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  1. Happy Saturday (or whatever day you’re reading this) sweet readers! This week’s Psychology Around the Net covers a personal account of how running helped one author’s anxiety and fear, how green spaces work to boost your well-being and social connections, why “hip” office settings aren’t benefiting employees the way employers would like them to, and more. Enjoy! Moving the Body, Boosting the Mind: Running Your Way to Better Mental Health: Bella Mackie, author of Jog On: How Running Saved My Life, weighs in on how physical activity (specifically, running) helped release her from a life of anxiety, fear, and intrusive thoughts. Hyperhidrosis Associated with Higher Anxiety, Depression, ADD: New research shows patients who have primary hyperhidrosis — “a rare disorder characterized by excessive sweating on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, in the armpits (axillary), in the groin area, and/or under the breasts” — are significantly more likely to develop mental health conditions such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), anxiety, and depression. Green Spaces Can Help You Trust Strangers: Last week I directed you to research about how growing up in an area lacking in green spaces can contribute to depression in adult years; now, we learn from a new case study about how green spaces and other colorful urban design elements can increase the well-being and social connections among the city’s residents. Physician Mental Health: The Role of Self-Compassion and Detachment: Finding the professional balance between showing compassion to and engaging emotionally with their patients can leave medical providers suppressing their feelings, doing a disservice to their own mental health and well-being. Enter REVAMP. Hip Offices Are Part of Our Mental Health Crisis. Here’s Why: Taking the occasional mental health day has become the corporate cure-all for employees experiencing burnout, but now offices are trying to create “hip,” “cool” workplace environments in an attempt to prevent burnout and even help employee mental health. According to one entrepreneur, these aren’t effective methods. Motivation Through Appreciation: The Science Behind a Happy Workplace: On that note, here’s a look at how something as seemingly simple as employee appreciation can boost happiness and motivation. So, what are some super basic yet super effective ways employers can show appreciation to their employees? View the full article
  2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an often misunderstood and complicated illness. It can latch on to anything that is important to us, and has the potential to totally devastate lives. Still, so many people believe it is nothing more than excessive hand washing and the desire to keep things tidy. This could not be further from the truth. For the purpose of this post, I’ll be referring specifically to OCD in children. When OCD makes an appearance in a family, it often brings about fear and confusion. For one thing, obsessive-compulsive disorder manifests itself differently in everyone. Truly, there is no end to the ways it can present itself in addition to the stereotypical compulsions mentioned above. A few examples include eating issues, refusal to leave the house, irrational fears of certain people, places, or things, and the inability to complete previously easy homework assignments. You name it, it just might be OCD. Which leads us to the next issue that faces parents of children with OCD — getting a proper diagnosis. Misdiagnosis is common, which of course leads to the wrong treatment. Even when OCD is properly diagnosed, the right therapy, exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy is often elusive. What’s a family to do? For those lucky enough to receive a proper diagnosis and referral to good treatment, you’d think the children would be on their way to recovery. However, that is not always the case – I’m hearing from more people than ever who are in this situation. While various forms of intensive treatment (intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization programs, or residential treatment centers) are often recommended for their child, many parents are concerned that a commitment to intensive treatment will disrupt their child’s life. For example, Kate loves dance and she’ll miss some classes and the recital, Jake will miss a good chunk of fourth grade if he does a particular ERP program, and Ashley will miss a few social events and have to tell her friends what’s going on (or lie).* Obviously, the children discussed in the above paragraph are not totally debilitated by OCD. Not yet, anyway. And it very well could be that they are balking at the idea of treatment. For children who can’t leave the house, or are not able to function to any extent in their daily lives, the decision to seek treatment is typically easier — they have already hit bottom. But many parents of children who are teetering on the edge don’t seem to want to take away the few things that still make their children happy, or “normal.” As an advocate for OCD awareness and proper treatment for over ten years, I cannot stress the importance of getting the right help for obsessive-compulsive disorder sooner rather than later. OCD rarely gets better on its own, and once entrenched, is harder to treat. So, for all those out there who might be in this situation, please get your child the right help as soon as possible. Friends and activities will come and go. Even missing a significant amount of time in school can be made up. But a child who grows into a young adult with untreated OCD might very well be so disabled by the disorder that he or she can’t even hold down an entry-level job. Getting good treatment now will free your child from the grips of OCD and allow him or her to go on to have a wonderful life. *These are not their real names. View the full article
  3.  We often use actual mental illnesses to describe behaviors that don’t actually qualify. For example, if a friend thinks they failed a test, we might jokingly say, “Stop being paranoid.” But what is real paranoia? What does it feel like? What can be done about it? In this episode, Michelle talks about her life with, and without, paranoia. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW “I’ve never had a clear mind where I didn’t think someone, somewhere was talking bad about me.” – Michelle Hammer Highlights From ‘Paranoia’ Episode [1:00] Michelle discusses when her paranoia started. [4:00] The most amazing thing that Michelle could finally do: nap. [7:00] Paranoia or scared of society? [8:40] How did Michelle realize she was paranoid? [10:30] How did Michelle stop being paranoid? [15:30] Taking criticism and not caring. [17:30] Michelle still gets offended on occasion. [20:30] Seeing success in our future. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Paranoia -Bipolar &Schizophrenic’ Show Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Narrator: [00:00:09] For reasons that utterly escapes Everyone involved. You’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Thank you for tuning into A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast. Michelle: [00:00:17] Hello and welcome to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. I’m Michelle. I’m schizophrenic. Gabe: [00:00:24] My name is Gabe and I am bipolar. Michelle: [00:00:27] Right Gabe. And today we are talking about paranoia. Gabe: [00:00:32] Why do you say it like that? Like it’s you’re saying like paranoia. But you’re using like the paranormal voice. Do you have the two confused? Michelle: [00:00:41] I must. Gabe: [00:00:42] Do you think that like being paranoid is the same as having ghosts like take over your body? Michelle: [00:00:46] Oh my God, it must be. What if you’re a paranoid ghost? Gabe: [00:00:49] Then you’d be a paranoid paranormal. Michelle: [00:00:51] A paranoid paranormal. Oh my God. Maybe the angels are the support groups for ghosts or paranoid. Gabe: [00:00:58] There’s no such thing as ghosts. Michelle: [00:01:00] What? Gabe: [00:01:01] Yeah. Michelle: [00:01:02] You just blew my mind. Gabe you’ve been paranoid. Gabe: [00:01:07] I’m paranoid constantly. I consider myself to be in recovery, but I’m paranoid all the time. But I’m much more interested in hearing from the paranoid schizophrenic. Michelle: [00:01:17] Oh, is that me? Gabe: [00:01:18] I mean, otherwise we’ve been lying to listeners for like multiple episodes. Michelle: [00:01:23] Yes, I am the paranoid schizophrenic. Well, let’s think. When did my paranoia even start? I feel like I’ve been paranoid my entire life. Really, I can start off by saying I remember the first time I was not paranoid, and I realized how paranoid I had been for so long. Gabe: [00:01:44] Explain this to me. You were paranoid and then you got treatment. So then you weren’t paranoid and that felt wrong to you? Michelle: [00:01:53] All through high school all through the beginning of college. I always had this idea, after every time I spoke, it was that I say the right thing that I sound stupid. Every time I left a room full of people, always think, What did they think about me? Are they talking about me right now? Are they thinking that I sound stupid or are they thinking that I’m dumb? Should I have left the room… did I leave the room too soon? What happens next? I mean it’s always thinking like almost narcissistically that everyone is talking about me all the time and everything they’re saying about me is something negative. So, I never knew what to say in front of who. So sometimes I would just stay very quiet or maybe I would just think somebody hated me when they really didn’t hate me at all, and I would just make the whole thing up in my head. But I remember when I got one doctor in college. He prescribed me a pill and I didn’t know what this pill was, I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I decided to try it and all of the sudden, I didn’t care about what I was saying. I didn’t care about what people thought of me. My mind was just quiet. I was relaxed and I was like, oh my goodness, I think this is what it’s like to not be paranoid. I feel so good. I feel good about myself. I think I could read a book right now. I think I could take a nap right now. This is the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had. I’ve never had such not a busy mind and I’ve never had a mind where I didn’t think that somebody, somewhere was saying something bad about me. Gabe: [00:03:31] So it’s like clarity. Like you had clarity. Michelle: [00:03:34] Yes. I remember I read a chapter of a book… like I have never been able to read books without thoughts racing through my mind that something bad was happening somewhere about me or I can’t do this or horrible thoughts or are you just going through my head and be able to actually comprehend a book. Gabe: [00:03:52] What book was it? Michelle: [00:03:55] I don’t remember. Gabe: [00:03:55] You read a whole chapter of the first book that you’ve ever been able to read you forgot. Michelle: [00:03:57] Chuck Palahniuk. Gabe: [00:04:00] Chuck Palahniuk. Michelle: [00:04:01] Whatever it was. I don’t know. Well, I read a chapter, but it was just different, because I was so used to trying to read and not being able to comprehend anything. But this book… I read a chapter and then some. I did something I haven’t been able to do in years. I took a nap. Gabe: [00:04:19] You sleep all the time. Michelle: [00:04:21] Not before then. Gabe: [00:04:22] So before being diagnosed, before getting treatment, you couldn’t sleep because you were afraid that in your sleep you would be hurt. Michelle: [00:04:31] I just could not sleep because my mind was so busy all the time, always panicking, always scared of something, always energized, always running around all over the place, could never calm down, could never sit still. And then I was just… I took this pill and I was like, I think I can read. I think I can take a nap. And it was just the most mind-boggling thing ever. Gabe: [00:04:58] How do you know this was the paranoia going away and not just the other symptoms of schizophrenia being treated? Michelle: [00:05:06] I knew that it was paranoia going away because I wasn’t worried anymore about what people thought of me. I didn’t think that my roommate was saying horrible things about me. I didn’t care if this person hated me. I didn’t care if that person hated me. I was just going to live my life and I was going to be happy and I was confident in the things that I was saying because I didn’t feel judgment anymore. I was in a constant judgment, not by other people, but more like by a voice in my head, almost saying, what you just said was so stupid, you’re so dumb. That was gone. The paranoia was just gone. It was amazing. Gabe: [00:05:46] Well, is it still gone? Michelle: [00:05:47] Yeah, it pretty much is gone, unless I just got off my meds, then it will come back. Gabe: [00:05:52] Well we’re not gonna go off meds. Michelle: [00:05:53] Right. OK. Gabe: [00:05:54] But one of the reasons that you don’t go off of your meds… I mean one of the many, many, many reasons that you don’t go off your meds is because you don’t want to think that your mom’s trying to kill you or that your roommate’s trying to kill you or that your co-host is trying to kill you or that you’re just… on and on and on and on and on, like you don’t have this fear that people are running around trying to kill you. Michelle: [00:06:12] Exactly. Gabe: [00:06:12] You realize that you, a schizophrenic, are ahead of half the country right now, who think that people from other countries are trying to come here and kill them. Michelle: [00:06:20] If that’s what you want to say, then, Gabe, yes, sure. Gabe: [00:06:23] Hey, there’s like constant debates going on about this constantly like people are afraid of the unknown and people are worried about this, but that’s not paranoia then, that’s just like… or is it? I mean I’m being serious here. I’m not trying to make a political point, so get that out of your head. Michelle: [00:06:38] Well, people who are afraid of like the zombie apocalypse. Gabe: [00:06:42] No, no. The zombie apocalypse can’t happen because zombies aren’t real. But there are people who are really really worried that other countries are going to attack America or that other cultures are going to impede upon their culture, like this is a real fear politically and we as an American culture are constantly arguing this. Michelle: [00:07:05] I think that’s more of a society thing. The paranoia I’m talking about was paranoid for myself and in my own head. I wasn’t thinking about paranoia of society. I was just thinking about paranoia of myself, thinking that I was the most horrible person ever because everything I said was stupid and everybody hated me, until I realized I was making all of that up and it was all in my head and none of that was true. People might not have liked me, but it really… if they didn’t, I didn’t care anymore because I didn’t hate myself anymore, because there was nobody in my head telling me that everything I said was so dumb. Gabe: [00:07:43] When it comes to paranoia and talk about being paranoid, there’s a couple of quotes that always stand out in my mind. One of them is, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t out to get you. What do you think about that? As somebody who is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, what do you think of that? Michelle: [00:08:00] That quote? That somebody may be out to get me? Gabe: [00:08:04] No. