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Our Mental Health Blogs

Publicly Living with a Mental Illness

Publicly Living with a Mental Illness

Sharing your mental health with the world can backfire sometimes. There are stories across the Internet where people have lost jobs, severed relationships, and been severely criticized because they admitted to having a mental illness like depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder or you name it. Of course, that’s why most people use a false identity when posting on the web, so others won’t know it’s them.

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A Narcissist Explains Workplace Bullies

A Narcissist Explains Workplace Bullies

According to the  Workplace Bullying Institute, 35% of the U.S. workforce – an estimated 53.5 million Americans – report being bullied at work. If you’re one of them, you’re already well acquainted with the dread and anxiety that goes along with being a victim of chronic psychological violence. But how well do you know your tormentor? Is she a narcissist, driven by a grandiose sense of her own importance? Is he a psychopath, devoid of compassion and empathy? Arming yourself with information about workplace bullies and their methods may help you find ways of coping with them.

How do Workplace Bullies Operate?

sam-vakninWho better to shed light on the minds and motives of workplace bullies than a self-proclaimed narcissist? Sam Vaknin has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and is the author of the best-selling book, Malignant Self-Love – Narcissism Revisited. Sam joined us on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show to share his perspective on workplace bullies. He discusses:

  • The difference between a narcissist and a psychopath.
  • How to spot narcissists and psychopaths.
  • The tactics workplace bullies use in different environments.
  • How narcissists and psychopaths choose their targets.
  • What you can do to protect yourself.

Video on Narcissistic Workplace Bullies

Watch our video interview with Sam for more information about the narcissist, psychopath, and how you can make working with them easier on How to Cope with Narcissistic and Psychopathic Bullies in the Workplace.  And here’s the table of contents for all mental health video interviews from the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show.

Share Your Experiences with Workplace Bullies

Have you been a victim of workplace bullying? Are you the target of a narcissist or psychopath? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

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Experiencing Avoidant Personality Disorder

Experiencing Avoidant Personality Disorder

I wasn’t really familiar with Avoidant Personality Disorder until studying up for this week’s guest. I came across notes from a mock therapy session with a patient diagnosed with Avoidant Personality Disorder. Reading it, you can get a sense of what it’s like living with Avoidant Personality Disorder.

What Is It Like for People with Avoidant Personality Disorder?

Individuals with Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD) view the world as unfriendly, cold, and humiliating. People are seen as potentially critical, uninterested, and demeaning; they will probably cause shame and embarrassment for individuals with AvPD. As a result, people with AvPD experience social pananxiety (intense anxiety that is pervasive, omnipresent, and overwhelming) and are awkward and uncomfortable with people. However, they are caught in an intense approach-avoidance conflict; they believe that close relationships would be rewarding but are so anxious around people that their only solace or comfort comes in avoiding most interpersonal contact.

As I read through the description of Avoidant Personality Disorder, I immediately thought it was similar to Social Anxiety Disorder. However, the difference is that Avoidant Personality Disorder is essentially a problem of relating to persons, in contrast to social phobia, which is largely a problem of performing situations. For instance, Aimee White, author of the Nitty Gritty of Anxiety blog, has social anxiety and has trouble eating in front of other people. In contrast, this week’s guest, Trish Poce, feels uncomfortable around everyone and anyone.

(Trish Poce appeared on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show on July 14, 2010. You can watch the interview “on-demand.”)

From Trish Poce

I’m now 58 years old. I have never held a proper job because of mental illness, usually did menial tasks to stay out of the mainstream. I have always had Avoidant Personality Disorder since I was a very young child. I didn’t realize I had a problem. I was just sure I was not able to be like other people around me. I was shy, awkward and felt as though I never really fit in.

I grew up on army bases and we moved regularly. I went to 13 different schools by the time I was in 10th grade. I usually was befriended by 1 person each move and when we moved, the friendship ended. I never had a flock of friends.

In the time period when I grew up, mental illness was so misunderstood. We were all taught that if you were mentally ill, you were somehow retarded too. The two thoughts went hand-in-hand.

My younger life was full of abuse. My mental illness was just ignored by my parents. (It was not acceptable to have faults and mental illness would surely reflect on my parents not having “good stock”). So my behavior pattern was not noticed and my illness went undiagnosed. I was seen as a problem child. Everything got blamed on me because I was “troublesome”.

