Baggage Check Mental Health Advice: The last chat

Feb 04, 2020

Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Bonior was online to take your questions about relationships, family, mental health, motivation, work-life balance, well-being, and more.

Update: Dr. Andrea will be speaking with Lori Gottlieb about her book, Maybe You Should talk to Someone, at 11 a.m. on March 22 in Silver Spring, MD. The event is ticketed, and you can purchase the book and tickets here. She hopes to see you there!

Read past Baggage Check columns here.

Get mental health tips and an early glimpse at Dr. Andrea's next book "Detox Your Thoughts" by following Dr. Andrea on Facebook or Instagram.

Important disclaimer: this chat should not be considered a substitute for one-on-one psychotherapy, and is for general informational purposes only. (Dr. Andrea's advice on 80s song lyrics and snacking, however, is completely official.)

Hello, all.
I am so very happy you are here today, but if you saw my revised intro, this chat is going to be sad.
Not sadness like so many of you have been through— I know better than to make those comparisons— but very sad nonetheless, as this is unfortunately our last chat. In this forum, at least.
Yeah, it's true. And I’m so sorry.
I don’t have answers for you about why. Our chat czarina, Yu (who has been incredibly supportive of this space for us) may, or may not have much either. What we do know is that you all as an audience were quite a force to be reckoned with. You made this chat one of the very highest in total audience engagement, and— most dear to my heart— we had by far the highest individual audience engagement of any of the chats. That’s right— the average person on here spent far longer than the average person in any other chat. You cared so much. And the actual numbers of you were near the top of the chats as well. You devoted time and love and energy to this space, as I have. And you’ve been seen.
So thank you. I mean seriously, thank you. This chat was what it was because of you. And we are going out on top.
Again, I’m sorry. I would have done this chat until all of my teeth fell out and then my dentures themselves had to be replaced. (And then still.)
But my goal today is to find a way for us to stay connected, and for me to hear from you what I can do for you in other forums that you most want.
I want to replicate this community somewhere else, and I will. Mental health is too important a topic to be shoved aside or ignored. And with anxiety, stress, loneliness and depression at peak rates in the United States— not to mention self-harm, addiction, and suicide— I believe that the public sphere is in need of as many credentialed voices to speak out about these issues as possible, to keep sound resources out there in the public space. It is still my number one goal to make sure that people going through all the hard, messy and complicated parts of life have a home to go to online that they can trust.
So, today let’s make a plan.
Where would you be willing to follow me?
We have, for now, several options.
First, you can always find the latest updates on my website. Whatever new home(s) come to pass, you'll hear it there first. And if you sign up for my mailing list there, not only am I way too lazy to ever send you more emails than you'd want, but you can still get a free ebook on getting out of negative thought patterns by giving your email address (that promo will end as soon as we have some freebies for the book-book to come.)
I can still take your questions (and is there ever a backlog!) in several places. I have long written for Psychology Today, and will likely use your questions to populate some new columns there.
I also may be doing some collaboration with The Lily (a sister publication to the Post). They see how important mental health issues are to readers and how these issues are only growing. And they've been doing some truly powerful-- and quite beautiful-- features on those issues, especially on anxiety.
Happily, you can also see me soon in person: Lori Gottlieb and I will be talking at Loyalty Books (Silver Spring location) on Sunday, March 22nd at either 11 am or 12 Noon. I will update the exact time to come, but I would so love to meet you then!
I'll still be kickin' on social media-- probably even more as the book release gets closer. I will continue to post daily (or near daily!) mental health tips on Instagram. Here I am on Twitter and Facebook as well.
And, of course, the book. Detox Your Thoughts: Quit Negative Self-Talk for Good and Get the Life You've Always Wanted is due out May 5th (yes, Cinco de Mayo! We made the release fall on a Tuesday because.... ugh. Never mind.) It is available for preorder now, and preorders mean the world. And on release day it will be available via audiobook as well-- narrated by yours truly. (Or by Morgan Freeman. We're neck in neck in the final round of auditions.)
So-- there it is. Again, I'm so sorry. I may not get to the typical questions today, given this news and the questions I already see about that, but I will try my best.
Let's begin.

The Post used to have a full slate of live chats, including cultural, political and entertainment. I understand the cost, but Jeff Bezos is a billionaire. Can't we have a few diversions? Best of luck to you.

The funny thing about the cost is this: I volunteered to start doing this chat for payment solely in individually wrapped cashews. Then fireworks. Then finally some leftover napkins from the break room.

Clearly, negotiations broke down somewhere.

