All posts in Relationships

Gun Control or People Control?

SB StrongIt’s horrible, unthinkable, and now fear and paranoia has taken a firm grasp on our society. Senseless violence against coworkers who are befriended for a time, a facade if you will, only to be eventually and brutally gunned down in the name of radical Islam (ISIS)? “San Bernardino Strong,” not one citizen of this wonderful community wanted to be put on the global map this way. However, they will be forever remembered for this tragedy, and I believe this will only serve to embolden more terrorists like these two radicals to commit more violent killings.

Gun sales were already at record levels with the recent mass killings in France. Now, we have been hit on our turf, it is real! Handguns and rifle sales are surging with gun ranges reporting all time highs in activity. We want protection, to be ready and safe. Meanwhile the President argues that disarming the citizenry is the best way to proceed. Interestingly, a recent Pew research study revealed that 57% of Americans believe that owning a gun helps protect people from crime. That it is up 48% from last year!

Our country is changing as is our mindset. The psychological impact that kicks in is that of “self-preservation.” On one level, this is our capacity or desire to anticipate dangerous situations and to respond to the cues that anxiety provokes in each of us. Also, this approach to self-care means that we become more self assertive in protecting ourselves and those whom we care about. This may well be one of the primary motivational reason people are buying their very first guns.

Where do we go from here? the Muslim community leadership admits that they are conflicted about having to come out and apologize for every incident that takes place with one of their own. Their people are afraid to come out in public because of the perceived and very real scrutiny. I do recognize their feelings and this is a polarizing point of growing contentiousness. There is increasing talk of possible internment camps to monitor all of the muslims, like there were with the Japanese Americans during World War II here in the United States. I’m a student of World War II and have read and known survivors who have personally sat me down and explained the horrors and atrocities of the holocaust. These discussions bring personal feelings of disgust and provoke deep swells of troubling uncertainty. The muslim community must police themselves, if not, this will quickly become something none of us wants or can stomach… EVERY LIFE MATTERS!!!

 

 

More

Alone or feeling lonely?

alone on the roadInteresting 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.

 

 

 

 

More

“Life Events,” What do these mean?

Life EventI’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.

 

 

 

More

An Attitude of Gratitude

gratitude note padThere was a time in our country when the leaves changed colors and the air turned chilly we knew November was upon us.  Thanksgiving was the celebrated event and we tried to build gratitude and appreciation into our lives. Well, this week is Thanksgiving, but, the focus really has been turned towards “Black Friday” and revving up our retail energy for the Christmas season. Sadly, we have really just skipped through this holiday and treated it as a smorgasbord of over consuming food, 24 hour football viewing, and frenzied shopping! Yes, I too am guilty of all of the above. What has happened to appreciating this once great holiday of truly giving thanks Where has our “Attitude of Gratitude” gone?

From a psychological viewpoint, gratitude serves to really bring people closer to a like minded and more socially interconnected state of togetherness. Naturally, we feel more socially connected and supported which in turn the relationship becomes stronger and develops. Also, I suggest that we consider gratitude not as a tool, or strategy to be used for ulterior motives, but, it is a more profound appreciation for what we do have.

From a young age, I was taught to live in Thanksgiving daily and to show appreciation for what others did for me. If you think about it, gratitude is the act of being thankful, it causes the human soul to become humble. It’s because we acknowledge these acts of kindness,  times of selfless service, or caring from someone else who lifts our heavy heart and strengthens us.

Gratitude is not a public display, but rather in a quiet way, the expression and feelings that create in us a type of purification and mental healing from our life’s troubles and concerns. Some say the gratitude is the mother of virtue. Wasn’t it Shakespeare that said, “Who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”

I’m of the opinion, that the commemoration of Thanksgiving should last all year. As we approach Thanksgiving week 2015, maybe we should do a little homework (I know the kids are out of school) on this idea by really reflecting on what we should be thankful for in our lives.

 

 

More

Gay? It’s in the genes

male hand holdingOk, 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

More

“H I V, hard three letters.”

HIVA 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.

 

 

 

 

More

Depressed? I’m here for you.

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

More

Bigger is Better?

Jump for Joy

Jump for Joy

Here is a a little riddle for you, what do Chris Jenner (not referencing the media circus of the family), the Duggars (despite the recent scandal), and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have going on that other families don’t? I’m thinking, I’m thinking, okay…. that’s right each have large families, huh? Yes, it’s true if you want to be a happy parent(s) a large family needs to be in the cards.

