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Everything posted by Phobiasupportforum

  1. When I was in college studying psychology, one of my professors had a handy little saying he liked to share that guided his counseling practice: “skills before pills.” What did this mean? In essence, as a psychologist, when he was working with clients, helping them manage various types of mood concerns, he always advocated for his clients to learn coping skills before pursuing taking psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants. The reason he advocated for this is because, by learning coping skills, you can use these to self-manage the stressors and symptoms impacting your mental health. Coping skills are tools you keep in your imaginary tool belt, and you can whip out whenever you need them. Those coping skills provide you the confidence to manage your own mental health symptoms whenever they pop up. Psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, for instance, are also very valuable for treating mental health disorders. But many people wonder if and when they should consider being evaluated for a possible medication. Here, we will outline how you may know it’s the right time to consider adding medication to your treatment plan for your mental health issues. As always, though, you need to work with your treating provider to create the best treatment plan specific to your needs. When speaking of moderate to severe depression and anxiety, the very best evidence-based treatment is a combination of psychotherapy (i.e., talk therapy) and psychiatric medication. When used in combination, these two treatment options help alleviate symptoms and provide relief to people who are suffering from anxiety and depression. But what if you’re unsure if seeking medications is the right choice for you? If you are experiencing your first ever bout of anxiety or depression and have never had treatment for it before, it can be best to start with psychotherapy. In therapy, you can explore what may be triggering your depression and begin to learn how to better cope with the symptoms and stressors leading to your mood concerns. On the flip side, if you are finding one of the following rings true for you, it can also be helpful to seek an evaluation for psychiatric medications: 1) “My anxiety/depression is impacting me so significantly that I can barely function in my day to day life. I struggle to even get out of bed or make it to work. I can’t care for my kids.” If you find that your symptoms are so severe that you just can’t make it through what you need to do in a day, psychiatric medications can help alleviate your symptoms. By using medications in this instance, you can get to the point where you can better engage in psychotherapy and practice skills to manage your day to day stressors. 2) “I’m struggling to actually be able to implement coping skills. I just can’t seem to work up the energy or motivation to practice the skills I’m learning.” If you’re feeling so impaired by your mental health symptoms that you can’t work up the strength and energy to use the skills you’ve learned, medication can help. Medication can help provide reduction in the severity of your symptoms so you can feel better able to use those skills you’ve learned. 3) “I’m having suicidal thoughts and am scared that nothing will get better. I’m not sure I can stay safe.” Your safety and well-being are the top priority. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, it can be extremely helpful to be evaluated for psychiatric medications. By doing so in combination with psychotherapy, you can work on reducing the depression that is impacting those suicidal thoughts. 4) “I’ve been in psychotherapy for quite some time and my depression/anxiety just isn’t improving.” If you find that, despite consistently going to psychotherapy, your symptoms haven’t gotten better, it can be a good time to consider an evaluation for psychiatric medications. What many find is, by starting medication, they can feel some increased relief of their symptoms and, as a result, find that their therapy also becomes more productive and helpful. 5) “I have had psychotic symptoms (for instance, seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there) or manic symptoms (for instance, reduced need for sleep, increased impulsive/risk taking behaviors, fast/pressured speech).” If you have found, or a loved one has expressed to you concerns about possible psychotic or manic symptoms, it is important to be evaluated for psychiatric medication. These symptoms very often require a medication intervention to combat the symptoms. The fact is, if you are having psychosis or mania, it is extremely difficult to engage properly or benefit from psychotherapy until the symptoms are better under control. What if you’re still unsure whether psychiatric medications are right for you? It is extremely helpful to broach this topic with your provider. If you are currently in psychotherapy, talk to your therapist about your questions and concerns. As part of counseling, your therapist’s job is to outline all of the various treatment options for you, including whether a medication evaluation could be beneficial. Your therapist may also be able to provide you a referral to a psychiatrist or family medicine provider who could provide such an evaluation. With that said, though, medications alone may not be enough. This brings us back to the start of this article, where we advocated for “skills before pills.” What has been proven to be the most beneficial treatment for anxiety and depression is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. So, if you have started psychiatric medications, it is best to continue on with therapy at the same time. Medications can help alleviate your symptoms, and therapy can help fill your toolbox with skills to keep those symptoms at bay in the long-term. Remember, there is hope. Your anxiety or depression can be treated. You can find relief. View the full article
  2. Maddie thought she liked and loved her fiancé but lately began to question whether she really did. Every time they were together she would start obsessing, “His ears are too big. Our kids are going to have big ears. They’ll resent me. Do I want to obsess about his ears the rest of my life? Maybe I should call the wedding off? But then he is a great guy! What if we end up divorcing because of that? That would be horrible!” When her fiancé would ask, “What’s the matter?” she would dismiss the question as “Nothing.” “Sorry, what were you saying?” Her incessant thoughts brought uncertainty and anxiety. She would also review all the “good” things about him to feel reassured. She would ask her family members for reassurance as well. Everyone would tell her he was indeed a great guy. Anything she did to alleviate her anxiety were the compulsions that kept Maddie stuck in the OCD cycle (trigger -> initial thought -> obsessions -> unpleasant feelings and bodily sensations -> compulsions -> relief -> back to trigger). Her compulsions only brought temporary reprieve. If you struggle with relationship OCD, don’t despair. ACT’s (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) defusion skills can be the first step towards creating flexibility in your thinking. Cognitive defusion is one of ACT’s six processes. When you practice these skills, you are able to recognize that the thoughts coming out of your mind are simply words. When you become fused or stuck with their meaning, you take them literally and anxiety rises. The urge to find respite will then lead you to compulsions. Everyone can get stuck with the content of their thoughts. However, if you are challenged by OCD, your thoughts are stickier and the more you try to control them, the more you end up reinforcing the cycle. The good news is that you can use defusion skills to become an observer of your thoughts. This in turn will help you decrease the obsessions and compulsions because you won’t be fueling them with more thoughts! Notice the Obsessions and Get Unstuck (Defused) Remember, your mind means well, but you know more that it does. If you act on its advice, will it get you closer to who and what matters most in your life? How will you feel if you believe those thoughts? If you take those thoughts seriously, what will your behavior look like? Where will they lead you? When you get stuck in the OCD cycle, notice what your mind is saying. Become an observer of your thoughts and defuse (create a distance) from them. Acknowledge each thought with a defusion phrase as shown below. When you believe the thought or “buy into it,” consider whether believing and acting on it will be in the service of your interests. You can develop a sense of expectancy and curiosity as each thought shows up. Here are a few examples of how to respond to the unhelpful thoughts that get you fused and stuck. Be flexible as you notice the thoughts coming back. Thought: “I don’t like his physical traits!” Noticing: “I’m having the thought that I don’t like his physical traits!” Thought: “If I marry him, I’ll be unhappy!” Am I buying into the thought?: “I guess I’m buying the thought that I would be unhappy if I marry him.” Thought: “His ears are too big.” The Story “There is the Big Ears Story again! I’m not surprised.” Thought: “Just call off the engagement!” Mental appreciation: “Thank you, Mind. You are doing a great job worrying me right now.” When you struggle with relationship OCD, the thoughts provided by your mind may appear to be helpful. If you heed them, most likely you’ll want to do something to decrease your anxiety. You’ve been doing that, and you know that strategy has not been effective. Instead acknowledge what your mind is saying silently, and gently shift back to the present moment. See if you can treat your mind as a separate entity. This will help you recognize how it tries to give you advice. Remember, you are the only one that can choose to believe the thoughts and act on them if they draw you closer to who and what matters most in your life. Don’t forget that OCD will likely shift targets. When Maddie was not obsessing about her fiancé’s physical traits, she would be obsessing about his personality traits. She eventually learned to separate herself from the literal meaning of her thoughts and so can you! Relationship OCD does not have to overwhelm you and affect your relationship. You can learn to be flexible with your thoughts as you practice defusion skills and other principles found in ACT. If you wish to learn more about ACT, see the resources below. Don’t wait for OCD. Start living today because YOU not your OCD thoughts are in charge of your life! Resources Harris, R. (2008). The Happiness Trap: How To Stop Struggling and Start Living. Boston, MA: Trumpeter Books. Hayes, S. C. (2005). Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger. View the full article
  3. Phobiasupportforum

    When OCD and Self-Compassion Meet in the Middle

    OCD is a disorder that affects millions of people and causes a lot of mental, physical and spiritual distress. Because OCD can be debilitating it is important to note that the problem is not the disorder itself, rather, it is the anxiety that comes from the symptoms of the disorder. So when you are compulsively demanding your mind to stop obsessing, this just fuels your OCD symptoms and increases your relationship with the distress A big part of learning to live with OCD is to incorporate self-compassion. Instead of avoiding your anxiety, self-compassion invites you to look at it with understanding and gentle curiosity. This approach allows you to see your pain exactly how it is without self-judgment or self-criticism. Kristin Neff, PhD, who studied the concept of self-compassion for five years, defines self-compassion as, “Recognition of our own suffering… The nurturing quality of self-compassion allows us to flourish, to appreciate the beauty and richness of life, even in hard times.” In her research, Dr. Neff discovered three components of self-compassion necessary to facilitate personal healing: Mindfulness, common humanity and self-kindness. As human beings, we all suffer in some way. It does not mean that we are inadequate or unable to handle life. It simply means in this moment we acknowledge that things are difficult. Difficult does not mean inadequate. It just means difficult. Looking at pain caused by OCD with self-compassion is not instinctual. It takes a conscious effort to notice when your mind is being mean or unkind to you. This can be challenging as our first reaction to any type of discomfort is to ignore it, push it away or pretend we are not feeling it. Dr. Neff states, “We can’t be moved by our own pain if we don’t even acknowledge that it exists in the first place.” This type of behavior is anything but self-compassionate. Writing a simple self-compassion statement introduces a new inner dialogue that is softer, gentler and kinder. A self-compassion statement incorporates all three of the components of self-compassion mentioned above. It can be as simple as, “I recognize I am having a feeling of anxiety right now (Mindfulness). This is a normal feeling for people who struggle with OCD like I do (common humanity). I don’t like this feeling; however, I am willing to be kind to myself as I notice it (self-kindness).” How could this change the way you feel about your experience in a moment of discomfort? This sure sounds better than, “Man, I hate that I can’t handle my OCD… I can’t handle anything.” Do you hear the difference? Do you feel the difference? Giving yourself permission to acknowledge the pain you are feeling softens that old negative inner-dialogue with your OCD without trying to fix it or get rid of it. While co-facilitating an OCD group I invited each participant to write their own self-compassion statement incorporating the three components of self-compassion. It was interesting to hear the various ways in which participants expressed self-compassion for their pain. With permission, below is an example of a self-compassion statement from one of the participants: “I breathe in gratitude for my life and my abilities. I breathe out love for myself and all men and women. In between my breaths, I notice the OCD thoughts and all the burden-feelings they bring. In between my breaths, I grant myself permission to grieve, to cry, and to feel the great fear. In between my breaths, I grant myself freedom, once more, to experience joy and creativity. I breathe in gratitude for my numerous blessings. I breathe out love for myself and all men and women. I breathe in gratitude. I breathe out love. I breathe the wind of the Holy Spirit.” As participants listened intently to the above self-compassion statement, there was a tender feeling in the room. In that moment, they were joined in their pain through feelings of self-compassion. As sufferers themselves, they understand the courage it takes to live with OCD and each had witnessed what it sounds like when OCD and self-compassion meet in the middle. Self-compassion can change the way you interact with painful experiences caused by OCD. It truly is the key ingredient to one’s personal healing. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed by OCD, I invite you to write your own self-compassion statement using all three components: Mindfulness, common humanity and self-kindness. As you recite it daily you will notice how your experience with pain, anxiety and discomfort changes. And you will be able to approach OCD with self-compassion. View the full article
  4. Phobiasupportforum