I am so sorry to see your chat ending. Through your chat, your writing, and your reference to Laurie Gottlieb’s book, at 65 I have found a cognitive behavioral therapist, I’m ready to sort out my issues, and have had the honest conversation with myself to do so. I really cannot thank you enough for what you’ve provided for me here. You’re going to be missed. (I feel like Dr. Gottlieb’s patient Rita from her book!) But truly thanks to both of you I’m living my best life. Godspeed Dr. Bonior.

Oh, wow. This is incredible-- you are like the embodiment of this chat! Like a mascot, in the most profound and beautiful of ways!

Thank you so much for these kind words. Hopefully now you saw in my intro that you can come and meet me and Lori in Silver Spring on March 22nd. I really hope you do; we'd love it. Bring her book and she will sign it!

Soooo sad. Hope someone can offer a suggestion for a new platform. We miss the columns, but your short posts on Facebook are nice. But losing both the column *and* the chat. Now really missing you!

And how much I will be missing you all as well! More than you know. But seriously, I am all about finding a new place. Not just because my PR overlords will demand it, but because this community is something that still has such value for so many people.

Thank you!

What if we created a subreddit for you and we could have a weekly chat there? Please?!?

Ooh now there is an intriguing plug-the-hole-in-the-meantime idea. I did an AMA for Reddit many moons ago.... do the subreddits have the same real-time back-and-forth capabilities? I am usually only reading about topics after they've long since been posted.

That's all. You were the perfect counterpart to Carolyn Hax - two different, valuable, perspectives on life.

You're not crying; we're both just chopping some onions that are pretty vicious.

Yeah, I think Carolyn's very skilled at what she does, and it was an honor to be able to dig into the places she couldn't go. I heard from so many of you over the years that you got different things from us both. I'm just so sorry that our yin part (or yang part!) is now being excised.

That the things that seem like "my own very big personal special problems" are really more universal to the human experience than I thought/felt. Thank you for that <3

Okay, Buster is looking at me and wondering why my face is quivering.

This is exactly what I was after in this space all these years, bar none. I can't even begin to tell you how much it means to me that you say that.

So thank you for that. And that emoji heart that I am not coordinated enough to type-- right back at you!

I'm one of the long term recovering alcoholics that posts on occasion. I LOVE this forum. You help so many people on so many different areas. The WaPo used to have so many vibrant chat forums and now it's a shrinking abyss. This is an OUTRAGE! Sorry but the decision makers are wrong on this.

I'm putting my hand to my heart here!! Thank you.

You and others in the sober community offered such particularly empathetic and insightful and compassionate support. I was grateful for it more than you know.

I’m very sorry to be losing your chat. It’s been a great resource. My job became very, very stressful about six months ago (after being just fine) and it has caught up to me lately in a big way. Making through each day is a struggle. It’s not only workload—a new supervisor started and it’s just not going well. There is no HR department. I know I need to look for a new job, but I’m exhausted. However, I need a job. There is no spousal or parental help for me to fall back on. I’m worried one day I’ll just wake up and decide “that’s it, I’m never going back.” My savings will only carry me so far and I would lose my health coverage. I have a doctor appointment in a few weeks—should I request pharmaceutical help?

Thanks for the kind words, first of all.

There's certainly no harm in looking into medication, but that won't get you a new job on its own. Yes, it can increase your motivation and energy and improve your outlook (as can therapy, I'd be remiss to leave out!) but what I see in the here and now is a need to carve out some baby steps toward finding a new job. Small but systematic and consistent steps that you will take every single day toward finding something new.

(Oof. This is hitting close to home.)

The key is to build toward something. Even five minutes to update your LinkedIn profile (or just figure out your password) or send an email to someone at XYZ office or schedule a coffee with someone or open up your old resume or make a list of three websites with job listings in your field.... that is progress.

With each little bit of momentum comes more momentum. You can do it!

This is distressing news! Can you give us the e-mail to protest this decision?


Oh I'm sure that would make me even more beloved with the powers that be!

But I really appreciate your kindness.

Oh, my goodness-- Yu (aka Kanyakrit) has offered her email address. Thank you, Yu!

I'll say it again-- she has been a wonderful advocate for this chat and is a truly delightful person, so please no shooting (even with rubber bands) of messengers!

I'll follow you lots of places, but not to Facebook. Just wanted to put that out there. I've been a Facebook resister since the beginning and now it seems even more important to keep our private information away from them, given how they abuse it.

I totally get this, and respect it.

And have the feeling about every other nanosecond that I should follow it. My personal participation in facebook approaches nil, but professionally it's been hard to avoid.

I really struggle with it too.

My website will do nothing with your data besides compile your email (if you choose to give it) and then have that in a big list that frustrates the heck out of my PR overlords since I do virtually nothing with it. So I hope you will continue to check back there!

This Chat & all its chatters have shared so much positivity--I looked forward to it every week. BOO WAPO BOO.

