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Phobiasupportforum

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  1. Nature is an important aspect of our daily lives that is too often taken for granted. Now, in our technologically-driven society, we are often shut away from nature, and the times that we are out in nature, we are unable to appreciate it in its entire splendor. It is hard to truly separate yourself from the rest of the world, considering we are always “on”, but the effects of doing so prove beneficial to your general well-being and emotional clarity. “[We] are all a part of nature. We are born in nature; our bodies are formed of nature; we live by the rules of nature,” writes Wesley P. Schultz, PhD, professor of psychology at California State University San Marcos. Why then, are we so avoidant of nature? Schultz explains that historically, it was necessary for us to be in nature — we hunted, lived, socialized and traveled in nature. As we progressed and became more technologically advanced we became more shut in — living, socializing, and traveling predominantly in man-made environments (Schultz, 2002). Now, when we interact with the environment it is with the idea of “what can I get from this environment?” It can be argued that some people still hunt, but this is more to derive a sense of pleasure or sport, rather than for survival. Hunting as a requirement for sustenance is no longer there. This overwhelming idea that nature is something outside of us is rooted in and motivated by our consumerism. We have become heavily reliant upon our things and what those things can offer us — a sense of identity, a sense of community and acceptance. We no longer consider where these things come from. The phrase “Keeping up with the Jones’s” is more relevant than ever in the 21st century. Every few months there are new trends we need to buy into to be considered relevant and be accepted by our peers. And of course this is the only way we are able to derive any sort of happiness. This, of course, is not the way to find happiness, and in fact if we were to rely more on the environment and lead a more simplistic life, we would be more likely to find a truer, long-lasting kind of happiness. This is not only due to the aesthetic appeal nature offers us, but because we, like plants, require the environment for survival. The sun is of particular importance in maintaining a healthy mind. Depression is a significant mood disorder whereby those diagnosed with it experience a depressed or irritable mood, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, suicidal ideation and a decreased interest or pleasure in most activities (APA, 2013). Exposure to the sun can help moderate mood by activating the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. It can also help with vitamin-D levels, which is important for proper bone health (Nall, 2015). Physical health is directly correlated to mental health. The brain and body should not be treated as separate from each other, because they are inter-related; “in terms of the way it functions, the brain is always linked to the body and, through the senses, to the world outside” (Doidge, 2015). The sun is not the only aspect of nature that has beneficial effects for treating depression and relieving every day stress. Simply put, the aesthetic provided by nature elicits an overwhelming feeling of awe and admiration, particularly due to its beauty. The romantic poets acknowledged the power nature has over us. Consider these lines from Coleridge’s Frost at Midnight: “For I was reared In the great city, pent ‘mid cloisters dim, And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars. But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds, Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores And mountain crags” Here Coleridge acknowledges the better life he hopes his child will have because of his constant exposure to and interaction with nature, as opposed to his life cloistered away from nature. This is not to say that Coleridge understood the positive psychological and physiological effects nature has on us, rather, his, along with other romantic poets, can offer some insight into nature and its effects. Surely if he, along with other poets of his time, felt the power and pull of nature without understanding the underlying reason, there are significant and positive effects. Fresh air, provided by surrounding yourself with more green space offers positive effects on the brain, due to the increased amount of clean oxygen which is essential for proper blood-flow. Taking a walk in a forest not only provides exercise and a beautiful atmosphere, it also provides one with a way to connect with nature — in a spiritual and very necessary physical way. Trees and greenery provide us with clean air and oxygen needed to keep the brain healthy. These important physiological effects have a significant effect on our mental state as well. It offers us a more calm and relaxed mood, and further offers us a feeling of connectivity to nature. The importance of this connectivity should not be underestimated, nor should the healing properties that nature provides us. Consider Sister Jean Ward, in WWII, who brought premature babies with jaundice into a sunlit courtyard in the hospital in Essex, England. Their condition improved due to the wavelengths of visible blue light in the sun radiating through the exposed skin. Light also decreases pain and improves sleep, which of course is closely related to feelings of depression (Doidge, 2015). A lack of sleep may make it difficult to focus or enjoy proper cognitive functioning, and depress the body. Feeling tired makes the mind tired, and since the body is not getting enough rest it has no way to regenerate itself for the next day. This may have negative effects on both the mind and body, contributing, not only to sleep problems and the perpetuation of depressive symptoms, but may also contribute to the development of pain (Mann, 2010). Therefore, getting the proper amount of sunlight is essential to proper functioning, and improving mental health. How do we get the proper amount of sunlight and fresh air? By going back to nature. It is the most simplistic, yet essential mode of treatment for feelings of depression. Perhaps, by experiencing the regenerative properties nature has to offer us, we too, may feel compelled to write about nature’s beauty like Coleridge and the many romantic poets of his time. References: American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed). Coleridge, T. S. (1997). Frost at Midnight. In Keach, W. (Eds.), The Complete Works. (231-232). England: Penguin Books. Doidge, N. (2015). The Brain’s Way of Healing. New York: Viking. Nall, R. (2015). What are the benefits of sunlight? Retrieved from: http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight#Overview1 Mann, D. (2010). Pain: The Sleep Thief. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/pain-sleep?page=2 Schultz, P. W. (2002). Inclusion with Nature: The Psychology Of Human-Nature Relations. In Schmuck, P., & Schultz, P. W. (Eds). Psychology of Sustainable Development (61-78). New York: Springer US. View the full article
  2. Phobiasupportforum

    Common Signs of Someone Who May Be Suicidal

    About 70 percent of people who commit suicide give some sort of verbal or nonverbal clue about their intention to end their life. That means you could be in a position to guide someone to get help before they commit the one action that can never be taken back. While 30,000 Americans die each year due to suicide, more than 800,000 Americans attempt suicide. Although women attempt suicide three times as often as men, men are four times more likely to be successful in their attempt. Warning signs of suicide are not difficult to spot, but professionals differentiate between someone who simply has a passing thought of suicide or ending his or her own life, and someone who has persistent thoughts and has a definite plan. However you don’t have to know how serious a person is in order to help them. Possible Suicide Warning Signs Have you ever heard someone say two or more of the following? Life isn’t worth living. My family (or friends or girlfriend/boyfriend) would be better off without me. Next time I’ll take enough pills to do the job right. Take my prized collection or valuables — I don’t need this stuff anymore. Don’t worry, I won’t be around to deal with that. You’ll be sorry when I’m gone. I won’t be in your way much longer. I just can’t deal with everything — life’s too hard. Soon I won’t be a burden anymore. Nobody understands me — nobody feels the way I do. There’s nothing I can do to make it better. I’d be better off dead. I feel like there is no way out. You’d be better off without me. Have you noticed them doing one or more of the following activities? Getting their affairs in order (paying off debts, changing a will) Giving away their personal possessions Signs of planning a suicide, such as obtaining a weapon or writing a suicide note Friends and family who are close to an individual are in the best position to spot warning signs. Often times people feel helpless in dealing with someone who is depressed or suicidal. Usually it is helpful to encourage the person to seek professional help from a therapist, psychiatrist, school counselor, or even telling their family doctor about their feelings. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) offers free and confidential support for people in distress as well as prevention and crisis resources for you and your loved ones. Remember, depression is a treatable mental disorder, it’s not something you can “catch” or a sign of personal weakness. Your friend or loved one needs to know you’re there for them, that you care and you will support them no matter what. Suicide is one of the most serious symptoms of someone who is suffering from severe depression. Common signs of depression include: Depressed or sad mood (e.g., feeling “blue” or “down in the dumps”) A change in the person’s sleeping patterns (e.g., sleeping too much or too little, or having difficulty sleeping the night through) A significant change in the person’s weight or appetite Speaking and/or moving with unusual speed or slowness Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities (e.g., hobbies, outdoor activities, hanging around with friends) Withdrawal from family and friends Fatigue or loss of energy Diminished ability to think or concentrate, slowed thinking or indecisiveness Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach, or guilt Thoughts of death, suicide, or wishes to be dead Sometimes someone who is trying to cope with depression on their own might turn to substances like alcohol or drugs to help ward away the depressive feelings. Others might eat more, watch television for hours on end, and not want to leave their home or even their bed. Sometimes a person who is depressed may stop caring about their physical appearance on a regular basis, or whether they shower or brush their teeth. It’s important to realize that people who suffer from serious, clinical depression feel depressed for weeks or months on end. Someone who’s just having a particularly rough or stressful week (because of school or work demands, relationship problems, money issues, etc.) may not be suffering from clinical depression. View the full article
  3.  Most people suffer from certain social anxieties. Just the idea of speaking in front of a crowd can make otherwise confident people break into a nervous sweat. Fear of rejection is also very common in society… just ask any teenager who’s too afraid to ask out their crush. In this episode, we talk about these common feelings from the perspective of having additional mental illness thrown in, creating a blend that is no one’s favorite. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW “You’re afraid of being humiliated. You’re afraid of what you just said.” – Michelle Hammer Highlights From ‘Social Anxiety’ Episode [2:00] Where are you from? [4:30] Social anxiety and the big city. [8:00] Talking to important people is scary. [10:30] Overthinking your whole day when you go to sleep at night. [12:30] Delusions about the past. [16:00] How can you be content with the past? [18:00] Putting rejection in your own control. [23:30] Google says people of our ages shouldn’t have social anxiety, anymore. [24:00] How we get rid of anxiety and public speak! Computer Generated Transcript for ‘ Social Anxiety, Delusions, Rejection, and Mental Illness!’ Show Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Announcer: For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Gabe: Hi, everyone, you’re listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. My name is Gabe Howard and I live with bipolar disorder. Michelle: Hi. I am Michelle Hammer and I’m schizophrenic. Gabe: Straight up schizo. Straight out of Compton. Michelle: That’s right. Yeah, totally out of Compton. Straight out of New York. That’s right. Gabe: Right out of New York. Well you were. You were born and raised in New York City, right? Michelle: Not technically. Sure. Well I mean, close enough. Gabe: Most people, when they’re not something, they don’t claim it. But there’s a few things that if you’re close enough, you’re like, “Oh yeah, I’m from New York City.” So you’re not from New York City but you tell everybody that you are. Michelle: Well, I currently live in New York City. And if I explained, “Well, I’m actually from the first county right above the city, not far from the Bronx. So if I drive about 20 minutes I enter the Bronx which, so if you really want to get technical, I’m very close but not technically New York City. Some people would call it upstate. Some people would say it’s not upstate if you’re from where I’m from. It’s an argument that we have a lot. Gabe: Because people from New York City think that you’re a poser. Michelle: No. They would say I’m from upstate. Gabe: But not from New York City? Michelle: Right. Gabe: So Schizophrenic NYC should actually be Schizophrenic upstate New York? Michelle: Not now, because it exists in the city. Because I live in Astoria, Queens now and exists and sells all the merchandise in New York City. Gabe: This is extraordinarily complicated. Michelle: I don’t really think it’s that complicated, Gabe. And I don’t know why you are so confused about where I live because I live in Queens, which is one of the five boroughs of New York City. Gabe: So it’s schizophrenic dot Queens? Michelle: Queens is part of New York City which is NYC. Do you get it now? Gabe: Are you the King of Queens? Michelle: No I’m not the King of Queens. Gabe: Michelle, today we are talking about social anxiety and the reason that we went through this godawful exercise is because every time we meet people, one of the kind of the social questions that people always ask is you know “where are you from?” I mean they start with your name and then where are you from? Michelle: Yes. Gabe: You have it much worse than I do. No matter where you go in the country, people feel that they understand New York City because of television and movies etc. Michelle: Yeah. Oh yeah. And then they tell me. “Oh I visited New York City. I was in that area. Oh, it was by this. Do you know that I rode the subway one time? It was very dirty.” And I’m like, “Oh, yes. Yes, yes, subways are dirty, yes. Yes, oh.” “Oh I was there 20 years ago.” Well you know I wasn’t there 20 years ago so I really can’t tell you about it what it was like 20 years ago. I’m sorry. I don’t know much at all. Gabe: