Self Care as Interconnected Care (plus 9 ways to stay connected)

Self Care as Interconnected Care (plus 9 ways to stay connected)

Self-care is a popular topic, and has become the go-to for anyone stressed out by life. One Google search pulls up almost 97 million results! 

(Hang on. I’m a bit floored by that.)

Okay, whew. I’m back. So, I’m not going to read millions of articles, but I suspect most of them hold a basic assumption that self-care is important so that you can get back to your job, family, or other capitalist expectation without feeling depleted. That’s fine, and actually probably helpful for many people for a time. However, I suspect it ignores these important questions:

What if it’s your job that’s causing your stress? What if your stress is brought on by poor communication with your family? Lack of access to quality mental health care? Overwhelming debt due to school loans or a volatile housing market or medical costs or historical economic inequity due to racism?

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"What happened?!" When Social Anxiety Is Your Growing Edge

"What happened?!" When Social Anxiety Is Your Growing Edge

If you’ve ever spent a night (or a week) turning over and over in your mind what you might have said to someone that you regret, you are not alone. So many of us suffer from social anxiety, and from a gripping fear that we are “too much” of something that others cannot tolerate. 

Too moody?
Too intense?
Think too much?
Too political?
Too… weird?

Yeah, all those are things lots of us worry about.

When the What happened?! anxiety hits, it can be really hard to remember that every interaction is a dynamic interaction. We are dynamically experiencing our relationships, meanings, interpretations, sensations, and identities all the time. In social interactions, we are functioning on a spectrum of risk-taking where, by saying what we feel, we might end up feeling like we said the wrong thing.

(It’s okay. Really. We are ALL susceptible to this.)

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"Sunday Neurosis," or, What happens to us during the holidays?

"Sunday Neurosis," or, What happens to us during the holidays?

"Sunday neurosis" was a term coined by psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi to describe the anxiety and stress we feel on Sundays right before we have to go back to work on Monday. I hear a lot of people in my practice talk about this, and I'm not immune to it either – that feeling on Sunday nights of all the anticipated problems in the week ahead seeming to spiral towards you, as though Sisyphus has let go of that damn boulder once and for all and, whoops, looks like you're going to be the one carrying it now if it doesn't smash you first!

This feeling of anxiety and stress is true for so many of us who work the traditional Monday through Friday schedule. This is also something that happens to many of us during the holidays. Some people experience a "vacation brain" that can be blissful while it's happening, but excruciating to come back from. While Ferenczi didn't acknowledge that this same type of anxiety can happen the day before you start your working life after a long holiday, it is incredibly common.

So what can you do about it? 

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On Mass Shootings, Projection, and Owning Your Shit

On Mass Shootings, Projection, and Owning Your Shit

Another day in America. Another massacre. 27 worshippers at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas were gunned down by a white man during Sunday service. This on the heels of so many mass shootings in our country, and so very little actionable response on the part of our policy leaders and governance. It is frustrating, heartbreaking, and if you’re feeling helpless and despairing right now, you wouldn’t be the only one. It feels like we are all being forced to reckon with this chaotic, terrible violence that is so difficult to understand.

My heart is with the people who have survived the shooting, and who knew and loved those affected. Since I have the luck to have not been directly affected, what I can offer is an opportunity to think about what is happening in our country when it comes to guns, mass shootings, violence, and white men.

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How White Therapists Perpetuate Racism (Even When We Try Not To)

How White Therapists Perpetuate Racism (Even When We Try Not To)

I created this video one afternoon to get down some of my thoughts about a group I've been considering forming for therapists to address racism (our own, and structurally) and whiteness (our own, and structurally).  I think it is necessary that therapists explore what it really means to be practicing a craft that is a historically white/European modality - specifically, psychodynamic and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. We studied in white space, we trained in white space, our exams were epitomes of white spaces- and now, as licensed therapists, there are subtle and obvious ways we practice our indoctrination, within a greater system of whiteness. Now, after having the chance to watch this video, I have become aware of the racism inherent in being white and speaking about racism, and the several "slips" I have made in this video that ultimately do the opposite of what I was attempting. This brings several questions and paradoxes to mind.

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How to be a therapist when the world is on fire

How to be a therapist when the world is on fire

Last week, I wrote an article for Medium called "How to be a therapist when the world is on fire." It is a small window into the way I work as a therapist, and the urgency of connectedness and redefining the "container" when the world is on fire. I mean this both as a metaphor and, particularly in the current state of our country and planet, quite literally. 

