressed people, including myself, used feeling down-in-the dumps as an excuse to give up and not be accountable in life. Or worse, that they simply wanted attention. In other words, I believed being depressed was a choice. Last week I watched the 1957 film Gunfight at the OK Corral with Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster. Douglas plays Doc Holliday; an ex-dentist turned rogue gunslinger and avid gambler. He is wanted by bounty hunters and lawmen everywhere. Doc Holliday is also dying from tuberculosis. His character is coughing incessantly, gasping for breath and needing periods of bed rest. Despite his illness, he is feared by everyone and does his share of killing bad guys throughout the film. There is a memorable scene when Holliday is playing poker at a saloon. The poker table he is sitting at is right in front of a window. At the same time a gang of rough riders are shooting up the town. Gunshots and people screaming and yelling can be heard outside. Bullets fly past Holliday shattering lamps, liquor bottles and boring holes in the walls of the saloon. The frightened card dealer is trembling for his life as he ducks from the screaming assault of bullets. He begs Holliday to end the game and take cover. But Holliday does not flinch, blink or move a muscle despite the blizzard of lead whizzing by his head. Holliday says stoically, “Just keep dealing. I’m not breaking this run. Hit me!” The doomed Doc Holliday does not care if he takes a bullet. He knows his illness will eventually kill him, so he chooses not to move. His fate is already sealed. Depression can be similar. When it’s acute you don’t give a hoot. You don’t care what happens to you. The problem is most don’t get to choose like Doc Holliday. When we are depressed, we don’t choose our thoughts — depression chooses for us. That is chilling. It’s as close to the bottom as you can get. Another character who is desperate and suffering from an incurable disease is Walter White in the highly successful TV series Breaking Bad. White bravely and honorably chooses to make sure his family is taken care of financially before he expires from cancer. Granted he chooses a life of crime, which I am not condoning, but he is oblivious to the consequences of the law, as Doc Holliday is oblivious to the bullets. The difference again is that both characters choose — same desperation, different cognitive process. Plus, Doc Holliday and Walter White are really dying. When you’re depressed it only feels like you are dying. I realize now why I have always related to characters that have nothing to lose. It’s because I feel less alone when I put myself in their shoes. I know the feeling. Their resigned perspectives comfort me. One of my teachers in middle school told me that depression was an attitude. It was a spineless way of surrendering to the fight. It was an option. I believed him just as I believed everything adults told me when I was a child. Unbeknownst to my teacher, hearing that cemented much of the shame I carried about my emotions for years. The truth is until you experience it yourself, until you know what it’s like to not care if you get hit by a bullet or stricken with a fatal illness, the deep reality of depression is too profound for the untried mind to grasp. So, I treated my depression with every tool that I had. The most vital one was reaching out to others because I knew I couldn’t do it alone. However, twenty years ago and beyond I would have simply invalidated my hopelessness as a faulty weakness and would not have taken steps to get well. I would even have chastised myself for “letting this happen to me.” Although I am not Doc Holliday or Walter White thankfully, or anyone with nothing to lose, I can still commiserate with the utter desperation. When I say desperation I don’t mean being afraid. I mean the existential malaise of having temporarily lost your purpose in life and not knowing how to get it back. In other words, the lack of desire to thrive. German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once defined his own antidote for the existential malaise of depression: “A happy life is impossible; the best that a man can attain is a heroic life” Thank you, Doc Holliday and Walter White. View the full article
  9. Depression: An Illness, Not a Choice

    I am not proud of it. A few weeks ago and for the first time in many decades, I unpredictably dipped into a depression that, to put it mildly, kicked my ass. Haha, I’m joking. Actually I’m not. For the most part, throughout my life, my mental health issues have stemmed from severe anxiety and agoraphobia, with moderate depression rearing its ugly head only every now and then. But not this time. This one was more than ugly, it was hideous. Blue days, black nights — the whole shebang. According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is a “mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest … You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities and sometimes you may feel like life isn’t worth living …More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness and you can’t simply ‘snap out of it’ … Some people may feel generally miserable or unhappy with and without really knowing why.” When I was younger, I was intolerant of my unusually sad thoughts. And as the definition describes above, I often felt unhappy but I had no clue why. I believed that depressed people, including myself, used feeling down-in-the dumps as an excuse to give up and not be accountable in life. Or worse, that they simply wanted attention. In other words, I believed being depressed was a choice. Last week I watched the 1957 film Gunfight at the OK Corral with Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster. Douglas plays Doc Holliday; an ex-dentist turned rogue gunslinger and avid gambler. He is wanted by bounty hunters and lawmen everywhere. Doc Holliday is also dying from tuberculosis. His character is coughing incessantly, gasping for breath and needing periods of bed rest. Despite his illness, he is feared by everyone and does his share of killing bad guys throughout the film. There is a memorable scene when Holliday is playing poker at a saloon. The poker table he is sitting at is right in front of a window. At the same time a gang of rough riders are shooting up the town. Gunshots and people screaming and yelling can be heard outside. Bullets fly past Holliday shattering lamps, liquor bottles and boring holes in the walls of the saloon. The frightened card dealer is trembling for his life as he ducks from the screaming assault of bullets. He begs Holliday to end the game and take cover. But Holliday does not flinch, blink or move a muscle despite the blizzard of lead whizzing by his head. Holliday says stoically, “Just keep dealing. I’m not breaking this run. Hit me!” The doomed Doc Holliday does not care if he takes a bullet. He knows his illness will eventually kill him, so he chooses not to move. His fate is already sealed. Depression can be similar. When it’s acute you don’t give a hoot. You don’t care what happens to you. The problem is most don’t get to choose like Doc Holliday. When we are depressed, we don’t choose our thoughts — depression chooses for us. That is chilling. It’s as close to the bottom as you can get. Another character who is desperate and suffering from an incurable disease is Walter White in the highly successful TV series Breaking Bad. White bravely and honorably chooses to make sure his family is taken care of financially before he expires from cancer. Granted he chooses a life of crime, which I am not condoning, but he is oblivious to the consequences of the law, as Doc Holliday is oblivious to the bullets. The difference again is that both characters choose — same desperation, different cognitive process. Plus, Doc Holliday and Walter White are really dying. When you’re depressed it only feels like you are dying. I realize now why I have always related to characters that have nothing to lose. It’s because I feel less alone when I put myself in their shoes. I know the feeling. Their resigned