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  1. In my many musings, I have found a natural progression that helps us out of our darkest places. I call it Moving Through, Moving To, and, in this case, it means moving toward a little Hope. When nothing else seems to work amidst the immobilizing fear and grip of extreme anxiety or depression, this progression has helped me move gently, first out, then up. I only hope it might help you to do the same. In this gentle process, I first outline the step, then demonstrate an example in italics. Please feel free to cater it to what feels right for you. Step One: I am In my depressive worst, at the bottom of the barrel, there are times when I can’t even move. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to say anything, and I can’t explain it. I could call someone, but no. I could get out, and eat something sweet. But no. Yet if I can, I try to muster the strength to at least say how I feel, at least to myself. Because it’s not like I want to be there. So, I try to get it onto the page. I try to at least say the words of the worst, of where I’m at, what I am, and how I feel, simply. I call this the “I am” stage: I am miserable. I am awful. I am broken. I am battered. I am lost. I am afraid. I am. Just let it out. Step Two: You are Then, there are times that I find that I can only handle myself at a distance. Sometimes, it makes it easier… treating it as if it’s someone else’s life, and I’m looking at it from an outsider’s perspective. Because that is what I feel like. Like an outsider to my own life. It’s not pretty as I then go into my “you ares.” But I let it rip: You are awful. You are ugly. You are stupid. You are broken. You are afraid. You are forgotten. You’re a failure. You’re a mess. You are nothing. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not in that moment, because it really is true for me then. The bigger point is to get it out of my system. Now it’s your turn. Step Three: You will Here is where the shift takes place. I most often cannot skip from step one to here. I have to go through the outside looking in, the “you ares,” before the “you wills.” It’s like I have to accuse myself of what feels wrong before resolving. But here is where the hope lies. You will. You will get better. You will be okay. You will get through this. You may not know when, or how, or why. But you will. You will. You will wake up tomorrow. You will see the sun again. You will do great things. Talk to yourself. Write it down. Step Four: I will Eventually, at some point, when you do feel a bit better (and you will), then you move into “I will.” It might not happen right away, or it might. Or maybe step three is enough for now. But when you think you are ready, gently move into the “I’s.” I will be better. I will get better. I will do better. And I will get through this. I will feel better. I will feel good again. I will make it through. And when you can, keep going with it. I will be better. I will do great things. I will be amazing. I will make waves. I will catch dreams. I will fly. I will be awesome. Step Five: I am This is the most powerful. There may be days that you wake up and head straight to this one. We call these affirmations, of course, and it’s nothing new. But sometimes it’s just too hard to live into them at the moment. I am all about speaking things into reality, even before you think you are ready (because when you start the flow, that’s when things happen). But there are times when you are just too deep into your loss and get lost in the “impossibility,” thus affirmations feel false and dig you even deeper into that hole because you feel like a failure. This whole process is to take you out of that place and move you into this one — the affirmation zone — so that, when you do get here, you believe in it. You believe in the possibility that you actually ARE what you say you are and will come out true and strong. So with that being said, let’s go there. I am a masterful getter-outer of holes. I am strong. I am weak, but that’s okay. I am beautifully vulnerable. I am good. I succeed. I fail, but I get up. I am beautiful. I am amazing. I am getting through this. I am making waves. I am catching dreams. I am making millions. I am living the life of my dreams. I am succeeding in all that I do. I am making it through and being the best, most beautiful self that I can be. Because I AM me. Step Six: You are (a positive variation to use either after Step Five or between earlier steps) Every now and again, it is of benefit to reaffirm your affirmations with this variation. In contrast to Step Two, this version of “you are” now tells yourself how great you are whether you believe it yet or not. You can use this step as a positive affirmation between Steps Three and Four, between Steps Four and Five, or after Step Five. Whatever feels most natural to you, go with it. In contrast to Step Two’s “you ares,” this Step is about seeing and acknowledging the amazing you that you either want to become or who you already are. You are amazing. You are strong. You are through. You are limitless. You are unstoppable. View the full article
  2. Phobiasupportforum

    Managing Quarantine Fatigue 

    Someone gave it a name: Quarantine Fatigue. It’s not a diagnosis, but it surely does label what many people are feeling now that we’re 7 – 8 weeks in with stay at home guidelines/orders. People are by nature social creatures. We desire connection. We thrive on relationships. We need to be with other humans to be human. There are even studies that show that people would rather experience physical pain than loneliness. Quarantine Fatigue speaks to our difficulty maintaining the limits on up front and personal, 3-dimensional contact with our fellow human beings. The result for many people is irritability, restlessness, general crankiness, and even physical exhaustion. It mimics depression in many ways and could be misunderstood as the onset of a mental health disorder, rather than a normal response to an abnormal situation. Some people are responding to their anxieties with anger and defiance. They want the stay at home orders lifted! They swarm beaches and parks. They refuse to wear a mask. They claim that their protests are about the restraints on individual freedom, putting a political cover on a decidedly non-political issue. The issue, really, is not about rights. The issue is the extent to which we believe we are our “brother’s (and sister’s, neighbor’s, family’s, and friends’) keeper.” According to Alfred Adler, early 20th psychologist who was both a colleague and an irritant to Freud, the measure of mental health is Gemeinschaftsgefühl. Roughly translated, it means “social interest” or feeling of community with others. By his measure, those who refuse to wear masks, who insist on congregating, who refuse to take steps to keep others safe, are at risk for mental illness. Those who are most concerned about others and who actively work to make their community healthy and happy are the most mentally healthy. The COVID-19 epidemic is challenging our Gemeinschaftsgefühl. Staying focused on the greater good instead of just relieving our own discomfort is hard, really hard. Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo speaks eloquently of this regularly in his daily updates. Being home is not about you as an individual. It’s about protecting everyone else. That means being inconvenienced. It means changing our daily routines. It means wearing masks and keeping our distance. It means finding other ways to stay connected with our community besides being in each other’s physical company. Quarantine fatigue is real. But the solution isn’t defiance of social distancing. Participating in angry demonstrations demanding the right to infect others may give those who do it the high of an adrenaline boost, but it ultimately is self-destructive. Contributing to the spread of the disease and the deaths of others will only result in regret and survival guilt or hollow self-justification. Self-esteem based on negativity and fear leads to depression and more anxiety. In contrast, doing things that help keep everyone safe broadens and builds positive self-esteem. How to Manage Quarantine Fatigue There is no cure as yet for COVID-19. But there is a “cure” for Quarantine Fatigue. What Alfred Adler called Gemeinschaftsgefühl is a personal commitment to Social Responsibility. Being socially responsible means staying informed and connected in ways that contribute to the greater good. Affirm or shift your thinking from “Me” to “We.” Survival as a people, as a community, and as a country requires giving up the idea that freedom is doing what we want when we want. Survival calls for Gemeinschaftsgefühl: For us to be our best selves, looking after the other guy as well as ourselves. Those who thrive, not just survive; those who live longer and feel more fulfilled, do exactly that. Resist the pull of conspiracy theories: Those who make mockumentaries and manipulate our fears and restlessness by posting conspiracy theories on social media thrive on creating a “us vs. them” mentality. They pray on our financial fears and anxieties about the future. Often, they are invested in pursuing a political or social agenda, regardless of how many people will die because of it. Recognize them for what they are and refuse to fall for their manipulations. Stay informed: Listen to the real experts who have been quietly working on infectious disease control for years. Science and facts help us make the decisions needed to ensure that fewer people will suffer and die. Stay home: If your circumstances allow you to stay home, get comfortable with being uncomfortable (maybe very uncomfortable) until the numbers are more promising. There are other articles here at Psych Central and on other sites that offer ideas for being socially connected while maintaining physical distance. Practice safety: Wearing a mask or gloves may be uncomfortable. Keeping your distance when talking to others may be awkward. Washing your hands 20 times a day may be inconvenient. But all these measures are for everyone’s good. If you can’t do them for yourself, do them for the people you love. If everyone obeys these simple strategies, the disease has less opportunity to spread. Don’t isolate. Communicate: Time on your hands means you aren’t using enough of your time to be in community with others. Make at least one call to a friend or loved one a day. Send letters and emails. Participate in online social groups like book clubs or interest groups. You will benefit and so will the people you talk to. Help those who are financially suffering the most: Donate what you can to service organizations like food banks and survival centers. Send people whose services you used to use regularly a thank you check. Tip food delivery people generously. If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot. Volunteer: Multiple studies show that people who do good for others are happier and live longer. Use your creativity and imagination to find ways to be of use during this difficult time. Get busy. Make masks for others. Join a call circle for elderly and disabled people who need to know someone cares. Volunteer to tutor or read to kids you know so their parents can get a break. Join online committees to further the agenda of organizations that are trying to preserve and expand the social safety net. The crisis created by COVID-19 brings out the best and the worst in people. The antidote to despair and the way to stay mentally healthy and enhance self-esteem is to tap into the best in ourselves. Alfred Adler was right. Ultimately, it is by each of us acting for the good of the many in whatever ways we can that will get us through. View the full article
