A Couple’s Guide to Coping with Infertility

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If you and your partner have been trying to get pregnant for a year or longer but haven’t yet conceived, it’s possible you are facing fertility issues. You might already have started talking with your doctor about these challenges and your options for getting pregnant.

Most likely, your doctor is monitoring all aspects of your physical health. But it’s important to take care of your emotional well-being too. People who want to have a child but struggle to get pregnant may face a range of emotions, including anger, frustration, grief, and shame. If these emotions aren’t dealt with productively, they can fester and contribute to pain, resentment, or mental health issues such as depression.

Infertility not only affects you and your partner individually, but also your relationship. Here, we’ll discuss problems you may face as a couple if you’re dealing with infertility and ways you can address them. When difficulties are managed in healthy ways, you’re more likely to grow stronger as partners than grow apart.

Social Stigma Around Infertility

Discovering how common infertility is surprises many people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12% of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 have trouble getting pregnant or struggle to carry pregnancies to term when they do conceive.

Once a couple marries, it’s often assumed they’ll begin trying to have a child. Certainly, this assumption is flawed in more ways than one, but one main issue is the stigma that often results. Your parents and friends might ask prying questions. Social situations may become uncomfortable if your friends don’t seem to understand what you’re going through. People may avoid inviting you to events like birthday parties or baby showers. Even if they do so out of good intentions, you may still end up feeling excluded.

It’s important to experience your feelings as they come, but it’s also important to avoid blaming yourself or your partner. Blame, self-directed or otherwise, can trap you in a painful cycle that leads to more distress.In the past, women took much of the blame for infertility. While it’s known today that infertility can result from male or female factors, women may still struggle with feelings of failure or shame. Men may deal with similar pain but find it harder to talk about. In society as a whole, there can be a general feeling that couples without children are somehow incomplete, a judgment that can make the distress of infertility even more painful.

In recent years, many celebrity couples have shared their experiences with infertility, including Michelle and Barack Obama. Maybe you’ve talked about your infertility with a loved one and felt empowered and supported by their reaction.

Infertility issues often feel like a private struggle. But reducing the stigma could help more people feel comfortable talking about their own difficulties becoming pregnant. People who don’t feel ready to open up may still draw support from knowing they aren’t alone. No matter which factors contributed to infertility, neither you nor your partner should feel shame.

Avoiding Blame and Shame

Letting yourself experience grief is an important part of coping with infertility. Even if you’re pursuing fertility treatments, facing the reality that becoming pregnant may not be possible can have a heavy emotional impact. Grief and sadness may be your first reaction.

Sometimes the cause of infertility can’t be determined. But finding out infertility issues stem from you can lead to decreased self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. If your partner is the one who is infertile, you may might feel frustrated. You may struggle to keep from blurting out that it’s their fault, not yours.

It’s important to experience your feelings as they come, but it’s also important to avoid blaming yourself or your partner. Blame, self-directed or otherwise, can trap you in a painful cycle that leads to more distress.

Counselors who work with couples dealing with infertility recommend talking to your partner about how you feel, openly and honestly. This might be difficult when you’re angry, but remember: You and your partner are a team, and communication is essential in a good team. Even if you’re angry, hurt, or ashamed, it’s usually better to talk about your emotions calmly, rather than waiting until they burst out during an argument or stressful moment. You may decide not to share your struggles with family and friends, but commit to being honest with each other.

Choosing Other Fertility Options

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) helps many couples treat fertility issues. When considering your options, it’s important for you and your partner to agree on how long you’ll pursue treatment, how much money you can spend, and what treatments you’ll try.

Have an honest discussion with your partner about treatments you’re uncomfortable with before planning on any procedures.Your insurance may not cover all (or any) of the cost of fertility treatments. Beginning treatment with a financial limit can help you avoid putting yourself in financial difficulty by continuing indefinitely.

It’s also helpful to decide on a length of time you’ll try treatment for. ART can give you hope, but treatments don’t always work right away. Sometimes they don’t work at all. The uncertainty and stress associated with treatment can have a negative effect on your relationship. Though you may feel renewed grief if you approach the end of the time period and still haven’t conceived, having a limit in place can help relieve some of the uncertainty and emotional distress.

Depending on your specific fertility issue, a range of treatments may be available. Options include medication, in vitro fertilization, and intrauterine (also called artificial) insemination. You might also choose to use donor eggs or sperm or have a surrogate carry a fertilized egg to term.

Some of these options may not work for you due to religious, ethical, or personal beliefs. For example, some people consider freezing embryos to be unethical. Have an honest discussion with your partner about treatments you’re uncomfortable with before planning on any procedures.

Addressing Infertility in Couples Counseling

Though it’s possible to maintain a strong, committed partnership while navigating infertility issues, taking preventative steps can help keep your relationship healthy. Research suggests infertility is a highly stressful and upsetting experience, and any type of stress can affect a relationship negatively. Couples therapists recommend seeking help early on instead of waiting until the crisis you’re facing starts to significantly affect your relationship.

A 2017 study found evidence to suggest couples with compatible coping methods had better communication and were more likely to develop a stronger relationship despite infertility. In other words, it is often better to deal with the issue as a team, even when your instinct may be to deal with your pain alone. Therapy can help you and your partner develop strong coping strategies and quit maladaptive behaviors such as avoidance.

Therapy also provides a safe space for you to talk about your feelings regarding infertility and mental health symptoms you’re experiencing. (Talking about these in individual therapy may also be recommended). Your therapist can support you and your partner through finding helpful ways to cope, relate, and connect during infertility challenges.

If you aren’t already working with a couples therapist, it can help to begin seeing one, even if fertility issues aren’t affecting your relationship at the moment. Some couples therapists may even have specialized training in infertility counseling. You can begin your search for a couples counselor in GoodTherapy’s directory.

References:

  1. Fertility treatments. (n.d.). Planned Parenthood. Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/pregnancy/fertility-treatments
  2. Glenn, L. M. (2002). Loss of frozen embryos. AMA Journal of Ethics. Retrieved from https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/loss-frozen-embryos/2002-12
  3. Infertility FAQs. (2019, January 16). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/index.htm
  4. Infertility. (2018, March 8). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20354317
  5. Itkowitz, C. (2018, November 9). Michelle Obama is one of millions who struggled with infertility. Here’s why her broken silence could matter. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/11/09/michelle-obama-is-one-millions-who-silently-struggled-with-infertility-heres-why-her-broken-silence-could-matter/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8d2645a61c30
  6. Pasch, L. A., & Sullivan, K. T. (2017). Stress and coping in couples facing infertility. Current Opinion in Psychology, 13, 131-135. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352250X16300902
  7. The psychological impact of infertility and its treatment. (2009). Harvard Mental Health Letter. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/The-psychological-impact-of-infertility-and-its-treatment
  8. Volmer, L., Rösner, S., Toth, B., Strowitzki, T., & Wischmann, T. (2017). Infertile partners’ coping strategies are interrelated – implications for targeted psychological counseling. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd, 77(1), 52-58. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5283173

© Copyright 2019 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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5 Myths and Facts About Drug Rehab

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Drug abuse is a serious health concern. Overdose-related deaths in the United States have reached epidemic level. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate an average of 130 people die from opioid overdose each day. This number doesn’t take into account deaths related to other drugs, which may increase this number.

Any drug use can become dangerous. Marijuana, now legal for medicinal and recreational use in many states, may help relieve pain, chemotherapy side effects, and symptoms of mental health concerns such as anxiety and posttraumatic stress. Research has also suggested marijuana may help treat addiction in some people. But despite these potential benefits, it can become addictive and could have health effects such as short-term memory impairment, impaired brain function, and respiratory health issues, among others.

Recreational use of illegal substances, even short-term use, can have serious health effects, including anxiety, paranoia, depression, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, nausea, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and more. There’s also a risk of death due to overdose or complications. Long-term use of certain drugs could increase risk of violent behavior and may lead to legal trouble. Abusing drugs can also lead to drug dependency, or addiction.

Rehab can help people who’ve reached their absolute low work to overcome addiction, but it can also help people begin to break free of addiction before it significantly impacts their lives.

If you’re experiencing addiction, you’re not alone. According to statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 20 million Americans experienced a substance abuse disorder in 2014. Addiction can be difficult to overcome, no matter how hard a person tries. Professional support, in the form of inpatient or outpatient drug rehab, can benefit many people living with drug addiction.

Myths about drug rehab are plentiful. If you’re considering rehab for yourself or a loved one, making sure you have all the facts will help you make a more informed decision. Here, we present five common myths about drug rehab and the facts to counter them.

Drug Rehab Myths and Facts

Myth: Only wealthy people go to rehab.
Fact: Anyone can go to rehab.

It’s true that drug rehab can become expensive. Some people may not even consider inpatient rehab an option, believing it to be out of their budget. But the cost of drug rehab can depend on a number of factors, and there are rehab options for a range of budgets. See our article here for a more detailed explanation of rehab costs.

Some drug rehab centers offer low-cost or sliding-scale fees, based on your income. According to the 2012 National Survey of Substance Abuse, 62% of rehab facilities charge based on a sliding scale. Facilities may also offer payment programs or other types of financial assistance to people in need. Many drug rehab centers accept insurance, though not all insurance providers cover rehab.

When considering rehab, talk to your insurance provider and the rehab facility you’re interested in to get a better idea of the cost involved. Some centers may be able to work with you or refer you to another quality center that is more affordable. If the cost of inpatient rehab is a barrier, you might also consider outpatient drug rehab programs.

Myth: Rehab is for when you hit “rock bottom.”
Fact: You can begin recovering from addiction at any time.

Many people go to rehab when no other treatment option has worked. Often, they’ve lived with addiction for many years. Rehab can help people who’ve reached their absolute low work to overcome addiction, but it can also help people begin to break free of addiction before it significantly impacts their lives. Research suggests early intervention helps improve treatment outcomes.

Addiction not only contributes to emotional and physical health concerns, it can also lead to homelessness, unemployment, debt, and breakup or divorce. Choosing to enter rehab when you first find yourself becoming dependent on substances can help you begin the recovery process before addiction can have more of an effect on your life.

Myth: Rehab is only for people who can’t quit on their own.
Fact: Anyone experiencing addiction can get help in rehab.

The idea that addiction only happens to weak or flawed people is widespread. It might seem logical: Many people experiment with drugs, but not everyone becomes addicted. But drug abuse alters brain chemistry and affects cognitive function, leading to cravings for the substance and eventually addiction. Certain factors, including genetics, can increase a person’s risk for addiction.

Although a person might choose to try drugs, they don’t choose to become addicted. Once addicted, many people can’t stop using drugs without professional help. Needing rehab isn’t a sign of weakness. Changes in the brain resulting from addiction can make it extremely challenging, if not impossible, to stop using drugs without the support of health care providers trained in addiction support.

Whether you’ve tried to stop using drugs and relapsed or are just beginning to realize you may have a problem with substance abuse, rehab can help you begin recovery.

Myth: Rehab will prevent a person from relapsing.
Fact: Relapse is common, but treatment can help reduce its impact.

Between 40 and 60% of people dealing with addiction will relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. While rehab may help reduce your risk of relapse, completing a drug rehab program doesn’t guarantee you’ll never relapse.

But rehab still has benefit. Research shows rehab can help by helping you develop skills to resist cravings, making relapse less likely. If you do relapse, the length of the relapse may be shorter. People who participate in treatment programs such as rehab also tend to relapse fewer times than people who don’t. Rehab can also lead to improvements in your relationships with friends, family, and loved ones. Developing stronger bonds with people you care for can also decrease the likelihood of relapse.

Myth: Rehab doesn’t work if you force someone to go.
Fact: Rehab can work even if you don’t want treatment.

Some people choose to enter rehab on their own, but some people experiencing addiction may not see its effects on their life, or they may not believe they have a problem with substance abuse. They may only decide to enter rehab grudgingly, after a court order or intervention from loved ones.

Being issued an ultimatum or feeling otherwise “forced” into rehab could make some people resistant to treatment, at first. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, however, people who feel pressured to overcome addiction in order to maintain an important relationship or avoid criminal charges, for example, often do better in treatment, even though they didn’t choose to enter rehab on their own.

Substance abuse and addiction can have serious, lifelong consequences. But there is help. Drug rehab may seem like an extreme measure, but this is partially due to the many myths surrounding rehab treatment.

Numerous studies support the benefits of rehab for addiction recovery. Inpatient centers provide a safe place to begin the detox and recovery process at any stage of addiction. Some facilities are expensive, but it’s possible to find affordable centers that will work with you to find a treatment program that’s right for your needs and your budget.

Don’t let myths about drug rehab keep you from getting addiction recovery support. Compassionate care is available! Begin your search today at GoodTherapy. Recovery may be a lifelong journey, but you are not alone.

