Transgender male: ‘I never associated with being female’

On Sept. 28, 1992, Jill Gliko gave birth to an 8 pound, 3 ounce girl that she and her husband, George, named Monica Michelle.

She was the baby of the family, the last of three girls.

As Monica grew up, she was Daddy’s constant sidekick. The pair regularly traveled to Grandma’s ranch near Great Falls where they fished and camped, forging a storybook father-daughter bond. Monica loved driving the tractor and chasing cows with the four-wheeler.

She was a resolute tomboy, preferring jeans to dresses, G.I. Joe to Barbie. And, she was a talented athlete, excelling at volleyball and softball, and loving the hard knocks of hockey and flag football.

Her sports colleagues nicknamed her “Manica.”

“I was just another one of the little guys,” Gliko said. “I never associated with being female.”

And she didn’t think much of it until she entered seventh grade at Will James Middle School. She felt pressure from family and friends to dress up, primp and act like a young lady. She resisted.

Eventually, she found herself attracted to young women as well as men. It confused her. She felt like a boy trapped in a girl’s body and didn’t know there was a word for it.

Kids at school called her a “fag” and made crude jokes. She began cutting and mutilating herself, hoping someone would notice that she needed help. She became bulimic, melting to 98 pounds. She was diagnosed with manic depression and anxiety and was prescribed Prozac, which is commonly used to treat major depressive disorder, bulimia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder.

At the end of her eighth-grade year, she chopped off 14 inches of her hair and began scouring the Internet for answers. Along the way, she stumbled upon a book, “Luna,” by Julie Anne Peters, a story about a boy who makes the transition to become a girl. It was a pivotal point in Monica’s life. At last she had a name for what she would become: transgender.

Monica made a bold declaration to her friends: “I think I want to be a boy.”

“Cool,” said Jessie Massey, 19, a friend since seventh grade. “What are you going to do about it?”

The first step was telling her parents.

Her mother readily gave her blessing, vowing to do everything she could to help her with gender reassignment. Her sisters were equally supportive.

Dad, a self-described conservative Catholic who describes himself as just shy of being “Archie Bunker,” had long suspected something was amiss. He was taken aback by her declaration, seeking time to process the news about his little girl. Though he ran the gamut of emotions, rage was not in his mix.

“How do you get angry with your child?” George Gliko asked. “I was shocked in that I never thought of it in that light.”

Still, the father-daughter relationship would become so strained they would barely speak to each other. Monica would legally change her name to Dominic “Nick” Liam Gliko, rotate in and out of a local psychiatric ward, attempt suicide on at least two occasions before beginning the process of becoming a man.

“There was a time in there when it was hard for us to talk,” George Gliko said. “I was lucky if I would get a ‘good morning’ out of her.”

Though his daughter’s desire to become a man was stunning, George Gliko said he never felt embarrassed. The only embarrassment came at his own missteps in using the wrong pronoun or mistakenly referring to him as Monica.

Gliko’s transition to becoming a man was a rocky road and began during her sophomore year. She traveled to Wyoming for testosterone injections.

The transition was disorienting and stressful. With the help of her mother, she was admitted to a local psychiatric ward for about two weeks.

“It was really overwhelming,” said Gilko, who now refers to himself as a he. “It was a lot of stress. Unimaginable stress. Transitioning through high school? It was rough.”

In fact, he spent much of his teenage years in and out of the local psychiatric ward. Some of the admissions were voluntary; others were not. In addition to Prozac and other drugs, he was prescribed Abilify, a powerful anti-psychotic drug.

He ballooned to nearly 200 pounds and grew more depressed.

“That really played with my emotional health because it was so hard,” he said. “I wasn’t who I wanted to be and I didn’t like the body I was in.”

He was later diagnosed as bipolar, given a new medication and dropped 50 pounds. He ended up back in the psych ward after a failed relationship with a woman. The woman’s family did not accept him.

