Bipolar

Which is Worse, Mental or Physical Illness?

On the morning of a bone scan procedure to check to see if my cancer has come back, I’m wondering which is worse: mental illness or physical illness?

As a person who’s experienced both, I have a little bit to say on the topic. Of course, the answer to this question is highly subjective, but here goes my analysis:

I was diagnosed with bipolar illness in 1991. I was 28. For the next 24 years, I would suffer with the disease, enduring nights without sleep, terrible depressions, paranoia and, worst of all, delusions that made it difficult to exist in public places.
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Children and Teens

Mindfulness Explained through Baseball

In my writings and videos I often write and speak about mindfulness. In talking about mindfulness I emphasize the present moment, yet I am aware of how our past and our future work together. The definition of mindfulness instructs us to live in the present moment, nonjudgmentally.

"Nonjudgmentally" means we need not put a value judgment on the present moment. We are simply to experience the moment. The minute that we think this is a good moment or a bad moment, we have judged the moment.

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Anger

Transforming My Angry Tightness

Last year, my husband Jon wanted me to do something I didn’t want to do. Jon promised his father they would speak on the phone at a certain time. So I had to leave Connecticut earlier than I wanted (to find cell phone reception), cutting short my lovely Sunday afternoon in the country. I felt myself get “tight” in my body, angry at having to make the accommodation.

I am not proud of my selfish reaction. Nevertheless I was powerless to stop it. My body tightened and I pushed back, asking Jon in a complaining voice, “What’s the big deal if you talk to your dad later?” But Jon insisted, claiming he made a promise he wanted to keep. So we rushed out the door.

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Disorders

Dialectical Behavior Therapy: How Action Conquers Emotion

“I don’t feel like it.”
When stress overwhelms me, I withdraw. Usually a talkative Ted, I glance at my phone and mumble, “Not today,” as the phone buzzes. Unhealthy? Sure. Ingrained? You betcha!

Insert DBT -- Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Or, as I call it, Don’t Be Timid. Stumbling across the emerging therapy, its simplicity registers. With DBT, opposite action is my guiding mantra.

Emotion fuels action, and when I am fearful or overwhelmed, I retreat into familiar creature comforts. Phone calls sit unreturned, dishes pile up, and bills mount. I stall, minimizing potential consequences.
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Children and Teens

Men and Intimacy: How Do Our Families Shape Us?

“The need for love and intimacy is a fundamental human need, as primal as the need for food, water, and air.”  - Dean Ornish, MD, physician and founder of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California
Seth’s natural impulse was to shy away from showing his feelings to his girlfriend. That made perfect sense to me, since he grew up with a father who rarely showed affection to anyone in the family.

How would a little boy learn that it was all right to express intimacy and affection if his own father chose reserve emotional expression? Answer: A little boy would not.
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Children and Teens

Good Deeds and Good Mental Health

I witnessed one of the most wonderful displays of charitable giving when I was 16 years old. You see, I was in love with a boy named Brian, who was a bit of a hippie. He had long, wavy, brown hair, which he tied back with a black cord. He had a very peaceful attitude, and he lived in a pair of beat-up, broken-in, faded overalls, which I coveted because they looked tremendously comfortable. But let’s get real: beyond comfort, they were Brian’s favorite item of clothing, and I wanted to slip into them and never take them off.

They had his smell, which I loved. Brian smelled like Dr. Bonner’s Peppermint Soap, fresh air and good genes. Oh, how I loved Brian. But he was in love with someone else, so we remained “just friends.”

One Christmas, his parents decided to give him a brand new pair of (very stiff, very blue) overalls. They were probably sick of him wearing the old ones, which, by the way, did have a few holes. I saw it as my chance to get those pants once and for all. I sweetly asked Brian if I could have his old ones since he just got a new pair of overalls.

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Anger

The Myth of Negative Emotions

Emotions that provide us with unpleasant feelings have traditionally (and unfairly) been labelled “negative emotions.” People tend to want to avoid them, force them away, or silence them as soon as they emerge. They are the Rodney Dangerfield of emotions: they get no respect.

The truth is, there is no such thing as a negative emotion, since each emotion has its own role and purpose. In fact, in the book, The Upside of Your Dark Side, authors Todd Kashdan, Ph.D., and Robert Biswas-Diener argue that in order to attain happiness, one has to welcome every emotion (pleasant or unpleasant) and learn how to make the best of them. It is not the emotion that is problematic but rather the way we deal with them that can be. Instead of pushing these emotions away, we should learn to welcome and listen to the important messages these feelings are trying to communicate to us.
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Brain and Behavior

5 Ways to Bounce Back from Sticking Your Foot in Your Mouth

I didn’t earn the nickname “Tourette's” for my great small talk skills. If there is a way to accidentally offend someone, I will find it. Here are some of my favorites:

My daughter Katherine is named after my grandmother and my great-grandmother, two very strong women in our family tree whom I wanted to celebrate in my girl's name.

When I took Katherine to meet her third-grade teacher, the teacher asked her, “What would you like to be called?”

She responded, “Katie.”

Taken aback, I immediately retorted, “No! No, no, no! … You don’t want to be called Katie! … Katherine is so much more sophisticated.” I went on and on about why she should not be called Katie. (I do like the name Katie for every Katie who is reading this, but I was attached to Katherine for heritage reasons.)
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General

How to Win Any Argument

I used to argue. A lot. In fact, I used to burn a lot of bridges. I let my pigheaded nature and lack of self worth get in the way. Since I wasn't confident, my struggle for meaning controlled the things I did. Primarily, this meant that I felt I had to prove myself.

A friend of mine who is on his way to becoming one of the most successful people I know recently sent me the following message: "I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sacrificed learning something by becoming defensive of my own knowledge and abilities and focusing on communicating those qualities versus actually learning from someone who was ahead of me."

Of course, you are not always going to be speaking with someone ahead of you. But the point remains.

Why are you arguing? To defend your viewpoint. And why are you defensive? Because you lack self-worth and/or confidence in your knowledge.
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Happiness

Your Career Never, Ever Reflects Your Self-Worth


Life doesn't listen to your rock star dreams.

Halfway through her recent emotional interview with Ellen DeGeneres, human butt-kicking machine Ronda Rousey started to sob. And it wasn't any of this fake TV ratings junk either.

The 29-year-old began to weep as she recalled her mindset right after she was knocked out while defending her UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship title against Holly Holm in November of last year -- a fight she was wildly favored to win.

"What am I anymore if I'm not this?" Rousey recalled wondering in the locker room immediately following her upset loss. "I'm nothing." She admitted that she seriously thought about taking her own life. What's the point now, she remembered thinking, people will hate me.
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