Archives for Interviews
How often do you have stress headaches or difficulty sleeping? Does stress ever make you short of breathe, jittery or tense? Most of us experience some of these and other physical symptoms of stress. Clenched teeth, knots in your back, waking at night and queasiness are all common reactions to stress. In fact, many of us go through our days on automatic pilot, barely registering the affects stress has on our bodies. Physical symptoms of stress are extremely uncomfortable and can interfere with our ability to function on a daily basis. Over time, we can end up exhausted and feeling unable to calm down, relax tight muscles or lessen other aches, pains and physical signs of stress.
What do Jamie Lee Curtis, Cyndi Lauper, Goldie Hawn, Hershel Walker and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius have in common? They have all been involved in shining a light on the importance of every child’s mental health. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gary M. Blau, Ph.D., who is involved in wide variety of programs designed to improve the lives of children and families and who has been working to raise awareness about children’s mental health. Tomorrow is National Children’s Awareness Day’s “Heroes of Hope Tribute” in Washington D.C. and I spoke with Gary about who is a “hero of hope” and why they are so important to our children.
I had the pleasure, this week, of reading a new book on mindfulness. Focused on participating in the present, right now, this book described how we can be more connected to our lives simply by paying attention. It sounds so simple: pay attention right now. And maybe it sounds like it’s not that big a deal. What difference does it make if you are aware of your actions as you pour milk into your coffee each morning or if you focus on future goals all the while losing touch with what you are doing right now? In his new book called The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life, Elisha Goldstein describes just how being in the present, right now, can enhance our lives.
Are you stressed out? If you are, you’re not alone. According to a 2010 American Psychological Association survey, one-third of American parents are extremely stressed and the majority of Americans are moderately stressed. Many experience on-going stress from financial need, work demands and the pressures of family life. The challenge of managing stress with healthy habits, such as exercise, less worry, or better eating can leave us worried about the impact stress is having on our health. However, Howard S. Friedman PhD suggests that when it comes to your health and how long you live, stress is not necessarily all bad.
Changing problem behaviors requires that you understand and investigate what is happening when the behavior occurs. When you discuss problems in therapy, it’s critical to know if you are sad when you have the urge to self-injure or feeling threatened when you take a drink. Information about how you think and feel when you are most vulnerable is essential to the therapy process. Most often behaviors such as self-destructiveness, aggression, substance use problems and other impulse behaviors happen at times of high stress and intense emotions. And stress and emotion both have a significant impact on memory. They interfere our ability to accurately remember events and skew what we do remember. Diary cards, in DBT, are central to investigating and understanding problems that are being targeted in individual therapy. They are completed during the course of the week--as emotions, events and problematic behaviors occur—with the intent of improving memory. If targeted behaviors have occurred, they are discussed in therapy. If patterns emerge, they are investigated in therapy.
In 1999, in the early days of the Internet, author of LOUD IN THE HOUSE OF MYSELF: Memoir of a Strange Girl, Stacy Pershall moved to New York and became one of the first “camgirls,” women who videotaped themselves in their homes, capturing the spectrum of their daily routines-- from the mundane to the most intimate--twenty-four hours a day, and streaming it over the Web. In July 2001, when her marriage was dissolving, Pershall attempted suicide. The entirety of it was documented live on the Internet. This probably saved her life, as it was a stranger who happened to log in to the feed who called 911.
“This is the story,” Stacy Pershall begins, “of how a strange girl from Prairie Grove discovered she had a multitude of disorders and how she survived.” In this deeply honest and sometimes shocking memoir, LOUD IN THE HOUSE OF MYSELF: Memoir of a Strange Girl, Pershall chronicles her lifelong struggle with mental illness. Pershall grew up in Prairie Grove, Arkansas, a town so small that the neighbors might as well have resided in her living room (population: 1,000) and where the prevailing wisdom was that Jesus healed all. Deeply sensitive and intelligent, Pershall felt a constant and profound sense of displacement. From starving herself for days to forcing herself to sleep in her closet because she wasn’t “worthy” of the comfort of a bed, Pershall chronicles with heart-wrenching accuracy the self-loathing of a young woman struggling with anorexia and bulimia.