Dear Christine, Dressed in Dearborn

  • Posted on August 14, 2017 at 9:27 am

Dear Christine,  I’m a straight male, and I like dressing up. I’ve always been into fashion, and my brother and cousin are gay, and I’m an LGBT advocate. Still it bothers me to be called something I’m not: gay. How do I get my classmates, gay and straight, to stop bullying me at school, who assume that I’m gay just because of the way I dress. There’s nothing wrong with being gay, it’s just that I’m not gay! Dressed in Dearborn Dear Dressed, A few years ago, there was a term used to describe people like you: metrosexual. These are men, often straight, who are extremely well groomed, dress well in the latest style, wear colognes, and they might get highlights in their hair, or get manicures or pedicures. They aren’t rugged, but are clean. A lot of the Hollywood stars are metrosexuals They aren’t a man’s man, or a hipster. They are in the know about the finer things in life. Celebrities get talked about all the time, and people speculate about their sexuality if it isn’t obvious. One example is Kevin Spacey. Rumors have it that he is gay, but when asked by reporters, he doesn’t deny or…

Dear Christine, Frustrated in Ferndale

  • Posted on August 7, 2017 at 9:24 am

Dear Dr. Christine, Question: I am a lesbian, and I’m masculine looking and proud of being me. I like hanging out with straight girls, as they are more fun, I think, than lesbians. I get caught up in a cycle that is exhausting, and I wonder what should happen? For example, my straight friend “Cindy” likes to hang out at my house and we’ll watch movies together, and pretty soon, she’s holding my hand on the couch, and before long she’s cuddling with me! I can’t watch the movie to the end! She’s driving me crazy. The next day I’ll try to tell her that I’m really attracted to her and want her, and she’ll just laugh and tell me that she doesn’t have feelings like that for me. When I ask her about being such a tease, she insists that she does these PDAs with her other straight girlfriends. It’s torture! I try to tell her that I’m like a guy, that if you hold my hand and cuddle with me it turns me on, and I can’t stop! If she really does this with her straight girl friends, then it sure isn’t something I can do and remain…

Dear Christine, Anxious in Ann Arbor

  • Posted on July 30, 2017 at 9:10 am

Dear Christine,
Fear of flying!! So I’m a 47 year old man who travels 2 to 3 times a year for work and once a year for a vacation with my husband. I am terrified every single time. It doesn’t stop Me from going. I have to. Each flight requires two martinis and a .5 Xanax. By the time I get to my destination, I need a nap. I have never found a way to be less anxious about flying and hate doping myself up. Is there help?  Anxious in Ann Arbor

Dear Anxious,
Flying is a pretty noxious experience these days, even without anxiety!  There are several approaches to reducing your anxiety and the need to dope yourself up.

