I hate the term holiday blues. I think that’s because when I was 19, December rolled around and I fell into a full-blown depression, complete with sleepless nights, loss of appetite and thoughts of suicide. The holiday blues sound like an uptempo jazz standard compared to the nightmarish thoughts blaring in my head. I’m hardly the only college student who has teetered on the brink of a breakdown. It’s practically a cliche to experience some sort of mental and emotional suffering when you’re that age. But at the time, it didn’t feel like a cliche. It felt like the fight of my life, the recovery from which, with the help of therapy, was an epic journey up from an underworld I feared I might inhabit for the rest of my life. Months later, sitting in my therapist’s office, trying to solve a Rubick’s Cube that she kept on her desk, I clicked one row of orange squares together and felt a spark of hope. I woke up the next morning and thought, What’s for breakfast? I knew I was doing a lot better — at least enough to begin to function again.
I’ve never suffered another episode of depression, but ever since then, I’ve never experienced a happy holiday season either. I know that this is a particularly difficult time of year for many people. Especially those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or those who are grappling with more tangible hardships like financial struggles or a death in the family. I wish I could say I had a definitive reason to feel so meh in December. It’s much harder to pin down my discomfort around this time of year because it’s not related to my external circumstances — I have a wonderful family, great friends, a happy relationship and a job I love. I have much to be grateful and joyous about and I know it. The thing is, I consider myself a more-or-less happy person — at least for big pockets of time year-round. I understand how to access joy more often as I get older — positive thoughts, low expectations, balance. Even still, at this time of year, despite my best efforts, despite all my blessings, I find myself hanging on tight and crossing my fingers that I don’t spiral into darkness again. Keep reading »
A new study from Ohio State University in the Journal of Sex Research suggests that casual teenage sex has a reciprocal relationship with poor mental health – and that they contribute to one another over time.
An important thing to note is that this link was found to be the same for both men and women. “That was unexpected because there is still this sexual double standard in society that says it is OK for men to have casual sexual relationships, but it is not OK for women,” said assistant professor of human sciences Claire Kamp Dush, Ph.D. In this sense, it seems that both genders have the same relationship to casual sex — if only pop culture would catch on to that! Keep reading »
Not many kids dream of growing up and spending their days studying the nuances of the most apathetic feeling known to the human race, yet, Thomas Goetz, a professor of empirical educational research at the University of Konstanz in Germany, found the subject of boredom at least marginally interesting enough to delve deeper into it.
“Given the high frequency of boredom in various situations encountered in daily life and the variety of detrimental experiences to which boredom is related, it is rather surprising that to date there has been little research conducted on this specific emotion,” Goetz wrote in the study published this week in the Journal Motivation and Emotion.
He makes a good point I suppose. People feel bored a lot. So, Goetz and his colleagues recruited a group of high school students (who better?) and group college students for their boredom study. The results were staggering. Well, not really, but they discovered that there are five distinct categories of boredom. Find out which one you might be experiencing right this moment. Keep reading »
Most of the “scientific studies” in the Daily Mail make me chuckle (new survey from a contact lens manufacturer says that 90% of people feel self-conscious about wearing glasses!) but this one — about low self-esteem, existential angst and stuffed animals — is worth serious consideration. Keep reading »
Winter is coming. Which means that seasonal affective disorder season is right around the corner. I don’t know about you, but the first thing I reach for when I’m depressed is a sugar fix. Miss Cakehead, the same company that brought you STD Cupcakes, wants to offer you a something sweet this SAD season. The Depressed Cake Shop, their latest pop-up venture featuring only grey baked goods thematically tied to mental illness, is serving dreary desserts (that hopefully still taste good) to residents all around the UK. They hope that the treats will raise awareness and money for those struggling with mental health issues. Funds from the stores will be donated to mental health charities or help fund therapy sessions for people in need.”[Baking] has long been thought to be therapeutic for depression sufferers”, said creative director of Miss Cakehead, Emma Thomas. I’ll eat to that. [Design Taxi]
Depression might be known more as a women’s disease, but new research shows men suffer just as much—only differently. When rage, risk-taking, and substance abuse are taken into account, men are just as likely to be diagnosed with depression as women, the study says. In fact, if nontraditional symptoms are properly identified, men may actually be more likely to suffer from major depression, the “Los Angeles Times” reports, adding it’s news that may help explain why men are four times more likely to commit suicide. Read more at Newser…
Do you have anxiety? You’re in good company. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there’s around 40 million people dealing with anxiety disorders in the U.S. alone. That’s a lot of friggin’ people — and I happen to be one of them.