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you. As you know, you were paranoid that your mother was trying to kill you. This was completely untrue, right? Your mother was not trying to kill you. Okay. And then you were paranoid that your roommate was trying to kill you. Completely untrue. Michelle: [00:08:20] Right. Gabe: [00:08:20] Because that was just a delusion. It was it was part of your illness. Michelle: [00:08:25] Right. Gabe: [00:08:26] But imagine if your roommate was trying to kill you you’d still have paranoid schizophrenia, right? You’d still be paranoid. Michelle: [00:08:36] I suppose, yeah. But I knew that she wasn’t trying to kill me and that’s when I realized I was paranoid. Gabe: [00:08:45] But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you. Michelle: [00:08:48] That’s exactly how I felt in 9th grade. That everybody hated me and my teacher made the joke, I’m not paranoid, just everybody hates me. Gabe: [00:08:57] That’s so unreasonable. Like why would everybody hate your English teacher. Michelle: [00:09:01] No, no, he was just making a joke of what a student would say. So I went and he said that I was like, wait a minute, is it my paranoia that everybody hates me or does everybody actually hate me? But in ninth grade I was… I heard it. I thought, I’m a paranoid. No, no. Everybody does hate me. Gabe: [00:09:22] It just didn’t click. Michelle: [00:09:23] It didn’t click. Thinking back to that, now. How did that not click in my head? In 9th grade. That I was paranoid. Gabe: [00:09:32] Yeah, yeah. Michelle: [00:09:33] It took four years later for me to realize, Oh my God, I am the paranoid one. It was me all the time. Gabe: [00:09:40] We’ll be right back after we hear from our sponsor. Narrator: [00:09:42] 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: [00:10:10] And we’re back talking about paranoia. But I still want to touch on… you’re not paranoid anymore, like it went away for you. Michelle: [00:10:20] I stopped caring what other people thought of me. Gabe: [00:10:23] But how? There is nobody listening to this show that doesn’t want to know the answer to that question. How do you stop caring about what other people think? Michelle: [00:10:33] I just became confident. Gabe: [00:10:35] But how? These are all things that you became. These are all final destinations. We want to hear that. We need the directions. We don’t want to hear that you went to McDonald’s. We want to know how you got there, like what streets did you turn on? Give us the G.P.S. coordinates so that we can get to McDonald’s, too. Michelle: [00:10:52] I went to college. I made great friends. I joined the lacrosse team. I became an amazing lacrosse player. I made All Conference. I became captain, then I, you know, I worked in some jobs but what brought down my confidence was losing jobs. But through all those jobs, I gained a lot of experience. I started my own business. I designed websites very well. My graphic design became even better. I have a successful business. We have this amazing podcast. I’m very happy with my life. Gabe: [00:11:25] But how, how? Michelle: [00:11:27] What I see in my life is accomplishments, make me feel better about myself. I see myself… I’ve made accomplishments and I become confident because of it. I know that I could be way more successful. To some people, I’m not successful at all. But for me in my life, what I’ve been given throughout my life right now, what I’m doing, I feel confident in who I am and if somebody… I’ve learned, you know, in my life you love me or you hate me. If you hate me, I don’t care. Don’t talk to me. If you like me, then talk to me. Gabe: [00:12:00] But some of us – and by some of us, I mean me, and I would venture to guess many of our listeners – that’s not good enough. We dwell on the people who hate us. Michelle: [00:12:09] I dwell on the people who hate me, too. I do. I do dwell, but I know what if I’m dwelling… I tried to talk to people who I know who are my friends. I dwell on past situations. I lost many, many jobs where I dwell on what I did wrong or a co-worker that got me in trouble or at this with HR. And those things come into my head and it just makes me angry, makes me angry that those things happened. But I’m so happy that I got through those situations. Did you get me to where I am now, where I feel fully confident in my situations, and I think if I work hard enough I can do what I need to do. Gabe: [00:12:47] So you’re content with your life. Michelle: [00:12:50] Yes. Gabe: [00:12:52] How? Like how? I’m not content with my life. And listen I’m not saying this to be a jerk, but my house is bigger and I drive a nicer car and I have more money and my clothes were not made by me. In fairness, you are a very talented clothing designer and that was just kind of a joke. But I just… you know, listen, none of this stuff has led to this contentment that you. Michelle: [00:13:19] What do I need to do to be successful? It means success. Gabe: [00:13:22] I don’t know. What define success is not a next shirt. Michelle: [00:13:26] I don’t understand. When can I be fully confident, because who… like a movie star, what are the movies? There’s been movies. Marilyn Monroe killed herself, yet everybody loved her and said how beautiful she was. Was she not confident enough? Gabe: [00:13:42] Marilyn Monroe suffered from depression. She abused drugs and alcohol. And there’s even more to the story that we don’t know because you know she’s a celebrity and not like a person that we were able to talk to. But I think that maybe you don’t understand what I’m asking. I just… I understand that you’re saying that you’re looking objectively at your facts. And Michelle, your facts are amazing. You are an amazing person and a lot of people should aspire to be as amazing as you are. I’m not trying to take that away from you. I’m just saying that there are a lot of people that have achieved amazing things, they’ve graduated college, they’ve met wonderful people, they have wonderful friends, they’re in stable relationships, they have good jobs, and they’re still depressed, they’re still paranoid, they’re still unhappy. What did you do that, even though you have all of these negatives, you’re not concentrating on them? You are instead concentrating on your positives, because I’m sorry, in the middle of the night, it doesn’t really matter what I’ve achieved. All I can focus on is everything that I have ever fucked up, always. And I can’t get that thought out of my head. Michelle: [00:14:53] I know a pill you can take at nighttime that will knock you out. You won’t think the idea that. I have to say, it probably is also due to the fact that I take seven medications daily. Gabe: [00:15:03] It’s the combination of medication therapy, introspection, and radical acceptance. Michelle: [00:15:09] Oh, definitely. Gabe: [00:15:11] As you said, you know that other people are more successful than you and you’ve even acknowledged that you can be more successful, but you’re content now because you choose to be content. And there probably isn’t a way that you can teach the rest of us to be content, except to maybe just be confident in our own abilities and give ourselves permission to be happy. Michelle: [00:15:33] Yeah, I wanted a conversation with somebody where it just kind of came off that I’ve taken a lot of criticism in my life, like a lot of criticism. So as people try to say things to me, you might disagree, but I can just take the criticism from a lot of people and it doesn’t bother me that much. I played sports my whole life. Where your coach just tells you all the time what you’re doing wrong all the time. Always, like but you learn and you get better at sports and sometimes it pays off. You’ve become All Conference and you become captain. There you go. Gabe: [00:16:10] And then you win and you’ll win the title, win. Michelle: [00:16:13] But sometimes you lose. You can work the hardest you’ve ever worked ever, and you can think you’re the greatest lacrosse player you’ve ever been. But you can still lose the game, but you know you tried your best. Even though you lost, you might be crying later, but you can say that you tried your best. Gabe: [00:16:33] You can try again. Michelle: [00:16:35] Well, not really. I mean if this SUNYAC tournament is over, your out of it. You lose the tournament. Gabe: [00:16:40] That was just an analogy for life. You can try again tomorrow at life. Dust yourself off and try again. Listen, I think that one of the coolest things that I ever heard somebody say is that you can work really, really hard and you can do all of the right things. And maybe, maybe you will win the Super Bowl, and that’s amazing. But the season’s going to start over. And last year’s Super Bowl champion is this year’s nobody because the whole thing starts over. Life isn’t that clean, life doesn’t have seasons as far as the same way that like sports do. But every day that you wake up is a day to start over. Listen, I know that you’re not as tough as you project. I know that you’re Schizophrenic.NYC or that you’re the bad-ass New Yorker. You have called me up, upset at the e-mails that people have sent you. You get discouraged by failures that you’ve had. You get really defensive when I tell you that you could be a better public speaker and that you need to practice. I know that you have self-esteem issues the same way that everybody else does. But what’s amazing about you is that you can put all of that aside and you can pat yourself on the back for the things that you’ve accomplished. And I can’t always do that. And I do admire that in you. I wish that I could spend more time complimenting myself. I wish that I could spend equal amounts of time complimenting myself as I do criticizing myself, because I basically just criticize myself 98% of the time and about 2% of the time I’m like, hey I did a good job. Michelle: [00:18:10] That’s great. Then you know it makes you feel good when I get an order. Gabe: [00:18:13] When you get an order of what? Michelle: [00:18:18] I’m just… no, I’m saying like if I mean, even if I’m depressed or whatever, you never know. My phone bings that I got an order on my website. I’m ecstatic. Somebody went to my website and bought one of my items. Gabe: [00:18:31] So you’re saying that right now, if somebody goes to GabeHoward.com and buys my new book, Mental Illness is an Asshole, that that will make me happy? Michelle: [00:18:38] Well it makes… I’m just saying that something that makes me happy. I think it should make you happy. Would it not? Gabe: [00:18:45] No, it would and it’s a great book and I hope that people do check it out, but I don’t want people to think that this is a shameless plug. I’m just saying that there is more to life than people buying our swag. Michelle: [00:18:55] Oh, yeah. Gabe: [00:18:56] I want people to appreciate the work that we do. Michelle: [00:18:58] But you have to appreciate the little things in life. If you’re just waiting for something big to happen, you’re going to wait forever. Appreciate every little thing and then you become confident. Gabe: [00:19:09] Do you think that that really is maybe some of the problems like people like us have. We’ve sort of bought into the pop culture idea of success where it’s like, you know, in a movie, a movie always starts off like with a problem. That’s how the movie starts. And then the problem turns into like a goal and then the goal turns into like things that you have to accomplish along the way and that’s what makes the plot move forward, you gain a little success. You have a setback and then you gain a little more success and you get a little more success. And then the climax of the movie is like this amazing thing that you did. And it’s just it’s really big and grandiose and spectacular and awesome and there’s music and fireworks and everybody’s hugging and it’s wonderful. And then the movie ends right there. And that’s not real life. In real life, success is like really small. It’s like a pat on the back. It’s like, hey, congratulations. That is really cool. And then people move on and then you wake up the next day and you have to kind of start over. I just… Is that the problem? Have we all been taken in by cinema? Michelle: [00:20:12] Could be. Gabe: [00:20:13] Do you think…? Michelle: [00:20:15] I mean, do you think Sacagawea was ever going to ever expecting to be on a dollar coin? Gabe: [00:20:20] Well, that’s fair. I think a lot of the.. you know, that’s a good point. Actually, I think a lot of people that we look up to with success, most of their success and admiration came years after they died, after their life was over, and people looked back and really thought, Wow, that was… those were amazing accomplishments. Michelle: [00:20:39] Like the people on Mount Rushmore. Did they ever think their faces were going to be carved into a giant stone rock wall? Gabe: [00:20:46] A giant stone rock wall. You mean a mountain. Are you trying to say mountain? Michelle: [00:20:51] Who thought that their face was going to be carved into a mountain? Gabe: [00:20:59] So what you’re saying is those presidents were stoned. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for listening to this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Head over to our store on PsychCentral.com, buy our Define Normal shirt. When they’re gone, they’re gone, unless of course we print more. Please leave us a review on… where do they leave reviews, Michelle? Michelle: [00:21:20] iTunes. Gabe: [00:21:21] Yeah iTunes and GooglePlay and Spotify and Stitcher and you can leave them on Facebook. Leave a comment. Just show us lots of love. We would really really appreciate it. Michelle: [00:21:31] Gabe needs the confidence. Gabe: [00:21:32] Gabe needs confidence, confidence in the form of comments. You can e-mail us at show@psychcentral.com. Tell us nice things. Especially how Gabe is better than Michelle. Thank you everybody. We’ll see you next week. Michelle: [00:21:44] Paranoia!! Narrator: [00:21:46] 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 PsychCentrald.com/bsp you can e-mail us at show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening and share widely. Gabe: [00:22:22] I always do this. Don’t do the accent just just your regular voice paranoia. Pretty annoying stuff. Michelle: [00:22:28] That’s how I would yell at Gabe. I don’t understand. Gabe: [00:22:31] It was you yell shit at me!!!!!! AHHHHHHHH 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. In speaking with an intelligent, creative, articulate young woman, a concept was raised that referenced her primary area of challenge. It comes in the form of discomfort with initiating conversation with new and unknown people or sustaining communication once she has engaged in it. “I didn’t get the rulebook everyone else did,” she said. “I don’t know how to act and don’t know what to say, as a result.” She wondered if some people are hardwired to be communicators. I assured her that there is no rulebook we are given at birth. We all have the opportunity to write it as we go along. We can also edit and re-script the narrative if something doesn’t work for us. Then we pondered if it is nature or nurture that allows people to feel at ease in communication. She was born into a family in which being reticent is the norm and into a culture that is considered by many to be reserved and keeping emotions close to the vest. Politeness is valued in her country of origin. Body language speaks volumes as well. She described her style as walking down the street in closed posture, eyes down, looking in front of her so as not to draw attention. It wasn’t out of fear for her safety, but rather since she didn’t want anyone to notice her and begin to talk. She preferred to think she was invisible, even though she clearly knows she isn’t. Her concern was “uh oh, what if a conversation starts and there is an awkward silence that I don’t know how to fill?” Conversation is a two-way street and the other people are equally responsible for the flow of it. Like many who feel shy or socially ill at ease, she is more at home speaking with those she knows and trusts or if someone she knows and trusts introduces her to new people. I was raised by parents who were gregarious, although my mother claimed to be shy, I didn’t notice it. They had extended circles of friends. My father was more the life of the party than my mother, although I would say he was loud, attention grabbing. A cousin observed that the party actually began when he arrived. He could begin and continue a conversation with nearly anyone about almost any topic. He could, as a friend attributed to her husband as well, “have a conversation with algae.” He also knew when to step back and let other people take center stage. If it was something with which he was not familiar, he would listen until he found something he could latch on to and then ask about it. He was not a Rhodes Scholar, by any stretch; instead a blue-collar worker, (milkman-truck driver and bus driver) but he did have a PhD in people. My mother was learned in listening, a skill she developed, I imagine, by being one of many cousins with whom she was raised. Her mother was one of 13 children and many of them had children who were her playmates early on in her life. If memory serves, she was also the only girl, which meant that she likely got talked over a lot. She was able to speak her mind assertively if need be, as an adult. Every one of her jobs throughout my childhood involved being able to speak articulately. She was an Avon rep, gate guard at our community swimming pool, columnist for a local newspaper, and for most of the rest of her life until retirement at 65, a switchboard operator at Sears. I almost never saw either of them at a loss for words. I learned from masters how to listen and speak my mind, although I can’t always say I did it as assertively or in a straightforward manner as I would like to have done earlier in my life. Now in my 60s with decades of experience being less afraid of rocking the boat, I am able to jump into conversation that would have been daunting before. I envision it as being like standing on the sidewalk as others are holding on to either end of a jump rope while it swings overhead and then hits the ground, waiting for the right moment to sneak under the overhead arch of the rope before it comes back around. Once I have entered, hopefully gracefully into the exercise and the conversation, my intention is to keep up for as long as possible. I have learned to sprinkle listening in with expression of feelings. I can walk into nearly any setting, much like my father, ‘take the temperature of the room’ and get a sense of who might be approachable. There was a time when I was reactive and sometimes withdrawn, coming from a place of fear and insecurity, rather than responsive from a position of self-assurance and calm certainty. I can safely say that the tide has turned in the opposite direction. When once I held back sharing my truth because I didn’t want to alienate, inconvenience, attract disapproval, or make waves, now I am clear that I have the right to do so, even if someone disagrees, for whatever reason they may have. I don’t blast anyone if we have differences of opinion and in the current political climate, being outspoken has its risks. Does my heart speed up as I anticipate what may be a difficult conversation? Sure, it does. The only difference is that I feel the fear and do it anyone, but not in an aggressive manner. Talking to strangers has become the norm for me, whether on the street, in places of transportation (like airports, train stations and bus depots), at the gym and in supermarkets. I never know what will transpire as a result. I have made friends that way or at the very last, left us seeming more uplifted from the encounter. I encouraged the woman to practice making micro-movements in this area by even briefly making eye contact and offering a smile to people in the grocery store where she was headed. She agreed to do so with the intention of creating yet another ‘chapter’ in her own relationship rulebook. View the full article
  5. The therapeutic benefits of journaling have been scientifically proven. Journaling can be an effective tool for stress management, the processing of difficult emotions, and creating personal growth. It has also been linked to important health benefits like decreasing the symptoms of asthma, arthritis, and other health conditions, increasing cognitive functioning, increasing the immune system, and counteracting the negative effects of stress. If you were curious about it, but aren’t quite sure where/how to start, read on for a few tips to help you get started. Buy a Journal This seems like the obvious first step. However, what kind of a journal you purchase is important. You can choose from the most beautiful blank books you can find, to a more functional notebook, or your computer. If you go with the blank book option, you can decide between lined or blank pages, with a variety of pens. Use your book to reflect your creativity, or go with functionality first. It’s all up to you and your tastes. Just go with something you feel comfortable with. Set Aside Time One of the most difficult aspects of journaling is not the journaling itself, but finding time to write. It’s important to block off about twenty minutes each day to write, but if you find it difficult to set aside that much time, especially in the beginning, even taking five minutes to jot down a few ideas is better than waiting until you have the full twenty — that could make the difference between forming a habit and merely the memory of when you wanted to create this new habit. Many people prefer to write in the morning as a way to start their day, or before bed as a way to reflect upon and process the day’s events. However, if your lunch break or some other time is the only window you have, take the time whenever you can get it! Begin Writing Just start. Don’t think about what to say; just begin writing and the words will come. However, if they don’t come automatically, having some ideas to prompt you can get your fingers moving. If you need some help getting started, here are some topics to begin the process: The best and worst days of your life If you could have three wishes… Your possible purpose in life Your childhood memories and surrounding feelings Where you’d like to be in two years Your dreams/hopes/fears What was important to you five years ago, and what’s important to you now What are you grateful for? You might want to start with just one thing, big or small What aspect(s) of your life need improving How is your mental/physical/emotional health What are some challenges you are dealing with at the moment Best/Worst case scenario Write about Thoughts and Feelings As you write, don’t just vent negative emotions or catalog events; write about your feelings, but also your thoughts surrounding emotional events. Research shows much greater benefits from journaling when participants write about emotional issues from a mental and emotional framework. Relive events emotionally, try to construct solutions and find the lesson(s) learned. Using both aspects of yourself helps you process the event, be more constructive (not reactive), and find solutions to lingering problems. Keep Your Journal Private If you’re worried that someone else may read your journal, you’re much more likely to self-censor, and you won’t achieve the same benefits from writing. To prevent the worry and maximize journaling effectiveness, you can either get a book that locks or keep your book in a locked or hidden place. If using a computer, you can password-protect your journal so you’ll feel safe when you write. Additional Tips: Try to write each day. Writing for at least 20 minutes is ideal, but if you only have 5 minutes, write for 5. If you skip a day or 3, just keep writing when you can. Don’t let a few days of skipping discourage you from continuing to write in your journal. Don’t worry about neatness or even grammar. Just getting your thoughts and feelings on paper is more important than perfection. Try not to self-censor; let go of “shoulds”, and just write what comes. In the end of the day, all you will really need is a journal, an open and honest mind/heart, a pen or a computer, and a few minutes of quiet privacy each day. Sounds like a no brainer since it’s cost effective, a smart investment for your sanity/mental health, and not to mention an easy nonpharmacological way to beat bouts of anxiety. References: Anderson, C.M., & Mesrobian Maccurdy, M. (1999). Writing and Healing: Toward an Informed Practice. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English. Ullrich, P.M., & Lutgendorf, S.K. (2002). Journaling About Stressful Events: Effects of Cognitive Processing and Emotional Expression. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 24(3): 244-50. View the full article
  6. Since she was 10 years old, Sophie Riegel felt like something was off. “My friends all seemed so carefree. And I had the weight of the world holding me down.” Riegel writes these words in her beautiful, invaluable new book, Don’t Tell Me to Relax: One Teens’ Journey to Survive Anxiety (And How You Can Too). Shortly after, in middle school, Riegel was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), trichotillomania, generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. As a parent, you also think that something is off with your teen. They haven’t said anything, but you can feel the difference in their demeanor or behavior. Maybe your teen has become more avoidant, and refuses to participate in activities they usually enjoy. Maybe they’re having stomach pain, nausea, headaches and/or heart palpitations, which aren’t related to a medical issue. According to OCD and anxiety specialist Natasha Daniels, LCSW, these could be signs that your teen is struggling with anxiety.