I’m like “I’m from Columbus” and they’re like, “we don’t give a shit.” Michelle: Yeah. I was watching you on a Facebook Live and you’re like, “Yeah I’m from like a really big city,” and stuff and I’m like you’re telling it’s big? You’re from Columbus. Stop saying that, Gabe. Gabe: It’s the 14th largest city in the country. Michelle: 14th? 14th? It’s not even top ten. So stop saying that. 14th. Don’t be proud of that, Gabe. Gabe: But it just, it’s a big city. Michelle: You walk out of your house, how long does it take you to get to a store? To get to a store walking? Gabe: Walking? Well, I don’t know because I’m never going to walk. Michelle: Exactly. Because it’s that far. Because it’s that far. I know how long it takes me to get to any kind of establishment. Moments. I walk out my door, less than 30 seconds. Gabe: But in my old apartment, that I called my pod, in 30 seconds I’d be within a whole bunch of places. I lived there on purpose because I wanted to be able to walk to the pizza place the gas station etc. I know you called gas stations bodegas, I apologize. Michelle: No, and gas stations are not bodegas. You will never understand the concept of what a bodega is, Gabe. Gabe: It is true. I never will. But interestingly enough, you feel like you suffer from social anxiety and I feel like I suffer from social anxiety which makes a lot of people confused because they can’t figure out how to people as lively and. Michelle: And boisterous? Gabe: And boisterous and loud as Gabe and Michelle can be anxious in social situations. And that goes an extra step for you because people are like my god you live in the biggest city in the country and like you said you walk outside and you’re at an establishment. So you can’t get away from people. Michelle: You know having like social anxiety is kind of like thinking it’s almost a little bit like paranoia? That you’re nervous to be around new people cause you don’t know what people are really going to say. But when you live in New York City, you can say something to somebody and if it’s stupid you’ll probably never see that person ever again. So it doesn’t really matter. Gabe: And you feel that this is why it helps? Like it’s that anonymity that makes you feel good? Whereas in when we’re at a conference or when we’re giving a speech somewhere everybody knows your name. Michelle: Exactly. Gabe: They’re like. Michelle: And that is so much more nerve wracking. Gabe: Because if you make a mistake. Michelle: Everybody knows who I am. Gabe: Everybody knows that Michelle Hammer is the one that accidentally said fuck off on stage when she was at the Catholic college. Michelle: Yes. But I never actually did that, he just made that up. Gabe: That was a lie. That one’s a lie. Michelle: Yeah that’s the lie. Gabe: Later in the episode I will tell the truth and you will know it’s a truth because Michelle will not say a word. But that actually did happen to a colleague. He said fuck on stage and like everybody went nuts and he was just like Why? Why is this a problem? And he wasn’t embarrassed by it because I just don’t think he has the ability to get embarrassed. But he obviously didn’t think that it would offend anybody and it did. So now he’s kind of back on his heels apologizing for a comment that was just a throwaway comment to him and that’s kind of how you and I feel. To us, we’re just like up on stage saying something. But if the audience hears it wrong or feels about it wrong or we just slip up and say something that maybe you know just I really like the fuck example because we can say fuck in New York City and nobody is gonna care. Michelle: But oh you don’t you don’t even know the things I’ve overheard people say in your city right it’s hilarious. There was once a website called Overheard in New York and it was just all of these conversations was that were ridiculous that people overheard in New York. Gabe: But if you get hired in let’s say like a very conservative state you know like a Mormon college in Utah you’re not going to swear right? You’re gonna put on? Michelle: Oh oh no no no. Well, I mean, that would be hilarious if I got hired at a Mormon college. If any Mormon colleges would like to hire me, letting you know I’m available. Gabe: And she promises not to swear. Michelle: And I will not swear a word. Or drink soda or coffee or you know all that Mormon stuff. That’s like all I know about it. I’ve known one Mormon my entire life. She was a very nice girl. She was sweet, loved her. But that would be really funny. So Mormons, hit me up. I will not swear. Gabe: So that that’s what I mean though. You know that you can swear in New York City no problem right. Michelle: Pretty much, as long as the you know it’s not children around. But I mean I mean many many times I’ve cursed in front of children that I’m like oh there’s a child. Gabe: And the child probably corrects your swear. Michelle: And tells you the new well they look at you with a dirty look like Mommy, that lady just said a bad word. Gabe: I can see that’s like mommy that bitch just swore. Wait, what? But so that’s what I mean though. New York City you can swear Utah don’t swear. It’s the middle ground, it’s the middle ground that messes us up. Where we’re not sure so we don’t get how to behave and that’s where the nervous comes in, right? Michelle: Exactly. Sometimes you just don’t know what the right social norm is so you don’t know how to act or who to talk to or who’s maybe you’re like is that person really important? Wait what’d did I say to them. Maybe I said something stupid to them and then you’re all anxious because of that and then you’re like you want to go talk to somebody else and somebody you know interrupts you and you want they want to really talk to you but you don’t want to talk to them at all. But then you realize that you really messed up and should have spoken to that person in the first place. Gabe: Exactly. And it’s not because you’re sucking up to big names or you know brown nosing or kissing ass. It’s because maybe that’s the person who hired you. Because we don’t know what a lot of these people look like. You know, we can get hired over e-mail and phone we’re like Oh Julie thank you we’ll send over the contract. They know what we look like because they’ve seen our headshots they’ve seen us on social media. We never know what they look like. Michelle: Never. Yeah never. People have come to my pop up shop. Hi it’s so nice to finally meet you. Hi. You too. Who are you? Exactly. Gabe: But then they get and then sometimes they’re like Oh I understand you meet a lot of people this is your job. You travel around and but other times they’re offended. They’re like we hired you. We’ve talked on the phone a lot. This is what causes my social anxiety. I’m not worried about purposely hurting somebody’s feelings because I’m a really nice guy. I’m worried about the accident. The misunderstandings. Michelle: The accidents? Gabe: Yeah. Michelle: You know I kind of looked up the definition of social anxiety and it just said symptoms may include excess fear of situations and one in which one may be judged. Worry about embarrassment or humiliation or concern about offending someone. So it really is to me it seems like paranoia to me doesn’t it? Gabe: I guess it’s not paranoia though because it isn’t like paranoia or worse like yours I guess. Michelle: Yeah yeah yeah. Gabe: Like your mom is trying to kill you. Then your roommate is trying to kill you. Then Gabe is trying to kill you. Michelle: I guess but it’s sort of like a social kind of a paranoia and in a sense like that. You know you’re afraid of being humiliated. You know you’re afraid of what you just said. You’re afraid of how you’re acting or did you act well. It’s just kind of dwelling on things after they happened because you don’t know if you did the right thing. Let’s take a quick break and hear from our sponsor. Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist, whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Michelle: And we’re back talking social anxiety. Gabe: I really like what you brought up there, Michelle. The dwelling. Do you ever like after the event is over after the conference day is over after the speech is over whatever. Do you lay awake at night and replay the entire day in your head looking for mistakes? Michelle: Oh yeah yeah yeah yeah but the thing is I go delusional. I think about the day and then I start making lies up about the day. Then I start believing the lies about the day and then I just go crazy. Gabe: Wow that’s what’s your like coping mechanism for that? I do part of that. You know before I was treated before I got you know lots of therapy and lots of medication and lots of help. I did that exact same thing. One of the things that really helped me was you know therapy and medication it really helped tamper down those delusions to the point where I don’t have them anymore. So when I spiral out of control it’s all I was talking to Jane and I told Jane that she looked very nice today and then I think Jane looked to the left and I know that looking to the left means that gee I offended Jane. Oh my God I shouldn’t have said that she thinks I was hitting on her. Oh I didn’t mean to hit on her. Oh my God she thinks I’m a creepy pervert what’s going on. And I start to feel really really bad like I owe Jane an apology. In the old days I would have sent Jane this rambling e-mail that made absolutely no sense and just really caused a lot of problems. New Gabe just sits on it and does nothing because I don’t want to sound like a crazy person. But you believe that it’s true. So now you wake up and you no longer are curious as to whether or not you sexually harass Jane. You believe that you did it sometimes. Michelle: Sometimes I do believe. Sometimes I’m not sure and I’m confused but then I try to verify things with people. I ask friends, ask people who are there. I try to set up a timeline. Does the things that really did happen that way or if they didn’t happen that way because sometimes the conversation that I have with somebody I changed the entire conversation to something else completely. So I tried to figure out what is real. What makes sense, what was actually happening. But what’s worse about is that it had a sometimes that delusions they’ll happen for things that happened years ago that I can’t verify if they’re real or not. So what am I supposed to do then? Gabe: Like maybe the reason that you lost touch with your friend Bob isn’t just because time marches on and Bob got a job and had a couple of kids. Maybe you offended Bob? Michelle: You never know. Who knows? I never I never know things. Things just make up their own stories and things don’t make any sense anymore. And I don’t know what’s real. I don’t know what’s happening, but I don’t know. Gabe: When we talk about social anxiety and I don’t know how we got on this but this is social anxiety because this is one of the reasons that you’re so nervous to talk to people because you’re nervous that you’re afraid that you’re gonna make a mistake but then you’re nervous that you’re gonna think you made a mistake and then dwell on it and it’s going to ruin the next day. This is the spiral that happens to me and a lot of people with social anxiety even if we don’t mess up during the event that we were worried about we’ve convinced ourselves later on that we always made mistakes. Michelle: Yeah we’ve made tons of mistakes. Gabe: I really like what you said about checking in with the people around you as you know that’s something that we do to each other a lot. I’ll ask you when we get off stage. Hey did you think that went OK? You’ll ask me Hey did I do a good job? And we kind of have a little you know like decompress or you know we just kind of go over everything together. Now we trust each other. Michelle: You’re right. Gabe: Michelle trusts Gabe. Gabe trusts Michelle. But what if you don’t have a person that you trust because you know people could exploit this a lot. You know it’s a cut through a world out there. You can’t just ask a random panelist Hey did I do ok? Because maybe that panelist wants your job so they’ll be like, I don’t know Michelle. You offended a bunch of people. You really sucked. Michelle: Wow. Yeah you’re right about that one. Gabe: But maybe they’re telling the truth. Maybe you did suck. How do you know when to trust people and when they’re not? Like isn’t that another whole layer? Michelle: I mean sometimes I just have confidence. And if somebody tells me I did a bad job I’m just that bad mostly let me just make me angry and I’d be like I did better than you. Gabe: And on one hand that kind of confidence is good but you can’t just ignore people who give constructive criticism or you’ll never improve. Michelle: But is that constructive criticism? If I ask somebody next to me and they’re like no, I think you did really bad. Gabe: Well it’s not constructive but it could still be true. Michelle: I don’t know. I’ve been on panels before and I mean based on questions coming to me. Questions from the audience stuff like that. You can base it on that. I mean if you’re getting more questions from the audience and the rest of the people don’t you think you’ve done better? Gabe: Well maybe except that as you know some of the most viral videos in the world are of people failing. That doesn’t mean you did a good job just because a ton of people are watching you get hit in the nuts or falling off a bike. Michelle: Well I understand that. But the questions aren’t negative. The questions are because they’re interested and they want to learn more. But Gabe: But you. You said earlier that you have a problem running it through accurately. You’re like I was asked four questions that were very positive that were very interesting for me. I would say that part was good but my answer sucked that. Michelle: That can happen, that can happen. I think like I should have said this instead I should have said that. T is what I should have done there. This is what I should have done there. But use it in a more constructive way for next time trying to turn all the delusions into more a positive way. It’s when I can’t turn the delusion off it inches anything positive out of that way. It just makes me go argh, when you can’t change the past that you really want to change. Gabe: And of course we still have to go on to the next gig. Michelle: Yes. Gabe: So it doesn’t matter how badly we feel about the last one and or whether it’s true or false you’re only as good as your next gig. That’s the life of everything our podcast is only as good as our previous episode. Our writing is only as good as our previous writing. Your clothing line is only as good as your last piece of art. