Addicted to Grief?

When time doesn’t heal, the brain’s reward system may be playing a role

When Anne Schomaker lost her husband in 2002, she did everything you’re supposed to do to heal from grief. She went to therapy, she volunteered, she traveled, she took up new hobbies, and she dated. To the outside world, she looked like she was moving on. To the outside world, it looked like she was healing the “right” way. But inside, she was frozen in mourning, unable to move forward emotionally. Nine years after the death of her husband, nightmares still haunted her in her sleep and she avoided reminders that would push her further into despair, such as the arias from the operas they had enjoyed. “I wasn’t really doing well. I had terrible pangs of sadness and despondency. I was missing my husband so badly. The pain just didn’t go away.”

Complicated bereavement is a disruption of the normal grieving process after a loss. While the loss of a loved one can be expected to be deeply painful and elicit emotional distress long after the loss has occurred, the symptoms of grief usually dissipate over time. Sometimes, however, healing does not occur. Instead, you become locked in a state of ongoing mourning; the emotional wound of your loss remains wide open and you are unable to move on. You may be preoccupied with constant thoughts of your loved one, experience intense longing, and be overwhelmed with feelings of sorrow, numbness, or anger. You may feel intense loneliness, even when you are surrounded by others, and may go out of your way to avoid reminders of the person you have lost. Or you may do the opposite—you may surround yourself with objects that make you feel close to your loved one, continuously return to the places that elicit memories of your time together, and live as if you are constantly waiting for their return. You are especially likely to experience complicated bereavement if you lost a loved one suddenly and unexpectedly, without the opportunity to emotionally prepare yourself for their death.

Many people with complicated bereavement are encouraged by well-meaning friends and family to move on, and you may feel that your emotional state is nothing more than a personal shortcoming. You’re told that you’re not grieving the right way. However, research indicates that complicated grief is actually a complex psychological illness with a neurological basis. A study by Mary-Frances O’Connor, published in NeuroImage, examined the effect of grief on brain function via functional magnetic resonance imaging. When people with complicated bereavement were shown pictures of their loved ones, “the nucleus accumbens – the part of the brain associated with rewards or longing – lighted up.” Those who experienced “normal patterns of grieving” exhibited markedly less nucleus accumbens activity.

This area of the brain is also associated with the longing for alcohol and drugs, suggesting that memories of loved ones may actually have an addictive effect on those with complicated bereavement, providing a new understanding of why you are unable to move beyond acute grief. As Dr. O’Connor says, “It’s as if the brain were saying, ‘Yes I’m anticipating seeing this person’ and yet ‘I am not getting to see this person.’ The mismatch is very painful.” Recognizing the neurological underpinnings of complicated bereavement may help researchers and clinicians develop more effective treatment protocols. More importantly, it may help you better understand your experience and reduce the feelings of self-blame and shame you may feel.

Unfortunately, the addictive qualities of your memories may also lead you to develop other addictions. In your attempt to cope with the overwhelming pain of your loss, you may have turned to drugs or alcohol or even food, compounding your emotional distress and presenting new dangers to your well-being. While using substances to escape psychological suffering is common among people experiencing grief, people with complicated bereavement are particularly vulnerable to developing substance addiction issues as they seek to soothe themselves from severe and ongoing mourning. However, any relief you find is only temporary and once the effects of the alcohol or drugs wear off, you’re back where you started or even worse off, as the effects of the substances themselves exacerbate your distress. The resulting cycle of grief and addiction can have serious implications for your ability to function, your physical health, and your fragile psychological state.

If you are suffering from complicated bereavement and a co-occurring substance addiction, healing is within reach. However, effective treatment requires specialized care designed around your unique needs to address the full scope of your emotional and behavioral health issues. In practice, this means that both your grief and addiction must be treated simultaneously to ensure that you process your state of bereavement while attending to the physical and psychological effects of your substance use.