By June 2012, Gliko was emotionally exhausted from failed relationships and living with a body that looked neither like a man nor a woman. He didn’t know how to be a man and did not want to be a woman.

He stopped by a Billings pawn shop to buy a gun. He wanted to kill himself. He was not yet 21 so there was no sale. He went home and swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills.

“I want this done,” he said. “I don’t want this anymore. It’s too much stress. It’s too much everything. I just wanted to give up.”

He was again taken to the psych ward.

He made a second suicide attempt in August 2012. He crawled into a bath tub full of water and dropped in a plugged-in toaster. The attempt failed.

“Unless you’ve been through something like that, you don’t know,” he said.

Both attempts were Gliko’s way of getting attention, his father said. They were also the most difficult part of this yearslong journey.

“In both cases we were very lucky,” George Gliko said. “My heart just about dropped out. I’ve been through one suicide in my family.”

George Gliko’s father killed himself in 1997 when he was 60.

“It’s taken me a long time to accept what he did and why he did it,” he said of his father’s suicide. “Dominic’s attempts opened up all of those old wounds again.”

Today, everything is “really good” between he and his dad, Gliko said. “I’m really happy for that because he was the big question mark.”

Today, Gliko is getting more comfortable with how he looks and is re-teaching his brain a new way of thinking. 

“That was really rough,” he said. “I didn’t know who to be. I know how to think and how to act. I know what’s acceptable and what isn’t. I’m not crazy.”

His advice to anyone wrestling with their sexuality is to be open about it and talk about it.

“Closets are for clothes,” Gliko said. “Get out. Be proud. Never, ever be ashamed to be who you are.”

He has started college and is engaged to a man. No wedding date has been set. He sees a therapist and surrounds himself with a strong support system of family and friends.

The strained relationship between Gliko and his father has healed. The two have a standing bowling date every Tuesday. 

Bena Mae’s Kitchen: What are you afraid of?

Johnny Depp is afraid of clowns. Gwyneth Paltrow is afraid of butterflies. And Keanu Reeves is afraid of the dark.
David Beckham, the British soccer star, cannot stand disorder. Every soda can he puts in the fridge must be facing the same way. And there must be a certain number. If there’s one can too many, he takes it out and stores it somewhere else. I think this is called OCD….Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Everybody in the universe has a touch of this, myself included.
Billy Bob Thornton is spooked by antique furniture. He wouldn’t be comfortable in my house. But neither would I be comfortable wearing a necklace on a chain with a pendant of Angelina Jolie’s blood around my neck. Weird.
And would you believe Pamela Anderson is scared of mirrors?
Wikipedia says Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry. I have a touch of it. For example, I can’t watch swarms of insects….bees, ants, wasps, or other creepy-crawlies without getting goose flesh.
Other phobias of mine are the garden variety type and are shared by lots of people…..fear of flying — Aretha Franklin doesn’t like the friendly skies, either — fear of heights, I can’t watch Jimmy Stewart’s movie “Vertigo.”
 I had a friend who had an abnormal fear of dentists. She almost fainted while watching “Marathon Man” in which Dustin Hoffman was being tortured in a dental chair while a madman was pulling Dustin’s teeth without Novocaine.
Enclosed places give me claustrophobia….in church or the movies I sit in the aisle seat in the back row. And I have a pretty tough time taking a shower with the curtain pulled.
The first time I was given an MRI, I didn’t know what to expect. The technicians hadn’t properly prepared me for the experience. So when I found myself entombed in the coffin-like apparatus, I froze in panic. I couldn’t breathe, speak, or move. After they slid my body out, I was hysterical. From then on, they knew to give me a tranquilizer before the procedure.
I’m reminded of a story that took place in Scotland. A mother who was exasperated with her son’s constant hand washing, told him to just “go shoot yourself” in order to get rid of the annoying habit. She was only joking, of course, but he took her seriously. So he took a shotgun and shot himself in the head. However, the shot didn’t kill him. But it did hit the part of the brain that controlled the addiction. And it cured him completely. He never again felt the need to constantly wash his hands. But please be advised. This is not an acceptable cure unless you have perfect aim.