References:

  1. American Addiction Centers. (2019, February 14). How much does rehab cost? Retrieved from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcohol-rehab/cost
  2. American Addiction Centers. (2018, October 15). Rehab success rates and statistics. Retrieved from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/success-rates-and-statistics
  3. Blending perspectives and building common ground. Myths and facts about addiction treatment. (1999, April 1). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://aspe.hhs.gov/report/blending-perspectives-and-building-common-ground/myths-and-facts-about-addiction-and-treatment
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, December 19). Understanding the epidemic. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html
  5. Leshner, A. I. (n.d.). Exploring myths about drug abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from https://archives.drugabuse.gov/exploring-myths-about-drug-abuse
  6. Mayo Clinic. (2017, July 20). Intervention: Help a loved one overcome addiction. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/art-20047451
  7. Mayo Clinic. (2017, October 26). Drug addiction (substance use disorder). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/syc-20365112
  8. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: The current state of evidence and recommendations for research. Retrieved from http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/reports/2017/health-effects-of-cannabis-and-cannabinoids.aspx
  9. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Drugs, brains, and behavior: The science of addiction. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery
  10. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Is marijuana addictive? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive
  11. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Behavioral health trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 national survey on drug use and health. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf
  12. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Early intervention, treatment, and management of substance use disorders. In Facing addiction in America: The surgeon general’s report on alcohol, drugs, and health [Internet]. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424859
  13. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019, January 30). Mental health and substance use disorders. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disorders
  14. Walsh, Z., Gonzalez, R., Crosby, K., Thiessena, M. S., Carrolla, C., & Bonn-Miller, M. O. (2017). Medical cannabis and mental health: A guided systematic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 51, 15-29. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272735816300939?via%3Dihub
  15. Weber, L. (2015, July 11). How much does inpatient rehab cost? Retrieved from https://addictionblog.org/rehab/inpatient-rehab/how-much-does-inpatient-rehab-cost

© Copyright 2019 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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How Writers Write About Heartbreaking Things and Care for Themselves in the Process

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

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For more than 20 years, Mary Cregan wanted to write her recently published memoir The Scar: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery, but she felt that she couldn’t. It’s primarily because she wasn’t ready to face the exposure required to be so honest about such a devastating, difficult part of her life.

Because that’s the thing about writing: We let readers into our innermost thoughts and feelings, into our souls, and that can be scary.

We tackle topics we’d never bring up with a close friend, let alone a stranger, and yet that’s exactly what we do. We share our stories with thousands of strangers.

Writing about heartbreaking things and publishing that work makes the private very, very public, a process that we, of course, can’t reverse. This is especially difficult if you were taught to keep your stories to yourself, behind closed doors. As Cregan writes in The Scar, “In my large Irish Catholic family, the tacit understanding was that it was best not to draw attention to oneself.”

Nita Sweeney thought she was writing a memoir about running, but after many, many drafts realized that she was writing a memoir about how running saved her life—from depression, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and alcoholism.

“The fact that I’d gone from a woman who could barely walk around the block into a marathoner was important, but the real story was that I’d gone from a woman who wanted to kill herself into one who wants to live,” said Sweeney, whose forthcoming memoir Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink will be published mid May.

Mental health advocate and writer Hannah Blum regularly writes about her experiences living with bipolar disorder on her blog “I’m Bipolar Too” and her website Halfway2Hannah.com. While there are many parts of her story she’s not ready to share, writing about difficult things actually isn’t that difficult for her.

“Turning my pain into art gives power to any of the challenges I have faced throughout my life.”

“It’s when I am writing about the people I have met along my journey who were not given a chance because of their mental illness that I struggle to write about the most,” Blum said.

Author, mental health advocate, and Psych Central editor Therese Borchard has been writing online about her experiences with mental illness for many years (and before that she shared her story in her print column). But that doesn’t make sharing any easier.

“It’s extremely difficult to share the more personal posts. My index finger hovers over the publish button sometimes for an hour before I have the courage to press it,” Borchard said.

Why Write About Such Hard Things?

When a friend asked Cregan why on earth she’d want to revisit the worst days of her life—the death of her infant daughter, and her descent into a deep, unrelenting, suicidal depression—Cregan realized that it was because she’d spent decades trying to conceal that time. “…I wanted to turn to the past and face it squarely,” she writes in her memoir.

Cregan also wrote her story as a way to reject the stigma and shame surrounding mental illness. She wrote it for her younger self, and for the young women in her family who, too, live with depression.

“It is also for the countless people who find themselves struggling to cope with internal forces that feel overwhelming but—as I try to show in these pages—are survivable,” she writes.

She writes at the end of her book: “Most importantly, I want to encourage people in the depths of hopelessness to believe that they can come through, and to find help from a compassionate, responsible professional who will care for them until they do. People in the grip of severe depression might take as their mantra a line from Rilke so relevant to all kinds of human trouble that it has become an Internet meme: ‘Just keep going. No feeling is final.’”

Sometimes after publishing a vulnerable post, Borchard feels like she’s “walking around naked,” and wonders if it’s really worth it. “However, then I will get an email or comment from a reader who tells me she feels less alone because I shared it, and it makes it worth it.”

Blum, too, is propelled by the people who read her work, along with the mental health community in general. “Knowing that I may help someone not feel so alone or encourage them to accept themselves is a gift to me. Relating to people emotionally through words inspires me every day to write.”

For Borchard, writing about the more challenging parts of her recovery helps her in another powerful way, as well: “I get to recognize the voice within me that doesn’t necessarily come out in casual conversation with friends or even in therapy. There is something about writing about your experience that clarifies it…”

Self-Care During the Writing (and Publishing) Process

After Borchard pens a difficult piece, she’ll often walk in the woods or over to the creek by her house. This is when she processes what she’s written—and tells “myself that should I get scathing responses, it doesn’t detract from my truth—that I am a good person who speaks from the heart, even if that truth isn’t received well.”

Blum finds it helpful to sit with her thoughts, and journal what she feels. She also reads books by Hemingway along with pieces from modern-day poets, such as April Green, Lang Leav, and JM Storm.

For Cregan, when the writing became especially difficult, self-care looked like refocusing her attention toward researching or writing less personal sections of her book. On the days it felt unbearable, she’d schedule several sessions with her psychiatrist.

She also found it helpful to “change the channel” in her mind, something she still does today when she’s getting depressed. “I read or watch a movie or see a friend—anything, really, to get my mind out of the track it’s stuck in.”

Exercise is equally critical for Cregan’s well-being, which she does regularly, whether it’s indoor cycling or yoga.

For Sweeney, self-care while writing includes: hugging her husband, cuddling her dog, running, spending time with a supportive community, meditating, taking medication, going to therapy, not drinking, and calling her sister.

Because Sweeney writes regularly, the actual process isn’t so difficult (more on that below). But the after is.

“My mindfulness meditation practice helps with the aftermath, the ‘post-writing’ emotional hangover…During the time I’ve allotted for this practice, the huge rock in the pit of my stomach or the noose tightening around my neck becomes the object on which I focus. Awareness and a non-judgmental attitude transform these unpleasant sensations into something more neutral. It might sound like hocus pocus, but it’s quite intensely practical and for me, effective.”

And sometimes, Sweeney said, she needs a good “scream-cry.” “I do my best to experience heaving chest, stinging tears, and howling, with awareness and equanimity. If I find myself judging any of this, that becomes the object of meditation.”

The Power of a Regular Writing Practice

Sweeney also has developed a consistent, strong writing practice. Thanks to studying with Natalie Goldberg, she’s learned to “shut up and write,” and “go for the jugular.”

“Following [Goldberg’s] suggestion, I’ve spent years, no, decades, pushing my pen or pounding keys into painful and unpleasant memories. Hours reading aloud to small groups of people then listening to others who are also sharing their difficult situations by reading aloud, developed my spine.”

Plus, Sweeney has participated in National Novel Writing Month every year for a decade, writing or revising nonfiction. “Producing 1667 words a day during the 30 days of November, trained me to write on a regular schedule the rest of the year.”

Because she’s always writing, nearly every day since 1994, she doesn’t think about it. “It’s just what I do. If I thought about it too much, I’d never do it.”

Borchard views writing from the heart as “just another way of living sincerely, or with integrity.”

“It’s not for everyone, but I’ve found that the more transparent I can be in my life, the more I create opportunities to bond with readers and others on their journey. You are like a travel guide of sorts. So it’s also a privilege and one I take seriously.”

How Writers Write About Heartbreaking Things and Care for Themselves in the Process

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6 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Recovery from Depression and Anxiety

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Recovering from depression and anxiety call for the same kind of shrewdness and amount of perspiration as does running a 4,000-person company. I say that having never done the latter. But hear out my logic: great leaders must master impeccable governing skills, develop the discipline of a triathlete, and build enough stamina to manage multiple personalities. And so does anyone wanting to get outside of her head and live a little.

So I think it’s fitting to translate the insight of a book about business success, The Wisdom of Failure: How to Learn the Tough Leadership Lessons Without Paying the Price by Laurence Weinzimmer and Jim McConoughey, to victory over a mood disorder, or even mild but annoying anxiety and depression.

Weinzimmer and McConoughey describe their “taxonomy of leadership mistakes,” or nine common ways an executive falls flat on his face and is made fun of by his peers. The business world is replete with calculated risks. It’s a chess game, and a few too many wrong moves will have you packing up your stuff from the corner office.

As I read through them, I kept thinking about my main job — managing my depression as best I can — and the pitfalls that I so often run into. Many are the same listed in this book. Here are six mistakes business leaders make that are appropriate for our purposes:

Mistake one: Trying to be all things to all people.

The “just say no” problem that I have all the time. If you think of requests from friends, families, bosses, co-workers, and golden retrievers as customers asking you for all kinds of products that you can’t simultaneously produce, then you see the logic in your having to draw the line at some point. You must hang on to your resources to stay well.

Mistake two: Roaming outside the box.

Clarification: thinking outside the box is good. Hanging out there, strolling around in pursuit of some meaning that you keep finding in everything that passes by — that’s dangerous. When it comes to recovery, this is very important to remember. I like to try new things: yoga, new fish oil supplements, a new light lamp, different support groups.

What gets me in trouble is when I start to think that I don’t have bipolar disorder and can go off all meds, healing myself through meditation alone. I tried that once and landed in the hospital twice. Now I double check to make sure the box is still in my peripheral vision.

Mistake three: Efficiencies before effectiveness.

This has to do with seeing the forest behind the trees, and subscribing to a policy of making decisions based on the view of the forest, not the trees that are blocking everything from your sight. The authors cite the example of Circuit City’s CEO who cut 3,400 sales people to decrease costs despite the fact that their research said that customers want knowledgeable sales people to help them make decisions when buying electronics. His approach was efficient, but not all that effective.

When you are desperate to feel better, it’s so easy to reach for the Band-Aid — booze, cigarettes, toxic relationships — that might do an efficient job of killing the pain. Effective in the longterm? Not so much.

Mistake four: Dysfunctional harmony.

Like me! Like me! Please like me! Dysfunctional harmony involves abandoning your needs to please others, which jeopardizes your recovery efforts.

“Being an effective leader [or person in charge of one’s health] means that sometimes you will not make the most popular decisions,” the authors explain. “By doing what is necessary, you will sometimes make some people angry. That’s okay. It’s part of the job. If you are in a leadership role and you try to be liked by everyone all of the time, you will inevitably create drama and undercut your own authority and effectiveness.”

So think of yourself as the CEO of you and start making some authoritative decisions that are in the best interest of You, Inc.

Mistake five: Hoarding

I’m not talking about your sister’s stash of peanuts and Q-Tips. This is about hoarding responsibility. For those of us trying like hell to live a good and happy life, this means giving over the reins now and then to other people, persons, and things that can help us: doctors, husbands, sisters, even pets. It means relying on the people in your life who say they love you and letting them do the small things so that you can try your best to be the best boss of yourself again.

Mistake six: Disengagement

Burnout. It happens in all recovery. I have yet to meet someone who can continue a regiment of daily meditation, boot camp, and spinach and cucumber smoothies for more than three months without calling uncle and reaching for the pepperoni pizza. That’s why it is so critical to pace yourself in your recovery. What’s a realistic number of times to exercise during the week? Are you really going to do that at 4:30 am? Why not allow yourself one day of hotdogs and ice-cream in order to not throw out the whole healthy living initiative at once?

Imagine yourself a great leader of your mind, body, and spirit — managing a staff of personalities inside yourself that need direction. Take it from these two corporate leaders, and don’t make the same mistakes.

6 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Recovery from Depression and Anxiety

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Challenges for Moms Who Have OCD

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

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I have written before about the challenges children face, and the lessons they can learn, when one of their parents is dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder. In this post I’d like to focus more on moms who have OCD, and the difficulties they might deal with. I won’t be focusing on postpartum OCD, but rather on moms who have already been diagnosed with the disorder and have been living with it for a while.

