For twenty years I kept a journal in which I wrote about heartbreak, anxiety, and addiction. It was my only outlet from my pain, my way to give voice to my fears. But today my journal entries reflect an empowered woman who is happy and bleeds authenticity. I’ve overcome my addictions to love, drugs, food, work and fear. I worked hard, and man, was it worth it. What changed?
Twenty years ago I came across an art magazine article with a striking black and white photograph of a large Asian urn sitting on a pedestal, with a long crooked crack down the middle. The crack was highlighted by gallery lighting! Huh? It did not compute. The headline read “The Art of Wabi Sabi.”
During dinner with my kids recently my son got a text message. He choked back tears as he told us that a friend had committed suicide. Earlier this year, on Mother's Day, a 16-year-old friend of my daughter's took his life while at their boarding school. Neither of these young men appeared to be depressed or at risk of ending their lives. Their devastated families and friends are left with unimaginable grief, unanswered questions, and, most likely, a measure of guilt over what they did or didn’t do that might have contributed to, or prevented the tragic death of their loved one.
Depression impacts 11.2 percent of 13 to 18 year olds in the U.S. according to the National Institute of Mental Health, and 3.3 percent have experienced seriously debilitating symptoms of depression. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 3.7 percent of children between the ages of 8 and 15 have a mood disorder, with girls being diagnosed more frequently than boys.
Depression sucks. Sorry to be so honest, but I'm a therapist and that's my job. When you're depressed, nothing sounds good, your body aches like you have the flu, you feel like the most worthless human being on the planet, and you just can't stop crying. If you are depressed, you might be suffering from some or all of the following symptoms: loneliness, paralyzing fear, racing heart and thoughts, achy body, headaches, stomach aches, insomnia, sleeping all day, annoying your friends and family with your negative view of the world, or being consistently angry with yourself for feeling stuck in a dark hole. Oh, and also being a lousy partner in a relationship.
Depression. Just the word itself is depressing, and it carries all manner of stigma from Debbie Downer to nervous breakdown. Who wants to be depressed? More to the point, who wants to be labeled as depressed? The answer to both of these questions is obvious to most, yet so many people are in denial about the magnitude and implications of their depression.
Divorce is said to be one of the most profoundly painful experiences that a human being can survive. It's often tied to a profound fear that the pain will never end. It's been compared to the stages of death because the experience is often one of not only losing your marriage, but also, yourself. It reaches out and changes not only the couple, but also the children, family, friends, business associates, and overall community that make up the interwoven support system of the couple. As a marriage and family therapist and a divorce survivor, this article comes from firsthand personal and professional experience with divorce recovery.
Relationships are kind of like therapy—they bring all your dirt to the surface so you can work through it and move beyond it. This makes perfect sense because relationships and therapy have the same purpose: growth. Therapy is especially hard in the beginning because you’re becoming aware of all the dirt you’ve been hiding under the surface for so long. Therapy doesn’t create the dirt, it just shines a spotlight on it.
As parents, we must engage in many unpleasant and difficult situations. It's the tough talks that our children remember. Explaining death is one of those topics. Our kids are exposed to death each day. Listen to the new, or watch cartoons in the morning and you will find yourself astonished by all the violence and references to death. Our children have become somewhat desensitized by death until it happens to a pet, a family member or a national crisis such as what happened ten years ago on September 11.
Parental Panic: How to Manage When the Script’s Been Flipped You pride yourself on your parenting skills. You have studied well and followed all the basics. Your amazing kids are living proof that all your hard work has paid off. When you are not in the role of ‘Parent Extraordinaire’ you love to hang out with your friends and, well, have a little fun. And okay, maybe once in a blue moon you may over do it just a tad, but it is not like you make it a habit. Nothing wrong with that, right?