Tagged: Therapy

Your Relationship With Your Depression

I often ask people what their relationship is with their depression and they usually look at me like my head is on fire. I explain that, when my depression was at its worst, I looked at it like a comfortable old slipper. If I got into an argument with my boyfriend at the time, I would throw my hands in the air, retire to my bedroom, dim all the lights, put The Cure’s “Disintegration” on repeat, and lay in bed, possibly for a whole weekend which “freed” me from having to deal with his nonsense. If I had a project due for school, forget about it. I now had a valid excuse to not have to go out to parties and be social. I looked at my depression like a long, lost friend coming into town for the night. You know shenanigans will ensue. It will be fun while it lasts, but there will be hell to pay later with the consequences.

At some point, though, I realized that I wanted to have a good relationship. I wanted to have friends and enjoy my time with them. I wanted to do well in school and get my degree. My depression was actually robbing me of all those things I claimed to want. That’s when I learned that I had to change my relationship status with my depression from “It’s Complicated” to “Divorced.

Whether you realize it or not, you have an actual relationship with your depression. Is it part of your identity? Are you comfortable with it? In love with it? If so, that’s a huge part of the problem.

I used to look at it as an ugly head that popped out of my shoulder saying things like “You’ll never be good enough,” “You can’t do that,” etc. The ugly head is still there but now it more comes out of the ground and I stifle somewhat effortlessly with my foot. Depression usually doesn’t go away or get “cured.” Mine hasn’t. But instead of EMBRACING it, I MANAGE it.

You have to be very careful with how you identify with your diagnoses. I talk to a lot of people who feel like it’s just their burden to carry and it’s never going away. If that’s your perspective, then that will be your reality.

Getting to a point where you are managing it is possible, but not easy. It requires work. A lot of people don’t want to do that work and get stuck in their diagnosis. They feel like it will never get better. Two things are required from the beginning to get through it: Hope and Belief.  You have to allow yourself to hope to get better and then believe that you can.

My journey started with changing my “relationship status,” working diligently on positive thinking and changing my mindset. I used to be a very pessimistic person and considered the glass “half empty.” I would have told you that I was just being realistic, but now I am optimistic. Your “reality” is what you choose to FOCUS on.

Hope this helps!

Dealing with Difficult People: Part 3

BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER:

A person with borderline personality disorder, much like the narcissist, is most likely not working on the same maturity level you are, does not pick up on social cues, and knows little to no boundaries. Someone with this disorder might have lack of control over emotions, difficulty maintaining relationships, lack empathy for others, and avoid accountability for actions. Some tell-tale signs might involve cutting, substance abuse, shoplifting, or other impulsive behaviors.

HOW TO DEAL WITH SOMEONE WITH BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER:

Acknowledge the person’s feelings. If she has become suddenly very upset, you might say: “I see you’re quite upset. Can we discuss what’s going on?” Make your points clear and concise. If things get too elevated, suggest that the two of you revisit the topic in an hour or so and explain that you want some time to think about what she said. Try putting the responsibility back on the person and ask them for possible solutions. Don’t bow and bend to appease the person but, again, lead by example and stay calm.

EXAMPLES OF BORDERLINE PERSONALITY:

Alex Forrest (Glenn Close), Fatal Attraction (this example is commonly used and often criticized for being an extreme case and negative example); Brenda Chenowith (Rachel Griffiths), Six Feet Under; Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway), Mommie Dearest; and David McCall (Mark Wahlberg) Fear.

THE KNOW-IT-ALL:

You know who I’m talking about. You might have a PhD in Psychology but they know more about mental illness than you do because they once read a pamphlet about depression. This person is overbearing, thinks he has all the answers, isn’t willing to listen to the opinions of others, and may even consider the fact that you have an opinion as offensive. He might be boisterous and loud, enjoying the sound of his own voice and assuming everyone else does, too.