Through comprehensive clinical care, you can develop the skills you need to move forward with your grieving process, cope with your pain in healthy, productive ways, and regain your sense of joy and possibility. Meanwhile, you will learn how to gain control over your addictive drive toward harmful substances as well as safely exploring the complex relationship between your use and your grief to give you a complete picture of your psychological state within an environment of hope and support.

The goal of treatment is never to minimize the loss of your loved one, but to discover ways of expressing, understanding, and coping with that loss in ways that are nourishing, revitalizing, and restorative. With the right therapies delivered with compassion and respect, you can begin the process of meaningful recovery to reawaken your spirit and enhance your quality of life.

 

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12 Things Guys Shouldn’t Text to the Woman They Love

Texting Through Romantic Relationships

It’s true, we are obsessed with our phones. It used to be we talked on phones, but now they are instruments of impersonal communication via texting. It’s sad that relationships hang on this type of interaction. Today I present some advice to you guys about what not to text to the woman you love. In general, women tend to be more sensitive about the following issues; and in general, men tend not to be concerned with some of them. These are not blanket statements because of course there are plenty of exceptions.

The best relationships come from direct, face to face, voice to voice communication. It’s called talking, being together. You can’t hold hands through your device. If you and your honey are texters, whether dating, courting, or married, don’t step on these texting minefields.

1. Birthday and Anniversary Greetings

If your gal (or anyone else for that matter) is having a birthday, sending her a text with a simple Happy Birthday is so impersonal you might as well be sending it to your accountant or mailman. Even worse is Happy Anniversary. She is going to have hurt feelings and probably give you a piece of her mind. Is it too much to ask to take time out of your busy life to buy a card? Or to express yourself in a way that reaches her preferred love language? There are some very romantic men out there who are good at such things, and plenty who are clueless or clumsy with it. Regardless, texting those sentiments are tacky.

2. Declaring Your First “I Love You”

Saying ‘I love you’ for the first time is a huge deal. Sending it in a text is just wrong, lazy, hollow, and inconsiderate. She wants to see the light of tenderness in your eyes and you should want to look into hers. If you think that’s unnecessary, your love is questionable. True love does not hide behind a screen.

3. Marriage Proposals

“Will you marry me?” If you know what’s good for you, and more importantly, what’s good for your girlfriend, and your relationship, don’t pop this question in a text. You are sure to get a “no” and an ear full of rebukes. Besides, why would you not prefer to look into her eyes, and slip that ring on her finger in person? You may think, Well I can do that the next time I see her. But it is not likely you’ll see her again if you pull that little stunt. Texting is impersonal. If you can’t propose in person, you are not ready for marriage.

4. Arguments

Your girlfriend may want to argue with you as much as you do her in text form, but it’s a minefield fraught with danger. Why?

First, because when you are not together face to face you can’t hear the tone of voice, see the facial expression, or see their body language; thus it is easy for you both to misunderstand each other.

Secondly, it’s easier to say unkind things that you wouldn’t say in person. Your inhibitions are freer; Hiding behind your phone screen and issuing harsh words is cowardly.

Thirdly, text arguing involves a lot of time. You may take short cuts in the exchange because you tire out and won’t be thorough in your thoughts.

5. Breaking Up

Texting a break up is the best example of cowardice I can think of. When you want to break up your relationship (this applies to her too), it’s tempting to be calloused and not care how it affects her if there has been bitter discord between you. But this is about being a mature adult. Doing the hard things in life shows strength and character. Lowering the boom on someone with no personal interaction is going to make it easier for you but harder for her. If the relationship has been full of toxicity on one or both sides and will trigger a lot of hurtful drama, a text may be the answer after all but write it at a time when you are calm and can carefully construct it.

The interesting thing about text is that, as a medium, it separates you from the person you are speaking with, so you can act differently from how you would in person or even on the phone.”