Because I was so socially inept, I made many bad decisions about who was to be my mate. I always picked abusers. This is because, in some way, I was still trying to get the love my parents never gave me. I went through a bout of alcoholism until I ended up in the mental health system about 18 yrs ago, when I attempted my first suicide.

Since my diagnosis, I have been working to get better. For the first 10 years, I floundered, taking meds by the ton and changing psychiatrists – until I found the last one. He understood meds so well and explained fully what they were doing for me. At this point, I was what we call a “zombie” from all the psychiatric medications I was on. He reduced my meds and hooked me up with a psychologist who helped me realize where all my inner pain was coming from. He used dialectical behavior therapy with me. He healed my heart. It took 5 years, but I feel my heart has been healed. I am working on accepting the past as it was, I know I can’t change it. I am now in the process of letting the past go and releasing all the demons in my head. I am now ready to continue with the rest of my healing.

At this stage, I am still socially inept. I still fear new situations, mingling with people and I still call myself names. I have problems managing my time, accomplishing tasks I have set out. But I do feel like a whole person now and not some fragmented little church mouse. A butterfly. I have ended the chrysalis stage and now am opening my wings.

My parents have passed on now, but until their death they never fully comprehended what mental illness was all about. It was never openly discussed and kept hush-hush. My siblings have all been affected in one way or another.

I have made the decision to go public – outing myself as it were. To bring a light on mental illness, to contact others who are affected and floundering. Perhaps my experiences can help those out there still looking for answers.

Share Your Experiences With Avoidant Personality Disorder

What has it been like for you? Have you tried any coping methods that were helpful? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights on the issue. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

You can watch our interview with Trish Poce on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show homepage by clicking the on-demand button on the player. The show is titled “Avoidant Personality Disorder.”

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Borderline Personality Disorder: Coping With A BPD Loved One

Borderline Personality Disorder: Coping With A BPD Loved One

Here’s how one person in a 10-year relationship with a person with Borderline Personality Disorder describes the experience: “Although I loved this person, I hated the relationship. It was a psychological hell.”

Coping with someone living with Borderline Personality Disorder can be emotionally exhausting and a difficult challenge. Here’s why! People with Borderline Personality Disorder are unstable in their self-image, moods, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. They have far more dramatic and intense interpersonal relationships and they tend to express inappropriate and intense anger. On top of that, Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms can produce reckless and destructive behaviors, including promiscuous sex, spending and financial problems, addictions and self-injury (Common Conditions Coexisting with the BPD).

That’s a lot for anyone to cope with.  Some people in “optional relationships,” (non-immediate family) walk out because they can’t handle the stress. “You have to think hard about its impact on your own personal mental health,” says one ex-partner.  If your child or someone in your immediate family has Borderline Personality Disorder, leaving the relationship may be out of the question.  So how do you cope?

On this week’s HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show, we talk with BPD Life Coach, A.J. Mahari,who provides insights into the difficulty of dealing with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder, along with offering up some possible solutions.

(A.J. Mahari appeared on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show on July 7, 2010. You can watch the interview “on-demand.”)

About A.J. Mahari

aj-mahariA.J. Mahari, 53 year old Canadian woman living in Ontario Canada. I am an author, Life Coach and Mental Health Coach, blogger, podcaster and radio show host. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 1976, at the age of 19, back in the day when it was standard to believe that people with BPD could not be helped. Both of my parents also had BPD. From the age of 17 to 30, I lived a very unfulfilling, painful, and emotionally chaotic life. I didn’t know what I needed or who I was. I didn’t understand borderline personality disorder. This was before the internet and Borderline Personality Disorder books appeared on the market. I continued to live a dysfunctional life and failed at jobs and relationships until in my early 30’s, when I went back to therapy. Group therapy helped me recover from BPD.

After my recovery from BPD in 1995, I got a computer. Back then, the internet was fairly new still. There weren’t a lot of websites and resources on BPD like there are today. I set up a website and created and hosted email lists. I began writing articles about my experience and my recovery. A few years later, I was writing ebooks, doing audios and videos about BPD. I began life and mental health coaching in 2002. It found me. I was getting (and still do get) thousands of emails a month – people asking me for help with their situations. I began to realize that my life with Borderline Personality Disorder, and my recovery from it, gave me a lot of knowledge about it that could help others.

