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How I Dealt with Depression After Brain Surgery

Once again I was on the phone to my friend, sobbing. She’d put up with my tears every day since I left the hospital. Two or three daily meltdowns were the norm.

Many of my tears were over things that would have merely irritated me before: misplaced scissors, dirty socks in the middle of the living room, a brief computer glitch.

I have cavernous angiomas, tangles of malformed blood vessels, scattered throughout my brain. Two of them -- one larger than a golf ball in my right parietal lobe, and the other, smaller, in my brain stem -- had bled, and I underwent brain surgeries to remove them.
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3 More Things That Keep Us Lonely

In a recent article, I discussed three things that may keep us lonely: Being critical of others, our tendency to shame people, and believing that we should be perfect. Here are some additional reasons we may find ourselves feeling isolated.

Fear of Taking Risks

If we hold the unrealistic belief that we should be perfect, we may be unwilling to do anything that might expose our imperfections. We may be so paralyzed by the fear of failing that we won’t take steps that might alleviate our loneliness. We might think, “Yeah, I should go out more or write a personal ad for a dating site… and some day I’ll get around to it.” But that day never comes.

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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: October 31, 2017

We all struggle with fear, which makes taking on a new persona for a night, going to a Haunted House or watching scary movies fun. It transforms what's terrifying into something light. It puts us in a seat of power by giving us an opportunity to dress up as fear.

Are you watching a Halloween comedy, wearing a costume or finding another way to put fear in its place?

How about learning how to really be assertive, kicking loneliness on its head and imagining what your future would be like married to a narcissist?

These tips of courage will stay with you long after the candy is gone.

Happy Halloween!
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Adult Child of an Alcoholic: How Beginner Ballet Helped My Recovery

Who knew activities could be more enjoyable by taking pressure off yourself?

The first time I did a plié, I wanted to die. Not in the literal sense. But in the “how did I not realize this was so hard?” sense. I was drenched in sweat and we hadn’t even gotten through warmups. Welcome to adult absolute beginner ballet.

I'd never taken ballet as a kid, and its reputation for gruff teachers and perfectionism really intimidated me, even as an adult. The image of a stern impossible to please teacher coupled with competitive classmates had kept me away my whole life. Like a lot of people from alcoholic families, I felt I should be an immediate expert in everything I did. Incompetency was dangerous. But I’d always wanted to try ballet, so when an acquaintance posted on Facebook that she was teaching a ballet class that started with the absolute baby basics, I gathered my courage and signed up.
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Breaking Up (with a Friend) Is Hard to Do

Breakups are hard. They can be emotionally taxing, stressful and isolating. While we generally attribute the word “break up” to the dissolution of an intimate relationships -- a partner, marriage, or significant other -- breaking up with a friend can be just as hard and lonely.

Reasons for a break up with a partner or significant other may be more clear cut -- infidelity, conflicts in values and beliefs, or mistreatment -- but we sometimes have trouble determining whether it makes sense to break up with a friend.

Friendships can naturally fizz out -- circumstances such as a move and life transitions including marriage or children, can cause friendships to phase out. But how do you know when it’s necessary to break up with a friend? Below are some red flags to help identify whether a particular friend is contributing to your well-being as well as meeting your emotional needs.
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Bouncing Back: Resilient Thrivers Tell Their Stories

This is the first in a series of articles about people who have survived life challenges that they never anticipated. For each of them, the unexpected brought lessons and skills that have helped them to move from victim to survivor to thriver.

Albert Borris is a 58-year-old man who lives in the Philadelphia suburb of Moorestown, New Jersey. For three decades, he worked as a Student Assistance Counselor in a high school setting, guiding young people who were facing psychological and addiction oriented challenges. According to his colleagues and those whose lives he touched -- likely thousands over the years -- he was superb at his job. He is the father of three children; two young sons and a daughter who is following in her father’s footsteps professionally, now in graduate school earning her Masters of Social Work.
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New Trend: Young Men Prefer a ‘Bromance’ to a Romance

A new study has found that young heterosexual mens’ 'bromances' -- their close friendships with other men -- are more emotionally satisfying than their romantic relationships with women.

It appears that young men are confiding in their mates instead of opening up to their female partners, more so than older generations of men.

The study was published in Men and Masculinities1 and showed that of the undergraduate straight men they interviewed for the study, 100% reported having at least one “bromantic” friend with whom they engaged in behaviors such as sharing secrets, sleeping in the same bed, or expressing love. 96% of respondents said they had cuddled with their bromantic partner.
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Healing from Trauma Boosts Relationship Joy

Trauma happens. It’s not something people often talk about. Possibly, someone you’ve been getting to know and like, your relationship partner, or your spouse has experienced a horrific life changing event, such as a sudden or violent death or suicide of someone close, physical or sexual abuse, bullying, violence, (domestic or family, war or political), a life-threatening illness, or something else.

Healing takes both time and a willingness to face the trauma, whether it’s old, recent, large, or small. We cannot force readiness to deal with trauma. Each of us has our own timetable, which should be respected.
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Anxiety and Panic

How to Stop Fear From Stopping You

There may be some kids who come into this world with courage, confidence and guts. I wasn’t one of them. I come from fear. I was born sensitive and shy. Lots of things scared me. I worried about serious things like how awful it must be to fight in a war. And I worried about typical kid stuff, like what other people thought of me.

I still remember coming home crying because my 2nd-grade teacher accused me of lying. Me! The kid who wanted to please, do good, help out. Little did my teacher realize that even if I wanted to, I was too scared to lie.

In contrast, today I’m a confident, competent, courageous adult, comfortable in my own skin. I’ve had experiences that amaze me. Some are truly unusual, like tracking mountain gorillas in Uganda with my son Glenn, or being interviewed on national TV. Others are just brave for me -- speaking my mind without worrying about what others think; disagreeing with an authority figure; stretching my intellect to learn what initially seemed insurmountable.
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Brain and Behavior

A Connection Between the Zika Virus and Curing Brain Cancer?

Not long ago, Zika virus was dominating headlines. A new infection was hardly ever heard about before then, yet is now affecting hundreds of thousands of people in Latin America, causing disfiguration and microcephalia in new-born babies. Microcephalia is caused by severe delayed and abnormal development of the brain, resulting in the range of intellectual disability, dwarfism, poor motor functions and speech. With no cure or even preventive vaccination available, many women in the most affected regions were reportedly considering postponing any planned pregnancies.

The virus was actually discovered back in 1947 in Zika forest in Uganda (and this is where its name comes from). The pathogen is related to better known viruses causing dengue and yellow fever. The disease is spread predominantly by one type of mosquito and was a rare occurrence until the epidemics of 2015–2016, when in Brazil alone well over 100,000 cases were reported. The disease caused particular concern as it coincided with the run-up to the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.
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Advocate By Honesty

It is high time that those suffering from mental illness come out of the closet. Could you imagine if the millions in America who suffer from psychiatric problems could confess their ‘secret’? I think many would be shocked as the grip of this miserable ailment is far deeper than one can imagine. That is why whenever I visit my psychiatrist the office is overflowing. Let’s face it we live in a troublesome world and we all have troubled minds, unfortunately some have chemical imbalances that magnify the day by day trepidation

I never tried to hide my mental illness, so to say, but I certainly wasn’t vocal about it. What was I supposed to do walk up to somebody and say “Hi my name is John Kaniecki and I suffer from bipolar”? The notion is absurd and ridiculous, but I say this only because mental illness as a whole is misunderstood. For far too many people the image of the mentally ill are ‘crazy’ serial killers.
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