Some of the most common types of obsessions in OCD involve various aspects of contamination such as fear of dirt, germs, or illness. The person with OCD might fear the worst for themselves, their loved ones, or even strangers. If you’re a mother (and even if you’re not) you likely know that dirt, germs and illness are an inevitable part of childhood. How can a mom with OCD possibly take her four-year-old child into a public restroom?

Surprisingly, most can and do. Over the years I have connected with moms who have OCD who do what they need to do, despite their fears. By caring for their children, they are actually engaging in the gold-standard psychological treatment for OCD — exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy.

And because ERP therapy works, these moms find that the more they bring their children into those restrooms, or allow them to play at the playground without trailing behind them with sanitizing wipes, or agree to let them spend time at a friend’s house, the less their OCD rears its ugly head. In short, they habituate, or get used to, being in these situations and accepting the uncertainty of what might happen.

Another comment I hear often from moms with OCD is that because caring for a child (or perhaps multiple children, and even a family pet) is time-consuming and never-ending, they are so busy that they don’t have time to worry about all the things OCD thinks they should worry about. If your baby has a dirty diaper, the dog is barking to go out, your toddler just found the finger paints, and you need to get to the grocery store, you don’t have time to fret over your fear of contamination. You just change the diaper, tend to the dog, quickly wipe your toddler’s hands, and get out the door. OCD might be protesting in the background, but you have no time for its silly demands. Again, great ERP therapy!

Of course, it doesn’t work this way for all moms, and for some OCD is in control. To these moms, I say, first and foremost, please get help from a mental health professional so you can learn to quell your OCD until it is nothing more than background noise as you care for your children. The truth is, if your obsessive-compulsive disorder remains untreated, it will affect your the well-being of your children. Their world will be limited, they will pick up on your anxiety, and they might even mimic your behaviors.

For moms who are struggling with OCD, please resolve to put your children before your OCD. Learn how to spend quality time enjoying them, not ruminating over all the things that might go wrong in a given moment.

The irony is that OCD wants you to believe that giving in to its demands is keeping your children safe, when in reality, your behaviors are likely hurting them. Modeling healthy behavior and how to deal with life’s challenges might be the best gift you ever give your children.

Finally, being a mom with OCD can feel extremely isolating. But you are not alone. Join support groups (online and in-person), talk to an OCD therapist, and accept the love and support of family and friends (but no enabling!). You and your children deserve lives not compromised by OCD.

Challenges for Moms Who Have OCD

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Surviving a Relationship Injury: Forgive But Don’t Forget

This is an interesting article I found on: www.goodtherapy.org

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In attachment-based counseling, we talk a lot about relationship and attachment injuries. Those of us who practice emotionally-focused therapies have our own lingo that the layperson may not clearly understand. For us, it’s second nature to discuss attachment issues, trauma, interactions, and perceptions, but what does that mean in terms of a client and their partner? How can the couple sitting in my office in tears relate that to how they’re feeling in the midst of their crisis?

It has occurred to me that I could perhaps help my clients understand and identify with these terms if I explain what a relationship injury is. I want to help couples understand what is behind the relationship injury and how to forgive each other (and themselves). This knowledge can help couples move forward in a stronger relationship.

What Is a Relationship Injury?

When we’re in a romantic relationship, we make a lot of assumptions about the person we’re with. We set out to prove these assumptions every day. You want to see your partner as someone kind, who has your best interest at heart: someone who will protect you, listen to you, be there for you in your time of need. Someone who thinks you are the most important person in their world, who loves you more than anyone. In return, you try to do all the same things for them. You see each other through the lens of love, friendship, and positivity.

When you commit to be in a relationship with your partner, you are completely invested in believing this narrative. When they fall short, the shock can feel overwhelming. The bottom drops out of all your shiny, happy perceptions, and it changes everything about the way you view your partner.

There is an entire spectrum of relationship injuries, and there’s no telling what the amount of pain caused will be. If you’re in a relationship with someone who is seen as dependable and upright, then you catch them in a lie, you can be left feeling like you don’t even know your own partner. That you’ve been living a lie.

When a partner betrays your trust at a time of great need, it can be devastating. The relationship injury could occur during a medical trauma, a death in the family, or any instance where the partner is needed for support and is not there for you. For example, a spouse may fail to arrive at your parent’s funeral when you are counting on them to be there.

When a partner lets you down so dramatically, it’s a violation of the attachment. It can be a game changer.

The Lasting Effects of a Relationship Injury

As completely invested in each other as you are, the devastation of a relationship injury can leave the injured partner feeling completely betrayed and alone. Everything gets looked at through the lens of that emotional pain. All of those positive feelings of security, of importance, of attractiveness, of well-being—they are gone in that moment.

In order for us to be happy, well-balanced individuals, we need to feel loved and important. Your partner is the person who helps you to feel that way. When all of that is suddenly taken away due to a relationship injury, it can bring up old injuries from our past, our family of origin, or prior relationships. The triggers for these injuries will further reinforce the downward spiral of emotions around feeling unimportant or unloved.

You may want to forgive your partner, but it’s not so easy to forget. Forgetting can feel like we are putting ourselves at risk; we want to avoid repeating the behavior that brought us to the crisis in the first place.

Rebuilding Connection After a Relationship Injury

How do you cope when you feel you cannot even count on the person who claims to love you the most? When you feel alone and are missing your best friend and partner? The work that has to be done requires several steps. The time frame will be different for each couple. Both have to commit to doing this work and to building up a stronger bond than the one that was broken through the relationship injury.

First, your partner needs to make a sincere apology. They have to own what happened, understand how deeply you are hurting, and come to a realization that their actions are responsible for this hurt. There’s really no making up for it. Your partner has to let you know that they truly regret the pain they caused, they will change their behavior going forward, and that they themselves are hurting simply knowing that they caused you to feel this anguish. Only then can a couple move forward with a new perspective.

The injured partner has to be able to see the sincerity in the apology with emotional presence. You need to believe your partner is committed to moving forward with a new and better relationship.

It can get tricky at this point. How do you forgive when it feels like you’ll never stop hurting? When you feel like the person that you counted on has let you down completely and you can’t see anything but the negatives in everything they say or do?

First, your partner needs to make a sincere apology. They have to own what happened, understand how deeply you are hurting, and come to a realization that their actions are responsible for this hurt.In order to truly forgive, the injured partner has to see enough positive interactions, enough good behavior to tip the scales in a positive direction. Not just lip service, but real proof over time that your partner sees you as important and is putting the relationship as a first priority. Forgiveness can happen with reservations, but there is often a trial period of “show me” that has to happen. It’s difficult not to be cynical or suspicious after feeling so hurt and betrayed.

Should you and your partner forget the relationship injury? I say no. I don’t mean that you should hold a grudge, keep score, or constantly bring up the past to your partner. What I mean is that your partner needs to keep the crisis in mind when they’re making decisions going forward. If they truly regret causing you pain, they are never going to want to do it again. Meanwhile, you need to keep the injury in mind so that you are always communicating, clarifying what may be misconstrued, and doing away with negative assumptions.

It is easy for couples to fall back into old negative patterns, especially if that has been your go-to for a long time. The work, the tough stuff, is to move forward: forgiving but not forgetting how painful it was to be estranged from each other. A couple needs to work daily to keep each other close and interact in loving ways. These habits will reinforce your positive perceptions of one another so you can build a lasting relationship.

If you need help working with your partner to rebuild trust, you can find a couples counselor here.

© Copyright 2019 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW, therapist in Scottsdale, Arizona

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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Podcast: Hypersexuality with a Bipolar and Schizophrenic

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

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Hypersexuality is a very common symptom of bipolar mania and a potential symptom of schizophrenia, as well. Both Gabe and Michelle have experienced being hypersexual, but because of their ages and genders, it manifested itself in different ways.

However, their personal differences aside, there is one thing that both our hosts completely agree on. . . Listen now to find out.

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“Hypersexuality is not a good thing. It was a need that I had to fill.”
– Gabe Howard

Highlights From ‘Hypersexuality’’ Episode

[1:40] What is the correct definition of hypersexuality?

[4:30] The history of sex as we understand it.

[6:45] Why hypersexuality is not a good thing.

[10:00] Being hypersexual in the digital age.

[12:30] Gabe & Michelle explain Sex Bingo.

[16:30] Is hypersexuality a compulsion, like addiction?

[22:00] It’s important to have sex safe, no matter what.

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Hypersexuality with a Bipolar and Schizophrenic’ Show

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Announcer: [00:00:07] For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer.

Gabe: [00:00:18] You’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and A Podcast. My name is Gabe Howard. I have bipolar.

Michelle: [00:00:23] Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m schizophrenic.

Gabe: [00:00:26] And today we’re going to talk about sex.

Michelle: [00:00:28] Sex? I don’t know if it is gay. What is that? Is this sex ed?

Gabe: [00:00:32] I think that it’s funny that you’re already uncomfortable. The great Michelle Hammer is not uncomfortable about anything, anything until two things happen. A microphone flips on and you think that your mom might be listening.

Michelle: [00:00:46] When I learned sex ed in fifth grade, that video showed me where I was going to grow hair.

Gabe: [00:00:51] Oh, my God. That I… You have left me speechless. You know,… this… it’s…We’re going to talk a lot about specifically hypersexuality, because it’s one of those things that a lot of people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, it happens. It’s a part of mania. It’s a part of delusional thinking. It’s something that feels good and then gets twisted, which is mental illness’ is specialty.

Michelle: [00:01:14] I hope you don’t start twisting when you have sex. I hope nothing gets twisted when you start having sex. I don’t want anything twisting on you.

Gabe: [00:01:21] Listen, the way that I have sex is my personal business.

Michelle: [00:01:24] Fine, twist it up. You know, when it when it hangs low tie it in a knot and tie it in a bow. Hang it over your shoulder.

Gabe: [00:01:29] I wish people could see how uncomfortable Michelle is. She is she is as red as my hair right now. Before we talk about hypersexuality too much, we should define it using real words.

Michelle: [00:01:44] OK.

Gabe: [00:01:44] Hypersexuality is defined as a dysfunctional preoccupation with sexual fantasy, often in combination with the obsessive pursuit of casual or non intimate sex, pornography, compulsive masturbation, romantic intensity and objectified partner sex for a period of at least six months. Even its definition doesn’t sound sexy. Yet, people think that it does sound sexy because people think that hypersexuality simply means lots of sex. And it just doesn’t.

Michelle: [00:02:12] It doesn’t.

Gabe: [00:02:13] It doesn’t. But we should also cover what hypersexuality is not. It’s not looking at porn. That doesn’t make you hypersexual. It’s not engaging in fetishes or being aroused by things that maybe you consider to be atypical. It’s not homosexuality. It’s not being bisexual. That’s not hypersexuality, that’s not sexual addiction. That’s none of the things that we’re talking about. Hypersexuality is when you use sex to really regulate your emotions and your feelings. If you have a bad day, you have to have sex. And that’s not normal. Most people don’t consistently utilize sexual arousal as a means of feeling better when having a bad day. Healthy people reach out to friends and their family members for support when they’re upset. If you get upset and the first thing you want is sex, if you have a bad day and the first thing that you want is sex, if you have a good day and the first thing that you want is sex. If all of your high or low emotions, your extreme emotions, are driving you to have sex. That’s what hypersexuality is. We’re going to go off on the biggest tangent the show has ever had. We’re just gonna forget that we’re mentally ill.

Michelle: [00:03:17] Oh, God. Okay.

Gabe: [00:03:17] What is it about sex that makes our society just, I mean, we literally use scantily clad women to sell gum. But talking about sex makes almost everybody uncomfortable. Like, what’s up with that?

Michelle: [00:03:30] I don’t really know what’s up with that. It’s something you’re not supposed to talk about sex. But, we all know what was it? What was that? Salt-N-Pepa? Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. I mean, it obviously has been a problem for a long time if a son had to talk about it.

Gabe: [00:03:45] That’s fair. And that song is like really like you’ve dated me. Like I was in high school when that song came out

Michelle: [00:03:50] I was like in elementary school, or younger, or a fetus. I don’t even know.

Gabe: [00:03:54] I’m picturing like a nine year old Michelle Hammer sing Salt-N_Pepa.

Michelle: [00:03:58] I don’t think I was probably allowed to listen to that song when it came out.

Gabe: [00:04:01] When have you ever only done what you’re allowed to do?

Michelle: [00:04:05] I know. Sneaking watching 90210. Yeah. R.I.P. Luke Perry, R.I.P.

Gabe: [00:04:09] Aww, R.I.P. Luke Perry

Michelle: [00:04:09] R.I.P.

Gabe: [00:04:09] Sadness

Michelle: [00:04:13] Dylan McKay, miss you forever.

Gabe: [00:04:13] You know, 90210 was another show about teenagers who had a lot of sex. You weren’t allowed to watch it because of all of the sex that was in it. And that show was geared toward high schoolers.

Michelle: [00:04:25] But I was much younger than that.