We are all impacted, albeit in different ways, by what is happening in our communities. While therapists by necessity and design are often one layer removed from our patients' pain and experience, when we are both impacted by environmental tragedies that layer can become thin and transparent. There is important work to be done in this realm, if we can manage to continue to think clinically.

The world is on fire around us. None of us are spared completely, but some of us are in more pain and devastation than others. In some cases we just can’t do therapy right now because the immediate need to save your physical body is too great. In some cases, we can. When the walls are burning, this is when we are forced to redefine the container. - Molly Merson, MFT How to be a therapist when the world is on fire
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Reading is a Radical Act: Monthly Reading Recap

Reading is a Radical Act: Monthly Reading Recap

I am STOKED at how many people are writing books right now. There was a time in recent history when popular culture suggested that books were a thing of the past- but I am happy to notice that those predictions were incorrect, and that most of us will never stop reading. Instead of video and internet turning books obsolete, we actually are in an abundance of information with a variety of ways to participate with it. Again: STOKED!

Several folks have asked me what I’m reading these days, so I’m offering this “monthly” (that’s the goal, not necessarily the realistic outcome) reading recap with some reading and listening suggestions, including books, articles, videos, music, podcasts, and anything else. I will share things I've read, watched or listened to, whether I like them or not. I hope you discover some cool new stuff this way!

Read on for this month's recap!

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It's time to stop sheetcaking your life.

It's time to stop sheetcaking your life.

In case you haven't seen it, Tina Fey returned to Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update last weekend with a sketch about how (white) women have spent the last several months since November 9 stuffing their faces with sheetcake in an "I told you so and now I am stuffing my feelings" kind of way. Though there is certainly room to interpret a poignant satire about the actual uselessness of "sheetcaking" in this sketch, it has been called out as perpetuating the privilege that many white women have to bury their heads and avoid discomfort rather than disrupt and dismantle the systems that keep their privilege intact and keep marginalized people oppressed (highlighted by the racist quip about black drag queens).

Whatever your take on the Fey sketch, it's an excellent metaphor for what so many of us do in the face of frustration and feeling helpless. It's a gendered stereotype that women will turn to food to stuff their feelings, but perhaps we can think a bit about the metaphor.  Shoving cake in one's mouth when one's voice is not being heard is a way of silencing oneself. When one's work is not being recognized, and when one can work hard (campaigning for another political candidate, say) but still get steamrolled by someone who has more power to silence you– all of this re-enacts the violence of being silenced. Sometimes, people who feel powerless will do something punishing to themselves in order to feel like they have some control to take back their power. Unfortunately, it still leaves them punished, hurt, and sick.

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Facing your inner oppressor

Facing your inner oppressor

Charlottesville. Ferguson. Orlando. Neo-Nazis. Police brutality. Racism. Classism. Fear. Fear, hate, and Othering have a figurehead now, and people who were once hidden in their hate are now empowered to come forward. As a white person who gives a shit, it is painful knowing the reality that this kind of hate is on the shoulders of marginalized people day in and day out, when it truly should be the burden of white folks such as myself who are complicit in systems of stolen* status and privilege.

So if you’re one of the many white folks asking, “What can I do?”, I suggest you consider the words of my friend and colleague Lily Sloane: “You have to fight your inner Nazis before fighting the outer Nazis.” 

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Exercise May Save Your Life, But It’s Not A Cure For Depression

Exercise May Save Your Life, But It’s Not A Cure For Depression

I don't know about you, but I am so tired of reading articles telling us that exercising, eating right, and sleeping enough is “as good as therapy.” As a therapist and an athlete, I think it's important, and potentially life-saving, to point out the fallacy of this broad statement.

Exercise is not therapy, but it can save your life.

Yes, what you do with your body matters. What you put into it matters. How much you sleep matters. These things are all important, and your needs around all of them are as individual as your fingerprints and will change depending on your life circumstance. But if you are disabled, neurodivergent, injured, grieving, or otherwise in emotional, physical, or psychic pain, it may be much more complicated than this. Advice like “eat right and exercise!” can actually amplify the problem if you’re beating yourself up for not being able to do something that everyone is telling you you should.

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