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  1. Last week
  2. Through the years I’ve learned to douse the ongoing wildfire of fear with productive tools such as exercise, meditation, replacing negative, irrational thoughts with positive, rational statements, and tapping into my creativity (studies show that anxious people are often more creative — as it takes a lot of imagination to come up with those what-if scenarios — so it helps to channel that artistry into a positive outlet). Yet there are other ways I combat my anxiety that don’t sound as constructive. And they certainly don’t sound very positive, either. In fact, some tactics could be construed as downright depressing. But they work. In fact, they work so well, that I feel it’s my duty to share them. Below are my four favorite counterintuitive ways to combat anxiety, so take a moment to remove any rose-colored glasses you may have on and replace them with some dark-hued lenses. Here they are: Sometimes It’s Best NOT to Process with Others I know, I know: those irrational thoughts can be so harsh, you need someone to help remind you that they are ONLY thoughts. Yet, I’ve also found that sometimes sharing my anxieties only sharpens their grip. Why is this? First of all, I can trigger myself even more by arguing with the poor, well-meaning listener about how this or that fear could come to pass. That is, by discussing it, the probability of that fear happening further “cements” it into my brain. Secondly, people who don’t understand anxiety may reply in ways that make anxiety warriors feel worse about themselves. You know those trite remarks such as: “Just stop worrying,” or “You need to learn to control your thoughts,” which I guess are well-meaning, but really makes me want to scream. From what I’ve learned, it’s best to share anxious thoughts with the most trusted and understanding of people. And if it’s going to trigger you to share your specific fears, then, at least, share how much your anxiety itself is affecting you. Accepting That Anxiety Won’t Go Away When I was first grasping for answers to “cure” myself of my chronic and acute anxiety, I envisioned a future in which my over-the-top worry would be forever banished. Yet, as I trudged onward, I realized that there wasn’t going to be any kind of fairytale ending. I was and always will be above average on the anxiety scale (a number of studies show that anxiety is genetic). Anxiety is something I’m able to diminish but never banish. Acknowledging this fact helped me accept that through the better days, some worse ones are still bound to pop up due to triggers, circumstances, and even physical challenges. Once I accepted this, I was better able to utilize my bag of anxiety-reducing tricks, knowing that it would just be a matter of time when I’d be able to tame it from a roaring lion to a purring cat — that is, until the next big worry claws itself into my life. Using Terror-Filled Distractions When my anxiety needle moves into the red alert zone, my husband often suggests that we watch a disaster movie. No, the man isn’t being facetious; rather he’s acting with complete empathy. Ironically, watching fictionalized stories about catastrophic events helps reduce my what-if fears. Why is this? I’m not sure, but I believe that it has to do with putting my anxiety into perspective while at the same time witnessing a shared calamity, which airlifts me out of my isolated island of despair. Disaster movies are also action-packed and visually dramatic, which gives my mind a vacation from the self-ruminating dread. And…speaking of distraction, who could take their eyes off Dwayne Johnson when he played a rescue-chopper pilot in the 2015 disaster flick “San Andreas?” I know I couldn’t! Remembering That We All Die When my fears dive into the deepest and darkest of waters, sometimes the only way I can breathe again is to remind myself that no matter what, we all die. Although this thought may sound morose, it calms me down because it reminds me that nothing is permanent. Nothing. And if nothing is permanent, then my fears cannot be either. In death, too, my brain will be caput — so it won’t be around to ruminate on any further worries. In the meantime, then, I’ll keep combating my anxiety with both happily constructive and darkly counterintuitive measures, hoping that my path not only gets better, but that I can help other anxiety warriors along the way as well. View the full article
  3. Phobiasupportforum

    Podcast: Helping a Friend with Mental Illness

     Even if we live with mental illness, ourselves, we can be frustrated when we don’t know how to help a friend or family member who’s dealing with it. We may find that coping skills that work for us may not work for someone else. Medications that work for us may not work for the other person. In this episode, Gabe and Michelle discuss how to help friends with mental illness, including the help available through caregivers, medication, and more. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW “And I wonder to myself, ‘Why do you tolerate this s**t?’” – Gabe Howard Highlights From ‘Helping a friend with mental illness’’ Episode [1:00] Fun with stereotypes. [4:20] Gabe reads a letter from a listener. [6:30] How can you help a friend who is struggling with mental illness? [7:30] What’s up with caregivers? [9:30] How can you help yourself during a manic phase? [13:30] How can psychiatric medications help? [22:00] When are we not okay? Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Helping a Friend with Mental Illness’ Show Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Announcer: For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Gabe: My name is Gabe Howard and I have bipolar disorder. Michelle: Hi Michelle, schizophrenic. Gabe: And together we’re hosting a podcast. That’s where we got the name. Michelle: Whoooooo! Gabe: I think we’ve made that joke like four times in the entirety of the show which is now well over a year. Michelle: Wow, Gabe I’ve known you for so long. Gabe: You couldn’t even fake enthusiasm. Michelle: I’m enthusiastic, I’m so happy. Gabe: Have you taken your meds? Michelle: Yes. Gabe: Isn’t that was still the number one question that makes our audience cringe? Michelle: I can’t stand that question. Gabe: Now you know that I’m just kidding like I watched you take your meds because I don’t want you to hurt my dog. Stereotypes are funny. They’re also very offensive and insulting. And this show really aims to both break down stereotypes and use them for humor. So we have sort of a schizophrenic goal. Oh shit. Did I do it again? Michelle: Oh, no, you did. This weather is just so schizophrenic. Gabe: No, no, it’s bipolar. See that doesn’t offend me. That’s actually a really interesting point. I’ve heard you say that the weather is schizophrenic offends you. When people say that the weather is bipolar that does not offend me. Michelle: I think that makes a little more sense because they mean one day it’s sunny one day it’s raining or cold. And schizophrenic weather I don’t get it because I’m like, what is the weather hearing right now? Gabe: So you’re saying that the reason that the weather is schizophrenic is offensive is because the weather is not hearing voices? Michelle: I just don’t understand how it makes any sense. What are they thinking that schizophrenia is that the weather it could possibly be schizophrenic? Gabe: That’s a good point there. Michelle: Is the weather delusional? Is the weather thinking that it’s raining, so it’s raining? Or is the weather sunny because it’s believing a delusion of sunnyness? I don’t get it. Gabe: That’s a good point. When somebody says the weather is schizophrenic they probably mean that it’s like erratic or maybe unwelcome or violent or uncomfortable. So therefore the weather is schizophrenic and I can see where that would be. You’re right that is a lot more insulting than the weather is bipolar which like you said it was rainy one minute and sunny the next. Michelle: I think it’s just people that don’t know what schizophrenia is and they just want us say something like maybe they think they’re smart. Like that when people say the word “conversate” and say it like they think it’s an actual word. Gabe: Yeah. Michelle: When the real word is converse. Gabe: Right. Michelle: They think they’re smart like we were just “conversating” saying like no no you sound like an idiot when you try to sound smart like that. Not a word. Conversate is not a word conversating is not a word. Don’t say the word conversate in front of me. I will think you’re an idiot. Gabe: You know the one that I hate the most? The word “irregardless.” Michelle: Is that what? Gabe: It’s not a word. Regardless it’s not a word it’s regardless just just regardless. You don’t need an “irr.”. Michelle: I don’t think I’ve even heard somebody say that. Gabe: You know what I also hate? This literally makes me die. Michelle: That doesn’t make any sense. Gabe: Right? It figuratively makes you die. Michelle: Yes. Because then. Gabe: You’re literally an idiot. Michelle: Because then you’d be dead. It literally made you die. You’d be dead. But you know and then the British they say literally? Gabe: Literally? Michelle: Why do they say literally? Gabe: How would you know, you’ve never left the country? Michelle: Yes I have. Gabe: When? Michelle: And plus there’s always British people on TV and there’s British people in movies and they say literally and they say Tuesday and they say schedule. Gabe: So we’ve got an e-mail. We actually just drop these things in to see if people from across the pond are listening. If somebody writes in, “We did not like Michelle Hammer making fun of our entire culture and country.” We’re like hey we’re breaking in the U.K. We do get a lot of e-mail and we are going to try to answer more and more e-mails in future episodes. So bop over to PsychCentral.com/BSP and you’ll be able to see the form to ask us your own questions. Michelle: Ask us anything. Gabe: Megan sent us a nice long e-mail and she asked a lot of questions. We decided, hey, we might as well address them because you know we ran out of show ideas. She wrote I just started listening to your podcast and I’m trying to understand bipolar disorder more. So this works because it’s going to be about me. I would love to hear an in-depth discussion about how the brain works with someone who has bipolar disorder. Let’s kind of stop there for a moment. Gabe Howard lives with bipolar disorder. Michelle: And I’m schizophrenic. Gabe: And neither one of us are doctors. Michelle: I am not a doctor. Gabe: We don’t even play one on TV. Michelle: No. Gabe: We don’t even have like Neil Patrick Harris Doogie Howser. Michelle: Not even. Gabe: Yeah. Michelle: We’re not even a kid doctor that’s a genius. Gabe: Nothing. We’re not even a therapist. Michelle: But I like brains. Gabe: So you do not want to get in depth information about how the brain works with bipolar disorder from Gabe and Michelle. Michelle: Or we can just make something up. Gabe: We could. We can make something up. The brain works by firing synapses. Aww, shit, that’s actually correct. Michelle: Synapses. There’s a misfire in synapses. That’s why that’s. It’s a misfire. And there is serotonin. Gabe: Serotonin, there’s a word. Dopamine. Michelle: Dopamine. Gabe: You’re a dope, I mean, sorry. Michelle: You’re dope, I mean, you’re a dope, like I mean, yo. Gabe: Like the brain for as much as we need it and as much as we talk about it and the fact that everybody has one is a really misunderstood organ. So you really just don’t want to get information from anybody because they just don’t know. Michelle: You gotta donate your brain to science, Gabe. There you go. Gabe: I did. Harvard gets my brain when I die. Michelle: Oh, that’s so nice of you. Gabe: It’s the only way I’m getting into Harvard. Michelle: OK. Gabe: Who’s getting your brain when you die? Michelle: I haven’t thought about it yet but I’ve gotten a brain scan that I gave to Mount Sinai Hospital. Gabe: That was really cool. Michelle: Yeah. The next question we can answer, though. It’s what are ways to help someone with bipolar disorder? Gabe: The best way to help people with mental illness is to do something. So many people ignore the symptoms of mental illness because they don’t know what to say. They don’t know what to do and therefore they do nothing. Doing something is so much better, and some ideas are: talk to the person directly, encourage the person to seek mental health help, if the person is a danger to themselves or others, take them to the doctor or call 911 and stay with them provide support. The bottom line is so many people watch people spiral out of control from a distance because they don’t want to get involved. They don’t understand it. They think that it’s a moral failing. Or they go over and they start yelling at the person and they’re mean to the person and they demand that they get better. Michelle: And you really have to be there for the person. Don’t run away. Stay with them, and try to educate yourself like Megan is trying to do. Gabe: Megan is an excellent example of somebody that’s trying to do something. Her whole letter, which we won’t have time to read, it asked many many questions. And I sincerely hope that Megan, upon hearing this episode, doesn’t think oh well I’ve got all the information that I need in 20 minutes. That’s not realistic. You need to get on PsychCentral.com and read a lot. And also people who are trying to take care of people with mental illness, see your own therapist. Michelle: Yes. Gabe: You know being a full time caregiver to somebody that is really really sick that’s a lot. Michelle: Caregiving is not easy. And then there’s also support groups for caregivers. Gabe: A lot of people don’t realize that when it comes to mental illness. For alcohol addiction they have like Al-Anon. It’s for people who love somebody who is an alcoholic. Michelle: Or like PFLAG. Gabe: Exactly, which is? Michelle: I don’t know exactly what it stands for, but it’s the parents of gays and lesbians. Gabe: Really? You can’t get Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays out of PFLAG? Michelle: Right. That’s right. You know, it Gabe! Gabe: Why do I know more about your culture than you do? Michelle: Whatever whatever whatever. Gabe: There’s all kinds of support groups that are set up for the ancillary characters. And that’s really how I like to say it. They’re not people that are suffering, or have the impairment, or the issue that, you know, is at the core of this. But they’re still impacted by it. They are still impacted by something that happened to somebody else and they need and deserve support as well. Michelle: Yeah, you’re not alone. You’re not alone. There’s bazillions of caregivers for people with mental illness and they need people to talk to as well. Gabe: Exactly. Michelle: Pause on that. Let’s take a break and hear from our sponsor. Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counselling. All 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 counselling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Gabe: And we’re back talking this e-mail. Michelle: So Megan specifically asked this one question of how can they help themselves when they’re in a manic phase? Gabe: That’s really tough. I mean, both Michelle and I have experienced mania and once you’re manic you’re it’s hard you’re kind of gone. Michelle: Yeah, me specifically, let’s say last week I kind of had a manic phase. I even went to the doctor, just that my regular therapy psychiatrist doctor, and I was just in there and he’s kind of said to me you know you’re acting kind of manic right now are you OK? And I go Oh I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine everything is fine. And then I was kind of like hanging out with my friends and they were like Are you OK right now? You are acting a very very strange. What is going on? And that’s when I kind of self reflected and I was like I am totally manic right now. I need to do something about this. But I am an experienced with dealing with myself so I know what I need to do. So someone who’s newly into having a mental illness and finding it out for themselves, they need to learn what they need to do. So they kind of need to educate themselves. So, Gabe, what did you do when you didn’t know you were having manic episodes? Gabe: I mean if you don’t know, you’re not going to do anything. Because mania, for as bad and as nasty and awful as it is, it feels good. It feels fantastic. I don’t think the average person who’s feeling fantastic would think to themselves hey what do I need to do to fix this? Especially with bipolar disorder, because there’s so much depression and suicidality and deep dark pits. Michelle: Right? And you’re finally happy. Gabe: Yeah. You’re finally happy. Why would you want anybody to fuck with that? Michelle: I know. And then everyone’s telling you what are you doing why are you acting like this. You’re like What? I’m happy right now I’m having a great time Why are you trying to kill my jam? I’m doing great. Gabe: Yeah. I would argue that one of the first things to getting better with bipolar disorder is this acknowledgment that all extreme emotions can be dangerous. People just have this belief that you can never be too happy. They’re like wait you can be too happy? What, can you be too rich? Look I don’t know if you can be too rich, but you’re can absolutely be too happy. Michelle: I would love to be too rich. Gabe: I can see that. Would you be like Scrooge McDuck? Michelle: Like diving into my coins and stuff? Gabe: I can see you getting rich and filling up like a giant bin full of money jumping into it and just immediately breaking your nose and smashing your face. That seems like the idiotic thing that you would do. Michelle: I would not do that. But I might take a bath in money naked. Gabe: Duck Tails. Woo hoo. I want to touch on another part of your story that you brought up, Michelle. Which is you were listening to the people around you when your doctor said it you were like OK and when your friends said it you were like OK. This takes some time to build. Obviously, Michelle, we’ve discussed that you have to really be in touch with your emotions to be able to know that you’re in a manic stage and know that you need to do something. That’s really the first thing that you have to learn. But once you’ve learned that so you realized you were manic. What did you do about it? Michelle: Well when I noticed my friends were getting frustrated with me and bringing up that I was manic and you know they didn’t like it they weren’t enjoying it. They were kind of saying what’s going on? I was like you just took a seat on the couch took a couple of deep breaths, had some water, and just settled and self-reflected and just calmed myself down. Really just calmed myself down and realized how I was acting. I kind of got sad that it happened. I was upset that I got so manic. I was upset that I let myself get manic. So I just kind of got sad about it. Gabe: Isn’t that kind of like one of the really shitty things about being mentally ill? You just described that you had a symptom of your mental illness and now you felt bad for it. Michelle: Yeah. Gabe: That would be like feeling sad that you have the symptom of the flu because you blew your nose. Michelle: Yeah yeah. Gabe: There’s a lot of regret when it comes to mental illness. Now I think you know Megan’s talking about her boyfriend a lot here and one of the things that she wants to know over and over again is you know how can he stop? How can he lessen things? And we’re trying not to make this episode about well just take your meds and you’ll be fine, because that’s not helpful. Michelle: Yeah. Going on meds isn’t even easy, especially newly diagnosed. How do you know you’re going on the right med at the right time? How much meds do you need? What’s going to work what’s not going to work? That’s a whole new thing. That’s a whole process. So you can’t just say take your meds and you’ll be better. You don’t know what meds, what your meds are going to be? Gabe: But it is helpful. Michelle: It’s helpful of course. The journey of medication is it always leads to a better life. Well it did with me and you. Gabe: Yeah. Michelle: So I would say that is a good journey. Gabe: But along that journey, to be fair, that journey does involve nasty ass things happening to you. From the time I started medication until the time I got to you know recovery was four years. Clearly that journey was worth it because now I can live well. But there was some issues along the way. It wasn’t like this nice beautiful country road. There were traffic jams. I wrecked my car a couple of times. Gas is incredibly expensive. I’m glad that I got from point A to point B, and I’m proud of myself for doing so. But I think so many people hear just take your meds. Just be med compliant. Meds have no downsides. Meds have incredible amounts of downside. She’s talking about her boyfriend who wants to manage bipolar disorder without the help of medication. I don’t think that’s possible. Michelle: I don’t think that’s possible either. Gabe: But I can understand why he’s scared. I mean her boyfriend wants to manage it without them and I really believe that he wants to manage a bipolar diagnosis without meds for two reasons. One, having to take medicine is shitty. Michelle: Yes. Gabe: I mean it’s a reminder every time you put those pills in your mouth that you are different from everybody else. Michelle: Absolutely. Gabe: It’s also seen as a sign of weakness. Michelle: Yeah. Gabe: Well you’re so weak. You need medication. Michelle: Absolutely. Gabe: And it’s not just that you’re weak, your brain is weak. Michelle: Yeah. Gabe: And your brain is where like your personality and your intelligence is stored. So your personality and your intellect, the core of who you are, is broken. Michelle: That’s just one of the things that you think. It is. Gabe: And it is hard to get over that because it sounds so sensible at the time but that’s just so incredibly stupid. It really is when you think about it. If you lacerated your arm right now and just a big old gash and just blood was pouring out and like your nerves in just a big old gash. Michelle: Yeah, yeah, I get it. Gabe: And a doctor comes in. The doctor comes in and says I’m going to stitch that up for you so that you can heal and you say no. Michelle: I want to keep bleeding. Gabe: I want to keep bleeding because I’m going to will the laceration closed on my own because I’m in control of my arm. It’s my arm. You will not do stuff to my arm. Or what if you broke your leg? I will fuse the bones together without medical intervention. We have people that live with diabetes and have to take insulin. They they don’t say no no no my chemistry is flawed. Or you know, I say chemistry, I actually have no idea how diabetes works, except that people take daily shots and those people live better. It’s the same way with mental illness. I’m really trying not to say stigma, but it’s got this stigma surrounding it that there is somehow a moral value in treating mental illness. I think there’s a moral value in not treating mental illness. Michelle: You said there were two reasons why he didn’t want to take medication. Gabe: I did give two reasons. Michelle: You gave two reasons? Gabe: Yes, you’re just not paying attention. Michelle: OK fine. Gabe: I’m not. Reason number one because taking pills reminds you that you’re different. Reason number two. Michelle: Stigma? Gabe: Number two, no not stigmas. Stop yelling stigma. What are you? Every single mental health advocate in the world? Michelle: Person first language please. Gabe: I apologize. You’re a person living with stupid ideas that you’re spewing out on our show. The first one was taking pills makes you feel different. The