Gabe: [00:04:26] Well, yes, but my point is, is that sex is everywhere. But yet when it comes to talking about sex from a medical perspective, and that’s really where the show is going to end up eventually, I promise. Why do we have such a problem with it?

Michelle: [00:04:41] It’s been a problem throughout society. I know that the beginning of the women’s sexual anything. Back in the day, women would go to the doctor and they would pull out like the vibrator and vibrate on the women’s clit. And then they would have an orgasm. And that’s like a medical thing they used to do because they didn’t know that women actually were supposed to feel pleasure from sex.

Gabe: [00:05:00] It is interesting that you bring that up because that’s absolutely true. A lot of people don’t realize that the modern day vibrator used to be a medical device. It was created in asylums to calm down hysterical women. Hysterical. Hysterectomy. These are words because doctors believed women’s reproductive organs were tied to their mental health. The sex study was started by Kinsey and he started a whole foundation where they polled a whole bunch of people anonymously about their sexual proclivities. The things that they liked, the things that they didn’t like. Kinsey learned so much about sexuality that people just did not understand in the 50s.

Michelle: [00:05:39] Like what?

Gabe: [00:05:40] Like that people like to have sex. Or that women could orgasm or, and this was big, that women masturbated. There was this misunderstanding that women did not like, enjoy, or want sex, that it was a chore for them. It was a marital obligation. It was literally their marital duty.

Michelle: [00:05:57] The lie back and think of England?

Gabe: [00:06:00] Yeah, we believed as a society that this was true. And then we found out through a lot of, thank God for science, that it turns out that women like sex. But a lot of women…

Michelle: [00:06:10] Yeah, good thing for you, Gabe. Thank God. Hey, what would you do if women didn’t like sex?

Gabe: [00:06:14] Well, but see, that’s the thing, though. Our society was so messed up that even though women didn’t like sex, they were still expected to have it.

Michelle: [00:06:23] I see what you’re saying.

Gabe: [00:06:23] We believed as a society that women did not enjoy sex. Yet they were required to do it. And we had phrases like “wifely duties.” This all segues into hypersexuality because there is probably not a more misunderstood symptom. Because the number one thing that people think about hypersexuality is that it’s awesome. They think it’s fun. People think hypersexuality is somehow good. It’s not. We’re gonna talk about a lot of stuff, and some of it we’re not gonna have horrible memories of because, hey, this is our lives. We don’t want to regret everything. But the underlying message in this entire show is that hypersexuality takes from you. It doesn’t give. It just doesn’t. There is a world of difference between having a lot of sex, which is good, and hypersexuality, which is not good. And nobody seems to understand that. Everybody thinks that one hypersexuality is fun and two hypersexuality is not a symptom of a serious problem.

Michelle: [00:07:27] What do you think about that?

[00:07:29] I think that I thought the same thing. I think that I thought that hyper exuality was having a lot of sex. It kind of sounds like it, doesn’t it? Hypersexuality, lots of sex, having sex furiously.

Michelle: [00:07:41] You say you’re hypersexual, yes?

Gabe: [00:07:41] Before medication, before treatment, before everything? Yeah. Yeah.

Michelle: [00:07:47] So you did not enjoy it?

Gabe: [00:07:49] Did I enjoy having a lot of sex? Yes. Because here’s the thing that I want to explain, it was a compulsion. It was a need that I had to fill. So by filling it, I got relief from.

Michelle: [00:08:01] Was the need like you’re so horny or is the need that you want to be with somebody?

Gabe: [00:08:07] Oh, it had nothing to do with the other person. Hyper sexuality has nothing to do with your partner.

Michelle: [00:08:10] So you were just like horny, horny, horny, horny, horny, horny, horny.

Gabe: [00:08:14] I don’t know that I would say horny, horny, horny, horny. Well, I’d say that it’s almost like an alcoholic that has to drink. They’re not thirsty. They’re compelled to do it. Or, you ever take a pack of cigarettes away from a smoker?

Michelle: [00:08:25] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:08:26] They’re just so desperate for that cigarette that they’re not even enjoying it anymore. And they’re yelling at people and they’re screaming and they’re bumming cigarettes off people and they’re angry. And then when they finally get that cigarette, they feel better. But really? That does not look like a person who’s enjoying it. Or are they just compelled? It’s a compulsion. Michelle, you have also been hypersexual. Was it something that you enjoyed or was it something that was required?

Michelle: [00:08:51] It was almost like a fun game.

Gabe: [00:08:53] A fun game?

Michelle: [00:08:54] A fun game. Yeah.

Gabe: [00:08:55] Really? So in your mind, hypersexuality and monopoly are like equivalents.

Michelle: [00:09:01] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:09:02] Were you the hat?

Michelle: [00:09:03] I sure. I don’t know. I don’t know all the characters in Monopoly. I’ve only ever played Monopoly Junior.

Gabe: [00:09:08] I love how you said the “characters” in Monopoly rather than the tokens.

Michelle: [00:09:12] I don’t even know they’re called tokens, but whatever. I am not that familiar with Monopoly. I’m not attracted to the monopoly, man.

Gabe: [00:09:18] But you’re familiar with it?

Michelle: [00:09:19] Nobody ever paid me two hundred dollars for passing “Go.”

Gabe: [00:09:20] Oh, you knew a reference?

Michelle: [00:09:23] Yes. If I got paid two hundred dollars every time when I made a man pass go, I’d have a lot of money.

Gabe: [00:09:30] How much money, Michelle?

Michelle: [00:09:32] More than two hundred dollars.

Gabe: [00:09:34] More than 400 dollars?

Michelle: [00:09:35] Perhaps. Hold up. Here’s our sponsor.

Announcer: [00:09:39] This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist, whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral.

Gabe: [00:10:10] We’re back talking hypersexuality. We experienced hypersexuality n very different ways because male and female. But we also experienced hypersexuality differently because generationally, we’re over a decade apart. During my biggest hypersexual times, you know, there wasn’t Tinder. There wasn’t the Internet. There wasn’t online dating services. I had to go out to bars and find people. How was it different for you? Because you just hopped on Tinder and people came to your house?

Michelle: [00:10:37] It’s actually also living in New York City. Tinder can be very easy. You go on Tinder and you put it on one mile radius.

Gabe: [00:10:46] Really?

Michelle: [00:10:46] Yup, one mile radius. So you know who is in the neighborhood and you start getting messages that people you met you meet up with like, oh, you’re in Astoria? I’m in Astoria. Oh, you’re so close. We’re in Astoria over there. Oh, wow. We’re neighbors. Oh, we’re neighbors. That’s so cool. You’re so convenient. Well, I’m like, yeah, this guy doesn’t realize that I put it on one mile radius.

Gabe: [00:11:06] Did you regret it? Like when it was over, did you think, oh, I’m a bad person or did you not care?

Michelle: [00:11:11] Oh, I didn’t care.

Gabe: [00:11:12] That’s interesting. Do you think that is the typical experience of the average female? On one hand, you’re like, oh, I didn’t care. I was fine with it. But yet you are embarrassed by it.

Michelle: [00:11:20] It’s not that I’m embarrassed by it. It’s just there’s judgment about it. I mean, a lot of girls wouldn’t do stuff like that, but I don’t think anyone should judge anybody by what they choose to do as long as you’re being safe. I think what’s more judgmental is that you let a stranger into your home because you never know, you know? Like murders.

Gabe: [00:11:41] Did you learn hundreds upon hundreds of strangers in to your home?

Michelle: [00:11:43] Not hundreds upon hundreds. Are you nuts? I didn’t let hundreds. Come on.

Gabe: [00:11:45] So like dozens?

Michelle: [00:11:47] Possibly. I don’t know.

Gabe: [00:11:49] So you lost count?

Michelle: [00:11:51] Oh, I have no idea. The count. Do you know your count?

Gabe: [00:11:54] Yes.

Michelle: [00:11:55] You know your count?

Gabe: [00:11:55] I don’t know what exactly, but I know that it’s in the hundreds.

Michelle: [00:12:00] I’m not in the hundreds, Gabe, I’m nowhere near the hundreds.

Gabe: [00:12:02] Thanks. That was very judgy.

Michelle: [00:12:03] I wasn’t judging you.

Gabe: [00:12:05] Yes, you were.

Michelle: [00:12:06] Shut up. But I played a game, so I was with a therapist, but not my therapist. Don’t worry. I’ve been with a psychologist, not my psychologist. But I always wanted the trifecta and get a psychiatrist. I haven’t done that, and I don’t know if that’s going to happen. But wouldn’t that be awesome?

Gabe: [00:12:20] This is where you scare me sometimes. Because I had sex with a psychologist. I also had sex with a therapist.

Michelle: [00:12:28] Oh, no.

Gabe: [00:12:29] And I absolutely, unequivocally want to have sex with a psychiatrist.

Michelle: [00:12:33] Oh, my God, no, I’m Gabe.

Gabe: [00:12:35] You know, I call this game sex bingo.

Michelle: [00:12:39] Yes, it is such sex bingo.

Gabe: [00:12:41] Is it healthy, though?

Michelle: [00:12:42] Wait, can we make a game called sex bingo?

Gabe: [00:12:45] I already did. This is my game. I’ve been playing it since I was 19 years old.

Michelle: [00:12:51] And do you have races, different races and religions on your sex bingo?

Gabe: [00:12:55] I really go by like personality traits and or jobs.

Michelle: [00:12:58] Gingers? Brown hair?

Gabe: [00:12:58] I don’t really care about hair color.

Michelle: [00:13:00] Doctor, lawyer?

Gabe: [00:13:02] Lawyer.

Michelle: [00:13:03] I have lawyer.

Gabe: [00:13:05] You have lawyer?

Michelle: [00:13:05] I have lawyer.

Gabe: [00:13:06] I don’t have lawyer. What’s the free spot? Oh, yeah, masturbation. That was a freebie right there.

Michelle: [00:13:14] Your hand.

Gabe: [00:13:14] Your hand?

Michelle: [00:13:16] Or your vibrator.

Gabe: [00:13:18] What do you think of the fleshlight?

Michelle: [00:13:20] I have never used a fleshlight because I’m a woman.

Gabe: [00:13:22] Yeah, that was a stupid question.

Michelle: [00:13:24] Me and my friends were in a bar with a bunch of firefighters one time. And the firefighters, they were saying that one over there, he’s got a fleshlight. So we all started talking to him about his fleshlight. And he’s like, well, you know, with a fleshlight, you don’t have to talk to them before and after.

Gabe: [00:13:39] Wow.

Michelle: [00:13:39] Yeah, that’s what he said.

Gabe: [00:13:40] Did that make him more or less attractive to you?

Michelle: [00:13:43] Much less attractive.

Gabe: [00:13:43] Really?

Michelle: [00:13:45] He doesn’t want to talk to a girl before and after? He’d rather just bone his fleshlight?

Gabe: [00:13:50] This is the core difference, I think, between men and women. Not like across the board. But if a woman said that to me, I don’t want to talk before and after, I’d be like, excellent. This could work. Not any more, though. We have both grown tremendously as people because we do know people who listen to this show and they’re like, oh my God. For example, my wife listens. And if somebody is a first timer listening to the show, they’re like, wait, that guy’s married? Oh, my God. But this was.

Michelle: [00:14:17] Tell her to become a psychiatrist.

Gabe: [00:14:20] This is an excellent idea. You know, you should tell your significant other to become a psychiatrist.

Michelle: [00:14:25] Oh, that’s a good idea.

Gabe: [00:14:25] Oh, my God. Why didn’t we think of this? Oh, my God, what if, now that we are monogamous, our sex bingo should really be about getting our significant other as many jobs as possible.

Michelle: [00:14:37] [Laughter]

Gabe: [00:14:37] We’re gonna have the most successful spouses in the world.

Michelle: [00:14:42] Yes.

Gabe: [00:14:42] Hi. What do you do for a living? I’m a doctor, a lawyer, a psychiatrist, a brain surgeon.

Michelle: [00:14:46] A pilot?

Gabe: [00:14:47] I’m a pilot. I’m an engineer. What is your max number in a day?

Michelle: [00:14:53] Three.

Gabe: [00:14:54] Oh, only three?

Michelle: [00:14:55] Only three.

Gabe: [00:14:57] You only had sex with three people in one day.

Michelle: [00:14:59] I believe.

Gabe: [00:14:59] That’s …

Michelle: [00:15:01] Is that a lot?

Gabe: [00:15:01] No.

Michelle: [00:15:02] I really hope my mom listens to this.

Gabe: [00:15:04] I mean.

Michelle: [00:15:05] Well, let her know.

Gabe: [00:15:06] I’m worried, though, because one of the reasons that I enjoy doing this show with you is because at the end of the day, you’re just as fucked up as me.

Michelle: [00:15:12] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:15:12] But my max number in a day is significantly higher.

Michelle: [00:15:15] Well, I’m not surprised by that one.

