I sat in the little exam room. I had diagnosed myself with three separate diseases. But most likely to blame for my recent dizzy episodes and various other symptoms was a thyroid disorder, or possibly anemia.
I walked my doctor, who I sometimes call Dr. Doogie for reasons you can imagine or look up, through all of my symptoms. He listened politely, and then said I was most likely going through menopause.
Of all the thousands of medical conditions in the world, this was the last I expected to hear.
I was 41 at the time (I’m now 42). Menopause?
He assured me it was normal for anyone over 40 (although after researching it further, I learned it’s somewhat less common for people my age). …
Many people have heard of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. It’s sometimes used by counselors to help with depression, anxiety, and trauma, but it can be helpful for almost anyone. When it works, it can seem a lot like magic!
I agree it is magic-like, and it’s also scientific. I find it amazing myself that something like changing our thoughts can help us with physical symptoms like feeling tired, queasy, or shaking in fear!
CBT therapy techniques, especially when practiced over time, actually rewire the brain to think differently. This can change your mood in the short-term as well as long haul. …
In my own mind, I feel most at home when my brain is working out a creative problem. Sometimes it starts with a general feeling of, “That can’t be done,” and moves into, “But what if I could do it?”
Then my brain gets to wondering how. To me, that’s the genesis of creativity.
I noticed that I enjoy many hobbies and challenges, including writing, painting, or working with my clients as an anxiety and trauma therapist. All of these bring me joy and satisfaction.
And with each of these, I learned how to induce the flow state. Flow is that feeling that you’re so totally into something, you lose track of everything else. This idea of the flow state is often covered in principles of positive psychology and happiness. …
Hawaii’s shifty rainbows taught me a lesson about wanting and waiting.
In 2003, I took a solo trip to Hawaii. I picked my trip largely so that I could get a close-up look at the state’s famous rainbows.
Rainbows had taken on a sacred meaning in my life. They represented peace, healing, and a spiritual connection. On my 8-hour flight to the Big Island on my 25th birthday, I never doubted the rainbows to come.
To illustrate my confidence in these many sightings to come, here’s some background. Hawaii has more rainbows than most other places due to the ideal combination on the islands of rain, mist and sunlight. …
Use This Equation: Think, Feel, Question, Heal
Recent research suggest that adults in America are struggling significantly with mental health symptoms since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In a post-pandemic CDC study, respondents reported high levels of anxiety, trauma-related symptoms, and increased alcohol and substance misuse.
Interestingly, all of these symptoms can overlap with each other. Anxiety is one part of acute stress and post-traumatic stress symptoms. And, many people use alcohol to avoid anxiety and other feelings, and to cope with mental health symptoms. …
Each year, I anticipate the first week of August. Since 2013, I’ve spent these days making crafts out of feminine hygiene products, donating to charitable causes, and helping my friends embarrass themselves.
It’s all part of a strange and unique charity event called GISH. It used to be called GISHWHES, and stood for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. Now it’s just GISH.
During GISH, participants complete strange creative challenges, such as creating sculptures out of tampons, or kind ones, such as donating supplies to a local women’s or children’s shelter.
In full disclosure, you’re reading one of those challenges right now. It’s #42 on the 2020 list, and it’s worth 21 points. “What is GISH? We’re not exactly sure, but we sure want to read what you think it is. Write a 250–500 word essay and have it published…
I first read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead in the summer of 2016. It was an Oprah’s Book Club pick featured on NPR’s Fresh Air. I was so eager to read it I couldn’t wait for the local bookstore to get it in stock. I bought the ebook.
Perhaps I’m not the only privileged white woman who’s a sucker for Oprah’s book picks and NPR author interviews. This recommendation certainly didn’t disappoint.
There have been many pieces of fiction and fact based in our dark past that I feel skirt around the edges too much. …
You get upset. He blows up. She shuts down. The next day you can’t even remember why it bothered you so much.
We’ve all been there, even therapists (we’re no more immune than anyone else). Here’s what I tell my clients about trauma and relationships, and the ways it can impact your day-to-day interactions with each other as well as your long term relationship.
Many people in intimate relationships experience emotional flashbacks. In his book Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, Pete Walker describes emotional flashbacks like this: “You feel little, fragile and helpless. Everything feels too hard. Life is too scary. …
Are you struggling with symptoms like anxiety, hypervigilance, painful memories, nightmares, depression, avoidance and shameful thoughts and feelings? These are a set of symptoms that can make life miserable and may be caused by post-traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD). As a therapist, this is the area I specialize in and treat. Anyone can develop PTSD, and with years of training and experience, I believe anyone can overcome it.
There are many reasons that PTSD symptoms might persist over time. Here are some possible reasons you or someone you care about may still be suffering.
Many well-meaning therapists are able to help somewhat with PTSD symptoms, but may not be trained in or using the most effective methods. However, in recent decades, the mental health field has nearly perfected a few types of therapy that are shown to work. While they might not solve all of life’s problems, repeated research shows they alleviate the worst of PTSD symptoms for most people, typically within 2 to 4 months. For adults, these include cognitive processing therapy (CPT), prolonged exposure (PE) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) recommends those with PTSD consider these therapies. For kids and teens, the gold-star treatment is trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, or TF- CBT. …