For the most part, men have two speeds — neutral and pissed. Experience demonstrates that the state of rage that plagues the majority of the male population is driven less by genuine anger and more by what might be characterize as covert depression manifesting as anger.
Covert depression doesn’t look like the depression with which we are generally familiar, especially to the people around a man who is in the throes of this particular emotional upheaval. Instead, what the people around us tend to witness is subtle irritation, road rage, explosive arguments, passive-aggression, slovenliness, self-sabotage supported by a failure to follow through and/or a faint sense of insecurity that leads to all kinds of shortcomings in performance — at work, at home, within society at large or even in the bedroom.
“Why anger”, you ask? I like to call anger the First Feeling because it goes straight to the root of the aggression that drives our instinct for survival. Because men are not great at filtering and expressing emotions or feelings, we typically express, or more properly act out, our experience of emotion as anger. The whole male dynamic of emotional experience–feeling, reaction and anger–occurs at a very primal and instinctual level. Men are, in some ways, hardwired for rage – it keeps us sharp. Problem …there are no more saber-toothed tigers with which to contend; the mechanism is obsolete.
For men, the key to deflecting this circumstance is recognizing and acknowledging our emotions. We do this by dissecting rage. Here’s an example: when you get cut off on the highway, you become angry. The reason that you become angry is because someone, in your mind (read: feelings), has compromised your safety, or crossed your boundaries. On the other hand, when your boss chews you out you become angry because you may feel his accusations are unfounded, or you feel disrespected or unappreciated, or you’re anxious about losing your job.
In both situations detailed above you experience anger, but the motivation for that anger is different in each situation. Learning to look at the experience of anger and recognize the underlying feelings and emotions, then expressing those emotions and feelings in a productive manner, diffuses the anger.
As this diffusion begins to happen, the covert depression that ultimately drives our general sense of anger and annoyance starts to take shape as a lack of fulfillment, or disappointment over broken dreams, or anxiety about being able to provide for our family, or performance at work or being a good husband or partner.
It’s not really necessary to understand the why or the how of our human condition or our social circumstances. It’s more important, once we’ve recognized what that circumstance is, to ask the question, “What next?”. I was in an airport a few months ago and saw an advertisement for what I believe was an investment firm. It was a picture of Tiger Woods standing in the rough and tall grass up to his knees. Hand drawn into the picture was a vertical arrow with a break in the line; the small piece at the bottom had a label that said, “10% what you did” — at the top, the label said, “90% what you do”.
In the case of covert depression, emotional success does not rely on the why and how, but more upon what we do next. Tiger Woods lifting the ball out of the rough and onto the green is a metaphor for men lifting ourselves out of our covert depression by both finding and feeling our feelings.
Deconstructing our state of rage leads us to a place where we can drill down into that underlying covert depression that is driven by the subtle sense of “less than” that is visited upon us. This leads to a deconstruction of the depression, and that provides a context for working through the issues that are driving the depression in the first place.
When you think about the reasons why people cheat, what immediately springs to mind? For me, it’s sex. If a person is going to go behind their partner’s back and hook up with someone else, it stands to reason that there’s some form of physical attraction, or thrill of doing the deed with somebody new.
But experts say that’s not really why people have affairs. In fact, according to Dr. Joshua Klapow, PhD, a clinical psychologist, cheating is almost always more about emotions than sex. “What drives the person to engage in the betrayal is the real reason for cheating,” he tells Bustle.
For example, someone might have an affair if they aren’t feeling connected to, or getting validation from their partner. Should a friend or coworker come along who is willing to listen, it makes sense why that extra attention would seem appealing — and why the attraction could quickly escalate into an affair.
While that isn’t necessarily a comfort for folks who have been cheated on, it is important to look at situations like these from all angles, in order to create a stronger relationship. Here, women share why they cheated, and what the experience taught them — and experts delve into the multiple reasons why people cheat.