second one is that people feel there’s a moral value in taking their medication because they should be able to control their brains without help. Michelle: Okay gotcha there. Gotcha. That’s one and two. Take notes people. Gabe: Somebody who’s newly diagnosed with any mental illness, but especially bipolar disorder, they’re just reminded about how their brain is not working right and how they’re different and how they need to do better. And it’s a scary prospect but this is what I would want to say to this person if he were sitting in front of me. The medication will give you better control of your brain. It will allow you to use more of your faculties. You choose to take the medication so you are in charge. It’s no different than using a car to drive faster. It doesn’t make you weak. It’s just a shortcut. I don’t want to walk 20 miles to school. I want to drive 20 miles to school. It makes me intelligent that I’m smart enough to use a car to get there faster and safer. It makes you intelligent that you’re smart enough to use medication so that you can get there faster and safer. And then once you have better control of your brain you can start making decisions and doing what you want and controlling it just so much better. Michelle: Yeah. I’m reading more of this letter and it seems like he’s so anti medication that he’s almost hurting. Really he’s like he’s distressing himself because he’s not going to doctors because he’s being told by doctors that he needs meds. So I mean if you’re going to go to a doctor for help and then refuse the help, why are you going to the doctor? Gabe: Because he wants to hear something other than that. And you know he is right. There’s a line in here, “It sucks when everyone just tells him medication will work and they don’t give him any other options.” That’s irresponsible as well. Michelle: It is. It is. Gabe: We should point that out because medication while very helpful is not, I repeat not, the only thing. Michelle: Group therapy for him as well. Why doesn’t he talk to other people who were told they are bipolar? Gabe: Exactly. Michelle: He can talk to other people and find out if they’re on meds. Then he can feel like oh if they’re bipolar and they’re on meds and they’re doing this maybe I’m not alone. You know maybe he feels alone with his disorder? But then will he go to group therapy is a whole different question, you know? Gabe: I have no idea if he would or not. But the point that is being raised in the e-mail and that’s all we have we just have this e-mail. You know maybe they’re lying. I don’t know. But I’m going to take them at their word. What they’re saying is that he goes in and says to his doctor I have bipolar disorder what can I do to get well? And the doctor says your best option is A. And he’s saying look I want to be a health care consumer. And I don’t agree with A. I don’t want to do A. And his doctor is saying then forget it I’m not going to give you anything else. I’ll say that A is the best option. I agree that A is the best option. But he’s telling us, his patient is telling us, that he’s uncomfortable with A. Do you have a B? There is a B. Go to therapy. Go to group therapy. Use peer support. Talk to other people with mental illness. Discuss with a therapist why you’re so afraid of medication. Get more research on what exactly you think medication is going to do that you want to head off. He might have like a really really good reason to not want to take medication. Maybe he is a concert pianist and he has heard that medication causes tremors? That’s a very very common thing. And he is afraid that if he starts taking medication he will not be able to play the piano anymore. Now he’s not being ridiculous. Now he’s safeguarding something that is a passion of his. That is his whole life. Michelle: Now I’m checking my hands. Gabe: I know. We both lifted up our hands. We’re like hey there’s a look. Look. Michelle: Do my hands tremor? Gabe: Yeah, look. Michelle: Your hands are trembling, am I? Gabe: Yeah. You’ve got a little tremor there. Yeah. Look. Look at the pen. Michelle: Oh, snap! I’ve got hand tremors. Gabe: Yeah. But see, it doesn’t bother you because you don’t need fine motor skills for your job. Michelle: I could never be a surgeon. Gabe: You could never be a surgeon. You could never. Michelle: There’s way more reasons why I could never be a surgeon. Gabe: I could see you being a surgeon. You’d be like I’m here to operate, bitch. Michelle: I’m here to operate. I’ll be a plastic surgeon. You want some big titties? I’ll give you some big titties. Oh yes. Gabe: I also in this e-mail she says that she’s been dating this gentleman for six and a half years now, which is a long time. That’s like a solid relationship. That’s like all of my marriages wrapped into one. And she says that she can’t tell when he has a manic episode. She can tell when he’s depressed. And you know I kind of recognize how you can tell when somebody is depressed. It is very difficult sometimes to notice mania until it’s too late. Because sometimes you’re positive that mania is happening the minute they leap off the roof into the pool before then you just think through the life of the party they’re fun and they’re happy. Michelle: One driving 105 miles per hour down the highway. Gabe: Yeah. And you don’t want to tell somebody that’s like enjoying life. I mean I have driven a hundred miles an hour. I have. I’ve done it. And that’s probably maybe not the safest thing. I mean the speed limit was 70. I went 100. That’s 30 miles and over but it wasn’t because of mania. But you know what if it was? So how can somebody tell when Gabe’s driving 100 miles an hour because hey he drives a fucking Lexus and he wants to turn up the stereo really loud and race down the road? Or is he driving really fast because he’s manic? Remember the other day when we listened to I would Do Anything for Love at literally all the way to the top volume and drove 100 hundred miles and you like sang and recorded it and put it on Facebook. Michelle: Yes. Gabe: Yeah. The police came our court date is in like two weeks. Michelle: Now shut up. No it’s not. Gabe: You don’t know. It really was a bad idea to film it. You’re a moron. Michelle: Filmed the speedometer. Gabe: Michelle, we really get a lot of e-mails from caregivers, family members, significant others ,and they ask the same questions over and over: what can I do? How can I help them? And I really wish we had the answer, because we’d be rich. Michelle: Scrooge McDuck rich. Gabe: Right? Michelle: Yeah. Gabe: That’s the kind of thing that you could sell for tons of money. So I want people to know there are no easy answers because so many people are looking for that magic bullet. There isn’t one. And I think about like an email like this where she’s like You know I’ve been with this man for six and a half years and I love him and I want to help him but it sounds like for six and a half years he’s been symptomatic and just caused her problems. So it’s rough because there’s this little part of me that wants to say to people man why do you tolerate this shit? Maybe this isn’t the best relationship for you? Maybe you need to save yourself? I struggle with this in my own marriage. I’m not saying this to just her. I also think about this for my friends or my wife. Why does she want to put up with this? And I don’t know the answer, but I do know that if I want people to love me, I have to pull my own weight. And no matter how hard you try, you can’t make your loved one be better. They have to work on it on their own. They have to want it. The most that you can ever do is help them. But a lot of these emails they’re asking how to do it for them. And that can’t be done. Michelle: A relationship is a partnership. And you can’t just help your partner if they won’t accept help themselves. You have to work together and you have to want to get better. To have a successful relationship that works well you’ve got to do what’s best for yourself. Gabe: Truer words never spoken, my friend. Michelle: I’m a true word genius. We’ve been conversating for awhile now. Thank you for writing in Megan. We hope that everything turns out OK. We hope we gave you some great advice. We hope we helped you and I hope that everything goes well in the future. Gabe: And we believe that it can, because if for nothing else, we’re incredibly optimistic. Michelle: You bet. Gabe: Don’t people always say that about us, Michelle? That Gabe and Michelle, they’re so optimistic. Michelle: I don’t know why people say that. Gabe: I don’t know because everything sucks we’re all going to die. It is true. I mean everything does suck and we all are going to die someday. Maybe the optimism is that we don’t think we’re going to die today? Michelle: Oh yeah, not today. Gabe: Not today. Michelle: Not tomorrow. Gabe: Not tomorrow, either. Michelle: One day. Gabe: We’re fine for the weekend. Michelle: We’re fine for this. Yeah. Yeah. We’re good. We’re good. Gabe: We’re good for at least the end of the month. Michelle: Yeah totally totally we got this. We got this. No accidents, no heart disease. You know the number one killer. None of that. Gabe: Well that was depressing. Michelle: Sorry. Gabe: I probably do have heart disease. Oh now you gotta bring that up. Michelle: Oh no. Heart disease and mental illness. The next episode. Gabe: Please subscribe to our show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you downloaded this podcast. Please share on social media. Tell all of your friends about it. We don’t have a huge advertising budget, but what we do have is your loyal support. Thank you so much. We’ll see everybody next week on A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Announcer: You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episode, don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe, rate, and review. To work with Gabe go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle, go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups, head over to PsychCentral.com. This show’s official web site is PsychCentral.com/BSP. You can e-mail us at show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening, and share widely. Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com. MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC. View the full article
  4. Phobiasupportforum

    Differences in Depression Between Men and Women

    Depression is one of the most difficult conditions to contend with and manage. This is due in part to the fact that it can go undiagnosed for years. Many people suffer with depression not realizing that the problems they are having and the way they are feeling can be addressed and improved with help, time, and effort. And while anyone can suffer with depression, there are some significant differences in the way that it affects men versus women. Although there are several symptoms of depression that are common to both men and women, the way that a man experiences and expresses depression can be very different than the way a woman does. And women are twice as likely to experience depression during their lifetime than men. So understanding how to recognize the symptoms of depression and the differences in how they are expressed in men vs. women are vital when helping yourself or someone you love. Common Signs of Depression It’s important to note that depression is more than just sadness. A person who has lost a friend, or is going through a tough time at work may feel down and seem “depressed.” Most, however, will experience these things and the associated emotions for a time and then move on. Some people though can find themselves feeling more than just sad and unable to regain a normal, positive outlook on things. This can be clinical depression, which is much more than the temporary feeling that comes with a loss or the ups and downs of life, and it can be far more serious. As mentioned, there are several symptoms of depression that are common to both men and women. Some of those signs include: Feelings of hopelessness and despair. Lack of interest in friends or activities that were once enjoyed. Inability to concentrate. Changes in eating and sleeping habits. Inability to maintain the normal functions of daily life like working, household duties, or paying bills. While these are not all of the ways that depression can manifest, they are fairly common and can be seen in both men and women alike. Depression in Women When it comes to a woman there are some additional symptoms of depression to watch for. Women tend to be more likely to actually express the emotions they are feeling in ways like crying for no clear reason or becoming highly insecure and losing self-confidence. There is also a higher prevalence of eating disorders in depressed women. And unlike men, whose eating habits can also change, a woman is more likely to overeat — emotional eating — rather than to stop eating. Women may engage more heavily in negative self-talk and feel that they are to blame for their own problems or for the problems of those around them. The danger with all of these behaviors is that they can be self-perpetuating and make depression worse. You tell yourself you’re the problem and you become the problem, you overeat and feel badly about yourself and the negative self-talk gets worse. Before long there is no clear path out and the feelings of despair become overwhelming. Depression in Men Men are far less likely to express the emotions that are typically associated with sadness. Instead, they may go to extremes with dangerous or risky behavior. A man is far more likely to develop anger issues or no longer be able to manage a normal anger response. It’s not uncommon to find that a man who is emotionally, even physically abusive, could be suffering from depression. This, of course, doesn’t excuse abusive behavior, but the behavior will be hard to change without dealing with the underlying issues. It’s also not uncommon for depressed men to turn to alcohol or other substances as a means for dulling the emotional pain they are experiencing. Self-medicating only temporarily alleviates the depressive problems being experienced and overall makes things exponentially worse. These are a mask for the real problems and taken to extremes can cause problems of their own. The reasons people experience depression can also vary a great deal. And just as there are different ways that men and women express depression, there can also be very different triggers for each gender. The largest and most common trigger for either sex, however, is a major change in life like the end to a relationship, a change in health, the loss of a loved one or birth of a child. If you or anyone you are close to has experienced a traumatic life event (or in the case of a new baby, not so traumatic) and are showing any of the signs listed above, it’s time to get help. Depression can go undiagnosed and untreated for a long-time and the longer it goes the more detrimental the consequences. There are many avenues for support and healing if you are suffering from depression, so seek one out. View the full article
  5. Admin

    The Dangers of Cyberchondria

    We’ve all done it, or at least most of us have. I know I’m certainly guilty of it. I’m talking about turning to the internet for answers to our health concerns. Just type in our (or our loved ones) symptoms and away we go. That rash we have? Turns out it could be anything from contact dermatitis to cancer. Which is it? Not sure? Well, search some more. There is always another website to check. And as many of us know, these searches can be never-ending. Excessively scouring the internet for answers to our health concerns is known as cyberchondria. One in three people, among the millions who seek health information in this manner, report feeling more anxious after searching for answers than before. Yet they keep searching even as their worry escalates. Cyberchondria has the potential to disrupt many aspects of a person’s life and studies have even linked it to depression. Those with cyberchondria tend to either avoid going to their doctor, or go too much — both out of fear. What drives people to engage in a behavior that often makes them feel worse than before? Thomas Fergus, a psychology professor at Baylor University, links cyberchondria to a dysfunctional web of metacognitive beliefs, which are really just thoughts about thinking. We all have these types of belief systems. For example, it is considered normal to believe that deliberating over a challenging problem will lead to a satisfying solution. In cyberchondria, however, metacognitive beliefs morph into a mental trap — people search online health content incessantly. Dr. Fergus and Marcantonio Spada, an academic psychologist at London South Bank University, have shown that these metacognitive beliefs in cyberchondria overlap somewhat with those of anxiety disorders. People with health anxiety, for example, hold maladjusted views about the role worry plays in maintaining their emotional and physical well-being. It is these same sorts of dysfunctional belief systems, Fergus says, “that send people with cyberchondria back for long sessions at the computer.” In 2018, Fergus and Spada published research that, not surprisingly, links cyberchondria with features of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). People with OCD perform compulsions to ease their anxiety, and those with cyberchondria engage in ritualistic searches for health information to dispel their anxiety. In both cases, people will only stop when they feel certain that all is well. As many of us know, online health content is too vast to allow us to be certain about anything. In fact, certainty is not actually attainable when it comes to most aspects of our lives. So how can we escape the vicious cycle of cyberchondria? Appropriate therapies for anxiety disorders such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness, and even antidepressants might be helpful. In addition, metacognitive approaches that encourage people to question the value of going online to relieve their anxiety can be beneficial. There is another solution to spending countless hours on the internet trying to figure out your latest ailment. Go see your doctor for a proper diagnosis — once. Then you can use the other therapies mentioned to learn how to not only stop searching for answers, but to also learn to accept the feelings of uncertainty that are inevitably connected to our health. View the full article
  6. According to a 2013 study published in JAMA Psychiatry, one out of seven mothers suffers from postpartum depression (PPD). That’s 14 percent of all new moms. Katherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress, makes a good point that more women will suffer from postpartum depression and related illnesses this year than the combined number of new cases for men and women of tuberculosis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy. Even though, according to Dr. Ruta Nonacs of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, PPD is the most common complication associated with pregnancy and childbirth, few women are screened. It certainly took me by surprise after the birth of my daughter, which is why I like to bring awareness to it whenever possible. Here are some typical symptoms of PPD to watch out for in yourself, a daughter, or a friend, followed by a few strategies for recovery. Symptoms of Postpartum Depression Symptom 1: A Deepening Blue In her book A Deeper Shade of Blue, Dr. Nonacs explains that the symptoms of depression are usually mild at first — your typical blues — but they worsen over time. The significant shifts in hormones that occur in the days and weeks after delivery are bound to trigger some moodiness, she explains. These blues are to be expected and are generally benign. “Depression is different,” she writes. “With depression, the negative emotions you experience are more intense, more pervasive, and more persistent.” Although she says that some women have a sudden onset of depressive symptoms right after delivery, typically PPD develops gradually over the first two to three months after the baby is born. Symptom 2: Disconnection and Apathy Not only is a depressed mom incapable of bonding with her newborn, she struggles with all kinds of emotional attachment. This is evident in her speech and in her interactions with friends, family, and co-workers. She is disconnected from all persons and activities that once gave her joy and experiences a kind of apathy that keeps her isolated from her world. Symptom 3: Guilt The depressed mom feels immense guilt for not enjoying early motherhood and for not being able to bond with her baby. She feels as though she is a failure at this role and isn’t equipped to raise a child. She wants to experience the mommy bliss that other mothers do, and beats herself up for her negative attitudes toward motherhood. Symptom 4: Inability to Concentrate A mom experiencing PPD can’t focus, make a decision, or articulate thoughts. She operates in a fog, as she feels completely overwhelmed. Simple tasks like feeding her baby create stress as her cognitive capacity is diminished. Symptom 5: Insomnia A woman with PPD has trouble sleeping, even when her baby is sleeping. The irregular sleeping pattern of her baby matched with her own depression and anxiety prevent her from nodding off, which, in turn, contributes to her insomnia and diminished mental state. Symptom 6: Irritability A depressed mom is often irritable and angry, lashing out at husbands, family members, and friends for no reason at all. She may be annoyed by everything and is incapable of patience. Some depressed moms feel resentment toward their babies. Recovering from Postpartum Depression Postpartum depression is very treatable, which means you or your wife or your daughter will be back to herself in no time. Each person recovers at her own rate, so try not to compare with other women. Here are a few strategies that helped me as a new mom. Recovery Strategy 1: Get Real I remember walking over the bridge of Spa Creek, a few blocks from my home, when I was nine months pregnant one hot June afternoon. A woman looked at my protruded stomach and said to me, “You have the easier job now, when the baby is inside.” I cursed that woman for weeks until I had my overdue baby, and realized she was right. Few people warn us that our lives are going to be turned upside down by the seven pounds we bring home from the hospital. Everything (EVERYTHING) has to shift to make space for this new being. As new mothers, I think we help our mental health by getting real and saying, “Wow, part of this motherhood gig is really hard… I miss my old life.” We’ve entered a completely new world and are transitioning through a significant culture shock. Sometimes it’s good to acknowledge our difficulty adjusting to all of it. Recovery Strategy 2: Start Talking Journalist Tracy Thompson begins her insightful book The Ghost in the House with two brilliant lines: “Motherhood and depression are two countries with a long common border. The terrain is chilly and inhospitable, and when mothers speak of it at all, it is usually in guarded terms, or in euphemisms.” That’s why we need to start talking… often, and for long periods of time, maybe through tears. One of the most therapeutic things I did during the baby years was form a playgroup at my house with other new moms. I said it was to socialize my kid, but the real motive behind the group was to vent to other mothers about how I had memorized all the lines to Finding Nemo because it was the only thing that would calm my son down at two in the morning when he couldn’t sleep. Recovery Strategy 3: Beg for Help “One of the most challenging aspects of caring for young children is the social isolation,” Dr. Nonacs writes. “In traditional cultures, a woman’s family gathers around the mother after the birth of a child. They help her learn how to care for her child … Nowadays most women with young children spend most of their time at home, alone.” I wasn’t very good at asking for help, and I paid for it. I ended up in an inpatient psychiatric unit. If I had to do it all over again, I would plead with relatives to help out. I would barter with them, negotiate, promise to name the next kid after them if they babysat for a night. I would have cashed out some of our savings to get relief. In retrospect, it would have cost far less than the hospital fees. Recovery Strategy 4: Sleep Brain experts have always made the connection between and insomnia and depression, but new research suggests that chronic sleep disturbances may precede and maintain depression. “When you are sleep deprived,” writes Dr. Nonacs, “everything is more difficult. It is harder to concentrate, and performing certain tasks or making even the simplest of decisions may seem totally overwhelming. You may also feel more anxious, more irritable, or overly emotional.” Recovery Strategy 5: Keep Some of Your Self It’s easy for women to lose their identities in their new role as mothers — letting parental responsibilities absorb every aspect of their being. But motherhood doesn’t have to erase your prior existence, including hobbies, friendships, and work projects you once enjoyed. In fact, hanging on to a bit of your old self can make you a better mom, less resentful of the Winnie the Pooh keychain that won’t turn off. Squeezing space in your schedule for some activity not related to your baby can help build emotional resilience. Recovery Strategy 6: Watch Your Shoulds New moms are great at “shoulding” themselves. “I should be a more attentive mom.” “I should have Johnny on a nap schedule.” “I should love watching the Disney channel for three hours a day.” Erika Krull, a mental-health counselor, writes in her Psych Central blog: “It’s the combination of ‘must, can’t, won’t, should, could’ kinds of thoughts with the high level of emotion that can send moms down into the pit of depression or anxiety. Black and white thinking is a setup for disappointment, despair, lack of satisfaction and meaning, and low self worth.” View the full article
