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Kathy Marshack News

Are You in a Codependent Relationship?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Are you in a codependent relationship? Codependency is the act of sacrificing oneself for the sake of another’s addiction. It is an attitude, a style of living. People become codependent when they consistently allow their own needs and rights to become secondary to another’s needs and rights. This type of relationship can be harmful and its effects can be devastating.

You can identify if you are in a codependent relationship by looking for specific symptoms. Here are some symptoms to lookout for:

· Are you tired and depressed all the time?

· Does it seem you can’t do enough to please your partner, father, girlfriend?

· Are you the only one who cares if things get better?

· Are you getting more and more headaches, backaches, stomach aches?

· Are you sacrificing your good reputation to help someone who doesn’t give back?

· Feel unappreciated?

· Are you relying on food, shopping, alcohol or other drugs to give you a lift?

To break this devastating cycle, it is important for the codependent to recognize that you count just as much as the person you are protecting. Why are your rights as a person or your health less important than theirs? Secondly, by breaking the cycle of codependence, you are giving back, to the addict, responsibility for their behavior. The first step toward your recover and theirs, is accepting responsibility for your own behavior and your own live. After all, how can they get better if you do it for them?

Breaking codependency is extremely difficult to do without help and regular support from others. Psychotherapy, or marital therapy are necessary. You may want to call self-help groups, such as Al-Anon or Codependents Anonymous, both listed in your local directory. If you live in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, WA, please contact my office for an appointment.

For more information, visit Marriage Counseling - Breaking the Cycle of Codependency.

Lessons Learned From Catherine-Zeta Jones

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This week actress, wife, and mother, Catherine Zeta-Jones came forward and told the world that she suffers from Bipolar II disorder. Bipolar is also known as manic depression. Someone with bipolar experiences varying degrees of high energy or euphoria know as "mania" combined with episodes of deep low depression and sadness. This range of emotion can be experienced daily, yearly, or even at the same time. Bipolar has been categorized as Bipolar I and Bipolar II. The basic difference between the two is that Bipolar I is a more extreme form.

Some with Bipolar describe their life as a roller coaster ride. Because of the extreme range in moods, it can be a particularly challenging lifestyle making it difficult to ever feel "normal." Genetics, environment, and neurochemicals in the brain are considered to be possible factors for Bipolar. It has been described as a biological disorder, affecting the neurotransmitters in the brain.

I appreciate the courage of Catherine Zeta-Jones to share this very private and personal information. Even though you may have a “diagnosis”, you can still be a strong, successful human being. There is no shame is experiencing a disorder like this...It is not your fault. The other lesson learned from Catherine Zeta-Jones is the importance of seeking professional help. There are so many options now available to treat depression.

If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area and are looking for Bipolar Therapy, please contact my office to set up an appointment. For more information, visit Overcoming Depression.

How to Help Children with Depressed Parents

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

If you are a parent and suffer from depression, it is important to recognize that your child will notice. Children are very sensitive and can pick up on the changes within the home even if they have not been verbally addressed. If they do not understand what is going on, they will often times experience stress, anxiety, or even act out with tantrums or other behavioral problems.

If you are a parent and are suffering from depression, the first thing you need to do for yourself and for your child is to seek immediate help. Do not delay! The longer you wait to get proper help, the bigger the problem will get for you and your child. Depression is treatable.

The second step is to explain the situation to your child. You do not have to go into great details or share your personal experience with them. That would only be damaging to them. Ask a mental health professional for suggestions on how to go about having this discussion with your child. In the course of your conversation with them, explain to them that the way you feel is NOT their fault. Children tend to blame themselves, thinking that maybe they did something to make their parent feel that way. Reassure them that this is not true.

Regularly tell your child how much you love them. Those 3 words are incredibly powerful and will help your child get through this difficult time.

Encourage your child to talk about how they feel. They may struggle talking to you about it because they may feel that you will take it personally. Help them to find a safe person that they can share their feelings with. It could be your spouse, a relative, a school counselor, or doctor. Depending on the situation, they may need professional help to cope. Do not be ashamed to get your child the proper care. You are not a failure if you do so. You are actually do the best thing a parent can do.

If you have depression, you may not feel that you are setting a good example as a parent, but if you take these steps, you are! You are teaching your child to not be afraid of their feelings, to speak out, and to seek help. Be assured that over time, both you and your child will be able to overcome your depression!

For more information, visit Overcoming Depression.

Do Women have Asperger Syndrome?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Yes, women do have Asperger Syndrome (AS). It is true that the bulk of those diagnosed are men, there are many girls and women with AS. Women with Asperger's may lead more complex lives than men with Asperger's. To some extent, males with Asperger’s are more accepted because their behavior is viewed as "extreme male thinking." But women with Asperger Syndrome are viewed as cold, uncaring, and selfish because the cultural expectation is for women to be more aware of the needs of the relationship, something which is extremely difficult for most Aspies.