    Podcast: Joker Movie and Mental Illness

    Did the movie Joker portray mental illness correctly and does it matter? We passionately go over the movie Joker from the lense of people living with mental illness and discuss whether or not there are implications of making a movie like this. Does it help us or hurt us? What if it does both? Listen in to hear Gabe’s freakishly good recollection of scenes from the movie as Jackie struggles to separate entertainment from reality. Spoiler Alert: You don’t need to see Joker to appreciate this conversation but we do go over the plot and reveal some important scenes from the movie. (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 ‘Joker Movie and Mental Illness’ 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. Here are your hosts, Gabe and Jackie. Jackie: Welcome to Not Crazy. I’m here with my co-host, Gabe Howard, who is on a personal mission to eradicate pumpkin spice, anything from the world. He also lives with bipolar. Gabe: And I’m, of course, here with Jackie Zimmerman, who is on a personal mission to drink and eat all of the pumpkin spice latte flavored, god awful garbage she can find. And I think that that contributes to her depression. Jackie: I think not. But OK, agree to disagree. Whatever. Gabe: I mean, denying it is the kind of thing that a millennial would do when being called out about pumpkin spice. Anything you will defend pumpkin spice and UGG boots until you die. Jackie: Oh, I don’t even own UGG boots. Thank you very much. Gabe: They have ugh in the title. How did they become popular? Jackie: It’s fair. Ugggh. Gabe: We saw Joker. Jackie: We did. We saw it separately, but we did see it. I saw it on Saturday and immediately sent you a text that said, “have you seen this”? Because we need to talk about it. Gabe: And I wrote you back and said, “I’m going to see it on Sunday. Why?” And then you didn’t answer any text for 24 hours. And I was like, OK, this is gonna be good because… So first off, you know, spoilers, content, warning, we’re going to talk about Joker. It is a rated R film. There is violence in the movie. And of course, there are spoilers. So it’s gonna get real. Jackie: We will refrain, however, from talking about the Batman aspect of the movie and just stick to the mental health issues within the movie. Gabe: I mean, that is fair, we’re not a pop culture show, we’re a mental health show. Jackie: Oh, but if we were, I’d be so good at it. Gabe: I just have so much to say about the movie as a huge Batman fan. But let’s start on the mental illness aspect. They really dove hard into Joker being severely mentally ill. We weren’t, what, 15 minutes into the movie when he was sitting in a social workers office being prescribed seven medications, talking about the medications, talking about voices in his head and talking about being severely mentally ill. It wasn’t subtle. It was right there. Jackie: Gabe, for those of us who are not uber nerds about this stuff, does the Joker origin story include any of this mental health? Or is this just purely for this purpose of this movie they added in the mental health aspect? Like because Joker isn’t historically a mentally ill person. Right? Gabe: We don’t know. Jackie: Ok. Gabe: The Joker has no origin story. I think that you would be hard pressed to find a reasonable person that wouldn’t describe the Joker as a maniac or maniacal. And of course, every time Batman catches him in the comics, he goes to Arkham Asylum, which is a mental hospital. So you’d be hard pressed to say that the Joker doesn’t have strong origins living with mental illness when he goes to a hospital for the criminally insane. Jackie: Ok. That is helpful. Gabe: Also, he kills people and laughs about it for sport. That’s kind of crazy. Jackie: Is it, though? So you just said that and a lot of people left that movie thinking, hey, guess what? Mentally ill people perform acts of violence and laugh about it because they’re crazy. Is that true? Gabe: It is true. It’s just not common. It’s like asking the question, do wives kill their husbands? What’s the honest answer to that question? Jackie: I mean, some do. Gabe: Exactly. Exactly. It is possible it has happened, but it’s extraordinarily rare. Right? The majority of wives are not killing their husbands. Jackie: So you’re saying that the majority of mentally ill people never rise to this level of violence? Gabe: Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying, and in fact, the majority of mentally ill people will never do anything violent, especially, you know, murderous Joker level violence. The fact remains that some people with mental illness will be violent. Jackie: Some people with mental illness will be tall. Some people with mental illness will have red hair. Oh, I’m talking about you here. But yes, I mean, any group of people, any… Gabe: Yes, violence is well-represented across everything, literally everything. We have religious figures that are violent. We have teachers who are violent. We have a podcast co-hosts who are violent. And on and on and on. There is no predictor of violence except, of course, for past violence. Jackie: The takeaway, though, is that, like you said, it’s not an all or nothing thing. It’s yes. Some people with mental illness may be violent, but not all of them. And I feel like we have to do a shout out to Michelle here with her “Mentally Ill and I Don’t Kill” shirts, because that’s what I kept thinking in this movie. I couldn’t separate the movie from reality. This feels very timely, but not in a great way that helps the cause of mental illness advocates where it basically just confirmed what society is saying right now. Oh, yeah, all those crazies, they’re gonna go kill people. Gabe: But remember, we have to respect the movie, right? You can’t pick and choose what part of the pop culture bullshit is factual and what Jackie: Right. Gabe: Parts of the pop culture bullshit is fake. What happened in the first half of the movie before Joker went, pardon the pun, insane. Jackie: My big takeaway was he lost his access to treatment, therapy, medication, and had a lot of life changing transitions, like he lost his job. Basically, his life crumbled as he knew it. Gabe: Right. Massive budget cuts, massive budget cuts. In the beginning, we saw him with a social worker, with a job, with medication, with societal aids and supports. And before anything went even remotely wrong, the government came in and cut everything. Lost his social worker, lost his medication. He lost his job. He lost social supports. Everything started immediately crumbling for this man. And I’d like to point out, and this is this is very, very important. Through absolutely no fault of his own. It showed him showing up for every appointment on time. It showed him doing the homework that the social worker prescribed. It showed him filling the prescriptions, taking the medication, going to work. Being honest at work. He did everything right. And society shit on him. Jackie: That’s so true, and I didn’t even put those pieces together, at least not the complete way that you just did. Right? I saw him going to therapy. I saw him talking about getting his meds. And he had this journal that she asked him for. So you’re right. He was doing everything right. And it all ended by no fault of his own. You’re right. I don’t know. I guess when you look at it that way, are you saying that if all these things get removed from people with mental illness, they’re all going to turn out the same way Joker did? If we all lose access to our therapy and medication? Gabe: Of course not. Obviously, no. Just like I am not saying that every single soldier will develop post-traumatic stress disorder from being in a war, but some do, and we can’t ignore this possibility. The reality is, is that the majority of people in Joker’s situation, they won’t become violent. They’ll become homeless. They will die in the elements. They won’t be able to get help. They’ll be arrested. They’ll end up in prison. Every bad thing that can happen will befall them and nobody else. Which is why nobody cares about them, because we just walk past homeless people or people in prison and we decide it’s their fault. But again, we can only use the movie. Remember that the movie is our backdrop. This isn’t America. This is the America in the movie. Jackie: But can you really separate them? If we look at just the movie, I kept talking to Adam afterwards. I was, you know, talking very aggressively with my hands after we left because I had so many feelings where if you look at the movie, just the movie, the movie is a good movie, right? I mean, Joaquin Phoenix is stellar. The cast is great. Even the plot line is good. But I can’t look at this movie and not look at it as a commentary for what’s happening now. So I’m really struggling with this. I know that we should say this is just a movie. I know this is a movie. I know that it’s just for entertainment purposes. But I’m still really having a hard time separating it from what’s happening in the world right now. Like I said, a little bit of the too soon. Is this the right time for this movie? Is the right time for this story? Because it feels like all it’s going to do is just escalate the issues that we’re currently seeing. And we’re already seeing some of that in the media of people talking about the implications of this. But nobody’s actually talking about what this means for people who are mentally ill and how the rest of the world perceives them. Gabe: Speaking as somebody who lives with bipolar disorder, who has had psychosis, who has been in a psychiatric hospital. There are parts of this that hits close to home for me. Right? I know that the reason that I am doing so well is because my access to care never got cut off. I also know that I’m doing so well because my family doesn’t suffer from serious mental illness. Remember in the movie, his mother was also seriously mentally ill and he was her primary caregiver because she was elderly and they lived in poverty and he was actively hallucinating and nobody seemed to notice or care that this was going on. His escalation was not immediate. His escalation was slow. And I think that some people might listen to this and think, man, Gabe, you really sound like you’re saying that this is reasonable. I’m not. I’m not saying that it’s reasonable. I’m saying that it’s not unexpected. It’s not so far outside of the norm that we shouldn’t be afraid that this wouldn’t happen just because something is incredibly uncommon, like, oh, I don’t know, murder. Murder is incredibly uncommon. Yet everybody lives in constant fear that it will happen. Well, a person with mental illness not getting resources and ending up violent is incredibly uncommon, but it’s not unexpected. It is one of the potential outcomes of denying basic human dignity, resources and care to people living with mental illness. So if we are looking at it as social commentary, why is that not the social commentary? That this city just abandoned its most vulnerable members? Jackie: Well, the best part about that is Michigan is literally doing that right now. They are removing funds from therapists and they’re not allowing certain people to give diagnosis and medications anymore. This is happening. This is relevant right now. And I wonder in this movie, do you think that a turning point was when his coworker gave him that gun? Right? If we have this whole story and he doesn’t have that gun, does he go the route of what we’re saying, where basically he’ll probably end up homeless at some point because he’s already lost his job. His mother, who we said also has mental illness, is not contributing financially to the household. So at some point, without that gun, which becomes the catalyst for literally the entire movie, does he just become another statistic of people who are mentally ill, who then become homeless? Gabe: We’ll be right back after this message from our sponsor. 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. Jackie: We’re back talking about mental illness and how the movie Joker has portrayed it. Gabe: I am a Star Trek fan. Jackie: I am not. Gabe: Well, I am. And there is a scene. And, you know, honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, I don’t remember if it’s Captain Kirk or Captain Picard, but one of them has this ability to go back in time and change something that they regret. And they do. And of course, invariably that’s the one thing that led them to greatness and made them the great captain that they ended up becoming. I like stories like this because I think that it does illustrate that there are small moments that make us who we are. I don’t know if this guy would have found violence in some other way, but I do know that again, in the context of the movie, he got an unregistered, illegal firearm. It was given to him by somebody that encouraged him to use it in a not safe manner without any training. And then he was allowed to walk around with this thing unchecked, and nobody seemed to notice it until such time that he was attacked through no fault of his own, used it as self-defense. And that made him feel powerful. Gabe: It made him feel powerful. And speaking purely as somebody who has felt powerless and lost and scared, I am going to do anything to take that power back. So I got to wonder, if Gabe Howard all the way back when he was his sickest would have been handed a gun, could this have happened to me? I really, really want to say that absolutely not. Unequivocally, no. But I lived in a very suburban world. I had people looking out for me. And listen, nobody handed me something dangerous. And I don’t want this to turn into some gun control debate. We are not criticizing guns in any way. I feel the need to say that because I want people to focus on the point of people who are desperate and seriously mentally ill and hallucinating should not have firearms. Jackie: No, and the idea of this character we’re talking about Joker here, is it was part of the perfect storm. Right? The loss of funding, the less medication, the loss of his job, plus the addition of being given this weapon created the perfect storm, which resulted in an incredibly violent person doing terrible things in his city. Gabe: Another question that we have to ask and again, I know it’s Joker and you know, it’s fascinating that we have created potential social commentary out of what is a comic book movie. This is not a documentary. This isn’t even real life. The movie takes place in a world where eventually a man dresses up like a bat and chases people. So we have to keep this in mind. This isn’t reality, but there is some data to mine here. And I can’t help but wonder if some of the people with mental illness who have become violent had similar experiences. The poverty, the lack of resources. The social worker said the very last time that she saw her patients, “Nobody cares about you. Nobody cares about me either. Society doesn’t care about people like us.” And that was a big moment for me because I sat there in the audience as Gabe Howard, a person living with mental illness and thought, yes, that is accurate. That is 100 percent true. Society does not care about people like me. Jackie: Are you taking notes when you were watching this because your recollection of what happened in this movie is so good? That was really like poignant when it happened because I remember her saying that and thinking, oh, shit, like, that’s that’s real. That’s real in this movie. That’s real in real life. But I just want to.. Props to your memory. Gabe: But I remember things that really give me an emotional response. Jackie: Like comic book movies? Gabe: Like comic book movies. Yeah. Listen, I am a 12 year old boy at heart and comic book movies are absolute escapism for me. And let’s touch on that for just like a really tiny nanosecond. I go to these movies because I need a break. I need a break from my brain. I need a break from the harshness of life. I need a break from work. And I need a break from the same thing that everybody else needs a break from, just Jackie: But did this movie do that for you? Gabe: Not even remotely. Jackie: I wouldn’t think so. Gabe: All I could think of was, wow. Yeah. Yeah. Look, I don’t want to give away anything in the movie. There’s obvious exaggerations in this movie. There are obvious things that that Joker was able to do that you could just not pull off in real life. You know, there was a couple of parts where I was like, please, they’d catch this guy in a nanosecond. What do you mean the police can’t catch him? Obviously, that can’t happen. Jackie: I agree with you. After the first act of violence, after that train scene, he would have totally been caught after that. Gabe: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. That the movie realistically should have ended there and not have been able to progress. But it did progress. And again, we have to use the movie. Apparently, Gotham police are unable to… Jackie: They’re the worst. Gabe: They really are the worst. Gabe: They even, they suspected him almost immediately. But he was still able to go on this this impressive crime spree all the way through the end of the movie without anybody stopping him or following him or doing anything about it. And he used the same gun the entire time. Like, just, man, he hung on to that thing. Jackie: We’re talking about the same police force that relies on a masked crusader when they’re in, you know, they put a light in the sky and they go, hey, help us because we suck at our job. So I don’t think we can really talk about the efficacy of the Gotham Police Department in terms of how good they are at their jobs. Gabe: Yet I think it’s important just to consider that this is a nuanced conversation, not the Joker movie violence, mental illness. What makes people go bad? And one of the reasons that I’m so against the message that people with mental illness are never violent is because if you bury your head in the sand and pretend that people with mental illness are never violent, you’re never going to be able to prevent it. You’re never going to be able to give people the care and the resources and the time that they need to make sure that this doesn’t happen. And when somebody with a mental illness has a violent outcome, there are so many so many lives ruined. The person who is mentally ill, their life is ruined. Their victim, obviously, obviously, the victim’s family, the family of the person with mental illness. Society that has to watch this. We can’t just turn a blind eye and pretend that it never happens just because it is incredibly rare. In the case of the movie Joker, clearly, obviously mentally ill and it.. he didn’t have the resources and they cut his resources and no, nobody cared. Nobody cared. Jackie: Fuck. This is so sad. Just the movie itself, if you look at the character of Joker, right, you remove who he is at the end, right. And you look at the buildup to his whole life of how he’s been, who he is, who he’s become. You get a little bit of this history, but not a lot of it. But he was adopted. He grew up in the system. His mother, who we know is mentally ill, she had an abusive boyfriend. You look at his whole life story and then you top it off as an adult, all these things, these terrible things happen to him as an adult. It is a devastating life that he has lived. And if you make him a real person, which I know we’re not doing, but if we look at the outcome, like we said, of real people in the real world, the people who become homeless when they’ve had some of these similar things happen to them, it is devastating. It’s so sad how we treat these people, how we don’t care about them, how we cut their funding and then just go. Sucks to be you. Whatever. I’m having a hard time articulating how devastating it is. Thinking about this because it is a movie. But what happened to him? His life is not a thing that’s never happened. People have had the same upbringing as he has. Gabe: And I think that we all get hung up on the idea that it was so incredibly preventable. Jackie: Yeah. Gabe: I know we don’t need to keep saying that it’s a movie, but in the movie, the Joker’s crimes led to massive loss of life, literal riots in the street. I mean, just pandemonium over an entire city. And in the big end, the scene when all of the city was just literally on fire at this point, all I could think of is, wow, that looks a lot more expensive than probably what the social services budget was. Wow. That was a, that was a, that was a good decision there. Yeah. Yeah. Mass savings. Jackie: All I could think when I saw that scene was we are not above this right now. Again, can’t separate it from real life because that’s who I am as a person, even though I’ve tried. I’m watching this person who’s committed these atrocious crimes being celebrated by lots of other people who get to even wear masks to hide who they are to the rest of the world to also commit atrocious crimes. And they’re all having the time of their lives and I’m just watching this going, again, a little too close to home. I don’t know. Seems like it could happen tomorrow. Basically. Gabe: Obviously, I don’t want to fundraise or advocate on the idea that if you don’t give people with mental illness, resources and money, we will burn the country down. That just sounds so awful and I don’t want that to be our message. But I have to tell you the message of please stop abusing the vulnerable and the mentally ill and the sick because this is atrocious and we are supposed to be better than this isn’t working. That message is not working. I don’t want to use this other message. I don’t like this other message. I don’t want people to be fearful of me. I want to be able to get a job. And I don’t want people to wonder when I’m going to snap and come in and shoot the place up or blow it up or set it on fire or, you know, paint my face with makeup. I don’t know. But it’s just so sad. The richest country on the planet, we’re supposed to be a Christian nation. We’re supposed to love our neighbors and care for one another. But in the meantime, we’re literally cutting services to sick, desperate, impoverished, vulnerable people every single day. More and more people are being stored, they’re being stored in prisons and state hospitals and jails and in and out of drop-in centers. And nobody cares. Nobody cares. This movie probably does show the worst-case scenario. But we’re on the path. Jackie: Do you think that movies like this are hurting the cause? Or do you think that the cause is already fucked so the movie doesn’t change anything? Gabe: Realistically, it’s absolutely hurting the cause. It’s making people with mental illness look violent and problematic and horrific. I like this movie, though, because it does actually show that there was no safety net. It showed that he was med compliant until they stopped giving him his meds. I like that I’ve seen all over social media for the last couple of weeks the note that Joker wrote in his notebook, which I’m paraphrasing now, which it said the problem with being mentally ill is everybody expects you to behave as if you aren’t. And that really spoke to me, spoke to me a lot. I’m sorry, it came from a psycho villain, but it’s true. The problem with being mentally ill is people expect you to behave as if you aren’t. And that’s impossible, especially without resources. But yeah, I think that people are simple. And I think that the simple message that people are going to carry is see, we told you people with mental illness were violent. This proves it. Even though it’s a frickin’ Batman movie. Come on. Jackie: Well, this is why I think we can’t separate the movie from the world we live in right now. Yes, it’s entertainment. Sure. Anything goes in movies. But with the current climate around mental illness, around gun violence, around mentally ill people being violent, I just don’t think that we can separate them. Gabe: Society probably can’t. We do get a lot of our mental health, knowledge and information and education from pop culture, which is stupid, and I really wish everybody would stop it. But to your point, Jackie, that is where people are learning it. So I guess we need filmmakers to make more accurate portrayals of mental illness. And I’m having a hard time, a really hard time defending the fact that the Joker isn’t accurate. I think it’s pretty accurate. Jackie: I know because what happened to him at the end was not accurate, but the lead up his whole life. You know that all the things we’ve reiterated 500 times already. It is accurate. So did the filmmakers do a good job? Yes. Did they turn it into a movie for entertainment purposes? Yes. So what’s good and what’s bad? Did it do just as much good as it did bad? Gabe: That’s really hard to say, and I don’t know, it’s gotten people talking about it. I have seen a lot of memes on Facebook, a lot of conversations on social media. People have asked me about it. So in this way that I think it’s good. But, you know, for every person that asks an intelligent question, that wants an intelligent answer, there’s 100 people in a mob that are just like, see, we told you so. There was a fictional movie in my theater and we’ve now decided it’s real. And these are the things that, you know, help spread misogyny and racism and rape culture and toxic masculinity and make people not understand one another. There’s so much hatred and those flames are fanned, unfortunately, with fictional portrayals. Jackie: It goes back to whatever we remember becomes the truth. So everybody remembers that. So that becomes what happened in real life. And I think that a lot of these fictional portrayals of people, whether they’re real people or they’re representing a class of people or a type of person, we remember these tropes. Like they’re stereotypes, and whether they’re there for a reason or not, whatever. We remember that people are going to remember Joker as a mentally ill character. And if they don’t know anybody in their life to help them erase that version of the truth or they don’t do any research or they don’t pay attention. That’s what they’re going to remember. Gabe: I hope they remember that the Joker was a mentally ill person who was cut off from society, denied resources and abused by all the people around him before he snapped because that, that would be progress. Jackie: Gabe, I feel like that’s a great place to wrap this up. Thank you, everyone, for listening to Not Crazy. I want to remind you that we do funny stuff at the end of the episode. So listen, all the way through to the end while you’re doing that, maybe like us on social media, interact with us, share this with your friends, send us some emails at show@PsychCentral.com. See you next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to Not Crazy from Psych Central. For free mental health resources and online support groups, visit PsychCentral.com. Not Crazy’s official website is PsychCentral.com/NotCrazy. To work with Gabe, go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Jackie, go to JackieZimmerman.co. Not Crazy travels well. Have Gabe and Jackie record an episode live at your next event. E-mail show@psychcentral.com for details. View the full article
  5. By the time you read this blog, two or three people will have taken their lives. In fact, every 40 seconds someone completes suicide; Close to 800,000 die by suicide every year. According to the World Health Organization, there are more deaths from suicide than from war and homicide together. Suicide is the second leading cause of death between people ages 15 to 29. These statistics don’t surprise me since I’ve lost two family members and several friends to suicide, and about one third of the people I know have lost a loved one to suicide. I am familiar with the desperation and rationale that leads someone to this decision, as I have experienced weeks, months, even years teetering on the edge of life, not sure whether or not to stick around. That’s why today I’m joining health advocates on World Mental Health Day 2019 to raise awareness of the prevalence of suicide around the world and to do my small part in trying to prevent it. Following is a letter I wrote a year ago when I was battling strong suicidal thoughts. My hope is that it will encourage someone in cyberspace to keep breathing and to delay the decision to end your life, if only by an hour … and then another hour. Having recently passed through the valley of darkness, I can say with confidence that all things do pass, and I thank God that I didn’t let desperation and hopelessness determine that decision for me. I kept on going five minutes at a time — and did the next thing in front of me — even if that was simply existing, curled up in a ball in my bed. I stayed alive and I am glad I did. Letter to a Suicidal Person Dear Suicidal Person, I write this in the midst of suicidal thoughts myself. I’ve been battling them off and on over the last six months. In the recent past, I haven’t publicized my struggle because I didn’t want those around me to think I was unstable, incompetent, or freakish. I feared the judgement of others who have never experienced these kinds of thoughts. However, I have already lost two family members to suicide. I don’t want to lose anymore. And I want to stay alive myself. By describing them out loud they lose their power over me. Maybe my words will help you feel less alone or ashamed. Tell Someone I know you feel the only way out of your pain is to stop your pulse. That, unfortunately, is a fantasy. Swallowing the pills or firing the handgun will only result in more pain. It is my theory that you will have to work out the gunk you’re running from in some alien world without a body. And then, of course, there’s the pain that you would leave your loved ones, especially your children. The only real solution, I have found, is to tell someone. Preferably your physician or therapist. Maybe your partner or a friend who won’t judge you. Consider calling a suicide hotline or checking yourself into the hospital. Trained volunteers, such as those at The Samaritans, provide an invaluable service to severely depressed people who call or email them in desperation. Talking about suicidal thoughts saves lives. I know this. Because people realize that other good, grateful, Zen-like people experience them, too. The thoughts that try to convince you to leave this world simply come with severe depression. They are mere symptoms, like hiccups, of a brain condition or fragile chemistry that feels at times too painful to endure. Just as chills, nausea, and fatigue are symptoms of the flu, the chronic ruminations demanding a fast exit from here are symptoms of acute depression and anxiety. They mean you are sick rather than “bad.” They are not an indictment of your character. Do the Thing in Front of You I realize your suicidal thoughts may have been with you a long time and you can’t live in the hospital psych ward indefinitely. Keep on talking. Keep on being real. Try your best to learn how to become your own trained professional and tease apart your thoughts until you arrive at the truth that will keep you safe from harming yourself. Sometimes it’s best to stop thinking and simply do the thing that is in front of you — whether that means doing the dishes or calling a friend — and delay the decision to end your life by five minutes at a time, then 10 minutes, then 15 minutes. If the only thing you can do is keel over and cry, then do that, and know that you are doing the most important thing in the world in this very moment: staying alive. Reduce Your Pain Don’t trust the vision you have right now. It is a distorted picture formed in desperation and from an imbalance of pain. Martha Ainsworth of metanoia.org explained that suicidal thoughts are an imbalance of pain versus coping resources. The answer rests in finding a way to reduce your pain and increasing your coping resources. “People often turn to suicide because they are seeking relief from pain,” she explains. “Remember that relief is a feeling. And you have to be alive to feel it. You will not feel the relief you so desperately seek if you are dead.” Making that distinction has saved my life on countless occasions. I realized that I didn’t want to die. I simply wanted a reprieve from my pain. I trusted that the relief would eventually come because all of our feelings and thoughts — and especially our most excruciating pain — are impermanent. And relief did come. All kinds of feelings — positive and negative — can’t last forever because nothing does. So taking your life is a permanent action for a temporary problem. You are in the valley of darkness and will soon see the light. Your vision will be restored and you will experience hope again. You can trust me on this because I’ve been where you are many times and have always come out the other side stronger and restored. Stay Alive The most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life is to resist taking my life in the midst of severe, intense, chronic suicidal thoughts. I try to remind myself every now and then that no matter what I do from here on out, I am already a success because I am alive. I somehow managed to resist the incredibly convincing messages of my brain — the forceful urges of my psyche — to make an exit out of this world. I once compared not taking your life in the midst of intense suicidal thoughts to not sneezing when you have an urge. People who have battled intense compulsions can relate to this. Everything inside of you thinks that disappearing from this world is the only way that the pain will subside, but that is a lie. Your only job today is to stay alive. Keep breathing, one moment at a time. You will eventually see that the painful thoughts, as convincing as they are, are a season and won’t last forever. You’re not alone. I want you to know that you’re in the company of very competent and likable people. This isn’t about you being pathetic or not holding it together. Certain brain circuits are just over-activated from stress or grief or some other reason and your neurons are firing off nasty text messages to the wrong communication centers. Your illness is flaring up much like a case of psoriatic arthritis under stress. Be gentle with yourself. This is not your fault. Please tell someone. Know it will pass. And keep breathing. Sincerely, Therese View the full article
  6. Are you always in control and always perfectly put together? Are you professionally successful, a great friend, and always showing a happy face to the world? But what about on the inside? Is there something in the background or in the past that you don’t talk about? Do you feel disconnected, like no one knows the “real” you? Deep down do you just know something is wrong? Well, you might have “perfectly hidden depression.” Today Gabe speaks with Dr. Margaret Rutherford who has done extensive work on the relationship between perfectionism and depression. Dr. Rutherford tells us how childhood trauma can lead to the development of coping mechanisms that don’t serve us as adults and how those behaviors might be masking depression. Then she shares how to challenge those beliefs and show ourselves the same compassion we would give to anyone else. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Hidden Depression’ Podcast Episode Dr. Margaret Rutherford, a clinical psychologist, has practiced for twenty-six years in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Earning the 2009 Arkansas Private Practitioner of the Year award for her volunteer work at a local free health clinic, she began blogging and podcasting in 2012 to destigmatize mental illness and educate the public about therapy and treatment. With a compassionate and common-sense style, her work can be found at https://DrMargaretRutherford.com, as well as HuffPost, Psych Central, Psychology Today, The Mighty, the Gottman Blog and others. She hosts a weekly podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. And her new book, Perfectly Hidden Depression: How to Break Free from the Perfectionism that Masks Your Depression, will be published by New Harbinger in November 2019. 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 Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Hidden Depression’ 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: Welcome to the Psych Central Podcast, where each episode features guest experts discussing psychology and mental health in everyday plain language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard. Gabe Howard: Welcome, everyone, to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Podcast. Calling in to the show today we have Dr. Margaret Rutherford, a clinical psychologist who has practiced for 26 years in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She’s the author of a new book, Perfectly Hidden Depression: How to Break Free from the Perfectionism that Masks Your Depression. Margaret, welcome to the show. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Thank you very much. I’m more than delighted to be here. This is a subject I’ve been passionate about for over 5 years, so any time I get to talk about it, I’m delighted. Gabe Howard: Well, that’s wonderful. Now you have been a therapist, as we established, for well over twenty five years. How did you come up with the term perfectly hidden depression and why do you decide to write a book about it? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Well, I actually was sitting down to write a blog post one day. I had been blogging for, I don’t know, a couple of years by that. And I thought about several people that I had seen and I just sort of thought well, they are perfectly hidden. They don’t talk about their depression, they’re not open about their depression. But if I say, gosh, could you be aware that there’s something in the background that you’ll tell me a bad story or a painful story and there’s a smile on your face, but you’re not crying about it. So there was this problem between someone talking about something traumatic and yet not having any kind of painful emotion that was connected with it. Gabe Howard: I know that a lot of times people think that depression is supposed to look a certain way. Whenever we see pictures of depression, it’s always somebody with their hands on their head or they are crying or dark storm clouds. But that’s not really the reality. There’s a lot of people who suffer from depression that upon visual inspection look perfectly fine. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Yes. And you know, in the literature that’s often called high-functioning depression or smiling depression. These are people who really know that they are depressed, that they have even the classic symptoms of depression, like it’s hard to get out of bed or they’re not as enjoying as many activities that they had in the past or something like that, or they even know when they get home from the office, here comes this negative energy or with this tendency to want to withdraw. Perfectly hidden depressed people can look like that. They can be aware on one level that they are depressed. The difference is there’s also a huge group of them that really don’t actually know they’re depressed. They have been hiding for so long. They have been pushing away trauma or painful emotions. Maybe they weren’t even allowed to talk about pain when they were children. There are all kinds of situations that can foster a perfectly hidden depression. And so this process is so automatic that they’re not really sure anymore. They know maybe their gut is telling them something’s wrong with this little tiny voice inside of them says, you know, this isn’t right. You should be happier. You should be actually more fulfilled. But they try not to listen that voice, because, of course, their major focus is on looking like they have the perfect looking life. Gabe Howard: I know that when I was depressed, I thought that it was some sort of moral failing and, you know, my parents would say things to me like, well, what do you have to be upset about? Why? Why aren’t you happy? You have more than others. You know, I grew up in the era where we heard about, you know, starving children in other countries all the time when we didn’t want to eat dinner. So there was just always this comparison. And that made me, as a young adult, believe, well, yeah, since I don’t have a reason to be depressed, I must not be depressed. Is that what you’re trying to highlight and discuss with, you know, your work, your research, and in your book? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: That’s certainly one of the traits. There are 10 commonly shared traits of perfectly hidden depression, Gabe. And one of them is an emphasis on counting your blessings to the point where you don’t even see that some blessings have vulnerabilities or problems attached to them. For example, I have a successful practice in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I’m very proud of that. I’ve worked hard for that. I’m very honored by that. But sometimes I get tired and we all have… Maybe you’re a great beauty or you’re wealthy and you wonder, are people attracted to me because I’m beautiful or because I’m wealthy? Let’s say someone has four children and they love having a big family. But then when it comes down to carting children to four different things or or having four different sets of homework or just buying clothes for four kids. There are some hardships that come along with blessings. And when you are trying to, well, what you said you were told as a child you don’t have anything to complain about. Then you were told, don’t talk about vulnerability, don’t talk about pain. It’s unseemly. You’re not being grateful. And I think that that sets up this dynamic where you shame yourself for not being grateful enough. Perfectly hidden depressed people, and even perfectionists in general, that perfectionism is often fueled by shame. Where you do you have to do your very best, because if you don’t, there are all kinds of shameful consequences for that. And you are completely self-critical and not counting their blessings is one of those criticisms. Gabe Howard: Has research demonstrated a relationship between perfectionism and depression? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Yes, perfectionism actually started being written about, I don’t want to go into too much history, but back in the 1930s. It began getting some attention as a psychological problem. And there are some researchers now that are actually finding some correlation and a strong correlation between perfectionism and suicide. When I think about some of my own patients thinking, OK, what are the threads that might define or identify these people? What are the things that they spend a lot of time thinking about or doing? And I came up with 10 of them. Some I’ve already mentioned like being highly perfectionistic with a lot of shame, having an excessive sense of responsibility. These are people who have their hands up in the air all the time. They stay in their head. They tend to be very rational people. They detach from pain by being analytical. They worry a lot and they need a lot of control over themselves and their environment. They can easily focus on tasks because what they do is how they feel valuable. This is the kind of person that if they go to a party and they’re not given a role to do, they’re very uncomfortable. They really don’t know. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: So they’ll start picking up plates. They’ll assign themselves some role because that’s where they’re most comfortable. Again, I’ve said this already. They don’t allow people into their own inner world, but they really sincerely focus on the well-being of others. They mean it’s not made up. It’s not fake. They discount personal hurt or sorrow. And they have hardly any self-compassion. They believe strongly in counting your blessings. We all often talk about that. They actually may enjoy success professionally, in fact, but they don’t know how to be emotionally intimate in their relationships. So their relationships are often very troubled. And the last one is something a little different. A lot of times these folks will show up in your office or just in life with a panic disorder or an eating disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder or an addiction. And when you think about that, the thread of all those disorders is the fact that they’re all about control. So they may have some accompanying diagnostically accurate mental health issues. And those are important to address. But the important fact about them for me, with perfectly hidden depression is the fact that those diagnoses reflect a problem with control. Gabe Howard: Is there a way that a person can recognize this in themselves, if I’m somebody listening and I’m listening to what you said, or are there some cues or questions that I can ask myself so that I know if I’m falling under this? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: That’s a great question, Gabe. You know, one of the people said to me, in fact, many people said to me, “When I saw the term perfectly hidden depression, I knew you had figured something out about me. Yes, I’m perfect looking. But yes, I have known something was wrong for a long time. And I am lonely and I’m despairing. No one knows me. And I have these thoughts of hurting myself that I don’t share with anybody.” I mean, I think you could recognize yourself in those 10 commonly shared traits. Probably the only one I hope that got confusing a little bit was the one talking about the other diagnoses that could accompany it. But I think even if you’re one of that huge group that I talked about a few minutes ago, that really this has become so automatic or unconscious that they don’t quite realize what they’re doing. They would never tell you that they were, depressed, however. What the people I interviewed told me is what they are very clear about is that they’re getting lonelier and lonelier. It’s getting harder and harder to maintain that mask. You’re feeling more and more pressured at work or at church or wherever you put your energies. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Because once you accomplish something, you have this sense of now that’s my “I have to top that.” And then the next one is I have to top that and I have to top that. The pressure is incredible. We know on a gut level and they know on a gut level if it’s them or you know what, if it’s you that something is amiss. And when you go back to your childhood and you think, how could I have learned this? You figure out, well, I was screamed at because I was told I would be no good. And so I decided to look perfect all the time or I took care of everybody in my family because my dad was an alcoholic and I never got to talk about anything bad for me. So, you know, guess what? I’m living my life as an adult that way. Or you were the star of your family where your mother or your dad or both said, “Gosh, you’re so talented. We don’t have to worry about you. You are great. You’re so successful.” And so you took it on like, oh, this is the way I get attention. I have to be this in order to be loved. Gabe Howard: And these are examples of all the things that causes somebody to want to look perfect or appear perfect or be perfect? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Yes, exactly. There are several different causes. There are many roads to Rome, do you say? There are many ways to or paths that lead you to creating this: sexual abuse, neglect, just bad parenting and especially growing up in families where if you were crying or sad or angry or just wanted to voice your own opinion, that was not allowed. You adopted this drive, this strategy, for lack of a better word. I think it’s a good word, in fact, this strategy, to I just can’t let anybody in to my own vulnerabilities. It’s not allowed. I’m shamed for it. So then you shame yourself for it. Many of us have a childhood strategy that we came up with given the family we were born into. And that strategy helped us survive that family. Maybe you were smothered and you learned, you know, I’ve got to sometimes be more independent because I will get smothered if I don’t. We all have different ways we handled our parents’ vulnerabilities. What happens as an adult is often that strategy is no longer working. But we’re still using it. And so a perfectionist may have learned in their childhoods that they needed to create a perfect looking life in order to handle whatever was going on in the family. But then you come into adult life and looking perfect is something you’re still doing, but it’s gradually going to erode and sabotage your own joy and fulfillment in life. Gabe Howard: We’ll be right back after this message from our sponsor. 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 Howard: And we’re back with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. So what can somebody do if they identify with perfectly hidden depression? Is there an end? Can they get better? What’s the solution? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: You know, I thought this book was… I was going to describe something. And I sent my book proposal in to all the publishing houses and that’s what it was. New Harbinger got back to me and said, no, no, no, no, no. If you want to describe it, fine, you need to do that. But you also need a treatment strategy. Gabe Howard: Wow. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: And so. Oh, goodness. And so what I did was I came up with a model that I use with almost every patient. They don’t have to be perfectionists. It’s a general model of what I do with therapy. And the model is you have to be conscious. Consciousness is the first stage. You have to be committed. So consciousness, commitment and with perfectionists, there are a lot of hurdles to commitment. A lot of them. Then you have to confront beliefs that you learned in childhood. This is really sort of cognitive behavioral work where you go back and you look at what you learn. You should, ought, must, have to, always do. And you begin to question those beliefs. Some of them are great, but which ones are causing a problem? And you look back on all that with an objective eye as much as you can, and then begin to think what beliefs do I want to live through? What beliefs do I want to live by now? The fourth stage is connection. And this is one of the toughest for perfectionists because we’re going to go back and do a trauma timeline about their childhoods. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: What that means is you go back at year 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 11, whatever years you think are important. And you talk about the positive things that happened, but you also let yourself write down the painful things that happened. And as you do that, you want to go back with self-compassion. What would you do with anybody else? Now, of course, all of that is about really rediscovering or discovering a new way of being for you. The last part is the part that’s about change. Changing your behavior. If I’ve learned one thing as a therapist, I’ve learned you get a lot of insights. Insight is wonderful; insight is great; insight helps you see things. It helps put the puzzle pieces together. But where you get your hope is in behavior change. What’s it like to act on these new beliefs? What’s it like to confront something that you’re sabotaging yourself with? What’s it like to feel emotions that you have suppressed for so long? It’s probably pretty frightening, actually. And so you want to start putting those things into your own life and into your behavior. And that’s where you’re going to get your hope. Gabe Howard: I’m fascinated by this idea that something that individuals did not know was a problem is able to change their life in such a dramatic fashion. What kind of feedback are you getting from people who have utilized these methods? How are their lives improving by embracing this? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: That’s a great question. I will tell you, and I promise you, I’m not being dramatic, just this year I’ve had two people have said to me, I wouldn’t be alive right now if I had not done this work. They actually were so miserable that they had those thoughts and they were so afraid they were going to act on them that that’s why they came into my practice. So I don’t think that’s true of everybody. But what I have heard is that, for example, one woman came, a young woman came into my office and she said there’s something about that term, “perfectly hidden depression” that I’m drawn to, and I’m not sure why. Well, come to find out. There was a lot of trauma in her lifetime that she had never talked about with anybody, didn’t even see it as trauma. When I used the term trauma, she started laughing. Oh, that’s not traumatic. And her father had hit her so violently when she was a young child that she’d had surgeries on her face. Gabe Howard: Wow. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: She didn’t consider that traumatic. So you’re trying to wake people up to the idea that what they have considered well, that was just my life or again, they have discounted it of what their reaction would be to someone else telling them that had happened in their lives, they would be horrified. And so you’re inviting people to get in touch with feelings. Another example, and this is gonna be about sexual abuse. So please listen carefully if you have any history of that. But a woman came in who had had a college sexual relationship, a boyfriend, that she had been with him for years, and he had been sexually abusive to her. When she first brought it up, she said, “You know, maybe this is important, maybe it’s not. But, you know, I should probably tell you about this relationship in college.” Yeah. I mean, it was very important in the way she was living her present life. So often these people just want you to confirm was this trauma, was this more difficult than I thought? Gabe Howard: It’s obviously interesting to think about what we see as trauma and other people versus what we think about as traumatizing for ourselves. The examples that you used. I’m like, oh yeah, that that’s absolutely traumatic. But maybe you don’t recognize that in yourself. Is this what you’re noticing? Could there be perfectly hidden trauma? I mean, does all of this sort of go hand in hand? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Huh, that’s an interesting kind of thought, isn’t it? Yes. I mean, I think we are in a culture often that tells us to buck up. Don’t call it a problem. You know, you’re whining. Quit it. It’s selfish to think about that. In fact, it’s one of the funny, not funny but ironic examples. Years ago, you know, I had 7 or 8 patients a day typically, and sometimes I run real tight between sessions and one person had gone and the other person who came in, I don’t know, a minute after her sat exactly where she had sat on the sofa so she could feel the warmth of the body, warmth from the sofa that was still holding that warmth from the other person. And she looked at me and she said, you know, all of a sudden I get this feeling that I bet that person’s problems are a lot more important than mine. I feel silly being here. And I looked at her and I said, so you felt warmth on the sofa and somehow you jumped to the idea and the belief that you’re not important. Why you’re here isn’t important. So help me understand that. Amazing to me how many people have things in their life that they have very courageously gotten through. And I admire their courage. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: I admire their resilience. It’s when resilience is on steroids that I have the problem. Don’t sweat the small stuff. OK, fine. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but sweat the big stuff and call it big. Berne Brown, of course, has written incredibly and presented incredibly about shame and vulnerability. One of her tenets is that you could only get to courage through vulnerability. She said a man stood up in the audience because people kind of going in, well, you know, maybe. But courage is courage. Courage is a lack of fear. And the soldier stood up, he had had three stints in Iraq. He’d been shot at. I mean, he’d seen people die and he looked at her and said, you are so right. I was afraid over there. And I had to recognize that fear and that vulnerability before I could get to my courage. Rudy Giuliani said it after 9/11. And I’m not going to say it as eloquently as he did. But he said something like, I thought I knew the definition of courage before 9/11, and that was the absence of fear. I found out that I’m wrong. Courage is feeling your fear and going forward. Recognizing vulnerability, admitting vulnerability, revealing vulnerability. And that way you can work your way toward true courage. Gabe Howard: Dr. Rutherford, I completely agree and I’ve learned a lot and of course, getting to the end of our show, obviously we can find the book on Amazon. What is your Web site? I know that you write for PsychCentral.com. So obviously you can check out Dr. Margaret Rutherford there. Where can folks find you if they want to learn more? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Sure. My Web site has the creative name of DrMargaretRutherford.com. Gabe Howard: I love it. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: And I’ve been blogging there for seven years. I do have a tag. You know, if you click on the tag, it will take you to all my posts on perfectly hidden depression. I also have a podcast that I’ve been doing for three years now. It’s called Self Work with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. And that’s on i-Tunes, on Stitcher, SoundCloud. It’s now on Spotify and I Heart Radio. So I really love the podcast. I can go more in depth with topics on the podcast than I can through blog posts. You know, I can spend 20-25 minutes talking about something where, you know, a blog post maybe has maybe a thousand words. I’ve got a Facebook page, I’m on Instagram, Pinterest, it’s all under Dr. Margaret Rutherford or Pinterest is Doctor Slash Margaret, I think. I would love to have your listeners join me. And the book does come out November 1. I’m thrilled that New Harbinger is publishing it. It is a much better book because they were involved because I’ve never written anything. I never thought I would write anything. And they have made it really, I think, a very readable book. I include lots of stories of these people I interviewed as well as my own patients, of course, anonymously. So I hope you’ll join me there. Gabe Howard: Thank you so much, Dr. Rutherford. My final question before we hop on out of here is did you have personal reasons for writing this book? Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Yes, I did. I wouldn’t call myself perfectly hidden and depressed. But certainly, my mother was. She ended taking anxiety medications in her thirties that developed into a prescription drug addiction and actually sabotaged a great deal of her life in the last decade or two of her life. But my mother was extremely perfectionistic. I can remember the dining room table being set for a party and we couldn’t go in there for a week. I remember that party would occur and my mother would ask me, was the food any good? Because she would always look for people who needed her help or her conversation because they might be uncomfortable. She got up at 4:00 in the morning so no one would see her without her makeup and her high heels and hose. I mean, that’s maybe being Southern and being a 1950s housewife, but a lot of it was her perfectionism. So I saw how miserable it made her. And I also adopted a great deal of her perfectionistic standards until I became a therapist. And I began working my own way through those and realizing that those were actually my mother’s vulnerabilities speaking to me and I no longer wanted to live my life like that. So people have said to me, your mother would be so proud of you for talking about yourself on the Internet. And I said, no. My mother would think it was terrible. So I don’t want people to live in that same prison that my mother lived in. And I hope that it will be helpful to those who want to get out. Gabe Howard: Well, thank you so very much for everything that you do for our community. Thank you for everything that you do for PsychCentral.com. And thank you for being on today’s show. We really, really appreciated having you. Dr. Margaret Rutherford: The thanks is mine, and the gratitude is mine, Gabe. Thank you very much for asking me and everyone have a wonderful day. And if you are hiding, please, if you can, get the e-book if you don’t want to buy it for real. There’s also an e-book and an audio book is coming. Gabe Howard: Very cool. And remember, everybody, if you want to interact with the show on Facebook, all you have to do is go over to PsychCentral.com/FBshow. And don’t forget to review our show on whatever podcast player you found us on. Do me a favor, tell a friend to share us on social media. And remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, simply by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. We’ll see everybody next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Psych Central Podcast. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/show or on your favorite podcast player. To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at GabeHoward.com. PsychCentral.com is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, PsychCentral.com offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at PsychCentral.com. If you have feedback about the show, please email show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening and please share widely. View the full article
  7. Phobiasupportforum

