General

Senate Summit on Mental Health #MentalHealthReform & A Patchwork of Care

It's time for mental health reform in the United States. And at the Senate Summit on Mental Health, a bipartisan meeting organized by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), we learned exactly what is propelling the need for action.

This is important stuff in the U.S. -- really important -- on par with the parity efforts that made headlines years ago. (Parity was the legislation needed to ensure that insurance companies stopped discriminating against mental illness, which they had regularly done since the 1990s.)

"It's not the end... [but] it's a great next step," said Sen. Cassidy, speaking at the Summit on the latest revision of the bill.

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General

Identifying How You’d Like to Spend Your Days

I recently penned a piece about the importance of being selective. Because the reality is that we can’t do everything. Our time is limited. And trying to do everything only stops us from focusing on what matters most (to us). It overshadows it. One day might run into the next, and before we know it, a week has flown by. And yet we feel empty and unfulfilled. We feel aimless.

This might be because we’re unclear about what is actually significant to us. We might not know our priorities. Maybe we’ve been so busy focusing on the minutiae -- checking off random tasks and chores -- that we’ve neglected the bigger picture. Maybe we’ve been so busy following other people’s definitions of success and productivity and meaning that we’ve neglected to consider what feels true and right for us.

These questions can help you name what’s important to you and discover how you’d like to spend your days.
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General

Surprising Ways that Shame Can Serve Us


We often hear about the destructive aspects of shame -- how it’s toxic to our happiness and well-being. As a psychotherapist, I continually see how shame holds people back. But can there be a healthy and helpful aspect to shame?

Shame is that painful sense that tells us we’re flawed and defective. Bret Lyon and Sheila Rubin, who lead popular workshops for helping professionals, describe shame as "a primary emotion and a freeze state, which has a profound effect on personal development and relationship success."

Believing that there is something inherently wrong with us, we're robbed of the capacity to feel good about ourselves, accept ourselves, and affirm our basic goodness, which has a crippling effect on our lives. Such shame may be so painful that we dissociate from it -- no longer even noticing it.
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Bipolar

The Life-Saving Power of Purpose

Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Two years ago I tested that theory.

I’ve always been depressed. I must have emerged from my mother’s womb with an overactive amygdala and a deficient prefrontal cortex -- creative brain wiring that generates panic and sadness. I was almost hospitalized in the fourth grade because I simply could not stop crying.

However, since December of 2008, when the market crashed, I hadn’t been able to surface into the land of the living and do things like pick up the kids from school and be at places like swim practice without hearing constant
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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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Books

Living a Life by Design Instead of by Default

Some days, or maybe most days, you might feel like a passenger in the backseat of your own car. You are being driven to destinations you don’t want to go by a driver you didn’t pick. You feel stretched too thin. You are exhausted. You feel overwhelmed. You are attending events you’d rather not attend. Your to-do list is filled with tasks you don’t want to do. And the things you do want to do? Somehow those aren’t on the list.

This might mean that you're living life by default, not by design.

Thankfully, this is something you can change. In his eye-opening book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, author Greg McKeown shares valuable tips on how we can start living (and working) by design. Essentialism is pursuing less and better (versus trying to get everything done). It is constantly asking the question: “Am I investing in the right activities?” And by "right," he means whatever is essential to you. It is being deliberate and thoughtful about our days.
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Books

Psychology Around the Net: May 21, 2016


They're at the tailend of the U.K.'s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) across the pond!

Similar to October's Mental Illness Awareness Week here in the U.S., the U.K.'s MHAW, supported by the Mental Health Foundation, is all about educating people about mental health and helping people learn the importance of taking care of their mental health.

Thus, you'll see some U.K.-related information in this week's post, including news about the royal's latest mental health campaign and new information about psychedelics and depression. Also catch up on the latest about relationships and mental health, strategies for better sleep, and the importance of doing things by yourself.

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Family

What to Do with a Cruel Inner Critic

Our inner critic might be loud and clear: I’m such an idiot! It’s always my fault. I can’t do anything right. What is wrong with me? I don’t deserve this happiness. I don’t deserve this success.

Or our inner critic might be more subtle -- and even unknown to us. Yet it still exerts its power, dictating the actions we take.

Each of us has an inner critic. Some inner critics are crueler than others. As we grow up, our self-worth and self-esteem derive their roots from our environment and surroundings. Our caregivers and anyone close to us has a big effect on both.
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General

9 Ways to Bring More Joy to Your Days

Sometimes, we make the mistake of thinking that joy only resides in the big things. Birthdays. Baby showers. Weddings. Holidays. Vacations. Even weekends. But we can cultivate joy every day. We don’t have to wait for momentous once-a-year or once-a-week occasions. Below, two therapists share their strategies -- some of which might be very familiar and others which just might surprise you.

Get enough sleep

You might not equate sleep with joy. But when you don’t get enough sleep, your ability to manage emotions diminishes, said
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Children and Teens

What to Do When You Feel Unmotivated in Your Career (And 3 Ways to Do Your Best Work)

We’ve all faced days at the office where we’re just not feeling motivated. Off days happen to everyone and it’s tough -- if not unrealistic -- to constantly do your best work. There are bound to be times when you procrastinate too much, lack focus, or struggle to start important projects.

You may react by getting down on yourself, wondering where your determination has gone. It can be disappointing to feel like you’re not living up to your aspirations, especially when there’s important work to be done, which there almost always is. Speed, efficiency, and productivity are what drive results, and when our energy doesn’t match our ambition, it can be frustrating.
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Bipolar

Is Physician-Assisted Suicide Right for Severe Psychiatric Disorders?

Two summers ago, our family grabbed a bite to eat in downtown Annapolis and headed over to the Naval Academy for a parade -- celebrating the end of Plebe Summer, six weeks of rigorous physical and mental training for new midshipmen.

It was late August, and I was horribly depressed, trying out medication combination No. 45 or something like that (in the last 10 years). My inner dialogue sounded like this:

Does everyone want to be dead?
Where do these people get the energy to function?
I wonder if the young plebes would be excited if they had a way of dying.
Don’t all of us just want to die as soon as possible?
Why do we have to wait so long?
I wish I could die today.

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