The Grief Competition: My Time at the Death Cafe

coffee with skull and beans in saucer at cafe

Sprinting down a crowded New York street is inherently cinematic. More than once, I’ve imagined myself on the big screen while running to catch a bus. Secretly, I love the hustle. Moving faster than those around me, looking harried and focused, is a way of silently communicating what I’d never say aloud: Look at me! I’m going places! Watch me pass you by!

October 2013, approximately four years ago: I’m clomping down Sixth Avenue, weaving through the Midtown after-work crowd, my water bottle and empty Tupperware clanging together in my canvas tote. I’m en route to a mediocre Chinese restaurant to talk about death with a bunch of strangers, and I’m running late, as usual. But running late to a Death Café feels like a hackneyed metaphor, a body in motion a painfully prescient reminder of the end destination. Continue reading The Grief Competition: My Time at the Death Cafe

What Is Crippling Depression?

depressed man in bed dark room

On a popular thread discussing crippling depression, one woman used her story to exemplify the condition.

“Everything seemed difficult,” she wrote.

She opened up about losing her job because she was unable to perform, neglecting basic hygiene and bills, feeling physically ill and contemplating suicide, among other issues.

“I would call it where you literally don’t want to do anything,” wrote another participant. “You are basically confined to your bed, without eating, without drinking and just want to wither away in your self-pity.”

Therapist Christine Fuchs learned about crippling depression through her work and offered similar descriptions. She listed a pervasive and significant decline in functioning in all areas of life. The illness makes people feel like “everything is overwhelming.”

Continue reading What Is Crippling Depression?

It’s Never Too Late to Share A Story of Sexual Assault

woman with back turned in dark room

I was sitting on my couch, watching him sleep, sleep oh so peacefully, in my bed. It couldn’t have been rape, I thought, no one rapes someone and then sleeps over. I’d been waiting for the sun to come up, my computer on my lap, searching the internet for the closest Planned Parenthood. The air in my studio apartment felt thick and soggy. I don’t remember the weather, the season, only that I felt bone cold and at the same time like my skin was made of fire and would burn anyone who tried to touch it. He hadn’t used a condom, hadn’t listened when I’d said I didn’t want to have sex. I was confused by the slow and metered breaths moving in an out of my mouth; I felt calm, pragmatic even. I needed a morning after pill, I needed to get information about being tested for STDs. If it had been rape, I wouldn’t be making lists, I’d be a wreck, I thought. Continue reading It’s Never Too Late to Share A Story of Sexual Assault

10 Songs About Addiction That Capture the Experience

addict siting with others drugs on table

Shame, guilt, desire, regret — these are only a few of the emotions people experience when they are dependent on a substance. This anguish has been fuel for thousands of beautiful, moving, raw and intense songs about addiction. For many decades artists have used their lyrics and melodies to tell stories of relationships with drugs and alcohol. Their songs have satisfied the curiosity of the sober and eased the loneliness of those who are struggling with the mental illness.

Rather than using subjective rankings to form our list, we thought about which songs most vividly describe the experience of addiction, how the illness can destroy lives and bonds. We looked for tracks that detail the mindset and behavior of someone who is falling into the void of substance abuse or realizing they have a problem (Keep in mind that recovery is the other side of the coin and deserves its own list).

Use our playlist to sympathize with those afflicted with addiction or remind yourself that millions of others carry the same burden. Here are our picks for songs about addiction (in no particular order): Continue reading 10 Songs About Addiction That Capture the Experience

The Grief of an Empty Nest: No Arms Syndrome

woman alone on swing sunset in background

When my sons were little, I would tell them, “You are my left arm and you are my right arm.” Then with one on each side of me, either walking holding hands or snuggling on the couch, I felt whole. Now, as I literally face an empty nest — as I right now stare at the walls and empty chairs of a nearly empty house — I’m enraged at how quaint and inadequate the term is. Empty Nest. It’s more like no arms syndrome. It’s as if the two things that kept me afloat and alive in this cold world are gone. It’s a deep, physical loss. I feel broken, not whole.

