Confidence in the workplace can be a challenge for many people. Thinking and feeling insecure about your performance, job security, picking up on others’ anxiety about work, or even interactions with co-workers can send many people into a negative mindset about themselves. Insecurity at work doesn’t just affect you at the office, it can take over your entire life. Keep reading »

Tim has announced that when he turns 21 next summer he wants to move out. I can’t begin to explain all the ways that frightens me. Except for this past February when he knew he needed a few days inpatient, Tim has been stable for just over a year. I never, ever thought we would get to this place. He even spent two straight weeks alone with my parents in July, helping them with chores around the house and playing miniature golf. He hasn’t been able to do that since he was nine. Moving out means Tim will have to be responsible for all the things he doesn’t realize he relies on us for, and for all the things he is responsible for now, but I remind him about almost daily. We can teach him these things, yes. But what we can’t teach him scares me more, namely, how to keep him safe out in a world that may automatically assume he’s dangerous, and may be dangerous to him because he trusts too much. Keep reading »

About five years ago, my friend Tuck married a woman with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Prior to the wedding Jane (not her real name) worked on her recovery just enough to stop her nightmares and flashbacks. With those big problems eliminated, Jane decided she didn’t want to continue with PTSD recovery work even though significant issues still remained. Tuck, wanting to respect Jane’s decision, didn’t press the matter. Instead, he set up a lifestyle that expected, accepted and supported Jane’s symptoms. Keep reading »

To have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is to worry — a lot. While true, this is an oversimplification. “Worry” doesn’t really begin to describe what happens in GAD. Everyone worries; it’s part of being human. It’s a given that people will worry about their grade on a test, for example, worry about their job security when downsizing is taking place, or worry about their child’s safety when he or she is away. But in GAD, the worry becomes all-consuming and typically isn’t limited to a single situation. Rather than having worries in one’s life, for someone with GAD, life itself is a constant worry. Keep reading »

Recently I found myself feeling depressed. As is usually the case, there were different triggers involved. Some were hormonal as I was pre-menstrual. Others were personal as my parents are in the process of splitting up and it’s been an emotional time for all involved. Like so many, I was also surprised and hit hard by the suicide of Robin Williams. Add in my wonky brain chemistry, and I was off to the depression races.

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Schizophrenia is an illness that causes intense pain and distress for its victims. In our suffering, we can seek solace and relief in ways that can worsen our symptoms. Some of us will turn towards drugs and alcohol in a desperate attempt to dull our pain. I, myself, was one of those individuals. Initially, I used alcohol as a way to cope with the pain that I experienced due to my schizophrenia symptoms. This temporary relief came at a great cost, however. Inevitably my illness worsened and my path towards recovery became more difficult. Keep reading »

Images of impossibly thin women with micro-waistlines and not a pucker of cellulite swamp the media. Luckily, we’re getting better at spotting the fakes. Thanks to widespread awareness campaigns, we know that, because of Photoshop’s “enhancing effects,” the models we see on posters and in magazines whose physiques seem too good to be true are just that—not true.

But if we are more aware of magazine myths and are getting behind positive body image campaigns like Dove’s, why does the “thin ideal” still reign? Keep reading »

The past week has been quite an emotional one for many, especially many in the mental health community. The death of beloved actor Robin Williams by suicide on August 11, has shaken our community to the core.

Why? What is it about Williams and his manner of death that touched so many of us? Many of us understand depression. We get being suicidal. We understand what it’s like when our kids or grandkids ask us to play and we must say, “No, I’m sorry honey. I just don’t feel up to it right now.”

That terrible mix of guilt and fear, blended with the self-loathing because we feel like we have no energy, yet refuse to stop beating ourselves up over the very depression that is making us feel that way.

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One of my therapists used to tell me, often, that life is about participation, a “contact sport,” as she liked to put it. She said that people who know how to live skillfully had usually learned good social and emotional skills from their parents, including how to fit in and participate with other people.

My parents must have skipped that particular chapter in their copy of Parenting 101. Most of the constructive skills I’ve learned, I learned as an adult. The good news is, even anxious people can learn new ways of participating in the world. It only takes two things: the belief that things can change, and the willingness to practice. Keep reading »

Over the past few months, I have been experiencing more anxiety and panic attacks than I have been used to. Many people take anxiety medication to control anxiety and I am no exception. Before I was medicated, the anxiety was unbearable and uncontrollable. Many years ago, I worked with my doctor to gain as much control over anxiety as possible.

Prescribing medicine, whether for physical or mental illness, is not an exact science. The medicine that provides relief for one person may not provide relief for another. Even when two people are on the same medication, they may be on different doses or need to take them at different times of the day.

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