Men around the world are in relationships with women who have Asperger's. Even though the disorder is the same, there are unique differences between a relationship with an AS woman and an AS man. Just like NT women, NT men need to be able to learn about Asperger Syndrome and be able to talk about their experiences.

In order to fill the need that NT men have, I have created two message boards on the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD webpage specifically for male member. Of course, men do not need to be confined to male only sites, but their experiences are specific and so are their needs. If you are a man in a relationship with a women with ASD or have a family member, please feel free to join our message boards whether it is male only or any others that fit your circumstances.

My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? can be a valuable resource for both men and women in Asperger relationships. Click here to download a free sample chapter.

Parents and Teens - Be Alert to the Dangers of Sexting

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Is your teenager always texting? Then you need to have an important conversation with them. "Sexting" is a term to describe the action of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs through an electronic device. Sexting has become increasingly popular between teenagers. According to A Thin Line 2009 AP-MTV Digital Abuse Study, "3 out of 10 young people have been involved in some type of naked sexting."

You may be asking, what is the danger behind sexting? For one thing, sexting damages lives. The New York Times had a recent cover story, A Girl's Nude Photo, Lives Alter. The article discusses a sexting incident in Lacey, Washington. A young girl sends a naked photo to her boyfriend and before you know it, the photo goes viral. . . possibly thousands viewed the photo. The effects of this incident were damaging indeed. The teens that were involved as well their family and friends are forever impacted. Shame, embarrassment, pain, for a simple action that now can never be erased. I recommend that all parents and teenagers read that article!

The other danger behind texting is legal troubles. In Washington State and Oregon, sexting may result in state felony charges including dissemination of child pornography. The act of sexting is not illegal, but it becomes a legal issue when the photographer, recipient of the text or distributor is under the age of 18. That is when child pornography charges can come into play.

Sexting is not to be taken lightly! Parents, talk to your children about this very real issue. Explain to them the dangers that are involved. If a teen has gotten involved in sexting, they may need counseling to help them deal with the effects. If so, seek the assistance of a mental health care professional.

Visit Am I a Good Parent for 5 key areas to master to be a good parent. These steps will help you deal with many challenges that may arise when you’re a parent.

Shopping for Health Insurance? Make Sure You Have Adequate Mental Health Benefits

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A few years ago I heard a well known Dale Carnegie graduate give a talk on how to attract new business. He used as an example, what attracted him to the family physician who had attended to him, his wife and children for years. The good doctor had given a similar talk at a public event and impressed the man with his expertise, solid reputation, and sincerity. For something as personal and life important as the health care of his family, the man wanted such an individual as this dedicated doctor. And for years his initial decision to choose this physician proved to be a good one.

Yet in spite of the importance of choosing the right health care professional, this Carnegie graduate dropped the doctor like a hot potato when managed care rolled into town. Because his company chose a managed care plan that would not allow the doctor to join the panel, the dedicated patient who had so carefully chosen and developed a meaningful relationship with his health care provider, decided to follow the impersonal dictates of the managed care plan.

Closer to my own area of practice, psychology, is another story that is even more disconcerting. A young teenage girl had been treated for depression by a psychologist. In actuality she was not seriously depressed but rather angry at her boyfriend for being somewhat shallow. The girl’s parents called the managed care company and were referred to the psychologist. After a few short sessions with the psychologist, the girl felt she had more control of the situation and would not allow the boyfriend’s manipulation to continue. Two weeks after terminating psychotherapy, the girl and her father had a fight that erupted into yelling and screaming between the two of them. The father in frustration called his managed care plan (an 800 number in southern California) and told them his daughter was suicidal. Without any psychiatric evaluation and without contacting the daughter’s psychotherapist, the clerk at the other end of the 800 number advised the father to take the girl to a psychiatric hospital. Although the girl was not suicidal and didn’t need hospitalization, she did learn to fear her father and to behave lest she be hospitalized again. Not a healthy outcome.

The mistakes made by the Carnegie graduate and the father of the teenager are not uncommon. There is a mystique about managed care. People have come to believe that the 800 number is like a parent, able to solve all of their woes. They believe that they will get the same personal service they received for years by a doctor who knows them. They are puzzled when the service they do receive is not sufficient to resolve the problem. Often they assume that there is nothing more that can be done, since their managed care company has not authorized additional services. It’s as if the managed care company has assumed the paternalistic mystique that the family doctor once held. But now the mystique has no concern about the individual, only cutting medical costs.

So when you are shopping around for a health plan, I hope you consider just what you are buying when it comes to mental health benefits. Do you have ample psychotherapy benefits; at least 26 to 52 visits per year? Do you have the right to choose the most experienced and competent psychologist? Is there true confidentiality guaranteed? Is the treatment plan dictated by actuarial tables or by the unique needs of the situation and the employee? Is the payment to the therapist worth the time of a competent professional, or are you forced to seek out an untrained, inexperienced person who will charge rock bottom prices? Ultimately you are responsible for your own health so make sure that you’re your own health advocate.