  3. What does physical pain have to do with depression, and vice versa? On today’s Psych Central Podcast, our guest, Dr. Jack Stern, a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in spinal surgery, explains the psychology of pain and how the two are inextricably linked. Dr. Stern describes how pain can lead to depression and how depression can intensify physical pain. We also find out why opioids don’t work for chronic pain, and how past pain affects current pain. Join us for an in-depth discussion on physical pain and mental health. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Dr. Jack Stern- Chronic Pain’ Podcast Episode Jack Stern, M.D., Ph.D., is the author of Ending Back Pain: 5 Powerful Steps to Diagnose, Understand, and Treat Your Ailing Back. He is a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in spinal surgery, and cofounder of Spine Options, one of America’s first facilities committed to nonsurgical care of back and neck pain. Dr. Stern is on the clinical faculty at Weill Cornell Medical College and has published numerous peer- and non peer– reviewed medical articles. He lives and practices in White Plains, New York. For more information, please visit https://drjackstern.com/ About The Psych Central Podcast Host Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author. To learn more about Gabe, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Dr. Jack Stern- Chronic Pain’ Episode Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Announcer: You’re listening to the Psych Central Podcast, where guest experts in the field of psychology and mental health share thought-provoking information using plain, everyday language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard. Gabe Howard: Welcome to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Podcast. Calling into the show today, we have Jack Stern, MD, PhD, who is the author of Ending Back Pain: Five Powerful Steps to Diagnose, Understand and Treat Your Ailing Back. He is a board certified neurosurgeon specializing in spinal surgery and co-founder of Spine Options, one of America’s first facilities committing to non-surgical care of back and neck pain. Dr. Stern, welcome to the show. Dr. Jack Stern: Thank you. Gabe Howard: Well, I’m really glad to have you, and I’m really excited. But before we get started, our longtime listeners are thinking, wait, you know, back pain, an expert in spinal surgery, spine options, neck. What does this have to do with mental health? Dr. Stern, what does this have to do with mental health? Dr. Jack Stern: Probably a very appropriate question. All of us have been in pain at some point or another, stub your toe, hurt your back. Break a leg. And you know that it’s not just the pain that bothers you, but a variety of other emotions play a role, upset, sadness, depression. It runs the gamut. I get depressed when I have a cold and I can’t work. I just get so upset with myself that I got things to do and I can’t do them. And that’s just from having a cold. Could you imagine if I had something really the matter with me? Thank God. How I would feel. And that’s what I experience in my patients who come to me with rather significant issues related to their spine. And because without dealing with the emotional aspect, the psychological aspects of pain, you really cannot treat pain. Gabe Howard: Dr. Stern, it sounds like you really think that mental health and physical health shouldn’t be separate. I’ve often said I don’t understand. Whose bright idea it was to decide that these were two separate things, since it’s all one person. Is that how you feel? Am I. Am I putting words in your mouth or have I nailed it? Dr. Jack Stern: I think that’s absolutely right. Actually, I think that the concept of separating the two. I think that concept is really going away. I think most physicians and I mean probably even your internist. At least my internist, who is not a youngster, always asks me, well, Jack, how are things going? And he doesn’t mean, am I still on the treadmill and do I have intestinal problems? He’s asking me, how are things going? Emotionally. Are you feeling well emotionally? Are you sleeping well? How is your relationship with your children and with your job? And what kind of feelings does that bring up for you? So I think anyone who separates the physical and the emotional I think has missed the boat. And it’s clear, as someone who’s taught in medical schools for 30 years that we no longer make that distinction. Thank goodness. So I think that’s an old concept. And I feel that the two are intimately connected and can’t be separated, at least not easily. Gabe Howard: That is wonderful news. Let’s move on to your book and your area of expertise. And my first question is, what is the anatomy of pain? Can you talk about that a little bit? I was trying to read about it and learn about it. And I have to admit, it was it was well over my head. But it was also fascinating because all of us have been in pain at some point. Like you said, whether it’s stubbing AHTO or, of course, something as serious as a spinal injury. Dr. Jack Stern: So there are actually without and I don’t want to get too technical. There are actually two ways that the periphery. That means your body tells your brain that you’re having pain. And there are actually two separate pathways. If you think of the spinal cord as a big cable that connects to the central relay station, which is your brain, they’re actually separate cables for two types of pain. And once I describe it, you’ll probably recognize it. The first type of pain is what we call acute pain. That’s the pain where someone breaks their leg or stubs their toe. Where you go, oh, oh, wow. You really feel acute pain. But there’s also a separate pathway, a separate group of fibers that go up to a relay station. Your brain that are actually there in terms of evolution are actually there before the sharp pain. And those fibers, that pathway sends messages of what we call deep, gnawing pain. It’s like, oh, I got something in my belly. Just feels, you know, it’s, it’s just uncomfortable. It’s or my back just, it’s not killing me. It’s not like I can’t walk, but it hurts all the time. It’s that deep gnawing pain. So those two pathways exist in the body that has a lot of importance, both psychologically and physically, because the two pathways have a different what we call neurotransmitters, and those are the chemicals that send the messages to the brain. Dr. Jack Stern: So, for example, if someone has that deep gnawing pain and you give them an opiate, they probably will not respond because those pathways don’t recognize opiates, whereas the pathways that transmit messages of acute pain do have what we call opiate receptors and they are effective. So if you break a leg and the doctor gives you one of the narcotic analgesics, it will be effective. But usually not if you have chronic low back pain. And fortunately, part of the and I’ll just digress here a minute. Part of the opiate epidemic is because opiates have been giving for conditions that deal with chronic pain, not the acute pain that responds. So the anatomical pathways are complex. But the important point here is that there are two separate pathways, one for acute pain and one for chronic pain. And certainly the greatest psychological issues arise when patients are in chronic pain. Someone who comes into my office and says I’ve had back pain for six weeks, eight weeks a year, and it doesn’t get any better. And those are the folks that really suffer psychologically. Gabe Howard: It sounds like what you’re describing should work the same for everybody, but we all know that it doesn’t work the same for everybody. And part of that is, is our psychological response. I think of me and my brother when my brother gets hurt, he’s like supercharges. He’s like, yeah. Feel the burn. When I get hurt, I’m in a corner, almost traumatized. And I’m not really exaggerating. I just have a very low pain tolerance. What is the psychological response to pain on the human body and why does it differ from person to person? Dr. Jack Stern: I think that to answer that, we could break it up into two parts. One, there are real reasons, intrinsic or innate to your anatomy, where you have more receptors that sense pain and send more pain messages to your brain, and therefore your brother will feel the pain less and you will feel the pain more because you have more receptors. And we see that all the time. You hurt your toe, stub your finger and the other person stubs theirs and they’ll feel it because you have more receptors than they do. But from a psychological point of view, there’s clearly an indication that I’m wondering whether you had an experience once where you were in pain and it could have been when you were very young. And that memory is embedded in your brain. And that memory of that pain, even when we were very young, now raises its awareness and subconsciously your body says, oh, I had that sense of pain so long ago. I don’t want to endure that pain again. I don’t want to experience that pain again. So subconsciously, reliving that experience is something that I think that we all do. And how that experience, previous experience impacted what we’re doing now reflects on how we’re going to relate to the pain psychologically. Does that answer your question? Gabe Howard: It does. It makes perfect sense. As much as it makes perfect sense from my standpoint, and that kind of leads me to my next question. From your standpoint, you need actual data. So you need to measure pain. But the only thing that I’ve ever seen that measures pain is that, you know, smiley face all the way to a sad face chart that nurses have handed me. And that seems rather ridiculous because as you pointed out, pain is different for everybody. Pain is very personal and there’s a psychological point to pain. I guess my actual question then is, can pain actually be measured? Dr. Jack Stern: It can be measured, but it’s much too difficult to measure it on a regular basis. So what we do in the hospital is use this device of the smiley face to the frowning face to give us some indication of where the patient’s pain is. But as I think you were alluding to, it doesn’t give us an indication of what the psychological parameters are that are involved in that patient’s pain. I’ll give you an example. A woman can have a very difficult delivery and it could be painful. And this has been shown. This is not me guessing. And then they, maybe a few hours later, and because she had this very healthy baby, they almost always have a smiley face. And the idea that they were in pain during the labor seems to be suppressed. So what I’m saying is that there’s a real complexity to how you experience pain. And some of it has to do with your previous experience with pain. Gabe Howard: It’s interesting that you say that some of it has to do with your previous experience of pain, because it sounds to me like if you have something really traumatic, let’s go with the broken leg. So I break my leg. Now I’m all 100 percent fine. It’s now a couple of years later and something lesser happens. Dr. Jack Stern: Yeah. Gabe Howard: You bang into a table and of course, that hurts. You know, banging your shin into a table is a painful thing. Are you saying that because of the pain that I experienced with the broken leg, that that’s going to psychologically influence the pain I experience in the lesser banging my shin? Dr. Jack Stern: Invariably. Invariably, because there’s gonna be a fear factor, there’s gonna be an avoidance factor. There’s gonna be a memory of the previous pain. There’s gonna be a wish that this second injury isn’t severe. All those things come into play. I’d also point out that where you are psychologically, when you have either the first or especially the second injury in this case will affect your reaction to the pain. It’s clear that individuals who are depressed will experience the pain or relate that the pain is more severe than someone who is not depressed. And that goes across pretty much across the board. And you’ve seen you’ve probably met someone who’s depressed and the slightest thing bothers them. And they say, oh, that hurts. Oh, that. Oh, my. Oh, there’s this hurts, oh, that hurts. It’s because depression really magnifies. And that’s a great example of how the psychological affects the physical. For example, there was a really good study that showed that a significant number of men and women who have chronic pain, that is pain that lasts longer than it normally should for the same type of accident. A significant percentage of those individuals at some point in their lives were abused physically or emotionally abused. And the pain then evokes that previous abuse. We also know that pain frequently provides the individual with secondary gain. Sweetheart, my back hurts, so could you take out the garbage? Whereas, you know, you probably take out the garbage, but the individual is using it for secondary gain, for not doing what what’s been asked of them. And I see that all the time when it comes to intimacy, where couples one member does you know, I really can’t participate in any intimate activity because my back hurts. So it has tremendous, tremendous psychological overlay in any type of pain we talk about, particularly if the pain lasts for any length of time. Gabe Howard: Stick around. We’ll