When I was thirty-five I thought, this would be the time to have a third child. My sons were seven and five. We were out to dinner, a favorite restaurant, and I looked at my oldest boy, a very precocious, verbal and sensitive child, who I had somewhat of an intense relationship with: we are very alike. I asked him, “If I had another child, I’d pay less attention to you and that might be a good thing, right?” He looked straight into my eyes and gently answered, “You don’t pay too much attention to me. I like how much attention you pay to me.” And that was that. Two sons. My left arm and right arm. I didn’t need a third arm. Continue reading The Grief of an Empty Nest: No Arms Syndrome

Here’s How Street Harassment Affects Women’s Mental Health — and How We Heal

two men cat calling woman on street

I remember what I was wearing: A blue tank top with a picture of a peacock, jean short-shorts, and flip-flops. I remember the weather: High summer, sweet grass scenting the air and the sun just beginning its slow descent to the horizon. I was walking down a country road, lost in my thirteen-year-old daydreams, when suddenly —

Honk honk!

A car horn split the air with its grating clamor. A group of men in the car waved their hands and heads out the windows, hollering at me.

It felt like I jumped a mile. My body flooded with shock. Fear. Self-consciousness. The moment before, I was at ease in my space, my body, my summer daydreams. Now, my sense of peace was ripped away like a wax strip torn from the heart. Continue reading Here’s How Street Harassment Affects Women’s Mental Health — and How We Heal

Meet Our Therapists: Melissa Moreno

Melissa Moreno Talkspace therapist head shot

Name: Melissa Moreno, LCSW-R

Licensing Info: Licensed Clinical Social Worker Psychotherapy “R” privilege [LCSW-R] in New York

Where You Live: Ellenville, NY

Amount of Time Working at Talkspace: 1 year

Time Working as a Therapist: 11 years

Why are you working in therapy/mental health?

I have always been drawn to helping people improve their quality of life. Having overcome many personal challenges, I know first hand how important it is to be able to help others and have someone available when support is needed. I knew as a child that I wanted to be a therapist and help people with their mental health. I am grateful for having the ability to touch the lives of so many people through the process of therapy. Continue reading Meet Our Therapists: Melissa Moreno

How a Legendary Psychiatrist Became a Supporter of Text Therapy

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Even the most wise and open-minded professionals in the world sometimes have a skeptical or critical perception of new developments in their field. Several years ago Talkspace co-founders Oren and Roni Frank reached out to renowned psychiatrist Irvin Yalom to discuss their texting therapy platform and invite Yalom to become an official clinical advisor. His initial reaction to the new medium was not positive.

Yalom contributed to the approach of existential psychotherapy and was a pioneer in group therapy. As a therapist and professor, he spent decades working with clients in-person. He wrote “Creatures of a Day: And Other Tales of Psychotherapy,” a book that chronicled some of his traditional counseling sessions with patients who were grappling with issues of existence and death.

Far from a technology enthusiast or early adopter, Yalom had been resistant to forms of therapy that were not strictly in-person, including phone and video-based sessions. In his memoir, “Becoming Myself,” he admitted to being judgmental and priggish when one of his colleagues mentioned she had been practicing teletherapy. Continue reading How a Legendary Psychiatrist Became a Supporter of Text Therapy

How to Survive When A Loved One Dies

woman grieving funeral casket candles

The title of this article is a lie. I don’t actually know how to survive. I don’t even know if I have.

As of this writing, my mom died less than three months ago. I found out she was sick on the first of April; she got her cancer diagnosis twenty days later. She lived for five weeks after that.

At one point — after diagnosis but before death — I sat in the bathtub after a long day keeping vigil by my mom’s bedside, noticing the chipped remnants of pink nail polish on my toes. When I had put that polish on, I didn’t even know she was sick. Continue reading How to Survive When A Loved One Dies

A Decade of Grieving

woman grieving graveyard flowers double image

Note: If you are in a life threatening situation call +1 (800) 273-8255 or use these resources to get immediate help.

Day 1

I was 24 when Adam died. We were both 24. I had a missed call at 3am on my phone from my old roommate in Albuquerque, Eric. My boyfriend Chris dropped me off at my apartment early in the morning so I could get ready for work and I listened to the voicemail as I walked in my front door. Eric sounded distraught. “Call me back,” was all he said. So I called him back, even though it was 5am where he was.

“Our friend, Adam,” he said, choking through tears, “he’s gone. He killed himself.” Continue reading A Decade of Grieving