WHY A DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY CONSULTANT COULD BE THE KEY TO RECOVERING

Are you still feeling low?  Still feeling anxious?  It may have nothing to do with you, and everything to do with the treatments being offered to you.  Believe it or not, having a personal health careconsultant on your treatment team could make the difference.

Research shows that up to 70 percent of people being treated for depression have still not recovered three months later.  One study found that only 22 percent of those treated for depression by their primary care doctors were rid of their symptoms.

In the case of anxiety, the most optimistic assessments (PsychiatryAdvisor) estimate the percentage of those who do not respond to the usual treatments at 30 percent.

Experts believe, however, that a huge part of the problem with not recovering from depression and anxiety may be due to causes of these symptoms that go undiscovered by health care providers or effective treatments that are never offered.  This is why a personal depression and anxiety consultant could be critically important.

 

WHAT IS AN A DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY CONSULTANT?

 A depression and anxiety consultant is a combination coach and researcher who is extremely knowledgeable about your particular symptoms of depression or anxiety (or both) and who is also very knowledgeable about the variety of treatments available to make those symptoms go away. He or she would interview you and maintain contact with you, review your medical records, make you aware of treatment choices that may have been overlooked in your case and even potentially communicate with your psychiatrist or psychologist to help access new and effective forms of treatment.

 

WHAT AREAS MIGHT A DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY CONSULTANT FOCUS ON?

Here is just a sampling of areas commonly overlooked by mental health care providers:

 

  • An underlying medical illness (such as a thyroid condition or sleep apnea or Lyme Disease causing low mood or anxiety).
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies causing low mood or anxiety (and comprehensive ways to test for such deficiencies).
  • Genetic testing to determine if certain antidepressants or anti-anxiety agents are less likely to work for you.
  • Newer antidepressant/antianxiety medications that are superior.
  • The benefits of certain vitamin supplements that can be as effective as antidepressants or can addto their effectiveness.
  • The availability of newer technologies to treat depression and anxiety, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (Brainsway), bright light therapy and ketamine infusion therapy (Neuragain).
  • The availability of home devices to help treat depression.

 

Here’s one of my own client’s experiences, changing the name and some demographic information, of course, for anonymity’s sake:

George was a 32-year-old man who had experienced severe symptoms of major depression for the past 3 years.  His psychiatrist and psychologist had tried a combination of medications and psychotherapy, but George’s symptoms persisted.

When I was asked to work on his case (not as his doctor, but as his personal consultant), I immediately noted that the four antidepressants that had been tried in George’s case were all very similar, pharmacologically.  They all affected the serotonin system in the brain, but left the norepinephrine system largely untouched.  I raised the issue of trying a newer antidepressant that would increase the activity of bothneurotransmitters.

Before any change would be made, however, I made his psychiatrist aware of Genesight testing which would be able to determine if the new medicine was one that George would metabolize properly.

George improved, somewhat, on the newer antidepressant (which was among those cleared by the Genesight test), but he still wasn’t 100 percent.  That’s when I made his psychiatrist aware of the role that curcumin can play in alleviating depression.  Adding curcumin was helpful to George, as well.

Finally, in George’s case, his psychiatrist agreed with me that trying bright light therapy could impact George’s symptoms. And once George added that simple technology to his regimen, he rated his mood at 90 percent.

I also noted that George had never been tested for Lyme Disease and that he had no MRI on file.  His psychiatrist and internal medicine doctors ordered those tests. Luckily, the tests were normal.

Here’s the bottom line:  The number of patients who are being treated inadequately, despite the availability of very effective treatments for depression and anxiety is staggering.  So, when months or years pass without improvement, or without complete improvement, investing in a personal depression and anxiety consultant can make all the difference in the world.

If you or a loved one needs me as a depression and anxiety consultant (or a consultant on any psychological/psychiatric disorder), simply contact me at [email protected] or call

978-462-1125.