    Podcast: Explaining Depression To Happy People

    Are you so happy that you can’t understand depression? Not us! While Gabe and Jackie can’t relate to that level of positivity, there are lots of people in the world who simply can’t fathom what depression feels like. Despite their best efforts, naturally happy people can have a hard time understanding depression and in Episode 2, we discuss how to explain depression to happy people, including both of our spouses who are, to be honest, annoyingly peppy. We give tips on how to approach the topic and share our own personal experiences of having this hard-to-understand conversation. 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. You can find her online at JackieZimmerman.co, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Explaining Depression To Happy People’ 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: Welcome to Not Crazy. Here are your hosts, Gabe and Jackie. Gabe: Welcome to Not Crazy. I would like to introduce Jackie Zimmerman. She may have depression, but she also rides a bike 30 miles one way and then inexplicably has to walk back. Jackie: And I’d like to introduce you to my co-host, Gabe Howard, who lives with bipolar and also gave a speech in Tennessee this week. Gabe: Today, we’re going to talk about how to describe depression to people who are happy. Jackie: And also people who don’t believe us. Gabe: And I don’t believe us. Like, they just they simply do not believe that depression is a real medical illness because they liken it to sadness. Jackie: Right. And you can just get over sadness. You can just be happy, just do that. If you’re depressed, just do that. Just be happy. Gabe: There’s a few things in life that you should just be able to do. You should just be able to lose weight. You should just be able to make more money and you should just be able to cheer up. Now, we’re a mental health show, so you’re gonna have to find your own solution to the other two problems. But it’s the just cheer up because wouldn’t it be great if medical illnesses work that way, that you’d just be well. You have asthma. Just breathe. Jackie: Wouldn’t it be great if literally any illness worked that way? I mean, I would say across the board the amount of people who just say, “well, just don’t do that and just be better” is astounding. People think you can just be better. Just be better. Gabe: I’ve lived with bipolar for a long time, it was the first illness that I was ever diagnosed with. I have. I have a ton, a ton of mental health problems. And I was young, so I hadn’t developed any physical health problems yet. So when all of this like stigma and people not believing me and people calling me a liar and people giving me this God awful advice started to happen. I believe that this was just the stigma of mental illness, that the reason people were being so dismissive, giving me advice and being so helpful. And I’m making air quotes, was because people just didn’t respect people with mental illness. And then I started meeting great advocates like you. And you described how people did the same thing about your physical illness, where they would just walk up with no medical degree whatsoever and tell you exactly how to treat your fill in “very serious physical problem” here. Jackie: Well, because everybody knows someone who knows someone who’s had the thing, who fixed it with this other non FDA compliant thing that will work for everybody. So you should just do that thing. Gabe: I’ve been around for so long that I now remember different versions of this is the thing that’s going to cure us all. When I first started, aroma therapy is going to fix us all. And then that morphed into essential oils. Essential oils are going to fix us all. And now it’s cannabis oil. Cannabis oil is going to fix us all. And I’m now just kind of sitting here like just a little giddy, seeing if I can predict in like three or four years. Jackie: Have you been in-taking the cannabis oil?! Gabe: I mean it. Listen. And here’s what’s sad, right? Cannabis oil could have some benefits. This is going to shock people. Aroma therapy has benefits as well. Jackie: No…Yes, of course it does. Gabe: But, yeah. But the benefits aren’t it cures fill in the blank. Jackie: No. Gabe: Listen, your room not smelling like shit makes you feel better. I’m sorry. That’s just I don’t mean it so crassly, but yeah, if you’re sitting alone in a stinky room all alone, you’re probably going to feel bad. Jackie: Yes, I would agree. Yes. I mean, well, I mean, I think it’s worth stating we’re kind of talking right now about people who are naysayers or non-believers we’ll say of maybe they don’t believe you actually have depression or don’t believe depression is a real thing. But when we started talking about this show topic idea of explaining depression to happy people, we weren’t talking about necessarily the naysayers. We were talking about people who just have no idea that depression exists in the world. Gabe and I are married. I was going to say Gabe and I are married. We’re not married to each other. Gabe and I are married to happy… Gabe: Well, you know, you jumped on that quick. You’re like, we’re not married to each other. I don’t. I don’t want anybody to accidentally get it. Are you going to say something like that “There’s nothing wrong with that?” I mean, can’t you at least give me a Seinfeld reference in there? Jackie: No, I was going to say Gabe and I are married to happy people. Gabe: We are. Jackie: We have found some strangely similar qualities in our spouses. They’re both just pleasantly positive people, almost to like a barf degree where they’re just too like, so happy that I can’t relate on a level. I’ve never been, even before, depression struck me pretty rough. I have never been this happy in my life, and that’s just like the base level of where my husband lives. He’s just thrilled all the time to be alive. Gabe: This is what disgusts me, of course, about my wife as well. I have this joke where I say that my wife is so optimistic that if our house was engulfed in flames, if it caught fire and was burning to the ground, my wife would be so happy that we get to have s’mores. This is the level of sunshine and optimism that lives within her. I don’t understand that at all. Just thinking about my house catching on fire has pissed me off for the rest of the day. Jackie: I actually had a house fire and I can I can tell you for certain it’s the worst. So Kendall could be thrilled with the idea of s’mores at a house fire. Having lived through a house fire, I wasn’t in the house, but my house burned down. Gabe: I think that there is good in an opposites attracting about certain things. You know, obviously if you have opposite values that can cause some problems. But in my marriage and speaking only for me, I am very pessimistic and obviously I have depression and anxiety. And so that means that that I worry a lot and then I often see things is very bleak. My wife is on the other side of that spectrum. She’s very optimistic. She tends to see things as very positive and sees the good and beauty in people. The reality is, is both of us are wrong. She needs to understand that sometimes people are out to get you. That’s how you safeguard yourself. It’s why we buy insurance. It’s why we lock our doors at night. It’s why we write contracts and sign them, etc. I’m not I’m not trying to throw my wife under the bus and say, oh, no, you need to hate everybody and constantly be on guard. Jackie: But… Gabe: But. Jackie: There’s some practicality to paranoia at times, like sometimes it’s a built in safety mechanism a little bit in life to, you know, not get eaten by tigers and things. Gabe: Right. Right, because tigers are in Michigan? You have tigers roaming your streets? Jackie: I mean, I was talking about like prehistoric times, but you know what I mean, like the paranoia is an instinct. You know, whether or not it’s right anymore, it has derailed into fear and depression and all these terrifying things, but it has served a purpose. Gabe: I love that your paranoia and depression, you can trace back to prehistoric times. Like that’s how ingrained it is. Jackie: It’s deep rooted, it is in there. Gabe: I think that part of the problem when it comes to people giving advice on depression is that they’re not mean spirited. I don’t think these people are being mean. I don’t think they’re malicious, angry assholes that are attacking us. Their life experience has taught them that when they feel sad, going for a walk, doing yoga, hanging out with friends, going to a movie, taking a deep breath or even using aromatherapy or essential oil lotion works for them because they don’t have a medical condition. They don’t understand that sadness and depression are not even remotely the same thing. Jackie: No, and I think that they are uneducated and ignorant. Gabe: They dumb. Just say they dumb. Jackie: I mean, they are. I was going to say it like ignorant to a fault. Put it in a nice way. Meaning like they’re trying to help. They are trying to help. It’s not helpful. And it’s actually kind of the opposite where it can be a little bit harmful to not get people with depression, treatment and help. But I understand what they’re trying to say. You’re right. This worked for me so it can work for you. But there is a difference. Depression is not sadness. They’re not the same thing. You can be sad for a period of time. And it’s not going to turn into depression. It’s not going to… Gabe: They certainly could. Jackie: It could. Most of the time, though, like when you’re sad, it’s an isolated symptom of something that’s happening in your life. It doesn’t always mean that is depression. Gabe: And this is what we really need to get people to understand. I have depression. Bipolar disorder is depression and mania and everything in between, which means that Gabe has major depression. Gabe has been depressed. But listen, I’m going to blow everybody’s mind. I can also just be sad. So if I am… Jackie: No. Gabe: Sad, your advice of go for a walk, watch a movie, reconnect with your wife, take a break is good advice if I am sad. Jackie: Right. Well. Gabe: Questionable advice if I’m depressed. In fact, it’s awful. It’s awful. Jackie: Don’t get me wrong. Even on my worst days when I am super depressed, if I go outside, breathe the fresh air, maybe feel some sunshine on my face. It does help my mood. Does it actually help my depression? No. There are benefits to it, but it does not fix depression. A walk outside breeze in your hair, sun on your face doesn’t fix depression. Gabe: Isn’t that kind of the thing that just makes this illness mean when you are suffering from depression and you can’t get out of bed? It is beneficial. You see benefit when somebody you love helps you get up, get dressed and walked you around the block, you see benefit. But in their mind, they’ve given it too much credit. They’re like, oh, hey, she’s fixed now. I got her out of bed. It’s sort of a little bit like seeing somebody’s house on fire and you’re like, Oh, I got them out of the house. So I’m done now. And you don’t bother to do anything else. Jackie: I brought a bucket of water. I helped. Gabe: Well right. Jackie: You know. Gabe: The example that I always use is if you need ten thousand dollars and somebody gives you a hundred dollars, you are better off. You are a hundred dollars closer to your goal. But listen, if you need ten thousand dollars. Yeah. You don’t really feel like you’ve been helped all that much. I like that analogy because obviously you would always be kind to somebody who gave you $100 toward your ten thousand dollar goal, but you would also roll your eyes at them if they walked around telling everybody that they solved all of your financial problems. Jackie: I was talking to Adam about this topic and I said to him, what do you know about depression? You are happy. What do you know? And he said that it makes everything harder. And he went into more detail and he said, you know, it’s harder to get out of bed. It’s harder to go to work. It’s harder to cook dinner. Everything is just harder. So if you go back to the idea of somebody like helping you take a walk, right? Yeah. It is so much harder to leave the fucking house and you’re depressed. Like, I don’t want to leave the house ever even when I’m not depressed. I don’t. I like my bubble. I don’t I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to be in the world really that much. So when I’m depressed or it’s cold or it’s raining. I am not leaving the house even when I know it’ll be good for me. So when Adam said today, it makes everything harder. I said, that’s right. But I don’t think you understand the part that is, for me, the most important part is that my depression talks to me. Right. It tells me things. And it most of often it tells me that I’m a piece of shit and I’m not worthy of things and nobody likes me and everything is awful. Gabe: And just to clarify, when you say your depression talks to you like that’s an analogy, you don’t mean that you have psychosis or you’re hallucinating, or that you have delusions. Jackie: No. No. Gabe: Etc.. But but yeah, that’s an I think that’s an excellent analogy, because when I am depressed, I am convinced that I am garbage and that is reinforced by my feelings, my heavy limbs, my inability to do anything. And sometimes my depression gets help from the people around me that say things to me like, well, if you would just get up and clean your house… Jackie: Yes. Gabe: And go to work, you’d feel so much better. Oh, great. Now I’m depressed and it’s my fault. Jackie: Fake it till you make it. Like, no, that it takes energy to fake it. And I don’t have energy when I’m depressed, so I don’t want to do that. Gabe: We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsor. 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. Jackie: And we’re back talking about how to explain depression to annoyingly happy people. Gabe: One of the things that I try to explain to people is that depression has physical symptoms. Jackie: Yes. Gabe: You know? Depression is a mental illness. It is a mental health issue. But just because it’s a mental health issue, just because it’s a mental illness doesn’t mean that it’s devoid of physical symptoms. Feeling tired, your limbs being heavy, having trouble breathing, feeling dizzy, not having the energy to stand up, feeling like you’re going to collapse or fail or not being able to stay awake. And then there’s the physical symptoms that are sort of adjacent. Right. Like what? I’m really, really depressed. I’m not making healthy foods. Jackie: No. Gabe: I’m eating garbage, food. Or I’m not eating at all. I’m not taking a shower. And depending on how bad the depression is, I’ve got myself convinced that ending my life is reasonable. Which means I’m literally, literally fighting for my life. And to think that that has no physical sensations is nonsense. Jackie: Yeah. Gabe: But we go all the way back to. We’re gonna pick on little old Adam for a moment. How could he possibly know that? How could he? Jackie: When your outlook is rainbows, most of the time you can’t fathom that idea. When I explain depression to him, or even when I explain depression to a lot of people in my life, I do use that analogy, and I say “my depression” because I can speak for a lot of people, but I know mine the best and mine, it is like having a little voice and I say this for my depression and anxiety because my brain, me, Jackie, I know it’s bullshit. I know that it’s not real and I know that it’s wrong. And I know all of these things are not really threats or they’re not really terrible. But I have that little part of me that will be like my brain goes, you should call somebody right now, like get somebody to come over and hang out with you. And my depression goes, “Nah, they’re probably tired of hearing about it, hearing you complain and they don’t really like you anymore. So they’re not going to pick up.” It’s this little tiny part of you that talks to you and your brain knows it’s bullshit. My conscious brain knows it’s bullshit, but it’s still there and it still matters. And I still can’t turn it off. And when I explain that again to Adam today, he said, “so it’s always says negative stuff?” And I said, yeah. It always says negative stuff. It never says anything good. It always tells me I’m worthless. I’m stupid. Like I’m never going to achieve what I want to achieve, that I should just stay in bed. But if I do, everybody will hate me because I’m not contributing. And then I hate myself. It’s just this downward spiral, because at no point does my depression go, “Just kidding. You’re all right. Everything’s fine.” Gabe: And then we have to juxtapose that against the idea of suicidality, we have so many problems with understanding suicide in this country, we tend to blame people who die by suicide. We tend to blame people who have attempted suicide. We tend to put a moral value on suicidal thoughts or thinking. Religious organizations have gotten involved and they’ve fractured the debate even more. Then there’s families like, well, my son, daughter, mother, child, husband would never do that to me because they know that they’re loved and they think they’re saying reasonable things. And all of this all of this comes back down to they just don’t think it’s going to happen to them because they don’t understand how serious it is. And more importantly, I don’t think many people realize how common suicide is. Suicide is more common than murder. But we’re all worried about murder, but we’re not worried about suicide. And this is something that we need to worry about. Jackie: I think that you’re right, Gabe, because when most people think about suicide, they think it’s because people actually want to die. They don’t really understand suicide. Gabe: Right. And they don’t want to die. They want the pain to stop. And in most cases, they didn’t end up there in a nanosecond. It got worse and worse and worse and it left untreated. The example that I love to use is pinkeye. Every parent in America, upon hearing the phrase pinkeye, immediately groans. They think I’m going to have to tell all my kids’ friends, the whole family’s going to get it. They’re just annoyed by it. The outcome of untreated pinkeye is blindness. That thing, that annoying medical condition that your child has will make them go blind. But nobody is afraid of it because it can be solved with a $4 bottle of whatever the hell is in the $4 bottle. So even though our children and ourselves are catching this really contagious illness that leads to blindness, we all just push it aside because we’re not worried about it. Jackie: Well, and here’s the really fun part about that whole analogy is while it’s not a one to one analogy, a lot of these things could be assisted, I won’t say cured, with a bottle of pills that may or may not cost more than $4, but assist with depression and anxiety. Gabe: Absolutely. Treatment is available, but there are many barriers to treatment and there are people ready, willing and able to seek mental health treatment that cannot get it. Either they don’t have health insurance. They’re not being supported by their friends and family member who are actively discouraging them from getting it. They live in rural America, where the nearest psychiatrist is 100 miles away and they don’t have access to a car and there is no public transportation. And on and on and on and on. Jackie: I do think that we should probably do an episode devoted specifically to that, because that is just as much of a problem as people not identifying that this is a real thing in the first place. Gabe: Exactly. And let’s focus right in on somebody who’s willing to get help. But the people around them are actively preventing them from doing so. I really just want to say to people that are doing that. Oh, man, you got to live with the outcome of this. I mean, don’t get me wrong. As somebody who has suffered with bipolar disorder, depression, been suicidal and all of this stuff, and that is a hard life. It is a really hard life. But I talk to my family and my mom and dad have told me numerous times that they just feel so bad and they never actively prevented me from getting help, just F.Y.I. But they feel bad because they didn’t realize I was sick. So I can only imagine how badly they would be if they were standing in between me and medical care. So if you’re one of these people that is preventing somebody through your words or lack of support from getting the care that they need, you might want to really take a deep breath and decide if this is the hill that you want to die on. Jackie: Well, and especially if you’re that person, the person you’re saying these things to already feels like they are more alone than they’ve ever been in their entire life. So if they’re even telling you about what’s going on, it’s the smallest little attempt to outreach and you’re basically just pushing them right back by themselves. They already feel like nobody understands. Nobody’s going to help. And you’re basically confirming that to them. So like Gabe said, rethink that. Maybe look at it from another direction. Maybe it wouldn’t be something that helps you, but it’s something that they need to consider for themselves. Gabe: The bottom line is when somebody is in the throes of depression, when they’re suffering from depression, when they think they’re worthless, if they’re contemplating suicide, if they are in so much mental, emotional and physical pain that they cannot see straight, it’s not going to be hard to convince them to do what you want. And if the thing that you want them to do is not seek help, it’s not going to be hard to convince them to do that. And I would love to tell you that through your love and your words, you could convince them to be better. But the world doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t. And we know this. So maybe the best thing that you can do is step aside and say, “I support how you feel.” We do this with religion and politics in healthy families. We say, look, we’re going to agree to disagree. I’m not going to stand in your way. Jackie: So if you’re somebody who’s living with depression right now, Gabe, and you have somebody in your life who is a happy person, and maybe they’re not trying to talk you out of getting treatment or talk you out of doing anything for yourself, they’re just let’s say you’re married to Kendall… Gabe: Oh, my God. Am I married to Kendall? Yay Jackie: Let’s just say you’re somebody with depression who knows someone like Kendall, what are your best tips for explaining depression to somebody who is willing to listen but just can’t understand? Gabe: I believe in brutal honesty. I believe that everybody’s depression, while having similarities, is a little bit different. And everybody has their own analogies. And here’s the nice thing about our families. They get our analogies better than anybody. Jackie: So true. Gabe: They just do. Families have shorthands. We have that. You know, my depression is like Christmas 1985 when, you know, grandpa set the Christmas tree on fire and be be brutal. Be honest. Use real words. We talk about this on this show all the time. You know, don’t say I’m having a mental health crisis. Say I feel like I’m going crazy. Don’t say, oh, I feel sad at night. Say that you feel depressed. You feel like you’re in a deep, dark hole that you can’t escape. Use the words that are meaningful to you. And don’t flinch. And to the loved ones hearing this. Don’t flinch back. And if you do flinch, flinch for real. If it makes you want to cry, cry and hug them. You used Kendall. These are the things that helped. Kendall does not understand what it’s like to live with depression. She doesn’t. And she’s never going to. And the thing that helped me the most in my marriage is she just flat out told me that she said, I am never going to understand what it’s like to be depressed. And man, what what a sigh of relief. Now, I suppose I should put an asterix there and say that’s not how medical conditions work. She might know… Jackie: Right. Gabe: But I hope that she never has to suffer depression. Jackie: Well, if, and if she does, given who she is as a person, she very well may approach it differently or it will feel differently. I think who you are before depression greatly affects how your life goes with depression. Gabe: And to your point, how you deal with your depression is greatly dependent by how the people around you act. Jackie: Yes. Gabe: If Kendall was constantly telling me to cheer up and get better, I would not cheer up and get better. And I’d resent her. I would resent her. I resent her now for being happy. Jackie: You probably wouldn’t be married to her. Gabe: Oh, I know. I run through wives like some people run through shoes. Jackie: That’s a whole other thing, Gabe. Gabe: So you don’t have to understand it to be helpful and you don’t have to have the answers to be helpful. And this is really what we see in mental health all the time, which is the people around us. They want to fix it. They want to have the answers. They want to be the hero. They want to have that piece of advice that saves our life. Jackie: Mm-hmm. Gabe: This is nonsense. Jackie: Yes. Gabe: You can’t do it unless, of course, you’re a top psychiatrist. Jackie: Well, and to top it off, the rule is if you’re a doctor, you can’t treat your family member even when… Gabe: Oh, yeah. It’s illegal. We should point that out too. Jackie: Even when you have the medical knowledge to do it. So if you’re a family member of somebody who’s suffering with depression and you don’t have the medical knowledge to fix it, why on earth would you think that you have anything that can really change the course of their depression, that’s not telling them to go seek somebody who can actually change the course of their depression? Gabe: There may not be an answer to how to explain to people who have never suffered from depression, what exactly depression feels like, and hey, maybe that’s a good thing when it comes to people knowing each other at all. We only know what we tell each other and what we share and what we’ve experienced together. Jackie, I think you’re fantastic. But at the end of the day, I’m only going to know you as well as 1) You let me and 2) as the time that I am willing to put into it. Depression and our emotions and our feelings is very much the same way. I will learn from you because I will keep an open mind to learning from you. Now, there may be disagreements along the way. There may be arguments and there absolutely, unequivocally will be hurt feelings. And you’ve got to push past all of that and learn because listen. Depression thrives on this. The one thing that I feel that every single person with depression has in common is we feel isolated, misunderstood and lonely. So talk to us, hug us, help us. And if you’re going to try to fix us, maybe really think not. Jackie: If you’re somebody trying to help someone else with depression, sometimes it’s just your presence. For me, when I’m really depressed, I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about anything. I don’t even want to, like, actually speak out loud. I just want to be like I want to wallow. That’s what I want to do. My depression makes me want to wallow. But if I can wallow with somebody else in the room, I’m already doing better than I was before. And I might not talk to you. And we may not talk about it. We might not speak at all. We might not do anything other than sit in silence. But that’s better than me sitting by myself. Gabe: And can we all agree, just as maybe a community of people who have suffered from depression in the past or who may be suffering right now, that the happy people are annoying? Jackie: Oh, my God, they’re so annoying, so annoying. Gabe: They’re so annoying. But we probably shouldn’t give them advice on how not to be annoying because then we would be just like them. Jackie: And to be fair, you and I, we married them. Like we chose to love them forever and ever, despite how happy they are. Gabe: Listen. I get my next divorce for free, so I don’t know about this forever and ever thing of which you speak, but you know, she’s good enough for now. Jackie: I don’t have a punchcard like you do. Gabe: Oh, I get so many free, I can loan you some. Hey, Jackie, you know, one of the hallmarks of this show that we’re gonna tell everybody in the first couple of episodes and then they’re gonna have to figure out for themselves is that we always put an outtake at the end of the episode. Did you know that? Did you know that our editor did that? Jackie: I heard it at the end of one of the old episodes. I don’t know, I had a moment where I thought maybe I like hit play on something that was wrong. And then I realized it was a funny thing. So it was supposed to be there. Gabe: Yeah, yeah. It was like you falling off your stool, landing face first and breaking your nose. It was hilarious. We laugh at physical illness here on Not Crazy. But stay tuned until after the credits. And listen to what it is. And it will be week after week after week. And don’t think you’re going to cheat and go look at the transcript. We cut it out of there on purpose. Jackie: Thanks, everyone, for listening today to Not Crazy. And if you’re somebody living with depression and maybe you have one of these like super annoying, happy people in your life, send them this episode. Send them to Not Crazy, send them to Psych Central. Help them understand what your life is like. And until then, subscribe to our podcast, like us on social media, send us an e-mail. Send us hate mail if you want to. But maybe don’t. I don’t know. Have a great week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to Not Crazy from Psych Central. For free mental health resources and online support groups, visit PsychCentral.com. Not Crazy’s official website is PsychCentral.com/NotCrazy. To work with Gabe, go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Jackie, go to JackieZimmerman.co. Not Crazy travels well. Have Gabe and Jackie record an episode live at your next event. E-mail show@psychcentral.com for details. View the full article