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE KNOW-IT-ALL:

Keep it respectful but do so without putting yourself down. If you must have a confrontation with him, do it when the two of you are alone so as not to bruise his ego. Gently offer alternatives to his line of thinking in a way he won’t misconstrue as being attacking.

Ask your questions in a manner of “seeking clarification”, rather than flat-out disagreeing. Ask for specific details. Provide some attention to the know-it-all (since that is what he is after) but not too much. If he is offering unsolicited advice or harping on a topic that is irrelevant to his business with you, kindly explain that you are not interested in discussing that topic with him and move on to something else.

EXAMPLES OF KNOW-IT-ALLS:

Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), The Big Bang Theory; Lisa Simpson (The Simpsons); Brainy Smurf.

Hope this helps!

Dealing With Difficult People: Part II

THE STEAMROLLER/BULLY:

A steamroller is a bully who is not flexible or open to ideas, in most cases. He might be confrontational, manipulative, and/or rude and, in some instances, use threats or intimidation to get his way. Disagreeing with his opinions might make him feel offended, violated, or even hostile – flying off the handle at even the smallest of details. Some paperwork filed an hour late on your part might result in a menacing phone call with a tone of voice more appropriate for if you had run over his dog with your car. The steamroller can escalate situations quickly and may even become violent or threatening.

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE STEAMROLLER/BULLY:

You’ll want to make sure to keep the environment (and yourself) as calm as possible. Keep your tone of voice low and calm, make eye contact with the person, and make it a point to let them know that you want to hear them out and come to a solution, but that you want to be reasonable. Make it clear to the steamroller that you are not the enemy. This person wants to feel heard. Note that there is a difference in helping someone feel heard, versus helping him/her feel justified.

These are the best tactics because you are leading by example. If the person continues to become out of control and escalates into threats or potential violence, you might say something to the effect of: “I understand you are upset and I really want to help work this out or understand more about the situation. However, I think it would be best if we continue this at a later time.” Use a lot of “I” statements so the person does not feel blamed or targeted.

Stand your ground, don’t be apologetic, choose your words wisely, and don’t engage in arguments. Have an exit strategy in mind as soon as you sense escalation.

EXAMPLES OF STEAMROLLER/BULLY PERSONALITIES:

Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), The Devil Wears Prada; Scut Farkus (Zack Ward), A Christmas Story; Col. Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson), A Few Good Men; Lt. Col. “Bull” Meechum (Robert Duvall), The Great Santini; and Regina George (Rachel McAdams), Mean Girls.

THE NARCISSIST:

Most misunderstand the narcissist as being an overly-confident individual. However, this person may have no self-esteem at all. It’s not about confidence or self-esteem necessarily – it’s about how this person sees the world. To the narcissist, the world does not exist in any form other than how it pertains to him.

Some tip-offs that you’re dealing with a narcissist might include grandiosity (or extreme sense of self-importance), a constant need for admiration, heightened fantasies/delusions about imagined successes, willingness to take advantage of others for his own gain, appearance of arrogance, strong sense of entitlement, sees others (wait staff, assistants, etc.) as “beneath” him and, therefore, treats them in a disrespectful manner, has unreasonable expectations of deserving and demanding favorable treatment, is often envious of others or imagines others to be envious of him, and possibly a lack of empathy for others.

You know someone like this. The type of person who might say, “Well, enough about me! What do YOU think of me?”

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE NARCISSIST:

Manage your expectations. Accept this person the way he is. Don’t expect to get comfort or support from the narcissist. Don’t get frustrated when he uses you to better his own situation, then falls off the radar. Don’t feel disappointed when you realize she only hangs out with you because she sees you as inferior.

You have to understand that the narcissist legitimately has limitations and that it is not about you, whatsoever. If this person is very important in your life, you will need other sources of support, comfort, and emotional stability. Be able to set good limits and boundaries so s/he does not take advantage of you. If this person is a co-worker and you need something from him/her, try to find an angle of “what’s in for them” to motivate them.