Broccoli Cheese Cornbread

1 1/2 cups of steamed broccoli florets roughly chopped
1 7.5 oz. box of cornbread mix
2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
1 6.5 oz. container of light garlic-herb cheese spread
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp. each garlic powder and dry mustard
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1 stick of melted butter/margarine
1 medium sweet onion finely diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 7×11 inch baking dish, then set aside.  In a mixing bowl, mix together, the steamed broccoli, garlic-herb cheese spread, 4 eggs, melted butter and diced onion until blended. 
Dicing the onion finely allows you to add it to the cornbread mixture without cooking it prior saving a step.
Add 1 cup of cheddar cheese, seasonings and cornbread mix.
Stir until combined. I used white sharp cheddar, but, of course, any sharp cheddar will work.
Pour into the prepared dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Place into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and you see moist crumbs on a toothpick inserted into the center. 
Serve hot. 

How Deep Brain Stimulation Eases OCD

How Deep Brain Stimulation Eases OCD

MRI scans showed it normalized activity in areas

By Amanda Gardner

HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) — Deep brain stimulation has helped people with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, and new research begins to explain why.

A Dutch study appearing in the Feb. 24 online issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience found the procedure essentially restored normal function in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens.

The nucleus accumbens “is part of a greater brain network,” explained study author Dr. Martijn Figee. “This network is involved in motivation and the processing of rewards, and its activity is disturbed in [obsessive-compulsive disorder], probably explaining why [patients] are stuck in pathological behaviors at the cost of healthy ones.”

So, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is essentially the result of faulty wiring in the brain.

It’s not so much a disorder of a specific part of the brain than it is a “disorder of neurocircuitry,” explained Dr. Brian Snyder, director of functional and restorative neurosurgery at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

About 1 percent of U.S. adults suffer from the condition, which involves unwanted, intrusive thoughts or obsessions that then spur compulsive behavior.

While a person without OCD might momentarily worry that he or she has forgotten to lock the door, that thought is quickly balanced by the realization that, yes, the door has indeed been locked.

For a person with OCD, on the other hand, the thought that the door is unlocked will recur and fall into a repetitive pattern of thinking (obsession) and checking to make sure the door is locked (compulsion).

Dr. Wayne Goodman, professor and chair of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City described OCD as a kind of “reverberating circuit.”

Deep brain stimulation (DBS), which is widely used for severe Parkinson’s and experimentally to treat major depression, has limited approval in the United States to treat OCD that hasn’t responded to other treatments.

But experts haven’t been sure why the procedure worked.

This study involved 16 patients with OCD and 13 healthy controls, all of whom had electrodes implanted in the nucleus accumbens area of the brain. They then underwent functional MRI brain scans while performing a task that involved the anticipation of reward (the type of activity that might trigger OCD).

OCD symptoms improved an average of 50 percent while brain activity — not only in the nucleus accumbens but also in a larger brain network — was normalized, said Figee, who is a psychiatrist with the DBS psychiatry department at Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

“This may explain why patients with DBS experience very fast changes in a wide array of motivational and behavioral problems,” he added. “This is clinically important because it indicates that DBS could also help for other disorders that have similar network disturbances, like addiction or eating disorders.”

Anxiety disorders can interfere with day-to-day living

This article is part of a series designed to introduce the program Mental Health First Aid for Adults Who Interact with Youth to the community. The articles focus on the different mental health issues addressed in the program. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a program of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, but the articles are not a substitute for participating in the MHFA course. The articles are informational only and should not be utilized to diagnose yourself or others. Only a qualified professional can diagnose mental illnesses.