Thank you! I really did too. You all were able to raise each other up in some pretty awesome (and I do mean awesome in the truest sense, not the surfer-dude sense) kinds of ways.

And now I am hearing a melody with BOO WAPO BOO. It has a certain beat within it, doesn't it?

Is your departure related to the fact that you were part of the now-defunct Express, not the Post itself?

That was the first nail in the coffin, yes.

But then we were given a chance to show the Post proper what we've got. Turns out we'd "got" was far more than anyone expected, and growing all the time! 

That's where the calculus, um, breaks down.

Curious to know where your new home will be. I found the chat informative. Thank you.

And thank you!

It remains to be seen, though hopefully the intro gives you some starting places.

I'd definitely tune in!

Would you? It's something I seriously need to consider.

I think what I'd need to decide first and foremost is how I would blend the advice/guest piece. There are advice podcasts I love, and interview-with-guests podcasts I love, but I haven't seen too many that do both. Shocker, I'd want to do both. And then somehow have all of your responses in real-time like here.


Yes, reddit can have real time back and forth. You would just announce the date and time of your chats then people would know when to be online. The biggest problem I would see is since anyone can respond, might be having a mod to delete inappropriate responses.

Ah, yes.

You know, it's funny, when I have gotten guests for this chat, I always tell them, "It's like a Reddit AMA, only even better because no one sees what you don't choose to answer!"

I do think that is not insignificant. But this is an excellent suggestion that I will be looking further into.

❤️ (which I obtained by Googling on the keywords heart and emoji).

See? You all are even willing to serve as tech support!

A better group of people exists NOWHERE.

Thank you.

Why on earth would they cut loose a chat with one of the highest total audience engagements? That makes zero sense. If anything, they should be bringing you on as a regular contributor to the paper. The problem with sites like Facebook and reddit is that you can't be as anonymous, if at all.

The answer is in there somewhere, but I probably have to send in for a decoder ring from somewhere to make sense of it.

Getting canned while simultaneously praised for  overperformance is kind of like someone telling you they love you while they slam the door in your face.

A delicious experience!

When a TV series comes to an end, there's often a big finale that answers all outstanding questions and ties up all the loose threads. In your last chat, tell us finally: What is the secret of life?

I wish I could tell you for sure, but I'm pretty sure it involves Bob Newhart running an inn in New Hampshire.

In all seriousness, part of what I've been fortunate enough to see over years and years of getting to work with people is that what makes meaning for one person is not necessarily the same as for another. It seems pretty clear that finding a sense of meaning and purpose in your days is quite important-- and comes pretty close to being the secret of life-- but what that looks like across the board for this huge, messy and beautiful swath of humanity is where all the individual differences come to shine.

Here's to meaning, whether it comes from knitting sweaters with a nice cup of tea nearby or running large corporations that manufacture that clamshell packaging that I can never get open!

What technology is necessary to run a chat? If you were inclined to, could you do something like this through your web site?

I have thought about it and would be very willing, but I don't see an easy option there. The anonymity, the ability to host lots and lots and lots of people at the same time..... my perfunctory searches were not optimistic, unfortunately. Especially given that I have the tech know-how of your average marmot.

Please post how we can “follow” you should we all be so fortunate that you find another s”space” for all of un to reconvene together. Your FB Page perhaps? I’ve cut-pasted your answers to several of my questions into my personal notes so I can get my “baggage rechecked”at will. I will so miss you and this group. My weekly shining hour of sanity and hope.

Hopefully you saw in the Intro where we can remain connected!

Your note about the cut and paste-- and your extremely kind words that followed it-- is just so lovely. Thank you!

Terrible, Thanks for Asking does both.

Ooh, you are so right. Nora is amazing, as you all know-- she was here last year!

I just found you a few months ago and absolutely LOVE your chats and columns. I will see you at Loyalty Books on 3/22!

Yay!!! (A nice counterpart to the "Noooooooooo," which, I must say, is pretty funny how many times it is showing up in your responses!)

Can't wait for that!

Um, Vermont.

Ugh! Sorry about that. (At least I didn't get the Daryls confused with each other.)

It just wouldn't be a chat if I didn't screw something like that up, now would it?

Try Slate. They have a zillion help columns, and one live one that migrated from the Post/Slate alliance (Dear Prudence). Hope you find a worthy home.

Thank you for this! I have been seeing this suggestion a lot. Charles Duhigg was almost on this chat a couple of months ago, but then scheduling didn't work out. Hey, if any Slate-connected folks are out there, I'm all ears!

I just have to say: between this, the Post’s response to Felicia Somnez, and Irin Carmon’s story about killing stories last year, I’m trying to figure out whether I want to keep my paid subscription. Thank you for all of your time and patience and wisdom. You will be so missed!

And thank you so much for this.

Yeah, the Post PR department deserves a drink.