be right back after these messages from our sponsors. Sponsor Message: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counseling. Our counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counseling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Gabe Howard: We’re back discussing the psychological effects of pain with Dr. Jack Stern. One of the things that this is kind of reminding me of is I suffer from anxiety disorder and I’ve had panic attacks and panic attacks are they’re awful. And anyone who’s suffered from one can agree with it. But one of the things that I noticed is my fear of having another panic attack was very limiting to me. There were places that I wouldn’t go, things that I wouldn’t do. And I had to work all that in therapy. It sounds like pain sort of follows the same kind of thing. Right. I’m so afraid of it hurting or being hurt that I’m skipping out on things. In your example, you said, you know, intimate activity with your partner because you’re afraid that it might hurt your back. Is that analogous? Dr. Jack Stern: I think so, I think. Absolutely. I mean, you’re not having a panic attack, but you’re concerned that you may have a panic attack. So there’s an aversion reaction that may or may not be real and it may not be real at all because you may be able to do that whatever it is, without getting a panic attack. So I may be a patient who has low back pain, and I don’t want to maybe intelligently don’t want to live that, even though I probably could, because I may injure myself and recreate my back pain. But as I said, there’s some folks who use that psychologically. They probably could lift it but don’t want to because they just want to be nice that day. So once again, the variability is significant. Gabe Howard: Staying with a panic attack analogy, the way that I got over it is by going to therapy. I spoke with my therapist. I shared my fears about having a panic attack. We worked on coping skills. We talked about why I was afraid of it. Is that the same treatment for folks who concerned about re-injury or pain, who are avoiding pleasurable activities in life because they’re afraid of re-injury or experiencing pain? Dr. Jack Stern: I think that is a near perfect analogy. Yes. And, of course, I’m not I’m not a therapist. So for me, when I see a patient who has that fear of pain, fear of surgery, first of all, I won’t operate on someone like that. And number two, I will almost always ask the individual to get therapy and refer them to a therapist who specializes. And we have several such in this community who specialize in pain issues. And they will use a variety of techniques to help the individual deal with the pain. And as in your case, it sounds like a find out what the original pain episode was or panic episode was so they can deal with that initial episode and then try to prevent it from stymieing their activities again. So, yes, I think your analogy is a very good one. Gabe Howard: Dr. Stern, I really appreciate you connecting mental health and physical health, and I’m very glad to hear that things are changing in the way that medicine is practiced. Because I’m only 43 years old. In the grand scheme, I’m not that old. But I remember in the 80s being afraid of surgery and just being told, you know, buck up, it’s not going to be so bad. Don’t you trust the doctors? It’s going to be okay. And then after the surgery, even though, you know, it was scary, it was just scary. People were like, well, the worst is over. I would always hear that phrase, well, the worst is over. This is the worst it’s going to be. You’ll be fine. It wasn’t until I had a mental health problem and I started treating both that I realized that there’s just so much interplay between our emotions about, in this case, pain and the actual pain and treating. Both is our fastest way to wellness. So, kudos, Dr. Jack Stern: Yeah, Gabe Howard: I love Dr. Jack Stern: Yeah. Gabe Howard: What you’re talking about here. Dr. Jack Stern: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know how you can separate it out, and once again, I relate to my own experiences about the whole world seems dark to me if one of my kids isn’t doing well. And everything, every negative aspect of my life suddenly seems to be amplified. And that’s both physical and mental. There’s also a phenomenon that I think is overlooked many times, and that is individuals who have pain, particularly chronic pain. Let me say two things. One, they for whatever reason, whether it’s actually physical or emotional, can function at the level that they could function before the onset of the pain. And I believe that many such individuals and I think this is also part of regular aging, we mourn for lost body parts. So we’re still alive, but we realize that we are not who we were because part of us and I don’t mean to be too dramatic here, but part of us has died. We can’t do that anymore. And we mourn the fact that we can’t do that. And I think that has significant psychological overlay, depression, maybe anger, et cetera. And I see that all the time in individuals. And I see it in myself in terms of I just came from the gym and I realized every time I go to the gym that I can’t do things that I did 10 and 20 years ago. And it really upsets me. And I’m a little depressed about it. And I see these young folks and I wish I were could do that again. But so that’s one. And that’s the loss of body parts. Dr. Jack Stern: Number two, the big elephant in the room with patients or individuals who have chronic pain is the psychological effect it has on everyone else in their lives, how it affects their spouses, how it affects their children. Oh, Daddy, can’t you play with me? No, my back hurts. You know, my daddy never plays ball with me because his back always hurts. Everybody else’s daddy was always out there playing with them. So imagine the impact that that has on the child, not even on the individual who had the back pain. So this can be in a familial sense and a family could have tremendous psychological impact, senses of rejection, senses of less worthiness, a sense of anger that my dad was never there for me when he when everybody else’s dad was there. So these are the things we don’t talk about. These are the things that get swept under the rug until someone decides, you know, I’m going to have to deal with my pain. And what the impact of my pain had psychologically on those around me and frequently how the others, spouses, children, fellow employees, but mostly family members eventually go into therapy and say, why am I so upset with my father? I understand why he was never there for me. He was always complaining of back pain or it’s the same as if my dad wasn’t there because he was always working. But this is a cloud that hangs over families when there’s an individual who has back pain. It’s what I call the psychological unspoken of psychological cloud of back pain. Gabe Howard: And Dr. Stern, you have a whole chapter in your book dedicated to the psychology of pain and especially for our listeners. That’s very important to understand. And the book is called Ending Back Pain: Five Powerful Steps to Diagnose, Understand, and Treat Your Ailing Back. Where can they find it and where can they find you? Dr. Jack Stern: So the book is obviously on Amazon and most Barnes & Noble, most bookstores. But if you’re like me, you buy everything on Amazon. That’s why he became the world’s richest person. Gabe Howard: Very true. Dr. Jack Stern: My wife says, there’s another box for you from Jeff Bezos waiting at the door. So. And you can find me. Actually, my Web site is called very simply, DrJackStern.com. And I actually have a place on that Web site where people can actually consult with me if they’re having back pain. And we take their histories. We even have them send us their MRI or CAT scans. And I then communicate with them to see if I can share with them my years of experience. So that’s also a possibility. DrJackStern.com. Gabe Howard: Wonderful. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. I can’t thank you enough. Dr. Jack Stern: Thank you, it was really interesting speaking to you. Gabe Howard: Wonderful. And listen up, listeners, here’s what I need you to do. Wherever you download this podcast, please rate us however you feel is appropriate. But take the extra step. I would consider it a personal favor if you would use your words and tell people what you like about the podcast. Obviously, subscribe to our show, share us on social media. Email a friend. Hey, it’s a good excuse to talk to your mom. And remember, we have a private Facebook group at PsychCentral.com/FBShow. And as always, support our sponsor. You can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, simply by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. And we will see everybody next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to The Psych Central Podcast. Want your audience to be wowed at your next event? Feature an appearance and LIVE RECORDING of the Psych Central Podcast right from your stage! For more details, or to book an event, please email us at show@psychcentral.com. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/Show or on your favorite podcast player. Psych Central is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, Psych Central offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at PsychCentral.com. To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at gabehoward.com. Thank you for listening and please share with your friends, family, and followers. View the full article
  4. Phobiasupportforum

    Understanding Maternal Depression

    The role of motherhood is complex and profound. Psychology and development experts agree — the role of the mother is critical to child development, for better or worse. This role is also packed full of societal expectations and emotional milestones for an individual to navigate. From the moment the pregnancy test confirms impending birth, an individual begins to conjure expectations they have of their own for this experience as well as what significant others, family members, friends, and society will hold for this new mother. While becoming a mother can be one of the most joyful and fulfilling passages of a woman’s life, it can also sometimes be rife with challenge and negative emotions, too. Maternal depression is a condition that is possible throughout all stages of becoming a mother, from pregnancy to postpartum. The symptoms of maternal depression at any stage are very similar to those of depression in any other adult. However, maternal depression comes with the added complexity of being deeply intertwined with another fetal or infant life that is totally dependent on the mental, emotional, and physical health of the mother. Additionally, maternal depression may be circumstantial and caused by the unique hormones and/or experience that are inherent to child bearing. Many women face an unfortunate stigma that lumps together the symptoms of maternal depression with general discontent or discomfort that pregnancy or childbirth causes, but it is important to distinguish that while some of the symptoms may overlap superficially, maternal depression is a diagnosable and serious condition that should not be dismissed or ignored. There are some identifiable risk factors that increase the possibility of a new mother developing maternal depression, such as: Pre-existing disposition to depression or anxiety Lack of familial support or adequate prenatal and postnatal care Substance abuse Poor family or partner relationship Stressful life circumstances Maternal age less than twenty-four years old Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy Low socioeconomic status Maternal depression, particularly if left untreated, has a significant impact on not only the mother, but the child’s or children’s development, and other close relationships such as the mother’s family members or partner. It can add stress to an already stressful situation and it can cause a breakdown in communication at a time when communicating effectively between partners and caregivers is of utmost importance. According to the New York State Department of Health, “A thorough review of this research by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine finds that maternal depression endangers young children’s cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioral development, as well as their learning, and physical and mental health over the long term.” Therefore we can easily see the importance of supporting mothers who