EXAMPLES OF NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITIES:

Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), American Psycho; Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), The Godfather; (along the same lines) Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), The Sopranos; and Karen Walker (Megan Mullaly), Will and Grace.

Hope this helps! 🙂

Dealing With Difficult People…Part 1

We all know them. They’re out there. They might be our co-workers, our clients, our family members, our friends, or even our partners. What do you do when they’re people that have to be in your life?

For starters, there are different types of difficult people and, therefore, there are different ways to deal with them.

I had so many difficult personalities to go over, that I decided to divide this blog up into a 3-parter, so stay tuned…

THE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE:

These folks always “believe” they are communicating, but nothing could be further from the truth. They mistake body language and facial expressions for assertive verbal communication. The behavior itself (an angry glace or an over-dramatic sigh) might be passive, but later actions (taking the last slice of pizza when they know the other person wants it) indicate signs of aggression. Note that the aggressive aspect is not punching or yelling – it’s more subtle, which is what makes it passive.

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE:

I might encourage clients to be more assertive by pointing out that that I sense some tension from their behavior, tone of voice, or body language and I would ask them if they would care to discuss what’s going on. I will be very patient, compassionate, and understanding. I might explain the different types of communication and why it is important to learn to be more assertive and how others might be reading said behaviors, tone of voice, or body language.

In dealing with the passive-aggressive, remember that you are dealing with someone who is averse to having confrontation. It might help to try and be empathetic. Most of us aren’t born with the right tools to communicate effectively – it’s something we have to learn.

EXAMPLES OF PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE PERSONALITIES:

Lucille Bleuth and Lucille Austero, Arrested Development; Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Rosalyn Rosenfeld, American Hustle; Betty Draper, Mad Men

THE PESSIMIST/OR THE “REALIST”:

I used to be a BIG TIME pessimist, but I would have told you I was only “realistic” about things. My attitude was that, “If it can go wrong, it will” and that “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all”. Looking back, I can hardly believe that’s how I used to go about in life.

A pessimist has usually already made up his mind to be the victim in most situations and isn’t really looking for solutions, but just wants to vent or complain. It’s much easier to stay stuck where you are and moan about the woes of the world than to accept responsibility for your part in it and do the work that needs to be done. And a lot of us get stuck in that mode from time to time.

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE PESSIMIST/”REALIST”:

People who are stuck in negative thought processes often see the world as a very cruel and lonely place. Don’t perpetuate that for them. Try to treat them with compassion, but be careful not to get sucked in to their negativity. Try to point out the positives in a given situation, without seeming too much like a “Little Miss Sunshine”.

My rule of thumb is to offer up two suggestions when someone has a complaint or an issue. If I feel the person is working harder to explain why the suggestions WON’T work than they are listening to why they will, I disengage. I might even explain to someone that they don’t appear to want a solution and, therefore, I don’t see how I might be of assistance to them.

You know you can’t change a pessimist (unless they’re interested in learning how), so do your best to be mindful that this is just how the person is, be thankful you are not that way, and carry on with your day.

EXAMPLES OF PESSIMIST PERSONALITIES:

Dr. Gregory House, House; Red Forman, That 70’s Show; Sophia Petrillo, The Golden Girls; Frank Costanza, Seinfeld; Karl Pilkington, An Idiot Abroad; Oscar the Grouch, Sesame Street

Hope this helps! Have a great weekend and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Loving the One You’re With: A Couples’ Workshop

Maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner can be difficult with the stress of everyday life. BHC Assessment and Consulting can help you get that spark back into your partnership through addressing and working through the following issues:

• Sex
• Money
• Communication
• Taking Responsibility
• Building and Strengthening Trust
• Managing Internet/Social Media/Friends and Family
• Finding a balance between life, stress, and your relationship

Dr. David Baker-Hargrove, owner and principle of BHC, can help you with all that and more!

