1) higher confidentiality standards (no insurance accepted)
2) Email support between sessions
3) Coordinate care with your medical provider, if you wish
4) Quality Assessments done periodically
5) Progress updates every 6th session
6) Handouts to reinforce what you’ve learned
8) Testing for depression and anxiety, with actual test numbers reported
9) Reduced fee/sliding scale counseling available with Intern Therapists
10) You will leave the first session with a “Prescription” of immediate, practical suggestions
Peggy Drexler, PhD
As social media has mutated into a ravenous, many tentacled time-eater, news from our friends about their families’ triumphs and trials has become omnipresent, and unrelenting. It can be a never-ending vacation slide show from hell. As a result, every day there’s a new complaint from those who follow: too much self-promotion in my feed. Too many photos of other people’s posh vacations. Too many selfies! No one wants to see what you had for lunch/what your baby had for lunch/how cute your cats are. And yet the posts keep coming.
“For the love of God, stop posting 9,000 pictures of your baby on Facebook,” pleads an author on Chicago Now. “You know the type I’m talking about. That mom who genuinely thinks her baby is cuter than all the others. Yo, jackass, we all think our own kid is the cutest.”
Indeed, social media and babies are a particularly dangerous combination. A 2010 study by the Internet security firm AVG Technologies found that 92 percent of American children under the age of two have some kind of digital profile, with images of them posted online. But posts chronicling every adorable move of our friends’ babies and kids certainly aren’t the whole of the online offensiveness: Elite Daily lists the 50 most annoying people you encounter on Instagram, including the Internet Model, the Fashionista and the Rich Kid—and I can certainly list a few more—while others offer endless advice on how to politely ask your connections to be less boastful, less prolific and less, well, annoying. Part of the problem is that social media just makes sharing—oversharing—way too easy. A click of the button on a digital camera, a quick download, and the picture or video clip is flying to your Facebook feed. But there are also plenty of studies supporting the addictive nature of social media, and how obsessive posting works directly on the pleasure centers of the brain.
And yet the real problem here is not that we’re an addiction-addled culture of oversharers, though that may indeed be true. Instead, it’s that we’re a culture of complainers. We use complaints as icebreakers or to bond with others: What’s with this weather? What’s with our boss? We use complaints to establish rapport. Studies have suggested that complaining adds years to your life by helping us release tension. But we also complain because it’s in our nature, and we’re more apt to complain than to do something about it. Complaining about the social media habits makes this ever more clear, and has become a favorite topic of conversation: Who’s most annoying in your feed? Because of course, the solution to dealing with the oversharers clogging our feed is painfully obvious: Unfollow them. Stop engaging. Delete.
But can we? Or have the followers become as obsessed and addicted as the oversharers, the ones who do it for the “Likes”? We tend to issue blame on the people who post, but we’re hooked, too. Obsessive posting, after all, is a result of obsessive following—if there were no audience at the ready, there would be no need or reason to post. Consider as an example the end of relationships that take place over social media, from that of your college friends to that of Representative Mark Sanford, who ended his engagement to María Belén Chapur via public Facebook post. We’re not talking about the change in Relationship Status from “Married” to something else, but long, drawn out, intimate details that we’re shocked and horrified to read—and yet read we do. I followed along as two old friends ended their long-term relationship by posting all the last details of each other’s transgressions. I knew that this was not information I wanted to have. And yet I read it. All of it.
This, of course, is what keeps people over posting. It’s not their inherent flaw, or simply their desire to be heard. It’s our willingness to listen. The only way people will stop oversharing, or badly sharing, is to refuse to be their audience. That’s not something we’re willing to do. So instead we complain, and pretend to wonder what it is we can do about all these selfies filling our feeds. But if you really want your friends, colleagues and the strangers who appear in your feed to stop being so obnoxious, inappropriate and self-promotional, you know what to do. It’s as simple as hitting Unfollow.
- Push for quick involvement: comes on very strong, pressures for an exclusive commitment almost immediately
- Jealousy: Excessively possessive: calls constantly, visits unexpectedly; prevents you from going to work because “you might meet someone:” checks your mileage
- Controlling: Interrogates you intensely, especially if you’re late, about whom you talked to and where you were. Keeps all the money; insists you ask permission to go anywhere or do anything.
- Unrealistic expectations: Expects you to be the perfect woman and meet his every need.