  8.  Chrisa Hickey’s journey into mental health advocacy started when her son, Tim, was diagnosed with very early onset schizophrenia after being admitted to a psychiatric hospital for the first time at the age of 11. He had been showing symptoms for years and had received a half dozen different diagnoses. His family was desperately looking for answers. Tim’s illness took a toll on the entire family, which was only exacerbated by the lack of information and resources available to them. In America, fewer than 100 children per year are diagnosed with very early onset schizophrenia. Chrisa had to find information and resources for herself and didn’t want anyone else to have to start from scratch. And so the Parents Like Us Club was born. Join Gabe and Chrisa as they talk about the struggles of dealing with a mentally ill loved one, especially a child. And find out what has helped Tim, now 25, achieve the happiness and stability he has today. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Parents Mental Illness’ Podcast Episode In 2009, Chrisa Hickey began writing a blog about raising her son Timothy, diagnosed at age 11 with childhood onset schizophrenia. Marian, one of her readers (who later became a friend) commented that parents raising children with severe mental illnesses were sort of a strange little club, and that there were other “parents like us” that should be part of the club. In 2015, the club was formed. Chrisa began collecting stories of other Parents Like Us and posting them to her blog, www.themindstorm.net. But this didn’t seem like enough. In 2019 Parents Like Us Club Inc. became a 501(c)3 charity with the mission of bringing together parents raising children diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and other life-threatening mental illnesses and serving three roles for this community: Give voice to families raising children with severe mental illnesses by sharing their stories with other parents, the public, and the medical community Provide resources and information for parents so that no parent has to try and figure out the complex maze of educating, treating, and caring for a mentally ill child on their own Give parents the extra support they need by funding in-person advocacy services to attend school meetings, doctors appointments, meetings with social services, and judicial processes with parents, to help them navigate the complex issues that surround raising our kids 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 Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Parents Mental Illness’ 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: Welcome to the Psych Central Podcast, where each episode features guest experts discussing psychology and mental health in everyday plain language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard. Gabe Howard: Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Podcast. And today, I will be speaking with Chrisa Hickey, who is the mom of a young man with schizophrenia and an incredible mental health advocate. I’m proud to say that I’ve worked with Chrisa in real life and she is doing incredible work. Chrisa, welcome to the show. Chrisa Hickey: Thank you, Gabe. How are you doing? Gabe Howard: I am doing very well. You know, we’re both mental health advocates, so that’s just generic. We can get that right out of the way and nobody knows what that means. But as longtime listeners know, I live with bipolar disorder. So I always do my speaking from the lived experience, what it’s like to live with mental illness. And why I’m so drawn to you and why I like talking to you and learning from you is your lived experience, and the majority of your advocacy is from the, you know, I hate to say caregiver, but from the family member, from the mom who is advocating for her son. Can you can you kind of give us that story? Chrisa Hickey: Sure, a lot like your story, I’m sure no one gets it, wakes up one morning, goes, I want to be a mental health advocate. For us, it started when my son, Tim, who will be 25 in a week or so now, was four years old. We knew that there was something going on with him. We just weren’t quite sure what it was. And we started going through with doctors and neurologists and neuropsychologists and therapists and everything else. Long story short, after several different diagnoses and all kinds of issues, he ended up on his first psychiatric inpatient stay at the age of 11 when he attempted suicide. And doctors there said, well, what no one wants to tell you is that your son has schizophrenia. And I said, no, he doesn’t. Because kids don’t have it. And I didn’t believe it. And then six months later, he tried to kill himself again. And I went, OK. Obviously, you have a problem here. So at that point, the advocacy was personal. It became “what do I need to do to make sure that my child is getting the best care possible?” And I can try and give him a life and adult life. Because at this point, you know, you worry about whether or not your kid is even going to make it to adulthood. So that kind of morphed into all kinds of things you do when you have a child, especially with a serious mental illness. It really does become a family disease. Everyone’s affected. Parents are affected. Siblings are very affected. Everyone’s affected. So when I started doing my advocacy work on that, I found other parents who were struggling with the same kind of things we were trying to figure out. I started sharing information and started my blog and getting people to help share their stories. And we basically built this. I ended up building this community of parents who were all trying to help each other because not even our clinicians really could help us very well because it’s pretty rare. I mean, there’s about 100 children in the US every year, diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia. So we’re a small fraternity. Gabe Howard: That is very small. Even if we go with every single child who’s diagnosed with mental illness, that number is very small. It’s bigger than the hundred, but it’s still very small. And of course, we’ve all heard it said a thousand times in the mental health community, mental illness is not a casserole disease. When people hear about stuff like this, they avoid it. And here’s the question that I want to ask specifically, because I hear this all the time, and I do not have children and I am not a mom. But did people in your community blame your son’s illness on you? Because you always hear that society blames moms for mental illness. Chrisa Hickey: Yeah. Well, for us, it’s a little bit different because Timothy is also adopted. So a lot of what we got was, and no joke, people would say, well, this is obviously because he’s a product, you know, of his birth parents. Why don’t you just return him? Gabe Howard: Wait, what? Chrisa Hickey: Yes. He’s not a toaster. It’s not like, you know, gee, this toaster is not toasting right anymore. I’m going to take it back to the manufacturer. People would literally say to us, because he was adopted, obviously, it’s not our fault. It’s something weirdly genetic with his birth parents or his background and whatever. Maybe we should just go and, you know, not get a kid that was so complicated. Gabe Howard: Wow. Chrisa Hickey: Which just stunned me. Yeah, it totally stunned me. But I’ll tell you what really did happen with neighbors and people at school and stuff. What they wanted was their kids to stay away from him because they were worried that he was he was dangerous or erratic. And that’s the thing. Whenever you hear about schizophrenia, your mind always goes to — insert horror movie here. So, you know, you get little kids were like, oh, my God, he’s got this terrible disease or a split personality thing. Half the world still thinks that’s what it is. You know, we need to keep our kid away from him. Gabe Howard: And it’s hard for children anyway because anything that makes a child different — bullying is a real thing and cliques form and — but now your son is in a position where he could definitely use support and use friends and use understanding. But of course, he’s not getting it because kids are being children. But then there’s another layer. Parents are influencing their children’s behavior. And I just I struggle with that idea so much that a parent would tell their children, don’t play with another child because they’re sick. That’s just so scary. Chrisa Hickey: That’s the problem, though. They don’t see him as sick, what they see it as, and this is why a lot of parents get blamed, they see it as a personality defect, right? Or a behavioral defect. It’s like the kid is not spoiled. He’s got an illness. But, you know, and I don’t know if you know this, but when NAMI was originally founded, it was founded by a group of parents — moms in particular — who were tired of being blamed for their children’s schizophrenia. Gabe Howard: Yep. “NAMI Mommies.” Chrisa Hickey: Yep. So that’s how it got started, and it would be great to say that there had been progress since they started this in the early 70s, but there has been very minimal progress. And it’s not just the public. The worst thing we fight against as well is a lot of clinicians don’t understand it, especially in children, because there is such a behavioral component. You know, it’s so hard to diagnose a child because when my child throws a temper tantrum, is it because he’s trying not to listen to the voices in his head or is it because he’s frustrated or is it because he’s a kid? Gabe Howard: How did you as a mom, decide? When the tantrum occurred, how did you personally make that determination? Chrisa Hickey: It was difficult to tell. And because it was difficult to tell, we started treating them all the same. The one thing with him it was easy to figure out was if he would escalate quickly, it probably was because of his illness. If he was just mad because we weren’t having Spaghetti O’s for dinner, that was something easily diffused and he wouldn’t escalate. It would be easy to talk him down. So I would start talking to him slowly, trying to understand what was going on in his head. And if it kept on escalating, then I knew that we had a real problem we had to deal with. But initially you don’t. Especially with the kids, you have to start treating them all the same, and that’s the hard part. Especially, imagine it happens in the grocery store. How do you explain this to people while you’re sitting there saying, OK, let’s sit down and calm and talk about what’s going on? And everyone’s looking at you like you’re crazy. Gabe Howard: Right. So to take a step back. You said that you could tell something was wrong as early as four, but that he wasn’t diagnosed until he was nine. Is that correct? Chrisa Hickey: Well, his first diagnosis was at the age of four. And at that point, they didn’t know whether it was an autism spectrum disorder or an emotional disorder. So he basically had this diagnosis called PDD-NOS, which is pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. And from there he transitioned through several. So then it went to OK, it’s definitely not autism. This is emotional. So now it’s emotional disorder not otherwise specified. And then maybe it’s bipolar disorder or maybe it’s bipolar disorder I, or maybe it’s II, or maybe it’s bipolar with psychosis, blah, blah, kind of kept going, you know. When they finally said it was a schizophrenia, it was a doctor who had been consulting with the therapist. And the therapist had been reticent to tell us that she was positive it was schizophrenia. And he just basically blurted it out. Gabe Howard: Wow. What were the specifics? What were you witnessing? What was your son doing? Chrisa Hickey: He had a couple different things that were pretty routine, so he had some, which now we know are delusions, of course. Now there’s a clinical term, we call them delusions. But he had some weird idiosyncrasies, like he couldn’t put water on his face because something horrible was going to happen to his face, I don’t know, was going to melt him or whatever. But you could never put water on his face. He would have conversations with nobody. And I’m talking long, complex conversations with people. Like when I’m driving and he’s sitting behind me and the hair on the back of my neck stands up because he’s having a huge hairy conversation when no one is there. He had very little outward emotion. He wasn’t very happy. He was never very sad. He was just kind of flat. Right? So now we know clinically they call that “flat affect.” And when he had anxiety about all of this going on, he had some incredible rage. My husband and I were actually trained when he was eight years old in how to do a therapeutic hold because he was so strong. Well, here’s an example: at the age of eight, he took one of those kid desks with a chair attached to it and the lid lifts up, picked it up over his head and threw it at a teacher. Gabe Howard: Oh, wow. Chrisa Hickey: So he was pretty strong. So we actually were trained by clinicians on how to do a therapeutic hold, because if we didn’t, he could literally hurt himself or one of us. The rage was the hardest part to deal with. Gabe Howard: So now you’re faced with all of this. You got the doctors, you do all the right things. You’re advocating for your son. We could probably talk for hours upon hours how difficult it is to find the right care, the right treatment, the right clinicians. But moving all of that aside, let’s talk about medication. Did you choose to medicate your child? Because it’s debated a lot. Chrisa Hickey: It is. So initially we didn’t want to medicate our child because the last thing you want to do is — and it’s the prevailing thought out there, right — I don’t want to put this poison into my kid. But it got to the point where after several hospitalizations. I mean, he had 16 hospitalizations between ages of 11 and 14. So you get through the first three or four hospitalizations, you finally realize that you can’t do this just with behavioral intervention alone. You know, we didn’t want to put the poison in Tim. So we started very slowly and we wanted to start with — does he need a mood stabilizer? Does he need an antipsychotic? And we start working with the doctors to try and create whatever the cocktail is. That’s right. But every time you put these pills into your kid, a little part of you dies inside because you’re thinking — and I hear this a lot from other parents — the number one thing they say is when they have to give their kid meds or put their kid in the hospital, is that they failed as a parent. It’s self stigma. Chrisa Hickey: And that’s the hardest part. And it’s a cliche. And we all say it’s like if your kid had diabetes, you wouldn’t feel that giving him insulin. But it’s really true. My kid has a brain disorder, not a brat, not a behavioral issue. He has an illness in his brain. And if I can give him medication that helps that illness in his brain, let him live the life that is most fulfilling as possible, then that’s what we decided we had to do. I think the hardest part for parents with kids, though, is unlike adults, kids change a lot. They grow. And as he would grow and get older, we would feel OK, we’ve put him on meds and he’s doing stable. And then six months later he’d have a growth spurt and everything’s out the window. So we’d start the whole process over again. And so every time he would go onto meds, it would change or something, we would all brace ourselves because we didn’t know what was coming. Most parents don’t want to medicate their kids. Kids are getting stigmatized for taking the meds they really need. Gabe Howard: Again, I’ve never been a parent, but I can talk about my personal experience when they were like, hey, you have to take meds in order to be human. I’m like, you know, I’m 25 years old. I’m a grown ass man. I don’t need this. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. You know, I was very much in the I’m not sick. My mom is good. So therefore, I can’t be mentally ill. Plus, I have a personality and a job. So, sickness is for other people and other families and other problems. The medication was, you know, pardon the pun, a tough pill to swallow. And that was in me. And I’m making the decision for me. Chrisa Hickey: Can I ask you a question about that, though? Is that because you saw the medication as because of your personal failing? Because I think it’s so ingrained in our society that mental illness is because we’re weak or we’re spoiled or not parented well, or we’ve got a personality defect that even to ourselves, when you are telling me I have to take a pill so I can act and feel normal, we feel like failures. Gabe Howard: Yes. And it’s a little deeper than that. One, it was a reminder that this is the suckiest part about being on medication. You know, picture it: twenty five year old Gabe. I’m still that age where I think that I’m invincible. And of course, I have bipolar disorder. So I go through mania which tells me that I am, in fact, not only invincible, but God, because that’s what mania is like. And every morning and every night, I have to take a handful of reminders that I’m weak. That is 100 percent true. That is a demarcation twice a day that I am different from my peers. Now I’ll add on to that that my peers, you know, they’re good people. I have no negative stories of my friends being mean to me on purpose. They would all make little jokes. All there is Gabe with his granny pill minder. Oh, Gabe’s got to go to the pharmacy with all the grannies. They thought they were being friendly and ribbing me about it. It hurt and it hurt in a way that I couldn’t explain. I couldn’t put my finger on it. We’ll be back after this message from our sponsor. 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 Howard: We’re back with Chrisa Hickey, founder of the nonprofit ParentsLikeUs.Club. Chrisa Hickey: I have said to people before, and people look at me like I’m wack when I say this, but I do feel like we’re really lucky that Tim was diagnosed so young because when Tim was eleven, he didn’t get a choice whether he took his meds or not. He didn’t get a choice if he went to his doctor or not. He didn’t get a choice if he went to therapy or not. He did it because he was 11 and I’m the parent. So by the time he was 18 or 19, it was such a routine for him, he didn’t think about it. Gabe Howard: And this is an incredible point to bring up because you’re absolutely right. I was 25 years old when I was diagnosed and I had a choice. Chrisa Hickey: You have a parent who also has a mental illness or you have a parent who doesn’t understand it and is still trapped in that kind of stigma and blame cycle. The number one reason kids who die by suicide. I mean, children who die by suicide die because they weren’t in treatment. And the reason they weren’t in treatment is because their families didn’t want to believe there was something wrong with them. Gabe Howard: And why do you think that is? Chrisa Hickey: So I just think that when parents think a kid is depressed, I don’t think they understand. Suicide kills more kids than anything in the world except car accidents. I mean, it kills more kids than cancer and every birth defects combined. Suicide, depression. There’s “little d” depression like, you know, oh, my friends never call me, I’m so depressed. And then there’s “big D” Depression, which is clinical. And with all the stresses that kids are under now about, you know, achieving and getting into good schools and scholarships and student loans cost so much. And what am I going to do? That when a kid shows something that actually looks like clinical depression, they don’t want to believe it because if they believe it then that whole belief about what your child’s life was going to be, it’s shattered. You know, it’s something a lot of us parents have to go through if we have a kid with a mental illness. You actually go through a mourning period when you actually accept the fact that your child has a mental illness. That what I expected my kid to grow up to be and have for his own life is gone. When Tim was little, he was a gorgeous child. He loved to sing with the radio and everything. He talked about wanting to be a pilot. All kinds of stuff, you know. And when they told us he had schizophrenia and it really digested, it’s just you could almost hear the glass shatter and you go through an actual mourning period where you’re mourning someone who’s still alive. And you end up doing it more than once as you go through this whole cycle. And I think a lot of it is because these parents don’t want to have to think about what happens if. Gabe Howard: Because it’s scary and they don’t have anybody to talk to. Which is what you learned early on. You couldn’t just reach out to the other moms and dads and say, hey, I’m toilet training and it’s a nightmare. These are the things that parents do. These are the things that people do. We reach out to like minded people to share stories and get advice. But you didn’t have anybody to reach out to. And that was why you started blogging and that’s why you built a community. And that’s why you launched ParentsLikeUs.club, which I didn’t even know .club was a domain address. Chrisa Hickey: It is. Isn’t that cool? Yeah. Well, you know, when I started the blog and other parents were sharing their stories and I started sharing them on my blog as well. One of the moms there said, this is like a club. All these parents like us. We’re like this big club. And I’m like, Bing. There we go. This is what we are, we are this sad little club. So we kind of formalized the name. And I had a section of my website just for the Parents Like US Club, where people can share their own stories anonymously or not anonymously. It is totally up to them. And then over the years, a friend wanted to start a support group on Facebook. So I helped her with that. We have a support group, a closed support group on Facebook that has now over almost ten thousand parents in it with all different kinds of brain disorders, not just mental illness, but kids with autism and other things as well. We wanted to formalize it, help people even more. You know, navigating medical staff and the job stuff when you’re an adult is one thing. Now you’ve got a kid. You’ve got to navigate school and you’ve got to navigate doctors and you’ve got to navigate a lot of times the criminal justice system. How do you navigate these things and how can we help parents that don’t know where to start? So we formed the 501(c)f(3) charity, Parents Like Us Club and we’re doing three things. We’re giving a platform for parents to be able to share stories. However they want to share. Video, they can give us blog post, they can do an audio. Be anonymous, not be anonymous, whatever. Chrisa Hickey: Because we know and you know, as we share our stories, it’s important for the public, other parents, and especially for us clinicians to hear these stories and understand what families are living through. The second one is to give find resources for parents, because the reason I started my blog was I had to do research from scratch and I didn’t want anyone else to have to do research from scratch when you’re dealing with that. So how can we get all the resources out there? So they’re available and they’re indexed and you can find them when you Google it, you can find us and we can get different clinicians and people to actually go into a directory and tell us they actually specialize in helping kids. And the third thing is we’re going to be giving micro grants to families that need them to have professional advocacy work with them locally when they go to an IEP meeting at school or they’re going to see a new psychiatrist for the first time, or they have to go down and sit down with a lawyer and talk about the juvenile justice system because, A, it helps to have a neutral third party that is really an expert to take that emotion out of it and really understand what your rights are and your child’s rights are, and B, what’s the best course of action for your kid and what you want to get out of them. So those are the three things we’re trying to accomplish, but we’re [unintelligible] this year, so we’re just getting off the ground. Gabe Howard: I think it’s absolutely incredible. You know, when I was diagnosed, again, I was 25 years old and my parents and my grandparents reached out to meet other families, other family members who had, you know, family members who had mental illness, who had, in my case, bipolar disorder. And again, I wasn’t a child. You’re actually right. It’s you know, my parents were scared. My grandparents were scared. My family was scared. And they reached out to get that help. And I’m so thankful that they were able to find it. They’re in a big city. And there was support groups for this. The thing I like about your organization is it’s on the Internet. Like my parents aren’t shy. My grandparents weren’t shy. They started calling emergency rooms and therapists that, like where’s a group? We’re willing to get in our car and drive. But I talked to so many people that are like, oh, we’re not going to go to that support group meeting. We’re not going to walk in there. Somebody might see us. Or they’re in a small town. I don’t want to say that is your support group anonymous or is your club anonymous? But there is a certain layer of anonymity to it because it’s online. Or can you sort of talk about that a little bit? Chrisa Hickey: There is and you know, obviously there’s always the option to be anonymous when you’re online. I think what a lot of parents do is, you know, you think about and again, it all kind of comes back to that stigma we’re all ingrained with. The worst part, I think for kids, too, is a lot of clinicians fall into the stigma category. So it’s like the reason Tim’s therapist was timid diagnosing him as schizophrenic is because they didn’t want to put it on the chart. You know, it’s on their permanent record kind of thing, whereas I’m like, you know, like I care. But a lot of parents are worried about that. They’re like, you know, I don’t want to hurt my kids’ chances to get to college. Maybe you work at a job one day, so I don’t want to put their name on the Internet and associate it with a mental illness. That’s fine. You don’t have to. But the nice thing about it being online is we talk about kids with serious mental illness and we talk about serious. We classify that as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and severe clinical depression. So those are the diseases for kids that become fatal, frankly, as far as mental illness goes. If you take a look at the pool of people in the United States, just because that’s where I know best, if you’re talking about schizophrenia, 100 kids a year get diagnosed. Chrisa Hickey: Small pool. Bipolar disorder, I or II or other type for kids, becoming less common because now there’s other DSM 5 things for it. But you get about two to three thousand kids a year get diagnosed with that. Severe depression, much more at 10 to 15 thousand kids a year, kids with severe depression. And that’s every year. So you’re talking, I don’t know, 20,000 people that need to find each other in the three hundred and fifty million people in America. I don’t have a choice but to go to the Internet. I mean, if I was back in the days, you know, when the NAMI moms were all starting to get together. I would’ve been screwed. My son, we lived in Chicago, not a small town. When my son was diagnosed and his psychiatrist, who was the head of child psychiatry for one of the largest mental health groups in Chicago, said Tim was the most severe case he’d ever seen. And he was 65 years old. And all I could think of was first my thought was, oh, great, my kid is, like you said, some sort of record for being whacked. But then the other thing I thought was how few and far between is it that my kid is the only one this guy in the second largest city in the country has ever seen? Gabe Howard: And how lucky are you? You know, that’s the thing that goes through my mind. How lucky are you that you live in Chicago? Could you imagine if you lived in rural Ohio or or just anyplace rural? Chrisa Hickey: Where we live now. Yeah. Now we live in rural Wisconsin. Yeah. Gabe Howard: Yeah. Is there and I don’t mean this in any insult to anybody that lives in rural America, but there’s not gigantic hospitals in rural areas. There’s just not enough people. Chrisa Hickey: No. So now I live in very northeastern Wisconsin, very, I mean, my town is 300 people. So if we had lived here when he was 11 and he was, we had to figure out what’s going on with him at that age. I would have had to go to Madison, Wisconsin, which is four and a half hours away, to even get come close to finding a clinician. And then when I got to Madison, the average wait in Madison right now for a first appointment with a child psychiatrist is 17 weeks. Gabe Howard: 17 weeks, and we’re hearing that all of the time. This isn’t new news to anybody who’s done even the most basic mental health advocacy, that the wait times to see professionals are there so long. They’re insane. They’re insane. Chrisa Hickey: They’re terrible. You know, a child psychiatrist is even rarer than a psychiatrist. So because it takes more schooling, right? If I go to school and go to medical school and become a doctor and then I go to my specialty and I become a psychiatrist to become a child psychiatrist, I’ve invested in even more time. And it’s not like they’re gonna make any more money being a child psychiatrist. So there’s really no incentive for them to do that. So there’s the shortage. Gabe Howard: I am so glad that you were in a place where you could advocate for Tim. How is he doing now? You know, we’ve heard a lot about his childhood. I know that he’s almost 25 years old now. What is Tim’s adult life now? Chrisa Hickey: It’s good. So we did move to rural Wisconsin. We moved back to the town my husband grew up in, actually, and the number one reason we moved here is because this is a much better environment for Tim than in Chicago. There’s too much stimulus in Chicago. There’s too many ways to get trouble in Chicago. And he’s very anonymous in Chicago. Here in this town, Tim is able to live in his own apartment because he only lives a mile away so we can help him when he needs help. He has a small part time job with a family friend who has resort cottages. So he’s got some sheltered work where if he’s having a bad day and he can’t show up, it’s no big deal. He can come to work everyday. And if he misses a day, no problem. He has friends here. We live right on Lake Michigan. He goes swimming in the lake in the summertime. And he has his own dog now and he has his bike and he rides all over town and everybody knows Tim. He really is a happy person. And he’s very, very stable. And a lot of the reason he’s stable is because he has an environment that supports him, because we’re in a small town where my husband grew up, we’re not anonymous here. It’s like having 200 extra hands to help watch him. Couple weeks ago, you probably know he messed up his meds a little bit, ended up in an emergency room. The paramedics all showed up when he had a problem with it because he lives across the street from the fire department. And, they know, know him personally. When he got to the emergency room, he knows the nurse there because she’s a neighbor. And, you know, when he was having an off day, I’ll get a phone call from one of his neighbors. You know, have you seen or talked to Tim today? He seems a little off. So we’ve created this environment for him where he’s very insulated. And I know that not only now at twenty five, but when he’s 55 and I’m no longer around, he’s still going to be safe and happy here. Gabe Howard: Chrisa, this has been absolutely wonderful. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for starting the nonprofit. And I don’t know if Tim has ever thanked you. But as somebody who lives with mental illness, you know, moms like you, parents like you, family members like you, they make such a big difference. It made a big difference in my recovery. And I know it made a big difference in Tim’s as well. So thank you so much for everything that you do. Chrisa Hickey: Thank you. And thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. Gabe Howard: Hey, it was my pleasure and thank you, everyone, for tuning in. Remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, just by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. We will see everybody next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Psych Central Podcast. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/show or on your favorite podcast player. To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at GabeHoward.com. PsychCentral.com is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, PsychCentral.com offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at PsychCentral.com. If you have feedback about the show, please email show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening and please share widely. View the full article
  9. Phobiasupportforum

