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We all have those moments of frustration with our partner that lead us to act in ways we later regret. We may acknowledge after the fact that there was a healthier way to react or vow to handle things better in the future, but the moment tensions rise, and we feel triggered in a particular way, we fling back into the same bad habit. Over time, these messy interactions can morph into destructive dynamics. Yet, there is a way to break the cycle and stop ourselves from riding off the rails in our relationship.
Remember the Debbie Downer sketches on “Saturday Night Live”? Played by Rachel Dratch, the character had the ability to bring a depressing commentary to any occasion. Order a nice, juicy steak? She’d look worried and mention Mad Cow disease. Bring up an upcoming vacation, and she’d be sure to discuss the threat of a hurricane. Cue the wah-wah sad trombone.
Here are some simple tools you can use to improve your connection, your communication, and your love life. And who doesn’t want a better love life? Just begin to employ these behaviors in your relationship, and you will soon see positive changes.
The terms “anxious” and “depressed” get thrown around a lot in casual conversation, and for good reason: both are normal emotions to experience, routinely occurring for us all in response to high-stakes or potentially dangerous situations (in the case of anxiety) or disappointing, upsetting circumstances (in the case of depression).
What is catastrophizing in depression? According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology,1 to catastrophize is "to exaggerate the negative consequences of events or decisions." I define it as freaking out over little-to-medium crises or unexpected occurrences in my life. It's like thinking the whole evening is ruined if I forget to thaw the chicken for dinner of feeling like I'm a mess all day if the outfit I'd planned to wear isn't clean. Catastrophizing could be set in motion by getting an unexpected bill in the mail. It could begin upon receiving a text from a friend canceling plans. Perhaps a catastrophization trigger for you would be the difficult decision of choosing between two great job offers. Any one of these events can set off a chain reaction that results in catastrophizing that worsens depression.
Nothing quite prepares you for the heartache of profound loss. It settles in like a gloomy thrum — sometimes louder, sometimes softer — with a volume switch you can’t entirely shut off.
An estimated 2.3 million Americans have bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness. A person with bipolar disorder can go from feeling very, very high (called mania) to feeling very, very low (depression). With proper treatment, people can control these mood swings and lead fulfilling lives. While the rate of bipolar disorder is the same among African Americans as it is among other Americans, African Americans are less likely to receive a diagnosis and, therefore, treatment for this illness.
When you live in suburbia, you cannot avoid the discontent of adults, especially parents. Complaints tend to center on time deficits. Starting with the 35 minutes each morning it takes to toss kids onto each shoulder, stick a toothbrush in their mouths, shove in waffles, and dress them as if you gave birth to mannequins. I could inundate you with scientific data on how working parents today spend more hours in childcare than stay-at-home parents in the 1950’s.