Bipolar

A Friend Lost and Found

Often, after one develops a mental illness, one may lose friends. This happened to me. I lost a childhood friend who was with me when I experienced a nervous breakdown. I was in New York City when it happened. I completely and totally lost touch with reality.

Pam was driving me to the airport, and she had the radio on. I kept hearing the DJ mention my first and last name. This was sending me into hysterics. Of course, the DJ was not saying my name. I was mishearing or hallucinating or a combination of both.

Continue Reading

Family

Want to Be Close to Someone? Ask These 36 Questions

Can you create a sense of closeness or intimacy with a complete stranger? Psychology research says, yes, you can.

Nearly 20 years ago, a team of psychology researchers led by Arthur Aron (1997) conducted an experiment that demonstrated that you can create a sense of closeness or intimacy with another person simply by asking and answering a set of 36 questions together.

But was the closeness produced in the experimental condition the same as the real closeness we feel with long-time partners and friends?

Continue Reading

Friends

5 Ways Unhealthy Couples Use Facebook

Facebook is a wonderful social tool that keeps us connected with friends and family in our busy daily lives. But used in the wrong way, it can become a liability in both our lives and our relationships. Here are five ways that unhealthy couples use Facebook.

If you recognize yourself in one or more of these ways, you may want to re-evaluate your use of Facebook. Cutting back on using it may benefit not only your own feelings of self-esteem but also your romantic relationship.

Continue Reading

Family

When People Cross Your Boundaries

People cross our boundaries in all sorts of ways. For instance, they might keep pushing you to change your “no” into a “yes” to meet their needs, said Julie de Azevedo Hanks, Ph.D, LCSW, founder and executive director of Wasatch Family Therapy.

They might borrow something and never return it, said psychotherapist Liz Morrison, LCSW. They might invade your personal space -- like touching your pregnant belly without permission. They might instruct your child on how to behave.
Continue Reading

Family

New Year’s & Coping with Loss

As soon as the Christmas rush subsides and the wrapping paper is thrown away, we start to think about how we will ring in the new year. Images of smiling faces, popping champagne corks, and fireworks tell us how we might be behaving, thinking or even feeling. Yet for many, the persistent feelings of loss and sadness about a person, a relationship or life once lived limit the awareness that a new year is truly a new start.

The spotlight that is placed on our lives at New Year's creates a make-believe time where we imagine that the thoughts we engage with can assist us in navigating the year ahead. While the powers of intentional thoughts have their place in our emotional well-being, for many facing lost loved ones or relationships, their desires can be beyond their grasp.

Continue Reading

Family

Maybe the Problem Is You

There's no easy way to put this... Sometimes the problem may be you.

It may be something about you if you look at others in your life and think, "Why does everyone always seem to have a problem with the way I act at family gatherings?" or "Why do my co-workers always seem to hate me, no matter where I work?"

Or you think, "Wow, everyone else seems to have things so easy. Why does my life always have to be so difficult and fraught with problems?"

Is the problem you? And if so, what can you do about it??

Continue Reading

Anger

A Holiday Guide for Abuse Survivors

Hardly anyone would claim to be a stranger to holiday stress. From money woes to holiday travel, traditions, and family tension, at some point everyone has struggled to make it to January. But the holidays can be a particularly tough time of year for anyone with a family history of abuse, whether it’s emotional or physical.

The idea that one shouldn’t be alone during the holiday season is drilled into our heads and we want familiar people near, even if those people can be toxic to us. Memories of trauma may become more salient. Some holiday encounters could open old wounds. You're not just trying to make it to January -- you're trying to avoid being retraumatized.
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

The Unattainable Standard for Men

Picture a 24-year-old adorable, intelligent, but anxious and insecure young man. Joe, as I will call him, often feels frightened. If he were to pause for a moment and check his physical state, most of the time he would feel his heart beating in his chest and a subtle full-body vibration. Sometimes he has a pit in his stomach, and his appetite for food disappears.

These are all common physical symptoms of anxiety. Sensations like these are at best annoying, and at worst upsetting, debilitating and scary. Joe wonders why he feels anxious so often. Thoughts like, "What's wrong with me?" come often preoccupy him, which of course makes matters worse by adding anxiety on top of anxiety. This experience is all taking place secretly inside him. To the rest of the world he seems fine.

Continue Reading

Books

3 Tips for Really Listening

We all want to be heard. We want to be understood. We want undivided attention as we share our thoughts, feelings, worries, triumphs and trials; as we share ourselves. That means the other person isn't playing with the phone or watching TV. The listeners aren't distracted in other ways. They aren't interrupting us. They aren't judging us. They aren't rushing us. They're listening, quietly and patiently, to what we have to say.

But a lot of us aren’t very good at listening. Because, as it turns out, listening isn’t all that easy. It isn't a natural instinct or a character trait. Listening well is a skill. It takes effort.

Continue Reading