* Maybe your teen has told you directly that they’re struggling. Either way, you’re not sure what to do. These tips can help. Don’t be dismissive. When trying to support your teen, you might unwittingly minimize and dismiss their struggles, which can create distance and disconnection. “When we as parents try to normalize a teen’s anxiety, they may get the message that we don’t understand. This can shut down any further openness about their true struggles,” said Daniels, author of Anxiety Sucks: A Teen Survival Guide. In Don’t Tell Me to Relax, Riegel (and her mom) share examples of what not to say to your teen: “Maybe this is just a phase.” “Just smile” (“This is the equivalent of telling someone who just got shot to put on a bandage.”) “In a few days, you won’t even remember this.” “You always get over this. You are fine.” “You just need to get out more. Maybe if you exercise more, you will feel better.” “You are overreacting.” “Do you know how bad you make me feel when you won’t talk to me?” “There is nothing to worry about.” “That doesn’t make any sense.” “Relax.” Daniels stressed the importance of validating your teen’s experience and empathizing with how hard it must be. Below are examples of what is helpful to say from Riegel’s book: “Is there something that I am doing that is contributing to your feeling this way?” (“This is a great alternative to ‘What am I doing wrong? I didn’t raise you to be mentally ill,’ or ‘Why are you so screwed up? Was it something I did?’”) “I’m here for you.” “I don’t understand what you are going through, but I would love to hear how you are feeling. Maybe we could learn about this together.” Empower your teen to problem solve. Perspective is key in helping teens reduce their anxiety (and knowing how to problem solve is a critical lifelong skill). But “instead of telling your teen why they should think differently, ask them questions like, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ and ‘If that happened what could you do?’” said Daniels. She noted that this is important to do when your child isn’t in a state of panic. Share valuable resources. Let your teen know that there are many ways to effectively navigate and reduce their anxiety. This includes seeing a therapist, attending group therapy, taking online courses and reading books about anxiety, Daniels said. In addition to Anxiety Sucks, she recommended Lisa Schab’s The Anxiety Workbook for Teens. Daniels offers an online class for teens (and adults) with social anxiety called Crush Social Anxiety. She noted that CBT School by Kimberley Quinlan also is a great resource. Involve your teen in the decision-making process. “If you make all the decisions for [your teen] or force them to seek help, they’ll be closed off and resentful,” Daniels said. “And even the best therapist will have a hard time making progress with an angry teen.” A better approach, she said, is to tell your teen that it’s critical to “build their skills and get help in some capacity.” Then “offer them several books, several classes and several therapists and have them choose which will work best for them.” Today, Riegel is a high school senior. She still experiences anxiety before taking a test, speaking and doing interviews, but it’s not as debilitating. Her panic attacks also have decreased. When her anxiety is at its peak, she can’t feel her legs, and therefore can’t walk. She feels like she’s “in a fog,” and her “mind goes blank.” Her hands “go numb,” and her “tongue feels like it’s swelling,” which makes her slur her words. However, the difference is that now she knows what to do. Riegel has “an amazing support system,” which includes her parents and twin brother. She attends therapy several times a month. She takes medication and regularly checks in with her psychiatrist. She works out, and cares for her rescue dog, Nash—which has been especially transformative. “Getting Nash changed my life. Having her near me keeps me grounded. [Caring for her] is a responsibility that I take very seriously and makes me realize that my worries aren’t my biggest priority. Nash and I walk together when I feel anxious. She cuddles up next to me when I panic, reminding me that I am not alone. Nash doesn’t let me ruminate or obsess, as she is always distracting me with her needs.” When Riegel was in middle school, she gave a presentation about OCD to her class because she wanted mental illness to be taken seriously. “But it only made things worse. I was still bullied, and my mental health started to deteriorate.” However, years later, a fellow student reached out to Riegel to tell her that because of that presentation, she started going to therapy. This helped Riegel realize that being open about her mental illness could help others feel less alone and seek help, which inspired her to write her book. “I am living, breathing proof that it is possible to have an anxiety disorder and be successful,” Riegel said. “I am successful not despite having a mental illness, but because of it.” Riegel uses her anxiety as fuel to accomplish her goals. She’s a straight-A student, All-American athlete, and the president of the board of directors of Here.Now., a Jewish mental health advocacy organization. She’s attending Duke University in the fall. Riegel said that her anxiety has made her a much better listener and friend. She’s learned what helps her when she’s feeling anxious, and she tries to do the same for others. Riegel understands that her anxiety doesn’t define her, but “it is important. Without my mental illness, I wouldn’t be who I am today. If I could go back in time and prevent my mental illness, I wouldn’t.” Help your teen learn to manage their anxiety and channel it. Teach them to empower themselves. They’ll be better for it. *These are other signs of anxiety in teens. View the full article
  7. The intensity of Maureen “Marzi” Wilson’s anxiety varies day to day. Some days, it’s a “mild uneasiness,” a nagging feeling that she’s forgotten something important. “Other days, it’s closer to terror, a horrible premonition that something catastrophic is imminent,” she said. The outward expression varies, too. Sometimes, she fidgets. Other times, she’s “sitting in the corner of a closet wrapped in a blanket.” Because “some days are harder than others,” she said. Wilson has been struggling with anxiety since she was a teen. Several years ago, she was trying to figure out the best way to cope with her anxiety, which prompted her to start creating illustrations online. She’d also taken a personality quiz, and discovered that she’s an introvert. She wanted to understand more about her introversion and her anxiety. As she writes in her insightful, inspiring, funny, poignant book Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety, “I’d assumed that my limited social circle and my preference for solitude were due solely to anxiety. But it turns out I’m an introvert who has anxiety. And I became committed to understanding what that means.” Wilson created a doodle named “Marzi,” who’s trying to figure out how to navigate life as an introvert who also struggles with anxiety at IntrovertDoodles.com. For Wilson, creating these illustrations helps her to express her “fears and hopes in a therapeutic way.” “It “enables me to make sense of my feelings. Writing and drawing help to clarify my intentions, and that makes it easier to follow through on my goals,” she said. That’s the thing about creating and making: It helps us to better understand who we are. It helps us to unravel our many layers, and brings us closer to our core. And, ultimately, it helps us to cope with our struggles, whether those struggles are around having anxiety or depression, losing a loved one, or dealing with a painful situation (or all of the above). Wilson noted that releasing our thoughts “onto paper or canvas [can keep] them from taking up space in your head.” And that can provide meaningful relief—and insight. When we use creativity as a tool to work through our thoughts, feelings and challenges, we can make sense of our inner turmoil, and even soothe it. We can get to its root. And we acknowledge, name and honor our experience, which is a powerful way to care for and bolster our well-being. Here are five ways you can use creativity to explore and cope with whatever you’re struggling with. Describe the details. In Kind of Coping, Wilson illustrates what it’s like to live with anxiety on a regular basis. For instance, in one illustration, she notes that anxiety is problems with prioritizing (“I don’t know what to do first!”), and thinking that every decision you make is wrong. It’s “bodily mutiny,” with headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, nausea, shaking, sweating and exhaustion. It’s irrational thoughts: “Nobody likes me,” “I’m a failure,” “Something terrible is going to happen,” “I’m so stupid,” “I’m not safe.” It’s “messy moods,” such as overwhelmed and irritable and afraid and detached. Spend some time identifying the details of your struggle. Then draw these details. You might create a comic like Wilson. Or you might think about the different creative outlets you enjoyed as a child—making up stories, drawing animals, keeping a diary, dancing—and use those to explore and name the specifics of your struggle and situation. Paint the whirl of emotions. Focus solely on your feelings. How are you feeling right now? Channel those feelings into a painting, letting them dictate the colors you use and what you create. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed, so you splash paint onto your paper, and move it around with your hands. Maybe you decide to depict what your depression feels like during the course of a day using different shapes. Maybe you decide to paint your grief in its messy, multilayered stages. Write about the quality of your feelings. It can be hard to put into words precisely what we’re feeling. In Writing for Emotional Balance: A Guided Journal to Help You Manage Overwhelming Emotions, psychologist Beth Jacobs, Ph.D, notes that “Emotions can blend together like watercolors, and a physical sensation such as a knot in your stomach can indicate a variety of feelings ranging from excited anticipation to anxiety to fear or rage.” Which is why she suggests exploring the qualities of our feelings with these sentences: If this feeling was a color, it would be …. If this feeling was weather, it would be …. If this feeling was a landscape, it would be …. It this feeling was music, it would be …. It this feeling was one object, it would be …. Create a conversation. Write out a conversation between you and whatever you’re struggling with. Maybe that’s a conversation between you and your anxiety. Maybe it’s a conversation between you and a mistake you made. Maybe it’s a conversation between you and a trait of yours, which you’ve been disappointed about (e.g., your shyness, your sensitivity, your introversion). Use your genuine curiosity to delve deeper. What do you want to know about this situation, this illness, this challenge, this trait? You might ask questions like: What do you want to tell me? What are you trying to teach me? Why? What do you need right now? What are you really upset about? What’s on your mind? How can we become a team? Use creativity for encouragement. At the end of Kind of Coping, Wilson features an illustration of the many reasons to keep going: the blooming of a plant you grew, clean sheets, constellations, the first sip of coffee in the morning and the sparkling of grass with early morning dew. Consider drawing your own reasons to keep going, seemingly small reasons that put a smile on your face or soothe your soul. Or think of another way you can use your creativity to encourage, support and uplift yourself. Maybe you write yourself a letter or a poem. Maybe you snap photos of everyone and everything you love, and create a collage or a small, tangible album. You can keep it with you, and look through it any time you need some comfort and a reminder of all the beauty and love that surrounds you. Or maybe you create something else that gives you hope, like this other illustration from Wilson’s book: Creativity is just one way we can cope. For instance, Wilson’s comics complement her other coping strategies: She sees a therapist once a week, takes medication, practices self-care and stress management, and uses cognitive techniques for redirecting anxious thoughts. She also bakes, sews and skates, which are hobbies, she said, that are calming and provide a sense of purpose. Plus, “lots of puppy cuddles” help, too. Through her illustrations, Wilson said that she’s lucky to have found an incredibly supportive community on Instagram (@introvertdoodles). “The most beautiful part of this journey for me has been realizing that I’m not as alone or as weird as I thought I was…I’m not the only one learning out how to (kind of) cope, and neither are you! It’s something we can figure out together.” And that’s another powerful benefit of creativity: connecting over our shared humanity. Or, in short, kinship. All images are from Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety. View the full article
  8. Have you ever wondered why two people can share the exact same situation, yet experience it differently? Neural pathways are often described as a type of super-highway of nerve cells, the function of which is to transmit messages. Much like a walking track in the bush, the more you walk over it, the more trodden and clear it becomes. The same thing happens when we engage in behaviors such as thinking certain thoughts with a high degree of regularity. You see the brain consumes between 20-30% of the caloric burn in our body at rest. It uses so much energy because it’s so complex and so it has needed to evolve and adapt in order to automate various processes as a way of conserving energy. This is why and how regular behaviors become habits (or things we seemingly do without a great deal of conscious thought). Think about something simple like brushing your teeth. You can brush them just fine, no problem but what if I asked you to use your non-dominant hand to do that instead? You’d suddenly have to think about the action of your arm and the motion of your wrist or hand. It would be hard at first because it’s unfamiliar, but if you persevered with it, over time, it would become easier as the task became more familiar. This is an example of neuroplasticity and can be thought of as “re-wiring your brain.” So now you know in general terms how neural pathways work and their function, we can proceed to look at beliefs. Perhaps you are familiar with the famous metaphor of the iceberg where the tip represents conscious thought and everything below the water line represents subconscious thought. The subconscious mind holds our beliefs, many of which we acquired as we were growing up. The function of a belief is in part to help us make sense of the world around us. It creates a filter for our brain to receive, store, interpret and recall information picked up from the world around us by our senses and it automates the way our brain processes information. In order for a thought (which occurs in the conscious mind) to become a belief, it must be repeated. It’s this repetition that allows a neural pathway to be created. Here’s an example. Let’s imagine that growing up, you heard your parents say things like “you have to work hard to get ahead.” You heard it a lot. Now imagine that you too now hold the belief (without realizing it) that you have to work hard in order to make money. So you work long hours nearly every day. It affects your marriage, you stop seeing your friends due to your work commitments, and you stop going to the gym. You don’t sleep well at night and you are often irritable or grumpy because you feel pressured to make the money. If you hold a belief that “you have to work hard to make money”, then that is what will show up in your reality. Your mind will filter out all of the information that it thinks is unimportant and will only bring you the information you’ve told it is important with your belief. So that’s all you see when, in fact, the reality might be very different. Sometimes beliefs are healthy and other times, they work against us. The good news is that there is a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System or the RAS and part of its role is to actively seek out the information that you tell it to. So, if you want to change a belief the RAS can