skip to Main Content

Wellbeing & Words Blog

Anxiety Relief: You’ve Got This – It’s Really Possible

Is anxiety relief really possible? After all, anxiety can be discouraging and disheartening and frustrating and a whole lot of other negative adjectives. It’s common to feel doomed to be crushed by anxiety for life. That’s because anxiety worms its way into our mind and controls many of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. When that happens, it often doesn’t seem like we’ll ever have a break. I’ve been there, and I can relate. I can also proudly state that relief and freedom from anxiety are possible. Read on to learn about a helpful tool for bounding past anxiety.

read more

Acceptance: Giving Up or Moving On?

 Acceptance of mental health challenges sounds like resignation. In mental health, acceptance isn't that at all. Learn what acceptance is and why it's good.Acceptance of mental he

Acceptance is a vital part of wellbeing and mental health. The word can be misleading, however. If I’m told, for example, that I just need to accept my anxiety, I might think that there’s no use trying to beat anxiety and that I just need to resign myself to it and retreat. Thank goodness that is not what acceptance means in the world of mental health. We don’t have to accept that we live with any mental health challenge. What, then, is acceptance? Acceptance is a concept that is empowering and puts you in control of your mental health and wellbeing. 

read more

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions: A Wellbeing Guide

Your New Year's Resolutions are promises you make to yourself. Learn how to keep them and grow wellbeing.

To make promises for your fresh year and fresh self is exciting, but to keep New Year’s resolutions is often frustrating. You can take charge of your goals for yourself and stick with them long past the next new year. Here are some ways to do that.

read more

Discover Social Anxiety Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant personality disorder and anxiety limit lives and damage self-image. Experience how it hurts a man named Brain. Change how you think about yourself to reduce anxiety and APD.
When social anxiety is extreme, it can become avoidant personality disorder (APD). APD is like social anxiety on steroids. Someone with such intense social anxiety lives a severely limited life because he or she is compelled by anxiety to avoid any and all social situations and even simple interactions with others. APD imprisons people in their own mind, holding them captive with fear and anxiety. It traps people in isolated places, such as inside their own home or in a job that involves no contact with other people.

read more

What Good Is Gratitude?

Gratitude doesn't always come naturally or feel right. In fact, it's common to wonder what good is gratitute. Explore this important perspective here.

Really, what good is gratitude? It’s the mindset of appreciating things in life. Numerous studies have shown, and continue to show, that an attitude of gratitude enhances mental health, wellbeing, and general life satisfaction. Yet sometimes it seems hard to believe. Is being grateful that powerful? And, more bluntly, what is it about feeling grateful, something that can seem superficial, that has a positive impact on our lives? What good is gratitude?

read more

Behind Silent Smiles: A Quick Glimpse into the Inspiring Novel

A journey from childhood to adulthood, across Romania and the world. Behind Silent Smiles takes you into a life of…
Behind Silent Smiles is a novel inspired by a true story. It spans a lifetime and a world to inspire hope.

First a little girl…

…Then a grown woman


From the Romanian Countryside…

To Bucharest…



To Sacramento, California

Who is she? What happens to her in her life? Find out in Behind Silent Smiles, the latest novel by Tanya J. Peterson. 

Previous novels by Tanya J. Peterson


read more

International Day of the Girl Empowers Girls in Conflict

International Day of the Girl i's a day for empowering girls to be strong and survive conflict, violence including dating violence. Learn more here.
On International Day of the Girl, the world comes together to honor girls, our young women who have the potential to bloom and thrive and make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others. Sometimes, though, a girl’s potential is thwarted. For that reason, the United Nations raises awareness of girls, their lives, and their struggles every October 11.

International Day of the Girl Empowers Girls: Before, During, and After Conflict

This year, the theme for International Day of the Girl is “Empower girls: before, during, and after conflict.” This is a important focal point indeed, for according to the UN, an adolescent girl somewhere in the world loses her live as the result of violence–every 10 minutes.

Sometimes the violence is related to war. Other times to some inhumane punishment. Violence can also be at the hands of a parent, boyfriend, or other person in the life of a girl.

Losing Elizabeth is a novel for adolescents in middle- and high school to help them see what an abusive relationship is like. It’s a vehicle for discussion to help empower girls to recognize all types of relationship abuse and remove themselves from a toxic, even violent, situation.

I’ve taken Losing Elizabeth and the accompanying curriculum Find Yourself. Keep Yourself  into schools for a 10-week (once weekly) program and to libraries for a single afternoon program. The goal is to use the story and discussion to empower girls to

  • Know the early warning signs of toxic behavior
  • Recognize control tactics like isolation, manipulation, behaviors, and words
  • Respond and act
  • Know how to help a friend
  • Know how to ask for help

Additionally, and most importantly, girls explore and come to know themselves, their relationship goals, their hopes, dreams, and plans, and more. For it is when girls and teens develop self-awareness that they are empowered to keep themselves rather than losing themselves to others, to abuse, to violence.

International Day of the Girl i's a day for empowering girls to be strong and survive conflict, violence including dating violence. Learn more here.

read more

For Mental Illness Awareness Week, What I’ve Learned About Mental Illness

Mental illness awareness week illuminates what mental illness truly is and what it's like to live with. I've learned these 8 things about mental illness.
Mental Illness Awareness Week is an important “ribboned” event. A dedicated chunk of time (the first week of October each year) increases society’s knowledge and understanding of mental illness. This is a wonderful thing to which to dedicate time and attention, for as anyone who has lived with any type of mental illness knows, lack of understanding can lead to prejudice and discrimination. To help end that problem, we observe Mental Illness Awareness Week.

read more

Self-Compassion and You: A Guide to Turning Compassion Inward

Self-compassion is vital to mental health and wellbeing. Here, from the organization Inpathy, is a helpful guide to turning compassion inward.


