Need treatment? Find help or get online counseling right now!

Children and Teens

Using Family Dinners to Build Healthy Mentalities

One of my most cherished memories is making homemade pasta with my mother in her Bosch mixer (which is now MY mixer). We would set up shop in the kitchen. My mother, my siblings and I would prepare an enormous meal for our extended family every other Sunday, complete with the pasta, fresh bread and salad. Everyone would always exclaim how delicious the food was, but it was not the meal itself that sticks out in my mind. It's those hours spent in the kitchen with the boiling pots and chopping knives.

Studies have shown again and again that
Continue Reading

Family

How to Be Proactive Instead of Reactive and Bothered by Others’ Requests

“If we didn’t spend so much time reacting to things, we would spend less time feeling bothered. We would be able to relax in our lives the way our mind relaxes in meditation.” – Angel Williams

You wake up and immediately think of all the stuff you feel you must do today. Rather, consider that this list is what you either told yourself is necessary, contains some that you figure you’ll maybe get around to, some that are totally unnecessary and not time-sensitive, and still more items others added to your workload or responsibility by someone else. Some of these are undoubtedly a real chore, while other tasks are less onerous but still something you’d rather not do. Yet, it isn’t the planned to-do list that often bothers you but those situations and problems that require you to act. Here’s the difficulty: You’re reacting to things -- and that bothers you.

Here are some suggestions on how you can be
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

Screening Your Sanity

“Do you not give a damn about your father?” my Dad growled into the phone.

The truth is I cared -- probably too much. And for my own health and well-being, I had to step back from my Dad’s snark-filled comments and Mt. Vesuvius rage.

Family -- or at least the idealized notion of family -- is sacrosanct to me. I cherish my relationships with my beloved aunties and uncles. When they aren’t teasing me for the latest Mattism (losing my keys, wallet, or mind), they are prodding me about my latest love interest or travel escapade. And as for my late mother, she was equal parts mentor and matriarch. From joyfully recalling the day’s events to lunching with her and her tennis girlfriends to Thanksgiving bowl-a-thons, I smile -- ruefully -- at the fond memories. There is a tinge of sadness too as I recall our family’s joyfulness.
Continue Reading

Family

Is He Ready for Marriage? Put Him to the Test

If you’re looking to marry, how do you know if he’s the one? Besides giving due weight to chemistry and other concerns, you can do some “litmus testing” to find out which qualities he has that you can accept and which ones spell trouble.         

Marriage-readiness is necessary. It can’t be forced. When he’s ready, he’s ready and not a moment before. If you’re able to manipulate a not ready man into marrying you, he may resent you for a long time. You don’t want that, do you? So do test for readiness.     

The "Sex and the City" television characters once compared a marriage-ready man to a taxi: At a certain time, he becomes ready to commit. His "available" light goes on and the next woman in his life gets the ring.
Continue Reading

Family

7 Ways to Better Understand and Be Understood

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood.” – Ralph Nichols
Being human, we all have certain basic needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs outlines them quite well and encompasses all that we generally think about when it comes to what we need.

Yet one of our most basic needs, the need to understand and be understood, seldom gets much attention.

It should.

Without the ability to understand what others say or the meaning behind their words, we can miss important cues, lose out on opportunities, fail to see changes in time to appropriately react, and go off in a totally different direction. Worse, if we lack understanding, we’re more prone to selfish acts than helping others.
Continue Reading

Children and Teens

Everything I Was Too Afraid to Be: On Fatherhood and Mental Health

Recently, I had the good fortune to meet a fellow mental health advocate in person. Gabriel Nathan (Gabe – just like me) is the Editor-in-Chief of OC87 Recovery Diaries and a man who lives with depression, anxiety, and obsessive thoughts. We talked about a great many things, but the topic that fascinated me the most is that he is the father of twins.

“How on earth can you manage mental illness AND a child -- let alone two?” was my first thought.

Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

The Smallest Talk

“Oh, the weather today was beautiful. Do want to talk about the meaning of life?” I ask.

While I facetiously save meaning of life questions for the second date (first date conversations generally revolve around morality tropes and ethical dilemmas -- I kid), I abhor small talk. Small talk is the conversational equivalent of a McDonald's Happy Meal: plastic and headache-inducing.

While I can smile along at small talk, my mind is jumping to more far-concerns concerns, "Why are we talking about Beyonce’s latest outfit when the refugee crisis is blotting Europe or the Republican health care plan threatens the Affordable Care Act? Or my mental health issues are strangle-holding me into submission?"
Continue Reading

Family

3 Ways to Stop Resentment from Ruining Your Relationship

It’s like there’s an invisible wall between you and your partner. Each of you is annoyed or even outraged at the other’s behavior. You think your spouse’s actions are unfair. They think your actions are ridiculous. You don’t feel connected, emotionally or physically. In fact, even though you’re inhabiting the same space, it feels like there are miles between you. And you’re withdrawing more and more from each other. Maybe you even feel like roommates.

This is resentment.

Resentment often occurs when partners become parents. Each partner compares how hard they’re working and how much they’re doing. Usually, new moms feel especially resentful because they’re overtired, overwhelmed and lonely, said
Continue Reading

Children and Teens

Why Is Trust Important?

Who do you trust? Ideally, family, friends and co-workers in our inner circles would be first among those to whom we offer our vulnerability. As children, we are taught to trust police officers, clergy and doctors. Sadly, those in all categories have been known to exhibit behaviors that betray our confidence and safety. Letting youngsters know that they have a "Spidey Sense" and can detect when they are being lied to, or are in danger, is an important parenting skill. When children have go-to people, whether in their family or extended community, they are more likely to trust -- and with good reason.

How can we grow trust?
Continue Reading

Aging

On Losing My Mother

It has been 3 years since my Mother died at 9:41pm on a hot August night. She was 62 and pancreatic cancer had ravaged her body in a short 7 weeks. I was there. I remember the room, the funeral home removing her body and my 45-minute drive home with my Yorkie. It was surreal and I didn’t cry.

Reflecting back on her loss and the associated grief, I didn’t start to grieve until 6 months after she passed. Immediately following her death, my siblings and I had a condominium to sell, clothing and household items to pack, and a funeral to plan. I told myself I was too busy to allow the sadness and grief in.
Continue Reading

Children and Teens

Should I Talk to My Child about Suicide?

Of all the conversations parents are uncomfortable having with their children, perhaps none is as daunting as talking about suicide.

Unfortunately, this is a topic that has to be tackled sooner rather than later given that suicide is currently the third leading cause of death among adolescents aged 10-14 and the second leading cause of death for those aged 15-24, according to the 
Continue Reading

Family

Weathering the Storm Together: Tips for Couples During a Natural Disaster

These are extremely difficult times in so many lives, as Texas recovers from Hurricane Harvey and Florida recovers from Hurricane Irma. We are concerned for loved ones in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and many others in the Caribbean as well. These hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters are extremely challenging for all those directly affected by their destruction. Remember, it takes time to recover, heal and rebuild.  

Couples need to work together during these stressful and trying times so that it doesn’t take a toll on their relationship. It is important for couples to manage all of the stress of the events without projecting their anger and sadness onto one another. Leaning on and drawing from each other’s strengths is key. Effective communication, including active listening are essential skills to make sure couples are turning toward one another, rather than away, in times of crises.
Continue Reading