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The Truth About Emotions (it’s ok to feel mad)

I have met with so many women in my therapy office who have shut down their emotions because they think it’s the right thing to do. Anger seems particularly difficult for women of faith to understand, manage, and express in healthy ways.

I’m honored to be a new presenter on Deseret Book’s Time Out For Women 2012 Tour “Seek The Good” talking on the topic of developing your most authentic self. Part of the message is the importance of honoring and feeling our emotions. Feelings are a gift to guide our lives. They aren’t “good” or “bad”. Feelings are INFORMATION to guide us to our most authentic self.

Here’s a video clip from a recent TOFW presentation about the importance of honoring our emotions…even anger.

(original post on TOFW.com)

I hope to see YOU at one of the TOFW cities this year!

Have you been taught to shut down “negative” feelings?
What have the consequences been for you? For your emotional and physical health?
How do you manage painful emotions in healthy ways?

6 Ways To Spring Clean Your Mind: Guest Blog on Sharecare

It’s been 60 degrees in Salt Lake this week and it feels like Spring is in the air! The shift in weather gets me itching to start organizing the house, cleaning up the yard, and doing a little spring cleaning. I’ve also been thinking about doing a little spring cleaning on the inside too.

Since being named the#1 online depression influencer by Sharecare.com I’ve had the chance to guest blog on their website and reach a larger audience with my mental health tips.  I’m thrilled about this new guest blog.

Read 6 Ways To Spring Clean Your Mind

Is something cluttering your mind? What do you do to spring clean your inside? I’d love to hear your comments!

6 Simple Ways To Improve Your Mood Now: Guest Blog on DailyStrength

DailyStrength, an amazing social media health and mental health social media website recently invited me to be write an expert guest post on depression. What’s fantastic about the site is that people can join specialized support groups and share resources and gain support from people who are experiencing the same health issues. and also connect with expert health bloggers who share health related information. One of the benefits of being named the #1 online depression influencer is that it opened up larger platforms to educate on mental health issues and this is one of those amazing opportunities.

Watch my guest video post “6 Simple Ways To Boost Your Mood Today”

 

Ask Julie: I Think My Girlfriend Is About To Break Up With Me

Q: I think my girlfriend is about to break up with me, because there were these girls she didn’t want me to hang out with but I did, because I was mad at her for cheating on me, which she told me about a long time ago and was open about, so I decided to have secrets of my own, which I know was a horrible idea. Well we had this big fight where she wanted me to tell her everything, and I did for the most part, leaving out one time where I had this party and invited this girl over to my house. She just found out yesterday and is really upset, and I don’t know what to do. For some reason, I’ve lied to her a lot, because I don’t want to get in trouble, and I know that if I’m honest she’ll accept it and everything will be okay, but for some reason I can’t get it through my thick skull. I keep messing up time after time. I don’t want to lose her because she understands me and is the best thing to happen to me. I don’t know what to do, I slept all day today just because I didn’t know what to do. I really don’t want to lose her and I feel so bad for making her feel horrible, and when we were talking and she was crying I really felt bad about it and hated seeing her cry but I still felt sort of detached for some reason. I don’t know why I feel detached sometimes but I would really like to not feel that way. For some reason I think subconsciously I like to feel miserable, because otherwise I don’t know why I do the things I do. Sometimes before I do or say anything I think to myself “this is not a good idea” but then I do it anyway.  I really don’t want to lose her, I’ve been through so much with her, more than anybody. shes my best friend and my confidant and shes always been there for her. I just want to be normal, and not lose the most important person in my life.

A: Thanks for writing in for help with your relationship. Whether or not she breaks up with you, it’s important for you to get to the bottom of you why you continue to do things, like lie and cheat, that you know aren’t a good idea. Frequently, relationship sabotage has roots in past hurts. Is there anything in your relationship or family history that might be emotionally driving your pattern of pushing your girlfriend away? Your emotional detachment to her sadness also suggests that there may be something that is unresolved for you in close relationships.  I suggest that you get a therapist and explore what’s driving this pattern so if your girlfriend stays with you, you can learn how to maintain closeness and if she breaks up with you, you can prevent this pattern in future relationships. Also, consider reading the book “Getting the Love You Want: A Guide For Couples” by Dr. Harville Hendrix to help you start understanding the deeper patterns that may be getting in the way of your love relationship.

