Is there a correlation between the rise of “hookup” sites like tinder and the increase in STDs? How do you ask your new partner about their sexual health? Or, are we just a more hyper-sexualized society that just throws caution to the wind when it comes to protecting ourselves? Well, I’m not quite sure which is the right answer. However, we can take a look at a smaller sample size in the state of California, more specifically the county of Los Angeles for some possible answers.
Current studies are indicating that theses stds, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have consistently been the highest infections in California. This a real concern! It is also a difficult conversation to have or bring up with your partner. Now I’m not going to dedicate this space to exploring our sexual health, rather, it is the psychological effect that contracting an STD has on a person that I want to address in this blog.
Have you considered what happens to a person when they learn that they have an STD? What I have witnessed take place with many clients is that suddenly their emotional state of mind becomes unstable, their anxiety rises, and eventually depression follows. Simply put, the dominoes begin to fall. Rarely, do I get the client when they are newly diagnosed, rather, they have already been battling the depression, anxiety, and accompanying stress for quite some time.
In reality, when people receive their diagnosis, life is never the same again. This is extremely difficult to wrap their heads around. Many times, this revelation of a sexually transmitted disease literally brings to light previously undetected, repressed, or eschewed mental illnesses.
On the opposite spectrum, my experience with some teenagers and some adults has been a interesting choice to pursue extreme sexual activity with the knowledge that they are suffering from the effects of their mental illness related to their contracted STDs. Remember, depression can cause isolation, break off connections and make one feel like they are the proverbial “island.” The psychological impact of contracting an STD is far greater than what you think, so please think and educate yourself, partner, friends, and your family. To help, their are a number of good studies written here that I suggest you read, so click HERE
With all the excitement surrounding the latest “Star Wars” movie, I thought it was only appropriate to start 2016 off right with wisdom from the green one. I remember it was 1980 something and I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico sitting in a theater, which had previously been a catholic church, watching the “Empire Strikes Back.” I was mesmerized, thrilled, and just could not wait to go out and get the action figures.
Well, as the years have gone by, I have found that there are some good messages/ teaching moments that can come from these movies. I still have a growing family, so I felt it was time to get everyone up to date on these sci fi classics. So, we all discussed the following:
“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”
“Difficult to see, always in motion is the future.”
This was actually a lot of fun and quite insightful as everyone had something to say that tied in with the movie and their life. So Parents, you might want to give this a try when the family is gathered around.
To read more of what Yoda says about these topics, click Here
This time of year brings with it cheer and anxiety especially when it comes to those end of year performance evaluations. Yes, the dreaded sit down with your boss to discuss, explain, and defend why you should get that (fill in the blank %) increase for all the blood, sweat, and tears that were expended during 2015.
It’s always about the numbers, isn’t it? Well it is especially true if you’re in sales and trying to reach the all to often unobtainable quota. I remember the stress I felt even in the good years when I exceeded my quotas. The mental anguish that led up to the meeting was horrible. The idle chatter was excruciating, then came the evaluation, section by agonizing section with numbers attached to each one rating my performance from positive attitude to quota attainment to conference call participation to timely submission of paperwork etc. I’m sure that your review was similar.
There were horror stories of some going on for three hours, others being let go during their review. Still, there were those reviews that caused arguments to surface, yet, none achieved the intended purpose to challenge and motivate the employee. Why is that? Interestingly, it has taken companies decades to realize (with the help of the psychologists) that these reviews have a negative impact on their employees mental wellbeing.
Two corporate giants have already taken a different approach to how they will evaluate their talent which will dramatically reduce the negative mental impact while fostering personal growth in a low stress environment. Conversations need to take place all year long. For that matter, coaching moments needs to happen too. You cannot expect to show up at years end and expect a motivational conversation to unfold. Again, If these discussions are taking place throughout the year, communication increases, plans are adjusted, anxiety is reduced, teamwork is nurtured, and goals are realized. The article provides some valuable insight on what performance reviews actually do to employees receiving them…
Want to know if their review will be excellent, average, or poor then click HERE
Interesting title, isn’t it? Did you realize that 4 in 10 people (40%), in our population will experience some sort of loneliness at different times in our lives? It hurts, it feels empty and cold. However there is an important distinction between feeling lonely and being alone. Understand that there are people who feel alone and really are alone. On the other hand, there are those people who actually choose to be alone, but, are not really alone.
