If You Know Someone Who Resists Getting Help, Bruce Springsteen's Book Could Make A Difference

Yes, I am a crazy big Bruce Springsteen fan and have been since 1978. The memoir Born to Run is not really a trip through musical fandom wonderland. As a psychotherapist, I love this memoir and I highly recommend it because Bruce Springsteen is a HUGE advocate of seeking and using mental health support.
As I turned the pages, he explains how his father's undiagnosed schizophrenia affected him growing up. He also explains how his father's illness affected his mom and sister. I was deeply moved by his compassion for his mom and his dad as he figures out how ill his father is. he details the difficult road to getting help for his father.
Bruce could have stopped there, but he didn't. He courageously also describes his own harrowing experiences with depression, the life saving difference medication made, and his fierce lifelong commitment to stay in therapy.
I love this memoir because he honestly describes the road not of self-destruction and drugs, but instead, what it takes to …

What to do during a Mental Health Emergency

I am writing this on the heels of a very difficult week. This week I was reminded how hard it is to know what to do during a mental health emergency.
People break.
Anyone can break. No one knows their stress-load and how much they can take. 
When a person breaks, they start saying completely crazy off the wall things. They don't sound like themselves. It is as if they aren't inside their bodies.
They hear voices, they imagine people are out to get them, they say things that make no sense. One minute they are talking about one thing and the next minute they are crouching on the floor to avoid being seen by a crow in the tree.
If you are around someone who breaks, the word we call it is psychosis. Psychosis can happen when someone is very depressed, or very manic, or if they are schizophrenic.
If you are with someone who is having a psychotic episode, please know the person can be very dangerous to themselves and other people.
They may never be the kind of person that would hu…

Traumatic Trump Disorder

If you have ever lived with someone who abused you, as a child or adult, or lived with someone who was paranoid and believed things that weren’t real but were convinced in their truth, so convinced they raged at any disagreement - then, you may be experiencing some trauma triggers. You in fact be feeling ill. Very ill.
Even people who aren’t survivors of abuse are feeling stunned, overwhelmed, and ill.
But I want to return to the people who have actually grown up and lived in households where you were raged at, confronted with paranoid delusions, and feared for your life if you disagreed with the person.
You are not crazy. You know what you are seeing. You may feel have difficulty expressing what you are feeling.
I want you to know a few things.
This is very scary. People are organizing and resisting this. You do not have to fight. You probably fought your whole life. It is ok to try and take care of yourself right now.
You do not need to take care of the whole country and the whole…

More Money for Mental Health to Stop Gun Violence?

As a therapist, I have had the "get the guns out of the house" conversation many times. But here's the thing: it's not the person who is suicidal or severely depressed or angry that scares me most. It's usually their loved ones, the people who are not having a mental health issue, who need help understanding that they must remove the guns from the house. Rarely do people make the connection between their fear for the mental stability of someone and the guns laying around that need to be removed.

Here are some real conversations I have had with people:
"Your teenager is not stable enough to clean the guns."
"Your unlocked closet is not a safe place to hide the guns."
"Because the gun is only for hunting, doesn't mean he won't shoot a person."
"Alcohol and pain meds impair judgment. I am worried about what this person will do to you with the gun."

We need a massive media campaign to educate people on the connection b…

Vitamin D and Your Mental Health

I am not a medical doctor, but the truth is that when I treat anyone experiencing depression or anxiety, I do send him or her to his or her primary care physician to check on a few basic things.
I request some tests to check: thyroid, blood sugar (glucose),  and Vitamin D and a few other things.

If you live in the northwest, or if you eat a vegan diet, you should check your Vitamin D level.
Research has shown people living in the northwest are not getting enough sunlight on their skin and are often very low on Vitamin D.
Insufficient levels of Vitamin D can affect your mental health.
Will more Vitamin D cure your depression?
It could make a very big difference, but anyone experiencing depression will need a more comprehensive strategy.Vitamin D will absolutely need to be part of the strategy if your Vitamin D level is low.
I have seen low Vitamin D levels in several people coming to me to get relief from depression. Enough to make me check everyone.
You don’t need to be depressed to …

See the documentary FED UP

Why am I writing about this?

Weight is an issue that people often want to work on in therapy.
How does therapy impact weight?
It doesn’t.No one ever lost a pound in my office from talking.
However, therapy can help you make a plan, work on motivation issues, reduce stress, reduce overworking, increase self care and develop skills needed to make decisions and follow through with your plan, and other issues that may be impacting your food choices.
Working with a therapist can help you customize a plan for you.Sometimes a therapist will help you build a team and use a holistic approach with psychotherapy to address specific issues in your life and maybe involve a nutritionist, healthcare provider, trainer, physical therapist, books to read, movies to watch, etc.
Sometimes there are issues to address around how you support yourself to face such a big challenge.
Most people suffer from weight issues for 4 reasons: a)Addiction to sugar b)Eating too much c)Needing exercise to use food mor…

What Happens Next? Understanding Trauma

I am writing this in support of the many families and employers putting the pieces back together after a shooting in a high school.
It has been two weeks since the shooting, and the last child in critical care, passed away last night. Every child passing away, has torn our hearts open with grief. The grief is enormous. This is a time for tears.
And each time we grieve, we need to again find some way to hold ourselves together when we aren’t sure we can.
Our previous traumas may reopen and we seem to be lost in an old, but familiar place. A place that we thought had passed. It did pass, we did heal, but then we aren’t sure. The grief and sorrow can only be felt. That is all we can do with it. Feel it. It is like the weather. You can’t go outside and make it stop raining. You can’t ‘control” the grief. You just feel it. It holds on until is ready to let go. You can’t make it pass.
Sometimes people want to make the grief pass quicker or just go away. Getting angry or frustrated at grief…