An App for Therapy? First Ever, and I am on It: Everbliss

There’s an app for that… How many times have you heard peoples say it.

An app for therapy and counseling? I actually thought of it and wondered about it before this new first ever Therapy App contacted me. Of course I wanted to be on it. I love finding the new trends in psychotherapy and evaluating them and getting on board right away because I really believe that therapy can be done through many means on the internet, especially Skype and VideoCalls as well as phone. To have an app on your phone and quickly schedule a convenient session — Brilliant.

It’s called Everbliss and it’s easy to use. To find out more about the therapists, I recommend looking them up and finding other profiles and seeing the therapist’s website and/or blog.

So I’m excited to be part of this new app and excited to try it out with new people. Change can be hard at times, but this is one new change of 2015 I am totally embracing!

I will write more about what it’s like to be on the app, without talking about anything confidential of course, just from the therapist’s point of view.

For therapists, it’s easy to put down your availability. And you can just say you are on right now if you are suddenly available. It’s great for when you get last minute cancellations and have some time to work on your schedule.

Also, this app allows for both short term quick therapy and long term relationships. For people who travel a lot this will be great. For now it’s only in NY state and California. Have a free conference room during a break at your job? You can have a session easily without having to wait until you’re home. Don’t like commuting to therapy? this app is for you too…

We will see what the future holds, and where this leads. I think it’s a great idea and will be a fascinating experiment in terms of using the internet and apps for relationships like the therapeutic relationship…

Finally! Psychology Today Changes Its Position On Conversion Therapy Ads

This is not my writing. I am quoting this email I received:

Psychology Today Changes Its Position On Conversion Therapy Ads

Posted: 03/04/2015

Therapists who offer the gay “cure” will no longer be allowed to advertise their services in the directory pages of Psychology Today, a magazine and website that includes profiles of tens of thousands of mental health professionals.
The news, announced Wednesday, is something of a turnaround for the company. On Tuesday, Charles Frank, who runs the organization’s directory of therapists, informed The Huffington Post that “We take care not to sit in judgement of others by allowing or denying individual participation” in the directory. While Psychology Today was not a “fan” of conversion therapy, Frank said, “the Therapy Directory cannot pick winners.”
The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, first pressed Psychology Today in February to remove all advertisements that purported to help gay people become straight through counseling, a practice that is roundly condemned by the mainstream mental health community. “By offering a venue for these medically-debunked practices, Psychology Today is lending them a veneer of credibility — propping up a fraudulent industry that takes advantage of vulnerable individuals, including children and families,” HRC spokesman Fred Sainz wrote in a letter to the CEO and publisher of Psychology Today.
Until Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign’s letter and subsequent phone calls had gone unanswered. But on Tuesday morning, HuffPost published a story on the saga. Less than four hours later, Frank announced the new company policy in a statement on the website: “The Therapy Directory has removed the individual whose profile included a discussion of conversion therapy. We have informed all Directory professionals that those whose profiles offer conversion therapy will be delisted.”
Frank has since removed five profiles that mentioned “reparative therapy,” another name for conversion therapy, from the directory’s nearly 80,000 profiles. “It took me a while to track them all down,” he told HuffPost in an email.

Jack Drescher, MD
Past President
Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry

Re-Blogging: Neurodiversity Quotes

Great quotations from a book that celebrates humanity as gifted over looking from a sickness framework. Let’s start the new year accepting all our gifts and imperfections that make us each unique…

Pride in Madness

I am currently reading, “The Power of Nurodiversity: Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain” by Thomas Armstrong. Each chapter starts with a quote and I would like to share a few with you.