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just make one podcast or just be famous forever or give one speech and just live off the residuals for life? Even Friends had to make what over 200 episodes over a decade? If that show would have started to suck in the middle, it would’ve just gotten canceled. It would’ve been the Drew Carey Show. It started off hot fizzled right out. But it didn’t. It stayed good. How do we stay good? Michelle: How do we stay good? Confidence. Gabe: How do we stay confident. Michelle: For every negative thing we think we have to say three positive things about ourselves. Gabe: Excellent. I know for a fact that you are thinking something negative about me right now. So now you, Michelle Hammer, have to say three positive things about me. Michelle: I would say in self reflection. In self reflection all. Gabe: So you can’t even think of three positive things to say? Michelle: No. I know you’d interpreted it in the wrong way in yourself. If you think something negative by yourself then you have to say three positive things about yourself. Not me about you but you about you. Gabe: Let’s say that I can’t think of three positive things and I say to my friend Michelle, man I can’t think of three positive things about myself. Will you help me? What would you say? Gabe: You are not bald. You are very tall and you have a lovely wife and dog. Gabe: The three positives about Gabe. I am not bald. I am very tall and I have a lovely wife and dog. Michelle: What are you looking for? Gabe: Honestly Michelle that might have been perfect. A conference that I was at recently you know it didn’t go so well. I know that it was not the best it could be. So just establish that as a baseline fact and this is one of those conferences that you have to apply for. And now because of that I can’t apply next year because if I apply next year and I don’t get in I will go back another whole year and decide the reason that I didn’t get in is because of what happened and I can’t live with that. Like that’s just too much anxiety that’s too much pressure that’s too much stress. So to save myself all of that I’m just not going to apply. And now the reason that I didn’t get in is because. Michelle: Yeah it’s under your control. Gabe: Right. Sometimes it’s worth it to risk the rejection. You know what I asked you if you wanted to host this podcast with me and you said no that was worth it. And then when I circled back a month later and gave you more data to why I thought this would be a good idea. That was worth the risk. And even if you would have said No I would’ve felt good about it. But sometimes I just can’t risk the rejection and this is one of those examples of where it’s just not worth it for me if I get in. I’ll be like Oh yay. They still love me but if I don’t I’ll spend the rest of my life thinking Man I fucked it up so bad and I can never recover from it and that will seep into other areas. Michelle: No, I completely understand. I feel the same way, too. So many times I’ve gotten emails like Oh we’re looking for a speaker. Please send us your rate and everything. I send them my rate, and then crickets. I never hear back. Gabe: One of the things that helps me with that is I learned that the average person gets three quotes for a speaker which means that they may have rejected me but they also rejected somebody else statistically. Also I always write this lovely letter back. Thank you so very much. I completely understand. Please keep me in mind for next year. I’m very easy to work with. I understand that you went a different way. And then I kind of put him in my calendar to follow up with next year because I believe from a sales cycle standpoint that there is no such thing as no. Michelle: Isn’t that really how you found out who I was? Somebody asked you about like two different schizophrenic advocates? And you had to choose between the two and I was the one that didn’t get it. Gabe: Yes you didn’t get it. Michelle: But, I got you. I got you. I didn’t get this speech but I got you. Gabe: I think it worked out. Michelle: Yeah, it worked out. And that girl that got the speech, she wasn’t even schizophrenic. Gabe: What the hell? They hired a non schizophrenic for a speech? Michelle: She just had a schizophrenic mom. Oh it’s so terrible having a schizophrenic mom. Living with a schizophrenic is so terrible let’s hear about that let’s not hear about it from a schizophrenic person. Gabe: I mean in fairness when you stay at my house for four days it’s pretty awful. I don’t think that has anything to do with your schizophrenia. It might have to do with your sloppiness and your crazy. Michelle: But seeing your dog is crazier than me. Gabe: That’s true my dog still carries around your sock. Michelle: Yes seriously I don’t carry my socks in my mouth. Gabe: Wouldn’t it be funny. I do realize this isn’t true but since you brought up the dog. After you leave, my dog always finds one of your socks. I don’t know how this happens I don’t know if it gets slipped under the bed or whatever. But he carries around the damn sock and we just let him because we don’t care. But I have this idea in my head that all the way back in New York City, Michelle is carrying around some dog toy of Peppy’s and the two of you are just like cosmically connected. Are you carrying around Peppy’s tennis ball? Michelle: Not that I’m aware of but now that I know about this I’m going to take something of his. I have a lock of his hair, actually. Gabe: You do not. Michelle: I do, I have a lock of his hair in my locket. Gabe: In your locket? You don’t even have a locket. Michelle: How do you know? Lockets are still in style. Gabe: No they’re not. Even Blanche would say Oh honey. Michelle: Blanche bought me a locket when I was little. It was real gold then I bit it. Gabe: It’s been so long since we’ve referenced Blanche. You realize that new listeners have no idea who we’re talking about. Michelle: Blanche was my grandmother. Gabe: And she was the best grandma. Michelle: She was a good grandma. She told me save a penny here, save a penny there. Then next thing you know you got a dollar. Gabe: Blanche loved me. She said that of all of Michelle’s friends, I was her favorite. Michelle: You never met Blanche. Gabe: But she would have said that. Michelle: Well, she would’ve only liked you if you were in a union. Gabe: My father was in a union. Michelle: OK. We can stop talking about this because it’s uninteresting. Gabe: It very much is yes. All right we need a closing. Michelle: What I see about social anxiety on line is that it starts during the teenage years and it gets better as people get older. So apparently we still have social anxiety when Google says we shouldn’t. Gabe: Well Michelle: So Google. Gabe: Doctor Google knows best. Michelle: Apparently Google knows best and we’re not supposed to have that same social anxiety because we’re too old for it. Can it be cured? There is no cure says Google. Gabe: There’s now cure for schizophrenia bipolar depression etc. But, Michelle, sincerely we both suffer from social anxiety yet we do this job. We get out there in public. What is the message that you want to give somebody who’s listening to this and their social anxiety is so bad at the moment that they are unwilling to leave the house or they’re unwilling to even like you know go to McDonald’s or Starbucks and get a Diet Coke or a cup of coffee. Because a lot of our listeners they think that we don’t suffer from this stuff because they see us out there. They don’t know that we’ve just managed to push through. What is your number one tip for somebody to push through that social anxiety and get to the other side? Because let’s face it, we do adore being on that stage. We do love meeting people. It can be hard for us but it is worth it because we love it a lot. Even you and you hate everything. Michelle: You know it is hard and a lot of people ask me like how do you get on stage and talk. It seems so nerve wracking. People say they’d be so nervous. It makes me nervous. Sometimes you just take a deep breath and go for it and that’s how I get on stage and do the thing and almost if you pretend that you really know what you’re talking about people will believe you really know what you’re talking about. You just have confidence if you believe in yourself and you believe what you’re saying and everything that you’re doing is the right thing. It can be OK if you don’t leave your room, if you’re only in your house, there’s always the internet. You can speak to people online. Baby steps. Gabe: It is fake it until you make it, right? Michelle: Fake it till you make it. Gabe: And I really like the buddy system. I understand that if you’re kind of a shy person and you have anxiety you have social anxiety that you wouldn’t want to go out alone because being in a roomful of people where you know nobody that’s scary. So you know bring along somebody. Before I met Michelle I brought my friend Lisa and she was always very helpful. In fact some of my first speeches I just gave them to Lisa. There was a whole bunch of other people in the room but I just made eye contact with Lisa and Lisa would give me you know nice feedback and she would help me. So you know maybe on a lower level just grab your friend, go out for coffee and maybe go to a busy restaurant. Michelle: That’s interesting what I find when I give speeches is I look at the back of the room. I don’t look at any of the people I lean towards the back of the room. Gabe: That’s what I do. Well depending on where I’m at, I either look at the back of the room or I look at the middle of the room. I’ve decided that I can gather more data on how I’m doing as a speaker by looking at the middle because see the back they’re sitting in the back because they don’t care. They didn’t care the minute they sat down. The people on the front are way too enthusiastic. They’re so excited. They sat up front so they’re going to love you no matter what you do. You can holler at your boy come out like a boxer and fall over and they’re going to love you. But the middle of the room, they’ve decided I don’t know how I feel about this guy. So the middle of the room is usually where I keep my gaze. Michelle: I actually meant the back wall. Gabe: Literally the back wall? Does the wall give you positive feedback, Michelle? Michelle: I just try not to look at the people. They make me anxious. Gabe: Michelle, I love working with you because in spite of your outward projection of confidence it does take work and you are nervous when you do it and you do push through it every day and you know sometimes it doesn’t work out but most of the times it does. And I really like that you don’t beat yourself up when things go poorly even though maybe you should. Michelle: I should? Gabe: Listen only one of us has been thrown off a plane. Thank you everybody for tuning into this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you liked this show, please share it on social media. Head over to iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or wherever you found this and leave us a review. Actually type words. For some reason the internet likes the words. And finally you can go to PsychCentral.com/BSP. Look for a little logo that says ask us questions, click on it, and ask us questions and we might use it for future episodes. We will see you next time. Announcer: You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episode, don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe, rate, and review. To work with Gabe, go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle, go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups, head over to PsychCentral.com. This show’s official web site is PsychCentral.com/BSP. You can e-mail us at show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening, and share widely. Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com. MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC. View the full article
  4. Some days you feel well, and other days, darkness envelopes you. You feel achingly sad, or you feel absolutely nothing. You’re exhausted, and every task feels too big to start. You feel weighed down, as though there are sandbags attached to your shoulders. Managing the symptoms of depression can be hard. But even the smallest steps taken every day (or on most days) can make a significant difference. Below, you’ll learn how five different women live with depression on a daily basis, and the small, yet pivotal actions they take. Having a daily routine. “Having a daily routine helps me push through the days when I’m not feeling my best,” said Denita Stevens, a writer and author of the recently released poetry collection Invisible Veils, which delves into her experiences with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Stevens’s routine starts at night with two morning alarms: one alarm is optional, the second one, which rings around 7 a.m., is not. “I take a moment to gauge how I’m feeling before deciding which one I wake up to.  Sometimes I don’t always have a good night’s sleep and an extra hour of rest helps.” When she’s up, she drinks coffee and reads. Then she focuses on work. The evenings are dedicated to personal time. This “gives me motivation to accomplish what I need to do during the workday in a timely manner and allows me to end the day investing my time in myself,” Stevens said. This me-time might mean socializing, exercising, relaxing, or working on a writing project—right now she’s working on a memoir about what it was like to live with undiagnosed PTSD and how she recovered. On weekends, Stevens doesn’t have a schedule. “A balance between scheduled and unscheduled time every week seems to work best for me,” she said. Setting boundaries. “Setting boundaries is extremely important to my mental and emotional well-being,” said T-Kea Blackman, a mental health advocate who hosts a weekly podcast called Fireflies Unite With Kea. For instance, Blackman has set her phone to go into “Do Not Disturb” mode every night at 9 p.m., because she wakes up at 4:45 a.m. to exercise. “Working out has been beneficial as it helps to improve my mood and I sleep much better.” Going to bed around the same time and waking up around the same time helps her get consistent rest. “When I am not well rested, I am unable to function throughout the day.” Exercising. “I make myself exercise even if I don’t feel like it,” said Mary Cregan, author of the memoir The Scar: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery. “If my mind is troubling me, I’ll try using my body instead.” If Cregan’s energy is really low, she goes for a walk. And these walks have a powerful benefit: She gets to see other people—“little kids in playgrounds, old people walking with their shopping bags, teenage girls all dressed alike. People can be interesting or amusing, and help me get out of my own head.” Cregan, who lives in New York City, also likes to walk along the Hudson or around the reservoir in Central Park, and admire the water. She likes to look at the plants and trees, too. “If the sun is out, I’ll sit on a bench with the sun on my face.” Tidying up. Cregan also regularly makes her bed and cleans up the kitchen. This way, she said, “things don’t feel messy or ugly, because that would be depressing in itself.” Sometimes, she buys flowers for her home, since looking at them cheers her up. Having downtime. Blackman prioritizes downtime to help her unplug and recharge. Sometimes, this looks like listening to water sounds—waves crashing onto the shore, water hitting the rocks—and putting on her essential oil diffuser as she listens to a podcast or reads a book. Other times, it looks like lying in bed and letting her mind wander, as she listens to the water sounds and breathes in the essential oils. Wearing comfortable clothes. Fiona Thomas, author of the book Depression in a Digital Age: The Highs and Lows of Perfectionism, regularly tunes into her inner dialogue. When she notices the chatter is negative—“you’re so lazy”—she decides to actively challenge the voice and be kind to herself instead. “One small way that I’m kind to myself every day is by wearing clothes that I feel comfortable in as opposed to what I think people expect me to wear. If I want to wear leggings and a baggy jumper to the supermarket, then I do it.” Creating small moments of self-care. Another way that Thomas is kind to herself is by going out for coffee, or taking several minutes to stand by a canal and watch the ducks go by. Practicing self-compassion. In addition to depression, Leah Beth Carrier, a mental health advocate working on her master’s in public health, also has obsessive-compulsive disorder and PTSD. When her brain tells her that she isn’t worthy, doesn’t deserve to take up space, and won’t ever amount to anything, she gives herself grace. “This grace I give myself allows me to be able to hear these old tapes, acknowledge that they are fear based and my fear has a purpose, and then continue to go about my day.” Taking a shower. “I try my hardest to take a shower every day even though I find this really difficult with depression,” Thomas said. “Even if [showering is the] last thing [I do] at night, I know it helps me feel healthier in the long run.” Looking in the mirror. “I have also found that the simple act of looking at myself in the mirror, eye to eye, each morning and making a point to say hello to myself—as silly as it sounds—keeps me grounded,” Carrier said. “It is also a little reminder that my existence here on earth is allowed and OK, maybe even something to be celebrated.” Of course, the specific small actions you take will depend on the severity of your depression, and how you’re feeling that day. The above actions are examples that speak to the power of small. Of course, it’s also vital to get treatment, which might include working with a therapist and/or taking medication. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that the pain isn’t permanent, even though it absolutely feels permanent in the moment. You won’t feel this way forever. “Having lived with depression since I was a teenager, I’ve discovered that even at my lowest points, I can still survive and it will get better,” Stevens said. “It always gets better. May not seem like it at the moment, but those feelings are only temporary.” “I never believed it when people told me it would get better when I was in my darkest days and attempted suicide, but I remained committed to my recovery…,” Blackman said. She’s made various changes, and has seen a huge improvement in her mental health. Don’t discount the power of small daily acts and steps. After all, before you know it, those small steps have helped you walk several miles—a lot more than had you been standing still. And if you do stand still on some days, remember that this is OK, too. Try to treat yourself gently on those days, to sit down, and extend yourself some compassion. View the full article
  5. Phobiasupportforum

    Preventing Youth Suicide: Strategies That Work

    American children are taking their own lives at an alarming rate. Over 7 percent of high school students say they engaged in non-fatal suicidal behavior, while 17 percent say they seriously considered suicide within the previous year, according to a nationwide survey. For children under 15, the prevalence of death by suicide nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017. Considering these sobering statistics, it’s no surprise that suicide has become the second leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 12 and 18. Sadly, many parents don’t recognize the signs of depression in their children until a crisis occurs. It can be difficult to determine the difference between normal adolescent behavior and something far more serious. For National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day I want to use this opportunity to share strategies that have been proven to decrease suicidality in children and teens. A few years ago a teenage girl named Alyssa* came to me for therapy, along with her family. She described feeling disconnected from her parents, who didn’t understand her interests. She spent a lot of time in her room watching anime, playing video games, and chatting with her friends online. Like many young girls, she had negative experiences with peers at school and felt acute academic pressure. Her parents saw no cause for alarm until they were contacted by a concerned school counselor, in whom their daughter had confided. When they learned Alyssa had thoughts about harming herself, they decided it would be safest to place her in a hospital while they made a plan to address her challenges, which included anxiety and depression. Prevention Is Key Fortunately, Alyssa turned to a trusted counselor for help. For individuals concerned about child suicide, a number of protective factors have been shown to help reduce the risk of suicidal behavior. These include community connectedness, abstinence from drugs and alcohol, close family relationships, strong peer support systems, and regular involvement in hobbies or activities. Joining activities that promote positive self-expression (music, art or drama) or self-efficacy (such as sports or skill-based activities), and continuing them through adolescence, can support building a positive and stable identity, the primary task and stress of teenage years. Other protective factors are more difficult to cultivate. People with a positive self-image, strong problem-solving skills, and the ability to regulate their emotions tend to be more able to cope in times of increased stress. If a child is struggling in these areas, especially while distancing themself from family or friends, it may be time to think about family therapy. Engaging teenagers in therapy isn’t easy, so building a trusting relationship with a mental health professional early for youth with heightened risk factors is instrumental in suicide prevention. Working with youth also comes with a unique set of challenges. They can be more impulsive, have trouble seeing a long-term perspective, and be heavily influenced by their friends and online relationships. These are just a few reasons why it’s important to find a therapist with extensive experience treating youth. The right professional can advise parents on what’s typical versus when to access other services, and how to keep channels of communication open. Trust Evidence-Based Therapies When a child is in therapy for suicidal thoughts or actions, it’s critical to use an evidence-based treatment approach. As a career therapist and Director of Youth Shelter Services at Grafton Integrated Health Network, my team and I rely on the CAMS model. Short for Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality, CAMS was developed over 30 years ago to specifically assess and treat suicidal risk. This method uses a highly individualized approach that allows patients to be actively involved in the development of their own treatment plans. Rather than shaming youth for their suicidal behavior, our therapists take an empathetic and non-judgmental approach, which helps us identify and treat the root causes of the client’s suffering. In randomized controlled trials, the CAMS model has been shown to more accurately assess the need for acute hospitalization and reduce suicidal thoughts. We know this approach works. With the help of a psychiatrist, music therapist, and individual and family therapy using mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral interventions, Alyssa was able to feel more hopeful and connected, while reducing her thoughts of suicide. Her therapy included identifying and working towards positive future goals, improving problematic communication patterns, increasing connection in activities with supportive peers, and following a safety plan. There is no quick fix for youth suicide, but promoting good mental health and seeking professional help early is the best prevention we have. It’s also never too late for a child and family to seek the right supports to build resiliency and move towards recovery. * Patient name has been changed to protect privacy. If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. View the full article
  6.  Not getting enough sleep impacts every single person. It makes us irritable, slows our reflexes, and reduces our ability to think and reason. When a person is sick or suffering from an illness, getting more sleep is beneficial to the healing process. Mental Illness is no different. You will benefit from regular sleep. In today’s episode, we talk about sleep hygiene – what it is and why it is important. Trust us, if anyone can make a discussion about sleep engaging, it’s Gabe and Michelle. Listen Now. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW “When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re a crabby ass. If you’re mentally ill and don’t get enough sleep, you’re a crazy crabby ass.” – Gabe Howard Highlights From ‘Sleeping Mental Illness’ Episode [0:30] Let’s talk about sleep hygiene. [3:00] Good sleep, bad sleep, and more sleep. [9:15] Sleeping and waking up with psych meds. [13:00] Kanye West makes an appearance. . .oy vey. [17:00] Resetting your sleep cycle. [19:00] Should you tell your doc if you are having trouble sleeping? [21:00] The dangers of book lights. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Sleeping Mental Illness’ Show Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Announcer: For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Gabe: Welcome to this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. My name is Gabe and I have bipolar. Michelle: Hi, I’m Michelle and I’m schizophrenic. Gabe: And today we are going to talk about. Michelle: Sleep hygiene. Gabe: You couldn’t even say it exciting. Michelle: Well, I mean, I like sleeping. Hygiene is something I struggle with, but together they form a thing. What is it Gabe? Gabe: The rituals, behaviors, and norms that you follow around sleep. And they are referred to as, hey shocker, “sleep hygiene.” Regularly pulling all nighters, or sleeping in on the weekends so that you can make up for lost sleep, are both examples of poor sleep hygiene. Conversely, following a regular sleep schedule and avoiding things like caffeine, staying up all night, and bingeing on Netflix are good sleep hygiene practices. Listen, don’t beat yourself oup if you don’t practice perfect sleep hygiene. Even I don’t practice perfect sleep hygiene. Michelle: Damn right you don’t. Because we stay up all night watching “The People’s Court.” Gabe: That is an example of poor sleep hygiene. You hate sleep hygiene. You and I have been doing this a while now and we get asked different things that lead to or where the answer is sleep hygiene, and every time I say, “Look, you’ve got to pay attention to your sleep,” you literally look at me and roll your eyes. Why is the concept of sleep hygiene bother you so much? Michelle: I don’t know why it bothers me so much. It’s just the question of you should really get sleep, because sleep is important, and if you don’t get enough sleep you won’t feel good in the morning, and then you might have a bad day. So sleep hygiene really is important. Case closed. Gabe: I wish it was called, like, if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be a crabby ass and if you’re mentally ill and you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be a crazy crabby ass. Like wouldn’t that be cool? Now you’re getting into it. If the name explained how sleep makes you not a crazy crabby ass. Michelle: Well then, you need more sleep, Gabe. Gabe: Oh my God. I would call it get enough sleep so you’re not an asshole. Michelle: Yeah? Get enough sleep because you’re not an asshole? That’s your next book Gabe. Gabe: All of my books are just gonna have “asshole” in the title. And like when we get really big and famous you know my book is gonna be called? Michelle: Asshole? Gabe: I worked with an asshole. Michelle: I worked with an asshole? Gabe: We should get shirts that say I’m with asshole and it points to the left and yours points to the right and then we’ll just walk down the street together. Michelle: No, we don’t want to do that. I’ll walk on one side and you walk on the other side of the avenue view so everybody can think that we’re talking about everybody else. Gabe: That’s right because we are a unit, and we would never call each other assholes in public. Michelle: That’s right. I would never insult you, Gabe. Never. I never ever insulted you. I’ve never said anything mean about you. Gabe: You know it’s being recorded right? Michelle: Oh? There’s proof of that? Gabe: There’s so much proof now. Michelle: Oh no. What’s going on? Are people catching me in my lies? Maybe I told in my sleep. Do I need more sleep? Maybe I didn’t get my sleep hygiene enough? Oh no. Gabe: All sleep hygiene is, is paying attention to your sleep and doing the things that allow you to sleep well so that you wake up refreshed. Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. How we sleep is very important. Like for example, do you get in bed and toss and turn all night? That would be an example of poor sleep. Good sleep is if you stay relatively set and there’s things that you can do that contribute to good sleep hygiene. Like, only use your bed for sleep and sex. Other people use their beds for everything. Like for example, Michelle, your bed is basically the corporate offices of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Michelle: I live in New York City. Where am I supposed to put a desk? Gabe: You have a living room. Michelle: Where am I going to fit a desk in my living room? Gabe: You could put the desk in your bedroom. Michelle: Where the hell will a desk fit in my bedroom? Gabe: There is enough room for a desk. Michelle: No there is not. You obviously have never been to my apartment. Gabe: That’s not true. We taped an episode there. Michelle: I have three people in a two bedroom, Gabe. Gabe: All right I’ll give you that. I’ll give you that. Michelle: There is no room for it. Gabe: These are the struggles that people have then, right? What you’re saying is, “Look, I need to do things in my bed. This is important to me because I just don’t have a lot of space so I have my laptop. I sit in bed and I do things like record my show, do my writing, run my business. You do an amazing number of things in your bed. Michelle: You don’t even know my bed, Gabe. Not my bed. It has seen things you wouldn’t even believe. Gabe: That is not a sex joke. I’ve seen you prepare orders on your bed. You know, your T-shirt business and your clothing line and your leggings and all of that stuff. You know you get big orders and you’ve got packaging material, labelling, and everything all on your bed. You got like tape. Michelle: But that’s not usually on my bed. I don’t want people thinking that I’m like putting stuff on my bed like that. I make like you know layouts and stuff but I usually do it in my living room. Gabe: The point I’m making is that your bed is a flat surface in a place where a flat surface is at a premium so you can see why. But can you see why doing all of those things in your bed can create this idea in your body that when you were in your bed it’s not time to sleep? When you climb into bed, your body doesn’t know if you’re working on the next great project. Or if you’re trying to sleep. It kind of confuses you on a subconscious level a little bit. And that’s why the idea of just using your bed for sleep is good for sleep hygiene. For me in my house when I get into bed there’s nothing else to do there. Michelle: You have an office and a desk, Gabe. Gabe: Listen, you’re coming up with a lot of reasons that you can’t do it. But the bottom line is if you are having trouble sleeping. Michelle: I’m not having trouble sleeping. Gabe: Ok. In this case you don’t need to practice some of these sleep hygiene levels but there’s many people who do. Michelle: That’s true. What about? Do you remember that time I was like I’m going to get back out of bed at 10:00 every day? And you’re like lie! Gabe: Yeah. Michelle: Isn’t that kind of go sleep hygiene of sleeping far too late? Gabe: So not getting enough sleep is poor sleep hygiene, and getting too much sleep is also poor sleep hygiene. It’s getting the right amount of sleep and the next thing that I want to talk about is this magical eight hours. No, this is bullshit. It’s bullshit. It’s an average. The average person needs eight hours of sleep. When was the last time people with mental illness were ever considered the average person? So people are beating themselves up if they need too much sleep or if they’re not sleeping enough based on some number that they read on the Internet. Michelle: Yeah. Gabe: You can see where this would be. It’s like I slept 10 hours and I woke up feeling refreshed but I’m so lazy I slept two hours too long. If that’s the amount of sleep that you need that’s the amount of sleep that you need. And the reverse is also true. Well I only slept six hours I’m not getting enough sleep. Well do you wake up refreshed? Do you get tired throughout the day? Do you have enough energy? Then six hours is enough. You need sleep to survive. Michelle: Yes. Agreed. Yeah. Gabe: Yeah. You need sleep. Michelle: Right. We are not robots right. But if we were robots, maybe we’d need a plug? Gabe: Yeah. We don’t have plugs we’re not Priuses. Michelle: Oh we’re not? Gabe: We’re not. We’re not a Nissan Volt. I’m not a car. We’re not a Tesla. Gabe: Well, maybe if you run like jump on my back I can carry on and I’ll be a car. Gabe: There are so many reasons you’re not a Tesla. You’re not high quality. Michelle: Hey! Gabe: Nobody wants you. Michelle: Hey! Gabe: And you don’t run right. Michelle: I had a Hyundai. Gabe: Yeah? I can see you as a Hyundai. Michelle: Hey, shut up. Gabe: Hyundai’s are pretty, but they’re not very reliable, are you? Michelle: Not very reliable? Well, I had 2002 before they got pretty. Gabe: Oh, so you’re an ugly Hyundai? Michelle: I’m an ugly Hyundai, yes. One time it got hit by a preacher. Gabe: What? You actually had your car hit by God? Michelle: I’m pretty tired. Let’s hear from our sponsor. Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist, whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you.BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Gabe: We’re back talking sleep hygiene. Michelle’s favorite subject. If you’re having sleeping problems, it can be a couple of different things. One, it can just be the makeup of who you are as a person and there’s things that you can do to sleep better. Again like the whole dreaded only use your bed for sleep and sex and yes I know you live in New York City but there’s other things that you can do as well. Like, I have a ritual surrounding my bedtime and I know that people think that they’re you know they’re boring and lame or whatever and they are boring and lame, but they pay big big dividends. Michelle: What I was also going to say is that I do take a pill at night, and if I did not take that pill at night I would not sleep whatsoever. Gabe: Now is that pill to help you sleep or is that pill to treat schizophrenia? Michelle: No it was prescribed to help schizophrenia and. Gabe: So an added benefit? Michelle: Yes, it had the added benefit of knocking me out at night. If I did not take it.,I’d be up all night long. Gabe: That’s an interesting thing too. I have the same thing. There is a pill that pretty much knocked me out as well but it’s not a sleeping pill. It just one of the side effects is that it makes me sleepy, so I moved it to nighttime and this is where it becomes very good to understand what your medication does, what the side effects are, and how you can benefit. Michelle: Yeah, it’s one of those pills that always says on the bottle do not operate heavy machinery or drive a car when you take this medication. Gabe: You know, talk to your doctor about taking that at night because if you took it in the morning you’d be sleepy all day. By moving it to night, you can use the side effect to your advantage. Michelle: Absolutely. Gabe: You can take that pill at the same time every day, which by definition will make you fall asleep at the same time every day. Michelle: What usually happens is at night I get a little chatty with myself and I get told take your medicine. Have you taken your medicine yet? You need to take your medicine and I go Yeah OK I’ll take it because I start just talking to imaginary people going into the delusions and it’s kind of what happens. Gabe: But the people that are telling you to do that they’re not saying that mean? Like I’m. Michelle: No, not at all. Gabe: Kind of in a mocking way. You’re just trying to be funny right now. Michelle: Exactly. It’s not mocking it’s more like out of care. It’s like Are you OK. Did you take your medicine? Take it right now? Now you maybe you should go take your medicine now. Gabe: Like because we see you not in reality at the moment, and then you take that pill, you go to bed and then you get up the next morning refreshed? Michelle: Right. Gabe: Now another part of your sleep hygiene is when you wake up in the morning. You also need to immediately take your morning pills. So even though that’s not technically sleep hygiene, because it’s more part of your morning routine it’s sort of tangentially based. It is it is a thing that you need to do when you awaken. Michelle: Right. And if I get up and I don’t take my morning pills, I am just pacing around my apartment just just maybe for an hour just back and forth and I need somebody in the morning pretty much telling me go take your medicine. Otherwise I am just just going to dilly dally forever. Gabe: So even though you hate sleep hygiene, you’re sort of admitting that you’re practicing it. You take pills at the end of the day at the same time. Those pills help you sleep. Once you take the pills you go to sleep. Then you wake up at the same time every day. You take those pills and that helps you and when you’re away from people who don’t keep you on this schedule you stay up all night. You sleep all day and it wrecks your productivity. Michelle: Absolutely. Gabe: So even though you hate sleep hygiene you acknowledge that you benefit from it wildly? Michelle: Absolutely. But I just hate talking about sleep hygiene. Hate to talk about sleep hygiene and sleep. I think it’s just so annoying. Gabe: One of the reasons that I love sleep hygiene so much is because as somebody who has experienced mania and stayed up for three, four, or five days at a time, that was very dangerous and it was very bad. It was very bad for my relationships, it was very bad for jobs. I could have died. I lost complete control of my senses and faculties and if I would have gotten in a car or jumped off a roof. These are things that really could have harmed me. So that’s really really important and I know when I don’t get enough sleep the next day is awful. Here’s an example from recent memory, I stayed up pretty much all night because I have insomnia and the next day all I did was walk around and tell everybody I know that if I was dead the world be a better place. I wasn’t suicidal but it was close because I felt so bad. I just felt so rundown and so awful and it fed the depression. You remember I texted you and I’m just like this is stupid we shouldn’t do it anymore and you’re like What are you talking about? Michelle: I did not even know what to do at that point because I was just trying to comfort you I guess I was trying to be like What are you talking about, Gabe? I don’t know where this is coming from because that’s just not you. It’s not something you usually say. You’re usually very motivated. Gabe: And this was an example of behavior that came directly from not getting enough sleep. So as boring as sleep hygiene is you can see why it’s so important to me because I don’t want to walk around telling people that I’d be better off dead. Michelle: Yeah. Gabe: And I imagine that you probably don’t want to hear that I think that I’m better off dead. That’s got to be scary. Michelle: Yeah. Gabe: I mean I’d like to think that you love me. Michelle: I also want to bring up, do you not remember the little interview of Kanye West saying he’s not bipolar? He’s suffering from sleep deprivation? Do you know what a huge symptom of bipolar is? Gabe: Sleep deprivation? Michelle: Yes. As who is not practicing good sleep hygiene? Gabe: I’m going to go to Kanye West. Michelle: You’re right, Gabe. You’re right. Gabe: Here’s some quick hints and tips for people that are having trouble sleeping to help fall asleep at night. One I really strongly suggest only using your bed for sleep and sex but I also I have a sleep machine. Michelle: What if you have sex on your couch? Gabe: Look you’re going to do what you want. Nobody is saying that you can only have sex in your bed. Michelle: I’m just saying. Because then what if you’re having sex on your couch, you take a nap on your couch, and then you? Gabe: Let me stop you there. You should not nap on your couch. You should not sleep anywhere but in a bed or your own bed. And this of course, for people like us who travel a lot, this is very difficult and I’ll get to that in a minute because I want to go back to the sleep machine. People are like What the hell is a sleep machine? Michelle: What’s the sleep machine? Gabe: Yeah it’s really a sound machine. It’s like a white noise machine. I call it a sleep machine because I only use it for sleeping. So I turn it on and it helps regulate the room. You know it sounds like this. Are you ready? [cooing noise] So when I lay in bed that’s all I can hear, so it blocks out a lot of the external noise. It keeps the noise from going high and low and high and low. Research tells us that it’s noises that are out of the ordinary that wake us up. So, for example, people that live next to train tracks, they can sleep through the train because after a couple of weeks their body is expecting that noise. So that noise doesn’t wake them up. Michelle: That’s true. Gabe: It’s the same thing behind those fire alarms. Those smoke alarms where instead of beeping, you can record your voice or you can record your spouse’s voice or your mother’s voice. So it yells like, “Wake up, Michelle, the house is on fire!” Instead of beep beep beep. Michelle: I see what you’re saying. Gabe: Now listen, I’m gonna wake up immediately when I hear beep, beep, beep. But that’s just me and this is also why some people have alarm clocks that play the radio because they get used to the beeping in the morning, whereas the radio is always going to be different songs different sounds different you know rhythms etc. So it kind of forces them up in the morning and then some people have so much trouble getting up that they have you know like a vibrating pillow case. Which I didn’t even know existed until doing research about sleep. Michelle: I didn’t know that it existed until just this moment right now. Gabe: Yeah. The way that it works is it’s got a cord. You put it inside your pillow and you sleep on it and then when it’s time to get up the pillow shakes. Michelle: I would have never have guessed you sleep on your pillow. Gabe: I do sleep on my pillow. I sleep with my head on my pillow. I don’t need a vibrating pillow case, but I found out about this through the research, and I found out about it because the deaf community uses it and that makes sense because they can’t set an alarm. Michelle: Genius. Gabe: Yes, they use a vibrating pillow case and they also have vibrating pillow cases that are so advanced that they can hook into things like smoke alarms. So if the smoke alarm goes off it automatically vibrates the pillow. Michelle: You know I have an Alexa which connects to my partner’s cell phone and sometimes she’ll break into the Alexa going wake up wake up Are you awake? Wake up. But I’m like, oh my God, this bitch! Gabe: Wait, wait. How do I do that next time? Michelle: I’m not telling. Gabe: The next time you miss a meeting. Michelle: I’m not telling you how to get into my Alexa. Or it has like different alarms you can wake up to that whatever the hell his name is? Oh, I know what it was. That, that guy married to Gwen Stefani? What is his name? Gabe: Who is Gwen Stefani? Michelle: No, no. Gabe: Don’t speak. Just tell me what you’re feeling. Michelle: Shut up. His name is the guy that was voted sexiest man in America. What is his name? Gabe: The Rock? Michelle: No, Blake Shelton. Sometimes I wake up to just the alarm clock of Blake Shelton like Oh is it a morning? Can I get a beer or maybe I can get a coffee? Gabe: So it’s actually his voice? Michelle: It’s his voice waking me up. Yeah. Gabe: Talking about beer and coffee and these things help you get up at the same time every day because one of the dangers of not getting up at the same time every day is that you sort of reset your cycle. So let’s say for example that you go to bed at 8:00 and you get up at 8:00. Now that’s twelve hours of sleep and that’s a lot but let’s say that that’s how much you need and it’s also easy math for me. So you go to bed at 8:00 and you get up at 8:00 and that’s your twelve hour sleep pattern. But let’s say that one of those days you go to bed at midnight. Now if you follow your same 12 hours sleep pattern you’re gonna get up at noon. Well if you go to bed at midnight and you get up at noon that day what are the chances you’re going to fall asleep at 8:00 that night? You’re not. You’re going to go to sleep at midnight again and then you’re gonna be on a midnight to noon, midnight to noon, and that’s really going to reset your sleep schedule. So the best thing to do is that even though you stayed up too late and went to bed at midnight, you’re actually pretty wise to get up at 8:00 anyway. Or maybe push it to 9:00, but don’t get the full twelve hours. You might drag a little bit that day. But then at eight o’clock that night you’ll go to bed again. Sleep just really really impacts. It just does. It just does. Michelle: It does. I can’t tell you how many bosses have spoken to me about getting in on time and getting enough sleep. Gabe: Yeah. Whether you have mental illness or not, sleep can really impact the kind of day that you have. Find the most mentally healthy person that you can find and keep them up all night and then see how they act the next day. And when you’re living with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. The way that the sleep interacts with those illnesses is huge. I know that sleep is boring but it really is important. And so often getting more sleep, just like getting more exercise or eating healthier or showering or doing self care or coping mechanisms or taking our meds on time, sleep plays a vital role in keeping us healthy. And I know it’s boring, Michelle. Michelle: It’s just boring to talk about sleep hygiene. That’s what I think. But I understand sleep is important. I completely understand. I get it. Sleep yes sleep. I’ll go take a nap if you want me to take a nap. Gabe: No, napping is bad. Michelle: I’m sorry. Don’t take a nap. Don’t take a nap. Don’t ever take a nap. Naps are evil. Naps are evil. Gabe: Another thing that I want people to understand is that sleep matters. Sleep is a medical thing. If you are having trouble sleeping, that is a symptom. Report that to your psychiatrist or to your general practitioner or to your family doctor. So many people don’t report issues sleeping and so many doctors don’t ask people if they’re having trouble sleeping. If you are not getting enough sleep, if you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, please talk to your doctor. I know it’s not sexy. But, for real, this could be why you’re having side effects from medication. This could be why you’re having issues managing your mental illness. It might have nothing to do with mental illness at all. It might be a sleep problem but because so many people aren’t asking about it they’re not getting help with it. You know sleep. It is boring but it’s real necessary. Michelle: Gabe’s going to come out with a new shirt that says, “Sleep Matters.”