Author:Paul Gilmartin

Stephen Brophy

The reality TV producer (Somebody’s Gotta Do It) opens up about his depression, social anxiety, history of unrequited love obsessions – especially as a kid, getting sober from prescription opiates and smoking speed thru a broken light bulb!

This episode is sponsored by BlueApron. To get your first three meals free (with FREE shipping) go to www.blueapron.com/mental

This episode is sponsored by SquareSpace for 10% off your first purchase go to www.squarespace.com and use offer code MENTAL

For more on Stephen go to www.stbrophy.com (to buy his books go to the “merch” page on the site)

Follow him on Twitter @STBrophy www.twitter.com/STBrophy

For info on seeing the MIHH podcast at LA Podfest go to www.lapodfest.com

For info on seeing the MIHH podcast at the In This Together Festival in Nov. go to www.ITTFest.com

The post-abortion counseling resources mentioned on the show

www.1in3campaign.org

www.yourbackline.org

www.plannedparenthood.org

 

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Texting Can Actually Help People Who Shut Down: A Guest Blog by listener Paul S.

 

If you’ve ever been rendered non-verbal by any sort of meltdown, shutdown, or panic attack in the presence of other human beings, you know how the actions of well-meaning people can only make matters worse. I imagine that when a relatively normal person sees someone in visible distress, their instincts are to immediately try to comfort you, calm you down—by doing all the wrong things. People start asking you “What’s wrong?” and, when they get no verbal response, sometimes even become even more insistent. They may try to touch your shoulder. I’ve had people try to hug me (note: if you see someone having a meltdown/shutdown/panic attack, that is just about THE WORST thing you can possibly do). All you want to do is flee to a secluded little corner, maybe run to the next room, grab the pillows off the couch and hide behind it while rocking back and forth sucking your thumb, away from the sound and touch of anyone else so you can ride the waves of overwhelming dread until it subsides, but people want to help.

 

I know I can’t speak for everyone, but in these situations, as long as I can get sufficiently far enough away to be sure no one is following me, I can sometimes muster up enough strength to send a text to somebody, who by this point is probably quite alarmed at my strange behavior. If you know the person well, a few words is all it takes for them to understand you need to be left alone in peace for a little while.

 

If you don’t know the person quite as well, however, it takes way too much energy to explain what happened, so why bother?

 

There are a couple of ways I’ve found to get around that second scenario. One is to have a text template saved somewhere on your smartphone, explaining what is happening in your head and instructing them to be gentle, quiet, not to touch you and, if needed, help you find a place to escape to for a little while.

 

More recently, I’ve been using an app called Emergency Chat (Note: This is in no way meant to be an official, commercial endorsement of Emergency Chat. I have nothing to do with its developers or distributors. Besides, it’s free; how would they have the money to pay me anyway?),  which you can get for free for Androids and iPhones. Upon opening the app, it displays a message, which you can customize. (sample screenshot of the one I wrote, slightly modified from the stock template that comes when you first use the app). It’s much faster than trying to find a text file on your phone, and an added bonus is that it actually acts as a sort of texting platform, i.e. you can even hand the phone back and forth exchanging typed messages with the other party without the need to actually speak.

Textpic

 

 

Textpic2

 

I only jumped on the smartphone bandwagon a couple of years ago, and with all the mood trackers, medication reminders, and other apps like the one described above, it has drastically changed and improved the way I record, review, and analyze my moods and lifestyle, in ways that are surprising and often ingenious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Recovering from Religious Harm

Recovering from Religious Harm

Do you ever wonder about whether religion has had a harmful effect on your life? If you have experience with controlling, authoritarian religious indoctrination, it may very well be true.

I’ve been working with people recovering from religion for over 20 years, and a few years ago, I noticed that some symptoms actually looked a lot like PTSD. I coined the term Religious Trauma Syndrome, or RTS. It refers to the damage done by religion as well as the trauma of leaving religion. Here are some examples:

“I feel angry, powerless, hopeless, and hurt – scars from the madness Christianity once had me suffering in.”