    When All Else Fails: Hold Steady

    There is no shortage in today’s world of methods for treating depression. Ranging from a regime of medication to more naturalistic approaches that rely on identifying sensitivities of diet and exercise. It is great to have all these options and more to choose from, because everyone is different and different methods work for different people. But management of many different approaches can become exhausting and what about when they simply don’t work? For someone who struggles with cyclical depression, the heavy return of symptoms can seem to compound suffering even more. It feels like you work so hard, do all the right things, push yourself to the limit, seek all the resources, do all the work, confront the self-discovery, only to feel as though you are brought back to square one, hiding under the covers from your day to day life again. It can feel like nothing is working. It can feel like wasted effort. It can feel like making no progress. The pattern is almost more frustrating than the condition itself. If you find yourself returning to this valley, discouraged by seemingly ineffective solutions, remember that sometimes, all you can do is steady yourself with these basic truths: It’s Symptomatic The feelings of discouragement you are battling are actually part of the condition itself. Hopelessness is a tool of depression, a symptom. It is not proof that things have gone wrong, or that you aren’t working hard enough, but instead, it’s a deceptive lens depression pulls over our perspective that can darken even the brightest of days. Acknowledging and understanding that this is how depression operates can give you a healthier vantage point from which to cope. When we remind ourselves the hopelessness we feel is only a symptom, we remove its power over us. Everyone Has Something Another little lie depression likes to tell is that you are alone in your suffering, that everyone else is steadily progressing, while you are the only one falling behind, unable to get past your own failures. Social media is especially good at highlighting only the positive attributes of life, leaving us with an impression that all of our friends have it all together. But everyone, every day, is struggling with something. It may be radically different from your experience, but it is still difficult. We all have moments that feel never ending and problems that seem insurmountable. We just don’t always post them on Facebook. You are not alone. Expect Progress Not Perfection If your expectations are unrealistic to begin with, the chances increase you’ll wind up frustrated. Some amount of depression and anxiety are normal for the human experience, they are part of what make us human, so we can never be totally without them. Give yourself compassion and appreciation for the incremental progress you have made. Draw your attention to the inventory of positive steps you’ve taken lately. Resist discounting small victories like washing the dishes, walking the dog, or following through on a social commitment because these little wins are what add up over time to create long lasting positive change. Things Will Change Ancient philosopher Heraclitus was quoted as saying, “you cannot step twice into the same stream.” Even though what you are feeling may be familiar, it could not be exactly the same as before — and it will not be the same again. There are always new, different variables that influence our present moment. Sometimes, there is no quick tip or fast cure to fast forward through the pain, but we can always steady ourselves, allow the rough waters pass through, the storm clouds to move out, and know in our hearts a new day will rise with new opportunities, new potential, and new perspective. Maybe you even adopt a mantra for yourself during these times. Repeating a brief word or phrase that is meaningful to you can be a powerful way to connect with your internal grounding and steady yourself when you start to feel the familiar feelings of discouragement arise. It can help bring back your focus, if you feel yourself getting swept away in despair. Here’s one to try: Hold Steady. View the full article
  10. Rebecca Jo Manzella, 31, of Mount Clemens, was diagnosed with bipolar depression her junior year of high school. Lithium, the medication doctors prescribed for her, was the game changer. Its therapeutic benefits allowed her to return to her studies and continue to maintain healthy relationships with family and friends. View the full article
  11. Phobiasupportforum

    Stress may cause vocal disorders

    Do you feel anxious about talking in front of the crowd and feel as if there’s a frog in your throat? New reseach says that stress may be the culprit for such vocal issues. View the full article
  12. A study has found that anorexia nervosa may have a metabolic component that makes some patients lose weight more easily and be harder to treat. View the full article
  13. Phobiasupportforum