Gabe: [00:15:18] Thanks. That’s terrible. You’ve never hired sex workers, though?

Michelle: [00:15:24] No, I have not.

Gabe: [00:15:25] Is that because women just don’t have to? Is it because you didn’t want to? Or is it just because you exist in the age of Tinder?

Michelle: [00:15:32] I exist in the age of Tinder, where it’s free for girls. I wouldn’t even know where to go to get a male sex worker, at all. No, I wouldn’t even know where to go. And why would I do that when Tinder is free?

Gabe: [00:15:44] When you reflect back on hypersexuality, you don’t have the same gut wrenching horror feeling that I do. Why do you think that is? Do you think that you’ve just rejected a lot of societal stereotypes, or the pressure that society gives young women? Do you think this is because you’re such a strong feminist?

Michelle: [00:16:02] I just…

Gabe: [00:16:03] Because I feel awful.

Michelle: [00:16:04] I think it’s just feminism. I need to just see you live your life. You do what you want to do. You don’t feel embarrassed by it. You shouldn’t feel ashamed. Other people, my friends, they’re like, what did you do? And I’m like, I did what I wanted to do. You can judge me. I really don’t care. I don’t care.

Gabe: [00:16:21] For me, one of the things that I dislike so much about hypersexuality is it wasn’t about having fun for me. It was about having sex and while having sex, I would be thinking about when I was gonna be able to have sex again. So I wasn’t even enjoying it in the moment. I had to. I think that’s the thing that maybe a lot of people don’t understand about hypersexuality. I had to. I didn’t want to. I didn’t enjoy it. I had to. I didn’t get any enjoyment from having sex. It was a chore that I had to do.

Michelle: [00:16:51] Mine was definitely not a chore. It was more of a like, kind of, almost a manic kind of a game, really.

Gabe: [00:16:57] So hypersexuality exists on a spectrum much like everything else.

Michelle: [00:17:00] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:17:02] You would say then that maybe you had like hypersexuality lite? And, I’m not judging it in any way. I just, there’s got to be a big difference between somebody who in a 24 hour period is like, hey, I’ll go have sex with three people and now I’m cool. And somebody that says I’ve had sex with 21 people and say, I need more. I need more.

Michelle: [00:17:18] Yeah. That’s a lot different. I wasn’t like craving and craving and craving and craving. It was more just like the thrill of the whole thing.

Gabe: [00:17:26] You know, in addition to the sex act, did you feel that the other person was validating you?

Michelle: [00:17:32] I don’t know. I think it’s kind of hot when somebody, like, wants you. You kind of feel hot when, you know, like I feel hot. I don’t know. You just feel wanted. You feel like, yea, they’re totally into me, you know?

Gabe: [00:17:43] I do. I do. And I think in addition to hypersexuality, I had like co-morbid disorders going on. Because not only did I have to have sex, not only was there this compulsion to have sex, but when somebody was willing to have sex with me, they were telling me I was worthwhile for something. They were saying, hey, you’re not terrible. I needed that reassurance that at least I wasn’t garbage.

Michelle: [00:18:07] And Gabe, can we bring up how you lost your virginity 18 times?

Gabe: [00:18:11] I did. I lost my virginity 18 times.

Michelle: [00:18:13] Tell that story, please. Why did you say it 18 times? And why did they believe you 18 times? Because that is so funny.

Gabe: [00:18:20] I was so desperate to have sex that I would just literally say whatever it took to have sex. And, you know, I was a 500 pound guy. And remember, I don’t have Tinder and none of this stuff existed. I didn’t have the Internet. I didn’t have smartphones. I had to go out to bars and find people to have sex with.

Michelle: [00:18:36] That sounds terrible.

Gabe: [00:18:37] And I still had my personality. I was still charismatic. I was still funny. I was still people were flocked to me. But that wasn’t sealing the deal because I weighed 500 pounds. I weighed, you know, anywhere from 450 to five hundred fifty pounds. And people were just like, yeah, I don’t know. He’s kind of fat. So I came up with, well, frankly, a ruse. I told people that I was a virgin. Then they thought, oh, my God, this guy is so nice. He’s so kind. He’s so funny. Oh, I’ll take his virginity for him. I mean, I’ve got to give him a shot in the world. And once I realized this worked, I did it 18 times.

Michelle: [00:19:10] That’s so funny that you did that.

Gabe: [00:19:13] Is it funny or is it sad or a combination of both?

Michelle: [00:19:16] It’s both.

Gabe: [00:19:17] Yeah, both.

Michelle: [00:19:17] I think it’s so funny that these women would feel like almost bad for you that they would have sex with you.

Gabe: [00:19:23] And that’s an interesting thing to think about as well. You know, women, we don’t think of them as in control of their own sexuality, but they were. And they thought to themselves, hey, you know, I don’t want to date this guy. I’m not even attracted to him. But, you know, he’s a good guy. And I want to give him a favor. We don’t think about it that way with men. You know, men, they have sex with people that they don’t want to date, that they’re not attracted to, etc. all the time because of convenience or desire or whatever. And people are like, oh, that’s perfectly normal. You know, we have these phrases like “men will stick it in anything.” But women? Women are discerning. They’re picky. And the reality is this has not been my experience. I can tell you with having sex with hundreds of people. Women are not picky. They are no pickier.

Michelle: [00:20:06] Some women are picky.

Gabe: [00:20:06] Of course, and some men are, too. I’m telling you, men and women think about sex much more alike. Again, in my experience, then people think.

Michelle: [00:20:18] Have you ever had sex in public?

Gabe: [00:20:20] Like with an audience watching?

Michelle: [00:20:21] No, not with an audience, but like maybe like in the woods, or by a lake, or just outdoors?

Gabe: [00:20:27] I don’t think that I’ve ever had sex outdoors like outside. But I’ve had sex in pretty much every bar bathroom in Ohio.

Michelle: [00:20:33] Eww, a bathroom? That’s disgusting.

Gabe: [00:20:36] But what are you going to do? You meet somebody. Where are you gonna go?

Michelle: [00:20:39] I’ve never had sex in a bathroom.

Gabe: [00:20:41] That is surprising.

Michelle: [00:20:42] Never.

Gabe: [00:20:43] Really?

Michelle: [00:20:44] Really.

Gabe: [00:20:45] I feel bad that I’m thinking you’re lying.

Michelle: [00:20:48] No, I’m really not lying. I’ve never had sex in a bathroom.

Gabe: [00:20:50] See, but again, you were meeting people like online so you could meet in like apartments or anything.

Michelle: [00:20:54] I didn’t. Yeah. Yeah, I see that. I see what you’re saying.

Gabe: [00:20:56] You know, you got to play this scenario.

Michelle: [00:20:58] Yeah?

Gabe: [00:20:58] So you’re horny. You’re out on the prowl. The local band is playing.

Michelle: [00:21:03] Bom bom bom bom.

Gabe: [00:21:05] It’s 1 a.m. and you’re into the person and you’re horny right now. That’s why you’re there. And they’re horny right now. That’s why they’re there. And they’re like, hey,.

Michelle: [00:21:14] I mean, I’ve done some on the dance floor make out. That’s what me and my friends in the city, we used to call it D, and no. D.F.M.O. Yeah, that’s it. DFMO. Dance floor make out.

Gabe: [00:21:21] So I did that except change dance floor make out to bathroom fuck session.

Michelle: [00:21:27] [Laughter]

Gabe: [00:21:29] Listen, on one hand, I’m not completely horrified by my past, but I want to make it clear these memories are largely showing how out of control I was and how desperate I was. And I am very lucky. I did practice safe sex. I always had condoms. I never had sex without protection. I was very, extraordinarily careful. But I know a lot of people that were very extraordinarily careful that still acquired a sexually transmitted disease or even worse, a baby.

Michelle: [00:21:59] Are you calling babies bad?

Gabe: [00:22:00] I’m not calling babies bad, but I’m saying that somebody that is so desperate and so out of control that they would have sex with a stranger in a bar at 1 a.m. and then those two have a baby?

Michelle: [00:22:11] Yeah, they shouldn’t be having a baby.

Gabe: [00:22:12] Yeah. What are the odds of good parenting there?

Michelle: [00:22:14] Yeah I see what you’re saying there.

Gabe: [00:22:15] And again, I was an untreated bipolar, hypersexual, desperate, and having sex with strangers in a bar. Does that sound like father material to you? Like when we think of our dads, is that what we’re thinking about?

Michelle: [00:22:27] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:22:27] We’re thinking about like stable, has a job, loving, caring.

Michelle: [00:22:31] You know, what’s funny about the whole thing? Is that my mom and my dad have been together since they were 14. My mom says she’s only ever been with my dad. And then I’d look at myself and I’m like, we are not the same person, at all. When I was first diagnosed at 18 with bipolar, I guess my mom looked up the symptoms and hypersexuality is a symptom of bipolar. I remember being on the phone with my mom and she was like, okay, Michelle, don’t be too promiscuous. Don’t be too high, too over sexual because I know that’s a symptom of bipolar. Okay. You know, don’t be too promiscuous. And I was like, don’t worry, mom, I’m not. That’s like what she said. She says, oh, you’re bipolar. Don’t be too promiscuous, Michelle. That was like her number one thing. Nothing else about the symptoms. Nothing else. But don’t be too promiscuous.

Gabe: [00:23:15] It shows you our misunderstanding of sex, sexuality and how we relate to it in the world. There are so many people that still believe that sex is only for marriage, and there are many people who believe that sex should not be enjoyable. That is just so sad because that’s the number one thing that I hate about hypersexuality. It made sex not enjoyable. I don’t know what the wrap up for this is because we’ve talked about it, about making sex a game. We’ve talked about, you know, having sex with strangers in bars. We have good memories of it. We have bad memories of it. We have different feelings of it based on our ages and our gender.

Michelle: [00:23:51] I have one question for you. That therapist and psychologist, did they know you are bipolar?

Gabe: [00:23:56] Yes.

Michelle: [00:23:56] Because the therapist and psychologist I boned did not know I was schizophrenic.

Gabe: [00:24:01] Well, they knew.

Michelle: [00:24:03] No, they didn’t.

Gabe: [00:24:03] Were you wearing your schizophrenic.NYC shirt?

Michelle: [00:24:07] No, I was not. No, I was not. No. One was before schizophrenic.NYC existed and one was after. And then after that, they found me on Facebook or Instagram. Me was like, okay. He’s like. And then he finds that I had some. He said that he thought he might have known, but he wasn’t really sure because he was like at one point he did seem he I was talking to myself and he goes. I don’t know who you’re talking to, but I’m over here. And I was like, oh, I’m sorry about that one.

Gabe: [00:24:34] And let’s be very, very clear. I feel the need to put up like a giant disclaimer. Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer never, ever had sex with their own medical providers. They’ve always been perfectly appropriate. That said, it does happen. So don’t. It would be wholly irresponsible of any practitioner to have sex with a patient.

Michelle: [00:24:57] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:24:57] And if you’re the patient, report it immediately.

Michelle: [00:24:59] Yeah. That should not happen. Don’t do that. Don’t do that.

Gabe: [00:25:03] That’s the kind of thing that will set you back.

Michelle: [00:25:04] Yeah, that’s a bad idea. Don’t do that. Don’t.

Gabe: [00:25:07] Yeah, don’t do that.

Michelle: [00:25:08] Don’t do that.

Gabe: [00:25:08] And we are talking about people who held that job, but they certainly were not ours. We were not their patient.

Michelle: [00:25:14] Yes, I was not. Not their patients. Not their patients. But if I could find a psychiatrist.

Gabe: [00:25:21] Thank you, everybody, for tuning into this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. We hope that you learned some small thing about hypersexuality. And if there’s anything that you can relate to, if there’s any message that we want to send, it’s that you are not alone. Michelle and I went through it. We got help. We’re thankful that we don’t have to go through it again. And we are now monogamous and enjoying sex. Not with each other. We will see everybody next week.

Michelle: [00:25:44] Let’s talk about sex, baby, Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about sex.

Announcer: [00:25:54] Announcer: You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episode, don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe, rate, and review. To work with Gabe go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle, go to schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups, head over to PsychCentral.com. This show’s official web site is PsychCentral.com/BSP. You can e-mail us at [email protected]. Thank you for listening, and share widely.

Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts

GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com.MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.Podcast: Hypersexuality with a Bipolar and Schizophrenic

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7 Simple Ways to Ease Anxiety

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

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Anxiety serves a life-saving role when we are in real danger. Adrenaline pumps through our system, and suddenly we can run like Usain Bolt and lift a 200-pound man without much effort. However, most of the time, anxiety is like a fire alarm with a dead battery that beeps annoyingly every five minutes when there is absolutely nothing to worry about. We experience the heart palpitations, restlessness, panic, and nausea as if a saber-toothed tiger were 20 yards away.

