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I've recently recovered from agoraphobia, and managed to go
home for the holidays (by myself) after many years! I was thrilled
with this, but noticed some anxiety symptoms cropping up while I
was there, and after my return. I thought I was done with this issue--but
feel like I'm losing ground, which is confusing and discouraging!
Why is this happening?
You've not mentioned the methods by which you achieved
your recovery, but anxiety, panic and agoraphobia (an intense panic
condition that keeps you homebound) are feeling-related
issues. You didn't develop this problem in a vacuum; you were influenced
by a number of environmental factors growing up, that made you discard
certain traits/emotions. Returning to that environment (even for
a brief time) can reactivate toxic relational dynamics,
and put you at risk for a regression. Learning to manage the symptoms
of Panic Disorder is not the same as healing
I have a 2nd grade student that has ADD. My concern is sometimes
she won't try; I understand, because I was like her when I was young
(I have ADD), but sometimes she'll deliberately not try, give up,
or fake not knowing how to do something. I know she often truly
doesn't remember due to the disability, other times she's just in
the mood to manipulate. In other words, it is all mixed up. I feel
like sometimes I have to put pressure on her to know which it really
is--her ADD or her manipulating. I feel that insisting she try something,
and not feeding her the answers is necessary for her growth, however
I do not wish to emotionally scar her, if she truly is having an
episode. Can you give me some advice? Her parents refuse to give
her any type of medication or recognize her disability. Thanks
Your 2nd grader gets more attention from you when she under-performs,
right?? In a sense, you could be rewarding poor behavior. With a
child this young, it's important you try to keep a balanced perspective.
If she has to repeat a grade, it might help her gain a sense of
competency, and benefit her later on. I think it's possible that
you're projecting your own unresolved frustration and shame onto
this student; it appears you're wanting to rescue
her from certain obstacles you've had to grapple with (which
is seldom possible), and this has ignited your hyperfocus. All this
is understandable, but it doesn't serve either of you. Direct your
attention to the students who are capable of learning and achieving.
Assist this child whenever/wherever you can, but stop needing
her to be like the others.
I'm wanting to get full custody of my 10 year old son, but am
worried that my Bipolar diagnosis could inhibit this. His mother's
very neglectful and leaves him alone a lot. Seems she's too busy
dating and running around with friends, to care about his
needs. Do you think I have a chance?
Sounds like you need some legal expertise, which isn't my forte.
You may want to consult with a family law attorney, to see what's
involved in starting this process. If you're taking medication(s)
to control your bipolar
symptoms, and you've felt stable for what may
need to be a requisite period of time, I see no reason why this
should be at issue. Try to speak with your Ex about your desire
to have your son with you full time, and steer clear of
any urges to turn this into a "shame game" (this is
not the time to point out her inadequate parenting skills)!
Your verbal assurances that she can visit with him when it suits
her convenience, may help her see this as a win/win for all
concerned. Propose this idea as an option, and give her
some time to think about it. A custody battle is one of your
options, but it's best to avoid this (if possible).
Shari, I can't thank you enough, for helping me figure out that
this terrible itching problem I've had for years, is related to
a soy allergy! I've given away or discarded
every product in my kitchen that contains anything made with soy,
and the tormenting hives have finally disappeared. I'm now checking
labels on everything I buy (which is a pain in the ass), and I miss
my fish marinades and lunchtime sushi, but it's a small price to
pay for being free of this discomfort. In my wildest dreams, I could
never have imagined that you could help me with this
issue, as well. Many, many thanks, and God bless.
You're welcome; when you mentioned this nightly pattern of discomfort,
I sensed it was related to a food allergy. Your body's normal protection
reflex will alert you to any substance you've acquired
a sensitivity to, even if it takes years to reach toxic levels in
your system. Your willingness to keep records of when symptoms were
most pronounced and try a process of elimination, helped us get
to this solution. Be sure and thank yourself, too!
Is the need for constant change a symptom of bipolar disorder?
No. The need for constant change is usually prompted by
cravings for more stimulation or sense of aliveness, which is associated
with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD).
It's fairly common for this neurological issue to co-exist
with Bipolar Disorder, or be part of a dual diagnosis.
In the past decade or so, my wife has had one health crisis
after another, and I've been feeling the strain of it. We've been
together nearly fourteen years and I love her very much, but each
time she gets sick my stress levels skyrocket. I have to take significant
time off work in order to get her to medical appointments, and I
exert a huge amount of energy taking care of her needs (and household
chores) during these times. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I've begun
to resent being held prisoner by her illnesses. HELP! BP
A. Dear BP, it's pretty tough living with someone who's incapacitated
or ailing, but when I notice a long-standing, repetitive pattern
in a couple's dynamic (as you've described) I start to
wonder why and how this evolved in the first place. In other words,
what underlying reasons or issues might be driving this
pattern or keeping it alive? We adopt patterns of relating when
there's a subconscious 'payoff' for
us in them. A payoff can be positive OR negative, but the pattern
is maintained until the payoff is removed--or is no longer needed.