Whether you and your partner are trying to rebuild broken trust, improve your sex life, reconnect on a more emotional and intimate level, or are working through forgiveness, loss, or grief – Loving the One You’re With: A Couples’ Workshop was designed just for you!

The workshop will allow each partner to explore his/her role in more depth, learn and develop new communication skills, and assess and address issues with money, sex, trust, balance, and taking responsibility. Dr. Dave, a dynamic and engaging speaker and psychotherapist, will facilitate the group consisting of no more than 5 couples – allowing for an intimate setting, conducive to learning and growth.

WHEN: Saturday, October 6, 2013, 9AM-5PM
*lunch will be provided*

WHERE: 801 N. Magnolia Ave.; Ste. 318; Orlando, FL 32803

COST: $350 per couple

HOW TO REGISTER: Call us at 407.963.4655 or e-mail us at sherrie@drdavidbakerhargrove.com

Tis the Season…

…to be jolly! But it’s also the season to be completely stressed out and overwhelmed and privy to depression and anxiety. Putting up decorations, buying presents, accepting invitations, declining invitations, getting out cards, shopping, shopping, shopping…It’s important to make sure you take care of yourself during the holiday season and take time to stop along the way and smell the eggnog.

What do I recommend? Dr. Dave always recommends the Eat Right/Sleep Right/Think Right/Exercise model, which is particularly important during times of high stress. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but here are some tips to get you back on track.
Eating right is difficult, especially if you have a crazy busy schedule. Consider keeping healthy snacks on hand, such as apples and peanut butter, carrots and dressing or hummus, granola bars, peanuts, or small Tupperware containers of fruits or salads. Try to curb the carbs in the later evening hours and avoid eating dinner 3-4 hours before bedtime.

In order to maintain proper sleep hygiene, consider going to bed and waking up each night/day at the same time, even on the weekends! This technique essentially trains your body and your mind to do so and, before long, you might not even need your alarm clock. Watch your caffeine intake, eating, watching tv, and computer time before bedtime – those are all stimulants.

For the think right aspect of the model, make yourself aware of your negative thoughts, then rate the rationality of it on a scale of 1-10, then counter it with 3 positive thoughts. Our realities consist of what we notice and that on which we focus: Be careful what you choose to bring into your environment. If you’re feeling down and out, reduce the news and increase the comedy. Give The Cure a rest and try out some Motown or other more upbeat music.

Also, you can try our Mental Health Boot Camp, designed for folks who don’t necessarily need intensive therapy, but are just looking to recharge their lives in one respect or another. It’s an 8 week self-study treatment designed to help people better define their life goals and develop an action plan to achieve those goals. It involves daily wiring exercises that will re-awaken the passion for life and increase self-awareness. For more information, visit our website!

If exercise is a challenge for you, try signing up on meetup.com and join some fun groups, such as kickball, volleyball, pilates, yoga, or walking groups. Try taking your dog for a walk, or just walk around the neighborhood. Remember that movement is exercise: You can park in the furthest spot from the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and/or increase the housecleaning.

Most importantly, remember to take time to ENJOY the special times with your family, friends, and loved ones. Be thankful for what you have and try to focus on what’s RIGHT in your life. And Happy Holidays!

The Powers of Positive Thinking

I know a lot of you think of this topic as a two day old pizza with extra ham and cheese, but I am here to tell you all that IT WORKS. And that it makes a difference. Before I started graduate school, I was a hard-core Negative Nancy. Back then, I would have told you I was “merely realistic”. No. I was downright cynical, complained all the time and, most likely, got on my friends’ last ever-loving nerves.

Once in school, a teacher “made” us watch “The Secret”. I vaguely knew about this as it had been popular once upon a time and was probably on Oprah’s book list – yada yada yada. I thought the whole thing was such rubbish that I found myself, in sheer boredom, practicing the philosophies of the Laws of Attraction, just so I could go back to my class and snidely report on its’ failings.

Boy, was I wrong!

