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Managing Technology Overload: Studio 5

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Have you ever looked around in a public place to see how many people were using their phones (texting, surfing the web, etc.)? It’s usually a lot, and truthfully it can be a little discouraging to witness individuals staring at their screens instead of talking to one another. Please don’t misunderstand, I am a huge advocate of technology; it’s profoundly changed my life and career for the better! Still, we all know that things can get out of hand if we let them. Digital overload affects our ability to process information cognitively, to be mindful of our own experience, and to be present with other people. Here are some ways to help you manage your technology use (instead of letting it control you):

Master Your Device Settings

One of the first ways to get a grip is to utilize your settings. We often think of parental controls as a way to filter out inappropriate content for our kids, but many devices have settings to help us limit the time we’re able to spend on them as well. For example, a specific feature may be set that means the computer cannot be used after 11 pm. Do some research, and take advantage of these types of settings to help you create boundaries.

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Ask a Therapist: I Feel Like a Failure As A Mom And Fiancee


I am a stay at home mom and lately I have been feeling like a failure. I feel like I can’t do anything right and that everything I do goes unnoticed. I have a wonderful fiance, who works hard to take care of our family and who loves me very much, but the problem lies with me. I can’t express my feelings to him. I have so much guilt inside of me. I feel guilty when I need money and my fiance gives it to me, I feel guilty if he comes home and the house isn’t spotless, even when the baby was a handful, I feel guilty if I take time for myself or if we go out without the baby. I feel guilty when the little one cries or throws tantrums when my fiance is at home, because I am supposed to be a good mother and a good housekeeper and a good fiancee, but I don’t feel like I am. I am a failure at everything and I am just so sick of crying everyday. How do I get past this? Please, please help me.

A: Thanks for your email. You sure put a lot of pressure on yourself! Who says you have to be a perfect fiancée, house keeper, or good at finances? It sounds like you want to be more than just good at those things, it sounds like you want to be perfect. I wonder if there’s something deeper going on, or how you learned to be so hard on yourself. Watch the video for the rest of this answer.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: I Really Want To Trust My Boyfriend


My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost four years. We have a really great relationship. However, over the last few months, I’ve been suffering from anxiety. I feel like something is wrong with our relationship and I am having a really hard time trusting my boyfriend. My boyfriend dated his ex for two years before we dated. She cheated on him and I don’t think he ever got over it. I had never dated anyone before him. He has never cheated  on me and up to this point we have been looking for engagement rings. it all started with an article I read online about men cheating. I was feeling insecure and I looked at my boyfriends phone. he still had his ex-girlfriends contact info. I asked him to delete it and anything else relating to her, but a few weeks later, I saw that he still had some old pictures and emails from her on his computer. I feel like he’s keeping all these things for a reason. I just can’t get over it. I feel heart broken. He says he forgot he had all this stuff. How do I trust him? Is it me?

 

A: Thanks for your email. This may be more of your own personal issue than an issue of trust with your boyfriend. Do you have a history of rejection or abandonment in your past? From what you’ve shared, you have a solid relationship. Watch the video for my complete response.

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: How Do I Help My Suicidal Best Friend?


A few months ago me and my best friends ex boyfriend (who still cares a lot about her) went to our school guidance councilors and told them how my best friend was suicidal. they told her parents and she had to get an evaluation from a therapist. they cleared her and she was allowed back in school. however now school isn’t in session and she’s suicidal again. I know this because she told me that I’m the only thing keeping her alive. a few years ago she was raped by a close friend and then a few days after the rape walked in on him killing himself. she never dealt with this traumatic event and I think it’s one of the reasons she’s suicidal now. we talked a little about it and she told me she feels like she messes everything up and all she does is make things worse. I tried to show her how that’s not true and how a lot of people care about her but she doesn’t believe me. I don’t want to go to her parents again because I dont think they’d believe me a second time. I want her to get help and talk to someone but I don’t know how to do it. please help me.

A: Thank you for your email. I can feel your concern for your friend through this letter. Even though you might be putting your friendship at risk, I suggest you go talk to her parents. They need to know about the rape and that she walked in on the person who raped her committing suicide. Those are horrific traumas for a teenager to witness and she is in serious danger.  Please watch the video response for more tools to handle this painful situation.

Take good care of yourself
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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How To Program Your Husband

Several years ago a good friend sent me the following email and I laughed until tears were rolling down my cheeks. I’ve never deleted it and still pull it up on occasion if I have a particularly rough day or just need a good chuckle. I wish I knew who to credit for this little stroke of creative genius that’s been floating around Cyberland. Sometimes just looking at your relationship from a different perspective – in this case, a humorous one – can make all the difference. Oh, if only marital bliss were as easy as buying the correct operating system and installing it without a glitch! The truth is human beings are much more complicated than computer programs and creating a loving marriage requires more than knowing the right buttons to push. Keeping a positive attitude through life’s ups and downs and sharing a good laugh now and then will help see you through. Enjoy!

