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  • Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1 Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1

    Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1

Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1

Things won’t get better I’ve experienced darkness in my life. Deep darkness. When I was a kid, I was in boy scouts. One time, on a day trip, our scout leaders took us to an abandoned mine shaft. I know, this story has a very promising beginning, just like the last one. Because we didn’t know anything, and apparently neither did our leaders, we wandered into the mine shaft, deeper and deeper into the mountain. Our way was lighted by an actual torch, not a flashlight or lantern. One of our leaders, who just happened to be the one holding the torch and also happened to have the most severe case of ADHD of the bunch of us, thought it would be a funny trick, once we were several hundred feet into the mine shaft, to knock the torch on the ground, extinguishing the flame. The tunnel that we were exploring had curved to the left, meaning that when the torch was gone, the entrance to the shaft was out of sight around a corner, leaving us with absolutely no light. In review, we were 12 year old kids in an abandoned mine shaft and it was so dark, we […]

By |April 23rd, 2015|Blog, Insight, snippets, things I was wrong about|Comments Off on Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1
  • So, What CAN I Say to Someone Suffering from Depression? So, What CAN I Say to Someone Suffering from Depression?

    So, What CAN I Say to Someone Suffering from Depression?

So, What CAN I Say to Someone Suffering from Depression?

I got a lot of feedback about my previous post on what not to say to a depressed person. I, myself, realized, after I finished writing, that my list seemed to eliminate most of the seemingly helpful things people actually say to depressed people, along with some of the more useless pieces of advice. So, have I thrown the baby out with the bathwater? I don’t think so, but let me explain. The purpose of the list was to describe, for people who don’t suffer from depression, what the mind can do to even objectively harmless and pro-social encouragement when it is weighed down under a cloud of darkness. The most positive and encouraging sentiments are quickly corroded in the acid bath of negativity, rendering them unhelpful at best and harmful at worst. This naturally leads to the question, “So, if I can’t even tell them that I love them, what can I say to them?” Check out this list of suggestions: 1. That must feel terrible… I’ve written before about the importance of validation, especially when it comes to getting someone to listen to your perspective. Much of the usual feedback given to depressed people is intended to be […]

By |October 10th, 2014|Blog, Insight|Comments Off on So, What CAN I Say to Someone Suffering from Depression?
  • Playing Dead Emotionally: How Numbing Your Pain Can Be a Curse (and a Blessing) Playing Dead Emotionally: How Numbing Your Pain Can Be a Curse (and a Blessing)

    Playing Dead Emotionally: How Numbing Your Pain Can Be a Curse (and a Blessing)

Playing Dead Emotionally: How Numbing Your Pain Can Be a Curse (and a Blessing)

Fight, Flight and … Freeze? Most people have heard of the “fight or flight” response. It is the body’s naturally hard-wired way of dealing with threats to one’s safety. I have written about it before, a few times, so I won’t go into it again but today I’m going to mention the third part of this response: freeze. In nature, animals typically go to flight first, since they are free of ego and have nothing to prove, only to enhance their own chances of survival. If they can’t go to flight and escape danger, they will go to fight, posturing and growling in hopes of scaring off the threat. If this fails, they will actually engage in aggressive behavior, albeit defensive aggression. Once these two options are unsuccessful, or if they are unavailable, most species have a form of reflexive behavior that could be termed “playing dead”. Playing Dead Emotionally Since most of the threats people face in our neck of the woods are social or emotional (although many do face actual physical threats in many forms), the freeze response may look a bit different than it does for a possum or cat. In our case, we tend to play […]

  • The Sun and the Shadow: Making Sense of Inconsistent Behavior The Sun and the Shadow: Making Sense of Inconsistent Behavior

    The Sun and the Shadow: Making Sense of Inconsistent Behavior

The Sun and the Shadow: Making Sense of Inconsistent Behavior

My Grade 7 year at Salmo Elementary School was a year of great highs and profound lows.  I discovered music for the first time, real popularity, great embarrassment, and of course, girls. Well actually I discovered girls in Kindergarten. That was also the first year that I was involved in any kind of athletic endeavour. I was tall for my age, as were a few of my friends and so when the school formed a basketball team and we played against other elementary schools we dominated. When you have three kids who are almost 6 feet tall in grade 7 and the hoops are only 8 feet tall, it is a recipe for disaster for the other teams. I tried all sports that year as they came up on the calendar, too naïve to realize that most people aren’t good at everything. The sport that was probably the worst match for me physically and mentally was cross-country running. This didn’t stop me from joining the team, of course; any excuse to get out of school or do anything extracurricular was something I would gladly sign up for, even if it meant limping along, drenched in sweat, wanting to puke, while […]

  • Complex Trauma: When the Whole is More Painful than the Sum of its Parts (PART 2) Complex Trauma: When the Whole is More Painful than the Sum of its Parts (PART 2)

    Complex Trauma: When the Whole is More Painful than the Sum of its Parts (PART 2)

Complex Trauma: When the Whole is More Painful than the Sum of its Parts (PART 2)