Knowing an affair isn’t always all about sex won’t make it any less painful for the person being cheated on, but it may help both members of a relationship understand why it happened in the first place. By talking about problems before they get out of hand — and making sure you’re both fulfilled — an affair doesn’t have to happen.
Why I wrote the book… I considered writing this book for a few years but really got
going on it recently. I was incredibly inspired by the novel “Shake Hands with the Devil” by General (retired) and now Senator Romeo Dallaire some years ago as he was instrumental in achieving Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD being recognized and placed on the “map” for Canadians! For the first time, as a result of reading his book, my shame faded and I began to open my eyes to the
possibility I too could be healthy again!
I started to write of my military deployed operations many times but found it too difficult to think of the emotionally charged events. Many of the memories were disturbing and evoked a significant anxiety response in my head, chest and shoulders. The anxiety made it extremely difficult to think clearly and in depth about the specifics of certain events during my deployments, not to mention how they impacted my life both personally and professionally.
Recently, and after a year of intense therapy for PTSD at the Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (Pacific) in Esquimalt BC, I achieved the best health I have known for several years. I was able to concentrate again and think in detail of the stories in particular from Rwanda and Afghanistan without becoming agitated and overwhelmed; I had some new “tools” in my pack! I found the place in my head and soul where I could remember these events with clarity and honesty and was inspired to make my story available to everyone as so many Canadians are unaware of what can occur on military deployments and the illnesses and injuries we sometimes acquire. The stories need to be told, but the impact of those events is perhaps the most important part including the impact on military families.
I am 52 years old and awaiting medical release from the CF; my time for deployments is over. I have served 24 years in the Regular Force and 8 years with the Reserves. It has been a great career and I see my role changing from that of a medical commander to that of a “helper” or “peer” to those who have not yet figured out what steps need to be taken to claim life and personal health back.
I waited 10 years to get help after my Rwandan deployment as I thought I was okay and that I could manage the symptoms of anger, hyper arousal, depression and insomnia. I could not accept that I may be judged as a malingerer or as weak. I thought I could do it, but I was wrong. This is the reason I wrote this book, as many wait for years and try everything and anything we can to keep from asking for help to manage symptoms; alcohol and drugs are often the answer for so many.
The stigma surrounding mental health within the military community is still very prevalent and must be eliminated to open the door for thousands of combat veterans to confidently present themselves to receive the help they deserve and not feel guilty or less of a soldier, sailor, airman or airwoman for doing so! Courage can be demonstrated in many ways, and exercising it earlier rather than later is by far the best approach to enable veterans to effectively manage the stress of combat deployments and return to full and active military or civilian careers and lives.
The intent of this book is to get that premise understood. It needs to be in the public domain as it is the “community” that will diminish the stigma of “weakness” by insisting their military sons and daughters receive treatment early. So many veterans suffer and will continue in silence long after the combat missions are over and the media has gone on to new and more dynamic stories. For the Canadian public at large, the war is over in Afghanistan as the CF now concentrates upon a mentoring role of Afghan military and police forces. The war for hundreds, and perhaps thousands of CF veterans will continue in the form of an insidious, invisible war injury; an Operational Stress Injury (OSI) which includes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2004, almost 10 years after my deployment to Rwanda Africa just after the terrible genocide inflicted upon the Tutsi Tribe by the Hutu’s. I struggled emotionally for several years but eventually I had to ask for help as I became professionally and personally dysfunctional and unable to cope with even “normal” levels of daily stress! My wife Kathryn and my children would tell you that they knew something was wrong long before I thought people would notice. I played a game in my head using all my personal resources and energy to hide the fact that I was not well.
I achieved very good health once I was treated for my initial PTSD, which took about a year of therapy as well as medications. I was able to continue my military career and eventually go on to command medical units, as well as deploy again to Kandahar to be the Executive Officer (XO) of the NATO Role 3 Combat Surgical Hospital. This was an important event in my life and I would not
change any of it. I did get very sick again through this mission but looking back on it now, I would do it again as I was able to do what I was trained to do.
