Archive for May, 2012

Why Saying No in Your Relationship Is a Good Thing

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Why Saying No in Your Relationship Is a Good ThingMany of us hate hearing the word “No.” And many of us don’t like saying it either. You might be especially uncomfortable with saying no to your partner. Often people think that going along with their partner’s requests will be good for their relationship.

Less disagreement equals less conflict, they assume. Some people don’t even get that far. They just have a hard time voicing their opinions or needs altogether.

But saying yes all the time when you don’t really mean it can actually backfire and damage your relationship. For instance, it can build resentment, according to Andrew Wald, LCSW-C, a psychotherapist who works with couples and co-author of Togetherness: Creating and Deepening Sustainable Love. You also may become enmeshed as a couple and less of your own person, he said.

By saying no, you’re creating a boundary. And boundaries are essential for any healthy relationship. Unfortunately, boundaries tend to get a bad rap, Wald said, because they’re viewed as keeping partners away from each other.

Subthreshold Bipolar Disorder

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Subthreshold Bipolar DisorderSubthreshold bipolar disorder is a set of bipolar symptoms that don’t quite meet the definition of bipolar disorder. Think of it as “bipolar lite.” There is no single, agreed-upon definition for this disorder. For instance, if you need 3 symptoms to meet the criteria for a manic episode, sub-threshold bipolar disorder might be met with fewer symptoms, or require that the symptoms be met for a lesser period of time.

In other words, it’s a way of characterizing people as having a potential mental illness — but who do not yet have one.

The DSM — the reference book that defines mental disorders — is under revision for a new edition to be published next year. One of the considerations is subthreshold bipolar disorder.

Yet Mark Zimmerman, MD points out that this is probably a bad idea. And I’d have to agree.

Medicating Mental Illness for Life

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Medicating Mental Illness for LifeI wake up at the same time every single day. It is 6 a.m. The birds sing outside my single-paned window, and my partner sleeps beside me. I close my eyes and work to will myself back to sleep: It would be nice to sleep until 8 a.m., maybe even 9 a.m. But I get frustrated and I get anxious and soon I have made my way to the kitchen where I make myself strong coffee and sit in front of my laptop.

But I’m forgetting something. It’s important, I’m sure of it.

I sip my coffee, turn on my laptop, and remember: My pills.

I cannot forget to take my pills. Disastrous things happen. Things I try to forget and things that keep me up at night. It’s never easy living with bipolar disorder but the medication keeps me stable, most of the time, and that is invaluable in and of itself.

7 Tips for Good Behavior… From the 16th Century

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

7 Tips for Good Behavior... From the 16th CenturyOne thing that’s true about happiness — there are very few new truths out there.

The greatest minds in history have turned their attention to the subject, so while it’s often challenging to put that wisdom into actual practice, it’s pretty clear what kinds of actions are likely to yield a happier life.

Likewise, “tips lists” have been around for a long time. I get a big kick out of uncovering tips lists from the past: Sydney Smith’s tips for cheering yourself up from 1820, Francis Bacon’s tips for how to be happy from 1625, Lord Chesterfield’s tips for pleasing in society from 1774.

In De Civilitate Morum Puerilium Libellus: A Handbook on Good Manners for Children, Erasmus gave seven tips about how to behave yourself around other people. He wrote this list around 1500 A.D., and his advice has a long shelf life.

A Voice for the 20-Something Generation

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

A Voice for the 20-Something GenerationBeing 20-something tends to be romanticized. Despite the appeal of independence, finally integrating into the ‘real world,’ or the overall fulfillment that’s found in the process of becoming who you are, there is also something to be said for the infamous ‘quarter-life crisis.’

It peaks as recent graduates navigate the stressors of post-college life, a bleak economy, and the complexities of romantic relationships. As someone who’s going through the motions, I began to view being this age as a time akin to a second stage of puberty — a little awkward and a little terrifying.

Lena Dunham, 25, created and stars in “Girls,” a television series that tells the story of four 20-somethings finding out that the ‘real world’ doesn’t exactly resemble Sex and the City. Instead of Carrie Bradshaw’s glamorous Manhattan lifestyle, these girls live in Brooklyn, wearing clothes from thrift stores and opting for the affordable beer over a cosmopolitan.

Video: Tending the Family Heart – Family is a Verb

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

You may not be aware, but our own Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker has an e-book entitled Tending the Family Heart that highlights the importance of creating and nurturing the “heart part” of our families — that almost magical bond that interconnects every family member with all the others.

According to Dr. Marie’s philosophy, it is the heart that provides safety and warmth to all within its embrace. It is what transforms the very ordinary and repetitious tasks of daily life into expressions of mutual support and care. It is what celebrates the dailyness of love and belonging and helps everyone cope in times of challenges, separations, and even tragedies. When the “heart part” is strong, it provides both children and adults with what they need emotionally and psychologically to become their best versions of themselves in spite of whatever stresses come their way.