Of course, we have all either been left alone, experienced the feelings of being alone, or possibly both simultaneously during some point in our lives, right? I think back to when I had to relocate to a new state and when I had to start different jobs throughout my career. I did not know anyone which really caused a lot of anxiety and those ugly feelings of loneliness took a toll on me. Naturally, these experiences can produce solitude and loneliness. So, if we are not careful, these feelings can have a negative impact on our physical health, as well.
Now, I want to point out that there is both a medical and psychological element attached to this discussion that I will touch upon. We do know that being alone, which we often refer to as solitude, can arouse one’s artistic talents and boost our concentration, yet, there is a frightening effect on your health. Mind, body, and our ageing process are all negatively affected when we socially isolate ourselves.
Scientists have identified that our loneliness is tied to our genetic makeup. More specifically, those who experienced what we call “chronic loneliness,” their genes expressed a distinct pattern that produced inflammation in their immune system. So, what does that really mean? Well, it means that lonely people have a higher probability of dying earlier because their immune system is not strong enough to fight off infectious diseases.
Psychologically, the impact is just as uncomfortable. Loneliness can lead to a mood disorder widely recognized as depression. It can wreck one’s self-esteem. Confidence becomes fleeting as the tentacles of loneliness squeeze any and all feelings that one might yet have regarding being worthy of the attention of others.
If you sit back and really think about it, we as a collective society are are a social bunch. We are wired to be that way since we were kicking to get out of the womb! We really do need to interact with each other to feel connected, be alive, and progress. Just as important, is cultivating an environment around yourself with those who you can mutually enjoy meaningful relationships with are, at least in my opinion, the best medicine. Enjoying a life that you can be content with, active in, and flourishing is in itself the treasure of being connected.
I’ve seen a tremendous number of clients who have come to me seeking understanding and healing either during or after serious life events. Sadly, some of these client’s relationships go painfully the way of divorce. However, most are at that point in their relationship where they realize that help is needed or there won’t be one.
So, what are “Life Events” and have you experienced them?” Well chances are, yes, you have! Here are the biggies: Chronic Illness (like Cancer), Unemployment (job hunting), Childbirth (who wanted the baby more), Living Apart (thinking about our men and women in the military being deployed), Trauma (could be death of loved one, serious accident, sexual assault etc), and Unfaithful partners. You’d be very surprised, but, this last one seems to be the motivating factor in bringing couples in for therapy. All the cards are laid on the table so to speak and everything can now be addressed openly and with honest candor.
These life events are terribly painful, deeply personal, they drain our mental capacities, and tax us physically. The truth is that none of us will be able to leave this life without experiencing most of these “Life Events.” Did you realize that there are also “turning points” with regard to these events, as well. Let me explain. A turning point is not just a temporary change in our pathway, no, it is a permanent shift that only becomes recognizable to us as our life moves forward.
The psychological impact can be profound or subtle depending on our understanding of the turning point. Some of us may well experience a turning point that brings to us a much needed opportunity, or possibly brings one to a close. Others life events may create an environmental transformation that is more permanent. Still, one may feel that their life event has caused their turning point to be so deeply personal that it has provoked a complete restructuring of their self-worth, belief system, and expectations for themselves and the world around them. However, let’s remember that for in many of us these life events cause a turning point in many individual’s lives, yet, for some it may be less severe and therefore the transition doe not transform them.
Life events can bring upon us stress, anxiety disorders, depression and physical illness. Importantly, all of the life events that we will experience do require some form of change or adaptation by us. It can be unpleasant or pleasant. However, these can be valuable life lessons, as well. Can we ask ourselves, “What can I learn from this, and what can I share with others about my personal experience that might help them?” If you are in pain, thinking that you are suffering from depression, anxiety or another psychiatric disorder, get help. You don’t have to do this alone…Be well.
Ok, a very interesting clinical study has been conducted that claims to be accurate in predicting our sexual orientation by how we are genetically wired.
Apparently, these researchers have put together a formula that essentially relies on identifying a person’s molecular markers. This really is fascinating and probably quite controversial, as well. If you are wondering have they discovered a “gay gene,” the answer is no, because one does not exist.