Does your wife receive considerably more attention from you
when she's ill? Are you more involved, caring, concerned or affectionate
during these times? Many people lacked nurturant care and/or
attention in childhood, unless they were severely hurt or bleeding.
Serious illness or injury (finally) got their parent's attention,
but they often felt invisible the rest of the time, except
for harsh attention when they were "bad." Attention's
referred to as "strokes" in the psychological
community, and any kind of stroke can feel better than
no strokes at all. Some kids act-out or misbehave to get
strokes, and some get very, very sick or badly hurt. Try paying
more 'special' attention to your wife next time she's feeling
well, and you may find yourself running to fewer doctors.
I'm really scared that I might be getting Alzheimer's
Disease. Within these past couple of years (I'm 55), I've been forgetting
names of movies, actors, etc., and also, when I leave one room of
my house for another, I can't for the life of me remember why! I
know there are drugs and supplements on the market these days that
are supposed to help with this, and was wondering if you had any
First of all, you may be experiencing a natural response
to aging, but I've spoken with people in their 20's - 30's who've
complained about exactly what you're describing. I think
this is an attention span
issue more than anything else; you have an urge to get
or do something in another room, and that impulse gets detoured
by other stimuli along the way. When you return to the original
room, the reason you left pops into your brain in an instant,
so this is not an aging issue. Think of your mind as
a personal computer. It holds all kinds of information like
sense memory (touch, smell, taste, visual, etc.), as well as enormous
amounts of varied data (personal, academic, business, etc.) that's
been 'downloaded' since you were born! Have you
ever owned a PC for more than several
years? Would you expect it to function perfectly, if you
did? When you search your desk's computer for old files or documents
relating to a specific topic, doesn't it usually take a few minutes?
Well, the 'puter' between your ears isn't very different! After
50+ years of storing data, it's probably got plenty to
sort through (wouldn't it be great, if we could 'defrag'
our brains?). Aricept is a drug that seems effective
for targeting Alzheimer's symptoms, but (for now) why not experiment
with supplements that claim to address your needs? Beyond this,
do whatever's necessary to stop focusing
on this issue; your fear
and preoccupation with it is undermining you!
After years of compulsive overeating I've been diagnosed with
reflux disease. My doctor has me on medication
that's supposed to help--but it's been weeks now, I'm still pretty
uncomfortable and the dietary limitations are really a drag. Any
A. Dear BK, acid reflux is a multi-layered issue and should be approached
as such. Attention to proper food combining will help tremendously
with your problem, and you'll probably lose weight as a bonus! Buy
(the original) Fit 4 Life, by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond and READ
chapter 6. Compulsive
over-eating involves swallowing or "stuffing"
difficult feelings, in order to self-soothe! Be gentle
with yourself, and the next time you're reaching for food when you
aren't truly hungry--or you feel compelled to eat past the point
of feeling satisfied, try checking in with your feelings,
thoughts or memories, to figure out what's eating You.
Your site makes a lot of sense in explaining the hypomania of
bipolar. I have never experienced the mania or
"glee" I thought was implied. If one is dysthymic, on
a mood stabilizer (Topamax) and under psych care, but still feels
low energy and listless, would an ADD med like Adderall help?
First, various medical issues (i.e. anemia) can cause fatigue, and
should be ruled out by a physician. An amphetamine like
Adderall, or a stimulating antidepressant (WellbutrinXL) can help
override your symptoms, especially if you have attention
deficit issues (ADD/ADHD), but with a bipolar
diagnosis, your doctor has to exercise caution when prescribing
drugs that may prompt a manic response. Undermedicated depression
can contribute to your feeling "low energy," and a mood
stabilizer (Topamax) alone, may be insufficient for treating
issues. It's possible that another type of drug might be better
tolerated, but the
time of day you take your meds can also leave
you feeling tired/listless! The following should (at least) be considered
as well: Allergic reaction to certain foods can easily cause fatigue;
pay close attention to how you feel after
a meal, as this helps you determine what
items to avoid. We lose vital digestive enzymes as we age, which
means that the foods we eat cannot be utilized (for energy)
by our bodies. If you're unable to process/extract the nutrients
your body needs to function, this alone could cause tiredness!
