Bipolar

Ode to the Duke

I saw my shrink today. I call him “The Duke.”

We had a perfectly fine half-hour meeting. He wrote me some scripts and listened to my current take on my life. Mainly, we talked about my son Tommy’s fear of entering sixth grade. The Duke warned me that the junior high years are awful and to brace myself. The Duke is a straight shooter. At the end of the appointment, I asked him how he thought I was doing.

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Caregivers

Good Qualities of Adult Children of Mentally Ill Mothers

There isn’t really a huge trumpet blowing for the qualities that blossom in the children of mentally ill mothers. Not even much of a toot. But there’s a whole orchestra booming about the downsides: the lack of self-esteem, difficulty forming relationships, trusting people, or most uplifting of all: the inevitability of developing your very own mental illness.

Just for once, let’s not go to that particular concert. Because maybe, if you’re the child of a mentally ill mother, you also have the capacity for things like this:

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Bullying

Family Matters: Self-Preservation Tips

“Maybe when he is older, he will understand mental health’s impact. He will have a girlfriend and, one day, he will get it,” my late mother whispers to me.

I nod, more to appease my weary mother. Her eyes glow when discussing her three sons. With an infectious cackle and mischievous smile, she would tease me about my eccentricities. When I absentmindedly misplaced that night’s homework assignment, she would endearingly refer to me as “Barnacle Breath.”

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Addiction

6 Reasons Why I Hate My Therapist

Editor's Note: This is intended to be a humorous piece.
So just when you are getting sick and tired of all those people giving you heartache for no apparent reason at all, you decide to shoot yourself in the head and find yourself a therapist so that he can give you more heartache than all the people put together.

But there is one big difference between now and then: Earlier you were getting your heartache for free. This time you are paying for it.
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Aging

How to Deal with Difficult Parents

As kids, we put our parents on a pedestal. When we were growing up, they could heal every wound, solve every problem and fix anything that was broken.

As adults, we realize they don’t actually know everything and also have shortcomings. Sometimes, the tables turn -- our parents begin to come to us for financial help, relationship advice, or career guidance. We may start to feel like we are their parents and have come into a role of supporting them much sooner than we expected.

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ADHD and ADD

Confidence-Building and the Special Olympics

Tommy was terrified to travel to Columbus. He was scheduled to compete in the Special Olympics that weekend. Tommy has anxiety disorder, ADHD and autism, and anything out of the ordinary such as a road trip to a place he’d never been before threw him way off. “Talk to Daddy,” he kept telling me. “I don’t want to go. Can you tell him I don’t want to go?”

Steve was not surprised at Tommy’s resistance to going to a new place and doing a new activity. It was the story of our lives.

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Caregivers

How to Promote Your Child’s Good Mental Health

Everyone knows the importance of good mental health, but how do you help your children achieve it? Here are some points to consider.

1. Give your child unconditional love.

Every child deserves and needs unconditional love from his or her parents and other family members. Love, security and acceptance form the bedrock for a child’s good mental health. Make sure your child knows that your love doesn’t depend on them getting good grades...
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Anxiety and Panic

Spirituality vs. Mental Disorders: God Doesn’t Hate Medication

I grew up in a family that had high expectations of me, and I have personally struggled with anxiety. For several years, I thought that my anxiety was a normal part of life. I didn’t realize that I should not have been having full-blown anxiety at the age of nine, but I was.

My family didn’t believe in mental illnesses, besides those that were obvious to the untrained eye. We did, however, attend a church regularly. I was highly interested in Christianity and studied it on my own. I was able to combat the unnatural anxiety through my relationship with God, and was able to overcome the anxiety throughout middle and high school. College, however, was different.
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Brain and Behavior

Mom Knows Best: Overcoming Life’s Hardships

Life bruises. For others, it cripples. And, for a select few, it empowers.

As we marvel at others’ resilience during uncommon adversity, what lessons are applicable to our lives?

On a gloomy October day, the doctor’s diagnosis numbed us. “Pancreatic cancer,” he spat out. My aunt and I recoiled. The word -- cancer -- buzzed in our ears. Shoulders slumping, our mist-filled eyes met. We were dazed; cancer happens to others. Not our familial matriarch.
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Caregivers

Overcoming Adoption Fear and Doubt

The main reasons for adoption are pretty clear to me now that we’ve adopted a baby. A man and a woman get to be parents. A child without parents receives parents. The birth mother knows that her child will be well cared for. To me, it’s clearly a win/win/win situation.

But some people just plain don’t want to adopt. These are some of the issues people voice:

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Caregivers

The Psychological Impact of Divorce on Adult Children

I recently viewed the 2013 comedy, "A.C.O.D," starring Adam Scott, Clark Duke, Richard Jenkins, and Catherine O’Hara. "A.C.O.D" showcases a serious storyline in a comedic light, while addressing the psychological impact divorce can have on adult children. While I can’t speak to such an experience firsthand, I was intrigued by the subject matter. Even though they’re no longer kids, adult children may still carry the weight of divorce and unresolved childhood issues on their shoulders.

Maybe such effects manifest in their romantic relationships. They may be wary of long-term commitment. Maybe they encounter heightened stress when they’re sifting through their parents’ leftover anger and resentment, still feeling as if they have to choose sides.

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Brain and Behavior

The Healing Power of Hugs

One day several years ago, I spontaneously hugged a patient of mine, Gretchen. It was during a moment in which her despair and distress were so intense that it seemed cruel on a human level not to reach out my arms to her, in the event that she might derive some relief or comfort from an embrace. She hugged me for dear life.

Months later, Gretchen reported to me that the hug had changed her. “The motherly embrace you gave me that day,” she said, “lifted the depression I have had all my life.”

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