Chapter 1, Neurodiversity: A Concept Whose Time Has Come

If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each human gift will find a fitting place. -Margaret Mead

Chapter 3, The Positive Side of Being Autistic

Some guy with high functioning Asperger’s developed the first stone spear; it wasn’t developed by the social one yakking around the campfire. -Temple Grandin

Chapter 5, The Gift of Mood

In my book The Noonday Demon, I wrote about how grappling with depression had given me strength and depth of character and said that…

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Highly Sensitive People (HSPs)

Here is some information about the Highly Sensitive Person and the big distinction between HSPs and people who are HSPs but also suffer from BPD. Being an HSP is not a diagnosis or illness; it describes a minority of people who process environmental and internal stimuli differently from the majority and who are very sensitive to their environment and have a different kind if inner life. Anyone who suffers from BPD as she says in the post, is naturally an HSP, not due to their difficulty with emotion regulation which is a large aspect of the disorder, but due to the sensitivity to others and the environment. Most but not all of us therapists and artists are by nature HSPs. I myself am one (a highly sensitive person). Read this post from”Make BPD Stigma Free to learn more:

MAKE BPD STIGMA-FREE!

You may have noticed that I have been posting quite a bit, both here and on my Facebook Page, about Highly Sensitive People or HSPs.  That’s because every person with BPD is an HSP, but not every HSP has BPD.  It is believed that BPD is caused by a HSP being brought up in an invalidating environment.

Dr. Elaine Aron has a test on her website to see if you are a HSP.  You can take the test here:  http://www.hsperson.com/test/  Dr. Aron has researched the trait of High Sensitivity and has even written a book on it called The Highly Sensitive Person.  She is currently trying to get funding for a documentary on High Sensitivity called Sensitive.  (Please see these posts:  http://makebpdstigmafree.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/sensitive-the-untold-story-on-vimeo/ and http://makebpdstigmafree.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/sensitive-the-untold-story/ )

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18 Struggles Of Having An Outgoing Personality But Actually Being Shy And Introverted

Due to many misunderstandings of what introvert and extrovert really mean, this post clarifies some of the misconceptions and reveals ways in which some people are balanced between the two. I personally don’t identify with it, but I do understand people mixing up not liking group gatherings, seeming open with “everyone” ( not really, just people I am comfortable with) and also feeling shy and not being seen as a shy person. We all have our quirks and some of us are very much one category or another and some are indeed mixed…

Thought Catalog

This… this is my soul song, people. This is my Vietnam.

1. You’re not anti-social, you’re selectively social.

2. At any given point, you have one (maybe two) best friends who are your entire life. You’re not a “group of friends” person. You can’t keep up with all that.

3. Social gatherings that are supposed to be “rites of passage” like prom and dances and other such typical nonsense is just… not for you. You don’t understand it. You want nothing to do with it.

4. When you do choose to grace a party with your presence, you are the life of it. You’re dancing on the table and doing body shots until 3 a.m.

5. … You then retreat into three days of complete solitude to recover.

6. You go out of your way to avoid people, but when you inevitably have to interact with them, you make it…

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This week’s post: Celebrities Help With Society’s Progress in Understanding Mental Illness

I am still interested in raising more questions about society’s views, perceptions, misconceptions, stereotypes and prejudices regarding mental illness, as well as asking, “How far have we come in a positive way?” because it is true that we are improving.

Let me make this post more reflective of some positive progress in our society in understanding mental illness. Recent disclosures of celebrities regarding their struggles have been invaluable. Like it or not, celebrities can have a huge influence on citizens’ thoughts and perceptions, regarding everything from attractiveness to mental illness. (Of course, Angelina Jolie’s recent public revelation about her double mastectomy has been instrumental in helping women cope with the possibilities of developping breast cancer, and I even know people who, after hearing about this, decided it’s about time I go get that mammogram I’ve been avoiding. How amazing and wonderful!)

Catherine Zeta Jones comes to mind as the most recent “celebrity confession” regarding serious chronic mental illness. She suffers from Bipolar 2 Disorder, which is less severe than bipolar 1, but her mere talking about her struggles and explaining them even went further to educate people, because the vast majority of people do not even know what Bipolar 2 is or about its existence, so one could argue that though she has a less severe form of Bipolar Disorder, she has been couragesous and invaluable in helping people understand how complicated Bipolar Disorder is and also even more importantly, that many people who have any form of Bipolar Disorder are able to function and contribute greatly to society. The mere fact that many individuals with Bipolar Disorder are “in the closet” about it at work and in other arenas, reveals how easily those people who are taking their medication and other treatments are able to “pass” as not having any type of mental illness.

