Category Archives: Ask Dan’s Mom

Ask Dan’s Mom, Pt. 9

Most Fridays, when I’m not too overwhelmed by work and life, I publish an exchange with my mother, Marilyn Smith — psychotherapist, anxiety expert, and genetic wellspring of my neuroses — about anxiety and anxiety disorders. Sometimes I forgo these exchanges and publish questions from readers, and my mom’s responses. If you have a question about anxiety you’d like me to share with my mother, please email me at dansmonkeymind@gmail.com. (Note: I reserve the right to edit submissions [delicately, lovingly] for grammar, length, etc.) 

Dear Dan’s Mom: I have been thinking about having my first child within the next year or so, but I’m anxious about weaning myself off of Klonopin (which is the only medication that truly helps me, after a decade of experimentation) and Neurontin (which was prescribed to me years ago for racing thoughts). Of course I will be doing this under medical supervision, but I was wondering if there was any general advice you could offer about going through the process. (more…)

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Ask Dan’s Mom, Pt. 8 (in which I freak out)

Most Fridays, when I’m not too overwhelmed by work and life, I publish an exchange with my mother, Marilyn Smith — psychotherapist, anxiety expert, and genetic wellspring of my neuroses — about anxiety and anxiety disorders. Sometimes I forgo these exchanges and publish questions from readers, and my mom’s responses. If you have a question about anxiety you’d like me to share with my mother, please email me at dansmonkeymind@gmail.com.

Dear Mom: It’s been a couple of weeks at least since we’ve corresponded about my anxiety. You’ve been fielding other people’s questions, and haranguing them to breathe. Frankly, it’s been nice to have someone else be the target for a while. But I thought I’d chime back in here because I’ve been pretty anxious again and could use your advice. You see, I’ve decided to go back into therapy. Cognitive therapy, to be specific. And it’s freaking me out. I don’t mean the anxiety is freaking me out. I mean being in therapy is freaking me out. (more…)

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“Ask Dan’s Mom” returns from vacation

After a short hiatus in which my mom went to Portland to visit my brother and I forgot to get her material in time, “Ask Dan’s Mom” returns with answers to four questions from anxious readers.

If you have a question about anxiety you’d like me to share with my mother, please email me at dansmonkeymind@gmail.com. (All questions will be posted anonymously.)

Part 1 of “Ask Dan’s Mom” here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here. Part 4 here. Part 5 here. Part 6 here.

Dear Dan’s Mom: I’ve been anxious most of my life, but didn’t have my first full blown panic attack until the age of nineteen, at which point I was put on Paxil and given Klonopin as needed. I continued to live life to the fullest until last year when a medical misdiagnosis sent me over the edge. My anxiety turned into an anxiety disorder. Even though I do CBT on a regular basis, I have developed a full-blown phobia/fear/belief that I’m going to develop schizophrenia. I’ve tried thought replacement, distraction … everything. And yet this is still something I fear on a regular basis. (I should mention that I don’t hear voices, I don’t think the world is plotting against me, I don’t see Jesus, etc.) How on earth can I start to work on breaking this fear down and getting rid of it Over the Edge

Dear Over the Edge: I  once led a group of “normal” folks with anxiety disorders who were mostly diagnosed with panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This was in the outpatient section of a major psychiatric hospital. (more…)

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“Ask Dan’s Mom” Goes Public

Every Friday I publish a new exchange with my mother, Marilyn Smith — psychotherapist, anxiety expert, and genetic wellspring of my neuroses — about anxiety, anxiety disorders, and anxiety treatments.

The series “Ask Dan’s Mom” has now been opened to questions from readers. If you have a question about anxiety you’d like me to share with my mother, please email me at dansmonkeymind@gmail.com.

Part 1 of “Ask Dan’s Mom” here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here. Part 4 here. Part 5 here.

Hi Mom.  I hope you’ve had a good week. I still have a lot I want to talk to you about regarding my own anxiety, but I’ve been getting a lot of questions for you from the outside. People want your sage advice! Are you willing to give it? Can I start sharing your wisdom with the world?

Hi Dan. It was actually a pretty awful week. There was a fire in my office! Can you believe it? My whole side of the building got burned down! All of my files, thank goodness, survived. But still, very stressful. I had to take lots of slow deep breaths to keep myself calm. I know — I’m still trying to pitch the benefits of the breathing. But that’s only because it works so well. To answer your question: yes! I’m ready and willing to help out your fellow anxiety sufferers. So let’s get started.

*****

Dear Dan’s Mom: I keep waking up at 4:00 in the morning. Not always from anxiety (sometimes I just need to use the bathroom), but then my mind starts racing and I can’t fall back asleep. (more…)

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Ask Dan’s Mom, Pt. 5 (in which things get personal)

Every Friday I publish a new exchange with my mother, Marilyn Smith — psychotherapist, anxiety expert, and genetic wellspring of my neuroses — about anxiety, anxiety disorders, and anxiety treatments.

The series “Ask Dan’s Mom” will soon be opened to questions from readers. If you have a question about anxiety you’d like me to share with my mother, please email me at dansmonkeymind@gmail.com.