 

Keith Ablow, MD

Founder, The Ablow Center

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EXPLAINING EMOTIONAL PAIN IS NOT COMPLAINING

Do you think it means you’re weak if you share your pain?  You’re not alone.  Some of my counseling and coaching clients are stoic types who are very hesitant to connect the painful, early chapters of their life stories with the difficulties they are encountering in the present.  They don’t want anyone to think they’re making excusesfor their current struggles with mood or anxiety or relationships or a profession.  Even when they survived cruelty or abandonment or experienced very significant losses as children or adolescents, lots of people have told me they feel like they’re complaining if they make a connection between the trouble back thenand the trouble right now.

Well, here’s the truth:  It takes courage to connect the dots and trace your current struggles back to their roots.  It isn’t complaining about what you now face.  It’s part of explainingwhat you now face.

Here are some examples:

  • A man in his 40s had trouble figuring out why he was risk-averse and had passed up some very good opportunities that weren’t “sure things.” Amazingly, he never connected his reluctance to take risks with the fact that his father had passed away shortly after starting a business with two of his friends when my client was just 10 years old.  For my client, being bold was connected with death—literally.  Once we made that connection, he felt like a massive resistor had been removed from his decision-making process.  We had explained his fear of any risk.

 

  • A woman in her late 30s had married one weak man after another. Three short-lived marriages ended when she realized she was more like a parent in the relationships than a spouse.  She never connected her choice of men to the fact that her father was domineering man who unduly influenced her career path, among other things.  She wasn’t likely to ever risk being in a family with another powerful man, so she chose weak ones—until we explainedher choices by connecting the past with the present.

 

  • A woman felt her mood and energy plummet when her daughter turned 11. She was the CEO of a bank and had to take a leave of absence.  She hadn’t considered the fact that her sadness at losing one of her best friends when shewas just 11-years-old was being rekindled by her daughter reaching that age.  Once we explainedher sadness and fatigue by connecting the past with the present, they began to go away.

 

Explaining isn’t complaining.  It’s the opposite.  Only strong people are willing to do the hard work of connecting early life experiences with the ones that are troubling them today.  And the strength to do so pays big dividends, because it frees people to live powerfully in the present, rather than being hostage to the past.

There’s a very good reason to explain the roots of your recurring or chronic emotional pain, by the way.  Eventually, if you don’t, it will become debilitating.  The walls we build psychologically to keep our pain under wraps may start out as the walls of a fortress, but they always end up as the walls of a prison that keeps us away from our best intentions, most ambitious goals and capacity to love ourselves and others.

The idea that if you revisit troubling pages from your early history that you will become stuck there also is a myth. Revisiting them allows you to move past them.  Until you do, those pages will be your future, too.

Remember, human beings don’t really connect with other people by sharing all of their triumphs.  They connect with other human beings by being willing to share their struggles.  And you can’t really share what you’ve survived and how you’ve thrived, amidst adversity, if you can’t bear to look back at the earlier chapters in your life story for what they really were.

For anyone who wants to delve deeper into these topics, two of the books I wrote address them:

And, as always, for anyone who wants to take overcome today’s challenges and set the stage for tomorrow’s successes, contact me at [email protected].

 

Keith Ablow, MD

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MY FIRST DAY PROVIDING FREE CARE FOR VETERANS THROUGH #HELP22

Friday, November 22 was the first day I devoted to #HELP22, the initiative I started with Commander Kirk Lippold USN (Ret) and public relations professional Christian Josi. #HELP22 is our response to this startling and tragic fact:  As many as twenty-two veterans take their own lives every day.

I pledged to spend the 22ndof each month providing counseling to any veteran, free of charge.  As we build #HELP22, my hope is that other counselors, life coaches, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and clergy members around the country will do the same.  We plan to recruit them and organize them.

On Friday, I spoke with veterans from multiple branches of the armed forces, and I was humbled by what I heard.  These individuals devoted themselves to our freedom, despite the gravest of risks. Many of us can’t imagine leaving our loved ones, leaving the country and putting our lives on the line to defend freedom, but these individuals did just that.  They lost dear friends who fought alongside them.  They bore witness to acts of violence that, thankfully, most of us will never have to confront.  They were themselves injured.  They saw civilians killed by the enemy—especially civilians who aided our cause for freedom.