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  8. Anxiety that causes serious discomfort shouldn’t have to go on forever. Yet long-term talk therapy and treatment with medications don’t always free a person who’s suffering. Millions of Americans are dealing with some form of anxiety disorder: according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), each year, 40 million American adults grapple with an anxiety disorder in some form. One approach that can help you break free of anxiety and phobias is a simple series of steps. Unlike open-ended talk therapy, it’s not expensive or time-consuming, and unlike pharmacological approaches, it has no side effects. It’s called LPA — Learning, Philosophizing, and Action. This direct approach enables you to identify the problem, and think about the problem and its affects on your life, relationships, work, and home. After you learn more about your anxiety or phobia, and consider how it’s limited you, you can start taking clear steps to defuse its power over you. Once you learn LPA, the only tools you need are a good chair, a pen and a notebook. Try to practice what you’ve learned three or more times a week. It doesn’t have to take long — five minutes is plenty. If you begin to feel uncomfortable, or overwhelmed by fear, stop the exercise, get up, and resolve to try again the next day. Here’s how each step works: 1. Relax To follow the LPA steps you need to first quiet the mind. There are many simple and effective relaxation techniques for this. For instance: Find a quiet spot and a comfortable, supportive chair. Next, take a few easy, deep breaths. Feel yourself begin to float on each breath. When you reach a peaceful state of relaxation, you’re ready to start the next step. 2. Learn In the learning phase, you focus on the nature and details of the problem by asking yourself questions. Write down all the details of what you remember and realize, including how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you’re facing an anxiety, ask yourself: What am I feeling? What is making me anxious? How do I feel when I am anxious — for instance, a stomachache, a headache, sweating? If you are addressing a phobia, ask yourself: What am I afraid of? What does this fear prevent me from doing — for instance, leaving the house, taking the subway, or driving across a bridge? How do I feel in the grip of this phobia? Now ask yourself about the first time you began to this way: What is my first memory of feeling this way? What else was going on at the time? What did I learn? 3. Philosophize Once you have learned about the nature of your anxiety or phobia, you have enough information to look at the bigger picture. During this phase, you step back and challenge the thinking to led to this problem in the first place. Your look for the origins of your anxiety or phobia, and think about how it has affected your life, your relationships, your work and even your financial situation over time. Ask yourself: Did someone else convince me to feel this way? Is it possible I picked up this anxiety or phobia from a parent? What’s the big picture? How did I take this belief and expand on it myself? Without meaning to, parents may pass on their anxieties and phobias to their children. But this faulty learning can be fixed. You can use a simple math problem to illustrate: A child walks into kindergarten, having been convinced at home that 2 + 2 = 3. It’s only going to take one quick lesson to show that is wrong. This may be a simplified version, but it shows what happens with learned or even inherited anxieties and phobias. The learning passed on to you was flawed, but you believed it. Dogs, cars, deep water, dentists — Think about how you picked up on other people’s anxieties. Were you encouraged to feel anxiety or fear in certain situations? You may have grown up thinking that feeling anxious was perfectly normal. But now you can change that thinking. Consider the impact this anxiety or phobia has had on your life. If you could undo its power, wouldn’t you? 4. Act Taking action means unlearning those behaviors. One effective tool for this step is the Probable or Possible exercise. It helps defuse the power of the anxiety or phobia by looking at whether or not something is likely to actually happen. For instance, if you’re phobic about dogs, you may be afraid of being bitten in circumstances when it would be very hard for that to happen. For example: you are on one side of the street, and a dog and its owner are walking on the other side of the street. Yet you’re afraid the dog will bolt, escape its leash, and come and bite you. That’s often the way fear works: it takes a possibility and intensifies it until it seems like a near-certainty. Irrational or not, you believe it. Asking if it’s possible or problem is a way to take that fear and reduce it down to size. So ask: It many be possible that the dog runs across the street to bite me. But is it probable? Think about it: what is the likelihood of that really happening? Investigate all the factors that would have to be in place for the fear to come true. You could even research the statistics, or learn all about dog behavior. Information is often a missing piece of the anxiety and phobia puzzle. Once you know the different between the possible risk and the probable risk, remind yourself: This is possible, but it is not really probable. Keep reminding yourself that, and see how you feel the next time you encounter a dog. The LPA brings new perspectives to old faulty beliefs and problems, helping you see your way out of old patterns. It also works in small steps, each just one part of the process. Do these as much as you want. Remember that you are the one in control. But the more you practice, the more effective it will be. That’s because when you do something successfully a number of times, the success-producing behaviors replace your old thought and behavior patterns with positive, productive ones. Brick by brick, you can take the actions to face your fears, free yourself from them, change your life. And once you learn LPA and incorporate it into your routine, you can use it to tackle other obstacles. LPA has been proven to be highly effective in dealing with many forms of PTSD and conquering insomnia as well. Reference: Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Understand the Facts Depression. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression View the full article
  9. Despite its name, atypical depression is one of the most common types of depression, affecting between 25 to 40 percent of depressed people. Because the symptoms differ from those of typical depression, this subtype of depression is often misdiagnosed. Atypical depression was named in the 1950s to classify a group of patients who did not respond to electroconvulsive therapy or to the tricyclic antidepressant Tofranil (imipramine). They did, however, respond to monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) antidepressants. Some of the same treatments that work for classic depression work for atypical depression, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and cognitive-behavioral therapy; however, full recovery is more achievable when this type of depression is identified and addressed. Here are a few facts about atypical depression you should know. Fact One: Atypical Depression Usually Involves Mood Reactivity or Extreme Sensitivity One of the distinguishing features of atypical depression is “mood reactivity.” A person’s mood lifts in response to actual or potential events. For example, she may be able to enjoy certain activities and is able to be cheered up when something positive happens — like when a friend calls or visits — while a person with classic major depression shows no improvement in mood. On the flip side, a person with atypical depression also responds to all things negative, especially interpersonal matters, such as being brushed off by a friend or something perceived as a rejection. In fact, a personal rejection or criticism at work could be enough to disable a person with atypical depression. There is a long-standing pattern of rejection sensitivity with this kind of depression that can interfere with work and social functioning. Fact Two: People with Atypical Depression Tend to Overeat and Oversleep Instead of experiencing interrupted sleep and loss of appetite as people often do with typical major depressive disorder, people with atypical depression tend to overeat and oversleep, sometimes referred to as reversed vegetative features. It’s not uncommon for someone with atypical depression to gain weight because they can’t stop eating, especially comfort foods, like pizza and pasta. They could sleep all day, unlike the person with typical depression experiencing insomnia. Oversleeping and overeating are the two most important symptoms for diagnosing atypical depression according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry that compared 304 patients with atypical depression with 836 patients with major depression. Fact Three: People with Atypical Depression Can Experience Heavy, Leaden Feelings Fatigue is a symptom of all depression, but persons with atypical depression often experience “leaden paralysis,” a heavy, leaden feeling in the arms or legs. According to Mark Moran of Psychiatric News, a depressed patient gave a graphic portrayal of his symptoms to researchers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons 25 years ago: “You know those people who run around the park with lead weights? I feel like that all the time. I feel so heavy and leaden [that] I can’t get out of a chair.” The researchers labeled the symptom “leaden paralysis” and incorporated it into the criteria of diagnosis of atypical depression. Fact Four: Symptoms Usually Begin at an Earlier Age, Are Chronic, and Affect More Women Atypical depression tends to begin at an earlier age (younger than age 20), and is chronic in nature. Michael Thase, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, discussed atypical depression in a Johns Hopkins Depression & Anxiety Bulletin, where he said, “The younger you are in adult life when you start to have trouble with depression, the more likely you are to have reverse vegetative features. In other words, the likelihood that you’ll overeat and oversleep when depressed is dependent on the age at which you become ill.” This was the subject of a 2000 study published in Journal of Affective Disorders. The illness of the patients with early-onset of atypical depression looked entirely different from those diagnosed with a classic melancholic depression. Atypical depression also seems to affect more women than men, especially women before menopause. “Ultimately, I see atypical depression as a subtype of depression that reflects the convergence of an early age of onset, female gender, and a chronic but less severe form of major depression throughout pre-menopause,” writes Dr. Thase. Fact Five: Atypical Depression Often Coincides with Bipolar Disorder and Seasonal-Affective Disorder Atypical depression is more likely to occur in people with bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder. A study published in the European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience evaluated 140 unipolar and bipolar outpatients who had symptoms of an atypical major depressive episode. The prevalence of bipolar II disorder was 64.2 percent. In another study published in Comprehensive Psychiatry, 72 percent of 86 major depressive patients with atypical features were found to meet the criteria for bipolar II disorder. There have also been studies reviewing the overlap between atypical depression and seasonal affective disorder, highlighting common biological links underpinning common symptoms. View the full article
  10. When I was a young girl, I struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I believed that if I landed on a crack in the sidewalk, something terrible would happen to me, so I did my best to skip over them. I feared that if I had bad thoughts of any kind, I would go to hell. To purify myself, I would go to confession and Mass over and over again, and spend hours praying the rosary. I felt if I didn’t compliment someone, like the waitress where we were eating dinner, I would bring on the end of the world. What Is OCD? The National Institute of Mental Health defines OCD as a “common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” OCD involves a painful, vicious cycle whereby you are tormented by thoughts and urges to do things, and yet when you do the very things that are supposed to bring you relief, you feel even worse and enslaved to your disorder. The results of one study indicated that more than one quarter of the adults interviewed experienced obsession or compulsions at some point in their lives — that’s over 60 million people — even though only 2.3 percent of people met the criteria for a diagnosis of OCD at some point in their lives. The World Health Organization has ranked OCD as one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability worldwide for individuals between 15 and 44 years of age. Whenever I am under considerable stress, or when I hit a depressive episode, my obsessive-compulsive behavior returns. This is very common. OCD breeds on stress and depression. A resource that has been helpful to me is the book Brain Lock by Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. He offers a four-step self-treatment for OCD that can free you from painful symptoms and even change your brain chemistry. Distinguishing Form from Content of OCD Before I go over the four steps, I wanted to go over two concepts he explains in the book that I found very helpful to understanding obsessive-compulsive behavior. The first is knowing the difference between the form of obsessive-compulsive disorder and its content. The form consists of the thoughts and urges not making sense but constantly intruding into a person’s mind — the thought that won’t go away because the brain is not working properly. This is the nature of the beast. The content is the subject matter or genre of the thought. It’s why one person feels something is dirty, while another can’t stop worrying about the door being locked. The OCD Brain The second concept that is fascinating and beneficial to a person in the throes of OCD’s torture is to see a picture of the OCD brain. In order to help patients understand that OCD is, in fact, a medical condition resulting from a brain malfunction, Schwartz and his colleagues at UCLA used PET scanning to take pictures of brains besieged by obsessions and compulsive urges. The scans showed that in people with OCD, there was increased energy in the orbital cortex, the underside of the front of the brain. This part of the brain is working overtime. According to Schwartz, by mastering the Four Steps of cognitive-biobehavioral self-treatment, it is possible to change the OCD brain chemistry so that the brain abnormalities no longer cause the intrusive thoughts and urges. Step One: Relabel Step one involves calling the intrusive thought or urge exactly what it is: an obsessive thought or a compulsive urge. In this step, you learn how to identify what’s OCD and what’s reality. You might repeat to yourself over and over again, “It’s not me — it’s OCD,” working constantly to separate the deceptive voice of OCD from your true voice. You constantly inform yourself that your brain is sending false messages that can’t be trusted. Mindfulness can help here. By becoming an observer of our thoughts, rather than the author of them, we can take a step back in loving awareness and simply say, “Here comes an obsession. It’s okay … It will pass,” instead of getting wrapped up in it and investing our emotions into the content. We can ride the intensity much like a wave in the ocean, knowing that the discomfort won’t last if we can stick in there and not act on the urge. Step Two: Reattribute After you finish the first step, you might be left asking, “Why don’t these bothersome thoughts and urges go away?” The second step helps answer that question. Schwartz writes: The answer is that they persist because they are symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition that has been scientifically demonstrated to be related to a biochemical imbalance in the brain that causes your brain to misfire. There is now strong scientific evidence that in OCD a part of your brain that works much like a gearshift in a car is not working properly. Therefore, your brain gets stuck in gear. As a result, it’s hard for you to shift behaviors. Your goal in the Reattribute step is to realize that the sticky thoughts and urges are due to your balky brain. In the second step, we blame the brain, or in 12-step language, admit we are powerless and that our brain is sending false messages. We must repeat, “It’s not me — it’s just my brain.” Schwartz compares OCD to Parkinson’s disease — both interestingly are caused by disturbances in a brain structure called the striatum — in that it doesn’t help to lambast ourselves for our tremors (in Parkinson’s) or upsetting thoughts and urges (in OCD). By reattributing the pain to the medical condition, to the faulty brain wiring, we empower ourselves to respond with self-compassion. Step Three: Refocus In step three, we shift into action, our saving grace. “The key to the Refocus step is to do another behavior,” explains Schwartz. “When you do, you are repairing the broken gearshift in your brain.” The more we “work around” the nagging thoughts by refocusing our attention on some useful, constructive, enjoyable activity, the more our brain starts shifting to other behaviors and away from the obsessions and compulsions. Step three requires a lot of practice, but the more we do it, the easier it becomes. Says Schwartz: “A key principle in self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD is this: It’s not how you feel, it’s what you do that counts.” The secret of this step, and the hard part, is going on to another behavior even though the OCD thought or feeling is still there. At first, it’s extremely wearisome because you are expending a significant amount of energy processing the obsession or compulsion while trying to concentrate on something else. However, I completely agree with Schwartz when he says, “When you do the right things, feelings tend to improve as a matter of course. But spend too much time being overly concerned about uncomfortable feelings, and you may never get around to doing what it takes to improve.” This step is really at the core of self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy because, according to Schwartz, we are fixing the broken filtering system in the brain and getting the automatic transmission in the caudate nucleus to start working again. Step Four: Revalue The fourth step can be understood as an accentuation of the first two steps, Relabeling and Reattributing. You are just doing them with more insight and wisdom now. With consistent practice of the first three steps, you can better acknowledge that the obsessions and urges are distractions to be ignored. “With this insight, you will be able to Revalue and devalue the pathological urges and fend them off until they begin to fade,” writes Schwartz. Two ways of “actively revaluing,” he mentions are anticipating and accepting. It’s helpful to anticipate that obsessive thoughts will occur hundreds of times a day and not to be surprised by them. By anticipating them, we recognize them more quickly and can Relabel and Reattribute when they arise. Accepting that OCD is a treatable medical condition — a chronic one that makes surprise visits — allows us to respond with self-compassion when we are hit with upsetting thoughts and urges. View the full article
