Toronto-based psychotherapist and coach, specializing in helping people with mood disorders, anxiety and depression

Harnessing depression: One Ars writer’s journey

October 21, 2014 | Posted in psychotherapy | By

This is a beautiful piece of writing about a father’s and son’s struggle with depression. I think it’s an optimistic piece, showing that you can live with depression, or at least make adjustments for it…

In his final piece for Ars, Dave Girard talks about life with depression.

Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock

Last November, my father took his own life. I’m frequently aware of the fact that the depression which helped drive him to that dark fate lives on in my genes. That’s a doozy of a legacy to inherit, but it’s one that has not been wholly negative for me.

Getting to the point where I could write this article involved a series of debates. I debated talking about my father’s suicide; I debated “outing” myself as a depression sufferer; I debated not talking about it and what that meant. I decided in the end that I would be the worst kind of hypocrite if I believed that dialog about depression was essential but was unwilling to start that dialog myself. I hope that my story can help others understand why the traits that cause depression have been both a plague and a gift to so many.

Nothing’s easy when talking about depression. Navigating this sensitive topic is fraught with traps and taboos that can make Israel the good option at dinner discussion. But this dialog is important, and hopefully we can lift the grim veil that hangs over this subject before disaster strikes someone we know and love. Even as it goes underreported, suicide now kills more people than car accidents in the US.

To read the rest of the article in Ars Technica, click here

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How Do You Measure Your Life?

September 27, 2014 | Posted in Blog posts | By

This is the most recent post by Mark Manson, a blogger I follow. It’s a great read and takes about ten minutes of your time…

In the early 1980s, a talented young guitarist was kicked out of his band. The band had just been signed to their first record contract, and they were preparing to record their first album. A week before recording began, they fired the guitarist. There was no warning, no discussion. The guitarist woke up one day and was handed a bus ticket home.

The guitarist was demoralized. He felt betrayed. No one considered his side of the story. No one cared how he felt. At the most crucial moment of the band’s short career, he was abandoned by those he trusted the most.

So he vowed to start a band of his own. He would start a band so amazing and so successful that his old band would regret ever firing him. He would become so famous that they would spend the rest of their lives thinking about what a horrible mistake they had made. His ambition would make them pay for their disrespect.

He recruited even better musicians than before. He wrote and rehearsed religiously. His desire for revenge fueled his passion. His rage ignited his creativity. Within a couple years, his new band had signed a record contract of their own and was taking off.

The guitarist’s name was Dave Mustaine, and the band he formed was called Megadeth. Megadeth would go on to sell over 25 million albums and tour the world many times over. Today, Mustaine is considered one of the most brilliant and influential musicians in all of heavy metal music.

Unfortunately, the band he was kicked out of was called Metallica. Metallica has since sold over 180 million albums worldwide, and they are considered by many to be the greatest heavy metal band of all time.

And because of this, in a rare intimate interview in 2003, a tearful Mustaine admitted that he couldn’t help but still consider himself a failure at times. Despite all he had accomplished, he was still the guy who got kicked out of Metallica. Tens of millions of albums sold. Concerts given to screaming stadiums of fans. Millions of dollars earned. And yet, a failure.

 

 

Read the rest of the post …

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British Psychiatrists Under Attack

July 14, 2014 | Posted in bipolar, Fraud, psychotherapy | By

British Psychological Society to launch attack on rival profession, casting doubt on biomedical model of mental illness

There is no scientific evidence that psychiatric diagnoses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are valid or useful, according to the leading body representing Britain’s clinical psychologists. The Guardian reported that the British Psychological Society it’s time for a paradigm shift in how mental health is understood and is particularly critical of how psychiatrists treat mental illness.

In a groundbreaking move that has already prompted a fierce backlash from psychiatrists, the British Psychological Society’s division of clinical psychology (DCP) will on Monday issue a statement declaring that, given the lack of evidence, it is time for a “paradigm shift” in how the issues of mental health are understood. The statement effectively casts doubt on psychiatry’s predominantly biomedical model of mental distress – the idea that people are suffering from illnesses that are treatable by doctors using drugs. The DCP said its decision to speak out “reflects fundamental concerns about the development, personal impact and core assumptions of the (diagnosis) systems”, used by psychiatry.

Read the rest of the article…

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Sorry!

July 6, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

This is a great video, even though it is trying to sell you shampoo. Enjoy!

http://www.fastcompany.com/3032112/strong-female-lead/sorry-not-sorry-why-women-need-to-stop-apologizing-for-everything

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Anatomy of An Epidemic

June 27, 2014 | Posted in bipolar, psychotherapy, Uncategorized | By

AnaotmyEpidemic_20cThis is a must read for anyone who takes a psychoactive drug. It’s brilliantly written and well researched. I think he makes some excellent points on the nature of how Mental Illness is diagnosed and treated in western countries. Could the meds actually be causing mental illness? Read it and find out what he says…

Anatomy of an Epidemic investigates a medical mystery: Why has the number of adults and children disabled by mental illness skyrocketed over the past fifty years? There are now more than four million people in the United States who receive a government disability check because of a mental illness, and the number continues to soar. Every day, 850 adults and 250 children with a mental illness are added to the government disability rolls. What is going on?

