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 »
I have shared with you all lovelies before that I have PTSD and, because of it, suffer from pretty crushing anxiety sometimes. I’m pretty much on top of it during my waking hours, but lately (i.e. increasingly since May) that daytime anxiety just feels like it’s getting pushed to the nighttime.
Here are all the things I’ve tried to make myself sleep better: Keep reading »
The journal Pediatrics published research today that suggests — pretty strongly — that physical activity is important for kids who have ADHD because it increases executive control and inhibition, much in the way that ADHD medications do. Exercise: Possibly the best thing for all mental health?
No word as to how it affects adult ADHD, but I’d wager that it’s also beneficial. James Hamblin at The Atlantic raises a really important point about how we treat kids with ADHD:
“‘If physical activity is established as an effective intervention for ADHD,” they continued, “it will also be important to address possible complementary effects of physical activity and existing treatment strategies …’ Which is a kind of phenomenal degree of reservation compared to the haste with which millions of kids have been introduced to amphetamines and other stimulants to address said ADHD. The number of prescriptions increased from 34.8 to 48.4 million between 2007 and 2011 alone. The pharmaceutical market around the disorder has grown to several billion dollars in recent years while school exercise initiatives have enjoyed no such spoils of entrepreneurialism.”
Keep reading »
I’ve said it briefly before, but I want to say it again in more depth: I’m not ashamed of my emotional disorder. In the six months since I started writing for a living, I’ve had a rash of people — okay, trolls — on the internet writing e-mails, leaving comments, and even writing blogs about my mental stability, but specifically saying that there’s something “wrong” with me.
I mean, kind of. I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I don’t think I’ve ever said explicitly why: Because I was in a long-term, abusive relationship, and because six months after I left it, I was raped. On top of that, I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 13, and I’ve gone through a slew of diagnoses to figure out exactly why I feel emotions as intensely as I do, and my doctors and I have recently settled on it being sort of a generalized personality disorder — not exactly one or the other of those listed in the DSM-V. 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 »
When I went to the MoMA, I went not knowing what exactly they had in their collection. I do that with museums — why spoil the fun of discovery? I went to the National Gallery of Art in 2012 and was preoccupied with a Sol LeWitt and a Lawrence Weiner before I rounded the corner and happened upon Tony Smith’s Die, a seminal minimalist artwork that I never dreamed of encountering in person, the kind of artwork that absolutely requires your physical presence in order to actually understand the artwork, and I was floored and overwhelmed by how lucky I felt to be in the same room as this object. Keep reading »