Category Archives: Psychology

narcissist-codependent relationship

When Addiction is About More Than Substances

The Narcissist-Codependent Relationship

When we think of abusing drugs and alcohol and the nature of an addict, we generally think mostly about the substances they are using and the individuals themselves. But, that is not all. Sometimes it is the relationships they are in and the people in their lives contributing to their underlying problems. 

One such problemsome relationship is the narcissist and the codependent. Narcissist personality types tend to put themselves above all else. They use other people to benefit themselves, exploit relationships without feelings of guilt, blame others for their missteps, and look down on others to make themselves feel better. Codependent personality types lack self-esteem, rarely make decisions for themselves, always put others first, feel they must always be in a relationship and are overly dependent on the other people in their lives. A relationship between the two personality types often leads each person to reinforce each other’s negative behaviors. 

A codependent won’t stand up to a narcissist about unhealthy behaviors and a narcissist won’t listen to a codependent. One is too fearful to lose the other, and the other wants to stay in control of their partner and doesn’t care how he/she/they feels. Codependents often become the enablers in these relationships. They don’t stand up to their partners and they often financially support their partner’s negative behaviors, after all, they don’t want to make them mad. The codependent might also help the narcissist to hide his/her/their addictions.

It is obvious this kind of relationship is unhealthy and can’t last. If we want the addiction under control the narcissist needs to get away from the enabler, the codependent. The codependent also needs to work on being their own person, and stop being the doormat for the narcissist and increase his/her/their self-worth and self-esteem. 

It is possible to end these types of relationships, it just takes some work. The codependent needs to take a serious look at themselves to realize how dependent they are and to end the cycle, and let go of the narcissist. Seeking the help of a licensed mental health professional can help end these behaviors and turn things around. Sometimes it takes an intervention from people outside the relationship, who see things others do not, to get the ball rolling. 

These behaviors may stem from something much deeper—a childhood experience, past relationship, or trauma. Getting help can help each person to heal. 

human connection

Our Need for Connection and What We Can Do About it

Human connection is about sharing experiences, ideas, and feelings with others. It is a sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves. And, it is crucial to our happiness, our health, and our overall survival as a species.

Yet, why are we so bad at connecting?

In our ever-connected world, where we can catch up with our high school math teacher or college roommate with a click of a button, scroll through images of our coworkers’ weekend adventures, or send a text in a matter of seconds, we are becoming increasingly unconnected. It is damaging to our happiness, our health, and our overall wellbeing. How can a world that is so focused on this idea of always being reachable be drawing us further apart? 

We are spending so much time with our heads in our devices we are missing that authentic face-to-face connection that is so important. We are losing sight of authenticity. It is so easy to leave a comment on a friend’s Facebook wall pretending to care when the reality is we haven’t thought about them in years. We don’t know what is real anymore. We choose what photos we are posting, what information we are sharing with the world and we create our facade, whether it is a true picture of our lives or not. We edit and re-edit ourselves. We tend to share the best in our lives, making things look picture-perfect, but leave out the struggles, the challenges, the stuff that makes us who we are.

There is a reason we used to function as tribes, all the woman working together to care for the families. All the men hunting and gathering. It is the same reason that often people who live alone die earlier and get sicker before they pass. Human connection, the need to connect with others, is at our core as people. 

To fulfill that need, we need to get out into the world and talk to people. We need to have face-to-face conversations. We need to do things together — have family dinners, watch a sporting event, go on a walk, have a picnic, connect outside of our electronic devices. And, we need to be authentic. We need to be our true selves. We need to share, ask the tough questions, open up about our lives and who we are. We need to focus less on finding a connection for ourselves and more on connecting with others. I know it sounds like the same thing but I mean to say that rather than waiting for people to come to you, go to them. 

Your mental health, your happiness, your sense of self-worth, all of it, will thank you for putting yourself out there and connecting. 

healthy relationships after chaos

Having healthy relationships after growing up in chaos

When you are a child raised in an emotionally chaotic environment you learn how to survive in that situation. I am talking about children who are raised in untrustworthy situations where they have become accustomed to the fact that even when things don’t feel right nothing they say or do is going to make things better. 

In many cases, these children have learned that expressing discourse of any kind is a bad thing. They learn to shut their feelings down and ignore the bad they might be feeling inside. This is because as children we know that we need our parents or other caregivers to survive. They give us what we need, so we have to keep things as livable as possible. 

