"F*ck This Shit": Female Veterans, Trauma, Informed Consent and Working Towards Something Better

Monday, February 16, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

War comes at a great cost to the people who fight. 

We are great at programming people to be soldiers. At this point, we can adjust the brain at will in order to make sure that the people we send to fight our battles will do what we need them to, to protect American interests. 

But we suck terribly at reintegrating people. I’ve seen men hang on desperately to the notion that, “All Commies are the devil,” because they needed to believe it lest they recognize that they murdered women and children who could have been theirs. I have also seen the ones who recognized that these things were not true reduced to such horrendous guilt that they were never able to function again. 

This is the real cost of war. Sure it’s about money and about political interests and a whole lot of other shit, but the price we pay is too high to justify it unless we assume that the “greater good” outweighs the lives of the people who volunteer to protect these interests. Which for the most part, we do as a nation. And, for the most part, veterans assume that their ultimate sacrifice is  for something greater than themselves, and they face this with trepidation but ultimately nobility. 

But this post isn’t about whether it’s worth it to us as a nation. It’s about informed consent. Because while these men and women go in with the knowledge that they might die, they are not often informed that the emotional issues acquired during their stints may persist throughout the rest of their lives....  continue reading

"I Love You, I Hate This, SOMEONE HELP ME!" Caring for Caregivers

Friday, January 30, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

While caregiving can be rewarding, it also places a great deal of stress on those doing the caring. There will be days when you think, “I’m so glad I am able to care for mom and make her last years as comfortable as they can be.” And days when you are resentful of the fact that you have had to change your whole life and give up a good portion of your freedom to care for someone else. 

“I didn’t plan for this, mom. I need a life. I DESERVE A LIFE!” 

There are many costs of caring not the least of which is the emotional upheaval (more here in The Sexiness of Sadness). The grief from the loss of a life you thought you would have is another diversion on the roller coaster ride that is caregiving. And then there will be days you are downright depressed thinking about the future. “This is temporary. She will not be here forever.” And then you will feel even guiltier at the way you feel a tiny bit relieved at that last statement even as the grief threatens to tear you apart. 

And for people who care for a living — such as nurses, physicians and mental health professionals — the cost of caring can be emotional exhaustion and similar types of chronic stress. Most therapists didn’t go into the industry to do paperwork or deal with bureaucracy. Most nurses didn’t get into it for the charting. The amount of time spent on such things can be disheartening for those in the field, along with the strain of constantly seeing others in so much pain. 

Caregiving is not easy and it takes it’s toll on the people who do it, both professionally and otherwise.  There are things we can do about it (and check out the books under "Find Support and linked at the bottom of the post as well).  But first we need to talk about it. ...  continue reading

Anxiety versus Depression, Nature Versus Nurture, and Monkey F*cking Emails

Monday, January 26, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General


Emails are fun. Take this one for example, which started out with: "Why the fuck do you talk about monkeys all the time?"

It's a valid question, and to be honest, I like the ballsiness of the writer. So, let's do this. 

Because, friends, monkeys matter if we want to understand the interaction of environment, social influence and biomedical contributions to common mental health issues. This is especially true if we are trying to decide how genetics might be contributing to your depression or how early experiences with your mother contributed to your anxiety. Monkeys might help us decide what we should do about it. 

Clinical Assessment of Mental Illness and The 15% Principle

Shrinking it up takes looking at a million different variables in any one person. But, as the authors of Darwinian Psychiatry note, each larger category probably only explains around fifteen percent of the total picture1

Fifteen percent. That's way less than the percentage of the pot of coffee I am going to drink while writing this....  continue reading

Hurts So Good: One Woman's Struggle with Skin Picking Disorder

Friday, January 16, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

Excoriation, or skin picking disorder, is a condition categorized in the DSM-IV with not otherwise specified impulsivity issues such as trichotillomania (hair pulling/twirling), pyromania (fire starting) and kleptomania (stealing). Though it is usually identified as being on the obsessive compulsive spectrum, excoriation may come about for a number of reasons, discussed more in the post What is Skin Picking Disorder? Excoriation and Why You Should Avoid Rush Limbaugh

But insight matters and no one can describe the emotional impact of excoriation quite like one who suffers. So I have invited a friend of mine to share her experience. If you suffer from this condition, you are not alone....  continue reading

What is Skin Picking Disorder? Excoriation and Why You Should Avoid Rush Limbaugh

Monday, January 12, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

While many pick or scratch their skin, Excoriation (Skin-Picking) Disorder—sometimes known as Compulsive Skin Picking (CSP), Pathologic Skin Picking (PSP) or Dermatillomania—is present around 1.4% of the population1. The beginnings tend to be benign, a small injury or pimple that gets scratched or worried into a larger injury. With repeated picking of the scab, it remains itchy encouraging further picking to relieve it, and eventually becoming a habit. In hindsight, most note that they started picking after a stressful event or life change and may have subconsciously relied on the behavior as a way to reduce that strain. 

I know I get all picky when I listen to Rush Limbaugh. But I digress. 

Some women may find that these behaviors fluctuate with hormonal shifts, such as the menstrual cycle, and others have these behaviors begin around larger alterations such as menopause, suggesting that hormonal balance may play a role. There may also be genetic or environmental components that are as of yet undiscovered, as some animals also engage in self chewing, the non-opposable-thumb equivalent of skin picking and other compulsive behaviors. And those with anxiety disorders and depression might be especially vulnerable to these issues as a way to process excess stress....  continue reading

5 Reasons We Suck At New Year's Resolutions (And What To Do About It)

Friday, January 09, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

Let’s be clear up front: this is not an article about how to stick wholeheartedly to your resolutions. I won’t tell you to set your alarm across the room so you can’t hit snooze if your goal is to work out every morning. I won’t tell you to throw out all the cookies in the house because you gave up sugar “from now on.” 

Plus, life without cookies? Puh-lease.  Screw that noise. 

Here’s the thing, guys: resolutions are bound to fail. Resolutions come and go partially because no one really expects that they will stay for any length of time. It’s the ultimate joke for many. 

“Oh, you resolved to give up yoga pants? See you at the grocery store wearing Yogi’s special in a week, girl.”

It’s not your fault, though. It’s the way we approach the goals that somehow became critical at the first of the year when we were still coming out of that sugar and carb coma that makes the holidays so damn delightful.

“SO MUCH SUGAR! Staring January first, I’m never eating sugar again!”

Except you will. You know it too....  continue reading