I am also a never-Facebooker, but I have bookmarked your website in case a new place for the chat emerges.

Much appreciated!

Move over to Slate. They have great chats with interesting columnists. Just like you!

Thank you for the suggestion! You are not the only one who mentioned this. It is food for thought, and appreciated.

Did they say you were a burden on the Post's electronic resources? The Post's web site, despite vast improvements over the years, is still glitchy sometimes.

hahahah Okay, this was great. Thank you.

Yup, apparently we were blowing the whole thing up-- love it!

So sorry to hear this - the cost cutting at the Post continues. I hope you find a solution, and we can resume.

Thanks so much for this. I'm not so sure it was cost-cutting as much as mental-health-specialist-cutting..... but the cut goes deeper than they realize, and that stinks.

I am one of those who thought for years that this was a Travel advice site, so never peeked until about 2 years ago. Since discovering the column and chat I have never missed. So sorry about the decisions, esp the cruel way it spooled out--with you exceeding benchmarks but still going away.

Thank you! One of my greatest reliefs was getting to eventually extend the title so that people realized it was not a travel chat... something that for the prior fourteen years never really dawned on me as a possibility, but makes total sense!

I suspect the very thing that makes the chats great - anonymity and control - is what doomed it commercially. The name of the game is data harvesting for profit. Very sad.

Ugh. I'd like to think this isn't the case.... but I'd also like to think that my kids really do like all my haircuts.

I was also going to ask for the meaning of life today, even before I knew it was the last chat.

Love it!

It all comes together somehow. We just need that decoder ring to figure it out.

Hi Dr. Bonior, I'm really sad this will be your last chat. Thank you for providing a helpful voice for people to connect with about a variety of problems. I never wrote in to you but read your chats every week and was grateful that there was someone like you who people could write in to for support and guidance. It's sad to think that the WaPo doesn't view your chat as important as other chats. I hope there is a way to keep us readers updated on where you land on another forum.

Thanks so much for this.

The numbers really tell us that the vast majority of you just read and never wrote in. And yet the ripple effects that I can imagine that this chat had-- with the people who did write in helping each other immensely-- are astounding. I'm trying to focus on being grateful for that, for now.

I'm sad. It's a great little community building here, and I love your insight and perspectives! I'm glad I'll still see you on the socials...

I am so glad I get to see you there as well! Many thanks!

Noooo, this made Tuesday something to look forward to...hoping you'll find a new home.

Me too, on all counts.

So appreciated!

This is one of the many reasons why I've loved this chat. You managed to work in a reference to one of my all-time favorite comedians- the late Mitch Hedberg. He also serves as another example of why we need mental health resources more than ever in this country. Looking forward to following you Dr. Bonior in another format!!


I knew there was at least one other die-hard Mitch Hedberg fan out there in this chat. I did borrow that phrase, after it lodged in my psyche fifteen years ago from him, and it's just warming my heart that someone else there caught it.

Speaking of comics, did anyone catch Gary Gulman's show on Saturday night? There's a comic who is doing amazing things in terms of helping people with mental health issues-- all while remaining funny as *&%$. Highly recommend. (And his HBO special "The Great Depresh" as well.)

So sorry for the delay. Truth is stranger than fiction but my laptop just shorted out. So I am on an old spare. I definitely can go a little longer.... give me a moment to get my bearings. Thanks for your patience! 

Sad to see you go. Sadly I just introduced my adult son to you last week... so hoping we can find you in a new spot soon. You provide so much wisdom for people starting to look for help but haven't for whatever reason gotten to see an individual provider.

Thank you! And I hope he stays with us, wherever we end up!

And can I give a special shout-out to those who have been here since the beginning. Not the beginning of this chat-- which is just a couple of years in the Baggage Check epoch-- but the beginning, beginning. As in Baggage Check in Express on the Metro. As in early 2005. As in pre-smart-phone, pre-wi-fi, pre-people-thinking-it's-okay-to-talk-about-going-to-therapy. As in I didn't even have children quite yet and no one knew what the word "selfie" meant; it probably would have sounded dirty!

In fact, it was the fifteen year anniversary just a couple of weeks ago of Baggage Check. Some of you have stayed with me ever since, and I'll appreciate it forever.

Wow, what a ride.

Jesus! Why? Your chat was one of only 3 or 4 "must reads" that I regularly follow on line. I had always hoped that your chat would appear multiple times per week, not disappearing altogether! Your advice was always spot on, and I loved how it wasn't just your opinions and gut-reaction to the questions. You always pointed to the research behind things- which I found to be so helpful. You are going to be missed here- and look forward to your chat appearing in some other outlet in hopefully the near future.

Thank you so much for this. Yeah, we had enough questions to go longer or go multiple times per week! So, it is... perplexing.

