This year of COVID has been a year of loss. Loved ones. First dates and coffee with old friends. Shared worship. Beach parties. From the profound to the trivial. For many who live with complex illnesses or who struggle to get out of the house and make it to school or work, it’s also been […]
Helping my son get out of bed when he was in pain was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I knew how much he hurt. But we both knew that the worst mistake we’d made when he first got sick was to let him withdraw from the world and into his bed. The light hurt […]
Doctors, patients, and caregivers all bring something different to the table. All contribute to healing. The patient has the lived experience. It is their body. Their life. It is their decision what they decide to do and take from the relationship in the hope of moving forward. The caregiver brings support. Often – especially when […]
One of the hardest things about invisible illnesses is that they’re – um – invisible. No one can see them. Only the person who has them knows they exist. The most common chronic pain conditions in children and teens – headache, migraine, gastrointestinal problems, skeletal issues – are trivialized. That’s pretty awful. Anyone, anytime, can […]
I’m reading a book called The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. It’s a fantasy – a parable really – about regret and depression and building a better life. Sounds odd for a book I picked because it was billed as ‘a feel good novel’ about a life well lived, doesn’t it? Did I mention that […]
Urie Bronfenbrenner was one of the giants of 20th century developmental psychology. One of the founders of HeadStart, Urie had many favorite sayings about raising children. In additional to studying children for more than half a century, he also had five of his own. One person who is crazy about you One thing that fascinated […]
Nothing is more distressing than listening to a baby cry. I’m not just saying that about me. There’s a lot of research on the topic. When we hear a child in distress all we want to do is make it stop. Their hurt makes us hurt. I don’t think that ends when they’ve grown. I […]
When my child’s in pain, my first instinct is to try to fix it. That’s my job right? But it’s not always what they need. Sometimes they need to vent and blow off steam. This is hard for us. It’s worse for them. If we jump in too fast we’re not giving them permission to […]
Confession time I feel guilty. Why? Because there are times I feel I’m failing at my most important job: being a mom. My son hurts all the time – and I can’t protect him. He is having a hard time transitioning gracefully to adulthood. He struggled to make it through high school – it’s tough […]
I walked into my son’s room this morning – it was immediately obvious it was one of ‘those’ days. Light sensitivity. Migraine spike. Fog. You know the gig. So I asked my usual self-care questions: Did you take your rescues? Water? Salt? Magnesium oil? Daily meds? “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.” No eye roll (thank […]
Friday, after an appointment with my psychiatrist at Emory, it occurred to me that this month marks 13 years of therapy and treatment. I would almost describe those 13 years as an “After” period, denoting a new phase in my life, because it has been so transformative. Before I finally reached out for help, I […]
Physics has gravity (it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law). Psychology has learning theory. The basic ideas behind learning theory are deceptively simple: If you are rewarded for something you will do it more often. If you are punished for something, you will do do it less often. If something bad is happening […]
Last year, I wrote an essay called What’s Working? A 5-Minute Exercise for a Better Life for Psychology Today. Although everything else seems to have changed since last year, the ideas in that essay have not. Today, I want to talk about using it to take a few steps forward that will make your next year better. […]
We were very excited that Taneisha Cordell of News5 Cleveland, an ABC affiliated covered the development of 1step2life. Development of the app was inspired by my son, Sean’s, struggles with intractable persistent pain. He talks here about his struggles and how 1step2life has helped him feel empowered to take back his life. For their full […]
When teens don’t believe parents or doctors have the right to set rules, they don’t follow them.
Nancy DarlingFirst published in Psychology Today: Thinking About Kids October 2014 Note: I wrote this years ago, when my son’s migraines first when chronic. Much has changed in our lives. Sending him to school with his pain remains one of the hardest things my husband and I – and certainly our son – has ever […]
I write a lot about organizing, because I have too much to do and very few spoons to spare. I also know that if I don’t write things down, they spin around in my head and keep me from sleeping. If we try to keep everything in our head without an organizational system, we keep […]
Pain leads to depression. Depression leads to pain. The amygdala mediates it all.
Acceptance means holding both a painful now and a hopeful future in our minds· Death can be a harsh shock, as someone is ripped from us and is no longer present in our lives. It has a finality to it – that’s part of the shock and much of the pain. But it is real […]
A mother’s despair This app began as a search for a tool. My son was in horrible pain – in bed, in the dark, barely holding on to school. When I looked at him, my first thought was always the same – How much pain is he in? Then I’d wonder if he’d taken his […]
Everyone’s pain is different and everyone is in a different place in their journey.
How do you cope when things feel their worst? You can cry. Or laugh. Or curse.
When do I get my old life back?
The answer is, you don’t. That’s why they call it a ‘life changing event.’
Families need to work together towards a shared goal: helping children grew into healthy happy adolescents and adolescents make successful transitions to adulthood.
Concrete tips on moving a teen in pain out of bed and towards functioning.
It’s so hard as a parent when you are desperately hoping your child will just make it to school and squeak through to graduation. And so hard to listen to even your dearest friends fret about things that you’d give your eye teeth to be worrying about. It’s just hard.
You know they mean well. You know they care. In fact, they’re trying to be sympathetic and make a connection. But when you tell them you have severe chronic migraines and they say ‘oh yeah, my sister-in-law gets migraines too’, and then ask if you if you’ve tried Excedrin Migraine . . . . No, […]
Many people living with chronic pain are sensitive to the environment. On the down side, there’s the pain. Allodynia is a condition where modest stimuli – like brushing your hair – triggers pain. It’s common in people who have migraine, regional pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, other conditions. I remember my son cringing from the sound of […]
The developers have been working hard to take our dream and turn it into an app that you can download from the AppStore or GooglePlay. We are getting so close! We are currently working through our fourth version of the app, making sure the user interface is as clear and easy to use as we […]
I just wrote a new blog for Psychology Today on COVID-19 and kids. As the parent of someone who is chronically ill, I not only worry that he’ll be sick with the flu or COVID-19 or a cold. I worry that getting any of those viruses will kick off another long spike in pain. Keeping […]
When your child is in pain, it’s easy to focus in on the three things that worry us: pain, pills, and homework. I know for myself, just seeing my son’s face triggers that mental checklist.
As a developmental psychologist who has studied parenting on four continents, I can tell you a lot about raising teenagers. But nothing prepared me for watching my son shaking under the covers flinching from the light, and unable to speak from pain.
As children become teens, they take more and more control over the decisions that govern their lives. Parents set rules, but teens who disagree with those rules have choices: they can obey, argue, or hide the fact that they’re not doing what they’re supposed to. In the US, most parents and teens agree that it’s […]