If you are a bookworm, you may have gotten way too attached to a particular character. A good book can put you in the characters' shoes. You laugh with them. You cry with them. Yes, I've cried over book characters. Can that attachment help with your grief?
When we lose a loved one, we often think of the best memories we had with them. Dr. Janina Scarlet wrote an interesting article on the subject for Psychology Today.
She talked about receiving news of the death of a friend's sister. She grew up with that friend, and she compared going to his house to Harry Potter going to the Weasleys' house.
Harry Potter makes friends with Ron Weasley and finds parental figures in Ron's parents. Scarlet said this about her friend's house:
"I felt understood, accepted, fully and unconditionally. My own family never understood mental health and I was often judged and criticized for feeling depressed or anxious. At Roger's house, we talked about our feelings, we hugged, we played board games and video games. We were allowed to be perfectly imperfect and magically human. Like Harry, I too often wished that I could just stay with my friend's family forever."
Connecting with a story or a character can help with grief. Reading a story of loss can show us ways to deal with a personal loss. Books are powerful things, and they can take you into a whole new world.
This was originally published on Off The Main Page on February 28, 2017.
We have heard the term before: resting bitch face. Urban Dictionary defines it as:
“… A person, usually a girl, who naturally looks mean when her face is expressionless, without meaning to.”
I have this problem myself. Living with schizoaffective disorder, I often have a flat affect, which can make me look angry when I’m not. I often hear things like “Are you okay?” or “Are you mad?” when I’m really not.
Some people turn it into a sexist thing, unfortunately. During the election, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was often told to “smile more.” Many men were saying that about her everytime she gave speeches. At least I’m in good company.
Scientists have actually discovered this is real. Scientists Abbe Macbeth and Jason Rogers from Noldus Information Technology used facial recognition software to analyze facial expressions. They put in some neutral faces, then compared emotional faces to those neutral ones.
“… We’ve all heard the anecdotal evidence of people being told to smile more … there’s something that is unconsciously showing up on people’s faces when people think they are just being neutral.”
This was originally published on Off The Main Page on January 10, 2017.
Being overweight is unhealthy, but a new study says carrying a bit of weight on your backside might not be so bad. Researchers at the University of Oxford and Churchill Hospital in the United Kingdom found that people carrying a bit of extra weight in the butt and thigh area have a lowered risk of diabetes.
Dr Michael Jensen, director of endocrine research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. said:
“If you’re going to have fat, you’re definitely better off if you’ve got some fat in the lower body. If you look at people who have primarily the pear shape, they’re healthy in all the ways that this fat behaves. It’s not just fewer heart attacks or less diabetes, it’s all these ways we think about fat as an important organ for our health.”
The next time someone tells you that you have a big booty, just remember you’re smarter.
A new study found that the millennial generation is more likely to experience depression at work. About 40 percent of millennials say that their stress levels are increasing.
Many millennials are reporting physical symptoms at work (i.e. headaches, stomach aches, etc).
Some millennials may be able to blame "hovercraft parenting" for this:
"Many millennials had “helicopter parents” who hovered close by, protecting them from normal bumps in the road. Now, they lack basic conflict resolution skills that they never had a chance to learn during their childhood and teen years. Many were also pushed to be high achievers in school at the expense of emotional development. This causes them to overreact to natural stressors that previous generations dealt with more effectively."
Using your childhood as an excuse doesn't always work, but in this case it might. Overprotecting your children makes them unable to handle their own problems.
Mental illness can sap your energy and drive. It's something we fight everyday. Hopefully, our struggles will lead toward acceptance of mental health problems. We have to keep fighting the stigma and rip away the veil of "taboo" from the subject.
As a person who lives with mental illness, I've heard many condescending, ineffective comments about it. "Just lighten up!" "Just change your attitude!" "Everybody gets sad sometimes."
Someone with a mental disorder doesn't experience emotions the same way. When you have clinical depression and/or anxiety, it is not that simple. That's why it's a disorder.
How much of these feelings are normal?
No one can be happy 100 percent of the time. We all get sad. We all get negative sometimes. It is okay to be anxious; it's okay to be sad.
In therapy, we try to find a way to cope with extreme emotions. Emotions can aid in our survival. Negative emotions can signal a deeper problem. It can signal that your relationship or your job may need some attention.