Entrepreneurial Couples – How to Make Love the Top Priority

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Entrepreneurial couples have their work cut out for them to sustain proper balance in their lives. Making time for friendship, romance, and family togetherness is difficult, but imperative. As contrary as it may sound, putting love as the top priority is the key to success for any entrepreneurial couple. With so many responsibilities, it is nearly impossible to be spontaneous or wait for the right moment for love and romance. Successful entrepreneurial couples realize that they have to plan for love.

How can an entrepreneurial couple plan for love? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Schedule regular date nights. I encourage couples to have one date night per week and put it in stone. Use this time to focus on one another, not the business.

2. Take frequent mini-vacations. Sometimes you need more time together than a few hours. By taking a few mini-vacations a year, you can relax and recharge, coming home invigorated and ready to get back to work.

3. Volunteer together. Doing things for others can bring a couple closer together. If you have children, volunteer together to help in the classroom or to go on the school field trips. If you do not have children, look for a local cause that you both are interested in and regularly volunteer.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Make time everyday in the morning or at the end of each day for uninterrupted discussions about everything that is necessary to keep the flow smooth. If one of you has to travel out of town, schedule time to talk every day.

All of these approaches help you remember why on earth you are working so hard anyway . . . to share your successes with the ones you love. So, make love the priority!

For more information on Entrepreneurial Couples, visit Entrepreneurial Life - Couples at Work and Home. My book Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home is also available for purchase with advice specifically about the challenges of working with your spouse.

Mind Blindness and the Disconnect in Asperger Syndrome Relationships

Thursday, March 17, 2011

If you have a loved one with Asperger Syndrome, it is vital that you learn about "mind blindness" or "lack of empathy." This is a key feature of what makes your relationship with the Aspie unique. Mind blindness or lack of empathy is the disconnect between emotional and social cognition. A person with Asperger Syndrome has trouble reading nonverbal clues and therefore ignores the bulk of a conversation. The Aspie knows what they think and feel but are often unaware of what their loved ones think or feel. They become so focused on themselves that it may seem like they don't care or love you, but that is not true. What happens is that they just don't notice.

Mind blindness can have some especially serious side effects on the partner or spouse of someone with Asperger's. Even though their behavior is not intended to hurt you, it still does. Then you may reach out to someone else like a friend, but if they do not understand Asperger's they will most likely not understand what you are going through. Without the right care, low self-esteem, depression, and resentment may settle in deep.

If you find yourself in a relationship that has a lack of empathy, realize you are not alone! Many experience a similar situation. As a psychologist and marriage counselor I recognized that there’s a great need to give guidance to families of adults with Asperger Syndrome. Here are my suggestions for you:

1. Seek out therapy from a professional specializing in Asperger Syndrome. Click here to see my specific therapy recommendations.

2. Join a support group. Click here for tips on how to find one that suits your needs.

3. Educate yourself about Asperger Syndrome. My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? was written specifically for those in a relationship with someone with Asperger's. My upcoming book is entitled, Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind. A free sample chapter is available for download. I have also compiled a list of books that I have found especially helpful - Recommended Books Part 1 and Recommended Books Part 2.

These suggestions will help you to see more clearly your own situation and take the necessary steps to live a happier, more full-filled life.

New Study Includes Interesting Tip for Insomniacs – Get Out of Bed!

Friday, March 11, 2011

In a previous blog, I spoke about the recent trend in sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation, also known as insomnia, is of serious concern due to the long-term effects it can have on a person's physical and emotional health.

A study performed by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine came to an interesting conclusion for those with insomnia. Their conclusion was to spend less time in bed. When someone has insomnia, they begin to associate the disorder with their bed. They lie awake for hours struggling to fall asleep which ends up upping their stress level. The key is if you are not falling asleep, get out of bed and try an activity that will help you relax your body and mind.

Establishing a healthy sleep routine and learning specific relaxation techniques will also be beneficial for those with insomnia. I recommend scheduling an appointment with a mental health care professional. They can help you establish a good routine and teach you the right techniques for your sleep deprivation issues. Most importantly, often times they help you identify the root cause of what’s keeping you awake at night. If you live in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area contact my office for more information.

Scleroderma Foundation's 10 Annual Seminar – Discussing Chronic Pain

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Our mind and our body are in constant communication. What the mind thinks, perceives, and experiences is sent from the brain to the rest of the body. And vice versa – our bodies are sending messages to the brain. When your body experiences chronic pain, that pain will affect your mind and the way you think.

On March 12, 2011, I will be a speaker at the Oregon Chapter of the Scleroderma Foundation's 10th Annual Cheri Woo Education Seminar. I will be discussing "How Chronic Pain Changes Your Thinking...And How Your Thinking Can Change Your Chronic Pain."

This seminar is free and is open to the public. If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area, I encourage you to come. I will be speaking at 12:45 pm. The last 15 minutes will be Question and Answer from the audience. This is a wonderful foundation and I hope that as many as possible will be available to attend. For more information on chronic pain, visit Holistic Health or contact my office.

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