perspectives comfort me. One of my teachers in middle school told me that depression was an attitude. It was a spineless way of surrendering to the fight. It was an option. I believed him just as I believed everything adults told me when I was a child. Unbeknownst to my teacher, hearing that cemented much of the shame I carried about my emotions for years. The truth is until you experience it yourself, until you know what it’s like to not care if you get hit by a bullet or stricken with a fatal illness, the deep reality of depression is too profound for the untried mind to grasp. So, I treated my depression with every tool that I had. The most vital one was reaching out to others because I knew I couldn’t do it alone. However, twenty years ago and beyond I would have simply invalidated my hopelessness as a faulty weakness and would not have taken steps to get well. I would even have chastised myself for “letting this happen to me.” Although I am not Doc Holliday or Walter White thankfully, or anyone with nothing to lose, I can still commiserate with the utter desperation. When I say desperation I don’t mean being afraid. I mean the existential malaise of having temporarily lost your purpose in life and not knowing how to get it back. In other words, the lack of desire to thrive. German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once defined his own antidote for the existential malaise of depression: “A happy life is impossible; the best that a man can attain is a heroic life” Thank you, Doc Holliday and Walter White. View the full article
  10. The fear response is triggered when facing danger. The “danger” could be not measuring up to a desired or imposed standard, not getting done what you set out to do, not fulfilling expectations (your own or someone else’s), being seen as less than perfect or failing at something. There is also the “danger” of not fitting in and being noticeably different from the norm. All these fears and anxieties stem from questioning your ability to cope with life’s challenges and people’s responses to your actions. External messages from the media and authorities are also powerful triggers of anxiety and fear. Believing the world to be a dangerous place creates a pervading sense of powerlessness that undermines your personal power and inner strength in many different ways. Fear manipulates you into forgetting how strong and competent you really are. Fear negates your resilience. Feelings of helplessness trick you into believing that you do not have what it takes to tolerate hardship and bounce back from adversity. Fear narrows your focus to mainly notice problems, damage, hurt or harm. Fear impairs realistic thinking so the scale and likelihood of potential danger is often overestimated. Unless you live in a war zone, a dangerous neighborhood, an abusive relationship or have just experienced a significant natural disaster, most commonly assumed dangers are less prevalent or disastrous than imagined. Avoidance is one of the responses to fear. Self-imposed restrictions on where you go or what you do limit your options and shrink your world. Fear sabotages creative self-expression. Instead of aiming for your aspirations and dreams you may censor yourself and remain within the safety of your comfort zone. Fear prevents you from living in the here and now. Worrying what might happen and anticipating dangers and calamities in the future removes your attention from the present, the only place where you can function to the best of your ability. Dwelling on past events instead of focusing in the present also clouds your perception to the realities and opportunities of the now. Survival emotions such as anger (fight); worry, panic and anxiety (flight); depression and hopelessness (freeze) limit your emotional expression and narrow your emotional range. Negative feelings drag you down and deplete vital life force while positive emotions such as trust in yourself, courage and hope strengthen and nurture you. Fear cuts you off from the flow of life and universal benevolence you could tap into. Destabilized by fear you lose your firm grounding in your own power. This diminishes your ability to recognize potential agendas by external sources of fear. As a consequence you become an easier target for manipulation and abuse. Fear is the result of an ancient physical mechanism involving the adrenals and various other body systems. In cases of real and acute danger this is useful as it alerts you to the need for action. However, the same kind of responses are also triggered by imagined danger. With the lines between real and imagined danger often blurred in modern life, fear in all its forms can become chronic. Tricking you into believing that you are weak and without inner resources or that a catastrophe is imminent, fear and its allies are some of the most damaging emotions to allow into your life. You have a choice what you do with your fear: stay in its thrall or make the decision not to be pulled into it and question its associated — and usually automatic — thoughts. There are many different ways to defuse fears. All of them involve feeling it without trying to suppress the feeling or run away from it. Like other emotions, fear follows a bell curve where it rises, peaks and eventually subsides if you stay with it as a witness rather than disappearing into it. When you have weathered the emotional storm and feel calmer, take a good look at your thoughts and the reality of the situation. Examine your triggers and the beliefs associated with them. What is their origin, do they reflect the truth? What is your fear about? How you see yourself, how other people might think of you, what you are told about the world? What keeps you in a state of fear? Depending on your situation, devise your own path to freedom. You may decide on “gradual exposure”, i.e. approaching a feared situation not at once but in several small increments over a number of days or weeks. You could also draw a “fear ladder” with your “little” fears at the bottom rungs and the “big” ones on top. Begin addressing the less difficult ones and gradually work your way up. It will show you that you do not have to give in to fear and let it define your life and how you see yourself. Enlist help and support if you need it, but ultimately no one can do this work for you. Remember, you are much stronger and more resilient than fear will allow you to know. What role does fear play in your life? What have you found useful in overcoming fears? If you are struggling, what is your difficulty? View the full article
  11. Earlier
  12. Beth came to therapy because she could not stop her mind from worrying. She’d think about the same things over and over, get stuck in a thought with no solutions loop. She’d wake up obsessing about her future and blaming herself for past mistakes. Intellectually she knew she just had to do her best and take everything a day at a time. But she could not quiet her mind. Ruminating, as defined by Webster’s Medical Dictionary, is “obsessive thinking about an idea, situation, or choice especially when it interferes with normal mental functioning; specifically: a focusing of one’s attention on negative or distressing thoughts or feelings that when excessive or prolonged may lead to or exacerbate an episode of depression.” Ruminating feels awful and is exhausting. Many people resort to prescription medications like Klonopin and Xanax to help calm the anxiety that drives ruminations. But there are other ways, more lasting ways, to calm anxiety and experience some relief. It helps to first learn a little about the relationship between ruminating, anxiety and core emotions. I diagrammed it on the Change Triangle for Beth: Core emotions (fear, anger, sadness, disgust, joy, excitement and sexual excitement) are natural, universal, unavoidable, and automatic. And they produce energy for action. Sometimes emotional energy has nowhere to go. The result is anxiety: trapped energy swirling around our body. It feels terrible! Both core emotions and anxiety are visceral; they are called “feelings” because