Think you can’t do it, oh yes you can! When I was a young husband contemplating with my young wife the prospect of having children, I remember thinking, how can we afford to have children especially more than one? Another pressing concern was when was the right time to start having these little “sleep robbers.” Well, I sought the answers from wise fathers. First, they said, “You can never really afford children, but, if you wait till you think you can you’ll be retired and alone. Second, There is never a “right time to have children and when you’re there on the day they burst into this world, you’ll know what I mean.”

I joke with people who are surprised at the amount of children I have (6) that the odds are in my favor that at least one of them will take care of me when I’m old. It’s tough, I won’t candy coat it. We had four children under the age of five at one point. I changed diapers for a decade (that is 10 years for those of you who are numerically challenged like me). Then there were the 2 a.m. feedings and having to be at work by 6 a.m.. The lack of sleep for both of us was daunting. Our last was a premie (1 lb) arriving four (4) months early then spending 100 agonizing days in the NICU. My incredible wife drove 99/100 days for 3.5 hours round trip each day to be at that NICU with our baby. That was eight years ago, wow time flies and our little girl has blossomed, but not without a lot of health challenges of her own (forgive for being so personal).

There are many joys as well. Seeing them pull together, become independent, make good choices, they have stayed away from the pitfalls of drugs, alcohol, and porn addiction through much instruction, love, and attention. It take tremendous effort, time, sacrifice of your hobbies, time with the guys, and can be so draining, however the results produce happy parents and happy children.

Don’t believe for a second that I haven’t stumbled, tripped, fallen down, and been overwhelmed by the responsibility many times just trying to be a father of a large family. Thankfully, my wife has been our anchor, the stabilizing force through it all. She has taught me so very much! Still, if you are considering a large family, take heart, you can do it and the joy will be immeasurable!

See what science says about large families HERE

 

More

Enough is Enough!!!

-vester-flanagan-car-0828-medium-plus-169Do you see the pattern here? Unchecked and unmedicated mental illness leads to a transference of anger that builds to a delusion full of hate that ultimately leads to unprovoked senseless violence. We have witnessed this play out, yet again, this time in Virginia. Two co-workers just doing their jobs on an early summer morning that ultimately turned horrific and has gone viral with the hope of causing a race war from the shooter’s intent.

The psyche of america is wearing thin with the constant violence, hatred, and civil unrest that has become so prevalent. How are you handling it? What are you telling your children about it, or are they even aware of it?  Do you have a conversation about it with your partner, family etc, or is this topic avoided because it doesn’t affect you personally?

Tragically, this deals a psychic blow to the family, friends, and co-workers who knew Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Some, with time, therapy and possibly medication will come to terms with what has happened and move forward with their lives, but sadly, others will not be able to cope with this tragedy. As the investigation intensifies we discover a profoundly disturbed, psychologically impaired human being who was so angry, so hateful, deceitful, with no sense of accountability for his actions and no regard for human life.

Can you avoid this type of tragedy and recognize the signs? Start reading HERE

More

Who’s Better Than Me?

bookclub_narcissist1-tmagArticleWhat do  Kim Kardashian, Madonna, Oprah, Matthew McConaughey, and Kanye West all have in common? Well, besides all being celebrities, wealthy, influential, and pleasant on the eyes, what else? Yes, the world revolves around them…warmer. Ok, they all suffer from, or, rather enjoy the effects of narcissistic personality disorder. Surprised?  Yes, you have watched them on the red carpet, their movies, TV shows, videos, listened to their music, and peaked at their selfies, right? They are captivating and we pay a lot of attention to them which serves to fuel their narcissistic behavior.

We often excuse their behavior as just them being celebrities. Maybe we even secretly want to be them (you know who you are). Of course, we would never be in a relationship with someone that is so self serving that our needs don’t matter to them? Certainly not even consider having a marriage and children with a person with this kind of personality, no not me! Um, well, what happens if I did/do, I mean have? Now what do I do?

“To Stay or Not To Stay?” that becomes the difficult question especially if you think that you are suffocating in this type of a relationship. What about the children? Do you think that maybe your husband or boyfriend has it? Interestingly, studies indicate that 8% of males are narcissistic. Maybe  you suspect your wife, or, girlfriend might be a narcissist?  Well, just 5% of females demonstrate this personality disorder, thankfully! So really the question becomes multiple questions. Can and how do I heal from a separation or divorce from a narcissist? How do I comfort and heal my children? But first, you must define what a narcissist is…

To learn if you are living with one click HERE   

 

More