Don't worry, be happy :)

Focus on life issues.
Ask Arlene MD is to focus on anything that has to do with mental health. In the past I've written about relationships but now I would like to focus more on mental health and try to be educational and entertaining. Life is always about relationships. These are either male, female, parent, child, neighbors, teachers, and the list is infinite. How we interact with others define us. If we are angry, we can develop toxic relationships. If we have a better attitude, then we will be happy. Happiness is really a state of mind. You chose to feel happy. You chose to be sad. You choose to be angry. You chose to be mean. Hopefully if you read this blog you will use it for insight, not to attack others. The purpose is to try to make people have a better and positive look at life. Enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2015

On being happy and content, pursuing happiness!

"The Best Days of my Life"
Yesterday, while driving around town doing errands, one of my favorite songs came up, "Summer of '69", by Bryan Adams, (2002).
Every time I hear that song, my husband reminisces of when he was a teenager and of how much fun he had, (blah, blah, blah). Most people reminiscence of " how good the old days were".

I understand that the older we get, the more responsibilities and stressors we acquire. Most of us get married, get a job, a house, have kids, and the bills just keep piling up and up! We usually spend more than what we have. Social pressures also pile up. How do we stop the madness?

First, don't look back. The past is usually not what we remember exactly. We remember it with today's point of view. Some of us think it was better than our present. Others think it was worse. Either way, it's tinted with life experiences.

Second, be grateful for what you have. This is the single most important step towards personal gratification and happiness. It's so unusual to find people who are grateful. It doesn't matter if they're rich, (they want to be richer, more powerful, "Donald Trump" anyone?)! If they're poor, sick or depressed, well, at least "they have an excuse"! But No! They don't! Just look around you and you will ALWAYS find someone worse off than you!

Third, never live above your means! If you don't have money to buy something, don't. This is your first step towards decreasing stress and anxiety. Remember the saying, save money for a rainy day? Well then do it! You never know what the future will bring, so save some money in case it's "bills" what you will get hit with.

Fourth, don't ever use a credit card, and I mean it!  If you don't have money in the bank, those beautiful shoes, that you don't really need, stay in the store.

In my experience financial woes are the culprit of unhappiness. If you don't have food on your table and a roof over your head, most people get depressed (very understandable), and then sickness follows etc. However, I have a story to tell. When I worked in the Homeless Shelters as a Psychiatrist,  I met "happy, content" homeless people versus "unhappy, bitter, depressed " ones. What made the difference? I realized that the happy ones, were content with their lives and enjoyed the freedom of being homeless, versus the unhappy ones always wanted more, (more Welfare, Food Stamps, more Section 8, etc. but not too willing to work for it). Yes, believe it or not, some people choose to be "homeless" and it's a lifestyle which they enjoy.  Being content with what you have, makes a world of difference.

Back to "The best days of my life". The best day of your life should be today!
I'll never forget that USA Network TV episode of "Monk" the obsessive compulsive detective, (Monk and the Badge), when he is finally reinstated in the police force and decides to quit at the end. He says to his psychiatrists, during the therapy session, "Why didn't you tell me I was happy?" Monk had spent so many years believing that his past was so much better, that he could not enjoy his present at all.

Go out today and make this the best day of your life! Then tomorrow, should be your best day, and so on and so forth... 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"Why men marry some women and not others" by John Molloy

Wow! I just love this book. I've added a link below so you can read a summary of the basic ideas of the author. His ideas are based on his personal research and should only be used as guidelines. But boy do they make sense! The more I practice psychiatry, the more it makes sense to me what he wrote. Please take a few minutes and read the link!

Wow! Am I distracted!

Adult ADD or just plain multitasking, What is what?

Many patients come into my office and swear that they forget things, cannot multitask, and have difficulty focusing at home, work or school. These are usually adults that may range anywhere between 18-65 years old. I'll try to give some guidance on what ADD means versus normal stressful multitasking.

By definition, ADD is an illness of children that starts before age 7. Most children may outgrow it, or at least learn ways to cope with the external stimuli, so it won't be as distracting. However, the older they grow and school gets more difficult, like in Middle or High school, they may need some medication to help them focus. In my experience, unless they are extremely ADHD, with hyperactivity, or failing in school, I usually don't like children to be treated since stimulants can stunt their growth, make them feel zombie or give them a numb affect, between other things. However, many of these children when they grow up and go to higher education, they will request medicine to focus. This may be a good time to use stimulants while they go to College and help them succeed. There're misconceptions about the stimulants thou. Some people believe that a stimulant will just make them smarter or get better grades. This is not so. Don't expect to take a magic pill and get an "A"!

Now, I'll see adults that are much older, say 40's or even 50's who claim they suddenly have ADD. Now remember, ADD is a childhood disorder that some may carry out into adulthood. Now it's a little more difficult to differentiate between the adult that had ADD as a child but went untreated, or the adult who has so much stress at work, home, family etc, that has to be multitasking constantly and forgets things.

Think about yourself as working full time, being a full time parent, having to do the cookie bake for the PTA meeting next week, taking your younger kids to softball practice and trying to make all the football games for your senior child in high school. Also don't forget that you have to make sure that senior applies for his or hers SATS, ACTS, go to College night and apply to all the Colleges they may want to attend, or not!  (Trust me, I've been this mom several times since I have three kids)!  So do we have ADD or are we just overwhelmed with multitasking and just honestly forget sometimes?

At this point, it doesn't matter what you want to call it, just give me some solutions please!!!  And so I will.....

1. Get a calendar (or planner) please. The prettier the better. Also get some Crayola magic markers so you have fun while doing this. Colors are important because you can use a color for each designated activity. Or a color for each kid, it's your choice, but keep it consistent.
2. Keep the planner somewhere where you will see it every day. I keep mine at my desk at work. I write all my activities in the dates they need to be done in color coordinated codes that make sense to me.
3. Get some cute small color post notes. I use these to write things I have to do that I may not get to do them immediately. This way, I can take the post note and move it to another day in my planner so I won't forget to get them done. This works very well when I have to return a phone call and cannot get to it that same day. So I move my post note to the following day.  If you're a fan of "Sex and the City", you may recall the episode when Berger dumps Carrie on a "post it" note posted on her laptop screen.  Samantha tries to cheer her up so she invites her to a Club opening in Manhattan that night. Samantha opens up her planner which is filled up to the max with colorful post notes!
4. That reminds me that when I get an invite, I'll staple the invite to the planner on the date of the activity.
5. If I have a doctors appointment, I'll staple the doctors business card on the date of the appointment, therefore, if I need to cancel or reschedule the appointment , the doctors phone is in the card and I don't have to search my contacts to find the phone number. The same is true if I have a hair dresser appointment or any other appointments. I just love business cards! They are so handy.
6. And lastly, I love my Siri ! She reminds me every day of things I have to do, that never get done!

Go ahead and be happy! If you don't get things done today, maybe do them tomorrow, and if not, who cares, there will always be another day!