I coach people with BPD and I also coach many loved ones of those with BPD. Loved ones in various different types of relationships with those with BPD suffer a great deal too. Many are being abused, are unhappy, and end up not only being enmeshed and codependent with people with BPD, but they actually get addicted to the very drama and chaos that they know is negatively affecting their health, their children’s lives and that blocks them from living healthier and happier lives. Many have a very difficult time deciding whether to stay with a person with BPD (even family members – stay in contact) or to leave the BPD spouse, or significant other – and/or go no-contact with borderline family members. I help people to explore what they need, what their goals are and how they can create healthy change in their lives.

Share Your Experiences on Coping with a BPD Loved One

What has it been like for you? Have you tried any coping methods that were helpful? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights on the issue. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

You can watch our interview with A.J. Mahari on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show homepage by clicking the on-demand button on the player. The show is titled “Coping With and Helping A Loved One with Borderline Personality Disorder.”

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Women in Love With Psychopaths

Women in Love With Psychopaths

HealthyPlace has the largest narcissism site on the internet: Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited. Thousands of people visit every month.

I mention this because we are constantly flooded with emails from victims of narcissists, mostly women, who are emotionally beat up and mentally dragged down after being in a relationship with a narcissist.  While reading through these emails, I’ve often wondered what attracted these women to men with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and led  them to stay; even at huge emotional and financial costs.  Those who were lucky enough to escape are still reeling, trying to delve through the aftermath.

The Big 3: Narcissists, Sociopaths, Psychopaths

For answers to “why?,” we are turning to this week’s guest, Sandra Brown, MA. She is an expert on psychopathic, pathological relationships – having trained under others, done research, written books, and now training other professionals and working with victims of narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths.  Ms. Brown also has extremely intimate knowledge of personality disorders and individuals with extreme psychopathy. Her family life was riddled with these types who emotionally and physically traumatized young Sandra.

We’ll be discussing the personal “red flags” we all have, why we fail to recognize them and how not to ignore yours so you don’t fall victim to one of these “often charming, successful” personalities. And if you think, “I’m too smart, clever, strong, educated to fall victim,” Ms. Brown says more than 60 million people are negatively harmed by someone else’s extreme pathological disorders. “Never before studied or traits identified, these unusually strong and normal women become prey for the drive of the pathological,” says Ms. Brown.

(You can watch our interview with Sandra Brown on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show. The show is titled “Women in Love with Psychopaths.”)

About Sandra Brown, MA:

Sandra L. Brown, M.A., CEO of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Psychopathy Education is a psychopathologist, program development specialist, lecturer, and an award-winning author. Her books include Women Who Love Psychopaths, as well as How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved, and Counseling Victims of Violence: A Handbook for Helping Professionals.

Share Your Experiences on Being in Love with a Psychopath

What is like being in a relationship or in love with a psychopath, sociopath or narcissist? Were you able to get out and at what cost? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights on the issue. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

We also did a chat interview on a similar subject: The Damage Caused by Sexual Abuse and why women who were victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence continually fall victim to these predators.

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Self-Injury: An Emotional Response

Self-Injury: An Emotional Response

Written by Christie, guest on the February 10, 2010 show on self-injury.

christie-self-injury-guestI began self-injuring at age 13, after I felt like I wasn’t understood by anyone and fell into a deep depression. Fights with my parents, having a hard time with school, and general anxiety prompted me to self-injure for the first time, because I felt like it calmed my nerves and alleviated my anger almost instantly. From there, I began using self-injury to respond to almost every emotional situation – be it sad, angry, disappointed, depressed, or general thoughts of self-loathing and body image. I felt like it numbed all of my emotional reactions and I began to depend on it.