Part 1 of “Ask Dan’s Mom” here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here. Part 4 here.

Hey MomI was planning to continue our conversation about therapeutic breathing techniques — I was supposed to practice Step Two before we moved on to Step Three — but to be honest I’m not prepared. It’s been a lousy week. A lot of anxiety. A lot of tension and thoughts of things falling apart and anxiety-induced fatigue. I hate when this happens, and probably I should have been especially dedicated to the breathing this week. But it never seems to work that way. The more anxious I get, the more despairing I get, and the more despairing I get the less motivated I am to work on my anxiety. Probably this is something you hear a lot from your patients.

Dan, my gut Jewish mother reaction is to make a big pot of chicken soup and drive it over to your place. (more…)

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Ask Dan’s Mom, Pt. 4

Every Friday I ask my mother, Marilyn Smith — psychotherapist, anxiety expert, and genetic wellspring of my neuroses — some questions about anxiety, anxiety disorders, and anxiety treatments.

The series “Ask Dan’s Mom” will soon be opened to questions from readers. If you have a question about anxiety you’d like me to share with my mother, please email me at dansmonkeymind@gmail.com.

Part 1 of “Ask Dan’s Mom” here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here.

Hi, Mom. How was your week? How’s Bennie [her dog; see Pt. 3]? Has he stopped throwing up?

Good morning! Thanks for checking up on Bennie. He’s been fine, although for some reason he still gets carsick. Luckily this doesn’t make him throw up, just drool … a lot. I gave him some Dramamine but it didn’t help. The vet said I could try Xanax next. (more…)

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Ask Dan’s Mom, Pt. 3

Every Friday I ask my mother, Marilyn Smith — psychotherapist, anxiety expert, and genetic wellspring of my neuroses — some questions about anxiety, anxiety disorders, and anxiety treatments.

The series “Ask Dan’s Mom” will continue as a one-on-one correspondence for a little while — until my mother and I exhaust the conversation or she gets pissed at me, whichever comes first. At that point, I’ll open the floor to questions from readers, thus turning the series into a new breed of advice column: Dear Abby for Neurotics. If you have a question about anxiety you’d like me to share with my mother, please email me at dansmonkeymind@gmail.com.

Part 1 of “Ask Dan’s Mom” here. Part 2 here.

Hi, Mom. I hope you’ve had a good week, and that Bennie [her dog, short for “Benzodiazepine”] has stopped throwing up. I’d like to continue along in the same vein as our last round. We talked about the many anxiety treatment options that are out there but we didn’t talk specifically about psychotherapy. I think a lot of people who feel anxious or panicky seek out therapy but don’t know what kind of therapy is best. Do you have an opinion on this?

Funny you should mention Bennie. He just threw up again (this time yellow bile!) and I’m getting worried that he may be sick. (more…)

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Ask Dan’s Mom, Pt. 2

Every Friday I ask my mother, Marilyn Smith — psychotherapist, anxiety expert, and genetic wellspring of my neuroses — some questions about anxiety, anxiety disorders, and anxiety treatments.

The series “Ask Dan’s Mom” will continue as a one-on-one correspondence for a little while — until my mother and I exhaust the conversation or she gets pissed at me, whichever comes first. At that point, I’ll open the floor to questions from readers, thus turning the series into a new breed of advice column: Dear Abby for Neurotics. If you have a question about anxiety you’d like me to share with my mother, please email me at dansmonkeymind@gmail.com.

Part 1 of “Ask Dan’s Mom” here.

Good morning, Mom. In last week’s exchange, you mentioned that a tendency toward anxiety may be caused by “the way you were brought up by your parents.” I know that you’ve had a hard week, what with Grandma being sick, so I’m going to let that one pass. For now, let’s talk about treatment. One thing that’s always confused me about anxiety is what exactly to do about it. There are so many treatment options, from medication to psychotherapy to meditation to acupuncture to I don’t know what else: sweat lodges? religious conversion? coffee enemas? What would you say to someone who perplexed by all these offerings?

Thanks for going easy on me this week, sweetheart — though now you’ve got me nervous about future installments!… To begin with, I know how scary it is to feel anxious and to have no clue about where to turn for help. (more…)

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Ask Dan’s Mom, Part 1

The lovely woman shown here is my mother, Marilyn Smith. Marilyn/Mom is a psychotherapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. Which means that she was first a human being who suffered from anxiety. That, after all, is usually why people become therapists: because first they were patients. You like the smell of paint, you become a painter. You’re scared that the fumes from an open can of paint are going to give you leukemia, you become a shrink.

My mom and I have an interesting relationship. It’s a very Jewish relationship, I think, in that we are capable of loudly denouncing each other and then hugging and laughing as if nothing ever happened. (Every meeting is like the dinner scene in Annie Hall.) I attribute a great deal of my anxiety to my mother, simply on genetic grounds. There are other grounds, too, which I cover in Monkey Mind under the heading “Hurricane Marilyn.” But here the most important thing to note about my mother is her remarkable and invaluable expertise. I have never in my life met someone who knows more about anxiety, both clinically and personally, than she. (more…)

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