The Focus On You

Self-Care Is A Lifestyle

Category: Mental Health (page 1 of 12)

Codependency: A Dysfunctional Love Story

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A hypothetical story about two fictional characters to help illustrate the dangers of codependent relationships.


Minnie – The Codependent  

Alicia – Minnie’s girlfriend

Minnie and Alicia have been in a monogamous relationship for 3 years. They met at a nightclub and instantly hit it off. Alicia gave a sob story over a few beers that night about her recent woes. Alicia and Minnie both happened to be fresh out of relationships and didn’t intend on hooking up with anyone that night.

Minnie fought with her better judgment and immediately started dating Alicia. (1st Red Flag). She admitted that she really needed time to heal from her last relationship and truly didn’t want to be alone. (2nd Red Flag). Minnie never really gave herself space between relationships to lick her wounds or adjust to being single. (#3).

Alicia was a bit of a hot mess when she started dating Minnie. Her finances were a wreck, she had been kicked out by her last 2 roommates and her parents were tired of her drama. Minnie felt compelled to “rescue” Alicia and figured she could help her get back on her feet. She had always been the more “stable” person in her relationships and thought she would be a good influence on her.

Their relationship was great for the 1st year and Alicia found a steady job as a barista near their apartment. Oh, did I forget to mention that Alicia moved in 2 months after they met? (#4).

Nevertheless, they forged a strong relationship, met each other’s parents and hung out with Alicia’s friends almost every weekend. Little did Minnie know that Alicia was horrible with budgeting. She attempted to hide calls from loan companies and still owed her old roommates for utility bills.

Minnie was starting to bury her own secrets as well. As she was helping Alicia rebuild her credit (and her life), Minnie’s credit card bills weren’t being paid on time. She was afraid to say “no” whenever Alicia asked for a loan or asked to cover their check at dinner. (#5) Minnie had a laundry list of complaints that she never talked about with her girlfriend. Alicia would throw guilt trips if Minnie said “maybe” to anything and never showed appreciation for all the times that Minnie helped her out. Minnie secretly wished that Alicia would get a better paying job to help with their debt. Plus, Minnie felt taken advantage of at work because everyone dropped their projects on her desk.

Minnie had so many needs and wishes that no one asked about. She wanted to visit her family this Christmas, go to the beach over the summer, cut back on hosting functions at their apartment and spend more time doing self-care. It felt like Alicia was running her whole life. When she thought of the alternative, being alone, she shook off her resentment (Huge Red Flag) and tucked her feelings deeper into her soul.

Alicia commented one time that Minnie didn’t seem her old “happy” self and the only time she communicated with her was through anger. Minnie admitted that the only way she could be heard was if she yelled. She didn’t have anyone to talk to because most of Minnie’s friends were dealing with their own drama and wouldn’t bother to listen.

As a matter of fact, Minnie realized she couldn’t really lean on anyone because she was considered the “rock.” (Red Flag). Heaven forbid if Minnie had a problem! She was the one who saved everyone else! (That’s a red flag too but I lost count).

Sound familiar???

So why is this considered “dangerous?”

Anytime someone loses a sense of self or loses their voice, it can easily spiral to a mental health crisis or crappy coping skills (Drinking, drugs, excessive spending, unhealthy eating behaviors, risky sexual patterns, etc). Supporting someone means that you shouldn’t suffer financially, emotionally, spiritually, legally or physically. Minnie appeared to be dragged down and wasn’t speaking up to set limits with her partner.

Open communication and respect are essential in any relationship – intimate partners, parents and children, siblings, work relationships. Taking advantage of someone isn’t a sign of respect.

Personally, in my work with addicts I have had clients like Alicia who were shocked to realize how they manipulated their partners. When they learned about codependent traits they wondered if their partner was with them for love or for “necessity.” Codependent people tend to be addicted to others. They have trouble living alone, staying single and tend to attract needy people. Codependency is a desire to be accepted, at the cost of burying your own voice or needs. Click To Tweet

I don’t want you leaving this post thinking that this hypothetical relationship is doomed. In fact, if Minnie was open to detaching from “rescuing” people, could stick to her boundaries and honor her needs, she could have a healthier relationship. Alicia would have to learn to save herself and be willing to compromise with Minnie’s needs.

Minnie’s codependence doesn’t end by leaving a relationship. She will carry those traits and patterns into all of her relationships if she doesn’t realize how to detach, learn self-acceptance and be consistent with her boundaries.

What other help is there for people who have codependent traits?