I have been diagnosed by mental health professionals with Dysthymic Disorder (chronic depression), Social Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, Self-Injury (non-suicidal) and EDNOS (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified). I was not formally given a psychiatric evaluation until 4 years ago. (read: Common Characteristics of the Self-Injurer)

The Effects of Self-Injury

Self-injury has impacted my life in many ways. Due to self-injuring so often during my formative teen years, I never fully learned how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way, and because of that it stunted my personal growth and understanding of my own feelings, and it also affected the way I created personal relationships, because instead of dealing with the outside world I shoved it all back with self-injury and covered up anything remotely uncomfortable. I think this directly contributed to my social anxiety issues and made my underlying depression worse.

My family members and friends have had mixed reactions to my self-injury. I did not reveal my self-injury behaviors to my parents until I was 17, although they may have had their suspicions. Their reaction was guilt, thinking they could have caused it in some way. Generally, my parents do not talk about self-injury, and like to push it under the rug because if it’s not talked about or recognized, it seems like it doesn’t exist. However, they are accepting of my behaviors. My extended family only have very vague limited knowledge of self-injury and my history. My friends all are aware of it, some of them engage in self-injury behaviors as well, and the ones who don’t have known me for 10+ years and are accepting. However, acquaintances are very judgmental so, generally, no one talks about it and I hide it at social events and in public.

I have been able to drastically reduce my urges to self-injure over the past 3-4 years by learning to talk and write about my feelings. In this way, I have become more in touch with the way things make me FEEL, and it is the first time in my life I have allowed myself to experience real emotions, and even cry and let myself be upset.

YouTube has been a huge outlet for me, allowing me to talk to people who understand where I am coming from instead of heading straight for a razor every time I am upset. I am also passionate about writing, so when I get urges to self-injure, I write anything from self-injury urge logs, to blogs, journal entries, songs, poetry or work on one of my novels-in-progress.

I feel that being open to your emotions and getting to the real reasons behind your triggers is the ONLY way to deal with the urges and reduce/stop them. I do not condone or approve of cover up or replacement behaviors such as snapping a rubber band on your wrist or holding ice to your arms, etc.

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Abusers, Narcissists and How to Deal with Them – Oct. 6

Abusers, Narcissists and How to Deal with Them – Oct. 6

Abusers are predators. Many have an uncanny ability to portray themselves as caring individuals, pillars of the community. “At home, they are intimidating and suffocating monsters,” says Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited and our guest this coming Tuesday.

HealthyPlace.com is home to Sam’s extensive website on narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. On Tuesday, we’re opening a new section of his site dedicated to abuse, abusers, and abusive relationships. A second section focuses on personality disorders. The two go hand-in-hand, as many abusers have some sort of personality disorder. But it takes two to tango and, according to Sam, both the abuser and his prey usually suffer from disturbances in the regulation of their sense of self-worth.

We’ll be getting into the psychological profiles of abusers, how to spot an abuser before you get involved with him/her, and if you’re already in an abusive relationship, you’ll find out how to deal with your abuser and, specifically, the abusive narcissist.

Have a comment or story you would like to share? E-mail me at producer AT healthyplace.com. We’re here to provide the most up-to-date and trusted information on mental health.

See you at a special time Tuesday, October 6, at 10a PST, 12 noon CST, 2p EST. You can watch the show live, or later on-demand, on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show homepage. As always, our guest will be taking your questions during the live show.

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Living with Narcissism, Dealing with a Narcissist – July 28

Living with Narcissism, Dealing with a Narcissist – July 28

Narcissism: An Inflated Sense of Self

It’s always a good idea to have some self-worth. We are often reminded of the old adage “you have to love yourself before you can love someone else.” While this is true for some, there are others in this world that can do without the second part of that cliché. For them, self-love and admiration is extreme and results in problematic and unhealthy relationships.

On Tuesday’s show, we will talk about narcissism and the disorders that stem from it in its excessive form. Dr. Harry Croft, Medical Director of Healthyplace.com, will help us understand why these narcissists are so self-involved and whether or not there is treatment out there to help. Plus learn how to identify the diagnostic warning signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and how to recognize a narcissist when you see one.

Our guest, Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited and contributor to Healthyplace.com, will take us through his personal journey as a self-proclaimed narcissist and tell us how it impacted his life. He will let us in on some secrets of a true narcissist and give us the information we need to deal with one. If you would like to read more about Sam Vaknin, narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, visit his website on HealthyPlace.com.