may struggle with this condition at every point through their maternal journey and beyond, if necessary. Post-partum depression is usually experienced within the first two to three months after giving birth, though onset of symptoms may begin immediately following delivery. This condition is different from what we commonly call the “Baby Blues,” which is a form of short term maternal depression identified by mood swings, excessive fatigue, sadness, and overwhelm during the first two weeks following delivery. Post-partum depression is more serious form of maternal depression, persisting long after the initial two weeks following birth. The most severe of these symptoms include extreme paranoia, anxiety manifested as bizarre thoughts and fears, including obsessive thought of harm to the baby, as well as thoughts of death or suicide. Post-partum psychosis is a severe mental disorder. It may begin immediately following birth or develop slowly, over time, as post-partum depression is left untreated. Individuals with a history of bipolar disorder, other mood disorders, or with a family history of post-partum depression are significantly at a higher risk for developing this disorder. The greatest risks associated with this disorder are delusions and thoughts of harm focused toward the infant child. Post-partum psychosis may develop anytime within the first year of giving birth. It may be difficult for loved ones to understand such a joyful time of welcoming a new baby simultaneously presenting challenges with these types of symptoms experienced by the mother, but if this is the case, it must not be ignored. Mothers experiencing these thoughts or feelings should seek immediate support from family members as well as professional help when necessary. It is likely a new mother who is experiencing any of these symptoms may also feel guilt or shame associated with her symptoms. This is where family members and partners can help the most by being vigilant, checking in with the new mother often, and offering support when needed. Through proper support systems and sometimes additional treatment such as medication or therapy, mothers are able to reclaim their maternal experience and bonding with their children, avoiding long term damage and setbacks for the whole family. Even mothers without a strong partner or family support can seek professional help by speaking with their OBGYN or primary care doctor as well as looking for support groups in their communities for new mothers through their local hospitals. View the full article
  5. Do you have someone in your life that you know needs some extra encouragement this year? Mother’s day is usually a day that most women are celebrated by their kids, family and friends. Unfortunately, some women don’t always receive the love and support that they really need. Some women are going through tough trials and situations, and they’re in need of more than just a “Happy Mother’s Day.” Take a deeper look at the faces of the women around you and in your life. You’ll begin to see that they are facing way more than you think. Some have been going through hard times for a while and have conditioned themselves to put on a smile, keep moving, like nothing’s wrong. Think about your neighbor, your cousin, friends that you haven’t talked to in a while. If you sit down and talk with them you’ll begin to see that behind their smile is a hidden layer of pain that they’ve been hiding from everyone. Those are the women who could use a special gift this year. If you are one of those women, my heart and prayers go out to you. I pray that you will find the peace and relief that you need right now. And if you’re in a position to bring some joy to a mother who’s in desperate need of it this Mother’s Day, here’s some gift ideas that may just brighten their day… 20 Gifts to Get Moms Battling Depression this Mother’s Day Babysitting – Giving mom a break, especially if she’s a single mom, would bring MUCH NEEDED relief! Grocery gift card Spa day – You can get creative with music, candles, and facial masks, bringing the spa to your home. Journal Encouraging words (a card with your own handwritten words would be best). A hug Shopping spree Jewelry – a classic. A chat over coffee (maybe via FaceTime). Dinner delivery from their favorite restaurant. Massage – A great stress reliever. Girls day – Get a group of friends together and plan time together to make her feel special, even if it’s through Zoom. Dinner and a movie (which can be done at home). Game night – Grab some board games, card games, X-box, PlayStation and have a tournament. Make her feel like a kid again! BBQ – Break out the grill for her, if it’s nice where you live! Sip and paint party (many of which are currently being offered online). Short day trip to the city (when pandemic restrictions are lifted). Take her to the biggest city nearby and explore. “Beach day” – Even if that means making your own yard into a summer oasis. Hiking trip – Take her to a great hiking spot and go on an adventure. Nature can be a great stress reliever! Biking trip – One more way to get out of the house (while socially distancing), get some exercise and spend time in nature. Treatment of depression and mental health symptoms are unique to everyone. Talk with your provider about the option that’s best for you. And if you or someone you know battles with depression, know that you are not alone. There are treatment options, support communities and resources available for you or your loved one. If you or someone you know are in an immediate crisis, get help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or visit The International Association for Suicide Prevention to be connected to a trained counselor at a crisis center nearby. View the full article
  6. Individuals with social anxiety disorder have markedly different personality traits than others. Emotional instability and introversion are hallmarks, according to a new study from Uppsala University published in PLOS ONE. View the full article
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    COVID-19 Challenges to OCD and ED Recovery

    The COVID-19 pandemic can be a challenge to people who are recovering from OCD and Eating Disorders. The very precautions advanced to protect oneself, such as washing your hands often and disinfecting surfaces can evoke the hypervigilance an individual with OCD has worked hard to subdue. The scarcity of food on groceries shelves and the shutdown of many other restaurants and specialty food outlets can prompt someone who has overcome an eating disorder to overbuy or hoard, binge to deal with the stress, or restrict due to the difficulty of acquiring foods they normally eat, disrupting their routine and creating a need to assert some control over the seemingly ongoing chaos. We know what the trigger is, and it is real. It is perfectly normal to be scared of the uncertainty we are dealing with and angry about the upheaval we are experiencing in our lives. What we do have control over is how we respond. How can we get through these challenging times? We all need support during this pandemic, and the physical isolation that is demanded can make it all the more challenging. It is important to stay in touch with friends and family, in any number of ways — by phone, FaceTime, Zoom or text. You don’t have to talk about your struggles, sometimes just connecting and talking about something other than your challenges and COVID-19, such as what you’ve been binge watching or your favorite shared memories of a holiday or vacation, can lower your anxiety and help shift obtrusive thoughts. It may be helpful to reach out to someone who knows about the challenges you faced before and who supported you; often they can remind you of the techniques you used to overcome the challenges. It may also be worth contacted your therapist again and for a few sessions, a tune-up, and if they are no longer available, psychological support is available through telehealth, talkspace.com and betterhelp.com. If you are having a bad night or intense moment, call or text a crisis line; that’s what they are there for. Having the impulse to engage in one of your old behaviors? Take a step back and try breathing for five minutes or set an alarm for 15 minutes and engage in another activity — text a friend, take a walk, watch a YouTube video, allow the urge to pass. Revisit the coping mechanisms you originally used to defeat the behavior: did journaling, meditating, yoga, or working out help before? Have you subsequently given those old coping mechanisms up as you moved on to a different phase of your life? It may be useful to dust them off and give them another try. Keep to a routine/schedule: Worried you are washing or disinfecting too much? Determine times when you should logically do these things and try to abide by practicing these behaviors only at specified times, such as when you return from outside, or when someone comes or leaves, and allow yourself to only do it once or for 3-5 minutes. Plan your meals and keep a routine to avoid impulsive or restrictive behaviors. It can help to write down your plan of action and to post notes in places such as the bathroom and kitchen as reminders as well as encouragement to stay strong and to honor the hard work you have done so far. Groceries stories can be triggering right now: consider having someone else buy your groceries, having them delivered, or using pick-up to limit your visits. If you do need to go yourself, evening is often less stressful, as most people go in the morning to grab what was stocked overnight. Most stores stock at the beginning of the week, so try Monday or Tuesday evenings. There may be less options on the shelves than earlier in the day, but it may worth shopping later to lessen your anxiety. Don’t make any drastic changes in your routine and self-care; now is not a good time to decrease your meds, your therapy, your exercise routine (though you may have to modify it, if you are used to going to the gym). If anything, pamper yourself a little more. This is a stressful time. Treating yourself doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be as simple as a long bath by candlelight, a favorite drink or snack that you enjoy preparing and/or fancifully presenting, a new hobby or one you have neglected — pick up and strum that guitar, draw or cartoon, pound some clay and sculpt, try the hula or a few ballet positions. There are a number of instructional videos on YouTube that can help you to uncover a new interest or reconnect to an old hobby. Indulge in sleep: it’s restorative, and it’s ok to sleep a little more right now. Most importantly, remember a slip is not a relapse. Dealing with a slip as soon as you notice it, can prevent a relapse. It is easy to judge yourself harshly, to dispute your progress, and to feel like your condition is consuming you again. If you slip, reflect on the work you have done before, honor your inner strength, and recognize you have the ability to get back on track. You’ve done it before. You can do it again. Using the skills you developed, you can continue your success. Free Resources: Need to talk: Crisis Text Line, text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor. Breathing, Relaxation and Meditation exercises from Dartmouth Downloads Coping methods: Breathing exercise on Calm.com Peer support: on the Inspire App 99 Coping Skills by Your Voice Your Life View the full article
  8. A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, published by Elsevier, reports that an entirely parent-based treatment, SPACE (Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions), is as efficacious as individual cognitive-behavioral therapy for the treatment of childhood and adolescent anxiety disorders. View the full article
