As much as we want to believe it’s gone, it isn’t

It’s May, and mental health awareness month has started. Every year I look forward to the social media programming: the people who share stories of recovery, those receiving support for their current struggles, and the community of providers on social media sharing amazing mental health content. I feel so much solidarity with all of these groups because I’ve been one of them at some point in my life.

As a psychotherapist and someone who identifies as a wounded healer, I feel so honored to witness others’ stories, especially on social media. Even just a few years ago, some people wouldn’t…


Different strokes for different folks

Introduction

In the psychiatric community, borderline personality disorder (BPD) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) tend to be spoken in the same breath. Diagnosed with BPD? Then you need to enter DBT treatment. I was one of those individuals for whom DBT was the first-line treatment when I was diagnosed with BPD in 1990, following my second suicide attempt.

According to the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEABPD), “BPD can be defined as a serious mental illness that centers on the inability to manage emotions effectively. …


Finding connection in a lonely world.

Since the beginning, humans have needed others — regardless of gender, ethnicity, or geographic location, we are social creatures. Quality relationships make us happier, healthier, and more productive. Social support buffers stress and fulfills an important psychological need to belong and feel accepted by others.

In an ideal, harmonious world, we would all enjoy plenty of health-protecting relationships, but that is not the reality for many. A startling number of people struggle with loneliness. …


They never said it out loud, but it’s clear people liked me better when I was sick

Driving alone on the way home from running errands, I totally zoned out. Listening to the music and seeing the setting on the horizon in front of me, I wondered, wouldn’t this be the way to go?

For a brief moment, an intrusive thought reared its ugly head, and I pictured what it would be like to zoom full-speed into a tree. Could I stay focused on the music and the beautiful view before hearing the crash-boom-bang of metal against the tree? Would it hurt, or would it just be dark on impact?

The guilt and terror of even considering…


No one is 100% happy all of the time

On the surface, sadness, or the idea of sadness, seems fairly straightforward. You may feel down, cry a little or want to be left alone. However, I’ve discovered some deeper, underlying important lessons about sadness, things I have uncovered over many years.

Mental health conditions run in my family. At a young age, I remember asking my mother what her small white tablets in the cupboard were. It turns out they were vitamin D, something I was told combated ‘SAD’ and helped to uplift you.

I grew up believing I was one of those unlucky few that felt sadder than…


It isn’t easy or fun (mostly), but we still have to do it.

A photo of four teen boys sitting on the beach with their backs to the camera
A photo of four teen boys sitting on the beach with their backs to the camera

Very few people actually enjoy talking to others about mental health. It’s a subject that we put off dealing with; we make excuses, we insist we’re fine. All of that seems easier than actually facing it head-on. Like many difficult subjects, it would be much easier to handle if we just talked about it more.

The funny thing is, mental health isn’t the same as mental illness or distress. I’ve heard several people say they have ‘mental health,’ or someone they know does, and I want to say ‘Of course you do, we all do’. In the same way as…


We need to abolish the perfect attendance award while we’re at it

It was dark and dim within the usually well-lit auditorium. An invisible fog clouded everyone’s already teary eyes. The only sound in the room was the shuffling of the principal’s feet. In what was undoubtedly one of the most challenging moments of his career, he had to deliver the news to his students that their friend and classmate took his own life the night before.

I spoke with the student the day prior about his grades. His mom called the meeting to make sure he was on top of all of his work. He had an A- in my class…


Truly addressing all facets of the medical diagnosis of addiction is imperative to successful recovery

There is a little-known and little addressed stigma in the recovery community, and in the medical community surrounding what actually defines sobriety.

Sobriety from substances traditionally has called for complete abstinence from all substances altogether, excluding caffeine and nicotine…which I find very interesting.

The twelve step programs so many recovery groups use, have their roots in Alcoholics Anonymous’ whose mantra is that to be truly sober means that a recovering addict uses absolutely no substance whatsoever to be considered “clean.”

This is a dangerous theory causing devastating overdoses and swift return to addiction for many addicts who sincerely seek to…


How a feelings wheel is helping me overcome alexithymia

When I was heavy drinking in my 20s I used to joke that I was dead inside. I thought this was funny because I didn’t really believe it was true. I was a Class A softy who would spend half an hour rescuing a bee without a second thought. I joked I was dead inside because I never cried. Even when my beloved grandfather died I found myself unable to feel the grief of it. How could he be dead? He was my sweet and silly granddad!

My numbness didn’t worry me — I didn’t even notice it (numbness if…


If nothing but fear is stopping you, why wait?

Records show around only 0.6% of the world’s population is on the Bipolar Spectrum, but I wasn’t surprised when my doctor gave me the diagnosis. It was me who asked if maybe I could be before she said, “yup, you tick every box.”

I’m not sure what boxes the good doctor meant. All I did was answer her questions honestly. But I was happy, even if I didn’t quite understand. To diagnose Bipolar disorder, she performed a General Behavior Inventory (GBI) and led me through a Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) as part of a Structural Clinical Interview. Even with all…

Invisible Illness

We don't talk enough about mental health.

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