Be sure to join us Tuesday as we examine the world of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The live show airs at a special time this week only: 10a PT, 12 noon CT, 1p ET. At Healthyplace.com, our purpose is to arm you with as much information as possible to help you tackle your mental health concerns.

If you, or someone you know is suffering with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or ha been victimized by a narcissist, feel free to write me at producer AT healthyplace.com. Sharing your story can be helpful to so many others going through the same thing.

See you Tuesday!

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Recovering From Borderline Personality Disorder Show – Recap

Recovering From Borderline Personality Disorder Show – Recap

What a great show!

Tuesday night, we visited the topic of Borderline Personality Disorder and revealed some ugly truths that come along with it. HealthyPlace Medical Director, Dr. Harry Croft, provided insight into the difficulty of diagnosing Borderline Personality Disorder and how far treatment of BPD has come along over the years.

Dr. Croft told us that BPD does not discriminate. Although the disorder commonly occurs in those who were sexually abused as children or maybe even neglected, it can also show up in those who lived in a nurturing environment.

We were lucky to have two guests, Tami Green and A.J. Mahari. Both recovered from Borderline Personality Disorder.

A.J., who was diagnosed with BPD at age 19, shared her experience of living with Borderline Personality Disorder. Her road to recovery started when she realized the common denominator in her strained or failed relationships was herself. Her unhappiness was unbearable. She soon realized there was much more to life than just being angry and feeling hurt. Today, she is 14 years into recovery and attributes her success to dedicated therapists.

Our second guest, Tami Green, has a different but victorious story. After struggling with drug abuse and a poor sense of self, she was able to stabilize with the help of a nurturing community. Unfortunately, as she got older, her Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms returned. Soon she found herself drinking alcohol and her marriage ended in divorce. Now a life coach for BPD sufferers, she says that the transformation of her sense of self was significant in her recovery. She was able to give stages to recovery that starts with tolerating stress.

After hearing both of these courageous women speak, it seems they shared a common problem. In the beginning of their recovery, their mental health providers were not able to properly treat their symptoms. Although BPD is stigmatized with notions of “untreatable” and “hopelessness,” these two women were able to overcome their symptoms and lead a normal, fulfilling life.

If you would like to learn more about A.J. Mahari, you can visit her website. Her website will lead you to her other websites, blogs, and podcasts that she is active with.

If you’re interested Tami Green’s work, you can visit Tami Green’s website. Her website is filled with her speeches as well as articles she has written on BPD.

As always, Tuesday’s night show can be viewed on the HealthyPlace TV Show homepage. Just click “on-demand” button on the TV show player and you will be on your way to finding out how this information can help you with your recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder.

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Can Borderline Personality Disorder Be Treated Effectively? June 9

Can Borderline Personality Disorder Be Treated Effectively? June 9

Sometimes in life, we encounter many situations that leave us empty or broken, causing us to feel like we have failed. For some, it’s easy to pick up the pieces and move on; but others are not so lucky. Feelings of self-doubt, emptiness and sorrow consume some people leaving them with nowhere to turn.

Do these symptoms describe you? If you feel like you have experienced any of these feelings, please watch the HealthyPlace TV show live on our website this Tuesday night as we discuss Borderline Personality Disorder and the possibility of treatment.

On the show, we will talk to A.J. Mahari, who was formally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder at the age of 19. Now at age 51, she is 14 years into recovery and helps others with their own struggles dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder by writing articles and becoming a life coach. You won’t want to miss her compelling story as she takes us through her full circle encounters with BPD.

As always, we invite you, the viewer, to ask A.J. any questions that might help you better understand what you or a loved one is going through. Our Medical Director, Dr. Harry Croft will also be on hand to answer questions on BPD (read Dr. Croft’s blog on Borderline Personality Disorder: Symptoms to Treatment) or any mental health concerns you are experiencing. If you would like to submit your questions prior to the show, e-mail me at producer@healthyplace.com.

HealthyPlace.com is committed to keeping you informed on mental health disorders by providing trusted information. Feel free to check out our section on treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder to answer any questions you have before the show. Be sure to join us this Tuesday at 7:30 CST, 8;30 ET as we uncover ways you can beat this disorder and help get back your life back on track.

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