I hope my story will be helpful to all veterans, who need to know that they are not alone with this war injury, and there exists significant resources to help in their recovery; they just need to step forward and ask for it! It doesn’t always mean the end of a military career especially if it can be identified and treated early. This book is also for family members of those individuals as they often feel isolated and “at a loss” for what to do to help their loved one. Lastly, this book is for the Canadian public.
I have been asked many times if the CF is treating our veterans with PTSD better now. I have seen many changes since the first Gulf War in 1991, to Rwanda in 1994, to present day, and I can say with certainty that the CF is doing much better with treatment resources. After all, I am “walking talking proof” that what the CF Mental Health world offers worked for me! However, I do believe that more can be done, but it is important that only proven therapies are offered to CF Vets. Having said that, it is incumbent upon Mental Health professionals and senior leadership in the Canadian Forces Health Services to actively research and provide the finest treatment protocols. They must recognize that there is no “magic pill”, but in fact many worthy resources to treat this terrible injury. The right combination of therapies over time will enable Vets afflicted with PTSD to return to a good and healthy lifestyle.
Warrior Rising describes not only what made me ill with PTSD, but also what I did to battle it down. In the last chapter, I reflect upon my twice weekly therapy sessions and the practices I took on between those sessions. The road back to health can only be guided by the therapy; it is the veteran that must do the really hard work! These were difficult times for me and my family and I hope the honesty and frankness of this chapter will serve as encouragement for those on that path, as well as those not yet started. This is a very personal story and thus it is told as seen through my eyes and in the first person.
In the first chapter I present a short background of my life as a young person purely to demonstrate that I came from a fairly “normal” home with two parents and lived in a suburb of Montreal in the 60’s and 70’s. I also present my initial military experiences just to provide some context of my life leading up to my deployment to the first Gulf War in 1991. I minimized that deployment as it was less than 60 days and in the grand scheme of things was a “blip” on the radar. I provide a few significant moments of this first deployment as it really gave my wife Kathryn and I a quick lesson on how a military deployment can so incredibly impact family life!
I look back upon my career with pride now. It hasn’t always been that way as when I was really sick I had difficulty feeling pride thus, it was very difficult to even put on my uniform. Even though my deployment experiences made me very ill with PTSD and depression, I hold no resentment towards my military career history as it has led me to the place I am today with an incredibly improved understanding of myself, my injury, and my personal and professional relationships. It has also led me to a new focus in life to come to the aid of those veterans who have not yet found the way to get help. I hope this book can play a role to that end.
The button below is now linked to the Friesen Press Bookstore to purchase Warrior Rising in either hard/softcover format. It will be available in early July and will appear on their website when ready to order. For eBook readers, you can download it by doing a search for the title: Warrior Rising- A Soldier’s Journey to PTSD and Back. Thanks to all of you for your patience and your purchase.
Because of a few high-profile individuals, anger management and aggressive outbursts have been in the public spotlight recently. They’ve spurred conversations about what anger is, what it means to lose control, and how to deal with anger. In some cases, people are also beginning to talk about the fact that anger, in and of itself, is not always a bad thing. What is anger? Mayo Clinic describes it as “a feeling of displeasure or hostility.” It functions as an alert that something is not right. People may become angry when they feel threatened. The problem with anger is not that it arises, but rather how it is handled.
The fact that anger arises at all is not the issue: but often, when a person is in a place of anger or hurt, they react with generalized accusations (“You never do what I ask!”) or aggression (slamming doors, yelling, antagonizing). Losing control to anger can change the way you think and how you feel, both physically and emotionally. This can be difficult because it takes an already volatile reaction and moves it farther away from a place of calm and control. When a person becomes angry, they can then become upset at this lack of control, which only makes them angrier.
