Pure OCD: A Life Story

How to Change Your Brain By Accepting that it Can’t be Changed

It’s not easy for me to confess just how often I cried in the fall of 2009. I wish I didn’t care, but I’m still a slave to some old notions. All of which is to say that I cried quite a lot, and I’m ashamed to admit it.

If you found yourself in midtown Manhattan that autumn, around noon, you may have witnessed a 26-year-old man with his hands jammed in his pockets, marching across the city. He’d usually head south to the Village, but sometimes he’d go west to Hell’s Kitchen or east to the river. He’d be wearing an outfit that just barely met the standards of “business casual”—ink-stained khakis a size too big, untucked polo, brown sneakers doing a poor imitation of dress shoes. And if you committed the ultimate New York faux pas and actually looked him in the eyes, you’d see the tears.

The forgettable 26-year-old was me, and I was crying for joy—for the beauty of the world. Who knows what inspired these tears, exactly? Maybe I had watched an old woman teach a young blind girl how to use her cane to detect a sidewalk curb, and maybe I thought, this is someone with real problems, and look at her courage. Or maybe I had phoned my mother in a panic, and she had restored my self-belief with a convincing pep talk. In any case, the bracing truth reached me: “Yes, of course! Life is wonderful, and you never want to leave! You idiot!” So the tears flowed—tears of relief and salvation.  more

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Biology may make certain PTSD patients unresponsive to behavioral therapy

How well-connected a particular brain network is, and how successfully memories are formed, may determine which patients with post-traumatic stress disorder benefit from behavioral therapy, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found.

The finding could indicate a biological subtype of PTSD whose clinical relevance only becomes obvious when patients undergo treatment, the researchers said. Furthermore, by replicating their results across a diverse range of patients, the researchers were able to clearly and objectively characterize a biological signature in PTSD patients who differ in their response to behavioral therapy.  more

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The Unreliable Reader

In Esmé Weijun Wang’s book of personal essays, “The Collected Schizophrenias,” it’s the reader, not the writer, who is an unreliable narrator.

“I write this while experiencing a strain of psychosis known as Cotard’s delusion, in which the patient believes that they are dead,” the novelist Esmé Weijun Wang writes at the beginning of “Perdition Days,” an essay from her new book, The Collected Schizophrenias. (Read an excerpt on Longreads.) “What the writer’s confused state means is not beside the point, because it is the point,” she continues. “I am in here, somewhere: cogito ergo sum.” The passage moves swiftly, from first person agency (“I am writing”) to distanced third person (“the patient,” “the writer”) to the famous Descartes assertion, in Latin, “I think, therefore I am.” As a reader, it’s astonishing and a little unnerving to consider the immediacy of the prose, your intimacy with a speaker searching to find the correct vantage from which to narrate the strangely drawn, difficult-to-map districts of her mind. more

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HERE’S EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DEALING WITH ANXIETY ATTACKS

“Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore.” Okay, to most wide-eyed children, Elsa from Disney’s Frozen is just this super-cool, kind of complicated snow queen with a great singing voice and a killer side braid. But if you really boil it down, the character is oh-so-relatable to the adult set, too. Think about it: She spends most of her life hiding from the outside world. She’s so worried about what might happen that she secludes herself from all of it. Beyond withdrawing from her family and friends, she avoids her problems instead of accepting or dealing with them. And not to get all clinical, but might it be possible that Elsa was suffering from some pretty intense anxiety while she was refusing to build a snowman with sweet Anna?

Sure, it’s a cheeky comparison, but in today’s ever-busy, always-working, rise-and-grind #hustleculture, all people are practically wired for anxiety. We may not have to worry about dudes trying to steal our castles and family fortune (probably), but the demands of life today are no joke, whether you’re a successful CEO, an analyst by day and yoga instructor by night, or a living-paycheck-to-paycheck recent grad trying to figure out WTF to do next. So, in the event your worries ever percolate into anxiety-attack territory, here’s what to do.  more

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Interview: Artist with Anxiety Illustrates Mental Health Tips She Learns in Therapy

Illustrator Kate Allan was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder as an adult. The identification not only validated her experience, but it has given her the opportunity to use her artistic talent to help herself and others in the quest for improved mental health. Allan has taken what she’s learned since entering therapy to create a mental health comic about mindfulness. “Mindfulness,” she says on Twitter, “can be useful for literally everyone, but I found it particularly helpful for anxiety—this exercise got me out of the house and functioning again.”

Through the guidance of a cute bunny, Allan’s 10-panel comic introduces mindfulness and how it can help pinpoint emotions. By noticing, acknowledging, and thinking through feelings, the practice emphasizes that emotions are temporary—not part of our identity. You, for example, are not sad, but you are experiencing sadness at this moment. The feeling will pass, just as all others eventually will. Allan treats this serious subject without judgment and through a charming presentation. It’s thoughtfully created and, above all, is comforting to those who have anxiety; Allan is reminding us that no one is alone.  more

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Teen opens dialogue on mental illnesses

The challenges presented by the prevalence of mental illness in society are numerous and complex. Victoria St. Jean, a senior at Pilgrim High School, is trying to make a difference by opening a door to conversation about the subject – from people who personally experience varying degrees of mental illnesses or disorders themselves.

“I think this is a topic that needs to be talked about more in society, because even though it’s 2019, with a lot of people it’s a touchy subject and they really don’t seem to want to talk about it,” St. Jean said. “It’s like any other disorder. Just because you can’t always see it on the outside, doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter as much.”  more

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The Practice That Improved My Mental Health When Nothing Else Did

I thought that when I was accepted to the university of my dreams, it would put me on the path to freedom—that I’d land a great job and live out a successful career. But so much changed over the five years that followed, and my journey didn’t go quite as planned.

When I transitioned from my suburban all-girls high school to a large Ivy League university in the city, I felt a major change in social and academic pressure. As an engineering student, I spent long hours in rigorous classes and studying—not to mention, the dorm I lived in was crowded and always, always loud. The image-focused culture made me question my health choices, and the full-force academic pressure put me in a mode of constant anxiety and stress. During my first year, I became pretty sick, a mental kind of sick that was manifesting physically as an eating disorder. That’s when I found yoga.  more

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Plight of those with ‘dual diagnosis’ most evident in the homeless

Dual diagnosis is an illness which a person experiences when they have both an addiction problem and a mental health issue

On a late evening in April 2017, I sat in an emergency accommodation hostel, a place where there are no facilities for you to stay during the day and so you are put out on to the streets every morning.

But I didn’t know that yet.

In fact, I didn’t know much at all about how the system worked.  more

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