Thankfully there are a few simple gestures to communicate to your body that there is no immediate danger — that it’s a false alarm… yet again. I have used the following activities to calm down my nervous system that is ready for an adventure, and to ease symptoms of anxiety.

Exercise

We have known for decades that exercise can decrease depression and anxiety symptoms, but a 2016 study by researchers at the University of California at David Medical Center demonstrates how. They found that exercise increased the level of the neurotransmitters glutamate and GABA, both of which are depleted in the brains of persons with depression and anxiety. The study showed that aerobic exercise activates the metabolic pathways that replenish these neurotransmitters, allowing the brain to communicate with the body.

You need not commit huge amounts of time. Short, ten-minute intervals of intense exercise (such as sprints) can trigger the same brain changes as long, continuous workouts.

Drink Chamomile Tea

Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs and has been used to treat a variety of conditions including panic and insomnia. Its sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. Chamomile extracts exhibit benzodiazepine-like hypnotic activity as evidenced in a study with sleep-disturbed rats.

In a study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia, patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) who took chamomile supplements for eight weeks had a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms compared to the patients taking placebos.

Laugh

It’s difficult to panic and laugh at the same time. There’s a physiological reason for this. When we panic, we generate all kinds of stress hormones that send SOS signals throughout our body. However, when we laugh, those same hormones are reduced.

In a study done at Loma Linda University in California in the 1980s, Lee Berk, DrPH and his research team assigned five men to an experimental group who viewed a 60-minute humor video and five to a control group, who didn’t. They found that the “mirthful laughter experience” reduced serum levels of cortisol, epinephrine, dihydrophenylacetic acid (dopac), and growth hormone.

Take Deep Breaths

Every relaxation technique that mitigates the stress response and halts our “fight or flight or I’m-dying-get-the-heck-out-of-my-way” reaction is based in deep breathing. I find it miraculous how something as simple as slow abdominal breathing has the power to calm down our entire nervous system. One way it does this is by stimulating our vagus nerve — our BFF in the middle of a panic because it releases a variety of anti-stress enzymes and calming hormones such as acetylcholine, prolactin, vasopressin, and oxytocin.

Three basic approaches to deep breathing are coherent breathing, resistance breathing, and breath moving. But really, all you need to do is inhale to a count of six and exhale to a count of six, moving the breath from your chest to your diaphragm.

Eat Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has one of the highest concentrations of magnesium in a food — with one square providing 327 milligrams, or 82 percent of your daily value — and magnesium is an important mineral for calming down the nervous system. According to a 2012 study in the journal Neuropharmacology, magnesium deficiencies induce anxiety, which is why the mineral is known as the original chill pill. Dark chocolate also contains large amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that works as a precursor to serotonin, and theobromine, another mood-elevating compound. The higher percentage of cocoa the better (aim for at least 85 percent), because sugar can reverse the benefits of chocolate and contribute to your anxiety.

Color

Use anything that can distract you from the fire alarm going off every five minutes in your head—from the distressing thoughts and ruminations. Many people I know use coloring books to divert their attention. I now see them in doctor’s offices and acupuncture centers. A study published in Occupational Therapy International demonstrated that activities such as drawing and other arts and crafts can stimulate the neurological system and enhance well-being. This is partly because they help you stay fully present and they can be meditative. They are especially helpful for people like me who struggle with formal meditation.

Cry

You have to be careful with crying, as it has the potential you feel worse. However, I’ve always felt a huge release after a good cry. There’s a biological explanation for this. Tears remove toxins from our body that build up from stress, like the endorphin leucine-enkephalin and prolactin, the hormone that causes aggression. And what’s really fascinating is that emotional tears — those formed in distress or grief — contain more toxic byproducts than tears of irritation (like onion peeling). Crying also lowers manganese levels, which triggers anxiety, nervousness, and aggression. In that way, tears elevate mood.

I like Benedict Carey’s reference to tears as “emotional perspiration” in his New York Times piece, The Muddled Track of All Those Tears. He writes, “They’re considered a release, a psychological tonic, and to many a glimpse of something deeper: the heart’s own sign language, emotional perspiration from the well of common humanity.”

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How Trauma and Dissociation Disrupt Your Ability to Form Memories

This is an interesting article I found on: www.goodtherapy.org

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“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.” Haruki Murakami

We all know from popular drama (TV shows, movies, etc.) that traumatic events are often forgotten by the sufferer. People who experience a devastating event such as a car accident, natural disaster, or terror attack often cannot remember the incident. It’s also common not to remember what took place right before or right after the incident. In a similar way, many adults who suffered child abuse have difficulty recalling large chunks of time from childhood. In these cases, problems with memory can continue into adulthood as well, particularly when faced with emotional distress.

Our brain and nervous system have evolved to do spectacular things: we can read, write, make music, and contemplate the meaning of life. But the brain’s first and foremost duty is to keep us alive. When it comes to traumatic events, the part of our brain that protects our physical and emotional well-being takes control. In this process, the parts of the brain that are responsible for higher thought processes, such as forming and retrieving memories, are suppressed.

How the Brain Forms Memories

On a regular stress-free day, memories for facts are made and stored in three steps: acquisition, consolidation, and retrieval.

  • Acquisition occurs through the combination of sensory experience and emotion. The amygdala processes and interprets the experience so it can become a memory.
  • The hippocampus consolidates the experience and sends the information off to the appropriate place for storage (memories are stored all over the brain).
  • It is thought that retrieval of factual memories occurs as a function of the prefrontal cortex. When we want to think of a fact, such as the definition of a word, the prefrontal cortex retrieves it and we remember.

When we are confronted with life-threatening danger, the brain behaves differently. The amygdala sends an emergency signal to the hypothalamus, which in turn activates the fight or flight response. Corticosteroids are then released into the bloodstream in order to prepare the body for action. Blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory function all increase to provide the body and brain with extra energy and oxygen. Our alertness increases, and our body is ready to move.

When this is happening, the amygdala inhibits the activity of the prefrontal cortex. When faced with danger, this is useful, as the prefrontal cortex operates substantially slower. While it is trying to work out what is happening, our body may be harmed. The quicker, action-oriented part of the brain enables us to respond rapidly and try to avoid danger. We act fast. Later, once we are safe, we have time to think. In respect to memory, the parts of the brain involved in memory formation are shut down when faced with a traumatic experience.

The activation of the fight or flight response prevents the parts of the brain responsible for creating and retrieving memory from functioning effectively. This is why we can forget what occurred around a traumatic event. In the case of ongoing trauma, such as with childhood abuse, ongoing problems with memory and the related process can occur, leading to what is understood as dissociation.

Dissociation and Memories

At the heart of dissociation is memory disruption.At the heart of dissociation is memory disruption. During dissociation, the normally integrated functions of perception, experience, identity, and consciousness are disrupted and do not thread together to form a cohesive sense of self. People with dissociation often experience a sense that things are not real; they can feel disconnected from themselves and the world around them. Their sense of identity can shift, their memories can turn off, and the connection between past and present events can be disrupted.

In understanding the human response to trauma, it is understood that dissociation is a central defense mechanism because it provides a kind of mental escape when physical escape is not possible. This type of defense is often the only kind available for children living in abusive situations. Posttraumatic stress (PTSD) and complex posttraumatic stress (C-PTSD) often go hand in hand with dissociation. In studies investigating the impact of PTSD and memory, researchers have found that people with dissociative symptoms have a greater impairment with both working memory and long-term memory.

Long-Term Impact of Memory Impairment

To understand the long-term impact of memory impairment due to dissociation, we need to look at the context from which it arises. Dissociation occurs as a result of ongoing trauma which is associated with chronic stress. A chronically stressed brain and nervous system have difficulty learning. The hippocampus, critical for memory formation and consolidation, can become damaged from ongoing exposure to stress hormones. Researchers have found that the hippocampus actually shrinks in people who suffer from major depression. In addition to the emotional impact of chronic stress and abuse, difficulties with learning and memory can occur as well.

Implications range from difficulties with academics to reduced on-the-job learning and performance. In terms of survival, the implications are serious, as we all need the ability to prepare for, find, and keep employment. Unfortunately, once a person frees him or herself from an abusive childhood, the effects can follow into adulthood in unexpected ways. A damaged hippocampus and overactive nervous system can make life more difficult than it has to be. Over time, self-esteem and confidence can be negatively impacted as well.

Fortunately, the prognosis of dissociation can be optimistic. Researchers have found treatment with antidepressants can increase hippocampal volume. Talk therapy and other therapeutic approaches that are designed to reduce stress and increase emotional resilience may also help.

If you are experiencing trauma or dissociation, you can find a mental health professional here.

References

  1. Bedard-Gilligan, M., & Zoellner, L. A. (2012). Dissociation and memory fragmentation in post-traumatic stress disorder: An evaluation of the dissociative encoding hypothesis. Memory, 20(3), 277-299. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22348400
  2. Lanius, R. A. (2015). Trauma-related dissociation and altered states of consciousness: A call for clinical, treatment, and neuroscience research. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 6(1), 27905. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4439425
  3. Nuwer, R. (2013, August 1) Why can’t accident victims remember what happened to them? Smithsonian. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/why-cant-accident-victims-remember-what-happened-to-them-21942918
  4. Özdemir, O., Özdemir, P. G., Boysan, M., & Yilmaz, E. (2015). The relationships between dissociation, attention, and memory dysfunction. Nöro Psikiyatri Arşivi, 52(1), 36-41. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5352997
  5. Phelps, E. A. (2004). Human emotion and memory: Interactions of the amygdala and hippocampal complex. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 14(2), 198-202. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15082325
  6. Rosack, J. (2003, September 5) Antidepressants may prevent hippocampus from shrinking. Psychiatric News. Retrieved from https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/pn.38.17.0024
  7. Sapolsky, R. M. (2001). Depression, antidepressants, and the shrinking hippocampus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 98(22), 12320-12322. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC60045

© Copyright 2019 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Fabiana Franco, PhD, therapist in New York City, New York

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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Podcast: Dwelling on the Past Mistakes Caused by Mental Illness

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

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Once we reach recovery from mental illness, we tend to dwell on the mistakes of our past. Thoughts of failures and people we’ve hurt ruminate inside our head and make it difficult to move forward.

Why do we think about these things? Does it protect us, make us feel better, or is it way to keep us from moving forward? In this episode, our hosts discuss their past failures in the hopes it allows our listeners to realize living in the past only really accomplishes one thing . . .

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“It just creeps into the deep dark depths of my head and it just goes around, and around, and around.”
– Michelle Hammer

Highlights From ‘Ruminations’’ Episode

[2:00] We are talking about ruminations today

[4:30] Ruminations feed delusions

[6:00] Gabe dwells on his past wives

[8:20] Michelle ruminates about how her brother treated her in the past

[11:00] Gabe tried to set up his brother to get in trouble

[13:00] We want Michelle to make amends with her brother

[18:00] Why ruminating is detrimental to your health.

[19:30] Gabe dwells about his biological father

[21:00] Why can’t we just get over things and move on?

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Dwelling on the Past Mistakes Caused by Mental Illness’ Show

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Announcer: [00:00:07] For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer.

Gabe: [00:00:19] You’re listening to a person living with bipolar, a person living with schizophrenia, and a digital portable media file. My name is Gabe Howard and I’m a person living with bipolar disorder.

Michelle: [00:00:28] Hi, I’m Michelle Hammer and I’m a person living with schizophrenia. Are you guys happy now?

Gabe: [00:00:33] Yeah. See we changed it for everybody.

Michelle: [00:00:36] My god, don’t write any more letters. Please stay off our social media. Person first language, okay?

Gabe: [00:00:43] I think we did it. I think, you know, by doing it this way, though we have now wiped out discrimination. We’ve wiped out stigma. There’s enough beds for everybody. Homelessness due to mental illness is gone. There’s nobody incarcerated in prisons. By using person first language we have solved all of those other problems, right?

Michelle: [00:01:04] We must of. That’s why person’s first language is always number one comment we get. Absolutely.

Gabe: [00:01:09] Hang on. I’m getting a weird text message.

Michelle: [00:01:11] Oh. Oh no, what happened?

Gabe: [00:01:13] Yeah. It turns out we didn’t do anything. We didn’t do anything. Like a person first language. It didn’t. It didn’t solve any problems. No. Now people are mad at us for mocking them.

Michelle: [00:01:22] Oh, no! We mocked people? We never make fun of anything on this show.

Gabe: [00:01:27] We were always so polite and professional and educational. We never say fuck.

Michelle: [00:01:32] We never say fuck, or suck my dick, or your –

Gabe: [00:01:37] [Laughter]

Michelle: [00:01:37] God, Gabe, what are you laughing at? I’m being really serious right now. I’m a person living with schizophrenia. I am a person living with my past.

Gabe: [00:01:45] You’re a person living with your past?

Michelle: [00:01:46] My past that I dwell on with my ruminations. Now I’m going to ruminate about this situation: that I couldn’t make the world better. I need to make the world better. Gabe, I need to make the world better.

