Personal Articles

Depression: A Forever-Kind of Illness

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

forever illnessI overheard my husband describing my health to someone on the phone the other day.

“She’s definitely better,” he said. “She’s trying a lot of new things. It’s hard to say what’s helping the most.”

“Well, she’ll always have it. I mean, it will never go away completely. But she’s able to manage her symptoms as of late. She’s able to get out of bed in the morning and go to work.”

Wow, I thought to myself, he gets it. He truly gets it.

How to Cope with PMS

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

ChronicPainandDepressionLinkedGender,Age,EthnicityThose who know me know that I tend to be rather vocal about my menstrual cycle (sorry to all the male readers, but it’s the truth). PMS — and the lovely symptoms that incorporate menstruation — rear its ugly head every month via mind-numbing cramps, and moments where I want to weep at everything imaginable, eat everything imaginable, or yell at everything imaginable.

PMS is that pesky hormonal time where emotions are heightened; where we’re susceptible to vulnerability. We’re more prone to feeling annoyed or stressed or upset over circumstances that may normally be dealt with calmly.

According to Jan Sheehan’s article posted on Everyday Health, researchers correlate these emotional surges with hormone fluctuation during the menstrual cycle, particularly in regard to estrogen.

A Recipe to Mend a Broken Heart

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

From The Heart

“What is the cure for a broken heart?” someone asked.

“You want a cure for a broken heart?” I replied. “And you think I can come up with it?”

Well, I guess I should know it, shouldn’t I? I mean, it’s been 4 1/2 years since the Great Loss, and I have survived thus far, and not just survived, but at times also thrived. So I guess I can come from somewhere other than intellectual curiosity.

But do I know what has “cured” me? Not exactly, so let’s explore it a bit.

What Makes a Highly Sensitive Person?

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

serious-female-faceMy mom called me her “flapper” when I was a baby. Whenever I got excited, I would flap my arms, like I was young chick taking off for flight … in front of a hawk. I still do that, to some extent, but I manage to keep the arm movements to a minimum extension.

I am easily excitable, a “highly sensitive person,” as defined by Elaine Aron in her bestseller, The Highly Sensitive Person. If you answer yes to most of these questions on her website, you’re probably in the club, which holds 15 to 20 percent of human beings:

Rumination’s Kryptonite: Singing a Tune

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Using Music to Heal Shattered Souls SSHave you ever found yourself stuck on a thought? You may be replaying an argument you had with your spouse — or even imagining an argument you might have with them. You may be thinking about that time you said something wrong and made a fool out of yourself at a dinner party. Maybe you’re thinking about the time you stuck your foot in your mouth in front of your boss. You might just be upset that you tripped in front of other people on your way into work this morning.

This is called rumination. Not only is it a huge time-waster, it’s demeaning and lowers self-esteem. Perhaps you’re worried these things may happen again or you’re just berating yourself. You might imagine what it would have been like if you had said the right thing or did something differently. But rumination fails to make us feel better and it can’t change the past or the future.

Do You Squirm in the Presence of Unconditional Love?

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

true-love

Once I was in India visiting a holy man who my family had known since I was a child and hadn’t seen in nearly 30 years. As I sat across his desk from him, he looked at me as if he were watching a movie about my life. With no words said, I felt like he could see everything I had ever done, every unwise choice, every lie, every romantic encounter, every achievement, every good thing, and every thought.

I just somehow knew, without any proof, that he knew everything about me. All I felt from him was absolute unconditional love. You would think that that would be a beautiful experience.

The problem was that I was extremely uncomfortable.

10 Nutritional Deficiencies that May Cause Depression

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Depression and SorrowI’m not sure why more psychiatrists don’t first test for nutritional deficiencies before dispensing Zoloft or Prozac, and especially antipsychotics like Seroquel and Zyprexa. The good ones will send you to get lab work done before upping your meds or adjusting anything. Sometimes we do need antidepressants. But other times we need spinach — think of Popeye.

In addition to seeing a psychiatrist regularly, I now work with an integrative health physician who tests my nutrition levels every year. If you haven’t ever tested your nutrition levels, you might inquire with either your psychiatrist or primary care physician.

Always Err on the Side of Compassion

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

err on compassionThe best piece of marital advice I’ve ever heard came from an ex-priest, a kind and gentle man who has been married to his bride for longer than I’ve been alive.

“Always err on the side of compassion,” he told me when I called him up all upset one afternoon after my husband and I got into a fight.

I don’t even remember what the fight was about. Something stupid. But I remembered his advice and I’ve been trying to apply it not only to my marriage but to my life, in general. In fact, it has become my mantra.

In Times of Great Stress, Reach for the Pause Button

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

In Times of Great Stress, Reach for the Pause ButtonSo I decided to move across the country and, not surprisingly, it’s turned my whole world upside down. While I’m micromanaging every detail and packing boxes when I go to bed instead of counting sheep, my anxiety and depression think they’ve won the Super Bowl.

I’m taking this opportunity to experiment with my attitude. I want to find out whether a person can learn to be laid-back. Of course, stressful things happen to everyone, but we can change the way we handle those situations. This week, I discovered the pause button.

How One Woman Reclaimed Stability During Postpartum Depression

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Mindful Self-Compassion and Parenting

One minute I was fine, the next a raging lunatic.

Nothing ever prepares you for motherhood. Nothing. I read the books, made my birth plan, chose a playlist for my delivery and yet I was still totally naive and ignorant when the baby actually came nine months later. I was particularly wary about having postpartum depression since I had had episodes of depressed states in my 20s.

In the first few months after giving birth, I was always on guard of how I was feeling. It was a soupy mixture of sleep deprivation fog and hazy bliss.

I was handling new motherhood like a champ until six weeks in at 3 AM in the morning when my husband and I had a huge fight, the biggest to date in our marriage.

Siblings with Severe Mental Illness: An Evolving Relationship

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Siblings with Severe Mental Illness: An Evolving RelationshipThere is an undeniable connection between siblings. You came from the same family and grew up in the same environment. There will always be a shared past between siblings, whether they are close or not. But when your sibling is diagnosed with mental illness the personal history and the things you had in common can seem to disappear.

Life seems to stop and be consumed by their illness. An intangible connection can be seemingly swept right off the page. Something that therapists never told me was that one day I would just be happy to take what I could get.

Do Comfort and Adventure Have to Be Mutually Exclusive?

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Woman Outdoors Looking Away

“Which do you prefer, adventure or comfort?” I was asked recently, matter-of-factly, as if the two were mutually separate entities, and I, given the option to choose only one.

I closed my eyes and I wondered. Now, at the age of 53, I see clearly that my answer is remarkably different than the answer I would have certainly given in my 20s.

“I am seeking comfort,” I shot out too quickly, “…and adventure,” I added, clearly coming across as someone who has trouble making decisions.

Recent Comments
  • Carole E.: Just think about how much substance abusers spend on their substance not to mention how much they take...
  • FG: I’ve taken Adderall for 3 years and it’s significantly improved symptoms of my ADHD. The dosage...
  • Vanna B: PMDD may or may not be a mental illness – as that seems to be a controversy among doctors – but...
  • John M. Grohol, Psy.D.: While your caution is noted, anybody can talk about ADHD medications and what kinds of...
  • Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW: Really well done article – nice summary of symptoms and medications. As a...
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