    Podcast: Religion and Mental Illness

    From leisure activities to politics to relationships, people tend to be influenced by their religious beliefs. In this episode, Gabe and Michelle discuss the pros and cons of religious influence when it comes to treating mental illness and explore whether it is helpful when trying to reach recovery. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW “They are dead (by suicide) and we are still stigmatizing their behavior.” – Gabe Highlights from ‘Religion and Mental Illness’ Episode [2:00] The intersection of religion and mental illness. [4:30] How the Jewish faith views mental illness. [10:00] How Christianity views mental illness. [16:00] Do all religions accept people with mental illness? [20:00] Is spirituality a valid treatment option? Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Religion and Mental Illness’ Show Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Announcer: Announcer: For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Gabe: Welcome to a very serious episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. My name is Gabe Howard. I live with bipolar disorder Michelle: Hi, I’m Michelle and I’m schizophrenic. Gabe: I was gonna tell everybody you were dead. That was my whole plan. It was gonna be like, “Sadly, Michelle is no longer with us.” Michelle: That’s not funny, Gabe. Gabe: I mean it’s a little funny. Why do you assume that you’re dead like in the no longer exists? Since maybe you’re just dead to me? Michelle: No. Gabe: People who have listened to this show are fully expecting one of us to kill the other. So I think that at some point you’ve got to give the people what they want. Michelle: I don’t think that’s what the people want. Gabe: I brought up death because you know death quickly leads into religion and religion is one of those things that is sort of a double edged sword for people because a lot of people struggling with mental health issues living with mental illness whether depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety. They talk about how their faith has led them to wellness. So we want to acknowledge that right away before we trash religion for the next 20 minutes. Because there is this other side where religion has caused a lot of damage. This is a buffet. Take what you want and leave the rest. Michelle: Is it a Chinese buffet? Because I like a Chinese buffet with a Mongolian wok. Gabe: Ok. But do you eat every single thing on the Chinese buffet? Michelle: No. Well no because I’m allergic to shellfish. Gabe: Ok. So there are things on the Chinese buffet that you don’t like? Michelle: That’s right. Gabe: Do you stand in front of that thing and start screaming that you hate it or do you just focus your attention on the items that you like? Michelle: Oh you know like the chicken lo mein? I’m all about that. Gabe: Right. So isn’t it funny that on the internet nobody goes for the proverbial chicken lo mein? They all stand in front of the shellfish screaming and that brings me around to my point that if religion is working for you, if spirituality is working for you if you are living better in spite of a mental health challenge, and utilizing religion spirituality etc then hey this show is not for you. But there are many people who are hindered by religion in their recovery. Michelle: Let’s do it, Gabe. I think we should chat about it. Gabe: Let’s establish some ground rules. First I was raised Catholic. I am now an atheist. You, Michelle, were raised Jewish. And I have no idea what you are now. Michelle: I’m a. Gabe: New Yorker I guess? Michelle: I’m a cultural Jew. Gabe: A cultural Jew? What’s a cultural Jew? Michelle: A cultural Jew is where you really don’t celebrate the holidays but you identify as a Jew and you celebrate holidays meaning you have food on the holidays. Gabe: I can get behind that. Michelle: Yeah. You just don’t go to temple anymore. Gabe: I am a cultural Catholic because there is not a holiday out there that I will not eat food. In fact I’m going to become a Catholic Jew so that I can have two holidays and I can get double food. Michelle: You know what? I can agree with that. Gabe: Excellent. Do you want to become a Jewish Catholic so that you too can have double food? Michelle: Well I kind of want to celebrate this capitalist Christmas. Gabe: I love capitalist Christmas. As you know I dress like Santa so I am really into it because Santa is the spokesperson for capitalist Christmas. Michelle: And you get to yell at people. Gabe: I mean nothing says love like a guy breaking into your house and leaving you shit. Michelle: And just yelling, “Ho, ho, ho,” everywhere. Just calling people hos. Gabe: Ho, ho, ho! Michelle: Just calling everyone a ho. Gabe: Ho, ho, ho! Michelle: You’re really good at calling people hos there, Gabe. Gabe: Hey you’ve heard the hyper sexuality episode. It’s a thing. Michelle: Ho ho ho ho. I think I can go around doing that to people ho ho ho. Gabe: I mean yeah, if you trim up your beard and mustache a little. It’s getting a little long. Michelle: Fuck you. Gabe: From your experience as a person living with schizophrenia and what you have seen in your community, how open is the Jewish faith to the concept of mental illness? What are the teachings? What do they say? Michelle: Well it’s interesting. With mental illness and Jewishness it’s kind of a weird kind of a thing because it’s kind of like the media plays up the Jews as very anxious and neurotic. And it’s a hugely Jewish stereotype and you see it in a lot of films like the neurotic Jew. And it’s really just a stereotype. And when I was looking up a lot of things about Jews and mental illness and I found like studies and it said that this study found that Jews suffer from certain mental illnesses at higher rates including major depression, dysthymia, schizophrenia, phobia but had lower rates of others including alcoholism. And they also saw mental illnesses in Jews and other people can be higher if they’ve suffered traumatic events in the past. Think about like oh the trauma of like maybe the Holocaust? Things like that which could have turned Jews into this more neurotic kind of way. What do you think about that? Gabe: I think that you googled and it’s always fascinating when Michelle googles because if you google long enough you’re going to find out that all Jews have cancer. Because all medical conditions lead to cancer on the Internet. But I like what you said there about that neurotic Jew because think of like Woody Allen and when it comes to famous Jewish people you know Woody Allen is a really big example because I think he plays into the stereotype intentionally. You know he’s always doing these as you said, stereotypical neurotic Jewish things. And that probably helped his career a lot in the 70s and 80s because after all if you are the stereotype then nobody has to be afraid of you everybody knows you. And it sort of led to this kind of cutesy caricature. But you’re right. In actuality Woody Allen has a really serious anxiety disorder. Like how does he leave his house? He’s afraid of everything. But we all saw that as comedy. But in actuality that’s pretty serious, right? Michelle: It is serious but really it’s just a stereotype. He built up a stereotype everybody just built that stereotype of these neurotic Jews and they’re all nervous all the time and I think things are gonna go wrong. And even if you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm Larry David is all very like you know. Oh things are going to go wrong what am I going to say and he finds himself in these like ridiculous situations where you said things he wasn’t supposed to say. Things always go wrong because of Larry David saying the wrong thing in his messed up kind of a mind of who knows what he’s going to do and he says it. You know what I’m saying about Larry David’s show? Come on? Gabe: Yeah. Oh no I completely agree. And if we just look at our relationship so I’m not Jewish. You are Jewish and you don’t care about anything. Like right before we go on, you’re backstage you’re like sitting in the back with your feet up half asleep and I’m like circling the building at a thousand miles an hour just waiting for it to catch on fire. So it really should be the opposite I should be like calm and laid back and chill because that’s my stereotype I’m a white male I have it all put together and you should be neurotic for a number of stereotypical reasons. You know female being at the top you know Jewish being second. Schizophrenia is a strong third. But you’re relatively laid back and relaxed I don’t. I never really see you panic. Michelle: That’s a very good point. I think my panic is more internal. It’s more in my head of oh am I going to mess this up? Is this going to go right? I hope it goes well. But what if it doesn’t go well? Oh well but I think I think I know what I’m going to say so I hope it does the right thing. If I mess up, I mess up, you know. It happens. It is what it is I accept everything for what it is. So that’s why I’m kind of OK with it. Gabe: And that is very very healthy. But now let’s move to more scary topics. If somebody dies by suicide how does the Jewish faith handle that. Michelle: That’s a very good question. I don’t think that the Jewish faith really likes that too much but there are not. Gabe: Well I don’t I don’t think anybody likes suicide. I don’t think there’s a group out there that’s pro suicide but I mean are you allowed to be buried in a Jewish cemetery or are you allowed to have your funeral in a Jewish temple? Do they tell your whole family that you’re burning in hell? What’s that kind of. Because we’re gonna get to Christianity in a minute and there’s all kinds of fucked up messages over on that side. Michelle: No. No you can be buried in a Jewish cemetery if you kill yourself and that whole thing about tattoos and Jewish cemeteries. That’s really just a lie. Have you heard that stereotype, Gabe? Gabe: No. Michelle: There’s this like big lie that if you’re if you have a tattoo you can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery. And that is one of the biggest myths and is a huge myth and people believe it for some reason it’s a complete lie because the people who have always said, “Oh no, if ever you have a tattoo you can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery.” And I’ve always thought. Think about it the body goes to the cemetery. Do you think they really check the body for tattoos and say oh no this body cannot be buried here? Like that’s just the dumbest belief ever. And people have really said that to me. People really believe that. And it’s a complete lie. Gabe: What if it’s a stupid tattoo though? Michelle: Doesn’t matter. And if because the whole thing is you borrow your body I don’t really get it either but you borrow your body therefore you’re not supposed to make any permanent things on your body yet. Earrings are allowed. Gabe: But earrings aren’t permanent, you can take them out. Michelle: But they leave a hole. Gabe: That is very true. You know Michelle I don’t need to explain to you that Christianity is the biggest religion in America. Michelle: Yes. Gabe: More people associate with Christianity than any other religion including people who absolutely have never set foot in a church will claim Christianity as their religion the teachings surrounding mental illness and suicide are scary. And again to be fair not every single Christian religion, because there are many of them share this. But there are some that that teach things like if your loved one died by suicide, they will burn in hell for all eternity and they cannot have their funeral in this church and they cannot be buried in your church’s cemetery. Which is like, I mean the person is dead. So you’re not really doing anything to them what you’re doing is making their families suffer needlessly. And it’s just so incredibly cruel. Michelle: Yes. That’s horrible. Good things Jews don’t believe in hell. Woo! Gabe: Well but where do you go when you die? Are you able to go to the same place? Does the Jewish faith care how you die? Are there different restrictions based on your death to what happens to you in the heavenly plane or the afterlife? Or does it just not matter? Dead is dead? Michelle: Well from what I understand there is a purgatory for one year. And yet once you complete your one year of purgatory you then go up to heaven. Everybody goes up to heaven unless you are a horrible person like Stalin or Hitler, where you go to purgatory and then your soul dissipates and you never make it anywhere else. Gabe: What if you’re a horrible person like Michelle hammer? Michelle: No. Gabe: Like just one year in purgatory and you’re good? Michelle: No, I’m not a horrible person. I would go straight to heaven. You go to heaven and then you, and then you can live again in a new life. Gabe: So like reincarnation? Like could someone come back as a dog? Michelle: I don’t know about a dog but you can live again as like a human I believe. Gabe: So that means there is a possibility that your grandmother Blanche is out there? Michelle: Well they’ve been pretty soon but yeah I mean maybe Blanche might be living again. Who knows? Gabe: All joking aside the bottom line is if you die by suicide the Jewish faith community will support the family. Your funeral stays exactly the same. You’re buried in exactly the same place. And the afterlife works exactly the same way. There’s no extra teaching surrounding dying by suicide or dying by mental illness in the Jewish faith. Michelle: That is what I believe. If I am wrong I apologize but that is what I am pretty sure of. And I did look up a lot of stuff about just you know a mental illness in the Torah and it was very interesting. They were saying things like mental illness can lead to sin or sinning can lead to mental illness. Hold up one sec. We’ve got to hear from our sponsor. Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist, whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Michelle: And in an effort to get a whole bunch of angry letters we’re back talking about religion. Gabe: As you know, Michelle, the Jewish faith is a minority in America. The largest faith in America is Christianity and Christianity comes in all different sects for example. I’m Catholic which is a Christian religion, my father is Presbyterian which is a Christian religion and Catholics and Presbyterians believe very different things and they believe a lot of the same things. So it’s really difficult to have a conversation about how Christianity feels about suicide. But there are large portions, not the majority I really don’t think. But but large enough to cause real damage that believe that people who die by suicide who die from their mental illness cannot get into heaven. They cannot be buried in Christian cemeteries. They cannot have Christian funerals and they tell their family members they’re going to burn in hell for all eternity. Michelle: That’s not OK. That’s not ok at all. That’s really not OK. I don’t I don’t like that. I don’t like anything about that and I don’t like that happens. Where can you be buried then? Like in a non faith cemetery? What if you have family members that are buried in that cemetery? You can’t be buried next to them? That’s not OK. Gabe: It’s just an example of where the stigma against people with mental illness continues into their death. That person is now dead. Let let’s be clear. They’re dead. It’s over. They’re dead and we’re still stigmatizing their behavior. We’re still telling their family members that this person is bad. And here’s the concept that I have trouble wrapping my mind around in Christianity we have this belief that you cannot sin accidentally sinning has to be willful. You have to want to do it. The second thing that we have is that anything can be forgiven literally anything can be forgiven. Remember Michelle: Right. Gabe: Christians Michelle: Right. Gabe: Aren’t perfect. They’re just forgiven. Michelle: Right. Gabe: Yet for some reason. Michelle: God always forgives. Gabe: Reason when it comes to mental illness you did it on purpose and you can’t be forgiven the end. Michelle: God always forgives. God always forgives. That’s what I learned. God always forgives. Gabe: Listen if you talk to the majority of Christian faith leaders that believe this kind of thing that believe that people who die by suicide cannot have church funerals cannot be buried in their church cemetery. They firmly believe that a murderer can be redeemed that a murderer on death row has a better shot at redemption than a person who dies by suicide because of mental illness. And that’s just that’s just so incredibly sad because let’s back that up a couple of steps. If that’s their belief after you die imagine what their belief is while you were alive. Let’s talk about some of the horror stories that we’ve heard there. We know a woman who suffers from schizophrenia childhood schizophrenia. She started showing symptoms at age 14 and when she was 17 years old she was given a three day exorcism to Michelle: Right. Gabe: Treat schizophrenia. Michelle: Right. Right. Gabe: Can you imagine the trauma? Michelle: I can’t and I can’t believe that she went through that and then. No I can’t I can’t imagine the trauma because it’s so absurd. I can’t imagine what she went through. Gabe: And now she’s you know 35 years old and she’s OK. I mean you know she still lives with schizophrenia. But could you imagine if she would have thought that it worked and would have wandered around saying, “I’m cured now?” Michelle: Right. Gabe: So she’d be a person living with schizophrenia. Untreated. Except, she now believes wholeheartedly that she’s cured so she wouldn’t be seeking help because, after all, God cured her. Thankfully that did not happen. She realized it didn’t work. God did not help and now, because of things like you know medication and therapy and medical intervention and coping skills and experience she’s living a good life. But what if she would have believed the church? Michelle: Yes. Gabe: If she would have she would have believed that the exorcism worked? Oh my God Michelle: Yeah. Gabe: Could you imagine? Michelle: Yeah. Something I was reading online was when this Orthodox family was speaking to a psychiatrist and the father this orthodox man was yelling at his daughter who was schizophrenic and she was he was saying to her you know, “Obey the Fifth Commandment. Honor thy father and thy mother. Honor thy father and mother. You are not obeying the fifth commandment.” And she’s schizophrenic and she’s just laying there just sitting there just being a schizophrenic not understanding and he’s just yelling honor thy father and mother, you are not obeying the Fifth Commandment and she can’t. She’s schizophrenic. So what is she supposed to do? He is not understanding. She is not understanding. What’s supposed to happen? You know you can’t just bring God into it when it’s mental illness. Gabe: And what is it scary to consider is that the father in that scenario one is not being malicious not being bad. He really does believe that this is the solution and he believes it because it’s ordained by God. Michelle: Right. Gabe: He believes that he is following the almighty and just yelling at his sick daughter. This isn’t an example of somebody being mean or malicious but it’s an absolute example of somebody being ignorant and not understanding how medicine works. And can you imagine if you removed schizophrenia and changed it with cancer? Stop having cancer obey your fifth commandment stop having cancer you’re not obeying your mother and father be cured of your cancer. Does that sound ridiculous? Michelle: Yes it absolutely does sound ridiculous. Gabe: But when you replace cancer with schizophrenia people are like, “Well, if she’d listened, she’d have a better life.” Michelle: This is an example of where we need medical intervention and not just religious intervention. So honoring thy father and mother and by not doing that does not mean you’re not following religion. It means you need medical help. Gabe: And this is the problem when religion permeates a culture because so many people when I teach classes I’m like OK. If somebody is having a mental health crisis where can they go. And we get examples that are that are really good you can call 911, you can go to a psychiatrist, you can go to a psychologist. But somebody always says you know priest rabbi spiritual leader minister. And it’s so hard to give pushback because they think that I’m being disrespectful to religion and I’m not a priest a rabbi a minister they’re all excellent for your spiritual needs but they’re not doctors. Religion has a lane that it needs to stay in. And again I know that God is always in our hearts and we carry him with us. And it really does permeate our culture. But nobody would think it was OK to refuse treatment to an 8 year old with leukemia because everybody is praying; they would think that that was horrible. But yet for some reason in our society we have religious leaders right now that are trying to pray the symptoms of mental illness out of people. And it’s incredibly dangerous and we know a woman who lives with severe bipolar disorder that was on her medication that was stable and she was going to church to improve her life. And when the minister found out told her to stop taking all of her meds because God had cured her and she believed him. And within a few months she went right to crisis where she could have died and it took her another couple of years to be stabilized. Think of the damage that that caused her. And she’s now fine. Everything is OK. All of my examples. Everybody is living well but can you imagine if she had died by suicide in those couple of years nobody would have blamed religion. Nobody would have blamed the minister. They all would have blamed her. They would have said that she was a bad person that couldn’t be buried in their cemetery. And her family would be left to suffer without the supports of their religious community. And these are the things that we need to change. Michelle: Dude, even more so than that even bringing up cancer. I had a cousin living in Israel, older than me in her 60s. She did not believe in modern medicine and she got cancer. So she believes in praying away the cancer. She’s dead. Gabe: And I don’t think that anybody hearing that story expected it to end any other way. Michelle: Yes. Gabe: But if you remove cancer and replace it with bipolar disorder everybody’s like, “Well how did it turn out?” How the fuck did you think it turned out? The message that I just want to leave everybody with and I’m so sincere about this. Nobody is saying there’s anything wrong with religion but religion is not a cure or even a treatment for mental illness. It is possible that it could be one of the tools that you use to cope with your life because it is Michelle: True Gabe: A coping mechanism. Michelle: It is I do have my western wall story where I do believe God spoke to me. People can think whatever they want but I do believe I had a divine moment at the Western Wall in Israel. I do believe. Gabe: And I am not going to disavow you of that notion unless you said that God told you that he cured your schizophrenia and to stop taking your medication? Michelle: Did not happen. That was not what was said. Gabe: But you live with schizophrenia and you have psychosis and sometimes you hear voices. How do you know which ones are delusions and auditory hallucinations? And which ones are God advising you? Michelle: I touched that wall, closed my eyes thought about some stuff, and then all the sudden I felt a power go shooting through my head, shooting through my arms and into the wall. Nothing like that has ever happened to me before and I never had a more moment of complete clarity in my life. Gabe: Thank you for sharing that. And that makes sense to me. I mean as much as it can. You know I wasn’t there I did not experience this. I’m not pro or con. What you’re saying. I believe you and I respect what you went through. But you know to play devil’s advocate and to kind of be a dick for a minute what if you told me that God told you that you’re supposed to vape? Or that God told you that you’re supposed to drink? Or that God told you to stop taking your meds? Michelle: Well, no. It was positive it was positive it was positive. I was thinking what’s the most important thing I need to do? I’m at the Western Wall. Gabe: Ok. Forget about the Western Wall. Michelle: What’s the most important thing? Gabe: Forget about the Western Wall. Forget the Western Wall. You have had dozens of years of auditory hallucinations and delusions. You are a schizophrenic. You live with schizophrenia. You have all of the hallucinations and delusions that come with that diagnosis. How do you know that all of them are not God? Michelle: Because I know they’re not. Gabe: How? Michelle: They’re not God, they’re not because I can. I know I just know. Gabe: So we have friends who live with schizophrenia. What would you, Michelle Hammer, say if one of those friends said, “Hey this morning God spoke to me and God told me to stop taking my medication?” Michelle: I would say you should still take your medication anyway. Gabe: But God told her not to. Michelle: That’s different Gabe: Why? Michelle: Because. Gabe: Would God lie to her? Michelle: They weren’t at the. They were not at the Western Wall. Gabe: Stop saying that! Michelle: And that’s detrimental. Gabe: Well how do people separate the difference between auditory hallucinations and the voice of God in their head? That’s the question. Leave the western wall out of it. Michelle: Because how is it going to benefit your life? I think if God is going to benefit your life in some way I think God would only speak to you to benefit your life. Gabe: But the Lord works in mysterious ways you don’t know how it’s gonna benefit until you obey the word of God in your head and stop taking your pills like he so commanded in his gentle and loving way. Michelle: Well, did he come to you in a burning was it was it a burning bush? Did the burning bush tell you to stop? Gabe: That’s an STD. That’s a completely different thing. Michelle: Moses. Moses, I shall part the Red Sea. Moses. Gabe: Listen we can we can absolutely go on forever with this line. But it is a problem, it is a a real problem. Imagine that you’re a 25 year old woman who was raised very religious. Or a twenty five year old man who is raised very religious and you have had you know visions and hallucinations and delusions your entire life. What if one of them you mistake for God? It’s not like he signs his e-mails. How do you know? This is a real problem for people sincerely in the research for this show and in talking to people people told me they’re like I thought my delusions were God. I thought God was telling me to quit my job because it was in my best interest. But all that happened is I lost my job. God told me to leave my wife. These are all real stories that I’m looking at of people who thought they were doing God’s will but in actuality they were responding to a hallucination and a delusion. How were they to know that? Michelle: I think God would only tell you to do things that are positive in your life. I don’t think God would try to do something detrimental in your life. I think that’s the difference. I think a negative voice would not be God. I only think something positive would come from a god voice in my opinion. That’s my opinion. Gabe: And further to go back to your western wall story it wasn’t it wasn’t just a voice that you heard. It was an all encompassing feeling all over Michelle: Yes. Gabe: Your body. From the tip of your toes to the top of your head you knew there was no doubt in your mind. It wasn’t. You were pretty sure it was the only thing that felt that way and the only thing that ever felt that way. Michelle: Yes. Gabe: I know that a lot of people described it with their hallucinations and their delusions and all of the stuff they were going through a schizophrenia that they were picking and choosing that you know this one is a delusion. This one is an auditory hallucination, this one is a visual hallucination. Oh look this one’s from God but in reality all of them were exactly the same. They just decided for whatever reason that this one was from God. And that was an excellent indicator for them that it wasn’t. It was just part of their illness process and they worked with their doctors and they found faith leaders who understood mental illness and didn’t overstep their bounds. And that’s really what we’re getting at, right? We just want faith to stay in its lane. We want religion to stay in its lane. We don’t let doctors preach the Word of God. Why are we letting religious people give us medical advice? There’s nothing wrong with either side and until they cross over and that’s what we want people to do to be well because some of these are scary. And I only use the ones where everybody turned out completely OK. Everybody is completely OK thank you all they’ve all gone on to lead great lives and they all say the same thing. Religion has its place but not in the treatment or cure of mental illness. Michelle: Agreed. I agree with that. Religion has its place. Take everything in a positive light. Don’t bring yourself down if you think you’re not obeying the laws of the Ten Commandments. You’re OK. Just because you have a mental illness does not make you some sort of hell demon in God’s eyes, you’re all good. You’re not a bad person if you’ve a mental illness, you are not afflicted by the sins of God or anything like that. You’re good. OK? You’re good. Gabe: Thank you everybody for tuning into this week’s episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. My name is Gabe Howard, I live with bipolar disorder and Michelle Hammer who is a kick ass artist lives with schizophrenia. I’d say look behind her and see all of her great art, but this podcast is an auditory hallucination. We will see everybody next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episode, don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe, rate, and review. To work with Gabe, go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle, go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups, head over to PsychCentral.com. This show’s official web site is PsychCentral.com/BSP. You can e-mail us at show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening, and share widely. Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com. MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC. View the full article
  14.  One of the most dangerous misconceptions about suicide is that asking a loved one if they are suicidal will increase the odds that they will attempt suicide. Today Dr. Nate Ivers of Wake Forest University discusses the importance of making “the covert overt” by asking blunt, straightforward questions of those you suspect may be thinking about suicide. What words should you use, and if the answer is yes, what should you do next? And why are we so uncomfortable about asking these potentially lifesaving questions? Find out on this episode. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW Guest information for ‘Discussing Suicide’ Podcast Episode Dr. Nathaniel Ivers is the department chairman and an associate professor in the Department of Counseling at Wake Forest University. His research interests include bilingual counseling; culture; terror management theory; existentialism; counseling with Spanish-speaking immigrants; and wellness. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Discussing Suicide’ 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: Welcome to the Psych Central Podcast, where each episode features guest experts discussing psychology and mental health in every day plain language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard. Dr. Nate Ivers: Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Podcast. We are here today talking with Dr. Nate Ivers, who is the department chair and associate professor at Wake Forest University. Specifically, we are going to be discussing how to openly talk about suicide in our communities. Nate, welcome to the show. Dr. Nate Ivers: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate you inviting me to be here and for allowing me to talk about something so very important. Gabe Howard: Well we appreciate you being here as well. Suicide is one of those things that absolutely everybody has heard of. We all know about it and believe it or not we’re all talking about it just generally incorrectly. You’re a doctor who studies and research is this. Why do people get it so wrong? Because it’s not a concept that people are unfamiliar with. Dr. Nate Ivers: Right. I think everybody unfortunately has been affected or touched by suicide. But yes there are lots of misconceptions. I think one of the major misconceptions is the thought that those who commit suicide really wanted to die. I think there are some instances where people do indeed want to die but most often the reason why people decide that they are going to go forward with committing suicide is because they feel so much pain and they feel so much hopelessness and helplessness related to their situation and they just want that pain to go away. Gabe Howard: I can really relate to that as someone who has had bouts of depression and been suicidal myself. I’ve said that since I reached recovery it’s not my life that I wanted to end it was the pain that I wanted to end and I saw no path forward. Dr. Nate Ivers: Right. Yeah. Yeah. Gabe Howard: And that’s one of the reasons I’m so interested in how to discuss suicide and wanting to die with the public because there’s many many many misconceptions floating around and one of the biggest ones that persists is that asking someone if they are suicidal will put the idea in their head and make them want to do it. How do you respond to that? Dr. Nate Ivers: It is a great question and I think that’s one of the fears that sometimes we have about trying to help someone who’s going through this sort of pain but all indicators suggest that talking to someone about suicide is not planted in their brain. In fact it’s the opposite when people are experiencing such pain to the point where they’re considering suicide. They very often are reaching out for help. Sometimes they’re doing it very directly by saying I am considering harming myself and so they broach the topic, they name the taboo. But many times it is sort of metaphorical they’ll say I just I just can’t keep doing this. I feel like I keep digging a hole and I can’t get out or I just want to walk into the ocean I just want to keep walking instead of turning around and then if we’re able at that moment to name that taboo or say it sounds like you’re really hurting right now and I’m concerned about you and sounds like you might be having thoughts as well of killing yourself is that correct. That sounds hard to say but in the moment that’s oftentimes what we do need and that is what we do need to do because it helps bring the cover to the overt and when we do that we can actually do something to work on it with that person and sometimes I think it brings relief to the person as well that finally this thing that’s so taboo that even they have ambivalence about has come out into the open. Gabe Howard: It’s fascinating to me that this is one of the myths that persist because we have all sorts of safety precautions in our society. You know, for example, nobody says that smoke alarms give people the idea to burn their house down. Dr. Nate Ivers: Right. Gabe Howard: Or that wearing seat belts gives people the idea to drive recklessly. Yet for some reason people feel that thoughts of suicide are so outside of the norm that they must not be able to come up with this on their own and that just even raising the name, it’s like Beetlejuice if you say the word suicide it will appear. Dr. Nate Ivers: Mm-hmm, right. Gabe Howard: Otherwise nobody’s thinking about it. And we’ve learned through research and understanding that as you said that’s just not true. People have come up with this on their own and by nobody talking about it it gives it space to grow. Dr. Nate Ivers: Yeah I think that’s a really good point. Going back to suicide is a taboo subject. We’re unwilling to even consider that someone would go that far as to think of suicide and it’s easier to just ignore it in ignoring it. I think it does fester. I think it grows and I think it affects people much more than it might otherwise. The heart of it is and it’s actually really hard for a counselor sometimes to what we call name the taboo and one of the things we do in our training programs is really work with our students to get comfortable with asking that question because they even bring in with them. These misconceptions that if I bring this up I might be priming my client to consider suicide when they may not have otherwise. Gabe Howard: And we’re back talking to Dr. Nate Ivers about discussing suicide in our community. Aside from all the misinformation or worry of putting the ideas in people’s heads et cetera I think that another common reason that people don’t ask people if they’re suicidal is because we don’t know the warning signs. Maybe we are comfortable enough to ask our loved ones if this is going on. We just assumed our loved ones are fine. Dr. Nate Ivers: Yes. Gabe Howard: What are some of the warning signs? What should people be on the lookout for for their friends, family, co-workers, so that they can provide that care that people may need? Dr. Nate Ivers: Yeah I think that’s a really really good question. I think it also is tied to one of the other misconceptions about suicide is it to be suicidal one must be crazy one must be seriously mentally ill to be suicidal and so I know my friend, I know my co-worker, I know my son and my daughter, I know this person can’t be at a level of serious mental health issues and so I’m not even going to go there with them, and we know that that’s not true. Very few people who have serious mental health issues such as psychosis or schizophrenia are actually suicidal. It’s much more common for the common person to have a crisis and to struggle with some situations and then have these thoughts of suicide and so I think disassociating it from the idea of it being a psychosis may help us recognize that no it’s much more common than we might think but some of the some of the warning signs of suicide I mean one of the obvious ones is that someone is stating that they want to die even when someone says that I think we can we can sometimes discredit it. Maybe by saying, “That’s not true. You really don’t feel that way. I know you’re going through a hard time but that’s just a saying, you’re not really meaning that.” But that’s one of the more obvious ones. Another really really obvious one that we may not consider as obvious is just the enduring sense of hopelessness and despair. So I would say if you’re thinking if you’re worried about your friend or you’re worried about your co-worker or family member if they are experiencing this hopelessness that doesn’t seem to go away. That’s why I might start wondering maybe I should ask him or her this question maybe I should say, “Hey how are you? I have noticed that you’ve been really down lately.” That might start the conversation. When someone expresses that he or she is feeling like they’re a burden that sometimes is a good indicator that you might want to ask more doesn’t necessarily mean in any of these instances whether they’re feeling hopeless or whether they’re feeling like they’re a burden that they necessarily are suicidal. But it is a potential sign that they are changes in behavior can be a sign of this as well. So an individual for example who is punctual at work more recently has been coming in and doesn’t seem like he has his or her stuff together quite as much as someone who’s always well groomed and well dressed and seems put together and then comes in a little bit tattered in his or her appearance. Dr. Nate Ivers: That might be something it might not but that might be an indication as well. Other changes of course are drinking more or sleeping more or sleeping less being more irritable and usually you seem to be fairly easy going. Lots of different things like that just kind of really focus really recognizing some of the behavioral shifts that someone has. On the flip side of this, which seems a little bit contraindicated, is individuals who have generally seemed fairly depressed or anxious or irritable who all of a sudden seem like they’re much more content or happy or that might that might be a sign that they are considering suicide and they’ve kind of made up their mind about that and now they’re feeling this sense of pain is going is going to go away. They have a sense of peace. And so that’s another thing that one might want to keep his or her eye on whereas we might think oh finally so-and-so is feeling better but it might be that they’re actually closer to wanting to move forward with the suicidal plan. Gabe Howard: Now of course all of these that you just mentioned, they are signs. They’re not guarantees, they’re just signs. Dr. Nate Ivers: Right. Gabe Howard: We’re going to take a break for this message from our sponsor. 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 Howard: And we’re back with Dr. Nate Ivers talking about how to discuss suicide in our communities. So, we move into the next step which is you sort of want to broach the topic with the person who you’re concerned about this, how do you broach the subject of suicide with somebody who you see these warning signs in? Dr. Nate Ivers: There is not a perfect way to do it obviously and some of it depends on your relationship with the person. But I think the first thing that you do is you help them recognize that you notice their pain. You help them recognize that you notice that they’re going through something, that there’s something different in their life. There are few things you can say that you know I just wanted to check in with you for a moment. I notice that you have been coming in late to work lately and you know there’s no judgment here but it just seems like there’s something on your mind or that there is something not quite right with you right now. I wondered if you wanted to talk about it? That is sort of a soft in, but in doing that you’re opening up a door and you’re also doing us what we said earlier is I care about you enough to stop and ask you how things are going in your life. So in its own way it’s kind of an intervention if the person then responds and says Yeah yeah things have been really really difficult lately and let’s say get to the point where they say it feels very hopeless. I just I just can’t keep doing it. I can’t keep living like this. Something’s got to happen. And at that point that’s where you might get a little bit scared because it looks like it’s getting a little bit closer to that taboo. And that’s where you want to maybe express that feeling. It sounds like you’re really sad right now. Things feel really hopeless at this moment. And again, you might you might be thinking, “Oh, no. This might do it. Did I just make them feel hopeless?” No. What you’re doing is you’re creating a connection you’re expressing that you’re hearing and someone actually understands to at least a degree what they’re going through. And as it gets deeper or closer to it than you say I just want to check. Are you having thoughts of killing yourself? Gabe Howard: And you should just be that blunt? You should you just look the person in the eyes and say it? Dr. Nate Ivers: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Gabe Howard: Why does that work? I mean it seems very scary just to ask somebody. I mean I can see why people are going to take a deep breath and think oh I could never ask somebody that it seems so insulting. Dr. Nate Ivers: Yes. Well I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s so hard is because it’s not something you usually ask in polite conversation even things that are a little bit less taboo than that. Are you having a hard time with your drinking? How is your sex life? You know stuff like that you don’t you don’t really broach those topics very often it seems like it’s very private. Gabe Howard: Yeah, we’re trained to avoid them. Dr. Nate Ivers: Yeah you have to transcend your conditioning just a little bit in these instances to really provide the care that you want to provide. And in the instances where I have asked that question most of the time when I’ve asked the question is when in a counseling relationship and so it’s a little bit easier because there’s more of an expectation but other times where I have had to ask that question of a friend if they weren’t suicidal they very quickly told me Oh no no no no no I’m glad you asked that, but no. Yes I’m feeling very terrible right now. Life is hard. But here are all the reasons why wouldn’t do that. And then we move on. I believe them. In other instances where they are feeling a lot of pain. There’s usually some silence maybe a second or two. It might come with tears after that and then all of a sudden here it is. They lay it out. Gabe Howard: Let’s say that you ask the question you say to somebody are you thinking about killing yourself. And the answer yes. Yes I am. And then you try to help them but they refuse all help. What do you do then? Dr. Nate Ivers: That’s when it gets really really difficult. I would say if they if it seems imminent, and what I mean by that is they say that yes I’m having thoughts of killing myself and I’m scared that I really could do it at any point in time. And they have sort of a plan in place for it. And the means to carry it out. I would say what you do is you don’t leave them alone. At that point as much as you can avoid whatever else you need to do I would say stay with that person. And I would also recommend calling a crisis line. I would say look can we call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline together and they’re going to ask you some questions and I’ll be here to assist you through that. And then we can get a better sense of what the resources are in the community and what your options are at this time to maybe help reduce this pain because I think what you want to do is help them know that I’m not just trying to keep you from committing suicide I’m trying to help you get to the point where this pain can go away. A lot of what you’re trying to do without minimizing what they’re going through is help them realize that there can be some hope there can be even a glimmer a small light at the end of the tunnel. And so that’s what I would probably start with is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It may affect your friendship for a while especially if they’re not happy that you did that. I would say stay with them and say you know what we’re going to make this call together because I’m really worried about you. I can’t help you if you die. And if they leave and they say, “You know, I don’t want to talk with you anymore. I’m out of here.” Then I would call 911 and just let them know in what direction the person was in and the information that they shared with you and why you’re worried about them. I think one of the fears that a friend would have is am I doing this too preemptively? Am I calling in too much help too soon? And could that cause harm? And I would say no. I mean when in doubt, do it you need to do to help them but it may be helpful to get additional assistance. And I would say that’s what the hotline would be for. Gabe Howard: One of the best statements that I ever heard in suicide training that I attended once is that you can apologize for overreacting as long as a person gets the help that they need. You can’t apologize for under reacting if the worst case scenario occurs. It’s sad to think about it that way. It’s scary and traumatizing to think about it that way but yeah as long as that person is alive, I can repair our relationship. Dr. Nate Ivers: Right. That’s right. Gabe Howard: Let’s switch gears for a moment because we know that no matter how hard we try no matter how much education there is no matter how much training unfortunately somebody will die via suicide. How might the grieving process differ for those whose loved ones have died by suicide than if they pass away for any other reason? Dr. Nate Ivers: I appreciate your asking that question. It’s there are similarities of course. Someone has lost someone whom they love but there are differences as well. I think the differences are sort of all coalesce into one thing. It’s the taboo that we talked about earlier individuals whose loved one has died by suicide. Oftentimes experience some ambivalence associated with it. That’s not to say that people who lost a loved one from other causes also aren’t ambivalent. I would say that the swings are probably greater in terms of that going from extreme anger and frustration at the person who died to just really guilt ridden and sad about the experience as well. It’s also hard I think for the for the individual sometimes to really talk about the grieving process. Whenever someone experiences something traumatic it can be therapeutic for them to tell and retell their story. When the death is by suicide oftentimes the loved one sometimes to protect the memory of the one who died or other times just to reduce the amount of judgment that they feel from the community doesn’t feel like they have an outlet to fully discuss these situations. And so it’s difficult for the person trying to provide support for the individual whose loved one died by suicide but it’s really difficult for that loved one as well because there’s all of that ambivalence. And then there’s the fear of how it how it looks potentially to one’s community. Gabe Howard: And what recommendations do you have for the survivors? The person who lost a loved one to suicide? Dr. Nate Ivers: Well they have to be aware of some of the signs. Some of the behaviors that they may be engaging in that could be exacerbated in a situation one is isolating themselves too much. So although that may be their knee jerk reaction is I really can’t I really can’t do this with people right now. I really can’t speak with others about this. Staying engaged with others I think is really important and I think it’s really important if you know a family or you know a loved one who’s dealing with the death of his or her loved ones is just really keep tabs on that person. If it’s from a religious or spiritual perspective I continue to minister to them after the funeral after the memorial service after everybody else has gone home. Check in with them because you’re right it’s not it’s not a linear process and there’s certainly not a timetable on it. People will be experiencing things for years to come. I would say especially checking in during important dates like anniversaries or birthdays or holidays. I’d say recognizing that there’s no one size fits all model for grief and so knowing that the way that someone died maybe in that shocking or traumatic sort of way and then that it happened at their own hands by suicide recognizing that it’s going it can take a really long time and giving yourself the freedom to grieve allowing yourself to be sad for longer than is expected in American culture. Allowing yourself to be angry and allowing yourself to feel guilty and allowing yourself to have those emotions I think is very important. Preparing yourself for reminders. We think about this a lot when people have post-traumatic stress disorder that they’re going to have triggers but grief has a similar element to that. But being aware that there will be things that come up that will trigger their intense emotions. I would say having sort of a plan in place to handle those situations when a certain public or when it’s at work. And lastly which I think is the really important one is there are support groups for individuals and families affected by suicide. And so there are lots of grief and loss groups but I would say finding one that is specific to the type of loss that you’ve experienced which is your loved one died by suicide because you will be amongst individuals who will be speaking a very similar language who will be able to empathize with your situation in a way that’s different from those who have lost loved ones in other ways. Gabe Howard: Dr. Ivers, I can’t thank you enough for being on the show and I can’t thank you enough for the work that you do to help demystify the warning signs the symptoms and everything that surrounds suicide. As we said at the top of the show it’s one of those things where everybody’s heard of it but nobody seems to understand it or know how to prevent it or know what to do about it. And I really think that the work that you’re doing will absolutely save not only the lives of the people who are contemplating suicide but the relationships of the people around them. The amount of misinformation that gets tacked on to this already misunderstood thing is just incredibly massive and it makes a scary thing all the worse. Dr. Nate Ivers: Thank you so much for having me, and for giving us a platform to share a few pieces of information to hopefully help people who are trying to figure out maybe for themselves what they need to do or for their loved ones or for a friend of a friend. I appreciate your willingness to bring up the topic is so important and for some so difficult to broach as well. Gabe Howard: Again thank you, Dr. Ivers, for being here and thank you everybody for listening. And if you are listening interested in learning more about a master’s in counseling degree from Wake Forest University, I highly recommend that you head over to counseling.online.WFU.edu and see everything that they have to offer. And remember you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counselling anytime, anywhere simply by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. We’ll see everybody next week. Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Psych Central Podcast. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/Show or on your favorite podcast player. To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at GabeHoward.com. PsychCentral.com is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, PsychCentral.com offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at PsychCentral.com. If you have feedback about the show, please email show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening and please share widely. About The Psych Central Podcast Host Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar and anxiety disorders. He is also one of the co-hosts of the popular show, A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. As a speaker, he travels nationally and is available to make your event stand out. To work with Gabe, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. View the full article
  15. It would be better if I wasn’t alive. This is the text message T-Kea Blackman sent her friend after her suicide attempt. And it’s the words that begin her powerful memoir Saved & Depressed: A Suicide Survivor’s Journey of Mental Health, Healing & Faith. Blackman had struggled with suicidal thoughts since age 12, regularly triggered by witnessing drug addiction and domestic violence. At the time of her attempt, she was 24 years old. She felt “powerless and hopeless.” For years, Blackman also struggled with depression and anxiety. “They both were beyond exhausting to the point I became numb,” she said. The depression was paralyzing, making her feel like bricks were laying on top of her. Her anxiety led her to feel like she “was in the middle of an ocean in a constant state of panic, flapping my arms and kicking my legs to stay afloat but I never drowned.” As Blackman writes in Saved & Depressed, before she was formally diagnosed, she “thought it was normal to walk around on edge all of the time. I had no clue that being ‘worked up’ and worried 24/7 was a problem. In fact, I thought everyone struggled with uncontrollable and racing thoughts to the point where they could not focus, sleep, or get daily activities completed…” An hour after Blackman sent that text to her friend, two policemen showed up at her apartment. She was taken to the hospital, and then transported to the psychiatric unit. Days later, she’d attend a partial hospitalization program for 6 weeks. This included individual and group therapy, and involved spending 6 hours at the hospital and going home at night. Initially, Blackman had zero desire to get better. “Depression felt like home—a warm blanket and it was comfortable,” she said. However, after being in the hospital and attending the outpatient program, she started to feel a glimmer of hope. With more treatment and support, that glimmer widened and brightened. Advocacy Work Today, Blackman is a mental health advocate, speaker, writer, and host of the weekly podcast Fireflies Unite With Kea. In particular, she focuses her advocacy work on the African American community, shattering the stigma of mental illness and help-seeking, and sharing stories of people who live and thrive with different diagnoses. “As an African American woman, I was taught to be strong and keep going because that’s what my ancestors did. But being strong was to my detriment because I felt weak for needing medication and therapy. And there are other women in my community who deal with those same thoughts and feelings.” Many African Americans also are hesitant to seek treatment because they “were taught ‘what happens in this house stays in this house’ and going to therapy to talk about things happening in your home [means] that you are airing your business and dirty laundry,” Blackman said. Some are taught that therapy is exclusively for white people, or that prayer is the only thing they need, she said. “My goal for my advocacy is to inspire my community to own their truth and more importantly heal.” Blackman further noted, “you can pray and see a therapist at the same time. Attending therapy does not mean that you lack faith in God or are weak; it means that you are a human working through challenges.” She also pointed out that therapy isn’t about “airing your dirty laundry”; rather, it’s about discussing “things that make it hard for you to sleep and function at your best. Therapy will provide you a safe space to be the best version of yourself.” Staying in Recovery Today, what helps Blackman remain in recovery is her “awesome therapist” and the support of her family and friends. She also connected with groups at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). “I found people who could identify with me and support me.” Most importantly, she said, her recovery resides in “living a self-directed life.” “I have learned to define success and recovery for myself. As a peer support specialist and advocate, I have people who look up to me and I want to be the support I needed in my darkest days.” Blackman also credits her strong faith in God and her hard work. “I believe God spared my life to do this work and help save others from suicide. Working on myself has been harder than both of my degrees combined but to see my growth brings tears to my eyes and helps me stay in recovery. I am amazed at how I went from wanting to die and attempting to end my life to being so full of life and excited about my future.” If You’re Struggling, Too If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety and feel hopeless and incredibly overwhelmed, Blackman wants you to know that even though right now everything seems dark and you’re convinced you won’t get better, you absolutely will “with the support of a therapist and if needed, medication.” Blackman stressed the importance of identifying qualities or specialties in a therapist that are non-negotiable for you—and not to stop until you’ve found them. “When I was looking for a therapist, I wanted a black woman because that’s who I felt comfortable with. It took me a while but with the right therapist, I was able to make so much progress.” “Also, do not feel ashamed if you need to go to the hospital; it could be the very thing that saves your life.” In the moment, when you’re sick and feel awful, you can’t imagine a time when you’ll actually feel well. It’s similar to having the flu: You have a high fever. You are bed ridden. You feel weak. Even getting up to put a bowl of soup in the microwave feels impossible. But then, as the treatment kicks in, your body starts to heal, your energy returns, your mind becomes clearer, and the days pass, you do start to feel better. And maybe you even get to a point where you don’t remember as much about those sick days, or they’re not as vivid and visceral. Because they felt permanent, but were not. And even if you get the flu again, you’re better prepared. You have a good idea of what to do. You know what helps you. And you know it won’t last forever. If you’re struggling, please know that with treatment you can thrive and live a satisfying, fulfilling life. Blackman’s story is proof of that. And it’s just one of millions of such stories. If you’re thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), text HOME to 741741, or chat online. View the full article
  16. Phobiasupportforum