Not one person I spoke to on Friday asked for any sympathy, by the way.  There was not one ounce of self-pity expressed.  None.  They simply wanted to be heard.  They wanted to share the roots of their pain, not to complain about it, but to explain it.   Because that opens the door to the workings of human empathy.  And empathy, properly harnessed, is one of the greatest healing forces in the world.

When you are a good and decent person and your self-concept is that of a leader, and you inevitably lose men under your command, it can cut you to the core.  And the bleeding from that psychological wound can be hard to stop. But witnessing it, as a fellow human being trained in the listening arts, can begin to heal it.

When you are so heroic that you are willing to live in a Vietnamese village, alongside American sympathizers and then learn that, after your departure, the village has been burned to the ground by the enemy, and that dozens have been killed, you need someone to hear you out.  Because your story is too much to carry in your own soul, alone.

The fact that the men and women who risked their lives doing the work of defending America and her allies should find themselves in such desperation that they take their own lives is a cruel irony.  #HELP22 will never be, of course, a complete solution to veteran suicide.  But I know that every single hour I devote to listening to the stories of our heroes has the potential to remind one of them that another human being values what he or she sacrificed for me and my family and my fellow citizens and also understands—at a basic, human level—the resulting psychological wounds.

 

Keith Ablow, MD

Dr. Keith Ablow is a counselor, life coach and co-founder of #HELP22, which he started with Commander Kirk Lippold, USN (Ret) and public relations professional Christian Josi. Dr. Ablow was, for 10 years, a Fox News Channel national on-air Contributor and member of the Fox News Medical A Team.  Any veteran who wishes to schedule an appointment for the next #HELP22 day, on December 22, should email [email protected].

 

 

 

 

 

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A NEW BOOK ON HOW TO—LITERALLY—STAND UP TO DEPRESSION (Achieve Good Posture and Trigger Better Mood)

So much has been written about the mind-body connection—and rightfully so.  It now seems obvious that our psychological state affects the function not only of the central nervous system, but the heart and every organ in the body.  Diseases from cancer to multiple sclerosis to hypertension, and everything in between, demonstrate undeniable links to depression, emotional trauma and unresolved, underlying anger.

We are lucky to have recognized the ways that yoga can stave off dementia and the ways that meditation can increase longevity.

Too little, however, has been written about the mirror image of the mind-body connection—the body-mind connection.  Yet we do know that correcting bodily abnormalities can correct emotional ones.  Certainly, exercise can improve mood, but that isn’t half the story.  We are learning incredible ways in which one’s psychological equilibrium can be optimized by optimizing one’s physical equilibrium.

Simply put, developing physical balance is linked to developing emotional balance. This is not theory, anymore; it is fact.  One example:  Botox, which prevents the brow from furrowing when we worry, also seems to short-circuit worry itself. When we relax the muscles that contract too powerfully when we are over-wrought, the mind seems to relax, too.

Another example:  Probiotics that alter bacterial colonization of the gut can insulate the mind from profound highs and lows of mood.

These examples are just the beginning.  Our bodily state influences our mental state in myriad ways.

Now, physical therapist Kathi Fairbend, MS, RPT is adding a crucial contribution.  Her new book,  Stand Up to Depression makes the simple, elegant and powerful point that correcting one’s posture can literally pave the way to elevating one’s mood.

As Fairbend makes plain, if you teach yourself to stand up like a person who isn’t depressed, you will be in a better position (quite literally) to become a person who isn’t depressed.

Think about it:  If using Botox to block the contractions of a few muscles in one’s forehead can treat depression, imagine what can happen when (with the help of Ms. Fairbend’s book) you learn to stand up to depression, stop slouching, walk confidently and plant your feet firmly on the ground.  Dozens of your muscles will resonate with your intention to stand up straight in life, shoulder your troubles and refuse the negative feedback that comes from inadvertently bending an ankle or buckling a knee, with every step you take.

Depression is insidious.  It hobbles its victims mentally, but also physically.  Reverse the physical decline, and it helps to reverse the mental decline.

I was lucky enough to consult to Ms. Fairbend as she wrote her groundbreaking book through my company Keith Ablow Creative. I have had a front row seat to the birth of a new specialty of physical therapy—physical therapy for the mind.   And I can envision a time when, with Ms. Fairbend’s help, thousands of physical therapists will treat hundreds of thousands of patients who come to them not only for help with joints and muscles and bones, but for help with depression and anxiety.

