Anxiety and Panic

Productive Fidgets: 8 Ways to Deal with Anxiety and Depression

As a person with active and severe mental illness, for six months I worked with a service animal. When I weaned off of his care, I transitioned to things that would keep my hands busy, things that would keep me from absentmindedly scratching myself or picking at my skin. I tried things like Play0Doh, modeling wax, and rubbing stones, but none could engage my brain enough to keep me on track. I eventually found the missing link: they were not productive.

Once I had isolated this critical thread, I was able to pack myself a small bag of “productive fidgets” that I could carry around in a manner that is *relatively* socially innocuous while mitigating the symptoms of my anxiety and depression.
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Family

The Social Club: A Shelter in the Storm

“Hey, Matt, come with me. I am going to my satellite office. Bring your laptop; you can do some work,” Uncle John said.

As I hurriedly grabbed my belongings, I visualized Uncle John’s office. It was probably a nondescript building tucked in a tony Minneapolis suburb. I wondered if Uncle John had a corner office.

Within minutes, I was walking into an unassuming strip mall in an affluent Minneapolis suburb. But there were no humming laptops or frazzled secretaries greeting Uncle John.
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Marriage and Divorce

Is Your Partner Really ‘Emotionally Unavailable’ or Is It You?

"He's just so emotionally unavailable." This is one of the things I hear most often in my practice and one of the things I heard myself saying most often before I did my own work. I remember being utterly convinced of it. The evidence was in everything my husband did -- the way he stonewalled me during arguments, the way he zoned out and disappeared into the television so much, the way he got sleepy and indeed did even nod off when I was talking to him sometimes. I was outraged by his "emotional unavailability" and I experienced it as deeply wounding.
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Anxiety and Panic

4 Ways to Face Your Fears and Overcome Phobias

We all have them -- fears, phobias, anxieties that shorten our breath, quicken our heartbeats, and sometimes can outright disable us. Some of us shut our eyes and hold our breath as we ride the elevator to the tenth floor of an office building, while others pray the Rosary inside that coffin-like enclosure when getting an MRI.

I am afraid of heights -- in particularly driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
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Family

Family Matters Even More During the Holiday Season

“I love my family -- but from a distance,” I chuckle.

For many of us, the holidays can be emotionally harrowing. We confront our past -- strained relationships with siblings, an uneasy coexistence with our parents. As festive lights glimmer, we stew over petty grievances and simmering resentments.

Flying into Minneapolis for the Thanksgiving holiday, I was anxious about seeing my immediate family. Since my mother’s passing, my brothers and I have slowly drifted apart. Four years following her passing, there is a coolness -- even chilliness -- rivaling a Minneapolis winter. Greeting my siblings for the first time in a year, I questioned how, and whether, I could contain the bubbling emotions.
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Family

Eat, Pray, Relate!

Personally, I grew up with no encouragement to pray. I used to have a vague sense that prayer was for simple, naïve folks - that it was the “opiate for the masses.” So I do understand if you don’t relate to the concept.

But perhaps you do.

Because according to a Pew Research Center survey, 55% of Americans say they pray every day. Another 21% say they pray weekly or monthly. Even many who are not religiously affiliated say they pray daily.
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Caregivers

How to Stop Apologizing for Everything You Do

Do either of these situations sound familiar?

You start an email to your boss with, “I’m sorry to bother you, but…”


A colleague plops his papers down on the conference table, knocking your coffee over. “Sorry! Let me get this stuff out of your way,” you say as you begin cleaning up.

Maybe you’ve fallen into this over-apologizing trap or have found yourself saying “I’m sorry” for things that don’t merit an apology in the first place.
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Addiction

Some of the Worst Cliches in Recovery Circles

If you spend time in recovery circles you will hear these same clichés over and over again. Some make you want to run to the nearest bar just for spite, others may become mantra.

You can't not hear them.

If you have spent any time in a 12-step meeting of any sort, or if you have spent time in rehab, chances are that you are more than familiar with recovery clichés. They are often spouted by the old timers in a meeting, or if you are in rehab, by your group counselor.
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Addiction

How to Be True to Yourself

Every once in a while I pull out my one-year sobriety chip, which reads on the front, “To Thine Own Self Be True.” I've been sober for more than 26 years now, but it was my one-year chip that meant the most to me, because it was during that first year that I realized how difficult it is to be true to yourself.

Everyone thought I was crazy for calling myself an “alcoholic” and going to 12-step support meetings. I mean, at 18 years old, I wasn’t even of a legal age to drink.
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