The unexpected thing my psychiatrist did for my anxiety

During any given week I answer the phone no more than once — and I never make calls. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have this suffocating “phone anxiety” issue. It’s one of the more problematic ways my anxiety manifests itself, because phones are just an unavoidable part of life. Thankfully, most people are content with text messaging and email.

Still, some doctors are just stubborn, and they like their phones. But if I receive a call from my doctor’s office after 5 p.m., I know it is actually him calling — and I (try to) answer. That’s the only time though. Otherwise, it goes to voicemail — which I may or may not check.

During a particularly severe episode with depression (and suicidal thoughts), my psychiatrist asked, for at least the seventh time in a year, “What would it take to get you to see a therapist?” I laughed, because the question had become somewhat rhetorical.  more

Hiding my mental illness from my Asian family almost killed me

The silent shame of having a mental illness in a Chinese family.

“Don’t you dare go back to that doctor,” my mother growled into the phone. “He’ll put ‘bipolar’ on your record and then you’ll never be able to get a job.”

I nodded into the receiver. “Okay.”

I never went back. Seven years later, I woke up in a psych ward.

Growing up, I thought I was emotionally healthy. I had a large Chinese family on my mother’s side (my father is white). We were a lively, loud, tight-knit group consisting of around 20 blood relatives and 3 million non-blood relatives. Everyone knew each other’s business. Distant family members inquired about school, commented on my weight, and asked if I had a boyfriend. The only time it was “quiet” was when the Mahjong table came out and the only noise you’d hear was the click-clacking of tiles.  more

Jack the Ripper Identified

Unmasking Jack the Ripper 127 years after his murders suddenly stopped.

The tale of Jack the Ripper involves five extremely brutal slayings of prostitutes between August and November of 1888 in the Whitechapel area of London, England. Legend has it that the perpetrator called himself Jack the Ripper in letters he sent to the London police—taking credit for the crimes. It was commonly believed that the Ripper was a medical doctor due to the significant cutting of the victims’ bodies.

The Ripper case was the first serial killer story in history to cause a widespread media frenzy and that was due to the proliferation of inexpensive broadsheet newspapers in Victorian London in the late 19th century. By the fall of 1888, at the height of the Ripper’s killing spree, one million newspapers with updated stories on the case were sold each day—an unprecedented circulation of newspapers at the time.

The Jack the Ripper case has generated a glut of conspiracy theories concerning his identity over the years. In fact, there are at least 100 different theories about the identity of Jack the Ripper. One of the most colorful involves a British royal family connection and the Freemasons. Indeed, much of the legend of Jack the Ripper is pure mythology, including the iconic image of the top hat wearing gentleman that accompanies this article.  more

We fear death, but what if dying isn’t as bad as we think?

“The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else,” wrote Earnest Becker in his book, The Denial of Death. It’s a fear strong enough to compel us to force kale down our throats, run sweatily on a treadmill at 7am on a Monday morning, and show our genitals to a stranger with cold hands and a white coat if we feel something’s a little off.

But our impending end isn’t just a benevolent supplier of healthy behaviours. Researchers have found death can determine our prejudices, whether we give to charity or wear sun cream, our desire to be famous, what type of leader we vote for, how we name our children and even how we feel about breastfeeding.   more