when we become aware of them we can literally, physically FEEL them. Our natural tendency is to escape uncomfortable sensations, so our brains — often unconsciously — lead us to avoid the bad feelings by escaping into thoughts. Just as anxiety is trapped energy churning in our body as a result of avoiding the feelings of core emotions, ruminations are thoughts churning in our minds to avoid feeling anxiety. The way out? Work your way back around and down the Change Triangle: tune into your body, discover which core emotions are at work, and safely process them. When the body calms down the mind will soon follow. I asked Beth, “As you notice your ruminations right now, can you scan your body from head to toe and share what you notice?” Beth immediately said that she was anxious. “How do you know you are anxious? What physical sensations tell you that?” I asked. “My arms and legs are jittery, my heart is beating fast, and I feel agitated.” Beth did a great job noticing her sensations. This ability to notice the specifics of how her body felt, which she would hone and practice both with me and on her own, would be the key first step to quieting her mind. The recipe for a calmer mind is getting better at welcoming emotions. Quiet, calm minds have learned through practice that the pain of safely experiencing our emotions is temporary, while avoiding emotional discomfort can lead to lasting anxiety, ruminating or other debilitating defenses. Over time, Beth learned to safely listen to her core emotions and sometimes act on them. She validated her deep sadness from having virtually no relationship with her mother, allowing herself to cry both alone and with me, and fully mourn her loss. She took night classes to finish college which eased her biggest fear. She learned to stop judging herself or her emotions and to give compassion to her suffering parts without comparing her hardships with those of others. With each of these steps her body and her mind became calmer. Noticing and getting comfortable with the emotions in our body is the main practice for diminishing our worries and ruminations. Ready to try a little experiment? Scan your body from head to toe and use the sensation and emotions charts on the resources page of my website to put words on your physical sensations — reviewing the list will help you put language on what you are experiencing, which helps calm the brain. Stop at your head, heart area, stomach, abdomen and limbs. Write down the sensations, however subtle, that best describe any anxious feelings in your body. As you do this, be sure to have a loving stance towards yourself: try not to judge anything you notice and strive to be as compassionate to your pain as you would be to a beloved friend, child, pet, or partner. See if you can name all the core emotions you are holding, again without judging or needing to know why or whether they make sense. Consider everything on this list: Fear, Anger, Sadness, Disgust, Joy, Excitement, Sexual Excitement. Getting comfortable with the physical sensations produced by anxiety and emotions is one of the secrets to calming the brain and healing from psychological distress and trauma. And, it is a practice, not a perfect. It’s not necessarily a quick fix either. However, with work, the brain and body absolutely heal and move us towards states of peace and calm. Hard work now, leads to greater peace for a lifetime. Congratulations for getting started! A+ for trying! Further reading: It’s Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the body, Discover Core Emotions and Connect to Your Authentic Self Unconditional Confidence, an audio to help stay with feelings, by Pema Chodron View the full article
  13. Recently I was attacked by several people online, saying I must not have “real” mental illness since I am able to work, be in grad school, and have stable friendships and a marriage. Those words hurt me deeply. I don’t know what constitutes “real” mental illness but I have dissociative identity disorder, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. My everyday struggle is real. Here are 10 things I want you to know about being high-functioning and managing multiple mental illnesses. Just because I seem happy doesn’t mean I am. If I wore my emotions on my face all the time, it would make for a lot of awkward conversations. I smile because it’s easier, because it’s safer that way. When I’m with my friends or husband I relax and show my true emotions. I try to hold it together in public. If I am smiling, I may not be happy. I may be a good student and employee, but at home I fall apart. I can go to school, smile, do well in my classes and get along with everyone, but then at home I sit around, frozen, too tired to do anything, crying, and feeling numb. It took me years of work to get to where I’m functional. I didn’t leave the psych ward of a hospital and immediately jump back into school and work and regular life. It took me a long time to recover from hospitalizations. It took me years of therapy in order to figure out relationships, to become self-aware, and to develop coping skills. It takes me a lot of work to get through a day. Lots of everyday things are hard. Like this morning I went grocery shopping and almost had a panic attack since the store was so crowded. This afternoon I was frozen and dissociating. This evening I canceled plans since I don’t feel up to going places and seeing people. I’m tired all the time. I can function well for a while, but then I turn off and collapse. When I get home I’m so tired that it’s hard for me to do housework, or cook dinner, or get anything done. It’s hard for me to find energy to do a lot of everyday things. I can’t live in the moment. When I have a good day, I have to do homework. I have to do my homework and chores ahead of time because I don’t know what next week will hold. Will I be manic next week? Will I be having panic attacks? Will I be dissociating? I may be barely functioning. So I have to get everything done now. I have to constantly assess myself in order to function well. I can’t just relax and be myself. I have to constantly be assessing myself. Am I happy or am I getting manic? Am I just anxious or am I about to have a panic attack? My life consists of constantly applying coping skills. Someone asked me recently what I do with my free time. I answered that all I do is apply coping skills. That is my entire life. It’s not terribly fun, but that is how I am able to function. Since I have a group of different mental problems, I keep lists of things to do for each issue. I have lists of coping skills for mania, depression, dissociation, thoughts of self-harm, etc., etc. It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it so I can accomplish things in my life. I always have to invent a plan B. I make plans but then know I might have a panic attack and have to leave. Or I might be too tired to go out and not be able to make it there. I invent back-up plans. I find escape routes. I warn friends that I might need to leave early. I make a plan B so that I’m not stuck when my mental illness floods me. It’s hard for me to make plans in advance. I just never know who or how I will be next week. So I’m afraid to make any plans. It’s easier to take it one day at a time. But then it’s the weekend, and I’m stuck at home, sad, while my friends are out having fun. I could have made plans with them… but I was tired of inventing plan B’s. It is lonely having severe mental illness and being high functioning. I don’t take anything for granted. I know that tomorrow I could have a psychotic episode or a dissociative problem, and it might trigger things and I’ll have a setback. I may go through periods where I don’t function well. I may have to take time off school or work to pull to deal with something. But I am thankful that right now I can do things and still manage my illness. I hope I can encourage others like me. View the full article
  14. Chaetophobia

    hi, im new here and looking for other people who suffer Chaetophobia. i am interested in hearing how others deal with it.
