Romanticizing Mental Illness, Kurt Cobain and Posterboys for Teen Angst

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

What happens when we emulate the behaviors of our favorite rock stars? 

The Nirvana Age was a prime example of the romanticization of mental illness, and one that stands out as particularly poignant to me as a child of this era.  Kurt Cobain spoke to us because we were broken too, the epitome of teen angst. He was an example of what a little bullied child could aspire to. He was proof that even a troubled little boy whose parents shuttled him from one home to another could find love in legions of fans. We heard his brokenness, saw his success and aspired to overcome as he had. 

But he hadn’t. And instead of acknowledging that this guy needed help, high school students embraced Smells Like Teen Spirit as their anthem. Like Robin Williams, we saw only what we wanted to in Kurt Cobain.

And we were wrong....  continue reading

"Don't Wear That!" The Evolutionary Roots of Daisy Dukes, Victim Blaming and Patriarchy

Monday, August 17, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

“Hey, Harry, put on longer shorts. You don’t want the neighbors talking.”  

“John, why don’t you wear a sweater over your tee-shirt?”

“Kyle, are you really wearing your ‘fuck me’ heels to the office? You’ll never be taken seriously dressing like that.”

We’ve got a lot of sexual baggage, ladies, and some of it revolves around what we wear. We are overtly, and subtly, told that our clothing choices can lead to attacks, to pain, to shame. Because our bodies are not a normal part of our existence. They are ticking time bombs. We must keep our sexuality under wraps, lest we get what we deserve; just this month a Virginia university demanded a rape victim provide a list of her past sexual partners. What in the actual fuck? 

MEN! Amiright, ladies?!? 

But, sexism and elements of fear and blame are also furthered by well-meaning women. And we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Without addressing our own role in the perpetuation of some of these elements, we are unlikely to be able to enforce real change, particularly in a culture where these elements are so ingrained that they are essentially invisible. ...  continue reading

From "I do," to "F*ck off": The Relationship Between Depression and Divorce

Monday, August 03, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

“As a therapist, some of my most satisfying treatments have begun with the suspicion that what looks like martial discord is best   conceptualized as depression in one or the other spouse,” says Dr. Peter Kramer.1 

In other words: “Want to leave? You might be fucking depressed.” 

Okay, okay, so that’s a loaded statement. But it might not be that far off. 

In the circumstance of relationship distress, mood disorders are a common thing. It has long been known that divorce can trigger depression. Part of this is because nearly any life stressor can cause symptoms to worsen in someone who has a depressive history. In men, divorce can even trigger a first episode, though women tend to have had at least one prior to the divorce itself10. In Against Depression, Peter Kramer notes that because women tend to (but not always) have deeper feelings surrounding relationships, they may set themselves up for additional losses inadvertently, which may partially explain the higher rates of depression in women2. Women also have the added burden of economic strain, as their standard of living tends to decrease following divorce while men’s increases. Which sucks giant lion balls and not the tiny shriveled dentist variety. (Asshole poacher burn.)

With the strain of fighting over child custody, the inherent loss of the relationship as well as overall alterations in lifestyle, it is not a surprise that divorce can lead to depression or anxiety. But what if, for some people, the depression comes first and leads to the divorce itself? What if the issues inherent in the relationships were colored by this depression in such a way as to make them seem hopeless leading to separation?...  continue reading

Is Racism a Mental Illness? Either Way, Screw Dylann Roof

Monday, June 22, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

Dylann Roof. Holy shit.

In the last week I have watched the media scramble to attribute the murders of nine innocent people to anything but racism. 

“It was an attack against religion, not blacks.”

“He was mentally ill. This isn’t a race issue.”

Yeah, it’s not like Roof flat out said, “I want to hurt black people.” Because if something like that happened, you’d look like a tool, Fox and Friends. 

Facepalm.

There is a fine line between what we consider psychological disorder and personality (more here). Roof was, and is, a racist motherfucker. But is he also mentally ill? 

I’m not talking about the lack of empathy it takes to gun down innocents in cold blood. I’m wondering whether racism, in and of itself, should be considered a mental illness. And this, my friends, is a complex question....  continue reading

Transraciality And Why Rachel Dolezal Is A F*cking Liar

Friday, June 19, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who climbed the ranks of the NAACP while posing as a black women. 

Now, maybe she is actually ill enough to believe that she’s black. Such is the nature of delusions, though an interview with a delusional individual would have gone more like:

Interviewer: “Are you African American?”

Delusional white person: “Hell yes I am!” 

And not: 

Interviewer: “Are you African American?”

Dolezal: (eye twitch, mouth stiffening) “I don’t understand the question.” 

You understood, lady. You might be a liar, but you aren’t stupid.

Let us put aside the fake father she put on social media. Let us ignore her dark-skinned brother she tried to pass of as her child. Let us also put aside the fact that Dolezal sued Howard University because she felt that African American students were given preference over her. She didn’t claim “but…I identify as black.” She said, “You discriminated against me because I am white.” Maybe it was true. The judge didn’t think so.

I would guess, based on what I know of her history, that she has a diagnosable condition, brought on by abuse and a severely dysfunctional early environment. There is also evidence that her parents outed her as white to discredit her as a witness against another family member who is currently accused of sexual assault. And I suspect that there is a part of her that feels justified in lying based on her experience with Howard. She can further justify her actions by acknowledging that she may not have been accepted had she applied to the NAACP as a white woman, and that regardless of how she got the job, she has done some first-rate work with the organization. Because of this, her stepping aside may or may not even be the best thing for all involved. But that’s not the issue at hand, is it? That’s not where our focus is as a nation. People want to know whether transraciality is really a thing, like transsexuality is a thing. 

Um, no. At least not the way Dolezal wants it to be.  ...  continue reading

How To Freak Yourself Out in Six Seconds Flat: Sensitization (and Other Causes of Anxiety)

Monday, June 15, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Anxiety

Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed at the thought of getting a work project done or making dinner? How about agitation at those around you for little cause? All of these things may be the result of an overly stressed system. Or not enough wine. But, probably, it's the stress. 

Too Much Stress Adds Up

The body and brain are wired to work together, which is why anxiety can be triggered either way. It's the difference between feeling anxious from that extra cup of coffee or anxious because you have to deliver a presentation; they both give you similar feelings, but with different root causes. 

However, that extra coffee in addition to a looming presentation can make things that much more difficult for the body to deal with. The project and the coffee become multiple slights to the same system. You get enough small stressful events and it doesn't take much more to reach panic levels. And that last little thing that triggers panic often makes people feel crazy or guilty when they find themselves having trouble breathing over something seemingly mundane....  continue reading