be your greatest asset! The RAS transmits information between the conscious and subconscious minds and the other beautiful thing about it is that it doesn’t question you at all. Whatever you tell it, it will believe because it does not distinguish between fact and fiction. It simply obeys commands from your conscious mind. But changing a belief takes time and consistent practice. There are many ways to help your subconscious mind adopt new thinking styles though and these include things like visualization, using your imagination, meditating, acting as-if, using journal prompts to uncover beliefs and develop healthier alternatives, using affirmations (they work on repetition and hence create new neural pathways) and through the use of story. Hypnosis is another effective way of speeding up the process of changing beliefs because it goes almost directly to the subconscious. It can be more efficient than some other approaches but as with all interventions, is not without its limitations so won’t work for everyone. One very effective tool that you can use to change a belief is listening to audio narrative such a meditation recording or an affirmation recording. This works best in the last five minutes before you go to sleep and in the first five minutes upon waking because that is when the subconscious mind is most receptive to information. You can prime your brain to develop the neural pathways that you prefer to have by doing things like listening to audio at these times. When you change your beliefs by redirecting your conscious thought, you can change your belief (filter) and when you change your filter, you change your experience of the world around you, otherwise referred to as your reality. If you are consistent with your practice, you will be begin to see things differently in no time. How would you prefer to feel today? References Goldstein, E. (2011). Cognitive Psychology (Third ed., pp. 24-76). N.p.: Linda Schreiber-Ganster. Liou, S. (2010, June 26). Neuroplasticity. In web.stanford.edu. Retrieved February 6, 2019, from http://web.stanford.edu/group/hopes/cgi-bin/hopes_test/neuroplasticity/ Martindale, C. (1991). Cognitive psychology: A neural-network approach. Belmont, CA, US: Thomson Brooks/Cole Publishing Co. Neurons, . (2013, May 6). Neurons. In www.biology-pages.info. Retrieved February 6, 2019, from http://www.biology-pages.info/N/Neurons.html Tassell, D. V. (2004). Neural Pathway Development. In www.brains.org. Retrieved February 6, 2019, from http://www.brains.org Walker, A. (2014, July 1). How Your Thought Pathways Affect Your Life. In www.drwalker.com. Retrieved February 6, 2019, from http://www.drawalker.com/blog/how-your-thought-pathways-create-your-life View the full article
  9. “PTSD is a whole-body tragedy, an integral human event of enormous proportions with massive repercussions.” ― Susan Pease Banitt This question came up in conversation when I was speaking with someone who has experienced severe panic attacks to the point of calling them “debilitating”, requiring inpatient care. As they were sharing about the ordeal, they told me that when they contemplate the time spent seeking treatment and the aftermath, it ramped up both the anxiety and PTSD symptoms. Even as a career therapist with decades of experience treating people with stand-alone anxiety, with no overt PTSD symptoms, I had not considered that remembering the anxiety was re-traumatizing. I have heard clients share that anticipating panic attacks was in and of itself anxiety provoking. For this person and so many others, it is hard to determine the line between the two. As is the case for many who struggle with this condition, they experienced body memory, flashbacks and tremors, as if the events of the past were recurring. Reminding themselves, “I am here and now, not there and then,” alleviated some of the more intense indicators. This person is also intent on taking on challenges and resilience is one of their superpowers. Overcoming life changing physical conditions were part of the symbolic exercise equipment that helped them to become stronger and more flexible. They were aware that life events happen, unbidden at times and all they can do is ride the waves, sometimes treading water, until things settle back into place. Having solid support from family, friends and professionals keeps them afloat. Although it might be hard to acknowledge an upside to anxiety or trauma, this person and others I have encountered in both personal and professional realms have been grateful for accompanying lessons. Keep in mind, that no one is sugar-coating it, nor are they denying the pain. They are making a conscious decision to face what comes their way. Paradoxically, the one certainty of life is uncertainty. A catch-22, since anxiety thrives on unpredictability. The field of Positive Psychology, which offers a strengths-focused perspective to recovery from traumatic experiences, was pioneered by psychologist Martin Seligman, who directs the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. One concept in this approach is post-traumatic growth, which reflects counterintuitive responses to horrific circumstances. Research from Lawrence G. Calhoun and Richard G. Tedeschi of the University of North Carolina Charlotte found that survivors of trauma often experienced profound healing, a stronger spiritual faith and philosophical grounding. One powerful reframing is referring to the outcome as Post Traumatic Growth. The 21-item Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory examines responses to painful event in five areas: Relating to others New possibilities Personal strength Spiritual change Appreciation for life When survivors view themselves in that light and additionally as thrivers who give back or pay it forward, rather than as victims who have no choice but to feel as they do, healing is possible. One such thriver is Michele Rosenthal, a keynote speaker, award-winning blogger, award-nominated author, workshop/seminar leader and certified professional coach. Michele is also a trauma survivor who struggled with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for over twenty-five years. She calls herself Chief Hope Officer (CHO) of Your Life After Trauma, LLC. Her trauma came in the form of a condition called, Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis Syndrome (TENS), which she describes as “a freak allergy to a medication that turned me into a full-body burn victim almost overnight.” This horror was followed by a series of physiological and psychological conditions that would flatten even the strongest of people. It took years of determination to recover that led her to be symptom free and now she guides others to overcome their own trauma-trials. What helped her see her way clear to the other side of suffering is what she refers to as a “healing rampage.” Rosenthal says, “It is an approach to recovery that is, 1) committed — we keep going no matter what; 2) consistent — we work at it every day; 3) creative — we look for new options and healing opportunities; and, 4) complex — we do the deep work rather than skim the surface as we seek relief. These are important resiliency building skills regardless of diagnosis or symptomology, whether it falls under the umbrella of anxiety or PTSD. Learn relaxation and breathing techniques to center yourself in the here and now. Do grounding exercises such as walking barefoot on the grass or sand or tapping the bottoms of your feet. If possible, avoid people, places or things that may overtly trigger reaction. Some PTSD survivors may steer clear of fireworks or large numbers of people if loud noises or crowds are related to the initial events. Contemplate an exit strategy if you get inadvertently triggered. Breathe in relaxing aromas, such as lavender, chamomile, vanilla or bergamot. Listen to music that is soul soothing. Seek support from family and friends who may understand your situation and if not, offer a listening presence. Engage in therapy with a licensed professional. If medications are indicated, work with a Psychiatrist or CRNP (Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner) who can prescribe. Attend a self-help group. Utilize the therapeutic modality of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Exercise, whether it is in a gym, or a dance floor or basketball court assists in moving the energy. I think of emotion as ‘e-motion’ or ‘energy in motion’. Spend time in nature which is restorative. Dig in the dirt, and plant seeds for new beginnings. Avoid self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, gambling, work, shopping or food. Indulge in healthy hobbies, such as reading, crafts, music, playing board games, putting together puzzles or models. Volunteer your time in your community. If you have a spiritual practice, use it as an additional therapeutic modality. Determine your passion and live it as fully as you can. Spend time with children and learn how to be silly from them. Lighten up by experiencing Laughter Yoga. Enjoy a pampering therapeutic massage. View the full article
  10.  Panic attacks have a way of popping up at the most inconvenient times – like when you are recording a podcast. In this episode, Gabe has a panic attack in front of the microphone and decides that the silver lining is showing listeners that even someone in recovery has symptoms. Listen in to this episode to learn about panic attacks and see if Gabe makes it out okay. (Spoiler alert: He’s fine.) SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW “We call ourselves recovered, but these symptoms don’t entirely go away.” – Michelle Hammer Highlights From ‘Panic Attack Live’ Episode [2:30] Gabe is having a panic attack and we recorded it. [4:00] What caused this panic attack? [7:40] Gabe’s history of panic attacks. [11:00] Why does Gabe know so much about his own illness? [12:50] Michelle’s presence and this show make Gabe stressed out. [18:00] Is public opinion a stressor? [25:00] Symptoms don’t entirely go away, even with meds. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Host Has a Panic Attack Live While Recording’ Show Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Narrator: [00:00:09] For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Here your hosts Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Michelle: [00:00:19] Welcome to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. I’m Michelle. I have schizophrenia. Gabe: [00:00:25] My name is Gabe. I have bipolar disorder. Michelle: [00:00:27] And today we are talking about panic attacks. Gabe, what happened recently? Gabe: [00:00:35] So I’m going to pull back the curtain a little bit and explain how we’re recording the show. Gabe: [00:00:40] For most of our shows, Michelle gets in an airplane and flies to my house, like that’s how dedicated we are to making good quality shows. Michelle: [00:00:49] The plane actually lands in his front yard. Gabe: [00:00:52] It’s really awesome. I have a giant front yard with an airstrip. Michelle: [00:00:56] Yeah. Gabe: [00:00:58] And we get up in them or we plan the shows, we record the shows, we go get Diet Coke. We strangely end up at Sam’s Club a lot, but we record like a lot of shows all at once. Gabe: [00:01:10] Like this is a big three/four day production to record these shows and we do it a lot. Michelle: [00:01:17] On this particular day, me and Gabe are watching People’s Court and he starts having a panic attack. Maybe it was The People’s Court and Gabe goes, I’m having a panic attack. Let’s go record. Gabe: [00:01:33] Yeah. Then that’s exactly what happened. So what you’re about to hear is a very edited version. You know the actual recording was about 45 minutes, maybe closer to an hour of Gabe having a panic attack and Michelle trying to figure out what the fuck was going on. But we edited it down to about 10 minutes of decent quality audio. It’s a little bit messed up. Some of the cuts aren’t what you would necessarily expect, but we wanted to get the good parts and we didn’t. Nobody wants to hear all of it. Michelle: [00:02:03] Gabe started yelling at me. Gabe: [00:02:06] That was fun. That was fun. So you’re going to listen to that for the next 10 minutes and then Michelle and I will be back to explain what happened. Here we go. Narrator: [00:02:17] Here are your hosts Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Michelle: [00:02:20] Welcome to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. I’m Michelle. I’m schizophrenic. Gabe: [00:02:25] I’m Gabe. I’m bipolar and having a panic attack. Michelle: [00:02:28] Yes, you heard it everybody. Gabe is having a panic attack. Gabe, I wish I knew the best things to say to you right now to help you get out of this panic attack. But do you know what brought on this panic attack? Gabe: [00:02:40] It’s a lot of stress. There’s a lot of… it’s very stressful having Michelle at my house and it’s very stressful having to do a podcast and it’s very stressful having to talk about trying to hold everything together and keep everything… Michelle: [00:02:58] Is your heart just palpitating like crazy right now? Gabe: [00:03:01] I don’t think it’s palpitating, like it’s beating. Michelle: [00:03:03] It’s pounding. Are you sweating? Are you feeling shortness of breath? Are you feel like you’re being smothered? Gabe: [00:03:10] Yes. Michelle: [00:03:11] I know this is like a very terrifying experience for you. How often do you have panic attacks? Gabe: [00:03:17] Couple of times a week. Michelle: [00:03:19] Are they all the same? Gabe: [00:03:21] No, I mean nothing’s all the same, things are just not the same. Look at… Michelle: [00:03:27] What’s going on with your arm that you’re showing me right now? Is your… are you… Are your hands just shaking so much you just can’t keep your hands still? Gabe: [00:03:35] There’s that. But look at all this. Michelle: [00:03:37] You’re changing colors. Gabe: [00:03:38] Look at all the sweat. Michelle: [00:03:40] All the sweat because you’re just so hot, you’re overheated. Gabe: [00:03:44] No I don’t… I don’t think it’s overheated. I think it’s a… Michelle: [00:03:48] What’s the best case scenario that you think would help you right now? Going to bed? Watching more TV? Hanging out with your dog? Gabe: [00:03:57] I usually just eat a lot of like salty… like peanuts or pretzels because just the sensation in my mouth feels better and the crunching distracts me. I don’t know if that makes sense. That just feels good. Michelle: [00:04:15] So