— Aziz Ansari, Modern Romance

6. Giving Bad News

Perhaps you hear that her best friend was in an accident and died. Should you text her the news? Heavens no! Bad news to the one you love requires you to be there to comfort them with your warm embrace and words of solace. Give her the news in person. Here are some examples of bad news not to give on a text:

  • Death of a loved one
  • A serious health diagnosis
  • Loss of your job
  • A serious accident
  • A crime committed by someone you both know or being a victim
  • Anything that would be a gross disappointment or tragedy

You can surely think of more.

Don't text bad news.
7. Apologies

Gutless! Text apologies are once again, impersonal. It says you are not courageous or respectful enough to face her in humility. It may feel safer and easier for you, but it may cause her to doubt your sincerity. Not only that, but it robs you both of a chance to have a real heart to heart, to talk things out, and clear up any misunderstandings. You can’t kiss or hug and make up through an electronic device.

8. Sexting

I don’t know many people do this. In fact, none that I’m aware of, but few people share that kind of information. Aside from the immorality of it, and not honoring your and your lady’s body, you also run the risk of it getting into the wrong hands and a big, humiliating mess for both of you. People drop or forget their phones in public places; in someone else’s home; in a place where children or teenagers can get to it.

This would include nude photos. Requesting her to send such photos is degrading her and if it gets into the wrong hands there could be dire consequences. It’s the same if you send her photos of yourself. Respect and honor her and your relationship.

9. Texting and Online Activity While You Are With Her

It is downright rude and boorish to text while with someone. It’s likely the one you love is doing the same thing because that is 21st-century life (that doesn’t make it right or healthy). How can you enjoy one another’s company if your texting others, scrolling social media, or checking the football scores? How can you get to know each other better if you’re on your phone? How do you sustain a relationship if you talk very little? How can you express your interest and love for one another while ignoring each other?

Make changes and encourage your love to put away her phone so you can enjoy each other. Today, many romantic relationships consist of texting and sex. This is shallow, dishonorable, and robbing you both of the delights of a true love relationship.

Don't text when you're together.
10. Gloating About How Much Fun You’re Having Without Her

It’s not wrong for either of you to be with friends while the other is not there. In fact, it’s healthy. If you like to go to the gym with a friend to work out, or she likes to go shopping with her friend, there is nothing wrong with that. But there are times when your time with friends can make her feel left out and that you enjoy the company of others more than her. Gloating through texts about the fun you’re having without her, especially multiple times in a time frame (including photos) is hurtful. Here are some scenarios that would apply:

  1. Going to parties and family events without her.
  2. The habit of spending and demanding more time with the guys.
  3. Telling her outright you prefer the company of others more than her.
  4. Trying to make her jealous by talking about the other women (or taking photos) in your company.
  5. Accusing her of trying to spoil your fun.

Attitude and intentions are the defining factors. Are you deliberately cutting her out because you find your friends’ company more fun? Are you mad at her and want to get back at her? Do you demand your right to go wherever you want with whomever you want, whenever you want, and indicate she is unwelcome? Do you enjoy texting her these things? If so, you will lose her eventually, and rightly so.

11. Jealous Accusations

Unjustified jealous texts can be made by both men and women, but this article is for men. If your girlfriend or wife is out shopping or having lunch with girlfriends, working extra hours, don’t spoil her day by texting her your suspicions she is cheating or flirting; it will damage your relationship. If she’s never given you a concrete reason to believe she’s been unfaithful then it is your insecurity you need to address.

12. Cancelling Last Minute

Emergencies and urgent matters crop up from time to time and we have to cancel something at the last minute. Happens to everyone from time to time. Calling to cancel is best but texting suffices.

The wimp-out is when you’ve canceled in a text after she’s been waiting and ready to go and do it flippantly with no real reason, or you tell her you decided to do something else instead. Boo! Not nice.

Two Set of Keys

You may have caught onto the keywords reflecting the attitude and the heart of the person who sends the kind of texts listed above.