For now, that help can come directly from Ms. Fairbend’s book.  Stand Up to Depression stands alone as the way that people can tap into the brilliance of (as I see it) America’s leading physical therapist, a woman whose entire life’s work makes her uniquely qualified to take her readers on a bold new path of healing.

 

Keith Ablow, MD

Founder, The Ablow Center and Keith Ablow Creative

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ONE QUESTION THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE

There are lots of people out there who need a bit of encouragement.  And, sometimes, just one thought can turn the tide in favor of fighting a little harder or having a bit more hope.  So I’m going to let you in on one question I share with clients of mine who seem ready to throw in the towel and give up on themselves.

HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED THAT NO ONE WALKS OUT OF A MOVIE JUST BECAUSE THE LEAD CHARACTER IS IN TROUBLE?

Think about that. When a character played by Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts or Will Smith is up against it, when everything seems to be spiraling out of control in that person’s life, do you see anyone mutter, “Well, looks like he’s screwed, let’s go,” then get up and head for the exit? No.  That would be ridiculous, right?  Everyone stays in his or her seat, thinking, “I wonder what’s going to happen.” Or, “How’s she going to overcome this trouble?”  Or people look at their watches, expectantly wondering how everything is going to turn in favor of the lead character before the film ends.

One of the only times we are vulnerable to walking out on an unfolding narrative, losing faith that everything can still turn out for the best, is when the story is our own—when we are the lead characters. That’s when we are at risk to stand up and walk right out of the theatre.

I’ve had those feelings.  I’m human.  Recently, I had to deal with multiple bizarre lawsuits (which were all resolved, thank God) and then go to court and listen to a woman claim I was stalking her (a claim the judge, thank God, threw right out of court).  Watching all that unfold was like watching a double feature of horror films.

But I’m here to tell you that it makes no more sense to walk out on our own possibilities for victory and redemption than it does to walk out on those of a lead character in a film.  As long as we are living and breathing, as long as there is time left on the clock counting down our days on this planet, we have every reason to believe that we can still triumph over adversity.  The necessary ingredient is belief—faith.  Because faith insulates us from despair and fuels the fight inside us.  With faith, all is possible.

Are you feeling like walking out on your potential? On your dreams?  On your family?  On your sobriety?  God forbid, on your life?  I am telling you this, with unwavering certainty:  If you can at least resolve to stay in your seat and take an interest in the evolving narrative of your own existence, leaving the door open to every possibility, then you will be restored.

Now, let me tell you a secret (and if you already knew it, all the better): You can actually create your own storyline through the miracle of intention.  You can resolve that events turn in your favor, just like a screenwriter would script the triumph of a lead character in a film. And your resolve will make it so.

Keith Ablow, MD

Dr. Keith Ablow is the Founder of The Ablow Center.

 

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Moses: Personal Empowerment Personified

In the Book of Exodus, Moses encounters a burning bush that was engulfed in flames and, yet, not consumed by them.  It is here that God anoints Moses to go to the Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of slavery, to the Promised Land.

You may not have applied the story to your own life, but it is the very essence of personal empowerment.  Here’s why I think it is worth internalizing:  Moses is quick to tell God why he isn’t the right person for the job.  After all, he’s slow of speech and has personal flaws. But God reassures Moses that he is doubting the immeasurable force that gave him a voice, to begin with, and which now calls him to greatness.  When Moses asks by what name he should call God when he visits the Pharaoh, God tells him (roughly translated) that His name is “I am who I am.”

The point is that Moses has a great journey before him and a great calling.  Both have been put in his heart by God.  It matters not that he isn’t glib.  It matters not that he is imperfect.  It matters that he shows faithenough to believe in his heart that he can achieve a great and worthy mission.

 

Imperfections Are Not Stop Signs

You aren’t perfect, either.  You have likely lived through turbulent chapters of your own life story. You may have fallen short and erred, more than once in life.  But the key is still finding the faith to stay on the road to your destiny—the work you were meant to do in this world, from all time.  Said another way, the key to personal empowerment is faith.