— — —

 

Anxiety is a normal feeling that everyone experiences at some point. It can occur in a variety of situations. Anxiety is a natural response that helps us avoid danger and motivates us to solve everyday problems. Anxiety is experienced on the physical, cognitive and emotional levels. It varies in severity and can range from a mild uneasiness to an intense panic attack.

 

Because anxiety is a common experience, it can be difficult for people to recognize when their level of anxiety has become a disorder. People with anxiety disorders have excessive levels of anxiety that significantly interfere with day-to-day living. The anxieties they experience are more severe, longer lasting and occur when the person is not in a state of danger.

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents. There are many different types of anxiety disorders that young people experience. Panic attacks, agoraphobia (the fear of having a panic attack where appropriate assistance may not be available), separation anxiety, specific phobia disorders, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, acute stress disorder and post-traumatic disorder are some of the more common ones.

 

Unfortunately many do not seek professional help for anxiety disorders, even though there are effective treatments. The usual reaction to anxiety is to avoid situations that trigger or provoke anxiety. This pattern of avoidance can lead to complicated and difficult situations. If left untreated, anxiety disorders can become chronic and put the person at risk for depression, substance abuse and even suicide attempts.

 

Anxiety levels can be aggravated by the use of substances like alcohol, caffeine, cannabis, opiates and other drugs (prescription and non-prescription). It is important to understand and monitor the use and effects of the various substances present in one’s lifestyle.

 

Recognizing the signs of an anxiety disorder is important. Treatments can be very effective. Mental Health First Aid for Adults Who Interact with Youth offers more in depth information and effective strategies of intervention. If you would like more information or would like to host a course, please contact myself, Tim Charrette at tcharrette@cmhalambtonkent.ca. The Mental Health First Aid Canada website is www.mentalhealthfirstaid.ca.

Tim Charrette is a Mental Health Promotion Specialist with The Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent Branch.

How electrodes in the brain block obsessive behaviour

Deep brain stimulation helps some people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but no one was quite sure why it is effective. A new study offers an explanation: the stimulation has surprisingly pervasive effects, fixing abnormal signalling between different parts of the brain.

A small number of people with difficult-to-treat OCD have had electrodes permanently implanted deep within their brain. Stimulating these electrodes reduces their symptoms.

To work out why stimulation has this effect, Damiaan Denys and Martijn Figee at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues recorded neural activity in people with electrodes implanted into a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This region is vital for conveying motivational and emotional information to the frontal cortex to guide decisions on what actions to take next. In some people with OCD, feedback loops between the two get jammed, leading them to do the same task repeatedly to reduce anxiety.

Surplus signalling

The researchers took fMRI scans as participants rested. In 13 people with OCD and implanted electrodes, there was continuous and excessive exchange of signals between the nucleus accumbens and the frontal cortex that was not seen in 11 control subjects. When the electrodes were activated, though, the neural activity of both brain regions in the people with OCD became virtually identical to that in the controls.

The researchers also used EEGs to monitor electrical activity in the brain as the 13 people with OCD viewed images linked with their obsessions, such as cleaning toilets. This time, the team observed excessive activity in the frontal cortex – and again, this activity disappeared when the electrodes were activated.

“The most striking thing is that stimulation doesn’t just affect the nucleus accumbens, but the whole network linked up with the cortex,” says Figee.

The study suggests that the electrodes do more than normalise brain activity at the site where they are implanted, as had been assumed. Rather, they appear to repair entire brain circuits that had been faulty. “It resets and normalises these circuits,” says Figee.

Thomas Schlaepfer at the University of Bonn, Germany, points out that such work may allow researchers to use deep brain stimulation to learn about the causes of OCD as they treat it. “It will serve as a research platform informing us about the underlying neurobiology of such disorders,” he says.

Journal reference: Nature Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1038/nn.3344




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Dispute between Royce White, Rockets a potential road map for mentally ill …

Royce White may never make it in the NBA.