  11. When I was a young girl, I struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I believed that if I landed on a crack in the sidewalk, something terrible would happen to me, so I did my best to skip over them. I feared that if I had bad thoughts of any kind, I would go to hell. To purify myself, I would go to confession and Mass over and over again, and spend hours praying the rosary. I felt if I didn’t compliment someone, like the waitress where we were eating dinner, I would bring on the end of the world. What Is OCD? The National Institute of Mental Health defines OCD as a “common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” OCD involves a painful, vicious cycle whereby you are tormented by thoughts and urges to do things, and yet when you do the very things that are supposed to bring you relief, you feel even worse and enslaved to your disorder. The results of one study indicated that more than one quarter of the adults interviewed experienced obsession or compulsions at some point in their lives — that’s over 60 million people — even though only 2.3 percent of people met the criteria for a diagnosis of OCD at some point in their lives. The World Health Organization has ranked OCD as one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability worldwide for individuals between 15 and 44 years of age. Whenever I am under considerable stress, or when I hit a depressive episode, my obsessive-compulsive behavior returns. This is very common. OCD breeds on stress and depression. A resource that has been helpful to me is the book Brain Lock by Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. He offers a four-step self-treatment for OCD that can free you from painful symptoms and even change your brain chemistry. Distinguishing Form from Content of OCD Before I go over the four steps, I wanted to go over two concepts he explains in the book that I found very helpful to understanding obsessive-compulsive behavior. The first is knowing the difference between the form of obsessive-compulsive disorder and its content. The form consists of the thoughts and urges not making sense but constantly intruding into a person’s mind — the thought that won’t go away because the brain is not working properly. This is the nature of the beast. The content is the subject matter or genre of the thought. It’s why one person feels something is dirty, while another can’t stop worrying about the door being locked. The OCD Brain The second concept that is fascinating and beneficial to a person in the throes of OCD’s torture is to see a picture of the OCD brain. In order to help patients understand that OCD is, in fact, a medical condition resulting from a brain malfunction, Schwartz and his colleagues at UCLA used PET scanning to take pictures of brains besieged by obsessions and compulsive urges. The scans showed that in people with OCD, there was increased energy in the orbital cortex, the underside of the front of the brain. This part of the brain is working overtime. According to Schwartz, by mastering the Four Steps of cognitive-biobehavioral self-treatment, it is possible to change the OCD brain chemistry so that the brain abnormalities no longer cause the intrusive thoughts and urges. Step One: Relabel Step one involves calling the intrusive thought or urge exactly what it is: an obsessive thought or a compulsive urge. In this step, you learn how to identify what’s OCD and what’s reality. You might repeat to yourself over and over again, “It’s not me — it’s OCD,” working constantly to separate the deceptive voice of OCD from your true voice. You constantly inform yourself that your brain is sending false messages that can’t be trusted. Mindfulness can help here. By becoming an observer of our thoughts, rather than the author of them, we can take a step back in loving awareness and simply say, “Here comes an obsession. It’s okay … It will pass,” instead of getting wrapped up in it and investing our emotions into the content. We can ride the intensity much like a wave in the ocean, knowing that the discomfort won’t last if we can stick in there and not act on the urge. Step Two: Reattribute After you finish the first step, you might be left asking, “Why don’t these bothersome thoughts and urges go away?” The second step helps answer that question. Schwartz writes: The answer is that they persist because they are symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition that has been scientifically demonstrated to be related to a biochemical imbalance in the brain that causes your brain to misfire. There is now strong scientific evidence that in OCD a part of your brain that works much like a gearshift in a car is not working properly. Therefore, your brain gets stuck in gear. As a result, it’s hard for you to shift behaviors. Your goal in the Reattribute step is to realize that the sticky thoughts and urges are due to your balky brain. In the second step, we blame the brain, or in 12-step language, admit we are powerless and that our brain is sending false messages. We must repeat, “It’s not me — it’s just my brain.” Schwartz compares OCD to Parkinson’s disease — both interestingly are caused by disturbances in a brain structure called the striatum — in that it doesn’t help to lambast ourselves for our tremors (in Parkinson’s) or upsetting thoughts and urges (in OCD). By reattributing the pain to the medical condition, to the faulty brain wiring, we empower ourselves to respond with self-compassion. Step Three: Refocus In step three, we shift into action, our saving grace. “The key to the Refocus step is to do another behavior,” explains Schwartz. “When you do, you are repairing the broken gearshift in your brain.” The more we “work around” the nagging thoughts by refocusing our attention on some useful, constructive, enjoyable activity, the more our brain starts shifting to other behaviors and away from the obsessions and compulsions. Step three requires a lot of practice, but the more we do it, the easier it becomes. Says Schwartz: “A key principle in self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD is this: It’s not how you feel, it’s what you do that counts.” The secret of this step, and the hard part, is going on to another behavior even though the OCD thought or feeling is still there. At first, it’s extremely wearisome because you are expending a significant amount of energy processing the obsession or compulsion while trying to concentrate on something else. However, I completely agree with Schwartz when he says, “When you do the right things, feelings tend to improve as a matter of course. But spend too much time being overly concerned about uncomfortable feelings, and you may never get around to doing what it takes to improve.” This step is really at the core of self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy because, according to Schwartz, we are fixing the broken filtering system in the brain and getting the automatic transmission in the caudate nucleus to start working again. Step Four: Revalue The fourth step can be understood as an accentuation of the first two steps, Relabeling and Reattributing. You are just doing them with more insight and wisdom now. With consistent practice of the first three steps, you can better acknowledge that the obsessions and urges are distractions to be ignored. “With this insight, you will be able to Revalue and devalue the pathological urges and fend them off until they begin to fade,” writes Schwartz. Two ways of “actively revaluing,” he mentions are anticipating and accepting. It’s helpful to anticipate that obsessive thoughts will occur hundreds of times a day and not to be surprised by them. By anticipating them, we recognize them more quickly and can Relabel and Reattribute when they arise. Accepting that OCD is a treatable medical condition — a chronic one that makes surprise visits — allows us to respond with self-compassion when we are hit with upsetting thoughts and urges. View the full article
  12. Recovering from depression and anxiety call for the same kind of shrewdness and amount of perspiration as does running a 4,000-person company. I say that having never done the latter. But hear out my logic: great leaders must master impeccable governing skills, develop the discipline of a triathlete, and build enough stamina to manage multiple personalities. And so does anyone wanting to get outside of her head and live a little. So I think it’s fitting to translate the insight of a book about business success, The Wisdom of Failure: How to Learn the Tough Leadership Lessons Without Paying the Price by Laurence Weinzimmer and Jim McConoughey, to victory over a mood disorder, or even mild but annoying anxiety and depression. Weinzimmer and McConoughey describe their “taxonomy of leadership mistakes,” or nine common ways an executive falls flat on his face and is made fun of by his peers. The business world is replete with calculated risks. It’s a chess game, and a few too many wrong moves will have you packing up your stuff from the corner office. As I read through them, I kept thinking about my main job — managing my depression as best I can — and the pitfalls that I so often run into. Many are the same listed in this book. Here are six mistakes business leaders make that are appropriate for our purposes: Mistake one: Trying to be all things to all people. The “just say no” problem that I have all the time. If you think of requests from friends, families, bosses, co-workers, and golden retrievers as customers asking you for all kinds of products that you can’t simultaneously produce, then you see the logic in your having to draw the line at some point. You must hang on to your resources to stay well. Mistake two: Roaming outside the box. Clarification: thinking outside the box is good. Hanging out there, strolling around in pursuit of some meaning that you keep finding in everything that passes by — that’s dangerous. When it comes to recovery, this is very important to remember. I like to try new things: yoga, new fish oil supplements, a new light lamp, different support groups. What gets me in trouble is when I start to think that I don’t have bipolar disorder and can go off all meds, healing myself through meditation alone. I tried that once and landed in the hospital twice. Now I double check to make sure the box is still in my peripheral vision. Mistake three: Efficiencies before effectiveness. This has to do with seeing the forest behind the trees, and subscribing to a policy of making decisions based on the view of the forest, not the trees that are blocking everything from your sight. The authors cite the example of Circuit City’s CEO who cut 3,400 sales people to decrease costs despite the fact that their research said that customers want knowledgeable sales people to help them make decisions when buying electronics. His approach was efficient, but not all that effective. When you are desperate to feel better, it’s so easy to reach for the Band-Aid — booze, cigarettes, toxic relationships — that might do an efficient job of killing the pain. Effective in the longterm? Not so much. Mistake four: Dysfunctional harmony. Like me! Like me! Please like me! Dysfunctional harmony involves abandoning your needs to please others, which jeopardizes your recovery efforts. “Being an effective leader [or person in charge of one’s health] means that sometimes you will not make the most popular decisions,” the authors explain. “By doing what is necessary, you will sometimes make some people angry. That’s okay. It’s part of the job. If you are in a leadership role and you try to be liked by everyone all of the time, you will inevitably create drama and undercut your own authority and effectiveness.” So think of yourself as the CEO of you and start making some authoritative decisions that are in the best interest of You, Inc. Mistake five: Hoarding I’m not talking about your sister’s stash of peanuts and Q-Tips. This is about hoarding responsibility. For those of us trying like hell to live a good and happy life, this means giving over the reins now and then to other people, persons, and things that can help us: doctors, husbands, sisters, even pets. It means relying on the people in your life who say they love you and letting them do the small things so that you can try your best to be the best boss of yourself again. Mistake six: Disengagement Burnout. It happens in all recovery. I have yet to meet someone who can continue a regiment of daily meditation, boot camp, and spinach and cucumber smoothies for more than three months without calling uncle and reaching for the pepperoni pizza. That’s why it is so critical to pace yourself in your recovery. What’s a realistic number of times to exercise during the week? Are you really going to do that at 4:30 am? Why not allow yourself one day of hotdogs and ice-cream in order to not throw out the whole healthy living initiative at once? Imagine yourself a great leader of your mind, body, and spirit — managing a staff of personalities inside yourself that need direction. Take it from these two corporate leaders, and don’t make the same mistakes. View the full article
  13. Phobiasupportforum

    Challenges for Moms Who Have OCD

    I have written before about the challenges children face, and the lessons they can learn, when one of their parents is dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder. In this post I’d like to focus more on moms who have OCD, and the difficulties they might deal with. I won’t be focusing on postpartum OCD, but rather on moms who have already been diagnosed with the disorder and have been living with it for a while. Some of the most common types of obsessions in OCD involve various aspects of contamination such as fear of dirt, germs, or illness. The person with OCD might fear the worst for themselves, their loved ones, or even strangers. If you’re a mother (and even if you’re not) you likely know that dirt, germs and illness are an inevitable part of childhood. How can a mom with OCD possibly take her four-year-old child into a public restroom? Surprisingly, most can and do. Over the years I have connected with moms who have OCD who do what they need to do, despite their fears. By caring for their children, they are actually engaging in the gold-standard psychological treatment for OCD — exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. And because ERP therapy works, these moms find that the more they bring their children into those restrooms, or allow them to play at the playground without trailing behind them with sanitizing wipes, or agree to let them spend time at a friend’s house, the less their OCD rears its ugly head. In short, they habituate, or get used to, being in these situations and accepting the uncertainty of what might happen. Another comment I hear often from moms with OCD is that because caring for a child (or perhaps multiple children, and even a family pet) is time-consuming and never-ending, they are so busy that they don’t have time to worry about all the things OCD thinks they should worry about. If your baby has a dirty diaper, the dog is barking to go out, your toddler just found the finger paints, and you need to get to the grocery store, you don’t have time to fret over your fear of contamination. You just change the diaper, tend to the dog, quickly wipe your toddler’s hands, and get out the door. OCD might be protesting in the background, but you have no time for its silly demands. Again, great ERP therapy! Of course, it doesn’t work this way for all moms, and for some OCD is in control. To these moms, I say, first and foremost, please get help from a mental health professional so you can learn to quell your OCD until it is nothing more than background noise as you care for your children. The truth is, if your obsessive-compulsive disorder remains untreated, it will affect your the well-being of your children. Their world will be limited, they will pick up on your anxiety, and they might even mimic your behaviors. For moms who are struggling with OCD, please resolve to put your children before your OCD. Learn how to spend quality time enjoying them, not ruminating over all the things that might go wrong in a given moment. The irony is that OCD wants you to believe that giving in to its demands is keeping your children safe, when in reality, your behaviors are likely hurting them. Modeling healthy behavior and how to deal with life’s challenges might be the best gift you ever give your children. Finally, being a mom with OCD can feel extremely isolating. But you are not alone. Join support groups (online and in-person), talk to an OCD therapist, and accept the love and support of family and friends (but no enabling!). You and your children deserve lives not compromised by OCD. View the full article
  14. Phobiasupportforum

    Why It’s Okay to Cry in Public

    I waited three months after I was discharged from the hospital for suicidal depression to make contact with the professional world again. I wanted to be sure I didn’t “crack,” like I had done in a group therapy session. A publishing conference seemed like an ideal, safe place to meet. A crowded room of book editors would certainly prevent any emotional outbursts on my part. So I reached out to colleague who had been feeding me assignments pre-nervous breakdown and invited her for a cup of coffee. “How are you?” she asked me. I stood there frozen, trying my best to mimic the natural smile I had practiced in front of the bathroom mirror that would accompany the words, “Fine! Thank you. How are you?” Instead I burst into tears. Not a cute little whimper. A loud and ugly bawling — pig snorts included — the kind of sobbing widows do behind closed doors when the funeral is done. “There’s the beginning and the end,” I thought. “Time to pay the parking bill.” But something peculiar happened in that excruciating exchange: we bonded. Embarrassment Leads to Trust Researchers at the University of California, Berkley conducted five studies that confirmed this very phenomena: embarrassment — and public crying certainly qualifies as such — has a positive role in the bonding of friends, colleagues, and mates. The findings, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggest that people who embarrass easily are more altruistic, prosocial, selfless, and cooperative. In their gestures of embarrassment, they earn greater trust because others classify the transparency of expression (buried head, blushing, crying) as trustworthiness. Robb Willer, Ph.D., an author of the study, writes, “Embarrassment is one emotional signature of a person to whom you can entrust valuable resources. It’s part of the social glue that fosters trust and cooperation in everyday life.” Now public crying is even better than splitting your swimsuit in half during swim practice or asking a woman when her baby is due only to learn it was born four months ago (also guilty). Tears serve many uses. According to Dr. William Frey II, a biochemist and Director of the Alzheimer’s Research Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, emotional tears (as opposed to tears of irritability) remove toxins as well as chemicals like the endorphin leucine-enkaphalin and prolactin that have built up in the body from stress. Crying also lowers a person’s manganese level, a mineral that affects mood. In a New York Times article, science writer Jane Brody quotes Dr. Frey: Crying is an exocrine process, that is, a process in which a substance comes out of the body. Other exocrine processes, like exhaling, urinating, defecating and sweating, release toxic substances from the body. There’s every reason to think crying does the same, releasing chemicals that the body produces in response to stress. Crying Builds a Community Anthropologist Ashley Montagu once said in a Science Digest article that crying builds a community. Having done my share of public crying this last year, I think he is right. If you spot a person crying in the back of the room at, say, a school fundraiser, your basic instinct (if you are a nice person) is to go comfort that person. A few might say she’s pathetic for displaying public emotions, much like the couple fighting in the hallway; however, most people are empathetic and want the crying to end because on some level it makes us uncomfortable — we want everyone to be happy, like the mom who pops a pacifier or a stick of butter into her 6-year-old’s mouth to shut him up. The high sensitive types begin to swarm around this woman, as she divulges her life story. Voila! You find yourself with a group of new best friends in an Oprah moment, each person offering intimate details about herself. A women’s retreat has started, and there is no need for a lake house. In a 2009 study published in Evolutionary Psychology, participants responded to images of faces with tears and faces with tears digitally removed, as well as tear-free control images. It was determined that tears signaled sadness and resolved ambiguity. According to Robert R. Provine, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, tears are a kind of social lubricant, helping people communicate. Says the abstract: “The evolution and development of emotional tearing in humans provide a novel, potent and neglected channel of affective communication.” In a February 2016 study published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, researchers replicated and extended previous work by showing that tearful crying facilitates helping behavior and identified why people are more willing to help criers. First, the display of tears increases perceived helplessness of a person, which leads to a higher willingness to help that person. Second, crying individuals are typically perceived to be more agreeable and less aggressive and elicit more sympathy and compassion. The third reason I find most interesting: seeing tears makes us feel more closely connected to the crying individual. According to the study, “This increase in felt connectedness with a crying individual could also promote prosocial behavior. In other words, the closer we feel to another individual, the most altruistically we behave towards that person.” The authors refer to ritual weeping, say, after adversity and disasters or when preparing for war. Those common tears build bonds between people. I don’t LIKE crying. And certainly not in front of people. It feels humiliating, like I’m not in control of my emotions. However, I no longer practice smiling in front of the mirror or the sentiments that are packaged with the grin. I have learned to embrace my PDT — public display of tears — and be my transparent self, even if the result is more pig snorts. View the full article
  15. Anxiety serves a life-saving role when we are in real danger. Adrenaline pumps through our system, and suddenly we can run like Usain Bolt and lift a 200-pound man without much effort. However, most of the time, anxiety is like a fire alarm with a dead battery that beeps annoyingly every five minutes when there is absolutely nothing to worry about. We experience the heart palpitations, restlessness, panic, and nausea as if a saber-toothed tiger were 20 yards away. Thankfully there are a few simple gestures to communicate to your body that there is no immediate danger — that it’s a false alarm… yet again. I have used the following activities to calm down my nervous system that is ready for an adventure, and to ease symptoms of anxiety. Exercise We have known for decades that exercise can decrease depression and anxiety symptoms, but a 2016 study by researchers at the University of California at David Medical Center demonstrates how. They found that exercise increased the level of the neurotransmitters glutamate and GABA, both of which are depleted in the brains of persons with depression and anxiety. The study showed that aerobic exercise activates the metabolic pathways that replenish these neurotransmitters, allowing the brain to communicate with the body. You need not commit huge amounts of time. Short, ten-minute intervals of intense exercise (such as sprints) can trigger the same brain changes as long, continuous workouts. Drink Chamomile Tea Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs and has been used to treat a variety of conditions including panic and insomnia. Its sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. Chamomile extracts exhibit benzodiazepine-like hypnotic activity as evidenced in a study with sleep-disturbed rats. In a study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia, patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) who took chamomile supplements for eight weeks had a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms compared to the patients taking placebos. Laugh It’s difficult to panic and laugh at the same time. There’s a physiological reason for this. When we panic, we generate all kinds of stress hormones that send SOS signals throughout our body. However, when we laugh, those same hormones are reduced. In a study done at Loma Linda University in California in the 1980s, Lee Berk, DrPH and his research team assigned five men to an experimental group who viewed a 60-minute humor video and five to a control group, who didn’t. They found that the “mirthful laughter experience” reduced serum levels of cortisol, epinephrine, dihydrophenylacetic acid (dopac), and growth hormone. Take Deep Breaths Every relaxation technique that mitigates the stress response and halts our “fight or flight or I’m-dying-get-the-heck-out-of-my-way” reaction is based in deep breathing. I find it miraculous how something as simple as slow abdominal breathing has the power to calm down our entire nervous system. One way it does this is by stimulating our vagus nerve — our BFF in the middle of a panic because it releases a variety of anti-stress enzymes and calming hormones such as acetylcholine, prolactin, vasopressin, and oxytocin. Three basic approaches to deep breathing are coherent breathing, resistance breathing, and breath moving. But really, all you need to do is inhale to a count of six and exhale to a count of six, moving the breath from your chest to your diaphragm. Eat Dark Chocolate Dark chocolate has one of the highest concentrations of magnesium in a food — with one square providing 327 milligrams, or 82 percent of your daily value — and magnesium is an important mineral for calming down the nervous system. According to a 2012 study in the journal Neuropharmacology, magnesium deficiencies induce anxiety, which is why the mineral is known as the original chill pill. Dark chocolate also contains large amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that works as a precursor to serotonin, and theobromine, another mood-elevating compound. The higher percentage of cocoa the better (aim for at least 85 percent), because sugar can reverse the benefits of chocolate and contribute to your anxiety. Color Use anything that can distract you from the fire alarm going off every five minutes in your head—from the distressing thoughts and ruminations. Many people I know use coloring books to divert their attention. I now see them in doctor’s offices and acupuncture centers. A study published in Occupational Therapy International demonstrated that activities such as drawing and other arts and crafts can stimulate the neurological system and enhance well-being. This is partly because they help you stay fully present and they can be meditative. They are especially helpful for people like me who struggle with formal meditation. Cry You have to be careful with crying, as it has the potential you feel worse. However, I’ve always felt a huge release after a good cry. There’s a biological explanation for this. Tears remove toxins from our body that build up from stress, like the endorphin leucine-enkephalin and prolactin, the hormone that causes aggression. And what’s really fascinating is that emotional tears — those formed in distress or grief — contain more toxic byproducts than tears of irritation (like onion peeling). Crying also lowers manganese levels, which triggers anxiety, nervousness, and aggression. In that way, tears elevate mood. I like Benedict Carey’s reference to tears as “emotional perspiration” in his New York Times piece, The Muddled Track of All Those Tears. He writes, “They’re considered a release, a psychological tonic, and to many a glimpse of something deeper: the heart’s own sign language, emotional perspiration from the well of common humanity.” View the full article