Stuck in Old Patterns

Now, this sort of behavior might work for a child but as an adult keeping your feelings buried and not listening to them, leaves us stuck. As an adult you can’t keep silent, it doesn’t allow us to grow or develop any real intimacy with others. It also doesn’t keep us safe as it did as children. 

By not acting on our own self-protective instincts we end up in harm’s way, consumed by fear, obsessively thinking about what we dislike about our world, and carrying overwhelming feelings of resentment. We become mad at ourselves for not being able to change our situation. 

Rediscover Healthy Relationships

When you have spent your whole life ignoring your nervous system, how do you then recover and allow yourself to develop healthy relationships? 

The first step to any change is to recognize what is happening inside of you. How are you feeling when? What causes you to react in a certain way? Then confront those feelings. Instead of pushing them down, react. Stand up for yourself. Speak your thoughts. Remind yourself that this behavior no longer takes care of you, and allow yourself compassion and gratitude for the fact that you once did exactly what you needed to survive. 

Let Go of Toxic People

Then, ask yourself what you need to know and hear from others in your life. If those people can’t provide what you need, then understand it is ok to let them go. You don’t need to hold on to another out of fear. Find the courage inside of you to speak your truth and to acknowledge what you need. You may not have gotten what you needed as a child, but you don’t have to live like that anymore. The time is NOW to take care of you. 

You can make changes for the better. The power is within you. Seeking help from a licensed professional can help you to identify these feelings within and confront them head-on. A mental health professional can guide you and help to give you the tools to make positive changes. 

woman insomnia

Why Do Women Have More Sleepless Nights?

There is no question that women generally get less sleep than men. They are raising young children and have significant hormone fluctuations making it harder to catch those necessary zzzz’s. In fact, the Society for Women’s Health Research found that women are 1.4 times more likely to report insomnia than men. 

But, research shows there is more to it than that. A study published by the Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that women have a higher genetic risk of developing insomnia than men. 

Part of the increased risk of insomnia is also attributed to women being more prone to mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Many of the same brain chemicals that are disrupted in someone with a mood disorder are also involved in regulating sleep. 

And, what about time? There is just not enough time in the day to do everything. In addition to being the primary caregivers of their children, women are also the primary caregivers of their elderly parents. Coupled with the desire to hold careers outside of the home, women are forced to decrease their sleep time to complete all their responsibilities.

It is exhausting.

If you are suffering from insomnia, what can you do? 

Therapy can help.

Talking to a licensed professional counselor can help to align your priorities and figure out an appropriate schedule. Therapy can also help teach healthy coping skills to combat symptoms of mood disorders so you aren’t staying up all night worrying.

If you experience chronic insomnia, three or more nights a week, then you should consider seeking the help of your health care provider or sleep medicine specialist. There are solutions to help curb the frequency of sleepless nights. 

Sleep is important to our overall health, and especially our mental wellbeing. When we don’t get enough restful hours we are more easily agitated, anxious, short-tempered, emotional, and it is hard to think clearly and focus. So many women put sleep to the side, they don’t feel like they have the time to get the hours in, but it is so important. 

 

warning signs

Suicide Warning Signs: What should you be looking for?

With suicide rates at an all-time high, we must know and understand the signs and symptoms to look out for. Suicide is preventable and is never the answer to your problems. If for any reason you think you may be suicidal or just don’t feel like yourself, please consider seeking help from a licensed mental health professional. So many people want to see you continue in this life and so many resources are available to help you get through these hard times.

If you are someone who is concerned a child, relative, or friend may be at risk for suicide there are some signs to look out for:

  • Focusing on death — a person at risk of committing suicide likely doesn’t want to die, they just want a way to end their pain. It is a concern if a person focuses on death and dying, researches different ways to die, and/or seems encompassed by the idea.
  • Making plans — someone who is thinking about ending their life may start to make plans. They might make a will, talk about after-life wishes with family, giveaway important things, or start saying goodbye to loved ones.
  • Becomes withdrawn — not returning phone calls or showing up for social events can be a big sign that something is not right.
  • Shows despair — they might seem sad, distraught, severely depressed, or talk about how they are a burden to others.
  • A swing in mood or sleep — a person who is normally anxious, depressed, moody or aggressive may suddenly become calm once they have decided to commit suicide. They may also stop sleeping as much as they used to or sleep more.
  • Substance abuse — as with any mental health condition the use of substances like alcohol or drugs can contribute to feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts.
  • Acts recklessly — participating in dangerous and risky behaviors like having unprotected sex or driving drunk can be a sign that a person doesn’t appreciate their life and doesn’t care if it ends.
  • Victims — victims of trauma or abuse of any kind can be more at risk than other populations. These people have a lot of pain they are dealing with and struggle with wanting that pain to go away.