The Houston Rockets’ first-round draft pick might drift into anonymity as a role player, someone more familiar on the bench than on the court.

Yet no matter what path his career takes, he’s already built a legacy — as a fierce, outspoken advocate for the mentally ill and their legal rights in the workplace. In his case, that workplace is the highest level of professional basketball in the world.

White has general anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder and he’s finally back on the court after refusing to play for 2 1/2 months until he got special additions, or protocols, put in his contract to help him cope with his condition. The basis for White’s stand was the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal law that requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to employees with a physical or mental impairment.

White’s often contentious and very public dispute with his team culminated in late January with a unique (cut ‘written’) agreement that addresses White’s issues. White joined the Rockets’ developmental league affiliate two weeks ago to resume the career that got him all the attention in the first place.

“It was tough not being able to play,” White said, “but it was necessary.”

Lawyers say White’s campaign raises intriguing questions about how the ADA addresses mental illness in professional sports, and may provide a road map for other athletes to follow. Psychiatrists say White’s openness about his disorder has already helped lift the stigma of mental illness and may embolden other athletes to publicly acknowledge their afflictions.

In itself, an athlete dealing with mental illness is not a recent development.

Outfielder Jimmy Piersall famously coped with bipolar disorder in the 1950s, spending seven weeks in a mental hospital at one point. He returned to baseball, was twice named to the All-Star team and played in the majors until the late 1960s. Pitcher Zack Greinke almost quit baseball because of his social anxiety disorder, but learned to control it and was named the AL Cy Young award winner in 2009. Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall has been named to four Pro Bowls despite an acknowledged borderline personality disorder. Retired NFL running back Ricky Williams won the Heisman Trophy at Texas and played 11 NFL seasons while dealing with social anxiety disorder.

The Rockets knew what they were getting when they selected White out of Iowa State with the 16th overall pick. White freely acknowledged his condition and issues in predraft interviews, including a fear of flying that triggered panic attacks. When he flew — or anticipated flying on the ride to the airport — his heart rate would speed up, he’d feel tingling in his extremities and he’d break into cold sweats.

After he was drafted, he flew to Las Vegas for the team’s summer-league games and to a rookie orientation in New York. As training camp approached, though, White began to have reservations about handling the demands of the NBA schedule. And it wasn’t just the intimidating itinerary of flights required during an NBA season. It was what White thought might happen if he didn’t address it promptly.

“If I’m stressed out, if I have an anxiety disorder that gets out of control,” he said in an interview in October, “how dangerous am I? So tackling it from the front is important. That’s what I kind of did, to take care of my own health first.”

He sat out the first week of training camp after asking for the special protocols, including permission to travel by bus on road trips. He also wanted an independent physician to have the final say about when he could play.

White argued that his mental illness was no different than a physical injury, and the law sees it the same way. But Alex Long, a University of Tennessee law professor who teaches disability law, said making “reasonable accommodations” for someone with a mental disorder is more challenging than providing for someone with a physical disability.

“In theory, the law treats both of those impairments the same way,” Long said. “If I’m in a wheelchair, it’s fairly easy for an employer to make modifications to the workplace. They can put in a ramp, they can widen the aisles or something like that.

“Mental impairments and what the employees are usually asking for, are basically changes to the rules and the normal ways of doing things,” Long said. “Those are the kinds of things that employers are particularly resistant to changing.”

The Rockets let White use a recreational vehicle and referred him to a prominent psychiatrist in Houston. Still, White left the team on Nov. 12 and called the team “inconsistent with their agreement to proactively create a healthy and successful relationship.”

The negotiations began again.

Marty Orlick, a San Francisco-based attorney who’s represented corporate clients in ADA cases, said the Rockets were obligated to provide accommodations, but didn’t have to allow an outside physician to determine White’s playing status. Orlick said White’s case could have “really significant” legal ramifications, even though it never ended up in a courtroom.