  16. This week’s Psychology Around the Net dives into how to stop worrying about what other people think of you, ways to defeat procrastination, why pets can help boost physical and mental health (especially in older adults), and more. Enjoy! Stop Worrying About What Others Think of You: 7 Tips for Feeling Better: The fear of rejection is at the root of caring what someone thinks of you. Learn how to understand what “rejection” really means, use rejection (when it actually happens) as a brilliant opportunity for growth, how to embrace your individuality, and more to overcome your fear of rejection and truly stop worrying what other people think about you. How to Defeat Procrastination with the Psychology of Emotional Intelligence: A step-by-step guide to overcoming procrastination by using the psychology of emotion regulation and emotional intelligence, with some extra tips and tricks to boot? Sign me up! (Additionally, you might want to find out how anxiety affects procrastination.) Here’s One Big Way To Help Working Mothers Thrive: This new study tackles how to reduce a mother’s work-family conflict and employment-related guilt. Why It’s a Problem If ‘Joker’ Connects Mental Illness to Villainy: While most portrayals of The Joker have involved a character backstory that’s mysterious, if not outright nonexistent, there are hints that this new Joker will include not only a backstory, but a backstory that includes mental illness linked to becoming a violent criminal. However, shouldn’t we pause and determine whether the story links mental illness in general with violent and criminal behavior, or whether the story features one character who has a mental illness that drove him to violent criminal behavior? Poll: Pets Help Older Adults Cope with Health Issues, Get Active, and Connect with Others: According to a recent national poll, pets can help older adults deal with physical and mental health issues; however, for some (18 percent of participants), pets bring various strains (for example, financial burdens and problems that arise from putting a pet’s needs before your own). Which is it for you? What We Know and Don’t Know about How Mass Trauma Affects Mental Health: Researchers are working to figure out who is at most risk of suicide and other types of self-harm after mass trauma events such as wars and political violence, natural disasters, and — especially prevalent in today’s troubled climate — mass shootings, including school shootings. View the full article
  17. Mindfulness has become quite the buzzword these days, with impressive studies popping up in the news with regularity. For example, research from the University of Oxford finds that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is just as effective as antidepressants for preventing a relapse of depression. In MBCT, a person learns to pay closer attention to the present moment and to let go of the negative thoughts and ruminations that can trigger depression. They also explore a greater awareness of their own body, identifying stress and signs of depression before a crisis hits. Four years ago, I took an eight-week intensive Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at Anne Arundel Community Hospital. The course was approved by and modeled from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s incredibly successful program at the University of Massachusetts. I often refer to the wise chapters of Kabat-Zinn’s book, Full Catastrophe Living (which we used as a text book). Here are a few of the strategies he offers: Hold Your Feelings with Awareness One of the key concepts of mindfulness is bringing awareness to whatever you are experiencing — not pushing it away, ignoring it, or trying to replace it with a more positive experience. This is extraordinarily difficult when you are in the midst of deep pain, but it can also cut the edge off of the suffering. “Strange as it may sound,” explains Kabat-Zinn, “the intentional knowing of your feelings in times of emotional suffering contains in itself the seeds of healing.” This is because the awareness itself is independent of your suffering. It exists outside of your pain. So just as the weather unfolds within the sky, painful emotions happen against the backdrop of our awareness. This means we are no longer a victim of a storm. We are affected by it, yes, but it no longer happens to us. By relating to our pain consciously, and bringing awareness to our emotions, we are engaging with our feelings instead of being a victim to them and the stories we tell ourselves. Accept What Is At the heart of much of our suffering is our desire for things to be different than they are. “If you are mindful as emotional storms occur,” writes Kabat-Zinn, “perhaps you will see in yourself an unwillingness to accept things as they already are, whether you like them or not.” You may not be ready to accept things as they are, but knowing that part of your pain stems from the desire for things to be different can help put some space between you and your emotions. Ride the Wave One of the most reassuring elements of mindfulness for me is the reminder that nothing is permanent. Even though pain feels as though it is constant or solid at times, it actually ebbs and flows much like the ocean. The intensity fluctuates, comes and goes, and therefore gives us pockets of peace. “Even these recurring images, thoughts, and feelings have a beginning and an end,” explains Kabat-Zinn, “that they are like waves that rise up in the mind and then subside. You may also notice that they are never quite the same. Each time one comes back, it is slightly different, never exactly the same as any pervious wave.” Apply Compassion Kabat-Zinn compares mindfulness of emotions to that of a loving mother who would be a source of comfort and compassion for her child who was upset. A mother knows that the painful emotions will pass — she is separate to her child’s feelings — so she is that awareness that provides peace and perspective. “Sometimes we need to care for ourselves as if that part of us that is suffering is our own child,” Kabat-Zinn writes. “Why not show compassion, kindness, and sympathy toward our own being, even as we open fully to our pain?” Separate Yourself from the Pain People who have suffered years from chronic illness tend to define themselves by their illnesses. Sometimes their identity is wrapped up in their symptoms. Kabat-Zinn reminds us that the painful feelings, sensations, and thoughts are separate to who we are. “Your awarenessof sensations, thoughts, and emotions is different from the sensations, the thoughts, and the emotions themselves,” he writes. “That aspect of your being that is aware is not itself in pain or ruled by these thoughts and feelings at all. It knows them, but it itself is free of them.” He cautions us about the tendency to define ourselves as a “chronic pain patient.” “Instead,” he says, “remind yourself on a regular basis that you are a whole person who happens to have to face and work with a chronic pain condition as intelligently as possible — for the sake of your quality of life and well-being.” Uncouple Your Thoughts, Emotions, and Sensations Just as the sensations, thoughts, and emotions are separate from my identity, they are separate from each other. We tend to lump them all in together: “I feel anxious” or “I am depressed.” However, if we tease them apart, we might realize that a sensation (such as heart palpitations or nausea) we are experiencing is made worse by certain thoughts, and those thoughts feed other emotions. By holding all three in awareness, we could find that the thoughts are nothing more than untrue narratives that are feeding emotions of fear and panic, and that by associating the thoughts and emotions with the sensation, we are creating more pain for ourselves. “This phenomenon of uncoupling can give us new degrees of freedom in resting in awareness and holding whatever arises in any or all of these three domains in an entirely different way, and dramatically reduce the suffering experienced,” explains Kabat-Zinn. View the full article
  18. “I’m still too depressed to find a job,” says one young man. “I lost my car when I was so depressed so how can I even look?” From a young woman: “I don’t have the energy for a full-time job and I don’t feel ready to be around people.” And from a middle-aged guy: “Who wants a 50 year old who’s been in the hospital?” After months of treatment for acute depression, these people are feeling better. They are taking better care of themselves. Their sleep is good. Their medications are working. Therapy has helped them be more successful at using their coping skills. Treatment now needs to shift from stabilization to getting back into the world and back to work. Easier said than done. They are finding the move from having good intentions to actually getting back out there so daunting they are stuck. Yes, these people genuinely want to get back to work, but their self-esteem has taken such a hit, they are convinced they will fail. To avoid failure, they find reasons not to try, all of which have a kernel of truth. But not trying – not doing the personal work to manage their fears and overcome practical obstacles – guarantees not getting anywhere. If you have ever been there, you can relate. Sadly, acute distress often sets in motion a habit of discouragement and passivity. Being genuinely unable for a time can convince people that there’s something so fundamentally wrong with them that they are, at their core, deficient. The habit of negative self-talk that is a common symptom of depression hangs on — and on. How can someone shake the feeling that he or she is fundamentally flawed? How can a person push back at depressive thinking and reclaim the self-confidence required to be a working adult? If you are in recovery and feeling stuck, here are a few thoughts drawn from the field of motivational psychology: It’s up to you: Step one is to accept that, once out of the acute stage of depression, you need to make a renewed commitment to break the habit of inactivity that came with it. Resist the very understandable pull to go back under the covers with the shades drawn. Your therapist can help you figure out how to set reasonable goals and pace yourself for success. Use your supports: Feeling better doesn’t mean you don’t need your medication. Talk to your prescriber if you want to reduce or discontinue it. Keep going to therapy. Your therapist can continue to provide encouragement and practical guidance while you figure out how to get back to work. Ask friends and family to lend support. Those who care about you do want to help but they may need guidance about what exactly you would find helpful. Set reasonable expectations together: You aren’t completely well but you are getting there. Do something: The point is to make a start. You may not be ready for a full-on press for employment but you can certainly start to do more to contribute. Do more around the house. Volunteer for a few hours a week. Take a part-time job. Positive actions do build on each other. Be willing to start small – even at the bottom: It can be really tough to start over. It can feel like a devaluing of your skills and be a blow to your self-esteem. But after being out of the workforce for a time, it may reduce your anxiety to take a job with less status or salary than you once had. Alternatively, think about going back half time if you can as a way to begin. Starting is exactly that — starting. It can give you a needed chance to prove yourself to yourself. If you are returning to a former job, going part-time or taking a step back may be what’s needed if your employer has doubts about whether you can handle it. Even if you don’t stay or advance in that company, you’ll be honing your skills and rebooting your resume. Attitude matters: In the 1950s, there was an animated cartoon that featured a salesman at someone’s door saying, “You wouldn’t want to buy this gizmo would you?” It’s funny in a cartoon. It’s not funny in life. Getting out of the habit of assuming inadequacy requires at least pretending that you have the energy and ambition to sell yourself. In a blog on Huffington Post, motivational speaker Mike Robbins wrote about the importance of pretending as a route to accomplishment: “…if we act ‘as if’ something is already occurring in our lives (even if it’s not), or act ‘as if’ we know how to do something (even if we don’t) we create the conditions for it to manifest in our life . . .” Open yourself to learning. Difficult times, including mental illness, even set-backs and failures, can help us go in a new direction, develop more compassion, or better assess what we want and can do. It’s often useful to take a step back to consider what positive knowledge has come out of a challenging experience. Get ready for luck: Business consultant Idowu Koyenikan has been quoted as saying, “Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.” Being prepared means working at your talents and skills every day, regardless of whether you feel like it. Practicing what we want to do for work may not seem like it is paying off. It may seem like no one is paying attention. But when opportunity knocks, and it usually does at some point, you’ll be ready to respond. Don’t wait until you feel better to look for work: Psychologists and motivational speakers will tell you that waiting to feel better before getting back to work isn’t helpful. It works the other way. Getting back into life is what will help you feel good again. View the full article
  19. New UMN research recently published Blood Advances, Kalpna Gupta, PhD, Professor of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, demonstrates the impact of opioids on the survival of humanized mouse models with sickle cell disease, compared to normal mice. View the full article
  20.  Once we reach recovery from mental illness, we tend to dwell on the mistakes of our past. Thoughts of failures and people we’ve hurt ruminate inside our head and make it difficult to move forward. Why do we think about these things? Does it protect us, make us feel better, or is it way to keep us from moving forward? In this episode, our hosts discuss their past failures in the hopes it allows our listeners to realize living in the past only really accomplishes one thing . . . SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW “It just creeps into the deep dark depths of my head and it just goes around, and around, and around.” – Michelle Hammer Highlights From ‘Ruminations’’ Episode [2:00] We are talking about ruminations today [4:30] Ruminations feed delusions [6:00] Gabe dwells on his past wives [8:20] Michelle ruminates about how her brother treated her in the past [11:00] Gabe tried to set up his brother to get in trouble [13:00] We want Michelle to make amends with her brother [18:00] Why ruminating is detrimental to your health. [19:30] Gabe dwells about his biological father [21:00] Why can’t we just get over things and move on? Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Dwelling on the Past Mistakes Caused by Mental Illness’ Show Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Announcer: [00:00:07] For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Gabe: [00:00:19] You’re listening to a person living with bipolar, a person living with schizophrenia, and a digital portable media file. My name is Gabe Howard and I’m a person living with bipolar disorder. Michelle: [00:00:28] Hi, I’m Michelle Hammer and I’m a person living with schizophrenia. Are you guys happy now? Gabe: [00:00:33] Yeah. See we changed it for everybody. Michelle: [00:00:36] My god, don’t write any more letters. Please stay off our social media. Person first language, okay? Gabe: [00:00:43] I think we did it. I think, you know, by doing it this way, though we have now wiped out discrimination. We’ve wiped out stigma. There’s enough beds for everybody. Homelessness due to mental illness is gone. There’s nobody incarcerated in prisons. By using person first language we have solved all of those other problems, right? Michelle: [00:01:04] We must of. That’s why person’s first language is always number one comment we get. Absolutely. Gabe: [00:01:09] Hang on. I’m getting a weird text message. Michelle: [00:01:11] Oh. Oh no, what happened? Gabe: [00:01:13] Yeah. It turns out we didn’t do anything. We didn’t do anything. Like a person first language. It didn’t. It didn’t solve any problems. No. Now people are mad at us for mocking them. Michelle: [00:01:22] Oh, no! We mocked people? We never make fun of anything on this show. Gabe: [00:01:27] We were always so polite and professional and educational. We never say fuck. Michelle: [00:01:32] We never say fuck, or suck my dick, or your – Gabe: [00:01:37] [Laughter] Michelle: [00:01:37] God, Gabe, what are you laughing at? I’m being really serious right now. I’m a person living with schizophrenia. I am a person living with my past. Gabe: [00:01:45] You’re a person living with your past? Michelle: [00:01:46] My past that I dwell on with my ruminations. Now I’m going to ruminate about this situation: that I couldn’t make the world better. I need to make the world better. Gabe, I need to make the world better. Gabe: [00:01:58] This is the worst segue in the history of our show. And that, that’s saying something. Because we’ve had some mighty awful segues. Michelle: [00:02:08] What are we doing? Gabe: [00:02:11] In case you haven’t figured it out, ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about things that we have ruminated on both before we were diagnosed, during like the recovery period where we’re trying to get better, and things that still kind of haunt us today and we are going to desperately eke 20 minutes out of this. Michelle: [00:02:26] Desperately. Gabe: [00:02:28] So Michelle what are some ruminations that like today think the last six months as longtime listener of this show know we’re in recovery. You are doing quite well despite the fact that you’re a schizophrenic. I am doing quite well despite the fact that I’m living with bipolar disorder we’ve gotten over mania depression psychosis and everything in between. But we still ruminate on things because one everybody does. We should probably start there. Do you think that ruminating about things is the domain of only people with mental illness or do you think that everybody ruminates? Michelle: [00:02:59] I think everybody ruminates to a certain extent. It’s fine ruminating, you just can’t stop it is when it really gets out of control. Gabe: [00:03:07] I like that we’ve challenged ourselves to put the word “ruminating” in this show as many times as possible. Michelle: [00:03:13] How do you spell this word? Gabe: [00:03:15] I have no idea. I have no idea that that’s really a problem for the show Michelle: [00:03:19] Should we define ruminating for people? Gabe: [00:03:20] Do it. Michelle: [00:03:21] Ruminating is when you can think of the same thing over and over and over again you just cannot get it out of your head. It just goes around and around and around. Usually it drives you nuts. Gabe: [00:03:33] So, for example, Michelle’s mother, who has absolutely no mental illness to speak of, ruminates about why Michelle is a failure. Michelle: [00:03:42] Hey. Gabe: [00:03:42] It just she can’t get it out of her head. Michelle: [00:03:44] I’m not a failure. Gabe: [00:03:45] I didn’t say that you were. I said that your mother ruminates about it. Michelle: [00:03:47] She does not. Gabe: [00:03:48] I mean maybe a little bit? Michelle: [00:03:49] She doesn’t. Gabe: [00:03:50] Okay well my mother despite having no mental illness whatsoever ruminates on whether or not I’m going to throw her under the bus on a podcast. Michelle: [00:03:58] Does she? Gabe: [00:03:58] I mean, probably. Michelle: [00:03:59] I don’t know. Gabe: [00:04:01] Yeah, I don’t think she gives a shit. Michelle: [00:04:02] I often ruminate why I was fired from any previous job. Gabe: [00:04:05] Do you ruminate about being fired from the job as a symptom of schizophrenia? Or is it just something that you wish you could go back in time and figure out? Michelle: [00:04:14] Well it’s more like different situations that happened and how I wish I could have handled them differently. Gabe: [00:04:19] But doesn’t everybody do that? Like do you ever do this? And be honest, I mean sincerely be honest. Remember we value honesty. Do you ever get in a fight with your girlfriend, and like you’re fighting, you’re yelling, you’re screaming, and then you retreat to separate corners. All is quiet. It’s over, you’ve made up and you think, “God, I wish I would have said that?” Or like you run through it in your mind? Michelle: [00:04:40] But that’s different than ruminating. Gabe: [00:04:42] Well, how is it? Michelle: [00:04:43] Different for me? Because ruminating just doesn’t stop it. I’ll go around and around and around and even when I’m walking through the street walking through anything I almost will turn delusional and think I’m with those other people having that conversation start getting