This is how it works, these “Laws of Attraction”: This has NOTHING to do with religion, folks. It’s about asking the universe for what you want and, in turn, getting it.

Sound crazy? I can assure you, it’s not.

Let me put it to you like this: Everything you see is what you’re noticing. Everything you’re attracting to your life is what you’re accepting as your expectations of it. Everyone in your life is who you choose to be a part of it.

If all you ever do is look around and pine over the closed doors in your life, you’ll miss out on all the ones that are open. If you are in constant anticipation of that overdue bill or overdrawn credit card statement that’s coming in the mail today, you’ll miss out on the invitation to your best friend’s baby shower or that notification about the super cheap health insurance that you need. If all of your friends and family members are energy-sucking vampires and you focus all of your time on trying to “fix” them, you’ll completely neglect that awesome person that was trying to make small talk with you in line at the coffee shop.

THINK about it. All of our lives, we’ve been TRAINED to think negatively. Whether it’s guilt, the constant self-doubt given to us by our parents, the nagging partner who tells us we’ll never do better… You have to, first, be aware of those negative thoughts. Then you have to punch them in the throat, so to speak. It takes THREE positive thoughts to counter ONE negative. Think I’m wrong?

Have you ever gone to lunch/dinner/drinks with a friend who, for a full two hours, PRAISED you for how you handled that situation with your partner, told you how fabulous your new haircut looks, and how your personality is such a stellar fit for that job for which you just applied? “By the way,” this person says, nonchalantly, “have you noticed your face is kind of flushed? I worry you might have high blood pressure?” And then back to another hour of how awesome you are.

What is the one thing you remember about that conversation? (I don’t need you to answer, you KNOW the answer. And you know it, because it’s happened to you!)
Here’s how to put a STOP to the shenanigans:

1. Start by taking the time, every day, when you look in the mirror (brushing your teeth, combing your hair, washing your face, singing into your hairbrush, etc.) and MAKE YOURSELF AWARE of the negative things you are telling yourself.
2. Get pissed off at those negative thoughts! If your boyfriend/girlfriend/BFF/Mom were to say it to you, wouldn’t you be pissed? Have the same reaction when you say it to yourself!
3. Counter it with 3 positive thoughts: “I am a good person”, “I’m good at what I do”, “I treat others with respect”, “I have good hair”. This is for YOU to figure out! YOU know better than me how awesome you are!
4. Ask yourself: Is this something I would say to my daughter/best friend/partner/BANK TELLER?!?! If the answer is no, don’t you DARE say it to yourself!
5. ASK for what you want. Worst case scenario is that you get “no” for an answer. Last I heard, no one has ever died from being told “no”.
6. Use visualization. If you want that promotion, picture yourself being in that position. As you sit in that chair in that office, what 5 things do you see, hear, smell, touch, taste? VISUALIZE it. BECOME it. GO GET it!

I know I make it sound simple and it’s not, at first. And there are days when I still have to struggle with it. But let me tell you this, IT IS WORTH THE STRUGGLE. If you were trying to be a body builder and came to me for help and we sat around playing video games and watching reruns of The Golden Girls, are we going to accomplish that goal? NO. If you came to me to learn how to play guitar, but I never had one handy or taught you the chords, would you learn? NO. (By the way, don’t come to me if you want to be a body builder or learn to play guitar…I’m not equipped to teach you either, lol.)

But if you want to “train your brain” to get rid of that stinking thinking and bring some simplicity, peace, comfort, contentment, and enlightenment to your life, look no further. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Orlando area, give us a call and set up an appointment. If you don’t live in the Orlando area but have access to the internet, set up a Skype appointment. If you can’t be bothered with any of that, look into Mental Health Boot Camp – an 8 week intensive course life coaching program designed by Dr. Dave to empower and educate people to live their best lives.
Questions? Comments? No problem! Contact the lovely Sherrie at 407-963-5664 or visit us at http://drdavidbakerhargrove.com/index.php. We look forward to hearing from you!