Oh no, what do you mean losing the home for the chat? This can't be! This chat is the number one reason I keep my WaPo subscription!!! If you're not going to be at WaPo, where can we find you? I need to know where to change my subscription to?

This is very sweet of you!

This came in before I posted the intro, so hopefully what I wrote there gives you a starting place.

What's tough is that this chat forum provided the perfect environs for us-- anonymity, real-time back-and-forth, an opportunity for my summer school typing class to count for something.... it is going to be tough to figure out how to move us all to someplace different, but I am determined to do it in some form.

A few folks, as you've seen, have brought up the idea of a podcast. That may be a potential avenue for us, so please please please just stay in touch and stay tuned.

What is happening, Washington Post? I love this chat - I look forward to it every week! I mean seriously, the chance to get questions answered by an actual licensed clinical psychologist - that really adds value to the Washington Post. Have the people at Washington Post actually read this chat? Because it's really good and science based and that's no fake news!!!

ha! Thanks.

Yeah, my license is probably feeling like Rodney Dangerfield right now.

I’m the poster who was overcome with fear about walking my dog in the wake of several attacks in the neighborhood (on other dogs). You and the readers gave me good advice, namely that the problem seemed bigger than it was because my attention was on the attacks. During the holidays I went out of state for a few days to visit family. They live in a much more quiet suburban neighborhood. I found that after a few days there I wasn’t thinking about the attacks and wasn’t as fearful. And my stress went down more after the holiday. I honestly think a lot of it was underlying holiday stress and anxiety and the dog became my focus. I did buy pepper spray to carry, which gives me a little more confidence (even if I doubt my ability to effectively use it in an emergency, it at least has some placebo effect.). I want to thank you for your advice to help me through a stressful time. I am so going to miss these chats. I have learned so much.

As we approach the true end, there's nothing better that I could imagine than a positive update. Thank you so, so much. I am so very glad to hear this! 

No problem other than my profound dismay that this will be your last chat. I've appreciated and learned from your insight and compassion and I'll miss catching up. I'm so very sorry we're losing you. :-(

Thank you for this. It means more than you know. It feels gratuitous and weird to post all these, but I also want to validate how much this space has meant to so many of you. It wasn't about me. This community was incredible. 

Thought maybe it was April Fools. A joke? What’s going on?

I'm increasingly worried it was all because of BokuBucksgate.

This is one of your faithful readers who's a long-time sober recovering alcoholic. I want to take this opportunity to thank you, Dr. B., for your supportiveness of those of us here in the recovery community, and to let others know -- whether in recovery yet or not -- that I'm thinking of them and wishing them a sober day today. Thank you again for all your chats.

And thank you. I love this shout-out.

One day at a time, for all of us-- whether in recovery or not. 

I'm so sad that WaPo is kicking you out! I want to thank you and the chatters for helping me more than you will ever know. When I was overwhelmed and depressed, all of you helped me find my way out of the pit of darkness. You've given me tools to use to get through my anxious thoughts, and I feel like you've shown me a new way to find my way in this world. So, wherever you end up, I hope I'll find you. Thank you, and God bless you!

Oh, my. This is more special to me than you could ever know!

And I know it's special to the other chatters too. You all helped each other so very much, every single week. That is the biggest frustration of all of this-- that, with the breakdown of communities in so many forms in today's world, that this is one more quite special one that is being killed off.

But your note is such a bright spot. All my very best to you!

Hi Dr. Bonior, I log into your chat from another time zone and I set aside the whole evening. Sometimes I bring my own problems, sometimes I listen to others'. Sometimes I contribute a suggestion and sometimes I just listen to the wisdom, compassion, and humor that you, your guests and other chatters bring to this space. My husband will be glad to get me back on Tuesday evenings but I will miss this terribly.

Okay, this made me laugh. Glad your husband gets you back-- but the circumstances aren't stellar. Thank you for the kind words! 

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I'm sorry the chat is ending, Dr Bonior, but I'll continue to check in on Instagram and watch out for your byline and the new book. Thank you for the time we had!

Please do keep an eye out! Thank you for making time for this, too! 

I usually read the chat later but I will be tuning in later today in the hopes you will have better news for us and that we can pick up where we left off somewhere else! This chat is my favorite and has a supportive vibe the others don’t come close to matching. Please don’t go unless you’ve got a new home!

I will do everything I can to find us a new home. Promise!

There go my Tuesdays. WTF?

ha! You encapsulated what a lot of us are feeling, it seems, just with fewer words. 

There are many people here who will greatly miss you, Dr. Bonior. I'm very sorry the Washington Post is doing this -- to you and to itself.

I'm very sorry too-- to all of you! Thank you for this. 