Dear Tech Support ,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a
distinct slow down in overall system performance, particularly in the
flower and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under
Boyfriend 5.0. In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs,
such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5 and then installed
undesirable programs such as NBA 5.0, NFL 3.0 and Golf Clubs 4.1.
Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashes
the system. I’ve tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but
to no avail. What can I do?

Signed,
Desperate.

DEAR DESPERATE,

First keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while
Husband 1.0 is an operating system. Please enter command: ithoughtyoulovedme.html and try to download Tears 6.2 and don’t forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update. If that
application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5. But remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1. Please note that Beer 6.1 is a very bad program that will download the
Snoring Loudly Beta. Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system
resources.) Also, do not attempt to reinstall Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are
unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0. In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend Cooking 3.0 and Hot Lingerie 7.7.

Good Luck,
Tech Support

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6 Tips For Making Time For Your Relationship When There Is No Time

This is the time of the year to say goodbye to summer and hello to increasing responsibilities and the longer ‘to-do’ lists.  Here are some tips on keeping the love alive while the pile up continues to grow.                                                                                                                         
Hourglass

  1. Use Technology to Your Advantage – we have technology buzzing all around us.  Why not use it to your advantage?  Sending a quick text, an email, a chat or a phone call can take just a few seconds but can send an important message – I am thinking about you and I love you.  If you can’t seem to remember to do this try putting an alarm on your phone for random times during the day to remind you until it becomes a habit.
  2. Prioritize and Plan Ahead – When the ‘to-do’ list gets longer we often get lost in the have to, want to, and should do’s, but the clarity of which tasks are the highest priorities seem to get a little cloudy.  It is important to prioritize what is important… your relationship.  Plan ahead for a date night during the month or week and stick to it.  Get the babysitter well in advance and don’t change it.  Even if something comes up it sends a powerful message to yourself, your partner and others when you say no because your relationship with your significant other is more important.  When things are planned ahead of time they usually come to fruition rather than just saying, “when we have time” because you likely will not have extra time.
  3. Keep Rituals – we should all have a few rituals in our relationship, a kiss before leaving, a couple of minutes after work talking, a glass of warm milk at night together, pillow talk before bed… whatever your rituals are, keep them going.  Most of the rituals couples develop are not time consuming, but if you do not remember to do them they quickly get lost in the noise of busyness.  Rituals tell your partner you are there, and there is stability in the relationship, something to count on.
  4. Do not let emotions slide – One of the first things I see slide when we are busy, is emotional connection.  You don’t have time to sit down, let alone talk about your feelings, right?  Wrong… this is the time you need emotional connection the most.  When life is busy and chaotic it is essential to feel close to your partner.  It gives you a sense of support and confidence that is unique and allows you to focus on whatever you have to do.  When we feel emotionally connected we do not need to spend time and energy worrying about the woes of the relationship.
  5. Accomplish tasks together when possible (be creative) Whenever you can check off a task from the list together and make it time for the two of you it can increase closeness.  So, if you have to run errands do it together, make dinner and talk about your day at the same time, even working side by side on your computers can be fun and relationship enhancing if you make it that way.
  6. Be Flexible – We are often told to divide and conquer but sometimes just being flexible is better for the relationship.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Jamiesrabbits

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Ask A Therapist: Sister Needs Therapy But Can’t Afford It


Q: Are there any resources for my sister-in-law who’s suffering from anxiety, mood disorders, depression and wants therapy but can’t afford it? (concerned sister in St. Louis, MO)

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Ask A Therapist: Depressed, Anxious, and Socially Awkward


Q: I don’t remember a time in my life where I’ve been totally happy but for the past approximately 2 years i have been extremely depressed as a result of my social anxiety and loneliness. I have always found social situations ‘awkward’, in fact the last time I remember frequently leaving my house for social reasons was when I was about 13. I then became more and more of a recluse from there on, i went out with my friends less and less outside of school, then upon leaving school i stopped doing things with my friends more and more until the point where i have not left my house for social reasons for about 2/3 years. I no longer have any friends and although my family is nice and supportive they cannot provide me with what I need. I have not spoken to anyone in person about my problems, I simply can’t. My parents will just tell me to go to a doctor. Doctors will just prescribe me with a drug that I don’t want. I don’t feel a psychiatrist can help me. I’ve become extremely lonely and depressed. My self esteem is extremely low and although I’m not a bad looking person I simply cannot accept my imperfections, no matter how hard I’ve tried. I feel I am in so deep that I cannot make a recovery. I cannot throw myself into social activities to make friends because of my social anxiety. I no longer find anything enjoyable and nothing at all interests me, this leaves me with the motivation to try nothing. I feel like I’m in a corner with no way out, every possible path I need to take to fix myself, I cant bring myself to walk down whether its my self esteem, depression or social anxiety stopping me. I hate it and I hate the person I am, I’m so sad it hurts. I feel so lost and lonely I cry randomly, its pathetic. There is no reason why I should feel like this, I’ve had a very normal life without any trauma, this only makes me feel guilty for the way I am. Guilt I don’t deserve to feel when there’s so many more out there in far worse situations.

