Matthew T. Rippeyoung, M.A., C. Psych. -
No Secrets Here

How Do I Do This All Day?


At least a couple of times every week I get asked, “How do you listen to people all day and not be a wreck about it?”  In fact, it was one of the things I worried about the most when I was studying to become a psychologist.  Earlier in my career, I wasn’t totally sure WHY I wasn’t “bringing my work home with me,” but I was pretty grateful that it wasn’t happening.  It really is this strange thing about working in my field—being exposed to traumatic material and not being traumatized by it.

Don't Beat Yourself With The Gratitude Stick

This is not one of those blog posts that is going to tell you that all you need to do is be grateful and you will feel better.  In fact, it is the opposite.
 
I’m not slagging gratitude.  Gratitude is a good thing.  A great thing, even.  It is important to count one’s blessings, and to see the good things that are going on around us.  It can help us feel hopeful.  Focusing on what is good can stimulate us into thinking more positively, which sometimes orients us to making healthier decisions for ourselves.

Warning: Objects in Mirror are Handsomer Than They Appear

 I have a dear friend from adolescence with whom I check in nearly every day.  We haven’t lived in the same place for over 20 years, but thanks to technology, we can talk and text on the regular and stay current in each other’s lives, despite seeing each other very infrequently.  The other day she sent me a mini-video of her relatively serious 4 year old son issuing a warning we should all heed: Objects in the mirror may be handsomer than they appear.
 
At first I just chuckled and thought that the dear creature was cute.

Forgiveness

This week’s episode of Masters of Sex (television drama about legendary sex researchers Masters and Johnson…NOT one of those XXX flicks on the upper channels of cable) has really had my mind chewing about the idea of forgiveness.  In a scene where Bill Masters is talking with his mother about their interactions with Bill’s younger brother, Frank--a recovering alcoholic and AA member--they comment somewhat disdainfully about Frank’s way of being since he has become sober.  I don’t think any AA members are going to nominate the show for an Emmy based on the portrayal of AA, but Bill and Frank’s mother, Estabrook, says with contained emotion, “It’s like an accusation, dressed up as an apology,” when she speaks of Frank trying to make his amends to her.

Choose Hope

Walking through my neighbourhood this weekend, it’s clear that September has arrived.  Moving trucks everywhere, it’s a time when people are starting something new…a new school year, a new lease, and new routines after the dog days of summer have come and gone.  It’s a time of year that can be quite hopeful, and gives us time to reflect.  At the outset of any journey, we are often full of ideas about what will be, how we will be, and what will be different based on our past experiences.

Taking a Risk and Connecting

It’s a new year!  While 2014 has been mighty chilly here in Ottawa, the end of 2013 and the very beginning of this year gave me the warmth and good fortune of getting to spend time with many of my favourite people of all time, who don’t live here in O-town.  When I lived in Nova Scotia, I had a large community in a small town, and the friendships I made while there have been important ones that have endured beyond my move back to Ontario.
 
Over Thanksgiving, and again more recently when she was visiting me in Ottawa, a dear friend said to me, “Doesn’t it make you bananas to see all of us and know that you don’t live in Nova Scotia anymore?

It's Never A Waste of Time

The other day, a good friend sent me alinkto an article about “almost depression,” telling me that she thought this described her, and asking what I thought about it.  My friends and family are often hesitant to ask my opinion about psychological matters (“I don’t want to make you work on your off time!”), but the truth is that when it comes to my personal life, I’m never really able to be a “professional”—I make no bones about having my personal opinions and observations and share them.  So when my friend asked me for my opinion, I shared it, but it also got me thinking about this term, “almost depression.

The Good Intention Really Does Come Through

The other day I was talking with a new friend and colleague about research she’s interested in doing on youth and suicide.  We both marveled at the ways through which this can become a “risky” subject, and that even people or community groups who might have a vested interest in participating in and using this research may not feel ready for it.  The primary obstacle is often the idea that if you talk about suicide with someone who is already feeling on the edge, that conversation will propel them forward into action--especially if they are young people.

Celebrate

It’s graduation season!  I have a very dear friend who recently completed his master’s degree.  It was a long and difficult battle that took a great amount of work.  Of course I’m happy for him, and of course I want to honour him in some way, but it got me to thinking about what we choose to celebrate and make a big deal about vs. what we take for granted.
 
Getting a master’s degree is amazing!  Many people apply to programmes and don’t get in, and many people start programmes but don’t finish them (and many people don’t ever want a master’s degree, and that’s fine too—the point is, insert goal here).

Listening for Canaries

It’s taken me awhile to process Rehteah Parsons’ recent death.  It’s only been 6 months since Amanda Todd’s suicide.  It’s also been in recent history that a Nova Scotian teenager (“A.B.”) had to go to the Supreme Court of Canada to maintain her anonymity while taking legal action against peers who created a false Facebook page about her, intended to humiliate her.  WHAT IS GOING ON?  I mean, I got the memo years ago as a boy—we don’t value women or girls in our culture in the same way that we value boys—and perhaps it’s going to continue to require these kinds of tragedies and legal battles so that we can stop congratulating ourselves as a culture that we are a bias-free/discrimination-free equal society for everyone.
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Recent Posts

How Do I Do This All Day?
Don't Beat Yourself With The Gratitude Stick
Warning: Objects in Mirror are Handsomer Than They Appear
Forgiveness
Choose Hope

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