- Isolation: Tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses your supporters of “causing trouble;” deprives you of a phone or car.
- Blames others: for his problems and mistakes: The boss, you—it’s always someone else’s’ fault.
- Makes everyone else responsible for his feelings: says, you make me angry” instead of “I AM angry,” or, “you’re hurting me by not doing what I tell you.
- Hypersensitivity: Easily insulted, claiming his feelings are hurt when he is really mad; rants about things that are just part of life.
- Cruel to animals or children: kills or punishes animals brutally; expects children to do things that are beyond their ability, i.e. whips a two year old for wetting a diaper; teases children until they cry. SIXTY FIVE PERCENT OF ABUSERS WHO HIT THEIR PARTNER WILL ALSO HIT CHILDREN.
- “Playful” use of force during sex: enjoys throwing you down, holding you down against your will; says he finds the idea of rape exciting.
- Verbal abuse: constant criticism, says cruel or hurtful things; degrades, curses you, calls you ugly names. This may also involve sleep deprivation, waking you with relentless verbal abuse.
- Rigid gender roles: expects you to serve, obey and remain at home.
- Sudden mood swings: switches from sweetly loving to explosive in a matter of minutes.
- Past battering: admits hitting women in the past, but says they made him do it or the situation was to blame.
- Threats of violence: makes statements like “I’ll break your neck” or “I’ll kill you,” then dismisses it with “everybody talks that way, you’re too sensitive” or “I didn’t mean it.” IF IT HAS COME THIS FAR, GET HELP OR GET OUT.
- From the Project for Victims of Family Violence, Lafayette, ARK
“It just never works to be in contact with my mother,” said my client as she started our session, wiping away tears. “I don’t want to cut her out of my life completely, but I can’t keep going back to be sniped at again and again.”
This client and I had already strategized ways to talk to mother assertively, addressing the hurtful comments, to no avail. Her mother flatly refused to admit fault or change her behavior.
Our next step was to set strong boundaries of self- protection in specific ways. Here’s a list of ways to do just that. If you have a difficult person in YOUR family, ask yourself:
- Do I want to limit phone calls? Yes/no
- If yes, how many per week/month/year? _________per _________________________
- Do I want to limit time of day I answer the phone? Yes/no
- If so, what are my limits? __________________________________________________
- Do I want to limit the amount of time we talk? Yes/no
- If so, what’s the limit? _____________________________________________________
- Do I want to limit time we spend face to face? Yes/no
- If so, what’s that going to look like? __________________________________________
- Do I want to remove myself when they are inebriated or otherwise inappropriate?
- Do I want to acknowledge birthdays and holidays? Yes/no
- If so, how? Card phone call visit with others present visit alone
- Other ways to protect myself: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Let’s discuss your answers in our next session. Together we CAN find ways to protect YOU.
“What is it?”
Although the specific diagnosis is complicated, these symptoms may indicate signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder: craving for carbohydrates, excessive sleeping, lack of energy, weight gain, and all of the symptoms of depression that go along with it: excessive guilt, irritability and others.
“Who’s at risk?”
People who live at higher latitudes have a higher risk, as do people already diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder. Younger people are more at risk than older ones. Regardless of these factors, anyone can suffer with symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. ONLY A LICENSED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL can make this diagnosis!
“What makes it worse?”
Having the short days of winter upon us right after the overspending, overeating, and family time of the holidays can contribute to the exhaustion we feel. Less daytime light to feed our vitamin D needs is also a factor, as is less stimulation of the glands that provide serotonin production. Making New Years’ Resolutions can make you feel ineffective and hopeless if you are depressed; postpone until spring.
“What makes it better?”
Getting outside, even 20 minutes a day, without sunglasses. This exposes you to unfiltered light.
Leaving lights on inside the house, and drapes open to outside light.
Light boxes (available online) specifically designed for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Therapy to offer support and new ways of viewing your world, and to prevent worsening of depression.
Exercise, exercise, exercise: again, 20 minutes a day helps. Exercise can be a ‘magic bullet’ for depression and anxiety relief! If it’s bad weather, walk at a mall or a gym.
“How can a therapist help me?”
A therapist can hold you accountable for putting these helps into place in your life, as well as help you examine how you think when depressed and challenge that faulty thinking. There’s no need to go at life alone, and untreated depression is indeed dangerous. There IS help!