Professional therapy, Codependent Anonymous (CoDa) groups, Al-Anon (if your partner or family member has substance dependence), Boundary training and books.

One of the best authors and best books on this subject is Melody Beattie’s Codependency No More. I swear by it, recommend it to almost all of my clients and have only heard praise for her teachings.


Codependency may seem like a harmless addiction because most codependent people can’t imagine saying NO to others. The argument I hear is, “What’s wrong with helping people?”

My answer to them is always met with silence.

“So who’s helping you?”

Focus on you, learn to say no and save yourself for once.



Yoga, Mental Health and Healing: An Interview With A Yoga Instructor

Sometimes the things that look so simple, bring the most benefits to our lives. If you have been curious about yoga and wonder why people get hooked on it, this article can definitely help!

When we’re looking at restructuring our overall wellness, there are many healing activities that can incorporate your mind and body. I sat with a fellow mental health therapist, blogger, Podcaster and registered yoga teacher, Davia Roberts, and asked her to help us understand how yoga can change lives.

Davia was first introduced to yoga in her teens and she practiced it on and off throughout college. Fast forward a few years and in 2017 she decided to take the leap and become a registered yoga teacher. She spent three weeks in Costa Rica in September 2017 and acquired 200 hours of hatha yoga training.

Here are some highlights of our discussion:

“What surprises did you learn about yourself after the training program and what changes have you made since then?

Davia states that she learned how much of an introvert she really is. She realized how sensitive she is to people’s energy. As a therapist she listens to, and sometimes carries, other people’s wounds. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with this baggage. A fellow student in her training was impressed at how Davia was able to separate herself from uncomfortable energy. Davia realized how confident she really is because of this.

In yoga practice, there isn’t a focus on poses. The focus is on the feeling. Pinpointing where in your body you feel tension and discomfort. Davia can now pinpoint where she holds certain feelings and is more conscious about what she does with that energy. She is now changing how she handles stress, is open to asking for help from her “team” and prioritizing more quiet time to help her recharge. She emphasized that she is now more “proactive” instead of “reactive.”

Sidenote: If you’re a beginner to yoga but are serious about reducing your trauma or mental health symptoms, you don’t have to become an instructor to enjoy these benefits. Personally, I use yoga to help with fibromyalgia and as a stress reliever. Despite my aches and pains, I walk away from an hour-long session feeling like I got a massage. It loosens my tight, anxious and under used muscles and gives me one hour where I’m not thinking about anything but breathing and keeping my balance.

“Therapeutically, what benefits does yoga provide?”

Although yoga isn’t a cure-all for everything, it can provide relief from symptoms of anxiety. She added that anxiety can be wrapped up in many other diagnoses or ailments and having healthy anxiety reduction skills is crucial. Yoga can help you slow down and be present, regulate your breathing, slow your heart rate and quiet racing thoughts. Becoming more aware of your body can help you before your next anxiety attack. You understand how to ask yourself, “How can I slow down so I don’t have an attack.”

In addition, research now shows that certain yoga poses can help with depression. It helps reduce inflammation in the body, which can contribute to chronic pain issues. She also mentioned that for trauma sufferers, it is important to tell your yoga instructor that you don’t like to be touched. I have personally been in classes where an instructor may come by and assist you with stretches or correct your form. This isn’t always the case, but it’s worth noting.

Davia says she will soon begin yoga classes in collaboration with a mindfulness teacher in the women’s correctional system. Yoga stretches and breathing exercises are low maintenance and easily accessible tools for healing trauma and managing stress.

  “How does healing the body relate to healing the mind?”

Davia shared that therapy is now treating trauma as a physiological issue, and not just a mental health issue. Research is now showing how trauma gets “stuck” in our bodies and many people don’t know how to let go of it. Certain yoga poses have been shown to help with depression and stimulate parts of the body that may have trapped energy.

She emphasized that someone with trauma and/or mental health issues shouldn’t get forced into thinking their only solution is psychotropic medications or talk therapy. Therapists are moving away from traditional treatments and can now use free tools like yoga and mindfulness to help people manage their symptoms.

For further resources on mental health and wellness, check out Davia’s website, Redefine Enough. She hosts a biweekly podcast called Affirm (you can find me chatting on Episode 18 about Domestic Violence and Relationships) and will be hosting a webinar on February 15th called, Mental Health Maintenance For Creatives. Register here

How are you incorporating overall wellness into your routine this year? How could yoga help you or a loved one?

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