Comfort in Unexpected Places

After two wonderful back-to-back vacations, I returned home with a severe chest cold. I stopped writing for over a month. Although I began to recover from my cold, I became wracked with doubt over restarting my writing habit again. Questions tortured me. Why am I writing in the first place? Who cares about what I have to say? How can I possibly contribute anything important … Continue reading Comfort in Unexpected Places

When You Lose Faith in Yourself

I met a man, I’ll call him Martin, who was devastated about how his marriage had ended. “After 30 years and 2 kids,” he said, looking baffled, “my wife left me for another woman. How could I not know she was gay?” “What’s the worst thing about this loss for you?” I asked. “It’s bad enough that my marriage is over. We never had a close physical relationship anyway. I … Continue reading When You Lose Faith in Yourself

Self Blame is Magical Thinking

I once knew a woman, I’ll call her Michelle, whose daughter died at the tender age of 25. That was 8 years ago, and Michelle still blames herself for the death. “Ellie was an alcoholic,” Michelle says. “But she was so much more. She was kind and funny. She entertained kids at the local hospital with her impersonations of cartoon characters and her homemade puppets. She was a girl … Continue reading Self Blame is Magical Thinking

Protective Spells for Contagious Moods

How do you prevent yourself from getting sucked into someone else’s bad mood? When people hear I’m a psychotherapist they often ask, “How can you stand listening to people’s sorrows all day without getting depressed?” It’s easier for me to have defensive walls when I’m working than when I’m not. All therapists have to create defenses. First, I need to feel compassion for other people. If I don’t, I can’t be … Continue reading Protective Spells for Contagious Moods

It’s Okay to Feel Unhappy

Many years ago, I navigated through a particularly rough time as a divorced mother of 2 young children. I juggled time for my kids, a full-time job, a social life, and a tough money situation. At some point, I felt so overwhelmed and miserable I decided to talk to a psychotherapist about my unbearable unhappiness. “Of course you feel terribly unhappy,” she said. “You’re going through bad times. But it’s not unbearable. You’re bearing it.” At first, I … Continue reading It’s Okay to Feel Unhappy

Sleep Deprivation Messes with Your Mind

A woman came to me for counseling to help her leave her marriage. “What I really want,” she said, “is to leave my 3 kids, my job, and my town, but I’ll start with my husband.” I asked her questions about the simplest areas of her life. Eating habits, exercise, use of medications, drugs, alcohol, and overall general health. She wanted to complain about her 3 overwhelming children and … Continue reading Sleep Deprivation Messes with Your Mind