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Mental Monday


Mental Monday: The Mental Health Lessons We Can Learn From Tragedy

Like so many others across the world, I was horrified to learn of the tragedy that took place on Saturday morning in Tucson. The assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of six innocent victims, including a nine year old girl, was a gut-wrenching shock to the Tucson community and the nation as a whole. Why would someone do this? What would possess a 22 year old man to gun down a group of people? And what can we do to prevent this from happening again?

Whether the young man had a politically based motive to kill Rep. Giffords or not is still speculation. But what we do know is that the alleged murderer is obviously and clearly a very troubled person. What we do know is that he lives with his parents and that others who knew him also knew that something was wrong. So the only question I have right now is this: why didn’t anyone help him?

When we know someone who is troubled, delusional, and unstable, the signs will be there. Someone with the internal rage, delusional behavior, and unstable thought process like this young man exhibited will not be able to hide it easily.  So why was he ignored? As we know all too well, if we ignore, avoid, or deny the serious mental health problems of those we know, it may only result in tragic consequences for that person and/or for others. In fact, recent research has shown the correlation to untreated mental health problems and violence…and the problem is on the rise. (continues…)

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Mental Monday: No Resolution

It’s the same story. At the beginning of each new year, we make resolutions to improve ourselves and our lives.

Lose weight, make more money, start or finish that project, be a better wife, husband, partner, parent, and so forth. Come January, gym memberships soar and self-help books fly off the shelves.

But by March, you will easily be able to find an empty treadmill at the gym, those date nights you promised your partner have yet to happen, and the pictures for the scrap-booking project are still in the box.

Why must it take some arbitrary date on the calendar to motivate us to do better?

I resolve to never have resolutions based on a new year. My only resolutions are the ones I have every waking morning: acknowledge my strengths, recognize my sources of inspiration, focus on the positive, and do the best I can. Don’t live for yesterday or tomorrow. You can long for days gone by or strive for a better life tomorrow, but it’s what you do today that counts. Live in the now and be present. If you want to be a better person or have a better life, take control. No one will do it for you. And when you resolve to be responsible for your own happiness, that’s when things will change.

Here’s to a good day.


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Mental Monday: Anxiety, times 30.

I recently read somewhere that people in their 30′s tend to have the most anxiety over any other age-group. I can’t recall where I read that or verify the research but, on a personal note,  it makes sense to me.

As you settle into your 30′s, there’s a good chance that you’re no longer a professional student or floating from one dead-end job to another.   You probably have a career or a career on hold while you’re raising children.   Although more and more people are holding off on marriage and children well into their 30′s (or abandoning that lifestyle all together), there is a whole host of other responsibilities that people in their 30′s usually have accrued. Maybe you have a demanding career, a mortgage or high rent, and car payments. And school loans from college or for that MA degree from when you were 25 that you may or may not have actually needed. The 30′s are a time when we become more knowledgeable about who we are and what we need in life to make us happy. However, reaching that place of happiness and staying there can easily make the most calm and collected of us into anxious nervous-wrecks.

Societal and familial values, in addition to biological urges,  have created a simple plan for us to follow – school, career, marriage, house, dog, children. Because of that, many people in their 20′s look at their 30′s as a time to get serious, settle down, and work even harder to get ahead. But then we arrive in our 30′s and get nervous when things don’t go as planned. (continues…)

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Mental Monday: Animal-Assisted Therapy in War Zones


Golden Retrievers are often used for therapeutic purposes

I recently learned that a psychology team in Afghanistan brought a few therapy service dogs with them to help the troops.  There is reason to believe that these dogs will be very helpful for the troops as they help keep spirits high and ease the mental and physical stresses associated with combat.

Since World War II, animals have been commonly used in both mental and physical therapeutic settings as a way to help the healing process. From cats and dogs to horses, animals have been proven to be a wonderful way to help people recover from both mental and physical ailments. Anyone who has a companion animal or a service dog already knows that there is nothing like holding, hugging, and petting a warm, soft, and cuddly animal to help ease the mind and soothe the soul.

Animals can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress and anxiety levels. They can also help combat depression and social isolation, two issues that are often comorbid with other mental or psychical health problems. Specially trained service animals have helped people in private therapeutic settings, schools, hospitals, convalescent homes, and even prisons. (continues…)

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Mental Monday: One Angry Man

I read what Mel Gibson said in those tapes to his ex-girlfriend. I didn’t actually hear the tapes, but I read the dialogue. Like most people who heard or read the words that came out of Mr. Gibson’s mouth, I was disgusted. It’s pretty easy to suggest that Mr. Gibson is racist, bigoted, and misogynistic. Ever since that alcohol-fueled episode in 2006, it’s been apparent to the public that Mel Gibson deals with demons. But, these recent tapes were more chilling. These words were directed to the mother of his infant child. They were scary and hateful. The venomous words that spewed from Mr. Gibson’s mouth were beyond misogyny and racism. They were filled with rage.

Anger and rage are not the same. Anger, when expressed in a civilized and controlled way, is a healthy feeling and expression. When anger is suppressed, it only damages the person holding it inside. But when anger is expressed in a volatile way, such as Mr. Gibson’s case, it is beyond anger. It is rage. Anger is not violent. It is not harmful. On the contrary, expressed angry can be healthy and constructive. Rage is not. Rage is distressing. It is harmful. It is emotionally abusive.

Everyone gets angry at some point or another, but not everyone deals with anger the same way. There are three ways people tend to deal with anger: avoid anger, explode with anger, or express anger in a healthy and positive way. Women, more often than men, tend to avoid expressing anger while more men than women explode with anger. Women tend to internalize their anger and suffer in silence. There could be various reasons for that, but it is especially the case when a women is in an abusive relationship.  Women who are in relationships with men that explode with anger often suppress their own anger and other emotions.  They fear that expressing their own anger will set their husband or partner off. And, rightfully so, in many cases. (continues…)

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