Ten Fear of Flying Facts
1. One person in three has some degree of fear of flying.
2. One person in six is unable to fly due to fear of flying.
3. The average age at which this fear develops is twenty-seven.
4. Anticipatory anxiety before flying is often worse than feelings when flying.
5. For many fearful fliers, the most difficult part of the flight is cruise.
6. Cruise is difficult because of turbulence and feeling up high.
7. The term fear of flying is in common usage due to the title of a novel.
8. Fear of flying may include claustrophobia and fear of in-flight panic.
9. Landing is often a relief because the emotional ordeal is almost over.
10. Whatever fear of flying means to you, SOAR can relieve the problem.
One method is called “exposure” which means being exposed to what you fear in small amounts in a controlled environment, getting past those initial moments and surviving.  Then, moving on to greater amounts of exposure.  There are classes you can take in this, often at airports or with therapists who may even be a pilot as well.  They usually have you go on a plane that isn’t going anywhere, talk about the symptoms you’re feeling and learn methods to manage them.  There are several classes, ending with a graduation flight, to prove to yourself that you can fly!  There are on line video classes (11 DVDs and 2 hours of counseling) as well.  Check out www.fearofflying.comthat features Rapid Relief Complete Relief classes and the SOAR Program which are guaranteed.
If your fears are not that debilitating, you might try some energy psychology.  I teach some of these methods to my clients.  One is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) created by Gary Craig.  This uses Chinese medicine’s “chi” lines of energy in the body and tapping on various end points or meridians (no needles as in acupuncture) of these lines while thinking about what is upsetting to you.  It sounds contradictory, but focusing on your phobia while tapping reduces the emotion’s intensity.  It’s not a panacea most of the time, but it’s easy to self-administer and I think of it as being like a “volume control” for emotions.
A further energy psychology tip I first learned from Donna Eden, who practices energy medicine.  You will never meet a more loving and happy person than Donna Eden!  One of her techniques to balance the “chi” and reduce anxiety is as to cross the centerline of the body (ankles, knees, arms, hands) to strengthen the self and decrease negative emotions.  One tip is as follows:
“A simple tip which is great to reduce anxiety is the Over Energy Correction. Cross the left ankle over the right, extend arms with the back of your hands facing each other, bring your right hand over your left, clasp your fingers together, fold arms and hands inward and rest on your chest just under the chin; rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth and breathe deeply for 1 or 2 minutes. This exercise is very calming for acute anxiety and assists in promoting sleep.”
Many therapists recommend using meditation and using headphones to listen to whatever is calming for you while you fly.  Of course, electronics are turned off for take off and landing, so it’s helpful to practice at home before getting on a plane, so that you can spend 10 or 15 minutes of those critical parts of the flight in peace.  Fear of Flying School offers 21 stress management techniques, all proven by science.  Some are basic:  get enough sleep.  Minimize caffeine, avoid nicotine, don’t overdo alcohol, slow breathing, laugh, avoid unhappy people, do yoga, have sex!, tense and then relax all of your muscles from top to bottom of your whole body.  Develop your positive emotions, give hugs, exercise aerobically (hard to do ON the plane), get a massage, use the EFT technique.  Of course, listen to relaxing music, avoid the news,, and challenge your stress inducing thoughts, as they might not have as much validity as you fear.  Did you know that flying is the very safest mode of transportation?  It’s actually safer than driving to the airport!
Remember that reducing your overall anxiety, controlling what you have control over, will be a good basis to start with.  Good luck to you.  If trying these techniques on your own aren’t enough, don’t hesitate to take a class at the airport or schedule some therapy with a psychologist.
Christine C Cantrell, PhD
Fully Licensed Psychologist

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Perplexed in Pontiac

  • Posted on July 24, 2017 at 9:22 am

Dear Christine, My wife’s family is horrible. They voted for Trump, they call black people, colored or the N word or worse, they are homophobic, although they have given that a bit of a rest since I’ve been around, they love the idea of a Muslim ban and want the wall to be built. You get it? I go with her once a year to visit them only because I love her so much and will stand by her side through everything. She has started to really struggle lately and is thinking of cutting them off for good. It makes her feel really guilty because she also sends money to her mother who is a lazy alcoholic in my opinion. I swear I don’t know how she came out of that family. She is so wonderful. How can I encourage her to walk away from them without feeling guilty? Thanks, Perplexed in Pontiac Dear Perplexed, I hear you. Many families have been torn up over political disagreements, particularly after the 2016 Presidential election. In fact, I just read an article that mentioned that it’s hard for those who dislike the current administration to spend time around people who like the…

Dear Christine, Explaining in Ecorse

  • Posted on July 17, 2017 at 10:13 am

Dear Christine, My partner and I are a lesbian couple and very active in the LGBT community. Recently I’ve been questioning my gender identity and I’m thinking seriously of transitioning from female to male gender. I’m not sure how to explain my gender changes. I was always more of the tomboy type. I’m coming to realize that I don’t have a gender identity crisis, but I identify as gender queer, and being explicitly male or female is not really the issue for me. Explaining homosexuality to our children was a challenge. They are 6 and 10 years old and they are fine with having two moms. The whole family is very accepting of our being a lesbian couple. Our parents are confused about why I want to change, when I so confidently identified as lesbian. How should I go about explaining transgender issues to our kids, and our parents and families? I find that gender clarity is very important to my family and society in general, but it isn’t so important to me.  Explaining in Ecorse Dear Explaining, My question is: is it necessary to undergo gender transition if identifying as male or female is not a big deal for…

Dear Christine, Annoyed in Adrian

  • Posted on July 10, 2017 at 8:14 am

Dear Christine,

I’ve had the same best friend since middle school. We share a lot and even came out together. We dated briefly but settled into an amazing friendship. We really enjoy each others company. I’ve been in a long term relationship for years and my partner also gets along great with my best friend. Recently my friend started dating someone we both find really annoying. We didn’t say anything hoping it would be temporary. It’s been a year now and they are moving in together and talking marriage.