The Real Cost of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The devastating effects of the widely misunderstood mental illness, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are being exposed this week by charity, OCD Action.

The World Health Organisation classifies OCD as one of the top ten most debilitating illnesses, yet it is often considered a mild, quirky or even amusing affliction.

OCD sufferers worry that people will think they are mad and so do not always seek help. This has led to a lack of public awareness.

Washing hands frequently is a common compulsive behaviour of OCD. (Gang Liu/photos.com)

“In order to be diagnosed with OCD means that the impact is very great,” says Joel Rose, Director of OCD Action. “You’re spending 5/6/7 hours a day on those compulsions.” 

OCD has two parts: Obsessional thoughts and the compulsion to dampen those thoughts.

The compulsion becomes a ritual like hand washing or checking the front door. It can also be a mental routine used to stifle a feeling of anxiety or stop a particular thought. 

“People get into a vicious circle, the amount of time they need to spend on the compulsion and the elaborateness of those compulsions has grown,” Joel says.

“It’s not like a psychosis where someone doesn’t know their behaviour is illogical. Someone with OCD knows that standing in front of a door for 5 hours doesn’t make sense but they’re compelled to do it.”

OCD sufferers are often intelligent, creative, caring people and try to protect themselves and their loved ones from presumed harm.

Rose explains that sometimes there is no logical connection between the obsessive thoughts and the compulsive behaviour but only an association such as counting to 30 or their parents will die of a horrible accident.

Barbara Lloyd, 49, from Wirral, who has suffered from OCD since childhood, says that the disorder is not the same as a person who can’t go near a knife because they’ll pick it up and stab someone. “Mine is a fear [about] things I do innocently
—if I was to cook I would harm someone with the food or that I would harm me because of not locking the house properly,” she says.

Barbara’s OCD is an all-encompassing version. Compelled to spend up to 7 or 8 hours checking, washing and cleaning, she then has a half an hour ritual checking switches and locks before she can leave the house, “I pull on the back door handle to the point where I think I’m going to pull the handle off.”

“);

Lena Dunham battled obsessive-compulsive disorder

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(Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)

“Girls” creator and star Lena Dunham has opened up about her battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety.

The actress, who was diagnosed with OCD as a young girl, reveals she came up with strange rituals after becoming obsessed with the number eight.

She tells Rolling Stone magazine, “I’d count eight times. … I’d look on both sides of me eight times, I’d make sure nobody was following me down the street, I touched different parts of my bed before I went to sleep, I’d imagine a murder, and I’d imagine that murder eight times.”

Dunham now takes anti-anxiety medications to help with her condition, but she admits the anti-depressants she took as a teen often had unpleasant side effects.

She says, “(I felt) drugged like a big horse. I was so exhausted all the time, night sweats. I was pretty fat in high school if I look at it, because it just slows down your metabolism. My mom would always be like, ‘I think you’re having a lot of side effects.’ And I’d be like, ‘You’re such a [bleep]; you just want me to be skinny!’”

Free mental illness education class starts March 16 in Aurora – Hudson Hub

Close to someone with a mental illness? Attend a free program that has helped many Ohioans. The Portage County Family-to-Family Education Program will run Saturdays starting March 16, 2013 for 12 weeks. The course will be held from 9:30 a.m. to noon at The Church in Aurora, 146 S. Chillicothe Road, Aurora 44202. The program is sponsored by the Mental Health Recovery Board of Portage County and NAMI Portage County. The course is open to anyone who has a family member or a friend with a brain disease, including schizophrenia, manic depression, clinical depression, an anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. It is taught by local residents who have a family member dealing with mental illness. Register by March 14. Call 330-673-1756, ext 201. You can also register by emailing laurab@mental-health-recovery.org.

Does anxiety have an effect on your children?