Why? Is it something we did? (I know I'm not the only one asking why or expressing sadness but I'm hoping if enough of us write-in there can be a compromise!)

I wish!

You all did all the right things. That much is very clear! 

I only discovered this chat five or six months ago -- because I was just so bored and disinterested at work -- but it's been helpful for me as I realized I was depressed. I can't imagine how many other readers like me there must be. I don't know why you have to leave, and I hope you'll find another platform, but thanks so much for your help.

Thank you. Better late than never.... and let's hope this is just a break before brighter things ahead! 

I am so sad about the chat I cannot believe it is ending! When can we buy your book and get more helpful advice?

If this was a family member of mine, I don't want to know!

May 5th, out it comes!

This is messed up. Why on earth would you cut a chat by a true professional who helps so many people? Very bad decision, Washington Post.

I certainly wouldn't say these words myself, of course. 

I often sent the column or these chats to a friend who has a whole cornucopia of mental health issues, in the hopes that if she saw herself in someone's question, she'd get some help in the comments. I don't know if it has yet, but I hope WashPo at least keeps the archives around for a while in case she gets curious.

This is an excellent point. I really, really, really hope they keep the archives up.

I hadn't really entertained that they wouldn't, but maybe that's what's in need of an email campaign!

I'm glad they announced this now, because my subscription ends later this month and this is one less reason to renew. Hope you can find another forum for talks like this elsewhere.

Thank you! 

I'm terribly sorry to see you go, too, which makes me even hungrier for what I log in here for: real questions and answers. Are there any today? Or will it be just goodbyes?

That had been my initial intention, but to be honest the real questions have been far and few between and very much dwarfed by the other sentiments, which I do want to respond to.

So... no real menu being served on the Titanic tonight, I'm afraid! 

Isn't there room for two advice columns? They aren't even on the same day. While I enjoy Hax, she's not a psychologist. Dr. Bonior is. She gives great advice and you can tell she's a therapist in real life and always gives the science behind her answers. Don't you have more than one political reporter, more than one opinion writer, more than one style writer, etc. etc. etc.? KEEP DR. BONIOR!!!!!! (yes I'm yelling at my computer now!)

Yelling can be cathartic!

Even if it apparently doesn't change much otherwise.

I do agree with the reasoning. Thank you!  

I can't believe this news!!!!!!!!! What happened?

My biggest failure today is that I'm truly not sure.

Gulp, sob. Ugh. I’ve never written in but I’m a loyal & grateful reader and never miss a chat. You’ve helped me beyond measure. Huge loss and a sad day is right. My heart hurts.

I am so sorry. But thank you for taking the time to write in now. 

You might also enjoy Blossom Dearie's rendition of the song "Peel Me A Grape" (by Dave Frishberg)

haha! I will most definitely check it out! 

I’m struggling right now. I’ve got an idea of things I would like to do or should do for my own well-being, or to be able to more fully live the life I want. But I find I often undermine my own efforts or do things that set me back in a lot of areas of my life. I’ve accomplished big stuff in my life, setting goals, taking action - getting a graduate degree while working full time, moving to my dream city, buying a own home there. So why am I struggling do these day to day things that would have big impact to my own self-worth and my life in the long term? It’s where momentary actions/decisions make it harder to do what I’ve planned, for example: - Financial goals…setting goals and working toward them, and one day overspending and undoing weeks/months of savings (sometimes on gifts or other things that can’t be returned so it’s tough to undo) - Time management … I plan to leave plenty of time to get somewhere (so that I don’t stress about being late due to traffic, etc) and then dawdle on non-urgent/pointless stuff, so I’m rushed and stressed. These things don’t usually impact or let down other people, aside from them getting a me who is frazzled or feeling self-defeated or unworthy or disappointed in myself. They usually relate to my own plans and goals or things that would make my own life better, easier or just help me feel better about myself, which would help me feel like I’m in control and thriving. Are there any tips, strategies, resources that might be helpful to break this pattern? --------- NOTE: here are some other examples, just to give you an idea this pattern seems to pop up in a lot of different ways. Feel free to include or leave this detail out of the post, whatever works for you. - Nutrition plan…. when shopping, at the last minute tossing something in the cart that wasn’t on my list, could be part of my meals if planned but that I’m likely to overeat, and predictably do when I’m stressed, tired, have the poor-me’s. - Personal goals/habits … as simple as deciding to making my bed every morning because I want to be able to say “I’m the kind of person who makes their bed every morning” and then 3 days later not taking the 5 minutes to make my bed and feeling like a slug at the end of the day when I see my messy bed. This “goal” was one I tried when I started to notice I was struggling with a lot of other plans… I was like “it’s a few minutes, easy to do, it doesn’t have to be perfect, no one else cares, surely I can do this for me, this will help me have a ‘win’ that will encourage me to stick to other plans” but no.

