Caregivers

Caregiving: Trading Solitude for a New Place of Wholeness


For many years, I looked to solitude as a sacred space for nurturing my soul. My routine was to get up early, retreat to a small desk by a window, light a candle, and then meditate while waiting for the sun to rise. I found this morning ritual deeply satisfying and helpful in setting an intention for the day. I never posted an actual “Do not disturb” sign, but I certainly relished this time alone for meditating, reflecting, and journal writing.

But then things changed. My husband became chronically ill, and I became his caregiver. This meant being available and responsive to his needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Why We Hide

The wise Seth Godin recently posted a blog titled "Hiding." He included these words: "We hide by avoiding things that will change us ... We hide by asking for reassurance. We hide by letting someone else speak up and lead ... We live in fear of feelings."

Shame is the hiding emotion. Here are some of my thoughts on the origin of hiding:

Continue Reading

Caregivers

The Embodiment of Motherhood

As my tired eyes squint from the harshness of a brightly lit grocery store, my gaze follows all different types of mothers: young and old, frazzled and worn, rested and carefully put together. These are your average, run-of-the-mill mothers, standing impatiently at the grocery store with newborns in baby carriers and a toddler navigating an iPad with impish delight.

As my gaze slides to the scuffed tile and lands upon my feet, I have an epiphany. It is a realization that I am not only one of these mothers, I am the embodiment of all these mothers. I never thought I would even partake in motherhood, let alone have it embody my entire life.

Continue Reading

Alcoholism

5 Tips for Building a Healthy Relationship with Your Teenager

As any parent will know -- or at least will have been warned -- a child’s teenage years can be some of the toughest. It can be particularly hard if their parents are divorced or separated.

A whirlwind combination of puberty, hormones, high school years, and the growing need for independence can be a challenge for any parent. In a household with a teenager, every day can seem like a battle -- sometimes over the smallest things. As a parent, you want to be able to love and guide your child like you always have, but you need to understand that just as they’re changing, your relationship with them needs to change as well. These are some of the most formative years of their lives, so it’s good for them to know that their parents are there for them, and are willing to realize that they have a young adult who deserves their respect and guidance.

Continue Reading

Caregivers

The Effects of Overparenting on Children

The term helicopter parenting was coined in 1969 by Dr. Haim Ginott, psychotherapist and parent educator, in his book “Between Parent and Teenager.” A helicopter parent is defined as someone who is overprotective or overly interested in their child’s life. Several examples of this include telling a child how to play correctly, brushing a child’s teeth for him when he is a healthy 12-year-old, completing a child’s science project for her, cutting meat at the dinner table for a 16-year-old boy, or talking to a college professor about an adult child's grades.

Being an involved parent is not a bad thing. Being active in a child’s life can increase the child's confidence, build a closer bond between parent and child, and increase chances of the child being a successful adult. But where is the line that divides the actively involved parent and the overly involved parent?

Continue Reading

ADHD and ADD

I Am a Special-Needs Parent Raising a Special-Needs Child

My 11-year-old son Sam has anxiety disorder, for which he takes a daily dose of Zoloft. He’s also being treated with Adderall for ADHD. And he was recently diagnosed with autism.

I’m 52 years old and bipolar. I ingest a nightly cocktail of four psychotropic meds.

Because both son and mother have notable disabilities, the going, as they say, can get rough. Thank goodness, Sam's father and my husband, Pete, has both feet planted firmly on the ground and is without mental illness.
Continue Reading
Comment Announcement

Caregivers

5 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Spouse after Baby

If you’re a new or expectant parent, you’re probably relishing all of the joy, excitement and memories your new baby will bring. You’re also probably fretting over the changes and challenges that will occur, too.

No one prepares us for the relationship struggles that happen after a baby arrives. We don’t realize how taxing sleep deprivation, uncertain parenting roles, money worries and everyday stressors can be on our marriage. You soon realize that your precious arrival has set off a bigger cascade of problems between you and your spouse than you ever knew possible.

Continue Reading

Bipolar

Living through a Medication Change

I was diagnosed with bipolar illness in 1991. Since then, I’ve taken a variety of drugs, starting with Lithium and moving forward to drugs that worked and felt better on my psyche.

For five years, I’ve taken a nightly cocktail of meds including Depakote, Cymbalta, Clomipramine and
Trilafon.

On these drugs, I was perfectly stabilized and high-functioning. I could hold down a part-time job, raise a child, take care of a home and a hubby, and work on a freelance writing career.
Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Exhausted Mothers, It’s Not Your Fault that You Feel Like This

I felt like that, too. I was head over heels in love with my daughters, but that didn't protect me. I had been so determined to be the best mother I could be that I dedicated myself to the job beyond reason and became exhausted and depleted in the process. I wondered if perhaps I was a bad mother. But actually, I am surprised nearly all mothers don’t suffer like this. Here's why it's not our fault.

Motherhood is tough
This is the hardest job I have ever had. Heaven and hell at the same time. Frequent interruptions, lack of control over the agenda, constantly switching tasks, too much to do, emotional outbursts, no holidays -- all when while I'm sleep-deprived.
Continue Reading

Bullying

I Won’t Make the Same Mistakes My Parents Made

“I will not make the same mistakes my parents made.” It may be one of the most common sentiments in the world of parenting. But when we express this desire, it is often met with rolled eyes or some other doubtful response. Why is that? Deep down inside, I think we all sense it is much more complicated than we are willing to acknowledge.

Changing our parenting approach from the way we were raised is extremely difficult. The only easy solution is to swing the parenting pendulum to the opposite extreme, which does very little to improve the situation.

It is as though we are hardwired to behave in the same manner. In reality, that may be the truth. Our brain has been wired to perceive reality in a certain way.

Continue Reading

Caregivers

Coming to Terms with a Chronic Illness

It can be difficult to deal with a diagnosis of a chronic illness. News of a long-term or lifelong condition can take its toll on both your physical and mental health. It can also affect your relationships, home, career and finances.

Each person diagnosed with a chronic illness likely will react differently. There will be challenging times ahead, but adopting certain strategies and knowing that you are not alone can help you cope in the best way possible.

Continue Reading

Addiction

Mental Health in America: A Shakespearean Tragedy

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 16 million adults in the United States experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2012. Major Depressive Disorder is defined as “Depressed mood and/or loss of interest or pleasure in life activities for at least two weeks and symptoms that cause clinically significant impairment in social, work, or other important areas of functioning almost every day.”

Along with diagnostic criteria for depression, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V is also notorious for a whole doctrine of pathologies under which the field of psychiatry preaches its creed; a grim gospel for any ardent disciple to follow. Social factors, environmental triggers, and increased stress in modern life all influence mental health, including the onset of depression. With healthcare expenditures approaching $3 trillion, our disorders and diseases are helping to keep the U.S. economy rolling.

Continue Reading