  15. 4 Perils of Perfectionism

    Many of us hold high expectations for ourselves. We strive for a goal that is impossible to reach, whether in our love life, worklife, or family life. When we fall short, as we inevitably do, we may become paralyzed by self-criticism and shame. Here are four pitfalls of our penchant to strive for perfection — and how to keep our expectations under control. Driven by Shame and Fear Perfectionism is often driven by shame and fear. If we can create a perfectly polished persona or achieve some lofty financial or career goal, we believe that no one can criticize or ridicule us. If we can impress people with our intelligence, sense of humor, or attractiveness, then we can win respect, approval, and maybe even love. Striving to be perfect is a strategy designed to protect us against shame — the sense of being flawed or defective. Perfectionism is often quietly driven by a fear of failure or rejection. Sadly, it appears that many politicians and leaders today are driven by a secret shame, which can be observed by their obsession with being right and not admitting mistakes or acknowledging uncertainty and vulnerability. A Set-Up for Disappointment and Depression By pinning our worth and value to our achievements, we set ourselves up for failure and depression. When we don’t meet our impossibly high goals, we may become anxious or despondent — or angrily blame others rather than take responsibility for our actions. Being seen as a human being with both strengths and weaknesses may burst the bubble of our belief that we need to be special and better than others to be respected or loved. Removes Us from the Present Moment Perfectionism keeps us preoccupied with the future. We’re constantly evaluating ourselves and trying to do better. We rarely relax or enjoy lighter moments. There is value in wanting to do our best and self-correcting along the way, but having strong perfectionist features can keep us in our heads. We overthink things and try so desperately to control everything that we lose spontaneity; we become overly self-conscious and take ourselves too seriously. We hold a lot inside, fearful that others would be horrified by what we judge about ourselves. We deprive ourselves of the simple pleasure of being ourselves and enjoying the moment. Avoiding Risks Perfectionism can lead to being risk-averse. Any activity that might result in embarrassment or rejection is avoided, such as asking someone out on a date, beginning guitar lessons, or starting a workout routine. We cling to the directive to be cautious and play it safe. We don’t expose ourselves to people or situations that might make us look bad. As a result, we live a constricted life. An Antidote to Perfectionism The antidote to perfectionism is to make ample room for our shortcoming — and remembering that failing at some enterprise doesn’t mean we are a failure. In fact, without failures and learning from our mistakes, we’ll never move forward in our lives. People who succeed are those who have made countless mistakes. The important thing is to accept our human foibles, learn from our miscues, tirelessly forgive ourselves, hold ourselves more gently and lightly, and move on. People who are addicted to perfection are often isolated. They don’t have many real friends. They’re afraid that people will see through them, so they don’t let anyone get too close. We keep our distance from perfect people because we sense that we’ll never measure up; we don’t approach them. Those who try to be perfect only succeed in pushing people away and removing themselves from their humanity. Being human, perfection is impossible. By replacing the desire to be perfect with an interest in accepting ourselves as we are and doing our best, we may heal the shame that drives perfectionism. No longer needing to protect our image or have our worth tied to our achievements, we’re freed to relish the moment, gracefully navigate through our successes and failures, and enjoy this precious life. If you like my article, please consider viewing my Facebook page and books below. View the full article
  16. Author don Miguel Ruiz who penned the best seller, The Four Agreements, sagely says, “Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” Easier said than done at times. While it doesn’t mean that we are exempt from correction and re-direction, those who feel a need to hurl critical words often do so because of their own insecurities and world view. What happens when those harsh words echo from within our own cranium? Scott Kalechstein Grace is a California based singer songwriter whose music is inspired by his personal psycho-spiritual journey, some of which has included addiction and recovery. His song parodies are like that of Weird Al Yankovich. Scott refers to one of the most insidious self-deprecating addictions as ‘critiholism,’; indeed, one to which I and many others I know fall prey. It reflects the paradoxical poster I saw near the time clock of a place I worked many years ago, that commands, “The beatings will continue until morale improves around here.” I laugh still and use it as an example for my clients who are harshly self-critical. They nod and smile knowingly. I notice my own chattering mind running amok with thoughts such as, “You should know better, since you are a therapist with a Master’s degree.” “How come you keep falling into that same pattern of taking on other people’s issues and feeling a need to fix, save, heal, cure and kiss the boo boos to make them all better?” “You need to practice what you preach.” “What will it take for you to finally have it all together?” This last one is said with an exasperated sigh. What has become increasingly clear is that I still have work to do in that area and that when I am most concerned about what others think about me and especially the work I hold dear, my inner critic becomes embodied in someone else. Many of the professional hats I wear, beyond that of social worker/therapist are rather unconventional and revolve around the use of healthy, non-sexual touch by consent in the form of a workshop, as well as Laughter Yoga (a modality that is deemed legitimate such that NASW (National Association of Social Workers) offered 16 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) when I took the weekend training. Over the past few months, whenever I have posted something about either of these topics on social media, inevitably, someone I know professionally has chimed in about how ‘strange, odd, weird, creepy and silly,’ these interests are. This person indicated that they are not befitting the professional they know me to be and can’t understand how I could see them as valid methods of teaching skills in the areas of communication, relationships, boundary setting, assertiveness, childlike playfulness, trust and safely stretching comfort zones. I am clear that although they are not therapy, they do have therapeutic value. Whenever I have attempted to explain the validity and value, the response has been to dig in more deeply, repeating the criticism. When I have suggested that this person step back and re-evaluate the way they express their objection, I am met with a response that sounds like, “When you place something in a public venue, you can expect some disagreement, or do you only want people to agree with everything you say?” It had me pausing and asking a few well-chosen questions: How important is this person’s opinion? Am I not solid enough in my own estimation of what I do that I put too much stake in what others think? Why do I feel a need to defend my position? The answers I came up with harken back to the erroneous belief that I had to make everything look good and I needed to be seen as competent and confident to combat childhood asthma and pediatric problems. I was viewed as precocious by the adults in my life and didn’t want to disappoint anyone. It was my own version of ‘the empress has no clothes,’ while I clutched at the invisible garments that were supposed to cover my emotional vulnerability. These days I am far more willing to be transparent, knowing that by doing so, I am exposing myself to external critique. I am learning to soothe the aspect of myself that I refer to as ‘Perfectionista,’ who seeks approval, both internally and externally. When inquiring of others how they face their chattering monkey minds, their responses were as diverse as those