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Anxiety and Panic

Perfection Is Overrated

An age-old truth was revealed to me as I was making a cake during a recent holiday weekend. My 85-year-old mother was having a Labor Day party, and she wanted me to bring dessert. I picked up the frozen pie she likes, but she didn’t think that would be enough for the crowd that was coming, so she asked me to make a cake.

“Sure,” I said. Cakes were easy these days with endless, fool-proof cake mix possibilities.
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Anxiety and Panic

Stroller Wars: Parenthood Isn’t for Everyone

“Just wait until you have your own kids; you will see,” a friend’s mother claims. “Kids are such a joy.”

Within ten minutes, I experienced that joy firsthand. As my college buddy and I attempted to fritter away a lazy Saturday, his kid was having a bigger meltdown than Chernobyl. First, she hurled a toy at her young brother. And when that flying projectile didn’t connect, she opted for a solid right hook. That connected -- and induced a shrieking cry heard 'round Seattle.

“Maybe, it is time for Uncle Matt to exit stage right,” I laughed -- exchanging merciful, pitying looks with my college buddy.
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Mother’s Memoir of Son’s Opioid Addiction Offers Hope

Lisa Hillman never meant to become a poster child for parents coping with a child’s drug problem. She was an accomplished health care administrator, a fundraising executive married to former Annapolis Mayor Richard Hillman, and the mother of two.

Few people knew about the nightmare that was unfolding at home starting with a phone call from her son’s high school teacher the start of his senior year, alerting her to his possible marijuana use. Jacob’s addiction unraveled from there, resulting in a dependence on opiates that threw his life into reverse: preventing him from returning to the University of Maryland; presenting troubles with the law; and deteriorating most of his relationships, including his once-tight bond with his mom.
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Suicide Awareness: The Family Secret

When I was 8 years old my uncle died by suicide.

I remember sitting in my family living room with my twin brother during a hot summer day watching a cartoon about rabbits, when I heard the phone ring and then the most heart-wrenching wail I have ever heard come out of my mother. My father immediately came into the room in a stoic and serious manner and told us that our uncle had died. He said not to do anything or say anything to my mother, and quickly left the room.
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Anxiety and Panic

Driftin’ Away

“Well, when I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So what do most reasonably smart, analytical types do after college? They go to law school,” I wryly chuckled to my counselor. “It is a three-year holding pattern for the chronically undecided. It is the new open studies major.”

Unlike some friends (“I knew I wanted to be a pediatric doctor at age four,” a long-time confidante once told me), I drifted into my profession. There was no sense of calling -- unless you count my father’s hysterical phone calls about turning down a prestigious law school. Truthfully, law school was more of a fallback than bubbling “C” on those deceptively difficulty Iowa Test of Basic Skills multiple choice tests.
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What Makes an Online Peer Support Group Helpful?

As someone who lives with bipolar disorder and often feels disconnected from the “real” world, it’s no surprise I’ve spent a lot of time in online support groups. All of this was long before I reached recovery, became a writer, or even heard the term “peer support.”

For me, it was simply about finding other people who could commiserate with me and understand what I was going through. Overall, I had good experiences in many of the online support groups I joined. However, not all such groups are created equal.

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Ethics & Morality

In Times of Tragedy — How Do We Cope?

While I try to keep up with current events in the United States and the world, I am the first to admit I often stay away from the news -- especially these days. If I pay too much attention to our country's problems and issues, it affects me to the point where I can't function well. And then what good am I to anybody? So I have chosen to pay attention to the news -- just enough to be informed, but not enough to interfere with living a good, productive life.

But lately I find myself glued to the television news reports about the disaster in Texas. I've never seen anything like it in my life -- flooding beyond belief -- with so many people displaced and in need of help. Devastation on so many levels.
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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder: Myths, Facts, and Prospects

When I was about 22 years old, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder bipolar type. I am 29 years old now, and still puzzled -- What exactly constitutes schizoaffective disorder? Moreover, is the illness itself a diagnostic myth or a fact? No one wants to be labeled schizophrenic or even bipolar, but to be labeled schizoaffective -- Is that a “worse” diagnosis or a “better” one?
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