A non-goodbye-related question. I can give that other OP what they wanted! Here goes:

Oh, I think this is SUCH a common problem.

And it needs a multi-faceted approach, really. It could be that you're just not a bed-making person and never will be, for instance, so sometimes the thing to work on is making sure that the goal is something that truly makes sense for you and is realistic. Don't make a goal because you want to become the type of person that meets that goal. Make a goal because the goal resonates with the type of person you are, and can help you grow and expand in ways that are still authentic to your natural tendencies.

Then there seems to be a piece about self-sabotage. The spending and the food-- sometimes it's like a little form of rebellion. Against what is what you need to figure out. When we defy a parent or a boss or a spouse, we start looking at the underlying reasons, and how there wasn't mutual buy-in to the system. The same is true when we defy ourselves. Where is the mismatch? Are you being too strict with your expectations of food and money?

There's also no doubt an energy piece, and an inertia piece. It is hard to be on time if you are too exhausted to get off the couch and get ready (just as it's hard to make your bed.) And once you cross the threshold of being late here and there it perpetuates itself more easily. So there may be areas of self-care that you need to be more vigilant about (sleep, etc.) to help you get more energy in the first place. (Yeah, I know... that's the whole problem, that you aren't prioritizing self-care in the ways that you should. But sometimes the littlest tweaks that don't take much effort can boost us in significant ways when tackling the stuff that DOES take more effort.)

What should I do when my spouse is drowning in anxiety and depression but won't get help? I try so hard to help but he refuses everything. In his mind, he is doomed to follow in his father's footsteps and die at a young age. Which means, no doctor visits because his anxiety tells him he'll have the same fate. Oh, and his mother was addicted to pills when he was a child so he won't consider therapy and medication for said anxiety/depression. He is currently unemployed due to him choosing to leave a bad situation but even when employed his anxiety is in overdrive. One more thing, we have a 3 year old child and I think that is the only thing holding us together at this point. I've been protecting my husband from himself for so long that I think he hates me. Not to mention, we haven't had sex in almost 4 years because of his "issues." I am tired of holding him up. I am tired of being last in line. What do I do? I love my husband deeply.

(And another! Getting back to turbo-speed on this laptop WHOSE KEYBOARD I HATE to have a few more final hoorahs.)

I am so, so sorry.

At some point, though, this is a similar quandary as you would be facing if he had a substance abuse problem, or a gambling addiction, or any number of things that seem different but whose effects are the same: he is harming himself and refusing to get help, and the longer it goes on, the more of an uphill battle it will be to get him there. (And the upshot: he is harming your family in the process.)

Of course, "harming" sounds so harsh. I get that. It is not something he is choosing to be doing, and anxiety and depression can be debilitating monsters. I have a major amount of compassion for him, as I do for you. He is not to blame for his depression, but at some point he is responsible as a husband and father for being willing to consider getting help.

And it is you who wrote in, you who is drowning in a marriage that lacks a solid foundation because of that refusal to get help. The bottom of your relationship has fallen out. You're worried he hates you. You worry he'll die young. You haven't had sex in years; he can't get employed; I can only imagine what it is like trying to parent a preschooler in this situation.

If this was because of drinking or gambling, what would you do?

It's time for a reality check. It is not his depression that is a potential dealbreaker here. It is his refusal to consider help.

I would really advise you to seek some individual support right now to help get something in place in order to make some hard decisions. Then I would suggest you lay it all out: that you are taking steps to do what you need to take care of you and your child. Will he do the same?

I’m assuming you’ll say more in the chat itself but this seems way sudden. Let me wager a guess that it turns out that you faked your credentials and you didn’t actually have a license and you are really just a particularly kind and smart man named Moe who lives in someone’s basement. Amiright?

Okay, I'm laughing out loud here. Needed this. Thank you! 

I couple of weeks ago I saw you on The Today Show. You were great, and it made me think about how much I'd benefited from your advice over the years. I read your Express column for like 10 years, and was thrilled when these chats started since the print column was so short and always left me wanting more. Was this a contract issue? Or something else? I know newspapers are struggling with budgets these days, but I've got to imagine your chat brought in a lot of views. You will be sorely missed :-(

Ah, one of the veterans! Thank you so much for valuing this space over all the many, many years. Not a contract issue, except in the sense that they didn't want to contract to have me around. 

So, yeah, I guess a contract issue! 


It's a great question.  Sadly, even after several meetings and conversations, I still have the same question myself!

But I did pick up a lot of lovely new euphemisms. What they're actually euphemisms for, I'm not really sure, but they are definitely lovely euphemisms for something.