    What Is ERP for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

    Noah didn’t care for ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention) therapy despite his struggles with harm OCD. Stories that he had heard from acquaintances and friends were not positive. In fact, one of his friends felt traumatized by ERP. He also indicated that he was asked by his previous mental health counselor to sit in front of a bunch of knives so he could habituate or get used to the feelings and sensations the knives created. He said he had already been around sharp knives for three weeks while working at a knife shop temporarily while he looked for another job. His excruciating anxiety was off the charts. “I basically white-knuckled each day until I found a better job. I was exposed to knives all this time, and I’m still the same. ERP simply doesn’t work,” he claimed. What do you value in life? When Noah’s next therapist asked him, “What and who matters most in your life?” Noah indicated that all he cared about was to eliminate the intrusive thoughts and anxiety. It made sense to him as he believed that once he could control his thoughts and feelings, he could move on with life. Noah had put his life on halt believing that he could master his internal experiences (i.e., thoughts, memories, feelings, sensations, and urges) before he could strengthen his friendships, go back to school, date again, get married, and have a family. During treatment Noah learned that behaving towards internal events as if they were external ones was not effective. For example, he could easily discard appliances when they weren’t working, but he could not remove thoughts or feelings when they were unpleasant. Viewing and treating internal events as if they were external experiences led him to get trapped in the OCD cycle. Why is ERP effective? Your mind’s inherent job is to protect you, and when you struggle with OCD, your mind works overtime. Thoughts that appear useful may lead you to avoidance and compulsions. When you avoid situations and become stuck, you are not able to disrupt the beliefs and expectations related to your anxiety and despair. On the other hand, when you become proactive in facing your fears, you can truly learn and discover what happens. Instead of falling for your mind’s advice, you can be willing to interact with the experiences that bring fear but may also disconfirm your mind’s assumptions. You will discover that you have the inner wisdom to handle any situation even when it’s terrifying. However, if you don’t give yourself a chance, you’ll never know. What may ERP look like for you? Your treatment plan is personally designed. But learning occurs before, during and after exposures. You can focus on the things that are important and meaningful rather than trying to eliminate what’s occurring naturally. Your treatment provider will guide you through ERP. The exposures are done randomly and not in a hierarchy because life does not take place according to your fear hierarchy. Life happens and you can learn to be willing to face whatever shows up, so you can cultivate the life you wish to live. During Exposures: As you increase awareness of your internal events, you will be able to acknowledge them as such — thoughts, memories, feelings, sensations, and urges. You can learn to welcome them, and you don’t have to like them. You’ll learn to make room for them because you know it is futile to resist them. Your focus will be on your values — what you want your life to be about (i.e., relationships, employment, education, spirituality, etc.). What you’ve been missing out on because of OCD. The question you’ll ask yourself is, “If I act on my mind’s advice, will that lead me to living the life I want?” You will also learn to accept the uncertainty that OCD brings. Though this is difficult, the more exposures you do, the more willingness you will develop in accepting uncertainty, which after all is part of life for every human being. After Exposures: You will recognize that life does not need to be about getting through the anxiety and fear. With repeated exposures, you will learn that allowing the emotions and sensations, instead of fighting them will give you more freedom to live purposefully. You will feel empowered as you practice the skills to develop more flexibility in your thinking. After each exposure answer these questions: What did I learn from this experience? What can I do next time to be more flexible when I encounter a trigger? Where can I find more opportunities to practice the skills that will help me face my fears and focus on improving the quality of my life? Noah learned skills to view his internal events with a different mindset. He acknowledged and allowed them to naturally come and go without having to wrestle with them. He was able to live the life he had yearned for. He recognized that he had a choice of whether to act or be acted upon by his OCD mind. ERP is not about facing your fears and white-knuckling the situation. You already do that every day. Your therapist will provide skills to prepare you to do ERP. This practice can give you long-lasting results and enable you to live a richer and fuller life, even when the OCD mind spits out unhelpful thoughts. Give it a try! References Craske, M. G., Liao, B, Brown, L. & Vervliet B. (2012). Role of Inhibition in Exposure Therapy. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 3 (3), 322-345). Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/2924188/Role_of_Inhibition_in_Exposure_Therapy Twohig, M. P., Abramowitz, J. S., Bluett, E. J., Fabricant, L. E., Jacoby, R. J., Morrison, K. L., Smith, B. M. (2015). Exposure therapy for OCD from an acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) framework. Journal of Obsessive-compulsive and Related Disorders, 6, 167–173. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jocrd.2014.12.007. View the full article
  17. The Woodland Trust says the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” should be prescribed by doctors to tackle stress and other mental health problems. View the full article
  18. Pregnancy and childbirth are often an exciting, happy time in a family’s life, but it is also an incredibly stressful time to the whole family. This becomes even more difficult when mom works. Caring for a newborn (especially the first born or a child with special needs) is a significant time commitment. This becomes more challenging as moms and other caregivers lack proper sleep. There are also additional financial pressures in caring for a new family member and taking time (sometimes unpaid) away from work. Post-birth, the medical focus is primarily on the new baby. Though newborns are checked multiple times in the first month of life, mom may not be seen by her obstetrician until six weeks post-labor. Add all this together and having a child can become quickly overwhelming. Ten to twenty percent of new moms struggle with postpartum depression. Even moms who have the best support systems and no previous history of mental health concerns can struggle. Why Should Employers Care? For progressive employers, the health and well-being of ALL employees is extremely important. This increases productivity and drives business results. Employers also want mom to get back to work as quickly as possible, and that’s difficult to do when she’s struggling with mental health concerns in the postpartum period (defined as 12 months post-delivery). Once mom returns to work, mom can be more fully engaged when all her physical and emotional health concerns are addressed. Many employers face a tight labor market, and the war for talent (particularly in the tech industry) is real. Helping to care for new families demonstrates that an employer is family-friendly and cares about the whole person (not just the worker). What Can Employers Do the Support Mom Who Are Struggling? There are many tactics employers can take to support new families: Provide robust behavioral health resources through medical benefits programs and an Employee Assistance Plan. Help to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of ALL mental health concerns, not forgetting this vulnerable time surrounding birth. Encourage insurers/health plans to monitor whether obstetricians are screening for potential mental health issues during pregnancy/postpartum and facilitate access to in-network reproductive mental health providers. Also encourage health plans to reimburse postpartum depression screenings by both pediatricians and obstetricians (since baby is often seen by a doctor far earlier than mom in the postpartum period). Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend this, but reimbursement is not always made by health plans/insurers. Implement extended parental leave programs to support recovery and bonding. Offer flexible work arrangements to support work/life integration (vs. work-life balance). Employers have a terrific opportunity to support new families and drive long-term employee engagement and loyalty by supporting new moms with all their physical and emotional health needs. This post courtesy of Mental Health America. View the full article
  19. Phobiasupportforum

    12 Depression Busters for New Moms

    It’s supposed to be the most exciting time of your life … and everyone is telling you how lucky you are to have a beautiful baby, but all you can do is cry. You’re pretty sure none of your new-mom friends are feeling this way. But they might be. Because 15 to 20 percent of new moms, about 1 million women in the US each year, experience some form of postpartum depression. Truth be told, my baby days were the most difficult and painful hours of my life. I was a hormonal and stress train wreck. Looking back now–my youngest is five–I see that a few alterations in my lifestyle might have helped matters. I’ll share them with you, so that you don’t have to feel so bad … or, you know, all alone. 1. Say it … “Yikes.” Take a moment to consider all that has changed in your life. Your social life is … poof … gone, not to mention your sex life and any romance that was left in your marriage. You don’t remember becoming a Navy Seal but, like them, you operate on about three consecutive hours of sleep at night. Plus there is this seven-pound creature that you are responsible for – and let’s just say it’s more demanding than the fern in your kitchen that will forgive you if you forget to water it for a day or so. Oh yeah, that adorable, Gerber baby is louder than the Winnie the Pew keychain one of your frenemies bought you. But the very act of registering all the modifications can be surprisingly comforting … like proof that you’re not imagining it: you’ve entered another world, and you definitely don’t speak the language. 2. Identify the symptoms. At some point, you’re going to need to distinguish symptoms of the new-mom culture shock and its accompanying baby blues from a bona fide mood disorder. You can find a list of the standard symptoms for postpartum depression by clicking here, but better than that, I think, is the description actress Brooke Shields gives in her memoir, “Down Came the Rain”: At first I thought what I was feeling was just exhaustion, but with it came an overriding sense of panic that I had never felt before. Rowan kept crying, and I began to dread the moment when Chris would bring her back to me. I started to experience a sick sensation in my stomach; it was as if a vise were tightening around my chest. Instead of the nervous anxiety that often accompanies panic, a feeling of devastation overcame me. I hardly moved. Sitting on my bed, I let out a deep, slow, guttural wail. I wasn’t simply emotional or weepy, like I had been told I might be. This was something quite different. This was a sadness of a shockingly different magnitude. It felt as if it would never go away. 3. Start talking. Journalist Tracy Thompson begins her insightful book, “The Ghost in the House” with two brilliant lines: “Motherhood and depression are two countries with a long common border. The terrain is chilly and inhospitable, and when mothers speak of it at all, it is usually in guarded terms, or in euphemisms.” Which is why you need to start talking …. often, for long periods of time, and loudly. But with safe people. 4. Find safe people. How do you find these so-called “safe people” who won’t report you to the pope or child services for saying things like you want your body back, you want your old life back, and at times you wonder if you made the right decision by having sex with your husband without a birth control method in place? That’s tough, and like so much else in life, you just need to feel your way through. I personally look for a sense of humor. Any mom who can laugh at the squash stains on her new Ann Taylor sweater is a candidate. The mom who left the playgroup 15 minutes early to get in the half-hour pre-nap ritual is definitely not. 5. Get support. Once you identify five or six suitable moms who aren’t too annoying, it’s time to start a support group, known in some parts of the country as a “playgroup.” It can be fewer than five or six, but you should be able to corral lots of takers if you hang out long enough at your library’s children’s hour, Tumble Tots or some other gymnastics class, or attend any workshops or social events organized by national mom groups like “Professional Moms at Home.” Me? I walked around my neighborhood and put a flyer into the mailboxes of homes in which I could see a stroller. I also posted signs at a local office supply store, coffee shop, and diner. Once ten moms confirmed interest, I hosted a playgroup every Wednesday morning at my house. For a year. The group eventually disbanded when I asked folks to take turns hosting because my house was getting too trashed. It didn’t matter, though, because it had served its purpose: which was NOT to help our children socialize–that’s only what we claimed–but to provide an outlet for us to spill our guts because many of us were absolutely going crazy. 6. Beg for help. In her informative book, “A Deeper Shade of Blue,” Ruta Nonacs, M.D., Ph.D., writes: “One of the most challenging aspects of caring for young children is the social isolation. In traditional cultures, a woman’s family fathers around the mother after the birth of a child. They help her learn how to care for her child … Nowadays most women with young children spend most of their time at home, alone.” I advise you to get on your knees, to skip all those manners and laws of social grace that keep you from pleading with your in-laws for some help. Barter with them, negotiate, promise to name the next kid after them if they babysit for a night, ANYTHING you possibly can to get some free help because you are going to need it, and the less of it you have, the more risk for developing a serious mood disorder. If your relatives are unable to assist, buy the help. Cash out the retirement funds for this one. Trust me. You’ll be glad you did. 7. Sleep. No really … sleep. Part of the reason I’m so adamant that you get help is because the longer you stay sleep-deprived the better chance you have of winding up like me … in a pysch ward. Brain experts have always made the connection between insanity and insomnia, but new research suggests that chronic sleep disturbances actually cause certain mood disorders. You stay up one too many nights with that crying baby, and you are bait for a mental illness. Not to scare you. But, again, BEG FOR HELP so that you can at least get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep … consistently. Don’t follow in my tracks and get your first night of slumber in a hospital. 8. Hang unto you. The second biggest mistake I made as a new mom was throwing my old self into a locked closet until, well, I graduated from the outpatient hospital program, where I learned that motherhood doesn’t require chucking my prior existence: my interests, my friends, my career, and so forth. In fact, the nurses there convinced me that if I could recover a little of my old self, I might even be a better mom. So I hired a babysitter for a few hours a week, which allowed me to pursue some writing projects, go on an occasional bike ride, and have coffee with a non-mom friend and talk about something other than poop. 9. Watch your language. I’m not talking about the profanities that you’re no longer allowed to utter in front of the miniature tape recorder disguised as your infant. I’m referring to your self-talk. Erika Krull, a mental-health counselor who blogs for Psych Central, wrote this in a recent blog on motherhood and depression: “It’s the combination of ‘must, can’t, won’t, should, could’ kinds of thoughts with the high level of emotion that can send moms down into the pit of depression or anxiety. Black and white thinking is a setup for disappointment, despair, lack of satisfaction and meaning, and low self worth.” 10. Eat brain food. I hate to be a killjoy here, because I know that you’ve already had to say bye-bye to lots of pleasures in your life. But here’s the thing: the more stressed and sleep-deprived you are, the more inclined you are to grab for the chips and the cookies. Research has actually confirmed that: sleep deprivation and stress both contribute to obesity. It’s a vicious cycle, because the more chips and cookies you consume, the more out of control your world spins, and so forth. Ideally, you want to shoot for lots of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12, and folate. Unfortunately, they’re not hiding in a Hershey’s dark chocolate bar. If I were God, I would change that. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in boring but tasty things like salmon, tuna, sardines, walnuts, canola oil, and flaxseed. Vitamin B-12 is found in fish, seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Folate is found in fortified cereals, spinach, broccoli, peanuts, and orange juice. Your brain will thank you. 11. Get online. You’re lucky, in that cyberspace is pretty much ruled by new moms. A few years ago I attended a BlogHer conference, where approximately 80 percent of the blogs represented were mommy blogs. In fact, the BlogHer site is a good place to start if you want to know what other moms are experiencing and writing about. Other winners: The Motherhood, CafeMom, Maternally Challenged, Postpartum Progress, and Dooce. 12. Don’t lose your sense of humor. If one thing saved me during those years my kids were babies it was a sense of humor. “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go in sane,” sings Jimmy Buffet. So, if you have already gone in sane, it’s best to snicker at the madness in front of you. Ah, the relief I felt some of those afternoons, once all the tension held in my shoulders and in my cheeks released into a wild laughter … after I had spent an afternoon chasing two kids at the mall, one with diarrhea and the other hiding underneath the bras in J.C. Penny’s lingerie section. Flexing that humor muscle … it’s as important as the tight abdominal muscles that you’ll never get back. View the full article
  20. Nature is an important aspect of our daily lives that is too often taken for granted. Now, in our technologically-driven society, we are often shut away from nature, and the times that we are out in nature, we are unable to appreciate it in its entire splendor. It is hard to truly separate yourself from the rest of the world, considering we are always “on”, but the effects of doing so prove beneficial to your general well-being and emotional clarity. “[We] are all a part of nature. We are born in nature; our bodies are formed of nature; we live by the rules of nature,” writes Wesley P. Schultz, PhD, professor of psychology at California State University San Marcos. Why then, are we so avoidant of nature? Schultz explains that historically, it was necessary for us to be in nature — we hunted, lived, socialized and traveled in nature. As we progressed and became more technologically advanced we became more shut in — living, socializing, and traveling predominantly in man-made environments (Schultz, 2002). Now, when we interact with the environment it is with the idea of “what can I get from this environment?” It can be argued that some people still hunt, but this is more to derive a sense of pleasure or sport, rather than for survival. Hunting as a requirement for sustenance is no longer there. This overwhelming idea that nature is something outside of us is rooted in and motivated by our consumerism. We have become heavily reliant upon our things and what those things can offer us — a sense of identity, a sense of community and acceptance. We no longer consider where these things come from. The phrase “Keeping up with the Jones’s” is more relevant than ever in the 21st century. Every few months there are new trends we need to buy into to be considered relevant and be accepted by our peers. And of course this is the only way we are able to derive any sort of happiness. This, of course, is not the way to find happiness, and in fact if we were to rely more on the environment and lead a more simplistic life, we would be more likely to find a truer, long-lasting kind of happiness. This is not only due to the aesthetic appeal nature offers us, but because we, like plants, require the environment for survival. The sun is of particular importance in maintaining a healthy mind. Depression is a significant mood disorder whereby those diagnosed with it experience a depressed or irritable mood, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, suicidal ideation and a decreased interest or pleasure in most activities (APA, 2013). Exposure to the sun can help moderate mood by activating the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. It can also help with vitamin-D levels, which is important for proper bone health (Nall, 2015). Physical health is directly correlated to mental health. The brain and body should not be treated as separate from each other, because they are inter-related; “in terms of the way it functions, the brain is always linked to the body and, through the senses, to the world outside” (Doidge, 2015). The sun is not the only aspect of nature that has beneficial effects for treating depression and relieving every day stress. Simply put, the aesthetic provided by nature elicits an overwhelming feeling of awe and admiration, particularly due to its beauty. The romantic poets acknowledged the power nature has over us. Consider these lines from Coleridge’s Frost at Midnight: “For I was reared In the great city, pent ‘mid cloisters dim, And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars. But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds, Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores And mountain crags” Here Coleridge acknowledges the better life he hopes his child will have because of his constant exposure to and interaction with nature, as opposed to his life cloistered away from nature. This is not to say that Coleridge understood the positive psychological and physiological effects nature has on us, rather, his, along with other romantic poets, can offer some insight into nature and its effects. Surely if he, along with other poets of his time, felt the power and pull of nature without understanding the underlying reason, there are significant and positive effects. Fresh air, provided by surrounding yourself with more green space offers positive effects on the brain, due to the increased amount of clean oxygen which is essential for proper blood-flow. Taking a walk in a forest not only provides exercise and a beautiful atmosphere, it also provides one with a way to connect with nature — in a spiritual and very necessary physical way. Trees and greenery provide us with clean air and oxygen needed to keep the brain healthy. These important physiological effects have a significant effect on our mental state as well. It offers us a more calm and relaxed mood, and further offers us a feeling of connectivity to nature. The importance of this connectivity should not be underestimated, nor should the healing properties that nature provides us. Consider Sister Jean Ward, in WWII, who brought premature babies with jaundice into a sunlit courtyard in the hospital in Essex, England. Their condition improved due to the wavelengths of visible blue light in the sun radiating through the exposed skin. Light also decreases pain and improves sleep, which of course is closely related to feelings of depression (Doidge, 2015). A lack of sleep may make it difficult to focus or enjoy proper cognitive functioning, and depress the body. Feeling tired makes the mind tired, and since the body is not getting enough rest it has no way to regenerate itself for the next day. This may have negative effects on both the mind and body, contributing, not only to sleep problems and the perpetuation of depressive symptoms, but may also contribute to the development of pain (Mann, 2010). Therefore, getting the proper amount of sunlight is essential to proper functioning, and improving mental health. How do we get the proper amount of sunlight and fresh air? By going back to nature. It is the most simplistic, yet essential mode of treatment for feelings of depression. Perhaps, by experiencing the regenerative properties nature has to offer us, we too, may feel compelled to write about nature’s beauty like Coleridge and the many romantic poets of his time. References: American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed). Coleridge, T. S. (1997). Frost at Midnight. In Keach, W. (Eds.), The Complete Works. (231-232). England: Penguin Books. Doidge, N. (2015). The Brain’s Way of Healing. New York: Viking. Nall, R. (2015). What are the benefits of sunlight? Retrieved from: http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight#Overview1 Mann, D. (2010). Pain: The Sleep Thief. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/pain-sleep?page=2 Schultz, P. W. (2002). Inclusion with Nature: The Psychology Of Human-Nature Relations. In Schmuck, P., & Schultz, P. W. (Eds). Psychology of Sustainable Development (61-78). New York: Springer US. View the full article
  21. Phobiasupportforum