I have a purpose in my life and in my writing: to share stories, information, and strategies so that we all may thrive despite problems and challenges and create our own version of a life worth living. I love meeting and collaborating with like-minded people, so I’m delighted to have discovered Inpathy—their services and their wellness blog The Inapthy Bulletin. I love the below article about self-compassion, something so important but for one reason or another so often neglected.
Enjoy learning a bit about Inpathy, and cherish the article that can make a positive difference for all of us.

read more

Action: Create Wellbeing, Do Your Life

Action empowers you to create wellbeing and live a quality life despite problems. Learn why action is so important and how to act when it seems impossible.
Action. It’s activity. It’s taking charge and doingIt’s creating great moments every single day rather than waiting for them to finally come into your life. Action means not having a good day or good moments but making a good day and good moments. Action is something that we can all do, right now, regardless of how bad things in life might be. If taking action seems easier said than done, keep reading. There are things you can do to empower yourself to act and create the life you want.

read more

Mindfully Appreciate Beauty to Nurture Your Wellbeing

Mental Health Tip Monday appreciate beauty

It can be hard to mindfully appreciate beauty when life is far from perfect, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and overpowered by stress, struggles, and negativity.  When facing a mental health challenge, whether it’s a bad day, a tough situation, a problematic relationship, a diagnosis of mental illness, a chronic health condition, or something else entirely, it’s natural to concentrate on that. Unfortunately, when we do that, we’re giving the problem and our worries our almost-full attention.  This increases the stressful effects of the problem while depleting our energy and sense of stability. By mindfully appreciating beauty, we can shift our focus from worry to wonder and increase wellbeing.

read more

Dissociative Identity Disorder: Being a Stranger to Yourself

Dissociative identity disorder (DID), a mental illness formerly known as multiple personality disorder, can be a confusing, frustrating, even frightening disorder that makes someone feel like a stranger: a stranger in the world and a stranger within his or her own mind. Imagine what it would be like to be a stranger to yourself. Picture a party or a school dance or a family holiday gathering. (You don’t have to love these things — just picture it.) The setting is festive. It’s light and cheery. Perhaps there are colorful decorations. There’s delicious food, both of the junk variety and the healthy variety. And of course there are happy people. Most of them know each other and mingle happily. There is conversation, laughter, joviality. And you don’t know a single person; nor do they know you. You are a stranger in the room. You decide to stand by yourself. However, will you stay yourself? Will a different part of you emerge, in effect taking over who you are for a while? If so, who will it be? Someone you don’t really know and thus can’t predict what he — or she — will do? You’re a stranger in the room and a stranger to yourself. This, in part, is DID.

How Does DID Make Someone a Stranger to Himself?

In dissociative identity disorder, someone is one person with his/her own unique identity, just like any other person on the planet. With DID (which begins in childhood and has a very distinct cause), someoene’s psyche has fragmented into different parts/alternate identities (often called alters). Each alter (with DID, there can be as few as two or more than 100) is also unique with his/her own identity.

The different identities aren’t always aware of each other. A goal of treatment is to increase awareness so that each alter, and the main identity, knows each other. Its as if that festive gathering mentioned above is perpetually happening in one’s mind, and he/she doesn’t know the others at the party. It’s awkward when that happens in someone’s outer world. It would be disconcerting, to put it mildly, when that is a regular experience inside one’s own mind.

In the novel Twenty-Four Shadows, family man Isaac Bittman discovers that he lives with DID, and he definitely feels like a stranger to himself. At one point, he is venting to his wife, Reese, lamenting that he just doesn’t know who he is:

Here’s the thing. Sometimes I don’t know who I even am, and that frightens me, Reese. I mean, I’m starting to see a pattern. Ishmael is the angry one. Jake is the adventurous and artistic one. Isaiah is the depressed and anxious one. Alton is the musical one. June is the protective one. And there are so many others. So where does all of that leave me, leave Isaac? Who am I?”

Isaac isn’t alone. DID can be very frightening, and it’s easy for someone to feel lost inside his/her own identity. While there is no cure for DID, there is indeed help and hope. Typically, someone with DID does develop awareness of alters. With help, that awareness crystallizes, and he/she gets to know him/herself better and better. The alters, too, come to know each other. It’s very possible for someone living with DID to answer the question “who am I” positively and with certainty. Someone living with dissociative identity disorder isn’t forever doomed to being a stranger to him/herself.

Learn more about the novel that takes you inside the life of Issac Bittman, one may with twenty-four shadows.

read more

4 Life Lessons I Learned Playing Monopoly with My Son

Life is What You InvestAs a parent, I thought that playing games with my kids was a great idea. I was right. We formed connections and bonds, very important for growth and development. They learned cognitive skills and social skills. Gracious winning and losing. Turn taking. Patience. Laughter. Etc. Surprisingly, there was an added bonus to playing games with my kids: I learned lessons, too.

read more

Wellbeing & Words

Sign up for my free newsletter, Wellbeing & Words. Each issue is packed with useful tips for enhancing mental health and wellbeing plus reading-related tidbits.

Honors & Awards

Twenty-Four Shadows

Named to Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2016



My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel

Named to Kirkus Reviews’ list of Best Books of 2014




U.S. Review of Books

Recommended by the US Review of Books: Nutshell & 24 Shadows


Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog

The Anxiety-Schmanxiety blog I write for won this award.


Losing Elizabeth

Recipient of the Storytellers Campfire Marble Book Award for being a “book which has made a significant difference in the world.”


Contact Tanya

Back To Top
×Close search