Brain and Behavior

5 Ways to Bounce Back from Sticking Your Foot in Your Mouth

I didn’t earn the nickname “Tourette's” for my great small talk skills. If there is a way to accidentally offend someone, I will find it. Here are some of my favorites:

My daughter Katherine is named after my grandmother and my great-grandmother, two very strong women in our family tree whom I wanted to celebrate in my girl's name.

When I took Katherine to meet her third-grade teacher, the teacher asked her, “What would you like to be called?”

She responded, “Katie.”

Taken aback, I immediately retorted, “No! No, no, no! … You don’t want to be called Katie! … Katherine is so much more sophisticated.” I went on and on about why she should not be called Katie. (I do like the name Katie for every Katie who is reading this, but I was attached to Katherine for heritage reasons.)
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Anxiety and Panic

The Perks of Being a Highly Sensitive Person

I wanted to take my daughter to the mall. That shouldn’t be so difficult, right?

I overheard her on the phone saying to a friend, “You’re so lucky that your mom likes to shop. My mom HATES the mall.”

It’s true. Malls, like carnivals and amusement parks, give me anxiety. They always have. When I was my daughter’s age (11), adults and peers thought there was something seriously wrong with me because I relaxed under a tree at Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio, while my sisters and friends headed to The Beast -- the tallest, fastest, and longest wooden roller coaster in the world when it was built in 1979.
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Is Depression Always a Disease?

Like most mental health writers, I have compared depression to illnesses like diabetes in the past, and stressed the biochemical aspect of mood disorders in my efforts to reduce stigma. Somehow talking about the gene G72/G30 located on chromosome 13q (that may predispose individuals to depression and bipolar disorder) makes it more legitimate, as if the gene proves we aren’t making it up.

However, the more I read about how abuse, trauma, and chronic stress --unresolved issues of all kinds -- can cause and aggravate depression, the less I want to compare it to diabetes.
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Brain and Behavior

How Mental Health Is Like Pulling Weeds

Yard work has ben one of the banes of my existence, and this was especially true when I was young. I hated yard work so much that I would rather have had dental work done in a back alley van than work in the yard.

One of the activities I detested the most was pulling weeds. My parents told me that I had to go around and pull the weeds out of the ground by hand -- I had to bend down and play tug-of-war with them until the entire weed finally gave in and let go of the earth. Then I discovered another way: I could run them over with the lawn mower. It was a genius plan! No bending, grabbing, or pulling!

I had really saved myself some time and effort; except there was one tiny problem. I didn’t know the reason my parents wanted me to yank out the weeds by hand (I assumed they were just torturing me).
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Anxiety and Panic

How I Used Radical Acceptance

I’ve lived with schizophrenia for almost ten years now and throughout that time the one thing that has hounded through recovery and otherwise is the paranoia that people were making fun of me. It has been a constant fear that causes me to freak out, sometimes at the most inopportune times and it’s been a major catalyst in my recovery and for a lot of the things I do.

The problem is that I was living under that fear, I was constantly afraid of people doing or saying something negative about me that I acted in a way, down to my body language in a way that I thought would please them the most.

This is no way to live.
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Psychology Around the Net: February 20, 2016

Good afternoon, Psych Central readers!

First, I have to apologize for the late post. Generally, I try to publish these earlier in the day, but, alas. Technology is a wonderful thing, but unfortunately there are some blips along the way -- and I've had a few connection issues over the last couple of days.

Fortunately, that didn't stop me from collecting some fascinating pieces for you over the week, so let's get down to business, shall we?

Read on for the latest about mountaintop removal's affect on mental health, how your personality affects your taste in music, yet another research report on marijuana use and its contributions to mental illness, and more.

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How to Combat Harmful Sarcasm and Negativity

When someone sends a little negativity your way, it might feel good to reflect it back at them. They should feel bad for raining on your parade, right?

“Your report isn’t ready yet? Seriously?” someone asks exasperatedly.

“No, it’s not ready,” you reply, “probably because I work twice as many accounts as you do.” Burn! Nice one!

But what becomes of a room when negativity gets thrown around left and right? The energy goes sour.
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Brain and Behavior

How Highly Sensitive People Can Shield Themselves from Negativity

Feelings can be contagious. The highly sensitive person, also known as an empath, is no stranger to catching the feelings of others. They are very perceptive of the emotions and underlying motivations of others. They have a keen intuition and have probably been referred to as "too sensitive" before.

Because they process so much sensory information in their environment, they tend to become overstimulated and stressed out.* Much like an introvert, they need restorative downtime, time away from the sometimes negative energy of others. But what about stopping this process before it gets you down? What about selecting the emotions we want to process and not contracting the ones we don't?
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Brain and Behavior

How I Deal with Stress as a Person with Schizophrenia

I’m no stranger to stress. Having lived with schizophrenia for ten years I can tell you there have numerous times when the amount of stress I was having was causing me to experience things which were outside the scope of reality.

That’s the thing about stress for people with mental illness, it’s like a light switch that when pushed to extremes can trigger everything from paranoia to delusions to hallucinations all under the banner of psychosis.

All said, stress is not a good thing for people with mental illness.
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