Beyond Well Newsletter
Additional videos, extended ask the doctor, after show notes, links to info on anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, suicide prevention, living with loss, managing grief, better sex, bossing up, and thriving in a changing workplace.
5 days ago
After the Show Notes from Dr. Jenna LeJeune:
Kathleen Lane: Creativity, anxiety, and helping kids
become their own superheroes
“Worry is courage waiting to get out.”
“I was born to make mistakes, not fake perfection.”
“Worries are just the things you don’t know yet.”
These are the kinds of statements that people who attend Kathleen Lane’s “Create More, Fear Less”
workshops come up with. If only we could all be so wise! And who are these shining beacons of
acceptance and wisdom? Middle schoolers, specifically, 4th-8th graders who struggle with significant
anxiety. Yep, that’s right. After spending time in one of Kathleen’s “Fearless” clubs, these middle
schoolers have been able to shift their relationship to their anxiety in a way that I rarely see even in
adults. So what’s her secret? Through modeling her own humanity and using creativity to help kids
explore their feelings rather than pathologizing them, Kathleen helps kids face their fears and
worries. In doing so, the kids become their own superheros!
Kathleen Lane comes at this work honestly. A writer and creator, Kathleen is also someone who has
an anxious mind. Even though she does not come at this from a clinical or therapy background, found so much in her work to be consistent with the ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) approach that I have found so helpful in my work as a therapist and also in my own personal life. In fact, I can see all 6 of the core ACT processes (Willingness/Acceptance, Defusion, Contact with the Present Moment, Flexible Perspective Taking/Self-As-Context, Values, and Committed Action)
masterfully demonstrated in the Create More, Fear Less program:
Willingness/Acceptance: One of the coolest parts of Kathleen’s approach is that she
doesn’t just help kids tolerate their anxiety, she actually helps open up to and even, at times,
appreciate it. By helping them see that the same mind that gives them worries and anxieties,
is also the same mind that helps them be creative and dream, Kathleen’s approach is one of
making space for (i.e. willingness) rather than putting up with (i.e. resignation to) anxiety.
Defusion: Kathleen’s program uses metaphor and physicalizing creativity exercises to help
kids be able to take a step back to look at thoughts rather than just from their thoughts. They
become curious about their thoughts and feelings, seeing them as something to explore and
look at rather than something that needs to be eliminated.
Contact with the Present Moment: Worry is all about an imagined future. By helping kids
become more aware of and curious about what they are actually experiencing in this
moment, even if it is unpleasant like a racing heart or sweaty palms, the Fearless program
helps kids move out of the virtual reality of the mind and into their actual lived experience,
which is where life and learning occur.
Flexible Perspective Taking: Each participant in the workshops, including the facilitators,
share their worries and experiences with one another. For example, each session starts with
the kids writing down worry on a rock and then sharing that with the group. This helps participants see that they are not alone. In addition, if they notice that they respond with kindness or understanding to other people’s worries, they may be able to see that they could
respond to their own worries with that same compassion.
Values and Committed Action: The Fearless program isn’t actually focused on helping
kids not feel fear or “get over” their anxiety. It’s about helping them connect with and move
towards something that is more important than their fear and anxiety. In this way, the
anxiety may still be present, but it’s not running the show.
I was so inspired after speaking with Kathleen Lane and hearing about the work she is doing. I really
wish we could have more programs of like this to give kids (and adults!) the tools they need to be more accepting of their scary or painful thoughts or feelings while at the same time, become their own superheroes focused on what is actually important to them. I hope you’ll take some time to check out her website, Createmorefearless.org and her book “The Best Worst Thing.”
And if you don’t happen to be lucky enough to be a middle schooler in one of Kathleen’s programs,
but are interested in developing some of the skills around acceptance, mindfulness, and valued
action that is so consistent with Kathleen’s approach, you can find an ACT therapist in your area
here. ... See MoreSee Less
6 days ago
It was so moving to see the sellout crowd at Lauv’s D.C. concert responding to this moment:
(Lauv joins us Thursday to talk about why he’s partnering with @Microsoft to get fans talking about mental health.) ... See MoreSee Less
2 weeks ago
After the Show Notes on Lyme: It's All In Your Head?
It’s all in your head! As a psychologist, I can’t tell you how much I hate that phrase. I hate it for the ways it’s not true, when it’s used to invalidate, minimize, or dismiss someone’s suffering. I also hate it because it is true—Of course it’s all in your head! There isn’t one thing we can experience in our below-the-shoulders bodies that isn’t filtered through our brains. But most of all, I hate it because I think the whole debate is highly problematic and perpetuates deeply ingrained myths about the
nature of suffering and of healing.