How a person handles anger is exactly what anger management therapy is about. Reactions to anger can generally be broken into two categories: expression and suppression. Suppression is generally unhealthy, as it just bottles up the energy; it’s likely to come out later in a worse form for not having been dealt with. Expression can be done in a healthy way (calmly addressing the problem) or an unhealthy way (yelling and losing control). In anger management counseling, clients work not to avoid anger, but to understand where it comes from, why certain situations are so personally upsetting, and how to better respond without losing control.
Anger is a natural part of the human condition, but it isn’t always easy to handle. And when people don’t handle it well, the harm they do can be both visible and invisible.
Some people mask their anger. Others explode with rage. For still others, anger is a chronic condition, a habit of resentment that surfaces over and over again.
There are Ten Anger Styles:
Anger Avoidance: These people don’t like anger much. Some are afraid of their anger, or the anger of others. It can be scary and they are afraid to lose control if they get mad. Some think it’s bad to become angry. Anger avoiders gain the sense that being good or nice helps them feel safe and calm.
They have problems, though. Anger can help you to survive when something is wrong. Avoiders can’t be assertive, because they feel too guilty when they say what they want. Too often the result is that they are walked over by others.
Sneaky Anger: Anger Sneaks never let others know they are angry. Sometimes, they don’t even know how angry they are. But the anger comes out in other forms, such as forgetting things a lot, or saying they’ll do something, but never intending to follow through. Or, they sit around and frustrate everybody and their families. Anger Sneaks can look hurt and innocent and often ask, “Why are you gettting mad at me?” They gain a sense of control over their lives when they frustrate others. By doing little or nothing, or putting things off, they thwart other people’s plans. However, Anger Sneaks lose track of their own wants and needs. They don’t know what to do with their own lives and that leads to boredom, frustration, and unsatisfying relationships.
Paranoid Anger: This type of anger occurs when someone feels irrationally threatened by others. They seek aggression everywhere. They believe people want to take what is theirs. They expect others will attack them physically or verbally. Because of this belief, they spend much time jealously guarding and defending what they think is theirs – the love of a partner (real or imangined), their money, or their valuables. People with Paranoid anger give their anger away. They think everybody else is angry instead of acknowledging their own rage. They have found a way to get angry without guilt. Their anger is disguised as self-protection. It is expesive, though. They are insecure and trust nobody. They have poor judgment because they confuse their own feelings with those of others. They see their own anger in the eyes and words of their friends, mates, and co-workers. This leaves them (and everyone around them) confused.
Sudden Anger: People with sudden anger are like thunderstorms on a summer day. They zoom in from nowhere, blast everything in sight, and then vanish. Sometimes it’s only lightning and thunder, a big show that soon blows away. But often people get hurt, homes are broken up, and things are damaged that will take a long time to repair. Sudden Anger people gain a surge of power. They release all their feelings, so they feel good or relieved. Loss of control is a major problem with sudden anger. They can be a danger to themselves and others. They may get violent. They say and do things they later regret, but by then it’s too late to take them back.
Shame-Based Anger: People who need a lot of attention or are very sensitive to criticism often develop this style of anger. The slightest criticism sets off their own shame. Unfortunately, they don’t like themselves very much. They feel worthless, not good enough, broken, unloveable. So, when someone ignores them or says something negative, they take it as proof that the other person dislikes them as much as they dislike themselves. But that makes them really angry, so they lash out. They think, “You made me feel awful, so I’m going to hurt you back.” They get rid of their shame by blaming, criticizing, and ridiculing others. Their anger helps them get revenge against anybody they think shamed them. They avoid their own feelings of inadequacy by shaming others.
Raging against others to hide shame doesn’t work very well. They usually end up attacking the people they love. They continue to be oversensitive to insults because of their poor self-image. Their anger and loss of control only makes them feel worse about themselves.
Deliberate Anger:This anger is planned. People who use this anger usually know what they are doing. They aren’t really emotional about their anger, at least not at first. They like controlling others, and the best way they’ve discovered to do that is with anger and, sometimes, violence. Power and control are what people gain from deliberate anger. Their goal is to get what they want by threatening or overpowering others. This may work for a while, but this usually breaks down in the long run. People don’t like to be bullied and eventually they figure out ways to escape or get back at the bully.