My question is, is it too late to tell my best friend that her girlfriend is a know it all, hogs the conversation, and puts everyone off and that if she continues to be with her, fine, but can her and I just do things without Ms. KIA (Know It All)???

Thanks, Annoyed in Adrian

PS I enjoy your column!

Dear Annoyed,

How nice that you have transitioned from dating to friends! Isn’t is annoying when a friend picks a partner you can’t stand!? It happens all the time. If there is something you need to get off your chest, by all means, tell your friend. If you think that it will change her mind about her beloved, hold your peace.

Have you and your friend spent time together without Ms. KIA in the past year? If not, have you talked to your friend about what you need or expect about sharing time together, without partners? Often, new couples spend more time focused on each other rather than on others, so you may not have had much time with your friend in the past year. Ask her what she thinks about spending time with her alone. Her response will be based on her needs and the boundaries she has set up with Ms. KIA. Some couples are comfortable seeing friends separately, and some like to be in each other’s pockets and together all the time.

Remember that the only person you have a ghost of a chance of controlling is you and that is tough going! Friends will choose partners for reasons that may not make sense to anyone outside of the relationship. And friendships will change over time, depending on all sorts of factors that may and will arise. I know a 87 year old woman who maintained a friendship with someone since they were 5 years old. This woman believed that friends should remain close forever, but recently decided that wasn’t worth the emotional cost for herself. She decided it was time to back away from that friendship. They both had changed tremendously over the years and this woman was no longer comfortable trying to be close. We all change! If the friendship continues or expands to include both be close. We all change! If the friendship continues or expands to include both friends’ partners, wonderful. Try to be very Zen about this friendship, accepting your friend for who she is now with the partner she choses. Christine Cantrell, PhD, Psychologist

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Parenting in Pontiac

  • Posted on July 3, 2017 at 9:42 am

Dear Christine, My partner and I have 3 kids and the oldest, a girl, just tuned 13. We are worried that she’s hanging out with the wrong crowd-older kids. She has become secretive, we’ve caught her in lies (nothing major) and she has a boyfriend. Short of locking her in the house until she’s 21, we are unsure how to handle this. We’ve tried to have the drug talk, the sex talk and she just gets mad and embarrassed and says she’s would never do that. Thanks, Parenting in Pontiac Dear Parenting, You have a tough job. What is most important is to keep communication channels up with your daughter and stay active in her life and keep her involved with both of you and other family and friends. Focus on her interests and hobbies, even if they aren’t your preference. Get to know her friends, meet her boyfriend, make your home the place where kids like hanging out, so you can get to know them and you can observe dynamics and relationships. Give your daughter room to rebel safely. When she wants a style of hair or clothes that you don’t like, give her room to make those decisions.…

Dear Christine, Depressed in Dexter

  • Posted on June 26, 2017 at 10:34 am

Dear Christine,
Gender confusion, Please Help!?
I am 21 years old, biological male, and suffering a from a very extreme depression. This depression has been quite a constant in my life and I’m keen to be rid of it. I know it’s stemming from the doubt, anxiety, and confusion that comes in the delightfully painful package that we call gender confusion. Mentally, at least, I’ve always been female. I’ve decided on two courses of action. Getting help from s’s many sources as possible in an attempt to fix myself and if that doesn’t work then I’m just going to see myself out. Talking me out of that part is pointless I might add. My life is a living hell and any alternative to living s’s a freak is highly preferable. I have spoken to a gender therapist already and they didn’t help. Just told me I should try and be a happy freak. 150$ a session and im never going back. So that is out of the question as well.
Sign me, Depressed in Dexter

