May 22, 2017
Posted in anxiety, balance, depression, Integrative, psychotherapy, reframe, suicide
Another Way of Looking at Fatigue and Depression
Depression, anxiety, and fatigue are an essential part of a process of metamorphosis that is unfolding on the planet today, and highly significant for the light they shed on the transition from an old world to a new.
When a growing fatigue or depression becomes serious, and we get a diagnosis of Epstein-Barr or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or hypothyroid or low serotonin, we typically feel relief and alarm. Alarm: something is wrong with me. Relief: at least I know I’m not imagining things; now that I have a diagnosis, I can be cured, and life can go back to normal. But of course, a cure for these conditions is elusive. Read More…
September 30, 2015
Posted in balance, bipolar, Blog posts, psychotherapy, reframe
(From Crains Chicago Business. By Shia Kapos)
Tony Dreyfuss, co-founder of Metropolis Coffee, and his wife were celebrating Mother’s Day with their infant child in 2006 when he got a call about a broken coffee brewer.
“I said, ‘Gotta go.’ And I left on my wife’s first Mother’s Day. I wasn’t taking stock,” Dreyfuss recalls. It was a low point for them, but not low enough to make him pull back from the long hours building his business. Six years and two more children later, his wife, Karen, pulled him aside and said something had to change.
Dreyfuss saw a doctor and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1, a mental illness that led to an intense attention to work. The disease often is referred to as manic depression or sometimes “the CEO’s disease.”
“I simply ran manic for years. I got a lot done, but it deeply affected my relationships. I wasn’t present with anyone,” he says. Though he didn’t exhibit other common symptoms of the disease—“I didn’t spend money, sleep around or drive like a maniac”—“I just worked, worked, worked.”
The Chicago businessman, 41, grew up in Madison, Wis. He was a skateboarder who took up juggling and photography. Since he was a child, “he’s had a limitless imagination,” says Tony’s father and business partner, Jeff Dreyfuss.
Tony Dreyfuss says he was prone to making life-changing decisions on a whim. His career began while he was driving a cab as a student at the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a philosophy degree. He pulled over one night for coffee and was so struck by that particular cup’s flavor, he decided right then to make the drink a career.
To him, that meant running a coffee shop. “At that point I wasn’t thinking about roasting it,” he says.
He and his wife moved to Portland, Ore., which along with Seattle is the epicenter of specialty coffee. He took a job at a Peet’s Coffee & Tea, working his way up from bean-scooper to management before taking a pay cut to become a taster and “fill a knowledge gap.”
His parents, both linguists, had moved to Seattle, and his father also had become a coffee connoisseur. While attending a trade show in Seattle, father and son purchased a coffee-roasting machine with the idea of going into business.
“We were jacked up on caffeine after drinking a dozen espressos. It was like drunk people getting tattoos,” says the younger Dreyfuss, who already was planning to move to Chicago, where his wife had grown up.
Dreyfuss found retail space in the city’s Edgewater neighborhood for a coffeehouse and roasting facility. That was in 2002.
By 2003, the Dreyfusses were in business and counted Hopleaf Bar and M.Henryrestaurant among early clients.
Today, Metropolis has 400 wholesale customers in Chicago and 200 beyond and expects revenue of more than $7 million this year. The company still operates its only cafe on Granville Avenue, and it employs people with disabilities through nonprofit Aspire.
After his diagnosis in 2012, Dreyfuss told his staff he was taking a three-month leave. The response, he says, was “Oh, thank God!”
Bipolar disorder, he continues, “makes you completely incapable of understanding how your actions affect other people. You have great ideas and you just dump them on other people and move to the next thing.”
With counseling, medication, dietary changes and at least eight hours of sleep a night, Dreyfuss says he’s as healthy as he’s ever been. He carves out open time on his calendar, which allows him more time to think creatively. The company has thrived as a result, he says.
Karen Dreyfuss calls the change at home “miraculous,” adding that the diagnosis explained a lot.
“When you start out in marriage, you support all the meetings and all those fires that have to be put out,” she says. “But year after year there will always be more fires and more meetings and if you don’t draw that line, it will consume you.”
On the patio of Metropolis’ new headquarters in the Avondale neighborhood, Dreyfuss’ phone goes off midconversation. He pulls it out and turns it off.
“Three years ago I would have answered it,” he says. “I really try to be present with who I’m with. That’s what I’ve learned the most.”
full story at: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20150925/ISSUE09/150929894?X-IgnoreUserAgent=1
February 19, 2015
Posted in balance, Blog posts, psychotherapy, reframe
There is no such thing as living life in a state of perfect balance. We are either going toward balance or away from it, much as a child does balancing her weight standing on a teeter-totter. When our lives tip away from balance we are less able to deal with stress and we become dissatisfied. When we are moving toward balance, we are better able to tolerate and deal with the ups and downs of life. The trick is to stay closer to balance than to tip wildly from one extreme to the other. Here is a list of the top ten things you can do to help you move toward a more balanced life.