I just want to live my life and be happy, but I truly believe I will never get there. Sometimes I feel like giving my life and donating what i have to give someone else a shot at life. Someone who can appreciate life.

I have read a lot of advice online about people in similar situations to myself but what are my options when the things I need to do to fix myself, I simply cannot bring myself to do?

A: Thanks so much for writing in and reaching out for help. I have seen many clients in my therapy office who express similar feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, focus on their own imperfections, and have extreme guilt for feeling so sad and lonely because they’ve had a “pretty normal life.” It sounds to me like you are suffering from severe depression and anxiety that are keeping you in a downward spiral, unable to reach out for help. The good news is you have reached out on this forum, so I am very hopeful that you can reach out in other areas.

I urge you to talk to your parents and ask them for help. You said you haven’t talked to your parents because they will tell you to go to a doctor. If they love and care about you they will tell you to go to a doctor or a therapist because that’s the right thing to do when a family member is ill. I suggest that you keep an open mind about medication. While it doesn’t need to be the first course of treatment, it can definitely be a helpful tool in treatment. Ask your doctor for a psychotherapist referral as individual psychotherapy can be very effective. Often, a combination of medication and psychotherapy can be effective in treating depression and anxiety.

In order to experience some change in your life and find happiness you will need to take some action, even if you don’t want to, and even if it’s a small one – like talking to your parents about how hopeless you feel. You can do it. It sounds to me like what you’re experiencing isn’t really “you” but is mental illness clouding your thoughts and feelings. You can have more satisfaction and joy in living than what you’re experiencing.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: My Ex Has Dissociative Identity Disorder. Is There Hope For Us?


Q: How can I explain to an ex-boyfriend who left state and returned that he needs help for is DID? My current psychologist couldn’t answer this question, but flipped it off as insignificant.  I fell in love in Jan. 2010 with a foreign worker who was here to repair damage in the condo after carpet removal and air scrubbing.  I texted him I was i terested and we had a first date.  He ran out unexpectedly, with no excuse and did not return.  ‘Gone then for 3 months to his “country”, back once, ran out with no reason, gone another month, “for a funeral”; back, ran away, then back after another 3 months saying he was emotionally sick and went back to his home country, and was sorry he didn’t call.  During all this strange interims, I hired a detective, then, found out in July he ran to another state, after saying he had gotten a new apt., broke his leg, came back, called me after I left a message at his work, then went back to the other state, back in two weeks to give no reason for his leavings, except that, “a man leaves because a man leaves.”  My question is:  since I noticed he had DID, and he agreed, and had tried to get help, can I assume the relationship is doomed or is there hope if he gets help, that he could ever be stable, or so men with this affliction just drift through life never really finding happiness?  Thank you for reading.  I would not give him a second thought, except that I did have real feelings for him, not just because of his illness.

A: What a tough situation. I think the best approach is to express your concern about his illness and strongly encourage him to get into a psychiatric evaluation to see if he indeed does suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder. If your ex doesn’t want to get help, there is nothing you can do. If he does seek help there may be some improvement in his behavior and his stability through individual psychotherapy. I suggest you ask yourself “Why am I attracted to someone who is so unavailable and unstable?” There may be some deeper issues for you to explore in your own therapy. Thanks so much for writing in.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: Who Can I Tell About My Depression and Cutting?


Q: I’m pretty sure I have depression, I mean I have most of the symptoms. But I have nobody to talk to me and my mum aren’t close. I cant see a doctor without my mum finding out. So I think I should go to one of my teachers but I don’t know how to start the conversation and what to say. I think I really need help because I’ve been self harming for over 2-3 months now. Please help. (13 year old girl)

A: Thank you so much for writing in for help. You are wise to recognize that you need to talk with someone about your pain and reach out for help.  If you have a trusted teacher at school, or a school counselor, they may able to help you find a way to talk to your mom about your struggle with depression and self-harm.

If it seems a little easier to talk to your mother about physical health concerns you may want to try asking your mom to take you to your physician by saying something like, “I haven’t been feeling well for a while. Will you take me to the doctor?” Your doctor will be able to do a depression screening, rule out any physical illness, and give you some recommendations for therapists in your area.

I would recommend individual therapy to address your depression and self-harm, and family therapy to help you and your mom communicate better.

If you can’t talk to your mom, please talk to someone soon. Depression is treatable. You don’t have to continue to suffer.

Please, take good care of yourself.

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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