If you or anyone you know is displaying any of the above signs or symptoms, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK [8255].

teen suicide

Teen Suicide Rates At All-Time High, Here’s How We Can Help…

Suicide rates among teens and young adults are at an all-time high, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts can’t pinpoint exactly why the number of teens and young adults taking their own lives is continuing to increase, but many blame things such as the use of digital platforms, economic distress, and social isolation.

There is no question this problem is one that needs our attention and care. There are steps we can take as parents, community members, and school administrators to help those who are struggling, to make suicide a more difficult option, and to show this population that suicide is not the answer.

Where do we start?

1.) Restrict Access — Having a gun in the home to protect against an intruder may seem like a good idea but it is also giving your child access to a deadly tool. My advice is to keep guns locked up and in places where even your teen doesn’t know they exist. Same with drugs, keep them out of sight. Lock them up. Reduce access. It is a lot harder to commit the act of suicide if you don’t have the tools readily available.

2.) Talk to Your Teen — If you are worried about your teen or your teen’s friends potentially struggling with emotions, then talk to them. In fact, talk to them regardless. Let them know they have a place to turn. Ask your teen if they are suicidal. Open up the communication gates. Let them know that is not the answer and get them help from a licensed mental health professional. This subject feels taboo to many but it is clear we need to talk about it. Let your child know it is ok to not be ok.

3.) Implement Suicide Prevention Programs in Schools — Training teachers and school administrators to recognize the signs of depression, suicide precursors, and other mental health issues in teens and young adults can have a lasting impact. Teens spend much of their days in an educational environment, our school professionals can play a part in watching for the signs and getting help.

4.) Training for Parents and Other Adults in the Community — Our teens need to feel like they have a safe place to turn, even if it is not a parent, to talk about their mental health. They need a caring adult who is willing to talk about suicide and can act as a support network.

The bottom line is our teens and young adults need to know they are cared for, they matter, and they have places they can go and people they can talk to whenever they need. 

For additional information on these tips, visit https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/7/11/18759712/teen-suicide-depression-anxiety-how-to-help-resources .

Peter Pan

Do You Have Peter Pan Syndrome?

Do you remember Peter Pan? You know the boy who doesn’t grow up. I mean, who doesn’t want to stay a child forever? Life was easy as a child, less responsibility, more fun and way fewer worries to consume our days with.

But, as an adult there comes a time when you have to grow up. At some point, you need to take on adult responsibilities and shift your priorities. Unfortunately, we are not surrounded in the magic that can keep us children forever. Growing up and shifting priorities is not a smooth transition for everyone. Some adults truly struggle with this change, which is why the term “Peter Pan Syndrome” was coined by psychologists.

What are some of the characteristics of Peter Pan Syndrome?

1.) Unwillingness to work hard when you aren’t motivated. We all know how hard it can be to get things done when you don’t feel like doing something, but unfortunately being an adult sometimes means doing things you don’t want to do.

2.) Dabbling in many different things. Rather than focusing your time on honing one skill, a person who has Peter Pan Syndrome might spend their time trying a bunch of different things because they can’t pinpoint the one skill they want to master.

3.) Aversion to networking. Meeting successful people in your career field of choice can be hard, yet necessary to find a job and/or move up in a position. You have to put yourself out there, talk and learn from others.

4.) Focusing on the long shot. We are all told to dream big, but at some point, you might need to shift gears from trying to make it big as a musician or a film star and instead focus on a more realistic area of interest. Maybe instead of trying to be a multi-billionaire rockstar, you become a music teacher. Or instead of focusing all your energy into being a successful actor, teach a theatre class.

5.) Abusing alcohol and drugs. These types of behaviors while often linked to addiction or other mental health conditions, can make finding and keeping a successful job difficult. It can make adulting that much harder to do.

6.) Blaming your failure on an external source. Often those having difficulty growing up don’t want to accept that they aren’t successful in their careers because they aren’t motivated to try, and instead want to blame it on something their parents, spouse, or former employer did/said. The truth of the matter is some people have come from war, hunger, poverty, abuse, etc. and have come out successful. It is all about finding that motivation to go after the life you want.