Dear Depressed, What you are feeling is awful, but it is not unusual for someone who has Gender Dysphoria.  Your body presents are one sex, and your brain identifies as the other.  There is a disconnect that can be helped.  You have the choice to accept this is your unique self and try to figure out what will make your life more livable and happier.  Perhaps you will decide to take hormones, or alter your body to reflect physically what you experience psychologically.  The other option is to  not accept this unique self and be miserable.  Suicide is an option that many people have taken when they don’t see a way to be who they feel they are on the inside.  But getting some good, professional help would be worth checking out. Go back to the therapist you tried.  Figure out what you mean and need to “fix yourself” and see if that is what the therapist can help you with.  If fixing yourself does not include self acceptance but is only seeing yourself as a freak, then take a look at these pictures of women who are transgendered.  Notice that they work in all sorts of professions and they have all sorts of ways of expressing who they feel they are on the inside.  Not one looks like a “freak” to me!
If you really want to educate yourself about being transgender, also known as transsexual, please check out this website.  It is difficult when you are in such pain to realize that you can have a new and better life.  It’s a struggle to come to terms with accepting who you are, but there are lots of examples out there of men who realized they really are a woman inside.  The most recent one I know of is Bradley Manning, the US Army soldier convicted in July 2013 of violating the Espionage Act and 22 other charges after releasing a large set of restricted documents.  He was exploring  gender dysphoria as early as 2009 and in 2010 emailed his supervisor that he had gender identity disorder.  The day after sentencing, August 22, 2-013, Manning’s attorney issued a press release that Bradley identifies as female and request that the media refer to her by her new name and feminine pronouns.   There couldn’t be a more public way to come out, but Chelsea Elizabeth Manning had been through it all, and in moving forward with her life, it meant accepting guilt for the charges, but also accepting her identity.   She said:  “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me.  I am Chelsea Manning.  I am female.  Given the way that I feel, and have felt from childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.  I hope that you will support me in this transition.  I also request that , starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).  I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.” 
It’s hard to imagine a more charged and public environment in which to transition from male to female, but when you finally face your own truth, there is such relief at finally being at peace with yourself, it makes it worthwhile.  IF you don’t want to go back to the same therapist, make a clean, new start and find another therapist who is qualified to work with Gender Identity Disorder and Gender Dysphoria.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the therapists approach to working with these issues. Good luck to you, and write me again, to let me know how you’re doing.  Christine Cantrell

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Depressed in Detroit

  • Posted on June 12, 2017 at 9:46 am

Dear Christine, I’m a generally happy person so it confused me when for no apparent reason a couple months ago I started feeling sad, somewhat depressed and unmotivated to do things. I was due for my annual physical and told my physician but she wasn’t much help. Nothing physically wrong with me that she could find and she suggested I seek medication if it continues.I don’t want to be on meds so my question to you is, do you know of any reason why someone 45 could suddenly feel depressed for no real reason? Oh, and how do you feel about medication for depression? Thanks, Depressed in Detroit Dear Depressed, I’m glad that there’s nothing physically wrong with you and that you first checked with your physician about your feeling blue these days. There are several things that could be affecting you: you are close to the age of perimenopause and mood changes can be connected with those hormonal changes. Menopause can really wreak havoc on the a woman’s body and well being. Also, several months includes important events in any one person’s life, but also the life of United States citizens. There’s been a lot of political changes in…

Dear Christine, Sad in Saline

  • Posted on June 4, 2017 at 11:54 am

Dear Christine, My group of close friends consists of 6 couples. We’ve been tight for more than 20 years even going on vacations together. This past election was hard on us as many of our group worked hard to get Hillary elected and Trump as president is giving us much anxiety. Last night, one of the couples invited the group to dinner saying they needed to get something out in the open. Much to our surprise, they let us know that they are republicans, have always been republicans but have kept it to themselves…until now. They are sick of us bashing Trump and asked if we could keep politics out of our group. After their shocking announcement, there ensued a passionate debate and even some tears. We decided the remaining 5 couples would go off on our own to discuss and absorb the news.The majority of the group is so disgusted that our two friends can defend Trump even after all we have seen that they want to cut them lose. Me and my wife hope for a reconciliation of some kind and to not throw away 20 years of friendship. We just don’t know if there is a way…