6 Types of Friends you need in your Life — Defying Shadows

This is a wonderful blog, and I particularly liked this post about friends. We tend to think of friends on a single dimension of “good” or “bad” but different friends meet different needs… My friends are one of the greatest blessings in my life. We have weathered many storms, and celebrated many victories. I learn from each of them on …

Coming Out Proud – Disclosure

Coming Out Proud is the name of a program that was developed Patrick Corrigan to help people with a “mental illness” think through the risks and benefits of disclosure, and come up with a strategy that not only fits their values but avoids some of the many pitfalls of greater honesty about bipolar or depression. The full program takes you …

New Spouse by Friday

I’ve been working with a very successful attorney who has been struggling to find a way to stay in his marriage for a couple of years.  The heart of the matter is that his wife had a serious health problem, which is now resolved. Through the process of dealing with this health problem she probably became depressed and certainly became …

Mindful Speech

Mindful speech seems to be in short supply these days. A pervasive sense of urgency about communication propels us into comments that we later regret. Rick Hanson reminds us of the words of Buddha, wise speech always has five characteristics. It is: Well-intended – Born of goodwill, seeks to support and strengthen rather than belittle and criticize.  True – Not overstated, taken out …

Connection and Support

Connection – Gina

Support and Connecting I think about the value of human connection a great deal in my work, especially when working with those with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. I am continuously reminded of the value that support plays in the lives of individuals in recovery both in relationship to addiction and mood disorders. There is a great deal …

Support a Loved One with Bipolar – Gina

Many family members I speak with struggle with the question of how to best support a loved one with bipolar. As a loved one, it can be incredibly stressful to battle with unknowns, one’s own anxiety and feelings of helplessness. People are understandably eager for information that can equip them with tools to help. I have found there are numerous things …

Support for Depression – How to Get More

Many of the people I see feel that it’s very hard to get support for their depression. They may find it hard to talk about the subject altogether or they may have had some experiences that suggests that “people just don’t want to know.” This morning I saw several people with depression and bipolar and what struck me was that …

Loving Someone Bipolar

Loving someone bipolar can seem like an overwhelming challenge at times. A quick survey of the internet combined with years of conversations with loved ones struggling to navigate the sometimes stormy waters, yields a great diversity of perspectives. Julie Fast, a well known bipolar writer, describes her experience living with her partner during a manic episode… Years ago, my much-loved …

Interpersonal Effectiveness and DEAR MAN

For many people with depression, it can be hard to find an assertive, but not hostile, way of dealing with conflict. Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) addresses many practical problems such as this with straightforward answers. This comes from the “Interpersonal Effectiveness” module of DBT. The acronym to remember is DEAR MAN: Describe Describe the situation in as objective …

Avoiding Heartbreak in a Relationship

An attractive, intelligent young woman asked me, “Why can’t he show me any love, what is wrong with me?” The two of them have been having a difficult time recently and she was feeling sad about how their relationship had changed in the last several months. She told me that she was in the shower crying about this when her partner …

4 Ways You Can Help a Loved One Cope with Addiction and Mental Illness

Mental illness and addiction co-occur more than some people may think. People with a mental illness are more likely to abuse substances while those with addictions are likely to either develop the symptoms of a mental illness or a full-blown mental illness. If there is someone in your life struggling with these two problems here are a few ways you …

Dealing with Denial

Someone you love is no longer the same. They may be moody, angry at times, irrational, paranoid or they may act in ways that are harmful to themselves or to you. Trying to help loved ones deal with this situation is one of the most perplexing and difficult things that I do as a professional. The boyfriend of a young …

Friends and Purpose

Maff Potts spent his professional life working with charities for the homeless in England. But he was frustrated that all of his work did not seem to be changing outcomes for the people he was working with. The result of his reassessment is a program that focuses on addressing what Maff feels are the two psychological problems that bedevil the homeless… …

Thankfulness – A Meditation

On this Thanksgiving 2015 we received a link to the section of Rick Hanson’s Foundations of Wellbeing course that talks about thankfulness and gratitude. Rick talks about how thankfulness and gratitude promote long term well-being, reduces anxiety, and improves mood. He introduces the notion that it is possible to grow this sense and change our own experience, and perhaps change …

Controlling Crazy Behavior

A young man came in and wanted to talk about his friend with bipolar, who, when he gets manic, can become uncontrollable. I said that the idea of controlling dangerous behavior can be problematic. The need to control someone else’s recklessness can lead towards confrontation and anger, which often does not work out well. I thought of the often repeated story …

Treating Mother’s Depression Helps Kids

Sometimes the very best way that mothers can help their children is by helping themselves. Fascinating study just published in the American Journal of Psychiatry by renowned psychologist Myrna Weissman adds to an extensive literature showing that maternal depression affects children in negative ways and that treating maternal depression can have profound benefits for the kids. In this article a …