  9. In the wake of losing someone to suicide, there is much pain and confusion, to say the least. I want to list these five simple truths right up front for those who may need to hear them right away: It isn’t your fault. Do not be ashamed. Your grief is complicated. Healing is possible. You still have life. 1. It isn’t your fault. Losing someone to suicide can often fill us with very specific emotions: Guilt. Regret. Blame. But it is important to talk back to these feelings. It is important to realize and understand that you simply cannot carry the weight of someone else’s decision. Suicide is a very complicated and volatile act. There are a multitude of factors that may influence this unfortunate decision. But ultimately, practicing healthy boundaries means you cannot hold yourself responsible for the decision someone else made, no matter what your role may have been. It is simply too complicated of a matter to pin that responsibility upon a survivor, and most importantly, feelings of guilt, regret, and blame do not help anyone who is left behind. You will likely have a period where you need to explore those feelings and ask those questions, but then it is time to put them to rest. Otherwise, they impede your ability to find healing at all. 2. Do not be ashamed. Suicide and mental health carry an unfortunate stigma. But all too many survivors of suicide loss know in their heart of hearts that no one is exempt from the possibility of these things occurring. Mental illness, disorders, addiction, and substance abuse know no boundaries when it comes to who may suffer. Though it is a difficult type of loss to understand, it is not one of which to ever feel ashamed. Shame only compounds grief and creates more barriers between us and healing. Learning to recognize when shame threatens to color your perspective of what has happened is an important part of the healing process. 3. Your grief is complicated. While you would never want to tally the severity of your grief against another person’s circumstances, what you do need to acknowledge is that suicide loss results in complex grief. No loss is easy to understand, but this particular type is very convoluted due to its self-inflicted nature. Add to that the conditions that often co-occur prior to suicide such as mental illness, substance abuse, or trauma, and it is easy to see why this type of loss is not simply straightforward. That means healing will not be straightforward, either. It is more of an evolving process, step by step. 4. Healing is possible. In the beginning, this seems like a fairy tale. One you would be hard pressed to entertain. But there are many survivors of suicide loss who have found healing through supportive resources, much time, and much grace. Many go on to create resources for others who experience the same unfortunate circumstances, such as Jan McDaniel, one survivor who provides free resources on her website, Way for Hope. Almost every community has some type of support group or resource because almost every community is affected by suicide. The statistics are alarming, but good people all over the world are rising to the occasion to provide support for those that must endure this loss. 5. You still have life. Though it is difficult to go on, we must. In beginning the journey toward healing, we are not forgetting our loved ones. We are honoring them in the best possible way, by pursuing a healthy, fulfilling life that for reasons we may never know, was not possible for our loved ones we lost. We can commemorate their impact on our lives by living in a way that is positive, productive, and inspires and supports others around us. In this way, we perpetuate the love and kindness of our loved ones, we keep it growing, despite our loss. If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Text “Hello” to 741-74. Outside the United States, find the number for your location at the International Association of Suicide Prevention. There is help. There is hope. View the full article
  10. Three years ago, on March 24, 2017, the mental health community lost a wonderful advocate and inspiring individual who created and started Project Semicolon. The project connected people in the mental health community where the organization encouraged others to remember that you have the power to continue your story, even when you think it is over, just like in a sentence. I was inspired by Amy’s project, like many others were, to get a semicolon tattoo to remember that no matter what struggles life brings my way, I have the opportunity to inspire and help others, while I continue my own life story. Amy’s legacy continues as people are still using the semicolon symbol in their art, tattoo choices and conversations about mental illness. It was a painful and confusing time for the mental health community when Amy died by suicide. Amy was someone who spoke openly about mental illness, challenged the stigma, and advocated for awareness and change. Her father died by suicide and Amy lived with anxiety and depression from the time she was 8 years old. Amy did not let the stigma behind mental health issues stop her from opening up about her experiences with suicidal ideation and previous suicide attempts. Many people looked up to Amy as a power of example. She was the essence of surviving mental illness and brought inspiration to many who were struggling every day with holding on. When the news came out about Amy’s death, there was much confusion and anxiety amongst people who saw Amy and her project as a representation of strength, hope, and courage. Some people who began to second guess themselves and the message they heard about their own capabilities and strength to overcome suicidal ideation and other mental health issues. Through the confusion and feelings of despair, there were online resources that stepped up to help normalize the feelings around the devastating news of Amy’s death. Mental Health on the Mighty created an open dialogue for people to share their feelings on social media and also gain support during this very complex situation. Soon after, other social media outlets built a foundation of reconfirming Amy’s project goals and continued to share the work she did. On Amy’s project website, she had written: “Despite the wounds of a dark past, I was able to rise from the ashes, proving that the best is yet to come. When my life was filled with the pain of rejection, bullying, suicide, self-injury, addiction, abuse and even rape, I kept on fighting. I didn’t have a lot of people in my corner, but the ones I did have kept me going. In my 20 years of personally struggling with mental health I experienced many stigmas associated with it. Through the pain came inspiration and a deeper love for others. God wants us to love one another despite the label we wear. I do pray my story inspires others. Please remember there is hope for a better tomorrow.” Through the grief and confusion, this situation was a reminder of how much work still needed to be done in suicide prevention. It also became a reflective time for mental health advocates to recognize that things can be ever-changing for someone living with a mental illness. Amy’s death did not end her plan to normalize mental illness and create safe spaces to share and be open about mental health. Even though she is gone her legacy continues. “Amy’s life was a testament that one person can truly make a difference,” said a statement from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Amy is still very much talked about in the mental health communities as someone who overcame tremendous obstacles, pain and was able to transform that pain into helping others. Many people that wanted to end their life and chose to stay because of Amy’s work and the willingness to share her story. Amy will forever be here in spirit. I do not see her story as over just because she is gone. Her story has carried on in conversations about how we can do better in the mental health fields, how she continues to inspire others when people google her name, her project or her quotes, and for everyone that uses the semicolon symbol to signify overcoming their mental health barriers. Amy will always be a guiding light for many; her story will continue. View the full article
  11. Like many in our community, I’m also feeling anxious and fearful of the unknowns related to the current COVID-19 crisis. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. For the next several weeks, everyone in our community will be practicing social distancing. The closure of schools, colleges, nonessential businesses, restricting gatherings, and other types of in-person interactions are efforts aimed at stopping or slowing down the spread of infectious diseases. Not surprisingly, social distancing can result in us feeling even more anxious, fearful, depressed and lonely. And those with preexisting mental health conditions might experience new or worsening symptoms since social distancing equates to less social in-person interactions, the behaviors known to improve our well being and reduce the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. So, the question is, “What can we do to address our emotional health during the COVID-19 pandemic?” Below are a few recommendations you can do immediately to support yourself and your emotional health during these stressful times: Observe and describe your emotions in a nonjudgmental way. Some people naturally run hotter than others when it comes to experiencing strong emotions like anxiety. This strategy entails observing your surroundings or circumstance and then describing your observations in words. Think along the lines of a reporter. The purpose of this technique is to help calm down strong emotions so you can think more rationally and act more skillfully. For most of us, it’s impossible to reason when we’re emotional. Have a distress tolerance plan. We’re all experiencing anxiety with today’s new realities. Having a distress tolerance plan in place for calming down strong emotions is beneficial for taking care of our emotional health. A distress plan can include making time for taking warm baths, watching funny movies, playing games on your iPhone, or exercising. These are all great ways to calm down strong emotions so our rational brains can take over. Take regular and frequent breaks from watching, reading or listening to the news. Being exposed to the news 24/7 about the pandemic is not only emotionally upsetting, but it’s also bad for our physical health. Research studies show that exposure to prolonged periods of stress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, stomach issues, headaches, elevated blood pressure, cardiac disease and problems sleeping. Take care of your body. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs. Make meditation a daily self-care practice. Studies analyzed in JAMA (The Journal of The Medical Association) showed that meditation does help manage anxiety. The focus of mindfulness meditation is to train the brain to stay in the moment, which in turn, decreases our stress levels. Create meaningful interactions with your family. Although a pandemic is not what one would ever hope for, try to take advantage of the extra time you might have for connecting with your children, partner, pets and friends. Playing board games, cards and watching movies together are great ways to deepen connections and for creating memories, even during stressful times. Use social networking sites and virtual platforms for staying connected. In addition to texting, I’ve been using FaceTime to connect to friends and family while practicing social distancing. Seeing the other person’s facial expressions and hearing their voice creates a deeper, fuller and richer social interaction. Deeper and richer social interactions definitely help to combat depression or loneliness brought on by social distancing. Connect with nature. As much as possible, go for a walk, a run or a bike ride. Research consistently shows that connecting with nature decreases symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. You’re not alone. Remember yourself you’re not alone. We’re all affected by the pandemic and most of us are experiencing an increase in our stress levels. It’s unavoidable. Simply knowing we’re not alone can reduce feelings of loneliness. Let’s stay connected during these stressful times. I’d like to hear from you. Please share your suggestions or recommendations that could help others or questions you may have regarding caring for your emotional health during the pandemic. Be well and be safe! View the full article
  12. Phobiasupportforum

    Podcast: I Fear My Spouse Will Abandon Me