Addictive Anger: Some people want or need the strong feelings that come with anger. They like the intensity even if they don’t like the trouble their anger causes them. Their anger is much more than a bad habit – it provides emotional excitement. It isn’t fun, but it’s powerful. These people look forward to the anger “rush,” and the emotional “high.” Anger addicts gain a sense of intensity and emotional power when they explode. They feel alive and full of energy. Addictions are inevitably painful and damaging. This addiction is no exception. They don’t learn other ways to feel good, so they become dependent upon their anger. They pick fights just to get high on anger. And, since they need intensity, their anger takes on an all-or-nothing pattern that creates more problems than it solves.
Habitual Anger: Anger can become a bad habit. Habitually angry people find themselves getting angry often, usually about small things that don’t bother others. They wake up grumpy. They go through the day looking for fights. They look for the worst in everything and everybody. They usually go to bed angry about something. They might even have angry dreams. Their angry thoughts set them up for more and more arguments. They can’t seem to quit being angry, even though they are unhappy. Habitually angry people gain predictibility. They always know what they feel. Life may be lousy but it is known, safe, and steady. However, they get trapped in their anger and it runs their lives. They can’t get close to the people they love because their anger keeps them away.
Moral Anger: Some people think they have a right to be angry when others have broken a rule. That makes the offenders bad, evil, wicked, sinful. They have to be scolded, maybe punished. People with this anger style feel outraged about what bad people are doing. They say they have a right to defend their “beliefs.” They claim moral superiority. They gain the sense that anger is for a good cause. They don’t feel guilty when they get angry because of this. They often feel superior to others even in their anger. These people suffer from black-and-white thinking, which means they see the world too simply. They fail to understand people who are different from themselves. They often have rigid ways of thinking and doing things. Another problem with this anger style is crusading – attacking every problem or difference of opinion with moral anger when compromise or understanding might be better.
Hate: Hate is a hardened anger. It is a nasty anger style that happens when someone decides that at least one other person is totally evil or bad. Forgiving the other person seems impossible. Instead, the hater vows to despise the offender. Hate starts as anger that doesn’t get resovled. Then it becomes resentment, and then a true hatred that can go on indefinitely. Haters often think about the ways they can punish the offender and they sometimes act on those ideas. These people feel they are innocent victims. They create a world of enemies to fight, and they attack them with great vigor and enthusiasm. However, this hatred causes serious damage over time. Haters can’t let go or get on with life. They become bitter and frustrated and their lives become mean, small and narrow.
Anger is a tricky emotion, difficult to use well until you learn how. It is a real help though, as long as you don’t get trapped in any of the anger styles aforementioned. People who use anger well have a healthy or “normal” relationship with their anger. They think of anger in the following characteristic ways:
Anger is a normal part of life
Anger is an accurate signal of real problems in a person’s life
Angry actions are screened carefully; you needn’t automatically get angry just because you could
Anger is expressed in moderation so there is no loss of control
The goal is to solve the problems, not just to express anger
Anger is clearly stated in ways that others can understand
Anger is temporary. It can be relinquished once an issue is resolved
When you practice good anger skills, you never need to use your anger as an excuse. You can take responsibility for what you say and do, even when you are mad.
The more you know about your personal anger style(s), the more control you will have over your life. You can learn to let go of excessive anger and resentment.
As a trained therapist, with experience in the addictions field, I help people with substance abuse and addiction issues in one-on-one counselling.
Sometimes individuals want (or require) intensive treatment or detox assistance. Here is the contact information for Addictions Services in Ottawa.
Addiction Services of Ottawa
This bilingual organization is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and is mandated to serve residents of the Ottawa region. This organization operates out of the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre and provides a diverse range of services to adults and youth who have concerns regarding substance use/abuse or problem gambling. The treatment matching focus encompasses individuals at all points along the risk continuum from early stage, to moderate, to severe substance use problems. This organization recognizes and respects the dignity, self-worth and diversity of every person who contacts the service.