Wow! How timely. I just googled her and bipolar and she has just the other day, emerged from going to a treatment facility for Bipolar 2. Here is the article in the LA Times:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/gossip/la-et-mg-catherine-zeta-jones-bipolar-treament-completed-20130523,0,2772184.story

Actually she first revealed her struggles with bipolar a while ago. In fact, she was “outed” in the fall of 2012 and discussed her struggles in her cover issue interview in InStyle magazine, so actually it should not have come as a shock that she sought out treatment very recently, as most people knew back in fall 2012, as InStyle magazine is pretty mainstream:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2012/11/13/catherine-zeta-jones-instyle-cover-helps-defuse-bipolar-stigma/1703053/

Zeta-Jones is not the first to discuss her struggles with mental illness and really help dispel a lot of stigma about it. I don’t usually like to quote from Wikipedia as it is so easy to just go there for info, and I like to cite a variety of websites, but they do have one of the most extensive lists of celebrities who have suffered from some form of schizophrenia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_with_schizophrenia

There are many celebrities who have talked about their battles with depression, whether as a teenager or adult. Kirsten Dunst was all over the news in August-November 2011 talking about her most recent bout with depression. I learned about it from watching of all things, the E channnel’s coverage of Celebrities with mental illnesses. This supposedly “superficial” channel about celebrities actually did a great show quite a while ago and extensively covered the range of disorders from eating disorders to depression to anxiety, bipolar and also drug/alcohol abuse. I just looked it up and it came out in 2008; I remember watching the show and I really thought it was a great way to help people understand mental illness and related disorders and see that wealth and fame have nothing to do with mental health. This is the summary of that show:

“Celebrity Crises: 10 Most Shocking Mental Disorders is an American television entertainment special produced by E! Networks which documents the mental trials and tribulations of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

The special originally aired in the USA on E! Entertainment on 22 August, 2008. It is 50 minutes long.
Synopsis

When Hollywood stars are diagnosed with a mental health ailment it’s big news. From rumours about Britney’s bipolar disorder to Heath Ledger’s bout with depression, phobias and mental illness are getting more attention.

But of course, mental illness can affect anyone. Close to 58-million Americans — about one in four adults — suffer from a mental disorder.

From eating disorders (Mary Kate Olsen) to depression (Heather Locklear, Kirsten Dunst, Mia Tyler, Jim Carrey, Heath Ledger), to cases where stars have harmed themselves (Christina Ricci – cutting) this one hour special will explore ten troubling mental disorders, with interviews from doctors, psychologists and the stars themselves.”

The show may not have been extensive and totally informative about all these disorders. Who could do that in 50 minutes? However, it was great in scope and just introducing these different issues to the public.

There are also people in politics who have a lot of power to help the public understand mental illness and decrease the stigma and shame. There are also pioneers in the mental health field, such as Kay Jamison, who is not only an expert on mood disorders but wrote a great memoir of her own struggles with Bipolar 1 Disorder, titled “An Unquiet Mind”. The fact that she is well known for her own “coming out” about her personal struggles, indicates we still have miles to go in decreasing stigma, as we see that in the field of mental health itself, the majority of psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists that suffer from any mental illness do not actually feel safe disclosing about their personal struggles. Another author and therapist who has written some great personal accounts of her own struggles is Lauren Slater. Her work is more on the edge and less well known to the general public, but she has written many interesting books about a variety of struggles.

So, in closing, I do believe that some of the best ways to educate the public about mental illness is through the mainstream media, whether it be a celebrity disclosing their struggles and talking openly about their treatment, or even films that attempt to focus on the topic, whether documentary TV shows like the one mentioned above, or the many biopics and fictions films about mental illness, such as the film “A Beautiful Mind” and the TV shows “Homeland”, “Six Feet Under” and “The Sopranos”, as well as numerous others. Even when such films or tv shows don’t give a totally accurate depiction of a specific mental illness (see my reviews of “Silver Linings Playbook,” they are still contributing to the more healthy dialogue that we need to have about this topic. A little misinformation is worth it if the subject at hand becomes more familiar to the general public and helps people view this topic with more compassion and less judgments…

“I thought that love would last forever. I was wrong.”

