Bullying

Community Building After Tragedy

My satirical policy recommendation: Bowling in every street.

You chuckle. But, in the States, we are striking out at the type of grassroots events that bind neighborhoods into communities and transform wary strangers into community leaders.

Robert Putnam’s book is more apropos than ever. In his bestselling Bowling Alone, he tackles the decline of social institutions. We don’t bowl together or host neighborhood parties. Our social connectivity is now through virtual platforms.
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Anger

How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Us

The statistics are alarming. From 2009 to 2014, the number of girls between the ages of 10 and 17 hospitalized for intentionally cutting or poisoning themselves has more than doubled. This isn't the first time I'm reading about this. But it's certainly time to talk about it.

In my work with inherited family trauma, when I see a child who injures herself, I've learned to probe into the family history. The self-injurer could well be reliving aspects of a trauma she inherited from her parents or grandparents, though this is not always the case. Self-injurious behaviors can arise for other reasons as well.

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Bullying

The Hidden Face of Mental Illness

It breaks my heart every time I see it. A morning scroll through my newsfeed only to find a GoFundMe posting for funeral services of someone I knew in high school. Sometimes it's drugs, other times, suicide. Tragedies that could’ve been avoidable. People taken too young, too fast, too soon.

Every time I see their faces, I think back to what I may have thought of them in high school. Was I mean? Did I make fun of them behind their back? Did I avoid them? Was I nice? After all these years, I can’t really remember. Though I know I did my best to treat people with kindness and respect, it’s possible I joined in on the judgments or comments others around me made.

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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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Addiction

Hitting Rock Bottom: Some, Not All

Hitting rock bottom is a phrase I hear all the time when people talk about addiction. “She needs to hit rock bottom to stop drinking.” “Once he hits rock bottom, he will realize the damage that drugs have caused.” “After they hit rock bottom, they will understand how negatively addiction has affected their careers, finances, and families.” These are common phrases I hear when people talk about friends, family, or acquaintances with addiction.

Yet, what does it mean to hit rock bottom? Literally speaking, it means someone has fallen so far -- perhaps off a cliff -- that they have hit the ground. Metaphorically, hitting rock bottom describes a point in one’s life when they reach a definite low as a result of addiction problems. People generally see it as the lowest point possible, an epiphanic moment or process where one becomes cognizant of their addiction’s destructive nature. This point may be financial, emotional, physical, social, or spiritual.

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Books

5 Creative Ideas for Keeping Your Loved One’s Memory Alive

After someone close to us dies, we may think that our connection with the deceased is over. Maybe we assume that the “healthy” thing to do is to let go and get over our friend's or family member's passing. (Does anyone ever get over a terrible loss?) Or maybe we have a hard time bringing up our loved one in conversation. It’s just too painful to recount the memories when their absence is so palpable we can touch it. Or maybe you’d like to find a unique way to honor your loved one. But you’re not sure what to do.

Each of us mourns in different ways. And these ways may change throughout the years. But our relationship with our loved one is never over. It lives on. It continues to be a living, breathing thing.
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Family

How to Grieve After Divorce

Grief is a tricky thing. We understand the process during the death of a loved one but forget its role during divorce.

Not allowing yourself to grieve during divorce means not giving yourself the chance to heal. And not giving yourself the chance to heal means not giving yourself the chance to move on with your life. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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General

4 Different Types of Divorce

Divorces can be messy and complicated. But an amicable divorce need not be impossible to accomplish. A peaceful divorce not only saves you from mental anguish, but it also protects your kids from the pain of seeing their parents fight acrimoniously. You can prevent the narrative of family from ending on a tragic note in your children's lives.

Here are a few types of divorce proceedings that possibly could make it easier on all involved:

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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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General

The Beauty of Intentional Forgetting

We store memories using a variety of contexts -- sights, sounds, smells, who was there, the weather, etc. Context helps us retrieve these memories later. For instance, my husband recently made roast chicken and collard greens. It was a normal Sunday night, then the collards hit the iron skillet and I was transported back to 1994. It smelled just like Tuesday night dinner at my Maw-Maw’s house. Walking into the kitchen, I fully expected her to be there at the stove stirring a pot of red beans with ham hocks.

The next morning my home still smelled like it, and it was like she was with me while I showered and got dressed. It was comforting. Of course it was, I love my grandmother very much. But what about the memories you don’t love? What about the times you’ve stuck your foot in your mouth? What about the time you were tyrannically insistent about something and turned out to be wrong? What about the time you cheated on your significant other? What about the time you were dumped?
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