I'm sorry to see your chat leave WaPo, but I wanted to say thank you for encouraging me, through your steady, nonjudgment guidance to others, to find a therapist that is now helping me. And for the occasional laugh :)

Thank you! And I am so glad that you found a therapist that is helping you. You really don't know how happy that makes me. 

Man, this is disappointing. Not surprising - I suspected this might happen since they stopped running the column - but truly a bummer. I have gotten so much help and support from your work here, both from your words and the chatters' posts. I also did the Detox Your Thoughts challenge by email and loved it, and I'm really looking forward to the book. If you can find another home for your advice and discussion, I hope you can let us know, somehow. I'll be on the lookout on your website. Thanks for everything!

Please keep on the lookout. This is music to my ears, truly. 

I'm not going to get stuck in the ridiculousness of not continuing these online hours here. I am thrilled you are tackling the important topic of mental health so much yet I do think that the online hour format has something special to give. The ability for us to interact as a community, supporting each other In Real Time has great value. So often there's someone who's been there and can give support, someone who has something to contribute from a professional standpoint etc. Having you as a leader and the community to chime in - in real in real time - has great value. What immediately popped into my head was Slate. With your online hour stats ... surely there's somewhere. We'll be following you, you know!

Another vote to look in to Slate. Will do.

One of the things I enjoy most about the chat is that it's a chat rather than a single column with question. I sometimes read them much later, but there's a great deal of content available, and each question makes me think even if it may not be applicable to my life. Perhaps you could find a new home that continues to provide chats? Slate seems to do that well (even if I find the advice often of marginal quality--you'd be a great improvement). Regardless of where you end up, I've very much enjoyed these chats, so thank you for them and all the insight you've provided.

And another. Thank you.

And let me address that about the single question-- that's so much what I loved about this chat, too. It opened up a whole other world of interaction that the column could never had. It really felt like a magical expansion of what would have been impossible in print. 

Thank you! 

Thank you for taking a question of mine a few months back, about my widowed mother and her new friend. Your opening line (or maybe the second one) express sympathy for my own grief, before offering wonderful advice. I got stuck on that line - realizing that I had been so focused on helping my mother that I had a lot of my own grief for my dad left to process. That kindness meant so much. Hopefully you will be able to read this today - thank you for being kind in addition to wise.

And thank you so much for this. It means more than you know.

I promise I am winding down here-- but this chat had all the classics, from my tech difficulties to follow-ups to questions I answered but forgot to post-- trying to make sure I don't forget anything else here before signing off for good. 

I wrote in months ago concerned about my husband's suicidal ideation and refusal to seek help. I just wanted to update you: you rightly focused me back on him instead of my own coping mechanisms; I got him to finally agree to see a doctor; he got medication; it's working; and like EVERYTHING is better. I'll follow you anywhere (on the internet...not in real life because that's stalking. HA)


You have no idea, in all seriousness, how glad I am to hear that update. Thank you so much for taking the time to write in. 

You could also start a blog and do short q+a posts like in the chat. And people can comment if they want. Side blogging still a thing? Lol

It's true that I would have the ability to do something like this on my website.... worth the consideration! Thanks!

Another podcast that does both advice and interview-with-guests: How To! with Charles Duhigg. Not only does that podcast do both, but it does both very well.

Yes! Another guest (or almost-guest) here. How could I forget? Thank you! 

You will be really missed in this space - a real loss for the Post - but we will follow you in whatever format you grace next.

Thank you! I am grateful for that more than you know.

42 is the answer to life, the Universe and everything (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) :)) So sad to see the chat go. I'm one of those quiet readers, but the impact your chat had on my life was big, even if I never wrote in.

That is so, so kind of you.

And it's funny-- I knew that reference but was worried I'd get the number wrong so didn't bring it up. (And I would have! 47 was my guess!) 

Apparently it's true what they say--all good things come to an end.

There are so, so many more comments that I really wanted to thank you for individually-- it's this individual connection that has meant the most to me-- but I see the time, and it feels like THE time.

I want to end on this note above because it strikes a chord with me of gratitude, and acceptance (from the woman who just refused to end for the past half hour!) and above all, that is what I have in my heart right now.

You all have been the best, truly. I am so very grateful for all the years that you were here, and the ways that you helped each other, and the ways that you helped me

I would have loved to have written something more articulate and poetic at this point, but I've got a spare laptop whose keyboard hates me. It's time for me to go.

In the intro are all the ways that we can stay connected-- and I hope more than anything that that can still happen.

Thank you for everything. You are in my heart, always! 

In This Chat
Dr. Andrea Bonior
Dr. Andrea Bonior is a licensed clinical psychologist and the voice behind Baggage Check since its start in 2005. She serves on the faculty of Georgetown University, and is the author of two books in addition to the upcoming "Detox Your Thoughts: Quit Negative Self-Talk for Good and Discover The Life You've Always Wanted."
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