Disorders

Poison Pills? When Meds Strike Back

This narrative details my personal experience with medications. Medications impact each person differently; please consult with your psychiatrist if side effects persist.
The medication bottle gravely intones, “May cause drowsiness, use care operating a vehicle, vessel, or dangerous machinery.” If only.

Over 15 years ago, a well-meaning nurse at UNC-Chapel Hill prescribed an antidepressant. “It will make you feel better,” she soothed. Capitulating to her, I begrudgingly placed the tiny capsule under my tongue.

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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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Disorders

OCD’s Little Secret

This is our little secret: I robbed a bank.

At least that’s what my mind spits out. And according to my mind, I am likely to rob again and again.

When I walk into a bank to deposit a check, my heartbeat skips. Sweat trickles down my forehead. A boulder forms in my throat.

Why? Not because of my dwindling bank account or the imperious teller. My sneering mind is ready to pounce. An obsessive-compulsive disorder advocate and consumer, our vivid imagination has a darker side. We have committed unspeakable atrocities according to our deceitful thoughts.
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Brain and Behavior

The Thought Police

Embrace the thoughts.

I have been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Like you, my mind burps out intrusive, unwanted thoughts. They are real, striking at my core. I would banish them immediately. They would return with a sinister vengeance. Languishing in bed, sheets draped over me, I pleaded for divine intervention.

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Anxiety and Panic

A Bigger Deal than the Freshman 15

I was (Carolina) blue. Unlike my beloved Tar Heel hoops squad, my unstoppable opponent was bludgeoning me into submission. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety nearly toppled me during my college years. The issue is bigger than my beloved alma mater: On university campuses, mental health issues affect 25 percent of the student body.

I bleed Tar Heel blue. I founded a student organization on campus, graduated with a shiny GPA, and studied abroad in Australia. I rejoiced on Franklin Street when the Heels upended Duke. From riveting seminars to proud traditions, Chapel Hill provided the quintessential university experience.

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Disorders

Checkmate

The check. And here you thought I was talking about the dinner bill, didn’t you?

No, for those hearty souls battling obsessive-compulsive disorder, “the check” refers to something different than picking up the restaurant tab. For those afflicted with OCD, the check could mean ritualizing about the pedestrian they may have hit, sprinting to the restroom to scrub cracked hands, or fleeing a dinner date to check whether the garage door is shut.

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ADHD and ADD

How to Stop Stressing about Work & Finally Fall Asleep

If you’re like most people, you’ve been affected by stress-related sleep problems at some point, lying awake at night filled with anxiety about your career and the future.

Often everyday worries about impending deadlines and your to-do list give way to bigger, more stressful questioning, “Is this job really what I want to be doing with my life? What if I quit? Will I ever discover
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Anger

Past Tense

I stop: a droll smile and infectious cackle singe my synapses. I feel good. Like endorphins-are-murmuring good.

Maybe it is a sun-baked trip to the beach, the well-received Psych Central articles, or heartfelt conversations with my aunts and uncles. Or maybe it is learning to accept past failures for what they are: character lessons, not character flaws. The past can be a vengeful lover; she will terrorize you if you allow her to.

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Disorders

Living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

“He is sooo OCD,” I overhear a 20-something snarkily remark to a friend.

The hair on my skin crawls. As someone with a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) -- one from a psychiatrist, not Urban Dictionary -- I bristle. Sure, the remark was insensitive, even callous, but here’s why I cringe: the seemingly innocuous remark perpetuates public misperceptions.

OCD, the medical diagnosis, is far more impactful than OCD, the movie diagnosis. Unlike Jack Nicholson’s endearingly misfit character in "As Good as it Gets," OCD signifies more than an uncompromising adherence to routine. The person with OCD faces education and workplace stigma from puzzled colleagues. At its worst, OCD can be incapacitating.
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Anxiety and Panic

What it’s Like to Live with Hypochondria

My life is controlled by an endless series of obsessions, intrusive thoughts, rituals, and fears, but I don’t have OCD, at least not technically. Instead, I have a somatoform disorder better known as hypochondria.

Hypochondria, or health anxiety, is a preoccupation with having or acquiring a serious illness. As with OCD, health anxiety can cause persistent fears and reassurance-seeking behaviors, like, say, checking and rechecking your pulse. For the hundredth time. In under 10 minutes.

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Addiction

Treating Trichotillomania

As a hair stylist with over 15 years of experience, I recently had the opportunity to work with a client who suffered from trichotillomania. Also called "hair pulling disorder," trichotillomania is characterized by an obsessive pulling of one's own hair, leading to hair loss and baldness. It's often chronic, difficult to treat, and can lead to high stress and social impairment for the sufferer. The following is an account of our work with this client using my skills as a master stylist.

Our client had gone through years of hiding her pull spots and had become masterful at finding different up-styles to camouflage her problem areas. The idea was to add hair extensions, as the client and her behavioral therapist believed it would help her to stop her compulsive pulling.
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Anxiety and Panic

Living with an Anxious Spouse

All couples have their share of life challenges or issues throughout their relationship. However, when one spouse has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the couple faces a whole new set of challenges. Normal, everyday life issues seem to become exaggerated and can inevitably put a significant strain on the relationship.

Living with an anxiety disorder is typically associated with a great deal of personal distress, but it can be just as hard on the partners of those diagnosed with anxiety. Their significant others often take on more than the normal share of financial burden, household responsibilities, and emotional support.

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