I feel I have to post something about today’s tragic events. My heart goes out to the parents and families whose little children are now dead, lost to them forever. There are no words for this tragedy, and no amount of words can bring back a dead 4, 5 or 6 year old. The empty hole of grief and loss will accompany a parent for the rest of his/her life, and for sure right now life itself is absolutely unbearable…

I picked up my own lovely 5 year old from school with a heavy heart, knowing that those parents have been robbed of this simple reuniting ritual, and robbed of their little child. I know there are no words, but poets sometimes know what to say to express the unbearable for the rest of us. I turn to the Auden poem I posted this week in relation to a discussion of death and funeral rituals. Here are the parts that pertain to today, written in April 1936:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffins, let the mourners come…

I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong…

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

This poem has come to me often at different times of death and loss. “For nothing now can come to any good.” True hard words. What kind of world do we live in that such unspeakable acts can happen? Even before today, I have been asking myself this over the last several weeks. I admit part of this came from TV. I randomly watched several episodes of Oliver Stone’s Showtime tv documentary about the untold history of the united states, filled with footage of World War 2 and then a lot about the first atom bomb. I reflected a lot about these scenes and words. How human history is a long unending story of wars and killings and destruction. Hearing the narrative string together everything did not help to make any sense of this awful part of human nature. Even though we are not in World War 3, there is enough senseless killing and other unspeakable acts happening all over the world, in hot spots like the mid east, but also everywhere else, all the time, constantly, and today in Newtown, Connecticut.

There is no period in history that is not filled with the blood of innocents, no ethnicity or culture that is free of such evil. Whether in wars, each worse than the other, no matter where, or in “peaceful” nations such as ours, although we never seem to be free of killing our own and others somewhere usually far away: Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, etc. I doubt there is ANY time in our nation’s history that is not like this.

I remember as a quite young child reading the Diary of Ann Frank and getting obsessed with her story and the tragedy and strangeness of her dying and her diary somehow surviving. A kind of triumph that her beautiful voice is there to be heard for the next generations; it is only through reading and other arts such as painting and music, that we are reminded that wonder still exists and some piece of goodness in some small place is shining through the constant darkness. For me, though my own preferred way of self expression is nonverbal painting, drawing and collage, I often turn to words and books for something, because of the paradox of the unspeakable and the miracle of words coming together in a simple poem or young girl’s diary that manage to express some hope for humankind…Or actually just put in words the horror of the endlessly destructive part of humanity we can’t seem to escape from, the very real hopelessness and unending emotional pain and suffering that is life in this world…

Over the summer a dear friend gave my daughter a wonderful children’s chapter book called “The BFG”, by Roald Dahl. Whatever age you are, read it soon! Suffice it to say without a long description of this great tale, there is a very instructive scene in which little Sophie, our heroine, is talking serious philosophy, ie. the strange awfulness of the nature of “human beans” with the Big Friendly Giant. I would like to end this post with that dialogue:

Sophie is lamenting the other bad giants’ endless killing and eating of humans when the BFG in his broken English reminds her,
“Human Beans is killing each other much quicker than the giants is doing it.”
“But they don’t eat each other,” Sophie said.
“Giants isn’t eating each other either,” the BFG said. “Nor is giants killing each other. Giants is not very lovely, but they is not killing each other. Nor is crockadowndillies killing other crockadowndillies. Nor is pussy-cats killing pussy cats.”
“They kill mice,”” Sophie said.
“Ah, but they is not killing their own kind,” the BFG said. “Human beans is the only animal that is killing their own kind.”…
A few paragraphs down, he continues to bring home the real part of the argument, for maybe some animals kill each other for food or some other reason, but not on a large scale and not constantly and not in such inhumane ways and not for no good reason whatsoever. We really are the ones who do that, each generation figuring out more awful massive ways to wipe out large amounts of other humans to today when we could just wipe ourselves out altogether and the whole planet with us…

He continues,
“They is shooting guns and going up in aeroplanes to drop their bombs on each other’s heads every week. Human beans is always killing other human beans.”…
Then a little later he clinches the argument with,
“The human beans is making rules to suit themselves,”  the BFG went on. “But the rules they is making do not suit the little piggy-wiggies. Am I right or left?.”
“Right,” Sophie said…
The BFG, pages 78-79.