Accept how you are feeling. Denying them and bottling them up will end badly. Express your emotions, and you will feel better. We experience such a wide array of emotions in life. This is why everyone needs to practice coping mechanisms. Being sad is okay, but extreme depression is not. Get to a doctor if you feel that something isn't right.
Hillary Clinton Ignores Donald Trump And Gives Moving Speech About People With Disabilities (VIDEOS)
This was originally published on Liberal America on September 22, 2016.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has been told to talk less about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Yesterday, she did just that and gave an amazing speech about people with disabilities.
She was introduced by a friend, Anastasia Somoza, who also gave a beautiful speech at the Democratic National Convention. It contains a beautiful, classy take down of Donald Trump.
Yesterday, in Orlando Clinton gave a moving speech about how she has been and will continue to fight for people with disabilities. This is a contrast to Trump, who makes fun of people with disabilities.
Clinton argued for people with disabilities, and she said that it will be an important part of her presidency. She acknowledged that the United States isn’t doing enough to protect and serve people with disabilities.
“We’ve got to face that and do better — for everyone’s sake. Because this really does go to the heart of who we are as Americans.”
“… People with disabilities shouldn’t be isolated. They should be given the chance to work with everyone else. And we’re going to eliminate the subminimum wage, which is a vestige from an ugly, ignorant past.”
Hillary Clinton is the only candidate that has come out with a decent, brilliant mental health plan. As someone with a mental illness, this makes me very hopeful. I would love to see the stigma go away. Clinton agrees that mental health is an important part of your overall health. She would like to expand community-based care, so we can have access to housing and job opportunities. She wants police officers to be trained in crisis intervention, so they can effectively help someone who is having a mental health crisis. Hopefully, that will stop disgustingincidents of law enforcement mistreating people having a mental health crisis. The NYPD uses restraining bags, and stuff like that needs to stop.
Here is the entire speech:
This was originally published on Liberal America on August 14, 2016.
Our modern world is so fast-paced. We all have cell phones attached to our arms and are expected to constantly be available. In this country, we work longer hours than any other country. We put in longer work weeks and we don’t get or use very much vacation time.
We are always busy. We jam pack our schedules with activity, and get ourselvesstressed out in the process. This may sound cheesy, but the world is so much faster. We are always “connected” to work and everything else.
You may see this common phrase if you are looking for a job: “fast-paced environment.” They never say anything about the quality of the work, just that it is done quickly.
Since the 1950s, we have had many new technological advances that were supposed to make our lives easier. However, we don’t have more leisure time than we did during that period.
The stress we put on ourselves can cause physical symptoms as well. It cancause:
We weigh ourselves down with commitments. We have this thing called “work-life balance,” but we work so much more. Psychologist, Dr. Robert Brooks, said:
“But even if you don’t have much control over the hours you have to work, you can ask yourself: In what other ways am I bringing greater enjoyment into my life? Focus your time and attention on things you can control.”
Companies are realizing this, and they are doing things to make our lives easier. Many people work remotely, so they can keep their own schedule. Here are a fewtips for better work-life balance.
1. Schedule Some Downtime.We all have our entire schedules planned out on our phones. Pencil in some downtime for you. If you go out with your friends, plan another outing a couple weeks later. You need to take care of yourself first.
2. Drop Activities That Sap Your DowntimePsychologist, Dr. Marilyn Puder-York, said:
“Many people waste their time on activities or people that add no value — for example, spending too much time at work with a colleague who is constantly venting and gossiping.”
If you have activities that you hate doing, you don’t have to do them (unless it’s your job, then you might). There is no need to weigh yourself down with things you don’t like.
3. Rethink ErrandsIf you need help getting everything done, try and make things easier for yourself. Get your groceries online if you can. Hire a someone to mow your lawn.
4. ExerciseWhen you are scheduling time for yourself, include a little bit of exercise. Exercising can greatly improve your mood and relieve stress.
5. RelaxPencil in some time for something you enjoy. Take a long bath while reading a trashy novel. Pick up a new hobby. We all need to find ways to react sometimes. Learn to cook.
Bonus tip: Listening to music can really relax you.
Here is an inspirational song to empower you in your fight against stress:
For those of you who don't know. A visit to a psychiatrist is much like a visit to another doctor. There isn't an exam room that you have to sit in, though.