this panic attack is brought on by stress by me being here. We have to record a lot of podcasts here, work tomorrow with me over tomorrow on your other podcast for the Psych Central Show… it’s just a lot of things to do and it all kind of just attacked you at once and you’re just kind of losing it in a sense, which is what brought it all on? Was there any like anything said or anything… Was there an external factor or do you think was all internal? Gabe: [00:04:42] No I don’t think anybody did anything wrong. I think this is just my life. Michelle: [00:04:46] Your life for the rest of your life. You think will be like this. Gabe: [00:04:49] Yeah. Michelle: [00:04:49] Do you have a fast acting anti-anxiety pill that you take ever? Gabe: [00:04:55] Yes. Michelle: [00:04:56] Have you taken it? Gabe: [00:04:57] No. Michelle: [00:04:57] Will you be taking it after we start recording? Gabe: [00:05:00] Probably. Michelle: [00:05:02] Are you scared right now? Gabe: [00:05:04] I’m not scared. I don’t think anybody’s going to hurt me. I don’t think that you’re going to hurt me. I don’t think… I don’t have the words to describe. I think the reality of my life. Nobody’s going to believe anything. Michelle: [00:05:18] What do you try and just say we are trying to say we got it. Gabe: [00:05:21] No I just I think that this is… I think that anybody listening to this is going to think that it’s some sort of bullshit stunt. I don’t think that it’s I just I I’m. Michelle: [00:05:30] Panic attacks can be brought on by anything. Nobody is going to think that it’s a stunt, nobody is gonna think that you’re lying. Panic attacks just happen. And even though we come on this podcast all the time and we talk and we banter and we have fun while we talk about mental health and mental illness, people don’t always understand that yes, we are mentally ill and we do go through these things. So it is really good when we share you know our stories and when we’re doing well but also when we’re not doing well and why this happens and just you know instead of you know we call ourselves recovered but yet these things still happen to us. And you know mental illness doesn’t just go away just because we take medicine you know symptoms don’t just go away. They can still appear, they can still really affect us. They can just change the way our thoughts are going, they can just attack you, just panic attacks just attack people within minutes. And I’ve never seen you act like this ever. If you think that people are thinking this is a stunt, what would you say to someone who says like Oh Gabe you’re not having a panic attack, why don’t you just calm down, like panic attacks and for little girls? Gabe: [00:06:46] That’s funny – panic attacks or for little girls. I think you should put that on a shirt. I’ve soaked my jeans with sweat. I’m wearing a hoodie and it’s look that’s from sweat. Maybe you can describe this like describe what you are seeing. Michelle: [00:07:10] I see a sweaty sweatshirt. I was like. you know that I just googled panic attack and this is what it says. A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms. They are palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking sensations, shortness of breath or smothering. I would say you have all of those symptoms right now 100 percent for sure. What is the best way to get you out of these symptoms? What do you wish people would do? What if you were a young girl and when did you start getting panic attacks? Gabe: [00:07:52] The first panic attack that I ever remember having was when I was I was married. Michelle: [00:08:00] Your first wife. Gabe: [00:08:00] Yeah. And we were at the mall with her aunt who was visiting from out of town and we got into an argument. I don’t remember about what. And I was sitting there in the middle of the mall and behind me was an Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. And after they left, I was just so hot and I didn’t know why I was hot. And I felt weird and I thought I was hungry. I got up and bought a couple of pretzels and a drink. And I sat back down and I ate the pretzels and the drink and I just felt better afterward. And whenever I would get that feeling ever again, I thought it was hunger. So whenever I would feel that way, I would just think Oh I’m hungry again and I would I would eat and this went on for years. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that I realized that that these were symptoms of anxiety and panic and they weren’t hunger pains. But I had been treating panic attacks with food. I mean you know I weighed 500 and I mean I don’t know how much I weighed then but you know my maximum weight was five hundred and fifty pounds. So it wasn’t surprising that I mistook… I just ate a lot. Michelle: [00:09:35] I understand that your situation and associating with food was how you thought you were fixing the problem when you didn’t know what the problem essentially was. So then finding out that you were bipolar and that these are panic attacks was actually very beneficial because then you could treat them in the correct way and not just go and eat. So it was actually great that you found out what you actually were having. Gabe: [00:10:02] Yeah medical science is great. Michelle: [00:10:04] Do you think there is a difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack? Gabe: [00:10:08] I don’t think there is a difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack. I know there is a difference between a panic attack and anxiety attack. Michelle: [00:10:16] OK. So do you do you ever have anxiety attacks? Gabe: [00:10:21] Yes. Michelle: [00:10:22] So how do you how do you differentiate yourself and anxiety attack and a panic attack Gabe: [00:10:22] Because panic attacks are acute. They come on quickly, they’re immediate, and they dissipate, and anxiety attacks are different. They’re just medically different. And they have different symptoms and causes and feelings and I know the difference between them and it’s just experience. I had a friend when I was younger who had cancer. He was my age, we were both 15 years old. I used to think that his mom was just so incredibly smart because she knew so much about cancer and about his medication and his treatments and she had every answer that you would ever need to know. But she wasn’t smart. I mean she was, she’s smart, she’s a smart lady. It was survival. She needed to know this to save her kid and to protect her kid and to make him feel better. That’s why I know so much about bipolar disorder and panic attacks and anxiety and mental illness. It’s not because I’m smart it’s because I have to, just like she had to and he had to. Michelle: [00:11:46] So to keep yourself well, you keep yourself educated. Gabe: [00:11:50] Yeah. To keep myself well, I have to know. Gabe: [00:11:53] Is that a stressful thing for you? Was going out to lunch today a stressful thing for you? Gabe: [00:11:59] I think that you’re just stressful, Michelle. Michelle: [00:12:01] I’m stressful. Gabe: [00:12:03] I mean… Michelle: [00:12:03] Just dealing with me. Am I unpredictable? Gabe: [00:12:07] No sadly you’re very predictable. Michelle: [00:12:10] I said something wrong to you? Is it a… Gabe: [00:12:12] No, Michelle. It’s not. No that’s not what I mean. I just I think that maybe people don’t understand the structure of our working relationship. You know we don’t have money. So when we do a lot of this stuff, when we’re working you’re around and when we’re not working, because you’re staying at my house, you know, you’re in my house and there’s no reprieve and there’s nowhere to go and we’re just… it’s just this onslaught. It’s not you, it’s not Michelle Hammer it’s not it’s just… Michelle: [00:12:48] Working. Gabe: [00:12:49] Some of the things that we do to make this show are not mentally healthy for me, they’re not. Michelle: [00:12:55] Like the things we talk about. Gabe: [00:12:57] The things that we talk, about the things that we do, the way that we record. You know, sometimes it would be better if it’s just like, OK well Michelle’s pissed off and doesn’t want to talk about it. So the smart thing to do would be for me to just be like, oh OK I’ll go stand over here and we’ll talk about it tomorrow, but we can’t talk about it tomorrow because tomorrow you’re on an airplane and then you’re in New York. So I think, OK we got to do it. Got to do it right now. We got to. And then you’re like, Well fuck you, Gabe, stop talking to me and I’m like, Yeah that’s the reason why I don’t want to talk to me either. Michelle: [00:13:32] Well nothing is ever easy when dealing with other people. Gabe: [00:13:36] Yeah. People suck. I don’t even think that. Anybody that knows me that hears me say people suck, that’s when they know I’ve hit a wall. Michelle: [00:13:44] I think sometimes when you kind of have a plan to do things and then when your plan doesn’t go as planned, it’s very frustrating and it just brings down a lot of stress and that you know like you’re going to do. And then you just think the whole world is imploding because nothing’s going as planned and everything’s kind of crashing down. Gabe: [00:14:04] Sure. You ever seen the movie Gattaca? It came out in the 80s or 90s. But anyways that was one of those, you know, dystopian future things where they took people’s DNA and they determined what people could do based on a DNA test. And there was this person in it where they took his DNA and they determined what he could do based on his DNA. But he didn’t accept that. So his brother, the main character’s brother, had the DNA that said that he could swim 10 miles. I’m really messing this story all to hell. So the two boys, the one had the DNA that said that he could do it and the other had the DNA that said that he couldn’t. Michelle: [00:14:54] They switched DNA? Gabe: [00:14:55] No they didn’t switch the DNA. The brother couldn’t figure out how his brother that wasn’t supposed to be able to swim all the way to the buoy and back could make it back without dying. And he said, because if I didn’t swim back, I’d die. And in that situation, you just have to do it. I don’t know how I make shit work. It’s not life or death, doing our show. Michelle: [00:15:22] I get that, but I hope this is not what 23 and Me is doing with our DNA. Also just saying that was a joke a joke. Gabe: [00:15:32] No I actually just thought, oh fuck. I think that’s what they’re doing with our DNA. Michelle: [00:15:37] I was a lifeguard for six summers. If you swim all the way to the buoy and you can’t swim back, you then go on your back and you kind of just float on your back and push yourself back that way, elementary backstroke. Gabe: [00:15:52] It was just an analogy. Michelle: [00:15:54] I know was just an analogy, but I get it. You have to you know, power through because you have to come back. Gabe: [00:16:02] Because there’s no other way to do it. When we have more time, more energy, more money, maybe we’ll do it differently. Narrator: [00:16:11] This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counseling. Our counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist, whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face-to-face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counseling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Michelle: [00:16:43] Ok Gabe and we’re back. Everybody’s just heard this stressful panic attack that you went through and everything you said. My biggest question why is me being with you so stressful? Gabe: [00:16:56] Well as I explained on the show, it’s not just you. It’s not any one thing. Recording these shows is really hard. I really don’t think that people understand the emotional outlay of thinking of all of your worst moments, of all of your regrets, of all of your mistakes. I mean, we have a lot invested in these episodes. We really try not to be surfacy. We really try to dig deep into our emotions about living with mental illness and doing that two, three, four, five, six shows in a matter of one or two days. That’s a lot. And your running around my house chasing my dog. Michelle: [00:17:35] Your dog wants to play with me Gabe. Gabe: [00:17:39] My dog is bad ass. I’m not going to lie. Michelle: [00:17:42] And then you also said like people think you fake it. Gabe: [00:17:46] People do. Michelle: [00:17:46] That’s so mean that people think you’re faking a panic attack. Gabe: [00:17:50] I don’t think that, I don’t. I didn’t mean people think that I’m faking a panic attack. They just… when you’re in the public eye like we are, you invite comments. Many of those comments are very reassuring and they’re very complimentary and they feel like a big hug, but not all of them are. We get a lot of very critical e-mails. And I have a thick skin. I’ve developed one over the years, but some of them are hard not to take personally. And the one that is the hardest not to take personally is the people that say you’re faking for attention. You don’t have mental illness. You don’t have bipolar disorder, people with schizophrenia act this way, people with bipolar act this way. You have a home, so I don’t know why you’re complaining about mental illness and on and on… that’s a lot to endure. I don’t like to be called a liar. I don’t like to be told that I’m attention seeking. Michelle: [00:18:44] I agree with that. I agree with that. I get the same thing, that that does make sense. That is very frustrating when people just downplay your mental illness because they think that anyone with a mental illness can’t have any kind of success or achievements, which really just is a whole bunch of stigma. I mean don’t you… Don’t people want to see people with mental illness living well? And then once they do is they, Oh you’re not mentally ill. Gabe: [00:19:07] We really sort of exist in these two ways, either we are incredibly sick and will never be well or we’re dramatic, faking liars. We can’t have sick and wellness, we can only have sick and fake or sick and con or sick and drama. And that really bums me out because neither choice is good. I don’t want to be seen as a dramatic lying stereotype who’s conning people out of money. I also don’t want to be, you know, sick and terrified and walking around my front yard, keeping the demons away from my wife, which for longtime listeners of the show, that they’ve heard this story a time or two and you know, Michelle, we’ve talked about you. I mean think of all of you used to think that your mom wanted to kill you. You clearly