responding: “I use deep breathing and the conscious redirection of thoughts and images to focus on. Positive affirmation and moving the body also helps.” “Essential oils/blends. Yoga works great. YouTube meditations a short walk, a conversation with a colleague.” “Lots of internal dialogue, reminding myself of my survival rate thus far (100%), all that I have accomplished (more than the average bear), and that I am clever and smart and can solve anything life throws at me, because so far, I have, and the best predictor of future behavior/ is past behavior/outcome. And I take naps.” “Counting my breaths till my mind calms. Yoga before sitting is essential for me (the whole point of it right!)” “I am not great at meditation, but I am one heck of a visualizer. That is my surest way of quieting monkey mind. I visualize anything that holds my interest at the moment, and then I see it in exquisite detail. Voila, all quiet upstairs. And it has the added benefit of creating something in my mind that may actually get translated in the future to a piece of art, some home decor, a garden design, etc.” “Meditation and journal writing.” “Turn it into a song.” “I allow the words… Then I add, and I love that about you. I started this years ago and it’s quieted my inner critic. I still do it occasionally, this week it looked like this. “You have gained so much weight… And I love that about you.” “Sit in my car and look at lake at Peace Valley Park.” “Meditation, mantra and Vedic astrology.” “Let it go let it go let it go.” “Always get a good night’s sleep and do integral yoga and meditation.” “Learn to observe the chatter rather than having ownership. “ “Review, acknowledge release!!” “When my chattering mind is going, I consciously change my thoughts, it’s the one thing I do have control over in my life. This could be singing a song, doing a chore or an activity and redirect my thoughts.” “I can shut mine off at will.” “I go for a run or bike ride.” “Of course, we need the little fellow, but when I feel it is getting in the way more than helping, I take a deep breath and send it to bed.” “Yes… Creative Activity… Physical Activity… Social Activity… Meal Activity.” “I redirect my mind to gratitude.” I am willing to tame my inner critic. View the full article
  17. Here’s what you need to do. Have you recently been feeling depressed but nothing is wrong? Do you feel like you have everything that you want in your life but still you feel like you are carrying a hundred pound weight on your back, that you have no interest in anything and that all you want to do is sleep? I am not a doctor but I can tell you that I used to feel that way all the time. I lived with this overwhelming sense of hopelessness and dread. I tried to be a good parent but keeping my energy up was close to impossible. I tried to be a great wife but my irritability prevented that from happening. I had a great job but my performance suffered. This went on for years. YEARS. I thought that I was managing it…and I was. Until I wasn’t. One day, when I was 42 years old, I found myself in a closet, banging my head against the wall. I had no idea what was going on. A friend of mine scooped me up off the floor and took me to see a psychiatrist. He diagnosed me with clinical depression. He sent me off with some medication and instructions to follow up with a therapist. That day changed my life. 5 Signs Your Depression Is Getting Serious (And It’s Time To Reach Out For Help) If you are feeling depressed but nothing is wrong in your life then you too could be clinically depressed. This means that you have a chemical imbalance that causes depressive symptoms without something actually being wrong. So what do you do if you are feeling depressed but nothing is wrong? I have some suggestions: 1. Ask Yourself a Few Questions. A good way to get a sense of whether or not you are clinically depressed is to ask yourself some questions: Are you living with feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness? Are you more irritable than usual? Have you lost interest in things that used to make you happy? Are you not sleeping as well as you used to? Have your sleep patterns changed? Are you spending more time in bed? Have your eating patterns changed? Have you lost or gained weight? Are you more anxious than you used to be? Do you struggle with feelings of worthlessness? Do you have a hard time focusing? Do you think about committing suicide? Do you have new physical problems, like headaches or backaches? If you answered “yes” to any, or all, of these questions you might be struggling with clinical depression. 2. See Your Primary Care Doctor, Immediately. If you are feeling depressed and nothing is wrong, it is important that you reach out to your primary care doctor as soon as possible to tell her about your symptoms. Seeking medical help is key to dealing with depression. Many primary care physicians are knowledgeable about the treatment of depression and can help you with treatment right away. Some primary care doctors might refer you to a psychiatrist who can help you diagnose and manage your depression. Either way, see a doctor, right away. 3. Stick to Whatever Regimen the Doctor Prescribes. This is a key part of dealing with clinical depression. What often happens is that a doctor prescribes a medication to help someone manage their depression and then once they are feeling better they stop taking it. And what happens next? The depression comes back. So stick to your treatment. Continue to take your meds. Just like you would if your doctor had prescribed meds to help you with a thyroid issue. Or diabetes. Tips for Taking Care of Yourself When You’re Depressed 4. Surround Yourself With People Who Love You. Many people who suffer from clinical depression tend to isolate themselves from friends and family. Making the effort to spend time with people and to pretend to enjoy themselves is just too much. So they don’t. Make an effort to get yourself out there and spend time with people who love you. Spending time with people who make you laugh, who keep you out of your head and make you feel good about yourself is very important to managing your clinical depression. 5. Don’t Be Embarrassed. Many people who are diagnosed with clinical depression are embarrassed. Embarrassed that they can’t just “suck it up”. That they might have some kind of personal deficiency that makes them weak in the face of this perceived disease. Let me tell you! You are not weak. You are not lacking something that others have that make it so that you can “suck it up”. You are actually incredibly brave for facing this issue head-on. Clinical depression is a disease caused by a chemical imbalance — the same as heart disease, the same as thyroid disease. Clinical depression is perceived by many in society to be a personal weakness. I mean how can you be depressed if nothing is wrong? Luckily, more and more people are speaking up about living with mental illness. More and more people, including many famous people, are being honest about living well with their condition and helping to eliminate the stigma of mental illness. So, join the celebrities. Don’t be embarrassed. Clinical depression is not something that you could have prevented. But it is something that you can deal with. If you are feeling depressed but nothing is wrong, then you may be struggling with clinical depression. The best way to deal with it is to get yourself to see your doctor right away and then stick with the medical treatment they prescribe. Also, make sure to take care of yourself and surround yourself with people who love you. You, like millions of other women, can have a full and happy life living with clinical depression. All you need to do is to pick up the phone and call your doctor. Do it today! This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: What It Means When You’re Feeling Depressed (But Nothing Is Actually Wrong). View the full article
  18. Hi, I'd like to overcome my flying phobia. In the past, I suffered from anxiety and panic. With the help of various tools and medication, I've overcome it and I live a "normal" life. I had a panic attack on an airplane during the period that my anxiety was very bad and undiagnosed (quite a few years ago) and I still have trouble with air travel. I'd like to connect with other people who understand and who can help me move and live beyond my limitations. Thank you!