. Gabe: Sleep does matter. Michelle: Sleep matters. Gabe: Do you think people would buy it? Michelle: I don’t see anyone who would buy that shirt. Gabe: I’d be like, “Define Sleep.” Michelle: Define sleep? What? No, sleep matters. Gabe: Don’t be paranoid, you sleep fine. Michelle: “Sleep matters if you don’t agree then stay awake.”. Gabe: How many words are you going to put on this? Michelle: This is going to be the longest shirt ever because when you’re done reading the shirt, you’re tired enough to sleep. Gabe: Hey, maybe this is like it’s an all natural, vegan, gluten free sleep aid? Michelle: Or by Gabe’s book. Mental illness is an asshole and it’ll put you to sleep. Gabe: That’s just so mean, that’s so mean. Michelle: No, you read enough, your eyes get tired you go to bed. Just get a little itty bitty book light. Gabe: A little itty bitty book light to strain your eyes and get glasses? We’re going to do another show on make sure you have enough light to read. Michelle: I didn’t know that that was a thing, that book lights were a bad thing. I’m so sorry I insulted book lights. Oh no I didn’t know. Gabe: We’re gonna get letters for this one. Michelle: I didn’t know. It’s a book light. Book light or bulb lights were bad. I thought book lights were good. Gabe: Also, they’re not “book lights.” They’re “lights living for books.” Get it right. Michelle: Oh my goodness. I can’t stop insulting the world about books and sleeping and and the world and Kanye West doesn’t get enough sleep. All sleep deprived and what’s going on? And setting alarms and Alexa wakes you up and there’s a dog sleeping on the floor right now. Who knows what’s going on in the world? Gabe, there’s a dog right there sleeping. Taking a nap. Peppy, no naps. Oh, you woke up. Good. Gabe: You just yelled at my dog. Michelle: He’s taking a nap and you said No naps. You said No naps. You said and he’s napping. Gabe: You yelled his name and he jumped up like you fired a gun at him. Michelle: You said No naps and I see him napping. Gabe: He thinks he’s in trouble. What did you do? Michelle: You’re not in trouble but your father doesn’t allow naps, Peppy. Behave. Gabe: Now would be a good time to point out that the rules for animals and the rules for people often differ. For example, people should not see veterinarians. They should go to people doctors. Michelle: People doctors? Gabe: People doctors. Michelle: People doctors? That’s what they’re called? Gabe: Yeah. Michelle: I agree. Gabe: We need a closing. What do we got? What do we got? Michelle: In conclusion. In conclusion, if you want to have a good prosperous life, practice good sleep hygiene and make Gabe happy because he really likes this topic. Everyone, if you like A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast, subscribe to us on iTunes. Listen to us everywhere, write us a review, give us five stars, tell us you love us, tell the world you love us, share everything. We love you and we hope you love us. Thank you everybody. Announcer: You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episode, don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe, rate, and review. To work with Gabe, go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle, go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups, head over to PsychCentral.com. This show’s official web site is PsychCentral.com/BSP. You can e-mail us at show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening, and share widely. Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com. MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC. View the full article
  7. You have depression, or bipolar disorder. And on some days, you feel like you’re treading water—at best. You’re tired of struggling. You’re tired of regularly feeling tired. You’re angry that your to-do list just keeps getting longer and longer. You’re angry that you have to deal with so much darkness day in and day out. Some days are just hard. Some days you feel so overwhelmed. It is on these days that you probably feel like the only person on the planet who’s struggling with persistent symptoms. Thankfully, you’re not. And thankfully, it will get better. We asked individuals who live with depression or bipolar disorder to share what they’d like others who are feeling overwhelmed with these same conditions to know. Most of the individuals are speakers from This Is My Brave, a fantastic nonprofit organization that hosts live events and aims to “end the stigma surrounding mental illness through storytelling.” Get treatment. T-Kea Blackman, a mental health advocate and speaker who lives with depression and anxiety, stressed the importance of seeing a therapist who can help you identify triggers, learn healthy coping tools, and set boundaries, along with a psychiatrist if you need to take medication. (For bipolar disorder, both medication and therapy are vital.) Blackman emphasized not getting discouraged if the first or third medication you try doesn’t work, or the first or third therapist you see isn’t a good fit. “It can take time to find the right dosage and medication, and therapist for you.” This can be frustrating, but it’s common—and you will find the right help. Focus on small victories. Sivaquoi Laughlin, a writer, blogger, and mental health advocate with bipolar II disorder, has good days, bad days, and sometimes great days. She underscored the importance of realizing that it’s OK not to be OK, and acknowledging small victories, which are actually “huge.” Some days, those small victories might be getting out of bed and taking a shower, she said. Other days, they might be excelling at work and going to dinner with friends. Either way, it’s all important and worthwhile. Forgive yourself. Fiona Thomas, a writer who has depression and anxiety, stressed the importance of not beating yourself up when you don’t do everything on your list, or when you have bad days. One of her friends always says: “Remember that your best changes when you’re not feeling well.” Thomas, author of the book Depression in a Digital Age: The Highs and Lows of Perfectionism, suggested not comparing today’s output to your output from last year or last week. “It all depends on how you’re feeling mentally, and if you’re not 100 percent, then just do what you can—the rest will come later.” Thomas also suggested doing one small thing every day that makes you feel better. This might be anything from drinking a few glasses of water to walking around the block to talking to a friend, she said. “There are so many ways to boost your mood little by little, and over time, they become habits and make you feel better without even really having to try.” Do one enjoyable thing every day. Similarly, Laughlin encouraged readers to find one thing that brings you happiness, and try to incorporate that into your daily routine. For Laughlin, it’s many “one things.” That is, she loves being with her grandson and her dogs, meditating, hiking, reading, and writing. “Start small and build upon it. Forgive yourself if you miss a day or days.” Remember you are not broken. Suzanne Garverich is a public health advocate who is passionate about fighting mental health stigma through her work on suicide prevention as well as telling her story of living with bipolar II disorder. She wants readers to know that you “are not damaged, but [instead] so courageous and strong to live through and fight through this illness.” Document your OK days. This way, “when you are having an off day or month or series of months, you can go back and remind yourself that you have felt differently,” said Leah Beth Carrier, a mental health advocate working on her master’s in public health, who has depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and PTSD. “You are capable of experiencing emotions other than the numb, black hole you reside in at the moment. There is hope.” Surround yourself with support. “Surround yourself with people who can support you and find an online community who can relate to you, such as the Buddy Project or my community, Fireflies Unite,” Blackman said. She also noted that the National Alliance on Mental Illness offers free support groups. Other online supports include: Psych Central’s forums, and Project Hope & Beyond and Group Beyond Blue–both of which were started by one of our associate editors, Therese Borchard. Teresa Boardman, who has treatment-resistant bipolar disorder, attends weekly therapy sessions, but sometimes, she said, she needs more. “It’s OK to talk frankly with someone. I like to use the crisis text line because I do not have to break my cone of silence. Expressing yourself truly makes you feel less alone.” Living with a mental illness can be hard. Acknowledge this. Acknowledge your overwhelmed, exasperated, angry feelings. Remind yourself that you’re not alone. And remind yourself that you are doing an incredible job, even on the days it doesn’t feel like it. View the full article
  8. “Take another deep breath, hold it, and let yourself feel like you’re drifting and floating.” The voice overtook me as I felt my body slip into that weightless feeling between consciousness and sleep. It was as if someone wrapped my body in memory foam and filled every corner of my mind with white noise. “My jaw is slack.” “My shoulders are relaxed.” “My neck is loose.” These were some of the phrases that I was told to repeat to myself in a recording made by my therapist and given to me during our first session together. Each one focused on a different body part, meant to make me feel warm, heavy, and unconstrained. This was the beginning of my biofeedback training. Just Relax I chose my therapist because he’s an expert in biofeedback, a psychology technique where a patient learns to control their body’s functions, like heart rate or palm sweating. Biofeedback was first introduced in 1969 as the crossroads of traditional whitecoat psychologists and those interested in a higher consciousness. Before I could reach a higher consciousness though, I had to master just being relaxed. A few weeks prior to my first appointment with him, I was trapped in a horror movie in my own mind. I couldn’t shake this one single thought that replayed itself incessantly for a week straight: that of the top knuckle on my right ring finger snapping backwards and breaking. It’s a disturbing thought on its own to anyone who prefers their fingers in tact, but imagine it popping into your mind over and over — and over and over — until you want to check yourself into a psych ward. I was consumed. I could barely talk or sleep or work without wanting to slam my head against a wall. I was desperate for any advice, so when my dad recommended biofeedback, I made an appointment immediately. The technique he employed in the recording is called autogenic relaxation. Through the self-induced relaxation akin to hypnosis, my doctor coaches his patients to cure themselves of ailments like depression, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure and anxiety — my personal woe. Learning to relax your body was just the first part, though. Anxiety by the Numbers At my next appointment with my therapist, he hooked me up to a slew of sensors as I reclined in his plush leather chair. Three cold metal circles stuck to my forehead measured my muscle tension in millivolts, a small wire taped to my pointer finger took my skin temperature, and two more sensors on other fingers measured my sweat production. Once I was connected, the doctor quizzed me. “Alright, count backwards from 1,000 by 3s. If you mess up, you have to start over. If you don’t get to 940 in 30 seconds, you have to start over. Ready, go.” I’m sure my measurements immediately spiked. I’m terrible at math and to add a time pressure to them was beyond stressful. But I got through it. He did it again, but with higher stakes. “Okay, now you’re going to count backwards from 1,000 by 6s and you have to get to 860 in 30 seconds. Ready, go.” To prepare for my biofeedback training, my therapist was simulating an anxiety-inducing situation to see what my normal and stressful levels were. During the following appointment, he again hooked me up to the muscle tension sensors, but this time instead of stressing me out, he walked me through the autogenic relaxation phrases from the recording. But this time, the machine I was hooked up to was now emitting a pulsing sound that correlated with my muscle tension level. The more tense I was, the faster the pulses. As his voice coached me through the phrases, and then in the next appointments as I walked myself through them, I learned to listen to the pulsing and to my body to see what slowed the tempo. My muscle tension level started at around 4.0 millivolts and he told me some of his patients start out at as high as 10 millivolts. Each appointment, he set the threshold lower and lower on the scale and once I reached it, the pulsing turned off. Each appointment, I was learning to bring myself to a more relaxed state than the time before. By focusing on the pulsing, I experimented with what autogenic relaxation phrases worked best for me, what my ideal relaxed breath is like, and even how to position my head and arms for optimal relaxation. Put to the Test I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. As I walked into the doctor’s office during my fourth session, I laid eyes on someone from my past who brings me a great amount of anxiety. My heart rate spiked and my chest tightened. Suddenly, breathing became a difficult task. I immediately turned on my heels and hid in my car until the person left, but the anxiety followed me into my appointment. My newfound relaxation technique was about to be tested. As I cleared my mind during the biofeedback training, I was able to turn the pulsing off, meaning I brought my muscle tension down to the threshold set by the doctor, but the second the stressful person popped back into my mind, the pulsing turned back on. Over and over I emptied my mind and filled it with the autogenic relaxation phrases and turned the pulsing off, but, again, it’d spike back up once I thought of the person. Running into my past turned out to be a blessing in disguise; I was learning to control the stressful thoughts and ensuing physiological response with just my mind. It was hard work, but I knew it would be a skill I could turn to my whole life. If I could control my heart racing, maybe it’d be easier to quiet my disturbing thoughts. In the sessions that followed, I learned to relax myself instantaneously and in any situation without the autogenic phrases, getting my muscle tension level from the original 4.0 down to just 1.7. I’m now able to take a deep breath, let it out, hold it, and find that perfect state of relaxation — like magic. Biofeedback empowered me during a time when I felt shaken down to my core. I walked away from each appointment feeling like I have a superpower and for the first time in years, I feel like I can finally control the anxiety that seems to rule my life. View the full article
  9. Bochum-based psychologists have studied how the application of the stress hormone cortisol affects exposure therapy for anxiety disorders. View the full article