W.H. Murray, the famed Scottish mountaineer and writer who served as deputy to Eric Shipton on the Everest Reconnaissance Expedition of 1951, put it this way:

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:  that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves, too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would not otherwise have occurred.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have dreamed would come his way.  I have learned a deep respect for Goethe’s couplets:  “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it.  Begin it now.”

 

Your Personal Empowerment Serves You and the Rest of the World

In The Seven Wonders(which I co-authored with Glenn Beck), we wrote about the notion of a polestar, which is spoken of in Hinduism, Taoism, Chinese popular religion, Siberian shamanism and other spiritual traditions.  This star, in direct line with the earth’s axis of rotation, is thought of as the anchor of the entire solar system.  And in ancient Vedic wisdom, the polestar is literally Dhruva—a prince who, at age seven, sought out God, despite being told he was too young for such a quest.  He is undaunted, ultimately meets God and is rewarded with his kingdom’s throne.

Glenn and I wrote, “In this sense, the entire universe, according to Vedism, can revolve around one person’s inner resolve to find truth and pursue his or her destiny.”

One of my favorite books is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.  In that book he writes, [If you avoid your calling] “you shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.”

Sure, that sounds like pretty heady stuff.  But it is true whether you teach students with passion, defend legal clients with excellence, write in a way that moves people, heal others through your work in a health profession or inspire children as their mother or father, grandmother or grandfather.

 

Personal Empowerment and The Ablow Center

The blend of spiritual counseling, life coaching and mentoring I offer to clients is designed to find and harness inner resolve—to deliver personal empowerment to clients, no matter the ways in which they may feel limited, no matter the hurdles they may have encountered, no matter how many times they may have tripped and fallen.  All of those challenges are actually part of a person’s singular life story, which is part of a greater plan to hone that person for the important journey ahead.

In a very real way we are all Moses.  We may doubt ourselves.  We may doubt our callings.  But the self is miraculous and our callings are gifts from a higher power.  We need only to believe.

 

Keith Ablow

 

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WHY TALKING TO YOURSELF ISN’T CRAZY

Somehow, the idea of talking to yourself got a bad reputation as a sign of mental instability.  Think of the television stereotype of the afflicted fellow mumbling to himself at the bus stop. But the truth is that talking to yourself can be a very powerful way to fight anxiety and depression and set the stage for extraordinary personal empowerment.

 

Who’s Listening, Anyhow? 

The reason that talking to yourself can be so powerful is that none of us is just the person we see in the mirror today—with the social skills we have honed, the financial resources we have at hand and a maturity level consistent with being an adult.  In nearly every one of us resides a less well-adjusted self which is still struggling with the disappointments, fears and pain of childhood.  And that self can feel very isolated and alone, because we tend to want to bury it or build thick walls around it.  Let’s call that part of you “the struggling self.”

 

The Struggling Self Often Has No Voice, But It Never Stays Quiet Forever

The struggling self is usually banished from consciousness because all of us want to feel strong.  So we hide the part of us that really feels the full weight of being bullied or unloved—or worse.  We hide it from others and we hide it from ourselves.  And then we push it further and further away using all manner of shields—accumulating power or wealth or being seductive or overeating or drinking too much alcohol or using too much marijuana.

Deprived of being heard, relegated to an echo chamber deep inside us, the struggling self communicates its plight through a lexicon of feelings like anxiety, depression and irritability.

 

We May Refuse to Listen to the Struggling Self, But It Will Listen to Us

When we experience unwieldy feelings of anxiety, or disturbing feelings of depression, or destabilizing anger, one way to overcome them is to identify the most vulnerable time period we’ve lived through—perhaps when we lost someone close to us in childhood, or perhaps when we were powerless to stop someone from hurting us—and literally talk out loud to that younger, more vulnerable self.