angry just start making the whole situation 8 million times worse than it was because I keep thinking about it over and over and over and over and over and over again. It won’t go away and if they hate it so much. Gabe: [00:05:08] In your mind ruminating and delusions they feed each other? Michelle: [00:05:13] Yes absolutely. Gabe: [00:05:14] First you’re thinking about the thing. I got fired. They fired me. H.R. called walk me down with the seventh time I got. By the time you’re done you’re back in that time and place. You’re feeling it again and it’s like it’s happening right now. Even though it was three years ago. Michelle: [00:05:26] Yes. Gabe: [00:05:27] Wow. Does that still happen to you like in 2019? Does this still happen to Michelle Hammer? Michelle: [00:05:32] Yes. Gabe: [00:05:33] What’s the coping skill to get around it? Because you’re right. You’re a well accomplished person. Why do we care? Michelle: [00:05:38] Honestly, talking about the ruminating thoughts. Because when you talk about the ruminating thoughts usually the person you’re talking to is going, “Why do you care so much about this?” You maybe talk it out a little bit, and then you’re like, “Wow. You’re right. Who cares about this dumb stupid person or this story or anything about the situation. It’s so useless why am I thinking about it so much and you can’t change the past anyway. You’re right. I talked it out. Now I feel better. Gabe: [00:06:03] But can’t you kinda change the past? Can’t you remember it differently? You can’t you edit it in your mind, can’t you fix the things that have gone wrong previously in the future just like with different people? Michelle: [00:06:16] You mean like learning from your past? Gabe: [00:06:17] No. Learning sounds mature and we don’t really like that here. Michelle: [00:06:21] OK. So then I don’t know what you’re talking about. Gabe: [00:06:23] Here’s a good example. I’m on my third marriage. My wife is wonderful and I love her and this marriage has stood many many years. And I have no complaints. I want to say that right now. But I’ve been divorced twice. Not nasty divorces, but, you know, things that didn’t feel good. And I’ve been through breakups etc.. So every now and again my wife will do something and it will remind me of something that my ex-wife did and I’ll think. “Wait a minute. You know I let that go when wife number two did it. So I have to fix it with wife number three.” Even though they’re a completely different person. It’s a completely different time and nothing is the same except for maybe like one little thing. Don’t you ever do that? Like don’t you ever try to set a boundary with your current friend that you didn’t set with your last friend that is now you’re like mortal enemy? Michelle: [00:07:10] No. Gabe: [00:07:11] No? Michelle: [00:07:11] No. Something that I do I know I do with my anxiety but I put on other people, is that I’ll start asking them a million questions about things. And then they’re like, “Why are you asking me a million questions?” And I’m like, “Oh, it’s my anxiety. I just wondered at the time? I just wondered if you know the place? I just wanted to know what you’re going to do after? What you are going to do before? I’m like, I’m just anxious. I’m sorry. I wanted to know.” If that makes any sense. Gabe: [00:07:33] I certainly do that, too. You know like that constant time checking thing? That you don’t wanna be late? Michelle: [00:07:37] Yes. Gabe: [00:07:38] So what time is it? It’s four o’clock. OK. We have to be there at four thirty. What time is it? It’s four or one. OK. We have to be there at four thirty. What time is it? Dude ,it’s still four or one. But you know some of the things that are trapped in my head that I just can’t get out are just what a bad friend I was, or what a awful son I was, or what a terrible family member I was. Michelle: [00:07:58] Yeah, yeah. Gabe: [00:07:58] And sometimes I get mad at the people around me because I assume that they’re still mad at me because I’m still mad at me. Does stuff like that ever happen to you? Michelle: [00:08:09] I mean, I still hold a lot of vendettas against my brother, which I owe to him. Right? Everyone says that I just dwell on the past. Even he says that I just, like, stay on the past. About when we’re very young. Me and my brother, and how mean he was to me and everything. We would see each other in the hallway of high school, and he wouldn’t even say hello to me. Yet, when he went off to college, and we were still using AIM, and he would instant message me, I would not reply. So he wouldn’t speak to me when he saw me in high school in the hallway, yet I stopped replying to him when he went off to college. And that was not OK. Which makes no sense to me. Yet, now we haven’t seen each other in a long time because he lives in another country. And when he comes back, I now have to be nice to him. Because I guess he’s a different person now? Yet, I never got any kind of apologies or anything like that, but I’m supposed to see that he’s a different person now. I don’t know why. And we’re supposed to be good friends now or something like that. I guess, just out of curiosity, why? I’m just wondering. Gabe: [00:09:12] Is your brother a different person now? Michelle: [00:09:14] Apparently, he’s a different person now. I don’t know. But-. Gabe: [00:09:18] He had to leave the country to really get away with you. Michelle: [00:09:20] I don’t know where it changed, but I’m supposed to treat him differently now. I’m supposed to forget everything from the past, all of the abuse from the past, and I’m supposed to like him now. I don’t know why. Gabe: [00:09:31] I haven’t heard described any abuse. What you described is a couple of adult siblings that do not talk to each other. Michelle: [00:09:36] No. Well okay. Gabe: [00:09:37] What’s he mean to you? Did he call you names? Wait, did he pull your pigtails? Michelle: [00:09:39] Well, he went to karate, and he would practice all of his karate moves on me. Constant wrestling, slamming my head into the ground until my nose bleeds. Calling me Michael instead of Michelle. Calling me a boy. That kind of went with Michael. Slamming the door in my face. Not letting me play with him. Like when we’re very little. Try to use his toys, not allowed to use his toys. Actually, when my mom and dad came home with me from the hospital when I was born, and they said, “Oh, Seth, here’s your sister.” He threw a stuffed animal at me. Yeah. I don’t know why they told me that story. Gabe: [00:10:11] So he’s your older brother? Michelle: [00:10:12] Yes. Gabe: [00:10:12] Because you said that he threw a stuffed animal at you when you came home from the hospital and they told you that story and you’re putting this together with all of the other issues that you had with your brother growing up when you were kids? Michelle: [00:10:27] Yeah and my like broke my necklace too, and then blamed me for it because that I was being annoying. So he had to push me and my necklace got in the way and it broke. Gabe: [00:10:36] This is fabulous that you bring this up and here’s why. Because in my brother and sister’s world, I’m your older brother. I was the oldest. I was incredibly jealous of my brother. One time to get him in trouble when we were kids, I took syrup out of the pantry and I dumped it on the floor so that I could frame him for doing it. Knowing that he’d get in trouble. My mother just happened to be moving faster than normal that morning and watched me do it. And even though she saw me do it, I still tried to blame him for it. Absolutely, unequivocally, just hated having him as a brother. I was a top dog. I was the oldest. I used to live with Grandma. Then my mother remarried and nine months later I got this bastard in my house and I treated him like absolute garbage. Absolute garbage. Michelle: [00:11:22] My favorite was when he would say, “You’re stupid.” And I would say, “No, you are stupid.” And then he would say, “Well, I’m smarter than you. So if I’m stupid, how dumb are you? Gabe: [00:11:30] You know you’re an adult now, right? Michelle: [00:11:31] I know. But obviously I can not get over this because I don’t understand why I’m supposed to like him now when I never received any kind of apology. Gabe: [00:11:38] What kind of apology do you want when you were growing up? Michelle: [00:11:41] Maybe just, “I’m sorry I was a horrible asshole to you, and ignored you for years and everything like that.” Gabe: [00:11:47] Listen I never ever ever told my brother and sister, “I’m sorry. I was a horrible asshole to you.” Ever. Michelle: [00:11:55] So that I don’t understand, why do I have to accept him back in my life? Gabe: [00:11:59] I mean you don’t. But do you feel good right now? Michelle: [00:12:01] I’m being told by everybody in my family that I need to accept him back in my life. Gabe: [00:12:06] Okay. Well fuck them. Don’t. Just sit around and think about how pissed off and angry 8, 12, and 15 year old Michelle was. Michelle: [00:12:13] Hang on one second, we’ve got to hear from our sponsor. Announcer: [00:12:16] This episode is sponsored by betterhelp.com secure convenient and affordable online counselling. All 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 counselling is right for you. Betterhelp.com/PsychCentral. Michelle: [00:12:44] Want us to answer your questions on the show? Head over to PsychCentral.com/BSPquestions and fill out the form. Gabe: [00:12:54] We’re back, still trying to say the word rumination as many times as humanly possible. You’re 30 years old, you’ve moved on with your life. But you’re still thinking about shit that happened to you when you were literally eight years old. Michelle: [00:13:06] Ok, I see where you’re going with this. Gabe: [00:13:08] How is that working out for you? Michelle: [00:13:08] I don’t know. I don’t see him. I don’t have to speak to him. And then my mom says, “Have you spoken to your brother? Have you texted him? Have you spoken to him?” Yeah. “I don’t like that you guys don’t have a relationship. Why do my children hate each other?” Gabe: [00:13:23] Well, I mean you articulated why y’all hate each. Michelle: [00:13:25] I know, I’m just saying, that’s what she says. Gabe: [00:13:27] I mean, has he done anything to you as an adult? Let let’s establish that like right out. In the time that you both became adult grown people, has he? Or has he been fine? Michelle: [00:13:36] Well, when I graduated college he was working at kind of in the design agency kind of area. His boss, the creative director, he wanted to give me some advice. So he brought me in and he looks at my portfolio and his boss said to me, “I like your stuff. I want to give you some help. I wanted to offer you like a part time internship here, but your brother said no”. Gabe: [00:13:54] Well but you don’t know that’s true. Michelle: [00:13:57] His boss said it to me. Gabe: [00:13:58] Yeah, but so what? People lie all the time. Michelle: [00:14:00] No that’s 100 percent something my brother would do. Why would he lie and say I would offer you an internship here, but your brother said no? Because why would he invite me to come there and look at my portfolio and see all of my work and give me advice? Why would he offer to do that? Gabe: [00:14:16] If he was gonna tell you no, why did he do it at all? Michelle: [00:14:17] He was just giving me advice. And he just said that he wanted to offer me an internship, and that he would totally do that for me, but my brother said no. Gabe: [00:14:25] So your brother was the boss of his boss? Michelle: [00:14:27] My brother said do not hire her as an intern. Gabe: [00:14:31] Then why did he talk to you at all? Michelle: [00:14:32] Because he wanted to give me advice. Gabe: [00:14:34] Did you ask your brother about this? Michelle: [00:14:36] No I wouldn’t want to start a fight. Gabe: [00:14:39] But, I kinda smell a rat here. Michelle: [00:14:41] No I don’t smell a rat here. Obviously, Gabe, you don’t know my brother if you don’t believe this story. Gabe: [00:14:46] It just doesn’t have the ring of truth. Michelle: [00:14:47] Actually, it does very much ring true. Gabe: [00:14:50] Okay. Let’s say that that is completely true. It’s 100 percent. Michelle: [00:14:52] Okay. Gabe: [00:14:52] Let’s say it rings true? Michelle: [00:14:54] Say it rings true? It’s 100 true. Gabe: [00:14:55] Right, it’s 100 percent true. I agree. How long ago was that? How many years? Michelle: [00:15:00] I believe I was 22. Okay so it was eight years ago. Gabe: [00:15:04] Eight years? Everybody, Michelle Hammer is 30 years old. Michelle: [00:15:04] You said adult life, Gabe. I was bringing up something in my adult life that’s it. So you know, it’s just so you know, you said something in my adult life. Gabe: [00:15:14] I don’t know. I do not. You’re very upset about this. Michelle: [00:15:17] He didn’t want me to work in the same place that he was working. You said adult life there you go or not. Gabe: [00:15:25] But you keep repeating that. Michelle: [00:15:26] Also, my brother lives in Colombia. Colombia the country, not the college. People have gotten that very mixed up before. Gabe: [00:15:31] Did you throw your brother out of the country? Michelle: [00:15:35] I’m glad he left. Gabe: [00:15:35] Okay. Michelle: [00:15:38] Meanwhile, you know who’s never been invited to Colombia to come see him? Gabe: [00:15:40] I’m gonna go with you. Michelle: [00:15:41] Yeah. Gabe: [00:15:42] Do you think the reason you’ve never been invited is because you hate him? Michelle: [00:15:48] He’s never invited me. Gabe: [00:15:48] Because you hate him. Michelle: [00:15:50] Well, he’s never invited me. Gabe: [00:15:51] Because you hate him. Michelle: [00:15:52] He’s never invited me. Gabe: [00:15:53] Have you invited him to your house? Michelle: [00:15:55] He’s been to my apartment. He’s been there. Gabe: [00:15:58] You’re upset about this aren’t you? Michelle: [00:15:58] Well, we’re dwelling on the past, Gabe. Gabe: [00:16:00] You want to have a relationship with your brother, don’t you? Michelle: [00:16:03] We do not get along. Gabe: [00:16:05] I didn’t say do you get along. I said do you want to get along? Michelle: [00:16:08] I want him to acknowledge what he’s done. Gabe: [00:16:13] But why do you want him to acknowledge what he’s done? Michelle: [00:16:16] Because he acts so innocent. Gabe: [00:16:17] I’m being really serious. Michelle: [00:16:19] Like look, he acts like he did nothing wrong. And then the past is of the past and I should ignore it. Gabe: [00:16:24] Listen here’s what I’m saying, you think about the things that happened as a kid and as a young adult. A lot. And it brings it up. You are clearly unhappy about this and other members of your family know that you’re unhappy about this and try to fix it. Albeit apparently poorly. And I completely agree that all of these things are true. The question that I have for you this is the only question that I want you to answer. Do you want him to apologize because you want an apology? Or do you want him to apologize because you miss your brother and you want to mend the relationship? Michelle: [00:16:56] Yes, I would like to mend the relationship. Gabe: [00:16:58] Ok, well then say that. Say that the reason that you think about this so much is because you’re sad that you’re fighting with your brother. Michelle: [00:17:05] And I’ve had friends who’ve met my brother on multiple occasions and have told me your brother’s a dick. Gabe: [00:17:11] Yeah, he sounds like a real dick. Listen – Michelle: [00:17:13] I’m just saying. I’m just saying. Gabe: [00:17:14] I am not saying that he is not. Your brother’s a dick. I’m saying that you need to understand your own motivation because until you do I don’t think you’re gonna get over it. And I think a lot of our listeners have somebody in their life that they feel this way about. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, in some cases it’s like a parent or a guardian. It’s somebody who helped raised them or an authority figure and they’re all ruminating on this day in and day out. And if they don’t fix the relationship or get over the relationship it either a handcuffs them in the present like it’s handcuffed to you because you’re thinking about this right now and it is occupying way too much of your space for some dude who doesn’t even live in the country. And two, you just need to let it go and decide hey look this relationship isn’t for me and stop thinking about it. Frankly I don’t think any of this has anything to do with schizophrenia. I don’t think it does. It has everything to do with the fact that familiar relationships our family our friends, that’s the kind of stuff that fucks you up. Michelle: [00:18:10] I think what it has to do with schizophrenia is the fact that I’ll think about it and I’ll just scrape into my head and it creeps in the deep dark depths of my head and I’ll just go around and around and around and around. Gabe: [00:18:22] You want to know who my big brother is? You want to know who does that for me? You want to know who creeps into my head and just turns around and around and won’t let go ever? My biological father. The dude is dead. He is dead and I think about him the exact same way you think about your brother. Michelle: [00:18:41] Really? Gabe: [00:18:41] Yeah he’s dead. He can’t apologize. He can’t make up for it. It’s over. I won because I didn’t die of alcoholism. Michelle: [00:18:49] I can get why. Gabe: [00:18:50] Why did you hate me? That’s all I can think about, why did he hate me? And now you’re gonna do the exact same thing that I just did for you. You’re gonna be like, “Dude, he didn’t hate you he was a dick. He was an alcoholic. He abandoned his kid.” This is the level that we torture ourselves. Michelle: [00:19:02] I get that though. When a parent chooses alcohol over a kid. I can understand why the kid feels very upset. Gabe: [00:19:10] Oh, look I don’t think he chose alcohol over me. I think he chose literally anything. I think he would have chosen like a blowing leaf over me. Michelle: [00:19:18] Sometimes, a father is just a sperm. Gabe: [00:19:20] Yeah. You know I call on my sperm donor. Michelle: [00:19:22] Yeah. That’s sometimes just what a father is. Gabe: [00:19:25] But this is the biggest rumination that I have because I wonder how did he know? On the day that I was born, that I was broken and worthless? How come he knew what nobody else can figure out? Michelle: [00:19:37] He didn’t know that. Gabe: [00:19:37] But, I mean – Michelle: [00:19:38] He knew he was broken. Gabe: [00:19:41] He didn’t know that. He had a good life. He was happy. He died fine. Michelle: [00:19:44] No, he wasn’t happy, he was an alcoholic. Gabe: [00:19:46] Yeah, a happy one. Michelle: [00:19:47] No, there’s no happy alcoholics. Gabe: [00:19:50] You know that whole self medicating thing it doesn’t play sometimes. I don’t think he was self medicating at all. I think he was just a guy that did whatever he wanted and said whatever he wanted and behaved however. He was just immature. Michelle: [00:20:00] Then he wasn’t ready to be a dad. Gabe: [00:20:03] I mean he was very young. My mother got pregnant in high school and he was also in high school. Michelle: [00:20:07] So ok, that makes a little bit better. Gabe: [00:20:08] But he never made up for it. I saw him on his deathbed. He was in hospice. He had jaundice, his eyes were yellow. They told me had less than two weeks to live. And I’m like, “Do you have anything to say to me?” And he was like, “It’s your mom’s fault.” Michelle: [00:20:23] That’s what he said? Gabe: [00:20:23] That’s pretty much what he said. Michelle: [00:20:25] He’s a dick. Gabe: [00:20:26] Oh, yeah. Michelle: [00:20:26] Like he’s a dick. Your biological dad, he’s a dick. Gabe: [00:20:29] But why can’t I get over it? Michelle: [00:20:31] Because he’s your dad. Gabe: [00:20:33] Yeah I got a dad. He’s alive. He lives in Tennessee. He’s cool. Michelle: [00:20:35] Because he’s a part of you. Gabe: [00:20:37] And I’m not trying to be crass here, but he’s just a guy who had sex with my mom. I appreciate the DNA and all Michelle: [00:20:45] But if you can say that, then why can’t you get over it? Gabe: [00:20:48] Exactly. And that’s why it ruminates because the intellectual part of Gabe Howard thinks – Michelle: [00:20:54] So are you mad at your mom for boning this dude? Gabe: [00:20:57] No. Well, I mean, I’m mad at my mom for giving me life but that’s like a whole ‘nother episode. I don’t understand why I got to be born and why I have to be born broken and why I’m here. Michelle: [00:21:08] There’s a reason why you’re here and there’s a purpose here and it’s. Gabe: [00:21:12] I don’t I don’t believe that. Michelle: [00:21:13] Purpose. I believe that there’s always a reason why you’re here. Gabe: [00:21:17] You believe in vape pens. Michelle: [00:21:20] You believe in Diet Coke. Maybe there’s a universe of no diet coke. Gabe: [00:21:23] That’s mean. Michelle: [00:21:24] You’re not there. That’s near here. Gabe: [00:21:27] That’s mean. Michelle: [00:21:28] You’re here to drink Diet Coke. Gabe: [00:21:30] Michelle, seriously. Seriously, none of this is serving either one of us so why do we do it? Michelle: [00:21:36] Because it doesn’t go away. Gabe: [00:21:39] And why doesn’t it go away? Michelle: [00:21:40] I don’t know why it doesn’t go away. Gabe: [00:21:42] Exactly. Judging by our emails a lot of our listeners have this problem where they just have this thing that they just can’t get over. And if they have learned nothing by listening to this show it’s that they’re not alone. A lot of people have these things that they just can’t get over and I think that anybody listening to me and you for the last 20 minutes would think wow these two need to get over that because it’s not serving them in any way. Michelle: [00:22:05] Just a little bit. Don’t you think? Gabe: [00:22:06] But we’re not letting it go. I hope that maybe they listen to us and they realize how unhelpful this is to just not get over and they think wow I don’t want to be like them and they let go of their anger and the things that they’re just ruminating on and can’t get over. But I suspect that a lot of people are gonna hang on to that rumination and I hope that they find some way to minimize it because at the end of the day Michelle we have minimized it. It is not impacting us the same way at our current age. That it probably did 10 years ago. Do you think you think about this less now than you did five years ago? Michelle: [00:22:44] Oh definitely much less. Gabe: [00:22:45] So there really is some wisdom in time heals all wounds. Michelle: [00:22:49] And you know living in another country. Gabe: [00:22:52] So I had to kill my biological father. You had to send your brother to another country and now suddenly we’re getting better. That’s fantastic. That is definitely actionable advice. Everybody is excited that they listen to this episode of a bipolar schizophrenic podcast because now they can beat their own ruminations with death and deportation. Michelle: [00:23:15] Yes. Gabe: [00:23:16] Not every episode can be a winner ladies and gentlemen but we hope you got something out of it. Thank you for tuning into this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Don’t forget to hop over to store.PsychCentra.com, there is a few shirts left. This is the last time. Literally the last time we will ever pitch the “Define Normal” shirts on this show. So if you have been hanging on wanting to buy one, now is the time. Thank you everybody. Please like us everywhere and we will see you next time. Michelle: [00:23:45] He’s a dick! Announcer: [00:23:50]You’ve been listening to a bipolar a schizophrenic kind of podcast. If you love this episode don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe rate and review to work with Gabe go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups. Head over to PsychCentral.com Show’s official Web site PsychCentral.com/bsp you can e-mail us at show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening and share widely. Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com. MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC. View the full article