“It took years of overcoming terrific fear as well as self-loathing to emancipate myself from my cult-like upbringing years ago.”

“There is a lot of guilt and I react to most religion with panic attacks and distress, even photos, statues, or TV…. I guess although I was willing it was like brainwashing. It’s very hard to shake… It’s been a nightmare.”

So why is this problem not recognized and discussed? At present, religion is still seen in our society as either helpful or benign. There is no training in psychology programs for treating religious trauma and most therapists do not understand. In fact, therapists sometimes suggest religion to treat psychological problems.

Yet there are serious issues in religious dogma and practice that affect mental health. Fundamentalist Christianity is a good example. I call the two biggest problems “the horror” and “the terror.”

“The horror” refers to the way believers are taught to despise themselves. You are taught to think you are born bad and need of saving – there is no good in you at all and that is why Jesus had to die. Even after you are “saved” you always have to work to be good enough. This is devastating to a healthy sense of self, which is necessary for personal identity and mental health.

“The terror” refers to the overarching fear that is taught – fear about the world, other people, the future, and most of all, eternal damnation in hell. This is the terrifying backdrop of the entire religion, no matter what is said about love. You may hope to escape punishment but you never know for sure and so you always have anxiety. After you leave the religion, this terror can haunt you for years and be debilitating.

Christianity can also cause an existential crisis by creating a false reality and making wild promises. You get told you will have a perfect relationship with God, you will become perfect, God has a perfect plan for your life, you can spend all your time working for a huge cosmic purpose, and eventually, you will live for eternity in a perfect place. Alternatively, you are told there is no other coherent way to think about life; there is no meaning in life outside this framework. Thus when a person leaves the faith, they feel lost and scared. The challenges of ordinary life are exaggerated, and finding new meaning in life seems impossible.

As one person said, “I get depressed and upset. Jesus no longer saves me. God no longer created me. What purpose is there? What am I left with? What do ex-Christians fill the hole with? So we are here for no reason, no divine plan. Reality is harsh. . .it’s like having your entire world turned upside down, no, destroyed.”

 

Added to this is the problem of losing a support system. Church is often a person’s social life and families are often still in the faith. Finding new connections in “the world” can be daunting.

So what is to be done?

  1. The first thing is to understand what you are going through. In addition to the above, you can read about RTS at my website.
  2. Realize that you are not alone. Many people are leaving religion and going through these issues.
  3. Understand on a deep level that what you are going through is NOT YOUR FAULT.
  4. Take time to get informed. Read about the issues and also stories of others who have left the faith. Ex.christian.net is one place.
  5. Realize there is hope. On my website there are “messages of hope” and video testimonials.
  6. Find ways of getting support. This could be individual counseling from someone who understands, a support group, or a retreat. Check online or in your community.
  7. Know that people do get better and it does not have to take a lifetime.

 

Marlene Winell, Ph.D. is a psychologist, retreat leader and author of Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalist and Others Leaving Their Religion.

Journeyfree.org

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Social Worker In Training

28 year-old Cynthia Pena ACSW opens up about her life, experiencing skin tone prejudice within the Hispanic community, being the “good child” who gets forgotten, anxiety, triggers, working in an overloaded county system helping children with severe or persistent mental illnesses and her dream of expanding the role of mental health in athletics.

Follow Cyndi on Twitter @Ms_Cyndi_Pena

For more information on Paul’s appearance at LAPodfest Sept 23-25 go to www.lapodfest.com and use offer code HAPPY for $5 off.