What words might you use?  Here’s an example:  Think about a woman in her 50s whose youngest child is leaving for college.  She’s feeling something more intense than empty-nest syndrome, though.  She feels panicked.  And she’s able to identify her father leaving her mother, when she was just 11-years-old, as the source of some of her distress.  She might talk out loud to that younger part of herself and say something like, “Listen, I know I haven’t been willing to think about what you went through when Dad left the house.  You were eleven.  I get it. It had to make you feel completely panicked.  And, then, Dad seemed to stay away forever.  Well, I promise to take the time to go through those feelings with you, to really explore them and listen to them.  And I want to try to comfort you and make you know I care about you.  What might help you out?  What do you need?  Time to think.  Time to walk. Time to read?”

Believe or not, the part of the woman that hasn’t healed since age 11 can hear that kindness and be reassured by it.  And that can be the beginning of reduced anxiety and increased mood.

 

Figure Out How Your Struggling Self Got Created

Each of us who struggles with low mood or anxiety or, for that matter, obsessiveness or problems paying attention, should spend the time to try to discern how the part of ourselves causing this trouble got created and left behind.  Unearthing that storyline is necessary to make the upcoming, healing chapters possible.

 

Need to Be Introduced?

Sometimes it helps to have someone skilled at helping to uncover the struggling self, to define how he or she got created and left behind, and to then make real, healing contact with it.  That’s where a counselor or therapist comes in.  And getting one to make a proper introduction of you to your struggling self will be one of the best investments you ever make.

 

Keith Ablow, MD

Founder, The Ablow Center

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Rebirth In This Lifetime

Rebirth is not something I associate only with life after death, nor only with the Christian notion of being “born again.” I see rebirth happening in my counseling clients’ lives all the time, as they achieve new understandings of the ways in which earlier chapters in their life histories have unconsciously limited them and then begin to choose directions in life that are truer to them. This awakening to the self is often profound enough to constitute a rebirth in this lifetime.

 

The Self is Sacred

Each of us is imbued by God or the universe with thoughts, feelings, opinions, dreams and goals that constitute our inner self. This means each of us as has a unique purpose in life and unique potentials.  That fact is nothing short of miraculous.

Seldom does a person realize his or her deepest purpose and most powerful potential without false starts, detours, periods of underperforming and other periods of significant, sometimes profound, struggle or pain.  All of these, however, can set the stage for a rebirth as an individual far truer to his or her core self.

 

Adversity and the Self

It is often, in fact, through adversity that rebirth of the self becomes possible.  Success is wonderful, but generally leads to more cycles of sameness. Human beings don’t tend to change what they are doing, when they are being rewarded for doing it.  When we encounter storms in life, however, we have the chance, sometimes at the edge of utter darkness, to reach deep into our core selves and not only survive, but discover our most pure and powerful paths forward.

It is often when our backs are to the wall that we discover levels of courage we didn’t realize we had inside us.  It is often when our finances falter that we finally choose the richness of our true career intentions.  It is sometimes when our relationships are most challenged that we can finally feel the love that has quietly sustained them, all along.

 

Waiting for Rebirth

When we encounter trials in life, it can feel as though the sun is in perpetual eclipse.  But this is never the case.  The sun always, always reemerges, often illuminating a renewed individual, with more wisdom and with more clarity about how to live life more honestly and completely.  Having faith that this process is underway is what allows a person in a “dark night of the soul” to keep his or her eyes open for new chapters of his or her life story.

According to the Bible (Isaiah 43: 18-19), “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

 

Finding a Guide through the Dark

It can be tremendously helpful to find someone to help navigate the winding road that leads to rebirth.  This is the terrain of psychologists, psychiatrists, pastoral counselors, life coaches and clergy.  In the best cases, any of these professionals are searching for their clients’ true selves.  Because then a non-fiction narrative of that person’s life, going forward, can be visualized and internalized and actualized.  And, for all intents and purposes, a person who comes to be in command of his or her non-fiction story—a story he or she was meantto live out—is a person who has undergone rebirth in this lifetime.

 

Keith Ablow, MD

Founder, The Ablow Center

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THE BEST FEDEX DELIVERY, EVER

It was not a good day, in a string of not very good days. I had been battling a series of bizarre legal cases that had made headlines and were weighing me down.  I wish I could say, otherwise, but I’m not entirely immune to worrying about what others think of me, even when I know the truth, so I found myself wondering if I would be held in contempt by most everyone in my home town, until I could make all the facts known.  And that could take years.

