I was 21 the first time I had a nervous breakdown at work. It was my first job out of college, working retail at a flagship shoe store in Manhattan. One task was to stand in the doorway, smile, and greet customers. Sounds easy enough, right? Usually it was, but other times, when I was going through depressive phases or masking an anxiety attack, forcing a smile felt like having teeth pulled.
I’d stand fidgeting with my name tag, quietly saying hello to customers, giving my best close-lipped smile, trying my best to look charming without breaking down. A new manager-in-training approached me, and I knew some criticism was coming. They rarely approached employees to say, “Good work.” I was right. He told me to speak louder and smile.
Tears started welling and I speed-walked downstairs to the bathroom. Slumping down to the floor, I sobbed. I cried so hard I thought I was going to vomit. Faking happiness for eight hours a day was nearly impossible, and I didn’t have the energy to pretend I was OK for a second longer. Once I’d gotten rid of most most of the tears, I went back upstairs and asked an older manager if we could talk in his office. Continue reading A Millennial’s Guide to Mental Illness in the Workplace
Despite advances in neuroscience during the past several decades, sleep continues to remain mostly a mystery. We know we need it as much as water, food and air. We can go weeks without eating food, but what would happen if you went weeks without sleep? Maybe you have. Various degrees of insomnia, and official sleep disorders, are serious conditions. But, what about periodic anxieties that are significant enough to disrupt our sleep. Missing one night of sleep can disrupt our normal biorhythms enough to disrupt the next night’s, and the next!
Anxiety, for the most part, originates in the mind. The body sensations and feelings we have surrounding anxiety occur because of the psychosomatic nature of our mind-body system. In other words, when we think about situations, even if subconsciously, that appear to be in some way a threat or potential danger, hormones and chemicals are secreted from glands which then give rise to the physiological experiences of tension, tightness, constriction.
These are useful in fight or flight situations, which we believe, at a subconscious level, exist — even if they don’t. The perceived threat or danger is mostly psychological and consists of “what if” statements and pictures in the mind, that are at best unpleasant, and at most, lifestyle threatening. Most all, anxiety is about a future that is, factually, unknown. Anxiety is based on a lot of conjecture.
If you’re too anxious to sleep, there are things you can do to help set up an environment, both internal and external, more conducive to sleep. Consider these tips: Continue reading Sleeping With Anxiety: 5 Tips to Stop Sharing a Bed With Your Worries
Adam was assigned a female gender at birth, but from an early age he did not feel comfortable identifying as female. Like many transgender people who struggle with mental health issues, the pressure of society’s gender norms caused stress and confusion.
Coming out as transgender is a challenge for anyone, but it was especially difficult for Adam. He grew up in a small, close knit town with one high school. His uncle was also his landlord, an example of how his environment could be suffocating at times.
At the age of 15, Adam came out as transgender and began identifying as a man. With the exception of his father, no one in his family or community supported him. Peers mercilessly bullied and ridiculed him until he dropped out of high school. Then the final blow hit: Because of his decision, his uncle, the landlord, refused to provide him a residence. Continue reading Transgender Mental Health Issues: The Challenges of a Binary World
In recent years, there has been a huge uptick in awareness about narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Many people notice flagrant examples of narcissism, like a coworker who talks endlessly about herself or a date who says most women tell him he’s the most attractive guy they’ve met on Tinder. But sometimes narcissism can be less obvious, and its signs may be counterintuitive.
This is the case particularly in the bedroom. Here’s a list of some sexual characteristics of narcissists. Some might not surprise you, but others could challenge your preconceived notions of narcissism.
Narcissists may actually be very “generous.” You may envision a narcissist as a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am type of lover who is only out to have his or her own orgasm and then rolls over and goes to sleep. Some people fit this description.
Others are much the opposite, though. Many narcissists pride themselves on being expert lovers who can give a partner multiple orgasms and the best experience of their lives. The only downside to this is that narcissists might expect their partners to rhapsodize over their lovemaking skill, and may even prompt partners to discuss this in awkward detail. Even providing oral sex for a partner is still all about the narcissist’s own ego. Continue reading How Narcissists Act in Bed Might Surprise You
Psychopath. It’s a loaded word that immediately brings to mind many associated images. Serial killers and violent criminals tend to be the heart of people’s assumptions. Psychopaths dominate the villain role in media across all forms of entertainment and often take center stage in news broadcasts. Nothing about the word, or the psychopathic person, is good. They are fundamentally evil and should be treated as such.
In many people’s minds this is a belief carved in stone. This is unfortunate because it is mythology at its worst. Psychopathy, a terrible word on its face, is a widely misunderstood and demonized condition due to many factors. The media of course has a large role in this, but the study of psychopaths is also done on prison populations. It seems like a very good place to do so, as the assumption is that psychopaths are unrepentant criminals.