Read the full post from Robert Whitaker’s website, where you can also download the first chapter:

http://robertwhitaker.org/robertwhitaker.org/Anatomy%20of%20an%20Epidemic.html

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A Simple Guide to Reframing

reframe toronto psychotherapist

June 5, 2014 | Posted in reframe, Uncategorized | By

Reframing is a simple, yet powerful way to boost your self esteem, defeat negative self talk and even see events in your life in a clearer way. When something happens in our life, we ascribe meaning to it, whether we are conscious of this or not. Upon investigation, we may find that the event is loaded with beliefs that may be skewing our perception of ourselves of the world around us. Reframing helps bring awareness and perspective to undo any negativity or misperception when an event reflects negatively on up. In short:

      Reframing involves changing your perspective on a given situation to give it a more positive or beneficial meaning to you.
      Reframing can be used to help remove limiting beliefs, to help appreciate positive moments that you might otherwise miss, or for any other negative thought you would like to change.
      Our assumptions help us provide meaning to events that don’t have any inherent meaning. Even when our inner voice has something negative to say, there is a positive intention behind it.
      The first step in reframing is to observe your negative thoughts. Keep a thought journal and use the rubber band technique to help you better understand your own internal dialogue.
      The second step is to replace the negative thoughts with a more positive one. It helps here to challenge the implied assumptions behind your thoughts.
      There are a lot of common negative thought patterns, and you can arm yourself against them in advance.

To read the full piece click on the link: http://feelhappiness.com/reframing-your-thoughts-make-yourself-happier/

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Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy

April 8, 2014 | Posted in bipolar, Blog posts | By

balanceClinical studies of Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT) show that it is a very effective treatment for bipolar disorder type I and type II.  As a Toronto-based psychotherapist and coach, I have developed many of the same techniques as Ellen Frank, the originator of the IPSR Therapy. It has to do with modelling effective behaviour and habits in my clients, including good diet, exercise, impulse control, sleep, balance and moderation in life habits. The following is an excerpt from a brochure from Ellen Frank. Please excuse the clinical language….

IPSRT is an empirically-supported individual psychotherapy for the treatment of adults with bipolar disorder. This innovative approach to the management of bipolar disorder was developed by Ellen Frank and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and has now been shown to be efficacious in preventing relapse of mania and depression and in treating acute episodes of bipolar depression when used in combination with pharmacotherapy. Open studies suggest that it has utility as a monotherapy for adults with bipolar II disorder and for adolescents with bipolar I or II illness. IPSRT combines a behavioral approach to increasing the regularity of daily routines (social rhythms) with an interpersonal approach to coping with the stresses of the bipolar illness itself, as well as with common interpersonal stressors and social role problems. This approach has now been expanded to include group models for inpatient, intensive outpatient (day-hospital) and standard outpatient treatment.

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Bipolar and Circadian Rhythms

February 24, 2014 | Posted in bipolar, Integrative | By

In my experience as a therapist who helps people with bipolar disorder stabilize themselves, one of the challenges has to do with getting them to be more in tune with their circadian rhythms. This is the body’s internal chemical clock whose impulses regulate the our sleep and waking cycles, our appetites and our moods. Most of us stay tuned to our clock, especially if we have a regular schedule, and have good habits around diet, exercise and imbibe with moderation. When we get out of sync, it’s usually not by much and we seem to adjust accordingly. People who have bipolar seem to be more out of touch with their circadian rhythm and when they do, it’s much harder for them to adjust. In this light, mania can be seen as a complete breakdown of the regulation of our internal clock, or at least ignoring the signals. This is why it’s extremely important for people with bipolar disorder to keep to a schedule and to listen more closely to signals our clocks send us.

There is a very good, concise article about this at Psych Central by John Grohol.

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Stephen Fry on Bipolar

February 18, 2014 | Posted in bipolar, Blog posts | By

Stephen Fry is a fabulously gifted British comedy actor. He starred in a two part BBC documentary about his experiences with Bipolar Disorder. In it he interviews other famous and not so famous people with the disorder. It’s a fabulous introduction to not only living with it but thriving with it. See it here… http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/stephen-fry-the-secret-life-of-the-manic-depressive/

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Bipolar: The ‘New Normal’

February 18, 2014 | Posted in bipolar, Integrative, psychotherapy, reframe | By

Robin Flanigan wrote a very good piece in BP Canada in which she discusses how people suffering from bipolar disorder can adapt and have the power to decide where to set your goalposts for a fulfilling future. She quotes me based on an interview we did last year. Here is an except from the article:

It took a long time for Gretchen B. to come to terms with having a chronic mental illness. But lately, the 41-year-old from Illinois has been looking beyond her bipolar. With the skills and support to manage her symptoms, she’s ready to make the most of her life and her abilities.

“There’s an end point to ‘I survived the day,’” she says, referring to her post-diagnosis bunker mentality. “Now I’m more focused on what I can do to thrive.

“I’m not necessarily letting go of my struggle with bipolar disorder, but I am learning to thrive inside of it.… I feel more optimistic than I have in a long time.”

In other words, Gretchen has embraced her “new normal.” The phrase describes a foundational shift that creates a new baseline moving forward—which is what happens when bipolar symptoms turn our expectations upside down. Basic milestones like getting a degree, keeping a job, sustaining a relationship, and buying a home can begin to feel out of reach.

A bipolar diagnosis doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to your hopes and dreams. Mental health experts agree that with patience, commitment, and a plan for setting realistic goals, you can still map out a deeply satisfying existence.

And sometimes, the difficult process of re-evaluation can yield new and more meaningful aims.

Read the full excert here: http://www.bphope.com/Item.aspx/1124/redefining-your-own-future

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