Surprising Knowledge About My Ideal Weight Changes Everything

Learning about my real ideal weight was the biggest surprise this year. It wasn’t just a surprise – it was a massive revelation that changed everything. My Ideal Weight Back-story Like pretty much any woman in the developed world, I have had a rocky relationship with my physical form. Pretty much forever. I hit puberty early. I was in third grade. Suddenly I had hips and boobs while my classmates were still tiny. By 5th grade, I was standing around with the other “fat” girls at recess. My extended family is very weight and health conscious too, so it wasn’t much fun. My mom did her best to help me have a healthy body image. She showed me many magazine articles talking about how the images of women were completely inaccurate. She pointed out that my measurements (at age 12) matched Marilyn Monroe’s. She talked about how my ancestors were large people and the average American woman wore a size 14 (my pants size at the time). Enough of it stuck to keep me from becoming a basket-case, yet I still hated my body (except my boobs – big boobs are always a good thing!). My Evolving Ideal Weight Journey As a college student, I continued to devour articles criticizing the popular messages about body size. I claimed my identity as a feminist, and I pursued a women’s studies certificate in grad school. I believe feeling good about our bodies and the space we occupy is a hugely important and feminist issue. This belief inspired me to keep hammering away at my own toxic relationship with my physical form....

How to Suggest Someone See a Therapist

How to suggest someone see a therapist. We’ve all been there. Part of being a friend or a family member means that you support the people around you through challenges in their lives. But sometimes, we don’t feel like we can help someone as much as we want to. Maybe that’s because there are stresses in our own lives. Or maybe it’s because the trauma, the loss, or confusion they are experiencing is too unfamiliar. And sometimes, it’s simply because we don’t feel we know them well enough. It’s times like these that it’s best to suggest someone see a therapist. However, this is not an easy conversation to have. How to suggest someone see a therapist includes reducing someone’s anxiety about therapy in general. There are several key elements in broaching this topic with someone else. Aristocrats-hat via Compfight Therapy is For Normal People Many people have a negative view of therapy. Some think that the only thing mental health professionals do is talk to be who are “crazy.” How to suggest someone see a therapist if they have this view? Share the truth. In truth, however, the vast majority of mental health experts—from psychologists, to psychiatrists, to counselors and even licensed clinical social workers like myself—work with people who are able to function in everyday life. Most of my clients and most therapy the clients the world over have jobs, maintain relationships, and achieve success in many areas of their lives. Most people are in therapy because they see the possibility of improvement in their life and they are willing to talk to someone about making a change. A therapist is someone who...

A Therapist Going to Networking Events

A therapist going to networking events. Yes – this does happen.  We are a small business, so we attend networking events. Often, I am the only mental health therapist in the room. Responses Heard by a Therapist Going to Networking Events Part of my role at Integrative Health Resources is marketing our practice and helping it grow. One way I try to do this is through this blog. Another way is by attending networking events. When I attend networking events, I introduce myself and state what I do for a living: “I am a social worker, with a private mental health practice on the north side.” I tend to get one of three responses: You are so brave/strong/sweet/kind/good – I could never do that! So you’re looking to meet the crazy people then? Can I ask you about my friend/niece/wife/son? None of these three responses is helpful. I will try to explain why. Thoughts of a Therapist Going to Networking Events Here’s what I am really thinking about each of these responses: I am not so brave/strong/sweet/kind/good. I am a highly trained professional. This training included recognizing destructive patterns in other people so I can get myself out of the way and not take it personally. When my clients share intense emotion (which happens at least twice a day, hopefully!), I have been trained to maintain an empathetic connection without getting caught up in their emotions myself. Finally, my calling means I have a serious self-interest in this situation. My job enables me to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of human nature in a deep and intimate way. I love...

Angelina Jolie’s Mastectomy

Angelina Jolie’s mastectomy is big news. Why? Because it was voluntary. Is this a cover-up for getting a breast augmentation? Another example of her “crazy” life choices? In an Op-Ed published today in the New York Times, Angelina Jolie publicly talks about her decision to get a double-mastectomy. My heart is warmed by her bravery — both in pursuing the procedure and in talking about it openly. Bravery of Angelina Jolie’s Mastectomy Mastectomy terrifies many women who have to get the procedure in order to treat existing cancer. Anxiety about losing sensation, losing their nipples, and feeling somehow less of a woman haunts the decision. The costs of surgery, both financial and the time-commitment, can be scary. Cancer is about the scariest diagnosis out there. These fears are exactly why Angelina Jolie’s mastectomy is so brave. Jolie is saying hey, there’s a way to measure your risk and take action accordingly. I did it. She says her motivation is watching her mom lose her own 10 year battle with cancer. She wants to be alive for her kids, not waiting for her 87% risk of developing breast cancer to strike. I understand and support her thinking on this one. My own mother died from complications of uterine cancer when I was 16. Her mother died from ovarian cancer before I was born. I know at some point in the next 10-15 years I want to get a voluntary hysterectomy. I know taking my ovaries will trigger instant menopause and a host of other complications. I’m not sure I care. I don’t want to die between 45 and 65. As a mom, Angelina chose to take upfront pain in...

How to Define Mental Health: Human Dignity

There are many ways to define mental health. The answer varies widely depending on who is asking or answering the question. All of us have different world views that shape our understanding of the world around us. Depending on our profession, our religion, our cultural identity, our role in life, and our lived experience, how we define mental health will look different than someone else’s. As a prospective client, it is important to have an idea of how your therapist defines mental health. Your therapist’s working definition will influence your treatment. Human Dignity “Human Dignity” is a concept that the Roman Catholic Church uses to define and describe ethical behavior. Human dignity means each individual has an essential value. This idea forms the foundation of Catholic social teaching. To quote the Catechism (not something I’m in the habit of by the way): God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel,’ so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator … Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts. According to the Church, anything that reduces a person to something less than fully human is a major problem. Slavery, prostitution, inhumane working conditions, sterilization, human trafficking, etc. are all fundamentally evil because they limit the expression of human dignity. I like the idea of human dignity because it mirrors the secular idea of human rights. Human dignity is also...

Richard Armitage Fans and Human Dignity

Richard Armitage captures my attention and sparks my interest like no other celebrity has since my first celeb crush, Jeff Goldblum. I was a teenager then and the internet barely existed, let alone the user-generated content that Web 2.0 is known for! Richard Armitage My first awareness of Richard Armitage the actor occurred after Netflix recommend I watch the BBC remake of Robin Hood. I don’t generally like bad boys, so I was surprised when the character Sir Guy of Gisborne commanded my attention whenever he was on the screen. I realized this actor draws attention through the expressiveness of his face and his use of stillness. I admired his acting ability and disliked the show’s early cancellation. When I went to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I was delighted to discover that this admirable actor had been cast in a major role in a major motion picture! Richard Armitage delivers a stunning interpretation of Thorin Oakenshield, and I look forward to seeing more in the second Hobbit film. Then Netflix recommended I would enjoy North & South, which turns out to be Armitage’s first big break. Watching this BBC miniseries made me acutely aware of Richard Armitage’s physical attractiveness. My celebrity crush took off. And I discovered an entire universe of fan fiction, user-generated video clips, and reams of computer wallpaper options. The type, quantity and quality of fan attention online was amazing, appalling, and fun! In Britain, his fans are called the Armitage Army. Richard Armitage: Human Dignity My profession and my faith both cause me to stop and consider how we treat each other in even the...