Musing on Relationships, Culled from Marilyn Monroe’s Writings…

I am reading “Fragments” by Marilyn Monroe, which constitutes notes, poems, musings, diary entries, etc. I have long been fascinated by her for many reasons, psychological reasons being the obvious focus for this blog.
In publishing these fragments of writings in 2010, the editors and publishers wanted to show a very different side of this very complicated person, and they succeed. One of the interesting things about the photos in this book is that they show a lot of photos of Marilyn reading all kinds of books, and she was actually a voracious reader who tackled Dostoevsky and James Joyce’s Ulysses. It is even stated in the book that she liked having pictures taken of herself reading. This was no Sarah Palin pretending to read a newspaper. Those who were close to her knew she had a sharp curious mind and loved reading. Seeing these photos did make me reflect on present day actors as well as past ones. I couldn’t think of any who especially liked to be pictured reading. There is something interesting about a photo of a woman reading a book, especially this woman who was so in touch with the camera. In most photos of her she is looking at the camera, but in these she is dressed fashionably but casually and seen sitting or standing in a casual position in a homey looking environment, and her eyes are on the book, so there are two subjects to the picture. There is the mystery also of what page she might be on and what words age might be reading when the photo was taken!

Anyway, it is quite interesting to read her fragments, many of which are poetic and quite beautiful, while others are filled with insecurity, loneliness and the desire to improve herself. Some are even directly related to her being in psychoanalysis. I’ve been looking through the book for something to quote somewhere and finally found something for this blog rated to a recent post I wrote about relationships. It is very thought provoking and both sad, realistic and somehow hopeful, which is a curious combination, but not so strange when touching on the subject of childhood and attachment. So here it is; please react and comment if you are moved to do so…

“(page 131) re relationships

Everyone’s childhood plays itself out
No wonder no one knows the other or can completely understand. By this I don’t know if I’m just giving up with this conclusion or resigning myself-or maybe for the first time connecting with reality-

how do we know the pain of another’s earlier years let alone all that he drags with him since along the way at best a lot of lee-way is needed for the other-yet how much is unhealthy for one to bear.

I think to love bravely is the best and accept-as much as one can bear”
(words underlined in this passage: plays, much, unhealthy)

Quick reactions. I found this to be very truthful and really focused on relationships that are very mature and/or deep, those moments when people become unsure and unsettled by what they observe in themselves and their partner. It raises some interesting questions for couples who are examining their relationship or in couple’s therapy: “what are the parts of your partner that you do not know or want to know better but seem buried under a lot of pain?” ” Do you think you can share your own childhood painful parts with your partner, and if so, can you use this to better understand your child selves within the relationship?” “Do you give “lee way” to each other for all that emotional baggage you still carry?” “How much can you each bear of this part of yourself and of her/him?” “Are you afraid of it and avoiding it, or are you bearing too much of it to the point that either of you can recognize it is unhealthy?” “Or, are you asking too much of your partner and wanting ir demanding him/her to bear an unhealthy amount of this early pain in the relationship as it is right now?” “Do you feel that you love bravely and strive to accept what you can reasonably bear in each other?” “What does it mean for you to love bravely?” “Have you ever done it or do you shy away from it?”

As a side nite the word “lee-way” is quite interesting, with origins in the concrete meaning of a sideways drift if a boat or plane. The best definition I came across that seems to fit her use of the word was “leeway – a permissible difference; allowing some freedom to move within limits.” Just thinking about this word and this definition, well, what a perfect word to encapsulate a bug part if intimate relationships: the balance between acceptance and tolerance of difficult aspects of the other while at the same time having reasonable limits, thus capturing the combination of surrendering as well as separating/having boundaries… Real food for thought in just a few short sentences…