don’t want to go back to that. Michelle: [00:19:57] No not one bit. I don’t want to go back to that at all. No paranoia ever. If I get any bout of any paranoia, I take anti-anxiety at that very moment because I am so terrified of paranoid thoughts getting into my head. It’s one of the scariest things. I’m almost scared so much and becoming paranoid almost more than I’ll be paranoid. Gabe: [00:20:20] That’s one of the things that we sort of touched on it in our screaming match that we edited out. Thank you, Michelle, for still being my co-host. But it’s scary stuff. Now I have a question for you, Michelle. Michelle: [00:20:35] Yeah. Gabe: [00:20:36] You experienced the same thing. We kind of talked about it a little, you know, after we got done recording, you know later that night, it’s hard for you too because you’re away from home. You’re staying in a strange place. You don’t have any of your friends and in your words you think Ohio is really boring and… Michelle: [00:20:54] I’m not the only one. I am not the only one that thinks Ohio is really boring. It definitely feels that way. I’m not the only one. Gabe: [00:21:05] But you have to spend three or four days doing this deep emotional dive as well. And it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of energy, and you’re away from your support system to work out… we really are locked in a room doing all of this recording. It’s really hard. How do you handle it? I know the panic attacks are a symptom that you suffer from, but I know that you get emotionally drained. I can tell by the way you yell at me on day three that there’s something going on in there and that’s not an insult. Michelle: [00:21:34] When you just have to play that song about people getting lap dances. Gabe: [00:21:36] Yeah yeah yeah yeah well we know that. I know the song the lap dance on that’s my song. Michelle: [00:21:41] Turn that song off. I can’t take that song down. Everybody that’s not again. I don’t even now I eat is stressful because you’re in a new element. You don’t know where you are. What I do for finding your place is I chase your dog around the living room. Your dog is my best friend. Gabe: [00:21:57] Hey. Michelle: [00:21:59] What? Gabe: [00:21:59] I’m your best friend. Michelle: [00:22:01] Kendall’s your best friend. Gabe: [00:22:04] No. Lisa’s my best friend. Michelle: [00:22:07] Your wife is supposed to be your best friend Gabe. Gabe: [00:22:11] Why is that a thing? Michelle: [00:22:12] Aren’t you supposed to marry your best friend? Gabe: [00:22:17] I think this is the number one cause of all of the divorces in the country, that we expect our spouses to be everything. Literally everything. Anything you name people were like, Well that should be your wife. Your wife is supposed to be your partner, your best friend, your TV watching buddy. Your confidant. But I mean just at what point are you putting so much on one person that they’re just like, I’m out? That would cause anybody to have a panic attack and that’s really why I bring it up when you are in Ohio. I am everything to you. And in order to make due of our time you are everything to me. So we can’t get away from each other. We get the brunt of our success or failure, our happiness, our work, our just everything that happens is Gabe Michelle, Gabe and Michelle, Gabe and Michelle and by day three, I’m just like I hate you Michelle! And you are like… Michelle: [00:23:14] I hate you Gabe! Gabe: [00:23:15] Exactly. And there is no better way to do this. I mean I suppose if we had like billions of dollars there’d be a better way. Michelle: [00:23:22] If there’s an angel investor, if you’re an angel investor and you know, if you’re a philanthropist, if you want to give us like a billion dollars so that we don’t get in these stressful fights you are more than welcome to send us the check, email us at show@psychcentral.com. Gabe: [00:23:40] Yeah. Email us at show@psychcentral.com with your billion dollar check. Yes. Michelle: [00:23:44] Yes yes. Putting it out there, more than welcome. Gabe: [00:23:46] You never know. The answer is always no if you don’t ask. The question really should be, Why don’t I have more panic attacks when you’re around? I have an anxiety disorder. I have panic disorder and this is hard. I’m not repeating this over and over again to annoy people, I’m just stating the fact that this is the first panic attack that I’ve ever had on the air is really quite remarkable. It really really is. In that way, I want to thank you Michelle, because it shows that you are a great and supportive co-host. I don’t want to do the show with anybody else, because I think with anybody else it would be a lot worse, because this is hard shit. And believe it or not, you are really good at being supportive. When you want to be. Michelle: [00:24:34] When I want, when I want to be. Gabe: [00:24:35] When you want to be. Michelle: [00:24:37] When I want to be. I mean, I think it’s good also because it shows that you know colors have recovered. But you know these symptoms they don’t go away. Gabe: [00:24:44] They don’t. Michelle: [00:24:45] I mean I take seven medications, I’ve said that many times, yet I still talk to myself. Gabe: [00:24:51] And you have a great video out right now. You should really bop over to PsychCentral’s Facebook page. Look in the video section and there is a great video that was made by Michelle Hammer where she’s showing herself talking to herself and talking about those symptoms. We will put a link in the show notes for this episode. But again, you can also head over to PsychCentral’s Facebook page and give it a watch. It’s really good. Now eventually, Michelle, you have to freak out and we have to record it so I don’t know if I have to hide your meds or maybe keep you up for three days. But we’ve already had game to play this kind of show and gave panic on the show. Does Michelle freak out on the show? Michelle: [00:25:28] I can not take my nighttime medicine and then not take my morning medicine and I’ll just go nuts. Gabe: [00:25:35] This is not a good idea. And we will not be doing this. We should probably give up before we close here. You know, do as we do and not as we say is something that my father used to say to me. I don’t know why when I had a panic attack and I looked over at Michelle, the first thing I thought about was, oh my god there’s podcasting equipment upstairs. This probably isn’t the healthiest thing to do. And I should note and say that if Michelle wasn’t there I would have taken… I have medication for this that I carry in my pocket. I would have taken a deep breath. My wife would rub my back. I did not make a smart decision by deciding to record and let the panic attack. Michelle: [00:26:14] No. You did make a smart decision because we’re showing our listeners what a panic attack can be and showing them how it can manifest in different people. Even though we consider ourselves recovered, we’re showing people that yes we still have panic attacks and I think it is a good thing to record a podcast about it just to show people it happens and when it goes through what it can be like. And you are the great Gabe Howard, the host of the PsychCentral Show and the co-host of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. And yet you still have panic attacks, so you’re just being an open book and showing everybody what it’s like. Gabe: [00:26:51] I love that. I’ve decided that from now on, I am the great Gabe and you are the magnificent Michelle. Michelle: [00:26:57] OK I’m down with that. Gabe: [00:26:59] Together we are the… we need something that starts with an H because we both have H last names. The Honorable Howard and Hammer except honorable is lame. Michelle: [00:27:08] Honorable is kind of lame. Gabe: [00:27:10] We will put that out to our audience. E-mail show@psychcentral.com about what H word goes with Howard and Hammer that describes the great Gabe and the magnificent Michelle. Thank you everybody for tuning into this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you are not telling your friends, you are making us poor. Please tell everybody that you know, like us, rate us, rank us everywhere you download this podcast and finally, comment on PsychCentral.com/BSP. We will see everybody next week! Michelle: [00:27:40] Why am I so stressful!? Narrator: [00:27:43] You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episode, don’t keep it to yourself. Head on over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app. 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. The 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
  11. Anticipation is a funny thing. If you are anticipating something fun it can seem like you can’t focus, you might think about it constantly, you might talk about it to anyone who will listen, all with a big smile on your face. Anticipating something stressful, however, can do all of the same things — just without the smile. In this case rather than being excited you are filled with dread over what you think is about to come. But what if you feel that sense of dread all of the time, whether there is something good or bad ahead of you? Unfortunately, there are a number of people who live day-to-day in a near state of panic, dreading almost everything about their life, waking up every morning with the sense that something terrible is about to happen, or that everything they have to do or want to do will go badly. The constant feeling of dread is a symptom of an anxiety disorder and can often go unrecognized. This lack of awareness of a problem can happen because these feelings have either slowly become more frequent and intense or they have always been present so they seem normal. It is important to note that although they can be linked, there is a difference between anxiety and depression. A person who is suffering with depression can have no feelings at all and believe that no one cares about them. They feel hopeless. Someone living with anxiety on the other hand, cares and worries about everything and may think that everyone cares about them — just not in a positive way. It’s like living in a state of perpetual fear. Unlike those dealing with severe depression who may find it difficult to get up in the morning or leave the house, people dealing with anxiety can be very high functioning and may even be over-achievers. It’s not uncommon for them to feel the need to control everything around them because they fear if they don’t they may actually lose control themselves. In this way they are able to mask their continual anxiety through activity and work. What people don’t see in these individuals is that they are constantly worried about, well, everything. Dealing with anxiety can be a constant fight to get past a suffocating feeling of dread. You may worry about things that haven’t happened, aren’t likely to happen, or are flat out impossible. Living in fear even though there’s nothing to be afraid of is the norm. For example, I once treated a woman who had gotten to the point that she needed to take a picture of her oven, hair tools, and front door just so she could look at them and remind herself that they were turned off. Without doing that she would spend the day with a nagging fear that her house would go up in flames before she got home to check everything — again. These feelings of worry and dread can also have dire consequences on your physical health and relationships. Physical responses in the form of panic attacks, high blood pressure, and nausea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), are all common. And unfortunately this can begin a cycle of worsening problems with the physical symptoms that result from the anxiety causing additional anxiety over health concerns, and even worry about death. So how does someone cope with feelings of dread, worry and fear? Well, that depends a great deal on the severity of those feelings. There are certain things that can be helpful on a day-to-day basis, but some people will need the help of a counselor to learn techniques for managing these feelings. If you recognize that you are suffering from anxiety some of the following can help. Try to identify the source of your worry. Then ask, is my concern rational or am I over thinking this? Close your eyes and breathe deeply for a minute. Concentrate on controlling your breath and focus on slowing your heart-rate. Take a walk and remove yourself from the situation. Often a change in scenery will allow your thoughts to reset. Steer clear of your known triggers. If reading about someone with a rare form of ear cancer convinces you that you also have it, make a point not to read articles of that nature. If you are an anxiety sufferer it may always be a part of your life, but it doesn’t need to overtake your day-to-day. Even the most extreme anxiety disorders can be treated so that the symptoms aren’t overwhelming. If you find that your life, relationships, and happiness are being compromised by constant dread and worry it may be time to do something about it. View the full article