  19. It’s good to know the facts. Living with untreated depression is a horrible thing. Every day is full of hopelessness and despair. Life can seem unbearable. Imagine, then, how untreated depression in parents can affect their children. Parenting is a 24/7 job. It’s all about modeling good behavior, paying attention, educating and loving our children. Doing these things while depressed can seem almost impossible. As a result, untreated depression can have a huge negative effect on children. Here are the 5 ways that untreated parental depression affects their children and how to best protect your kids during dark times: 1. Depression Is Scary. For a child, depression in a parent is very scary. A child just cannot comprehend why their parent is acting the way that they are. When depressed, parents can, and do, act a variety of ways — sad, angry, tired, anxious, ambivalent, indifferent, insecure, or even aggressive. As a result, if those behaviors show up regularly, children can start acting anxious, insecure, and aggressive themselves. Parenting While Depressed: 6 Things You Should Remember 2. Kids Blame Themselves. When my daughter was 15, I shared with her that I had just been diagnosed with depression but that I had probably suffered from it for years. Her reaction? “I am so glad to know that it wasn’t my fault.” Children are so innocent and so self-centered, and as a result, they believe that anything that happens in the world is a result of them and their actions. Because of this, a child can easily internalize their parent’s depressed feelings and blame themselves for the behaviors. 3. Their Parent Isn’t Parenting. When a parent is suffering from untreated depression, they just can’t be the parent that they usually are or want to be. If a parent is so sad that she must take to her bed for days or if the depression has made him particularly cranky and impatient, the child will suffer. If her mom can’t get out of bed to make her dinner, then she will have to fend for herself. If her dad is always yelling at her, she will feel bad about herself and take to her room. Parents need to be parents and it’s difficult to be so when they are suffering from untreated depression. And kids need their parents to be parents. 4. Their Mom and Dad Don’t Seem to Like Each Other. One of the biggest side effects of untreated depression is relationship instability. When one partner is depressed, the other will often struggle to understand what is happening and why their partner can’t just snap out of it. This feeling of helplessness can lead to anger and frustration which in turn interferes with relationship health. And there is nothing scarier for a child than having her parents not get along. The parental unit is what provides the foundation for a child’s growth. If that is regularly unstable the results can be devastating and permanent. 5. They Don’t Feel Safe at Home. Unfortunately, when one suffers from untreated depression, productivity can suffer. As a result, one’s home can get dirty, meals don’t get made, laundry doesn’t get done, and safety standards don’t get met. As a result, many children of parents living with untreated depression are neglected in some way which forces them to either suffer needlessly or grow up very quickly because they have to take care of themselves from an early age. How unfair is that? So, how can you protect your kids during these dark times? 1. Be Honest With Them. If kids, or adults, know what is going on then they are more likely able to deal with it. Tell your kids if you or your partner is suffering from depression. Explain to them that mommy’s sadness or daddy’s anger is the result of something that they can’t control. Ask them if they have any questions and be willing to answer them. Being honest will allow your kids to understand, to some degree, what is going on which will alleviate some of their anxiety around the situation. 2. Explain That It’s Not Their Fault. More than anything, a child needs to hear from his or her parent that the behaviors they are experiencing aren’t their fault. Understanding that their parents’ instability isn’t a result of their actions will take a considerable weight off of a child’s shoulders. And it is the very important to not let your child blame themselves for your troubles. How Having Postnatal Depression Actually Made Me a Better Mom 3. Remove Yourself From the Situation. If you are depressed, make every effort to not overexpose your kids to your moods. When you are depressed, if you are able, send your kids to a friend’s house or have your spouse take them out for the afternoon. Constant exposure to a parent who is suffering from untreated depression can have a significant negative effect on kids. Even a short break from the moodiness can be therapeutic. 4. Get Help Around the House. If meals aren’t getting made or the house isn’t getting cleaned consider getting someone in to help. Children need to be taken care of and if you can’t do it, let someone else. Your kids will thank you someday. 5. Seek Professional Psychiatric Help. The best way to protect your kids during dark times is to get help! If depression goes on untreated, it just gets worse. Early intervention can greatly reduce the effects of depression in a parent on a child. See your primary care physician immediately. They will help you get treatment right away so that you can protect your kids. Untreated depression in parents can affect children in a big way. Kids of parents with untreated depression often suffer from low self-esteem, insecurity, and anxiety and often are forced to grow up way too fast. It is essential that you make an effort to protect your child if you or your partner suffers from untreated depression. Be honest with them, make sure their needs are taken care of and seek help as soon as possible. They are your children. They deserve the best, whether you are depressed or not. This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: 5 Ways Untreated Depression In Parents Affects Their Kids. View the full article