If you identify with one or more of these characteristics it might be helpful to talk to a licensed mental health professional, life coach, or career counselor who can help to guide you on the path for success. The first thing you have to do is realize that to be successful in a career you will need to grow up, as hard as that is, and if you are struggling with that reality there are tools to help you. Anyone can succeed in life and career, it will just take some willingness to make changes.

abandonment article

Feeling abandoned can be painful

When we think of painful life experiences many times we jump right to trauma, but abandonment can be just as raw and painful as physical or emotional trauma.

Abandonment, such as a parent or grandparent who suddenly leaves a child, can stay with a person through their whole life. It can be easily triggered by other situations, such as a significant other who doesn’t call one day or forgets to say goodbye before they leave for work. When it is triggered it often floods the person with fear, panic, and intense shame — why am I not worthy of someone sticking around? What is wrong with me?

Raw Pain

That pain can be just as raw as it was on the first day of abandonment. That intense fear of being abandoned again can develop into harmful coping strategies that actually increase the risk of being rejected. This could include being clingy to a significant other, getting upset at missed phone calls or missed connection, severe jealousy, or complete isolation from others, to name a few. It can be a never-ending spiral of events.

Deserves Attention

If you or someone you love has experienced some type of abandonment it is important that he/she/they recognize that experience deserves some attention. It can seem easiest and safest to push that experience deep within and to not share it with anyone, but it will only compound and lead to more abandonment down the road. Seeking help from a licensed mental health professional can help to confront those feelings and develop healthy coping strategies, leading to healthy relationships.

apologize image

Do you over apologize? It may be anxiety

You catch yourself looking down at your phone while out to lunch with friends, “oops I am sorry,” you say, “I just needed to respond to this quick message.” Ok, you don’t need to apologize. You haven’t done anything wrong. 

You leave a friend’s party and start thinking about all the things that you might have done wrong. You feel like you came off too strong. Did you help clean up enough? Did you say the right thing to your neighbor when introducing them? Was the punch fruity enough? You immediately text your friend a heartfelt apology. But why? You didn’t do anything that needs apologizing.

This is over apologizing, apologizing for things that don’t warrant an apology. You are a human. You aren’t supposed to be perfect. You are supposed to be you. You never need to apologize for being you.

Anxiety and Overthinking

But, you have anxiety. That anxiety causes you to overthink everything, to worry about things that didn’t even really happen or that you fear other people are thinking. 

This is the anxiety that keeps you up at night worrying about things that may or may not ever happen. It is the anxiety that keeps you second-guessing every move you make, every outfit you try on, every conversation you have, every task you complete, the list goes on and on. This is the everyday reality of anxiety, and, while exhausting and overwhelming, it needs no apology. 

For anxiety sufferers, constantly feeling like you need to apologize is part of life. But, it doesn’t have to be all of you. If you recognize that you are over apologizing and that it could in part be due to your anxiety, then you can begin to recognize the situations where you don’t need to apologize. You can cut yourself some slack. 

Seeking out help from a licensed mental health professional can help you to cope with these situations in healthy ways and to fully accept, embrace, and be proud of who you are.

perimenopause

Hormone changes at 40 can impact mood

As women, we generally think of the big changes in our body to be puberty and menopause but other precursors could be impacting your mood. Forty is generally too young for most women to experience full-blown menopause but some symptoms start to show up, often referred to as perimenopause.

These symptoms can mean this milestone birthday is the start of a host of emotional and physical changes. Perimenopause is caused by hormones. It generally means your body has too much estrogen and not enough progesterone. So, how can these changes impact your mood?

Change is normal

First of all, you might feel like your body is a bit off which can create distress on its own. You might grow more worried about things, begin to feel sad that you are getting older, or just be generally uncomfortable with the way you feel. Other things perimenopause can cause are increases in anxiety, short-term memory loss, fuzzy thinking, difficulty with multi-tasking, fatigue, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, anger, or a sense of urgency.

As distressing as these changes can be, it’s important to remember that it is normal. This is part of life and getting older and as uncomfortable as it can be, it can also be a sign of starting a new stage in life. If you are having trouble dealing with your emotional and physical changes, it can be helpful to speak with your doctor on ways to deal with things and lifestyle choices that may help ease symptoms. Seeking help from a licensed counselor who specializes in women’s issues can also be helpful during this time of adjustment.

It is hard to feel like you are not in control of your body and your mood and these changes that are going on, but you are not alone. And, getting older isn’t a bad thing. Think about it as a time to find a new appreciation for the simple things in life.