Practical Parenting


The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that anxiety is a normal part of childhood, and children can experience different degrees of worry as they learn and mature. A phase is temporary and usually harmless. Some children can suffer from anxiety disorders, avoiding places and activities due to their fear, nervousness, and shyness. Essentially, this degree of fearfulness consumes their thoughts on a day-to-day basis. 

Most anxieties are a normal reaction to stress and can actually be beneficial. For some children, however, anxiety can become excessive, and while the child suffering may realize it is excessive they may also have difficulty controlling it. There are a wide variety of anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and specific phobias to name a few. Collectively they are among the most common mental disorders experienced by Americans. Surprisingly, anxiety disorders affect one in eight children.

At www.childparenting.about.com there are some tips and guidelines for helping your child when anxiety becomes overwhelming. 

Don’t dismiss the feelings. Telling your child not to worry about her fears may only make her feel like she’s doing something wrong by feeling anxious. Let her know it’s okay to feel bad about something, and encourage her to share her feelings.

Listen. You know how enormously comforting it can be just to have someone listen when something’s bothering you. Do the same thing for your child. If he doesn’t feel like talking, let him know you are there for him. 

Offer comfort and distraction. Try to do something she enjoys, like playing a favorite game or cuddling in your lap and having you read to her. Any child of any age will appreciate a good dose of parent “TLC”.

Get outside. Exercise can boost moods, so get moving! Even if it’s just for a walk around the block, fresh air and physical activity may be just what he needs to lift his spirits and give him a new perspective on things.

Stick to routines. Children like routines because it gives them a sense of security. Try sticking to regular bedtime and mealtimes.

Keep your child healthy.  Is your child eating right and getting enough sleep? Not getting enough rest or eating nutritious meals at regular intervals can contribute to your child’s stress. If he feels good, he’ll be better equipped to work through whatever is bothering him.

Avoid overscheduling. Soccer, karate, baseball, music lessons, play dates – the list of extracurricular activities can be endless! Too many activities can easily lead to stress and anxiety in children. Just as we need some downtime after work and on weekends, children also need some quiet time alone to decompress.

Limit your child’s exposure to upsetting news/stories. If your child sees or hears upsetting images or accounts of natural disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis or sees disturbing accounts of violence or terrorism on the news, talk to your child about what’s going on. Talk about the aide that people who are victims of disasters or violence receive from humanitarian groups, and discuss ways that she may help, such as working with her school to raise money for the victims.

Set a calm example. You can set the tone for how stress and anxiety is handled in your house. It’s virtually impossible to block out stress from our lives in today’s high-tech, 24-hour-news-cycle world, but you can do something about how you handle your own stress. By keeping things calm and peaceful at home, the less likely it is that anxiety in children will be a problem in your household.

If you believe your child’s anxiety is not just a phase and is not improving, please seek advice from your pediatrician or help from a counselor that specializes in childhood anxiety. The ADAA’s findings show that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. However, managing negative emotions is a part of life and a learning process. The ADAA offers encouraging words for those families with an anxiety-ridden child. “Children need to learn to manage negative emotions, and to do that, they need to experience them from time-to-time at manageable levels. The anxiety-free child is a fantasy. Anxiety is an important warning signal for potential danger, and mastering both the anxiety and the thing or event that provoked it is a powerful learning experience.”

Barbara A. Burrows is owner of The Goddard School in Edwardsville, located at 801 South Arbor Vitae, an Edwardsville Rotarian and a wish granter/ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  Burrows and her staff provide The Goddard School experience to more than 250 area families with children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old enrolled in childcare, preschool and before- and after-school programs.  Burrows’ writes this column exclusively for the Edwardsville Intelligencer offering advice on parenting, child development and family enrichment.

 

Lena Dunham and 9 More Stars with OCD

New mother Charlize Theron may have a tougher time than other new moms adjusting to her first child. That’s because she’s admitted to suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD.