Psych Central’s Ask the Therapists Daniel J. Tomasulo, Ph.D. & Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. discuss Dr. Marie’s bestselling parenting book and how “family” is actually a verb in this video.

How I Create: Q&A with Poet & Writer Samantha Reynolds

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

How I Create: Q&A with Poet & Writer Samantha Reynolds

What I love about poetry is that it breaks the boundaries of language. In poetry anything goes, and that’s exciting for the creative process.

That’s why I was thrilled to interview poet and writer Samantha Reynolds for our monthly series. I only recently discovered Reynolds’s popular poetry blog, www.bentlily.com, but it’s already become an important inspiration for me.1

It has inspired me to write poetry again, and sharpened how I see the world, paying attention to the smallest details, finding beauty in the smallest of things. And I bet her poetry will inspire you, too.

Only a year ago, in 2011, Reynolds pledged to write one poem a day to try to “be present” and not miss the fleeting first year of her son’s life. Now she wouldn’t know how to stop even if she wanted to. Bentlily has sparked a movement of people around the world to slow down and savor their lives.

When not racking up reams of poetry, Reynolds runs Echo Memoirs, a publishing company specializing in personal memoirs and company histories. She lives in Vancouver, BC, with two of the loveliest men in the world.

1. Do you incorporate creativity-boosting activities into your daily routine? If so, what activities do you do?

I walk around the lake outside our house. The fresh air is a remarkably effective weapon to slay the stuckness.

Footnotes:

  1. It arrives in my inbox daily. I also bought her collection of poems, so I can dog-ear the pages of favorite poems and double-underline my favorite phrases. []

Doctors Don’t Grieve, Residents Don’t Sleep

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Doctors Dont Grieve, Residents Dont SleepMany doctors appear to believe they aren’t human — and don’t have normal human needs like the rest of us. At least according to two new studies recently released.

In an opinion piece published in Sunday’s New York Times, researcher Leeat Granek shares the results of two studies that suggest to her that, “Not only do doctors experience grief, but the professional taboo on the emotion also has negative consequences for the doctors themselves, as well as for the quality of care they provide.”

A different study released by the JAMA journal, Archives of Surgery, last week found that residents don’t get as much sleep as ordinary professionals get — which directly impacts their ability to concentrate and be mentally attentive.

Combined, these studies add to the picture that’s been painted for years by research — that doctors believe they are somehow “super human” and beyond the reach of normal human needs, for both their body and their mind. It’s a disturbing picture, and one that the medical education establishment needs to remedy sooner rather than later.

Best of Our Blogs: May 29, 2012

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Negative emotions are extremely difficult for me. I’m a very glass-half-full type of girl, and whenever I come across anger, shame or deep sadness (my own or someone else’s), I can feel my body tighten and my mind race into panic mode. Being in pain, or seeing other people in pain, is one of the hardest things for me to witness, even with years of meditation and self-soothing practices.

While I may be more sensitive than a lot of people (thanks to PsychCentral’s ample literature on Emotionally Sensitive individuals, I’m quite certain that’s exactly who I am), no one with a working heart likes to see or feel the raw, aching sensation of shame or the rough, cutting sting of grief. Get this outta my face! We think, our first reaction to push it as far away as possible from our consciousness. But actually, pushing negative emotions away is one of the worst things we can do for our healing process.

Our most popular blogs from the last few days take a long, hard look at the less-than-exquisite emotional weather we all must face at some point in our lives, and offer coping strategies to sail through them to calmer waters.

7 Tips for Giving Praise and Gold Stars

Monday, May 28th, 2012

7 Tips for Giving Praise and Gold StarsOh, I’m a gold star junkie. I always want to see those gold stars stuck to the top of my homework. I crave praise, appreciation, recognition.

I’ve done a lot to combat my craving for gold stars1.

I also try hard to give other people the gold stars they deserve. As my mother once told me, “Most people probably don’t get the appreciation they deserve.” Like my own mother!

But it’s not always easy to dole out those gold stars in an effective way. So here are 7 tips that may help you.

Footnotes:

  1. Here are 5 tips for dealing with feeling unappreciated []

In Honor of the Fallen 2012

Monday, May 28th, 2012

In Honor of the Fallen 2012Memorial Day is a solemn occasion to remember the fallen who have …

Helping Your Partner Manage Bipolar Disorder

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Helping Your Partner Manage Bipolar Disorder In their must-read book, Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner, authors Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston, PsyD, provide a wealth of information on how readers can support their partners with managing their illness. Each chapter features practical and wise ideas on better understanding bipolar disorder and working together to identify problems, triggers and effective solutions.

One of these tips is creating comprehensive lists of behaviors and activities that minimize symptoms and those that don’t. It can be tough to know how to help your partner, and sometimes, naturally, your own frustration, confusion and anger may get in the way.

Plus, some of the behaviors and activities that work may not be intuitive or automatic for you, especially if you’re stuck in old patterns. In fact, according to Fast and Preston, you may be surprised to learn that “bipolar disorder often doesn’t respond to traditional problem-solving behaviors.”

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