Oh thank goodness, someone finally says that mindfulness practice isn’t for everyone. Neuroscientist Catherine Kerr studies the effects of mindfulness practice on the brain, and is a practitioner herself, but denies that it is the emotional and scientific wonderdrug it’s been made out to be.
Kerr was an author on a 2005 paper that claimed, tentatively, that mindfulness meditation — basically, focusing one’s attention on the feelings, sensations and emotions in the present moment — increases the thickness of the cerebral cortex, which many news outlets jumped on as proof that meditation is absolutely an effective treatment for stress and depression for everyone. Kerr is much more reserved: There’s evidence that meditation is beneficial to brain function, but not enough to paint it in the unfalteringly positive light that some have done. Keep reading »
I’ve had anxiety and depression for years, long before I started therapy and began taking medication under the advisement of a psychiatrist. I look back at my teenage and college years and see glaring signs that I was unhappy but didn’t know how to put it into words that anyone, including myself, could understand. Mental illness runs in my family, the most notable example being my dad, who died nearly two years ago from drug addiction, something that developed as a “coping” mechanism for his untreated mental health issues, if you ask me. I’ve taken my mental health very seriously as a result, as I’ve seen far too tragically what can happen if you don’t. I’ve been seeing the same bad ass therapist for eight years now and my prescription for Lexapro, an anxiety-focused anti-depressant, has helped clear the fog so that I can delve deep into the exacerbating issues. I think I’ve made an extraordinary amount of progress in that regard, though I’ve come to accept that a dull, ever-present level of sadness might always reside within me. In some ways, I’ve been oddly okay with that. As an extremely sensitive person, I don’t know that it would be physically/mentally possible for me to exist in this world, with all its terribleness, and feel completely happy. To me, the pursuit of total happiness is a blind one — to actually achieve it, you’d have to be just that. Blind.
With that said, I know enough about my brain chemistry to be aware of when I’m feeling an unhappiness that is outside the realm of what I consider normal. And for the last, oh, eight months to a year, it has become increasingly abnormal. Keep reading »
The results of a UK study on depression and exercise show that it’s possible that exercise is as effective for treating depression as therapy or medication. The researchers caution, of course, that better studies need to be done to come to a conclusion.
But cool! Maybe that’s one of the reasons we get depressed in the winter (I was not going to the gym during the Endless Winter this year, that’s for damn sure). Medical News Today goes on to review the chemical reasons that exercise helps with depression: It increases our levels of a protein called PCG-1a1 that purges substances from the body that are harmful to our mental health, and also helps our enzymes to speed up the conversion of a stress-linked metabolite called kynurenine into kynurenic acid. Keep reading »
Ever since I heard about Robin Williams’ devastating suicide, I’ve been thinking about this post and how I was going to write it. I’ve thought about it as I was drifting off to sleep. What did I want to say? How did I want to say it? Would it come out right? Would I even know what to say? What sorts of emotions would this stir?
The word suicide is even like a black hole of sorts. It’s expansive, never-ending and dark, and no matter how much you talk about it, there’s always more than can be said. Always. I wish I could say that you can’t relate, but unfortunately, I know far too many of you can. Maybe you’re even grappling with what to say and trying to find the words to comfort a family member, a friend and even yourself. It’s been 11 years since my father’s suicide, and I still fumble to find the right words every single day. So today, I will write them. Not just for my father. Not just for Robin Williams. But for me and for you — and for the millions that live with the effect of suicide every day. In my darkest days of grief, these are the five things I’ve learned about suicide… Keep reading »
Selfish (adj.): Lacking concern for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.
Death is not profitable or pleasurable. It’s just nothing. It’s just not suffering. It has nothing to do with benefiting or not benefiting oneself or others. Saying that someone was selfish for having committed suicide is like saying that it was selfish of a person caught on fire to scream in agony.
When the topic of suicide is brought to the table, my primary concern isn’t to address people who have suicidal ideation. Everyone else is already doing that: They say, if you’re depressed or thinking about suicide, please seek help. Keep reading »
Deleting your Twitter is the best thing you could’ve done, but I hope this letter still finds you.
When I heard the news, I thought of you. I realize that no amount of consolation or sympathy will make it easier to grieve. But I want you to know that I know what you’re going through. I know what you’re feeling — overwhelming grief, anger, sadness. You’re probably a little numb, too.
You are a survivor. I, too, am a survivor. My father committed suicide when I was nine. Read more on YourTango…