“I have OCD, which is not fun,” she told Australian radio show Kyle and Jackie O. “I have to be incredibly tidy and organized or it messes with my mind and switches off on me.”

Babies, especially once they reach toddler-hood, aren’t exactly known for their neatness. The Oscar-winning actress announced that she is the “proud mom of a healthy baby boy named Jackson” in March 2012. This is the first child for the 36-year-old actress who has been single since her split from actor Stuart Townsend in 2010.

For parents with OCD, having children can actually make symptoms worse. “OCD symptoms tend to latch on to things that are most important to us, so parents with OCD may have doubts about their abilities or intrusive thoughts about their child’s safety or hurting their child,” Stephen Whiteside, a psychologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who specializes in anxiety disorders including OCD, told ABCNews.com.

OCD is an anxiety disorder that at its basic level is a fear of one’s thoughts, whether it’s a fear of messiness, germs or something else. To relieve the anxiety associated with such intrusive thoughts, an obsessive-compulsive will feel compelled to behave in a certain way, such as cleaning out their cabinets before going to sleep or checking and rechecking their child.

Whiteside has heard anecdotes of OCD patients actually improving once they became parents. “It’s certainly possible that when you have something that is of greater concern to you — you’re not just taking care of yourself but a baby — those emotions can overwhelm the OCD and motivate you to do the things to get better. The best treatment is exposure or facing your fears,” Whiteside said.

That’s what happened to Julianne Moore, who scrapped her daily routine of leaving her apartment at exactly the same time and pacing her walk so that she only got green lights, after having children Caleb and Liv. “Having two young children means you drop all that sort of rubbish!” Moore told UK’s Guardian.

Moore admitted she’s still “fanatical about straightening furniture and lining stuff up, but I’m much more laid back than I used to be!”

Theron also struggles when things are out of order. “I have a problem with cabinets being messy and people just shoving things in and closing the door. I will lie in bed and not be able to sleep because I’ll say to myself: ‘I think I saw something in that cabinet that just shouldn’t be there,'” she was quoted saying in London’s Daily Mail.

Comparing herself to the character she played in “Young Adult,” she told the Australian radio show, “I am not dirty at all, I’m actually the opposite.”

Whiteside’s advice to her and other new parents with OCD: “Try to put things in perspective, reminding yourself that you’re going to do a much better job as a parent if you leave things messy and spend time with your child than being perfect.”

He said, “It might be uncomfortable at first, but the feeling gradually goes away, and it should get easier.”

Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners

Michele, who spends 60 hours a week cleaning at home (using bleach on her
floors five times a day and even washing tins when they come new from the
supermarket), helped someone else called Richard to clean his bedsit,
untouched by him for four years during a spell of depression.

“I still couldn’t have a tea or coffee here,” she said after relentless
scrubbing. “I must have an illness. But what can you do?”

What you can do is see a doctor, if you can get an appointment. What you can
do if someone in your family has OCD is not just to stand there and buy them
extra bleach, for use in their unending rituals under the lash of crushing
fear. What you can do is to find out the effects of OCD on people, and not
to indulge in a television fantasy that puts them on a level with dancing
dogs.

This degree of unreality has crept up on us. In 1999, the documentary A Life
of Grime, narrated by John Peel, focused on Edmund Trebus, an obsessive
hoarder. There was some depth, some nuance. The old man had seen things in
Poland under the Nazis; he had become isolated from his family. By last
year, Britain’s Biggest Hoarders was sending a weekly conveyor belt of
specimens past the television camera. They have been joined by embarrassing
bodies, undateables, Touretters, pseudo-Touretters, Britain’s fattest
teenagers, and all the fun of Bartholomew Fair.

Mindless rubbish has its place in the schedules, but I can’t lighten up or
chillax in the face of this gruesome farrago. Voluntarily watching Obsessive
Compulsive Cleaners is a hate crime if there ever was one, and I wish doing
so attracted stern penalties.

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