The cycle of violence and abuse typically consists of three phases: tension-building, abuse, and honeymoon. The first two phases describe themselves and the honeymoon phase occurs after the abuse and gives the abuser a chance to beg the victim’s forgiveness or otherwise convince the victim to stay. Over time, the tension-building and honeymoon phases tends to shorten or disappear, leaving us to wonder why abusive relationships can last so long. This routine makes staying in an abusive relationship manageable; both victim and abuser come to accept this routine as normal. Keep reading »

The most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published in 2013, changed the criteria for evaluating substance abuse problems and problems involving compulsive behavior, such as gambling. The DSM-5 includes the word “addiction” for the first time, in reference to pathological gambling, which the manual lists as a “behavioral addiction.” Keep reading »

Sometimes it is hard to just sit and think about the present. We are followed by past memories and are always jumping forward before we even have time to take a breath in the present. It is important to look to the future and learn from past mistakes and triumphs. However, it is also important to absorb the world you are surrounded by now.

In this anxiety-ridden world, we are constantly thinking ahead and worrying about those plans. If we think too far into the future, we stop figuring out the journey towards that future and miss that part of life’s adventure. For those with mental illness, this idea can cause chaos inside your brain. Your mind becomes overwhelmed with plans, thoughts and worries and, sometimes, you feel the need to take those stressors out on yourself with self-harm like picking, cutting or banging your head. Keep reading »

“No” can be a complete sentence. Many people have a hard time putting themselves first and feel uncomfortable flexing their assertiveness muscle, which is a key component to building self-esteem. When you take on too much, give in to demands of others, or just feel like you don’t want to do something, saying “no” is important. It’s an act of self-respect.  Keep reading »

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best. ~ Epictetus

Motivation

What causes you to take action? Do you have goals, whether it’s getting up early or exercising daily? Do you find yourself thinking negative thoughts? Are you doing what brings you joy and happiness?

Motivation is the it I’m referring to. Motivation is simply your eagerness or desire to do something. Honestly, some days I don’t feel like springing out of bed to seize the day. Some days, I’m not fired up to take the hill of goals I or someone else set for me. Nor am I always inspired to take part in the political Merengue that permeates corporate culture. Though, on the other hand, I am not interested in lounging around the house or willing to spend the day as the song lyrics of Otis Redding goes: Keep reading »

After trauma, there’s a need for life to feel safe and in control. Sometimes, we put in place really good and healthy habits that help the transition from trauma to life afterward. Other times, it’s easy to slip into habits, cycles and patterns that are very destructive. For example, co-dependence. When you put this type of behavior together with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) you can increase the time it takes to heal tenfold.

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Assertiveness doesn’t come easily to many people, myself included. Sometimes, the mere thought of having to express myself or make some need or another known is enough to kick anxiety into high gear. When engaged in a situation where it’s necessary to assert yourself—from speaking up to a supervisor about something you think isn’t quite right to informing a friend that you hate the restaurant she chooses every time you have lunch together, and a million other situations—anxiety can stop you in your tracks. Indeed, it’s difficult to be assertive when we’re nauseous, dizzy, sweaty, and unable to breathe properly let alone think clearly or concentrate. Happily, we’re not doomed to a life of passivity. Keep reading »

I recently finished reading How To Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide For The Chronically Ill And Their Caregivers. The book was written by Toni Bernhard, a once very active attorney and law professor, who in the midst of a full life, was randomly struck down by a mysterious, debilitating illness that keeps her primarily contained to her home. For any of us dealing with the uncertainties of depression as well as the uncertainties of life in general, Bernhard’s insights are a welcome respite.

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Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is the root of many debates ranging from whether it really exists to how to treat it — if at all. Current public perceptions indicate that ADHD is over-medicated and over-diagnosed, and despite several studies that find the opposite of these beliefs, many people still hold onto these ideas.

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I’ve got generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and I’ve also got some serious issues with concentration. As in, my ability to concentrate on almost anything for more than five minutes at a time stinks. There are some days when I can barely string two coherent thoughts together, and I swear my brain is turning into mush.

While it’s true that a lot of peripheral detail goes by the wayside, I have a core self that functions reasonably well in the world despite the stress of managing anxiety. Maybe I’m also just getting more comfortable with being a middle-aged slob. I don’t know. But I consider myself lucky that I function as well as I do. I know lots of others aren’t so lucky. Keep reading »