There is quite a bit of science at play here. For example, changes in our genetics are passed on from one generation to the next, or these can made in the form of a living fetus, a child conceived that transitions from adolescence into adulthood. The key concept here is epigenetic changes, basically how our genes express themselves. Ok, I know that some of you are already bored…moving on
The bottom line is that a biological basis for partner selection exists. Are you interested in learning about the psychosexual impact that this has on male fetuses, click HERE…
A couple of weeks ago I was intrigued by a frontline sensationalized article in a european newspaper. This online news source was breaking the news that a famous celebrity had HIV, but, was refusing to come forward for fear of the consequences to his career, costly lawsuits, and hatred and vitriolic dialog that would surely come from his announcement. The article was very descriptive and in telling that many famous actresses in hollywood, international models, TV stars, male and female porn stars had sexual encounters with this person. Adding to this, the pressure to come forward now and confess his acts.
Admittedly, I did wonder who it might be, yet, I thought this person was probably really agonizing over this decision and hoped he or she was seeking professional help. However, this article furthered my thoughts on what I could do to be a resource for people like you and me who have contracted HIV.
We all know now that Charlie Sheen is that famous celebrity who has contracted HIV. I watched his interview with Matt Lauer on the TODAY show and found it to be very insightful. I believe it was a smart move bringing in his personal physician who’s been treating him to explain the difference between HIV and AIDS. Let me pause here, if you did not watch the interview or read the transcript let me point this out, HIV is a virus that leads to AIDS. Charlie Sheen is HIV positive, however, he does not have AIDS! That is a very important part of his story that is being misunderstood.
What I look at are the underlying mental health issues that lead one to make harmful personal choices, put their health and others in danger, cope by way of addictive behaviors. Charlie was depressed. He self medicated with harmful drugs, toxic levels of alcohol, numerous hypersexual liaisons with prostitutes, celebrities, models, and porn stars of both genders. His angry tirades, non-sensical monologues (remember “tiger blood”), and erratic behavior went viral. He was a media sensation, a tabloid punching bag for months, and one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, as well.
I’m certainly not excusing his lifestyle choices, however, what I take issue with is that he was forced (blackmailed) to reveal his illness to the world. In the age of the internet, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat we are in everyone’s business. Personal lives aren’t! Social media is just that, social. Let’s step back a moment and think about this, would you want people to know you have a mood disorder, HIV, prone to long episodes of depression, suffer with paralyzing anxiety that build to spontaneous panic attacks? How about your employer finding out that you have OCD so severe that the compulsions cause you to take an inordinate amount of sick days? What about them finding out that your ADD is so bad that you have a habitual pattern of not being able to complete tasks, meet deadlines, or stay organized? You get my points, right?
This is bigger than Charlie Sheen, HIV and AIDs are very serious and continue to deserve our attention, but, not in this type of public forum. This a very personal struggle. Certainly, we can show compassion for the pain he’s in and he needs to be freed from the haters, opportunists, and blackmailers so he can concentrate on his health. At some point he’ll be able to put HIV in the RIGHT spot light. My hope is that we can be respectful of one another’s privacy, as we would like the same for ourselves.
Sometimes I feel like I cannot write a single sentence unless it’s grammatically perfect. The screen sometimes remains blank for quite a while for fear I’ll say something that might be misunderstood. Wait, is that a smudge on the screen, got it, that’s better. Hold on a minute this keyboard feels dirty…I just need to clean that up too, yeah that’s much better. Now where was I? Ah yes, I was putting my colored pencils in order from brightest to darkest colors, I think. Wait, I need to go wash my hands again.
Does this sound like you, or someone you know? Do you find yourself unable to let unwanted thoughts go? Maybe you perform some rituals like counting, checking, or washing your hands in an attempt to control your thoughts. It’s not helping though, is it? These rituals are compulsions and the unwanted thoughts that you cannot let go of are obsessions. These compulsions (rituals) can become so intrusive that your life begins to revolve around these rituals. This is what we call impairing your daily functioning.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I find, is often an under reported and underdiagnosed disorder. OCD typically develops in early adolescence and can be easily overlooked as quirky behavior. However, as children grow into their teens the obsessive thoughts and compulsions become more obvious to those most closest to them. I find that my clients have become expert at masking their symptoms to the outside world, but, it takes a terrible toll on their self-esteem, happiness, and as a result they really struggle to find meaning in their lives.