Anxiety is something I live with and manage every day of my life. Most of the time, because I’ve figured out how to manage it in a way that makes sense for me, living on the anxiety spectrum makes me a sensitive, thoughtful and occasionally high-strung person. Sometimes it can really suck, but it’s my reality, so c’est la vie or something. I first developed anxiety when I was graduating from college, which I imagine is fairly typical. You’re birthing yourself into the Real And Terrifying World and there’s so much to think about. My anxiety manifested as insomnia, but, like, a particular kind of insomnia. Every time I would be on the verge of falling asleep, I’d have anxiety about falling asleep, which would wake me up. Awful. That went on for three months before I finally said fuck it and went to student health, where I was diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder. Whoops! Keep reading »
Yo guys, get ready for some dark times. Like something out of a Todd Solondz movie, self-help radio show hosts Lynne Rosen, 46, and her boyfriend John Littig, 48, committed suicide together Wednesday night, by suffocating themselves with plastic bags. The pair hosted a show called “The Pursuit of Happiness” on WBAI Pacifica radio, and regularly spoke about how to overcome depression and lead more fulfilling lives. Rosen, a trained psychotherapist, was the main host of the show, and Littig––a motivational speaker and life coach by trade and a musician on the side – often appeared with her. Together, Littig and Rosen founded the company Why Not Now, a life coaching program designed to “foster your inner strengths, identify hidden and untapped resources, and put you confidently on the path to designing the life you’ve always wanted to live.” Keep reading »
Is there a penalty for a woman who breaks through the glass ceiling and, then, from her position of power, admits that she struggled with mental illness in her past?
Yesterday New York City’s Speaker of the City Council and the Democratic candidate for mayor Christine Quinn revealed in the New York Times that she had suffered from bulimia and alcoholism for a good portion of her life. Quinn explained how her mom suffered through breast cancer throughout Quinn’s childhood and after her mom died, binge eating and purging gave her a brief feeling of relief. It was also in college that Quinn binge drank to the point of developing alcoholism. She checked into a rehab center at age 26 and got control of her eating disorder and her problematic drinking; it wasn’t until three years ago that Quinn, who is also the first mayoral candidate to be openly gay, went entirely dry.
Christine Quinn’s admission echoed another powerful woman’s recent decision to go public about a private struggle: “Morning Joe” cohost Mika Brzezinski revealed in MORE magazine that she has suffered from exercise bulimia for many years, meaning that she binges on food and then over-exercises to burn off the calories.
Brzezinski and Quinn aren’t the only two well-known women to admit to mental illness: Carrie Fisher and Catherine Zeta-Jones have both been public about their struggles with bipolar disorder, Lena Dunham talks about her OCD, and plenty of other celebs have been open about their mental health struggles, too. But I suppose that Christine Quinn and Mika Brzezinski fascinate me in particular because they both work in fairly male-dominated fields — the mainstream media and politics — that aren’t known for being warm and fuzzy. Keep reading »
If you’ve ever been depressed or if you’re currently depressed or are wondering if you’re possibly depressed, walk — no run! — to the blog Hyperbole & A Half, where blogger Allie deftly, and sometimes hilariously, chronicles what it’s like to live with depression. In a new entry, posted today, Allie explains how depression can at first make you feel powerful in its detachment, and then slowly make it difficult to even approximate human emotions.
I could no longer rely on genuine emotion to generate facial expressions, and when you have to spend every social interaction consciously manipulating your face into shapes that are only approximately the right ones, alienating people is inevitable. Keep reading »