However, the study of those in prison represents but a fraction of the psychopathic community at large. Most of us are among you, your friends, your neighbors, a person with the same basic abiding human nature as you. There is a brilliant quote by Armon J. Tamatea that I often repeat: “Psychopaths in many ways are the least and most visible members of our communities.” We are defined by the worst of us, because the rest of us stay hidden from sight. This is because we are not like those inhabiting the world around us. In fact, we are very different. Continue reading I Am A Psychopath
Psychopath, sociopath, narcissist — these are words we sometimes throw around when talking about people who have difficult personalities or have been harmful to us in some way. Many of my clients, for example, have used these terms to describe their exes or people they don’t like. It’s often used in a pejorative sense.
But what does all of that really mean? The differences are more nuanced and complicated than you may think.
To understand these labels better, we need to first discuss what the basis is for understanding a person’s character or personality. A personality is a cluster of traits that makes up a person’s essence or “feel.” It’s how they interact with the world around them. Continue reading What It Really Means to be a Psychopath, Sociopath, or Narcissist
Psychotherapists are sometimes skeptical about online therapy. Some of the concerns stem from the medium itself. They imagine that it’s difficult to build relationships online, that the lack of body language limits its effectiveness, that tone and nuance are lost in communication. Other concerns center around hours of availability, fear about managing emergencies, or about licensing restrictions.
The vast majority of therapists, however, are interested in embracing new technologies — tools that help them be more data-driven, more available, and better able to track client progress. They’re passionate about how technology can empower their practice, but worry about using it in a safe way that doesn’t endanger their clients’ privacy or expose them to undue liability, as communicating via SMS, email, or Skype does.
Talkspace is one of the technologies helping therapists reach new clients — a HIPAA certified platform that provides a more convenient therapy experience for clients and therapists, one that employs banking-grade encryption and is fully compliant with state licensing regulations. Talkspace also has strict protocols in place to handle emergency situations, including an on-staff Crisis Intervention Expert, continual client risk assessments, and a secure on-platform tool to capture emergency contact information. Talkspace therapists typically set their own flexible hours and reply to clients twice daily on business days. Continue reading 3 Therapists Open Up About Why They Work for Talkspace
Surgery can be a life-changing event, whether you’re treating an emergency medical condition or finally getting a procedure that changes the way you look and feel about yourself. In the whirlwind of presurgical paperwork and meetings and consultations, though, there’s one issue a care team may skip over: postoperative depression.
It’s a strange problem for people to forget to mention, because it’s not uncommon. In a 2000 feature for Harvard Magazine, surgeons described it as an “understandable complication.”
So why aren’t we talking about it? The answer is complex, and it involves a number of stops along a rabbit hole of twists and turns that leave patients unprepared for the emotional aftermath of surgery. While depression may be “understandable,” that doesn’t mean it should be ignored; and refusing to acknowledge that it’s a risk doesn’t resolve the problem.
It’s also very treatable. Prepared patients, particularly those with underlying mental health conditions, can be more proactive about managing it if they’re forewarned.
Clinical Health Psychologist Steven Tovian, who works at Northwestern University in Chicago in addition to maintaining a private practice, told Talkspace one reason postoperative depression falls by the wayside is limited research into the subject. Theories about what causes it may abound, but they aren’t backed by detailed, substantial research that explores the phenomenon and delves into ways to treat it.
Without that information, it’s both harder to treat and more difficult to convince surgical care teams that advising patients could be advantageous for recovery. Cultural attitudes within the medical profession also create a barrier to frank discussions about mental health for surgical patients, which is bad news for those at risk. Continue reading Why Aren’t We Talking About Postoperative Depression?
At Talkspace we have spent plenty of time talking about how you can sign up and text a therapist from anywhere. But what exactly does that look like?
To paint a more vivid picture of how people are using Talkspace, we reached out to our clients and asked them to send us details on interesting and unusual places where they have texted their therapist. They showed us that “anywhere” really can mean anywhere.
Here are some of the places and situations they shared:
It can be difficult to leave work to meet a therapist in an office. Most traditional therapists only work during business hours. Many employees do not work in environments that promote openness regarding mental health and therapy, so they are afraid to ask for time off to commute to a therapist’s office.
Texting a therapist during breaks at work allows employees to avoid these issues. It can be especially useful if they are texting about something work-related, perhaps an important issue they might forget about if they had to wait until after work. Continue reading The Weirdest Place I’ve Ever Talked To My Therapist
Parenthood can be difficult whatever your life circumstances are, but these days, parents seem more over-extended than ever, and stressed to their maximum capacities.
As a result, mental health issues among parents are common. We know that about 1 in 7 mothers are at risk of postpartum depression (and that a growing number of fathers are as well). If untreated, PPD can last for months, or even years. But even beyond the earliest phase of parenthood, mental health disorders abound. Many parents I know battle loneliness, depression, anxiety, and off-the-charts stress and exhaustion.
Very few, however, seek help for these problems.
For most parents, the idea of going to a therapy session for treatment of something like anxiety or depression feels like an impossibility. I know it did for me, for many years. A lifelong anxiety sufferer, I’d been in therapy for 10 years before I became a parent. My anxiety was relatively under control, and when I experienced a brief bout of postpartum anxiety when my first child was born, I brushed it off, thinking it was the usual “just me being anxious.” Continue reading Online Therapy is a Godsend For Busy Parents