I was literally burdened by these very thoughts when the doorbell to my office rang.  I looked out the windows atop my front door and saw a Fedex hat.  I had a delivery.

Now, I can tell you that the specter of overnight mail, in the midst of legal cases, pleases no one, and I am no exception.  I imagine I looked something between burdened and burnt out when I opened the door.  “Hi,” I managed.

The fellow at my door had been to my office plenty of times with plenty of packages, and we’d had just a bit of time to chat about news headlines.  He had known that I had been a Fox News Contributor for a decade, and I had learned he had a keen interest in media. “Hi,” he said.

I searched his hands to see whether it was a Fedex letter he was delivering, which I would have assumed to be nothing good.  A package, on the other hand, might be nutrition bars, to which I am, for all intents and purposes, addicted.  But he didn’t seem to be holding anything at all. I looked at him.  “Need a hand with something from the truck?” I asked.

“No,” he said.  “I don’t have a delivery for you.  I just wanted to check in to make sure you’re doing alright.”

Those words reached something deep inside me, at the level of the soul.  Because I was on the ropes and wondering whether most folks had written me off, and this man had come to my door to check on me.  We weren’t family.  We weren’t even what the world would consider friends.  But we had obviously established an extraordinary connection, though we had exchanged relatively few words, on relatively few occasions.  And if that is not evidence of the fundamental decency of human beings, connected by the Universe, or by God, or by whatever you might like to call the immeasurable force that binds us, inexorably, one to another, then I don’t know what is.

I got choked up, but I think I did a good job of hiding it.  “I’m fighting the good fight,” I said.  I didn’t want to meet his kindness with just bravado, so I added, “Hey, it’s not an easy time, you know?”

“Oh, I know,” he said, looking straight at me.  “That’s why I figured I would stop by and let you know that these things pass.  You have a lot of people in this town who appreciate what you’ve done for them.”

“Thank you,” I said.  I thought of extending my hand to shake his, but that seemed as though it would be awkward.  I even thought of inviting him in for coffee, but that seemed even more awkward.

He must have intuited my discomfort.  “I’ve got to get the deliveries out,” he said. “You hang in there.  I’ll see you soon.  You’re always getting something or other.”

“Okay,” I said.  “Thanks, Man.”

He nodded, turned and walked back toward his truck.

I closed the door.  The challenges I was facing were no less substantial than they had been minutes ago.  But my view of the world in which I would meet those challenges was brighter than it had been. And my sense that I had the Almighty by my side for the journey was stronger, too.

Keith Ablow, MD

 

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Human Beings as Works of Art

In my view, being human means having the capacity to experience and to give love (often, through a miracle called human empathy) and to reason and make choices. It also means having the opportunity to embrace the truth about oneself, including one’s life story, back to its early chapters, in order to make sense of the effects these chapters have had upon one’s psyche and soul. As human beings we then have the remarkable potential to change and become more truthful, more intuitive, more loving, more creative and more successful. None of this would be possible, in my opinion, without human beings having a spiritual core—a miraculous internal self. You may see that core as a gift from the universe or a gift from Nature or a gift from God.

But, it is a gift.

I see every human being as a masterpiece, in the making. No work of art is created without new brushstrokes being added, or wise edits being made, or without the willingness to believe that one has a destiny to fulfill.

I once purchased a beautiful painting of a man and woman dancing together at sunset, in an apartment bathed by the last light of the day. Before I bought it, I looked at the back of the canvas, where the artist had written in pen, “2002-2005-2010-2015.” I asked him what the years meant.

“Those are the years I went back to the painting, to finish it,” he said.

“Is it finished now?” I asked.

“It is if you buy it,” he said. “Otherwise, I’ll probably keep at it.”

So it is with the art of living. We never finish the work of becoming the people we were meant to be, from all time. But every day is an opportunity to get closer and closer to that spectacular goal.

Being human allows for the ultimate transformation of one’s life story, because each of us is on a unique and important path in life. My work is helping a client find that path and find the stability, commitment and courage to travel it.

Keith Ablow, MD

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