  10. Phobiasupportforum

    Podcast: Helping a Friend with Mental Illness

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

    Differences in Depression Between Men and Women

    Depression is one of the most difficult conditions to contend with and manage. This is due in part to the fact that it can go undiagnosed for years. Many people suffer with depression not realizing that the problems they are having and the way they are feeling can be addressed and improved with help, time, and effort. And while anyone can suffer with depression, there are some significant differences in the way that it affects men versus women. Although there are several symptoms of depression that are common to both men and women, the way that a man experiences and expresses depression can be very different than the way a woman does. And women are twice as likely to experience depression during their lifetime than men. So understanding how to recognize the symptoms of depression and the differences in how they are expressed in men vs. women are vital when helping yourself or someone you love. Common Signs of Depression It’s important to note that depression is more than just sadness. A person who has lost a friend, or is going through a tough time at work may feel down and seem “depressed.” Most, however, will experience these things and the associated emotions for a time and then move on. Some people though can find themselves feeling more than just sad and unable to regain a normal, positive outlook on things. This can be clinical depression, which is much more than the temporary feeling that comes with a loss or the ups and downs of life, and it can be far more serious. As mentioned, there are several symptoms of depression that are common to both men and women. Some of those signs include: Feelings of hopelessness and despair. Lack of interest in friends or activities that were once enjoyed. Inability to concentrate. Changes in eating and sleeping habits. Inability to maintain the normal functions of daily life like working, household duties, or paying bills. While these are not all of the ways that depression can manifest, they are fairly common and can be seen in both men and women alike. Depression in Women When it comes to a woman there are some additional symptoms of depression to watch for. Women tend to be more likely to actually express the emotions they are feeling in ways like crying for no clear reason or becoming highly insecure and losing self-confidence. There is also a higher prevalence of eating disorders in depressed women. And unlike men, whose eating habits can also change, a woman is more likely to overeat — emotional eating — rather than to stop eating. Women may engage more heavily in negative self-talk and feel that they are to blame for their own problems or for the problems of those around them. The danger with all of these behaviors is that they can be self-perpetuating and make depression worse. You tell yourself you’re the problem and you become the problem, you overeat and feel badly about yourself and the negative self-talk gets worse. Before long there is no clear path out and the feelings of despair become overwhelming. Depression in Men Men are far less likely to express the emotions that are typically associated with sadness. Instead, they may go to extremes with dangerous or risky behavior. A man is far more likely to develop anger issues or no longer be able to manage a normal anger response. It’s not uncommon to find that a man who is emotionally, even physically abusive, could be suffering from depression. This, of course, doesn’t excuse abusive behavior, but the behavior will be hard to change without dealing with the underlying issues. It’s also not uncommon for depressed men to turn to alcohol or other substances as a means for dulling the emotional pain they are experiencing. Self-medicating only temporarily alleviates the depressive problems being experienced and overall makes things exponentially worse. These are a mask for the real problems and taken to extremes can cause problems of their own. The reasons people experience depression can also vary a great deal. And just as there are different ways that men and women express depression, there can also be very different triggers for each gender. The largest and most common trigger for either sex, however, is a major change in life like the end to a relationship, a change in health, the loss of a loved one or birth of a child. If you or anyone you are close to has experienced a traumatic life event (or in the case of a new baby, not so traumatic) and are showing any of the signs listed above, it’s time to get help. Depression can go undiagnosed and untreated for a long-time and the longer it goes the more detrimental the consequences. There are many avenues for support and healing if you are suffering from depression, so seek one out. View the full article
  12. According to a 2013 study published in JAMA Psychiatry, one out of seven mothers suffers from postpartum depression (PPD). That’s 14 percent of all new moms. Katherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress, makes a good point that more women will suffer from postpartum depression and related illnesses this year than the combined number of new cases for men and women of tuberculosis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy. Even though, according to Dr. Ruta Nonacs of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, PPD is the most common complication associated with pregnancy and childbirth, few women are screened. It certainly took me by surprise after the birth of my daughter, which is why I like to bring awareness to it whenever possible. Here are some typical symptoms of PPD to watch out for in yourself, a daughter, or a friend, followed by a few strategies for recovery. Symptoms of Postpartum Depression Symptom 1: A Deepening Blue In her book A Deeper Shade of Blue, Dr. Nonacs explains that the symptoms of depression are usually mild at first — your typical blues — but they worsen over time. The significant shifts in hormones that occur in the days and weeks after delivery are bound to trigger some moodiness, she explains. These blues are to be expected and are generally benign. “Depression is different,” she writes. “With depression, the negative emotions you experience are more intense, more pervasive, and more persistent.” Although she says that some women have a sudden onset of depressive symptoms right after delivery, typically PPD develops gradually over the first two to three months after the baby is born. Symptom 2: Disconnection and Apathy Not only is a depressed mom incapable of bonding with her newborn, she struggles with all kinds of emotional attachment. This is evident in her speech and in her interactions with friends, family, and co-workers. She is disconnected from all persons and activities that once gave her joy and experiences a kind of apathy that keeps her isolated from her world. Symptom 3: Guilt The depressed mom feels immense guilt for not enjoying early motherhood and for not being able to bond with her baby. She feels as though she is a failure at this role and isn’t equipped to raise a child. She wants to experience the mommy bliss that other mothers do, and beats herself up for her negative attitudes toward motherhood. Symptom 4: Inability to Concentrate A mom experiencing PPD can’t focus, make a decision, or articulate thoughts. She operates in a fog, as she feels completely overwhelmed. Simple tasks like feeding her baby create stress as her cognitive capacity is diminished. Symptom 5: Insomnia A woman with PPD has trouble sleeping, even when her baby is sleeping. The irregular sleeping pattern of her baby matched with her own depression and anxiety prevent her from nodding off, which, in turn, contributes to her insomnia and diminished mental state. Symptom 6: Irritability A depressed mom is often irritable and angry, lashing out at husbands, family members, and friends for no reason at all. She may be annoyed by everything and is incapable of patience. Some depressed moms feel resentment toward their babies. Recovering from Postpartum Depression Postpartum depression is very treatable, which means you or your wife or your daughter will be back to herself in no time. Each person recovers at her own rate, so try not to compare with other women. Here are a few strategies that helped me as a new mom. Recovery Strategy 1: Get Real I remember walking over the bridge of Spa Creek, a few blocks from my home, when I was nine months pregnant one hot June afternoon. A woman looked at my protruded stomach and said to me, “You have the easier job now, when the baby is inside.” I cursed that woman for weeks until I had my overdue baby, and realized she was right. Few people warn us that our lives are going to be turned upside down by the seven pounds we bring home from the hospital. Everything (EVERYTHING) has to shift to make space for this new being. As new mothers, I think we help our mental health by getting real and saying, “Wow, part of this motherhood gig is really hard… I miss my old life.” We’ve entered a completely new world and are transitioning through a significant culture shock. Sometimes it’s good to acknowledge our difficulty adjusting to all of it. Recovery Strategy 2: Start Talking Journalist Tracy Thompson begins her insightful book The Ghost in the House with two brilliant lines: “Motherhood and depression are two countries with a long common border. The terrain is chilly and inhospitable, and when mothers speak of it at all, it is usually in guarded terms, or in euphemisms.” That’s why we need to start talking… often, and for long periods of time, maybe through tears. One of the most therapeutic things I did during the baby years was form a playgroup at my house with other new moms. I said it was to socialize my kid, but the real motive behind the group was to vent to other mothers about how I had memorized all the lines to Finding Nemo because it was the only thing that would calm my son down at two in the morning when he couldn’t sleep. Recovery Strategy 3: Beg for Help “One of the most challenging aspects of caring for young children is the social isolation,” Dr. Nonacs writes. “In traditional cultures, a woman’s family gathers around the mother after the birth of a child. They help her learn how to care for her child … Nowadays most women with young children spend most of their time at home, alone.” I wasn’t very good at asking for help, and I paid for it. I ended up in an inpatient psychiatric unit. If I had to do it all over again, I would plead with relatives to help out. I would barter with them, negotiate, promise to name the next kid after them if they babysat for a night. I would have cashed out some of our savings to get relief. In retrospect, it would have cost far less than the hospital fees. Recovery Strategy 4: Sleep Brain experts have always made the connection between and insomnia and depression, but new research suggests that chronic sleep disturbances may precede and maintain depression. “When you are sleep deprived,” writes Dr. Nonacs, “everything is more difficult. It is harder to concentrate, and performing certain tasks or making even the simplest of decisions may seem totally overwhelming. You may also feel more anxious, more irritable, or overly emotional.” Recovery Strategy 5: Keep Some of Your Self It’s easy for women to lose their identities in their new role as mothers — letting parental responsibilities absorb every aspect of their being. But motherhood doesn’t have to erase your prior existence, including hobbies, friendships, and work projects you once enjoyed. In fact, hanging on to a bit of your old self can make you a better mom, less resentful of the Winnie the Pooh keychain that won’t turn off. Squeezing space in your schedule for some activity not related to your baby can help build emotional resilience. Recovery Strategy 6: Watch Your Shoulds New moms are great at “shoulding” themselves. “I should be a more attentive mom.” “I should have Johnny on a nap schedule.” “I should love watching the Disney channel for three hours a day.” Erika Krull, a mental-health counselor, writes in her Psych Central blog: “It’s the combination of ‘must, can’t, won’t, should, could’ kinds of thoughts with the high level of emotion that can send moms down into the pit of depression or anxiety. Black and white thinking is a setup for disappointment, despair, lack of satisfaction and meaning, and low self worth.” View the full article
  13. Despite its name, atypical depression is one of the most common types of depression, affecting between 25 to 40 percent of depressed people. Because the symptoms differ from those of typical depression, this subtype of depression is often misdiagnosed. Atypical depression was named in the 1950s to classify a group of patients who did not respond to electroconvulsive therapy or to the tricyclic antidepressant Tofranil (imipramine). They did, however, respond to monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) antidepressants. Some of the same treatments that work for classic depression work for atypical depression, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and cognitive-behavioral therapy; however, full recovery is more achievable when this type of depression is identified and addressed. Here are a few facts about atypical depression you should know. Fact One: Atypical Depression Usually Involves Mood Reactivity or Extreme Sensitivity One of the distinguishing features of atypical depression is “mood reactivity.” A person’s mood lifts in response to actual or potential events. For example, she may be able to enjoy certain activities and is able to be cheered up when something positive happens — like when a friend calls or visits — while a person with classic major depression shows no improvement in mood. On the flip side, a person with atypical depression also responds to all things negative, especially interpersonal matters, such as being brushed off by a friend or something perceived as a rejection. In fact, a personal rejection or criticism at work could be enough to disable a person with atypical depression. There is a long-standing pattern of rejection sensitivity with this kind of depression that can interfere with work and social functioning. Fact Two: People with Atypical Depression Tend to Overeat and Oversleep Instead of experiencing interrupted sleep and loss of appetite as people often do with typical major depressive disorder, people with atypical depression tend to overeat and oversleep, sometimes referred to as reversed vegetative features. It’s not uncommon for someone with atypical depression to gain weight because they can’t stop eating, especially comfort foods, like pizza and pasta. They could sleep all day, unlike the person with typical depression experiencing insomnia. Oversleeping and overeating are the two most important symptoms for diagnosing atypical depression according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry that compared 304 patients with atypical depression with 836 patients with major depression. Fact Three: People with Atypical Depression Can Experience Heavy, Leaden Feelings Fatigue is a symptom of all depression, but persons with atypical depression often experience “leaden paralysis,” a heavy, leaden feeling in the arms or legs. According to Mark Moran of Psychiatric News, a depressed patient gave a graphic portrayal of his symptoms to