However, there is hope, there are tools, and there are medications that can all help you manage these symptoms of OCD. Remember, as with everything in life it will take consistent effort, patience in the process, a trusted therapist, a good psychiatrist, and family support. You must see the process through to the finish. There is guilt and shame to work through, as well. At times, you may battle the ugliness of depressive feelings, or debilitating symptoms of anxiety. Take heart, you will get through this with a good therapist, learned tools, family support, proper medication, and perseverance. I have witnessed this time and again with my clients! So, do your research and become educated. Please do not beat yourself up, but, do get help!
Have you seen those commercials where two women are sitting at a table in one of their backyards, or walking side by side in a public park? Well, the conversation plays out like this, one women says to her friend, “Tom and I just found out Jenny has been doing drugs,” then comes the awkward pause. Her friend finally says, ” oh it’s probably just a phase, she’ll grow out of it.” Pan the camera to Jenny’s mother, yep, she has a stunned look on her face. The other scenario in the park plays out in a similar manner. As I said, they are walking, but then one woman stops and says (with a painful look on her face) ” We discovered that Jimmy(her son) has been stealing Bob’s(her husband) pain medication.” Again, the awkward pause, then her friend leans in and hugs the woman (who is not sure what is happening). The commercial ends with her friend awkwardly continuing their stroll without saying a word.
The above commercials, which are quite dated, serve to illustrate my topic. “Learn what to say to people who are depressed.” The above scenarios related to learning how to talk about drugs. I wish to address how we need to speak to coworkers, friends, and family members who are dealing with or we suspect are depressed. It seems that the stigma continues with regard to depression, however, as more celebrities come forward, the public appears to become more comfortable about discussing this topic and recognizing its effects.
Let me just say that depression is a battle. I treat a lot of depressed clients. I equate depression to a psychic blow that is so intense and emotionally paralyzing that you cannot fully understand unless you have been depressed. Sensitivity is critical, so, as my title illustrates let those you care about suffering with depression that you are there for them. Depression causes the sufferer to feel isolated, lonely, (and depending on their depth of depression) numb as they have lost interest in the world around them. Suicidal thoughts begin to be more common in their everyday thoughts. Remember, if you say it, be there for them. So, check in because it matters to them.
Do you get stuck sometimes? Not sure what or how to encourage someone who is depressed…click HERE
I was cruising thru Hulu a few nights ago and clicked on the CNN app, a video of a South Carolina high school incident grabbed my attention. I was drawn to it. To my shock and utter amazement, I witnessed a police officer forcefully attempt to remove a female student from her desk, but in the process violently turned the desk over on top of her. He then proceeded to pull her out and continued beating her. This was all taking place as her classmates were watching (I’m guessing stunned, yet, some with their iphones catching it for posterity). What I also found distressing was that the principle and the student’s teacher were watching from the sideline this incident taking place.
Compounding this horrendous and violent situation, the officer was white and the female student was black. The nature of how this started and escalated to this violent degree is really incomprehensible. However, CNN was helpful enough to replay it nine (9) times for me in a matter of two (2) minutes. I think the media is so savvy at fueling our emotions and raising our anxiety, I could feel my anxiety really increasing to a point that I had to click away.
My point is that for an officer of the law to act in a manner that is so violent, atrocious, and really inhumane with very little provocation is unnerving. As a clinician, I immediately recognized an underlying mental health illness at play (of course, after I had calmed down). As this story gained national attention, it was revealed that this particular officer had two (2) previous violent incidents similar to this one. He was summarily put on leave and days later he has now been fired from the police force. I hope he gets help.
Trauma is not just confined to our brave and courageous men and women of the military, it is anyone who has suffered sexual or physical abuse, been in a serious accident, or life threatening situation. It is estimated that eight (8) million americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Many law enforcement officers suffer in silence with PTSD, as they are the front lines of protecting and upholding the peace. They witness and experience horrible things in our society that impact them dramatically. This is not an excuse for bad behavior, however, it does warrant better understanding of what goes on..
Do you want to know more, read on HERE