 

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Meth-Induced Psychosis- en Español: Fond Memoirs of an Ex East Oakland Therapist

Meth-Induced Psychosis- en Español: Fond Memoirs of an Ex East Oakland Therapist

The city of Oakland, California is famous as one of the top five most dangerous cities in the United States and is referenced in rap songs, home to the Oakland Raiders with the wildest fans, and has distinctly different neighborhoods, ranging from north Oakland that houses some of the best Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurants- to Rockridge, a neighborhood of rather affluent people and expensive boutiques. In east Oakland, the neighborhood of Fruitvale is heavily populated by Latino immigrants, fruits stand on corners selling tropical fruit topped with hot chile and lime, a lady yelling out all the flavors of cream she can fill your hot churro with, and the “elote” (corn) guy with the horn and bells on his cart that people run outside just to flag down. There is a large amount of poverty, crime, highly stressed households, and low paying jobs. Due to the stressors of living in a dangerous city with frequent gun shots in the distance, robberies at gun point, and lack of mental health services, street drugs serve as the remedy for many to escape from the overwhelming environment and economic struggles.

I worked as a therapist in east Oakland for the last few years and the amount of people complaining of psychotic symptoms seems to have skyrocketed dramatically. Whenever a client reports to me that they are hearing voices, seeing moving shadows, feeling radiation, or having paranoia and delusions, I always check for meth to rule it out. Why? Meth is one of the most commonly used stimulant drugs right now due to its low price, lasting high, and abundant availability. Studies show that the use of methamphetamine can induce a psychotic break and leave someone with a lifetime of symptoms appearing very much like schizophrenia even years after stopping meth use. The majority of folks that start to show psychotic symptoms from an organically occurring psychotic illness is around age 19, give or take a couple years. When I see someone older say they just started hearing voices, I have to investigate.

A gang-affiliated Mexican female who grew up in deep east Oakland once told me in a session “What the fuck, Grace! This is bullshit! I used crystal before and it didn’t make this happen? I can’t stop these creepy ass voices telling me to do nasty shit! It makes me just wanna do it so they shut the fuck up! Then I yell back and them to shut the fuck up and then people think I’m loca.” Some people can use stimulant drugs for years and have no psychotic break but for the unlucky bunch for whom it triggers a break, antipsychotic medication and therapy for coping with psychosis are often required to alleviate symptoms.

Medication compliance can be tricky with folks who are new to taking psych meds and there is often a sense of shame around what it means about oneself to take psychiatric medication. This is particularly common in the monolingual undocumented Spanish speaking community who often report, “Pues Graciela, no me gusta tomar pastillas” (Well Grace, I don’t like taking pills). Culturally, its odd to take pills and natural remedies are preferred, not limited to doing a “limpia,” a cleansing using burning herbs performed by a traditional healer. Some try religion and church to see if they can get relief and “pray away” the radiation from the F.B.I. who, apparently, have been parked outside our therapy session for the last hour.

Methamphetamine, crystal, crank, ice…whatever you call it was referred to as “azucar amarga” (bitter sugar), by a Salvadorian male who developed psychosis after feeling intolerable sadness and abandonment after his girlfriend cheated on him and got pregnant by the other man. He stated that he was saving up for an engagement ring for her and would talk about having children together who could go to college in the U.S. and have the opportunities he didn’t have. He worked a minimum wage construction job where his boss called him a “stupid Mexican,” reminding him of the major cultural tension between his country of origin in Central America and Mexico. “Lo odio cuando me llaman Mexicano” (I hate when they call me Mexican), he commented, triggering his memory of being robbed and pistol-whipped when passing through Mexico on foot in the sweltering heat, trying to make it to California. He would share that he would sometimes hide in the “porta potty” to text her that he loved her and referred to her as “mi reina” (my queen). In Spanish he told me, “I feel like meth is comparable to my ex-girlfriend…they both were beautiful, thrilling, and seductive, but ruined my life and left my mind forever fucked.”