  21.  Once we reach recovery from mental illness, we tend to dwell on the mistakes of our past. Thoughts of failures and people we’ve hurt ruminate inside our head and make it difficult to move forward. Why do we think about these things? Does it protect us, make us feel better, or is it way to keep us from moving forward? In this episode, our hosts discuss their past failures in the hopes it allows our listeners to realize living in the past only really accomplishes one thing . . . SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW “It just creeps into the deep dark depths of my head and it just goes around, and around, and around.” – Michelle Hammer Highlights From ‘Ruminations’’ Episode [2:00] We are talking about ruminations today [4:30] Ruminations feed delusions [6:00] Gabe dwells on his past wives [8:20] Michelle ruminates about how her brother treated her in the past [11:00] Gabe tried to set up his brother to get in trouble [13:00] We want Michelle to make amends with her brother [18:00] Why ruminating is detrimental to your health. [19:30] Gabe dwells about his biological father [21:00] Why can’t we just get over things and move on? Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Dwelling on the Past Mistakes Caused by Mental Illness’ Show Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Announcer: [00:00:07] For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Gabe: [00:00:19] You’re listening to a person living with bipolar, a person living with schizophrenia, and a digital portable media file. My name is Gabe Howard and I’m a person living with bipolar disorder. Michelle: [00:00:28] Hi, I’m Michelle Hammer and I’m a person living with schizophrenia. Are you guys happy now? Gabe: [00:00:33] Yeah. See we changed it for everybody. Michelle: [00:00:36] My god, don’t write any more letters. Please stay off our social media. Person first language, okay? Gabe: [00:00:43] I think we did it. I think, you know, by doing it this way, though we have now wiped out discrimination. We’ve wiped out stigma. There’s enough beds for everybody. Homelessness due to mental illness is gone. There’s nobody incarcerated in prisons. By using person first language we have solved all of those other problems, right? Michelle: [00:01:04] We must of. That’s why person’s first language is always number one comment we get. Absolutely. Gabe: [00:01:09] Hang on. I’m getting a weird text message. Michelle: [00:01:11] Oh. Oh no, what happened? Gabe: [00:01:13] Yeah. It turns out we didn’t do anything. We didn’t do anything. Like a person first language. It didn’t. It didn’t solve any problems. No. Now people are mad at us for mocking them. Michelle: [00:01:22] Oh, no! We mocked people? We never make fun of anything on this show. Gabe: [00:01:27] We were always so polite and professional and educational. We never say fuck. Michelle: [00:01:32] We never say fuck, or suck my dick, or your – Gabe: [00:01:37] [Laughter] Michelle: [00:01:37] God, Gabe, what are you laughing at? I’m being really serious right now. I’m a person living with schizophrenia. I am a person living with my past. Gabe: [00:01:45] You’re a person living with your past? Michelle: [00:01:46] My past that I dwell on with my ruminations. Now I’m going to ruminate about this situation: that I couldn’t make the world better. I need to make the world better. Gabe, I need to make the world better. Gabe: [00:01:58] This is the worst segue in the history of our show. And that, that’s saying something. Because we’ve had some mighty awful segues. Michelle: [00:02:08] What are we doing? Gabe: [00:02:11] In case you haven’t figured it out, ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about things that we have ruminated on both before we were diagnosed, during like the recovery period where we’re trying to get better, and things that still kind of haunt us today and we are going to desperately eke 20 minutes out of this. Michelle: [00:02:26] Desperately. Gabe: [00:02:28] So Michelle what are some ruminations that like today think the last six months as longtime listener of this show know we’re in recovery. You are doing quite well despite the fact that you’re a schizophrenic. I am doing quite well despite the fact that I’m living with bipolar disorder we’ve gotten over mania depression psychosis and everything in between. But we still ruminate on things because one everybody does. We should probably start there. Do you think that ruminating about things is the domain of only people with mental illness or do you think that everybody ruminates? Michelle: [00:02:59] I think everybody ruminates to a certain extent. It’s fine ruminating, you just can’t stop it is when it really gets out of control. Gabe: [00:03:07] I like that we’ve challenged ourselves to put the word “ruminating” in this show as many times as possible. Michelle: [00:03:13] How do you spell this word? Gabe: [00:03:15] I have no idea. I have no idea that that’s really a problem for the show Michelle: [00:03:19] Should we define ruminating for people? Gabe: [00:03:20] Do it. Michelle: [00:03:21] Ruminating is when you can think of the same thing over and over and over again you just cannot get it out of your head. It just goes around and around and around. Usually it drives you nuts. Gabe: [00:03:33] So, for example, Michelle’s mother, who has absolutely no mental illness to speak of, ruminates about why Michelle is a failure. Michelle: [00:03:42] Hey. Gabe: [00:03:42] It just she can’t get it out of her head. Michelle: [00:03:44] I’m not a failure. Gabe: [00:03:45] I didn’t say that you were. I said that your mother ruminates about it. Michelle: [00:03:47] She does not. Gabe: [00:03:48] I mean maybe a little bit? Michelle: [00:03:49] She doesn’t. Gabe: [00:03:50] Okay well my mother despite having no mental illness whatsoever ruminates on whether or not I’m going to throw her under the bus on a podcast. Michelle: [00:03:58] Does she? Gabe: [00:03:58] I mean, probably. Michelle: [00:03:59] I don’t know. Gabe: [00:04:01] Yeah, I don’t think she gives a shit. Michelle: [00:04:02] I often ruminate why I was fired from any previous job. Gabe: [00:04:05] Do you ruminate about being fired from the job as a symptom of schizophrenia? Or is it just something that you wish you could go back in time and figure out? Michelle: [00:04:14] Well it’s more like different situations that happened and how I wish I could have handled them differently. Gabe: [00:04:19] But doesn’t everybody do that? Like do you ever do this? And be honest, I mean sincerely be honest. Remember we value honesty. Do you ever get in a fight with your girlfriend, and like you’re fighting, you’re yelling, you’re screaming, and then you retreat to separate corners. All is quiet. It’s over, you’ve made up and you think, “God, I wish I would have said that?” Or like you run through it in your mind? Michelle: [00:04:40] But that’s different than ruminating. Gabe: [00:04:42] Well, how is it? Michelle: [00:04:43] Different for me? Because ruminating just doesn’t stop it. I’ll go around and around and around and even when I’m walking through the street walking through anything I almost will turn delusional and think I’m with those other people having that conversation start getting angry just start making the whole situation 8 million times worse than it was because I keep thinking about it over and over and over and over and over and over again. It won’t go away and if they hate it so much. Gabe: [00:05:08] In your mind ruminating and delusions they feed each other? Michelle: [00:05:13] Yes absolutely. Gabe: [00:05:14] First you’re thinking about the thing. I got fired. They fired me. H.R. called walk me down with the seventh time I got. By the time you’re done you’re back in that time and place. You’re feeling it again and it’s like it’s happening right now. Even though it was three years ago. Michelle: [00:05:26] Yes. Gabe: [00:05:27] Wow. Does that still happen to you like in 2019? Does this still happen to Michelle Hammer? Michelle: [00:05:32] Yes. Gabe: [00:05:33] What’s the coping skill to get around it? Because you’re right. You’re a well accomplished person. Why do we care? Michelle: [00:05:38] Honestly, talking about the ruminating thoughts. Because when you talk about the ruminating thoughts usually the person you’re talking to is going, “Why do you care so much about this?” You maybe talk it out a little bit, and then you’re like, “Wow. You’re right. Who cares about this dumb stupid person or this story or anything about the situation. It’s so useless why am I thinking about it so much and you can’t change the past anyway. You’re right. I talked it out. Now I feel better. Gabe: [00:06:03] But can’t you kinda change the past? Can’t you remember it differently? You can’t you edit it in your mind, can’t you fix the things that have gone wrong previously in the future just like with different people? Michelle: [00:06:16] You mean like learning from your past? Gabe: [00:06:17] No. Learning sounds mature and we don’t really like that here. Michelle: [00:06:21] OK. So then I don’t know what you’re talking about. Gabe: [00:06:23] Here’s a good example. I’m on my third marriage. My wife is wonderful and I love her and this marriage has stood many many years. And I have no complaints. I want to say that right now. But I’ve been divorced twice. Not nasty divorces, but, you know, things that didn’t feel good. And I’ve been through breakups etc.. So every now and again my wife will do something and it will remind me of something that my ex-wife did and I’ll think. “Wait a minute. You know I let that go when wife number two did it. So I have to fix it with wife number three.” Even though they’re a completely different person. It’s a completely different time and nothing is the same except for maybe like one little thing. Don’t you ever do that? Like don’t you ever try to set a boundary with your current friend that you didn’t set with your last friend that is now you’re like mortal enemy? Michelle: [00:07:10] No. Gabe: [00:07:11] No? Michelle: [00:07:11] No. Something that I do I know I do with my anxiety but I put on other people, is that I’ll start asking them a million questions about things. And then they’re like, “Why are you asking me a million questions?” And I’m like, “Oh, it’s my anxiety. I just wondered at the time? I just wondered if you know the place? I just wanted to know what you’re going to do after? What you are going to do before? I’m like, I’m just anxious. I’m sorry. I wanted to know.” If that makes any sense. Gabe: [00:07:33] I certainly do that, too. You know like that constant time checking thing? That you don’t wanna be late? Michelle: [00:07:37] Yes. Gabe: [00:07:38] So what time is it? It’s four o’clock. OK. We have to be there at four thirty. What time is it? It’s four or one. OK. We have to be there at four thirty. What time is it? Dude ,it’s still four or one. But you know some of the things that are trapped in my head that I just can’t get out are just what a bad friend I was, or what a awful son I was, or what a terrible family member I was. Michelle: [00:07:58] Yeah, yeah. Gabe: [00:07:58] And sometimes I get mad at the people around me because I assume that they’re still mad at me because I’m still mad at me. Does stuff like that ever happen to you? Michelle: [00:08:09] I mean, I still hold a lot of vendettas against my brother, which I owe to him. Right? Everyone says that I just dwell on the past. Even he says that I just, like, stay on the past. About when we’re very young. Me and my brother, and how mean he was to me and everything. We would see each other in the hallway of high school, and he wouldn’t even say hello to me. Yet, when he went off to college, and we were still using AIM, and he would instant message me, I would not reply. So he wouldn’t speak to me when he saw me in high school in the hallway, yet I stopped replying to him when he went off to college. And that was not OK. Which makes no sense to me. Yet, now we haven’t seen each other in a long time because he lives in another country. And when he comes back, I now have to be nice to him. Because I guess he’s a different person now? Yet, I never got any kind of apologies or anything like that, but I’m supposed to see that he’s a different person now. I don’t know why. And we’re supposed to be good friends now or something like that. I guess, just out of curiosity, why? I’m just wondering. Gabe: [00:09:12] Is your brother a different person now? Michelle: [00:09:14] Apparently, he’s a different person now. I don’t know. But-. Gabe: [00:09:18] He had to leave the country to really get away with you. Michelle: [00:09:20] I don’t know where it changed, but I’m supposed to treat him differently now. I’m supposed to forget everything from the past, all of the abuse from the past, and I’m supposed to like him now. I don’t know why. Gabe: [00:09:31] I haven’t heard described any abuse. What you described is a couple of adult siblings that do not talk to each other. Michelle: [00:09:36] No. Well okay. Gabe: [00:09:37] What’s he mean to you? Did he call you names? Wait, did he pull your pigtails? Michelle: [00:09:39] Well, he went to karate, and he would practice all of his karate moves on me. Constant wrestling, slamming my head into the ground until my nose bleeds. Calling me Michael instead of Michelle. Calling me a boy. That kind of went with Michael. Slamming the door in my face. Not letting me play with him. Like when we’re very little. Try to use his toys, not allowed to use his toys. Actually, when my mom and dad came home with me from the hospital when I was born, and they said, “Oh, Seth, here’s your sister.” He threw a stuffed animal at me. Yeah. I don’t know why they told me that story. Gabe: [00:10:11] So he’s your older brother? Michelle: [00:10:12] Yes. Gabe: [00:10:12] Because you said that he threw a stuffed animal at you when you came home from the hospital and they told you that story and you’re putting this together with all of the other issues that you had with your brother growing up when you were kids? Michelle: [00:10:27] Yeah and my like broke my necklace too, and then blamed me for it because that I was being annoying. So he had to push me and my necklace got in the way and it broke. Gabe: [00:10:36] This is fabulous that you bring this up and here’s why. Because in my brother and sister’s world, I’m your older brother. I was the oldest. I was incredibly jealous of my brother. One time to get him in trouble when we were kids, I took syrup out of the pantry and I dumped it on the floor so that I could frame him for doing it. Knowing that he’d get in trouble. My mother just happened to be moving faster than normal that morning and watched me do it. And even though she saw me do it, I still tried to blame him for it. Absolutely, unequivocally, just hated having him as a brother. I was a top dog. I was the oldest. I used to live with Grandma. Then my mother remarried and nine months later I got this bastard in my house and I treated him like absolute garbage. Absolute garbage. Michelle: [00:11:22] My favorite was when he would say, “You’re stupid.” And I would say, “No, you are stupid.” And then he would say, “Well, I’m smarter than you. So if I’m stupid, how dumb are you? Gabe: [00:11:30] You know you’re an adult now, right? Michelle: [00:11:31] I know. But obviously I can not get over this because I don’t understand why I’m supposed to like him now when I never received any kind of apology. Gabe: [00:11:38] What kind of apology do you want when you were growing up? Michelle: [00:11:41] Maybe just, “I’m sorry I was a horrible asshole to you, and ignored you for years and everything like that.” Gabe: [00:11:47] Listen I never ever ever told my brother and sister, “I’m sorry. I was a horrible asshole to you.” Ever. Michelle: [00:11:55] So that I don’t understand, why do I have to accept him back in my life? Gabe: [00:11:59] I mean you don’t. But do you feel good right now? Michelle: [00:12:01] I’m being told by everybody in my family that I need to accept him back in my life. Gabe: [00:12:06] Okay. Well fuck them. Don’t. Just sit around and think about how pissed off and angry 8, 12, and 15 year old Michelle was. Michelle: [00:12:13] Hang on one second, we’ve got to hear from our sponsor. Announcer: [00:12:16] This episode is sponsored by betterhelp.com secure convenient and affordable online counselling. All 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 counselling is right for you. Betterhelp.com/PsychCentral. Michelle: [00:12:44] Want us to answer your questions on the show? Head over to PsychCentral.com/BSPquestions and fill out the form. Gabe: [00:12:54] We’re back, still trying to say the word rumination as many times as humanly possible. You’re 30 years old, you’ve moved on with your life. But you’re still thinking about shit that happened to you when you were literally eight years old. Michelle: [00:13:06] Ok, I see where you’re going with this. Gabe: [00:13:08] How is that working out for you? Michelle: [00:13:08] I don’t know. I don’t see him. I don’t have to speak to him. And then my mom says, “Have you spoken to your brother? Have you texted him? Have you spoken to him?” Yeah. “I don’t like that you guys don’t have a relationship. Why do my children hate each other?” Gabe: [00:13:23] Well, I mean you articulated why y’all hate each. Michelle: [00:13:25] I know, I’m just saying, that’s what she says. Gabe: [00:13:27] I mean, has he done anything to you as an adult? Let let’s establish that like right out. In the time that you both became adult grown people, has he? Or has he been fine? Michelle: [00:13:36] Well, when I graduated college he was working at kind of in the design agency kind of area. His boss, the creative director, he wanted to give me some advice. So he brought me in and he looks at my portfolio and his boss said to me, “I like your stuff. I want to give you some help. I wanted to offer you like a part time internship here, but your brother said no”. Gabe: [00:13:54] Well but you don’t know that’s true. Michelle: [00:13:57] His boss said it to me. Gabe: [00:13:58] Yeah, but so what? People lie all the time. Michelle: [00:14:00] No that’s 100 percent something my brother would do. Why would he lie and say I would offer you an internship here, but your brother said no? Because why would he invite me to come there and look at my portfolio and see all of my work and give me advice? Why would he offer to do that? Gabe: [00:14:16] If he was gonna tell you no, why did he do it at all? Michelle: [00:14:17] He was just giving me advice. And he just said that he wanted to offer me an internship, and that he would totally do that for me, but my brother said no. Gabe: [00:14:25] So your brother was the boss of his boss? Michelle: [00:14:27] My brother said do not hire her as an intern. Gabe: [00:14:31] Then why did he talk to you at all? Michelle: [00:14:32] Because he wanted to give me advice. Gabe: [00:14:34] Did you ask your brother about this? Michelle: [00:14:36] No I wouldn’t want to start a fight. Gabe: [00:14:39] But, I kinda smell a rat here. Michelle: [00:14:41] No I don’t smell a rat here. Obviously, Gabe, you don’t know my brother if you don’t believe this story. Gabe: [00:14:46] It just doesn’t have the ring of truth. Michelle: [00:14:47] Actually, it does very much ring true. Gabe: [00:14:50] Okay. Let’s say that that is completely true. It’s 100 percent. Michelle: [00:14:52] Okay. Gabe: [00:14:52] Let’s say it rings true? Michelle: [00:14:54] Say it rings true? It’s 100 true. Gabe: [00:14:55] Right, it’s 100 percent true. I agree. How long ago was that? How many years? Michelle: [00:15:00] I believe I was 22. Okay so it was eight years ago. Gabe: [00:15:04] Eight years? Everybody, Michelle Hammer is 30 years old. Michelle: [00:15:04] You said adult life, Gabe. I was bringing up something in my adult life that’s it. So you know, it’s just so you know, you said something in my adult life. Gabe: [00:15:14] I don’t know. I do not. You’re very upset about this. Michelle: [00:15:17] He didn’t want me to work in the same place that he was working. You said adult life there you go or not. Gabe: [00:15:25] But you keep repeating that. Michelle: [00:15:26] Also, my brother lives in Colombia. Colombia the country, not the college. People have gotten that very mixed up before. Gabe: [00:15:31] Did you throw your brother out of the country? Michelle: [00:15:35] I’m glad he left. Gabe: [00:15:35] Okay. Michelle: [00:15:38] Meanwhile, you know who’s never been invited to Colombia to come see him? Gabe: [00:15:40] I’m gonna go with you. Michelle: [00:15:41] Yeah. Gabe: [00:15:42] Do you think the reason you’ve never been invited is because you hate him? Michelle: [00:15:48] He’s never invited me. Gabe: [00:15:48] Because you hate him. Michelle: [00:15:50] Well, he’s never invited me. Gabe: [00:15:51] Because you hate him. Michelle: [00:15:52] He’s never invited me. Gabe: [00:15:53] Have you invited him to your house? Michelle: [00:15:55] He’s been to my apartment. He’s been there. Gabe: [00:15:58] You’re upset about this aren’t you? Michelle: [00:15:58] Well, we’re dwelling on the past, Gabe. Gabe: [00:16:00] You want to have a relationship with your brother, don’t you? Michelle: [00:16:03] We do not get along. Gabe: [00:16:05] I didn’t say do you get along. I said do you want to get along? Michelle: [00:16:08] I want him to acknowledge what he’s done. Gabe: [00:16:13] But why do you want him to acknowledge what he’s done? Michelle: [00:16:16] Because he acts so innocent. Gabe: [00:16:17] I’m being really serious. Michelle: [00:16:19] Like look, he acts like he did nothing wrong. And then the past is of the past and I should ignore it. Gabe: [00:16:24] Listen here’s what I’m saying, you think about the things that happened as a kid and as a young adult. A lot. And it brings it up. You are clearly unhappy about this and other members of your family know that you’re unhappy about this and try to fix it. Albeit apparently poorly. And I completely agree that all of these things are true. The question that I have for you this is the only question that I want you to answer. Do you want him to apologize because you want an apology? Or do you want him to apologize because you miss your brother and you want to mend the relationship? Michelle: [00:16:56] Yes, I would like to mend the relationship. Gabe: [00:16:58] Ok, well then say that. Say that the reason that you think about this so much is because you’re sad that you’re fighting with your brother. Michelle: [00:17:05] And I’ve had friends who’ve met my brother on multiple occasions and have told me your brother’s a dick. Gabe: [00:17:11] Yeah, he sounds like a real dick. Listen – Michelle: [00:17:13] I’m just saying. I’m just saying. Gabe: [00:17:14] I am not saying that he is not. Your brother’s a dick. I’m saying that you need to understand your own motivation because until you do I don’t think you’re gonna get over it. And I think a lot of our listeners have somebody in their life that they feel this way about. