Friends Articles

It’s OK to Have Anxiety

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

It's OK to Have AnxietyAnxiety is a fickle beast. It can come on at any point during your day and completely wreck you until you’re able to find a place to unwind.

A major point of contention in my struggle with mental illness has been the anxiety I feel in social situations.

It goes like this: You’re about to enter a new situation and deal with people who don’t know you. You wonder what they’re going to think of you.

How to Ask for Help in a Crisis

Friday, July 11th, 2014

How to Ask for Help in a CrisisI have lived with schizophrenia for eight years. In those eight years I have gone through cycles of wellness. While it primarily gets better with each passing day, there are still periods here and there where life becomes too overwhelming or where I push myself too hard. Then I feel the intense crushing weight of existence on my shoulders.

In those times I tend to retreat, not only to my apartment but into myself. I lie there on my couch staring at the TV, emotions flowing through my spine. It’s all I can do to keep myself from crying.

Sometimes the feeling lasts for only a day or two. Other times it builds until there’s a tipping point where I make some declaration of exasperation and throw my family into a tizzy of worry.

When Someone You Love is Unhappy

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

When Someone You Love is UnhappyLove is what connects us to others. It provides us with fond memories of those around us. The truth about love, though, is that it often links our own happiness with the happiness of others. We feel compelled to make those we love who are unhappy, happy.

It is because of our own discomfort in seeing those we love unhappy that we seek out ways to change the situation, justifying our behaviors on the idea that we are helping them. Or, we begin to see our own happiness fade in the presence of an unhappy friend or family member.

You Are Not Alone in Your Diagnosis of Mental Illness

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

You Are Not Alone in Your Diagnosis of Mental IllnessIn the eight years I’ve lived with schizophrenia I’ve seen horrible days and I’ve seen days where the sun seemed to shine just right on my face and strike a certain happiness in my soul.

Throughout every day, though, I’ve struggled with my thoughts.

There isn’t a day that goes by where a bit of panic doesn’t creep up into me. In those moments it can feel like the world is against you. It can feel like you are the only person alive who is feeling that certain kind of panic, but I’m here to tell you that you’re not.

How to Help a High-Functioning Alcoholic in Denial

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

How to Help a High-Functioning Alcoholic in DenialHigh-functioning alcoholics might be one of the most dangerous types. They often are in denial about their alcoholism. They don’t realize how hard their drinking is on family members and friends, and since they seem to function normally, they don’t see a problem with it.

High-functioning alcoholics do not fit the “drunk” stereotype. They might reason that because they go to work and school, interact with their family, manage a household, and fulfill their everyday responsibilities, they can’t possibly have an alcohol problem.

Recovering from Codependency

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Recovering from CodependencyTonight in my CoDA meeting we read from Step Ten of Melody Beattie’s book Codependents’ Guide to the Twelve Steps. I highly recommend this book if you are serious about getting your head in the right place. It’s a great place to start.

What struck me this evening was this paragraph:

I kept trying to forgive [addicts] for [their addictions] when I was still allowing myself to be victimized by their [behavior]. I kept substituting forgiveness and denial for acceptance of reality. I had concepts confused.

I Can’t Believe They Did That! Taming Judgmental Tendencies

Monday, June 30th, 2014

I Can’t Believe They Did That! Taming Judgmental TendenciesBeing judgmental can be a good thing. Our judgment is a survival skill, according to psychotherapist Joyce Marter, LCPC. It helps us stay out of danger.

For instance, you use good judgment when you don’t give your phone number to a man who’s “separated” from his “crazy” wife, or invest money in a hot new business started by your nephew who has a gambling problem, she said.

However, when we use judgment beyond its survival value, it can ruin relationships, “because nobody likes to feel they’re being scrutinized by a ‘Judge Judy.’”

Letting Go and Moving On After a Breakup or Divorce

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Letting Go and Moving On after a Breakup or DivorceHeartbreak hurts. Loss is shattering. Put these two together and you’ve got the lovely one-two punch that can come with breakups of short-lived or long-term relationships.

It brings most everyone down. Otherwise emotionally-guarded people crumble into a mess of anger, sadness and confusion. Task-oriented folks lose focus and motivation. Forgiving types start learning how to hold a grudge.

Self-Esteem and Friendship: It’s Time to Start Trusting Your Friends

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

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Friendship is one of life’s best blessings. Otherwise Bruno Mars, Dolly Parton, Lil Wayne and Ringo Starr wouldn’t have all written songs extolling it. But low self-esteem can puncture friendships, just as it punctures other blessings.

Knowing at some level that Mom was right when she said we can’t really like others if we can’t like ourselves, we overcompensate — trying to be the world’s best listeners, laughers and loaners. This turns friendships into perpetual auditions, as we offer our time and attention with the subtext: Judge me, please!

The Importance of a Support Structure After a Mental Illness Diagnosis

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

The Importance of a Support Structure After a Diagnosis of Mental IllnessWhen I was diagnosed with schizophrenia eight years ago it was like walking in a fog. I was lost in my delusions, I was confused about what was happening to me and I was trying to grapple with what exactly reality was.

My family was suffering too.

They had no background with mental illness and no frame of reference about what to expect with it.

I had asked for help a few times but they just thought my skewed thinking was a result of smoking marijuana and that once I stopped everything I would be fine. It didn’t click for them until after my first major episode, when they took me to the hospital and I was finally diagnosed.

4 Ways to Benefit from Envy

Monday, June 16th, 2014

4 Ways to Benefit from EnvyIf I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Upward comparison is a universal experience. It is one way that we determine where we stand among others. There will always be someone more intelligent, funny, interesting, or accomplished to compare ourselves against. Others appear to have figured it all out when we feel we don’t have a clue.

The effects of these comparisons can hit us hard, influencing our emotions and our self-perception.

Meditation on a Friend’s Suicide

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Meditation on a Friend’s SuicideA friend killed herself this weekend.

Stop for just a moment and measure how you feel on reading that. Feel into your shoulders and your chest, your gut. Feel the visceral reaction to the statement of fact that someone loved took her own life. Own it.

It is our inability to physically, let alone emotionally, deal with the choice made, the act, that threatens to keep someone so special from living on in our memories.

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