How I Overcame Loneliness

man alone in bed dark room blinds shut

One of the darker times in my life came after the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. It was the end of Albuquerque’s Pride weekend, a celebration of togetherness and community, but I quickly found myself feeling more isolated than ever. In times of tragedy, healthy people lean on others for support. I didn’t do that.

After a year of shutting out everybody who tried to care about me, I had nobody left to talk to. My best friend was in another city and my parents were in another state. All my friends were seeking solace with their families, their close friends, and their lovers, while I was attempting to drown out the collective sobs of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters with my one true love — work.

But misery doesn’t just love company, it needs it to heal. After a couple days of denial, I fell apart. All I wanted was a hug. I chose to seek comfort in people I thought were sure to know exactly how I felt: other gay men. Not quite finished with my poor life choices, I chose to connect with them on Grindr. I can say with great confidence that one-night flings with strangers will do nothing to fix loneliness. Continue reading How I Overcame Loneliness

How Perfectionism Hurts Your Relationships

mom on phone and computer with baby

Often, people think of perfectionism as positive. After all, who doesn’t want to be perfect? Perfection isn’t attainable, though. The search for it can ruin relationships and contribute to extreme levels of anxiety and rigidity. Let’s examine an example of how perfectionism can sabotage an intimate relationship for a mother of two.

Anna (not her real name, a composite based off of several clients I have had in my practice) is a 35-year-old mom of two kids, ages three and five. She has always been a high achiever and currently is a high-performing real estate agent as well as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, homeowner, and pet owner. Anna has prided herself on her appearance, and she likes to keep her house tidy and neat. She also wants to be perceived as thin and fit, which she insists helps her make sales on the job. Continue reading How Perfectionism Hurts Your Relationships

Women Share Slut Shaming Stories — and Admit Why They Do it Themselves

still not asking for it poster woman at rally

In an era when it seems we’re celebrating feminism more than ever, and sharing stories in solidarity of abuse and assault, why are people still tearing women down over their sexuality? Both in person and online, slut shaming is way too common an occurrence — and oftentimes, the perpetrator is a fellow female! It’s so common that the term is in the Oxford Dictionaries, defined as: “The action or fact of stigmatizing a woman for engaging in behaviour judged to be promiscuous or sexually provocative.”

I took to a secret women-only Facebook group to get some input. Only minutes after asking “Does anyone want to share stories about being slut shamed?” responses were pouring in. Even in just this 200 person group, it seemed a majority had stories to share, ranging from accounts happening only days before to experiences going back years. Continue reading Women Share Slut Shaming Stories — and Admit Why They Do it Themselves

The Emotional Impact Of Frequent Moves During Childhood

unhappy girl arms folded moving with parents

By the time I was 12 years old, I had moved 10 times — more if you count the separate moves my parents made after they split up. My parents were hippies (or beatniks, if you ask my mother), always up for an adventure, and always hoping that a change of place would fix their problems and make them happy.

In certain ways, I see the moves we made when I was a kid as part of a wild, interesting, beautiful ride. But mostly, I hated moving, and I think of the moves my family made as symptomatic of their impulsive, unstable behavior — and at least one of the triggers of my lifelong anxiety and panic disorder.

Melissa Moreno, LCSW-R, a Talkspace therapist, agrees that frequent childhood moves can contribute to anxiety for some children. “Frequent moves can bring up some uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety and impact one’s ability and desire to build and maintain relationships,” she told me. “Some individuals link frequent moves to lower life satisfaction and poorer psychological well-being.” Continue reading The Emotional Impact Of Frequent Moves During Childhood

Meet Our Therapists: Alyssa Lentz

Alyssa Lentz Talkspace therapist illustrated head shot quote

Therapists are as unique as the clients who seek their help. Talkspace’s “Meet Our Therapists” series offers intimate access to the mental health professionals who provide care. It’s a view of their passion for making therapy more accessible. Check out our latest interview below!

Name: Alyssa Lentz

Licensing Info: Licensed Professional Counselor [LPC] in Wisconsin (6329-125) and Texas (77669)

Time Working With Talkspace: 6 months

Time Working as a Therapist: 3 years

Why are you working in therapy/mental health?

