The cost of staying silent on mental health

When his self-employment worries escalated, a writer found it hard to ask for help

Earlier this year, I admitted myself to psychiatric hospital. I went in voluntarily, only to watch nurses search through my possessions to remove anything I could harm myself with: razor, pills, iPhone cable. I was put on watch, and for days I was not allowed outside unaccompanied.

I shared a ward with people in financial services, law, advertising, the drinks industry, commercial aviation, the military, and more. Men and women diagnosed with depression, anxiety, bulimia, anorexia, self-harming, personality disorders, and chronic addiction to drink, drugs and gambling.  more

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What Happens When You Mention Suicide in Therapy?

Mental health clinicians are trained to navigate discussions about self-harm.

The first time John came to my office for treatment, I asked him many questions about his background, his symptoms, his strengths, and his goals. And then I came to a standard question about suicide: “Have you been thinking you’d be better off dead or wishing you were dead?”

John hesitated, then replied, “No . . . Not really.”

“Not really?” I asked, sensing there was more to be said.

John looked away and sighed. He then explained that at his lowest points, he sometimes feels like maybe it’d be better if he were dead, and at times, he had wished he could go to sleep and never wake up. I spent some time assessing how serious the risk was that John might end his own life, and concluded that the risk was low. We made a plan for how John and I would monitor and manage his thoughts of suicide.  more

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Explainer: How does mental illness affect sentencing?

Just last week, the Victorian Court of Appeal significantly reduced the sentence given to Akon Guode, a mother who killed three of her children after driving her car into a lake in Melbourne. The main reason for the 8½ year sentence reduction was that the trial judge had not sufficiently taken Guode’s major depression into account.

While the circumstances of this offence were unusual, it is common for offenders to have mental health problems. Surveys have shown that almost half of Australian prison entrants report being affected by a mental disorder. With that in mind, how are mental health issues taken into account during the criminal justice process?  more

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A mental illness journey: Clinging to hope after hitting personal rock bottom

Rock bottom, looking back, came 11 days after the Green Bay Packers lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game.

My life, along with my family’s fabric, had slowly unraveled for months, spiraling into the abyss of mental illness. We had every reason to be happy in the fall of 2014. I was in my first season on the Packers beat, a dream job. My wife, Kelly, and I had three healthy, amazing boys. Each day was vibrant.

Depression doesn’t need permission to disrupt. It can strike when you least expect. That fall, Kelly had what can only be described as a mental breakdown. What followed was a routine of suicide attempts and psychiatric hospitalizations, each flailing treatment an unsuccessful solution. It felt like the illness was always one step ahead, no matter what we did.

Then in late January 2015, rock bottom.  more

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Being Adopted Adds An Extra Layer To My Anxiety

Four years ago, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Following a long, harrowing job search after losing an even more soul-crushing job, I had finally landed my dream position. Yet, any time I saw co-workers having a conversation I wasn’t involved in, I was convinced it was about how they didn’t like my work, and I would lose my job again. I knew it was time to head back to therapy to address these irrational thoughts before they got out of hand, and I scored off the charts for GAD.

Like many others who receive unexpected mental health diagnoses, I wondered: am I “weak” — though, as I’ve learned, there’s nothing “weak” about needing support for mental illness — or is it just my genetic lottery? But as someone who’s adopted, I didn’t know “where” my mental health condition came from — or what may surface later in life.  more

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Can You Boost Your Mental Health by Keeping a Journal?

Consistently and freely writing can help you offload stress and give your brain time to heal

MOST OF US CAN LIST THE lifestyle choices that help maintain and improve mental health. Regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep and staying socially active are all proven and well-known strategies. But another less-known yet equally simple act also has solid research to support its efficacy: writing.

Keeping a journal is a powerful mental health tool. At the American Psychiatric Association says: “Journaling can provide general wellness and self-improvement benefits, such as making you more self-aware, boosting creativity and helping you build better habits. Journaling can help you better understand your feelings and emotions and help you manage stress. Writing about things that have frustrated or upset you can help you to let go of some of the stress and gain perspective.”  more

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Is Electroconvulsive Therapy a Miracle Cure for Depression?

The controversial treatment is often considered a last resort when antidepressants fail.

In 1990, life was good for Carol Kivler. At age 40, she was happily teaching business skills at a college near her home in Lawrence, New Jersey, raising three healthy tweens, and married to a loving husband. “I had a beautiful home and money in the bank,” she says.

And then, without warning or explanation, “depression brought me to my knees.”

Kivler couldn’t concentrate. She couldn’t sleep. She lost her appetite. “What do I have to be depressed about?” she kept asking herself.

Her doctor explained that a chemical imbalance in Kivler’s brain could be to blame and started her on antidepressants, cautioning that they could take up to six weeks to kick in. Kivler had only been on the medication a month before she started having psychotic symptoms.  more

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BS Podcast: Do People With Mental Illness Suffer from Trauma?

Many people don’t understand how mental illness, in and of itself, can be traumatic. Everything from the emotions, physical sensations, and even treatment – locked in a ward or a hospital, often against our will – is a recipe for trauma. While every person with mental illness is different, most people with serious and persistent mental illness describe being traumatized in addition to the impact of the illness itself.

In this episode of Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast, our hosts discuss their own traumas as they relate to living with – and getting help for – mental illness. They both recall their time receiving treatment in the psychiatric hospital and Michelle tells the story of her encounter with a police officer that ended less than ideally.  more

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