Checking Up Versus Building Intimacy

Moodsurfing has often focused on improving the quality of intimate relationships, in a therapy session today I explored with a young woman the difference between checking up on her partner and building a more intimate and connected relationship. Early in a relationship it is pretty common to have anxiety about the other person. Are they really committed to the relationship, …

Alone or lonely

Alone or Lonely

Why is there such a difference between being alone or lonely? Sometimes there’s nothing more desirable than to take a break from a good hectic and demanding life in order to enjoy some peaceful solitude. And other times the idea of being alone taps into a terrible fear that perhaps we are unlovable. Several years ago I was sitting with a …

Crazy talk

Dealing with Crazy Talk

When an elderly father starts to accuse his caring daughter of being devious, this sudden change in their relationship is what I call “crazy talk.” It can happen in almost any relationship, and it is hardest to deal with when it takes place in a very close relationship. A common reaction is to feel that it is important to convince …

relationship breakup

Relationship Breakup – Nancy

Are you in a relationship breakup?  Breaking up can be a real “moodsurfing time” in ones life – ups are more up and downs are more down.  The loss of a marriage or intimate partnership can feel like a death in the family, and you have to give yourself permission to grieve the lost relationship, even as you look forward …

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 …

Cynical Hostility

Cynical Hostility

Cynical hostility is a personality style of cynicism and anger mismanagement in social relationships. Sometimes called chronic anger, it is associated with mistrust and weakened social support networks. In a recent study, researchers from France and University College London looked at data from a long-term study of 3,399 British civil servants. Those in the top 25% of cynical hostility levels were over four-and- a-half …

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 …

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 …

It Takes Two to Fight

“I just can’t believe what my mother told me on the phone, she said I was a bad mother, can you believe it? I wasn’t going to put up with that, believe me…” A delightful and pretty feisty mother came in the other day brimming with frustration. We spent the entire session talking about how she got derailed from a …