One type of emotional abuse that warrants a section of its own is witnessing family violence. Due to the ever-increasing statistics of family violence, I’ve treated this topic separately. You’ll find it below underterrorizing.
Types of emotional abuse #1: Rejecting
Putting down a child or youth’s worth or putting down their needs.
» constant criticism » name-calling » telling child he/she is ugly » yelling or swearing at the child » frequent belittling-use of labels such as “stupid”, “idiot” » constant demeaning jokes » verbal humiliation » constant teasing about child’s body type and/or weight » expressing regret the child wasn’t born the opposite sex » refusing hugs and loving gestures » physical abandonment » excluding child from family activities » treating an adolescent like she/he is a child » expelling child from family » not allowing youth to make own reasonable choices
Types of emotional abuse #2: Isolating
Keeping a child away from family and friends.
» leaving child in room unattended for long periods » keeping child away from family » not allowing child to have friends » not permitting child interaction with other children » keeping child away from other caregiver if separated » rewarding child for withdrawing from social contact » ensuring child looks and acts differently than peers » isolating child in closet » insisting on excessive studying and/or chores » preventing youth participating in activities outside the home » punishing youth for engaging in normal social experiences
FACT: Isolated emotional child abuse has had the lowest rate of substantiation of any of the types of emotional abuse (Kairys, 20022).
Types of emotional abuse #3: Ignoring
Failing to give any response to or interact with a child or youth at all.
» no response to infant’s spontaneous social behaviours » not accepting the child as an offspring » denying required health care » denying required dental care » failure to engage child in day to day activities » failure to protect child » not paying attention to significant events in child’s life » lack of attention to schooling, etc. » refusing to discuss youth’s activities and interests » planning activities/vacations without adolescent
Types of emotional abuse #4: Corrupting
Encouraging a child or youth to do things that are illegal or harmful to themselves.
» rewarding child for bullying and harassing behaviour » teaching racism and ethnic biases » encouraging violence in sporting activities » inappropriate reinforcement of sexual activity » rewarding child for lying and stealing » rewarding child for substance abuse and sexual activity » supplying child with drugs, alcohol and other illegal substances » promoting illegal activities such as selling drugs » teaching and promoting prostitution
Types of emotional abuse #5: Exploiting
Giving a child or youth responsibilities that are far greater than a child/youth that age can handle. It is also using a child for profit.
» infants expected not to cry » anger when infant fails to meet a developmental stage » child expected to be ‘caregiver’ to the parent » young child expected to take care of younger siblings » blaming child or youth for misbehaviour of siblings » unreasonable responsibilities for jobs around the house » expecting youth to support family financially » encouraging participation in pornography » sexually abusing child or youth » requiring child or youth to participate in sexual exploitation
Types of emotional abuse #6: Terrorizing
Causing a child or youth to be terrified by the constant use of threats and/or intimidating behaviour. This includes witnessing, which is when a child or youth observes violence, hears violence, or knows that violence is taking place in the home.
» with infants and children, excessive teasing » yelling and scaring » unpredictable and extreme responses to child’s behaviour » extreme verbal threats » raging, alternating with periods of artificial warmth » threatening abandonment » beating family members in front of or in ear range of child » threatening to destroy a favourite object » threatening to harm a beloved pet » forcing child to watch inhumane acts against animals » inconsistent demands on the child » displaying inconsistent emotions » changing the ‘rules of the game’ » threatening that the child is adopted and doesn’t belong » ridiculing youth in public » threats to reveal intensely embarrassing traits to peers » threatening to kick adolescent out of the house
FACT: Children and youth who witness family violence experience all sixtypes of emotional abuse.
FACT: A 1995 telephone survey identifying types of emotional abuse suggested that by the time a child was 2 years old, 90% of families had used one or more forms of psychological aggression in the previous 12 months (Straus, 20003).