  20. You’ve Beaten OCD – Now What?

    For many people, the journey through obsessive-compulsive disorder and back to good health is a long one. Getting the correct diagnosis, or even just recognizing you have OCD, often takes years. Then comes the search for appropriate treatment, followed by a long-term commitment to therapy and hard work. We know recovery is possible, but it is rarely a “quick fix.” I try to imagine what it must feel like, after being controlled by OCD for so long, to finally have your life back? Relief. Gratitude. Excitement! Yes, but for many, also add trepidation and confusion, with a helping of uncertainty. What do I do NOW? For many people, living with a good-sized case of obsessive-compulsive disorder is a full-time job. Obsessions, compulsions, more compulsions, getting stuck, avoidance, more compulsions, planning your next move, more compulsions — it can literally take up all your time. When my son Dan’s OCD was severe, OCD was all he “did” day in and day out. It truly stole his life. And yet, it’s not hard to understand that when you’ve performed compulsions for such a long time, they can become comfortable and familiar — not unlike a security blanket. So when you finally get your life back, it can be disorienting and scary. You might even feel anxious about feeling well because you’re not used to feeling that way and don’t know how to handle not being a slave to OCD. What do you do with all this free time? How can you be sure to live that happy, productive life you’ve worked so hard to reclaim? I have heard from quite a few people who have faced this issue, and it’s not unusual for OCD to try to worm its way back into their lives. All the uncertainty about what’s to come can be a ripe breeding ground for OCD. In addition, those with the disorder might start to obsess about how they think they are supposed to feel, or maybe even wonder if they ever really had OCD in the first place? Hopefully, those who have made it this far in their battle will recognize OCD if it rears its ugly head and see it for what it is – a big bully trying to regain control. They will respond appropriately by just acknowledging the anxiety, not giving it any additional attention, and then continuing on with their lives. Of course, one of the best ways to keep OCD at bay is by continuing to use exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. Back to the question of “What do I do NOW?” the answer is clear. You live your life the way YOU want to, not the way OCD wants you to. You identify your goals and work toward them within the framework of your values. What do you want out of life? While to some people the answers are obvious, others might need guidance to help figure out their fresh path. A good therapist can be invaluable. Let’s get back to those feelings of Relief. Gratitude. Excitement! Because for all those whose lives are now unencumbered by OCD, anything is possible. Your hopes and dreams really can come true! View the full article
  21. Happy Holidays, Psych Central readers! With this edition of Psychology Around the Net, I’m passing along some meditation tips for the holidays (because let’s fact it: they’re not exactly stress free), research on why helping others boosts our own mental and physical health, what really makes for a happier holiday season, and more. No matter how you spend your holiday weekend, I hope you’re surrounded with everyone you hold dearest in life! A Meditation for Vacation and Holidays: The “most wonderful time of the year” isn’t often — if ever — completely stress-free. Here’s a meditation practice to help you remember what makes you grateful. Can Lying About Santa Now Hurt Your Child Later? Is it actually possible that by continuing with the myth of Jolly Ol’ Sant Nick, parents — not their children — are the ones to suffer emotional damage in the end? The Psychology Of Service Work: Giving Back Is So Personally Rewarding: We help others to help others, but by putting other people before ourselves, we’re actually practicing self-care. Not only does it cause our brains to emit dopamine and oxytocin, but also it helps ease depression and lower blood pressure. Experts Reveal What Makes for a Happier Holiday. Hint: It’s Not More Stuff: Elizabeth Dunn is a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia and Ashley Whillans is an assistant professor at Harvard Business School who specializes in studying our choices on time, money, and work. Let’s see what they have to say about tapping into what really brings us happiness during the holiday season. Space Aging and Psychology Among Experiments for Canadian Astronaut: Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station December 2018 and he’s spoken about several of the experiments he plans to conduct once he gets there — including experiments related to the state of his psychological health. Facebook Admits Social Media Can Harm Mental Health: We’ve heard from mental health professionals. We’ve even heard from people who used to earn their paychecks from the social media kingdom. Now, let’s hear from Facebook itself. How does it affect our mental health? ‘Improv Saved My Life’: The Comedy Classes Helping People With Anxiety: Says Alex MacLaren, an improvisational comedy teacher in London, “You learn to say yes even when you don’t know where you’re going to end up.” View the full article
  22. Joe Biden’s recent interview with Meghan McCain on The View was heart wrenching, powerful, authentic and emotional. It was a beautiful connection, and his word of advice was clear for the McCain family. He has stressed the importance of this one thing over and over again. The necessity to maintain it, no matter what life brings. And Joe Biden certainly has been through a lot. “You have to have hope.” – Joe Biden Time, USA Today, NY Times, Vanity Fair, CBS, CNN… they all reported on that one thing, and many in the headlines. Which I think alludes to the magnitude of the message and relevance for today’s world. It was a powerful segment — and critical in these times as hopelessness is a primary symptom of depression and the number one predictor of suicide. In the US, 36% of young girls are reporting depression prior to high school, and suicide is the leading cause of death for teens age 15-18. Yes. Such truth. We MUST have hope. And across sectors, from politics to music, there is an agreement. In an article for Lenny, singer-songwriter Kesha talked about this same thing, specifically as it related to her depression: “I know that I was never abandoned by my fans, my animals, or my family, but when you are depressed — really, truly depressed — you feel like you have nothing. Even having my kitties sleeping next to me in my darkest of hours couldn’t bring me light. It is in these moments when even the most cynical among us are forced to turn to something other than ourselves — we turn to prayer, or something like it. You look past your shame, past your desire to hide, and admit you need help.and channeling it into music. An article in Rolling Stone quoted Kesha as saying: “And I think the beautiful part is that you hold onto hope … and you keep showing up for yourself.” These are beautiful and important testaments to the work we are doing to promote hope through our Global Hope Challenge. As we agree, no matter what life brings, you must have at least #OneThing that brings you #Hope, even in your darkest of times. For some, it may be music. Others, a friend. Maybe it is work. Or kids. Or nature. Or it could be the person on the other end of the suicide hotline. No matter what, each and every one of us must have something. Please consider joining the challenge, and sharing your #OneThing for #Hope. It just may inspire someone else. You never know. My #OneThing? At the moment, my work teaching Hope via our program Hopeful Minds inspires me. We teach it as a skill. While in infancy stages, we saw positive results in Northern Ireland with reduction in anxiety, and an increase in hope and emotional regulation skill. So my #OneThing is ultimately the thought that we can somehow, someday prevent anxiety and depression from occurring. I’d love to hear yours. View the full article