Sleep is the pillar of mental health. When we don’t get enough, or if we get too much, we don’t function very well. Most experts say seven to eight hours is a healthy amount. Just as important as the quantity is the quality. If you wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day, you had a good sleep. If you wake up feeling tired you probably didn’t sleep well. Stress and poor sleep become a vicious cycle. As you reduce stress in your life you will probably start sleeping better. As you start sleeping better, the better able you’ll deal with stress.
Yeah, I know, all tips for a better life include exercise because it’s essential. You don’t have to work out in the gym four days a week or run a marathon. Simple things like going for a regular walk or using the stairs instead of the elevator incorporates exercise into your life. Most experts say that the best “medicine” for depression is a long walk. There are a lot of reasons why exercise is good for your mind and body but let’s not talk about it and just do it.
We are what we eat. We eat too much of the four food groups: sugar, fat, salt, and starch. They affect our bodies in drastic ways: rapidly inflating our blood sugar, our blood pressure; making us feel bloated; and clogging up our arteries. It takes a bit of time to plan meals and shop accordingly, and it’s well worth doing. In other words, putting a bit of thought into what we bite into makes a lot of difference. Meal planning allows you to look at your whole week so you can get some variety as well as nutritious, wholesome food. Having good food in your refrigerator will help you avoid running out for that slice of pizza.
I was raised with the value of “everything in moderation” and it’s served me well. At its root, it’s about knowing when you’ve had enough. We don’t have to drink until we pass out or eat until we feel nauseous to know that excess isn’t a good idea, yet millions do it every day. We live in an excessive society where there is a lot of everything so the temptation to keep piling it on (what ever it is), is always there. At the root, it’s all about knowing when you feel like you’ve had enough. We are driven by lifestyle demands, peer pressure, the demand for more (because more is better isn’t it?). At some point we have to decide for ourselves. A friend of mine recently purchased a kitchen safe, which is a clear plastic cube with a time lock. She puts a bag of cookies in it and when the timer allows her to open it, she takes out a few cookies, then locks it for another 24 hours. If you don’t have the will power to resist eating the whole bag at once, either don’t buy them or get a safe.
We live in a state of constant stimulation. It’s death by a thousand cuts. We over stimulate ourselves when we check our phone, watch TV, listen to the news, spend time in front of any screen, hear sirens on the street, or even listen to the radio. When stimulation creeps in it has an insidious effect on us, because we don’t pay attention to it. We may notice at some point in the day that we feel tense, but have no idea why. For the most part we are passive receivers of stimulation. Even the humming and clanking of our homes adds a tiny bit of stress to our overworked nervous system. Why not go on a stimulation diet? If you must listen to the news, do it only once a day. Turn your phone off when you get home and avoid other forms of stimulation. Read a book. For those who are extra sensitive, earplugs might be an option.
Control your Schedule
Talk to anyone who specializes in being “busy”, as in too busy to meet for coffee, or too busy to chat on the phone, and you will find someone who is a slave to their own busyness. Of course they have more control over their schedule than they let on and for reasons known only to them, they like it that way. How many times you have said, “I have to do …”, or “I should …”, without really considering why? We keep ourselves in a state of constant busyness at times, which unbalances us, makes us crazy and stresses us out unnecessarily. Take a break from the habit of busyness and take a 30,000 foot view. Ask yourself, do I really need to do this? What will happen if I don’t do it right now? Can someone else do it? You might surprise yourself how many things you can scratch off your to do list. Find blocks of time where you control your schedule. Do things that give you pleasure or allows you to unwind. Only you control your schedule.
Take a moment to check in with yourself several times a day. Notice what you are feeling. Are you feeling: overwhelmed; tired; excited; nervous; bored; hungry; or stressed? Most people are too busy, stressed, or unaware to check in with themselves. It’s only when you notice your state that you can do something about it. Typically once you’ve gone into overload it’s too late. For instance, if you are having a stressful day, you might take a break from your work to stretch and walk around a bit. If your plans include watching the latest action movie with friends tonight, you might want to give it a pass and have a quiet night at home. Noticing how you’re doing is half the battle and that starts with awareness and self control.
Too often we leave things unsaid, stay angry at people, or stew in the juices of frustration and resentment. It’s the sort of stuff that keeps us awake at night. To truly be able to sleep at night and to live without the past chasing you, consider cutting past hurts out of your life. If you have something to say to someone who hurt you, say it either in an email, in phone or in person. Life can be difficult and stressful enough without lugging this stuff around with us. Forgiveness can be tough for those of us who don’t come by it easily. The only way to really be at peace with yourself is to leave the past behind so you can face each day with a relatively fresh page.