In this episode,we were talking with three people, Dana Parish Neil Spector and Elizabeth Aaroe who were all told that what they were experiencing,
including symptoms ranging from chronic fatigue, to vision problems, to depression and anxiety, to
debilitating headaches, was “all in their head.” The “all in your head” diagnosis seemed to imply that
they were somehow making it up or that it wasn’t “real.” In the end, each of our guests was
eventually diagnosed with Lyme disease. But frankly, I’m left wondering, so what? Does that make
their suffering any more “real?” Diagnosis is helpful to the extent that it can inform treatment. And,
certainly, getting an accurate diagnosis of Lyme disease resulted in our guests get treatment that was
helpful. But this seemed to go beyond that; it seemed that the diagnosis was being used to legitimize
or delegitimize someone’s suffering. As if calling it X “disease” now makes it “real.” What if we as a
culture stopped trying to put our suffering on a hierarchy of legitimacy?
In therapy, clients often come to me asking “why.” They want to know why they are depressed,
anxious, distrusting of people, fearful of intimacy, etc. Sometimes exploring that question can be
helpful, but more often than not, I’ve found that spending lots of time trying to answer that “why
question” prevents us from focusing on what is most important, which is this: “Given that you are
experiencing what you are experiencing, what do we know to be the most effective ways to
cope/treat/respond to what you are experiencing?”
Our guests today were all talking about their experience of Lyme disease. Honestly, that’s not
something I know a ton about. I also think there is still a lot of research to be done. Thus, as a
scientist, I am humbly reluctant to weigh in on claims about what the best treatments are, what the
impacts are, what other difficulties it may be linked to, etc. before we have the empirical data to back
it up. But what I can say is that regardless of your diagnosis or lack of diagnosis, your suffering
matters and it is “real.” Let’s spend a little less time arguing about the legitimacy of each other’s
struggles and more of our efforts trying to do what we can to address the problem of human
#health #mentalhealth #suffering #chronic #Immune #LymeDisease #Infectiousdiseases #depression #fatigue #jointpain #fogginess #support #recovery #therapy #psychology #psychiatry
Elizabeth Aaroe Neil Spector Dana Parish ... See MoreSee Less
In no particular order, the following are excellent books and memoirs about Lyme written by doctors and patients, respectively.
An anthropologist’s view of Lyme disease and suicide 💚 “People stop asking how you are or act as if your failure to recover is somehow a personal weakness. These silences and reactions can drive the chronically ill into isolation, despair, and existential confusion.“ "I wonder what would have happened if I had met doctors early on in my illness who were committed to listening empathetically." www.lymedisease.org/anthropologist-lyme-suicide/
In honor of today, 10/10, World Mental Health Day: Due to the effect of Lyme disease on the brain, patients can experience psychiatric issues during both acute and late phases of the disease. Fighting for diagnosis and roadblocks to treatment can also leave patients feeling helpless. Psychology Today recently published an article giving more details on the psychological implications of Lyme. Hit the link below to read more. 👇💚 www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/new-approaches-health/201906/the-psychological-implications-lyme-...
Thank you! Jenna 💚 for putting your thoughts of our interview out there. It can be difficult for those not familiar with the 40+ year history of Lyme disease to catch up. You and Sheila got just a sip from the proverbial firehose. Lyme disease is complex and overwhelming enough, but the ways in which it has been “managed” - for lack of a better word, over this lengthy period of time is equally troubling and heartbreaking. The history surrounding the disease and how it was uncovered in 1975 by an incredibly worried Lyme, CT resident mother, Polly Murray, is widely known and documented. But what the key doctor at Yale (Steere) did about its uncovering from that time, on, along with others, continues to be engulfed in mystery, controversy, political and medical subterfuge and more. The fact is that the majority of Lyme patients know far more about their disease than most clinicians in any area of medical practice, including psychology and psychiatry, and including the most logical specialists they most often get referred to: immunologists, rheumatologists neurologists, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, dermatologists, pulmonologists, etc. We are the ones who can cite the most current scientific research, medical and evidence-based patient studies, the most current diagnostic testing breakthroughs, the most current drug and treatment breakthroughs. Today, the Lyme and associated tick-borne diseases medical and advocacy organizations and support networks are staffed with some of the most brilliant doctors, lawyers, strategic planners, and executive and non-profit management and volunteers who possess the most important, current, relevant, scientific and medical information versus most doctors (in any field) could hope to grasp, let alone fully absorb, with the exception of Lyme-literate doctors. The non-Lyme medical community has simply not kept pace with this global pandemic. That is the story worth covering. Why? The psychological traumas from Lyme are many, particularly the PTSD aspects after overcoming the following: • It’s not