Gabe: [00:01:58] This is the worst segue in the history of our show. And that, that’s saying something. Because we’ve had some mighty awful segues.

Michelle: [00:02:08] What are we doing?

Gabe: [00:02:11] In case you haven’t figured it out, ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about things that we have ruminated on both before we were diagnosed, during like the recovery period where we’re trying to get better, and things that still kind of haunt us today and we are going to desperately eke 20 minutes out of this.

Michelle: [00:02:26] Desperately.

Gabe: [00:02:28] So Michelle what are some ruminations that like today think the last six months as longtime listener of this show know we’re in recovery. You are doing quite well despite the fact that you’re a schizophrenic. I am doing quite well despite the fact that I’m living with bipolar disorder we’ve gotten over mania depression psychosis and everything in between. But we still ruminate on things because one everybody does. We should probably start there. Do you think that ruminating about things is the domain of only people with mental illness or do you think that everybody ruminates?

Michelle: [00:02:59] I think everybody ruminates to a certain extent. It’s fine ruminating, you just can’t stop it is when it really gets out of control.

Gabe: [00:03:07] I like that we’ve challenged ourselves to put the word “ruminating” in this show as many times as possible.

Michelle: [00:03:13] How do you spell this word?

Gabe: [00:03:15] I have no idea. I have no idea that that’s really a problem for the show

Michelle: [00:03:19] Should we define ruminating for people?

Gabe: [00:03:20] Do it.

Michelle: [00:03:21] Ruminating is when you can think of the same thing over and over and over again you just cannot get it out of your head. It just goes around and around and around. Usually it drives you nuts.

Gabe: [00:03:33] So, for example, Michelle’s mother, who has absolutely no mental illness to speak of, ruminates about why Michelle is a failure.

Michelle: [00:03:42] Hey.

Gabe: [00:03:42] It just she can’t get it out of her head.

Michelle: [00:03:44] I’m not a failure.

Gabe: [00:03:45] I didn’t say that you were. I said that your mother ruminates about it.

Michelle: [00:03:47] She does not.

Gabe: [00:03:48] I mean maybe a little bit?

Michelle: [00:03:49] She doesn’t.

Gabe: [00:03:50] Okay well my mother despite having no mental illness whatsoever ruminates on whether or not I’m going to throw her under the bus on a podcast.

Michelle: [00:03:58] Does she?

Gabe: [00:03:58] I mean, probably.

Michelle: [00:03:59] I don’t know.

Gabe: [00:04:01] Yeah, I don’t think she gives a shit.

Michelle: [00:04:02] I often ruminate why I was fired from any previous job.

Gabe: [00:04:05] Do you ruminate about being fired from the job as a symptom of schizophrenia? Or is it just something that you wish you could go back in time and figure out?

Michelle: [00:04:14] Well it’s more like different situations that happened and how I wish I could have handled them differently.

Gabe: [00:04:19] But doesn’t everybody do that? Like do you ever do this? And be honest, I mean sincerely be honest. Remember we value honesty. Do you ever get in a fight with your girlfriend, and like you’re fighting, you’re yelling, you’re screaming, and then you retreat to separate corners. All is quiet. It’s over, you’ve made up and you think, “God, I wish I would have said that?” Or like you run through it in your mind?

Michelle: [00:04:40] But that’s different than ruminating.

Gabe: [00:04:42] Well, how is it?

Michelle: [00:04:43] Different for me? Because ruminating just doesn’t stop it. I’ll go around and around and around and even when I’m walking through the street walking through anything I almost will turn delusional and think I’m with those other people having that conversation start getting angry just start making the whole situation 8 million times worse than it was because I keep thinking about it over and over and over and over and over and over again. It won’t go away and if they hate it so much.

Gabe: [00:05:08] In your mind ruminating and delusions they feed each other?

Michelle: [00:05:13] Yes absolutely.

Gabe: [00:05:14] First you’re thinking about the thing. I got fired. They fired me. H.R. called walk me down with the seventh time I got. By the time you’re done you’re back in that time and place. You’re feeling it again and it’s like it’s happening right now. Even though it was three years ago.

Michelle: [00:05:26] Yes.

Gabe: [00:05:27] Wow. Does that still happen to you like in 2019? Does this still happen to Michelle Hammer?

Michelle: [00:05:32] Yes.

Gabe: [00:05:33] What’s the coping skill to get around it? Because you’re right. You’re a well accomplished person. Why do we care?

Michelle: [00:05:38] Honestly, talking about the ruminating thoughts. Because when you talk about the ruminating thoughts usually the person you’re talking to is going, “Why do you care so much about this?” You maybe talk it out a little bit, and then you’re like, “Wow. You’re right. Who cares about this dumb stupid person or this story or anything about the situation. It’s so useless why am I thinking about it so much and you can’t change the past anyway. You’re right. I talked it out. Now I feel better.

Gabe: [00:06:03] But can’t you kinda change the past? Can’t you remember it differently? You can’t you edit it in your mind, can’t you fix the things that have gone wrong previously in the future just like with different people?

Michelle: [00:06:16] You mean like learning from your past?

Gabe: [00:06:17] No. Learning sounds mature and we don’t really like that here.

Michelle: [00:06:21] OK. So then I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Gabe: [00:06:23] Here’s a good example. I’m on my third marriage. My wife is wonderful and I love her and this marriage has stood many many years. And I have no complaints. I want to say that right now. But I’ve been divorced twice. Not nasty divorces, but, you know, things that didn’t feel good. And I’ve been through breakups etc.. So every now and again my wife will do something and it will remind me of something that my ex-wife did and I’ll think. “Wait a minute. You know I let that go when wife number two did it. So I have to fix it with wife number three.” Even though they’re a completely different person. It’s a completely different time and nothing is the same except for maybe like one little thing. Don’t you ever do that? Like don’t you ever try to set a boundary with your current friend that you didn’t set with your last friend that is now you’re like mortal enemy?

Michelle: [00:07:10] No.

Gabe: [00:07:11] No?

Michelle: [00:07:11] No. Something that I do I know I do with my anxiety but I put on other people, is that I’ll start asking them a million questions about things. And then they’re like, “Why are you asking me a million questions?” And I’m like, “Oh, it’s my anxiety. I just wondered at the time? I just wondered if you know the place? I just wanted to know what you’re going to do after? What you are going to do before? I’m like, I’m just anxious. I’m sorry. I wanted to know.” If that makes any sense.

Gabe: [00:07:33] I certainly do that, too. You know like that constant time checking thing? That you don’t wanna be late?

Michelle: [00:07:37] Yes.

Gabe: [00:07:38] So what time is it? It’s four o’clock. OK. We have to be there at four thirty. What time is it? It’s four or one. OK. We have to be there at four thirty. What time is it? Dude ,it’s still four or one. But you know some of the things that are trapped in my head that I just can’t get out are just what a bad friend I was, or what a awful son I was, or what a terrible family member I was.

Michelle: [00:07:58] Yeah, yeah.

Gabe: [00:07:58] And sometimes I get mad at the people around me because I assume that they’re still mad at me because I’m still mad at me. Does stuff like that ever happen to you?

Michelle: [00:08:09] I mean, I still hold a lot of vendettas against my brother, which I owe to him. Right? Everyone says that I just dwell on the past. Even he says that I just, like, stay on the past. About when we’re very young. Me and my brother, and how mean he was to me and everything. We would see each other in the hallway of high school, and he wouldn’t even say hello to me. Yet, when he went off to college, and we were still using AIM, and he would instant message me, I would not reply. So he wouldn’t speak to me when he saw me in high school in the hallway, yet I stopped replying to him when he went off to college. And that was not OK. Which makes no sense to me. Yet, now we haven’t seen each other in a long time because he lives in another country. And when he comes back, I now have to be nice to him. Because I guess he’s a different person now? Yet, I never got any kind of apologies or anything like that, but I’m supposed to see that he’s a different person now. I don’t know why. And we’re supposed to be good friends now or something like that. I guess, just out of curiosity, why? I’m just wondering.

Gabe: [00:09:12] Is your brother a different person now?

Michelle: [00:09:14] Apparently, he’s a different person now. I don’t know. But-.

Gabe: [00:09:18] He had to leave the country to really get away with you.

Michelle: [00:09:20] I don’t know where it changed, but I’m supposed to treat him differently now. I’m supposed to forget everything from the past, all of the abuse from the past, and I’m supposed to like him now. I don’t know why.

Gabe: [00:09:31] I haven’t heard described any abuse. What you described is a couple of adult siblings that do not talk to each other.

Michelle: [00:09:36] No. Well okay.

Gabe: [00:09:37] What’s he mean to you? Did he call you names? Wait, did he pull your pigtails?

Michelle: [00:09:39] Well, he went to karate, and he would practice all of his karate moves on me. Constant wrestling, slamming my head into the ground until my nose bleeds. Calling me Michael instead of Michelle. Calling me a boy. That kind of went with Michael. Slamming the door in my face. Not letting me play with him. Like when we’re very little. Try to use his toys, not allowed to use his toys. Actually, when my mom and dad came home with me from the hospital when I was born, and they said, “Oh, Seth, here’s your sister.” He threw a stuffed animal at me. Yeah. I don’t know why they told me that story.

Gabe: [00:10:11] So he’s your older brother?

Michelle: [00:10:12] Yes.

Gabe: [00:10:12] Because you said that he threw a stuffed animal at you when you came home from the hospital and they told you that story and you’re putting this together with all of the other issues that you had with your brother growing up when you were kids?

Michelle: [00:10:27] Yeah and my like broke my necklace too, and then blamed me for it because that I was being annoying. So he had to push me and my necklace got in the way and it broke.

Gabe: [00:10:36] This is fabulous that you bring this up and here’s why. Because in my brother and sister’s world, I’m your older brother. I was the oldest. I was incredibly jealous of my brother. One time to get him in trouble when we were kids, I took syrup out of the pantry and I dumped it on the floor so that I could frame him for doing it. Knowing that he’d get in trouble. My mother just happened to be moving faster than normal that morning and watched me do it. And even though she saw me do it, I still tried to blame him for it. Absolutely, unequivocally, just hated having him as a brother. I was a top dog. I was the oldest. I used to live with Grandma. Then my mother remarried and nine months later I got this bastard in my house and I treated him like absolute garbage. Absolute garbage.

Michelle: [00:11:22] My favorite was when he would say, “You’re stupid.” And I would say, “No, you are stupid.” And then he would say, “Well, I’m smarter than you. So if I’m stupid, how dumb are you?

Gabe: [00:11:30] You know you’re an adult now, right?

Michelle: [00:11:31] I know. But obviously I can not get over this because I don’t understand why I’m supposed to like him now when I never received any kind of apology.

Gabe: [00:11:38] What kind of apology do you want when you were growing up?

Michelle: [00:11:41] Maybe just, “I’m sorry I was a horrible asshole to you, and ignored you for years and everything like that.”

Gabe: [00:11:47] Listen I never ever ever told my brother and sister, “I’m sorry. I was a horrible asshole to you.” Ever.

Michelle: [00:11:55] So that I don’t understand, why do I have to accept him back in my life?

Gabe: [00:11:59] I mean you don’t. But do you feel good right now?

Michelle: [00:12:01] I’m being told by everybody in my family that I need to accept him back in my life.

Gabe: [00:12:06] Okay. Well fuck them. Don’t. Just sit around and think about how pissed off and angry 8, 12, and 15 year old Michelle was.

Michelle: [00:12:13] Hang on one second, we’ve got to hear from our sponsor.

Announcer: [00:12:16] This episode is sponsored by betterhelp.com secure convenient and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to betterhelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you. Betterhelp.com/PsychCentral.

Michelle: [00:12:44] Want us to answer your questions on the show? Head over to PsychCentral.com/BSPquestions and fill out the form.

Gabe: [00:12:54] We’re back, still trying to say the word rumination as many times as humanly possible. You’re 30 years old, you’ve moved on with your life. But you’re still thinking about shit that happened to you when you were literally eight years old.

Michelle: [00:13:06] Ok, I see where you’re going with this.

Gabe: [00:13:08] How is that working out for you?

Michelle: [00:13:08] I don’t know. I don’t see him. I don’t have to speak to him. And then my mom says, “Have you spoken to your brother? Have you texted him? Have you spoken to him?” Yeah. “I don’t like that you guys don’t have a relationship. Why do my children hate each other?”

Gabe: [00:13:23] Well, I mean you articulated why y’all hate each.

Michelle: [00:13:25] I know, I’m just saying, that’s what she says.

Gabe: [00:13:27] I mean, has he done anything to you as an adult? Let let’s establish that like right out. In the time that you both became adult grown people, has he? Or has he been fine?

Michelle: [00:13:36] Well, when I graduated college he was working at kind of in the design agency kind of area. His boss, the creative director, he wanted to give me some advice. So he brought me in and he looks at my portfolio and his boss said to me, “I like your stuff. I want to give you some help. I wanted to offer you like a part time internship here, but your brother said no”.