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, in some cases it’s like a parent or a guardian. It’s somebody who helped raised them or an authority figure and they’re all ruminating on this day in and day out. And if they don’t fix the relationship or get over the relationship it either a handcuffs them in the present like it’s handcuffed to you because you’re thinking about this right now and it is occupying way too much of your space for some dude who doesn’t even live in the country. And two, you just need to let it go and decide hey look this relationship isn’t for me and stop thinking about it. Frankly I don’t think any of this has anything to do with schizophrenia. I don’t think it does. It has everything to do with the fact that familiar relationships our family our friends, that’s the kind of stuff that fucks you up. Michelle: [00:18:10] I think what it has to do with schizophrenia is the fact that I’ll think about it and I’ll just scrape into my head and it creeps in the deep dark depths of my head and I’ll just go around and around and around and around. Gabe: [00:18:22] You want to know who my big brother is? You want to know who does that for me? You want to know who creeps into my head and just turns around and around and won’t let go ever? My biological father. The dude is dead. He is dead and I think about him the exact same way you think about your brother. Michelle: [00:18:41] Really? Gabe: [00:18:41] Yeah he’s dead. He can’t apologize. He can’t make up for it. It’s over. I won because I didn’t die of alcoholism. Michelle: [00:18:49] I can get why. Gabe: [00:18:50] Why did you hate me? That’s all I can think about, why did he hate me? And now you’re gonna do the exact same thing that I just did for you. You’re gonna be like, “Dude, he didn’t hate you he was a dick. He was an alcoholic. He abandoned his kid.” This is the level that we torture ourselves. Michelle: [00:19:02] I get that though. When a parent chooses alcohol over a kid. I can understand why the kid feels very upset. Gabe: [00:19:10] Oh, look I don’t think he chose alcohol over me. I think he chose literally anything. I think he would have chosen like a blowing leaf over me. Michelle: [00:19:18] Sometimes, a father is just a sperm. Gabe: [00:19:20] Yeah. You know I call on my sperm donor. Michelle: [00:19:22] Yeah. That’s sometimes just what a father is. Gabe: [00:19:25] But this is the biggest rumination that I have because I wonder how did he know? On the day that I was born, that I was broken and worthless? How come he knew what nobody else can figure out? Michelle: [00:19:37] He didn’t know that. Gabe: [00:19:37] But, I mean – Michelle: [00:19:38] He knew he was broken. Gabe: [00:19:41] He didn’t know that. He had a good life. He was happy. He died fine. Michelle: [00:19:44] No, he wasn’t happy, he was an alcoholic. Gabe: [00:19:46] Yeah, a happy one. Michelle: [00:19:47] No, there’s no happy alcoholics. Gabe: [00:19:50] You know that whole self medicating thing it doesn’t play sometimes. I don’t think he was self medicating at all. I think he was just a guy that did whatever he wanted and said whatever he wanted and behaved however. He was just immature. Michelle: [00:20:00] Then he wasn’t ready to be a dad. Gabe: [00:20:03] I mean he was very young. My mother got pregnant in high school and he was also in high school. Michelle: [00:20:07] So ok, that makes a little bit better. Gabe: [00:20:08] But he never made up for it. I saw him on his deathbed. He was in hospice. He had jaundice, his eyes were yellow. They told me had less than two weeks to live. And I’m like, “Do you have anything to say to me?” And he was like, “It’s your mom’s fault.” Michelle: [00:20:23] That’s what he said? Gabe: [00:20:23] That’s pretty much what he said. Michelle: [00:20:25] He’s a dick. Gabe: [00:20:26] Oh, yeah. Michelle: [00:20:26] Like he’s a dick. Your biological dad, he’s a dick. Gabe: [00:20:29] But why can’t I get over it? Michelle: [00:20:31] Because he’s your dad. Gabe: [00:20:33] Yeah I got a dad. He’s alive. He lives in Tennessee. He’s cool. Michelle: [00:20:35] Because he’s a part of you. Gabe: [00:20:37] And I’m not trying to be crass here, but he’s just a guy who had sex with my mom. I appreciate the DNA and all Michelle: [00:20:45] But if you can say that, then why can’t you get over it? Gabe: [00:20:48] Exactly. And that’s why it ruminates because the intellectual part of Gabe Howard thinks – Michelle: [00:20:54] So are you mad at your mom for boning this dude? Gabe: [00:20:57] No. Well, I mean, I’m mad at my mom for giving me life but that’s like a whole ‘nother episode. I don’t understand why I got to be born and why I have to be born broken and why I’m here. Michelle: [00:21:08] There’s a reason why you’re here and there’s a purpose here and it’s. Gabe: [00:21:12] I don’t I don’t believe that. Michelle: [00:21:13] Purpose. I believe that there’s always a reason why you’re here. Gabe: [00:21:17] You believe in vape pens. Michelle: [00:21:20] You believe in Diet Coke. Maybe there’s a universe of no diet coke. Gabe: [00:21:23] That’s mean. Michelle: [00:21:24] You’re not there. That’s near here. Gabe: [00:21:27] That’s mean. Michelle: [00:21:28] You’re here to drink Diet Coke. Gabe: [00:21:30] Michelle, seriously. Seriously, none of this is serving either one of us so why do we do it? Michelle: [00:21:36] Because it doesn’t go away. Gabe: [00:21:39] And why doesn’t it go away? Michelle: [00:21:40] I don’t know why it doesn’t go away. Gabe: [00:21:42] Exactly. Judging by our emails a lot of our listeners have this problem where they just have this thing that they just can’t get over. And if they have learned nothing by listening to this show it’s that they’re not alone. A lot of people have these things that they just can’t get over and I think that anybody listening to me and you for the last 20 minutes would think wow these two need to get over that because it’s not serving them in any way. Michelle: [00:22:05] Just a little bit. Don’t you think? Gabe: [00:22:06] But we’re not letting it go. I hope that maybe they listen to us and they realize how unhelpful this is to just not get over and they think wow I don’t want to be like them and they let go of their anger and the things that they’re just ruminating on and can’t get over. But I suspect that a lot of people are gonna hang on to that rumination and I hope that they find some way to minimize it because at the end of the day Michelle we have minimized it. It is not impacting us the same way at our current age. That it probably did 10 years ago. Do you think you think about this less now than you did five years ago? Michelle: [00:22:44] Oh definitely much less. Gabe: [00:22:45] So there really is some wisdom in time heals all wounds. Michelle: [00:22:49] And you know living in another country. Gabe: [00:22:52] So I had to kill my biological father. You had to send your brother to another country and now suddenly we’re getting better. That’s fantastic. That is definitely actionable advice. Everybody is excited that they listen to this episode of a bipolar schizophrenic podcast because now they can beat their own ruminations with death and deportation. Michelle: [00:23:15] Yes. Gabe: [00:23:16] Not every episode can be a winner ladies and gentlemen but we hope you got something out of it. Thank you for tuning into this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Don’t forget to hop over to store.PsychCentra.com, there is a few shirts left. This is the last time. Literally the last time we will ever pitch the “Define Normal” shirts on this show. So if you have been hanging on wanting to buy one, now is the time. Thank you everybody. Please like us everywhere and we will see you next time. Michelle: [00:23:45] He’s a dick! Announcer: [00:23:50]You’ve been listening to a bipolar a schizophrenic kind of podcast. If you love this episode don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe rate and review to work with Gabe go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups. Head over to PsychCentral.com Show’s official Web site PsychCentral.com/bsp you can e-mail us at show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening and share widely. Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com. MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC. View the full article
  22. Phobiasupportforum

    Medications That Can Cause Depression

    There is nothing more frustrating than when the cure is part of the problem. Because depression is prevalent in patients with physical disorders like cancer, stroke, and heart disease, medications often interact with each other, complicating treatment. To appropriately manage depression, you and your physician need to evaluate all medications involved and make sure they aren’t cancelling each other out. A review in the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience a while back highlighted certain medications that can cause depression. The following are medications to watch out for. Medications to Treat Seizures and Parkinson’s Disease Many anticonvulsants have been linked with depression, but three medications — barbiturates, vigabatrin, and topiramate — are especially guilty. Because they work on the GABA neurotransmitter system, they tend to produce fatigue, sedation, and depressed moods. Other anticonvulsants, including tiagabine, zonisamide, levetiracetam, and felbamate have been associated in placebo-controlled trials with depressive symptoms in patients. Patients at high risk for depression should be monitored closely when prescribed barbiturates, vigabatrin, or topiramate. When treating Parkinson’s disease, caution should be taken when using levodopa or amantadine, as they may increase depressive symptoms. Medications to Treat Migraines In migraine patients at risk for depression, topiramate and flunarizine should be avoided when possible. A better option is acute treatment with serotonin agonists and prophylactic treatment with TCAs, as those medications could simultaneously address symptoms of both depression and migraine headaches. Certain headache medications like Excedrin that list caffeine as an ingredient can also worsen anxiety. Heart Medications The link between blood pressure medications and depression has been well established. By affecting the central nervous system, methyldopa, clonidine, and reserpine may aggravate or even cause depression. Beta-blockers like atenolol and propranolol may also have depression side effects. Although low cholesterol has been associated with depression and suicide, there is no clear link between depression and lipid-lowering agents. Antibiotic and Cold Medications Although most antibiotics used to treat infections are unlikely to cause depression, there have been some cases in which they induce symptoms. Anti-infective agents, such as cycloserine, ethionamide, metronidazole, and quinolones, have been linked to depression. Over-the-counter cold medications like Sudafed that contain the decongestant pseudo-ephedrine can contribute to anxiety. Antidepressants and Anti-Anxiety Medication Sometimes medications to treat depression and anxiety can have a reverse effect, especially in the first few weeks of treatment. There have been reports of Lexapro, for example, worsening anxiety, however it usually subsides after the first few weeks. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Wellbutrin may also cause anxiety. Cancer Medications Approximately 10 to 25 percent of cancer patients develop significant depressive symptoms, however, given that so many medications are involved in treating cancer, it can been difficult to pinpoint the culprits. Vinca alkaloids (vincristine and vinblastine) inhibit the release of dopamine-ß-hyroxylase, and have been linked to irritability and depression. The cancer drugs procarbazine, cycloserine, and tamoxifen are also considered to induce depression. One report cited depression in 16 percent of carmustine-treated patients, and 23 percent in those receiving busulfan when employed as part of the treatment for stem cell transplants. The antimetabolites pemetrexed and fludarabine have been reported to cause mood disturbances. Some hormonal agents to treat breast cancer have also been associated with depression, including tamoxifen and anastrozole. Finally, taxane drugs such as paclitaxel and docetaxel have been linked to depression. Oral Contraceptives and Infertility Medications Oral contraceptive medications have long been associated with depression. In a study published in the British Medical Journal, of the group of women taking oral contraceptives, 6.6 percent were more severely depressed than the control group. GnRH agonists (such as leuprolide and goserelin) can have depression side-effects in some people. In one study, 22 percent of leuprolide-treated patients and 54 percent of goserelin-treated patients suffered from significant depressive symptoms. Clomiphene citrate, a selective estrogen receptor modulator used to induce ovulation, has also been associated with depressed mood. View the full article
  23. Do you struggle breaking the ice during social or networking situations? Are you interested in spring cleaning your energy this weekend? Have you had some negative mental health experiences with fitness apps? We’ve got the latest on each of these and more in this week’s Psychology Around the Net! Psychologists Agree: ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ Is the Only Icebreaker You’ll Ever Need: Talking to new people at a social function or networking event can be tough, especially for people with social anxiety. How do you get their attention? How do you start talking to them? How do you break the ice? Psychologists say the best way to do all that is with four simple words: tell me about yourself. Personally, I kind of freeze up and experience more anxiety when people ask me to tell them about myself (OMG what do I say?!), but here are six tips to help us all navigate the “tell me about yourself” process from start to finish. Air Pollution Tied to Mental Health Issues in Teenagers: A recent study involving more than 2,000 British teenagers whose health researchers followed from birth until they turned 18 years old has associated urban air pollution with an increased risk for psychotic experiences. According to the study, almost a third of the participants reported they had experienced at least one psychotic experience, ranging from mild paranoia to a more severe psychotic symptom, since the age of 12. 9 Ways to ‘Spring Clean’ Your Energy: Entertaining “blah” thoughts, cluttered and dusty personal space, losing motivation to keep up healthy routines — you have to admit, these and others are ways your energy can get junked up during the dark winter months. Now that spring is here, let’s look at some of the ways you can clean that energy up. These ‘Wear Your Meds’ Buttons Tackle the Stigma of Taking Mental Illness Drugs: Have y’all heard of the #WearYourMeds movement started by Lauren Weiss? Essentially, you wear a button (or buttons, depending) that depicts the mental health medication you take (alternatively, you can purchase a button that reads “Wear Your Meds”) as a way to, ideally, act as a conversation starter to promote mental health awareness. Although it’s not affiliated with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), all proceeds do go to NAMI. Thoughts? Sports Psychologists Say Running Apps May Be Damaging Your Health: My knee-jerk reaction to this title was, “What?! I love my C25K app!” After reading the article, I realized the professionals make some good points. Sports psychologists Dr. Andrew Wood and Dr. Martin Turner believe fitness apps (and running apps in particular), which generally are designed to help us meet certain fitness or training goals, could do us more harm than good by contributing to an unhealthy relationship with exercise (and our need for social media validation). Pope Francis Wants Psychological Testing to Prevent Problem Priests. But Can It Really Do That? ICYMI: The Catholic Church is dealing with one sexual abuse scandal after another lately. Now, Pope Francis has announced a policy he wants to implement worldwide — one that would, ideally, prevent any man from becoming a priest if he can’t pass a psychological evaluation proving he’s suited to a life of chastity. However, scholars, researchers, and even others in the Church are questioning whether or not this is actually possible. View the full article
  24. Even as we don’t like pain, it is a reminder that we are alive and have a steady pulse. Worse than heartbreak or rage can be the sensation of numbness, when you lose access to your feelings and can’t feel the sadness of an important loss or the aggravations that used to make you scream. Emotional numbness is a common, yet not talked about, symptom of depression. In an informational video, Will This Numbness Go Away?, J. Raymond DePaulo, Jr., M.D., co-director of the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center, describes emotional numbness and helps people to distinguish between the numbness caused by depression and that from medication side-effects. He also assures anyone experiencing it, that it WILL go away. I don’t feel anything. “Numbness is not the most talked about experience or the most prominent experience of a depressed patient,” DePaulo says, “but there is a small group of patients for whom their first concern is that they don’t feel anything.” Writer Phil Eli could be included in that group. He wasn’t prepared for the way his depression stole his sex drive and attention span. Nor was he ready for the overwhelming fatigue that made it difficult for him to stay on task. However, he was most surprised by his inability to feel anything. In his piece “Sometimes Depression Means Not Feeling Anything at All” he writes: Nothing about hearing the word “depression” prepared me for having a moment of eye contact with my two-year-old niece that I knew ought to melt my heart—but didn’t. Or for sitting at a funeral for a friend, surrounded by sobs and sniffles, and wondering, with a mix of guilt and alarm, why I wasn’t feeling more. During my recent depression spell, I experienced this kind of numbness for weeks. Political news that would have previously enraged me left me cold. Music had little effect beyond stirring memories of how it used to make me feel. Jokes were unfunny. Books were uninteresting. Food was unappetizing. I felt, as Phillip Lopate wrote in his uncannily accurate poem “Numbness,” “precisely nothing.” Is it my medication? To further confuse matters, numbness can also be a side-effect of certain medications. “It is true that there are medications and a particular group of antidepressants that can cause a very similar numbness,” explains DePaulo. “It’s important to distinguish that and know if it’s a side effect of medication. The Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors at higher doses can cause this.” A 2015 study published in the journal Sociology found that emotional numbness was among the dominating experiences of antidepressant use among young adults, and a 2014 study published in the journal Elsevier cited that 60 percent of the participants who had taken antidepressants within the past five years experienced some emotional numbness. That said, it can be tempting for people to assign blame on the medication when it is due to the depression, itself, especially in the initial weeks and months of treatment. Will it go away? Regardless of the cause, people want to know if and when numbness will go away. DePaulo asserts, “If the treatment is sufficiently helpful, it will go away.” However, he explains that it may not be the first thing to improve. The progression of recovery usually starts with a person looking better to other people and talking more and being response. “They may still feel awful on the inside,” he explains, “but usually those feelings go away later in the course of treatment.” And if the numbing is caused by a medication? “We have to figure that out,” says DePaulo. “We may try reducing the dose of medication — if the medication seems to be otherwise working — or may attempt to change medications.” Either way, though, DePaulo says, it should go away. “That is our job.” The good-bad news is that ALL your feelings will return. View the full article
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    Psychology Around the Net: March 23, 2019

    Ever wonder how food affects your mental health? Do you think social media addiction should be formally classified (and should the companies behind them be taxed for help)? What’s your stance on Amy Schumer’s discussion of her husband’s autism spectrum disorder diagnosis? Let’s discuss it all and more in this week’s Psychology Around the Net! Nutritional Psychiatry: Can You Eat Yourself Happier? We’re not talking about eating your feelings but eating foods that actually affect your feelings. After struggling with anxiety and depression throughout most of her life, Felice Jacka, the head of the Food and Mood Centre at Deakin University in Australia and president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry, found that her diet, exercise, and sleep had a major affect on her mental health. Before you scoff (duh, don’t we already know this?), her findings initially weren’t received with open arms. Now, a ton of research, studies, and and peer-reviewed papers under her belt, it’s obvious what we eat affects our mental health. Fluctuation of Depressive Symptoms May Help Predict Suicide: According to a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry, the severity and fluctuation of depressive symptoms are better at predicting suicide in at-risk young adults than psychiatric diagnoses alone. Says the study’s senior author Dr. Nadine Melhem, “Our findings suggest that when treating patients, clinicians must pay particular attention to the severity of current and past depressive symptoms and try to reduce their severity and fluctuations to decrease suicide risk.” Social Media Addiction Is a Real Disease, U.K. Lawmakers Say—And Facebook and Google Must Be Taxed for It: The negative effects social media can have on mental health — especially teen’s and young adult’s mental health — is no news. We’ve been talking about it for years. Now, U.K. lawmakers aren’t just saying that social media addiction should be formally classified as a disease, but they’re also kicking it up a notch and claiming the companies behind social media platforms should have to pay a 0.5% tax on their profits to help solve the problem. 7 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned: Frankly, my life isn’t going quite as planned right now. This was helpful, and so I’m passing it along. New Study: Performance-Based Pay Linked to Employee Mental Health Problems: Pay-for-performance compensation systems such as bonuses, commissions, piece rates, profit sharing, and individual and team goal achievements — which are prevalent in approximately seven out of 10 companies in the U.S. alone — are meant to act as incentives; however, according to this big-data study that combined objective medical and compensation records with demographics, these systems are actually taking a negative toll on employee mental health. Amy Schumer Tells Why She Revealed Her Husband’s Autism Spectrum Diagnosis: Since her latest Netflix special, Growing, began streaming last Tuesday, fans and non-fans alike have talked more about how Amy Schumer discusses her husband Chris Fischer’s diagnosis than anything else in the show. Some are offended, claiming she had no right to talk about his health; others are fine, stating we shouldn’t jump the gun because, you know, Chris is her husband and therefore probably knew — nay, probably was consulted — about it long beforehand. Well, according to Amy during her appearance on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, “We both wanted to talk about it because it’s [the diagnosis] been totally positive.” She then goes on to talk about the tools and resources they were given, how they’ve managed life and marriage, and how they both want to encourage people not to be afraid of the stigma. So, yeah. It sounds like Chris wasn’t a pawn in his wife’s comedy routine, nor was he ignorant to what she was going to say. Watch the interview clip. View the full article
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