  12. Despite many of us in the modern world enjoying a level of comfort and luxury that would be been unimaginable for most of human history, we still find it very hard to be happy. In fact, it seems that modern society is contributing to our fatigue and discontentment — with high-pressure working lives, decreased sense of community and a perceived lack of meaning all causing strain. As much as we may struggle, however, the pursuit of happiness is still the primary goal for most people. While it would be trite to suggest that meditation can solve all our problems, there are reasons why it can help us achieve this goal. Experiencing Less Stress Our “fight or flight” response is continually triggered in day-to-day life by our “lizard brain” stress response system, which cannot differentiate between a true emergency and something routine — such as running late, or demands at work. The stress response evolved in order for us to detect and face life-threatening situations, but because we have the capacity to think about our lives this response is no longer purely instinctive. Instead, we have the capacity to trigger our stress response simply by ruminating over fears and worries — especially if we struggle with anxiety. During periods of relaxation, the hormones and physiological responses of stress naturally dissipate and do little harm, but unfortunately this isn’t the case if we’ve found ourselves on a relentless high-alert. In cases like this, the end result is exhaustion, vulnerability to illness and unhappiness. Meditation has shown promise in various studies to reduce stress and increase “present moment awareness”, encouraging us to appreciate the moment rather than stewing over our concerns. Eventually we become calmer in general — our brains stop reacting so significantly to every trigger and our recovery time after a stressful event is improved. In the long run, this increases our natural optimism and makes happiness easier to achieve. Consciously forcing ourselves to become more positive can be a real struggle, but because meditation appears to reduce stress on a physiological level, seeing the world in an optimistic light isn’t hampered by feelings of pressure. Clarity Living a hectic life full of anxiety and worry makes it nearly impossible to look at any situation with a good sense of perspective. We can overcomplicate our lives and get lost in a fog that lasts for years, never really looking up from the grindstone to appreciate what we have and enjoy ourselves. Stress makes us think narrowly and hinders our ability to make good decisions, but, once it is eased, we can think much more clearly. This leads to more productivity and efficiency, allowing to work in a way which gets things done faster and with focus, further freeing our time and mental energy. When we aren’t in “emergency mode” all the time, we can think about our lives without the panic, anger or irrationality that stress can bring. With this, we are more able to objectively assess what’s actually important, both in our relationships and our work lives. Better Health There are many health benefits of meditation, as stress can be the root cause of, or can aggravate, many illnesses. It directs energy away from normal functioning such as digestion and immune response, exacerbating ongoing issues such as IBS while leaving us more susceptible everyday coughs, colds and stomach upsets. It also contributes to bad habits such as eating bad food, smoking and overindulging in alcohol. Those who are tired are more likely to choose high-fat, high-sugar options in their diet, while being chronically stressed increases our chances of looking for crutches such as a nicotine habit. This further damages our health in the long term while also perpetuating the problems which make us feel bad in the short term (whether it’s just guilt or a vague hangover). Meditation tackles stress, the primary issue, putting us the best possible frame of mind for making good decisions regarding our health, whilst also improving our sleep. Getting Started There are many different forms of meditation and it can be worth doing a little research to see which kind most seems to resonate with you. Mindfulness is where most people begin — and with plenty of apps on the market to introduce you to this technique, it can be a good way to bring meditation into your life. If you would prefer some guidance, it’s likely that there will be meditation teachers (or Buddhist centers) which will be happy to teach you how to meditate and offer support as you make it a daily habit. Being the happiest we can be is one of the overriding aims of humanity, yet it is frustratingly elusive. It’s easy to think that happiness is something that will come later, if only we sacrifice our time and peace of mind now. Meditation can help us be happy wherever we are in life, and let us identify the changes we need to make in order to be truly content in the present moment. View the full article
  13. Having to deal with problem behavior in your child can leave you feeling frustrated and helpless. But what if this behavior was sparked by anxiety? A number of studies have found that children’s inability to process difficult emotions often leads to what commonly comes across as “problem” behavior. This may look like uncontrollable tantrums, unpredictability and impulsiveness, extreme clinginess, an inability to do what is expected (for example, an inability to follow simple instructions in school or at home), developmental difficulties, uncontrollable anger, extreme reactions, defiance and aggressive or dangerous behavior that puts your child or those around him in danger. There is now solid evidence that the behavior of children suffering from high anxiety closely resembles that of children with behavioral disorders.1 What this means is that a child unable to manage her anxiety may be diagnosed as suffering from common disruptive behavior disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Part of the problem associated with misdiagnosis lies in the fact that it is not always easy to establish what drives your child’s behavior. When dealing with a violent or extremely disruptive child, it may be difficult to make the connection between anxiety and the behavior displayed. In other words, a highly anxious child will not tell you that he doesn’t want to go for his swimming class because he doesn’t know how to swim and is scared of making a fool out of himself. What he is likely to do is go into defense mode to avoid that class, and this may translate into disruptive behavior, aggressive behavior toward his classmates, disrespect and a refusal to follow instructions, and so on. In reality, all these are simply attempts to escape his swimming lessons. Problem behavior is often an attempt to escape from anxiety-provoking situations and other difficult emotions associated with such situations. By this I mean that although anxiety may be the primary emotion experienced, other secondary emotions such as fear, panic or shame can also develop alongside the primary emotion. That said, all hope is not lost. Indeed, being aware that anxiety or other strong emotions may be behind your child’s behavior is a great starting point to help you deal with problem behavior more effectively. Here are three things you can start doing today to better manage the impact of emotions on your child’s behavior: 1) Get the conversation about emotions going. How would you define frustration? Emotions are not always easy to put into words, even for adults; imagine how hard it can be for your child to navigate big emotions. The first and most important thing to do is to teach her about different emotions using age-appropriate techniques. She needs to know that she is safe to express her emotions. Appropriate techniques for kids include games, holding conversations around characters in the book she’s reading (“He sure looks sad”), asking the right kind of questions (“what made you happy today?” talking about your own emotions (I was sad when…), and so on. 2) Learn to anticipate anxiety-provoking issues. The thing with anxiety is that it’s pretty good at hiding, but there are always ways to get around it. The easiest way is to pay close attention to your child’s behavior in order to determine anxiety-triggering situations. It is always easier to deal with a highly anxious child before the situation gets out of hand. What you need to remember is that just like in adults, there is a strong link between anxiety and a need for reassurance — You matter, no matter what! Ultimately, teaching your child to identify how his body feels when he’s feeling anxious is a great way to help him learn to identity and manage anxiety by himself. 3) Teach your child to succeed on her own. Dealing appropriately with strong emotions is about having a set of tools, some form of “tool box” that your child can use any time she needs to. Help your child identify appropriate responses to anxiety. Help her come up with “power cards” that give her a visual example of how she can deal with anxiety. Let her know that she has what it takes to deal with strong emotions by herself. No one said this will be easy, but by taking small steps toward the development of your child’s emotional intelligence, she is bound to get there. Anxiety in children is a very common phenomenon and often lessens with time as your child learns to better react to difficult situations. That said, it can also be a sign of a more serious problem. Please seek professional help if none of your attempts seem to be working or if you feel unable to manage this behavior on your own. Footnotes: Moskowitz , L.J., Walsh, C.E., Mulder, E., McLaughlin, D.M., Hajcak, G., Carr, E.G., & Zarcone, J.R. (2017). Intervention for Anxiety and Problem Behavior in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(12): 3930-3948.Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28283846 View the full article
  14. This week’s Psychology Around the Net takes a look at children taking mental health days, the definition of relationship cycling and what it can do to your mental health, career advice for having not only a successful but also a happy career, and more. Enjoy! Women Urged to Put Mental Health On Pre–Conception Checklist: Just like a healthy diet and exercise routine, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking and alcohol, addressing her mental health should be on a woman’s pre-conception checklist. Researchers have found that women who have depression before conception are more likely to experience depression after giving birth, which can, according to Dr. Katrina Moss of the University of Queensland School of Public Health, “have a negative influence on parenting” and affect children’s psychosocial outcomes. I Will Always Let My Kids Take Mental Health Days: Speaking of parenting, here’s one momma’s story about how she discovered that children — just like adults — can benefit from mental health days. Having Stressed Out Ancestors Improves Immune Response to Stress: A new study suggests that having ancestors who were regularly exposed to stressors could improve your own immune response to stressors, and these results suggest we should consider family history when trying to predict or understand the health implications of stress. I Felt Something After KonMari-ing My Home—But It Wasn’t Joy: She might not have felt joy, but what she did feel was definitely positive and something we can all benefit from feeling — especially when it doesn’t seem like there’s much else in life giving us that feeling at the moment. ‘Relationship Cycling’ Is Messing With Your Mental Health: According to new research published in the journal Family Relations, people who engage in “relationship cycling” — repeatedly breaking up and getting back together — aren’t doing their mental health any favors. While it might make for entertaining television, movie, or book plots, in real life it causes and/or increases stress, anxiety, and depression and according to the study’s co-author Kale Monk of the University of Missouri-Columbia, the highs and lows aren’t even worth it in the end as relationship cycling was “linked to poor relationship quality, including impairment in satisfaction, commitment and communication.” What’s the Best Career Advice You’ve Received? Check out some advice these students, employees, and other career professionals have received — and have to give — to help guide you toward a career that brings happiness and fulfillment. View the full article
  15. As many parents of children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) will tell you, getting the right diagnosis is half the battle. Getting the right treatment is the other half. It’s true that OCD can be tough to diagnose, especially in children. Rituals are an important part of a healthy childhood, and it’s often difficult to know when they should be a cause for concern. This article can help you sort out “normal” rituals from behaviors that should raise a red flag. Even if you and your healthcare providers recognize that your child is dealing with anxiety issues, it’s not always easy to differentiate between OCD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Both can be characterized by rumination, increased vigilance, and an intolerance of uncertainty. Experts in OCD and anxiety disorders should be able to distinguish between the two, but for others it can be quite difficult. To make matters even more confusing, the two disorders can also occur together. A study published online in October 2018 in Depression & Anxiety aims to make it easier to properly diagnose these two disorders. The study looked at participants’ abilities in certain cognitive domains to determine if this information might be helpful in diagnosing OCD and GAD. The children involved in the study had either been diagnosed with OCD, GAD, or neither (control group). None were diagnosed with both OCD and GAD. The breakdown included 28 study participants diagnosed with OCD only, 34 diagnosed with GAD only, and 65 diagnosed with neither. This last group of children were the typically-developing controls (TDC). Cambridge Neuropsychological Automated Battery (CANTAB) tests were administered to compare the following cognitive performances: Working memory Visuospatial memory Planning ability and efficiency Cognitive flexibility The results were interesting. The participants with obsessive-compulsive disorder required more turns overall to complete multi-step problems than the other two groups, while those with Generalized Anxiety Disorder were more likely to make reversal errors than those with OCD or the control group. Those with GAD also took longer to identify visual patterns. Although those with OCD and those with GAD demonstrated significantly worse cognitive functioning compared with the control group, the children’s cognitive impairments and difficulties with specific skills depended on which disorder they’d been diagnosed with. Children with generalized anxiety disorder struggled more with mental flexibility and visual processing, and those with obsessive-compulsive disorder displayed poorer planning abilities. These results show promise in helping to diagnose OCD and GAD in children. More research is needed, however. For future research, the study authors suggested the use of parent-reporting forms as well as self-reporting forms. Neuroimaging and other types of assessments measuring the same cognitive skills examined in the study discussed here would be helpful as well. One of the reasons I find this research so interesting is the fact that, as many of us know, the earlier obsessive-compulsive disorder is diagnosed, the sooner it can be properly treated — before it becomes deeply entrenched. The same is true for Generalized Anxiety Disorder — the sooner the better. The more we can differentiate between these two disorders, the better chance we have for more timely diagnoses. View the full article