     Do you struggle with abandonment fears? Do you worry your partner will suddenly ditch you even though there’s no real reason to feel this way? In today’s Not Crazy podcast, Gabe opens up about his own deep-rooted fear that his wife will decide she doesn’t want him anymore. After all, he concludes, what does he have to offer her? I mean, surely she can do better. And even though he knows these fears are unfounded and irrational, he feels helpless in stopping them. How can Gabe get these thoughts under control? Tune in to hear Jackie give some great advice to her dear friend, and for anyone dealing with abandonment issues. (Transcript Available Below) SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW About The Not Crazy Podcast Hosts Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Jackie Zimmerman has been in the patient advocacy game for over a decade and has established herself as an authority on chronic illness, patient-centric healthcare, and patient community building. She lives with multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, and depression. You can find her online at JackieZimmerman.co, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Computer Generated Transcript for “Spouse Abandonment” Episode Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Announcer: You’re listening to Not Crazy, a Psych Central podcast. And here are your hosts, Jackie Zimmerman and Gabe Howard. Jackie: Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of Not Crazy. I am here with my co-host, Gabe. Gabe: And of course, I’m here with my co-host, Jackie. Jackie: And we were talking this morning about something that’s been weighing pretty heavily on your mind, and I thought let’s make this into an episode because that’s our lives. So you’ve been talking a lot about anxiety around the idea of your wife leaving you. Gabe: It’s true. I don’t know why. And she’s given me no reason to think this. I just I wish. And I know this is kind of a messed up thing to say, but I wish that she gave me a reason to feel this way because then I wouldn’t feel so crazy. We were married almost eight years. There’s no problems. We’re not in the middle of a fight. I just have this gut, gut, visceral, strong feeling that the woman’s gonna leave me. Jackie: Have you had this feeling in your marriage with Kendall or in any past relationships before? Gabe: Well, I’m having this feeling in my marriage with Kendall right now. Jackie: But like previously, like, has this ever happened before? Gabe: No. No, it’s never happened before with Kendall. It has happened. You know what? No, no. This is the first time I have ever been jealous or had these feelings ever in my life. You know, now that I think about it, no. When all of my other relationships ended, I was completely blindsided. I have always been the dumped, never the dumpee because. Yeah. Yeah. Well, my first marriage, it just turns out women don’t like to be married to untreated bipolars. Jackie: Weird. Gabe: And in my my second marriage, we’re still friends, which is weird, but it was messed up. Jackie: Ok, another thing. Gabe: Yeah. It’s like memory lane. Thanks. Thanks. Jackie: You’re welcome. That’s what we’re here for, Gabe: I get dumped a lot. Jackie: To make you feel miserable. Gabe: That’s awesome. Jackie: But you’re talking about this in therapy, which like Yahoo! for therapy, we know. I love it. What does your therapist say? Gabe: My therapist likes to do this thing chain analysis, where we know that I have this feeling. So now let’s back up to why I have the feeling so and then when you connect those things, you can work on it. The problem is, is backwards doesn’t lead anywhere. I have this feeling, OK, what’s the one step back? Well, I don’t want my wife to leave me because I love her. OK, what’s the one step back from that? Is she giving you any reason? No. The best that I can come up with is that my wife, she’s beautiful, she’s intelligent. And this is one of the burdens of marrying somebody way younger than you. You know, she was like 26 when we got married. And now she’s not. She’s just achieved so much in the last eight years. And she’s not the same person. And this person is so incredible that it would be lunacy for her to stay with me. Jackie: What do you bring to your marriage? Gabe: I mean, I bring bipolar disorder to our marriage, a panic disorder, and anxiety disorder. I mean, those are some pretty nifty things to bring into a marriage. Jackie: Ok. Right. But what else do you bring to your marriage? Smart ass. Gabe: Obviously, I do bring things to the marriage, I do all the cooking, I do all the cleaning. I handle like the household organizational tasks, like, you know, the minutia of life is all handled by me. I do bring that to the marriage. Jackie: Ok. But I’m going to ask you again, what else do you bring to the marriage? Because you basically are like, I’m her personal assistant through all of those things. What else makes your marriage uniquely yours because you’re in it? Gabe: I just told you I was her personal assistant. I am her personal assistant. I handle all of that stuff for her, which is why it wouldn’t be so big of a loss to lose me. The other day I said to Kendall, If I left, you would have all the same things that you have now except the dog. I’m taking the dog. Jackie: And she said no. Right? Gabe: Oh, yeah, yeah. She said no. And it’s sweet, loving, hugged me, kissed me, told me I was wonderful. But come on. What’s she supposed to say? You can’t tell the dude that you’re married to that you’re living with. Yeah, that’s a good point. I could hire all of the things that you do for me and not have to tolerate your dumb ass. Jackie: Ok. You’re looking at all like literally the physical things that you bring to your marriage. Right. You are there. You do all of these things that are like, I physically exist in the same room as my wife. What you’re not remembering or not seeing or not acknowledging is that you bring more to your marriage than just like the acts you perform. And the reason why this is really important to me personally is because I live with two chronic illnesses, one of which could make me completely physically unable to take care of myself at any moment, literally at any minute. M.S. could be like, you can’t walk anymore. You can’t feed yourself. This is a real fun party. So you bring more to your marriage than just like the acts you perform for her. You offer her companionship. You offer her comedic relief. You offer her emotional support in everything, I’m sure. And well, I’m sure you’re gonna tell me. It doesn’t matter because you’re bipolar, because you detract as much as you give. Blah, blah, blah. You’re failing to see that the root of your marriage is the relationship you have formed with Kendall. And all those other things are like a bonus. Gabe: I’m not a stupid person. I agree with you. And if the tables were turned, if you were calling me up and you were saying, Gabe, Adam’s going to leave me, I would say all of the things to you that you are now saying to me, and I get it, I get the idea that Kendall is a grown woman. And if she has chosen to be married to me, she obviously wants to be married to me and she is getting something out of it. I don’t know. Maybe I make the best spaghetti. I listen, I honestly don’t know what it is. And I have asked her. I have. I’m like, why would you be married to me? And she’s like, well, my life is never boring. Why is this a priority? What do you mean? Your life is never boring? One, have you looked around? We live in suburbia. All the houses look the same. Our life is as boring as fuck. I just I can’t find that thing. I just. I can’t find that thing. Jackie: In lieu of turning this into full blown therapy, because as we know, I love therapy, I’m not good at giving it to other people. Gabe: Are you saying that you’re not a licensed therapist? Jackie: I am not. And I also don’t know how to therap-ize other people, so Gabe: Ha ha. Jackie: I’m just, you know, taking what I’ve learned here. But I would encourage you to go to Kendall and ask her to work, to elaborate. And maybe she’s good in writing, maybe she’s good at talking like speak to her strengths of helping her understand what you bring to your marriage, because I assume that “it’s never boring” is a umbrella statement for a lot of tiny things that are great about you and what you bring to your marriage. But, therapy session over, what is really happening here is a lot of unwarranted anxiety and you’re trying to navigate it. Right? Gabe: I’m just scared that she’s going to leave and I feel that I need a backup plan for when it happens. And the keyword there being when. I’ve been through two divorces, I had a significant relationship where we lived together, and my biological father took one look at me when I was born and was like, yeah, no. I’ve suffered a lot of loss of people who are alive. And I haven’t even gotten into the loss I’ve suffered from people who have passed away. And I’ve lost a lot of people, relationships, jobs, social status from living with bipolar disorder. So loss is just ingrained. It’s just ingrained into me. In fact, I firmly believe that I have lost more people than I have gained. And what happens when Kendall is one of them? I don’t want to be caught with my pants down. That’s not a double entendre. I just I sincerely mean, I just, I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to call my mom and dad and tell them that I blew another marriage. I don’t want to reach over in the middle of the night and have nobody be there. And I want to know how to protect myself from that happening, because if she goes away, that’s going to happen to me. That’s going to happen to me again. And I don’t know that I can get through it for a 15th time. Jackie: Oh, I have so many things I want to say, and most of them are encouraging. First and foremost, like, you know, that you will get through it because evidence of your life has shown that you have gotten through it. Every time you survived. Right. It may not have been pretty, but you did it. You’re still here. All those other losses did not destroy you to the point of no return. I know you’re gonna want to like say well, but, you know, I did get admitted, blah, blah, blah. Right? Like all those other things. But like, you’re Gabe: Yes. Jackie: Still here. Gabe: I’m very resilient to being dumped. Jackie: You’re a functioning human being, you’re on the planet. You have survived everything so far. Right or wrong? Gabe: Sure. But, you know, come on, there’s people that have had their limbs hacked off that have survived. I don’t subscribe to this notion that whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Jackie: Oh, I don’t either. Gabe: There’s lots of things that don’t kill you that make you really fucking weak. Jackie: Agree, but at the root of it all, you have gotten through all of it, right? It wasn’t fun. You didn’t want to, but you did. You got through all of it. And you currently lead a life that is good and happy and sustainable. Gabe: And let’s talk about that for a moment. You’re right. This is the best I’ve ever been. And sincerely, that’s part of the problem. This is the best my life has ever been. I am 43 years old. This is the most stable. This is the happiest. This is the healthiest. This is the wealthiest. This is the most in love. This is the everything. I mean, even if we want to, like, turn it into, you know, money equals happiness. Well, I’ve got the biggest house. I’ve got the nicest car and I’ve got the least amount of debt. If you want to turn it into. Oh, it’s the people you know. I know Kendall. Kendall’s amazing. I know you, Jackie. You’re amazing. I have like two best friends. I’m not saying I don’t want more friends. I’m just. We all want more. But if I just take a base look at what I have, it’s the most I ever had. And all I can think of and all that goes through my mind is this is the most I will lose. So when you talk about will I get through it? I don’t know. I’ve never fallen from this height. Jackie: I’m having a really hard time responding to that because I am, because I’m tearing up, because I relate to it. And looking at a position in my life where I have the most to lose because I am doing well and I am very happy and very loved and successful. But I think that that’s when we start to catastrophize things, when things are going the best. We’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. And for you right now, it’s manifesting as Kendall leaving. I’m always thinking about Adam dying. Always. I’m always thinking about Adam dying. And it’s the worst. I’ve never loved anybody so deeply and appreciated their presence in my life so much that I’ve had to think about what does it mean when they’re gone? So I can relate. It’s different, but I can totally relate. But I think that you’re in an important position right now, because now you have to figure out how to not turn this into a self-fulfilling prophecy, where you tell Kendall over and over and over again, you’re going to leave. And then finally she’s like, I can’t handle this anymore. I’m gonna leave, you know? Gabe: Catastrophizing. Right. It’s making a mountain out of a molehill and, yeah. I know that I’m doing that. Again, the logical part of my brain is absolutely firing on all cylinders. And the second thing is that self-fulfilling prophecy. If I look backwards from this vantage point, I drove people away. I’m not saying that they were 100 percent right and I was 100 percent wrong. It’s never that simple. But I’m just saying that constantly worrying about something and obsessing over it and focusing on it, it does mean that you’re not focusing on the things that keep a relationship healthy and safe. If I look at Kendall and I think what can I do to get you to stay? I’m going to Of Mice and Men her you know? Jackie: Yes. Gabe: I’m going to pet the rabbit to death. I don’t want to do that. But when I lay awake at night, it seeps in, and it obviously open communication is a powerful tool for this and it is helping. Jackie: We’ll be right back after we hear from our sponsors. Announcer: Interested in learning about psychology and mental health from experts in the field? Give a listen to the Psych Central Podcast, hosted by Gabe Howard. Visit PsychCentral.com/Show or subscribe to The Psych Central Podcast on your favorite podcast player. Announcer: Hey Not Crazy listeners, I want to tell you about Kratom Crazy. They have down stripped the kratom purchasing process to the basics. They don’t sell fancily named or enhanced strains and instead they keep it simple for their customers. Head over to KratomCrazy.com now. Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counseling. Our counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counseling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Gabe: And we’re back discussing our fear of losing our spouses. Jackie: Have you talked to Kendall about all of this? Gabe: One hundred percent. This episode is not going to shock her in any way. I’ve told her how I feel. We’ve talked about it a lot and that has helped. Like that is probably the biggest defense in all of this. Previously, I just internalized it 100 percent and I answered my own questions, which frankly is just a jerk move, right? When you’re having conversations with another person and you’re speaking for them and they don’t even know the conversation is going on like that just makes you a jackass. So I have these fears and I just said to Kendall, I feel like you’re going to leave me. And she, of course, said, I’m not going to leave you. Why do you think that way? And I told her why. I imagine for you it’s a little harder, Jackie, because I don’t know if you’ve told Adam that you’re afraid he’s going to die, but it’s obviously a lot more difficult for him to reassure you. And that does make me wonder, like, what has been your tactic for this? Because like you said, you’re at the highest point of your life as well. Jackie: I have talked to Adam about this, and honestly, the most reassuring moments, you can’t reassure somebody you’re not going to die, right? Gabe: Right. Jackie: This isn’t Captain America. Gabe: Yeah. Jackie: Where you’re like, I promise I will never die. But he said to me, I think about that, too, because I thought it was just me just panicking, like worst case scenario. When’s the shoe gonna drop? What if he dies? What do I do? How will I ever get through this? And he told me he thinks about it, too, which is weirdly comforting. It doesn’t solve anything for either of us, but it was like he feels the same way about his life. He’s afraid of losing what we’ve got too. And again, these are different scenarios. But I think the difference between where you and Kendall are right now is that Kendall is not afraid that you’re going to leave because she’s super, super confident in where you’re at and she believes in what you have. And I’m not saying that you don’t. But I’m saying that like you’ve got some life experience and some internal doubt. Probably maybe there’s some internal conflict. Maybe you’re – Gabe: I have abandonment issues out the wazoo. I mean, just let’s call a spade a spade. This has nothing to do with Kendall. I have unresolved abandonment issues that have gone unchallenged for way too long and became a thing. Jackie: So check, check, check. You know, the root of all this. And you know that like you’re projecting this, you’re kind of putting this on her. Of I feel this way. I’m afraid of this. And it’s manifesting into like what I think you’re going to do about it. I am always going to tell you to keep going to therapy, because I think that, like, therapy is the best place that I’ve worked out my abandonment issues and even I’ve even talked about like, I’m afraid Adam’s going to die. And basically, what I learned, the quiet thing that people who are happily married don’t talk about is we’re all afraid our spouses are going to die like any minute. The second I started talking about that was the first time I had multiple people be like, oh, yeah, I think about this all the time. And I was like, oh, that’s what marriage is. Constantly being afraid that your favorite person in the whole world is going to die, which is, you know, awful. It’s a bad commercial for marriage, but it shows how much you value that person. And I think like that’s the root of this, right? You value Kendall, you want her around and you add in abandonment issues, especially ones that have not been tackled into probably something very tiny. I’m sure there was a catalyst and it was something so small. You either didn’t realize it or it seemed mundane. And it has slowly started to build into a full blown divorce. And that’s the kind of shit that ruins marriages. You know? Gabe: Jackie, I think about these things a lot because of our job, right, it’s our job to research all of these concepts, to put together shows and to figure out what part of our personal lives we’re going to discuss and what part of our personal lives we’re not going to discuss. And where’s the gray area and what’s too far and what’s not enough? And we lead very open lives. And on one hand, that’s great because I want to educate people. But on the other hand, you know, sometimes I get email and they’re like, oh, my God, your marriage is so perfect. I wish I could have your marriage. And I think to myself, my marriage isn’t perfect. Kendall’s going to leave me at any moment, which is completely manufactured in my head. And then I tell people that and I talk to people in support groups or just, you know, out and about when I’m speaking or whatever. And people will say to me, I want your marriage. I’m like, well, listen, you know, my marriage isn’t perfect. You know, we fight about the dishes. You know, we have to discuss how to spend money. It’s just the world is not the Internet. Facebook is your best self. Instagram is your best pictures. There are no double chins on Instagram. Everything’s filtered, and I think that’s part of my problem, too. I honestly believe that my grandparents have a better marriage than they probably do because my grandparents aren’t going to fight in front of the kids. They’re not going to sit me down and say, hey, we had this conflict back in 1922. You know, I don’t know what they’re fighting about, but it’s their personal relationship. So we’re comparing everybody’s public self to our private self. And I think that tolls on me as well, because I’m just constantly looking at other people’s marriages and deciding that mine is bad, which is only going to end in disaster. Jackie: As your friend right now, I want to tell you all the things I’m supposed to tell you, right? Like, Gabe, you know that’s not right. You can rationalize your way through this. You can talk to Kendall. You can, you know, everything that I’m supposed to say right now. So let’s pretend, like, I said all that stuff, because I want to and I mean it. But I mean, the reality is like sometimes specifically with anxiety, you can rationalize your way through it to your blue in the face, but it doesn’t make it go away. It’s still there. Gabe: One of the best books that I ever read was by a gentleman named Dr. Gleb Tipursky, and he wrote a book called Never Go With Your Gut. Now he wrote it in the sense of business. You know, if you’re making a business decision based on your gut, that’s stupid. And he gives many, many examples. But one of the examples that he gives is that the reason that people get conned is because they’re trusting their gut. Con men are really good at making you excited, making you feel good. You know, they don’t talk about the $10,000 you have to send the Iranian prince. They talk about how you’re going to spend the hundred thousand dollars that they’re going to send back and they get you excited about that. You feel really good to get this influx of money and to help your family. And your gut is telling you this is fantastic and it overrides the logical part of your brain that says, hey, you’re sending $10,000 to a stranger in another country. There’s a lot of that here that I think is just exceptionally powerful for all of us to remember and all of us to know. Our gut lies just because something feels good doesn’t make it good. And taking that pause to remember, Kendall loves me. I think we can all be smarter in remembering that. And I really think that that is the best way forward. Jackie: It’s really easy to get caught in the cycle in your brain of like this will happen and then this will happen and then, and you get in this incredible downward spiral where you’re at rock bottom in like four seconds. You’re like, wow, my life is shit now. Even when none of those things have happened. And it’s really hard to come out of it because now you’ve convinced yourself it’s gonna happen no matter what. One of the things that I do, I will take it to the worst case scenario to see what happens. And almost every time I’m still alive at the end of it, which is a silver lining, I guess maybe my life is terrible, but I’m still alive. So I’ve got that. But another thing that I do that is probably less depressing is I will journal out the good things. I practice gratitude. I try to do three a day in a tiny journal. I’m not very good at it, but I do think about it. And it’s almost always, I’m so grateful for Adam, I’m so grateful he’s in my life. And sometimes it just ends up being writing those positive things over and over and over again. A page of like, I’m so happy. I’m so grateful. Everything is fine. I will be okay. And even if it only solves it for like thirty five seconds, it’s still thirty five seconds that I don’t feel like the biggest pile of shit on the planet. Gabe: And it’s important to remember that thirty five seconds is a lot and it’s forward progress and it’s forward momentum. Listen. Am I going to become the happiest person tomorrow? Probably not. But I really do think that I can do better. And, Jackie, of course, obviously, you’ve been talking to me about this for weeks and we didn’t have to talk about this on the air. So kudos for suggesting that you get paid for it. Jackie: Yeah, I know I’m a genius, right? But part of it also, though, is what we do. There is a level of forced vulnerability, right? We could not talk about any of this. We could just keep it all behind the scenes and do like uplifting pop culture reference shows. But that’s not real and that’s not the show that we wanted to do. So, right back at you, like you chose to share this part. And I think it’s important. Gabe: Thanks, Jackie. And hey, listeners, we got Not Crazy stickers. If you want some, e-mail show@PsychCentral.com and we’ll tell you how to go about it. Stay tuned after all of the credits because we always put funny stuff there. And finally, wherever you downloaded this podcast, please subscribe. Please rank. Please review. Share us on social media. Email us to a friend. Hey, if you have a social circle and you’re all at dinner, tell them about the Not Crazy podcast. Jackie and I would consider it a personal favor. Jackie: We’ll see you all next week. View the full article