I started working in the mental health field because, as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to help people. It’s not fun to battle mental health alone. I have struggled with anxiety and know how difficult it can be. I wanted to provide a nonjudgmental, safe place where people can open up and stop hiding. Continue reading Meet Our Therapists: Alyssa Lentz

Why We Don’t Talk About Miscarriage

teddy bear in empty child room

Miscarriage and stillbirth are emotionally intense and very unique forms of grief and trauma, ones that often occur in privacy and silence. For parents eagerly anticipating the arrival of a new family member, fetal death — whether it occurs early or late in pregnancy — can be devastating. The shroud of secrecy that hangs over these topics may make it challenging to talk about, but it’s critical to bring these conversations into the light.

I talked with two experts, Boston-based psychologist Aline Zoldbrod and Doctor Elizabeth Fitelson of Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry, about the emotional and cultural issues surrounding miscarriage and stillbirth — and how to approach this very distinctive life experience. Continue reading Why We Don’t Talk About Miscarriage

The Psychology Behind Success and Failure

light bulb broken lit on table

Need a little inspiration? Inc has a nice list of quotes to inspire success. I’ll just share with you the top three:

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston S. Churchill

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” — Herman Melville

“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” — Colin R. Davis

Notice anything these have in common?

All three involve success and failure. There’s a reason for this, and it’s the key behind the psychology of success and failure. Continue reading The Psychology Behind Success and Failure

How Pop Culture Impacts Mental Health Treatment

abandoned asylum hallway

Asylums. Insulin shock therapy. Metrazol shock therapy. Electric shock treatment. All miracle cures for mental illness, right? If you read the newspaper in the 1940s, you might think so.

While reporting on the “high standard of psychiatric care” at new facilities at the Hillside Hospital in Queens, NY, in October 1941, The New York Times wrote, “The hospital has pioneered in the use of insulin and metrazol, and also in the electric shock treatment, which has proved useful in shortening the average stay of patients.”

“The electric treatment, they say, at least is not unpleasant, so the patient may be more inclined to cooperate with the physician in future treatments,” said The New York Times in 1940.

If you think these treatments sound more like a horror film, there’s a reason. Continue reading How Pop Culture Impacts Mental Health Treatment

5 Ways To Improve Your Body Image, Confidence, and Mental Health

woman in red sweater looking at small square mirror

Imagine what life would be like if we stood in front of the mirror and focused on what we love about ourselves instead of what we wish we could change?

It seems instead that a majority of us veer toward thinking negatively, giving attention to our so-called flaws. We are bombarded with images of beautiful celebrities and models on television, in magazines, and on billboards. Even our own cell phones — Instagram, I’m looking at you — can be culprits, inundating us with photographs of people who have likely slapped on a filter and Facetuned themselves to “perfection.” What’s the result? A never ending supply of edited images and a load of viewers feeling inadequate and uncomfortable in their own skin.

All of this leads to unrealistic expectations of what we should look like, dress like, and act like. As technology advances and we’re more connected than ever, it seems that self esteem — especially of millennials — declines. Recent studies show a definite link between social media usage and low self esteem. It’s way too easy to fall down a rabbit hole on Facebook or Instagram. You can be on your feed and next thing you know you’re on your ex-boyfriend’s sister’s best friend’s page wishing you had abs as great as hers. Continue reading 5 Ways To Improve Your Body Image, Confidence, and Mental Health

How to Manage Social Anxiety When Meeting Your SO’s Friends

man with girlfriend her friends in living room

My first experience meeting a significant other’s close friends was like being thrown into the lion’s den. I’m from a small rural town and had recently moved to a city. The group I was diving into was a suburban clique that had known each other since childhood.

I was in an unfamiliar place. People asked me lots of questions. I drank to relax. Long story short, it was awful.

Just getting out and dating with social anxiety comes with its own set of pitfalls and requires both courage and commitment. Now that you’ve jumped that hurdle, getting serious means meeting friends and family. This step of relationship growth can be a big social anxiety trigger.

Over the years, I searched for ways to make the best of meeting my partner’s friends, much to the benefit of the authors of the books I bought and therapist I paid. The following tips are what I learned and will help you have the best experience possible when meeting your significant other’s close friends or family. Before we dive in, my tips assume your partner knows about your social anxiety, your symptoms, and is committed to supporting you. If that’s not the case, that should be your first step. Continue reading How to Manage Social Anxiety When Meeting Your SO’s Friends