Take good care of yourself and your relationships!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Ask Julie: My Therapist Looks Like A Skeleton

Q: I don’t know what to do. I have been seeing my therapist for 3 years. I suffer with body image issues and distorted eating. My therapist has always been thin/healthy. Sometimes her weight drops and I am very sensitive to it. We have talked about it before and I am very open with it if I feel triggered by her. I saw her today and she looks like an eating disordered patient. She said she is aware of it and working on it. She said she has medical issues that make her body do things if she’s not careful and stress plays a part. I believe she is OK and she will work at getting back up to a healthy weight, but its really hard for me to make sense of. Why can she look like that but I have to work to keep myself healthy? Why are such high expectations put on me that she doesn’t live up to? She is my biggest role model, and all I can think of at this moment is starving myself until I look like her. She is happy, successful, smart, has a family and is pretty. She said, “I hope you’re not jealous of this (her body)” and she said that she wished she was in a different place. I just can’t get the picture of her out of my mind. Oh and she’s been getting sick a lot recently. It scares me. I want her to be healthy. She’s MY motivation to be healthy. But when she’s not…my motivation goes away and I want to restrict. How do I make sense of this?

A: Wow. What a tough situation! I want to validate your confusion about how to make sense of your therapist’s weight loss. It sounds like you’ve handled this things well so far by being open with your concern for her health, and talking about how her weight loss is impacting your recovery process. It’s scary when someone close to you is obviously ill and I’m glad that you are asking for help to deal with your concerns.

I can hear that on one level you trust that your therapist is addressing the problem, and on another level you’re angry about the double standard — she can be at a seemingly unhealthy weight and you’re expected to be at a healthy weight. While it is normal to be concerned about your therapist, I think there may be more for you to learn about yourself and your relationship patterns.

Your comment that you can’t get the picture of her out of your mind may be a sign that you’re too focused on her. I’m curious, have you had other close relationships where you’ve focused on their problems or issues in a way that negatively impacted you? Core relationship patterns and emotional wounds often replay themselves in clients’ feelings and thoughts about their therapist. You may want to explore these patterns with your therapist.

Just like children who idealize their parents eventually come to realize that their parents aren’t perfect, it sounds like you are experiencing a similar realization with your therapist. Instead of seeing her as the epitome of health, her drastic weight loss has knocked her off of the pedestal of perfection in your eyes.  There may be some grieving that goes along with acknowledging that your role model isn’t everything you hoped she’d be.

It’s time for you to work toward developing an internal source of motivation for health and recovery instead of relying solely on your therapist for your motivation. Ultimately, who you are and who you want to become are defined and chosen by you, not by any external source. You are stronger than you think you are.

Keep the dialogue with your therapist focused on you and trust that she’s aware and taking care of her own struggles. If after a few months she’s not improving and you are still frequently triggered by her appearance, it may be time to talk to your therapist about transferring to another therapist.

Thanks for writing in and I wish you well in your continued recovery.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Ask Julie: I’m Caring for Mentally Ill Adult Brother

Q: If something was to happen to me my brother would not be able to survive.  I need help. My mother adopted my brother at 13 whom is 21 now.  He had been foster care since he was 2 years old.  They labeled him as mentally ill.  We would hit is head on the wall, get upset and not talk for hours, and walk with his head shaking and hand dangling.  He was in LD classes in school and had visited 33 different schools in his lifetime.  Growing up he moved to main stream classes and currently he is in his 3rd year in college but just started taking regular classes.  My mother passed away in 2007 and it was left to my dad to raise him.  My dad tried to get him help and was told that he could take care of himself.  My dad could not handle it any longer so I took him in.  It took him 7 times to pass his test to get his license.  He does maintain a dish washing job.  The best I can discribe him is he can do things but needs to be reminded and has no sense of reasoning.  Only follows directions but will follow them exactly.  Just yesterday he didn’t understand that if he couldn’t make it to work that he had to let them know.  He thought he could just go in the next day and tell them.  I have remind him to clean his room, and he isn’t apart of the household.  He just stays in his room all the time.  I have realized he needs someone for a lifetime and I can’t provide it.  I am a single mother of three girls and need help.  He needs help with his finances.  I didn’t realize that til he was 500 dollars in the hole and wasn’t paying any bills.  I just don’t know where to start to get him the help that he needs.  Please help.