If you're always especially tired after eating, you're
either not digesting your foods because of insufficient levels of
stomach acids/enzymes (these can be purchased at a health food store),
you're combining your foods improperly (which blocks digestion),
or you may have food allergies. Extremely common allergens
are wheat and corn.
Shari, I'm pretty healthy and strong, but have pain in my limbs
at night (mostly legs and feet), that often keeps me awake. I eat
healthy, exercise regularly and take a variety of supplements. Seems
I've tried everything to eliminate this problem,
but nothing's worked. My job requires I be alert during the daytime,
and this lack of sleep is really getting me down!
I'm exasperated and (even) a little depressed. Help? "Sleepless
Dear Sleepless, lack of restful sleep inhibits your brain's ability
to produce a chemical called serotonin,
which certainly puts you at risk for depression. There could be
a number of reasons for your symptoms, and it's advisable to have
your doctor rule out any medical issues. Acupuncture may be worth
exploring! Personally, I've found magnet
therapy to be phenomenal for
body pain, and it's helped numerous friends and clients. I can't
offer you guarantees, but I'd reached
a point of; what have I got to lose? I honestly don't understand
how they work, but wearing magnetic anklets/bracelets has
provided amazing relief and benefit, beyond anything I could have
imagined. Click the link (above) for info on where to find them.
My sister has questions. She says, "I have been in pain
for approx. 8 years for nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I
don't sleep, even with sleep aids. I'm 51 years of age and have
had stress related ulcers since I was 16. I have high blood pressure
and heart difficulties. What about fibro-myalgia?
I'm not qualified to advise you on these serious medical
conditions, but I firmly believe that the mind, body and spirit
are inseparable, and that psychic/emotional trauma is stored in
the physical body. Unresolved pain of this type has to go somewhere,
and can prompt addictions,
sleep disorders, anxiety/panic
disorders and somatic disturbances, such as ulcers.
It appears your "sister's" difficulties began
very early, and I can't help but wonder what kinds of stressors
this 16 year old had to endure! Psychosomatic
illness is very real, but often starts when painful memories
and feelings are denied or buried. A terrific little book; Heal
Your Body, by Louise Hay reveals
the mental causes for physical ailments, and may be helpful in discovering
the root of your troubles, and how to begin healing.
Dear Shari, I'm making plans to fly home for the holidays, but
have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I'm looking forward to
seeing my friends, but it's always tough being
around my family. I've had a stomach ache these last few days (while
trying to book my flights) that doesn't seem to be letting up. My
folks are expecting me and I don't want to disappoint them, but
there's a part of me that's really not looking forward to being
there, which I feel guilty about! I always come back with some kind
of cold or flu virus, so this is another thing that concerns me.
I seem to go through this struggle every year and I bite the bullet
and go, but does this stuff ever get any easier??? JT
Dear JT, it may be comforting to know you're not alone (this issue
plagues hundreds of thousands of individuals every year). Returning
home even for a short time can expose us to toxic interactions
that made us want to move away in the first place (97% of my clients
have put at least 3,000 miles between themselves and their
parents). Your physical symptoms tell me you just can't stomach
going--and it appears your immune system collapses under the stress
of being there. Many people get depressed around the holidays, not
because they aren't with family--but because (as children) this
was never a joyous time for them. This is the subtext
that's running in the background, while our immediate environment
is telling us we're 'supposed' to be happy and gleeful
this time of year! I've coached many people on how to manage negative/destructive
elements they may encounter when returning home (for any
reason). Here are just a few of my Back
at Home Survival Tips:
Logistics: Ask everyone to meet you at one
place; you shouldn't have to drive more than 20 minutes
at most to see Grandma, a sibling or anyone else who lives
in the area! 2. Escape hatch: Know where the
"emergency exits" are in any room and USE 'em! The
moment you start to feel cornered or picked on, excuse
yourself, and go out for a walk, to the bathroom, outside for a
smoke, to the store to pick something up, etc. 3.
Shine up your armor and take it with you: Go prepared
for skirmishes and attacks (you could be re-entering a war zone).
4. Deflect those slings and arrows: When underhanded
comments or 'barbs'
come your way, say; "I'm not sure what you meant by that--would
you be clearer?" or "what are you trying to say?"
You'll usually hear back; "you're being too sensitive,"
or "oh, I'm just kidding!" (by the way,
'kidding' is when both people see the humor in
a situation!). You've finally confronted their hurtful
behavior; be consistent with this! 5. Manage your
mood with food: Proteins will center and empower
you. Starches increase brain
which calms you, eases depression and helps you sleep better (try
eating these at night). You can have all the veggies you
want with either, but it's best not to mix the two during the same
mealtime. If you're on antidepressant therapy, it can be useful
to slightly increase your dosage while away (be sure and check
with your doctor on this).