A Box Full of Darkness: Growing Up in the Shadow of BPD

Someone I loved once gave me
A box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
That this, too, was a gift.
-Mary Oliver

I can’t remember now how I ran across this poem by Mary Oliver. I saved it, because the box-full-of-darkness metaphor seemed genius. As time went by, its relevance to my experience became clearer. The poem eventually served as an epigraph for my book Missing: Coming to Terms with a Borderline Mother.

First, here’s what I won’t be saying about these lines. I won’t say that all dark boxes become gifts. The loss of a child or debilitating pain or one’s own mental illness? Starvation? Violence? Are these gifts, or can they become gifts? It feels presumptuous to say so. I can speak only to my own experience, and a largely blessed and lucky experience it has been.
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Why I Admire Psychopaths… Some of Their Traits Anyway

Sometimes, when I wake up on Monday mornings and feel a little stressed about my upcoming week, afraid I won’t be convincing during a presentation, or not sure about taking on some project that is a little out of my comfort zone, I wish I had a little more psychopathic traits.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I wish I was an emotionless serial killer, just that it would be nice to have a little more of some of the traits they share that are actually coveted in today's society.
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Connecting to Your Core Self

We often come across the term “core self” in magazines or online. Maybe we hear it in conversation. Maybe we hear statements like it’s important to connect to your core self. It’s important to develop a deep understanding of it. Doing so is vital for building a fulfilling, meaningful life.

But what is a “core self”? What does it really mean?

According to psychotherapist Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, “core self is your true self, or most authentic self.” It is our “inner wisdom, inner nurturer, wise self, feeling self, inner voice…” It is our values and personality, she said.
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Brain and Behavior

ADRA2B: The Genetic Variation that Determines Our Emotional Reactions

A new scientific study validates how truly awesome we are.

It's a tough world out there for a person who is super sensitive.

If you're a woman and you're sensitive, people think of you as being fragile or crazy. If you're a man and you're too sensitive, people might think you're weak or, god forbid, womanly.

But a recent study about the brains of sensitive people proves that there's nothing wrong with sensitive people, we're just programmed differently. In fact, our sensitivity is a great thing!

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When an Apology Is Not an Apology

Why is apologizing so difficult? Saying “I was wrong, I made a mistake, I’m sorry” is more painful than root canal therapy for some people.

As a psychotherapist, I’ve found that our ability to apologize is directly related to the shame we carry. Burdened with a deeply ingrained sense of being flawed or defective, we mobilize to avoid being flooded by a debilitating shame.

When we recognize that we’ve done or said something offensive or hurtful, we may notice an uncomfortable feeling inside. We realize we’ve broken trust and done some damage.
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How Do You Spot a Narcissist on Facebook?

Narcissists tend to use Facebook for validation, posting about their accomplishments including their diet and fitness routine, according to researchers at Brunel University London.

I do it. In fact, I do it all the time. I post to Facebook about how I worked out early or how great I'm doing at my fitness routine.

I share these posts because you wouldn't think I do any kind of fitness, and because I want to encourage myself to continue to exercise. I'm sort of accepting my body and body-shaming myself at the same time.
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Brain and Behavior

How Complaining Can Alter Our Perception

It is intuitive that a negative attitude and constant complaining are bad for us, but can it really affect our brain? It turns out that there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that negativity can alter our perception of life by changing the connection of the neurons in our brain. This would then result in increased stress levels, which is linked to chronic diseases and mental health problems.

A common perception of complaining or “venting” is that people feel better after getting their emotions out. Contrary to popular belief, however, studies have shown that expressing negativity can be bad for the mood of both the complainer and the listener, and here we briefly discuss a few findings on how negativity can impact our well-being.
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Psychology Around the Net: October 1, 2016

Ah, October, my absolute favorite month. How I've missed thee.

This year, I get to start off my favorite month at a wedding later today, watching two sweet friends marry and begin their lives together.

Speaking of marriage, let's take a look at some of this week's latest in mental health topics such as surviving a marriage with a special needs child as well as how the "selfie culture" is affecting young women's mental health, today's most common personality type, how your body reacts to food when you're stressed, and more.

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6 Tips for Cutting Off Contact with Narcissistic Family Members

Our family has the ability to frustrate us like no one else can. But what can you do when the family you were born into is not only frustrating, but cruel, condescending and downright abusive?

We all have our limits and if you were raised in a household where abuse or mental illness was part of everyday life for you, your willingness to tolerate your family’s bad behavior may be higher than most people’s.

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Moving on from Dysfunctional Relationships

Not so long ago, I joined a Facebook group for abuse survivors, in hopes of finding support and encouragement. While I was encouraged and supported in the best way an anonymous person on the Internet could be, I felt there was too much reliance on the word “narcissist.” As I tried to find intelligent solace in reading members' posts, I discovered many people playing the martyr. (I had observed that behavior in my own mother). Many of these people seeking and offering advice probably suffered from some mental or personality disorder as well.

I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I have also been told I have low self-esteem. Despite my plethora of issues, I am still able to see myself and others through a clear lens.

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Coping When You Have a Narcissistic Parent

Jaci came to see me one month before the christening of her niece, for whom she was honored to be named godmother.

Jaci could turn off the familiar anxiety video playing in her head. This is what Jaci imagined would happen at the christening, given her past experience with her narcissistic mother, Betsy.

Jaci would be taking with friends and family at the party after the service, having successfully avoided her mother’s company at church. She’d be feeling happy. It would be a joy to hold the baby and know her sister trusted her to be godmother. Then, Betsy appears at her side, cutting into the conversation.
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