A: Thanks for writing in for help. I want to commend your for taking in your brother. That is very courageous. It sounds extremely difficult to see no end in sight, and to know how vulnerable he would be in the world without someone to guide and support him. I believe that there are two things that need to happen at this point: 1) access additional support for your brother and 2) find  help and relief for you so you don’t completely burn out.

Does your brother have an official diagnosis? If not, I recommend that you take your brother in for psychological testing and evaluation. Depending on his diagnosis, he may be eligible for additional resources and care through your state, and may qualify for disability benefits. Please consider contacting NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) in North Carolina and inquire about advocacy and support services in your area, and contact your community social services agency here. Your brother may be eligible for some type of supervised housing situation, occupational therapy for life management skills, and other services. Putting some long-term help in place for your brother will hopefully alleviate some of your current burden and decrease your concerns about him if something should happen to you.

In the short run let’s get you some additional help. Can your father take shifts caring for your brother to give you a break on a regular basis? Are there any adult day care services in your area where you could know he was safe? There are resources available. Please reach out for support for both of you.

Take good care of you and yours!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Ask Julie: How Do I Help My Suicidal Best Friend?

Q: “A few months ago me and my best friends ex boyfriend (who still cares a lot about her) went to our school guidance councilors and told them how my best friend was suicidal. they told her parents and she had to get an evaluation from a therapist. they cleared her and she was allowed back in school. however now school isn’t in session and she’s suicidal again. I know this because she told me that I’m the only thing keeping her alive. a few years ago she was raped by a close friend and then a few days after the rape walked in on him killing himself. she never dealt with this traumatic event and I think it’s one of the reasons she’s suicidal now. we talked a little about it and she told me she feels like she messes everything up and all she does is make things worse. I tried to show her how that’s not true and how a lot of people care about her but she doesn’t believe me. I don’t want to go to her parents again because I dont think they’d believe me a second time. I want her to get help and talk to someone but I don’t know how to do it. please help me.”

A: Thank you for your email. I can feel your concern for your friend through this letter. Even though you might be putting your friendship at risk, I suggest you go talk to her parents. They need to know about the rape and that she walked in on the person who raped her committing suicide. Those are horrific traumas for a teenager to witness and she is in serious danger.  Please watch the video response for more tools to handle this painful situation.

Take good care of yourself
Julie Hanks, LCSW

JulieHanks.com listed #1 Online Depression Influencer by Sharecare

I have a passion (bordering on obsession) with using technology to blog, tweet, post, and answer questions about mental health and relationships because 1) I love what I do as a therapist 2) I want to make a difference in the world for good by educating and providing helpful resources.  So, this morning when I woke up to an email letting me know that I’d been recognized for my online efforts by an amazing national organization Sharecare it’s icing on the cake. Thanks to technology, anyone’s voice can be heard and anyone can make a difference–even a little social worker in Salt Lake City, Utah.

If you’re not familiar with Sharecare.com check it out! It’s an amazing online Q&A platform website founded by Jeff Arnold, founder of WebMD & Dr. Mehmet Oz, with partners Harpo Studios, Sony Pictures Television and Discovery Communications.

 

Read more about the top 10 online influencers

 

Here’s how the top 10 are selected…

“Ask The Therapist” Live Facebook Event Dec. 21

The holiday season can bring out the best…and the worst in all of us, and in family relationships. Here’s your chance to get FREE advice to help you during the holidays and those cold winter months.

I’m excited to be participating in PsychCentral.com’s Ask the Therapist Live Facebook Q & A event with Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker. We will both be available to answer YOUR mental health and relationship questions on Wed. Dec. 21st at 5:30-6:30PM MST in real-time in our Ask The Therapist Facebook Group.

Click here for details

Send you question to PsychCentral’s Ask The Therapist column anytime here