researchers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons 25 years ago: “You know those people who run around the park with lead weights? I feel like that all the time. I feel so heavy and leaden [that] I can’t get out of a chair.” The researchers labeled the symptom “leaden paralysis” and incorporated it into the criteria of diagnosis of atypical depression. Fact Four: Symptoms Usually Begin at an Earlier Age, Are Chronic, and Affect More Women Atypical depression tends to begin at an earlier age (younger than age 20), and is chronic in nature. Michael Thase, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, discussed atypical depression in a Johns Hopkins Depression & Anxiety Bulletin, where he said, “The younger you are in adult life when you start to have trouble with depression, the more likely you are to have reverse vegetative features. In other words, the likelihood that you’ll overeat and oversleep when depressed is dependent on the age at which you become ill.” This was the subject of a 2000 study published in Journal of Affective Disorders. The illness of the patients with early-onset of atypical depression looked entirely different from those diagnosed with a classic melancholic depression. Atypical depression also seems to affect more women than men, especially women before menopause. “Ultimately, I see atypical depression as a subtype of depression that reflects the convergence of an early age of onset, female gender, and a chronic but less severe form of major depression throughout pre-menopause,” writes Dr. Thase. Fact Five: Atypical Depression Often Coincides with Bipolar Disorder and Seasonal-Affective Disorder Atypical depression is more likely to occur in people with bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder. A study published in the European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience evaluated 140 unipolar and bipolar outpatients who had symptoms of an atypical major depressive episode. The prevalence of bipolar II disorder was 64.2 percent. In another study published in Comprehensive Psychiatry, 72 percent of 86 major depressive patients with atypical features were found to meet the criteria for bipolar II disorder. There have also been studies reviewing the overlap between atypical depression and seasonal affective disorder, highlighting common biological links underpinning common symptoms. View the full article
  14. When I was a young girl, I struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I believed that if I landed on a crack in the sidewalk, something terrible would happen to me, so I did my best to skip over them. I feared that if I had bad thoughts of any kind, I would go to hell. To purify myself, I would go to confession and Mass over and over again, and spend hours praying the rosary. I felt if I didn’t compliment someone, like the waitress where we were eating dinner, I would bring on the end of the world. What Is OCD? The National Institute of Mental Health defines OCD as a “common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” OCD involves a painful, vicious cycle whereby you are tormented by thoughts and urges to do things, and yet when you do the very things that are supposed to bring you relief, you feel even worse and enslaved to your disorder. The results of one study indicated that more than one quarter of the adults interviewed experienced obsession or compulsions at some point in their lives — that’s over 60 million people — even though only 2.3 percent of people met the criteria for a diagnosis of OCD at some point in their lives. The World Health Organization has ranked OCD as one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability worldwide for individuals between 15 and 44 years of age. Whenever I am under considerable stress, or when I hit a depressive episode, my obsessive-compulsive behavior returns. This is very common. OCD breeds on stress and depression. A resource that has been helpful to me is the book Brain Lock by Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. He offers a four-step self-treatment for OCD that can free you from painful symptoms and even change your brain chemistry. Distinguishing Form from Content of OCD Before I go over the four steps, I wanted to go over two concepts he explains in the book that I found very helpful to understanding obsessive-compulsive behavior. The first is knowing the difference between the form of obsessive-compulsive disorder and its content. The form consists of the thoughts and urges not making sense but constantly intruding into a person’s mind — the thought that won’t go away because the brain is not working properly. This is the nature of the beast. The content is the subject matter or genre of the thought. It’s why one person feels something is dirty, while another can’t stop worrying about the door being locked. The OCD Brain The second concept that is fascinating and beneficial to a person in the throes of OCD’s torture is to see a picture of the OCD brain. In order to help patients understand that OCD is, in fact, a medical condition resulting from a brain malfunction, Schwartz and his colleagues at UCLA used PET scanning to take pictures of brains besieged by obsessions and compulsive urges. The scans showed that in people with OCD, there was increased energy in the orbital cortex, the underside of the front of the brain. This part of the brain is working overtime. According to Schwartz, by mastering the Four Steps of cognitive-biobehavioral self-treatment, it is possible to change the OCD brain chemistry so that the brain abnormalities no longer cause the intrusive thoughts and urges. Step One: Relabel Step one involves calling the intrusive thought or urge exactly what it is: an obsessive thought or a compulsive urge. In this step, you learn how to identify what’s OCD and what’s reality. You might repeat to yourself over and over again, “It’s not me — it’s OCD,” working constantly to separate the deceptive voice of OCD from your true voice. You constantly inform yourself that your brain is sending false messages that can’t be trusted. Mindfulness can help here. By becoming an observer of our thoughts, rather than the author of them, we can take a step back in loving awareness and simply say, “Here comes an obsession. It’s okay … It will pass,” instead of getting wrapped up in it and investing our emotions into the content. We can ride the intensity much like a wave in the ocean, knowing that the discomfort won’t last if we can stick in there and not act on the urge. Step Two: Reattribute After you finish the first step, you might be left asking, “Why don’t these bothersome thoughts and urges go away?” The second step helps answer that question. Schwartz writes: The answer is that they persist because they are symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition that has been scientifically demonstrated to be related to a biochemical imbalance in the brain that causes your brain to misfire. There is now strong scientific evidence that in OCD a part of your brain that works much like a gearshift in a car is not working properly. Therefore, your brain gets stuck in gear. As a result, it’s hard for you to shift behaviors. Your goal in the Reattribute step is to realize that the sticky thoughts and urges are due to your balky brain. In the second step, we blame the brain, or in 12-step language, admit we are powerless and that our brain is sending false messages. We must repeat, “It’s not me — it’s just my brain.” Schwartz compares OCD to Parkinson’s disease — both interestingly are caused by disturbances in a brain structure called the striatum — in that it doesn’t help to lambast ourselves for our tremors (in Parkinson’s) or upsetting thoughts and urges (in OCD). By reattributing the pain to the medical condition, to the faulty brain wiring, we empower ourselves to respond with self-compassion. Step Three: Refocus In step three, we shift into action, our saving grace. “The key to the Refocus step is to do another behavior,” explains Schwartz. “When you do, you are repairing the broken gearshift in your brain.” The more we “work around” the nagging thoughts by refocusing our attention on some useful, constructive, enjoyable activity, the more our brain starts shifting to other behaviors and away from the obsessions and compulsions. Step three requires a lot of practice, but the more we do it, the easier it becomes. Says Schwartz: “A key principle in self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD is this: It’s not how you feel, it’s what you do that counts.” The secret of this step, and the hard part, is going on to another behavior even though the OCD thought or feeling is still there. At first, it’s extremely wearisome because you are expending a significant amount of energy processing the obsession or compulsion while trying to concentrate on something else. However, I completely agree with Schwartz when he says, “When you do the right things, feelings tend to improve as a matter of course. But spend too much time being overly concerned about uncomfortable feelings, and you may never get around to doing what it takes to improve.” This step is really at the core of self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy because, according to Schwartz, we are fixing the broken filtering system in the brain and getting the automatic transmission in the caudate nucleus to start working again. Step Four: Revalue The fourth step can be understood as an accentuation of the first two steps, Relabeling and Reattributing. You are just doing them with more insight and wisdom now. With consistent practice of the first three steps, you can better acknowledge that the obsessions and urges are distractions to be ignored. “With this insight, you will be able to Revalue and devalue the pathological urges and fend them off until they begin to fade,” writes Schwartz. Two ways of “actively revaluing,” he mentions are anticipating and accepting. It’s helpful to anticipate that obsessive thoughts will occur hundreds of times a day and not to be surprised by them. By anticipating them, we recognize them more quickly and can Relabel and Reattribute when they arise. Accepting that OCD is a treatable medical condition — a chronic one that makes surprise visits — allows us to respond with self-compassion when we are hit with upsetting thoughts and urges. View the full article
  15. Recovering from depression and anxiety call for the same kind of shrewdness and amount of perspiration as does running a 4,000-person company. I say that having never done the latter. But hear out my logic: great leaders must master impeccable governing skills, develop the discipline of a triathlete, and build enough stamina to manage multiple personalities. And so does anyone wanting to get outside of her head and live a little. So I think it’s fitting to translate the insight of a book about business success, The Wisdom of Failure: How to Learn the Tough Leadership Lessons Without Paying the Price by Laurence Weinzimmer and Jim McConoughey, to victory over a mood disorder, or even mild but annoying anxiety and depression. Weinzimmer and McConoughey describe their “taxonomy of leadership mistakes,” or nine common ways an executive falls flat on his face and is made fun of by his peers. The business world is replete with calculated risks. It’s a chess game, and a few too many wrong moves will have you packing up your stuff from the corner office. As I read through them, I kept thinking about my main job — managing my depression as best I can — and the pitfalls that I so often run into. Many are the same listed in this book. Here are six mistakes business leaders make that are appropriate for our purposes: Mistake one: Trying to be all things to all people. The “just say no” problem that I have all the time. If you think of requests from friends, families, bosses, co-workers, and golden retrievers as customers asking you for all kinds of products that you can’t simultaneously produce, then you see the logic in your having to draw the line at some point. You must hang on to your resources to stay well. Mistake two: Roaming outside the box. Clarification: thinking outside the box is good. Hanging out there, strolling around in pursuit of some meaning that you keep finding in everything that passes by — that’s dangerous. When it comes to recovery, this is very important to remember. I like to try new things: yoga, new fish oil supplements, a new light lamp, different support groups. What gets me in trouble is when I start to think that I don’t have bipolar disorder and can go off all meds, healing myself through meditation alone. I tried that once and landed in the hospital twice. Now I double check to make sure the box is still in my peripheral vision. Mistake three: Efficiencies before effectiveness. This has to do with seeing the forest behind the trees, and subscribing to a policy of making decisions based on the view of the forest, not the trees that are blocking everything from your sight. The authors cite the example of Circuit City’s CEO who cut 3,400 sales people to decrease costs despite the fact that their research said that customers want knowledgeable sales people to help them make decisions when buying electronics. His approach was efficient, but not all that effective. When you are desperate to feel better, it’s so easy to reach for the Band-Aid — booze, cigarettes, toxic relationships — that might do an efficient job of killing the pain. Effective in the longterm? Not so much. Mistake four: Dysfunctional harmony. Like me! Like me! Please like me! Dysfunctional harmony involves abandoning your needs to please others, which jeopardizes your recovery efforts. “Being an effective leader [or person in charge of one’s health] means that sometimes you will not make the most popular decisions,” the authors explain. “By doing what is necessary, you will sometimes make some people angry. That’s okay. It’s part of the job. If you are in a leadership role and you try to be liked by everyone all of the time, you will inevitably create drama and undercut your own authority and effectiveness.” So think of yourself as the CEO of you and start making some authoritative decisions that are in the best interest of You, Inc. Mistake five: Hoarding I’m not talking about your sister’s stash of peanuts and Q-Tips. This is about hoarding responsibility. For those of us trying like hell to live a good and happy life, this means giving over the reins now and then to other people, persons, and things that can help us: doctors, husbands, sisters, even pets. It means relying on the people in your life who say they love you and letting them do the small things so that you can try your best to be the best boss of yourself again. Mistake six: Disengagement Burnout. It happens in all recovery. I have yet to meet someone who can continue a regiment of daily meditation, boot camp, and spinach and cucumber smoothies for more than three months without calling uncle and reaching for the pepperoni pizza. That’s why it is so critical to pace yourself in your recovery. What’s a realistic number of times to exercise during the week? Are you really going to do that at 4:30 am? Why not allow yourself one day of hotdogs and ice-cream in order to not throw out the whole healthy living initiative at once? Imagine yourself a great leader of your mind, body, and spirit — managing a staff of personalities inside yourself that need direction. Take it from these two corporate leaders, and don’t make the same mistakes. View the full article
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