Gabe: [00:13:54] Well but you don’t know that’s true.

Michelle: [00:13:57] His boss said it to me.

Gabe: [00:13:58] Yeah, but so what? People lie all the time.

Michelle: [00:14:00] No that’s 100 percent something my brother would do. Why would he lie and say I would offer you an internship here, but your brother said no? Because why would he invite me to come there and look at my portfolio and see all of my work and give me advice? Why would he offer to do that?

Gabe: [00:14:16] If he was gonna tell you no, why did he do it at all?

Michelle: [00:14:17] He was just giving me advice. And he just said that he wanted to offer me an internship, and that he would totally do that for me, but my brother said no.

Gabe: [00:14:25] So your brother was the boss of his boss?

Michelle: [00:14:27] My brother said do not hire her as an intern.

Gabe: [00:14:31] Then why did he talk to you at all?

Michelle: [00:14:32] Because he wanted to give me advice.

Gabe: [00:14:34] Did you ask your brother about this?

Michelle: [00:14:36] No I wouldn’t want to start a fight.

Gabe: [00:14:39] But, I kinda smell a rat here.

Michelle: [00:14:41] No I don’t smell a rat here. Obviously, Gabe, you don’t know my brother if you don’t believe this story.

Gabe: [00:14:46] It just doesn’t have the ring of truth.

Michelle: [00:14:47] Actually, it does very much ring true.

Gabe: [00:14:50] Okay. Let’s say that that is completely true. It’s 100 percent.

Michelle: [00:14:52] Okay.

Gabe: [00:14:52] Let’s say it rings true?

Michelle: [00:14:54] Say it rings true? It’s 100 true.

Gabe: [00:14:55] Right, it’s 100 percent true. I agree. How long ago was that? How many years?

Michelle: [00:15:00] I believe I was 22. Okay so it was eight years ago.

Gabe: [00:15:04] Eight years? Everybody, Michelle Hammer is 30 years old.

Michelle: [00:15:04] You said adult life, Gabe. I was bringing up something in my adult life that’s it. So you know, it’s just so you know, you said something in my adult life.

Gabe: [00:15:14] I don’t know. I do not. You’re very upset about this.

Michelle: [00:15:17] He didn’t want me to work in the same place that he was working. You said adult life there you go or not.

Gabe: [00:15:25] But you keep repeating that.

Michelle: [00:15:26] Also, my brother lives in Colombia. Colombia the country, not the college. People have gotten that very mixed up before.

Gabe: [00:15:31] Did you throw your brother out of the country?

Michelle: [00:15:35] I’m glad he left.

Gabe: [00:15:35] Okay.

Michelle: [00:15:38] Meanwhile, you know who’s never been invited to Colombia to come see him?

Gabe: [00:15:40] I’m gonna go with you.

Michelle: [00:15:41] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:15:42] Do you think the reason you’ve never been invited is because you hate him?

Michelle: [00:15:48] He’s never invited me.

Gabe: [00:15:48] Because you hate him.

Michelle: [00:15:50] Well, he’s never invited me.

Gabe: [00:15:51] Because you hate him.

Michelle: [00:15:52] He’s never invited me.

Gabe: [00:15:53] Have you invited him to your house?

Michelle: [00:15:55] He’s been to my apartment. He’s been there.

Gabe: [00:15:58] You’re upset about this aren’t you?

Michelle: [00:15:58] Well, we’re dwelling on the past, Gabe.

Gabe: [00:16:00] You want to have a relationship with your brother, don’t you?

Michelle: [00:16:03] We do not get along.

Gabe: [00:16:05] I didn’t say do you get along. I said do you want to get along?

Michelle: [00:16:08] I want him to acknowledge what he’s done.

Gabe: [00:16:13] But why do you want him to acknowledge what he’s done?

Michelle: [00:16:16] Because he acts so innocent.

Gabe: [00:16:17] I’m being really serious.

Michelle: [00:16:19] Like look, he acts like he did nothing wrong. And then the past is of the past and I should ignore it.

Gabe: [00:16:24] Listen here’s what I’m saying, you think about the things that happened as a kid and as a young adult. A lot. And it brings it up. You are clearly unhappy about this and other members of your family know that you’re unhappy about this and try to fix it. Albeit apparently poorly. And I completely agree that all of these things are true. The question that I have for you this is the only question that I want you to answer. Do you want him to apologize because you want an apology? Or do you want him to apologize because you miss your brother and you want to mend the relationship?

Michelle: [00:16:56] Yes, I would like to mend the relationship.

Gabe: [00:16:58] Ok, well then say that. Say that the reason that you think about this so much is because you’re sad that you’re fighting with your brother.

Michelle: [00:17:05] And I’ve had friends who’ve met my brother on multiple occasions and have told me your brother’s a dick.

Gabe: [00:17:11] Yeah, he sounds like a real dick. Listen –

Michelle: [00:17:13] I’m just saying. I’m just saying.

Gabe: [00:17:14] I am not saying that he is not. Your brother’s a dick. I’m saying that you need to understand your own motivation because until you do I don’t think you’re gonna get over it. And I think a lot of our listeners have somebody in their life that they feel this way about. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, in some cases it’s like a parent or a guardian. It’s somebody who helped raised them or an authority figure and they’re all ruminating on this day in and day out. And if they don’t fix the relationship or get over the relationship it either a handcuffs them in the present like it’s handcuffed to you because you’re thinking about this right now and it is occupying way too much of your space for some dude who doesn’t even live in the country. And two, you just need to let it go and decide hey look this relationship isn’t for me and stop thinking about it. Frankly I don’t think any of this has anything to do with schizophrenia. I don’t think it does. It has everything to do with the fact that familiar relationships our family our friends, that’s the kind of stuff that fucks you up.

Michelle: [00:18:10] I think what it has to do with schizophrenia is the fact that I’ll think about it and I’ll just scrape into my head and it creeps in the deep dark depths of my head and I’ll just go around and around and around and around.

Gabe: [00:18:22] You want to know who my big brother is? You want to know who does that for me? You want to know who creeps into my head and just turns around and around and won’t let go ever? My biological father. The dude is dead. He is dead and I think about him the exact same way you think about your brother.

Michelle: [00:18:41] Really?

Gabe: [00:18:41] Yeah he’s dead. He can’t apologize. He can’t make up for it. It’s over. I won because I didn’t die of alcoholism.

Michelle: [00:18:49] I can get why.

Gabe: [00:18:50] Why did you hate me? That’s all I can think about, why did he hate me? And now you’re gonna do the exact same thing that I just did for you. You’re gonna be like, “Dude, he didn’t hate you he was a dick. He was an alcoholic. He abandoned his kid.” This is the level that we torture ourselves.

Michelle: [00:19:02] I get that though. When a parent chooses alcohol over a kid. I can understand why the kid feels very upset.

Gabe: [00:19:10] Oh, look I don’t think he chose alcohol over me. I think he chose literally anything. I think he would have chosen like a blowing leaf over me.

Michelle: [00:19:18] Sometimes, a father is just a sperm.

Gabe: [00:19:20] Yeah. You know I call on my sperm donor.

Michelle: [00:19:22] Yeah. That’s sometimes just what a father is.

Gabe: [00:19:25] But this is the biggest rumination that I have because I wonder how did he know? On the day that I was born, that I was broken and worthless? How come he knew what nobody else can figure out?

Michelle: [00:19:37] He didn’t know that.

Gabe: [00:19:37] But, I mean –

Michelle: [00:19:38] He knew he was broken.

Gabe: [00:19:41] He didn’t know that. He had a good life. He was happy. He died fine.

Michelle: [00:19:44] No, he wasn’t happy, he was an alcoholic.

Gabe: [00:19:46] Yeah, a happy one.

Michelle: [00:19:47] No, there’s no happy alcoholics.

Gabe: [00:19:50] You know that whole self medicating thing it doesn’t play sometimes. I don’t think he was self medicating at all. I think he was just a guy that did whatever he wanted and said whatever he wanted and behaved however. He was just immature.

Michelle: [00:20:00] Then he wasn’t ready to be a dad.

Gabe: [00:20:03] I mean he was very young. My mother got pregnant in high school and he was also in high school.

Michelle: [00:20:07] So ok, that makes a little bit better.

Gabe: [00:20:08] But he never made up for it. I saw him on his deathbed. He was in hospice. He had jaundice, his eyes were yellow. They told me had less than two weeks to live. And I’m like, “Do you have anything to say to me?” And he was like, “It’s your mom’s fault.”

Michelle: [00:20:23] That’s what he said?

Gabe: [00:20:23] That’s pretty much what he said.

Michelle: [00:20:25] He’s a dick.

Gabe: [00:20:26] Oh, yeah.

Michelle: [00:20:26] Like he’s a dick. Your biological dad, he’s a dick.

Gabe: [00:20:29] But why can’t I get over it?

Michelle: [00:20:31] Because he’s your dad.

Gabe: [00:20:33] Yeah I got a dad. He’s alive. He lives in Tennessee. He’s cool.

Michelle: [00:20:35] Because he’s a part of you.

Gabe: [00:20:37] And I’m not trying to be crass here, but he’s just a guy who had sex with my mom. I appreciate the DNA and all

Michelle: [00:20:45] But if you can say that, then why can’t you get over it?

Gabe: [00:20:48] Exactly. And that’s why it ruminates because the intellectual part of Gabe Howard thinks –

Michelle: [00:20:54] So are you mad at your mom for boning this dude?

Gabe: [00:20:57] No. Well, I mean, I’m mad at my mom for giving me life but that’s like a whole ‘nother episode. I don’t understand why I got to be born and why I have to be born broken and why I’m here.

Michelle: [00:21:08] There’s a reason why you’re here and there’s a purpose here and it’s.

Gabe: [00:21:12] I don’t I don’t believe that.

Michelle: [00:21:13] Purpose. I believe that there’s always a reason why you’re here.

Gabe: [00:21:17] You believe in vape pens.

Michelle: [00:21:20] You believe in Diet Coke. Maybe there’s a universe of no diet coke.

Gabe: [00:21:23] That’s mean.

Michelle: [00:21:24] You’re not there. That’s near here.

Gabe: [00:21:27] That’s mean.

Michelle: [00:21:28] You’re here to drink Diet Coke.

Gabe: [00:21:30] Michelle, seriously. Seriously, none of this is serving either one of us so why do we do it?

Michelle: [00:21:36] Because it doesn’t go away.

Gabe: [00:21:39] And why doesn’t it go away?

Michelle: [00:21:40] I don’t know why it doesn’t go away.

Gabe: [00:21:42] Exactly. Judging by our emails a lot of our listeners have this problem where they just have this thing that they just can’t get over. And if they have learned nothing by listening to this show it’s that they’re not alone. A lot of people have these things that they just can’t get over and I think that anybody listening to me and you for the last 20 minutes would think wow these two need to get over that because it’s not serving them in any way.

Michelle: [00:22:05] Just a little bit. Don’t you think?

Gabe: [00:22:06] But we’re not letting it go. I hope that maybe they listen to us and they realize how unhelpful this is to just not get over and they think wow I don’t want to be like them and they let go of their anger and the things that they’re just ruminating on and can’t get over. But I suspect that a lot of people are gonna hang on to that rumination and I hope that they find some way to minimize it because at the end of the day Michelle we have minimized it. It is not impacting us the same way at our current age. That it probably did 10 years ago. Do you think you think about this less now than you did five years ago?

Michelle: [00:22:44] Oh definitely much less.

Gabe: [00:22:45] So there really is some wisdom in time heals all wounds.

Michelle: [00:22:49] And you know living in another country.

Gabe: [00:22:52] So I had to kill my biological father. You had to send your brother to another country and now suddenly we’re getting better. That’s fantastic. That is definitely actionable advice. Everybody is excited that they listen to this episode of a bipolar schizophrenic podcast because now they can beat their own ruminations with death and deportation.

Michelle: [00:23:15] Yes.

Gabe: [00:23:16] Not every episode can be a winner ladies and gentlemen but we hope you got something out of it. Thank you for tuning into this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Don’t forget to hop over to store.PsychCentra.com, there is a few shirts left. This is the last time. Literally the last time we will ever pitch the “Define Normal” shirts on this show. So if you have been hanging on wanting to buy one, now is the time. Thank you everybody. Please like us everywhere and we will see you next time.

Michelle: [00:23:45] He’s a dick!

Announcer: [00:23:50]You’ve been listening to a bipolar a schizophrenic kind of podcast. If you love this episode don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe rate and review to work with Gabe go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups. Head over to PsychCentral.com Show’s official Web site PsychCentral.com/bsp you can e-mail us at [email protected]. Thank you for listening and share widely.

Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts

GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com.MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.Podcast: Dwelling on the Past Mistakes Caused by Mental Illness

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