Many people including parents, members of the law enforcement community and journalists, think that infants and young children who witness violence are too young to know what happened. They don’t take it in. “They won’t remember.” In fact, infants and young children can be overwhelmed by their exposure to violence, especially–as it is likely to be the case with very young children–when both victims and perpetrators are well known and emotionally important to the child and the violence occurs in or near the child’s own home.
Psychotherapy, talk therapy, and counseling are all terms used when treatment revolves around a patient talking to a therapist every week. This series of blogs aims to evaluate some common myths about getting therapy for one’s mental or emotional symptoms. The first post in this series addressed the purpose of psychotherapy.
Myth: Talking about your issues is a psychological-only treatment in that it does not affect biological brain functioning.
Reality: This may be partially true. Talking about things often calms one down and lets one see several points of view and options for corrective actions in the future.
But psychotherapy is also a brain process. Talking things through likely strengthens the front part of the brain, making it stronger and better able to control the parts of the brain involved in drives and impulses (such as anger and sadness).
Imagine a depression study in which half of the patients only get psychotherapy, and the other half only get an antidepressant medication. Both groups of patients would get their brains scanned. (Such a study was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 2001.) Guess what? Those whose depression got better had the same changes in brain functioning, regardless of whether they took the medication or just talked in therapy. So talking in psychotherapy does create biological changes, just like some medications do.
Why is this important? Some patients think psychotherapy is just talking and they want a more “biological” treatment that is studied and scientific. Psychotherapy is both of these.
Posted by: Thomas L. Schwartz, MD at 2:42 pm
I have been on anti-depressants and anxiety medications for several years; I have also seen a couple of different psychotherapists as well. I feel that the combination for me has been tremendously healthy for my emotional well-being. Quite frankly I feel that for me the combination has been enormously helpful because talking with a trained professional in addition to taking medication is crucial at getting to the root of my mental health issues. I feel that talking with a psychotherapist “validates” and guides me through very strong mental issues that I have had over the years. For example, I have learned to be more assertive as a result of seeking psychotherapy as I am the type of person who can admit to needing more than just medication….I need validation of my feelings by a trained pr
From Monday’s Globe and Mail Published Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011 7:30PM EDT
In the last decade, there has been an explosion of cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder among Canadian children. Everyone knows a Grade 2 student who cannot stop fidgeting in class or focus on the lesson of the day. With Ritalin, and other forms of therapy, these children can learn to live and thrive with ADHD.
However, ADHD in adults has not received the same level of recognition. Many in the medical community still associate the disorder only with children – even though almost two-thirds of patients never outgrow their symptoms. The disorder is also highly genetic, making it probable that if a child has it, so does one of her parents.
A failure to properly recognize, and treat, the disorder among adults costs everyone. The disorder’s key symptoms – inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness – can become a source of shame and embarrassment at work, and prevent creative people from reaching their potential. A Harvard study reported that untreated ADHD costs the workplace an estimated $70-billion a year.
Adults with untreated ADHD are also at significant risk of developing problems such as low self-esteem, addictions and obesity.
Although the prevalence rate for the disorder in adults is about 5 per cent, there is a shortage of adult psychiatrists in Canada who specialize in attention disorders, notes Umesh Jain, an ADHD researcher at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Many patients end up being misdiagnosed with anxiety and depression. A 2006 U.S. study found that only about 10 per cent of adults with ADHD receive appropriate treatment. “Many attempts have been made to educate psychiatrists about adult ADHD, but many doctors still don’t believe in it,” says Dr. Jain.
That leaves many people earning below their potential, or masking the disorder by choosing highly intense professions or extreme sports to give them the stimulation they crave. Once these roles end, they can have tremendous difficulty coping.
Adult psychiatrists and family doctors should become more aware of ADHD in adults. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders should clarify how it presents and evolves over time. With effective treatment – including medication and psychotherapy – a person’s life trajectory can be dramatically altered, and the underlying explanation for years of irritability, suffering and other problems can be correctly identified.
