Beyond Ending the Stigma: Radical Compassion for Suicide Prevention

When my dad ended his life, it felt like I arrived somewhere I had always been headed. I was 13 years old when I first saw the signs. I was 15 when he was hospitalized for his first attempt -- his life thereafter owed to the vulnerable courage he demonstrated by calling 9-1-1 on himself. I was 26 when, after a long recovery, he spiraled downward again. 27 when we intervened and got him to go back to therapy. And then, I was 28 when I stood in front of his house last year -- just before Thanksgiving -- and learned that his life had ended. That our brave fight was over.
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Stop Blaming Stigma: Take Responsibility for Yourself

Stigma: A set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something (Merriam-Webster).

Let’s get the full disclosure out of the way first: I have bipolar disorder (type II, leans far more toward the depressive side than the manic) and borderline personality disorder (would take too long to explain; look it up if you like). I have been on disability for four years because of a nine-month depressive episode for which I received nine months of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). It pretty much destroyed my brain. I no longer have a short-term memory of which to speak.

I can’t function in a lot of ways like I used to. I work part-time, for a psychologist who understands my many limitations and helps me work around them. But I could never go back to what I used to do in any aspect of life and expect to handle it like a normal adult.
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Anxiety and Panic

I’m Not Lazy, I’m Agoraphobic: How One Mother Copes

I'm not lazy, I'm agoraphobic.

I used to spend my days at work, my nights in Manhattan, and my weekends filled with adventure and road trips. Now, if I am able to leave my house for a medical appointment, it’s an accomplishment.

I’ve had “episodes” that lasted months, where I’d be unable to leave my bed -- not because I’m lazy but out of fear.

I suffer from a very misunderstood disease called agoraphobia, which is the fear of open spaces (a very generalized definition).
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How Do We Say No When We Feel So Guilty?

I take good care of myself. My family, friends and clients know this about me. I would not be surprised if behind closed doors I’ve been described as selfish. I am actually all right with that; I own this attribute.

Taking care of myself did not come easily. I worked at it as a matter of necessity. I take care of myself for many reasons, not the least of which is that it helps me be a better person. Quite a paradox! To be a better person, I have learned to be a selfish person. Let me explain:
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Anxiety and Panic

When Mental Illness is Hereditary

As a child I remember my mom constantly saying "my nerves are bad." I didn't know that my nerves were bad, along with the little pills she took, and her alcoholism, were personal attempts to alleviate the anxiety and depression she felt.

Back then it wasn't talked about. Children were seen and not heard, and that was just how it was. It was very confusing as a child. I didn't understand why my mom was not happy and why her "nerves were bad."
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A Doctorate in Mixology: How to Overcome Crippling Underemployment

"I need an extra shot of espresso in my latte" an impetuous woman barks.

You flinch at her shrillness; her demeaning tone irks. Muttering to yourself, you add an extra shot of espresso for her iced latte. Maybe if she knew I was a (doctor, lawyer, accountant), she wouldn’t be so condescending, you think.

The synapses are connecting in your mind. You are a (doctor, lawyer, accountant) and you are retrieving iced lattes in your local coffee shop.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Autumn Anxiety is Real and Treatable

It happens every year. As I watch the first golden leaves fall from the oak tree outside our house and listen to the sound of the cicadas ushering in autumn, my anxiety spikes. I used to think I was relapsing into depression, but having been through this year after year (and documenting it in my mood journal), I now know I’m just going through my annual bout of autumn anxiety: a nervous feeling in my gut that...
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Anxiety and Panic

The Richest Life: Consumer to Advocate

You want more.

Yes, you have a high-paying job, a dutiful spouse, and all the modern accoutrements. Underneath your polished veneer, there is a bubbling restlessness.

Something is missing, and you desperately want to reclaim it.

The issue: defining what ‘it’ is. Then doing something it.

It could represent numbing myopia, mounting indifference, or a stirring wanderlust. As you check off items on your daily to-do list, you recognize the 'why' underlying your simmering discontent.
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Brain and Behavior

Why I Prescribe Pokemon Go for My Patients

This week, the parent of one of my patients asked me about Pokémon Go. She was concerned with her child’s obsession and felt like this could lead to social or emotional problems.

Electronics, as with most things, are good in moderation -- but Pokémon Go isn’t your average video game. Unlike games that keep people glued to the couch, Pokémon Go requires people to get up, move around, and interact with others. What that means to me as a child psychiatrist is that it comes with a variety of health benefits. Exercise is as good for the brain as it is for the rest of the body. I’ve seen people walking, riding their bikes, and finding more excuses to get outside because of Pokémon Go.

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Anxiety and Panic

A Perfectionist’s Creed: When Perfect Is Far from It

I am a perfectionist. Hunched over my laptop, my body tenses up. I am searching my mind’s deep labyrinths for the perfect word.

The problem: the perfect word doesn’t exist. And my frenzied search is more exhausting than empowering.

As perfectionists, we strive for the perfect word, perfect relationship, and perfect life. But our quest for perfection is inexorable. Crumpling under the weight of our internal expectations, perfectionism can degenerate into sputtering relationships and self-flagellation.
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Anxiety and Panic

Waiting for an Autism Diagnosis

Tommy was having trouble growing up.

He wasn’t talking at age 2. We waited it out for a bit, but, at 3, when he was still barely communicating, we sought out professional speech therapy. We found a great therapist at our local children’s hospital. With help, Tommy began to communicate more. The therapist worked on his vocabulary and eventually on one-step commands.

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Moving on from Dysfunctional Relationships

Not so long ago, I joined a Facebook group for abuse survivors, in hopes of finding support and encouragement. While I was encouraged and supported in the best way an anonymous person on the Internet could be, I felt there was too much reliance on the word “narcissist.” As I tried to find intelligent solace in reading members' posts, I discovered many people playing the martyr. (I had observed that behavior in my own mother). Many of these people seeking and offering advice probably suffered from some mental or personality disorder as well.

I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I have also been told I have low self-esteem. Despite my plethora of issues, I am still able to see myself and others through a clear lens.

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