Writings

Anxiety, Embodied: The Biology of “Mental” Illness

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Anxiety, Embodied: The Biology of “Mental” Illness

It’s 1965, and a little girl is hiding behind a door. It’s recess, and the other children are jumping rope, playing tag, and laughing as children ought to be at that age, no care in the world. But not the girl, sandwiched between the brick building and the metal door to the classroom. She’s sweating, counting down the minutes until she can once again sit at the back of the class, avoiding being called on. Hoping she won’t be seen. While some of you have only lately been introduced to your capacity for anxiety: the sudden, rapid pulse, the racing thoughts, the inability to sit still,...

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Relax! The Case for Taking It Easy as a Path to Mental Wellness

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Relax! The Case for Taking It Easy as a Path to Mental Wellness

As a beginner massage therapist, I made a rookie mistake. Like many others, massage therapists who specialized in relaxation therapy were seen by me as lesser-than, doing the easy work while the rest of us studied myofascial release, zero balancing, craniosacral therapy and a host of other expensive, intensive trainings that had us moving limbs, stripping adhered tissue, and in general making our clients sweat and grit their teeth. But, by God, we HEALED! Psychotherapy is no different. As a supervisor with over twenty years under my belt as a licensed clinical social worker and more than that...

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Before Returning to Your Normally Scheduled Lives

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Before Returning to Your Normally Scheduled Lives

In my twenties, I did theater. On stage, behind the scenes, and quite a bit of it. In fact, I worked in a theater’s front office for a couple of years, the KiMo in downtown Albuquerque, and was planning on making a career out of it. Really, when you think of it, I haven’t strayed too far…the pull to express on the stage, to support the artists, and above all, the profound intimacy found in group artistic expression. So what has this to do with the holidays? About this time (and perhaps it’s the sugar), I get a weird mixture of relief and withdrawal. It’s not...

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Ready for the Holidays?

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Ready for the Holidays?

Dear Reader, I don’t need to tell you life can be hard. But during the holiday season, hardship for many of you is on steroids. For twenty years, I’ve gladly held my clients’ hands as they navigated the end of the year. Even now I ask my clients, are you ready for the holidays.  Dear Reader, are you? If you’re reading this, the answer is probably “no.” No, I’m not really ready to face my dysfunctional family, I’m not ready for spending the holidays alone, I’m dreading the shopping, the awful muzak, the cheer that all too often feels...

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Good Will

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Good Will

I’m writing this on the Solstice, the shortest day of the year, but what’s really taking up emotional room for my clients, my friends, and me…is Christmas. Whether or not you celebrate this particular holiday, whether or not you’re Christian, unless you’ve been living under a rock you, by now, are inundated by the cheer, albeit sometimes false, of this Currier and Ives season. It is inescapable. The expectation, like a strange shared delusion, that families are wonderful, that bounty has been restored, that peace has already been earned. From a client of mine who cannot go home to...

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Trauma 101: Helping Friends & Family Not To Put Their Foot In It

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Trauma 101: Helping Friends & Family Not To Put Their Foot In It

As you know, the holidays are a particularly difficult time for the chronically challenged, whether you’re suffering from PTSD or Fibromyalgia. So in order to help you help them, I’ve written your holiday letter for you!  Feel free to add, subtract, and modify as you will:   Dear __________________________, I know you don’t know what to say about my illness, and that you’re struggling to find the right words to show that you care for me. Therefore, in the interest of preserving our friendship/marriage/family-work bond (circle appropriate), here are some words to...

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