Depression

Surviving January — the Most Depressing Month of the Year

January 24 is on record as being the most depressing day of the year. It’s not hard to figure out why. The bills come in from all those generous gifts you gave back when the holiday spirit had you feeling rich. The resolutions you made on December 31 are, well, broken. And it’s cold, dark, and dreary -- the roads wear the kind of brown slush that is unbecoming.

However, my mood dips long before the 24th. It does a dive the Monday after the New Year -- the first full week of January. I call it Yuck Monday or Yuck Week.
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ADHD and ADD

Be More Careful with Your Language

I tend to be a little over the top in my criticism of people’s mistaken language and grammar. I am by no means perfect when it comes to these areas, but there are some errors that cause me to want to smack people. (Not in a violent way, but more in a, “I’m taking my glove off and slapping you across the face with it to show you how stupid you are” sort of way.)

One such phrase is, “I could care less.” If you could care less, that means you care some. You should actually be saying, “I couldn’t care less,” because that implies that you have supplied the least amount of caring possible.

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Anger

What to Do When You Get Overwhelmed

Daily life is busy. There are constantly things that require our attention. Whether it’s work or family, there seem to always be things we need to do to keep everything together.

We are juggling numerous balls trying to maintain a balancing act on already-tenuous ground.

The point is, there comes a point in everyone’s life when things can get to be too much. We all get overwhelmed at times.
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General

Can You Live with a Judgmental Therapist?

In a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal, psychotherapist and licensed marriage and family therapist Paul Hokemeyer admitted that his mind often wanders when his patients are talking.

“Frequently. Most of the time it wanders back to the session I had with the last patient and what I should have done differently,” said Hokemeyer, who sees patients in New York and Colorado as well as Skyping across country. “It can also wander if the patient is avoiding connecting and filling the time with superfluous details. I’ll start to think about the dry cleaning or what I can have for dinner.”
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Anger

An Unwanted Neighbor

Your alter ego, Negative Nelly, inches closer. "You are a fraud. Success? Ha. You are fortunate to remember your child's name. Ohh -- and good luck with that presentation. Maybe you can ask Rick Perry for speech advice." You wince, pleading with the merciless critic to play nice. He mischievously chuckles, gloating at his latest victory.

The critic's name is Isa. He belittles every move, condemning you to a tortured existence. Sensing that twisting knot in your stomach, Isa pounces. Like a bad comedian, his timing is always off -- before a date, a meeting with the boss, or a presentation.

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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.

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Grief and Loss

The Top 7 Ways You Can Make Your Pain Work for You

Grief can be the garden of compassion. -- Rumi
Have you ever had lower back pain? I once wrenched my back and walked at snail’s pace for weeks, crippled by pain. Lower back pain troubled me for years, until I found an exercise that reliably switches off the pain.

Have you ever lost a loved one? The anguish can seem unbearable.

Abolishing pain might seem a good idea, but please pause to consider this story.

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Bullying

A Little Confrontation Is Good for You

In order to “graduate” from the outpatient psychiatric program of Laurel Hospital in Maryland, we had to demonstrate a certain level of competence at assertion skills or confrontation. It’s no wonder it took me three times longer to be discharged than the other patients.

One day an older woman sat in the middle of the circle. She looked very tired and drained. Her daughter had been dumping her kids off at her door in the morning and leaving them with her until late in the evening. Since the woman was battling different medical conditions, this was very hard on her 
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Brain and Behavior

Mindfulness: Essential for Everyone

What do Oprah, LeBron James, Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ariana Huffington, Hugh Jackman and Phil Jackson have in common? They are all famous and rich? Sure, but a core component of their journey to success is their regular practice of mindfulness.

What makes a life successful? What are its component parts? There is birth, school, college, drugs, alcohol, money, vacations, sex, children, aging, grandchildren, death, and yet there is no recipe for combining all of these to assure a happy life. Deciding that you can know how you will live by defining the number of children you will have, exactly where and when you will vacation, how much money you will make, and what your profession will be is as futile as assuming that you will know how you will feel after eating a slice of orange cake simply by knowing the ingredients that went into the cake.

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General

Keeping the Spark Alive in Marriage

A widely believed myth is that marriage gets boring and stays that way. This is only true when things get too familiar and predictable. Granted, we like routines and it’s nice to know that we can count on our spouse being there when we go to bed and wake up. But this doesn’t mean that after you realize he’s (or she’s) the one that the fun has to end.

It means to notice when it’s time to add excitement to your marriage. When an activity you used to enjoy on your own or as a couple no longer lights you up, it’s time to try something new -- on your own or together.

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Addiction

Daily Rituals to Reduce Anxiety

Who among us has not experienced their fair share of anxiety? Whether it be from finances, school assignments, career troubles or relationship issues, we all - at least occasionally - get caught in the rainstorm that is anxiety. Some prefer to outrun this brewing downpour. I say, save your energy, and just bring an umbrella.

An anxiety umbrella can take many forms: medicine, therapy, self-reflection or alterations in one’s daily tasks that reduce the burden of anxiety and allow you to focus on more important matters. Here are a few examples that you can use when that cloud of stress turns threatens to turn into a perfect storm:

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Addiction

Smoking and Mental Illness

Every morning, I can look forward to two things: one of my cats snuggling up on my face or my older brother Derek asking someone for cigarette money.

Derek is an avid smoker, and a schizophrenic. He started smoking a few years ago, just before his diagnosis (a neighbor said it would help him with stress). For many people, especially people with mental illnesses, smoking is common. There can be a short-term feeling of relief. However, smoking can be detrimental to those with mental illness.

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