You go into the doctor's office and discuss your symptoms/medicine/side effects. Mostly, they don't provide in-depth talk therapy; you will need a psychotherapist/psychologist for that. The psychiatrist's main function is to monitor your medicine.
What about talking to a doctor on the phone or on video chat? This seems to be a growing trend. Medicare is even covering it. This is a great idea since we have a large shortage of psychiatrists. They can help people who are too afraid to leave their house. Some doctors are using it to treat prison inmates.
This is also a more discreet way to see your doctor if you are worried about privacy. Since there is no office to go to, no one can see you there. People shouldn't be ashamed of mental illness, but some people are or they just really want their privacy.
One doctor had this complaint about it:
“A caring touch or handing a patient a tissue can never be possible. I am unable to clearly see self-inflicted wounds or tears.”
In 2006, South Carolina faced a major shortage of hospital beds for psychiatric patients. They started a program to get the doctors to see patients in remote, rural areas online. It has saved the local hospitals a lot of money.
If you can't find a psychiatrist in your area, this is one way to get your treatment. I'm all for making treatment more accessible. This is such a great idea!
This was originally published on Liberal America on June 29, 2016.
A Cook County, Illinois, judge ruled that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) should be added to the list of conditions that qualify to receive medical marijuana. Judge Neil Cohen also said that the state engaged in a private investigation which was “constitutionally inappropriate.”
People can petition the government to get conditions added to the list. They were getting frustrated because Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has denied all of these petitions to get PTSD on the list. There have been several lawsuits filed on the topic.
This lawsuit was filed by an Iraqi War veteran. Judge Cohen ordered that PTSD be added to the list within the next 30 days.
The advisory board voted unanimously to add PTSD to the list, but the Illinois Department of Public Health Director, Nirav Shah, conducted his own investigation, and rejected it because their “standard” of medical evidence said PTSD “appears nowhere in the Act or the Department’s rules.”
Judge Cohen said in the ruling:
“The Director’s legal duty was to review the evidence, review the advisory board’s recommendations based thereon and render a final decision accepting or denying the proposal,” the judge wrote. “Instead, Director Shah engaged in a private investigation, hidden from public view and more importantly, hidden from the parties, and arrived at his conclusion based thereon. This process was constitutionally inappropriate.”
The Judge requested a follow-up hearing to make sure they comply. The list currently contains over 40 conditions including cancer, arthritis, or Parkinson’s disease.
Gov. Rauner is not a big fan of the medical marijuana program, but he’s compromised, and the state now has a law for this. They extended the program until 2020.
Also, doctors will no longer have to recommend cannabis, they just have to certify that the patient has a qualifying condition that allows them to purchase it.
They are also changing the procedure to get new conditions added to the list, so hopefully it won’t be so difficult to do this anymore.
This was originally published on Liberal America on June 9, 2016.
Suicide has become the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Every day, around 150 people are dying from suicide. An estimated 250,000 people a year become suicide survivors. We need to find a way to get these numbers down.
We need to spread awareness of mental illness and suicide.
Mental illness can strike at any time, but often starts in a person’s late teens or early twenties. Many people still don’t understand the nature of these diseases. People still say things like “Just lighten up,” or even “Get over it.” Many people see mental illness as a character flaw, or the result of bad parenting.
Those myths are false; mental illnesses are real brain diseases.
Trying to figure out who might attempt suicide as a result of mental illness is a difficult undertaking. Researchers are studying brain activity in MRIs and functional MRIs, also known as fMRIs. The tests look for high levels of stress hormones in the blood.
Researchers are creating complicated computer algorithms to see if there is some kind of pattern in the data that might predict who might attempt suicide. The National Institute of Mental Health launched a study using all of these risk markers to try to figure out a if there’s a pattern to people who might be suicidal.
For now, psychiatrists and therapists mostly rely on what the patient tells them. Patients often lie about their feelings and plans. The widely accepted risk markers (mental illness, stress at a job, being male) are not specific enough to predict who will actively attempt to end their lives in these patients.
Depression is usually associated with suicide, but it is not the most common illness among suicidal patients. Many people who attempt suicide or are suffering from suicidal ideations have anxiety disorders or addiction or other mood disorders.
Mental illnesses are often debilitating, and we need to be doing more to help those who are suffering. Last month, I wrote about Mental Health Awareness month. Every month should be used to spread awareness of these awful mental illnesses.