AnxietyBipolar ThoughtsDepressionMental Health News

The International Bipolar Foundation recently shared this article: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317919.php

And I found it pretty fascinating.

Researchers have identified 7 genes that are related to insomnia. That alone is great news, as gene therapy becomes an ever more real way to treat mental illness.

But they also found some interesting associations. Now, I should note that none of this should be surprising. Everything I am about to tell you should make perfect sense. But it is still nice to see hard science backing up what soft science already associated.

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There are a few words in the English lexicon that appear to draw a lot of power.

Sport is a good one. Lots of things claim to be sports, and saying something isn’t a sport is often very controversial; so much so that pretty much any type of physical competition is now considered a sport. Hell, even activities that aren’t competitive take on the moniker, like hunting or fishing.

Somehow, we have deemed “sport” to be the word with the most honor bestowed upon it, and words like “competition” are deemed to sit below it.

Art is this way as well. People clearly not making art claim to be artists all the time, like restorative painters. And people that sit well outside the traditional visual, literary, musical, or thespian arts claim all the time to be creating art.

Hell, I’ve even said that once in this space.

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So, I have both been avoiding this essay, and also chomping at the bit to publish it. This one is a difficult one, and I think suicide attempt survivors are united both in our visceral reaction to this story, and our opinion of what happened.

You have probably all heard about this, but if you haven’t, you need to look it up. A 20 year old woman named Michelle Carter was just found guilty of manslaughter for encouraging the suicide of her friend, Conrad Roy III, almost entirely through text messages and a single phone call. The suicide happened on July 12, 2014.

I have no desire to get into the legal talk about the case or the verdict. Frankly, I don’t care. I have an uneducated opinion that I won’t share here. But I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about how significant an influence a person’s words can be, and how important timing is in that scenario.

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“Perhaps [ideas] are, for instance, like some big salmon or trout. They are not born fully grown; they are not even born in the sea or water where they normally live. They are born hundreds of miles away from their home grounds, where the rivers narrow to tiny streams. Just as it takes time for a speck of fish spawn to mature into a fully-grown fish, so we need time for everything that develops and crystallizes in our world of ideas.”

“Nothing is as dangerous in architecture as dealing with separated problems. If we split life into separated problems we split the possibilities to make good building art.”

-Alvar Aalto

Aalto is one of my favorite architects/ furniture designers. Most architects I know consider him one of their favorites. I won’t get into anything about his architecture, but you should look him up if you like architecture or design. He was amazing.

Like most of the biggest architects throughout history, he was also a pretty incredible thinker and philosopher. He always spoke of big ideas in relation to architecture, but many of the things he had to say have impact in most areas of life.

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I have had two girlfriends in my past that listed my mental instability as part of the reason they ended it with me. I don’t believe either girl did, or ever would, leave me just because of that alone. There were, in both cases, plenty of reasons to end it anyway.

But they did mention it. And that has always been curious to me.

It could be taken two ways:

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Caffeine is known to induce anxiety in people.

This side effect is pronounced in people that have a capacity for anxiety, but really it can have this effect on anyone. Anxiety is simply a common side effect of caffeine.

When I was a kid I was told a lot of things about caffeine, that it would stunt my growth most commonly, but no one ever talked to me about anxiety. Of course, this is really the only true side effect of it.

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“Remember why you came and while you’re alive to experience the warmth before you go”

– Incubus “The Warmth”

I struggle on most days with my responsibilities at home. Parenthood is very difficult for me and something I feel like I’m getting worse at with each passing day. There are times when I get unreasonably irritable, times when my frustration doesn’t match the occasion.

For what it is worth, no one really helps me with it. There isn’t a single person in my life trying to help me be a better parent, or even help me ease the difficulties of it. Now, that isn’t to say people don’t help out, even a lot. We get a ton of support in terms of daily babysitting or even if we have something we want or need to do. Our children are always welcome and in good hands and we have a lot of options. But what I am talking about is not that type of help. I don’t mean take the kids off my hands for some time help. I mean emotional support. I mean clearing my head kind of support. I mean relieving stress and learning to avoid it kind of support.

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“Maybe the life I think I’m living is a paranoid delusion…Sanity is a valuable possession; I hoard it the way people once hoarded money. I save it, so I will have enough, when the time comes.”
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

I first read The Handmaid’s Tale in high school. It was one of the very slew of dystopian near future books I digested, along with 1984, A Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451. I have only read a few dystopian novels since high school that impacted me that same way these five did. For the record, those books are: Gulliver’s Travels, Children of Men, The Road, and A Scanner Darkly. Every dystopian story gets compared to these giants in my mind.

I read it again recently, because I want to experience it again before I begin watching the HULU series. And upon this second reading, I am finding a lot of quotes that really describe my experiences with mental health rather well. There is a passage about why we say night falls even though if you look east, it clearly rises just like the morning. This is about perspective. If we focus on the sun, we define our days on the sun. If we focus on something else, we see things in a different way. I wrote a blog about this passage as well, but it isn’t nearly as interesting to me as the one that opens this essay, or at least, this one is less expected.

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I try to be a fixer. Or, maybe I don’t try so much as I can’t get out of my own way sometimes.

I don’t think I’m particularly good at fixing things, by the way. It isn’t really a strength of mine. But that is where I often find myself.

That’s at least part of why this website exists right?

I am not the type of person that you should call if you just want someone to listen and commiserate with you. I know that often (usually?) that is the best thing to do for someone, just listen. But that isn’t how I’m wired.

When a problem is in front of me, my brain just zeroes in on any possible solution.

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Anxiety has an amazing ability to humble you.

No matter how big and tough and strong you think you are, anxiety can reduce you to a balled up, crying, shaking wreck. All you want is to be held like a baby, tears stream down your face, and you have no control over yourself.

I often have this odd sensation on my skin when my anxiety is high. It is hyper-sensitive to the touch. Even blankets or clothes can irritate to the point of pain. All you want is to be hidden in a pile of blankets four feet high, but it feels like a sunburn all over your body.

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