Being a teenager’s rough. You’ve gotta juggle homework, extracurricular activities, friends, dating…and not to mention, you’re probably pretty busy maintaining your image on Instagram. It’s totally normal to feel stressed out, angsty, or sad sometimes. But it’s important to be able to check in and ask yourself — is this run of the mill teenage stress, or is it something else? Continue reading A Guide to Teenage Mental Health
“Is this normal?”
As a therapist who works with children and teens, I hear this question frequently. Adolescents go through changes in such a short period, teens (and parents) may wonder if they’re losing their grip. Continue reading A Parent’s Guide to Teen Mental Health
Do you keep secrets from your family?
If you’re mentally rifling through all the skeletons in your family closet, you’re definitely not alone. Even those who pride themselves on openness probably have a secret or two that they’re not willing to share — even with the people they hold most dear. From issues as traumatic as sexual violence, to those as relatively mild (but still potentially contentious) as who we vote for, most of us have secrets we’d rather not share with our families. Continue reading How to Address Family Secrets Without Causing a Rift
One in five adults live with mental illness, so it stands to reason that there are many children out there who are raised by parents who battle mental illness. Mental illness encompasses many disorders — from bipolar disorder to depression — and range in severity from mild to severe.
It should be mentioned that there are many brave, strong parents who are in treatment for their mental illness and can parent their children with stability and love. But this is not always the case. Children who are raised by parents with untreated or severe mental illness are going to feel the effects, whether they are aware of what’s happening at the time or not.
When you think of therapy, a stereotypical scenario comes to mind: A person lying on a dusty leather couch while some guy with a small notepad sits somewhere by their head, or perhaps across from them, jotting down insights as they speak, probably about their twisted relationship with their parents.
There’s some truth to this scenario (the couch does always seem to be leather, no?), and while talking about your childhood it isn’t the case for all therapy interactions, it is for reparenting.
Continue reading What Is Reparenting and Why You Should Consider It
There comes a moment in many serious relationships when it is time to meet your partner’s parents. In a perfect world, you will instantly connect with these individuals who raised, supported and love your partner — after all, those very family members will likely become a major part of your life if this is a relationship for the long haul.
But that isn’t always the case, and you may find yourself completely disliking your loved one’s parents.
If you have children, you know raising kids presents challenges on your best days. Parents with mental illness, however, have it even harder.
In particular, parental depression can wreak havoc on a child’s psyche. What’s worse, when children develop problems related to parental depression, the added stress can make that parent’s depression worse. Thus, parental depression can turn into a long-lasting cycle of negative outcomes for the entire family.
Like many young adults, I remember feeling convinced that once I grew up, became independent, and created a home of my own, I would be able to break free from some of the less than desirable aspects of my childhood. The problem was, it wasn’t as easy as I expected. The patterns and dynamics of my upbringing seemed to follow me wherever I went. They were a part of me.
I found that whenever I spent time with my family of origin, we quickly fell back into difficult patterns, no matter what I did to personally resist this behavior. And because some of my family dynamics included abandonment and abuse, these meetings could sometimes be very triggering, making me feel out of sorts (or worse) for days or weeks after.
It turns out I’m far from alone with this problem.
As someone who has battled an anxiety and panic disorder since childhood, one of my top concerns when I started having children was if I would pass on my disorder to my kids. I wouldn’t wish chronic panic and anxiety on anyone, and the idea that my kids might have a propensity toward it…well, it made my already anxious self that much more terrified.
Over a decade into this parenting thing, I will say that, for the most part, my fears were for naught. My children do share some of my tendencies toward anxiety, but it turns out that your offspring truly are their own people. And while genetics and learned behavior play a part in how they turn out, it’s not everything.
Most importantly, just being aware of your own mental health struggles allows you to be proactive about recognizing and seeking treatment for any issues that might arise in your children.
If you have noticed that your intimate relationships have been stressful or unfulfilling, it might be time to think about your attachment style. Attachment style derives from your earliest experiences with your parents.
Knowing the effects these parenting styles have on you as a child helps you better understand the roots of potential relationship issues, and where to begin when addressing these issues — whether on your own, or with the help of a therapist.