Aging

All the Single Ladies — What’s Going On?

“So what’s the secret for getting a good marriage? asked my friend Ellen.

“Choose wisely and learn what it takes to stay happily married,” I blurted out. Yet many of us first need to believe that we can succeed in marriage.

It’s strange when you think about it how little planning is typically given when it comes to decisions about marriage. Do romance and planning sound like concepts that don’t belong in the same sentence? In fact, both are needed for a good marriage.

Why shouldn’t planning happen?
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Bipolar

Bipolar Disorder: A Patient’s Definition

When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2003, I knew exactly one thing about it: Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, had it. And he died by suicide in 1994. As a Nirvana fan, I paid attention to the news about his life -- and death -- but, with the exception of repeating the diagnosis over and over again, little information about bipolar disorder itself was reported.

Essentially, I knew that a famous millionaire couldn’t beat it. I also knew it was a mental illness, which meant I was broken -- so broken that I could no longer participate in society. Some of my earliest thoughts immediately after being diagnosed revolved around selling my house, quitting my job, and moving into a group home -- things I never needed to do, but simply assumed I would have to.
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

A Recipe for Recovery: Ingredients for Good Mental Health


I believe mental health self-care starts with the right medication. The right medications are crucial for recovery. Personally, I have realized finding the right combination of drugs really makes the difference between being well or unwell.

Medications, while imperfect, are the leading treatment for mental illness and could make the difference between being high-functioning or going through a lot of pain. There are a few principles that help when choosing to take medication. Do not go off prescribed medication without consulting your doctor. Psychotropic medications are powerful, with serious side effects. Withdrawal can cause, at the very least, a flare in mental health symptoms.

Secondly, when making medication changes, work with a doctor, do it slowly and pay attention to the warning signs of relapse. Third of all, do research on medications. Know the side effects, in particular how to detect them and how to reduce them. 
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Happiness

3 Tips to Worry Less

I worry to some extent, of course, but I don’t think I worry as much as a lot of people. Many people worry about how much they worry!

The New York Times recently had an interesting article by Roni Caryn Rabin titled “Worried? You’re Not Alone.” In it, Rabin points out several intriguing findings in a Liberty Mutual Insurance research paper, the “Worry Less Report.” Apparently Millennials worry about money. Single people worry about housing (and money). People worry less as they grow older.

Some people -- for instance, like my sister Elizabeth -- feel that if they do worry about something, they’ll somehow prevent a bad thing from happening. Rabin points out, very sensibly, “Researchers say this notion is reinforced by the fact that we tend to worry about rare event, like plane crashes, and are reassured when they don’t happen, but we worry less about common events, like car accidents.”
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Happiness

7 Ways Knowing Yourself Leads to More Happiness


You need to know yourself a little better.

Who are you when no one sees you? When you have an opportunity to spend time alone, how do you fill that time? Just as importantly, what do you leave out?

When you know yourself well, you can answer these questions easily. When you don’t understand yourself, not only are the questions more difficult, days drift together rather than develop with a sense of organization and purpose.

So how do you know yourself better at any age? Tune in to your core.
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General

The Beauty of Intentional Forgetting

We store memories using a variety of contexts -- sights, sounds, smells, who was there, the weather, etc. Context helps us retrieve these memories later. For instance, my husband recently made roast chicken and collard greens. It was a normal Sunday night, then the collards hit the iron skillet and I was transported back to 1994. It smelled just like Tuesday night dinner at my Maw-Maw’s house. Walking into the kitchen, I fully expected her to be there at the stove stirring a pot of red beans with ham hocks.

The next morning my home still smelled like it, and it was like she was with me while I showered and got dressed. It was comforting. Of course it was, I love my grandmother very much. But what about the memories you don’t love? What about the times you’ve stuck your foot in your mouth? What about the time you were tyrannically insistent about something and turned out to be wrong? What about the time you cheated on your significant other? What about the time you were dumped?
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General

Senate Summit on Mental Health #MentalHealthReform & A Patchwork of Care

It's time for mental health reform in the United States. And at the Senate Summit on Mental Health, a bipartisan meeting organized by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), we learned exactly what is propelling the need for action.

This is important stuff in the U.S. -- really important -- on par with the parity efforts that made headlines years ago. (Parity was the legislation needed to ensure that insurance companies stopped discriminating against mental illness, which they had regularly done since the 1990s.)

"It's not the end... [but] it's a great next step," said Sen. Cassidy, speaking at the Summit on the latest revision of the bill.

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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: May 27, 2016

I'm a lot better than I once was. But when it comes to self-compassion I'm still a work-in-progress.

If you've ever met a tough inner voice with excuses, defense statements and harsh accusations, then you're probably seeking help too.

You can't solve the problem by beating yourself up. You can't get answers with food, distractions and perfectionism. I know because I've tried it. You can't get happy or find peace until you address that deeper issue of self-worth.

There's no fast and easy solutions. Before you set boundaries, help your anxious child and heal your relationship with food, you need to work on this primary relationship.

To create the life you crave, you need to practice being kind to the most important and consistent person in your life-yourself.
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Anxiety and Panic

5 Tips to Stop Panic Attacks in Their Tracks


Quiet your mind, calm your heart... and reclaim your life.

You wake up one morning, happy that your life is finally on track. After enduring one painful break up after another, you’re finally free of deadbeat guys and loser relationships.

Months of fighting and bickering are finally over, and for the first time in a long time, you’re elated — comfortable in your own surroundings and not carrying the dead weight of a man who could never be your one and only.

But even under the veil of turning lemons into lemonade, something isn’t right.

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Anxiety and Panic

Calling All Perfectionists

In my obsession with perfection, I forgot a valuable life lesson: pretty good can be perfection too.

Adventurous and fun-loving and driven and studious, I have sought it all. The dreamy vacation, the fulfilling career, the steamy romance. But the mind has always craved more.

Growing up, I would spend hours poring over an essay. I rehearsed clever rejoinders before dates. I would analyze events from 2002. I am laughing and cringing at these memories.

I was comfortable in my skin as long as I met my own exacting standards.
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Creativity

The Joy of No Sex

Full disclosure: I work in advertising. It's an industry where husky-voiced, hair-flicking women smolder in ads selling cat food and sneakers, and where shirtless hunks flex fuzz-free pecs to sell salad dressing and synthetic butter.

The following viewpoint will therefore get me into trouble, which I’m familiar with.

Here are two commonsense truisms:

While great sex is joyful, lousy sex is not
Happiness is possible without a daily grind (I’m not talking coffee)

Yet for reasons such as the availability heuristic -- a cognitive shortcut that encourages us to think of commonplace examples in our everyday environment when making decisions -- we often overestimate the importance to our well-being of having regular sex. When we pause to think of the world around us, we more often remember non-nude pretzel-like scenarios in which we were happy.
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