  • Insensitive
  • Cowardly
  • Impersonal
  • Shallow
  • Lazy
  • Hollow
  • Rude
  • Boorish
  • Inconsiderate
  • Hiding
  • Hurt feelings
  • Degrading
  • Dire consequences
  • Risk
  • Humiliation
  • Danger
  • Immoral
  • Robbing
  • Dishonorable
  • Jealousy
  • Demanding
  • Criticism
  • Wimp-out

It’s never too late to learn and apply better communication skills. Here is a list of things guys should incorporate into their texts:

  • Honor
  • Love
  • Respect
  • Affirmation
  • Value
  • Humility
  • Delight
  • Personal
  • Tenderness
  • Touch
  • Personal
  • Comfort
  • Voice
  • Body language
  • Embrace
  • Face to face
  • Being a Man

Hopefully, the message here is loud and clear. Shun the negatives and embrace the positives and you will only gain more blessings in your relationship and develop integrity and a kind and sensitive heart.

What’s not so great is that all this technology is destroying our social skills. Not only have we given up on writing letters to each other, we barely even talk to each other. People have become so accustomed to texting that they’re actually startled when the phone rings. It’s like we suddenly all have Batphones. If it rings, there must be danger.

— Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously, I’m Kidding

One helpful tool is to put yourself in her place. Ask yourself how you would feel if she did the same things. I know some men would take no offense at a text “Happy Anniversary,” or hearing the first “I love you,” but would be hurt by some of the other things on the list. True love wants and gives the very best.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

10 Texts To Never Ever Send Your Ex (+5 He May Actually Want To Read)

The first few days after you break up with someone can feel pretty weird. You were used to texting this person all the time (with cute emojis included), telling them your every thought, and of course, hanging out with them regularly. Now, all of a sudden, there’s radio silence and all you can think about is what went wrong.

When you’re looking at your phone and wondering if it’s alright to get in contact with your ex-boyfriend, there are definitely some text messages that are totally cool… and some that he would frown at. In the art of breaking up, there’s a fine line between friendly and awkward.

Here are 10 texts to never send your ex, and five that he may actually want to read.

15. Never Send: ‘Who’s That Girl In Your Profile Pic?’

There’s really nothing worse than seeing a photo of your ex-boyfriend with another girl. You might be tempted to text him and ask who the girl in his social media profile picture is.

The problem? This will make you look kind of bad since you’ll look super jealous. This is a text message to never send your ex.

14. Never Send: ‘Remember When…?’

You might also be staring at your cell phone, wondering if you should text your ex and ask him, “Remember when we ate pizza for a week straight?” or “Remember that crazy vacation where everything went wrong?”

You don’t want to text him this, either, because it would just bug him.

13. Want To Read: ‘Want To Come To My Birthday Party?’

On the other hand, when it comes to text messages that your ex-boyfriend might actually want to read, asking him if he wants to come to your birthday party is one of them.

Maybe you said you would stay friends but haven’t made good on that promise. This would be a nice thing to do and a way of breaking the ice.

12. Never Send: ‘What’s Up?’

You never want to send a text that says “What’s up?” This is especially true if it’s late at night. This sends the message that you want to hang out and that you might still have feelings for him.

Even if that’s true, things might get awkward fast, and you probably would rather avoid that.

11. Never Send: ‘I Bumped Into Your Friend The Other Day’

You also don’t need to text your ex and mention that just the other day, you ran into one of his super good friends.

This is a totally unnecessary text message since he’ll probably hear about it. And he might think that you’re just trying to get in touch with him, not really saying anything.

10. Never Send: ‘I Love Your New Haircut’

If you texted your ex that you love his new haircut, that would creep him out. He would wonder how you knew since you haven’t seen him lately, and then he would realize that he posted a new photo of himself on social media.

You know that you check him out online… but you don’t want to make that super obvious to him.

9. Want To Read: ‘No Hard Feelings, Let’s Be Friendly’

Your ex probably wouldn’t mind if you texted him, “No hard feelings, let’s be friendly.” This is a particularly great text message to send if you two have mutual friends or run into each other on a regular basis.

No one likes an awkward breakup, and this would help with that.