 

If you or anyone you know needs help with meth you can contact,

Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) www.crystalmeth.org
Call 211 to ask for local substance abuse treatment resources
Phone your health insurance company to gain a referral

 

Grace Pacheco, MFT is a bilingual psychotherapist with a private practice in Pinole, CA and sees individuals, couples, families, and performs psychological evaluations in collaboration with immigration attorneys. You can learn more about her by visiting her website at www.EastBayAreaTherapy.com

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Andrea C

Paul’s support group friend and writer talks about weighing 95 lbs at 5 years-old, being in foster homes and psych wards, surviving incest, learning self-love and dealing with addictions to food and abusive men.

This episode is sponsored by Blue Apron.  To see this month’s menu and your first three meals free (including free delivery) go to www.blueapron.com/mental

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What is Energy Work? Why Should I Try It?: Guest Blog by Adi Shakti

Feeling Stuck? Try Energy Work!

 

Being raised by people who are damaged emotionally or mentally can leave you feeling lost inside and possibly repeating the same mistakes as an adult. Experiencing abandonment, shame, and betrayal, can cause you to feel that you are grasping for the straws of a “normal life”, because internally there are missing pieces. Healing starts when you are ready to let go of denial / distraction and there are many healing modalities to find your authentic, integrated self.

 

Some are physical ways that validate the body, like sports, walking in nature, being with animals, or giving to your body with bodywork or spa treatments. These are tools that actively let you choose how you want your body to be treated or feel.

 

On an emotional level there are various talk or process therapies where you can practice speaking your truth, being heard, experience emotional intimacy with appropriate boundaries, and feel what it’s like to be in a relationship with another who has your best interests in mind. [There are ways to practice managing emotions like depression or anxiety so that they don’t loom so large in life.] These emotional tools empower you to experience healthy thoughts and feelings that feed your growth and evolution.

 

As you go through life processing and releasing the betrayal, abandonment and shame you experienced, you may reach a point where the emotional and physical tools you relied on don’t address the nagging destructive thoughts or feelings lurking in the recesses of your mind, self sabotage tendencies, or how to be with your family of origin. That’s where energy tools become useful.

 

Energy work techniques are another set of tools in your arsenal that you can use to decide what thoughts-beliefs-feelings will guide your life, rather than being at the mercy of the pop up circus of infectious crazy playing in your head. Energy work is an active form of meditation using your imagination to create change in your body and life. Everything, including our thoughts and feelings are energy. Wherever our attention goes, energy follows and manifests.

 

When you experience abuse, it not only is an insult to your structure and emotions but a literal disturbance of your energy field. It creates an opening for foreign (someone else’s) energy (thoughts / feelings) to enter your space (body /aura).   You then operate your body or live your life based on someone else’s beliefs. This is uncomfortable, like wearing someone else’s clothes, and can lead to body pain, or mental confusion. It can be mild, like chronic depression / anxiety, or severe, like psychosis / multiple personalities.

You don’t have to believe in any of this to benefit from it, you just have to develop a practice. It’s the repeated thought / vision, backed by intent / feeling (while in a meditative state) that build new neural / energetic pathways, that literally build a new body / life.

 

This may sound complicated, but is actually quite simple. When you release foreign energy from your space, and fill your space back up with your own energy, that is the same thing as owning your space, which is the same thing as being present, which is the same thing as self love. If you feel that an abusive experience has taken something away from you, you’re right, it has. And energy work builds your spiritual muscles so that you can sense how to get yourself back. This is your birthright!

 

Adi Shakti

 

Doing healing work on the physical /emotional /spiritual levels since 1987.

http://sites.google.com/site/adishaktihealing/

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Luke Burbank

The podcaster (Too Beautiful To Live), radio host (Live Wire Radio) and tv host (CBS Morning News) talks about his outbursts of anger that get physical, always feeling uncomfortable in his skin and being hyper vigilant to avoid criticism.

This episode is sponsored by SquareSpace. For a free trial and 10% off your first purchase go to www.squarespace.com and use offer code MENTAL

Get info on Paul’s upcoming appearances in Oakland

Follow Luke Burbank on Twitter @LukeBurbank

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