  13. While countries are dealing with mass breakouts of Coronavirus, there are many people with health anxiety going into crisis with their mental health. It is difficult to get away from the conversations on the news that talk about how many more new cases there are daily, or social media posts that share videos of people being stuck in their homes for weeks at a time. You can’t escape the grocery store conversations about the shortage of toilet paper or not see the signs posted everywhere, warning people to take precaution. For someone with health anxiety, these situations can trigger anxiety symptoms to the point that it interferes with daily life. Living with health anxiety can be exhausting for someone who constantly worries about germs, getting sick, and non-specific symptoms they fear may be terminal. So how does someone with health anxiety cope during this raging fear of Coronavirus? It is not as simple as reminding people to wash their hands, take precautions, report symptoms and limit contact in public. For many with health anxiety, every precaution suggested can be followed and they will still have sleepless nights, worrying they will contract the illness. An anxious mind can overestimate the threat and underestimate the ability to cope. Medical resources that are posting information to minimize the concerns are saying the flu kills more people than Coronavirus. This is not helpful for someone with health anxiety. A person with health anxiety will worry about the flu AND Coronavirus with that kind of information. Health anxiety is a real concern for people. It is not just someone over-exaggerating and being dramatic. Often there is an underlying traumatic health-related experience that manifests into a generalized daily health fear. Other times, health anxiety is branched off from another anxiety disorder like Generalized Anxiety Disorder, social phobias, or OCD. Coping with health anxiety during mass outbreaks, like the Coronavirus, is possible with a few self-care tips listed below: Share your concerns with a trusted person, like your family, therapist or doctor. Sharing your concerns might not make the fear entirely leave, but will give you a safe platform to voice your feelings and get support and validation. Limit your exposure to social media and the news. Easier said than done, for sure. Even as a temporary solution, unfollow or block any pages that seem to spend every day online talking about the Coronavirus. Your sanity is worth it. Take time every day to engage in an activity that brings you relaxation and serenity — or start doing a new one. This is a great time to consider trying yoga, meditation and art therapy as anxiety outlets, if you have not tried them yet. Make sure if you do come across information on social media, or even in the general public, that the resource is reliable. Nothing can escalate someone’s anxiety more than false information and uncertainty, fueled by people who don’t have the correct facts. Prepare yourself. If your community does have a quarantine, you can alleviate some of the self isolation by preparing yourself with enough food, water and anything else you might need. Being prepared gives you the power back and lets your anxious mind know that you are ready and able to get through any potential isolation that may occur. We need to be cautious of Coronavirus but not anxiety-ridden to the point that it is interfering with the enjoyment of living. If you are struggling to find your balance with your health anxiety, reach out for support to help you come up with an empowering plan to combat your fears. Empowering yourself during stressful times is a great way to quiet the anxious mind a little. Have you ever noticed that, when you feel most anxious about anything, it is your perception about the situation that you don’t have what it takes to cope that makes your anxiety rise? You do have what it takes. Writing down some positive affirmations to remind you that you can handle this is a good starting point. It can help you to shift focus from your uncertainty to knowing you are resilient and capable of navigating through stressful situations. The Coronavirus does not need to escalate your health anxiety unless you give it the power to do so. Take back your power and believe in yourself. You got this! View the full article
  14. Phobiasupportforum

    Psychology Around the Net: February 29, 2020

    In this week’s Psychology Around the Net, we discuss raising awareness for eating disorders, the benefits of intuitive eating, why therapists have so little training (if any) in helping suicidal patients, the plunging mental health of modern farmers, managing coronavirus anxiety, and more. It’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and Health Experts Want to Raise Awareness: We are on the tail end of National Eating Disorders Awareness week (February 24th to March 1st), and clinicians are hoping the exposure increased awareness of these often debilitating illnesses. Eating disorders come in a variety of disguises, from anorexia to obesity to an over-fixation on healthy eating. All eating disorders, however, cause disturbance within a person’s eating pattern that affects their physical and mental health. She Learned to Love Eating — And Herself — Despite a Lifetime of Fat Shaming: Around 30 million Americans struggle with an eating disorder and shame is a major part of their lives. “So many people with a higher weight are embarrassed to go out on the street and walk because stigma is really more toxic than the weight on them,” says registered dietitian Elyse Resch. This article discusses the concept of intuitive eating, where no food is off limits, and how it dramatically changed the life of Harriet, a woman with PCOS who has struggled with obesity since childhood. We Tell Suicidal People to Go to Therapy. So Why Are Therapists Rarely Trained in Suicide?: Suicide is the nation’s 10th leading cause of death, yet training for mental health practitioners who treat suicidal patients — psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, among others — is dangerously inadequate, says the author. This article thoroughly probes this topic and explores what can be done. ‘I’m Constantly Putting on a Brave Face’: Farmers Speak Out on Mental Health: A recent survey conducted by the Farm Safety Foundation in the U.K. found that 84% of farmers under age 40 believe mental health is the biggest hidden problem they face. This article details the many pressures farmers experience today, from loneliness to anti-meat movements to devastating floods. How to Manage Your Anxiety About Coronavirus: Now that the CDC has told Americans to get ready for the coronavirus to disrupt our day-to-day lives, it’s easy to see why so many people are starting to feel a little panicky. In this article, several experts give their take on what we can do to ease our disease-related anxiety. “There’s no correlation between how worried you are and how at risk you are,” says Catherine Belling, an associate professor of medical education at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Isolated and Sequestered in Their Homes, Chinese Citizens Report Anxiety and Depression While on Lockdown Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak: Amid transportation bans, strict quarantine measures, and lockdowns, many Chinese citizens are facing a mental health crisis. Unfortunately, the culture’s ongoing stigma of mental illness prevents many sufferers from seeking help, and there are very few resources available for those who do. More than 300 24-hour mental health support hotlines have been launched since the outbreak. “They leave messages saying they’re exhausted, that they’re scared,” said a Seattle-based hotline volunteer. View the full article
  15. Phobiasupportforum

    Befriending Depression

    If you’re reading this, there’s a chance you or someone you love lives with depression, and I say lives with for a reason. In this blog, I want to pose a different way to approach understanding your depression. Instead of pushing depression away and hating on it, I want you to love it. I want you to go to the store with it, to the bank, your favorite deli. Sit at home watching TV holding hands while eating popcorn. I want you to think of depression as not something you have — like a disease or an iPhone — but to think of depression as your partner, your friend. I encourage you to flip your entire perspective about depression from something internal to something external, like the imaginary friend’s kids have. And I want you to get to know this friend because this friend can teach you a lot about yourself. To quote Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Depression isn’t something you catch like a cold; it’s a relationship you create. But are you really aware of why you’re sharing your life with this bleak friend? For now, forget the clinical meaning of depression because you don’t really understand who or what depression is until you’ve lived with it for a while. To understand it a little more, I’d like you to think about why you choose depression as your partner, because you have chosen it. It doesn’t just arrive at your door one day without an invitation. It’s true, there might be a million explanations why you live with depression, but we can typically boil it down to just two overarching reasons — failure or hopelessness. “How dare you suggest I choose to live with depression? I don’t want to be depressed. I hate depression!” Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m a terrible person for making such a generalization but stick with me and we’ll see if we can get to the bottom of this. Learn to Understand Your Depression First, I’d like you to close your eyes and imagine what your depression partner looks like. Does it look like you? Is it a shapeless blob or does it appear like George Clooney in a Hawaiian shirt? Whatever your depression image, define it. See it in your mind. Make it real and externalize it. Give your depression partner a name. And don’t just call it depression or the black dog, be original. Call it something like Pookie, Flump or Roger. A name is important for its identity. Find somewhere quiet and ask Pookie to sit down while you make him — her or it — a drink or a snack (I’m serious, go do it). Now start a conversation but begin with humility and not sarcasm. Be open to understanding what Pookie has to say. In the beginning it might not start well, for Pookie might hold a lot of resentment towards you. He may call you names and act hurt, because friends often do this when they feel taken advantage of or pushed to their limits with little regard for their wellbeing. And there’s a good chance you have hurt Pookie. Here’s a brief example conversation: “Hi, Pookie, how’s it going today?” “Don’t talk to me, loser.” “I’m sorry, Pookie. I’m trying to be thoughtful and understand you. That way I might be able to help you feel better?” “You want to help me, then stop being irresponsible and get a backbone!” “What do you mean, irresponsible?” “For not speaking up. You ask me to do so much and when it doesn’t go right, you blame me and start demanding I do better and work longer hours. You’re pushing me to do something I just can’t do. And instead of owning that and asking for help, you keep quiet and demand I do more. But I can’t. I’m exhausted.” “But Pookie, if you don’t succeed, we’ll fail, and I can’t fail. My boss will be angry.” “But failing is okay. Failing at something doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Be strong and accept that. Otherwise you’re hurting me and not accepting reality.” Pookie knows what’s really going on. He shows you hold an unhealthy internal belief of: “I must not fail, because if I fail it means I’m a worthless human and nobody will love me.” But that belief doesn’t make sense. It’s irrational and easily reversible. And it’s this type of belief that is probably at the heart of your depression problem. If you sit down and talk to your Pookie, the chances are you’ll soon understand your reason for depression. I bet deep down you really know anyway, but probably don’t want to admit it. Often we don’t admit something to ourselves because it means accepting we need to change to feel better. And for many, doing something seems way harder than living with depression. But change is an inevitable path for growth. Even slow growth is surely preferable over depression? The reality is things don’t always go to plan. You know life isn’t fair, no matter how much you demand it. There is always someone better, stronger, smarter and more productive than you and that’s okay. So, stand up straight and accept life’s realities, whatever they are and no matter how tough they seem. Asking for help doesn’t mean you are weak. Asking for help means you’re smart. Failing at one thing doesn’t make you a complete failure, it means you failed at this one task. And even when things look gloomy, you have choices. Depression doesn’t have to live with you forever. Regardless of whether you like this or not, depression for most of us is a choice. You don’t have to live with depression, but you do need to accept your part in creating it. And understanding your why will go a long way to helping you figure out your next step. Pookie knows this, but will you listen to Pookie? View the full article