8. Never Send: ‘Are You Dating Again?’

You don’t want your ex-boyfriend to ask you if you’re dating again, so you really don’t want to ask him this question, either. The truth is that you don’t need to know this information. You two broke up.

He’s not going to want to give you a straight answer, anyway, and then you’ll get even more frustrated.

7. Never Send: ‘We Need To Talk’

Rehashing the breakup is never a good idea. Yes, even if you thought of the perfect comeback to something that he said, or you think that you can “win the breakup.”

It’s not the best idea to text him “we need to talk.” He’s probably just going to say that he doesn’t want to.

6. Want To Read: ‘I Heard About This Great Job’

Your ex might want to read a text from you saying that you heard about an awesome job that could be his dream one. Maybe you can help him out and refer him for a position that you heard about.

If you two are on good terms, there’s no reason not to send this text message.

5. Never Send: ‘I’m Still Annoyed With You’

If you ever want to text your ex that you’re annoyed with him, that’s not a great idea. You also don’t want to text something that continues the argument that you had or whatever caused the breakup.

This will just start a fight or make him upset, and that’s not that productive, right?

4. Never Send: ‘Did I Leave Any Stuff At Your Place?’

If you text your ex that you wonder if you left anything at his apartment, he’ll be able to tell that you’re looking for an excuse to get in contact with him.

If he’s a decent person, he’ll definitely let you know if you did leave stuff there, so this is kind of unnecessary.

3. Never Send: ‘How’s Work Going?’

This isn’t the best text message to send, either. He’ll be confused that you’re getting in touch with him and he won’t want to tell you too many details.

After all, you’re not together anymore, so you both need to find other people to talk to regularly and confide in.

2. Want To Read: ‘I Just Wanted To See How You’re Doing’

Did you break up on friendly terms? Maybe it’s been a while and you really are curious about how he’s doing. It’s totally okay to check-in and it’s okay to ask him about his life these days.

He’s going to appreciate it and he’ll want to know how things are going for you too, for sure.

1. Want To Read: ‘I Miss You’

Your ex-boyfriend might actually want to read a text from you that says that you miss him. If you really think that you have a chance of getting back together, why not go for it and take a chance?

You never know… he could be waiting to hear this from you, and maybe he was too shy to text you the same thing.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Why Men Hurt More Than Women After Breakups

One major reason why men hurt more than women after breakups: men always just want to suck things up.

The end of a relationship is never fair to anyone. Men hurt, women hurt when the familiar feeling of happiness is suddenly snatched from them due to a breakup. Even when the breakup is expected, the grieving process often still plays out.

A British study has claimed that men suffer more long-lasting pain from breakups than women. The question that naturally follows this is: why is this so? How and why are men hurting more when it is they who usually seem to move on from breakups faster and more painlessly?

According to an article published in The Independent Ireland in 2017, it is not so controversial to say that men struggle more after a breakup than women do because “emotionally, [men] often react badly to major life upheavals. Moreover, [men’s] methods for dealing with changed circumstances are not always helpful.”

Women handle breakups differently from how men do it [Credit - Shutterstock]

Women handle breakups differently from how men do it. A 2015 survey by Men’s Health magazine backs up this statement. Conductors of the survey found out that going to the pub was named the best way to “get over” a split according to while one-third of those polled said the jilted party would be better off if he acts unbothered by the whole thing.

Right there, is one of the reasons why men suffer – the unwillingness to face what happened and come to terms with the reality of it.

Unlike women, males grew up with the 'men don't cry' attitude. [Credit - CanStock]
Unlike women, males grew up with the ‘men don’t cry’ attitude.

“Males grew up with the ‘men don’t cry’ attitude and while men may deal with things differently, it doesn’t mean they don’t feel the same pain and the same hurt as women,” says Elaine Hanlon, a counselor, and psychotherapist based in Dublin. “So for generations, men have learned to suppress this pain and hurt and ‘be a man’ which doesn’t allow much space for vulnerability.”

