If you search for “therapists near me,” you might find almost every therapists’ web page with the same disclaimer: We are only offering online therapy at this time. This is one small example of the “new normal” since the pandemic began. Many people have made the switch to online therapy and continue to attend every week. Some people even started therapy for the first time in 2020, and to this day have not met their therapist in-person. Some of us have experienced new levels of grief and anxiety for the first time, while others are seeing long-standing issues push to the surface. I can’t help but wonder: what, if anything, gets lost in translation through online therapy? Is online therapy the best way to deliver therapy? Is it here to stay?
Asking for what we want and need in a clear, direct, honest, and courageous way is one of the keys to healthy communication and relationship dynamics and yet one of the hardest things to do. I have struggled with it personally for a long time. Raised as an Asian American woman, being assertive felt counter to my upbringing and cultural values. Yet I have learned over time, as Brené Brown puts it, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”
May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month so I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).
Perinatal mood and anxiety disorder is the occurrence of distressing emotional symptoms during pregnancy and throughout the first year after pregnancy. Around 15%-20% of mothers experience symptoms related to PMAD (Byrnes, 2018). The term has been broadened from postpartum depression in recent years to include symptoms of anxiety, obsessive and compulsive disorder, psychosis, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
The past year has ushered in loss and as a society, we are collectively grieving. As a culture, we have a script for honoring big losses such as the death of a loved one. We have rituals in place that allow for the mourning process to be carried forward. This helps us honor our grief and work through it. What the pandemic has really highlighted for me, however, is the question of what do we do with small losses? How do we grieve the ambiguous loss? I think of the unattended high school graduation, the canceled concert, the postponed wedding, the break-up, and the social isolation.
How are you doing? No, really. How are you? I know I have been so wrapped up with work, adjusting to the constantly changing landscape of the coronavirus, and the roller coaster of the news and media that I have not really checked in with myself about how I am feeling or coping through this time.
The coronavirus pandemic has been all over the news, dominating my conversations with clients, friends, and family, as well as constantly swirling in my mind. At such an unprecedented time in our global history, anxiety and stress are running high for very good reasons. There is so much uncertainty about how this invisible force can hurt each of us, our loved ones, the economy, and the world. We are in the middle of a medical, psychological, financial, and political crisis.
It's that time of the year again. The amount of daylight is decreasing every day. Here in Seattle, the clouds, rain, and cold have moved in. People who are sensitive to the effects of weather and sunlight may notice that their moods are significantly impacted by the change in season. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a common experience here in the Pacific Northwest due to our geographic distance from the equator. According to the American Psychiatric Association, SAD affects 5% of adults in the U.S. and can last on average 40% of the year.
I recently contributed to a Seattle Times article on happiness at work. The article was in response to the CNBC Workplace Happiness Index research. You can find out more about the original research here. In a nutshell, the CNBC researchers asked 8,664 professionals a series of questions about their satisfaction at work. The researchers looked at five different categories of satisfaction: meaning, autonomy, recognition, opportunity, and pay; and they combined them into a single factor called the Workplace Happiness Index. They concluded that happiness at work is a multi-dimensional and complex outcome. In addition to my contribution that was quoted in the article, I want to add a few more thoughts in this blog post about workplace happiness in general and about this study in particular.
Living with a pattern of procrastination can be difficult because it is often a silent, invisible, and shameful inner struggle. You may feel that there is a cloud of dread hanging over your head at all times. As the deadline looms, the sense of dread can grow until it becomes too much to bear. You may say to yourself, "This feels awful and I will never do it again!" Only to find yourself back in the cycle of procrastination the next time a deadline comes around.
When we think of trauma, we often think of extreme experiences of life or death. War, combat, sexual assault, physical abuse are the examples that come easily to mind. This definition of trauma is reflected in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is the book that mental health providers refer to when identifying and diagnosing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The first criteria for the diagnosis of PTSD is direct or indirect exposure to "death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence."
We created this blog to share information about living a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life. We are constantly learning new things and making mistakes along the way. This blog is our way of chronicling our discoveries, musing, and lessons learned as people and professionals. We invite you to come along on our journey of self reflection, discovery, and thriving with challenges. We also hope to exchange wisdom and enlightenment from you, our readers.
The information provided in this blog is not a substitute for professional mental health treatment.