Personal Articles

Be You Very Well

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

be you very wellFor a good year or so of my life, I wanted to be Gretchen Rubin, the bestselling author of The Happiness Project. I had coffee with her a few months before our books came out (both were published the first week of January 2010).

Hers became an instant New York Times bestseller. She appeared on “Today” and the rest of the morning shows and was in demand as a keynote speaker at prestigious conferences around the country. Mine, well, didn’t make the bestseller list and getting press was rather challenging on a bleak topic.

Quieting the Voice of the Devil on Your Shoulder

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Quieting the Voice of the Devil on Your ShoulderI often equate having schizophrenia to having a little devil on my shoulder that likes to whisper nasty stuff in my ear.

He’s a cunning little jerk, too. If he senses a vulnerability or the potential for anxiety he’ll start screaming.

In the eight years I’ve lived with the illness I’ve come to recognize these triggers and do a pretty good job of avoiding them. You can’t do it forever, though, and eventually the devil is gonna start screaming again.

Passing it On: Parenthood & Mental Illness

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Passing it On“Aren’t you afraid he will get your disease?”

This question was uttered by a colleague at a department picnic this past summer when I was still working as a college instructor. This colleague had known me for a few years. She had known me when I was still adamantly not going to have children. She knew of my diagnoses. This was the first time she had seen me since I had given birth, and the first time she met my son, who had just turned one year old.

She chose to ask a question about my fear of passing on my psychiatric illnesses.Not a question concerning the million other things that happens with new motherhood — a question of genetic loading.

Taking Care of Mothers: A Necessity, Not a Luxury

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Taking Care of Mothers: A Necessity not a Luxury

“Be still and heal.”

 – Thich Nhat Hanh,

Vietnamese monk

How that insight could have helped me as a new mom … if I’d had even an inkling of the value of being still.

No one prepared me for the unrelenting demands of motherhood. The realities of a 24/7 responsibility that left no time for myself. That lonely time after the front door closed behind my husband each morning, and I felt like I had to cope and should be happy about it.

What’s Holding You Back? 5 Ways to Break Free from Mental Barriers

Monday, September 15th, 2014

What’s holding you back? 5 Ways to Break Free from Mental Barriers  The power of fear never ceases to amaze me. It can control people’s entire lives and destiny! 

I was in Orlando, Florida, the day I realized that fear was just a made-up idea — a concept that is both very real for most people, yet not real at all. I was in my car, listening to an audio CD of interviews with self-made millionaires when the interviewee (in response to a question about how he got one particular business started) said: “I figured, if it wasn’t going to kill me or cause permanent bodily harm, what was there to lose really? So, we gave it a shot.”

That was a life-transforming moment for me. If it wasn’t going to kill me or cause permanent bodily damage, why not give it a shot?

How You Can Find Gratitude When You’re Overwhelmed with Grief

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

gratitude

It’s pretty easy to feel grateful when good things happen. Win the lottery or fall in love? Easy. But what if you lose your spouse, or child, or even your job, how do we find gratitude then?

Scientifically, we know gratitude is strongly linked to well being. People just feel better when gratitude is part of the mix. It’s the feel-good fuel that urges us on to higher and higher ground when life is going well. But does it have even more benefit when used when healing from grief, or anytime life knocks you on your bum and you are having trouble getting back up?

Creativity Can Be a Fearful Flyer’s Best Friend

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Creativity Can Be a Fearful Flyer's Best FriendI’m a recovered fearful flyer who experienced a setback this year, and I have to brush up on my anxiety prevention skills. Of course I knew this could happen. Apparently membership in the Fearful Flyers Club is for life.

I try not to despair. But when it comes down to it I wonder: how much work do I have to do to make something expensive and relatively uncomfortable into something that doesn’t turn my body into a dumping ground of stress hormones?

3 Thorny Obstacles to Being Authentic

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

More Questions to Help You Deepen Your Connection with Your PartnerWe long for intimate connections, which are essential for our emotional and physical health. But oftentimes we don’t know how to create the connections we desire. Summoning the courage to reveal what we’re experiencing inside allows people to see us and know us. Showing our authentic heart rather than blaming, attacking, or shaming people allows them to feel safer coming toward us.

Yet, we often have blocks to moving toward the authenticity that would create a fertile climate for warm connections with people. Here are some obstacles I’ve observed in my work as a marriage and family therapist for over 30 years:

Alive in My Dreams: Grieving During Sleep

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Flickr Creative Commons/Devin SmithI dreamt I was walking out of a bar because I didn’t know anyone there and everyone appeared to be leaving. Outside I saw my friend Don speaking to someone. From the steps of the bar I dove into his arms and hugged him. He hugged me back and laughed. It sounded like him. It felt like him.

He turned to leave, and I took his hand. It felt like his hand. The sky was pink and purple like the sun was setting somewhere behind us. I said, “Wait, I have to tell you something before I wake up. I love you.”

“It’s so embarrassing,” he told me, like he didn’t want to talk about his suicide.

A New Experience: I Was in the Napa Valley Earthquake

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

napaearthquakeI had a profound experience Sunday. My husband and I, and much of my family, were in Napa Valley for my cousin’s wedding. At 3:20 a.m., I was lying in bed awake, because the time change meant that my body considered it past my usual wake-up time of 6:00.

As I was lying there, I felt the earthquake hit. My husband woke up right away, and we lay there clutching each other. Neither one of us said a word.

How to Program Your Day with Positive Affirmations

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

power-positive-feedback

Your words can have a powerful effect on your life. Here’s why you should choose them carefully.

Do you wake up in the morning and think right away, “I need a coffee to start my day. I’m not going to be able to start my day until I have that coffee. I need coffee right now or I can’t do a thing?” The real question is, do you really need coffee or have you programmed your mind to believe that over the years because of your language?

Understanding Rejection in Personal Relationships

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Understanding Rejection in Personal RelationshipsRejection is one person saying to the other — “Keep away, I don’t want you around me now. ” Such a message often hits exactly in the center of our ego and shakes our self worth.  Thus both giving and receiving a message of rejection has to be handled with sensitivity.

Thankfully most social rejections are subtle. Most of us, in the beginning of a relationship, choose less-risky ways to make a connection. Saying “Hi”, sharing a joke, participating in a yoga class together, all these activities can aid in the process of building intimacy. 

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