Brain and Behavior

The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own

It doesn’t take an encounter with a bear or a threatening gun to trigger symptoms of the fight or flight response. I experienced similar phenomena when undergoing a consultation with a surgeon for an elective, life-altering surgery.

Her bedside manner exuded a cold, indifferent and detached attitude. With barely a glance at me, she entered the consulting room and settled into her chair. A few perfunctory questions and she did her due diligence by rattling off the risks involved with a robotic monotone that had been programmed into her. A few hasty and superficial parting words and the meeting ended abruptly.

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Anxiety and Panic

Banished From the Bed: How to Overcome Sleep Cravings

“Just let me lie in bed for another five minutes,” I groan to my mother.

She mumbles before acquiescing. I turn over, spooning the pillow. We have had this conversation before.

For the anxious and depressed, sleep is our salve. It is a temporary reprieve from uncomfortable memories and feelings.

As I crawl into bed, I justify my sleeping patterns. “Well, lounging in bed may be counter-productive. But at least I am not abusing alcohol or drugs,” I rationalize.
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Anxiety and Panic

How to Cope with the Stress of High School

"Remember that awful feeling that last day of summer vacation before the first day of school?" His question was like a fart at a funeral and roused me from my previously relaxed summer drowse.

A long slumbering dragon in the cave of my gut, released a combination of indigestion and a feeling that can I only describe with the word “blech.” Only in all caps and much longer.

The end of lazy hot long days and the beginning of what seemed like just like long days... trapped in a windowless classroom.
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Anxiety and Panic

Breaking Up with My PTSD: The Reality of Recovering from Haunting Trauma

My almost life-long companion and I are actually breaking up. I should be more specific. What I’m breaking up with is more exactly known as C-PTSD, a form of PTSD. I think we’re in the final stages of our separation. It’s been a long and drawn-out breakup because that’s how it goes with C-PTSD. Once you get to know it well, you practice breaking up with it every day. Some days require more sorting out and negotiation than others.

It’s been around a long time for me. My children have all become very familiar with it even though they didn’t know what they’re really seeing. Most people outside of our home never even knew it was around.
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Fighting Depression at Work

“Fighting depression” does not appear on any job description.

Conducting job duties -- no matter how menial or how daunting -- has never been an issue for me. In one job, I faithfully took a former boss’s clothes to and from the cleaners. In another, I had the pleasure of demonstrating a business solution for those who run a global corporation. Due to past traumas that occurred during previous jobs, however, I constantly fight an inner war against depression.
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

There’s a Best Time to Talk to Your Therapist — And That Time Is Specific to You

You’re likely aware that your energy and your mood shift throughout the day. Have you ever noticed you also have preferences for certain activities at certain times? You like to wake around the same time in the mornings. Exercise feels best at the same time, day after day. Your appetite follows a daily pattern, too, as do your desire for sex and physical intimacy.

The body’s bio rhythms regulate much of how we feel and what we do. The bio clock that keeps these rhythms in sync runs a little differently from one person to the next. These individual differences in bio time result in preferences for morning or evening activity, or something in between. (That’s why you like to rise with the sun and your partner hits the snooze button five times. Or vice-versa.)
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Taking the Judge Out of Judgment: Overcoming Your Critical Voice

My computer screen and I have been embroiled in a staring contest for the past 15 minutes. Strike that -- 30 minutes.

I have writer’s block.

Let’s evaluate my typical response. I belittle my mind, slink around the apartment, and ransack the empty refrigerator. My cheerful disposition devolves into a caustic impersonator.

Returning to the scene of the crime, the words trickle out like a leaky faucet. I have an overwhelming desire to hurl my MacBook Pro into the Puget Sound.
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Anxiety and Panic

Mothering with OCD: You Can Call Me Crazy if You Want To

Day One: They say my soul is troubled and I imagine it stumbling through an alley somewhere, barefoot and drunk with no idea how to get home. “But beautiful,” they add, and I imagine it with lipstick. Maybe eyeliner too -- something bold and daring. Something that really accentuates.

It used to chase me in my dreams, my mental illness. It still does, if I’m being honest. Me in a red-hooded cape running through a forest as fast as I can (which isn’t very fast at all, if I’m being honest). It laughing maniacally behind the trees, always behind me, no matter which way I turn: The Big Bad Wolf, strong and powerful. Branches break underneath my feet as I run them over; they slow me down and give me pause. I know the monster from my nightmares will catch up with me. It’s only a matter of time.
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5 Hidden Benefits of a Good Massage

Aside from the fact that a good massage makes you feel better, what are some of the other benefits to this practice? As a longtime advocate for massage, I decided to delve into its not-as-well-known aspects to see what else it offers beside a well-spent hour on the table. What I discovered are the following five hidden benefits of a good massage.

Massage loosens muscles

Being in physical therapy for a recent low back pain episode means I’m working muscles that have not seen regular activity for some time. That results in soreness that proves I’m doing things right, but it’s also a little uncomfortable.
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Inspiration & Hope

Childhood Trauma: Focus on Validating Feelings

When you’re a child and you suffer abuse, whether it’s physical, sexual, or emotional, you make it your mission to find out if this is normal. You wonder if other kids experienced the same things.

It’s easier to doubt your perception than it is to accept the fact that you are living in a dangerous situation. If you knew that to be true, you’d have to do something about it. You’d have to talk to a teacher, a school counselor, or a police officer. You’d have to expose something that brings you great shame and pain. You’d have to face your abuser. Even though you’re only a child.
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