  23. Joe Biden’s recent interview with Meghan McCain on The View was heart wrenching, powerful, authentic and emotional. It was a beautiful connection, and his word of advice was clear for the McCain family. He has stressed the importance of this one thing over and over again. The necessity to maintain it, no matter what life brings. And Joe Biden certainly has been through a lot. “You have to have hope.” – Joe Biden Time, USA Today, NY Times, Vanity Fair, CBS, CNN… they all reported on that one thing, and many in the headlines. Which I think alludes to the magnitude of the message and relevance for today’s world. It was a powerful segment — and critical in these times as hopelessness is a primary symptom of depression and the number one predictor of suicide. In the US, 36% of young girls are reporting depression prior to high school, and suicide is the leading cause of death for teens age 15-18. Yes. Such truth. We MUST have hope. And across sectors, from politics to music, there is an agreement. In an article for Lenny, singer-songwriter Kesha talked about this same thing, specifically as it related to her depression: “I know that I was never abandoned by my fans, my animals, or my family, but when you are depressed — really, truly depressed — you feel like you have nothing. Even having my kitties sleeping next to me in my darkest of hours couldn’t bring me light. It is in these moments when even the most cynical among us are forced to turn to something other than ourselves — we turn to prayer, or something like it. You look past your shame, past your desire to hide, and admit you need help.and channeling it into music. An article in Rolling Stone quoted Kesha as saying: “And I think the beautiful part is that you hold onto hope … and you keep showing up for yourself.” These are beautiful and important testaments to the work we are doing to promote hope through our Global Hope Challenge. As we agree, no matter what life brings, you must have at least #OneThing that brings you #Hope, even in your darkest of times. For some, it may be music. Others, a friend. Maybe it is work. Or kids. Or nature. Or it could be the person on the other end of the suicide hotline. No matter what, each and every one of us must have something. Please consider joining the challenge, and sharing your #OneThing for #Hope. It just may inspire someone else. You never know. My #OneThing? At the moment, my work teaching Hope via our program Hopeful Minds inspires me. We teach it as a skill. While in infancy stages, we saw positive results in Northern Ireland with reduction in anxiety, and an increase in hope and emotional regulation skill. So my #OneThing is ultimately the thought that we can somehow, someday prevent anxiety and depression from occurring. I’d love to hear yours. View the full article
  24. The best antidotes for very anxious people. I first encountered social anxiety during my sophomore year of high school. I started dating a girl named Melanie, who participated in many of the same school activities that I enjoyed. She was the perfect combination of smart and sweet. Melanie was also extremely shy. She was quiet and kept to herself, but I found that mystique intriguing; I seemed to gravitate towards other kids who were a little on the fringe. Melanie wore loose-fitting clothing — not a popular style at the time — because she felt self-conscious about her disproportionately large chest. Looking back, it’s apparent her physical characteristics caused her to develop social anxiety that manifested via her shyness and alienating behaviors. She rarely hung out with our classmates, avoided school dances, and never spoke up in class (despite typically knowing the answers). I did my best to demonstrate that I was interested in her as a person and not her physical features, but Melanie seemed to never get the message. She slowly pushed me out of her life and our relationship fizzled out after a few months. Crucial Tips for Loving Someone With Anxiety As most 15-year-olds would, I took Melanie’s avoidance as rejection. I overanalyzed the situation and second-guessed my actions. I felt bad about anything offensive I might have inadvertently said and I worried that I subconsciously had avoided being romantic because I didn’t want her to misinterpret my intentions. Many years later, I realize Melanie pushed me away as a coping mechanism. She delivered a preemptive strike to avoid rejection, sabotaging our relationship before it started. This is not an uncommon situation. Numerous relationships and marriages must overcome issues related to social anxiety, but it’s easier said than done. By taking the time to communicate openly and honestly, couples can manage their stress and mental health to strengthen and cultivate lasting romantic relationships. How Anxiety Undermines Relationships Social anxiety and the quality of romantic relationships are inversely related. Recent research by Christian Hahn at Western University (formerly known as the University of Western Ontario) shows a direct link between higher levels of social anxiety and lower levels of relationship satisfaction. Specifically, social anxiety disorder translates to less trust and perceived support from romantic partners. Social anxiety can cause people to view others as overly critical and hostile. People who have social anxiety sometimes struggle to notice positive feedback. They also might seem overbearing, attempting to control significant others as a way to reduce their own insecurities. They could also appear to be overly clingy, demonstrating their anxiety via jealousy. People can also turn away from a relationship altogether — as in the case of my ill-fated high school romance — or hold back parts of themselves to avoid rejection. While social anxiety undoubtedly complicates relationships, couples can still have an optimistic outlook. By keeping warning signs in mind and focusing on open and honest communication, partners can work together to combat negative consequences. How to Establish Trust And Lessen Anxiety The most important element of any relationship is a foundation of trust and support. The same holds true of relationships involving social anxiety. How do you do that? Through effective and positive communication. Unfortunately, social anxiety can cause people to shut down and stop talking with their partners. Worse yet, they might adopt negative forms of communication that include criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. The best antidote to these detrimental behaviors is a combination of knowledge, respect, and persistence. Here are the ways on how to cure anxiety when it’s affecting your relationships: 1. Address issues head-on. Anytime you have a concern, be completely honest with your partner. Discuss the issue as soon as possible to ensure you don’t stuff emotions and eventually begin to express those feelings via criticism. Direct criticism can feel like an attack — piercing your partner to the core — so offer a caring critique by sandwiching any negative comments with positive feedback. 5 Relationship Problems People With Anxiety Have (and How to Fix ‘Em) 2. Treat your partner with respect. When you communicate with your partner, do so in a manner that you would like him or her to mirror. Lashing out, yelling, mocking, eye-rolling, or using sarcasm will only undermine your message and lead to larger issues down the road. This behavior can cause someone who has social anxiety to feel worthless and possibly hated. By treating your partner with respect, you can help ensure you receive the same level of care and understanding. 3. Know that it’s not about you. Social anxiety can manifest itself in accusations and aggression. This behavior can cause the recipient to become defensive, attack in response, or make excuses. While they might feel right in the heat of the moment, none of these behaviors foster productive communication. Instead of tossing excuses and attempting to justify your behavior, listen to your partner’s perspective on the situation and appreciate his or her take on the matter. 4. Keep communication open. Communication can be tough with anyone, but it presents a unique challenge when you throw social anxiety into the mix. Don’t avoid difficult interactions or close yourself off from your partner. A lack of dialogue will only cause you to bottle up your feelings and lead the relationship to spiral into negativity. Be honest and open and confront problems as they arise. Had I had these tools at my disposal back in high school, things might have gone differently with Melanie. I hid my feelings from her in an attempt to protect her — and perhaps myself, as I feared her rejection. When she slowly pushed me out of her life, I allowed it to happen instead of discussing my feelings. Loving someone who has social anxiety doesn’t have to be difficult. Understanding the disorder is key to moving forward in a true partnership. While it might be a challenge to foster and maintain open lines of communication, the benefit of a healthy and happy relationship makes it all worthwhile. This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: How To Stop Your Social Anxiety From Ruining Relationships. View the full article
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