    Common Signs of Someone Who May Be Suicidal

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

    Preventing Youth Suicide: Strategies That Work

    American children are taking their own lives at an alarming rate. Over 7 percent of high school students say they engaged in non-fatal suicidal behavior, while 17 percent say they seriously considered suicide within the previous year, according to a nationwide survey. For children under 15, the prevalence of death by suicide nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017. Considering these sobering statistics, it’s no surprise that suicide has become the second leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 12 and 18. Sadly, many parents don’t recognize the signs of depression in their children until a crisis occurs. It can be difficult to determine the difference between normal adolescent behavior and something far more serious. For National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day I want to use this opportunity to share strategies that have been proven to decrease suicidality in children and teens. A few years ago a teenage girl named Alyssa* came to me for therapy, along with her family. She described feeling disconnected from her parents, who didn’t understand her interests. She spent a lot of time in her room watching anime, playing video games, and chatting with her friends online. Like many young girls, she had negative experiences with peers at school and felt acute academic pressure. Her parents saw no cause for alarm until they were contacted by a concerned school counselor, in whom their daughter had confided. When they learned Alyssa had thoughts about harming herself, they decided it would be safest to place her in a hospital while they made a plan to address her challenges, which included anxiety and depression. Prevention Is Key Fortunately, Alyssa turned to a trusted counselor for help. For individuals concerned about child suicide, a number of protective factors have been shown to help reduce the risk of suicidal behavior. These include community connectedness, abstinence from drugs and alcohol, close family relationships, strong peer support systems, and regular involvement in hobbies or activities. Joining activities that promote positive self-expression (music, art or drama) or self-efficacy (such as sports or skill-based activities), and continuing them through adolescence, can support building a positive and stable identity, the primary task and stress of teenage years. Other protective factors are more difficult to cultivate. People with a positive self-image, strong problem-solving skills, and the ability to regulate their emotions tend to be more able to cope in times of increased stress. If a child is struggling in these areas, especially while distancing themself from family or friends, it may be time to think about family therapy. Engaging teenagers in therapy isn’t easy, so building a trusting relationship with a mental health professional early for youth with heightened risk factors is instrumental in suicide prevention. Working with youth also comes with a unique set of challenges. They can be more impulsive, have trouble seeing a long-term perspective, and be heavily influenced by their friends and online relationships. These are just a few reasons why it’s important to find a therapist with extensive experience treating youth. The right professional can advise parents on what’s typical versus when to access other services, and how to keep channels of communication open. Trust Evidence-Based Therapies When a child is in therapy for suicidal thoughts or actions, it’s critical to use an evidence-based treatment approach. As a career therapist and Director of Youth Shelter Services at Grafton Integrated Health Network, my team and I rely on the CAMS model. Short for Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality, CAMS was developed over 30 years ago to specifically assess and treat suicidal risk. This method uses a highly individualized approach that allows patients to be actively involved in the development of their own treatment plans. Rather than shaming youth for their suicidal behavior, our therapists take an empathetic and non-judgmental approach, which helps us identify and treat the root causes of the client’s suffering. In randomized controlled trials, the CAMS model has been shown to more accurately assess the need for acute hospitalization and reduce suicidal thoughts. We know this approach works. With the help of a psychiatrist, music therapist, and individual and family therapy using mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral interventions, Alyssa was able to feel more hopeful and connected, while reducing her thoughts of suicide. Her therapy included identifying and working towards positive future goals, improving problematic communication patterns, increasing connection in activities with supportive peers, and following a safety plan. There is no quick fix for youth suicide, but promoting good mental health and seeking professional help early is the best prevention we have. It’s also never too late for a child and family to seek the right supports to build resiliency and move towards recovery. * Patient name has been changed to protect privacy. If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. View the full article
  25.  Not getting enough sleep impacts every single person. It makes us irritable, slows our reflexes, and reduces our ability to think and reason. When a person is sick or suffering from an illness, getting more sleep is beneficial to the healing process. Mental Illness is no different. You will benefit from regular sleep. In today’s episode, we talk about sleep hygiene – what it is and why it is important. Trust us, if anyone can make a discussion about sleep engaging, it’s Gabe and Michelle. Listen Now. SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW “When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re a crabby ass. If you’re mentally ill and don’t get enough sleep, you’re a crazy crabby ass.” – Gabe Howard Highlights From ‘Sleeping Mental Illness’ Episode [0:30] Let’s talk about sleep hygiene. [3:00] Good sleep, bad sleep, and more sleep. [9:15] Sleeping and waking up with psych meds. [13:00] Kanye West makes an appearance. . .oy vey. [17:00] Resetting your sleep cycle. [19:00] Should you tell your doc if you are having trouble sleeping? [21:00] The dangers of book lights. Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Sleeping Mental Illness’ Show Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. Announcer: For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Gabe: Welcome to this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. My name is Gabe and I have bipolar. Michelle: Hi, I’m Michelle and I’m schizophrenic. Gabe: And today we are going to talk about. Michelle: Sleep hygiene. Gabe: You couldn’t even say it exciting. Michelle: Well, I mean, I like sleeping. Hygiene is something I struggle with, but together they form a thing. What is it Gabe? Gabe: The rituals, behaviors, and norms that you follow around sleep. And they are referred to as, hey shocker, “sleep hygiene.” Regularly pulling all nighters, or sleeping in on the weekends so that you can make up for lost sleep, are both examples of poor sleep hygiene. Conversely, following a regular sleep schedule and avoiding things like caffeine, staying up all night, and bingeing on Netflix are good sleep hygiene practices. Listen, don’t beat yourself oup if you don’t practice perfect sleep hygiene. Even I don’t practice perfect sleep hygiene. Michelle: Damn right you don’t. Because we stay up all night watching “The People’s Court.” Gabe: That is an example of poor sleep hygiene. You hate sleep hygiene. You and I have been doing this a while now and we get asked different things that lead to or where the answer is sleep hygiene, and every time I say, “Look, you’ve got to pay attention to your sleep,” you literally look at me and roll your eyes. Why is the concept of sleep hygiene bother you so much? Michelle: I don’t know why it bothers me so much. It’s just the question of you should really get sleep, because sleep is important, and if you don’t get enough sleep you won’t feel good in the morning, and then you might have a bad day. So sleep hygiene really is important. Case closed. Gabe: I wish it was called, like, if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be a crabby ass and if you’re mentally ill and you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be a crazy crabby ass. Like wouldn’t that be cool? Now you’re getting into it. If the name explained how sleep makes you not a crazy crabby ass. Michelle: Well then, you need more sleep, Gabe. Gabe: Oh my God. I would call it get enough sleep so you’re not an asshole. Michelle: Yeah? Get enough sleep because you’re not an asshole? That’s your next book Gabe. Gabe: All of my books are just gonna have “asshole” in the title. And like when we get really big and famous you know my book is gonna be called? Michelle: Asshole? Gabe: I worked with an asshole. Michelle: I worked with an asshole? Gabe: We should get shirts that say I’m with asshole and it points to the left and yours points to the right and then we’ll just walk down the street together. Michelle: No, we don’t want to do that. I’ll walk on one side and you walk on the other side of the avenue view so everybody can think that we’re talking about everybody else. Gabe: That’s right because we are a unit, and we would never call each other assholes in public. Michelle: That’s right. I would never insult you, Gabe. Never. I never ever insulted you. I’ve never said anything mean about you. Gabe: You know it’s being recorded right? Michelle: Oh? There’s proof of that? Gabe: There’s so much proof now. Michelle: Oh no. What’s going on? Are people catching me in my lies? Maybe I told in my sleep. Do I need more sleep? Maybe I didn’t get my sleep hygiene enough? Oh no. Gabe: All sleep hygiene is, is paying attention to your sleep and doing the things that allow you to sleep well so that you wake up refreshed. Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. How we sleep is very important. Like for example, do you get in bed and toss and turn all night? That would be an example of poor sleep. Good sleep is if you stay relatively set and there’s things that you can do that contribute to good sleep hygiene. Like, only use your bed for sleep and sex. Other people use their beds for everything. Like for example, Michelle, your bed is basically the corporate offices of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Michelle: I live in New York City. Where am I supposed to put a desk? Gabe: You have a living room. Michelle: Where am I going to fit a desk in my living room? Gabe: You could put the desk in your bedroom. Michelle: Where the hell will a desk fit in my bedroom? Gabe: There is enough room for a desk. Michelle: No there is not. You obviously have never been to my apartment. Gabe: That’s not true. We taped an episode there. Michelle: I have three people in a two bedroom, Gabe. Gabe: All right I’ll give you that. I’ll give you that. Michelle: There is no room for it. Gabe: These are the struggles that people have then, right? What you’re saying is, “Look, I need to do things in my bed. This is important to me because I just don’t have a lot of space so I have my laptop. I sit in bed and I do things like record my show, do my writing, run my business. You do an amazing number of things in your bed. Michelle: You don’t even know my bed, Gabe. Not my bed. It has seen things you wouldn’t even believe. Gabe: That is not a sex joke. I’ve seen you prepare orders on your bed. You know, your T-shirt business and your clothing line and your leggings and all of that stuff. You know you get big orders and you’ve got packaging material, labelling, and everything all on your bed. You got like tape. Michelle: But that’s not usually on my bed. I don’t want people thinking that I’m like putting stuff on my bed like that. I make like you know layouts and stuff but I usually do it in my living room. Gabe: The point I’m making is that your bed is a flat surface in a place where a flat surface is at a premium so you can see why. But can you see why doing all of those things in your bed can create this idea in your body that when you were in your bed it’s not time to sleep? When you climb into bed, your body doesn’t know if you’re working on the next great project. Or if you’re trying to sleep. It kind of confuses you on a subconscious level a little bit. And that’s why the idea of just using your bed for sleep is good for sleep hygiene. For me in my house when I get into bed there’s nothing else to do there. Michelle: You have an office and a desk, Gabe. Gabe: Listen, you’re coming up with a lot of reasons that you can’t do it. But the bottom line is if you are having trouble sleeping. Michelle: I’m not having trouble sleeping. Gabe: Ok. In this case you don’t need to practice some of these sleep hygiene levels but there’s many people who do. Michelle: That’s true. What about? Do you remember that time I was like I’m going to get back out of bed at 10:00 every day? And you’re like lie! Gabe: Yeah. Michelle: Isn’t that kind of go sleep hygiene of sleeping far too late? Gabe: So not getting enough sleep is poor sleep hygiene, and getting too much sleep is also poor sleep hygiene. It’s getting the right amount of sleep and the next thing that I want to talk about is this magical eight hours. No, this is bullshit. It’s bullshit. It’s an average. The average person needs eight hours of sleep. When was the last time people with mental illness were ever considered the average person? So people are beating themselves up if they need too much sleep or if they’re not sleeping enough based on some number that they read on the Internet. Michelle: Yeah. Gabe: You can see where this would be. It’s like I slept 10 hours and I woke up feeling refreshed but I’m so lazy I slept two hours too long. If that’s the amount of sleep that you need that’s the amount of sleep that you need. And the reverse is also true. Well I only slept six hours I’m not getting enough sleep. Well do you wake up refreshed? Do you get tired throughout the day? Do you have enough energy? Then six hours is enough. You need sleep to survive. Michelle: Yes. Agreed. Yeah. Gabe: Yeah. You need sleep. Michelle: Right. We are not robots right. But if we were robots, maybe we’d need a plug? Gabe: Yeah. We don’t have plugs we’re not Priuses. Michelle: Oh we’re not? Gabe: We’re not. We’re not a Nissan Volt. I’m not a car. We’re not a Tesla. Gabe: Well, maybe if you run like jump on my back I can carry on and I’ll be a car. Gabe: There are so many reasons you’re not a Tesla. You’re not high quality. Michelle: Hey! Gabe: Nobody wants you. Michelle: Hey! Gabe: And you don’t run right. Michelle: I had a Hyundai. Gabe: Yeah? I can see you as a Hyundai. Michelle: Hey, shut up. Gabe: Hyundai’s are pretty, but they’re not very reliable, are you? Michelle: Not very reliable? Well, I had 2002 before they got pretty. Gabe: Oh, so you’re an ugly Hyundai? Michelle: I’m an ugly Hyundai, yes. One time it got hit by a preacher. Gabe: What? You actually had your car hit by God? Michelle: I’m pretty tired. Let’s hear from our sponsor. Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist, whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you.BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Gabe: We’re back talking sleep hygiene. Michelle’s favorite subject. If you’re having sleeping problems, it can be a couple of different things. One, it can just be the makeup of who you are as a person and there’s things that you can do to sleep better. Again like the whole dreaded only use your bed for sleep and sex and yes I know you live in New York City but there’s other things that you can do as well. Like, I have a ritual surrounding my bedtime and I know that people think that they’re you know they’re boring and lame or whatever and they are boring and lame, but they pay big big dividends. Michelle: What I was also going to say is that I do take a pill at night, and if I did not take that pill at night I would not sleep whatsoever. Gabe: Now is that pill to help you sleep or is that pill to treat schizophrenia? Michelle: No it was prescribed to help schizophrenia and. Gabe: So an added benefit? Michelle: Yes, it had the added benefit of knocking me out at night. If I did not take it.,I’d be up all night long. Gabe: That’s an interesting thing too. I have the same thing. There is a pill that pretty much knocked me out as well but it’s not a sleeping pill. It just one of the side effects is that it makes me sleepy, so I moved it to nighttime and this is where it becomes very good to understand what your medication does, what the side effects are, and how you can benefit. Michelle: Yeah, it’s one of those pills that always says on the bottle do not operate heavy machinery or drive a car when you take this medication. Gabe: You know, talk to your doctor about taking that at night because if you took it in the morning you’d be sleepy all day. By moving it to night, you can use the side effect to your advantage. Michelle: Absolutely. Gabe: You can take that pill at the same time every day, which by definition will make you fall asleep at the same time every day. Michelle: What usually happens is at night I get a little chatty with myself and I get told take your medicine. Have you taken your medicine yet? You need to take your medicine and I go Yeah OK I’ll take it because I start just talking to imaginary people going into the delusions and it’s kind of what happens. Gabe: But the people that are telling you to do that they’re not saying that mean? Like I’m. Michelle: No, not at all. Gabe: Kind of in a mocking way. You’re just trying to be funny right now. Michelle: Exactly. It’s not mocking it’s more like out of care. It’s like Are you OK. Did you take your medicine? Take it right now? Now you maybe you should go take your medicine now. Gabe: Like because we see you not in reality at the moment, and then you take that pill, you go to bed and then you get up the next morning refreshed? Michelle: Right. Gabe: Now another part of your sleep hygiene is when you wake up in the morning. You also need to immediately take your morning pills. So even though that’s not technically sleep hygiene, because it’s more part of your morning routine it’s sort of tangentially based. It is it is a thing that you need to do when you awaken. Michelle: Right. And if I get up and I don’t take my morning pills, I am just pacing around my apartment just just maybe for an hour just back and forth and I need somebody in the morning pretty much telling me go take your medicine. Otherwise I am just just going to dilly dally forever. Gabe: So even though you hate sleep hygiene, you’re sort of admitting that you’re practicing it. You take pills at the end of the day at the same time. Those pills help you sleep. Once you take the pills you go to sleep. Then you wake up at the same time every day. You take those pills and that helps you and when you’re away from people who don’t keep you on this schedule you stay up all night. You sleep all day and it wrecks your productivity. Michelle: Absolutely. Gabe: So even though you hate sleep hygiene you acknowledge that you benefit from it wildly? Michelle: Absolutely. But I just hate talking about sleep hygiene. Hate to talk about sleep hygiene and sleep. I think it’s just so annoying. Gabe: One of the reasons that I love sleep hygiene so much is because as somebody who has experienced mania and stayed up for three, four, or five days at a time, that was very dangerous and it was very bad. It was very bad for my relationships, it was very bad for jobs. I could have died. I lost complete control of my senses and faculties and if I would have gotten in a car or jumped off a roof. These are things that really could have harmed me. So that’s really really important and I know when I don’t get enough sleep the next day is awful. Here’s an example from recent memory, I stayed up pretty much all night because I have insomnia and the next day all I did was walk around and tell everybody I know that if I was dead the world be a better place. I wasn’t suicidal but it was close because I felt so bad. I just felt so rundown and so awful and it fed the depression. You remember I texted you and I’m just like this is stupid we shouldn’t do it anymore and you’re like What are you talking about? Michelle: I did not even know what to do at that point because I was just trying to comfort you I guess I was trying to be like What are you talking about, Gabe? I don’t know where this is coming from because that’s just not you. It’s not something you usually say. You’re usually very motivated. Gabe: And this was an example of behavior that came directly from not getting enough sleep. So as boring as sleep hygiene is you can see why it’s so important to me because I don’t want to walk around telling people that I’d be better off dead. Michelle: Yeah. Gabe: And I imagine that you probably don’t want to hear that I think that I’m better off dead. That’s got to be scary. Michelle: Yeah. Gabe: I mean I’d like to think that you love me. Michelle: I also want to bring up, do you not remember the little interview of Kanye West saying he’s not bipolar? He’s suffering from sleep deprivation? Do you know what a huge symptom of bipolar is? Gabe: Sleep deprivation? Michelle: Yes. As who is not practicing good sleep hygiene? Gabe: I’m going to go to Kanye West. Michelle: You’re right, Gabe. You’re right. Gabe: Here’s some quick hints and tips for people that are having trouble sleeping to help fall asleep at night. One I really strongly suggest only using your bed for sleep and sex but I also I have a sleep machine. Michelle: What if you have sex on your couch? Gabe: Look you’re going to do what you want. Nobody is saying that you can only have sex in your bed. Michelle: I’m just saying. Because then what if you’re having sex on your couch, you take a nap on your couch, and then you? Gabe: Let me stop you there. You should not nap on your couch. You should not sleep anywhere but in a bed or your own bed. And this of course, for people like us who travel a lot, this is very difficult and I’ll get to that in a minute because I want to go back to the sleep machine. People are like What the hell is a sleep machine? Michelle: What’s the sleep machine? Gabe: Yeah it’s really a sound machine. It’s like a white noise machine. I call it a sleep machine because I only use it for sleeping. So I turn it on and it helps regulate the room. You know it sounds like this. Are you ready? [cooing noise] So when I lay in bed that’s all I can hear, so it blocks out a lot of the external noise. It keeps the noise from going high and low and high and low. Research tells us that it’s noises that are out of the ordinary that wake us up. So, for example, people that live next to train tracks, they can sleep through the train because after a couple of weeks their body is expecting that noise. So that noise doesn’t wake them up. Michelle: That’s true. Gabe: It’s the same thing behind those fire alarms. Those smoke alarms where instead of beeping, you can record your voice or you can record your spouse’s voice or your mother’s voice. So it yells like, “Wake up, Michelle, the house is on fire!” Instead of beep beep beep. Michelle: I see what you’re saying. Gabe: Now listen, I’m gonna wake up immediately when I hear beep, beep, beep. But that’s just me and this is also why some people have alarm clocks that play the radio because they get used to the beeping in the morning, whereas the radio is always going to be different songs different sounds different you know rhythms etc. So it kind of forces them up in the morning and then some people have so much trouble getting up that they have you know like a vibrating pillow case. Which I didn’t even know existed until doing research about sleep. Michelle: I didn’t know that it existed until just this moment right now. Gabe: Yeah. The way that it works is it’s got a cord. You put it inside your pillow and you sleep on it and then when it’s time to get up the pillow shakes. Michelle: I would have never have guessed you sleep on your pillow. Gabe: I do sleep on my pillow. I sleep with my head on my pillow. I don’t need a vibrating pillow case, but I found out about this through the research, and I found out about it because the deaf community uses it and that makes sense because they can’t set an alarm. Michelle: Genius. Gabe: Yes, they use a vibrating pillow case and they also have vibrating pillow cases that are so advanced that they can hook into things like smoke alarms. So if the smoke alarm goes off it automatically vibrates the pillow. Michelle: You know I have an Alexa which connects to my partner’s cell phone and sometimes she’ll break into the Alexa going wake up wake up Are you awake? Wake up. But I’m like, oh my God, this bitch! Gabe: Wait, wait. How do I do that next time? Michelle: I’m not telling. Gabe: The next time you miss a meeting. Michelle: I’m not telling you how to get into my Alexa. Or it has like different alarms you can wake up to that whatever the hell his name is? Oh, I know what it was. That, that guy married to Gwen Stefani? What is his name? Gabe: Who is Gwen Stefani? Michelle: No, no. Gabe: Don’t speak. Just tell me what you’re feeling. Michelle: Shut up. His name is the guy that was voted sexiest man in America. What is his name? Gabe: The Rock? Michelle: No, Blake Shelton. Sometimes I wake up to just the alarm clock of Blake Shelton like Oh is it a morning? Can I get a beer or maybe I can get a coffee? Gabe: So it’s actually his voice? Michelle: It’s his voice waking me up. Yeah. Gabe: Talking about beer and coffee and these things help you get up at the same time every day because one of the dangers of not getting up at the same time every day is that you sort of reset your cycle. So let’s say for example that you go to bed at 8:00 and you get up at 8:00. Now that’s twelve hours of sleep and that’s a lot but let’s say that that’s how much you need and it’s also easy math for me. So you go to bed at 8:00 and you get up at 8:00 and that’s your twelve hour sleep pattern. But let’s say that one of those days you go to bed at midnight. Now if you follow your same 12 hours sleep pattern you’re gonna get up at noon. Well if you go to bed at midnight and you get up at noon that day what are the chances you’re going to fall asleep at 8:00 that night? You’re not. You’re going to go to sleep at midnight again and then you’re gonna be on a midnight to noon, midnight to noon, and that’s really going to reset your sleep schedule. So the best thing to do is that even though you stayed up too late and went to bed at midnight, you’re actually pretty wise to get up at 8:00 anyway. Or maybe push it to 9:00, but don’t get the full twelve hours. You might drag a little bit that day. But then at eight o’clock that night you’ll go to bed again. Sleep just really really impacts. It just does. It just does. Michelle: It does. I can’t tell you how many bosses have spoken to me about getting in on time and getting enough sleep. Gabe: Yeah. Whether you have mental illness or not, sleep can really impact the kind of day that you have. Find the most mentally healthy person that you can find and keep them up all night and then see how they act the next day. And when you’re living with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. The way that the sleep interacts with those illnesses is huge. I know that sleep is boring but it really is important. And so often getting more sleep, just like getting more exercise or eating healthier or showering or doing self care or coping mechanisms or taking our meds on time, sleep plays a vital role in keeping us healthy. And I know it’s boring, Michelle. Michelle: It’s just boring to talk about sleep hygiene. That’s what I think. But I understand sleep is important. I completely understand. I get it. Sleep yes sleep. I’ll go take a nap if you want me to take a nap. Gabe: No, napping is bad. Michelle: I’m sorry. Don’t take a nap. Don’t take a nap. Don’t ever take a nap. Naps are evil. Naps are evil. Gabe: Another thing that I want people to understand is that sleep matters. Sleep is a medical thing. If you are having trouble sleeping, that is a symptom. Report that to your psychiatrist or to your general practitioner or to your family doctor. So many people don’t report issues sleeping and so many doctors don’t ask people if they’re having trouble sleeping. If you are not getting enough sleep, if you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, please talk to your doctor. I know it’s not sexy. But, for real, this could be why you’re having side effects from medication. This could be why you’re having issues managing your mental illness. It might have nothing to do with mental illness at all. It might be a sleep problem but because so many people aren’t asking about it they’re not getting help with it. You know sleep. It is boring but it’s real necessary. Michelle: Gabe’s going to come out with a new shirt that says, “Sleep Matters.”. Gabe: Sleep does matter. Michelle: Sleep matters. Gabe: Do you think people would buy it? Michelle: I don’t see anyone who would buy that shirt. Gabe: I’d be like, “Define Sleep.” Michelle: Define sleep? What? No, sleep matters. Gabe: Don’t be paranoid, you sleep fine. Michelle: “Sleep matters if you don’t agree then stay awake.”. Gabe: How many words are you going to put on this? Michelle: This is going to be the longest shirt ever because when you’re done reading the shirt, you’re tired enough to sleep. Gabe: Hey, maybe this is like it’s an all natural, vegan, gluten free sleep aid? Michelle: Or by Gabe’s book. Mental illness is an asshole and it’ll put you to sleep. Gabe: That’s just so mean, that’s so mean. Michelle: No, you read enough, your eyes get tired you go to bed. Just get a little itty bitty book light. Gabe: A little itty bitty book light to strain your eyes and get glasses? We’re going to do another show on make sure you have enough light to read. Michelle: I didn’t know that that was a thing, that book lights were a bad thing. I’m so sorry I insulted book lights. Oh no I didn’t know. Gabe: We’re gonna get letters for this one. Michelle: I didn’t know. It’s a book light. Book light or bulb lights were bad. I thought book lights were good. Gabe: Also, they’re not “book lights.” They’re “lights living for books.” Get it right. Michelle: Oh my goodness. I can’t stop insulting the world about books and sleeping and and the world and Kanye West doesn’t get enough sleep. All sleep deprived and what’s going on? And setting alarms and Alexa wakes you up and there’s a dog sleeping on the floor right now. Who knows what’s going on in the world? Gabe, there’s a dog right there sleeping. Taking a nap. Peppy, no naps. Oh, you woke up. Good. Gabe: You just yelled at my dog. Michelle: He’s taking a nap and you said No naps. You said No naps. You said and he’s napping. Gabe: You yelled his name and he jumped up like you fired a gun at him. Michelle: You said No naps and I see him napping. Gabe: He thinks he’s in trouble. What did you do? Michelle: You’re not in trouble but your father doesn’t allow naps, Peppy. Behave. Gabe: Now would be a good time to point out that the rules for animals and the rules for people often differ. For example, people should not see veterinarians. They should go to people doctors. Michelle: People doctors? Gabe: People doctors. Michelle: People doctors? That’s what they’re called? Gabe: Yeah. Michelle: I agree. Gabe: We need a closing. What do we got? What do we got? Michelle: In conclusion. In conclusion, if you want to have a good prosperous life, practice good sleep hygiene and make Gabe happy because he really likes this topic. Everyone, if you like A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast, subscribe to us on iTunes. Listen to us everywhere, write us a review, give us five stars, tell us you love us, tell the world you love us, share everything. We love you and we hope you love us. Thank you everybody. Announcer: You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episode, don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe, rate, and review. To work with Gabe, go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle, go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups, head over to PsychCentral.com. This show’s official web site is PsychCentral.com/BSP. You can e-mail us at show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening, and share widely. Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com. MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC. View the full article