just the weeks, months, and years it often takes Lyme patients to get a proper diagnosis, as the patient progresses from fully-functioning human to completely disabled. • It’s then the agony of the treatments themselves, well beyond the inevitable, well-documented herxheimer reactions, which can be life threatening. • It then moves on to the difficulty of maintaining critical emotional and financial support through such a lengthy remission to recovery period. • Most health insurers today DO NOT cover long-term treatment for Lyme and tick-borne diseases. Many do not even have the essential drugs required to treat the diseases on their approved formularies. This means very ill patients are often overwhelmed by lengthy appeal processes within highly bureaucratic back-office operations and with medical directors tasked with establishing the formularies within those companies that know absolutely nothing about the illnesses. • Lyme and associated TBD patients are constantly denied critical, often life-saving treatments because of this • fighting an illness as debilitating and overwhelming as cancer - while also fighting the medical establishment and dysfunctional health insurance system is more than most Lyme patients can manage without help - without someone taking those fights over for them. • Lyme Disease doesn’t just overwhelm the sufferer, it overwhelms their families, their friends, their care providers. The statistical incidence of divorce, suicide, and financial bankruptcy within the Lyme community is overwhelming. ... and this is just the beginning. Here are some great patient assistance and advocacy links to help learn more about Lyme and tick-borne diseases: • ILADS is a nonprofit, international, multi-disciplinary medical society, dedicated to the diagnosis and appropriate treatment of Lyme and its associated diseases. www.ilads.org • LymeDisease.org is a non-profit 501(c)(3) that serves the patient community through advocacy, education and research. www.lymedisease.org • Global Lyme Alliance has awarded nearly $12 million for Lyme and tick-borne disease research to date. GLA-funded projects have led to unprecedented advances in such areas as prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne illnesses. www. globallymealliance.org • The Dean Center offers several types of group support to assist patients in coping with the emotional challenges and stress of chronic illness. Guided by a mental health counselor with expertise in tick-related illness. www. spauldingrehab.org/conditions-services/lyme-disease • At Bay Area Lyme Foundation, our focus is on making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure. www.bayarealyme.org
I recommend that everyone watch this Academy Award nominated documentary film as a first step to understanding Lyme disease and the historical and present day controversies and challenges surrounding it: “A chilling tale of microbes, medicine and money, this Oscar shortlisted film has changed the landscape of the Lyme epidemic, bringing unprecedented awareness in an engaging and accessible way. The definitive record of the Lyme controversy, UNDER OUR SKIN exposes a hidden story of medical and scientific malfeasance and neglect. As official case numbers explode and hundreds of thousands of people around the world go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, the film is as relevant and timely as ever. In the early 1970's, a mysterious ailment was discovered among children living around the town of Lyme, CT. What was first diagnosed as isolated cases of juvenile arthritis, eventually became known as Lyme disease, an illness triggered by spiral-shaped bacteria, similar to the microorganisms that cause syphilis. Today, many of those untreated will suffer chronic debilitating illness. Some unknowingly will pass the disease onto their unborn children. Many will lose their livelihoods, and still others, their lives. Yet Lyme disease is one of the most misunderstood and controversial illnesses of our time. Difficult to test accurately, tens of thousands of people go undiagnosed—or misdiagnosed with such conditions as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, autism, MS and ALS. The Centers for Disease Control estimates more than 300,000 people acquire Lyme disease each year, a number greater than breast cancers and AIDS combined. And yet, the medical establishment—with profound influence from the insurance industry—has stated that the disease is easily detectable and treatable, and that “chronic Lyme” is some other unrecognized syndrome or a completely psychosomatic disorder. UNDER OUR SKIN is a powerful and often terrifying look not only at the science and politics of the disease, but also the personal stories of those whose lives have been affected and nearly destroyed. From a few brave doctors who risk their medical licenses, to patients who once led active lives but now can barely walk, the film uncovers a hidden world that will astound viewers. While exposing a broken health care and medical research system, the film also gives voice to those who believe that instead of a crisis, Lyme is simply a "disease du jour," over diagnosed and contributing to another crisis: the looming resistance of microbes and ineffectuality of antibiotics.” www.underourskin.com
An excellent new study that addresses some of the discussion we had concerning how Lyme is able to suppress the immune system, due to inflammation /infection, to depress antibody responsiveness, and to trigger both mental and physiological conditions, including severe malaise: www.news-medical.net/news/20190605/Chronic-inflammation-removes-motivation-by-reducing-dopamine-i...