Brain and Behavior

Compassion Fatigue in the Animal Welfare Community

Before becoming a psychotherapist, I had a career in animal welfare. I’ve worn both the boots and the sandals -- that’s jargon for working on the law enforcement side and the shelter side -- and I’ve seen my fair share of trauma.

Whether you’re a humane officer or a shelter volunteer, a vet tech or an animal rights activist, you have likely seen, heard about, or experienced things that most people can’t even begin to understand. Long-term exposure to abuse and neglect, euthanasia, and grief-stricken clients not only can affect your work productivity and satisfaction, but it can also wear on you mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you feel like you care so much that it hurts, you may be struggling with compassion fatigue.
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Anger

The Reason Children Misbehave

You and I are adults; we talk like adults, use deductive reasoning, think about consequences for our actions, and make informed decisions based on facts (most of the time). Adults aren't always wonderfully smart, though. We can, and often do, fall prey to the “little adult syndrome” when dealing with children, especially when they’re misbehaving.

Working with children day in and day out provides me a fantastic perspective and a look into who they really are. Sometimes they’re wonderful angels sent from heaven to remind us of the beauty in life. Sometimes they’re tiny emotional vampires just waiting for us to look away so they can pounce on our weak point. Most of the time they're somewhere in between.

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Caregivers

A Parent’s Unconditional Love

When you become a parent, the one thing you can always count on is the constancy of change and adaptation in your life. You learn as you go and follow what feels right to you. You soon see as your child grows into themselves that you are continuously exploring unknown territory. Like discovering a new frontier or remote solar system, you realize the lay of the land and it is specific to each child.

You bring your personal history and aptitudes (or inaptitude) with you when you parent. The interpersonal journey of caring for another human being reflects much more than simply caring for another. It requires great potential for personal and relationship growth. You learn volumes and keep on learning as a result of the experience of caregiving over time.
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Anger

How to De-Escalate Fights with Family Members

Ever find yourself on the receiving end of verbal attack? Many people have loved ones who lash out in verbally abusive ways. Some of these people refuse to listen to reason when angry. They take no accountability for their role in creating strife. They might insist that you are the cause of their abusive behavior and they would stop hurting you if only you would change. But relationships are always about two people. Each person interacts and affects the other.

For example, Moira, a 45-year-old wife and mother of three, was abused as a child. Moira was easily triggered into jealous rages. These rages could be set off by the smallest thing: perhaps her husband glanced inadvertently at another woman, or complimented a coworker. Or perhaps her teenage daughter talked back to Moira or expressed affection for a teacher, igniting Moira’s jealousy.

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Anxiety and Panic

A Husband’s Guide to Understanding Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Approximately 20 percent of all postpartum women experience a perinatal mood disorder such as postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety. These are medical conditions which can be successfully treated. Knowing the risk factors and understanding the signs and symptoms are important for a spouse in order to get his wife the appropriate care and help.

Any new mom can develop a perinatal mood disorder; however, there are some risk factors to be aware of:

Personal or family history of depression or anxiety
History of severe PMS or PMDD
Chronic pain or illness
Fertility treatments
Miscarriage
Traumatic or stressful pregnancy or birthing experience
Abrupt discontinuation of breastfeeding
Substance abuse

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Know What to Expect When You Love Someone with Bipolar Disorder


It's no one's fault.

I was 18 years old, pregnant, scared, and lonely when I met my now-husband. We became best friends, and two years later he married another woman and had a baby. Fast forward six years: we were madly in love and engaged, then married.

One year after that, my husband came home after work, sat down at the kitchen table, and told me he wanted a divorce. I refused, and not very nicely. A few months after that, he was diagnosed with 
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Bipolar

Can You Wrap Your Head Around Delusional Thinking?

Delusion -- noun. an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.
What makes delusional thinking so scary? Well, from the outside we can’t understand the logic of the delusion. The delusion itself causes the individual to feel distress and behave erratically. And their belief in something that is unreal distresses everyone around them.

Listening to a recent episode of “This American Life” I had an aha-moment. A 26-year-old student, Alan Pean, explains the delusions he was suffering when he entered a Texas hospital last August.
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Caregivers

Outdated Notions about Schizophrenia

Every parent’s worst nightmare. These are the words one mother used in a magazine article to describe her child having schizophrenia. When hearing her daughter’s diagnosis, another mother blurted out that she’d wished she had leukemia or some other disease instead. Even after the doctor told her that schizophrenia is much more treatable than leukemia, she said she’d still prefer leukemia. *

We see schizophrenia as a devastating diagnosis. We assume that our loved ones are doomed to a horrible life. This is something Psych Central blogger Rebecca Chamaa, who has schizophrenia, hears often. “People say it’s the worst thing that could happen to you. To hear that all the time and to be put in that category all the time, it’s a terrible thing to do to people.”
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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.
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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:

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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.

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