On the other hand, women are typically more comfortable finding a shoulder to cry on and letting it all out.

“Women are often less dependent on their significant other for emotional support – they typically have a wider circle of friends and will confide to family in a way most men wouldn’t countenance,” Hanlon says.

That kinda explains why they come to grips with reality and find the real strength to genuinely close a chapter a move on to the next quicker.

Women break up with men more than it happens the other way round. Another explanation for why men are hurt by breakups more [Credit - Shutterstock]
Women break up with men more than it happens the other way round. Another explanation for why men are hurt by breakups more.

Another reason why women don’t suffer as much as men after a breakup is because they do the breaking up more times than men.

“Studies show that more women than men are the initiators of a marriage break up today,” Hanlon adds.

What this means is that women have more time to start processing the pain ahead. They begin to prepare early for the outcomes of splitting up from a partner. By the time they are done with that phase, the man may just be beginning his.

For men, therefore, it is important to begin to deal with breakups in more expressive, healthier ways as opposed to the ‘suck-it-all-up’ technique that is being used from way back.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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3 Signs You Need Space From Your Partner, Because Sometimes You Need A Break

One of the most satisfying parts of having a bae is that there’s always someone around to spend time with. Whether you’re in need of a Netflix and ~chill~ buddy or a date to bring to a family event, being in a relationship ensures that you have someone by your side when you need them. That said, no matter how in love you are, making time for yourself is really important too. Space is something you should never be ashamed to ask for, so if you’re recognizing the signs you need space from your partner, it might be time to have a conversation.

Recognizing these signs doesn’t necessarily mean that something’s wrong with your relationship. It could just be that you’ve been neglecting your needs as an individual, which can start to feel like a major strain on yourself, mentally and emotionally. I spoke with best-selling author and NYC dating expert Susan Winter to find out what you should be looking out for.

“It’s absolutely normal to love someone and also need your space,” Winter tells Elite Daily. “Partnership requires a lot of emotional and mental energy. Being in a relationship also means we’re aware and attentive to our mate’s feelings and needs.” Sometimes in our rush to satisfy others, we forget to take care of ourselves. If you suspect this might be happening to you, here are three signs you could use some you-time.

1. Everything your partner does annoys you.

According to Winter, if you find yourself constantly annoyed by everything your partner does, then there’s a solid chance that it’s time to take a step back. “When we push past our own self-care boundaries, everything our partner does will get on our nerves,” says Winter. It’s not that you don’t love them, but just like being over-exposed to your BFF or even your family can stress you out, there comes a time when you need to do your own thing for a sec.

2. You lash out at them.

“[If] you’re really bitchy [to your partner] no matter how hard you try to be nice,” it could be that you need some time to recalibrate and recharge your emotional battery, explains Winter.

Letting your partner know that you need some space can be tough, so instead, many of us try to keep quiet about our urges to fly solo. But keeping your feelings bottled up makes it easier to take out your frustrations on your SO, which can result in more hurt and confusion in the end.

3. Being around them makes you feel short-tempered and irritable.

“Too much togetherness is suffocating,” says Winter. “We’re going to be impatient and reactive if we haven’t had space to unwind and collect our thoughts. The correct balance of together and alone time is essential for any relationship to thrive.”

If you find yourself feeling tense around your SO for no reason, then it could be a sign that it’s time to have a conversation with your bae about your need for space. However, Winter also notes that if you aren’t communicating with your partner and are instead pulling away, there might be a bigger issue at place.

“You’ll know you’ve got a problem if you get more joy being away from your partner than with them, you find yourself making less and less time to see your mate each week, or you have to force yourself to put on a ‘happy face’ in order to appear normal,” warns Winter.

It’s important to be direct with your partner about how you’re feeling. Communication is essential to a healthy relationship, so there’s nothing wrong with making more time for yourself as long as you let your partner know, so they aren’t in the dark about your needs. A good partner will be supportive and understanding, so don’t be afraid to be honest.

 

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