My sister is pregnant. Again. She just bought a home (in the burbs), but is deep in debt. The house needs all kinds of renovations, and both she and her husband work two jobs. My nephew, who is 1.5 years old, is woefully underdeveloped. He hates to leave his mother’s arms, so doesn’t walk very well and is a bit underweight. And he doesn’t say a peep.
I could not be more different from my sis. I live downtown with my boyfriend and we’re saving marriage for after we’ve travelled and are debt-free. I can’t imagine responsibly having a child until I’m more stable, say in my mid- to late 30s. So when my sister told me the news, I asked questions like, ‘Are you sure this is the right time?’ ‘What about the health risks?’ (She has high blood pressure.) She hung up on me. I don’t think she’s looking at the reality of the situation, but I feel terrible about not being more supportive. What should I do?
Uh, how about … be more supportive?
Now, before I continue, I want to say that I work hard to make Damage Control a judgment-free zone. When someone does me the honour of writing in and saying, “Dear Dave, I made a mistake,” I try to be like: “We all do, it’s confusing down here.” And only then: “Here’s what I think you should do.”
But I do make an exception when someone doesn’t really seem to understand how or where they’re screwing up, or that they’re even screwing up in the first place – which certainly seems to be the case here.
So here we go: First of all, we parents don’t say a toddler is “1.5 years old.” We say “18 months.” And for an 18-month-old to be quiet, a little unsteady on his pins and attached to his mother sounds pretty normal to me – even rather ideal.
You say he’s “a little underweight.” And obviously that would be a cause for concern. But why do I get the feeling if he gained a few pounds, you’d start saying he’s “tragically obese”?
In any case, “woefully underdeveloped” sounds like pure histrionics and way out of line. Everyone loves to fill the air with opinions about parenting – until they have kids themselves. That tends to shuts them up.
But it’s not just your sister’s parenting you appear to pooh-pooh. It’s everything: the fact that she lives in the suburbs, the way she and her husband manage their finances, the state of their home, the state of her health, even how hard they work.
If they had a dog, you’d probably say they don’t wash it often enough.
Need I add that when someone announces they’re pregnant it’s a little late to be urging planned parenthood and birth control – the exact wrong time, in fact.
I’m not surprised she hung up on you.
Sister, at the very minimum, you need to step back, let your sister live her life and worry more about your own.
I’m happy for you that you and your downtown boyfriend plan to travel the world, emerging just in time for him to fertilize your perfectly ripened ovaries in an atmosphere of maturity, good parenting, low blood pressure and debt-free fiscal responsibility. (“Debt-free.” Sigh: Wouldn’t that be nice? I’ve heard of people who are debt-free, but never met one personally. I’m beginning to suspect they’re a myth, like the Yeti or Ogopogo.)
But have you ever heard the old Yiddish saying: “Man plans, God laughs”? What if one or both of you lose your jobs? What if, after all of your globetrotting, you find you can no longer afford your downtown rent and lifestyle?
What if, during your travels, your boyfriend falls for a topless Penelope Cruz look-alike on a beach in Ibiza, and *poof* disappears? And you decide to cope with your loss by drinking excessively and noshing on family-sized bags of high-sodium chips?
You may find yourself 38, single, broke, in debt, your biological clock ticking madly as you e-date one doofus after another – and with blood pressure through the roof.
And you know what you’ll need then? A supportive family. Particularly a sister who will listen to your woes, set you up with a decent dude, maybe slip you a little cheddar.
And that’s what your sister needs now. A little support to get her through what is obviously a slightly rocky time in her life. And you’re not giving it to her.
So stop criticizing, eschew the pooh-poohing and pitch in. Offer to babysit, bring over a frozen lasagna, roll up your sleeves and help fix up the place.
Whatever it takes. You have, I can tell, plenty of time and unused energy on your hands. Put it to good use!
David Eddie is the author of Chump Change, Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad and Damage Control, the book.
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