Review Your Habits
We are a combination of good habits and bad ones. To know what they are, take an inventory. If you are falling out of balance, chances are good that some of your habits are dragging you into that territory. Reinforcing good habits is a good way to remain in balance. Conversely, erasing a bad habit will help you keep in balance. If you have habits you would like to change, tackle them one at a time. For instance, if you tend to be messy, make a point of cleaning up after yourself for a couple of weeks. Get into the habit of looking around and taking away an empty cup or washing it right away. After a few weeks you will transform a bad habit into a better one. Once you feel you have that one under control, tackle another one. Replacing old habits with new ones will make it easier to maintain balance in your life.
It’s easy to focus on negative things in our lives, because our brains are wired to prevent a recurrence of pain. That means we have to consciously reflect on the positive things in our lives instead of taking them for granted. Some of us are so wired for negativity that we have a difficult time thinking of anything to be grateful for. By focusing on positive things in our lives, we automatically spend less time being negative. Thus we are more balanced on the positive/negative scale. If we truly appreciate the good things in our lives, and yes, there are millions of them, we balance our thinking. Spending even a few minutes a day reflecting on gratitude actually changes the way we think. With a more positive outlook, we will be less prone to depression, more upbeat, and probably more fun to be around.
January 21, 2015
Posted in bipolar, psychotherapy, reframe
This is a wonderful story about a man, madly in love with his wife, who has gone mad. He talks about madness, psychiatry, trying to help without getting in the way, and about the dilemmas he has faced. It’s really worth the read if you have about twenty minutes to spare.
Read the full post on Pacific Standard….
June 5, 2014
Posted in reframe, Uncategorized
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/
February 18, 2014
Posted in bipolar, Integrative, psychotherapy, reframe
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
To read more you will have to subscribe to the magazine…
February 18, 2014
Posted in Blog posts, Gestalt, Integrative, Intuitive, psychotherapy, reframe
I submit most of my writing and articles on Huffington Post where I’ve been writing for the past year. They are on a variety of topics. Have a look at a sample of the most recent posts:
Entries by Bradley Foster
Well, once we had an easy ride and always felt the same
Time was on our side and I had everything to gain
Let it be like yesterday
Please let me have happy days
Won’t you tell me
Experts are divided on why we sleep, but the consequences of not getting enough are well-known. Sleep deprivation is an effective torture technique. It’s used by cults to break new recruits. It can decrease your life span and it is increasingly being linked to a contributing factor in
Boundaries are as vital for us as they are for nations. Just as nations have political or natural borders, we are bounded by skin, but it’s the psychological violations at the fringes that are the hairiest for country and person alike. A foreign warship off the coast can create an…
Awareness is what makes humans unique from all other species. No other species, as far as we are aware, has the same degree of awareness that humans are capable of, and it’s what drives us to delve into our minds and into outer space. Self-awareness is a tremendous tool for…
It’s human to feel disappointed now and then. As an optimist I tend to hope for the best in situations. It doesn’t always work out the way I want. Having had my share of disappointments, I’ve become more aware of my expectations and learned how to hold them in check….
Mayor Rob Ford, caught on camera as he wheels his Escalade out of Toronto City Hall, looks a bit like a bug under a microscope. Ford, and now his brother, have riveted the world’s attention for their real and alleged antics. When Rob Ford was accused of smoking crack with…
You don’t have to be an expert in leadership to see that there is a critical shortage of great leaders in the world today. Problems we face are not being addressed by “leaders” we have. No one wants to rock the boat in ways that Gandhi or Martin Luther King…
Creativity is one of the best strengths to have. It helps you solve problems, and keeps you versatile and able to roll with change, which in this world is a real plus. My creative clients
tell me that they are usually good at anything they put their hand…
As a life and executive coach
I work with a lot of people on their goals. Setting goals puts you in the driver’s seat, giving you the power to transform your life or take a company into the future. As enticing as that sounds, it is more common…
How many times have your heard, “Have a good week!” We typically have a good week, or not, depending on the whims of fate. Unless you are a fatalist, let’s imagine that you can organize your time so you will have a great week. I call this technique “joy management.”…
Gratitude is the thankful appreciation of things received, whether tangible or intangible. It helps us connect with something outside ourselves, often transcendent and larger than ourselves. I have been practicing a gratitude exercise, and you can do it too. It’s very simple. Each night I reflect on my day. I…
We lie to ourselves and to others every day. It’s what we do to get through our day. Lying can be thought of as a spectrum from being brutally honest on one side to being psychopathically dishonest on the other. Somewhere along that line is a healthy balance of authenticity,…
Yoga has been around for several millennia, and North Americans are relative newcomers to its practice. Yoga is a holistic technology that balances mind, spirit, and body and is central to Indian health practice. Many North Americans consider yoga to be a substitute for Pilates or a good workout –…
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference. — Reinhold Niebuhr
And therein lies the root of much of our stress. When we accept that there are few things we…