Dr. Julie's Blog

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One Thing That Makes it Hard to Avoid Toxic Relationships

Everyone I’ve worked with who finds themselves in a toxic relationship has problems with setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. It’s one of the reasons people end up in toxic relationships and then have a hard time leaving.

What is a toxic relationship?

It’s a relationship where one person violates the other person’s boundaries, values, and identity on a regular basis. These relationships are verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically abusive.

When I talk with people who are in toxic relationships common themes emerge.

  • They believe they are responsible for how their partner treats them
  • They try to anticipate their partner’s response to situations to avoid fights
  • They rearrange their social time to avoid upsetting their partner
  • They lose contact with friends and family because their partner doesn’t like them
  • They feel confused as to why their partner gets upset with them when they are trying so hard to be loving and give their partner...
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19 Things Emotionally Resilient People Do

One afternoon in late November, my husband and I were sitting in an exam room waiting for the neurologist to return. Fred had already had an extensive neurological exam and, sitting there in silence, I could see the worry and fear on my husband’s face.

Eighteen months earlier he had started having muscle twitches in his arms and chest, but the neurologist at the time couldn’t find anything else wrong and diagnosed him with “benign muscle fasciculations.” Likely temporary, minor muscle twitches — nothing to worry about.

Now Fred was having problems enunciating words. Whatever was wrong must be serious. As I watched the neurological exam, I could tell that my formerly strong husband was having significant problems with his arms, hands, and tongue. What could be going on?

It took about 15 minutes before the neurologist returned, this time with another neurologist who started doing more neurological testing. After about 10 minutes they both sat down and the...

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