Attachment Injuries Now that we have a rudimentary understanding of the necessity for, and basis of attachment behavior, we can begin to discuss attachment injuries and their effects. The term “attachment injury” refers to trauma that occurs within the context of a relationship. In order to understand the impact of relational trauma, consider an analogy from the field of physiology. Lessons From Physiology Proprioception is the body’s sense of where it is in space. It is the cumulative interpretation of the body’s various internal and external sensory systems that allow it to have an accurate assessment of the external enivronment. In layman’s terms, it is the body’s sense that allows a person to walk up the stairs or type at a keyboard without the necessity of visual information. When areas of the body are damaged or injured, this vital sensory ability is one of the first casualties. Musculoskeletal injuries result in impaired functioning of this vital sensory feedback system. This results in the increased likelihood of future injury, as the body has a reduced kinesthetic (body movement) awareness of the injured limb or joint. The parallels between this sensory system and the attachment system are easy to see. Attachment theorists […]

By |September 24th, 2013|Blog, Education|1 Comment
  • Complex Trauma: When the Whole is More Painful than the Sum of its Parts (PART 1) Complex Trauma: When the Whole is More Painful than the Sum of its Parts (PART 1)

    Complex Trauma: When the Whole is More Painful than the Sum of its Parts (PART 1)

Complex Trauma: When the Whole is More Painful than the Sum of its Parts (PART 1)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is diagnosed when an individual displays a cluster of symptoms that include various manifestations of the following: dissociation (feeling removed from reality), re-experiencing (flashbacks), and increased arousal (heightened stress response). In order for a diagnosis of PTSD to occur, however, these symptoms need to be as a result of the individual having been directly exposed to an event that threatened their life and/or safety or that of another individual. This criterion is known as the A1 criterion, since it is the primary criterion that must be present in order for diagnosis to occur. Amongst the general population, 7-8% of people will end up with PTSD at some point in their life. Within certain groups of people, however, such as individuals with substance-use disorders, the rate of diagnosis is much higher. For example, in one sample of substance-abusing psychiatric patients, researchers found that 90% had experienced physical/sexual assault and at least 50% met the diagnostic criteria for crime-related PTSD. However, there is a new direction of understanding with regard to trauma-related stress reactions; it is referred to as complex PTSD (CPTSD). Individuals in this category meet all of the same diagnostic criteria as […]

By |September 24th, 2013|Blog, Uncategorized|1 Comment

A Virtual Slap: How Words Can Hurt

By |August 20th, 2013|Blog, Education, Insight|Comments Off on A Virtual Slap: How Words Can Hurt

Facebook for Neurons: The Science of Anxiety

By |August 17th, 2013|Blog, Education|Comments Off on Facebook for Neurons: The Science of Anxiety
  • How to Change The Past How to Change The Past

    How to Change The Past

How to Change The Past

One of the most frequently used lines of false consolation that I hear is “you can’t change the past”. Usually this bit of indispensable wisdom is offered as a word of advice when someone is describing the impact of some negative event from their history, something that they wish had never happened and often something that continues to affect them to this day. Of course, this advice and apparent statement of the obvious is rarely helpful, which is not surprising if we look at the gist of this rejoinder. Let’s say you run breathless to the neighbour’s house, pounding on the door. They open the door and ask what’s going on. You tell them that there’s been a terrible accident and you need them to call an ambulance because you think your brother is dead. I don’t think anyone would feel justified or even attempt to rationalize a response such as, “Well, it’s in the past. You can’t change the past. You just have to let it go and get over it.” We would expect that person to offer help, to repair whatever damage had been done, within reason and their capability. Of course we wouldn’t expect them to take […]

By |March 26th, 2013|Blog, Insight, Uncategorized|Comments Off on How to Change The Past
  • From Shame to Compassion: A How-To Guide to Transforming Pain into Progress From Shame to Compassion: A How-To Guide to Transforming Pain into Progress

    From Shame to Compassion: A How-To Guide to Transforming Pain into Progress

From Shame to Compassion: A How-To Guide to Transforming Pain into Progress

The purpose of this post is to introduce a new way of thinking about problematic behavior. Many of us struggle to curb thoughts or behaviors that are ineffective at best and destructively corrosive at worst. We try and try again, only to meet with failure. Most of us throw our hands up and either set about resigning ourselves to the seemingly inevitable disappointing outcome of our existence, or continue to push against the same brick wall, using the same approach that has already proven so ineffective. This is the cycle of pain. Kathryn Schulz, journalist and author spoke at a TED conference about the experience of being wrong. She asked participants in the audience to describe how it felt to be wrong. Predictable answers ensued, focusing on the theme of embarrassment or similar emotions. She then pointed out that this was the experience of discovering that you have made a mistake, not the experience of actually making the mistake. She stated that the actual act of being wrong carries with it no emotion of its own; it only carries the emotion and meaning that we give to it. I would take Schulz’s idea a step further and point out that […]

By |January 22nd, 2013|Blog, Insight, Uncategorized|Comments Off on From Shame to Compassion: A How-To Guide to Transforming Pain into Progress